Interview: ‘Searching’ Writer Sev Ohanian Talks Social Media and the Writing Process

Searching stars John Cho, who makes history as the first Asian-American actor leading a Hollywood thriller. The film is innovatively told purely through screens, as a desperate father attempts to find his missing daughter.

While it could be argued that having a film set through screens is extremely limiting and can create an emotional block, Aneesh Chaganty (co-writer, director) and Sev Ohanian (co-writer, producer) execute certain techniques successfully, that other movies filmed in a traditional format, couldn’t. David Kim (John Cho) often types messages and then deletes them, which successfully bridges the gap between appearance vs reality; what David truly wants to say vs what he actually says.

One thing that continued to surprise me throughout Searching was the extent to which Chaganty and Ohanian understand the relationship teenagers have with social media. I’m not referring to the general “social media is bad” sentiment other filmmakers instill in the audience, but a more nuanced message: social media allows people to be themselves (to an extent) but is also extremely isolating. Margot and David’s relationship from the onset is grounded in tension and unfamiliarity as they try and navigate life without Margot’s mother, Pam. Death brings people closer together, but the sad reality is that sometimes it does the exact opposite.

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Jewels Under the Kitchen Sink – The Rocky Path to Healing in ‘Céline’

This piece is part of a series called Jewels Under the Kitchen Sink. Here we try to bring films, that have been overlooked during their time or were (despite their distinctive and timely nature) somehow forgotten, back onto the radar. It’s an attempt at reaching into the dusty niches of time and fishing some true gems out of there. We hope to peak your interest towards some of these films, so they can be reintroduced into today’s film discussion.

I stumbled over Jean-Claude Brisseau’s Céline per accident on Youtube, soon realizing that its presence online borders on non-existence. The rather small amount of voices that I could find, seemed to show an unusually big admiration for the utterly forgotten 1992 Berlin Film Festival competition entry. Descriptions of the film struck a chord with me and how I felt at the moment, and I took a chance on it.

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Cèline (1992) – directed by Jean-Claude Brisseau. All Right Reserved.

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There is a rather simple base narrative at play here: A nurse named Geneviéve offers Céline – a young, distraught woman – a drive home. When they arrive there, Céline tries to take the first chance to kill herself. Geneviéve prevents her suicide and starts to take care of Céline. They start a healing process – together, as Geneviéve struggles herself.

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The Futility of Ideals in Greta Gerwig’s Screenwriting

For many of us, the world sets unrealistic expectations of being materially or academically successful at a young age, leaving behind a lingering emptiness for the rest of our lives when we fail to achieve that in our 20s, maybe even our 30s. It’s the heavy wistfulness of wishing you were more, and the resonating regret because you weren’t. So we keep on chasing an ideal just within reach, but never losing the race. 

The films co-written by Greta Gerwig explore what it’s like to be trapped in this liminality, exposing the futility of dedicating your efforts to create a place you can call your own, only to look around and realise it doesn’t exist. Continue reading “The Futility of Ideals in Greta Gerwig’s Screenwriting”

Tribeca Film Festival ’18: Curtain Raiser

This Thursday marks the beginning of the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, and it’s bound to be a thrilling two weeks in lower Manhattan. With a variety of events and screenings, Tribeca stands out as a festival that explores different types of filmmaking, especially in its inclusion of virtual reality. In light of the Me Too movement, the festival is also hosting a Time’s Up event to further the conversation about sexual harassment in Hollywood, though the festival seems to be taking initiative in including women in film with the many films by female-filmmakers featured in the line-up. This year’s festival looks to be a phenomenal one, so here are a few recommendations.

 

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Woman Walks Ahead ©A24 and DirectTV

 

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Netflix v. Theatrical Release: An Essay

Recently, legendary director Steven Spielberg went on record stating that he believes that films premiered on streaming services like Netflix should be considered TV movies eligible for Emmys rather than Oscars. This topic isn’t new as the Cannes Film Festival has had issues with Netflix Originals. Attempting to differentiate films by their distribution, however, will lead to a dangerous, elitist territory in Hollywood.

 

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The Incredible Jessica James ©Netflix

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Films That Made Us Happy: The Shape of Water

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When my turn came to write for “Films That Made Us Happy” series, I had only one film in my mind: The Shape of Water. It is not only my favourite film of the year (in a tie with Terence Davies’ A Quiet Passion) but it is also the one that made me feel a way that is impossible to explain with words – which is why I wrote five drafts of this piece, each one somehow more inadequate than the other to convey how I felt.

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Pottersville: The Worst Christmas Film of This Decade

PottersvilleJust when you thought Christmas movies couldn’t get worse than Christmas with the Kranks, here comes this film to take the title of “most mean spirited Christmas movie ever made.”

There’s bad movies, then there’s bad Christmas movies, and then there’s Pottersville, a movie so full of bad decisions that you’d think you were watching a live adaptation of Brendan Frasier’s acting career. For a film with such a huge and popular cast, it feels very cheap and sloppily thrown together. This so called “Christmas Film” really has nothing to do with Christmas or the Christmas spirit until the end of the film when they try to sloppily throw together a message about loving and appreciating one another. Everything about this film is just wrong, from the writing, to the acting, to the portrayal of furries, which I will definitely get to, to the strange and off-putting look of the film.

In case you haven’t heard of this monstrosity, Pottersville is a film about a man, very lazily played by Michael Shannon, who in response to his wife’s infidelity, decided to dress up as Bigfoot and run around his local town of Pottersville in a drunken rage. In response to this, everyone in the town believes they actually saw Bigfoot, because in the universe of Pottersville, everyone is too stupid to distinguish the difference between a rubber mask and fucking Bigfoot! In response to all of these Bigfoot sightings, the town of Pottersville begins attracting a lot of attention, and chaos ensues. Sounds AMAZING, right? Well, if this didn’t look like an ABC Family original series from 2006, maybe it could’ve been interesting. But instead, what we get is a contrived and awful mess of badly timed humor, wooden performances, and an all around terrible film.

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