Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bride of ‘Kiss the Bride’!

‘Kiss the Bride’ (director, C. Jay Cox)
2007 / USA / 99 mins
Screened Saturday, July 12, 16:00 – Wald 9
& Sunday, July 20, 18:15 – Spiral Hall

The festival’s second weekend was all about star power, with the lead actors from three of our most popular films (‘Drifting Flowers’, ‘Kiss the Bride’ and ‘Out at the Wedding’) attending their respective screenings. The hunky stars of “Kiss the Bride’, James O’Shea and Philipp Karner, were treated to a long round of applause and uncharacteristically loud and enthusiastic hooting when they emerged from backstage after the film’s second screening (it has also screened the week before with director C. Jay Cox in attendance). And it wasn’t just gay guys who turned out to see them. They were equally set upon by female fans looking for autographs and pictures in the lobby afterward.

Once again, Nishimura-san hosted our Q&A session, for which we were also joined by director C. Jay Cox, looking relaxed and refreshed from his trip to south western Japan earlier in the week (see below for more details).

Nishimura-san: Thank you for coming. I’m Nishimura-san, and this is Raina, our interpreter for the evening. I’m sure many of you noticed Tori Spelling in this film. We haven’t seen here in a while so it’s nice to see her again. Unfortunately, she is not with us tonight, but we do have the director and the two hot stars who played Matt and Ryan in the film. Would you mind introducing yourselves briefly.

C. Jay: Hello, my name is C. Jay Cox. I’m the director of the film.

Philipp: I’m Philipp Karner – I played ‘Matt’. Thanks for having us in Tokyo, we’re having an amazing time.

James: [Speaking in a funny low, brooding voice] I’m James. I played the other character [Ryan]. Arigato. (laughter)

Nishimura-san: My first question is for the director. What inspired you to make this film with the messages it has about marriage and commitment and also sexual identity?

C. Jay: I liked that we don’t know where this story is going to go. Every character is going to re-evaluate themselves, and be revaluated by the audience, by the end of the film. I particularly liked the Alex character [played by Tori Spelling], because there is a fluidity to her, the way she comes to accept her partner’s past love affair with a man.

Nishimura-san: [addressing both actors] Was there anything interesting going on behind the scenes? Was it easy or difficult to play a gay role?

Philipp: Well, for starters, he [James] is crazy, which made it difficult. (laughter) No, we read our parts together months before shooting began. Working with Tori was a lot of fun; we were really lucky to get her… James likes to get naked a lot.

James: To expand on that idea that I like to get naked, firstly, it was in the script. The script required me to have my shirt off a lot of the time, so… But then, you know, it’s different for different types of shots. For close-ups, you don’t need to be naked. But for medium shots, every time they said ‘Action’, I would drop my pants. (laughter)

Philipp: I think that’s called ‘method acting’. (laughter)

Audience member: [To C. Jay] I really enjoyed the film, so thank you for that. What was your reason for choosing Tori Spelling for the role of Alex?

C. Jay: I think because of who her father was [legendary TV producer Aaron Spelling] she is underestimated as a person and as an actor, and the same is true of this character, so it was a good fit.

2nd audience member: I wanted to ask [the actors], when you worked on the film, did you develop any emotions for each other?

[Hamming it up for the audience, James and Philipp reached their arms out to one another and stared mock-lovingly into one another’s eyes, which the audience thoroughly enjoyed.]

Philipp: Of course you hope to make the relationship seem real while you are acting, and naturally you develop feelings for people when you are working closely together.

[James, once again clowning for the audience, put one hand into his shirt and pumped it out repeatedly, Bollywood-style, to show us his heart throbbing with affection for his co-star. The audience howled with laugher.]

Philipp: [To James, with mock sincerity] Baby…

James: We had chemistry, you know. We were both chosen early on. In the middle of filming, I hated his guts. But in the end, we’re friends… [To Philipp] I love you. (laughter)

3rd audience member: In the closing scene, when you have all three of the lead characters together, and as they explain their feelings for one another, what was the significance of each person expressing their feelings?

C. Jay: For me, the point is that commitment is more important than the label you put on a relationship. In the U.S. right now there is a lot of controversy over gay marriage, but I just feel that if your relationship is really strong, it doesn’t matter what you call it – or what society allows you to call it.

4th audience member: In this film there is some emphasis placed on the importance of friends and family in developing and supporting the relationship that becomes a marriage. Is that emphasis coming out of what’s been going on in the U.S. over the past few years [i.e. the debate surrounding gay marriage] or out of an ideal of how we would like to see our relationships recognized?

C. Jay: That’s a great question. You know, this is a romantic comedy, so partly it’s the romantic comedy ideal where everything is resolved and everyone is reconciled in the end. But the way our relationships are viewed by friends and family is of vital importance to us as individuals, which is why gay marriage is so controversial and so important.

5th audience member: Firstly, thank you for the wonderful movie. I gained a lot from it. The film touched on a lot of social issues, but as you say it is a romantic comedy. So how did you feel while directing and acting in a comedy that touches on such serious issues?

C. Jay: One of the things I liked about this project is that it touches on those issues. Certainly we wanted to make an entertaining film, but I liked that there is some substance there, but that it doesn’t hammer us over the head with those serious topics – it isn’t heavy handed.

6th audience member: This is kind of a broad question. Once you got this role, did you do anything to research it, like going to gay clubs or anything like that? And also, the film has already been shown theatrically in the U.S. When will it be available in DVD?

James: I did a lot of push-ups and sit-ups! (laughter)

Philipp: I’d been bartending in a gay bar for four years, so I didn’t need to do any research. The movie is now showing on a gay cable channel in the U.S., so lots more people are seeing it now, which is great.

C. Jay: The film will be out on DVD in the U.S. this fall, and should be available here shortly after that.

James: It was such a good script that it was easy to do without doing homework. As an actor you just have to apply yourself to an imaginary set of circumstances and make it as believable as you can. So that’s what I did. Plus the push-ups, because I am shirtless for three-quarters of the movie! (laughter)

Having thoroughly charmed our audience, the Q&A session with James, Phillip and C. Jay came to a close. But I caught up with them again in the lobby, after the mob of fans had settled down and dispersed, to catch short interviews with each of them. So have a look for that post here on the TIL&GFF blog.

But first…


As we mentioned last week, C. Jay arrived for the first screening of ‘Kiss the Bride’ on Saturday July 12, and then had half a week to kill before his stars arrived for the second screening. So being a writer and a man of the world, equipped with curiosity and a sense of adventure, C. Jay decided to head out and explore Japan on his own for a few days. Let’s find out how it went! (Ari-san, one of our programmers and MCs, also joined the conversation.

Guy: So how was your trip to Kyoto and Hiroshima?

C. Jay: Kyoto was amazing. My agent booked me into a Japanese room in a Western hotel, so I was sleeping on a nice futon with buckwheat pillows, which I love. The hotel also had a spa, and acupuncture, so I had that for the first time, which was great.

Guy: What did you do in the city? Probably visited lots of temples, right?

C. Jay: Yeah. Actually, as it happened, I was there during the Gion Matsuri. I sort of stumbled into it by accident.

Guy: Wow, that’s great! [The Gion Matsuri is an annual festival in one of the city’s temple districts to the east that easily ranks in the top 3 or 4 traditional festivals in Japan.]

Ari-san: So which was your favourite temple?

C. Jay: The one that’s set up on kind of a high cliff with falling water. I’m going to butcher the name…

Ari-san: Kiyomizu-dera.

C. Jay: Yeah, that’s it. Plus, of course, the Golden Temple [made famous by being burned to the ground by a crazed monk in the 1950s, a story later immortalized by queer Japanese author Mishima Yukio in his novel ‘Kinkaku-ji’ – The Temple of the Golden Pavilion]. There was also a really impressive one with a very high ceiling with a dragon painted on it and statues of 1,000 Buddhas. I actually walked into one just as it was closing for the day and the vice-abbot had changed out of his robes and was putting on running shoes to go for a jog! I had a nice little chat with him about Zen Buddhism for a while. And then, yeah, it was the Gion Festival at night and the huge parade during the day.

Guy: Did you have anyone to travel with?

C. Jay: No, I was all by myself, but you have interesting adventures that way. I got lost wandering around looking for a place to eat one night. So I found this little noodle house and ended up talking to the waitress for a long time. She got me to take out my map and she recommended which temples I should visit.

Guy: What about Hiroshima?

C. Jay: Hiroshima was very moving. I was only there for an afternoon, so I visited the bomb dome, the museum and the memorial site. I was in tears by the end. The personal stories in the museum really hit home for me. I grew up not far from where they did open-air nuclear testing in the U.S., and my relatives were exposed to the fallout from those tests.

Guy: There was a woman who spent 10 years researching a book on the history of this testing, and part of her thesis is that the U.S. government chose to do it where they did in part because the people who lived upwind of the tests were of a religious orientation that was disinclined to resist the government. I think she was talking about Mormons, which is ironic [Cox was raised as a Mormon, and of course his first feature as a director, ‘Latter Days’, is about a Mormon discovering his homosexuality].

C. Jay: Yeah, I mean I remember that when I was little a black government truck would drive up once a month and buy a galloon of our milk to test it for levels of radiation. I used to ask my parents, “If they are testing it for radiation, shouldn’t we be worried about this?” And their attitude was, ‘No, if was unsafe, the government would tell us.’

Perhaps that’s fodder for a future film of C. Jay’s. In any case, we had to cut our conversation a little short so I could squeeze in a quick interview with his two stars. But of all our guests, C. Jay really was one of the most gracious and giving of his time. We’re really glad he got to see more of Japan than just Tokyo, and look forward to welcoming him back with another film in the coming few years.

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