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More about Gypo--review and film festival appearances
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Teri



Joined: 04 Feb 2006
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Location: Sussex, WI USA

PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 9:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

emay wrote:
I'm not sure who will see him in this film, since so far it's being marketed to gay and lesbian film festivals, which further isolates it. I know Brokeback Mountain was an unexpected huge success for a gay-themed movie, but its main characters are more typically photogenic than the ones in Gypo.

I'm somewhat ignorant about this stuff, but doesn't an actor's agent ever just send out copies of an exceptional piece of work to various filmakers, directors, casting directors--anyone pertinent, just to get their client noticed? Or is that not done? Shocked

I would think filmakers would regularly check out many sources like small film festivals, etc., in search of talent, wouldn't you? Who knows, the current notoriety of Brokeback Mountain could even have a domino effect for Gypo, causing film makers to pay more attention to the gay and lesbian festivals, you never know. Smile
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emay
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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 11:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Teri wrote:
I'm somewhat ignorant about this stuff, but doesn't an actor's agent ever just send out copies of an exceptional piece of work to various filmakers, directors, casting directors--anyone pertinent, just to get their client noticed? Or is that not done? Shocked


I think they do that, Teri. Or maybe the actor speaks up for himself or herself. I remember reading that Jeff Daniels wanted some part that he was judged inappropriate for, and he kept telling the director to check out his performance in Squid and the Whale. I think he eventually got the part he wanted. And at Gallifrey this past February, Louise Jameson (who plays Leela in Doctor Who) said she was going to do some networking in order to get herself back into a TV series soon. By comparison, I'm not sure how avidly Paul pursues things. Maybe he waits to see what comes to him.

Quote:
Who knows, the current notoriety of Brokeback Mountain could even have a domino effect for Gypo, causing film makers to pay more attention to the gay and lesbian festivals, you never know. Smile


I read somewhere that some company was thinking about making more gay-themed movies based on the success of Brokeback Mountain. However, I suspect they might be using pretty boys and girls. Jan Dunn made Gypo as a ticket to bigger and better things. And now she's got funding to do another Dogme style movie with Bob Hoskins, certainly a bigger named actor than either Paul McGann or Pauline McLynn. I wonder what the Gypo actors have gotten out of doing the film.

Estelle
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Down East



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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 3:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DISTRIBUTION
GYPO is to have US and UK theatrical release.
US distributor Wolfe have yet to confirm dates.
UK distributor Redbus is to release GYPO in June 2006.

And...

An excellent interview with Jann Dunn about the making of Gypo.

Scroll down to find the specifics on Gypo. It's a very good interview.

http://shootingpeople.org/shooterfilms/interview.php?int_id=53

Here are a few bits...

Briefly, what is the story of GYPO?

It’s about breakdown of a relationship between this middle-aged couple who have been married for 25 years, which is really catapulted into their own attention by this young Czech refugee girl who is introduced to the family by their daughter.

And then all begins to change...

Yeah, My premise has always been that Helen, who is the main story – the lead if you like – Helen is seeking change and desperate for change and doesn’t really know how to put that into effect. And Paul her husband is completely and utterly fearful of any change and all of his fear comes from not wanting to see any change in his life.

because I knew I wanted to shoot a film that had social realism as a genre, if you like, for want of a better word. I wanted a social realism feel to the film and I wanted it to be naturalistic and I wanted it to be about real people and I very much wanted it to be about a working class family… who do not necessarily live on a council estate; I am so bored with that. Real blue collar workers, as they would refer to them in America. Everyday folk; a story about real people.

--So this is a women’s story if you like --

The cast were fed; fed the information they had to deliver in their dialogue. In some instances there were specific lines, but it was up to the actors to create their own dialogue.

Well, continuity could be such an issue, really...
I think the actors were a little bit lost at times and I think most of the crew were possibly a little bit lost at times, but the great thing was - particularly with actors of the calibre of Paul McGann – he just gave himself up to me if you like; completely gave a leap of faith.

That must have been wonderfully reassuring for you as a director.

It was. It was a wonderfully creative shooting environment and Paul was very positive about it. He completely trusted what I was telling him when we shot; completely trusted me and went with it. I didn’t want him to see the film at home on a VHS, so it wasn’t until we went to Edinburgh that he came to see it on the big screen – and he was completely blown away by it.
He said he was very proud he had been there for us.

I think there are three confessions that I have got, which I’ll reveal in the DVD…


Some spoilers there.....

Hey, a DVD! I'd like to see the outtakes and how the film was made, extras or a commentary audio.

And that is called being creative. It was a very strong cast that you assembled – no big budgets though, so was this an easy film to cast? Were you able to attract actors of this calibre without a big budget, when you simply couldn’t offer them a lot of money?

Getting Paul McGann and Rula Lenska and Pauline McLynn was key.---I’m absolutely astounded to be able to tell you, quite truthfully, that these were my three first choice people.

Excellent – and what about the approach to the actor who was your first choice, Paul McGann, for the role of Helen’s husband. How did that approach go?

Well, by the time we went to Paul MacGann, we already had Pauline McLynn and Rula Lenska on board, so you get an actor like Paul agreeing to meet you because you already have these other actors who have said yes. So they all basically did it for an Equity minimum and Paul was really fantastic. He said “You do realise that I don’t really want to play this character very sympathetically?” I said, “That’s fantastic – it’s just what I would have wanted you to say!!” Of course this is a very unsympathetic character and of course actors always try to find the sympathy within a character. But Paul didn’t think his character Paul was a very nice person, which is great because it is Dogme, and observational and you take your personal taste out and he was completely in tune with that. He just played this man for who he is, which is great. And I absolutely think he does the most stunning performance.


What exactly is a council estate?
Does it mean a beautiful country estate?
Or does it mean, being on welfare?
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Down East



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PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2006 5:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think this must be a fine, fine film.

I'm really hoping to someday see it on the big screen.
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emay
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PostPosted: Mon May 22, 2006 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Down East wrote:
He said he was very proud he had been there for us.


His performance is great, even if his character is unpleasant. And he invests him with little crudities like chewing his food with his mouth open and looking sullen and suspicious most of the time. However, he still has a rare sympathetic moment.

Quote:
I think there are three confessions that I have got, which I’ll reveal in the DVD…


Oh, I'm glad there'll be a DVD with input from Jan Dunn. Smile

Quote:
What exactly is a council estate?
Does it mean a beautiful country estate?
Or does it mean, being on welfare?


It's public housing with all the stigma attached. Paul and Helen are working class but not on welfare.

Joanne, thank you very much for posting this interview.

Estelle
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Down East



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PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2006 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are most welcome, Estelle.

I thought it a great interview. I'd love to see what Jan Dunn has to say on the DVD.

I don't mind that Paul's character is a suspicious, open-mouthed chewing lout...as long as he's a lout in a film that's worth watching, and I think Gypo is.

This seems to be a film of substance, something...real, that hits a nerve.

I'm glad you liked the film, Estelle. That's a very good sign.
I have a feeling that I will too.
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emay
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2006 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's another review from Showreel (http://www.showreel.org/memberarea/article.php?101):





Back to basics

Stella Sims talks to director Elaine Dunn (sic) about the challenges involved in making her award-winning debut feature, Gypo, the first certified British Dogme movie.

publication: www.showreel.org Article first published: Autumn 2005

Gypo centres around an everyday family in Margate and how they are affected by the arrival of Czech immigrants into their community. Dealing head on with the issue of asylum seekers in the UK, it tells the same story from the family’s three widely different perspectives – the father (Paul McGann), the mother (Pauline McLynn) and their daughter (newcomer Chloe Sirene)[sic]. This is director Jan Dunn’s debut feature and she has gained critical admirers for the film’s intense and realistic feel.

But arguably one of the main reasons Gypo has got people talking is that it is the first certified British Dogme film. Says Jan: “We just made it into Ten Years of Dogme – they talk about brothers of Dogme all the time, but I now consider myself one of the ‘sisters’ of Dogme.”

The vow of chastity

In early 1995, two Danish filmmakers Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg got together to “start a new wave” and drew up a 10-point filmmaking manifesto entitled The Vow of Chastity. Angry at the state of modern cinema, they believed feeling and depth were being lost beneath post-production gloss and superficiality, and demanded a purer and simpler approach to making films. Aiming to “force the truth out of characters and settings,” The Vow Of Chastity stated that, among other things, the film must be shot using only a handheld camera, on location with no outside props or artificial lighting. In addition, sound must be recorded with the images, never in post-production, while music must not be used unless it occurs live in the scene. Special effects and gratuitous, showy action are forbidden, while the rules also reject the ‘genre movie’ and the director’s ego, stating that the director must not be credited. Vinterberg and Von Trier released the first two Dogme films respectively in 1998 – Festen (The Celebration) and the now notorious Idioterne (The Idiots).

Other Danish filmmakers were fast to join the Dogme collective. In 1999 Sřren Kragh Jacobsen released his Mifune’s Sidste Sang, while Kristian Levring and Lone Scherfig followed in 2000 with The King of Alive and Italiensk For Begyndere (Italian For Beginners). Rather than seeing the rules as a limitation, compliant directors felt that Dogme stripped them of many clunky filmmaking peripherals, allowing them to concentrate on the creativity and dramatic elements of filmmaking. While the last 10 years in Danish cinema has since been referred to as the Age of Dogme, the phenomenon also permeated the rest of the globe – around 34 Dogme films have been made, with only 10 being Danish. In 2002, the Dogmesecretariat website stated that it would be closing because Dogme had become a genre in itself – one of the things most forbidden. Von Trier and Vinterberg have gone on to find more recent mainstream success with Dogville and Dear Wendy. While some critics call Dogme a short-lived publicity stunt, it is generally acknowledged that the movement stamped its mark on world cinema and inspired new and unconventional methods of filmmaking. With its fervent declaration of rebellion, Dogme remains an exciting part of film history that has grabbed the attention of filmmakers such as Jan Dunn. One of The Vow Of Chastity’s stipulations is that the film must take place “in the here and now.” This, along with other aspects of its technique, has made Dogme a useful filmmaking method for filmmakers interested in exploring the state of modern humanity, making a very immediate and realistic comment about society as it is. It is perhaps fitting therefore, that Jan Dunn has chosen to use Dogme to shine an uncompromising light upon a very topical subject and put the asylum issue under the microscope. While the Dogme method throws up many challenges for producing a deliverable and watchable film, Gypo’s realism is heightened by the unflinching nature of the Dogme camera and production process.

The decision to go Dogme

So what made Jan consider making a Dogme film? “I met Elaine [Wickham, producer] through Screen South’s new talent initiative,” she says. “I suggested I write something using the local contentious asylum-seeking issues as a backdrop to the story. If it was to be a gritty, social-based drama, I suggested that it could suit Dogme. Elaine got very excited immediately – I didn’t know her very well then and didn’t realize she was a huge Dogme fan and knew a lot more about the whole ethos than I did. We didn’t know until a few weeks later when we had a meeting with David Nielsen, the Dogme advisor in Copenhagen, that we would be the first UK dogme film.”

Jan considered that the Dogme way of making films was particularly useful for the themes they were exploring. “I planned from the beginning that the film would be quite raw and would certainly use hand-held camera; with the social realism of the piece it just seemed obvious to shoot a Dogme film. The stripping down of technicalities encourages the use of more domestic environments and in that sense it suits family dysfunction and character-driven stories, which is certainly the case with Festen and Julien Donkey Boy. It was fantastic that Elaine was such a champion for Dogme because the production values sometimes limit the exploitation ability of a feature film. Fortunately it hasn’t stopped distributors picking up Gypo. In many ways it was creatively liberating – but I won’t shoot a Dogme film again.”

Jan comes from an acting background, mostly in theatre. She made her first short in 1997. She feels that being an actor has really helped when it comes to basic storytelling skills and working with actors. “I feel these are the most important skills a director should have,” she says.

It took just eight weeks from Jan and Elaine’s initial chat about Gypo to the first day of principal photography. “We have a very similar gung-ho, ‘let’s just go ahead anyway’ attitude. We argue all the time, but our arguments always conclude positively. We seem to find ways to meet in the middle for the greater good. It is total collaboration.”

Gypo was made out of frustration and with no funding support – distribution came only once they had a completed film. “Interest in me because of the earlier features I’d been attached to meant our first screening at The Hospital in London was packed with some really excellent industry people. We signed with sales agent Swipe Films, and then with Redbus for distribution. Swipe has sold it to several overseas territories already, including the all-important US.”

“I’d worked with Pauline McLynn before on a short comedy,” recalls Jan. “There is so much more to her than Mrs Doyle [from Father Ted], so I wanted to write the part of Helen for her – it’s a very dramatic role and she carries the film. I’d originally written the role of the father with Paul McGann in my head and we arranged to meet with him over coffee. He engaged in the conversation straight away. He was a little apprehensive about the improvised dialogue because he hadn’t really done much of that before, but he got completely into it – wanting very little rehearsal. His performance is amazing.

“I colour-coded the script with a colour for each day so the actors wouldn’t get confused about what they were wearing on what day, because there’s no art department. Other than this, the Dogme rules didn’t really affect them. They were more concerned with improvised dialogue, which is nothing to do with Dogme, but how I designed the script. Elaine and I call it ‘spontaneous dialogue’. Every other problem anyone, including the actors, had was entirely budget related.”

Editing

Editor Emma Collins had the biggest headache. This was not just to do with Dogme rules of all sound having to be shot to picture, but also because Jan had designed a script with improvised dialogue. “Emma and I talked a lot about the scenes we knew would be problematic. She got editing the dinner sequence straight away as it was shot quite early. With a single camera and five people eating, handheld camera and spontaneous dialogue, she knew this would be tough, but she did such a great job it’s pretty much still intact from her first rough assembly of it.

“Michelle Mascoll was our sound engineer, but I think she had an absolute nightmare because she’s used to having complete control over sound and making it perfect in post, but of course the Dogme rules say everything has to be shot to picture with no laying in post. She’s very good at what she does but because it’s Dogme, ultimately the film won’t sound great.”

Dogme forbids using artificial light other than a small camera-mounted lamp. “Our cinematographer is Danish and it’s his first Dogme too, so he really wanted to stick to the rules. All I cared about was that the audience see what’s going on. There are three different revelatory stories in the film and I wanted a completely different look in each of them. We shot HD and Jacob designed specifications of grading on a chip in the camera. Dogme forbids grading in post or using special opticals, and Jacob had a long conversation with David Nielsen in Copenhagen to discuss if this would be permitted. David thought it was an ingenious way to work with the rules. I think under Dogme constraints, Jacob has shot the film beautifully.”

One particular scene caused problems with the rulebook. “There is a blow-job scene in the film which was shot in the dark, so we parked the van under a street lamp and Jacob attached his camera light (the one we are allowed) but when we saw the rushes it looked floodlit – completely inappropriate – and I made a decision to grade down to make it look like it’s night. We didn’t have any other problems during production apart from bringing a prop, a prosthetic penis, instead of using Paul McGann’s real one in the blow-job scene [in Dogme props must not be brought in from outside the location]. I didn’t even ask him if we could do it for real, maybe I should have. We dressed the caravan with some Christmas props, which were at the hotel where the crew were staying, so they were available at the location and that’s OK by Dogme.”

The first public performance of Gypo was at the San Francisco Frameline Film Festival, where it won best first feature award. At the end of August 2005 it was shown several times at the Edinburgh Festival, where it was selected for the Michael Powell best feature.

“I come from a theatre background,” says Jan, “where I have worked on plays with no props and minimal lighting, so this was not an unusual step for me to take. I have learnt how important it is to have a film you can sell when you’ve completed it; no matter how great the story is, you need to have some level of standard on production values. I hope we achieved this with Gypo under very constrained circumstances. We’re shooting the next film, Ruby Red Chequer this year and hope to have a completed film ready for Cannes 2006.

The article gets a couple of names wrong at the beginning. F'rinstance, Jan Dunn is the director and Elaine Wickham the producer of Gypo. And Chloe Sirene plays Tasha, the refugee girl.

Estelle
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Down East



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PostPosted: Sat Jun 24, 2006 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Overall, I liked this film very much.

I liked seeing it from the different points of view.

Funny, it's never really mentioned in any reviews, but pared down from everything else going on, I think what we have is a basic love triangle.
Don't you think?

It could be seen as a love triange, if one were reaching that far, given the way the film is put together. It's not really dealt with like a typical love triangle, though. Maybe it was so subconcious a thing that Jann Dunn didn't even notice she was setting one up.

I kind of see it that way.

A married couple not connecting anymore, a third person arriving at their most weakest point, presenting an opportunity, a way out, an escape to what might appear as something better or more tolerable. Or, the third person might be looked upon as giving them something they feel is lacking within their marriage or in their own life. That hardly ever works with people. People have to find the component lacking in themselves first and deal with it. No one can complete the void or emptiness within oneself. However, Helen is already in the beginning stages of searching for self fulfillment before she ever meets Tasha.

Either way. There's a love triangle of sorts.

It could have been Paul's character, with the same needs as Helen, who Tasha provides the same opportunity to. But in this instance, it's Helen.

I think it would have been a much stronger plot as a love triangle, if certain aspects of the triangle were made known to the other two characters: Paul and Kelly, but it wasn't presented that way and the plot wasn't necessarily the element that makes hte film what it is. It's more....pastiches of color, layers upon layers and emotions.

Some thoughts:

In Helen's POV, her voice is smoother, gentler, especially when she has scenes with the grandbaby alone. She's a nice, giving person who is unappreciated and harried. She's starving for affection and love.

In Paul's POV, Helen's voice is harsh, nagging, grating. Paul is also put upon--being left with his grandbaby after working all day, unappreciated, finds little meaning in anything, especially his family, he has no direction and is starving for the same love and affection and understanding.

Tasha's POV, she finds Helen as nice, intriguing, kind after her turbulent life and precarious situation. She views Paul as ignorant, bigoted, cold, suspicious. But Tasha basically has it together, no matter what happens. She's sure of herself and what she's trying to do.

And I'm still thinking of Tasha's being of Gypsy,Romani heritage. It still brings to mind the mythical Gypsy lifestyle, a people who for centuries moved around, took life as it comes...with a sense of freedom, unbound by the outside world's rules and restrictions....that's still a factor in this story, to me. That's what Tasha represents to me, as she comes upon Helen and Paul, stuck in their miserable unchanging world.

SPOILERS!

I thought the art class scene with Helen was hilarious. Helen's having to explain to the art instructor the face she carved in the stone....and his nodding in polite bafflement over what he's looking at and being told what it is, and at the same time trying to be encouraging...it was very well done. Bravo!

Then, when Helen later shows her drawings to Paul, he laughs. It's almost a bitter laugh---a laugh that's hard to discern. It's not a scoff...but to me, something other. I think this is a pivital scene between them and in the film, at least I thought so. It's the only scene where Paul smiles in the entire film--I think.

We never actually get to see Helen's drawings--but I guess we are to assume they're not very good, though Tasha said she liked them. Of course she would, she has a crush on Helen.

Paul gives her no encouragement in her art whatsoever. All he does do, is laugh, and then he says something like....as if giving advice on something she ought to know that he's privy to...."You just don't get it, do you?"
He doesn't say anything like..."It's utter crap! Give it up, don't waste your time!" No, he doesn't say any of those things. He just laughs, like he knows something she doesn't.

I'm wanting to hear more out of that scene, especially from Paul...what he's trying to tell her or to us-- or himself? Before he says anything more, Helen quickly responds defensively with something like..."Why are you putting me down when all I want to do is improve myself, do something that makes me feel good about myself...."

He should then have apologized and said he understands...something a little nicer with a follow up about whatever he meant. But he doesn't. he lacks a few social skills and grace.

Anyway, I was wondering if what he was trying to say, or meant by his laughter was much more than personal derision directed towards Helen's artwork or about her personally, which was how it is perceived. I was thinking it was something that goes beyond the two of them, like the human condition as he sees it but can't articulate. He certainly feels trapped and pushed to the limit, though he says little about it.

What I thought he meant was...doing art is a luxury for the rich to dabble in....and people like us...working folks without a penny don't have the time and money to waste on being dreamers. That they can't afford the luxury of deluding themselves with pipe dreams of something better or you'll only be that much more disappointed when it fails. It's like he feels crushed and ground down by what life has dealt him and he knows no way of making it better. He's depressed! Anyway, that's the kind of thing I thought he meant, through Paul's interpretation of that scene. But Helen reacted to him as he had put her down, which is the most obvious reaction anyone in that situation might have. Who could blame her?

They didn't understand one another nor could they make themselves understand what they were feeling, and hadn't for a very long time. He can't communicate to her his frustration at living an unrewarding life and being stuck in a nowhere job and so ground down that he sees it as futile to dream of a better life.

It made me think of the book by Upton Sinclair, The Jungle. Where the married imigrant couple, Ona and Jurgis have been working so hard for so little that they're no longer able to even speak to each other. They just work, eat, sleep so that they could get up in the morning and do it all over again--for less than nothing. That was pretty powerful stuff. For they loved each other, but they couldn't even muster up enough energy to talk after a while. That kind of ground down despair.

Like this from The Jungle:

"Ona too was falling into a hiabit of silence---Ona, who had once gone about singing like a bird. She was sick and miserable, and often she would barely have enough strength to drag herself home. And there they would eat what they had to eat, and afterward, because there was only their misery to talk of, they would crawl into bed and fall into a stupor and never stir until it was time to get up again and dress by candlelight, and go back to the machines---It was a thing scarcely to be spoken--a thing never spoken by all the world, that will not know its own defeat.
They were beaten; they had lost the game, they were swept aside. It was not less tragic because it was so sordid, because it had to do with wages and grocery bills and rents. They had dreamed of freedom; of a chance to look about them and learn something; to be decent and clean, to see their child grow up to be strong. And now it was all gone--it would never be. They had played the game and they had lost. They were lost, they were going down--and there was no deliverance for them, no hope; for all the help it gave them the vast city in which they lived might have been an ocean waste, a wilderness, a desert, a tomb. So often this mood would come to Ona, in the nightime, when something wakened her; she would lie, afraid of her own heart. Once she cried aloud, and woke Jurgis, who was tired and cross. After that she learned to weep silently--their moods so seldom came together now! It was as if their hopes were buried in separate graves.
Jurgis, being a man, had troubles of his own. There was another specter following him. He had never spoken of it--he had never acknowleged its existence to himself. Yet the battle with it took all the manhood that he had--and once or twice, alas, a little more. He had discovered drink---His dead self would stir in him, and he would find himself laughing and cracking jokes with his companions--he would be a man again, and master of his life. Afterward, when he saw the despair of his family, and reckoned up the money he had spent, the tears came to his eyes, and he began the long battle with the specter. It was a battle that had no end, that never could have one. He simply knew that he was always fighting. Steeped in misery and despair he was---He would have ugly moods, when he hated Ona and the whole family, because they stood in his way. He was a fool to have married; he had tied himself down, had made himself a slave. It was all because he was a married man that he was compelled to stay in the yards; if it had not been for that he might have gone--And for Jurgis, he was expected to bring home every penny; he could not even go with the men at noontime--he was supposed to sit down and eat his dinner on a pile of fertilizer. This was not always his mood, of course; he still loved his family. But just now was a time of trial.--So he would carry on, becoming half hysterical himself, which was an unbearable thing to see in a big man; Ona would pull herself together and fling herself into his arms, begging him to stop, to be still, that she would be better, it would be all right. So she would lie and sob out her grief upon his shoulder, while he gazed at her, as helpless as a wounded animal, the target of unseen enemies."

It would have been a first step to their growing closer together. But it's not in his character to say such things that perhaps can't be spoken of, and the story isn't supposed to go that way. So all he says is..."You just don't get it..."

Nope, she doesn't. That's what Paul should tell her, but can't tell her. Those unspoken things. He's overhwhelmed by the whole thing himself.
The futile existence---not being able to turn it around, perhaps loosing his manhood, and not being the master of his own life, as Upton Sinclair says.

In the early bedroom scene:

And you have to figure, this sort of thing had been going on for maybe quite some time.

In Helen's point of view, in a rough manner, he takes her without consent, without any consideration or affection shown to her. She grimmaces and puts up with it, counting the seconds till it's over. It's over pretty quick, seems loveless and he doesn't even give her one kiss or caress....just a sense of his showing his power or possession over her, by the way he holds her wrists down and looks down at her face, to see how she is reacting to his possession and power over her, at least it looks like that. She, of course, feels used and abused by his lack of affection and love--In Helen's POV, he seems to want to make known to her and maybe to himself, that there's at least one thing in his life that he has control of, but at what cost! That's what his intentful stare meant to me.

...in Paul's point of view, there's a similar scene in which he sort of snuggles over to her side of the bed, and nuzzles Helen's back, letting her know he's in the mood---and it's the closest thing to his being affectionate toward her in the entire film. But Helen rejects his sexual advances with a harranging voice. "Get off!" He listens. Get's off. And he rolls over on his back, to his side, feeling rejected and frustrated and miserable.

I wonder if both those scenes in tow different POV's were the same incident, but seen differently through both eyes, or two entirely different incidents?

Both scenes show that neither understands what the other needs, feels, or wants. They are unable to communicate or express their feelings to one another. They are incapable of it. They're both lost in the same world.

So it's not surprising to me (In Paul's POV) to see him paying a prostitute for her services. Which seems like a "oh--what the hell....kind of thing. What does it matter, anyhow?" He doesn't seem to enjoy it at all, either...no different from him eating that cheese sandwich on the run, or that quick dart game. It's just another way of getting through another day. It means nothing. He's always on the run. Catching a tiny bit of pleasure while he could, if you could call it that.

He slumps down in the sofa, looking very miserable.

To me, the strongest theme running through the film was that of finding fulfillment, meaning, recognition and value. Paul can't find it, nor does he know how to make it understood between the two of them. Actually that could be the theme for those two characters. Helen sort of knows what she needs and wants, and isn't getting it. Tasha is a complete person from the begining. Although she lives in a precarious situation, she seems very well adjusted and happy with herself.

Paul's character is unable to express what he needs nor is he exactly aware of it, which is why he behaves the way he does--he reacts. He's not at the stage of emotional awareness that Helen seems to be at. Helen is ready for something, for a change. When she begins to get positive feedback from Tasha, who seems to admire her very much from the begininng, she eventually responds to it like a flower to sunshine.


Paul never finds completeness with himself or with anyone by the end of this film. Which makes the last scene in his POV, make sense, sadly. He's so lost and in dispair, that suicide looks like an appealing alternative, as if there was nothing worse than what he's been living through and nothing was ever going to change. And worse than that...that it didn't matter.

This guy is in pain. I mean, that scene of him contemplating suicide. Send him to a shrink!

Helen has a family who doesn't appreciate her, or understand that there's more to her than wife, mother and housekeeper. Well, ditto for Paul's character too. We haven't seen whether Helen has shown her affection for Paul's character. Maybe he needed a few compliments or whatever....from her, Helen coming on to him, showing she wanted him.

No, I'm not trying to defend Paul's character, but it always takes two. It's just that they both seem to be in the same situation. Helen is a little more willing to try and change, and Paul's character isn't there yet.

Very early on, Dunn shows Tasha's interest in Helen. Tasha is always smiling at her with glowing eyes whenever she looks at and talks to Helen. So it comes as no surprise that she makes her crush or interest in Helen known to her. Helen is surprised and a little shocked when Tasha kisses her for the first time.

Maybe because it's not unusual in the USA to see people of many different nationalities in any given place, well, usually more so in urban areas....but Tasha and her Mum don't really visually stand out to me as looking different from anyone else on the street that they should get ridiculed, picked on and physically assaulted. I mean, you wouldn't notice them on the street and instantly think...immigrant, or Gypo, as being very different. And even so....so what? (Maybe I missed something in the dialogue the teens had on the street.) Tasha is very attractive. If I was doing this scene, I'd have the boys on the street first talk to her as if to show off and flirt, and then when they heard her accent, they'd make whatever conclusions about her and her mother. Anyway, they pretty much blend in easy, to my eyes. It would be more believable if the gang on the street, had known they were immigrants beforehand and associated them with...taking jobs away or something, which makes them go after them hatefully. That, I guess, is the only thing that I had a hard time with.

Paul's character uses the excuse of their being immigrants as his justification for being mean and insulting to Tasha. He was wierd when he let the bad guys know about Tasha and her mother. Like he had found a way to get revenge on his wife's lover. I don't know, that was wierd.

At the dinner table, and whenever Tasha is there, he stares at her and angrily vents about immigrants, while hiring one to work for his business.

Again, he's at the end of his rope, it seems, financially and emotionally. He hasn't previously considered hirng undocumented labor before this. Suddenly, he decides, why not? Is it because his wife is maybe having an affair with one? But I don't think it sits very well with him--and not just because it's probably against the laws....

Tasha and her mother have gotten their passports, so they're pretty much legally there. But I think they're mindset isn't used to that status yet. They're still afraid of being sent back.

Back to the love triangle.

If a few scenes were done slightly differently, one might even construe that Paul's insulting venom toward Tasha is the result of his jealousy towards Tasha as his romantic rival. We might presume that Helen has said nothing but great things about Tasha to Paul at home. And likewise, maybe Paul has picked up on some vibes between them. He certainly stares at Tasha enough to pick up if Tasha was staring at Helen, and visa versa. But that's not really shown. Or perhaps, he's picking it up without realizing it and reacts to Tasha as one would a rival for his wife, on an unconcious level. A spouse could still be jealous of his spouses friends too.

It's almost surprising that Dunn didn't show Paul...as hitting on Tasha. He's kind of a lout, if viewed merely superficially. I half expected him to hit on her. She's very attractive and accessible enough. Given that he seems more than interested in her whenever she's around the house, I really expected it. He stares quite intently at her, making her pay attention to him, engaging her in conversation...although it's always negative attention, like a boy in school pulling pigtails who doesn't know how to get a girl to like him. Not that he wants her to like him, either. But I guess his interest in her is more given to curiosity than anything sexual or romantic. There was no sexual overtones--but maybe a bit of jealousy at what he might see as her carefree life. Picking up and going somewhere just like that. He's somewhat beguiled by her, as he watches her so closely, because while she is very attractive, intelligent and nice, at the same time, she's supposed to be different. A Refugee who he said, takes jobs from English citizens...he mentions the smallness of the island like the size of the table. She's a Romani--and they don't have the best reputations around the world. Perhaps that juxtaposition is more than he can handle. Romantic Gypsy rival, a woman after his wife, and he thinks she's undocumented labor and there's no doubt that she's beautiful. And because he doesn't understand what he does not know, nor is educated about, he lashes out at her in anger.

The other thing that was maybe a little less smooth, was the daughter Kelly's quick change of regard toward Tasha. At first, she's open and friendly toward her. Then, she quickly makes a turnabout from friendly to cold contempt and scorn toward Tasha, shutting her out of her little world. But teens can change their attitudes about new friends pretty quickly. Maybe Kelly is also a bit jealous of her mother's favorable regard for Tasha, though that isn't really shown. You may presume she's said a bunch of wonderful things about Tasha to Kelly, while she only seems to yell a lot at Kelly for her irresponsible behavior towards her child. I think there's a jealousy factor for both Paul and Kelly, and it would have worked well in this film if they showed Helen saying all these complimentary things to Kelly and Paul about Tasha. Tasha, Tasha, Tasha! That's all you talk about! What about me!

From what it looked like, Kelly doesn't get too many compliments from her Mother or father and probably doesn't deserve too many, but still...she's young. And I guess, Paul doesn't get any lovey, snuggles, hugs or affectionate treatment from Helen or his daughter. They're all alienated from one another. He almost seemed afraid of having to take care of his grandbaby...."Don't leave me with the kid!"

Some of the dialouge was hard to discern, when Paul was turned away from us, I couldn't hear what he was saying while Tasha was standing up for herself and other refugees. He spoke in a hushed tone, almost in awe of her power. I'll have to watch again and turn up the volume.

Two scenes of eating were interesting--besides the family dinner table scene where food seems so....unappetizing that it's just something to fuel the body with so you could get on with it. The way Paul dished out the mashed potatoes....like it was a lump of raw dough to be consumed and nothing more. Then, he says to Tasha "aren't you going to eat...it's Good English food!" Kind of funny, that scene.

In Helen's POV, she's attempting to eat chips or something by the seaside but has little appetite. She stares at one of the bits but doesn't eat it. She has a lot to think about, while a disgruntled looking Santa walks by.
In Paul's POV, he dashes out of his home after telling Helen he's leaving, gets into the van holding a dry looking cheese sandwich between his teeth that he's going to cram down his throat while driving....it's just a feeding of his body to survive and get through another day.

The little things in life that give humans pleasure...food, sex...are reduced and pared down to a primal function and nothing more.

Helen's afternoon tea with Tasha, on the other hand is different: (and remember the dinner plate she presented to Helen was like....being queen for a day!) The tea and stuff served over at Tasha's and her Mom's home, they actually discuss different kinds of foods with amusement and fun over the different dishes and names that come from different countries, taking their time to enjoy the small details in life, like eating food....The Hedgehog bit was funny!

and then at the night festival scene, Helen and Tasha walk through the streets hand in hand enjoying themselves like a couple of kids in each other's company. Just enjoying being alive. So very Simple but you know they're having a good time.

Tasha, who seems to enjoy life, and make of it what she is able to, is the one who takes chances in life. Taking risks, she's traveled very far to another country, is working hard and she's made a few new friends. She takes a risk in showing Helen that she's romantically interested in her, and risks even further by jumping off the ship to escape the baddies. Rather than live a life of misery, she's taking steps to do something about her life. Rather than let life do as it will, to her. She takes action. Helen made a few baby steps of her own to changing her life, by telling Paul it's over.

And Paul, when asked by Helen if he loved her when they married, said he did--though sheepishly. Helen immediately tells him he's lying, that he never did. Paul never tried to clarify, one way or the other whether that was true or not. I wonder if she let him talk a bit more about it, what he would have said. I guess she's though giving him chances to explain things. He's had plenty of times to make his feelings known, whatever they are. But at the same time, maybe Helen jumps to conclusions about what he actually does feel about....just about everything. He's a guy and they're usually not willing to talk about their feelings. So you have to give them a lot of rope. Then again, he reacts by telling her he's leaving that next morning. But, maybe his feelings are hurt. I don't know. It's not really known to us what he's feeling about it. I guess Helen has already given him plenty of opportunity to work things out, before this.

So, the love triangle thing works for me. It was just the thing to push the family situation into the Red Zone.

Anyway, there's a lot more to this movie, beyond the surface.
I liked it a lot.

ANd yup, a soundtrack would have given it that little bit of a nudge....
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emay
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2006 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And Gypo makes it to yet another gay and lesbian film festival, this time in LalLa land at the The Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Film Festival on July 14. Here's the blurb:

"Gypo (8 p.m. July 14, DGA). The first British Dogme 95 feature, written and directed by Jan Dunn, honors the purist strictures of the Scandinavian manifesto and then some. Set on the austere Kentish isle of Thanet, it builds slowly with a familiar portrait of a disintegrating working-class marriage, with the wife (Pauline McLynn) refusing to allow her spirit to be crushed by a sour husband (Paul McGann) and a none-too-responsible daughter (Tamzin Dunstone), stuck with an unwanted baby. The daughter's radiant friend (Chloe Sirene) and her mother (Rula Lenska), Czech émigrés awaiting their passports, propel McLynn into unexpected romance and danger."

More about the festival can be found at http://www.calendarlive.com/movies/cl-wk-outfest6jul06,0,7236493.story?coll=cl-movies-features.

Estelle
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey, the Maine International Film Fest had screenings of Gypo too!

http://www.miff.org/tickets/film.php?id=121

Held in Waterville, Maine. Waterville is the birthplace of former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell. And Hathaway Shirts were made in Waterville for over 160 years, until 2002 when the nation's last maker of name-brand dress shirts shut down in the face of low-priced foreign competition.

Ed Harris, Amy Madigan, directors: Terrence Malick, Johnathan Demme are on the film festival's advisory board.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2006 1:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And Gypo makes it to the 19th Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival. The Q&A with Jan Dun comes from the austinchronicle.com (see http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Issue/story?oid=oid%3A406147).

HOME: SEPTEMBER 29, 2006: SCREENS

Out, In, and Onscreen

BY MARC SAVLOV

The Natural: Jan Dunn on 'Gypo'

You still come across inspiring first-time filmmaking stories, but thrilling tales of blowing out your credit rating or mortgaging the family manse to make your no-budget, Quixotian dreams come true isn't quite as remarkable as it was back when Robert Rodriguez went under the needle to secure a pittance for El Mariachi's short ends.

Enter Jan Dunn, who, after working as an actress and making a half-dozen short films, decided to try her hand at a feature. It's called Gypo (derisive UK slang for Gypsy), and it was shot in 13 days with a spellbinding mix of name actors (Pauline McLynn, Paul McGann) and, in the film's pivotal role, newcomer Chloe Sirene. It's also the first official UK feature film true to Lars Von Trier's hyperreal filmmaking vow of chastity, Dogme 95. What's more, Gypo has secured a UK theatrical release, a feat near-unheard of in British indie cinema (what there is of it). And thanks to the resounding success of the film, Dunn and her producer have been guaranteed major financing on their next project. Oh, and one more thing: It's just been short-listed for a BAFTA, the UK equivalent of an Oscar.

Top that. I dare you.

Initially intentioned as something of a calling-card film for the benefit of Dunn and her producer, Gypo's gritty, emotionally jarring tale of familial disintegration, the plight of Romany refugees in the UK, and the primal power of love in the face of bitter ruin is, simply put, a stunner.

The Chronicle talked to Dunn by phone in the weeks leading up Gypo's festival screening.

Austin Chronicle: It's amazing how much has gone right for you in the creation of your first feature. Usually get to hear the horror stories, but in your case there don't seem to have been many.

Jan Dunn: The first one's always the hardest and I'd been trying to get my first feature film off the ground for two or three years and I was selected for this kind of local-talent initiative by my local UK film council here in the region I live in. It was a group of writers, directors, and producers who hadn't made their first film yet. I was one of eight people, and that's where I met my producer Elaine Wickham. She had seen a couple of my shorts and couldn't believe I'd made them for nothing and it was her idea to scrap our existing feature film ideas and come up with something we could use as a calling card. And eight weeks later we were shooting Gypo.

AC: Was it already in your mind to do a Dogme film?

JD: Well, Elaine and I knew that whatever we did it would have to be low-budget and we'd have to shoot local. At that time the refugee situation, particularly with Romany Czechs, was very prevalent, and particularly in this region, because we're right near Dover where the Channel Tunnel and the ferries from Europe are. Immigration was a major issue at that time – the Czech Republic hadn't quite come into the EU yet – and there were a lot of Romany Czechs comings specifically to this area, and I wanted that to be a major part of the story, along with it being a story about an older womanin her forties.

I knew I wanted to improvise the dialogue a bit, I knew I wanted it to be gritty, and I knew I wanted to use a hand-held camera. And so I began to think about shooting it under the Dogme rules. The word Dogme is not necessarily music to a producer's ears, so I very tentatively made the suggestion to Elaine, and when I did, this huge smile came across her face and she told me she loved the idea.

AC: Did you have to meet with Lars Von Trier at any point?

JD: We did go to Copenhagen and met with the guys at Nimbus and Zentropa, but not actually with Von Trier.

AC: It's 2006 now, so Dogme is no longer extant, officially, right?

JD: Right. At that point, when we shot it, we were still in the 10 years of Dogme. It wasn't until we went to Copenhagen that we realized there had been no British Dogme films before. There'd been a couple that for some bizarre reason the distributors had referred to as Dogme films, but there hadn't yet been an official Dogme film out of the UK.

Estelle
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