I Like Motion pictures has sympathy for the movie bros

Chandler Levack lends her feminine perspective to the office comedy and poisonous film fandom

Nicholas Lachance

I Like Motion pictures author/director Chandler Levack scopes the wares at Eyesore Cinema.

Chandler Levack derails the film-bro-to-incel pipeline in I Like Motion pictures.

Her debut characteristic, which is premiering at TIFF, is a brilliant and candy coming-of-age dramedy a couple of younger dork working at a video rental retailer who is nearly violently protecting of his film tastes.

Made by way of Telefilm’s Expertise To Watch program, the movie is impressed by Levack’s personal expertise working at a Burlington Blockbuster throughout her final yr of highschool. “That was one of many loneliest intervals of my life,” she tells NOW on a Zoom name from her dad’s house in Burlington. “I used to be principally working on a regular basis and ready for highschool to essentially be over, however on the similar time probably not appreciating my mates, individuals round me and even the place I used to be from. I used to be simply so centered on getting out of there whereas fully in love with films, music and standard tradition – actually defining myself simply by my style.”

Levack – a former NOW intern turned movie, music and tradition author and filmmaker – spoke to us about projecting her personal expertise onto a male character who reveals movie bro traits and giving the male-dominated office comedy style a young and incisive feminine perspective.

Take heed to the entire dialog on the NOW What podcast Apple Podcasts, Spotify or the participant under, or learn the edited and condensed model additional down.

Rad: I noticed the event of this film on Fb, the casting and stuff. My preliminary preconception was: I obtained this film’s quantity. “Chandler is making this nostalgic film of working in a video retailer. There’s going to be a twee vibe. I do know what she’s going for.” I watch the film (this morning) and it’s not just like the premise isn’t what I anticipated, however fuck – it blew me away.

Levack: Oh, thank god.

It blew me away as a result of it was genuinely actually humorous. It was actually shifting. I felt myself tearing up in sure moments. And the large shock to me is you made me empathize with individuals I believed I’d by no means, ever empathize with.

Levack: Initially, you’re the primary critic I confirmed the film to. I’m nonetheless processing the truth that it exists on this planet now. It’s been a loopy week. The announcement for TIFF was on Thursday. And I really feel like since then, this film isn’t only a factor that belongs to me, my editor and producers. It’s really going into the world. It’s like a toddler that’s been in my womb for a extremely very long time. I simply pushed it out and now individuals are going to be like, “your youngster’s ugly” and “your youngster’s so much cooler than I believed your youngster was going to be.”

A part of the explanation why I had these preconceptions, whenever you determined to make a film set round 2000 in a video retailer, my speedy touchstone was Kevin Smith.

Levack: Like, “Okay that is like Wes Anderson… Clerks… nice.”

That’s the factor. For me Kevin Smith is like… he’s just like the shit-end of the stick of Linklater and Tarantino. In order that fed my expectations. However there’s additionally a Excessive Constancy vibe right here. As a result of it’s not Clerks. It’s far more real than one thing like Clerks.

Levack: Yeah. Adventureland was sort of a touchstone for me. It’s attention-grabbing as a result of I got here of age watching all these films within the again room at Blockbuster and having to learn myself into the principle characters, as a result of there was no feminine movies that have been made like this. 

As a filmmaker and a critic, I’ve actually immersed myself on this planet of movie bros and music bros, actually tried to see the world by way of their eyes and attempt to love the artwork that they cherished and perceive why they cherished it.

On the worst, these guys will be actually insidious, imply and snobs. They use their love of movie and standard tradition as a method to not have interaction with individuals. I used to be like, “What have been these guys like in highschool? Is there a approach that perhaps you would set them on a path of therapeutic early in life the place they’ll begin to determine girls and different individuals of their lives as human beings and actually discover ways to join and interact with individuals earlier than it’s too late?” That was the intention of my movie: to deconstruct that cultural trope on the most pivotal formation of their ego and id and set them on a course of therapeutic.

So that you went after the primal second of movie bro poisonous tradition.

Levack: Though there’s far more of me within the film. I’m much more like Lawrence than I’d care to confess.

Nicholas Lachance

Let’s speak about this gender flip factor. You’re tackling your final yr of highschool. However you made the character a dude. You’re saying you grew up in that surroundings. You have been part of that surroundings. You recognized with them much more than perhaps you’ll need to admit. Would you say that there’s an internalized misogyny? Is that one thing you needed to deconstruct when scripting this?

Levack: I grew to become a journalist/cultural critic actually early in my life. Once I was 18, I used to be already interning at NOW Journal and writing articles for the college newspaper. By the point I used to be 19… 20, I did an internship at Spin Journal in New York and have become an expert music critic. I dropped out of college. I labored at Eye Weekly. I defected to the opposite alt-weekly.

As a really younger lady, all my mentors have been strictly males of their 30s/40s. I felt like I used to be studying about tradition by way of the stuff that they appreciated. I feel it’s the identical with filmmaking and the male auteurs that I revered after I was younger. You hit a sure age the place you begin questioning what would my life and cultural tastes be like if I had been solely strictly watching, like, Agnes Varda films and had been mentored by girls and studying extra feminine authors and stuff.

Once I was making use of to the Telefilm Expertise To Watch program, this filmmaker learn my utility and gave me some recommendation. She was like, “Why isn’t your primary character a girl? It’d be a lot simpler so that you can get funding. Why do you even need to make a movie a couple of younger man? Haven’t we seen sufficient younger males on display?” Which is a sound query. However I used to be like.. it’s so attention-grabbing that girls are being instructed we are able to solely write feminine characters if we need to inform a narrative as a feminine filmmaker. There’s a extremely attention-grabbing hole in illustration: Movies about younger males which can be made by girls, the place it’s girls seeing males perhaps from a unique angle than they themselves.

I feel that’s the actual muscle of your film: The best way you’ll be able to break him down, the way in which you could have his quantity, the way in which you see how the world sees him and the way the feminine character Alana sees him; the empathy you could have for this character. Like I mentioned, you gave me a personality that I by no means thought I’d be empathetic for. 

You additionally clearly have numerous sensitivity to what Alana (a supervisor on the video retailer) experiences in Lawrence’s orbit. So having your perspective on this Lawrence character, that’s what was so unbelievable, simply seeing him out of your eyes. For me, I have a look at this man like he’s the makings of an incel.

Levack: I keep in mind my lead actor Isaiah Lehtinen telling me this film was Ladybird for incels.


Levack: However in a great way.

However solely since you determined to provide him a redemptive arc. While you first meet the character, he jogs my memory of so many entitled white boys who really feel like they’re simply too good for an everyday job that everybody else as has. Speak to me about itemizing off all of the entitlement and the narcissism and analyzing how harmful and misogynistic that that may be.

Levack: A lot of the film is simply all people ceding house to him, even when he doesn’t deserve it. I wished to provide him a extremely darkish again story, however then additionally use that as a method to [say] you’ll be able to have excessive trauma occur to you however you’ll be able to nonetheless be a jerk. I’ve been dwelling with this character since 2018.

So that you forgot what it’s wish to not like him.

Chandler: I feel I really feel actually combined feelings about him. I actually care about him and I need to defend him and stuff. However then, generally I’d simply be like, “Oh my god, shut up.”

After which, after we forged [Lehtinen], he brings a lot nuance and charisma to the function and a really deep nicely of tenderness. But in addition, he’s an actual pressure of nature in that half. Generally there can be these scenes the place he’d simply be screaming and exploding at someone. It made me really feel uncomfortable. I feel [Lawrence] is simply somebody who doesn’t actually know the best way to calibrate their feelings and even is aware of that they’ve actual feelings but. They’re simply actually frightened of feeling something.

Isaiah Lehtinen plays Lawrence in TIFF 2022 title I Like Movies.
Courtesy of VHS Endlessly Inc.

Isaiah Lehtinen performs Lawrence in I Like Motion pictures.

I’m caught on Girl Hen for Incels. That’s an amazing tagline. The place did you discover this child?

Levack: He’s from Vancouver. We did a complete Canada-wide casting search, which was led by my unbelievable casting director, Jesse Griffiths, who’s wonderful. Over 300 actors submitted self-tapes. And it’s such a particular half that numerous younger boys that need to be skilled actors simply didn’t relate. They have been all approach too unthreatening. They didn’t have the identical sort of life expertise that Lawrence has. They usually didn’t perceive any of the references and even like films that a lot.

After which Isaiah was one of many final individuals to audition. And in his audition he was sporting a shirt for that Robert Pattinson film The Lighthouse. And his audition, he performed it tremendous honest, easy to the digital camera, actually quiet. I used to be like, “This isn’t something that I imagined the character to be, nevertheless it’s a lot richer and extra fascinating and attention-grabbing.” After which we met over Zoom. He was like, my performing heroes are Danny DeVito and Philip Seymour Hoffman. And I used to be like, “Whoa. That’s so cool.” I feel everybody else wished to be like Chris Pine, Chris Evans or one thing.

We simply instantly bonded. This particular person actually speaks my language. So lots of the film’s finest adlibs are completely Isaiah. He’s simply wonderful.

That is the second actor you forged out of Vancouver that I’m conscious of. (The primary was Finn Wolfhard, who obtained his begin in a PUP music video co-directed by Levack, which he used for his Stranger Issues audition).

So let’s discuss in regards to the different facet of this. The emotional parts right here don’t work with out casting Alana and the mom. They’re each unbelievable.

Levack: Lawrence actually comes of age by way of his relationship with girls, particularly with Alana. In numerous methods, they’re sort of mirror pictures of one another.

Romina D’Ugo’s audition was so particular and unbelievable. She really comes from a dance background. Her aptitude for bodily comedy, all of the ways in which she makes use of her physique, was simply wonderful to me as a director.

I simply wished to essentially flesh out a personality the place she’s not only a love curiosity, a muse or some empty vessel for his coming of age. I feel in one other film like this, Lawrence and Alana would kiss within the again room of the video retailer.

I’m considering of Emma Stone on the ending of Superbad. After Jonah Hill has been this kind of character, the fantasy comes true for him.

Levack: Yeah, like a fantasy object. I simply wished there to be so much there, and for her to deconstruct that trope by [saying], “Hey, you’re a narcissist. You’re really like a foul particular person. And weirdly, I’ve given you a lot energy. And I don’t perceive why I’m doing that. Possibly it’s due to my repressed trauma about guys such as you.”

Learn extra:

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10 Canadian movies to look at at TIFF 2022

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