Rupert Jones – Kaleidoscope Interview

A man, his mother, and a body.

The sinister events of indie thriller Kaleidoscope will be chilling audience in cinemas right now . The film starring Toby Jones and Anne Reid looks at a young isolated man who goes on a date that goes horribly wrong. Engrossing and engaging, Kaleidoscope is an impressive thriller.

We spoke with director Rupert Jones about his work.

Where did the idea come from?

I am never sure where the idea comes from. There  were two ideas too ambitious for a first film. An idea had been knocking around about a man who wakes up and finds a dead body in the bathroom, not knowing where it came from. I think the moment that the mother comes in as a crazy PI Detective is when the movie started to take shape.

What’s it like directing your brother Toby Jones? 

It happened in one of those moments where the film and the script took a leap, especially when we decided to make the mother internalised. It was hard to find sympathy with the character on the page. I need someone close who could bring that vulnerability and sort of take ownership. Toby did that, transformed it into a whole different character. He was very keen; showing the tragedy and the harrowing elements of Carl.

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The mother has these Hitchcockian elements and is very similar to Psycho in that respects, was this the intention?

It’s very flattering when people say that they see Hitchcock in the film. It’s not directly based on his work. The writing and the project was just something that worked and I aimed to engineer a piece of suspense, seeing how that worked. I watch some Hitchcock films but there was nothing specific I would pull on. I just watched them in general.

It’s a very terrifying thriller.

To be really honest, I always thought I’d be making comedies and I don’t really know where it came from. I just had this situation with the body and the mother. It just seemed like a good idea and I didn’t really think about the idea and I didn’t really think too much about what does it all it mean and situation level and I still don’t.

It’s like a process you are trying to let ideas emerge and, at the same time, I have to make decisions and when you make something  and discovering it for yourself. It always feels sudden.

Anne Reid is great as Carl’s Mother Aileen, how did she come on board?

It just seemed to make sense. Of all the actors, she was very funny and had great comic timing. I sort of approached her and was intrigued by the script. She was also enticed by doing something with Toby.    She was a real joy and such a great actress. I’m trying to work up an anecdote but she really is amazing. She played with our sympathies and made it feel that Carl was being a bit cruel without understanding why. She was just very good.

There’s a great visual style, how was this developed on a low budget? 

I think we were on a low budget. At a certain point, producer Matthew Wilkinson said to me; “Do you want to build the flat as a set?” And I really love building sets. I think we wanted it to be claustrophobic and a bit bigger than a flat would be . We re-purposed another set from another film so there was more paper underneath which gave it this great used atmosphere. We made the decision to shoot with deep blacks and brown. There are these kind of disability aids screwed to the wall, so there was this sense that he just moved there and it hasn’t been decorated. There are these elderly elements. He can’t afford to change it. There’s also different temperatures and they are cold, frigid, and wet.

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The estate is really imposing and really solidifies his loneliness. 

Yes! And those stairs were like a sign from god. I really liked the estate from the outside and the stairs. Those shots were from the determination of the grip and DOP.

I do feel like we’re at a strange time: There are these enormous films, always aspiring for a franchise. There’s an awful lot of writers and directors out there. I have faith in a lot of audiences, if they give films a chance. Big films seem to be about the spectacular now and that experience. But there are people still going to independents and I try to do the same. At festivals, I get people to recommend me five to ten films that I have no idea about.

All of a sudden you are opening up in a Romanian nunnery  or something like that and it is such a thrilling way of watching cinema.

Though, we should talk about making it more accessible so everyone can enjoy films.

Baby Driver – Review

by Ren Zelen

It’s becoming easy to recognise a film by Edgar Wright – there are trademark aspects: a sense of wit, sharp editing, and a rousing soundtrack. Baby Driver, Wright’s first-ever solo screenplay, offers a premise that is a cinematic convention, but told in a wholly energising and original way.

The action-movie potential of the virtuoso driver is hardly a new concept. It’s a proposition that has had its twists and turns, from Walter Hill’s The Driver (Hill gets a tiny cameo in the movie) The French Connection, Bullitt and Ronin right through to Ryan Gosling’s nameless specialist in Refn’s Drive.

Wright pays due homage to his predecessors, and in the opening scene of Baby Driver he provides us with an outrageous action sequence which shows he has learned a few lessons along the way. It’s dazzlingly kinetic and exhilarating – a masterclass in how to grab the audience’s attention.

Baby-faced getaway driver, ‘Baby’ (Ansel Elgort) all but defies the laws of physics as he circumvents police pursuit after a heist. His getaway technique is spurred on and timed according to the tracks on his iPod.

Wright refers to Baby Driver as “a car film driven by music,” and this is one of the elements that sets this movie apart from other such films. This is like the La La Land of choreographed car chases or ‘Car Car Land’ as it’s been called. Wright has previously built particular scenes around songs, but, like its main protagonist, almost the entirety of Baby Driver is driven by the beat of a specifically chosen soundtrack.

Wright’s choice of songs is channelled through Baby’s iPod earbuds, which are almost permanently in his ears (he has different playlists on various iPods). His bank-robbing cohorts (Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Eliza Gonzalez) ask questions, but it’s revealed that Baby has Tinnitus as a result of a traumatic car crash in childhood (killing his parents). To alleviate ‘hum in his drum’ he distracts himself with music.

Baby also knows how to lip-read and sign, as he lives with his deaf foster-father (CJ Jones) of whom he is deeply fond. At times he is a getaway driver on call for a powerful crime kingpin named Doc (Kevin Spacey), but as we begin to learn of the day to day aspects of Baby’s life we find that he is good-hearted kid whose personal passions include being a beat-maker (like a white J-Dilla) recording music incorporating random conversational phrases he has taped, and a waitress named Deborah (Lily James).

Deborah and Baby hit it off immediately he overhears her singing an old Carla Lewis song from the 1960s, ‘B.A.B.Y. OH BABY’. The pair fall for each other and their conversations become peppered with romantic notions. A couple of loners, they dream of driving away together, “in a car they can’t afford, with a plan they don’t have”.

Baby begins counting on that day, as he is close to paying off a debt he owes to Doc. When that is done, he is out of the crime business for good. But life is never quite that simple.

Great action scenes have always had much in common with dance choreography. In Baby Driver the music and the action are painstakingly synchronized, thus Wright brought in choreographer Ryan Heffington (known for his work with Sia), to collaborate with John Wick stunt coordinator Darrin Prescott to create a unique physical style for his movie. The pay-off is that the end result feels surprisingly smooth and effortless.

Wright wisely exercises restraint with the visuals and relies on an eclectic music mix, cleverly avoiding anything that’s too current, including the technology, so that the movie doesn’t feel stuck in any particular time period. It’s easy to get swept up in admiration for the meticulous planning and attention to detail. The story is romantic, unconcerned with realism, influenced by the classic car-chase movies, but it can’t be said to be formulaic.

Wright’s entire male cast deserves credit for their character work. Kevin Spacey as the eccentric crime boss, and Jon Hamm as a lovelorn robber, both end up having character traits that surprise us – essential in any script if we are to remain engaged.

Speaking as a female who enjoyed the film immensely, I have one quibble – it is inevitably with the female roles, which are grindingly conventional, utterly basic male-fantasies – the dark, sexy, gun-toting bad girl, and the blonde, wholesome, adoring girlfriend. Unlike the males, their roles are paper-thin, (although if there was an award for simpering, striking poses and smiling, Lily James would be a strong contender).

Primarily an extraordinarily adept visual storyteller, Wright keeps the proceedings bouncing along colourfully, noisily and speedily from one crisis to the next. Baby Driver is, in essence, a thrilling and original cinematic joyride that pays homage to heist masterpieces and reaffirms Edgar Wright’s standing as one of the most entertaining and inventive British filmmakers operating today.

Baby Driver is out 28th June!