MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE - Sean Durkin & Elizabeth Olsen Q & A

Monday, August 29, 2011

Have you heard about Martha Marcy May Marlene? It's been a darling of this year's festival circuit -  The title gives the impression four women share top billing, but in actuality newcomer Elizabeth Olsen (cast only two weeks before shooting), is not only the subject of the multiple monikers, she hauntingly carries the full weight of this dark drama; along with some good, creepy assistance by John Hawkes (Winter's Bone).

The film explores the mind altering experience of cult life. A group of mostly 20-something men and women share an old farm house in upper state New York. The initial impression is one of communal, live off the land, find your role, Utopian society. This impression is short-lived and in its place we come to see a Charles Manson-like, bull-shit philosophy, no escape,dangerous type cult.

In fact, we get such a strong sense of the presence of the cult, it's hard to believe the bulk of the film takes place after Martha (Olsen) has escaped and is taken in by her sister (Sarah Paulson) and new brother-in-law (Hugh Dancy). The cult scenes are technically shown in flashback, but I hate to describe it as such, because that cheapens it. Rather, the director creates and uncanny rhythm of past and present that keeps the viewer as off-kilter as Martha herself.

Director Sean Durkin, Actress, Elizabeth Olsen 8/22/2011
This film was shown as part of  Philadelphia Film Society's weekly sneak peeks, with the additional bonus of a Q & A with the director, Sean Durkin and lead Elizabeth Olsen.  I think the tone of the film had the audience a bit unnerved, as the Q & A had a prickly vibe going on between the audience and Durkin and audience on audience. It seemed most people appreciated the brilliance of the film, but there were a number of I-don't-want-to-think-that-hard movie-goers that wanted Durkin to fill in the blanks and clarify some points of the film. Durkin (who could have been a bit more patient) tried to get across the fact that the film stands on it's own and you bring to it your own interpretation of any parts that seem unclear.

I love the camcorder that comes with my new smart phone, but it simply doesn't capture a subject in a dark room without some additional lighting. So, sorry no video of the Q & A, but here's a little excerpt :

Q: Why was it so dark?

Durkin: That's how we shot it. The scenes are intentionally dark, we wanted a very specific look achieved by underexposing the film and certain treatments. We wanted it to be sort of worn, the way the farm feels, and tried to make it replicate life without movie lights.

Q (to Elizabeth): What did you draw on to get all the complexities of the role?

Olsen: I guess what I focused on was her humiliation or embarrassment; not understanding really where she was, or what happened. That type of embarrassment when you don't really know how to speak about it or want to speak about it. We basically did scene by scene focused on the present and tried not to focus on the larger picture of losing identity, but rather what was tangible scene for scene, which was helpful.

Q (to Elizabeth): How much research did you do?

Olsen: That's really a question for Sean, he did so much research, that he was my research.

Durkin: I read about all the different groups that I could. Starting with some bigger more famous ones of the 60's and 70's and then came more focused on the present local groups across the country. After that I started to speak to people who had visited those groups as outsiders and those that had been a part of a group. I knew I had a general interest in this subject and wanted to make a film about it... and eventually decided to focus on what happens when she leaves and how she adjusts to going back into her old life.

Q: Series of 3 questions regarding plot points.

Durkin: No Comment. I'm sorry, again, I just can't answer, I really don't like to talk about things like that. I mean, I put everything in the movie very precisely, like the amount of information, and I just can't expand on it, cause there's a reason that there's only that much information.

Philly Events Calendar

ADD YOUR EVENT for FREE! - which includes SOCIAL MEDIA BLASTS!  Click AGENDA VIEW to see complete list of happenings.

Featured Post


Tinsel & Tine Winners for Preview Screening Contest Guest on The LAMB Podcast Lambcast #470: CAPTAIN MARVEL w/ Rich Kirkh...

Food n Film: BURNT

Food n Film: BURNT
Bradley Cooper has more than charisma, he has an over abundance of Chi, which radiates out from him; so for me, this role as temperamental and damaged chef Adam Jones, who also inspires great love and admiration from those around him, works on the level of characterization. In fact, I think he's among a very short list of actors who would be able to pull off being so self-involved and yet likable. Doesn't hurt that he really speaks French too! READ POST

Food n Film: CHEF

Food n Film: CHEF
Much of the movie centers around the father/son relationship, and how much they learn from each other. But the real star of the film is all the food preparation, every other scene made me groan with want of everything up on that screen! Particularly the perfectly roasted and rubbed brisket, the crispy fat of the pork belly, sizzling bacon and the much ballyhooed Chocolate Lava Cake. READ POST


The key to deciphering both the city it beautifully depicts and the man who eats it best - City of Gold

By Tinsel & Tine Contributor Denine Gorniak (The Bicycle-Chef)

What Jonathan Gold, Los Angeles Times food critic/writer, has done for food writing journalism and for the restaurants that he loves, the movie, City of Gold has done for Jonathan Gold and Los Angeles and its surrounding environs – it has planted taco covered kisses on them... READ POST

Food n Film: CHOCOLAT

Food n Film: CHOCOLAT
If you’re a foodie movie lover who saw Lasse Hallström’s The Hundred Foot Journey (see T&T post), this summer you may be wondering what delicious visual journey might be awaiting you in the theater next. Well, how about a look back at his film Chocolat (2000), which stars French actress Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench and Johnny Depp. Hallström’s has a special talent for turning cooking into a dramatic movie journey...READ MORE


...young Hassan, a soulful-eyed boy with lush, thick eye lashes, places his face into the sea urchin basket, and breathes in the exotic briny scent. He sticks his fingers into the aquatic ooze, takes it to his mouth and is transfixed by the taste. The vendor, oblivious to the thrusting arms of frenzied women, notices the boy and realizes he is the only one worthy of this oceanic prize; he is the one who can “truly taste.” ... READ MORE

Food n Film: JULIE & JULIA

Food n Film: JULIE & JULIA
Personally, I like the unevenness of it, because I fell in love with the post World War II, Parisian sights, sounds, food and romance between Julia and Paul. I always felt a bit jarred back into reality when the scenes returned to Julie's meltdowns and cramped kitchen.READ POST

Food n Film: EAT PRAY LOVE

Food n Film: EAT PRAY LOVE
Six months into my 38th year of this life, I had my first panic attack. I didn't know that's what it was until months later. Symptom after symptom starting piling up on me until there were days I could no longer move my arms or neck. The doctors told me I was suffering from an auto-immune condition that they felt was most likely Lupus. And so began my much deeper journey and exploration into the world of spirit, alternative medicine, yoga, meditation and Eat, Pray, Love. READ POST


With a film like this, food plays a main character in the story and I was lucky enough to get an interview with the film's Food Stylist, Janine Kalesis.READ POST

Food n Film: WAITRESS

Food n Film: WAITRESS
In this 2007 film, Keri Russell stars as Jenna - a desolate diner waitress seeking solace in the art of pie-making. Trapped in an unhappy marriage, she’s eager to escape her husband and her small-town hell and sets about to make a run for it by entering an out of town pie baking contest. READ POST


Those of us in attendance were not only given the opportunity to see Babette's Feast, the Oscar winning, Danish film, considered one of the all-time great "food films"; we also got to taste Babette's menu! READ POST


I participated in WalkMS Philly on 4/30/16
Thank you to the readers who donated to the cause - It's not too late to support! Click badge below

15 Top Food in Film Flicks

15 Top Food in Film Flicks
Cozy Quilt of Food Movies, we'll add more patches as T &T discovers more films where food plays the biggest "roll"

Tinsel & Tine on

Tinsel & Tine on
Really love this platform, you feature your stuff and other people's stuff you follow, and it all configures like the front page of a newspaper. Click to see what I mean

Visit Our YouTube Channel

Visit Our YouTube Channel
View Q & A's with visiting Filmmakers to Philly

Philly Food and Film

Videographer Oliver Gallini 5 min short featuring organic-chemist-turned-chef, Townsend Wentz, who got his start at The Four Seasons Philadelphia.


Cross Content Blogs


Large Association of Movie Blogs

Tinsel & Tine was nominated for a VBA



group of 10,000 women bloggers dedicated to supporting one another by leaving comments

Women Online

The Blogstress Network

The Blogstress Network
Female Bloggers Unite

Contributor from 2010 - 2012

About This Blog

is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

Camera Tips


  © Blogger template On The Road by 2009

Back to TOP