There are movies in my larger pool of preferred cinematic experiences that are simply there because of their swagger and their panache. Movies like Snatch, Heathers, Clerks, 10 Things I hate About You, Pump Up the Volume, movies with more attitude and chutzpah than their small size would naturally account for. These are films that usually have style and verve you normally don’t see coming. Izzy Gets the F— Across Town is decidedly one of those films.
And now it’s 100% confession time for Taylor. As I watched this film, my mind reeled at the raw, feral, acting talent brought to the screen by Mackenzie Davis. (I’m specifically thinking of the scene in this film that she shared with Haley Joel Osment (Uh. Yes, yes, you have heard of him before. Um. Sixth Sense…and you are welcome.) as she was invoking her love for Roger). And I was baffled, because I’d never seen her before in my life. Cough. Pardon me a second while I talk down to myself a bit. Uh, how about one of the most popular Black Mirror episodes of all time, San Junipero? Yeah, she was the co-lead in that. How about The Martian? And, ok, duh, maybe Halt and Catch Fire? Yes, the blonde pixie cut. Right. Oh, oh, worst thing ever is that she was also in Blade Runner 2049. Check, and Mate. So this was Confessions with Taylor brought to you by FOOT in MOUTH.
But she is legendary. Utterly and completely legendary. If you don’t like her, that is fine. This is a no judgement zone. But I’d also like you to exit my blog, and stand, like, I don’t know, maybe just outside that 20 foot diameter perimeter. That’d be great. Thanks for that. Also though, take a look at the rest of the cast list on this movie. It’s not just Mackenzie, but what about Alex Russell? You know, the Alex Russell of the Chronicle fame, oh, and that awesome movie Rabbit that I just couldn’t stop talking about the other day? And how about Lakeith Stanfield of Sorry to Bother You? Or maybe how about, Dolly Wells of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? And why not include Haley Joel Osment of Sixth Sense (whom I mentioned above), because you can. Shall we toss in Alia Shawkat of Green Room for good measure? Annie Potts of Ghost Busters and Pretty in Pink while we are at it. And Carrie Coon of Gone Girl. Luka Jones of Her, etc, etc. Here, check out the trailer – so I can finish convincing you to stroll down to your local Blockbuster’s and rent a copy…oh wait. (Or just stream it here.)
Interview w/ Director and Screenplay Author Christian Papierniak
Taylor – “Hey there, Christian, I absolutely adored your film Izzy Gets the F*ck Across Town. I am mid-stride in a long write up about it and was curious if you’d be open to answering a couple written questions about it? Feels like there is a something deeper here I’d love to know more about.”
Christian Papierniak – “Hey Taylor – fuck yeah – let’s do it. And thank you so much for watching and enjoying the movie!”
Taylor – “Brilliant! Let’s start with that – ‘Fuck’… by including it in the title, you seem to be declaring that you are an Independent movie and proud of it… No? Maybe I’m wrong. Can you tell me more about the title?”
Christian Papierniak – “Certainly not as calculated as you might think. During the writing process – The title fit the character and vice versa. It ended up becoming an incredibly powerful marketing tool as we were trying to sell the film to distributors and then the public at large. I like titles that aren’t generic. I mean think about something like “confederacy of dunces” – it says something to you before you even read a word. Not that I think I’m even close to that level of a writer – so don’t get that idea. I just like taking the big swing with it. Also it feels like a title Izzy would come up with for the movie. It’s a first person POV movie – so shouldn’t the title also be from that POV?”
Taylor – “It totally connects with Izzy well before we even meet her! Speaking of which, this movie just screams Mark Duplass to me – massive character piece, rich dialogue – which, is a high compliment in my mind. Was the story first & foremost character driven?”
Christian Papierniak – “Yes. I am always character first. I have had the idea for Izzy the character in my mind for at least a decade before I sat to write it. It started with a girl in a bloody tux in the back of a taxi cab. Was that the beginning of the movie? The end? I didn’t know. And I wasn’t sure when I’d write it. But eventually it would hopefully be the right time and I’d find the right story to make that character idea work before I sat to write it.
“And I love Mark Duplass as well! The Puffy Chair is absolutely a masterpiece. And Mark would know this more than me but I think most of what he ends up with is improvised. Whereas in Izzy we have maybe 2% improv.”
Taylor – “Is the movie about the inevitability of fate? Or the opposite? Predestination ran through the dialog of the whole movie, even as Izzy was assaulted. And in the end Izzy gets Roger, BUT she also walked away from her ‘fate’!”
Christian Papierniak – “Going back to 1st person POV I think the movie is globally/thematically less about fate vs predetermination than it is about Izzy’s journey of working her way through an emotional experience. It’s a weird hair I’m splitting but I think it’s important. She’s feeling her way through all of this – emotionally, intellectually….her life is in free fall, she’s desperate for a parachute. Roger, fate – it’s all part of the same thing. Her arc is ultimately though about some form of determination because ultimately she is reaffirming her belief in herself at the end and her lack of a need for a safety net.”
Taylor – “So her arc was fated to reaffirm her confidence in herself. Which was signaled by abandoning the parachute she thought she needed…no?”
Christian Papierniak – “Haha sounds good to me! That’s probably the fun of it…. for the record I don’t believe in fate so that certainly must inform the conclusion.”
Taylor – “You are the author – so definitely it must! Talk about that AMAZING song inserted in the middle of the movie – ‘Axemen’. How did that come to be? Did you write that in even before you had Mackenzie signed? And how does it inform the rest of the film? (It was a highlight – amazing.)
Christian Papierniak – “Thank you – it’s certainly been the most talked about part of the movie as we’ve traveled around with it and interacted with audiences and likewise the critical reaction. Love the movie or hate it, the scene has resonated with a lot of people.
“It is in the original script, yes. It was there from the first draft. As a writer I’m always trying to find new ways to delete exposition, tell a scene differently – this made sense based on Izzy and Virginia’s backstory….Music bound them together as kids through early adulthood and it was also what drove their estrangement. Musicians talk to each other through music. Ultimately it’s a really simple way of looking at a complex relationship and solving one but that’s what’s truthful about it. And I envisioned these women coming from riot grrrl culture. Izzy still entrenched there and Virginia transitioning away mostly for worse. So obviously the song I wanted to work with had to be from that world.
“Heavens to Betsy and The Corin Tucker Band were game changing for me when I was growing up so I wanted to pay homage to that if I was allowed to. And Corin and Tracey and Kill Rockstars had enough belief in us to let us give it a shot. And I am forever grateful to them for it. Axemen was the song I wanted from the beginning when I was just writing this on a shitty old laptop on my bed because I lacked a proper desk. So it’s unbelievable that it actually worked out…. Most people, before we did it, thought we were nuts to try and pull off a whole song but we held true to our belief and it worked out.”
Taylor – “So good. Izzy had just caught her sister Virginia having an affair, then sings w/ her, such a powder keg moment. Alright, final question – Is the script online anywhere? And do you have another weird character ruminating in the back of your mind for a future movie? Last 2 questions I guess?!”
Christian Papierniak – “Most of the credit should go to Mack and Carrie Coon. They poured their fucking heart into it. They’re the two best actors on the planet and it shows why. I just tried to get out of the way. It’s been nice to see so many audience members approach us with their emotional reactions.
“The script for Izzy Gets the F*ck Across Town is not yet online. I imagine it will be eventually. The Academy has it archived at the Margaret Harrick Library so students can use it for research – So you could check it out there (amazing honor still blows my fucking mind). As far as what’s next? I do have a movie currently in financing stages so I can’t say too much about that specifically BUT I can say it is female driven, character first. Thank you for the thoughtful questions and the interest in Izzy Gets the F*ck Across Town, we so so incredibly appreciate it.
Taylor – “Oh no, the privilege was all mine. This has been really fantastic. You’ve been extraordinarily generous with your time. Really appreciate it.”
Izzy Gets the F— Across Town Overview
I had actually written 90% of my normal walk through when I got the idea of trying to find Christian to chat about his movie. And an hour later, 80% of my discussion was irrelevant. He completely blew up how I saw the movie. So I’ll rejig my notes and see if we can discuss a couple of interesting ins and outs still left outstanding after the interview.
After finishing that chat with the writer and director of Izzy Gets the F*ck Across Town I scoured the interwebs to look for other interviews with him, or with Mackenzie, and I found this interesting interview that illuminates the movie quite a bit more. Here is Mackenzie talking about how the actors were chosen and came together:
“They graciously let me join on as a Producer for all of the creative stuff and none of the hard stuff. And Chris and I just sort of went down the list and talked about our favorite actors and who we envisioned. And we set the bar high and wrote letters to all the people that we really loved and wanted to be in the movie. And for some reason, nearly all of them said yes. And we are so lucky, but it’s also the kind of actor that they are willing. They like acting. They like coming for a day and messing around. And it’s really nice to work with actors that like to come for a day and fuck around, and still have that thrill of drama class.”
And that is the sort of movie we have here – a low, low, low, budget, character driven affair (as Christian mentioned above), that is driven by exceptional casting and passionate actors that are more interested in acting than anything else. Let’s be brutally honest here, this is Papierniak’s first film. So this is either a really bad idea, or a passion project with all kinds of heart. This thing is about ticket sales, but rather, it’s about the movie that Christian has always wanted to make about this character in a tux with blood all over it.
So, as you know, if you’ve seen it already, Izzy is a down on her luck independent musician. So much so, that crossing LA to make it to her ex-boyfriend’s party is a daunting task. But why does she care about this party? Well, because Izzy had been dating a bloke named Roger, who is now dating Izzy’s ex-best friend Whitney. But Izzy isn’t ready to let Roger go… so that is why she has to book it across town. But when she arrives at the party, she’s faced by both Roger as well as Whitney. But the next morning? Roger shows up at her house having walked away from Whitney! The tide had turned. But then she AXES Roger!?!? She becomes the personal embodiment of the song they played together, Axemen!
The Real Izzy Movie Insights
Before talking to Christian, I was nearly certain I understood this movie. I personally thought that the film was making a statement about the inevitability of fate. Take, for example, the scene where Agatha and Izzy are rummaging through that random backyard, when Agatha was looking for keys to get into a “friend’s” house. Eventually, they begin discussing the inevitability of fate, and that regardless of the paths they had chosen, no matter what, they would have still ended up here, together, at this house. (Side note, if you want an even better movie experiment discussing the inevitability of fate, you have GOT to check out Netflix’s Black Mirror episode, Bandersnatch. Enough said). And yet, simultaneously, they discuss how, the more they think about it, the more they have realized that their lives have not ended up like they thought they would. Which, when coupled together, speaks of some sort of malevolent sky-dictator, hellbent on ruining our collective lives. But the next second, Agatha robs the house, Izzy gets stabbed, and she flees the scene. What does that say about fate? Hrrm. I thought it was all about the inevitability of fate. But, for the first time in my life… I was wrong! Who knew?
And similarly, if this were a standard film that followed the normal Hollywood cadences, Izzy wouldn’t have walked away from Roger at the end. The entirety of the movie is pointing towards Izzy, down and out, trying to find that life raft to save her. She thought that life raft was Roger. But as Christian mentioned above in our conversation, she ultimately realized that she was strong in and of herself. She didn’t need a Roger in her life just to stay sane. She needed to have faith, ultimately, not in fate, but in herself.
Edited by, CY