“There were so many reasons I felt compelled to tell the story,” first-time director Elizabeth Chomko said of her film What They Had at Deadline’s Sundance Studio, “but the biggest one, I think, especially in hindsight, is the awareness that memories are a gift and that they’re precious.”
Memory loss is a key tenet in Chomko’s film, which she also wrote. The story follows a family dealing with the fallout of its matriarch’s descent into Alzheimer’s as estranged siblings Nick (Michael Shannon) and Bridget (Hilary Swank) are forced back together to make some difficult decisions about their parent’s future.
Speaking alongside Chomko were castmembers Shannon, Swank, Taissa Farmiga and Blythe Danner, who plays the dementia-stricken Ruth.
“The film is about a lot of things,” Chomko added, “but it’s certainly about coming of age at every stage of life and loving and letting go.”
Describing his character as “not quite sure of his place in the world,” Shannon said, “The one thing he’s very devoted to is his family and his parents and he’s kind of stayed behind and kept an eye on them.”
Conversely, Swank’s character seems at first glance to have it all together with her marriage and children, but inside she’s overstretched. “She’s holding herself together,” said Swank. “I think it’s really the plight of many women, because by nature we’re nurturers, and we give and we give and we give and sometimes it’s to the point where it’s not to our best interests.”
In essence, What They Had is a story of a normal family, with all the nuance inherent in that. “There’s a lot of stuff at play here,” Swank said. “There’s a lot of onion layers, there’s dysfunction, which there is in life, in every single family.”
Introducing her exquisite debut feature, What They Had, at Sundance, the writer-director Elizabeth Chomko addressed the movie’s initiating event — a woman with Alzheimer’s reaching the last-but-one stage, number six — only obliquely. Chomko painted a larger picture.
“Memory,” she said, “is a gift we’re given. I don’t want to take it for granted.” And so, in the film, the camera occasionally lingers on photos and home movies of Ruth (Blythe Danner) and her husband, Bert (Robert Forster), as they were in their 20s and 30s; and Ruth is tasked to carry a picture in a locket that can remind her, fleetingly, who the man across the table from her is.
Before I get too lachrymose, I should mention that the movie has a lot of great laughs: The characters speak their minds and then some. The main couple isn’t the old one but a pair of middle-aged siblings, Bridget (Hilary Swank), and Nicky (Michael Shannon), who call each names like “turkey” and “dingle-fairy” and whose conversations often end in shouting matches. Bridget has flown in from Los Angeles to take some of the burden off Nicky and has brought her daughter, Emma (Taissa Farmiga), who’s been thrown out of her college dorm for drinking and is almost as prickly as her uncle. Nicky is being eaten alive by multiple stressors. He has poured all his money into a high-toned bar that his father has never deigned to visit. And he feels that he alone bears the responsibility for his mother’s well-being. He’s furious that Bert won’t put her in a facility for people with dementia, even after she has wandered into the snow in a nightgown and boarded a train. Bert is a stubborn cuss.
Actually, “cuss” is the exact wrong word. A devout Catholic, Bert abhors his kids’ swearing and believes it’s his duty is to care for his wife until the bitter end. Also, he adores her. The subtext (and Über-text) of What They Had is the impact of such an overbearing father on his children’s self-esteem. Bert compelled (impelled, bullied) Bridget to marry an up-and-comer she didn’t love and now can barely stand. (Seen very briefly and played by Josh Lucas, the husband seems a nice enough fellow but dull.) Bert also insists on belittling Nicky — a bar owner — by calling him a bartender. The crux of Nicky and Bridget’s arguments is that she has power of attorney over her parents but won’t stand up to them. Nicky hectors her, she squirms, Nicky hectors her, she squirms, and nothing happens.Read More
Though its causes remain shrouded in mystery, Alzheimer’s Disease is unmistakably on the rise, and will become an ever-growing public issue as senior populations and longevity itself each continue to expand. We’re still at an early stage in terms of its dramatization, however — apart from “Away From Her” and “Still Alice,” there haven’t been that many notable screen depictions of Alzheimer’s, or of progressive dementia in general.
Actor-playwright Elizabeth Chomko’s debut feature “What They Had” is a particularly welcome addition to that so-far slim canon, since it finds ways to bring considerable humor to a grim subject, without trivializing it. This satisfying drama provides excellent roles for a fine cast, particularly Michael Shannon, Hilary Swank and Robert Forster. Highlighting the awards-worthiness of those turns will probably beat the best path to commercial success, particularly in theatrical release. Read More
When two-time Oscar-winning actor Hilary Swank asked to visit an animal rescue centre in Adelaide’s south earlier this month, she was regretfully told no.
A case of unfortunate timing meant Minton Farm Native Animal Rescue Centre owners Glenn and Beverley Langley would be away and unable to open their not-for-profit facility for the superstar.
However the animal-loving US actor was determined to get up close and personal with some of the centre’s 300 orphaned and injured animals so her assistant rescheduled the visit for yesterday.
In Adelaide to film Australian sci-fi thriller I Am Mother — a futuristic film about a generation of humans raised by a mother robot following the extinction of mankind — the 43-year-old and her partner took time out from their busy schedule to spend about 90 minutes at the Cherry Gardens-based facility.
“We went into the hospital and I showed her all the injured animals in there and the way we rehabilitate them,” Mrs Langley said.
“She was very grateful for allowing her to come here, because we’re not open to the public and (she was) very supportive of the work we were doing.”
But it was the emus that captured the Hollywood actor’ heart during the visit.Read More
From Academy Award-winning director Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Ocean’s trilogy) comes a combustible caper comedy with a twist. Logan Luckyraces to Digital on November 14, 2017, and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray™, DVD and On Demand on November 28, 2017, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
Logan Lucky stars Channing Tatum (Magic Mike, 21 Jump Street ), Emmy® nominee Adam Driver (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Paterson), Seth MacFarlane (“Family Guy,” Ted), Riley Keough (“The Girlfriend Experience,” It Comes at Night), Katie Holmes (All We Had, Batman Begins), Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice, Alien: Covenant), Dwight Yoakam (Sling Blade, Panic Room), Sebastian Stan (Captain America: Civil War, The Martian), Brian Gleeson (Mother!, Snow White and the Huntsman), and Jack Quaid (“Vinyl,” The Hunger Games), with Academy Award winner Hilary Swank (The Homesman, Million Dollar Baby) and Daniel Craig (Road to Perdition, James Bond franchise).
Hoping to reverse a ‘curse’ that’s hung over his family for generations, Jimmy Logan (Tatum) hatches a plan to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway during the Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR’S biggest race of the year. He convinces his bartender brother Clyde (Driver) and hairdresser sister Mellie (Keough) to help him pull everything off–but first they have to break the bomb-maker Joe Bang (Craig) out of jail in broad daylight. Academy Award® winner Hilary Swank plays a no-nonsense FBI agent determined to bring the Logans to justice and keep them from racing away with the loot in this high speed caper from director Steven Soderbergh.
BONUS FEATURES EXCLUSIVE TO 4K ULTRA HD, BLU-RAY™, DVD & DIGITAL:
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When Academy Award-winning actress and producer, Hilary Swank, couldn’t find clothing that met all of her lifestyle needs she designed it herself. After years of perfecting the concept, in the fall of 2016 she launched her start-up Mission Statement, a new crossover women’s clothing category that goes far beyond athleisure and merges high-fashion design with high-performance textiles.
Swank’s superbly constructed collection offers an array of jackets, dresses, sports bras, and pants with a variety of layer-able separates made from sumptuous technical fabrics that are eco-friendly like washable cashmere and leather.
Swank’s outerwear is exceptional both in terms of style and materials as well as versatility and construction. The sports bras look and fit more like a well-constructed bustier rather then the bust crushing alternatives. Her thoughtfully designed tennis-inspired dresses easily transition from the courts to an elegant dinner with a change of shoes and fit like couture. Her leggings (just like her sports bras) support you in all of the right places without constricting blood flow or cutting into you when worn for prolonged periods.Read More
After a three-year break from acting, Hilary Swank is back on the big screen. Her new role as an FBI investigator in the comic action film “Logan Lucky,” directed by Steven Soderbergh, is her first appearance in a movie since she went on hiatus to take full-time care of her father, who was diagnosed with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
“When you walk away from that one thing that defines you, you say…‘I’m so much more than that,’ ” she says. “I’m a woman. I’m a daughter. I have other ambitions.”
A two-time Academy Award winner for her performances as a transgender teen in “Boys Don’t Cry” (1999) and a boxer in “Million Dollar Baby” (2004), Ms. Swank, 43, plays a dogged detective in her latest. In the film, she tries to track down the thieves who took cash from a Nascar raceway.
She is known for portraying tough characters. “I like strong people, people who really stand for something and have backbones,” she says. “I’m drawn to people who are underdogs, who have to be strong, maybe because of my own circumstances.”
Ms. Swank grew up in a trailer park in Bellingham, Wash., where her mother was an executive assistant and her father was a chief master sergeant in the Washington Air National Guard.Read More
These days, being just an actress doesn’t cut it—even if you’re a really, really good one. Hollywood 2.0 is all about the side hustle, whether it’s opening a restaurant, investing in a promising tech startup, or, in Hilary Swank’s case, launching a clothing line that reimagines one of the biggest fashion trends in recent years.
Late last year, the Oscar-winning actress joined the ranks of stars-turned-lifestyle gurus like Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon, and Ellen DeGeneres and introduced Mission Statement, an activewear brand that redefines athleisure with pieces that you can wear to the gym and beyond. “I couldn’t find anything to address my needs as a modern woman juggling a million different things,” Swank recently told InStyle. “So I decided to make it myself.” Here, more from Swank about her label and burgeoning lifestyle empire.Read More
Two puppies have gone from a busy rural animal shelter to living with two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank — who heard they needed a place to stay, and went and offered up her home.
Emily Gear was pretty convinced the email was a prank.
n her mind, there was no way the 42-year-old actress was getting in touch out of the blue to say she wanted to foster a couple of Gear’s rescue puppies.
Gear is founder of Louie’s Legacy, a New York- and Ohio-based nonprofit that gets dogs and cats out of shelters and places them in loving temporary foster homes until they can be adopted.
Two puppies from a shelter in West Virginia were coming into the group. A call was put out for a foster.
You never know who will step up in such a situation. Still, it was a real surprise when Swank — or, as Gear thought at the time, “Hilary Swank” — sent a message.
At first, Gear tells TODAY, “we weren’t sure it was real.”
But the evidence was quite convincing. Soon Gear found herself chatting with Swank about her longtime commitment to animal welfare, her foundation that brings kids and rescue pets together — and then, finally, the logistics of getting these lucky puppies out to California.
Last weekend, Mulder and Scully were flown out by two volunteers, who kept them in the cabin as — Gear’s description — “carry-on pups.”
Swank has been updating Gear on a daily basis ever since. She says the puppies are settling right in to their fantastic new Los Angeles lifestyle.
Swank takes them out hiking, and they have started working with a trainer.
“They are doing great and she has nothing but good things to say about them,” said Gear — adding that Swank’s intention is to adopt one puppy and find another home for the other, but “she says she has no idea how she will choose!”
Can you tell us a little bit about what makes Mission Statement special and why you created this brand?
Hilary Swank: Well, first of all, it is the first ever cross-over brand. In this world where I think people are, you know, fanatics about the ath-leisure-wear, I think it has gone as far as it can. I feel like it needed to be taken to the next step, which is to have high performance fabrics that are also high luxury. You can go from the gym into your day without looking like you are in your workout clothes. I needed that. Every woman I know around me needed that and I couldn’t find it. So, I created it.
Another part of Mission Statement is about women supporting women. There’s this wave right now, and it is so beautiful, of women coming to work together for the betterment of women. And that hasn’t happened since 1920, since women were really working hard together for the right to vote. And I think that before all of that happened, my underlying purpose of Mission Statement was to encourage women to take an hour for themselves every day to work towards their own personal mission statement. And to me, it’s so important to encourage that in other women because a lot of the time we’re living our life the way someone else has envisioned it. It’s about getting reacquainted with what we want to do in our lives, and working towards it every day. I say, ‘make a choice, make it happen’.Read More