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JC Chandor

Director J.C. Chandor’s Candor about “Triple Frontier” starring Ben Affleck

When Netflix recently released big-time, big-screen J.C. Chandor’s new film Triple Frontier, the filmmaker—a Pound Ridge resident—made sure to hold a premiere, complete with meet-and-greet and question-and-answer, at the new Bedford Playhouse. Chandor sits on the Playhouse’s board of advisors and is tuned into its mission of presenting quality film and film-related experiences. He couldn’t stop gushing about “what a great place the Bedford Playhouse is to watch a movie,” how “seeing a made-for-Netflix film on a big screen brings out another aspect of the work,” how “the quality sound system at the Playhouse rewards the detailed and hard work of all the people that go into producing the score and really accentuates the suspense and emotions of the film,” and how “getting to show your stuff to your neighbors and talk with them about your artistic vision is a really special opportunity for the moviemaker and the audience.”

Triple Frontier is Chandor’s fourth film as writer/director, although he says one of the reasons he took the project was because he “read this great screenplay by Mark Boal, and I wanted to change things up and challenge myself with a somewhat different process.”

The movie stars Ben Affleck and a group of other hunky Special Forces guys, who decide to come out of retirement to do a mission taking millions in cash from a drug lord in South America. The plot gets way more interesting as the group is tested and—spoiler alert—is twisted around how the money affects the men. Chandor calls it “a big, masculine, testosterone-driven, action film.” He told the audience at the Playhouse that he was “satisfied that the film passed the ‘Uncle Richie’ test—you know, would Uncle Richie, who used to sit around the house watching a steady diet of Van Dam and Chuck Norris, who would lose interest in a minute if something wasn’t blowing up, have loved the movie? I think Triple Frontier passes the Uncle Richie test!”

But Chandor went much deeper with the Playhouse audience. He revealed, “It’s really about the disastrous cycle of violence. And I see parallels to the 18 years of wars the U.S. has been in, and how violence on the side of good woos you into being sympathetic at first, but how ugly and wrong the exercise of violence is always revealed to be. In the end you’re trapped, it’s a mistake, there’s collateral damage, and everything’s changed.”

Says Chandor: “Making films is a terrific gig. I try to be kind to everyone involved in the production and provide the best platform for others to perform. It’s a real joy. And personally, I try to learn something new every time.”

Indeed, this new commando-narco-jungle-action extravaganza seems like something very new and different from Chandor’s first three movies. His 2011 Sundance-debuted Margin Call, starring Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Demi Moore, and Stanley Tucci, is an American drama set in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis. It was more an involved and captivating exchange of human dialogue and emotion among a tight ensemble (as in Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross) than dramatized non-fiction (as The Big Short did with similar material). His 2013 survival drama, All Is Lost, about a man alone in the middle of the ocean on a sinking sailboat, performed with little dialogue by Robert Redford, challenged all conventions and particularly highlighted Chandor’s directorial strength. And his last film, 2014’s A Most Violent Year, was an intricately woven crime drama set with the backdrop of an up-and-coming oil business, Mafia, Hasidim, Teamsters, and all sorts of crime and violence, in 1981 New York.

Asked about the divergent genres, Chandor kind of chuckles, as if that hadn’t really occurred to him—or it really wasn’t the point—and explains, “I’m a storyteller. I come up with a story idea that’s really a pretty complete picture. Then I figure out how I can tell the story on film. As a filter, I try to make the kind of movies I want to see. And, hey, bottom line, they’re all thrillers!”

Filmmaker J.C. Chandor reflects on living in a community town saying, “Scotts Corners is our little heaven” and adds of the Bedford Playhouse: “that’s one of the great, special things about living here.”

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