Producer of the new film “Silver Linings Playbook” and Oscar winner for the film “American Beauty,” Bruce Cohen, attended a screening of the film at Cinemas Palme D’Or on Tuesday, November 20 in Palm Desert, Calif. After the screening, Cohen joined host and co-owner of Cinemas Palme D’Or Steve Mason (Mason & Ireland, 710 ESPN) for a candid Q&A session with audience members.
“Silver Linings Playbook” was honored with the audience award at the Toronto Film Festival last September. Producer Bruce Cohen found himself reliving a moment in time, he thought he would never relive. Just over ten years ago, Cohen was in the same theater at the same festival for the screening of his film “American Beauty.” It was a critic success, won the prestigious audience award at Toronto and went on to win the Best Film Award at the Academy Awards.
But Cohen remarked how things have changed. This time, the audience reaction was the just the same as when Toronto screened “American Beauty,” there was thunderous applause at the end of the film. But in the 3 minutes it took Cohen to leave his seat and get to the lobby of the theater, the reviews were in by the top film critics in the world – this time via Twitter – “‘Silver Linings Playbook’ is best film of the year!”
Yes, times have changed since Cohen’s success with “American Beauty.” Now Cohen is producing “Silver Linings Playbook” – a film that delves into mental illness. It is a portrait of the American family during desperate times and a love story to boot. The film was directed by David O. Russell (“The Fighter”). Russell has had some tumultuous times on film sets in the past. And Cohen admitted “I had concerns, but in the movie business there are a lot of crazy people, especially actors – God love them. I don’t judge a book by its cover. I take people at face value. I fell in love with Russell as a person and as director. He is quite easy to get along with, as long as you don’t get in his way.”
“Silver Linings Playbook” stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. Jennifer may best be known for starring in “The Hunger Games,” but she is also an Academy Award nominee for her film “Winter’s Bone.” Lawrence is getting hot, Oscar buzz this year for her performance in “Silver Linings Playbook,” but Russell was not sure that Lawrence was adult enough to portray Tiffany. Lawrence was in Kentucky when casting for Tiffany took place, and being one of the most desirable roles in Hollywood – Lawrence wanted the part. She auditioned for the role via Skype. According to Cohen, all bets were off after Lawrence’s audition. She was going to play the role of Tiffany.
Bradley Cooper, one of Hollywood’s hottest actors, is known to most moviegoers for being in the fan favorite “The Hangover.” But Cooper was not even the first choice to play Pat – a bipolar man with anger issues. At first Mark Wahlberg was slated to play Pat, but due to a scheduling conflict, Wahlberg had to bow out. Russell had seen Cooper in the 2005 hit “Wedding Crashers.” In this film Cooper played a really angry guy and pulled it off and Russell thought that Cooper had the chops to take on the role of Pat.
Early on in pre-production Robert De Niro was chosen to play Pat’s father, but it wasn’t until the principal actors were cast that Academy Award nominee Jacki Weaver was cast to play De Niro’s wife in the film Dolores.
In “Silver Linings Playbook” Dolores is always offering up her snacks of crabbies and homemades. And as the film gets more play she may become synonymous with these offerings. The film was shot in a neighborhood in Philadelphia down the street from Mrs. Cappelletti – mother of Hall of Fame football player John Cappelletti. She had Russell over to her home before filming began and offered snacks to Russell calling them crabbies and homemades. Russell assumed that they were a traditional serving of snacks found in most homes in Philadelphia. But after filming was completed, Bradley Cooper told Russell that when he grew up in Philadelphia he never had heard of either snack. So crabbies and homemades may be just a creation of Mrs. Cappelletti.
Cohen knows that the next few months will be full of Q&A sessions, screening of his new film and hopefully a few award shows. As a previous Oscar winner and a former producer of the 2010 Academy Awards, Cohen has seen both sides of the glittery film award season.
During his own walk to destiny and immortality, Cohen was told not to keep his hopes up – he may not win. But Cohen’s optimistic view was to turn a possible loss into victory before the Oscars were awarded. “I thought that I should think ‘I will win’ and then if I lose then I will have had the thought of winning in my head to think about. And if I did win, then I was right to think I would win.” No doubt, if “Silver Linings Playbook” gets an Oscar nomination, Cohen will already thinking he has won – a great way to enjoy the journey and not just the win.
He also has a clear plan when at the Academy Awards. “Previous Oscar winners told me that I would not remember anything, and it just goes too fast to really be present. So, I made sure to be present at every step. I remember thinking ‘I am walking up the stairs right now to accept an Oscar.'”
And everyone in Cohen’s circle of friends and family, knew Cohen would eventually win an Oscar. When he was young his grandmother was babysitting him and let him stay up to watch the Oscars. He was hooked. From then on he told just about everyone that his only dream was to win an Oscar.
With the amazing critical acclaim and audience reactions of the “Silver Linings Playbook,” it appears that Cohen just might be in the audience at the next Academy Awards. And for all the visitors at Cinemas Palme D’Or this evening, they just might be rooting for the cockeyed optimist that was happy to share his journey.
“Silver Linings Playbook” is rated R for language and some sexual content/nudity and brief strong language and has a run-time of 2 hours and 2 minutes.
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Whatever your movie choice this week, please remember your movie theater etiquette: silence your cell phones & no texting, please don’t talk during the film and remove your children if they become a distraction to other audience members. Don’t forget that laughing, crying and cheering are always approved behavior and even encouraged.
-Kay Shackleton is a film historian with special focus on Silent Films, see her work at SilentHollywood.com