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Exclusive Interview – American Animals director Bart Layton on making more than just a fun caper, blending documentary with recreation, and the crushing fear of being average

Harrison Abbott chats with American Animals director Bart Layton

Occupying a fascinating middle ground between documentary and – for lack of a better term – ‘’traditional cinema’’, American Animals was one of 2018’s most idiosyncratic movies. And also one of its best. For context, the film chronicles a botched heist from 2003, in which four Middle American university students- Spencer Reinhard, Warren Lipka, Eric Borsuk and Chas Allen- attempted to steal the rarest books from their school library, all for the express purpose of injecting a little excitement into their lives. Indeed, rather than being driven by financial gain or necessity, the movie posits that they were really just striving for a sense of worth and meaning in life, as if they were pursuing a twisted version of the American dream.

However because the details are so jumbled, with conflicting accounts and shaky recollections, it was a very hard to set the story straight.
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Real-Life ‘American Animals’ Subject Tells Us Whether He’s Profiting From Film’s Success (Video)

  • The Wrap
Real-Life ‘American Animals’ Subject Tells Us Whether He’s Profiting From Film’s Success (Video)
American Horror Story” star Evan Peters joked he wanted to know what it felt like to rob a convenience store with his real-life counterpart he portrays in the film, “American Animals.”

Peters plays Warren Lipka in Bart Layton’s movie — a hybrid of a fictionalized heist film and a documentary about four young men who tried to rob some priceless, rare books from a library in Kentucky. Irl Lipka serves as a charismatic, unpredictable and unreliable narrator of sorts in the film. He’s the ring leader of the lawless crew. And though Layton asked his actors not to interact with the feature’s real subjects, Peters said he embraced the spirit of the project and broke the rules.

“I was channeling Warren and I found Warren on Twitter, and messaged with him and started a correspondence, and one of the main things I wanted to ask him was, ‘Why?
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‘American Animals’ Review

Stars: Evan Peters, Blake Jenner, Barry Keoghan, Jared Abrahamson, Ann Dowd, Spencer Reinhard, Warren Lipka, Eric Borsuk, Chas Allen, Betty Jean Gooch | Written and Directed by Bart Layton

A few months ago in the midst of the turmoil that is Film Twitter, a question was asked: “What is the quintessential American film?” Inevitably the onslaught of answers served to be intriguing, after much thought iIbelieve in 2018 alone we have had two. The first being Scott Cooper’s devastatingly captivating and stoic western Hostiles. The second is Bart Layton’s devastating, traumatic dramatic/documentarian feature American Animals. The latter is a chaotic onslaught of horrifying consequence with the prompting of such a crime a varied and interesting delve into the white privileged psyche.

Layton utilises both a dramatic feature narrative threaded with a series of documentarian interviews with the real culprits of the crime. In doing so all rules and restrictions
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Movie Review – American Animals (2018)

American Animals, 2018.

Directed by Bart Layton.

Starring Barry Keoghan, Evan Peters, Blake Jenner, Jared Abrahamson, Ann Dowd, Spencer Reinhard, Warren Lipka, Eric Borsuk, Chas Allen, and Betty Jean Gooch.

Synopsis:

Four young men mistake their lives for a movie and attempt one of the most audacious heists in U.S. history.

Bart Layton follows his previous documentary The Imposter (2012) with American Animals, a hybrid documentary drama that details how a group of four seemingly average and normal American teens attempted to steal $12 million worth of rare books from their local library.

Opening with the printed statement “this is not based on a true story, this is a true story”, the unusual styling of Layton’s documentary is at the forefront. Combining both real life interviews with a heist movie is a genius move from Layton and one that he somehow balances perfectly. Spencer Reinhard (Keoghan) is an artist struggling to
See full article at Flickeringmyth »

Stealing the show by Amber Wilkinson

American Animals. Bart Layton: 'There was no road map in terms of the template and that was the thing with the producers and the financers, it was a totally unconventional process' Photo: Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival American Animals may look on the surface like a straightforward heist thriller, but Bart Layton's fiction debut is considerably cleverer than that. He draws us in to the true story of Warren Lipka (Evan Peters), Chas Allen (Blake Jenner), Spencer Reinhard (Barry Keoghan) and Eric Borsuk (Jared Abrahamson), mixing footage of the men's plan to steal rare books with interviews with the real-life perpetrators. All is not what it initially seems, however, and what starts as a thrill ride for all concerned because a examination of toxic masculinity and the nature of memory.

I caught up with Bart Layton and the cast at Sundance after the world premiere, and Layton explained how
See full article at eyeforfilm.co.uk »

Exclusive: Bart Layton & Barry Keoghan on blending reality with drama in American Animals

  • HeyUGuys
American Animals is a unique piece of cinema. Blending the documentary with drama, it comes from Bart Layton, the director behind The Imposter, and stars Barry Keoghan in the leading role. To celebrate the film’s release we sat down with the talented duo.

We asked Layton about the genesis of the project and if it was always his intention to blend this film with the documentary format, and whether he, as a filmmaker, now visualises real life stories on cinematic terms.

Keoghan discusses why the leading cast lived with each other before the shoot, and how helpful that experience was, and when he recalls that moment of clarity where he felt like he could consider himself to be an actor, and the luxury that comes with that; to be able to pick and choose projects. Layton then finishes by discussing his next project, and why he’s decided to
See full article at HeyUGuys »

Movie Review – American Animals (2018)

American Animals, 2018.

Directed by Bart Layton.

Starring Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner, Jared Abramson, Udo Kier, Ann Dowd, Spencer Reinhard, Warren Lipka, Chas Allen, and Eric Borsuk.

Synopsis:

Four young men mistake their lives for a movie and attempt one of the most audacious heists in U.S. history.

Bart Layton follows up his mesmerising 2012 documentary The Imposter with another delirious examination of unreliable narrators and the wild yarns they love to spin. Melding stranger-than-fiction subject matter with terrific performances and sharp below-the-line work, American Animals just might be one of 2018’s most fascinating cult curios in the making.

Layton’s film begins with the title card “This is not based on a true story”, before the “not based on” part quickly disappears. It’s a simple but effective mission statement, begging audiences to make up their own minds on what they’re about to see.

The story is
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Real to reel? The ‘true-life’ heist movie that steals the facts

American Animals, a thrilling tale of rare book theft, is a startling mix of fiction and reality. In the age of ‘alternative facts’ is this the way ahead for the documentary?

The first thing that viewers of the slippery new thriller American Animals will see is an unusual title card which reads: “This is not based on a true story.” The next thing we know, the words “not based on” have disappeared before our eyes. So is this film, which recounts a 2004 heist in Lexington, Kentucky, a drama or a documentary? Onscreen interviews with the criminals themselves – four bored young men who hatched a plot to steal valuable books (including Darwin’s On the Origin of Species) – tip the balance in favour of documentary. On the other hand, the film features fictionalised versions of the same people played by an able young cast, as well as the sort of glossy
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

With ‘American Horror Story’ & ‘American Animals’, Evan Peters Unpacks The Madness Of Acting And America Today

With ‘American Horror Story’ & ‘American Animals’, Evan Peters Unpacks The Madness Of Acting And America Today
Starring in all seven seasons of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story, and signing on recently for an eighth, Evan Peters has had the opportunity over the years to play all kinds of unsettling and utterly specific characters within the producer’s twisted domain, finding his most haunting—and most timely—role to date with Ahs: Cult’s Kai Anderson.

With his piercing gaze, his unnatural blue locks and his homicidal tendencies, cult leader Kai is the embodiment of madness, a 4chan scanning Alt-Right type taking advantage of confusion and chaos in an increasingly polarized America.

Possessing intense physicality and sheer force of personality—like Warren Lipka, Peters’ character in the upcoming true-crime drama American Animals—Kai embodies many aspects of what Peters looks for in roles. It feels fitting, then, that Kai is the role representing a shift in the actor’s career, as he collects his first Critics’ Choice Award nomination.
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American Animals – Review

(l-r) Jared Abrahamson as Eric, Evans Peters as Warren, Blake Jenner as Chas and Barry Keoghan as Spencer in disguise, in Bart Layton’s American Animals. Photo courtesy of The Orchard.

American Animals opens with a screen showing the familiar words “this is based on a true story” but the text quickly changes to “this is a true story,” a hook sure to get your attention,

American Animals tells a strange but true story, of a daring daylight art heist, by four college students who attempt to steal a rare and valuable Audubon book from a Kentucky university, but it is the way it tells it – with the actual people involved periodically commenting on the story as the actors recrete the events like any crime film.

The combination of narrative film and documentary film techniques makes writer/director Bart Layman’s film unique. Sometimes a narrative film closely recreates real
See full article at WeAreMovieGeeks.com »

American Animals Review: A Fascinating True Crime Story

American Animals Review: A Fascinating True Crime Story
American Animals is a fascinating true crime story; made even more engaging by its brilliant format. The film intercuts the portrayal of an infamous heist with interviews from the actual people involved. We learn the motivations of the characters from two key perspectives, real time and hindsight. It is a meticulous and highly creative exploration into the vagaries of human nature. Acclaimed documentarian Bart Layton reaches greatness with his first narrative feature.

American Animals opens in 2003 Kentucky. Barry Keoghan stars as Spencer Reinhard, a disenchanted art student at Transylvania University. His middle-class, suburban life has left him hollow. He yearns for the passion and adventure that inspired the great artists. A chance tour of the school's library leads to a presentation of its rare book collection. The showcase piece, John Audubon's "Birds of America", is the most valuable book in the world.

Evan Peters co-stars as Warren Lipka, Spencer's best friend from high school.
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‘American Animals’: Real-Life Heist Inspiration Spencer Reinhard on How His Life Was the Anti-‘Oceans 11’

‘American Animals’: Real-Life Heist Inspiration Spencer Reinhard on How His Life Was the Anti-‘Oceans 11’
With “Oceans 8” and “American Animals” now in theaters, heist movies are having a moment. It’s not hard to see why: During this chaotic chapter in the cultural history of the country, there’s nothing more fun than watching an elaborate cast of characters planning a near-impossible crime, one successfully pulled off with smooth moves, sleight of hand, and winks at the camera.

American Animals” has become a surprise summer hit at the specialty box office, grossing nearly half a million dollars in its first two weeks. But it’s a different kind of heist movie than anything in the “Ocean’s” franchise. The crime draws from a real-life incident — when four college-aged Kentucky men attempted to steal some rare books from Transylvania University in 2004 — and director Bart Layton flips the script on the audience, by bringing in the real people involved to tell their story alongside the actors midway through.
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Chicago Critics Film Festival 2018 Review – American Animals

American Animals, 2018.

Written and Directed by Bart Layton.

Starring Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner, Jared Abramson, Udo Kier, Ann Dowd, Spencer Reinhard, Warren Lipka, Chas Allen, and Eric Borsuk.

Synopsis:

Four young men mistake their lives for a movie and attempt one of the most audacious heists in U.S. history.

Imitation is supposedly the sincerest form of flattery, but is it possible for homages to feel cheap and uninspired in a heist story where the characters are overly reliant on similar films to guide their art gallery robbery? Most regular readers of my content have probably gathered that I’m a massive fan of Quentin Tarantino, so the thought of these misguided college students in cahoots (attempting to pull this off for varying reasons) reenacting the iconic scene from Reservoir Dogs where every member of the group is given a color as a codename certainly tickles my fancy,
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Sundance London: ‘American Animals’ Review: Dir. Bart Layton (2018)

American Animals review: Bart Layton’s latest gets a UK debut as the surprise film at the 2018 Sundance London film festival.

American Animals review by Scott Davis.

American Animals review

Who doesn’t love a good heist movie? One of the more successful and indeed thrilling sub-genres of cinema, there’s an immediate allure to them in that somewhere in the dark recesses of our minds, we wonder whether we could have the foresight and intelligence to pull it off as convincingly as those on-screen. The answer is probably firmly in the negative category but the thrill and excitement that comes with such things is what keeps us coming back to the cinema equivalent. In writer/director Bart Layton’s first semi-narrative feature, he takes us into such a world where a group of young men believed that they have the necessary skills over a decade ago but found real-life much more unforgiving.
See full article at The Hollywood News »

‘American Animals’ Film Review: Entertainingly Fizzy Heist Movie Defies Expectations

‘American Animals’ Film Review: Entertainingly Fizzy Heist Movie Defies Expectations
Surely the 21st century equivalent to the old Hollywood trope “Let’s put on a show!” is, judging by the movies that get made, “Let’s pull off a heist!” What that says about the evolution of our wish-fulfillment fantasies is a tad worrisome, so it’s refreshing that “American Animals,” which recreates and dissects a real 2004 robbery committed by a quartet of thrill-seeking college kids, grasps that there’s something singularly regrettable in how our popular art glorifies criminality.

And yet, for a good deal of its running time, writer-director Bart Layton’s slick, music-fueled assemblage of recreated narrative and documentary manages to be as deftly comic and suspenseful as the bank job movies from which Layton, and the incident’s perpetrators, took inspiration. Until, that is, the reality of bad decisions and corrosive entitlement act as an all-too-necessary dampener.

The crime was known as the “Transy Book Heist.
See full article at The Wrap »

Movie Review – American Animals (2018)

American Animals. 2018.

Directed by Bart Layton.

Starring Ann Dowd, Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner, Udo Kier, Jared Abrahamson, Warren Lipka, Spencer Reinhard, Chas Allen, Eric Borsuk, and Betty Jean Gooch.

Synopsis:

Four young men mistake their lives for a movie and attempt one of the most audacious heists in U.S. history.

“Animals” are wild at heart. Restless when caged. Capable of lashing out despite better judgment in unpredictable ways when lulled into a state of dull contempt. Domestication subdues only for so long before there reaches a point of restless objection, which is the very basis of Bart Layton’s American Animals. A true crime hybrid that both retells and reimagines 2004’s monumentally botched Transylvania University “Transy Book Heist” that would have been worth $12 million in literature/artwork – *would have* translating to “What if?” for four thoughtless adolescents. An “opportunity of a lifetime,” arrogance in youthful abandon and
See full article at Flickeringmyth »

'American Animals' Review: Who Likes Doc Hybrids About Dumb Criminals?

'American Animals' Review: Who Likes Doc Hybrids About Dumb Criminals?
You'd call this heist film un-fucking-believable, except that American Animals really is rooted in fact – that is, whenever the British documentarian Bart Layton, in a mightily impressive narrative feature debut, doesn't mess around too much. "This is not based on a true story," reads a title card at the start ... before the words "not based on" slowly vanish from the screen.

It's 2004 in Lexington, Kentucky, when homeboys Spencer Reinhard (Barry Keoghan) and Warren Lipka (Evan Peters), students at local Transylvania University, decide to pull off a robbery. They don't need the money,
See full article at Rolling Stone »

'American Animals': Inside the Stranger-Than-Fiction Docu-Heist Thriller

'American Animals': Inside the Stranger-Than-Fiction Docu-Heist Thriller
When filmmaker Bart Layton first began to investigate the story of four young men who tried to steal $12 million worth of old books from the Transylvania University library, he intended to make a documentary. Then he started exchanging letters with the guys, who were – spoiler alert – sitting in prison, their crime having failed spectacularly. That's when his plan changed.

"The starting point has to be the story, and this was a story about a group of young men who are almost trying to inhabit a movie fantasy instead of their real lives,
See full article at Rolling Stone »

Teenagers Who Famously Tried to Steal Millions from a College Library on Their 'Extreme' Story

Teenagers Who Famously Tried to Steal Millions from a College Library on Their 'Extreme' Story
13 years ago, four privileged teenagers with bright futures and everything to lose went through with a half-baked scheme to steal millions of dollars worth of rare books from a local college. The story behind the brazen and bizarre heist, which has gone down as one of the most famous in history, is now coming to theaters in American Animals, out Friday.

“Lots of people make bad decisions when they’re young and nothing comes of those mistakes,” Spencer Reinhard, one of the group’s two original organizers, tells People. “In our instance, we picked something a little more extreme and
See full article at PEOPLE.com »

Best Movies to See in June: 'Ocean's 8,' 'Jurassic World 2,' New Pixar

This June has no shortage of potential summer-movie crowd-pleasers, from the return of Pixar's unstoppable super-family to a heist packed with famous faces to a cataclysmic meltdown featuring gigantic, genetically-altered dinosaurs. Thankfully, if blockbusters aren't your bag, you're also getting a cavalcade of Sundance favorites heading your way, including a doc on public television's unstoppable real-life superhero and a cataclysmic horror-movie meltdown featuring a hell-hath-no-fury Toni Collette. Here's what you'll be seeing at (hopefully air-conditioned) theater near you this month.

Action Point (June 1st)

Buckle that seatbelt and adjust
See full article at Rolling Stone »
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