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Sandra Bullock makes ‘The Lost City’ feel like home at SXSW

Directors Adam Nee and Aaron Nee, Liza Chasin, Daniel Radcliffe and Sandra Bullock onstage during the SXSW world premiere of “The Lost City.”
(Sarah Kerver/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures)

Just as some people are better at their jobs than others, some movie stars are just good at being movie stars. At Saturday night’s SXSW premiere of “The Lost City,” Sandra Bullock had a good day at the office, taking over the Austin, Texas, Paramount Theatre with an amiable ease.

Directors and co-writers Adam and Aaron Nee were at the SXSW Film Festival in 2006 with their first feature “The Last Romantic” — which they noted they had made for $18,000 — and have now returned with a movie being released by Paramount Pictures later this month. “I remember the filmmakers with the big movies and being like, ‘Those guys aren’t indie guys,’” said Adam Nee, “And so now we’re those guys.”

The screenplay is credited to Oren Uziel, Dana Fox and the Nee brothers, from a story by Seth Gordon. In introducing “The Lost City,” Adam Nee said, “We just feel like it’s a great escape, like the movies that we grew up on when we were young, like ‘Raiders’ and ‘Romancing the Stone’ where it just feels like a joyful fun escape from life. And I hope it’s that for you.”

Producer Liza Chasin, Bullock and Daniel Radcliffe joined the directors on stage before the film. Bullock playfully took charge, asking the Nee brothers if they covered everything they needed to. As she rattled off a list of topics, Bullock noted, “I think you covered what was most important.”

“The Lost City” is the first film Bullock, who lives in Austin, has had play at the SXSW Film Festival. She said, “The first movie I ever made here and produced was ‘Miss Congeniality’ and I realized then that I’d moved to the right place. Seriously, I moved to the right place, I moved to a place that made me feel like I was home.”

(Kimberley French/Paramount Pictures)
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In the film Bullock plays Loretta Sage, a romance novelist who has grown tired of her signature characters and in particular the handsome model Alan (Channing Tatum) who appears on the covers of all her books and seems to half-believe he really is the fictional romantic hero Dash. Loretta is kidnapped by eccentric billionaire Abigail Fairfax (Radcliffe), who is convinced she can help him find a mythical jeweled headpiece on a remote island in the Atlantic about to be destroyed by a volcano.

Alan tries to save her, but just gets them both drawn further into an adventure neither of them initially wanted to be on but eventually both of them want to see through to the end. Brad Pitt has a small, scene-stealing role as Jack Trainer, a former soldier Alan enlists to help save Loretta, while Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Patti Harrison and Oscar Nuñez also have strong supporting turns.

After the screening, everyone took to the stage again. A number of questions found their way back to the sequined jumpsuit Bullock wears through much of the movie and the scene where she removes leeches from the behind of Tatum (or Tatum’s body double).

Bullock joked that Pitt was the eighth choice for his part but then added, “He and I have the same hairdresser. She told him to do my movie and she told me to do his movie and that is the honest to goodness truth.”

Talking about her work with Chasin producing the movie, Bullock said, “We’re very A-type, we’re very bitchy and very bossy,” which got a beleaguered double take from Chasin before Bullock added, “I said ‘we.’”

Sandra Bullock speaks to a fan at the world premiere of “The Lost City” at the SXSW Film Festival at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas.
(Sarah Kerver/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures)

A small boy wearing a T-shirt that said, “My mom is Sandra Bullock’s biggest fan,” patiently waited in line with other people wanting to ask questions and when he came to the microphone he said he wanted to present Bullock with a book from Brazil. She came to the edge of the stage and knelt down for a moment with the boy to accept the gift. Bullock then made sure that everyone else waiting in line got a chance to ask their questions too, rather than cutting things short for time.

Everyone left feeling warm, entertained and like they had just shared in something special. Some people are just very good at their jobs.


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