Nicolas Winding Refn and Liv Corfixen Talk MY LIFE DIRECTED Documentary, Running Out of Money During Filming, Dodging Expectations, and More

by     Posted 50 days ago

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Filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn will always be divisive yet I don’t think he minds.  He loves to shirk off what you expect from him, which can be agitating to people that latch onto one or two of his films and think they know what they are getting when they see his latest film.  The most recent example of this is Only God Forgives, which was Refn’s follow-up collaboration with Ryan Gosling after the critically and commercially successful Drive.  A new documentary called My Life Directed By Nicolas Winding Refn is from Refn’s wife, Liv Corfixen, and follows the struggles to get the film made and how arduous his process is.  It’s a documentary that truly puts you in the heart of the filmmaking process and what it takes to balance being a director on set and having your family live with you for six months on location in Bangkok.  What becomes clear throughout the 58-minute documentary is how much that balance takes a toll on everyone.

As enlightening as it is about Refn’s process and how he freewheels at times because of the freeing nature of shooting in chronological order, My Life Directed is a film that really nails his relationship with Corfixen and how that bond needs attention even when everyone else needs it as well.  A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit down with Refn and Corfixen to talk about the world premiere of the film at Fantastic Fest and we hit on some interesting details. During our chat we touched on why the film is only 58 minutes long and whether there was any intention to extend it, whether Refn believes he should have won the Palme d’Or, why he switched from composer Peter Peter to working with Cliff Martinez, how they had little boosts of money that helped get the film made, why the film is just now coming out instead of closer to Only God Forgives‘ release, whether Refn ever wanted to stop being filmed, the commercial prospects of an hour long documentary, and much more. For the full interview, hit the jump.

DREDD 3D Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 1 year, 339 days ago

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Dredd was one of my biggest surprises last year.  There’s a straightforward nature to the film that never lets up.  The action is right in that sweet spot of new and familiar.  However, the best part of the film is what separates it from its predecessor: a main character that doesn’t smack of cheesy popcorn films.  Sylvester Stallone‘s variant had a goofy sidekick and lots of helmetless Dredd, which is an egregious change from the comics its based.  This time there is no useless and goofy sidekick along for the ride and Dredd, played here by the excellently-cast Karl Urban, keeps his helmet on.  Then there’s the 3D aspect that doesn’t play by normal conventions and some shocking violence that is made all the more beautiful by the slow-mo drug and third dimension.  This feels like the film 2000 AD fans have been waiting for, and even as a newbie you can find a lot here to sink your teeth into.  Hit the jump for my full review of the disc and why the special features leave you wanting more.

Action Star Donnie Yen Talks DRAGON, Why He Turned Down THE EXPENDABLES 2, Period Versus Modern, Whether Breaking Out in the U.S. is a Goal, and More

by     Posted 2 years, 22 days ago

While Donnie Yen made a name for himself on American shores with his breakout hit in 2008, Ip Man, his reputation was established for many martial arts action film fans long before he ever played the Wing Chun grandmaster.  I spoke with the multi-talented Yen earlier this year in promotion of his upcoming film, Wu Xia (or Dragon).  The period film, set in 1917 China, revolves around an investigation into his character, Liu Jinxi, and the mysterious death of two criminals that were attempting to rob a general store.  Some have likened the film to David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence, and the careful balance between fighting for what is right even if it doesn’t benefit the greater good is touched on.

While the conversation strayed from touching on Dragon directly, I did get his thoughts on playing a character with a reserved nature, the differences between a period film and a modern film, and his preferences between the two.  Additionally, we talked about how he feels he is a martial arts chameleon, his reason for turning down The Expendables 2, how much he trains between films, his love of MMA, and much more.  You can find the complete interview after the jump. 

J. Michael Straczynski Talks Studio JMS, Joe’s Comics, EPIDEMIC, VLAD DRACULA, His Desire To Work With Neil Gaiman, and More

by     Posted 2 years, 146 days ago

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Earlier this month I had the opportunity to sit down with creator J. Michael Straczynski, widely known as JMS, to talk about his past, present, and future.  JMS has had long tenures as the creator and head writer for Babylon 5, a long and well-received run on Thor and Spider-Man, time spent as a journalist, script writer, and much more.  Straczynski was a willing participant as he fielded all manner of questions about him being a control freak, how he tried to hide from the crossover events that he clashed with in The Amazing Spider-Man by taking over Thor, and how he plans to utilize the Joe’s Comics imprint at Image Comics.  Hit the jump for a full transcript of my interview.

Comic-Con: BLADE RUNNER 30th Anniversary Panel Recap; The Replicant Debate, Which Version of the Film Is Best, Possibility of a Remake and More

by     Posted 2 years, 150 days ago

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Blade Runner celebrated it’s 30th anniversary at Comic-Con this year, and I was on hand during the celebratory panel to take notes of all that occurred.  Art director David Snyder, journalist Paul M. Sammon (Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner), and DVD/Blu-ray producer Charles Lauzirika made up the very informal panel that basically consisted of them moderating themselves and fielding a slew of questions.  The reason, according to Sammon, was because at the last panel the year before they simply had too many people on the panel and it was a slog to get the banter and information beyond the simple answers.

During the panel they talked about filming at the Bradbury Building, the replicant issue, their preferred version of the film, how they shot at night because the set wasn’t complete, where the props went, and how much deleted footage was kept off of the special features.  So hit the jump for all of that and more.

Comic-Con: STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS Panel Recap: How Lucas Requested Darth Maul’s Return, Why Space Battles Are Hard To Pull Off and More

by     Posted 2 years, 154 days ago

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While the prequels have a poor reputation among many Star Wars fans, Star Wars: The Clone Wars has proven that there are worthy stories to be told within that time period.  The cartoon show has introduced new characters and shown many more die.  While it certainly follows Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, the side characters are put in constant mortal peril and it creates a thrilling journey.  Darth Maul has been revived in the series despite missing half of his torso (he’s a little stir-crazy when we first meet him), and the panel talked quite a bit about the upcoming season while also explaining the tremendous Umbara story arc that was one of the highlights of Season Four.

Instead of having the voice cast twiddle their thumbs as they rarely make creative decisions, last Saturday’s panel featured the talents of supervising director David Filoni and head writer Matt Michnovetz moderated by Star Wars author Pablo Hidalgo.  Hit the jump for the full recap of one of the most lively and interesting panels at Comic-Con this year.

Comic-Con: ADVENTURE TIME Panel Features Live Radio Play With Audio; A Brief Look At New Flame Princess Episode

by     Posted 2 years, 158 days ago

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Without a doubt, Adventure Time has one of the most rabid followings of any animated show currently out there.  If you’ve been to Comic-Con, you likely have seen a ton of Finn, Jake, or Fionna outfits.  The cartoon smartly appeals to boys, girls, and men and women with a zany world and fun story that builds on itself.  Oh, and not to mention a catch-phrase that you can say to any fan that they will immediately respond to.  This was one of my most-anticipated panels in San Diego this year and as a new fan I was not disappointed Saturday afternoon.  Creator and voice of Lumpy Space Princess Pendleton Ward was on hand to moderator the panel filled with songwriter Rebecca Sugar, Jeremy Shada (Finn), John DiMaggio (Jake), and Tom Kenny (Ice King).  Hit the jump for the panel highlights, the radio play audio, and a full description of the upcoming Flame Princess episode clip shown.

Comic-Con: TRON: UPRISING Panel Shows Tron’s Path Towards Rinzler, Mythology, Character Design, and More

by     Posted 2 years, 159 days ago

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Greetings, Programs!  Room 6A on Friday morning was treated to an in-depth and detailed look at the upcoming episodes of TRON: Uprising, one of my favorite animated shows on television right now.  If you loved the look and feel of TRON: Legacy, this show definitely has you covered.  However, for those that really wanted the mythology of Tron explored, this show fits that bill as well.  The show picks up not long before Legacy and tells the story of Tron’s first renegade alliance with a fellow program.  For fans, we were treated to a sneak peek at an excellent episode that will showcase how Tron got his distinctive scar and how he eventually turned bad.  Hit the jump for a full panel recap.

Comic-Con: AFTER EARTH Panel Shows Training Footage, Concept Art, and the Art of World Building

by     Posted 2 years, 159 days ago

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M. Night Shyamalan is not a popular director right now, as evidenced by the boos as soon as his name appeared on screen, but the world writer Gary Whitta (The Book of Eli) is building in After Earth might be enough to overcome that.  In Room 6A today a lively panel ensued discussing the film and the heights they hope to reach.  While sometimes they like to usher out big names for these panels, this was strictly the creative talent.  Joining Whitta on stage was cinematographer Peter Suschitzky and writers Robert Greenberger and Michael Freedman.  Also on stage was author and After Earth bible co-creator Peter David and Dynamite comic book illustrator Beni Lobel.  While what was shown might not convince someone, it was enough to shift my interest level to elevated.  Hit the jump to find out more about the reveals and all the work the crew did to give us a fully realized story that isn’t written on the fly.

Comic-Con: The Character of Music Panel with Nathan Johnson, TRON: Uprising’s Joseph Trapanese, and More

by     Posted 2 years, 160 days ago

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Music is an incredibly important factor in film and television.  That goes without saying, really, but discussions of music in depth and detail with the composers and collaborators that produce the music are rarely done.  That’s why Room 5AB was a treat last night, as composer Blake Neely and executive producer Marc Guggenheim (Arrow), composer Chris Lennertz and showrunner Eric Kripke (Revolution, Supernatural), composer Joseph Trapanese and showrunner Charlie Bean (TRON: Uprising), and composer Nathan Johnson and director Rian Johnson (Looper) joined moderators Anne Cecere, director of film and TV relations of BMI, and Chandler Poling, founder of White Bear PR, to talk about music’s role in TV and movies.   Hit the jump for a full recap.

Comic-Con: Nickelodeon’s TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES Shows off Age Changes, Animation, Rocking New Intro, and Premiere Date

by     Posted 2 years, 160 days ago

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The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a big part of my childhood.  I grew up in this sweet spot where the cartoon was incredibly popular and we got the first few movies and a slew of video games.  I entered into Friday’s panel at Room 6BCF with hesitation.  A few animated films that never took off and some jittery cartoon series have since come out and I’ve grown older.  I can safely say, though, that while there are some big changes afoot, I think showrunner Ciro Neili knows just what buttons to push to revitalize this franchise.  During a lively panel we were shown some brief character intros, Neili’s concept art, clips of test footage, and much more.  Jason Biggs (Leonardo), Rob Paulsen (Donatello), Sean Astin (Raphael), Greg Cipes (Michaelangelo), Mae Whitman (April O’Neil), Hoon Lee (Splinter), and Kevin Michael Richardson (Shredder) were all on hand to share their experiences and individual love for the property.  Hit the jump for more details.

Comic-Con: Blu-Ray Producers Panelists Talk Special Features and Quick Turnarounds

by     Posted 2 years, 160 days ago

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Special features are a highlight of buying a home video these days for myself and many others.  Sometimes it can make the purchase worthy of the monetary value itself.  You can read as much as you want, but nothing compares to a visual medium explaining, showing, and telling you about a favorite film or television show.  Earlier today at Comic-Con I had the pleasure of sitting in during a special feature discussion in Room 5AB.  The panel began with moderator Bill Hunt introducing his compatriots at Digital Bits, Todd Doogan and Dr. Adam Jahnke.  He also went down the panel further, introducing Charles de Lauzirika (Prometheus, The Amazing Spider-Man), Cliff Stephenson (The Hunger Games), Robert Meyer Burnett (Star Trek: The Next Generation-Seasons One and Two), and Warner Home Video’s former senior VP of theatrical catalog marketing and current head of digital distribution, George Feltenstein.  Legal battles, film restoration, and the struggles to turn around a DVD and Blu-ray with special features already included before a film even hits theaters were among the topics discussed.  Hit the jump for more.

THE RAVEN Review

by     Posted 2 years, 238 days ago

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Sometimes a film makes you wonder if Hollywood truly is running out of ideas. Or maybe director James McTeigue just wanted to put John Cusack in period dress and the Sherlock Holmes franchise was already taken. Tone-deaf, The Raven squanders an intriguing idea with dull action set pieces and an unfocused theme. The plot revolves around grisly murders that replicate Edgar Allan Poe’s most horrific works in an attempt to get the not-so-famous Poe to solve the case in Baltimore. For those unaware, this isn’t based on a true story. Hit the jump for my full review.

PROJECT X Review

by     Posted 2 years, 294 days ago

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Imagine the ultimate high school senior year house party from the male perspective and push it over the edge. That’s a rough description of the absurdity and chaos that breaks out in the latest handheld camera film called Project X. Following three seniors trying to throw a party that will get them noticed once and for all, they end up losing control and everything turns into absolute chaos as it expands. However, that’s after they have a whole hell of a lot of fun getting there. Unfortunately, like waking up with a hangover, the ending of this film almost ruins what happened before. Almost. Hit the jump for my full review.

THE GREY Review

by     Posted 2 years, 330 days ago

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The world really couldn’t care less. That’s the opinion of Joe Carnahan’s The Grey, a bleak and gritty look at survival in the middle of Alaska’s harsh wilderness. This is man versus nature to an extreme extent, and there exists few gimmicks. Carnahan seems to have taken a back to basics approach and delivers the goods. Considering his past few films and their loud, cartoonish ways, there is an odd confidence that the course he is on is something worth sticking with. Liam Neeson is a standout among his fellow survivors, but everything works towards a common goal that doesn’t feel hampered by conventions. While it may be bleak, the journey is entertaining because of all the surprises and the sheer quality of the product. Hit the jump for my full review.

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