The Tyler Perry name-brand provokes an impulsive knee jerk response. Either you’re on the bandwagon or you’re vehemently against. This Friday’s Peeples presents quite the conundrum for the Perry-less faction of viewers. While the film sports Perry’s name on the one sheet, the man didn’t direct the film instead serving as producer. The credit here belongs to Tina Gordon Chism, the writer behind the much-better-than they-ought to-be Drumline and ATL. Peeples – her first stab as writer/director – is no exception to this norm. I’ll admit a certain amount of trepidation before the lights dimmed; but within the first reel, I was quickly won over by the film’s quick and gentle wit.
Much of the film’s merit can be laid onto its game cast – in particular David Alan Grier (In Living Color)and S. Epatha Merkerson (Law & Order) as the patri/matri-arch to potential son-in-law Craig Robinson. In the following interview with the duo, Merkerson and Grier talk acting opposite film-legends Melvin Van Peebles and Diahann Carroll and reveal the art in using comedy to deal with serious subject matters. In addition Grier discussed the planned reboot of the classic sketch-comedy In Living Color and why ultimately it failed. For the full interview, hit the jump.
Saturday at the Los Angeles Times Hero Complex Festival, Guillermo del Toro was on hand to discuss his two greatest and most personal films: The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth. During the far-reaching conversation Del Toro gave updates on the currently in development Justice League Dark and the status of his HBO series Monster (based on the Japanese manga by author Naoki Urasawa).
On Justice League Dark, Del Toro revealed that his script features Constantine, The Swamp Thing, Madame Xanadu, Deadman and Zantanna as the team. He stated that there are other characters in the mix too (“everybody that doesn’t feel like a repeat”) – but any additional info would be too ‘spoilery’ for the hypothetical film. However Del Toro is still waiting for the go-ahead from Warner Brothers (perhaps box-office returns on Man of Steel and Pacific Rim will dictate it’s fate). Per Del Toro “If they [Warners] like the [script], I’ll do it; if not…” For additional highlights from the Q&A including an update on Monster and an all new trailer for his summer tent-pole robots-vs.-monsters flick Pacific Rim, hit the jump.
There’s an interesting pairing schematic to this week’s Tyler Perry produced comedy Peeples. Craig Robinson and Kerry Washington star as a seemingly perfect couple… The only hitch: she’s yet to introduce her beau to the family (David Alan Grier & S. Epatha Merkerson). Both Robinson and Grier are primarily thought of as comedians, the former – a utility player in pretty much every comedy of the past five years, the latter – a founding member of one of the great sketch comedy shows: In Living Color. Their other halves however are played by dramatic actresses: Washington – the elusive object of affection in Django Unchained, Merkerson – the longest running cast member of Law & Order. The intermingling of drama and comedy performers lends the film a strong balance as a ‘dramedy’. Sure Peeples is a familiar riff on Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner/Meet the Parents; but it’s also a surprisingly charming film – and that can all be attributed to the cast and their interplay within.
In the following interview with Robinson and Washington, the duo discuss how Peeples allowed them to branch out from their comfort zones and how they choose film projects given their heavy television schedules. Robinson also discusses his penchant for playing children’s teachers (the comedian has a background in education) and gives a brief update on the status of Hot Tub Time Machine 2. For the full interview, hit the jump.
The cast of Evil Dead, remake to Sam Raimi’s original kids-go-to-a-cabin, kids-get-massacred-by-evil-demons classic, are certainly put through the ringer in this new updated version. The three interviewees of this article are forced to endure a bevy of indignities: nail-gun wounds, a really sharp needle, shards of glass, the top of a bathroom toilet, bloody vomit, etc.… And yet to hear the threesome talk about it –the experience shooting the picture was the time of their life. There’s a loose rapport between the trio that’s impossible to fake – and that camaraderie certainly extends to the film itself. There’s a real sense of shared friendship between their characters – which makes the inevitable demons massacring them all the more tragic.
At the film’s press day, co-stars Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci and Jessica Lucas discussed creating such bonds in a relatively short amount of time, working under heavy prosthetics and the rehearsal process for the film. For the full interview, hit the jump.
Blood flows freely; limbs tear from torso; glass, nails, needles puncture young flesh. Evil Dead, Fede Alvarez’s remake of the Sam Raimi classic, more than lives up to its predecessor’s quota for gore. There’s a new charm to this flick. Gone is the original’s shaggy, dirty, almost dangerous feel. This new entry is slicker, more composed, somehow safer. It’s strange to describe a film where a girl cuts off her own arm as ‘feel good’ – but the violence is so pronounced, so gruesome it transcends horror into something akin to catharsis. The story is ostensibly the same: a group of twentysomethings (here played by Shiloh Fernandez, Jane Levy, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas and Elizabeth Blackmore) take refuge in a cabin, only to accidentally unleash the malicious possessing demons in the surrounding woods. One by one, they are possessed and mutilated. It’s a simple yet perfect setup – and the film makes ample use of finding new and increasingly unseemly ways to off these poor kids. As the body count rises and literal buckets of blood rain onto the remnant survivors, it’s impossible not to smile at the sheer audacity of grue on display.
At the film’s press day, director Fede Alvarez and star Jane Levy discussed the process of creating a prosthetic/gory moment, recreating moments from the original film and what tone a hypothetical sequel would take. For the full interview, hit the jump.
The Conjuring, James Wan’s (Saw) newest horror film, purports to be the true story of a haunting and the original ghost hunters who investigated it. In 1970, the Perron family (Roger & Carolyn Perron and their five daughters) moved onto a farm in Rhode Island. Little did they know the site was also home to a number of the deceased. Per eldest daughter Andrea Perron: “For almost a decade our family lived among the dead. There we came to understand we are not alone and there is something beyond mortal existence.” (as documented in her book House of Darkness, House of Light). Of course – Hollywood can’t resist a good based-on-a-true-story horror film. And now the Perron’s ten-year ordeal (or was it?) is a full-fledged motion picture starring Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga and Lili Taylor, among others.
At WonderCon, the real life Perron daughters discussed their surprisingly positive feelings towards being haunted and how they coped as adults having lived through such an ‘ordeal’. In addition, executive producer Walter Hamada discussed how hands on he was with James Wan directing (i.e. not very) and what can we expect from the newest trailer for the film set to debut alongside Evil Dead’s release. For the full video interview, hit the jump.
Hannibal Lecter has undergone many a different iteration – from the coolly cerebral Brian Cox to the scarily menacing Anthony Hopkins to the more toothless anti-hero Hopkins played up in the sequels to whatever-the-hell Hannibal Rising was supposed to be. It’s a character that has unfortunately become watered down with each new version presented. It’s remarkable now that a network television channel would base an entire series around a cannibal serial killer – but it speaks to just how defanged the character has become. However the new Hannibal as presented in Bryan Fuller’s upcoming show (based on the first two episodes previewed) presents dare-I-say-it the most unsettling characterization of Hannibal yet. Gone are any of the affectations of an Anthony Hopkins, instead replaced by pure detached malevolence. For the full review, hit the jump.
James Wan, the talented filmmaker behind Saw and Insidious, was on hand this at WonderCon (ComicCon’s little brother) this weekend to promote his newest horror/ghost-story The Conjuring. Much like Insidious, the film focuses on the haunting of a family and the paranormal investigators tasked with ending such woes. However unlike Insidious, The Conjuring purports to be a true story. There really was a Perron family – and they (per Andrea Perron’s book and recollections) really were haunted by the supernatural for close to nearly a decade. The validity of such claims seems like a moot point – as based on the quick teaser and footage shown, the film seems terrifying enough on its own be it fictional or not.
In the following video interview with Wan, he discloses his fascination with ‘true’ supernatural tales, the testing process on The Conjuring and when the next trailer for the film is set to premiere. Hit the jump to watch.
by Tommy Cook Posted: March 16th, 2013 at 10:07 pm
The Call marks a serious turning point for child-star Abigail Breslin (that cute girl from Little Miss Sunshine and Signs). Breslin stars as Casey Wilson, a naive teenager, who after taken hostage by a madman, slowly comes into her own as a woman. Much like Casey’s arc in the film, Breslin herself seems poised to transition from the cherub-cheeked roles of yesteryear to more serious adult fare. Just one look at her upcoming slate of films is ample evidence: Ender’s Game, Final Girl, Haunter, August: Osage County… With such an eclectic mixture of big budget, Oscar-bait, indie and genre horror films on the horizon, Breslin seems more than up for such a challenging transition.
In the following interview with Abigail Breslin, she discusses transitioning to more adult roles, the difficulties of acting in a trunk and her upcoming parts in both the big budget Ender’s Game & the indie horror Haunter. For the full interview, hit the jump.
Morris Chestnut has become a de-facto supporting player for mid-budget Hollywood fare. The talented actor still hasn’t quite found a role fitting of the talent he displayed as Ricky in his debut Boyz N The Hood; but he makes the most of whatever limited screen-time/thin material he’s given. He’s easily the best thing in best-forgotten junk like The Cave or Half Past Dead. In this Friday’s The Call, Chestnut still doesn’t have nearly enough to do. As Officer Paul Phillips, most of Chestnut’s screen time is relegated to pensively reacting to Halle Berry over a walkie-talkie; but yet again Chestnut ably coveys complexities to a relationship not given nearly enough lip service. It’s a testament to the actor that the role is more than just the ‘inefficient cop’/’potential love interest’.
In the following candid interview with Morris Chestnut, he discusses the genre work he’s done in the past and why The Call is so much better, his preparation process for playing an officer and his upcoming role in Kick Ass 2. For the full interview, hit the jump.
Brad Anderson’s The Call, a particularly fine little thriller in the doldrums of March, sports a welcome return for thriller-maven Halle Berry. Sure Berry is a so-called ‘serious actor’; but in between her “Things We Lost In The Fire” and “Monster’s Ball”, she has a penchant for mixing it up with decidedly and proudly ‘B’ pictures. The Rich Man’s Wife, Gothika, Swordfish, Perfect Stranger, Dark Tide… In The Call, the newest and best of this bunch, Berry stars as Jordan Turner – a 911 operator, whose mishandling of a call leaves a young girl dead and Berry/Jordan beyond shaken. Cut to six-months later and Jordan finds herself once again on the other line attempting to help a young girl (Abigail Breslin) out of the clutches of a madman. It’s a difficult role – in that for a majority of the film, Berry is seated behind a computer, on the phone while all the action occurs elsewhere. Ostensibly, Berry is acting and reacting opposite a phone — and she sells it for all it’s worth. A serious actress indeed.
In the following interview with Berry, she reveals her favorite thrillers, the importance of spelling for 911 operators and how big her role will be in the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past. For the full interview, hit the jump.
Brad Anderson has slowly but surely proven to be one of the most efficient and solid filmmakers in the horror/thriller genre. It’s odd to think that the writer/director of such quirky romantic character studies as Happy Accidents and Next Stop Wonderland would go on to make such decidedly unsettling films as The Machinist and Session 9. The Call marks the next stepping-stone in Anderson’s career – it’s easily the most mainstream of the indie filmmaker’s work and instead of the slow burn menace of Transsiberian or Session 9, The Call eschews that in favor of plain old-fashion white-knuckle thrills. However, The Call – still feels at one with Anderson. It’s a successful blending of mainstream material with Anderson’s more perverse and indie sensibilities.
In the following interview with Brad Anderson, he discusses balancing his own ‘auteurship’ while adjusting his style to someone else’s material, the importance of pace/editing and his penchant for ‘contained-space’ films.
by Tommy Cook Posted: February 28th, 2013 at 9:17 am
There’s just something eerie about Matthew Goode (Watchmen). It’s almost as if the poor guy is too damn good looking, his smile a little too perfect, his hair too evenly keeled and parted… There must surely be something wrong with him. If it is human instinct to weed out the proper characteristics of even the most undesirable of beings, then the opposite must also be true. One can’t help but search for any imperfection to poor ol’ Goode’s character. Behind that smile and hair, there must lurk something less. And Goode uses that to his full advantage. As the too charming, too handsome Uncle Charlie in the melodrama-masquerading-as-a-thriller Stoker, Goode revels in the malevolence hiding just underneath his pearly whites. After the sudden death of his brother, Uncle Charlie shacks up with his sibling’s widowed wife and young daughter under the guise of helping them through their grief. Of course his true intentions are far more perverse and sinister.
In the following interview with Goode, he discusses his distaste for most horror films, working with the meticulous Park Chan-Wook (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance) and his upcoming roles in television (BBC’s Dancing on the Edge) and film (the period piece Belle). For the full interview, hit the jump.
by Tommy Cook Posted: February 26th, 2013 at 3:43 pm
Park Chan-Wook’s (Old Boy) American debut Stoker, an odd little film if ever there was one, has the Asian auteur taking on Hitchcock. Ostensibly a remake/reimagining/updating of Hitch’s own Shadow of a Doubt, Stoker centers on a young pubescent girl, whose father has recently died under ‘mysterious’ circumstances. Enter an equally ‘mysterious’ long lost uncle (Mathew Goode), a series of murders, a distant never-present mother (Nicole Kidman) – and Park has all the ingredients he needs to make a pretty damn efficient thriller/melodrama. Ol’ Hitch would be proud.
Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) is the standout here. As India, the fatherless young woman who comes to suspect her ‘Uncle Charlie’ is a murderer, Wasikowska deftly uses her delicate features as a counterbalance to her character’s darker and more perverse proclivities — for the film is less a mystery about who Uncle Charlie is and more so who India really is. In the following interview with Wasikowska, she discusses working with Park Chan Wook, India’s ‘self-discovery’, a potential sequel to Alice in Wonderland and her upcoming vampire Jim Jarmusch film Only Lovers Left Alive. For the full interview, hit the jump.
by Tommy Cook Posted: February 25th, 2013 at 6:53 pm
Stoker marks the latest in a long line of risky independent pictures for the enduringly talented and ageless Nicole Kidman. The Paperboy, Rabbit Hole, Margot at the Wedding, Birth – Kidman isn’t afraid to take a chance on risky material or art-house filmmakers. In Stoker, Kidman co-stars as Evelyn, the neglectful mother to India, a weird and troubled girl. Evelyn doesn’t know what to make of her daughter – her own flesh and blood a stranger even to herself. After her husband suddenly dies, Evelyn finds herself drawn to her husband’s long-thought-lost brother Charlie, unaware that her brother-in-law only has eyes for her daughter.
In the following interview with Kidman, she discusses her favorite Hitchcock films, working with as meticulous a filmmaker as Park Chan Wook and playing screen icon Grace Kelly in the upcoming Grace of Monaco. For the full interview, hit the jump.