Sonoma International Film Festival 2014 Recap and Reviews for BESIDE STILL WATERS, JADOO, and More

by     Posted 9 days ago

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Smack dab in the front of the city-square, white wooden 12-foot letters spell out the phrase “SONOMAWOOD”.  For a week in April, this bon mot feels particularly appropriate as filmmakers, producers, press and film fans converge onto the city for the Sonoma International Film Festival.

Over this past week, Collider attended the 17th iteration of the festival, a celebration of independent filmmaking from across the globe.  For a recap of the event and reviews of the features screened there, including Beside Still Waters, Jadoo, Tasting Menu, Roxie, and more, hit the jump.

Seth Green, Geoff Johns, and More Talk ROBOT CHICKEN DC Comics Special VILLAINS IN PARADISE

by     Posted 13 days ago

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It’s amazing to think that Robot Chicken first premiered nearly a decade ago. This strange dissection of pop culture via stop motion & Claymation action figures has become one of the bedrocks for Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.  Not only that, the show is now a gateway for popular series and companies to poke fun at themselves (for proof, see George Lucas’s participation in the Robot Chicken Star Wars specials).  This Sunday night, Robot Chicken’ s 2nd DC Comics Special: Villains in Paradise premieres – and it’s another fascinating example of the show’s ability to ‘eat its cake and have it too.’  The episode, the most plot-heavy Robot Chicken has ever done, focuses on DC Comic’s villains – Lex Luthor, The Joker & Gorilla Grodd among others – as they travel to the beach for a summer vacation.  The episode, a knowing homage to the beach pictures of the 80s, is at once both a love-letter to these well-worn characters and a merciless skewing of their ‘brand name’.  It’s this juxtaposition between reverence and criticism that makes Robot Chicken as endlessly watchable and timely as it was when it first premiered.

At the recent press day for Robot Chicken, I spoke with most of the creative team behind the show (Creators/Executive Producers Seth Green & Matthew Senreich, DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, Head Writers Douglas Goldstein & Tom Root, and Writer/Co-Producers Kevin Shinick & Zeb Wells) about the process behind the new DC Special and the show in general.  For the full Robot Chicken: Villains in Paradise interview, hit the jump.

Halle Berry Talks FRANKIE & ALICE, Preparing for the Role, Her Reasons for Signing on to Steven Spielberg’s TV Show EXTANT, and More

by     Posted 15 days ago

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It’s been a long road to theaters for Frankie & Alice. The Halle Berry psychological melodrama finished filming back in 2009. You might remember that it was briefly released at the end of 2010 for a qualifying awards run that never quite caught on. And then the film seemingly vanished. This Friday, four years later, Frankie & Alice finally gets a proper release in select theaters. It’s a strange film marketplace where even an intimate character drama starring and produced by a former Oscar winner struggles to find a foothold into theaters.  In the film, Berry stars as Frankie, a go-go dancer with dissociative identity disorder, who with the help of a benevolent doctor (played by the always great Stellan Skarsgård), attempts to confront whatever past misdeeds and/or tragedies caused the break in the first place. The film, an obvious passion project for Berry, deserves far better than its difficult ‘road to release’ would hereto suggest.

In the following interview with Halle Berry, she discusses her frustrations with the protracted release of the picture, her interest in telling the stories of real people and her move into television this summer (she stars in the Steven Spielberg produced sci-fi series Extant). For the full interview, hit the jump.

Director Errol Morris Talks THE UNKNOWN KNOWN, the “Horrifying” Truth to Donald Rumsfeld, the Construction of False Narratives, and More

by     Posted 16 days ago

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How does one interview perhaps the greatest interviewer of our time?  Errol Morris, a titan of documentary filmmaking, has elicited introspective confessions from both a former US Secretary of Defense and a death-row inmate.  He’s a man that can interview a self-avowed Holocaust denier (as he did with Fred Leuchter in Mr. Death) — and somehow make you, the viewer, understand where this misguided man is coming from.  In Morris’s latest, The Unknown Known, the great interviewer meets his match in the gobbledygook and aphorisms of two-time Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.  The film (a sequel of sorts to Morris’s Academy Award winning The Fog of War) is pretty much just two men in a room – one asking questions, the other finding ways to shy away from answering.  But this isn’t a film necessarily about Iraq or Abu Ghraib or any other political lightening-rod; instead it’s an expose of a man and how he wields/twists/misuses language to justify his means.  A film that posits sometimes when you peel back the layers of a person, you discover the most horrible of truths: that there wasn’t anything there to begin with.

In the following interview with filmmaker Errol Morris, he discusses the ‘horrifying’ truth to Donald Rumsfeld, the perversion of language, the construction of false narratives, his own ‘physical’ presence in his documentaries, and going the fiction route for his next film Holland, Michigan.  For the full interview, hit the jump.

We’ve Seen the First 15 Minutes of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2; Recap and Thoughts on the Footage

by     Posted 30 days ago

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Early Monday morning, Sony gathered select press for a preview of The Amazing Spider-Man 2.  The first fifteen minutes of the sequel was shown, in addition to two other sequences from the film: an early Times Square fight between Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) & Electro (Jamie Foxx) and a later scene involving Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) and Electro.  For a recap and thoughts on the footage screened, hit the jump.  (Of note: there are, of course, spoilers in the following article).

Ben Kingsley and Writer-Director Drew Pearce Talk Marvel One-Shot ALL HAIL THE KING, Fan Reaction to the Mandarin Twist, Satire, and More

by     Posted 51 days ago

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Is Iron Man 3 the most divisive superhero film ever made?  There are those that look at its third act reveal (the archly evil Mandarin exposed to be nothing more than a boorish struggling English actor) as a brilliant deconstruction of the superhero genre, whilst others will maintain it pisses on fifty years of Iron Man comic lore.  The ‘Marvel One shot’ All Hail The King (which can be found as an extra on the Blu-ray of Thor: The Dark World) is very much a reaction to that angered subset of fandom. Trevor Slattery (Ben Kingsley) is now a “star” in prison – with his very own doting entourage, lavish prison room and his own exclusive documentary interview.  But not all is as perfect as it seems.  Slattery’s interviewer (Scoot McNairy) doesn’t have the slightest interest in getting any sort of story/scoop out of his subject – no, he has a far more sinister agenda: to confront Slattery on ruining the good name of the real Mandarin.  McNairy’s character though ultimately serves as sounding board for every comic fan that bemoaned Iron Man 3’s twist.

It’s a nifty bit of satire – and on the red carpet for the World Premiere of All Hail the King, I had the opportunity to talk with writer/director Drew Pearce and Ben Kingsley briefly about fan reaction and the satirical undercurrents of the short.  Their answers couldn’t have been more different.  For the interviews, hit the jump.

Recap of the First Ten Minutes of CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER

by     Posted 52 days ago

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Last night, Marvel hosted a World Premiere of their new short film: the Iron Man 3 ‘sequel’ All Hail the King.  Star Ben Kingsley, writer/director Drew Pearce and Marvel honcho Kevin Feige were on hand to discuss the short, which I’ll have a lot more on in the not too distant future.  After the Q&A though, Feige treated the audience to a surprise – the opening ten minutes of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  For a recap of Winter Soldier’s opening and some thoughts on it, hit the jump.

WB Screens the First 13 Minutes of 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE; Here’s Our Recap and Thoughts on the Footage

by     Posted 72 days ago

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Back in the distant past (err… 2007), Zack Snyder’s 300 hit theaters and became a surprise hit, grossing over 300 million dollars domestically whilst also igniting heated cultural and political debate.  Deep in the midst of the Iraq war, 300 became a lightening rod for both liberal and conservative agendas.  Was the film a celebration of war jingoism or were it’s very excesses satirizing such displays of patriotism?  The film’s reach extended far beyond mere water cooler talk though, it’s potent hyperkinetic visual palette (much of which was taken panel for panel from Frank Miller & Lynn Varley’s graphic novel) serving as ‘inspiration’ for a bevy of imitators – Immortals, Clash of the Titans (2010), and, hell, even Frank Miller’s own The Spirit.  So it’s shocking to think that it’s taken nearly seven years for a sequel to finally reach the big screen.

Originally scheduled for release late last year, 300: Rise of An Empire finally hits the big screen March 7th.  Last night in anticipation/promotion of the sequel’s impending release, Warner Brothers hosted the first thirteen minutes of the new film in front of a screening of 300.  For a full report on just what to expect from the first thirteen minutes of 300: Rise of An Empire, hit the jump.

Director Ben Wheatley Talks A FIELD IN ENGLAND, His Film Influences, Working on DOCTOR WHO, HIGH RISE, and More

by     Posted 74 days ago

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Ben Wheatley’s filmography defies easy categorization.  With just four films under his belt, Wheatley has directed a dysfunctional family mobster melodrama (Down Terrace), a hitman cult horror tragedy (Kill List) and a romantic serial-killer comedy (Sightseers).  His latest, A Field In England (released last year in the UK, Friday here in the US), is perhaps his oddest amalgamation yet: a psychedelic supernatural wartime period piece, harkening back to the experimental genre pictures of English provocateur Ken Russell.  In a (well…) field in England, four war deserters are taken captive by an alchemist and forced to search for a buried treasure.  As the characters descend into petty grievance and madness, the film itself begins to mirror their mental state, the reality of what’s on screen coming into question.  It’s another strong heady entry from Wheatley, who has rightly been heralded as one of the best new English filmmakers today.

In the following interview with Wheatley, he discusses the resurgence of artsploitation films, Ken Russell’s The Devils and accolades from Martin Scorsese & Nicolas Roeg. In addition Wheatley, currently shooting the first two episodes of the upcoming Doctor Who season, gives updates on his next motion picture High Rise and his (supposed) American film debut Freakshift.  For the full interview, hit the jump.  A Field in England opens in the U.S. on February 7th.

Director Jeff Tremaine Talks JACKASS PRESENTS: BAD GRANDPA, the Unrated Cut, Confronting the “Marks” after the Prank Has Been Revealed, and More

by     Posted 81 days ago

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One of the more fascinating aspects of the ‘hidden camera’ gag happens after the cameras stop rolling and the joke has been revealed.  In order to use any footage with civilians, one must first get them to sign a waver – thereby allowing the show/film the ability to use the footage just shot.  As someone who has been on his fair share of ‘hidden camera’ sketches, I can attest to just how difficult sometimes it can be to get people to ‘sign’.  There’s no telling how someone will react when they discover that ostensibly they’ve been made a fool of.  So I can only imagine what that process was like on Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa.  There are genuine moments where Johnny Knoxville pushes unknowing people to the very brink of violence.  But what happens after the prank is revealed?  What goes through these poor people’s minds?  How do they react to the ‘joke’?

Earlier this week I interviewed director Jeff Tremaine, in accordance with the Unrated Blu-ray release of Bad Grandpa, about these very matters.  In addition, the filmmaker also discussed what footage was added back into the Unrated Cut, the difficult editing process on the picture and, briefly, his next directorial project: the Motley Crue biopic Dirt.  For the full interview, hit the jump.

Will Forte Talks NEBRASKA, Acting Opposite Bruce Dern and Local Townspeople, the Taste of Bull Testicles, and More

by     Posted 138 days ago

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In the pursuit of ‘reality’, filmmaker Alexander Payne (The Descendants) has a penchant for casting untrained locals in supporting roles, adding an unquantifiable amount verisimilitude to his pictures.  In Payne’s latest Nebraska, the cracked and tanned faces of local townsfolk sneak into the foreground and background of nearly every shot.  The fact that these “real people” are cast opposite “real actors” (like Bruce Dern and Will Forte) somehow legitimizes the picture.  In talking with star Will Forte, he was quick to note just how accurate Nebraska (the film) is to the place it takes its name from.  Forte is a natural fit to the “reality” of Nebraska, his low-key charm and aw-shucks smile blending in naturally amongst the locals.  One could almost be mistaken into thinking the SNL veteran was some resident talent Payne discovered just before shooting.

In the following interview with Will Forte, he discusses shooting in Nebraska (the place), working opposite untrained actors and the taste of the Midwestern delicacy: bull testicles(!).  For the full interview, hit the jump.

Bob Odenkirk & June Squibb Talk NEBRASKA, Awards Consideration and the Upcoming Television Version of FARGO

by     Posted 143 days ago

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The family-dynamic of Nebraska makes or breaks the film. Alexander Payne (Election) has cast a diverse set of actors to form the central unit to the film: a sketch-comic writer turned actor, an SNL veteran, an acting legend and a journeyman actress. It’s a testament to these actors – Bob Odenkirk, Will Forte, Bruce Dern and June Squibb – that not only does the film work but that the family itself feels real and lived in. Bob Odenkirk & June Squibb (in particular) share an interesting connection within the film. Odenkirk’s Ross Grant has long given up on a relationship with his deadbeat father (Dern), instead turning to his mother (Squibb’s Kate Grant) as his lone figure of parental guidance. It’s a nice supporting relationship to the film’s central father-son dynamic of Forte and Dern. In a lesser film, there would be no room for such supporting player kinship – but Nebraska fills in the margins of this family and it makes all the difference.

In the following interview with Bob Odenkirk and June Squibb, the two actors discuss the interpersonal relations of the film, dealing with awards notice and how closely they resemble their characters in Nebraska. In addition, Odenkirk briefly touches upon his role in the new television iteration of Fargo. For the full interview, hit the jump.

Screenwriter Bob Nelson Talks NEBRASKA, Recreating Nebraska on the Page, His Family’s Reaction to the Film, and His Original Alternate Ending

by     Posted 146 days ago

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It’s taken ten-plus years for Nebraska to reach the big screen.  Bob Nelson, a struggling sketch comic writer from Seattle, wrote the screenplay (his first) in between gigs on a dare from a colleague.  Little did Nelson know that over a decade later, his script would be brought to life by one of the most respected writer/directors today: Alexander Payne (Sideways).  Now Nebraska is poised to receive award’s notice for acting, directing and even screenwriting.  This doesn’t seem to have phased Nelson at all – who in our fifteen minute interview, seemed equal parts humbled and surprised by the film’s attention and success.

In the following interview with screenwriter Bob Nelson, he discusses recreating Nebraska (the place) on page, his family’s reaction to the screenplay/film, the rewriting process, and the original scrapped alternate ending to the screenplay.  For the full interview, hit the jump. 

Director James Mangold Talks Developing THE WOLVERINE for Fox, Depicting Japan in the Film, and the Status of THE WOLVERINE 2

by     Posted 150 days ago

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There weren’t really any expectations for The Wolverine.  Following the less-said-the-better one-two punch of X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins Wolverine, the series and its franchise star James ‘Logan’ Howlett (aka Wolverine) seemed more than a little overripe.  There just didn’t seem much left to mine from The Wolverine.  The character, the obvious standout of X-Men and X2, now felt repetitive and dull.  Just the same note of false bravado masking seething rage repeated ad infinitum.  Which is why The Wolverine was such an unexpected surprise.  Less a comic book than a drama that just so happens to star a guy with claws, The Wolverine unearthed hidden depths of its titular character.  In the hands of filmmaker James Mangold, the archly hyper-masculine Wolverine became a tragic figure of ineffectual heroism.  What happens when the hero can’t save the day?  Who does he then become?  How does he then define himself?

Last night, Fox hosted a screening of The Wolverine in anticipation of the film’s release on Blu-ray & DVD today.  After the screening, James Mangold spoke one-on-one with Collider about pitching such a relatively small scale and idiosyncratic tent-pole blockbuster to Fox, the representation of Japan within the film and how The Wolverine deconstructs the superhero genre. In addition Mangold gave a status update on the development and writing of the recently announced sequel The Wolverine 2. For the full interview, hit the jump.

Will Forte Talks NEBRASKA, His Greatest Fears During the Shoot, What he Learned from Bruce Dern, MACGRUBER 2, and More

by     Posted 152 days ago

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Will Forte, the comedic actor best known for his absurd SNL characters MacGruber and The Falconer, shows unforeseen dramatic range in Alexander Payne’s Nebraska.  Forte stars as David Grant, the youngest son to the mentally deteriorating Woody Grant (Bruce Dern).  When Woody mistakenly believes a Million Dollar Marketing Scam to be legitimate, his youngest son David obliges his father’s fantasy and takes him on a cross-state trip to collect the non-existent prize money.  Forte, who spends a vast majority of the film in one-on-one scenes with acting legend Dern, more than holds his own.  Forte ably imbues the pain and disappointment behind each kind act David does for his unreceptive father.  It’s an incredibly subtle and restrained performance from an actor renowned for the outlandish and the silly.

In the following interview with Will Forte, he discusses his greatest fears during the film shoot, the dynamic on set with Bruce Dern and what acting lessons Dern offered to him. In addition, Forte also touched upon how far along he is into writing MacGruber 2. For the full interview, hit the jump. 

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