MARCO POLO Review: Netflix’s New Show Is Utterly Pedestrian

by     Posted 9 days ago


Basically Kublai Khan: The Show as told by the only non-Asian in the cast, Netflix’s dreadful Marco Polo is another in a long line of shows/films about an ‘ethnically different’ culture seen through the safe veneer of whiteness.  We’ve come full circle then in that Marco Polo and his “book” Marvels of the World may well be the originator of the white man in a foreign land that became the template for every mid 90s Ed Zwick film before now becoming its very own prestige Netflix show.  The snake has eaten its own tail indeed. It’s difficult though to get all gung-ho and worked up about a show this down right pedestrian. There’s a bit towards the end of the first episode that intercuts between Marco resisting the lure of a bevy of naked prostitutes and Marco’s Kung-Fu trainer battling the untoward advances of a rattlesnake, yes an actual rattlesnake — proof this show isn’t insidious, it’s just stupid.

My Marco Polo review after the jump.

AFI Fest 2014: IT FOLLOWS Review

by     Posted 40 days ago


An unavoidable sense of dread powers David Robert Mitchell’s remarkable sophomore feature It Follows.  A careful deconstruction of the teen slasher genre as well as a powerful allegory to the fear of sexual disease, of aging, of dying and most of all – the absolute powerlessness to stop it, It Follows is the best kind of horror: the one less concerned with the monster hunting you but more so with the cognizant knowledge that it’s out there somewhere lurking.  It’s ostensibly a horror film about waiting – and how people pass the time until the boogeyman claims them.  It’s terrifying because there are no answers or solutions, no spells or third-act heroes, no way to defeat the monster, no exit… But most surprisingly of all – for a movie about the hopelessness of living and the pains of consciousness, it’s never morose or nihilistic.  In fact – the opposite is true.  Hit the jump, for more.

Baymax of BIG HERO 6 Speaks Out Against Robot World Domination and Sitting

by     Posted 44 days ago


Interviewing an animated character is an odd experience especially under the pretense that said animated character is actually real. These were the mandated circumstances in which I interviewed Baymax – the lead robot of Disney’s newest feature Big Hero 6. But per the interview instructions, there is no movie, no characters — only a real talking robot and his motley crew of friends. Pay no heed to the man behind the curtain. Acknowledge only the animated ‘toon’ on the screen in front. And so I did.

Baymax, when he’s not saving the world with his creator Hiro Hamada, has a day job as a Health Care Companion. The machine can read your vitals and tell you what physical ailments might be troubling you. I decided to exploit this particular aspect of Baymax’s programming by using the machine to assess my own physical and metaphysical ailments. Things did not turn out as planned and somehow this interview ends with me doing squats in a room in front of a cartoon on a screen. Hit the jump to discover “why you probably shouldn’t eat a table or glass”.

Filmmakers Chris Williams & Don Hall Talk BIG HERO 6, Disney Vs. Marvel and Potential Sequels

by     Posted 46 days ago


Big Hero 6 makes it all seem so very easy. The effortlessly charming film is yet another notch on the belt for Disney Animation, combining light wholesome comedy with weighty tragic undercurrents. That’s been the winning formula for Disney since as far back as Bambi to The Lion King to Frozen to now, of course, Big Hero 6. Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter), a good for nothing teenager, seems poised to end up on the wrong side of the law. That is  — until his older, more responsible brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) takes Hiro under his wing and introduces him to a team of scientists working on the cutting edge of the field. When a tragic event takes Tadashi’s life, Hiro puts it upon himself to complete his brother’s work: a white cuddly robot named Baymax. Assorted hijinks follow as Hiro transforms Baymax into a crime-fighting superhero and fends off against a mysterious masked vigilante with ties to his brother’s demise.

At the film’s press day, filmmakers Chris Williams and Don Hall spoke about fusing the Disney ‘family film’ with the action superhero genre, how much Big Hero 6 changed from conception to final release and whether they have any plans for future films in the series. For the full interview, hit the jump.

T.J. Miller & Damon Wayans, Jr. Talk BIG HERO 6

by     Posted 47 days ago


Big Hero 6A Marriage of Convenience. Somehow this was the conclusion arrived at by the end of my interview with T.J. Miller Damon Wayans, Jr. It was late in the day and the two were justifiably tired and a little loopy from a long day of doing interviews for the Disney feature. So a simple question on injecting their own comedic personas into their animated characters turned into a fairly epic nonsensical rant by Miller on how starring in a Disney film is akin to a marriage and, well, it’s best to just watch and see Miller go off. The gregarious comic has a real knack for mixing absurdity with a deeply acerbic sense of wit. Damon Wayans, Jr’s bemused nonchalance at Miller’s monologue is the cherry on top. It’s also a fair representation of their characters’ interactions within Big Hero 6. Miller as Fred is the wacky crazy comic relief while Wayans, Jr. as Wasabi plays the audience-identifying ‘straight man’, often commenting on just how insane the situation truly is.

Usually at this point, I would list the topic points covered in the following interview – but I have no clue if anything of any merit was actually learned. The interview may be all the better for it. So hit the jump and watch “comedy collide”.

Christopher Meloni Talks WHITE BIRD IN A BLIZZARD, The Impact of MAN OF STEEL and Whether He’ll Return in a Future DC Film

by     Posted 57 days ago


Christopher Meloni needs to stay far away from Eva Green.  Earlier this year in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, he co-starred opposite Green as a square-jawed detective easily corrupted by her ample charm.  Meloni now finds himself once again under the actress’s spell in the indie feature White Bird in A Blizzard.  In the Shailene Woodley headlined film, Meloni stars as Brock – the mild-mannered husband to Eva Green’s sultry Eve.  It’s a loveless marriage, Eve never hesitating to remind Brock just how worthless and disappointing a man he truly is.  When Eve suddenly disappears one morning, Brock naturally becomes a suspect in his wife’s vanishing. But could somebody so weak-willed be capable of such a monstrous act?  Meloni, sporting a burly mustache and some wretched polo shirts, counters his naturally intimidating appearance to fully embody Brock’s emasculated demeanor.  It’s a fine turn for the versatile actor – and between the dramatics of White Bird in A Blizzard and the comicality of his short-lived sitcom Surviving Jack, Meloni has proven himself to be as proficient in one genre as the next.

In the following interview with Christopher Meloni, he discusses coming up with the physical appearance for Brock, the parallels between his characters in White Bird in a Blizzard & Sin City and gaging his performance towards the heightened tone of filmmaker Gregg Araki (The Doom Generation).  In addition, Meloni talks about how his role in Man of Steel affected his career and whether we’ll ever see his character Colonel Harding in the DC Film-verse again.  For the full interview, hit the jump.

Shailene Woodley and Gregg Araki Discuss the “Teenage Apocalypse” and the Adaptation Process of WHITE BIRD IN A BLIZZARD

by     Posted 59 days ago


Gregg Araki revisits the adolescent wasteland that defined his career in the mid 90s with his newest feature White Bird in a Blizzard. On the outset – the film feels at piece with Araki’s oeuvre (The Doom Generation, Nowhere, Totally F***ed Up) in that all focus on a dissatisfied youth (here played by Shailene Woodley) coming to terms with their place in a seemingly meaningless world. But there’s something darker and a bit more melancholy at play with Araki’s latest. The anarchic spirit of those earlier films has been replaced with a forlorn world-weary outlook. Woodley as Kat Connors isn’t the same unruly protagonist of Araki’s early work. Instead Kat’s a character desperately trying to regain any semblance of normalcy after her mother disappears one fateful morning. It’s a character intent on NOT rebelling, living in a self-imposed ignorance to the truth that is plainly in front of her.

In the following interview with Gregg Araki and Shailene Woodley, the duo discuss the process of adapting Laura Kasischke’s novel to the big-screen, working together to create many of White Bird in a Blizzard’s emotionally raw scenes and the movie’s place within Araki’s filmography. For the full interview, hit the jump.

Visiting AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN Buckner Mansion and the Costume Designs of Lou Eyrich

by     Posted 65 days ago


This past weekend, Collider was invited to the set of American Horror Story: Coven in New Orleans for an event honoring the work of Costume Designer Lou Eyrich just in time for the show’s release on Blu-ray.  The Emmy Award winning costume designer was on hand to discuss her work on both Coven & the current season Freak Show, as well as the demanding schedule of being a costume designer for TV and the most challenging aspects of her job.  For a rundown of the event and interview highlights with Eyrich, in which she discusses the original designs for Freak Show’s villain Twisty the Clown, hit the jump.

Naomi Grossman Talks Orgies, Deleted Scenes, and Major Character Deaths in AMERICAN HORROR STORY: FREAK SHOW & ASYLUM

by     Posted 67 days ago


From Murder House to Asylum to Coven, American Horror Story has redefined itself each season with no connective tissue between them. The premiere of the series newest incarnation Freak Show brought with it a curious new wrinkle. Naomi Grossman returned to the series, not playing a different character as all returning actors have prior; but instead reprising her role from Asylum as Pepper, the ‘pinhead’ inmate abducted by aliens and turned into a savant. From Pepper’s standpoint, Freak Show then becomes a prequel to Asylum, an origin tale of sorts and the first suggestion that perhaps all the seasons occur in a singular universe.

In the following interview with Naomi Grossman, she discusses being the first actor to play the same character through multiple seasons, what’s to come for Pepper on Freak Show and shooting the carny orgy from last week’s premiere episode. For the full interview, hit the jump.

Ryûhei Kitamura Reveals the Arduous Three-Year Journey to Bring LUPIN THE THIRD to the Big Screen

by     Posted 75 days ago


Lupin the Third is an icon in Japan. The manga by Monkey Punch has inspired a slew of content – five animated films, four anime television shows, two live-action films, a video game and even a musical. Yet until about three weeks ago, I had never even heard of the property. How can something be so omnipresent in Japan yet so niche here in the US? It’s strange in that Lupin – a pretty straightforward comedic caper – seems very easily translatable to these here shores. Think Ocean’s 11 except a little bit goofier and with a lot more swords and gunplay. The basic plot follows the world’s greatest thief, the titular Lupin III, as he and his motley crew (an expert marksman, a Buddhist swordsman & his on-again-off-again traitorous paramour) plan and steal the world’s greatest treasures.

Filmmaker Ryûhei Kitamura, who got his start with the Japanese indie Versus before coming over to the states to direct the cult horror films Midnight Meat Train and No One Lives, returned to Japan to helm the second live-action version of Lupin The Third. It’s a breezy and light adaptation – one that’s as accessible to fans of the series as it is to those discovering it for the first time. In the following interview with Kitamura, he chronicles the arduous three-year process to bring the film to the big-screen, the difficulties of working within the Hollywood and Japanese film systems, and what projects he’s currently trying to get off the ground now. For the full candid interview, hit the jump.

Alfre Woodard Talks Adding ‘Reality’ Into Supernatural Horror in ANNABELLE

by     Posted 79 days ago


Alfre Woodard has the unenviable task of playing ‘that character’ in Annabelle.  The one who knows much more about the supernatural shenanigans than appearances would suggest.  The one with a mysterious past prone to grave looks in the background of scenes.  The one given to long monologues explaining just what’s been happening in the third act.  Typically ‘that character’ is played by a distinguished slightly-too-good-for-this character actor, relishing the opportunity to go big and ham it up for ten or so minutes of screen-time.  See Vincent D’Onofrio in Sinister  or Kelly McGillis in The Innkeepers or Lin Shaye in Insidious.  Woodard though takes an interesting approach to such an archetype.  Instead of going big, she underplays each of her scenes bringing (dare-I-say-it) a certain naturalism to the otherworldly theatrics the role is partial to elicit.  It’s a welcome turn on the familiar and a testament to Woodard’s moxie and reserve as an actress.

In the following interview with Woodard, she discusses her more grounded approach to the character, dealing with long monologues and the effect (or lack thereof) genre has on performance.  Hit the jump to watch. 

Producer James Wan and Director John R. Leonetti Discuss Skepticism, Spiritualism, and the Blank Terror of Dolls in ANNABELLE

by     Posted 81 days ago


The killer doll film, an oft-derided sub-genre of horror, can very easily fall into tongue-in-cheek camp.  There’s just something innately funny about a small little toy attempting and often succeeding at killing a bunch of grown adults. Child’s PlayPuppet Masters, and, hell, even James Wan’s own Dead Silence have all walked that fine line between the horrific and the simply ludicrous sight of a homicidal doll.  Annabelle tips way over that line – but not in the way one would naturally expect. This is a very serious film with not even the slightest hint to the arch or humorous. In fact, the film owes very little to the killer doll genre or even the demonic possession genre of its predecessor The Conjuring.  Instead Annabelle fits more at home with the psychological ‘Yellow Wallpaper-esque’ horror of early Polanski. Think less Dolls or Demonic Toys and more Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby.

In the following interview with producer James Wan and director John R. Leonetti, the duo discuss what they learned from working on previous killer doll films (Wan on Dead Silence; Leonetti on Child’s Play 3), adding a more serious tone to the genre, and using Rosemary’s Baby as the cornerstone influence for Annabelle. For the full interview, hit the jump.

Annabelle Wallis & Ward Horton Talk ANNABELLE and How ROSEMARY’S BABY Influenced Their Performances

by     Posted 83 days ago


Yes – Annabelle for all intents and purposes is a spinoff of last year’s surprise success The Conjuring, taking that film’s stand-out side character (the eponymous creepy doll) and placing an entire film around it/her; but what the marketing and previews have failed to fully reveal – is that Annabelle, at heart, is much less a cash-grab Conjuring offshoot but more so an extended homage to early era Polanski, in particular Rosemary’s Baby & Repulsion.  Annabelle Wallis and Ward Horton star as Mia & John, a couple coping through the repercussions of a vicious attack. The newfound family (she having just given birth to a daughter) move into an apartment complex wherein in her husband’s absence (he’s much too busy with his burgeoning medical career), she begins to experience violent supernatural forces all seemingly stemming from that good-for-nothing doll.  You don’t even have to look at the character names to see that Wallis and Horton are doing their damnedest to channel Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes.

In the following interview with Wallis and Horton, the two discuss playing and subverting the Farrow/Cassavete’s archetypes, establishing a familial bond and revisiting the classic Polanski films.  For the full interview hit the jump.

Director Josh Boone Talks THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, the Extended Cut, Making the Material His Own, the Painful Writing Process, and PRETENDERS

by     Posted 96 days ago


The Fault in Our Stars is far more than just YA-appeasing schmaltz, deftly weaving romanticism with deeper philosophic undercurrents.  Josh Boone’s sophomore effort (post Stuck in Love) is a fairly straight adaptation of John Green’s novel – and keeps with the book’s strange tonal feat at once both tragic yet uplifting.  It’s sort of the feel-good movie about dying young; but Boone’s deft touch with the material and the cast somehow makes the juxtaposing tones mesh.

In the following interview with Josh Boone in anticipation of film’s Blu-ray release, he discusses the Extended Cut of The Fault in Our Stars, why he’ll never write a novel, and injecting his authorial stamp onto the adaptation.  You can read Boone’s previous thoughts and comments on his upcoming adaptations of The Stand and Lestatright here.  For the full Fault in Our Stars interview, hit the jump.

Harry Connick Jr. Talks DOLPHIN TALE 2, Balancing His Music and Movie Career, AMERICAN IDOL and His New Album

by     Posted 98 days ago


There’s something conducive about musicians becoming actors. Perhaps it’s attributable to the performance-based nature of their work – going out on a stage, entertaining millions of folks, putting on a show… The number of musicians who have transitioned to acting and done so successfully is a surprisingly large pool. David Bowie, Justin Timberlake, Will Smith, Elvis Pressley, Frank Sinatra… The list goes on. Harry Connick Jr is not often mentioned alongside such flashier personalities, but the singer/songwriter has quietly built up a steady resume of eclectic performances be it as a serial killer in Copycat or as the romantic lead in Hope Floats.

In this week’s Dolphin Tale 2, Connick Jr reprises his role as Dr. Clay Haskett, the lead marine biologist of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Much of Connick Jr’s scenes are centered on the imbalance of at once running an aquarium while at the same time treating the animals in the most humane fashion possible. It’s one of many more adult storylines in the darker sequel. In the following round-table interview with Connick Jr, he discusses balancing his musical & theatrical career, working alongside Winter [the dolphin] and his newest job — judging on American Idol. For the full interview, hit the jump.

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