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

by     Posted 78 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 80 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 87 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 144 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 149 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 152 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 156 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 158 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. 

Harrison Ford Discusses the Moral Complexities of ENDER’S GAME and His History of Starring In Big Budget Tent-pole Films Since the 1970s

by     Posted 172 days ago

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Harrison Ford has made a career of starring in big budget tent-pole films from the 1970s to today.  The actor – charismatically plainspoken – grounds all the spectacle that often surrounds him, be it the distant planets of a far-off galaxy, ancient ruins housing untouched treasures or a neon-tinted future where it always seems to rain.  In this week’s new release Ender’s Game (based on the popular book series by Orson Scott Card), Ford once again lends his grumbly gravitas to all the zeros and ones.  Ford stars as Colonel Graff, the militant leader of the human resistance, who uses children to lead a preemptive attack on an alien planet.  Ford ably imbues the steely-eyed Graff with a welcome sense of humor and charm.  Only an actor of Ford’s caliber could take a character as seemingly unpleasant as Graff and somehow make him sympathetic.

In the following interview with Harrison Ford, the actor discusses the differences (or lack thereof) in starring in tent-pole pictures now to as far back as the 1970s, discovering the emotional beats for his character Colonel Graff and the moral complexities of Ender’s Game.  For the full interview, hit the jump.

Hailee Steinfeld Talks ENDER’S GAME and Working With Tommy Lee Jones on THE HOMESMAN

by     Posted 173 days ago

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Hailee Steinfeld has been poised to be the “next big thing” ever since she stole the show from veterans Matt Damon and Jeff Bridges in the Coen Brothers’ True Grit.  The young actress has a virtually unending list of upcoming projects: the Tommy Lee Jones directed The Homesman, the Luc Besson/McG collaboration Three Days To Kill, the Civil War drama The Keeping Room… This weekend, the rise of Steinfeld begins with the big budgeted children-versus-aliens Ender’s Game.  Steinfeld co-stars as Petra, an ally and confidant to lead protagonist Ender (Asa Butterfield).  Asa and she have an easy-going chemistry, never quite blossoming into romance but teetering on the brink.  It’s a difficult relationship to get just right – and it’s a credit to Steinfeld and Butterfield that they’re able to suggest such depths with relatively little material.

In the following interview with Steinfeld, she discusses the challenges of acting in such a heavy effects driven film as Ender’s Game, the tricks to pretending like you’re in zero gravity and working with Tommy Lee Jones on The Homesman. For the full interview, hit the jump.

Asa Butterfield Talks ENDER’S GAME, Fan Reaction, Working Opposite Harrison Ford, and More

by     Posted 175 days ago

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Ender’s Game success ultimately rests on the shoulders of Asa Butterfield (Hugo). Butterfield stars as Ender, a genius sixteen year old, who is enlisted into a program designed to train youths in a war between humanity and a hostile alien race.  Of course, not everything is as it seems – and just what is being fought for and who is in the right may not be so black & white.  As the titular character, Butterfield ably portrays a young man struggling to define himself be it via the violent sociopathy of his brother or the compassionate righteousness of his sister.  It’s a striking performance – in that even when millions of dollars of spectacle are unfolding on the screen, they don’t hold a candle to a simple single of the young actor.

In the following interview with Asa Butterfield, he discusses shooting Ender’s Game on a NASA facility, fan reaction to his casting and the tricks of the trade he’s learned from Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley. For the full interview, hit the jump.

Viola Davis Talks ENDER’S GAME and Working With Michael Mann on CYBER

by     Posted 176 days ago

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It’s rare when a big budget studio film tackles weighty and controversial issues. The bigger the budget, the more the film must appeal to a mass audience (or so the thinking goes). It’s the typical four-quadrant-attempting-to-please-everyone-but-actually-pleasing-no-one bullshit. Ender’s Game is the rare exception: a film with an immense multi-million dollar price tag that’s also willing to tackle difficult socio-political issues. Viola Davis (The Help) co-stars as Major Gwen Anderson, the moral conscience of the picture, diametrically opposed to Harrison Ford’s gruff “by any means necessary” counterpart Colonel Graff. The two spend the majority of Ender’s Game getting into heated debates over the implication of using children during war, the applicability of morality during wartime and the often blood-soaked cost of creating a ‘utopia’. Weighty issues for a film ostensibly about children blowing up alien spaceships.

In the following interview with Viola Davis, the actress discusses the weighty implications of Ender’s Game, where she draws from to create characters and the differences in starring in big budget versus low budget sci-fi. Davis also touched upon her time working on the upcoming Michael Mann film Cyber, which she described as “the biggest ride of her life.” For the full interview, hit the jump.  Ender’s Game opens this Friday in theaters.

GHOST TEAM ONE Review

by     Posted 192 days ago

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The found footage subgenre has reached its saturation point. Every other week, there’s some new horror film featuring a (usually) twenty-something kid taping his/her friends doing something stupid, when all of the sudden ghosts/vampires/zombies/demons/aliens intrude, wreck havoc and mutilate the aforementioned twenty-somethings, all the while they — the kids — continue to record their own demise(s) for a completely inexplicable reason. It’s a formula so well-known and worn down it’s infiltrated non-horror genre films (Chronicle – superhero found footage) and straight parody (this year’s Wayans spoof A Haunted House).

Found footage, an already self-aware genre by its own mechanization, has now begun to acknowledge it’s very own self awareness. It’s not so much a snake eating its own tail, but a snake looking at itself in a mirror, acknowledging the tail as its own and deciding “Fuck it, I’m hungry,” and devouring itself anyway. Ghost Team One, the Slamdance graduate, is the latest evolutionary step in this newfound “looking-from-within-at-within” trend. It’s a found footage film where the joke is in the act of ‘recording’.  For the full review, hit the jump.

A Martinez Talks Shaping His Character, His Preparation Process, Working with John Wayne, and More on the Set of CURSE OF CHUCKY

by     Posted 198 days ago

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The versatile journeyman actor A Martinez (the ‘A’ stands for Adolfo) has appeared in a vast array of different genres: westerns, soaps, network dramas, comedies, historical epics… Now Martinez can add homicidal killer doll films to his resume. Martinez co-stars opposite the murderous ‘Good Guy’ doll in the semi-reboot of the Child’s Play franchise: Curse of Chucky. As Father Frank, Martinez knows more than he should about Chucky – which brings the poor priest into an unfortunate conflict with the doll. Let’s just say things don’t go so swimmingly for the man of the cloth.

Late last year, I had the opportunity to interview the worldly actor on the set of the newest Chucky film. Martinez discussed how he and director Don Mancini shaped the character of Father Frank, how much background preparation went into becoming a priest and the motivational process behind particular scenes. In addition, Martinez reminisced about one of his first acting jobs – working opposite John Wayne and Bruce Dern on The Cowboys. For the full interview, hit the jump. Of note: there are spoilers in the following interview – especially in regard to the fate of Martinez’s character.  Curse of Chucky hits DVD & Blu-ray October 8th.

Writer/Director Don Mancini Talks Shifting to a Darker Tone, Hitchcock Influences, and More on the Set of CURSE OF CHUCKY

by     Posted 204 days ago

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Other than Brad Dourif and producer David Kirschner, there is one constant in The Child’s Play franchise: its creator Don Mancini. The screenwriter’s first produced credit was Child’s Play in 1988. Since then, he has written every single sequel – Child’s Play 2, Child’s Play 3 and Bride of Chucky. With 2004’s Seed of Chucky, Mancini took over the reigns of director as well. He continues that responsibility with Curse of Chucky, a reboot of sorts for the series. The newest Chucky is the most self-contained of the franchise, 90% of the film taking place over one night in one home. This helps the film build an eerie sense of dread, unlike any of the other previous entries. It’s the darkest of the Chucky films, which is surprising considering it follows Seed, the most fun and silly of the pictures.

In the following on-set interview with Mancini, he discusses the need to shift to a darker tone for Curse, the thematic undercurrents of the newest Chucky and how Brian De Palma & Alfred Hitchcock helped influence the film. For the full interview with Mancini, hit the jump.  Curse of Chucky hits DVD & Blu-ray October 8th.

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