Miles Teller Talks WHIPLASH, the Film’s Themes of Sacrifice and the Price of Greatness, the Fast Production Schedule, and More at Sundance

by     Posted 176 days ago

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One of my favorite films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was writer/director Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash.  The film stars Miles Teller as an aspiring jazz drummer who aspires to greatness under a ruthless instructor, played brilliantly by J.K. Simmons.  While the film focuses on musicians, it’s really about anyone trying to become great at something and the cost of achieving said goal.  Trust me, it’s a great movie, and one you’ll be able to see by the end of the year because Sony Pictures Classics picked up the film for domestic distribution.  Whiplash also won both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize for the U.S. Dramatic competition at Sundance.  For more on the film, read Matt’s review.

The day after the world premiere, I landed a video interview with Teller.  He talked about being at Sundance two years in a row, how he only wrapped on Whiplash in October, working with J.K. Simmons, the film’s themes of sacrifice and the price of greatness, the Divergent sequel, and more.  Hit the jump to watch.

Director Damien Chazelle, Paul Reiser and Austin Stowell Talk WHIPLASH at Sundance 2014

by     Posted 180 days ago

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One of my favorite films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was writer/director Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash.  The film stars Miles Teller as an aspiring jazz drummer who aspires to greatness under a ruthless instructor, played brilliantly by J.K. Simmons.  While the film focuses on musicians, it’s really about anyone trying to become great at something and the cost of achieving said goal.  Trust me, it’s a great movie, and one you’ll be able to see by the end of the year because Sony Pictures Classics picked up the film for domestic distribution.  Whiplash also won both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize for the U.S. Dramatic competition at Sundance.  For more on the film, read Matt’s review.

While at Sundance, I landed a short video interview with director Damien Chazelle, Paul Reiser (who plays Teller’s dad) and Austin Stowell (another drum student).  They talked about the positive reaction to the film, whether the project changed during development, the making of the film, getting it ready for Sundance, and more.  Hit the jump to watch.

Kurt Russell and Directors Chapman Way & Maclain Way Talk THE BATTERED BASTARDS OF BASEBALL, the Feature Adaptation, and More at Sundance 2014

by     Posted 182 days ago

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One of the more talked-about documentaries from this year’s Sundance Film Festival was The Battered Bastards of Baseball.  Directed by Chapman Way and Maclain Way, the film chronicles Bonanza actor Bing Russell’s formation of the independent baseball team the Portland Mavericks and the ensuing confrontation with organized baseball.  Quite a few people—including our own Matt Goldberg—were fans of the documentary, and it’s incredible story led Justin Lin to purchase narrative remake rights with the intention to produce via his Perfect Storm banner.  Early word has Todd Field (Little Children) in talks to write and direct, which is perfect since Field was one of the bat boys for the Mavericks and is featured in the documentary.  Who better to write and direct the adaptation than someone that saw the events unfold first hand?

While at Sundance, I landed an exclusive interview with the Ways and Bing Russell’s son Kurt Russell, who is also featured in the film, and served as the team’s vice president and designated hitter.   They talked about premiering at Sundance, making the film, how they put together the financing, the crazy true story of the Mavericks, how they acquired the footage, if Russell would consider playing his dad in a feature remake, and a lot more.  Hit the jump for what they had to say.

Gareth Evans Talks THE RAID 2, Deleted Scenes, the Budget, the MPAA, John Woo, THE RAID 3, IRON FIST, Future Projects, Hollywood, and More at Sundance

by     Posted 183 days ago

gareth-evans-the-raid-2-interview-sliceOne of my favorite films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was writer-director Gareth Evans’ The Raid 2.   Picking up right where the first film left off, the sequel follows Rama (Iko Uwais) as he goes undercover and infiltrates the ranks of a ruthless Jakarta crime syndicate in order to protect his family and uncover the corruption in his own police force.   Loaded with some of the best action sequences I’ve ever seen, The Raid 2 is truly a must-see movie.  Thankfully, with a March 28th release date, you won’t have to wait too long to check it out (although it might be trimmed down a bit because of the extreme violence).  The film also stars Julie EstelleAlex AbbadMarsha TimothyArifin Putra, Mathias MuchusTio Pakusadewo, and Cecep Arif Rahman.

The morning after the world premiere, I landed an extended video interview with Evans.  During our wide-ranging conversation (which is spoiler free), he talked about the pressure to raise the bar with the sequel, his writing process, the length of the shoot (132 days), the size of the budget ($4.5 million), deleted scenes, if he’ll release an extended cut on Blu-ray, how the MPAA might react to the film, how close the Sundance cut will be to the final version released in theaters, the status and subject of The Raid 3, his thoughts on the Marvel superhero Iron Fist, if he’s interested in directing it, future projects, his favorite John Woo movie, and so much more.  If you’re a fan of Gareth Evans, I promise you will love this interview.  Hit the jump to watch.

Songwriters Jenny Lewis & Johnathan Rice Talk SONG ONE, the Emotional Importance of the Songs, and More at Sundance 2014

by     Posted 183 days ago

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One of the many films to premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was Song One, the directorial debut of Kate Barker-Froyland.  The film stars Anne Hathaway as a young woman who returns home after her brother is injured (Ben Rosenfield) and romantically connects with his favorite musician (Johnny Flynn).  Set against the backdrop of the Brooklyn music scene, Song One also stars Mary Steenburgen as Hathaway’s mom, which is perfect casting.

The day after the premiere, I landed an exclusive video interview with songwriters Jenny Lewis & Johnathan Rice. They talked about how they got involved, their songwriting process for the film, the emotional importance of the songs, being at Sundance, and much more.  Hit the jump to watch.

John Michael McDonagh Talks CALVARY, the Heavy Themes of the Movie, How No Movie Should Go over 100 Minutes, Future Projects, and More at Sundance

by     Posted 184 days ago

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One of the many films to premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was writer-director John Michael McDonagh‘s Calvary.  The dark comedy stars Brendan Gleeson as a good priest who wants to do well by his community, but his life is threatened by an unknown assailant during confession.   As Matt wrote in his review, “Calvary is a dark, complex, and demanding meditation on faith, the limits of forgiveness, the necessity of compassion, the possibility of absolution, and inevitable reckonings.”  It’s also got a great script and fantastic performances, which explains why Fox Searchlight bought the film.  Calvary also stars Chris O’Dowd, Kelly Reilly, Aidan Gillen, Dylan Moran, and Marie-Josée Croz.

Shortly after he premiere, I landed an exclusive video interview with McDonagh.  He talked about his writing process, where the idea for Calvary came from, putting the project together, the heavy themes of the movie, how no movie should be over 100 minutes unless it has a “pretty damn good reason,” some of the other scripts he’s written, his thoughts on doing a TV series, who attends his friends and family screenings, and much more.  If you’re a fan of McDonagh’s, I’m confident you’ll like this interview.  Hit the jump to watch.

THE COLLISION: Episode 74 – The 2014 Sundance Film Festival

by     Posted 185 days ago

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This week on The Collision, we talk about the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, our thoughts about what we saw, the lack of a breakout film, the overall feel of the festival, comparisons to the Toronto International Film Festival, and more.  As always, we finish up with our recommendations.

Click here to listen to the new episode of The Collision, click here for the previous episode (“Her“), click here to add the podcast to your RSS, and click here to find us on iTunes. To keep up to date with The Collision, you can follow us on Twitter at @MattGoldberg, @AdamChitwood, and @DrClawMD (Dave Trumbore).

Sundance 2014 Awards Announced; WHIPLASH Takes Grand Jury and Audience Prizes for U.S. Dramatic Category

by     Posted 186 days ago

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The 2014 Sundance Film Festival has now officially come to a close, and the festival handed out its multitude of prizes earlier this evening.  Writer/director Damien Chazelle’s drama Whiplash won both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize for the U.S. Dramatic competition, a feat that was repeated by Fruitvale Station last year; this year’s U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury was headed by director Bryan SingerWhiplash is a tense, slightly terrifying drama about a young aspiring jazz drummer (Miles Teller) who aspires to greatness under his ruthless instructor (J.K. Simmons).  Simmons is outstanding in a role tailor-made for the actor and Teller turns in another solid performance as the drumming student, but the film isn’t quite as emotionally impactful as previous Grand Jury winners like Fruitvale or Beasts of the Southern Wild.  You can read Matt’s full review right here.

Elsewhere at the awards, the Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Documentary went to a film I failed to catch, Rich Hill, though I found the doc The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz to be quite remarkable.  Hit the jump to read the full list of awards winners, and click here to catch up on all of our Sundance 2014 coverage.

Director Adam Wingard Talks THE GUEST, Dan Stevens’ Physical Transformation, the Way He Edits, His Next Two Projects, and More at Sundance 2014

by     Posted 186 days ago

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One of my favorite films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was The Guest.  Directed and written by the team behind You’re Next (Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, respectively), The Guest is fantastic and as Matt said in his review, it “feels like a lost John Carpenter film from the director’s golden age.  The picture effortlessly moves between a nerve-wracking mystery to a gleefully dark comedy, and at its best it even mixes the two together.”   The story revolves around a soldier that befriends the family of a fallen comrade and becomes a threat to everyone around him when he may not be who he says he is.  Trust me, it’s a film you should be excited to see and I’m sure it’ll be released sometime this year.  The Guest stars Dan Stevens (in an amazingly dark turn), Maika MonroeLeland OrserLance ReddickChase Williamson, and Brendan Meyer.

Shortly after the premiere, I landed an exclusive video interview with Adam Wingard.  He talked about how You’re Next changed their approach to developing films, how they came upon the concept for The Guest, his process of editing, the length of his first cut, Stevens’ physical transformation and his topless scene, the other movie they almost made instead of The Guest (a non-stop chase action movie), and more.  In addition, Wingard talked about their next two projects, saying one is “a relentless horror film thrill ride” and the other has more action stuff in it, but both are totally different than anything else they’ve done.  Hit the jump to watch.

TOP 5: Sundance 2014, THE RAID 2 Trailer, Quentin Tarantino’s THE HATEFUL EIGHT, New Trailer/Promo for Disney’s MALEFICENT, STAR WARS News

by     Posted 186 days ago

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If you’ve yet to check out writer/director Destin Daniel Cretton‘s Short Term 12, what are you waiting for? The film hit shelves on Blu-ray/DVD on January 14th, rendering the “it’s not playing anywhere near me” excuse invalid. I had the opportunity to watch it last weekend and I was blown away. Much has been made of Brie Larson‘s performance and for good reason: it’s terrific. She’s not alone in that regard, though. The turns by Kaitlyn Dever and Keith Stanfield are nothing short of excellent and, in particular, a scene between Stanfield and John Gallagher Jr. in which Stanfield’s character, Marcus, bares his emotional scars via an original rap verse is equal parts heartbreaking and jaw-dropping. Watching Short Term 12 is an emotional roller coaster. You’ll laugh, cry, feel anger, love, hope, and despair. You’ll catch a glimpse of just how lonely a life can be and, at the same time, appreciate how opening ourselves up to the possibility of trust and love is a powerful decision that doesn’t come easily for all of us.

My Blu-ray/DVD recommendation of the week in the books, this week’s Top 5 highlights all of our Sundance 2014 coverage to date, a new trailer for The Raid 2 (including Matt’s Sundance review), Quentin Tarantino‘s The Hateful Eight script leak, a new trailer for Disney’s Maleficent, and a variety of news from the Star Wars: Episode VII camp. Keep reading for a brief recap and link to each of the above.

Michael C. Hall and Vinessa Shaw Talk COLD IN JULY, the Film’s Multiple Tones, the Script, and More at Sundance 2014

by     Posted 186 days ago

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When you see a lot of movies, it’s always refreshing when you come across one that is thrillingly unpredictable.  That definitely describes Jim Mickle’s Cold in July, which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.  While most movies follow a certain trajectory, Cold in July pulls its audience into one tone, and then explodes it over halfway through the picture only to blow it up yet again.  If you not familiar with the film, the one line synopsis from Sundance is, “after killing a home intruder, a small town Texas man’s life unravels into a dark underworld of corruption and violence.”  The film stars Michael C. HallDon JohnsonSam ShepardVinessa ShawNick Damici, and Wyatt Russell.  For more on the movie, read Matt’s review.

While at Sundance, I landed an exclusive video interview with Michael C. Hall and Vinessa Shaw.   They talked about the experience of reading the script for the first time, what the story is about, what it means to be part of Sundance, future projects, and more.  Hit the jump to watch.

Sundance 2014: THEY CAME TOGETHER Review

by     Posted 187 days ago

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When director David Wain does his own thing, it may not be for everyone, but he’s also at his best.  His more mainstream films, Role Models and Wanderlust, are entertaining, but his work on The State, Stella, and the classic Wet Hot American Summer is distinct, absurd, bold, and painfully funny.  His latest, They Came Together, is Wain embracing his unique comic voice as he turns to mock one of Hollywood’s easiest targets, the romantic comedy.  Despite the easily apparent flaws of that genre, Wain and co-writer Michael Showalter not only poke fun at the obvious tropes, but also let their delightfully twisted comedy burst through.  Further supported by Paul Rudd brilliantly and brutally skewering his familiar leading man persona, They Came Together doesn’t bring the rom-com to its knees, but it does deliver a well-deserved gut punch.

Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi Talk WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS, Deciding on Which Jokes to Use, Their Writing Process, and More at Sundance

by     Posted 187 days ago

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One of the many great movies to premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was writer-director Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s What We Do in the Shadows.  The mockumentary is about a group of a group of vampires who live together in Wellington, New Zealand.  Unlike some vampire movies that focus on young love, What We Do in the Shadows has the roommates struggling with the mundane like paying rent, keeping up with the chore wheel, trying to get into nightclubs, and overcoming flatmate conflicts.  Trust me, it’s extremely funny and I’m confident someone will purchase domestic rights so hopefully you’ll be able to see it sometime this year.  The film stars Clement, Waititi, Jonathon Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Stu Rutherford and Rhys Darby.

The day after the premiere, I landed an exclusive video interview with Clement and Waititi.  They talked about how they wanted to premiere the film at the Transylvania Film Festival but they couldn’t finish it in time, how they got financing, being at Sundance, deciding on which jokes to use (since they did a lot of improvisation), filming on location and dealing with fans, why they used the RED camera, if they’re considering an extended cut on Blu-ray, deleted scenes, their writing process, the way they worked on set, future projects, and more.  Hit the jump to watch.

Simon Barrett Talks THE GUEST, the Pressure of Following Up YOU’RE NEXT, the Non-Stop Action Movie They Almost Made First, and More at Sundance 2014

by     Posted 188 days ago

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One of my favorite films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was The Guest.  Directed and written by the team behind You’re Next (Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, respectively), The Guest is fantastic and as Matt said in his review, it “feels like a lost John Carpenter film from the director’s golden age.  The picture effortlessly moves between a nerve-wracking mystery to a gleefully dark comedy, and at its best it even mixes the two together.”   The story revolves around a soldier that befriends the family of a fallen comrade and becomes a threat to everyone around him when he may not be who he says he is.  Trust me, it’s a film you should be excited to see and I’m sure it’ll be released sometime this year.  The Guest stars Dan Stevens (in an amazingly dark turn), Maika MonroeLeland OrserLance ReddickChase Williamson, and Brendan Meyer.

Shortly after the premiere, I landed an exclusive video interview with screenwriter Simon Barrett.   He talked about the pressure and challenge of following up You’re Next, how much the project changed from inception to the final cut, the other movie they almost made instead of The Guest (a Korea-set action movie that would have been a non-stop chase scene for the entirety of the film), Stevens’ physical transformation, why they didn’t make cameos, and more.  He also revealed that he and Wingard already have their next two projects lined up, with the first set to shoot this year. Hit the jump to watch.

Sundance 2014: THE BATTERED BASTARDS OF BASEBALL Review

by     Posted 188 days ago

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Sports are entertainment featuring athletic achievement, but too often they’re treated as a precious gemstone requiring constant polishing from sanctimonious sportswriters, an unremarkable commodity for owners, or both.  The notion that the sport should be fun isn’t unimportant, but it does fall through the cracks. Chapman and Maclain Way’s documentary The Battered Bastards of Baseball is a potent reminder that sports can be fun and freewheeling while remaining respectable and financially successful.  The film provides not only a series of enjoyable anecdotes, but also a celebration of playing for the love of the game.

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