Leigh Whannell, the screenwriter (and co-star) behind the first two Insidious movies, is now the man behind the camera for Insidious: Chapter 3. Whannell’s Insidious collaborator James Wan has been busy shooting and editing Fast & Furious 7, so it’s great to see Whannell finally directing one of his scripts.
Insidious: Chapter 3 features franchise stalwart Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye), but this time we follow the psychic’s adventures before the events of the first two movies. The prequel has Elise using her ability to make contact with the dead to help a teenager (Stefanie Scott) who is being terrorized by a malevolent entity.
Opening May 29, 2015, Insidious: Chapter 3 co-stars Dermot Mulroney and Angus Sampson.
My financial acumen is nonexistent, but today’s launch of We The Economy 20 Short Films You Can’t Afford To Misswill surely help in that education, albeit in an entertaining fashion.
The 20 shorts, which features work from such filmmakers as Ramin Bahrani (At Any Price), Barbara Kopple (Harlan County USA), Mary Harron (American Psycho), and Adam McKay (Anchorman), take a look at various subjects about the U.S. Economy. All of these videos are free to watch and are available for streaming on over 50 cable, mobile and digital (including Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon) platforms.
Filmmaker Miao Wang (Beijing Taxi, Yellow Ox Mountain) traveled to South Carolina for her short Made By China In America. Running over eight minutes, the narrative takes a look at how China’s economic growth has positively impacted the lives of Americans who are working in South Carolina’s textile industry.
“A lot of that film work I do is about engendering that cross-cultural understanding,” said Wang, who grew up in the China but now resides in the U.S. “I understand both cultures and it puts me in a position where I really feel a responsibility to make both sides understand each other a little more.”
During my interview with Miao Wang, she talked about traveling to South Carolina to make the short:
All of the films are available to view for free at WeTheEconomy.com. Made By China In America can be seen below:
When The Game Stands Tall(115 minutes, PG), the football story inspired by coach Bob Ladouceur’s (Jim Caviezel) storied run with the De La Salle High School Spartans, heads to Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD December 9 via Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and AFFIRM Films (it hits Digital HD on November 25).
The De La Salle High School Spartans’ 151-game winning streak still hasn’t been shattered, and the picture deals with Coach Ladouceur and his team’s attempts to bounce back when they encounter their first lost in over 12 years. The project also stars Michael Chiklis (American Horror Story), Alexander Ludwig (Vikings), and Laura Dern (Citizen Ruth).
Blu-ray and Digital HD owners will receive these exclusive special features:
Scene commentary with director Thomas Carter and Coach Bob Ladouceur
Six deleted and extended scenes
The featurette “Undefeated: Making When The Game Stands Tall“
The featurette “Gridiron Action” which takes a look at the film’s thrilling football sequences
“The Heart and Soul of a Program” takes a look at Coach Bob Ladouceur and the De La Salle High School Football program.
Blu-ray and DVD Special Features include:
Commentary with director Thomas Carter
“Undefeated: Making When The Game Stands Tall” featurette
As a fan of the tried and true standard, Griffinis a personal favorite on The Voice. Initially a member of Pharrell’s squad, Griffin is now being coached by Blake Shelton.
Last week’s battle round had Griffin and Luke Wade duking it out over “Maybe I’m Amazed,” and their two varying styles (Wade has a soulful voice while Griffin reaches for notes most singers can’t imagine) led to one of this season’s more memorable performances (Gwen Stefani described his voice as “butter”).
I spoke with Griffin, a Greenville, South Carolina native and current Nashville resident, about his journey on The Voice.
When did you know you had what it takes to pursue a career in music?
Music, for me, started at a really young age when I was first introduced to artists from the ’50s and ’60s like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. We visited our grandparents every Christmas and my grandparents would get out all their old records and play them. I listened to so many of those different artists and sort of had this desire to be them one day.
I grew up in church. I started singing there and once I was old enough to realize that music is something I wanted to do, which was right around freshman year of high school, I started writing a lot of music and playing at different coffee shops and small little music venues in Greenville, South Carolina – which is where I’m originally from.
I always had this desire to move to Nashville, and about a year and a half ago I did that. I’ve been there ever since trying to pursue my dream.
What are some of your favorite standards and why?
That’s a good question.One of my favorite artists is Frank Sinatra. I love so many of his songs, so it’s hard to pick a specific one. But what I really enjoy from music back then is just the way – the genuineness of it. These were some of the most amazing singers – they had true talent and they really valued music.
When you listen to those records, you hear the some of those live bands and you get to hear the real horn sounds and the symphonies. So many different instruments were showcased on these songs.
I’ve really tried to dissect that music and incorporate that into the type of music that I endeavor to do now.
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned while at Nashville?
Living in Nashvillehas been the opportunity of a lifetime. I immediately got to work on writing tons of music, going to bars and music venues. And trying to connect and meet with people.
Nashville is a big city, but it has such a small city vibe and feel to it. I think it’s important for any artist to have a really good work ethic and to do a great job of connecting with people on a personal level and on an artistic level.
Just from the connections I’ve made on The Voice so far – they’ve been great and I’ve been able to become friends with some really cool artists.
Learning from Pharrell and now Blake Shelton must be a huge blessing.
It really is. I started on Team Pharrell and I have learned so much from him. Pharrell is one of those guys who is extremely genuine and humble. He had so much advice to give. I remember when my battle partner Luke and I were practicing (“Maybe I’m Amazed”), Pharrell came over and just started talking to us about being nervous before you go out on stage. (He was) just encouraging us to be in the moment as much as possible and soak in everything that these moments have to offer us. That’s something I’ve really taken to heart as I’ve progressed on the show.
And now being on Team Blake, I’ve learned so much from him as well. Blake is one of those guys who’s just very genuine and he’s had so much success on the show, as well as so much success as an artist. He just wants his artists to go out each week and to just give a genuine performance. He’s not into gimmicks and he’s not into trying to create an artist that isn’t true to themselves.
I’ve learned so many valuable lessons from them that I’m going to be able to take with me past the show.
Regarding taking things past the show, how gratifying has it been to communicate with fans on the show?
It has been the best feeling in the world. The biggest reason for me doing music is because it’s my passion. It’s what I love to do. I grew up listening to so much different genres and one thing I love about music is when I’m listening to a song, I feel the song and I feel the emotion. That has been something that The Voice does really well at.
The artists that come on the show and give these really good performances and they feel the emotion of the song and it comes across to America.
Just having done the Battle Round portion of the show with Luke was such a great feeling. We just got great feedback from so many people. Our battle was showcased on the Today Show twice as well as on Fox News. So many people on Twitter have been commenting on how awesome the song was. It’s such a good feeling.
Where did you get that strength to perform on stage? Does part of that strength come from your family’s support?
Yes. I have so much support from my family and they’ve been there with me from the very beginning.But once I get on stage, it’s sort of like I become this new person or someone I’ve always wanted to be. I get on stage and this confidence takes over. I’m normally really, really nervous before I get on stage and sometimes I can be even pretty shy.
(But) once I get on the stage, it’s like something takes over and I just go into this whole different world. That to me is the most fun when it comes to performing songs.
Griffin, thank you for your time and good luck moving forward into the competition.
Thank you so much for your support. I appreciate it.
They say the best things in life are free, and the new film series We The Economy 20 Short Films You Can’t Afford to Miss has different directors offering up their entertaining takes on various economic issues. Viewing the shorts won’t cost you a single penny, as the program simultaneously launches October 21 in over 50 digital, cable, TV, and mobile platforms (including YouTube, Netflix, AOL, Amazon).
One of the shorts, The Unbelievably Sweet Alpacas!, is directed by Adam McKay, the filmmaker/writer behind Anchorman, Talladega Nights, Step Brothers and The Other Guys. Running close to six minutes, the animated piece has multi-colored, lollipop loving Alpacas yearning to find a job, only to find income inequality pervading their rainbow filled land. The voice cast includes Amy Poehler, Andy Richter, Billy Eichner, Maya Rudolph, and Sarah Silverman.
Part of the inspiration for McKay’s involvement with We The Economy comes from his love for Michael Lewis’ book The Big Short. McKay penned the screenplay adaptation and will direct the film.
I was just adapting the Michael Lewis book The Big Short, and I’ve always been kind of just interested in it. Any time you start getting into politics and why things are the way they are, you always end up at economics as one of the big ones . . . It’s fascinating, and I really give Michael Lewis a lot of credit for really getting me excited about it.
Below is Adam McKay’s director’s statement on taking part in We The Economy:
“At least a dozen times as an adult I’ve found myself saying ‘Why the hell didn’t we have an economics and finance class in high school?’ Whether it was being ripped off on credit card rates or not knowing my rights when it came to paying back student loans or even what the Federal Reserve is, I’ve always marveled at how the one subject we all should know, economics, is the subject most of us are completely illiterate about.
Through the years I’ve read a dozen or so books, watched all the documentaries and asked a fair amount of questions. And as I learned the rudimentary basics of macro and micro economics I was amazed at how simple the world actually is once you penetrate the language and jargon. But still, most people act as though advance degrees and tweed jackets are required to even discuss compound interest. Or worse yet, most people treat the subject as a complete bore. But as a fan of pop culture I know there’s nothing boring about the economy, who runs it and who profits from it. In fact, it’s the juiciest subject there is. So when I heard about the WTE project and the fact that Morgan Spurlock was curating it, I knew I was in. I truly hope it’s the beginning of a movement to popularize economics. Lord knows our country needs it.”
I’ll be posting more on The Unbelievably Sweet Alpacas! and We The Economy tomorrow (I also interviewed documentary filmmaker MIao Wang), but the audio below has Adam McKay talks about his future projects, which includes The Big Short, a Seth Rogen project, and his work on Ant-Man.
If you’re in the mood for a beautifully shot, thematically rich drama, then director Ruben Östlund’s ForceMajeure might do the trick. The story centers on a Swedish family whose lives unravel after an avalanche hits the French Alps.
But issues were already bubbling under the surface before the avalanche, as Tomas (Johannes Bah Kuhnke) and his wife Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli) are subtly disconnected from each other. Opening in New York on October 24 and October 31 in Los Angeles, the movie premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where it was honored the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize.
During the interview, I asked Östlund if having a strong point of view is an integral element in filmmaking. “Definitely . . . a moving image is very powerful when it comes to changing human behavior,” said Östlund, whose previous include Play and Involuntary. “I have been interested in that topic for quite a long time.”
Last month, Östlund was appointed professor at Valand Academy, University of Gothenburg, where he can lend his skills and experience to a new generation of filmmakers. “Young students who come to the school, they are very skilled at making (a film) look very good” said the director, who subverts our idea of the archetypal hero with Force Majeure with surgical, cinematic precision. “So what we need to focus these days are the content of the films.”
To hear Ruben Östlund talk about the importance of filmmaking and the moving image, click on the audio bar below:
Ruben Östlund also talks about the next project he plans to direct – The Square. Click on the media bar below for details:
Furywas the #1 film over the weekend with a $23.5 million opening. Starring Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, and Shia LaBeouf, Furyis the biggest opening for director David Ayer, whose previous best was the 2012 feature End of Watch (it opened with $12 million).
Here’s this weekend’s top 10:
Fury – $23.5 million
Gone Girl – Still going with $17.8 million – over $107 million domestically
The Book of Life – Animated feature with voices of Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, and Channing Tatum takes in $17 million.
Alexander and the Terrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day – $12 million
The Best Of Me – Not the very best opening for this Nicholas Sparks weeper. $10.2 million
Dracula Untold – $9.89 million
The Judge – $7.94 million
Annabelle – $7.93 million this weekend but a solid $74.1 million domestic to date.
The Equalizer – $5.45 million
The Maze Runner – $4.5 million
In the audio clip below, Fury co-stars Logan Lerman and Michael Pena talk about sparring together during the Boot Camp portion of the film.
Unless you’re a silent film or early talkies enthusiast, Billie Dove may be a foreign name. That’s bound to change if you check out the Warner Archive DVD release One Night At Susie’s(92 minutes), a New York set drama released in 1930.
Dove is Mary Martin, a beautiful girl enamored with Dick Rollins (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.), an aspiring writer who pays the bills as a Broadway press agent. The pair are engaged to be married, much to the chagrin of Dick’s overprotective foster mom Susie (Helen Ware). It’d be foolish to cross Susie, as she runs a tough as nails boardinghouse that’s also a meeting place for mobsters.
The gangsters treat Susie as their surrogate mom, and often they’ll ask for advice (or permission) to transact their various “business” deals. When Mary kills a lecherous producer in self-defense, Dick takes the fall and ends up in the slammer, leading Susie to harbor further ill will towards the doe-eyed showgirl.
Though it’s a whisper over an hour, One Night at Susie’spacks a ton of story within its constricted length, as we witness Mary’s gradual rise to fame. As much as he loves Mary, Dick’s main concern is to see his plays make it on Broadway, and when his latest project gets rejected across town, his determination to push through his jail time starts to wane.
With Mary determined to make Dick happy at any price, certain compromises and decisions must be made. James Crane co-stars as Houlihan, an weaselly informant who knows a secret about Mary that will completely tear Dick apart.
Will Susie and Mary ever make up or at least form a truce? Or is Houlihan, who also has eyes for Mary, going to ruin her relationship with Dick?
Douglas Fairbanks Jr. may be the most recognizable name in the cast, but One Night at Susie’s belongs to Billie Dove and Helen Ware. Both actresses deliver fine work in their respective roles, with Ware getting the lion’s share of the picture’s more humorous moments (Susie is a woman who suffers no fools, and Ware knows how to throw her weight around a room – even if it’s filled with gangsters).
Dove, who worked with Douglas Fairbanks in The Black Pirate, has palpable chemistry with his sonin One Night at Susie’s. Though Ware has the showiest role, it’s Dove who covers a wide array of emotional ground (love, heartbreak, horror, fear), proving she’s not just another pretty face.
It’s a shame Dove would make just several movies before retiring in 1932 (her last film, Blonde of the Follies, co-starred Marion Davies), since she’s one of the rare actresses to make a seamless transition from silent films to talkies. One Night At Susie’s is a great introduction to Billie Dove’s versatile talents (she died in 1997 at the Motion Picture Country House & Hospital in Woodland Hills, Ca.). For an article detailing Dove’s final years at the hospital, check out this Los Angeles times piece from 2010.
One Night at Susie’s is a Manufactured on Demand (MOD) title. To order the DVD: http://bit.ly/XWvUjH
Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby, Warrior) writes and headlines Felony, an Australian police thriller that starts off with a bang only to shoot you in a completely different direction.
We meet Malcolm (Joel Edgerton) as he leads his fellow cops on a drug raid. As they run one way, his instincts veer him to an alternate route. Though he finds the crook, the shootout ends with a bullet ridden Malcolm lying on the ground.
Thankfully, the culprit is caught by the police, and Malcolm’s new best friend is his Kevlar vest. As he slowly composes himself, he walks towards the criminal and punches him sans hesitation.
Malcolm may have abused police procedure, but since the men and women of his squad are a close knit bunch, that impulsive act never makes the report. It’s this above the law attitude which pervades throughout Felony, and when Malcolm accidentally hits an Indian youth who’s riding a bicycle, an altogether different crime emerges.
Detective Carl Summer (Tom Wilkinson, fantastic as always) covers up the incident without hesitation, bending the truth to fit Malcolm’s fabricated story. However, Carl’s wet behind the ears, straight arrow partner Jim (Jai Courtney) gradually realizes Malcolm may not be the Good Samaritan who saved the boy’s life. Jim launches his own investigation into the accident, attempting to right a few wrongs along the way.
Edgerton, who also co-penned The Rover with Animal Kingdom filmmaker David Michod, is not exactly interested in the inner workings of the police procedural. Rather, Felony examines how three men at pivotal points in their life deal with this tragedy (Malcolm was inebriated when he hit the boy). Detective Summer knows his days on the police force are numbered, and his main goals are to catch as many criminals as possible and protect his own, no matter what the consequence.
Summer’s influence temporarily takes hold of Malcolm, who also has a family (Melissa George is his wife) to worry about. When partaking in domestic life, aiming for the greater good may take a back seat to self-preservation, but Malcolm’s all-consuming guilt is more than he can handle.
The world is black and white for Jim. He’s the lone wolf of the squad, believing justice is the only measuring stick. When he gets attached to the boy’s mother, those principles are put to the test.
Felony may draw an audience looking for a testosterone driven cop drama, but an even tougher fight is brimming under the surface. Thanks to slam-bang performances from Edgerton, Courtney (who does some of his best work to date), and Wilkinson, Felony is more than just a preachy drama about morality and compromise.
Don’t expect too much gun play or over the top fisticuffs from the feature. It’s more of a battle of wills among the three cops, and seeing talented actors play their respective chess game is a thrill to watch. Felony’s ending is ambiguous as the day is long, but considering these men are playing for higher stakes, there’s no clear cut winner. But the gamble, if you’re the viewer, should pay off.
Felony (100 minutes) is now playing in select theaters and is available On Demand.
During this week’s interview, I asked Joel Edgerton about the ambiguous ending of Felony. It’s a pretty spoiler-free response, and hopefully you’ll listen to this sound bite after you see the flick.
Perhaps you remember Jai Courtney as John McClane’s equally bad-ass son in A Good Day To Die Hard or, better yet, as the cold blooded mercenary who battles Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher.
In the Australian drama Felony, Courtney is Jim Melic, a by the books police officer who witnesses a subtle form of corruption within his department. A highly respected fellow cop named Malcolm (Joel Edgerton, who penned the script) accidentally hits a child while driving home in a drunken stupor, and morally compromised Detective Carl Summer (Tom Wilkinson, doing his usual bang-up job) is there to pick up the pieces and shield Malcolm from any legal repercussions.
Opening Friday in select theaters (as well as On Demand), Felony is a rich character study of three lawmen who are faced with compromising their own moral code when tragedy strikes. Concerned for the injured boy and his family, Jim Melic is determined to bring Malcolm and his own partner Summer to justice, even if it means threatening his own security within the force.
At today’s interviews for Felony, Joel Edgerton and Jai Courtney talked about acting opposite Tom Wilkinson, who carries the film’s most colorful and effective monologues.
Detective Carl Summer believes whatever his fellow detectives do in the line of work, their accomplishments and failures will all come out in the wash. Summer is resigned to the fate that all men and women must die, with their deeds and misdeeds erased with the passage of time.
I asked Edgerton and Courtney about the thrill of working with Wilkinson, a two-time Oscar nominee (In the Bedroom, Michael Clayton).
“I’m going to steal one of Joel’s favorite lines and say we both had a front row seat to the Tom Wilkinson show,” said Courtney, whose other credits include Divergent and I, Frankenstein. “It’s very, very true – he’s a very hard working actor (and) he was one of those guys who spent years and years in the theater before he crossed over to film and TV. (He) has that sense of traditional, classical training and that respect for the text and the work. And he maintains that.”
To hear Courtney give a pretty funny anecdote about working with Wilkinson (as well as hear Edgerton’s comments on working with the co-star), click on the media bar below:
At the end of the interview, Jai Courtney was asked about the highly anticipated 2015 feature Terminator: Genisys, which has him playing Kyle Reese. The picture also stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Game of Thrones actress Emilia Clarke.
It’s a short audio clip about Terminator: Genisys, with Courtney throwing a Kyle Reese pun into the mix (Edgerton is also heard in the clip):