‘When The Game Stands Tall’ Hits Blu-ray & DVD in December

WhenTheGameCover1 463x600 When The Game Stands Tall Hits Blu ray & DVD in December

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

Force Majeure - Magnolia Pictures

‘Force Majeure’ Director Ruben Östlund Ready To Build ‘The Square’

If you’re in the mood for a beautifully shot, thematically rich drama, then director Ruben Östlund’s Force Majeure 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.”

ForceMajeure6 600x240 Force Majeure Director Ruben Östlund Ready To Build The Square
Lisa Loven Kongsli and Johannes Bah Kuhnke in FORCE MAJEURE, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

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:

 

Brad Pitt

‘Fury’ Rolls In With $23.5 Million Opening, Takes Box Office Crown

 

Fury was the #1 film over the weekend with a $23.5 million opening. Starring Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, and Shia LaBeouf, Fury is 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:

  1. Fury – $23.5 million
  2. Gone Girl – Still going with $17.8 million – over $107 million domestically
  3. The Book of Life – Animated feature with voices of Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, and Channing Tatum takes in $17 million.
  4. Alexander and the Terrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day – $12 million
  5. The Best Of Me – Not the very best opening for this Nicholas Sparks weeper. $10.2 million
  6. Dracula Untold – $9.89 million
  7. The Judge – $7.94 million
  8. Annabelle – $7.93 million this weekend but a solid $74.1 million domestic to date.
  9. The Equalizer – $5.45 million
  10. 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.

One Night At Susie's - Warner Archive

DVD Spotlight: Bille Dove Takes Center Stage In ‘One Night At Susie’s’

 

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’s packs 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.

OneNightAtSusies1 DVD Spotlight: Bille Dove Takes Center Stage In One Night At Susies
One Night At Susie’s – Warner Archive

 

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 son in 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.

OneNight1 600x408 DVD Spotlight: Bille Dove Takes Center Stage In One Night At Susies
One Night At Susie’s – Warner Archive

One Night at Susie’s is a Manufactured on Demand (MOD) title. To order the DVD: http://bit.ly/XWvUjH

 

Felony - Gravitas Ventures/Mark Rogers

Review: ‘Felony’ Stars Joel Edgerton In Riveting Police Drama

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.

Felony9 400x600 Review: Felony Stars Joel Edgerton In Riveting Police Drama
Joel Edgerton & Tom Wilkinson in ‘Felony’ (Gravitas Ventures/Mark Rogers)

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.

Felony11 404x600 Review: Felony Stars Joel Edgerton In Riveting Police Drama

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.

Felony

Jai Courtney Talks ‘Felony’ & ‘Terminator: Genisys’ Reese-set

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.

Felony11 404x600 Jai Courtney Talks Felony & Terminator: Genisys Reese set

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.

Felony151 600x399 Jai Courtney Talks Felony & Terminator: Genisys Reese set
Joel Edgerton, Tom Wilkinson in ‘Felony’ (Gravitas Ventures)

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, FrankensteinIt’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):

NIghtcrawler (Open Road Films, CR: Chuck Zlotnick)

Rene Russo Stays “In The Wave” With ‘Nightcrawler’

In NightcrawlerRene Russo is Nina, a news producer at a struggling, Los Angeles station. To bump up the program’s ratings, Nina buys violent footage from cameramen who capture the latest robberies and car accidents that occur within the suburban confines of Southern California.

Jake Gyllenhaal is Lou Bloom, a novice to the news profession who’s armed with a ton of ambition and a video camera at his disposal. Both Nina and Lou are desperate to climb the ranks of the tabloid driven media, even if it means crossing the line.

Although Russo had initial challenges in crafting Nina, she eventually found her footing without changing a word of Dan Gilroy’s dialogue (Gilroy penned and directed the film).

“I finally found a way to bring her to life,” said Russo, whose previous credits include Lethal Weapon 4, The Thomas Crown Affair, Big Trouble, and most recently Thor: The Dark World. “And that is through desperation. I know, for me,  if I ever crossed those moral boundaries, it’s usually because I’m scared to death.”

During the Nightcrawler interviews, I asked Rene Russo how she manages to stay “in the moment” as an actress. “Sometimes it is like catching a wave a little bit,” said Russo. “You’ve got to kind of stay in the wave.”

Click on the media bar below to hear Rene Russo talk about the “paintbox of emotions” which has helped her craft:

Nightcrawler opens nationwide October 31.

Pixies - Doolittle (Courtesy of Pixies)

‘Pixies: Doolittle 25′ Celebrates Band’s Seminal Album In December

 

In celebration of its 25th anniversary, Pixies: Doolittle 25 comes out on CD, all digital formats, and a double-vinyl edition on December 2 (North America).

The deluxe, 3-disc edition contains all of the album’s B-sides, Peel Sessions and demos from the era, along with the original release. “Doolittle,” recorded in 1988 at Downtown Recorders in Boston, MA and Carriage House Studios in Stamford, CT, was released the following year via Elektra and the group’s British label, 4AD.

The album yielded several of the group’s more memorable tracks, including “Monkey Gone To Heaven,” “Debaser,” and “Here Comes Your Man.”

Pixies: Doolittle 25 totals 50 tracks, which also includes the original album in its demo form (the final release is on the first disc, with the demo version on the third).

Pixies took “Doolittle” on the road to celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2009, and one has to wonder if they’ll step on stage for this next milestone.

pixies25FrontCover hi 600x600 Pixies: Doolittle 25 Celebrates Bands Seminal Album In December
Pixies: Doolittle 25 cover

 

Michael Pena

Michael Pena Continues David Ayer Partnership With ‘Fury’

Michael Pena, so memorable opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in the gritty, Los Angeles cop drama End of Watch, continues his working relationship with that film’s director (David Ayer) with the WWII drama Fury. The picture, opening Friday, contains the hard earned grit of a Samuel Fuller war film (The Big Red One, The Steel Helmet) while continuing Ayer’s recurring themes of brotherhood.

This time, the male bonding mainly takes place within the confines of a battle scarred tank. With the hard-nosed Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) as their leader and Boyd (Shia LaBeouf) consistently spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, it’s the likable (yet ultimately haunted) Gordo (Pena) who stands in the middle ground. If you add Grady’s (The Walking Dead’s Jon Bernthal) quick trigger temper and Norman’s (Logan Lerman) wide-eyed naivete to the mix, Gordo may be the only even keeled serviceman of the bunch.

But looks are usually always deceiving, and Pena talked about the research he did for the role (he claims an estimated 500,000 Latinos served in WWII). Pena also added that he infused his character with a “level of depression,” a condition which led to Gordo’s dependence on alcohol.

Click on the media bar below to hear Pena explain how he and David Ayer developed the character of Trini ‘Gordo’ Garcia:

Fury opens Friday, October 17. Pena also stars in the Fox series Gracepoint.

The Voice - Season 7

‘The Voice’ Shocker – Adam Levine Says Goodbye To Joe Kirk

Last night’s most heartbreaking moment on The Voice came with the elimination of talented Nashville high school student Joe Kirk. Kirk faced fellow Team Adam (Adam Levine) member Alessandra Castronovo during the Battle Rounds, and their inspired performance of Rihanna’s “Stay” was the evening’s show stopper.

“What Joe Kirk just did, that may be one of the most perfect vocals I have ever heard,” said Blake Shelton after the performance, which nearly brought fellow judge Gwen Stefani to tears.

Joe, I think that you have a career, for sure,” said Pharell. “Just your whole approach, I just found so much originality in it.”

Though Levine described Kirk as a “hard worker and a very talented kid,” he went with Castronovo (whom Pharell praised for her diva-like presence on stage). The choice left Kirk in an emotional state, and he was quickly comforted backstage by Pharell.

Both Castronovo and Kirk gave class-A performances during their battle, and the onus really shouldn’t go to Levine’s decision, but on the other coaches. Having nurtured young talent such as season four winner Danielle Bradbery and season six finalist Jake Worthington, Blake Shelton would have been the perfect coach to steal Kirk on his team. Pharell and Gwen Stefani should have also gone for the steal, but maybe we’ll give them a pass since their newbies (Pharell, along with Christina Aguilera, are coming back for the next cycle, reports Hitfix).

The good news is Kirk is undeterred by the elimination and will continue to pursue a music career (his older brothers perform as a country duo),  His determination is conveyed by his recent Vine posting:

I had Joe Kirk making it deep into the competition, and his pairing with Castronovo was one of this season’s highlights. If you haven’t seen their Battle Round performance of “Stay,” check out the video below.

Did Adam Levine make the right choice, or was Castronovo the clear winner of the battle round? Did the other coaches miss a great opportunity by not stealing and placing Joe Kirk on their team? Please comment below and tell me what you think – Joe Kirk’s early exit was a total shocker to me, but maybe I’m in the minority.

The Voice airs on Mondays and Tuesdays (NBC, 8 pm et/pt).

TheVoice9 400x600 The Voice Shocker   Adam Levine Says Goodbye To Joe Kirk
THE VOICE — (l-r) Alessandra Castronovo, Joe Kirk from Team Adam. Credit: Trae Patton/NBC

Where dreaming is believing…

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