Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” Continues Cinematic Human Project

Boyhood (IFC Films)

In anticipation of director Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood,” my neurotic mind drifts to last year’s “Before Midnight” press conference. The “Before” stories, which detail the lifelong romance between Jessie (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) bears a spiritual kinship to “Boyhood,” a project Linklater shot from 2002 to 2013.

Clocking in at 160 minutes, “Boyhood” gives us a peek into the life of Mason (Ellar Coltrane), the son of divorced parents (Hawke and Patricia Arquette). As the trailer suggests, we see Mason (and Coltrane)grow before our very eyes. Although it’s a one shot film and “Before” may be ongoing series, both narratives deal with our relationship to aging. 

My favorite Jackson Browne album moniker is “Time the Conqueror,” and such a concept may be applied to Linklater’s work. For better and worse, the years do have an affect on our collective spirits,  and it’s what we do with that time that truly matters.

 

Boyhood (IFC Films)

Humanity’s ever expanding scope and reach serves as Richard Linklater’s creative canvas, and don’t expect the director to work with anything less, even if his films don’t pack ’em in like some bloated, nonsensical, summer blockbuster.

“We do have this small audience in mind when we get to a crossroads and we think, ‘Oh well, cinema, storytelling language says if this plus this equals an unlikable character then you just don’t do it,'” said Linklater during the ‘Before Midnight’ interviews. “We think, ‘well that’s a construct, that’s not really real. It’s the narrative, storytelling bubble (that) cinema exists in.'”

Click on the media bar below to hear Linklater explain why movie lovers play an important part in the creative drive behind “Before Midnight,” and it’s a conversation that I’m sure can be applied to the aesthetics behind “Boyhood.”

“Boyhood” opens July 11.

C.J. Harris Reflects On “Amazing” American Idol Journey

On last night’s “American Idol,” we said goodbye to C.J. Harris, and even though he tried to finish his rendition of “Can’t You See” by the Marshall Tucker Band, his emotions got the better of him as his fellow Idol colleagues took to the stage and hugged him.

“This whole journey has been amazing,” said Harris after the show. “The people that I’ve met. This whole experience has been something I can’t even explain to people. You’ve got to go through it and really figure it out, man. It’s amazing.”

C.J. Harris – American Idol (FOX, CR: Michael Becker)

For judge Keith Urban, watching any of these artists go home is tough to watch. “At this point, I feel close to every one of them,” said Urban. “So yeah it’s a little bit sad to see them go. Particularly C.J., because he’s such a good heart and good spirit. But he’s got a killer voice and he’s going to be fine.”

Don’t expect the Alabama native to fade into the woodwork anytime soon, as Harris is taking part in this summer’s “American Idol” tour. During his post-elimination interview, the singer showed a ton of class and heart by talking about his fellow Idol colleagues. His easygoing and kind demeanor are just a few reasons this talented musician was one of this season’s most likable artists.

Click on the media bar to hear C.J. Harris talk about his love and respect for his fellow “American Idol” competitors:

The top 5 singers continue their “American Idol” run next Wednesday at 8 pm et/pt on FOX.

‘Salem’ Sneak Peek: “The Stone Child” Walks On Sunday

Last week’s “Salem” pilot was a rather bewitching debut, especially if you love the manipulative tendencies of the show’s main character, Mary Sibley (Janet Montgomery). During the narrative’s opening moments, we’re on Mary’s side as she essentially mortgaged her own humanity to ensure lover John Alden’s (Shane West) return to Salem.

Their reunion, however, is met with its share of compromise, as the town has sunk into a deeper pit of immorality and violence. Mary Sibley, the supposed heroine of the story, has done, in Montgomery’s own words, some pretty “horrific things” during her journey.

“Salem” – Shane West as John Alden, Seth Gabel as Cotton Maher (WGN America)

“Salem’s” second episode, titled “The Stone Child,” has Alden trying to figure out what the heck is really going down in Salem. Although she’s the leader of the true witches of Salem, Mary Sibley still holds deep feelings for Alden. Will human love triumph over witchcraft, or is Salem literally going down in flames. And what the heck is the stone child?

“Salem” airs Sunday, April 27 on WGN America at 10 pm et/ 9 pm ct.

Here’s a clip of Janet Montgomery talking about why she loves playing Mary Sibley:

And…a sneak peek into Sunday’s episode is below:

‘Bettie Page Reveals All’ Bares Documentary Soul On DVD

Documentary filmmaker Mark Mori met Bettie Page through his entertainment attorney back in 1996. After reading the biography Bettie Page: The Life of a Pin-Up LegendMori was inspired to shoot a documentary on Page’s troubled yet ultimately triumphant life. Now out on Blu-ray and DVD (it’s also available as a VOD rental), Bettie Page Reveals All is Mori’s detailed look into Page’s history.

The project is actually narrated by Page, as her voice was lifted from Mori’s interviews with the late model (she passed in 2008). I talked to the Academy Award nominated filmmaker over the phone this week, and he shared a few insights about his subject.  Although Page never allowed the director to put her on camera, the documentary’s visual detail isn’t lacking thanks to the plethora of interviews and photographs within the piece. Since a picture is worth 1,000 words, Bettie Page Reveals All definitely has a lot to say.

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How long were your interviews with Bettie Page?

Well I did several lengthy audio recordings, a total of about five or six hours where I just tried to get everything. Originally, it was just for research. But her voice was really magic, her genuine personality comes through and I used that as the narration. I also have over 1,000 photographs of Bettie Page in the film and we used comic book panels and a lot of other things to illustrate her story.

BETTIE PAGE REVEALS ALL (Music Box Films)

The documentary starts off with Bettie Page’s funeral. Was it easy to receive access to the funeral?

I had Bettie’s blessing. This was the authorized documentary so people like Artie (Arthur Felig) the Camera Club photographer, Harry Lear her third husband, Paula Klaw from Movie Star News and even her agent and manager, I was able to get access with everything connected to Bettie because she wanted this film to get made. Anybody who was a fan of Bettie or wanted to hear her story told was interested in working with me on (the project).

What were your impressions of Bettie Page during your interviews? She seemed like a very strong woman.

Well that’s one of the things you get from her in the film. She was constantly overcoming tragedy and constantly getting knocked down, including ten years in a mental institution (Page was released from Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino County in 1992).

She was always able to pick herself back up and she just was very strong willed. She was just this force of nature and she didn’t try to make herself into something. She lived her life how she saw fit. She was an independent woman in the ‘40s and ‘50s and a sexual being that couldn’t understand why people had a problem with her sexuality.

One thing that’s not in the film that you get in the DVD extras is she talks about wanting to join a nudist colony. Feeling free in her nudity was actually a part of her being.

Bettie Page in Mark Mori's BETTIE PAGE REVEALS ALL (Music Box Films)
Bettie Page in Mark Mori’s BETTIE PAGE REVEALS ALL (Music Box Films)

What are some of the other bonus features on the Blu-ray and DVD release?

In the documentary, you get a minute or two of a phone call that we arranged between Paula Klaw and Bettie. It was the first time they had spoken in 35 years. In the DVD extras you get the whole 15 minute phone call, a and you get a different angle on who Bettie is.

I also got from the Klaws nine of what Bettie called her “wiggle movies.” The old Irving Klaw movies where she’s dancing around in these 16 mm/ 8 mm films – we restored nine of those. For the purpose of the DVD we put them to songs to Bettie. There’s a couple of other original songs that people may have never heard before that we discovered or that people brought to us.

We also have more of Bettie’s voice talking about her early life and we have more special photographs of her that did not make it into the documentary. There are also a few deleted scenes from the movie.

How would you explain Bettie Page’s continued popularity?

It’s her authenticity. This is why her photographs are so appealing. She’s gorgeous but there’s a real person there. It comes through in her eyes and what she’s doing. There’s no artifice. She’s just being genuine. You get a richer picture when you hear her voice and see that along with the pictures. There will never be another Bettie Page and she wasn’t trying to be the world’s greatest model. She didn’t even understand why anybody thought what she was doing was a big deal.

Were Bettie’s final years happy ones in your opinion?

She did enjoy the attention. She didn’t want to go out in public. She didn’t want that kind of attention but she was flattered that people were interested in her. Between the money and the attention she was getting, she did enjoy her later years in life. One thing I heard was she would give pizza boys $100 tips. So she was okay.

Director Mark MoriWhat was is like to have a project and work on it for so many years? Even though it must have been a difficult process, is getting feedback from fans of Page part of the joy in doing the documentary?

It’s both. It’s a hard thing when you’re going through it. There’s moments of sheer terror when you think, ‘What have I done?’ Then when it works and it’s successful and I’ve been through it several times now, then it seems worthwhile.

In fact it was in the process of making the documentary when I began to (really) appreciate Bettie. These young women would tell me about how they had a pure emotional connection with her. It was clear to me that they were getting their sexual confidence by identifying with Bettie Page.

The dominant culture was giving a negative message that if you’re not some preconceived notion of beauty, then you’re really not anything. Bettie Page was a means for these women (to overcome) that and for them to gain confidence in themselves.

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For more info on the Blu-ray and DVD release of Bettie Page Reveals All, check out its official website.

‘For No Good Reason’ Delves Into Ralph Steadman’s Artistic Journey

“For No Good Reason’s” main selling point as a documentary is the interaction between Johnny Depp and Ralph Steadman, the British artist who’s best known for his collaboration with author Hunter S. ThompsonSteadman’s expressionistic, larger than life images of an America gone mad, coupled with Thompson’s gonzo journalism swagger, made for an iconic pairing. The doc investigates their close knit and frequently tumultuous relationship.

Although the pleasurable conceit of the documentary has Depp visiting Steadman at his Old Loose Court in Kent residence during one lazy day, “For No Good Reason” was shot over a 15-year period. Such a lengthy process did not deter filmmaker Charlie Paul, who found himself consistently intrigued by Steadman and his work.

Ralph Steadman – “For No Good Reason” (Sony PIctures Classics, CR: Charlie Paul)

Ralph has been an artistic hero of mine since I was in art college,” said Paul. “To be allowed access into the world of someone like Ralph obviously was such an engaging thing for another artist to make a film about. Ralph is constantly surprising so there was never a time when I thought I’m running out of subject here. When things got dry, we’d turn ten degrees and suddenly a whole new world is there.”

I’ll be doing more posts on “For No Good Reason,” but for now check out this following clip as Charlie Paul discusses how having tons of footage on Steadman lead to his crafting an “honest” and “open” documentary (producer Lucy Paul is also heard in the clip):

“For No Good Reason,” which also features interviews with director Terry Gilliam, Jann Wenner, and actor Richard E. Grant, opens in New York on April 25 and the following week in Los Angeles.

Kate Upton Forms Bikini Bond With ‘The Other Woman’ Co-Stars

Even though she’s one of the world’s top supermodels, Kate Upton must have felt a twinge of intimidation after landing a co-starring role in “The Other Woman.” With Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann leading the way, Upton had to show she could bring something valuable to the table.

I watched the film several weeks ago, and one of the comedy’s greatest assets rests in the chemistry among the three actresses, as they play women who have all been cheated by an all too charming philanderer (“Game of Thrones” star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Upton stars as a kind, nubile, and slightly spacey beauty who is the cheater’s latest girlfriend, with Mann chiming in as the cuckolded wife and Diaz playing an ex-mistress.

 

The Other Woman (20th Century Fox, CR: Barry Wetcher)

Upton’s most difficult scene was a beach scene which featured her in a sexy white bikini. “It was so amazing,” said Upton. “I’m so lucky. I didn’t know what to expect when I first came on set, and they opened their arms to me and made me feel really comfortable instantly.”

To listen to Upton talk about shooting “The Other Woman’s” bikini/beach sequence, click on the media bar below:

Directed by Nick Cassavetes (“Alpha Dog,” “The Notebook”), “The Other Woman” opens April 25.

Kristin Cavallari & Orly Shani Talk ‘The Fabulist’ & Orange Lipstick

When you’re a middle-aged sap like me, a show like “The Fabulist” is informative and, if I ever decided to look presentable in public, highly educational . Hosted by Kristin Cavallari and Orly Shani, the E! series has the pair checking out the latest trends in fashion, lifestyle, and health. The telegenic Cavallari, who received her TV start on the MTV reality series “Laguna Beach,” is a veteran of the medium while fashion designer Shani gained her share of fame on NBC’s “Fashion Star.”

Although covering what’s hot and fashion forward is a huge element of “The Fabulist,” the co-hosts bring their own spin to the proceedings. “We’re both moms and aside from fun days like this we both have very regular lives,” said Shani, who attended the NBC Universal summer press day earlier this month with Cavallari to promote the show. “And so there’s a practicality to what we find interesting on the show.”

As for Cavallari, she’s expecting her second baby with husband (and Chicago Bears quarterback) Jay Cutler and she recently stopped by Sprout San Francisco in Chicago to offer up a baby gift ideas on the following E! Online video/article.

During the interview, I asked Shani and Cavallari if they cover trends that they’re not exactly crazy about.

Check out the video below for their answer, which dealt with such trending topics as orange lipstick and naked yoga:

“The Fabulist” airs Monday nights on E! (8:30 pm et/pt).