‘Leviathan’ Blu-Ray Explores Stan Winston’s Creature Feature Passions

Released in 1989, the horror thriller Leviathan (98 minutes, R), centers on a mining crew (led by Robocop’s Peter Weller) who discover an abandoned Russian vessel amidst the ocean’s dark waters. Their discovery leads to tragic consequences, as one by one the crew members (which includes Richard Crenna, Hector Elizondo, Ernie Hudson, Daniel Stern, Amanda Pays, and Lisa Eilbacher) fall prey to a slimy monster with an appetite for human flesh.

Directed by George P. Cosmatos (Rambo: First Blood Part II, Tombstone, and the underrated, Charlie Sheen B-flick The Shadow Conspiracy), Leviathan doesn’t completely succeed as a compelling narrative, even though the script was penned by David Peoples (Blade Runner, Unforgiven, Twelve Monkeys). The storyline has similar narrative beats to Ridley Scott’s classic Alien, and if you come to Leviathan with lowered expectations, the picture pays its share of creative dividends.

Peter Weller in 'Leviathan' (Shout! Factory)
Peter Weller in ‘Leviathan’ (Shout! Factory)

For one, character actors Crenna (as a morally compromised doctor), Hudson (playing the crew’s resident bad-ass), and Elizondo (he gets the John Hurt moment from Alien) each lend a sense of believability to the proceedings, and co-star Michael Carmine (the 30-year-old died in 1989) showed a rare, natural presence that escapes many actors. As the too cool for school alpha male, Weller’s Steven Beck isn’t a memorable protagonist, as Cosmatos paid more attention to the idiosyncratic behavior of Beck’s motley crew (which also includes a revved up Daniel Stern as an irritant named ‘Sixpack’).

Ernie Hudson, Hector Elizondo, Amanda Pays, Michael Carmine in 'Leviathan' (Shout! Factory)
Ernie Hudson, Hector Elizondo, Amanda Pays, Michael Carmine in ‘Leviathan’ (Shout! Factory)

Although Leviathan exists as passable fare, film buffs should check out three excellent interviews on the making of the film:

Leviathan – Monster Melting Pot (40:26) – Special effects vets Tom Woodruff Jr., Alec Gillis and Shannon Shea give a frank look at working with Stan Winston and director George P. Cosmatos on Leviathan. During the segment, Winston’s lifelong perfectionism and desire to craft creatures within a short time window are discussed (Shea also delves into the huge difficulties they encountered making the space suits for Leviathan).
*** There’s a ton of anecdotal material on this special featureand perhaps the most resonant came from Woodruff Jr.’s recollection of Winston’s generosity. When Woodruff Jr. left to form his own special effects company, Winston actually helped him land jobs for Tremors, Death Becomes Her, and Alien 3.

“(Stan Winston) wanted to see us to succeed as much as we wanted to succeed.” – Tom Woodruff Jr.

Dissecting Cobb With Hector Elizondo (12:36) – Hector Elizondo’s trademark dry humor is in full effect, as he talks about spending three months shooting Leviathan at Rome’s Cinecittà studios. During the interview, he discusses the challenges of wearing the space suit which led to Elizondo’s most dangerous moment on set. He also elaborates on the camaraderie that was on the set among the actors (he describes the late Crenna as a “zen master”).

Surviving Leviathan with Ernie Hudson (15:02) – Ernie Hudson delves into the sets that were created at the Cinecittà studios, and he also talks about shooting some of the water sequences in Malta (Hudson admits that’s not a natural swimmer). Even though he was hand-picked for the role, Hudson smiles during the interview as he remembers working with George P. Cosmatos (he died in 2005), a director he claims is the most “politically incorrect” filmmaker he’s ever worked with:

“(Cosmatos) would say things to people that was challenging, but I know it came from a good place and he meant well. He was a wonderful director who enjoyed what he was doing but it was sometimes very hard to interpret what he was saying and not take offense to it.”

Hudson adds that he has only “respect” and “love” for Cosmatos, a director who was known for his larger than life persona.

Leviathan - Shout! Factory
Leviathan – Shout! Factory

***Leviathan is now out on Blu-ray is available for purchase on Shout! Factory’s official site.





Jeff Beck’s ‘Live In Tokyo’ Hits Blu-ray & DVD In November

Jeff Beck - 'Live in Tokyo'

Jeff Beck’s musicianship and melodic skills place him at the top of the game, and fans of the guitar god can check out his recent journey to Japan . Live in Tokyo, which features the musician performing such tracks as “Stratus,” “Led Boots,” “Cause We Ended as Lovers,” “Big Block,” and “A Day in the Life,” comes out on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital formats on November 24.

The concert was filmed at Japan’s Tokyo Dome City Hall on April 9, 2014, and the event features Beck playing with his new backing band, which includes drummer Jonathan Joseph, guitarist Nicolas Meier, and bassist Rhonda Smith. Always bringing a unique spin on covers, I’m personally excited to see his version of Charles Mingus’ signature tune ‘Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.’

Live in Tokyo is being released by Eagle Rock Entertainment, which also put out the previous Beck titles Performing This Week . . . Live at Ronnie Scott’s and Rock ‘N’ Roll Party.

The track listing for Live In Tokyo:

  1. Loaded’
  2. ‘Little Wing’
  3. ‘You Know You Know’
  4. ‘Hammerhead’
  5. ‘Angel (Footsteps)’
  6. ‘Stratus’
  7. ‘Yemin’
  8. ‘Where Were You’
  9. ‘The Pump’
  10. Medley: ‘Goodbye Pork Pie Hat’ / ‘Brush With the Blues’
  11. ‘You Never Know’
  12. ‘Danny Boy’
  13. ‘Blue Wind’
  14. ‘Led Boots’
  15. ‘Corpus Christi’
  16. ‘Big Block’
  17. ‘A Day In The Life’
  18. ‘Rollin’ And Tumblin’
  19. ‘Cause We Ended As Lovers’
  20. ‘Why Give It Away’

To pre-order the Blu-ray for ‘Live in Tokyo,’ go to Amazon. The video for Beck’s performance of “Big Block” is below:

Vera Farmiga Talks “Spiritual Journey” Behind ‘The Judge’

Opening Friday, The Judge centers on a high powered lawyer (Robert Downey Jr.) who returns to his childhood home after his mother passes away. Reuniting with his family has its share of bitterness, as his strained relationship with his father (Robert Duvall), the town’s resident judge, is seemingly at the point of no return.

Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel) is Samantha, Hank’s (Downey Jr.) ex-girlfriend, an old friend who provides the lawyer with a temporary respite from his familial struggles (Vincent D’Onofrio and Jeremy Strong co-star as Hank’s brothers).

During The Judge press conference, Farmiga elaborated on how Sam provides Hank with a slight semblance of balance:

“I found Sam’s spiritual frequency really alluring in this sweaty Turkish bath of this really unsettled and frenetic (group) of males. She has a serenity to her spirit. Her heart is elastic – she’s like a rubber band until this guy comes and snaps it too hard.”

Click on the media bar below to hear Vera Farmiga discuss the “romantic investigation” behind The Judge:

Charlie Hunnam Takes “Final Ride” With ‘Sons of Anarchy’

The last season of Sons of Anarchy begins tonight on FX (10 pm et/pt), as Jax Teller’s (Charlie Hunnam) initial journey to live a life outside the motorcycle club has not been fulfilled. In its stead, Jax has risen to the head of SAMCRO while dispatching most of his enemies in the process. His success, however, has come at a weighty price (spoilers which I refuse to mention in this post).

During the interviews for Pacific Rim, Hunnam talked about why Sons of Anarchy has amassed such a loyal audience.

“For me, in this day and age where it’s kind of a big brother culture and it’s almost like we’re living in a police state – we get told what to do and how to do it every second of the day, these are a bunch of guys doing whatever the hell they want, whenever they want. To hell with the consequences, and I think that’s a real fantasy for people that are so contained by their lives and the society around them.”

To hear the full audio version Charlie Hunnam’s answer, click on the Soundcloud bar below:

Roots of Rock N’ Roll Exhibit Debuts at The Sunset Marquis

Amidst the busied streets of West Hollywood is the oasis known as the Sunset Marquis, and starting Friday, September 12 you can roll up to this tucked away hotel and check out The Roots of Rock and Roll – The Rise and Beginning of Rock and Roll.

Free to the public and located inside the hotel lobby, the Morrison Hotel Gallery will feature photos of such music icons as Elvis, Roy Orbison, James Brown, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Supremes, Muddy Waters and Duke Ellington. The photographers featured in this show include Morrison Hotel Gallery co-owner Timothy White, Al Satterwhite, Art Shay, Catherine McGann, Charles Trainer, and Curt Gunther.

Morrison Hotel Gallery

The exhibit covers the late 1950s through the early 1960s, when many of rock, blues, and jazz icons changed the hearts and minds of a generation. The Roots of Rock and Roll – The Rise and Beginning of Rock and Roll ends Sunday, September 21. For more info on the Morrison Hotel Gallery, please check out their official site.

John Coltrane - Credit: Joe Alper, 1965
John Coltrane – Credit: Joe Alper, 1965
Roy Orbison-The Odeon Theatre, Stockton on Tees, England 1964 by Ian Wright
Roy Orbison-The Odeon Theatre, Stockton on Tees, England 1964
by Ian Wright



Nicolas Cage Is ‘Left Behind’ With Flight Bound Trailer

LEFT BEHIND (Stoney Lake Entertainment)

Nicolas Cage stars in Left Behind, a film based on the bestselling 1995 novel of the same name. The story centers on pilot Ray Steele (Cage) whose jet plane is flying the skies when the Rapture takes place. Yahoo! Movies premiered the trailer today, and you’ll be able to check out the clip at the end of this post.

Nicolas Cage in Left Behind (Stoney Lake Entertainment)Whether or not you’re a huge fan of Cage, it’s hard to deny he’s starred in his share of classics (Raising Arizona, Leaving Las Vegas, Moonstruck, Adaptation). His body of work may seem all over the place (I love his ability to easily move from project to project), but there is a method to the madness. During the Joe press conference (it’s one of Cage’s finest performances, if you haven’t checked it out), he explained why, when it comes to choosing movie roles, he beats to the sound of his own drummer:

“If you look carefully at my filmography, in between my adventure films, there have been a Bad Lieutenantor a World Trade Center or a Lord of War or a Matchstick Men. I want to keep it eclectic. I see myself as a student. I would never consider myself as a master or a maestro and if you take the path of the student, that means you have to try a little bit of everything in the hopes that you’re going to learn something or strike some kind of new note or new sound or expression in the process. I’m not going for grades – I’m going for an education.”

To hear the full audio of Nicolas Cage talking about his acting process, check out the media bar below:

Left Behind, co-starring Chad Michael Murray and Cassi Thomson, opens October 3.

Brenton Thwaites Bonds With Babies on ‘The Giver’

Opening August 15, The Giver centers on a seemingly halcyon society where violence and crime has been erased. The citizens’ memories of their past have also vanished, however, and when a young prodigy named Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) discovers that the government is restricting the individual freedoms of its people, he goes on a quest to find a newer way to live. Jeff Bridges is the titular character, a sage mentor who teaches Jonas about how the beauties and horrors of humanity’s past.

Brenthon Thwaites in 'The Giver' (Weinstein Films)
Brenthon Thwaites in ‘The Giver’ (Weinstein Films)

For Thwaites, having a more relaxed yet inquisitive approach to acting was a lesson he learned (or maybe reaffirmed) from his work with Jeff Bridges. “I guess every movie has its uniqueness,” says Thwaites, who was recently seen in the first rate sci-fi feature The Signal. “That’s the wonderful thing about being an actor. . . every job is kind of a different thing. Every movie is its own wild beast that you have to kind of roll with it and do the best you can and try to enjoy it along the way.”

One of Thwaites’ more endearing aspects is his sense of humor, and during the press conference he was asked about working with the baby twins on The Giver. In his answer, Thwaites gave a ribbing to fellow Aussie Phillip Noyce, the stoic and talented director behind The Giver.

Click on the audio link to hear Thwaites joke around about his bond with the babies, with Noyce chiming in with a rather dry response.

Noyce’s impressive body of work includes Salt, Patriot Games, The Quiet American, and Catch a Fire. Along with The Giver and The Signal, Thwaites was also starred in Oculus and Maleficent.



‘2Dark’ Explores Retro Survival World With ‘Alone in the Dark’ Creator


The new studio Gloomywood have released a teaser trailer for their retro survival game 2Dark. Credit the developers for not holding back on the storyline, as gamers will play a father who must save his children and their friends from a serial killer. One of the Gloomywood developers behind the game is French designer and Alone in the Dark mastermind Frederick Raynal.

“With Alone in the Dark, I worked first on the game technology thinking of what it could bring to the game mechanics, and that’s what created the gameplay and set the track for story. I am rather confident to my methods,” said Raynal. “For 2Dark, I started tinkering by defining the graphical rendering I want. Now, as it was never done, I am creating the necessary tools…”

To read about Raynal’s development of the these tools, check out the studio’s blog. The team will be available at Gamescon from August-15 to answer questions about the game, which fellow Gloomywood member Thierry Platon describes as an “uncompromising” experience.


The teaser is intentionally creepy, and anything that involves the endangerment of children certainly ups the dramatic stakes. Check out the vid below and tell us what you think!

Brendan Gleeson On Trip To ‘Calvary’ & Acting Process

Now playing in select theaters, Calvary features Brendan Gleeson as Father James, a man of the cloth who is the target of one of the members of his parish. Father James has one week to get his life in order and find the person who wants him dead, and during his journey his resolve and faith strengthens his spirit.

Whether he’s playing Winston Churchill (Into the Storm) or a rueful hitman (In Bruges), Gleeson brings a hard earned sense of realism to his characters. “I can empathize with characters when I’m reading a script to the extent where I can feel impact, or I can feel the lack of it,” says Gleeson, who previously worked with McDonagh in The Guard. “It’s been an important thing in my arsenal. I’ve been able to distinguish pretty well on what’s a good script and what isn’t.”

Brendan Gleeson as “Father James” in CALVARY. Photo by Jonathon Hession.
Brendan Gleeson as “Father James” in CALVARY. Photo by Jonathon Hession.

Once Gleeson reads the script, an important element of building a character has already started. “You’ve already read the thing, in possibly kind of a voice in your head,” he adds. “That’s really the beginning of whatever the character is, and then you do what you need to.”

Click on the audio link below to hear Brendan Gleeson talk about his acting process and why mastering accents, as fellow actor John Hurt believes has to be part of one’s DNA (Gleeson also references his work as Winston Churchill in Into The Storm in the cilp).

Joseph Gordon-Levitt Loves Sin City’s Green Screen Universe

Joseph Gordon-Levitt enters Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s universe with Sin City: A Dame To Kill For. It’s a plum role for the actor, as he plays a can’t lose gambler who strides into Sin City with the sole purpose of embarrassing Senator Roark (Powers Boothe). Unfortunately for Johnny, Roark has the town on a string, and his powerful grip may be too much for our young hero to handle.

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For
Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (Weinstein Company)

To deliver an effective performance with Sin City’s black and white world, one must carry a great deal of imagination. Green screen is their basic canvas, but for Gordon-Levitt that wasn’t a huge problem. “I actually loved working in the green environment,” said the actor. “And just fully embracing an abandonment of realism.”

To hear Joseph Gordon-Levitt talk about the joys of working with Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller, click on the media bar below:

Will Johnny’s luck run out during his confrontation with Roark, or does he hit the revenge jackpot? Find out when Sin City: A Dame To Kill For hits theaters August 22.