Trailer Dreams: Enemies Closer Doesn’t Give A Van Damme!!

Enemies CloserJean-Claude Van Damme experienced a career up tick with the 2012 release The Expendables 2, and know he’s reunited with filmmaker Peter Hyams (Timecop, Sudden Death, The Relic) with Enemies Closer.

The narrative centers on a forest ranger and former Navy SEAL (Tom Everett Scott) who’s targeted by a vengeful stranger (Orlando Brown). Their date with destiny is placed on hold, as they must band together to fight a group of drug runners bent on finding their cargo.

I audibly laughed when the words “He’s locked and loaded, he’s out of his mind, and he doesn’t give a Van Damme” flashed across the screen.

The “muscles from Brussels” looks crazy as a fox in the trailer, and the hair stylist behind Van Damme’s coiffure deserves tons of credit for its over the top flair.

Check out the trailer below, and feel free to comment below. Enemies Closer comes out January 24 in select theaters and On Demand. I’m a huge fan of the Van Damme/Hyams hockey action flick Sudden Death, so I’ll definitely be giving this film a shot.

Jane Lynch Is Ready For Round Two of ‘Hollywood Game Night’

Hollywood Game NightThe second season of Hollywood Game Night begins tonight (NBC, 8 pm et/pt), as Jane Lynch (Glee) hosts another series of party games featuring an array of celebrities. On the show, two contestants hang out with various stars and compete for a shot to win up to $25,000. Considering the state of our economy, a bit of festivity, along with the promise of cash, isn’t such a bad thing.

“I think it’s how much fun everybody has,” says Lynch when asked about the show’s appeal. “We all love watching people have fun, and it’s also participatory. People are playing at home and screaming the answers out and thinking they could do better. I would love to see everybody (laughs) be on this game with the eyes of America watching you. It’s always a different thing. It’s (also) fun to watch people you admire on television and watch how they might be at a party.”

As the interview ended, the always accommodating entertainer gave her thoughts on why comedic actors have an innate ability to excel at drama.

“I think that when you’re in touch with the humor and the irony, (and) you’re in touch with the dark and the light,” says Lynch. “You’re in touch with the essence of being human.

To hear Lynch give her insights of the beauty of being in touch with one’s comedic spirit, click on the Soundcloud bar below:

Emotionally Bracing ‘Gimme Shelter’ Finds Its Family With Kathy DiFiore

Gimme ShelterOne of the beauties of Italian neorealism is its dedication at using non-actors in telling an immersive narrative. Crafted by such directors as Roberto Rossellini (Rome, Open City) and Vittorio De Sica (The Bicycle Thief), it’s a genre that still echoes today, most notably in director Ronald Krauss’ inspired (and at times heartbreaking drama) Gimme Shelter.

In her most nuanced and challenging performance to date, Vanessa Hudgens is Apple Bailey, a pregnant teenage runaway who tracks down her birth father (an understated Brendan Fraser) in an attempt to seek a bit of refuge. With an abusive, drug addicted mother (Rosario Dawson) as her main parental figure, Apple’s life has been nothing short of a nightmare, but thanks to her determination and flourishing friendship with an extended family, things gradually change for the better.

The feature is inspired by Kathy DiFiore, who has made it her life work at running Several Sources Shelters. Mr. Krauss spent a year living in a shelter to initially direct a documentary, but instead decided to pen a screenplay based on his experience with the various women he met during his stay.

“When you see ‘based on a true story’ in a lot of films, usually those are recounting a story from years ago, ” says Krauss. “(With Gimme Shelter) it was evolving around me as I was writing the screenplay. There was a limit because the abuse that these girls really go through, I couldn’t put that in the movie.”

Gimme ShelterA harrowing sequence of the film features Apple’s mom ready to attack her with a razor blade sticking out of her mouth. “The razor blade (scene) – that really happened to this young girl named Darlisha (Darlisha Dozier, who co-stars in the feature),” added Krauss. “They told me things that were so hard and I felt so much for these girls and their lives. The courage of (them) to come out and open up – it’s hard. They trusted me to do a good job and tell their story and their story to help others, so that other people can see this film and get inspired to reach out to people.”

To hear Kathy DiFiore talk about the joy behind making Several Sources Shelters her life work, click on the SoundCloud bar below:

Gimme Shelter opens January 24. To hear Rosario Dawson talk about her role in the film, check out the previous post, which also contains Gimme Shelter’s official trailer.

Blu-ray Dreaming: The Family Reunites Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro

TheFamily It’s great to see director Luc Besson, whose credits include La Femme Nikita and The Fifth Element, trying his hand at mob comedy with The Family. Starring Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Tommy Lee Jones, the feature is now out on Blu-ray. If you love Besson’s trademark mixture of comedy and action, this flick doesn’t disappoint.

De Niro is Giovanni Manzoni, an ex-mobster who’s forced to relocate his family to Normandy, France due to the witness protection program. Lee Jones is the FBI agent who oversees their transition, with former Glee star Dianna Agron and promising newcomer John D’Leo starring as the patriarch’s kids. Pfeiffer, who never truly got the chance to work with De Niro on the features Stardust and New Year’s Eve, plays Giovanni’s tough as nails wife. While doing promotion for The Family, Pfeiffer talked to Hollywood Outbreak about how the movie’s similarities to one of her most popular films (Married To The Mob):

Along with the easy and amiable chemistry displayed by the film’s principals, The Family’s biggest asset is its visual look. Besson once again works with top notch cinematographer Thierry Arbogast, and even though cinema has mainly been supplanted with digital filmmaking, the pair decided to shoot most of the film on 35mm with Kodak cameras. 

The special features include the trailer as well as a quick, humorous segment that spotlights the vulgarity used in The Family.

THE FAMILY (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment)

The Family featurette, though just 10 minutes, covers a ton of ground. Besson’s work with the actors is seen throughout the segment, which also features quick interviews with the movie’s principles.

A few facts/insights featured on the featurette include:

  • Besson was initially set to serve as the movie’s producer and screenwriter, but when assembling the A-list cast, the temptation to direct was much too strong, so he relented.
  • Michelle Pfeiffer’s role was expanded once she landed the part.
  • Footage of co-stars D’Leo and Agron meeting for the first time is also in the segment, and D’Leo initially thought Agron was part of the movie’s crew members, and not her co-star.
  • Pfeiffer talks about working with Tommy Lee Jones: “He’s so funny and so unusual. When he first meets you, he will star ate you for like five minutes with this penetrating gaze. you’re kind of like ‘what are you doing, Tommy?”

 The Family (136 minutes, R, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment) is now out on DVD and as a Blu-ray Combo Pack (the featurette, as well as the DVD, are among the extras contained the pack).

Critics’ Choice Awards Presenters Announced

The Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, which takes place on Thursday, will be hosted by Aisha Tyler and air on the CW Network (8 pm et/pt). The scheduled list of presenters include Jensen Ackles, Christina Applegate, Kristen Bell, Jessica Chastain, Don Cheadle, Bill Hader, Jonah Hill, Sir Ben Kingsley, Nia Long, Kellan Lutz, James Marsden, Jared Padalecki, Margot Robbie, Julia Roberts, Ian Somerhalder, Isaiah Washington, and Marlon Wayans.

Forest Whitaker will receive the Joel Siegel Award, and Oprah Winfrey will present the honor to her fellow castmate from Lee Daniels’ The Butler. The Broadcast Film Critics Association will also honor Before Midnight collaborators Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater with the LOUIS XIII Genius Award for their work on the Before trilogy. The award spotlights visionaries and performers who have achieved “an unprecedented demonstration of excellence in the cinematic arts.”

As a fellow BFCA member, I encourage movie buffs to watch the show. I haven’t gone to the awards show for several years due to my hermetic nature, but the program is definitely a fun watch. One of my favorite performances from last year was given by Blue Jasmine lead Cate Blanchett, and she’s one of the many stars expected to attend the event.

Chris Pine Has “MacGyver” Moment During Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Chris Pine follows in the footsteps of Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck as the titular agent in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Taking on iconic roles isn’t foreign to Pine, who continued his journey as Captain James Tiberius Kirk in last year’s Star Trek Into Darkness.

With this latest installment, Mr. Ryan is getting his feet wet in the CIA, as he gets entangled in a battle of wills against a vengeful Russian terrorist (Kenneth Branagh, who also directs). Kevin Costner, who was initially offered the role of Ryan for The Hunt for Red October, plays Ryan’s mentor and father figure, and their subtle chemistry is one of the feature’s main strengths.

Although the picture ends with an epic action moment, the most viscerally engaging sequence occurs during a hotel room showdown between Pine and co-star Nonso Anozie (from TV’s Dracula). “I like the fact that Jack, as much as he had training in the Marines, isn’t a trained killing professional,” says Pine. “It was kind of a MacGyver moment of trying to figure out how to defeat the large bad guy when you’re not quite as big or you’re not quite as ferocious.”

Click on the Soundcloud audio below to hear Chris Pine talk about doing the hand to hand combat sequence with Anozie. He also talks about riding a motorcycle sans a helmet in New York during another stunt sequences in the film.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit opens nationwide January 17.

Harry Connick Jr. On American Idol’s Longevity: “It’s The Best Of Its Kind”

Harry Connick Jr.

Harry Connick Jr. is a crooner, jazz man, actor, and as seen from his previous work on American Idol, a candid and hands on mentor.

With Jennifer Lopez returning to the fold and Keith Urban back for another go round, American Idol is expected to regain its mojo.

The continued tension between Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey turned off many American Idol enthusiasts, and last season’s finale drew an all time low 14.3 million. But the chemistry should dramatically improve this season.

“Just to be able to have a dialogue of music and entertainment and business is so stimulating to me,” said Connick during Monday’s TCA panels. “I just love it. And American Idol – it’s the best of its kind. The reason it has the track record that it does is because of the formula and the people that are involved this year.”

“The way they presented the opportunity to me of being a judge  – I was just so happy that it worked out because we are really having a good time. And there’s some great talent this year.

In the audio featured below, Harry Connick Jr. talks about the importance of having a musical education and he also gives his thoughts on having “passion” for one’s craft.

American Idol has its season premiere Wednesday on FOX at 8 pm et/pt.

 

‘Salem’ Sets Series Witching Hour For April Debut

Jerod Harris/Getty Images for WGN America

With the glut of television series and films bandied about during this month’s Television Critics Association Tour, it’s hard not to look at new projects with an over critical eye. Salem, however, is definitely on my radar thanks to its intriguing trailer and the talented roster behind the project (Janet Montgomery and Shane West headline the show).  The 17th century set series is WGN America’s first original drama, so as far as expectations go, co-creators Brannon Braga and Adam Simon are definitely shouldering a huge load.

Continue reading “‘Salem’ Sets Series Witching Hour For April Debut”

Composer Alan Silvestri Connects With Chattanooga International Film Music Fest

Alan Silvestri, one of cinema’s most prolific composers, will serve as a special guest for the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera at the 2014 Chattanooga International Film Music Festival. The fest, which runs February 28 through March 2, offers a weekend of seminars with George S. Clinton (the fest’s artistic director) and Sundance Film Music Program director Peter Golub.

The fest will feature a screening of Back to the Future, and Silvestri will be on hand to talk about composing the Robert Zemeckis directed feature (Silvestri scored the entire BTF trilogy). “Hooray for Hollywood,” one of the concerts featured in the fest, will offer up Clinton’s Austin Powers suite as well as Silvestri’s Back to the Future suite. 

“The first orchestra I ever heard was the Chattanooga Symphony,” said Clinton, whose credits include the Emmy winning Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee and Tooth Fairy. “To be back in my hometown as an adult, collaborating with this wonderful orchestra, performing my music – well it doesn’t get much better than that.”

During his career, Silvestri has composed over 80 scores, with Forrest Gump, The Avengers, and most recently Red 2 as just a sampling of his resume (his score from Contact is a personal favorite.

Registration is currently open, and for more info, check out the following the fest’s official site.

 

CES 2014 Gets Haptic With A “Sinister” PC Device

Sinister (Tivitas Interactive)

PC enthusiasts who need a new feel to their gaming will probably check out Tivitas Interactive’s Sinister haptic gaming device at CES 2014. The item, powered by ViviTouch technology, offers players a solid gamepad experience coupled with the pinpoint accuracy of a mouse. That’s a pretty tall order, but kudos if it can balance the joys, along with the individual comforts of both PC and console gaming.

Developed by Tivitas Interactive, the device is also promising “fully-customizable, adjustable ergonomic support” and “true analog movement.” Since my wrists and hands are pretty much shot from years of typing and gaming, anything which attaches itself to the word “ergonomic” is a friend of mine.

As for the controls, they look like something Tron would don during a night out on the grid, so that’s kind of awesome.

You can check out Sinister today (January 7) at the Wynn Hotel Lafite Ballroom from 6 pm – 9 pm. For added info, check out www.tivitas.com.