31 August 2012

My Interview with Clint

Never Mind Pop Film has scored a major coup. Due to pure luck and circumstance, I was in the Tampa Bay area and able to score an interview with The Man with No Name himself, Clint Eastwood. The legend from such classics as High Plains Drifter, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Fistful of Dollars, Escape from Alcatraz, Dirty Harry, and Unforgiven. It was an incredible honor to sit down with the man and have a cinematic conversation. Below is the chat as transcribed.

Me: Thank you, sir, for taking the time out of your busy schedule promoting Trouble with the Curve to sit down with me. I cannot begin to express how lucky I feel right now.

CE: "--"

Well, let's get down to business, shall we? You had stated publicly that Gran Torino would be your last acting performance. What made you change your mind? Did you find semi-retirement too dull?

CE: "--"

Erm... speaking of acting, how did you enjoy working with Justin Timberlake? Were you tempted to cut a rug with him during one of the multiple scenes that takes place in the local bar? Karaoke perhaps?

CE: "--"

Another actor you hadn't worked with previously was John Goodman, who is witnessing a sort of career renaissance first-hand with roles in The Campaign, Paranorman, Argo, Inside Llewlyn Davis, Flight and Trouble with the Curve in 2012. Has he shared any of that experience with you?

CE: "--"

Heh. You weren't the one who told him to grow that mustache did you? When my friends and I watch Community we all wonder why he keeps sporting that. Did he lose a bet? I bet it was to Morgan Freeman, that guy is kind of weird when he's not playing God. Did he try to convince you to take the red pill? I brushed into him on the lot and he had a trench coat full of them.

CE: "--"

My apologies. That was a clearly inappropriate question.

CE: "--"

Look, I'm sure we can get around this faux pas, it's just that I've been going shopping with my girlfriend and we can't agree on the right furniture. The stress has been accumulating and I let it negatively affect this interview.

CE: "--"

I'm not quite sure why you're asking about my kitchen now. It's a grey-blue with wood cabinets. Why do you ask?

CE: "--"

I suppose I could have said that, yes, but who still gets coffee tables from IKEA?

CE: "--"

Well, there's no need to use that kind of language. I mean, really, a "jim-dandy"? That hurts. If I had known that you were such a big fan of IKEA I would have never brought it up.

CE: "--"

I completely understand, sir. This would be the best place to conclude. Thank you for your time, and, oh, don't forget to take the chair with you.

Review: Brother Knows Best (Lawless)

When times are increasingly desperate, men of violence rule. The Bondurant brothers are such men. Forrest (Tom Hardy) and Howard (Jason Clarke) are chief bootleggers in the wettest county in the union. Practically everyone in Franklin is on the take from the moonshine trade: sheriffs, owners, and church-going folk alike. From churches to nightclubs these outlaws go untouched. The boys are legend and believed to be immortal, worse, they believe the tales about themselves.

Jack (Shia LaBeouf) is the black sheep of this backwoods flock. He does not possess the size of his brothers, nor the brutality. When a spiffy, special agent from Chicago comes down to enforce a new law, the Bondurants are forced to make up for their brother's inefficiencies.

Brutality is not new to the Bondurants, but what Special Agent Rakes (a deranged Guy Pearce) presents is remarkable cruelty. He is a gloved poke right in the center of Forrest's chest. The Bondurants can be touched, he implies, and they can also bleed. Other outside elements like Mad Dog Floyd Banner (Gary Oldman) also pose a danger.

Nick Cave and John Hillcoat's previous collaboration, The Proposition, was a gripping and utterly violent film that saw a revisioning of the West. Lawless proves to be just as violent, but more poetic in its implementation. Shots of the South offer a spectacular canvas for showdowns between the perpetually mumbling Tom Hardy and the associates of Rakes. The legend of the Bondurants will be tested and their way of life may die in the process.

In many ways, Lawless presents a parallel to The Godfather. Three brothers vying to create a lasting legacy: the ambitious Jack, the loose-cannon that is Howard and the stoic guardian, Forrest. One of the faults with Lawless is that the corrupted soul at the center is not portrayed by Al Pacino, rather Shia LaBeouf. The faults that many see with LaBeouf's acting may actually be the arrogance and naivete of Jack. Does he have the strengths of Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce or an always excellent Jessica Chastain? No, but he is evolving past his turns in Transformers.

While the ambitions of Lawless don't always pay off, it is an admirable effort for John Hillcoat. The stumbles are few and more than made up for with the performances of Tom Hardy and Jessica Chastain. Their scenes together are a highlight of humor in a film that wouldn't be thought of as cheery.

Still, the real draw of Lawless is of course, the criminal element, when the adrenaline throttle is shifted into gear, the film is at its finest.


Will Smith Punches Ticket for Bible, Vampire Film

For hardcore fans of christian tales and vampires (the world's smallest venn diagram intersection) there is good news. Will Smith, former ambassador to alien invaders and Man in Black, will possibly direct a script by brother-in-law, Caleb Pinkett featuring the chronicles of Cain and Abel with a twist. He is reportedly also considering starring in other such concepts as: The Hangover with vampires, Hope Springs with vampires and a Jaws remake with Bruce Dern. Keep on rolling, Big Willie.

27 August 2012

My Favorite Scenes: Alien 3 (1992)

A much maligned opening, but a distinctly bold one as well. David Fincher's Alien 3 was a tonal shift from Aliens and this brief sequence conveys that immediately. The death of Newt and Hicks has angered many, most famously, Simon Pegg. Yes, Ripley did go through a lot to rescue the Aliens crew, but this film is going in a different direction and there is no cleaner break (and more effective way to set the mood) than to kill Newt and Hicks.

24 August 2012

Re-Release Review: Jaws

Thirty-seven years ago a film about a small, resort town shock the entire world. Jaws grossed nearly five hundred million dollars worldwide at the time of its release. Its impact has been a lasting one to say in the least. Numerous directors, actors, writers and critics site it as one of the best films in history.

Out-of-town sheriff, Martin Brody, (Roy Scheider) is spending his first summer in Amity. He has seen everything during his tenure in New York: murder, robberies, vandalism, you name it, but he has never seen anything like a shark attack. His instincts push him toward closing the beach after a teenage girl is killed, but the Mayor is uneasy, Amity depends on summer revenue. Against his wishes, Brody keeps the beach open and soon the beast attacks again, taking the life of another child.

Brody bucks the local leadership and enlists the aid of Oceanographer Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) to find this shark. He doesn't disappoint: Hooper identifies the shark as a Great White. Suddenly, Captain Quint's (Robert Shaw) offer to kill the shark for $10,000 seems much more reasonable. Brody, Hooper and Quint set sail aiming to kill the shark that has plagued the town.

The plot itself may seem simplistic, but the reason Jaws is still so effective is because it captures an on elementary fear, a terror that resonates on a basic and primal level. The moment that most encapsulates that dread is Quint's monologue about the U.S.S. Indianapolis. Why this scenes works so perfectly in the film is also the reason why Steven Spielberg is considered a master of his art.

While these three men from all different walks of life compare scars in a competition of one-upmanship, Robert Shaw dials his performance up and delivers one of the better scenes of cinema. Quint, written off by most of Amity's residents as crazed, has a reason to his madness. Whatever scars Hooper or Brody have cannot compare to the haunting memory Quint shares with the audience.

"Sometimes that shark he looks right into ya. Right into your eyes. And, you know, the thing about a shark... he's got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be living... until he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then... ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin'. The ocean turns red, and despite all the poundin' and the hollerin', they all come in and they... rip you to pieces. You know by the end of that first dawn, lost a hundred men. I don't know how many sharks, maybe a thousand. I know how many men, they averaged six an hour."

The way Spielberg cuts from the bravado of drunken men and reveals insight into true horror. As far as man has advanced, even into the age of nuclear weapons, when man is descended into water, there is a creature more dominant than us. There is no weapon that can beat it back, or keep it at bay. Advantages given to man by way of history prove useless. In these moments of Jaws fear is all-encompassing. "Bruce", the name given to the mechanical creature that is accompanied by John William's famous score, represents an existential scare: we all will die, it is unavoidable.

That sentiment separates Spielberg's film from the rest of the horror genre. The scares are not brief; they are lasting. For this reason Jaws will never cease to be a mainstay of the pop culture consciousness. For that reason it is a classic.

Directors Pick The Greatest Films Ever

Update: BFI has added several top-name directors top ten list to the fray. Edgar Wright, Guillermo Del Toro and Bong Joon-ho.

When it comes to excellent films and ranking them, who better to ask than some of the most highly regarded directors of all-time? Sight and Sound has created a great deal of controversy recently by leaving off such films as Casablanca and The Godfather off of their top-ten of all-time list. To add some perspective on the issue are titans of the film industry like Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, and Francis Ford Coppola.

Edgar Wright
"2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968, Stanley Kubrick)
"An American Werewolf in London" (1981, John Landis)
"Carrie" (1976, Brian de Palma)
"Dames" (1934, Busby Berkeley)
"Don't Look Now" (1973, Nicolas Roeg)
"Duck Soup" (1933, Leo McCarey)
"Psycho" (1960, Alfred Hitchcock)
"Raising Arizona" (1987, Coen Bros.)
"Taxi Driver" (1976, Martin Scorsese)
"The Wild Bunch" (1969, Sam Peckinpah)

Guillermo Del Toro
"" (1963, Federico Fellini)
"La Belle et la Bete" (1946, Jean Cocteau)
"Frankenstein" (1931, James Whale)
"Freaks" (1932, Tod Browning)
"Goodfellas" (1990, Martin Scorsese)
"Greed" (1925, Erich von Stroheim)
"Los Olvidados" (1950, Luis Bunel)
"Modern Times" (1936, Charles Chaplin)
"Nosferatu" (1922, F.W. Murnau)
"Shadow of a Doubt" (1943, Alfred Hitchcock)

Andrew Dominik
"Apocalypse Now" (1979, Francis Ford Coppola)
"Badlands" (1973, Terrence Malick)
"Barry Lyndon" (1975, Stanley Kubrick)
"Blue Velvet" (1986, David Lynch)
"Marnie" (1964, Alfred Hitchcock)
"Mulholland Dr." (2003, David Lynch)
"The Night of the Hunter" (1955, Charles Laughton)
"Raging Bull" (1980, Martin Scorsese)
"Sunset Boulevard" (1950, Billy Wilder)
"The Tenant" (1976, Roman Polanski)

Bong Joon-ho

"A City of Sadness" (1989, Hsiao-bsein Hou)
"Cure" (1998, Kurosawa Kiyoshi)
"Fargo" (1995, Coen Bros.)
"The Housemaid" (1960, Kim Ki-young)
"Psycho" (1960, Alfred Hitchcock)
"Raging Bull" (1980, Martin Scorsese)
"Touch of Evil" (1958, Orson Welles)
"Vengeance Is Mine" (1979, Imamura Shohei)
"The Wages of Fear" (1953, Henri Georgers Clouzot)
"Zodiac" (2007, David Fincher)

Martin Scorsese
“8 1/2″ (1963, Federico Fellini)
“2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968, Stanley Kubrick)
“Ashes And Diamonds” (1958, Andrzej Wajda)
“Citizen Kane” (1941, Orson Welles)
“The Leopard” (1963, Luchino Visconti)
“Paisan” (1946, Roberto Rossellini)
“The Red Shoes” (1948, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger)
“The River” (1951, Jean Renoir)
“Salvatore Giuliano” (1962, Francesco Rosi)
“The Searchers” (1956, John Ford)
“Ugetsu Monogatari” (1953, Kenji Mizoguchi)
“Vertigo” (1958, Alfred Hitchcock)

Woody Allen
“Bicycle Thieves” (1948, Vittorio De Sica)
“The Seventh Seal” (1957, Ingmar Bergman)
“Citizen Kane” (1941, Orson Welles
“Amarcord” (1973, Federico Fellini
“8 1/2″ (1963, Federico Fellini)
“The 400 Blows” (1959, Francois Truffaut)
“Rashomon” (1950, Akira Kurosawa)
“La Grande Illusion” (1937, Jean Renoir)
“The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie” (1972, Luis Bunuel)
“Paths Of Glory” (1957, Stanley Kubrick)

Francis Ford Coppola
“Ashes And Diamonds” (1958, Andrzej Wajda)
“The Best Years Of Our Lives” (1946, William Wyler)
“I Vitteloni” (1953, Federico Fellini)
“The Bad Sleep Well (1960, Akira Kurosawa)
“Yojimbo” (1961, Akira Kurosawa)
“Singin’ In The Rain (1952, Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly)
“The King Of Comedy” (1983, Martin Scorsese)
“Raging Bull” (1980, Martin Scorsese)
“The Apartment” (1960s, Billy Wilder)
“Sunrise” (1927, F.W. Murnau)

Quentin Tarantino
“The Good, The Bad & The Ugly” (1966, Sergio Leone)
“Apocalypse Now” (1979, Francis Ford Coppola)
“The Bad News Bears” (1976, Michael Ritchie)
“Carrie” (1976, Brian DePalma)
“Dazed And Confused” (1993, Richard Linklater)
“The Great Escape” (1963, John Sturges)
“His Girl Friday” (1940, Howard Hawks)
“Jaws” (1975, Steven Spielberg)
“Pretty Maids All In A Row (1971, Roger Vadim)
“Rolling Thunder” (1977, John Flynn)
“Sorcerer” (1977, William Friedkin)
“Taxi Driver” (1976, Martin Scorsese)

Michael Mann
“Apocalypse Now” (1979, Francis Ford Coppola)
“Battleship Potemkin” (1925, Sergei Eisenstein)
“Citizen Kane” (1941, Orson Welles)
“Avatar” (2009, James Cameron)
“Dr. Strangelove” (1964, Stanley Kubrick)
“Biutiful” (2010, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu)
“My Darling Clementine” (1946, John Ford)
“The Passion Of Joan Of Arc” (1928, Carl Theodor Dreyer)
“Raging Bull” (1980, Martin Scorsese)
“The Wild Bunch” (1969, Sam Peckinpah)

23 August 2012

Essential Performances of the 90s: Jeff Bridges

Andrew over at Encore Entertainment is currently hosting a tourney for the best performances of the 90s. In recognizing some of the best portrayals of the time, Jeff Bridges' stoned, bowling aficionado had to make the list.

The Dude is a mosaic of hazy memories, recollected facts and ninety-seven cent milk. If Bridges breezes through a character like this, everyone will sense a note of insincerity. Instead, Bridges roots himself in the terrycloth robe and Ray Ban shades. Any actor that could take a character thatfor the most partdoes nothing but bowl and get high, and make him compelling? That’s art, man.

Comedies are rarely appreciated in what they accomplish, even less so the actors in the films. So won't you head on over to Andrew's blog and reward a man for a great performance?

22 August 2012

'Lincoln' Poster Is as Stoic as the Man

In case anyone forgot, Steven Spielberg is making a very serious movie about a serious president in a serious time. If "for your consideration" were slapped on there now, Dreamworks could save costs on ads in Variety later. In all seriousness, Daniel Day-Lewis resemblance to the deceased is remarkable. One of the major question marks I had going into production of this was Day-Lewis' ability to look like the man. No questions about that now.

15 August 2012

'Seven Psychopaths' Reunites Farrell with McDonagh

Such eccentricities, such violence, such a twisted sense of humor. Gotta love Martin McDonagh. This time Colin Farrell plays a screenwriter who, with a little help from his friends, finds himself entangled in the criminal underworld thanks to a dog. Yeah, it's from the guy who made In Bruges, go figure.

11 August 2012

Review: Take the Money and Run (The Campaign)

The Democratic process has thrived for the United States for a long time. The gloss of years passed and the legacy of our fore fathers helping preserve those ideals. That image of the American political system in action has been immortalized on film by such depictions as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and The American President.

Enter 2012. The legacy is still present, but audiences have turned the channel to the latest sex-scandal.

Three-term Representative Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) has all the makings of a political superstar: the hair, the family, the hair... it really is that impressive. His popularity is so unprecedented that he has no opponent in the upcoming election. All he has to do is sit on his laurels and he's re-elected. That's it. In the course of sitting out, Brady leaves a message on a stranger's answering machine and fouls all of that up. Still, even with Brady's declining poll numbers, no one will bite.

This frustrates the Motch Brothers (John Lithgow and Dan Ackroyd reveling in dirty deeds) considerably. They, along with their billions, need a man willing to front their legislation and they may have found it in local Marty Huggins (Zach Galifinakis). His stature is that of a Hobbit, his facial hair is unbecoming a politician and his speech-making could use work. With their wealth, the Motches can turn Marty into the slick and polished Representative that Durham votes for.

Will Ferrell and Zach Galifinakis are often bemoaned for just turning in funny voices, but the screentime allotted to the two men allows Cam Brady and Marty Huggins to adapt to living characters instead of one-off jokes. Before these two go to war against each other, we have to half respect them, otherwise everything devolves into a mess of An American Carol proportions.

There are few directors around who can cast Will Ferrell in a vehicle and manage to still find a message in the shenanigans that occur and Jay Roach is apparently one of those directors. Whether one should congratulate Mr. Roach on his accomplishment depends entirely on their political views.

Ferrell and Galifinakis take no prisoners as all participants in the political arena are taken hostage for laughs time and time again. How much one audience member may enjoy The Campaign relies on they're familiarity with Citizens United. Support Political Action Committees? You may want to revisit this one later.

Despite the politics of the movie and its sledgehammer subtlety, this is not a biting satire, rather, a product of two comedians willing to make fools of themselves. As such, it comes with the endorsement of some of the heartiest laughs had in a while.


09 August 2012

First Official 'Lincoln' Image

One can't help but think that Daniel Day-Lewis is considering which shelf to place his next Best Actor Oscar on. Either that, or Mr. Lewis has mastered the art of acting whilst asleep.

Lincoln opens November 16, 2012.

(Courtesy: EW)

06 August 2012

Second 'Master' Poster Dazzling

No two things look similar to any one person and this new poster for Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master seems to be playing on that. Controversial figures, in particular, are most divisive. However Anderson's film is received (and it has been receiving high praise as of late from 70mm screenings) this will be one of the hottest film topics come Winter.