// May 24, 2011 by sgwhites
Morgan Spurlock is joining Current TV to count down "50 Docs to See Before You Die," taking a look at some of the modern documentary era's most influential and provocative films.
The five-part special will premiere on Aug. 1, and 10 films will be counted down in each hourlong episode on the way to naming the ultimate documentary you need to see before you die.
Modern docs have ranged from films examining politics and issues facing our society to those that explore a subculture or part of the natural world we don't normally see.
What documentaries have changed your world? Which films do you think are a must-see before you die?
// May 19, 2011 by jennifervineyard
War doesn't end on the front lines if you're from the slums. The Iraq War vets coming home in the independent film, "Cost of a Soul," have new battles to face when they try to slip back into their interrupted lives. For Tommy Donahue (played by Chris Kerson), the only job he can get is as a hitman for a North Philadelphia crime lord -- essentially performing the same service he did overseas. Kerson talks about what it was like to take on his troubled character in record time.
Q: You shot this film in 16 days?
A: My part was 16 days, but I think the whole film was 18-19 days, and these were 12-16 hour days! So basically, on average, we were doing two takes a scene, and seven pages a day. We had to sprint.
Q: That had to be tough, considering the emotions your character Tommy goes through...
And I was cast three weeks before filming. If you got a bigger actor, like Daniel Day-Lewis, you'd get six months to prepare for a role like this. I gained 25 pounds training with the Marines, kickboxing, trying to get the physicality of the role, because [director] Sean Kirkpatrick said, "I need you to get bigger." I went to Philly, I spent a lot of time with blue-collar guys from that area, to get the dialect right. Mark Borkowski [who plays Jake] is from Kensington Avenue, so he had it down. But I was constantly listening, like a hawk. I became this guy. The physicality and the dialect are important, but they're not everything. I was also concerned about his emotional life, but that was the easy part for me. I trained with Charlie Laughton, who is Al Pacino's mentor, and he worked with me for free. Being an actor is like being an emotional athlete. You have to train.
Q: Did it help to have an actress [Judy Jerome] play your wife with whom you'd acted before? She's played your lover in two plays, so you'd already developed that connection with her...
A: Judy, we're good friends. She was cast two weeks after me, so we had one week to get it running. But I told Sean, "You made my job easy now. It's easy to believe she could be my wife."
Q: Why do you think Tommy abandons his wife?
A: When I was talking to Sean, that was a lot of our phone conversations, what's the psychology here? His father was a criminal, his mother was killed in front of him when he was 5, and he has no sense of how to have a family. He hasn't had a good upbringing. So when she gets pregnant, what does he do? He joins the Marines, and he says, "I'll come back to you at some point." And he just keeps going, because the idea of being a parent is so negative to him. He becomes a machine because he's trying to block that whole side of his life out, and he becomes homicidal and suicidal.
Q: But seeing his physically impaired daughter Hope changes that. What was working with Maddie Jones like?
A: That child was the reason I wanted to do the film. When I read the script, they originally wanted me for Jake, but Tommy is an incredible role. I thought, "I got to do this." Because you see the light side of Tommy with his daughter. And amazingly enough, we got a girl who actually has cerebral palsy to play her. She looks like she's 6, but she's 9. I said to her, "You're the most important character in the film to me." She is one of the most intelligent little kids, and we became like best friends very quickly. I loved her so much.
"Cost of a Soul" is out Friday, May 20, in select AMC theaters. Visit the movie's official site for details.
// May 04, 2011 by danielacapistrano
”Hobo with a Shotgun” -- a fake trailer seen in the Canadian version of 2007's “Grindhouse” turned into a feature film -- is the gory, dystopian tale of a homeless man (played by “Blade Runner” icon Rutger Hauer) who finds himself the sole voice of reason in a town ruled by a madman and his sinister sons. The Hobo takes law and order into his own hands the only way he can think to -- with a shotgun.
Current's Daniela Capistrano spoke to Rutger Hauer about playing the Hobo, violence in the media, his upcoming projects, and what it was really like to kill William Sanderson in “Blade Runner.”
Daniela: I saw “Hobo with a Shotgun” at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and was both entertained and blown away by your stoic portrayal of the Hobo. How did you get into character?
Rugter: How did I get into character... I had Dave Brunt. He was the guy they based the story on, so I was able to talk to him, look at him, pick his brain. And the director, Jason [Eisener], had other good ideas [but] they didn’t all fit, so I couldn’t make it happen. He wanted me to be louder, but I couldn’t -- I lost my voice in two days from screaming so much... [It’s] funny, because I left stage acting for that very reason -- after too many performances I would lose my voice.
So after two days of shooting, I had to sit down with Jason and say, “I cannot do this for you.” The thing is, screaming in movies -- you cannot fake it. And I’ve always hated being too big. Jason wanted me to be grotesque big but to play it straight, and [for me] to be that big felt like a lie. It didn’t feel quite right, so I had to battle him on it and we found a better ground. We [looked] for a softer side of the character. [Beyond that] there wasn’t much to the character than the ideas that Dave Brunt had, so I made it my own.
Jason also recorded an interview where [Dave] comes up with the idea of bears and territory [which we used in a scene]. But the movie is not about Dave or Crazy Town. It’s about everybody else right now, it’s just taken to an extreme and more grotesque form.
D: The film is very violent but also touches on some profound themes like creating your own reality and evolving identities, such as how the Hobo is always telling Abby (Molly Dunsworth) that she is a teacher.
R: [The film] is going to piss a lot people off, but I don’t know.... Can we not be violent? What do you mean? I [see] all the [TV] programs and the interviewers, and all the same questions go round and round. “Oh the violence, we live in such a violent world.” The violence, to me, that we give them, even at our best, is baby food compared to what we live in.
What is this factor inside people's heads that you can’t see the beauty in the worst violence, in a movie? I think that the [real] "Hobo" people who watch will have no problems in realizing they are watching a movie and at the same time being pulled in. Everything is shrunk in this movie, the most limited edition of what it is. It’s saying, here’s the American Dream now, give me a couple feet of grass and a lawnmower and I’ll be a citizen, and I guess it’s also saying, “You’re in the wrong town, pal!”
D: I don’t want to spoil the film, but the ending is pretty intense.
R: We had to fight for that ending. We were trying to find a better way to end the movie, the way it always should have ended. Now it makes perfect sense.
D: You’ll be playing the Van Helsing character in Dario Argento's “Dracula 3D.” How does it feel to be in remake of this scale?
R: I think that “Bram Stroker’s Dracula” is really marvelous, and that is what this film is based on. I have a strong feeling that it might be really interesting to see what 3D does for it. This is my first experience with 3D, and it will be [almost like] research. I’ll have to think two cameras -- that’s all I know for now. My sense of it is that the wings of Dracula will be bigger and more scary. That goes for [the entire] piece as well -- that’s all I can say for now.
D: Before you go, I have to ask about your experience working with William Sanderson on “Blade Runner,” as he has a starring role as James in our new series “Bar Karma.”
R: I always felt that [Sanderson’s character] Sebastian appears -- he is such a possum of a man, so completely screwed over by his older skin. It’s his first layer of humanity where we all go, “Ahh, we’re getting old.” It’s so sad and sweet and primal in a way.
He was so gentle and what hurt me most was that in the first days of shooting it was decided we would not shoot the [Sebastian’s death] scene the way it was originally written, with the real Maker at the top of pyramid. In the script it was written that I killed the so-called Maker, but then found out he drops to the floor like a doll and we see wires and find out he’s just a clever toy.
In the original script, Roy goes up to Sebastian, and says, “Get me to the real Maker,” and Sebastian takes me to the top floor, and the real Maker is there in a big chunk of ice, frozen. And that would have been the secret -- that the Maker was dead for years. When Roy was born, the Maker died but here’s Roy trying to get more life from the Maker. It would have been a moment for Roy, who would have felt that fuse burn inside, saying, “OK, end game now.” That scene would have said that this was his last dance for life.
This whole idea of your father [in the film], your real father, it always moved me and made my skin crawl. When I found out we weren’t going to shoot that scene and were instead going to indicate that Roy killed Sebastian... in my mind, a warrior like Roy would never kill anyone he didn’t need to. He loved everybody. People are there to be loved, not to be killed, so I felt really bad in the first few days of shooting when that decision came from the higher gods. But many of those decisions were mistakes, and it made the film what is... but working with Sanderson was sweet. The whole scene with him and Pris (Daryl Hannah), when she tries to seduce him, is so funny, sweet and pathetic... talk about how you catch a fish slowly and see it struggle, that was Daryl. She was so good, funny!
”Hobo with a Shotgun” hits theaters Friday, and is available On Demand. Check your local listings for show times and the official website.
// April 29, 2011 by chanelleberlin
The critics were wrong. In 1989, several film critics and scholars criticized Spike Lee and his film "Do The Right Thing" for glorifying rage in black citizens, in Brooklyn, and some feared that mass viewership of the film might incite violence in neighborhoods across the United States. Twenty-two years later, Bedford-Stuyvesant may still be considered one of the most volatile communities in New York, but the neighborhood continues on, not routinely plagued by summer rioters that name Spike Lee as their leader.
"The African-American moviegoing audience is intelligent. They understand what's happening on the screen," Spike Lee tells Henry Louis Gates Jr., editor in chief of The Root, in a 2009 retrospective. For critics to warn audiences about anything different back in the late '80s has always struck him as completely condescending.click here to continue reading
“Having the chance to do that kind of film, it was nice to have that chance,” Reeves told Current. “[Director] Kathryn Bigelow gave me my shot.”
Imagine how different the film would have been had Matthew Broderick or Johnny Depp (who were both considered) gotten the role of Johnny Utah. Instead, Reeves, fresh off "Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure," got the part of the rookie FBI agent, alongside Gary Busey and Patrick Swayze (“His support, and his life, he was inspiring,” Reeves said).
Their final scene together was originally shot with a more traditional ending – but was changed after testing with audiences and reshoot six months later. Both Swayze and Reeves had gone off to other projects and had changed their hairstyles -- Swayze had cut his for "City of Joy," Reeves had grown his out for the "Bill & Ted's" sequel. Luckily, it worked for the story, since Swayze's character had been in hiding, and Reeves' character had become disillusioned. Plus, it helped to show time had passed. After searching for him around the world for a year, Johnny finds Bodhi in Bells Beach, Australia, considers arresting him, but lets him go (again!).
“They wanted to complete a circle,” Reeves said. “It’s supposed to be Australia, and where did we shoot that? Northern Oregon. Patrick and I have this great ocean fight scene in the water, and I think it was 52 degrees, you know? And rain machines – good old fashioned movie making! Rain machines, cheaper location, cold water, new ending… ‘Vaya con dios. Vaya con dios.’”
When Bodhi realizes he’s surrounded, he tries to convince Johnny to release him for one last wave. “Look at it,” he pleads, referring to the monster swell behind him (actually the break from Waimea Bay in Hawaii's North Shore, not the mythical 50 Year Storm). “It’s an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, man. Just let me go out there. Let me get one wave before you take me. One wave. Where am I going to go, man? Cliffs on both sides. I’m not going to paddle to New Zealand!” (Especially not from Oregon). “My whole life has been about this moment, Johnny. Come on, compadre. Come on!”
Johnny uncuffs him, and Bodhi paddles away. When he’s chided that he let him go, Johnny says, “No, I didn’t,” as Bodhi wipes out, disappearing into the waves. It might be the first case of suicide-by-surf on film.
“I had so much fun making that film,” Reeves said. “Hopefully people still enjoy it.”
Reese Witherspoon is the star attraction in "Water for Elephants" -- as Marlena, the former orphan transformed into circus act. She's married to the owner/operator of a traveling circus (played by Christoph Waltz), who treats her as well as he does the animals, which is to say, not that well. So when Robert Pattinson comes along to play vet, it's no wonder the two start to fall for each other. Witherspoon talks about joining the circus, getting atop an elephant and loving her curves.
Q: Do you think this film, even though it's old-fashioned, has something to say about contemporary times?
A: It's sad to call it old-fashioned, because that's like it's the last of a dying art. I wish it were something we can preserve, because they don't make movies like this anymore, with all the costumes, and animals -- those were real lions running in the bleachers. The costumes are authentic. My hair style is modeled after Jean Harlow. Every frame had to look like it was really the 1930s. It was the Depression and people were looking for entertainment for a reprieve from drudgery.
Q: So it's a reprieve itself, as well as a reminder.
The stock market had crashed. There were no jobs. And people were hungry. Those characters were struggling to survive. And the movie is about second chances, how you can be trapped in a circumstance and someday, someone comes along and throws you a rope. My character has no way out. She has no education, no opportunities and she's in a volatile relationship. And here Jacob is trying to get her to leave, and she has to make a decision, to jump out of her life and into his.
Q: To play Marlena, you had to do her act...
A: I trained for five months to learn those routines! Because she rides several horses and has mastery over them. I had to do a lot of work with horses and elephants. I had made this conscious effort to not end up in a bathing suit in so many of my films, and here I am in a leotard! [Laughs] Which was horrifying, but the costumes are beautiful. It was a different time, when women loved their curves, and I think the ones we used in the film were flattering for women.
Q: Robert Pattinson said he fell in love with Tai, the elephant who plays Rosie...
A: Tai's my favorite co-star! She's quiet. She's always on time. She was so intelligent and so intuitive. It was a bit scary doing an act with her at first, and I fell off a few times. I was crawling all over her ears and trunk and she was never startled by that. She was like, "Come on, lady, get back up here!" It's amazing, too, because she had to perform and convey emotion, like stay calm if people were screaming.
Q: And there was a lot of screaming...
A: You've got one of the greatest circus disasters of all time -- albeit a fictional one -- but it's still full of peril and danger. But I like the quiet moments too, with the nonverbal communication. I thought the parts where we see each other from a distance but don't speak, that was told beautifully in that capacity.
Robert Pattinson has run away to join the circus -- at least, his character in "Water for Elephants," has. A student of veterinary science at Cornell, Jacob Jankowski discovers his parents have died and left him penniless, so he runs off before final exams and jumps a train -- which turns out to be carrying a traveling circus, the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show. His talents meet their needs (even if he lies and says he's completed his degree, which he hasn't). And as he gets to know their crew, he starts falling for their star act, Marlena (played by Reese Witherspoon), who is married to their owner/operator, August (played by Christoph Waltz). Pattinson talks about his own love affair, his underwear, and what he sticks all over his body.
Q: Jacob lies to get the job -- have you ever lied to get a part?
A: Sure! In England, we have this spotlight form, what talents do you have, what accents can you do, and I just ticked off the boxes saying I was capable of everything. Every skill, every accent, I can do it. I can do a Lithuanian accent fluently! [Laughs]
Q: Was that to get cast as Cedric Diggory in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire"?
A: I guess I did that when I was leaving school, when I was just starting to realize I wanted to be an actor, even though I had finished three movies.
Q: One of which, "Vanity Fair," had you playing Reese's son, and here you're her lover. Which was your bigger love affair, Marlena, or Rosie the elephant?
A: [Laughs] I felt like I had some of connection with Tai [who plays Rosie], but maybe that was because I was feeding her jelly beans all the time. People thought she was flirting with me. I think our relationship was based purely on candy. I'd stick mints on my body, like on my arms, or my chest, so she was constantly sniffing me, and I'd go, "I don't know, she just likes me! It's crazy!" [Laughs] I pretty much decided to do the movie when I met Tai. I hadn't even read the script. I don't think I'd ever seen an elephant up close in the flesh before. I walked around the corner where she lives with five other elephants and the trainer, and he told them to sit, the same way you'd tell a dog, and I saw the whole pack just sit down, like they're puppies -- but they're like mountains! I think that was the only time I was scared around her! Most of the time, she just generates an aura of calm. It was one of the most incredible experiences. So if nothing else, I got to work with Tai for three months...
Q: And so it was easy to understand Jacob's feelings...
A: For him, if he's around an elephant, nothing else matters. And when he sees Marlena, it's like she's the same way. She's this one girl who looks impossibly glamourous in this impossibly filthy environment, with piles of manure everywhere. Me, I don't mind the manure. I wasn't grossed out at all. I just accept it as part of the world. But Jacob, he's a romantic, and his imagination runs away with him, and the more he gets to know Marlena, the more it reinforces his opinion. So not only is she beautiful, but he feels connected to her, because she shares his bond with the animals. And that never ends, throughout his entire life, which is the sweet thing about it.
Q: How did you get yourself to feel like you were in a different time period?
A: All the trailers were on one side of the railroad tracks, and the set on another, so once you walked over the tracks, the only thing from modern times was the camera. There was nothing else around, except an orchard. And on set, the production designer was using authentic ropes, everything. And the underpants from that time period helped, too! [Laughs] I wore them every day.
Call it a Super Sell-Out -- Morgan Spurlock, the director of "Super Size Me," tackles the subject of product placement and integrated marketing in entertainment in his latest documentary by making the film about the process of getting sponsors to make the film. A little too meta for you? Don't worry, Spurlock breaks it down into easy-to-follow, humorous segments -- including his own versions of commercials for sponsors such as Hyatt, Mane 'n Tail, and Pom Wonderful, which paid a million for the film to include its brand in the title, hence "Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold." By doing so, Spurlock uses his own product placement to unveil the inner workings of brand messaging, and opens it up for debate -- with Ralph Nader, Noam Chomsky, J.J. Abrams, Brett Ratner, and Quentin Tarantino among those chiming in. Spurlock tells us how it all went down, but we have to wonder -- do interviews about the film count as further product placement? As we see here, yes.
Q: We see a lot of the arrangements to get sponsors on camera, but what didn’t we see?
A: Tons of phone calls. We called 600 companies and we got 22 sponsors. When we were first making phone calls, there were a lot of people who felt an obligation to meet me, talk to me, only to tell me they weren’t interested, which was a massive waste of time. It would have been nicer if they just said, “We’re not going to do this,” upfront. They were wondering, “How is this going to be good for us?” The key was that they had to be willing to give up control, and people don’t want to do that. They want to control every frame. But the 22 companies – 15 in the movie – that came aboard said, “We believe in this. We like this idea. We don’t know if we can trust you,” but gave me control anyway.
Q: There’s no mention in the film about how your title sponsor, Pom Wonderful, is being charged by the Federal Trade Commission with making false health claims, in regards to preventing or treating heart disease, prostate cancer, erectile dysfunction…
A: We were in post-production when that hit the trades. And there’s a great question to ask there – is that why they signed on to sponsor this movie? Did they know this was going to happen? Maybe. There’s a distinct possibility there.
Q: Especially when you consider how they turned down your proposed Pom commercial, where you’d have an erection! Or maybe they just don't like erections…
A: That could be it, too! [Laughs]
Q: By pitching these commercial ideas, though, you’re going above and beyond. Filmmakers don't usually propose to put an outright commercial in their films to get funding, or do they?
A: We wanted to do more than the average bear, especially for the title sponsor. Part of the benefit of being a sponsor is being in the film, and part of it is beyond the film. The benefits for them would when I’m talking about the film and going out into the world – staying in Hyatt Hotels, which become the greatest hotel, “Oh, I flew here on Jet Blue,” which becomes the greatest airline, “I’m here talking to you in a Ted Baker suit,” which becomes the greatest suit. Then they understand how it bleeds into the promotion.
Q: Did you just drop some product placement in this interview?
A: I just dropped three of them! [Laughs]
Q: Some of the promises or pitches you make, for instance, telling Ban that you’ll offer Ban deodorant to interview subjects, we don’t see the follow-through in the movie…
A: You can see the Ban on the table with Quentin Tarantino. I offered it to him before the interview started, but you just don’t see that. We offered it to about 10 or 15 of the interview subjects. And most people just laughed.
Q: Some of the sponsors didn’t pay. Mane 'n Tail shampoo, for instance…
A: Who doesn’t like Mane 'n Tail? It’s a shampoo for you and your horse. Just throwing that out there. For the sponsors that didn’t pay, we were explicit in making sure it was clear that they didn’t pay to be in the movie. No one questions that. Carrera didn’t pay. Seventh Generation didn’t pay. Amy’s Pizza didn’t pay. But they came to the table with co-promotions. There’s hard money, and soft money. There’s social media. Amy’s Pizza is putting stickers on 200,000-300,000 pizza boxes. It’s that kind of thing that makes this an event.
Q: But no fast food sponsors…
A: I tried! [Laughs] You can’t have a doc-buster without a fast-food meal, a Happy Meal, but McDonald’s didn’t call me back. No surprise there. I called In-N-Out, and I was like, “Come on, think how cool this will be,” and they said, “We don’t normally do this,” and I said, “That’s what makes it so great! You guys could do an Unhappy Meal, or a Slightly Displeased Meal. We could talk about how there’s good, healthy food inside.” I was so bummed. But they don’t do meals, they don’t do toys. I guess they thought those were kids things, but I don’t think a kid would be going for that anyway. It’s more of an adult kitschy thing. I wanted collector’s cups, but Circle K said no, 7-Eleven said no, and we went all the way down the list, until Sheetz said yes, during the interview.
Q: Same for OK Go – they said yes during the interview? But that’s a little more work, doing a theme song…
A: It’s real work. They had to go do something, not just write a check. Although some of my sponsors would disagree, since cross-promotion can be work. Originally OK Go said no, they wouldn’t have time, because it was over Christmas. But I wanted to talk to them anyway about music marketing, and so we met on December 15, and then they said yes. They came back from the break, recorded the song on January 3, sent us a master, I made some comments, they remixed it, and they got it to us on January 11 – just in time for Sundance. We laid it right in, and that was the last thing we did for the film.
Q: Now that you’ve had this experience, would you go through it again for your next film? Obviously off-camera. More to the point, do you think product placement works?
A: It depends on the movie. Perhaps not for another documentary, although for this documentary, it made sense. But it does work in bigger movies, all the tie-ins, for the Michael Bays of the world. But would this create excitement about a smaller movie? It’s a real experiment. That’s what I’m excited to see, if it does work. For somebody making a $300,000 movie, and they get a sponsor saying, “Sure, I’ll give you $10,000 if you put these paper towels in the back of the shot,” that $10,000 can go a long way. If it’s about making a great movie, and not making a commercial, great -- I want to see a great movie, not a Toyota commercial.
Q: Not even a Hyatt commercial like the one you do in the film?
A: [Laughs] Oh, that’s different. Everyone should stay at a Hyatt! [Laughs]
"I'm so hungry I could eat the ass end out of a dead rhino”? Improv.
“They vanish… like a virgin on prom night.” Improv.
“We were doing the scene in the FBI office,” Busey said, “and I had said it in rehearsal as a joke, and Keanu [Reeves] just came back at me with this Cheshire cat grin. There’s a bunch of lines I did like that, like adding 'squid brain,' but the improv I like the most in the movie is what Anthony Kiedis did, by shooting himself in the foot. That was a heck of an improv.”
Busey’s FBI agent Pappas had been pretending to search for his dog to gain entry to a house where some suspect surfers (including Kiedis) are hiding out. As the surfer gang realizes FBI agents are outside, they panic and start pulling out the guns, shooting at the agents, and in Kiedis' case, himself.
“Shooting that scene was never dull,” Busey said. “You never knew what it was going to come out like. There are a lot of great things in that scene. You’ve got the fight outside with the lawnmower, and the fight inside, with 10 or 11 people fighting at once. I loved the passion of it.”
The fight starts when Pappas shoves himself into a woman (played by Kimberly Martin) who had answered the door in her black thong, saying, “FBI, gorgeous!” He later has to shoot past her when she’s used as a body shield.
“That was fun,” Busey said. “I talked to her about it beforehand, so she knew I respected her. I asked, ‘Do you have brothers or sisters?’ ‘What did you want to be when you were 10?’ Those kinds of milestones help you know the way your world is, the way you see the world. And I made it up to her afterwards. How? I’ll leave that up to your imagination!”
Busey also loves the improv fight moves that happen when that scene is recreated on stage in “Point Break Live!” (where an audience member gets to play Johnny Utah). “They all have red water in their mouths so they can spit it out like blood,” he said. “And they got me in one of the performances. They gave me a gun so I could shoot everybody, and I went crazy! It was an amazing experience.”
// April 19, 2011 by jennifervineyard
Christoph Waltz makes a charming villain -- his Oscar-winning Colonel Hans Landa of the SS in "Inglorious Basterds," his Russian mobster Bloodnofsky in "The Green Hornet," his upcoming Cardinal Richelieu in "The Three Musketeers," and his latest, circus owner August Rosenbluth in "Water for Elephants". You wouldn't expect an actor like him to be willingly typecast himself, so what's the method behind his madness? Waltz gives some insight on the steps he takes.
// April 18, 2011 by jennifervineyard
Given that there have been four directors for the eight "Harry Potter" films (Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuarón, Mike Newell, and David Yates), who among the filmmakers has given the series any consistency? That task fell upon producers David Heyman and David Barron. Heyman, by the way, was the one who first bought the film rights from J.K. Rowling and discovered Daniel Radcliffe. Do the two Davids have mixed feelings over the series concluding with "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" Part 1 (out this week on DVD) and Part 2 (out in theaters July 15)? Is Harry the Chosen One?
// April 16, 2011 by jennifervineyard
Of all the Weasleys running around, there are none more beloved than the twins Fred and George -- played by real life twins James and Oliver Phelps. The two brothers left Hogwarts in a bang in one film only to reinvent themselves as magic joke shop proprietors in the next. By the time "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" comes around, the Weasley twins are up to their ears in action sequences -- which is where the Phelps like to be.
In times of economic crisis, people want to be diverted by over-the-top entertainment, or so the theory goes. This would explain why traveling circuses and other spectacles were popular during the Great Depression, and why movies are still big business in the current recession. "Water for Elephants," as you might have guessed, takes place during the Depression, and involves a circus -- in which Reese Witherspoon is the star act, Robert Pattinson is the vet, and Christoph Waltz is the owner/operator. Director Francis Lawrence ("I Am Legend," "Constantine," the Britney Spears video "Circus," among others) explains what attracts him to the big-top, and how he got his actors to fall in love.
Luna Lovegood is one of the quirkest, most beloved characters in the "Harry Potter" series - probably more so because the of the perfect casting of Evanna Lynch, who seems to actually be Luna in real life. When last we see Luna in "Deathly Hallows" Part 1 (out on DVD April 15), she's escaping Malfoy Manor and helping eulogize Dobby, and when we catch up with her again in Part 2 (out in theaters July 15), she's fighting in the Battle of Hogwarts. Lynch talks about growing up, mourning Snape, and what happens to Luna after the series ends.
When we last see Harry Potter in Part 1 of "The Deathly Hallows" (out on DVD April 15), he's just escaped imprisonment at Malfoy Manor, along with the goblin Griphook (played by Warwick Davis, who also plays Professor Filius Flitwick). Having Griphook on his side is going to pay off big time -- because what do the goblins control? That's right -- Gringotts Wizarding Bank. If Harry's going to continue his search for the Horcruxes, he's going to need to know how to break in -- and how to get around the dragon that guards it. Davis talks about why it's fun to play a goblin, and what's in store for the bank break-in scene in Part 2 (out in theaters July 15).
// April 14, 2011 by jennifervineyard
Bill and Fleur aren't the only newlyweds in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" -- there's another happy couple in the Order of the Phoenix with some news of their own. Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks, played by David Thewlis and Natalia Tena, have a baby on the way, something that's only hinted at in Part 1 (out on DVD April 15). Come Part 2 (out in theaters July 15), there's some hard decisions that the couple has to make, especially when it comes to the final battle. Thewlis and Tena reveal what was cut out of the first half, which they hope is developed in the second.
Michael Gambon and Robbie Coltrane Talk -- and Sing! -- 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' Parts 1 & 2// April 13, 2011 by jennifervineyard
Harry Potter's biggest supporters (at least when it comes to size) are Dumbledore and the giant Hagrid -- played by Michael Gambon and Robbie Coltrane, respectively. Taking advantage of the oversized chairs in Hagrid's Hut at the Harry Potter Exhibition in Times Square, recently, the two actors caught up with each other as well as other members of the Order of the Phoenix and Harry's surrogate family -- and in between, tried not to spill too many secrets about "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" Part 1 (out on DVD April 15) and Part 2 (out in theaters July 15).
// April 13, 2011 by jennifervineyard
Everyone knows the story about the actor John Wilkes Booth assassinating Abraham Lincoln, but what about the story behind that? Robert Redford's latest directorial effort "The Conspirator" tells the tale of the seven men and one woman who were charged with conspiring to kill not only Lincoln, but also the Vice President and Secretary of State, all in the same night, and the resulting trial of that one woman, Mary Surratt (played by Robin Wright). James McAvoy plays the reluctant lawyer, Frederick Aiken, who despite his misgivings, has to come up with a defense for a client he -- like everyone else -- assumes is guilty, and in so doing, starts to realize she may be innocent after all. McAvoy talks about the political message of the movie, what historical backdrops are good for, and what "Braveheart" got wrong.
// April 12, 2011 by jennifervineyard
You don't often get Mark Williams and Helen McCrory on the same side -- their characters, Arthur Weasley and Narcissa Malfoy, are from two wizarding families that despise each other in the Harry Potter series. The Malfoys, who consider themselves pureblood, look down on the Weasleys for being poor and Muggle-friendly, at least at the beginning. But as the series progresses, complete with WWII analogies, their positions in society radically shift, culminating in a final battle for good and evil. Can the once-dark Malfoys find any redemption? Will the Weasleys have their revenge? Williams and McCrory reveal what they can about "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" Part 1 (out on DVD April 15) and Part 2 (in theaters July 15).
// April 12, 2011 by jennifervineyard
Vera Farmiga is known for her serious roles, but she finally gets to show off her comedic timing in "Henry's Crime." Playing Julie, she's a diva actress in Buffalo playing the lead in a local production of Chekov's "The Cherry Orchard," and since her theater is next to a bank that is about to be robbed by Henry (played by Keanu Reeves), she has quite a few run-ins with him -- especially when his scheme requires him to take a part in her play. Naturally, the two fall for each other. Farmiga talks about the parallels between "Henry's Crime" and the play-within-the-movie, and the passion she shared with Reeves on set.