|By Erin Maxwell|
|Review by Lily Fierro|
|Seriously, I’m pretty sure her breasts will fall out |
if she so much as looks too hard at that apple.
The Painting, a horror-comedy that celebrates the Grand Guignol style of filmmaking makes its World Premiere, March 21st at the 12th Annual Garden State Film Festival.
The third feature film from Award-winning indie writer/director Robert Rothbard (Pizza With Bullets - Best Screenplay - Action on Film International Film Festival; Best Director - Syracuse Film Festival; Platinum Remy - Best Comedy – WorldFest Houston), and artist/first time writer-producer Sally Lamb, The Painting stars Robert Homer Mollohan, recently seen in Jason Momoa’s Road to Paloma (“Game of Thrones” and Batman v Superman) and Wolves by David Hayter (X-Men, X-Men 2).
The dilemma facing Edward Alfonso Lexington (Mollohan), a spoiled, pretentious, talent-less “artiste” and son of a world renowned deceased artist is…what is one to do when they don’t have the talent to follow in their famous father’s footsteps? Edward will stop at nothing to be as famous as his father, as he lures unsuspecting artists to his home to paint, then signs his name to their art, and afterwards, makes them disappear - one at a time. But he may have met his match when he crosses paths with an artist/voodoo Queen, who has her own plan in mind for Edward.
The Grand Guignol was a theatre in the Pigalle area of Paris from 1897 until its closing in 1962. It specialized in naturalistic horror shows. Its name is often used as a general term for graphic horror entertainment. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Sweeney Todd, Freaks and the films of acclaimed Italian director Dario Argento are generally considered to be Grand Guignol style films.
The Garden State Film Festival (GSFF) was born in 2002 after a chance encounter in a Sea Girt, New Jersey grocery store by film industry veteran Diane Raver and late actor Robert Pastorelli. The Festival premiered in 2003 and was immediately deemed a huge success. Since that time, industry notables such as Glenn Close, James Gandolfini, Budd Schulberg, Bruce Springsteen, Diane Ladd and others have lent their support.
GSFF provides a wide range of outreach and educational programs throughout the entire year. The prestigious event is held in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
After the jump, check out the trailer for The Painting.
|Interview Conducted by Todd Sokolove at SXSW '14|
|20th Century Fox / Released 2/17/15|
Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance is a black comedy from co-writer/director Alejandro G. Inarritu that tells the story of an actor (Michael Keaton) - famous for portraying an iconic superhero - as he struggles to mount a Broadway play as he faces harsh critics, a deranged alter ego, his estranged daughter (Emma Stone) and a difficult stage star (Edward Norton). Also starring Naomi Watts and Zach Galifianakis. Extras include conversation between Keaton and Inarritu, a gallery and featurette.
Last Word: Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s very meta introspective black comedy Birdman is about an actor (Michael Keaton) – famous for portraying an iconic superhero – as he struggles to mount a Broadway play.
What this film really is a a study of life, love, friendship, ego, insanity, family and loss. It is also one of the best movies I have seen in the last 10 years. Birdman triumphs at getting to the root of what what it means to be human through analyzing the downfalls of celebrity and what it means to live forever in the public consciousness. Riggan Thomson (Keaton) is a washed up former blockbuster movie star who once starred in one of the biggest comic book movie franchises of all time, Birdman. Sound familiar? Well it should.
Birdman is Michael Keaton. Michael Keaton IS Birdman.
Keaton’s seems to be delving deep into his own experiences of being the first screen Dark Knight and his subsequent walking away from a role that almost consumed him. His flaws are his greatest strength, both as the character and as an actor. No one else could have sold this role more than him. Both for the obvious reasons of his turn as Batman but also, Keaton is so beautiful at the crazy over-the-top however unlike so many of his fellow comedic actors, his subtleness and quiet do not get lost in the frenzy. He takes his time and is patient and loving to the sensitive. If for no other reason, you should go see this movie to watch stellar acting from a sometimes underrated master of his craft.
Keaton is not alone in this film and his supporting cast is not so much supporting but also the stars of this film as well and deserve equal accolades. I really wish there was an academy Award for Best Ensemble Cast because sometimes a films cast isn’t so much a bunch of actors but a homogenous entity breathing life into an already phenomenal piece.
Naomi Watts, who is Lesley, is an up and coming actress who is making her Broadway debut in Riggan’s play and this is the beginning and the end of everything she holds to be important in her life. It’s success and/or failure, in her mind, parallels her own. Everything she is, is counting on this play being a hit. That is why, when they lose one of their actors to a freak accident, she risks everything to recommend her sometimes, outrageous but talented boyfriend, Mike (Edward Norton) to take the role. Even though she knows it may be more trouble than it’s worth.
Norton’s portrayal as Mike Shiner, the very difficult to work with “actor/artist” is sublime. The casting here for everyone is crucial and not done lightly. As Norton is known to be in real life, Shiner is in the movie. Known to be a loose cannon and to outbursts of crazy, Shiner is hired because his reputation as one of the theater’s greatest actors of his generation is guaranteed to bring in audiences and brilliant reviews. Immediately Riggan and Mike butt heads on creativity and intent.
Zach Galifianakis, is a bit of role reversal, plays probably the most sane character in the film. As Riggan’s friend, lawyer, and producer of the play, Jake basically spends the entire film just trying to hold the production together and afloat amidst actor clashes, law suits, mental breakdowns and money issues. He is subtle and the exact opposite of his usual zany portrayals we are used to seeing him in.
Emma Stone is brilliant as Riggan’s ex-junkie daughter, just out of rehab and getting her life back together. Her presence in Riggan’s life and in this film symbolize the redemption and forgiveness sought by everyone for past transgressions both from others and from ourselves.
Rounding out the cast are the phenomenal Lindsay Duncan as cold hearted theater reviewer, Tabitha. Amy Ryan as Riggan’s caring ex-wife, Sylvia. Andrea Riseborough is amazing as Laura, Riggan’s lover and co-star in the play.
Aside from the acting and story, two other aspects that truly make this a fantastic film are the music and the cinematography. Both are crucial and hinge on each other to work. The first thing you will notice is the soundtrack. Not only does it set the mood of the film, it also dictates the pace of the film. The Mexican drummer Antonio Sanchez, one of the best in the world, sets the tone and rhythm as we journey with Riggan through his self-discovery, defeat and reflection of self. After the music, and along with the music you will note that there is something different about the “cutting” and shooting of this film. There are not “cuts” Through the use of Stedicam and hand-held cameras, this film is seamlessly tied together, digitally, into one continuous shot. From beginning to end, there isn’t a visible edit throughout. This has the effect of not only making the camera, the location of the theater and New York itself, a character of the film. It is also used, in conjunction with the erratic and skillful drumbeat music, to heighten the manic insanity that Riggan reaches even that much more erratic and makes the subsequent crescendo that much more intense. (– Benn Robbins)
|Warner Bros. / Released 2/24/15|
Nick, Dale and Kurt decide to become their own bosses by launching a business. After a slick investor deceives them, they hatch a misguided plan to get their company back. Extras include featurettes and alternate one-liners.
Last Word: Hollywood returns to the well once again for another sequel that questions it’s own existence. Thankfully, the familiar television and movie stars making up the ensemble cast do have their moments, and Horrible Bosses 2 isn’t a complete waste of time. Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day reprise their roles as Nick, Kurt and Dale and become their own bosses unleashing a new product "The Shower Buddy" onto the world. Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Spacey return as well, along with mastermind “Motherfucker” Jones — Jamie Foxx.
Added this time around are the father/son team of leading man Chris Pine and Basterd Chrisopher Waltz.
If you like to tune out here’s a movie for you, with some funny moments, but the spark isn’t as bright as the original concept or the director Sean Ander’s last effort behind the camera, Adam Sandler’s That’s My Boy.
Nick, Kurt and Dale start their own company with some startup funding from Bert Hanson (Waltz). When Hanson cancels his order for the units of “The Shower Buddy”, the company goes under and the the boys go after kidnapping Hanson’s son Rex (Pine) for the ransom money. As a side note, the blueprints for the “The Shower Buddy” look like the Starship Enterprise, with shampoo and conditioner as the engines to the shower head hull. Well played, Easter Egg hunters!
Bateman and Day play much the same characters they do on Arrested Development and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and as you may have guessed there is not much of a stretch from We’re The Millers for Sudeikis. This is all fine, as you can tell from the outtake credit scenes for both of the Bosses movies, the team works together for getting the laughs. Bateman’s hilarious straight man has worked for him since the Bluth days, Charlie Day is still coming into his own, and we can see from these past movies that Jason Sudeikis would be an obvious choice to take the Fletch Won prequel job.
Antagonists from the first film, Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Aniston add some good color to the movie, but Spacey is just barely there, being imprisoned from his actions in the first movie. If anyone sighed over his appearance in this film, I would have imagined it was Spacey, last seen on my screen this year as the serious Southerner Frank Underwood in House of Cards.
Aniston (Dr. Julia Harris, D.D.S.) fits better with the boys in the ensemble comedic cast. Her sex addiction has gotten worse, but at least she is seeking the help of a 12-step sex addict group. She moves her attention away from Dale (Day) and to Nick (Bateman) this time around and has some of the best lines in the picture. On top of that, she continues to look stunning in both her dentist outfits as well as her S&M getups! Truly, Aniston is having a comedic renaissance with Bosses and We’re the Millers.
Starfleet Captain Chris Pine is the frosted tipped rich son of Waltz, and — spoiler warning — ends up being the big bad when he gets in on his own kidnapping, making everything worse for Nick, Kurt and Dale.
Horrible Bosses 2 is all about the star power driving a mediocre plot and another third act car chase scene. Foxx’s Jones, a sort of criminal ‘advisor’ has some moments with the guys sprinkled throughout the movie, but like Spacey was only contracted to get people to buy tickets to the thing.
The guys are funny, Aniston is funny, just don’t overthink it or think this movie compares to your memories of the first installment. They can probably stop here. (– Clay N Ferno)
|HBO / Released 2/17/15|
In this thrilling fourth season based on George R.R. Martin's bestselling books, the Lannisters' control over the Iron Throne remains intact, but can they survive their own egos as well as the ongoing threats around them? While an unshaken Stannis Baratheon continues to rebuild his army on Dragonstone, a more immediate danger comes from the south, as Oberyn Martell, the Lannister-loathing "Red Viper of Dorne," arrives at King's Landing to attend Joffrey's wedding. At the Wall, the Night's Watch seems overmatched against Mance Rayder's advancing army of wildlings, which in turn is being trailed by an even more formidable foe. What's more, Daenerys Targaryen, accompanied by her fierce trio of dragons and an Unsullied army, is poised to 'liberate' Meereen, the largest Slaver City in the east, which could provide her with an imposing force to execute her ultimate plan of reclaiming the Iron Throne for her family. Extras include commentaries, round table discussion, blooper reel, deleted scenes, interviews and featurettes.
Last Word: Many would have thought they could exhale after the brutal Red Wedding of season three, however, as Westeros trudges to what seems the end of the war without the Starks, we are reunited and introduced to characters that continue to do what Game of Thrones does best – shock us.
The Lannisters still own King’s Landing, although without the Northern army threatening the crown the lion’s hold of the Iron Throne somehow seems looser than ever. With the Tyrell’s maneuvering their way into the royal blood lines, and the introduction of Oberyn Martell – known as the Red Viper of Dorne – our favorite family from Casterly Rock has more than enough to worry about. Across the Narrow Sea the Khaleesi continues to liberate and rule Slaver’s Bay, although there isn’t much of the Mother of Dragons halfway through this season. It is absolutely delightful that Jon Snow is reunited with his brothers in black back at Castle Black, and the battle for The Wall storyline proves to be the best part of the first five episodes. Dispersed in between these three hotspots are the wonderful storyline of Arya and The Hound, a return to The Vale of Arryn along with Littlefinger, and the cringe-worthy Bolton house trying to put their stamp on the North.
The Lannisters, which have been the bread and butter of the series, continue to be as dysfunctional as ever. There isn’t the happiest of reunions between Jaime and his family members, especially his sister. Without his sword hand the Kingslayer finds life a bit without meaning at first, but continues to serve as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. Charles Dance’s acting as Tywin Lannister is absolutely perfect, as we can see how each of his children came to be the people they are. There isn’t as much Tyrion as previous seasons, but when Peter Dinklage is on screen he sets it on fire. It is safe to say the Royal Wedding doesn’t go as planned, and Westeros is better off for it, but it will be interesting to see how the show copes.
The feeling of the rest of Westeros is quite grim, as it should be with the departure of Robb and Catelyn Stark. Winter is indeed coming as the scenery is gray, wet and moody. This doesn’t do The Hound any favors as his quest to get Arya to her Aunt Lysa involves stealing, drinking and swearing – I suppose that isn’t far off from the character we saw protecting Joffrey in King’s Landing. The images from the regions north of the capital are quite gruesome, but if you’ve gotten this far then you know what to expect from this HBO gem.
Unfortunately, one of the downfalls of this season is there seems to be too many filler scenes. It is to be expected a bit after the murder of the aforementioned Starks, but the show hasn’t completely recovered, even if viewers have. For example, there is a long and drawn out scene involving a White Walker that seems quite foolish. One of the best parts of Thrones is its ability to make us believe in this world. The show runners have never relied on the fantasy and magic element to enthrall us. If you’re watching for the dragons or the Red Woman’s fire magic, then you’re not watching for the right reasons. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss go a little overboard this season with the fantasy, but like previous seasons, it seems they are saving up for a big penultimate episode to wow us again.
Despite the stutters mentioned above, season four of Game of Thrones is still phenomenal. The politics and drunk on power characters are as entangled as ever and one can only expect all Hell to break loose by the finale. While not as strong as season one or two, this campaign seems to be doing its job so far – setting up the next one. (– Nate Davis)
|Sony / Released 2/24/15|
Andrew Neyman is an ambitious young jazz drummer, single-minded in his pursuit to rise to the top of his elite east coast music conservatory. Plagued by the failed writing career of his father, Andrew hungers day and night to become one of the greats. Terence Fletcher, an instructor equally known for his teaching talents as for his terrifying methods, leads the top jazz ensemble in the school. Fletcher discovers Andrew and transfers the aspiring drummer into his band, forever changing the young man's life. Andrew's passion to achieve perfection quickly spirals into obsession, as his ruthless teacher continues to push him to the brink of both his ability-and his sanity. Extras include featurette, original short film, commentary, deleted scene, and An Evening at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Last Word: Exhilarating and provocative, this film hits hard. It’s a truly visceral experience, tense and exciting. From the moment the film begins, be aware that there won’t be one relaxing moment. And it’s incredible.
The plot of this movie is unlike other musical productions, if there is even a plot at all. No prestigious competition to win, no personal hardship or vendetta that must be overcome or redeemed. Whiplash is about artistic obsession.
Studying at the most prestigious conservatory in the country, Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) has a very specific goal – he doesn’t want to be great, he wants to be “one of the greats”, and that distinction is important to note.
The very premise of Whiplash is the cost of greatness. Picked to perform in the studio band by the most notorious instructor in the school, Terence Fletcher, played with phenomenal verve by J.K. Simmons, Andrew enters into a brutal engagement that pushes his physical and emotional capabilities well beyond their limits.
Teller’s performance is excruciating and beautiful. The actor brings heartbreaking ferocity and maturity to the screen. In brief quiet moments his small smile reveals subtle elation accentuated by his genuine blush. In grotesque moments he exerts himself completely, sweating and bleeding all over his drum kit. And you are right beside him the entire film feeling his anxiety and passion.
Damien Chazelle keeps his camera close for each shot, panning on, in and around the musicians’ faces, instruments, broken blisters, blood, spit, sweat and tears. The intense effect is overwhelming and enthralling. Tom Cross’ editing is something to be admired – he captures every detail of passion and exhaustion. The fast, crisp cuts match perfectly with the musical rhythm of the film; Chazelle and Cross have created a powerful and immersive experience.
Enter J.K. Simmons, as Terence Fletcher, always clad in black and perfectly polished shoes that click and clack on the floor in a steady intimidating rhythm. His tempo. His tempo. His. Fucking. Tempo. When his fist clenches you’re held in awful suspension and are completely trapped by his searing blue eyes. Simmons isn’t Simmons in this role. He is fit and strong in stature, a flawless embodiment of cruelty. His character’s brutal tutelage is grounded in the belief that greatness can only be achieved through critically bludgeoning his students with offensively personal insults and humiliation. Positive reinforcement is a plague for aspiring talent. Fletcher’s cruelty is never meant to be justified or reasoned with, it’s simply a mechanism for motivation.
This is where the film is spectacular and provocative. How far is too far if the end game produces truly historic talent? There isn’t a happy resolution. There isn’t a problem to be resolved. This movie is displays the degrading progression of stamina and devotion. Whiplash presents the controversial ethics of maximizing and enhancing talent with oppressively cruel instruction, regardless of consequential emotional and physical decay. Do we want Fletcher or Neyman to be any different? Is their relationship an apex of sado-masochism where both parties yield sick pleasure for the sake of success, therefore making the incorrigible behavior acceptable? It’s sick, it’s beautiful, relentless and awe-inspiring. (– Caitlyn Thompson)
|Might this be the real Charles Knauf?|
Nilah Magruder’s web comic, M.F.K. became the first-ever recipient of the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity, presented at Long Beach Comics Expo.
“Nilah Magruder’s M.F.K. is a great read,” said Matt Wayne, the Director of the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity. “Nilah created an incredibly engaging post-apocalyptic fantasy world peopled with a broad array of characters. In terms of both excellence and inclusiveness, this is just the sort of comic the Award was created for."
The Award is named after Dwayne McDuffie, the influential comics and animation writer who passed away in 2011 and who was known for creating superhero properties for Marvel and DC comics that included diverse casts of characters.
The Award was presented to Magruder by Charlotte McDuffie, Dwayne McDuffie’s widow. The keynote address was given by writer-director-producer Reginald Hudlin.
“This award isn’t about honoring Dwayne,” Wayne said. “Dwayne wouldn’t have stood for that. The Selection Committee had to choose between five worthy nominees, and those works and their creators are what we celebrate today.”
|By Erin Maxwell|
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP
— Leonard Nimoy (@TheRealNimoy) February 23, 2015
Skating To New York is a contemporary coming-of-age adventure about five boys on a small-town Canadian high school hockey team, who live to skate. After losing a big game, they decide to do something never attempted before - skate across Lake Ontario to New York on the coldest day of the year.
Starring Connor Jessup ("Falling Skies"), Gage Munroe (I Declare War), Dylan Everett ("Degrassi: The Next Generation") and Jason Gedrick (Backdraft), Skating To New York is a story about home and friendship, about leadership and facing danger, and about growing up - but never giving up.