IR Talks With Nick Kroll About Vices, the Greatness of Bobby Cannavale and his new Film ‘Adult Beginners’

by: Jay Carlson

The following is the transcript from a roundtable interview I took part in with Nick Kroll this week. Normally, I don’t post the full transcript but I really enjoyed the natural flow of the conversation and think it stands up well to a full read.

Be aware there are minor spoilers about Kroll’s new film, Adult Beginners. So, if you’d prefer to go in fresh, read it after checking out the film.

Speak of the film, it’s available today in select theaters and on VOD. Find out how you can see it near you by clicking HERE.

Adult Beginners has an excellent cast consisting of Kroll, Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale.You’ll also notice a lot of great cameos from Joel McHale, Jason Mantzoukas, Bobby Moynihan, Mike Birbiglia and more.

The film centers on a young, hipster entrepreneur (Nick Kroll) who crashes and burns on the eve of his company’s big launch. With his entire life in disarray, he leaves Manhattan to move in with his estranged pregnant sister (Rose Byrne), brother-in-law (Bobby Cannavale) and three year-old nephew in the suburbs — only to become their manny.  Faced with real responsibility, he may finally have to grow up — but not without some bad behavior first.

 

Q: Let’s start at the beginning, the inception of the story. So you come up with the story idea and then, do you seek out the writers that end up writing the script? And if so, how do you choose who writes the script for the film?

Nick Kroll: I just started reading a bunch of people and I really wanted to have at least one female voice in the writing process just because so much of the story was based on Rose being a young mother figuring out how to work and be a mom. It just seemed like it would be really helpful because my imagination is somewhat limited. So I read it to a bunch of different people and met with Liz (Flahive) and Jeff (Cox) who wrote the movie. They are an actual husband and wife and when they wrote the script, when I met them, they had a two year old son and by the time we started shooting the movie they had just had another kid. They were really just keyed in to that slightly tired, overwhelmed parents trying to work and figure out how to navigate all those things. I was really excited to have people like that be able to, you know, have real life experience to make it feel more realistic.

Q: Most comedic actors have a good dramatic performance in them, but the same is not usually the case in the other direction. What makes comedic actors able to draw into drama?

Kroll: Well we’re.. Comedic actors are just more talented (laughter) You know, it’s just… I only half mean that. No, I think its… I do think sometimes it’s harder… You can either learn or learn to have access to whatever emotions you need to have a dramatic performance, but sometimes comedy is… there’s some intangible, innate quality to it, as I would say there are for dramatic performances, there are only certain amount of people who can pull some of the more intense dramatic performances off. I think it is easier to go comedic to dramatic than vice versa.

Q: Rose Byrne’s kind of having an amazing couple years recently with her comedic performances. How was it working with her? You guys had a nice chemistry together.

Kroll: Thank you. Yeah, it was great. She was the first person we went to to play my sister. Obviously I wanted to cast that sister role first because it’s the most central to the movie working or not. There’s a lot of very talented comedic actresses out there. She is just so adept at both (comedic and dramatic) that we were very fortunate that she wanted to do it. I think she identified with the siblings relationship. She’s the youngest of four, as well. I think she just connected with that element to the script. I think that there was something that felt very familiar to her, without putting words in her mouth, as she seems to have explained it. So we just got really lucky and she also happens to be super fucking cool, which is nice. She was just game, you know? We put her in a freezing cold pool for two days, with no heater. The heater in the pool broke and she just didn’t complain about anything, not that she would. She just was a pleasure to work with and also so funny… and agile as a performer.

Q: Does coming from an improv background effect the way you approach a scene with people who don’t have that improv background or are primarily comedic?

Kroll: It depends, you know? Like Rose and Bobby (Cannavale) don’t come from an improv background but both of them could improvise. I think there are people who… I don’t theoretically come from a drama background. I think it’s just creating an environment where people are able to do what they’re comfortable with and respond honestly in a scene. There was definitely improvising throughout the movie but we also worked hard on making the script and the jokes or the dramatic moments land as much as we could. But in a lot of the scenes there’s moments of it and in certain scenes it’s heavier. Like, me and Bobby Moynihan’s scene in the convenience store… Bobby and I both came out of the Upright Citizen’s Brigade and so that (scene) had more improv, In Joel McHale’s stuff, there’s some really fun improvised stuff in there. But then also in the parent’s Skype scene with Celia Weston and Jeff DeMunn with me and Rose (that) ended up being quite improvised, but also there’s stuff that’s improvised in there that’s not comedic at all. It’s more underlying story stuff of like, their father remarried real quick to some kooky woman and they’re not so psyched about it. So there’s stuff that slips out that isn’t a joke but was improvised. So, I think the nice thing about having the ability to improvise is that things feel fresh. I didn’t want to lean on it on this project. Like, if something wasn’t working, then just change the line. The goal was to really give it the respect it deserved.

Q: Overall, in general, how was filming this film different from the other productions you’ve been in thus far?

Kroll: Well, I’ve never produced a film, a feature. So that, in itself was a new experience. I’ve now been able to produce some TV stuff and shorts and web stuff and the like, but I haven’t been the lead of a movie before. So figuring out how to track that stuff, of just being aware I’m not just in one scene where I play, like a monster. (laughter) Where you don’t have to worry about anything but what you’re doing in that one scene. So you’re like, “Ok, does this work if I do this? Does that make sense ten pages later?” Those were new things for me to navigate. And then all of this stuff, which I’ve done for my show, but this is still… It’s a different thing, the movie version of it. Part of the reason I wanted to do the movie was to just learn how to do it. You just have to do everything for the first time at some point. So this was the story I wanted to tell and also just learn how to make a movie. Mark Duplass, my co-star from The League, helped me navigate the whole process, having gone through it himself a bunch of times.

Q: Everybody in the film seems to have a vice to help them deal with their life. Are there any vices that you use or you have that help you deal with things that happen in your life?

Kroll: Oh yeah, constantly. I mean I have multiple, one of them is coming in now. (To the waiter at the door) They can bring the coffee in. (to the group) Sorry guys. I think my phone is the weirdest vice I have, that I think we all have now. It’s a quadrant for me: Food, pot, booze and phone. Phone right now seems to be the most dangerous. (laughter).

Q: I’d like to talk about Rose Byrne a bit. Do you get a discount on Bobby Cannavale when you cast Rose Byrne first? (The two have been in a relationship since 2012)

Kroll: You know, ironically went to Rose first because we just needed to figure out who that sister was. When we sat down to talk about the part she was like, “I hope this isn’t weird (but)the guy playing the part of my husband in the movie feels like it was written for my boyfriend. He would be perfect.” I said, “Who is your boyfriend?” And she said, “Bobby Cannavale.” I was like, “We literally did write the part for him.” (laughter) I’ve known him socially and Liz Flahive, one of the writers, was an EP on Nurse Jackie, which he did a season of, and they know each other from the theater world. He was always just that template for us of a real man who would be much more masculine and intimidating to the kind of guy that my character is. But also, who had a sweet, thoughtful, tender part of him. With that kind of character Bobby sort of fit that bill perfectly. He’s such a good actor and I really got to learn a lot working with him. The emotional stuff with Rose, it’s not easier to do but you’re like, “Ok, their mom died, let’s see that play out.” You know, you kind of know exactly what you need. He’s super bummed, his mom died. (laughter) He didn’t fucking take care of her properly. But when I’m fighting with Bobby, and it’s like, “I think I saw you cheat on my sister. I don’t have a leg to stand on. I’ve cheated on my girlfriends in the past.” There’s that gray area that, being able to work with a guy like Bobby, who is a natural and puts a lot of thought into why he’s saying what he’s saying… It was really fun for me to have the exercise of doing that with him.

Q: You have Joel McHale, you have Mike Birbiglia, is there anyone you wanted to get for the film that you weren’t able to?

Kroll: Ummm… I’m trying to think if that would offend anyone. (laughter) I mean… (pouring sugar into his coffee) What if I just put like six Sweet and Low’s in the coffee while I casually kept talking… (laughter) It’s tough… Does anyone ever answer that question? I feel like nobody could ever be like, “Well, for the part of Rose we really wanted…”

Q: But for like scheduling reasons…

Kroll: Oh, sure. There were definitely people who were in and were out. It was so many, honestly. We had such a low budget, there were so many time constraints, we just had no flexibility. We definitely had people who were like, “I’d love to do it, can you shoot it in February?” It was like, “No.” It’s so many of my personal friends, people that I had relationships with, that I could call in a favor with. Like (Jason) Mantzoukas, who is obviously a good buddy of mine and I’ve worked with a ton and was very helpful throughout the process of me formulating the movie. He flew in and gave us a day. Josh Charles was shooting The Good Wife and came in and shot… Like, I remember sitting in a stairwell with him and he was like, “I’m leaving the show. My character is going to be done on the show.” He was in the middle of shooting the last couple episodes of that. It was (during) a snowstorm and it was his day off. A movie on this scale… Like, Joel flying in on the last day of shooting, we shot all that party stuff in his (the character’s) apartment. I was so grateful that he did it and I was so burnt (out) at that point and we were shooting this big huge party scene. There was a lot of keeping everyone entertained and he’s a natural host and leader and just carried the weight of the last day or two where I was a little too spent. It was a lot of calling in a lot of favors.

Q: I feel like people respond to the “do over” story. Where people reach a point in their life and need to go forward from that point and reset. Why do you think that’s so interesting?

Kroll: I think it’s partly like, for whatever reason, people like to watch those stories in movies… I guess this is just what your question is and (I’m) rephrasing it back to you. (laughter) There is something about that Hero’s journey or whatever, where you see someone start and fail and come up short and persevere in the end. I’m not exactly sure why people are so attracted to that story. Then I think, in this particular case in (our) movie, it’s inherently sort of an American desire to build your own business, to strive to be the front man for an industry. Jake wants to be “the guy” and he wants to have this new product and be at the center of it with the glitz and glamour of being the new tech guy. Then watching him very quickly lose that, you’re gratified to see a prick get his comeuppance. But then you’re still theoretically rooting for that person to learn their lesson or succeed. I think it’s a double gratification of not wanting to see that douchebag succeed.

Q: What part of wearing so many hats on the production did you enjoy the most and what did you enjoy the least?

Kroll: I’d say it’s weirdly the same thing, which is control. I love being involved at every stage of it and being able to sculpt it and have an opinion, a real opinion of every aspect of the movie… of who got hired and what direction we took it in tonally, what kind of jokes we told, what kind of story we wanted to tell. Then tonally within scenes, being able to be like, “I think this is a more comedic moment,” or whatever. I feel like most sets you work on, there is some version of that conversation. On this I obviously really have the ability to do that and that’s the most fun but it also is the most difficult, which is to figure out how to navigate wearing different hats at different moments. Sometimes just needing to be like, “I just need to be an actor in this scene. I can’t worry about the fact that it’s snowing and we’re going to lose our location for tomorrow and that means we’re going to have to push which means we’re going to lose our actress” and all those things… and then it’s like, “Ok, action.” You have to be able to… it’s the upside and downside of not just being an actor for hire or a writer or producer. You’re just trying to navigate all of them, but I kinda like that. I think they’re fun challenges within that kind of thing.

Q: I know the story for the film kind of originated off of your personal nannying experiences. How have your personal experiences influenced the way you played Jake?

Kroll: Well, I am the youngest of four. I have two older sisters and an older brother. So, I felt connected to being that youngest brother who, I think, sometimes got away with stuff or who didn’t do much of the heavy lifting within the family. Like maybe I could be convinced to do a couple dishes. Meanwhile my sisters were helping make dinner. So I think I identify with that, or (with) Jake trying to make this Mind’s Eye and wanting to be the hotshot. Shit, I went and tried to make a movie. The difference being that I have a good relationship with my siblings. We just had the premiere in New York last night and they were all there. So, with Jake and Justine’s family, there is a good amount of discord… they’ve lost their mother and their father’s moved away and they’re estranged from one another… My actual family is… every family has its ups and downs and I think that’s what I found interesting. The story is interesting and I think that’s what drew Rose and Bobby and Ross Katz, our director, and everybody to it was like, “Oh, I have a sibling, I see what that’s like. I remember thinking what a prick my brother was.”

Q: So how many times have you begun again in your career?

Kroll: I feel like doing what we do, pursuing creative endeavors, (your constantly) putting yourself out there. There’s kind of constant rejection. Hopefully you also get yes’ along the way. It feels like you’re constantly resetting and constantly getting levels of rejection. Like doing this movie, I’m incredibly proud of the fact we made a movie. That, in and of itself, is a great accomplishment. But it’s all good until you read a review that’s like, “It’s thin,” and you’re like, “Oh, Fuck. God damn it.” And (snaps fingers) it’s like you’re resetting right there. It’s a different level of reset than the guy whose life has genuinely fallen apart. I don’t know, I just feel like I have constant… I get to have constant victories but also constant defeats. How thick is your skin? How capable and willing are you to just persevere through? It’s not like Jake learns to be a bigger animal in the tech world. He resets and is like, I need to reset how I am with my sister and her family (and) I need to reset the kind of person that I am a little bit. I think we’re always trying to restart and reengage and pick yourself up.

Q: You’re kind of at a startover point right now. The movie is coming out The League and The Kroll Show are over, so what are you looking to do next?

Kroll: You know, just roundtable interviews (laughter)

Q: Feature length Gigolo movie with Peter Gallagher?

Kroll: God, that would be amazing. Fucking Gallagher in there. He’s the best. That was just…

Q: How did you get him?

Kroll: We just called, we just reached out. You know what it was? His kids were just fans of the show. He is a badass, it was fun. He’s such a cool dude. I just hope to keep getting to do different stuff because every time I do something new, whatever it was I was doing becomes interesting again. The more variety I have, the more I’m excited to the stuff I had been doing and keep trying new things.

INDIE REVOLVER EXCLUSIVE: An Early Look at a VERY Different Kylo Ren

by: Jay Carlson

We’ve all gotten a great look at the newest villain in the Star Wars universe this weekend beginning with some leaked promotional art and the the newest trailer followed by the display of his unique new lightsaber and costume at celebration in Anaheim.

As with many Star Wars characters, there were many directions in which the costume design may have gone. A different version of Kylo Ren was being used in scene sketches until quite late in pre-production, and it’s an interesting peek into what could have been:

(I believe that this piece of concept art was the one written about by Making Star Wars previously.)

 

The illustration above by Force Awakens concept artist Glyn Dillon (the same illustrator who rendered Kylo’s final helmet design) serves as a reverse angle of the shot in November’s teaser trailer which introduced us to the character:

Star Wars Kylo Ren

As you can see, Kylo Ren almost sported a very different look in Star Wars VII, featuring a red and black helmet with what appears to be a hose that goes from the mask to underneath the robe. These circular faces were a popular design in the art department, and they tried out similar helmets for many characters. One group who appeared to be bounty hunters (or perhaps Jakku’s equivalent of Tusken Raiders) are all outfitted in similar headgear.

Another interesting detail in this new piece of concept art is the evolution of Kylo Ren’s lightsaber. Instead of the crossguard saber he is carrying a hilt with a wampa claw embedded in its pommel. This saber was a favorite of the production team, and it was developed at least through many revisions of illustrations labeled “Wampa Saber”:


Kylo Ren’s final lightsaber design has a very rough, scratch-built look and a volatile energy blade. It indicates an aggressive, powerful, and somewhat unhinged master and may yet play into a rumored plot line involving Sith artifacts. Still, it’s unfortunate that the wampa claw lightsaber was abandoned. It was an interesting design, and there’s an unfortunate hint of the prequel mentality that creeps in along Kylo’s impractical broadsaber.

What do you think of the early variants of the villain and his weapon? I really love Kylo Ren’s final look in the film. Like so many details in The Force Awakens, his character’s design bridges the original trilogy with this sequel in a familiar yet refreshing way.

INDIE REVOLVER EXCLUSIVE: The Plot and Problems of Paul Feig’s GHOSTBUSTERS

by: Steve Sullivan

Filmmaking is a medium still in its infancy, and as a uniquely expensive popular art form it has spent the entirety of its formative years shackled to industry. Economic and creative interests rarely coincide, but Hollywood has spent a century seeking harmony between great storytelling and larger profits. The studios’ batting average has climbed and dropped throughout the seasons, and from time to time they’ve stepped up to smash one over the fences. Ghostbusters was a grand slam when it was released in 1984, one of the most beloved films that Hollywood has ever produced.

For twenty-five years, hopes for a third entry in the series were at lifted upon waves of Dan Aykroyd’s enthusiasm only to be smashed each time upon the rocks of Bill Murray’s inhospitable shores. The former has more invested in the property; the concept was his brainchild and Ghostbusters represents a distant high point in his career. While Peter Venkman may be Bill Murray’s most famous role, the eccentric actor has found new success and late-career validation in offbeat indies and dramatic parts. Together with director Ivan Reitman and their co-star/writer Harold Ramis, the two were said to exercise veto power over the Ghostbusters franchise and seemed eternally out of sync on its future. Sony Pictures, who inherited Ghostbusters by purchasing Columbia Pictures while the second film was still in theaters, remained hesitant throughout to revive Ghostbusters without Murray’s involvement. It wasn’t until Ramis passed away in February of 2014 that the studio began to consider the viability of new directions.

In October, Sony announced that they’d chosen Bridesmaids’ Paul Feig to write and direct the next installment of Ghostbusters. Feig revealed that the new film would be a hard reboot set in a world without Egon Spengler, Ray Stantz, Peter Venkman, and Winston Zeddemore, and that the new ghostbusting team would be comprised entirely of women. The director found himself facing intense and immediate backlash, and has responded to the criticisms with public statements about his detractors’ misogyny and oversensitivity.

“It’s so dramatic,” Feig said in a Variety interview published this week. “Honestly, the only way I could ruin your childhood is if I got into a time machine and went back and made you an orphan.”

The reboot’s naysayers do not all belong to the camps which Feig has called out. In sniping back at the bored Twitter fringe, he addresses tangential social issues but sidesteps the growing frustration with the way Hollywood executives make creative decisions. It’s unsurprising that Feig’s not able to summon a strong defense for his approach. He wasn’t interested in the job, but former head of Sony Pictures Amy Pascal kept pushing to bring him on board.

“I was courting him for like a year,” Pascal told Jenelle Riley. She was convinced that the project needed “somebody who was going to do an entirely different idea, equally brilliant and completely their own thing.”

Sony Pictures is home to precious few dependable franchises. While James Bond is enjoying a critical upswing, the studio has somehow managed to misfire on three consecutive outings with Spider-Man while fast-tracking a second Smurfs sequel which nobody wants. Pascal and Sony saw Feig as a sure thing in the wake of the director’s impressive run at the box office, and their business-first approach led them to pursue a talent who admitted he had no clue how to approach the property. When Feig eventually suggested that he could deliver his usual brand of female ensemble comedy wallpapered with the Ghostbusters brand, Sony celebrated that they’d signed their man.

The problem with the new Ghostbusters is not that Feig wrote his story around a team of women. What’s troubling is that Sony hired a director who’s got a limited comfort zone and force fit an iconic property into that mold.

Filmmakers have been reinterpreting stories in movies and television from the beginning. The lack of respect often shown to remakes by critics is not always reflected at the box office, as familiar brands continue to fill theater seats. Nor can it be said that a derivative film can’t be an interesting exercise. Alfred Hitchcock and Michael Mann each revisited their own stories in order to improve upon them. Gus Van Sant attempted to relive Hitchcock’s Psycho experience shot-for-shot. For most, the titles of Ocean’s Eleven and The Maltese Falcon conjure images of their impressive remakes over the originals. When a talented filmmaker has a bold vision for a new direction, it’s often worth giving them the opportunity to try. Sadly, that doesn’t appear to be the fate for Ghostbusters.

Recently, we had an opportunity to read a breakdown of the reboot’s story. Far from being inspired or confident, the outline of the new Ghostbusters film represents a departure from the familiar story in mostly unimportant ways. The scientists who strike out on their own business venture are, of course, women instead of men. Their adventure begins at Columbia, the real-life school which stood in for the university which banished Venkman, Stantz, and Spengler to the private sector. The script goes out of its way to reference the original film unnecessarily – a realtor shows the women a firehouse before they find their ultimate headquarters above a chinese restaurant (where one might assume they’ll spend “the last of the petty cash”). The movie promises an origin story for a reinterpreted Slimer; their company car is an old white hearse. If the film is going to spend so much time winking at its predecessor, why discard its solid foundation to begin with? Ghostbusters was a concept ready-made for expansion, as an eager Venkman once promised that “the franchise rights alone” would make them rich beyond their wildest dreams.

Pascal was reassigned within the Sony Pictures organization after hackers released her private emails featuring racist jokes about President Obama and complaints about working with Angelina Jolie. In the months since her departure, Sony has projected a confused image on the Ghostbusters front. With Feig’s film in pre-production, the studio let slip that another team (including Channing Tatum and Chris Pratt) was also developing their own Ghostbusters script. It may be too much to hope that Pascal’s replacement, the notoriously penny-pinching Tom Rothman, is reconsidering the Feig project for creative reasons, but it would certainly be welcome.

The true magic of great comedies rarely lives on the page, but is revealed only when the writing, direction, performances and editing succeed together. Paul Feig’s attempt at Ghostbusters may ultimately be funny when it elbows its way into theaters in July of next year, but being funny alone will not earn it a place with the original.

The story outline (which we’ve confirmed is legitimate) is reprinted in full below. This is a lazy treatment for a treasured property. Ghostbusters deserved better.

______________________________________________________________________________

  • Kristen Wiig will be playing Erin Gabler, a science professor at Columbia University, who years prior co-authored a book with Abby Bergman, played by Melissa McCarthy, titled “Ghosts From our Past: Both Literally and Figuratively – The Study of Paranormal Knowing.“
  • The two have not spoken in years but are brought together when Erin is approached by a gentleman looking for help with a haunting. It’s during this interaction that Erin learns that Abby has made their book available online. Erin fears what the book could do to her credibility if it’s discovered and approaches her old friend to take the book out of circulation. Abby agrees only after she offers to bring her and her colleague Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) along to look into the haunting.
  • Abby is a professor of paranormal studies at a third-rate university in the Bronx where she works with Jillian.  Jillian is the Egon of Feig’s story. She’s invented a PKE Meter that she brings to test during this first investigation.
  • At the site of the haunting they encounter slime followed by the ghost of a young girl who proceeds to slime Erin. (Sound familiar?) Abby catches the incident on film. The video goes viral but the majority of the public doesn’t believe the video is real. The circumstances around the situation cause Erin to lose her job at Columbia.
  • Abby proposes the three set up a business investigating paranormal disturbances. Erin reluctantly agrees and the three embark on setting up a paranormal extermination business.
  • They next need to locate an office for their new business. The realtor shows them a perfect spot, a renovated fire house that is way too far out of their price range. They instead end up in an apartment above a Chinese restaurant.
  • We are next introduced to Patty Tolan, played by Leslie Jones, who works in the tunnels under New York City. While underground she encounters the film’s villain Rowan Elgin (The role Peter Dinklage is rumored for) carrying a device. She pursues Tolan but he gives her the slip. After losing him, she stumbles upon his device attached to the wall. A ghost in clothing from the 1600’s appears from the device and chases Patty until a train appears and hits the ghost, causing it to vanish.
  • Meanwhile, Erin, Abby and Jillian and their new intern named Kevin are brainstorming ideas for a logo for the business website when Patty arrives. Patty brings them down to the tunnel to show them the device.
  • Patty proposes that they let her join the team, offering them the use of her uncle’s vehicle for the business, an old white hearse.
  • The newly formed team gets their first official gig at Rockefeller Center where they are hired to get rid of the ghost of a fat Mafioso. They test out Jillian’s newest invention, the Proton Pack, on the ghost. The pack ends up shooting off the ghost’s arms, legs and torso, leaving only a disembodied green head (Yup, Slimer). The head manages to get away.
  • Much like their previous video, the video of their fight with the fat green ghost again goes viral, but again it’s viewed as a hoax. The evening news reports on the event, jokingly referring to them as the Ghostbusters.
  • The team’s next call brings them to a comic convention where they arrive dressed in old underground maintenance uniforms provided by Patty carrying Proton Packs, blending in with all the other cosplayers. A battle breaks out when they locate the demon-looking ghost. The crowd cheers, thinking it’s all part of the convention.
  • The Ghostbusters eventually deduce that the rise in paranormal activity is the result of Rowan who has ties to very old secret society and has been working on building a machine that will release all the ghosts in the city to facilitate the release of an ancient Sumerian god of darkness who will bring about the end of all humanity.
  • They get to Rowan too late as his machine has created a large supernatural cloud that begins to rain slime. The Army arrives to provide assistance but the raining slime causes them to become possessed. The team must find a way to stop Rowan as his machine begins to release a horde of ghosts from all periods of New York history.  While there is no Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, there is a ghost T-Rex.

Indie Revolver Talks to Ex Machina Director Alex Garland About Auteurs, Star Wars and a New 28 Days Later Film!

by: Jay Carlson

Indie Revolver recently had the opportunity to sit down with writer/director Alex Garland to discuss his newest film, Ex Machina. You might know Garland through his previous work as a comic artist or novelist (He wrote the novel that was adapted for the Danny Boyle film, The Beach). More than likely you know Alex Garland for the movies he’s written. Most notably Garland is responsible for reanimating the zombie genre (along with the Resident Evil video games) with his script for Danny Boyle’s 2002 film 28 Days Later. He also wrote the amazing action film Dredd, as well as Danny Boyle’s Sci-Fi film, Sunshine.

With Ex Machina Alex Garland created a dark, complex, science fiction masterpiece, but don’t call him an auteur, “I’m not really interested auteur-ship.” Garland continues his thought, “Woody Allen? That could be another story. I’ve got no idea. He might be an auteur. I’m not saying that auteurs don’t exist; I’m just talking about my own experience.”

Garland embraces the idea that every member of his crew is an integral cog to the creative process. “What I’m doing is filmmaking, but it’s not that I am the filmmaker. It’s that I am one of a group of people who are filmmaking. That would include a DOP (Director of Photography), a production designer and the director and writer and producer and you could just keep going down the list of all the HOD.’s (Head of Department) who are really bringing distinct things to the movie. I would be taking too much credit on this film if I appropriated that. It would also be being unreasonable to the H.o.D’s on the previous film if I then allocated it. So I’m just trying to get (rid of) this pyramid structure thing ‘cause I don’t realty buy it. I’ve never really observed it and I don’t really care about it. The best thing about film for me is the collaboration, this group of people working together. “

“You must know if you’ve been observing how films are made, directors don’t always do the thing we allege they do. I mean, you must, because it’s impossible. And also, why do productions fight so hard for DOP’s? That line that you often get in reviews is the way directors mount the camera or the performance that the director got out of the actor. Why would we fight to get these people if it’s the director who is dragging this stuff out of them, or micromanaging the whole thing? I’ve never seen that. And because I’ve never seen it, I wouldn’t know how to do it anyway. The collaboration is the big deal to me.”

“This for me is the truest example of how films actually get made. In my experience… There’s a whole thing in Dredd where there’s this drug… it’s kind of a drug movie in one respect. It’s based around this drug called Slo-Mo, with some nice imagery attached to it. There’s a scene, one of the most beautiful bits of imagery on the film and actually a scene that helped us define the other bits of drug imagery that appeared where Ma-Ma, the character played by Lena Heady gets stoned in the bath. She gets wasted and she puts her hand in the water and she pulls it up and these droplets kind of become iridescent and it’s lovely. A beautiful piece of imagery… Beautiful bit of photography. That shot largely exists because Michelle Day, who is a name that never appears on the cards, although in this film I did put her on the cards (Day is credited as the Set Decorator for Ex Machina) but normally she’d be buried in the roll up, said “I think Ma-Ma should have a bath right in the middle of her room and she should get stoned in the bath because that would be the best place to get stoned. She could lie on the bed but wouldn’t it be great if she was in the bath? And then, when she’s getting stoned she could play with the water and it would look really beautiful.” Me and the DOP and a bunch of other people go, “That’s a great idea, let’s do that.” We have a conversation with Lena. “Are you prepared to have a bath?” You know, because an actress might not want to do that or whatever. But basically the shot that Michelle predicts becomes something that informs a huge number of the other shots that wouldn’t exist if she hadn’t said that. Now, nobody watching the film could have any way of attributing that thing to her because we don’t present film that way. We present it as.. Typically there’s a film and then there’s a name in brackets and that’s the director’s name. But also it’s too complex. There’s no way to extrapolate from the credits who did what or when they did it or how it happened. Now, that’s one example of Michelle and one of the reason’s I dragged her out of the roller and put her in the cards. To try and acknowledge (her), because she does this like fucking fifty times a movie. I’ve worked with her now on, I think, five films and so I don’t want to sound to preachy or go on a thing about it but I’m getting pissed off by this director thing, I’m bored of it. I’m really bored of it. It doesn’t seem accurate to me and I would rather talk about Michelle and  a bunch of other people. A lot of the beauty that exists in this film, I can say exists because it’s not mine. There’s Rob Hardy, this DOP is fantastic. He’s such a clever, intuitive, gifted DOP. If you look at his other films, it’s still there. It’s nothing I did.”

Garland continued to heap praise on his crew when asked to elaborate that collaborative effort in Ex Machina. “Grips and focus pullers… Focus pullers can do a shot three times and then just think to themselves, “I’m just going to throw it over there just to see what happens.” And that turns out to be the best and most intuitive thing to do. Almost everything is the consequence of a group of people having a conversation. Ideas often can’t even get traced back to one person… Do you know what I mean? The only dishonest thing you can say is, especially on a film like this, is that it’s all the director. That’s the bit of bullshit, you could say.”

When the point is made that, even though the director might get an undue amount of credit for a successful film, they also shoulder a lot of the blame if a film is a failure, Garland concedes a bit. “I guess. But all that would be is another representation of something which might be broadly inaccurate. I have to say, of course because I haven’t worked on films that I haven’t worked on. Maybe what I’m saying is only true in my line of sight. I just suspect it isn’t because I’ve worked with enough crews to get the vibe, you know I’ve been doing it for fifteen years. Again, say Woody Allen is an auteur. I really won’t disagree, I’m sure it’s true. It’s just the blanket application that we tend to do that I’m disagreeing with. I’m trying to be reasonable rather than unreasonable. “

It’s no secret that two-thirds of Garlands main cast consist of actors taking part in what could be the biggest film year, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Garland sheds a little light on the Star Wars casting process of his two leads “They got that gig, like after… I think we were at least three-quarters of the way through post production. Films are often cast surprisingly soon to when they go into prep. As I remember, both those guys signed on two weeks before it was announced. Two and a half weeks? Something like that. I guess there might have been a conversation six months before but for other reasons I don’t think there were because of the process.”

When asked if there were any thoughts about holding Ex Machina back in order to cash in on the Star Wars sweepstakes, Garland says, “I just.. No. The conversations I had about a film like this is, is there a weekend anywhere where we can come out without getting obliterated? (Laughter) But that is true. This film, the reason it’s coming out this time of year is because there’s the awards corridor and then you get a bunch of these adult drama… we’re never going to live… like we’d be dead in seconds in that space. Then there’s the tent poles. You know, May to summer or whatever?”

Don’t expect to see Garland stepping behind the camera of a Star Wars film though. When asked whether or not he’d be interested in stepping into a sandbox like that he surprisingly (or perhaps not surprisingly) had the following to say, “I did (work in a sandbox like that) in a small sort of British way with Dredd, I think. That’s a preexisting comic, 2000 AD. But what you mean is am I going to chuck my hat in the Star Wars ring? It actually isn’t (something that he would be interested in). There are various reasons, but I would not be suited for that. My sensibilities are wrong. I’ve been doing this long enough… Look at my track record. There’s something… at a certain point you have to go, “There’s a pattern here.” SunshineDredd and Never Let Me Go. Years ago we had a hit with this movie, 28 Days Later. I don’t want to sound self-deprecating, I’m really pleased with how everything has worked out but there’s something in there would not lead you to suggest that what I should be doing is running a 150 million dollar film.”

When asked about the possibility of another film in the 28 Days Later series, of which Garland wrote the screenplay and served as a producer on its sequel 28 Weeks Later, he had the following to say “There is. We’re talking about it at the moment. We spent a long… The thing about 28 Days (Later), the first one, was that it had kind of an aggression to it and it had sort of a subversive element to it. And the sequel ideas that kept getting brought up, floated or discussed amongst us were a bit, kind of tame and they were franchise kind of ideas. Then we sort of came up with something with a bit more bite. And so we’re going to give it a crack. But it’s very early days. Very early days.”

Ex Machina is out now in select theaters. I can’t recommend this film more highly. It truly is an exceptional film.

IR FILM REVIEW: Supernerd Gears up for Alex Garland’s Trippy and Brilliant ‘Ex Machina’

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

Science Fiction movies are a tough genre to pin down. Ask five different people and you could get five different answers as to what constitutes a Sci-Fi film. It could be a movie about a dystopian future society on Earth, an out-of-this-world space adventure or a superhero epic. But Ex Machina is none of these things. In his directorial debut, Alex Garland has created something that almost defies a label, crafting a brilliant and cerebral story that puts the focus on characters and science rather than spaceships and men in mechanical suits.

Ex Machina wastes no time getting started, introducing us to Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), a  code writer for a tech company that’s one part Facebook, one part Google. Caleb is announced as the winner of an employee lottery and before we know it he’s being whisked away like Charlie Bucket to the secretive home of company CEO Nathan (Oscar Isaac) for some kind of week-long retreat.

Once the introductions are made Caleb finds out that he’s been brought away from work to perform a version of the “Turing Test” (to see if computers can replicate human responses) on Nathan’s latest project, the extremely advanced humanoid A.I. known as Ava (Alicia Vikander). Over the course of the next seven days, Caleb’s testing will decide the fate of Ava and whether or not Nathan’s greatest experiment – the creation of true artificial intelligence – has succeeded or failed.

I don’t think I’ve seen a more ambitious movie done on such a low-key level, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. The fact that this whole movie essentially takes place in one house – and on top of that just a few rooms in the house, really – is crazy. It’s very enclosed and guarded but never once did it feel small or claustrophobic.

The fact that only three actors carried this entire film is astounding. This trio managed to creat great tension and strife, keeping me guessing about everyone’s true motivations until the very end. I especially enjoyed Gleeson as the wide-eyed and innocent newcomer to the twisted household, becoming the rope in a mental game of tug-of-war waged between by this new-age Dr. Frankenstein and his monster. Isaac’s smug and sometimes condescending attitude was a polar opposite to Vikander’s beguiling (yet somehow almost disingenuous) innocence.

Alex Garland has always been an innovative writer. He reinvented the zombie genre with 28 Days Later, gave us the breathtaking interstellar epic Sunshine and breathed new life into the 2000 A.D. comic book character Dredd. With Ex Machina though, Garland can finally show us that he can bring it visually as well as verbally. While he espouses that filmmaking is a collaborative effort between the entire crew, this is truly the director’s show where he proves that not only does he have a sharp mind for story and dialogue but an eye for visual storytelling as well.

Garland manages to balance the visuals of the film from the cold of Nathan’s fortress-like home/research facility with scenes of the lush grounds surrounding the home. It made the film feel less confined and also showed great contrast between the living and the mechanical (with the boys going out for the occasional jaunt into the wilderness to stretch their legs and relieve tension while Ava is imprisoned, like Hannibal Lector, in the same room). The film sets the audience as the fourth main character, a voyeur, starting with how we first see Caleb through his computer screen for the opening moments, to seeing how the human components of the film felt the need to endlessly watch the going-on of the house through a CCTV feed.

With Ex Machina, Alex Garland presents some very big ideas but always manages to make the film feel grounded. From top-notch performances by the cast to the beautiful cinematography, this is a movie that will make you think and stay with you for quite some time.

GRADE: A

Chris Columbus Talks Gremlins Reboot

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

If you’re a fan of Gremlins (like I am), the thought of a reboot is a polarizing one. While I’d like to see more of the Mogwai and their sinister counterparts again I am sick to death of reboots that don’t live up to the original.

Recently /Film got to talk to Chris Columbus, writer of the original 1984 film, and asked him about the upcoming reboot to the franchise and his involvement. He did say that he was returning as a producer and more:

I am involved. Initially I remember back in ’84-’85 when they approached me and said, do you wanna write the sequel and I said, this is before the obsession with franchises. So my feeling was no. We’ve told the story, that was that’s 1980’s thinking. And then suddenly all these years later, we were approached with an idea that really sounded like an interesting version. It’s not a remake of the movie at all. It’s a, it’s just a reinvention of it.

Columbus was apparently very stingy with details on the film (which is totally understandable) but did say how the latest work from J.J. Abrams in the Star Trek and Star Wars universes influenced the decisions made for the new Gremlins movie:

Maybe. I mean, one thing I learned from the Star Wars trailer is — and actually, we knew this all along and J.J.’s been doing it and really doing it effectively, beautifully is touching into that emotional connection we have with our past. And he did it with Star Trek, just by casting Leonard Nimoy in that role in that movie, and really having that connection. So when I saw the Star Wars trailer and saw Chewie and Han Solo at the end of the trailer, I was, it was emotional. And that’s what everybody wanted for the past 30 years. We had wanted that. So for me, I would wanna get involved if we could create some sort of emotional connection even though it’s a new story.

That sounds pretty cool. I dug how J.J. did Star Trek, rebooting the franchise while not really doing a complete reboot and throwing away all the films that had come before it. I’m a little more willing to give this a shot now.

In sadder news, original director Joe Dante has confirmed that he is not involved in any way with the new film.

While at the Riviera Maya Film Festival, Dante was asked if he was onboard for the upcoming flick. “No, because I don’t own the project,” he said. “It’s owned by other people.”

Hopefully we’re not disappointed by this future incarnation of the Gremlins franchise. We’ll post more news as it becomes available.

‘Blade Runner 2′ Writer Claws his way Into Wolverine Sequel

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

The internet was buzzing a few weeks ago when Hugh Jackman announced that the next Wolverine film (which rumors report is being called just Wolverine) would be his last playing the fan favorite mutant. With James Mangold set to sit behind the cameras for this next installment, all the studios needed now was to find a writer.

The Wrap is reporting that FOX has now done just that.

Michael Green, whose screenwriting credits include the Ryan Reynolds film Green Lantern and the upcoming sequels to Blade Runner & Prometheus, has been tapped to write the adventures of the Canadian mutant alongside Mangold.

Right now the only real movie work we have to judge Green on is the awful Green Lantern. If we’re going by that, I have to hope that Mangold does the lion’s share of the work on this one.

We don’t know if Jackman will don the X-Men outfit for Bryan Singer’s upcoming X-Men: Age of Apocalypse, but we do know that we’ll be saying our farewells to Wolverine when his next solo film hits theaters March 3, 2017.

Frank Miller Adding a Third (and Final?) Chapter to the his Dark Knight Series!

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

When I was getting back into comics, my friend and Indie Revolver EIC Jay guided me towards Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One. Those were two of the greatest Batman stories I’ve ever read.

I own Year One as a hardcover, trade paperback and hunted down the single issues. I own the 10th Anniversary version of DKR as well as the original collection (with awesome Alan Moore introduction). Jay even managed to find me a sweet limited edition complete (at that time) leather-bound edition of all of Miller’s Batman work.

In essence, I’m a fan. I’ve even managed to get my youngest cousin into Miller’s work on the Caped Crusader.

And it’s because I’m such a fan that I was utterly let down by Frank Miller’s last two attempts at writing Batman. The Dark Knight Strikes Again and All-Star Batman and Robin were horrible. Not “so cheesy it’s good” bad, just plain bad. But he’s Frank f’n Miller…so he gets a pass for now.

So when DC announced that Miller would be returning to the Dark Knight universe to write a third chapter, titled The Dark Knight III: The Master Race, I was…unexcited. Even though Miller is teaming up with Brain Azzarello, one of the best crime comic writers in the last 20 years, I still find myself wondering if we really need another go around in this sandbox.

Everyone involved in the project certainly seems to think so. DC Co-Publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee released the following statement:

“We are thrilled to have Frank back home at DC writing Batman. The story he and Brian have crafted is an astounding and triumphant conclusion to this seminal body of work which influenced and shaped generations of readers and creators alike.

Meanwhile Miller said “Batman remains my favorite comic book hero, and a sequel to Dark Knight is going to be daunting, but we’ll do our best.” Azzarello chimed in with “It’s been an amazing experience collaborating with Frank these past six months. I think we have an epic story that these characters truly deserve.”

I’m still apprehensive. I’ll give the first issue a shot, but I’m keeping expectations low. I just don’t like how everything these days needs to be a trilogy. The Dark Knight Returns was perfect on its own. Dark Knight Strikes Again sullied that legacy. Let’s hope the third chapter is a return to the Frank Miller of old.

Could Iron Fist be in Need of a Strange Doctor?

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

If there’s one thing Marvel does right, it’s connecting their properties and making it feel like a cohesive universe.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been interacting with their TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for quite some time now. Daredevil mentioned the events of Avengers a few times. There have also been rumors swirling that Marvel will have the Netflix series characters show up in Avengers: The Infinity Wars when those films hit theaters.

And now we have word of another possible crossover to strengthen the continuity.

Bleeding Cool is putting out the word that Doctor Strange could make his live-action debut for the MCU in the upcoming Netflix series Iron Fist.

How could this happen? Could Iron Fist happen to stumble upon the temple of the Ancient One on his way to K’un L’un? Will the good doctor and the martial arts master team up for an adventure? Or will Danny Rand need some kind of medical attention that only Stephen Strange can provide?

Any way this goes we should keep our eyes peeled for a cameo from Doctor Strange on Netflix before his film drops in theaters November 6, 2016

Our First Official Look at Jared Leto as The Joker!

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

Slowly Jared Leto has been transforming himself into The Joker, giving us peeks at the process one step at a time. And now, in honor of the 75th anniversary of the Clown Prince of Crime, David Ayer, director of the upcoming Suicide Squad film, proudly tweeted an image of the final product.

Ladies and gentleman, we present to you…The Joker!!!

I’m a little let down. This feels like a hipster Joker that I would see shopping at Hot Topic in the mall back in 2001, which I’m not a fan of. I don’t care for the plethora of HA!HA!HA! tattoos, I think the DAMAGED tattoo on his forehead is stupid Maybe it’s me, but I can’t imagine him sitting still long enough for those dumb tattoo’s. What’s next? Is Ayer’s next big reveal that Harley Quinn is a former tattoo artist? and…did they give The Joker grills? What the &%$#? Who is he, Lil Jon?

Has anyone stopped to consider that in order to justify the superstar cast of this project it has to end up as the greatest comic book movie ever created or it’s going to be viewed as a failure? Think about it, If Ayer made a middle of the road comic film with a bunch of nobodys it would be viewed far differently than if he made an ok film with an all-star cast like this. In my opinion, he has a VERY small margin of error. Hopefully he and his cast surprise me.

Until that happens, I’m going to be wary about getting too excited about this.

Lord and Miller Are Bringing us an Animated Spider-Man Film!

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

We all know at this point in time that Spider-Man is coming back in a big way. After a few years of floundering, the Web Warrior will debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and get a big reboot at home studio Sony. With a live-action film set to hit in 2017, Sony decided to make the announcement at CinemaCon that in 2018 we’ll also get an animated Spider-Man film!

Sony chairman Tom Rothman made it known that Spidey will be back in a new animated feature that will be written by LEGO Movie / Jump Street team Chris Miller and Phil Lord. The duo will also serve as producers, but it is unknown at this time whether they will come on board to direct.

While this film will be released alongside the other Spider-Man films, the actual finished product will “exist independently of the projects in the live-action Spider-Man universe, all of which are continuing.”

So, that will be a little confusing for the casual fan. They may think that these are “between the film” stories and are in continuity, unless they go completely off-the-wall with them, which Lord and Miller can most definitely do. This could be an opportunity for Sony to tell the kind of stories that a live action movie would be unable to due to budget constraints and the like.

Either way, with Lord and Miller involved, I’m interested. I do wonder if this will affect the duos supposed attachment to Warner Bros’ DC Comics movie The Flash, though.

Another Character set to Pick a Side in ‘Captain America: Civil War’

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

Avengers: Age Of Ultron is almost upon us, but more and more people are looking to the now-filming Captain America: Civil War. While not a direct adaptation of the comic storyline, we do know that the heroes will be forced to war off against one another, picking sides with either Iron Man or Captain America.

 

It’s been announced that Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr will be showing up in the film, so we know that they’ll survive the Ultron attack. We’ve also heard that Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson and Anthony Mackie will survive as they have signed on to play Hawkeye, Black Widow and Falcon respectively.

 

But now we’ve found out about another survivor. Here’s where you get a quick SPOILER WARNING if you don’t want to know about some of the outcomes to the upcoming Avengers flick…

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Still here? Alright.

During a “Meet The Filmmakers” event at an Apple Store in London, Elizabeth Olson confirmed that she’ll reprise her role of Wanda Maximoff, a.k.a. The Scarlet Witch, in the upcoming Captain America flick.

When asked if she would be in Civil War, Olson apparently said yes, followed by “I guess I’m not allowed to talk about that now.”

So what role will The Scarlet Witch play in the superhero Civil War? Hopefully Avengers: Age Of Ultron, which opens in the U.S. on May 1, will give us some kind of clue.

‘Fast and the Furious 8′ Locks Down a Release Date!

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

With Furious 7 still owning the box office, Vin Diesel and Universal Studios decided to strike while the iron was hot and announce that the eighth installment was already a plan. Then they announced that the film would release very soon.

Announced at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, Diesel took the stage and told the excited crowd that the next Fast and the Furious sequel would race into theaters April 14, 2017.

Diesel said that it would be “the best movie you’ve ever seen.” He said the same thing about Furious 7 and I’ve gotta say I did love F7.

The majority of the principal cast are set to come back and it’s being said that Kurt Russell would even return to reprise his role as the shadowy government agent Mr. Nobody. It’s also being said that the film would primarily be placed in New York.

April 2017 will be quite the packed week. Fast and the Furious 8 would open up against the Scarlett Johansson-starring live-action Ghost in the Shell and one week removed form Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim 2. I’m sure Diesel and crew aren’t scared though – they’ll just grip the wheel, hit the nitrous and peel off without looking back.

New ‘Muppet Show’ to be a Behind-the-Scenes Mockumentary?

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

The news broke not too long ago that the Muppets would be heading back to the TV after a much deserved big screen revival. The new show was rumored to be a behind-the-scenes look at the work that goes into making a “Muppet Show” – something akin to what the original show was like.

But Entertainment Weekly is now reporting that the show will have a decidedly more adult feel and go the way of a mock-documentary, much like “The Office” was. For the first time fans would get a peek at the “personal lives” of the characters that make up the Muppet Show.

EW released the following logline about the new direction for the show:

The Muppets return to prime time with a contemporary, documentary-style show that—for the first time ever—will explore the Muppets’ personal lives and relationships, both at home and at work, as well as romances, break-ups, achievements, disappointments, wants and desires; a more adult Muppet show, for kids of all ages.

While the last two films touched on this a little, this is a full-blown pulling back of the curtain, so to speak. This could really turn off some of the hardcore fans before they even get a chance to see if the finished product is worthwhile.

While this project is still just on the pilot development stage, it would be hard for ABC to turn their backs on such a beloved franchise that has quite the built in fanbase (and a fanbase that now likely has kids of their own to get behind lovable puppets). I’d guess we get at least a half of a season down before any cancellations happen.

‘Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One’ Eyes a Pair of Actors for Major Roles.

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

The world went a little nuts when director Gareth Edwards took the stage at Star Wars Celebration this past weekend to talk about the upcoming film Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One. Along with plot points, Edwards confirmed Felicity Jones as the only cast member. But things are changing.

It’s being rumored that Riz Ahmed, who was amazing alongside Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler, is in the cast of the first Star Wars Anthology film.

The Wrap is also reporting that Sam Claflin (from the last two Hunger Games flicks, Catching Fire and Mockingjay Part One) is a “frontrunner for one of the ensemble roles.” The website is also reporting that the rumored casting of Ben Mendelsohn is in the bag and a sure thing.

Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One will be a different film from all the other ones we’ve seen in a galaxy far, far away. Edwards has said that his film, which centers around the mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, will be more of a war movie than a sci-fi flick. It won’t focus on Jedi knights and lightsabers, instead it will tell the story of “a group of individuals who don’t have magical powers that have to somehow bring hope to the galaxy.”

Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One is set to storm theaters December 16, 2016.

Johnny Depp Terrifies as Whitey Bulger in the First Trailer for Scott Cooper’s ‘Black Mass’!

It certainly looks like Johnny Depp is out to silence his critics who claim that he’s forgotten how to act with his turn as Boston mobster, Whitey Bulger. Depp look absolutely terrifying in this first pitch perfect trailer for Scott Cooper’s upcoming film Black Mass.

Black Mass also stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Joel Edgerton, Dakota Johnson, Sienna Miller, Kevin Bacon, Peter Sarsgaard and Corey Stoll.

The film is set to open in September. Cooper attempted to shoot the film in as many of the actual locations as possible and it shows in the film. I can’t wait to see more on this one.

 

Synopsis:

In 1970s South Boston, FBI Agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) persuades Irish mobster James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp) to collaborate with the FBI and eliminate a common enemy: the Italian mob.  The drama tells the true story of this unholy alliance, which spiraled out of control, allowing Whitey to evade law enforcement, consolidate power, and become one of the most ruthless and powerful gangsters in Boston history.

Cast:

Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Bacon, Rory Cochrane, David Harbour, Dakota Johnson, , Sienna Miller,  Julianne Nicholson, Jesse Plemons, James Russo, Adam Scott, Corey Stoll, Juno Temple, W. Earl Brown, Bill Camp, Brad Carter, Jeremy Strong

Director:

Scott Cooper

Writers:

Screenplay by Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth

Based on the book by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill    

Producers:

Brian Oliver, Tyler Thompson, John Lesher, Patrick McCormick, Scott Cooper

Executive Producers:

Peter Mallouk, Ray Mallouk, Lauren Selig, Brett Granstaff, Gary Granstaff, Phil Hunt, Compton Ross, Brett Ratner, James Packer

                                     

 

 

Is this the Official Shortlist for Spider-Man Actors??

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

When Sony and Marvel Studios agreed to share Spider-Man, one of the conditions was that we were going to get a new actor under the mask. Just who it would be has been the source of much heated internet debate.

Well it looks like The Wrap has just reported who is on the short list for possible Spidey choices.

In the running are Nat Wolff (The Fault In Our Stars), Asa Butterfield (Ender’s Game), Liam James (The Way, Way Back), Tom Holland (The Impossible) and Timothee Chalamet (Showtime’s Homeland).

Things are so early that none of these actors have been officially offered a chance to test for the role, but that’s expected to happen within the upcoming weeks.

The report goes on to say that all the above named actors are “strong contenders who are definitlely in the mix.” All this means is that no one has the advantage over the others just yet.

Out of all of them, I like Liam James for this role. I loved his performance as Duncan in The Way, Way Back and think that he’d make a great Peter Parker.

What do you think IR faithful? Who would make a good Spider-Man? Who would make a better Peter Parker? let us know in the comments below!

What are Joss Whedon’s Plans After ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’?

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

Joss Whedon has been very instrumental in the success of the current Marvel Cinematic Universe. The writer / director brought us one of the greatest superhero movies of all times in The Avengers, helped shape the course of Phase Two and is just days away from taking over the United States when Avengers: Age Of Ultron hits theaters. So what does Whedon have planned next?

Sleep, apparently.

In an interview with IGN, Whedon had the following to say:

“I think having fulfilled that dream [of making superhero movies], I think I’m going to have to do something else…Have another dream, and that would mean sleeping.”

Joss Whedon is at the end of his three year contract with Marvel and has not signed another agreement. While he says that he won’t get too far away from it all, he has no immediate plans to return to the MCU anytime soon.

He feels he is leaving everything he helped create in good hands though. “[Kevin Feige is] not interested in making a formula,” says Whedon. “He’s interested in creating a universe. How long will he do it for? Erm, until he dies? He’s interested in creating new versions of the superhero movies – something that doesn’t fall into a pattern. So it’s going to be around for quite a while.”

The Russo Brothers have already proven themselves capable of taking the ball and running with it. After making the phenomenal Captain America: The Winter Soldier, currently working on the next CA film, Civil War and being tapped to direct the next two Avengers films, it looks like Marvel may have a plan after all.

And if all else fails, I’m sure they could find a way to lure the biggest fanboy of them all back into the fold.

J.K. Simmons in Search of his ‘Counterpart’

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

After winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Whiplash, what does J.K. Simmons do for an encore? He looks for his interdimensional twin, of course.

Simmons has signed on for the political sci-fi drama Counterpart for the Starz network. The series, described as “an espionage thriller with a metaphysical twist” has managed to get The Imitation Game director Morten Tyldum to helm the first two episodes. The series was created and will be written by Justin Marks, the scribe behind Disney’s upcoming Jungle Book live-action adaptation.

In Counterpart, Simmons will play Howard Silk, a cog in the political machine, working out his last years of a life filled with regret. Silk soon finds out that the U.N. agency that he’s working for has been keeping a huge secret – they’ve discovered a crossing point to a parallel dimension. The show will use Simmons’ characters (Silk and his ‘Counterpart’) to explore themes idealism, identity and the what-ifs of a life lived.

This sounds interesting. After just recently watching V/H/S Viral, I can’t help but think of Nacho Vigalando’s segment “Parallel Monsters.” I know this will be nothing like that, but it will be interesting to see Simmons take the lead on a show like this.

No release or production start dates were revealed as of yet.

A ‘Goon’ Sequel is Coming!

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

It looks like it’s time to lace up the skates again –  a sequel to the 2011 sports comedy Goon is almost set to start filming.

In an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session on Reddit, Seann William Scott was asked when he would drop the gloves and play the titular hockey brawler again. He said the following:

“Heh! Well, I did a bit of fight training for GOON. For GOON 2, I’ve been fight-training for the past month, and next month in May I start working with an MMA fighter, and then some skating (obviously, a lot of skating). We start shooting GOON 2 in mid-June, and if everybody does their jobs and we execute the amazing script that Jay and his co-writer wrote, the fucking movie would be wicked.”

The “Jay” in question is Jay Baruchel, who along with Evan Goldberg, wrote the first film. Director Michael Dowse, the man behind the camera for the first go round, was said to have been interested in returning for the sequel as early as 2012.

I really liked Goon. It was an interesting surprise of a film. My dad actually watched it with me and he never watches movies. He liked it almost as much as his favorite film Slap Shot. If that’s not a glowing recommendation I don’t know what is.

The original film, an homage to real-life hockey player Doug Smith, starred Scott as Doug Glatt, a kind-hearted but hard-hitting enforcer on the ice. The story sets up a nice rivalry between up-and-comer Glatt and Ross “The Boss” Rhea (played awesomely by Liev Schrieber), a fighter who’s time on the ice is coming to an end. Rhea seems to be looking for someone to pass the torch to as the next big “goon” in hockey, but he wants Glatt to earn it.

I’d like to see the sequel focus on something like that. Maybe Glatt is getting on in years and a young buck is looking to step into his shoes. Whatever kind of story we get, I’m excited either way.

The Next Star Trek to go Beyond

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

First we had Star Trek. Then the crew went Into Darkness. Now the crew of the Enterprise is set to go Beyond.

The website Trekmovie.com is reporting that the third installment in the sort-of rebooted franchise will be titled Star Trek Beyond.

I like the title. It makes sense much like the sequel title. In the second movie the crew went into some dark places, both in terms of the physical locations but also in regards to decisions that needed to be made that could have compromised their very souls. Fans were promised at the end of that installment a start to a voyage where no man has gone before…beyond the comfort zones of the first two films.

While many may think this title is just there to throw fans off the scent of the real title, it is being reported that Star Trek Beyond was recently registered with the MPAA.

Simon Pegg and Doug Jung are writing the script that director Justin Lin will work off of. The main cast members from the past two installments are expected to return along with newcomers Idris Elba and Sofia Boutella.

Star Trek Beyond is set to engage engines and warp into theaters July 16, 2016, the year the franchise celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Domhnall Gleeson Nabs Role in Tom Cruise Drug-Running Flick

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

It’s a good year to be Domhnall Gleeson. The actor has a star-making performance in Ex Machina, is currently filming with Leonardo DiCaprio in Birdman director Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu’s latest movie The Revenant and is in the hotly anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens which hits theaters this December. And it looks like the actor just scooped a little more onto his plate.

Variety is reporting that Gleeson is in talks to join Tom Cruise in his cartel drug-running film Mena. If he joins up, Gleeson would do so alongside Sarah Wright, who is also in talks for a part.

Mena is based on the story of Barry Seal, a TWA pilot that was recruited by the CIA to run recon missions in South America. Seal would find himself in charge of one of the largest covert CIA operations in its history. This op would lead to the creation of the Medellin cartel and almost bring about the downfall of the Reagan Administration in the White House due to the Iran Contra scandal.

The film is set to be directed by Doug Liman, who worked with Cruise on the sci-fi war film Edge of Tomorrow.

Steve Carrell and Emma Stone to Engage in a ‘Battle of the Sexes’

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

It looks like Steve Carrell and Emma Stone will be taking their differences to court…a tennis court that is.

The duo has signed on to play Bobby Riggs and Billy Jean King in the story of their 1973 male vs. female tennis match, dubbed the Battle of the Sexes, which will be directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Ferris for Fox Searchlight.

The movie, aptly title Battle of the Sexes, will center on Riggs and his challenge of female tennis players, calling them inferior. King decided to step up to the plate for the females and the two had a tennis match to decide which gender actually ruled the courts. The 29-year-old King beat the 55-year-old Riggs, claiming a victory for women everywhere.

Deadline is reporting that the film will be a “a comedy with dramatic and political overtones, handled in the quirky warm and engaging way that Little Miss Sunshine was.”

This isn’t the first time this story will be told. It was previously done in 2001 as a TV movie starring Holly Hunter and Ron Silver. And Battle of the Sexes is one of three films currently in the works about this subject. HBO Films has Paul Giamatti and Elizabeth Banks signed on for their Untitled project (Likely as Riggs and King respectively) while Will Ferrell is on board to play Riggs in the upcoming Match Maker.

No start or release date has been set, but early word is Fox Searchlight is looking ot start filming this fall for a 2016 theatrical release.