IR Interview: Jake Gyllenhaal & The Real Life Jeff Bauman Talk About Narcissism of Trailer Reaction Videos, Angering Family & ‘Stronger’

by: Jay Carlson – Editor-in-Chief

On April 15, 2015 Jeff Bauman tragically lost his legs as a result of the Boston Marathon bombing and then fought all obstacles to get back on his own two feet to become an inspiration for not only the city of Boston, but the entire country. Jake Gyllenhaal delivers one of his most powerful performances to date playing Jeff in David Gordon Green’s masterpiece chronicling Jeff’s heroic struggle, Stronger.

What follows below is an interview with both the real Jeff Bauman and his on screen counterpart, Jake Gyllenhaal from 9/12/17, the afternoon before the Boston premiere of their film.

 

Please note that this interview may be edited slightly for content and clarity.

Q: How much of Jeff’s story did you know before going into the film?

Jake Gyllenhaal: I really had only seen the photograph of Jeff initially before I had read the screenplay. So it was sort of in reverse order in this case. So really, it was just that image, which was a really a generalized image that was sent around via the media. I never thought that in a million years that our lives would intersect in the way that they have. Now you could probably ask me anything about the idiosyncrasies of his family and I’d probably have an answer, but at the time I just saw that image.

 

Q: So you and Jeff are pretty tight now?

JG: Yup. Unfortunately for him. That is true.

Jeff Bauman: I’m just happy you have a close friend.

JG: (Laughing) Yeah, I know. Whenever asked about my work and then my life, he always says that I have no life. Which is really… great. And no friends.

JB: One.

JG: Yeah, you’re right, I have one.

 

Q: How much time did you guys spend together before filming?

JG: I mean, we spent-

JB:-A year and a half. Right? Off and on. You were busy doing stuff and you’d come back to Boston and we’d chill and do things, hit comedy shows, go out to eat.

JG: Yeah. Pretty much, yeah. As we got closer to production we sort of set up camp here and we were here for about six months prior to filming. Since I was producing the movie as well, I was driving back and forth from New York. I live in New York. So I was going from New York to (Boston) every few days for about five months. In that period of time, as we were location scouting and we were doing all this other stuff… Casting and stuff like that, we’d go out to dinner, or we would hang out, or go out to Jeff’s house or whatever it would be. It would either be me and (Director) David Gordon Green going over to Jeff or Jeff coming to us, or me going out and seeing Jeff alone. But throughout all of it we always would text. And then, not to say he disappeared, but he disappeared in person when we were shooting. It was just sort of something that happened, but we would text all the time and then we came back into seeing each other more often after that.

 

Q: Was there any hesitation into turning this into a movie? Were you concerned with how people would see you or your family after this?

JB: I’m not really worried about people… how they see me, I guess. My family is tough. I’m not them. It’s like, where do I draw the line with their privacy? Where do we draw the line to keep the story truthful? I guess that’s probably the biggest challenge going into it. It’s like… Then how far can we go with it? Right now my mom’s kind of sore at me. She is, Ma Dukes is sore.

JG: She was psyched after the reviews came out. Then she was like, “I’m not so sore.”

JB: No, she’s so happy. She’s my mother, she wants me to be successful. But then she’s like, “My apartment is not that dirty.”

(Laughter)

JB: “Can you tell Miranda… why is my place so… why is there stuff everywhere?” She’s like, kind of immaculate and very meticulous in what she has in her apartment. It’s like OCD-ish. So she was really upset about that.

JG: With all the mess of the movie and the complications of (Jeff’s) personality and his family, but the profound love of all of them was what we were trying to get at. We knew there was a love there. This guy wouldn’t be here right now without all that love… From the city, from his family, from his friends that they just unquestionably gave him. It was without question and without doubt. But they are not without their complications and neither is he and that was important for us to show. Along with all the complications that come as a result of his injuries.

 

Q: Have the rest of your family and friends seen the film yet?

JB: Yes, most of them. There’s a lot of people coming tonight that haven’t seen it, so I’m excited for that, but it’s a rough story. It hits home to everybody. During this whole process, I’m an isolated kind of person. That’s why it’s probably so hard for Jake to crack who I was. To figure it out took a long time, because I don’t really open up. I was going through a rough time inside my head as you guys saw in the film. I was in a rough spot.

 

Q: Has this process been therapeutic for you?

JB: Yeah, in a way. I do a lot of public speaking now and go around and tell my story. I’ve been fortunate to do that and that has been really therapeutic, getting my story out there to a group of people and talking about it. That’s pretty cool. Definitely the movie has been really interesting. Not everybody has a movie made about them and it’s super interesting to be a part of it and to see what goes into it. Then to see the finished product, it makes even me cry. It makes me think about what I went through and where I am now. It’s like, alright I’m here I’m right where I need to be, with my daughter. That’s amazing. The whole thing is pretty surreal for me.

 

Q: How do you even prepare, physically and mentally for something like this?

JG: (Deep breath) Well, I think there are a number of thi- In truth, I don’t think there’s any real preparation, because the experience Jeff had, (to Jeff) You often say it’s like being sucker punched in a way. There’s not preparation for that experience, you know? All I can say is that the process that Jeff went through, in rehabilitation and even recovery initially, I tried to learn as much as I could about it. I tried to understand exactly what it’s like, what the surgeries are like. I’m not one to just goes, OK, I learned that Dr. Kalish, his doctor, did his amputations and that was it. There were a lot of other surgeries and the details of that. And the painkillers and even that suture scene. That came from us saying that we need to show how painful this is. There’s a lot of that and I just think that where you get an understanding is not just with Jeff, but it’s from the periphery. It’s from everyone around him. It’s from the layers of people that helped. It’s from their experience with other people who have been through trauma. It kind of goes very deep. So there’s a lot of research. There are a lot of talks. Dr. Kalish is in the movie. Odessa, his nurse, is in the movie. Michelle, his Physical Therapist, is in the movie. All of these people are in the movie, not because we always thought that we’d put these people in the movie, but because David Gordon Green and I had a meeting with Dr. Kalish to understand all the stuff he had to do and what Jeff was going through, and in the middle of it David couldn’t cast an actor who could do the doctor part that well. They just kept acting like a doctor and he turned to me and was like, “Hey, what if Dr. Kalish played the doctor?” So we had Dr. Kalish audition for the doctor and he was HORRIBLE.

(Laughter)

JB: He’s a great Surgeon.

(Laughter)

JG: Yeah. He couldn’t say the lines, but then we were like what if he just talks to my character like he would to any patient, the way he talked to Jeff and the way he talked to Jeff’s parents when he had to talk to them and tell them the news. Sure enough we shot the scene and there’s Miranda (Richardson) and Clancy (Brown), playing Jeff’s parents and Dr. Kalish walks in the room, just as he would walk in the room to tell Jeff’s (real) parents the same thing. And they respond that way. It wasn’t written. And the same thing in that suture scene. He’s just telling me how it goes and the nurses are walking around and talking to me the way they would talk to me normally. All of those people ended up in the movie and it’s a result of trying to understand and prepare myself for the situation.

 

Q: How does the dynamic work for you with the director as an actor and as a producer?

JG: Like, how do I relate to the director as an actor or do you mean how do I participate? Are you asking what is it the fuck that I actually do? (Laughter) Is that what you’re asking me in a much more articulate way? Like, why are you here?

 

Q: We were all wondering. But there had to be additional responsibilities as a producer.

JB: I could see it. He was all over me like a fuckin boss.

(Laughter)

JG: I know, I know. I have a lot of experience, I’ve been doing this for a while now. I’ve been an actor for a while now and I grew up in a family who happened to make films, so it’s a family business. And I love the other aspects of making movies besides acting. I’ve produced a couple of films but this is the first film that my company has produced. So there’s a lot at stake for me and (it’s) a really important story already, as is. But there’s other things at stake for me, you know? As a result I put my heart and my soul into it because this story needs to be told and not a lot of people would have made it and it was hard to get made. In terms of involvement, it was a 24/7 job. I didn’t have a day off for… a good year. As soon as we knew this film was going to get made me and my producing partner we scoffed at anybody who got a day off, because we certainly didn’t. I think the same thing with Todd Lieberman. The three of us and David Gordon Green… it hasn’t stopped and it doesn’t stop until this movie comes out and even then it won’t stop, you know? I was involved in almost every discussion every step of the way. This isn’t a vanity project for me. This is a project that has unluckily gotten my blood and sweat and tears and I’m a smelly guy. That’s just part of it but I love it. I love making movies.

JB: This isn’t a vanity project?

(Laughter)

JG: No, but I think people think that with actors producing movies and stuff like that. I would say the person that sacrificed the most to get this movie made is Todd Lieberman, the man who bought the rights to the book and developed it and brought (screenwriter) John Pollono on and made those first early and very difficult choices when certain people didn’t believe in it. We joined up and when we joined up we realized that movies like this don’t get made that often because… it’s just a changing world. But we knew in our hearts that it was a move that people would see and it needed to be told.

 

Q: How do you take a local story that might have success here in Boston and turn that into global success?

JG: Every story is a local story. Do you know what I mean? I mean, I don’t think Thor is a local story.

(Laughter)

JG: Unless you’re from Rock-in-ock or whatever the hell land he’s from, you know?

JB: You know what hit me? I was thinking that, but then we go to Toronto and twenty-eight hundred people stand and they clap. And so many have liked it and took something from it. I was thinking the same thing. How do we get out of Boston? I was scared about Toronto.

JG: I don’t think you guys realize what an inspiration you are. Maybe that’s what it is. I think maybe that’s the feeling and that’s a wonderful thing. I think there’s that thing in Boston, there’s a humility, but there’s also a strength and this small town nature, but it is global. His story is about anybody that is struggling, anybody who is in a  space and doesn’t feel like they can get out of it, anybody who has lost anything, you know? We are all struggling or know somebody that is struggling and Jeff said it on his Facebook page, It doesn’t have to make headlines to be hard. I think that’s the reason why this story is for anyone. It’s the reason why, at a certain point, that we have to go door to door. because this is the type of movie that we don’t have a lot of opportunity or budget to get it out there like a lot of movies. So, we are, we’re going door to door. I’m convinced that if I have to go to people’s houses and take them off the couch and drive them to the theater to see this story, I will do it.

JB: I will, too.

JG: We’re walking there together. Every time I tell his story… When this trailer came out it was so crazy. The response to this trailer all over the world… I was in Spain and people knew about that trailer. I went down a rabbit hole of watching trailer reactions. I can’t believe people film themselves watching trailers. It’s like amazing narcissism, but it’s like really incredible because I went down that crazy rabbit hole for like three hours.

This (one) girl I saw had thirty-eight followers on her YouTube page and she was like, “I have those wrist things on my wrist every once in a while and it’s because I have arthritis in my wrists and maybe you guys see those sometimes. Sometimes I have pain so bad that I don’t want to got outside, but something like this makes me realize that I can go outside.” That’s what Jeff brings out. You can get through to a better place than you thought you could. Even when you’re in the darkest place. I don’t see how that’s not everyone’s story.

 

Q: What was the first thing you said to Jake after seeing the film?

JG: I can tell you that, it was a text.

JB: Good job.

(Laughter)

JG: Yeah you did, you wrote good job. I was like, “WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT MEAN?!”

JB: Yeah, I said good job and went to sleep. For three days.

 

Q: Thanks guys, congrats on the film.

 

Stronger opens nationwide Friday, September 22.

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J.J. Abrams Directing ‘Star Wars: Episode IX’ – Release Date Changes to 12/20/19

by: Jay Carlson – Editor-in-Chief

It’s far from the most exciting news, but J.J. Abrams, the man responsible for introducing us to us Rey, Finn, Poe, Kylo Ren, Constable Zuvio, the lovable BB-8 and the dastardly Supreme Leader Snoke is stepping back behind the camera once again for Star Wars Episode IX. Abrams steps in for recently departed director Colin Trevorrow. While I think this is a good choice, (especially if this means Abrams has a little more time to work all of the story kinks out) it’s certainly not what many were hoping for, i.e. a woman or person of color (which is a valid criticism). Abrams will work with Oscar winning writer, Chris Terrio (Argo), on the script for Episode IX. Hopefully with Abrams collaborating the script ends up more like Argo and less like Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Abrams coming back in to the fold to complete the trilogy is exactly what Lucasfilm needs right now, a safe and known commodity whom they seem to trust. After all, he did deliver them the highest grossing film NOT directed by someone with the last name Cameron. After parting ways with Chris Lord and Phil Miller and now Trevorrow a few short months later, Lucasfilm is quickly developing a reputation as an unfriendly place for creatives, especially when you pair the (seemingly justifiable) firing of Josh Trank and sidelining Gareth Edwards in favor of Tony Gilroy to direct the re-shoots for Rogue One. Between Rian Johnson quietly putting the finishing touches on The Last Jedi, Ron Howard completing work on the Untitled Han Solo Film and Abrams now at work on Episode IX, they buy themselves quite a bit of time for the director controversy fires to die down.

I certainly had issues with The Force Awakens, it wasn’t a perfect film, it had warts and certain parts could certainly have been executed better, but ultimately it FELT like Star Wars in a way that the Prequel Trilogy never did. I’m honestly excited to see what Abrams is able to accomplish with this final film now that he and Johnson have set these characters on their respective paths.

Official Release:
J.J. Abrams, who launched a new era of Star Wars with The Force Awakens in 2015, is returning to complete the sequel trilogy as writer and director of Star Wars: Episode IX. Abrams will co-write the film with Chris Terrio. Star Wars: Episode IX will be produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Michelle Rejwan, Abrams, Bad Robot, and Lucasfilm.
“With The Force Awakens, J.J. delivered everything we could have possibly hoped for, and I am so excited that he is coming back to close out this trilogy,” said Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy.
Star Wars: Episode IX is scheduled for release on December 20, 2019.

Check Out the Details for the Star Wars AR Experience Dropping on Force Friday!

by: Jay Carlson – Editor-in-Chief

 

Hey All, Jay here. We’ve been out of commission for a bit but Indie Revolver is still alive and we’ll be back and better than ever before you know it!

Until then, I wanted to post about the cool thing that Lucasfilm is doing as part of Force Friday II. The full release is below, but basically they’ve created a global augmented reality (AR) event where you will have the opportunity to activate a unique AR experience featuring Star Wars characters, including fan-favorites and new surprise additions from the upcoming film. You’ll need to locate the “Find the Force” graphic at participating locations to reveal a character through the Star Wars app. Return each day September 1-3 to reveal a different character (15 in total over the three days).

It actually sounds pretty fun. I know we’ll all be bum rushing the shelves for the newest figures and merchandise to satiate our needs, but this sounds like a pretty fun thing to do once we’re all done throwing elbows to get at those newest Hasbro Black Series figures.

Full Release:

 

Star Wars Fans Invited to “Find the Force” As Unprecedented Augmented Reality Event Sweeps the Globe for

Force Friday II

Fans to reveal a new The Last Jedi character via social media

New product line for Star Wars: The Last Jedi launches globally at            12:01 AM September 1

More than 20,000 retail locations worldwide will become home to

augmented reality Star Wars characters from September 1-3

 

GLENDALE, Calif. (August 24, 2017) –  Following the global phenomenon of Force Friday in 2015, Disney and Lucasfilm today announced Find the Force, a global augmented reality (AR) event rolling out on Force Friday II (September 1) to commemorate the worldwide launch of new products inspired by Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

 

The pop-up AR treasure hunt aims to unite fans around the world in the battle against the dark side in a unique three-day event at over 20,000 retail locations across 30 countries. As fans turn up to take home new The Last Jedi products, they will have the opportunity to activate a unique augmented reality experience featuring Star Wars characters, including fan-favorites and new surprise additions from the film.

 

“Force Friday II is a major milestone in the countdown to Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Star Wars has always championed new technology, and we are excited that

augmented reality will allow fans to experience the universe in a whole new way,” says Kathleen Kennedy, President of Lucasfilm.

 

From September 1-3, retailers around the world will invite fans to Find the Force by taking part in an AR treasure hunt. Here’s how it works: first, download the Star Wars App, which is your one-stop-shop for all things Star Wars (those who already have the app will need to download the latest version). Then, visit any one of 20,000 participating retail locations to find a graphic that contains the Find the Force logo. When you scan the graphic using the Star Wars App, you’ll reveal a character, who through augmented reality, will appear in the room with you. You can then take photos, record videos, and share the experience on social media. Come back each day to reveal new characters

(15 in total across the program’s three-day run). Click here for more information: www.starwars.com/findtheforce.

 

“Force Friday II puts fans right at the center of the action using augmented reality to bring our characters to life like never before. The technology theme continues in the Star Wars: The Last Jedi product line, which is our most innovative yet – we can’t wait for fans to see what’s in store.” said Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media.

 

Fans can download the latest version of the Star Wars App (v. 2.3 or higher) beginning Aug. 24 for an early look at the new Porg characters in AR before the AR treasure hunt goes live at retail.

 

By sharing photos or videos featuring the in-store AR characters on Twitter or Instagram using #FindtheForce and #Sweepstakes throughout Force Friday II weekend, fans in select global markets can participate in a sweepstakes for the chance to win the ultimate fan experience: tickets to the Star Wars: The Last Jedi premiere in December.

 

No Purchase Necessary. Enter sweepstakes between August 31, 2017 at 7:00 a.m. Pacific Time (“PT”)/3:00 p.m. British Summer Time (“BST”) and September 4, 2017 at 2:59 a.m. PT/10:59 a.m. BST. Open to legal residents in 50 U.S. + D.C., Canada (excluding Quebec), Australia, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, France, South Korea and Chile who are 18+ or the age of majority in their place of residence, whichever is older. Limit 15 entries per person. There is 1 Grand Prize available to be won (ARV: US $4,500). Grand Prize winner must travel to Los Angeles, California USA on or about December 12, 2017. Visit starwars.com/findtheforce. for Official Rules including details on how to enter, additional eligibility requirements, prize descriptions and limitations. Void where prohibited. Sponsor: The Walt Disney Company (Australia) Pty. Limited, Level 5, Chapel Street, South Yarra, Victoria 3141, Australia.

 

More information about Find the Force and a how-to video is available at www.starwars.com/findtheforce.

 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens in U.S. theaters on December 15, 2017.

 

About Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media

Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media (DCPI) is the business segment of The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) that brings our Company’s stories and characters to life through innovative and engaging physical products and digital experiences across more than 100 categories, from toys and t-shirts, to apps, books and console games. DCPI comprises four main lines of business: Global Licensing, Disney Retail, Publishing and Digital Media, and Games, Apps, and Labs. The segment is home to world-class teams of app and game developers, licensing and retail experts, a leading retail business (Disney Store), artists and storytellers, and technologists who inspire imaginations and bring the magic of Disney into the daily lives of families and fans around the world.

 

About Lucasfilm Ltd.

Lucasfilm Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is a global leader in film, television and digital entertainment production. In addition to its motion-picture and television production, the company’s activities include visual effects and audio post-production, cutting-edge digital animation, interactive entertainment software, and the management of the global merchandising activities for its entertainment properties including the legendary STAR WARS and INDIANA JONES franchises. Lucasfilm Ltd. is headquartered in northern California.

 

Lucasfilm, STAR WARS and related properties are trademarks and/or copyrights, in the United States and other countries, of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. © & TM Lucasfilm Ltd.

Jay Talks to Writer/Director/Actor Zoe Lister-Jones About Her New Film Band Aid, All Female Crews and Why Comedic Actors Are Probably More Talented

by: Jay Carlson – Editor-in-Chief

In the new film Band Aid, writer/director/star Zoe Lister-Jones tackles the real-life issues that can plague even the best of relationships, from loss to dirty dishes being left in the sink and everything in between. When we’re first introduced to Anna (Lister-Jones) and Ben (Adam Pally) it feels like we might have a front row seat to the end. They’re imploding quickly, with every little argument starting as a tributary connecting to a much bigger argument. The couple eventually embraces their shared love of playing music and rather than fight, they begin to take their peccadilloes and craft them into songs in order to heal their strained relationship. The result is a very funny and touching film, that gets everything right about the lows and highs of being in a real relationship.

I was able to sit down with Lister-Jones and her producer Natalia Anderson to discuss the film and we get into some fun areas, like the energy on an all-female set, why comedic actors tend to be the most versatile and my super neat handwriting. Band Aid expands to even more cities and theaters today!

The following interview has been edited for content and clarity.

Jay: What question are you already tired of answering? I probably have a page of them here.

Zoe Lister-Jones: (Looking at my notebook) Wow, you have such neat handwriting. Very impressive.

Jay: Don’t ask me to write anything in cursive. It’s all downhill from here.

Lister-Jones: I don’t want to make you take away questions. This is part of your job.

Jay: It’s fine. Which ones are you tired of?

Lister-Jones: I guess, probably, how did you come up with the story?

(At this point I took my pen and crossed off the first question on the page)

Lister-Jones: (Laughs)

Jay: Was the intention always that Band Aid would be your directorial debut?

Lister-Jones: When I first started writing it I did not know that I was going to direct it. The writing process was relatively quick; I wrote it in a few months. Then I started taking it to some producers and my (own) producer hat thought, “I don’t know if I’ll be able to get this made with me as the director,” because I was untested. I think as I went through that process I more and more understood that it was something that I really did want to direct and I didn’t really care if that meant that closed certain doors for me. I was willing to take the risk on myself (laughs).

Jay: Was there ever any concern balancing the tone of the film? There’s a lot of comedy along with a lot of drama AND the music aspect as well.

Lister-Jones: I wouldn’t say it was tough. It was intentional. I think the movies I respond to most are ones that can navigate both comedy and drama. I think that so much comedy is rooted in drama anyway. I think that there’s much more bleed over than people might expect. I think tonally I did have to ride that line as a director and make sure that we weren’t going too broad or too dark, but I also didn’t want to limit myself and be afraid to go too dark. I think I just wanted to portray Anna and Ben’s relationship authentically, which spans the gamut in terms of emotions.

Jay: I thought it struck a really nice balance between those heartfelt and the comedic. There were some moments that felt a broad but they felt earned.

Lister-Jones: Thanks.

Jay: It seems that comedic actors who take on dramatic roles tend to be much more successful at it than dramatic actors who take on comedic roles. What do you think the difference is?

Lister-Jones: I think comedy is really hard. I think that comedy requires timing, which I think is something that you born with. (laughs) Or at least something that you have to cultivate throughout a lifetime. It’s not something that you can turn on and off. I think that most comedians turned to comedy and cultivated a sense of timing in order to move through pain. I think that those two emotional subsets intersect much more often in comedians than necessarily a person who is a dramatic actor. Not to say that there aren’t dramatic actors who are good at comedy. I think it’s easier to… There’s like a school of acting in dramas where you can just kind of mumble and have a glazed over stare… (laughing) and people will buy it. In comedy you can’t, there’s no faking it. You’re either funny or you’re not. I think that comedies as a genre are much harder to make than dramas. Again, I think a drama has a lot more leeway to… I don’t know, live in non-spaces for huge swaths of time. I think comedy relies on story that’s much more muscular and performances that are much more muscular.

Jay: Did you approach Adam Pally and Fred Armisen because they had a musical background? I know Fred has one, I wasn’t sure about Adam. 

Lister-Jones: No. Adam, I went after him because I thought he was a really good actor and really funny. In the few times I met him we vibed and so I thought we would have good chemistry on screen. I foolishly, when I offered him the part I didn’t even know that he played guitar, which should have been a prerequisite. I just ended up lucking out that he could play guitar, and very well. Fred, I knew, played the drums. That was because Adam and I were not professional and legitimate musicians, although he’s very good. The drummer is obviously the backbone of a band. So, we really needed someone who knew what they were doing and Fred did.

Jay: How much did your own experience as an actor aid you as a director? As an actor were you observing and trying to pick things up from other directors while working on their sets?

Lister-Jones: Totally. I had written and produced and starred in three features before Band Aid and I think that was a great sort of boot camp, in terms of adding the director hat to the fray. I think that writing and producing have a lot of elements that intersect with the skillset required for a director. I think as an actor, yeah it’s an asset, because I was constantly interacting with directors and seeing what worked and what didn’t as an actor. That’s the key relationship, between director and an actor in order to shape a performance. So much of that is about the way that a director communicates to his or her actors. So I think that, yeah that definitely I was very much aware of in my career as an actor.

Jay: How tough is the transition moving from writing and acting to doing all of those other roles on a film set?

Lister-Jones: Surprisingly, it wasn’t that tough. I credit that to my producer (motioning to her left to the woman sitting next to her at the table) Natalia Anderson and my crew. I think the beauty of being a director is that, while you do need to have a singular vision, it is such a collaborative process. To me, that makes it all the more fulfilling. I felt so supported and encouraged and I just felt like the exact artistic community I had been seeking, where it didn’t feel like, “Oh no, I have all this weight on my shoulders.” I’ve got a little more weight on my shoulders, but it’s shared by so many people and all those people were sharing it with love. Not to get too woo woo, but there was a huge element of love on set.

Jay: How much of that was due to your all female crew?

Lister-Jones: I think a lot of it has to do with the female crew. I think that there was an electricity on set because we all knew we were doing something that hadn’t been done before and I think that that was exciting. I think that because so many of these female crew members are, for the most part, either the only woman on a set or one of a very few that there was something really exciting and inspiring about working in this specific community of women.

Jay: How did Adam and Fred react to being so vastly outnumbered for the first time?

Lister-Jones: They LOVED it. They loved it and both of them were like, “I want to do this on all of my future projects.” In fact, yesterday when I was with Adam he was like, “I don’t want to work with men ever again on crews.” Which I would never say and I do love working with many men. I think for Adam and Fred, Adam especially, he was the only man on set and that was like a dream come true to be surrounded by lovely, caring women. He, more than anybody… it was interesting to hear his reactions day by day. He was kind of like the experiment, he was the biggest experiment of all. He, as a producer, would go and visit his other sets on other productions and would come back and be like, “It’s so different on other sets, guys! I never realized it before but it’s such a different energy.” I think most actors when they’d come on set for the first time would immediately acknowledge the energetic shift that they were feeling. Then, when we wrapped it was really interesting because we had kind of been living in this utopia and our A.D. texted me and said, “I’m on my next project and we’re on a location scout and I’m the only woman.” It was kind of like, yeah I think there’s a lot of talk right now about how much is shifting. It’s pretty bleak still. I think that part of the energy of love and collaboration was fueled by the fact that we all really appreciated this opportunity.

Jay: How difficult is it to craft a performance when you’re the director and not getting someone else’s feedback?

Lister-Jones: I actually love it. (Laughing) Maybe that’s not a great thing to admit. My favorite directors are ones that generally leave me alone and then come in and shape things that are very specific and are generally after I’ve tried it a couple different ways. For me, a red flag when I’m working with a director is when they come in and give me direction before I’ve even spoken, or directors that micro manage. Especially in comedy, it’s the death of whatever comedic beat you’re trying to get. So, I loved being left alone and I think that as an actor, especially as a working actor, I’ve been auditioning for so long now that that process is so much about self-directing that you really do work that muscle of understanding how to break down a scene or an entire screenplay, in terms of your character’s emotional arcs. I did always have Natalia at monitor if I ever had a question, like, “Did that seem too big?” For the most part it really felt organic to the process. I know from my previous experiences as a producer and writer and being in the editing room a lot on my previous features to just give a lot of variations so that they have a lot to work with in post (production).  For me, I was just constantly doing that, just different shapes and sizes throughout, so that when I was finally able to watch my performance I wouldn’t be confident that I have a variety of things to pull from.

Jay: What was the toughest part of making this film that you didn’t see prior to starting?

Lister-Jones: Honestly, and I know this sounds like a lie, I never had a moment where I was like, “This is going to break me, this is really overwhelmingly tough.” I think that, again, is a credit to Natalia. I think that my crew was really protective of me because they knew how much I had on my shoulders as an actor. They were so kind to only come to me in a dire circumstance, but especially in scenes that were emotionally draining or challenging, they made me feel really protected. I’d say that’s a credit to my crew. I think that in choosing my crew, that was a really big part of my intention. What I had learned on other sets that had been really challenging in the past was when there was a clashing of egos and crew members getting aggressive or in the ways that crew members can react and conflict, especially as a child of divorce, that sends me into a tailspin. I just wanted to make sure the crew was always happy and that they were always getting along. I gave a sort of state of the union on the first day that was about what this project meant to me and what I wanted to impress upon the crew, not a mandate but energetically that this is a set that needs to be fueled by love and needs to be fueled by supporting everybody. If someone who is not in your department needs help, give them a hand. I think that made our days go quicker, but also that sense of support and comradery is worth its weight in gold.

Jay: Which do you find preferable, playing music live and getting an immediate reaction to your work or making a film that can take a very long time between the work on the day and people actually seeing and reacting?

Lister-Jones: Playing music in front of people is the scariest thing I’ve probably ever done. When I was in high school or college I was so drunk that I don’t think I ever remembered (laughing) quite how scary it was. But I also never played an instrument, I was always just signing. And even then I was just kind of talk signing. The stakes were low, but I learned bass for this film. That, for me, is the scariest part, playing bass live and being part of a rhythm section where you have to stay on a beat and sing in key. Those things scare me live. I did a lot of theater in New York, on Broadway and off Broadway before I moved out to L.A. I think that doing comedy in front of a live audience, not a taped live audience because those people are being forced to laugh, but on stage is one of the hardest things. Ever. To have that immediate response of whether or not you’ve landed a joke can either be so exhilarating or just crushing and it’s really hard to recover when you’ve put yourself out there with some big joke or take and it just lays flat. So I personally like to shape a performance until I think it’s perfect and then deliver it to an audience. We played live at Sundance and while both Adam and I were shitting our pants, it was really exhilarating.

Jay: Which of your performers surprised you the most?

Lister-Jones: I hadn’t seen Fred Armisen do anything that was dramatic. He’s never fully dramatic in the film but he does have some moments that are really grounded and I was really impressed with him in that regard. Obviously I knew that he was going to be funny as hell. Adam’s musicianship really impressed me. I didn’t expect it. He was very humble about it and it continues to impress me. And Jesse Williams, I have to say, was SO funny. He improvised so much. There was so much gold in there that we just couldn’t fit into the movie, but he’s hilarious.

Jay: What’s next?

Lister-Jones: I have a project that’s coming up in my next hiatus that I want to write, direct and star in. But I can’t talk about it just yet. Stay tuned.

Jay: Thank you for the time and best of luck with Band Aid.

Lister-Jones: Thank you so much. That was awesome.

 

 

The New ‘Thor Ragnarok’ Trailer is a Contender

 

In Marvel Studios’ “Thor: Ragnarok,” Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok—the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization—at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela. But first he must survive a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against his former ally and fellow Avenger—the Incredible Hulk!

“Thor: Ragnarok” is directed by Taika Waititi and returns Chris Hemsworth starring as Thor and Tom Hiddleston reprising his role as Loki. They are joined by Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson and Karl Urban, with Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Hopkins.

Kevin Feige is producing with Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Brad Winderbaum, Thomas M. Hammel and Stan Lee serving as executive producers. The screenplay is by Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost and Stephany Folsom and Eric Pearson.  Marvel Studios’ “Thor: Ragnarok” thunders into U.S. theaters on November 3, 2017.

Star Wars: Episode VIII is Now Star Wars: The Last Jedi!

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by: Jay Carlson – Editor-in-Chief

We’ve all been waiting for some official news to drop by way of a trailer or title reveal for some time now and today we have the official title for Rian Johnson’s upcoming middle chapter to the Sequel Trilogy: Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Johnson’s production shot under the title of Space Bear and the crew even sported some pretty rad caps adorned with the Space Bear and the Roman Numeral VIII on the back. (Hit me up if you have one to sell, because I NEED one :))

I have to say, the title certainly effective, my gears immediately got cranking over the implications of such a title. Is this in reference to Luke Skywalker being the last? Does this mean the Jedi are done and a new order will rise from the Jedi Order? Will Rey be the first of something new, or is she The Last Jedi? Something else to consider is that the title doesn’t necessarily have to be in reference to a single Jedi, as Jedi can also be used as a plural.

Aside from the actual title, we also have the official logo to consider. The logo has abandoned the usual yellow outline of Star Wars for a red one, which is quite foreboding when paired with the official title. We can expect that we’ll see the First Order rebounding  from where we last saw them in The Force Awakens since The Last Jedi is our middle chapter in the sequel trilogy. Within a typical trilogy structure, the middle film leaves the protagonist in a dark place, setting up the resolution for the culminating film. The Empire Strikes Back saw Luke losing a hand, finding out Vader was his father and Han Solo frozen in carbonite and taken away by Boba Fett.

We’ll have to debate the implications of the title and logo until we know more. I can’t wait to see what Johnson has up his sleeve!

Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi will hit theaters December 15, 2017.

Let’s Help Raise Money For War-Torn Syrian Refugees, Donate For A Chance To Win A Signed Rogue One Poster!

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by: Joshua Outred

As many of you are aware, the conflict in Syria has become one of the worst humanitarian crisis’ of our time. With hundreds of thousands killed, and many left homeless with nowhere to go, children and families have become displaced and are desperately trying to find some peace in their lives again.

As temperatures in Syria reach desperately cold levels, refugees who have escaped the brutal conflict now face another struggle for survival. Clambering around fires thrown together in old barrels, children clasp to any warmth they can get, with only the clothes on their backs to help keep them warm, a truly heartbreaking image and one that is more real than we like to imagine.

Many celebrities have banded together with humanitarian organizations and charities to help raise money for workers on the ground to continue their selfless support of the thousands of displaced families. One celebrity, Riz Ahmed, who played the brave and courageous Bodhi Rook in Rogue One has been one of these celebrities supporting this humanitarian crisis. Today, Riz Ahmed announced another way fans of Star Wars and his can help; by donating a minimum of $10 to Crowdrise.com you would not only help in providing much needed medical aid, and food for refugees, you could also be in with a chance to win fantastic prizes. By donating $30, you will be entered into win a Rogue One poster signed by the cast!

It warms my heart to see people from all over the world come together to help those in the most unimaginable situations, Star Wars and pop culture has always been an incredible platform to do this from, and it’s amazing to see what Riz Ahmed is doing! So help us help those in need, and donate for a chance to win a signed Rogue One poster and other great prizes. Follow the link below to donate, and thank you so much for helping those in need!

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT A GREAT CAUSE!

If you’d like to help further, there are a number of incredible organizations that do amazing work every day to bring aid to displaced refugees, whose lives have been torn apart by the horrendous civil war in Syria. I’ve added a few links below, so if you would like to continue supporting, please do! And again, thank you!

The Trailer For The Belko Experiment Looks FUCKING BANANAS!

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On March 17, it’s kill or be killed.

In a twisted social experiment, a group of 80 Americans are locked in their high-rise corporate office in Bogata, Colombia and ordered by an unknown voice coming from the company’s intercom system to participate in a deadly game of kill or be killed.

The Belko Experiment stars John Gallagher Jr., Tony Goldwyn, John C. McGinley and Michael Rooker.

It’s Morphin Time! Check Out the Shiny New Power Rangers Trailer!

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SABAN’S POWER RANGERS follows five ordinary teens who must become something extraordinary when they learn that their small town of Angel Grove — and the world — is on the verge of being obliterated by an alien threat. Chosen by destiny, our heroes quickly discover they are the only ones who can save the planet. But to do so, they will have to overcome their real-life issues and before it’s too late, band together as the Power Rangers.

SUPERNERD RETURNS!! AND HE BROUGHT HIS YEAR END LIST ALONG WITH HIM!

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by: S. Scott Stanikmas – Senior Staff Writer

Here we are once again at the end of another year. And even though I haven’t been as active as I’d like in the past, the IndieRevolver Supernerd is back with his look at the top films of 2016!

Last year I had a  list of 89 films over the course of a calendar year to pick from. For a guy with a regular Monday-through-Friday “banker’s hours” job (who also tried to fit in family and the occasional trip to the gym) I thought that was pretty good. But there were so many other films that I missed and in that my list felt…inadequate. So I made a promise to see even more films to give my list a more well-rounded feel.

That task has been accomplished. From January 1 up to December 31, 2016 I managed to eke in 212 films. How? I pretty much ignored my family, skipped the gym and spent every weekend watching something. Sleep? I’ll sleep when I’m dead!

If you’d like to see my complete breakdown of films and grades, drop an email to IndieRevolver or tweet at him or me (@IR_Supernerd) and we might just put it up for you to see how I spent my 2016.

As always I’m writing this from the common fan’s perspective. What does that mean? It means that I paid for each and every movie on my list in some way. Whether it was buying a ticket at my local theater (or some that I had to drive over an hour to get to), buying a Blu-Ray or ordering something on VOD, every movie was paid for out of my own wallet. So if I don’t like something you’re damn right I’m going to give it the grade it deserves. On the other hand there were quite a few films that I saw multiple times in theater AND bought the physical home media for. Why? They were that damn good (and quite a few of those are on this year’s best of list).

And let’s get to that list shall we, instead of me rambling on. We’ll begin with my award for the biggest turkey of the year…

 

WORST FILM OF THE YEAR

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It’s easy to write a Worst Of list. People love to read them (I’m guilty as charged on that). But social media recently has made me rethink my stance on the Worst Of list. I won’t waste my time running down a bunch of films that we all know were bad. And if you liked what I didn’t now you feel alienated. So I’ll just stick with one film. The only film this year that I gave a F / 0-star rating to:

KNIGHT OF CUPSI’ve had the argument with people that it’s beautifully shot and the cinematography is gorgeous. But it takes more than just pretty pictures to keep me engaged. This film, with it’s scattershot story and barely comprehensible plot, was the only film that made me wish I’d done something else with my two hours. Terrence Malick might get away with stuff like this these days because of his name, but I’m probably going to skip his next cinematic offering when it comes out.

Enough negativity. Time for…

 

BEST FILMS OF THE YEAR

Let’s start with some Honorable Mentions (really good films that just didn’t make the top cut and in no particular order):

 

MOANA Beautifully animated. Catchy songs. Stellar performances. You really can’t ask for more from Disney.

 

THE HOLLARSFrom director John Krasinski (who also starred) will have you laughing and crying – sometimes at the same time.

 

THE JUNGLE BOOK This was my top film for about two months (my how things change). Great adaptation of the animated classic and the best CGI I’ve seen all year.

 

SING STREETTry to see this and not smile. Impossible. A story that’s relatable on the most basic of levels (trying to find yourself and where you fit in) combined with a soundtrack of earworm songs that you’ll be signing for days make this a must see.

 

Now, the final countdown…
arrival

  1. ARRIVALAn impressive piece of science fiction. The ending will haunt you for days and make you wonder how you’d play things out if you were in the same boat. Director Denis Villeneuve has proven he can handle any genre thrown at him. Stellar performances from Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner make this an easy rewatch for years to come.

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  1. DOCTOR STRANGEMy second favorite Marvel solo origin (behind Captain America: The First Avenger), Doctor Strange introduced us to the mystic side of the MCU and has now opened the doors for many different possibilities. With characters who were neither fully good or wholly bad, the shades-of-grey characterization will do well for the (hopefully) many future installments of the Master of the Mystic Arts.

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  1. THE LITTLE PRINCEIf there was one movie that got the shaft this year it was Mark Osborne’s The Little Prince. Dropped by distributing studio Paramount weeks before it’s U.S. debut in March, the gorgeously animated tale was picked up by Netflix and made available in August. Adapting the the original tale into a framing device and using it as a parable for teaching children about death and being able to let go, this may be my favorite animated film not just of this year, but of all time. When you can get my Mom and me crying over the same movie, you’ve got something special.

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  1. HELL OR HIGH WATERA pulpy western of the best kind, Hell Or High Water starts off with it’s foot pushing the pedal all the way down and never letting up. Violent and stylish, Ben Foster, Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges all put in Academy Award worthy performances.

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  1. MANCHESTER BY THE SEABrutal and heartbreaking, Kenneth Lonergan’s latest offering is one of the realest films about grief that you’re likely to find. Anchored by a heartbreaking performance by Casey Affleck (with one of the best Massachusetts accents since he was in Gone Baby Gone), this is one of the saddest and most genuine films of the last year.

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  1. ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORYNot just a great Star Wars movie but a great movie in general, Rogue One lived up to the hype. Much like it’s team of rebels, this film needed every actor working in sync to achieve its ultimate success – and that happened in spades. Proof that you don’t need the “Skywalker Saga” to have a successful Star Wars film.

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  1. LA LA LANDDirector Damien Chazelle’s love letter to the old-school musical, La La Land is chock full of great music and snazzy dance numbers. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone shine as Sebastian and Mia, singing and dancing their way through a tumultuous year together that sees as many downs as there are ups. With a bittersweet ending that just feels right, you’ll be singing and dancing your way back to your car after the credits roll.

handmaiden

  1. THE HANDMAIDENThe South Korean crime drama from director Park Chan-wook has more twists and turns than I expected. What starts out as a regular hustle of a wealthy heiress turns out to be much more layered and complex than most crime capers out there. As the double-cross turns into a triple-cross turns into a free-for-all, you’ll want to watch it all over again just to see if you can catch all the little nuances and clues left behind.

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  1. MOONLIGHTOne of this year’s most rewarding films, director Barry Jenkins has crafted a beautiful love story in the unlikeliest of places. Focusing on Chiron – and to an extent Kevin – over three pivotal moments of his life, Moonlight is more than just a story about a person discovering who he is and what love can be. It transcends the regular definitions of masculinity and gives you hope for finding the person that completes you.
Marvel's Captain America: Civil War Spider-Man/Peter Parker (Tom Holland) Photo Credit: Film Frame © Marvel 2016

Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War
Spider-Man/Peter Parker (Tom Holland)
Photo Credit: Film Frame
© Marvel 2016

  1. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WARAs a standalone film Civil War is pretty spectacular. Taken into context with everything that’s come before it and it becomes a monumental achievement. Tying together storylines going all the way back to 2008 and the start of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain America: Civil War manages to not only weave together various dangling plot threads from previous films and juggle an already established cast of almost a dozen superheroes but introduce a couple new players to the board and give you an effective villain that makes sense in his motivation (even if his plot was overly complicated in the long run). I just rewatched this before finalizing my list and feel that yes, Captain America: Civil War was the top film of 2016.

 

So there you have it folks. After 212 films I’m a little tired. But was it worth it worth it? I wouldn’t change a thing.

Agree? Disagree? Did I leave a film off that you loved or rank something too high or too low? Sound off in our comments or drop me a line on Twitter. I’m always up for an educated debate.
Until next year, this has been Supernerd. See you at the movies!!

John Wick GOES OFF in the Newest Trailer For ‘John Wick Chapter 2’

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He’s back. Check out the new trailer for JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 – in UK cinemas February 17, 2017, starring Keanu Reeves, Common, Laurence Fishburne, Ruby Rose, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane and directed by Chad Stahelski.

In this next chapter following the 2014 hit, legendary hitman John Wick [Keanu Reeves] is forced back out of retirement by a former associate plotting to seize control of a shadowy international assassins’ guild. Bound by a blood oath to help him, John travels to Rome where he squares off against some of the world’s deadliest killers.

 

Check out the First Footage From Blade Runner 2049!

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by: Jay Carlson – Editor-in-chief

Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.

 

When news broke that after many years of conversation Blade Runner 2049 was officially a go I was against it. Blade Runner ranks among my favorite films of all time. Part of what makes that film so special for me was the ambiguity of its ending. My kneejerk reaction was to shut down the prospect of a sequel, because it would undo everything I love about the original film. Harrison Ford was going to be back so it would have to demystify everything I loved about the world of Blade Runner. Blade Runner 2049 would have to definitively tell you if Deckard was a replicant, right?

What if it didn’t?

I started thinking about how you bring Harrison Ford back to futuristic Los Angeles without messing up what made Ridley Scott’s film a flawed masterpiece. Then it occurred to me. The best way to approach Harrison Ford’s character in Blade Runner 2049 is to make him a replicant.

“But Jay, I thought you just said you liked the ambiguity of the original film.”

I did. But follow along…

The best way to handle the character of Rick Deckard in Blade Runner is to leave that character in the first film. His story ends when those elevator doors shut. What happened after that? Who knows? Was he a replicant? Maybe. Maybe not. It’s whatever you want it to be.

The character Harrison Ford plays in BR 2049 should be a replicant. It preserves the character established in the first film. If you thought he was a replicant and Gaff knew his dreams, he can be a replicant. If you believe he was a human who ran off with an android that he fell in love with, he did. Our Harrison Ford in BR 2049 can be a whole different character. He can be a replicant based on the human Blade Runner we met in the original film. Or maybe he’s another replicant in a long line of Deckard replicants. Pretty cool, right? The important part is this film doesn’t need to answer the questions that the first film asked viewers to answer for themselves.

Deckard the replicant could also open up a very cool plot for BR 2049. Imagine a world where Harrison Ford is the “skin job” on the run, with Ryan Gosling tasked to retire him? That idea makes me positively giddy. Maybe Deckard 2.0 is a replicant who has a human’s lifespan. This is the future, after all.

After coming to the realization that Blade Runner 2 doesn’t  have to ruin what I loved about Blade Runner I am REALLY excited to see what story Villeneuve plans to tell in BR 2049.

Granted this trailer doesn’t tell us much, but I fear they may have gone a little two dimensional with the approach, especially based off of the synopsis released above. It frankly sounds like the plot of The Force Awakens with mixed with the plot to Total Recall (another film based on a Philip K. Dick story). I have ridiculous expectations for this film, my love of Blade Runner rivals my love of Star Wars. I’m really hoping Villeneuve is able to make something really special that stands up proudly next to Ridley Scott’s original film. He’s been knocking everything out of the park for the past few years. If anyone can make worthy sequel it’s him. (If you haven’t already seen it, get out there and see Arrival)

Blade Runner 2049 is set to open 10.6.17

Review – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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by: Jay Carlson – Editor-in-Chief

They didn’t lie. Rogue One was certainly a Star Wars Story and a pretty damn good one at that. Equal parts thrilling, dark and hopeful.

The concept is brilliant, focusing an entire film on the theft of the plans to the Death Star which served as the impetus of A New Hope, the very first Star Wars film. It’s such an important detail, but one that most probably never gave a second thought to. Credit to John Knoll for spotting that seed and Gary Whitta for developing a story and creating a whole crew of characters that are new but feel quite right in the Star Wars universe.

First off, fans can breathe a sigh of relief.  The widely reported reshoots do not impact the viewing experience. Rogue One is not a damaged, incoherent film in any way. Is it a perfect film? No. But that doesn’t mean that anything is broken. My complaints after one viewing are all fairly small.

From the get-go we know that this is not our typical Star Wars film. Sure, it begins with the usual “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….” but missing is the subsequent text crawl that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in every other Star Wars film previously. This was an inspired decision, one that subconsciously disorients the viewer and puts them in a position they’ve never been in with a Star Wars film before. We have zero idea of where we’re being dropped in the Star Wars universe. We’re not entering with the big picture having just been spoon fed to us. Anything is possible. This is followed by a VERY Star Wars moment, a ship in outer space. But this familiar opening is subverted since we find ourselves in a flashback, a first in Star Wars cinematic history (Rey’s force vision in The Force Awakens is not a flashback). It’s like they’re kinda, sorta playing by the rules, but not. Until I was sitting there watching it unfold, I hadn’t realized how much I’d gotten used to the way a Star Wars film is presented. It was exciting to be in that universe and have things be just a little bit different and not knowing what to expect.

The plot of Rogue One focuses on Jyn Erso, played by Felicity Jones. Jyn is tough as nails as a result of what she’s seen and how she was raised. She is stoic, even when over her head but there’s a vulnerability that Jones brings to the character that adds an important dimension. But make no mistake, as much as the film hinges on Jyn’s story, this film is an ensemble piece and they’ve assembled a very deep bench of talented and diverse actors and actresses unseen thus far in any Star Wars film, which is great news. There is representation for nearly everyone in the film and it never feels gimmicky or forced.

Most intriguing among them is Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor.  Andor is man of mystery, a character who operates in the gray area, doing bad things for a good cause. He is a means to an end and a character we haven’t seen the likes of before in any Star Wars film, a dark character in a world without much hope. Andor is another example of the way that Rogue One separates itself apart from past Star Wars films. A good guy has never been this bad before. In the other films the characters are either white hats or black hats. (This is where some will bring up Anakin. It’s very different because Anakin was never doing bad things for altrusitic reasons) That is not the case in Rogue One. People who had reservations about Han shooting first are likely to take umbrage with Andor and his actions early in the film. I’ve heard people refer to Cassian Andor as the Han Solo of Rogue One. He’s not. People have a tendency to put characters in a bucket with one of the others that have come before. It’s a mistake and a disservice to well written characters to do this. Han Solo is a fast talking, charming smuggler, which is the polar opposite of Andor, who is a (seemingly) cold and calculating soldier doing whatever it takes for the rebellion.

Also of note is Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Îmwe, stealing nearly every scene he’s in with his daredevil-like fighting prowess and zen-like optimism. Chirrut is the closest thing we have to a Jedi in Rogue One. I wouldn’t want to spoil his backstory but suffice to say this is with good reason. Also noteworthy is Ben Medelsohn as Orson Crennic who delivers a chilling performance, making me wish we’d gotten this same intensity from Domhnall Gleeson’s General Hux in The Force Awakens.

Star Wars fans have come to expect that we’ll have multiple films to explore new characters and that is Rogue One’s real problem. I wanted more time with characters like Cassian Andor, Jyn Erso, Saw Gerrera and Chirrut Îmwe. I wanted to see these characters journey prior to Rogue One. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the plot of Rogue One is utilitarian and has to operate at breakneck speed from the very beginning. The plot is literally life or death and there is precious little time to stop and smell the roses, which I appreciated. But the result is that the time we have with these characters feels truncated and left me wanting more. I’m sure that we’ll be getting a lot more of these characters via novels and comics and all the other avenues that Disney have in their arsenal for fans to get their Star Wars fix, but none of it is a suitable replacement for writers, actors and filmmakers all collaborating to bring a performance to life onscreen.

Going in, I was especially worried with how they were going to use Darth Vader in this film after early rumors indicated that we might see Vader in heavy action. It wouldn’t make sense that the very stiff looking Vader of A New Hope would be running around pulling ships out of the sky in action in Rogue One. I was happy to see how they handled Vader in the film. His last scene had me grinning like a fool.

Beyond Vader, it would have been very easy to fill Rogue One with too many nods to the subsequent Original Trilogy films. There are some great references in there, that will have fans excited, but it didn’t feel like they went over the line. This brings me to one of my main issues. Without revealing too much, there is a character in the film that has been brought back by use of CGI and it just doesn’t look right. I’m never that guy who whines about bad CGI, I’m usually pretty forgiving with that stuff, but this is a Star Wars film. Spend whatever you need to spend and take the time to make it look right. Or just don’t do it. As cool as it was that we were seeing this character, the CGI took me right out of it. I’m sure as a still shot the character it looks spot on, but in motion among real actors, it stuck out like a sore thumb. The rendering looked far too smooth and it felt like the dialogue would fall out of sync at any moment. There is another character brought to life with CGI that also bothered me a little, but at least it was brief. Less could have been more in both of these cases, though.

Ultimately, I had a great time with Rogue One. There is something in the film for every Star Wars fan. A credit to the cast and filmmaking team for actually expanding the Star Wars universe in a new and exciting way. I hope that Lucasfilm and Disney take note of what was accomplished with this film and apply what they’ve learned to other upcoming films under the “A Star Wars Story” banner. How cool would it be to have a television arm of Star Wars stories like this? An anthology series with wildly different types of stories that take place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away? It’s big galaxy with a big sandbox, let’s get even more talented filmmakers in there and have some fun building things.

I’m sure you have your tickets already, if not get some. I can’t wait to give this one another look, or ten.

What an amazing time it is to be a Star Wars fan!

Josh Weighs the Options on What We Might See for the Third Star Wars Spin-off Film

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by: Joshua Outred – Staff Writer

We’re so close to the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story that I can taste it; in a matter of days we’ll be settling into our seats at the cinema ready to watch the first non-saga Star Wars film, a very special occasion indeed. The release of this first spin-off film will not only be important for us fans but for the creative minds behind Star Wars too, as Rogue One will stand as a sort of judgment point, where reactions will be analyzed and decisions made about where next to take these standalone movies after the release of ‘Han Solo’ in 2018.

In his recent coverage of Rogue One, Anthony Breznican of Entertainment Weekly reported that January will see the Lucasfilm brain-trust gather together, where they’ll map out the future of Star Wars cinema past Episode IX. Breznican finally confirmed that the third spin-off, set for 2020, was the long rumoured ‘Boba Fett’ film. That film has been temporarily put on hold since Josh Trank’s sudden departure last year. This begs the question of What ‘Star Wars Story’ will we eventually see in 2020? Will the Fett film be reignited, or will a great response to an all new cast of characters with Rogue One see Lucasfilm decide on something completely different and unexpected?

With the future of Star Wars cinema beyond Episode IX being a big question at the moment, I decided to take a little dive into what the third spin-off film could be. What do the fans want, as opposed to what is likely to be greenlit and announced next year.

 

Fan Favorites

Star Wars fans, we’re so demanding.. always wanting for nothing.. Joking aside, I feel like demand is the perfect word to describe certain areas of the fanbases’ hopes and dreams for the third spin-off. Although many of us will be happy with whatever is announced, there is most certainly a fan demand for specific character stories, starting with Obi-Wan Kenobi. Yes, Kenobi, he’s most certainly a film people want, and according to Anthony Breznican is high on Lucasfilm’s list awaiting the green light. The idea that Obi-Wan spent a many number of years on Tatooine watching over Luke intrigues people, and I can see why they want that story, Ewan McGregor was great as Kenobi in the prequels and seeing him play Obi at an older age where he’s probably learning great truths about the Force is exciting. If the Kenobi film were to be set in the period between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, there’s also a chance we’d see a younger Luke Skywalker and other classic characters return at a point in their life we have yet to see, I can see the interest. One thing that puts me off is this, what more about Obi-Wan Kenobi do we need to know? He’s a character with a lot of exposition thus far and unless Lucasfilm has great plans for him, I’m not so invested in a film revolving around him.

kotorfullboxartThe Old Republic and Origins of the Jedi. These two also keep coming up, there’s a huge amount of love out there for the Old Republic games, although I’ve never cared for them or that era. There is a large portion of the Star Wars fanbase who want to see that era reimagined on screen in the new canon. I think it’s an era that will eventually be explored, I feel that the current sequel trilogy is going to set up some form of backstory in which an Old Republic-Jedi Origin film will be able to explain how the Force became more than just that, how it became something beings embraced, using for good and for evil. I feel that a Jedi-Origin story could certainly tie into that era, hence why I’ve included both in this segment. It’s possible that Lucasfilm would want the origin of the Jedi Knights to be set in an era where the Old Republic exists, in doing so we would gain exposition on both stories, ‘killing two birds with one stone’ so to speak. I’ll be completely frank with you here, I have absolutely zero interest in visiting the Old Republic era and/or the complete beginnings of the Jedi, I don’t feel like it’s an era that necessarily needs to be explored, and to be honest, a time set so many thousands of years prior to where The Phantom Menace began may feel too far departed from what Star Wars is, a certain visual language that may have to abandoned when traveling so far into the past. The Jedi Origin story would be better utilized in pieces, being referenced in the films, not demystifying the whole thing with a film laying it all out. Sometimes less is more. (Jay: I’d imagine a lesson was learned by demystifying Vader in the Prequel Trilogy)

One more popular choice, there is.. Now, who could that be? The little green guy himself, Yoda. Although not voiced as often as the previous mentions above, people really would love a Yoda origin story. When it was first announced back in 2012 that Lucasfilm would be producing spin-off films, the popular three that were rumored were, ‘Han Solo’, ‘Boba Fett’ and ‘Yoda’. We now know we’re getting the ‘Han Solo’ film in 2018, and have recently gained more confirmation on the Fett film being one of the other’s, originally set to be the second until the controversy with Josh Trank benched the film. So could the other long rumored ‘Yoda’ film be the third standalone? Unlikely. The reason I say so is because I don’t think it’s a character Lucasfilm wants to necessarily Yoda Frank Oz Star Warstell a personal story about (at least not yet), I have no doubt that it’ll be made eventually, but in the first wave of films, doubtful. Yoda is a wildly popular character, and he’s shrouded in mystery so much so we don’t even know the name of his species (maybe Lucasfilm doesn’t either..?). A Yoda origin story could be incredible, not only would his character be exciting to really open up with, it’d be an incredible chance for the filmmakers to push the boundaries and use
every trick in the book to pull off successfully, embracing the oldest filmmaking tricks all the way down to those yet to be explored. I’d say leave it for now, it may be something better left for the future. (Jay: fingers crossed that it’s a romcom between Yoda and Maz Kanata. Imagine that Meet/Cute)

 

Likely Announcement

lando-fettWith the Lucasfilm brain-trust getting together in January to plot and green light future projects, it’s up in the air as to what will be chosen as the third Anthology film. The answer essentially comes down to the reaction of Rogue One, even though I feel that specific line of thinking is a little safe, that’s
Lucasfilm basically saying that if Rogue One doesn’t receive outstanding reactions they’ll go back to playing it safe, when they should really be going with whatever stories they want to tell, not what we want them to tell. So, what’s likely? Well, we’ve heard that the ‘Boba Fett/Bounty Hunter’ film mentioned previously is still a favorite and they’ve already done quite a bit of work already behind the scenes, but it would certainly undergo some changes with a new director coming on board. The Fett film could also tie into the ‘Han Solo’ film if it’s set around a younger Boba, being a perfect opportunity to tie two origin films together. Although a Fett film isn’t as much a popular choice as say, Obi-Wan, it’s a film I want to see and have always wanted to see. Boba Fett is a badass looking character, his imagery is iconic and yet he’s done nothing but flop on screen, I get that.. his onscreen physical performances ave kinda suck thus far, but it’s time to see the real in-universe reason for his reputation. There’s a story to be told with Fett, whether or not it’s of his younger self and a possible rivalry with young smuggler, Solo, or if they canonized his escape from the Sarlacc pit, there’s story there to be told. Imagine a noir-esque crime-thriller with Fett as the leading man? Yeah, I’d dig it!

 

What do I want?

What do I want to see? Well, I set that one up for you already and most who know me well know I love Boba Fett, I’m also an absolute sucker for crime-thrillers, so combining the two and having the likes of Kim Jee-Woo (I Saw The Devil) direct, I think that speaks for itself. I’m definitely interested in seeing Lucasfilm experiment with genre-style films for the spin-off’s, I’m less interested in seeing these flicks just explore the lore of Star Wars and more interested in the filmmakers bringing their specific styles to the table, where they can really let loose and spin the visual language of Star Wars in beautiful knots with a more personal stylistic language.

Rogue One is a matter of days away, and this is going to stand as a turning point in Star Wars cinema. It’ll set precedent for what comes next, and I truly hope Star Wars cinema pushes its boundaries, continuing diversity in its casting and stylistically speaking in terms of the visual language used by the future filmmakers.

Check This Out! Judd Apatow is Making a Garry Shadling Documentary!

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by: Jay Carlson – Editor-in-chief

To know Garry Shandling was to love Garry Shandling, this seemed especially true for those privileged enough to have known Garry personally, but for many others like myself, we loved Garry through his amazing body of work. In a year that we lost some true icons, his passing struck me harder than most of them. There was just something so genuine and honest about him, that made me feel like he was a friend. Years from now, we’ll look back at 2016 and say, “ Bowie, Prince, Wilder, Shandling, Rickman and then fucking Trump?!…Boy, 2016 really stuck it in and broke it off, didn’t it? “

I can vividly recall spending time with Garry Shandling via The Larry Sanders Show, his revolutionary HBO show back in the 90’s. My town felt like one of the last in the world to get cable. (There was a time, not very long ago where this wasn’t so uncommon.) I spent much of my childhood in the 80’s fighting with a set of rabbit ears on my small color TV. It didn’t pull much in and what it did pull in didn’t come in very well. When we finally got Cable I watched a LOT of HBO, mostly for the movies but then for their original TV shows. The Larry Sanders Show had me hooked from the first Jeffery Tambor “Hey now!” (Honorable mention goes to Brian Benben on Dream On)

One of the men behind the scenes on The Larry Sanders Show was a young Judd Apatow, who would write and produce numerous episodes of that iconic show. Apatow’s connection to Shandling actually began a decade before his work on Shandling’s HBO show, though. As a teenager in the early 80’s Apatow interviewed Shandling as well as many other comedians he idolized for a show he created for his high school radio station (solely as a way to meet his heroes. I can relate).

Shortly after Shandling’s passing, Apatow would tell The Wrap: “I just don’t know how to sum up someone I loved so much who taught me everything I know and was always so kind to me. I am just too sad. Maybe tomorrow I will do better.” Given some time, it seems Apatow has figured out how best he can sum up Shandling, by crafting a  documentary film about the legend. Yesterday Apatow posted a picture of he and Kevin Nealon with the caption: “Shooting started today on a documentary I am making about Garry Shandling. Kevin Nealon was our first interview.”

Shooting started today on a documentary I am making about Garry Shandling. Kevin Nealon was our first interview.

A photo posted by Judd Apatow (@juddapatow) on Nov 30, 2016 at 8:23pm PST

It’s inspirational to see Apatow using his chosen art to transform his grief into a tribute for such an amazing showman. With a career spanning over forty years, he crossed paths and made friends with many. I’m sure Garry’s friends will have no shortage of  stories to share. Apatow is a filmmaker who always manages to mix the heartfelt with the hilarious in the most amazing ways. It feels like his path has been leading right to this film. I’m eager to see what he puts together to honor Shandling.

Emilia Clarke Joins Lord and Miller’s ‘Han Solo’ Film

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by: Joshua Outred – Staff Writer

StarWars.com have officially revealed that Emilia Clarke has joined the cast of the yet untitled, ‘Han Solo’ spin-off film.

Emilia Clarke, who is best known for her role as Daenerys Targaryen in the hit HBO series, Game of Thrones, has landed the female lead role in Phillip Lord and Chris Miller’s Han Solo origin story. The third cast member to be announced, Clarke joins Alden Ehrenreich as young Han Solo, and Donald Glover, who will portray a younger Lando Calrissian – Chewie of course, is set to return.

This untitled ‘Han Solo’ story is starting to come together, and the casting of the accomplished Emilia Clarke definitely impresses me, though – I do have one issue. Previously, Variety reported that three actresses were in the later stages of testing for the female role in the film, Tessa Thompson (Creed), Zoe Kravitz (Mad Max: Fury Road) and Naomi Scott (The Martian) all reportedly tried out, all actresses of minority – yet the white, brunette actress ended up with the part. Let’s hope that these three actresses were testing for a different role altogether. With the events happening around us right now, the casting of the female lead going to an actress of minority would’ve been a powerful and hopeful message.

It’s curious to note that Clarke, along with Daisy Ridley and Felicity Jones are all British. Interesting that the three female leads all hail from across the pond. 

The ‘Han Solo’ film is set for release in May of 2018. Written by Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jon Kasdan, with Phillip Lord and Chris Miller sharing the director’s chair.

It’s Official ‘Deadpool 2’ to be Directed by John Wick’s, David Leitch!

Deadpool

 

by: Joshua Outred – Staff Writer

Fantastic news! Variety has revealed that John Wick director, David Leitch, has officially signed on to helm the Deadpool sequel.

David Leitch replaces director, Tim Miller, who dropped out of the project last month due to creative differences. Miller’s departure from the sequel came as a shock, disappointing many after the fantastic job he did with Deadpool, which raked in a massive $782.6 million. The news of Leitch’s appointment doesn’t come as a shock, he’s been the frontrunner for the position ever since Miller exited the project.

John Wick was actually David Leitch’s directorial debut, co-directed with Chad Stahelski, both had previously only done second-unit directorial work. Leitch is the perfect choice to helm Deadpool 2, his stylistic choice couldn’t fit better with the outspoken superhero, expect some huge action from the sequel!

Deadpool 2 is yet to be given a release date.

A New Extended Rogue One TV Spot is Here!

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From Lucasfilm comes the first of the Star Wars standalone films, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” an all-new epic adventure. In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is directed by Gareth Edwards and stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, with Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker. Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur and Simon Emanuel are producing, with John Knoll and Jason McGatlin serving as executive producers. The story is by John Knoll and Gary Whitta, and the screenplay is by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy.  “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016.

Marky Mark is the Big Hero Who Says Deep Things In the New ‘Patriots Day’ Trailer

patriots-day-01

by: Jay Carlson – Editor-in-Chief

I take issue with so many things about Patriots Day that I’m not sure where to begin.

I suppose it starts with Mark “It wouldn’t have gone down that way if I was on my 9/11 flight” Wahlberg starring in a film that only an authentic Boston guy could top line and get away without it being called a cash grab. Make no mistake though, it is a cash grab. Add to it, Peter “I only make films that are based on a true story these days” Berg and we have a real recipe for an actual tragedy told in the shallowest way possible, full of heroic low angle Marky Mark shots and filled to the brim with scenes designed to try and pull the tears out of your eyes. It’s despicable that they approached a community that was still healing after the trauma of a gunfight in their quiet neighborhood to ask if they could recreate the same gunfight to lend “authenticity” to their film.  Patriots Day may have been shot in Boston with a lead actor from Boston, but it feels as authentic as all the Boston-area people sporting their Boston Strong gear in the wake of the tragedy because it was fashionable. This film does not feel like it’s been made for the right reasons in any way.

Me? I’ll be waiting for David Gordon Green’s Stronger, an important story to come out of the Boston Marathon Bombing tragedy that has all the ingredients for an inspirational and moving film.

An account of the Boston Marathon bombing, PATRIOTS DAY is the powerful story of a community’s courage in the face of adversity. 

In the aftermath of an unspeakable attack, Police Sergeant Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg) joins courageous survivors, first responders and investigators in a race against the clock to hunt down the bombers before they strike again. Weaving together the stories of Special Agent Richard DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon), Police Commissioner Ed Davis (John Goodman), Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese (J.K. Simmons) and nurse Carol Saunders (Michelle Monaghan) this visceral and unflinching chronicle captures the suspense of one of the most sophisticated manhunts in law enforcement history and celebrates the strength of the people of Boston.