Review: What is ‘Fire Bones’? It’s almost gleefully indescribable.

We’re all stuck at home, binge-watching crime doc, reading books, listening to music and podcasts like fiends. What if we could take all of those things and combine them into one incredible immersive theatrical experience? Enter FIRE BONES, a multi-media project utilizing film, music, audio, visual art, and even poetry as it tells a whimsical Southern Gothic tale via a road trip to solve a crazy mystery. The project was created by poet and Director of Creative Writing at SMU, Greg Brownderville, and features the narrative directorial debut of Bart Weiss, the Founder of Dallas Video Fest and a Professor of Film at University of Texas, Arlington. FIRE BONES is a visual feast. The Chapter pages have small, striking mixed media tags that are strung as clues. I would hang each one of them on my walls. When you click through, each numbered to avoid confusion, you are treated to something unique that pushes this mystery along.

The story revolves around the disappearance of an extraordinary woman named Amra. She was a pilot, a leader of the town’s Pentecostal church “Fire Bones”, and a local legend that everyone knew… or so they thought. We follow Greg and Bart’s search for answers as accusations fly and information slowly comes to light in this unusual town filled with eccentric residents. The commitment to this unique format by this cast is magic. It’s weird and wonderful and I guarantee you have never seen or heard anything like it. Each clue gets better and better. Two standouts from the first half of this journey are Chapter 4: Clue #13 – Trainbow – Poetric dialogue set against breathtaking swamp and train imagery. And Chapter 5, Clue #15 Sign of the Times –  A hilarious song with a tongue-in-cheek take on church board messaging.

If the pandemic had never happened, this could have easily been one of the most popular in-person attractions in immersive theatre history. If you’ve ever experienced a show like Sleep No More, which is an intense, live walkthrough of Macbeth in which the scenes play out from room to room as the audience wears masks and is encouraged to interact with the cast, you’d understand what I mean. FIRE BONES could easily adopt this presentation. It could be a permanent exhibit at MoMA. In our current circumstances, it’s a fun thing to do with family members. Fare warning, if you are listening with younger ears, there is a bit of profanity from time to time. While it is ultimately 4 1/2 hrs of content, you easily breeze from one piece to the next. The audio style wavers between true crime and radio drama. The videos are stunning to look at. Sharply shot and puzzling in content, you cannot help but we swept up in the mystery. Because each chapter is short, you never have time to get distracted. And because the format changes, you’re constantly engaged. FIRE BONES has massive expansion potential, but in its current form is undeniably entertaining. In an unpredictable world, some predictable fun is welcome.

Fire Bones trailer from Fire Bones on Vimeo.

 

Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Podcast Interview: Jeremy Gardner, Christian Stella, and Brea Grant share all the gory and gorgeous details of ‘AFTER MIDNIGHT’ (Something Else).

AFTER MIDNIGHT (Something Else) Podcast

AFTER MIDNIGHT (formerly titled Something Else) was one of the most unique selections in this year’s festival. Both a monster movie and a love story, the film’s deliberate structure is a standout all on its own. The writing is fresh and funny and the use of light makes it a joy to watch. There are brilliantly theatrical moments. I believe this film would actually translate incredibly well onstage! When you see it, you’ll know what I mean. It’s a complete compliment. I sat down with co-directors Christian Stella and Jeremy Gardner (who also stars and wrote the script) and star Brea Grant to chat all things AFTER MIDNIGHT. How did the script come about? What in the world were they thinking with certain choices? What did Brea think the first time she read the script?  We talk favorite movie monsters, and how the filmmakers of one of my favorite films The Endless, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, got on board. You can read my full review of AFTER MIDNIGHT here, but give a listen to the awesome time we all had together. Be warned, when I walked into the room, Christian, Jeremy, and Brea had all been in the super cool bathroom of our interview room at The Roxy Hotel taking a photo, and I’m disappointed in myself for not getting in on the selfie action on my way out the door. Also, when you hear us refer/talk to “Ted”, we’re actually talking to We Are Still Here and Mohawk filmmaker Ted Geoghegan who just so happened to be in our presence. No big deal. Anyhow, without further ado, here is our podcast talking all things Tribeca, monsters, and AFTER MIDNIGHT.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR(S)

Jeremy Gardner and Christian Stella are the filmmakers behind the indie zombie film The Battery and survival comedy Tex Montana Will Survive! Lifelong friends, both directors were born and raised in Florida.

FILM INFO
  • Section:
    Midnight
  • Year:
    2019
  • Length:
    83 minutes
  • Language:
    English
  • Country:
  • Premiere:
    World
  • Connect:
CAST & CREDITS
  • Director:
    Jeremy Gardner and Christian Stella
  • Producer:
    David Lawson Jr., Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, Arvind Harinath
  • Screenwriter:
    Jeremy Gardner
  • Cinematographer:
    Christian Stella
  • Editor:
    Christian Stella and Jeremy Gardner
  • Executive Producer:
    Venu Kunnappilly
  • Cast:
    Jeremy Gardner. Brea Grant, Henry Zebrowski, Justin Benson, Ashley Song, Nicola Masciotra

Tribeca Film Festival Review/Interview: ‘DETOUR’ is a modern noir with two sides of one story.

Tribeca Film Festival logo 2016

detour, tye, emory, bel

Sometimes in life, a single instance, a momentary decision, is something we wish we could change. Thinking that if only you had said something else, gone the other way, chosen another path, your life might be completely different. These “what ifs” might haunt us but unless you’re a Time Lord there isn’t much you can do about them. That doesn’t stop us from wondering what life would be like. In a Tribeca Film Festival world premiere, DETOUR takes us on a ride that begs that very notion.

Harper, a seemingly naive law student, obsesses over the idea that his shifty stepfather is somehow involved in the devastating car crash that leaves his mother lying comatose in the hospital. He drowns his suspicions in whiskey and, with little forethought, finds himself suddenly entwined in conversation with a volatile grifter, Johnny, and his stripper companion, Cherry. As daylight breaks and the haziness of promises made becomes clearer, how will Harper handle the repercussions—and the violent duo—on his doorstep?

From director Christopher Smith (Creep, Black Death, Triangle), Detour is a stylized noir throwback with a trio of lead performances by of-the-moment actors: Tye Sheridan (Mud, The Tree of Life), Emory Cohen (Brooklyn) and Bel Powley (Diary of a Teenage Girl). Utilizing a unique split-narrative structure to tell his tale of deception and murder, Smith takes his audience on a twisty, thrilling ride, where it’s never quite clear what or whom can be trusted.

Detour-bel

The cast, comprised of Hollywood’s young up and comers Tye Sheridan, Emory Cohen, and Bel Powley, make this noir throwback as successful as it is. With suspicion and grief fueled motives and a $20,000 agreement, murder and mayhem are the goal. Powley, coming off her extraordinary breakout performance in Diary Of A Teenage Girl, is a stunning presence on screen. Caught somewhere between girl next door and Middle American white-trash, her quiet strength and sympathetic nature make the character of Cherry more intriguing than one might think. Emory Cohen, who was completely unrecognizable from his appearance in Brooklyn, takes on the role of Johnny with vigor. With a badass exterior, and hair trigger temper, Cohen’s  best moments are built in fear and protection. Tye Sheriden‘s Harper is whip smart and more cunning than at first glance. This young man is so incredibly comfortable in his own skin, he probably could have played Johnny had he and Cohen’s wardrobe’s been reversed. Detour-tye

Writer/Director Christopher Smith‘s script is sharp. While I knew about the multi-narrative plot going in, I wasn’t expecting to have to remain on my toes as much as I did. In fact, when I initially left the theater, I waxed poetic with a colleague for a good 25 minutes. The more I thought about it, the more I liked it. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the glorious look of the film. Shot on wide-angle lenses in South Africa (which is skillfully made to look like a road trip from America to just across the border into Mexico), Smith’s choices of color and set dressing are key to the ever so slight differentiation in the two narratives. I completely agree with producer Julie Baines, who I was fortunate enough to run into during interviews, who backed up the notion that once you’ve seen the film for the first time, you’ll want to go back and follow the breadcrumbs knowing what you now know. That is exactly how I felt the morning after. I needed to see it again. Baines also reinforced the infectious chemistry between the three leads, both on and off the screen. Think a more complex version of Sliding Doors with a noir aspect. Detour is aptly named.

I was able to sit down with Tye, Emory and Chris over the weekend. You can listen to a spirited and totally down-to-earth interview below. Ladies and Gentleman, Tye Sheridan, Emory Cohen, and Christopher Smith on their new film DETOUR… (and other musings). Enjoy!

 

Remaining screenings at the fest are Rush only, but definitely worth trying to check out now!

4:00 PM – THU 4/21 BOW TIE CINEMAS CHELSEA 9Icon-fg-map RUSH
9:30 PM – FRI 4/22 REGAL CINEMAS BATTERY PARK 11-1Icon-fg-map RUSH

[FLASHBACK] Tribeca Film Festival review & podcast: TUMBLEDOWN will win hearts and fans. Including the audio from our roundtable interview with Jason Sudeikis, Dianna Agron, Director Sean Mewshaw, and Writer Desiree Van Til.

Tumbledown

Music is part of our souls. It can heal, it can hurt, it’s like a sense memory. We’ve lost great artists in their prime like, Leonard Cohen, Kurt Cobain, and Elliot Smith. The impact of their death is felt each time we hear one of their songs. Imagine, for a moment, that your very favorite artist suddenly dies. Now imagine you were married to them. This is the very premise of TUMBLEDOWN. Hannah is the widow of indie folk singer Hunter Miles. She is hounded by gossip seekers on a daily basis. When Hofstra professor and true fan Andrew tries to get in touch with her, she brushes him off… and brushes him off again… and again. Only until realizing that her dream of writing Hunter’s story is one she cannot accomplish on her own, does she let her highly guarded heart open just a crack. Andrew and Hannah strike a deal; Andrew writes a biography on her terms for $50k. With the encouragement of his music industry girlfriend Finley, Andrew drives from NYC to Maine and moves into Hannah’s guest bedroom. He is then exposed to a world a true fan can only dream of, with one massive catch. Hannah will not stop mourning her late husband. Can fan and family see eye to eye. Can trust break down the walls of Hannah’s suffering? Will intellect stifle healing. In a film where it’s head vs heart, who wins?

Tumbledown_Press_1 TribecaRebecca Hall is flawless as Hannah. Witty, independent, strong headed, Hall plays a woman unwilling to move on with her life. Jason Sudeikis as Andrew is unstoppable. Smart, and quippy as ever, this role is something new for Sudeikis. I love this side of him and hope that the industry, and more writers, take note of his innate ability to be funny in a non-slapstick kind of way. These two are an absolute powerhouse as they match wits with one another in each scene. Rounding out an incredible cast is Dianna Agron as Finley. Life after GLEE fame should treat her well if she keeps up such a strong, believable presence on the big screen. Blythe Danner and Richard Masur play Hannah’s parents. Deeply supportive and yet totally realistic, these two are the perfect counter balance to Andrew’s inability to let go of presumption. Finally, Griffin Dunne plays Hannah’s editor and owner of the town beloved book shop. He brings warmth and charm only a small town holds.tumbledownjasonsudeikisrebeccahall

The film was 8 years in the making. Writer Desi Van Til thoughtfully crafted this story partly as a personal healing piece for a lost friend. She skillfully captures the heart of New England, the desperation of grief, and the hold that music has on everyone’s heart. For Director Sean Mewshaw, his first feature length film is a total success. It’s shot in such a way that truly shows the quaintness of the area. Finding “Hunter Miles” or singer Damien Jurado was one of his triumphs. He perfectly encapsulates the feel of the character that was created by Desi, Rebecca, Jason, and Sean. Coming in after the film was already in the can, with his music and lyrics, he “created” a musician we’re all discovering for the first time, but feel like we’ve now lost as well. It might also help that Sean and Desi are husband and wife! This team is a real tour de force and without any solid knowledge (only mere mentions) I predict many captivating projects coming down the pipeline from these two.

Grief is something so personal. No matter how big the hit we feel, it still leaves a hole in our hearts and souls. Sometimes music helps. Sometimes it’s a trigger. Either way, the songs live on long after we’re gone. So sing, I say. TUMBLEDOWN is easily in my top three narrative selections to come out the this year’s festival. It is a must see and definitely a must hear.jasonsudeikistumbledownrebeccahall


I was fortunate enough to attend a roundtable interview with Dianna Agron, Jason Sudeikis, Desi Van Til and Sean Mewshaw. We talk issues from the film, insight into the project’s journey, as well as Jason and Dianna’s other releases at the fest. Take a listen to the absolute joy around the table: *You can hear me ask a question about journalistic responsibility and one about Dianna’s similarities to the character of Hannah.* Enjoy the voices of TUMBLEDOWN!

Originally posted April 20, 2015

Girls on Film Podcast: Interview with ‘Spotlight’ actor Neal Huff

Spotlight-Neal-Huff

Once you start looking at Neal Huff‘s resume, you can’t believe you don’t recognize him. That is his strength. He’s able to shift into different characters easily so you never get attached to him in one type of role. In Spotlight, he is among the ensemble cast that won the Independent Spirit Robert Altman Award.

Here’s the full interview:

The film is worth all the buzz around it. Extremely well-written, the structure of pursuing a story saves the dark subject matter from being heavy and depressing.

Girls on Film Podcast: Interview with ‘Diablo’ writer/director Lawrence Roeck – “Build a good team around you”

Diablo poster

Yes, before you ask, that is Clint Eastwood‘s son, Scott. He’s pretty unmistakeable. He stars in Diablo playing a civil war veteran who begins a journey to rescue his kidnapped wife. While this may seem to be a very straightforward story, there are many twists and turns that make this western a very modern psychological thriller.

Diablo is in select theaters now as well as available on demand

I recently spoke with writer and director Lawrence Roeck about his film and got a glimpse into his filmmaking world. Listen to the entire interview here:

Roeck works with his creative partner, Carlos De Los Rios, and surrounds himself with very talented people. He had a basic concept for the story and brought it to De Los Rios and Eastwood, then flushed out the screenplay. Presto. 

Roeck seems to have found the magic formula with a great production team, that he couldn’t say enough nice things about. So who are the biggest players behind the scenes? Let’s break it down.

Director of Photography – Dean Cundey

Winner of several cinematography awards, Cundey is known for movies such as Back to the Future, Jurassic Park and Apollo 13. He knows his way around a set and when you watch the film, you’ll need to see it on a big screen to fully appreciate the beauty.

For this film, Cundey used a camera he helped develop, the ARRI Alexa digital cinema camera. This is not like using the camera on your phone.


Horse Wrangler – John Scott

This guy knows horses. Having recently also completed work on The Revenant, Roeck just let Scott do what he does best. “The horses like being part of a process and being around people,” says Roeck.

 


 

 

Casting Director – Roger Mussenden

Known for casting the X-Men franchise, Mussenden pulled together the supporting talent that elevated the already intriguing script. Walton Goggins is a particular standout with his character having an menacing swagger that no one else could pull off.


 

Composer – Timothy Williams

Williams is known most recently for his work on Guardians of the Galaxy. Roeck and Williams sat together for four months to create the score for this film. “Timothy uses a lot of natural sounds” using the “drumming of the stock of the shotgun” as the specific sound with Walton Goggins character. The music was recorded with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.


 

Amazing films are out there. You just have to take a chance. Check out Diablo and you won’t be disappointed!

The Cast:

Scott Eastwood

Diablo_Still5 Courtesy Momentum Pictures © 2015

Walton Goggins

Diablo_Still11

Adam Beach

Diablo_Still15

Danny Glover

Diablo_Still4

Girls On Film Podcast: ‘Steve Jobs: The Man In the Machine’ – Liz & Melissa discuss Alex Gibney’s Documentary

Steve Jobs, Woodside CA 1984

This week’s podcast is dedicated to Alex Gibney‘s documentary, Steve Jobs: The Man In the Machine. Liz and I attended a screening, Q&A and reception where Gibney spoke with the press audience. After, Liz and I realized that as a user and non-user of Apple products, we had a great opportunity to discuss the film from both perspectives. Read More →

Girls On Film Podcast: Interview with the ‘I AM BIG BIRD’ filmmakers Chad Walker and Dave LaMattina.

I am big bird posterHands down one of the most touching documentaries to come out of theTribeca Film festival last year is I AM BIG BIRD. This is the heartwarming story of the man inside the big yellow icon, Caroll Spinney. I’ve already gushed about the film in my review, so I was thrilled to get the opportunity to talk with directors Chad Walker and Dave LaMattina this afternoon. Here is our brand new episode of Girls On Film: I Am Big Bird

I AM BIG BIRD is now playing in theaters in selected cities with a national expansion coming in throughout the summer. Stay tuned to Reel News Daily for more information!

 

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, and Joely Richardson star in ‘MAGGIE’ – a post-apocalyptic Zombie flick with Midwestern flare and some incredible acting.

Maggie PosterThere is no denying that most of us are fans of anything zombie genre. With The Walking Dead becoming a televised phenomenon, we got to see a story line based around the characters and not the infected. This is very much the scenario in Henry Hobson‘s new film Maggie. Wade has promised his late wife that he would  do anything to protect their daughter. Living in a world where an infection causes people to turn into cannibal zombies, the government have ordered that at 8 weeks into said infection, you must deliver your family member to the hospital quarantine wing… where they essentially wait to die. But how can you just give up? What if your loved one is different? What if you believe they can be saved?Maggie still Arnold and Abigail breslinArnold Schwarzenegger plays Wade with a love and affection that is altogether new for him. This legendary action star is gentle and protective, and any of us would be proud to  call him Dad. He is able to hold the screen in long quiet shots with complete ease and not much more than his pensive face. I would  love to him  in more roles like this, as he is clearly capable of giving us an entire range of real emotion without any slow motion explosions going off behind him. Joely Richardson is Caroline, Wade’s second wife and Maggie’s stepmother. After sending her two small children off to live with relatives one Maggie returns to the home, she is hesitant to fully trust Wade’s parenting decisions, as would anyone afraid of being attacked by a zombie. Supportive but always on edge, Richardson displays the same great acting talents we’ve come to know from The Tudors and Nip/TuckMaggie Still Babigail ArnoldThe real star of this film, hands down, is Abigail Breslin. To navigate as a teenager in a world where awkwardness is already the norm, then add in the inevitability of turning into a monster is quite the feat. Breslin is graceful and raw in her spiral both emotionally and physically. She is able to balance sadness, thoughtfulness, and a little bit of frightening all at once. I am truly impressed with her portrayal of Maggie and it should not go unnoticed by Hollywood. MaggieMaggie is Henry Hobson‘s first feature length film. He is known for his genius art direction with title sequences, ironically including The Walking Dead. Hobson’s experience is evident in the way he chooses to shoot in an almost kamikaze style. Indie films have smaller budgets and tight schedule, but his actors and crew trusted him so much that at the drop of a hat, the entire team would run from one location to another in order to fit in a shot to capture a perfect moment in time and its natural light. I see a great future for Henry Hobson if Maggie is any indication of what he is capable of. Joely Abigail Arnold Maggie stillDon’t expect massive actions scenes but do expect some phenomenal makeup effects and a truly lovely script by John Scott 3. For a first time screenwriter, he definitely knows his stuff about the genre and great family dynamics. Maggie is a slow burn, beautifully shot and scored, with one hell of an ending. It’s slightly outside the box for a zombie film and for Schwarzenegger, but totally worth your time. You can check out Maggie in theaters and On Demand today, May 8th.

Below you can find the audio from The Tribeca Film Festival press conference I attended for Maggie. Joely, Henry, and Arnold were in attendance. All three were completely gracious and articulate, it’s worth a listen for some  insider information on the production. Enjoy!

http://maggiethefilm.com/

3 movie ideas & a draft of the casts – The Reel Big Show Studios

The-Reel-Big-Show

Which actors & actresses would you draft for the perfect movie?

In this special edition of The Reel Big Show, Michael had the idea for the gang to choose a movie concept and then they would cast it, ala snake draft!

Here’s a few teasers, but you’ll have to listen to get the details!

  • Movie A: The Dear Johns – Four guys get dumped by their wives on the same day
  • Movie B: The Master Plan – Action/adventure/drama escape movie set during World War II
  • Movie C: 1940s era big band club comedy with a crime element

 

So which cast goes with which movie?

  • Cast #1: William H. Macy, Paul Giamatti, John C. Reilly, Michael Pena, Judy Greer, Billy Murray
  • Cast #2: Julianne Moore, Alexander Skarsgard, Adrien Brody, Jon Hamm, Patton Oswalt, Zoe Saldana
  • Cast #3: Matthew McConaughey, Oscar Isaac, Dylan O’Brien, Idris Elba, Michael Fassbender, Tom Hiddleston

Tribeca Film Festival interview: Kevin Pollak talks his new doc ‘Misery Love Comedy’ with expected hilarity.

Misery Loves Comedy PosterSome of my fondest memories as a kid are family game nights, Sunday breakfasts, and dancing in the kitchen. All of these things we still do. We try to outplay each other. We make fun of the everyone’s ever changing diets. We choreograph the best and worst dance moves in the universe. Being the first of 4 children ignites a fire that never quite goes away. ‘Look At Me Syndrome” is something I live and die by. Young performers are like sponges. They listen to every word as a kid. They are bright and observant, perhaps not coming alive at that age, but letting it all seep into what shapes their humor. *And yes, I did just allude to how awesome I have always been. But enough about me.* Kevin Pollak has created one hell of a documentary to share with the planet, MISERY LOVES COMEDY. Rounding up over 60 comedians, both stand up or just plain funny people in the industry, including the likes of Amy Schumer, Tom Hanks, Judd Apatow, Kevin Smith, Christopher Guest, Lisa Kudrow, Bob Saget, Chris Hardwick, and  Kathleen Madigan, just to name a few. Pollak poses the question that performers know to be true; “Do you have to be miserable to be funny?” The answers comes in form of intimate sit down interviews with a cast only someone with Pollak’s clout could get to say yes so quickly. Filmed over the course of 4 weeks in L.A. and NYC, we are privy to family photos, childhood inspirations, and all the mess in between. Pollak even edited the film himself, sharing that experience was eye-opening and surprisingly enjoyable. This film is non-stop funny. I loved every moment of it. Jim Gaffigan sums up the need to entertain others perfectly, it’s a ‘Narcissists Fantasy’. Question it, accept it, then own it. I do. It’s the only way to live.

When Kevin Pollak offers to take a picture with you, you take a picture. Because Kevin  Pollak.

When Kevin Pollak offers to take a picture with you, you take a picture. Because Kevin Pollak.

In honor of the masterful director himself, and the over 600 hours of interviews he had conducted, in true Kevin Pollak Chat Show style, I give you the audio from our roundtable with this comic genius. Welcome to a slice of MISERY LOVES COMEDY.

 

Misery Loves Comedy is available on iTunes !! *Ps- it’s #1 right now* Opens today in NYC (IFC Center) with a national release to follow.

Tribeca Film Festival interview: ‘CROCODILE GENNADIY’ is a modern-day superhero story.

Crocdile Gennadiy poster Gennadiy Mokhnenko is a pastor in Mariupol, Ukraine. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, hundreds, if not thousands of children have become homeless and addicted to a deadly mixture of cold medicine and alcohol that they are injecting like herion. Gennadiy has taken it upon himself to rescue these children, small groups at a time and bring them to his rehabilitation center called Pilgrim Republic. An accomplished and eloquent orator, this strong headed and passionate pastor, sometimes forcibly removes children from sewers, or other filth ridden settings, to set them on the straight and narrow. His aim is to improve their alcohol recovery timeline, get these kids healthy and make them want to be functioning members of society. Confronting abusive parents and taking on the government, Gennadiy is a saint. He has 11 children, most of them adopted from the lot that he has saved over the years. He has a wit and charm that make him one of the most approachable men, and yet he has a tenacity that is also threatening when it needs to be.Crocodile Gennadiy image

This documentary from Steve Hooper is beautifully inter-cut with a Soviet animated TV show, Crocodile Gennadiy from which our pastor gets his nickname. The parrallels between Gennadiy and the cartoon are almost unbelievable. The methods this man uses are far from what would be acceptable for any church in the United States, and as far as I am concerned, we should be taking a page from his playbook when fighting for good. Croc Genn cartoon

I was able to sit down with Steve Hoover and producer Danny Yourd. Find out some of the crazy story behind the making of this film.

 

Crocodile Gennadiy Teaser from Crocodile Gennadiy Documentary on Vimeo.

You can still catch CROCODILE GENNADIY at this year’s festival:

8:00 PM – FRI 4/24  REGAL CINEMAS BATTERY PARK 11-3   –RUSH

Tribeca Film Festival review & interview: ‘DREAM/KILLER’ is frightening for reasons you must see to believe. Liz interviews Ryan and Bill Ferguson.

DREAM KILLER_Press_1 TribecaSome of us have a some pretty wild dreams. Maybe monsters are chasing us, maybe we fly like superman, or just maybe, we kill someone. What if someone else’s dream affected your life? What if their dream took away your freedom. This is was happened to 19 year old Ryan Ferguson. After a friend has a nightmare about a murder case that happened two years prior, he calls 911 to “confess” and once in custody, puts Ryan at the scene. Director Andrew Jenks, brings us a fascinating new documentary called Dream/Killer. Ryan is convicted of murder and sentenced to 40 years in prison. Let’s be clear, there is zero evidence that Ryan was even in the area at the time. The entire case, if you can call it  such a thing, is based upon a coerced confession of another young man with some serious issues. This is the tragic story of how the American judicial system is beyond broken. We’ve seen numerous young men convicted based on socio-economic background or the color of their skin, but it is still very unlikely that a middle-class white man would be in the same boat.DREAM KILLER_Press_2 TribecaWe follow Ryan’s entire journey, with the help of his extraordinary parents, Bill and Leslie. Bill does everything in his power, including tours of the crime scene to anyone and everyone that will walk with him and listen to the evidence, setting up social media pages in support of Ryan, and tracking down one the most renowned lawyers in the country, Kathleen Zellner. Roadblocked at every turn, this documentary is full of twists and turns in the wake of shockingly awful work by The Ferguson’s first lawyer, witnesses fabricating stories, and the dubious practices of District Attorney-turned-Judge Kevin Crane. If there is one criminal in this entire story, it may be the one presently on a bench in Missouri.

Bill Ferguson‘s tireless efforts are rewarded after his son spends 9 1/2 years in prison. Kathleen Zellner is finally able to get Ryan released. Through years of exasperating setbacks, Bill and Leslie keep up Ryan’s spirits and lead his charge to freedom. Dream/Killer is an eye opening film. The scales of justice are definitely waited against the truth and they need to be fixed. Andrew Jenks agrees that the film is emotionally enraging. As an audience member, you walk away shaking your head and fuming. These are both compliments to the story Jenks is is trying to tell. He and The Fergusons have developed a genuine friendship. Jenks calls Ryan “A bit of a Gandhi figure” for his ability to stay so positive throughout this entire ordeal. The Fergusons love for each other is certainly unconditional. Never once did Bill or Leslie question Ryan’s innocence. Jenks says that he doesn’t think this story is over. There is still a murderer on the loose. DREAM KILLER_Press_3 TribecaWith the popularity of the Serial podcast and HBO‘s The Jinx, there could not be a more timely introduction for Dream/Killer. Jenks also attributes the growing intrigue surrounding documentaries to Netflix. He believes it’s interface and the artistry in docs movie posters are attracting a newer, and perhaps younger audience.

I was fortunate enough to sit down with Ryan and Bill and discuss this film and their extraordinary family. Here is the audio from that interview. *At the very end, you’ll hear my private thoughts as I left the recorder on longer than intended.* I actually ran into Ryan the following day. He remembered me, asked me how I was doing, and we chatted like old friends. Welcome to The Ferguson family. Enjoy.

 

You can still catch two more screenings of Dream/Killer at the fest.

3:45 PM – FRI 4/24 REGAL CINEMAS BATTERY PARK 11-1    RUSH 
9:45 PM – SAT 4/25 BOW TIE CINEMAS CHELSEA 5                RUSH

dream/killer Trailer from Andrew Jenks Entertainment on Vimeo.

To find out more information, you can click the Tribeca Film Festival Guide 2015.

Tribeca Film Festival review & podcast: TUMBLEDOWN will win hearts and fans. Including the audio from our roundtable interview with Jason Sudeikis, Dianna Agron, Director Sean Mewshaw, and Writer Desiree Van Til.

Tumbledown_Press_1 Tribeca

Music is part of our souls. It can heal, it can hurt, it’s like a sense memory. We’ve lost great artists in their prime like, Leonard Cohen, Kurt Cobain, and Elliot Smith. The impact of their death is felt each time we hear one of their songs. Imagine, for a moment, that your very favorite artist suddenly dies. Now imagine you were married to them. This is the very premise of TUMBLEDOWN. Hannah is the widow of indie folk singer Hunter Miles. She is hounded by gossip seekers on a daily basis. When Hofstra professor and true fan Andrew tries to get in touch with her, she brushes him off… and brushes him off again… and again. Only until realizing that her dream of writing Hunter’s story is one she cannot accomplish on her own, does she let her highly guarded heart open just a crack. Andrew and Hannah strike a deal; Andrew writes a biography on her terms for $50k. With the encouragement of his music industry girlfriend Finley, Andrew drives from NYC to Maine and moves into Hannah’s guest bedroom. He is then exposed to a world a true fan can only dream of, with one massive catch. Hannah will not stop mourning her late husband. Can fan and family see eye to eye. Can trust break down the walls of Hannah’s suffering? Will intellect stifle healing. In a film where it’s head vs heart, who wins?

Rebecca Hall is flawless as Hannah. Witty, independent, strong headed, Hall plays a woman unwilling to move on with her life. Jason Sudeikis as Andrew is unstoppable. Smart, and quippy as ever, this role is something new for Sudeikis. I love this side of him and hope that the industry, and more writers, take note of his innate ability to be funny in a non-slapstick kind of way. These two are an absolute powerhouse as they match wits with one another in each scene. Rounding out an incredible cast is Dianna Agron as Finley. Life after GLEE fame should treat her well if she keeps up such a strong, believable presence on the big screen. Blythe Danner and Richard Masur play Hannah’s parents. Deeply supportive and yet totally realistic, these two are the perfect counter balance to Andrew’s inability to let go of presumption. Finally, Griffin Dunne plays Hannah’s editor and owner of the town beloved book shop. He brings warmth and charm only a small town holds.

The film was 8 years in the making. Writer Desi Van Til thoughtfully crafted this story partly as a personal healing piece for a lost friend. She skillfully captures the heart of New England, the desperation of grief, and the hold that music has on everyone’s heart. For Director Sean Mewshaw, his first feature length film is a total success. It’s shot in such a way that truly shows the quaintness of the area. Finding “Hunter Miles” or singer Damien Jurado was one of his triumphs. He perfectly encapsulates the feel of the character that was created by Desi, Rebecca, Jason, and Sean. Coming in after the film was already in the can, with his music and lyrics, he “created” a musician we’re all discovering for the first time, but feel like we’ve now lost as well. It might also help that Sean and Desi are husband and wife! This team is a real tour de force and without any solid knowledge (only mere mentions) I predict many captivating projects coming down the pipeline from these two.

Grief is something so personal. No matter how big the hit we feel, it still leaves a hole in our hearts and souls. Sometimes music helps. Sometimes it’s a trigger. Either way, the songs live on long after we’re gone. So sing, I say. TUMBLEDOWN is easily in my top three narrative selections to come out the this year’s festival. It is a must see and definitely a must hear.


 

I was fortunate enough to attend a roundtable interview with Dianna Agron, Jason Sudeikis, Desi Van Til and Sean Mewshaw. We talk issues from the film, insight into the project’s journey, as well as Jason and Dianna’s other releases at the fest. Take a listen to the absolute joy around the table: *You can hear me ask a question about journalistic responsibility and one about Dianna’s similarities to the character of Hannah.* Enjoy the voices of TUMBLEDOWN!

You can still catch a screening of TUMBLEDOWN at the fest this Thursday!! I cannot imagine this film not getting distribution. We will most certainly keep you updated here at RND.

3:30 PM – THU 4/23  REGAL CINEMAS BATTERY PARK 11-11Icon-fg-map ADD $13.50
To find out more about TUMBLEDOWN in the Tribeca Film Guide 2015

Tribeca Film Festival podcast: Liz has tea with Hannah Murray. They chat her new film BRIDGEND, Game Of Thrones fandom, and what’s up next!

1211556_BridgendOnce you find out that a film is based on true events, it tends to enter a different realm. What happens when the usual teenage fair in your new town is one of depression and morbidity? Bridgend captures the imagination and haunts the mind long after you leave the theater. It’s a mysterious and ethereal film, from the locations, to the performances, until the very last scene. Hannah Murray talks about what is was like to be in an area where teens feel so hopeless and trapped that suicide is a logical solution. Passionate about a deadly pact, call it peer pressure or perhaps mob mentality, her character Sara is lured into this strange arena. Can she hold onto herself long enough? That’s the ultimate question. Hannah gives us one of  most intriguing performance so far. This is not easy material to tackle, but a real success by director Jeppe Rønde and the entire cast. Take a listen to her thoughts on this unusual phenomenon, what’s it like to be part of one of the biggest shows on television, and what she’s filming right now. For you listening pleasure, we give you a special edition of Girls On Film.

Bridgend  Tribeca

SYNOPSIS: When a police investigator is tasked with investigating a recent string of unexplained tragedies, he arrives in the notorious Welsh county of Bridgend with his daughter Sara (Hannah Murray). Naïve and curious, Sara slowly works her way in with a clique of wild teenagers and discovers what bonds them together so tightly—the ritualistic celebration of their friends’ suicides. Initially frightened by the revelation, her eventual participation in this peculiar observance is cemented when she falls in love with Jamie (Josh O’Connor), another member of the menacing group. The unrelenting darkness that engulfs her peers encroaches on Sara, tainting her relationship with her father and threatening her sanity.

Director Jeppe Rønde‘s debut film is based on a real-life town, which has baffled the world by recording at least 79 suicides since 2007. Darkly lush scenes set in the Welsh countryside are juxtaposed with claustrophobic village twists and turns, creating a sophisticated and gothic depiction of the Bridgend mystery.

 

You can catch the last screening of BRIDGEND at the festival and read more on the film here: Tribeca Film Festival Guide 2015

Reel News Interview Series: Christopher McDonald

Christopher-McDonald

 

On the promotional trail talking about his new film The SqueezeChristopher McDonald called in to talk about the film and what makes golf such a great game!

Make sure you check out my review of the film!

The Squeeze hits VOD and select theaters across the nation on April 17th

Victor Levin’s ‘5 to 7’ brings Parisian romance to New York City.

5 to 7 poster There is something about the French that evokes whimsy and passion. Paris is touted as the romance capital of the world. The language is oozing with lust and the men and women who reside there, are to be envied and adored. But give me NYC, anyday. There are so many stories just waiting to happen. In 5 to 7, we meet Brian, (ANTON YELCHIN) a 24 year old, down and out writer who won’t quit following his passion. He wallpapers his apartment with rejection letters but never stops creating. One day, by sheer chance or perhaps by fate, he looks across the street to find a stunning, French brunette smoking a cigarette. This moment is the catalyst for the entire story. Arielle (BÉRÉNICE MARLOHE) is a married 33 year old woman with two children and a unique understanding with her husband. The two and affair but with rules in place; only from 5-7pm. Arielle’s husband has a mistress, as well. She is Jane (OLIVIA THIRLBY), a 25 year old editor, who has followed the rules for a year already. Brian is welcomed into the “family” with open arms, everything is out in the open, and as unusual as it seems, somehow it works… for the while at least. At some point, sharing the woman of his dreams is too much for Brian to bare and an ultimatum is presented.5 to 7 AntonBereniceThe angst in this film is palpable. The heaviness of the situation and the excitement is wrought from the very beginning. There is something so wrong with this arrangement and yet you cannot help but root for them, and for everyone. The struggle between happiness and traditional thinking is constantly challenged in the script, crafted carefully by Victor Levin who does double duty as Director. As a New Yorker, this film is also a love story with the City itself. Peering into locations like The Guggenheim, Central Park, The St. Regis, and neighborhoods all over Manhattan is a love affair no city dweller can overlook. We are also treated to diverse cultural experiences between young downtown and sophisticated wealthy uptown. “Beer Vs. Wine”, if you will, but all New York City at heart.5 to 7 GlennFrankYelchin, who is in quite a few feature this year alone, is wonderful, charming and insightful as ever.  Marlohe is enchanting and effortless. Rounding out the amazing cast is Glenn Close and Frank Langella as Brian’s parents, Arlene and Sam Bloom. These two pros come into their scenes as if they were married for 30 years. Funny and honest and keeping us on our toes, they are a delight as a foil to Brian and Arielle. 5 to 7 has a built in audience. This film is for anyone who has ever had stars in their eyes and hope in their hearts. It’s a story of choices and finding out how far you’ll go for your happy ending.Victor Levin 5 to 7

In speaking to Victor Levin this week, I got a whole new insight on his first feature. He was simply a gentleman and a scholar and I thank him for every minute of his time. Take a listen to our chat below.

 

5 to 7 opens in theaters today in NY and LA, with a nationwide release next Friday, April 10th. It is also available now on VOD.

 

 

53 Random Prison Movies – This Week on The Reel Big Show

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Whether they are funny, dramatic or full of action (or a combination of both), movies with prison are plenty. This week Michael leads the discussion with Liz and Melissa.

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‘GROWING UP & OTHER LIES’ speaks to the inbetweeners in us all.

GrowingUpAndOtherLies

The city will make you or it will break you. But, perhaps that’s just a myth. How do we survive the rat race that is New York City? The great divide between those living paycheck to paycheck and those who own their own apartment is pretty wide. Do we, as New Yorkers, put that  pressure on ourselves, or is  it the city that places those life expectations on us? In Growing Up & Other Lies, four friends commemorate and commiserate their friendship by deciding to send off one of their crew with a walk along the entire length of the island of Manhattan. It’s the true to life story of Rocks, Gunderson, Billy and Jake. Friends who took their own paths after college. Although they all still reside in the city, like so many of us in our 30’s, life gets in the way and connections become fewer and further between. Jake make a go at living as an artist and now, on the heels of a breakup and a sick father, is a good time to exit the city gracefully. The guys plan to walk the length of the island in one day. Along the way, stopping at points that have meaning or that, maybe, they’ve never stopped to observe before. (Also a common occurrence for natives. You’ll never actually see a New Yorker at The Empire State Building. Ever.) Complications get in the way as they try to ease Jake into making his final decision.

growing up and other lies 1

Written and directed skillfully by Darren Grodsky and  Danny Jacobs, who have been a creative team in the past with the film Humboldt County, Growing Up & Other Lies speaks to anyone who has felt like they aren’t where they planned to be. Life throws you curve balls. Whether you choose to bat is up to you. This is a truly solid ensemble cast. Josh Lawson, Adam Brody, and Wyatt Cenac play Jake, Rocks, and Gunderson, respectively. Danny Jacobs play Billy. Each of these characters is someone you already know. Jake is kind of a self esteem starved mess, Rocks seems like he’s got it together but it’s too good to be true, Wyatt is the smart ass we all need and Danny, well, Danny is the over excited one of the group that sort of makes it easy to pick on. 

growing up and other lies 2

The editing of the film in itself is a beautiful love song to New York. As they travel from one neighborhood to the next, there is a gorgeous “hand drawn” graphic that guide you. The music changes, the view changes, and the guys change. As cliche as it sounds, the film really drives home that life is what you make it. I got the opportunity to talk with Danny and Darren on the phone about the film. (Bare with the Google Voice recording… I heart you so hard Google) Take a listen to our chat below:

Darren Grodsky and  Danny Jacobs talk GROWING UP & OTHER LIES

 

Growing Up & Other Lies is a quintessentially New York film. It’s an homage to the generation surviving between X and Y. Touching and laugh out loud funny, it’s a true testament to the times in our lives we either live to regret or live for.

Synopsis | After struggling for years as an artist in New York City, Jake is calling it quits and returning home to Ohio. On his last day in the city, he persuades his three oldest friends to help him retrace their greatest adventure together: a walk down the entire length of Manhattan.  But their attempt to reclaim the glory of their early 20s doesn’t go quite as planned.

Over the course of the day, buried conflicts emerge as Jake becomes embroiled with his ex-girlfriend and his friends dip into their own crises of manhood. GROWING UP AND OTHER LIES is an anti-coming-of-age comedy.

Written & Directed by | Darren Grodsky and Danny Jacobs (Humboldt County)

Starring | Adam Brody, Wyatt Cenac, Danny Jacobs, Josh Lawson, Amber Tamblyn and Lauren Miller

Run Time | 90 Minutes

Release Date | In theaters and On Demand March 20th

‘BACKCOUNTRY” will scare the shit out of you. Don’t plan on camping ever again. Liz chats with Writer/Director Adam MacDonald.

Backcountry poster

In Connecticut, where I grew up, we bungee cord our trash cans closed. In truth, it does not do a damn thing when Black Bears come into the yard and rip those suckers open like they’re peeling back foil on a yogurt cup. I once had a very close encounter when I almost hit a baby bear while pulling into the driveway. And we all know what baby bears mean, right? Mama is not far behind. Although I now live in Manhattan, I have not fully left behind the days of hiking and camping in a tent. None of this fancy RV business for my family. We had a tent, built legit fires, and funded the new wing of the L.L. Bean flagship store as any respectable New Englander should. By no means do I consider myself any sort of expert on the outdoors, but damnit, I was a campfire girl. I earned badges. Watching Adam MacDonald‘s new film BACKCOUNTRY kinda ruined all those blissful memories for me. To be clear, I mean that in the best way possible. BackcountryMissyStillJenn and Alex take a few days off from their city life to go hiking in a state park where Alex had spent time as a youngster. Insistent that he knows where they are heading sans map, Jenn musters up the confidence to trust her boyfriend’s experience, although she’s no dummy. Jenn is armed with bear spray and a flare, just for comfort. Along the way, they encounter an odd fellow named Brad. Brad is a backcountry tour guide who instantly challenges Alex’s manhood. It’s not long before the audience senses the dread on Alex’s face. We know as soon as he does, they are lost. In the middle of the woods, no map, no other people anywhere is screaming distance, can these two survive long enough to make it back to civilization? Certain doom.

unnamedMissy Peregrym is a force as Jenn. Her vulnerability is only matched by her wit and strength, as she claws her way through this nightmare. Jeff Roop plays Alex.  He’s a well meaning guy, if not a tad emasculated via circumstance. You completely buy that these two are a couple. Their chemistry is palpable and wholeheartedly relatable. You feel for them as you fear for them. Eric Balfour plays creepy man, Brad. He is great in every role. There is something just off enough about his demeanor to keep you on your toes. Balfour is that guy you never want to meet in this scenario. The uncomfortable factor hits a high notes once he steps onto the screen. Massive high five to Adam MacDonald for injecting elements of truth into the script. Even if you aren’t an avid outdoors person, this film will still freak you out. Nature is not something to be trifled with. You need to respect it. you’re in its house out there. BackcountryJeffStillThe film has a fantastic sense of peril from the get go. Cute couple, venturing off in the wilderness, unaccompanied, already equals “bad shit is most definitely going down”, all attributed to MacDonald‘s brilliant sense of realism. The sound editing is exquisite and the hand held camera work makes you feel like you’re right with Jenn and Alex, even if you wish you weren’t. With a 15 day shooting schedule, the quality of practical effects in Backcountry is huge. These guys should teach a masterclass based solely on one scene on the film. Combined with genius use of soft focus probably saves the audience from actually vomiting while watching. (Again, total compliment.) BackcountryBradStillI got to have an awesome conversation with Adam. I’m pretty sure we’re friends now in some weird , fellow camper, bear scare induced, land. The following is our chat. We delve into some pretty spoilery questions about the film, talk about the subway, women in film, and pretty much everything in between. And, don’t worry, that moment of silence in there is when Adam was pulling up a picture that Missy sent him on his phone, so hang in there. It continues to be pretty great.

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BACKCOUNTRY will be available in theaters and on VOD Friday, March 20th.