Steve James Life Itself

NOTE: Life Itself is now in theaters and on demand. To mark the occasion, we’re republishing our interview with director Steve James that took place following the film’s premiere at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

Steve James credits Roger Ebert with launching his career. It was Ebert’s championing of James’ first film Hoop Dreams, at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival, which put that film on people’s radars. James scored an Oscar nomination and the film enjoyed a successful box office run. Afterwards, the two remained friends and James was eventually tasked with directing Life Itself, a documentary based on Ebert’s memoir.

Soon after filming began, Ebert tragically passed away. James endured and finished the film in time for the 20th anniversary of the beginning of his relationship with Ebert, the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. It’s a gorgeous, heartbreaking look at the career of the man many consider to be the most influential film critic in history.

During Sundance I was lucky enough to talk to James about the film. We discussed his approach to the story, balancing the tragedy with humor, the relationship between critic and filmmaker, and the choice to include Gene Siskel’s story. Check it out below. Read More »

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Transformers 4

There’s a very short list of Hollywood producers who are names unto themselves. On that list is Lorenzo di Bonaventura, of both the G.I. Joe and Transformers franchises. He’s also the producer of Salt, Red, Side Effects, Jack Ryan, Beverly Hills Cop 4 and more. The guy is a proven hit-maker with a great handle on the pulse of mainstream audiences.

His latest film, Transformers: Age of Extinction, is more of the same. Despite being savaged by critics, audiences are once again turning out for the franchise. On the occasion of that release, we had the pleasure of speaking with di Bonaventura about a few things. We talked about producing for Michael Bay, and the choice of using Dinobots not only in the film, but in the marketing as well. I asked about the length of the film, the inevitability of Bay leaving the franchise, and what the ending of this film means for Transformers 5, currently slotted for 2016. Finally, I just had to ask about my favorite Transformer, Hot Rod. Read all his answers below in our full interview with Transformers: Age of Extinction producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura Read More »

Bong Snowpiercer

After some protracted disagreements with the Weinstein Company, Bong Joon-Ho’s Snowpiercer will finally hit theaters this weekend in the form that Bong intended. I’ve been a huge fan of Bong Joon-Ho since I saw Memories of Murder on DVD years ago. I find that he’s able to deftly balance wildly divergent tones in his films, from the zany to the serious, from the fantastical to the relatable.

While I had a few issues with Snowpiercer’s script (particularly some of its third-act exposition), it’s a singular film that’s like nothing else out in theaters right now. If you are lucky enough to have this film playing in a theater near you, definitely check it out.

I had the chance to chat with Bong Joon-Ho when he was here in Seattle hosting a Q&A for the film. We spoke through a translator and discussed the use of violence in Snowpiercer, his script-writing process with Kelly Masterson, and his struggles to get final cut. This interview has been edited for length and clarity, and to eliminate spoilers.
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Phil Lord and Christopher Miller

It seems like a minor miracle that 22 Jump Street is as good as it is, seeing as it’s a sequel to a reboot that few people thought sounded like a good idea in the first place. Then again, projects that sound questionable on paper have become kind of a specialty for directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller. “Yeah, it seems like our career is based on an extended dare,” Miller concedes good-naturedly.

But that doesn’t mean they necessarily want things to stay that way. ”It would be nice at some point to do something that people expects to be good. Although then with high expectations come a lot more pressure.” So what do the pair have coming up next? Hit the jump to read my full interview with the pair and find out.

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Jack Reynor and Nicola Peltz Transformers 4 interview

In August 2013, I flew to Detroit Michigan to visit the set of Michael Bay‘s Transformers 4: Age of Extinction. You can read about what I learned on the visit here. While on set, we also got a chance to talk to the cast and crew. We’ll be posting those interviews throughout the week. We’ve posted our interviews with director Michael Bayproducer Lorenzo di Bonaventura and star Mark Wahlberg. Today we bring you an interview with Transformers 4 stars Jack Reynor and Nicola Peltz, who play love interests in the film. Nicola Peltz plays the daughter of Mark Wahlberg’s character and Jack Reynor plays her secret boyfriend that her father doesn’t know about. Read our Jack Reynor and Nicola Peltz Transformers 4 interview after the jump.

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Mark Wahlberg Transformers 4 interview

In August 2013, I flew to Detroit Michigan to visit the set of Michael Bay‘s Transformers 4: Age of Extinction. You can read about what I learned on the visit here. While on set, we also got a chance to talk to the cast and crew. We’ll be posting those interviews throughout the week. We’ve posted our interviews with director Michael Bay and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura. Today we bring you an interview with Transformers 4 star Mark Wahlberg.Read our Mark Wahlberg Transformers 4 interview after the jump.

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Transformers 4 Lorenzo di Bonaventura interview

In August 2013, I flew to Detroit Michigan to visit the set of Michael Bay‘s Transformers 4: Age of Extinction. You can read about what I learned on the visit here. While on set, we also got a chance to talk to the cast and crew. We’ll be posting those interviews throughout the week. Yesterday we posted our interview with director Michael Bay. Today we bring you an interview with Transformers 4 producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, who explains the differences between this film and the prior trilogy and gives us some insight on how a Transformers film is developed and produced. Read our Lorenzo di Bonaventura Transformers 4 interview after the jump.

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michael bay transformers 4 interview

In August 2013, I flew to Detroit Michigan to visit the set of Michael Bay‘s Transformers 4: Age of Extinction. You can read about what I learned on the visit here. While on set, we also got a chance to talk to the cast and crew. We’ll be posting those interviews throughout the week. First up is our roundtable interview with director Michael Bay. We were able to grab some time with the director in between shots as the crew reloaded explosives and reconfigured elaborate tentpole action set-ups. He got pulled away a couple times for production, so some of his answers end abruptly. That said, it’s a good interview and a great glimpse inside the mind of one of the biggest working action directors of our time (or should I say of our age?). Read our Michael Bay Transformers 4 interview after the jump.

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