popstar

The Lonely Island joined forces 15 years ago. Instead of waiting around and struggling to find work, the trio — Jorma TacconeAndy Samberg, and Akiva Schaffer — began generating their own, which led to them working on Saturday Night Live. “Lazy Sunday,” “Dick in a Box,” “Laser Cats,” and their other digital shorts are some of SNL’s most memorable sketches from the past decade or so. The Lonely Island has always had a talent for music as well, a skill that’s on full display in their latest project, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.

Samberg stars as Conner4Real, a pop star struggling with ego and failure, and Schaffer and Taccone co-star as his former bandmates. The trio co-wrote the film, and Schaffer and Taccone also co-directed. Taccone, whose last feature was MacGruber (he’ll make the sequel “before he dies,” he promised), was kind enough to discuss Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping with us.

Below, read our Jorma Taccone interview (minor spoilers are ahead).

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Finding Dory

Most of the Pixar films have a co-director, yet most everyone who watches a Pixar movie probably has no idea what the co-director does. So while I was doing a long-lead press day for Pixar’s upcoming sequel Finding Dory, I decided to ask director Andrew Stanton to help explain how his co-director Angus MacLane contributes to the overall film.

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1998 The Avengers oral history

In June 1987, in an interview for The New York Times, Stanley Kubrick spoke glowingly about a series of Michelob beer commercials.

“They’re just boy-girl, night-fun,” Kubrick praised, “leading up to pouring the beer, all in 30 seconds, beautifully edited and photographed. Economy of statement is not something that films are noted for.”

That piece published on a Sunday. The following day—after interested parties tracked down who was responsible for these spots—the phone of fashion photographer turned commercial director Jeremiah Chechik started rining off the hook.

Living up to that hype, Jeremiah Chechik’s first feature, Christmas Vacation, dazzled at the box office. Over the next decade, Chechik continued to rise up the ranks, establishing himself as a profitable director and, perhaps as importantly, a director known to work well with actors and the studios. Which is why, in the mid-‘90s, he was tapped by Warner Bros. to direct a $60 million summer action film based on a popular ‘60’s British TV show called The Avengers. With a stellar cast (Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman and Sean Connery) a legendary producer (Jerry Weintraub) and a top-tier British screenwriter (Don Macpherson), The Avengers seemed like a can’t miss film.

Unfortunately though, it missed the mark by a wide margin and drastically changed the trajectory of Jeremiah Chechik’s career. But what, at first, may have looked like a fall from grace wound up leading Chechik to terrific success in another medium. To find out what went wrong and then, ultimately, what went right, we spoke with the talented filmmaker and took a stroll down memory lane…

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The Never-ending Story Tami Stronach interview

When I saw the Spotify ad with all grown up Atreyu flying around on Falcor listening to Limahl’s theme song to The Neverending Story, I tweeted about it. This caught the attention of Tami Stronach, who when she was 11 played the Childlike Empress in the film. She’s been engaging fans with Falcor drawing contests and news about her current activities, so I arranged an interview with Stronach by phone out of New York.

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new casey jones origin

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows brings back all the heroes in a half shell from the last film, but it also introduces a brand-new hero into this world: Casey Jones, played by Stephen Amell. And although the hockey-stick wielding vigilante has been a part of the Turtles mythology since the ’80s, Amell gets to build the character from the ground up, and bring some new twists to him in the process.

“We are meeting the character at a very early part of his evolution,” Amell told me during a post-set visit interview.  “When we meet Casey Jones in the movie, he’s not a vigilante, he’s a corrections officer.” Amell knows his character looks more “clean cut” than past iterations, and that’s by design. “Basically, you’re looking at a Casey Jones that tried to do it the good way and tried to live on the straight and narrow, and it just didn’t work out for him,” he teased. “And so he gets that glint in his eye, maybe a few shadings of what might become as a character.”

While we’ve got a few more weeks to wait until we really get to meet the new Casey Jones, Paramount has revealed a nice little taste of Amell’s performance — including his rough and athletic fighting style — in a brand-new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 clip. Watch the video, and then read our full interview with Amell, below.  Read More »

civilwar-onset-russos-stan-evans

A decade ago, the two films Anthony and Joe Russo had under their belts were Welcome to Collinwood and You, Me and Dupree. Now they’re the filmmakers behind Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War. The Russo brothers were initially a surprising choice to direct The Winter Soldier for some Marvel fans, in particular for those unfamiliar with their background in television, but they ultimately proved any skeptics wrong.

Obviously, Marvel is quite pleased with what the directors have done with their heroes, as the duo are currently gearing up to shoot Avengers: Infinity War later this year. Delivering “culmination films of everything that has happened in the Marvel universe” is no small task — indeed, it’s an incredible amount of pressure — but Civil War shows they’re up for the challenge, considering the massive balancing act they’ve accomplished with Marvel’s latest.

In our Anthony and Joe Russo interview, the brothers discuss deconstructing the superhero genre, the film’s central conflict, and Avengers: Infinity War. They both jump into spoiler territory right at the start, so, like our interview with screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, you may want to wait to read this SPOILER-heavy discussion until after you’ve seen Captain America: Civil War.

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Feige

Marvel Studios has come a long way since 2008’s Iron Man. At the time, who would’ve thought that box office hit would pave the way for a superhero frenzy in Hollywood? Perhaps Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige — the man that helped build the Marvel Cinematic Universe — knew. Feige’s latest offering is Captain America: Civil War, a superhero showdown pitting Team Cap and against Team Iron Man.

Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, Civil War is a rather large ensemble story, full of familiar and new characters. Both Black Panther and Spider-Man get plenty of screentime, but more importantly, they serve a purpose in the story. We discussed these two new additions to the MCU with Feige, who also talked about the lessons he learned from the first Iron ManCivil War‘s airport set piece, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and more.

Below, read our Kevin Feige interview. Warning: SPOILERS ahead.

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Captain America Civil War

Captain America: Civil War marks screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely‘s fifth collaboration with Marvel, after Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor 2: The Dark WorldCaptain America: Winter Soldier, and their work on Agent Carter. So it’s not surprising Marvel selected the screenwriting duo to handle an undertaking as large as Avengers: Infinity War.

The stories Markus and McFeely are telling continue to increase in scope, but the two rarely lose sight of character and the story at hand, never spending too much time teasing the future of the MCU. Considering the fact that they had to set up Black Panther, the new Spider-Man, and a tiny bit of Infinity War, it’s impressive how focused and cleanly told Civil War‘s narrative is. Perhaps in less capable hands, Marvel’s latest easily could have been a complete mess.

To learn how the script came together, read our Christoper Markus and Stephen McFeely interview below. Be warned there are SPOILERS ahead for Captain America: Civil War.

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solarbabies oral history

In 1970, an L.A.-born artist who went by the name “Metrov” moved to New York City. He began the decade working as a designer for the famed Push Pin Studios and then eventually made a name for himself as a fine arts painter, working out of a loft studio across the street from Andy Warhol’s Factory. 

In 1979, inspired by a friend and guerilla filmmaker, Metrov came up with an idea for a low-budget, high-concept movie he wanted to direct: Solarbabies. This is a story about what happened next—how it was sold to Mel Brooks, how it was directed by a choreographer—and why, by the time Solarbabies was finally shot, its creator was no longer involved in his creation. 

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