It can’t be understated what a big deal Night Watch was in Russia. It was the highest-grossing Russian film ever produced and changed the game there when it was released in 2004. With a small budget by Hollywood standards, director Timur Bekmambetov created an ambitious and morally ambiguous horror-fantasy film for adults. The sequel, Day Watch, expanded on the world, cranked up the action, and went wild with its candy store visuals. Hollywood wasted no time calling Bekmambetov, who went on to direct Wanted and other major studio movies.

The filmmaker never got around to directing the third film in the trilogy, Twilight Watch, but he’s still interested. But it would involve a major style change.

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nobody trailer

Bob Odenkirk plays a familiar but new action hero in Nobody. “Hero” might even be a stretch for the family man who goes back to his old violent ways, but Odenkirk grounds and livens up the archetypal hero. We see a man who’s not the biggest guy in the room dealing with exhaustion and pain. It’s a nice change of pace from a typical studio action movie.

It’s a change, too, that Odenkirk never imagined in his career until Better Call Saul. The actor, whose own experience with a home invasion inspired this film, has been with the project since its earliest days. After the experience of starring in his first major action movie, Odenkirk told us he’d gladly star in more action movies if given the call.

The acclaimed actor sat down with us over Zoom and told us about the similarities between comedy and action, as well as his desire to star in more action films in the future.

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nobody review

Ilya Naishuller doesn’t let a second go to waste in Nobody. It’s a lean and mean R-rated action-comedy that begins and ends with a relentless pace while never forsaking character. Still, compared to Naishuller’s directorial debut, Hardcore Henry, his second feature is patient. The musician-filmmaker threw everything he had into the kitchen sink with his first (love-it-or-hate-it) action movie.

Naishuller first directing credit, however, was a music video for his Russian indie rock band, called Biting Elbows. He remains in the band, which released the album, “Shorten the Longing,” last June. The filmmaker has helmed several music videos for his band, as well as for the band Leningrad. In Nobody, in particular, you can sense Naishuller’s career in music, especially when it comes to the steady flow and rhythm of the action.

Recently, we sat down with the filmmaker over Zoom as he told us about crafting his newest film’s set pieces, his aversion to shaky cam, and more. Nobody is in theaters today.

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Joe Carnahan Interview boss level

There are certain directors who could easily be a character in one of their own movies. Joe Carnahan is one of those filmmakers. He’s got an energy and personality that would feel right at home in his more fast-talking, adrenaline-fueled movies. Of course, Carnahan starred in his first movie, Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane, and appeared in his bombastic popcorn movie The A-Team, as well as his one night-gone-wrong in Los Angeles film, Stretch. 

When you talk to the director, you hear the same voice we hear in his work, including his latest movie, Boss LevelIt’s an action movie set in a time loop in which Carnahan gets to kill his latest movie’s producer, Frank Grillo, over and over again. Last year, the director behind Ticker reunited with Grillo for the already-in-the-can, Copshop. Recently, we talked to the filmmaker about his latest movie, both his madcap and dramatic work, streaming, and collaborating with Grillo and, controversially, Mel Gibson.

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This year marks the 20th anniversary of Donnie Darko. Although not a box-office success, it didn’t take long for the cult film and director Richard Kelly to find a devoted audience. The filmmaker struck a strong chord with his debut, which had an obsessive quality about it. That overwhelming sense of obsession continued to run deep in Kelly’s movies, including Southland Tales and The Box.

They’re typically dense pieces of work demanding discussion and repeat viewings. Even with only three directorial efforts, we have a strong sense of who Kelly is – an always ambitious and polarizing storyteller. He never goes down the middle of the road, which has led to long waits between each of his movies. It’s been almost 12 years since we saw the director’s last film, The Box, which was a loose adaptation of a Richard Matheson short story. In that time, Kelly has been writing like mad and trying to push rocks up a hill.

Recently, Kelly told us about the projects he’s been developing and his unconventional career.

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dead pigs release

Dead Pigs is the kind of directorial debut that declares a new voice is on the scene. “Pure” is a word that comes up in our conversation with filmmaker Cathy Yan, whose first feature-length film is just that. It called to mind a Danny Boyle quote, that first movies often represent your best work because you never know if you’ll get another shot, so why not try everything you’ve dreamed of seeing in a movie?

Dead Pigs plays exactly like that – an unfiltered dream. It has a strange magic to it. There are the dead pigs; skyscraper’s bright lights contrasted with the streets and country life; a heroine (played by Vivian Wu) in a lone house dedicated to respecting the past and fighting the future; and both a singalong and a wonderful reference to the 2006 film Step Up. Yan’s debut is inspiringly brazen and bursting with life and personality. That personal style made Yan’s sophomore effort, Birds of Prey, one of the hipper comic book movies in recent years.

Yan’s debut caught the eye of Margot Robbie, who was impressed by the scope of the characters and world Yan captured. “You can’t pull off a film in China for as little money as she had, and make it look so incredible, and still care about the characters more than anything,” Robbie said. “She just — in my mind — nailed it.”

After years of limbo, Dead Pigs is finally available to stream on Mubi today. We spoke to Yan about revisiting her debut film years after she shot it and the joy of having a movie that shows who she is finally out in the world.

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Southland Tales prequel

Southland Tales debuted almost 15 years ago at the Cannes Film festival. All of these years later, love it or hate it, the Richard Kelly film remains something movie fans keep talking about. The conversation around the ambitious science fiction film continues as Arrow Films has released a limited edition Blu-Ray, including the infamous “Cannes cut,” which runs longer than the theatrical version. This version remains unfinished, without all the effects work complete, but nonetheless, Kelly’s pop culture-infused surrealist epic gets more breathing room. It’s fuller yet more relaxed compared to the theatrical cut.

Over the past few years, the lunacy and nightmarish imagery of Southland Tales came to mind more than once or twice. We spoke to Kelly about the movie’s mirror of the world, his Cannes experience, and his plans for future stories in the Southland Tales universe.

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Unearthed

Doug Liman resists paths of convention. The director, who’s always prided himself as a rule-breaker, typically doesn’t follow trends but establishes them. Look at The Bourne IdentitySwingers, and even Mr. & Mrs. Smith – other movies have tried to copy their success. Once again, Liman ventured into uncharted territory with Locked Down.

Liman shot the heist movie, which is more of a relationship drama, during the ongoing lockdown in London. There is a third act heist involving the garish Harrods department store, but it’s not the main focus of the HBO Max release. The first 90 minutes of Locked Down are a suitably, dizzyingly claustrophobic experience that depicts a couple crumbling during the pandemic.

It was only months ago when Liman started shooting the Steven Knight-written movie, which was quickly filmed, edited, and sold to HBO Max. As Liman stated, the surreal experience began when he flew his “little prop plane” over the Atlantic on a two-day journey to London.

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Doug Liman changed the game with The Bourne Identity. The director’s grounded vision for what many eventually came to see as “America’s James Bond” influenced action movies for years, and arguably still continues to do so. When James Bond was rebooted with Casino Royale and beyond, audiences and critics spotted an unmistakable Bourne influence. More inner conflict, more brutal hand-to-hand combat, and the gadgets and toys flew out the window. 007 became a spy in the modern world, similar to the tone Liman struck with his Robert Ludlum adaptation.

To this day, Liman doesn’t know how to feel about it.

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Robert Rodriguez Directing The Mandalorian

Robert Rodriguez has made a throwback to his Spy Kids and The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl days. We Can Be Heroes is another Rodriguez kids’ movie full of rainbow colors, unrestrained giddiness, and childlike imagination. The original Netflix superhero movie is wish-fulfillment for children. It’s also another movie that feels hand-crafted by Rodriguez, a famously do-it-yourself filmmaker.

It’s a big month for the director, who reintroduced audiences to Boba Fett in a killer episode of The Mandalorian. Both the director’s entry in the Star Wars universe and addition to Netflix’s library bears his signature eye for playful escapism. With almost 30 years in the business, Rodriguez’s childlike wonder for filmmaking remains firmly intact.

That enthusiasm comes through on-screen and even over the phone when you interview the Austin-based director, who recently told us about the benefits of creating original properties, lessons from George Lucas and James Cameron, and his fond memories from making Alita: Battle Angel.

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