Nobody can deny that Terry Gilliam is one tenacious filmmaker. We all know the trials and tribulations of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, his undying passion project that’s been in the making for well over 20 years with a revolving door of stars and a lot of terrible, no good luck. Whatever could go wrong for this movie seemingly did, but what matters now is this: The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is finally finished.
The end result is, in typical Gilliam fashion, a rush of creativity and imagination. “This is Gilliam at his most playful in decades and his distinct blend of slapstick, silly raunch, biting satire, and electric wit is on full display here,” managing editor Jacob Hall wrote after he saw the film at South by Southwest. With The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, Gilliam doesn’t hold back, but according to him, it’s always the limitations that bring out the best in his work.
He told us plenty more about his process, past films, and The Man Who Killed Don Quixote during a wide-ranging interview.
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With only three movies, writer/director S. Craig Zahler has established quite a voice for himself. The Brawl in Cell Block 99 director’s first three films are wholly uncompromising and polarize audiences in a time when so many filmmakers default to playing it safe. Few people are walking out of Zahler’s violent pictures shrugging their shoulders without a strong opinion, that’s for certain.
Zahler’s latest and most accomplished movie, Dragged Across Concrete, stars Vince Vaughn and Mel Gibson in an epic crime movie that depicts extreme violence and racism without ever moralizing horrific words and actions that already speak for themselves. Zahler – a director with a strong distaste for message movies – lets the terrible actions do the talking. He’s not afraid to challenge an audience, for good or bad. When we recently spoke with the critically acclaimed director, we asked him about the varying reactions to his work and more.
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A serious, timely question: Who on Earth doesn’t have love for William Fichtner? The actor brings it every time, no matter the size of the role – which, as he recently told us, is not something he cares about. Whether he’s one of the stars or only on screen for a scene or two, he always leaves an impression. Now, he’s one of the leads of Mark Steven Johnson‘s playful heist movie Finding Steve McQueen, a true story about an eclectic gang of criminals stealing Richard Nixon’s illegal campaign contributions.
Throughout his career, in addition to showing a wide range in a wide variety of films and TV shows, he’s starred in movies that are already proving to stand the test of time. The Dark Knight, Go, Black Hawk Down, and the works of Michael Bay: those movies aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Recently, we spoke with Fichtner about his experiences on those films and his collaborations with Christopher Nolan, Michael Bay, Sir Ridley Scott, and others.
Below, take a trip down memory lane with the one and only William Fichtner.
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Captive State is a sci-fi thriller that moves like clockwork. Director Rupert Wyatt‘s film always maintains its propulsion without any redundancies or large chunks of tedious exposition. Like the characters trying to start an uprising in a world dominated by aliens, Wyatt and co-writer Erica Beeney always keep their story moving. Compared to other bloated or gigantic alien invasion movies, Captive State is a refreshingly minimalist and stripped down sci-fi movie.
Similar to Wyatt’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, there’s a sense of grounding and familiarity that doesn’t make it too hard to suspend one’s disbelief and buy into this world. It’s so grounded, in fact, Beeney and Wyatt often looked to history for inspiration. Beeney, who previously wrote the Project Greenlight movie The Battle of Shaker Heights, recently told us about some of Captive State‘s influences, whether it’s a political film, and writing a surprisingly empathetic antagonist.
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Rosa Salazar is the heart and soul of Alita: Battle Angel. The actress, known for her work in the Maze Runner series, breathes life into what’s easily Robert Rodriguez‘s biggest and most sincere movie. The scale of the James Cameron-produced manga adaptation is a treat for the eyes, but Alita is the main attraction of this spectacle, and the reason it’s easy to get lost in the world.
Alita is another major accomplishment for Weta, as well as for Rodriguez and Salazar. The character, who was created via motion capture, is as dense and nuanced as her futuristic world, if not more so. Whether she’s eating a chocolate bar for the first time or playing a game of Motorball, she’s always growing, always learning, and always entertaining. Recently, Salazar told us about the work that went into playing Alita, studying the source material, and one pivotal scene that left her conflicted.
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Alita: Battle Angel isn’t a movie set in the future that’s all about doom and gloom. Director Robert Rodriguez‘s grand spectacle tells a story with genuine warmth and kindness, thanks in no small part to the presence of actor Christoph Waltz. Playing Dr. Dyson Ido, who discovers Alita in a heap of trash and jolts her back to life, Waltz helps make Rodriguez’s adaptation of Yukito Kishiro‘s manga series more heartfelt than a typical studio movie (which Alita: Battle Angel most certainly is not).
Waltz plays a paternal role and watches Alita’s self-discovery unfold like the audience does. Another part of Waltz’s role and job: assisting in explaining the world, Alita, and the tech. The actor does plenty of heavy lifting for the story, but like Cameron’s handle for world building, Waltz does it all with a natural ease. Plus, if there’s one actor you’re going to immediately buy as a brilliant scientist and doctor, it’s the Inglorious Basterds star, who recently told us about his experience with Rodriguez, cinematographer Bill Pope (The Matrix), and producer James Cameron during a brief phone interview.
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Alita: Battle Angel has been a long time coming. Based on Yukito Kishiro‘s manga series Battle Angel Alita, the big and intimate Robert Rodriguez film was once going to be directed by producer James Cameron, who ended up choosing Avatar over the property. Cameron ultimately handed directorial duties over to Rodriguez, who helped whip Cameron’s epic script into a manageable length.
Even with a different director at the helm, producer Jon Landau wanted to make a James Cameron-style event film, describing the movie as “a movie with themes bigger than its genre” and “has a central relatable character, who on many levels, is an ordinary character who ends up doing extraordinary things against this epic backdrop.” Alita: Battle Angel, which the site’s own Hoai-Tran Bui rightfully praised as Hollywood’s first good manga adaptation, certainly checks those boxes.
We spoke to Landau recently and he told us a bit more about the project’s history, working with Cameron, deleted scenes, and Avatar 2.
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Piercing doesn’t ever pull a punch. The title of writer-director Nicolas Pesce‘s adaptation of Ryû Murakami‘s novel of the same name couldn’t be more fitting. From its earliest images, audience members will know if this movie, which features visceral body horror, S&M, and cruel and ridiculous laughs, speaks to them.
Pesce, who previously directed The Eyes of My Mother and will follow this up with a remake of The Grudge, again establishes himself as a bold director with Piercing. “Pesce delivers a carefully crafted sophomore feature that explores the dangerous limits taken to rectify trauma and fulfill various desires,” Marisa Mirabal wrote in her review for the site. “A sick and stylish love letter to Giallo films of the ‘70s, Piercing is cinematic kink at its finest.”
It’s a love letter to Giallo and more, as Pesce recently told us in conversation about his influences, references, and taste in movies.
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Pete Holmes is more successful in season 3 of Crashing, but not much happier. The generally happy-go-lucky comedian is playing for churches and getting laughs, but he’s not performing like himself, worsening his struggle to find his voice or sense of self in the comedy world. Holmes – the character – hits some professional and personal lows this season.
While the Judd Apatow-produced series often shows the joy and camaraderie in Holmes’ standup career, it’s usually about failure and not always pleasant. The latest episode in season three, “MC, Middle, and Headliner,” tells a story about hate speech, sexual misconduct, and sexism, making the episode almost as much about the time we’re in as it is about the characters. In the episode, Pete, Ali (Jamie Lee), and Jason Weber (Dov Davidoff) go perform together at a cheesy comedy club, where Jason Weber – always the least progressive and self-aware character on the show – is confronted about his behavior and the sort of comedian he represents.
It’s a substantial episode in the entertaining but weighty third season, which we recently discussed with Holmes.
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Over the last 10 years, actor James Badge Dale has built himself one mighty impressive resume. Badge Dale’s career began when he was a kid in 1990 with a role in an adaptation of Lord of the Flies, but after that, and years after playing hockey and suffering an injury, he went to the theater where he found his passion for acting. Since his theater days, he’s delivered consistently high quality of performances for some of the best filmmakers around.
Now, he’s the lead in The Standoff at Sparrow Creek – a tense mystery mostly set in one location about a militia trying to discover which one of their own was behind a shooting at a police funeral. As a former cop turned militia man, Badge Dale brings a real sense of urgency to writer-director Henry Dunham‘s propulsive thriller. When speaking with the actor about the film, he not only told us about his experience on his latest movie, but some of his past jobs as well, from The Departed to The Pacific to working with Michael Bay and more.
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