Netflix’s Dolemite is My Name is writer-director Craig Brewer‘s first movie in eight years. Before this, Brewer, who made his debut with The Poor & Hungry and broke out with Hustler & Flow, last directed the 2011 Footloose remake. Since then, he’s written scripts that never got the green light and directed several episodes of Fox’s Empire. But after eight years away from a film set, Brewer returned sharper, not rustier, with a true story championing artists like comedian, actor, and filmmaker Rudy Ray Moore (played by Eddie Murphy).
Together, Brewer and Murphy returned with a bang. “Dolemite Is My Name makes it official: Eddie Murphy is back,” /Film’s own Chris Evangelista wrote in his review. “Here’s hoping he doesn’t go away again.” Murphy will be back next year in another Craig Brewer movie, Coming 2 America. After speaking with the filmmaker, it sounds like we could see even more from them in the future. Brewer told us about the joys of working with Eddie Murphy, his career leading up to Dolemite is My Name, and plenty more during a recent interview.
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Watchmen showed audiences another side of actor Tim Blake Nelson. As Wade Tillman (a.k.a. Looking Glass), Nelson is more imposing than ever before. The reserved cop, to put it mildly, doesn’t need to beat anybody to a pulp to prove or illustrate his immense strength. Look no further than the interrogation scene to see a man in complete control of his surroundings, body, and power.
Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Nelson’s casting imbued an authenticity to Wade and the setting of Damon Lindelof‘s magnum opus. As a storyteller himself, having written and directed several films, including the thinking man’s stoner pic, Leaves of Grass, Nelson is as much in awe of Watchmen‘s storytelling as the rest of us. After the series concluded with answers as exciting as the questions, we spoke to Nelson about his experience working on and watching the show, acting opposite of Regina King, and similarities between Minority Report and Watchmen.
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Posted on Wednesday, December 25th, 2019 by Jack Giroux
One of Apple TV’s first major shows, See, couldn’t have been more in director and executive producer Francis Lawrence‘s wheelhouse. The director behind The Hunger Games sequels, I Am Legend, and Constantine is no stranger to expansive fantastical worlds. Created by Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders), See presents a future where sight is a thing of the past. No one can see, which presents the visual challenges Lawrence relishes as a director.
It’s not the first time Lawrence has defined the aesthetic and tone of a show as a filmmaker. He directed three episodes of NBC’s Kings, which was a short-lived but entertaining show that probably would’ve resonated more today, and the premiere of Tim Kring‘s Touch. All high-concept projects. Recently, we talked to Lawrence about the type of material that appeals to him, including See, as well as growing as a director and his most-watched work, Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” video.
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Keith and Jess Wu Calder have been going strong for 15 years now. The producers behind Snoot Entertainment set out to never repeat themselves, and mission accomplished because they haven’t. Over the course of their producing careers, they’ve given the world Blindspotting, Anomalisa, The Guest, and more. They’re the sort of producers who make the types of movies they actually love, including their most recent film, Little Monsters (now on Hulu). Directed by Abe Forsythe, it’s a sweet horror-comedy with a lot of zombies, bloodshed, and Neil Diamond fandom.
Look no further than their body-of-work to know they’re producers with good intentions and taste, both willing to take chances. Their most recent productions include Corporate Animals and Blindspotting, and they’re now working with Starz on a TV show based on the latter. Recently, they told us about making the movies they love, experiences and lessons from their 15 years of running Snoot Entertainment, and the films that inspire them.
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Sir Ian McKellen looks like he really enjoys being Sir Ian McKellen. During a two and a half hour one-man show in London, the legend sent electricity through the Harold Pinter Theater with his radiant joy and passion. He relished every line of dialogue he spoke, created a personable and direct dialogue with his captivated audience, and yes, he did shout, “You shall not pass!” In fact, McKellen started his traveling one-man show by reading a passage from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring and delivering that very line; so by saying things only got better from there, you can imagine how the rest of the show was a magical experience. It was an unforgettable performance witnessing pure greatness perform right in front of your very eyes.
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The Russo Brothers’ latest film, a little cultural phenomenon called Avengers: Endgame, is the highest-grossing movie of all time. Joe and Anthony Russo‘s first movie, however, has never even seen the light of day. Before their superhero and television days, the directors bet big on themselves with their feature directorial debut, Pieces, which took them three years to make, cost them $30,000 and landed them in serious credit card debut. Besides a premiere at the Slamdance Film School, the indie film has never been available to an audience.
When we spoke to the Russo Brothers about 21 Bridges, they told us about their hope to one day release their first movie.
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When talking about a mid-sized crime thriller set in New York City, “contained” isn’t the right word to describe it. But when talking to producers Joe and Anthony Russo, contained is the right word in comparison to their other recent work. The directors saw 21 Bridges as both a breather from their massive Marvel movies and a callback to the gritty New York crime stories they grew up watching with their dad. The thriller, which was directed by Brian Kirk (Game of Thrones), reunites them with Chadwick Boseman.
21 Bridges is the first major project from the Russo Brothers since the record-smashing success they had with Avengers: Endgame earlier this year. Since then, they’ve finished filming Cherry, and continue developing projects as producers. Now that they’re billed as “the visionary directors of Avengers: Endgame,” they want to support other creatives the best way they can, as Steven Soderbergh once did for them.
It’s a story they told us in a recent career-spanning interview about New York crime stories, life and moviemaking after Marvel, and their unique career paths.
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Chuck Palahniuk‘s Survivor isn’t the most commercial concept for a film adaptation. For a long time now, a movie based on Palahniuk’s dark comedy has struggled to reach theaters, and back in 2007, Francis Lawrence was one of the filmmakers who gave it a shot. As the I Am Legend and Mockingjay director told us, the book is a difficult nut to crack, but he’s currently attempting to adapt it as a television series. Lawrence now has the option to the book again, and he is excited about it.
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Posted on Wednesday, November 20th, 2019 by Jack Giroux
Have you ever experienced the simple pleasures of binge-watching the show Happy Endings? If not, you’re missing out, because in a word: it’s ah-mah-zing. The ABC series is a warm blanket of a comedy with its lovable characters and kind-hearted sense of humor. Even its opening credits create a warm feeling. Created by David Caspe (Black Monday), the comedy lasted for three seasons, two years, and 57 episodes, and while that is a lot of content and fun to be had, it was still canceled too soon.
Imagine if the show came out today, though, with an advertisement proclaiming, “From the visionary directors of Avengers: Endgame,” Joe and Anthony Russo. The filmmakers executive-produced the comedy and directed a handful of episodes, so when we spoke to them at the 21 Bridges press day, of course, we had to ask them about this, their greatest achievement.
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Chances are, you’ve all been watching and appreciating Chris O’Hara‘s work for a long time without even realizing it. He’s been in the stunt world going back to the early ’90s and worked on Fight Club with frequent collaborator, stunt performer-turned-Hobbs & Shaw director David Leitch. Since then, the stunt performer-turned-stunt coordinator has worked with the Wachowskis, he contributed to the John Wick films and, undoubtedly the most dangerous stunt job of them all, We Bought A Zoo. He’s brought his expertise to huge franchises, including Jurassic World and The Hunger Games. During a press day for the Blu-Ray release of Hobbs & Shaw, we got a chance to talk to him about his latest work.
After speaking with O’Hara, I actually got to recreate a stunt from the movie with the help of a few very cool stuntmen. Just as you might exactly imagine, I made Dwayne Johnson’s skills pale in comparison. “It’s like a dance,” the stuntmen would say, breaking down the specific steps required to properly kick someone in the groin. (Keep your foot flat facing downward, if you’re interested.) Experiencing the specificity of the subtlest of moves, really, made the fight scenes in Hobbs & Shaw all the more impressive and artful. It truly is like a dance — except with more liability and danger. Go too far with an elbow hit and, well, it’s not pretty. Imagine an elbow landing on a temple and try not to cringe. Even seemingly minor moves are ripe with danger. Another observation from working with these stuntmen: as shown by the Academy Awards, they just don’t get enough of the love or acclaim they deserve. One of them even remarked it was nice to see excitement and appreciation over what they do for a living.
Below, you can find a few nuggets of information we learned from speaking with O’Hara about his take on the next-level fights in the John Wick franchise, finding stuntmen to fight alongside Dwayne Johnson, and the athleticism of Jason Statham.
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