“E.T. on acid” is how director Lars Klevberg initially imagined his Child’s Play remake. Klevberg, known for his short film Polaroid and its unreleased feature-length adaptation, wanted to bring a healthy dose of Spielberg and Amblin to his horror remake. The influence shows, most noticeably when Andy (Gabriel Bateman) and Chucky (voiced by Mark Hamill) are on their own.
Klevberg is probably more referential of Spielberg than the entirety of the original Chucky franchise. He didn’t want to make another horror remake that coasts by on nostalgia, which there’s not much of in Child’s Play. As Klevberg told us, he wanted to make his own Chucky. In addition to the challenges of filming the iconic character in action, the director told us about the movie’s Amblin references, his love of Sam Mendes’ Road to Perdition, and more.
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Comedian Jim Gaffigan is so likable on stage that it’s always a joy seeing him get mean in a movie. In Miranda Bailey‘s Being Frank, Gaffigan does away with his charms and stars as a man who’s almost always wrong. Gaffigan never tries to sugarcoat or lighten up Frank, a two-faced liar fighting to keep his two families from realizing each other’s existence. Frank is, as Gaffigan says, a prick, but the actor still miraculously pulls off a few moments of empathy.
It’s another performance that shows more range from Gaffigan, who’s very funny as a very unfunny character. Being Frank is only one of the many projects we’ll see from the actor-comedian this year, including his upcoming Amazon special and a variety of movies. Three of those movies premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this year, which is the first of many subjects we covered with Gaffigan. If you want to read the comedian get nerdy about stand up comedy, look no further.
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Vincent D’Onfrio‘s The Kid is a refreshingly old-fashioned western. It doesn’t shy away from archetypes or familiar iconography, but instead embraces the greatest hits of the genre. It’s a familiar yarn told well, and it stars Jake Schur, Ethan Hawke, Dane DeHaan, and Chris Pratt, who impresses as the big bad of the film without the laid-back charisma that launched him to stardom.
Of course, it comes as no surprise D’Onfrio – one of the best character actors around – knows how to capture strong performances behind the camera. He’s directed before, including short films and a horror-musical, but The Kid is his biggest and most cinematic film yet.
Recently, D’Onfrio told us about his earliest experiences as an actor and movie fan, why his western is so personal to him, and a bit about a few of his most notable roles, including Full Metal Jacket and The Player.
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Who wants the job of altering some of the greatest and most beautiful rock songs probably ever produced? It’s a job that’d probably scare off some musicians, but of course, not record producer and musical virtuoso Giles Martin. Martin, who’s previously remastered The Beatles’ White Album and Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band, does a wonderful job of keeping the beauty of Sir Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s music alive and vibrant in his altered versions.
Working on Rocketman wasn’t Martin’s first encounter with John, who recorded with his father, George Martin (often known as “the fifth Beatle”). Now that Giles Martin has worked more closely with Elton John in the studio, his life has come full-fircle. It’s an experience Martin calls “a labor of love,” and I could’ve asked the Rocketman soundtrack producer a million questions about. In the time we did have with Martin, who also has a cameo in the movie, he told us about rearranging John’s songs, what he wants to see and hear in a musical, and remastering The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life.”
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Rocketman is no run-of-the-mill rocker biopic. While many movies about innovative and ambitious artists play things off-puttingly safe, that’s not the case with Dexter Fletcher‘s Elton John film. Rocketman is not afraid to be bold like its artists, and just like their music, the final result bursts with creativity and life.
The scope of the musical numbers, and how succinctly yet naturally Elton John’s story is told, it’s quite a feat for Flecther as a filmmaker. He’s made a piece of grand spectacle that feels so intimate and personal, which again, is spot-on for capturing the soul of Elton John’s music. If Fletcher’s talent behind-the-camera got overlooked in some corners with Eddie the Eagle, it won’t be in Rocketman.
Recently, we had a short conversation with Fletcher about Taron Egerton’s performance, depicting the Troubadour performance, and his conversations with Elton John.
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The summer movie season will remain abuzz after the triumphant arrival of John Wick: Chapter Three – Parabellum. If ever a movie could be a mic drop, it’s the latest chapter of everybody’s new favorite killing machine and dog enthusiast, John Wick. The sequel has it all, starting with another performance from Keanu Reeves that leaves a big fat mark on pop culture.
Director Chad Stahelski attributes the success of the franchise to Reeves, whom he’s been working with ever since The Matrix. When Stahelski says the actor is giving every frame his all in this movie, nobody could ever question that. Reeves brings a believability to the poetic and ridiculous action, a sincerity to the drama, and a powerful presence and sense of ownership to the role. In another actor’s hands, John Wick, as we’ve come to know and love him, wouldn’t be John Wick.
During our wide-ranging interview with Stahelski following the franchise’s biggest opening at the box-office yet, he told us why audiences connect with Reeves as Wick, how he always goes for beauty in his movies, how he shoots action, and more.
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Elton John‘s life, music, and now the musical biopic about his journey are filled with rousing highs and crushing lows. Rocketman doesn’t fast-forward through the rough patches and consequences to get the good times, either. It’s the real-deal warts and all biopic that depicts John as an extraordinary musician but also as a deeply human and wounded man. That sounds familiar, yes, but it’s a contrast depicted without aggrandizing and with an immersive intimacy sorely missing in too many music biopics.
Responsible for some of the hard times in the story is John’s mother, Sheila Eileen Dwight, played by Bryce Dallas Howard. In the movie, no amount of success, acclaim, and money soften any the emotional blows John takes from her. It’s a cruel character that, like the film as a whole, Howard doesn’t attempt to sugarcoat. She is like a bulldozer in this movie, just crashing through the fantasy and dragging John back down to earth.
John turned a lot of that pain from his relationship with his parents into beautiful art, a common occurrence that’s both inspiring and, especially to Howard, saddening. We recently spoke with Howard about John’s relationship with his mother, the healthiest motivator for an artist, and what it took to play Elton John’s mother.
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Richard Shepard‘s The Perfection is probably not a movie anyone would call predictable. It twists and turns, but more importantly, always reveals more underneath the star cellists of the movie, played with real intensity by Allison Williams and Logan Browning. They keep a movie grounded even as it quickly goes from gross to horrific to funny and to tragic, always keeping the audience on its toes.
Co-written by Nicole Snyder and Eric C. Charmelo, The Perfection pays homage to the cinematic worlds of Brian De Palma and Park Chan-wook. It’s not afraid to go to some dark places with its tongue remaining in its cheek, maintaining its sense of humor all the way until an unsettling end. While Shepard knows the Netflix thriller is not for everybody, based on the reviews, it’s proven to be a must-see for adventurous viewers.
It’s a movie with a lot of color and personality, much like Shepard’s last few movies: The Matador, The Hunting Party, and Dom Hemingway. Recently, Shepard told us about the making of his latest film, why movie stars like to take risks, and how Greg Kinnear saved The Matador.
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“Music inspires you to keep making images,” director Jonathan Levine says. The director of The Wackness, 50/50, and the new Seth Rogen–Charlize Theron rom-com, Long Shot, constantly finds himself inspired by music. Whether he’s writing or thinking of the mood for a movie, music is on his mind. His love for music was evident from the start of his career with The Wackness, but his movies that followed have been packed with songs that fit just right.
With Long Shot, he was mostly inspired by music with a “nostalgic bittersweet” feeling. Even if some of those bands and artists that influenced him didn’t land a spot on the soundtrack, like Bon Iver or David Gray, they were instrumental in Levine thinking of the bigger picture. In the case of the Long Shot, he wanted to create feelings of nostalgia, so the soundtrack has the likes of The Cure, Boyz II Men, Bruce Springsteen, so basically artists Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) and Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) grew up listening to. Even those big names, though, don’t even begin to cover all the heavy hitters in the movie’s soundtrack, which also features Frank Ocean’s “Moon River” and Aretha Franklin’s cover of “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
Recently, Levine talked to us all about music in his latest film, as well as the music that shaped his taste, songs he’s used and wants to use in movies, his obsession with Springsteen, and more about the music a part of both his career and life.
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Joe Carnahan has once again produced a slick crime movie with El Chicano.Stunt coordinator Ben Hernandez Bray, who worked on The Grey and performed stunts in a long list of major films, co-wrote the script with Carnahan and makes his directorial debut with the Latino-led superhero movie. It’s a $6 million movie that, like Carnahan’s work, stretches every dollar of its budget.
It’s a superhero movie crossed with a gritty crime film, set in East Los Angeles. Carnahan’s is clearly pleased the film will get its due and play in theaters, especially after studios were resistant and sometimes tone def. When we recently spoke to Carnahan, he told us about how cathartic the project was, how the headache of Bad Boys III led him to El Chicano, his advice for first-time filmmakers, and more.
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