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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The Perfection

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. CharmeloThe 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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Jonathan Levine interview

“Music inspires you to keep making images,” director Jonathan Levine says. The director of The Wackness50/50, and the new Seth RogenCharlize 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 interview

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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Amy Seimetz interview

The new version of Pet Sematary is a little more intimate than the average horror movie. Staying true to the spirit of Stephen King‘s book, there’s about as much drama as horror in Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer new version of the classic story. Especially in the first hour, the filmmakers take their time to make the Creed family a believable unit with both joy and pain in their lives.

Kolsch and Widmyer enlisted exceptional actors to bring these characters to life again, including actor, writer, and filmmaker, Amy Seimetz. Seimetz, who directed Sun Don’t Shine and co-created Starz’s The Girlfriend Experience, first read the book when she was eight years old, so you could say she’s been preparing for this role a long time. Recently, she told us about performing her favorite passage from the book, working with Ridley Scott, and her moving experience at a Childish Gambino concert.

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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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Dragged Across Concrete trailer

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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William Fichtner interview

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 KnightGoBlack 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 trailer

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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Alita Battle Angel performance capture

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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