Check it out!
Movie Review – spoiler alert
by Lee Ann Sharpe
Matthew McConaughey should probably win an Oscar for his role of Cooper in Interstellar. Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, Wes Bentley, Casey Affleck, Matt Damon, Topher Grace, McKenzie Foy, John Lithgow, Ellen Burstyn and Michael Caine turned in starring roles in Interstellar as well.
At nearly 3 hours you would’ve thought it would’ve dragged somewhere, but the story moved with such intensity that you never lost interest for a second. And seconds counted as we learned about the effect of relativity in space at great distance. As the characters said, you know in theory that time slows down and you won’t age in space as fast as on earth, but you don’t really think about it until you see the effect. And we see the effect when Cooper returns to earth and sees his daughter played by Jessica Chastain age to well beyond his years and in the end played beautifully by Ellen Burstyn.
The story makes you think about the prospects in the future of deep space travel. It also makes you think about taking better care of our planet Earth.
This movie has been out for a while, yet the theater was still totally packed and I learned to call ahead for reservations so that you don’t have to sit in the first row too close to the screen. But even so, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie as did my friends sharing an after Thanksgiving dinner flick.
Windcatcher: The Story of Sacajawea
Windcatcher: The Story of Sacajawea is projected to be in theaters by the fall of 2015. Watch for the casting call and crew at: www.WindcatcherTheMovie.com or the film’s facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WindcatcherFilms/?ref=br_tf
Feisty, flame-haired reporter, Kendall O'Dell is drawn into an evil web of conspiracy beyond anything she could have ever imagined when she accepts a position..
FILM INDEPENDENT TO PRODUCE
SLOAN FILM SUMMIT:
Showcasing The Sloan Foundation’s Flourishing Science In Entertainment Program
Works in Progress Screenings, Panels, Workshops and Public Screenings
Including The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game
Keynote Speech by Beau Willimon
New $50,000 Sloan Distribution Grant Announced
LOS ANGELES, CA ) -- Film Independent announced today that it is producing the 2014 Sloan Film Summit taking place November 14 – November 16 at L.A. LIVE in downtown Los Angeles. The Summit, co-hosted by Film Independent and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, will celebrate the thriving nationwide Sloan film program, bringing together 150 screenwriters, directors and producers, as well as representatives from leading film schools and film organizations, who work to bridge the gap between science and popular culture. To date, Sloan has awarded $4 million in direct grants to film students in support of over 500 projects. The Sloan Film program was launched in 1997 and forms part of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s broader effort in Public Understanding of Science and Technology.
“The 2014 Sloan Film Summit marks a watershed moment for the Sloan Foundation’s pioneering science and technology Film Program and for science themed films in general as they begin to move into the cinematic mainstream. The Foundation has developed over a dozen theatrically released feature films through its own pipeline since the last Summit in 2011,” said Doron Weber, Vice President at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “Three of 2014’s major Oscar-winning films—Gravity, Her and Dallas Buyers Club –and at least two early 2015 contenders—Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game—exemplify the kind of work long championed by Sloan. The Imitation Game has already received two Sloan awards this year. We are thrilled to host this summit with our partners at Film Independent and to celebrate the achievements of so many talented new voices, in theater and television as well as film, who have turned a fundamental but little understood driver of modern life into the raw material of new art.”
Josh Welsh, President of Film Independent, said, “Film Independent and the Sloan Foundation have a long and strong history of supporting independent voices in the creative field. A large number of the projects we have supported with Sloan grants in the past few years have gone throughproduction and been released – from Jenny Deller’s Future Weather to Musa Syeed’s Valley of Saints to the upcoming Basmati Blues, directed by Dan Baron. Hosting this prestigious Summit is an honor and we look forward to getting to know all the Sloan Foundation supported filmmakers and seeing their work.”
For the first time in Sloan Film Summit history, a limited number of seats to select events will be released to the public on a first come first serve basis. RSVP information will be available November 3 at SloanSummit2014.org.
The Sloan Film Summit will kick off on Friday, November 14 at 7:30 pm with a public screening of Academy Award-winning director James Marsh’s new movie The Theory of Everything, followed by a Q&A with the FocusFeatures film’s stars Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones and Professor of Physics David Kaplan.
On Saturday, November 15, the Summit will continue with a full day of private panels, workshops and networking sessions with esteemed scientists and industry professionals for all the Sloan supported filmmakers and organizations gathered in Los Angeles for this special event. Among the highlights will be presentations by four eminent scientists from the Science and Entertainment Exchange followed by four Sloan-winning artists responding with short, original pieces.
On Sunday, November 16, the Summit will be open to the general public for a full day event titled "Science and The Art of Storytelling," a celebration of Sloan-winning works that will include a Keynote by Sloan-supported playwright and screenwriter Beau Willimon (House of Cards, The Ides of March), a shorts program, staged readings and a sneak peek at soon to be released Sloan films Basmati Blues (starring Scott Bakula, Brie Larson and Donald Sutherland); The Man Who Knew Infinity (starring Jeremy Irons and Dev Patel); and Experimenter (starring Peter Sarsgaard, Taryn Manning, Winona Ryder and Kellan Lutz), featuring exclusive footage and a discussion with the films’ producers.
The weekend long conference will conclude with a preview screening of Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, the recipient of this year's Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at the Hamptons International Film Festival. The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, and recently picked up the People's Choice Award at TIFF after bowing at the Telluride Film Festival. The film was previously supported by the Sloan Foundation as part of its partnership with the Tribeca Film Institute. The film will be released by The Weinstein Company on November 21, 2014.
New this year, Film Independent and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation are launching an initiative that supports the distribution of finished films with a science and technology theme. A $50,000 Sloan Distribution Grant will be awarded for three years by Film Independent to eligible finished films entering the distribution phase, with the requirement that the money be spent on standard P&A expenses (creative marketing, advertising, etc.) for the film’s release. Film Independent and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation have a long history of collaboration including the annual $30,000 Sloan Producers development grant and the $20,000 production grant to support a participant at Film Independent’s Fast Track, a film financing market taking place during the Los Angeles Film Festival.
About Film Independent
Film Independent is a non-profit arts organization that champions independent film and supports a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation, and uniqueness of vision. Film Independent helps filmmakers make their movies, builds an audience for their projects, and works to diversify the film industry. Film Independent’s Board of Directors, filmmakers, staff, and constituents, is comprised of an inclusive community of individuals across ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation. Anyone passionate about film can become a member, whether you are a filmmaker, industry professional, or a film lover. Film Independent produces the Spirit Awards, the annual celebration honoring artist-driven films and recognizing the finest achievements of American independent filmmakers. Film Independent also produces the Los Angeles Film Festival, showcasing the best of American andinternational cinema and the Film Independent at LACMA Film Series, a year-round, weekly program that offers unique cinematic experiences for the Los Angeles creative community and the general public.
With over 250 annual screenings and events, Film Independent provides access to a network of like-minded artists who are driving creativity in the film industry. Film Independent’s Artist Development program offers free Labs for selected writers, directors, producers and documentary filmmakers and presents year-round networking opportunities. Project Involve is Film Independent’s signature program dedicated to fostering the careers of talented filmmakers from communities traditionally underrepresented in the film industry. For more information or to become a member, visit www.FilmIndependent.org.
About the Sloan Film Program
The New-York based Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, founded in 1934, makes grants in science, technology, and economic performance. Sloan’s program in public understanding of science and technology, directed by Doron Weber,supports books, radio, film, television, theater and new media to reach a wide, non-specialized audience.
The Foundation's Film Program encourages filmmakers to create more realistic and accurate stories about science and technology and to challenge existing stereotypes about scientists and engineers in the popular imagination. Over the past 15 years, Sloan has partnered with some of the top film schools in the country – including AFI, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, NYU, UCLA, and USC – and established annual awards in screenwriting and film production, along with an annual best-of-the best Student Grand Jury Prize administered by the Tribeca Film Institute. The Foundation also supports screenplay development programs at Sundance, Tribeca, Hamptons International Film Festival and Film Independent’s Producer’s Lab and has developed such film projects as Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, Rob Meyer’s A Birder’s Guide to Everything, Musa Syeed’s Valley of Saints, and Andrew Bujalski’s Computer Chess. The Foundation has partnered with the Coolidge Corner Theater and the Art House Convergence to take Science on Screen, a program that creatively pairs filmscreenings with expert speakers, and expand it to include new films developed by Sloan or awarded Sloan prizes to be shown at nonprofit cinemas nationwide.
The Foundation also has an active theater program and commissions over a dozen science plays each year from the Ensemble Studio Theater and Manhattan Theatre Club as well as supporting select productions across the country. For more information about the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, visit sloan.org.
WORLD CUP SOCCER IN AFRICA: WHO REALLY WINS?
This Eye-Opening DVD Documentary — The Only World Cup Soccer Film Being Released to Coincide with Soccer's Crowning Event — Peels Back the Glossy Veneer to Candidly Expose Major Issues Surrounding the 2010 World Cup; Interviews Include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Former Cosmos Star Jomo Sono.
NEW YORK, NY — Tomorrow, June 11, 2010, the most widely-viewed sporting event in the world will commence in South Africa. It's the first time that the tournament has been hosted by an African nation and excitement is at fever pitch. But with all of the country's historical and contemporary issues, is the 19th FIFA World Cup truly going to benefit South Africans?
WORLD CUP SOCCER IN AFRICA: WHO REALLY WINS? is a persuasive and timely documentary exploring the true costs of being the host nation, as well as answering the compelling and potentially troubling question: what will happen after the trophy is lifted and the international caravan moves on?
The film focuses in part on the communities uprooted by new stadiums built for the World Cup. The New York Times reported in March 2010 from Nelspruit, South Africa, writing: "The people who live nearby, proud as they are to host soccer's greatest event, also wonder: How could there be money for a 46,000-seat stadium while many of them still fetch water from dirty puddles and live without electricity or toilets?" This documentary effectively addresses that question and many more, but the answers aren't ones that FIFA or the government of South Africa want you to hear.
National pride, corruption and even murder feature in this astonishingly candid film which peels back the media's glossy portrait of the World Cup host country to expose the real concerns of ordinary South Africans: hopes about jobs, the eviction of school children to make way for construction company offices, the removal of an inconvenient community, and what traditional medicine and the influences of the ancestors might mean for the fortunes of the local team.
In WORLD CUP SOCCER IN AFRICA: WHO REALLY WINS?, international heavyweights such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as well as construction workers, FIFA's communications director, street traders, politicians and sports celebrities all wade into the ongoing debate in which there's no immediate winner.
The Disinformation Company Ltd. is active in TV production, book publishing and home entertainment. It is most widely recognized for its distribution of products on subjects not usually covered by the traditional media. Recent DVD exclusives from The Disinformation Company include Michael Moore's Slacker Uprising, the bestselling Robert Greenwald documentaries, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers and Rethink Afghanistan, as well as Robert Baer's The Cult of the Suicide Bomber, the Sean Penn-narrated War Made Easy and the in-house documentary 2012: Science or Superstition.
The Twilight Saga: New Moon
In the second chapter of the incredibly popular
series, Bella (Kristen
Stewart) is still
head over heels in love with Edward (Robert
Pattinson). But a growing friendship with
Lautner) just might bring
danger of a different breed. Now out on DVD.
is amazing how closely the movie follows the
book. The director,
knows a good thing and has stayed true to the
ability to be so descriptive in the novel made
it easy for the movie to follow her book so
intricately. The story is exciting, spell
binding, and tear jerking at times.
Edward has broken the law by
telling Bella, a human, too much. He also
predicts that Victoria will come for him some
day. Bella tells Edward that they would never
have to think about this if he would turn her
into a vampire. He says firmly that won't ever
happen. Funny how he is the only one worried
about her soul. But in the end the family votes
and the future is planned. But that is left for
the next movie...
There are so many interesting debates a movie
like this can evoke. But watch for entertainment
value and you will be entertained.
Western Coen Brothers Style with Classic John Wayne "True Grit" Remake
We read in the New York Times that the Coen brothers' are working on a remake of "True Grit" "True Grit" is scheduled to hit theaters at the end of this year, on December 25.
This is great news for western aficionados wanting westerns introduced to another generation who seem more preoccupied in the science fiction and fantasy of the future than the history of their ancestors past. Coens are capable of making a film the next generation will embrace and maybe open the door a crack for more westerns.
Jeff Bridges reunites with the Coens, taking the Rooster Cogburn role that was previously made famous by screen legend John Wayne. Also cast are Matt Damon and Josh Brolin, as Cogburn sidekick La Boeuf and main villain Tom Chaney, respectively. An unknown actress, Hailee Stanfield. 13-years-old, has been cast for the character of Mattie Ross.
"True Grit" is the story of Mattie Ross, a teenage girl who convinces Cogburn to help her find justice for the murder of her father at the hands of Chaney. Also investigating the crime is Damon's character, a Texas Ranger, whose idea of justice is more within the bounds of U.S. law than Ross and Cogburn's.
If you have never seen the original John Wayne "True Grit" movie, pick it up at BlockBluster or in the discount bin at Wal-Mart. It's a classic worth viewing over and over again.
Avatar and other Oscar Bound Flicks
Roger Ebert said it best, "Watching "Avatar, I felt sort of the same as when I saw "Star Wars" in 1977. That was another movie I walked into with uncertain expectations. James Cameron's film has been the subject of relentlessly dubious advance buzz, just as his "Titanic" was. Once again, he has silenced the doubters by simply delivering an extraordinary film. There is still at least one man in Hollywood who knows how to spend $250 million, or was it $300 million, wisely."
I felt the same way. From the previews I was intrigued and being open minded I wanted to see what all the buzz was about. But it wasn't the type of movie I generally enjoy. I mean all of the computer generated animation, alien creatures, and fantasy stuff. It's okay in small bits but this was way pushing the envelope. So if I'm going to see it I go for the 3-D IMAX experience. And what an experience! I loved it!
Avatar is the story of a disabled ex-Marine, Jake Sully , who finds himself thrust into hostilities on an alien planet filled with exotic life forms. As an Avatar, a human mind is put into an alien body, where he finds himself torn between two worlds. Sully went for the opportunity of walking again but found himself in a desperate fight for his own survival and that of the indigenous people.
More than ten years in the making, Avatar marks Cameron's return to feature directing since helming 1997's Titanic, the highest grossing film of all time and winner of eleven Oscars® including Best Picture. WETA Digital, renowned for its work in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and King Kong, incorporated new intuitive CGI technologies to transform the environments and characters into photorealistic 3D imagery that transport the audience into the alien world rich with imaginative vistas, creatures and characters.
The imagery takes you into their incredible and beautiful world so completely you will find yourself ducking when creatures are flying toward your face. All they need is surround smell and a little shaking of your seat to give you the full Disneyland experience!
The cast includes many unknowns including Jake Sully played by Sam Worthington and the exotic Neytiri played by Zoe Saldana. Dr. Grace is veteran actress Sigourney Weaver who adds the balance between the scientific and the fantastic.
20th Century Fox presents this film written and directed by James Cameron. Running time: 163 minutes. MPAA rating: PG-13 (for intense epic battle sequences and warfare, sensuality, language and some smoking). Box office $2,481,904,000 Worldwide: as of Mar 1, 2010
Hollywood Stuntman Nov 1920 - Jul 2009
Whitey Hughes born Nov. 9, 1920, in Arkoma,
Oklahoma, died Tuesday, July 7, 2009. Whitey
Hughes is a name you may not remember. But you
have seen his work. An actor and stuntman in the
early years of the westerns we all grew up
watching his talents without even knowing it was
him. His resume is filled with the names of
every major actor of the golden age of movies.
through 1953 Whitey worked for Robert Gilbert
Productions as a stuntman and double for such
stars its Reno Browne and Lee "Lasses" White in
"Red Rock Outlaw" ('50). Whitey was doing stunts
on Johnny Carpenter's low budget westerns like "Badman's
Gold" (‘51) and "Son of a Renegade" ('53). His
first location job was in Lone Pine, doubling
leading lady, Lynne Roberts in Tim Holt's
"Dynamite Pass" ('50).
Whitey was often called upon to double for women
in these early days and would eventually do
stunts for such luminaries as Rita Hayworth,
Stephanie Powers, Barbara Hershey, Anne Baxter,
Lana Turner, Kathleen Crowley and Virginia Mayo
("Along the Great Divide", again on location in
Lone Pine). Whitey's credits include work on
"The Wild One" with Marlon Brando, "Sitting
Bull" with Dale Robertson, "Darby O'Gill and the
Little People", "Charge at Feather River" with
Guy Madison, "Geronimo" with Chuck Connors and
Ross Martin, and Sam Peckinpah's "Wild Bunch".
Whitey was Johnny Crawford's double for four
years on TV's "Rifleman" as well as Bobby
Diamond's double during the run of the "Fury" TV
series. Whitey also worked on "U.S. Marshal",
"Californians", "MacKenzie's Raiders", "Black
Saddle", "Wyatt Earp", "Lassie", "Rawhide",
"Bonanza", "Monroes", "Hondo", "Gunsmoke" ...
and hundreds more including work for both Roy
[Rogers] and Gene [Autry] on their respective
series. To see the caliber of his terrific stunt
work watch Whitey in action in almost every
episode of "The Wild Wild West", which he
coordinated for four seasons ('65-'68). Whitey
and his stunt crew do some amazing action
Whitey spent '70 - '71 preparing his own
production, Smoke In the Wind. In the '70s,
Whitey worked on series and films such as "Omega
Man", "Harper Valley P.T.A.", "Spiderman",
"Wonder Woman", "B. J. and the Bear", "Buck
Rogers", "Father Murphy", "Fall Guy", "Blue and
the Gray", "Little House on the Prairie" and
many others. Whitey worked as an active stuntman
for over 50 years. He was even in the 1997, "Men
in Black" at age 77.
Hughes, did his final "Take" last week but he
will live on in a tremendous body of work
movie set closes in respect of owner's
Alamo Village in
Brackettville is now closed. For
decades, tourists have been able to
visit the movie set where John Wayne
held off Mexican soldiers in the
movie "The Alamo,"
The owner of the
village, 93-year-old Virginia Shahan,
had kept it open to visitors, trail
rides and other movie shoots for
nearly 50 years. But after her
recent death, the attraction has
been closed to visitors until her
family determines what to do next.
The movie inspired
a generation of would-be cowboys and
cemented in people's imaginations an
outsized image of the Alamo that
dwarfs the real thing in downtown
By LeeAnn Sharpe
"Mamma Mia!" is great fun!
The audience sang along, clapped, giggled and ahhhed as the
songs ran the gamut of emotions. Mamma Mia flies on the wings
of the golden oldies of ABBA and the crazy musical romps where
the entire cast joins in wonderfully joyful choreographed dance
routines. Every minute of this flick will refresh your spirit
with beautiful views of the Greek island and blues of the ocean,
along with classic music.
Meryl Streep is so well loved that even though this musical part
of this role may have been a stretch for her, she made it work.
Her voice actually sounded good. But Pierce Brosnan, who played
her old flame Sam, should stick to acting. His voice was like
the guy at the office singing karaoke and everyone tries to
ignore the pain of it all. Still he is well cast as the great
love of her life. Colin Firth who actually learned to play
guitar for this role and took some singing lessons sounded
pretty decent. Not that he will have a new music career, but he
can carry a tune. Julie Walters and Christine Baranski took
their comedic acting skills to a new level with their over the
top musical performances. Stellan Skarsgård as Bill, one of
three possible fathers of Donna’s daughter, had the audience
rooting for him all the way.
ABBA, the Swedish pop act who has sold more than 400 million
records to date and continues to sell well, has created timeless
universally popular music. There is a strong camp appeal to the
music that’s reminiscent of a kinder, gentler place in time. So
it’s no surprise when the audience sings along and actually
knows all of the words. Those who don’t sing along are looking
superior, above all that, but they are still smiling behind the
sneers. A magic in the music places a spell on all who hear it,
a fan or not.
story goes twenty-year-old Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), raised in
Greece, invites three men to her wedding, one of whom she is
sure must be her father. As the wedding guests arrive the
bride-to-be with her two best girlfriends and her Mom and her
two girlfriends vamp down memory lane with various musical
numbers. Then the three would-be dads meet and bond and sing and
try to figure out why they've been summoned to sunny Greece,
where each enjoyed a lovely tryst with Donna years ago .
"Mamma Mia" will be your
"Waterloo," as you enjoy a musical film like no other. "Super
Trouper", "Dancing Queen", "Knowing Me, Knowing You", "Thank You
for the Music", "Money, Money, Money", "The Winner Takes It
All", "Voulez Vous", "I Have a Dream" and "SOS". It’s pure feel
good fun from beginning to end. So let yourself go and enjoy!
Warning you will have ABBA in your head for weeks to come!
MAMMA MIA! is a Universal Pictures release directed by Phyllida
Lloyd from a script by Catherine Johnson. Running time: 108
minutes. Rated PG-13 for some sex-related comments.
Color” Movie Review
By LeeAnn Sharpe
“Local Color touched my
heart!” is a quote heard often from audiences in Scottsdale’s
previewing of this beautiful movie in limited release at the
Harkins Camelview 5 this weekend, Nov 2-4th.
Gallo says the film is autobiographical and a personal passion
project that he had to do even when the big financial backers
dropped out and he had to mortgage his home to get it done.
Gallo knows how make a film
with plenty of successful films in his resume including “Wise
Guys” and “Midnight Run”. His recent projects include the soon
to be released “My Mom’s New Boyfriend” with Meg Ryan and
“Local Color” is the story
of a young painter John Talia, Jr.
(Trevor Morgan) finding a mentor in an
elderly Russian master
Nicholi Seroff (Armin Mueller-Stahl)
living in his New York town in 1974. Frame Shop owner
Yammi (Charles Durning) helps
instigate an introduction with the vodka guzzling artist who has
blocked out the world. Against the
wishes of his overbearing homophobic father, John Talia, Sr.
(Ray Liotta), John runs off for a summer in the country
to learn the artist’s techniques, but the cantankerous alcoholic
artist ends up teaching him more about life than painting. The
imagery is a feast for the soul with beautiful landscapes and
Nicholi Seroff's wisdom and concern about the direction of art
in the world is discussed in long dinner conversations with
art critic Curtis Sunday (Ron Perlman)
and his wife Sandra (Julie Lott), where Seroff’s colorful
dialogue is punctuated with an abundance of profanity, true to
the personality of the artist. The use of the “F” word earned
the film an “R” rating, even though there is absolutely no
violence, sex or nudity. Gallo said he couldn’t whitewash his
character’s language anymore than he did without losing the
essence of the man.
Carla (Samantha Mathis) is a beautiful young woman and neighbor
friend of Seroff’s who awakens passion in young John. Knowing
Seroff is jealous of the attention, John engages her in the
purest of big screen romances and earns the scorn of his mentor
at the end of the summer. Still they end up each learning from
the other and all the better for the passion ignited. John sees
the world through the eyes of the master, and the master sees
the world through the eyes of innocence once again.
spoke to the audience after a local screening and told how
important it was he make this film, and make it his way, because
it’s the story of his own youth and the mentor who guided him in
his dreams. Working without major studio support, taking out
loans against his home, as well as several producers doing the
same, he managed to create a poignantly moving portrait of a
glimpse of a moment in his life that many of us experience when
inspiration takes hold and sets the course of your life. Gallo
shot the entire film in only 18 days, in what he called keystone
cops shooting technique, setting up and tearing down lights and
cameras so fast as to be ridiculous. But he got it done and the
end product defies you to find where he cut corners. The top
notch cast and beautiful score, by Academy Award nominated
composer Chris Boardman, accent this masterpiece of film making.
As a young man, Gallo
attended college as a Graphic Arts major.
After seeing Martin Scorsese's film “Mean
Streets”, he was inspired to become a Film major instead. When
the school informed him that he couldn't switch majors without
repeating his first year's studies, he decided to drop out and
ended up writing his first film, “Wise
Gallo was quoted as
saying, "Eventually, I came to understand that all of the arts
are intertwined. That composition in painting is the same as
structure in storytelling; that characters are the same as
colors; that colors are the same as chords in music."
Armin Mueller-Stahl came out of retirement for his portrayal of
Nicholi Seroff. He
received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his
performance in “Shine” (1996) and more recently had appeared in
four episode of The West Wing. Much has been made of Seroff’s
use of profanity in “Local Color” but
Mueller-Stahl made it a
natural part of the foul mouthed artist’s personality, to the
extent it was no longer profane, but simply the way he spoke.
We’ve all known people cut from this cloth, especially old men
who have been through much horror and have limited ability to
express themselves and their frustration through language. They
generally ask to be excused when speaking in the presence of
ladies, but Seroff’s frustration with life has reduced his
attention social niceties to nil. Gallo was brilliant to cast
Mueller-Stahl in this role. The accent, the facial expressions,
the body language, all spoke of this old man’s frustration with
life. And Mueller-Stahl is a painter. Bravo for a wonderful job
in painting this character.
Trevor Morgan wasn’t the first choice for the role of John
Talia, Jr. Gallo’s wife Julie Lott explained how their first
choice had a conflict and Trevor Morgan fell into his place. It
was the best thing to happen because he was perfect. With years
of acting experience since the age of six, the 21-year old actor
was especially good in expressing fear when his homophobic
father’s predictions haunted him as the old man opens his
bedroom door to check in. Morgan was an excellent choice. The
big movie studios wanted a sex scene added to the romance but
Gallo insisted in real life it had only been a kiss and that was
what he wanted in the story. Morgan made that kiss express more
than any sex scene.
Ray Liotta as John Talia, Sr. provided the humor and quirkiness
we all see in our own families. He’s a loving father and husband
trying to hold on to a son ready to fly the nest. Liotta brings
his usual professionalism to the role and gives us the chance to
hate him and love him. It didn’t hurt that he was a family
friend who actually knew Gallo’s father.
Mathis as Carla took the character right where she belonged, as
the fuel to the fire that ignited between Nicoli and John.
Mathis has acted since the age of three, (daughter of actress
Bibi Besch). Mathis was quoted, “During the kissing scene it
started to rain, which was perfect. And during the raining scene
we were using hoses to simulate rain - and it started raining
for real. It was as if God was saying, "Make this film." I loved
the experience of working on the film and all the collaboration
and encouragement. Gallo was open to suggestions and that sort
of enthusiasm makes everyone want to work for him.”
The film won a Director's Choice Award at the Sedona Film
Festival. That’s where the connection to Harkin’s came into
play. “It's a true story,” Dan Harkins says. “We ran to each
other in slow motion. We made a film deal in front of a full
theater. My children loved the film and wanted to see it again.”
The limited release at Harkins has been a big success.
week after production wrapped, most of the locations used in the
film were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
created an impressive piece of work with its heart in the
right place. It will touch your heart, mind and soul with a
shared experience of anyone with a passion.
by LeeAnn Sharpe
They are calling it “Syriana”
for Dummies or Syriana” meets
“Black Hawk Down". Whatever you
want to equate ‘‘The Kingdom’’
to it is only surface
comparison. The last half hour
or so of this film was so
intense that I found myself on
the edge of my seat. And so was
everyone else! I was riveted.
That’s pretty good film making
when the entire audience is
Largely filmed in the Valley,
this thriller about an FBI team
solving a terrorist bombing in
Saudi Arabia, stars Jamie Foxx,
Jason Bateman, Chris Cooper and
Jennifer Garner, and is directed
by Peter Berg, who also did the
movie “Collateral” and the
television Emmy nominated series
‘‘Friday Night Lights’’. Plenty
of locals had minor roles, so it
was fun looking for recognizable
faces. Jeremy Priven plays a
State Department contact, Damon
Schmidt, who acts remarkable
like Ari from “Entourage”.
Ashraf Barhom who plays Saudi
police Col. Al-Ghazi should get
higher billing as one of the
real shining stars of this film.
call it realism of camera views,
but if you get queasy with an
unsteady handheld camera, take
some Dramamine. This fast-paced
constantly moving camera action,
which seems to be so popular
these days, makes me feel old
and light headed. As if I’ve had
too much to drink or just not
able to keep up with the
youthful world of high speed
cars and action. Maybe that is
part of the mesmerizing effect.
I hated it, but I loved it too.
I do wish we had more
opportunity to focus rather than
getting a fleeting glance. But
life is that way most of the
It’s strange to think a section
of the 202 Freeway in Mesa looks
like Saudi Arabia. Every time I
saw those scenes it made me
think, “I know where that was
shot!” I lost track of the story
for a second. They say Jennifer
Garner collapsed on the set in
Mesa twice due to the extremely
high temperature, over 115
degrees Fahrenheit. So why pick
that time of year to shoot?
Realism of temperature? I bet
Jennifer Garner wished it was
less real too.
The story is about a US base
housing families of oil company
personnel in Saudi Arabia that
has been bombed resulting in the
deaths of hundreds of US
civilians and rescue personnel.
The incident is based on actual
bombings in 1996 and 2003. Saudi
Arabia insists the investigation
can be handled internally, but a
group of FBI field agents led by
Ronald Fleury (Foxx), try to
ferret out the terrorists. The
best line is “How do you stop an
enemy who isn't afraid to die?”
Fleury’s team includes forensics
expert Janet Mayes (Garner) and
bomb specialists Grant Sykes
(Chris Cooper) and Adam Leavitt
Over the opening credits the
history of relations between the
United States and Saudi Arabia
through the last century
explained all of the major
events between the two nations.
It explains why so many
Americans are in Saudi Arabia in
the first place.
film is dedicated to the memory
of Papac, an assistant
propmaster on the Universal
Pictures' film, who was driving
on a closed portion of the 202
Freeway when his all-terrain
vehicle collided with an SUV
carrying director Peter Berg.
Papac suffered severe head
injuries and died hours after
being airlifted to a local
“The Kingdom” is an intense and
engaging film. This is one that
shouldn't be missed. Whether it
makes you stop and think about
issues in the Middle East or
not, it’s an action packed
thrilling crowd-pleaser that
might stimulate some
conversation about Muslim,
terrorists and cultural
3:10 to Yuma
By LeeAnn Sharpe
A 20 something friend told
me he had been to the movie
theatre the night before and
there were these really long
lines waiting to get in to
see “3:10 to Yuma”. He
noticed the average age of
those standing in line was
mostly 40 and over. He
asked, “Why is that
generation so into
westerns?” I thought about
it and the answer seemed
simple. We all go back to
our comfort zone to feel
good. The baby boomer
generation grew up with
westerns and continues to
hold them dear.
They say the western movie
market is making a
resurgence evidenced by
HBO’s “Deadwood” TV series,
setting the bar for the
modern western with over the
edge, in your face, muddy
smutty reality attracting
the younger generation. But
thinking about what my
friend said, I think it’s
mainly the tail end of the
baby boomer generation
holding on to their Saturday
morning love affair with
Gene and Roy, albeit grown
up and doing all those
naughty adult things we
never even imagined back in
the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. Movies
like “Brokeback Mountain”
pushed the envelope even
further. But maybe there is
more to it. Maybe the
western is just a good
vehicle to tell a compelling
story about life.
There are a few new westerns
coming out this year with
big name stars. "3:10 to
Yuma, "with Russell Crowe
and Christian Bale, “The
Assassination of Jesse James
by the Coward Robert Ford,
with Brad Pitt as Jesse
James and Casey Affleck as
Robert Ford coming out Sept.
21st, and "No Country For
Old Men" with Tommy Lee
Jones and Woody Harrelson
coming out Nov. 21st.
“Experts” say the western
reappears in a cycle
resurfacing every 7 to 10
years. But I think westerns
have always been with us in
some shape or form. They may
go hi-tech like “Wild Wild
West” or dive into comedy
like “Shanghai Knights”. But
they are always with us.
Just look at the Tombstone
movies. There has been a
retelling of that story at
least twice a decade since
“One of the reasons I
started the Wild West
Gazette newspaper is recent
interest in the old west.
Every western state in the
union is in the process of
celebrating their 100th
anniversary. They see the
need to preserve their
history and tell the
stories,” says Sid Hagel,
Publisher of Wild West
“People love hearing the
story of how their ancestors
survived tremendous hardship
to settle the west.”
The reviews were saying that
"3:10 to Yuma," a remake of
a 1957 film starring Glenn
Ford and Van Heflin, based
on an Elmore Leonard story
first published in Dime
Western Magazine in 1953,
was the best western since “Unforgiven”.
Leonard is a prolific writer
of gritty realism and strong
dialogue with a long list of
westerns to his credit
including “Last Stand at
Saber River” and “Hombre”
both made into hit movies.
“3:10 to Yuma” is an
excellent good versus evil
Director James Mangold of
"Walk the Line" fame, says
he wanted to make "a film
that didn't look like a
video game." He incorporated
more dirt and violence along
with new characters
including the psycho to kick
it up a notch. "Most great
Westerns are more
says. "When you're talking
about “Unforgiven” or
“Shane” or “High Noon” I
never feel like it's about
the gunfights between those
guys." Mangold was really
thinking about the
“Unforgiven” when he made
this film giving it a
similar dark palette and
Peter Fonda portrays a
Pinkerton agent, another new
character in the movie, who
has been hunting Wade
(Crowe) and gets shot during
a stagecoach robbery. In a
recent interview Fonda said,
“You cannot take your eyes
off the screen with this
film, because it has such
compelling characters and
the violence is
unbelievable.” Fonda seemed
to homage Eastwood in this
role with superior results.
All of the actors were
superb. Either Mangold
performances or the New
Mexico air kicked them up a
notch. They can all be proud
of their part in this film.
Mangold says the actors he
picked are some of the best
horsemen in Hollywood, “They
are comfortable, alive on a
horse and carry a sort of
timeless masculinity”. And
he figures they are among
only a few in Hollywood who
could carry it off.
Bale’s character Dan Evans
is the good man who is
attracted to the villan. He
doesn’t want to be corrupted
by a corrupt society. His
conscious struggles with his
decisions. There’s a battle
of wills and clash of
philosophies that makes
their relationship tension
into movie magic.
Crowe says he especially
enjoyed playing Ben Wade,
the bad man who is confident
and cheerful. Crowe took the
attitude Ben doesn’t believe
in a benevolent God, got
stuck in the Old Testament.
One line he’s told “You’re
not all bad” and he responds
“Yes I am” kind of sums him
And about the ages viewing
the movie that I started
this article discussing,
well maybe it was just an
off night, because on Friday
there were plenty of younger
20-30 something folks there.
And everyone really liked
this film. Rated R for
language and violence.
Lionsgate 120 minutes. I
give it 5 stars! * * * * *
By LeeAnn Sharpe
After 18 seasons, 400
episodes, 23 Emmys, and a
Time Magazine’s award for
“Best Television Series of
the 20thCentury” The
Simpsons is now an animated
full length feature comedy
movie based on the animated
television series. Once
again Homer must save the
world from a catastrophe he
For 18-years we have
followed the wacky exploits
of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa
and Maggie in the town of
Springfield. But until now
Springfield was located in
the minds of the creators,
not actually in a state on
the US Map. But a contest
won the state of Vermont the
“right” to premiere the
movie and become the
official home state of the
“The Simpsons Springfield”.
The trailer and commercials
give you a good idea of a
general feel for the movie,
much like the television
series. Homer’s new pet pig
not only leaves hoof prints
on the ceiling with Homer’s
help, he insures Homer can
create the usual number of
monumental blunders to put
the world in peril and Marge
angry. It’s a wonder Marge
has stayed with Homer all of
these 18 years. She has been
on the verge of leaving and
actually left once or twice
only to be lured back into
his zany web. Maybe Marge is
there to teach us the deeper
meaning of love in marriage
and true forgiveness. Nah.
Directed by David Silverman
the film was produced by
James L. Brooks, Matt
Groening, Al Jean, Mike
Scully, and Richard Sakai
and written by eleven of the
television series' most
prolific writers: Scully,
Jean, Brooks, Groening,
George Meyer, David Mirkin,
Mike Reiss, John
Swartzwelder, Jon Vitti, Ian
Maxtone-Graham, and Matt
Selman. It stars the regular
television cast of Dan
Castellaneta, Julie Kavner,
Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley
Smith, Hank Azaria, Harry
Shearer, Pamela Hayden, and
Tress MacNeille and features
Albert Brooks in a prominent
guest role, as well as Tom
Hanks and Green Day in
There had been previous
attempts to create a film
version of The Simpsons, but
they failed because of
script length and lack of
staff. This movie’s
production began in back in
2001 when plot ideas were
conceived, re-written about
a hundred times, resulting
in "two films' worth” of
finished material cut,
including cameos from Isla
Fisher, Minnie Driver, Erin
Brockovich and Kelsey
Grammer. Promotions with
7-Eleven, who transformed
select stores into Kwik-E-Marts,
MySpace, and Burger King the
flick has to be a winner
before it even premiered in
Basically, if you enjoy The
Simpsons, you will enjoy the
movie. If you’re not already
a fan it’s unlikely the
movie will convert you to
The plot includes the band
Green Day performing on Lake
Springfield ending up killed
because of the polluted
lake, Grampa has a vision,
Lisa holds a seminar
entitled "An Irritating
Truth", Homer adopts a pig,
dumps pig's waste into the
lake. Russ Cargill, head of
the EPA, tells President
Springfield is extremely
polluted and the government
must take drastic action and
the EPA places Springfield
in a giant glass dome. It
gets even crazier from there
when the Simpson's flee to
Alaska, see a television
advertisement with Tom Hanks
promoting a new Grand
Canyon, to be located where
Springfield is and Marge and
the kids decide that they
must save the town from
government destruction, but
Homer refuses to help the
town that tried to kill him.
Not to give away any big
secrets, (SPOILER) the film
ends with everyone restoring
Springfield, including the
Simpson's house, back to the
way things were. They had
to, of course, or their
world would come to an end.
And who would want to have a
world without The Simpsons.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At
World’s End Opens May 24, 2007
by LeeAnn Sharpe
It used to be sequels were never as good as the original movie.
Except for The Godfather. But the “Pirates” series has been
another exception to that rule, with each episode as, or more,
exciting than the last. “At World’s End” has been much
anticipated with rumors and stories building the enthusiasm for
this episode more than the previous issue. Walt Disney Co is
aiming for a new opening day record to reclaim the title held
last summer with "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."
release. Along with a higher theater count, "At World's End" has
the advantage of opening over the Memorial Day weekend.
One reason “At World’s End” is so much anticipated is the long
awaited arrival of Capt. Jack Sparrow’s (Johnny Depp) father
Teague Sparrow played by Rolling Stones rock legend Keith
Richards. Depp had been quoted as having styled the Captain Jack
character after Keith Richards real life personality.
No one was sure if Richards would actually take a cameo role in
“At World’s End”. He had been pursued since the first movie came
out. But in a recent press showing it was reported in the Danish
paper “Extra Bladel” that Jack walks up to Captain Teague and
asks, “How’s Mom?” Teague replies by grunting and showing Jack a
shrunken head in a jar, possibly indicating that he got tired of
All the characters from prior episodes return. Elizabeth Swann (Keira
Knightly), Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Captain Barbossa
(Geoffrey Rush) rescue Captain Jack Sparrow from the clutches of
the Kraken. Then they must face their foes, Davey Jones (Bill
Nighy) and Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander). Beckett, now
with control of Jones’ heart, forms a dark alliance with him in
order to rule the seas and wipe out the last of the Pirates.
Jack, Barbossa, Will, Elizabeth, and Tia Delma (Naomie Harris)
and the crew must call the Pirate Lords from the four corners of
the globe. This includes the infamous Sao Feng (Chow-Yun Fat),
to a gathering that will make their final stand against Beckett,
Jones, Norrington (Jack Davenport), the Flying Dutchman and the
entire East India Trading Company.
While filming “At World’s End” off the coast of Southern
California, the last week of August 2006, the crew often took
time out from shooting to sign autographs for fans. The Black
Pearl could be seen sailing to and from Palos Verdes Estates to
Redondo Beach pier.
Creative production included starting the filming without a
finished script. Some of the scenes were shot during the filming
of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest in 2006, so
expensive exotic locations would not have to be revisited. A
replica of the front half of the Black Pearl was built on a semi
trailer and used in scenes with the Shadow of the Pearl on the
salt flats of Utah. Shooting scheduled for 19 days took only
It’s been said that this movie has the most action packed and
intense scene in the history of movies. One action scene, the
last decisive battle, running for over 60 minutes, will keep you
riveted to your seat. The first cut of the film ran over 3 hours
long. The final cut in theatres now runs 168 minutes. It’s rated
PG-13 for the intense sequences of action adventure and
violence. Young children may find some of the images too