Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Jamie Chung and Scott McNairy Enter Indie Territory Through Eden

Jamie Chung and Scott McNairy are currently in negoitiations to star in director Megan Griffiths' upcoming independent film 'Eden,' according to The Hollywood Reporter. The movie, which is based on a true story, follows a Korean-American girl who's abducted by human traffickers and is sold into prostitution. 'Eden' will also chronicle how she spends two years manipulating and influencing her captors to stay alive.

'Eden,' which was written by Griffiths and Richard B. Phillips, will begin shooting in August 2011 in Seattle and eastern Washington state. The movie is being produced by Colin Harper Plank and Jacob Mosler through the former's Centripetal Films.

The news of Chung and McNairy's involvement comes after she began filming 'The Man with the Iron Fist' and 'Premium Rush' with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. She has also begun shooting the political drama 'Knife Fight' with Rob Lowe.

McNairy previousl worked with Griffiths in 'Off Hours.' He has been garnering attention since he appeared in the sci-fi independent movie 'Monsters,' which follows a journalist's travel through a quarantine zone infected with an alien pathogen. 'Monster's helped land him a role in director Andrew Dominik's crime thriller 'Cogan's Trade,' alongside Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta and James Gandolfini.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Sunday, June 26, 2011

'Bending All the Rules' Movie Review

'Bending All the Rules' Shockya Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello

Directors: Morgan Klein and Peter Knight

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Colleen Porch (‘Transformers’), David Gail (TV’s ‘ER’)

Bending all the rules is supposed to reference the gender stereotypes lead character Kenna (played by Colleen Porch) is supposed to break in the new Lionsgate DVD of the same name. However, despite featuring Bradley Cooper in one of his earliest lead roles, ‘Bending All the Rules’ fails to live up to its potential and use the fan favorite actor to its advantage. The movie smashes all the characteristics of comedies that make them successful, including funny characters and humorous situations, to largely focus on the fact that Kenna’s the one who’s afraid of commitment, instead of the men in her life.

‘Bending All the Rules’ follows Kenna, an ambitious woman determined to achieve her goal of leaving her job as a cocktail waitress to become a successful photographer. Between her career objective and the hurt she still feels from her mother leaving her when she was a child, Kenna has no desire to start a committed romantic relationship. She lets the two men she’s casually dating at the same time, aspiring DJ Jeff (portrayed by Cooper) and businessman Martin (played by David Gail), know this when she starts the relationships. Despite the fact that Jeff and Martin both know about each other and Kenna’s fear of commitment, the two men both compete with each other to win her sole attention.

The movie, which was filmed in 2002 but wasn’t released onto DVD until June 2011, is typical of the many women-take-charge comedies of the early 2000′s. The purpose of ‘Bending All the Rules’ was to show that women don’t need to follow the standard expectations placed on them by society; their careers can be more satisfying and fulfilling than a committed relationship. But directors and writers Morgan Klein and Peter Knight did little to create diverse characters who matured throughout the course of a developed storyline with defined conflicts. Kenna just keeps reiterating throughout the whole film that she doesn’t want to become serious with either Jeff or Martin until she starts selling photographs, but she spends more time fighting off their advances than actually trying to reach her professional goals.

To read the rest of this review, please click here.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

'Page One: Inside the New York Times' Movie Review

'Page One: Inside the New York Times' Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello

The thing that is supposed to keep the world connected to the most up-to-date information is ultimately the same thing that's ruining the delivery of news. The new documentary 'Page One: Inside the New York Times' perfectly showcases how even veteran print journalists are now fighting to keep their jobs at even the most well-known newspapers, as the world continuously turns to the Internet to obtain the news.

'Page One: Inside the New York Times' chronicles the inner workings of the Media Desk of one the country's largest and most respected newspapers. While the paper has been in print since 1851, The New York Times, as with the rest of the print industry, has had to adapt to the Internet surpassing print as America's main news source. Fearing the historic newspaper will follow in the footsteps of other dailies that closed due to bankruptcy, Times writers Brian Stelter, Tim Arango and David Carr track print journalism's change. While the writers work to get the best quotes and information for their articles, their editors and publishers struggle with such problems as WikiLeaks releasing videos of the Iraq war on-line, Twitter constantly breaking major news events and readers expecting that online news should be free.

As 'Page One: Inside the New York Times' director Andrew Rossi said of Carr, he's "the kind of character that a documentary filmmaker dreams of finding. He speaks his mind." The scenes featuring the 25-year reporting veteran are definitely the most entertaining, as he isn't afraid to go after the story he wants to write, and is tireless about obtaining the information he needs to write an article. When his interviewees question the ways he or the Times covers topics, Carr relentlessly defends the paper's way of reporting.

To read the rest of this review, please visit Examiner or Associated Content.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Interview: New York Times Reporter Brian Stelter Discusses Page One: Inside the New York Times

Read Shockya's virtual roundtable interview with ‘New York Times‘ reporter Brian Stelter, who writes about television and the web for the newspaper and its blog, Media Decoder. Before joining the daily newspaper in 2007, Stelter founded and edited the television news blog TVNewser. Stelter, who can be seen in the upcoming documentary ‘Page One: Inside the New York Times,’ discusses with us, among other things, how he reacted when he found out he was hired by ‘The New York Times’, and why he thinks using Twitter is so important for journalists.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Question (Q): How much of what you cover is determined by what you can write in ‘The New York Times’ versus Twitter?

Brian Stelter (BS): Everything I write about adheres to the standards of ‘The New York Times’, whether on Twitter or any other site. For me, Twitter is an early warning system for breaking news; a tool for interacting with readers; and a great way to promote and improve our work.

Q: You were hired by ‘The New York Times ‘ when you were featured on a first-page story for founding the blog TVNewser. What was your reaction when you heard you were hired?

BS: I thought they had made a mistake! Joking aside, I was thrilled to have a job right out of college, but I was intimidated at the prospect of writing for such a widely read outlet. When I arrived, I kept my head down and wrote as many stories as I possibly could — assuming that the more I wrote, the better I’d get. Thankfully, there was lots of space in the paper and even more space online for my stories.

Q: Has how your approach to a story or the people in a story changed since ‘Page One’s film release?

BS: I might be a bit more sensitive to the people who are on the other side of the camera. And I’m definitely a bit more interested in documentary film. Other than that, it hasn’t changed a bit. And since I cover television, not film, most of the time, it hasn’t been a conflict.

To read the rest of this interview, please click here.

Interview: David Hyde Pierce and Screenwriter-Director Nick Tomnay Talks 'The Perfect Host'

Read Shockya's roundtable interview with actor David Hyde Pierce and Australian screenwriter-director Nick Tomnay, whose psychological thriller ‘The Perfect Host’ is now available via VOD, and will be released in select theaters on July 1, 2011. The movie, which is based on Tomnay’s 2001 short film ‘The Host’ and marks his feature-length debut, follows John Taylor, played by Clayne Crawford, who just robbed a bank and is trying to escape capture from the LAPD. He shows up at the doorstep of Warwick Wilson, portrayed by Pierce, who is preparing a dinner party for some friends. As the night progresses, the two men both discover how deceiving looks can really be. The two discuss, among other things, how Pierce prepared for his role, and what sort of challenges they faced during the film’s 17 day shoot.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Question (Q): David plays the perfect host in the movie. What were some of the necessary changes that you felt David brought to the character that were different from the original incarnation (‘The Host’)?

Nick Tomnay (NT): Honestly, I didn’t change anything. I just wrote it as I thought it should be. When we were doing it, and when we were rehearsing it, David would come up to me and say, this doesn’t make sense to me. I said, what would you say, and he said so-and-so. Some people said to me in Australia, this doesn’t really feel like an Australian movie, it feels like it can be a tale that could be told anywhere. I agree with that. When I expanded it into a feature film, I wasn’t specifically thinking about America or Australia, I was thinking about telling the tale.

Q: David, when you first got the script for ‘The Perfect Host,’ which is Nick’s first feature film, why did you take the chance on him?

David Hyde Pierce (DHP): I had been drinking. (laughs) No, I had read the script, and I had really liked it. Obviously, the character is incredible for any actor. But also, it’s also a really smart, funny, interesting, twisted, twisty script. So I had loved that, to begin with. I saw the short, ‘The Host,’ so I got a glimpse of Nick’s style as a filmmaker, which is really clear and strong, and also fun, not heavy-handed, that’s something that’s important to me, that there’s humor in the script. You’re allowed to laugh. He did all those things. The last part of it was actually meeting Nick. We had a couple of meetings. It was not just the process of talking through how we would do it and how to play the character. It was also getting to know him, being very comfortable, wanting to work with him. It was a friends level, I would want to spend time with this person, it would be worth a shot.

Q: What about your walk David, the distinctive walk the character has. Was that something you brought, or was it something that was in the script?

NT: No, David did that. I think in rehearsal, you said “Hey, I’m working on this, what do you think?”

DHP: I never said those words! No, I had been drinking. No. (laughs) I’ll tell you, the walk came honestly from early discussions. I don’t want to give too much away. **Spoiler alert: The character has many different aspects to himself, sort of in the beginning and the end of the movie, they’re different sorts of people. I wanted to physicalize that in a way that was noticeable but not so extreme that it wasn’t believable. So one of the ways to do that was to kind of goose the way he moved in the beginning of the movie into one direction, which was more of a fluid, kind of snaky oddness, so that later on in the movie, when his physicality is a little more stolid and lumpy, it would help underscore the differences.

NT: The last shot of the film, you have both Warwicks, which is great. I think that’s something I realized in the editing room, are you doing both? I think at the time, when we were shooting, we were so energetic. In the last shot, David starts off one way, and ends up another way, which is almost like the whole movie in one shot. End spoiler**

To read the rest of this interview, please click here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Interview: Choreographer Tre Armstrong Talks 'So You Think You Can Dance Canada'

Read Shockya's exclusive interview with choreographer, dancer and actress Tre Armstrong, who currently serves as a judge on the fourth season of ‘So You Think You Can Dance Canada.’ Besides appearing on the hit reality dance competition, Armstrong also choreographs routines for Jason Derulo, Sarah Brightman and Ludacris, dances with Sean Paul, Neyo, Missy Elliott, Jason Derulo, Sean “Diddy” Combs and Rihanna and is an occasional actress. Furthermore, she travels the world, teaching hip-hop, urban and freestyle dance in workshops, seminars and classes. Armstrong discuses with us, among other things, what she finds so appealing about ‘So You Think You Can Dance Canada’ and why she combines her dancing with her acting.

Written by: Karen Benardello

ShockYa (SY): You are once again a judge on the current fourth season of the popular reality television competition ‘So You Think You Can Dance Canada,’ a position you’ve held since the show’s first season in 2008. What initially attracted you to the show, and what do you find the most appealing about it that makes you want to return to it every year?

Tré Armstrong (TA): It was the opportunity to educate, empower and mentor dancers in Canada to become global phenoms on stage and in Film/TV that first excited me. Also, the opportunity to choreograph for the TV nation, but I don’t seem to do this anymore on the show unfortunately. I come back for the dancers, they inspire me so much to keep pushing forward.

SY: What are the most challenging and the most rewarding aspects of being a judge on ‘So You Think You Can Dance Canada?’

TA: As a permanent judge I have to be unbiased and keep an open mind at all times, so that can be difficult. Every dancer is unique and it’s sometimes hard to remember that, plus some are sooooo young, 18 years of age to be exact! The most rewarding part is being able to see the growth of the competitors (and myself!) right in front of my eyes.

To read the rest of this review, please click here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Interview: Screenwriter-Director Nick Tomnay Talks 'The Perfect Host'

Read Shockya's exclusive interview with filmmaker Nick Tomnay, who is making his feature-length directorial and screenwriting debut with the upcoming psychological thriller ‘The Perfect Host.’ The movie follows John Taylor, played by Clayne Crawford, who just robbed a bank and is trying to escape capture from the LAPD. He shows up at the doorstep of Warwick Wilson, portrayed by David Hyde Pierce, who is preparing a dinner party for some friends. As the night progresses, the two men both discover how deceiving looks can really be. ‘The Perfect Host,’ which is based on Tomnay’s 2001 short film ‘The Host,’ is currently available through VOD and is scheduled to hit theaters in a limited release on July 1, 2011. Tomnay discusses with us, among other things, what Pierce and Crawford’s relationship was like in real life, and why he wanted to cast the two actors.

ShockYa (SY): The main relationship in ‘The Perfect Host’ is between Warwick and John, and it’s a tumultuous bond. What was David’s relationship with Clayne like in real life?

Nick Tomnay (NK): It was, you know, because we shot the film so quickly, there wasn’t a lot of time for anything but the movie. I think that Clayne and David and I were sort of obsessed with the process, and were very involved in making the movie. I mean, we were immersed in it. It was a lot of joint enthusiasm for it because of that. Because of that, we all had a great time. We all got along well and were making jokes. It was a real sense of camaraderie when we were making the film. We worked with the actors and the crew so well, I think, because we had to shoot it so quickly and had no money. We had two trailers, and that was it. There was no real luxury in all that. We all just stuck together. I remember at one point, we were shooting a shot of Clayne, and he was really enjoying himself. He said “this isn’t like making a film, this is like making a film with my buddies in Alabama,” where he’s from. That sort of feeling, just for the joy of it. That was really good, I think that helped. I wanted the film to have that joy too.

SY: You only had 17 days to shoot the film. What were some of the challenges in having such a sort shooting period?

NT: Well, you know for me, one of the challenges was shooting the exteriors, because we didn’t have a lot of time. I would have really liked to have more time to shoot some of that stuff. The opening sequence was basically in-camera edits. We got from point A to point B, and just shot in chronological order. We just did a couple of takes, and moved on. When we came to edit it, I just took off the top and splashed it together, and that was the beginning. So there was that aspect of it. It was very quick, and we were running out of time. So that was the constant thing throughout the whole movie, the time, the clicking clock was just kind of over my shoulder the entire time. For me, the challenge was to make the film without the audience feeling that we had rushed through this. We hadn’t rushed it, there was just no time for experimenting.

To read the rest of this interview, please click here.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

'Mr. Popper’s Penguins' Movie Review

'Mr. Popper’s Penguins' Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello

Director: Mark Waters (‘Mean Girls,’ ‘Freaky Friday (2003)’)

Starring: Jim Carrey, Carla Cugino (‘Sucker Punch’) and Angela Lansbury

It’s not often when a Golden Globe-winning actor is upstaged by animals in a movie. But that’s certainly the case in the new live-action comedy ‘Mr. Popper’s Penguins,’ which stars Jim Carrey in the title role and is based on the 1939 book of the same name by Richard and Florence Atwater. Director Mark Waters successfully appeals to children, his targeted audience, by using real penguins instead of CGI in the film, but ultimately fails to connect with adults with the lack of emotions exhibited by Carrey.

‘Mr. Popper’s Penguins’ follows Tom Popper (played by Carrey), a successful New York businessman whose relationship with his children, Janie (portrayed by Madeline Carroll, ‘The Spy Next Door’) and Billy (played by Maxwell Perry Cotton, TV’s ‘Brothers and Sisters’), is deteriorating. Tom receives six penguins from his father, who sailed around the world while Tom was a child, after he dies. While Tom is reluctant to care for the penguins at first, he eventually comes to care about them, as Janie and Billy want to come visit him more often to see the birds. Even though Tom is reconnecting with his kids and his ex-wife Amanda (portrayed by Carla Gugino), his professional life is failing, as he’s starting to neglect his work. His bosses become upset that he’s unable to close his deal to buy the famed restaurant Tavern on the Green from Ms. Van Gundy (played by Angela Lansury). But after seeing that any situation can be fixed with perseverance, Tom persistently tries to impress Ms. Van Gundy to make the deal and save his job.

The family film tells a touching story best suited for fathers and their young children, just in time for Father’s Day. ‘Mr. Popper’s Penguins’ proves how personal sacrifices can bond family; Tom was willing to sacrifice his care-free lifestyle to begin looking after and protecting the penguins, as his children, particularly Billy, wanted to keep them. Tom didn’t mind that caring for the penguins affected his job performance, as he didn’t want to break his promise to his children that he would keep the animals. While Tom and Amanda are no longer married, he still wants to keep his family together and please everyone.

Children will also appreciate and laugh at the numerous tricks involving the penguins that are featured throughout ‘Mr. Popper’s Penguins.’ One humorous stunt occurred while Tom was attending a gala at the Guggenheim Museum to try to talk Ms. Van Gundy about buying the Tavern. The penguins, who grew attached to Tom, followed him to the museum. After water was spilled on the floor, the penguins started sliding all around the museum, knocking into guests and pushing them over the balcony.

To read the rest of this review, please click here.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Visit My Examiner and Associated Content Profiles!

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

'Jig' Movie Review

'Jig' Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello

People are often afraid of the unknown, but if they take a leap of faith, they’ll realize that some things they had misconceptions, or knew little, about are more inspiring than they ever could have realized. Through its interviews with, and showcasing the dances of, several Irish competitive dancers, the new documentary ‘Jig’ proves that the folk dance isn’t just about wigs, costumes and make-up; it’s a creative, positive activity people of all ages and nationalities can express their personalities through.

‘Jig’ marks the first time someone not involved in the aggressively competitive but private world of Irish dance has been able to film the Irish Dancing World Championships. After two years of preparing for the movie, first time theatrical director Sue Bourne chronicles the passion dancers of various cultures, including Irish, American, English, Scottish and Russian, put into the fortieth competition. ‘Jig’ also details the hard work the dancers put in all year just to appear on stage at the championships, which were held in Glasgow, Scotland in March 2010, for a few minutes.

Bourne expertly achieves her goal of proving the dedication all the dancers put into the championships. Viewers will be intrigued by the commitment the dancers put into their practice and the amount of money they spend on their costumes just to win the glory of being named the top competitor in Irish dance. They’re an inspiration, as they don’t mind feeling isolated from many people who aren’t familiar with Irish dancing and who question what they find appealing about the dance that’s little-known outside of the U.K.

To read the rest of this review, please visit Examiner or Associated Content.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

'Super 8' Movie Review

'Super 8' Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello

Summer is once again starting, offering more adventures for kids who are off from school. Director, writer and producer J.J. Abrams is once again showing the fascinating journeys children get into in his new sci-fi film 'Super 8.' While some people may feel that the sci-fi genre only targets young boys, 'Super 8' proves the genre can be interesting for everyone if it includes relatable characters and an emotional backstory.

'Super 8' follows Joe Lamb (played by Joel Courtney), a 13-year-old from the fictional town of Lillian, Ohio, as he's dealing with the recent death of his mother, who was crushed to death in an industrial accident. Joe is having a hard time connecting to his father, Lillian deputy Jackson Lamb (portrayed by Kyle Chandler), who is more comfortable working than being a father.

Four months after his mother's death, during the summer of 1979, Joe and his friends Charles (played by Riley Griffiths), Preston (portrayed by Zach Mills), Martin (played by Gabriel Basso) and Carey (portrayed by Ryan Lee) are busy working on their zombie movie that they want to enter into a film festival. They convince their classmate Alice Dainard (played by Elle Fanning) to take her father Louis' (portrayed by Ron Eldard) car, drive them to a train depot and star in their Super 8 movie. While filming, Joe and his friend witness a truck, driven by their biology teacher Dr. Woodward (played by Glynn Turman), drive onto the tracks to cause a train to derail.

The Air Force arrives in Lillian, and Colonel Nelec (portrayed by Noah Emmerich) tries to get Jackson to stay out of his way while he cleans up the wreckage. Meanwhile Joe and his friends are determined to finish their movie and investigate the crash without Jackson's knowledge. They discover that an alien was aboard the train, and try to figure out what to do next.

To read the rest of this review, please visit Examiner or Associated Content.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

'Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer' Movie Review

'Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer' Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello

Director: John Schultz (‘Drive Me Crazy,’ ‘Like Mike’)

Starring: Jordana Beatty (‘Superman Returns,’ ‘Legend of the Seeker’), Heather Graham, Parris Mosteller (TV’s ‘Worst Week’)

The start of the summer has always marked the beginning of countless adventures for children across America. The new Relativity Media family comedy movie ‘Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer,’ which was released just in time for the start of many kids’ vacations, aims to show what thrills and excitement they can unfold. However, the movie, which stars Australian newcomer Jordana Beatty in the title role, unfortunately doesn’t live up to its full potential and expectations, which were created by the successful book series it’s based on.

‘Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer’ follows the title character, a Virginia girl who just finished third grade, who’s determined to make this summer the best one yet. She creates a thrill chart so that her and her friends can compete to get the most thrill points; to get points, they must complete the scariest things they can imagine. However, Judy’s plan immediately goes awry when she finds out her best friend Rocky (played by Garrett Ryan) is going to circus camp, and their other best friend, Amy (portrayed by Taylar Hendler), is traveling to Borneo with her mother. Judy becomes even more upset when her parents tell her that they’ll be traveling to California and she’ll be stuck home with her brother Stink (played by Parris Mosteller) and their Aunt Opal (portrayed by Heather Graham), who she doesn’t remember. But Judy is still determined to earn thrill points, despite her other best friend, Frank (played by Preston Bailey), who stayed home with her, seeming less than excited to complete their challenges.

Despite the fact that ‘Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer’ is based on the nine books in the Judy Moody book series, penned by the movie’s co-writer Megan McDonald, the film unfortunately fails to deliver a developed plot-line solid conflicts. McDonald deserves credit for striving to branch out into a new area of writing, but Judy is underdeveloped, especially given the large amount of source material she’s based on. While Judy puts in her best efforts to find exciting things to do, such as ride a roller coaster or learn how to surf, and she becomes annoyed that both Rocky and Amy left her for the summer, Judy doesn’t overcome any major personal or external conflicts.

Even though many of the thrills Judy, Frank, Rocky and Amy embark on throughout the movie are unrelated and fail to uphold a cohesive plot-line, director John Schultz made a good choice in hiring Beatty to play the adventurous main character. Producer Sarah Siegel-Magness has rightfully said that because the books are “both character-driven and extremely visual, we felt it was important to find kids who looked exactly like the book characters.” After she asked McDonald what her image of Judy was, the writer found Beatty on-line, and pushed to have her cast, even without meeting her. McDonald’s faith in Beatty paid off, as she not only looked like the character as illustrated by Peter Reynolds in the books, but she also perfectly carried every scene.

To read the rest of this review, please click here.

Friday, June 10, 2011

International Stars Shine at Long Island International Film Expo

International Stars Shine at Long Island International Film Expo
Bellmore Movie Theater Once Again Hosts the LIIFE

Premiere screenings and panels offering insights into the making of short and feature length films are just some of the highlights of the fourteenth annual Long Island International Film Expo (LIIFE). The expo will be held at the Bellmore Movie Theater, located at 222 Pettit Avenue, between July 7 and 14, 2011. Every film genre will be represented at LIIFE, which is being organized in part by the Long Island Film/TV Foundation.

LIIFE kicks off with an informal opening night, invitation-only party for participating filmmakers, sponsors, dignitaries, board members and press. Other events that will be held during LIIFE include the scriptwriting panel "Write Stuff," which will take place between 12:15 and 1 pm on Saturday, July 9 at the Filmmakers Lounge, directly west of the Bellmore Movie Theater. The following day will feature a free Film Distribution Panel, titled "Hear Industry Professionals Discuss the Current State of Independent Film Distribution," between 12 and 1 pm. The event will take place at the Filmmakers Lounge, and will be moderated by Marc Jacobson

Another event that will take place is the Filmmakers Breakfast Panel, which will take place between 10:30 am and 12 pm on July 9 at the Filmmakers Lounge. The topic for the panel, which is free for LIIFE 2011 Filmmakers and Gold Pass Holders and $5 General Admission for everyone else, will be "The Good, the Bad and the Horror Stories."

To read the rest of this article, please click here.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

'Somewhere' and 'I Am Number Four' DVD Review Associated Content Links

My 'Somewhere' and 'I Am Number Four' DVD reviews were posted on my new Associated Content page!

Director Richard Ramson Discusses 'Bohemia: Life of a New York City Poet'

Director Richard Ramson Discusses 'Bohemia: Life of a New York City Poet'
The Director Reveals Why He Wanted to Chronicle Poets' Lifestyles

Director Richard Ramson is re-releasing his 2009 documentary 'Bohemia: Life of a New York City Poet' on DVD, in an effort to bring to light the pain struggling poets in the City that Never Sleeps face. Now available to rent or buy on Amazon, the R. Media Inc. film features interviews with several poets, who strive to reach more audiences. The poets also read their work to prove to viewers that they understand their pain. Among the things Ramson discusses are where he came up with the idea to make 'Bohemia: Life of a New York City Poet,' and why New York is a great place for poets to perform.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Question (Q): Where did you get the inspiration to make 'Bohemia: Life of a New York City Poet?'

Richard Ramson (RR): I saw a lot of people who started open mics, and built them from nothing. I saw a unique lifestyle within the poetry community a Bohemian lifestyle of writers in pain who lived what they wrote. Hence I saw an underground lifestyle that was opposite of what you saw in '‹Å"Def Poetry Jam.' I saw real people from all types who had something to say, and it was somewhat of an underworld, so I had to document this. With the help of Alan Baxter, Josh Meander, Tongo Eisen Martin, Franco Rosado, Evy Ivy and many others, many underground open mics and their talent welcomed me with open arms.

Q: Where in New York, and when, did you film the documentary?

RR: I started shooting in December 2007 and ended the whole production in 2009. We shot at places all over Manhattan, including Nuyorikan Caf©, KGB's , Bowery Poetry Club, Kairos, Nomads Choir and various places on the streets of New York, including Union Square and the Lower East Side.

To read the rest of this interview, please click here.

Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks Show Sparks New Yorkers' Patriotism

Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks Show Sparks New Yorkers' Patriotism
The 35th Annual Show Will Feature America's Largest Fireworkds Display Against a Musical Backdrop

Written by: Karen Benardello

Watching fireworks on the Fourth of July with friends and family has become a celebrated national tradition for many Americans every year since the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. While countless people choose to stay at home and barbeque to honor the U.S.'s birthday, for those Americans celebrating in New York, many forgo the backyard parties to instead watch the Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks show, the nation's largest fireworks display, in person.

This year marks the 35th anniversary since the department store launched the show, and Macy's will celebrate the event by setting off more than 40,000 fireworks against a 25 minute musical score. Such standard patriotic songs as 'ËœGod Bless America' and 'ËœThe Star Spangled Banner,' as well as current hits from such artists as Jennifer Hudson, Katy Perry, Taio Cruz and James Taylor, will serve as the musical backdrop to the anticipated light show.

To read the rest of this post, please click here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ten Must-See Summer 2011 Movies

Ten Must-See Summer 2011 Movies:
Discover 2011's Most Anticipated Big Budget and Independent Summer Movies

Written by: Karen Benardello

Summer is often thought of as the most enjoyable and exciting season of the year, as there are many activities for people to engage in with their friends and family. One of the most celebrated activities of the summer for many people is going to the movie theater to see their favorite actors in the most anticipated blockbusters of the year. Summer 2011 promises to continue that trend, as the big and independent studios are gearing up to release a variety of films, including comedies, dramas and sci-fi thrillers. While several new movies will hit theaters every week during the next three months, 10 films are destined to go above and behind, and already seem likely to become sure hits.

1. Actor Dermot Mulroney directs an all-star cast, including Mandy Moore, Kellan Lutz, Jane Seymour, James Brolin and Jessica Szohr, in the upcoming IFC romantic comedy Love, Wedding, Marriage, which is set to be released on June 3. While Mulroney is making his directorial debut with the film, he perfectly understands on-screen romantic relationships, as most of his lead roles have been in romantic comedies, including My Best Friend's Wedding and The Wedding Date. While Love, Wedding, Marriage is only set for a limited release, everyone nationwide will connect to Moore's character Ava, a newlywed marriage counselor, when she discovers her parents, played by Seymour and Brolin, are getting a divorce. She puts her own marriage to Charlie, played by Lutz, on the line to save her parents' marriage.

To read the rest of this review, please click here.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Interview: Actress Jordana Beatty and screenwriter Megan McDonald talk ‘Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer'

Read Shockya's roundtable interview with 12-year-old Australian actress Jordana Beatty and screenwriter Megan McDonald about their upcoming Relativity Media comedy film ‘Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer.’ The movie, in which Beatty portrays the title character, is based on McDonald’s book series ‘Judy Moody’. The family-friendly film follows Judy as she finds out her best friends Rocky (portrayed by Garrett Ryan) and Amy (played by Taylar Hender) and her parents are all leaving town for the summer. Judy is forced to stay home with her second best friend Frank (portrayed by Preston Bailey), her younger brother Stink (played by Parris Mosteller) and their Aunt Opal (portrayed by Heather Graham), who they never met before. To keep the summer interesting, Judy comes up with a thrill points competition. Beatty and McDonald discuss with us, among other things, some of the challenges in making the film, and whether or not they felt pressured to please the fans of the book series.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Question (Q): Megan, when you were adapting the book to the screenplay, what were some of the changes made to get the story to the screen?

Megan McDonald (MM): Well, actually, I didn’t base it on any one book from the series. I decided to do a whole new adventure for Judy Moody, and summer is the first compelling idea. I thought it would be so much fun to do a summer film and go back to the way my own childhood summers were. So that was sort of the the initial inspiration. But the books mostly take place during the school year, so there’s a lot of stuff from Judy Moody Saves the World in it. The story itself is just a story.

Q: Were there any challenges during the film?

MM: The screenplay was a very challenging thing, because I had only ever written one screenplay.

Q: What about for you, Jordana?

Jordana Beatty (JB): Well, besides having to cut my hair, that was a challenge. That was probably the hardest.

MM: What about the roller coaster scene?

JB: That was a challenge, a personal challenge, because I was very scared.

MM: She’s never been on a roller coaster before. I wouldn’t even go on it, it was so scary. They had a stunt double who they were thinking of putting in. The stunt double cried and went home! (laughs) Jordana’s very brave.

Q: That seems like it would be the funnest part, amusement parks and roller coasters, you think every just loves them.

MM: Well, the funny part is, we didn’t have any extras that day, because all the crew guys wanted to on. (laughs)

Q: It sounds like you overcame your fear Jordana.

JB: Yeah, I still went on it.

Q: Is there anything else that you encountered in filming that was challenging?

MM: What about doing an American accent?

JB: I guess it wasn’t a challenge. But it sort of came kind of easily, so it wasn’t really a challenge.

MM: Besides the roller coaster, what do you think the hardest scene was?

JB: The tightrope scene.

MM: You loved the tightrope.

Q: Was the tightrope the most fun to film?

JB: Yeah, it was really high, that was great.

Q: When you were filming the movie, did you feel any pressure to please the fans of the books?

MM: I guess I wouldn’t really say pressured as much as hoping and really wanting the fans to feel they’re going to know Judy right away and enter into that familiar world. So all of the little things of Judy Moody, her mood ring, all her collections. She has her “ABC” gum collection on the wall. Her Judy Moody outfit, or costume, is the classic one from the book, where she has tiger stripe pajama bottoms and her shark shirt, which the designer said was very challenging. They couldn’t find any fabric that looked right and matched the book. Judy’s room, they outfitted to look just like it did in the books. So a lot of attention was paid to those details. I think the film will be really funny even if you don’t know Judy Moody, but I think it’s going to be even more enriching if you do. You’re going to see and recognize so many things that you’ll know from the books.

JB: All of the collections and Stink (are in the books).

MM: Stink, the little brother, and Mouse the Cat.

To read the rest of this interview, please click here.

Seth Green and Billy Baldwin Among Actors Added to 'Sexy Evil Genius' Cast

Seth Green, Billy Baldwin, Michelle Tractenberg and Harold Perrineau Jr. have joined Katee Sackhoff to complete the cast of the upcoming dark comedy 'Sexy Evil Genius.' The Sobini Films feature will mark Shawn Piller's feature directorial debut, though he is known for helming such television shows as 'Haven,' 'Wildfire' and 'Greek.'

'Sexy Evil Genius' follows a group of strangers who are invited by their mutual ex-lover Nikki Frankly, set to be played by Sackhoff, to a bar in downtown Los Angeles. The unpredictable Nikki was just released from prison for murdering her last ex-boyfriend. She shows up at the bar with her morally-questionable lawyer, who's now also her fiancée. Though Nikki won't immediately reveal what her intentions are for the evening, the group assembled at the bar soon realize they're trapped in one of her mind-games.

Producer Mark Amin has said of 'Sexy Evil Genius' that he's been looking for a script that was original, had great characters, a seasoned director with a vision and a compelling story. When 'Sexy Evil Genius' attracted such a great cast, I knew we had found our film."

'Sexy Evil Genius' was written by Scott Lew, who has been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease. He penned the script by slightly moving his head, which was connected to a digital keyboard.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Interview: Danielle Nicolet Talks About 'Red Faction: Origins'

Read Shockya's exclusive interview with Danielle Nicolet, who plays Tess De La Vega in the upcoming Syfy Channel Original Movie ‘Red Faction: Origins.’ The highly anticipated movie, which premieres on Saturday, June 4, 2011 at 9 pm, is the first film based on the Red Faction video game series. The movie’s being released to help promote the new Red Faction video game Armageddon, which is hitting stores on Tuesday, June 7. ‘Red Faction: Origins’ is set twenty-five years after the events of the popular 2009 Red Faction game Guerrilla, and follows Jake Mason (played by Brian J. Smith), the last remaining son of protagonist Alec Mason. Jake discovers that his sister Lyra (portrayed by Tamzin Mechant), who was kidnapped 12 years ago, is still alive, and he sets out to save her. Nicolet discusses with us, among other things, what attracted her to the story, and how she prepared for the role.

Shockya (SY): ‘Red Faction: Origins’ is based on the video game franchise Red Faction, and is being released to coincide with the new game that’s coming out, Armageddon. Were you a fan of the games before being cast in the movie?

Danielle Nicolet (DN): I’ll tell you what, I didn’t play the games before I was cast, but I did get very hooked on them after I got the job. I’m a pretty big gamer, and I play quite a few games at my house, but I hadn’t had the opportunity to play Red Faction. When I got the job, I was sort of glad that I hadn’t (played the game) because it wasn’t in my head to paint my vision of what the movie was going to be like. Of course, as soon as I got (the job), I went out and got Guerrilla. It was really neat for me while we were shooting to poke around the set and see the different things that were pulled from the game. It’s really interesting when you watch the movie, you can see little pieces of the game, it’s like an Easter egg hunt.

SY: So what attracted you to the movie?

DN: The script. The writing is so good. It’s a rare experience of an actor that you read a script and you don’t say to yourself, well, it’s pretty good, but man, I’d change those lines if I could. I read the script, and there wasn’t one thing about it that I would change. I loved every single line that I got to say. So most of all, that’s what attracted me. When I read the script, I said I absolutely have to have this job.

SY: How did you prepare for your role of Tess?

DN: (laughs) Well, nothing really would have prepared me for the experience of being in Eastern Europe in the dead of winter. That actually was really helpful, because inherently, Tess is a fish out of water in the movie. She does not do well outside of her comfort zone. She is much more of a girl who would prefer to be at home, safe and warm, in front of her computer screen. In ‘Red Faction,’ she’s pulled entirely out of her element and dragged along on this mission to save Mars, functioning as this really tough guy, reluctant side kick. Danielle in Bulgaria was not all that different from Tessa because it was entirely different for me. I was as much a fish out of water in Eastern Europe as Tess was in the movie.

To read the rest of this interview, please click here.

'Waiting for Forever' DVD Review

'Waiting for Forever' DVD Review Written by: Karen Benardello

Director: James Keach

Starring: Tom Sturridge (2011′s ‘On the Road), Rachel Bilson, Richard Jenkins, Blythe Danner

People can wait years to be reunited with their true love, but it seems like they can’t postpone making money. A mere three months after it hit theaters in a limited released, the independent romantic drama ‘Waiting for Forever’ has been released onto DVD by its studio, PCH Film, without any bonus features. While the movie’s lead actors, Tom Sturridge and Rachel Bilson, have a natural spark and chemistry between them, their connection unfortunately won’t solely sell the DVD.

‘Waiting for Forever’ chronicles Will Donner (played by Sturridge) as he travels across America to follow his childhood friend and love Emma Twist (portrayed by Bilson). Now a famous Hollywood actress, Emma heads back to their hometown in Pennsylvania to see her sick father, Richard (played by Richard Jenkins), who is dying. Will is determined to tell Emma how he feels about her, despite his brother Jim’s (portrayed by Scott Mechlowicz) worries that he is emotionally ill, due to the fact that he still talks to their deceased parents.

Despite Jim’s concerns, his wife Susan (played by Jamie King), Will’s childhood friend Joe (portrayed by Nelson Franklin) and his wife Dolores (played by Nikki Blonsky), all encourage Will to tell Emma he loves her. However, Emma is dating Aaron (portrayed by Matthew Davis), who follows her to Pennsylvania to tell her he forgives her for cheating on him with one of his friends. Emma considers marrying Aaron after Will tells her he has been following her around the country. Aaron becomes upset Will has been following Emma, and has him arrested to keep him away from her.

Even PCH Films didn’t include any bonus features on the DVD to give viewers an insight into how the film was made, ‘Waiting for Forever’ is still a respectable choice for Bilson’s fans. The actress, who is most well-known for her roles on the hit Fox teen series’ ‘The O.C.’ and in the sci-fi movie ‘Jumper,’ proves that she’s able to connect with every character she takes on, no matter the genre. Bilson’s performance makes viewers truly believe Emma is determined to become a successful actress; she wants to get away from her small town and her strained relationship with her mother, Miranda (played by Blythe Danner).

To read the rest of this post, please click here.

Shockya’s Top Celebrity Tweeters: Karen's Favorite Five

Shockya’s Top Celebrity Tweeters: Karen's Favorite Five

Keeping up with Shockya’s new weekly mini-series, here are five more top celebrity Twitter accounts that the media-savvy public loves to “follow” on the popular social networking and microblogging website. It’s no secret that over the past few years, movie, television and music fans have become even more eager to “follow” their favorite celebrities on Twitter to see what they’re doing in their professional and personal lives, described in 140 characters or less.

While celebrities may join Twitter just to promote their upcoming projects or to keep their names in the media’s attention, this edition of Shockya’s Top Celebrity Tweeters features both film and television actors who not only discuss their acting, but also inform the world of the good they’re contributing to society. They also aren’t afraid to interact with their fans and show off their true personalities. Don’t forget to click on the Twitter icons to connect to the actors’ profiles, and to come back next week for the latest edition of this Shockya mini-series!

1. Lucy Hale- @lucyyhale

The current Teen Choice Award winner for Choice Summer TV Star: Female for her portrayal of Aria Montogmery on the hit ABC Family mystery teen drama ‘Pretty Little Liars,’ Lucy Hale is an up-and-coming star that deserves to be noticed. Much like her co-star Ashley Benson, whose Twitter account was mentioned on Perri Nemiroff’s Top Celebrity Tweeters, Hale doesn’t devote her entire page to just shamelessly promoting ‘Pretty Little Liars,’ which is set to premiere its second season on June 14, 2011. The actress proves that she’s down-to-earth by tweeting with her friends and that she’s not afraid of competition, as she writes about fellow actors, including Woody Harrelson and Stanley Tucci. Hale’s Twitter account definitely helps fans of ‘Pretty Little Liars’ get through the show’s hiatus.

To read the rest of this post, please click here.

'The Perfect Host' Movie Review

'The Perfect Host' Movie Review Written by: Karen Benardello

Director: Nick Tomnay

Starring: David Hyde Pierce, Clayne Crawford ('A Walk To Remember,' '24')

Unpredictable plot twists are always the key point to any successful thriller movie. With Magnolia Pictures’ latest suspense-filled thriller, ‘The Perfect Host,’ first time feature film director and writer Nick Tomnay proved his natural film-making abilities by not only creating unforeseen story elements, but also including multi-dimensional characters. The movie’s two main actors, David Hyde Pierce and Clayne Crawford, also help prove that a thriller doesn’t need big budget action sequences to create intrigue.

‘The Perfect Host’ follows criminal John Taylor (played by Crawford), who is on the run from the LAPD for robbing a bank. In order to avoid capture, John ditches his car and rings the doorbell of Warwick Wilson (portrayed by Pierce). After finding a postcard in Warwick’s mailbox from his friend Julia in Sydney, John claims to be a friend of Julia. He tells Warwick that he has just arrived back from visiting her, and lost his luggage and was mugged on the way home from the airport. While Warwick is preparing for a dinner party, he lets John stay, seeing that he has nowhere else to go. However, as the night progresses, John realizes he may be the one who needs to be careful of his new acquaintance.

The most difficult aspect of making ‘The Perfect Host’ for Tomnay was casting the role of Warwick. Having the movie in development since he wrote the short film it’s based on, ‘The Host,’ in 1999, Tomnay still was unable to find a production company to finance ‘The Perfect Host.’ When his manager, Stacey Testro and her partner Martin zoland, finally agreed to serve as producers, Tomnay was only given a small budget to create the movie, and even a smaller amount to give the lead actor.

To read the rest of this review, please click here.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

'Midnight in Paris' Movie Review

'Midnight in Paris' Movie Review Written by: Karen Benardello

Paris is one of the most romantic cities in the world, and often inspires and rekindles passion in relationships. New York native Woody Allen, who wrote and directed the new Sony Pictures Classic romantic fantasy comedy ‘Midnight in Paris,’ which is now playing in select Long Island theaters, strives to capture the City of Light’s past romance. While his goal is to prove how much easier and more loving life was in an earlier era, Allen regrettably fails to capture the much-needed modern conflict to make his intended themes believable.

‘Midnight in Paris’ follows Gil Pender (played by Owen Wilson), a Hollywood screenwriter who’s dissatisfied with his life, as he travels to Paris with his fiancée, Inez (portrayed by Rachel McAdams), and her parents for their business. Gil is struggling to finish his first novel, as he wants to prove that he can do more than just write movies. The harder he works on his novel, the further he emotionally distances himself from Inez, who looks down upon the project and his lifestyle.

Gil dreams of living in 1920s Paris, a time he believes is much simpler than present day America. While walking around the City of Lights on his own one night, Gil gets into a car with strangers, and is actually transported back in time to the ’20s. There he meets such famous artists and writers as Ernest Hemingway (played by Corey Stoll), F. Scott Fitzgerald (portrayed by Tom Hiddleston) and Pablo Picasso (portrayed by Marcial Di Fonzo Bo). Having getting excited about meeting his idols, Gil realizes that everyone is looking for a “golden past,” in which they become nostalgic about, and romanticize, an earlier time, instead of accepting their present and uncertain future.

To read the rest of this review, please visit Examiner or Associated Content.