Friday, September 30, 2011

The Perfect House Movie Review

The Perfect House Shockya Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello

Directed by: Kris Hulbert (‘First Times’) and Randy Kent (‘Life of Lemon’, TV’s ‘The John Kerwin Show’)

Starring: Monique Parent (TV’s ‘Tanya X’), John Philbin (‘Children of the Corn,’ ‘The Return of the Living Dead’) and Felissa Rose (‘Dahmer vs. Gacy’)

The horror genre has multiple successful sub-genres, whether it be Hitchcock-inspired suspense, ‘Saw’-inspired torture-porn or violent, psychological thrillers. The new horror anthology film ‘The Perfect House’ encompasses all three sub-genres with three diverse short stories. All three stories take place in the same house, particularly the basement, and aim to prove that people are sometimes driven to commit crimes by an external evil force.

‘The Perfect House’ follows newlyweds Mike and Marisol (played by Will Robertson and Andrea Vahl), who are given the tour of their dream house by a perky, sexual real estate agent (portrayed by Monique Parent). While the two are initially interested in buying the house, their perceptions of it quickly change once they view the basement. The two quickly feel a sense of unease in the house, which is revealed to be related to its foreboding, horrifying past.

The true horrors of the house are revealed in the three short tales. The short stories include ‘The Storm,’ a Hitchcock inspired tale of a family taking shelter in the basement from a violent storm. However, the storm isn’t the only thing threatening the family, as the abuse and resentment between them is quickly revealed. Next comes ‘Chic-ken,’ in which John Dosey (played by Jonathan Tiersten) kidnaps innocent people and locks them in the basement to torture and kill them. He keeps one female victim (portrayed by Holly Greene) alive to watch the torture. The last story, titled ‘Dinner Guest,’ follows a stranger (played by Dustin Stevens), who locks his next door neighbors in the basement and kills them one-by-one.

‘The Perfect House,’ which is set to premiere on FlickLaunch, the first movie distribution platform built on Facebook for independent filmmakers, takes a unique approach to telling the house’s story. Give the house is the only location in the horror thriller, and the basement serves as the primary antagonist, writer Kris Hulbert, who co-directed the film with Randy Kent, was able to maintain viewers’ interest in the house’s evil by telling the three stories. Each short story proves the directors’ message that evil isn’t always passed down generation to generation, amongst families; society and exposure to external past crimes can lead to people to their breaking points.

Of the three stories, ‘Chic-ken’ is the most entertaining, as it derives from the family element of ‘The Storm’ and ‘Dinner Guest.’ Kulbert and Kent show that like society, which can become desensitized to evil after repeatedly watching horror films and television shows, the female victim becomes numb to John’s repeated torture and killing of other innocent people. The two have an interesting dynamic together, as the female knows what John is doing is wrong, but she comes to revel in the killings, since she has witnessed it for years.

To continue reading this review, please visit Shockya.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Interview: Jen Gatien Talks Limelight

Read Shockya's exclusive interview with Jen Gatien, who served as one of the producers on the new documentary ‘Limelight.’ The film, which was directed by Billy Corben, chronicles the rise and fall of the nightclub career of Gatien’s father, Peter. Known as the king of the 1980s New York City club scene, Peter built and oversaw an empire and helped create the culture that defined an era. However, his club empire declined in the late ’90s after Mayor Rudy Giuliani cracked down on nightclubs. After pleading guilty to a tax evasion charge, Peter was deported back to his native Canada. ‘Limelight’ also features interviews with some of the government officials, witnesses and co-defendants involved with Peter’s trial. Gatien discusses with us, among other things, why she approached Corben to make the documentary, and what the filming process was like.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Shockya (SY): You approached Billy with the idea to make a documentary about your father’s career and trial. Why did you decide document his side of the story?

Jen Gatien (JG): Essentially, it had been something I had been developing for a long time. At one time, Akiva Goldsman wanted to do a feature based on the story, and then it laid dormant for awhile. After seeing ‘Cocaine Cowboys,’ I saw how Billy was able to set a story against a city, and in this case, it was a cocaine story set against Miami. I thought he was the right match to do something, not just about my father, but the transformation of New York as a whole.

SY: Billy has said that when he attended the Toronto International Film Festival, your father wasn’t very happy with the final version of the film. What was your opinion about the final version of the movie?

JG: I felt the film was slanted towards the more sensational aspects of the story. There are a lot of people who made Limelight happen, not just the people that are in the film. From my father’s point of view, there were a lot of aspects that made Limelight historical that were missing from the film, to not just club culture or techno culture, but to rock-n-roll as well. Bands like Pearl Jam and Guns N’ Roses performed. There was a party on Tuesday nights called Communion that was an alternative night. So I think he felt the movie didn’t encompass everything that Limelight stood for, and instead only focused on one part of it.

SY: Did you have any involvement in who appeared in the film, or have any ideas of who you wanted to appear in it?

JG: Well, what happened was Billy did all the outreach to the government side, all of who didn’t know about my involvement in the film as a producer. But I want to stress that I’m one of several producers who worked on the project. Alfred Spellman is one of Billy’s producing partners, and he was integral to the project. But I was able to get interviews with people who would otherwise have had concerns about participating in a documentary because things tend to skew so sensationally with this case. I think I brought a comfort level to people, not just my father. People like Ben Brafman, or Steve Lewis. They knew that the movie’s going to look at this with sincere consideration and research.

To continue reading this interview, please visit Shockya.

Interview: Billy Corben Talks Limelight

Read Shockya's exclusive interview with director Billy Corben, whose newest documentary, ‘Limelight.’ is set to hit theaters on September 23, 2011. The film tells the story of legendary nightclub owner Peter Gatien, who rose to fame with his New York City nightclubs Limelight, Tunnel, Palladium and Club USA in the 1980s and ’90s. While Gatien initially served as the figurehead for New York nightlife for a generation and defined the image of an era, he was eventually brought down during Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s determined crackdown on clubs. ‘Limelight’ features interviews with notorious players of the 1980s and ’90s club era, key informants in Gatien’s tax evasion trials and the nightclub owner himself. Corben discusses with us, among other things, how he became involved with the film, and what kind of research he did before he began filming.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Shockya (SY): What was your motivation in telling Peter’s story, and chronicling the rise and fall of his nightclub empire?

Billy Corben (BC): Well, his daughter, Jen Gatien, who is a producer on this project, had seen ‘Cocaine Cowboys,’ which was a movie we made in 2006. She is an accomplished indie film producer, and was looking to partner with someone to tell her father’s story in a non-fiction film. She liked ‘Cocaine Cowboys,’ the style of it and our approach, and wanted us to get involved in the project. We talked about it internally for awhile. It was our first outside of Florida project, it was our first non-Miami centric project, and was really the first project that was instigated by someone not in house. It was someone else’s idea, that we didn’t develop. So we thought about it, and (Corben’s producing partner) Alfred (Spellman) called her back and said we’d have to get final cut, because for us, this is not an image rehabilitation piece. We’re not going to be the PR wing of the Gatien family. I came up with this line early on that this movie is not going to be ‘Memoirs of a Gatien.’ If he wants to do that, he can set up a camera and tell his own story his own way. We were going to have to have all creative control, and all control over the edit. We know that’s true, because Peter’s not happy with the movie. (laughs) He and I got into a shouting match at the TIFF theater in Toronto. So I guess I did something right (laughs).

SY: Was that the first time Peter had seen the film, in Toronto?

BC: No, he had seen it before, which is why he was pissed. (laughs) He had taken out several pieces of paper that he had folded up in his pocket, and he had notes for me. (laughs)

SY: When you first began filming ‘Limelight,’ did you have any apprehension or concerns about telling Peter’s story?

BC: The concerns were access, because this is pretty recent history. It was a real sore subject for almost everybody involved, whether it was the DEA agents, the US attorneys, Peter, any of the witnesses against him, any of his co-defendants. Obviously, this was a very sensitive subject, and a subject that many people did not fair well. They did not come out of it unscathed, reputationally, occupationally or otherwise. So that was the concern, who was going to talk on-camera, and who’s not. Fortunately, we were not only able to get a lot of access on-camera, but anyone we didn’t speak to on-camera, we spoke to many of them off-camera. That helped to influence our base of knowledge, the edit of the movie, based on things we were able to learn. I spoke with two of the three US attorneys who prosecuted the case. We spoke with, either on-camera or off-camera, almost every government witness in the United States vs. Peter Gatien case. We spoke to one of the two primary DEA agents, who didn’t want to give an on-camera interview, but at least we got a little information from him. We got just as much, if not more, information off-camera as we did on-camera. But that’s reflected in the final piece. The audience does get the benefit of the information from the sources we had that weren’t on-camera. It helped shape the piece, and make it stronger, I think. But ultimately, a lot of people did not want to talk about this.

SY: So what was the process like in getting people to agree to appear in the movie, or at least talk to you off-camera?

BC: Well, one of the benefits we had, of course, was Jen (Gatien), who knew the witnesses even against Peter. She knew that at one point in time, they were all friendly back in the day. (laughs) So Jen was extremely helpful in that regard. Also, having her as a producer on the project made access on the other side less helpful, regardless of our contractual relationship, i.e., we have complete creative control over the project. There’s a certain perception, obviously, at having her involved on that level, that made people, like the US attorney’s office and the DEA, who were already not enthusiastic about participating, even less so, if that’s possible. So that was both a help and a hinderence with access.

To continue reading this interview, please visit Shockya.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Abduction Movie Review

'Abduction' Shockya Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello

Director: John Singleton (‘Boyz n the Hood,’ ’2 Fast 2 Furious’)

Starring: Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins (‘The Blind Side,’ ‘Priest’) and Maria Bello

The most effective, thought-provoking and memorable action thrillers don’t solely include high adrenaline stunts, they also include an intriguing story filled with surprising twists and well developed characters. Unfortunately, famed action director John Singleton failed to recapture his former glory with his new film ‘Abduction.’ The movie chooses to instead capitalize on cliched stunts, predictable plot points and one-dimensional characters to appeal to its intended audience.

‘Abduction’ follows teenager Nathan Price (played by Taylor Lautner), who’s dealing with feelings of rage and anger, and thoughts that he’s living someone else’s life. While working on a school project with neighbor Karen Lowell (portrayed by Lily Collins), the two discover a missing children website with a picture of Nathan when he was three years old. He discovers that his parents, Kevin and Mara Harper (played by Jason Isaacs and Mario Bello, respectively), aren’t his birth parents, and they’re hiding a mysterious and dangerous secret.

While trying to figure out his true identity, CIA agents and assassins begin targeting Nathan, and he is forced to go on the run. He brings Karen with him, as her parents are away on vacation, and he begins to feel that he can best protect her. Nathan and Karen race to elude the agents and assassins, while aiming to solve the mystery behind his elusive biological parents.

Singleton, who achieved box office success with his last two action films, ’2 Fast 2 Furious’ and ‘Four Brothers,’ unfortunately failed to include the elements in ‘Abduction’ that made his previous movies thrilling and captivating. While the action thriller had an interesting concept, making a teenager the main protagonist who’s determined to discover the truth about his true family and background while protecting those he loves, the back-story isn’t extremely detailed. It’s hard to relate to Nathan, as there’s no in-depth information about his background, including why he felt he couldn’t fit in with anyone, or exactly why the assassins are after him.

To continue reading this review, please visit Shockya.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Limelight Movie Review

'Limelight' Shockya Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello

Directed by: Billy Corben

Starring: Peter Gatien, Moby and Michael Alig

People’s views and opinions on controversial subjects often are linked to their experiences. This is certainly seen in the new Magnolia Pictures documentary ‘Limelight,’ which tells the story of well-known New York City nightclub owner Peter Gatien. The film’s director, veteran documentary helmer Billy Corben decided not to focus solely on Gatien’s side of why he was ultimately charged with tax evasion; he also featured account of events from witnesses and government officials to explain why the former King of New York Clubs was targeted.

‘Limelight’ chronicles the rise and fall of Gatien, one of the city’s most well-known club owners throughout the 1980s and ’90s. Operating such hot spots as Limelight, Tunnel, Palladium and Club USA, he catered to tens of thousands of club-goers, and helped define the image of an era. However, once New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani embarked on a rigorous crackdown on nightlife in the mid-90s, Limelight and the rest of Gatien’s clubs were targeted for allowing drugs on the premises. After later being acquitted of most of the charges in an infamous, high-profile tax evasion trial in the late ’90s and pleading guilty to several charges, Gatien was eventually deported back to his native Canada.

Corben took a bold but ultimately effective risk in deciding to tell all sides of the story of Gatien’s life and trial, and not just from the club owner’s point of view. Given that the trial is still such a sensitive subject for everyone involved, including the governmental officials, prosecutors, witnesses and Gatien’s co-defendants, Corben allowed everyone the chance to tell their accounts of events. What made ‘Limelight’ intriguing was the fact that not everyone interviewed agreed with Gatien’s claims that he is innocent of the crimes he was charged with. Their long-stated beliefs, which became known when he was on trial, led to the thought among his supporters that he was being used an example for other club owners.

To continue reading this review, please visit Shockya.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wrecked DVD Review

'Wrecked' DVD Review, Written by: Karen Benardello

A-list actors with a large fan following are often criticized for taking roles that don't physically or emotionally challenge them, as their fans will see any movie they're in. Academy Award-winning actor Adrien Brody is one exception to this rule, as seen in 'Wrecked,' which is now available to buy on DVD on Amazon. The film, which was released by New York-based distribution company IFC Midnight Films, not only shows Brody's ease at emotionally developing his character, who has little back-story and is in the majority of the movie by himself, he also wasn't afraid to perform his own stunts to better connect to his role.

'Wrecked' follows the unnamed man (played by New York native Brody), who wakes up to find himself to be the only survivor in a devastating one-car crash at the bottom of a steep cliff. Not remembering who the other passengers are or even who he is, why they crashed and how they got to the bottom of the cliff, the man only has his instincts to rely on to survive. Trapped in the car, the man has to figure out how to free himself while struggling with hallucinations, including one where a woman he doesn't know (played by Caroline Dhavernas) who keeps coming back to taunt him.

While 'Wrecked,' which was written by Christopher Dodd, is essentially just a tale chronicling how people will react when they are not only fighting to remember their identity but for their survival as well, the story loses its appeal over time. While the audience immediately connects to the man, as they are just as interested as he is to find out why the car crashed, who he is and how he will escape, spending almost the entire film exclusively with just the one character makes it lose its appeal.

Dodd and first-time director Michael Greenspan achieve their goal of wanting the audience to connect with the man and feel the pan he's suffering while trying to figure out a way back to safety. However, the lack of explanation of the crash and an external conflict will not only leave the audience feeling bored, but it will also unfortunately make them lose sympathy for the man.

To continue reading this review, please visit Examiner or Associated Content.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Interview: Michelle Danner Talks Hello Herman

Read Shockya's exclusive interview with acclaimed actress and acting coach Michelle Danner, who’s making her feature film directorial debut with the upcoming drama ‘Hello Herman.’ The movie, which features newcomer Garrett Backstrom in the title role, follows the 16 year old as he kills 39 students, 2 teachers and a police officer in his school. He then e-mails pictures of the incident to his idol, journalist Lax Morales, played by Norman Reedus. Danner, who also runs the Edgemar Center for the Arts in Los Angeles, discusses with us, among other things, why she was motivated to tell Herman’s story, and what Garrett and Norman’s working relationship was like.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Shockya (SY): You helmed the upcoming movie ‘Hello Herman.’ What was your motivation in telling Herman’s story, given its similarity to contemporary school shootings, including Columbine?

Michelle Danner (MD): I wanted to tell the story of ‘Hello Herman‘… more than I’ve ever wanted to tell any other story because of the subject matter. Violence is increasing, youth violence is escalating, and it’s not only in America but worldwide. I think that we need to keep having the conversation. Because it’s such a huge concern, solutions are not easy to find. The movie does not address that, the movie is about starting and continuing a conversation that we need to keep having. Personally, whenever innocence gets squashed and people are cruel to one another, it provokes a lot of sadness for me. It’s important to keep telling those stories.

SY: Garrett Backstrom makes his feature film debut in ‘Hello Herman,’ as the title character. Why did you decide to cast Garrett in the lead role, and how do you feel he did portraying such an evil character?

MD: Garrett was the perfect Herman, the moment he came in to audition for the movie I knew that he was going to play the part. I did not want the character to be psychotic and I did not want to cast someone that was weird and off putting. I wanted to cast a kid that is an everyday kid because the reality is; anyone pushed to the brink is capable of acting out on their dark side. I was so happy with Garrett’s work. He exceeded all of my expectations and gave a performance that is highly nuanced and very deep. I know there will be many more great performances to come out of him. He blows people away in this first movie.

SY: Norman Reedus portrays Lax in the film. Given the fact that Herman idolizes Lax, how would you describe Garrett’s working relationship with Norman?

MD: Garrett and Norman hit some pretty awesome chemistry. It was great to watch their energies bounce off each other. Norman brought his incredible talent and heart to the part and Garrett could do nothing but be in awe of it. Norman has done 40 movies, I think Garrett looked up to Norman and learned from him.

To continue reading this interview, please visit Shockya.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

'I Don’t Know How She Does It' Movie Review

'I Don’t Know How She Does It' Shockya Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello

Director: Douglas McGrath (‘Emma,’ ‘Infamous’)

Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear

Adapting a popular novel, particularly one that is filled with social commentary and has been described as the “national anthem for working mothers,” into a film has never been an easy task. However, director Douglas McGrath has naturally brought the story of working mother Kate Reddy, the main character of the critically and commercially acclaimed book ‘I Don’t Know How She Does It’ by Allison Pearson, to life in the new film of the same name. While the story mainly focuses on Kate’s inner struggle and conflict to succeed as a working mother, everyone will be able to connect with her desire to do her best in her career and with her family.

‘I Don’t Know How She Does It’ follows Kate (played by Sarah Jessica Parker), a woman struggling to balance her rising financial investment career with her hectic personal life. Kate loves her job as an investment manager at the Boston satellite of a New York-based financial firm, for which she travels frequently. However, her husband, Richard (portrayed by Greg Kinnear), and their two young children, Emily (played by Emma Rayne Lyle) and Ben (portrayed by twins Theodore and Julius Goldberg), become upset that Kate repeatedly misses their activities and family time for work.

Kate’s family becomes even more distraught when her proposal for a new investment fund is chosen by the firm’s main boss, Jack Abelhammer (played by Pierce Brosnan), to be pitched to a major client, meaning she’ll be spending more time away from home. Of her busy life, Kate’s friends, including fellow working mother Allison (portrayed by Christina Hendricks), as well as her colleagues, such as her workaholic, child-phobic associate Momo (played by Olivia Munn), all repeatedly say “I don’t know how she does it.”

The comedy, much like Pearson’s beloved debut novel, appeals to everyone, even people who don’t have children. Through comedy, the film provides a social commentary on modern American life-everyone is struggling to find a perfect balance between launching their careers and having a fulfilling personal life. Screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna succeeded in bringing Kate’s inner struggle to succeed in all aspects of her life to the screen; McKenna has said she was attracted to the story because it’s a great depiction of the highs and the lows of trying to balance home life with a rising career.

To continue reading this review, please visit Shockya.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Interview: David L. Cook Discusses Seven Days in Utopia

Author David L. Cook, one of America's leading Peak Performances coaches and sports psychologists, aimed to prove important life lessons in his 2009 book, Golf's Sacred Journey: Seven Days at the Links of Utopia. The novel, and its life lessons, were the inspiration for the new sports drama 'Seven Days in Utopia,' which stars Robert Duvall, Lucas Black and Melissa Leo, and for which Cook wrote the screenplay.

The story follows a down-on-luck professional golfer, Luke Chisholm (Black), who travels through the back roads of Texas after having a breakdown during a televised tournament. After being stranded in Utopia, former professional golfer Johnny Crawford (Duvall) challenges Luke to stay in the small town for seven days. In the process, the young athlete learns that faith and staying true to yourself is more important than winning every game.

Cook generously took the time to discuss where the inspiration for the story came from. He also spoke about the process of bringing the story to the screen in 'Seven Days in Utopia,' which is now playing in theaters in a limited release.

Question: Where did you get the inspiration to write this book?

David L. Cook: You really want to know?

Question: Yes, because it wasn't as much of a golf film as it was a life film.

DLC: It is a life film. You always have to set a film in some sort of metaphor. So Utopia, Texas is real, it's a little town of about 200 people, minus my family. My wife's family has a ranch that has been in their family for about 100 years. So we go down there all the time, and we've been going there for about 30 years. There's no golf course within 60 miles of this place, and I'm a golfer. I figured I'd never play golf when I was down there. For 30 years I didn't.

When I walked in the cafe down there one day, everything's fried, and the smoke just blows out, just like in the book, and as I was paying, this is how life changes. This is a real story. I look up, and there's a hand-written piece of paper, torn in half, (that says) Utopia Driving Range. Next to the cemetery. (laughs) Come find your game. This was the marketing plan for this new driving range. I was intrigued, and it caught my attention. Maybe no one else, but it did mine.

So I went out there, because I like to hit golf balls. There's this beautiful cemetery with oak trees with a rock wall around it, it looked like Scotland. It was gorgeous. I mean, the tombstones are like from 1804. I mean, this is a beautiful place. Then like 10 steps outside of that fence were like three pieces of AstroTurf, with weeds and rocks all around. They were the worst golf balls anyone's ever seen, they didn't have any dimples on them, hardly. Along the 300-yard long plowed cow pasture, there were three signs that were crooked. This was the Utopia Driving Range.

I laughed, and I just sat there and said this is so bad, this is pathetic. But there was something that happened, the profoundness of that simple spot moved me, and I knew that there was something going on here. I looked at that cemetery, and something began to well up inside of me. I took my computer out, and put it on the front porch of our farm house and began to write, and about eight hours later, stopped.

What I found that day is this: when I hit, I went ahead and hit a golf ball, I'm a pretty good player. What every golf player is looking for, and this is just metaphorical for life, what we're all looking for is the sweet spot. When you hit a golf ball, it kind of hits right in the center of the club and it takes off perfectly, it doesn't matter if you're on a pebble beach, or if you're in Utopia. I went aha! The sensation that we're all looking for in our life is the sweet spot. So underneath the book and the movie is this whole idea about what is the sweet spot in life?

Question: With golf films, there seems to be something that's transcendent beyond the sport. What is it about golf and making films, and writing books about it, that has that core experience?

DLC: The thing with golf is that you interact so deeply with nature. I mean, you're out there on a four-to-six hour walk, depending on how slow the place is, and you're interacting with nature. It's just you, and you can't hide your score from anybody, but there's this peace.

Like right here in New York City, they've played the U.S. Open here several times. It's a great place to go lose yourself, and involve yourself in something that's really cool. Everyone in the world, it may be a long shot, if they made a putt from 30 feet, you would be able to say, that's as good as Tiger Woods could have done.

That's the thing about golf, even once or twice a round, we enter into this zone. I mean, you can do that in golf, but none of us can go out and do that on a professional football field. But all of us can do that in golf, it's easy to get into this zone, where you hit the sweet spot and you make something happen. You go, no one in the world can make that happen.

Question: During the process of writing the book, did you check the PGA Tour, to help you get in the mindset?

DLC: My day job is a sports psychologist. I've been doing this for 25 years, working with the PGA Tour. Lucas Black is a compilation of all those players in one guy. So I knew this, I saw all this on a daily basis, I saw the melt-downs. I felt that in my life as a player, I knew that character. Also, the way I teach, plus the mentors in my life, I put them all in that Robert Duvall character. So it's a good question. Both those characters have a little bit of me, but a whole lot of the people I've worked with, or under. So it was easy, I didn't have to do it all from my head. I've worked with that kid in the movie my whole life.

Question: How did you decide on K.J. Choi as the player who would play golfer T.K. Oh in the film?

DLC: That's a good question. If you look universally, the future of golf is moving to Asia, fast. I was noticing in the women's amateur that the U.S. Amateur (Championship), and the U.S. Junior (Amateur Golf Championship), and I think the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association), were all won by Asian women. It's starting in the men's tour, with K.J. Choi.

First of all, I wanted that character to be unique in golf, and so far, an Asian hasn't become number one in the world, but it's a matter of time. Also, I wanted to expand the expansion of golf towards Asia, and help encourage that. The third thing is that I wanted this movie to be futuristic and predictable and prophetic, that it may happen one day. So I needed an Asian to play that character.

So this is really cool. K.J. Choi used to be a power-lifter. He used to be able to lift 350 pounds. So K.J. Choi (was a power-lifter) before he became a golfer. So that was unique. But when you bring an Asian into the movie, you want the guy to be intimidating looking. But we have a faith element in the movie, and K.J. Choi is a very faith-driven man. So the reason we got him was because he liked the story, and he wanted to be part of that story. He didn't speak much English last year, but we said, you have the right heart for this for the story, but I want you to look like you're about to clean and jerk 350 pounds for three days while you're filming this movie, just look intimidating. He did a great job.

Question: You did a great job with the anger of the jealous boyfriend (Jake, played by Brian Geraghty, who wanted a romantic relationship with Deborah Ann Woll's character, Sarah, who in turn liked Luke) with teaching lessons. So with what you do in real life, where did that begin?

DLC: Well, you almost have to watch this movie two or three times to get that that guy had a turn-around in his life. It happened when they (Jake and Luke) were pitching offers. They started doing well together, and they started liking each other. Then when he (Jake) started doing the face-on putting as good as Luke, that was good.

But there was a line in there, where Sarah says, you'll have to forgive him. You'll have to listen really carefully, and I've heard this line many times, and I think the sound was off a little in the movie, she says he has a broken heart. His dad wanted him to continue the family business, but he chose the rodeo instead, and his dad disowned him.

So I work with lots of young men and women that have been disowned because they followed their dreams. They have a choice. They can emerge as people who feel good that they followed their dreams, or they can be angry.

I wanted Jake somehow, in the background, to turn that around. I have such a heart for people who just have a dream, but they get shut down. So he was that character. Then the main character, he had a dream, and he just knocked it down. But there was a really cool thing with his dad (Martin, played by Joseph Lyle Taylor), too. It was a different element. It was like his dad was too invested, while the other dad just disowned him. So that just set up a fight between those two guys. But their hearts were right.

Question: Luke's father was too invested in the man he wanted his son to be, not what his son wanted to be.

DLC: That's right. What do you call that when the dad does that, transference? (He's) validating himself through his son.

Question: How did you find out that Lucas Black was a golfer?

DLC: One of my very good friends is Stan Utley, he's a leading short-game experts in the world. His brother, John, is from Missouri (like Black), and he's a teacher as well, a golf instructor. He and Lucas play golf together in tournaments. John called me and said, if you end up turning this book into a movie, I've got the perfect guy for it. He's about 27-years-old. He plays in all these amateur tournaments. He plays on my team, he can beat me. I'm a pro, and the guy's really, really good.

I just knew this: if we're going to have an element in there, whether it's flying, fly-fishing or golf, these had to be done well, and they had to be portrayed right. There's been too many golf movies where they got an actor and taught them to play golf, and you can't do that. Kevin Costner couldn't come across as a pro golfer (in Tin Cup). That was a decent movie, but could we get a golfer that can pull it off?

'Sling Blade,' ('The Fast and the Furious:) Tokyo Drift,' 'Friday Night Lights,' 'All the Pretty Horses,' the man (Black) can act. I think this is a coming-out for him, he's in every scene.

In 'All the Pretty Horses,' there was a line in there. We shot (Seven Days in Utopia) in Utopia, Texas. Texas has the Sabinal River that runs through it, and Utopia sits in the Sabinal Valley. It's only like a five or 10 mile circle. In 'All the Pretty Horses', Lucas is a little kid, and these big guys come up to him and say, where are you from? He says, I'm from Uvalla County. I'm from the Sabinal Valley in Uvalla County. That's exactly where we shot this movie. That was done like 10 years ago in another movie that has nothing to do with this movie.

Question: Lucas has a perfect Alabama accent. How was it as a Texas accent?

DLC: Perfect. Like people from the South, he just had to throw in a few y'alls in there. (laughs) Other than that, it's pretty much y'all, because he's pretty much perfect.

Question: Robert is such a lover of Texas. Was he always part of the plan?

DLC: So we sit down the first day this was going to be a movie, and go, okay, no one's in the room. We got the white board up there. If anybody can play Johnny, who would it be? I said, Robert Duvall. Everyone in the room just kind of laughed. We put him up there, and said, okay, lets get real. (laughs) Then we started looking on the Internet for all these people who can act, but no one knows their names. We said, okay, can we get him for $500? (laughs) So the first two guys on the white board were Lucas Black and Robert Duvall. Then Robert said yes.

Question: Didn't you have Lucas first?

DLC: Yes, but they were the first in their categories. So when Robert Duvall said yes, all the dominoes kind of just fell. We went from a sleepy, million dollar movie to a multi-million dollar movie. Not because we paid them all that, but because it opened the realm for this to be a major release.

Question: Was it difficult to bring the book into the movie?

DLC: No, I got to shepard it along. It started at an independent production company. I was an EP (executive producer) along the way, and I got to write the screenplay. We knew there were some non-negotiables in this movie. The ending was non-negotiable. The faith element, we needed to maintain that. It's just the circle of a human being. There's that part to everybody, and you have to do it right in the movie. We didn't want to shy away from it.

What was beautiful was that Robert Duvall said yes to this. Some younger actors could have been scared, I think. There's a faith element they have to do. As soon as Robert said he was in it, everybody was in it.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Warrior Movie Review

'Warrior' Examiner Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello

While it offers a similar theme to last year’s hit biographical sports drama ‘The Fighter,’ the new Lionsgate action film ‘Warrior’ surprisingly offers a unique, detailed backstory and relatable, developed characters. The upcoming drama, which is set to hit area Long Island theaters on Friday, September 9, successfully differentiates itself from the Mark Wahlberg-led vehicle; not only does ‘Warrior’ feature issues many Americans can relate to today, including family estrangement and struggles, it also features believable, memorable performances by its lead actors

Troubled by his turbulent past, including his estrangement from his alcoholic father, Paddy (played by Nick Nolte), and his older brother, Brendan (portrayed by Joel Edgerton), as well as the death of their mother, former Marine Tommy Conlon (played by Tom Hardy) returns home to Pittsburgh for the first time in fourteen years. Tommy asks his father to help him train for Sparta, the biggest winner-takes-all event in mixed martial arts history, which is scheduled to take place in Atlantic City over the Fourth of July weekend.

While Tommy wants nothing personal to do with his father or brother, an ex-fighter-turned-physics teacher living in Philadelphia who returns to martial arts in an attempt to save his wife and children from financial ruin, both Paddy and Brendan futilely reach out to him. Tommy instead focuses all of his attention to become an early favorite in Sparta, instead of confronting Brendan, the underdog in the competition, and the problems that pulled them apart.

‘Warrior’s director and co-writer, Long Island native Gavin O’Connor, made the right decision in hiring Hardy and Edgerton in their respective roles. Hardy perfectly understood the anguish and hurt Tommy felt by his father and brother’s betrayals when he was a teenager; neither Paddy nor Brendan supported, or even stayed, with Tommy and their mother when she was sick and dying. While Tommy is a private person who’s afraid to let those who care about him back into his life, Hardy effortlessly conveyed his character’s suffering through his fighting.

To continue reading this review, please visit Examiner.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

'Apollo 18' Movie Review

'Apollo 18' Shockya Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello

Director: Gonzalo López-Gallego

Starring: Warren Christie (TV’s ‘Alphas’), Lloyd Owen (‘The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones’)

The mockumentary has become a popular sub-genre in the horror film category in recent years, as the films in the genre often scare people into believing the horrifying events depicted in the plot can come true. But the new Dimension Films sci-fi horror thriller ‘Apollo 18,’ which stars Warren Christie and Lloyd Owen as two astronauts on the fabled manned mission to the moon, regrettably deviates from what makes mockumentarys so enjoyable-an interesting reasoning on why the events are being filmed, and relatable characters who can make it out of any situation.

Set in December 1973, a year after the eleventh and final known manned mission to the moon, ‘Apollo 18′ follows the U.S. government telling the public that further missions have been canceled, due to budget cuts. However, the Department of Defense sends three astronauts on a secret Apollo mission to place spy equipment on the moon’s surface to monitor the USSR.

Two of the astronauts land the craft, while the third stays in the shuttle. The two who land the craft discover an abandoned USSR pod that’s covered in blood, and a deceased Cosmonaut with a rock protruding from his leg. While the Department of Defense denies they knew of the Soviets being on the moon, the two become worried when they find their flag goes missing, and their communication equipment increasingly starts to cut out. While trying to get home, what makes matters worse is the fact that rocks that appear to turn into spiders find a way into one of the astronaut’s suits, and the possibility that aliens have landed on the moon.

‘Apollo 18′ garnered attention prior to its release, as it’s Spanish filmmaker Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego’s English-language directorial debut, and he has made a name for himself in the thriller genre. Bob Weinstein, the founder of Dimension Films, the studio that released the movie, has also claimed that all the footage featured is real. But the sci-fi horror thriller failed to live up to its hype, as it neglected to develop its main characters. While audiences will surely want the astronauts to survive, little is revealed about them, except that they do have families at home. Not knowing why they agreed to take part in the secret mission, what they knew about it before they launched and why they even became astronauts in the first place makes them unrelatable. Lopez-Gallego also failed to create a backstory for the astronauts, much less differentiate between the two, which makes it difficult to understand their actions and motivations.

To continue reading this review, please visit Shockya.