Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Interview: The Cast Talks About Their Roles in Madea's Witness Protection

Interview: The Cast Talks About Their Roles in Madea's Witness Protection, Written by: Karen Benardello Sometimes the most important lessons in life can come from the most unexpected places. That’s one of the most comedic and enduring aspects of the new Tyler Perry movie ‘Madea’s Witness Protection,’ the fourth film based on one of the screenwriter-director-actor-producer’s plays. The filmmaker’s most well-known, beloved title character is back to not only show another family the true importance of caring for each other, but to also find out for herself what it means to experiment out of her comfort zone. ‘Madea’s Witness Protection’ follows George Needleman (Eugene Levy), the successful CFO of Wall Street investment bank Lockwise Industries, who contends with his frustrated second wife, Kate (Denise Richards), who has come to her limit caring for his senile mother, Barbara (Doris Roberts). They also have to deal with his rebellious teenage daughter from his first marriage, Cindy (Danielle Campbell), and their young son, Howie (Devan Leos), who wishes George was home more often. George gets the shock of his life when he finds out from his co-worker Walter (Tom Arnold) that the company is running a Ponzi scheme, and he’s been set up to take the blame. Brian (Perry), now a federal prosecutor in Atlanta, gets the task of placing the Needlemans in witness protection, after they received threats from the mob. So he decides to move the family in with his aunt Madea and father Joe (both also played by Perry). As Brian works to solve the case, Madea works to straighten the Needlemans out with her trademark tough love. Jake (Romeo Miller), the son of the pastor (John Amos) of Madea’s church, decides to help in the case, after losing the money intended to pay off the church’s mortgage in an investment with Lockwise Industries. The cast of ‘Madea’s Witness Protection,’ including Perry, Levy, Richards, Roberts, Miller, Arnold, Amos and Marla Gibbs, generously took the time to participate in a press conference at Le Parker Meridien hotel in New York. Among other things, they discussed the funniest parts of the movie, what it was like working together and what they learned from Madea. Question (Q): Tyler, do you think it will be hard for audiences to accept you as Alex Cross in ‘Alex Cross’ when it’s released this fall? Tyler Perry (TP): Alex Cross is such a departure for me. Wesley Deeds in ‘Good Deeds’ was the closest character I’ve ever played to Alex Cross. I think people will accept it, just as they accepted ‘Good Deeds.’ Q: Tyler, can you talk about two prominent themes in ‘Madea’s Witness Protection,’ and why you included them? The first theme being why corporations do the things they do, and also, what you drew from your own life and observations, to flush out the racial dynamics between a white and black family. TP: Well, I had a bunch of money with Bernie Madoff, and when he took off…oh no, I’m kidding. (laughs) No, I was having dinner with a friend, and they were saying, and this is how the whole thing started, the best punishment for Bernie Madoff would to have a movie with Madea. I thought man, that is funny. So I started writing the movie, and that’s where the whole process started. I thought, who would be the best person to play this guy? I thought, of course, Eugene Levy, who does an amazing job. (laughs) So that’s where it all started for me. As far as the dynamic of drawing on my own experiences, I drew from my mother. God rest her soul, if we put her in a five star hotel, as we did once, or if you put her on an airplane and put her through security, you would have all of those scenes. Or if you put her at a dinner table with a bunch of white people, you would have a lot of things that we have there. Q: We have followed Madea through all her movies. What would you say she learned this time around on her journey? TP: (laughs) I don’t know if she’s learned anything. What I’m trying to do as I grow as a filmmaker and in life, I want to make sure the character’s growing. This is a classic fish out of water story. She’s a big fish out of water in New York, and so is this family down south in her house. To continue reading this interview, please click here.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World Movie Review

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello Director: Lorene Scafaria Starring: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley and Connie Britton (TV’s ‘American Horror Story,’ ‘Friday Night Lights’) With the conspiracy theory that the world is going to end at the end of this year, to coincide with the ending of the Mayan calendar, many people have thought about what they would do if they knew they only had weeks or months left to live. The new romantic dramedy ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’ looks past the violence that has often surrounded the idea of the Apocalypse in many horror films to show how people will genuinely act in the event science couldn’t save Earth and its life forms. The main characters in the film choose not to engage in the reckless behavior their friends are to instead find comfort with each other, and accept how they’re lives have turned out. ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’ follows soft-spoken insurance salesman Dodge Peterson (played by Steve Carell), whose marriage quickly disintegrates when the news that the world will end in an estimated 21 days leads his wife to leave him. Realizing that he was never truly happy in his marriage, and wanting to make the most of the rest of his life before a 70-mile-wide asteroid hits Earth, Dodge decides to track down his high school sweetheart, Olivia. Dodge thinks Olivia is the love of his life, which leads his hopeless romantic neighbor, Penny Lockhart (portrayed by Keira Knightley), to encourage him to search for her. Dodge and Penny leave their respective lives as they head out on the road to reconnect with the people in their past. While traveling together, seeking their own personal journeys in an effort to contend with their looming deaths, the two realize how much they truly like each other. Both Dodge and Penny come to accept that their friendship may be all they need. ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’s screenwriter, Lorene Scafaria, who also made her feature film directorial debut with the romantic dramedy, perfectly captured the essence of people needing to find comfort in each other during dire circumstances with Dodge and Penny. Unlike many films dealing with the pending Apocalypse, which are often told in the horror genre with the visual horrors of the end of days, ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’ rightfully took a different perspective by focusing on people’s natural reactions. Dodge and Penny’s immediate response to the news is to make up for the wrongs in their lives, and search for people from who they’ve become distant from in order to save the relationships. To continue reading this review, please click here.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Interview; Harold Perrineau Talks Seeking Justice

Interview; Harold Perrineau Talks Seeking Justice When a tragic event happens to a person or someone close to them, one of the first thoughts in many people’s minds is to seek vigilante revenge on those who have wronged them. While most people fight back these spontaneous urges, there are some who will do whatever it takes to get payback, even if they have to resort to illegal means themselves. This is certainly the case in director Roger Donaldson’s action-thriller ‘Seeking Justice,’ which will be available on DVD, Blu-ray and DVD combo pack and Digital Download on Tuesday. One of the film’s stars, Harold Perrineau, who has experience in the action genre, agrees that seeking justice is one of the first thoughts on many people’s minds after going through a terrible accident, and openly discusses why he thinks so. ‘Seeking Justice’ follows happily married New Orleans high school English teacher Will Gerard (played by Nicolas Cage), whose wife, Laura (portrayed by January Jones), is brutally attacked one night after leaving rehearsal for the orchestra she works for. While waiting at the hospital to hear more about her condition, Will is approached by Simon (played by Guy Pearce), who makes him an intriguing offer. Simon, who is a leader of a secret organization, will have someone kill Laura’s attackers, if exchange for a favor from Will in the near future. Grief-stricken, Will agrees to become part of the dangerous underground vigilante operation. While trying to protect Laura from the truth, he soon realizes that his quest for justice is leading to deadly consequences he never could have imagined. Perrineau recently took the time to generously speak with us over the phone about the what it was like filming ‘Seeking Justice.’ Among other things, the actor discussed what attracted him to his role of Jimmy, who is friends with Will and Laura; what it was like working with Cage and Donaldson and why he enjoys working in the action genre so much. ShockYa (SY): You played Jimmy in the action thriller ‘Seeking Justice,’ which is scheduled to be released on Blu-ray, DVD and digital download on Tuesday. What was it about the character and the script that convinced you to take on the role? Harold Perrineau (HP): Originally (I thought), and I still think, the script is really interesting. I’m a big fan of movies, and (particularly) movies you can go in and enjoy as an experience. That’s what I first got when I first read the script. I just kept asking questions, like who’s that person? Why are they there? Is that something I would do? After I finished the script, I was like, wow, that was a step I didn’t expect. So I wanted to be part of that, and I wanted to be Jimmy. While he’s not the main character, he’s a really interesting figure in this film. So I wanted to be part of it. It was Nicolas Cage and (director) Roger Donaldson, and I wanted to be part of that team. Luckily, I was able to do it. SY: Speaking of Nicolas Cage, Jimmy is friends, and works, with his character, Will Gerard, in the film. What was your working relationship with Nicolas like on the set? HP: It was really good, it was really interesting. From the first time he opens his mouth, you go, right, this is Nicolas Cage. All the memories of all the movies he’s done come rushing back. Even though you know it going in, when you’re standing there, you’re going, this is a voice that’s familiar to me. It’s almost like family in an interesting way, it’s so familiar. So it was really fun and interesting. He’s an actor who just doesn’t stop working. So me loving the craft of acting, I really enjoyed the challenge of trying to stay up with him, and get up there and play back and forth. That was a really good experience for me. He’s really focused in, which made me focused in, and I thought it was a really playing experience. It was really fun. To continue reading this interview, please click here.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Interview: Peter Shinkoda Talks Falling Skies

Interview: Peter Shinkoda Talks Falling Skies, Written by: Karen Benardello Successful sci-fi series are often lauded for their impressive visual effects and stunts, but at times cans sacrifice intriguing characters and thought provoking plot-lines. But the hit critically acclaimed TNT series ‘Falling Skies,’ whose anticipated second season premieres tomorrow night at 9/8c, has garnered attention for its suspensefully paced stories and strong-willed characters. Actor Peter Shinkoda, who was cast by the show’s executive producer, Steven Spielberg, returns as Dai in the new season. Dai, the competent commando who is often coming to the rescue of Noah Wylie’s character, Tom, is just one of the strong, memorable characters on the series. ‘Falling Skies’ follows a group of civilians and soldiers struggling against an alien force that has invaded earth. In the chaotic aftermath of the alien attack, most of the world has become completely incapacitated. In the six months since the initial invasion, the few human survivors have banded together outside major cities to begin fighting back. Not only must the citizen soldiers left have to protect the people in their care, they must also engage in an insurgency campaign against the occupying alien force. Shinkoda generously took to the time recently to speak with us over the phone about the upcoming second season of ‘Falling Skies.’ Among other things, the actor discussed what it’s like working with Spielberg and Wylie, why he enjoys the sci-fi genre so much and his aspirations of becoming a screenwriter and director. ShockYa (SY): You’ll be returning as Dai for the second season of ‘Falling Skies,’ which is set to start its second season. What was it about the character and the series overall that convinced you to take on the role? Peter Shinkoda (PS): It was offered to me by Steven Spielberg, that was the only criteria needed for me to take the role. I was excited about all the elements of the show, the science-fiction, the aliens, the action. So all of it combined was very appealing to me. SY: Dai is often coming to the rescue of Noah Wylie’s character, Tom. What’s it like working with Noah, who made a name for himself on ‘ER,’ on the set? PS: It’s an utter pleasure. I’ve worked quite a bit in the last decade-and-a-half, and never have I run into somebody, and worked hand-in-hand with somebody so frequently, whose company I have enjoyed as much as him. He’s a very decent fellow, and kind, so it’s easy to get along with him. Noah’s also amazing to watch at his craft. After all those years on ‘ER,’ he’s very honed into his talent. Just by being in his vicinity, watching him be social, conducting himself on set and performing, the possibilities are endless. I completely enjoyed being around him, on- and-off set. SY: Like you mentioned, Steven Spielberg offered you the role of Dai. Do he and Noah offer you any acting and career advice overall? PS: Maybe not so much acting advice. Steven came in maybe only a couple of times on set. I was fortunate enough to be one of the actors he directed for a couple hours. That was a fantasy come true. To tell you the truth, I was probably in shock, so I can’t recall everything. But growing up, I just idolized the man. He started giving me directions on set, like what kind of expressions (to do), or what I may be feeling as the character. I don’t think there was a presence or gift more fulfilling than that. As far as Noah Wylie, like I said, all you have to do is watch that man. I would like to try to emulate him, in acting and as the gentleman he is. To continue reading this interview, please click here.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Interview: Jason Yee Talks The Girl from the Naked Eye

Fans of the action films are often attracted to the genre for the extensive number of fights and stunts included in the narrative. But the new action romance thriller ‘The Girl from the Naked Eye’ takes a risky, but unique, chance by mixing a love story between the main characters with a stimulating vengeance tale after they’re separated by murder. ‘The Girl from the Naked Eye,’ which was directed by David Ren, follows Jake (played by Jason Yee), an ex-gambler who is trying to pay off a debt by working as a driver for The Naked Eye. The private gentleman’s club fronts for a prostitution ring, and Jake is stuck in his existence there. However, his life changes when he meets Sandy (portrayed by Samantha Streets), an innocent misguided runaway, and the two form an unlikely bond and give each other the will to strive for a better life. However, when Sandy is murdered, Jake vows to stop at nothing to find her killer. He risks everything in order to uncover the truth. Jake must survive as he uncovers lies, clues and his own feelings about Sandy. Yee generously took the time to speak with us over the phone about the action romance thriller, which hits select theaters tomorrow. He discussed, among other things, how he separated his duties as an actor, co-writer, producer and the second unit director; his working relationship with Ren, one of his co-scribes on the script; and why he looks up to Clint Eastwood as an actor and director. ShockYa (SY): Besides co-writing the film, you also portray Jake in ‘The Girl from the Naked Eye.’ What convinced you to take on the role after you wrote the script? Jason Yee (JY): Well, we developed the script from scratch. I was looking for a character that was conflicted and for a script that had a singular character that was carrying the story that had a lot of action. We found a script that was different than what it is now, and we developed it from scratch. SY: The director of the film, David Ren, also co-wrote the script with you. What was it like working with him, both as co-screenwriters and in a director-actor relationship? JY: Sometimes it was a director-actor-producer relationship. So at times, as the producer, I had to watch out for things we wanted to do creatively, my business partner and I. We also had to watch out for budget and time constraints, etc. So sometimes there were conflicts, and sometimes we were on the same page. So we were working with multiple people to make things happen. SY: Like you said, besides acting in, and writing, the film, you also served as a producer. When you were on the set, did you try to separate your acting from your producing duties? JY: When it came time to shooting, I tried to separate myself. But that always becomes really hard when it’s a low-budget production, because there are always constraints, having to do with time and finances. Sometimes that can take over, so that can make it really tough. To continue reading this interview, please click here.

Your Sister’s Sister Movie Review

'Your Sister’s Sister' Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello Director: Lynn Shelton (‘Humpday,’ ‘We Go Way Back’) Starring: Mark Duplass (‘Humpday,’ ‘Darling Companion’) Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt (‘Rachel Getting Married,’ TV’s ‘Mad Men’) While summer blockbusters heavily rely on visually stunning special effects and stunts to draw in viewers, one of the most intriguing, thought-provoking movies this season is the independent film ‘Your Sister’s Sister.’ Reuniting screenwriter and director Lynn Shelton with her ‘Humpday‘ star Mark Duplass, ‘Your Sister’s Sister’ expertly and courageously explores what happens when people realize their self-perception isn’t really in line where they truly are in life. The dramedy, which hits select theaters tomorrow, also interestingly explores sibling relationships, and the lengths people go to in order to save their bonds with their family. ‘Your Sister’s Sister’ follows emotionally unstable slacker Jack (played by Duplass) on the one-year anniversary of his brother Tom’s death. Jack continues to struggle with his brother’s passing at a memorial party held by Tom’s friends, at which he makes a scene. Tom’s ex-girlfriend Iris (portrayed by Emily Blunt) offers Jack her family cabin on an island in the Pacific Northwest, so that he can seek peace in solitude. Once he arrives, however, he meets Iris’ sister Hannah (played by Rosemarie DeWitt), who is unexpectedly staying at the cabin. Hannah, a lesbian, is also seeking catharsis at the cabin after the abrupt ending of her seven-year relationship with her girlfriend. Hannah finds solace in Tom’s surprise presence, and the two bond over a long night of drinking. The evening ends in an awkward sexual encounter, which is only made even more uncomfortable when Iris spontaneously shows up at the cabin. The two debate whether they should tell Iris about their night, as Iris tells her sister she has developed romantic feelings for Jack. Shelton once again created a realistic film that allows the characters to fully examine themselves with ‘My Sister’s Sister.’ Jack, Iris and Hannah amusingly showcase how people react when they realize their lives aren’t necessarily going as planned. Their self-perceptions dramatically change when they examine their sibling relationships aren’t as strong as they want them to be, and they essentially drift apart because of their faults. While Jack, Iris and Hannah are contending with the serious issue that their relationships are strained because of their own actions, the humor naturally arises from the context of their interactions. Shelton smartly didn’t include set jokes in the script, which effectively allowed Duplass, Blunt and Dewitt to naturally bond and create jokes out of their own life and on-set experiences. To continue readings this review, please click here.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Interview; Dominique Swain Talks The Girl from the Naked Eye

Interview; Dominique Swain Talks The Girl from the Naked Eye, Written by: Karen Benardllo Some people will do whatever it takes to avenge the wrongs that have been committed against their loved ones, even if it means putting their own life in danger. This is certainly the case with the main character, Jake, in the upcoming action romance thriller ‘The Girl from the Naked Eye,’ which is scheduled to hit select theaters on Friday. While Jake’s determination to seek revenge for the death of his true love, he further enters an underground world of prostitution that threatens his own well-being. ‘The Girl from the Naked Eye,’ which was directed by David Ren, follows Jake (Jason Yee), an ex-gambler who is trying to pay off a debt by working as a driver for The Naked Eye. The private gentleman’s club fronts for a prostitution ring, and Jake is stuck in his existence there. However, his life changes when he meets Sandy (Samantha Streets), an innocent misguided runaway, and the two form an unlikely bond and give each other the will to strive for a better life. However, when Sandy is murdered, Jake vows to stop at nothing to find her killer. He risks everything in order to uncover the truth. Jake must survive as he uncovers lies, clues and his own feelings about Sandy. Actress Dominique Swain, who played Alissa in ‘The Girl from the Naked Eye,’ generously took the time to speak with us over the phone about the film. She discussed, among other things, what attracted her to the role, what kind of restrictions the limited budget had on filming and her working relationships with Yee and Ren. ShockYa (SY): You play Alissa in ‘The Girl from the Naked Eye.’ What was it about the character and the script that convinced you to take on the role? Dominique Swain (DS): Well, I’m sort of a wholesome addition in a film that’s rated R for violence, nudity and language, and is very graphic (laughs). So I’m the little breath of fresh air, which is difficult when you’re playing a prostitute who’s falling on hard times. (laughs) But script was actually very, very different than how the film turned out. Some of the story-lines didn’t really make it into the final edit. SY: Were there any story-lines that didn’t make it that would have benefited the film, or do you feel the final cut portrayed the story accurately? DS: I thought the final cut was very strong. I think they found out in editing what the film was really about. Ultimately, it’s a love story. I was supposed to have a death scene in it, but I didn’t. (laughs) So that was kind of interesting. But mainly I play a girl who helps the main character, Jake, figure out the mystery with my basic knowledge of detective work. SY: Like you said, the film is a romance story, but the movie also features several fight scenes and action. So do you feel that the movie balances the romance and the action together? DS: I think it’s a perfect balance of romance and action. It’s a vigilante, revenge story. The character of Jake is an anti-hero who’s avenging the death of his true love. It plays through the dark underworld, and the fight sequences are very impressive. They go on for a long time without any editing. For one of the scenes, and I won’t ruin it for anyone who hasn’t seen the film, the scene where he fights three cops in the hallway, it goes on for minutes. (laughs) They’re beating each other with night sticks. It’s like, I don’t want to fight that guy. SY: The film had a limited budget of a little over $1 million. Did that place any kind of limitations on what you could shoot, particularly in the fight sequences? DS: You know, it came out looking beautiful. I wasn’t involved in the action sequences, I only got to watch. But it seemed sometimes, there wasn’t enough time to turn the camera around, or to get some of the shots that they thought they needed. But it played very stylistically, instead. But there was a lot of focus on the lead character, instead of who he was talking to. But I think, just upon watching the film, they did an excellent job. The look of the movie is very comic book and graphic novel, very surreal. It’s really fabulously done. SY: Like you said, the film has a graphic novel feel, which has been popular in recent years. Why do you think people like that genre? DS: I think people are drawn to adventuring in that world. When you go into this surreal filming style, and with the fighting, you’re asking people to enter that world. You’re demanding a very exciting ride, because graphic novels are graphic. (laughs) There’s nudity and violence in a very elementary kind of storytelling. This is ultimately a love story, and it’s a very appealing world, where good and evil are obvious. SY: Were there any films based on graphic novels or comics that you enjoyed that inspired you to take on the role in ‘The Girl from the Naked Eye?’ DS: I thought that ‘Sin City’ was great. There’s a comic book that I’m actually looking at right now, it’s called ‘Unholy.’ I’m hoping that they make that into a film. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. To continue reading this interview, please click here.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Peace, Love & Misunderstanding Movie Review

'Peace, Love & Misunderstanding' Shockya Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello Director: Bruce Beresford (‘Driving Miss Daisy,’ ‘Mao’s Last Dancer’) Starring: Jane Fonda, Catherine Keener (‘Capote,’ ‘The 40 Year Old Virgin’), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (‘Watchmen,’ TV’s ‘Grey’s Anatomy’), Elizabeth Olsen (‘Martha Marcy May Marlene,’ ‘Silent House’), Chace Crawford (TV’s ‘Gossip Girl,’ ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’) and Nat Wolff (TV’s ‘The Naked Brothers Band,’ ‘New Year’s Eve’) Often times families that include parents and children who are strong-willed in their ideas and beliefs are often reluctant, and find it difficult, to connect with each other. This is the main driving force in the new dramedy ‘Peace, Love & Misunderstanding,’ which features several generations who are long set in their beliefs, but try to reconnect through both comical and serious means. While the actors in the film genuinely connected, the story unfortunately features numerous clichés and predictable plot points of a family putting aside their differences to reunite. ‘Peace, Love & Misunderstanding’ follows uptight Manhattan lawyer Diane (Catherine Keener), who decides to visit her hippie mother Grace (Jane Fonda) in Woodstock for the first time in 20 years, after her husband Mark (Kyle MacLachlan) asks for a divorce. Diane brings her two teenage children, Jake (Nat Wolff) and Zoe (Elizabeth Olsen), who have never met their grandmother before. What’s meant to be a weekend getaway turns into a summer adventure of romance, music, family secrets and self-discovery, as Diane and the kids learn to adapt to Grace’s hippie lifestyle. Along the way, the family finds love in Woodstock-Diane with carpenter-songwriter Jude (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), whose impulsive ways contradict Diane’s demeanor; Jake connects with local teen Tara (Marissa O’Donnelll) as he shoots a movie and Zoe falls for butcher Cole (Chace Crawford), even though his job goes against her vegetarian beliefs. Fonda, who made her return to feature film acting in the Bruce Beresford-directed dramedy, after being absent from American cinema since 2007′s ‘Georgia Rule,’ was the true stand-out star in ‘Peace, Love & Misunderstanding.’ Besides acting, Fonda is also partly known for her political activism in the 1960s and her longtime support for feminist causes, and effortlessly brought her beliefs to Grace’s free-loving lifestyle. While Grace does recognize her family’s differing opinions, especially Diane’s conservative views, she’s determined to prove that not all ideas in life have to be taken so seriously. To continue reading this review, please click here.