Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Five Best Films of 2012...So Far

The Five Best Films of 2012...So Far, Written by: Karen Benardello While the official Oscar race hasn't began yet, and some of the most anticipated films of the year, including "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," "Django Unchained" and "The Great Gatsby," are scheduled to be released closer to the holiday season, there are still some notable movies that have been released during the first half of 2012. From independent, lower-budget mumble core films to sci-fi movies about the apocalypse to sports projects and comedies, 2012 has already offered a diverse group of noteworthy Hollywood and foreign entries. The second half of the year will hopefully produce as exciting films as the first half. 5. "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World," Theatrical Release Date: June 22; DVD Release Date Pending "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" is a refreshing, unique look into what happens to people's emotions when they're faced with their impending deaths. While the subject of the Apocalypse has primarily been saturated by the horror genre, the romantic dramedy stands out as it instead features genuine glimpses into people's reactions to natural disaster. Main characters Dodge and Penny truly undergo an emotional transformation as they not only learn the true meaning of life, but also what it means to truly love someone, as they contend with their imminent deaths. Continue reading the rest of th post on Yahoo! Voices.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Step Up Revolution Movie Review

Step Up Revolution Shockya Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello Director: Scott Speer (‘The LXD 2: Secrets of the Ra’) Starring: Ryan Guzman, Kathryn McCormick (TV’s So You Think You Can Dance,’ ‘Fame’) and Peter Gallagher While some film franchises lose their originality and appeal as they release countless sequels just to make guaranteed money, the dance romance series ‘Step Up’ continuously proves its creativity with each entry. The new third sequel in the franchise, the 3D ‘Step Up Revolution,’ revamped the series with a mostly new cast of characters, played by experienced dancers, who put their talent to good use with impressive solo and group dance sequences. While the movie predictably reiterates the story told in the first three films in the series, the high-energy and well-planned dance routines prove the franchise’s worth. ‘Step Up Revolution’ follows Emily Anderson (played by Kathryn McCormick) as she travels to Miami with her father, Bill (portrayed by Peter Gallagher), the owner of a successful property development company. He’s determined to develop, and build ritzy hotels, in a historic neighborhood that’s home to an increasingly popular dance group, the Mob. Led by Sean (played by Ryan Guzman) and Eddie (portrayed by Misha Gabriel), two waiters at Bill’s Dimont Hotel, the Mob stages flash dances across the city to not only win a YouTube competition, but to also save their neighborhood. Emily, who is determined to become a professional dancer, despite her father’s protests, decides to join the Mob to help them with their cause. She risks her relationship with her father as she becomes closer to Sean and tries to stop the development project. Emily, Sean and the rest of the Mob risk their dreams as they turn their performance art into protest art, in order to fight for the greater cause. ‘Step Up Revolution’ welcomingly differentiated itself from its three predecessors in the hit dance romance series by continuously featuring both high-energy flash mob numbers and sensual duets. Through the contemporary dance routines created by four seasoned choreographers, including franchise veteran Jamal Sims, ‘So You Think You Can Dance’s Travis Wall, LXD’s Chris Scott and ‘Stomp the Yard’s Chuck Maldonado, new franchise director Scott Speer was able to implement originality, suspense and creativity into the series. Whether the mob dancers were camouflaged into paintings or part of a 65-person routine in an office complex, or Emily and Sean were privately practicing stimulating routines, the third sequel featured original, impressive dances. Continue reading this review on Shockya.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Interview: Katie Barberi Talks Corazon Valiente and Grachi

Interview: Katie Barberi Talks Corazon Valiente and Grachi, Written by: Karen Benardello Sometimes even the hardest-working actresses who have appeared in Hollywood films and television shows since they were children don't always get the name recognition they deserve. This is certainly true with Mexican actress and singer Katie Barberi, who, after being born in the remote town of Saltillo, Coahuila, began her career in stage productions when she was nine-years-old in Nevada. After relocating to Los Angeles as a teen, she quickly proved her talent in numerous American television shows and movies, before making the transition to Latin series. Barberi generously took the time to speak with us over the phone recently about her two current television projects, Telemundo's telanovela, "Corazon Valiente​," and the Nickelodeon Latin American series, "Grachi". The television actress discussed with us, among other things, what attracted her to her roles of Perla Navarro in the record-breaking telanovela and Ursula in the Nicelodeon family show; why she decided to make the transition to telanovelas after starting her career in Hollywood from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s; and why living in several American and Mexican cities before she was 10-years-old helped her in her career. Question (Q): You portray Perla Navarro in Telemundo's telanovela "Corazon Valiente." What was it about the script and the character that convinced you to take on the role? Katie Barberi (KB): You know, I had never worked with this writer before. This was an Argentina writer. I've also done six projects now for Telemundo. It was interesting to me, and a special performance. Every work I've done with Telemundo has been very, very good for me and my career. I love working with them. Telemundo has something very much in their favor, and that is, they take risks. They work with scripts that are originally from European writers and South American writers, and sometimes even Asian writers, which one might think is odd for a telanovela. But the concept of the genre of soap operas and love and affection and pain are universal. Telemundo takes risks, and I've always really appreciated that about their work. I loved the script, and they asked me to do it. I have yet to turn down a project with Telemundo. I think they're an amazing company that does innovative things for the Latin market. I appreciate the projects that they've given me. Q: "Corazon Valiente" is the first 9PM telanovela since 2006 to pass the one million mark in premiere week among adults 18-49. What was the feeling like, knowing that so many people are watching the show? KB: Up until now, I've done 17 telanovelas for the Latin market. If everyone had the recipe for success, they would all be a tremendous success. But we don't. When you do a project, the writers, the directors and the actors all hope for the best, obviously. It's always a shock, in a very good way, when that many people get behind your project. It was very exciting. I'm doing another project for Nickelodeon Latin America, called "Grachi", which is a tremendous success. It's very exciting as well, because it's for children and pre-teens and teenagers. It's exciting to be liked and to have your work appreciated by so many people. It's a thrill. To continue reading this interview, please click here.

Age of the Dragons DVD Review

Age of the Dragons Examiner DVD Review, Written by: Karen Benardello Stunning visual effects, impressive sets and costumes and excitingly choreographed fight sequences are all important aspects of any successful action thriller. Not only do films in the genre have to visually impress audiences, they must also showcase genuine character portrayals and believable relationships between the actors in order to truly succeed. The new action thriller ‘Age of the Dragons,’ which is now available to rent at select Long Island Red Box locations, unfortunately forgot to include any inspiring visual effects. The success of the films was ultimately left on the believability of the relationship between two of the main characters. ‘Age of the Dragons’ follows Captain Ahab (played by Danny Glover) and his crew as they hunt dragons for the vitriol that powers the medieval realm they live in. Ahab’s adopted daughter Rachel (portrayed by Sofia Pernas) runs his hunting vessel, which he obsessively steers to find the great White Dragon. Ahab is determined to once again battle the dragon that slaughtered his family when he was young and left his body scarred. Watch the official trailer for the new action thriller Age of the Dragon, which is now available on DVD. Video: Age of the Dragons trailer Rachel recruits Ishmael (played by Corey Sevier), a charismatic harpooner, and his friend Queenqueg (portrayed by John Kepa Kruse), to join the crew on Ahab’s ship to hunt dragons and search for the White Dragon. Once in the dragon’s lair, Ahab’s secrets are revealed. Rachel must choose between continuing with her adopted father on his quest or escape to start a new life with Ishmael. With a reported limited budget of $5 million, Ryan Little, the director of ‘Age of the Dragons,’ didn’t have much money to incorporate any stunning visual elements into the film. Even with his directing experience in the action and thriller genres, Little unfortunately neglected to find a way to put the budget he did have to good use. The lack of budget and creativity is evident in Little’s failure to create authentic and impressive sets, costumes, special effects or action sequences for the medieval world Ahab, Ishmael and their colleagues live in. To continue reading this review, please click here.

Jock the Hero Dog Movie Review

Jock the Hero Dog Examiner Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello Overcoming diversity and accepting one’s own differences is one of the most important lessons that children, as well as adults, need to learn how to do. The new animated family comedy ‘Jock the Hero Dog’ successfully uses a small, but loveable and strong-willed dog, to prove that accepting everyone’s differences is one important thing that everyone needs to learn to do. The film, which is now available for Long Islanders to buy at Walmart, uses realistic, vibrant animation and memorable musical numbers to help showcase this important message. ‘Jock the Hero Dog’ follows the title character (Bryan Adams) as he accompanies his master Fitz (Donald Sutherland narrating the film and Theo Landey in the movie’s narrative) to search for gold throughout South East Africa. With encouragement from his mother, Jess (Helen Hunt) Jock grows from being the runt of his litter to the most famous dog in Africa. Jess tells Jock not to try to understand human ways, as they’re different from dog values, but to instead support Fitz as much as he can during their journey. Watch the official trailer for the new animated family comedy Jock the Hero Dog, which is now available on DVD. Video: Jock the Hero Dog Trailer Jock first encounters human civilization at Crooks Corner, which is run by the evil Seedling (Rob Hobbs0 and his powerful pet baboon, George (Anthony Bishop). Influenced by Seedling’s corrupt ways and greed, no one stands in George’s way. Jock finds the courage to stand up to George, in order to prove that every animal is equal. Filmmaker Duncan MacKeillie, who served on many aspects of ‘Jock the Hero Dog,’ including directing, writing, producing and as the camera and layout artist, created visually stunning animation for the family adventure comedy. Jock, Jess and their fellow animals move realistically and look convincingly genuine throughout the course of the film. Whether Jock is running and hiding from larger predators in the wild, arguing with George in crooks Corner or sitting and talking to his mother, he perfectly captures the actual movements of dogs. To continue reading this review, please click here.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Interview: Jacob Hopkins Talks True Blood

Interview: Jacob Hopkins Talks True Blood, Written by: Karen Benardello Sometimes the family business is embedded in people’s blood. That’s certainly the case with up-and-coming actor Jacob Hopkins, who was discovered at the age of five while accompanying his father, who’s also an actor, to a meeting with his agent. The 10-year-old actor is currently showcasing his talent in his breakthrough role on the fifth season of HBO’s acclaimed fantasy horror drama series ‘True Blood.’ In a recurring arc, Hopkins plays Alexander Drew, the youngest (looking) member of the Vampire authority, who was turned at the age of nine. Hopkins, who made his debut on the June 17th episode of ‘True Blood,’ ‘Authority Always Wins,’ generously took the time to speak with us recently over the phone. Among other things, Hopkins spoke about why he wanted to portray Alexander; what it was like working with his co-stars, including reuniting with his ‘Priest’ co-star, Stephen Moyer, and another also recently cast Vampire Authority member, Christopher Meloni; and how he prepared for the role of the impulsive vampire. ShockYa (SY): You play Alexander Drew, a member of the Vampire Authority, on this season of ‘True Blood.’ Why did you want to play Alexander on the show? Jacob Hopkins (JH): I really like characters like Gollum from ‘The Lord of the Rings’ or Jekyll and Hyde. These guys really fascinate me, and that’s how Alexander is. He’s sort of like that too-he has that dual personality. He’s supposed to be really tough and shy. Also, he’s supposed to be creepy. I can really act like that. SY: How did you get ready for the role of Alexander before you began shooting? JH: Well, my dad helped me prepare for the role. I had the ideas of what he was supposed to be like. He was supposed to be a creepy, sarcastic, wise vampire. He’s not really scared of anything, he’s really calm. He doesn’t really talk a lot, and he knows you better than you think he does. So when I got on set, I was thinking I was more important than anyone in that world, and anyone in the Authority. He’s supposed to be this tough vampire. To continue reading this interview, please click here.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Interview: Padraig Reynolds Talks Rites of Spring

Interview: Padraig Reynolds Talks Rites of Spring, Written by: Karen Benardello Sometimes the most horrifying experiences in life are just the beginning for a surprising, even more heinous event that no one can ever prepare for. That’s certainly the case for both the victims and the kidnappers in the new horror-thriller ‘Rites of Spring,’ which hits select theaters and IFC Midnight Cable VOD and Digital Outlets, including SundanceNOW, iTunes, Amazon Streaming, XBOX Zune and Playstation Unlimited, on Friday. While people may believe they have their lives planned out, the film proves that one unpredictable event can change lives forever. ‘Rites of Spring’ follows a group of kidnappers who abduct the daughter of a wealthy socialite and hide in an abandoned school in the middle of the woods. As several of the kidnappers begin to feel guilty over their decision, the group begins to divide, which puts the plan in jeopardy. The evening further unravels when a mysterious creature that requires springtime ritualistic sacrifices appears, making the school its hunting ground. The scribe and helmer of the horror-thriller, Padraig Reynolds, who is making his feature film directorial debut with the movie, generously took the time recently to speak to us over the phone. Among other things, he discussed where he came up with the idea for the story, the difficulties of having a short shooting schedule on a limited budget and what the casting process for the main cast was like. ShockYa (SY): You both wrote the screenplay for, and directed, ‘Rites of Spring.’ What was your inspiration while you were writing, and where did you come up with the idea for, the script? Padraig Reynolds (PR): I wrote ‘Rites of Spring’ and its sequel back-to-back when I moved to Los Angeles in about 2002. Friends of mine wanted to do two horror movies back-to-back, and approached me about writing and directing. Those two movies fell through, and didn’t happen. I kept plugging away, and kept sending scripts out. In 2007, I met Eric Thompson, who was working at Maverick Red at the time. He fell in love with ‘Rites of Spring,’ and brought it to some investors in Mississippi. They liked it as well. Our plan was to do two movies back-to-back last year. But when we were doing it, they asked if we could only do one. I said yeah, let’s do one, so we did one. I think the influences for ‘Rites of Spring’ are a Don Siegel movie I loved from the ’70s, called ‘The Black Windmill.’ There’s also a Piers Haggard movie from ’81, called ‘Venom.’ It’s about a snake that gets inside a house when kidnappers are there. SY: Speaking of kidnappers, ‘Rites of Spring’ follows a group of kidnappers abduct the daughter of a wealthy socialite. What kind of research did you do while you were writing the script, in order to tell the story? PR: When I sit down and write a story, I always look at locations a lot. the locations will dictate how I write a story. I had the creature’s back-story, and I had the farmer’s back-story already written. So they sort of fell into place. As for the kidnappers, I heard of a story recently that a guy got fired from his job, after like 10 years. He went to his boss’s house and tried to kidnap his kid. I think I read that in the newspaper. I thought that was an interesting idea, especially in today’s economy. Somebody could work at a company for so long and could get fired for somebody else’s fault. I wondered what kind of emotions that could bring. The guy basically said he was going to kidnap his boss’s kid and extort money out of him, because he took away his life. To continue reading this interview, please click here.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Interview: Scott Leberecht Talks Midnight Son

Interview: Scott Leberecht Talks Midnight Son, Written by: Karen Benardello People often wish to seek solace and comfort in others around them, particularly in times of distress and need. But when they fail to make these connections, even during circumstances they can’t control, their will to live quickly declines. That’s certainly the case with the main character, Jacob, in the new horror-drama ‘Midnight Son,’ which is now available on DVD. ‘Midnight Son’ follows Jacob (played by Zak Kilberg), a young man with a rare skin disorder that forces him to avoid exposure to the sun. His mental and physical health begin to deteriorate as his symptoms worsen, which leads him to drink human blood. Jacob falls in love with Mary (portrayed by Maya Parish), who is just as damaged as he is. But his hope worsens even further when local police begin to suspect he’s involved with a series of grisly murders. The horror-drama’s scribe and helmer, Scott Leberecht, who made his feature film feature film writing and directing debut with ‘Midnight Son,’ generously took the time recently to speak with us over the phone about the movie. Among other things, he spoke about where he came up with the inspiration for the script, the casting process for Kilberg and Parish and how working as the visual effects art director on several films helped in the transition to becoming a screenwriter and director. ShockYa (SY): ‘Midnight Son’ is your feature film directorial debut, after helming such short films as ‘Under Dog’ and ‘Natural Selection.’ What was the transition process like, going from short films to feature films? Scott Leberecht (SL): Well, I would say that mainly it’s about stamina, and the ability to keep the concentration and energy for 28 days, rather than four or five. With the short films, it isn’t very long. With a feature, it’s very intense and long. I would say stamina, for one thing. The other thing is, keeping the story in my head the whole time. It was a little more difficult to remember that what we’re shooting today is going to be the result of a seed that was maybe planted in an earlier scene, that we’re not shooting for another 10 days. So having a bigger story was a challenge that I hadn’t experienced before. I had to explain to everybody why we were doing things the way we were doing them, and keeping them in my head. SY: Like you said, you were used to only having four or five days to shoot your short films, as opposed to having the 28-day period for ‘Midnight Son.’ Did having only a month provide you with enough time to shoot everything you wanted to include in the movie? SL: Yeah, absolutely. We did end up shooting a little bit over that 28 days. We had to have everybody come back a year later, after I had a chance to edit. It was a little nerve-racking, because everybody had lost a lot of weight after the original shoot. A year later, I was saying, let’s all get together again for a week and do some more shots and a little bit more. We got a lot, and I thought we had gotten everything we needed. But once you get into the editing room, you realize there are little bits and pieces that would tell the story better. If you can, you have to go get those. To continue reading this interview, please click here.

Interview: Seychelle Gabriel Talks Fall Skies

Interview: Seychelle Gabriel Talks Fall Skies, Written by: Karen Benardello People often need to find comfort in others when they experience dramatic, life-altering events. That’s certainly the case with pre-med college student Lourdes, played by Seychelle Gabriel, in TNT’s hit sci-fi action thriller ‘Falling Skies.’ Currently airing its second season on TNT on Sunday nights at 9/8c, the series showcases how Lourdes and the other survivors of an alien invasion on Earth cope with losing their families and civilization as they know it. ‘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. Gabriel generously took the time to speak to us about filming ‘Falling Skies.’ Among other things, the actress spoke about what attracted her to the role of Lourdes, what it’s like with co-star Noah Wyle and why she enjoys the sci-fi genre. ShockYa (SY): You’re reprising your role of Lourdes, a young pre-med college student whose education was cut short by the alien invasion, on the current second season of TNT’s ‘Falling Skies.’ What was it about Lourdes, and the show overall, that attracted you to the role? Seychelle Gabriel (SG): I actually really dug one of the audition scenes. Lourdes and little Matt Mason are chatting together doing laundry with some river water, and Lourdes kind of opens up to him about losing her family. I just liked that dynamic between the two of them, both not equipped to fight, but finding each other to talk to. It was definitely a bit motherly for her, but also an unexpected friend. The show brings a lot of those weird or unexpected dynamics out between people, which I like. SY: Since her college education was cut short, Lourdes now helps Anne Glass, played by Moon Bloodgood, as a medic. What is your working relationship with Moon like? SG: It’s pretty awesome. We’re really close, and whether it’s letting steam off or just being there for the other, she’s a friend and actor that I really revere. We do indulge in the occasional after-work-kareoke-sesh. So that’s never bad. SY: Steven Spielberg has executive produced 12 episodes of ‘Falling Skies.’ Did you get to work with him on any episodes, and if so, what was the experience like? SG: No, but that would be sweet though. He’s come to set only a couple times, but we’ve also had a couple instances where we’ve gotten to chat with him and hear him talk about what’s in store for the show and those were great. He’s a really cool guy. To continue reading this interview, please click here.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Interview: India Wadsworth Talks The Dark Knight Rises

Actress-model India Wadsworth Talks About Her Role of The Warlord's Daughter in The Dark Knight Rises. To read the interview on We Got This Covered, please click here.

Interview: Marika Tsircou Talks Beverly Hills Nannies

Interview: Marika Tsircou Talks Beverly Hills Nannies, Written by: Karen Benardello With the success of such popular reality shows as ‘The Real Housewives of…’ and ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians,’ and America’s obsession with the rich and famous, similar series are appearing on television much more frequently. From the producers of ‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ and ‘The Real Housewives of Orange County’ comes the latest similarly-themed show, ABC Family’s ‘Beverly Hills Nannies.’ ‘Beverly Hills Nannies,’ which airs on Wednesday nights at 9pm/8pm PT, follows the unconventional lives of nannies and mannies who take care of children in the world’s most famous zip code. The nannies must contend with the demands of the rich and famous families they work for. Beverly Hills native and painter and photographer, Marika Tsircou, who lives with her attorney husband Kyri and their 11-month-old son Xander, is just one of the families to be featured on the show. Tsircou generously took the time to speak with us over the phone recently about filming the ABC Family reality show. Among other things, the painter and photographer discussed why she decided to feature her family on the show, how her series differentiates from ‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ and the close friendships she has formed with her co-stars. ShockYa (SY): Along with your husband, Kyri, and your son, Xander, you are one of the families featured on ABC Family’s new reality series, ‘Beverly Hills Nannies.’ Why did you decide to be a part of the show, and feature your life on television? Marika Tsircou (MT): Well, I did not look for this. The producers knew who I was, and they called me in September. They said, we think you’d be perfect for the show. I said, absolutely not, I have a one-month old baby, and I’m breast-feeding every two hours. I’m exhausted, and I gained 65 pounds. I said, I’m fat and boring and tired, so there’s no way. I kept saying no, and they kept calling me, saying we really think you’d be perfect. So eventually, they convinced me to do the pilot, and we shot it in November. I didn’t think it would even be picked up, and totally forgot about it. Months later, they called me back, and said it got picked up, and we would love for you to do it. In the end, we decided to do it, because we thought this is an opportunity that came to us, and not something we went after. I knew myself and my personality, I would have always wondered what could have or would been, had I not done it. SY: What was the transition process like when you first began shooting the season? How did you and your family adjust to having the cameras following you? MT: The cameras were here two to three days a week, so it wasn’t like they were here every day. I did tell them from the beginning, I have a baby. He’s not a toddler or a child, he’s just a little baby. When we started filming, he was eight-and-a-half months old, and he’s 11-months-old now. So I told them I was never going to leave my baby alone with this nanny, or anybody. So I was here the whole time with him, and I was on the show too, of course. I’m breast-feeding and nursing him every few hours. The crew was really amazing. The producer that was at the house, the field producer was just wonderful. We became friends. You have two cameramen, one sound person and the producer, so that was four people in your home. Plus, of course, the nanny, who was filming with us. It wasn’t that overwhelming. I think had they been in the house five, six days a week, it would have been too much. But they made it very manageable, being here two to three days a week. Since the crew was so wonderful and friendly and nice, I welcomed them into my home as a house guest. They acted just like a house guest. It wasn’t that bad. You eventually get used to the cameras being there. The baby really loved the cameras. (laughs) He would always smile with them and crawl up to them. He was very intrigued by them. To continue reading this interview, please click here.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Queen of Versailles Movie Review

'The Queen of Versailles' Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello Director: Lauren Greenfield (‘Thin,’ ‘Kids + Money’) Starring: David Siegel, Jackie Siegel People are often willing to do whatever it takes in order to achieve their goals and dreams, while also becoming financially successful. But it becomes even more difficult for a person to keep the dream after it has already been realized, and everything they’ve worked so hard for has come tumbling down. This devastating drama unfolds in director Lauren Greenfield’s new documentary, ‘The Queen of Versailles,’ showing that the bigger a fortune and dream a person has, the harder it is to adjust once it’s taken away. ‘The Queen of Versailles’ follows the riches-to-rags Floridan billionaire David Siegel, the founder and owner of the largest privately owned timeshare company in the world, Westgate Resorts. David and his third and current wife, Jackie, are living the exorbitant lifestyle that most Americans can only dream about. The two, who both came from modest upbringings, started building the largest one family home in America before the fall of the economy in 2008. However, their sprawling empire begins to collapse after the real estate and vacation markets begin to decline in the midst of the economic crisis. The Siegel family must put their dream home, which is modeled after the Palace of Versailles in France, on the market as they undergo drastic lifestyle changes. Not only do David and Jackie have to lay off thousands of employees in order to keep their business in operation, they must also find a way to financially support their eight young children. Greenfield, who won the U.S. Directing Award for Documentary Film at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival for ‘The Queen of Versailles,’ masterfully showcased the sociological issues plaguing American society since the fall of the economy four years ago. After meeting Jackie in 2007 while photographing Donatella Versace for Elle Magazine, the director decided to chronicle the Siegel’s lavish lifestyle. Greenfield perfectly portrayed the Siegel family as personifying the rich lifestyle America has become obsessed with in recent years. Greenfield gracefully indulged the carefree lifestyle that many people yearn for, in which they can spend as much money as they want without any real consequences. To continue reading this review, please click here.

The Five Worst Films of 2012...So Far

The Five Worst Films of 2012...So Far, Written by Karen Benardello Modern day film-making has seemed to have lost its creativity, as directors are more heavily relying on novels, comic books, television shows and other source material to inspire stories for their movies. While some recent film sequels, reboots and movies based on books have garnered financial and critical success, including "The Amazing Spider-Man" and "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted," there are quite a few who have failed to live up to their potential this year. With 2012 officially half-way gone, the worst movies of the year have already began stacking up. But there are five films that are already making the record books, and not in a good way; whether it's the lack of original ideas, appalling acting or simply not giving a satisfying ending, these movies aren't being remembered for their high quality. 5. "What to Expect When You're Expecting," Theatrical Release Date: May 18; DVD Release Date: September 11 Despite the popularity of the best-selling novel "What to Expect When You're Expecting," the romantic comedy film unfortunately fails to live up to its literary counterpart. Even with the help of its popular ensemble cast, the movie featured far too many one-dimensional characters and an undeveloped story. While there are several amusing elements, including the father's support group, the lack of true connection between many of the characters and their underdeveloped backstories fail to make the actors' deliveries entertaining. To continue reading this post, please click here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Red Lights Movie Review

Red Lights Shockya Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello Director: Rodrigo Cortes (‘Buried’) Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro, Cillian Murphy (’28 Days Later,’ ‘Batman Begins,’ ‘Inception’) and Elizabeth Olsen (‘Martha Marcy May Marlene,’ ‘Silent House,’ ‘Peace, Love & Misunderstanding’) People are often so set in their ways and are determined to hold onto their beliefs that they refuse to see and accept other people’s views and opinions. Science is one of the main areas where people need concrete proof and evidence in order to believe things. The scientists in the new horror thriller ‘Red Lights,’ which is set to hit select theaters on Friday, are so certain that the supernatural can be discredited that they’re intent on proving renowned blind psychic Simon Silver is a fraud when he decides to come out of retirement. The debate between the scientists and the believers of the paranormal in the film will surely make viewers question what they think they know. ‘Red Lights’ follows veteran paranormal researchers Dr. Margaret Matheson (played by Sigourney Weaver) and Tom Buckley (portrayed by Cillian Murphy) as they debunk fraudulent claims of psychic phenomena. Matheson can detect fraud by what she calls red lights, the subtle tricks behind every staged supernatural occurrence. But when Simon (played by Robert De Niro) comes out of retirement, his once-fearless rival Margaret warns Tom to back off, fearing retaliation from her old adversary. Tom is determined to discredit Simon, and elicits help from his star student, Sally Owen (portrayed by Elizabeth Olsen). The two use every tool at their disposal to uncover the truth behind the charismatic mind reader. But Tom eventually must question his own core beliefs in his quest to discredit Simon. ‘Red Lights’ director Rodrigo Cortes, who also penned the screenplay for the horror thriller, perfectly cast the main characters in the film, particularly Murphy and Weaver. While scripting the movie, the filmmaker rightfully imagined the actors’ expressions and reactions as their respective characters in every scene. This helped develop the characters’ mental and emotional states, and allowed the actors to genuinely embody their respective roles To continue reading this review, please click here.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Interview: Shaun Gerardo Talks Basement Bugs

Shockya Interview: Shaun Gerardo Talks Basement Bugs, Written by: Karen Benardello Some of the most terrifying and original horror movies which still resonate with fans today are entries in the slasher sub-genre from the 1970s and ’80s, which can be seen in the fact that they’re continuously being remade today. While several of these films, such as ‘Halloween’ and ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street,’ have influenced actor and producer Shaun Gerardo in his career, he’s hoping to prove that short films can be just as frightening. His upcoming horror short ‘Basement Bugs,’ which was written and will be directed by Nick Coviello, looks promising to do just that. ‘Basement Bugs’ follows a desperate young man who hears a rumor that his apartment building’s superintendent may have a secret safe locked away in the basement. Taking advantage of a building-wide fumigation, the young man breaks into the private space of the superintendent, only to be consumed by the gnawing terror that awaits him. Gerardo generously took the time to speak with us over the phone recently to talk about the production of ‘Basement Bugs.’ Among other things, the actor and producer also discussed what drew him to his role, what it’s like working with Coviello and why he enjoys the horror genre so much. ShockYa (SY): You’ll be appearing in the upcoming horror short ‘Basement Bugs.’ What details can you provide about your character in the film, and what attracted you to the role? Shaun Gerardo (SG): The role I play in the film is actually Amile. He’s not necessarily a bad person, but he’s a person in a tough situation. I would say he’s a drug addict, but he’s got exposure to them. He just wants to resolve his situation so that he can feel like he doesn’t have desperation. SY: How would you describe the story of the film, and what your character goes through? SG: I think it’s a small high, and then a deep valley. He feels like he has an end to his suffering. He feels like he’s finding what he needs to do to live his life well. He ends up in a terrible situation. He has nobody but himself to try to get out of it. It’s like he foresaw his own doom in the last 15 minutes of the film. To continue reading this interview, please click here.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Pact Movie Review

The Pact Shockya Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello Director: Nicolas McCarthy Starring: Caity Lotz (TV’s ‘Mad Men’), Casper Van Dien (‘Born to Ride,’ TV’s ‘Monk) and Haley Hudson (‘Marley and Me,’ ‘Freaky Friday’) Manipulating imagery and using psychological antics to motive characters are some of the most frightening elements in the horror genre. Scribe and helmer Nicholas McCarthy, who made his feature film writing and directing debut with the new IFC Films horror mystery thriller ‘The Pact,’ successfully used those elements in his first movie. Instead of just focusing on psychical scares, the filmmaker also effectively implemented emotions and relationships to drive the plot forward. ‘The Pact’ follows the independent and strong-willed Annie (played by Caity Lotz) as she feels pressured to attend her mother’s funeral. Her sister, Nicole (portrayed by Agnes Bruckner), doesn’t feel the same sentiment towards their mother as Annie does, after the turbulent childhood they had living with her. After her continued insisting that Nicole also return to their childhood home to pay her final respects, Annie becomes worried when her sister fails to show up. While trying to reach Nicole and stay in contact with her own daughter, who she left at home, Annie discovers that something’s wrong in her mother’s home. She begins to experience strange and mysterious happenings in her mother’s house, including the disappearance of her cousin, after she came to visit. Annie seeks the help of a local police officer, Creek (played by Casper Van Dien), and a former classmate, Stevie (portrayed by Haley Hudson), who can see and communicate with spirits, in order to find out what’s really happening in her mother’s house. After being featured in recurring roles on such shows as ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Death Valley,’ Lotz was well-cast to portray the lead character in ‘The Pact,’ her theatrical feature film debut. The actress convincingly played Annie as being logical, but also domineering and always in control, when she first arrived at her mother’s house. Lotz also played Annie as though she truly wanted her sister to join her at their mother’s funeral so that they can both have closure in their relationships with her. But once Annie starts experiencing unexplained, supernatural phenomenon, and begins uncovering the dark secrets her mother kept hidden, her mental and emotional states naturally begin deteriorating. Annie truly becomes tormented by the revelations of her mother’s actions, which are accelerated by Creek’s initial questioning and doubt of her claims. Creek’s suspicions of Annie’s assertions that she’s experiencing supernatural happenings keeps the story partially connected to reality, as many people have doubts about apparitions. To continue reading this review, please click here.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Madea’s Witness Protection Movie Review

Madea’s Witness Protection Shockya Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello Director: Tyler Perry Starring: Perry, Eugene Levy, Denise Richards, Doris Roberts, Danielle Campbell (‘Prom’), Devan Leos (‘L!fe Happens,’ TV’s ‘The Middle’), Romeo Miller (L’il Romeo), John Amos (TV’s ‘The West Wing’) and Tom Arnold People often times become so focused on financially succeeding in life that they often times forget their families, and that they also need close, personal relationships to make their lives worthwhile. This important message is comedically brought to the attention of not only the characters, but the audience as well, in the new Tyler Perry film ‘Madea’s Witness Protection.’ The outspoken, highly opinionated but beloved title character isn’t afraid to let her thoughts about family bonding known, even to a rich, white, suburban Connecticut family, whose differing views she’s never come into contact with before. ‘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). She’s come to her limit caring for his senile mother, Barbara (Doris Roberts), who has openly stated her dislike for her. George and Kate 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 his father was home more often. But that pales in comparison when George gets the shock of his life at work; 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, also decides to help in the case, after losing the money intended to pay off the church’s mortgage in an investment with Lockwise Industries. While ‘Madea’s Witness Protection’ marks Perry’s sixth film to feature the title character in either a starring or supporting role, she still serves as both the comic relief and as the wise, inspirational matriarch. The filmmaker made a wise decision, however, to introduce a wealthy white family from the suburbs of Connecticut into Madea’s life in Atlanta. Madea comedically and fearlessly infuses her own brand of tough love into the Needlemans’ dysfunctional relationships, while also teaching them the importance of appreciating your family. She doesn’t hold back just because the Needlemans are a Jewish white family placed in a black neighborhood; she overcomes their racial differences to effectively help them overcome their problems. ‘Madea’s Witness Protection’ rightfully balances the emotional challenges the Needlemans are going through after George learns of the Ponzi scheme with Madea learning to adjust to their completely different outlook on life. The exploration of the Needlemans’ relationships helps them realize what’s truly important in life; they don’t need to be greedy or have extensive amounts of money, as long as they can save their family and spend more time together. Even though the Needlemans come from a different class and are a different race than Madea, they all also learn from her to be more respectful and appreciative of each other. To continue reading this review, please click here.

Interview: Rodrigo Cortes Talks Red Lights

Interview: Rodrigo Cortes Talks Red Lights, Written by: Karen Benardello Sometimes people become so set in their ways and ideas, they fear the unknown and the contrasting beliefs that other people offer to present to them. But when these thoughts lead to obsession and turn into rivalries that become life-threatening, they must reconsider what they’re taking a stance on in order to protect themselves. This is a main motivating factor in the upcoming horror thriller ‘Red Lights,’ which is set to hit select theaters on July 13. Spanish writer-director Rodrigo Cortes wasn’t afraid to explore the supernatural and its dark, powerful effects on people’s beliefs in his new drama. ‘Red Lights’ follows veteran paranormal researchers Dr. Margaret Matheson (played by Sigourney Weaver) and Tom Buckley (portrayed by Cillian Murphy) as they debunk fraudulent claims of psychic phenomena. Matheson can detect fraud by what she calls red lights, the subtle tricks behind every staged supernatural occurrence. But when legendary blind psychic Simon Silver (played by Robert De Niro) comes out of retirement, his once-fearless rival Margaret warns Tom to back off, fearing retaliation from her old adversary. Tom is determined to discredit Simon, and elicits help from his star student, Sally Owen (portrayed by Elizabeth Olsen). The two use every tool at their disposal to uncover the truth behind the charismatic mind reader. But Tom eventually must question his own core beliefs in his quest to discredit Simon. Cortes generously took the time to speak with us over the phone recently to discuss the process of writing and directing ‘Red Lights.’ Among other things, the scribe and helmer discussed where he came up with the idea for the horror thriller, the casting process of the main actors and how penning the screenplay helped him in his directorial duties. ShockYa (SY): You both wrote the screenplay for, and directed, ‘Red Lights.’ Where did you come up with the idea for the story? Rodrigo Cortes (RC): I didn’t start working from any specific element, or anything like that. I started to become fascinated with paranormal hoaxes. In a way, this was a concept that was contradictory. You have the paranormal, which can not be explained, and you have the hoaxes, in which people are lying, in which we probably do best. I worked on two levels, with this truth and hopefully compelling story, and also with the hoaxes. I wanted to do something that was physical and tangible. This is the origin of everything. SY: Do you feel that writing the script for ‘Red Lights’ helped you in your directorial duties once you began shooting the film? RC: Yes. You feel like you’re the first director in line when you write your own material. When you’re able to generate your own material, you’re the first in line. To me, writing, directing and editing are all different phases of one creative or narrative process. In a way, I never write in abstract terms. I imagine the film in its final form and shape. When I write, I start imagining the reactions, and even the music and the sounds. In a way, they’re three stages. But in a way, when you direct, you just try to serve the script. You don’t care who wrote it. SY: There are several high-profile actors in ‘Red Lights,’ including Robert De Niro and Sigourney Weaver. What was the casting process like for the main actors? RC: When you read the script, you don’t take for granted you’re going to have these names. When you finish it, you try to get the best and most accurate actors. But in this case, I had two processes. For instance, I never write for anybody. But in this case, for whatever reason, when I was writing Matheson, I found myself writing for Sigourney Weaver. I imagined this character with her face and reactions and expressions. That’s risky, because it doesn’t guarantee a yes. It would have been a problem if she said no. Thank God she said yes. With De Niro, that’s exactly the same thing. I try not to limit myself, not because I think everything’s possible, but because life tends to limit you enough without any help. If you do a list of factors, for instance, from one to 10, logic tells you you’re going to get seven or eight. But you still ascend to number one, just in case. For this film, for some reason, every number one on every list yes, which is pretty amazing. But this is the way it happened. They told me they responded very strongly to the script and the characters and their lines. To continue reading this interview, please click here.