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Interview: Alex Wolff talks “Pig”

PIG is the sleeper hit that has stayed with me since viewing earlier this year. The film follows a truffle hunter (Nicolas Cage) who lives alone in the Oregonian wilderness, but must return to Portland in search of his beloved, stolen, truffle pig.

The film also stars Alex Wolff, who plays opposite Cage as rich kid Amir. It’s a role Wolff values for many reasons, including his admiration for Cage. “Nick is on a very small list of what I believe is the greatest artist. Nic is a like a magician in making you feel like you’re an equal. Making you feel like you’re in this together. So I think initially it was like wow like this the Nicolas Cage. The person I modeled my career after. But it’s just Nic now, we developed a deep, profound, long lasting, friendship that has been one of the most rewarding of my life,” Wolff explains. He proceed to say that Cage is a person he really clicked with and they filmed this project during a time when they both needed each other.

In the film, Nicolas Cage’s character, Rob, is a former, world-renowned chef who remembers every meal he ever cooked. And when I asked Alex, what’s the most memorable meal he’s ever had, he responded, “Wow do you know I actually haven’t been asked that question, but I feel like if I were a reporter that would be a question I’d ask. A meal that I remember, there’s a few thanksgivings ago my mom made a meal that was really good and I’ll never forget it. That, and then, Thanksgiving about seven years ago in the south with my dad’s family. They made some sweet potatoes with a little bit of marshmallows on top and I’ll never forget it. Thanksgiving is my favorite meal of the year.”

PIG has been raved among critics and audiences, currently rated 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. The film features powerful performances and an unforgettable screenplay. “Every step of the way this movie has shocked me. I just feel like I’m trying to take it in and I never expect this to happen again because it’s just one in a million,” Wolff added.

If you have yet to see PIG, it’s truly a must see. Nicolas Cage is at his best, and the film will leave craving more.

Rating: 4.75/5

PIG is now available On Demand.

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“Love is Love is Love” Interview with Eleanor Coppola

“The latest feature film from award-winning director Eleanor Coppola (Paris Can Wait, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse), LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE tells three stories that explore love, commitment, and loyalty between couples and friends.  In the film’s first story TWO FOR DINNER, a married couple (Joanne Whalley and Chris Messina) find an unconventional way to transcend long distance through technology, but discover they were farther apart than they knew.  In SAILING LESSON, a long-married couple (Kathy Baker and Marshall Bell) tries to reignite their honeymoon-phase heat through a spontaneous sailing trip… and unexpected events arise.  And in LATE LUNCH, a young woman (Maya Kazan) who recently lost her mother gathers together a group of her mother’s friends (including Cybill Shepherd, Rosanna Arquette, and Rita Wilson) to share memories.  Surprising revelations ensue.”

I spoke with director Eleanor Coppola about the film, her inspiration behind the stories, how the movie speaks to underserved audience, and much more.

Blue Fox Entertainment will release LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, November 12 and on VOD Tuesday, December 14.

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“Love is Love is Love” Interview with Eleanor Coppola

“Hard Luck Love Song” Interview w/ Michael Dorman & Sophia Bush

Roadside Attractions’ new film, “Hard Luck Love Song” is based off the song “Just Like Old Times” by Todd Snider. It’s a gritty love story about a troubled musician living out of motels and making bad choices. One night he reconnects with his old flame and the two experience an emotional and unforgettable evening. I spoke with the stars of the film, Michael Dorman and Sophia Bush, to talk about personal discoveries, what puts them at ease when meeting new people, and more.

“Hard Luck Love Song” opens in theaters October 15, 2021.

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Movie Review: “Dear Evan Hansen” Plays a Powerful Song

“Dear Evan Hansen” is the Tony Award winning Broadway musical that’s been adored by millions. But for some reason, the film adaption doesn’t seem to be translating to audiences.

Sadly, I have yet to see this musical on Broadway, but look forward to one day hearing the soundtrack performed live. I am clearly in the minority of my colleagues, but I enjoyed this movie. I went in completely blind. I didn’t know the storyline or a single song beforehand; maybe that’s why it was easy for me to fall for this film.

For those who also might not know anything about this premise, “Dear Evan Hansen” follows Evan (Ben Platt) – a socially awkward High School senior with an absentee father, a loving mom (Julianne Moore) who is constantly working, and not a single friend to sign the cast on his broken arm. In an effort to help with his anxiety, Evan’s therapist suggests he write a letter to himself, encouraging himself throughout the day.

On a random day at school, the brooding at times hostile student, Connor Murphy (Colton Ryan) decides to sign Evan’s cast. The sweet moment is short lived because he finds one of Evan’s letters in where it mentions Connor’s sister, Zoe (Kaitlyn Dever) – Evan’s crush. He angrily pushes Evan, steals the letter, and keeps it in his coat. The next day, Evan is called to the principal’s office where Connor’s parents (Amy Adams and Danny Pino) are waiting for him. Connor has committed suicide. The only note he had on him was Evan’s letter, which they believe Connor wrote for him. The letter paired with his signature on Evan’s cast convinces his parents that this was his one true friend. In that moment, Evan can’t help but go along with the lie. He has good intentions, but the events that follow can be tough to watch.

I’ll admit, when this film gets going and the talented cast is pouring their heart into a heavy conversation about depression, suicide, or internal struggles, it can take you out of the moment when one someone suddenly burst into song. Most of the time you forget this film is a musical until the singing starts again. However, once the music begins, and you’re actually listening to the lyrics, you’re pulled back in by the powerful message the songs have to tell. And I guess there’s backlash for Platt playing the role of a high schooler at age 27, but I’m not sure why? Adults have played High School teens for years in film and television. Platt looks the age and embodies the high anxiety, awkward character, not to mention, his voice is incredible. It’s a true gift for fans of the Broadway show to see Platt reprise this role.

The majority of the high-profile cast do a wonderful job. But praise should be given to Kaitlyn Dever who plays the role of Zoe so effortlessly. She excels in her delivery and emotion as a sister who struggles to grieve the brother that was so cruel to her.

The runtime of 2 hours and 17 minutes is a bit long, but I’m not sure what to cut out. Every scene felt vital to the story. It’s understanding not everyone will be able to bare the length of this somber tale, but the film does end on an uplifting note.

“Dear Evan Hansen” may not be a smooth track, but it provides a compelling message that is still relevant to teens today: be kind and make efforts to those kids in school who are closed off and have difficulty building relationships. I remember those students. At times I even felt like those students.

Though it won’t appeal to everyone, “Dear Evan Hansen” is an emotional and heartwarming musical.

Rating: B-

“Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” Interview

“Everybody’s Talking About Jamie”

“Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” is a film adaption of the musical about a teenager from England who wants to be a drag queen. It’s a touching and beautiful movie about embracing the “real” you. I sat down with the director and stars of the film, Jonathan Butterell, Max Harwood, and Lauren Patel. They discussed the film and even played a little rapid fire game!

Check out the interview and the film when it opens on September 17, 2021.

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Movie Review: “The Green Knight” and “Paper Spiders”

David Lowery is an Irving High School alum who has gone on to make critically acclaimed films like “Pete’s Dragon” and “A Ghost Story”. His new movie, “The Green Knight,” is a Medieval, fantasy re-telling of Sir Gawain based on the 14th century Arthurian poem. Watch the video below to find out my thoughts on the movie, along with a review of the independent film, “Paper Spiders”, starring Lili Taylor (“The Conjuring”).

“The Green Knight” opens in theaters July 30, 2021 and “Paper Spiders” is available to rent on various VOD platforms.

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Movie Review: “Old” Shrivels Up a Talented Cast

At this point, we know walking into any M. Night Shyamalan (Writer/Director) film is a gamble. You’re either going to get a quality movie like “Split”, or you could get the dragged-out disaster that came after, “Glass”. Regardless, we take that risk every time because we know Shyamalan is capable of greatness (i.e. “Unbreakable” and “The Sixth Sense”). Unfortunately, Shyamalan’s newest mystery thriller is far from great. 

The premise of “Old” is incredibly intriguing. A family on a tropical vacation visit a beach that somehow causes you to age nearly a lifetime in a single day!  Sounds good, but it seems the preview alluded to a more satisfying script. 

From the get-go we are introduced to Guy (Gael Garcia Bernel), his wife Prisca (Vicky Krieps), their 11-year-old daughter, Maddox (Alexa Swinton), and 6-year-old son, Trent (Nolan River). The parents want to have one last trip together as a family before they announce their separation and reveal Prisca’s illness. Not so coincidentally, the family is offered a ride to a secluded beach for the day. Why anyone would trust a secluded anything in the middle of a shady beach, I’ll never understand. But, this family is not alone in their stupidity. They are joined by another family of 4, a married couple, and a famous rap star?  Sure, why not?

It does not take long for this bunch to figure out something is wrong with the beach. People are dying, and there is no way to get back to their drop off point.

Again, the plot of the film is actually good. It’s original, and you have no idea how it’s going to end or why it’s happening. I can appreciate Shyamalan’s creativity. The man can come up with the most thought-provoking ideas. But sometimes it’s just poorly executed.

The dialogue in “Old” is painful. From the start of the movie to the very end, it’s as if the story was written for toddlers.  Everything is spoon fed to the audience, and so many lines are forced. I’m not certain if many of the actors were bad, or they just didn’t believe in what they are saying.  Either way, it makes for a slow and difficult watch.

I would be remiss if I didn’t at least shine a light on the two glimmers of light, Thomasin McKenzie and Alex Wolff, who play teenage versions of Maddox and Trent. These two give their all in their performances and are committed to that script. If anything, “Old” will further launch these two talented actors.

I wouldn’t be so harsh if I didn’t know Shyamalan’s skills. “Old” is a great idea that deserved a better screenplay, and maybe a better secondary cast. The premise pulls you in, but ultimately, the film leaves you out to dry.

Rating: C-

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“Summertime” Interview w/ Carlos Lopez Estrada & Kelly Marie Tran

“Summertime” is set during a hot summer day in Los Angeles. The lives of 25 young adults intertwine as they share their stories and passion through powerful spoken word. I spoke with director, Carlos Lopez Estrada (“Blindspotting” & “Raya and the Last Dragon”) and executive producer, Kelly Marie Tran (“Raya and the Last Dragon” & “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”) to talk about the film.

“Summertime” opens in theaters July 16, 2021.

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Movie Review: “Zola” Fascinating and Disturbing Tale

At first glance, “Zola” might have you wondering; “What in the world am I watching?” Some may even want to stop the film all together. If you power through, you will treat yourself to a captivating story and some intoxicating performances. 

“Zola” is based on the viral 148 tweets by the A’Ziah “Zola” King. In the film, Zola (Taylour Paige) plays a Detroit waitress who meets a stripper, Stefani. (Riley Keough) Stefani lures her on a road trip to Florida with her boyfriend (Nicholas Braun) and “roommate” (Coleman Domingo) under false pretenses. What she thinks will be an opportunity to strip from some quick cash turns into a terrifying sequence of events.

The best way I can describe “Zola” is like watching a really bad, but visually satisfying car accident unfold. You just can’t look away even though part of you might want to. And when it’s over, those images will forever haunt you.

What happily stays with you are the incredible performances by entire cast. Paige and Keough carry the film with their cringe-worthy, odd friendship. Stefani is unbelievably offensive and shows no self-awareness, while Zola is the voice of reason that will keep audiences sane. Another polarizing stand out is Coleman Domingo, who plays Stefani’s “roommate” aka her pimp. He is both humorous and frightening. Domingo creates a powerful presence anytime he is on screen.

“Zola” is meant to make audiences feel uncomfortable and pull you into the world of the two leads; where they are trapped and forced into unwanted sexual encounters. Director/Writer Janicza Bravo wants you to feel the same fear that these young girls are feeling.

Some will find “Zola” to be a smart, stylish, summer joyride. While others will see it as a dirty, annoying movie that gets under their skin. Either way you view it, the film is absolutely hypnotizing. And after it was done, Bravo had me under her trance.

Rating: B-

“Zola” is currently playing in theaters and coming soon on VOD.

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Movie Review: “Black Widow”

We have anxiously been waiting for the release of “Black Widow” and it’s finally here! The film is set after the events of “Civil War”. Natasha Romanoff unites with her former “family” and seeks vengeance on the man who turned her into a controlled assassin. Find out my thoughts on the film in video below.

“Black Widow” opens in theaters and is available on Disney + Premier Access on July 9, 2021.

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