Our Critics Pick Their Best (and Worst) Films of 2015

Now that the calendar has turned over to 2016, some of our critics decided to compile their annual “Best of/Worse of” lists of the films of 2015. You can listen to them list their choices, as well as their reasons, on this week’s “Behind the Mikes” Podcast – http://behindthemikes.podomatic.com/entry/2016-01-03T02_32_33-08_00

Michael Smith

Before I list my favorites, I have an honorary film, “Star Wars – Episode VII: The Force Awakens.” It narrowly missed being a part of my Top 10 but, as the most anticipated film of the year, it delivered everything I wanted and more. My “Best of” choices:

1. The Revenant
2. Bridge of Spies
3. The Connection
4. Creed
5. The Gift
6. Mad Max: Fury Road
7. Sicario
8. Spotlight

9. Here I chose (3) smaller films that didn’t gain a wide release but are still “must sees” in my book:

5-7 – A sweet, May-December romance starring Anton Yelchin and Berenice Marhloe that I called, “cleverly acted by a cast that believes in the material.”

The Looking Glass – A well written, thoughtfully directed character directed film, featuring strong performances by veteran actress Dorothy Tristan, who also wrote the script, and newcomer Grace Tarnow.

Radio America – the story of two men, friends since childhood, who pursue their musical ambitions and learn that sometimes having your dreams come true is costly. Also has a great soundtrack of original music.

10. Straight Outta Compton

Thankfully I was spared many of this years stinkers. My bottom four:
1. Love the Coopers
2. The Last Witch Hunter
3. The Kingsman: The Secret Service
4. Tomorrowland

Jeremy Werner’s Top 10
1. Inside Out
2. Mad Max: Fury Road
3. Sicario
4. Star Wars – Episode VII: The Force Awakens
5. It Follows
6. The Look of Silence
7. Spotlight
8. The Martian
9. Room
10. Carol

And the stinkers:
1. Point Break
2. The Human Centipede 3
3. Hitman: Agent 47
4. The Fantastic Four
5. The Ridiculous Six

Lauren Damon’s Top 7:
1. (tie) Crimson Peak and Ex Machina
2. The Hateful Eight
3. What We Do In the Shadows
4. The Martian
5. Jurassic World
6. Mad Max: Fury Road
7. Cinderella

And Lauren’s terrible 2:
Self/Less
Blackhat

Podcast Contributor Loey Lockerby’s Top 10:
1. Room
2. The Martian
3. Inside Out
4. The Big Short
5. It Follows
6. Ex Machina
7. The Hateful Eight
8. Carol
9. Star Wars – Episode VII: The Force Awakens
10. Mad Max: Fury Road

Loey says they were spared having to watch anything horrible this past year. You can read Loey’s full reviews at www.suchacritic.com

[Editor’s note, an earlier version of this post had Lauren lacking worst picks. She had them.]

The 1995 Film Casino Is in the Top 25 Casino Films on IMDB

 

Have you ever seen the 1995 film Casino? If you haven’t, it’s definitely a must see for any film buff. Actually, anyone at all will love this movie. And that is why it is listed on the top 25 movies of all time on IMDb. Nicholas Pileggi and Martin Scorsese worked together to write this film, and Martin Scorsese directed it himself. These two very talented individuals also worked together on the film Goodfellas from 1990. Both of the films are based around the mafia and Italian culture.

 

Stars of the film

The movie Casino has some of the best known actors and actresses from Hollywood. The leading role is played by Robert De Niro, who seems to be in all of the movies that we see. He has had starring roles in such great movies as the King of Comedy from 1983, Raging Bull from 1980, New York New York from 1977, Mean Streets from 1973, Cape Fear from 1991 and Taxi Driver from 1976.

The movie also stars Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci. Sharon Stone is well known for her role in Basic instinct, and Joe Pesci plays in many other Italian mafia movies also.

 

The plot of the movie

The movie begins and ends up revolving around Robert De Niro’s character, an associate of the mafia. He is being sent to the casino capital of the world in Las Vegas to run a casino there. His name is Sam or Ace Rothestein. The casino features many different games, and it is so utterly realistic. In fact, it was a real casino when the movie was shot, but it got dressed up, and of course no one was actually there gambling in it for real while the movie was being filmed. Instead, actors and extras were called in to be seen in the casino playing slots, blackjack or games that would not be the equivalent to online roulette games. If the movie inspired you to some action, you too can enjoy online casino games, without leaving the comfort your house!

 

How to watch this film

This is a relatively old film, and it is a classic, so it’s not that hard to watch nowadays if you want to. Many websites and classic movie channels will play this film from time to time. One thing to look for when you’re watching is the costumes that Robert Nero’s character has on. He has multiple suits, and as the film progresses, his suits get more and more elaborate. This is a great movie to watch with a friend, a significant other or by yourself for something fun to do on a rainy day.

Blu-ray Reviews: Disney Presents Studio Ghibli Latest Films

Thank God for Disney since they have been delivering fans of Studio Ghibli films with new Blu-ray ever few months. The following three beloved films have never been available before on Blu-ray in the US. They are POM POKO, PORCO ROSSO and TALES FROM EARTHSEA. These films are not the most notable films in Studio Ghibli’s library but they are still classics. They also come with all-new digital masters featuring HD picture and sound. Having seen POM POKO and PORCO ROSSO back when I was a kid on VHS tape, this was quite the different experience. Almost felt like a different movie. The colors are absolutely vibrant and each films is accompanied with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track for both their original Japanese and English dub tracks.

POM POKO is directed by Isao Takahata know for his work on “Grave of the Fireflies” and “Heidi: A Girl of the Alps”). PORCO ROSSO is directed by the king of Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki himself (“Spirited Away,” “Princess Mononoke”). Lastly TALES FROM EARTHSEA is directed by the son of the king, Goro Miyazaki, who also directed “From Up on Poppy Hill”. Like I said these are great films. Personally, I am really hoping my breath for my favorite Ghibli films including “Spirited Away” and “The Castle of Cagliostro” to head to US on Blu-ray but for now, these are a great addition to my Studio Ghibli collection.

POM POKO Official Premise: Studio Ghibli presents a film about the clash between modern civilization and the natural world from acclaimed director Isao Takahata. The raccoons of the Tama Hills are being forced from their homes by the rapid development of houses and shopping malls. As it becomes harder to find food and shelter, they decide to band together and fight back. The raccoons practice and perfect the ancient art of transformation until they are even able to appear as humans. In often hilarious ways, the raccoons use their powers to try to scare off the advance of civilization. But will it be enough? Or will the raccoons learn how to live in balance with the modern world? Celebrate the magic of the forest and the beauty of the creatures who live among us in “Pom Poko”—now on Disney Blu-ray for the first time ever.

PORCO ROSSO Official Premise: Take flight with “Porco Rosso,” a valiant World War I flying ace! From tropical Adriatic settings to dazzling aerial maneuvers, this action-adventure from world-renowned animator Hayao Miyazaki is full of humor, courage and chivalry. When “Porco”—whose face has been trans- formed into that of a pig by a mysterious spell—infuriates a band of sky pirates with his aerial heroics, the pirates hire Curtis, a rival pilot, to get rid of him. On the ground, the two pilots compete for the affections of the beautiful Gina. But it’s in the air where the true battles are waged. Will our hero be victorious? For the first time ever on Disney Blu-ray, “Porco Rosso” is a thrilling ride you’ll never forget!

TALES FROM EARTHSEA Official Premise: An epic animated adventure directed by Goro Miyazaki, “Tales From Earthsea” features the voices of Timothy Dalton, Willem Dafoe, Cheech Marin and Mariska Hargitay. Based on the classic “Earthsea” fantasy book series by Ursula K. Le Guin, “Tales From Earthsea” is set in a mythical world filled with magic and bewitchment. In the land of Earthsea, crops are dwindling, dragons have reappeared and humanity is giving way to chaos. Journey with Lord Archmage Sparrowhawk, a master wizard, and Arren, a troubled young prince, on a tale of redemption and self-discovery as they search for the force behind the mysterious imbalance that threatens to destroy their world. Featuring a timeless story and magnificent hand-drawn animation, “Tales From Earthsea” is now available for the first time ever on Disney Blu-ray.

POM POKO stars a great US cast including Clancy Brown (“The Shawshank Redemption,” “Starship Troopers”) as Gonta, J.K. Simmons (“Spider-Man,” “The Closer”) as Seizaemon, Jonathan Taylor Thomas (“The Lion King,” “Home Improvement”) as Shokichi, John DiMaggio (“Futurama,” “Adventure Time”) as Ryûtarô and Olivia d’Abo (“The Wonder Years,” “Conan the Destroyer”) as Koharu.

PORCO ROSSO does one up delivering an even better cast with Michael Keaton (“Batman,” “Toy Story 3”) as Porco Rosso, Cary Elwes (“The Princess Bride,” “Saw”) as Curtis, Kimberly Williams-Paisley (“According to Jim,” “Father of the Bride”) as Fio, Susan Egan (“Hercules,” “13 Going on 30”) as Gina, David Ogden Stiers (“Beauty and the Beast,” “Pocahontas,” and TV’s “M*A*S*H”) as Grandpa Piccolo and Brad Garrett (TV’s “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Ratatouille,” “Finding Nemo”) as Mamma Aiuto Boss.

Lastly TALES FROM EARTHSEA does not disappoint either, especially including a former James Bond to the cast. For this we get the talents of Mariska Hargitay (“Law and Order: Special Victims,” “Leaving Las Vegas”) as Tenar, Willem Dafoe (“Spider-Man,” “Finding Nemo”) as Cob, Timothy Dalton (“The Living Daylights,” “License to Kill”) as Ged, Cheech Marin (“The Lion King,” “Nash Bridger”) as Hare.

The special features on these Blu-ray range a bit with POM POKO delivering the least goods. POM POKO  includes original Japanese storyboards and also original Japanese trailers. PORCO ROSSO also includes original Japanese storyboards and also original Japanese trailers as well as a Behind The Microphone featurette with the US cast and also an interview with the film’s producer Toshio Suzuki. Lastly TALES FROM EARTHSEA also includes original Japanese storyboards and also original Japanese trailers as well as a feature on the film’s score “The Birth of the Film Soundtrack” and a making of featurette with “Behind the Studio: Origins of Earthsea”. Not too shabby for lesser known titles and definitely enough to make these Blu-ray worth the purchase.

Lauren’s Top 5 Films to Look Forward to in 2015

Last week I listed off my top five films of 2014, it was an admittedly quiet year for me movie-wise but 2015 looks to be an embarrassment of riches.

My top Five Films Coming in 2015. In order of release:

 

March 13: In the Heart of the Sea
Director: Ron Howard
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Brendan Gleeson, Cillian Murphy, Ben Whishaw
Ron Howard’s take on Nathaniel Philabrick’s telling of the Tragedy of the Whale Ship Essex–aka the terrifying true story that inspired Moby Dick.  The trailer, featuring copious digital sperm whales, is nerve-wracking and in the hands of Howard, once again directing his Rush star, Chris Hemsworth, I can’t wait to see this on the biggest screen possible.

 

May 1st: Avengers: Age of Ultron
Director: Joss Whedon

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, James Spader
In the wake of The Winter Soldier and the outer space developments of Guardians of the Galaxy, where exactly does that place the Avengers team? By the looks of the trailer we got in October, possibly thrown into disarray by one of their very own Tony Stark’s inventions. Go figure. It’s almost disconcerting how well James Spader’s voice translates into sinister robot Ultron.

 

June 12th: Jurassic World
Director: Colin Trevorrow

Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins, Judy Greer

The first Jurassic Park is my favorite film of all time but while Lost World boasted a great cast (more Goldblum!), somewhere around the t-rex rampaging through LA the sequels began to lose their sparkle. The third brought the franchise into mindless action territory and the less said about it, the better. It’s therefore with such relief that the trailer—focusing on the theme park concept of the first film coming to fruition looks to be a fresh take on the concept. Plus Chris Pratt. On a motorcycle. Surrounded by a gang of velociraptors. That is all.

 

October 2nd : The Walk
Director: Robert Zemeckis

Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley, James Badge Dale

Robert Zemeckis directs the true story of Philippe Petit—the only person to traverse the gap between the Twin Towers on tight wire. It’s a story that’s already been covered on screen by the highly acclaimed documentary Man On Wire, but the vertigo-inducing trailer of this dramatization has me intrigued.

 

October 16th: Crimson Peak
Director: Guillermo Del Toro
Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Charlie Hunnam, Doug Jones

Before Del Toro “cancelled the apocalypse” in the super fun Pacific Rim, he broke into Hollywood with amazingly atmospheric smaller films like Pan’s Labyrinth and The Orphanage. Crimson Peak looks to be a return to that, his first horror film in English. Mia Wasikowska is a young woman who is attracted to a “mysterious outsider” (Tom Hiddleston) and brought to his family home which is evidently alive. Del Toro regular Doug Jones on the cast list surely means we’ll be getting some cool ghosts and creatures in the home too. Described as a gothic romance, the images of the film that have been released are visually stunning and if Hiddleston is in sinister mode, count me in. This is definitely the film I’m most excited for in 2015.

 

Honorable Mentions: Steven Spielberg‘s rejoining Tom Hanks in an as-yet untitled Cold War Thriller, The Hunger Games wraps up, plus there’s a couple slightly known franchises called James Bond (Spectre) and Star Wars that might interest some filmgoers like me coming back to big screens in 2015…

Mike’s Picks for The Best & Worst Films of 2014

With another year is coming to an end, we look back at are favorite and least favorite films from the year. To be honest, 2014 was not a huge year for movies, I found that a lot of my choices were littler known titles and not too many of the big mainstream films. I am including some trailers below as well if you are interested in checking any of these out for yourself! So for better or worse, here are my picks for the best and the worst of 2014!

BEST
The Babadook
Big Hero 6
Birdman
Chef
Edge of Tomorrow
For No Good Reason
Guardians of the Galaxy
Jodorowsky’s Dune
The LEGO Movie
The Wind Rises

Runners Up
The Congress
Snowpiercer

WORST
Exodus: Gods and Kings
Into the Woods
Pompeii
Robocop
Transcendence

Even though 2014 was a bit lackluster, 2015 is going to be a HUGE year for film! We have “The Avengers: Age of Ultron”, “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awaken” and “Jurassic World” just to name a few!! Can’t wait!!

Enter to Win One of Cinedigm Recent Three GKIDS Animated Films [ENDED]


From the distributors who brought us animated like “Ernest & Celestine” and “From Up On Poppy Hill”, GKIDS is releasing three new stunning animated films including “Patema Inverted”, “Welcome to the Space Show” and “Nocturna”. We are happy to be giving one of each of these Blu-rays to our fans! If you want to win one of these great prizes, please leave us a comment below or send us an email and let us know your favorite anime films to date. This giveaway will remain open until November 21th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to our readers in US and Canada only. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

SYNOPSIS – PATEMA INVERTED
Time of Eve director Yasuhiro Yoshiura returns with a perspective-twisting sci-fi adventure about two kids separated by opposite gravities. Patema lives in an underground world of tunnels, the long-abandoned ruins of a giant industrial complex. Though she is a princess, she is held back by the rules imposed by the elders of her clan. One day when she is exploring in a forbidden zone, she is startled by a strange bat-like creature and tumbles headlong into a void – and out into the wide open world above the surface, a place with reversed physics, where if she let go she would “fall up” into the sky and be lost forever.

SYNOPSIS – WELCOME TO THE SPACE SHOW
With an intergalactic cast of thousands, Koji Masunari’s colorfully explosive feature revolves around five elementary school kids sent on an unexpected trip to space. While looking for their missing class pet, the children find and rescue a dog that turns out to be an alien, and he invites them to visit the moon as a reward for helping him. However, through a series of strange events, they become stranded and must make their way across the galaxy to get to his home world and then return to Earth.

SYNOPSIS – NOCTURNA
Visually stunning and wildly inventive, Nocturna explores the mystery of the night in a sweeping adventure full of Alice in Wonderland-like characters and moody, dream-inspired landscapes. Have you ever wondered why your hair looks funny in the morning? Or where the sounds outside your window come from at night? A young boy named Tim finds out after an unusual discovery on the rooftop of his orphanage, which plunges him into the secret world of Nocturna, inhabited by curious creatures who control the night.

Helmet’s Page Hamilton talks about the 20th anniversary of “Betty” and scoring films

Page Hamilton Music (www.pagehamiltonmusic.com)

Page Hamilton is the lead singer and guitarist for the band Helmet. The band is currently celebrating their 20th anniversary of hit album “Betty”. Page has also collaborated on numerous film scores like “Heat” and also recently created an original score for the film “Sons of Liberty”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Page about music, movies and Helmet’s anniversary tour.

Mike Gencarelli: How is it going from playing with Helmet to collaborating on film scores like “Heat” and “Titus” with Elliot Goldenthall?
Page Hamilton: Playing our music live is physically demanding, there’s no coasting with backing tracks or candlelit, acoustic-sit-down sections in the set, and with a 70+ song repertoire remembering lyrics and certain guitar parts can be challenging. Working with Elliott is a whole different kind of challenge. Sometimes he has concrete ideas and colors he describes or sings to me, sometimes there are written parts and other times he wants me to ad-lib. Elliott works with very talented people, there is a lot of trust in the room; it feels like a brilliant family that adopted me to come in and mess up Elliott’s beautiful music. Teese, Joel, Rick, Lawrence etc. are all amazing people to work with. Also Julie Taymor (Elliott’s wife and director extraordinaire) has been there for the movies of hers I’ve worked on: “Titus”, “The Tempest” and “Across the Universe”. I love working with them.

MG: Tell us about what we can expect from your upcoming compilation album of your own film scores?
PH: I chose to do new mixes of about 40 cues from the 1st 3 movies I scored for Mudbrick media in Mobile, Alabama. When we’re doing music for a scene obviously the director has ideas regarding what works and what doesn’t for each scene but he gives me a lot of freedom to experiment. We disagree from time to time so I wanted mixes for my compilation that I dug compositionally, i.e. remove the visual imagery & dialog and make sure the music is still interesting. In many cases I put back parts I had removed for him and even added a few things. I wrote, recorded, programmed & mixed everything so it’s pretty, low-tech and raw with a fair amount of my guitar mess spilling over the rim.

MG: How do did you approach your original score for the film “Sons of Liberty” and how did it compare to your other scores?
PH: I’ve been fortunate to collaborate with Patrick Kirst for several years, we wrote the “Sons of Liberty” score together, though it was mostly a dropbox collaboration between Hollywood (my place) & Venice (his place). He brings a lot of film scoring experience so I bounce music bits off his stubborn German brain & classical music ears and then create sounds that annoy him, sonically, melodically and harmonically. That’s what they get for hiring a noise-metal guitarist.

MG: This year is the 20th anniversary of “Betty”, which was (and still is) a sick album; how can you reflect on this album?
PH: We’re 20 shows into our European “Betty” tour, it’s not an easy album to pull off live but it’s been really fun to perform. I had to work on a variety of guitar and vocal sounds to get the vibe we had on the recording. I remember everyone having an idea about what we should do after the success of “Meantime”, they wanted “Meantime” part ll but it’s not in my nature to rewrite songs. Fortunately my bandmates were on board and contributed in a big way. Either that or they were just humoring me.

MG: Looking back on 1994 in general, why do you think it was such an epic and important year for music?
PH: I’m not sure though part of it has to do with the strong indie rock scene from the previous 10 + years. Labels like Am Rep, Discord, SST, Blast First and Touch & Go had a lot of good bands that could develop without industry interference. When the demand grew, major labels saw money to be made so a bunch of us signed deals to get paid & quit our bartending jobs. We didn’t know any better so we (more or less) continued as if we were still on Am Rep. Maybe this was the case with other indie bands as well? Melvins and The Pixies come to mind.

MG: How did you get involved working with Linkin Park on their new song “All for Nothing”, from their latest album The Hunting Party?
PH: They contacted my manager in NY and asked if I’d do some guest vocal & guitar bits on their new album. I met with the guys and liked them a lot. They played me a bunch of new songs including “All for Nothing”; I couldn’t get that chorus out of my head. I really enjoyed their recording process and had a great time.

MG: You are currently on tour with Helmet across Europe; tell us what we can expect from the tour and any plans for US dates?
PH: We’re playing the “Betty” album beginning to end followed by a second set of material including songs from “Strap it On”, “Meantime”, “Aftertaste”, “Size Matters”, “Monochrome” and “Seeing Eye Dog”. I’ve always wanted to tour without any opening bands so this is it; 30-35 songs a night. We have some east coast US “Betty” dates booked for December.

MG: What else do you have planned for the rest of the year and in store for 2015?
PH: I’ll be in the south of France producing a French band between the Europe & US “Betty” dates. We have a movie lined up for early next year and I plan to finish writing and recording a new Helmet album. I’ll continue to flounder around with my Jazz Wannabes group back east and my good NYC pals M’Lumbo have asked me to sit in for some recording and a few live gigs.

The Soska Sisters talk about their films “See No Evil 2” & “ABCs of Death 2”

The Soska Sisters cconsisting of Jen & Sylvia Soska are film directors are literally taking over the horror genre. After their short film “Dead Hooker in a Trunk”, they made the fantastic and original horror film called “American Mary” then quickly following that they were brought us to work with WWE on the horror sequel “See No Evil 2”. They also have a segment in the upcoming “ABCs of Death 2”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with the “Twisted Twins” to chat about “See No Evil 2” and their upcoming projects.

Mike Gencarelli: I just want to start that I loved “American Mary”; it was original, very smart, ballsy and really fucking gory. I honestly reminded me why I love horror movies. Going from that film to “See No Evil 2” with WWE’s Kane; what was that like?
Sylvia Soska: That is a hell of a compliment. Thank you for saying that. That project is very much a part of who Jen and I are. After that film, we took many studio meetings to get the next film made, but all anyone wanted to see was Katharine Isabelle with us as a sexy doctor or surgeon or torturer and it was really depressing. When WWE and Lionsgate approached us to make the film, we read the script and got super excited, but didn’t think there was a chance in hell that we would get hired. It was so much of a dream project, but it happened. Then we started to collaborate on the story, hire the cast, and it just kept getting better. We only make films that we, as fans, would want to see; See No Evil 2 is that kind of film.
Jen Soska: We are the fan directors. We love horror movies so much and I do hope you can tell on every frame of our movies. We want to make a horror film in each sub genre of horror. To have the opportunity to create our own masked man horror icon was incredible. I feel the first film was more of a prequel and this is Jacob’s true first film. The first film had Jacob under the command of his fanatic religious mother. In this film we recreate Jacob’s look, theme music, and array of weapons. It’s a tremendous honor and I still can’t believe we got such an incredible opportunity that so few directors ever have.

MG: What was your biggest challenging tackling that film?
SS: It should have been much more difficult but we were spoiled by our cast and crew. Let me tell you a little thing about the crew you can get in Vancouver – seasoned professionals that work year around on everything from major blockbuster productions, to some of the best genre televisions series we have ever seen, and the darling independent gems. You get this crew and you get peace of mind because they are so good. Almost the entire cast were child actors, so not only was the level of talent very high in our performers, but we had a team that could pull off this very ambitious film very masterfully.
JS: For me, the biggest challenge was making something that was true to the original and respected the fans who loved that film while building on that film’s missed opportunities. It’s hard to come
into an existing franchise and make changes. Every franchise has key parts to it. You don’t want to come into something like, Hellraiser, and take out the lament configuration. Just like with Jacob.
There were untouchable elements, but we had a lot of room to play around with the character and story and kills and almost everything.

MG: Tell us about what it was like working on “ABCs of Death 2” and your segment “T is for Torture Porn”?
SS: It was something we’ve been wanting to make since the open entry contest on the first one. I watch a lot of porn, I love it. I think in horror there are interesting issues you can tackle because it’s not like you’re just preaching at people – you have one foot in reality and one in the fantastical. T is for Torture Porn is a commentary on unwanted sexual violence and degradation with a very angry reaction to that with how the short ends. But there’s still a laugh to it all, wait til the after credits scene – it’s the end of our segment.
JS: A tremendous honor! I loved the first ABCs of Death. I really wanted to be in it, but we saw T is for Toilet (the entry for the 26th slot open to all directors) and it was perfection. We wanted to make Torture Porn all the way back then but we put it on the back burner. We didn’t even expect them to do a sequel. I’m so happy they did and absolutely honored that Ant invited us on.

MG: Are you ever afraid of taking it too far or offending the audience?
SS: Ha ha, from some of the not happy with it reviews, maybe I should have? Naw, art is to make people feel things. It’s to spurn a reaction. Anything that one person loves, another person will hate it.
JS: In the immortal words of one of my favorite comedians ever, John Cleese, “some people deserve to be offended.” It’s just art and art should make you question things and leave an impression on you. It should get you thinking. I’m not a fan of senseless violence or cruelty to animals, but I think that violence and the obscene have a place in art for sure. Though somewhat controversial, MARTYRS and A SERBIAN FILM are superb films. They use their violence, gore, and more upsetting parts as a commentary.

MG: What do you love most about the horror genre?
SS: Everything. Being scared gets me excited, it makes me feel alive. It’s a thrill.
JS: What’s not to love? I feel horror chose us from a very young age. I can’t remember a time I didn’t love it. It’s exciting and fun. You ever go to a Horror Convention? If you haven’t, treat yourself. They are the happiest places on Earth filled with the sweetest people. Horror brings out the best in people.

MG: We ever going to see you both directing a romantic comedy?
SS: I thought American Mary was a romantic comedy. Jen and I are in love with this script written by Josh Murray, this extremely crass female-centric Christmas comedy. I bet you didn’t see that coming, eh? But that’s how we pick our projects – if we would want to see this movie, we would make that movie.
JS: Dammit, I thought SEE NO EVIL 2 was a romance movie! Well, to me, it totally is. I’d love to tackle any genre. I’m not into labels. Some people seem happy to categorize us as “female twin horror directors”, but I just see us as directors. I love film. I love all genres of film. There is no genre we wouldn’t tackle and put a Soska spin on.

MG: You also worked with WWE Studios for “Vendetta”, which is an action films; what can you tell us about that experience?
SS: Vendetta stars Dean Cain, Paul ‘Big Show’ White, and Michael Eklund and it is the most badass film we have ever made. The pure physicality to it, the amazing stunt fights from our Stunt Coordinator, Kimani Smith, and Fight Coordinator, Dan Rizzuto, pushed everything and everyone to the max. You have never seen the cast like this before. It is such a fuck yeah movie. We got our See No Evil 2 team back to pull it off and we really kicked the shit out of ourselves making this gritty crime revenge flick.
JS: It was incredible! It was so nice to have Michael Luisi of WWE Studios be the first to give us an opportunity to do a genre that wasn’t strictly horror. We have stunts and action in all of our films. It was really fun to have so much more of it. Dean Cain is outstanding, a true Hollywood icon. You’ve never seen him like this before, either. I love Dean good, but he’s SO much better bad. And he’s a total badass in Vendetta. Paul “Big Show” Wight is so evil. He plays a lot of comedic roles and the humor here comes from just how bad he is. And he loves it. Eklund is the Canadian Daniel Day Lewis. I just love him. There isn’t anything he can’t do. You hand me a script and I look for the top three roles I can see him in. He’s so capable and versatile. The film is so sexy, and dark. It’s almost a boy version of American Mary.

MG: How is your adaption of “Painkiller Jane” coming along? Is this your next project?
SS: Painkiller Jane is coming along very well. We are on the epic task of finding Jane. She needs to be tough as nails, completely shredded, with a great emotional capacity, and pitch perfect comedic ability. Easy, right? There are a few projects we have in development that are racing to the finish line right now, so I can say 100% sure on anything, but we have a huge focus on making Bob, our monster movie right now. It’s time, we haven’t stop work on it in all this time.
JS: We are filmmaking sharks. If we stop making films, we die. We have several original scripts that we’re pushing forward and have several more films in all stages of development. We’re planning some TV work along with a couple graphic novels, as well, so we honestly never stop. We’re so creative. I love story telling. I’m so blessed to be able to do what we do. With any luck, BOB will be our next one. It’s so very special to us.

MG: Lastly, I just have to ask how does it feel to literally be taking over the horror genre? Very soon, you will be so big that I won’t be able to speak with you again!
SS: Nothing feels like real life to me right now. I am getting to make films I love with my best friend and it’s been years of struggling to get to a point where we feel secure in getting to keep doing this! Thank you for supporting us – otherwise we would be waiting tables still.
JS: Ha ha, OMG, you will ALWAYS be able to talk to us! We still can’t believe people like our stuff. It’s like some sort of weird karma from being so damn unpopular growing up. It’s a profound honor to have people respond to us and our work the way they have. I grew up dressing like movie characters I love. Seeing people cosplay ours or get them tattooed on them is so unreal. Like a dream come true. And all the letters we get mean the world to us. We try to be the role models we would have liked growing up. We’ll always stay the same. Grounded and uber grateful for the influence we have. And we’re only just getting started.

 

Related Content

Book Review “The Art of the Films: Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of Planet of the Apes”

Author: Matt Hurwitz
Hardcover: 173 pages
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: July 8, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

When “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” was released in 2011, I was very upset when it didn’t have an art of companion book. All the work, all the visual effects that went into that film to make it amazing as it was needed to be shared with the world. Well with the release of “Dawn of Planet of the Apes”, we are now getting an art of book for both of them. The book is a literally amazing from the hard cover to the last page including tons of great production photography and concept art for both films. I absolutely love both of these films and if you do as well, this is a must own.

So it is kind of obvious what the focus of this book would be and that is the creation of the apes. I recently went back and re-watched “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” after seeing Dawn of Planet of the Apes” and if you look at the apes in the first film compared to the second, there has been such an improvement. I thought they looked amazing in “Rise” but “Dawn” really delivered 10x the visual effects. So this book includes some fantastic concept art, production stills, VFX renders and finished frames from these movies showcasing those aspects. You also have to remember that these apes aren’t just CGI effects they included state of the art technology mixed with motion capture performances from some very talented actors.

Aside from the apes creation, there are also tons of great locations that was focused on. From “Rise”, there is the lab, Will’s home, primate shelter and, of course, the Bridge. In “Dawn”, there was a bit more since it takes place 10 years after “Rise” and shows pretty much the wipe out of the human race a very degraded world. I really enjoyed this section quite a bit for sure. Between the apes lair and the human’s hold up in a run down San Francisco, it just shows how much work went into this film. Kudos again to Titan Books for releasing yet another gem and my wife is cursing you for us needing a gigantic coffee table since each book is better than the next.

“Bloody Birthday”, “Bloody Moon” and “The Baby” to debut on Blu-Ray From Severin Films 7/8/14


Three classic horror titles will get the HD treatment for the first time. Fans are encouraged to follow the Severin Facebook page, where fans will have the opportunity to win original 1982 Bloody Moon video posters. There is also a bundle of all three films available exclusively from the Severin webstore!

BLOODY BIRTHDAY- Get ready for the rarely seen slasher classic from the ’80s that may also be the most disturbing ‘killer kids’ movies in grindhouse history: Three babies are simultaneously born in the same hospital at the peak of a full solar eclipse. Ten years later, these adorable youngsters suddenly begin a kiddie killing spree of stranglings, shootings, stabbings, beatings and beyond. Can the town’s grown-ups stop these pint-sized serial killers before their blood-soaked birthday bash? K.C. Martel (E.T., Growing Pains), Joe Penny (Jake And The Fat Man), Michael Dudikoff (American Ninja), screen legends Susan Strasberg and Jose Ferrer, and MTV vixen Julie Brown – whose nude bedroom dance remains a landmark of celebrity skin – star in this still-controversial shocker from director Ed Hunt (The Brain, Diary Of A Sinner), now featuring an all-new HD transfer from the original vault elements.

THE BABY- An A-list director. A jaw-dropping storyline. And depraved depictions of suburban violence, 70s fashions and ‘sick love’. The result remains one of the most disturbing movies in Hollywood history: Anjanette Comer (The Loved One) stars as an idealistic L.A. County social worker who investigates the case of Mrs. Wadsworth (former ’50s starlet Ruth Roman of Strangers On A Train fame), her two buxom daughters, and son ‘Baby’, a mentally-disabled man who sleeps in a crib, eats in a high-chair, crawls, bawls and wears diapers. But what secrets of unnatural attachment – and sexual obsession – are all of these women hiding? Marianna Hill (The Godfather Part II) and Michael Pataki (Grave Of The Vampire) co-star in this psychotic stunner from director Ted Post (Magnum Force, Beneath The Planet Of The Apes), now fully restored from the original film negative for the first time on Blu-ray.

BLOODY MOON- As the ‘body-count’ genre stabbed its way into audiences’ hearts in the early ’80s, EuroTrash auteur Jess Franco (Sadomania, Mansion Of The Living Dead) was asked to create his own saga of slaughtered schoolgirls complete with gratuitous nudity, graphic violence, and gory set pieces. But just when you thought you’d seen it all, Franco shocked the world by delivering surprising style, genuine suspense and a cavalcade of depravity that includes incest, voyeurism and roller disco. The luscious Olivia Pascal ofVanessa fame stars in this twisted thriller that was banned in England yet is now presented uncut and uncensored – including the complete ‘stone mill power saw’ sequence – for the first time ever on Blu-ray!

Kevin Sorbo talks about new films “God’s Not Dead” & “Revelation Road 3: The Black Rider”

Kevin Sorbo is know best for his roles in “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys”, “Andromeda” and “Kull the Conqueror”. Media Mikes had a chance to ask Kevin a few questions about his upcoming films “God’s Not Dead” and “Revelation Road 3: The Black Rider”.

Mike Gencarelli: What drew you to this film, “God’s Not Dead”?
Kevin Sorbo: It’s always the story. Great script, wonderful characters, fantastic message!

MG: How did you prepare to play a character like Professor Radisson?
KS: I have atheist friends. I have many conversations with them about my faith, their non belief. I have had college professors like him and have met with other college students who have had the same experience.

MG: In the film you push your students to admit god is dead; did that clash with your religious beliefs?
KS: Not at all. I’m acting. There are certain things I would be uncomfortable with as an actor and wouldn’t do, but the message here is great and needs to be brought to the light.

MG: Big “Duck Dynasty” fan, did you get a chance to meet The Robertsons during filming?
KS: They were brought in a year after we finished shooting, so we never met.

MG: You are currently shooting “Revelation Road 3: The Black Rider”, tell us what we can expect?
KS: A whacky ride into a post apocalyptic world where mad max meets the final chapter of the bible. Just had a fun, crazy character to play. No redeeming qualities in him really, but that remains to be seen with hints he may be back for other “Revelation Road” movies.

MG: Lastly tell us about your current Kickstarter campaign for the film “Survivor”?
KS: Sci-fi movie where I play the captain of a ship that had to leave earth decades ago when world war destroyed it. We answer the distress beacon of another planet and all hell breaks loose upon our arrival. Movie is shot and is looking for more money to wrap up post production.

Media Mikes Critics Choose the Years Best Films (and the Worse)

With voting almost over for the 2013 Media Mikes.com awards, the site’s main critics got together and chose their favorite films of the past year. And a few that weren’t anyone’s favorite. As always, it’s a rather diverse grouping of movies. Agree? Disagree? Let us know below!

Mike Gencarelli’s Top 5

FROZE
GRAVITY
THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG
PACIFIC RIM
THE CONJURING

and

Worse 5
MOVIE 43
BYZANTIUM
AFTERSHOCK
BEAUTIFUL CREATURES
THE HOST

Lauren Damon’s Top 4
Lauren’s original list contained a film that she actually saw this year but will not be released until some time in 2014. Rather than possibly give a look at next year’s list, here are her top four:

12 YEARS A SLAVE
THE WORLD’S END
AMERICAN HUSTLE
INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS

Phillip Smith’s Top 5
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS
MANDELA
12 YEARS A SLAVE
AMERICAN HUSTLE
DALLAS BUYERS CLUB

Jeremy Werner’s Top 5
12 YEARS A SLAVE
THE WORLD’S END
GRAVITY
THE SPECTACULAR NOW
FRUITVALE STATION

and

Worse 5
MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: THE CITY OF BONES
WALKING WITH DINOSAURS
PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS
A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD
ONLY GOD FORGIVES

Michael Smith’s Top 8
I couldn’t stop at five so I thought I’d do my five favorite mainstream titles as well as three more independent features.

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET
AMERICAN HUSTLE
THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG
PRISONERS
THE CONJURING
AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS
THE WAY, WAY BACK
THE SAPPHIRES

and

Worse 5
THE HOST
CARRIE
OUT OF THE FURNACE
A PLACE BEYOND THE PINES
21 AND OVER

Media Mikes’ 25 Most Anticipated Films of 2014

Happy New Year movie lovers!! Who is excited for a great year of movies? We here at Media Mikes are very excited about the upcoming movies of 2014. We have complied a list of our 25 most anticipated films this year. They are listed alphabetical and include posters and trailers when available. Please feel free to chime in below in the comments and let us know what movies you looking forward to most this year.

“BIG EYES” is directed by Tim Burton and stars Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Danny Huston, Krysten Ritter, Jason Schwartzman and Terence Stamp. It is currently scheduled to be released in Late 2014.

Premise: A drama centered on the awakening of the painter Margaret Keane, her phenomenal success in the 1950s, and the subsequent legal difficulties she had with her husband, who claimed credit for her works in the 1960s.

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“BIG HERO 6” is a 3D computer-animated superhero film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name. The film will be directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams. “Big Hero 6” will also be the first Disney animated feature to feature Marvel characters since Disney acquired Marvel. It is currently scheduled to be released on November 7, 2014.

Premise: Set in a fictional metropolis called San Fransokyo (a portmanteau of San Francisco and Tokyo), Big Hero 6 will be centered on a young prodigy named Hiro Hamada and his self-created robot Baymax, both of whom uncover a criminal plot and must join a team of inexperienced crime fighters, including Wasabi No-Ginger, Honey Lemon, GoGo Tomago, and Fred.

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“THE BOXTROLLS” is the latest film from LAIKA, the company that has made wonderful stop-motion animated films like “Coraline”. It is based on the novel “Here Be Monsters!” by Alan Snow. The film is being directed by Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi and stars Ben Kingsley, Simon Pegg, Elle Fanning, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Toni Collette and Jared Harris. It is currently scheduled to be released on September 26, 2014.

Premise: The film tells the story of an orphaned boy named Eggs (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) who was raised by underground cave-dwelling trash collectors called the Boxtrolls. The Boxtrolls are targeted by an evil exterminator named Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley), and Eggs has to save his friends from that evil exterminator.

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“CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER” is the sequel to 2011’s “Captain America: The First Avenger” and the ninth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film was directed by Anthony and Joe Russo and features returning cast of Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Cobie Smulders, Hayley Atwell and Samuel L. Jackson, also on board Robert Redford and Emily VanCamp.

Premise: Two years after the events of The Avengers, Steve Rogers resides peacefully in Washington, D.C., struggling to adapt to contemporary society. However, after a S.H.I.E.L.D. compatriot is assailed, Steve becomes entangled in a mystery that may endanger the globe. Together with Natasha Romanoff, Captain America attempts to uncover the growing machination while fending off hired hit men. When the entire scheme is discovered, Captain America and the Black Widow must recruit the aid of the Falcon and soon encounter an unanticipated and powerful adversary — the Winter Soldier.

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“DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES” is the sequel to the 2011 film “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” picking up eight years after the events of the first film. It is directed by Matt Reeves and stars Andy Serkis, Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, and Keri Russell. It is currently scheduled to be released on July 11, 2014.

Premise: Eight years after the events of the first film, a growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth’s dominant species.

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“DUMB AND DUMBER TO” is a sequel to the 1994 film “Dumb and Dumber” taking place 20 years after the film film. The film stars Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Laurie Holden and Kathleen Turner and is again directed by Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly. It is currently scheduled to be released on November 14, 2014.

Premise: Twenty years after their last adventure, good-hearted yet dimwitted best friends, Harry and Lloyd, head out in search for one of their long lost children in the hope of gaining a new kidney.

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“EDGE OF TOMORROW” is a science-fiction action film directed by Doug Liman and based on the Japanese light novel “All You Need Is Kill” by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, the film stars Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. It is currently scheduled to be released in 3D and IMAX 3D on June 6, 2014.

Premise: Lt. Col. Bill Cage is an officer who has never seen a day of combat when he is unceremoniously dropped into what amounts to a suicide mission. Killed within minutes, Cage now finds himself inexplicably thrown into a time loop – forcing him to live out the same brutal combat over and over, fighting and dying again – and again. But with each battle, Cage becomes able to engage the adversaries with increasing skill, alongside Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski. And, as Cage and Rita take the fight to the aliens, each repeated encounter gets them one step closer to defeating the enemy.

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“THE EXPENDABLES 3” is the third installment in “The Expendables” film series. It features returning cast members Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, and Arnold Schwarzenegger and new additions to the cast include Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Kellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Victor Ortiz, and Glen Powell. It is currently scheduled to be released on August 15, 2014.

Premise: The mercenary group, The Expendables, led by Barney Ross, come face to face with the team’s co-founder Conrad Stonebanks. Ross was forced to kill Stonebanks after he became a ruthless arms trader, but Stonebanks survived and has now made it his mission to destroy The Expendables. Ross resorts to recruiting a new and younger generation of Expendables to help the team overcome his old adversary.

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“GODZILLA” a reboot of the Godzilla film franchise and timed to hit the 60th anniversary of the series. The film retells the origin of Godzilla in contemporary times as a “terrifying force of nature”. The film is directed by Gareth Edwards and stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, David Strathairn, Sally Hawkins, and Ken Watanabe. It is currently scheduled to be released on May 16, 2014 in 2D and 3D.

Premise: An epic rebirth to Toho’s iconic Godzilla, this spectacular adventure pits the world’s most famous monster against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence

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“THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL” is directed by Wes Anderson and stars Ralph Fiennes as a hotel concierge who strikes up a friendship with a young employee at the hotel at which they work. Along with Fiennes, the film has an all-star cast including F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Léa Seydoux, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson and Owen Wilson. It is currently scheduled to be released on March 7, 2014.

Premise: In 1920s Europe, a famed hotel concierge by the name of Gustave H. is bequeathed a painting called Boy With Apple after his one night stand, Madame D, is killed. Madame D’s son, Dmitri, vows revenge on Gustave by framing him for Madame D’s murder. Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy, and his love interest, Agatha, help Gustave hide Boy with Apple from Dmitri and the authorities

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“THE GREEN INFERNO” is a cannibal horror-thriller directed by Eli Roth and stars Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Sky Ferreira and Daryl Sabara. It is currently scheduled to be released on September 5, 2014

Premise: A group of student activists travel from New York City to the Amazon to save a dying tribe but crash in the jungle and are taken hostage by the very natives they protected.

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“GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY” is based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name and is the tenth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film is written and directed by James Gunn and stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close and Benicio del Toro. It is currently scheduled to be released on August 1, 2014 in 3D.

Premise: In the far reaches of space, an American pilot named Peter Quill finds himself the object of a manhunt after stealing an orb coveted by the villainous Ronan. Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a group of futuristic ex-cons including Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, Drax the Destroyer and Groot. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand — with the galaxy’s fate in the balance

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“THE HOBBIT: THERE AND BACK AGAIN” is the final film in the new trilogy from Peter Jackson.
Returning cast includes Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch,
James Nesbitt, Ken Stott, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans and Orlando Bloom. It is currently scheduled to be released on December 17 2014.

Premise: The Company of Thorin has reached Smaug’s lair; but, can Bilbo and the Dwarves reclaim Erebor and the treasure? And, if so, can they hold on to it?

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“HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER” is a fantasy-neo-noir film written, produced and directed by Ryan Gosling, in his directorial debut. The film stars Christina Hendricks, Matt Smith (aka Doctor Who), Saoirse Ronan and Eva Mendes.

Premise: “How to Catch a Monster” weaves elements of fantasy noir, and suspense into a modern day fairytale. Set against the surreal dreamscape of a vanishing city, Billy, a single mother of two, is swept into a macabre and dark fantasy underworld while her teenage son, Bones, discovers a secret road leading to an underwater town. Both Billy and Bones must dive deep into the mystery, if their family is to survive.

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“HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2” is the sequel to the 2010 computer-animated film “How to Train Your Dragon” and the second in the trilogy. It stars the voices of Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, T.J. Miller, Kristen Wiig and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. It is currently scheduled to be released on June 13, 2014.

Premise: The thrilling second chapter of the epic How to Train Your Dragon” trilogy brings us back to the fantastical world of Hiccup and Toothless five years after the two have successfully united dragons and vikings on the island of Berk. While Astrid, Snoutlout and the rest of the gang are challenging each other to dragon races (the island’s new favorite contact sport), the now inseparable pair journey through the skies, charting unmapped territories and exploring new worlds. When one of their adventures leads to the discovery of a secret ice cave that is home to hundreds of new wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider, the two friends find themselves at the center of a battle to protect the peace. Now, Hiccup and Toothless must unite to stand up for what they believe while recognizing that only together do they have the power to change the future of both men and dragons.


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“INTERSTELLAR” is a science fiction film directed by Christopher Nolan. It follows a team of space travelers who travel through a wormhole. It stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Bill Irwin, Ellen Burstyn and Michael Caine. It is currently scheduled to be released on November 7, 2014.

Premise: When a wormhole (which hypothetically can connect widely-separated regions of spacetime) is newly discovered, a team of explorers and scientists embark on a voyage through it to transcend previous limitations on human space travel

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“INTO THE WOODS” is a musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Pictures and directed by Rob Marshall, which is based on the Broadway musical by James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim. The film stars Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Johnny Depp and Tracey Ullman. It is currently scheduled to be released on December 25, 2014.

Premise: Set in an intertwined world of various Grimm fables, when a Baker and his Wife learn they’ve been cursed childless by a Witch, they must embark into the woods to find the objects required to break the spell. What begins a lively irreverent fantasy musical eventually becomes a meaningful tale about responsibility, the problems that come
from wishes, and the legacy that we leave our children.

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“JUPITER ASCENDING” is an original science fiction epic adventure from filmmakers Lana and Andy Wachowski (The Matrix) and stars Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis and Sean Bean. It is currently scheduled to be released on July 18, 2014.

Premise: Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is an unlucky Russian immigrant who cleans toilets for a living. She encounters Caine (Channing Tatum), an interplanetary warrior whom the Queen of the Universe sent to kill Jupiter. Caine tells Jupiter that the stars were pointing to an extraordinary event on the night she was born, and that her DNA could mark her as the universe’s next leader.

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“MALEFICENT” is a dark fantasy film directed by Robert Stromberg and produced by Walt Disney Pictures. The film stars Angelina Jolie as the well-known Disney Villain character and Elle Fanning as Princess Aurora/Briar Rose aka the Sleeping Beauty. The film is both a prequel and a re-imagining of Walt Disney’s 1959 animated adaptation of “Sleeping Beauty” and tells the story from the perspective of the antagonist, Maleficent. It is currently scheduled to be released on May 30, 2014.

Premise: The “Sleeping Beauty” tale is told from the perspective of the villainous Maleficent and looks at the events that hardened her heart and drove her to curse young Princess Aurora.

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“MUPPETS MOST WANTED” is the sequel to 2011’s The Muppets and stars Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey and Ty Burrell along with the whole Muppets gang. The Muppets find themselves unwillingly involved in an international crime caper while on tour in Europe. It is currently scheduled to be released on March 21, 2014.

Premise: Disney’s “Muppets Most Wanted” takes the entire Muppets gang on a global tour, selling out grand theaters in some of Europe’s most exciting destinations, including Berlin, Madrid and London. But mayhem follows the Muppets overseas, as they find themselves unwittingly entangled in an international crime caper headed by Constantine—the World’s Number One Criminal and a dead ringer for Kermit—and his dastardly sidekick Dominic, aka Number Two.

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“SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR” is the sequel to the 2005 film “Sin City”. Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller are sharing the duty of directing.The film stars an ensemble cast including returning castmembers Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Jaime King, Powers Boothe, Mickey Rourke, and Bruce Willis. Newcomers to the series include Eva Green, Josh Brolin, Jamie Chung, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dennis Haysbert, Marton Csokas, Julia Garner, Juno Temple, Ray Liotta, Stacy Keach, Christopher Meloni, Lady Gaga, Jeremy Piven, and Crystal McCahill. It is currently scheduled to be released on August 22, 2014.

Premise: “A Dame to Kill For” is a mixture of two of Frank Miller’s Sin City stories. Dwight, this time played by Josh Brolin, is being hunted by Ava Lord, the only woman he’s ever loved.

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“TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES” is a reboot of the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film series”, directed by Jonathan Liebesman and stars Megan Fox, Pete Ploszek, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Alan Ritchson, Danny Woodburn, William Fichtner, Will Arnett and Whoopi Goldberg. It is currently scheduled to be released on August 8, 2014.

Premise: Aliens invade Earth and inadvertently spawn a quartet of mutated reptile warriors, the Ninja Turtles, who rise up against them to defend the world.

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“TRANSCENDENCE” is a science fiction thriller film that will mark the directorial debut of long-time cinematographer Wally Pfister. The film stars Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman, Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Cillian Murphy, Cole Hauser, and Paul Bettany. It is currently scheduled to be released on April 17, 2014.

Premise: Dr. Will Caster is an artificial intelligence researcher who strives to create a machine that possesses sentience and collective intelligence. Extremists who oppose technological advancement target him, but their actions drive him toward his goal. Caster also wants to become part of the new technology, and his wife Evelyn and his best friend Max Waters, also researchers, question the wisdom of this drive. Caster’s goal to acquire knowledge becomes one to acquire power, and he seems to be unstoppable

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“THE WIND RISES” is a Japanese animated film written and directed by Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki. In fact, this is his last film ever that he will be directing. I have seen this film already and it is no question one of my favorite Studio Ghibli films. The U.S. dub voice cast includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Martin Short, Stanley Tucci, Mandy Patinkin, William H. Macy, Werner Herzog, Mae Whitman, Jennifer Grey, Darren Criss and Elijah Wood. It is currently scheduled to be released on February 21, 2014.

Premise: A look at the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the man who designed Japanese fighter planes during World War II.

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“X-MEN: DAYS OF THE FUTURE PAST” is the seventh film in the X-Men film series and follows the 1981 “Uncanny X-Men” storyline “Days of Future Past” by Chris Claremont and John Byrne. It is Directed by Bryan Singer and stars an ensemble cast including Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Ellen Page, Peter Dinklage, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Shawn Ashmore, Daniel Cudmore, Nicholas Hoult, Omar Sy, Booboo Stewart, Fan Bingbing, Adan Canto, Evan Peters, Josh Helman and Lucas Till. “Days of Future Past” acts as a sequel to both 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand and 2011’s X-Men: First Class, as well as a follow-up to 2013’s The Wolverine. It is currently scheduled to be released on May 23, 2014 in 3D.

Premise: The X-Men ensemble fights a war for the survival of the species across two time periods in X-Men: Days of Future Past. The characters from the original X-Men film trilogy join forces with their younger selves from X-Men: First Class in a battle that must change the past – to save their future.

Quentin Tarantino picks his Top 10 films of 2013…so far

Director Quentin Tarantino recently revealed his “Top 10 films of 2013 so far” with fan site The Quentin Tarantino Archives and some might be surprised by his taste in movies. Although many of his releases include highly (and deliberately superficial) violent sequences with sometimes unconventional story lines, his list illustrates that he appreciates movies of various genres. I guess it isn’t a surprise then that Woody Allen’s celebrated film Blue Jasmine is featured. More surprising however, is his choice to add Disney’s flop blockbuster The Lone Ranger featuring Johnny Depp. Below is the complete list of Tarantino’s Top 10:

  • ‘Afternoon Delight’ (Jill Soloway)
  • ‘Before Midnight’ (Richard Linklater)
  • Blue Jasmine‘ (Woody Allen)
  • The Conjuring‘ (James Wan)
  • ‘Drinking Buddies’ (Joe Swanberg)
  • ‘Frances Ha’ (Noah Baumbach)
  • Gravity‘ (Alfonso Cuarón)
  • Kick-Ass 2‘ (Jeff Wadlow)
  • The Lone Ranger‘ (Gore Verbinski)
  • This Is The End‘ (Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg)

As the rankings are in alphabetical order and not order of preference, it is hard to determine which film has made the ultimate #1 spot. Nonetheless, his selection will have an impact on film buffs and Tarantino fans all over the world. There are only a number of other directors like Tarantino that have influenced the cult and pop culture film scene like he has, with masterpieces like Pulp Fiction or his latest, Django Unchained. Iconic images and movie posters to his classics can be spotted at myriad retailers from online stores like posterlounge.co.uk to local video stores.

Quentin Tarantino’s next project still has not been confirmed but with public appearances at the Huading Awards in Macau, there may be a chance that he reveals something in a few days. A third part of Kill Bill is possible or a spin-off mix of Inglorious Bastards and Django. Sounds unfathomable, as have many of his story lines, so maybe it’s wise not to write off this rumor just yet.

Tommy Reid talks about his new documentary film “Superthief” and “I Know that Voice”

In 1972, Cleveland-based burglar and bank robber Phil Christopher helped pull off the biggest bank robbery in US history when the stole an estimated $30 million from the United California Bank.  Director Tommy Reid has turned the heist into the new documentary film, “Superthief,” which is now out on DVD.

Born in New Jersey, Tommy Reid directed his first film, “7-10 Split,” while attending Ohio State University.  His next film was the brilliant documentary about another Cleveland mobster, “Danny Greene:  The Rise and Fall of the Irishman.”  So interesting was the subject that Reid helped produce a feature film about Greene entitled “Kill the Irishman.”  His next project is the behind the scenes look at voice over actors called “I Know that Voice.”

Earlier this week Reid took time out to talk about his career.  Before the interview we talked some football – he seemed to think my Kansas City Chiefs would do well this year with new Coach Andy Reid (no relation) at the helm.  On the record we talked gangsters, making movies and the possibility of directing his sister, Tara, again (“Sharknado II” anyone?)

Mike Smith:  What drew you to highlight the United California Bank Robbery in “Superthief?”
Tommy Reid:  I went to THE Ohio State University Undergrad and a lot of my buddies in my fraternity were from the Cleveland area.  I’d go up there with them a bunch, usually over holiday weekends and summers.  I really like the Cleveland area.  And I had some buddies that were really into the mafia and they would tell me stories.  I ended up making a movie called “Kill the Irishman,” which was about the Cleveland mafia.  It’s a great movie with Val Kilmer, Christopher Walken, Paul Sorvino, Vincent D’Onofrio…the list goes on and on.  If you haven’t see it please go see it.  (NOTE:  I’d already seen it and like Mr. Reid says, it’s a great movie).  It turns out that the author of the book I optioned to make “Kill the Irishman” was also writing a book about Phil Christopher and the biggest bank robbery in US history.  The story intrigued me and I knew that was a movie right there.   The book was ok but I thought there was a lot of subject matter that needed to be expanded so I wanted to do a documentary on the subject of Phil Christopher alone…to tap into his mind how this all went down.  How did he get his training…how did he get into a career of crime?  And that’s what intrigued me.  It became a passion project.  Phil Christopher agreed to an exclusive interview and he did so with a compliment, as he really loved what I’d done with “Kill the Irishman.”  He felt why not give it a try.

MS:  That kind of answers a little bit of my second question as to why both of your documentaries deal with Cleveland crime figures.  As a filmmaker was that something you enjoyed investigating…true crime?
TR:  Yes I do.  It’s like a “whodunit” type of situation.  You always try to put the pieces together.  For me as a filmmaker I always like to see where the path went wrong…where was the fork in the road where they chose between right and wrong?  Which path did they go down?  And I think I identified that in “Superthief.”  That was the fun part for me.  To go back and look at a crime that had almost become an urban legend and to really tackle the fundamentals on how it all went down.

MS:  You’ve directed both fictional features and documentaries.  Do you have a preference?
TR:  Actually I just finished another documentary.  Documentaries are really fun.  Very fun to make.  Very fun to produce.  But there’s also something that’s really fun with working with actors.  Making a fictional feature film is very fun but very exhausting.  Working with actors is sometimes a little overwhelming.  Not only do they want to look good but they want “their” take.  The get upset at the director if they don’t use “their” take.  Which is why you never let them in the edit bay (laughs).  For the most part they’re both fun but they’re different beasts.   Of course you have a better chance of making a profit for your investors on a fictional feature film then a documentary, unless you’re doing a documentary on Justin Bieber or One Direction or something like that.  (NOTE:  Mr. Reid knows of what he speaks – this past weekend the new documentary concert film featuring One Direction brought in $17 million).  For the most part documentaries don’t really have a big impact on the market place.  They get popular from word of mouth.  From people asking “have you seen this movie” and then telling their friends to go rent it.

MS:  You turned Danny Greene’s story into a fictional feature.  Do you have any plans to do the same with Phil Christophers?
TR:  Absolutely.  We already have a script written and it’s phenomenal.  It was adapted by the writers who have a new show coming up this season on NBC.  It’s called “The Blacklist” with James Spader.  It’s a very well written and thrilling script that we have that we’re trying to raise money for to make into a feature film.

MS:  And you will be directing the film?
TR:  I will.

MS:  You’ve directed your sister, Tara, in the past.  Any plans to work together again?  And how is the relationship on set?
TR:  Tara is very professional on set so it’s always a director/actor relationship.  She took direction well and was very easy to work with, so we didn’t have that brother/sister thing on set.  Thank God.  Right now there’s no plans to work with her in the future but it’s always a possibility.  (NOTE:  Keep those fingers crossed, “Sharknado” fans!)

MS:  Final question – what are you working on next?
TR:  I just finished a movie called “I Know That Voice,” which is all about the biggest voice actors in the industry.  It covers the history of the voice actor, from Mel Blanc, who was “the man of 1,000 voices,” to the biggest stars today.  We also talk to “Simpsons” and “Futurama” creator Matt Groenig,  “Phineas and Ferb” creators Dan and “Swampy” (NOTE:  Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh) as well as vocal stars like Hank Azaria, John Di Maggio, Billy West.  Jim Cummings, who’s Winnie the Pooh.  June Foray, who’s 95.  She was the voice of Rocky the Squirrel and is still working today.  We cover everyone.  It’s an amazing movie.  It’s coming out VOD (Video on Demand) in December.  We’re planning on a one-week theatrical debut in Columbus, Ohio in November and hopefully we’ll have the DVD on the market in October.