John Doe discusses his new album “The Westerner” and his book “Under the Big Black Sun”

(Photo Credit: Jim Herrington)

John Doe is a singer, songwriter, poet and actor. He is probably best known for his work with the seminal Los Angeles punk band X which formed in the mid 1970’s. 2016 has been a busy for year for Doe as earlier this year he released his first solo album in five years titled “The Westerner” along with a book chronicling the L.A. punk scene titled “Under the Big Black Sun”. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with John recently before his performance in Ithaca, NY about the idea behind his new album and what it was like revisiting the stories contained in his book.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the new album “The Westerner”?

John Doe: My friend Michael Blake who wrote “Dances with Wolves” and several other books was like a brother to me. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and over time couldn’t remember anything. It bugged the hell out of him but we remained close through everything and I would always go up and visit him. We influenced each other a lot in art and writing. Howe Gelb and I were reconnecting around the same as I was writing songs about Michael and using him as a character. I like what Howe has done with different peoples sound as well as his own in Giant Sand. He has really refocused the sound coming out of the Tucson area. I wanted the songs to have space and reverb so working down there seemed like the natural way to go. I had the title “The Westerner” sort in my mind as someone sent me a Doors record. The Doors were also Michaels favorite band so I began looking up stuff on them and my connection with that band goes way back. I was searching the internet and found an image done for one of their record store day releases. Shepard Fairey is the artist who did the piece and he and I have been friends for some time so I asked if he would redo the piece for me and he said yes. The original photo was shot at the Rose Bud Reservation by Aaron Huey who has an organization called “Protect the Sacred”. This was one of Michael’s main charities so it was great to be able to tie all this stuff in with the album. The album is a tribute album but it’s not sad.

AL: Was the idea to do a new solo album already in your thoughts prior to Michael becoming ill?

JD: Everything happened very organically. These days I sort of sit back and look at my watch and say “Holy shit it’s been 4 years since I made a new record” (Laughs). I always am writing bits and pieces of things but it just so happened that Michael was on my mind and I started to see how things were happening and I began tailoring things with what was going on. I loved the song Exene wrote called “Alone in Arizona”. It seemed to be kind of about Michael even though it really wasn’t. I am a big fan of Chan Marshall especially her albums “The Greatest” and “Sun”. I started doing the song “A Little Help” and realized it was similar to “The Greatest” and asked Chan if she would sing on it with me. With the song “Go Baby Go” I reached out to Debbie Harry as X had toured with Blondie and I had asked her before that if I ever had something I thought she would be good for would she do it. That song is a fun rock song and it worked out great. I am very fortunate that I am still around and that people want to come and play.

AL: Having been in the music industry for some time now aside from digitalization and the internet what has been the most notable change?

JD: MTV was really big when it first came out. All the other stuff out there I don’t really concern myself with. I have Instagram and my manager does Facebook so I have a small to moderate presence with social media but if people really want to see me then I think they should come out to show as I am generally hanging around. There is so much great music out there these days that it’s hard to rise above the static. Think of the old music business like an hour glass. You had the music at the top, at the pinching point was the business at the bottom was the public. Over time the shape of the industry changes to where now it’s square. There is just so much stuff flooding people ears these days.

AL: What can you tell us about your new book “Under the Big Black Sun”?

JD: Tom DeSavia who is the co-author and my sweet heart were both telling me that I should write a book. I thought it was going to be just too much work so I didn’t really pay attention to them. One day I had this brilliant idea about how the scene in L.A. was about community and collaboration. With that I knew that I wouldn’t have to write this book all by myself or suffer the pain if people didn’t like it I could just blame it on somebody else. (Laughs) I didn’t have to be the authority on things. I liked book such as “Please Kill Me” and “We Got the Neutron Bomb” however there is not a lot of fact checking that goes into oral histories. Los Angeles was sort of a romantic place in that era so I thought it was important to have it be its own character. I really feel that everything that is Los Angeles from the weather to the cars affected the way the music sounded. After Tom and I decided to do it we got a book deal and things became real. We got paid a pretty good advance and then we knew we really had to go through with it. We started getting people together and selecting topics based on what was important to that scene and what would make people care. The big one was it was that what happened was a cultural revolution. That was Exene’s big part of the book. Dave Alvin was part of the roots scene which got pulled into punk rock so he is the expert there so, that’s where he tells his story from. Robert Lopez was in a Latino band called The Zeroes. He was not out at this time but he was obviously gay so he was able to talk about that aspect of things. Jane Wiedlin talks about where people lived and how that played a role. By doing things this way we were able to give the book a much broader perspective.

AL: The book shines a light on the L.A. punk scene as it was/is often overshadowed by what was going on in New York and London around the same time. Can you tell us a little about that?

JD: I think at some point the media picked up on The Sex Pistols and few other bands that were young and/or un-experienced who said “Fuck You”. The media then said “Ok, Fuck you” which caused them to not cover things as much. When the L.A. scene finally came around about a year and a half later they possibly had enough images and maybe had made up their mind that we weren’t going to play ball. I think bands like Blondie, Talking Heads and The Ramones just wanted to be part of music and have a career. That’s what we wanted also. It wasn’t until the hardcore scene that people felt like they had been abandoned leading to bands doing things on their own. That’s when labels like SST started popping up. Everyone had sort of a chip on their shoulder and over time L.A. punk has started to carve out its own niche which has been good. Twenty or thirty years ago I would have probably been pretty bent out of shape about how the L.A. scene was looked upon but these days I couldn’t care less.

AL: Was there a present rivalry between the two coasts/scenes because of this?

JD: Sure. I think there was a healthy rivalry between New York and L.A. and L.A. and San Francisco but it wasn’t anything to wild. I do remember Exene getting into a fight with Handsome Dick from The Dictators once. (Laughs) What we loved about the whole thing was that almost all of those bands came out to Los Angeles to play at The Whiskey. We saw The Ramones, Blondie, The Damned, Television and a few others who played out our way regularly.

AL: What was it like for X when they would travel to the east coast?

JD: It was rough at first. Exene’s sister got us three shows in NYC in 1978 after we put out our first single. We basically drove from L.A. to New York with all of our gear, played three shows and then drove home. There is a little of that in the book but it was sort of a lukewarm reception. Debbie Harry and Chris Stein came to the shows at Studio 57 and later on we got to be pals with The Ramones. It took a little while because everyone thought L.A. was just swimming pools and Farrah Fawcett. You weren’t just given a Mercedes when you moved there. It was a pretty hard scramble. It was cheap to live there at the time though so there were a lot of young people with nothing to do but create stuff.

AL: What was it like revisiting a lot of the memories from that time period, especially the ones around the time of the death of Exene’s sister?

JD: That specific event wasn’t hard to dig into as I had experienced it so deeply in the beginning. It changed everything for Exene and by relation me too. It wasn’t too hard to look back. I don’t necessarily wish I had kept diaries or anything. It might have been good? You sort of start channeling towards a certain direction and things start to come back. I think it’s all about the details. I worked with everyone who wrote for the book and I always asked for more details. I think everyone was happy to tell their story and I was surprised by quite a few of them.

AL: With your current solo tour coming to end do you have planned for the coming year?

JD: The fortieth anniversary of X is coming up next year. We have the initial schedule which consists of around one hundred shows! Usually we do between thirty and fifty shows a year so this is quite a bit more. I think it’s great! Forty years ago we put a big investment into the bank of punk rock. At the time everyone though it was bullshit but we all have been able to make pretty good careers out of that initial investment. We are one of the few remaining punk bands from that time with its original members. Everyone is healthy now which is really great. We also will be looking to put out some live material and if Exene will write some more lyrics will put out some new songs as well. (Laughs)

Concert Review: John Doe

John Doe, Anna Coogan

Friday, November 4th 2016
The Haunt, Ithaca, NY

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

John Doe founding member of the legendary Los Angeles punk band X made a stop in Ithaca, NY on November 4th as part of Cornell University’s “Punk Fest: Anarchy in the Archives” a week-long event which included various speaking panels and music performances which coincided with the opening of the Universities “Anarchy in the Archives” exhibit which showcases a vast array of rare punk artifacts. The performance was second of three performances the venue was schedule to host and fans who attended were treated to a great night of music which was highlighted by a guest appearance by X front-woman Exene Cervenka.

Little did I know when I walked through the intimate river side venue doors that on this night I was going to witness an amazing performance by not one but two! Legend’s in punk rock music. The venue was buzzing with excitement as people had heard that X front-woman Exene was in the building after being asked earlier in the day by John to perform with him. After a brief yet eclectic opening set from singer/songwriter Anna Coogan who despite battling some seasonal illness put forth a solid effort which the Ithacan crowd seemed to quite enjoy from the local artist who just returned from a tour with Alt/Country artist Johnny Dowd. After a very quick set change over the man himself John Doe was front and center where he announced his plans for the evening and confirming that Exene was in-fact in the house and that she would be performing with him this night. This announcement only further electrified the crowd as everyone in attendance now knew just how special this night was going to be. To start the set off Doe played selections from his solo career including a handful of new tracks from his recently released “The Westerner” album. Mid way through the performance Doe welcomed up his X cohort Exene to the dimly lit stage. The long time collaborators then proceeded to take the evening to the next level. Though the portion of the set with Cervenka was impromptu the two veterans armed only with one acoustic guitar and their voices delivered a mesmerizing performance that went off as though they had done it hundreds of times before. Much like their work in X the duos haunting voices complimented one another and despite the minimal instrumentation the music was equally if not more powerful in its raw form.

Doe took the stage like a pro and with the help of his long time band partner Exene Cervenka held the Ithaca crowd in the palm of their hands.

Be sure to check out our exclusive interview with John Doe in the interview section of the site.

Singer/Guitarist John Corabi talks about the latest release from The Dead Daisies “Make Some Noise”

For over 20 years singer/guitarist John Corabi has been recording and performing with a number of hard rock acts ranging from Union and ESP to being the replacement for Motley Crue vocalist Vince Neil for a period of time in the mid 90’s. Since that time Corabi has embarked on a successful solo career and also joined the group The Dead Daisies a group whose current lineup also includes Marco Mendoza, Doug Aldrich, Brian Tichy and David Lowy. Media Mikes spoke with John recently about The Dead Daises upcoming album titled “Make Some Noise” which is due out on August 5th and also about the groups upcoming U.S. Tour with Kiss.

Adam Lawton: You joined The Dead Daisies in 2015. What has the first year of being in the band been like for you thus far?

John Corabi: It has been crazy! I got the call originally from Marco as they had been working with someone prior to me and things weren’t working out. They had plans to go over to Cuba and they asked me if I would be willing to go with them. I went and did that and we had an amazing time there. I think that was sort of a way for the guys to feel me out a bit. I think they wanted to see if I was a good fit or not. After that trip I got a call from the guys asking if I wanted to go to Australia and do an album. We got together in March of last year and wrote and recorded the “Revolucion” album in about 33 days. After flying home from that I did some solo shows with my band and the next thing I know I was in California doing a video with guys and also rehearsing for some upcoming European shows with Kiss. We then came back and did a run with Whitesnake after which we went back to Australia with Kiss. We then did the Kiss cruise and went back to Europe again but this time with Whitesnake. I got home at the end of December and by January of this year we were back in the studio working on the new record “Make Some Noise”. Things have been pretty busy. When I’m not out with The Daisies I’m out with my solo band which has a live album coming out in October.

AL: What has the addition of Doug Aldrich been like for the band?

JC: When Dizzy Reed and Richard Fortus got the call to go do the Guns N’ Roses tour we reached out to Doug. He is a really great player who has just jumped right in. I have known Doug since he was about 17 as we grew up in Philadelphia together. With this band it’s about friendship as we all hang out and have known each other for a long time. Doug was able to step in to that as he has a great sense of humor to go along with his amazing playing and song writing ability. With this new record we wanted to go in and do a straight forward 70’s era type rock album. All the guys in the band have similar influences so for us to be able to go in and do that with the addition of Doug was really great.

AL: How did the writing for “Make Some Noise” compare to that of your previous album with the band?

JC: When you bring in a different member things do change a little. Doug fits in with everyone and we all have similar interest so that certainly helped. I think the biggest difference with the new record wasn’t really anything with the guitars but it was more so the fact that we didn’t add keyboards this time around. That allowed the guitars more room to be a little more aggressive. David Lowy made that decision as doing a band similar to the style of AC/DC was his original idea for the band. When Richard and Dizzy left it was decided not to replace them so Doug and David had a little more space to expand on their parts in each song.

AL: Do you prefer working on material that is more stripped down and straight forward as opposed to something with a lot of layers and instrumentation?

JC: I think the song really dictates how much or how little it needs. There was one song we did that we didn’t end up putting on the album that I want to put on my new solo album that had a lot of stuff going on within it. When we looked at what we had this song didn’t really fit in with the others because they are all very straight forward. Again the song really decides what it needs in the way of production. I think back to the first album I did with Union which is a pretty stripped down album as that’s what most of those songs required but there is one on that recorded titled “Let It Flow” which has a bunch of cool over dubs and instrumentation on it because that’s what it sort of dictated.

AL: How was it working with producer Marti Frederiksen this time around?

JC: I had known Marti since he opened for my band The Scream in the early Nineties. I always sort of kept an eye on his career. I realized when he started working with groups like Brother Cane and Aerosmith that he was going to do a lot of cool stuff. We were looking for not just a producer but also someone who understood the writing process and would actually listen to what we were doing with a fresh set of ears. Marti was very open to suggestions throughout the process. We have all been making records for quite some time now so things worked well. We would just record things and if for some reason if something didn’t work we would just take it out after the fact. Marti was great in that he knew when to reel us in and also we to let us keep going. It was a two way street that worked pretty effortlessly.

AL: Can you tell us about the bands upcoming tour with Kiss and any other plans you and the band have scheduled?

JC: We start in the states with Kiss on August 10. Those guys have been really great to us. The shows are going to be very high energy. I am not sure how long we are going to be playing just yet but no matter how long we play its going to be pedal to the metal. We plan to do a mix of both old and new material along with a few covers to get the crowd riled up. That tour goes through mid September then we have a headlining show set in Los Angeles. After that I start rehearsals with my solo band and then we go out on the Monsters of Rock Cruise. From there The Daisies head over to Japan for the Loud Park Festival and we are booked all the way through December. We will be hitting a bunch a places all over.

For more info on John Corabi and The Dead Daisies be sure to head over to http://www.thedeaddaisies.comand also www.johncorabimusic.com

 

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A Tribute To John Lennon Benefits Local Families Living with Disabilities

Imagine John, a benefit concert for Lift Disability Network, will be performed Saturday, May 21st at 6:00pm on the lawn of The Bear Club at Keene’s Point in Windermere, FL.

Lift Disability Network’s desire is to elevate life in the disability family. Their passionate mission is to inspire individuals and families living with disabilities to discover a new vision for their future. They do this through camps, community events and groups and family care. The Imagine John benefit concert, hosted by Promoting People, will raise funds to help Lift Disabilities provide a permanent home for their outreach and service activities in the West Orange County community.

The artist, Carm Castiglione is a versatile singer and songwriter. He was been performing in cover bands for over three decades, and has impersonated artists such as Maurice Gibb (Bee Gees), John Lennon and Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) across North American venues. He writes and produces audio for film and licensing placements as well as arranges and composes Classical sheet music. Castiglione is also a secondary school music educator in Canada.

Tickets are available for $40.00 online at liftdisability.net/imagine-john/ or at the door the night of the event. Attendees are encouraged to bring a blanket or lawn chair. Light hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be available for purchase.

Come enjoy a great evening of music and fun and elevate life in the disability community at the same time.

When:              Saturday, May 21, 2016 | 6:00 PM
Where:             The Golden Bear Clubhouse at Keene’s Point
Tickets:            General Admission:  $40      
https://liftdisability.net/event/imagine-john/

Reserve your tickets: (407) 228-8343 at the door May 21, 2016.

 

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Howie Fields and “Big” John Wallace discuss music and Harry Chapin

As much as I admire many of the actors, musicians, ball players and others that I’ve grown up watching, I’ve only cried at the death of four of them:  John Lennon, because it was so senseless; Roy Scheider, because he was my friend; Ron Santo, because he was my first “idol” and Harry Chapin… just because.

When I was 13, Chapin’s song Cats in the Cradle came out.  It struck a chord in me that I never forgot.  It was almost like Harry was singing about my father and me.  My son is going to be 31 later this month, and that song still rings true.  Where I was once the little boy that wanted to spend more time with his dad, now I’m the father who has to accept that my son now has a family of his own.  As I got older I became a fan of Harry Chapin’s music and I was crushed when he was killed 34 years ago today, July 16, 1981.

Today, Harry’s music is still being played, the torch being carried by his brothers Tom and Steve and the members of Harry’s band.  I recently asked drummer Howie Fields and bass player “Big” John Wallace a few questions about Harry Chapin and his music.

Mike Smith:  What were your musical backgrounds before joining up with Harry?
Howie Fields: Drum lessons at age 15 followed by a parade of teenage basement and garage bands playing Beatles, Stones. Rascals, Dylan, Kinks, Hollies, Who, etc. Better bands WITH PAY in my college years leading up to my entry into Harry’s band in 1975.
John Wallace:  I started out as a vocalist in the Grace Church Choir in Brooklyn, New York, where I met Harry and the other Chapin brothers.  I dabbled with the bass guitar in my teen years and my first public appearance on bass was in my teens when Harry asked me to perform his songs with him in people’s homes in Brooklyn. Fast forward approximately 10 years when he asked me to join his band.

MS:  When did you join the band?
HF: 1975
JW: I was a founding member, 1972.

MS: How was Harry to work with – was he open to collaboration when working out his songs with the group?
HF:  That ran the gamut. Sometimes Harry would run down a new song or two and ask us to come up with some ideas during concert sound checks (which he rarely attended) and at other times he would come in with a song and have very precise ideas. The rest of the time it would be pretty equitable collaboration in the recording studio.

MS:  Is there a favorite song you enjoyed playing live?
HF:   “Mercenaries,” “Odd Job Man,” “The Mayor Of Candor Lied”
JW:  Too many to choose from.

MS:  Do you have a favorite memory you’d like to share?
HF:   Quite notably for me, within the run of the show (NOTE – in early 1975 Harry and the band performed on Broadway in a show titled “The Night That Made America Famous” with words and music by Harry.  The show went on to earn two Tony Award nominations), was the night of March 1, 1975. Both Saturday performances were completed and Harry entered the band dressing room and asked Big John if he would come with him to attend the Grammy Awards ceremony at The Uris Theater for which he had one extra ticket and for which he had been nominated as Best Male Vocalist for “Cat’s In The Cradle”. He was also performing the song that night but John politely declined. Harry then put the ticket up for grabs and only after it appeared no one else was taking, I found myself in a cab with Harry, his wife Sandy, and his dad Jim, rushing over to the Grammy’s which had already begun. We entered the building and as we approached the doors leading from the lobby into the actual theater, a young usher (about 20) noted that Harry was overburdened with a guitar (not in its case), a leather bag, and one or two other items. He offered to take the guitar which Harry gladly gave up and then, somehow, as the usher was holding the guitar and at the same time attempting to open the door to the theater for us, he simultaneously dropped the instrument and tripped in such a way that one of his feet came down right on the guitar. So…there the guitar lay…smashed on the ground. It happened in a nano-second and it wasn’t pretty. All I remember at that point was Harry putting his arms around this devastated and horrified kid, saying “Don’t worry about it bro”. He could be like that.

MS:  Harry was killed on his way to perform at a benefit concert.  Did that show ever go on?
HF:  No, that show did not occur but one year later the band plus Tom Chapin did a memorial show on the same stage in Eisenhower Park in Long Island.

MS: Are you amazed that, three decades after he passed away, Harry’s music continues to gain new fans?
HF:   I am, as it’s pleasantly remarkable to me that Harry’s music has endured AND in many circles/families has been passed down to younger generations. The variety of age groups are evident at many of our concerts.

Rock and roll fans take notice:  I first “met” Howie when I was working on a screenplay about Harry’s life.  I contacted Howie and asked him if he had any idea what the set list was at Harry’s last show.  He sent me a copy of it.  Not a list of the songs, but a copy of the actual set list.  Howie runs a web site called “Rock Paper” and I’ll let him tell you about it:

HF:   Rock Paper is a business I have had going for over 20 yrs. It’s an archives of rock music and its two main entities are a complete archives of Rolling Stone magazine, whereby ANY article, record review, concert review, advertisement EVER published in the magazine can be located. Rock Paper has over 10,000 back issues o the magazine going back to the issue #1 (1967). There are also thousands of other back issues available of other classic rock magazines….Crawdaddy, Circus, Creem, etc, etc, etc,

It also has an archive of concert ads cut from newspapers from NYC & the UK.

You can search for whatever you’re looking for at www.RockPaper.net.

All photos copyright www.harrychapin.com

 

Director John Maclean and Stars Kodi Smit-McPhee and Ben Mendelsohn talk about “Slow West”

Slow West held its New York premiere on April 19th at the SVA Theater during the 14th annual Tribeca Film Festival. Writer and director John Maclean joined stars Kodi Smit-McPhee and Ben Mendelsohn in speaking with me about the Michael-Fassbender-lead western on the red carpet.

Ben Mendelsohn is a renowned Australian actor who in Slow West takes on the larger-than-life role of Payne. Payne, in his oversized furry coat, is the leader of a vicious gang that Fassbender’s character Silas used to run with, and like his character, Mendelsohn seemed a bit bitter at the abandonedment of his gang-mate…

Lauren Damon: Can you discuss the relationship of Silas and Payne
Ben Mendelsohn: Okay, so Silas and Payne rode together back in the day and Silas essentially decided he was gonna go his own way–you know, he’d had enough, like ‘Yeah yeah, I’ve got what I wanted, I’m off doing my own thing’ Which, when you think about it is sort of a really punk move, you know? Because essentially Payne you know, gave this guy A LOT. Now, I’m not saying Silas isn’t a talented man, he is. But basically, he packed up and he got his tail between his legs and off he ran. And you know, time’s come now where our paths  have crossed again and [Silas]’s got this fine little bounty he’s traveling around with and really I just wanna know what’s up with that? Are we gonna share this spoil? Or are you gonna TRY and take it all for yourself? Or are you gonna try and be “a good boy”? So that’s a lot of what that’s about.

 

LD: And how did you all develop the look of Payne?
Ben: Oh the coat is genius. The very talented wardrobe lady [Kirsty Cameron] had it made and showed me all the pictures of trappers and what not from that period with these massive coats on. So once you put that coat on and that hat and you’ve got the tattoos, the rest of it’s a cake walk.

 

LD: How was it to shoot in NZ and with that wardrobe?
Ben: It was…yeah, it’s really crazy open wide spaces. It’s very desolate, it’s harsh. It’s a harsh sort of enviroment but very beautiful too. New Zealand’s a great place to shoot, it’s really got an extraordinary array of you know, locations and looks and feels…it’s all there. It’s a beautiful place to shoot.

 

LD: What attracted you to the film? I mean for a western it had a sense of humor about it too that I didn’t expect at all.
Ben: Yeah, I wasn’t sure how that would go. Michael Fassbender had started with John Maclean and they’d done a couple of short films and essentially the fact that you know that Michael Fassbender had sort of backed this to the degree he did was a very good sign. I’d seen his short films that John Maclean had done and they had something. You know, you could feel there was something there, western, it felt pretty cool. It felt like a good bit of fun with a decent chance of it working.

 

Director John Maclean had previously worked with Michael Fassbender on the short film Pitch Black Heist, which was shown at the 2012 Tribeca Film Fest.
LD: Can you talk about how you initially came to work with Michael Fassbender, what drew you to him or him to your work?
John Maclean: I think it was around the time that he was shooting with Tarantino [on Inglourious Basterds], I knew his agent. And his agent had given Michael some of my early short films I was making on my own. Michael saw something in them, came to me and said you know, if you want to do something, I’ll give up a day. So we started working together there.

 

LD: And when you approached this script, there’s a lot of dark humor in it—did you primarily come at it as a comedy or a western first?
John: I think, like my favorite films—I mean you look at a film like Fargo and it’s not a comedy, it’s not a thriller—I think some of the films I’m interested in, I think you just have to try and be truthful. And like life, comedy comes in to sad moments and sadness comes in to comedy moments.

 

LD: And it’s unconventional that your young romantic lead, his love interest doesn’t actually like him like that back!
John: I think “spoilers” here!

LD: I know, I’m sorry, my review says he’s been friend zoned
John: I just I mean, maybe that was from personal experience (laughs) when I was younger. But that’s what happens with young boys, I think. I guess it was for personal experience actually but um, I think he was never right for her. I think she was always more practical and he always too much of a dreamer. So from the beginning, I guess it’s doomed.

 

LD: How do you describe the back story between Payne and Silas?
John: Yeah, I think that’s the hard thing with wanting to make a shorter film—you can’t branch out into too many of the backstories but…I just imagined that the wild west, there wasn’t that many people at that time. So people sort of crossed paths much more often than you’d expect. I imagine they travelled together and [Silas] was part of Payne’s gang and then didn’t like the senselessness of some of the violence and left and went to go alone and Payne’s trying to draw him back into it.

 

Kodi Smit-McPhee was recently cast as Nightcrawler in next year’s X-men: Apocalypse, seeing as his previous film co-starred Nicholas Hoult (“Beast”) and this one he shared the screen with Fassbender (“Magneto”) I had to ask about joining them as mutants.

Lauren Damon: Have you contacted your past coworkers here for advice on joining the X-Men?
Kodi Smit McPhee: I haven’t contacted them yet. So we got Nicholas Hoult, Ty Sheridan and Michael Fassbender whom I know well. And I really can’t wait to get on set and work with them. And I haven’t said a word to them.

 

LD: What’re you most looking forward to about playing Nightcrawler?
Kodi: I really love the warmth that comes with the passion behind his character. And the novelty within just the tradition of him. I don’t necessarily have a desire to bring new things to it, but just show the world that they love.

 

LD: And are you familiar with Alan Cumming’s take on it from X2?
Kodi: Yes, absolutely. Usually, I mean if I don’t need to–like for Let Me In, I didn’t look at Let the Right One In–but for something like this, I thought it  was right to just find all the roots, you know, see how Nightcrawler evolved into who he is now.

 

LD: If you could choose your own X-power what would it be?
Kodi: I would love to physically, and within my own body, be able to travel back and forth and time. See how the history and the future plays out.

 

LD: Back onto Slow West, I was rewatching The Road recently and I saw your character there sort of as the young optimist to an older guide, like Jay in this film, did you feel that connection there?
Kodi: Absolutely and maybe in fact this whole story itself and the concept of a western story, it was very much like that. Like desolate and moving towards something hopeful. So yeah I really loved that idea and that was never intentional, but I guess it’s something that I’m just great at expressing and hopefully with Nightcrawler, I can move onto other things.

Next week: A more in-depth discussion with John and Kodi, meanwhile, you can check out my review of Slow West here.

Jamie Bamber talks about new role in “John Doe: Vigilante”

Most audiences are familiar with actor Jamie Bamber from his role as Apollo on the acclaimed television series “Battlestar Galactica” and its accompanying films. I was a huge admirer of his work on the UK version of “Law and Order.” This week Mr. Bamber appears as a man on trial for 33 serial killings in the new film, “John Doe: Vigilante.” While taking a break at home (with his dog) we spoke about the film and the change of pace casting.

Mike Smith: Hello and a belated Happy Birthday (Mr. Bamber recently turned 42 on April 3rd)
Jamie Bamber: That’s very kind, thank you.

MS: “John Doe: Vigilante” is such a change of pace role for you. What drew you to the project?
JB: Definitely it was the script. I just thought it was such an unusual script. It definitely addresses the view of the audience…without hitting them over the head and railroading them into having an outraged, bloodthirsty, justice-seeking mob opinion. I found the subject to be very threatening to society and civilization and goodness and everything like that. But then it shifts on you. Just as you’re being pulled into this mob response and losing your faith in justice, it changes your view on what that view is. It makes you feel reprehensible for going there. And I think it really does do that. When you watch the film… (Mr. Bamber’s dog starts barking) Sorry (more barking and whispering). Sorry. It was that very unusual script that drew me to the story.

MS: You’ve played quite a few likable characters in the past. Was the kind of character John Doe is part of your decision in taking the role?
JB: Definitely. You’re quite right. I’m often offered roles that are the decent guy in an extraordinary position. Actually, when I looked at this, I thought “this is an opportunity to do something very different.” And I thought that the guy was fundamentally a decent guy who ended up going on a very unusual journey. Some awful things have happened to him in circumstance and he has lost his moral anchor. But the places he goes to – the dark places – the extreme isolation he experiences behind the mask and when he’s in prison – those are the opportunities to play things I hadn’t played before. And I greatly enjoyed the challenge.

MS: You’ve done quite a bit of both film and television work, do you have a preference? Do you prepare differently as an actor for a film role as opposed to a television role?
JB: They’re both so wonderfully different and yet so wonderfully the same. They both use cameras and the cameras help tell the stories but there’s something about television where you get to watch the stories unravel and go on and become more and more complex. And that also applies to the people you’re working with, too. You become a family. I mean I consider “Battlestar Galactica” one of the greatest experiences of my life. So that side of television is certainly a wonderful thing. The longevity and the continuation. And yet there’s also something amazing about telling a story from beginning to end, from A to Z, in two hours of screen time. I mean you go into the project knowing how it ends. So it may be a bit more demanding in the acting choices you make. You have to be able to tell a story in ninety minutes.

MS: You’ve also voiced a few video games. Is that another “type” of acting as well?
JB: I love doing voice work. I love doing that, it’s great. I love trying to communicate the scene only through the spoken voice. I’d like to do more. I’d like to do a motion capture game, I think that would be interesting.

MS: What do you have coming up?
JB: I just finished a film in Canada called “Numb.” It’s a film I’m very proud of and I can’t wait to see. I also just finished “The Better Half,” which is a romantic comedy which should be out later this year or early next year. I’m keeping busy with different things. No long-running TV show at the moment but I’m keeping busy.

DVD Review “John Doe: Vigilante”

Starring: Jamie Bamber, Lachy Julme and Sam Parsonson
Directed by: Kelly Dolen
Rated: R
Released by: ARC Entertainment
Release date: April 14, 2015
Running time: 1 hour 33 mins

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

Vigilante films have been around for many years. The most popular, “Death Wish,” made Charles Bronson a star and spawned four sequels over 2 decades. Even more subtle films, like “The Star Chamber,” made the question of whether vigilantism is acceptable. Now a new film takes on that question, and your answer may not be what you think it is.

John Doe (Bamber) has been put on trial, charged with killing 33 people. The trial is over and the verdict is about to be read when suddenly an explosion rocks the courthouse area.

A violent film with a compelling message, “John Doe: Vigilante” is a well made, thought provoking film that asks viewers to put away their black and white definitions of right and wrong and truly ask themselves “what would you do?” The film begins with John Doe sitting down with a journalist to answer any questions he may have. John’s first crime was killing a pedophilic former priest. He videotapes the killing and sends it to the mainstream media. They run it, but edit it, so it looks like John killed an innocent old man. No mention is made of the crime or the fact that the tape contains an image of the man giving piano lessons to a young girl with his fly literally open. A woman who’s boyfriend abuses her refuses to leave him. After another horrific beating John Doe beats the man to death. Murderers who’ve escaped justice. Abusers. Rapists. Anyone who has committed a horrific crime and escaped punishment, be it by no prosecution or being released with a slap on the wrist by the court, is told to watch their backs.

Eventually John Doe grows a following, calling themselves “Speak for the Dead.” This faction begins imitating John Doe’s actions, though not as successfully as the real thing. As the interview progresses we see how the media also had a hand in promoting John Doe. A station manager says he was against running the footage supplied at first, but agreed when assured it would be exclusive.

The film is well written and well cast. Bamber, who I’m very familiar with through “Battlestar Galactica” and the UK version of “Law and Order,” steps out of the proper comfort zone he’s been in and gives a dark, yet enlightened performance. He’s an even more crafty Clyde Shelton, Gerard Butler’s character from “Law Abiding Citizen.” The direction is first rate as well, with filmmaker Dolen mixing up the source materials (film, surveillance camera, hand-held video) cleanly.

The EXTRAS are also enjoyable, featuring (2) audio commentaries by the director and screenwriter as well as one by Jamie Bamber, three “behind the scenes” featurettes and cast and crew interviews.

Concert Review: John 5 and the Creatures, Montage Music Hall, Rochester, NY

John 5 and the Creatures
Date: Saturday, March 7th 2015
Venue: Montage Music Hall, Rochester, NY

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Guitarist extraordinaire John 5 slid into the frozen tundra of Rochester, NY on March 7th to perform at the intimate Montage Music Hall. John is currently out on his first ever solo tour which coincides with his latest solo release titled “Careful with That Axe”. Though the crowd wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the guitarist who has worked with everyone from Kd Lang and David Lee Roth to Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie all were quickly wiped away.

The trio who along with John 5 includes bassist Ian Ross and drummer Roger Carter hit the stage basked in rays of red and green light before instantly launching in to the song “Flight of the Vulcan Kelly”. As the set progressed through songs like “Sin”, Jiffy Jam” and “Six Hundred and Sixty Six” 5 and company seemingly became more comfortable with the Rochester crowd and paused briefly to thank them for their support before closing out the night with John’s instrumental rendition of the Michael Jackson classic “Beat It” for closing out the night with a medley of songs ranging from AC/DC’s “Back in Black” to Iron Maidens “The Trooper” to White Zombie classic “Thunder Kiss 65”. This little medley alone made the night worth the price of admission and then some.

Though this may be John’s first tour as a solo artist he’s certainly no stranger to the stage as his 20 plus years of experience in music certainly showed as he worked the audience like a true veteran of the stage. He often signaled for crowd response or sending his guitar into the audience for them to play. Later on in the set he even brought up a fan play his guitar while he passed out high fives to those in the front row. If John 5 and the Creatures are making their way to your time in the coming month or two definitely make it a priority to get to the show as you won’t be disappointed. For those looking for something a little extra out of the night John is offering special VIP packages through www.John-5.com where you can attend sound check, meet the band along with getting some other really cool limited edition swag.

John5 Set List
1.) Flight of the Vulcan Kelly
2.) Villisca
3.) This Is My Rifle
4.) Sin
5.) El Cucuy
6.) Jiffy Jam
7.) Portrait of Sidney Sloan
8.) Guitar Solo
9.) Six Hundred and Sixty Six
10.) Mad Monster Party
11.) Young Thing
12.) First Victim
13.) Feisty Cadavers
14.) Beat It
15.) Medley

 

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John 5 talks about latest album “Careful with that Axe”

John 5 is probably best known for his work with Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie however he is also a successful solo artist who recently released his 8th solo album titled “Careful with That Axe”. The album blends a multitude of styles and sounds making the album impossible to ignore. Media Mikes spoke with John recently about the album creation, his backing band The Creatures and what fans can expect from his first ever solo tour.

Adam Lawton: What can you tell us about your latest solo album?
John 5: The latest album is titled “Careful with that Axe”. The album was recorded live so there are no punch ins or anything like that. I had an amazing band which consisted of Rodger Carter on drums and Matt Bissonnette on bass. Everything just went together real well which led to the idea of taking things out on the road. The songs all sounded really great and Rob was going to be working on a movie so the timing also worked out. The album has everything from western swing guitar to Spanish style guitar. There are also a couple Jerry Reed songs on there as well. This is really my favorite record from the ones I have done.

AL: What made you decide to cover some of Jerry Reed’s material?
J5: Everything is from childhood. Jerry Reed was someone whose music was always being played in my house. My father loved “Hee Haw” and was into guys like Chet Atkins and Jerry. One of my favorite pickers is Jerry Reed so I wanted to pay a little tribute to him and maybe educate a few people along the way about who he was.

AL: What type steps did you take during pre-production to ensure you could record each song live?
J5: I would sit with a metronome and really work at the songs to get them as tight as I possibly could on my own. I would then go in and rehearse with the guys. It was sort of like training for a fight as after those rehearsals we would go in and record it. It only took a couple hours for each song and then I would go back and mix things. It was a pretty fast recording process however preparing and getting to that point took some time. It was a challenge doing things the way we did but it I like that and it was a lot of fun.

AL: Can you give us some info on the upcoming tour?
J5: This will actually be my very first solo tour. This is a tour that is going to be very special for me. For the fans we are doing a special meet and greet package where people who purchase these will get to come to sound check and meet the band along with all the standard photos and such. You also get the super rare John 5 soda. People have been driving hundreds of miles for this stuff! We are going to be everywhere with this tour and I am very excited to get out there. We also have plans to record a live album during this tour which should be a lot of fun as well.

AL: Are you going to have the same backing band that played on the album out on the road with you?
J5: Rodger Carter will be on drums. I have known him for quite awhile and he is just a really great player. However Matt will not be out with us due to his commitments with Elton John. To find a replacement I had to go to the Musicians Institute to find someone who could play this material. I found a guy buy the name of Ian Ross who is just a monster. This band is just phenomenal.

AL: Are there plans to change any of the song arrangements for the live shows?
J5: They will pretty much have the same formula. When I would go see bands and they wouldn’t play songs the way they were on the albums it sort of bummed me out. I loved going to see bands like Rush that played exactly what you heard on the record. I just found that so cool. I tend to take that same approach and keep things pretty close to the records.

AL: You also have a new live album with Rob Zombie coming out. Can you tell us about that?
J5: This album is a completely live album. There are no overdubs what so ever. We captured the material over a couple different shows. This record really shows just how tight of a band we are. I am very proud of that fact. Rob has done an amazing job and this album came out really great. I personally enjoy live albums especially ones like that this that are true live albums. You can go back and listen to that live performance time and time again.

AL: What other projects do you have in the works for this year?
J5: We just finished work on a new Rob Zombie album. I’m not sure when it’s going to be out just yet however it’s probably one of the best Zombie albums to date. I was a big Zombie fan even before I was in the band and I feel this new album is the best one by far. I also will be working with Rob on the score for his next film “31”. Another thing I have out is a new set of signature guitar strings which are being put out by Dean Markley. I have used their strings since I was a kid so to have my own signature set is pretty cool.

CD Review: John 5 “Careful with That Axe”

John 5
“Careful with That Axe”
60 Cycle Hum Records
Tracks: 10

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

“Careful with That Axe” is the latest solo release from guitarist John 5. The 9th solo release from the former Marilyn Manson guitarist and current Rob Zombie guitarist the 10 track instrumental album covers immense musical ground as 5 and his cohorts are unleashed on your ears like bees exploding out of a freshly broken hive.

Tracks like the albums opener “We Need to Talk about John” feature Zombie like overdubs which gives the album a familiar feel right off the bat while the guitar virtuoso meticulous shreds in the back ground making you well aware of what you are in for with the following 9 tracks. The album quickly gives way to a diverse make up of material like the rockabilly tinged “Six Hundred and Sixty Six Pickers in Hell” and the in your face “Flight of the Vulcan Kelly” before traversing to the flamenco like styling’s of “El Cucuy” and the hauntingly down tuned “Portrait of Sidney Sloan”. Combine all that with two signature Jerry Reed songs “Jerry’s Breakdown” and “Jiffy Jam” which showcase John 5’s impressive picking skills and you have a very unique listen.

You don’t have to be a guitarist to enjoy the over the top instrumentation, eerie overdubs and/or crunching heavy metal rhythms as John 5’s “Careful with That Axe” speaks to everyone. The only downfall I could find worth noting with this release was that there were only 10 tracks as John 5 and company left me wanting more.

Track Listing:
1.) We Need to Have a Talk about John
2.) This is My Rifle
3.) Flight of the Vulcan Kelly
4.) Jerry’s Breakdown
5.) Six hundred and Sixty Six Pickers in Hell
6.) Portrait of Sidney Sloan
7.) Jiffy Jam
8.) Villisca
9.) El Cucuy
10.) The Dream Slayer

John O’Hurley talks about his role of Billy Flynn in the touring production of “Chicago”

Television fans know John O’Hurley as the popular J. Peterman, Elaine’s boss, on the long running show “Seinfeld.” But it is performance on another show that helps bring him to Kansas City. As a contestant during the first season of ABC’s popular “Dancing with the Stars,” O’Hurley finished in second place, losing to Kelly Monaco, an actress whose show just HAPPENED to be on ABC. Fans of the show cried foul and demanded the two have a “dance-off,” with only the fans voting for the winner. In the rematch, O’Hurley and his partner, Charlotte Jorgensen, were declared the winners, raising over $125,000 for the charity Golfers against Cancer.

Since then, O’Hurley has split his time between the stage and screen. He played King Arthur in “Spamalot” during the show’s production in Las Vegas and has played shrewd lawyer Billy Flynn in “Chicago,” both on Broadway and on the road. Well known for his voice you can hear him in such cartoons as “Buzz Lightyear of Star Command,” “Duck Dodgers,” “Phineas and Ferb” and “Spongebob Squarepants.”

This week Mr. O’Hurley reprises his role of Billy Flynn in the touring production of “Chicago.” Before opening night he took time out to talk to me about the show and his career.

Mike Smith: Welcome to Kansas City.
John O’Hurley: I feel welcome. Thank you.

MS: If the Internet Broadway Database is to be believed you literally just walked off the stage of the Ambassador Theater in New York City, where you played Billy Flynn for the last six weeks, to travel here to take the part on the road.
JO: I closed on Broadway Sunday night. I had a great time there, especially during the holidays.
MS: Wow, when they say the road shows are “direct from Broadway” they’re not kidding.
JO: (laughs) Not at all. I think I still have the same socks on.

MS: You’ve played Billy Flynn over 1500 times on stage. Do you get comfortable in a part or do you try to bring something new to your performance when you can?
JO: Every night! Every night something different will happen. I say one prayer every night before I go on stage and that is “God, let me be surprised.” And every night something different happens. If I’ve done the role 1500 times I assure you that the role is 1500 times richer since I started playing it in 2005.

MS: You are, of course, best known for your work on “Seinfeld.” Was it your appearance on “Dancing with the Stars” that led to your work in musical theater?
JO: I’ve done King Arthur in “Spamalot” over 1000 times and, of course, Billy Flynn over 1500. I think a lot of my success came about because of that show. It gave me my name back. Prior to that I was known as J. Peterman. But after 2005 I was known as John O’Hurley.

MS: You do a lot of voice work. Do you have to prepare differently as an actor for a cartoon voice as opposed to a full live performance?
JO: Right now I’m involved in about fifteen cartoons…”Spongebob,” “Fineas and Ferb” and others…but it’s a lot of fun because I have an eight-year old son and it’s nice to be able to develop a body of work that is somewhat successful to him. As far as preparing, not really. The roles are already larger than life. It’s a medium that’s very BIG. The characters are larger. Subtlety is not a part of animation.

MS: How long to you plan to stay on tour with “Chicago?”
JO: I started the tour late last year, in October and I’ll continue through the end of it, which is the end of March.

MS: Do you have anything else coming up?
JO: Yes, I have a new television series with Bryan Cranston from “Breaking Bad” that we’re working on now. We’ll be shooting later in the spring. I have a movie to do in Greece. And I’m hosting a dancing tour this summer, which will be sporadically through my vacation time. And I’m sure there will be another tour of “Chicago” next year.

 

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“The Dukes of Hazard” star Tom Wopat talks about his new Christmas album with John Schneider

It’s been a “Dukes” kind of year here at Media Mikes. Earlier this summer I spoke to John Schneider about his feature film directorial debut, the tongue-in-cheek horror film “Smothered.” This week I got to speak with the other Duke boy, Tom Wopat, who recently teamed with Schneider for an album of Christmas music entitled “Home for Christmas.” Being familiar with Mr. Wopat’s work in musical theater, as well as on country radio, I was well aware of his pipes. When we chatted before the interview he was as proud as a new parent. Rolling Stone magazine recently named “Home for Christmas” one of the ten-best holiday albums released this year and the album DEBUTED in the top 10 on Billboard’s Traditional Jazz chart. It didn’t climb to #10…it opened there! In fact, as I write this the album is “sold out” on Amazon.com Don’t fret, though. They’ll make more!

Mr. Wopat recently took some time out to talk to me about the album, further collaborations with John Schneider and his musical future. You can read my interview with John Schneider HERE

Mike Smith: How did this project come about with you and John?
Tom Wopat: We’ve always enjoyed singing together and in the past 20 years or so we’ve done a few shows. We’ve talked a lot about recording together. I had started producing as well and this just made sense. We cut a couple of songs together last December and then we finished the rest this past August.

MS: Both you and John have been very successful in the theater and in country music. Was there a reason you decided to do a Christmas album?
TW: Well, for one thing it’s kind of a perennial. You’d like to think that it will sell for a while. Another part is that we can go out and do a series of concerts every year with that material so it just made sense to do that.

MS: You’ve done a few shows already this year haven’t you?
TW: We did several. We did a show in New York, then we did a show for about 500 people in John’s barn in Louisiana and we just did one in Atlanta.

MS: It’s obvious that you and John have a great rapport. I listened to you both this past week when you were hosting on Sirius Radio. Is there anything else you two want to collaborate on in the future?
TW: We’ve talked about doing a movie. John has a lot of projects he’s developing…he’s putting together a movie studio in Louisiana…so hopefully he’ll give me a call one of these days and I’ll go down there and do something with him. And I’ve got some ideas for future albums. We finance them ourselves so hopefully this one will do well so we can finance others.

MS: I actually spoke with John this summer to promote his horror film “Smothered.” If Catherine Bach sings I’ll be able to talk to all of the Duke cousins!
TW: (laughing) There you go!

MS: What do you have coming up? Are you going back on stage soon?
TW: Those things just come along suddenly…I very rarely get much lead time on that. The only thing I can plan on is some upcoming dates with my band. We’ll be on Long Island in April and in Indiana in August. But I’m sure between next Thanksgiving and Christmas we’ll have ten or fifteen appearances planned. I’m also getting ready to do another solo record and there’s talk of myself, two women and a little jazz group going out on tour and performing the music of Woody Allen films…pretty much some great standards.

MS: Really? That would be right in your wheelhouse.
TW: Yeah, that would be a good one.

Enter to Win Blu-ray “Reclaim” Starring John Cusack And Ryan Phillippe [ENDED]

To celebrate the release of “Reclaim”, starring John Cusack And Ryan Phillippe, hitting Blu-ray and DVD, we are happy to be giving a Blu-ray from the film. If you want to win one of these great prizes, please leave us a comment below or send us an email with your favorite John Cusack film. 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.

When the newly adopted daughter of American couple Steven (Phillippe) and Shannon (Lefevre) goes missing while the family is abroad, they quickly discover that all is not what it seems with the adoption agency – and find themselves in a fight for their lives when they encounter Benjamin (Cusack) and Reigert (Weaver), the culprits behind a high-stakes human-trafficking ring. To expose the truth and save their daughter, Steven and Shannon will have to risk everything…including their lives.

Film Review “John Wick”

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyquist and Alfie Allen
Directed By: David Leitch and Chad Stahleski
Rated: R
Running Time: 101 minutes
Summit Entertainment

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

An east coast kingpin by the name of Viggo (Nyquist) is furious. He’s just learned that the owner of a body shop struck his only son in the face. He’s called the owner to fume. He inquires about why the lowly proprietor would even think about laying a hand on his son. The man quickly retorts, “Your son stole John Wick’s car and killed his dog.” Viggo’s face quickly turns from anger to one of ominous regret and he quietly says, “Oh…”

John Wick (Reeves) is an unstoppable, former assassin, whose reputation is known throughout every little nook and cranny of the criminal underworld. Thing is though, he retired from his position as a contract killer, to settle into a normal life. Sadly that’s just not his destiny. His wife has recently passed, but before she died, she left Wick a memento of their love, an adorable puppy. The somber Wick quickly takes a liking to the pup that licks at his face and jumps with joy at the very sight of him. Wick also has another love in his life, his muscle car. He’s a complex man with simple pleasures. Before attempting normalcy with the love of his life, he was known as the guy you hire to kill the Boogeyman. So you can see why Viggo is less than thrilled that his numbskull son would even think about laying a hand on Wick, much less kill the last thing he had to remember his wife.

“John Wick” is slick, cool and fun as hell. It’s such a crowd pleaser, you would have suspected that a shoot-em up that’s so self-aware about its own gimmick would have been released against more tame summer action movies like the “Expendables 3”. The plot is alert to the fact that Wick is a larger than life character whose life and exploits exceed the length of the movie. That’s why were given so many verbal and visual cues that he’s a relentless machine that doesn’t stop until all the necessary blood has been spilt.

Leitch and Stahleski have spent their whole life performing stunt work and that really helps add to the craft of filming some of the more intimate hand-to-hand combat scenes. Writer Kolstad would appear to be an avid comic book/video game fan since his script relies so heavily on very little plot and first person shooter invincibility for Wick. I mean, he does get injured, but no real human being could shrug off a gaping wound and continue to tumble around like an acrobat. If there’s any marks against Kolstad in his fairly young career, it’s that he has an inability to find a correct time to wrap things up and allowed couple of lulls in what was a brute force adrenaline fueled movie.

There’s so much blood and violence, that the Reeves affable qualities make the more gruesome scenes light hearted in its own regard. Wick isn’t really a hero, but any time some Russian thugs senselessly kill a puppy, you’re going to have a lot of audience members eagerly awaiting revenge. What makes Wick pleasant is that he also doesn’t appear to take any kind of joy from killing, but views it as a way to rectify a universal wrong. Instead of shooting carelessly into a crowd, he waits for a clear shot, as to not harm any innocents. He also doesn’t want to kill anyone he doesn’t have to. If you’re looking for a sick, but pleasurable viewing experience, “John Wick” is your best bet.

 

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