Film Review: “The Old Man and the Gun”

THE OLD MAN AND THE GUN
Starring: Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek
Directed by: David Lowery
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hr 33 mins
Fox Searchlight
 
Jesse James. Cole Younger. Billy the Kid. Bonnie and Clyde. All were criminals who robbed and murdered their way into history thanks to being turned into distorted Robin Hoods by dime store novels, bleeding newspaper headlines, and eventually a variety of movies. The supposed glory days of stickup artists arguably ended by the time the 1940s rolled around, yet one man named Forrest Tucker (1920-2004), who had a flair for the dramatic, probably stole more than all the aforementioned bandits combined. His life of crime, which began at the age of 15, is detailed in the current drama “The Old Man and the Gun,” starring Robert Redford in the alleged last acting gig of his career. Redford goes out with a bang in a performance that is charming and engrossing.
 
Written and directed by David Lowery (“Pete’s Dragon,” “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”), “The Old Man and the Gun” is based upon a January 27, 2003 article of the same name in “The New Yorker” by American journalist David Grann. Like the title implies, we meet Tucker in his older years when he should be enjoying retirement somewhere sunny or at the very least staying out of trouble with the law. However, we quickly discover that Tucker cannot give up the thing he loves the most no matter what his age is. With fellow thieves Teddy (Danny Glover) and Waller (Tom Waits) in tow as part of what the press dubs the Over the Hill Gang, Tucker continues a nationwide bank heist spree in 1981 that garners the attention of detective and family man John Hunt (Casey Affleck). Hunt and Tucker are complete opposites of each other, but there is a bit of mutual respect as a cat-and-mouse game evolves before Hunt’s case is taken over by the feds.
 
In the middle of it all, Tucker encounters Jewel (Sissy Spacek), a single woman with a small horse farm in the country. He beguiles her with his charm, which Redford fleshes out effortlessly in scenes not only with Spacek, but also in scenes when Tucker is holding up banks with smiles and courtesy. Their chemistry on the silver screen is tangible and watching these two acting masters at work is a special cinematic treat to be savored like a fine wine. Of course, their relationship becomes more complicated when she discovers his real line of work, which is growing increasingly perilous as he continues to take chances despite mounting press coverage of his crimes.
 
Lowery has crafted a wonderful little film that flows smoothly from beginning to end with great acting and solid dialogue. Waits is subtly fantastic as a hardened tough guy while Glover quietly plays a worrywart and Affleck is solid in a nice supporting role. Beneath the entertaining Hollywood veneer, though, is a man who was in and out of jail his entire life, which included 18 alleged successful escapes from various detention centers and prisons. The film glides by how many lives were adversely affected by Tucker’s criminal activities and it only gives a brief nod to what happened to his family. Much like the dime store novels of the 19th century, “The Old Man and The Gun” sentimentalizes Tucker by taking a lot of dramatic license with reality. So much so that Tucker achieves a certain level of sympathetic status that whitewashes the fact he was a habitual criminal.

Positron’s Voyager VR Chair Takes Off with First Man

Positron CEO Jeffrey Travis

It’s safe to say I will try anything when it comes to new theatrical experiences. I’ve always loved Lincoln Square’s IMAX screenings, I’ve seen entire Broadway plays done in binaural audio (that’s “3D” sound) and even shelled out extra ticket money to see a favorite film in 4DX once or twice. So I was excited to try out Positron’s Voyager Chair, a VR experience which is being deployed to several theater celebrating the release of Universal’s First Man. Guests heading out to several AMC locations across the nation have not only the chance to just see the Damian Chazelle film, which is released on October 12th, but to take a small excursion to the moon themselves.

I got to try out the Voyager chair on Tuesday both with the First Man VR experience as well as a seasonally-appropriate horror short called “Night Night” and was really impressed with the level of immersion, from the spatial audio to truly being able to look in all directions within my headset. My First Man mission even had an animated co-pilot! Best of all, the Voyager chair itself, whose design looks straight out of Men In Black, was actually pretty comfortable and even after these two shorts I felt no sort of motion sickness, which I was wary of considering 3D films can give me a headache.

Positron’s CEO Jeffrey Travis was in New York this week with the Voyager to talk about the potential that this technology presents to cinematic VR experiences.

Lauren Damon: Was this pod created just for First Man?

Jeffrey Travis: No, we created this to be a platform for cinematic VR in general. So the first kind of wider public experience was we did The Mummy with Universal. So we’ve done three experiences with Universal–The Mummy, Jurassic World and First Man. It was all really cool. But there’s a lot of other studios and places that we use these with. The idea is to create ultimately VR cinemas.

LD: Is the goal here to get whole theaters of these?

JT: Yeah! So we can do theaters with this. Mini ones of twos or threes and we actually set that up here at Pod hotels here in Brooklyn. It’s open to the public. We have pairs of chairs at AMC theaters here in New York at Lincoln Square, San Francisco, DC, LA, but eventually we’re going to be putting this in permanent installations and creating VR theaters of 30-40 chairs and people could buy a ticket and come for an experience that’s either like something of what you’ve just experienced or longer. Somewhere from a half hour to an hour.

LD: Yeah because how long can you view it without feeling it too much?

JT: Yeah we talk about that. I think the ideal length is about half an hour for cinematic VR. I think longer than that, the headsets can get a little heavy on some people. But those are being made by companies like Facebook and Samsung and Microsoft and HP and they’re getting better all the time. So I think we will be able to have 90 minute VR experiences. But right now a half hour feels like a very full meal.

LD: What would the price point be in terms of ticketing?

JT: So probably around—it depends on experience—but probably averaging around $30.

LD: That price is actually similar to they have those “4D[x]” theaters here, what are your thoughts on those?

JT: We do get asked about that. I think it’s still fundamentally different. You know, to me the 4D movie theater, you’re adding some sensory effects that compliment the 2D screen experience. Which is fine and good, but what we’re trying to do here is really bring VR to where you forget about the screen, you even forget about the motion…So it’s almost like you don’t notice it’s happening. You should just feel like you’re actually in the story. That’s kind of the goal, not just a little enhancement but something that’s integrated.

LD: How much testing goes into something like this? How much time does it take to produce?

JT: It really depends on the piece but it goes through a lot of testing. Several months. This next piece that we’re working on is called “Shady Friend,” a VR comedy starring Weird Al Yankovic. It’s a psychedelic comedy that uses scent as well and it’s about a guy that accidentally takes this latest designer drug and goes on this crazy LSD trip. So we’re using motion, haptics and scent and it’s in post-production right now, we shot in July, and it will probably be ready by January. About six months.

LD: When did you start working on this particular First Man experience?

JT: First Man, so that was produced by Ryot and CreateVR and they started actually just two months ago. It was a very accelerated schedule. Which is a little more unusual.

LD: Was all that footage created for this VR?

JT: So obviously the stuff you’re seeing in Mission Control and on the screens is from the film, but then everything else for the VR experience had to be created from scratch. The films assets are mostly 2D and we needed to create these 3D volumetric environments like the moon.

LD: Are you going to get Ryan Gosling to try this out?

JT: I hope so! We had them at the premiere of First Man in the space there. So he was there, I didn’t get a word whether he did it or not. I know the producers of First Man got in there.

LD: There’s definitely a push to add more to theaters considering how much is available for home streaming, do you see this as adding to that?

JT: That’s the idea. I think that movies are certainly in the US and North America, struggling with people going to the box office because they’d often rather stay at home and stream on Netflix. So I think part if the appeal for this is that hey, this is an experience you really can’t get at home. At least not yet. And this brings people out to the movies or at least out to our locations and experiences.

LD: What other films will be having similar tie-in experiences like this?

JT: I mean there’s some coming we can’t really talk about, because they’re not really announced yet. But we’re working working with several other studios besides Universal on some titles and we’ll be announcing as we can.

Positron’s Voyager Chair is offering First Man experiences through October 14th at AMC Theaters in NY’s Lincoln Square, DC’s Georgetown 14, San Francisco’s Metreon 16 and LA’s Universal Citywalk locations

“CGI just doesn’t cut it for me, man!” Blindspot’s Heidi Schnappauf Speaks About Stunt Work

Heidi Schnappauf at Sword Class NYC

When Blindspot enters its fourth season this Friday on NBC, it will of course be bringing the action that has garnered the series multiple Emmy nominations for Outstanding Stunt Coordination. While last year burst onto the scene with, amongst other things, Jane Doe and Co in a tank, this year’s premiere has taken Jane (Jaimie Alexander) to Tokyo where she engages in some impressive swordplay with a new adversary. Behind Jane’s hardest hits is Alexander’s stunt double, Heidi Schnappauf, who has been with the show from the first season. Speaking with me at New York Comic Con*, Jaimie Alexander said of Heidi: “Just the hits she takes, the body slams…I don’t know how she’s OK. Half the time I’m terrified for her because she does a lot of the heavy lifting in the fights…And she’s just incredible, she’s an incredible lady.”

Besides Blindspot Schnappauf has an impressive credits list that includes Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Broad City and Orange is the New Black. I was lucky enough to speak with Heidi about her action-packed job this past weekend when Warner Brothers sent us along with her and Jaimie to, fittingly, a beginner Kendo sword lesson!

Lauren Damon: How long have you been with the show?

Heidi Schnappauf: I’ve been with the show all the four seasons, however, I came in toward the end of the first season. I think episode twenty. So right at the end kind of filling in for her old double [Ky Furneaux].

LD: What are your favorite types of stunts?

HS: I love to fight. My main background was fighting. This, sword fighting, was not something I grew up with, but definitely something I picked up on the way and trained a little bit. But fighting, which includes all the falling that we do—getting thrown around—I started at such a young age that I got thrown around a lot when I was in karate as a kid, moving into college years. But I really do love all the hard hits and driving. I’ve been doing stunts driving now for about eight years. So yeah, anything where I’m maybe flying through some glass or getting thrown out of a car, I totally dig it! Any of that.

LD: Have you ever had any major injuries?

HS: I’ve had a few. Biggest injury was not on Blindspot, actually it was right before I got on Blindspot. I was recovering from my biggest injury which was I was doing a high fall and there was faulty landing equipment, it was nobody’s fault, just a one in a billion chance I ended up injuring my neck pretty badly. I was out for about ten months from work, which was a really big bummer actually. And the doctor—I was in the ER from that injury and with you know, on morphine and valium and a neck brace and tears coming out of my eyes—the doctor’s like ‘Oh I guess this is gonna put a damper on your career’ and I’m like ‘Yeah, I really know what I’m going to do next time so I don’t hurt myself’ and he’s like ‘Next time?! Are you nuts?!’…I’m like ‘Well, yeah, I’m just bummed that it’s gonna be a while!’ So that was my most devastating injury. Everyone wanted to cut me open, everyone wanted to do surgery, they wanted to replace my disc, or fuse my spine and all this stuff…I kind of basically talked to doctors until I got the answer I wanted and then I found more doctors to support that.

LD: As a viewer, what are some of your favorite films or tv shows for stunts?

HS: Um…Blindspot? [laughs]…Oh, I really like Supergirl, is that WB? I do like Supergirl. I’m not gonna lie, I don’t watch a lot of TV because I work and I sleep and I try to watch Blindspot. But I do, actually, this new season of Iron Fist is probably my favorite bit of action on tv or Netflix…Blacklist, I love Blacklist. They just have such a variety of stunts on that show. And Game of Thrones. Come on, man, you can’t deny that setting like seventy five stunt people on fire is NOT cool. From a DRAGON. It’s insane.

LD: There’s a faction out there that is pushing for a Best Stunts category at the Academy Awards, how do you feel about that?

HS: I think that’s a good idea since like every other category is out there. I mean, I don’t know how you’d delegate that but I think that’s a good start to just recognizing it. I don’t do stunts, obviously, to be recognized. I love it because I get to kind of be the magician of the action world of film and tv. You don’t really want to give your tricks away, you want to make it an illusion…most, some people I know anyway, don’t do it for the glory. It’s not really about that. It’s about making good work. I would love to see it so it’s recognized as an art and as you know, that magical things that happens isn’t actually magic. It’s people that are putting their bodies and their lives on the line to bring everyone a cool product. CGI just doesn’t cut it for me, man!

Blindspot season 4 premieres Friday October 12th at 8pm on NBC.

*Check back here this weekend to see our full chats with Blindspot stars Jaimie Alexander and Sullivan Stapleton!

Win Tickets to Advance Screening in Boston for “First Man”

Universal Pictures upcoming release FIRST MAN which opens wide on October 12th.  We will be holding an advance screening of the film on Wednesday, October 9th and are giving away tickets! Click below to get tickets, first come first serve! Good luck and like always leave a comment here after you’ve seen the film!

BOSTON

To download your complimentary passes to the FIRST MAN advance screening at AMC Boston Common on Tuesday, October 9th at 7:00pm please visit

https://tinyurl.com/FirstManBoston

SYNOPSIS
Release date: October 12, 2018
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Jason Clarke, Claire Foy, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll, Ciaran Hinds, Christopher Abbott, Patrick Fugit, Lukas Haas
Director: Damien Chazelle
Based on the Book by: James R. Hansen

On the heels of their six-time Academy Award®-winning smash, La La Land, Oscar®-winning director Damien Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling reteam for Universal Pictures’ First Man, the riveting story of NASA’s mission to land a man on the moon, focusing on Neil Armstrong and the years 1961-1969. A visceral, first-person account, based on the book by James R. Hansen, the movie will explore the sacrifices and the cost—on Armstrong and on the nation—of one of the most dangerous missions in history.

Written by Academy Award® winner Josh Singer (Spotlight), the drama is produced by Wyck Godfrey & Marty Bowen (The Twilight Saga, The Fault in Our Stars) through their Temple Hill Entertainment banner, alongside Chazelle. Steven Spielberg, Isaac Klausner, Adam Merims and Singer executive produce. DreamWorks Pictures co-finances the film. http://www.firstman.com

Win Tickets to Advance Screening in Hartford for “First Man”

Universal Pictures upcoming release FIRST MAN which opens wide on October 12th.  We will be holding an advance screening of the film on Wednesday, October 9th and are giving away tickets! Click below to get tickets, first come first serve! Good luck and like always leave a comment here after you’ve seen the film!

HARTFORD

To download your complimentary passes to the FIRST MAN advance screening at Cinema City at the Palace on Tuesday, October 9th at 7:00pm please visit

https://tinyurl.com/FirstManHartford

SYNOPSIS
Release date: October 12, 2018
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Jason Clarke, Claire Foy, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll, Ciaran Hinds, Christopher Abbott, Patrick Fugit, Lukas Haas
Director: Damien Chazelle
Based on the Book by: James R. Hansen

On the heels of their six-time Academy Award®-winning smash, La La Land, Oscar®-winning director Damien Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling reteam for Universal Pictures’ First Man, the riveting story of NASA’s mission to land a man on the moon, focusing on Neil Armstrong and the years 1961-1969. A visceral, first-person account, based on the book by James R. Hansen, the movie will explore the sacrifices and the cost—on Armstrong and on the nation—of one of the most dangerous missions in history.

Written by Academy Award® winner Josh Singer (Spotlight), the drama is produced by Wyck Godfrey & Marty Bowen (The Twilight Saga, The Fault in Our Stars) through their Temple Hill Entertainment banner, alongside Chazelle. Steven Spielberg, Isaac Klausner, Adam Merims and Singer executive produce. DreamWorks Pictures co-finances the film. http://www.firstman.com

Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection First Time Ever on Blu-ray!

FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, A LANDMARK COLLECTION SHOWCASING THE LEGENDARY MONSTERS IN MOTION PICTURE HISTORY

UNIVERSAL CLASSIC MONSTERS: COMPLETE 30-FILM COLLECTION AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY ON AUGUST 28, 2018 FROM UNIVERSAL PICTURES HOME ENTERTAINMENT

Universal City, California, August 22, 2018 – Thirty of the most iconic cinematic masterpieces starring the most famous monsters of horror movie history come together on Blu-ray™ for the first time ever in the Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection on August 28, 2018, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. Featuring unforgettable make-up, ground-breaking special effects and outstanding performances, the Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection includes all Universal Pictures’ legendary monsters from the studio that pioneered the horror genre with imaginative and technically groundbreaking tales of terror in unforgettable films from the 1930s to late-1950s.

From the era of silent movies through present day, Universal Pictures has been regarded as the home of the monsters. The Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection showcases all the original films featuring the most iconic monsters in motion picture history including Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Phantom of the Opera and Creature from the Black Lagoon. Starring some of the most legendary actors including Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., Claude Rains and Elsa Lanchester in the roles that they made famous, these films set the standard for a new horror genre and showcase why these landmark movies that defined the horror genre are regarded as some of the most unforgettable ever to be filmed.

Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection includes a 48-page collectible book filled with behind-the-scenes stories and rare production photographs and is accompanied by an array of bonus features including behind-the-scenes documentaries, the 1931 Spanish version of Dracula, Featurettes on Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., and Jack Pierce, 13 expert feature commentaries, archival footage, production photographs, theatrical trailers and more. The perfect gift for any scary movie fan, the collection offers an opportunity to experience some of the most memorable horror films of our time.

The Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection includes Dracula(1931), Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Werewolf of London (1935), Dracula’s Daughter (1936), Son of Frankenstein (1939), The Invisible Man Returns (1940), The Invisible Woman (1940), The Mummy’s Hand (1940), The Wolf Man (1941), The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), The Mummy’s Ghost (1942), The Mummy’s Tomb (1942),Invisible Agent (1942), Phantom of the Opera (1943), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), Son of Dracula (1943), House of Frankenstein (1944), The Mummy’s Curse (1944), The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944), House of Dracula (1945), She-Wolf of London (1946), Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954, and includes a 3D version), Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955), Revenge of the Creature (1955 and includes a 3D version) and The Creature Walks Among Us (1956).

 

BONUS FEATURES:

  • Behind-the-Scenes Documentaries
  • 3D Versions of Creature from the Black Lagoon and Revenge of the Creature
  • 1931 Spanish Version of Dracula
  • Featurettes on Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., and Jack Pierce
  • 13 Expert Feature Commentaries
  • Archival Footage
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailers

 

Man and Machine all set for Battle at eSports’ Biggest Tournament

IMAGE SOURCE: @DotaSLTV via Twitter

Whether you are a huge fan or yet to get immersed in it, there is simply no denying that the world of eSports is continuing to just grow and grow. Professional competitive gaming is on the cusp of breaking into the mainstream, with exciting new competitions like the Overwatch League emerging alongside more established competitions to bring top-quality action to the masses.

To say the industry is in rude health would be an understatement. According to research from Newzoo, the global eSports economy is expected to be worth $905.6 million this year, with much of this being driven by advertising and sponsorship as big brands continue to dip their toes into the hugely popular area.

Jewel in the crown

However, for all of the growth which has happened and is expected to continue into the future, one tournament is still arguably viewed as the jewel in the eSports crown – The International event for online battle arena title Dota 2.

Held annually and set to take place in August this year, The International is a tournament like no other – specifically due to the huge level of prize money which is on offer. Last year, the winning side Team Liquid took home an incredible $10 million share of the $24 million prize pool, which was raised for the event through a base contribution from organisers Valve and funds generated from the release of special content linked to the tournament.

With this year’s competition in Vancouver edging ever closer, the 2018 prize pool stands at more than $19 million and – as of July 4th – Betway had Team Liquid and Virtus Pro as joint-favourites with both sides having odds of 3/1 to win outright. Away from the main action though, a new subplot has also emerged in relation to this year’s event, which is sure to attract a lot of attention and interest when the competition gets underway.

Science fiction becomes reality

The idea of humans doing battle with machines sounds like something straight out of a science fiction film, but this year’s The International is set to see top gamers go head-to-head with artificial intelligence to see who will come out on top.

According to Variety, the research company OpenAI are behind a plan which will see five neural networks compete against a team of professional competitors in a match. The ‘team’ of AI players has apparently already beaten some amateur human sides and they are playing in the region of 180 years of matches between themselves in order to master the game. Ahead of The International, OpenAI is also hosting a game against human competitors at the end of July, which will be broadcast live on Twitch. Speaking to Variety, OpenAI added that it was “focused” on being prepared for The International and that its AI team had “a real shot”.

The next chapter

The match between humans and the AI players is sure to be a fascinating sight and it is just the latest example of occasions when people have pitted their wits against machines.

Probably the most famous was, of course, Garry Kasparov’s famous chess matches against the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue. Two six-game contests were held, with Kasparov winning the first in 1996 and Deep Blue taking the second in 1997. The latter was the first time a reigning world chess champion was beaten by a computer program.

AI’s relationship with chess was even back in the news at the end of last year, with the AlphaZero program created by Google’s Deep Mind beating the previous champion program Stockfish 8 in a 100-game match. Perhaps most remarkably, AlphaZero had actually taught itself to play chess in less than four hours – a clear sign of the increasing power and complexity of artificial intelligence.

An interesting side-plot

The International 2018 is a truly prestigious event and the major prize money on offer means that everyone who loves eSports will be watching closely to see the outcome. However, news of this planned meeting between an AI team and human players is an interesting side plot to an already intriguing event.

eSports continues to grow and the fact that the latest battle between humans and AI is taking place in competitive gaming is perhaps yet another sign that the industry is becoming more widely accepted and embraced across the world.

Film Review “Early Man”

Directed by: Nick Park
Starring: Eddie Redmayne. Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, Timothy Spall
Distributed by: StudioCanal
MPAA Rating: PG
Running time: 89 minutes

Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Aardman Animations is probably best known for their characters Wallace and Gromit. This company has been around for nearly 50 years mastering the art of stop-motion clay animation. I absolutely love that format and this company has brought out some great content over the years including “Chicken Run” and “Shaun the Sheep”, unfortunately “Early Man” is not one of their better films. I hate it when I see a trailer for a movie and shriek and say “Oh boy, that’s gonna suck”. In this case, the trailer is 100% right.

“Early Man” takes place in the Stone Age when prehistoric creatures and cavemen roamed the Earth. There is a small tribe of caveman led by Chief Bobnar (Timothy Spall) and they live in a valley where they hunt rabbits. A young caveman, Dug (Eddie Redmayne), has dreams to do more. Their world is turned upside down when a Bronze Age army led by Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) take over their land and force them out into the badlands. Dug seeks out a way to get back his home and challenges the Bronze army to a game of soccer finding out that his ancestors discovered the game before his time…and that about sums of the movie, not much else happens here.

Sitting in the theater, I looked over at my wife and she was yawning. I was dozing off myself as this film was barely able to keep our attention…even our 5 year old seemed bored as well. If you have seen the trailer, then you have seen the whole movie. Tom Hiddleston, known best for his work in the Marvel Universe playing Loki, literally was the best part of the whole film as Lord Nooth. He was funny for sure but can’t save the film by himself.

One comment my wife pointed out, which I happened to notice as well, is that the film is very drab and there was really only one color pallet the whole film. In other stop motion films like “Coraline” color is such an important part of the film. I have to give credit to the animators because I love the craft of stop motion animation and you can tell that a lot of work went into this movie. I just wish I could say that I enjoyed it more but it was simply boring (and only at 89 minutes) and lacking any depth whatsoever. Yawn!

 

Related Content

The Man, The Legend –  Jimi Hendrix: 10 Things you didn’t know.

Legendary artist Jimi Hendrix will go down in history as one of the most talented musicians of all time, you’ve no doubt heard one of his songs before, but how well do you know the man behind it?

Jimi Hendrix passed away just when his career was really starting to take off,but he still managed to accomplish a hell of a lot in the mere 4 years he spent in the spotlight. He went on to leave this world a musical idol when he died in 1970. As Hendrix would now be 75 years old, we’ve put together a list of 10 things you probably didn’t know about Jimi Hendrix as an homage to the star and celebrate the announcement of the new album of unreleased songs coming soon!

1)      He wasn’t always called Jimi Hendrix. “Jimi” was born Johnny Allen Hendrix. His mum and dad did not have the greatest of relationships, so when Jimi’s father gained custody, and he went to live with him., his father renamed him James Marshall Hendrix. Although, he didn’t spell his name “Jimi” until 1966.

2)   He used the military to avoid Prison.  Jimi was caught in stolen cars on a couple of occasions whilst growing up in Seattle. He was subsequently arrested and given the choice of going to prison or two years in the military. He joined the army as an Airborne Ranger and although he was discharged for falling asleep whilst on duty, Hendrix later claimed that he broke his ankle and that was the real reason for his dismissal.

3)   There are several conspiracy theories surrounding his death. One particular conspiracy theory alleges that Hendrix didn’t die accidentally, he was murdered. The theory states that Monika Dannemann, his girlfriend at the time made him overdose, unlikely as it may sound.

4)   One of his most popular sings is a cover. His smash hit song “All Along the Watchtower”, was originally written and recorded by none other than Bob Dylan the year before. When Hendrix died, Dylan began to play the song in the Hendrix style as a tribute to him.

5)   He loved comic books. Hendrix would quite often reference characters from comic books when talking amongst friends. Jimi was particularly keen on Spider-Man and was known to be a huge fan of Batman.

6)   He wrote a screenplay. Written entirely by Jimi himself, his screenplay Moon Dust included a main character named The Powerful Sound King who was quite obviously based on himself. Other characters in the play where based on Marvel comics Spider Man characters.

7)   He wasn’t able to read music. Hendrix never actually learned how to read music. He taught himself to play by ear rather than reading the notes on the page. His first ‘guitar’ was a Ukelele that only had one string.

8)   Music was his religion. Jimi referred to his music as “Electric church” as he believed music was a religion. He put his belief into practice at Seattle’s Experience Music Project” where he named the great hall the “Sky Church”, a place where people of all ages and backgrounds could come together and experience music.

9)   Once mistaken for a clown. Hendrix was once allegedly refused service in a Liverpool bar. The bartender had thought he was a clown and there was a circus in town and the bar had a rule: No Clowns Allowed.

10)  You can Play Jimi Hendrix! There’s a slot machine modelled after Jimi Hendrix. Online casinos like bgo.com offer an online slot machine set to the soundtrack of the infamous musician. It embodies the essence of a Hendrix gig in an easy to play environment, with the potential of a nice little win. 

 

Related Content

Blu-ray Review “Man Down”

Actors: Kate Mara, Shia LaBeouf, Jai Courtney, Gary Oldman, Clifton Collins Jr.
Directors: Dito Montiel
Rated: R
Studio: LIONSGATE
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Run Time: 90 minutes

Film: 2 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1 out of 5 stars

How did a film like “Man Down” sneak onto Blu-ray with no one really knowing. This film packs a solid cast with Jai Courtney, Gary Oldman, Kate Mara, and Clifton Collins Jr…and yeah I guess Shia LaBeouf is the star but he just honestly urks me these days and he is just too damn weird. The only thing that interested me in this is because it is set in a post-apocalyptic America but neither the talent or the setting can save this rather bland/boring film.

Official Premise: When U.S. Marine Gabriel Drummer (Shia LaBeouf) returns home from his tour in Afghanistan, he finds that the place he once called home is no better than the battlefields he fought on overseas. Accompanied by his best friend Devin Roberts (Jai Courtney), a hard-nosed Marine whose natural instinct is to shoot first and ask questions later, he searches desperately for the location of his estranged son, Johnathan (Charlie Shotwell), and wife Natalie (Kate Mara). In their search, the two intercept Charles (Clifton Collins Jr.), a man carrying vital information about the whereabouts of Gabriel’s family. As we revisit the past, we are guided in unraveling the puzzle of Gabriel’s experience and what will eventually lead us to finding his family.

The combo pack comes with a Blu-ray + Digital HD copy. The 1080p transfer looks good enough for this film. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 works well with the action/suspense. The special features are boring and empty like the film. There is only an audio commentary included with the director Dito Montiel and Military Advisor Sergeant Nick Jones Jr.

Blu-ray Review “Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man”

Actors: Leonard Cohen, Martha Wainwright, Teddy Thompson, Nick Cave, Kate McGarrigle
Directors: Lian Lunson
Rated: PG-13
Studio: Lionsgate
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Run Time: 103 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

“Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man” is a film that is over 10 years old but this is the first time that the documentary focusing on the legendary singer-songwriter, Leonard Cohen, and features performances of his songs by those musicians he has influenced is being released on Blu-ray. If you are a Leonard Cohen fan, I mean who isn’t, and have never owned this film, this is a good time to honor this very talent individual and his music. Crazy to thing that he is gone from us but at least we have films like this celebrating him.

Narrated by Cohen himself, the film features performances by artists like U2, Rufus Wainwright, Nick Cave, Jarvis Cocker, Antony, Martha Wainwright and Beth Orton and others singing Cohen’s songs. Here is the official premise: Sure to please both die-hard Cohen fans and the newly initiated, this film is full of captivating music and offers an intimate portrait of a truly singular artist — poet, songwriter, cultural icon.

Lionsgate is releasing this film as a combo pack with a Blu-ray and Digital HD copy included. There are some solid bonus features included on this Blu-ray. There are exclusive performances not seen in the movie by Martha Wainwright, Perla Batalla, The Handsome Family, and Teddy Thompson that are worth checking out for sure. There is also “A Conversation with Leonard Cohen” and an audio commentary with the director, Lian Lunson, included. Worth checking out if you are a hardcore fan.

Grace Kaufman talks about her role on the CBS series “Man with a Plan”

Teen actress Grace Kaufman has appeared in a variety of television shows including “The Closer” “2 Broke Girls” and the “The Last Ship”. Graces newest role has her playing opposite Matt LeBlanc in the CBS hit comedy “Man with a Plan”. Media Mikes has the chance to speak with Grace recently about her role on the show and also about her new film “Brave New Jersey”.

Adam Lawton: Tell us about your role on “Man with a Plan” and how the role came about?

Grace Kaufman: I play Kate Burns on the show. She is a very fun role to play because not only does she have a little bit of sass along with some rebellious qualities but she also really loves her family. That’s where I feel I connect with the role. Kate can be disobedient but loving at the same time. I had heard about the role by going through the normal auditioning process. I got the script and immediately fell in the love with my character Kate. I knew she was definitely a role I wanted to play. After my first audition I received a call back and that’s when I met Matt LeBlanc for the first time. That was very exciting for me as I have always loved his work. I found out shortly after reading with him that I had gotten the role and I was just over the moon about it.

AL: Was the role fairly laid out when it was presented to you or were you allowed to develop certain traits
of the character on your own?

GK: There were definitely some parts of the character that were already set ahead of time but, I also brought in my own set of traits and personality to the character. I think that’s what makes things more natural. I was very grateful for the opportunity to do that I was able to explore the character of Kate and really get to know her as well.

AL: What has it been like working alongside Matt LeBlanc?

GK: When I first met Matt at the initial call back it was like meeting one of your idols. I loved him on “Friends” and I have enjoyed his other work as well. Matt is very talented and a brilliant actor. To be in the same room and read with him was such a cool experience. Just being there was very exciting. We did our read through and there was some notes they gave me for the next read and everything just went from there.

AL: The show recently got picked up for a full run. What do you feel makes “Man with a Plan” stand out from other family based comedies?

GK: I feel like the show is not only one that’s fun for the whole family to watch but one that every member can relate to. I feel like a lot of the situations that happen on the show are things that happen to real families. That’s what I think makes the show so special and enjoyable for families to sit down and watch together.

AL: Was this your first experience filming in-front of a live studio audience?

GK: I have done some guest starring roles on shows which film in front of live audiences so I had some experience with that going in to this show. This was my first show that I was a series regular on where there would be a live audience. Even though I had done guests spots before in similar settings it was still very exciting and a bit nerve racking. The more we work in-front of the audience the more I have been able to see that they are not there to judge us. They are there to support us and laugh with us. Knowing that has made me start to feel very comfortable in-front of them now.

AL: You also recently had a film premier at the Austin Film Festival. Can you tell us about that?

GK: The film is called “Brave New Jersey”. I filmed that about a year ago in Tennessee. It was a lot of fun as I had never been to that state before nor had I ever done a period piece. The film takes place in the late 1930’s on the night of Orson Wells “War of the Worlds” broadcast. It’s set in a small town in Lullaby, NJ which overhears the broadcast and assumes real aliens are in-fact invading. The premise is based around if you know you only have one night to live what would you do? Having never done something like this before it was a lot of fun and I got to work with some really great people that I learned a lot from.

AL: What are your plans for the coming year?

GK: We start filming “Man with a Plan” again in January so I have that to look forward to. I also have a role on the show “The Last Ship” which is on TNT that just got picked up for a fifth season. I start working on that in April. I have been working on that show for about four years now so I am very excited that we are coming back for another season. The cast and crew have become like a family to me there. It’s quite different than “Man with a Plan” but they are both special to me in different ways. Shooting this fifth season is going to be really great.

For more info on Grace and her projects you can check out her various social media accounts at @ImGraceKaufman

 

Related Content

Blu-ray Review “Swiss Army Man”

Actors: Daniel Radcliffe, Paul Dano, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Directors: Daniel Scheinert, Daniel Kwan
Rated: R
Studio: A24
Release Date: October 4, 2016
Run Time: 97 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Tired of non-stop superhero movies? Reboots? Sequels? Prequels? Well, luckily there are films out there like “Swiss Army Man”, which is a zany, over the top original fun movie…that nobody saw. People wonder why they never make original movies and the reason is cause NOBODY SEES THEM! This movie was amazing. I loved it. It was so damn weird but at the same time I found myself mesmerized, especially by the performances from Daniel Radcliffe and Paul Dano. A must see movie of the year.

Original Premise: Synopsis: Hank (Paul Dano) is stranded on a deserted island, having given up all hope of ever making it home again. But one day everything changes when a corpse named Manny (Daniel Radcliffe) washes up onshore. The two become fast friends, and ultimately go on an epic adventure that will bring Hank back to the woman of his dreams.

I love the way that this film was shot and the way it looks, so I enjoyed the 1080p transfer quite a bit. Same goes for the extremely impressive Dolby Atmos track (at its core, Dolby TrueHD 7.1). This worked great with the fantastic music by Manchester Orchestra members Andy Hull and Robert McDowell, which works so well in the movie.

Along with the Blu-ray, this release also comes with a digital copy of the film. The special features are decent as well to check out. There is a very fun audio commentary with Writer/Director Daniel Kwan, Writer/Director Daniel Scheinert, Production Designer Jason Kisvarnay, and Sound Mixer/Fartist Brent Kiser…and NO you did not misread that…this film has a fartist. You gotta see the movie to get it.

“Swiss Army Man: Behind the Scenes” is a really fun behind-the-scenes featurette with some candid footage and chats with cast. “Making Manny” follows the making of the dummy with designer Jason Hamer. There is a hour plus Q & A with Filmmakers with Glenn Kiser moderating at the Dolby Institute. Lastly there are nearly 10 minutes of deleted scenes included.

Concert Review: Bermuda’s “Marcho Man Tour Part II”

“The Marcho Man Tour Part II”
Bermuda, Demolisher, Aminals
Date: March 7, 2016
Venue: The Warehouse, Syracuse, NY

Our Score: 2 out of 5 stars

The metal band Bermuda made a stop in Syracuse, NY on March 7th as part of their “Marcho Man Tour”. Also on the bill for the evening were Demolisher from Chicago and the Boston thrash band Aminals. Despite it being a rather cold night in Syracuse the bands and a handful of dedicated fans filled the small multi use venue for a night of metal musings.

After brief sets from a handful of local bands Aminals would take the stage where the proceeded to absolutely crush their set! The band demanded the attention of the crowd and made sure everyone was aware of their absolutely jaw-dropping showmanship. You would have never guessed that this was their drummer’s first show with the group as the bands set progressed without incident and leaving the crowd wanting more. Next up was Demolisher, bringing almost a completely different style of metal and hardcore than the previous act. The band seemed right at home and embracing their surroundings which included skateboard ramps and a few unused motorcycles and a car. Yes a car. Demolisher turned the dusty DIY venue into an all-out brawl as clouds of dust arose from buildings industrialized floor

Tour Headliners Bermuda would close out the night and much like the acts before them took to setting up on the floor as opposed to the small confining stage. From the first snare hit, the crushing weight of this band’s brutal riff-age leveled the small crowd. The bands furious sound fueled an intense mosh pit that quickly overtook the area in-front of the band. The bands front man smoldered with steam as the mixture of sweat and cold air provided an eerie effect that fit the night’s mood perfectly. Definitely be on the lookout for when these guys come to town as you won’t want to miss it.

Aminals Setlist:
1.) Bitchcraft
2.) War Widows
3.) Ew, She Smells Like Brooklyn
4.) If You Hear Them Sing in a Hospital
5.) Population Controls
6.) Dirty Habits
7.) Rope
8.) Something Secular

Bermuda Setlist:
1.) Kuma
2.) Vertebroken
3.) Crown Crusher
4.) Grave Dancers
5.) The Wandering
6.) The Human Herd
7.) Parasitic
8.) The Recluse
9.) Intuitions
10.) Process of Drowning
11.) The Cancer Speaks

Film Review “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”

Starring: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer and Hugh Grant
Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hour 56 mins
Warner Bros.

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

As a young boy growing up in the 1960s I learned very quickly that the Catholic school system frowned on popular culture. Two times during my second grade year I was sent to the office. The first time came after I was scolded several times for playing the tambourine in music class off of my hip, like Davy Jones did on “The Monkees.” The second was when I held my pen to my mouth and commanded in a loud voice, “Open Channel D,” just like Napoleon Solo did each week on “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” Of course, I should have known better. As Whoopi Goldberg pointed out in “Ghost,” nuns can’t even buy underwear so why should they have a sense of humor?

It’s the start of the Cold War. An evil villain has obtained the ability to make an atom bomb. In an unprecedented move, the C.I.A. and the KGB agree to team up their two best agents: Napoleon Solo (Cavill) and Illya Kuryakin. Like the relationship between their respective countries, the two are wary of each other. But orders are orders.

A straight-forward action film that owes its look to James Bond (“Bond” creator Ian Fleming actually helped create the original television program, which was initially titled “Ian Fleming’s SOLO), Matt Helms and a plethora of spy films that came before it, “U.N.C.L.E.” works thanks to its cast and the steady hand of director Guy Ritchie. Englishman Cavill is spot on as Solo, so much so that I’m sure somewhere Robert Vaughn is smiling. Hammer is equally enjoyable as the easily-angered Russian. Hammer was pretty much lost in the crowd in the box-office fiasco that was “The Lone Ranger” and it’s nice to see him inhabit a character completely and confidently.

The set pieces are beautifully photographed and the action unfolds smoothly. If you’re expecting the kinetic editing tricks Ritchie used in the “Sherlock Holmes” films, prepare to be surprised. Long-time fans of the series may quibble a bit with the back-story given Solo. They may also be a step or two ahead of the script when Hugh Grant is introduced as Mr. Waverly. That being said, neither of those facts kept this fan from enjoying the film immensely.

 

Related Content