Billy Bryan talks about playing Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters, Dune and Army of Darkness

Billy Bryan is the man who created the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man suit for Ghostbusters as well as the man inside. He is also one of the puppeteers for Chucky in Child’s Play and also played the Pit Bitch in Army of Darkness.

Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Billy about his role in Ghostbusters as well as Dune, Child’s Play, Army of Darkness, Men in Black and meeting Dave Grohl for his work on Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny.

Blu-ray Review: “The Invisible Man” (2020)

DIrected by: Leigh Whannell
Starring:  Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen
Distributed by: Universal Home Video
Running time: 124 minutes

  • Film: 4 out of 5 stars
  • A/V: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

There’s a great joke I first heard in the eighth grade that deals with a mishap involving Superman, Wonder Woman and the Invisible Man.  I can’t relate it hear but believe me, the punchline is killer.  So is the latest incarnation of the Invisible Man.

We open on a couple in bed.  As Adrian (Jackson-Cohen) sleeps, Cecilia (Moss) gets up, gathers some things and makes her way quietly out of the state of the art house.  Doing her best to avoid cameras and not set off alarms, she makes her way to the road, where a ride is waiting.  But she will soon find out that you can’t run away from some things, no matter how hard you try.

Genuinely terrifying, with a tour-de-force performance by Ms. Moss, “The Invisible Man” starts off slowly and clumsy.  20-minutes in I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to see a rehash of “Sleeping with the Enemy,” only with a Patrick Bergin that I couldn’t see.  But just as that thought came into my head, writer/director Whannell flipped the switch, taking the film into directions I never would have imagined.

There have been many attempts at filming H.G. Wells’ story of a man with the power of invisibility, from the 1933 Universal Horror Classic “The Invisible Man” starring Claude Rains to the 2000 Kevin Bacon-starrer “Hollow Man.”  Heck, even Kurt Russell and Chevy Chase have taken comedic shots at the story.  But here, the main theme is terror, especially to an audience who is on the edge of their seats, intently staring at the screen and looking for the slightest hint the bad guy is there.

Moss is a revelation here.  Best known for her television and streaming work (“Mad Men,” “The Handmaids Tale”) and a strong supporting turn in last year’s Jordan Peele horror masterpiece, “Us,” she has the unenviable job of basically interacting with a character that the audience never sees.  Whether arguing, pleading or physically fighting with our villain, it’s just her on the screen, yet you feel her terror, especially when she is violently struggling with an entity that she (nor the audience) can see.  Mr. Whannell, no stranger to horror thanks to his involvement in the “Saw” and “Insidious” film series, keeps the pace moving (after the first half-hour) and uses his camera as an almost additional character.  The musical score, by Benjamin Wallfisch (“IT,” “Bladerunner: 2049), helps set the mood as well.  The result is the most terrifying film since the aforementioned “Us.”  If you’re a fan of horror, you definitely need this one in your collection.

Enter to Win a 4K Blu-ray Combo Pack of “The Invisible Man”


To celebrate the 4K Blu-ray Combo release for “The Invisible Man”, Media Mikes would like to give our fans a chance to to win one of two 4K Blu-ray combo pack copies. If you want to win this great prize, please leave a comment below or email us with your favorite Blumhouse film. This giveaway will remain open until May 25th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to our readers in US 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.

THE INVISIBLE MAN follows a modern tale of obsession inspired by Universal’s classic monster character. Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) slowly begins to rebuild her life after the death of her abusive ex-boyfriend (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). But before long, she begins to question whether or not he is truly gone. In addition to the feature, THE INVISIBLE MAN delivers up twenty minutes of exclusive bonus content, including a chance to better get acquainted with the film’s leading actress: Elisabeth Moss, feature commentary with the writer/director and deleted scenes you won’t want to miss.

FASTEST GUITARIST ON THE PLANET MICHAEL ANGELO BATIO SET TO RELEASE NEW INSTRUMENTAL ALBUM MORE MACHINE THAN MAN ON JUNE 12th VIA RAT PAK RECORDS

Now Available for Pre-Order in Various Bundle Configurations www.ratpakrecords.com/michaelangelobatio

Shred guitar pioneer Michael Angelo Batio will release his 12th studio album More Machine Than Man on June 12th via Rat Pak Records. The album features 13 new studio tracks and is the highly anticipated follow up to 2013’s IntermezzoMore Machine Than Man is an all instrumental shred album from the Fastest Guitarist On The Planet that’s sure to resonate with past fans, as well as garner new fans along the way.  From the infectious guitar riffs from album openers “Laser Guided” and “The Badlands”, to the crushing bonus-track finale of “No Backup Plan” Michael has created something truly special and engaging. 

More Machine Than Man is available for pre-order in numerous bundle configurations here:  https://www.ratpakrecordsamerica.com/mcihaelangelobatio.

Mixed and Mastered by longtime Batio engineer Chris Wisco, the album also features guest performances by Chris Adler(Lamb of God), lending his drum skills on the tracks “More Machine Than Man” and “The Two Sirens”. Also appearing on the album is renowned bassist Victor Wooten who performs on “AVTD”, and guitar virtuoso Andrea Martongelli who guest solos on “The Countdown Is On”. 

Regarding the release, Michael comments, “This is the most “in your face” album I have ever recorded. I limited the use of keyboards so you can hear the detail and precision of the rhythm guitars. My goals were to write the best songs I could, keep the tracks as raw and natural as possible and make the grooves relentless! I’m borrowing a quote by NITRO singer Jim Gillette that I think describes this album perfectly – “If this album doesn’t rock your socks off, call the coroner ‘cause you must be dead!””
Photo credit: Marie Gregorio-Oviedo

With heavy rhythm riffs, blazing guitar solos and rock-solid grooves More Machine Than Man delivers all the power and punch that one would expect from this high-level player and is sure to be a favorite of shred lovers around the globe!

A video trailer for the new album can be seen here: https://youtu.be/V9Asp196d2o

The track listing for More Machine Than Man is: 

1.  Laser Guided

2.  The Badlands

3.   Put All Fear Aside

4.  More Machine Than Man

5.  Dreamin’ of 1986

6.  Beyond the Outer Limits

7.  The Two Sirens

8.  AVTD

9.  The Countdown is On

10. Rhythm Reprise (I Pray the Lord)

Bonus Tracks (CD & Digital versions)

11. 21st Century Beck

12. Charlie Went To Chicago

13. No Backup Plan

Michael Angelo Batio showcased his guitar techniques and innovations for the first time with his early instructional programs, as well as in his live performances, which are now considered “standard techniques” amongst guitarists worldwide. Michael not only invented but was the world’s first player of the double-guitar and was also voted one of the World’s Top 100 Guitarists Of All Time by Guitar World Magazine.  He also holds the YouTube record for his instructional video “Speed Kills”, the highest views for a guitarist coming in at over 21 million! 

Film Review: “Blow the Man Down”

  • BLOW THE MAN DOWN
  • Starring: Sophie Lowe, Morgan Saylor
  • Directed by: Bridget Savage Cole & Danielle Krudy
  • Rated: R
  • Running Time: 1 hr 30 mins
  • Amazon Prime Video

 With a title borrowed from a classic English sea shanty, “Blow the Man Down” is an average, yet entertaining mystery/drama with a multitude of secrets that emanates a “Fargo”-like vibe. First-time feature length directors Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy, who also co-wrote the film that debuted on Amazon Prime, have crafted a smooth-paced work of cinema with a few flashes of well-timed suspense. 

Set in the small, picturesque fishing village of Easter Cove, Maine, “Blow the Man Down” begins with the Catholic wake of one Mary Margaret Connolly. Her two daughters – Priscilla (Sophie Lowe, “The Beautiful Lie”) and Mary Beth (Morgan Saylor, “Homeland”) – are naturally saddened by the loss of their mother, whom they had to care for in recent times. The girls, though, seem surprised to hear tales from their mother’s three closest friends – Susie Gallagher (Academy Award nominee June Squibb, “Nebraska”), Gail Maguire (Academy Award nominee Annette O’Toole, “A Mighty Wind”) and Doreen Burke (Marceline Hugot, “The Messenger”) – of how Mary had saved their bacon on several occasions. 

Interspersed within this sadness is a scene in which a nameless woman frantically jumps out of a car and runs screaming from an angry man who eventually tackles her. All the while a woman we come to know as Enid Nora Devlin (Margo Martindale, “August: Osage County”) watches silently from a second story window. We get the sense she may approve of the violence that is transpiring and thus has no interest in helping the woman. It’s brief but it’s an important nugget of things to come.

 Back at Mary’s house, the younger Mary Beth is dismayed to learn from Priscilla that their mother has left them with nothing. Mary Beth leaves in an explosion of anger and ends up at a dive bar where she latches onto a man who proves to be far more dangerous than she had ever considered. This is followed by a killing and cover-up that leads the sisters down a rabbit hole of secrets and lies involving prostitution, bribery, murder and a police force that either looks the other way or is incompetent. 

Even with a solid story, “Blow the Man Down” does contain some mystery clichés so don’t expect anything fresh when watching it. Additionally, the two leads are fine enough in their roles, but they are overshadowed greatly by the much older, supporting female cast. Squibb, O’Toole and Hugot are a hoot as a trio and they excel at making us feel like there is something more to their characters without giving too much away too quickly. 

Overall, the real star is Martindale who is simply a delight to watch. A woman with a ton of secrets and a hardened, mean streak a mile wide and a mile deep, Enid is someone that proves to be a perfect antagonist. Martindale also infuses her character with a level of complexity that the other cast members are not quite able to achieve. 

Call it a poor man’s version of “Knives Out,” “Blow the Man Down” is a nice way to spend 90 minutes in front of a screen at home.

Film Review: “The Invisible Man”

THE INVISIBLE MAN
Starring:  Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen
Directed by: Leigh Whannell
Rated:  R
Running time:  2 hrs 4 mins
Universal

There’s a great joke I first heard in the eighth grade that deals with a mishap involving Superman, Wonder Woman and the Invisible Man.  I can’t relate it hear but believe me, the punchline is killer.  So is the latest incarnation of the Invisible Man.

We open on a couple in bed.  As Adrian (Jackson-Cohen) sleeps, Cecilia (Moss) gets up, gathers some things and makes her way quietly out of the state of the art house.  Doing her best to avoid cameras and not set off alarms, she makes her way to the road, where a ride is waiting.  But she will soon find out that you can’t run away from some things, no matter how hard you try.

Genuinely terrifying, with a tour-de-force performance by Ms. Moss, “The Invisible Man” starts off slowly and clumsy.  20-minutes in I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to see a rehash of “Sleeping with the Enemy,” only with a Patrick Bergin that I couldn’t see.  But just as that thought came into my head, writer/director Whannell flipped the switch, taking the film into directions I never would have imagined.

There have been many attempts at filming H.G. Wells’ story of a man with the power of invisibility, from the 1933 Universal Horror Classic “The Invisible Man” starring Claude Rains to the 2000 Kevin Bacon-starrer “Hollow Man.”  Heck, even Kurt Russell and Chevy Chase have taken comedic shots at the story.  But here, the main theme is terror, especially to an audience who is on the edge of their seats, intently staring at the screen and looking for the slightest hint the bad guy is there.

Moss is a revelation here.  Best known for her television and streaming work (“Mad Men,” “The Handmaids Tale”) and a strong supporting turn in last year’s Jordan Peele horror masterpiece, “Us,” she has the unenviable job of basically interacting with a character that the audience never sees.  Whether arguing, pleading or physically fighting with our villain, it’s just her on the screen, yet you feel her terror, especially when she is violently struggling with an entity that she (nor the audience) can see.  Mr. Whannell, no stranger to horror thanks to his involvement in the “Saw” and “Insidious” film series, keeps the pace moving (after the first half-hour) and uses his camera as an almost additional character.  The musical score, by Benjamin Wallfisch (“IT,” “Bladerunner: 2049), helps set the mood as well.  The result is the most terrifying film since the aforementioned “Us.”  By all means, go see it…even if you can’t SEE it!

Win Passes to the Kansas City Screening of “The Invisible Man”

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at Universal to give readers the chance to be among the first to see the new film “The Invisible Man” at an advance Kansas City screening.

The film, starring Elizabeth Moss, will screen on Tuesday, February 25 at the AMC Studio 18 Theatre in Olathe, Kansas. The screening will begin at 7:00 pm.

All you have to do for a chance to attend is click HERE! On Monday, February 24th, random entries will be selected and will be sent their passes via email. Good Luck!

4K Ultra HD Review “Gemini Man”

Director: Ang Lee
Starring: Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen
Paramount Pictures
Running Time: 117 minutes

Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
4K UHD: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“Gemini Man” isn’t a film I wanted to see at all. The trailers looks boring to me despite action sequences. After watching the movie, I was proved right in my assumptions. The movie was bland, predictable and packed a real terrible ending. Will Smith tries his best but there is just too much Will Smith here and I didn’t think that was possible. The film does have some solid visual effects though.

Despite my feelings on the film, I was mega impressed with the fact that this 4K Ultra HD release includes a first for Paramount. The 4K Ultra HD disc is encoded in 60FPS (frames-per-second) for exceptional sharpness and clarity. The standard Blu-ray release comes with the film presented in 24FPS, if you are a film buff this is a pretty cool deal. There is also an exclusive visual effects scene breakdown presented by WETA in 60FPS, Ultra HD and High Dynamic Range in the special features.

The 4K Ultra HD disc presents the film in Dolby Vision®, which brings entertainment to life through ultra-vivid picture quality with spectacular colors, highlights that are up to 40 times brighter, and blacks that are 10 times darker.  This film is the first ever Dolby Vision high frame rate disc to be released.  Also included this disc boasts a Dolby Atmos® soundtrack. The film comes including a 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital copy of the film.

Official Premise: Will Smith stars as retired hitman Henry Brogan, forced on the run by a young, highly skilled operative who will stop at nothing to eliminate his target.  Now on a race around the globe, Henry must outsmart the mysterious assassin at every step – but how far will he go once they finally come face to face?  Packed with epic fight scenes and groundbreaking visual effects,  “Gemini Man” is the future of action movies.

The bonus features include an Alternate Opening (even though this film needed an alternate ending more so), some Deleted Scenes and a few featurettes including: The Genesis of Gemini Man, Facing Your Younger Self, The Future Is Now, Setting the Action, Next Level Detail and The Vision of Ang Lee. The Visual Effects Progression presented by WETA in 60FPS is only available on the 4K UHD disc. Even though I didn’t like the film this extra was work checking out for sure.

Nergal’s ME AND THAT MAN Releases New Single and Official Video, “Run With The Devil”

[Photo Credit: Grzegorz-Gołębiowski]

Featuring Jørgen Munkeby of Shining
Watch the Cinematic New Video HERE!

Nergal’s ME AND THAT MAN return in a new guise.

Immerse yourself in the obscure world of ME AND THAT MAN and enter the black church through their newest rite of passage. After just having signed with Napalm Records, Nergal’s dark blues/folk project has released their new single, “Run With The Devil”, featuring Jørgen Munkeby of Norwegian Blackjazz collective Shining.

The song is accompanied by an outstanding, yet unsettling official video, directed by Roman Przylipiak and inspired by the unmistakable atmosphere of Quentin Tarantino’s cinematic classics.

A work of art in itself, the video sketches a dynamic outline of all the stylistic milestones ME AND THAT MAN set for their musical journey. Released from the trunk of a car, Jørgen starts his adventurous run with the Devil himself, i.e. Nergal. From a sketchy encounter in a gloomy alleyway, driving down the highway running over an innocent bystander and a blazing club where the band is performing in front of a wild crowd, “Run With The Devil” has it all! As the story unfolds, the observant viewer will be confronted with cryptic hints and hidden messages.

Roaring engines, Munkeby’s distinctive vocals and soulful saxophone contributions weave throughout the foot-stomping blues-rock anthem’s upbeat tempo and indelible hook, brewing a dark and addictive musical potion. Follow ME AND THAT MAN on their wild race with “Run With The Devil”!

Nergal on “Run With The Devil”:“This one was a lot of fun! When I first started thinking of the imagery to the track, I wanted to create something more than a music video, I wanted a music movie which carries on from where “Nightride” left off. Don’t take it too seriously, we’re metaphorically burying the past and bringing in a new! A great way to introduce the next incarnation of ME AND THAT MAN… but what next? Stick around, there is plenty of rather splendid things to see soon!”

Watch “Run With The Devil” HERE:

Adam Nergal Darski has been a fixture in the music industry for years. As the frontman of black/death metal spearhead Behemoth, Nergal has been known to preach unholy sermons, praise Satan and sing about explicit blasphemy. Naturally, the next step was to channel those themes into another genre commonly dubbed as the Devil’s music – blues. ME AND THAT MAN is exactly that – Nergal’s solo project will surprise and bewitch the listener. The visionary creative founded the band in an effort to showcase his true ability to adapt to any genre.

Released in 2017, ME AND THE MAN’s debut album, Songs of Love and Death, delivered thirteen stunning pieces full of multifaceted riffs and honest lyrics. In summer 2018, a line-up change followed, but Nergal’s solo project was far from over. Stay tuned for more details coming very soon.

ME AND THAT MAN live: New Tour, New Songs, Same Shit 2020 Tour w/ Frank The Baptist, Mulk

02.04.20 PL – Wroclaw / Zaklete Rewiry

03.04.20 PL – Szczecin / Kosmos

04.04.20 PL – Gdansk / Stary Manez

05.04.20 PL – Torun / Lizard King

15.04.20 PL – Warszawa / Palladium

16.04.20 PL – Krakow / ZetPeTe

17.04.20 PL – Poznan / Tama

18.04.20 PL – Gostyn / Hutnik 

19.04.20 PL – Katowice / P23

20.06.20 FR – Clisson / Hellfest

21.06.20 BE – Dessel / Graspop Festival

25.06.20 ES – Rivas-vaciamadrid / Auditorio Miguel Rios

26.06.20 ES – Madrid / Rock The Night Festival

09.07.20 SE – Gävle / Gefle Metal Festival

05.08.20 CZ – Jaromer / Brutal Assault More tba

ME AND THAT MAN, Featuring Adam Nergal Darski, Signs Worldwide Contract with Napalm Records

[L to R: Adam Nergal Darski, Adam Foster (5B management), Lukas Frank (Napalm Records), Billie Klein (Napalm Records)]

Evil has truly never sounded so good.

Blackened blues project ME AND THAT MAN – founded in 2013 by Behemoth frontman Adam Nergal Darski – has officially signed a worldwide contract with Napalm Records (excluding Poland).

ME AND THAT MAN released their debut album, Songs of Love and Death, in 2017 – introducing the world to their unique brand of folk and blues, mixed with hints of outlaw country. The atmospherically dark album provides a strong contrast to Behemoth with its catchy melodies and relaxed rhythms, and gives Nergal space to express his creativity in a different setting. Since its release, the album’s lead single, “My Church is Black”, has racked up over 2.5 million streams on Spotify.

ME AND THAT MAN has big plans in store in the coming months.

NERGAL on the signing:
It’s a pleasure to be working with a brand new team of people on a project which in many ways is brand new to me. We have some big surprises for you in the coming months so keep ‘em peeled. The record has been a lot of hard work; some blood, some tears but just wait and see, it was totally worth it!

Sebastian Münch, A&R Napalm Records, on the signing:
“As I’ve been a Johnny Cash fan for many years, Songs of Love and Death turned out to be like a memorial to the country music god himself! Nergal´s creative and musical brilliance redefined an entire genre, and the album’s dark and sinister vibes were most certainly noticed in distant Nashville. Welcome, ME AND THAT MAN, to the Napalm family!”
Watch “My Church Is Black” HERE:
Adam Nergal Darski has been a fixture in the music industry for years. As the frontman of black / death metal band Behemoth, Darski has been known to preach unholy sermons, praise Satan and sing about explicit blasphemy. Naturally, the next step was to channel those themes into another genre commonly dubbed as the Devil’s music – blues. 

ME AND THAT MAN is exactly that – Nergal’s solo project will surprise and bewitch the listener. The visionary creative founded the band in an effort to showcase his true ability to adapt to any genre. Released in 2017, ME AND THE MAN’s debut album, Songs of Love and Death, delivered thirteen stunning pieces full of multifaceted riffs and honest lyrics. In summer 2018, a line-up change followed, but Nergal’s solo project was far from over. Stay tuned for more details coming very soon.
ME AND THAT MAN live:
18.– 21.06.2020 BE – Dessel / Graspop Festival
26.06.2020 ES – Madrid / Rock The Night Festival
09.07.2020 SE – Gävle / Gefle Metal Festival
05.08.2020 CZ – Jaromer / Brutal Assault Festival
More tba

Concert Review: Hugh Jackman – The Man. The Music. The Show.

 

  • HUGH JACKMAN – THE MAN, THE MUSIC.  THE SHOW.
  • The United Center – Chicago, Illinois
  • October 11, 2019

Most people know Hugh Jackman as the claw sprouting X-man known as Wolverine.  And if that’s all they know him as, shame on them.  True fans know him as the Oscar-nominated, Tony Award winning actor whose been singing and dancing for years.  And it was those fans that were in attendance at the United Center in Chicago as Jackman continues his very successful tour.

The show kicked off with a rousing performance of “The Greatest Show,” followed by “Come Alive,” both from the very popular film “The Greatest Showman.”  While performing, Jackman noticed a fan holding up a sign stating it was her birthday.  He very graciously bent down to give her a hug as well as take a selfie with her.  He then noted that it was technically his birthday already in Australia (he turned 51 on October 12).  While addressing the audience he noticed a young boy down below in the floor audience who was dressed up like Jackman in “The Greatest Showman.”  He climbed off the stage to say hello to the boy and received a huge hug from the boy.  Returning to the stage, he explained how his first stage musical was “Beauty and the Beast,” then proceeded to perform the song “Gaston.”

He shared some information about his wife of 23 years and then sat down at the piano to play (and sing) “All the Way.”  After a medley saluting New York City he told a story about how he had worked on “The Greatest Showman” for eight years before it was made.  He also noted how there had been multiple workshops for the film and that Keala Settle had participated in all of them.  He then introduced Ms. Settle, who pretty much brought the house down with a rousing rendition of “This is Me.”  After performing a song from her upcoming album, Jackman returned to the stage and closed the first act with a few numbers from “Les Miserables,” accompanied by an enthusiastic group of singers and dancers.

The second act opened with a clip of Jackman receiving the Tony Award for his portrayal of songwriter and performer Peter Allen in “The Boy from Oz.”  Jackman took to the stage AS Peter Allen and sang a few of the songs Allen had written/co-written in his career.    The amazing dancing continued as he performed a song – “A Million Dreams” – which included sign language which was part of the choreography.  Between numbers, Jackman continually told great stories and would occasionally wander into the audience to greet concert goers.  At one point, he addressed the audience as honestly as I’ve ever head a performer, thanking all in attendance for not only supporting him but for taking the tine and spending the money to do so.  This is a man who not only appreciates his fans but goes out of his way to let him know so.

A couple of Aboriginal songs, complete with Didgeradoos helped close the show, along with Jackman doing a moving version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”  All in all, it was an amazing night with an amazing talent!

Mr. Jackman’s tour is continuing throughout North America.  To see if he’s coming to your town, click HERE!

SET LIST

The Greatest Show, Come Alive, Gaston, All the Way, New York, New York/On Broadway/Empire State of Mind, This is Me, Harder, Valjean’s Soliloquy/I Dreamed a Dream/One Day More, Not the Boy Next Door, Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)/Don’t Cry Out Loud/ I Honestly Love You/ Quiet Please, There’s a Lady on Stage/ I Go to Rio, Tenterfield Saddler, A Million Dreams, Luck Be a Lady/ Singin’ in he Rain/ I Got Rhythm/Steppin’ Out With My Baby/ Sing Sing Sing, 42nd Street/Thunderstruck, Art Song, Inhibition, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, From Now On, Once Before I Go

 

 

 

 

 

Film Review “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote”

Directed by: Terry Gilliam
Starring: Adam Driver, Jonathan Pryce, Stellan Skarsgård, Olga Kurylenko, Joana Ribeiro
Release date: 10 April 2019 (US)
Running time: 132 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I had no idea that back in May of 1998, when I first snuck in to see a film in theaters called “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, that he would end up becoming one of my favorite directors and influencing my interest in film so much. Terry Gilliam has always had a lot of luck with getting his film well receptive. They are always unique and never follow the Hollywood typical bubble that every other film does. Well “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” is no different for Gilliam. This was a film that he was trying to get made for nearly three decades. If that shows nothing else it is that the guy was determined to bring this project to life no matter what. Well after it’s long journey to the world, it is definitely worth the wait.

Back in 2000, Jean Rochefort was originally cast to play Don Quixote and Toby was to be played by Johnny Depp (imagine that?!). They even made a documentary about this failed attempt called “Lost in La Mancha”, worth checking out. I have to admit thought, I am HUGE fan of Jonathan Pryce, who also collaborated with Gilliam in his film “Brazil”, another one of my favorites). Pryce nails it for me as Don Quixote. Other than Depp, the role of Sancho Panza has previously had even Robin Williams and Ewan McGregor attached before Adam Driver aka Kylo Ren in the “Star Wars” Universe. I have to admit, if I had a dream cast and out of all the people that could have played Panza Driver probably wouldn’t have been my first choice. Don’t get me wrong, he was good in the film and did the role justice but I wanted a little more from him here.

Here is the film’s official Premise: “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” is the story of Toby (Driver), a cynical advertising director, who finds himself trapped in the outrageous delusions of an old Spanish shoe-maker (Pryce) who believes himself to be Don Quixote.  In the course of their comic and increasingly surreal adventures, Toby is forced to confront the tragic repercussions of a film he made in his idealistic youth – a film that changed the hopes and dreams of a small Spanish village forever. Can Toby make amends and regain his humanity? Can Don Quixote survive his madness and imminent death? Or will love conquer all?

When I watch a Terry Gilliam directed film, you know you are going to get amazing locations, really unique set designs, wonderful costumes and simply the best cinematography. “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” delivers in all of these departments, no question. The film runs a little long for me personally and when watching it with my wife, I noticed she checked out not shortly after it started. I think I appreciated it cause you can see where all the blood, sweat and tears went into this film. You can tell that this was the hail Mary pass at the end of the quarter for Gilliam and I definitely think it was a score!

Speaking earlier of “Lost in La Mancha”, the writers and directors of the film are currently working on a follow-up film, titled “He Dreamed of Giants”, which dives into the history of the film’s making this time around and what has happened since the events documented in “Lost in La Mancha”. Count me in!

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 out our full chats with Blindspot stars Jaimie Alexander and Sullivan Stapleton!