Film Review: “Marriage Story”

Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver and Laura Dern
Directed by: Noah Baumbach
Rated: R
Running Time: 136 minutes
Netflix

It’s an impressive feat to reach out to an audience and make them feel something, especially when those audience members aren’t able to relate to the plight at hand. I say this because I’ve never been married, so I haven’t experienced the painful complications surrounding divorce. Despite that, I felt the pain, sorrow, and heartbreak experienced throughout “Marriage Story.”

When we first meet the New York couple, Charlie (Driver) and Nicole (Johansson), they’re narrating all the little things that they like about one another. We come to find out they’re both mentally going over a list of things they love about one another. The lists were at the behest of a mediator because their marriage is falling apart. Both stay silent over the list, choosing to never read them. Charlie, a playwright, and Nicole, an actress, have decided that marriage counseling isn’t right for them, and maybe their union isn’t right for them as well. Things erode further as Nicole accepts an acting job in Los Angeles, taking their son with her. Things crumble even further once Nicole is told by a friend about a divorce lawyer.

The narrations at the beginning feel like a distant memory midway through the movie. The split reaches a point where it becomes about who can do the most emotional damage, no dime spared. Even their more cordial conversations, feel tense because they’re on the verge of lunging at one another a delivering another blow to the other’s heart. Thankfully some of the tension is undercut by sardonic comedy and moments where ancillary characters simply help the two main characters breathe.

There is no right and wrong in “Marriage Story,” because it’s all messy, just like a real-life divorce. Now granted, director/writer Noah Baumbach does a fantastic job of layering each character with relatable and detestable attributes. We see moments of selfishness and selflessness from Charlie and Nicole. Baumbach does slip up in the middle and towards the end as he tends to focus more on Charlie’s distress and misery, rather than giving the audience a peek at what kind of turmoil is going on with Nicole.

“Marriage Story” offers up two of the best performance to date from Driver and Johansson, who are simply magnetic together on-screen. The dialogue is brutal, honest and straightforward, which bats away any potentially dull moments. Their divorce is a slow-moving car crash that you can’t look away from because of how engrossing it is, but because of how well Charlie and Nicole have been written, you can only hope that they both make it out OK in the end.

Film Review: “The Irishman”

Starring: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Rated: R
Running Time: 209 minutes
Netflix

There’s a lot of background noise surrounding Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman.” On one hand, you have the general movie-going crowd groaning over the stuffed runtime, and on the other hand, you have industry insiders bemoaning the dispute that Netflix has had with cinemas. In a lot of ways, these issues stem from an older generation, wondering why they need to sit through a movie this long or would want to seek out a movie that isn’t at their local conglomerate movie theater. These feel like such miniscule problems when you watch this film and realize it’s one of the best movies of 2019.

When we first meet Frank Sheeran (De Niro), he’s beside himself in a nursing home. No one pays any mind or bothers talking to the WWII veteran turned truck driver turned hitman. He has a wild story to tell, but no one to tell it to. So, he tells it to the audience. It begins in 1950’s Pennsylvania, where his stonewalling in court earns the respect of local gangster, Russell Bufalino (Pesci). The two quickly develop a bond and appreciation, so Bufalino starts having Frank do odd jobs, not petty crimes mind you, but murder. Frank makes a big enough splash that he’s soon introduced to infamous teamster, Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino). That’s when things get weird and violent.

Unlike Scorsese’s previous crime and mob movies, this film moves at a confident, quiet pace. It’s not sexually bombastic like “Wolf of Wall Street,” or violently speedy like “Goodfellas.” It has a lot to say and it’s going to take its God damn time. It has two and a half decades to cover, along with various flashbacks, and flashbacks within flashbacks. The narrative structure is built around the most shocking revelation of this movie, which most anyone with an understanding of criminal history in the U.S. should know before turning this movie on, but just in case, I won’t reveal it. Despite the lengthy runtime and the years of story the film pours over, this movie is rarely boring.

Scorsese is a master at making overly long films. He makes three hours seem like a walk through the park. It’s the style in which he shoots, the way he tells the character’s story and the outlandishness that he captures on screen. It’s almost like he taps into this primal ID, making us feast on the depravity of others. But “The Irishman” takes on small, but major step towards a different path. “Goodfellas” or “Wolf of Wall Street” doesn’t end well for the film’s antagonists. Their punishment is generally a mundane end to their life, but “The Irishman” takes it a step further. It shows that this wild lifestyle, filled with action and fun, ends alone. The final 30 minutes are bittersweet.

It unfolds in such an interesting way, that we become more wrapped up in Frank’s life and how he manages to balance these violent side gigs with a picturesque home life, with a wife and kids. We get little breadcrumbs about the Bufalino crime family and how much their tentacles have penetrated the East Coast. We also get a lot of intriguing political dramas as Pacino pushes the limits of overacting through Hoffa. Pacino never quite reaches the unnecessary acting heights of a film like “Scent of a Woman,” but he comes precariously close. Hoffa is crafted in such a flawed manner, that you come to sympathize and loathe him from scene-to-scene. Meanwhile, Pesci, in his most reserved role, is just as menacing as ever behind the wrinkles of Bufalino. There’s a lot of creative supporting work here as well from the likes of Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale and Harvey Keitel.

Putting a sweeping epic like this on Netflix seems bizarre to many. Decades ago, folks would have lined up around the block to see this film and theaters would have slapped an intermission in the middle so that people could refill on sugar drinks and salty popcorn. Instead this movie will be watched by people on their TVs at home, their computers, or even on their smartphone. There are a lot of people wondering why this film isn’t being shown the classic way. Maybe Scorsese recognizes the direction the industry is heading. He recently caught flack or making a negative comment about Marvel films, even though they were grossly taken out of context in the never-ending effort to satisfy today’s outrage culture. “The Irishman” feels like a bookend to a beloved genre, as Scorsese reflects on his past and says goodbye to the murderous crooks that made his career.

6 Best College Life Movies On Netflix

Are you afraid of what will happen with you after your last day in high school? After being a school student, college years feel like a move to a new age. To put it simple, during the first studying year in college, you have to learn a lot of hacks.

That’s why we created an exclusive list that may inspire, teach, and lead you of how to behave in different situations facing the college reality.
Also, with a new grade point calculator, you can easily predict your academic perspectives and calculate your GPA. Be the author of your studying process as a director on the set! Let’s have a look at these top six best films about college and what are the insights there right for you.

№ 1: Tiny Furniture (2010)

This is the story about a young Jewish girl that just finished college and doesn’t know how to manage real life. She is back in her hometown and becomes living with her family. How reality could be funny and disappointing at the same time, you may see in this movie. 

№ 2: She’s the Man (2006)

Viola loves playing football, but there is no chance to join the tournament for the girl’s team. The Viola’s brother is going to perform with his music band and ask the sister to pretend as she is her brother. He is leaving the school, and happy coincidence turns the dream of a young girl into reality. 

№ 3: Legally Blonde (2001)

This film is about stereotypes that young and beautiful blondie girl meets at Harvard Law School. After a hard breakup with her boyfriend, she decides to follow him in this school and has a hope to win him back. 

While at Harvard, she is proving herself and others, she is much smarter than people give her credit for. She has excellent work and self-development to improve her as a personality and uses it to her legal advantage. 

№ 4: The Social Network (2010)

The story of Harvard student Mark Zuckerburg tells us the facts of the creation of the social networking site. The process was followed by the legal dramas by fellow students who claimed he stole their idea. The Oscar-winning film tells about the price of being a genius and becoming famous.

 № 5: Liberal Arts  (2012)

The main character Jesse Fisher is 35, and he is single and uninspired by his job in college admissions. His life is turning all-around books. Jess feels deep nostalgia for his alma mater in Ohio.

Once his favorite professor invites him back to campus to speak at his retirement dinner, Jesse jumps at the chance.  While back at college, Jesse meets Zibby, a precocious 16-year-old student and classical music-loving sophomore. She awakens in Jesse’s long-dormant feelings of possibility and connection. While Zibby doesn’t care about the age difference, Jesse knows, this could make things complicated between them.

№ 6: Harry Potter – Film Series  (2001-2011)

It is hard to find the person (especially those who were born in the 1990s) that doesn’t know the story about the boy with a scar. Everybody wanted to be like those kids from Hogwarts and were waiting for an invitation in an envelope brought by the owl. 

There are a lot of non-magical things appropriate for help in real life, not just adult college students, but also for boys and girls who are just reached 11 years old. That’s why not only the 90’s generation but also many younger teens like the story about Harry Potter and his friends because Hogwarts’ life is very similar to the real one.

Conclusion

Sometimes we can’t say “Avada Kedavra” to the teacher that giving college students too many home tasks, but we can find a lot of answers on how to make the college life magically fun. As you may see from the film on this list, the student’s life may be useful in many other aspects, not just studying.

Top Gambling Movies on Netflix

  

Gambling can be rewarding or draining in equal measures. Most players can attest to the dynamic nature of the gaming industry. When it gets overwhelming with a limited bankroll, it is advisable to watch Las Vegas movies on Netflix – an online movie streaming site.

Gambling movies are not only glamorous but also quite entertaining. The adventure and thrill of staking colossal amounts and risking it in one sitting make these movies a must-watch. With numerous choices, it may be challenging to settle on the best. Enjoy a flashy world of chips and coins in our best compilation of casino movies.

Mississippi Grind

It is among the top movies about gambling, which premiered in 2015. The main characters are Curtis and Gerry meet by chance in Iowa while indulging in Texas Hold’Em game in a play casino. They decide to take a road trip through various cities to try their luck in the world of gambling. Their ultimate cash reward lies in New Orleans, where they hope to win big. The movie portrays the risky nature of gamblers in their quest for a breakthrough. Despite the losses, they believe that they are one game away from their win. Eventually, the duo receives their big break. Although the Mississippi Grind does not depict the glitz and glamour of casinos, it is a thrilling movie that keeps the audience on edge with numerous questions about casinos.

The Gambler

For those who love a front seat to a ground-breaking performance involving crime and the promise of a good life, The Gambler is the movie to watch. A 2014 blockbuster with Jim Bennet as the star actor tells a story of a professor caught up in the world of gambling. He is a serious addict who stakes high amounts at dingy gambling rings. One game goes erratic, and he finds himself in a huge debt of $240,000 to the casino owner. The movie reveals the murkier side of gambling that most people do not know. It has a captivating theme of addiction without the glitz and lavish lifestyle of high-rolling gamblers. The Gambler is a must-watch for those who love a creative storyline about the gambling den.

Casino Royale

It is among the popular gambling movies on Netflix with a huge fan base. Casino Royale, a James Bond franchise, is a 2006 box-office hit with an appealing Vegas theme that leaves the audience yearning for more drama. The major star is Daniel Craig, who plays the role of James Bond, a spy agent. He chases the bad guy Le Chiffre and attempts to trick him during a poker game with high stakes. The spy film brings out the lavish casino life and the underworld lifestyle of gamblers.

21

Another example of fine poker movies on Netflix is 21. It is a 2008 film based on a true story of MIT students depicted in Ben Mezrich’s book, Bringing Down the House. The intelligent students form a team called Blackjack with a specialty in card counting by use of secret signals to communicate with each other. Eventually, they take a trip to Vegas where they get a chance to strike a fortune or lose everything. It is a film that brings out the gambling fever in students who want over-night success. 21 is a great treat for the casino enthusiasts.

Ocean’s 11

It is a 2001 hit film with a captivating storyline. Ocean’s 11 is by far among the best casino movies on Netflix. With top-tier cast of actors such as Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Matt Damon, among others, the audience is set to have a thrilling experience. The plot involves a well-planned criminal activity after Danny Ocean comes out of prison and plans a robbery with his crime partners. The heist involves three casinos in Las Vegas. Ocean’s 11 brings out the theme of crime and the glamour of the gambling world.

Conclusion

Although there are numerous films about gambling, this list will come in handy during those desperate Netflix and chill moments. Take a break from the stress of casinos, sit back, relax, and enjoy the thrill of a poker film.

Leaf of Faith Kratom Documentary on Netflix Review

Kratom plant continues to be severely debated because of its controversial nature. It enjoys full freedom in some and a complete ban in many countries. There are many myths regarding this herb which continue to hound it till this date. However there are some active users who don’t shy away from using it and continue to propagate it through different mediums. After early discovery in the 19th century, people would boil kratom leaves and chew them, but now it is available in the form of powder. If you want good quality lab-tested kratom powder you can get it from kratom crazy.

A Leaf of faith is a popular documentary on kratom, which was released on Netflix and enjoyed massive success. It was directed and produced by Chris Bell who is a veteran documentary filmmaker in the US. Before beginning his career as a filmmaker, Chris was a bodybuilder and wrestler.

It was his own story filled with success and sorrows which compelled him to go the extra mile and record a video on kratom. He openly talked about his addiction and explained how he lost his brother.

A leaf of faith is a movie which tells about kratom and its benefits as a herb which can help in curtailing addiction. Though there is no medical evidence in support of the drug, the filmmaker has used his own experience to tell about it to people.

What are the different moves?

A leaf of faith begins its journey by telling about how many people suffer from opium addiction and gives some staggering figures nobody ever heard about. In the movie, the director describes his journey with kratom and how he cleared all the doubts in his mind. That’s not all; the documentary features many interviews with different people and provides positive and negative views regarding kratom.

You will be interested to see Chris McCurdy, one of the top-notch kratom experts and other notable people giving their take on this plant. Different people discuss interesting facts about kratom and also enlighten people regarding some very controversial less known facts about this herb. The best part about this documentary is its neutral nature. The director provides both sides of the plant and doesn’t take any. He lets the viewers decide their stance.

Final Thoughts

A leaf of faith is a must-watch for all those who intend to use kratom or are at least skeptical about it. It has a 4.9-star rating on Amazon and enjoys massive views. An important point to note here is the documentary is well researched, skillfully managed and will make you sit on your seats for an hour and a half. It has been shot in such a way that viewers won’t get distracted at all. So if you are a kratom user, you must see this film. A leaf of faith is film worth watching for it breaks the stereotypes and gives a broader perspective of this plant.  Hadn’t it been for the efforts of this director, people would had to spend a lot of time on research.

 

How To Unblock Netflix Across All Your Devices

Netflix is the largest provider of movies and tv shows in the world. But did you know that you may not be getting access to the entire Netflix library from your location? Due to global copyright laws and territorial licensing, Netflix does not open up its entire library globally, so you may be missing out on tons of movies and tv shows.

What does this mean?

Even though you are paying the same amount for your Netflix subscription in Singapore as you are in the United States, you’re not getting nearly as much content. 

In order to gain access to content outside the country you’re in, you used to have to physically move yourself to a different country – or connect to a server in a different country. For example, if you were in Singapore, and you wanted to access the US library, you’d have to connect to a U.S. server. Depending on where you are in the world, connecting to a U.S. server could slow down your internet speeds and you’ll end up buffering instead of streaming.

But fear not! With SurfShark you can now unblock Netflix on all your devices and gain access to the entire U.S. Netflix library of content regardless of your global location! Connect seamlessly to the server closest to you, and you’ll still get access to not just the US Netflix library, but you’ll also bypass any regional blocked content, too! No buffering, no slowing down – just pure, uninterrupted streaming! Plus, SurfShark is available on all devices, so no matter how you like to stream your content, we’ve got you covered.

How does it work?

Any time you access a website, you are sending that website information about where you are, called your IP address. Many countries have what is called regional blocking, which is when users coming from a certain country or location are blocked from accessing certain websites or content. This is typically due to censorship or copyright laws. When you encounter a blocked website, it’s because your IP address has indicated that you are in a country or region that has blocked access to that site.

VPN, or virtual private network, creates a private tunnel that protects your information and location. Instead of using your device’s IP address, connecting to VPN uses the server’s IP address. Depending on which server you connect to, that’s where your location will be seen as from other websites. For example, if I’m in Japan and I want to access content that is restricted, I can connect to a server in the United States and I will be granted access to that content. Why? Because the website will think I’m coming from the United States.

How to Unblock Netflix Across Your Devices

1. Sign-up for SurfShark account

SurfShark VPN allows you to unlock content libraries across your devices, and has a 30-day money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied. We offer the privacy of having your own network, plus great speeds for streaming no matter your global location.

2. Download the SurfShark app for each of your devices

With your SurfShark account, there’s no limit to the number of connections you can have, so all your devices can be hooked-up without impact to your streaming speeds.

  • Desktops & Laptops: SurfShark is available for download on your desktop or laptop, and supports iOS, Windows, and Linux operating systems.
  • Browser Extensions: If you aren’t able to download apps on your computer because of administrator privileges (like, for example, your work computer), SurfShark also has browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
  • Phones & Tablets: SurfShark is available through the Apple App Store, as well as Google Play Store. Whether you’re an avid Apple product user love your Android, there are apps for you!
  • Smart TVs: Amazon Fire Stick & Apple TV apps are available through each online app store. If you have a different brand of smart tv, you also have the option of utilizing a Smart DNS.
  • Gaming Consoles: Have an XBox or Playstation? We have an app for those too!

3. Login to your SurfShark account & connect to a local server

Once you’ve downloaded the apps for all your devices, go ahead and login to each of them using your SurfShark account. SurfShark has no limits to the number of devices you can use, so go ahead and login to your heart’s desire!

Want access to the U.S. Netflix library? No problem! Using the SurfShark app on the device of your choice, connect to the closest server to your current location with the exception of servers located in the UK, Japan, India, France, the Netherlands, or Italy. That means if you’re in Germany, connect to a German server, and enjoy streaming the full U.S. Netflix library at high speeds!!

4. Login to your Netflix Account on your devices and start streaming!

You’re probably thinking, does this violate my terms of service with Netflix? Nope! While Netflix doesn’t endorse the use of VPN to unlock regional content, it’s not restricted or a violation of their terms of service.

You already have a Netflix account, so make sure you’re getting access to the full line-up available and not restricted based on your location! Keep up with your favorite shows and movies, no matter where you travel globally.

 

Film Review: “Roma”

Starring: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira and Fernando Grediaga
Directed By: Alfonso Cuaron
Rated: R
Running Time: 135 minutes
Netflix

You know the phrase, “a slice of Americana,” or at the least the variations of it? In pop-culture it’s used to describe pop-culture that capture a moment in time, with the values and ideas reflected in the American characters on screen. Classics like “The Best Years of Our Lives” or “A Christmas Story” come to mind, while its contemporary cohorts are films like “Mudbound” or “Friday Night Lights.” Alfonso Cuaron’s latest movie, “Roma,” could be called a slice of Mexicana.

Cuaron returns to his roots in “Roma,” a film about Sofia’s (Tavira) strained household in Mexico City in the early 1970s. Living under the roof is Sofia’s four children, her mother, her “husband,” and two maids. The drama involving Sofia and her husband, who are separating, is placed on the backburner to stew to its natural boiling point towards the end of the movie. But one of her maids, Cleo (Aparicio), is surprisingly the core drama for most of the film. That’s because Cleo believes she’s pregnant and once she shares this news with her boyfriend, he quickly abandons her in the worst possible way. Unfortunately things don’t get any better for Cleo.

So much transpires in such little time, and sometimes in such few words, that “Roma” feels like the most poignant chapter of an autobiography. At face value, there’s nothing extraordinary about the people in the Sofia household, but because Cuaron captures the seesawing family dynamics so perfectly, it’s hard to look away during some of the film’s simplest scenes. It also makes some of the most emotionally devastating scenes, and there are several, much more impactful and riveting.

The actors in “Roma,” who’ve never starred in anything before or aren’t household names in the U.S., but are in Mexico, are outstanding here. Kudos to Cuaron for finding Aparico, who effortlessly handles the hefty amount of emotion, her character demands. This is her first role and certainly won’t be her last. The multi-layered maternal roles that Aparico and Tavira tackle are difficult, but their performances are nuanced and subtle, but speak volumes about gender roles, whether it be in society as a whole or in the Sofia household.

While Cuaron broke visual ground in “Gravity,” he proves to be an equally captivating director with the classic panoramic format, capturing rarely before seen beauty in the black and white picture. Even in monochromatic, the city streets pop, the seaside is picturesque, and the surrounding mountains have never looked more beautiful. Nearly every facet of “Roma” has been meticulously groomed by Cuaron, whose letting us watch him blow a kiss to his native land as tears fall from his eyes.

 
Related Content

“Cargo” Creators Discuss Their Australian Zombie Drama

The Australian-based zombie drama Cargo was released on cinemas down under this month and is currently streaming internationally on Netflix. It follows Andy (Martin Freeman, read his interview here) a father facing down a viral plague outbreak and journeying across the Australian wild to get his baby somewhere safe. Along the way he encounters both natural and human foes and joins forces with Thoomi (Simone Landers), a young indigenous girl who saw her own father taken by the virus. The film was based on a short that debuted at Australia’s Tropfest in 2013. I sat down with directors Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke as well as producer Kristina Ceyton (The Babadook) to discuss expanding their unique zombie take to a feature.

Lauren Damon: What made you approach a zombie film from this father-daughter angle?

Yolanda Ramke: I guess, I mean for us that really was sort of the heart of the short film— was this relationship between the father and the child. And I think we felt like with the response that the short got that that was the theme, like the vibe that was really resonating with people. So we knew that that was something that we wanted to hold on to in sort of a longer form story. And then it was just a case of you know, fleshing that out. And how do you expand that from a seven minute thing to a hundred minute thing? And then also yeah, how do you bring something kind of that you feel might at least have some element of freshness to it within that genre. For us, it was going Aussie and thinking about our culture.

LD: With such a populated genre, you know, “The Walking Dead” would have already been on a couple seasons when you made the short—do you watch other content out there or try to avoid it?

Ramke: Well I think when the short kind of came out, it was maybe the “Walking Dead” was in season 2?

Ben Howling: End of season two.

Ramke: So it was still sort of like at its zenith and it was—but yeah, we were keeping tabs definitely. I think it’s good to know what other projects are doing and just to make sure that you’re conscious of that. And pushing away from it where you can.

LD: Do any of you have small children that influenced this story at all?

Ramke: We don’t, no.
Howling:No. We have fathers though!
Ramke: We have parents!

LD: Parents who would combat zombies for you?

Ramke: [laughing] Yeah, exactly. That’s it. I think they would.

Kristina Ceyton: ‘Dad, can you carry me on your back?’
Howling: We’ve actually both got fathers who are kind of like engineers, mechanic engineer types, so I guess that kind—the ingenuity of that, we’d be fine—
Ramke: Yeah, I think we both think they probably could do something like that.

Cargo Directors Ben Howling, Yolanda Ramke and producer, Kristina Ceyton

LD: Kristina, you also produced The Bababook which had that heavy mother-son theme front and center, was this project like a funny coincidence to go to a father-daughter?

Ceyton: It is. It’s funny, like initially I didn’t make that connection at all on that level because I just gravitated to the story and you know, was really moved by it. I think it is a genre movie that is surprisingly emotional and has a lot of deep layers about exactly the, you know, parent to child dynamic…but yeah, I suppose there’s parallels, but it’s a very different beast in this instance. I think it’s a lot less psychological and this is about survival and about transcending death. And I think what you would do, you know, the length you would go to to sacrifice yourself for love and family and also community on a more broader level. Yeah. I think it’s those things that really resonated.

LD: When expanding from short to feature, what was the decision making process like on how much more to reveal about the nature of this virus? Because the short was obviously very sparse on details.

Ramke: I think we were really interested in the idea of just throwing the audience in the middle of it. And just personally because we love films that do that. And that make the audience work a little bit to kind of put things together. And I think we just also felt within this genres, we’ve seen a lot of stories that were about finding the cure or that sort of thing and we just thought, ‘well that’s been done really well by other films.’ It just didn’t interest us to go there. I think we just thought, how can we carefully deal out bread crumbs and details for people to put the world together and work out what’s going on. And then just let them go on this journey with this father and this baby and this indigenous girl.

LD: Yeah, that indigenous element is very unique to this film, did you outreach to people in those communities to get their perspective?

Howling: Yeah, in script development, we brought a script consultant on, Jon Bell—who is an indigenous writer from back home and he was able to kind of walk us through. We had some ideas which we’d researched but then we’d discuss with him—‘is this feasible? Is this practical?’ Indigenous culture is very sensitive back home because you could never make a blanket statement like ‘everyone would behave like this.’ There’s all these micro-communities that have these different cultures and values and practices. So he was able to help us navigate those waters in terms of what would be the appropriate response. And then on top of that, just with his own experience. Talking about ways that you can use indigenous hunting techniques and things like that.

Ramke: And then from there, once we knew where we were shooting, which was South Australia, it was a case of conversing with local elders in those communities as well. Just to make sure that we were sort of tailoring things to that region. And giving them the script and making sure that they were comfortable with what was happening. Seeking formal permission to use language in the film. And just trying to basically approach it as respectfully as possible.

LD: How did you go about casting Thoomi?

Ramke: She was a find. Our casting director Nikki Barrett had put a call out. So that had gone to a load of very regional communities across Australia and we had kids filming themselves on their phones, having their parents like read the lines off camera in these very monotone voices. It was just super cute. And yeah, we got down to four girls who we did sort of a workshop with and we just felt like Simone from day one was sort of the standout. And yeah, she really killed it.

LD: How did you get in touch for casting Martin Freeman? Had he seen the short?

Ceyton: No he didn’t so we approached his agent. It was just basically the traditional way of approaching his agent and the initial response was ‘I don’t think that Martin likes genre films’ [laughs] But luckily he read the script and really loved it and fell in love also with the story of this dual kind of father-daughter relationship and survival. And I think for him, it was never really a ‘genre film.’ So luckily he was available at that time and just all the pieces fell into place.

LD: Did his casting change anything within the film seeing as he is basically THE whole film?

Ramke: It would have been just very small things. I think at the point that he had come on we were in the process of doing another draft anyway. So just subconsciously as a writer once you know who the actor is going to be and you’re familiar with their work, you can kind of hear their voice a little bit. So when you’re writing dialogue, there’s an element of writing it with that person in mind. But I think also once we knew that we were going to be casting a British actor, which is something we had hoped to do from quite an early on—that also informs some of the more thematic threads of the story, in terms of Australia’s colonial history. And that just absolutely put more meat on the bones I guess.

LD: Can you talk more about Australia’s past in terms of this story?

Ramke: Absolutely. Just in terms of Australia obviously being, a long way back, colonized by the British and there were a lot of ramifications that kind of linger. In terms of social issues and Australia has some work to do, I think, in terms of acknowledging that past. And you know, it hasn’t been handled in a way that some other nations like, I believe, Canada and New Zealand, where there are treaties with their indigenous people. It’s all been quite overlooked. So I think there is still a lot of collective pain that exists in indigenous Australia. And we just didn’t want to ignore that, I suppose. But we also didn’t want to get too preachy about it either. So it was something we could just let sit in the story, just by nature of being English and coming into contact with this indigenous—

LD: And him requiring their assistance.

Ramke: That’s right. That’s sort of like the reversal of the sort of historical context, I guess in a way.

LD: How did you go about developing the other Australians in the film? The human villains, who weren’t present in the short.

Howling: I think in early drafts we just explored a variety of like different antagonists. And then we just kind of blended them together into one kind of more fleshed-out three dimensional kind of person…It was nice to have somebody as a bit of a contrast to the indigenous response which was to go back to the land and traditional ways. And this is somebody who is very attached to western living and can’t let go of it. So it was just in terms of creating that, that split between the two of them and learning his motivation and fleshing it out from there.

LD: When you make a zombie-apocalypse film like this, do you find yourself considering what you would do in this worst-case scenario?

Ramke: Ohhhh…have you ever thought about what you’d actually do?
[laughter]
Howling: That makes you cocky…
Ramke: No, but I think ultimately it would always come back to family though. It would always be about ‘Are my family safe? How do I re-connect with my family?’ and make sure that we’re together if this was to go down.
Howling: But what if they’re already infected??
Ramke: [Gasps] Oh! Well I just can’t even deal with that idea, that would be heartbreaking.

LD: Your zombies are unique in that they’ve got a different design, this orange slime rather than regular blood and gore, what was the thought behind that?

Ramke: Yeah, we didn’t want to do the gory bloody thing. And I think that that just came from this approach that we tried to take to the whole film which was to just to try and keep it as sort of grounded as we could. And as subtle as we could. And that idea of that design aesthetic coming out of the natural environment. The idea that this sort of toxicity in the environment and that it sort of literally affecting the land and that is spreading to the people. So the influence for that was like tree sap was like a visual reference. That more organic kind of reference.

LD: Are you excited that this film with be hitting the Netflix audience?

Ramke: Yeah we are!

LD: Are you guys the Netflix binge-watch types, do you have favorites?

Howling: Yeah, definitely.
Ramke: I loved “The OA”. “The OA”, “Stranger Things”, I feel like there’s some other really great shows that I’m completely neglecting!
Howling: There’s really not much that I don’t binge on.
Ramke: Yeah, you’re a really good binge-er.
Howling: “Dark”, “Requiem”.
Ramke: “Requiem’s” cool, yeah.
Howling: Just recently, actually just the other day I smashed out “Lost in Space.”

LD: Do you have personal favorite zombie or horror films?

Ramke: Shaun of the Dead is my favorite zombie film, actually. But I think in terms of reference points for this film, oh my goodness, we were looking at more sci-fi stuff. So like Children of Men, District 9 and I guess The Road as well is sort of comparable.

Howling: And also Frank Darabont’s “The Walking Dead” season one was out. That’s what really kind of like ignited us back into the zombie thing…he only did season one. That was like a six-part, it’s very different to the rest.

You can watch Cargo now on Netflix.

 

Related Content

Martin Freeman on Carrying Netflix’s CARGO

Martin Freeman was last seen on screen this year providing comic support to Wakandans in the blockbuster Marvel smash, Black Panther but this Friday on Netflix, he jumps to the forefront of a very different sci-fi landscape in Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke’s Cargo. This fantastic zombie plague story sees Freeman playing Andy, the father of adorable baby Rosie, who is unfortunately bitten by zombies and is racing against the clock to carry Rosie to safety across the Australian outback.

Cargo made its stateside premiere last month at the Tribeca Film Festival, after which I got to speak with Martin by phone about working in the horror genre, and of course what tech he’d like to lift from Shuri’s lab!

Lauren Damon: Before the Tribeca premiere had you seen the film?

Martin Freeman: I had, yeah. But only a long time ago on a laptop.

LD: I imagine it was more effective with other people around…

MF: [laughs] Yeah, it went down very well actually, yeah. It was very well received. It was late and people need not hang around for questions but they did. I think it seemed very positive, yeah.

LD: With the film going to Netflix next, are you excited? Are you a big Netflix user yourself?

MF: I am a frequent Netflix user, yes, very much so. I think when you make a film initially, you always envision it having a theatrical release. But maybe generations now don’t envision that. But my generation envisions a theatrical release and it’s getting that in Australia. The rest of [the world] is on Netfilx, that platform, and you think ‘ok, well fair enough.’ But then you actually think it’s more than fair enough because way more people are going to see it on Netflix eventually than would do in a theatrical setting. Just the accessibility of it, the ease with which you could see the amount of things you could see, yeah, I’m more than happy about it.

LD: With Cargo filming mainly being outdoors and with your character carrying the baby everywhere, what was the hardest part about shooting?

MF: Probably just getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. That was pretty challenging. Holding babies on my back was kind of alright. Sort of felt like free gym work, really.

LD: So you lost weight by shooting the film?

MF: I probably did. I probably did. I ate sort of reasonably healthily…but yeah I was constantly carrying a backpack.

LD: I assume there were multiple babies to rotate through?

MF: Yeah, two sets of twins. One pair of twins turned out, quite quickly, to be the more amenable pair. And the other pair was used more for in sort of wide shots.

LD: When you’re acting in an apocalyptic film or a zombie film, do you start thinking about the choices your character is making and whether you’d agree with Andy?

MF: Yeah, I think he did everything he could really. Part of what makes it relatable for me is that his actions seem very human.

LD: Do you think about if a zombie plague broke out what you—as Martin—would do?

MF: I haven’t thought about that a lot, no. No, not a lot. I don’t really fear zombies…but when the shit really hits the fan, whatever form that’s gonna come in…No, I guess like everybody else I’d panic [laughs]. Most people just hole up…

LD: Meanwhile, you’ve also just appeared in Andy Nyman’s Ghost Stories. If you don’t fear zombies, what about ghosts and the supernatural?

MF: Not really. I mean I kind of…I’m open to belief in the supernatural if it can’t be empirically disproved or proved. But no, I haven’t ever seen a ghost. I’ve had, you know, the occasional spooky night. Once you hear something that goes bump or bang and you start making up your own narrative for it. And I’ve been rooted to the spot a few times on my stairs thinking ‘is that a ghost or is it a burglar?’ And fortunately it was neither.

LD: Do you have any favorite horror films or ghost stories?

MF: I don’t know if they count it as horror…The first one I saw as a young child was Psycho. So that was when I was about seven and that was—it really affected me a lot. That first experienced of being very very frightened.

LD: In some sequences of Ghost Stories you get to play sinister, which I’m not used to seeing you in that way, was it fun to go there?

MF: Yeah, it’s a lot of fun. I loved it. It’s just always nice to lean into another part of your personality and be able to perform in a different way. Because I think as the film goes on and what I’m doing goes on, it was allowed to get a little more heightened and theatrical. You don’t always, in front of the camera, get the license to be that theatrical and that slightly camp. Your job in front of the camera is usually to be very real and not do any acting at all. Or at least that’s the job I give myself. But to do something a little bit more arch—you know, he becomes a function of the story then, as opposed to a three dimensional character. He becomes the function of the story to do something to Professor Goodman he has to have an effect on [him]. And I really enjoyed, yeah, just having to fuck with Andy Nyman. That was really good fun, yeah.

LD: Between Ghost Stories and Cargo, you undergo some pretty heavy makeup prosthetics, is that fun to get more into it? Or something more challenging?

MF: It is a bit of both, really. It is fun, because I’ve not done loads of it so it’s still—it doesn’t feel too much like the day job for me. It isn’t boring yet to do prosthetics. But yeah, the challenges are just the time it takes and the relative discomfort of it. Just there is a layer between you and the outside world that you’re not used to. There’s a layer between you and the other actors that you’re not used to. I guess with Cargo it was meant to be uncomfortable. And as I say, where we were filming at that time was quite hot…

LD: Yeah and then I imagine being under a bunch of zombie makeup in the hot sun…

MF: Yeah, just getting eaten by mosquitoes and I didn’t get on very well with the contact lenses. I didn’t get on very well with those [laughs]

LD: It looked good!

MF: Good. Yeah, then it’s for a good cause.

LD: Between Cargo and Ghost Stories, which order did you shoot them in? Was it close together?

MF: They were quite close together actually. Yeah, I shot Cargo first and then about a month later I shot Ghost Stories. The month after I came back from Australia, I went up to northern England and shot Ghost Stories.

LD: So you were in like horror genre mode.

MF: Kind of yeah, it sort of worked out like that. And of course it, you know, as far as the actor’s concerned, that’s never The Plan. Because you very rarely have any plan at all other than, you know, be able to pay the rent. It’s just what comes to you that you respond to for whatever reason and I’ve got pretty poor taste in what I like—what I like as a viewer. And what I like doing as an artist….I guess there’s more genre around now than there was twenty years ago. There’s more genre around now. And I’m still from the old school of ‘hey it’s the story’. It has be as story that I like. That I would like to participate in totally regardless of genre. I never give a single second thought to genre.

LD: Speaking of being able to pay the rent—congratulations on being in Black Panther, only the highest US grossing movie ever right now, that’s pretty exciting!

MF: Yeah. Yeah, very exciting.

LD: I am just a giant Marvel nerd, so I’m also wondering, if you could have any of the tech from Shuri’s lab in real life, what would you pick?

MF: Hmmm. Well…anything involving the black sand so it could move around and make shit. If you can picture it, if you can envision it, then the black sand would make it to be like that, that would be very helpful.

LD: What would you use it for?

MF: I’m not sure. Probably just furniture. I like the idea of that. Furniture and shoes.

LD: Just have a nice chair to sit on when you need it…

MF: Yeah, exactly. [laughs] A very nice chair.

Cargo starts streaming on Netflix on Friday May 18th

Black Panther was just released on digital and blu-ray

New Netflix Original Series inspired by the music of the Beatles, “Beat Bugs” Airing Now!

 Netflix has been known for their original series content. They have come up with some truly amazing shows like “Marvel’s Daredevil” or “Orange is the New Black”. One of their latest their latest though is aimed at a slightly younger audience yet has stolen the hearts of the entire family. The new preschool-targeted animated children’s show is called “Beat Bugs”, it is a Netflix Original Series inspired by the music of the Beatles. That’s right the Beatles. Each episode is specifically titled after a song and it also re-recorded and sang throughout the episode. I cannot recommend this show any more! Fun for the whole family!

This show follows five friendly, child-like bugs that learn big lessons about the world around them, all from the safety of their own backyard. There is no shortage of talent either, this Emmy Award-winning series features the talents of P!nk, Sia, Eddie Vedder, James Corden as well as other big-name stars who cover the Beatles songs in each episode. The main reason why “Beat Bugs” is so important because it introduces a whole new generation to one of the most influential band in rock history (and my favorite), The Beatles.

I have a five year old daughter and she doesn’t like The Beatles…she LOVES them! From the moment she was born literally, we had Beatles lullabies playing in the hospital and flash forward five years, she is gearing up to see Paul McCartney live in concert this Summer! She is non-stop singing their songs. So when I introduced this show to her and the she heard the theme song “All You Need is Love” kick off, her eyes lit up…let’s just say that it took literally six episodes before we could get her away from the TV!

Netflix really has a huge hit on their hands here and I know that there is lots more planned for this show in the future with cool consumer products outside of the episodes. If you want to find out more about this show please check it out via the following links: Official WebsiteNetflix Page. Stay tuned also to MediaMikes.com as we will be covering this show with all their excited new products coming out this Summer.

Eric Bauza talks about voicing Puss in Boots in Netflix Animated Series “The Adventures of Puss in Boots”

Eric Bauza is one of the most talented voice actors in the business. He is wel known for voice characters like Tiger Claw in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” to Chet in “Turbo FAST”. His latest role is also one of his biggest in which he is starring as Puss in Boots in the new Netflix animated series “The Adventures of Puss in Boots” from DreamWorks Animation. The show premieres today, January 16, 2015, on Netflix. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Eric about this role and his voice work.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about what we can expect from the new Netflix animated series “The Adventures of Puss in Boots”?
Eric Bauza: Basically it is the same character that we have grown to love from the feature films and now he is getting his very own Netflix series, which is very exciting. The possibilities are endless here. They have him on the go again and he stumbles upon this town by accident and he was looking for – (in Puss’ voice) I was looking for treasure and as a humble gato, I was also looking for my next meal (end Puss’ voice). He finds this city and falls in love with the town and swears to protect it again outlanders. It is funny because even though he is a good guy, he always has that bit of mischief that follows behind him. He was basically after the town’s treasure but ends up becoming their protector since the town, of course, has orphans in it and he himself is an orphan.

MG: How does this show differ from the “Shrek” films and “Puss in Boots” spin-offs?
EB: I think we have a little more breathing room and knowing that the end of each episode is not the end of the show, since it is an ongoing series. So we have a lot time to explore. There is a lot of background explored as well as some great new characters. These are things that usually don’t have in a feature. As an actor, I think that is very comfortable to be in that situation.

MG: Is there any possibility of well-known characters from the series popping up in this show?
EB: I would love to have any of the flagship characters from the “Shrek” universe making an appearance. But we do have an abundance of new fairy tale creatures that we are bringing in. We also have a few great celebrity guest stars that we are bringing in like Danny Trejo, John Leguizamo and H. Jon Benjamin have done some characters for us. There are so many surprises that are coming up but I do not want to spoil them all, so tune in and find out for yourself.

MG: You have voiced numerous characters in your career; which have been your favorites?
EB: Puss in Boots is definitely up there for me and one of my favorites. Antonio Banderas is such a huge star and (in Puss’ voice) to do a part that was done by Antonio, as a voice over artist that is something else (end Puss’ voice). I have done Marvin the Martian for Warner Bros and to me Mel Blanc is the Godfather of voice over. So to know that I was able to do a Mel Blanc character is huge.

MG: Going from Puss in Boots to Tiger Claw in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” to Chet in “Turbo FAST”; what kind of characters are your favorite to play?
EB: That is the tricky about Puss in Boots because he always starts off as the rough around the edges – he is either an outlaw or a hero. I have done a vast amount of bad guys though. I voiced Destro from G.I. Joe. Marvin the Martian, like I said, he is a bad guy. I love being the bad guy every now and then. And I am a Canadian, so it is hard for me to be bad [laughs].

MG: Later this year you have “Transformers: Robots in Disguise”; what can you tell us about these projects?
EB: Yeah, “Transformers”, you are talking about an icon there. I got to work with Peter Cullen aka the voice of Optimus Prime. Khary Payton voices Grimlock and he also voiced Cyborg in “Teen Titans”. We all are like huge nerds already, so put us all in the same room and it’s a lot of fun.

Official Poster for the Netflix original series "Hemlock Grove"

Available on Netflix April 19, 2013

From Executive Producer Eli Roth
 
Developed by Brian McGreevy & Lee Shipman
 
Starring Famke Janssen, Dougray Scott, Bill Skarsgård, Landon Liboiron, Penelope Mitchell and Freya Tingley
Synopsis: From executive producer Eli Roth and based on Brian McGreevy’s novel of the same name, Hemlock Grove is a riveting one-hour murder mystery that revolves around the residents of a former Pennsylvania steel town. When 17-year-old Brooke Bluebell is brutally murdered, any of Hemlock’s peculiar inhabitants – or killer creatures – could be suspects. Through the investigation, the town’s seamier side is exposed, revealing nothing is what it seems. Beautiful, terrifying and graphic, Hemlock Grove is unlike anything else in its genre.
All 13 episodes of Season 1 will be available exclusively on Netflix
beginning April 19, 2013
 
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