Film Review: “Richard Jewell”

Starring: Paul Walter Hauser, Sam Rockwell
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Rated: Rated R
Running Time: 1 hr 59 mins
Warner Bros 

Richard Jewell. I cannot help but wonder how many Americans recognize the name and the heroic actions associated with it. Better yet, who can recall how Jewell’s heroism during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia was tragically stained by an assumption of guilt by the FBI and the news media, which subsequently caused millions to believe he was a domestic terrorist. Thankfully, someone in the form of iconic, Oscar-winning filmmaker Clint Eastwood did not forget and has now made a poignant drama that pays tribute to a simple man who saved dozens of lives one hot summer night. 

It’s 1986 in Atlanta where Richard Jewell (Paul Walter Hauser, “BlacKkKlansman”) has just started work as a mailroom employee at a law firm. Portrayed as respectful and observant with a dose of simple-mindedness, Jewell catches the eye of attorney Watson Bryant (Oscar-winner Sam Rockwell). A pivotal friendship develops between them with long-term consequences and when Jewell announces that he is leaving to become a security guard, a first step in what he dreams will become a career in law enforcement, Watson, a bit of crusader, warns him to not let the badge go to his head.

 Flash forward ten years later where Jewell, who lives with his doting mother, Bobi (Oscar-winner Kathy Bates), is fired from his job as a college campus security guard after a series of events that include him unlawfully pulling over students on the road as they return to school grounds. Having previously been dismissed as county sheriff’s deputy, it would seem likely that Jewell would have a hard time getting another security guard job. However, with the arrival of the Olympics in Atlanta, bodies are needed, so Jewell, almost delusional about being a member of law enforcement, gets another chance to patrol Centennial Park. 

No one takes Jewell seriously, that is until he finds a suspicious backpack filled with pipe bombs. Two people do perish as a result of the subsequent explosion and dozens are wounded, but it would have been much worse without his actions in a pre-9/11 world that wasn’t quite as vigilant. Jewell is hailed as a hero, but he is quickly labeled as a villain by fictional FBI agent Tom Shaw (Jon Hamm in a one-dimensional performance), a man desperate to get vengeance, and newspaper reporter Kathy Scruggs (played with over-the-top acting by Olivia Wilde), an unscrupulous and brash journalist willing to do anything to get a headline, even if it means destroying Jewell’s life in the process. 

One of the most sacred principles of our judicial system is the presumption of innocence. That all persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty. “Richard Jewell” reminds us all just how terribly wrong things can go when that fundamental adage can be so easily forgotten by a rush to judgment fueled by motives that are less than noble. Although Jewell was exonerated, his case remains a stain on our nation’s history. While Eastwood’s effort does not rise to the level of cinematic achievement as some of his other later works, such as “Gran Torino,” it is still a solid film that successfully plays the emotional heartstrings. Rockwell is a joy to watch, but the breakout star is Hauser. On the surface, his portrayal of Jewell appears too simplistic. However, as the film flows along, his performance reveals itself to be far more complex and impactful than what we first realize. By the end, his role makes you so invested in the story that it will stick with you long after the curtains close. 

Overall, Eastwood and Hauser are successful in accomplishing at least one thing – making us remember who real heroes are. 

Interview with Oscar Winner Richard Dreyfuss

With my 15th birthday approaching, my father asked me what I wanted to do.  Having been intrigued by the television commercials for a new film, “Dog Day Afternoon,” I told him I wanted to see that movie.  On Sunday, September 21, 1975, my father dropped me off at the University Square Mall Cinema in Tampa to see the movie.  Sadly, I didn’t know it was rated “R” and was told I couldn’t buy a ticket.  As I began to dejectedly walk away, the girl in the ticket booth called out to me “have you seen JAWS yet?”  I hadn’t.  124 minutes later, my life was changed.

I include this because of what I did after the film.  Like a normal kid, I wrote fan letters to the three stars.  I soon received a letter from Richard Dreyfuss’ cousin, Arlene, who informed me that she ran Richard’s fan club.  If I wanted to join, it would cost me $5.00 (a week’s allowance at that time).  I immediately sent her the money, along with a note saying “if you ever need any help.”  Within a few months, I was helping her with the club – basically I handled the fans east of the Mississippi river.  It was a great time for a teenager.  I’d scour the newspapers for articles about Richard and each month would send out a packet to the fans, which usually consisted of Xeroxed newspaper clippings and the occasional photograph.  Not sure how many members were in the club, but when it disbanded in November 1978, shortly after the release of “The Big Fix,” I was dealing with almost 1,000 fans.

I’ve been very fortunate to have met Mr. Dreyfuss twice in my life.  Once, in Baltimore, when he was on the set of the film “Tin Men,” and in July 2017 when we were both guests at a Hollywood Celebrity Show.  At that show I was able to stand near his table and listen to him tell the most amazing stories.  I mention this because Mr. Dreyfuss is currently traveling around the country, offering fans the opportunity to take in AN EVENING WITH RICHARD DREYFUSS.  He will be in Kansas City this week (April 4th) and I have been honored to have been chosen the moderator of the event.  Call it practice, but I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Dreyfuss and ask him some questions, a few of which may be included when we’re together Thursday night.

Mike Smith:  What led you to pursue a career in acting?

Richard Dreyfuss:  Wow!  I don’t know….what leads someone to follow what they love?  I don’t think I really had a choice. 

MS:  Was there a film or performer that inspired you?  I acted a lot through my 20s but couldn’t make a living at it, but the inspiration came from wanting to do what YOU did.  I know you’re a fan of actors like Charles Laughton, Irene Dunne and Spencer Tracy, among others.  Were they the catalyst?

RD:  They were, of course.  I have no memory of NOT wanting to be an actor.  I think the first time I got on record was when I was nine years old.  We had just moved to California from New York, and I said to my mother, “I want to be an actor.”  And she said, “Don’t just talk about it.”  So I went down to the local Jewish Community Center and auditioned for a play.  And I really never stopped.  I realistically never had more than ten days when I wasn’t acting in a play, or a scene or a class or a job until I was 27. 

MS:  You made your film debut in two very different films in 1967 – “The Graduate” and “The Valley of the Dolls.”  What do you think is the biggest difference between filmmaking then and today?

RD:  There are so many.  The general level of quality for an actor has plummeted.  When I was younger I never hesitated telling young actors to “go for it”…to pursue it.  And now I don’t say that, because the real rewards are so rare…so few and far between  The quality of scrips, from an acting viewpoint, suck.  The sequel syndrome that we’re in, which we can’t seem to get out of, has really lessoned the level of quality of writing.  Of story.  And it seems more arbitrarily decided upon as an element of chicanery and thievery, even for a business that’s famous for it, it goes on.  Film acting is not something I really recommend.  If you want to be an actor in America you can live a very great and satisfied life if you never think about being a star.  You can have a great life in Kansas City.  Or St. Louis.  Or a million other places.  But if you want to go for that kind of brass ring, which I would question – if you do want to go for it, go to therapy first – you’ve got to go to L.A. or New York.  And those towns are pretty sick.

MS:  You famously almost turned down your role in “Jaws.”  Are there any roles you turned down and then later regretted your decision?

RD:  Oh yeah.  I was once watching a movie and I kept thinking, gosh, this seems so familiar.”  I thought “oh, shit,” and then I remembered why.  And I didn’t ALMOST turn down “Jaws,” I did turn it down.  I turned it down twice.  And then I changed my mind and begged for the part.  (NOTE:  The story goes like this.  After turning down “Jaws” – twice – Mr. Dreyfuss saw his upcoming film “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz” and thought his performance was so terrible that he’d never work again.  He then called director Steven Spielberg and accepted the role.  Of course, when “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz” was released, Mr. Dreyfuss received rave reviews for his performance, even being named Runner Up as the Best Actor of 1974 (tied with Gene Hackman for “The Conversation”) by the New York Film Critics Circle.)

I will never tell you the ones I turned down that became hits.  Thank God there aren’t that many of them!

MS:  What fuels the passion for your work?

RD:  If you asked me a question about my process – how do you do this…what’s your method? – I would completely be unable to answer that.  And I’ve always known I’d never be able to answer those kind of questions.  But I know that, in a business where if you’re a successful actor you want to direct, I’ve never wanted to direct.  So I didn’t.  I wanted to act!  I had made a decision when I was very young, which probably wasn’t the most strategist thing to do in the world, but it was the way I chose to live.  Which is to day, if I do a drama, then I’ll do a comedy.  Then I’ll do a drama.  Then I’ll do a comedy.  That’s basically what I tried to do.  And the mistake in that is that I don’t think I ever did something enough times to establish a kind of signature recognition of what I do.  I did both.  I did lots.  And I thought that was the best way for me to pursue my life.  And that’s what I did for sixty years. 

MS:  Where do you keep your Oscar? (NOTE:  Mr. Dreyfuss received the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Elliot Garfield in “The Goodbye Girl.”  At age 30, he was, at the time, the youngest actor to win that award).

RD:  For the most part, in the refrigerator.  (laughs).  I always want people to know about it, but I don’t want to brag.  But I figure that sooner or later they’re going to open the refrigerator. 

And I’m also very aware that the list of actors who were ever nominated or won an Oscar is as great a list as the ones who never were.  It’s a wonderful evening, but it’s rarely more than that.  It’s a great evening.  You’re aware of the film work because the audience for film is in the millions.  But I make no distinction between film and theater.  And, of course, the audience for the theater work I’ve done will be 1/100th of that of the film audience.  But to me, it was always – if not equal than more important –so that is something that I travel with.  I have a little bucket list of things that I check off every once in a while.  “OK, you did a Broadway show…check.”  From the time I was nine, into my teenage years, I was always in acting classes.  At acting schools.  I was always with actors.  And they would always talk about a “National” theater.  And I would say, “There’s never going to be a National theater in this country.  However, there could be fifty “State” theaters.  And, as someone who lives in Kansas City, I would say to you that, something that people should not ignore, is the fact that we are from so many different places…so many different cultures…that we come together as Americans only when we’re HERE, and we learn to be Americans.  And each of us, whether you live in Seattle or Mississippi, you have different strains of a culture.  And I have always wanted each state to have its own theater.  And, in a state like California, which is huge, you could have two, anchored North and South.  And, instead of trying to get everyone to agree on A National Theater, we could have one in every state.  It’s silly to think we can’t afford a State theater, to be able to see how Missourians and Floridians and North Dakotans approach theater.  I think that would be a great endeavor and a great thing to do.  Only because we teach so few things that we share. We’ve actually given up on the notion of teaching things that are of shared values.  And that’s causing this terrible breach in the country.  And we should try to find things that we can share.  And one of them could just be the artistic endeavor of a State theater. 

MS:  That makes a lot of sense.

RD:  And they’ll never do it (laughs).

MS:  Quick follow-up to the Oscar question, one of your fellow nominees that year was Richard Burton.  When Sylvester Stallone read the name of the winner, and you heard “Richard” did you think Burton had one?

RD:  My competition was Burton, Marcello Mastroianni, John Travolta and Woody Allen.  There was no easy answer.  But I just knew I was going to win it.  (laughs)  That’s all I cared about. 

MS:  Me too, that night.  I always wonder how people sometimes vote.  You were also nominated for “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” but I thought you were most deserving four years earlier for “Once Around.”

RD:  It’s probably the easiest vote to define.  There are two ways people vote in the Academy.  One is, you vote for your friend.  Or, you vote for who you think is best.  In that order.  It’s simple.  You may not be able to predict it, but that’s the way people vote.  And it’s the reason why people do vote.  It’s not a mystery.  The only thing wrong with the Oscars now is that there are too many other awards, and it’s cheapened the whole thing. 

For more information on attending AN EVENING WITH RICHARD DREYFUSS, either in Kansas City or at a later date, click HERE.

NOTE: Mr. Dreyfuss wanted me to stress that, even though his appearance will be followed by a screening of “Jaws,” he will be discussing his entire career. So whether you’re a fan of “American Graffiti,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” or want to know about his fantastic cameo in “Piranha,” come on out and listen to some amazing stories.

Kansas City – Win Passes to Attend An Evening With Richard Dreyfuss

Long time readers know how much the Mikes love the movie JAWS. Well now we want to share that love with our Kansas City area fans by giving them the opportunity to an amazing evening “Jawing” with Academy Award winner Richard Dreyfuss.

The event, which will be moderated by Media Mike’s own Mike Smith, will be held on Thursday, April 4th at the Carlsen Center at Johnson County Community College. After the event, stay and enjoy a screening of the greatest film ever made (ok, I’m biased), JAWS.

Our friends at J & S Promotions has given us passes for (5) lucky readers and a guest to attend the event. All you have to do is let us know below your favorite Richard Dreyfuss film. Five random comments will be chosen and will receive a pass for (2) to attend the event. This giveaway will end on Sunday, March 31st at 6:00 p.m. Winners will be notified by email.

To purchase tickets to the event – including a Platinum VIP Package which puts you in the green room with Mr. Dreyfuss, click HERE. Good Luck!

Charred Walls of the Damned’s Richard Christy talks about the bands latest album “Creatures Watching Over the Dead”

Richard Christy may be best known for his work on the Howard Stern radio show however long before his antics made him a regular fixture on the long running show Richard was a heavy metal drummer for bands like Death and Iced Earth. In 2009 Richard formed his latest group Charred Walls of the Damned. The group’s current lineup which along with Christy features Jason Suecof, Steve DiGiorgio and former Judas Priest front man Tim “Ripper” Owens are set to release their fourth studio album titled “Creatures Watching Over the Dead” on September 23rd. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Richard recently about the new album and its creation, possible tour plans and this year’s hot Halloween trends.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the new album?

Richard Christy: The new album is called “Creatures Watching Over the Dead”. It has nine songs on it and it’s been five years since the bands second album. I took quite a bit more time with the writing on this one than the previous two. A lot of that has to do with Brian Slagel from Metal Blade Records who is real cool about letting us take our time when getting an album out. He really understands our schedules and knows how busy we are all. Aside from the schedules I wanted to take the extra time because with song writing there is always a learning process. Just like with anything else the more time you spend doing it the better you start to get at it. I went through each song to make it the best I possibly could. I initially ended up writing 24 songs between the last album and this one. I had always heard about bands writing a bunch of material and then picking the best from that and with this album we were able to do that as well. I always do pre-production for the albums so during that time Jason Suecof and I picked what we thought were the best 9 tracks and those are what took in to record. It took about a year to get everything recorded from there.

AL: What type of process did you have for selecting the 9 songs that make the album?

RC: That’s what the great thing is about having Jason as our guitarist and producer. When he hears these songs fresh for the first time he is able to pick the ones pretty quickly that catch his ear. For me it’s hard to choose as I wrote them and am a little too close to the song to be objective. Jason has a great ear for songs and melody. He is also a really great song writer. I told him the ones that catch his ear right away are the ones we should go with and that is kind of how we did it. When we finally got together for pre-production we started tweaking the nine songs a little further so we had them exactly the way we wanted them on the album. By the time we get in the studio we are pretty much set to go which allows things to flow pretty smoothly.

AL: With you doing a majority of the songwriting where do the other members fit in during the creative process for a new album?

RC: The other guys in the band have total creative freedom. I basically give them the blue print and then have them add to it or make changes if they need/want to. I am not a good bass player or singer. I can do enough to get what I am hearing in my head out but with Steve Digiorgio and Tim “Ripper” Owens those guys are great and can just go crazy. When we go in to record the guitars and drums are already done so I tell those guys just go as nuts as you want to go. I love when Steve matches stuff up to my drum fills. When we do the vocals we are generally all there and we work together with Tim. Jason is great with vocal patterns and melodies so usually what happens is if we can’t come up with something better than what I put down on the demo or everyone really likes what I did on the demo we will go with that but, I like to get Tim and Jason’s ideas for the vocals first and then we just pick the best of those ideas.

AL: The album has sort of a dark title however a majority of the vocals are rather positive. Was this something that happened consciously or did those themes develop more naturally over the course of writing?

RC: I guess it’s sort of a conscious thing. I am a pretty positive person. I have tried to write lyrics about more brutal subjects or what’s going on in the news. When I was in Burning Inside I would write about horror movies and things like that but with getting older these days I like to think about things that make me happy. It’s not that these lyrics are about it being a nice sunny day but I try and make the lyrics about stuff I have experienced and also about things that inspire me. I write about a lot of stuff I see just living in New York City and walking the streets there. I find it’s easier for me to write and things flow better when I am writing about something that means a lot to mean. I do try and write things in a way that doesn’t make them sound too happy or cheerful. I want things to sound cool but at the same mean something to me and to other people.

AL: Can you tell us a little about the album art?

RC: Being a huge fan of Halloween I came across this really great photographer by the name of Pumpkin Rot. He has a website called where he showcases his photos of these scenes he sets up where he lives in Pennsylvania. One day I saw a cool picture of his and I decided to just email him and ask if we could use that picture for the album art. He was totally cool about it and with the name of the band and that photo I thought it fit very well together. The title of the album actually comes from me staring at that picture trying to come up with a title for it. I also wanted to come up with something that started with the letters CWOTD to fit in with the theme of our previous album titles. I have been asked if there was some sort of deep meaning to the cover but really it’s just a picture that I liked which I came up with a cool sounding title for. (Laughs)

AL: A lot can happen when a band takes an extended amount of time between albums. Were you ever worry about the effects that it could have not only on the band but also your fans?

RC: I don’t think there was anything that difficult for us as we are all a little bit older as are our fans. I also don’t think the extended time between albums is as much of an issue with metal fans in general. For me once you’re a metal head you are always going to be a metal head. If a band that was around in the early eighties comes out with a new album today I would still be in to checking it out. I am very open minded as a metal head. The culture as well as social media has changed a lot since our last record but we are not really a trendy band. We are a band that has aspects of having a modern metal sound but we also have a very classic metal sound to us as well. We try to blend all that together. Because of all that I don’t think we as affected by changes and trends going on. In fact I think it may have helped us. A lot of people weren’t sure if we were still going to be together but I think people are pleasantly surprised that there is a new album coming out. I think also because all the guys in the band myself included have other projects that keep us busy people may have thought we would do just one album and be done but, we are now on our third album with the same line up and people are seeing this is a legitimate thing. I think those five years as helped us. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder.

AL: What does touring look like for this release?

RC: It is something that really depends on our schedule. I am excited because have been asking me a lot about if and when we are going to be playing. It shows me people do want to see us and it’s something that I really want to do. Hopefully it is something we will get to do. Festivals would seem to be the best option for us because of all our different schedules. We played Orion Fest with Metallica for our last album and that was amazing! We did a two week tour run for the first album which was awesome as well. We can’t promise anything just yet as we don’t have anything booked but it’s something we definitely want to do. I am really hoping we get to do some stuff. With all of us living in different places we have to make sure all of the logistics will work for everyone so something can happen.

AL: Knowing that you’re a big fan of Halloween and with the day just around the corner what do you think will be some of this year’s hot trends?

RC: Definitely anything having to do with the show “Stranger Things”. I have watched that series twice now all the way through and can’t stop listening to the soundtrack as well. I have been listening to it since August when it first came out. I think anything having to do with that show is going to be big. Also with this being an election year I think there is going to be a lot of Donald’s and Hillary’s. I have heard that the sales of masks determines the election. I want to say that the last few elections have in fact been determined by who sold the most masks. Pumpkin Beers are going to be big again this year as well as haunted houses. I think you will start to see more of the “extreme” haunted houses where you have to sign a waiver to go in because the actors can touch you and stuff. People seem to always be looking to take things to the next level. Me personally I will just stick to the ones where people jump out at you and that’s it. I don’t need people’s hands in my mouth or something like that. (Laughs)

For more info on Richard Christy and Charred Walls of the Damned be sure to check out


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Win Passes to the Kansas City premiere of Richard Linklater’s “Everybody Wants Some”

Media Mikes has teamed up with Paramount Pictures to give 30 readers (and a guest) the chance to be among the first to see the new film by Academy Award nominated director Richard Linklater, “Everybody Want’s Some.” A “spiritual sequel” to his hugely popular film “Dazed and Confused,” the film stars Blake Jenner, Glen Powell and Wyatt Russell.

The screening will be held on Tuesday, April 10, 2016, at the Screenland Armour Theatre in North Kansas City and will begin at 7:30 p.m.

All you have to do is click here and register. 30 random entries will be selected and will receive a pass for (2) to the screening. Winners will be notified on April 10. Good luck!

Book Review “Raging Heat” by Richard Castle

Author: Richard Castle
Series: Nikki Heat (Book 6)
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Kingswell
Release Date: September 16, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

When I think about “Castle”, I always flash back to 2009, where the first season only had 10 episodes and a slim chance of getting renewed. Luckily ABC made the right now as the show is entering its seventh season already, which is a major accomplishment for a TV show. It also developed two fantastic book series around the shows fictional character, Nikki Heat and Derrick Storm. “Raging Heat” is the sixth book in the Nikki Heat series and seriously, I can’t believe it but this series is not slowing down at all. These books are fresh and each are literally unable to be put down once you start.

Official Synopsis: In New York Times Bestselling author Richard Castle’s newest novel, an illegal immigrant falls from the sky and NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat’s investigation into his death quickly captures the imagination of her boyfriend the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Jameson Rook. When he decides to work the case with Heat as his next big story, Nikki is at first happy to have him ride along. Yes, she must endure Rook’s usual wild conspiracy speculations and adolescent wisecracks, but after reuniting following his recent assignment abroad, she’s glad for the entertainment, the chance to bounce ideas, and just to be close to him again and feel the old spark rekindle. But when Rook’s inquiry concludes that Detective Heat has arrested the wrong man for the murder, everything changes.

I also just heard word that there are plans for a Derrick Storm spin-off series, I think that would be amazing. Hint hint though, don’t forget my girl now Nikki Heat, that would make a fantastic series as well. When you are reading these books, they really are so visual. I think that is since it comes from the writers of the TV series. They write it so well that they literally jump off the pages. After the cliffhanger of season six, I cannot wait to pick up with the next season in the next few weeks. What I also love about Richard Castle books is that I know that when each season ends we get a Derrick Storm book and when the season begins we get a new Nikki Heat book, so keep them coming guys!


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The Oak Ridge Boys’ Richard Sterban talks about new live album “Boys Night Out”

Photo Credit: Jarrett Gaza

Richard Sterban is best known as the bass singer for the country and gospel quartet The Oak Ridge Boys since 1972. He started off his career singing with the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. Going 40+ years strong, the band is currently touring around 150 days a year and shows no signs of slowing down. On tax day, April 15th, the band is releasing their first live album “Boys Night Out”. So if you have any money left over, I would highly recommend checking it out. Media Mikes had the privilege to chat with Richard about the live album, singing with Elvis and non-stop touring.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about the new album “Boys Night Out” and why a live album now?
Richard Sterban: This is something that our fans have wanted for a long time. Our fans always tell us that they love our studio albums but that live and in person we are so much more exciting. So we decided that it was time to capture that excitement on a CD. It seemed like every time we were going to try and record a live album, we would get an opportunity to do a new studio album whether it would be a new country album, Christmas album or Gospel album. So we always put the live album on the backburner, so to speak. Last year, we just decided we were going to record some of our shows live. We ended up recording eleven live shows and between all of those we chose out what we thought were the best cuts that would describe a live Oak Ridge Boys show. I think it turned out really well.

MG: How much planning when into picking the playlist for this album?
RS: There were certain songs that we felt had to be included, “Elvira” for sure and “Thank God for Kids” was another. Then we listened to the input of Cleopatra Records, who we just recently signed with. It was a combination of their input and what we wanted. We just put our heads together and came up with fourteen songs. I feel that it is really a great example of a boys night out with The Oak Ridge Boys.

MG: What was it like starting your career singing with Elvis? How do you top something like that?
RS: I have had a pretty excited life and career. For two years prior to joining The Oak Ridge Boys, I sang with JD Sumner and the Stamps Quartet and I had a chance to sing with the King of Rock and Roll, which was really exciting. I got a call one day that the bass singer from The Oak Ridge Boys” was leaving and they wanted me to take the job. So I had to make a very important decision. I loved singing with the King of Rock and Roll…lip-singing with Elvis but I joined the Oak Ridge Boys and I have gone on to bigger and better things with them.

MG: I know that you also have a book out that also covers your early years with Elvis and through your amazing career with The Oak Ridge Boys.
RS: Yes, I do have a book out called “From Elvis to Elvira”. It is my life story and is filled with tons of great stories. It is available on my personal site, or catch up with us at a show and I will have them with me to sell and sign if like.

MG: Over 40 years with The Oak Ridge Boys, what continues to drive you?
RS: I think it is several things but the most important is that even after 41 years we still enjoy doing what we do. We look forward every night to getting up on that stage and taking our music live to our audiences. We are still having fun doing this and I think that is the most important. We also love the creative process of going into the studio and creating new music. So that is what keeps us going.

MG: Why do you think that generations of fans are still following you guys today?
RS: We pride ourselves on that. There is no question that we have gotten older and our core audience has aged along with us. But we are really considered family entertainment. There is something for every family at our shows whether you are a grandpa/grandma or a young kid. We encourage parents to bring their kids to their show as well. Our shows are definitely fun for the whole family.

MG: Which of your songs really gets you going the most when you are on stage?
RS: Naturally, I would have a tendency to levitate to “Elvira”. That is our biggest song and everyone has to hear “Elvira” at our shows. We have tons of other really great songs. I think one of the most meaningful songs that we ever recorded is “Thank God for Kids”. We do that song every night and we look out in the audience and see parents hugging their kids and people holding hands. It is pretty emotional. Now at our age, when William Lee Golden sings this song at the end he says “Thank God for Grandkids too!” [laughs] We are all grandparents now and I hate to admit this but last week I became a great grandfather as well, so that is definitely something amazing.

MG: Can you reflect on music today in the age of Facebook, Twitter and other social media?
RS: We try to pay attention to that. Duane Allen is on Facebook all day and keeps the fans posted there. Joe Bonsall, our drummer, is on Twitter all day. There is an advantage to being in a group since you can spread the responsibility out. I am not a big social media guy. I am on Twitter though. I spend my time doing the old fashion thing, like we are doing right now. I talk to

Photo Credit: David Bean

newspapers and radio stations all the time. So that is the function that I serve. In this day and age, we have a lot of ways to get the news out and we are really embracing it.

MG: You guys never seem to rest; tell us about your non-stop touring this year?
RS: We average about 150 days a year on the road. You can tell by looking at our schedule this year going to be no exception, in fact probably more. But it is what we love doing. We look forward to each night and sharing our music with our fans and that is why we are still going strong. Touring is a big thing for us and we love getting out there and doing it. Health is probably the key to our future. I think as long as the four of us continue to enjoy good health then we are going to keep getting out there and touring.

Richard Raaphorst talks about directing “Frankenstein’s Army”

Photo Credit: Lukas Zentel

Richard Raaphorst is the director for the crazy new film “Frankenstein’s Army”, which is also his directorial debut. The film takes place during WWII and we find out that a member of the Frankenstein bloodline is turning dead soldiers in zombots, half-human/half-creatures. The film uses all practical effects and is a must for horror fans. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Richard about the film and about working in the horror genre.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about the origin story behind “Frankenstein’s Army”?
Richard Raaphorst: I had several different ideas that inspired me swirling around in my head, like stories about Russian armies and scenes about biomechanical drones. I had just bought an illustrated version of Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein accompanied with gorgeous pictures by Berni Wrighton. I was driving in my car listening to movie soundtracks and realized that I could mix all those elements together. When that happened, I felt like I was struck by lighting and the concept was born. Inspiration took over and turned into passion and I couldn’t escape from it until my ideas were realized.

MG: What do you enjoy most about working in the horror genre?
RR: I like the idea of escaping from the ‘conventional’ worlds and going complete out of the box. There are no limits in horror, so I can be extremely inventive. I create totally unique and weird visuals, scenes or characters that would never fit in a romantic comedy or straight action movie. It allows me to bring visual concepts to life that I have developed since my childhood.

MG: “Frankenstein’s Army” is your first feature film directing, what was your biggest challenging?
RR: I wanted to make the movie as authentic as possible so that can make viewers very scared and vulnerable. My biggest challenge was to holding on tightly to my vision. At a certain point, I realized that everything

happening on set was a direct result of my plan, and is therefore, my responsibility. However, a lot of people involved in projects like this have other ideas and sometimes try to influence the director’s decisions, especially when the director is trying to do something new or original. They will say things like, “Why don’t you do it like that other movie?” or “That doesn’t work because I’ve never seen it like that before.” Then, you have to keep faith in your original idea and become stronger in your resolve, but understand how to navigate around these people. The good thing is that the people who DO believe in what you’re doing will be your strongest allies.

MG: How these the idea of flesh-and-metal “zombots” come about?
RR: I always had a deep fascination with industrial stuff. My father worked at a nuclear power station and as a mechanic in the petrol chemical industry for a while. He once took me to work with him in Saudi Arabia and showed me the machine room of a HUUUUUUGGGGGEEE oil tanker. I was blown away by its gigantic proportions and by the industrial beauty. It was the same feeling that other people would have in a beautiful Medieval cathedral. I wanted to create creatures that would inhabit such an environment. I started experimenting with dressing myself up as industrial monster. I named them Transers at the time. I dug up some very old pictures of this for this interview. The quality of the pictures isn’t good because I developed them myself, but it’s possible to see some elements of the zombot designs. In retrospect, I can say that the seeds for the zombots were already growing in my head when I was a teenager.

MG: Tell us about the practical effects in the film and why you chose that route?
RR: It is not that I’m against the use of CGI, but I do have something against to misuse it. In Frankenstein’s Army, I wanted to stay as authentic as possible to that time period. We only used CGI to add some sparks and flashes here and there, but anything more and the atmosphere would not feel realistic anymore. It would feel like a cheat. With CGI everything is possible, but it often looks too perfect, and with that, you lose charisma. In my opinion, CGI lacks charisma, so I use it as a kind of “background music.” WW2 CGI monsters would be a real nightmare to watch and would have destroy all the fun.

MG:  What is the status right now with “Paris I’ll Kill You”? Is that going to be next for you?
RR: I changed the title into FEAR PARIS because it doesn’t relate to Paris, I Love You. It’s a world all its own and needs a unique title. We are now doing a online campaign to complete the budget and get ready to shoot ( So far, I spent a year designing the whole city, including all kinds of weird and strange character and monsters. This new apocalyptic Paris is a fantastic joy to create. I love it.

Book Review “Deadly Heat” by Richard Castle

Author: Richard Castle
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: September 17, 2013

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Who loves ABC’s “Castle”, raise your hand! It is easily one of my favorite shows of all-time. It is also one of those shows that you are simply not able to turn off even repeat. This show has expanded well beyond just being a high-rated critically successful TV series to a New York Times Bestseller book series as well. “Richard Castle”, who is played by Nathan Fillion (“Firefly”) in the show, has created this continuing universe with the character Nikki Heat, which was spun off from the show itself. “Deadly Heat” is the fifth novel in series which focuses on NYPD homicide detective Nikki Heat and journalist Jameson Rook, based on the characters Castle and Beckett. You might wonder how long can they keep this going before it gets old but this series has never been hotter. I thought that “Frozen Heat” was a great title but it just seems to get better and better.

Official Premise: Determined to find justice for her mother, top NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat continues to pursue the elusive former CIA station chief who ordered her execution more than a decade ago. For the hunt, Nikki teams once again with her romantic partner, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Jameson Rook, and their quest for the old spy and the motive behind the past murder unearths an alarming terror plot, which is anything but ancient history. It is lethal. It is now. And it has already entered its countdown phase. Complicating Heat’s mission to bring the rogue spy to justice and thwart the looming terror event, a serial killer begins menacing the Twentieth Precinct, and her homicide squad is under pressure to stop him, and soon. Known for his chilling stealth, the diabolical murderer not only singles out Nikki as the exclusive recipient of his taunting messages, he names her as his next victim.

The book is such an easy read and if you are a fan of the show you will feel like you are playing out an episode in your head. The book is action-packed, thrilling, sexy and just plain fun. One thing I like about this series is that it does have continuity from the past books but you are still able to pick it up and read without having read the prior four books and can still enjoy. So get ready to laugh yet at the same time bite those nails as you race to turn the pages on this book.  I would also be surprised if you are even able to put this book down, as I literally finished it in one sitting.  It is just one of those that nothing could get my attention away from it while I was reading.  I can’t wait to see what “Richard Castle” comes up with next in this Nikki Heat series and also I would hope to see more novels in the Derrick Storm series as well. The future seems very plentiful for this series.


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CD/DVD Review “Richard Pryor: No Pryor Restraint – Life In Concert”

Richard Pryor
“No Pryor Restraint – Life In Concert”
Release Date: June 11, 2013
Number of Discs: 9
Label: Shout Factory!

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Wow! If you are a Richard Pryor fan, you cannot honestly ask for more here. “No Pryor Restraint – Life In Concert” is a superb seven CDs and two DVDs collection that includes over 12 hours of Pryor in his prime from 1966 to 1992. Since it is titled “Life in Concert”, that is not just a title, it literally comes his early years right through his final onstage performances. Some people might have been able to take Richard Pryor all the time but I always though that he was very unique and always funny. If he was raunchy, there was a reason to be raunchy. Besides the CDs and DVD, this amazing set also includes a deluxe book with rare photos, multiple essays, exclusive celebrity tributes, a discography, a filmography, and a personal note penned by Richard’s widow, Jennifer Lee Pryor. The presentation of this release is very impressive by Shout! Factory.  They must be big fans of Pryor because they deliver him a lot of love and respect here.

The following CDS included are “Richard Pryor (1968)”, “‘Craps’ (After Hours) (1971)”, “That Nigger’s Crazy (1974)”, “…Is It Something I Said? (1975)”, “Bicentennial Nigger (1976)”, “Wanted/Richard Pryor – Live In Concert (1978)”, “Live On The Sunset Strip (1982)” and “Here And Now (1983)”. This is his best material available in one release. Also includes are nearly two hours of previously unreleased material, including “…And It’s Deep Too! The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings (1968-1992)” and “Evolution/Revolution: The Early Years (1966-1974)”. This is a collection of great rare recordings. Still want more…well you got it! Top that with three complete concert films on DVD. “Richard Pryor Live In Concert (1979)”, “Richard Pryor Live On The Sunset Strip (1982)” and “Richard Pryor… Here And Now (1983)”. Pryor had such a presence on stage and there is nothing like seeing him mesmerize his audiences live. Like I said easily one of the best compilation sets ever decided to this great comedian.


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Book Review: Richard Castle “Storm Front”

Author: Richard Castle
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: May 21, 2013

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Are you a fan of ABC’s “Castle” starring Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic? Well if you are then you should know that the literary work of author Richard Castle has a life outside the show. “Storm Front” is the latest novel from Richard Castle following “Heat Wave”, “Naked Heat”, “Heat Rises” and “Frozen Heat”, which follow the character Nikki Heat. If you see the trend in the titles, you will notice that this one differs. Last summer we were introduced to world of Derrick Storm with the following short-format eBooks, “A Brewing Storm”, “A Raging Storm” and “A Bloody Storm”. They were great but like I said short. So “Storm Front” is a great way to experience this character in a full length story. What I enjoy most about these books they are a real treat for any fan of “Castle”. But what makes them even better is that if you’ve never heard of “Castle” you are able to pick up this series like it is any other novel.

Official Premise: There’s a storm front coming! Four years after he was presumed dead, Derrick Storm–the man who made Richard Castle a perennial bestseller–is back in this rip-roaring, full-length thriller. From Tokyo, to London, to Johannesburg, high-level bankers are being gruesomely tortured and murdered. The killer, caught in a fleeting glimpse on a surveillance camera, has been described as a psychopath with an eye patch. And that means Gregor Volkov, Derrick Storm’s old nemesis, has returned. Desperate to figure out who Volkov is working for and why, the CIA calls on the one man who can match Volkov’s strength and cunning–Derrick Storm. With the help of a beautiful and mysterious foreign agent–with whom Storm is becoming romantically and professionally entangled–he discovers that Volkov’s treachery has embroiled a wealthy hedge-fund manager and a U.S. senator. In a heated race against time, Storm chases Volkov’s shadow from Paris, to the lair of a computer genius in Iowa, to the streets of Manhattan, then through a bullet-riddled car chase on the New Jersey Turnpike. In the process, Storm uncovers a plot that could destroy the global economy–unleashing untold chaos–which only he can stop.

“Storm Front” follows after the Derrick Storm trilogy, “A Brewing Storm”, “A Raging Storm” and “A Bloody Storm”. So there is some good continuity between the series. The plot is very clever like all novels from Castle and the writing is extremely top notch. Obviously, we know that Nathan Fillion is not writing these books and that is ok with me because he also does not write the scripts to the TV series either. So I think it is safe to say that the ghost writer behind Richard Castle is the show’s own writers. They bring the same wit and sharp dialogue right out of the TV show and you can literally watch the stories action play out like an epic episode of the show. The character of Derrick Storm, our ruggedly handsome agent, is just so sly and you can literally visualize Fillion in his shoes. Don’t get me wrong, I love Nikki Heat, she is amazing but who can so no to a little James Bond-esque espionage thriller. So those looking for more from Richard Castle, don’t worry next up is “Deadly Heat”, which is the fifth book in the Nikki Heat series. It is set to be released September 17th timed with the start of the sixth season of “Castle”.

Lenny Abrahamson discusses “What Richard Did” and “Frank”

Irish director Lenny Abrahamson’s third feature, What Richard Did, made a great stateside impression when it premiered last month at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival check out our review here and is currently on a limited release here at Cinema Village. Now back in Ireland, Abrahamson took some time out of post-production on his next feature, Frank, to speak to me in further detail on What Richard Did.

Lauren Damon: How was your experience at the Tribeca?
Lenny Abrahamson: It was really good! The film, you know seemed to go down well and we got quite a lot of good press and so generally very pleased with it.

LD: Between the festival, onDemand and now this New York engagement, What Richard Did is getting all different sorts of exposure, any thoughts on that?
LA: I mean it’s a very small release but it’s great because I suppose it has a chance to grow if people like it and maybe it gets taken by arthouse cinemas in other towns and also it’ll be reviewed. So that’s all very important…I’ve made three films, this is the first one that’s had a release in the states and I think you know, it’s great. it’s such an important place to have your films seen. And I like Tribeca as a company as well, they look after you pretty well. I think it’s a good name to be associated with.

LD: Were your first two features also Irish dramas?
LA: They were dramas…and they’d been very successful over this side–certainly critically very successful..Both the first two films won British Evening Standard Film Awards and so they’ve actually done well. It’s just that they’re very–the first two films are very, in terms of like accent and demographic, they’re probably tough for an American audience and because of that you find American cinema exhibitors are really frightened of strong accents. Whereas What Richard Did is more of a middle-class milieu and that makes it I think a bit easier. But they’ve been onDemand and they’ve aired on the Independent Film Channel and that sort of stuff and you know, both were in Toronto and the first film was in Telluride. So they’ve existed in the states, they just never got distribution.
What Richard Did tells the story of a middle class teenager (played by Jack Reynor) who, in a drunken brawl, accidentally kills a romantic rival at a summer party. As Richard, Reynor does a spectacular job at playing an otherwise good-natured teen dealing with the crushing guilt of his life-altering action. This includes a tearful confession to his father.

LD: Jack Reynor told me that you made a lot of on-set decisions with the confession scene, how did that change the film?
LA: Yea, well the peak of the scene is when Richard blurts out that he’s responsible for the killing…and that was never in the script. I mean we changed a lot in the script anyway and the script itself was evolving through the writing process. But you know, once you start shooting a film you just test. You just immediately have to respond to how the stuff feels and you have to look at it. You can’t just stick rigidly to some kind of pre-existing plan and I always like to allow things to evolve. But in that scene particularly, it just felt on the day that there was something sort of bursting to get out in the scene. It happened quite organically, we just kept working on it, working on it, working on it. Shooting it, shooting it, shooting it, until we just felt that Richard had to…in the moment where his guard is down because he’s being held by his father and everything that that means, he allows himself to dissolve a little bit…he becomes more of a boy again. And so he just goes that last little bit and lets it all out in that belief that he has in the instant that this will be cathartic. But it’s not cathartic, it’s dreadful. And it just felt, on the day that felt absolutely right. I can be quite skeptical about you know, people talk about scenes that affect the crew and you know, ‘the whole set really felt something had happened’ and I always think those scenes aren’t great, you know. There’s a kind of illusion that if it feels powerful, it must be amazing and sometimes it’s not. But actually that was one case where it really did feel very strong and it translated onto screen.

LD: Then you also have Richard having a physical breakdown on his own, what was it like on set for that?
LA: We did that–there was always a scene in the script and it didn’t specify in the script really what happened, it was just talked about. I always had this image of Richard on his hands and knees having just woken up in a sort of panic. But while we were shooting we just never got a chance, just given the schedule, we never got a chance to attack that scene really properly. So I decided I would go back after we finished principle photography…Halfway through the cut we went back out to the location and we spent the day there. And I think the way we worked on it was just to develop a kind of physical shape to the scene…I’m a great believer of acting from the outside-in…So rather than talking endlessly about what he was feeling, we just got to a kind of really heightened physical state. And then that brought with it a kind of mental component and Jack found it that way. I mean some actors are different, some actors can think themselves into that state but I tend to feel that starting physically is a–it’s like you know if you kind of intensely enter into the shape of the action. Then a lot of times the kind of interior part comes with it…And we shot it about three times on two cameras, it was really exhausting for Jack. You can tell in the scene. It really felt very good and I think it’s a really important scene in the film.

LD: Did you find yourself wanting the audience to sympathize with Richard through all of this?
LA: Yeah, I mean my sort of view is that we’re all capable of doing sort of awful things and very very few of us are the sort with the kind of bravery you’d need to admit to it if you had the chance of getting away with it. So I would like them to empathize with him just like one should empathize with any other human being I would think. You know, anybody who isn’t a monster. And Richard certainly isn’t a monster. But another way of answering that question is to say I don’t think it’s the director’s job in a film like this to tell people how to feel at all. I think that the important thing is to try to render the situation as truthfully and in as much detail and as much kind of natural veracity as you can achieve…And then if you do that, you allow audiences to enter into that world and then to feel about as they do. I mean of course you make decisions when you cast somebody like Jack, you know there’s instantly kind of warm about him. But there’s also in the way that he played Richard, there are darker aspects too…It’s worth saying that audiences have and audiences will react differently to him. Some people say to me “God, you know, he was chilling and you really did that really well.” And then other people say “He was so beautiful and I cared so much about him and you did that really well” So I think all you can do is try to penetrate as kind of truthfully and deeply as you can as a director. And give as rich an encounter with that world as you can and then you let it go and you let the audience kind of position their own decision inside it.

LD: Did you audition many young actors for Richard?
LA: We did audition a lot of actors for Richard but Jack you know, he just has a certain presence. He’s just absolutely right for that part. When I saw him for the first time, I sort of knew that that would be it. And then we started to adjust the film to fit him, to fit Jack as a person so that we could allow Richard and Jack to overlap. But I didn’t, it wasn’t a hard decision to cast him. I mean it was he’s such an unusually poised young actor. He’s from the right background, he understood the story really well. He knew kids like that. He went to one of those schools. And he’s a really fine actor, I can’t imagine the film working if we hadn’t found him.

LD: Now Jack is going to be in the next Transformers film, were you around him at all when he got that part?
LA: He had said to me that you know, he got had an agent…and then that didn’t work out. He’d been out to the states and he said he was going to go back again…give it another shot. And we were in Toronto together when he was talking about that and I was trying to advise him not to! Because I thought, you know, like so many young actors he would go out there and just get swallowed up. And he had no money and he just had a place to stay just about. I was trying to persuade him he should spend more time in London, but he said to me ‘Look, my plan is to go out to Hollywood and get a three-picture deal…’ I just thought he was deluded! Not that he’s not a great actor. That just doesn’t happen. People are going out there everyday–hordes of kids are arriving there every day and it’s just the reality and the dream are very different. But yea, Jack called me and said ‘I’ve just been cast in Transformers, it’s for a three-picture deal’ and I just thought ‘Well there ya go!’ [Laughs] What do I know? And I’m really delighted for him. Aiming for an autumn release is Abrahamson’s next feature, Frank, which sees Michael Fassbender donning a cartoonish facemask to play an eccentric leader of a band alongside Domhnall 2Gleeson and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

LD: Where are you with Frank now?
LA: We’re kind of hopefully about six weeks away from locking picture and after that it’s just lots and lots of sound work and music work and that. Exciting.

LD: Is this based on the character of Frank Sidebottom?
LA: That’s the thing, the history of the project. Jon Ronson one of the writers was in the Frank Sidebottom band back in the eighties and that’s how this idea began. But actually the character in our film isn’t Frank Sidebottom anymore. So we’ve just made him up. He’s an American instead of a guy from Manchester. He’s a real musician…He’s not–the original Frank Sidebottom was a kind of alter ego, a kind of comedy persona of this guy, so they’re very different. But there is a kind of visual similarity in that Frank Sidebottom wore a head not a million miles away from the head that Fassbender wears in this film. But it’s a totally imagined film.

LD: What was the casting process like on this film?
LA: Like any film it’s a bit of an adventure when you start. I certainly didn’t anticipate–I mean I was delighted to have Michael in it, he’s fantastic. He’s such a great actor and he’s such a fascinating actor because…there’s a kind of energy, a kind of intensity that comes over. And it comes over in Frank despite the fact that he’s wearing a mask. And you still know it’s him and there’s still that kind of quality to what he does. And having him, it helped us get the rest of the cast to be so great. I mean Domhnall Gleeson who’s a superb young actor and he’s destined for really big things and then Maggie as well who’s amazing you know, really very courageous in what she’s doing in the film. So yeah, it was quite an adventure…

It was a really happy shoot and I think the cast really enjoyed it. And that’s not always the case. You know there was a great sense of camaraderie and a real community at the center of the film and I think the best thing about it is the actors really gel together like a band…What you’re going to hear in the film is what they played on the day. The music is all recorded live. So they actually do work as a band. And that was very exciting.

LD: So the cast did they’re own musical performances?
LA: They sing, they play instruments…it’s the real thing… Michael sings, he plays guitar. Domhnall plays keyboard, sings and Maggie plays crazy synthesizers and sings. And then you have Carla Azar who’s a superb drummer in a band called Autolux she plays with. She also plays with Jack White. So she’s the drummer. And then this brilliant young French actor called Francois Civil who just happens to be a great bass player as well. It made the casting really hard because we wanted to cast people who were musical and who could really play instead of having them mime to playback. Which you can tell when that’s happening by watching. So to get a bunch of people who are great actors but also musicians was a really tricky but I think we managed.

LD: Did the mask on Michael stay on throughout shooting?
LA: No! No, I think he would of died if he had to leave the head on [laughs]…It’s really funny, I’ve been cutting the film now for a while and after a while you’re just working with cut sequences. So you’re not looking at rushes anymore, you’re not looking at you know every take from the beginning to the end so I’ll go through the whole day of you know with the editor and we’ll just be looking at him with the head on but every so often we have to look back to the rushes and look for you know an alternate take or something and then you see him, he takes the head off after “cut” and you think ‘Oh Christ, yes, Fassbender!’ you know? You’ve sort of forgotten that he’s there because the character really works…You really believe the character, you forget he’s there. But yea, I think it took some getting used to and we designed the head around–you know it’s specifically designed for him, but it was hard. Visibility was really poor–and he’s running and doing all sorts of stuff in the film so it’s quite an achievement.

What Richard Did is currently on a limited NYC engagement at Cinema Village as well as onDemand. Check back with Media Mikes this fall for more on “Frank”.

Tribeca Film Festival Review “What Richard Did”

Starring: Jack Reynor, Roisin Murphy, Sam Keeley and Lars Mikkelson
Directed by: Lenny Abrahamson
Rated: Not Rated
Running time: 1 hr 27 mins

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Eighteen-year-old Richard is the leader of his local rugby club in Dublin who’s enjoying an idyllic summer of beach house parties with his teammates and their friends. Charming and well-liked by most everyone around him, Richard easily catches the eye of Lara (Roisin Murphy), the would-be girlfriend teammate Connor (Sam Keeley). One drunken night out, tensions run especially high between the two boys causing Richard to lash out with tragic consequences. What follows is an impressive, slow-burning morality tale that I find myself continuing to think about days afterwards.

Typically being the “alpha-male” in a teen film is cause enough for an audience to condemn someone like Richard, nevermind the act upon which the title hinges, and yet Reynor manages to win us over. The interactions amongst his crew early in the film are by turns humorous, immature, and occasionally insulting (as teen boys can get) but above all things, they feel genuine. These are basically likable teens for whom things are going well. We meet Richard’s parents (Lorraine Pilkington and a brilliant Lars Mikkelsen) who are also likable and proud of their son but for the most part are hands off. This too is to the films benefit. When Richard’s underlying rashness gets the better of him, it is to his mates and girlfriend that he turns to first in dealing with the guilt. Abrahamson relies on nothing but ambient sound and hushed conversation to increase the pressure felt by all.

Watching Reynor go through all the stages of his guilt, including a stunning loss of control in Richard’s family’s beach house, is fascinating. That he manages to do it while maintaining a degree of the audience’s sympathy in an objectively awful situation is the real triumph of What Richard Did. It’s a tricky film without any easy answers.

“What Richard Did” Premieres at Tribeca

Having played in the UK,  the phenomenal Irish drama, What Richard Did, received its United States premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on Monday April 21st. Actor Jack Reynor, who plays the titular Richard, joined director Lenny Abrahamson to talk about the film on the red carpet.

The director summed up the story of the film: “It’s based on a book called Bad Day in Blackrock by an Irish writer called Kevin Power which is a book set in the world of privileged South Dublin teenagers. In Ireland they’re a well-known group, they’re very you know, urban, very well-heeled, attractive and this film focuses kind of on the boy at the center of this group. Kind of Alpha Male, beloved by his fellow team mates but also by all the girls. Liked by the parents and teachers as well, so it’s about that kid. And one of the reasons I was interested in making it is that films about teenagers tend to focus on the kid on the outside of the group. I mean that’s who most of us identify with  and therefore often the ones in center are often pretty caricatures so I was interested in taking a character at the center of the group. The one who appears to have the least complex life, the most blessed life, and look at what it’s like to be inside that person. And what it’s like particularly for what it’s like for a character who’s not used to failure or self-criticism to deal with both. You know most of us have a lifetime to come to terms with…our own failings, the things we don’t like about ourselves and the ambitions that we didn’t achieve. But with Richard we took him and we made him face, to deal with a lifetime’s worth of disappointment in the course of like a couple of weeks. ”

What’s it liked to be picked up by Tribeca Film Fest?

Abrahamson: It’s great! I mean…it’s brilliant to have distribution in the States and especially with Tribeca and for Imagine because it’s such a name that people understand and they associate with really interesting cinema so for me it’s really great. I’m delighted that it’s up in the festival and particularly the way it’s going to go on release.


Jack Reynor: “Oh my god, it’s just amazing to be here, it’s great. I mean to get recognition from the festival

and for them to host our film here it’s amazing. I mean it’s Tribeca!”

What was the most difficult scene for you?

Reynor: “Probably I think the most difficult and the most rewarding scene at the same time is the scene outside on the bench where Richard and his father were having that conversation on the bench. We

changed the entire film that day. We made some very critical decisions while we were on set that day and it actually shaped the movie. But that was by far the most difficult to do in a truthful way because that’s where you get your performance.


How did you develop your on screen relationship with Roisin Murphy as Lara?

Reynor: “We spent a lot of time together, we workshopped, we were great friends–still are. And yea, we just invested a lot of time. And we spoke–Roison and I knew eachother before the film, we knew each other from school actually so yea, I mean in that sense it was kind of natural enough.”


Both men were happy to talk about their exciting upcoming projects as well.

You’re in the next Transformers movie?

Reynor: That’s right!

Can you tell us anything about it?

Reynors: It’s gonna be awesome.

Can you say anything about your next film, Frank?

Abrahamson: “Yea, Frank is a comedy about a band lead by a very strange band leader called Frank–the name of the film–played by Michael Fassbender.

He’s in a giant mask, was that difficult to direct through?

Abrahamson: “It was, I mean never mind directing, tough to act in! But he’s you know, you need an actor with real character, with real charisma to play through that limitation and he does that really well. So, hope to have that finished by the end of the year.”

What Richard Did has remaining Tribeca screenings listed on the TFF film guide with a limited NY engagement set for May 10th. Also be sure to check out our review here!

Richard Harmon talks about roles in “Bates Motel” & The CW’s “The Hundred”

Richard Harmon is known best for his roles in television shows like “The Killing” and “Continuum”. He also starred in the horror movie “Grave Encounters 2” last year. This year Richard is co-starring in shows like “Bates Motel”, “DirecTV’s “Rogue” and recently shot a pilot for The CW’s “The Hundred”.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Richard about his role on “Bates Motel” and his upcoming roles.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your role of Richard Slymore in “Bates Motel”?
Richard Harmon: Playing Richard is a nice change of pace for me. He is pretty much just a normal guy, which is one of the coolest things for me. It is rare that I get a chance to play someone who is just a regular human being. He is a nice person, even though he can come off as a bit aggressive with Norman. But I feel that is due to his protection over his girlfriend. But he is just a normal high school guy.

MG: What drew you to the role?
RH: This was just one of those special projects that you walk on the set and you know how good the show is going to be. I felt very lucky to be apart of it in just any way shape or form.

MG: How was it working with Freddie Highmore & Vera Farmiga?
RH: I unfortunately never got to work with Vera. I really wanted too because I am a big fan and she is just terrific. Even now watching the show, I am an even better fan than I used to be. Freddie though, if he was any representation of both of our leads…oh my God! He is such a pro and just such a nice human being. He works the correct way that I feel that actors should work. He is so focused yet at the same time he is incredibly nice and poliet. I cannot say enough good things.

MG: You are no stranger to TV, how does this show differ than your other television work?
RH: I think they are all different. I don’t just mean because they are different stories. Each set offers its unique vibe. On “Bates Motel” everyone is so experienced and they know what they are doing. They each have a job to do and do it incredibly well. I have been very lucky in that sense since it also applies to the other shows I have worked on. I think with “Bates”, it really has this very unique vibe.

MG: After this show and “The Killing”, what do you enjoy the most about playing the bad guy?
RH: [laughs] I don’t know. It’s what they seem to like casting me for. I do not think I am quite that mean in real life. I would like to think I am a relatively nice person. For a while, I was wondering why I only got bad guy roles. Now I am just I relish in it. They are just so much fun to play. There is so much you can do with them and change all the time.

MG: Tell us about the other TV show you are involved with “Rogue”?
RH:It was a great show to work on. I only got to do two episodes on it in the beginning of the series. It premieres on Wednesday, April 3. The two scripts I got to read were terrific. Plus how could you not love Thandie Newton. I actually didn’t get to work with her either, so there is another one after Vera Farmiga. I really wanted to work with her too. A ton of my friends from Vancouver are also regulars on it like Jarod Joseph. He is just someone that I really respect. I think they hired the actors very well on that show.

MG: What else do you have in the cards for this year?
RH: I just finished filming a pilot. It is called “The Hundred” and it is for The CW. The scripts are insanely good. The summary of the show is set 97 years after a nuclear war has destroyed civilization. A spaceship housing the lone human survivors sends 100 juvenile delinquents back to Earth to investigate the possibility of re-colonizing the planet. So it about us trying to survive down there. It is a really fun show.