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Friday, November 23, 2007

The Devil's Rejects

It’s a wild crazy ride, and one that’s certainly not for everyone. But it’s a great story, strongly told in its own way but with references to classics both within and outside of the genre.

Rob Zombie’s The Devils Rejects somehow escaped my attention its first time around. Its now come out as part of a three disc set with House of a 1000 Corpses, Zombie’s first flick, together with a behind-the-scenes making of documentary, 30 Days of Hell.

Corpses was a very interesting homage to B-movies, with some great moments. It had style, and it was referential within the genre in its own way. Rejects takes a very big leap forward, though. It sports a great cast of familiar faces and horror icons, but used in a way that never becomes played, because the characters are well written enough that these genre stars get to do something that they haven’t been seen doing time and again.

The soundtrack, coolin' in its own right, gives the film a throwback feeling and drives the story forward. I found the photography, by documentary legend Phil Parmet, stellar, and the editing and vis FX work was amazing. The story was textured through the FX and editing in a manner that made the transitions vibrant and exciting, but without even losing track of the narrative.

For horror fans and filmmaking fans, I very much suggest you check the 3 disc set. With terrific box art and retooled intros and extras on the DVDs, its definitely on the holiday shopping list.

Grumps

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Insurgents Review from NY Press

This Insurgents review is from the NY Press. I redacted it slightly because it has some spoilers in it, but you can check the nypress.com site if you want it unspoiled.

******

The indie thriller The Insurgents addresses political discontent and terrorism in post-9/11 New York more intelligently and honestly than its big-budget counterparts. It had a short run at Cobble Hill's cinema and is now available on DVD.

The Insurgents focuses on a foursome of would-be terrorists planning a Downtown Manhattan attack, and the film's ostensible protagonist is the group’s lone female member, ex-sex worker Hana (Juliette Marquis). The narrative is constructed around her participation in the attack, particularly as she becomes a bargaining chip the men deploy to keep each other in check. Their discontent with the current political climate does not, apparently, include discontent with its misogyny. James (Michael Mosley), the object of Hana’s faked affection, is a pawn to Robert’s machinations. Hana’s slightly more genuine love interest is Iraq veteran Marcus (Henry Simmons), sent home after an accident. Epitome of the emasculated brute type, Marcus articulates a frightening nothing-to-lose abandon that confuses the personal with the political: if he can’t assert his masculinity by fucking women, the logic goes, he might as well die attacking the system that destroyed his manhood (and some less-important things like Iraq). The plot’s mastermind is Robert (John Shea), a charismatic leftist author and ex-CIA agent whose charm and intelligence bring his three co-conspirators onboard. In the most disquieting moments of writer-director Scott Dacko’s film, Robert’s eloquent diatribes tap into viewers’ cynicism and discontent, nearly eliciting our support for his scheme.

As double-crossings and covert agendas emerge, however, The Insurgents starts to focus less on terrorism and more on acting. The talented cast members strive to decipher each others’ performances, all the while trying to maintain their own multiple roles. Between its political drama investigation – how can individual citizens change a spiraling system?– and its more classic thriller elements – how many lies can each character convincingly balance? – the acting and writing in The Insurgents keeps it compelling and nerve-wracking to the last moment.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Dear Blog

Dear Blog,
Ive meant to write. Really I have. But Ive been so busy, you know. I am in preproduction. I told you that. Not much more than that, but I did tell you that. And because of that, Ive been busy. Really, I have.

Its been a really difficult time so far. Almost like a black clowd following me around. And at the same time, everything is so promising. Its like a soup, half delicious and aromatic and gorgeous, and the other half rotten, rancid and turned. Just like that.

But maybe, today, we turned a corner. We hit bottom, sorta, or the perception of maybe having come through the most difficult of things, random difficult things that were impossible to predict and even harder to avoid.

Dear Blog, I’ve gotten older in the last three or four weeks, certainly a lot in the last two weeks. Stress is my new best friend. I say hello when I wake up, and goodnight when I fall asleep, well knowing that stress will be there to greet me in the morning when I open my eyes. She’s a very faithful friend. But she’s overstayed her visit as a houseguest, and I saw her pack a few things up today, and Im hoping that she’s leaving for good. Or at least for a while.

I always say that producing a movie can be a rollercoaster- Don’t get on. Well, blog, I did. I got on. And I am just hoping to have it level off for a while, perhaps slow down near a side rail, so I can get both feet back on the ground for a while.

Grumps

Thursday, November 15, 2007

South of Pico - First review - Boxoffice.com

http://boxoffice.com/reviews/2007/10/south-of-pico.php

South of Pico

By Barbara Johnson

October 25, 2007 9:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Premiered at the American Black Film Festival

South of Pico is immediately reminiscent of Crash, only better. It's a similar type of film, taking a multifaceted cast, each with their own stories, and putting them in situations that make the audience ask themselves what they would do under the same circumstances. The film, which is based on a real-life incident, is director Ernst Gossner's first feature.


The action takes place over the course of approximately four hours. In trying to deal with their lives during this interval, the five main characters make decisions and struggle against things they can't change. By the time the five storylines intersect, the characters have all been brought to a point where they are ready to… well... to say it would be a spoiler.


The film is not manipulative, nothing is included for shock value, and everything seems to flow seamlessly. Although a film with this kind of structure risks lacking tension, this film gets around that problem by expertly inserting us into the emotions of the five main characters. The pace is slowest at the beginning, as we're getting to know these people, but then the film builds each storyline to a crescendo, and we're glued to the screen.The cast members play well off of one another (this was a consideration during casting), and no one steals the show unintentionally. They each get their moment.


Although the film raises questions, it offers no solutions. There's no Hollywood ending. But we don't walk out of the theater with a sense of dissatisfaction, either. Instead we walk out deep in thought; this film exists to show us what humans are capable of and make us question ourselves. In the hands of a less talented director, writer, and cast, the film might not have worked. There's a delicate balance to be struck in a film of this kind, which runs the risk of being either heavy-handed or inexplicable. But South of Pico strikes exactly the right balance.


Distributor: TBD
Writers: Ernst Gossner, Richard Marcus (story)
Director: Ernst Gossner
Cast: Kip Pardue, Richard Simmons, Gina Torres, Soren Fulton, Paul Hipp, Jimmy Bennett, Car'ynn Sims, Giovanni Lopes
Release Date: TBD
World Premier: American Black Film Festival, October 25, 2007

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

MAVERICK, ANGEL BABY & SLAMDANCE SLAUGHTER A CAST OF HORROR VETS

SLAMDANCE HORROR SCRIPT COMPETITION OPEN FOR THIS YEAR'S ENTRIES

Beverly Hills, CA November 2007 - For Immediate Release

The Slamdance Horror Screenplay Competition winner, co-sponsored by Maverick Films and Angel Baby Entertainment, has landed Shawnee Smith, Erica Leerhsen, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Karl Yune, Eugenia Yuan, AnnaLynne McCord, and Jonathon Trent as the cast of Slaughter. Mark Morgan, Guy Oseary, and Cheri Wozniak will produce for Maverick, with Gregory Segal and John Andrew Gallagher from Angel Baby Entertainment and Slamdance's Peter Baxter. The script, penned by Nathan Brookes and Bobby Lee Darby, will be directed by horror genre helmer, Victor Garcia. Garcia's most recent credits include the just-released Return to House on Haunted Hill for Dark Castle and Warner Brothers, and the online prequel serial 30 Days of Night: Blood Trails for Sam Raimi and Ghost House Pictures.

Smith, the female lead in the hugely successful Saw series, will play the lead role of "Sarah" in Slaughter, a film within a film where three actresses discover that their supposed big break is actually a Japanese snuff film. Erika Leerhsen, well-known to horror fans for her work alongside Jessica Biel in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the upcoming Wrong Turn 2: Dead End, joins the cast in the role of "Jenny", replacing Dominique Swain. AnnaLynne McCord, another horror veteran (Day of the Dead), plays "Lillian", the third actress cast in the snuff film. McCord will join the Slaughter set, upon wrapping a multi-episode arc as Julian McMahon’s seductress on this season of the hit FX series, Nip/Tuck. Trent (Pray for Morning, The O.C.) plays the smug and sarcastic "Steve", tag-along boyfriend of McCord's character.

Tagawa, well-remembered by audiences for his performances in Planet of the Apes, Elektra, Memoirs of a Geisha and Pearl Harbor among others, will portray the film’s director; with Hong Kong Oscar Winner Yuan (The Eye 2, Memoirs of a Geisha) portraying his producer. Yune (Memoirs of a Geisha, Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid) portrays another actor cast in the snuff movie.

Garcia was quoted as saying “I loved the script and the concept from the time I read it. It is great material from writers who wouldn’t be getting the opportunity of an all star horror cast except for the Slamdance Horror Competition.”

Similarly, Darby and Brookes were quoted as saying “We cannot believe the opportunity that has befallen us. In a year, to go from regular jobs in Dudley (UK) to making a movie with the leads from Saw and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is unbelievable, a dream come true.”

Maverick Films inked the deal with Angel Baby Entertainment and The Slamdance Film Festival which calls for the companies to finance and co-produce three films over a three year period. The films will be the winning screenplays of the annual Slamdance Horror Screenplay Competition and will premiere as a special presentation during the following year's Slamdance Film Festival. Previous Slamdance-winning Competition screenplays have included Joshua Marston's Maria Full of Grace and Nicole Kassell and Stephen Fetcher's The Woodsman. The festival has succeeded in providing an opportunity for emerging first-time writers and directors to receive industry attention.

In addition, Slamdance announces that the Slamdance Horror Screenplay competition is seeking entries for this year’s Competition. Like Slaughter, the winning script will be made into a feature-length motion picture in 2008. The competition is overseen by Slamdance's John Stoddard and Peter Baxter and the deadline is November 21, 2007. A winner will be announced at the Slamdance Awards Ceremony in January, 2008 in Park City, Utah.

Maverick and Angel Baby Entertainment are collaborating on another project, Digger, to be directed by John Andrew Gallagher, currently in pre-production and slated for a winter shoot. Maverick has a number of films in pre-production including Twilight for Summit Entertainment, The Stepfather for Sony - Screen Gems, and The Stanford Prison Experiment to be directed by Chris McQuarrie with Icon Entertainment and Infinity Features Entertainment.

A partnership between Producer Gregory Segal and Writer/Director/Producer John Andrew Gallagher (The Deli, Blue Moon), Angel Baby Entertainment has produced six features and two short films over the past two and one-half years, and has numerous projects in development. Segal's most recent credits include Vanessa William's starrer, My Brother, from Code Black and Universal, and as production executive, ThinkFilm's just released The Ten, directed by David Wain and starring Jessica Alba, Paul Rudd, Winona Ryder, Famke Jansen, Gretchen Mol, Oliver Platt, Ron Silver, Liev Schrieber, Rob Corddry, Justin Theroux and Adam Brody.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

gone baby gone

The kids moved out. Of the main house. They left behind a tremendously foul smelling house, two cars (one of which was towed away this evening) and more refuse than one can believe. Its all been ripped from the house by a team of laborers and is sitting in the front of the house, and behind the house. A lovely site, really. At least their gone.

I cannot believe humans, much less, women, live like that. It was so nasty in that house. The laborers were wearing masks to keep out the smell.

Anyway, so the cleanup is underway. The place has a lot of potential and I am just happy that even though its awful right now, hopefully in a few weeks the place will be clean, there will be new tenants, and we can get to cleaning the place up.

Course, in a few weeks I’ll be shooting and probably wont even notice.