Monthly Archives: April 2013

Tribeca 2013 Interview: The Machines’ Caity Lotz

Caity-Lotz-The-MachineUnless you caught “The Pact,” actress Caity Lotz is probably off your radar, but between “The Machine” making waves at the Tribeca Film Festival and “Battle of the Year” heading towards a September 13th release, that could change fast.

In “The Machine,” Lotz first steps in as budding programmer Ava. Dr. Vincent McCarthy’s (Toby Stephens) been hard at work trying to develop a cybernetic super solider to help Britain’s Ministry of Defence through the second Cold War, and when he realizes Ava has the technology he needs to perfect his design, he makes her his #2. When their work is complete and Vincent automates the first robot with the potential of being the ideal model, Lotz takes on another role, playing the machine itself.

Playing the machine versus Ava didn’t just require Lotz to speak with a mildly robotic voice or adopt a stilted gait, but also to understand the technology and how it works, which, in turn, left her with the challenge of selling the concept that this machine is capable of comprehending, feeling, and learning.

While celebrating “The Machine’s” world premiere in the festival’s Midnight division, Lotz sat down to talk about the difficulty of keeping her facial muscles within machine range, the extensive makeup process, how her dancing background came in handy, plans for “The Pact 2,” and much more. Catch it all for yourself in the video interview below and, if you’re in the New York area, see “The Machine” in full at its final Tribeca showing on Saturday the 27th at 11:59pm.

Click here to watch the interview.

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Review: Pain & Gain

Pain-and-Gain-PosterIt’s a moderately funny, largely deplorable narrative with entirely unlikable leads, but thanks to “Pain & Gain’s” true roots, it gets away with it.

Danny Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) loves his job as a personal trainer and is practically singlehandedly responsible for turning Sun Gym into one of the hottest spots in town. Trouble is, the job still doesn’t pay well enough and Danny is desperate to start living the good life. In an effort to make the big bucks quick and easy, Danny recruits his co-worker, Adrian (Anthony Mackie), and an ex-con, Paul (Dwayne Johnson), to help him kidnap his über wealthy client, Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub), and torture him into signing over all this finances.

Had “Pain & Gain” not stemmed from true source material, we’d be left with an absolutely outrageous film driven by wholly detestable protagonists and nothing more. However, not only does the true story come with intrinsic intrigue, but then Michael Bay takes it two very effective steps further to ensure you never forget it. At the onset we’re informed, “Unfortunately, this is a true story,” and then, when the absurdity of the scenario hits a peek, he reminds you, “This is still a true story,” forbidding you from writing off all the abysmal behavior and enticing you to actually appreciate it.

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‘V/H/S 2’ Video Interview: Robotic Eyes, Zombie POV & Sleepover Crashing ETs

VHS-2-PosterV/H/S may have put the horror anthology format back on the map, but V/H/S 2 truly solidifies it as an effective form of storytelling that can satisfy the masses just as well as any feature narrative. This time around, the film is comprised of four short films connected by a wraparound component, and all achieve a notable degree of innovation and true terror.

V/H/S 2 is currently making waves on the festival circuit leading up to its June 6th On Demand release and July 12th theatrical debut. It already hit Sundance and SXSW and is now wrapping up its run in the Tribeca Film Festival’s Midnight Program. In honor of its Tribeca presence, Jason Eisener (Hobo with a Shotgun), Adam Wingard (You’re Next), Edúardo Sanchez (The Blair Witch Project), and Simon Barrett (You’re Next) all sat down to discuss the art of short form horror.

After having directed the V/H/S wraparound, Wingard goes an entirely different route in the sequel with “Phase I Clinical Trials,” ditching the old school camcorders for a far more advanced perspective – a robotic eye. Wingard stars in the piece himself as a guy who’s left without an eye after a car crash. He’s fitted with a bionic one and gets his vision back, but with the addition of some eerie supernatural entities he never saw before.

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‘Deep Powder’ and the Crazy True Story of International, Drug-Smuggling Teens

Deep-PowderIt’s one thing to make a movie about college and high school students partying too hard and making some very poor decisions, but it’s another to do so with a narrative that has roots in a true story, and Mo Ogrodnik’s Tribeca Film Festival entry Deep Powder proves it.

The film features Shiloh Fernandez as Danny, a former hockey star who can’t hold on to his college scholarship in the wake of his father’s passing. Instead of heading off to school and pursuing his dreams, he’s living at home with his mother and two young siblings, stuck in a monotonous existence working as a ski lift operator. His routine is rocked when Natasha Tabor (Haley Bennett) and her privileged boarding school friends head up to enjoy a run on Danny’s mountain.  Danny catches Natasha’s eye and the two strike up a relationship, one that’s overflowing with honest love and passion, but also one that’s bound to destroy them.

Natasha is a member of the secret society, the Deep Powder Alpine Country Club. What appears to be a group dedicated to skiing and the occasional party is actually a vehicle for upholding the annual tradition of sending a member on a trip to Ecuador and returning with a kilo of cocaine. This year it’s Natasha’s turn to go, but rather than take another member of the club along for the ride, she brings Danny. It’s a genius concept for a fictional film, but not only is Deep Powder inspired by true events, Ogrodnik experienced them firsthand.

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Tribeca 2013 Interview: Mr. Jones Producer Ross Dinerstein

Mr-Jones“The Killing Room,” “The Divide,” “The Pact,” and loads more in the works, but right now, it’s all about “Mr. Jones” for producer Ross Dinerstein.

The Tribeca Film Festival Midnight Program entry features Jon Foster and Sarah Jones as Scott and Penny. When Scott insists on ditching the big city for a secluded cabin so he can make a nature documentary, she leaves everything behind to support the venture. The place is the ideal no rules, no pressure existence until filming sunrises, local greenery and creatures becomes monotonous and Scott loses all motivation. However, just before giving up entirely, they catch a glimpse of the most interesting thing they’ve seen the whole trip, their neighbor, the famous yet mysterious sculptor, Mr. Jones. What starts as a serene show of nature descends into a suspenseful and nightmarish investigation as Scott and Penny try to creep closer to Mr. Jones’ workshop to get the ultimate close-up with his infamous scarecrows.

While the narrative is conveyed using a shaky cam technique, rather than calling “Mr. Jones” found footage, Dinerstein dubs it a “point of view film.” While the term is accurate, “Mr. Jones” is also far more than that. Not only is the story told from Scott and Penny’s perspective, but it also functions as a documentary, too, and when that documentary style implodes right along with Scott and Penny’s POV as they’re consumed by the narrative’s nightmare, you end up with something far more thoughtful than a camera crushing-induced cut to black.

While celebrating the film’s world premiere in New York City, Dinerstein took the time to sit down and talk about his collaboration with writer-director Karl Mueller, the challenge of subverting the found footage stigma, finding the ideal location, and more. Catch it all for yourself in the video interview below and see “Mr. Jones” in full at its final Tribeca screening on April 24th at 9pm.

Click here to watch the interview.

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Tribeca 2013 Interview: A Birder’s Guide To Everything’s Alex Wolff, Katie Chang And Michael Chen

Birders-Guide-ThumbWant a good taste of what to expect from Rob Meyer’s Tribeca Film Festival entry “A Birder’s Guide to Everything?” Just check out this interview of Alex Wolff hamming it up, Michael Chen geeking out about his birding knowhow, and Katie Chang trying to keep them under control.

The film stars Kodi Smit-McPhee as David Portnoy. While he’s still feeling the effects of his mother’s passing, his father is preparing for his second wedding. David’s only outlet is his passion for birding so when he suspects he spotted an extinct Labrador duck, he and his Young Birders Society friends, Timmy and Peter (Alex Wolff and Michael Chen), take off on a road trip with Ellen and her top-notch photography gear in tow in order to intersect the duck’s migration and snap a picture before it’s gone for good.

After wrapping up a very important business call, the group dished on the audition process, their birding training, and most importantly (and amusingly), the slew of shenanigans that went on behind and in front of the camera, something that undoubtedly enhanced the on-screen group dynamic making the YBS an undeniably loveable bunch.

Check out the gang in action in the video interview below and see the film in full when it screens at Tribeca on Wednesday the 24th at 3pm or Friday the 26th at 6pm.

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Tribeca 2013 Interview: The Machine’s Caradog James

The-MachineDon’t expect to see any ass-kicking, super intelligent robots that look like Caity Lotz to hit the market anytime soon, but, until the real scientists move beyond mapping slug brains, you can catch the ultimate cybernetic super soldier in action in Caradog James’ Tribeca Film Festival entry, “The Machine.”

Neck deep in the second Cold War, Britain’s Ministry of Defense is desperate to develop the ultimate weapon to give them the edge so they hire expert programmer Dr. Vincent McCarthy (Toby Stephens). Vincent does manage to develop an implant to restore a degree of life to veterans suffering from brain damage, but in order to prefect the design and avoid costly malfunctions, he needs a technology that exhibits a degree of humanistic understanding. After perfecting his work, he gives rise to the ultimate machine, but even while it adheres to his and his superior’s requirements, it also questions the ethics behind its creations and whether the robot will really bring them safety or rather a new form of danger.

Having just celebrated the film’s world premiere on Saturday night, James was in town to discuss the research required to create a believable narrative, the extensive amount of preparation needed to accommodate the VFX, the challenge of conveying all the necessary details without overloading an audience and more. Hear all about it straight from James himself in the video interview below and, if you’re in the New York area, catch “The Machine” tonight at 10pm or on Saturday the 27th at 11:59pm.

Click here to watch the interview.

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