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Review: Cloud Atlas

Usually when I catch a movie, I’m busy scribbling down notes, some of which pertain to the film’s plot, just so I’ve got the facts straight when writing the review. However, in the case of “Cloud Atlas,” not only did I want to save my hand all that stress, but thought it’d be interesting to see what stuck after the 164-minute multiple storyline epic without writing a single note or looking at the press notes. No book, no notes, no Googling. This is what I took from “Cloud Atlas.”

We’ve got quite a few characters and storylines in play here. There’s Tom Hanks’ Zachary, a man living in a village, fighting off a vicious enemy tribe while assisting Halle Berry’s space-age character in her quest to send a call for help to her home planet. In the 1800s, one of Jim Sturgess’ characters befriends an escaped slave while sailing home to his wife. In the early 1900s, Ben Whishaw’s Frobisher goes to work for a famous composer where he gets the inspiration to pen the Cloud Atlas Sextet. In the 1970s, Berry is a journalist who catches wind of a scandal and is chased by a corporation assassin trying to stop her from exposing the story. In the present we get Timothy Cavendish, a man who’s tricked into signing himself into an old age home by his brother. Finally, well into the future, we meet Sonmi, one of many identical robot-like humans who are made to staff a fast food restaurant. They’re designed to sleep in their boxes, wake and go to work, but one day, Sonmi can’t help, but to recognize that she’s got hopes, dreams and feelings.

I can’t believe it, but I think I actually managed to account for every “Cloud Atlas” scenario. Yes, they’re merely simplistic descriptions of the stories, but when you’ve got a total of six narratives within a single film that don’t connect on a literal level and are all playing out simultaneously, it’s a wonder how someone can keep track of them all after a single viewing. And perhaps that goes to show that writer-directors Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski and Andy Wachowski did achieve a degree of success with their unusual methods.

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Review: Spork

Sure, there’s no harm in getting a laugh out of the classic tasteless poop and penis jokes once in a while, but ultimately, they’re thoughtless cheap shots. Spork on the other hand, is quite the opposite, a film that earns its giggles through very calculated efforts including a unique story, equally innovative and appropriate production techniques and, most importantly, a main character who’s incredibly odd, yet wildly endearing all at the same time. If Napoleon Dynamite’s Napoleon and Deb lived happily ever after and had a kid, that kid might be Spork.

Savannah Stehlin is Spork, a 14-year-old hermaphrodite. Spork, hermaphrodite, get it? She rocks a massive mess of frizzy hair, oversized black glasses and shares a trailer with her big brother, Spit (Rodney Eastman), and their dead, stuffed dog.

In true teenage fashion, all of the kids at school love to get a laugh out of Spork’s unusual condition and behavior, especially Betsy Byotch (Rachel G. Fox). Spork may not have any friends, but she can turn to fellow outcasts Chunk and Charlie (Kevin Chung and Michael William Arnold). There’s also Spork’s next door neighbor, Tootsie Roll (Sydney Park), a force to be reckoned with on the dance floor. When Spork decides to enter the school dance off so she can claim the prize money to pay for a procedure guaranteed to make her as pretty as her late mother, she turns to Tootsie Roll and her “hoes” to teach her a thing or two so she can take down Betsy and her “bitches” on the stage.

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Interview: Meet Monica Velour’s Dustin Ingram

Just about a year ago I spoke with Dustin Ingram while he promoted his new film, Meet Monica Velour, at the Tribeca Film Festival. Well, almost exactly one year later, things have certainly changed; the film is about to have a theatrical release and Ingram grew a mustache.

Kidding aside, Meet Monica Velour marks Ingram’s very first starring role as Tobe, a geeky kid with no game with the ladies who drives a truck with a gigantic hot dog on top of it. Upon graduating high school, Tobe decides enough is enough and not only is it time to sell his wiener-mobile, but to finally see his dream girl, washed up porn star, Monica Velour. It just so happens that both his potential buyer and Monica will be in the same vicinity at the same time.

Forget the fact that Ingram is a talented actor; he makes for a pretty damn fun interview. Perhaps one day I’ll compile a little reel of interview bloopers, but for now, I present the juicy details on every aspect of making this film from Ingram’s awkward audition competition, to his bee encounter on the first day of filming all the way up to his recent appearance on Glee. Check it all out in the video interview below and be sure to catch Meet Monica Velour when it hits theaters on April 8th.

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Interview: Meet Monica Velour Writer-Director Keith Bearden

Want to be in a movie? Well, if you don’t look like a runway model, have washboard abs or look anything like the cast members of The Twilight Saga, director Keith Bearden is looking for you. In all seriousness, Bearden has an appreciation for ideas and characters that feel real. While he considers his first feature film, Meet Monica Velour, a high concept piece, it’s got much more to it than its basic premise.

In high concept terms, Meet Monica Velour is about a nerdy kid who falls for an older stripper. Dig a little deeper and you get a piece about a high school graduate (Dustin Ingram) just trying to come into his own, experience the world and learn a little something about love. On the stripper side, Monica Velour (Kim Cattrall) is more than just a porn star past her prime; she’s a loving mother that’s just trying to do the best she can with the resources she has and the stigma her career left her with. And, when these two multidimensional characters come together, we get something far more interesting, engaging and emotional than a mere boy-meets-older-woman commercial concept.

This interview is a bit all over the place in the best way possible. Not only does Bearden enlighten us on the entire process of making Meet Monica Velour a reality, but he also touches upon the tough industry standards, as well. On top of that, he also knows how to have a good laugh. Hearing Bearden talk about his unusual looking candidates for the role of Tobe is a must. And, before we wrapped up, the director touched upon his next effort, a film called God Hates Kansas. See it all for yourself in the video interview below.

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Interview: Meet Monica Velour’s Kim Cattrall

After starring as Samantha Jones in Sex and the City for so many years, it’s easy to forget Kim Cattrall can play anything but strong, ambitious and beautiful. Well, her latest film, Meet Monica Velour, is certainly a good reminder that this actress has range and is willing to go to some pretty extreme lengths to do her roles justice.

Kim Cattrall is Monica Velour, a washed up porn star who can’t get decent work, is constantly berated by men and risks losing her child in a custody battle. Having hit rock bottom, Monica is absolutely hopeless. It isn’t until geeky teen and diehard fan, Tobe (Dustin Ingram), steps into her life that she realizes there is some good in this world and, with his help, she could possible pull through.

After a great deal of rehearsal time, filming, the post production process and then a festival run, Cattrall, Bearden and Ingram are finally about to see their movie hit theaters. In honor of Meet Monica Velour’s April 8th release, Bearden and Ingram flew back to New York City to celebrate their achievement, promote the film and to get a home cooked meal à la Cattrall. Read all about that and more in this roundtable interview.

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