Noah Baumbach is one of the most interesting and creative writer/directors working in cinema today and his new film Frances Ha, which opens in theaters on May 17th, proves it!
Baumbach first gained attention as a writer and director in the mid-‘90s for a string of independent movies including Kicking and Screaming, Highball, and Mr. Jealousy. But it was his 2005 film The Squid and the Whale that earned him an Academy Award-nomination for Best Original Screenplay and put him on the map in Hollywood as an important filmmaker.
Since then, Baumbach has collaborated with equally eclectic filmmaker Wes Anderson to pen two of the director’s best movies, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and Fantastic Mr. Fox, in addition to co-writing last summer’s hit family film Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted with director Eric Darnell. He also went on to make two more movies as a filmmaker including Margot at the Wedding with Nicole Kidman and Jack Black, as well as the critically acclaimed Greenberg starring Ben Stiller.
His new film, Frances Ha, features quirky young actress Greta Gerwig as a 27-year-old dancer named Frances who lives with her best friend Sophie (Mickey Sumner). But when Sophie moves out in order to live with her new boyfriend, Frances’ world spins out of control and the young dancer is forced to figure out how to live her life without the constant companionship of her best friend. Baumbach co-wrote the screenplay with Gerwig, who gives an impressive and commanding performance. While the film was shot digitally in color, it was was converted to black-and-white to emulate other New York set movies by classic filmmakers like Woody Allen, and Jim Jarmusch.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with filmmaker Noah Baumbach to talk about his work on Frances Ha. The acclaimed writer and director discussed his new movie, the decision to shoot it digitally yet convert it to black-and-white, the affects that choice had on set, the intricate process of color conversion, and his friendship with mentor and legendary filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich.
Actor/comedian Craig Robinson is on the verge of becoming a very big star!
Robinson is currently starring on the final season of the hit NBC series The Office, and has not one, not two, but three major movies opening this summer. The actor, who is best known for his role in films like Pineapple Express, and Hot Tub Time Machine, will soon be seen in two different movies about the apocalypse that both open in June. First he’ll appear in Rapture-Palooza opposite Oscar-nominee Anna Kendrick (End of Watch), followed by This Is The End, which also stars James Franco (Oz the Great and Powerful) and is co-directed by Seth Rogen (The Guilt Trip). Not to mention that he’s about to begin filming Hot Tub Time Machine 2 with his good friend Rob Corddry. But before that, Robinson can be seen in his first starring role opposite Kerry Washington (Django Unchained) and David Alan Grier (Boomerang) in the new comedy Peeples, which opens in theaters on May 10th.
Peeples was written and directed by longtime screenwriter Tina Gordon Chism (Drumline), and is produced by multimedia mogul Tyler Perry (Tyler Perry’s Temptation). In the film, Robinson stars as Wade Walker, a kind but underachieving musical children’s therapist who unexpectedly meets the overbearing father (Grier) of his beautiful girlfriend, Grace (Washington), at their picturesque Hampton home. In addition to Robinson, Washington, and Greir the film also stars S. Epatha Merkerson (Lincoln), Kali Hawk (Bridesmaids), Ana Gasteyer (Mean Girls), and living legends Melvin Van Peebles (We the Party) and Diahann Carroll (Eve’s Bayou).
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Craig Robinson to discuss his work on Peeples, as well the status of Hot Tub Time Machine 2. The actor/comedian discussed his new film, how it felt to be number one on the call sheet, improvising with David Alan Grier, Kerry Washington’s comedic abilities, the art of comedy, Hollywood legends Diahann Carroll and Marvin Van Peebles, working with first time director Tina Gordon Chism, Hot Tub Time Machine 2, when it starts filming, and if actor John Cusack will return for the upcoming sequel.
Actor and comedian David Alan Grier has been making audiences laugh on stage, film, and television for the better part of the last 30 years … and he’s showing no signs of stopping anytime soon.
Grier began his career in the early ‘80s on Broadway earning a Tony Award-nomination before making his film debut in legendary director Robert Altman’s Streamers. He would eventually go on to appear opposite Denzel Washington in A Soldier’s Story, as well as the comedy I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, but his big break came as an original cast member of the groundbreaking variety show In Living Color. The actor appeared on all five seasons of the hit series before starring in such films as Boomerang, Blankman, Jumanji, Baadasssss!, and Bewitched, as well as TV’s Life with Bonnie, and his own show entitled DAG. But now the multitalented actor/comedian returns to the big screen in a different type of role than audiences are used to seeing him in with his new film Peeples, which also stars Craig Robinson (Hot Tub Time Machine) and Kerry Washington (Django Unchained), and opens in theaters on May 10th.
Peeples was written and directed by longtime screenwriter Tina Gordon Chism (Drumline), and is produced by multimedia mogul Tyler Perry (Tyler Perry’s Temptation). In the film, Grier stars as respected Judge Virgil Peeples who is the patriarch of an impressive upper class family. But his perfect world is threatened when his favorite daughter, Grace (Washington), unexpectedly brings home her new boyfriend, underachiever Wade Walker (Robinson), to meet the family for a weekend at their Hampton home. In addition to Grier, Robinson, and Washington, the film also stars S. Epatha Merkerson (Lincoln), Kali Hawk (Bridesmaids), Ana Gasteyer (Mean Girls), and living legends Melvin Van Peebles (We the Party) and Diahann Carroll (Eve’s Bayou).
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with David Alan Grier to talk about his work on Peeples, as well as the rumors of a new version of In Living Color. The talented actor/comedian discussed his new movie, similarities between his character and The Cosby Show’s Cliff Huxtable, playing the elder statesman, being Craig Robinson’s straight man, improvisation, working with Kerry Washington, Diahann Carroll’s stories, the great Melvin Van Peebles, his advice to young comedians, the sudden shift in his career, and possibly returning for a new In Living Color series.
What 11-year old kid wouldn’t want to be Iron Man’s best friend? For actor Ty Simpkins, that dream has come true.
Simpkins (Insidious) is currently starring opposite Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 3, which is the third installment of the popular Marvel Studios franchise. In its opening weekend the film earned over $175 million in the US alone, and has grossed $700 million worldwide so far! In the movie, Simpkins plays Harley Keener, a troubled young boy living with his mother, who must work all hours since his father left them. After a beaten Tony Stark (Downey) crash lands in his town, Harley becomes his sidekick and helps him repair the Iron Man suit and track down the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley).
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking with 11-year old actor Ty Simpkins about his role in Iron Man 3 on the Disney lot in Burbank, California. The young actor discussed appearing in the movie, how he got the role, his character, working with Robert Downey Jr., director Shane Black, being an Iron Man fan, if Harley could become the new Iron Man in The Avengers 2 or Iron Man 4, and if there are any Harley toys or merchandise available.
At iamROGUE, we take pride in the amount of iconic and award-winning directors that we have had a chance to interview over the years including Frances Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, Danny Boyle, Ben Affleck, Joe Dante, John Carpenter, Sam Raimi, Guillermo del Toro, and J.J. Abrams. We are now delighted to add the legendary Peter Bogdanovich to that illustrious list.
Bogdanovich began his career as a film writer for Esquire Magazine and biographer of such legendary directors as Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, and John Ford, before becoming a filmmaker himself. His first major film, The Last Picture Show, was nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, and went on to win two Oscars including Best Supporting Actor for Ben Johnson and Best Supporting Actress for Cloris Leachman. Bogdanovich would eventually make such beloved movies as What’s Up, Doc?, and Paper Moon, which also earned Tatum O’Neil an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (the youngest person to ever take home an Oscar), as well as Nickelodeon, They All Laughed, Mask, Noises Off, and The Last Picture Show sequel - Texasville.
But Bogdanovich is also an accomplished actor having appeared in the Kill Bill series, Rated X, Infamous, and actor Robert Davi’s directorial debut The Dukes, as well as the TV series The Sopranos, The Simpsons, and Law and Order: Criminal Intent. The director’s latest acting effort, Pasadena, recently screened at the Newport Film Festival and was written and directed by Will Slocombe. In addition to Bogdanovich, the film’s cast also includes Alicia Witt (Two Weeks Notice), Cheryl Hines (TV’s Curb Your Enthusiasm), and Sonya Walger (TV’s Lost). But the acclaimed filmmaker-turned-actor will soon be making a return to the director’s chair for the first time in over ten years with a new film called Squirrel to the Nuts (previously entitled She's Funny That Way), which stars Jennifer Aniston, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwatzman, Eugene Levy, and Cybill Shepherd, and will be produced by directors Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom) and Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale).
I recently had the immense pleasure of speaking with director/actor Peter Bogdanovich about his work on Pasadena, his upcoming film Squirrel to the Nuts, and his legendary filmmaking career. It was a particular thrill for me to speak with Mr. Bogdanovich because he unknowingly played a major role in my life … he was the commencement speaker at my graduation from Emerson College. The legendary filmmaker discussed Pasadena, why he wanted to appear in the film, how he separated the actor Peter Bogdanovich from the director Peter Bogdanovich on set, which he loves more – acting or directing, working with writer/director Will Slocombe, his next film - Squirrel to the Nuts, why that it the actual title of the film and NOT She's Funny That Way, his impressive cast, reuniting with his The Last Picture Show leading lady Cybill Shepherd, advances in filmmaking technology, the young filmmakers who’s work he enjoys watching today, what he learned from his friendships with legendary directors like Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, and John Ford, which of his own films he is most proud of and the films he thinks did not get enough attention at the time of their releases, and of course … speaking at my college graduation.
Writer and director Shane Black has an extremely distinctive style that is completely different from all other filmmakers and allows his movies to standout from all the rest.
You ALWAYS know when you are watching a Shane Black movie and there are several common themes that run through most of the screenwriter-turned-director’s work. He often uses first-person narration to tell his stories, there is usually a male bonding element at the heart of the film, he has used kidnapping as a plot device five times, and four of his movies take place during the Christmas holiday.
I grew up on Shane Black movies, and feel as a movie fan, that I have watched Black grow up as a filmmaker too. His first screenplay, Lethal Weapon, basically invented the buddy-cop genre, which dominated the ‘1980s. He would eventually go on to write the story for Lethal Weapon 2, as well as the screenplays for underrated classics like The Monster Squad, and The Last Boy Scout starring Bruce Willis. Black even took a stab at acting in the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Predator, playing a member of Arnold’s elite commando crew.
After penning Last Action Hero and The Long Kiss Goodnight, the screenwriter took almost a decade off before reinventing himself as a director in 2005 with the extremely inventive film Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which helped begin to resurrect the career of Robert Downey Jr. Now Black returns to the director’s chair by taking over the Iron Man franchise from director Jon Favreau and reteaming with Downey for Iron Man 3, which opens in theaters on May 3rd.
Actress Natalie Martinez first gained attention for her leading role opposite action star Jason Statham in Death Race, but has recently earned critical acclaim for her performance in two gritty action thrillers. The first was for her role in last year’s cop drama End of Watch, the second came earlier this year in director Allen Hughes’ crime noir film Broken City starring Mark Wahlberg, which will be available on Blu-ray and DVD beginning April 30th.
In Broken City Martinez plays Natalie Brown, the actress girlfriend of ex-cop-turned-private eye Billy Taggart (Wahlberg). Early in the film, Taggart is arrested for the murder of the man who raped and killed Natalie’s 16-year-old sister. His police Captain (Jeffrey Wright) and the Mayor (Russell Crowe) decide to help Taggart by eliminating the evidence against him, making the murder look like self-defense, yet forcing him to leave his position with the police in shame. The film’s story begins when seven years later the Mayor asks Billy to return the favor and investigate his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who he believes is cheating on him. However, Taggart soon realized that things are not as they seem and the Mayor may be involved in several crimes himself. Meanwhile, the years of guilt start to weigh heavy on Billy and begin to tear a riff in his relationship with Natalie, who is still haunted by the ghost of her sister and is trying to move on with her own life.
I recently had a chance to speak with actress Natalie Martinez about her work on Broken City, as well as her new TV series Under the Dome based on the novel by Stephen King. The up and coming young actress discussed Broken City, her character, working with actor/producer Mark Wahlberg, director Allen Hughes, her favorite cop genre movies, what she looks for when choosing a role, Under the Dome, her character on the show, and working with producers Stephen King and Steven Spielberg.
Simon Killer, now playing in limited release, is a cinematic reminder of the old adage that looks can be very, very deceptive.
The film follows Simon, a seemingly ordinary American fresh out of college who, like so many young before him, has traveled to Paris in order to mend his recently broken heart. For a while, Simon embodies the cliche of the young tourist in Paris, hanging out in streetside cafes, joining the tourists seeing the Mona Lisa, and feebly flirting with French women.
When Simon encounters a sweet, beautiful prostitute in the Pigalle district, his isolation is finally lessened. But the story doesn't proceed according to cliche. As layer after layer of the title character are peeled back, Simon Killer morphs from an erotic drama to a horrifically brutal, absolutely harrowing chronicle of a damaged, sociopathic psychology.
To say any more would be revealing too much. An independent film through and through, Simon Killer debuted to much praise at last year's Sundance Film Festival. Thanks to IFC Films, this unique movie is now playing on screens in limited release and is also available via Video On Demand.
IAR Managing Editor Jami Philbrick recently had the opportunity to sit down with writer-director Antonio Campos and star Brady Corbet, who plays Simon, for an exclusive interview about their new film. The duo discussed the somewhat unconventional writing of Simon Killer, the difference between directing and producing, casting Victoria, collaborating with one another, and shooting in Paris.
Rob Zombie is an accomplished musician, director, screenwriter, and producer. Is there anything he can’t do? So far … not yet!
Zombie first gained attention in the mid-‘90s with his band White Zombie and their popular anthem "More Human than Human", which went on to become voted the 68th best hard rock song of all time according to VH1. After leaving the band and venturing out on a successful solo career, Zombie turned his focus on Hollywood, writing and directing the horror film House of 1000 Corpses, which featured his wife Sheri Moon Zombie, Academy Award-nominee Karen Black (Five Easy Pieces), and future stars Rainn Wilson (Super), Chris Hardwick (TV’s Talking Dead), and Walton Goggins (Django Unchained).
After writing, directing and producing the sequel to House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects, Zombie was given the reigns to the Halloween franchise and wrote, directed and produced the popular remake, as well as it’s sequel Halloween II. In 2010 Zombie took a short break from filmmaking to direct an episode of CSI: Miami, and will soon attempt to make his first film outside of the horror genre with The Broad Street Bullies, a Hockey movie based on the true story of the Philadelphia Flyers. But first, the accomplished musician turned filmmaker returns to the big screen with an original horror film that he has once again written, directed and produced entitled The Lords of Salem, which opens in theaters on April 19th.
The film stars Sheri Moon Zombie as Heidi, a radio DJ who is sent a box containing a record, which is a “gift from the Lords.” Assuming this is a new band’s demo, Heidi plays the album and it triggers her to have flashbacks of her town’s violent past. The question then becomes: is Heidi going crazy, or are the Lords actually demons who have returned from the dead to take revenge on Salem, Massachusetts? In addition to Sheri Moon Zombie, the film’s cast also includes many genre film icons such as Bruce Davidson (X-Men), Maria Conchita Alonso (The Running Man), Udo Kier (Blade), Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead), Patricia Quinn (The Rocky Horror Picture Show), Dee Wallace (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial), and Meg Foster (They Live).
I recently had a chance to speak with musician turned writer/director/producer Rob Zombie about his work on The Lords of Salem, as well as his upcoming project The Broad Street Bullies. The prolific filmmaker discussed his new movie, why he left the Halloween franchise, growing up in Massachusetts, coming up with the concept for his new film, shooting in Salem, creating the characters, casting the movie, the great Meg Foster, his on set dynamic with wife and leading lady Sheri Moon Zombie, Paranormal Activity director Oren Peli’s lack of involvement in the film and how he still achieved a producer credit on it, what he learned from directing CSI: Miami, why this will be his last horror film, his next project - The Broad Street Bullies, when production will begin, and moving back and forth between recording music and filmmaking.
One of the most anticipated sequels of the year is Machete Kills, which opens in theaters on September 13th and is the follow-up to director Robert Rodriguez’s 2010 throwback action film Machete starring the great Danny Trejo.
Much like the original film, the new movie features an eclectic group of actors in addition to Trejo including returning co-stars Jessica Alba (Escape from Planet Earth), and Michelle Rodriguez (Resident Evil: Retribution), as well as new cast members Mel Gibson (Get the Gringo), Charlie Sheen (TV’s Anger Management), Antonio Banderas (Haywire), Sofia Vergara (The Three Stooges), Zoe Saldana (The Words), Vanessa Hudgens (Spring Breakers), Academy Award-nominees Demian Bichir (A Better Life) and Edward James Olmos (Stand and Deliver), Academy Award-winner Cuba Gooding Jr. (Jerry Maguire), and singer Lady Gaga who makes her acting debut. The movie follows Trejo as the title character, an ex-federale who is recruited by the US President (Sheen) to stop an arms dealer (Gibson) from launching a deadly missile.
I recently had a chance to speak with Oscar-nominee Demian Bichir at the Sonoma International Film Festival in northern California, where he was receiving the festival’s Spotlight Award along with his former Weed’s co-star Mary Louise Parker. I took the opportunity to ask the acclaimed actor about his his work on Machete Kills, collaborating with visionary director Robert Rodriguez, his unusual character, facing-off against Danny Trejo, and working with the rest of the film’s interesting cast, as well as his role in the upcoming buddy-cop comedy The Heat, and what it was like sharing scenes with Academy Award-winner Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side).