Spotlight focuses on a devastating turn of events which were ripe for melodrama, and instead turns out to be a spare, minimalistic entry that knows how to keep things close to the chest and still be deeply affecting. Director Tom McCarthy takes a fly-on-the-wall approach to his technique, showing us an intimate glimpse at what it no doubt must have been like for these Boston reporters as they brought to light one of the most sickening and heinous atrocities of our time, the sexual abuse scandal of the Catholic Church, which rotted through many a priest, parish and law firm who insidiously kept their mouths shut about the whole deal. For the reporters, ignorance was just not on the table, no matter what the consequences. Rachel McAdams is tender and fearless as Sacha Pfeiffer, a keen operative who is first to smoke out a lead, bringing it to her boss, the legendary Walter ‘Robby’ Robinson, (Michael Keaton), and the executive in charge of the paper, Ben Bradlee Jr. (John Slattery). The matter is brought to further attention by Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber), who arrives from out of state. It’s Mike Rezendes though, played by a stunning Mark Ruffalo, who drives the point home, refusing to give up and shoving loads of empathy down the throats of those who would look the other way. Ruffalo is note perfect, his determind sentiment delivered with compassion and impact that lingers. He hounds diamond in the rough lawyer Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci hides the sympathy behind the sass) to allow him access to the victims, giving him something concrete to go on. The bitter side of the lawyer coin comes in the form of Eric McLeish (underrated Billy Crudup), a passively belligerent guy who is anything but cooperative until the hammer comes down. Richard Jenkins proves that he can turn in excellent work with nothing but his voice, playing a source who is heard only via phone calls. Keaton is brilliant, bringing the laid back nature and giving the character an easy listening style Boston accent. McAdams mirrors the hurt in those she interviews with eyes that echo years of suffering. Tucci comes the closest the film gets to comic relief, and then veers into dead serious mode as he realizes his character is in control of lives with the info he has, snapping to rigid attention. Watch for work from Jamey Sheridan, Len Cariou, Brian D’Arcy James and Paul Guilfoyle as well. The film arrives at its destination free from obvious emotional fireworks, on screen text or sensationalism, elements which often permeate true life stories. It’s simple, to the point, grounded and diligent to story, character and truth. That approach makes it all the more shattering.
Robert Redford’s The Company You Keep is a powerful, smart, grounded drama revolving around the seriousness of one’s actions, the consequences they may make even decades down the road, and the lengths that some people will go to put things right. Redford has shown only improvement throughout his career, and has been really awesome as of late (All Is Lost was a favourite for me) and he directs here with as much confidence and empathy as he puts into his performance. He plays Nick Sloan, a former underground activist who was involved in a tragic accident as a result of his protesting, and branded a domestic terrorist. He went into hiding for nearly 30 years, until an intrepid journalist (Shia Lebeouf) uncovers traces of his tracks, and he’s forced to go on the run, leaving his young daughter with his brother (Chris Cooper). Lebeouf suspects his agenda is to do more than just hide, and indefinitely stay on the run. A federal agent (Terrence Howard) makes it his tunnel vision mission to find him. Sloan’s agenda only gradually becomes clear to us, as he navigates a tricky, treacherous web of former acquaintances, trying to locate his former lover and fellow activist (Julie Christie, phenomenal in a comeback of sorts). Old wounds are slashed open, the law closes in, and Nick wrestles with the notion that despite the good he tried to do in his idealistic youth, he is indirectly responsible for bloodshed. It’s enthralling to watch Redford play this man in his twilight years trying to put things right, waist deep in decades of acting experience, supported by an amazing script and a supporting cast that you couldn’t dream up . There’s memorable appearances from Stanley Tucci, Richard Jenkins, Brit Marling, Stephen Root, Susan Sarandon, Anna Kendrick, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Elliott, Susan Hogan and Nick Nolte, all in top form. For a thriller that takes itself seriously, takes its time building character and suspense, and sets itself in a realistic, believable tale that completely engrosses you, look no furthe
The best way to describe Easy A is calling it a wiseass high school retelling of The Scarlet Letter. That can also be a temperature gauge for someone to tell ahead of time if it’ll be there thing, or not. I enjoyed it a lot, thanks to a funny as hell Emma Stone who doesn’t leave out the vulnerability peeking through her guise as strong young woman. It’s a little more relaxed in the content department than some of the bawdier stuff that she got her start in, but still contains sufficient amounts of raunch to please the comedy hounds. Stone also has a veritable army of seasoned pros backing her up, an element which helps her, however she’s quite capable of carrying a film and does so as well. She plays Olive, a spitfire high school girl who finds herself in a funny yet unfortunate situation after her dunce of a friend starts a wildfire sexual rumor about her. Soon the whole school is talking about it, and she takes action in a bizarre move to fight fire with fire…of a certain kind. She boldly takes up the mantle of the school harlot, forever changing things in her quiet serengetti of suburban youth. It all spins wildly out of control, a common characteristic of adolescence, with poor Olive stuck right in the middle of the debacle, which sucks for her but is too funny not to enjoy. Stanley Tucci (“The Bucket List”) and Patricia Clarkson are darlings as her parents, Thomas Haden Church scores points as a deliberately hip and sympathetic literature teacher, and Lisa Kudrow that old flamingo, has fun as a dour guidance counselor. There’s also work from Amanda Bynes as an unhinged religious nut, the perpetually wooden Cam Gigandet, Penn Badgley and a brief cameo from Malcolm McDowell as the world’s most cynical high school principal. As a riff on The Scarlett letter it keeps theme alive, and as a teen comedy with a gaggle of adults trying to keep up with the youngsters, it’s a charmer. Stone holds the proceedings together very well.
The 6th Day is a brash, in your face sci fi actioner with some deft scientific notions that it plays around with in near satirical fashion. It chooses to shoot most of its scenes in my hometown of Vancouver, including a set piece atop the spiral shaped Vancouver Public Library tat sends sparks raining down into the streets and choppers spinning wildly to their demise. I love when films shoot here, because it gives my city an exciting chance to be a part of escapism, and it’s amusing to watch them digitally maim all sorts of landmarks and then chuckle as I see them intact on my way to work the next day. Schwarzenegger, in one of his last great flicks before his deliberate hiatus (we shall not speak of the abomination that is Collateral Damage), plays Adam Gibson, a helicopter tour guide who has a strange blackout in mid flight while transporting the CEO of a swanky scientific corporation (slick Tony Goldwyn). He arrives back home to find a clone of himself living with his family, and things only get weirder from there. He has stumbled into the inner workings of extremely illegal experiments involving human replication, and Goldwyn & Co. are none too pleased about it. Goldwyn has secretly made human cloning an everyday thing for the company, hidden from the aging eyes of the moral upright doctor who founded the company (Robert Duvall). This is all enforced by a ruthless corporate thug for hire (Michael Rooker) and his foxy assistant (Sarah Wynter). Schwarzenegger is faced with the daunting task of taking down this un-sanctioned empire, reclaiming his family and blowing up some stuff along the way. It’s a terrific flick, and Arnie gets to say the best line he’s ever spoken, directed at Goldwyn, which I won’t spoil here but it’s pure gold. Goldwyn is hateable and malicious, the horrific third act prosthetics fitting him like a slimy glove. Duvall strikes a noble chord and almost seems to have wandered in from a more serious film. Rooker is intense, evil and scene stealing as always. Watch for Wendy Crewson, Michael Rapaport and Terry Crews as well. In a movie so committed to the trademark Ahnuld fireworks, it’s cool to get a whiff of actual thought provoking, Asimov-esque intrigue with the cloning, a concept which is fully utilized and really a lot of fun here.
I am unbelievably ecstatic to bring you my first interview in quite some time, this time with legendary badass Michael Biehn. Michael has played the fearless Kyle Reese in The Terminator, the cavalier mercenary Dwayne Hicks in Aliens, and appeared in countless other fantastic films including The Abyss, The Art Of War, The Seventh Sign, Stiletto, Michael Bay’s The Rock, Grindhouse, Tombstone, Mojave Moon, and many more. He is as iconic as he is magnetic on screen, a powerhouse of a performer with a legacy that I was honoured to quiz him on. Please enjoy our brief chat!
Nate: At what point did you know you wanted to become an actor?
Michael: Since I was very little I was acting in school plays and community theater from productions like Pinocchio, rags to riches, Alice in wonderland and I just never stopped.
Nate: You have forged an impressive lineup of tough guys and take no prisoner badasses with your roles. Did you see yourself becoming that kind of Charles Bronson/Lee Marvin style, old school guy, or did the direction your career took surprise you?
Michael: I really never had a plan for the direction my career would take, you really can’t control the roles you get when you start out. I was fortunate enough to keep getting cast in these roles. They just ended up being a consistent thing for me.
Nate: I’m trying to keep these questions about things you don’t normally get asked about, but I gotta bring up Terminator- how was that experience for you. You created a believable, vulnerable, visceral action hero that holds up today and is a classic dude in the genre. What was your mindset going into that role?
Michael: I read a book for my preparation. It was on the soldiers that had to fight for survival in the sewers against the Germans. And it took a very long time for the Germans to find all the soldiers and destroy them. This book gave me a mental investment that this role was about survival. It was the best investment I made for myself to portray that character.
Nate: The Seventh Sign- Always been one of my favourites, especially the devastating final scene in the hospital.. How was creating that character for you, your process, acting with Demi and especially Jurgen Prochnow? (He’s a favourite of mine as well).
Michael: Demi, and Jurgen are great actors. They really have a good professionalism around them. We were really able to act with each other, present and in such truth. You can’t just go into this kind of movie reading the script and winging it. You really have to lay a foundation. And research your part to develop what you need. That’s what we all did.
Nate: Stiletto- a highlight for me in your roles, and a nice reunion for a lot of early 90’s action guys (Berenger, Forsythe, Russo, Sizemore etc, a dream cast). How did you get approached for that, and did you enjoy playing that lively psycho Lee?
Michael: We had a lot of fun on set. There were a lot of serious scenes to deal with so its hard to break character and interact in-between. But it was still enjoyable.
Nate: You and Jennifer have quite a legacy these days with BlancBiehn Productions. How are you enjoying the work with that and the incredibly original lineup of films that you’ve been doing?
Michael: It’s a Blessing. Not only to have the ability to produce films we like but to do it together. It has made us stronger and the films are coming out great!
Nate: If you had to pick a few roles that you’ve played that you enjoyed the most for whatever reason, what would they be?
Michael: I really enjoy all the roles ive played, and I really like working with Cameron. Anything I film with him has been amazing.
Nate: Another very memorable role for me was on Law & Order CI, in a heartbreaking role that went to some sad places and for me is a standout in your career. How was that experience for you.
Michael: It was a difficult scene particularly because I am not a method actor and the emotions that I was working from were pulled from current situations and events In my own life. It’s always hard to open yourself up to such vulnerability but if you don’t you will not create and develop an honest scene and then it just looks staged. As difficult as it was I enjoy those character roles very much.
Nate: Thank you so much for your time Michael, it’s phenomenal to be able to chat with you. Best of luck in the future with all endeavours, including your fantastic work with the production company!
Incredibly excited to bring you a chat with actress and producer Jennifer Blanc Biehn. Jennifer has appeared in many films included The Crow, The Divide, Everly, Wrong Cops, Bad Ass, The Brady Bunch Movie, and more. She has also done work in television shows like Saved By The Bell, It’s Always Sunny In Philedelphia, Dark Angel, CSI, Veronica Mars, Southland and more. She also has a wicked production company with her husband Michael Biehn in which she has spent the last few years making some super awesome genre films. Enjoy!
Nate: How did you get into acting? I read on imdb that you were on Broadway at age thirteen which is so awesome!! Any stories from way back then?
Jen: The first serious paying job I got was Brighton Beach Memoirs on Broadway for a year. I did the national tour first. It was great for me because my mom was struggling really, really hard to support us as we were on our own. I was finally able to help her a little with my earnings. What we worked so hard for was starting to pay off.
Nate: Dark Angel: you’re a huge part of that series, how was your experience playing Kendra and working with all the other actors?
Jen: Everyone on the show is really hip and cool and fun. It was an amazing experience.
Nate: The Crow: according to imdb you did some voice work for it (one of my favourite movies), who did you end up playing? Cool experience?
Jen: Working on The Crow was a great experience and has lead to more voice work.
Nate: You made a nice appearance in Its Always Sunny In Philedelphia. How was it working with that gang in such a crazy environment?
Jen: Fun, and exciting. They are hilarious. The Cast and Crew are great to work with.
Nate: It was so cool to see you kicking ass in Everly. How was that for you, and I gotta ask did you do your own stunts for it?
Jen: I did my own stunts. That character was very empowering. The moments were intense.
Nate: Some of your favorite roles you’ve played in your career so far?
Jen: I think that you have covered most of them. We have some films produced at Blanc-Biehn Productions that I have enjoyed playing. Wrong Cops was so much fun to be a part of. I keep getting new favorites as my career continues and my acting grows with it.
Nate: It’s quite the adventure you and Michael are on with BlancBiehn Productions. How are enjoying it so far?
Jen: It’s been amazing. The production family we have built and the films we have been creating are exactly what we wanted. And we can see a strong future for this company and all who are involved.
Nate: Any upcoming projects you are doing that you’re excited for and would like to talk about?
Jen: We have a lot of films beginning to release, Night visitor 1 & 2, Hidden in the woods, were wrapping up some others in post like she rises, fetish factory, and the Lincoln to name a few and will be filming 3 more by the end of this year. Just keep checking our website for more information:
Nate: Thank you so much for your time Jen, and all the luck in the world in upcoming projects! Cheers!!:)
The cinematic universe in which legendary director David Lynch has chosen to tell his stories is a yellow brick road which leads the way to a rabbit hole, wherein can be found dreams, nightmares, horror, love, spirits, small towns, psychological torment, offbeat humour, danger and endless gallons of hot black coffee. Within this mesmerizing realm lives a whole armada of strange and wonderful human beings, often with antennas extended out into both the metaphysical, the supernatural and the just plain undefinable. This makes them some of the most richly fascinating, deeply felt individuals to ever dance across our screens. If you have clicked on this post, you will see below a list of my personal top ten characters to have ever wandered out of the one of a kind mind of Mr. Lynch and been brought to life by the intuition, grace and startling gut instinct of many fine actors. Enjoy!
10. Marietta Fortune, played by Diane Ladd in Wild At Heart
Diane Ladd plays the ultimate mommy from hell in Lynch’s wacky, colourful romance road trip flick and livens the proceedings up no end with her mental instability, overprotective mania and frequent banshee screams that echo the terrifying melodrama of an exaggerated and psychotic Joan Crawford. Ladd rightly earned an Oscar nomination for her feral work, and one only needs to witness the unnerving sight of her sprawled across the bathroom floor with a liver full of martinis and a face smeared with crimson lipstick to appreciate the work funnelled into both the performance and direction to give us this horrific harpy.
No other character solidifies Lynch’s pipeline to the collective subconscious like the red suited, inter-dimensional man of limited stature, a haunting presence who dances, speaks backwards and is always one step ahead of every fellow character and watching audience member who lays eyes on him. He serves as an image of what lays beyond, and no doubt an experimental choice for Lynch, one that would go on to become a token image of the television series, and his career as well.
The uniting forces of Willem Dafoe’s brand of creepiness morphed together with Lynch’s intuition for everything weird resulted in Bobby Peru, a disgusting psychotic whacko who only shows up in the last quarter of the film, yet dominates every frothy frame. Peru is a scary son of a bitch, and Dafoe lends every Joker grin, sallow grimace and harsh syllable he can muster in a very discomforting scene in which he abuses Laura Dern’s character to squirm inducing effect. This heinous outburst only makes the explosive end he meets all the more satisfying. A true Lynch monster, a Dafoe creation to remember and spin yarns about in years to come beside the cinematic campfire.
Dern turns the performance of her career in what is perhaps Lynch’s most peculiar film to date, a purposefully meta, altogether perplexing soul bender of a tale that revolves around two incredibly strong female characters, both played by her. There’s a galvanizing monologue buried within the heart of this dense saga that’s at once both a savage outcry and a self reflective summary to the character, Dern nailing every sharp turn of both that passage, and her work in the film as a whole. Lynch sat on Hollywood Boulevard with a cow and a sign advocating an Oscar nomination for her powerful work here, and upon viewing it it’s easy to see why. ‘A woman in trouble’ cries the DVD cover. Dern cries out into the dark and lets us know this character is exactly in that place, but her and Lynch lay out the breadcrumb trail in an ambiguous fashion that never really lets us in on the how and the why of said trouble. Such an achievement is pure collaboration, and worth every penny spent on the cow rental.
The Log Lady is the symbolic lynchpin of Twin Peaks, a woman who lost her husband in a fire long ago, and quite literally carries a log around in memorial, speaking to it as if it were a person. Such a concept could be seen as silly, but in Lynch’s hands it simply is compelling. Coulson too treats it with reverence, giving her the undefined gravity that is a key ingredient in the Twin Peaks mystery and will be remembered by fans, loved by veterans and discovered by newcomers for eons.
The third scariest person on this list comes in the form of Booth, an oxygen loving, volatile kinkster played with primordial menace by a wild eyed Dennis Hopper. Booth took audiences by storm when Blue Velvet was released, showcasing a villain’s ability to completely shatter the idealistic and womblike notions of small town, old world bliss that came before him. He barges into the film and immediately flips the table as far as tone goes, catching everyone off guard with his criminal and very twisted antics. A true Pabst Blue villain and force of perverted nature that we won’t soon forget.
No demon has shivered the timbers of viewers quite like Killer Bob. He was a fluke, a lightning bolt of creative energy that Lynch channeled into what would become the scariest and strangest villain in his stable. A nightmarish and all too real apparition who feeds on rape, murder, fear, abuse and all the tools which reside within the darkest corners of humanity’s toolkit. Silva is a salivating horror, feeling his way through a performance that is rooted directly within the forces of undiscovered nature and firmly committed to scaring the pants off of us.
Blake unsettles big time as a pasty faced, hollow laughed denizen who torments the protagonist at the most unexpected of moments and can’t help but utter a grinding giggle every time he can harvest an iota of confusion from his quarry. Whether the accusations against Blake in real life are true or not, the guy just has a corrosive vibe to his work and it kills me that he never got a chance to live out more years in cinema. This was one of his last two roles, and he’s the acrid soul of the piece, a snarling symbol of mental instability and otherworldly nastiness within the main character’s psyche.
Ahh, Dale Cooper. No one puts a big old smile on my face like him. In a career that has a whole bunch of lunatics and weirdos running amok, Lynch has given us the ultimate good guy, a comforting, likeable lawman with a keen sense of character and a deep love for both coffee and copious amounts of cherry pie. Maclachlan soars into pop culture legend with his winning smile, delightful idiosyncrasies and unyielding dedication to the law.
The battered angel, the homecoming queen, the beauty wrapped in plastic. No one represents both the decaying, corrupted human spirit and the same purity that wages war upon the sickness as well as Laura. When Twin Peaks was cancelled and Lynch launched plans for a big screen follow up, he stuck with the one element that made the show so special: Laura. Through hell, high water and every horror in between he stuck with Laura, turning the film into a final loving ode to her that would be seen by many as too much, and a stark deviation from the show. He was simply following through with the uneasy themes which mean so much to him, represented by the ultimate girl in trouble, whereby spiritual forces or simply the malfunction within humanity. Lee has never been better, serving as the rose within the centre of the dark bouquet of characters which Lynch draws forth from his dreams.