Tag Archives: Warner Brothers

Bradley Cooper’s A STAR IS BORN

For a film in its fourth incarnation, Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born is an endearing and remarkable film that contains every familiar trope, cliché, and prepackaged plot narrative possible. It embraces exactly what it is, it is self-aware with both subtle and tongue and cheek nods to previous versions as well as to the rich ensemble of actors who bring their own homages to their own roles. The film is a triumphant spectacle; it is visually stunning by being shot and crafted with command authority and passion. The musical scenes, which were filmed with live singing, only add to the powerhouse of the film that ushers in urgency to its melodramatic plot. Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut is a beautiful showboat of cinematic achievement.

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The film is stocked with a wonderful ensemble who richly detail their respective characters. Bradley Cooper is the best he has ever been as the washed-up country auteur (not stadium popstar) who is hell-bent on destroying his life with pills and alcohol, as he is rapidly approaching the twilight of his career. He is in limbo between burning out and fading away. Lady Gaga is a marvel in her most mature screen performance to date. While watching her performance, it is insane to think that there hasn’t been a filmmaker prior to Cooper that has tapped into her raw talent and beauty on screen. Sure, her metamorphosis as a live performer is one thing, but her screen presence is something completely different; it is a sight to behold.

Aside from the two showstopping lead performances, Sam Elliot and Andrew Dice Clay are respective counterparts to Cooper and Gaga. Elliot is the older brother who is Cooper’s handler, and the Diceman is Gaga’s father. Both bring their own on-screen gravitas to the picture, Elliot commands the screen in sobering moments as Cooper’s firm-handed father figure while Andrew Dice Clay is the affable and warmly supportive father of Gaga, offering quite a few appropriately humorous moments to the film. Elliot gives one of the finest and most vulnerable performances of his career, while Clay is consistently becoming a formidable supporting player since his scene-stealing performance in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine.

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For all the conventionality to the film, it is rather perplexing with its unorthodox self-awareness of the casting of Andrew Dice Clay and Dave Chappelle (who gives a very sweet and touching performance). The musical performances feel genuine. They are photographed with a sense of urgency and emotion by cinematographer Matthew Libatigue (who also shot Sony’s Venom which bested A Star is Born opening weekend at the box office).

Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut is so grandiose, that he has poised himself to be the next Warren Beatty, Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson or Robert Redford, having the ability to direct himself while creating a magnificent film that will remain relevant for decades to come. When the awards season dust settles, there more than likely will not be a more nominated film, and could very well sweep all the major awards. Regardless of Oscar buzz and cultural momentum, A Star is Born will stand the test of cinematic time and be remembered as a film that is filled with boundless love and passion.

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Comedic Wizard, Hollywood Warrior: An Interview with Walter Olkewicz by Kent Hill

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Growing up I was a huge sword & sorcery fan . . . still am. The older one gets, you find yourself using the phrase, “they don’t make ’em like they used to,” more and more. In the case of sword & sorcery it is all too clear why it is sad, in some ways, to reminisce. But I can’t fully transmit to you in words, just how much the show Wizards & Warriors was then, and would later become, an integral influence. It took something with reasonably defined staples and subverted them in the best possible way.

This was part of the reason the more recent effort, Your Highness, was such a dismal failure. I admit I was hopeful all the way up to until I finally set eyes on the picture. Yes, it dealt irreverently with the source influences. But, ultimately forgot what made them so glorious in the first place. While Wizards & Warriors, on the other hand,  was so ahead of its time it’s ridiculous. Subverted genre work is more prevalent today, but back then, it was a bold choice. I soaked it up, and it quickly became the stuff of which permeated my dreams, dominated my day-long make-believe adventures and of course was a the well from which I have many times gone back to with my own works like Deathmaster, Sword Dude, and the like.

So you can, possibly, only imagine the joyous moment when I finally was able to chat with Prince Greystone’s faithful vassal Marko, played by the supremely talented Walter Olkewicz .

In Walter’s tales from his illustrious career I uncovered the story of an effortless performer, a loyal friend, a devoted family man, and a true inspiration to all those who have the dream of being a player of many parts.

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His credits speak for themselves, and I found it most intriguing, that a man who has known such heights could remain, I believe, as he has ever been – the salt of the earth. Walter has though, of late, been suffering with medical issues. It is comforting to hear however, that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Please do take a moment, if you can, to support his recovery, so that Walter can get back to doing what he does best. (Please follow this link: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-walter-save-his-leg#/ )

Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m proud to present, Walter Olkewicz.

 

Fun, and in every sense civilized: An Interview with Charlie Haas by Kent Hill

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Charlie Haas began his life with no thought of working in film. He was interested in fiction and journalism until, that is, at UC, Santa Cruz he started attending a film history class taught by his future collaborator Tim Hunter.

1978 comes around, and their first collaborative effort, Over the Edge, is sold. It is highly unusual for a first time screenwriter to have his early work produced, but that was what happened. After that it was a rise and rise. A young Matt Dillon would go on the star in Hunter and Haas’s next film Tex, and while hanging around at Disney, Charlie found himself doing an unaccredited dialogue polish on, the now cult classic, Tron.

Tron (1982) Spain

Two other favorite films of mine were penned completely by Charlie Haas. Gremlins 2: The New Batch and Matinee.  Both of course were directed by Joe Dante, a famously collaboratively-generous filmmaker. Charlie’s experiences were similar to those had by Eric Luke (whom I’ve chatted with before) who spoke fondly of his Dante adventure on Explorers. Gremlins 2 was a free-for-all kind of sequel. The studio wanted it and so Joe and Charlie were given quite a lot of rope creatively. Meanwhile Matinee is sadly an unsung delight that surprisingly few people I talk to have seen. If you are one of these people, hopefully listening to this may prompt you to check it out, and, if you’re a fan and you haven’t seen it in a while, well, now might be a good time to rediscover this lost little gem of a movie.

Charlie Haas is a true gentleman and it was great to finally shoot the breeze as they say. Though he is not in the industry anymore he is far from unproductive. He has been writing novels, which I shall post the links to below, so check those out.

Whether you have encountered his writing in print or on screen, please now take the time if you will to encounter the man behind the words, the great, Charlie Haas.

https://www.amazon.com/What-Color-Your-Parody-Charlie/dp/0843107960/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1510213067&sr=1-5&keywords=charlie+haas

The Year was 2016, and Warner Brothers Dared to Be Different.

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With recent news of Ben Affleck’s directorial departure from the tentatively titled, THE BATMAN, the state of the DC cinematic universe is a bit uncertain, personally, I have full faith in Snyder and company because I think a lot remains to be seen.  One thing is for certain; the rabid echo chamber is loud as ever.  There are a lot of people who HATE the DC films.  Hate them with a fiery passion.  Hated them before they came out, and once the films came out, they acted as if someone set their Facebook page on fire.

In 2016, Warner Brothers took a huge gamble.  They set out to make films for adults, in their own way.  Sure, they had a lot of catching up to do in regards to the near flawless template that Marvel created, but Warner Brothers made a clear decision; they were making films by adults for adults.  Batman was a blood lusting killer.  Harley Quinn was the epitome of over-sexualization.  Jared Leto took the Joker to an almost unrecognizable level.  Jesse Eisenberg played the anti Lex Luthor.  Both films were so anti-PC, it was a cinematic revelation.

Perhaps there is some trouble at DC, but then again, maybe there isn’t.  The internet has birthed an overpopulated mass of film websites (PTS included) that are a constant trove of clickbait headlines (PTS NOT included).  It seems as if every day for the past year, the state of the DC universe was on the verge of collapsing.  The second JUSTICE LEAGUE film was canceled.  SUICIDE SQUAD 2 isn’t happening.  Early word is WONDER WOMAN is as big of a “mess” as the previous two films.  If there’s one thing I can tell you that I know for certain, no one really knows what’s going on other than the executives at WB/DC.

Here’s the bottom line.  BvS and especially SUICIDE SQUAD made a ton of money.  Sure, BvS underperformed a bit, but it still made a lot of money.  And both films made A LOT more money than the second and third installments of Marvel’s cinematic universe.  Worldwide, SUICIDE SQUAD made 746.6 million dollars, and that was WITHOUT opening in China, which is the biggest market next to America.  SUICIDE SQUAD was a flat-out hit, and Warner Brothers were so happy with it, they signed Margot Robbie to an exclusive deal, which includes the pseudo follow up Harley Quinn film directed by David Ayer.  Will Smith is getting his own Deadshot film, there will be an official sequel to SUICIDE SQUAD at some point, and the FLASH and AQUAMAN films are in the pipeline.

DC Films does not want to be Marvel Studios.  They want to be better, and they still can be.  They have the two most valuable superhero properties; Batman and Superman.  There could be any number of reasons why Ben Affleck decided not to direct THE BATMAN.  It could be the underperformance of LIVE BY NIGHT, it could be that he doesn’t feel comfortable directing a CGI-heavy film, or it could be something completely plausible that will surely be silenced by whatever website decides the real reason is.  Basically, it does not matter.  Ben Affleck is still the Batman, and he still developed the script and is still producing the picture.  If I had to venture a guess as to what’s going on with Affleck is that he’s struggling with whether he wants to be a movie star or an auteur, because realistically, he cannot be both.

 

 

 

PTS Presents PRODUCER’S NOTES WITH BILL GERBER

BILL GERBER POWERCAST

bill gerber (2)Podcasting Them Softly is proud to present a chat with feature film producer BILL GERBER. Bill has some huge credits under his belt — Clint Eastwood’s GRAN TORINO and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT are major feathers in his cap — and over the past 30 years he’s etched himself into the Hollywood landscape with a diverse background that includes work in the worlds of both film and music. Attracted to exciting material and excellent filmmakers, he spent time at the studio level working as an executive on both Oliver Stone’s JFK, Michael Mann’s HEAT, Clint Eastwood’s UNFORGIVEN and Curtis Hanson’s LA CONFIDENTIAL, before branching out as an independent producer with a first-look deal at Warner’s. Passionate, insightful, and beyond knowledgeable, we had a great time chatting with Bill, and we hope you enjoy!