Since breaking out in the late ’90s in 10 Things I Hate About You, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has steadily climbed Hollywood’s ladder with an intelligent mixture of roles in indie films like Brick and big-budget movies like The Dark Knight Rises. Levitt wasn’t content just to be a well-rounded actor though. In 2005, he launched the successful online artistic collaborative HitRECord and most recently, he also set his sights on writing and directing a feature-length film.
Levitt’s directing debut is Don Jon, a dramedy where he plays Jon, a beefy New Jersey lothario. Jon can bed a new woman every night, yet none of his one-night stands compare to the satisfaction he gets from watching pornography. All that changes when he meets Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), who doesn’t fall for any of his usual tactics. Barbara knows exactly what she wants and she’s going to make Jon work for it. Plus, she won’t put up with his penchant for watching porn. Jon’s forced to make a tough decision: give up his dirty videos or lose Barbara. However for him, the choice isn’t as easy or as clear cut as you’d think.
I sat down with Joseph Gordon-Levitt for a roundtable interview in Boston recently, where we discussed his influences for Don Jon, his optimistic nature, and taking risks in filmmaking.
Evan Crean: Your grandfather (Michael Gordon) was a director. Did you watch any of his films to get inspiration? And what other ones inspired you with Don Jon?
Click here to read the full interview.
For British filmmakers Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, the Cornetto is more than just a tasty ice cream treat that comes in three flavours. Because their comedies don’t share connected characters, the Cornetto is one of several delicious thematic elements that ties the movies together. Wright, Pegg and Frost’s two previous films “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” or flavours if you will, are also united by running jokes, loving homage to specific genres and stories about the power of friendship. The third variety in their series, also known as the Cornetto trilogy, is no different; it’s an action-packed, booze-addled sci-fi adventure called “The World’s End.”
“The World’s End” focuses on Gary King (Pegg), grown man whose mind is trapped in the early 90s. Gary pathetically clings to what he considers the best night of his life: an attempt he and his friends made to conquer their hometown’s epic pub crawl: The Golden Mile. Down on his luck and desperate to recapture that feeling, he convinces his pals (Frost, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, and Paddy Consadine) to join him for one more effort to take on all 12 pubs in one night. However they quickly hit a snag in their journey, after discovering that mysterious forces now control their town. Can they free everyone from these shackles and live long enough to have a pint at the final pub, The World’s End?
Recently I sat down with Wright, Pegg and Frost to discuss “The World’s End,” the dangers of nostalgia and how they achieve their amazing choreography. Here are some of the highlights of our conversation.
Click here to read the interview.
Actors Jim Rash and Nat Faxon wowed us with their Academy Award-winning screenplay for “The Descendants” in 2012. Now they’re poised to enthrall us again with their follow up: the summer coming-of-age flick “The Way, Way Back,” a passion project that they’ve been developing for years. Not only do they make their co-directorial debut with this film, but they co-write, co-produce, and co-star in it as well.
The Way, Way Back” focuses on Duncan (Liam James), a shy teenager forced on vacation with with his mom (Toni Collette), her mean boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell), and Trent’s daughter Steph (Zoe Levin). At first, Duncan is miserable because the adults ignore him and Steph ditches him. Everything changes though after he meets Sam Rockwell’s Owen, the wise-cracking manager at Water Wizz, a local waterpark. Owen gives Duncan a crash course in cool and much-needed mentorship to help completely turn the young man’s summer around.
I sat down with the pair recently for a roundtable interview, where we discussed why they chose Massachusetts for their setting, how the project developed, what influences from their own adolescence made it into the film, and why their time in prep school prepared them for show business. Below are highlights from our conversation.
Q: The original script, was it always based in Massachusetts?
Click here to read more.
David Chase worked in television for over 20 years writing, directing, and producing shows like “The Rockford Files” and “Northern Exposure” before he stunned viewers in 1999 with his epic mob series “The Sopranos.” The show lasted six seasons and racked up numerous awards, but it arguably made its most significant in television history with its ambiguous conclusion, which left many fans angry.
In the years since, Chase decided to explore a new avenue by writing and directing his first feature film “Not Fade Away.” His tale, which is set in the 1960s and follows a young man from New Jersey, named Doug (John Magaro) as he starts a rock band and tries to make it big. Doug faces the usual trials and tribulations including grief from his working-class cantankerous father (played by “Sopranos” alum James Gandolfini). Musician Steve Van Zandt who played Silvio on “The Sopranos” also assisted Chase, providing tunes he wrote and helping to secure rights to famous songs from the era.
Recently I had the opportunity to participate in a roundtable interview with David Chase where we discussed his new film, rock n’ roll, and why wrote an ambiguous ending for his film. Below are some of the highlights of the conversation.
Q: In this movie you really focus on the music: there are close ups on the instruments and you cast no-name actors. Why was that so important to you to really focus on the music?
Q&A: ‘The Cabin In the Woods’ Stars Fran Kranz And Kristen Connolly Discuss Joss Whedon And Acting In Horror0
When Fran Kranzand Kristen Connolly first signed on for the Joss Whedon-penned horror flick The Cabin in the Woods, they immediately knew they were going to be part of something special. Helmed by Drew Goddard making his directorial debut, the film tells the story of five college friends who travel to a remote cabin in the woods for a relaxing weekend getaway. They soon discover unimaginable terrors there, and together they must survive long enough to learn the truth behind the mysterious cabin.
Originally shot in 2009 under MGM, the film sat on the shelf for two years because the studio went bankrupt. Lionsgate acquired the movie and released it this year at South by Southwest, where despite its well-traveled premise; the picture received significant praise for its brilliant mixture of horror homage and parody.
Recently two of its stars, Fran Kranz and Kristen Connolly, were in Boston to screen The Cabin in the Woods, and I was lucky enough to participate in a roundtable interview with them. Below are some of the highlights of that conversation.
Q: What was it like working with Joss Whedon?
She’s already known for her romantic fiction, but author Dana Fredsti is poised to make a splash in a totally new genre: horror. With her novel Plague Town, Fredsti introduces zombie lovers to Ashley Parker, a college student whose sleepy town is taken over by the undead. Ashley discovers that she’s a wildcard, meaning she is immune to the virus which has caused the entire mess. Teaming up with a ragtag group of soldiers and other wildcards, Ashley must destroy the infestation before it spreads to the surrounding areas.
The book, which is the first in a trilogy, has been described by Fredsti and others as Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets zombies, which I think is an accurate description. Even if Buffy isn’t your thing though, there’s enough action, gore, romance, humor, and nerd culture references to satisfy you.
Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with Dana about Plague Town, her connection to the cult classic Army of Darkness, and her thoughts on this season of The Walking Dead. Below are some of the highlights of our conversation.
Evan Crean: Let me just say for starters, I loved Plague Town.
Dana Fredsti: Yay!
EC: I was reading on your website that Plague Town is based on a previous book that you wrote for the publisher Ravenous Romance. I was wondering, what are some of the key differences between the two aside from maybe a little less saucy material? Read more…
Whether you’re into television junkie or a film nerd, you probably know Elizabeth Banks. In television the actress has had memorable turns on “30 Rock” and “Scrubs,” while her film credits include a mixture of comedic and serious efforts like “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “The Next Three Days.”
This week, in the thriller “Man on a Ledge,” Banks plays a police negotiator named Lydia Mercer. When a disgraced ex-cop Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) climbs up on a New York hotel threatening to jump, Mercer is tasked with talking him down. What she doesn’t know is that the stunt is merely a smokescreen to hide his true plan. Certain shady characters discover his motives, so they set attempt to stop Nick, causing chaos to ensue.
Recently I had the chance to sit down for a roundtable interview with Banks about the movie. Below are some highlights of the conversation.
Q: One of the cool things about your character in this movie is that she’s a “police officer” and not a “police woman.” There’s not anything mentioned about her being a woman in the movie. Was that important to you to just play a character where it didn’t matter?
In the 1986 comedy “Three Amigos!” Steve Martin quips, “You dirt-eating piece of slime! You scum-sucking pig! You son of a motherless goat!” Every time you hear the insult, it’s almost impossible not to laugh with Martin’s matter-of-fact delivery. What makes the statement even more comical though, is that Martin’s character has no idea he’s pissing off, a bad guy, who’s ready to shoot him for the outrage.
“Three Amigos!” tells the story of three unemployed actors (Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short) who mistakenly travel to a Mexican village for a celebrity appearance. This is no ordinary visit however, because the townspeople believe that the Three Amigos will save them from the bandit El Guapo, like in one of their films. Hilarity ensues, when the actors realize they are in way over their heads, and must rise to the occasion to help the villagers.
“Three Amigos” was directed by John Landis, the genius behind tons of classic comedies like “Animal House,” “Blues Brothers,” “Spies Like Us,” and “Trading Places.” I had the immense honor of speaking with Mr. Landis recently about the 25th anniversary of ‘Three Amigos,’ and about some of his other work.
The famous stoner duo Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) are back! They return to theaters this weekend with their 3D holiday extravaganza “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas,” which reunites the estranged friends for a night of holiday hijinx, after Kumar accidentally burns down the prized Christmas tree belonging to Harold’s father-in-law (Danny Trejo).
Recently I had the pleasure of talking with the film’s director, Todd Strauss-Schulson, who is making his feature length directing debut with this comedy. I sat down with the Emerson College alum at a local Boston bar, on a nice sunny afternoon to discuss his experience directing, his close ties to Emerson classmates, and the origins of the waffle making robot in the film.
Wes Craven is one of Hollywood’s most prolific filmmakers, with a career that spans almost 40 years. He’s primarily known for his work in the horror genre, where he has helped to launch several of its most successful franchises, including “The Hills Have Eyes,” “Nightmare on Elm Street,” and most recently “Scream.” The latest installment in the “Scream” series, “Scream 4,” came out this past April, and arrives on DVD tomorrow.
I spoke with Mr. Craven about the upcoming DVD release of “Scream 4,” about the genre in general, and about some his own worst fears. Below are the highlights of our conversation.
EC: Scream 4, like the other films in the series is very self-aware. This one even more so than the others. It’s loaded with pop culture references to other horror movies, social media, even to the series itself. Was there ever a point when you were making it, where you felt like you were taking it too far? Did you end up cutting anything that felt like it was breaking the fourth wall?