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?
Hollywood doesn’t generally show young people dealing with cancer, especially not 20-somethings like Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). And if it’s going to explore such a serious topic, it’s almost certainly not going to make light of the situation like “50/50.”
Adam doesn’t drink, he doesn’t smoke, and he definitely doesn’t do drugs. It comes as a huge surprise then, when he is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, and told he has a 50 percent chance of beating it. To brave the fight, Adam must lean on his best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen), who seems more interested in picking up women and smoking medical marijuana, than taking it seriously.
Jonathan Levine’s dramedy “50/50” is based on writer Will Reiser’s own battle with cancer, and his interactions with his real life friend Seth Rogen. The film takes a uniquely comedic approach to the concept of serious illness, while still showing sensitivity to the emotional struggles of a life threatening disease.
Recently I sat down for a roundtable interview with Seth Rogen and Will Reiser when they were in Boston promoting “50/50.” Rogen is exactly like you would expect in person: sarcastic, funny, and easily prone to laughter. As a behind the scenes type of person Reiser is quieter and more reserved, but his sense of humor is very similar to Rogen’s. Below are some of the highlights of our conversation.
You probably know Jonah Hill best for his role as the high school misfit Seth, in 2007’s hit comedy Superbad, even though he first hit the acting scene in 2004. Since 2007, he’s increased his profile as a comedic actor in numerous high profile projects like last year’s Cyrus and Get Him to the Greek.
Now that he’s established in comedy though, Hill is ready to challenge your expectations yet again. The actor has shed the excess pounds that made him famous, and he has taken on his first big dramatic role in Bennett Miller’s sports picture Moneyball. In the film, which is based on true events, he plays Peter Brand, a young number cruncher, who helps Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), recruit baseball players on a budget for the Oakland A’s.
Recently I sat down for a roundtable interview with Jonah Hill when he was in Boston promoting Moneyball. For a guy who plays bold characters, Hill is surprisingly soft-spoken. He’s also incredibly down-to-earth, and possesses a diverse set of creative interests. Below are some of the highlights of our conversation.
Q&A: Jesse Eisenberg And Nick Swardson Talk Crazy Driving And Off-Screen Bonding For ’30 Minutes Or Less’0
Director Ruben Fleischer and actor Jesse Eisenberg proved to be formidable combination with their 2009 horror comedy “Zombieland,” which brought a unique sense of humor to the zombie apocalypse. After dabbling in a couple of indies like “Solitary Man” and “Holy Rollers,” Eisenberg went on to achieve mainstream success playing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in the Oscar nominated “Social Network.”
Eisenberg’s limelight didn’t make him forget about Fleischer though. The pair teamed up again to bring us the summer action comedy “30 Minutes or Less.” In the film, two wanna-be criminals (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson) kidnap pizza delivery boy Nick (Jesse Eisenberg), strap a bomb to him, and tell him that he has only a few hours to rob a bank. With the clock ticking, Nick has to seek help from his ex-best friend Chet (Aziz Ansari), in order to handle the police, hired assassins, and flamethrowers.
I had the opportunity to chat with Eisenberg and Swardson in a hilarious roundtable interview recently, where we got to talk about crazy driving, off-screen bonding, and partying with historical figures. All of my responses are indicated below, interspersed with a few questions and comments from other participating journalists.