Die-hard drill instructors, jailbreaking football coaches, and corrupt backwoods sheriffs. It was all just another day of work for former Marine Corp. drill instructor-turned-actor R. Lee Ermey, who died earlier this week. Ermey was an incredibly dynamic character-actor with an instantly recognizable face and rambunctious personality. The Kansas native joined the Marine Corp. in lieu of jail time after he’d been arrested twice by the age of 17. He began his career serving as a drill instructor in San Diego during the early 1960s before eventually being sent on a 14-month deployment in Vietnam. He was injured during his tour in 1969 and was sent to work as a staff sergeant in Okinawa before being medically discharged in 1972, ending his hopes of a long military career. After moving to the Philippines to attend college, Ermey married and began taking odd jobs in television commercials before landing his first film role as Sgt. Loyce in a movie called The Boys in Company C, which followed five young Marine Corp. recruits from their bootcamp training to their deployment in Vietnam. Continue reading →
The 2017 Frozen Film Festival kicks off today and runs through this Saturday night in downtown Saint Paul. Frozen Film Festival plays host to both feature length and short length features in the categories of drama, comedy, and documentary. In addition, short films by students are also presented at the event. The festival kicks off tonight with a party at Sakura in downtown Saint Paul. The main venues for the event are F.K. Weyerhaeuser Auditorium at 75 W. 5th St. and TPT Street Space at 172 East Fourth Street. Tickets for the event are available on the website, along with a full schedule of films showing each day. If you’re interested, VIP passes are also still available for sale. Continue reading →
Foreign writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, Alps) has a new comedic drama seeing a limited theatrical release this Friday titled The Lobster. The film was won several awards at the Cannes Film Festival last year, and with nothing but positive review from critics and audiences, anticipation for an American release has been pretty high. Co-written with Lanthimos’ long-time collaborator Efthymis Filippou, the film is set in a future dystopian society, in which single individuals are taken to The Hotel in order to find a romantic partner within 45 days, or be transformed into wild beasts and banished to live in The Woods. Definitely sounds pretty strange, but that is Lanthimos’ style, so it’s actually not far off the mark considering his portfolio. Starring in the film are actors Colin Farrell (Phone Booth, Miami Vice), Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener, The Fountain), Jessica Barden (Hanna, Far From The Maddening Crowd), and Olivia Colman (The Iron Lady, Locke), among a supporting cast including John C. Reilly (The Good Girl, Chicago) and Ben Whishaw (Spectre, In The Heart of the Sea). Check it out in theaters if it’s playing in your local area this weekend.
With the biggest night in Hollywood quickly approaching, and all the controversy surrounding this year’s nominee selections, we thought it would be appropriate to look at some historical actors that have either boycotted the Oscar ceremonies, or blatantly returned the award to the Academy. The first incident that comes to mind is Marlon Brando‘s famous refusal to accept the Best Actor Oscar for The Godfather in 1973. He completely skipped the ceremony and had a woman named Sacheen Littlefeather refuse the award on his behalf in the name of Native American rights. George C. Scott also famously boycotted the Oscars when he won for Patton, even returning the award the next day when it was presented to him after the ceremony. Although it’s never really a surprise, Woody Allen has rarely ever attended an Academy Award ceremony, even though he has won numerous times for films like Annie Hall, Midnight in Paris, and Hannah and Her Sisters. Paul Newman also refused to attend the Oscar ceremony when he finally won after six previous nominations and two honorary awards. And finally, John Gieglud was also absent to accept the Supporting Actor award for Arthur in 1982, later writing that, “I really detest all that mutual congratulation baloney and the invidious comparisons which they invoke.” As for this year, director Spike Lee and acting couple Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith already said they would boycott the ceremony, owing to the lack of ethnic diversity amongst this year’s nominees, but they have since rescinded following the Academy’s pledge to diversify its membership by 2020. Hopefully we’ll see some drastic improvements in the upcoming years, as it’s definitely been long overdue in Hollywood. Stay tuned.
With Star Wars: The Force Awakens opening in theaters nationwide tomorrow, you can expect movie theaters to be jam-packed this weekend with old and new generation fans alike. There are, however, a number of smaller, independent projects coming out this weekend that we like to take the time to shine the spotlight on. The first is a new war drama titled Son of Saul (originally Saul fia) from writer/director Laszlo Nemes (The Counterpart, The Gentlemen Takes His Leave), which received excellent recognition at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Taking place in the Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz, in 1944, the film follows a prisoner who attempts to find redemption by saving a boy he adopts as his son from the furnaces of the camp that he has been forced to subject many of his own people to. Starring in the film are actors Geza Rohrig, Levente Molnar (Morgen, Our Big Time), Urs Rechn (Eight Miles High, The King’s Surrender), and Todd Charmont (The Last of the Mohicans, Strangers). Continue reading →
Actor Woody Harrelson in full make-up and costume on the set of LBJ.
Principle photography is currently underway on a new biographical drama from Oscar-nominee Rob Reiner (The Princess Bride, A Few Good Men), titled LBJ. Leading the film as President Johnson is fellow Oscar-nominee Woody Harrelson (Zombieland, True Detective), with Jennifer Jason Leigh (Road To Perdition, The Machinist), C. Thomas Howell (E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, The Amazing Spider-Man), Bill Pullman (Spaceballs, Independence Day), Jeffery Donovan (Changeling, Burn Notice), and Richard Jenkins (The Indian in the Cupboard, Step Brothers). The plot is expected to range from 1959 to 1964, covering Johnson’s time in the Senate, Vice-Presidency under John F. Kennedy, and his subsequent term as President after Kennedy’s assassination, coming from a script by Joey Hartstone (Project Runway). Johnson faced several large issues during his time as President, including the beginning of the Vietnam conflict and the Civil Rights Movement. We’ll keep an eye on this one as it progresses, but as of now the film does not have an exact release date. Stay tuned.
Opening in theaters today is a new post-apocalyptic drama from director Craig Zobel (Great World of Sound, Compliance) titled Z For Zachariah. The film comes from an adaptation of Robert C. O’Brien‘s 1975 novel of the same name by screenwriter Nissar Modi (Breaking at the Edge) about a trio of survivors living in a post World War III environment who find themselves entwined in an intense love-triangle as the only known survivors of the nuclear fallout. Making up the three-member cast line-up is Oscar-nominated actor Chiwetel Ejiofor (American Gangster, 12 Years A Slave), and actors Chris Pine (Unstoppable, Star Trek: Into Darkness), and Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street, Focus). Continue reading →
Every year the Toronto International Film Festival serves as one of the major international film festivals that close out the fiscal year, and this year’s festival is sure to feature an excellent celebration of Oscar-worthy filmmaking. Toronto’s film festival is usually filled with entries seen earlier in the year at festivals like Sundance and Cannes, but it also brings its own special line-up to its audience. This year several highly anticipated films will have the honor of being shown during the festivities, most notably the Whitey Bulger biopic Black Mass with Johnny Depp, Matt Damon‘s next space adventure following Interstellar titled The Martian, and one I personally am really excited to see, another biopic called Trumbo with Emmy-winner Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Godzilla) in the title role of McCarthy-era screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, whose film credits were published under various pseudonyms over the years after he was blacklisted during Senator McCarthy’s famous Communist-trials in the 1950s. Continue reading →
The Bean in Chicago’s Millenium Park will also be featured as part of Statue Stories Chicago.
A new project here in Chicago is launching this week in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. The project is called Statue Stories Chicago, an idea which first launched in parks in Britain and Chicago is now the first US city to feature the attraction. 31 statues in Lincoln Park will feature new icons that Chicagoans and tourists can scan with their smart phones and then receive a phone call from ‘the statue’ informing them of who they are and providing a small bit of history behind the statue as well. For example, if you were to scan the icon next to the statue of Abraham Lincoln, you would receive a phone call from Abraham Lincoln, whose voice is provided by actor John C. Reilly (Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Step-Brothers). The project is the work of Colette Hiller, who has worked with theaters around the city, including Second City, Steppenwolf, The Goodman, and The Looking Glass, to bring the attractions to life. Other actors taking part in the project include Steve Carrell (The Office, Little Miss Sunshine), David Schwimmer (Friends, Six Days Seven Nights), and Chicago-native Bob Newhart (The Bob Newhart Show, Elf), who provides the voice for his own statue at Navy Pier. So if you’re in Lincoln Park be sure to check out these new talking statues!
On July 28th, 1995, director Larry Clark‘s eye-opening drama Kids opened in theaters, and not without a storm of controversy. Following a group of teenagers living in New York City, the film paints a vivid portrait of their day-to-day activities, namely smoking weed, drinking, fucking with people, and then fucking each other (unprotected, of course). The movie was given an MC-17 rating for theatrical release, but an unrated version was later released for home video. The rating, however, was only one part of the controversy surrounding the film. Kids also received outraged accusations of child pornography and obscenity, and was a heated subject on major news outlets including CNN and Newsweek, although some critics and sociologists did come forth to protect the film’s merit as a wake-up call to the reality of modern life for teenagers in an urban setting. Kids was the first film by director Clark (Bully, Ken Park) and also the first film for screenwriter Harmony Korine (Gummo, Mister Lonely). It also introduced several stars to Hollywood including Leo Fitzpatrick (The Wire, Sons of Anarchy), Rosario Dawson (Clerks, Sin City), and Oscar-nominee Chloe Sevigny (American Psycho, Zodiac). You can still find copies of the DVD release in some smaller movie stores and there are likely bootleg versions online, but if you haven’t seen it you should be prepared going in. Regardless of the artistic merit of the movie, it is very graphic and was rated NC-17 for a reason. You can see one of the original theatrical trailers from 1995 here on MADE.