Leave it to a foreigner to make possibly Hollywood’s most archetypical American film of 2013, 'Pacific Rim.' Although Guillermo del Toro borrowed from Japanese monster movies and anime for his basic idea, set much of the film in foreign countries, and assembled a cast of characters that more or less defines "multiethnic" and "multicultural", he celebrates the West’s great melting pot, and its heroic traditions, with his story of monsters and the giant robots that humanity builds to fight them.
Del Toro didn’t stop there, however. His latest film, also his biggest, is a remarkably humanistic odyssey, buoyed not by an affection for militaristic power, or even the triumph of individual heroism, but the uplift of humanity coming together and prevailing, geographic and political borders be damned. We caught up with him for a substantial conversation about his latest film earlier this when, during which he offered some insights into the thematic underpinnings and conceptual foundations of this terrifically straightforward summer opus.
In addition to talking about the process of constructing a pure adventure story in an era where complicated mythologies dominate the moviemaking landscape, del Toro explored the film’s deeper, recurrent themes, and offered some insights into his creative approach as he tackles a horde of projects at one time, without any certainty when – or if – they might come to fruition.
"Marky Mark and the Fun Bunch." Precisely how Maya Rudolph came to incorrectly remember the name of Mark Wahlberg’s former music group is just one of the highlights of this great interview with her and Sam Rockwell, the two stars of 'The Way, Way Back,' the directorial debut of the writing team of Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. In the film, Rockwell and Rudolph play employees of a water park who help an awkward kid overcome some of his insecurities while he’s on vacation with his mother and her new, authoritative boyfriend. As a counterpoint to his oddly more dysfunctional domestic situation, the pair provide a stabilizing if unconventional influence on the boy, even if they aren’t quite funky.
Roland Emmerich, the director of such disaster-heavy films as 'Independence Day,' '2012,' 'The Day After Tomorrow' and the last 'Godzilla' movie, set his sights on the White House in 'White House Down.' Starring Channing Tatum as Secret Service hopeful John Cale and Jamie Foxx as US President James Sawyer, this "Die Hard in the White House" film starts like any other day until a team of domestic terrorists infiltrate and bring down the White House.
Pixar makes a lot of movies. A lot of great movies. So how do they do it? And more importantly, how do they keep doing it? We were invited to visit the Pixar campus in Emeryville, California to watch the 'Monsters University' team work and try to answer that very question.
First up is Story Supervisor, Kelsey Mann. He is responsible for all the storyboards for 'Monsters University,' which serve as the framework for the film, while it is being animated. We met Mann inside a plush movie theater with a workstation at the center hooked directly into the screen. He took out a digital pen and a drawing board and immediately began sketching out a scene from the film when Mike Wazowski enters his dorm room and turns on the lights. It's a drawing that would take you or I about three hours to finish but he completed three storyboards (and had them animated) in about three minutes.
We spoke to Mann about what it's really like to work at Pixar (a lot harder than you'd think), the true story behind that "Pixar's Rules of Storytelling" post that went viral (it's not actually from Pixar) and what 'Star Wars' movie he wishes Pixar could make.
Although his more recent work has stolen the hearts of fanboys over and over again, Chuck Roven is a remarkably unpredictable producer. All three of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, not to mention 'Man of Steel', were produced under his auspices, but so was 'Twelve Monkeys.' 'City Of Angels.' 'Three Kings,' among many more. Roven is a proven commercial powerhouse whose calling card is, unlike contemporaries like Jerry Bruckheimer or Joel Silver, chameleonic understatedness. All of which underscores his suitability to tell a Superman story that razes the character’s identity and starts over from scratch, notwithstanding a few essential hallmarks.
We sat down with Roven recently to discuss 'Man Of Steel,' where he discussed the process of rescuing the last son of Krypton from a cinematic fate worse than death: the end of a franchise. In addition to talking about what needed to stay – and to go – from Superman’s considerable mythology, Roven discussed the challenges of reintroducing a known character to audiences in a new way, and reflected on what qualities his films possess in order for him to consider them successful.
Although this summer has been full of highly-anticipated blockbusters, 'Man of Steel' may be the one that has worked fans into the biggest tizzy. The long-overdue follow-up to Bryan Singer’s 'Superman Returns,' conceived as a reimagining of the character from the ground up, promises the kind of moral complexity of the last three Batman movies, while still retaining the energy and frenetic action of, well, all of the earlier Superman movies. Director Zack Snyder created a singular vision for Superman’s beginnings, rebranding the character as an outsider struggling to find his place in a world that he knows is not his own.
At the recent Los Angeles press day, we got to speak with the cast and crew of 'Man of Steel.' In addition to discussing the challenge of bringing Superman back to life, the actors talked about their physical and psychological roles within the film, while the filmmakers offered their perspective on why the character endures – and why that enduring persona had to be reinvented for a new generation.
Although the peak of his supporting-player participation came to a head in 'The Avengers,' Clark Gregg has always provided the heart and soul of many movies that otherwise lacked them. And in 'Much Ado About Nothing,' he’s the voice of outrage, the protector of a young woman’s virtue, even as a swirling ensemble of characters conspires to impugn it. Oddly, the two films share more in common than their writer-director, Joss Whedon – namely, that both utilize Gregg’s performance as a catalyst for the story to find its footing and pay off with the emotional strength that’s suggested in the text.
We sat down with Gregg at the recent Los Angeles press day for Much Ado About Nothing, where the gifted character actor talked about how he made the transition from working on one of the biggest films of all time, to one decidedly much smaller. In addition to describing the process of breaking down the language of Shakespeare’s iconic play to its most visceral elements, he offered insights into his expanding collaboration with Whedon, and revealed a few details about how his character Agent Coulson will not only be revived, but further explored in the upcoming television series 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'
Since 1978, Hollywood has made five movies about Superman, all of which essentially characterized the superhero the same way: wholesome, morally resolute, and indefatigably heroic. The sixth - 'Man of Steel' - takes the character in another direction – technically, backwards. Director Zack Snyder’s film re-examines the character’s origin story, looking at the formative years, and experiences, which gave him the certitude and clarity to be Earth’s greatest protector. Meanwhile, audiences simultaneously get to thrill at watching the character test out his strength while battling General Zod, one of Superman’s greatest foes.
We sat down with producer Deborah Snyder at the recent Los Angeles press day for Man of Steel, where she seemed excited to finally be able to talk about the film. Perhaps appropriately, she discussed the balancing act that goes into deciding how much to disclose to audiences as a film like this is coming to theaters, and then revealed the attitude and approach which she and Zack took as they were reinventing the great-granddaddy of all superheroes. Finally, she offered some insights about where this Superman fits – both into the character’s own canon, and then the current landscape of heroes that Christopher Nolan razed when he paired Batman’s cape and cowl with a complex foundation of moral and personal ambiguities.
No filmmaker has done more for the bromance than Todd Phillips. From 'Road Trip' to 'Old School' to, now, three 'Hangover' films, he’s detailed the love one man has for another man more thoroughly than just about anyone in Hollywood. And 'The Hangover Part III' feels almost weirdly like a last hurrah for the sorts of shenanigans that have become his stock and trade: reuniting the Wolf Pack under the pretense of getting Alan (Zach Galifianakis) some much-needed emotional counseling, Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Stu (Ed Helms) find themselves unwittingly teamed with their man-child companion yet again after a gangster (John Goodman) holds Doug (Justin Bartha) hostage in exchange for them locating Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong), whom he claims stole $21 million from him.
At the risk of great physical harm – namely, a pretty wicked hangover -- we headed to Las Vegas to talk to director Todd Phillips and screenwriter Craig Mazin about 'The Hangover Part III.' In addition to discussing the process of wrapping up the Wolf Pack saga, Mazin and Phillips explored the underlying appeal of the films to audiences, and gingerly addressed questions about what might follow from the purveyors of the most successful R-rated comedy series of all time.
Comedy sequels are not uncommon, but trilogies are rare. And yet, 'The Hangover Part III,' the third and presumably final installment in Todd Phillips’ epic saga of four friends who can’t seem to keep themselves sober (or even conscious) when they come together, seems oddly natural given the enormous appeal of its ensemble cast. The film brings Wolf Pack members Phil, Stu, Alan and Doug full circle, returning them to Vegas older and marginally wiser as they try to track down the potty-mouthed Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong) for another gangster (John Goodman) who claims that he stole $21 million in gold bars from him during their first drugged-out stint in Sin City.
We spoke with stars Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms at Las Vegas’ Caesar’s Palace, where the original and final chapters were filmed about wrapping up the most successful comedy series in movie history. In addition to offering their thoughts about the franchise’s trajectory, they reflected on the star-making experience of playing these now-iconic roles, and offered a few suggestions about how to follow up their collective success with reunion films – in new styles and other genres, no less.
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