Favor

Considering its pedigree, this is an awfully good film

Favor is a rather low-budget film by filmmakers with rather limited experience.  The writer/director, Paul Osborne, for instance has only a few credits to his name and the two stars have a decent number of credits—but not as leading men.  Yet, interestingly, despite its cheapness, the film doesn’t look cheap and is an unusual and exciting little thriller. Also, the actors didn’t look like actors and this makes the film seem much more realistic than a film with big-name Hollywood stars.  I like films like this, as it feels like you are discovering something yet to be discovered by everyone else.

Favor
Written & Directed by
Paul Osborne
Cast
Blayne Weaver, Patrick Day, Jeffrey Combs
Release Date
22 April 2014
Martin’s Grade: A-

When the film begins, it dives right into the plot.  Kip (Blayne Weaver) is upset and desperate when he shows up at his childhood friend’s home.  Marvin (Patrick Day) says he is more than glad to help and offers to do anything to help.  Perhaps he spoke too soon, as Kip informs him that his mistress has just slipped and fell and died in a nearby motel room—and he wants Marvin to hide the body!  After all, Kip reasons, he doesn’t want to lose his wife or have it hurt his career!  Marvin tells Kip not to worry and takes care of the ‘problem’.  Not surprisingly, this is NOT the end of the problem—otherwise it would only be a 15 minute movie!  Serious complications arise and the apparent moral of the film is that if you want something right, you ought to do it yourself!

Soon, Marvin begins stopping by Kip’s house and job all sorts of hours—often to chat or talk about the burial.  This is bad enough, but soon Marvin begins asking Kip for all sorts of favors.  First, he wants Kip to get him a date—but Marvin is out of work and rather boorish, so this is not small task!  And, when this doesn’t work out, Marvin feels that Kip has let him down and is angry!  Second, Kip needs an assistant at work and Marvin INSISTS that Kip should hire him—even though he’s grossly under-qualified and gets Kip in hot water with his boss for hiring such an incompetent.  Third, Marvin asks Kip for a loan of $5000!  The favors Marvin keeps asking seem to have no end and when Kip has finally had enough, Marvin becomes angry—very, very, very angry.  And, when this moment occurs, the film starts to get very strange and very violent.  Where all this goes is something to see, as there are some very interesting twists and turns—and they are sure to leave you guessing.

This is a very exciting thriller and is worth seeing.  It isn’t perfect, as there are a few amazingly brutal and disturbing scenes which I think could have been handled a bit less violently (yes, I am a bit squeamish and didn’t need to see such realistic murders).  Also, when you really think about what’s happening, it really seems far-fetched.  Yet, it’s constructed so well that you’ll probably find yourself like me—willing to suspend disbelief and able to buy into the story.  Well done and I hope to see more from these folks.

Review by Lead Entertainment Writer & Film Critic, Martin Hafer

Bates Motel: Season 2, Ep 08

Meltdown

Last week saw Norman’s sanity deteriorate considerably, with our hero barely hanging on to what little he has remaining. Norma is deeply concerned at his worsened state, and while this week sees Norman put on a good act, where everything appears to be fine and dandy, on the surface at least, his behaviour is actually more disconcerting because we know what’s really bubbling just beneath the surface.

Norma can’t stand the fact she no longer has the same grip she once had over her son, and her cloying affections are having little or no effect, but whatever this big secret is she’s keeping from Norman, that could explain why he behaves the way he does, and why he takes those blackouts, must really be something big.

Bates Motel
Created by
Anthony Cipriano
Cast
Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, Max Thieriot
Episode Release Date
21 April 2014
Ed’s Grade: B+

Sheriff Romero is clearly bothered that Norman had sex with Blaire Watson, and the fact he was particularly annoyed at the deputy for sending Norman’s DNA away for analysis I find curious. Why would his deputy simply doing her job bother Romero so much, unless he’s protecting someone? There could be a couple of possibilities for his reaction.

He could be protecting Norman, but I can’t see him doing that unless he really has the hots for Norma. He could be protecting the memory of the murdered teacher, which is my favorite theory, as Blaire was known to be a woman who enjoyed the company of men. Lots of men. The only other reason I can think of is that Romero didn’t much like Kyle Miller so was unconcerned if he was convicted of her murder, which we learn in this episode is just what happens to Miller.

On a number of occasions during the episode, Romero tries to confront Norman about what happened between he and Blaire Watson, and he even gives Norman a way out, by telling him Kyle was found guilty of the murder, and that Norman’s semen was found on the body, but he’d understand if Norman only wanted to keep having sex with his teacher a secret from his mother. Norman was too busy denying anything happened, but he also told the Sheriff it was impossible. This means that Norman not only can’t remember what happened, which we already know about, but you have to wonder if Norman performed necrophilia on the corpse. This wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest, and may also account for why Norman doesn’t remember. Perhaps he doesn’t want to remember!


Norma finally agrees to a date with George, who cooks a meal at his home for them to share, but after George asks Norma a question about which college she attended and Norma gets caught out in a lie, Norma blurts out how she never went to college and barely finished school. Basically telling George she felt she had to lie to give the illusion she was intellectually as good as them. She eventually storms out but you could tell she was worried about Norman the entire time she was out.

When Norma arrives back at the house she finds Norman watching a movie. She tells him she missed him but Norman remains distant which upsets her. When she confronts him about his behaviour, he becomes very angry, ordering her not to follow him to his bedroom. “Leave me alone. You stay out here, alone.” Norma tries to enter his room but Norman has locked the door. Norma finally throws a fit, battering on the door, screaming, then calmly tells Norman; “you wanna be alone? Fine, you be alone.” Norma returns to a startled George, where she discards her undies and has sex with him.

Dylan has been ordered by Nick Ford to kill Zane, and Nick uses veiled threats about hurting Dylan’s family. At this point Dylan doesn’t know where Zane is, with even Romero threatening Dylan over the massacre caused by Zane when he attacked Nick’s place. I’m not entirely sure why Romero wants Zane so badly, because it seems a bit extreme for it just to be about his house being burned to the ground. Dylan eventually visits Jodi, who initially tells Dylan to leave, but when Dylan becomes resolute about putting a stop to Zane, Jodi stuns both Dylan and myself by basically giving him the okay to take care of Zane!

TV Recap by Lead Entertainment Writer, Ed Blackadder

An Interview with Director Neil Breen

Ever on the hunt for the next great “cult classic,” I recently stumbled upon Fateful Findings (thanks Alan Cerny and Alamo Drafthouse).  Written, directed, produced by, and starring Neil Breen, it only took about a minute into the film for me to discover that I was watching something special that had more to offer than the typical film billed as “The next The Room.”  I urge you to check it out for yourself now, because in a year or two, everyone will be talking about it and you’ll be able to say that you were one of the first to see it.  You could say that anyway, but if you didn’t actually see it early, then you’d just be a liar and you know darn well that Tracy at your office won’t date a liar unless there are career advancement opportunities in it for her, which she already fell for once.  And, believe you me, you only get one shot with Tracy at your office. 

Wanting to explore even deeper, I had the opportunity to speak to the man responsible for all this, Neil Breen himself, about the many hats that he wore during production, how it compares to his previous films, and where the film lands as a political statement.  At the end of the interview, look out for info on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you yourself can have to probe the mind of Neil Breen.  I drop you now into the middle of the conversation as Neil, in good humor, clears up one of the biggest myths about himself…

Neil Breen:  I try to clarify this in every interview.  I’m an architect.  I went to college to be an architect, I’m a licensed architect, etc…  While I was an architect, I also got my real estate license.  When I did my first feature, Double Down, six or seven years ago now, somebody did a search on me and found my business card for the real estate license.  They never picked up on the fact that my primary business is being an architect.  So, the myth was created years ago that I’m this wealthy real estate guy, which is not the truth.  I kept that real estate license active for only a year.  I have never made any serious money through real estate.  So, what I’m getting at is that this myth of real estate mega guy has been perpetuated for no reason.

Jason Howard:  I apologize for my own purchase into the myth perpetuation!

NB:  No, it’s okay.  I’m an architect and the way that I self-fund my films is with the money I made and saved as an architect.  It has nothing to do with real estate.

JH:  Was filmmaking always a goal for you?

NB:  Oh yeah, it was always a goal.  I can remember, like everybody, when your 10-years-old and you see your first movie and think, “this is fantastic.  How did they do this?”  But, the reality is, especially me growing up back east, Hollywood was a million miles away and it was literally a dream.  But, it was really something that I was passionate about.  So, I knew that I needed to get and wanted to get a real job doing something creative and fun and that I could make money at, while never giving up the dream.  That’s when I went to college to become an architect.  Graduated college as an architect, practiced as an architect, but still never gave up the dream of being a filmmaker.  Never being a part of the Hollywood insider’s group, I knew that I needed to self-fund my movies.  I was willing to make that sacrifice and that’s how I got to this point.

JH:  Speaking of the self-financing, do you find that those limitations help to stimulate the creative process because you are forced to find interesting solutions that bigger-budgeted pictures might be able to just throw money at as a solution?

NB:  Absolutely.  In fact, when I talk to young filmmakers, who obviously are doing things on a limited budget, I think the most important two words are, one, you’ve got to be “passionate” about it.  You’ve got to be willing to make sacrifices – personal sacrifices, professional sacrifices…  And the second word is “resourceful.”  As a low-budget filmmaker, you’ve got to be very, very resourceful.  What I mean by that is you’ve got to come up with solutions to big problems that are popping up every day.  And, like you said, the big studios or big budget films can throw money at those problems.  An indie guy can’t, so he needs to be resourceful enough to resolve those problems and issues and challenges within himself and within the team he is working with.

JH:  I’ve seen two of your three films.  From what I’ve seen, they don’t seem to fit neatly within just one genre.  Is that something that is intentional on your part?

NB:  Absolutely.  In some of the very first reviews of Fateful Findings; in fact, the Seattle Film Festival gave it a really nice review, the word they used, which I loved, is “genre-defying.”  In other words, the film doesn’t fall into, like you said, a specific genre.  It’s not specifically horror, it’s not specifically science fiction, it’s not specifically romance, it’s not specifically political…  I love the term they used, and others have since picked up on – it’s “genre-defying.”  It’s got a little bit of paranormal.  It’s got a little bit of political.  It’s got a little bit of romance.  It’s got a little bit of this, a little bit of that.  I’ve never made a genre-specific film.  Even my fourth-film that I’m writing right now is very genre-defying.  That’s me and that’s what I like doing.

JH:  Sure.  I’d say genre-defying is a very apt term.  Besides not fitting neatly into a genre, your films, Fateful Findings in particular, seem to have a message and a purpose behind them.  Do you feel that films today don’t do enough of that?

NB:  Well, it’s not my place to tell other filmmakers what to do or not to do.  I just know, for me, I like the combination, and all three of my films have reflected this, of, for lack of a better term, the mystical or paranormal side of life, coupled with issues that have some sense of social responsibility.  Obviously, Fateful Findings has a political conclusion in that, as we all know, the government is failing us on many levels and the politicians are a disaster.  I Am Here Now had more to do with the environmental issue.  And, Double Down was sort of the rogue CIA agent understanding that the system was failing society in general.  Even in the fourth film, there’s a mystical paranormal twist, coupled with another very socially relevant, socially responsible topic that I’m touching on, which is really the focus of the film and I haven’t addressed in the three previous films.

JH:  Fateful Findings certainly calls out corruption in the government, big banks, insurance companies – I don’t want to give away too many of the twists and turns.  Are those issues that are pretty important to you personally?

NB:  Well, I think it is to everybody.  I think our government reflects it.  I’m not a political radical or a revolutionary, but that’s why he (Jason’s note: lead character, Dylan) gets up in the end and says, “it’s time to act.  It’s time to act now as an individual and make some sense of things.”  And, acting now could be interpreted 100 different ways.  From just getting out to vote, to being a revolutionary, to being a financial contributor, to burning down a building, to assassination – it goes on and on and on.  I’m not proposing those things, but I’m saying it’s open to interpretation.  I do that on purpose in my films.  I try not to give the audience one way for them to interpret it.  In other words, there’s no right or wrong in my films.  If you ask three audience members who just viewed the film, they may have three different interpretations, and that’s fine with me.

Let me back up and touch on something else.  I keep saying I’ve made three feature films and went to college to be an architect.  But, I have NEVER gone to film school.  Making Double Down WAS my film school.  That was a learning experience for me.  I obviously have made one or two very small and very amateurish films before that, but I had never gone to film school or anything like that.  So, I’m passionate enough about filmmaking, from a time and money point of view, to teach myself.  Not that I’m adverse to film school or anything like that, but I’ve never been in a position to do that is what I’m trying to say.


JH:  Absolutely.  And, sometimes by learning on the job as you’ve done, you avoid the trappings of feeling like you have to do exactly what the books tell you to do when making a film.

NB:  You’re absolutely right.  Obviously, prior to making films, I read every book on filmmaking, but just never had any formal filmmaking education.  But, that’s where the whole resourcefulness thing comes into play, you know?  When you’re out there on the set making films, you need to make your own answers.  That’s part of being resourceful and professional and so on.  That’s the other thing – there’s been a couple of comments over the years that “this is just a group of friends that got together and made a film.”  But, all of my films have been done totally professionally.  Everyone, cast and crew, on all of my films has been paid.  There’s no deferred payments.  I’m not asking people to do things for free.  I try to maintain all those very professional standards from a production point of view so that it’s not just a group of friends working in the backyard kind of thing.  Everyone’s been paid.

JH:  Fateful Findings is starting to get the rumblings of “cult film” or “outsider cinema.”  How do you feel about those terms?  Are they appropriate?  Did you set out to make it that way?

NB:  Well, I just set out to make the best film I could, within the context, and this is very important, of what I had to work with.  In other words, I would have loved to have done a lot of other things, but I knew what my budget was.  I knew what my geographic restrictions were.  And, that’s part of being an independent filmmaker.  I wrote the script within the context of the budget I had.  That’s part of my producer hat.

I didn’t intend to make a cult classic, though.  Obviously, the other films, Double Down and I Am Here Now, achieved a cult classic status, but certainly not as much as Fateful Findings has.  But, I’m not surprised by it.   I finished the film and knew that it needed to get some exposure in the festival circuit to attract distributors, which is the normal routine.  So that’s what I spent 2/3 of 2013 doing.  The film was in the festival circuit and through social media, it garnered a lot of attention.  Through that attention and the festivals only, that’s how I got distributors approaching and I begun negotiating.  It just came out in theaters for the first time this year.  So, social media, from an independent point of view, is free, great, instantaneous, real time…  I can send out a tweet about a screening tonight, for example, and get a lot responses back immediately.

JH:  Exactly.  And, I think it also gives the fans more of a personal touch to the film.  You seem pretty accessible.

NB:  Oh yeah.  Fans are what it’s all about.  I love hearing that people are enjoying the film, going to the film, telling their friends…  I’m just a regular guy.  I’m happy to talk to anybody.  If somebody sends me an email, I’ll answer it.  There’s no pretense involved here, you know, from my point of view.

JH:  Lastly, you mentioned that Fateful Findings began showing in theaters in January.  Can you let our readers know the best way to find out about screenings and how to see your previous films?

NB:  As far as the previous films go, I think it’s common knowledge now and I’ve told a number of people, that I’ve taken I Am Here Now and Double Down off the market.  There may be some copies out there that people bought two or three years ago or whatever.  But, I’ve closed those sales websites.  The reason I have is because I want to focus on Fateful Findings.  It’s such a better movie than the two prior ones that I don’t want people to get confused.  Those other two movies haven’t been for sale for a couple years.  Fateful Findings is not available on DVD or blu ray yet, and won’t be until the current theatrical run is done.  One website – www.fatefulfindings.biz – is the homepage for the film.  On that homepage, it shows how they can contact me directly through Twitter, Facebook, or email.  There’s also a link that they can use to contact the film’s U.S. and Canada distributors.  Now, on Facebook, I’ve got my own page and they are more than welcome to send me a friend request there – they just look for “Neil Breen.”  Fateful Findings also has its own Facebook page.  That page shows where the screenings will be.  It generally shows the next two weeks of screenings.    That’s the best location.

There you have it.  Neil was incredibly gracious and the film could not possibly be more entertaining.  I highly recommend that you check out the website and attend a screening immediately.  In fact, if you happen to be in the Houston, TX or surrounding areas on Saturday, March 26th, 2014, Alamo Drafthouse Mason Park will be screening the film, followed by a live Skype Q & A with Neil Breen himself, moderated by YOURS TRULY.  So, come join me and help me ask all of the questions that I didn’t get around to.  For tickets, visit: http://drafthouse.com/movies/fateful-findings/houston Heck, buy TWO tickets and bring Tracy!  I’ll be hosting all evening, so you can feel free to approach with any questions that you’ve been dying to ask me as well (like, where did you get those shoes, how do you know so much about Tracy, or what the hell is Prussia?)

Interview by Lead Writer & Film Critic, Jason Howard,

TCM Classic Film Festival 2014 – Part 2

Some classic celebrities shine at TCM in April.

While at the Turner Classic Movies film festival, I had some opportunities to see a variety of celebrities interviewed.  I also had the chance to briefly talk with a few of them—though with over a bazillion people on hand for the festival, getting one-on-one time with the stars was practically impossible. However, as there were so many interviews and celebrities, I could only see a fraction of the wonderful special guests present for the festivities.

The toughest of these stars to see was Maureen O’Hara.  Not surprisingly, the el Capitan Theater was filled with her adoring fans for the screening of How Green Was My Valley—the Best Picture winner for 1941. Lines reached around the corner and I felt darn lucky to sit up front for this nice interview.  Miss O’Hara is 93 years-old and time has certainly not diminished her appeal.  In addition to the interview before the picture, Robert Osborne also filmed a short interview with her on the final day of the festival and it should be airing on TCM in the very near future as well as on their YouTube page.

Following How Green Was My Valley, Jerry Lewis was on hand at the el Capitan for a screening of The Nutty Professor.  While the theater was not as full, his fans were the loudest and most boisterous I heard.  Much of this is because at 88 years-old, Lewis sounded and looked significantly younger.  His amazing memory, love of laughter, the sheer length of the interview as well as his ability to tell a great story made this truly one of the best appearances at the festival.  Additionally, earlier that day, Lewis had his handprints immortalized at a Grauman’s Chinese Theater ceremony—and huge crowds of fans were also on hand for that.

Margaret O’Brien was a bit tough to recognize, since most everyone remembers her as the adorable and precocious child actress.  Now at 77, she introduced not only Meet Me in St. Louis but also a hastily arranged tribute to Mickey Rooney with a showing of National Velvet.  Much of her talk at Meet Me in St. Louis was about her love for Judy Garland and recollections of what it was like to work with this great star.

Quincy Jones was interviewed by Robert Osborne as well as introduced the wonderful car caper The Italian Job (1969).  While known for his work in the music industry, Jones has created many wonderful soundtracks for such films as The Pawnbroker, In the Heat of the Night, In Cold Blood as well as The Italian Job.  Jones spent much of the introduction talking about his career as well as talking glowingly of his love and admiration for his now-famous daughter, Rashida.


While Carl Davis is a name and face most won’t recognize, he was a special treat for me.  In addition to creating film scores for a variety of recent films, he’s quite famous for his work creating scores for silent films such as Abel Gance’s Napoleon (which, in its current abbreviated form runs well over five hours), the Kevin Brownlow and David Gill documentaries about the silent comedians as well as the Harold Lloyd film Why Worry?—which was screen at the festival.  In addition to being a wonderful man to listen to during the interview, he conducted an 18-piece orchestra when Why Worry? was screened later that same day.

Richard Sherman was interviewed following the screening of Mary Poppins and the crowd was thrilled—especially when he talked about his experiences with P.L. Travers.  He confirmed most of what was in the recent film, Saving Mr. Banks and had several amusing tales about Travers’ difficult temperament and the problems he and his brother had working with her to get the film made.

Finally, in addition to being the headline guest who introduced the film Oklahoma at the red carpet gala, Shirley Jones was on hand to autograph her new autobiography.  Her husband, Marty Ingels, was also on hand—mostly to get the crowd laughing and lend his support.

While many other celebrities were on hand, there was only one of me.  So, wonderful guests like Alan Arkin, Richard Dreyfus, Alex Trabek, Mel Brooks and many others were there—mostly when other great guests were also there being interviewed.  Picking which films and folks to see was often rather painful and it’s one of the few times I wished cloning was an option!

To view my photos from the festival CLICK HERE

Article by Lead Entertainment Writer and Film Critic, Martin Hafer

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The Latest from Jason Howard

NBreen
An Interview with Director Neil Breen

Ever on the hunt for the next great “cult classic,” I recently stumbled upon Fateful Findings (thanks Alan Cerny and More→

Skin
Under The Skin

By the end of this review, I vow to no longer have to look up the spelling of Scarlet Johansson's name... This adaptation More→

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Death Do Us Part

Entertaining horror effort. Most folk will know Nicholas Humphries from the many short films he's made over the past Continue→

Enemy
Enemy

A thought-provoking Lynchian thriller. From the director of Prisoners, Denis Villeneuve's latest offering, Enemy, is Continue→

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Trans
Transcendence

"The film's benefits are there, despite being stunted and often overshadowed by the film's various issues with clarity and More→

Heavn
Heaven Is for Real

"By the end of the entire event, I was so moved I wanted to vomit." Between Son of God, God's Not Dead, and now Heaven is More→

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Favor

Considering its pedigree, this is an awfully good film Favor is a rather low-budget film by filmmakers with rather More→

Gimme
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Bates S2
Bates Motel: Season 2, Ep 08

Meltdown Last week saw Norman's sanity deteriorate considerably, with our hero barely hanging on Read More→

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Game of Thrones: Season 4, Episode 03

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Eenie Meenie Miney Moe (I)

Eenie Meenie Miney Moe may have a micro budget, but it possesses a swagger and authenticity that elevates it to a level of Continue→

Arch5
Archer – Season 5

In film, there are several ways in which you can lead an audience from one scene to the next. There’s the standard Continue→

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Check it out!
Martin’s 100 Most Overrated Films, Part 2
Martin’s 100 Most Overrated Films, Part 2

Great reviews, interviews, articles and more!

Check out this week’s feature from Influx Magazine!

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In the Spotlight:

In the Spotlight:
I, Frankenstein – The Interviews, #4, Aaron Eckhart
I, Frankenstein – The Interviews, #4, Aaron Eckhart

Check out these interviews in our 4-part I, FRANKENSTEIN.

We start off with Yvonne Strahovski and end with Aaron Eckhart.

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Crowd Funding:

Crowd Funding:

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Influx Magazine Presents:
Sons of Anarchy — The Hamlet Conclusion
Sons of Anarchy — The Hamlet Conclusion

Check out this featured article from Influx Magazine.

We bring you great articles, exclusive interviews and the latest reviews.

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Influx Exclusive Interview:

Influx Exclusive Interview:
An Interview with Uwe Boll
An Interview with Uwe Boll

INFLUX Interviews offer unique insight into the world of actors, directors, producers, musicians and many others in the various worlds of entertainment.

Check out our latest interviews and enjoy!

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INFLUX Interviews

NBreen
An Interview with Director Neil Breen

Ever on the hunt for the next great “cult classic,” I recently stumbled upon Fateful Findings (thanks Alan Cerny and More→

Adam
An Interview with Director Adam Stephen Kelly

An Interview with Adam Stephen Kelly For years, Adam Stephen Kelly has worked as a movie reviewer for a variety of More→

DavidP
An Interview with Director David Palamaro

I recently spoke with Dave Palamaro, the director of In Heaven There Is No Beer, a music documentary that chronicles the More→

Stan
An Interview with Director Stan Brooks

Stan Brooks is a well-known producer and has been a filmmaker for almost 35-years, and having won an Emmy in 2007 for his More→

HH
An Interview with Actor Harry Hamlin

Jason Howard talks to actor Harry Hamlin... Just before this past year's Emmy Awards, I had a chance to chat with More→

Giorgio
An Interview with Director Giorgio Serafini

Director Giorgio Serafini is a filmmaker who's been in the business since 1986, and known for making entertaining action More→

Everybody Loves a List!

Lemmon
Rotten Films 101- Part 2

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100most
Martin’s 100 Most Overrated Films, Part 2

Here is a selection of films some folk consider classics, however, prolific Film Critic, Martin Hafer, would disagree and More→

Jeunet
Do you know Jeunet?

Do you know Jeunet? I was recently asked by the Editor if I would like to review the latest Jean-Pierre Jeunet More→

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An Interview with Director David Palamaro

I recently spoke with Dave Palamaro, the director of In Heaven There Is No Beer, a music documentary that chronicles the Continue→

Beer
In Heaven There Is No Beer

"Fan interviews are an integral part of the film, and without descriptions attached to each person interviewed, it would at Continue→

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