Sunday Matinee: After Love [Film]

 

“From the director of Our Children, comes the stark story of Boris (Cédric Kahn) and Marie (Bérénice Bejo), a couple who have decided to separate after 15 years together. They have two girls that they adore. However, cash-strapped Boris is still living in the family home. When all is said and done, neither of the two is willing to give up.Now this apartment is a war zone and their situation a nightmare. Joachim Lafosse captures with great magnitude, the painfully intimate, harrowingly fascinating drama about the emotional and financial complexities of a separation and the complexity of the end of a long love story.” – Rotten Tomatoes

 

I feel the need to kick this thing off by stating first and foremost, this is the best film I have watched this year. It is just about everything I am looking for a in a film, with every bit of ground covered to make it an absolutely beautiful cinematic experience. It is a story that idealistacly  simple, yet emotionally complex. It is a tale as old as time, but with a bit of a twist. It is the battle between realistic possibilities and sometimes irrational power of the ego. It is Freudian at its most dramatic points, but absolutely sweet and loving during its more whimsical periods. It has just about everything you will need if you are a fan of cinema that goes truly deep.

One of the greatest elements of After Love is definitely the level of depth that director Jorchim Lafosse and cinematographer Jean-Francois-Hengens go to throw together a visual representation of just how damned awkward this situation could be! Imagine yourself in this scenarios, and then try to imagine how you would attempt to physically interact with the children you adore, and the person you are currently falling out of love with. I can say with reasonable certainty, the quick pace cuts and clever pans of the camera in a film like this would be closely comparable to the human eye in this dire situation.

And lest we not forget, the cast of After Love is absolutely phenomenal. I have a rule that I live by when watching a film: If I can visualize somebody else taking on the exact same role of the film, then the actor was not right for the role. They have to OWN it. And I am here to say, that the film’s top 3 billed characters definitely OWNED their roles, and I would struggle to envision anybody else taking on these roles. Cédric Kahn plays the role of the vulnerable powerhouse of a man absolutely perfect, while Bérénice Bejo will bring you in and out of realistic conceptualization as you watch her struggle with her feelings towards a man who she may despise, but has to remain strong and save face for the sake of her children, and all the while confusing herself even more by possibly re-establishing a connection with said man that she despises. The complexity of her character is very deep, and she pulls it off poignantly! And then there is Marthe Kelly who, let’s be honest, simply did what we all expected her to do. Kelly is an actress who has proven for decades that she is one of the finest actresses of this or any time. She was MADE to take on this role. She is a woman who loves her daughter so much, and wants to be emotionally available. But, she can not stand to see her daughter suffer so much, and sees the answer directly in front of her, but can’t get the child she loves to pull the proverbial trigger on the entire situation.

Overall, After Love is just one of those damn fine movies we just don’t see enough of anymore. It is shot beautifully, and features some of the finest acting you will ever witness. There is no glitz and glamour and not a single car explosion. It is just a truly gritty and heart-felt story that can be both relatable and disturbing. It is a masterpiece of modern cinema, and needs to be taken in by all!

 

After Love had it’s New York premiere earlier this month, and California viewers will have their chance this coming Friday, September 1st at Loemmle’s Royal Theatre, as well as the 4 Star Cinema in San Francisco on August 25th, with further U.S. dates to follow.

Asmeret Ghebremichael [Interview]


In recent months, we have spoken about a comedy special that has truly stuck with me since it was released a couple of years ago. That special would be Trevor Moore’s brilliant High In Church. We spoke with one of stars of one of his videos, the great Debra Eckoff, and of course we are no stranger to the occasional Whitest Kids U Know troupe appearance. But today we have someone very special to showcase. Today we are talking with a performer from said special, as well as a prominent figure in the world of Broadway, appearing in one of the biggest shows of the century, The Book of Mormon, and so much more. Her name is Asmeret Ghebremichael, and she is absolutely wonderful!

There is something about a performer who can be singing about subjects like circumcision and political mayhem in a comedic fashion and still make you stop in awe and think “Damn, she can SING!”. And that is exactly what happened to me the first time I caught Asmeret perform. She has a classic set of pipes that is absolutely riveting, and brought so much to High In Church. So as I usually do, I looked her up. And that is when I discovered that she is not just a beautiful woman with an amazing voice, she is a freaking STAR! Throw actress in the mix, and you have an all around amazing performer who is one of the best in the business. If I weren’t ashamed to not have been able to catch The Book of Mormon yet, I definitely was after learning that the show featured Asmeret’s amazing abilities!

We are honored that Asmeret was willing to share a few words with us here at Trainwreck’d Society today! Please count yourself lucky that she was willing to do so, and please enjoy some great words from one of today’s greatest performers, Asmeret Ghebremichael!

When did you first realize you wanted to become an entertainer? Was there a moment you can point to that really kicked things off?

I don’t remember the exact moment I realized that I wanted to be an entertainer, but I was definitely interested in the business from a young age. I can remember singing as a toddler, and I loved doing impressions and making up skits.

You have become a major fixture on the Broadway world appearing a plethora of the biggest shows they have to offer. So, what keeps you in this world? What keeps you driven to perform in the theatre? 

At this point, I don’t know what else I’d do! In all seriousness, I think anyone who works in theatre does it because they love it. Doing eight shows a week is incredibly demanding, but there is a certain high you get from performing in front of a live audience. Live theatre is about the energy exchange between those on stage and those in the audience. There’s nothing else like it.

How has it been working on The Book of Mormon? Is touring with the show as fun off the stage as it appears to be on stage?

Being a part of The Book of Mormon has changed my life. I first started working on the show in its developmental phase in 2009. Watching Matt and Trey work so quickly and brilliantly as well as being a part of the evolution of the show from a few pages in a script to a full blown musical is something I will never forget. Ive done the show on Broadway and in London, and because you need fun, funny people on stage you can imagine that off stage it’s even more fun.

Was it a surprise to you that the play really managed to take off and become a massive hit?

I was definitely not surprised that the show would be a hit, but I think we were all initially just nervous about how all audiences would receive it. The language and the content are pretty intense, but at the end of the Day, Mormon is a well crafted musical with a lot of heart and humor.

You were a part of one of my favorite comedy specials of all time, Trevor Moore’s High In Church, which her phenomenal in. What was it like being a part of this special?

I loved being a part of High in Church! Trevor is so funny, and we had the best time.


Were there a lot of pauses for laughter during rehearsals of High In Church?

There wasn’t much pausing for laughter. I think we had all been given the material ahead of time so that we could at least be somewhat prepared. The videos were hilarious though.

What would you consider your favorite number from that special? 

My favorite number from the special was the first song [“God Hates the Tips of Little Babies’ Dicks”]. It was the first song I heard, and I had the amazing chance to do vocals on the track for the album. I loved singing along with myself on TV!

What have you been up to lately? Where can our readers catch you next?

I’m currently playing Lorrell Robinson in the West End production of Dreamgirls. Come see me at the Savoy Theatre in London!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

The last thing that made me smile was a picture of my friend’s newborn baby!

Check out this clip from Trevor Moore’s special High In Church featuring Asmeret on the song “Time For Guillotines”:

Michael Addis [Interview]

For those of you who dropped by for this week’s Sunday Matinee (better be all of you!), you may remember that I went on a bit of a tangent about hecklers and critics when I talked about the film Heckler. Somewhere in that bitter rant, I mentioned that we “may” have some words with a key figure from the film. Well, I would not want to disappoint my dear reader(s), so today we have some great words with Heckler creator Michael Addis! Michael is the man who give this project life, as well as so many other fine projects that we shall discuss. Including one of the most underrated comedies ever entitled Poor White Trash. I seriously can not recommend this film enough, and if you don’t get it….I just don’t get you!

Michael Addis is a man who knows funny. He has worked behind the camera on projects for some of the finest comedians in the game and is just an overall delightful human being. He was there in the beginning of what would become one of today’s hottest comedy groups, Impractical Jokers. He has worked on some reality television that is actually watchable and brilliant, which as we have discussed in the past, is few and far between! He has an eye for brilliance that can not be matched, and we look forward to calling him a TWS alum and telling you about what he is up to in the future. A future that appears to be just as bright as his past. So ladies and gentlemen, the great Michael Addis!

How did you find yourself in the world of film and television? Was it always a dream of yours as a youth? Or did you just sort of fall into it?

I was one of those fortunate people who always knew what I wanted to do.  I explored a lot of interests when I was a kid, and all of them seemed to point directly to what I’m doing today.  Journalism, photography, writing, acting, etc.  I use all.   And I think young people today should try a lot of different things that excite them… I really feel that their passions and skills will eventually lead them to the right spot.

Your 2007 documentary Heckler, which you directed and co-produced with comedian and actor Jamie Kennedy, is a brilliant and insightful film. One of the reasons it was so great was the amazing interviews with the folks gave you. Are there any stories or conversations that had to be removed from the final product for one reason or another that you could tell us about?

Yes, a very famous actor, who is a conservative, asked to be taken out of the film because Jamie and I chose to have a lot of F-bombs in the movie (which was really essential to the message – the whole world of heckling/criticism had to feel abrasive for it the cathartic dance at the end to have it’s impact).  I didn’t have to release the famous actor, because he signed a contract, but we agreed it would be rude to force him to stay in a film he didn’t believe in.  I lost a lot of respect for him that day, I have to admit.  Because I don’t think the word “fuck” is something we should fear.  My children know it, and I tell them they are free to use it in my home (they don’t though – I can’t drive the inherent politeness out of those two little shits ;)).  I think the idea that God frowns upon the word “fuck” is just nonsense.  Why would he care?   Also… I had real problems editing the Carrot Top interview down because it was so good in it’s longer state.  The conundrum is ridiculous if you think about it, but I cut the interview down to 25 mins and literally had to bring in another editor to cut it further – I couldn’t cut anything out.  I fell in love with the 25 minute version.  It’s insane… you can’t stop a 75 min movie to have a 25 minute interview with… Carrot Top, but it was so amazing, and Jamie was just perfect in asking him questions and reading terrible reviews to Scott (Carrot Top’s real name is, of course, not Carrot Top).   We cut it way down, but for a moment, I thought it was this perfect chunk of content that would have taught you so much about the human condition vis a vis criticism.  I’m dead serious.


And as far as the final product of the film is concerned, what story hit you the hardest, either through pain or laughter, or both? 

Good question… I really am very proud of the movie as a whole.  Hard to pick one “story.”  Maybe the interview with David Cross because he was so honest.  Before every interview, I asked the subject to be very honest – and not try to be funny, or do shtick.  I felt it would help us make the movie actually funnier – in a good way.  And that’s what happened.  Almost all complied with my request, but David particularly took that to heart and just laid out exactly how he felt during a particularly low time in his life.  He said he wanted to quit comedy.  And, very easily, we could have lost David Cross as an artist. He could have stopped and done some other job, selling energy drinks or something.  Thankfully, he continued.  But the world can be hard on a person who chooses to be an artist.  Anyone reading these words right now, if they are working in the arts, probably has considered quitting, has quit or is about to quit.  But the whole endeavor is built for attrition.  You have to make your own choice… but I’m glad I got to show David Cross discussing his struggle.  It’s enlightening.

I enjoyed the 2000 film Poor White Trash that you wrote and directed quite immensely. It’s still a go to comedy for me. Looking back almost two decades later, what are your thoughts on the film? Was it as fun to make the film as it is to watch it?

I think it sucks.  Actually, I’m very proud of it, especially the work of the whole team broiling our rumps down in Southern Illinois one summer many years ago.  But I really can’t watch a frame of it. There are so many ways I could have directed it better – entirely my fault. It’s painful.  But at the same time, I think that it’s a lot of fun – as a low budget comedy.  Making a successful “white trash” comedy is just not easy to do.  There are a lot of land mines inherent in the endeavor.  People feel like you are “making fun of” the characters – or lower income people.  That wasn’t my intent at all.  I really just wanted to show how some really doomed criminal endeavors get momentum behind them.  There was a recent Zach Galifinakis comedy called Masterminds that was also dealing with rednecks and a true crime story.  It didn’t do well financially and now has a 33% on Rotten Tomatoes (much lower than our 56%).  Despite all the amazing talent behind it, it also suffered from this mysterious curse of making a “white trash” comedy.  They generally become “wacky” and can’t climb out of that hole, no matter how earnest you are about the subject matter.

 

In your extremely impressive career, you have done so many different jobs, from writing to producing to editing and more. With all of your experience, what would you consider to be your favorite gig of all? 

Thanks Ron.  Can I answer this way… the top 5 should be 1) directing/producing Heckler 2) writing/directing Poor White Trash 3) directing on the Lewis Black show for Comedy Central 4) writing/directing on David Spade’s Showbiz Show on Comedy Central, and 5) show running Impractical Jokers and 6) a number of reality TV projects I’ve worked on with my friend Peter Cohen, who is a very undervalued comedic producer.  When we collaborate, it’s subversive and hilarious. I always enjoy that.  Also, I’ve written 19 feature screenplays and some that sit on the shelf are just really, really solid.  But they sit there for no reason other than I haven’t pushed them out into the world with the necessary power. I’m hoping to put my new project at the top of that list… but we shall see.

So what do you have coming up that you would like our readers to know about?

I’m shooting a pilot at Comic-Con in San Diego mid July for Rotten Tomatoes.  If any of your readers happen to be going to Comic-Con, I’d like to invite them to be in the audience and take part!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I’ve been studying some YouTube movie review sites that are really good.  So many people doing good work out there – criticism can absolutely be an art!  And there are some funny mother fuckers on YouTube doing stuff that makes me smile.

Mary Holland [Interview]

Today’s interviewee is one of those individuals who will simply make you smile just by existing. Mary Holland is an actress who seems to pop up on everything brilliant these days. She is a hilarious human being who also happens to consistently align herself with other hilarious people. Including our friend and past interviewee Stephanie Allynne! And while the Upright Citizen Brigade has always been a legendary force in the world of comedy, there certainly seems to be some sort of renaissance happening with the aid of people like Stephanie and Mary and several other brilliant folks coming out of these theatres. Comedic, whit, charm, and professional mannerisms are becoming aplenty thanks to people like Mary, and I could not be happier!

Editor’s Note: Within the interview, we discuss the SeeSo Original Series Shrink, which remains brilliant. Unfortunately, this interview was conducted months prior to the news that SeeSo was shutting down. Not to steal Mary’s shine, but we just wanted to say thank you to SeeSo for the wonderful run you had. You gave  the viewers a way to watch brilliant comedic minds like Mary Holland on an all new level. RIP SeeSo!

I have to admit, it is always hard to write these introductions for the brilliant comedians we have featured on this site. I am not a comedian, and I feel like that shows. I do not have the wit and comedic wisdom that these fine individuals have, so what am I supposed to do? Should I try and throw in some ridiculous adjectives and even more ridiculous puns? No, I would rather leave that to the brilliant minds we love to showcase. So with that, I am going to simply shut the hell up, and let you all enjoy some amazing words from the great Mary Holland!

 

What drove you into the world of comedic acting, be it improv, sketch, etc.? Basically, when did you first realize that you were a hilarious human being with a gift to share with the world?

I was a class clown when I was a kid. I loved the attention I got from making people laugh. It became a part of my identity and how I made friends. I also knew I wanted to be an actor, but I wasn’t thinking of exclusively doing comedy – I wanted to do everything. After I graduated from NIU with a BFA in Acting, I moved to Los Angeles and began taking classes at UCB. The friends I met there and the shows I saw really inspired me. It felt right, it felt like home to be there, so I jumped in and began doing improv full time. I can’t imagine my life without it!

Hey! That’s Mary with our new pal Stephanie Allynne w/ Wild Horses!


What made you decide to join the world of the acclaimed UCB, and how did it happen to work out for you? Was it always a goal of yours?

When I first moved to LA, I was pretty lost. I didn’t know many people, and the built in community that I was a part of when I was in school was no longer there. I needed to find or build my own community, and I had no idea how to do it. Creatively, the occasional acting class and audition was helpful, but I was feeling stuck and sad. I happened to live in a building very close to the UCB theatre on Franklin avenue in Hollywood. I saw shows and loved them, so I signed up for classes. I fell in love with improv and devoted most of my free time to practice groups, classes, and seeing shows. I came up with a great group of improvisers, so watching them and playing with them I think was a big part of how I started to improve as a player. I was around a lot, and got up to play whenever I could. Over time, I became a part of the community and started performing regularly at the theatre. It became a huge part of my life. I truly don’t know where I would be without improv or UCB. Being able to perform there was a goal when I saw my first show, but I never imagined it would happen. I’m so grateful it worked out the way it did.

Can you tell us a bit about your work on the SeeSo original series Shrink. I will admit, I am not to aware of much of SeeSo’s programming, and I am quite ashamed of it. It all seems so perfect and geared toward lovers of comedy. So can you tell us a bit about this show?

Shrink is the brainchild of Tim Baltz and Ted Tremper, both from the Chicago improv scene. Tim is a brilliant improviser, and Shrink really showcases that. It’s about a doctor who graduates from medical school, but doesn’t get in to any of the residencies he applies for. Severely in debt and at a loss for what to do with his degree, he decides to pursue becoming a therapist. He moves in with his parents and stepbrother to save money, and begins having therapy sessions in the garage with patients from Craigslist seeking free therapy. I play one of his patients. The cast is populated with fantastic improvisers from Chicago and Los Angeles, and each session is heavily improvised. Tim is incredible as Dr. David Tracey – the show has such heart and is so funny and real and dark at times. I’m very proud to be a part of it.


I am however very familiar with your work on the amazing series Blunt Talk, that is absolutely hilarious and impressive. How has your experience been on a show like this? On screen it appears as though Patrick Stewart has adapted quite well to the comedic word, does it feel like that off screen to you?

I’m so glad you liked the show! Patrick is one of the most delightful and generous actors I’ve ever met. He’s so charming and funny and understands comedy in such a unique way. I learned a lot from watching him work. Walter Blunt is a deeply flawed person, but he has such good intentions. Patrick brought a lovely vulnerability to the character that really made the comedy work. I think that is a key component in making something funny – bringing vulnerability to your performance will make your reactions come from a grounded and honest emotional place. Then the comedy works better because it feels earned and real. The cast and crew of Blunt Talk are so dear to me. We were very close during the making of the show (and afterwards as well). I absolutely loved my experience on set and off set. That show will always have a special place in my heart.

You have also recently joined the cast of the amazing and critically acclaimed to no end, Veep with an amazing set of appearances. What is this show like? Does it differ from any of the other shows you have worked on that had great writing and directing? What do you believe has sparked such acclaim since its inception?

Working on VEEP has been such a dream. The actors are incredible, and 6 seasons in, the whole operation is a well oiled machine. As an audience member, I was blown away by the caliber of writing and acting on the show. Getting to be in the room with those people was an education in comedy. The showrunner, David Mandel, the producers, the directors, Julia, the writers, and the whole cast worked tirelessly to make each moment and joke the funniest it could be. There was never a sense of “ok that joke’s not working but whatever, let’s move on”. They would figure it out, no matter how long it took, so that the scene worked and was the best and funniest it could be. It was so inspiring to watch and be a part of. I think that’s also why it’s garnered such critical acclaim – the entire group is so excited to be there, and they all support each other in making it the best and most hilarious show out there.


If you were given the chance to write the most hilarious script about a fictional serial killer, what would this story entail? And would you want to play the lead, or who else would you want to write it for?

Oh wow! It would be a challenge to make a comedy about a serial killer.. maybe a period piece about a woman in the French court who poisons people for fun? Then it turns out the poison is only temporary so everyone comes back to life and she’s constantly frustrated that her poisons aren’t working. I would insist on playing the lead.

What is next for you? What would you like to plug to our dear readers?

Keep tuning into VEEP! And check out Shrink on Seeso. I perform regularly at UCB in LA, so check out the calendar if you ever want to see a show.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

A picture of a friend that I took last night. I looked at it this morning and smiled.

Sunday Matinee: Heckler [Film]

 

***Please be advised, this “review” of a truly great film, will very quickly turn into the ramblings of a bitter old blogger, and turns into a very long rant. Heckler is in there quite a bit, but be sure that if you scroll past it all, get to the links at the bottom to be able to support Heckler!***

There are several reasons I chose to showcase this Jamie Kennedy-produced documentary for you fine readers on this lovely Sunday. First of all, it’s a damn fine and informative flick. Secondly, a key player in the making of the film may be making a reappearance later this week! And finally, while I hope most of our readers are not the heckling type, as I truly believe you are all just wonderful people, who know how to sit down and shut the fuck up at a comedy show. Except for the laughing. Definitely do the laughing. But, besides that, seriously…keep your damn mouth shut!

We have been showcasing a lot of folks from the world of stand-up comedy lately (ironically, NONE of them appeared in this film!) and have come to notice that the problem with hecklers and critics in this part of entertainment is a persistent problem that doesn’t seem likely to be stopping any time soon. Just further proof that the human race is filled with too many terrible mouth breathing shitheads. That’s right, I’m critiquing..but, not critiquing art. Critiquing a society that never seems to learn. And that is also what the 2007 Michael Addis directed documentary Heckler has managed to convey ever so brilliantly! But here’s the thing..this film was released 10 years ago! Does anyone else remember 2007? The era of Myspace, around the dawn of Facebook, and before we could have fathomed series news being given to us, by our nation’s Commander in Chief for that matter, in the form of something called a “tweet”. In 2007, if somebody told you that they just “tweeted”, you’d probably lead this to a sexual reference of some sort of bout with mental illness. But alas, it is a commonality of today we all practice. So what the hell does this have to do with Heckler? Well it should be obvious, that this is a brilliantly made documentary that discusses the ideas of heckling and biased critical analysis, but occurs in a Pre-Tweet Society.

And I’ll tell you folks, it really looked frustrating in 2007, I couldn’t imagine what a redux of a showcase of these ridiculous problems would look like if made today. Granted, the idea of some drunk asshole standing up at a comedy club and yelling nonsense is a trait as old as time, and will not be fading away any time soon. But, to see Heckler in a time when tweeting and blogging have become actual legitimate things somehow, I’d probably finish off the whole thing in tears. And I’m a blogger!

But despite the amount of change that has occurred in the last decade, Heckler is still a damn fine and relevant documentary that encompasses the spirit of what it is like to be involved in stand up comedy (and other professions), and have to deal with so much ignorance and downright stupidity from people whom which they simply want to entertain. In essence, the film really seems to want to find out what exactly it is that makes people feel compelled to act like such savage creatures either in the audience of a comedy show, or even behind the guise of a publication in which they are being paid real money to shit all over someone else’s art. And while I feel the film does some wonderful analysis to try and help explain what goes through a heckler’s mind, I feel like the film’s strongest point that it is able to convey is a simple one…people fucking suck. Some of them anyway. Most of them. Damn near all. But, I am rambling.

While I came into watching Heckler mainly to learn about the stand up comedy element of it all specifically, I actually found myself most intrigued by the discussion of asinine critics who make a living shitting on everything. I am most fascinated because by all technicalities, some might call these scum-sucking pieces of shit, my “peers”. And I will be god damned if I allow that to happen. I have been “reviewing” and “critiquing” music, film, art, etc. for the last 10 years.  And I am proud to say that I have not done one single negative review, or made discouraging comments about a single interview subject. Why? Are you asking me why? Well first of all, that is a stupid question. It should really be reversed! Why WOULD you want to be negative? Just as Arsenio Hall, Roseanne, and many others point out.just because you don’t enjoy something, doesn’t mean it is necessarily bad. It’s just not for you. “You’re not going to impress everyone”, said the often despised (for strange reasons, I never understood) Carrot Top. And they are all right!

And does the fact that I have never written a negative review mean that I have not received some great piles of digital shit through my inboxes? No. I have sat through hours of god awful Brooklynite EMD nonsense that someone wanted to call music. I’ve watched hours of just insanely bad acted, poorly written, and infuriating cinema..that somebody wanted me to talk about. I’ve been offered and refused interview opportunities, some with very “high profiles” that could probably help boost the site views a bit, because it was with people I am absolutely no interest in and/or couldn’t think of a single nice thing to say about them. So why have I never said a word about them in any sort of publication? Because it obviously just wasn’t meant for ME! I didn’t like, but again, that’s just me. Who the fuck am I to shit on someone else’s dream when they are simply attempting to create. If they are not presenting something entirely negative and obscenely racist, homophobic, sexists, etc. and the only they thing it is offended is my eyes and ears with its shitty taste..why the fuck should I even open my mouth to say anything about it at all.

Alright, that is going to end my rant on the subject matter. Seriously folks, the simple idea that a film can bring this sort of emotion out of me should act as a good sign that it has done its job. If you have the ability to watch this film, and still continue to be able to attend any sort of live event are not able to simply keep your god damn mouth shut, then you have something physically and mentally wrong with you, and just simply stay in your home and prevent the world from being infected by whatever is wrong with you.

That’s it folks! See Heckler! It’s phenomenal! Visit jamie kennedy.com to check it out!

Check out this trailer for Heckler courtesy of High Fliers Films:

Sean Bridgers [Interview]


We have an absolutely amazing interview for you fine folks today! A couple of years ago, there was an amazing movie that was released and rocked the world with some cringe-worthy material and magnificent performances that deserved some well deserved acclaim. That film was called Room. The wonderful Brie Larsen received a well deserved Oscar nomination, and the whole cast was lauded appropriately. I absolutely adored this film, and considered the best of the year. And what was a major contributing factor? Well, that would be the subject of today’s interview! The great Sean Bridgers, who portrayed Old Nick in the film, portrayed one of the most hated characters in a film since Nurse Ratchet. He was a different kind of evil, one that didn’t completely seem intentionally malefic, just not in the right state of mind for a decent world. You had to hate him, but you could attempt the empathize, usually with no avail though.

And the man who brought this character to screen happens to be one of the greatest character actors of our time. The great Sean Bridgers. So convincing was his Old Nick character, that I totally forgot in the viewing that he was a cast member of one of the greatest television shows in recent history, the illustrious Deadwood. Two very different characters, in two very different worlds. And Sean handled them both beautifully.

With that, we are so excited to have a few words with Sean Bridgers here today. He has a career that is constantly flourishing, including a role on the new Epix Series based on the classic Elmore Leonard novel and Danny Devito flick, Get Shorty! Check out this amazing interview with a damn fine actor, and then go check him out on Get Shorty! So ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Sean Bridgers!

How early in your life did you realize you wanted to join the world of film and television? Was it an early ambition, or did it just pop up as an option?

I didn’t realize that I could be in a film until I was actually in one. I grew up in a small town in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and when I was young, I did not know nor did I know anyone who knew, a professional actor. I wanted to play quarterback for the Chicago Bears or pitch for the Atlanta Braves or both. I read a great deal and I loved movies and TV but I wanted to be Archie Manning not Harrison Ford … know what I mean? Joining the world of film and TV was not on my radar when I was a kid. Although … I wrote, produced, directed and starred in a couple of plays when I was in Elementary school. I got a few friends together and we got the props, costumes, etc. My 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Williams, allowed us to perform our “little show” on a Friday, during the period between last class and waiting for the buses. We just huddled up and I told them their characters and to simply do what I told them to do as I narrated. I had written the “script” on cue cards. We never rehearsed. We just went for it. It was titled “The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln”. I was to play Lincoln and narrate. I had the fake beard and everything. My friends who were Cub Scouts wore their uniforms and brought toy rifles and were Union Soldiers. My John Wilkes Boothe got stage fright and unlike the real JWB, he chickened out. So he played Lincoln, which was stupid because he was very short, and I had to play Boothe. So I shot him in the head, jumped off a table, broke my ankle (not really I was acting) stopped and narrated about Boothe fleeing into Maryland and then I ran to the corner of the room, where I had assembled chairs to make a “barn” which the Cub Scouts set on fire (not really) and I made a run for the classroom door as they shot me down with cap guns. It was a big hit. My next show was “Washington Crosses the Delaware” (I liked history) and I played Washington and we had a big cast because everyone wanted to be in it because “Lincoln” had been so well received. The story was that we would cross the Delaware in an imaginary boat and when we reached the shore we were gonna kill a bunch of drunk Hessians. That was pretty much it. It was going to be a bloodbath. We had sword fights planned. But just before we started, my teacher said that we couldn’t have any cap guns and she didn’t want us “running wild”. Which was the point. So I pulled the plug and I quit doing my own shows until I got to 6th grade when I created a redneck Sheriff character. I did a few skits about him. I’d chew on black licorice and spit it in a cup. It was stuff like … he arrests Santa Claus … because he thinks he’s a burglar because Santa is not real, because the Sheriff never got great gifts as a child, so even if Santa was real he must be a dick (didn’t use that word) and then Santa explained the spirit of Christmas or something. It was kind of a Kapra thing with a Jackie Gleason twist. So as a young kid, I never thought about being an actor but I seemed to be acting nonetheless.

When I was in 10th grade I went to a private school in Tennessee (St Andrews – Sewanee) and there were some older kids there, the kings and queens of the drama department, who were going off to college and were going to be actors. They actually said out loud, “I’m going to study acting and become an actor” and no one laughed at them. Around that time I saw the film Tender Mercies. My friends said there was a Burt Reynolds Western showing that weekend because they’d glanced at the poster as they walked past the movie theater on their way to school, and on the poster was a guy in a cowboy hat with a mustache. In 1983 Tennessee, cowboy hat + mustache = Burt Reynolds. So we went to see it and soon realized it wasn’t a Western, there was no Burt and my friends lasted 10 minutes but I stayed and watched the entire film and was just totally taken in by it. I didn’t know who Robert Duvall was but the story and the performances were so real it reminded me of people I actually knew in my own little hillbilly life. It was close to home and it was the first film that ever felt that way to me. If what Robert Duvall was doing was “acting” then I thought maybe I could do it. I kept that dream to myself but ended up playing Poseidon in the Trojan Women in 11th grade because my girlfriend asked me to and went from rehearsal (play practice, I called it) to baseball practice. My Senior year I was not allowed to play baseball and do the Spring play. So I chose to play the lead in Blythe Spirit and gave up my dream of pitching for the Braves. Even then I was a better actor than ball player. My coach was pissed off and thought there must be a little sugar in my tank … know what I mean? I’d rather act in a play than play baseball? What he didn’t consider is that a lot of girls do plays.

Meeting girls was what led me to do plays in college at Western Carolina University and I started getting great reviews from a critic in Asheville NC, named Tony Kiss. A friend suggested I take those reviews and headshot/resume and meet her agent. And I did. The agent was really a secretary and our “meeting” was when she got away from her desk and met me in the lobby for her smoke break. I didn’t hear from her until months later when she called for an audition for a movie in Charlotte NC. I showed up three hours early because I’d never been to Charlotte and expected to get lost (1991 – pre GPS). I found my way to the audition and got my sides (scenes from the script) and sat down and memorized 10 pages (which is a lot but I didn’t know that at the time). The casting director was Mark Finncannon and he could not have been more kind and encouraging. The audition went well and the Finncannons brought me back for other projects that were coming to the Carolinas and I did three movies that summer and realized at that point that not only could I be an actor but I already was one. Maybe not a very good actor yet but I knew I had talent and I wasn’t afraid to work to get better. I was “all in” at that point and my focus became getting better through experience. That led me to study for an MFA in acting at LSU and I grew as an actor while in Baton Rouge but left a semester shy of graduating because I got a role in a movie.

That was a meandering answer to a simple question.

When was the first time you can remember seeing your name appear on screen? Do you remember what the project was? And how did it feel to see it for the first time?

The first movie I did was a CBS movie of the Week, starring Helen Hunt, called Murder In New Hampshire. They misspelt my last name – left out the R in BridgeRs. It made me feel slightly pissed off. I got over it.

Time has proven that Deadwood will go down as one of the finest television programs that came out in the beginning of this Golden Age of Television. So, what was your experience working on this show? When you look back on your experience on the show, what do you remember fondly? And what impact do you believe the show has left in history?

I’m not able to communicate the experience of working on Deadwood yet. I’m still processing it. What I remember most fondly about the show are the people I had the good fortune to work with. There were some brilliant performers and artists on Deadwood starting at the top with the show creator David Milch. He was fully committed to getting the truth of every character and every scene and as a result everyone brought all they had to offer everyday. Assholes were not allowed. Not for long anyway. What we were doing was too important for us to put up with any bullshit. It was a wonderful place to go to work and I miss those people. It’s impossible to say what the impact Deadwood will leave on television history but I do believe that my great grandkids will get as much out of our 36 episodes as audiences do today. It’s a timeless piece of storytelling. Deadwood will withstand the trends of cultural change. If all three seasons of Deadwood were transcribed into a novel it would be an American Literary classic.

Your role as Old Nick in Room is probably one of the most gruesomely dark roles I have ever seen put to screen. What drew you to this insane role? And how do you prepare for such a dark performance?

What drew me to role of Old Nick was that they gave me the job. Even after 26 years of working as an actor, every job seems like a little miracle. Fortunately for me, Room was a wonderful script, filled with great performers, brilliantly directed and got the attention it deserved.

I have my own process that gets me where I need to be to play a guy like Old Nick. My job was to make him a real human being with hopes and fears, love and hate. So it’s important that I not judge any character I inhabit. The story determines what the character does or does not do … the why of it is for the performer … and is best kept a secret. I will say that I had a wonderful time working with Director Lenny Abrahamson and Brie and Jacob … but I was happy to wrap that movie and shed myself of Old Nick.

photo by George Krachyk courtesy of the Everett Collection.

But, Room was definitely not the first dark performance I enjoyed you in. Jugface was an insanely well done horror film, and I loved your work as Dawai. When working on a project like this, what do you find to be the most important thing an actor can do to bring about just the right amount of crazy in a role?

First of all —  thank you for the compliment. I’m very proud of that movie. It’s a very strange and haunting tale. As far as bringing the “right amount of crazy” to the role of Dawai well … the whole story was kinda crazy, so I had some latitude there. Again it’s a matter of trying to create a character who feels like a real human being. Most of us are motivated by love or an attempt to avoid pain. In the case of Dawai, it was love. He loved a girl who would never feel the way about him that he felt for her. But it didn’t matter to him. His love trumped his need to avoid pain and as a result he almost seems noble at the end. He’s also the fool in Jugface and playing the fool is one of my favorite things to do, on screen and off.

If you were given the chance to portray any American president (on screen, out of an elementary school classroom that is) in history, which one would you like to bring to life?

Well … since my early attempts to play Lincoln and Washington were thwarted …

I would love to play Jimmy Carter. It would be nice to inhabit the spirit of Carter for a few months – that would do anyone good.
After playing someone like Old Nick I think I deserve to play someone like Jimmy Carter. Don’t you agree? Let’s make that happen.

After all of your years in the world of film and television, in front of and behind the screen, what would you say you are most proud of?

I’m proud of the projects you’ve mentioned … but also proud of Rectify and The Woman. I was in Free State of Jones and that’s a story worth telling. I have a film coming out called Carolina Low, which I wrote, produced and star in. We made it in 1997 under the title Paradise Falls, won many awards at film festivals but could never sell it. We’ve done a fresh edit and mix and it will be available soon. I’m very proud of Carolina Low.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

I am starring in Get Shorty which premiers August 13th on EPIX. It stars Chris O’Dowd and Ray Romano and was created by Davey Holmes who wrote for Shameless among others. The folks at MGM who produce Fargo are at the helm of Get Shorty and both shows share tone and quality. You never know what is going to happen next in Get Shorty. Definitely binge worthy television. It was a blast to work on.

Also, my producing partner, Michael “Ffish” Hemschoot and I have released a 6 part web series called Arkansas Traveler. Go to Travelinproductions.com and all 6 webisodes are available. We’re working toward making Arkansas Traveler into a feature or perhaps keep it going as a web series. So please go to the site and check out Arkansas Traveler and if enough people clamor for more we’re hoping someone will give us a little $ to finish the story.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Seeing my youngest wake up around noon, all sleepy faced and happy because it is still summer break.

Hey Folks! Remember, if you download Epix for a free trial you can watch the first 3 episodes of Get Shorty featuring our new friend Sean Bridgers!  You Don’t want to miss this year’s hottest new series!

Check out this trailer for the EPIX Original series Get Shorty, courtesy of Jo Blo TV Show Trailers:

Bianca VanDamme [Interview]

 

Today’s amazing interviewee is a woman who was no doubt destined for stardom, and was born with all the right genes to be a star. Of course, destiny and genes will get you know where if you part of those genes don’t include a stamina and willpower to succeed. A willingness to succeed is by far more important than appropriate placement. And we dare say that the great Bianca VanDamme has definitely proven that she has what it takes to be a major player in the world of film, and has frankly already proven it time and time again.

Bianca has had some brilliant performances in the film penned by our old friend Sean Stone that we all know and love entitled Enter The Fist and the Golden Fleece. And bringing it all back around to the event we have been talking about all weekend, She appeared as the lead in Dominic Burn’s Alien Uprising. The event in question, again, would be the premiere of Shooting Clerks. As if everything weren’t already connected so closely in our world, Mr. Burns is one of the geniuses behind the live action directorial debut of the great Jason Mewe’s Madness in the Method coming soon. See how so many great minds can be interconnected?

Anyway, today is all about the brilliant actress and martial arts expert Bianca VanDamme. She can be also be found in the amazing horror flick known as Paranormal Activity Security Squard (coincidentally again features her previous co-worker, the great Sean Stone), that is absolute must see for all horror & action fans. And Bianca’s career is only destined to flourish in the coming years. She has taken on the role of producer on several feature films and documentaries. And of course you will be able to catch Bianca in the big screen in some very exciting projects in the near future.

So how about I stop rambling, and let you all check out some amazing words from one of today’s finest young talents, the great Bianca VanDamme!

We know that you obviously had some major influences in your life, but I’d like to know what made you personally want to join the world of acting? What did you find most attractive about the field?

Personally acting has never been something I wanted to achieve in my life but growing up in the industry, obviously mindsets change. My main goal is to direct and before stepping into that I was always told it’s smart to know what it’s like in front of the camera before stepping behind it. I’ll tell you something funny, I’ve always wanted to achieve so much in one life time and realized you could only really have one “career” choice, wether it’s a doctor or a mechanic, etc. That always freaked me out and made me realize with acting I could be anything I want so that’s what really made think, “Hey, this isn’t that bad”. I mean what’s better than a grown up playing pretend? I love watching the classics from cary grant and Audrey Hepburn etc. I really get lost and I want people to get lost while watching my films wether its what I’m in or directing.


You had quite the breakout role in Dominic Burn’s film Alien Uprising. How was your experience on this film? Was it a daunting task to take on a role like that?

It was a great experience, my first leading role. I was terribly frightened but at the same time ground breaking for my confidence. Personally, I look back at my performance and know I could’ve done way better but it was a baby step and I learned a lot from it. Because of Alien Uprising, I have more confidence. I know to take my projects more seriously, study harder and focus on my character rather than just spitting out lines. The cast and crew were absolutely amazing to me and are very genuine people, taking that back home with me was what I cherish most.


You also had a pivotal role in another film written by and featuring our old friend Sean Stone, entitled Enter the Fist and the Golden Fleece, that seems very intriguing. How did you become drawn to this film? And how was your experience working on a film like this?

When I first met Sean he had asked me to read it, being open to collaboration and building a new friendship I did. Before shooting ETF we shot another film together called P.A.S.S. which we were both in as well. After shooting that we loved working together so we decided to do ETF. It’s been a pet project of his for some time so I jumped in and said what the heck, let’s have fun and just shoot.

It was an interesting experience, obviously a lot of laughs and great cast and crew. It was a lot of fun to shoot, I just remember laughing…I think that’s why I have slight abs right now!


I’ve noticed that you have begun moving behind the camera as well, working as a producer on a few projects. What made you want to make this transition? And is there a chance we may find you in a director’s chair someday? If so, what type of projects would you like to work on?

You will definitely see me in the directors chair more often! I’ve always loved creating and story telling.

I’ve been told I’m really good with people and making them feel comfortable. I didn’t know what that meant until I helped my friend shoot an audition, we worked on it for hours because I wanted him to have the best performance and he booked it.So directing is definitly in my line of vision, right now I’m writing a few shorts. It’s scary but nothing happens unless you dive in.

I have heard that you are also a fan of poetry, which is always great to here. What sort of poetry to you enjoy writing/reading? Who are some of your favorite poets?

I LOVE poetry, I’ve been writing since I was about 13 years old. Not many people get to read my work, it’s extremely dark and romantic. The few people I did show loved it but also asked if I was ok! I found that funny because for me poetry is therapeutic and helps me escape but sometimes I find it hard to come back to blue skies and sunshine. I love Edgar Allen Poe, Walt Whitman, William Shakespeare, E.. Cummings…as a kid I was obsessed with Shel Silverstein…Oscar Wilde, Charles Bukowski, the list goes on and on and on.

What does the future hold for you? Anything coming in the near future that you would like to tell our readers about?

I’m working on a lot of new and exciting projects that I can’t wait to share with everyone. They’ll just have to keep an eye out!


What was the last thing that made you smile?

Driving on Mount Olympus, listening to Stevie Nicks with my ride or die (Nikita, my pup) by my side.
That dog makes me laugh so much, without her I would not be here.

Check out this awesome video Bianca made to show that she is taking what her father gave to the world, and perfecting it: