Ep. 124 – John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Hail Satan?, and positive discussion of Robert Pattinson as the new Batman

May 20, 2019 by  
Filed under Podcast

This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod review “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” and “Hail Satan?”

They also discuss the rumored casting of Robert Pattinson as the new Batman, and what he would bring to the role.

Click here to download the episode!

Luis Prieto – Kidnap

August 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

After turning some heads in 2012 with his U.K. remake of Nicolas Winding Refn’s 1996 Danish crime thriller “Pusher,” Spanish director Luis Prieto was given his first shot in the American film industry with “Kidnap.” The film stars Oscar winner Halle Berry (“Monster’s Ball”) as Karla Dyson, a desperate mother who will do anything she can to find her kidnapped son.

During an interview with me last week, Prieto, 47, who studied film at the California Institute of the Arts in L.A., talked to me about why “Kidnap” is different from other thrillers centered on missing children, and what he feels he brings to Hollywood as a Spanish filmmaker.

When you came to the U.S. to study film a few years ago, did you have any expectations about where your career would take you? Did you imagine you’d be working with somebody like Oscar winner Halle Berry?

No, I don’t think so. I never thought I would shoot a movie with Halle Berry. I didn’t expect that. I’ve taken an interesting path to get to this point. It’s been a very rewarding experience making this movie.

Talk about the thriller genre. What does it takes to make a good one?

What I find fascinating about making movies is making movies that are going to move people. In addition to this movie being an action thriller, it’s very emotional, too. [The film] is about the relationship between a mother and her child. When [Karla’s] kid is taken, she would do anything to get him back. Usually, action thrillers don’t include normal people. They include people who specialize in whatever – professionals. This [film] is very simple. It’s about the emotions between a mother and her son. She becomes a mama bear. She becomes a hero. She’ll do anything to get her son back. Everyone can relate to that.

Talk a little more about bringing a mother into this story. Like you said, there have been other movies about kidnaps before – Liam Neeson in the “Taken” series, Mel Gibson and “Ransom” and Hugh Jackman in “Prisoners” come to mind – but we’ve never really seen a mother.

That’s correct. You could take the whole genre of these kinds of movies, and we never get to see a woman much less a mother. We never get to see a mother who drives a minivan. There is a reality to this movie that makes it special. In those other movies, you’ll always find a male character who is very strong and knows a lot about doing action. They are usually men of action. But, here, we have a regular mother – a regular woman become the real hero in this movie. She’s a superhero in some ways. This is a movie about empowerment.

Did you run into any challenges in the story because Halle is playing a regular mom? She might be a superhero in some respects as you just described her, but she’s not a former FBI agent or an assassin or someone with a killer instinct.

It was very interesting because from the very beginning – and from all the conversations between Halle and myself – we always thought, “What would a real mother do?” Halley is a mother, so she would always say, “Oh, I would’ve done this or that.” We would have these reality checks constantly. She knew what she was talking about. Halle is very athletic, so it was easy for her to do the scenes in the movie. All she would do was think, “Would I do this for my son?” She always said, “Yes! I would do this and more!” A mother would do anything for her son. You see that in the movie. You can connect with that. It is very powerful to be able to celebrate that empowerment.

There are some pretty physical scenes in the film. Did you push Halle very hard? Was she able to do everything you asked of her from a physical standpoint?

We both wanted to do everything for real. I didn’t want to use green screens. Halle is very athletic, so she wanted to do most of it herself. When there’s a car chase in the movie, sometimes she’s driving. She’s a good driver. The crashes are happening for real. It wasn’t the easiest way to do it, but we wanted to do it that way. She was completely for doing it herself and never had any doubts. She was up for the challenge. It almost feels like a movie from the 80s because everything is done for real.

And you were able to get that minivan to go as fast as you need it to?

(Laughs) I have to say, we were all surprised at that minivan. Even when cars crashed into that minivan, nothing would happen to it. It was very powerful. It was kind of a metaphor for the mother. You think the mother is going to be weak, but she’s not weak. She’s very strong. By the way, we picked that minivan because it was the most popular minivan in America. It wasn’t your average minivan. It was absolutely remarkable. Very powerful and safe.

We’re not doing any product placement here with the minivan, are we?

(Laughs) Oh, there’s no product placement at all, unfortunately. It’s just the reality of that minivan. We didn’t expect that from that minivan.

As a Spanish filmmaker, do you feel like you bring a new perspective to Hollywood?

You know, it’s interesting because in Europe, we’re always making films from the heart and with passion and emotion. When you come to Hollywood, there’s always great stories, but sometimes they’re lacking heart. Sometimes they will follow a formula. What I like to bring to those great stories is a European heart. I think that was my contribution to the film. I connected with the emotion of the film, which is why I pushed everything to the limit. While making this film, I thought about my own mother and the women I know. That was what was important to me.

What do you want out of a career in Hollywood as you move forward and take your experiences from this film to the next?

For me, I like to make films that I would watch myself. It is important when you make a film that you have an emotional reaction to it. You should be entertained, but you should also have an emotional experience. That’s something I like. That’s the beauty of going to the movies. I love all kinds of movies, but that’s something I personally love.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

May 23, 2014 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender
Directed by: Bryan Singer (“X-Men,” “X2: X-Men United”)
Written by: Simon Kinburg (“X-Men: The Last Stand,” “Sherlock Holmes”)

In this golden age of comic book movies, the X-Men franchise is the unlikely elder statesman. Bill Clinton was still president when the first film hit theaters in 2000, for crying out loud, and since then we’ve had two different sets of Spider-Man movies, three different versions of the Hulk, and we’re working on our second go-round with both Batman and Superman. And the X-movies, with their often blatant disregard for continuity with one another, fly in the face of the clockwork-precision the current slate of Avengers-based blockbusters Marvel and Disney are pumping out. It’s no secret that Hugh Jackman’s Logan/Wolverine is the glue that holds everything together, anchoring the everything from the best (“X2”) and worst (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine”) in the series with his definitive take on the most popular X-Man. “X-Men: Days of Future Past” is no different, only this time it shrewdly sends the mutant MVP back through time to undo some of the franchise’s most glaring missteps in an adventure that ranks among the series’ strongest.

Opening in a dystopian future — and weirdly, seeming to shrug off the post-credits sequence of “The Wolverine” — “Days of Future Past” finds Logan, Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellan), and a small group of X-Men fighting for their lives against shape-shifting killer robots known as Sentinels. Originally meant to hunt down mutants, the Sentinels’ programming changed to include taking out mutant-sympathizing humans as well. In an effort to end the war before it begins, Professor X hatches a plan with Kitty Pride (Ellen Page) to send Logan’s consciousness back through time into his younger body. His goal is to unite the younger Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lesherr (Michael Fassbender) to stop Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) from assassinating Sentinel creator Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), an event that set humankind on a mission to eradicate mutants from the world.

Returning to the franchise for the first time since “X2,” director Bryan Singer seems to have one goal in mind: clean up the mess the series has become. Singer and screenwriter Simon Kinburg rely heavily on the audience being familiar with  most of the events in “X-Men,” “X2,” “X-Men: The Last Stand,” “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” and the prequel “X-Men: First Class” (again, oddly, the superior “The Wolverine” is largely ignored), and the duo make a massive effort to smash all of that into a timeline that makes sense within itself (spoiler: it never does). Thinking about it too much can make your head hurt, and thankfully the film is exciting enough that you don’t need to worry about it. At this point Jackman IS Wolverine, and his performance is as badass and funny as ever. The “First Class” cast, led by Lawrence, McAvoy, Fassbender and Nicholas Hoult (as Hank McCoy/Beast) all shine as well. “Days of Future Past” ultimately serves as a giant reset button and with Singer back at the helm, the future of the franchise seems brighter than ever.

The Call

March 15, 2013 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin, Morris Chestnut
Directed by: Brad Anderson (“The Machinist,” “Transsiberian”)
Written by:  Richard D’Ovidio (“Thir13en Ghosts,” “Exit Wounds”)

From time to time, publicists send out emails to film writers across the country to make them aware of upcoming movies. These typically include the stars, the title, and release date, so that if you are preparing some sort of seasonal movie guide or something, you’ll be able to populate it with all the relevant information your readers will need. In the case of the new Halle Berry film “The Call,” however, we got an email two months ago advising us that the new “UNTITLED HALLE BERRY THRILLER” would be released in “SPRING 2013.” It’s rarely a good omen when a publicist can’t drum up something less generic than that.

In “The Call,” Halle Berry stars as hotshot Los Angeles 911 operator Jordan Turner. Working in the slick call center known as The Hive, Jordan is a rock star, handling emergencies and prank calls like a champ. When a teenage girl calls to report a man breaking into her house, Jordan buckles down and talks the teen skillfully through how to throw the prowler off her trail and hide until the police arrive. When the girl accidentally disconnects the line and Jordan redials, however, the man is able to find the teen’s hiding place thanks to the ringing phone. After taunting Jordan over the phone, the man kidnaps and kills the girl, sending Jordan spiraling into a moral crisis over her mistake. Six months later, Jordan takes the call of another abducted teenage girl (Abigail Breslin) and must overcome her personal demons to help save her.

In spite of the ho-hum premise that wouldn’t be out of place as the plot of a typical “Law and Order” episode, for the first hour “The Call” just plain works. Director Brad Anderson (“The Machinist”) fills each frame with tension, sticking extreme close-ups of Breslin panicking in the trunk next to surveillance-style footage of the kidnapper’s car speeding anonymously down an L.A. freeway. The interaction between Berry and Breslin on the phone feels real, and the tactics Berry has Breslin employ to get the attention of other drivers (like kicking out the tail lights and pouring paint out to leave a trail) are extremely clever. When the chase ends, though, is where some disappointment sets in. The last half hour starts going to some icky-yet-routine places as the kidnapper drags the half-naked Breslin down to his underground dungeon to begin whatever psychotic ritual he had in mind. All is not lost, though, as a last-second plot zigzag (that I won’t spoil here) gives the ending a weirdly satisfying kick.

What kind of contractor builds those underground sex dungeons anyway?

New Year’s Eve

December 9, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Biel, Ashton Kutcher
Directed by: Gary Marshall (“Valentine’s Day”)
Written by: Katherine Fugate (“Valentine’s Day”)

Forget about eating healthier or going to the gym more often. Don’t worry about watching less TV or cutting back on coffee in the morning. If you really want to make a New Year’s resolution that will benefit your well-being, promise yourself not to feed the holiday cinematic beast called “New Year’s Eve,” the second purposeless celebrity mishmash rom-com brought to you by Hollywood nice-guy director Gary Marshall (“Pretty Woman”).

It’s been quite a while since Marshall has given audiences anything with substance. Unless you liked the torturously unfunny “Valentine’s Day” of last year, there’s no need to subject yourself to the same humdrum narrative pattern screenwriter Katherine Fugate has tried once again to pass off as something resembling a logical script. As if “Valentine’s Day” never happened, Fugate fails to realize that squeezing a sizeable series of storylines into one movie is like force feeding a full person. There is literally no room to expand on anything and – more than likely – things are bound to get messy.

Even more curious than the shameful script is the fact that so many high-profile stars decided to add their name to the swelling cast. Sure, money (and what was probably a short production schedule) talks, but actors like Robert De Niro, Halle Berry and Hilary Swank can’t be that hard up for work to take on a project as thinly-written as this. They should’ve known something was wrong when the New York City they inhabit in this movie is one where comedian Seth Meyers has a chance to make babies with Jessica Biel.

Halle Berry – Things We Lost in the Fire

June 7, 2007 by  
Filed under Interviews

“I’m one who chooses roles based on what I am most needing and wanting to express in my real life somehow,” said Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry while in New York City promoting her new film Things We Lost in the Fire. “I don’t purposely do that, but halfway through making a movie I go, ‘Oh, now I get why I am doing this!’”

I’m not sure what exact revelations Berry has had on movie sets since winning the Best Actress Oscar for her role in 2001’s Monster’s Ball, but I’m sure they haven’t been too enlightening. With critical duds like Gothika, Catwoman, and Perfect Stranger and just-satisfactory roles as a Bond Girl and a climate-controlling mutant, Berry’s filmography over the last six years hasn’t been one to flaunt.

“My life quickly went back to normal [after winning the Oscar],” Berry, 41, said. “[Awards] are great that night and you get a pat on the back and then you go back to being an actor making a living. I’ve learned not to take the highs and lows too personally and just operate in that middle ground.”

Still, Berry is far from your average actress. Along with making every sexiest-celebrities list in every glossy magazine known to man in the last few years, Berry has also been the face of Revlon and Versace, received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this past April, earned an estimated $16 million in 2005 and 2006, and recently announced that she is pregnant with her first child.

Now, Berry can say she is back on track to earn her second Oscar nomination for her intimate role in Things We Lost in the Fire. In the film, Berry plays Audrey Burke, a mother whose life is upturned when her husband, Steven (played by David Duchovny), is murdered. Through his death, Audrey connects with one of Steven’s best friends, Jerry Sunborne (Benicio Del Toro), a former lawyer turned heroine addict who she never accepted as part of her husband’s life.

“My manager gave me [the script] and I thought, ‘Wow! I’ve got to … do this movie,’” Berry said. “The [studio’s] response was, ‘Well, we don’t know. We don’t know about her. Once we get a director in place, then maybe we’ll know something more.’”

Because the role wasn’t written for a black actress — an issue she says she has faced throughout her career — Berry assumed her race might be the reason the studio was hesitant. It wasn’t until she met with director Susanne Bier (After the Wedding) that she got the opportunity to ask.

“When I walked in my first question to her was, ‘Do you care that I’m black … because I think that might be my problem here,’” Berry said, “[Bier] said, ‘To hell with what color you are. It’s not relevant.’ She said, ‘Just tell me why you like … Audrey. Let’s start there.’”

Although Berry admits she has never lost a loved one like her character, she delved into the role by researching the stages of grief and doing a little investigative reporting with friends who had lost family members.

“I haven’t lived this woman’s story in any way, shape, or form but I have lived what many of us have lived, and that’s having to go through the valleys of life and coming through on the other side and realizing somehow that we are indelibly better,” Berry said. “Life is different, sure … but life can often be better.”

Berry will experience another life-changing event very soon. Her baby is due next spring, and she is anticipating a lot of positive transformation in her personal life and in her career.

“My life has already changed,” Berry said. “I know that … choices that I make will change. Hopefully, I will be more grounded and have more life to draw from. I think it will make me a richer, deeper human being and that will show up in my work.