Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Lunch with Justin Simien, Writer-Director of Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winner ‘Dear White People’

justinsimien_1331505284_46
This week on The Lunch Podcast, regular host James Rocchi is joined by Justin Simien, the writer-director of the Sundance 2014 breakout hit Dear White People, a campus comedy about race, class and representation in an America — and the rare satire that cares about its characters with honesty and humanity even as it makes swift, slashing attacks with a rapier wit. Justin and I dined at My Two Cents on W. Pico in L.A., and then talked about Dear White People, his love of Altman and Kubrick, the pleasures of a long-lens zoom, when depressing news in the world is good news for your film, his experiences as a publicist for Paramount, Kanye West vs. Lorde vs. Mos Def aka Yasiin Bey, how to best ‘sing’ along with rap singles while not saying the  N-word, Dear White People‘s arduous but impassioned shooting schedule and much, much more. You can find Justin on twitter @JSim07, and Dear White People @DearWhitePeople

Remember, The Lunch Podcast is available on iTunes.

The Lunch Podcast is proudly sponsored by Snoot Films, makers of the upcoming The Guest.

 

Posted in Podcast, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Lunch with James Ponsoldt, Director of ‘The Spectacular Now’

Ponsoldt

James Ponsoldt, the director of The Spectacular Now, joins The Lunch Podcast this week, concurrent with the film’s release to DVD and Blu-Ray this Tuesday the 14th. After dining on Miracle Mile, Ponsoldt and I talked about everything — filming in his hometown, film over digital, casting realistic teen actors, keeping things just the right kind of sweaty, ‘real’ independent films versus the counterfeit of same and how his attempts to make real, honest films has taught him that the MPAA is the strangest gatekeeper our pop culture has.

Let us know what you thought of the podcast here, or you can find us on twitter @TheLunchPodcast; you can find the show on iTunes, as well.

The Lunch is back for the 2013-2014 season thanks to the sponsorship of Snoot Entertainment.

Posted in Interviews, Podcast, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Lunch with Director Shaul Schwartz of ‘Narco Cultura’

SaulSnarco

Shaul Schwartz was a photojournalist who spent decades covering global hotspots — but after covering the drug war in Mexico, he made the jump to documentary filmmaking with his new film, Narco Cultura. Contrasting the work of a CSI police officer in Juarez, Mexico who spends time cleaning up the human slaughter of the war on drugs and the career of a L.A.-based member of the popular group Buknas de Culiacan, ‘Narco Corridos’ who sings songs glorifying the drug chieftains of Mexico, Narco Cultura looks at the pop culture of crime … and at what happens when crime becomes its own culture. Currently in theaters, Narco Cultura  will expand into more markets in the coming weeks; see the film’s official website for more information. 

 

Let me know what you thought of the podcast here, or you can find us on twitter  @TheLunchPodcast; you can find the show on iTunes, as well.

 

The Lunch is back for the 2013-2014 season thanks to the sponsorship of Snoot Entertainment.

 

Posted in Podcast, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Lunch with Director Jacob Kornbluth, ‘Inequality for All’

IneqThis week on The Lunch, we talk with director Jacob Kornbluth, (r, above) director of the new documentary ‘Inequality for All.’ Featuring ex-Secretary of labor (and now Berkeley Professor) Robert Reich (l), the film’s a look at the growing gap between rich and poor in America — and how the expansion of that divide actually hurts both sides of that age-old equation. During The Lunch, Kornbluth and I talk about campaign finance, the visual display of data, how the documentary functions in part as “Graduate Schoolhouse Rock,” and more.

Let me know what you thought of the podcast here, or you can find us on twitter  @TheLunchPodcast …

Our iTunes page for the Lunch is right here; if you enjoy the show, maybe you might be kind enough to give us a review?

The Lunch is back for the 2013-2014 season thanks to the sponsorship of Snoot Entertainment.

Posted in Podcast, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Lunch Podcast, with Karina Longworth, author of “Al Pacino: Anatomy of An Actor”

LongworthThis week, The Lunch welcomes film journalist and author Karina Longworth, author of the new book “Al Pacino: Anatomy of an Actor,” where Pacino’s career (and the changes in Hollywood throughout that career) are examined  through 10 performances, from “The Godfather” to “Jack and Jill.” Karina and I talk about Pacino’s early work, hard-copy research, the “Hoo-ah!” nature of late Pacino performances and ponder what it is, exactly, that makes a movie star. This week, we dined (and recorded) at The Sunset Junction Coffee Shop, in Silverlake; Ms. Longworth can be found on twitter @karinalongworth …

Let me know what you thought of the podcast here, or you can find me on twitter  @TheLunchPodcast…

Our iTunes page for the Lunch is right here; if you enjoy the show, maybe you might be kind enough to give us a review? The show is also available directly below or as a stand-alone player on Soundcloud. 

The Lunch is back for the 2013-2014 season thanks to the sponsorship of Snoot Entertainment (whose upcoming “You’re Next” is due in theaters Aug. 23rd).

Posted in Podcast, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

This Week on the Big Screen and DVD, 8/8/2013

PCJ2

Plenty  of choices on the big screen this week. Elysium, with Matt Damon, feels more like the videogame of a science fiction film than it does a science fiction film, which is regrettable — it’s also pretty much a cover version of Neill Blomkamp’s District 9. From my Geek Nation Review:

“Any similarities to District 9 are far from coincidental, as a working-stiff guy gets his body terminally modified and has to not only fight to save himself but also liberate a people. The plot device of the magic healing booths is fairly thin as well – what, there’s not one miracle machine on the surface of the planet for anyone in need to buy, beg, borrow or steal? Elysium is also a film where you can feel any attempt to think and talk about ideas or character slump and slide away as the film has to stoop, squat and stretch itself into a wholly conventional third-act action closer mandated by the production-line construction that goes into any film that costs over $40 million. And the finale, which is meant to be stirring, just represents an entirely different can of worms being opened both within the story and within the film itself.”

– my full 2/5 Review is here.

As for Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, I’m confused by the reviews beating it up for not being big, grown-up or bold enough — can’t a kid’s movie be for kids? As I note in my Screencrush review,

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is exactly the kind of film that was made for me to take my teen and tween nieces to, not for me to enjoy. There’s some bloodless peril, not even a whiff of romance and plenty of spirited action … There’s fights and sights and cameos, and if Nathan Fillion‘s Hermes lacks the snap and style of Uma Thurman‘s Medusa from the first film, there’s a lively baddie in Polythemus, a colossal-yet-squat cyclops brought to life with clever CGI and the rumbling, rousing voice of Ron Perlman. Lerman is a more active action hero, as well — decent, determined, fighting not for glory or fortune but rather to help his friends. Lerman was fine in ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower,’ but the breezy, easy adventure of the ‘Jackson’ films seems to suit him, and he wears the character well. Filmgoers and fans will be able to follow the character arcs and the fight scenes, with both done well and simply enough to suffice. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is hardly the stuff of legend, but by keeping the plot straightforward and the storytelling clean, it’s an odyssey the intended young audience will be glad to take.”

My full 6/10 review is here.

Finally, Planes opens on the big screen, and, uh ….

“When Disney formally bought Pixar in 2006, the hope was that the small, scrappy upstart would revitalize and change the super-sized, deep-pocketed, tradition-bound company that purchased it. Seven years later, Planes suggests the opposite can happen.  Planes borrows a world from Cars, but even compared to that soulless exercise in animated automotive adventure, Planes is dead in its big, googly eyes and hollow inside.”

From my 1/5 star review at MSN Movies

We’re the Millers opens wide as well, but I haven’t seen it; at the same time, it’s a film from the writer-director of Dodgeball, so that alone makes me want to see it.

At the same time, if they’re open near you, The Spectacular Now and In a World are both truly impressive — two of the best fiction films I saw at Sundance. (Both titles lead to my MSN reviews …)

On DVD, don’t be fooled by the flash and flair of Oblivion; it’s a wash, script-wise, and while it looks great (or, rather, like a series of ’70s Prog-Rock album covers), it’s the same old same old in its script. (My Geek Nation Review is here.) My pick for the week would be Mud, an excellent moody drama about live on the river and how things float on by; Matthew McConaughy is excellent, and writer-director Jeff Nichols is a real talent. (My 4/5 MSN Movies review is here.)

Until next week,

J.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Lunch with Joshua Oppenheimer, Director of “The Act of Killing”

TheLunchAOKThis week on The Lunch, Director Joshua Oppenheimer talks about his film “The Act of Killing,” which finds an ex-member of the ad-hoc Indonesian death squads who killed millions as part of the establishment of the Suharto regime in ’65-’66 — and, by giving that ex-murderer access to a film crew, encourages calm, thoroughly respectable ex-killer Anwar Congo to shoot vignettes that reminisce about what he did and how — functioning, essentially, as art therapy for monsters. It’s one of the year’s best docs, and you can find my Toronto review of the film here.   You can find the film on twitter at @theactofkilling; it’s currently in theaters from Drafthouse Films.

Let me know what you thought of the podcast here, or you can find me on twitter @jamesrocchi …

Our iTunes page for the Lunch is right here; if you enjoy the show, maybe you might be kind enough to give us a review? The show is also available as a stand-alone player on Soundcloud. 

The Lunch is back for the 2013-2014 season thanks to the sponsorship of Snoot Entertainment (whose upcoming “You’re Next” is due in theaters Aug. 23rd).

Posted in Podcast, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This Week on The Big Screen & DVD 7/11/2013

Pacific Rim ReviewGuillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim opens this Friday, and as much as I like the man’s lumpy bumpy style, I couldn’t buy the characters or the story or do much else other than the absurd circle of The monsters fight the robots like this because Mr. Del Toro wanted to make a movie where The monsters and robots fight like this because …

The heroics of the film involve a lot of Screenwriting 101 clunkers — Charlie Hunnam used to be a robot pilot but his brother died; Rinko Kikuchi wants to be a robot pilot to avenge her family; Idris Elba leads the anti-monster robot program, with his most substantive qualification apparently being that with his baritone he can make even this script sound good. ‘Pacific Rim’ isn’t a story that has cool ideas and visions in it; it’s cool ideas and visions, with a story reverse-engineered from that.

The cinematography, effects and design work are all superlative, and Del Toro’s eye for the bizarre still makes it through the film’s monsters and designs. In a phrase you could apply to almost every blockbuster this year, ‘Pacific Rim’ is technically accomplished; the better question is what, exactly, it’s trying to accomplish in the first place.

The full review is at Screencrush.com, right here.

As for Grown Ups 2, well, this is what I was thinking about Grown Ups:

Years from now, when future generations want to know exactly how idiotic, insipid and insulting the worst of early 21st-century pop culture could be — whether they ride hover cars or mutant cockroaches, whether they dine on food pills or each other — they will simply have to watch a copy of “Grown Ups,” the latest film from Adam Sandler. They may lack some of the cultural context that helps us in the here-and-now appreciate how lazy and greedy “Grown Ups” is: Will they know of the mid-’90s era of “Saturday Night Live” and how it spawned the careers of Sandler and his co-stars Chris RockRob Schneider and David Spade? Will “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry,” where Sandler first worked with co-star Kevin James, be lost to the ravages of time? Even if they lack that cultural knowledge (and oh, briefly imagine living in that blessed age), though, they’d have to nonetheless recognize “Grown Ups” as the sloppy, vain junk it is. They will, if they’re still human.

The not-so-fab five male leads of “Grown Ups” are playing childhood friends reunited at the funeral of the basketball coach who led them to a championship in their distant youth. After the funeral, the five and their spouses, children and some relations head to the lake house where they spent their boyhood summers. Sandler, a wealthy Hollywood agent, fears his children are becoming brats spoiled by his and his fashionista wife Salma Hayek‘s success. Rock is a harried house-husband. James is hiding recent bad news. Schneider has a slew of broken marriages and distant children in his wake. Spade is a perpetual Peter Pan, unattached and unhappy. Imagine if “The Big Chill” were made today. And obsessed with flatulence, urine and breast milk. And every female character a hag, a harridan, a harpy or a hottie. And if none of the characters seemed to actually like each other.

– From my MSN review of 2010

As for the week on DVD, your choices include The Host (more from Twilight author Stephenie Meyer,) Dead Man Down (a fairly solid thriller) and the tepid Admission; your best bet is Spring Breakers:

There’s more to “Spring Breakers” than its gold, guns and girls aesthetic — but, at the same time, not a lot more, and the film’s construction deflates a lot of the energy and emotion it builds up early on. An associate noted how this film was a grim and scary portrait of the generation that believes YOLO — you only live once; the warning Korine buries under day-glo colors and music video-styled images is that you also only die once, too, and that lasts much, much longer. “Spring Breakers” went over like gangbusters with the thrill-seeking, hype-pumped crowd at The Paramount Theater here; it’ll be interesting to see how it plays in malls and multiplexes, and if the audiences can discern it’s not a high-five going up to celebrate  their awesomeness but more a fist zooming in to smash at their consumer’s complacency. “Spring Breakers” is far more visually interesting than it is dramatically engaging, but it’s hard not to be hypnotized but its grim glamour as the repeated line of “spring break forever” sounds less and less like a rallying cry and more and more like a curse.

– For the rest of my SXSW review, click here. 

James

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MSN Interview: William Fichtner of ‘The Lone Ranger’

Playing canon bad guy and desperado Butch Cavendish in “The Lone Ranger,” William Fichtner gets to fight, face down and imperil both Armie Hammer’s Lone Ranger and Johnny Depp’s Tonto … and to disappear beneath layers of wild, weird make-up. We spoke with Fichtner in New Mexico about Western action, putting on his look and his varied career …

James Rocchi: When they said to you “Here is the idea for the look, the wild hair, the grime, the curled lip, the scar…” did you say, as an actor, that’s crazy exciting, to disappear into a part?

Wiliam Fichtner: I didn’t say that out loud, but I sure thought it.  It was a bit of a surprise to me, becauseI had a conversation with Gore on the phone; I had never met him before. I’m a huge fan, but I talked to him about the film, and I said to him at the end of the conversation “God, I’d love to find a guy that doesn’t really look like me.”  And Gore said, (Laughs) “Don’t worry about it,” because he was already aware of what Joel (Harlow, Makeup Department Head) was thinking about.  So when I came to Albuquerque, first day that I got here, we did the hair and make-up test and the wardrobe fitting and Joe put the whole thing on, which took about three hours, and I was blown away.  I’m like, “Bring it on man, thank you.”

You’re somebody I’ve been watching for years in great stuff, from “Go” to “Armageddon” to “Contact.”  But here, at first, I was thinking … “That’s Mr. Fichtner?”  It was such a transformation.  Did you freak yourself out a little bit watching dailies?

Oh, I never watch dailies.  Yeah, I usually don’t watch anything until it’s completely done.

Read the full interview at MSN Movies: 

Posted in Interviews, MSN Movies, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

MSN Interview: Kristen Wiig of ‘Despicable Me 2′

Voicing the angular-and-enthusia​stic Anti-Villain league agent Lucy Wilde, Kristen Wiig (of “Saturday Night Live” and “Bridesmaids”) gives “Despicable Me 2″ a crazy shot in the arm of energy — and more than a little karate-chopping, tazer-wielding action. We spoke with Wiig in L.A. about animated acting, Bond villains and their real estate agents, and why heart matters in animation …

MSN Movies: I was talking to Mr. Bratt about this: Acting is so physical. There’s motion. There’s even how you carry yourself and how it affects your voice. Do you find that when you’re doing animation you still do all those things to just carry it through your vocalizations? Are you flailing around a lot in the booth?

Kristen Wiig: Yeah. I mean I think you have to physically take on the character even though you’re just doing the voice. I mean, I think you would do that anyway because they are filming you as you’re recording all your lines and everything. And especially with my character, who’s very energetic.

Karate chopping her way through the film?

Right. Yes, exactly. So I had to move around. I had to move around a little bit.

So you sound right when you’re chopping.

Exactly. I was really chopping I think, maybe. I don’t know. (Laughs).

 Read the full interview at MSN Movies:

Posted in Interviews, MSN Movies, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment