Month: March 2015

Best Night Ever

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Best Night Ever Movie

Taglines: The hangover will be the easy part.

Bride-to-be Claire, her sister Leslie, fun-loving Zoe, and quirky new friend Janet set off to Las Vegas for a one-night bachelorette party that turns out to be more than they bargained for. A series of unexpected adventures including, getting kicked out of a strip club, being mugged and getting pummeled by the Las Vegas’ reigning gelatin-wrestling champion, Veronica, rip them from the glitz and glamour of the Las Vegas strip and places them smack dab in Vegas’ seedy underbelly.

Determined to keep their bachelorette party dreams alive, the girls band together and embark on the wildest night in bachelorette party history. Fueled by sex and booze, this raunchy, riotously hilarious, out-of-control, blow-out is, for better or worse, all caught on tape. And is destined to go down as the Best Night Ever.

About the Production

Best Night Ever was shot on location in Los Angeles, Palm Springs and Las Vegas over three weeks in July and August of 2012. Written and Directed by Aaron Seltzer & Jason Friedberg, the team behind such spoofs as Meet The Spartans, Date Movie and Vampires Suck, BEST NIGHT EVER offered a departure from their usual fare. Though the Vegas locale and general scenario drew common comparisons to films like The Hangover series, Bridesmaids and Bachelorette, the filmmakers sought out to create an original fictional film, and given the low budget and experimental shooting style, one that Friedberg and Seltzer could really have fun with.

Best Night Ever Movie

Shooting Best Night Ever was like being on tour with your favorite rock n’ roll band. We steam-rolled through our shoot the way AC/DC stream-rolls through an awesome set. There was action and comedy and excitement each day of the shoot. In a lot of ways the shoot reflected the story of the movie, it didn’t matter if things went wrong we were determined to do what we had to do to get it shot and have a fun time doing it. The shoot took us everywhere, from a seedy hotel in the shadows of Los Angeles, to 90° nights in Palm Springs, to the always nostalgic Downtown Strip in Las Vegas.

Joined by frequent collaborators in DP Shawn Maurer (Date Movie, Meet The Spartans, Black Dynamite) and Production Designer Bill Elliott (Super, Scary Movie 3, Disaster Movie), Friedberg and Seltzer leapt into pre-production in May of 2012. The film was to be shot “found footage” style – as rough and raw as a night-out-gone-wrong in Vegas could be.

BEST NIGHT EVER follows the story of four girls and their quest to find some form of debauchery in Las Vegas before one of their number (Claire) gets married. After their rather unceremonious arrival, hijinks do indeed ensue, leaving the audience to conclude that in BEST NIGHT EVER, the hangover was definitely the easy part.

Best Night Ever Movie

The four girls, played by Desiree Hall (Claire), Samantha Colburn (Leslie), Eddie Ritchard (Zoe), and Crista Flanagan (Janet), do their very best to have a good time in Las Vegas. When a malfunctioning credit card keeps them out of Caesar’s Palace, the group checks into a less than desirable motel many miles from the heat of the strip. It’s the sort of place where you’d want to check the linens with your iPhone blacklight app, then regret that it was invented in the first place. The girls were fantastic. They brought the characters of Claire, Leslie, Zoe and Janet to life. They really made us feel that these girls had been through a lot together in their lives and would stick together through the misadventures of a Las Vegas bachelorette party.

Undaunted by their situation, the girls head out to a male strip club and are promptly removed, get robbed, engage in underground Jello-wrestling, and for all intents and purposes, go on a quite ridiculous bender the likes of which audiences have never seen before.

Going into full prep in June of 2012, the filmmakers were faced with several challenges. The main portion of the film would shoot in Los Angeles with several days of pick-ups in Palm Springs at a casino and in Las Vegas at hotels and the strip. The back streets of North Hollywood and Sherman Oaks were chosen to double for Las Vegas off the strip. A prominent Indian Casino in Palm Springs was used to double Caesar’s Palace.

It also served as a suitable setting for an unforgettable confrontation later in the film involving the four girls, a very skinny, very naked man and a very large and also very naked woman. It isn’t often that one asks an establishment permission to clear several floors of patrons in order to stage a series of naked people chasing fifty extras down a corridor, but this occurred several times in Best Night Ever.

Best Night Ever Movie

To handle the day-to-day slings and arrows of production on the film, Friedberg & Seltzer partnered with longtime collaborator and veteran Producer Peter Safran (The Conjuring, Hours, Scary Movie) as well as micro-budget mogul Jason Blum (Paranormal Activity, Insidious, The Purge.) Joining them on the producing front were Co-Producer Dan Clifton (ATM, The Den, Hours) and Associate Producer Kenny Yates.

Jason and Aaron were excited to shoot a no-holds barred R-rated comedy and their excitement was contagious for the crew. Everyone was really excited to be working on this film. We really felt the passion for the project and did everything we could to focus our energies on making it the best we could and we really think that shines on the screen.

Lensed by veteran Shawn Maurer, BEST NIGHT EVER was shot on a variety of prosumer and professional cameras including the Canon AX10, Panasonic GH2, GoPro system and Sony EX3. All brought a distinct style to the project. Grounded firmly in “found footage” world, the filmmakers were able to smuggle, strategically place and hide different cameras in and around the person of each of the main cast, having them operate the camera themselves much of the time. During the sequence where the girls travel on the highline on Fremont Street in Las Vegas, each actress is carrying and “operating” a GoPro Hero 2 hacked to shoot at a specific frame rate.

Seasoned cutter Peck Prior, whose credits include Bridesmaids, several of the Friedberg & Seltzer spoof series (Epic Movie, Disaster Movie) as well as comedy classic Uncle Buck, carried out the edit. For as many one shot takes or scenes in Best Night Ever, there are infinitely more that have been crazily compiled from a myriad of different shots and angles as our leads bumble from one disaster to another. Often times, Peck had to maintain the natural feel and flow of the footage while still managing to hide additional crew lurking just around the corner. Shooting in real locations and in tight corners forced the post team to be creative, striking a balance between home video shot on a real iPhone and a project with more of a narrative base.

When watching the film, look for a specific sequence that takes place in the old downtown portion of Las Vegas. Shot towards the tail end of the 16-day shoot, these last few days in Vegas capture the truly insane atmosphere that was going on at the time, as well as many of the crewmembers that were working on the film.

The girls are challenged (self-challenged, really) to a scavenger hunt of sorts in which they parade around for the better part of ten minutes collecting strange things and acting out inane pranks. Spontaneous and crazy, the sequence involves much of the crew that was still on hand at that point in the shoot, several celebrity look-alikes and many passersby on Fremont Street. Watch this sequence closely and a microcosm of the entire shoot is revealed, leaving you to ask how many of these events were staged and how many just simply happened that way.

Best Night Ever Movie Poster

Best Night Ever

Directed by: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer
Starring: Desiree Hall, Samantha Colburn, Eddie Ritchard, Crista Flanagan, Christian Barillas, Jason Beaubien, Jena Sims
Screenplay by: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer
Production Design by: William A. Elliott
Cinematography by: Shawn Maurer
Film Editing by: Peck Prior
Costume Design by: Maressa Richtmyer
Set Decoration by: Nathalie Neurath
MPAA Rating: R for strong crude and sexual content throughout, language, graphic nudity and drug use.
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
Release Date: January 31, 2014

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Draft Day

Draft Day Movie

Taglines: The greatest victories don’t always happen on the field.

Draft Day is an American sports drama film directed by Ivan Reitman and starring Kevin Costner. It was released on April 11, 2014. The premise revolves around the general manager of the Cleveland Browns (Kevin Costner) deciding what to do when his team acquires the number one draft pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. The film premiered in Los Angeles on April 7, 2014, with its United States release following on April 11.

On the morning of the 2014 NFL Draft in New York City, Chris Berman, Jon Gruden, Mel Kiper Jr., and other analysts discuss the consensus first overall pick: Wisconsin quarterback Bo Callahan, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. Cleveland Browns general manager Sonny Weaver Jr., must decide how to use the seventh overall pick to improve his consistently losing team, but has other issues. He recently learned that his secret girlfriend Ali Parker, the team’s salary cap analyst, is pregnant with his child. His father, Sonny Weaver Sr., coached the Browns before Weaver Jr. fired him, and died a week before the draft. His mother is upset at him for missing the reading of Weaver Sr.’s will.

The Seattle Seahawks hold the first overall pick, which general manager Tom Michaels offers to trade to the Browns. Weaver declines, but before leaving for the draft team owner Anthony Molina—dissatisfied with current quarterback Brian Drew—orders him to accept. The Browns give their three first-round draft picks over the next three years for the top pick. Many Seahawks fans want Callahan, however, and express their displeasure with picket signs at CenturyLink Field and on social media, demanding Michaels’ firing.

The unexpected chance to obtain Callahan excites Browns fans. Most in the Browns’ front office agree despite the high price; Drew and head coach Vince Penn are the exceptions. Penn agrees that Callahan is excellent but does not want to teach a rookie quarterback his system offense, and prefers running back Ray Jennings of Florida State. Drew, who led the team to a 5–1 start the previous year before injury, fears losing his job. The trade leaks after a tweet by linebacker Vontae Mack of Ohio State, another possible choice for Weaver with the seventh pick. Mack wants to play for the Browns, and fears not being chosen in the first round. He advises Weaver to rewatch the game in which he sacked Callahan four times. Teams contact Weaver for possible transactions based on the trade; one from the Houston Texans implies that Mack may not remain available to the Browns in the second round.

The only flaws in Callahan are possible character issues: A report that none of his teammates attending his birthday party, and Callahan allegedly lying to the Washington Redskins about reading the team’s playbook. When the draft begins that evening at Radio City Music Hall, the Browns have ten minutes to make the first overall pick. Weaver abruptly chooses Mack; Roger Goodell’s announcement of the selection amazes the league and the front office. While a relieved Drew believes that his job is safe, Molina angrily flies back to Cleveland to confront Weaver. Callahan has an anxiety attack, and leaves the theater until his agent persuades him to return. The pick surprises Penn as much as it does the others, but he discovers that before dying Weaver Sr. advised his son to choose Mack “no matter what”.

Draft Day Movie Poster

Draft Day

Directed by: Ivan Reitman
Starring: Tom Welling, Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Terry Crews, Sam Elliott, Ellen Burstyn, Denis Leary, Chadwick Boseman, Sean Combs, Sarah Wright, Gillian Jacobs
Screenplay by: Scott Rothman, Rajiv Joseph
Production Design by: Perry Andelin Blake
Cinematography by: Jonathan Brown
Film Editing by: Patrick J. Don Vito
Costume Design by: Lindsay McKay
Set Decoration by: Karen O’Hara
Music by: John Debney
MPAA Rating: R for brief strong language.
Studio: Summit Entertainment
Release Date: April 11, 2014

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Heaven Is for Real

Heaven Is for Real

Heaven Is For Real stars Greg Kinnear (As Good As It Gets, Little Miss Sunshine) as Todd Burpo and co-stars Kelly Reilly (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Flight) as Sonja Burpo, the real-life couple whose son Colton (newcomer Connor Corum) experiences Heaven during emergency surgery. Colton recounts the details of his amazing journey with childlike innocence.

He describes Heaven in vivid detail, and speaks matter-of-factly about things that happened before his birth… things he couldn’t possibly know. Todd is called upon by his congregation to explain the meaning of Colton’s revelations, and he and his family are challenged to examine their faith and draw meaning from this remarkable event.

Heaven Is for Real is an American Christian drama film directed by Randall Wallace and written by Christopher Parker, based on Pastor Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent’s 2010 book of the same name. The film stars Greg Kinnear, Kelly Reilly, Jacob Vargas, and Nancy Sorel. The soundtrack of the film contains Darlene Zschech’s song “Heaven in Me”. The film was released on April 16, 2014 and has received mixed critical reviews, but nevertheless was a box office success, grossing $101 million.

Heaven is for Real Movie Poster

Heaven is for Real

Directed by: Randall Wallace
Starring: Kelly Reilly, Greg Kinnear, Jacob Vargas, Ali Tataryn, Nancy Sorel
Screenplay by: Todd Burpo, Chris Parker, Lynn Vincent
Production Design by: Arvinder Grewal
Cinematography by: Dean Semler
Film Editing by: John Wright
Costume Design by: Michael T. Boyd
Set Decoration by: Steve Shewchuk
Music by: Nick Glennie-Smith
MPAA Rating: None.
Studio: Sony Pictures
Release Date: April 18, 2014

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Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge Movie

Taglines: Someone trying to kill Alan. You’ll wish it was you.

Alan Partridge has had many ups and downs in his life. National television broadcaster. Responsible for killing a guest on live TV. Local radio broadcaster. A nervous breakdown in Dundee. His self-published book, ‘Bouncing Back’, subsequently remaindered and pulped.

The character Alan Partridge first appeared over twenty years ago as a BBC sports reporter on the radio show, On The Hour. Since then, this wonderfully conceited, petty, anal, idiosyncratic comic creation has flourished across virtually every medium you can think of. He’s been a sports reporter (again) on the seminal TV news spoof, The Day Today, host of his own TV chat show, Knowing Me, Knowing You, star of the fly-on-the-wall sitcom I’m Alan Partridge, and most recently Mid-Morning Matters…

About the Film

Alan Gordon Partridge first came to prominence over twenty years ago, as a sports reporter on the BBC’s current affairs radio show, On The Hour. Since then, the wonderfully conceited, petty, anal, idiosyncratic comic creation that is Alan Partridge has flourished across virtually every medium you can think of. He’s been a sports reporter (again) on the seminal TV news spoof, The Day Today, host of his own TV chat show, Knowing Me, Knowing You (which spawned his ‘a-haaaaa!’ catchphrase), and star of the fly-on-the-wall sitcom I’m Alan Partridge, which charted his return to his Norfolk roots at Radio Norwich.

Alan Partridge Movie

Then, following a sabbatical of several years, Partridge returned in 2010 for Mid-Morning Matters, a webcom that showed Alan in his element as host of the titular radio show. Throw in an autobiography, a pseudo-documentary (Welcome To The Places Of My Life) and an appearance on a faux talk show (Open Books with Martin Bryce), and it seemed that, for Alan, there were no more worlds to conquer. Well, except one: the big screen.

Alan Partridge, at last, brings an enduring comic creation to film, pitching Alan headfirst into a desperate battle for survival that’s both literal and figurative, as he becomes caught up in a siege at his radio station. The decision to transfer Partridge to the silver screen has been a long time coming, but Coogan was adamant that he didn’t want to rush things. “We talked about it a long time ago,” says the actor, who also co-wrote the screenplay and is executive producing through his company, Baby Cow. “But one thing that has governed what we do with Alan is to never do him just because there’s a demand. There has to be a creative impetus.”

That impetus, as it turns out, came from Mid-Morning Matters, which started life as a series of ten-minute webisodes, and introduced key new talent to the Partridgeverse, including Tim Key as Alan’s eager-to-please on-air sidekick, Sidekick Simon, and two new writers, Neil and Rob Gibbons. “We came back with Mid-Morning Matters and, as well as re-examining the character and rebooting it with some fresh blood, if I can mix my metaphors – as Alan might say – the Gibbons provided it. It was a way of road testing Alan, and making sure he was up to scratch. I didn’t need to do a Partridge movie, I wanted to do a Partridge movie. That’s an important distinction.”

Finding Alan

The first port of call for the Partridge movie was finding a format and a story worthy of Alan, and also worthy of the big screen. Initially, Coogan worked on brainstorming ideas with fellow Partridge co-creators Armando Iannucci (who directed both series of I’m Alan Partridge) and Peter Baynham. Many TV shows, from On The Buses to The Inbetweeners, tend to look abroad when they become bigger in scale, and for a while Partridge was going to be no exception. “For a long time we had worked out a story about him maybe being on a ship, and he was going to end up in Dubai, just heading up entertainment on television in Dubai and rising slightly higher than his abilities,” recalls Iannucci.

The core of the story, though, was forged when the idea of placing Alan in the middle of a siege was mooted. At first, the siege was going to be much bigger, with Alan butting heads with terrorists in a manner redolent of Die Hard’s John McClane, but eventually that was scaled back. “I don’t think Die Hard was ever in our minds,” says producer, Kevin Loader. “Dog Day Afternoon was more our inspiration. That has a similarly awkward reality about it, the siege is a bit crap and the hostages are a bit moany, and the siegemakers aren’t very efficient. Here, it’s more of an accidental siege, and some of the comedy comes out of that as well.”

In Alan Partridge, the siegemaker is Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney) who, like Alan, is a DJ at North Norfolk Digital. “He has the late night slot, which is a folksy, chatty, easy listening thing,” says Meaney. “I liken him to the Garrison Keillor of Norfolk. He looks at it like he’s providing a social service as much as entertainment.”

But, with North Norfolk Digital taken over by the predatory Gordale Media and rebranded Shape (motto: ‘the way you want it to be’), Pat finds himself on the wrong end of a P45 and asked to leave. He suddenly snaps and shows up at Shape’s launch party with a vendetta and, more importantly, a shotgun, and so a siege begins. “The feeling is that Pat’s done a really stupid thing here,” says Meaney. “When the cops come he’s a bit like, ‘what are they doing here?’ It spirals out of control.”

For all concerned, it was important to them that Pat pose a real threat (“If the guy with a gun doesn’t feel like he could ever do anything with the gun, there’s no tension,” says Rob Gibbons) and, indeed, he does so throughout the film, covering Sidekick Simon in gaffer tape and improvising a shotgun holster out of a kitchen roll holder that leaves the hapless Simon with a shotgun pointed almost permanently at his head. “It’s pretty undignifying for the character/actor,” laughs Key. “Well, I can’t speak for the character, but I know the actor pretty well, and it’s horrible. There’s a lot of duct tape.”

However, it was also a major point for the Partridge Brain Trust that Pat was a sympathetic character. “The baddie isn’t the man with the gun,” says Coogan. “It’s the big, multinational media organization that only cares about the bottom line, and ultimately lacks humanity. And what Colm did incredibly well was he grounded the film. He helped stop it being childish or fanciful. He was able to marry being a danger and being unstable, and make you feel sorry for him. It’s a very difficult thing to achieve.”

Initially, Alan is not involved in the siege, but as Pat considers Alan to be his only ally at the station, he requests that Alan be brought in as a mediator. There’s just one small problem: Alan was responsible for Pat being fired in the first place, something he’s keen doesn’t come to light…

“The thing with Alan is that he’s the nature of his own undoing,” laughs Iannucci. “We’ve given him the chance to do that in a slightly bigger way.”

That bigger way, though, didn’t extend to the locations. When Dubai, or another similarly exotic locale, was taken off the table, it gave Coogan and his collaborators a chance to root Alan and the action in Norwich, Partridge’s home town. “We wanted Norfolk,” says Coogan. “We wanted the locations to be distinct. Norfolk, even topographically, is a very distinct county. If you see something shot in Norfolk countryside, you only need to see it for a few seconds to recognize it because of the nature of the landscape. They have big skies, almost like African skies. And we wanted to make the location a character in the film. It’s not London, it’s Norwich.”

However, much of the filming was confined to London, as the majority of the film takes place at Shape HQ, for which the production team took over an empty office building in Mitcham and turned it into a fully working radio station, complete with recording booths, reception area, technical areas and green rooms. But when the action eventually moves from Shape to the streets of Norwich, as Pat and Alan embark on a low-speed car chase that ends up at Cromer Pier, Partridge wound up coming home to a rapturous reception. “They find it celebratory and think that I’m one of theirs,” says Coogan of Alan’s homecoming. “That part of England has an otherness, a slight disconnect. You don’t pass through Norwich to get anywhere, and that’s why we chose it for the character. There’s an isolation to the city.”

Writing Alan

When Peter Baynham returned home to America, front-line writing duties on what was then known simply as The Alan Partridge Movie fell to Coogan, Iannucci and the Gibbons brothers. Locking themselves away in a writers’ room, they soon discovered that transplanting Alan to the big screen wasn’t going to be without its challenges.

“It’s that thing of taking a big TV character onto the silver screen,” admits Rob Gibbons. “It has to be true to the movie genre, but also true to the character that people know from TV.”

“A film has to be a story, first and foremost, whereas a sitcom has to be character first and foremost,” adds Neil Gibbons. “We knew it wasn’t a betrayal of the Alan Partridge legacy to impose a bigger story than people would be used to, because that was the only way it would survive as a film.”

And so Alpha Papa, although largely contained to one location, is bigger than any previous iteration of Alan. There’s a car chase (slow), an explosion (small), and gunplay (of sorts), as Alan Partridge becomes an action hero. “Well, I wouldn’t say an action hero,” smiles Coogan. “He’s a coward. But we wanted to take familiar cues and subvert them, or invert them, or reinvent them. Alan would consider himself an all-action guy, but we all know that he isn’t. In his head, he thinks he’s capable of things, but he’s not. People secretly think, what would it be like if I was brave and adept and skillful? It’s an adolescent fantasy.”

Team Partridge were also keen to take advantage of the opportunity afforded by a movie, with its longer running time and three-act structure, and deepen the Partridge character considerably. “We built that into Places Of My Life,” says Neil Gibbons, “because it was an hour long, and you can’t just play comedy comedy comedy all the time. It gets a bit one-note, so you need to look inside the characters. Alan has low points here, and he has to look inwardly at himself, which he’s not traditionally comfortable with.”

Alan’s dilemma in Alan Partridge stems from the guilty knowledge of his involvement in Pat’s sacking, as well as the temptation of the big time, as his participation in the siege makes him something of a headline figure once more. “There’s a story just below the surface of the movie where Alan gets to make a moral choice, which isn’t always the case for him,” says Kevin Loader. “The plot involves a Darwinian businessman, and Alan has the opportunity to throw his hand in with the wealth-creating bastard class. He’s offered that choice very clearly at a key moment of the film: one of the things Steve was keen to do was to make sure the film has emotional heft as well as great gags.”

As Alan Partridge begins, in fact, Alan is happier than he’s been for quite a while. He’s driving a brand new car from a well-known sponsor, he’s come through a Toblerone-fuelled midlife crisis and out the other side relatively unscathed. “He’s a DJ, he’s in Norwich, he’s in his mid-50s, everything is alright,” says Coogan. “We want people to think that Alan’s minding his own business and getting on with it. The hair’s a bit longer, he’s starting to think of himself as a little bit hipper. There’s a certain woman he may still be able to charm. He hasn’t thrown in the towel by any means.”

This iteration of Partridge, while still being recognizably Alan, is perhaps the most well-rounded version of the character that Coogan has played in his association with the character. “We’ve constructed it to show Alan being bullish, big-headed, egotistical, but also, at heart, being flawed but decent. You want people to like him and care about him, or you can’t sustain a film.”

With another series of Mid-Morning Matters due to come after Alan Partridge, it’s clear that Coogan still has enormous affection for Partridge; that the well is far from dry. “In some ways, it’s the easiest acting job I do, because I’ve spent 20 years researching the character,” he says. “When I go into doing Alan it’s like putting on an old jacket. It’s very comfortable for me. I still think he’s funny. When I watch takes back and watch myself as Alan, I laugh, but I don’t feel I’m laughing at myself, I’m laughing at a character… that I happen to perform!”

Coogan admits to having the final veto in the scripting process (“I can say no to anything because they can’t make someone physically say something!” he laughs), but the writing process on Alpha Papa is a very democratic one. Over the last few years, the Gibbons, especially, have become known as the arbiters of Alan, the keepers of the Partridge flame. “It’s not something you can teach,” says Iannucci. “Steve and I have been doing Alan for about 20 years. But the thing with Neil and Rob is that they get it. They can just slip into Alan with ease. You find with other writers who try Alan that they do a parody of Alan and his various traits are exaggerated, but Neil and Rob pitch it just right and they’re very good at keeping it real and not pitching him into too absurd a situation.”

Speaking of absurd situations, it transpires that when Team Partridge are writing together, the brothers Gibbons and Iannucci quite often end up saying prospective Alan lines in the voice of Alan… with the man who is Alan sitting just feet away. “I can’t commit to it because Steve’s sat there,” he says. “You can’t do an impression of someone who does the voice himself. Armando really commits to it, though.” Iannucci, whose Partridge has more than a tinge of a Scottish brogue, laughs. “You have to go into Alan mode, and then it splurges out. But it’s not like we’re auditioning to permanently replace Steve,” he says. “Steve is the best at it.”

The writing staff were rounded out by Graham Duff, who provided some useful script editing notes throughout the production, helping Steve and the Gibbons keep track of the narrative arc whilst they finessed dialogue and the finer points of the script.

Alan Partridge Movie Poster

Alan Partridge

Directed by: Declan Lowney
Starring: Steve Coogan, Colm Meaney, Sean Pertwee, Anna Maxwell Martin, Jessica Knappet
Screenplay by: Peter Baynham, Steve Coogan, Neil Gibbons, Rob Gibbons
Production Design by: Dick Lunn
Cinematography by: Ben Smithard
Film Editing by: Mark Everson
Costume Design by: Julian Day
Set Decoration by: Anna Kasabova
Art Direction by: Andrea Matheson
Music by: Ilan Eshkeri
MPAA Rating: R for language, brief violence and nudity.
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
Release Date: April 4, 2014

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Rio 2

Rio 2 Movie

Taglines: Tagliness: She’s exotic, he’s chaotic.

Rio 2 is an American 3D computer-animated musical adventure-comedy film produced by Blue Sky Studios and directed by Carlos Saldanha. It is the sequel to the 2011 computer-animated film Rio and the studio’s first film to have a sequel outside of their existing Ice Age franchise. The title refers to the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, where the first film was set and Rio 2 begins in the Amazon rainforest.

Featuring the returning voices of Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, will.i.am, Jamie Foxx, George Lopez, Tracy Morgan, Jemaine Clement, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, and Jake T. Austin, the film was released internationally on March 20, 2014, and on April 11, 2014, in American theaters. Rio 2 was Don Rhymer’s final film after he died on November 28, 2012. Despite receiving mixed reviews, the film was a box office success, earning over $496 million.

The entire cast of the animated smash RIO returns in RIO 2, and they are joined by a new flock of top actors and musical talents. Rich with grandeur, character, color and music, RIO 2 finds Jewel (Anne Hathaway), Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) and their three kids leaving their domesticated life in that magical city for a journey to the Amazon. They encounter a menagerie of characters who are born to be wild, voiced by Oscar nominee Andy Garcia, Oscar / Emmy / Tony-winner Rita Moreno, Grammy winner Bruno Mars, and Tony winner Kristin Chenoweth.

Rio 2 Movie Poster

Rio 2

Directed by: Carlos Saldanha
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Rita Moreno, Rodrigo Santoro, Leslie Mann, Jesse Eisenberg, Jamie Foxx, Kristin Chenoweth, John Leguizamo, Amandla Stenberg
Screenplay by: Don Rhymer, Carlos Saldanha
Cinematography by: Renato Falcão
Film Editing by: Harry Hitner, Randy Trager
Set Decoration by: Isaac Holze
Music by: John Powell
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: April 11, 2014

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Oculus

Oculus Movie - Karen Gillan

Taglines: You see what it wants you to see.

Ten years ago, tragedy struck the Russell family, leaving the lives of teenage siblings Tim and Kaylie forever changed when Tim was convicted of the brutal murder of their parents. Now in his 20s, Tim is newly released from protective custody and only wants to move on with his life; but Kaylie, still haunted by that fateful night, is convinced her parents’ deaths were caused by something else altogether: a malevolent supernatural force­­ unleashed through the Lasser Glass, an antique mirror in their childhood home.

Determined to prove Tim’s innocence, Kaylie tracks down the mirror, only to learn similar deaths have befallen previous owners over the past century. With the mysterious entity now back in their hands, Tim and Kaylie soon find their hold on reality shattered by terrifying hallucinations, and realize, too late, that their childhood nightmare is beginning again.

Oculus is an American supernatural horror film directed by Mike Flanagan. The movie had its world premiere on September 8, 2013, at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, and received a wide theatrical release on April 11, 2014. The film stars Karen Gillan as a young woman who is convinced that an antique mirror is responsible for the death and misfortune her family has suffered. The film is based upon an earlier short film by Flanagan, Oculus: Chapter 3 – The Man with the Plan.

Oculus Movie

About the Story

The film takes place in two different times: the present and 11 years earlier. The two plotlines are told in parallel through flashbacks.

In 2002, software engineer Alan Russell moves into a new house with his wife Marie, 10-year-old son Tim, and 12-year-old daughter Kaylie. Alan purchases an antique mirror to decorate his office. Unbeknownst to them the mirror is supernatural and malevolent and induces hallucinations in both adults; Marie is haunted by visions of her own body decaying, while Alan is seduced by a ghostly woman named Marisol, who has mirrors in place of eyes.

Over time, the parents become psychotic, with Alan increasingly isolating himself in his office and Marie becoming withdrawn and paranoid. During the same period, all of the plants in the house die and the family dog disappears after being locked in the office with the mirror. After Kaylie witnesses Alan interacting with Marisol and tells her mother, Marie goes insane and attempts to kill her children. Alan overpowers her and chains her to their bedroom wall.

Alan remains isolated in his office for an indeterminate period of time; when the family runs out of food, the children attempt to seek help from their neighbors, who disbelieve their stories. Attempting to contact doctors or the authorities, Kaylie discovers that all of her phone calls are answered by the same man, who admonishes her to speak with her father.

Oculus Movie

One night, Alan unchains Marie, and both parents attack the children. Marie briefly comes to her senses, only to be shot dead by Alan. Alan corners the children in his office, but also experiences a moment of lucidity, during which he forces Tim to shoot him to death. The police arrive and take Tim into custody. Before the siblings are separated, they promise to reunite as adults and destroy the mirror. As Tim is taken away in the back of a squad car he sees the ghosts of his parents watching him from the house.

Eleven years later, Tim is discharged from a psychiatric hospital, having come to believe that there were no supernatural events involved in his parents’ deaths. Kaylie, meanwhile, has spent most of her young adulthood researching the history of the mirror, obsessively documenting the lives and deaths of everyone who’s ever owned it. Using her position as an employee of an auction house, Kaylie obtains access to the mirror and has it transported to the family home, where she places it in a room filled with surveillance cameras and a “kill switch”—an anchor weighted to the ceiling and set to a timer. Kaylie intends to destroy the mirror but first wants to document its powers proving its supernatural nature and thus vindicate her family.

Tim joins Kaylie at the house and attempts to convince his sister that she’s rationalized their parents’ deaths as being caused by an external force, in order to avoid facing the truth. The siblings argue for the duration of the evening until they find that the cameras in the room have inexplicably moved; reviewing the video, they realize that the mirror induced them to rearrange the contents of the room without their knowledge.

Tim finally accepts that the mirror does have some diabolical power and attempts to escape the house with Kaylie, only for the pair to be repeatedly drawn back by the mirror’s influence. Trying to call the police for help, they are only able to reach the same voice who spoke to them on the phone as children. Kaylie accidentally kills her fiancé who she mistakes for a hallucination of her deceased mother and later sees his ghostly figure having mirrors for eyes. The pair begin to hallucinate and experience visions of everyone killed by the mirror, who all appear as ghostly figures with mirrors in place of their eyes.

Oculus Movie Poster

Oculus

Directed by: Mike Flanagan
Starring: Katee Sackhoff, Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, James Lafferty, Rory Cochrane
Screenplay by: Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard, Jeff Seidman
Production Design by: Russell Barnes
Cinematography by: Michael Fimognari
Film Editing by: Mike Flanagan
Costume Design by: Lynn Falconer
Set Decoration by: Michelle Marchand
Art Direction by: Elizabeth Boller
Music by: The Newton Brothers
MPAA Rating: R for terror, violence, some disturbing images and brief language.
Studio: Relativity Media
Release Date: April 11, 2014

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Cesar Chavez

Cesar Chavez Movie

Taglines: History is made one step at a time.

Chronicling the birth of a modern American movement, Cesar Chavez tells the story of the famed civil rights leader and labor organizer torn between his duties as a husband and father and his commitment to securing a living wage for farm workers. Passionate but soft-spoken, Chavez embraced non-violence as he battled greed and prejudice in his struggle to bring dignity to people. Chavez inspired millions of Americans from all walks of life who never worked on a farm to fight for social justice. His triumphant journey is a remarkable testament to the power of one individual’s ability to change the world.

In Cesar Chavez, director Diego Luna presents a powerful cinematic portrait of the legendary activist. The film stars Michael Peña (End of Watch, Lionsgate’s Academy Award-winning Crash) in the title role, along with America Ferrera (Ugly Betty, End of Watch), Rosario Dawson (Sin City, Seven Pounds) and John Malkovich (In The Line of Fire, Summit Entertainment’s Red and Red 2).

About Cesar Chavez

From the 1950s through 1993, when he died, Chavez worked as a community organizer and fought for improved working conditions for California farm workers. The Mexican-American co-founded the National Farm Workers Assn., which later became the United Farm Workers union, and campaigned to prevent illegal immigration from undermining unionization efforts.

Chavez’s birthday, March 31, is celebrated as a state holiday in several states, including California and Texas, and he was awarded the U.S. Medal of Freedom posthumously in 1994. In 2006, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger inducted him into the state’s hall of fame.

Cesar Chavez Movie Poster

Cesar Chavez

Directed by: Diego Luna
Starring: Gabriel Mann, Rosario Dawson, John Malkovich, Michael Peña, America Ferrera
Screenplay by: Keir Pearson, Timothy J. Sexton
Production Design by: Ivonne Fuentes, Krystyna Loboda
Cinematography by: Enrique Chediak
Film Editing by: Douglas Crise, Miguel Schverdfinger
Costume Design by: María Estela Fernández
Set Decoration by: Robert Wischhusen-Hayes
Music by: Michael Brook
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence and language.
Studio: Lionsgate Films
Release Date: March 28, 2014

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A Hijacking

A Hijacking Movie

The cargo ship MV Rozen is heading for harbor when it is hijacked by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean. Amongst the men on board are the ship’s cook Mikkel (Pilou Asbæk) and the engineer Jan (Roland Møller), who along with the rest of the seamen are taken hostage in a cynical game of life and death. With the demand for a ransom of millions of dollars a psychological drama unfolds between the CEO of the shipping company (Søren Malling) and the Somali pirates.

A Hijacking (Danish: Kapringen) is a Danish thriller film written and directed by Tobias Lindholm about a ship hijacking. Johan Philip Asbæk and Søren Malling star as a cook taken hostage and the CEO that attempts to negotiate for his release, respectively. It premiered at the 69th Venice International Film Festival.

Director’s Statement

Before I was born my father was a seaman, but he never spoke to me about it. Maybe that is why the sea has always been on my mind. With the hijackings of the Danish-owned freighters DANICA WHITE and CEC FUTURE in 2007 and 2008, I became aware of a reality that I did not know existed. A reality where shipping companies are forced to negotiate directly with pirates. A reality where pirates earn millions of dollars and a reality where seamen are held hostage for months without any influence on their own fate.

I couldn’t make a film about the truth of the hijackings in the Indian Ocean, because I don’t believe that truth exists. But I could make a film about seamen, pirates, CEOs and relatives. Because they do exist. And if A HIJACKING feels like it is about them, then I am very close to my goal. – Tobias Lindholm, Copenhagen 2012

A Hijacking Movie Poster

A Hijacking

Directed by: Tobias Lindholm
Starring: Pilou Asbæk, Søren Malling, Dar Salim, Linda Laursen, Pilou Asb, Amelie Ihle Alstrup
Screenplay by: Tobias Lindholm
Production Design by: Thomas Greve
Cinematography by: Magnus Nordenhof Jønck
Film Editing by: Adam Nielsen
Music by: Hildur Guðnadóttir
MPAA Rating: R for language.
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
Release Date: June 14, 2014

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At Middleton

At Middleton Movie

Two strangers meet on their children’s campus tour at the idyllic Middleton College. Failing comically to connect with their kids, George and Edith play hooky together, ditching the official tour for a carefree adventure reminiscent of their own college years. But what begins as an afternoon of fun soon becomes a revealing and enlightening experience that will change their lives forever.

At Middleton is an American romantic comedy film directed by Adam Rodgers and starring Vera Farmiga, Andy García, Taissa Farmiga, and Spencer Lofranco. Written by Glenn German and Adam Rodgers, the film is about a man and a woman who meet and fall in love while taking their children on a college tour. The film premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival on May 17, 2013. It was released in a limited release and through video on demand providers on January 31, 2014 in the United States.

About The Production

Years ago, when director / co-writer Adam Rodgers was on a tour of colleges with his father, he met a girl whose quirky exuberance absolutely captivated him. So much so, he followed her off the tour and together, they spent a few hours alone wandering the campus and bonding over their shared experience. It always felt like the seed of a movie, but then there was a key “what if” moment. What if it were the two parents who left the tour and shared a magical few hours together? Five years later, Andy Garcia and Vera Farmiga beautifully brought to life “George Hartman” and “Edith Martin,” two wildly different personalities whose paths cross at idyllic Middleton College.

At Middleton Movie

It was crucial to find just the right setting that could serve as a backdrop to this unexpected romance, and the filmmakers found what they were looking for in Eastern Washington. Gonzaga College in Spokane, and Washington State University in Pullman have been seamlessly stitched together to create the fictional Middleton. North by Northwest Productions, a full-service production company located in Spokane, was also instrumental in bringing the film to Washington. “It really is one-stop shopping,” says co-writer and producer Glenn German. “Having produced nearly 40 movies over the last ten or so years, they have or have access to every resource you could possibly need to realize your vision as filmmakers.”

In addition to playing the lead, Andy Garcia also came on board as a producer and was instrumental in attracting several key creatives. Director of Photography Emmanuel Kadosh served as cinematographer on two previous Garcia projects, Modigliani and The Lost City. His commitment to the use of natural light was a perfect fit for the film set on campus. Composing the score for the film is jazz legend Arturo Sandoval. Garcia played Sandoval in the HBO film The Arturo Sandoval Story, and Sandoval won an Emmy for that film’s score.

Producer Sig Libowitz, a former executive at Good Machine, Film Four and Paramount, was well-versed in navigating the world of independent filmmaking. Glenn and Adam’s screenplay was the key. The honesty and humanity of their story and characters attracted Andy, Vera and everyone else to the movie – which was vital since we were indie-financed. Everyone pulled together and created a close and collegial set, which helped allow the romance to come to life.”

Having only twenty days to shoot a behavioral feature film can be daunting, but Rodgers had a very specific vision about what he wanted the movie to be. Within the framework of the story, he allowed the actors freedom to fully realize these multi-dimensional characters. “I still have a 20 year-old piece of scratch paper from NYU, something someone told me about directing – ‘Drive the car, but with a loose grip on the wheel.’ You can’t storyboard chemistry, and having the kind of acting talent we were lucky enough to attract made my job a pleasure.”

At Middleton Movie Poster

At Middleton

Directed by: Adam Rodgers
Starring: Andy Garcia, Vera Farmiga, Taissa Farmiga, Spencer Lofranco, Peter Rieger, Tom Skerritt, Mirjana Jokovic, Daniella Garcia-Lorido
Screenplay by: Glenn German, Adam Rodgers
Production Design by: Vincent DeFelice
Cinematography by: Emmanuel Kadosh
Film Editing by: Suzy Elmiger
Costume Design by: Lisa Caryl-Vukas
Set Decoration by: Debbie Dahlstrom
Music by: Arturo Sandoval
MPAA Rating: R for drug use and brief sexuality.
Studio: Anchor Bay Films
Release Date: January 31, 2014

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Gloria

Gloria Movie

A story set in Santiago and centered on Gloria, a free-spirited older woman, and the realities of her whirlwind relationship with a former naval officer whom she meets out in the clubs.

Gloria is a “woman of a certain age” but still feels young. Though lonely, she makes the best of her situation and fills her nights seeking love at social dance clubs for single adults. Her fragile happiness changes the day she meets Rodolfo. Their intense passion, to which Gloria gives her all, leaves her vacillating between hope and despair — until she uncovers a new strength and realizes that, in her golden years, she can shine brighter than ever.

Gloria is Chile’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards, and stars Paulina Garcia in a tour de force performance that captured the Silver Bear Best Actress Award at this year’s Berlin Film Festival.

Interview with Sebastian Lelio

How did the idea of making this film and telling the story of Gloria come about?

Gloria arises from the question of whether there could be a film about the world of women from my mother’s generation, and what this film would be like. It comes from the intuition that a film can sometimes be closer than you think, sometimes even just a few feet away. I wanted to infiltrate this generation’s unknown planet and see what happened there.

There is something moving about these women approaching their 60s who transit through Santiago, Chile, today. Women who fight to find their place in a world that treats them with harshness, who sing in the car, who have been left somewhat on their own, for whom no one has too much time, and that, in spite of the years that have passed, refuse to give up and want to keep on feeling, dancing and living. The film reclaims that right, and it does so from the fascination with an endearing woman who is clinging on to life with her teeth and nails.

The soundtrack plays an important role in the film. What was the music selection process like?

Gloria is a film about feelings. And music (for what can have more feeling than music?) constitutes a central element in this tale, working almost as a Greek choir, constantly contaminating the story. At the same time, the characters express themselves through music, making the emotions of the songs that they listen, sing or dance to their very own, unconsciously commenting on their own lives, as if the music were a mirror of their own processes and dilemmas.

The film’s soundtrack belongs to Gloria’s generation. It contains songs that range from worldwide hits to Latin American and Chilean cult songs. There are some disco tunes, as well as boleros, romantic ballads, salsas, cumbias, some rock’n’roll and one bossa nova: “Waters of March” by Tom Jobim. This last song is very special to me because it was one of the guides that led me to find the final tone for the film. I aimed for Gloria to have something from bossa nova: a poetic of everyday life, a painful sort of levity, a certain natural charm, a little humor and a little pain, but above all, humanity and emotion.

How does Gloria relate to your previous films?

I think that Gloria is the natural consequence of my three previous films. It’s a larger production, with more characters and more locations, but it insists upon worlds that I have explored before, and enquires, from a new perspective, into certain thematic and formal searches that I have developed before in La Sagrada Familia, Navidad and El ano del tigre: the insistent observation of characters going though an evolutionary crossroads; family as a sacred trap; the interest in the tension that exists between person and character; and the conviction that film is a face-on battle.

How would you define the experience with the film’s actors?

Gloria is a character film. Paulina Garcia, the leading actress, was always at the heart of the project. The film was written to her measure. Her counterpart is Sergio Hernandez, an actor that I greatly admire and whom I have gotten to know filming. Both are powerful and magnetic actors, which made things quite a lot easier.

Starting from the basis that if the screenplay is the map, the shooting is the territory (we worked on the screenplay for two years), we generated a set with space for improvisation so that the actors would be compelled to resort to their own intimacies in order to resolve each scene. This allowed for unconscious elements to emanate, material that had “its own laws”, and that finally infected the screenplay with a new strength and ended up becoming the narration’s essence.

Gloria Movie Poster

Gloria

Directed by: Christian Keller
Starring: Marco Pérez, Osvaldo Ríos, Magali Boysselle, Estefania Villarreal, Ximena Romo, Tatiana del Real
Screenplay by: Sabina Berman
Production Design by: Julieta Álvarez
Cinematography by: Martín Boege
Film Editing by: Adriana Martínez, Patricia Rommel
Costume Design by: Gilda Navarro
Set Decoration by: Martha Camarillo, Roberto Revilla
Music by: Lorne Balfe
MPAA Rating: None.
Studio: Roadside Attractions
Release Date: October 20. 2014 (Mexico)

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