Tag Archives: movie

Take Me Back to Mars

The much anticipated, entirely fan-funded, Veronica Mars movie is sure to please the “Marshmallows” out there.

The TV series ‘Veronica Mars” ran from 2004-2007, a three-season run, before it was cancelled. The series starred Kristen Bell (“Parks and Recreation,”  the anonymous voice in “Gossip Girl”) as a sassy teenage private eye, a la Nancy Drew…but much cooler. Mars and her group of outlier friends worked to solve crimes in the fictional town of Neptune, CA—a town with a serious class divide; a town where celebrities and their kids clash with the working-class. This divide is the catalyst for many crimes Mars has to solve.

Continue reading

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

“Nebraska”: A Successful Black and White Midwestern Film of 2013

Watching “Nebraska,” the new film from director Alexander Payne, is a bit like flying home to visit your family at Christmas. You’ll laugh, you’ll get weepy, you’ll love till it hurts, and you’ll probably — more than once — feel an intense desire to punch someone in the face. “Nebraska,” in short, takes every emotion and experience of a family get-together and paints them liberally, with both Midwestern grit and artistic nuance, into a breezy 110-minute film. It’s deliriously good.

The film stars acting legend Bruce Dern (you may recognize him from a brutal cameo in “Django Unchained”) as Woody Grant, a crotchety, increasingly senile old man on a mission: to get from Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska in order to claim $1 million from one of those bogus sweepstake ads. Along the way, he visits his rapidly disappearing hometown in addition to his equally antiquated extended family. Dern carries the film with equal parts hardheaded swagger and fragile vulnerability: a role that truly shows his talents as an actor. Dern won a well-deserved Palm d’Or, the highest prized award, at the Cannes Film Festival for his performance. I’ll be shocked if he isn’t considered an Oscar frontrunner.

Despite his lofty win, Dern spoke humbly about his achievement as a reflection of the entire film, praising writer Bob Nelson’s script: “The French — they got it, which surprised me because they’re reading subtitles…You just do the story; the story’s on the page.”

The film is shot in black and white, which, although probably not essential, does give the viewer the sense of the stark, disappearing Midwest.

The film also stars Will Forte as David Grant, Woody’s youngest son, who agrees to drive him to Nebraska. Forte, best known for his wacky characters and impersonations on “Saturday Night Live,” proves that he is perfectly capable of providing some seriousness. His performance is completely genuine, and I look forward to seeing more of him in similar roles.

Fortunately, despite getting teased from Dern (“He’s out in Cloudy with Meatballs Part Two — I mean, how dramatic do you want him to be?”), Forte seemed enthusiastic about this change of pace for his career. “I’m really so proud to be in this movie. I would love to have more opportunities like this,” said Forte.

The supporting cast is top notch as well. June Squibb plays Kate Grant — Woody’s wife and David’s mother — a foul-mouthed, miserably married woman dealing with Woody’s dementia and pig-headedness. Squibb is a true, live wire.

Stacy Keach also makes a memorable appearance as the scheming Ed Peagram, Woody’s old business partner. Despite acting pleasant and pleased for Woody, Peagram quickly takes advantage of him, trying to weasel out a cut of the money. When asked if either of them had experienced a similar kind of pressure, Forte and Dern had differing responses. Forte complimented his friends and explained his growing ability to choose the right people with whom to spend time: “I have a wonderful group of friends. You just kind of evolve as a friend-chooser.” Dern, however, has gotten plenty of requests. “Can you get me an interview with him? Can I meet Jack [Nicholson]? They press their advantage.” Dern also admitted, with a wry smile, of being “just as much a whore as anybody.” He once crossed off Harry Dean Stanton’s name from a casting director’s register and put his own name down, taking Stanton’s prime 3 o’clock slot.

Overall, “Nebraska” is excellent at creating comedy out of everyday family experiences. Nothing feels forced and most of the jokes are simple — the kind of thing that would naturally happen and cause a quick giggle to ripple across a dinner table. (You couldn’t keep a straight face if you heard a karaoke version of “In the Ghetto” at a cheap steakhouse, could you?) The obvious contrast between Woody’s sons and his Nebraskan relatives also provides some of the funniest moments in the film, as does Woody’s increasingly poor ability to pay attention.

The film is shot in black and white, which, although probably not essential, does give the viewer the sense of the stark, disappearing Midwest. It also contributes to the difficult relationship between Woody and his son. Alexander Payne’s film is very nuanced, with nearly every shot set up to provide artistic or emotional depth. It is a graceful film, full of warmth and heart, and one that anyone could and should enjoy.

Rating: ★★★★★

Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures

“Jane Eyre” Not Just For Literature Fans

Many girls admire the character of Jane Eyre from the famous novel by Charlotte Bronte—she’s strong-willed, driven, and faces her fears. Jane Eyre says in the novel: “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will.”

The spirit of Jane Eyre carries into the most recent adaption of the movie, which has been done thirty or so times before, according to director Cary Fukunaga.

Jane Eyre is a story about an orphan who becomes the governess to the child of the conflicted Mr. Rochester (Michael Fassbender- Inglorious Basterds, 300) and discovers a secret that could keep them apart.

Foghorn sat down with Australian-born actress Mia Wasikowska (The Kids are Alright; Alice in Wonderland) who plays Jane Eyre in the film and director Cary Fukunaga (Sin Nombre). Wasikowska wore a little red dress with her blond bob and customary light makeup. Fukunaga dressed smartly in a suit and green cap.

To Wasikowska, the film is “timeless.” Fukunaga did not feel the pressure to live up to the older films. He said, “I feel like it’s a tradition. It should be made every five years. This was my turn.”

Apparently, he avoided watching any other versions of the film, and still some similarities arose. The house that they filmed at in Northern England has already been used for four other Jane Eyre films as well as The Princess Bride. For Fukunaga, the hardest thing he faced was finding the “right balance”  between the mix of the romantic and gothic in the movie. It had to be one that “favored the relationship between Jane and Rochester.”

Issues other than similarities occurred during filming that Fukunaga had not anticipated. Wasikowska had about ten costumes and each costume change took an hour and half, according to the director. This way, “You lose a lot of shooting time,” he said. Also, according to Wasikowska, the corset she wears in the movie was “incredibly painful,” but added that “It helps understanding the restrictions that women faced.”

Mia Wasikowska, whose last movie (The Kids Are Alright) was nominated for Best Film at the Oscars, read the book before planning to do the film and she said, “I instantly connected to the book without really trying to.”

Wasikowska never had to read for the role, she simply had a conversation with Fukunaga, and it was hers. She didn’t know then that she had to learn a little French for her role, but accomplished it anyway.

Looking at the character, Wasikowska says she has a lot in common with Jane and feels like the character is relevant to anyone today. She says, “You have a main character who has original thoughts. She doesn’t want to disrespect herself. I think that’s a lesson for everyone.”

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Natalie Cappetta

Scene Editor: Tracy Sidler

Living With Leighton is a College Student’s Worst Nightmare:Living With Leighton is a College Student’s Worst Nightmare: The actress discusses preparing for her latest movie, “The Roommate”

Star Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl, Country Strong) takes the lead in what is sure to be one of this year’s scariest movies. The Roommate should prove to be extremely frightening in its content, but especially to us college students since the movie is all about living in a dorm with a new roommate who begins to go crazy. Some of us have been there, hopefully not as intensely as what is shown in the movie.

In the film, Leighton plays Rebecca who starts to obsess over her roommate Sara Matthews, played by Minka Kelly (Parenthood, (500) Days of Summer). From the trailer alone, it seems as though the movie will make the audience jump out of their seats. I wouldn’t be surprised if some shrieks were heard throughout theatres over The Roommate. Leighton sat down to answer some questions regarding her role—how she went about playing quite an insane character that becomes hard to shake off.

“A lot of people can relate to moving in with a complete stranger. Everyone has had a friend who feels they have a right to your feelings or clothes. I tried to portray someone with these qualities,” Leighton said. Either way you look at it, college is a scary time filled with new people, places, and situations. It is even scarier if you get stuck with a strange roommate. It’s enough to get high school seniors jittery about meeting their new roommates when it comes time for college.

Playing such an extreme character was not an easy thing to do for Leighton, even though she has had experiences with intense roommates in the past, at least the kind who would stay up all night partying. Still, she admits that getting into a character’s head that is suffering from deep mental instability is challenging.

She considers herself as having a “firm grip on reality.” “I tried to relate to her in some way, but that was hard for me to do because she unravels—she is sweet, a good friend at first, and then changes.” She went on to include, “Some of the things I had to do were really disturbing for me.”

As for preparation, Leighton believes she had an ample amount of time. She talked to psychologists and examined movies that were similar. What’s more, she likes the final product. “It’s funny that I’m what’s scary in the movie. It’s sexy, jarring, and disturbing and filming it was all these things. It stays with you.”

Contradictory to what develops in the movie, Leighton is good friends with Minka and loved working with her. From working on this movie and her real life experiences she advises, “It’s better if you are friends with your roommate. You know the habits of that other person.”

No matter how hard it is for actresses to delve into the minds of some bizarre characters, it can often be worth it in the end. Some amazing films have come out from such stresses. Of course, I am referring to such successes as Sissy Spacek in Carrie, Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, and Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct.
On top of that, there was the original The Roommate, which was called Single White Female. Could this new version prove to be better? Leighton believes, “It’s a ride.”

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Natalie Cappetta

Scene Editor: Tamar Kuyumjian

“Id:” A Feature Length Film by USF Students

It’s not everyday that the Red Vic on Haight Street will premiere a student-directed film, but that is exactly the reality for “Id,” a film directed and written by USF student Kevin Kunze, who claims he has been directing movies since he was seven. Kunze, who is a Media Studies major, has been writing “Id” since his freshman year at USF and can now finally bask in its completion in his senior year. The project began as a compilation of his dreams and random thoughts and grew into his first full-length film and senior thesis. It will premiere at the Red Vic for a free screening at 4 p.m. on Nov. 19, conveniently coinciding with his twenty-first birthday.

“Id” tells the story of four friends living out their final days underground in a fallout shelter. The world above them has turned to madness and anarchy. Out of the terrible isolation and straining thoughts of the future they begin to go crazy in their confinements.

With a cast of five, four of which are USF students, and a crew of eight, three of which are USF students, Kunze has really pulled his resources in creating his full-length film. In fact, Melinda Stone, the director of Film Studies at USF has taken on the Executive Producer position. Kevin Epps, the other Executive Producer, helped get the movie noticed at the Red Vic. Kunze also found a professional studio in Soma called Sir Studio with the help of two San Francisco artists, Justin Mussman and Austin Becker. Jimmy Buffett uses the same studio during the day. The music for “Id” is vastly different from Buffett’s; however, the movie definitely features dark, eerie sounds.

The USF students involved in the production include: Dylan Wittrock playing Adam Kadmon; Ava Madison Riley playing Lilith Kadmon; Maria Luna Garcia playing Maya Deimos; Zachary Rich playing Curtis Kunstler; and Chet Bentley, Dennis Walker and Brittany Rowles on the production team.

Kunze has high hopes for his independent film. He plans to enter the final product into several film festivals, covering local ones such as SF International and Cinequest as well as the “big ones” including Sundance, Venice and Cannes film festivals. However, Kunze admits, “That’s the tricky thing about being an independent filmmaker these days. You have to set up a website, Facebook group, and try to get the word across.”

“I won’t tell you what the message is, that’s why I made the movie,” Kunze said. For Kunze, showing human emotions through the film is his biggest goal. “If you make the emotions big, you don’t need elaborate settings or props.”

For “Id,” he believes there is a “timeless feel” to the whole story. Kunze likes to look at examples of bad movies to see what the director did wrong, and learn from those mistakes. The example he gave was “Alice in Wonderland.” Kunze commented, “I wanted to rent it to see how bad it really was. You can learn a lot by checking out bad examples.”

The process of filming “Id” took about a year. Kunze pointed out that films such as “Black Swan,” directed by Darren Aronofsky, took nine years to organize and then was filmed in forty to forty-five days. “So many things can go wrong. Every day is a compromise. I feel it’s near the final product. It’s a child. It’s never truly finished. But in the end, you have to be satisfied,” said Kunze of the process. “One time,” he said, “we were shooting in an alleyway by Loyola Village and someone called the cops on us. Thankfully the cops understood. That was a hazardous day.”

Even though his first feature film has not premiered yet, Kunze is already thinking about his future films. “Next I’m doing a comedy,” he laughed. He would love to switch methods up and escape from so much drama for a while. “I would love to do a book adaptation, and work further with Kevin Epps,” he said.

Dylan Wittrock, a sophomore at USF and the lead character, said of the experience: “Actually getting shown at the Red Vic is a surreal feeling. I haven’t seen the whole thing put together yet, so I get to be surprised at the premiere.”

Wittrock, who has performed in other student films before said, “This is the most extensive movie I have been in.”

When asked how it was working with Kunze, Wittrock said, “Kevin put it all together. He fought for this movie. He knows what he wants. Sometimes organizing stuff is difficult, but it’s fun to work with him. He would ask my opinion on a lot of stuff.”

His role in “Id” was demanding in new ways.

Wittrock said, “I had to show a lot without dialogue at some points. I had to show emotion without overacting. It’s a challenging process.” Despite the “challenges,” Wittrock said he “got really into the character.”

With all the hard work put into “Id,” there should be a line waiting to get into the Red Vic on Nov. 19 at 4 p.m. There will be a raffle and donations taken at the premiere to support the independent film.

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Burke McSwain

Scene: Tamar Kuyumjian

Steve Carell and Tina Fey team up in the action comedy Date Night

When a “boring couple from New Jersey” tries to spice up their love life by going to dinner in the city, exciting and dangerous events ensue and they rekindle their love. Before, they went to the same restaurant on date night after long days at work, and either talked about their kids or made fun of other couples in the room. They want their next date night to be different and they definitely get a change of pace. As soon as they arrive at a popular restaurant in Manhattan, they steal a reservation, which leads to a case of mistaken identity. Phil and Claire Foster, believed to be thieves Mr. and Mrs. Triplehorn, must escape the villains who are posing as cops.

Steve Carell (The Office; Get Smart; Evan Almighty) and Tina Fey (30 Rock; Saturday Night Live; Mean Girls) make the perfect duo. Today’s king and queen of comedy have hysterical chemistry in their makeshift marriage. They would be perfect for each other in real life.

Yes, this is a love story, but not a chick flick. It has car chases with a pretty awesome ride. Guys and girls can get laughs out of this film, thanks mostly to Carell and Fey. Sweet, humorous and packed full of action, this movie will make couples laugh and not feel awkward at any point along the way.

Although the film starts out kind of slow with the couple going through their regular routines of the day like work and taking care of the kids, the action soon speeds the plot up and the situations the couple finds themselves in get more and more ridiculous. In fact, the action in this movie is far from the normal stunts and tricks in most Hollywood flicks. Soon enough the couple finds themselves in a car chase where their car is connected to a taxicab and they are racing down the street face to face.

Jocelyn Hall, a junior media studies major, rated the movie a 7.5 out of 10. “They took the cookie-cutter action movie formula and added comedy to it, in a true Carell and Fey way. I recommend it as a cute little date movie,” she said.