Category: Interviews

Skinford

One of the highlights of the Monster Fest Travelling Sideshow being held in Sydney this week is the world premiere of new Australian horror/thriller Skinford. Dave Griffiths chats to Skinford’s director Nik Kacevski about where the concept for the film came from and how he went about slecting his two magnificent leads.

You can listen to or download our Nic Kacevski interview right here.

 

Tickets for The Monster Fest Travelling Sideshow are on sale now at: 
Event Cinemas George Street
505-525 George St, Sydney Australia
+61 (0)2 9273 7300
https://www.eventcinemas.com.au/Cinema/George-Street/EventsFestivals/MonsterfestTravellingSideshow#cinemas=15
http://www.monsterfest.com.au/events/monster-fest-travelling-sideshow

Single Session Tickets: Adult $21 / Concession $17.50
5 Film Multi-Pass: Adult $82.50 / Concession $71.50
10 Film VIP Pass: Adult $132 / Concession $110

The Great Wall

One of the most surprising films in cinemas at the moment has to be The Great Wall. When you consider that a studio took amazing director Yimou Zhang, who brought the world films like House Of Flying Daggers and Curse Of The Golden Flowers and then gave the reigns to direct what is pretty much a big action monster film with a cast featuring Oscar winner Matt Damon, the Oscar-nominated Willem Dafoe and Asian actress Tian Jing who has recently made the cross into Hollywood films like Pacific Rim: Uprising and Kong: Skull Island.

With so many haters on the Internet asking how Western characters get caught up in a world of Asian battles Matt Damon is quick to explain. “We have heard about gunpowder, so we go in to try and steal it, but suddenly we arrive, and we see that there is this incredible army. We see that is extraordinary disciplined and they fight in a way that we have never seen before and we get swept up in the defence of the wall. My character was captured and raised in the Army at a very early age, and he knows nothing but war. He has fought for everybody, he doesn’t really fight for a flag he will fight for anybody that pays him, and he has a very cynical view of the world. He is an extremely capable fighter, as is his best friend Tovar (Pedro Pascal). Together they are a two-man wrecking crew. He and Tovar are pretty comfortable using any type of weapon. They have been in thousands of battles together, but William does prefer the bow. He has a bow that he uses, and he is a speed archer so he can fire multiple arrows very quickly basically from anywhere. So he is most comfortable with a bow in his hand. Tovar, his best friend, has two swords that he has collected in his travels and he is most comfortable fighting with a weapon in each hand, so they are pretty versatile fighters, that is what their deal is. When they get to the Wall, they’ve heard of it but never seen it before, but they see that it is above any feat of engineering that they could ever have imagined  and on top of the Wall and protecting the Wall is this army called The Nameless Order, this mythical Chinese Army that essentially lives and dies to defend the Wall. Eventually as they start to see the defence of the wall and they start to understand what is happening and why Tovar remains committed to our original plot to steal the black powder he thinks these people are crazy and they are all going to die so let’s take the gun powder, whereas William  for the first time sees that they may be something bigger than his own personal gain to fight for and he admires them in a way that he can’t even articulate.”

With the hater’s comments put to bed with that explanation, Damon turns to talking about just how impressed he was with the film’s director. “Yimou Zhang is one of the greatest filmmakers on the planet, and I have wanted to work with him for a long time and everything aligned. The stars aligned this time and I finally got a chance to work with him. It has been a real privilege for me and for all the actors, we all talk about that and even the crew members… we were all there for him. He paints on this extremely large canvas, and he does it in such a way that nobody ever has before or can. He uses cover and this sweeping scale of what he does. There are very few people who can do it and do do it.”

Appearing in the movie as Damon’s love interest is Tian Jing who plays Commander Lin Mae, and she is very quick, to sum up, her character. “ She is the Commander of the Army, and she is a woman of many virtues,” Jing explains. “She is strong, brave, reliable, determined and very daring. She has all the talent and wisdom needed to lead the entire Army. As the female General, she is the girl-power in the film which is dominated by male characters – she is the balance in this film. Lin Mae is part of this secret organisation that nobody knows about except for the Emperor. The duty of every soldier is to protect country’s people and to defend the Wall.”

Jing spends part of the movie hanging off the wall as director Yimou Zhang introduces a new form of acrobatic fighting to Hollywood so how hard was it for Jing to prepare for the role? “When I got the call to do this role production sent me to L.A. for training. I spent half a year training and studying including dialogue classes, stunt training, horse riding and physical training. It was a tough but memorable experience to prepare for this role. And then every day on set was like taking more acting classes, so I learned so much working with the director. He is a director that I ahve wanted to work with for so long, so it has been like a dream come true. I think that he is the pride of the Chinese film industry.”

Directors aside what was it like to work with such a talented cast? “It has been a pleasure to work with this cast,” she says. “It was great to work with Matt, Pedro and Willem, but especially Matt because we have a lot of scenes opposite each other. Over the months I learnt so much from him as we worked side-by-side. He is a true professional and a dedicated actor.”

The last piece of the puzzle is award winning actor Willem Dafoe who also loved working on the film. “Ballard is a character who has found himself trapped,” he says explaining his character. “He has been trapped with this military group in China on the Great Wall for twenty-five years. He arrived there with a caravan pretty much to do business, things didn’t work out, and he got stranded there. His colleagues didn’t make themselves as useful as he made himself, he made himself because he is a clever guy. So he’s found a way to survive among this Chinese cultural… this military culture.”

Despite working on big blockbusters previously, films like Spider-Man, Dafoe says he was blown way by the scale of The Great Wall. “They actually rebuilt a part of the wall,” he says wide-eyed. “To scale and study enough to hold a thousand people plus horses. It really was an amazing site to work on. I don’t think I have ever been on a production this grand before… the scale is enormous. The degree of detail is just fantastic and I think what’s nice about that is that it gives you the opportunity to… I guess it frees you up because it is a complete world. SO when you get on the set, there is none of this ‘oh you can’t go over there because that’s not really dressed properly.” You would go into a huge room to knock out a scene, and you could go anywhere. Ultimately it is a beautiful match of Chinese sensibility and Western sensibility, and that was the other really important thing about this film, that we made it in China, it’s a Chinese production with Westerners, and that is very exciting to me.”

 

The Great Wall is currently showing in cinemas

Logan2

Over the past twenty years comic book fans have had the immense pleasure of being able to watch nine films set in the X-Men universe (if you include the stand-alone Wolverine and Deadpool movies). For a generation of film goers now Australian actor Hugh Jackman is Wolverine while acclaimed actor Patrick Stewart has shared the role of Professor Charles Xavier with James McAvoy, who has played the younger version of the fearless leader in the newer films.

Now as the curtain falls on this world of mutants and heroes for Jackman and Stewart they team up with director James Mangold (who dipped into the franchise in 2013 with The Wolverine). The film has a much darker tone and this time is more graphic than its predecessors… something that has earned it an R-Rating from the classification board.

That ‘different’ tone is something that the man himself Hugh Jackman is only too happy to talk about. “I think the whole film feels different,” he says shifting his chair. ‘Tone, character wise it’s different to any of the others. And that was our goal, I didn’t want it to feel like the final chapter of a saga I wanted it to feel like a whole new, fresh thing. I wanted to stake some new ground. Logan in this film is more human… hence the title… he’s sick, his powers are dwindlering, he’s vulnerable, he’s also looking after an aging father-figure in Charles Xavier and hiding him out. He’s also under stress, he doesn’t have money – he’s a limo driver trying to earn enough bucks to get by and to buy the meds that Charles needs and he’s got a lot of very mundane, everyday stuff going on. But clearly he has checked out, he is at the bottom and so want James Mangold and James Frank did was kind of create a world for a character whose biggest fear is love and intimacy, because that only brings pain, but now he is surrounded by a family that is forced upon him.”

The new story brings about a whole new relationship between Logan (Wolverine) and Charles Xavier with Jackman explains precisely. “Charles has dementia,” he explains. “Charles Xavier has been a father figure and mentor and probably understands him the best because Logan is a closed book. He quips and he is tough and all that but Charles knows where he comes from and knows his background – he knows the demons that he is fighting. So he knows him and but in this one the tables are turned a little bit because he has dementia, so he is confused and he is vulnerable and he’s angry and he is many, many, many different things. At times he is child-like and then at other times he is abusive and Logan is just in that carer role, that role of taking care day and night day in and day out, he also has to keep him hidden from authorities so it is a great dynamic and it was a lot of fun to play. And it was even better because it was with a great friend and one of the greatest actors I have ever met.

But then a quick look at the poster and of course trailer and fans of the series will notice that there is another potential relationship for Logan in this film as well. “Yes, then there is a young girl that has been created from DNA,” Jackman says almost teasingly. “And that DNA may very well resemble my own, and that was stolen so it wasn’t like he chose to have a daughter, which she may be, but he is confronted with genetics that are very similar to his own and a task to rescue/protect/save her. He doesn’t want that task and he pushes it away for as long as he can but that relationship between those two characters, that father/daughter relationship, is very strong, and this young girl Daphne that plays that part is absolutely astonishing.”

So what does Jackman hope that fans will take away from this film? “My hope for fans with this film and I talk to them every day, maybe every second day, over the last seventeen years is that they say that this is ‘the Wolverine movie that they have always wanted to see,” he says smiling. “That is my hope and dream and that was my guiding star while making this movie.”

The other actor also farewelling the series here is Patrick Stewart and he says audiences will also see a very different side to his character, Charles Xavier. “Not only will you see a different side to Charles you will see a transformed Charles,” he explains. “The controlled, intelligent, sensitive intellectual has been replaced with a scatter-brained, crazy, physically-fragile and highly dangerous individual. No one could ever imagine that Charles Xavier could become a dangerous being in society, it’s unthinkable, but here he is putting the world at risk.”

He to explains how this changes his relationship with Logan. “From the very beginning Charles has had a very caring relationship with him. He knew everything about Logan – his past, how he came about, what had been done to him, the misery and agony of that. He always felt a protectiveness towards him. Logan has always been a difficult personality – independent, sometimes aggressive, sometimes mean-spirited, hostile even, but essentially he has always had his heart in the right place. Now there has been a turnaround and the carer is Logan and the vulnerable, weak, fragile one is Charles. And as I said not only vulnerable but also very dangerous.”

“Our primary duty is to entertain,” says Stewart talking about his hopes for the film with fans. “But entertaining can have very different aspects to it. There are themes within this film which some people have already identified as being a contemporary commentary on present day society, particularly in Europe and the United States. I don’t think that was the overt intention of the producers and the writers of this movie but I think that has unfortunately come about that way. But yes there is some instruction in this movie. There are warning contained within this movie and if they are listened to in any way whatsoever then not only have we entertained then perhaps we have also been a benefit.”

Of course fans have also been very excited to see director James Mangold return to the franchise so what was it like for Stewart to work with him and the rest of the cast. “I had only ever done one days work with James previously,” explains Stewart. “Ian McKellan and I shot a one day short movie scenes as a fill-in for the first Wolverine movie, but I met with James very early on in the process and I enjoyed that two/three hour conversation that we had about the screenplay and about the character of Charles and particularly about his disintegration. I love working with James, he is a craftsman and he knows filmmaking so well. He knows on the one hand exactly what he wants, but I have never before worked with a director that is so open to other possibilities and to input from his cast, even bringing up the unexpected and at times even inviting us to improvise which is something that always appeals to me and some of those little improvisations even made it into the movie. With the cast – well the X-Men are reduced down to two in this film and to have such a close relationship with Logan being Hugh Jackman has been a delight as it always has been for seventeen years.”

So it seems that both cast and fans alike are sad to see Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart leaving the franchise, but at least they all have one last film to savour before the curtain-call.

Logan is out in cinemas right now.

Dead Hands Dig Deep

With edgy new music docco Dead Hands Dig Deeper screening in Sydney at the Monster Fest Travelling Side-Show. Dave Griffiths caught up with director Jai Love to see how the docco came into being. Jai gives us a great insight it what exactly happened while the docco was being made.

You can listen to or download our Jai Love interview right here.

 

Tickets for The Monster Fest Travelling Sideshow are on sale now at: 
Event Cinemas George Street
505-525 George St, Sydney Australia
+61 (0)2 9273 7300
https://www.eventcinemas.com.au/Cinema/George-Street/EventsFestivals/MonsterfestTravellingSideshow#cinemas=15
http://www.monsterfest.com.au/events/monster-fest-travelling-sideshow

Single Session Tickets: Adult $21 / Concession $17.50
5 Film Multi-Pass: Adult $82.50 / Concession $71.50
10 Film VIP Pass: Adult $132 / Concession $110

4.indd

Australia’s iconic film critic David Stratton takes a look at his life and Australian cinema in the new documentary David Stratton: A Cinematic Life. Dave Griffiths sits down and chats to David Stratton about this amazing new documentary and his career in general.

David Stratton: A Cinematic Life opens in cinemas on March 9th.

You can listen to or download our David Stratton interview right here.

Trash Fire

With Trash Fire being released in Australia on DVD through Bounty Films Dave Griffiths caught up with the film’s director Richard Bates Jnr. to ask him where the idea from the film came from. Richard also chats to us about what it was like to work with Adrian Grenier and what it is like directing friends.

You can listen to or download our Richard Bates Jnr interview right here.

Tri

With brand new film Tri being released in Australia on VOD Dave Griffiths sits down and has a chat to the film’s director, Jai Jamieson. He chats about how difficult it is to make a film about triathlons and what his poor cast had to go through.

You can listen to or download our Jai Jamieson interview right here.

Patriot's Day

One of the most powerful films to screen in cinemas in 2017 is Patriot’s Day from director Peter Berg. Over the years Berg has established himself as a filmmaker who can capture realism in a way that very few filmmakers before him have done so. When his television show Friday Night Lights first aired some people thought it was a reality television show in the vein of The Hills or Laguna Beach, that was all down to how realistic the characters and their dialogue were.

In recent years Berg has also made the films Lone Survivor, about the courageous Marcus Luttrell and the bloody fight against the Taliban, and Deepwater Horizon, a dramatisation of the offshore drilling rig disaster in April 2010 that resulted in America’s worst ever oil spill. Now he turns his eyes to the events of the Boston bombing marathon with Patriot’s Day which stars Berg’s regular contributor Mark Wahlberg.

“I was actually in New York when the marathon bombings happened,” explains Berg.  “I remember paying really close attention to it and being very aware and being very touched with the way the city clearly came together.and rallied together to capture these two criminals but to also support themselves so much after the bombings. I was very touched about how the community came together. Something that I was very interested in doing with this film was showing a very positive reaction that law enforcement had and show how helpful law enforcement was and how tireless these men were and how they were willing to put themselves in the line of fire to help the citizens of Boston. On the very edges of this tragedy, we saw some of the best that we can offer as citizens.”

“There were so many citizens,” he goes on. “Whether they were trauma surgeons, workers at the local hospitals, paramedics, firefighters, citizens like Dun Meng, the young Chinese immigrant who was carjacked by the brothers and who used every bit of wit and intelligence that he had to stay alive. He planned and executed a stunning escape, and that took an enormous amount of courage, but he was able to tell the Police where they were and probably more so than anybody else can be given credit for stopping these guys.”

The one thing that Berg says he realised during this film was ‘love wins’. “Love wins,” he says smiling. “When you talk to these survivors, many of which have had amputations or have suffered brain injuries or have been permanently scarred by this event and you ask what is the takeaway? Is it possible to have the ability to contextualise this horrific experience and almost all of them said, love. Love wins! This experience as horrible as it has been has made me appreciate so much my family, my friends, my community. We got blind-sighted, we got knocked down, we got beat up but we came back, we came back together with love.”

Aside from the victims of the horrific events, Berg said he also wanted to pay tribute to those whose work took them into the line of fire. “Characters like Ed Davis who is the Police Commissioner, the head of the FBI, the Mayor – it was a small group of men. People always say ‘thank God it didn’t happen on my watch’, well it happened on their watch. To look at how these men kind of realised ‘well there is nobody else but us, we’ve got to stop this, and we’ve got to fix this, and we need to figure out who did it’. I think watching individuals perform under that kind of duress is quite compelling and that is something we worked hard to capture.

Joining Berg here as not only as a producer on the film but also as his leading man is Mark Wahlberg who plays dogged Police Officer Tommy Saunders who makes it his mission to track down the wanted men in the aftermath of the bombings.

“This movie is not about our own individual experiences as actors,” says Wahlberg. “It is up to us to not only get it right but to honour the victims as well as all the people who worked so tirelessly to offer aid – the EMT’s, the first responders, the Police, the FBI and also going and tracking these guys down to make sure they didn’t cause any more harm. Pete (Berg) cares, and he wants to tell the stories of these heroes, and he is committed to getting it right.”

Like Berg Wahlberg is also full of praise for how Boston pulled together as a community in the wake of the bombings. “When these bombs went off people didn’t run away they ran towards the victims,” he says. “They ran to those that were injured, and that says a lot about the people of the city. Individuals from all walks of life just coming up and stepping up. I mean there were women going out there and using their purse straps as tourniquets, and you are talking about huge acts of heroism that were like awe-inspiring on every level. For somebody to go out there and commit to serving their community or their country that is a big deal, that is a really big deal, and that needs to be recognised. Those heroes and anybody else that would put themselves out of their way and at risk or in harm’s way to help strangers. This was a marathon, we’re talking about mothers, fathers, children to cheer on their loved ones. It is a joyous occasion, you know people don’t expect something like this to happen, and the fact that people all rallied around the way they did was really incredible. Good will always overcome evil. People will continue to do bad things, but they will never dictate how we live our lives. We need to be able to go to a marathon, to a baseball game and we need to be able to go to the movies, and we need to be able to live normal lives, you know. We need to all come together and then good will always overcome evil.

 

Patriots Day is in cinemas now

Fifty Shades Darker

Love it or hate but the Fifty Shades franchise is one of the biggest movie series in the world at the moment. As is the way with these blockbuster franchises they also make actors household. Think Harry Potter with Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson and think of Twilight with Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson and you’re on par with what Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson are going through at the moment.

Dornan is making a name for himself as the handsome, very sexual but also very damaged Christian Grey while Dakota Johnson plays Anastasia Steele the eager, young submissive that he has fallen in love with. Together they have become two of the most recognisable actors on the planet and now have a legion of fans behind the franchise.

While talking about the latest film in the franchise to hit cinemas – Fifty Shades Darker – Dornan says that appearing in the franchise and coping with its popularity has helped him form a special bond with co-star Dakota Johnson. “What’s a great thing about Dakota is that only she knows what I’m going through, and only I know what she is going through. We both really need each other through this process because there are days when it is not that easy, and there is a lot being asked of us. I think a lot is being asked of her, particularly with the physical stuff as she is normally wearing less of what I would be although that is kind of changing in these two movies but you need to have that person that understands and has been there with it since day one as well.”

One of the controversial storylines to surface in Fifty Shades Darker is the story of the fact Christian was sexually abused by his mother’s best friend Elena (Kim Basinger) so how does Dornan answer the question that a lot of fans are asking – ‘why doesn’t Christian just steer clear of Elena?’ “I think in some ways he still needs her,” says Dornan after some thought. “She still understands him; I think she is one of the only people that he can talk to. Christian really doesn’t have any friends, like he doesn’t have a group of guys that he grew up with like most normal people do. For me, I have the same group of mates I’ve had since I was a kid and I could call them up about anything, but he doesn’t have that support network. Elena he would use as that, someone to talk things through to you know, someone that can help him understand situations and someone that he feels understands him.”

That leads to asking about the damage that she has done to Christian which has left him with traits including his controlling personality. “There is a part of him that can be completely unhinged,” he says looking down. “To control that he is actually very controlling in everything that he does.”

Of course, the other side to this love affair is Dakota Johnson’s Anastasia – so would she say Christian and Anastasia are firmly in love now? “There are components of sensuality and sexuality,” she agrees using her hands to illustrate the two sides. “But it is primarily a love story between people that are so intricate and so intelligent and so multi-faceted that even the different aspects of their personality and the different aspects of their life, whether they be family or work or sexual preferences are all kind of in orbit around the fact that they are just madly, deeply, fiercely, severely in love with each other.”

That statement might confuse those who are of the belief that the relationship ended in the final scenes of the last film so what brings Christian and Anastasia back together this time around? “They decide that they will try and work things out if he becomes more honest and open with her,” Johnson explains. “That was really all she wanted in the first place. How the last film ended was quite heavy on Anastasia, and I think that the fact that it was so intense and such an awful thing happened, and she still wants to go back, so that is a real testament to just how strong their love is.”

In the early days of the franchise, a lot of people criticised it for being sexist yet along the way we have seen Anastasia grow as a character that is something that Johnson agrees with. “I feel so lucky to be able to play a young woman who not only experiences so much and has such a journey but also becomes someone of such honour and substance and grace and elegance, and there is nothing thankless about her, and I love that. In the first movie Anastasia is quite nubile and innocent and virginal and soft, and I think through this exploration of her love for this man and through her exploration of herself and what she wants in her life, whether that is becoming a figure of authority in her workplace and also becoming more comfortable with her sexuality I think she discovers this strength within her is so extreme and is so powerful and that makes her be able to match Christian.”

The big change this time around is the inclusion of experienced director James Foley, and Johnson says he was great to work with, something that added with her trust for Jamie Dornan helped throughout the film. “Jamie is this wonderful, hilarious and talented human and we also have this kind of friendship that is… we built it around trusting each other so it wasn’t something that was like ‘oh I realise years later that I can trust you.’ Foley is a really great director, and he has such trust with his cast members that it sort of instills this kind of freedom, and that’s really lovely, and he’s a really nice person, and he is nice to be around, and he doesn’t have this outrageous personality and he isn’t like… you know. The set has a very, very mellow vibe.”

 

Fifty Shades Darker is in cinemas now.