Category: Interviews

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.

Fences

Nine years after directing the well-received The Great Debators legendary actor Denzel Washington decided to once again sit in the director’s chair to bring award-winning theatre production Fences to the big screen. The result was a film that received a Best Picture Academy Award nomination. It also saw Washington nominated for Best Leading Actor while it picked up a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Viola Davis who plays Washington’s embattled wife in the film.

For Washington this was a passion project and it obvious listening to him talk about the film that he fell in love with this story way back in 2010 when he appeared in the play the film is based on on Broadway. He begins by recounting what it was like to meet with the play’s author – the late August Wilson – for the first time. “I spent a lovely day with him. I flew up to Seattle. It rained all day and he just smoked cigarette after cigarette and he was writing… I don’t know who set it up… but he was writing Gem Of The Ocean and it might have been my agent who suggested that I go up there, but I went up to see him and we just talked all day. He talked about how he writes plays, how he locks the doors, shuts the windows and he basically writes what the characters tell him to write so I guess he was telling me ‘I’m not just writing for you I’m writing what I’m compelled to write’ which was just fine with me. I just remember that day was a lovely day.”

Not many actors get to reprise their role from a theatre production up on the big screen and Washington is only too happy to talk about what the differences were playing Troy on the stage to what it was like bringing the character to film. “I think it only helped that I was able to, I couldn’t imagine trying to do this having not done it on stage first. There was no time to try and figure out who Troy was when we were shooting the movie so to number one know the character and to know that we did a production that worked, you know we got the response from the audience and the accolades and that kind of stuff, so I knew it worked but that also added more pressure because it was like ‘don’t screw it up now.’ But I just knew I had to get the camera in front of the actors and just let them do what they had been doing all along.”

So what did he focus on capturing as director? “The truth!” he exclaims. “The truth. That was it – period. The camera is always going to capture what you are doing so if you are lying and you’re not supposed to be then it is going to catch you doing that. The universal stems from the specific, so everything down to the last button. If it says 2.30 on the clock on the wall then it should say 2.30 on the watch – whether you see it or not.”

As we saw on Oscar night it was the stars around Washington in the cast that also made Fences such an enjoyable film and Washington is not only full of praise for all of them but tells us what it was like to direct them. “You never want to crush an actor,” he explains. “I’ve been on the other side where a director has been like ‘well I think he would do this’ and I’m always like ‘well why don’t you get up here and do it then if that’s what you think?’ There are all kinds of truth, just because I’m the director that doesn’t mean that I know THE truth, I’m there to discover just like everybody else. You know what they say – eighty percent of it is about casting, so get the best and let them do what they do then just see what happens. With Jovan Adepo (who plays Washington’s son) I remember him coming in and I wasn’t hard on the young actors but I wanted to push them around to really see if they could handle it because Jovan and Saniyya Sidney (who plays Washington’s daughter) they had to catch up to the rest of us, especially Jovan, and he was just head-and-shoulder above the rest. He just had this naturalness and honesty in him. He was actually up for a role with Antoine Fuqua (who directed Washington in Training Day) and he said he was the best kid going around and I said ‘well why aren’t you hiring him?’ and he said ‘well I want somebody edgy in my film’ but he was the best actor who had come in and read. Needless to say that gave him a leg up on everybody else.”

While Denzel Washington himself didn’t walk away with an Academy Award for Fences it is a film that is a highlight amongst his acting career, it is a film that reminds audiences that he is also a fine director in his own right as well.

Fences is in cinemas right now.

 

Axle Gunn

Aussie actor Axle Gunn has recently become the face of new online platform Fizzy TV. Dave Griffiths sat down and had a chat while Axle to find out all about Fizzy TV and to explore Axle’s acting career.

You can listen to or download our Axle Gunn interview right here.

You can also find out all about Fizzy TV here.

XXX Return Of Xander Cage2

Vin Diesel fans haven’t exactly had a lot to complain about over the past few years. Thanks to the on-going Fast & Furious franchise they have been able to see their idol on big screens almost annually. Then of course is the fact that over the next few years they will see him in 3 more Fast & Furious movies and voicing the lovable tree Groot in both Guardians Of Galaxy 2 and Avengers: Infinity Wars. But they have always seemed to have one gripe – and that is they wanted to see the 49-year-old action hero get another chance to play Xander Cage.

Cage was Bond-with-balls spy that Diesel played way back in 2002’s XXX but he was then over-looked for the sequel, something that hard core fans of the franchise saw as an absolute tragedy. But last year that was all changed when it was announced that Diesel was returning to the role for XXX: Return Of Xander Cage.

With stories always changing on why Diesel never did the follow-up to XXX he wears a broad grin when he explains why he now fourteen years later he has decided once again to re-visit the character. “I just think that there is a need to re-visit this type of hero archetype,” he says. “He is in some ways the reluctant hero and in some ways the anti-hero but his individuality just shines. I walk away from this experience thinking that is who I could be. I could be Xander, he could be me. I think there is something timely about that and something cool about that. I feel that when we first made this movie people were calling it the Bond killer because it had beaten that year’s Bond and nobody expected that. I think that we have seen very many variations of spy movies and secret agent movies but I think there has been a desire to return to this. He is definitely a unique and very different type of secret agent. And I’m so happy to come back to Xander. I always felt that I owed it, I always felt that I was in debt and that sooner rather than later I would have to return to this character and right the wrongs of the past. I am so, so happy and so blessed that I have ahd the opportunity to do it, it’s not something that happens every day and by doing all the other work in my life I was able to pull this one off. I feel very, very excited and very, very proud of this film and of this franchise”

So that leads to a big question – what is Xander Cage like almost fifteen years on. “He is definitely still consistent and he has definitely had more experiences,” says Diesel after thinking for a moment. “You know he is different in the respect that he did try to comply with working with the Government and didn’t cry when it didn’t work out for him. I think what you will see this time though is his willingness to bring on a team and the fact that he values the team that he has and that it makes it incrediably different from the first outing because then he was just a solo lone-wolf, and I think in this movie we see that he has learnt to rely on people. I guess that makes for a better Xander in some way.”

Aside from the fact that Vin Diesel back most of the press surrounding XXX: Return Of Xander Cage has been about the quality of the actors and actresses that help make up Xander’s team – Ruby Rose, Nina Dobrev, Toni Collette and Kris Wu just to name a few. “It is very much assemble-all-parts this time,” laughs Diesel. “One of the fun and entertaining things about this film is that this team of misfits come together and work together as a team. It’s the love of the lifestyle that brings them all the table. They wouldn’t necessarily worry about being heroic, but they are heroic because of the circumstances, and what is interesting about that is the room to grow that their characters might have over the franchise. And that is something to think about not just what happens in this chapter but what happens in subsequent chapters. There are two teams formed during the movie, but the first team is there because of all the good times they have had with Xander because Xander is such a fun person to be with, they are there for the mission but also just to have a great time. As the team grows we see another component… a component that makes the mission more serious.”

Of course having such diverse characters means that the cast come from all corners of the globe and Diesel played a very big part in that. “Incorporating this multicultural tone to the Fast & Furious franchise has worked with great succsess and I wanted to push it even further on XXX, to the point where I wanted to go to not only go to all the multi-cultural actors who live in California but I wanted to go into entirely separate film markets, entirely different regions and celebrate their heroes and their actors. Not only is Deepika (Padukone) an example of that but Donnie Yen is another amazing example of that… we actually went into China. Then there is Kris Wu who speaks to that, Ruby Rose speaks to that, Rory McCann speaks to that, Tony Jass speaks to that, even Nina Dobrev is from Canada. We really did travel right around the world and that was very, very exciting. I knew that we were onto something when we looked to the world to cast this movie.”

Now of course fans of the franchise will know that there has been a reference in the past to Xander being dead, so how do they bring him back for this time around. “This is essentially a story about a man being called back into action,” says Diesel thinking carefully. “The NSA is up against a group that we learn more about throughout the picture, but it is a group that they can’t take down, that they can’t handle. They have this old and archaic way of dealing with things and this new team, this interesting teams is so much of a threat that they have to now go back and get this wildcard called Xander to go up against them. And how the two teams work against each other and then ultimately work WITH one another is where the stories lie.”

With the interview winding up the last thing to talk about was the action of the film. The first XXX movie was made famous by the legendary stunt of a car going over a bridge with Xander jumping free so what do we have in store this time around. “You can’t talk about a XXX movie and not talk about the action,” says an excited Diesel. “There were a few things that were very important to me with this movie. As you know I was going through a very specific time, all the weight of Furious 7 and all the weight that came with that and I needed to play a very happy character and I needed to play a character that could smile and I needed to play a character that could laugh, that could tell jokes and that could do things simply for the thrill… just for the thrill and that is why this character is alive. So it wasn’t only fun doing the stunts, and the stunts were great you can see that in the trailer. But for this conversation I should add that I had fun just practising. I can’t tell you how much fun I had just preparing for this because I got to do jump, got to do stunts and while they were shooting they would hear…(Diesel does a motorbike noise)… and that was me getting ready for a sequence. And I want the audience to just have that fun as well because that is what this movie is all about. That’s what you are going to say you are going to say to people ‘go and see XXX because you just have fun. That’s the primary, but if you do take something else away from the film then that is even better.