Saturday, August 30, 2014

Mickey Rourke, actor, fighter, icon

By James Colt Harrison

Mickey Rourke is back on the screen in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, making his return to acting after appearances in 2010’s Iron Man 2 and The Expendables. He recently cropped up in a little seen film made in Indonesia called Java Heat. There’s no telling what that picture is about.

His big year was 2008 when he starred in the very interesting film The Wrestler. For his acting he won the British Academy Award ®, the BAFTA. He picked up a Golden Globe and an Independent Spirit Award. To top it all off, he was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar®.

No doubt he’s a good actor, but he is totally unconventional in his approach to film making. Best of all he’s a fantastically inventive actor and proved it in The Wrestler.

Born September 16, 1952 in Schenectady, New York, Rourke was a handsome kid and gravitated toward the sports world when he attended Miami Beach Senior High. He took a liking to boxing and at age 12 won his first boxing match. Rourke has loved the world of boxing his entire life and even made it his sole profession for a time when he left acting in the 1990s.

He appeared in only one school play in Miami Beach, but he was later persuaded by a friend to try out for a role in Deathwatch. He got the part and also the acting bug. His sister helped finance him to get to New York, where he enrolled in The Actor’s Studio, previous home of Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe.

The next step for the young actor was for him to join the movies. Steven Spielberg cast him in a small part in the World War II drama 1941. In between parts on television shows he did a good bit in Body Heat as an arsonist. A hit picture at that time was the small budget Diner with up and coming stars Paul Reiser, Kevin Bacon, Tim Daley, Steve Guttenberg, and Daniel Stern. After getting a nod as Best Supporting Actor from the National Society of Film Critics, Rourke went on to Francis Ford Coppola’s Rumble Fish. Now on a roll in motion pictures, Rourke sizzled on the screen with Kim Basinger in 9 ½ weeks and became a sex symbol in the mid-1980s.

By 1987 he was appearing in controversial films such as Angel Heart with young Lisa Bonet. Europeans especially loved the rawness of the film and the explicit sex scenes. The film won several awards.

Rourke’s personal life and acting career took a dark turn in the early 1990s. He turned down many good films such as Pulp Fiction and Top Gun. His romantic life was a shambles. He decided that he had to return to the boxing ring in 1991 to prove himself. He did pretty well, winning many fights around the world. Unfortunately, his pretty-boy face took a beating and he ended up getting a botched facial surgery job. In a way, it was sad that his looks were gone but it gave him an entirely new persona which allows him to play gruff, down-trodden characters with more authenticity.

The late 90s saw him bitter and disillusioned. He felt he was all washed up. He made a couple of films that were flops, such as  Double Team(1997) with Jean-Claude Van Damme. After Rourke played several small parts in small films, director Robert Rodriguez remembered Rourke and wanted him for his next picture. The film turned out to be the highly stylized and startling film Sin City in 2005. It was a huge hit and Rourke swept up the awards from the Chicago Film Critics, the IFTA, and the Online Film Critics Society, therefore putting him back on top again.

Mickey Rourke is now riding the crest of a successful career wave once again. As he summed up his career, “my best work is still ahead of me.”

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Lets Meet: Summer Crosley

Summer was born in a small town in the Midwest and remains a small town girl at heart.  As a little girl she always knew she wanted to do something different, something her family would be proud of one day.  She had a passion for beauty and fashion from a very young age but never dreamed it would open so many doors.

Little did she know, her world was about to change drastically in a way she could never have imagined. After graduating college, Summer moved to Miami Beach FL where she was discovered by an agency and started modeling. Her agents encouraged her to make the move to LA where she landed her first role on the series "Nip Tuck" and most notably in her role on Showtime's hit series "Californication". She has also
modeled for the likes of GQ, Vogue, Elle, Esquire, and various renowned magazines. A perk to modeling, Summer has traveled the world adding international model to her repertoire and has been in over 100 magazines worldwide. She is represented by top modeling agencies such as Elite Models, 3D Model Agency in Cape Town, Next Models, and Wilhelmina.

Summer's numerous modeling gigs have led her to countless intriguing countries offering her an education in varying cultures.  Making friends with differing lifestyles has been an enthralling part of her journey and has become an essential part of her life.  Traveling to beautiful destinations, she has learned the importance of ocean and wildlife conservation and has been working with conservation groups to raise awareness about the human impact on the world’s oceans and rain forests. Despite her many career paths, her dedication to various conservation groups has taught her
that giving back in one way or another is essential to a balanced life.

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Summer focuses her time and energy on an active lifestyle and the positive influence of her family and friends while getting involved with the environment.   When life gets hectic, the self-proclaimed jeans and t-shirt girl trades in glamour for the beach or a hike any day. It’s these simple notions that make Summer Crosley so refreshingly beautiful, light and free.

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

‘If I Stay’ from hit Young Adult novel

Review by James Colt Harrison

Director: R.J. Cutler
Cast: Chloe Grace Moretz, Stacy Keach, Joshua Leonard, Mireille Enos, Jamie Blackley

We seem to be inundated with Young Adult Novels these days and most of them have been, or are soon to be, movies. The latest drama to hit the screen is the MGM-New Line Cinema-Warner Bros joint production of the hit book If I Stay by novelist Gayle Forman. Nothing sells better than tears and angst, and these young novels seem to have captured the market for reducing audiences to a shambles and candidates for the psych ward. Emotional lives have been ruined from reading these “weepies.” And---their authors have become rich!

The lovely Southern Belle Chloe Grace Moretz (she’s from Georgia) stars as Mia, a 17 year-old young woman obsessed with music who is striving to get into Juilliard School of Music in New York. Her biggest decision up until now has been to decide whether to pursue her studies of the cello or to follow her rebellious boyfriend Adam (Jamie Blackley). They’re in love and he plays the guitar in a band. But that is not the most important decision she will have to make.

On a carefree outing with her family, a tremendously violent car crash suddenly changes everything in Mia’s life. She hangs in the balance between life and death as she suffers in a coma. She is fully aware of all events happening around her and can see her loved ones, family and friends alike, who want her to live. Gran’pa (Stacey Keach) arrives and snuffles over her. As she hovers in a nether world, she must make the most important decision of her young life---to live or die. What will she do, and does she have the strength to make such a momentous decision?

Ms. Moretz is a comely young actress who has had some important success in films such as Kick Ass (2010), Martin Scorcese’s Hugo 3D, (2011) which was nominated for 11 Oscars® and allowed her to star with Oscar® winner Ben Kingsley,Carrie (2013), and Muppets Most Wanted (2014). She’s the “go-to” actress when producers want a fresh, beautiful teen to drag the young set into theater seats.

The accomplished actress was drawn into acting by her older brother Trevor, who had been accepted into the Professional Performing Arts School in New York. He taught her things about show business that sparked her interest in drama.

She and her family moved to Hollywood and she made her television debut n a CBS series, The Guardian. Her stock went up after she appeared in The Amityville Horror and was nominated for a Young Artist Award. Her career skyrocketed after that recognition and she was cast in several important pictures as mentioned above.

Her most famous picture was Kick Ass in 2010. She learned to do all her own stunts on location. She had trained for three months with Jackie Chan’s stunt crew and learned how the great action star did his own stunts in films. Chloe made quite an impression in that film.

Although the film was made for yung adults who can relate to first loves and the great decisions that must be made in life, anybody can enjoy the film and have a good cry. It’s recommended and you’ll feel better for it.  Let it all out.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Romantic Comedy ‘What If” plays cute

Director: Michael Dowse

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Adam Driver, Mackenzie Davis, Rafe Spall, Megan Park, Jemima Rooper, Rebecca Northam

By James Colt Harrison

It’s summer and it’s time for some light and breezy romantic comedies that are as transparent as Swiss cheese. ”What If” fills the bill for lighter-than-air entertainment. Even the title was given a blast of helium when it was changed from ”The F Word” to the more bland “What If” for delicate American audiences.

When the leading man has grown up in front of our eyes as Harry Potter, debuted on the stage stripping himself of all his clothes and going bare naked in “Equus” (Best Leading Actor), we get the point that Daniel Radcliffe is now a young leading man. Well, sort of a baby version of a leading man. But cute, anyway.

Cute is necessary for this film to work. Radcliffe (Wallace) has dropped out of medical school after a bad relationship has devastated him. He has vowed not to get involved with another girl and has given up sex for the duration. His best friend Allan---the comical Adam Driver---and local sex hunk dives into a relationship with passionate Nicole (Mackenzie Davis) and marries her. It’s sort of an incentive for Wallace to get back into life again. Allan introduces Wallace to his cousin, airy Chantry (Zoe Kazan), an animator. She’s much involved with her live-in boyfriend Ben (Rafe Spall).

Wallace and Chantry seem to have a lot in common and become great friends. They are funny and sweet characters and that word “cute” creeps in again. Chantry is devoted to her grounded and ambitious boyfriend Ben. But Wallace has bigger eyes for Chantry than he is willing to admit. And does she have more than friendly feelings for Wallace. They play cat and mouse emotionally and try to figure out where they stand with each other.

This is not a new situation between boy-girl relationships. There must have been a million movies before this dealing with the same dilemma. Radcliffe himself said, “In a lot of romantic comedies I think it can feel a little too easy on people’s relationships but this film accurately takes in some of the complexity of people’s relationships. And it is really, really funny.  That was the kind of main thing that drew me towards it.”

Director Dowse praised Radcliffe’s performance by saying “I think he’s totally accessible, beautifully flawed and immediately likeable as an actor, almost like a young Jack Lemmon. People inherently end up rooting for him.”

As Wallace’s best friend and room-mate Allan, Adam Driver’s comedy acting chops dominate all his scenes. Ms. Davis enthused, ”Adam Driver is so funny and wonderful in this movie and really bizarre. He’s so smart and such a good actor and it was such a wonderful experience to get to work with him and improv with him and, laugh and have him make me laugh all the time.”

The major portion of the film was shot in Toronto. Not usually known as a “romantic” city such as Venice or Paris, the crew used the water settings to great advantage. One of the funniest scenes in the film is a night-time skinny dipping at the beach. And, necessary to the story line, the cast and crew had to go to Dublin, Ireland for some scenes to wrap up the movie. It opens the film up visually and gives it the correct brightness for the overall look.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" Thrilling Adventure With Surprises

Directed by: Matt Reeves
Cast: Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Kirk Acevedo Judy Greer, Toby Kebbell

Review by James Colt Harrison

20th Century fox has a big hit on its hands with the latest version in the Planet of the Apes franchise. The new one is called Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the tile of which gives a clue as to what transpires now and what may happen in the future episodes. The sequel to this new film is already in the works, with director Matt Reeves also attached. Fox is already counting the piles of cash the film will bring in to summer showings.

We don’t want to rehash the plot because that is ludicrous and you can find out when you see this dazzling 3D color film. Essentially, the gist of the story is that decades ago a terrible virus almost wiped out human existance. The apes were not harmed. Caesar (Andy Serkis) is now the leader of their simian nation and has a family with two sons. Serkis is a master of CG action and stop-motion acting and achieved his well-deserved reputation for acting in the Hobbit films. He can only act with his eyes and mouth, but he does a superb job of conveying impatience, anger, and sorrow with his body language.

Several humans survived the virus in the San Francisco area. Some actual scenes were shot in the city and some were re-created on sound stages. You can tell the difference. Malcolm (Jason Clarke) and his troupe of Keri Russell, a nurse, and their son Kodi Smit-McPhee are pacifists and want to negotiate with Caesar to prevent war. Gary Oldman plays Dreyfuss, a militant guy who wants to wipe out the apes. He gives Malcolm three days to make a peace pact with Caesar.

The action seems to be almost non-stop from beginning sequences and liberally sprinkled throughout on frequent occasions The Ape Army is magnificent, imposing and frightening. Although the apes may still seem like savages to some, they also take on some human qualities which they would furiously refuse to admit. Is it a battle of good against evil? Yes and no. Who are the evil ones and who doesn’t have a blood-thirsty guilt? And who are the ones who have purity of thought?

Gary Oldman (Dreyfuss) is an unsung actor, even though he has appeared in many huge hits over the years. In fact, Oldman, who was born in London in 1958, is credited with having films that have grossed more than $9 billion world-wide. Some of his better-known films are Oliver Stone’s JFK, the horror film Bram Stoker’s Dracula, as Sirius Black in the phenomenal Harry Potter series, and Tinker,Tailor, Soldier, Spy, which earned him an Oscar® nomination for Best Actor.

Australia has given us Jason Clarke. After making a name for himself on television in his native country, he began appearing in films such as Rabbit-Proof Fence in 2002. A move to America saw him being cast in films Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010), the action film Zero Dark Thirty (2012), The Great Gatsby (2013) with Leonardo DiCaprio, and White House Down (2013). His next appearance will be in Terminator: Genesis in 2015.

There will be no spoilers here. The film is sufficiently thrilling to keep you interested from start to finish. The action stops only to build up a reason for the next thrilling sequences. The Production Design by James Chinlund is both modernistic and primitive and has some of the most imaginative structures of recent note. The movie is wonderfully entertaining and far superior to the films that came before it. We hope this signals a new interest at Fox in turning out excellent sequels for this beloved series.

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