By Thomas Brennan
In light of the recent events keeping us all inside and deprived of more public forms of entertainment. Here’s a list of 10 shows that are best to binge while stuck at home:
Parks & Recreation, Netflix
A Comedy that defines Classic. While this show may have wrapped five years ago and never got the praise it was worthy of in its time on air; it went on to launch the careers of some of the most popular and respected names in entertainment today Amy Poehler, Audrey Plaza, Nick Offerman, and Chris Pratt. The show is a testament to the workplace comedies. On a deeper level, the show always manages to find the idea there is fun to be had in friends and doing good for your community.
It’s rare to see a show able to balance a comedy in a setting based around politics, let alone do it well enough to deliver one of the best crack-up series of the 2010s. If Julia Louis Dreyfus had not solidified her position as the queen of comedy in any of her previous works, she does it here. The show highlights the back handed immature handling of politics. Every barb that the show throws out is a crackup. The wider ensemble is brimming with talent and always find a way to distinguish themselves with their own brand of witty cruelty. The series evolves, or rather devolves, from highlighting how the incompetence of government inner workings, to showing how greed and power are a path that leads nowhere; when you pursue power for the sake of no one but your own sake, you’re truly left with nothing.
I am Not Okay With This, Netflix
This new Netflix show is tough to place genre wise. On the surface it seems like a more copy and paste of the uncontrollably powered psychic girl trope seen in countless other pieces of media. Despite the trappings of the show’s concept, I am Not Okay With This still manages to often subvert its own premise; bringing out something almost boundary pushing with just the smallest steps. It doesn’t build a sense of fear of a greater external horror like similar shows. but a more relatable internal fear of losing control of one’s self that is neatly tied into the messy plight of being a teenager.
The Witcher, Netflix
Toss a coin to your Netflix account, cause The Withcher is another must see. Henry Cavil leads the brutal fantasy series as the monster hunter Geralt, the titular Witcher. The series is endearing and entertaining on a number of levels. Each of the three storylines that goes on carries a weight of real danger, fun, and adventure. It sometimes seems to stumble on bigger themes, but always lands on its feet with solid character writing and strong performances. The choreography of certain scenes and battles are absolutely cinematic. The Witcher likely would have landed higher on this list were it not for it’s very out of sorts timeline that can be vexing to almost anyone and has been a major point of criticism for the show.
Grace & Frankie, Netflix
A comedy that’s simple on the surface, but elicits both laughs and tears for people all ages. shows no matter how old you are it’s possible to make someone laugh. The whole ensemble of the titular women’s families is delightful, but Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin’s chemistry carries this show. The back-and-forth between these two characters is as likely to make viewers bust out giggling as they are to shed tears. Every episode brings a new rush of joy in what will be Grace and Frankie’s next endeavor. The core of this show, and likely why it relates to audiences young and old, is the fact it says nobody is too old to make a friend or a change.
The Dragon Prince, Netflix
From the minds that created the masterpiece of Avatar: The Last Airbender, comes The Dragon Prince. Don’t let the fact it’s animated let you dismiss this phenomenal world and story. It’s a fantasy series of children of opposing sides uniting to try and to end the war their parents and forefathers started. The story manages to capture the creativity and gravitas of Game of Thrones, but still be a joy to watch for both kids and adults. It pushes the envelope, catches the imagination, and pulls in the viewer with mature character work. It handles topics like grief from loss, the cost of war and hate, alongside the way friendship and love knows no borders. If you choose to pick up The Dragon Prince, be sure to also watch the end credits for Easter eggs, profound and relevant of things to come in this groundbreaking adventure.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Amazon Prime
The best adjective to describe this show is right there in the title. The show’s wit and humor are so sharp it makes a bed broadswords seem as soft as a pillow. The central story builds off the career launch of the title character’s comic act after being dealt the surface level idea of the worst blow a woman of her time could endure in divorce; but Mrs. Maisel is as indomitable as she is marvelous. The rest of the cast packs humor and fun in tight paced and perfect delivery. Every beat of dialogue is a laugh. The set work determination to nail the ear of the 50’s is a sensation in itself and will arise nostalgia for older audience members. The best joke is on the viewer is it perfectly presents the concept that failure can just be the greatest opportunity that can knock on your door.
The Boys, Amazon Prime
Worn out from the constant peddling of recycled material from the superhero genre. The Boys have you covered. Don’t let the show’s simple title fool you, The Boys packs a punch as powerful as an evil star-spangled Superman. This show itself likely wouldn’t have the same resonance if our current world if we didn’t have the Marvel cinematic universe. The Boys highlights in the most horrifying way what a world with superheroes would look like. The depravity of a world of people with god like power is on full display in this show from the first episode. This isn’t a story of hope and heroics, rather the show works to peel off the human evil underneath. The show tackles relevant issues to our own world as well and handles its political themes with deep thought and nuance. It at times has a little too much fun with its more mature tone and freedom, but it’s still a perfect watch for anyone looking to see heroes taken down a peg.
Harley Quinn, DC Universe
The most surprising breakout show of the year. Harley Quinn, produced by Kaley Cuoco, who also voices the titular character, has found its way to be one of the most hilarious and emotionally resonant series in years. The show brings a graphic level to animation, blood and violence abound, but the series never gets bogged down in its more brutal elements. The show always finds clever ways to be humorous and action packed. Interestingly, past all the profuse amounts of blood and liberal use of cursing, the show’s heart is in its characters and deeper themes. Harley Quinn tackles issues like coping with abusive relationships, sexism in the work field, and learning to trust after trauma in ways that grip the soul itself. It’s a must see show that shakes the very idea of what animation and television can be.
The Good Place, Netflix
Just another classic crafted by the genius of Michael Schur. The show has just concluded its four-season run, ending the story of four dumpster fires of human beings evolving into better people even after they’ve died. The Good Place has cemented itself one of the greatest and most intelligent comedies of all time. It’s a show that is not just content to be hysterical with top notch performances from its talented cast. It raises deep philosophical questions about the nature of humanity and what being good truly means. The Good Place is never afraid to shine a light on their characters and their flaws, showing how hard it is to be good, but still standing by the theme doing good is worth it in itself. The saddest thing to say about this show is that it was so short compared to most serialized television, though this is also one of its greatest strengths. The series delivers its message of optimism in the nature of humanity in perfect fashion before saying one final and truly bittersweet goodbye.
SAN DIEGO – Six days brought the film world to San Diego as the 18th installment of the San Diego International Film Festival stole the focus from Los Angeles last week and saw the Southern California premiere of several films that are already generating award season buzz.
That hum intensified into a roar with the red-carpet arrivals of actors Jared Harris, fresh off the Emmy Award-success of the mini-series Chernobyl, and prolific performer Laurence Fishburne.
Things kicked off on Tuesday, Oct. 15, at downtown’s Balboa Theater with a screening of the controversial and much-lauded satiric sendup Jojo Rabbit and the festival closed on Sunday, Oct. 20, with Marriage Story, an emotional domestic drama. In a bit of a plot twist, both films star Scarlett Johansson, but the similarities end there.
These Southern California premieres bracketed a lineup that included a wide range of 107 full-length films, with five in the narrative spotlight competition, 20 in the narrative contest, nine in the documentary competition, and almost 70 short films, combining major regional premieres with a focus on social and environmental issues, Variety reported. The festival is produced by the nonprofit San Diego Film Foundation.
As always, the festival offered an array of social gatherings, including its “Night of the Stars Tribute”, which this year honored actor Fishburne, Harris, and others. The festival returned to the Pendry San Diego hotel and ArcLight La Jolla theater, and the 2019 box office was at the Gaslamp Quarter in the stunning multi-level Theatre Box, in downtown San Diego, which opened in June.
At the “Night of the Stars Tribute,” Fishburne received the Gregory Peck Award for Cinematic Excellence, Pitbull received the Music Icon Award, Lindsay Wagner received the Humanitarian Award, Harris received the Cinema Vanguard Award, Jillian Bell received the Fairbanks Award, and Camila Morrone receiving the Rising Star Award.
Harris, whose fans have launched a campaign to have him be the next James Bond, was a dynamic presence on Friday night charming both on the red carpet and in the VIP party. Another notable attendee was Bell, star of the wonderful film Brittany Runs a Marathon, who clearly is making a name for herself.
Yes, Laurence and Jared were in the same room and we even sneaked a photograph of them with styleboston/LeftCoast.LA creator Terri Stanley. “It was such a pleasure to meet both Laurence and Jared, but I have to admit I am smitten with the latter,” Stanley said. “Loved him in Mad Men, The Crown and most recently, Chernobyl. I told him the story of my connection to Chernobyl–the explosion happened on the day of my wedding, April 26, 1986. Our honeymoon was in Italy and Greece and the skies over Italy were very grey! When Laurence made his way over to Jared to say hello it was very sweet the way he spoke to him, genuinely thrilled to see him.”
“I’m still overwhelmed that I would be given something called the ‘Gregory Peck’ award. He was singular,” Fishburne told local FOX station. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Fishburne received the award from Peck’s daughter, Cecelia, who was sitting with San Diegan Geri Warnke, a close friend and former board president of the La Jolla Playhouse, which Peck co-founded.
Among the VIP crowd were representatives from the major sponsors including the Pendry, a new Montage brand, financial powerhouse Morgan Stanley, and luxe automaker Maserati.
The 2019 edition of the festival had a global reach and a social-justice conscience. The festival received more than 3,000 submissions from 68 countries, including feature films, shorts and documentaries. Panel topics ranged from technology and streaming services and what lies ahead for digital platforms while others included “Unstoppable Women” and “Social Impact.” SDIFF screened films from Brazil, Congo, France, Indonesia, Japan, Romania, and South Korea.
Most of the film showings were followed by Q&As with their casts and crews, something that sets the festival apart with attendees having access to many filmmakers.
On Oct. 19, the festival presented “Filmmaker Awards Show & Party” at the Pendry. The competitive categories included narrative (fictional) and documentary. After receiving nearly 70 short films, the competition was divided into categories: “Twisted Humor,” “San Diego Scene,” and “Global Consciousness.”
The winners of the SDIFF competitions were: 100 Days to Live, best world premiere; Angelique’s Isle, Kumeyaay award; Babysplitters, best comedy; Breaking Their Silence, best documentary; The Steed, best feature film; Inside Game, best ensemble cast; Safe Spaces, artistic director’s award; Love In Kilnerry, best original screenplay; Philophobia, best global cinema; Portraitist, best international short film; Riptide, best animation, Safe Inside, best thriller feature; Long Time Listener, First Time Caller, best short film; Sonora, best student film, and, Flourish, best local film.
In addition to the screenings at the Pendry and Theatre Box, ArcLight La Jolla hosted the SDIFF’s popular “Culinary Cinema” on Oct. 20, which paired the screenings with delicacies provided by top local chefs.
LOS ANGELES, CA — An Emerson College student turned instructor has been recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the “Oscar” people).
Georden West is one of 16 students as winners of the 46th Student Academy Awards competition for the film Patron Saint. For 2019, the Student Academy Awards competition received a total of 1,615 entries from 255 domestic and 105 international colleges and universities, which were voted upon by a record number of Academy members, according to an Academy press release. The 2019 winners join the ranks of such past Student Academy Award winners as Patricia Cardoso, Pete Docter, Cary Fukunaga, Spike Lee, Trey Parker, Patricia Riggen, and Robert Zemeckis.
West was recognized in the category: Alternative/Experimental (Domestic and International Film Schools).
West (Emerson MFA ’18) used a number Emerson students in making Patron Saint, which reimagines religion and history as queer deities wearing Jamall Osterholm’s fashions interact with a mystical landscape, according to an Emerson College news story. The film was West’s graduate thesis project.
Hao Zheng (Emerson ’15), who attended a graduate program at the American Film Institute, was among those recognized in the Narrative (Domestic Schools) category for The Chef.
“I am so immensely honored to be recognized by the Academy and extremely proud of my crew – all of whom I met while at Emerson and remain my closest and dearest collaborators,” West, also an affiliated faculty member in the Visual and Media Arts Department, said for the Emerson website.
“Taking the risks that are necessary to convey and heighten concepts of underrepresented creatives within the fashion industry is something that makes [Georden] so special,” said Osterholm, a Rhode Island School of Design graduate and former Project Runway contestant. “Through [Georden’s] collaboration with myself and many other queer, LGBTQ+ creatives, [their] rise into the highest spaces of excellence is paving way for our community to be recognized and respected.”
Zheng’s The Chef is set in a world where human workers are being replaced by humanoid robots. Pu, a Chinese chef, is ordered to pass along his cooking skills to his humanoid replacement, according to Emerson’s website.
Medal placements — gold, silver and bronze — in the seven award categories will be revealed October 17 in a ceremony at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.
This year’s winning films are also eligible to compete for this year’s Oscar competition in the Animated Short Film, Live Action Short Film or Documentary Short Subject categories. Past winners have garnered 62 Oscar nominations and won or shared 12 awards, according to Deadline.
By Jeanne Ferris
LA JOLLA — The Film Insider Series saw the golden sun lower its languorous, warm rays on Arclight Terrace — allowing the stars to come out and play for a special screening of Official Secrets.
Fit, in a taupe dress shirt with grey denim pants and sporting rock star hair — Gavin Hood was in the house. The South African born, Oscar-winning director of Tsotsi flew in to attend the exclusive Official Secrets. And it was much appreciated.
Hood and Tonya Mantooth, CEO and executive artistic director of San Diego International Film Festival (SDIFF), were in the spotlight and joined by local luminary Naila Chowdhury, director of social impact and innovation at UC San Diego and a new SDIFF board member.
Everywhere you looked, the lights reflected back from the crowds of dark stylish shades – the literati and glitterati.
Madame and messieurs: sweet summer has finally arrived in the Jewel that others call La Jolla.
SDIFF cofounder Kevin Leap was seen sharing celebratory smiles with Film Insider Series devotees comprised of stellar volunteers, anonymous benefactors, fabulous patrons of the arts, international press corps, Hollywood studio producers, and they-who-support-the-machine: cinephiles, as those with a passionate interest in cinema are sometimes called.
Anticipation was high for the screening of the political thriller that stars Keira Knightly and the buzz rose with each guest arriving. Food was plentiful with pints of Stella Artois, gourmet wine, Urban Leaf elixirs, and Liberty Call Distilling Co., and appetizers from Eureka, Craft pizza, Frill, and the Melting Pot. The evening’s presenting sponsors were Morgan Stanley, Procopio, and Maserati. The dress was decidedly San Diego glam: sleek business casual and envious haute couture — all waiting for magic hour.
Official Secrets saw its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival where it won the Audience Award. Massachusetts’s own Provincetown International Film Festival awarded it Best Narrative Feature.
Based on real interviews with British Intelligence whistleblower Katherine Gun, played by Knightly, the story revolved around a leaked memo to the press. It contained a directive of an illegal NSA spy operation designed to push the United Nations Security Council into sanctioning the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
An Oscar and BAFTA nominee, Knightley also was nominated as best actress for Pride and Prejudice by Boston Society of Film Critics. And of course, by association with an international director: sometimes cast and crew read like a passenger manifest from the QEII.
British thespian Ralph (Rafe, like safe) Fiennes shares the screen with Knightley, playing a steely barrister. Boston showed its approval when the film critics awarded Fiennes Best Supporting Actor for Schindler’s List.
Also from across the pond: London educated, handsome (unrecognizable with a buzz cut) Matthew Goode dubbed a rising star by Brits — is a Primetime Emmy nominee and an Aussie awards fave. Serious Welshman, Rhys Ifans (Ee-vans), a BAFTA winner, adds his shape shifter persona as an f-bombing guerrilla journalist. Adam Bakri, a young Palestinian auteur, plays Knightley’s husband. Estonia (yes, the country) bequeathed Bakri with Tallinn Black Nights Festival Jury Prize Best Actor.
Afterward, Tonya moderated an uproarious Q & A with Hood, a candid raconteur: “[My] Eye in the Sky producer contacted me and asked if I had heard of Katherine Gun. I said no and he replied, ‘Google her and call me back.’ ”
“I called back and asked if I could meet her. We met in London and spent five days talking. As a former lawyer, I can assure you this is deeply and accurately researched and part of the challenge in writing this story is that all the people in the movie are still alive. We shot the film in 36 days. What attracted me to this story is loyalty. Her loyalty — to her conscience, her husband, and to the British people. She insisted that it was for the British people she worked for and not the government. When I asked if Keira would consider it… She said, ‘I want a role with substance and not heavily made up with a corset.’” The audience of course, laughed on cue.
At the post screening champagne and Cookies by Cravory reception: Cookie monsters, red carpet selfies and corner table conversations regarding the upcoming SDIFF are bandied about. Plans are made to attend exclusive screenings, biz card flurries, and cinephiles audibly declare their passion for film with promises to reunite on October 15 to 20, 2019.
Until then—ladies and gentlemen, it’s a wrap! www.sdfilmfest.com
Rated R for language, release date: August 30, 2019
LOS ANGELES, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced its newly elected 2019–20 Board of Governors, including Massachusetts native Ruth E. Carter, of the costume designers branch. They will assume their posts July 1.
Born in Springfield, MA, Carter won an Oscar in 2019 for her work on “Black Panther.” She was the first black costume designer to win an Academy Award.
In her acceptance speech, she stated that “Marvel may have created the first black superhero, but through costume design, we turned him into an African king.”
“This is for my 97-year-old mother watching in Massachusetts,” she said. “Mom, thank you for teaching me about people and their stories. You are the original superhero.”
Newly elected to the Board:
Ellen Kuras, Cinematographers Branch
Ruth Elaine Carter, Costume Designers Branch
Donna Gigliotti, Executives Branch
Howard Berger, Makeup Artists and Hairstylists Branch
Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Short Films and Feature Animation Branch
Eric Roth, Writers Branch
Reelected to the Board:
Laura Dern, Actors Branch
David Rubin, Casting Directors Branch
Steven Spielberg, Directors Branch
Roger Ross Williams, Documentary Branch
Nancy Utley, Marketing and Public Relations Branch
Laura Karpman, Music Branch
Mark Johnson, Producers Branch
Jan Pascale, Production Design Branch
Kevin Collier, Sound Branch
Craig Barron, Visual Effects Branch
As a result of this election, the number of female Academy governors increases from 22 to 24, and people of color increases from 10 to 11, including the three new Governors-at-Large, DeVon Franklin, Rodrigo Garcia and Janet Yang, recently announced.
Balloting in the Academy’s Film Editors Branch produced a tie between candidates Dody Dorn and Mark Goldblatt, necessitating a runoff election. Voting will begin Monday, June 17, and end Tuesday, June 18. The Academy last held runoff elections in 2018 for the Producers Branch and in 2016 for the Film Editors Branch.
The Academy’s 17 branches are each represented by three governors, who may serve up to three consecutive three-year terms. The Board of Governors sets the Academy’s strategic vision, preserves the organization’s financial health, and assures the fulfillment of its mission.
By Jeanne Ferris
SAN DIEGO – Hundreds turned out for the San Diego Film Foundation’s Film Insider Series special pre-release screening of Long Shot, which stars Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen, an unlikely duo at the center of an unlikely, but charming, comedy.
At the Series screening, held every month through July at ArcLight Cinemas, the local cinephiles – some on date night and some on friend’s night out – sporting sparkly stilettos, stylish chapeaus and sleek business suits walked the red carpet with big smiles for the camera, making for a fun departure from the beloved San Diego standard: activewear and flip-flops.
Those gathering for the swanky pre-screening soiree enjoyed tasty sliders (from Liberty Call Distillery), flatbreads (Melting Pot), glazed Brussels sprouts (Eureka) with Stella Artois beverages and lemonade from Urban Leaf.
Long Shot’s star Charlize Theron has won a slew of awards (Oscar, Golden Globe, and Screen Actor’s Guild) and been nominated for just about everything else (Emmy, British Academy). She has played a one-armed big rig driver (Mad Max: Fury Road), a serial killer (Monster), and a coal miner (North Country) among other roles. So, why not a presidential nominee?
Her partner in this rom-com is Seth Rogen, who adroitly handles the slapstick and ribald humor, which, in one particular scene, rightly earns the film its R-rating.
Rogen, who plays a brutally honest journalist, has honed his fast-talking neurotic signature character that allows the audience to believe he is a worthy relationship interest for intelligent, stunning women.
Several East Coasters also add to the evening’s cocktail buzz. Connecticut native Liz Hannah of The Post penned Long Shot with Dan Sterling, whose previous credits include Girls. Sterling is a West Philadelphia native and a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of Arts. He and Rogen co-authored the now infamous, The Interview, which Rogen also directed. Sterling and Rogen are back at it, except this time Hannah brings it home with boisterous female comedic repartee and political gags galore.
Costars June Diane Raphael and Ravi Patel elevate the comedy to additional face hurting laughs. Theron is a master of the impeccable comedic deadpan. Who doesn’t micro-nap with her eyes open?
Did we mention Theron’s fabulous comportment? She rocked Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana like newborn skin while striding in Christian Louboutins with 4-inch heels. Her wardrobe stands in sharp contrast to Rogen’s ’80s color-blocked windbreaker, with a baseball-capped slouch replete with “Daddy” YMCA camp pants. The costumes were the unmistakable handiwork of Mary E. Vogt, who nearly stole the show with her work in Crazy Rich Asians. Vogt added to the hilarity with Rogen’s traditional Swedish folk dräkt in a colorful scene.
Produced by Rogen’s Point Grey Pictures, Long Shot (a South by Southwest Festival audience winner) is scheduled for release on May 3 by Lionsgate.
As with all FIS screenings, the evening did not end with the credits but with a post champagne reception, Cookies by Cravory and red carpet interviews.
FIS runs February through July, leading up to the San Diego International Film Festival, which will run from Oct. 15-20, 2019 when VIP hubs of premieres, screenings and parties will connect Arclight Cinemas and the highly anticipated Theatre Box (new this year). TCL Grauman’s Chinese Theatre owns Theatre Box and has brought its Old Hollywood legacy with New World technology to the Gaslamp District. Join us next month for another exclusive screening. For more information, click here.
To what lengths would you go to save your child from the pain and possible death from cancer? Weed the People, a documentary that follows five families who, in a desperate effort to find treatment for their children’s cancer, obtain cannabis oils to give the young patients a better path to a cure. It was screened in Cambridge on April 8, 2019.
The team behind the film – director Abby Epstein, Emmy Award-winning TV host Ricki Lake, and producer James Costa, a Boston native known for the documentary Lunch Hour – was in town for the screening and question and answer session at the Landmark Square Cinema in Cambridge. The event was hosted by the Boston Globe’s Meredith Goldstein. It was a return to town, of sorts, as the documentary brought Lake and Epstein to Boston, specifically Harvard Medical School, where we see the medical efficacy of marijuana in cancer treatment is being studied.
The documentary, which was released late last year, also looks at the federal government’s reluctance to allowing marijuana to be accessible to all patients. (Currently 33 states allow medical marijuana and 10 states and the District of Columbia allow marijuana for recreational use.) Weed the People is available for download and online viewing. For more on the film, click here.
Before the screening, styleboston.tv and LeftCoast.LA caught up with Ricki Lake and asked her a few questions about the documentary, the need for medical marijuana, and Dunkin’ Donuts and her other Boston connections.
Q: This project started with a 7-year-old girl reaching out to you at a time when the opioid crisis was coming to the front and center? How have people been reacting to this documentary?
A: The reactions to this documentary have been incredible. People seem to be ready to open their hearts and minds to the true medicinal benefits of the cannabis plant. Yes, the film began with a seven-year-old girl who was a fan of mine from “Dancing with the Stars.” She was undergoing chemotherapy and there were very few options to treat her condition. My late husband Christian Evans had been researching cannabis oil and CBD for his grandfather and we thought it might help this little girl as well because of the anti-tumor properties of the plant. That experience was how our film was born.
Q: Was there anything from the filming that surprised you?
A: One of the most surprising things for me personally was to see how well cannabis can actually work and how little you need to get therapeutic effect. You see one child in the film who was taking six OxyContin a day plus other pain relievers and after two days of taking a sesame seed-size dose of the concentrated cannabis oil, he was completely off the OxyContin. So not only was his pain gone but he was sleeping and eating, where on the opiates he was just vomiting and deteriorating.
Q: Here in Massachusetts we have embraced marijuana, first medical uses and later recreational. But even here, in a super-liberal blue state, it seems like people still don’t “get” the potential of what marijuana can do and the benefits of legalization of it.
A: Yes, there is such an intense stigma around the plant it is incredibly hard to break through, even in the medical community. Doctors have been trained that this is a drug abuse and of course the public has also been brainwashed into thinking this is a dangerous narcotic and a gateway to other substances, which is untrue. That’s been the revelation of this movie and we have shown it in places like Oklahoma City and weeks later they passed their referendum on medical cannabis! The film is a really powerful tool to help people understand the real potential of medical marijuana.
Q: As filmmakers you looked at the choices available to patients and parents. Have you seen changes since you started filming in those choices that the patients’ families have? In the attitudes of the medical community?
A: We’ve seen so many changes since we started this film back in 2012. At the time, a lot of the families were getting medicine from underground sources, medicine that wasn’t properly tested and in one case in the film you see it actually contained rubbing alcohol! In California the regulations have helped improve quality and testing for patients, but ironically the regulations have also made it harder for patients to access certain preparations and strengths. We’ve definitely seen the attitudes of the medical community change but it’s still way too slow and it seems to be that money and the green rush is what motivates most of the public perception changes these days.
Q: You and Abby set up a GoFundMe account for those in your project and others. It seems like this film pushed you in ways that a “typical” film project might.
A: Yes we set up a GoFundMe account for the kids in the film. All of them still take a maintenance dose of cannabis oil and one of the children is still in treatment. Unfortunately even the maintenance dose can run these families around $1,500 a month and it’s just not affordable without help. Our website is weedthepeoplemovie.com And you can make a donation there under the “get involved” menu tab.
Q: OK, a few Boston-centric questions. We know you’ve been to Boston before and even filmed a movie here, do you have any favorite things to do? Go see? Do you load up the carry-on with Dunkin’ Donuts coffee?
A: Oh yes, I grew up in New York so definitely a fan of Dunkin’ Donuts! I absolutely love Boston and have the best memories of shooting “Mrs. Winterbourne” there. I’m excited to share this film with the community.
Q: There’s always Provincetown, but the Fast Ferry is fully running this time of year. Do you get back to the area when you are not?
A: Yes, I have been to the Provincetown Film festival a few times and we screened my earlier documentary “the business of being born” there. My dear friend John Waters invites me there all the time.
Q: Many people know you from so many different things in your varied career. We imagine that people approach you with all kinds of references in your background, but we hope that none of the really whacky people are from Boston.
A: I definitely have some amazing fans from Boston! It’s a fantastic city and I’m so proud of Massachusetts for making cannabis accessible.
Q: Will you be stopping by the recently opened marijuana dispensary in Brookline?
A: I would love to check out the new dispensary Brookline! We are very fortunate that a local cannabis company called Green Line is sponsoring our Boston premiere screening. I love how Green Line is integrating social justice into their company philosophy. They are including members of the Roxbury community on their board and helping to repair some of the harms of the drug war on communities of color. I believe that social equity needs to be a major component of marijuana legalization.
SAN DIEGO — One of this town’s biggest and best events took place last week and the celebrities came down to party. The San Diego International Film Festival’s “Night of the Stars Party,” held at the glamorous Pendry hotel, was electrifying in the excitement and buzz around this year’s honorees. Topher Grace, Kenny Loggins (who wowed the sold-out ballroom with three amazing songs to close out the night), John Cho, Kathryn Hahn, Keith Carradine, Zachary Levi and Alex Wolff all made the trip from LA to celebrate film.
Sponsored by Morgan Stanley, Maserati of San Diego, Jamul Casinos, Pendry Hotel and The Nemeth Foundation, the festival screenings and events spanned five days and included films of all genres and subjects that would entice any film lover to this beautiful waterfront city. Check the website for 2019 festival dates and mark your calendars for a premier way to experience one of the most standout film festivals in this Oz-like setting.
ALL PHOTOS and VIDEOS by Joane Nelson
By Anna Paula Goncalves
LOS ANGELES — I’ll just cut straight to the chase:
Go catch “Mile 22” in theaters, Aug. 17! As you can see from watching our fun “black” carpet experience, maybe these 22 [no spoiler, here] reasons of why I think you should, means you will.
Ready? Here we go.
1) This is Mark Wahlberg and Director Peter Berg’s fourth collaboration (“Lone Survivor,” “Deepwater Horizon,” and the Boston-set “Patriots Day,” about the Boston Marathon bombings) yet “Mile 22” is their first collaboration on a fictional story.
2) Mark Wahlberg’s character, James Silva, will give you a little bit of everything you love about Mark.
3) Lauren Cohan. I was already familiar with her work on ‘The Walking Dead,’ but she was a revelation to me in this film. And she may just end up being one to you, too.
4) Iko Uwais. WHAT?!?!? Where did this guy come from and why wasn’t I familiar with his work before?!
5) Ronda Rousey. I personally love seeing her reinvent amd rebrand herself. If you dig her as much as I do, you’ll appreciate her character, Sam Snow.
6) John Malkovich. Need I say more?
7) Nikolai Nikolaeff. I got a taste of his work and definitely want to see more.
8) Every single cast member that was on that carpet loved being there and it showed. That made me much more excited to see them on the big screen. And after watching them on the big screen? Yup, that was some great casting.
9) In fact, I’m just going to go ahead and give credit where it’s due and where it’s usually not given: Casting Director and guru, Sheila Jaffe, for her and her team’s work.
10) Did you realize just how many of the actors come from TV series? Some of which didn’t have film credit at all prior to “Mile 22”! As someone involved with the casting world, I love seeing professionals appreciate talent and hunger over a resume. Hence my point No. 9.
11) Sound effects team made me really take in everything that was happening.
12.) You will want to applaud… (I lost track of how many ‘applauding’ moments happened in that theater.)
13.) You will be ‘shook’…
14.) You will also laugh, though…
15.) And yes, you will probably want to shout, too…
16.) You won’t want to look away. In fact, you may get mad at yourself if you do or if anyone walks in front of you. I saw it happen three times (one being with me, I’ll admit it.)
17.) You will be caught off guard…
18.) You will want to watch the sequel. Oh yes, there’s a sequel already set to happen you guys! That should tell you something. For more, read here.
19.) Lea Carpenter and Graham Roland. Intentionally left these two toward the end because every point made here was thanks to their original story.
20.) Screenwriting was also well done (Lea Carpenter).
21.) Although we see a lot of this kind of theme, these two really wrote something that was unexpected. You have to watch to know what I mean.
22.) Left the best for last: A reminder, even through a fictional film, of how sacrificial it is for our service men and women to sign up to give their lives as a shield to protect others.
And there you have it! My 22 reasons why you should drive however many miles to your nearest theater to catch this film on Friday, Aug. 17!
By Anna Paula Goncalves
Denzel Washington does it again! In his first career sequel, Washington is back as the retired agent Robert McCall in “The Equalizer 2.”
In addition to Washington, director Antoine Fuqua returned to helm EQ2 as did actors Melissa Leo and Bill Pullman. The film also features Pedro Pascal and Ashton Sanders. Talks of an “Equalizer” sequel started months before the 2014 release of the original. The film follows McCall (Washington) as he sets out “on a path of revenge after one of his friends is killed.”
“The Equalizer 2” opens in theaters nationwide on Friday, July 20, 2018.
Filming for EQ2 began in September 2017, with crews spotted in Union Park in Boston’s South End, the North Shore, including Lynn, Larz Anderson Park in Brookline, and Randolph and Marshfield. In 2017, Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen shared a post its Facebook page about EQ2 — with a photo of Washington in the South End eatery.
Getting a chance to catch a sneak peek just a few days before the sequel arrives in theaters this Friday, I’ll say this much [without any spoilers, of course]:
Expect a thrilling, at the edge of your seat ride watching Washington reprise his role as the people’s hero. The character that we loved to love the first time around comes back just as vengeful and just as righteous – contradictory character traits that Denzel can genuinely and successful bridge with ease.
But if Washington isn’t enough of a reason for you to add him to your Friday night plans, I’d suggest you go for the eye candy; for the one that looks beautiful from every angle, day or night…
Yes, I’m referring to Boston! You may or may not geek out a little when recognizing some of our streets and neighborhoods on the big screen, but I am certain that you’ll appreciate it.
Left Coast. La was honored to attend the San Diego International Film Festival’s VIP Film Insider Series featuring HBO’s new “Sharp Objects” starring Amy Adams, Patricia Clarkson and Taylor John Smith. The event was held at the ArcLight Cinemas in San Diego, CA.
Based on the book of the same name by The New York Times bestselling author Gillian Flynn (“Gone Girl,” “Dark Places”), “Sharp Objects” is an eight-episode series that tells the story of reporter Camille Preaker (Amy Adams) who “returns to her small hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. Trying to put together a psychological puzzle from her past, she finds herself identifying with the young victims a bit too closely,” according to HBO. In addition to Adams, Clarkson and Smith, the series features Chris Messina, Eliza Scanlen, Elizabeth Perkins and Matt Craven. It is directed by Jean-Marc Vallée from scripts by Marti Noxon and Flynn.
LOS ANGELES — The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the Oscars people) has invited Kendrick Lamar, J.K. Rowling, and Audra McDonald among the 928 actors, writers, casting directors and others both in front of and behind the camera to join its growing membership. Today’s move comes as the Academy is trying to diversify its ranks.
This year’s record-number of new members invited tops 2017 with a previous record of 774 new members and that of 2016 when 683 new members were invited, according to Variety.
Among those invited to join the Academy today are several with Boston and New England ties including actors Cambridge native Mindy Kaling, who graduated from Buckingham, Browne & Nichols; Medford native Julianne Nicholson; and Sarah Silverman, who hails from New Hampshire. Invitees from the casting branch includes Sheila Jaffe, whose work on the Oscar-winning “The Fighter,” which starred Mark Wahlberg as boxer “Irish” Micky Ward, is among her enviable list of credits.
“The expansion of Academy membership to more than 8,200 stems from an ongoing effort to diversify its ranks following uproar over the lack of African-American nominees in 2015 and 2016, which culminated in 2016’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy,” Variety wrote.
It is here! “Deadpool 2″ is upon us. Another superhero Marvel movie that we’ve all been waiting for. The theaters will be brought to life again this Friday with this amazing sequel that critics are saying is better than the first. What else did we find amazing? The” Deadpool 2″ Theme Bar Pop-Up experience that we attended, brought to us by Mike’s Harder and the Downtown Los Angeles Film Festival, was an adventure to be talked about, an event not to be missed, and certainly the best pop up scene on this side of the globe. Check out my video “Leftcoastla hits Deadpool2″
It really has never felt this good. A Bar Pop-Up experience that’s far better than what you would expect from a normal Marvel show. Oh… Wait! ‘Far better’ is actually not good enough to describe what the pop-up experience party felt like. Saturday, May 12th will be a day to remember for every Marvel fan in LA, and it all went down in style as the actors stayed in character. It was so real and gave fans a feel of what the movie will be like, and now everyone is talking about “Deadpool 2”.
Aside from the free drinks and chimichangas that were available, the fun was unstoppable as the DJ kept dishing out all the latest tracks. Now the expectation has been created. The anticipation is sky high. Every Marvel fan in attendance can’t wait to rock and roll-if this is not the real deal, then we wonder what is! Kudos to Marvel for not disappointing us. So what are you waiting for? May 18th is just around the corner. “Deadpool 2” is here. Grab a bucket of popcorn, pick up your tickets and join in the fever. Let’s journey together.
By Joane Nelson
LA JOLLA, Calif.—Those who were lucky enough to be at the ArcLight Cinema for the U.S. premiere of “I’m Not Here,” on April 25 will not soon forget the special night. If, alas, you were not at the San Diego International Film Festival VIP pre-screening on Wednesday night, then you missed out on a thought-provoking, exclusive screening with a theater packed with people excited to see J.K. Simmons do what he does best.
The film “I’m Not Here” is directed by Michelle Schumacher, whose star is her husband, Academy Award-winner Simmons. It was nothing short of amazing. In addition to Simmons, the features Mandy Moore and Sebastian Stan, who can be seen in “Avengers: Infinity Wars” and “I, Tonya.”
There’s really no way to describe this feature without any spoiler alerts but we have to try: Simmons plays a man at the end of his rope who’s dealt with problems that a lot of people can relate to. The film’s teasing logline is “A man struggles with the tragic memories of his past to make sense of his present, but soon realizes that time isn’t the enemy he thinks it is.”
In addition to the pre-screening, SDIFF also announced it had a new sponsor, the blue chip financial investment company, Morgan Stanley, which was represented by several staff including systems and policy expert VR Raman. Also in attendance were members of styleboston.tv and LeftCoast.LA.
Tonya Mantooth, CEO of SDIFF, led a lively post-screening Q & A panel with Simmons, Schumacher, and others who held nothing back as the night was full of thoughtful conversation, drinks, and laughs.
(Screening location: ArcLight La Jolla, 4425 La Jolla Village Drive, CA 92122.)
Speaking of movie director Michelle Schumacher, J.K. Simmons talked about the important qualities she brought to the production, including her sense of purpose, her detailed preparations and an ability to adapt to different situations. Michelle on her part told the SDIFF audience that the production was very dear to her heart. She thanked everyone who supported the project and described the movie as a low budget production which was made possible through the collaboration of friends and family.
Answering questions from the audience during the prescreening of the movie, Simmons talked about how he decided to shed more than 20 pounds to play the role of an emaciated 60-year-old alcoholic. According to him, he had a choice between getting emaciated or bloated for the movie role but he chose the former.
He and Michelle also talked about similarities/differences between the movie characters and real life.
In “I’m Not Here” J.K. Simmons played a remarkable character that did not speak a single word throughout the movie. He told the audience during the SDIFF prescreening that he had to completely immerse himself in the screenplay to prepare for the movie role. He said he was able to make a success out of it by relying on the guidance of the movie director
“I’m so happy I could cry,” begins the most recent Facebook post from Becki Dennis. “I just found out that I received the Best Actress Award at the Boston International Film Festival and our Director, Eric R. Eastman, has also won a well-deserved Indie Spirit Recognition Award!”
Dennis played the lead role in the new indie film “Spin The Plate,” which recently premiered at the Boston International Film Festival. In a plot twist of her own, she was not able to attend the screening as she was working on her new film, “Justine” in Los Angeles, which she now calls home. A recent transplant, she was amazed to discover how many other Bostonians, who like her have been performing their whole lives, have packed their bags for the City of Angels, where people really do become stars of the screen and stage.
Dennis has been performing since she was a kid, always in dance and theater productions and always drawn to the performing arts. She caught the acting bug pretty hard in high school and wanted to major in musical theater in college. After three years at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, she came back to Boston, took an acting class at Emerson, a music class at Berklee and did an acting/directing course at Boston University.
She worked as an actor and performer for several years in the Boston market and one lucky day was recommended to David O. Russell for a speaking role in a major film.
“Filmmakers started to shoot more in Boston so I started to show up as an extra and really fell in love with being on a film set. I started to do commercials, training videos, short films, things like that-then came my first big break, which was “American Hustle.”
After being cast in another blockbuster film, “Ted 2” which was also shot in Boston, Dennis decided that she no longer wanted to be a big fish in a small pond and in order to branch out to bigger markets she had to make the move. It has paid off. Landing the role of Jo in “Spin the Plate” was a turning point for Dennis.
“I always thought I couldn’t act in film or TV because you had to look like a model. Lead roles for plus size women have not come around too often in the past, unless it’s like the butt of the joke or something, but times are changing so to get to play something so complex and interesting is a gift.”
Dennis has gone on to have parts in 15 television shows in two years, though she started out slow and had to build up a portfolio of work to get to where she is now. Since she is in the middle of filming the feature film “Justine” there is not a lot she can tell us yet about her new role.
“It’s a supporting role, it’s a good role and toward the end of the film, I play a nurse, and there’s a really interesting scene. The writer, director and lead actress is Stephanie Turner, who wrote the script when she was in the Sundance Screenwriters lab. Hopefully it’s Sundance bound…hoping it can be the next ‘LadyBird’ or something.”
Meanwhile, she and her husband are embracing the good life and the abundance of sunshine in LA but when asked what she misses most about the East Coast, besides her family, she immediately responds with “really good Italian food in the North End.”
As one bi-coastal resident to another, I say, “Amen to that.”
EDITOR AT LARGE
CHIEF FASHION CORRESPONDENT
Anna Paula Goncalves
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