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Spike Lee talks about Obama and Sundance

Posted by LiveFor on January 28, 2009

Jill Martin had a minute to speak with Spike Lee, at last night’s Knicks vs. Rockets game.

Not only does he speak about his party he hosted for the inauguration party for President Barack Obama, but also his new movie, Passing Strange, that he promoted at Sundance. Apparantly it was his first time at the Sundance Film Festival.

Thanks to Adriana for passing me the link.

Discuss in the Forum

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The Random – Stan Lee, Bonnie and Clyde, Green Hornet, Samson, Iron Man, Fully Automatic, Charlie’s Angels 3, The Changeling, James Brown biopic

Posted by LiveFor on January 27, 2009

According to The Associated Press, shareholders of an ill-fated Stan Lee venture are seeking more than $750 million in profits from films based on Marvel comic characters such as “Spider-Man,” “X-Men” and “Iron Man.”

Hilary Duff and rising young thesp Kevin Zegers (“Dawn of the Dead,” “Transamerica”) will star in indie feature “The Story of Bonnie and Clyde” for Cypress Moon Studios reports the trades.

The Seth Rogen-led new film based on “The Green Hornet” radio and 60’s TV show property looks to be on the verge of collapse yet again reports HitFix.

Warner Bros. Pictures are planning a futuristic take on the classic Samson and Delilah story in “Samson” reports Variety. Scott Silver (“8 Mile”) will write the script while Francis Lawrence (“I Am Legend”) will direct.

Wayne Kramer (“The Cooler,” “Crossing Over”) is set to direct the buddy action caper “Fully Automatic” for Warner Bros. Pictures reports Variety. Marc Wolff’s script follows two rookie cops out to make their mark and who team with a female former Delta Force operative to stop a mercenary who has stolen a cache of weapons.

Sacha Baron Cohen’s controversial new comedy “Bruno” has been pushed back two months from May 15th to July 10th reports Variety. The move happened after Roland Emmerich’s big-budget disaster epic “2012” was moved back to November from the July 10th date.

Drew Barrymore tells E! Online that she’s up for a third “Charlie’s Angels” movie. Barrymore’s Flower Films producing partner Nancy Juvonen followed those comments up in an interview with Sci-Fi Wire where she indicated she’s keen on the idea of a fourth ‘Angel’ and she has a ‘Rihanna fixation’. Who’d direct? “I don’t think we could do it without McG, and I think that the Angels all at least need to be there.” She also likes the idea of bringing back the Thin Man (Crispin Glover).

Stracyznski’s script for the Clint Eastwood-helmed, Angelina Jolie period movie “Changeling” has been nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards, and the author announced today that he’ll have to pass up an appearance at the New York show in order to attend that awards ceremony.

Spike Lee has told MTV that he wants to use recordings of James Brown for the musical moments in his upcoming biopic of the late, great Godfather of Soul. Wesley Snipes, of whom Lee says “He’s my man”, will be left to just lip-sync and mimic the dance moves.

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Spike Lee talks about Inside Man 2

Posted by LiveFor on January 20, 2009

Big plot changes and casting continuity are in store for Spike Lee’s sequel to his 2006 bank heist blockbuster, Inside Man, the director exclusively told MTV News at Sundance.

Early reports had the movie, tentatively titled “Inside Man 2,” focusing on Clive Owen and his crew of ingenious thieves getting embroiled in a New York diamond district heist. “Naw, naw, not anymore,” Lee now says of that potential storyline, declining to reveal any fresh details. “Can’t tell you, or I’ll have to do one of these,” he says, making a stabbing motion. He did admit that, like the first picture, the sequel will be shot on location in New York City.

While plot specifics remain locked safely away, Lee revealed the original cast will return, including Owen as the criminal mastermind with a keen sense of moral rectitude, Denzel Washington as a world-weary NYPD detective, and Jodi Foster as a shady businesswoman-for-hire. Lee also revealed another original cast member will reprise their role, Chiwetel Ejiofor.

“Inside Man” was something of a surprise hit in 2006. The setup was familiar—the perfect bank robbery becomes a hostage crisis—and the famously independent director seemed ill-suited for a conventional Hollywood crime caper. Yet the screenplay was chock full of satisfying plot twists, and Lee cast folks with strong acting chops and proved adept at capturing not only the nuances of character but the demands of fast-paced action. “Inside Man” turned out to be anything but Hollywood stock fare and went on to gross $184 million worldwide.

Taking over scriptwriting duties from first film scribe Russell Gewirtz is “Hotel Rwanda” writer/director Terry George. “I got an email from Terry George yesterday,” Lee told us. “He just finished—he’s at the end of the first act.”

But Lee isn’t about to jump into filming the first sequel of his career without a finished script. “If the script is up to snuff, we’ll be shooting it,” he says. “Here’s the thing: if everything lines up—people’s schedules are open, [we’ll begin in] late summer, early fall.”

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Exclusive Interview – Ryan Denmark – Romeo & Juliet vs The Living Dead

Posted by LiveFor on January 14, 2009

January is the month of interviews it seems (weirdly Jason X gets mentioned in the two January interviews). Today I have an interview with director/produce/editor Ryan Denmark who’s latest film is Romeo & Juliet vs The Living Dead (R&JvTLD). With a title like that you know it is going to be good fun.

When not making low-budget independent horror films Ryan is also Associate Editor for Spike Lee and an actor in films such as Klown Kamp Massacre and Last Looks. He also has dodgy taste in popcorn, but I can look past that.

I’ve previously posted the trailer for R&JvTLD here.

– Why was the vehicle of a classic, such as Romeo & Juliet, chosen to expand the zombie genre? Can you tell us a little more about the film and the making of it?
My fellow writer/producer Jason Witter had some success in New Mexico staging Shakespearian pop culture parodies in local theaters. Specifically, Hamlet the Vampire Slayer and Macbeth in Space, which was basically Aliens with a little Jason X thrown in. I was home (home being Albuquerque) visiting when I learned that I had three months of free time before leaving for Italy to work on Spike Lee’s film Miracle at St. Anna. Jason wanted to do a Night of the Living Dead parody on stage. At first, the idea was just a straight parody and then I suggested mixing it with another Shakespearian piece. Parody requires a certain amount of audience familiarity with the subject to be successful and Romeo & Juliet is Shakespeare’s most recognizable play. Jason and I have a long work history and obviously Shakespeare had already done all the heavy lifting, so the script went quickly. We had a brief pre-production period and then shot in about 28 days. Of course, the basic idea for the film is Juliet, of noble Capulet birth, falls in love with Romeo, a zombie and hilarity ensues…that only goes so far. We needed more or it was going to be a one gag show. For me R&J is a parable about how hatred consumes everything around it, but there is this popular notion that the play is the world’s greatest love story. It’s a worship of hysterical juvenile love. For that reason, the play (or at least the popular reading of the play) has a lot in common with 80’s teen romance films. So when we approached the script we were influenced by films like Valley Girl and Pretty in Pink. We expanded the character of Mercuitio to create a love triangle and away we went. Everything flowed from there, including our answer to the problematic question everyone asks, “If Romeo is already dead, how does he kill himself?”

– What was the toughest thing about making it?
We’re a low-budget independent film. I mean in the the literal sense, not the Hollywood sense. What polish we have is due to the talented cast and small crew of the film. It was a team of people who love filmmaking and weren’t afraid to bleed for it, or at very least work long days with no pay for it. Jason and I worked 18 hour days, 6 days a week. Still we couldn’t have done it without our co-producer Jess Jones. She also served as our production & costume designer. She’s like a superhero with better fashion sense. As a director, the biggest challenge was striking a balance between the inherent drama of Shakespeare’s plot and the obvious absurdity of the zombies. I found the comedy worked best the less we reached for it.

– How did you get into the film business?
I started college as a computer science major, but after a few weeks of reflecting on the optimal code for search algorithms, I found myself praying for spontaneous human combustion. On a whim I took an elective in film production at the University of New Mexico and found that filmmaking (particularly editing) was just something I could do. You know, like Mozart at the piano or Carrot Top at prop-comedy. For years after, I made short films in Albuquerque, but my real break in “the business” was when I met Barry Alexander Brown at a local film festival. Barry is Spike Lee’s editor. Shortly after we met, he called me and asked if I wanted to be his assistant editor on the film She Hate Me. That was in 2003. I had two weeks to drop out of college, drop out of my life and move to New York. I did it and now I’m the associate editor for Spike’s feature films and most of his TV work.

– Regular LFF Reviewer, Alan S, had this to say ” Can we take other Shakespearean classics and given them a rom-com-zom twist? For example: The Merchant of Venice Beach – Shylock is a body-building Jewish zombie, who instead of giving a pound of flesh needs to eat a pound of flesh in order to keep his zombie traits in check so he can still work out his rotting carcass and woo the passing Barbie-doll look-a-likes in rollerboots?”

If you happen to use that scenario I’ll put you in touch with Alan to discuss the rights! 🙂

Wasn’t that the plot to Doctor Zhivago?

– A few people have mentioned the similarity to your film and the films by Troma (The Toxic Avenger, Class of Nuke ‘Em High, Red Neck Zombies, etc). Do you think this comparison is justified? If so was it an intentional choice? What is your favourite Troma movie?
My favorite Troma movie is Kung-Fu Kitties (2004 Tromadance short.) That’s a shameless plug for my friend David Valdez who just directed Klown Kamp Massacre (featuring an appearance by Lloyd Kaufman). The truth of it is that I think I’ve only seen two Troma movies: Toxic Avenger and Surf Nazis Must Die. I saw them both when I was but a wee lad and don’t remember them much. Oh, I take that back (and am unwilling to use my backspace key) I’m very fond of Cannibal: The Musical. Shpadoinkle. It’s certainly a comparison I’ve heard before and I’m sure this won’t be the last time. I don’t think it will hold up after people see our film. Troma films are much more violent than R&J. Anyone hoping to see Romeo peel back Tybalt’s skull and eat his brains while a bikini clad starlet screams in petrified terror is going to be sorely disappointed (and better off going to see Klown Kamp Massacre!) There is a prerequisite amount of violence in R&J, but we’re really emulating 80’s teen films, not b-movie horror. We have much more in common with Pretty in Pink than say Dawn of the Dead.

– We seem to be getting more and more zombie films, why do you think they are so popular? Which is your favourite film from the zombie genre?
This is true, you can’t swing a dead cat around the Albuquerque indie-film scene without hitting a zombie movie. It’s a right of passage and this is my contribution. We wanted to do something that stood out from the crowd and I assure you that R&J does. Love it or hate it, you’ve never seen anything like it. The closest is probably Shaun of the Dead or Night of the Comet, but even those films are more conventional than R&J. As for my favorite (forgive the American spelling), I’d have to say Dead Alive. I like genre films that aren’t afraid to break formula and even conventional wisdom for the sake of trying something new. I think filmmakers gravitate toward the genre because horror is the easiest market to find low-budget distribution and zombie horror is probably the easiest to pull off in terms of production value.

– What law would you abolish?
Murphy’s. That’s my witty answer. There are in fact dozens of them I could mention off the top of my head, but my current events answer is California Prop 8. It’s an attack on civil liberties and a line in the sand for those who would like to consider themselves socially progressive. It’s time for people to choose a side. I’m unwilling to think of this issue as something we can all ‘agree to disagree’ on anymore. I don’t regard it any differently than if someone advocated making interracial marriage illegal. Discrimination is discrimination. Okay, now back to the zombie movie….

– If you were going to be killed by any movie villain or monster who or what would it be? What would your last words be?
Ingrid Pitt in Vampire Lovers….or Countess Dracula for that matter. I imagine my last words would be something like “a little to the left…”

– What advice can you give to any new film makers reading this?
Don’t put too much stock in the opinion of someone who has only directed two feature films. Beyond that, I’d say decide why you’re making a movie and then who you are making it for. If you’re just looking to get on the map as a director then go to your local video store and pick-up five or six of the most generic looking horror films you can find. Study their structure, elements (violence, sex, production values) and design your film to fit your resources. If your technical skills are strong, you’ll end up with a financially viable property. Or, you can experiment and take your chances. Both are equally valid ways to approach a film, just be honest with yourself about what you’re doing. However, if you believe nothing else I say believe this…the lower budget your film, the greater your love must be. R&J was like dropping a bomb on my financial and personal life. It’s not worth doing if you don’t love it like a child.

– What advice would you give to any potential victim in a horror film?
It could have been worse, you could have made a low-budget film.

– Have you made any New Year resolutions and if so what are they?
I’m going to be better to the people in my life. I’d like to go the year without hurting anyone. Something happened after I turned thirty and I became so self-centered I’m thinking of breaking-up with myself. When I look back on 2009, I’d like to see the person I’d like to be…..that or I’ll learn to play the banjo.

– Zombie Shakespeare v zombie Charles Dickens?
Depends on the characters. I’m pretty sure Zombie Romeo could take Zombie Oliver Twist. Zombie Othello would work Zombie Nicholas Nickleby (although a film on the subject would run six hours.) But, I think Zombie Scrooge would devastate Zombie Puck. Christmas Carol is halfway to a zombie flick anyway.

– What film do you first remember watching?
How have I never though of that question before? Remember clearly? Probably Star Wars. Aren’t I unique. But, I have flashes of a film earlier than that. I don’t know what it was called. It was an animation of some sort, I think maybe stop-motion. All I remember is that there was a sort of evil character who carried a sack and if boys or girls were bad, he would turn them into mice and stuff them in said sack. That’s all I remember and I don’t swear to the facts or even the existence of this movie. Maybe it was just a nightmare that I now think was a film. If anyone out there knows what I’m talking about I’d appreciate some assistance.

– You favourite film of 2008?
Between post on Spike’s films, R&J and about ten other projects I worked in the last quarter of 2008, I haven’t had a chance to see a lot of what was out there. I’m playing catch-up right now and I’d have to say so far it’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Although I must point out that Kate Winslet kills in The Reader.

– Salted or sweet popcorn?
Parmesan cheese. Blame my mother, I’ve been conditioned since birth.

– You will next be appearing in Klown Kamp Massacre as Liberal Larry. Can you tell us some more about that? What do you find tricker – being in front of the camera or behind it?
I think there’s no question that I’m far better behind the camera. I haven’t done a lot of film acting, but I do enjoy it. My part in Klown Kamp is small. I play the liberal side of two clown pundits arguing on TV. Dave Valdez (the director) sat myself and a saucy gentlemen by the name of Lucien Sims down in front of the camera and just let us go. Lucien and I tend to argue and yell at each other naturally so it didn’t take long to shoot. I have a larger supporting actor role in Barry Alexander Brown’s new film Last Looks. It’s a mockumentary about a horror film crew shooting in Turkey. Things go wrong and some unseen force starts killing the cast and crew for real. That was a lot of fun. Four weeks on location in Turkey. If you google my name, you can still find articles about how I was killed on a boat while shooting a film a few years back. It was part of a marketing stunt at Cannes. A press release was sent out and the AP picked up on it. I think the LA Times even ran it. It didn’t take long to be debunked. Some people thought it was funny and some people seemed personally outraged by it. It never ceases to amaze me what people will get mad about on the internet. Not just opinionated…I mean MAD. PARMESAN CHEESE!!! WHAT A F*#@!% IDIOT!!!

– If you ever won an Oscar who would you thank in the acceptance speech?
My parents of course, whoever was saintly enough to give me money, you for being the first reporter to ever let me ramble on in an interview this long and Ginnifer Goodwin, whom I will undoubtably have meet by then and fostered a meaningful relationship based on mutual love and respect. What? Like this question is clearly concerned with reality. Sorry, I just caught up on Big Love. New season starts next week!

– What is your next film as a director going to be?
I would pay good money to know the answer to that question. I have a number of scripts that are 90% ready to go, but like all things, it depends on financing. It could be anything from a horror/comedy called Plush to a tense sci-fi drama called The Children of Earth. There was a feature film that I shot before R&J but will complete post sometime this year called Chase the Slut. It’s a dramedy (I hate that word, but it applies for brevity) about a young woman who must seduce a church going boy to satisfy a bet with her best friend. It’s sort of a modern version of Dangerous Liaisons, but instead of her being considered a great lover, she’s labeled a slut. Hurray, gender politics! Its writer/star is Vannesa Claire Smith who is enjoying some success in the LA theatre scene right now with Louis & Keely Live at the Sahara. You can see a trailer on YouTube or my website, It should start hitting festivals late this year.

– When and where will we be able to see Romeo & Juliet vs The Living Dead?
We just started submitting to festivals, so we won’t know about that for a little while. At the very least, it should be available on Netflix before 2010 (good lord that year sounds like it should be more than just one year away.) People can email us at to be added to a mailing list. We’ll send out updates for screenings as well as distribution news.

– Thanks for your time Ryan. Good luck with the film.

There you have it. If you are interested in seeing R&JvTLD sign up for the mailing list. I’ll keep posting info about it as well. Can anyone out there help Ryan with that weird film he vaguely remembers?

Previous Interviews: Kenny Carpenter, Neal Asher and the creators of Able

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Oh No! Barack is a Mac User!

Posted by LiveFor on November 13, 2008

Why Barack why? It was all going so well! Cool Pac Man sticker though. Here are 50 things about Barack Obama you may not have known.

• He collects Spider-Man and Conan the Barbarian comics

• He was known as “O’Bomber” at high school for his skill at basketball

• His name means “one who is blessed” in Swahili

• His favourite meal is wife Michelle’s shrimp linguini

• He won a Grammy in 2006 for the audio version of his memoir, Dreams From My Father

• He is left-handed – the sixth post-war president to be left-handed

• He has read every Harry Potter book

• He owns a set of red boxing gloves autographed by Muhammad Ali

• He worked in a Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop as a teenager and now can’t stand ice cream

• His favourite snacks are chocolate-peanut protein bars

• He ate dog meat, snake meat, and roasted grasshopper while living in Indonesia

• He can speak Spanish

• While on the campaign trail he refused to watch CNN and had sports channels on instead

• His favourite drink is black forest berry iced tea

• He promised Michelle he would quit smoking before running for president – he didn’t

• He kept a pet ape called Tata while in Indonesia

• He can bench press an impressive 200lbs

• He was known as Barry until university when he asked to be addressed by his full name

• His favourite book is Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

• He visited Wokingham, Berks, in 1996 for the stag party of his half-sister’s fiancé, but left when a stripper arrived

• His desk in his Senate office once belonged to Robert Kennedy

• He and Michelle made $4.2 million (£2.7 million) last year, with much coming from sales of his books

• His favourite films are Casablanca and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

• He carries a tiny Madonna and child statue and a bracelet belonging to a soldier in Iraq for good luck

• He applied to appear in a black pin-up calendar while at Harvard but was rejected by the all-female committee.

• His favourite music includes Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Bach and The Fugees

• He took Michelle to see the Spike Lee film Do The Right Thing on their first date

• He enjoys playing Scrabble and poker

• He doesn’t drink coffee and rarely drinks alcohol

• He would have liked to have been an architect if he were not a politician

• As a teenager he took drugs including marijuana and cocaine

• His daughters’ ambitions are to go to Yale before becoming an actress (Malia, 10) and to sing and dance (Sasha, 7)

• He hates the youth trend for trousers which sag beneath the backside

• He repaid his student loan only four years ago after signing his book deal

• His house in Chicago has four fire places

• Daughter Malia’s godmother is Jesse Jackson’s daughter Santita

• He says his worst habit is constantly checking his BlackBerry

• He uses an Apple Mac laptop

• He drives a Ford Escape Hybrid, having ditched his gas-guzzling Chrysler 300

• He wears $1,500 (£952) Hart Schaffner Marx suits

• He owns four identical pairs of black size 11 shoes

• He has his hair cut once a week by his Chicago barber, Zariff, who charges $21 (£13)

• His favourite fictional television programmes are Mash and The Wire

• He was given the code name “Renegade” by his Secret Service handlers

• He was nicknamed “Bar” by his late grandmother

• He plans to install a basketball court in the White House grounds

• His favourite artist is Pablo Picasso

• His speciality as a cook is chilli

• He has said many of his friends in Indonesia were “street urchins”

• He keeps on his desk a carving of a wooden hand holding an egg, a Kenyan symbol of the fragility of life

• His late father was a senior economist for the Kenyan government

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Spike Lee’s Miracle at St Anna

Posted by LiveFor on September 8, 2008

Miracle at St. Anna chronicles the story of four black American soldiers who are members of the US Army as part of the all-black 92nd Buffalo Soldier Division stationed in Tuscany, Italy during World War II. They experience the tragedy and triumph of the war as they find themselves trapped behind enemy lines and separated from their unit after one of them risks his life to save an Italian boy.


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Inside Man Sequel – Who’d a thunk it

Posted by LiveFor on September 6, 2008

The first Inside Man was a good film. Denzel Washington and Clive Owen where both good in it and the plot was all well and good..but that was it, just a whole lot of good. I personally didn’t feel it was anything outstanding and I do like me a heist movie. However, word spreads through the interweb that Spike Lee is getting the boys back together for a possible sequel.

Terry George is down to write it. He wrote Hotel Rwanda and In the Name of the Father so I think that means Spike won’t be turning the sequel into a screwball comedy!

As long as the heist tops the last one I will give it a watch, but at the moment it isn’t lighting any fires in the imaginationarium.

What did you think of the first one?


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