Saturday 12 Jul
 
 

 

OKG Newsletter


Topic: interview

R&R Q&A with Theresa Russell

In which I get on ‘Track’ with one of indie cinema’s finest actresses.

With “Track 29,” one of Gary Oldman’s first films, now making its DVD debut, we talked to its lead actress, Theresa Russell about the 1988 movie, directed by her then-husband, Nicolas Roeg (“Don’t Look Now,” “Full Body Massage”). Russell’s enjoyed a lengthy career, from 1976’s “The Last Tycoon” alongside Robert De Niro, and more recent roles in “Wild Things,” “Spider-Man 3” and even an episode of Fox’s cult series “Fringe.”

R&R: Before we talk “Track 29,” I want to let you know that I was in high school when I rented “Insignificance” (Roeg’s little-seen 1985 comedy in which Russell played Marilyn Monroe), and I think your Marilyn Monroe was way better and sexier than Michelle Williams’ Marilyn Monroe. 

Russell: Well, thank you very much, I appreciate that! I thought I did a pretty good job in that one, too. That was tough, too, to tread that water and thread that needle and walk that tightrope, for lack of a better metaphor.

R&R: With films like that and “Eureka” and “Aria,” I think you can draw a direct line from those to the indie-film revolution that began in 1989 with “sex, lies and videotape.” Do you think maybe you haven’t gotten enough credit for that work?

Russell: I don't know about me, but certainly Nic [Roeg]. He really was one of the first people to start going down that road. He should get more credit. Give him more credit!

R&R: You sure did star in a lot of indies then, though, including “Track 29.”

Russell: Yeah, I did. They were just most interesting. Those days, it was a lot more sexist then in the main studio films. The guy had all the things to do, and the girl was there to show he had a heart of gold, and to have sex with him. The position was always her on top, writhing with her tits out. Which is fine — I'm not shy, obviously. But that kind of gratuitous sex scene, they bugged the shit out of me and were just boring. The more interesting, challenging roles were always those weird ones. I did a lot for love and now I'm poor, so you pay the price. I certainly don't regret any of that.

R&R: I’m sure you get a lot of questions about Gary Oldman, so I’m not going to ask one. But I will ask what memories may stand out from making “Track 29.”

Russell: It has been a long time since I've seen it. When we read the first script by Dennis Potter and knew we were going to do it, it was a good eight months before we did it. In the rewrites and incarnations since, I had more input in that one, and even Gary. We had seen him in ... oh, “Sid and Nancy,” I think, and we thought he'd be perfect.

R&R: Where do you place the film among your body of work? 

Russell: I'm certainly proud of it. It turned out pretty much the way I thought Nic was going to do it. I think it was a really interesting film to make and watch. I guess the favorite of mine would have to be “Bad Timing,” just because. I was young and green — well, not green green, but I was 22 and hadn't even been to Europe, you know? In terms of creative and personal growth and taking on a huge complex character like that, that was pretty intense. That one will probably be my all-time favorite.

R&R: What about outside of the films you did with Nic?

Russell: I guess “Whore,” because it was so tough. I don't know if it turned out that great, but in terms of the work I did on it, where I had to go emotionally.

R&R: What do you most get recognized for?

Russell: You know, it's probably still “Black Widow,” believe it or not, after all these years.

R&R: I would’ve guessed it would’ve been “Spider-Man 3.”

Russell: I had more scenes in that thing, too! I was so upset! There were so many good scenes I had in that that didn't make the film. Oh, well. That happens. —Rod Lott
by Rod Lott 02.24.2012 2 years ago
at 08:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

The Typist — Midwestern High Life


Rock

Matt Carney
A lot of frustration is unbottled by The Typist’s debut album.
 
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
innkeepers

R&R Q&A with Ti West

In which the indie horror director of ‘The Innkeepers’ talks about checking out of the genre.

With 2009’s The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers, which hit video this week, writer/director Ti West has established himself as the great hope of intelligent, independent fright films. So why does he want out of it? Read on.

R&R: What is it about horror movies and hotels?

West: It's probably because they're a transient place. Their history is made up of a history of a bunch of strangers who stay there. For me, this movie wasn't about hotels as much as it was this hotel, because I lived there for almost three months while making House of the Devil, and this movie — I wouldn't say it was based on that experience, but it formed from that experience. So it was weirdly personal.

R&R: Because The Innkeepers is set in a hotel, I’m sure you hear comparisons to The Shining. Do you think those are valid?

West: I certainly hear it mentioned a lot, which is unavoidable, but we tried hard not to evoke The Shining. Once you put a Steadicam in a hallway in a hotel, you're kind of screwed, but I think we pulled off our own thing there. I don't know how you get around it, because The Shining is probably one of the best horror movies ever made, if not the best.

R&R: I love your “slow burn” style, but at the same time, I can understand why some people would not. I’ve heard some people say they didn’t like your films — not because they were or were not scary, but because they had a problem with the pacing. With the instant gratification the Internet provides, do you think today's audiences may not know how to respond to an approach like that?

Ti West

West: To some degree, yeah. Movies in general, but specifically horror movies, have been aimed at the lowest common denominator for the last 10 years — like, extremely more so than they ever have been.

You're meant to be a passive audience member for today's movies. You're supposed to just go there and stare blankly at the screen and go home. That's not really the kind of movies I make or the kind of movies I grew up on, but that is the state of modern movies. I don't think that's going to change too much.

I hear it all the time, but I don't fully understand the “slow burn” thing. I realize it's generally a compliment so I'm fine with it, but I never heard the term until people started telling me that's what I was. I don't set out to make a movie where my reason for making the movie is just people getting killed, so I'm not really in a hurry to get to that part. That's what mainstream horror movies right now are: About every 10 minutes, you have to thrill them with something. I don't think that way.

R&R: What horror films have influenced your own? What are some of your favorites?

West: I'm not as much of a horror guy as people think that I might be. Of course, I really do like the genre, but of the thousand or so DVDs that I have, it's probably the minority on the shelf there. For me, my favorite kind of movies are by filmmakers who have a voice where you can tell it's a movie by that person. When you see a Coen brothers movie, you can tell it's a Coen brothers movie; Terry Gilliam, Sam Raimi and so on and so forth — filmmakers like that who have made horror movies, who bring their style to that genre, as well as bring more than just surface-level stuff.

You know, The Exorcist is about a woman with a sick daughter, and then it's a horror movie. Or The Shining is about an alcoholic man who hates his family, and then it's a horror movie. I think that any time those themes are more prevalent than the genre, the movies tend to be much better.

Some of my favorites are The Shining, The Exorcist, Rosemary's Baby, The Changeling, Don't Look Now, The Thing, Night of the Living Dead — you know, it's not really shocking that it's all the obvious top 10 that everybody has.



R&R: Do you fear getting typecast? Directors like George Romero and John Carpenter have said they didn’t set out to be horror directors, that they’d like to do other things, but they can’t get anything else financed.

West: It's already happened, so it's a little too late for that.

I don't think I'll do horror that much longer. I may come back to it, but I've made six horror movies in seven years, which is quite a lot and I have a sort of werewolf movie out there hoping to get made soon, and a science-fiction horror movie that's out there waiting to get made soon, and kinda after that, there's really not a lot to do without repeating myself.

It will be tough, because people will want to say, "Well, we'll give you money for horror movies," but the answer I have for that is they don't give me very much money for horror movies. I can go make anything for not very much money.

R&R: With something like House of the Devil that doesn’t get a wide theatrical release, how is its success measured? Is it just by number of DVDs sold?

West:
It's measured in different ways. For me, it's financially not particularly successful, in the sense that I don't get rich off of it.

That doesn't mean it's not successful. I know when Magnolia put it out theatrical and on VOD, they made plenty of money. It was very successful for them. And when MPI and Dark Sky Films put it out on DVD, it made plenty of money and was very successful for them. For me, it made my life a little bit easier for getting another movie made.

I did get some salary making the movie; it wouldn't blow anyone's hair back, but it was enough to just make a movie for a year. And I got to make the movies I want with limited interference, so that is successful, and The Innkeepers is remarkably close to that. They work out for everybody.

The thing is now, I don't want to make a movie at that budget anymore. I don't need a lot more money, but instead of doing a movie for $800,000, I'd like to do one for $4 million so I can do a little bit more stuff I keep not being able to do, and that just takes a lot longer. It's a much slower process, and that really drives me crazy for someone who's made six movies in seven years.

R&R: Of all of those six, do you have a favorite?

West: I can't watch them. It's like hearing your voice on tape. There's one I'm unhappy with, but other than that, yeah, I'm good with all of them. The Innkeepers is my favorite thus far, probably because it's the most recent. I think that whatever I make next will, therefore, be my favorite and so on. I think that's just sort of the way it's going to go for me.

R&R: What was the budget for Pat Healy's hair and all the product that went in it to make it stick up like that?

West: Quite high. It was most of the budget. —Rod Lott

Hey! Read This:
Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever DVD review
The House of the Devil DVD review
The Innkeepers Blu-ray review

by Rod Lott 04.26.2012 2 years ago
at 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 
bousman

R&R Q&A with Darren Lynn Bousman

The director discusses a not-so-happy ‘Mother’s Day.’

Best known for directing Saw II through IV, Darren Lynn Bousman has two movies out right now with the near-simultaneous home-video release of Mother’s Day and 11-11-11. Missed them in theaters? So did most of America, and here’s why ...

R&R: Do you miss those Saw weekends, where those huge grosses come in? Because these two movies, unfortunately, haven't enjoyed a wide theatrical release. And I think Mother's Day certainly deserved one.

Bousman: Please put that in your write-up! Mother's Day is a sad story — a very sad story. It was a movie that tested through the roof, that I thought was going to put me back on the map in a big way, and it didn't get released. There are many reasons why — part of it had to do with subject matter, part of it had to do with distribution fumbles, part of it had to do with bank issues — one thing after another after another.

And it killed me. As an artist and filmmaker, you're proud of what you do and you want people to see it, but things happen and you've just got to deal with it. So I've sat on it for three years now, knowing no one would get to see it. I loved that Saw got released on 3,000 screens and everyone wanted to see the movie.

That said, I've kind of got a new avenue to vent my frustrations in that we're doing, that's called The Devil's Carnival. I'm self-distributing it, and basically, it's kind of an “F you” to The Man who sits up there and says, "Your movie has to X, Y and Z, or no one's going to see it."

I just don't believe that. I was told that Repo! The Genetic Opera was a non-commercial movie that nobody wanted to see, and we went out touring the country with it and found our audience. We assembled an army.

Same with Devil's Carnival. We ourselves are putting it in theaters. It will be in more theaters than my last three movies combined. We're selling out every single night, the lines wrap around blocks, and it's an awesome feeling to take control back and see that there is an audience. It's not as simple as just putting a trailer out — you have to find them, 100 percent literally. We're driving thousands of miles across the U.S. and Canada, stopping into these theaters and making friends for life.

I'm still very proud of Mother's Day. I just wish that more filmmakers would do this, to show that … Mother's Day didn't have to die. It could show in 200 theaters the same way as Devil's Carnival. If Devil's Carnival, which is a little rock opera and not mainstream at all, could sell out these theaters in these cities, then Mother's Day, which is much more commercial and mainstream, could as well. I hope people will find it on DVD and embrace it.

R&R: I hope they will, too, because I thought you got a terrific performance out of Rebecca De Mornay.

Bousman:
I agree. It was one of those things that just clicked. I jokingly said to her numerous times, hopefully not insulting her, "This is your John Travolta in Pulp Fiction." Because that movie put him back on the map. It's a shame more people aren't getting to see her as Mother — she's beyond fantastic.

R&R: Does it bother you that your name may be forever linked with the Saw movies, no matter what you do, no matter what you might make in the future?

Bousman: It's cool, it's fine. Saw gave me my start. They believed in me when no one else did. That's forever part of me, and I wear that badge with pride. That said, I think what I'm doing now surpasses that. The reality is, I just showed up for Saw. Regardless of whether I made a good movie or a bad movie, it would open on 3,000 screens and went on to make a lot of money.

Now, I think I made good Saw films. I'm proud of the work I did. But the reality is, I showed up. I was lucky. I think right now, this challenging the system — the way people perceive movies have to be put out. We have no publicity team on this movie. It's Twitter and Facebook. I've learned never to be complacent again, to let a movie go into obscurity. If I believe in a movie, I will pick it up and I will do the fight.  

R&R: Have you given up on other offers, or are you determined to do only your own projects from here on out?

Bousman: Listen, I am ready and willing to sell out, 100 percent. I would love to do another big studio movie. Nothing would make me happier. But the reality is, the movies that speak to me are very unconventional. And I've found a niche that drives me. So the question is, will they let me make another movie? I hope so. But I'm not going to sit around and wait. I'll keep making things that inspire me.

R&R: You seem to be perfectly happy to stay working in the horror genre. Do you have a desire to venture outside that world?

Bousman: I'm writing an action script right now, basically a thriller. I'd like to journey outside, but I don't think I'm ever going to go that far away from it. I love the macabre, I love the dark, I love the twisted. —Rod Lott

Hey! Read This:
11-11-11 DVD review 
Mother’s Day Blu-ray review  
Saw 3D Blu-ray review 



by Rod Lott 05.09.2012 2 years ago
at 08:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 
monsterbrawl

R&R with Jesse Thomas Cook

Talking with the mastermind behind ‘Monster Brawl,’ the movies’ ultimate fight of the living dead.

No apologies necessary if you don’t recognize the name of Jesse Thomas Cook. Just know that the Canadian filmmaker is to the new film Monster Brawl what Vince McMahon is to the WWE: its supreme leader. The wrestling analogy is apropos, given that the writer/director’s movie is, as the title promises, all about creatures battling it out in the ring.

R&R:
From watching the movie, it's obvious you love wrestling and monsters, but what about comic books? Because I got a definite comic-book vibe from it.

Cook:
Yeah, I mean there is that feel to it. I wasn't a huge comic book fan, but a lot of the people involved in the movie were, especially Jason Brown, who designed all of the monsters and the sets.

R&R:
Being structured as a wrestling match, Monster Brawl is not traditional storytelling. And you’re catching flak for that from some reviewers. Did you expect that going in?

Cook:
It exists outside of a traditional movie structure, for sure. It's more of a pay-per-view event and tournament-style movie. That's why we put in the backstories, that let us cut away here and there to get a glimpse of each monster.

R&R:
Was DVD your ultimate goal from the start, or did you have visions of a huge theatrical release?

Cook:
We knew going in this would be probably more of a VOD and DVD and Blu-ray. It's really hard to do theatrical nowadays as an indie film. No, we didn't have huge ambitions for that. We had a limited theatrical release in Canada and thought it would play well at midnight screenings, and it has.

R&R: I was surprised at how kid-friendly it actually is. Other than the character being named Witch Bitch and some minor gore, I could let my 7-year-old watch this. And believe me, he really wanted to, but since I hadn’t yet seen it, I couldn’t find any info online at how appropriate it was.

Cook:
We wanted to make it accessible to everyone, even people who weren't huge fans of wrestling and monsters. We just wanted to make a fun movie.

R&R:
And you may be too close to it to answer this, but are you pleased with it?

Cook:
Absolutely, looking back a year or two after, we could've done things here and there, but with the money with had and such a small crew, I think we pulled off something really special. The budget wasn't much more than a documentary film would have. If there were ever a sequel, it'd be nice to have a bigger budget, but that's something down the road.

R&R:
How possible is that?

Cook:
I think it's very possible. There's been talks of a remake. We've had discussions about that with a few companies. If that weren't to happen, we'd definitely explore trying to do a sequel or turning it into some kind of franchise.

R&R:
If you do have a sequel, what monsters might be in it? Or were they any you had to cut that you’d want to bring into another one?

Cook:
We definitely wanted to do a yeti and a sasquatch as a tag team. We wanted to do a Royal Rumble with some zombies against some trolls. We had a list, but logistically and practically, some we could not afford to do with our special-effects budget, so the monsters we did select, we wanted to appease fans of the classic monsters and toss in a couple of ones that would kind of mimic wrestling archetypes.

Like, Swamp Gut is the essential obese wrestler, like King Kong Bundy. Witch Bitch, we wanted to have a couple of female wrestlers in there. We had a list of several mythological monsters, but Cyclops is the only one off that list we chose. But yeah, there's a long list of possibilities. And obviously, in a sequel, you could bring monsters back to life. —Rod Lott

Hey! Read This:

Monster Brawl Blu-ray review  


by Rod Lott 06.15.2012 2 years ago
at 08:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

Mumford’s the word!

Mumford & Sons, Magnetic Zeros to headline September music festival in Guthrie.


Music

Zach Hale
Grammy-nominated folk-rock sensations Mumford & Sons are coming to Oklahoma. The British four-piece band will perform Saturday, Sept. 7 in Guthrie as one leg of the Gentlemen of the Road tour.
 
Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Who is Is/Is?

Good question. Not even the three members of the alt-rock band know for sure.


Music

Joshua Boydston
Is/Is with Feel Spectres and Power Pyramid
8:30 p.m. Tuesday
The Conservatory
8911 N. Western
conservatoryokc.com
607-4805
$7
 
Wednesday, April 24, 2013

5 WTF Facts About Justin Bieber

No, really, these are true.


Music

Rod Lott
If you are a parent to a tween girl, you likely already know what I'm about to say in the next sentence. Yesterday, teen idol Justin Bieber returned to Oklahoma City to invade the Chesapeake Energy Arena, 100 W. Reno. But did you know these five things about the 19-year-old Biebz?
 
Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Spectacular story

Oklahoma author Tim Tharp approves of The Spectacular Now’s buzzed-about film adaptation.


Drama

Aimee Williams
Tim Tharp doesn’t need vampires, magical powers or a dystopian backdrop to make his novels relevant. The award-winning, Oklahoma-based author’s realism distinguishes him from the bulk of young-adult storytellers.
 
Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Take shelter

Dr. Dog’s new DIY recording space has the grizzled indie rock group feeling, um, dogged.


Music

Joshua Boydston

Dr. Dog with The Lumineers and Nathaniel Rateliff
6 p.m. Thursday
OKC Downtown Airpark
1701 S. Western Ave.
wheresthemusic.net
364-3700
$35

 
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
 
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