Interview: ‘Wetlands’ Director Emanuele Della Valle

Prior to the recent release of Wetlands, I had a chance to speak to the director of the film, Emanuele Della Valle. Emanuele opens up about the film and his life interests. You can read the excerpts from the interview and the full audio of it today.

What was the inspiration for the film:

EDV: I’ve been hanging out in Atlantic City and that area for the past 15 years. My wife is from Philadelphia and that’s where they go for the summer. I know those places and people very well. I knew my first film would be a noir, a drama with a strong element of crime and thriller. You know this place (Atlantic City) has incredible cinematic potential that hasn’t been explored fully, especially in recent years.

On the importance of showcasing and discovering the lesser known side of Atlantic City:

EDV: I discovered myself when I was writing the script. The place was the story. Atlantic City was what this film was about. It wasn’t easy to convince the financiers to go and film it over there, because New Jersey is one of the few states in the U.S. that doesn’t have a film tax credit. That adds immensely to the bottom line. I was persistent and I would rather drop the story than to film it somewhere where it would screw up the authenticity.

MY TAKE:

I genuinely enjoyed talking to Emanuele. He had so much insight to share and seemed very honest and real with everything he said. So there is a point in the interview where Emanuele shares his thoughts on the cast and leading man Adewale Akkinuoye-Agbaje (who is terrific in the film), but there was a technical glitch, so a small portion of the interview is cut out. I’ve mentioned how I like interviewing foreign directors. For some reason every foreign director I interviewed seemed to be very open and I could really hear their passion for their project. Not that American filmmakers aren’t open or passionate, but the way the foreign directors project their passion has stood out to me.

I was very surprised to see this was his feature film debut, mainly due to the quality of the film and the assembled cast. Emanuele’s storytelling and camerawork is very good. I felt he was very personable and easy to talk to. My personal favorite part of the interview was when he offered to just grab a beer and talk film noir. I may just take him up on that offer whenever I’m in NYC or he’s in Chicago.

Wetlands is definitely worth checking out, and not just for fans of the film noir genre. You can read more about it and my thoughts on the film in my review.

Wetlands is out now in select theaters

Movie Review: Battle of the Sexes

The title may suggest that this is some frat vs sorority driven comedy, but it’s nothing like that. Battle of the Sexes tells the real-life story of tennis legend Billie Jean King and her fight for equality that lead to an epic tennis match between her and retired men’s star Bobby Riggs. The story takes place in the early 70’s, well before my time. I found myself surprised that as a fairly big sports fan I didn’t know anything about this tennis showdown prior to seeing the movie. I learned a lot and was also entertained in the meantime. Here is how the movie stacks up.

WHAT’S THIS MOVIE ABOUT:

As touched upon above, the film depicts the the events that lead to the 1973 male vs female tennis match/public spectacle between Riggs and King. That’s what’s on the surface and promos, but the film has a lot more depth and importance to it, with the match serving as more of a backdrop further into the movie.

It’s really about the struggle to gain acceptance that female athletes and civilians had to endure. From bullying to unfair compensation, this time in society wasn’t pleasant to women and people of color. Aside from the public stance for equality, the film delves into the private life and struggle King has with her sexuality.

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HOW DID THE ACTORS DO:

Emma Stone and Steve Carell are fantastic. The strong supporting cast is rounded out with very talented actors. When it comes to Stone, it’s clear she’s entered another level in her acting career. She was terrific in La La Land and earned her Oscar, but her role playing Billie Jean King might be an even better performance from her. There is a lot that Stone shoulders. She manages to balance the public version of King and the private one, which appear to be two different people. In public, King appears to be a spokeswoman that flashes her smile and puts on a happy face. In private, she has the weight of the world on her as she tries keeping her marriage intact while attempting to allow herself to explore her interest in women. Not to mention Stone’s uncanny transformation to resemble King makes her the ideal casting for this role.

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On the other hand, Carell plays the wacky and volatile Riggs. Carell is a dead-ringer for Riggs. The look is unmatched, but more importantly he captures the spirit of who Riggs was. He is a firecracker in this role. His character is amusing, over-the-top, at times charming and a surefire male chauvinistic pig. He manages to capture all those traits and bring them to light. Riggs isn’t necessarily portrayed like a bad guy, but he sure does appeared to be ignorant. Carell knocks it out-of-the-park. A fabulous performance.

The work of Andrea Riseborough can’t be overstated, who plays King’s not-so-secret love interest Marilyn Barnett. Riseborough subtly delivers a strong performance. She’s the glue of the film, both in her acting and the character she plays. Other notable performances come from Sarah Silverman, Bill Pullman (a character you will despise, at least the audience at the screening did) and Elisabeth Shue.

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HOW DID THE MOVIE LOOK AND SOUND:

The look is fitting of the time period the story takes place in. The color palates and projection boasts the grainy 70’s appearance. The costumes and character appearance helped making the era come alive, male mustache and sideburns galore. The sounds come into play once the tennis matches start. Then the sounds of the tennis balls hitting the rackets put you in a drivers seat to witness the action.

WAS IT ENTERTAINING:

Battle of the Sexes was a lot more entertaining than I expected it to be. The movie balances some important societal themes along with the tennis element. I found myself to be more engaged and interested in the person that King was behind-the-scenes. The inner battle she fought in contrast with the outer public one. King was a feminism activist that happened to love tennis. That’s the message this movie relays. The acting of Carell and Stone make their characters personalities seem larger than life. That in itself was entertaining enough.

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IS IT WORTH SEEING:

PROS:

Battle of the Sexes is both educational and entertaining, a fine mix that’s isn’t always achieved in a film that sets out to do that. The performances are excellent all-around. The film has a great flow. Even though it’s a biopic that’s set in the 70’s, it uniquely has a timely feel to it in relation to the current political and social landscape. There is a Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton feel in the Riggs vs King feud. The mean spirited chauvinist Riggs in the role of Trump, while King embracing the more mature and confident role that Clinton seemed to have. Watch it and see if you can take away any comparisons from it.

CONS:

The biggest drawback this movie may have is the promotion of it. It’s Bobby vs Billie tennis battle of sexes in the promos, but the movie is a lot more than that. The younger generation might find the movie hard to relate to and not invest any interest in the topic due to their unfamiliarity of it. Hopefully Emma Stone is enough of a draw to get everyone to come out and see this.

Battle of the Sexes is a movie that will make you cheer and feel empowered, whether you’re a woman or man. In a time of year where award season movies start coming out, this may be the first one to get some awards consideration. Certainly, Stone and Carell for their splendid work, but also the film itself.

  • Movie Rating: PG-13
  • Runtime: 2 hr 1 min
  • Genre: Biography, Drama, Sport
  • Release Date: Friday, September 22, 2017

‘BATTLE OF THE SEXES’ SCORE: 85% (Mandatory Trip To The Theater, Potential Awards Contender)

Win a DVD Copy of the Chilling Horror ‘Escape Room’

Just in time for Halloween comes the new Lionsgate chilling and tension packed horror-thriller Escape Room. Starring Evan Williams (TV’s “Awkward” and “Degrassi: The Next Generation”), Annabelle Stephenson (TV’s “Revenge”), and Billy Flynn (TV’s “Days of our Lives”). This is the kinda claustrophobic movie that will keep you on the edge of your seat. What better way to celebrate Halloween than getting in some timely scares.

You can win a FREE copy of Escape Room. All you need to do is Tweet to @TheReelTalker and/or @TheJimAlexander the name of your favorite scary movie and use the hashtag #EscapeRoom to be entered into a drawing for a free copy of the the film. Only one entry per person is eligible for the drawing. Winners will be selected at random and notified prior to the release of the film on October 17. 

Escape Room releases on DVD, Digital HD and On Demand on October 17, 2017 from Lionsgate. 

‘The Only Living Boy in New York’ Digital HD Release Date Announced

One of my favorite movies of this year The Only Living Boy in New York is coming to Digital HD for its home release. At this time there are no news if there will be a Blu-ray & DVD release date to follow. Lionsgate will release the film on Digital HD on October 20. Here are the special features included:

The home entertainment release of The Only Living Boy in New York includes three featurettes looking at the making of the film, the eco-friendly measures that the production used, and how the character of New York City contributed to the story.

DIGITAL HD SPECIAL FEATURES

  • ”The Making of The Only Living Boy in New York” Featurette
  • The Only Living Boy in New York: A Green Initiative Production” Featurette
  • “New York City as a Character” Featurette

Exclusive Clip For ‘Abundant Acreage Available’

Reel Talker is proud to share the exclusive clip for upcoming film Abundant Acreage Available. The film stars Amy Ryan and Terry Kinney and it’s executive producer is Martin Scorsese.

ABUNDANT ACREAGE AVAILABLE

On a fifty-acre tobacco farm in North Carolina, Tracy (Amy Ryan) and Jesse (Terry Kinney) bury the remains of their recently deceased father in the middle of the field, in the land that he loved. One week later they find three older men camping in their field. Tracy and Jesse discover the men (Max Gail, Francis Guinan, Steve Coulter) are brothers whose family used to own the farm. They haven’t been back in 50 years. Abundant Acreage Available is about family, morality, ownership, grief, and letting go.

Written & Directed by: 
Angus MacLachlan (Academy Award nominated film Junebug)

Executive Produced by:
Martin Scorsese

Starring: 
Amy Ryan (Academy Award nominee for Gone Baby Gone, Birdman)
Terry Kinney (“Billions,” “Oz”) 
Steve Coulter (The Wizard of Lies, “House of Cards”)
Francis Guinan (Hannibal, Constantine)
Max Gail (42, “Barney Miller”)

Win A Digital Copy ‘Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales’!

Tuesday, September 19 marks the digital release date of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and it’s the official‘Talk Like A Pirate Day”. In celebration of the release, Reel Talker is offering a chance to win a free digital copy of the film.

In order to enter for a chance at a copy of the film, tweet #FreePirates and list your favorite Pirates character to @thereeltalker and/or @TheJimAlexander. You have until Friday, September 22 at 12 P.M. C/T to enter. Only one entry will count. A random winner will be selected on September 22 and be notified that day! Make sure to enter and you can be enjoying your free digital copy of the film and the special features!

BONUS FEATURES:

  • Dead Men Tell More Tales: The Making of a New Adventure – Get unique access into the making of this exciting new “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie with this collection of revealing and entertaining stories that you can view individually or as a “play all.”
  • A Return to the Sea – Two talented filmmakers, Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, team up to bring “Pirates of the Caribbean” back to the screen. Hear how this new chapter of the tale was developed.
  • Telling Tales: A Sit-down with Brenton & Kaya – Meet Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario, the young actors behind Henry and Carina. The two sit down together for a revealing conversation on becoming a part of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film franchise and its continuing legacy.
  • The Matador & The Bull: Secrets of Salazar & The Silent Mary – Oscar-winner Javier Bardem reveals more about his menacing new character and the foreboding ship he helms.
  • First Mate Confidential – Go on-set along with Kevin McNally, the affable actor behind the feisty Mr. Gibbs, Captain Jack’s reliable first mate from all five movies.
  • Deconstructing the Ghost Sharks – Peer below the depths at how these ferocious, mythical monsters were designed and brought to life.
  • Wings Over the Caribbean – Captain Jack has a memorable encounter with Sir Paul McCartney – rock ‘n’ roll royalty.
  • An Enduring Legacy – Take one more look at the “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” experience and the impact of “Pirates of the Caribbean” — the movies, the ride and beyond.
  • Bloopers of the Caribbean
  • Jerry Bruckheimer Photo Diary
  • Deleted Scenes
    • Highwayman
    • Henry Turner Learns a Lesson from Captain Jack
    • A Whale in Poseidon’s Tomb
    • Alternate Coda: Murtogg & Mullroy “Flogging”

Must See Movies Releases

The recent list of movie releases has a lot of options for everyone. September has offered a variety of movies, from must see under-the-radar releases to higher profile summer movies that are arriving for home entertainment viewing. Here are the September Blu-ray, DVD, VOD and limited theatrical releases to see:

WONDER WOMAN:

Arguably the best movie of the summer. Wonder Woman amazed audiences and critics with the inspirational portrayal of a superhero that everyone can embrace. Gal Gadot marvels as Wonder Woman. She’s heroic, tough, kind and empowering. Her chemistry with Chris Pine who plays her love interest Steve Trevor is outstanding, they are equally playful as they are connected. The film has a very smart and entertaining plot with a variety of interesting and likable characters. On the surface it may seem like just another superhero movie, but Wonder Woman is a lot more than that. It’s a story of a woman maturing by coming into her own and finding her place in the world. To me this film could also have been mentioned alongside any war movie. The war setting is a major point of the film’s story. Wonder Woman succeeds on a variety of levels, acting, directing (Patty Jenkins), cinematography, story-telling and entertainment. It’s a definite must-see and must own movie.

Blu-ray Bonus Content (including a bonus scene not seen in theaters):

  • Epilogue: Etta’s Mission
  • Crafting the Wonder
  • A Director’s Vision: Themyscira: The Hidden Island 
  • A Director’s Vision: Beach Battle
  • A Director’s Vision: A Photograph Through Time
  • A Director’s Vision: Diana in the Modern World
  • A Director’s Vision: Wonder Woman at War
  • Warriors of Wonder Woman
  • The Trinity 
  • The Wonder Behind the Camera
  • Finding the Wonder Woman
  • Extended Scenes 
  • Blooper Reel 

‘Wonder Woman’ is available on Ultra HD Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray , Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, Digital HD and VOD