‘Thank You For Your Service’ Free Screening For Veterans & Servicemembers

From the man who wrote the hit American Sniper, comes Thank You For Your Service, a film starring Miles Teller, Haley Bennett and Amy Schumer, about U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq, who are struggling fitting in back with society and civilian life.

Active-duty servicemembers and U.S. veterans will be able to see a free screening preview of the film at participating AMC Theaters on October 26. Check out the following details below for more information:

On Thursday, October 26th at 7:00PM, Universal and AMC will grant the first 25 servicemembers access to see THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE for free at participating AMC Theatres.

10,000 free tickets will be presented to U.S. veterans and active-duty servicemembers for DreamWorks Pictures’ Thank You for Your Service—at more than 400 AMC locations nationwide. Each of the first 25 servicemembers (per location) with valid, government-issued ID who request a ticket will be given one free admission to the 7:00 p.m.preview screening. 

For additional information you can visit www.ThankYouForYourService.com

Interview: Director Scott Waugh Discusses ‘6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain’

Scott Waugh has done it all in the entertainment industry. Directing, acting, producing, writing and editing. Not to mention he has 41 stunt acting credits to his name.  A jack-of-all trades in the biz. His previous directing work consisted of Act of Valor and the fun Need For Speed movie, but his best work can be seen in the recently released 6 Below. The film depicts the amazing real life story of Eric LeMarque and his will to survive in the deadly wintry High Sierras. I spoke to Scott about the film and the amazing story of LeMarque. You won’t believe what he told me. This is a must-listen interview.

How important was it to incorporate the wilderness and the surroundings as a central figure in the story:

SW: It is the essence of the story if not its backbone because it is a man against the elements. Being in below zero temperatures and trying to showcase that within those elements and really the change of topography he went through and the change of climate. Dealing with being wet and trying to stay warm and not having food, like in really having those elements being against him those entire eight days.

How much research did you do about human survival under extreme conditions: 

SW: You know, not much, because I wanted to be authentic to Eric and just wanted to talk to him. So I was fortunate to have the real guy and ask him what did you do? Why would I ask anyone how did they survive, I wanna ask the real guy how he survived. I didn’t want the film to be based on a true story, I wanted it to be a story.

MY TAKE: 

I was absolutely blown away by the irony of this story. What are the odds that LeMarque and Waugh actually knew each other and were friends years ago? The fact that they got reconnected due to Scott taking on the film, not even being aware that it’s the story of his friend. Just incredible stuff. Some things in life are meant to be, this HAS to be one of them.

There was this noticeable energy and excitement in Scott’s voice when he talked to me. It’s magnetic and made me want to keep hearing what he has to say. Clearly this is someone who has seen and tried it all in the entertainment industry, so his perspective is definitely one of a kind.

Some of the quotes that came from him, I found to be really poignant. The two that come to mind. “I didn’t want the film to be based on a true story, I wanted it to be a true story.” The other being, “Life is larger than fiction.” Such true and simple statements that make a ton of sense.

I’m glad I had a chance to speak with Scott. Sure, I had to make sure that wasn’t a pic of Survivor’s Jeff Probst. They sure look similar. Scott was very enjoyable and fun. The movie is excellent and may be Josh Hartnett’s best work. A must see.

6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain is out now in select theaters (check local listings), Digital HD and On Demand

 

Movie Review: Goodbye Christopher Robin

This is one of the under-the-radar gems of 2017. Goodbye Christopher Robin delivers on strong emotions from multiple angles. It made my cry, be informed and look back on my childhood and relationship with my father. On the surface this film is about the creation of the Winnie the Pooh story, but beneath the surface it’s about that and a lot more.

WHAT’S THIS MOVIE ABOUT:

It’s the real life story of Winnie the Pooh creator A.A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) and relationship with his son Christopher Robin (yes, the boy from Winnie the Pooh). The film offers a peek behind the curtain in the life of the Milne’s. It’s not necessarily a picturesque peek into their lives, which makes the film that more compelling. The first act details the inner struggles that A.A. endured with. The PTSD that haunted him, yet, he couldn’t talk about, due to the shame returning soldiers had about their undiagnosed traumatic conditions.

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Fox Searchlight Pictures

Milne isn’t given a flawless portrayal as human being, he’s very flawed and conflicted. He doesn’t have any sense of what it’s like to be a father, but neither does his wife Daphne (Margot Robbie), who’d rather just attend lavish receptions and let the nanny take care of the boy. It’s not until the second half of the movie that it starts delving into the Winnie the Pooh stories.

HOW DID THE ACTORS DO:

Domhnall Gleeson stars as A.A. Milne, and he encompasses his inner turmoil and brilliance as effectively as possible. His scenes with Will Tilston who plays Christopher Robin are meaningful and emotional. Margot Robbie really surprised me. She does a terrific English accent, particular to the Sussex region. She’s stylish and exudes beauty as always, but this may be her first notably unlikable character she’s played. Daphne is anything but a nurturing and caring mother and loyal wife. Tilston has the best bowl haircut and most incredible dimples that radiate on-screen. Robin is such a cute and likable character, unlike his parents. Kelly Macdonald plays the nanny Olive, and she steals the show with her love and dedication.

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Fox Searchlight Pictures

The acting is very good and the casting may not look ideal on paper, but on-screen it makes all the sense in the world. Yes, that means Robbie was perfect in the mother role.

HOW DID THE MOVIE LOOK AND SOUND:

The look is very fitting with the time period the story takes place in, 1940’s-50’s. The English countryside looks gorgeous. The most poignant scene is the one in which Christopher Robbin and A.A. share a touching moment together, it’s s a key point in the movie (don’t worry not a spoiler). The rock they sit on, the hill surrounded by the woods and overlooking a gorgeous landscape below, is just stunning visual work.

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Fox Searchlight Pictures 

The score composed by Carter Burwell is outstanding. Not only does it fit with the movie theme, but it’s one that projects the emotions of the scenes.

WAS IT ENTERTAINING:

I didn’t know what to expect of this film. The story of the Winnie the Pooh origins does sound interesting, but is it entertaining? Yes. The movie won’t entertain you with fancy effects, explosions or sex appeal, but it entertains with the most important element—story. It’s engrossing and emotionally fulfilling. Not once did I lose interest or didn’t care about investing further into the story.

IS IT WORTH SEEING:

PROS:

Well cast, with terrific performances. A story where it’s easy to invest into. The film honors the origins of the Pooh story and focuses on the relationships and the people behind it, which ends up being more interesting than the Pooh story. Personally, I found it hard to hold back emotions, maybe because I related it to my relationship with my father.

CONS:

The only question that remains unanswered and touched upon was the Disney connection. There is no mention of Disney, even in the end credits story follow-up. I wish that was addressed at some point, because majority of people are familiar with Winnie the Pooh due to Disney. That’s how I was introduced to it. Heck, I didn’t even know that it wasn’t a Disney entity prior to this film.

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Fox Searchlight Pictues 

Overall, director Simon Curtis manages to capture the emotions of the story and the father-son relationship. Goodbye Christopher Robin tackles some real life issues. The commentary on PTSD and child celebrity parents. Robin may have been the first child star, and his parents pushed him out like cattle, to the boys dismay. The personal family connection is ultimately what this movie is about. The regret, sorrow, joy and emotional vulnerability. By the end of the film I was genuinely teared up. This story got me. The cute bear, piglet, donkey and tiger were just the icing on the cake.

  • Movie Rating: PG
  • Genre: Biography, Family, History
  • Runtime: 1 hr 47 min
  • Release Date: Friday, October 20, 2017 (Chicago & Wide)

GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN’ SCORE: 85%

(Must-See Movie, Take The Family)

Interview: ‘Jungle’ Director Greg McLean

Director Greg McLean is stepping into the Jungle. The man that introduced us to Wolf Creek and the recent The Belko Experiment delivers possibly his most ambitious and intense film with Jungle, starring Daniel Radcliffe. I had a chance to speak to Greg about the film and the challenges he had to endure during the making of it.

What made you wanna tell this story: 

GM: It was a script sent to me by a producer friend of mine. I read it and fell in love with the idea. The reason I fell in love with it was because I was very interested in the fact it was a true story. I thought it was a very inspiring tale of what people are really capable of. The real reason was that I thought it was an amazing parable of how people use their imagination to escape from uneasy situations of horror in their life. 

Since this film is based on a real person and their story, how much freedom did you have to incorporate things on your own, or did you just try to honor all of the facts and reality that was available to you:

GM: Well because it was based on a book and because I had the writer of the book, the real person there with me when I was prepping and shooting, you know my job really was to try to use my filmmaking craft and skills to tell the story. I was trying to get out of the way and trying capture the essence of the real people, the real texture and atmosphere of what really happened. To me the most interesting part about was trying to authentically recreate the scenario and these relationships. As a filmmaker I tried to get out of the way of the story and tried to tell it very simply and honestly.

MY TAKE: 

I really enjoyed Greg describe the process of making Jungle. I feel he elaborated well and really makes you understand what they went through and the conditions that were presented while filming. I can only imagine how the rain threw them a curveball attempting to film the river scene. I could sense in the way he spoke about the river scene that there was genuine fear for the talent attempting that. Looking back on it, even in the movie it looks daring.

The casting of Daniel Radcliffe simply works for this role. This is the most physically demanding and intense role I’ve ever seen Radcliffe in. His range and diversity of roles he’s taken in recent years is noticeable. He’s really good and to think he plays a real guy who actually endured all these hardships is quite incredible.

I thought it was awesome that Greg plays video games, collects Marvel comics and Star Wars memorabilia. That’s the fun part of talking to these talented filmmakers and actors, you get to know a side of them and their interests away from the business. They are the same like every one of us, but just happen to be doing a really cool job they are passionate about, but also have their own passions and interests on the side.

Jungle is out now in select theaters (check local listings), Digital HD and On Demand

Must See Releases Of The Week (Oct. 17)

In the weekly installment of must see releases of the week, the week of October 17 offers some interesting under-the-radar choices. The following are Blu-ray, DVD, VOD and limited theatrical releases you should check out.

SHOT CALLER:

This film is a drama-thriller, but it’s scary how intense it is. Shot Caller depicts the intimidating world of prison life. Game of Thrones Nikolaj Coster-Waldau stars in the leading role (he’s terrific) as a prisoner who is operating outside the prison, but under prison rules. It’s about two very different worlds, the prison life, and outside and how little gangs rule from both sides. The inside look that of prison life is as authentically depicted as a non-documentary movie possibly can. The cast is of supporting talent is very strong with the likes of Lake Bell, Jon Bernthal and Emory Cohen. Shot Caller is raw, violent and engrossing. Life throws us curveballs and this story you see the extreme measures someone will go to protect people closest to them.

Special Features:

  • “Inside Job” Featurette
  • Filmmaker Commentary

Shot Caller is available now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD

Interview: ‘Escape Room’ Director Will Wernick

Lionsgate’s Escape Room is a perfect mystery horror film treat for Halloween. The film is out now on DVD and I had a chance to talk about it with the director Will Wernick. This interview contains the film’s *SPOILERS* so beware while listening.

What made you want to direct this film:

WW: I was working on another film with one of our producers Kelly Delson and her husband, I was at their house one night, at the end of a meeting he pulled me aside and asked why hasn’t there been a movie about an escape room? I said that was a really good question. So I went home an outlined it and came back the next morning and said I have a writer that can write this quickly and we can get it going and we were shooting three months later. I’ve never seen anything get financed that quickly. 

This movie seems like it’s set in real time, there is a lot of mystery, is this something you were going for: 

WW: Absolutely, I’m a big fan of fun thrillers. We didn’t stick with it, but in the original outline the idea was that there would be a clock that you always saw, so escape room portion would be exactly an hour. That doesn’t really work out when you make a movie, but I think we we were pretty close. It ends up being a little less.

MY TAKE: 

This is the kind of movie that I’m fortunate to speak to the director of it about. Escape Room is like a puzzle and it leaves you with a few interpretations, especially the ending. I enjoyed hearing Will elaborate on the motives and ideas they had for the characters and plot. Will proved me right, when he confirmed that the movie was supposed to and was consciously trying to have the escape room take place in real time.

The actors chemistry really worked, so I was surprised to hear that they haven’t met or knew each other prior to the filming. Credit to their professionalism and skills. This movie couldn’t have been done without a solid ensemble cast that clicked together.

Escape Room really impressed me. It’s a thought provoking movie with a compelling story and theme. The ending had me wanting more, so I’m glad Will is working on a sequel. I’ll be looking forward to it.

Escape Room is out now on DVD, Digital HD and On Demand

‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’ Director Simon Curtis Discusses The Film

It’s safe to say that majority of kids in this country and around the globe grew up with Winnie the Pooh in some way. Whether it was your favorite bedtime story, favorite animated film, or even your favorite plush toy (I had a Piglet and Pooh push toy). Winnie the Pooh is one of the trademark Disney favorites, but the story of Pooh didn’t start out as a Disney tale.

In Goodbye Christopher Robin, director Simon Curtis brings forth the real story of Winnie the Pooh and the people that brought it to life. I sat down with Curtis at the Park Hyatt Hotel on his press tour stop in Chicago. I walk into the hotel room, Curtis walks over and introduces himself to me and shakes my hand. He sits down on the couch comfortably leaning in my direction, as I sit down in a chair to the side of him. We delve into the movie immediately.

“I wanted to tell a story about a father and son,” said Curtis, discussing the important element of the story that he wanted to tell.

Curtis points out that aside from the creation of the Winnie the Pooh story, there are other important factors he was glad to depict. He mentioned how important it was to to highlight the father-son relationship, but also the trauma of PTSD that A.A. Milne silently suffered through.

“Back then there was a shame associated with PTSD, they called it as shell shock, that no one wanted to talk about, people wanted to avoid talking about the war.”

The film depicts the life of A.A., played by Domhnall Gleeson, and the personal struggles he had to endure prior and during the writing of the Pooh story. A.A. isn’t a present father figure for his son, Christopher Robin.

“During the time that the story takes place in England, especially the upper middle-class families, the nannies took care of the children and often spent more time with them than the parents” Curtis said.

In the movie, the nanny, Olive (Kelly Macdonald), plays a critical role in raising Christopher Robin (Will Tilston). She’s the mother figure to the boy, while the actual birth mother Daphne Milne (Margot Robbie) goes on a hiatus and leaves him and his father behind.

Tilston is terrific as Christopher Robin. He has these adorable dimples that radiate on-screen. The search for Christopher Robin wasn’t an easy one as Curtis described.

“We auditioned hundreds and looked through thousands of boys until we found Will. He looked like Christopher Robin and was just terrific.”

Indeed Tilston is wonderful and very likable in the film, but so is the older version of Christopher Robin, played by Alex Lawther.

During the discussion, Curtis decides to present an impromptu quiz by asking, “Do you know what movie you remember seeing him (Lawther) from?”

I had to ponder. Struggling to put that familiar face with the character in a movie I could remember seeing. Luckily, Curtis was there with the helping answer.

“He was the young Alan Turing, the younger version of Benedict Cumberbatch in Imitation Game,” Curtis says excitedly.

When the book gains worldwide popularity, Christopher Robin becomes a huge celebrity figure. The boy didn’t understand why he was being exploited and why strangers paid so much attention to him, he struggled with the fame as he was bullied as he aged and turned into a young adult.

“Christopher Robin may have been the first celebrity child with these showbiz parents. He didn’t want anything to do with the fame, he just wanted to be a regular boy.”

I asked Curtis about why the film didn’t touch upon the Disney connection, but he felt that it was important to tell the story of the people involved and there wasn’t any Disney involvement necessary, as that was something that happened after the events that he wanted to detail in the movie.

As the interview was winding down I mentioned how I felt a personal connection to the story and related it to the relationship I had with my father. I told Simon that I recently lost my father who he did have personality similarities to A.A. Milne, as he struggled with showing emotions and bonding with his children also. This movie made me reflect on that relationship we had. Curtis told me he was very pleased and touched that the movie connected with me on that level. In response to what i shared, Curtis said, “That’s all I could hope for, to have someone have that reaction and meaning from it. That’s wonderful that you did. Thank you.”

No, thank you Simon. Thank you for making a movie that made me feel and reflect on something personal. Thank you for making me shed a few tears and experience emotions watching this film. Thank you for making a movie everyone can enjoy and take something out of it. There is a little bit of Christopher Robbin in all of us. Look no further than below.

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Me on the left, aka the apparently toothless Christopher Robin look alike. My sister (with teeth) on the right. Adorable puppy in the middle. 

Goodbye Christopher Robin is out now in select theaters in NYC & LA and opens Chicago & nationwide on October 20.