Covid Movie News: Would You Like to Make That Mask a Large?

Covid Movie News: Would You Like to Make that Mask a Large?

 

The Corona Virus has changed the face of the world as we know it. The virus has put a mask on it. AMC with its latest press release has stated that now its patrons must wear a mask. In light of the recent Covid case increase with lockdown being relaxed, it makes sense. They have even stated that masks will be provided. One can assume that we will given one at the concession stand, if the ticket booth misses the opportunity. Will we then be asked if we would like to make it a large one for a small fee?

The introduction of this latest in Covid fashion will, undoubtedly, change our viewing habits as well. What with social distancing being a factor and the vast majority of the world on quarantine for over two months,  the average film goer may have problems enjoying the “new” movie experience.  How on earth will we shovel greasy covered popcorn or jalapeño infused nachos into our hungry mouths?

These oxygen deprivation devices will also, presumably, change how audiences react to the films as well. Granted, these “chokers” will only be on for the duration of the movie theatre experience, but, as anyone who has worn these torture contraptions knows, breathing is an issue. Not to mention, laughing, talking and seeing (as in misty glasses) all these things are impaired considerably.

On the up side, the annoying habit of other cinema patrons talking non-stop throughout the feature will be cut down. Or… It will be considerably louder with the added attraction of being indiscernible mumbling that will infuriate the unwilling listener just as much.

Kudos to AMC for trying to ride the fence and not getting impaled with splinters after their initial “We don’t want to annoy anyone” statement of “Masks will not be required.” The public outcry, which is amazing since at least half the populace are refusing to wear the annoying  things,  against the chains’ mediocre stance caused AMC to hastily jump off said fence tout suite.

Another thing to consider here is the future of film. Not just Hollywood but my beloved Indies as well, are also going to change. Mayhap, this will be short term, something that we can show our grandkids and say, “See in the early 2020’s we all wore masks.” But for all productions being filmed this year, masks will have to be on for all “present day” features.

*Also televison: So when “The Rookie” (ABC cop-show with Nathan Fillion) returns after it’s mid-season/Corona Virus  break, will the entire cast wear masks? With half their faces being hidden from view will we be treated to “acting with eyes?” Norma Desmond would have had a heart attack. “We had faces then!” We won’t even go into video games and the ominous feels this will evoke, “The Last of Us” anyone?*

Covid Movie News: Would Like to Make That Mask a Large?

2020 has been a sea of change, most of it not good at all, and parts of it have been downright terrifying:  Corona Virus, world-wide race demonstrations, hate for the Blue Line regardless of facts, a president who appears to be falling to pieces and a government tearing itself apart. All these elements combined with the Holy Catholic Church, for a time, cancelling public Mass for the first time ever in history have set most folks on the road to fear and unease.

In a world full of “fake news” and misinformation, 2020 feels like a badly written science fiction piece about global control and fear mongering. The Corona Virus, also known as “the Rona,” may yet turn out to be a proverbial mountain made out of a molehill. Until that time, it will be “masks on” and full steam ahead as the world struggles through this change in our times.

I don’t know about anyone else, but this writer will continue to place his faith in Our Lord and Redeemer and attend Mass either publicly or virtually. Movies, either streamed or publicly aired, will also be watched and enjoyed, with or without mask. Hats off to AMC for actually opening up their dream houses and trying to entertain the consumer again. Only history will tell if this was a good idea or not and we may not be around to find out. Be safe and remember to love your neighbour.

Oh and I’ll keep a regular mask please, the large would be too much.

Michael Knox Smith

19 June 2020

 

 

The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017): Having a Christmas Bawl

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Adopted from the Les Stanford book; the screenplay by Susan Coyne, The Man Who Invented Christmas is Bharat Nalluri’s seasonal offering. This “bio-comedy/drama” elicits chuckles and a lot of tears in this telling of how Charles Dickens creates one of the most popular Christmas tales ever. Only the most cold hearted “Scrooge” of a viewer will not “bawl” his or her eyes out at the film’s story.

Dan Stevens is Dickens, Christoper Plummer is Scrooge, Jonathan Pryce is the feckless father that Charles Dickens loves to hate and newcomer Anna Murphy is Tara; the Irish maid who becomes, to a degree, Dickens’ muse. The cast is full of splendid English character actors who are all familiar faces to those across the pond and each helps to bring this tale to brilliant life.

In The Man Who Invented Christmas the once celebrated author has had three flops in a row and he is suffering writer’s block. A chance incident provides inspiration and while his erstwhile agent and friend  (played by the brilliant John Edwards) supports the increasingly desperate writer.

There are elements of melodrama in this Christmas tale about the miser who changes his ways after being visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve. Nalluri gives us a Dickens with a bootblack background who interacts with the character’s of his books as he works toward a satisfactory ending.

The sets, the costumes and the actors all go toward recreating London in the early 1840s. Dickens is a tortured soul with more than enough “Scrooge” in his soul to upset everyone who loves him. His wife suffers his mood swings and foul temper as best she can and Charles’ father tries too hard to atone for his past sins.

Despite the drama, there are many amusing elements to the film and with the cream of English filmdom applying their trade almost effortlessly, there is no doubt that this new “take” on “A Christmas Carol” will also become a classic. All the performers work seamlessly  making  their characters fit together  perfectly.

Personal favorite Simon Callow  plays Leech, the illustrator with his usual flair and the delightful Miriam Margolyes, as well as Morfydd Clark and Ger Ryan, prove that the ladies in this cast are no shirkers in the acting department either.

The Man Who Invented Christmas contains enough glimpses, and nods and winks, to the tale that has been made into plays, films and television adaptations,  that fans of the story will be moved to tears repeatedly. This drama/comedy with its biographical overtones may be an imaginative and somewhat fanciful look at how Dickens created Scrooge and, indeed, all his characters but it works beautifully.

Having seen the late Albert Newly bring Scrooge to life in 1994 on a London stage and turn in a performance that was, in a word, brilliant, it was just as impressive to see what Plummer does with this famous character. The Canadian octogenarian makes the miser his own and bestows a sly wit upon this curmudgeonly workhouse fan.

The Man Who Invented Christmas is a tearful 5 star effort. If watched in the cinema, the viewer should brings copious amounts of tissues and prepare to be embarrassed by all the fluid streaming down their face.

This one is a winner.

Debbie Reynolds Dead at 84: A Life Well Lived

A young Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds

Debbie Reynolds an Oscar nominated star of the ’50’s and 60’s has died one day after her daughter Carrie Fisher died from a heart attack aged 60. Todd Fisher informed the press after Ms. Reynolds was admitted to hospital earlier on Wednesday, 28 December with breathing problems.

Reynolds, who started off her career as a major film star by impersonating  Betty Hutton, became America’s sweetheart after playing roles like Tammy, in Tammy and the Bachelor (which spawned a million selling single for Debbie Reynolds; “Tammy’s in Love”).

It was after appearing in the  1952 Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor film Singin’ in the Rain that Reynolds’ career really took off. She went on to make a number of hit films, including  The Unsinkable Molly Brown  before she turned to television.

Ms. Reynolds did not completely leave the cinema however. She voiced the spider in Charlotte’s Web in 1973. She worked steadily in television and did more voice-over work including the popular animated kid’s show, The Rugrats. (She voiced Lulu Pickles.)

Mary Frances Reynolds was born on April Fools Day in El Paso Texas in 1932. Throughout her long life and career, she married three times, one husband; her third,  squandered her money away and left her $3 million in debt. A massive amount that she paid off by performing at Las Vegas and Reno Nevada.

Debbie was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of Molly Brown in the 1964 film “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.” At the end of her career, she accrued 17 awards and a further 36 nominations. One of the awards received was the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in  2016.

Reynolds’ first husband, Eddie Fisher; father to Carrie and Todd, left her for Elizabeth Taylor in 1958 in a move that shocked the world. Carrie Fisher a product of that union died on 27 December age 60 after a heart attack.

Social media, already reeling from the death of an icon, is now trending on Twitter with #RIP Debbie and Carrie. The world has lost a legend and her iconic daughter. Both women who lived life to the fullest and were, in their own way, bigger than life itself.

Ironically, it was on a Debbie Reynolds TV movie that Carrie got her start in the business; Debbie Reynolds and the Sound of Children.  Both women were strong, witty and not backward in coming forward. The two shared a sometimes tempestuous relationship which Carrie wrote about in her semi-autobiographical novel Postcards From the Edge.

Todd Fisher, Debbie’s son, reported his mother’s death on Wednesday, 28 December.  Ms. Reynolds had been rushed to the hospital earlier in the day for breathing problems and suspected stroke.

Mr. Fisher said, in a statement, that his mother wanted to be with Carrie. Ms Reynolds is survived by her granddaughter Billie Lourd and her son Todd, a TV commercial director.

Debbie Reynolds has died suddenly after leading a life “well lived.” She will be remembered for a long and varied career that, like the Unsinkable Molly Brown, could not be held back or down. She was also known to a legion of “Star Wars” fans as Carrie Fisher‘s mother.

Carrie Fisher Dead at 60 – A Life in the Limelight

Shot from Star Wars

The news of Carrie Fisher’s death aged 60 came as no surprise to many. When the public learned that the Star Wars star suffered a heart attack mid flight from London, Heathrow on 23 December this year, social media blew up with well-wishes and many telling 2016 to leave their Princess Leia alone.

2016 has been a bitter year for fans of David Bowie, George Michael, Mohammad Ali, Prince and John Glenn to name but a few of the celebrities, famous and infamous who left this realm for another.  Now Carrie Fisher has joined their ranks amid the cries of pain from her legion of fans.

Carrie Frances Fisher was born into the limelight. Her mother, Debbie Reynolds was a star as well as a household name and her father was Eddie Fisher, the man who spent so much time helping Elizabeth Taylor when her husband died that he left his baby and wife for “Liz.”

With such beginnings it was, perhaps, written in the stars that baby Carrie, who entered this world on 21 October 1956, would have an interesting life. The young Fisher started working in the world of celluloid in 1969, ironically in a Debbie Reynold’s made for TV film – Debbie Reynolds and the Sound of Children.

Next up was the iconic Warren Beatty film Shampoo. A film role that was quickly overshadowed by “a little science fiction movie that should be fun” Star Wars: Episode IV – A New HopeThe rest, as they say, is history.

Those horrific double hair buns of Princess Leia did little to hide Fisher’s beauty or her acting skills and millions of young men and women fell in love with the character and in turn with Carrie.

Life was a constant struggle to control the drugs, her bi-polar disorder and the fame. It was as though her father’s departure all those years ago put a curse on Fisher. The star wrote a number of fictional books but it was not until she performed the cathartic act of writing her memoirs that Carrie became an author of note.

Postcards From the Edge  was her first autobiographical novel, turned into a film with Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine in the leads, and it took some of the varnish off the image of Debbie Reynolds. Despite this rather unflattering portrayal of her mother, Reynolds and Fisher got on quite amiably.

In terms of roles other than those for the Star Wars franchise, Fisher seemed to pick parts that poked fun at her heroic image, or at least fell far from the role that made her a household name.

In the 2009 horror film Sorority Row, for instance, she played a rough talking, shotgun wielding sorority house mother. Wes Craven cast Carrie in Scream 3. She was a “Carrie Fisher” lookalike who managed the publicity vaults of a fictional film studio. The gag was that her career was ruined by the “one who slept with George Lucas.”

Away from the film screen, Carrie Fisher was an outspoken woman who took no prisoners. When there were complaints that Princess Leia had not aged as some of her fans thought she should have, Fisher set them straight on social media.

“Deal with it” was Fisher’s message and she meant it.  Now this strong woman who fought battles with her weight, mental illness, those drugs and, above all else, that famous upbringing, is gone.

Carrie died Dec. 27 in hospital with her daughter Billie Lourd attending. Lourd informed People magazine after it happened. Carrie Frances Fisher was 60 years old and an icon.

Alive she was a inspiration to generations of young women. She was also a pinup to a host of youngsters who thought her wardrobe in the 1983 sequel Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi was the epitome of sexy.

Throughout her career she had 90 credits under her belt with roles so diverse it amazes. From playing a nun in The Blues Brothers to playing herself onThe Big Bang Theory, Carrie had range for days.

Actress, author, script doctor, mother and daughter, Carrie Fisher will be missed by some and her death mourned by all.  May a host of prayers be heard by her friends and family.

Carrie Fisher
RIP Carrie Frances Fisher

 

Casey Killoran Talks Viral Beauty (Interview) [Update]

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[Update] Casey has informed us that the film is premiering at the Frozen Film Festival, 1 – 4 February, 2017. Viral Beauty set to be screened on Friday, Feb. 3 @ 9pm- Weyerhaeuser Auditorium.

On December 20, the star of Viral Beauty; Casey Killoran took time out of her busy day to have a chat with Mike’s Film Talk about the film.  We talked about altering your appearance for a role  and the challenges of wearing two hats on a project; executive producer and actor.

Virtual Beauty follows Marsha Day, an average young woman who advertises for a date on the Internet and ends up getting millions of subscribers. We are privy to her ups and downs as fame comes courting and we learn that there is a price to be paid regardless of where fame comes from.

Ms Killoran gave us some background on the film. It was written by her one time flatmate Elizabeth Lam, who is the sister of the film’s director David Tyson Lam.

The Interview:

Mike’s Film Talk: Hello Casey! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. I’ve got to say that I loved the film, its message,and what you brought to the role.

Casey: Thank you.

Mike’s Film Talk:  No problem! Now right off the bat, I’ve got to ask you what, apart from aspect of producing and starring in the film,  drew you to the project?

Casey: I think that the message and the story of the film is something that is so current and so “right now.” We were working on it over two years ago and even then it was something that was just starting.  I hadn’t seen anything like that before. The emersion of the Internet and one person’s journey that was so personal. You get to really follow their journey and learn what happens to someone who stumbles onto fame versus actively searching for it.

We see what happens to them when they become famous and this is happening right now online. People promote themselves and do that sort of thing. Once they “hit” and their stuff goes viral, they are catapulted into this stardom and it is so different from what it used to be.

Mike’s Film Talk: Yes.

Casey: Stardom used to be a secondary thing. People who wanted to act or sing focused on their craft. They worked at being good at what they did. They practised to become proficient at their passion and the fame came later. Right now, fame has become warped.  Which is what drew me to the film.

Mike’s Film Talk: I think the film shows that brilliantly. The film really shows that this is the “era of the Kardashian.” No talent needed, we’ll just make you famous to sell all these products. (Casey laughing.)  So how did you prepare for the role of Marsha?

Casey: The film actually started life as a short. I started working on it three years ago and then the short was put on pause. I went away and started doing my own stuff. The writer then went away and was working on her own thing.

I actually lived with the writer for three months.  She got to see me and how I navigated being an actor and producer in New York City. She picked up a lot because, while she is a writer,  her expertise is in the tech field. She does tech security. She thought it was interesting seeing me navigate the entertainment industry and she (Elizabeth Lam) was inspired to “sort of” make Marsha based off me and my experiences.

I was much heavier then and when she left, I lost a bunch of weight. I lost a significant amount of weight and that was when we stepped away from the short. She then came back and was “I wrote this whole feature length film, do you want to do it?”

I read it and was, this is so good but I can’t play this role, I’m not overweight anymore! What am I going to do? So the director; David, approached me and asked, very kindly, “Would you gain weight?”

(Casey laughing.)

It was a real battle for me. I tried several approaches. “Can we re-write it? Can she have another problem besides the weight? Isn’t there something we can do?” And they were like, no. They did say that they were not asking me to gain all the weight back but, a significant amount had to be put back on.

The reason was they needed me to look overweight enough that people would notice. My character could not be “celebrity thin” she had to be a slightly overweight girl. Heavy enough that people would say, “Why the ‘F’ does she get to be so popular.”

So I said okay and gained so much weight in about two and a half months. I ate oreos and just really messed up my metabolism. My poor body was like, “What are you  doing to me?” I had lost all that weight and then put it back on and now I’ve lost it again…

Physically the transformation was a huge part of it.

Mike’s Film Talk: Yes.

Casey: It was also interesting that as I was physically changing myself…I gained over 30 pounds, I noticed that I was being treated differently when I got so heavy over such as short period of time. I took all the pent up hostility and animosity that I was getting and brought it to the role.

Mike’s Film Talk: I was going to ask about the weight thing and about how hard it was to do it. You seem to have worked out a system…

Casey: It was still a lot of work and a lot of focus. Then everyone steps away from the production when it finished filming. And I was like, “Oh great. I now have about four months to lose all that weight again!” (Laughing.) Now I have to go to the gym everyday…

Casey Killoran as Marsha Day

Mike’s Film Talk: Well you certainly couldn’t relax and take time off.

Casey: (Laughing) No I couldn’t.

Mike’s Film Talk: I was reading in the film’s notes that you ate real cat food…

Casey: Yes.

Mike’s Film Talk: Was that a last minute request by David or did he give you some time to work up to it.

Casey: It was always a kind of joke that was thrown around. And I was like David… The thing is, it was only in one scene. We never really sat down and discussed it but I was invested so I thought, “If I going to do it, I’m doing it.”

It really did help the scene though.

Mike’s Film Talk: I agree!

Casey: It’s become a talking point. People ask, “What was it like?” I always answer, “what do you think?” So it was funny.

Mike’s Film Talk: I found myself wondering what brand of catfood it was under the “fake” label. I decided it was “Fancy Feast.”

Casey: (Laughing) I’ve actually forgotten what brand it was. We picked it up from our corner bodega so I can’t tell you. I don’t really want to know. Going into the store and seeing the stuff and thinking “I ate that.” (Laughing)

Mike’s Film Talk: So…How was it? Was it really horrific or was it not that bad?

Casey: It was like, it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good. It wasn’t like I would eat it again. (Laughing) It wasn’t completley gross, it was more the thought of eating catfood that actually made me gag. It just tasted like a really bad pâté or something which I don’t like anyway. So it was so gross. I’ve always had a cat so…

Mike’s Film Talk: Yes I’m a cat person as well. Fun facts aside, how much of the film was actually scripted? Was there a certain amount of improvisation going on?

Casey: Well, we had a pretty full script when we started. I came to set, off-book, everything memorized and was ready to go verbatim, word-for-word, but as we went on, we noticed somethings just cropped up. For me though, I pretty much delivered everything that the writer had down for my character.

There were things that were added on as time went on. On the days when I was not working in front of the camera, I was producing and, I have to say, I never tried to blend the two functions. I was never both.

What happened was the writer wrote everything for the other characters but on the day, David was like, “Okay not do it this way, or that way.”  Which was good as you got to know the person almost automatically. They had a two second intro but you knew who they were immediately.

Mike’s Film Talk: I was also going to ask, I cannot find the original source, about filming the movie. I read somewhere that a variety of devices were used, like smartphones and laptops, to record the film.

Casey: It’s funny you should ask. We did do some practise runs where we recorded things with a laptop camera.  But in the real takes, everything we used was film with our very nice cameras. Each shot was “downgraded” so it looked like an iPhone or a webcam.

Mike’s Film Talk: Oh brilliant!

Casey: Yes our DP Edna Luise Biesold who did an amazing job. She would come in before the script was done and say, “Okay we need to study the lens of the phone and the laptop, what are the dimensions and dynamics, lighting (is it more green) and all that.

I have to thank her for getting everything so right. Everything was downgraded to make it look just right. She gave each shot a little bit less quality, after shooting  so well, to give us what we needed. She did a brilliant job making it all look so real.

Mike’s Film Talk: I agree. It all looked spot on. I remember the first scene where Perez Hilton shows up, his nose is red and he seemingly has no makeup on. It certainly felt like iPhone footage. The way the film ends…it seems to be hinting that there could be a part two?

Casey:  Yes, it kind of has, but we’re not sure if we want to venture down that road just yet. The open ended place where we leave the characters i open for discussion. I mean the director is still coming up with ideas! David will say we can have them do this…He has about a thousand more ideas, he still says, “Oh we can have them do this.”

The writer is already working on other projects. One of which is another feature length film. We are looking at our next feature, which has nothing to do with “Viral” but there is always the possibility of going back.

It would be a different scenario. In this film we did not have a “blockbuster” budget and if we came back, the world would be that bigger so maybe we could increase our budget to match that. Of course that would all depend on how well Viral Beauty is recieved, and it actually is being received very well…

We have discussed it but there is no script as yet.

Mike’s Film Talk: If people want to see the film where can they find news about where it may be premiering?

Casey: They can follow our Facebook page, we have an instagram account, a twitter account and we update the big news all the time.

Mike’s Film Talk:  I just wanted to ask you, looking at your credits, this looks like the first time you’ve been in the role of executive producer. How did you like it?

Casey: Well, I’ve executive produced before, for shorts, but this was my first feature length film and I loved it. It is a lot of hard work but it is such a different quantity of work. A short is roughly over a couple of months, here and there, while a feature is over two years. It is a big chunk of your time and it is constant until someone buys it.

I’m really glad I liked the story so much. I did learn very quickly never to try doing the producer’s job while I was acting and vice versa.  That was my number one rule and the other producers all agreed with it.

When we had business meeting it was the business side of things that were discussed and not the acting. I was part of a team and I really enjoyed the aspects of producing. I really like details and have no problem talking to people I don’t know.

David has other things that he does better than I do so I left those things to him.

Mike’s Film Talk: Looking at your other credits, you’ve got Gross People, a short, that is in post production. Have you got anything else coming up in the near future?

Casey: Hmm. In the near future. We have that, Gross People we are working on another project, minus Liz as an executive producer but we are adding on the DP on Viral Beauty and we are working on a new piece right now. We have been writing for close to three months now but it is still in “baby form” now.

Edna is taking a short sabbatical right now but the topics we’re turning to now are more about taboo subjects and bit more serious and darker.  But, we will still have comedy in there because the three of us will naturally err on the side of levity. Although we’re also very intense (Laughing) so we don’t mind taking really dark subjects and shining a light on them.

The Wrap Up:

The interview ended with a look at that “lighter note” and we asked Casey which comic scene was her favorite in the film.

She responded that it was not the cat food scene  and while she did like acting with her cat, her favorite bit was getting egg smashed in her face. Casey also like the “racist rant” which is, she says, so far from her. She also liked dancing with her cat.

We both agreed that not only was the Internet moving ahead at frantic speeds but that gaming and technology are also advancing at amazing rates. Virtual Reality was discussed and the idea that not only would robots become a daily thing but that the Star Trek Holo Deck was only one step away.

For those who have not seen the trailer, have a look now and see what we have been talking about.