Friday, April 29, 2011

New Decade. New Rules.

The Scream series is back after ten years, but is it the film a Scream or a terrifying mess?

The film, once again, centers around Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), who has become a writer and has written about her experiences from Scream 1, 2 and 3. Sidney ends up back in Woodsboro, the home to the original murders, on her book tour, where she soon comes back into contact with now Sheriff Dewey Riley (David Arquette) and now struggling writer, Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox).

We are then soon introduced to Sidney’s cousin, Jill (Emma Roberts), and her aunt, Kate (Mary McDonnell), family she is staying with while she is in town. Everything seems to be great but the past soon comes back to haunt Sidney when Ghostface returns to wreak havoc on the town of Woodsboro.

That’s all I can give away. I’m not going to spoil the story.

Now, let’s get into the review. The first thing I want to talk about is the story. The Scream series has always given us very interesting meta stories. Maybe not so much Scream 3, but I thought Scream 1 and 2 were great. In Scream 4 they’re back using the same kind of formula and the question is does it hold up? I’m going to say yes.

In Scream 4 they found a very modern way to make this movie very similar to the original Screams. Instead of Ghostface trying to make his own scary movie, this Ghostface is out to reboot the original and forge a new franchise. It really does speak to the state horror films are in now and I found it very relevant.

The negatives about the story are that it’s not very scary and it sometimes gets a little too comical for its own good. It also has too many characters. I know they wanted death scenes but they could have really done without a few.

Speaking of death scenes, most of the ones in the movie are very gory and then there are others that are PG-13 at best. I know it’s weird to be complaining about something like this but hear me out. (POSSIBLE SPOILER) There is a specific death scene in the movie that has a lot of build up and it feels like your watching it forever and then Ghostface strikes with a just a stab. I thought to myself “That’s it?” After all the build up the scene ends terribly.

That brings me to my other complaint about the movie and that is lack of tension. Tension has been missing from a lot of horror movies now a days and has been replaced by cheap scares. You NEED tension in horror films and the lack of it caused Scream 4 to not be very scary.

Let’s get over the negative and talk about more positive things. Wes Craven is still able to make Scream fun and interesting. The film is entertaining and it is a solid entry in the Scream series. I liked how he was able to get the original cast back, because they bring the history of the series with them and make it worth your time.

The biggest positive is how the movie is able to play on ‘90’s nostalgia, which was weird for me. Are the ‘90’s really nostalgic now? I feel old.

Summing it up, after I watched Scream 4 my initial reaction was it wasn’t the epic return I hoped for. Yet, I did still enjoy it. I thought it was funny, the story was well told and it was a good slasher film. It is something I would recommend.


With the review out of the way I want to talk about some random things about the movie. First, why in the hell are people still running away from Ghostface? Haven’t people learned that the Ghostface mask has limited visibility? Come on I know everyone has tried one on by now, they’re all over Halloween stores in October. I’m surprised Ghostface isn’t running into more walls. Just find somewhere to hide and stop screaming.

Second, if Ghostface is knocked down start kicking him or do something! You have to stop running away and turning your back on him because if you do that he disappears. Come on Sidney you lived through three other movies and your still not aware of this yet?

Third, stop assuming that every phone call you get from Ghostface is a prank call, especially if you’re living in Woodsboro, the place of the original murders! Because, it’s not a prank call it’s a psychotic with a knife. If you do get a phone call from Ghostface, use that as a heads up, call the cops, find something to protect yourself with and find a hiding place. With Ghostface’s limited visibility I’m 100 percent sure you would get the jump on him, because you’re not wearing a crazy costume.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Interview With Actor John Ruby

Here is an interview with Touch star - John Ruby.

John plays Tam's (Porter Lynn) new customer, Brendan. Brendan is a shy guy who is looking to clean the oil stains off of his hands, something he hopes will fix his strained relationship with his wife.

Q: You have some impressive credits (You, Me, and Dupree, The Event, Cougar Town), but how do those experiences compare to your experience on Touch?

A: For me, each job I get to work on is unique. 'You, Me and Dupree' was my first studio picture. 'The Event' and 'Cougar Town' were two of my very first network television shows. But 'Touch' holds a special place in my heart because it was my first lead role in a feature film. What I loved the most about working on 'Touch' was heading to set everyday and working with such an amazingly talented cast and crew. The whole process was a dream come true. And I am eternally grateful to Minh for giving me the opportunity to do that.

Q:How did you become involved with Touch?

A: I actually didn't have a theatrical agent at the time and found out about the audition through a website called Actors Access. It's a website where actors can submit themselves for projects. So that's what I did, I submitted myself. Once I got the audition, I worked like crazy on the sides and after three callbacks, Minh informed me I had booked the role. That was a great phone call.

Q: How was it to work with Minh Duc Nguyen?

A: Minh is amazing. Even from the first audition I could tell how much this project meant to him. His work ethic, commitment, openness, honesty have all been an inspiration to me.

On the set of 'Touch,' his passion was infectious. He helped create a professional, comfortable, collaborative work environment. That's all you can ask for as an actor.

Minh also has a very clear vision. He knows what he wants. But within that framework, he allows for a dialogue to occur between actor and director. And for me, this is so important in truly developing the character and finding the truth in the scene. I felt so blessed to be able to work with Minh on this project and hope to work with him on many more.

Q: What was it like to work with your Co-Star Porter Lynn?

A: Porter was just fabulous to work with. And I'm not just saying that because she laughed at all my jokes. She's a wonderful, talented actor. And so natural. I'm really impressed that this was her first feature film. During filming, she carried herself like a veteran actor. To me, this says so much about her skill and confidence as an actor. I really believe she's going to have a long career in acting. What an amazing experience it was for me, to be able to work with such a lovely, talented, beautiful actress.

Q: What are some of your favorite films?

A: I grew up watching comedies with my dad and grandfather, so those hold a special place in my heart. Movies like 'Duck Soup' (with the Marx Brothers), 'The Jerk' (with Steve Martin), and 'Vacation' (with Chevy Chase) still make me laugh.

But the movie that influenced me the most was 'A Streetcar Named Desire.' Elia Kazan is one of my favorite directors. He was really an amazing storyteller and he knew how to create an environment to bring the best out of actors. And the actors involved with 'Streetcar' were brilliant. Marlon Brando, Vivian Leigh, Kim Hunter, and Karl Malden were such amazing leads. And to me, Streetcar is Brando's best movie. He just dominates every scene he's in. It's a travesty he didn't win the Oscar that year for the role of 'Stanley Kowalski.'

Q: Who are your favorite actors/actress'?

A: In my mind, no one can touch Marlon Brando. He is by far, my favorite actor of all time. When I watch old films, I really believe there was acting before Brando, which was very presentational and 'showy.' And then there's acting after Brando got ahold of it, which is naturalistic, raw and real. He is the nonpareil. His naturalistic style, his strength, his compassion and caring, all of this came through when he was acting. No one else comes close.

Q: What projects are you currently working on?

A: I'm currently working on play called 'Conversation Storm' that will be going up in June at the El Centro Theater in Hollywood, CA. I'm also writing a feature film that I'm planning on shooting in Wisconsin next summer. You can also find updates at or on Facebook.

Q: What would be your dream role?

A: Oh, there's so many roles I'd love to play. I'm always interested in learning and trying new things and exploring different parts of myself. I think the main reason I got into acting is because I love how challenging it is. So any role that challenges me as a person and as an actor, I would love to try and tackle. I look at it as a continuous learning and growing process and that's what I truly love about acting. Before we wrap it up, I just want to say thank you so much to my parents, Jake and Gay Ruby. Without their love and support, I wouldn't be where I am today and I am so thankful to have them both.

Friday, April 22, 2011

An Independent Film That Finds Heart

In the independent film ‘Touch’, director Minh Duc Nguyen, teaches us how a single touch can have such an emotional impact. He also teaches us that you don’t need 3D glasses to make your characters and story three dimensional.

The film focuses on a Vietnamese manicurist named Tam (Porter Lynn). She works at V.I.P. nails and just obtained a new customer, Brendan (John Ruby). Brendan is a shy guy who is looking to clean the oil stains off of his hands, something he hopes will fix his strained relationship with his wife.

Brendan continues to go to the nail salon every day, where his relationship with Tam begins to grow. She soon starts offering him advice about how to fix his relationship. Her advice starts to work but Brendan and Tam start having feelings for each other.

I’m not going to give anymore away, because I don’t want to ruin it.

Let’s get into the review now. Starting with the performances, John Ruby does a great job in the role of Brendan. He is able to make his character believable, which makes us care about him and what he’s going through. Yet, it’s actress Porter Lynn who steals the show. This was Lynn’s first movie and I expect her to be in many more.

Lynn’ strongest point is how she is able to just sink into the role. She was very natural, which made her scenes with her father very strong and my favorite scenes in the movie. She also has the ability to say so much without saying anything. We can understand her character by just observing her behavior, which really impressed me.

One last performance I want to mention is that of Long Nguyen, he plays the father of Tam and gives such an explosive performance. Like I said above his scenes with Lynn were such amazing scenes and that was because the dialogue was solid, the actors seemed to really understand and feel what was going on and the direction was top notch.

Next is the story. Nguyen wrote the script himself and it contains a lot of heart, which seems to be missing from a lot of movies these days. He is able to create a world, fill it with his characters and makes us care what happens to them. I have nothing really negative to say about the script but if I did have to nit pick I would say that some of the minor characters could have had a little more time on screen.

Yet, there is no denying that Nguyen is a storyteller and a gifted director. I recently interviewed him and he revealed what he was working on next.

“I just finish writing the screenplay for my next film. It's a romantic horror...a new twist on the horror genre that I hope audiences will be moved and shocked by its story at the same time,” said Nguyen.

I’m excited for this, I love horror and I’m really interested in what Nguyen has in store for us next.

To sum everything up, Touch has powerful performances, it looks great, the directing is fluent and intuitive and the story is full of heart.

Touch will have its World Premiere at the Boston International Film Festival on Saturday, April 23, 8:15 p.m., at AMC/LOEWS Theatres, 175 Tremont St., Boston Common. You can get tickets here:

Go out and support the film.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Interview With Actress Porter Lynn

Yesterday, I posted an interview with the director of the upcoming film Touch. Today I have an interview with the star of the movie - Porter Lynn.
Lynn plays the Vietnamese manicurist named Tam.

Q: First question, tell me how you became involved with Touch?

A: I saw the posting for the movie and really wanted to be a part of a Vietnamese-American movie. It sounded like a beautiful story and I felt that I could really relate to the character so I submitted myself for the part. The casting director contacted my agent and from there I had an audition, a few nerve-wrecking callbacks and finally booked the role. I had actually sent out thank you cards a day before I received the call because I was almost positive I didn't get it, so it was an absolutely wonderful surprise.

Q: I heard this your first film, how was the experience?

A: Terrifying. Ha...terrifying but at the same time I felt like I was on cloud nine. I felt so happy and comfortable on set, I think I might have been the only person who didn't want to go home at the end of the day. It was truly a learning experience for me and I was sometimes unsure of my choices but I was lucky to be working with a cast and crew that never let me doubt myself. I felt very fortunate to be a part of this film and working with such a special group of people.

Q: How was it to work with Minh Duc Nguyen?

A: He was absolutely amazing to work with. So patient, understanding and creative. It was funny because he was probably the quietest person there, you would never know he was the director if you just stepped on set and yet he knew what he wanted and how to get it done. I felt very lucky that my first film was with Minh, he didn't really want us to see any of the dailies because I think he understood how over critical actors can be and wanted us to follow our instincts. I had no idea how it would turn out until I saw the first screening of the film with an audience. I was in complete awe with the finished product, he did so much more than any of us could have imagined.

Q: What do you think of your Co-star John Ruby?

A: I think that he thinks he is funnier than he actually is. I'm completely joking, that kid is hilarious. He was always cracking me up on set which kept things fresh and lively. It was a lot of fun to work with him. We had a couple intimate scenes together and I was a bit nervous but he handled them so professionally, it really allowed me to trust myself in those moments because I trusted him. He is a very talented guy and I'm so glad I had the opportunity to work with him.

Q: What kind of films do you want to be in in the future?

A: It sounds corny but this kind of film. I love independent film and the kind of story telling that they are able to bring to the audience. I feel that many of the films that are mainstream appeal to a wider audience and so some of the more delicate, non-traditional stories get lost in box office revenues. Of course when it comes down to it, I just love acting and would be happy to work as long as I'm able to. I also wouldn't mind playing a comic book character because I'm a comic book nerd and that would be awesome. And sci-fi...I love sci-fi.

Q: Who are your influences when it comes to acting?

A: I've always admired Natalie Portman since I first saw her in The Professional. I think she has made very strong choices in her career and I love her work, not to mention her Oscar-winning transformation in Black Swan. Another actor I truly admire is Ryan Gosling. His work in Half Nelson blew me away and the motel scene at the end of the movie (I'm sure anyone who's seen it knows which scene I'm talking about) absolutely breaks my heart every time I watch it...and he didn't even say a word. I want to be able to do that. I want to be able to tell a story like that and evoke real emotions from people. I'm also a big fan of old movies and absolutely adore Audrey Hepburn. She's so natural in everything that she does it's just beautiful to watch. I enjoy her films so much that I even dressed up as Holly Golightly for Halloween one year!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Interview With Director Minh Duc Nguyen

Recently I was given a screener for a movie called 'Touch'. I will be reviewing the movie this week but first here is an interview with the film's director - Minh Duc Nguyen.
The official synopsis for the film follows: At V.I.P. Nails, a Vietnamese manicurist named Tam has a new customer: Brendan, a shy mechanic who literally has a problem on his hands. He can never get rid of the oil stains around his nails, and when he tries to be intimate with his aloof wife, she always rejects him with the same excuse: “Your hands are filthy!” Desperately seeking to save his marriage, Brendan goes to the nail salon every day, where Tam does more than scrub his hands clean. She also offers him advice on how to get his wife to love him again. But soon, Tam and Brendan find themselves drawn to each other, an attraction which becomes harder and harder to resist.

Q: Where did you get the idea for Touch?

A: Every Vietnamese in America knows someone who works in a nail salon. Over half of the nail salons in America are owned and operated by Vietnamese. The nail salon industry has provided countless job opportunities for Vietnamese immigrants, but their stories have never been told on-screen. For the first time, we have a movie about the hidden life of Vietnamese women working in a typical nail salon, told from their point-of-views. I saw the nail salon as a perfect setting to tell a multicultural story, where the Vietnamese workers interact daily with their American customers that come from all walks of life.

The one thing that really fascinates me about manicurists is that they have to touch strangers' hands every single day and touching someone's hand is usually considered an intimate act in our society. My goal was to make a sensual film that explored the power of touch and its emotional impact on desire, pleasure and healing. I also wanted to touch on universal themes such as love and loss. The bond between two strangers, husband and wife, parents and child are examined. These are the things that all of us can relate to.

Q: This was your feature directorial debut, how does that feel?

A: It feels wonderful. After I graduated from USC Film School, for a long time I couldn't find anyone to finance my movie. It was just too expensive to make a movie ten years ago. Finally with the advance in digital video, I'm able to make my first film on a shoestring budget. I've waited a long time for this moment and there were times I thought it might not happen. But I'm really glad that it did.

Q: I thought that Porter Lynn gave a very strong performance, what was it like to work with her?

A: There were many memorial experiences in making this film, but if I had to choose one, it would be discovering Porter Lynn during the audition process. Touch is her first feature film and lead role. It was a joy working with Porter. She always came to the set highly prepared and she enjoyed every moment on the set. She told me she was really depressed on her days off. She just loves to act. I think she will pleasantly surprise audiences with her mature poise and unassuming strength in portraying Tam.

Q: How does it feel to have a film premiering at the Boston International Film Festival?

A: It feels great but also nerve-wracking to have my film premiering at the Boston International Film Festival. It's great because Boston is a lovely city and the audiences at BIFF are known to be very adventurous. That's why the lineup at BIFF is incredibly diverse, showing films not just from all over America but also from all over the world. Yet it's going to be tense for me because for the first time, I'm showing my film in front of a large audience. I hope I won't pass out.

Q: What kind of projects do you want to work on in the future?

A: I want to continue making personal films in my own style. I've learned so much from directing Touch, not just from what I did right but also from what I did wrong. I can't wait to apply those lessons on my next movie and hopefully become a better director.

Q: Are you working on anything currently?

A: I just finish writing the screenplay for my next film. It's a romantic horror...a new twist on the horror genre that I hope audiences will be moved and shocked by its story at the same time.

Q: What are some things you’ve worked on in the past?

A: I've made short films. I've written short stories. Some of them are published in journals and anthologies. For the past several years, I've also worked as an editor for a variety of television shows that have aired on MTV, ABC, NBC, Bravo, Lifetime, USA, Spike and more.

Q: Who are your influences when it comes to writers and why?

A: For fiction, I'm heavily influenced by Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, to name a few. They're just masters at their crafts and I just love their effortless writing style. For script writing, I admire Aaron Sorkin for his rapid-fire dialogue, Charlie Kaufman for his inventiveness, David Milch for his sublime feel for dialogue.

Q: Who are your influences when it comes to directors and why?

A: There are many directors that inspire me, but just to name three: Akira Kurosawa for making his films epic and personal at the same time, the late Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski for making these small intimate movies with metaphysical meanings, and Martin Scorsese for daring to portray the dark sides of humans in his movies.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

It's A 'Rap'

PLYMOUTH — Within the labyrinth of Webster’s Used Auto Parts, a production crew from Bristol fought through the mud and rain Tuesday to film the last scene in an upcoming Q Strange music video.
Q Strange, or Josh Fiore, is a rapper from Providence, R.I., who came to Connecticut to finish working with Maria Elena Productions, the Bristol outfit that did the Jason “Fury” Flores video called “Bristol State of Mind.”
“This is the last day of shooting; it was a three-day shoot. It took a little bit of time because of scheduling and we had to meet up, but we did a couple of shots of two different bars in Rhode Island,” Q Strange said Tuesday.
Q Strange and Fury have done several shows together and once Q Strange saw Fury’s video, he wanted to work with Maria Elena productions.

“I love hip hop and the music they make,” director Ranses Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez attended Middlesex Community College and was involved with the broadcast communications program. While he was at school, three of his projects were chosen for the college’s Arts and Media Festival. He now makes his home in Bristol.
“I worked with Fury, I directed his ‘Bristol State of Mind.’ Through him I met Q Strange and they allowed me to work with him,” Rodrigquez said.
The last scene they were shooting is set in a scrap yard, an idea that came from Rodriguez.
“This was all his idea,” Q Strange said of Rodriguez. “He just took the song and just kind of visualized what he wanted it to look like and he found the location. We’re happy with it.”
The video is expected to be released in about a week.

PHOTO CREDIT/CAPTION: Mike Orazzi | Staff Jack Beazly, Michael Pereira, Ranses Rodriguez and Josh Fiore after filming a rap music video at Webster Auto Parts in Terryville on Tuesday.