In 2008 while making his documentary Delta Boys, filmmaker Andrew Berends (The Blood of My Brother, When Adnan Comes Home) was arrested and falsely accused of espionage at the bustling Nembe waterside in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, while filming women bringing their products to the market. Also arrested were his translator, Samuel George, and host Joe Bussio. Berends was detained for 10 days and expelled from the country by the Nigerian government in a bid to suppress media coverage of the Niger Delta conflict. In the end, Berends was never charged with a crime, but George’s and Bussio’s legal statuses then remained undetermined. A fundraiser had been set up for people to contribute to their legal fees. Bussio had eventually been cleared of all charges, and George was expected to report to the authorities soon after, and he too was eventually let go, according to Berends.
Berends in a statement said, “It is important that translators and local journalists around the world know they can do their jobs without fear for their lives, their families, or the expenses they will incur on our behalf.” Berends’s experience in Nigeria is just one example of a government using its power to deter journalists from reporting their stories, but this is not just happening overseas.
This brings to mind a more recent development back in April right here on U.S. soil when filmmaker Laura Poitras (The Oath) returned home from a recent trip abroad where she was detained by Homeland Security at Newark Airport and threatened with being handcuffed for attempting to take notes during her interrogation. Poitras has been repeatedly harassed, detained, interrogated and has had her cameras and computers seized as she attempts to re-enter her home country in more than three dozen incidences.
Cinema Eye Honors, the organization that honors the craft of nonfiction filmmaking (which in full disclosure, I am on the advisory board), released a statement offering a similar sentiment to that of Berends’s saying, “It is unacceptable for any American nonfiction filmmaker or journalist to be treated in this manner. They must be able to return to their own country without fear of arrest or fear that their work product will be seized, solely because they are investigating or chronicling subject matter that may be sensitive or controversial.”
Delta Boys made its World Premiere last night as the closing film of Stranger Than Fiction’s spring season at IFC Center in New York. Berends bravely captures life in a tiny fishing village caught in the crossfire of the conflict of the Niger Delta militancy in the face of corrupt government oppression in this oil-rich region of Nigeria. In his own narration, Berends follows the personal stories of Ateke Tom, the “Godfather” of the Niger Delta Vigilante Force, Chima, a 21-year-old who left home to join the fight, and Mama, a 22-year-old who struggles to give birth to her first child with no access to modern medical care, while raids are launched from a militant camp across the river. These stories reflect a broader global struggle between entrenched power and corporate interests and an underserved population. Nigeria is the fifth largest supplier of oil to the United States. Yet, despite this natural wealth, the majority of Niger Deltans live in poverty. Ateke’s militants, along with other groups, have called for a greater distribution of wealth and jobs. When their requests have been ignored, they’ve attacked oil installations and pipelines, kidnapped foreigners and made the entire Delta a no-go-zone. But many feel that while the Niger Delta struggle is legitimate, the militants’ motives are not so pure.
Stranger Than Fiction founder Thom Powers led a discussion with Berends after the screening of Delta Boys. Below are highlights of that Q&A.
Powers asked how Berends was able to get into Ateke Tom’s camp to film. Berends said that he wanted to be there, and made an attempt to go there, but failed at first. He spent six weeks in Port Harcourt where he made some connections that took him to one of the other big militant camps, but his contacts changed their mind and left him in a village for two weeks where he had given up and returned back home. He wanted to try again and went through some of the same contacts and upon that second try, he was taken to Ateke Tom’s camp. Once he got that degree of access, it was a matter of just hanging out with them and sharing the same conditions with them. Other journalists or filmmakers had gone to visit them before, but he was the first to live with them. Besides having to deal with bugs and the heat, Berends said it was often boring.
Given the conditions, Powers asked how Berends was able to manage to power his camera batteries and other equipment, and if there were any language barriers. Berends said it was his big fear to not have power, because he wouldn’t be able to make his film otherwise. He shot the film on video cards, not tape. Not only did he have to recharge his batteries, but he had to download the footage to his laptop every night. Fortunately, there was generator power at the camp. In terms of the language, most everyone spoke English to varying degrees, as well as at least one of the region’s 200 native languages. He didn’t always need a translator to get by. He worked a few months without a fixer or translator. It was just him once he got to the camp, though he did find someone after about three months.
Powers asked Berends to explain the circumstances that got him put in jail. Berends recalled being at Nembe waterside in Port Harcourt, which is the access point to the creeks where there’s a strong presence of the army, the police, and black market trading. Some people told him he couldn’t film there, but he tried one day and spoke with a commander in charge and told him what he was doing. The commander said he couldn’t give him permission, but it wasn’t in his authority to tell him not to do it either. He bought him some beer and gave him $20. He got down there to film the waterside on three occasions. On that last occasion, there was a plain-clothed army intelligence man who told him to stop filming and then he was arrested. He said he felt safer when he was in the militant camps.
What was it like getting his material out of the country, Powers asked. Berends said every two weeks he pack up a portable hard drive and took it to the UPS office to send it home. Later in the discussion, Powers asked if Berends has stayed in touch with anyone from the camp, and he said he had lost a lot of their phone numbers when he was arrested, because they told him they were going to go after these people and take his contacts, which is devastating as a journalist. You build trust and get people to agree to talk with you, protecting your source. During his arrest while he was being transferred from one place to another, he had this one opportunity to get his phone and he pulled the SIM card out of it and put it in his mouth and swallowed it. While the police never seized that, he did end up losing a bunch of his contacts’ phone numbers.
From the audience, Berends was asked if he had ever been asked by the rebels to ever stop filming in the camps and did he ever feel like he may have been putting them in danger from being filmed. Berends said he only got in trouble once when he tried to film an initiation ceremony. He didn’t even get close to it, he was shooting through the bushes. Someone told him he couldn’t film it, so he stopped. The next morning, Ateke Tom came into his tent and told him he wasn’t happy about it, took all of his laptops and hard drives and gave him $3,000. Ateke Tom told him he wasn’t seizing his equipment; he was buying it from him. He tried to talk his way out of it, and he had to show Ateke Tom all of the footage the next day. There wasn’t a lot happening all of the time. They didn’t all seem concerned to be filmed. There was one time they put their masks on. A lot of the guys were excited and wanted to be on the camera. At that point while he was filming, they had been granted amnesty by the government, so they didn’t have anything to fear about being exposed.
Someone in the audience next asked him if he had ever seen violence towards women. Berends said he did not. Some of the men in the camps do have wives, sometimes more than one wife. As far as he knew, Ateke Tom’s camp was the only one that women sometimes went to, because Ateke Tom wanted it to be more like a village, than a camp. One time one of the rebel’s two wives visited, and he saw that one of them was getting more attention than the other, but he never witnessed any violence towards women.
Who was supporting the rebels, and why were they given amnesty by the government, someone asked. Berends said there is probably not one answer to that hard question, but his understanding of Ateke Tom was that before he became a so-called Niger Delta freedom fighter, he was actually a hired muscle for the politicians and armed by them to help rig elections and things like that. At some point, Ateke Tom either joined the Niger Delta movement or took it on as a guise for whatever else he was doing. He said there’s a question of whether these guys are freedom fighters, are they gangsters, or somewhere in between? For him, it’s a question if there was anyone genuinely fighting for the cause, and he doesn’t know. There had been peaceful agitations, big movements that have not been very successful to the point where one of their non-violent activists fighting for distribution of wealth on the Niger Delta thought now maybe violence is the only way to resolve the situation. The amnesty came after a crack down on the camps. In the film, none of that fighting is shown because Berends said he wasn’t present during any of it. Berends tried to re-answer the original question about why did the government give them amnesty over wiping them out? He said the militants probably could have shut down the oil industry, but they didn’t choose to. One factor was that there was so much money involved. But he wasn’t sure why the government chose amnesty, saying perhaps they wanted to choose a more peaceful solution, and there were relationships between the government and some of the rebels.
Berends’ mother who was in the audience asked if he thought the government was just trying to avoid bad press by granting the amnesty, and who was making money besides the oil companies? He said the militants did shut down between 25% to 30% of the oil industry, which cost the country billions of dollars. Everyone who could get a piece of the money was getting it. Most of the money goes to the Nigerian federal government, which is then dispersed to the local government, which doesn’t necessarily get trickled down from there. There is corruption pretty much at every level of government and society in Nigeria.
Someone else in the audience asked Berends why he was interested in the situation in the Niger Delta and getting in harm’s way, and did he have interest in getting viewpoints from the government side? He said his initial impulse was to put himself in harm’s way a little bit. He had seen some footage of the Niger Delta militants. He thought he could handle that level of risk, so he researched the story, and he realized it was a very important story. It’s about the environment, where our oil comes from, it’s about exploitation. Nigeria is the fifth largest supplier of oil to the United States. It is a far-off exotic story, but also about something that is pretty meaningful to people today. He said he did try to interview the other side. He contacted every single oil company working in Nigeria, and they either didn’t answer or politely rejected him. He also tried to go to government sources, and they just said, “No.” He said his main desire was to document what it is like to live in the Niger Delta, which is the type of film he prefers to make.
Brian Geldin blogs at The Film Panel Notetaker.
As a special dramatic presentation, History Channel is airing the 6-hour mini-series HATFIELDS & MCCOYS over three nights in order to tell the violent and labyrinthine story of two families whose personal feud led to one of the largest government-sanctioned manhunts in U.S. history.
The love story of Roseanna McCoy and Johnse Hatfield is one of the brightest and most heart-warming aspects to an otherwise dark tale of deceit, betrayal and burning hatred; and but for the entrenched and intractable animosity between their families, their love story could have healed the terrible wounds and perceived wrong-doings allowing future generations to live in peace. Instead, the terrifying tale of the HATFIELDS & MCCOYS marks a turning point in history when men were law unto themselves and family obligations came first, no matter how strong your love for another. It was a testament to how destiny struggled with the will of man — and it cost everyone dearly.
In exclusive interviews, stars Lindsay Pulsipher and Matt Barr shared what it was like bringing the story of the star-crossed lovers Roseanna and Johnse to life for this epic mini-series.
Roseanna had quite the love story threaded throughout the mini-series. What drew you to playing such a complicated character?
LINDSAY: I really loved Roseanna’s character arc. She really has a full spectrum. She starts in one place and really ends up in a completely different place, mentally and physically. And it was really interesting for me to have this soft character amongst all this feuding and fighting and oppression. It was so nice to have that breath of fresh air with her character.
She was one of the few characters that was given a distinct beginning and ending. It allowed us to see the whole scope of her life in a way. What did you find to be the most fun aspect of playing such a character?
LINDSAY: It was great because I got to play so many different aspects of her life. She really does have a beginning and an end, and it as so fun to play the different traits throughout her life. ‘Cause she’s the same person, but her mannerisms and everything that changes, it was fun as I changed her physicality throughout the series. That was really fun, to kind of play with those mannerisms and her different mental capacities. It was really fun.
Were you ever concerned how weathered and worn her look became towards the end of her journey?
LINDSAY: [Laughs] No, funny enough, I actually enjoyed that part about playing characters. I kind of like it when it’s interesting. I like to play a character and I’m not afraid of getting dirty or being haggard looking. I prefer that. I think that’s more interesting for me anyway.
This series really showed the gritty side of things. It really made it feel like these were real people living through these circumstances. At times it was hard to remember that you were playing characters, which is a credit to the cast. So what was it like working with these big name actors as they became immersed in their roles?
LINDSAY: Yeah, it was such an honor to work with Kevin Costner, Mare Winningham, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe — these actors who have done such incredible work. I felt like I learned so much from them just being around them. Mare Winningham became a dear friend of mine and I just learned so much from her. She’s so dedicated and incredible to watch. I was so honored to be amongst such great talent.
Did you ever become so immersed in your character that you stopped seeing them as big actors and started seeing them as comrades-in-arms in these circumstances?
LINDSAY: Absolutely! It’s funny, when you’re on set, it’s all about the character. I really started seeing them through Roseanna’s eyes. You leave that persona of these incredible icons behind and they just become the character. It’s so fun to just play make-believe and play these different characters. I love it.
What were some of the challenges you encountered? It looked awfully cold at times.
LINDSAY: [Laughs] Yes, it was definitely that. There were some cold nights. I had a scene where I was riding the horse in the rain, and we were up in the mountains at that point, and it was cold and freezing temperatures. That was definitely a challenge, but those kinds of challenges kind of propel the character and I kind of think it helps enhance the performance. Because if you’re actually going through the physical elements, like the weather, affecting your physical body, then it kind of helps propel the character forward. You kind of start to use that.
Where did you film the mini-series?
LINDSAY: We shot it in Romania, which people are surprised about. But the locations that they found were incredible. The problem we ran into Kentucky and West Virginia is that it doesn’t really look like it did back in the Civil War era. So we had to find a place that was untouched, but still looked like the Appalachian Mountains. They did an incredible job.
Visually it really took you back to that place in time, which was surprising as a viewer ’cause it makes you forget that it doesn’t exist anymore.
LINDSAY: I know! And all the costumes. You put on that costume and you’re instantly transformed into another time. It’s great.
So this was like a microcosm because you were working on the mini-series. How long were you filming in Romania?
LINDSAY: We were there for almost four months. We started in September and ended in December. So we had full spectrum of weather and climate change.
That’s quite a lengthy amount of time, even for a mini-series, to be working together.
LINDSAY: It was. It was a good cast. We all got along really well, which is hard to do when there is such a big cast. But we all got along great.
Portraying Rosanna, you again had such a wealth of dramatic scenes to portray. Was there one that was particularly difficult for you to work with because of what she was going through?
LINDSAY: I quite prefer the emotional scenes. I think that, for some reason, they come a little bit easier for me. Kevin Reynolds, the director, he was so great about working with me and kind of forming the scenes. He was really just a great leader and collaborator in some of these scenes that are really emotional. One in particular was when Roseanna gave birth to the baby ’cause I haven’t been a mom. So those emotions and going through that was kind of strange, but it felt really special at the same time. That was really emotional for me.
What was it like working with your co-star Matt Barr, who you had most of your scenes with?
LINDSAY: It was really fun. He is such a dedicated actor. He’s so passionate about his work, and it was really fun to come into this great relationship and have him so excited about it. ‘Cause I was too and we kind of bonded over that. We bonded over the love of the story. We both kind of agreed that Roseanna and Johnse were the heart of the series, in a way. It gave us time to breathe. There’s so much violence and chaos going on, that it provided some nice quiet time for the series.
It seemed like there was a lot of enthusiasm when you and Matt were doing your scenes together. They were a little bit warmer than, of course, the other dramatic things that were going on, so it felt like you two were smirking a little bit at the camera.
LINDSAY: [Laughs] Oh really, that’s interesting! I think everybody was very enthusiastic about this project coming on to it and every single one of us said how excited we were to be there. We were all just so passionate about this project.
So you and Matt played the “Romeo and Juliet” storyline. Do you think that Roseanna and Johnse would have had a different story if they had actually gotten away from their families?
LINDSAY: I’d like to think so. I actually thought about that a lot: what would happen if they had branched off on their own. I like to think that it would be really beautiful and they had a wonderful life together.
The series was always dangling the possibility that Roseanna might eventually accept one of Perry Cline’s proposals, and his last proposal created one of your more dramatic scenes. What was that like to work on that scene?
LINDSAY: That was after Roseanna had really transformed from who she was at the beginning of the series. Ronan Vibert, who plays Perry Cline, he is a tremendous actor and it was really easy to play that scene even though it’s so emotional. It was really fun to work with him. He’s super talented and he kind of helped me through that one.
It caught me off-guard. I probably should have anticipated it, but I was very surprised when that happened.
LINDSAY: Yeah, I know!
What will you take away from the HATFIELDS & MCCOYS mini-series?
LINDSAY: It will be just really fulfilling to see the whole project come together. To see it as a whole. When I first read this script, I was blown away by the dynamic of it. How rich and full it was. It’s always amazing to see it come together and to see the scenes that I wasn’t in. To see how they played out, it’s just sweet. I’m super excited to see it!
Then for his perspective on, Matt Barr shared his experiences working on this wonderful mini-series.
What attracted you to the role of Johnse Hatfield?
MATT: Two different things: one, my childhood idol is Kevin Costner. We actually met briefly when I was eleven years old and I told him I was going to grow up and play his son in a movie. So when this came along, I always wanted to work with him as an actor and as a filmmaker. So I knew he was attached. Then when I read the script, it just had all the elements that I love in storytelling. It was kind of timeless. It was epic. It’s tragic. And I like when the character is kind of put upon by the world. He’s somewhat of a black-sheep and it makes for a fun dynamic.
There were a lot of rich textures to this story and the characters themselves. Was there anything that you really admired about portraying Johnse?
MATT: I like that throughout all the chaos, death and war that endured over the years, Johnse never really lost himself. He was still so pure-hearted about things and in a way, unaffected. Even when he was brought to his breaking point, I think that in the end, he was still that young dreamer. Kind of a young lover. I don’t want to give it away to the audience, but he does end up going West.
Do you think he was ultimately more of a pacifist than the rest of his family? ‘Cause he seemed so reluctant to get involved in some of the shenanigans.
MATT: Absolutely. For that generation of Hatfields and McCoys, they were innately raised with a sense of judgment towards the opposing family, and what separates Johnse is he just doesn’t have it. He doesn’t have the hate and, unfortunately, it causes a lot of conflict between he and his family.
For your portrayal, working with Lindsay, were you more focused on trying to make this a love-story than opposed to just two families that were always fighting with each other?
MATT: Absolutely. I think a lot of the heart and soul of the mini-series lie within the Johnse/Roseanna storyline. They represent the best of us. So that love-story, that narrative thread is what I really buy into as you’re kind of taking the ride through all those years. It shows how black-and-white it is. How ugly those families became. There was something so beautiful and kind of pure in what Johnse and Roseanna had.
As far as working with Lindsay, it seemed like in a couple of your scenes together, the two of you were smirking through the scenes. Like you were having way too much fun portraying the characters.
MATT: [Laughs] That’s true. We did. We were kind of buddies. We were in Romania in the middle of nowhere and we shot a lot of those scenes early on in the filming. So we all were just discovering who we were and we were so excited to be there. It’s almost like how the movie unravels: in the beginning, it’s all kind of bright and sunny and “peaches and cream,” then by the third month of filming, it’s like dark and cold and characters had died. So it kind of reflected our own journeys.
What can you share about some of the costuming choices? Like there’s the one line where Kevin Costner’s character Devil remarks about Johnse’s “fancy boots.” Did you have any input into the costuming, or were you just wearing whatever they gave you?
MATT: I did. I had a color scheme for Johnse. So when I talked with the designer we were on the same page. A lot of the other characters had something monochromatic or kind of dull feel, which reflected that time and sort of the climate, if you will. Johnse was different, so we had these lighter colors: blues. Which to me represented the sky and the ocean — something greater that was out West. He always wanted to go find that great blue ocean, so I liked that he had some actual color in his life and his wardrobe. I thought that they did a great job with that. Now I never did get used to the hat that Johnse wore. I think every kid wants to be like Clint Eastwood or John Wayne and have some bad-ass cowboy hat. But they kept telling me that “we’re not making a cowboy movie here.” So I wore my bowler hat, or whatever it’s called. My pan-handler hat.
I think it helped define who Johnse was. It gave a sense that he wasn’t committed to being a hard, tough criminal. He was just kind of playing his part and he was like, “yeah, I’ve got to have a hat, but it doesn’t have to be that tough of a hat.”
MATT: That’s right. If you noticed, as Johnse evolved, he creates his own kind of enterprise. He makes his own money. He likes things clean and he has fancy boots, but he always has that hat. I found that kind of special.
It seemed like Johnse was hiding in plain sight. He knew he had to live up to this name, that he was part of the Hatfield family, but he had this totally different persona that he kept hidden away from everybody. Did you sense that and play that a little bit?
MATT: Yeah. He so strongly wanted to be a part of his family. He wants to be accepted like any child does. You want to be loved and there’s no one else in the world. It’s a very lonely place if you’re not surrounded by that support. You’re right, because he was different, he does kind of live in the closet in terms of how he feels. It’s really tragic that he had to live behind a facade for so many years.
Finally, what was it like to do that one scene with Kevin Costner where Devil and Johnse are fishing?
MATT: Oh, man, that was kind of the culmination — not only for Johnse and his father, but of Matt and Kevin. It was sort of that one scene that as an actor I’ve always dreamed of getting a chance to do with my idol. It was also the scene that made me want to do the movie when I read the script. As an actor, it’s crack. And we spent a whole day actually filming that one scene. It was just one of those magic days where you’re sort of half present in the moment, then I have to admit it’s an out-of-body experience and I was kind of sitting there looking down in awe at how special that moment really was. And I learned so much. I felt like a student in KC’s school. If I could relive one moment, it would be back there on that riverbank fishing with Kevin and talking about how to be an actor.
Tiffany Vogt blogs at The TV Addict.
Here’s an unexpected twist: Paramount is delaying the release date for G.I. Joe: Retaliation, just over a month before the sequel was originally due to hit theaters around the U.S. Retaliation has now been pushed back an entire nine months to a March 29th, 2013 date – where it will face off against The Host during its opening weekend.
The reason for said abrupt delay? Paramount wants to convert the film to 3D, in order to improve its box office prospects overseas.
“We’re going to do a conscientious 3D job because we’ve seen how it can better box office internationally. Jim Cameron did all of ‘Titanic’‘s 3D in post – and look how well that movie turned out.”
The quality of Titanic‘s post-converted 3D has demonstrated that non-native 3D films are not necessarily inferior to those shot in the format – assuming the proper time and effort is invested. Furthermore, there are certain recurring set pieces featured in the Retaliation trailers to date (especially the cliff-side ninja battle) that suggest the sequel could stand to benefit from the added dimension.
Of course, the delay is still disappointing news for everyone who was looking forward to a second G.I. Joe movie – one that appears to be an improvement on its predecessor. Still, considering that Retaliation was originally going to square-off against Amazing Spider-Man, just a few days after its opening here in the States – the move seems to make sense, from a financial perspective.
How does the news about Retaliation being post-converted to 3D make you feel? Sound off in the comments section.
Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.
I have been very lucky to see Albert Maysles speak at several discussions after viewing his collaborative work with his late brother David, and Tuesday night, I was captivated again upon my first screening of the Maysles Bros. classic, Salesman, by not only Albert and David Maysles, but also Charlotte Zwerin, which follows four door-to-door Bible salesmen: Paul “The Badger” Brennan, Charles “The Gipper” McDevitt, James “The Rabbit” Baker, and Raymond “The Bull” Martos. The quartet first start out in Boston, then go to Chicago for a sales conference, and end in Miami, all the while trying to convince people to buy the world’s best selling book. Although their customers are mostly middle, working-class Catholics recommended by the local church, the Bible is a hard sell for them. Though made and released almost 45 years ago, Salesman seems just as relevant now given how unemployment has risen in recent years during the recession, and how certain politicians are salesmen or saleswomen themselves, looking to religious values to push their agendas and influence voters.
Filmmaker Hugo Perez (Neither Memory Nor Magic) moderated Tuesday’s discussion with Albert Maysles, pinch-hitting for Thom Powers who was away at the Cannes Film Festival. Hugo recalled when Albert once told him about screenwriter/playwright David Mamet after seeing Salesman for the first time told Albert that Salesman was what he was trying to do with Glengarry Glen Ross (about real estate salesmen). Albert said he didn’t remember Mamet saying that, but he recalls another time when writer Norman Mailer told him that Salesman was more about America than any other film.
To Albert, a documentary, especially Salesman, offers the subject, the filmmakers, and the viewers to become friends with one another. Albert parlayed into a story about of when he was a kid in Boston, there was a lot of Irish Anti-Semitism. David told him that he couldn’t play with his friend Jamie anymore because Jamie’s mother told him that David was a “Jewboy.” Making Salesman offered Albert and David an opportunity to become playful and friends with each of the salesmen. Albert said he’s still in touch with some of them. He received a call a few days earlier from “The Rabbit,” who sells real estate now, and “The Bull” is driving a cab in Boston.
And how did the brothers decide to make a film about these salesmen, Hugo asked? Albert said they had just finished a film about Truman Capote. They felt Capote had invented a new kind of novel, the “nonfiction novel.” They thought that maybe they could create a “nonfiction feature,” a full documentary that could be shown in theaters. At a lunch with Capote’s editor Joe Fox, David asked what would be a good subject for a feature documentary, and Joe Fox asked, “what about door-to-door salesmen?” Both Albert and David had done some door-to-door selling when they were in high school selling brushes, and then when Albert was in college, he sold encyclopedias. They realized, when you knock on the door, “who knows what could happen?”
Ryan, an aspiring director and filmmaker in the audience who shot some footage about Occupy Wall Street and having difficulty getting some people to be on camera for him, asked Albert how he and his brother got the people in the homes in which the salesmen were trying to sell the Bibles, to agree to be on camera for them. Albert gave an example of when he went to Cuba in the early 1960s looking for Fidel Castro. He found Castro talking to a group of people in an auditorium. He got as close to him as he could. As he was carrying his camera on his shoulder, Castro looked in his direction, and they caught each other’s eyes. He could tell the way Castro was looking at him that he could be trusted. Within a day or two, he was filming 24 –hour days with Castro.
Albert resumed answering Ryan’s question in twofold. One, there’s something in your eyes, or your gaze that people pick up as empathy. You follow this in the whole process of filming. You can film a person’s experience, and that person’s experience becomes one of a multitude of people. And second, you humanize that experience. The guys in Salesman are human beings. They are not narrated. They are just themselves, but they also represent what Norman Mailer said was so much of what is America.
Brian Geldin blogs at The Film Panel Notetaker.
Known most recently for his role as Jerry Boyle on HBO’s Luck, Gedrick’s currently unnamed character is described as an “owner of a Miami-area gentlemen’s club that becomes linked to a high-profile murder case.” Perhaps not the best position to be in when there’s a serial killer vigilante out searching for new “victims.” Has Dexter (Michael C. Hall) found his second big bad for season 7?
Rome star Ray Stevenson was previously announced for a reoccurring role, playing the leader of a Russian organized crime syndicate. Considering Stevenson’s high-profile upcoming roles in G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Thor 2 (reprising his role from Thor), he will likely play a major part in Dexter season 7. Throw in the phrase “Russian organized crime” and, well, it’s time to prep the plastic-wrap.
With Gedrick now joining the cast, his multiple-episode arc will most likely result in the character serving as a minor nemesis. That being said, Mos Def’s addition to the series last season was originally thought to be a “big bad” – but after Dexter season 6 began, Brother Sam’s true role in the series was revealed.
Brother Sam may not have delivered Dexter unto the Lord, but the Dexter season 6 finale did find our favorite blood splatter analyst saying “Oh God!” as Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) walked in on him killing Travis (Colin Hanks). For the audience, this may have been the second time saying “Oh God!” in the finale: Deb wanting to explore her romantic feelings for her brother was likely the first.
Heading into the seventh season, everyone is waiting to see what’s in store for Dexter and his Dark Passenger; if rumors prove to be true, this will be the penultimate season of the show. With many interesting storylines being established at the end of season 6, it’ll be interesting to see how they’re incorporated into the series going forward. If Dexter really does have only two seasons left, it’s likely that season 7 will be setting up the ultimate showdown.
Then again, with Dexter season 9 still a possibility, the end may not be so close after all. We’ll have to wait and see.
Anthony Ocasio blogs at Screen Rant.
The final chapter of House has been closed with the series finale, and the fate of Dr. Gregory House revealed. After eight years on the air (177 episodes), do you believe that this was a fitting end for television’s famed diagnostician?
Trapped in a burning building, House’s final battle for survival was played out in front of our eyes. With appearances from some familiar faces, both living and dead, it was left up to the famed diagnostician to save himself.
Reliving his final case in his conscience, House made the decision to save himself. Unfortunately, as Wilson and Foreman approached the building, House was engulfed in the flames – OR SO WE THOUGHT.
Taking a note from Sherlock Holmes, it was eventually revealed that House had actually faked his own death. Escaping from the back of the building, House wanted to spend the last remaining months of Wilson’s life with him.
Certainly an interesting ending, though one I doubt many saw coming. With the House series finale preceding a beautiful series retrospective, hopes were high that the series would be ended appropriately – but has it? While certainly the happiest of endings anyone could have imagined for the series, there will certainly be quite a few fans who were looking for more closure than was actually provided. While House certainly grew as this final season came to a close, it could be said that the character didn’t evolve to such a level that a motorcycle ride would be a fitting ending for what we see of the character.
Though the debate my continue for days, there’s only one question left to ask: Was this a fitting end to House?
Anthony Ocasio blogs at Screen Rant.
Considering how defined the characters on Mad Men are by their pursuit of achievement, it’s not hard to imagine any of them being done near irreparable harm by the realization that perhaps they’re not fit – or no longer fit – for the world of advertising. Given the effort the likes of Don (Jon Hamm), and especially, Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) have put in to attain such a career, seeing them stumble, as they have of late, is particularly worrisome when the end result of consistent failure is so dreadfully realized in the return of Paul Kinsey (Michael Gladis).
Thankfully, the more fragile personalities of SCDP are largely spared the vision of a Hare Krishna Kinsey – which is a good thing, taking into account that the ego-battering of work of Michael Ginsberg (Ben Feldman), and the effortless, drifting success of Megan Draper (Jessica Paré) have already taken a rather sizeable toll.
‘Christmas Waltz’ moves Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce a little closer to the end of 1966, but with little to show for it. Mohawk is ceasing its advertising in the wake of a mechanics strike, and the agency’s only claim to fame is Don’s letter to Lucky Strike – which inadvertently steered most of the really big fish away from the agency. In addition, none of their work is seen as revolutionary enough to warrant mention in a New York Times Sunday Magazine piece. In essence, the company’s creative side has a stagnation problem – which would normally mean no Christmas bonuses, but since Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) owes some back taxes to England, he figures passing off a new line of credit as a surplus will justify the bonus he uses to pay the sum off.
Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) seems to be the only one finding success – in work, anyway – and manages to get the agency another shot at Jaguar, following the dismissal of the poorly behaved Edwin Baker. As is the case with Pete, the response to his achievement isn’t what he’s looking for, and so he barks at Don, “Yes, you may have to stay past 5:30,” after Don mentions landing Jaguar will be a lot of work.
Bert Cooper (Robert Morse) isn’t the only one who’s noticed Don’s lack of productivity. It seems work just isn’t what it used to be for Don, and his performance on Sno Ball proves it. Making matters worse, Don and Megan attend the play American Hurrah, where a character goes on about the evils of advertising – which later causes a row between the couple, ending with Don telling Megan, “No one’s made a stronger stand against advertising than you.”
Like the deadly smog keeping Don from opening his patio door on Thanksgiving in ‘Dark Shadows,’ there is a cost for what they’ve built. Whether it’s a company, a reputation or a relationship, the taxes are coming due – so to speak – and it’s becoming clear that not everyone is going to have what it takes when the time comes to get square.
Poor Paul Kinsey has to be made the example in this case. Since being left behind following the slapdash formation of SCDP, Kinsey apparently fell down the advertising ladder and was spit out to become a Hare Krishna with dreams of settling down with a woman going by the name Lakshmi (Anna Wood) and writing for Star Trek. Paul wrangles Harry Crane (Rich Sommer) into attending a group chant, so that afterward, he can ask his friend to pass along his spec script to NBC.
Unfortunately for Paul, his writing’s no good, and worse yet, Lakshmi shows up at Harry’s office, seduces him, then tells him to stay away from Paul – the group’s best recruiter – so as to not turn Kinsey into a “gross materialist.” Following that encounter, Harry decides it best to pay Paul’s way to Los Angeles, where he can fail thousands of miles away from him and the Hare Krishnas.
Joan (Christina Hendricks) is served divorce papers at the office, and following a semi-violent outburst, is taken to test drive a Jaguar with Don. If Don found it easy to get what he wanted from people before, with Joan on his arm, the world is definitely his oyster. The two whittle away the afternoon in a bar, where Don reveals he doesn’t get a thrill out of the Jag, and Joan tells him it’s because he’s happy. On the other hand, Joan is terrified that she’s destined to be a single mother now that she’s being delivered divorce papers at work when she’s so used to getting flowers.
Amidst a discussion of the struggle that comes with starting over, Joan wonders why Don never put the moves on her, explaining, “My mother raised me to be admired.” Don tells her he was afraid of her, and jokingly thought she was dating Ali Kahn. Don deflects Joan’s attention toward a guy sitting by himself at the bar. The pair does a good job psychoanalyzing the man, assuming he’s married, but bored – his wife having committed the sin of familiarity. Don opts out at that point, giving Joan some “Mad Money” in case the guy at the bar doesn’t work out.
Taking the Jaguar back to the dealer, Don drives it rather furiously, suggesting he may need a thrill more than he thought. He arrives home drunk to find Megan itching for a fight – a state she seems in more and more, lately – and she reminds him he loved his job and had it long before he ever met her.
At the office the next day, Roger delivers Joan some flowers with a card that reads: “Your mother did a good job. Ali Kahn.” Don’s not done there; he rallies his troops, telling them they’ll be working non-stop until they land Jaguar – as an agency’s first car is how they tell the world they’ve arrived. It looks as though Don may finally be ready to start over.
Kevin Yeoman blogs at Screen Rant.
Bee Gees member Robin Gibb lost his battle with cancer Sunday at the age of 62. Yeah I was never a disco dude as a boy, but I later appreciated The Bee Gees and what they did accomplish.
Like another recently deceased member of the disco era, Donna Summer, the Bee Gees are often remembered as the leaders of a musical “fad” and not great musicians. It's so not true. They were prolific songwriters with harmonies that rivaled The Beach Boys. Even in my “disco hater” days I considered them the masters of the romantic ballad. Only Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks, and Paul McCartney have outsold the Bee Gees.
The Power Popaholic staff blogs at Power Popaholic.
Now that The Avengers has been unleashed on the viewing public and production is getting underway on the next component of the Marvel movie universe, Iron Man 3, fans can begin shifting their attention over to the various components being brought together and/or reuniting for Thor 2.
Expect more casting updates in the near future, along with information about whether or not side players like Heimdall (Idris Elba) and Sif (Jaimie Alexander) will indeed have expanded roles in Thor 2, as director Alan Taylor gears up to start production on the God of Thunder’s next solo adventure.
In the meantime, we can bring you up to speed on Chris Hemsworth’s thoughts about the Thor sequel – including the state of the Norse God’s relationship with his sibling Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in the aftermath of what went down in The Avengers – and how Thor 2 will differ tonally from its predecessor, now that Taylor (Game of Thrones) is in charge.
Here’s Hemsworth talking to MTV about the Thor-Loki dynamic:
“It’s what I loved about the comics. It was never clean and cut and that’s it. It was always like, Thor would forgive him, they’d be friends, and Loki would betray him again. ‘You idiot, Thor! Again?’ But it was different than your normal good guy, bad guy scenario. They’re brothers, you know? Anyone with siblings understands that. ‘That’s it, I’m never talking to you again… want to play football?’”
Hiddleston has already confirmed that Thor 2 will see his Asgardian counterpart deal with the consequences of his dastardly deeds in The Avengers. As to the exact nature of Loki’s redemption: Hemsworth is keeping quiet (as naturally he would):
“He’s got to apologize, doesn’t he? Baked goods. Muffins or something. That would be a bribe we could start with. Beyond that, I don’t know.”
Back in April, Hemsworth also expressed his excitement about having Taylor as director on Thor 2 (via /Film):
“Ken [Branagh] did such a wonderful job and, with scheduling or what have you, he didn’t end up doing this one, but I’m a big fan of the GAME OF THRONES series, which is Alan’s latest work, and I think that is what’s exciting about the second one: making it sort of more tangible and having a more organic feel to Asgard and that world.”
The actor went on to emphasize why he envisions a more naturalistic portrayal of Asgard as a good thing:
“I think the science fiction element to THOR… the danger is it falls a little bit into the world of it’s “tough to throw a light to.” I think of big waterfalls and mountains and a Viking influence, where the Norse mythology kind of grew from. Having that in Asgard is going to make it all the more special and that’s what Alan wants to bring to it. I think that would be the new aspect to this one.”
Avengers‘ mid-credits scene alluded to Marvel’s plans to branch out further into the realm of cosmic comic book adaptations, while also crafting more adventures based in (sorta) realistic science fiction world (Iron Man 3, Captain America 2). If the fantastical proceedings in Thor 2 are grounded with more relatable material – such as brotherly conflicts and tangible worldly designs, that would help the two branches of the Marvel movie universe to better mesh together and eventually converge (possibly, in Avengers 2).
Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.
The shining star of Glee is looking to remain just as bright next season by adding the glamorous Sarah Jessica Parker and Kate Hudson as the latest A-listers to appear on Fox’s hit musical comedy. Fox is not saying much about what roles the two actresses will be taking on – but Parker let the news slip to Kelly Ripa this morning on Live! that she would be playing a “mentor of sorts.”
No word on whether either will sing – but Hudson has been confirmed for a six-episode arc, with Parker also appearing in a yet-to-be disclosed muti-episode arc. Hudson and Parker will join a star-studded list of guest stars that includes Whoopi Goldberg, Jeff Goldblum, Ricky Martin, Idina Menzel, and Gwyneth Paltrow – who has also expressed interest in reprising her role as the beloved substitute teacher Holly Holliday.
While details on Glee’s season 4 are still very limited – Show star Lea Michele has described creator Ryan Murphy’s ambitious plans for the upcoming season as “groundbreaking” and “revolutionary for television.” Next season Glee will convert into “show-within-a-show” style format that will bounce between McKinley High in Ohio and the performing arts school NYADA in New York City. The Ohio storyline will feature a set of new characters as well as those returning who did not graduate yet – while the NYC arc will center on returning cast members Lea Michele (Rachel), Chris Colfer (Kurt) and Cory Monteith (Fin).
Glee will also give its third season finale a star-studded send off. The finale titled “Goodbye” is set to air May 22nd and will contain guest-appearances from everyone’s favorite human train wreck Lindsay Lohan and internet loud mouth Perez Hilton. Lohan and Hilton will portray judges for Nationals along with Entourage’s Rex Lee – Gloria Estefan will also make a special guest appearance as the mother of Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera), with Estefan stating “I’m a big Gleek myself!”
Besides a new show set-up, Glee will also be moving to a new night. Fox will be creating a more music-centric Thursday night line-up this Fall by pairing Glee with both The X Factor (in the Fall) and the American Idol results show (in the Spring). President of Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Co, Kevin Reilly calls the shows “culture-driving hits” and “strong returning tentpoles.” – and has announced that Britney Spears and Demi Lovato have been confirmed to sit on the judges panel alongside L.A. Reid and Simon Cowell on X Factor this fall.
Scott Stoute blogs at Screen Rant.