THE SECRET OF SANTA VITTORIA

Our collective view of World War II has changed greatly since the liberation of Europe and the defeat of the Axis in 1945. Information has come to light and disturbing discoveries have puckered our understanding of the last world war, but there once was time when WWII spawned a great deal of comedic material. Movies like Stalag 17 (1953), The Great Escape (1963), even the TV show Hogan’s Heroes (1965–1971) found the lighter aspects of the war — particularly in those who found ways to maintain humanity through frivolity. Life is often silly, even when it is under incredible duress. … Continue reading THE SECRET OF SANTA VITTORIA

MICROBE & GASOLINE

Ingmar Bergman said it best: “To shoot a film is to organize an entire universe.” And French writer/director Michel Gondry has been heeding this advice since the 90s. With his start in music videos — Foo Fighters, “Everlong;” Björk, “Bachelorette;” Kylie Minogue, “Come Into My World” — Gondry has specialized in handmade worlds that are left of center and slightly magical. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Mood Indigo explored dark and depressing subject matter through these worlds, but they are products of an adult dealing with adult conflicts. What about the world of a teenager? Their world is … Continue reading MICROBE & GASOLINE

THE INNOCENTS

World War II was not kind to the sovereign nation of Poland. In September 1939, Poland was invaded on both sides — first by the Nazis on September 1 and then by the Soviets on the 17th — effectively tearing the country in half. Polish citizens lived under constant terror, captivity and persecution and by the end of the war, roughly 6 million Poles had died — approximately 1/5 of the pre-war population — but things did not improve. The defeat of the Nazis meant the triumph of the Soviets; Poland was no better off. This transfer of power and … Continue reading THE INNOCENTS

On the dangers of being polite — a conversation about THE INVITATION with Karyn Kusama

Utilizing a production budget of roughly $1 million and a single location — a mid-century house high in the Hollywood Hills — The Invitation is a slow-burning, dread-inducing exploration of pain and adult relationships. Theatrically distributed by Drafthouse Films earlier this year and recently released on Netflix, The Invitation was the centerpiece of last year’s Stanley Film Festival. Following the screening, I had a chance to speak with director Karyn Kusama about how The Invitation relates to the horror genre, the genesis of the project and why politeness might be our civil undoing. Warning: spoilers follow. Michael Casey: What does the … Continue reading On the dangers of being polite — a conversation about THE INVITATION with Karyn Kusama

“I am spinning gold!” — A conversation with Adam Devine on MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES

Adam Devine is a clown, and a successful one at that. Whether he is chaos incarnate on the big screen in the his latest movie, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, or just an actor doing junket interviews in The Sink’s backroom, he’s going to bring the funny. Question: How much of the movie was improvised on set? Answer: “36% I would say,” Devine replies matter-of-factly. “If we’re talking improv, I got to give you stats.” The co-creator, writer and star of Comedy Central’s Workaholics has come into his own with a few big screen supporting roles under his belt … Continue reading “I am spinning gold!” — A conversation with Adam Devine on MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES

ZERO DAYS

“I do not know how the Third World War will be fought, but I can tell you what they will use in the Fourth — rocks!” —Albert Einstein When Einstein provided that quote in 1949 — to Alfred Werner for Liberal Judaism 16 — he was most likely thinking of nuclear weapons and the idea of mutually assured destruction. But Einstein is right whether or not nukes are used in the next war; for we have developed another technology, one that can send our enemy back to the dark ages simply by flipping a power switch. That switch is part … Continue reading ZERO DAYS

THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS

Twenty-one years ago, Toy Story started a revolution. Not as a breakthrough in computer animation — though it was that as well — but as a breakthrough in imagination. What went on when our backs were turned? Once we left the room and shut off the lights, would inanimate objects spring to life, establish political systems, social hierarchies, develop romantic relationships and carry grudges? It’s a romantic notion to turn objects into friends with personalities, but those personalities are only as inventive as the humans who conceive of them. That is what makes Toy Story, and its subsequent sequels, so … Continue reading THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS

TICKLED

David Farrier is an entertainment TV journalist for 3 News and Nightline in New Zealand, the sort of work that attracts oddball activities and exotic people. Not exactly hard-hitting journalism, but Farrier is hard-working, and like a dog with a bone, Farrier gets to the bottom of what he is looking for. If only Debbie at Jane O’Brien Media knew that, maybe she wouldn’t have been so nasty when Farrier requested an interview. She wouldn’t have piqued his curiosity, and her secret would still be safe. But no, she had to go an insult Farrier, his sexuality and his profession. … Continue reading TICKLED