Remembering Prince

One of many examples of a great artist inspiring art…..#ripprince

A post shared by Andrew Ellis (@baseballhwk) on

You just knew about him as if knowledge of his existence was part of your genetic makeup if you were born within the state lines. The closer you got to the Twin Cities the more stories you heard about him.

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“400 Days” Article and Premiere

It’s been awhile since I’ve been on here, but I’m going to try and keep this thing going on a more constant basis.

On New Years Eve I interviewed Minnesota-based director Matt Osterman who wrote and directed the sc-fi thriller 400 Days. It stars Dane Cook, Brandon Routh, Caity Lotz, Ben Feldman, and Tom Cavanagh. It was a great chat, and the movie was really good, too. It definitely makes you thinks.

There’s loads of info on the process of making the film on a very small budget, and how it came to the first movie under SyFy’s new film label.

The movie is available now VOD and other streaming services.

Here’s the City Pages article!

 

 

Article Link: Vermin Web Series Kickstarter

I interviewed Tim Wick and Gordon Smuder about the Kickstarter they relaunched for their web series, Vermin, which also stars Trace Beaulieu of Mystery Science Theater 3000. It turned into quite a nice chat  about writing for puppets (write as if they’re people), and trying to get away from the stigma that puppets are just for kids.

They were very cool guys, and I look forward to talking to them again about more of their work.

Here’s the link to the article!

 

 

At The Movies: Terminator Genisys

I’ve been excited about Terminator Genisys for a while. While I was excited as everyone else that ArnoldSchwarzenegger was coming back I was also excited about the casting decisions of the main roles: Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor, Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese, and Jason Clarke (no relation) as John Connor.  Matt Smith (Doctor Who) also has a cool part.

In the movie, Reese is sent back in time to 1984 by John Connor to save Sarah Connor from the original Terminator. Little do they know that things have actually changed, and Schwarzenegger’s Terminator is actually on Sarah’s side. So they go forward in time to 2017 just before the birth of Skynet which is at the time called Genisys. They find John there, but find out he’s changed, too, thanks to being attacked by a machine (Smith) just before Reese is sent to save Sarah. He’s now pro-Skynet and he’s what’s standing between them and the launch of Genisys/Skynet.

The movie moved a long pretty well, and there was plenty of action. Despite it being a serious movie there were definite moments of humor, and Schwarzenegger was really good being back in one of the roles that catapulted him to stardom so many years back. Both Courtney and Clarke were solid as Kyle and Sarah, and worked pretty well together. Although there was one plot line that seemed to miss a little buildup (maybe I’ll talk about it in another post later this week after people have seen the movie). Jason Clarke was awesome as John Connor (when isn’t he awesome?).

Also, for the Whovians out there (Doctor Who fans), Matt Smith has a pretty cool part. Oh, there also is one scene after the first part of the credits. It’s kind of important.

I thinks it’s definitely worth a trip to the theaters to watch, especially in IMAX 3D if you can cover the extra cost.

Now, go forth and watch the humans attempt to dismantle Skynet….again.

At the Movies: The Numbers Station

This is a slightly older movie in the John Cusack discography, but still worth a mention. He stars as some sort of disgraced government agent who was taken out of the field after he was unable to take care of a witness (yes, it’s another way of saying he couldn’t kill an innocent girl after she watched him kill her dad).

For his rehab he’s sent over to Europe to watch over a code broadcaster played by Malin Akerman (The Watchmen). It’s a top-secret job that very few can do: she relays coded messages in the form of numbers via a secret broadcast system to field agents who then carry out the assignments under a set time limit.

It all comes undone when they are waiting for another team to get out, and they’re shot at by a hidden sniper. Once inside, they realize the team was attacked by someone trying to broadcast certain messages. The movie balances between Emerson (Cusack) and Katherine (Akerman) trying to find out what happened to the other team, and Emerson struggling with the fact that part of his job is to “take care of” Katherine.

Even though it was short with just below an hour and a half running time, it was still pretty good movie. It was moved pretty quickly, and they did a great job with building up suspense. Parts of me does wish that it was a bit longer to allow for more back story and character development, but there is also an argument that those factors aren’t as important.

There were, however, a few things that could have benefited from a longer movie or even some sort of miniseries. Some background on Emerson’s boss would’ve been nice being as he seemed kind of central to what was going on, and you’re never really told who the guys were that attacked the station and killed the first team.

In the end, however, it’s definitely worth a watch.

At The Movies: Jurassic World

There have been many who have been waiting for this movie for a long time, and it’s had so many production delays that many feared it would never happen. But it finally has, and it is so totally worth the wait.

Jurassic World takes place twenty-plus years after the original, and is said to be a direct sequel to the 1993 classic. It takes place in present day with the theme park up and running, and being hugely successful. Behind the scenes finds Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard)  who appears to be in a chief operations officer trying to find a way to add excitement to the park, and draw more attendees.  Of course that means genetically enhancing the dinosaur embryos they create in the labs.

One of those enhanced dinosaurs is a full-grown T-Rex which Claire is told needs to be looked before it can be crowd-ready (whatever that means when it comes to gigantic meat-eating dinosaurs). She is told to bring in Owen (Chris Pratt, America’s current favorite actor), who has somehow managed to train velociraptors to listen to directions in some form. Also interested in the raptors is Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio), a military contractor who wants to use the raptors in the battlefield (not part of Owen’s plans).

Everything really starts heating up after they are notified that the T-Rex’s tracking device is outside the enclosed area. That’s when they realize it was more of a diversion to get them in the area. The T-Rex escapes after eating one of guards, and chaos slowly ensues as they try to keep the park open as the enhanced dinosaur makes its way toward the main theme park area. Meanwhile, Claire is also worried about her two nephews who came to spend time with her, but she put her assistant Zara (Katie McGrath, BBC’s Merlin) on them because she had important meetings to attend to. The nephews ditched  Zara are touring a field of dinosaurs when they chaos starts unknown to them (they find out soon enough).

Despite all the production delays it’s well worth a trip to a theater, especially to see it in IMAX 3D. The ticket prices are outrageous (which the employees working there have no control over, by the way), but it’s worth. Chris Pratt’s leading-man skill is undeniable, and Howard’s portrayal of a career woman also dealing with the arrival two nephews (whose names she tends to forget) is pretty spot on. At first, she seems really cold, but she’s clearly used to having two responsibilities: the unbelievable task of making sure a the park stays profitable, and her own life (the ounce of a personal life revealed is her nephews, her sister (Judy Greer), and her failed date with Owen years ago). She tries her best, and scenes with her nephews can be awkwardly comical.

The only way the movie could have been better is with a few appearances by characters from the original 1993 epic. There were two, but no spoilers (it’s time to be surprised again).

It’s a great movie, and there’s a very good chance we can look forward to more installments in the near future (as of this writing the movie took in over $18 million on Thursday, $80 million-plus on Friday, and is on track to end the weekend with $180 million).

Go on, now! The park is open.

Digital Digging: Chris Stapleton

If you aren’t that into country music, then there’s a good chance you have no idea who Chris Stapleton is. He’s been a hit songwriter in Nashville for over a decade helping pen hits such as Luke Bryan’s “Drink a Beer” where he even provided background vocals, and he also fronted a critically acclaimed Americana-bluegrass band called the SteelDrivers for a few years.

But now it’s his turn to take center stage with his debut solo record, Traveller.

With this record he seems he used only what was necessary for each song, which gives it a very raw feel. It sounds like it could’ve been made on the dirt floor of an old honkytonk which has a neon sign that won’t stop flickering. It may be categorized as country music, but he sings like a soul singer from another era mixed blues and country.

Most of the songs range from slow to mid-tempo with the lone exception being “Might As Well Get Stoned.” The songs may not make you dance like a Luke Bryan or FGL party cut, but that doesn’t mean they won’t move you. They cut straight through to your soul, which even I’ll admit doesn’t happen too much anymore.

In the end, Chris Stapleton made all about the song. And it’ll have you pressing repeat many times over.

My journey trying to find work in the world of new media. Follow me on Twitter @Baseballhwk.