Category: Movie Reviews

STAR WARS: ROGUE ONE–A Long Time Ago in A Galaxy Far, Far Away

rogue-oneBy: Laura Kristan Wilhelm
West Hollywood, CA (The Hollywood Times) 12/22/16 – Or was it? This reporter and her husband weren’t so sure.
Consider their favorite silly and serious quotes from the film: “I’m taking the prisoners to prison to be imprisoned!” and “You give way to an enemy this evil with this much power, and you condemn the galaxy to an eternity of submission. The time to fight is NOW!” Talk of police states and abuses of power during this Presidential election season threw these statements into sharp relief.
Carlos Foglia also noted that the face of the resistance in STAR WARS: ROGUE ONE is not unlike the face of those struggling for equality today. Here is featured a main cast of people of color with a woman leading the way.
Furthermore, the woman (Jyn Erso, played by British actress Felicity Jones) truly is in charge and knows who she is. Her father was a scientist for the Evil Empire who supported the Rebellion. Now she too is a Rebel soldier.
Image courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures.
Image courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures.

Even veteran actors like Forest Whitaker and Jimmy Smits stand down and follow Jyn’s lead. The rest of the resistance team is played by a promising cast of Chinese, Mexican, and Indian actors.

All have places to go and things to do. Their seriousness of purpose defies stereotypes at all turns. According to Foglia, “The richness of the diversity is a palpable jolt of hope for all minorities everywhere.”
“Rebellions are built on hope,” Jyn Urso confirms. Leaders are dealers of hope.
Hope provides freedom. When you save the rebellion, you save the dream.
In America, we can take our freedom for granted. There was no need to rebel when we had what we wanted.
rogue-one4Now the future is pointing us towards a fight. We may resent having to fight for what was always ours or wonder what to do.
Perhaps common causes and collective action as seen in STAR WARS: ROGUE ONE can guide us to a Force much greater than ourselves. That may be a vision worth fighting for.

 

Maria Sole Tognazz’s writing and directing will leave all encompassed by Marina and Federica’s life and all that it involves, in an Italian feature film ‘Me, Myself and Her’.

maria-sole-tognazzi-2-e1454941077647By: Kim Kennedy

Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 12/15/2016- “I was on a rollercoaster of feelings towards this story, and in the final minute of the film, my opinion took a 180, once again”.

As I sat down with my girlfriend to watch Me, Myself and Her, we were honestly both dubious. Not because the cover of the DVD didn’t deliver an honest, and modern image, but due to the fact we are both actresses, in a same sex relationship, who have watched a lot of movies, and once again the story contained, yes, cheating.

2maria-sole-tognazziWe arrived at opening scene of the film, and were met with English subtitles. I wondered if I could really connect to characters when I couldn’t understand their native tongue. Would I miss anything in their eyes, as I would need to constantly be reading the dialog?

No, is the answer. I was pleasantly surprised. Maria Sole Tognazz writing and directing transport you into a household, making you immediately feel safe and involved in the two women, quickly forgetting that this is an ‘LGBT film’. For me this is hugely important. Cinema isn’t about segregating a group, even if it is with good intentions. It is about depicting true life, or real-to-life issues and circumstances. An Me, Myself and Her did just that.

Margherita Buy and Sabrina Ferilli star as the central couple of Tognazzi’s latest
Margherita Buy and Sabrina Ferilli star as the central couple of Tognazzi’s latest

Aesthetically the locations, wardrobe and casting all were in line with making the story, and Marina and Federica’s life relatable, as much as it is aspirational. Speaking of aesthetics, Arnaldo Catinari’s cinematography, was clearly influenced by his study of architecture, giving us rich and clean lines, of perfectly flawed old buildings and modern interiors.

The story is based around two women in their 50’s. Both deeply in love with each other, 1 marriage with children, 2 careers, 1 cat, a beautiful apartment and 5 years and sadly soon to be an affair, under their belt. We go through every amount of turmoil surrounded by the elephant in the room, no not the cheating, which is obviously the big issue, but the idea of really ashamed or in the closet, whilst in a relationship.

The writing is conversational, without a moment or boring. Its sarcastic and witty. The edit on the film, leaves it feeling fun and fresh, as well as dramatic, almost like a high end TV show. There are moments which I would have enjoyed an indulgent pause, like in most indie to box office movies these days. But that’s just me.

“Not everyone has thought about telling a story with two women over fifty because it is still not accepted really.”
“Not everyone has thought about telling a story with two women over fifty because it is still not accepted really.”

Sabrina Ferilli depiction of the ex actress Marina, who is very comfortable with who she is, takes this film to new heights. She;s charming and watchable, breathing life into every scene to the film. Not that it would be needed, as she stars across from seventime David di Donatello Awards winner, Margherita Buy. Buy’s role, as Federica provides us with the affair, the elephant in the room and emotion in the eyes like no other.

I was blown away with everything about this film, and sad that I was so dubious. It gave me everything I wanted, and not much of what I expected. The final moments of the film, change everything, and most surprisedly, made me feel completely forgiving of Federica. This empathy was nowhere to be seen in the first 100 minutes of the film, leaving me in awe of the writing, direction and acting.

So take a leap, this movie isn’t what you expect. Rent, buy or borrow, Me Myself and Her.

The Addams Family comes to The Grove Theatre, Upland

the-addams-family-logoBy: Judy Shields

Upland, California (The Hollywood Times) 10/29/16 – “It’s one funny and entertaining show that the whole family will enjoy. The cast has just outdone themselves, so please come on out and see this entertaining play” Kristopher Kyer, Director of the play told The Hollywood Times last night.

The Hollywood Times has been covering many plays at this “diamond in the rough” playhouse for about two years and every play has been entertaining, but last night’s performance was spot on with laughter, dancing and singing. Continue reading “The Addams Family comes to The Grove Theatre, Upland”

How we became SOLITARY:

Katherine and Sarina at the London Premiere
Katherine and Sarina at the London Premiere

(New Amazon, Itunes, IndieFilms Digital Release) 

By William Hagle

Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 10/19/16 – IN THE FILM Nora’s broken life lands her back home with her aging father. There with sister Shannon they uncover the painful reality that drove Nora to drink, despair and confusion.

The Hollywood Times (THT) Q and A follows on how to take film festival winner Solitary to World-Wide Digital Distribution.

Featured Cast and Crew

Roger Taylor: Executive Producer, Score

Sarina Taylor: Executive Producer/Producer/Supporting Role Continue reading “How we became SOLITARY:”

THE GOLDEN AGE in Two Acts

the_golden_age_headerby Dr. Laura Wilhelm, LauraWil Intercultural
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 10/17/16 – On Sunday, October 16th, 2016 this reporter and her husband settled down after a hectic week with their favorite forms of recreation: football for him and ballet for her.  He watched the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Galaxy  triumph on the small television screen while she watched Dmitri Shostakovich’s THE GOLDEN AGE triumph on the big movie screen!

Continue reading “THE GOLDEN AGE in Two Acts”

TCM & Fathom Events Presents The King and I

tcm-the-king-and-iBy: Judy Shields

Ontario, California (The Hollywood Times) September 6, 2016 – “Welcome to the TCM Big Classic Series, this month we have a special 60th Anniversary screening of one of the most celebrated musicals ever made, 1956 Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr star in Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s The King and I. TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, told the audience in attendance at the ACM Ontario Mills theatre number 26 last Wednesday before the movie at 7:00 p.m.

It’s time to whistle a happy tune!  Rodgers & Hammerstein’s classic movie musical The King and I returned to movie theatres this past Sunday and last night as part of Fathom Event and Turner Classic Movies’ TCM Big Screen Classics series.  Marking the 60th Anniversary, “TCM Big Screen Classics: The King and I screened Sunday, August 28 and Wednesday, August 31 at 2:00 & 7:00 and included a specially produced commentary from TCM host Ben Mankiewicz before and after the feature.

Ben Mankiewicz magically appeared before our eyes on the big screen to introduce this wonderful musical.  Ben went on to say “that the movie was a highly anticipated big screen adaptation of the hit musical that premiered on Broadway five years earlier in 1951.  The King and I tells the vaguely true story of an English woman who became a teacher to the children of the king of Siam 1862. Now Thailand in the nineteenth century, I say vaguely true because even today it’s apparently illegal to even poses The King and I in Thailand due to the nature of the historical inadequacies about the king.”  Continue reading “TCM & Fathom Events Presents The King and I”

Ringside: Fighting Is The Easy Part

GUEST attends SAG-AFTRA Foundation "Conversations" screening of TV One's original movie Ringside at SAG-AFTRA Foundation Actors Center on August 23, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.
GUEST attends SAG-AFTRA Foundation “Conversations” screening of TV One’s original movie Ringside at SAG-AFTRA Foundation Actors Center on August 23, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.

August 23rd, 2016, SAG-AFTRA Foundation Screening Room

By Svetlana Krapivina

Photo: Mikhail Urubkov

Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 8/30/16 – “As a writer and director I wanted to show the dark side of the boxing world”, – revealed Russ Parr about his new movie Ringside.

On August 23rd media and the cast of Ringside arrived at SAG-AFTRA Foundation Screening Room to watch the screening of the movie and participate in a Q&A moderated by Entertainment Tonight correspondent Nischelle Turner.

Be ready to watch a great drama about a fast-rising boxing star Jaxon Holley (Tyler Lepley) that will be delivered by TV One on September 4th.  Another star Allen Maldonado (Straight Outta Compton, Black-Ish) portrays Spencer Collier who tries hard to take Jaxon off his game. The movie is all about sports, love and family drama.

As a writer and director I wanted to show the dark side of the boxing world”, – revealed Russ Parr about his new movie Ringside.

“He is a very complex character, very multilayer, very multidimensional. He is not a traditional boxer”, – actor Tyler Lepley shared his thoughts on portraying Jaxon Holley.

“Endira is the love interest of Jaxon. I go through a process and fall in love with him, and you’ll find out my deep dark secret I hide from him. I finally reveal who I truly am and you’ll see at the end of the film whether or not we will be able to stay together”, – said actress Raney Branch about her character Endira. Endira is a beautiful photographer who meets Jaxon and captures his heart.

“I am very excited for people to see this film. My character takes everything to win. He is fearless, ambitious and arrogant, everything you see in these mega fighters. I do everything to win’, – revealed actor Allen Maldonado about his character, steroid-taking champ Spencer “Timber” Collier,  Jaxon’s biggest enemy. Continue reading “Ringside: Fighting Is The Easy Part”

Equal Means Equal!–

Kamala Lopez, Patricia Arquette, (Photo: THT)
Kamala Lopez, Patricia Arquette, Nicolette Sheridan (Photo: THT)

by Dr. Laura Wilhelm, LauraWil Intercultural & Valerie Milano

Milano interviewing, with other reporters, Gloria Allred (Photo: THT)
Milano interviewing, with other reporters, Gloria Allred (Photo: THT)

Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 8/29/16 – On August 26th, 1920 the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution granting women the right to vote was certified as law.  The amendment was first introduced many years earlier in 1878.

Every U.S. President has published a proclamation for Women’s Equality Day since 1972, the year after legislation was first introduced in Congress by Bella Abzug.  This resolution was passed in 1971 designating August 26th of each year as Women’s Equality Day.

But are U.S. women really equal?  Director Kamala Lopez examines this controversial question in her documentary EQUAL MEANS EQUAL, which screened on the evening of Friday, August 26th, 2016 at Laemmle’s Music Hall Theatre located at 9036 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills.

The unrated one hour and thirty-three-minute film was preceded by an all-star red carpet graced by actress Nicolette Sheridan and followed by a panel discussion to promote Women’s Equality Day.  Director Kamala Lopez and Executive Producer Patricia Arquette were front and center on the red carpet to discuss the film.

“This is the civics class we’re never given in school,” said Patricia Arquette at the panel discussion, which also included Kamala Lopez and Gloria Allred among others.  Allred is a lawyer known for taking on high-profile women’s rights cases who was born in Philadelphia and received degrees from the University of

Bamby Salcedo is the founder of the Los Angeles-based TransLatin@ Coalition, which according to its website "is an organization form[ed] by Trans Latin@ immigrant leaders who have come together (Photo: THT)
Bamby Salcedo is the founder of the Los Angeles-based TransLatin@ Coalition, which according to its website “is an organization form[ed] by Trans Latin@ immigrant leaders who have come together (Photo: THT)
Pennsylvania, New York University, and Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.  Noted Hispanic playwright and human rights activist Josefina Lopez (REAL WOMEN DON’T HAVE CURVES) was on hand to moderate.

Milano interviewing, with our reporters, Nicolette Sheridan (Photo: THT)
Milano interviewing, with other reporters, Nicolette Sheridan (Photo: THT)

Arquette, 48, used her 2015 Oscar acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress (BOYHOOD) as an opportunity to champion women’s rights in America.  “To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights.  It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!”

In EQUAL MEANS EQUAL Kamala Lopez uncovers how outdated and discriminatory attitudes inform and influence seemingly disparate issues such as workplace harassment to domestic violence, rape and sexual assault to the foster care system, and the healthcare conglomerate to the judicial system.  Along the way, she reveals the inadequacy of present laws to protect women.

“I found laws that are incomplete, insufficient, and in some cases actually deleterious to the women they are supposed to be helping,” Lopez says in her Director’s Statement on the film’s official website.  “What are noticeably and shockingly absent are the basic explicit human and civil rights protections that men are afforded by the Constitution.”

For the complete statement and more information, please visit http://www.equalmeansequal.com./

Kamala Lopez and Gloria Allred (Photo: THT)
Kamala Lopez and Gloria Allred (Photo: THT)

In unflinching detail Lopez illustrates how the American system repeatedly fails women in their dual roles as underpaid wage earners and underserved mothers.  Possible solutions to “The War on Women” are presented in the form of the national Equal Rights Amendment and the international Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.  However, the United States is still far from adopting either of these.

Perhaps the most definitive statement on gender relations in the film came from Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Gloria Steinem, the world-famous publisher of MS. Magazine.  “We are linked, not ranked,” said Steinem.

THT prefers to keep the present article relatively short as EQUAL MEANS EQUAL will become available for house party screenings on Tuesday, September 6th, 2016.  Please see this fact-laden film for yourself and let it spur you to action during the two months remaining before the 2016 Presidential election!  Failure IS impossible.

FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS

FlorenceHits the Right Notes–
by Dr. Laura Wilhelm, LauraWil Intercultural
Hollywood, CA (The Hollywood Times) 8/1/16 – On the evening of Monday, August 1st, 2016 this reporter attended a special advance screening of Stephen Frear’s new film FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS at the ArcLight Theater located at 6360 West Sunset Boulevard.  FFJ hilariously stars Meryl Streep as the musically challenged Ms. Jenkins and Hugh Grant as her common-law husband, St. Clair Bayfield, whose ardor blows hot and cold.  It opens in theaters on August 12th.
Set in 1940s New York, FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS is the true story of the legendary New York heiress and socialite who completely lacked vocal talent but more than made up for this with her steadfast belief in the beauty of her own awful voice.  Bayfield was determined to protect Jenkins from the truth at all costs.

Continue reading “FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS”

KING COBRA:

James Franco & Keegan Allen Premiere 'King Cobra' At Outfest 2016!
James Franco & Keegan Allen Premiere ‘King Cobra’ At Outfest 2016!

Special Centerpiece at Outfest 2016

by Dr. Laura Wilhelm, LauraWil Intercultural
West Hollywood, CA (The Hollywood Times) 7/18/16 –

This year director Justin Kelly  (I AM MICHAEL) returned to Outfest with KING COBRA, another cinematic offering based upon true events.  The 91-minute film boasts an all-star ensemble cast that includes James Franco, Molly Ringwald, Alicia Silverstone, and Christian Slater.  Disney Channel alum Garrett Clayton plays underage gay adult superstar “Brent Corrigan” (Sean Paul Lockhart) from San Diego, CA.
James Franco is known to LGBT audiences mainly on account of starring opposite Sean Penn in Gus Van Sant’s 2008 film MILK.  Franco plays Harvey Milk’s real-life male lover Scott Smith.
ALICIA SILVERSTONE at King Cobra Premiere at Outfest LFBT Film Festival 07/16/2016
ALICIA SILVERSTONE at King Cobra Premiere at Outfest LFBT Film Festival 07/16/2016

Harvey Milk was San Francisco’s first openly gay supervisor.  Scott Smith helped to manage Milk’s political campaigns.  Their seven-year romantic relationship lasted until 1977, a year before Milk was assassinated by ex-Supervisor Dan White.

Sean Penn won an Oscar for Best Actor and James Franco won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor in these celebrated LGBT roles fromMILK.  Their notoriously explicit scenes togetherincluded many mouth to mouth kisses between the two straight actors.
In 2004 James Franco had been named one ofPEOPLE Magazine’s 50 Hottest Bachelors.  Like Sean Penn he quickly captured LGBT attention after MILKwas released four years later.
“There are lots of other reasons to be interested in gay characters than wanting myself to go out and have sex with guys.  And there are also lots of other aspects of these characters that I’m interested in besides their sexuality,” Franco has said.  “Or, you know what, maybe I’m just gay!”
KING COBRA is based upon the 2012 book COBRA KILLER by Peter A. Conway and Andrew E. Stoner about the gruesome murder of forty-four-year-old gay porn entrepreneur Bryan Kocis in Pennsylvania.  Thus the film possesses just what most porn lacks: a plot replete with intelligence, imagination, and human interest.
Gus Van Sant
Gus Van Sant

James Franco pairs with Keegan Allen and Christian Slater pairs with Garrett Clayton to form two explosive same sex partnerships.  All four straight actors fulfill their demanding LGBT roles with rare bravado and brilliance.

Allen and Clayton fully hold their own in every frame with the older leads.  The blond and boyish Clayton shines brighter and brighter as he nimbly maneuvers through the film’s many twists and turns to emerge triumphant at the very end.
Franco’s dashing dark good looks also keep the high octane heart of KING COBRA smoldering dementedly.  He and partner Allen  (portraying escorts Joseph Kerekes and Harlow Cuadra) finally land at the bottom of a murder conspiracy after a wild roller coaster ride of military service, modeling, hustling, and adult film production fails to pan out for either of them.
2016 Outfest Los Angeles Screening Of "King Cobra" And The Presentation Of The James Schamus Ally Award Featuring: Justin Kelly, James Franco, Gus Van Sant Where: West Hollywood, California, United States When: 17 Jul 2016 Credit: FayesVision/WENN.com
2016 Outfest Los Angeles Screening Of “King Cobra” And The Presentation Of The James Schamus Ally Award
Featuring: Justin Kelly, James Franco, Gus Van Sant
Where: West Hollywood, California, United States
When: 17 Jul 2016
Credit: FayesVision/WENN.com

James Franco has already won awards for KING COBRA, which picks up where older films such asAMERICAN GIGOLO  (1980) starring Richard Gere as a sometime LGBT hustler leave off.  Online pornography generates billions in revenue daily and can make boy toys like Brent Corrigan overnight sensations.

Naturally a feature film about online porn contains many graphic sex scenes suitable only for adults.  The artistic quality of these sequences in KING COBRA puts the vast majority of actual online porn productions to shame.
After the film was screened at Outfest, director Justin Kelly said he had tried to probe the WHYS of all the madness and mayhem found in KING COBRA.  And indeed he puts all the seething sex and violence into a context that remains credible from beginning to end.
Actors Garrett Clayton and Keegan Allen were also on stage to congratulate for their breakout performances in KING COBRA.  Both had fully researched their biopic roles and were grateful to have worked so closely with the more established stars.  Allen commented insightfully about the main characters who were all looking for love and trying to figure themselves out in this “comedy of errors.”
kingKING COBRA will be released in October 2016.  All four of the male heartthrobs will no doubt leave audiences wanting to see more of them, though that might not be easy after KING COBRA!

 

DIRECTOR’S CLOSE-UP RECAP: TANGERINE FILMMAKERS “PHONE IN” THE YEAR’S MOST INNOVATIVE INDIE

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Reach into your pocket. Pull out your iPhone (or Android). Look at it. Would you believe that this small, sleek bit of tech contains more raw filmmaking firepower than Orson Welles had at his disposal to make all of Citizen Kane?

It’s true—but there’s a reason that the availability and dexterity of lightweight, pocket-sized video cameras hasn’t necessarily led to an explosion in quality independent filmmaking. Telling great stories still requires the effort of talented storytellers, and talent can’t be manufactured.

Such was the case with the gritty, LA-set sex worker comedy Tangerine, famously shot on the iPhone 5s. But there’s more to the film than the novelty of its shooting format; Tangerine was the subject of Film Independent’s fifth (and final!) night of the 2016 Directors Close-Up series.

The panel brought Tangerine director Sean Baker and co-writer/producer Chris Bergoch to the Landmark theaters in Los Angeles to discuss the film’s unlikely path to becoming an art house hit, which included multiple nominations and a historic win at the recent 2016 Film Independent Spirit Awards.

Glenn Kiser, Director of the Dolby Institute, who kicked things off by asking Baker and Bergoch how their collaboration began, moderated the discussion.

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“We met at NYU at the Tisch School of the Arts as undergrads,” Baker explained. “We connected on just loving film.”

The duo went on to co-create the surreal Fox sitcom Greg the Bunny and its MTV spinoff Warren the Ape, the latter of which featured several stunt-casting appearances by adult film actresses.

It was in talking to these performers that Baker and Bergoch hatched the idea for 2012’s Starlet, Baker’s unflinching comedic drama about the unlikely friendship between a pornographic actress and her elderly neighbor.

Starlet would go on to win the Robert Altman Award for best ensemble cast at the2013 Film Independent Spirit Awards, which led to an offer from indie film moguls Jay and Mark Duplass to collaborate on a microbudget feature.

That microbudget feature ended up being Tangerine, the idea for which sprung out of a single location.

“Santa Monica and Highland…that’s the idea,” said Baker, referring to the infamous intersection where LA’s transsexual sex worker population tends to congregate—including the Donut Time coffee shop where much of Tangerine’s action takes place. “We [got the] green light just based on the intersection.”

“A lot of filmmakers have really interesting notions for films, but 98 percent of them never get there,” observed Kiser. “How did you?” he asked.

“We wanted to do a really simple Point A to Point B mission,” said Bergoch. Baker added, “We had no idea going in except that we wanted a climactic confrontation at Donut Time.”

Begoch explained their strategy for entering the world of trans prostitutes. “One of the first things we wanted to do was find collaborators,” he said.

Eventually, the filmmakers met actors Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor at a local LGBT center. Working together with the transgendered actresses, Baker and Bergoch developed the script—a process Baker said was influenced by the improvisational techniques of British filmmaker Mike Leigh.

“I always encourage improv, but you have to find actors who can do it,” said Baker of his leads, stressing that Taylor and Rodriguez were “first time actors”—not, he was careful to point out, amateur actors.

Kiser then threw to a clip of Tangerine’s first scene, in which Taylor’s Alexandra lets slip that Sin-Dee’s (Rodriguez) pimp boyfriend has been cheating on her, setting off an epic, daylong journey to confront him.

“I’m always interested in the first 10 minutes of a film,” said Kiser of this deceptively low-key opener, which then explodes into the frenetic cutting and camera work that more typifies the remainder of Tangerine’s 90-minute runtime.

“We wanted to throw the audience into this moment,” said Baker. “We wanted a traditional title sequence and traditional shot-reverse-shot. I wanted [it to evoke] every classic holiday story, and then [to] abandon the old after the title sequence.”

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Baker described the influence of trap music in the pacing of the film, and the process of locating tracks from independent producers on the music site Sound Cloud.

After showing another clip, Kiser introduced a “show and tell” segment focusing on Baker’s custom iPhone rig. “I wanna see the camera!” he begged.

“You probably own one,” joked Baker, pulling out the iPhone, which was augmented during Tangerine’s shoot by an internal stabilizer and an anamorphic lens adapter.

During shooting, Baker would hold the camera on an additional stabilizing rig—think of a steadicam crossed with a selfie stick. “That’s pretty much it,” Baker admitted, almost apologetically.

“Did you have any lights at all?” asked Kiser, marveling at the quality of footage captured by this unassuming setup.

“Our co-DP [Radium Cheung] had a gaffing background,” said Baker. “[He] used whatever we had—white sheets and battery operated fills. There was minimal lighting, which is what I love anyway.”

In fact, the biggest technical expenditure on the film was capturing quality sound, a key production detail since, as Kiser noted, audiences are conditioned to tolerate a certain amount of visual degradation as an aesthetic choice—but not so with sound.

“We wanted the sound to be very clean and professional,” said Baker. “We never recorded with the [iPhone’s] onboard mics, except for one or two pickups,” though he admitted that when left with no other option, the iPhones audio was acceptable.

“I’ve actually had great success recording wild dialogue with an iPhone,” observed Kiser.

“The battery was the biggest issue, not storage,” said Baker of the 5s’s capabilities as a feature filmmaking tool. He explained that they originally planned to shoot with three iPhones, but only used two. “One was just too grainy,” he said.

The lights then dimmed for two additional clips from Baker’s filmography—the tragicomic confrontation in a porn producer’s office from Starlet, and the far less humorous inciting incident from Baker’s 2008 domestic drama Prince of Broadway.

Remarking on these clips as well as Tangerine, Kiser commented on Baker ability to sensitivity depict stories within outsider subcultures that they themselves do not belong to—be they trans sex workers, porn stars or New York street hustlers.

Baker and Bergoch explained that it all came down to telling “universal stories,” regardless of milieu. The filmmakers also stressed the importance of finding key collaborators whose authentic experiences can inform such stories. “Time spent, respect given, voices heard,” is how Baker summed up the process.

But whatever approach Baker and Bergoch have in place for creating such vibrant and unique films, it’s not just working—it’s making history. Just ask Taylor, who took home Best Supporting Female trophy at the February 27 Sprit Awards—the first major acting award ever won by a trans performer.


To catch up with the rest of this year’s Director’s Close-Up series, please click to read recaps here (The End of the Tour), here (Anomalisa), here (Writers panel) orhere (Directors panel).

Click here to view additional upcoming Film Independent events. To learn more about Film Independent, please visit our website or subscribe to our YouTube channel. Learn how to become a Member of Film Independent by clicking here.

Matt Warren / Film Independent Digital Content Manager

Hunter: Future Cop to have a National Release at Walmart Stores

HuntersBy Valerie Milano
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 11/20/15 – “Making Hunter was such a treat as I worked with a talented veteran cast such as Ron Becks, George Lazenby, Kristine DeBell and Laurene Landon who really helped to bring this retro 70s cop thriller to the silver screen,” said award-winning filmmaker Gregory Hatanaka.
Hunter: Future Cop, the edgy urban action thriller directed and produced by Hatanaka will be released at Walmart stores nationally on December 1st and it is also available on demand at Amazon, Google, iTunes and Cable. Acclaimed actor Becks is the writer-producer and star of Hunter where he plays the title role of Lt. Ramsey Hunter. Hunter’s life changes drastically when several jarring cases hit him simultaneously. In no time, our fearless hero has to contend with a rogue cop killer, a beautiful Southern runaway serial killer and his corrupt police captain boss blackmailing him. But only one of the cases leads him to an ending of universal truth. Mystical Cop. Deadly Force. Champion of People. Beck’s Hunter is all that and more in this moving thriller that will keep audiences on the edge of their seats. Hunter has a quick draw and a heart of gold in this epic film. The characters have great chemistry and there was some really well written dialogue in this compelling film.
Becks stars opposite budding executive producer and co-star Salih Mayi, Laurene Landon (Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance), DeBell (The Big Brawl), George Lazenby (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service), Marcella (Blue Dream), and Nicole D’Angelo (Darling Nikki).
“It’s always an honor to work with Gregory (Hatanaka). I’m very grateful to him for giving me my first villainous role,” said DeBell.
Landon echoed DeBell’s sentiments. “Gregory is indubitably the most innovative director I have ever been granted the serendipity to work for. He pushes the boundaries of the status quo,” she said. He gives his actors the creative license to bring the characters to life. I love playing deeply flawed characters and Gregory challenges you to make them not three – but four dimensional, with respect and compassion. I am in awe of this man. What an honor to play my first villainous role opposite George Lazenby, a consummate pro. And Ron Becks is superb as Hunter,” added Landon.
“Hunter is not your typical cop and robbers movie, because it’s more about our inner journeys in that at some point in our lives we are ruled by self doubt and self made demons, so it’s all about finding the hero in you,” said a philosophical Becks.
More info about Hunter at these links: