Rude, crude, extremely silly and violent the movie CHIPS has all of this and more. But, what you would expect from this parody of a TV series that won the hearts of millions in the mid 1970’s to early 80’s? A lot more than a lame remake. Billed as a crime drama, it’s more of a comedy with messy direction and over the top ridiculousness. I can go one step further; “CHIPS” was never a campy offensive show that relied on sex gags and stupidity to get laughs. That said, only go see it if you crave movies like Hot Tub Time Machine, Get Him to the Greek or Sex Drive to name a few. Read more
One of the strangest biographies ever to be made into a film, I, Olga (Já, Olga Hepnarová) tells the true tale of revenge. Nicely paced and presented, the movie plays out like a diary told from Olga’s letters and notes. Sometimes humans are calling for help and no one is listening. This is a story of one of those times. Not to be missed, it powerfully poignant.
Turning a simple plot into a dramatic thunderstorm, Director Hunter Adams makes his supernatural thriller Dig Two Graves wicked, suspenseful and compelling. Having very few film credits under his belt doesn’t show with this professional production that targets the adult teens to twenties. What makes it different from other films of the genre is the storytelling using seamless weaving of the past into present. If you are a fan of the preternatural and occult than this film should be on your list for the weekend. Read more
Can Beauty tame the Beast once more? This beautiful fairy tale of Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast has now been turned into a live action motion picture that delivers a more detailed story. What once was animation that provided the story of romance and power, with this release it’s the actors that have to reach out to the audience and make them believe. And they nail it! Much like the recent Walt Disney’s Cinderella (2015) and The Jungle Book (2016), I’m predicting Beauty and the Beast will be another worldwide blockbuster. Read more
Take a wild ride on Kong: Skull Island a slick new film about the ferocious Gorilla that never fails to amaze. However the campy story and the chaotic acting, one thing still remains, it’s the violent, creepy and mysterious creatures that will get you every time. What lies on the surface is terrifying enough, but what lies below, unstoppable. As for the real rollercoaster ride, read my comment below. Read more
Being able to deliver a good western isn’t easy, especially when most of the plots have already been brought to the screen. But, writer/director Martin Koolhoven takes a shot at turning the old west into a thriller that boggles the mind with its twists, turns and surprises and it works big time. His Brimstone stacks up against the best including Quinton Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant. Read more
Schmaltzy but fun to watch, the movie The Women’s Balcony personifies a women’s protest to regain their honor. It’s more than just a film about who’s right or wrong, the film shows how people can compromise and come together over an issue. Filled with energy and chutzpah no man would dare turn a blind eye on this fight for woman’s rights. Read more
Wide sweeping vistas and a romantic musical score add to The Ottoman Lieutenant’s compelling war drama. It’s a moving and defiant love story, one that reaches audiences far and wide with a chance for women to revel in its forbidden romance. If you like sagas that titillate your imagination sending you back to an era that’s almost forgotten, then this is your cup of tea. Read more
An apropos title for the film On the Map opens in several cities in Florida this weekend and it’s exciting, heartwarming and inspirational. Set in Israel following the Yom Kippur War, the documentary captures the serious issues of the people, the challenges before them and a team of basketball players that dig deep into their hearts for a chance to get their country recognized as nation in the eyes of the world. This is not an ordinary sports movie, but a historical tribute to the men who made it all happen some 40 years ago. Read more
Not the best comedy I’ve watched, the movie Table 19 unfortunately has a dull script that may have been a good idea, but just doesn’t work. The direction and the comedic scenes are not funny and the cast of well known actors are off kilter. Even the chemistry between the leads just isn’t there. It’s about a wedding reception gone wrong for a forlorn guest that just can’t come to grips with haven been rejected and that’s more drama than this comedy can handle. Read more
After the first 10 minutes getting to know the characters in the movie and finding how they were chosen to be together, Deserted moves into a long grueling predictable story much like the movie Gerry. But, after it got moving along to an unexpected event that sets the tone, the movie isn’t all that bad. If you like films that are more introspective than openly action oriented, than this one should be good for a girls wine and cheese gathering. Read more
One of the more incredible stories to serve as a romance, Bitter Harvest tells the tale of two lovers caught up in one of the world’s most evil genocides, the Russian Holodomor. Filmed in the Ukraine where it happened, the movie shows how Russia took over the country for their grain and starved its people to death during the mid-1920’s. Told from the perspective of two youngsters who grew up, married and were forced to separate under Soviet Russian control, the film becomes a heartfelt tribute to the terrible nightmare. Read more
Disturbing and provocative the movie Get Out turns up the volume on suspense and terror. One of the better scary films in a long time, the movie challenges you from the very start as to the motives of a family gathering with a “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” impression that turns sour. If you like fright films like The Visit the this is your cup of tea. Read more
First released in theaters over 33 years ago, TheNever-Ending Story still has a huge following. Directed by Wolfgang Peterson, the film catapulted its child star Tami Stronach to stardom and became a global hit, earning over $100 million worldwide. Today, Tami’s Paper Canoe Company produces ‘family friendly’ work similar to Never-Ending Story. In this one-on-one interview, Tami fondly recalls her role as the Child-like Empress in her breakout role, and she reveals the many new creative outlets she continues to explore as a talented entertainer.
How did you get the role of the Child Empress in Never Ending Story?
Tami Stronach: I was doing a lot of acting and dancing in local community theaters. I attended an acting school in San Francisco. We were doing various plays in different schools and Anna Gross, the casting agent for Never Ending Story, was in town looking for an actress for the role. Coincidentally, Anna just happened to be friends with my acting teacher at the time. She came into our acting class and asked me if I wanted to audition for the role in this new film. I treated it as any local school audition and had no idea I’d be participating in a major project of this scope.
It sounds like you were already busy doing lots of performance art.
Tami: I loved acting and dancing from very early on. I was always happy in that context. I kind of drowned myself in those activities.
The film has delighted millions of children and parents over the years. Do you still get feedback from your fans?
Tami: I do. I’ll be honest with you, for the longest time, I wasn’t really focusing on the letters and emails. I came to New York as a young person to pursue a career as a dancer. At that time, I didn’t feel that Never Ending Story was something that would give me a leg up in the field I was trying to enter. So I kind of distanced myself from it and focused more on live performance art and dancing. I read the letters back then, but I was a starving artist working 12-hour days, so I didn’t really have time to sit down and write people back. But recently with the birth of my daughter, everything shifted and I founded Paper Canoe Company to create family-oriented content. It brought me back to my roots of family entertainment, which is really what the Never Ending Story was.
Why do you think audiences around the world have responded and continue to respond to Never Ending Story?
Tami: I think it’s the theme of the story. It’s a fun movie and visually beautiful. It has so much whimsy. But beyond that, it’s also kind of a deep film with an urgent message. It shows that through imagination and trusting your heart, there’s the possibility of building better worlds. I think that reality can beat us into submission. We need to trust our imagination, to believe that something new can be created, something that opens a door to new vistas.
So you’re also doing a lot of dancing. What made you segue into that realm of creative expression?
Tami: After Never Ending Story became far more successful than we imagined, being a celebrity at that age was really overwhelming. I never wanted to walk away from performing. It’s in my DNA. But at the time, I didn’t want to choose celebrity as a lifestyle. For me, dance was a way of staying creative without the pitfalls of being a child celebrity. But now as an adult, I see that celebrity can be a wonderfully powerful way to build connections with people. So viewed through that lens, I really have a very different perspective.
So what inspired you to create the Paper Canoe Company? And what can you tell us about the dark comedy, Light?
Tami: With Paper Canoe, I’m putting all the things I’m passionate about under a single umbrella. I had this diverse life that included acting, dancing and singing—even doing a POP album when I was a little older. Now I want to create family content that connects with kids, families and people who loved Never Ending Story, so that parents will have something magical to enrich their kids’ childhood. Last year, we created two theater shows and an album. Among these were the dark comedy called Light, and the folk rock opera, Beanstalk Jack. The joy is that little kids are still at the age where reality and fantasy are still kind of blurred for them.
Can you tell us more about the folk rock opera, Beanstalk Jack?
Tami: It’s the third project created by Paper Canoe and we’ll be developing it into a full theater show. It’s a concert because it tells the story all through music. We’ll be adding some costumes and theatrical elements, so it becomes kind of a concert play. We wanted to take a story that’s so iconic and make it relevant to kids and families today. So we put a bit of spin on the original story. I use my daughter and her friends as sort of a mini focus group to test out if something works or not. Ultimately, I came up with the idea of having Jack defeat the Giant a different way. Our message is that being happy and doing what you love is the ultimate triumph over anything dark.
Will Beanstalk Jack ever be produced as a video for kids and parents to watch at home?
Tami: We’re developing these projects in a variety of ways. Beanstalk Jack is on sale right now on Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify and others, so you can by the CD. We also want to do some live streaming of upcoming concerts, which we’ll have on our website and available for download. I’m making some music videos for the shows, which will bring my dance background into it.
And what are your plans for Light?
Tami: We’re going to turn it into a graphic novel. I know it will come alive in that medium because the particular world we’ve created lends itself to pictures. We’re thinking about moving ourselves into TV and film, and I think Light would make a great film.
I understand you’re now a big Comic-con fan.
Tami: Attending Comic-con made me realize how really special Never Ending Story was, to have all these people who care so much about this film. So this year, I’m making a point of returning to Comic-con, hugging people, shaking their hands and enjoying this special connection with those who share my love for the film. I now make it a point to answer all my fan mail. I’m connecting with people on Twitter and other social media. It’s kind of a whole new chapter for me and I’m really enjoying it.
Will you be showcasing any of these projects at Comic-con?
Tami: I’ll do interviews. I’m a huge fan of Stranger Things. At the last Comic-con, I got to interview Millie Bobby Brown about being a young actress and we talked about my Paper Canoe projects. So at our booth, we’d like to have the graphic novel, Light and other Paper Canoe projects. I’ve started reading scripts again and I’m looking at coming back into TV. I’m also getting letters of support, urging me to do another movie. It’s not only surprising but humbling.
Visually amazing and thrilling, the movie The Great Wall certainly has the best effects and story thus far in 2017. Even though most of the film makes the use of a massive amount of CGI, that’s not a bad thing here as the production certainly warrants it. If you are a fan of high impact movies like World War Z, then this film should be on your list to see this weekend. Read more