Lizzie Borden (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Lizzie Borden Took An Ax, starring Christina Ricci in the titular role, hits DVD and Digital April 8 via Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The picture, directed by The Sopranos and Laws of Gravity filmmaker Nick Gomez, also stars Clea DuVall as Borden’s sister and Billy Campbell (TV’s Helix) as the accused murderer’s lawyer.

The film, which runs 88 minutes, is based on Borden’s mysterious life, as she was accused and then acquitted of murdering her dad and stepmom with an ax. Stephen Kay, whose film directing credits include a remake of Get Carter starring Sylvester Stallone, and the Beat Generation drama The Last Time I Committed Suicide, penned the script for Lizzie Borden Took An Ax.

For its January 25 premiere on Lifetime, Lizzie Borden Took An Ax took in 4.4 million viewers.



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posted by Greg Srisavasdi


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Enemies Closer (LionsGate)

If you’ve seen JCVD or such underrated actions flicks as Sudden Death and , you know that Jean-Claude Van Damme doesn’t mind hamming it up. He gets to chew his share of scenery (and I mean that in a good way) in director Peter Hyams’ rousing action flick Enemies Closer.

Van Damme, who previous worked with Hyams on Sudden Death and Timecop, is the villain this time out, a passionate vegan named Xander who, although he’ll kill without a moment’s hesitation, doesn’t want to leave too big of a carbon footprint.

Tom Everett Scott, who most fans remember from That Thing You Do but also had a memorable run on TV’s Southland, is Henry, a former Navy SEAL who’s now a hermetic forest ranger. His quiet life takes a turn when a stranger (Orlando Jones, who worked with Hyams in Beyond A Reasonable Doubt) shows up on Henry’s door looking for a bit of vengeance.

Their showdown takes a momentary pause, as they must reluctantly band together to defeat Xander and his crew. Since Henry’s an expert diver, Xander needs the ranger alive to grab 50 pounds of heroin that’s resting at the bottom of a lake.

Hyams, whose versatile filmmaking career includes such high points as Outland, Capricorn One, and the taut thriller Narrow Margin, doesn’t have a ton of money to work with in Enemies Closer, but thanks to his natural proclivities as a photographer (he’s the cinematographer in most of his films), Hyams brings a solid, visual dynamism to this action flick. Although the feature is set amidst the wilderness, the filmmaker shoots much of his action in confined spaces, making ample use of Van Damme’s martial arts skills. A violent encounter between Henry and the stranger, which occurs in the confines of the ranger’s cabin, is also shot in an arresting, visceral fashion.

I really enjoyed Enemies Closer, and at 85 minutes the story checks in as an engaging, bare knuckled feature. Van Damme also gets his share of funny one-liners as he ups the body count, and if that’s your cup of tea, then you shouldn’t be disappointed with this guilty pleasure.

Enemies Closer is now playing nationwide and is available On Demand. To check out my interview with director Peter Hyams, check out Deepest Dream.

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posted by Greg Srisavasdi


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ROBOCOP (Columbia Pictures) Joel Kinnaman, best known for his acclaimed run on the TV series The Killing, had the daunting task of wearing a technology driven suit for the lead role in RoboCop (he plays the human/half robot Alex Murphy in the film).

“The suit became one of the first seeds that led my imagination into the vulnerability of what Alex Murphy felt when he became RoboCop,” said Kinnaman. “It was an interesting contrast because he’s got this body that is so powerful but he feels very uncomfortable. He’s amputated from the throat down and he doesn’t know who he is anymore. So my little level of discomfort sort of led me to think of what Alex would have felt times a thousand. So I was surprised to think that this suit that should make me feel so powerful actually made me feel so vulnerable.”

Click on the media bar to hear Kinnaman talk about wearing the suit:



RoboCop, which also stars Gary Oldman and Michael Keaton, opens February 12.


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posted by Greg Srisavasdi


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Rake (FOX)

Greg Kinnear (As Good As It Gets, The Matador) is back on television with Rake, a series based on the successful Australian comedy that was created by Peter Duncan. For the American version, Duncan is collaborating with Rescue Me co-creator Peter Tolan, and the series premieres tonight on FOX (9 pm et/pt).

Kinnear stars as Keegan “Key” Deane, a defense attorney who is way too opportunistic for his own good. Give the guy an inch, and he’ll probably stretch it a mile, as witnessed by his attempt to get free sessions with his ex-wife/therapist (Miranda Otto). One of his most reliable companions is Mikki (Bojana Novakovic), an escort who charges $500 an hour. And just like most womanizing case studies, Keegan also has a gambling and drinking problem.

Ambiguous characters who straddle the lines of morality, when written with an inspired pen (The Sopranos, Breaking Bad) can lead to excellent television, and we’ll see if Kinnear and crew can pull it off.

To hear Kinnear elaborate about the frailties of Keegan “Key” Deane, click on the media bar below:

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posted by Greg Srisavasdi


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Monuments Men (Columbia Pictures)

Opening February 7, The Monuments Men, centers on a motley crew of artists, curators, and art historians who risked their lives to rescue valuable pieces of art that was confiscated by the Nazis. Directed by and starring George Clooney, the picture, according to Clooney, is inspired by the character driven and viscerally thrilling works of filmmaker John Sturges (The Great Escape, Bad Day at Black Rock) as well as the 1970 adventure Kelly’s Heroes).

Bill Murray (Hyde Park on Hudson) had a wonderful time during the production, which also stars Cate Blanchett and Matt Damon.

“I’ve never been so well taken care of on a job, so protected, and covered,” said Murray. “All of us as actors, everyone had great scenes to do, everyone had a chance to have a turn, to do a wonderful piece of work…we got to see a wonderful story unfold.”

To hear Bill Murray talk about working on The Monuments Men, click on the media bar below:

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posted by Greg Srisavasdi


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Gimme Shelter (Roadside Attractions)

Thanks to such films as Spring Breakers and The Frozen Ground, Vanessa Hudgens has proven that she is willing to create characters that aren’t just shaped from a two dimensional, popcorn driven film.

Gimme Shelter continues with that creative aesthetic, as Hudgens plays Apple, a teenage runaway who finds comfort and a sense of direction during her stay at a shelter that nurtures and aids pregnant women. All of the actors, which included Rosario Dawson as her drug addicted mom and Brendan Fraser as her absentee dad, do excellent work in the film, but it’s Hudgens’ inspired and gripping turn as the frustrated youth which completely anchors the project.

The movie, written and directed by Ronald Krauss is inspired by Several Sources Shelter leader Kathy DiFiore. Apple was created from a composite of real life women, which includes Gimme Shelter co-star Darlisha Dozier.

In the clip below, Vanessa Hudgens talks about her friendship with Darlisha Dozier:


Gimme Shelter opens January 24.

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posted by Greg Srisavasdi


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The Following (CR: David Giesbrecht/FOX)After last season’s literally explosive finale to The Following, there were serious question marks on how the show could top the  unrelenting doom that pervaded through all the episodes. Last night’s preview episode of season two also had the onus of “following” the terrific (and eventually bitter) matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks, so any kind of letdown was, in hindsight, understandable.

But The Following didn’t disappoint, as it played with viewers’ emotions once again with the continued misery that engulfs Ryan Hardy’s (Kevin Bacon) life.

The breakout star this year will be Sam Underwood (Dexter), whose creepy work as identical twins Luke and Mark should give Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) a run for his money. Still, no matter which new villain Mr. Hardy faces, his tragic and obsessive bond with Carroll continues.

The Following (FOX, David Giesbrecht)“One of the interesting things about this second season is that seemingly I have lost my obsession for Joe,” said Bacon. “I have stepped into a different place in my life and he is no longer burning inside my heart in the way that he was in season one. But, like everything on The Following, things are not always what they seem. Just like the attack on the subways involved masks, I think you kind of find out in season two that a lot of us have masks that we’re living. Truth is, (Joe Carroll) is incredibly important to me, sadly (he’s) the most important thing in my life.”

To hear Sam Underwood discuss the appeal of psychopaths, click on the media bar below:

The Following airs Monday nights (9 pm et/pt) on Fox.

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posted by Greg Srisavasdi


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12 Years A Slave (Fox Searchlight)

Alfonso Cuaron’s 91-minute masterwork Gravity topped last night’s Critics’ Choice Movie Awards with seven wins, with American Hustle coming in second with four awards.

The big winner, at least from the worn out Starbucks stool I’m currently sitting on, is 12 Years a Slave, as it was named Best Picture. In an honor which is hopefully replicated at the Oscars, Lupita Nyong’o took home the Best Supporting Actress Award for the Steve McQueen directed drama. “12 Years a Slave has been one of the more profound experiences of my life,” Nyong’o said during the acceptance speech. “And I could not be here had it not been for Solomon Northup and his love and passion for freedom.” Her CCMA speech is featured in the video at the end of the post.

Here’s a list of last night’s winners:

Best Picture - “12 Years a Slave”

Best Actor - Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Best Actress - Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”

Best Supporting Actor - Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Best Supporting Actress - Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”

Best Young Actor/Actress - Adele Exarchopoulos, “Blue Is The Warmest Color”

Best Acting Ensemble - “American Hustle”

Best Director - Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity”

Best Original Screenplay - Spike Jonze, “Her”

Best Adapted Screenplay - John Ridley, “12 Years a Slave”

Best Cinematography - Emmanuel Lubezki, “Gravity”

Best Art Direction - Catherine Martin (Production Designer), Beverley Dunn (Set Decorator), “The Great Gatsby”

Best Editing - Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger, “Gravity”

Best Costume Design - Catherine Martin, “The Great Gatsby”

Best Hair & Makeup - “American Hustle”

Best Visual Effects - “Gravity”

Best Animated Feature - “Frozen”

Best Action Movie - “Lone Survivor”

Best Actor in an Action Movie - Mark Wahlberg, “Lone Survivor”

Best Actress in an Action Movie - Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”

Best Comedy - “American Hustle”

Best Actor in a Comedy - Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Best Actress in a Comedy - Amy Adams, “American Hustle”

Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie - “Gravity”

Best Foreign Language Film - “Blue Is the Warmest Color”

Best Documentary Feature - “20 Feet From Stardom”

Best Song - “Let It Go” Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, “Frozen”

Best Score - Steven Price, “Gravity”

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posted by Greg Srisavasdi


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Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (Paramount Pictures)

After devoting the past couple of years to raising his family, Kevin Costner returned to the fray with the successful 2012 miniseries Hatfield & McCoys. In 2013, he played the caped crusader’s father in Man of Steel, and he continues that mentorship role with the new feature Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.

In a diverse career filled with highs and lows, Mr. Costner has weathered the proverbial storm, and during a recent interview he was asked about the secret to his career longevity.

“Longevity for me is not a check, it’s a love,” said Costner. “I love making movies. I love living my life outside the lines of Hollywood, so when I come to work, I like to work.”

To hear Costner talk about his career and his transition from SUVs to minivans, click on the media bar below:


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posted by Greg Srisavasdi


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American Idol (CR: Mattias Vriens-McGrath/FOX)

Jennifer Lopez was initially set to judge just a year of American Idol, but her first stint on the show lasted two seasons. After her hiatus from last season, the show underwent its share of turmoil, mainly due to the friction between Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj.

With Harry Connick Jr. and returnee Keith Urban rounding out the judges, American Idol’s chemistry should be an entirely different animal - and for all intents and purposes, that’s a good thing.”

“I sit between two people who I respect and have a good time with,” said Lopez at Monday’s FOX’s Television Critics Association day. “We all love music. That’s what is going to make it sparkly and fresh and new again.”

Click on the media bar to hear Jennifer Lopez talk about her hectic schedule in 2013 and making the time for the latest season of American Idol.





To hear Harry Connick Jr. talk about the importance of music education (he also gives his definition of artistic “passion”), click here.

American Idol premieres Wednesday on FOX (8 pm et/pt).

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posted by Greg Srisavasdi


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