Blu-Ray Pick: ‘The Shallows’ Is A Shark Tale With Bite

The Shallows

Recently released on Blu-ray, The Shallows features Blake Lively (The Age of Adaline, TV’s Gossip Girl) as Nancy, a surfer who ventures to a remote island for a bit of adventure. The area has its share of sentiment for Nancy, as it was the private beach that held a special place in her late mother’s heart.

Unfortunately, Nancy’s desire to ride the waves leads to her being stranded in the ocean while a great white shark continues to circle his latest prey.

The Shallows is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, a filmmaker who’s directed several Liam Neeson films (Unknown, Non-Stop, and the underrated Run All Night). While tackling various genres (i.e. the horror-thriller Orphan) is part of Collet-Serra’s skill set, shooting in the the unpredictable waters made The Shallows his most challenging production to date.

Like all of the filmmaker’s previous work, The Shallows is popcorn entertainment that delivers the goods, and thanks to a believable performance from Lively, this movie is far from (excuse the horrible pun) “shallow.”

Special features on the Blu-ray disc include four minutes worth of deleted scenes (one humorous scene has Blake Lively making bird noises) and the featurettes “How to Build a Shark,” “Shooting in the Shallows,” “Finding the Perfect Beach: Lord Howe Island,” and “When Sharks Attack.”

I also discuss The Shallows on this week’s episode of CinemAddicts. Click on the media bar below to hear my Blu-ray review on the podcast, which also features discussions of the  films Long Way North, Danny Says, Clowntown, and American Honey.

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi

Composer Megan Cavallari Walks “The Line” With Diverse Career


Carving out a successful career in the entertainment industry is a seemingly impossible t ask, but composer/musician Megan Cavallari has managed to, with a ton of determination and skill, achieve her goals. Cavallari is currently writing songs for the feature musical Jacob Marley and she scored and penned the title song for Hernan Baragan’s film Cancer Rebellion.

One could surmise that growing up in Philadelphia, where she learned to love hockey, is one reason for her success and continued perseverance in a fickle industry. Working with such composers as Danny Elfman (for eight movies), Jerry Goldsmith, and Edward Shearmur also has put her in good stead.

During our conversation, Cavallari talked about how her connection to hockey helped her become a driven yet open collaborator. “In hockey, you have to have your line,” said Cavallari, whose early love of music was immediately heightened after listening to Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. “Your line is the thing that keeps you going . . . My line in composition are my directors, producers, showrunners, assistants, orchestrators, mixers, copyists, (and) my intern. Everybody is working just so hard for me and these are just amazing people . . . We have to make it work. Whether it’s a song or a score, it has to be amazing.”

Click on the media bar below to hear Megan Cavallari explain why, even in the midst of a huge workload, she is grateful to be a working composer. (She also mentions Elfman, Goldsmith, and Shearmur in the clip).

For more info on Megan Cavallari’s music, check out her official site and take a listen to her score for Cancer Rebellion below:

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi

‘CinemAddicts’ Review ‘Long Way North’ And ‘American Honey’


On this week’s CinemAddicts podcast we cover four movies, two of which (Long Way North, American Honey) are bound to make my 2016 Top 10 list. The horror thriller Clowntown and the music documentary Danny Says are also covered on the show.

Set in 1892 Russia, Long Way North centers on Sacha, a brave girl who sets out to find her missing grandfather, an explorer who embarked on an ambitious expedition to the North Pole. Directed by animator Remi Chaye, the movie is a visually stunning film. Chaye has a superb command of light and shadow with his work, and his subtle approach to storytelling packs an emotional punch throughout the narrative.

Directed by Andrea Arnold, American Honey is a road trip drama about Star (Sasha Lane), a teenager who runs away from home to join a crew of young people (led by Shia LaBeouf) who sell magazine subscriptions throughout America. Clocking in at 158 minutes, American Honey’s sprawling storyline may deter some viewers, but I was completely seduced by the performances and Arnold’s creative ambitions.

My Blu-ray pick of the week is the Blake Lively thriller The Shallows, and Anderson Cowan reviews the Netflix film Audrie & Daisy.

Click on the media bar below to hear our review of the aforementioned films, as well as Clowntown and Danny Says.

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi

‘Generation Startup’ Takes Unflinching Look At Entrepreneurship


Generation Startup focuses on several young entrepreneurs as they attempt to achieve their dreams in Detroit. Though the project is ultimately an inspiring one, the film doesn’t sugarcoat the struggles that each of these individuals face. One prime example is its look at Avery Hairston’s decision to join Banza Pasta in 2014, and the film doesn’t shy away from documenting Banza’s painstaking (but ultimately rewarding) path to making the perfect chickpea pasta for consumers.

Filmed over 17 months and directed by Cheryl Miller Houser and Cynthia Wade, Generation Startup is a labor of love on both sides of the camera. For example, Houser launched the documentary six months after starting her own business.

“I was so incredibly inspired buy these young people who were already outside their comfort zone just by virtue from graduating from college,” says Houser. “It’s the first time in their lives when they didn’t have this prescribed path. All of us, when we come out of college, it’s a scary time. So they were accentuating that not taking a conventional or secure path.I was really inspired by that and what Venture for America was doing.”

Kate Catlin, who was part of the Venture for America class in 2013, worked in Detroit and in the startup Grand Circus. While she delved deeper into the world of coding, Catlin also started her Women Rising, a non-profit, mentorship program which connects women in the tech and business world.

Click on the media bar to hear Kate Catlin talk about her participation with Venture for America, an experience which helped her streamline her own startup passions:

Generation Startup opens Friday at the Laemmle Monica Film Center in Los Angeles and October 7 in Detroit. For more information, please go to the film’s official site.

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi

Barnet Bain Explores “Veils” of Bullying Behind ‘Milton’s Secret’


Based on the book by Eckhart Tolle and Robert Friedman, Milton’s Secret centers on Milton Adams (William Ainscough), a 12-year-old who, even when faced with a heap of adversity, perseveres through his struggles. Whether it’s having loving but preoccupied parents (Mia Kirshner, David Sutcliffe) who are constantly stressed or facing down the threats of a bully (Percy Hynes-White), Milton understandably feels overwhelmed.

The average coming of age story will have our protagonist seek some form of retribution, and by the tale’s end we may cheer for the antagonist’s comeuppance. Milton’s Secret refreshingly traverses an entire different direction, as Milton’s compassionate nature is nurtured by his caring grandfather (Donald Sutherland).

“I am very interested in peeling back some of the veils around bullying long before bullying explodes in a way we’re used to seeing it,” says Barnet Bain, whose previous credits include producing What Dreams May Come and penning the book The Book of Doing and Being. “It begins somewhere else and I wanted to make a movie that explored the beginnings of bullying.”

One aspect behind bullying originates not from external forces, but rather from one’s internal struggles with what Bain describes as “self-talk.” Click on the media bar to hear Barnet Bain discuss how this type of bullying is explored in Milton’s Secret.

Milton’s Secret, opens in select theaters Friday, September 30 and is also available on VOD.

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi