Director Elise Dean Brings A Dose Of Laughter And Improvisation With ‘Can You Keep A Secret?’

Can You Keep A Secret? marks the feature directing debut of Elise Dean, a filmmaker who has also carved out a career as a producer (Real Estate Wars, Below Deck) and as a documentarian (Being Chaz).

The film, based on Sophie Kinsella’s novel, centers on the relationship between Emma (Alexandra Daddario) and her boss Jack (Tyler Hoechlin), a union which started off during a fateful meeting on a plane (Emma had no idea about Jack’s identity). Kimiko Glenn and Sunita Mani co-star as Emma’s supportive roommates, with Orange is the New Black’s Laverne Cox playing Jack’s second in command.

For Dean, bringing a healthy share of improvisation was an important element of crafting the narrative.

“The most important thing about the movie is it all comes from improv,” said Dean. “I love to laugh. I’m a huge fan of comedy. When I cast the movie, I wanted to bring their own sense of humor to the role. I wanted their true personalities to come out.”

Click on the media bar to hear Dean talk about collaborating with Alexandra Daddario and Tyler Hoechlin on the project:

Can You Keep A Secret? is now out in theaters and is available On Demand.

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi

Lexy Kolker Relished “Safe Environment” Of Immersive ‘Freaks’ Experience

Freaks is a first rate sci-fi thriller about a Chloe (Lexy Kolker), a 7-year-old whose father (Emile Hirsch) may be too paranoid for his own good. When an ice cream truck driver appropriately named Mr. Snowcone (Bruce Dern) enters Chloe’s existence, she begins to wonder what is beyond her secluded home.

The picture, which co-stars Amanda Crew and Grace Park, is a low budget affair directed and penned by Zach Lipovsky and Adam Stein. That being said, their ingenuity and storytelling screencraft, coupled with an engaged ensemble, makes Freaks a memorable affair.

Amidst an all-star cast, it’s Lexy Kolker who is the absolute standout.  During my interview with Kolker she talked about the “safe environment” that helped enhanced her inspired performance in Freaks.

Freaks hits theaters September 13.

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi

Tom Hanks Spotlights “Honesty” Of Mister Rogers In ‘A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood’

Great news is coming from the Toronto Film Festival as A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood is garnering excellent reviews. Tom Hanks plays Mister Rogers in the Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Can You Ever Forgive Me?) directed feature, and Hanks might be slated for another Oscar nomination.

“He just wanted to make little kids feel safe, even if they didn’t have all the answers or couldn’t understand all the answers,” said Hanks.

Click on the media bar to hear Hanks talk about the under appreciated honesty of Fred Rogers:

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood, co-starring Matthew Rhys and Chris Cooper, opens nationwide November 22.

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi

‘It Chapter Two’ Stars Jessica Chastain And Bill Hader Talk Love For Stephen King

It was a huge box office hit when it was released two years ago. Based on the bestselling Stephen King novel, the $35 million budgeted feature grossed over $700 million worldwide. It: Chapter Two is a continuation of the King story, as the members of The Losers Club are all grown up.

“I think (Pet Semetary) was one of the first books I read that wasn’t assigned to me,” said Jessica Chastain who plays Beverly Marsh. “And then I went from there to The Shining and to Misery. I loved that her name was Misery Chastain – I was like, yes! So yeah, I was a Stephen King fan.”

Click on the media bar to hear Bill Hader, who plays Richie Tozier, discuss the first Stephen King book he ever read (Salem’s Lot):

It Chapter Two opens nationwide September 6.

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi

Filmmaker Gavin Hood Brings Acting To The Forefront With ‘Official Secrets’

Official Secrets centers on British whistleblower Katharine Gun’s (Keira Knightley) decision to leak an NSA memo requesting agents collect juicy information on United Nations Security Council members in an attempt to generate support for an Iraq war. As a member of Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Gun placed herself and husband (Adam Bakri) in jeopardy by what many deemed as a traitorous action. Others, however, praised Gun for shedding light on this clandestine blackmail operation.

Filmmaker and co-writer Gavin Hood has delved into the costs of war engagement, on both a macro and personal scale, in his features X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Ender’s Game, and Eye in the Sky. With Official Secrets, Hood delved into the worlds of Gun, journalist Martin Bright (Matt Smith), and lawyer Ben Emmerson (Ralph Fiennes).

“In this case, I really was just trying to write for the people I was interviewing whom I’d met,” said Hood, who spent three years working on Official Secrets. “And then at some point, when they were all happy with it was ‘Okay, well who are we going to get to play (these roles)?’ I did always have Ralph Fiennes in mind as Ben Emmerson because, first of all he looks quite a lot like Ben Emmerson but there are so few actors with that kind of intelligent presence that is also magnetic.”

Unlike some of his previous efforts, Hood did not have special effects and a big budget to layer his storyline, and in the audio below he discusses how every single nuanced performance in Official Secrets was vital:

Official Secrets is now playing in theaters.

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi

Will Smith Praises Unique ‘Aladdin’ Experience: “Disney Magic Is Real”

Disney’s Aladdin hits Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD and DVD on September 10, and the hit live action film boasted Mena Massoud as the titular character, Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine and Will Smith as the iconic Genie.

For Smith, entering the Aladdin universe was a unique experience. “Disney magic is real,” said Smith. “This is my first Disney movie and there is something that Walt Disney did in the design of these stories that at the core of these stories is something that shocks the inner child within you and forces it to come alive and smile and appreciate the moment.”

Click on the media bar to hear Will Smith elaborate on Aladdin being the most “joyful experience” of his career:

Special features on the Blu-ray and Digital release include six deleted scenes, bloopers, the deleted song “Desert Moon,” several featurettes (“Guy Ritchie: A Cinematic Genie,” “A Friend Like Genie”), a video journal captured by Mena Massoud, and three music videos.

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi