Monthly Archives: February 2013

Sushi Girl: Filmmakers Talk Tarantino & Making Riveting Revenge

Sushi Girl screenwriters, Kern Saxton (who also directed) and Destin Pfaff, sat down with Movie Fanatic for an exclusive interview and something powerful struck us. These two have a passion for movie making that is culled from years of being, well, movie fanatics. “We’re just both blindly in love with cinema,” Pfaff said.

Mark Hamill Sushi Girl

As teased in the Sushi Girl trailer, their first feature film features a group of gangsters meeting for a dinner where things might not go so well for one attendee. Fish has just got out of jail and after years of incarceration his former heist mates throw a special meal for him. Seems they want to know for sure if he sang like a canary on the inside and ratted them out.

Making up that group is a classic movie actor bevy of talent from screen icon Mark Hamill, Terminator’s Michael Biehn, Lawnmower Man Jeff Fahey and Mr. Machete (Danny Trejo). Sushi Girl is now available on DVD, Blu-Ray and digital download.

Movie Fanatic: Have to start by asking where on earth this wild idea for a movie came from?

Kern Saxton: Jack Daniels…

Destin Pfaff: What [laughs]?

Kern Saxton: I want a case of Jack Daniels sent to me, I figure if I say it enough, I’ll get one [they both laugh]. We were at a bar and we were talking about another script that we were working on that was too big for its britches. We were having trouble raising the money for it. So, Destin said, “Let’s do a one room movie.” I said, “That is a terrible idea.” But, we went with it and that’s where we came up with the idea to have a room full of gangsters and there’s a naked girl covered in sushi in the middle of it. I remember thinking how wonderful the idea of having such a vulnerable character was… and it mutated from there.

Movie Fanatic: How’d you two meet and what’s it like to write as a team, normally a solitary process?

Destin Pfaff: Back when I first came to LA years and years ago, Kern and I shared the same manager. The development assistant in the manager’s office was a friend of both of ours and we were at a bar — man, lots of bars in these stories — and I hated Kern when I met him.

Kern Saxton: Yeah, we hated each other.

Destin Pfaff: He’s so pompous and thinks he knows it all. [Laughs] Eventually we got to know each other and became best friends.We think a lot alike in a lot of areas, and we’re really different too. There’s a really good checks and balances system. Writing can be a solitary and lonely thing that if you have a partner that you feel comfortable with sharing ideas, and can call you on your (expletive) when you need it, it becomes a wonderful relationship. If I was only successful writing with Kern for the rest of my life, I’d be happy.

Kern Saxton: I like bouncing ideas off of people. I don’t like sitting in a room by myself. I don’t have all the answers. What’s great about Destin is we get together and spit ball and have a volley back and forth. We had a huge argument about Sushi Girl early on in the process about how to handle flashbacks. I think Destin didn’t want to have any flashbacks.

Destin Pfaff: You wanted to layer a bunch of them throughout the movie.

Kern Saxton: And we compromised. It was the sort of situation where we both saw each other’s side and eventually listened to reason. I always feel like when we work together we’re creating a horror movie with a broader audience than just horror. Sushi Girl is definitely not a horror movie, but it definitely has traces of horror in it that has enough to make the horror community fall in love with it. They have been the largest vocal supporter of this movie.

Movie Fanatic: What films influenced you guys in general and for Sushi Girl?

Kern Saxton: Destin has his references and I have my references. Sometimes they match up and sometimes they don’t. We both love 1970s exploitation movies and serious ones. For me, Point Blank was a big reference point for this movie.

Destin Pfaff: For me, I was raised on 1970s films as well as the 1980s movies. And the Italian American crime thrillers, zombie films… and all that were impactful for me. Kern likes to bring up Branded to Kill. These ideas that we have just become part of my life — much like other writers, directors and producers out there. That’s where Sushi Girl came from. Oh, then there’s the elephant in the room… Reservoir Dogs. The same way Tarantino was influenced by these movies, Tarantino has also become an influence on us. This is going to go on for filmmakers for the rest of eternity.

Sushi Girl Movie Poster

Kern Saxton: Like Destin said with Tarantino, it’s important to note that filmmakers are socialized to tell stories by the movies that they consumed when they were younger. We’re part of one of the first generations to be socialized by Tarantino. He’s been a mainstay as long as I can remember. Reservoir Dogs came out when I was like ten or eleven. That’s a movie that has always been seen as done right. But I’m also influenced by others like David Fincher and Paul Thomas Anderson, but also Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick.

Movie Fanatic: Well, you can see it in Sushi Girl.

Kern Saxton: Yes, that does come through in Sushi Girl! It’s kind of a big melting pot of all the stuff that goes in and gets processed and comes out a different way.

Movie Fanatic: How did your expectations filming a feature versus a short film differ from what you experienced?

Destin Pfaff: We had goals in mind. When we first started writing this movie, the main goal was we wanted to tell a smart story on a low budget. We wanted to do it to convince people that we could make movies and give us more money to make more movies. For us, the real action is making stuff. We’re all about telling stories. We just want to make more.

Kern Saxton: That’s the big difference between a short film and a feature. There’s a lot more that comes with it: Responsibility and expectation. But you have to also be mindful that you want to make something to sell. You’re making art, but you have to sell it to make more. For us, we grew up watching movies that we were fanatic about — we wanted to give another one of those to the world. 

Oz the Great and Powerful Drops Final Trailer: How Hard Could it Be to Kill a Wicked Witch?

Just over a week before it finally hits theaters, Oz the Great and Powerful has revealed its final trailer. Take a look:

The film follows the ascendance of a circus magician named Oscar Diggs to the title of Wizard of Oz. When Diggs is magically transported to the land of Oz, he is mistaken for the fabled Wizard and helps the inhabitants fight an epic battle.

Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Rachel Weisz, Zach Braff, Joey King, Abigail Spencer, and Bruce Campbell (who collaborated with director Sam Raimi on the Evil Dead movies) also star.

The film premieres March 8. Check out our Oz the Great and Powerful stills for more.

Stoker Review: One Fierce Family

Nicole Kidman teases her searing nature in the Stoker trailer and she is just one of many reasons to race to the theater to see this intense boiler of a drama. It is gorgeous. Korean director Chan-wook Park barely speaks a word of English, yet has managed to convey his vision to not only his crew, but his actors who all rise to an uncanny level to meet Park’s hallowed cinematic ground.

Stoker Star Nicole Kidman and Mia Wasikowska

Kidman is Evelyn, a matriarch to the Stoker family and as the film begins, we meet them on the darkest of days. Mia Wasikowska is her daughter India and the two of them are dressed in black. They have just lost a husband and father in a tragic accident. Matthew Goode (Watchmen) is the deceased’s brother, Charles Stoker, who has arrived to console and proceeds to do anything but that over the course of the film.

Each Stoker woman is drawn to Charles for different reasons. Couple that with the fact they are both grappling with grief and handling it in the most unusual and extreme of ways. The Stoker family has wealth and privilege, but Stoker is not simply a tale of the idle rich and their dangerous passions.

Wasikowska is a force of nature. She has been that way since we first became aware of her on In Treatment. She can be both Alice in Wonderland and the darkest of conflicted characters, such as Jane Eyre. And now in Stoker… the Brit is something truly special and to watch her weave her web in her latest is the highest of brilliance.

Mia Wasikowska Nicole Kidman Matthew Goode Stoker

And Kidman has a role with Evie that is so in her wheelhouse that there is a seismic emotional response to what she does onscreen from the audience. She is fresh off her stellar 2012 turns in The Paperboy and HBO’s Hemingway and Gellhorn. Her character’s maternal instincts are buried beneath layers of emotional turmoil that are also astounding in how it reflects off of Wasikowska. There are acting clinics and there is what is put on by the cast of Stoker.

Then, there’s Goode. Not to paraphrase his name, but he is so good. There is an irrelevant viciousness to his performance as the man who seeks to be the family’s new patriarch.The way he slithers into every scene and slyly makes his mark is pitch perfect. His chemistry with Wasikowska and Kidman is unique with each, leading audiences to not quite figure out his true motives until we’re deep into the story.

Stoker is an explosive mix of a group of actors who capture lightning in a bottle simultaneously. Just look at them in this Stoker poster and you can feel to your bones the tension in this familial trio.

James Bond vs. Star Trek: Tournament of Movie Fanatic Franchises Bracket

The final matchup of Round 2 in our Franchises Bracket is here! The polls are still open for our previous three matchups, Back to the Future vs. Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters vs. Batman, and Star Wars vs. Lord of the Rings, so be sure to vote!

Today we turn our attentions to perhaps the most famous character in all of film, James Bond, as he battles a sci-fi titan in Star Trek. Vote for your favorite franchise, then scroll down to read about each film, and check back soon to see who made the semi-finals! Happy voting!

And the
Winner
is?

It’s the final matchup of Round 2 in our Franchises Bracket! And this fight includes one of the most populated movie franchises in history. James Bond takes on Star Trek to see who will move on to the semi-finals. Vote for your favorite franchise!
View Poll »

James Bond Franchise:

Throughout the franchise, James Bond is used to decimating his enemies. So too did the film series in its first round matchup against the Blood and Ice Cream trilogy. Not satisfied with winning only round one, 007 is set for battle in round two. And with 50 years of history behind him, one can forgive the man with a license to kill for being a little confident.

The brainchild of Ian Fleming has endured an ever changing geopolitical landscape to remain relevant… a rarity in film and pop culture in general.

With Skyfall, his most recent adventure, serving as the most profitable, it appears as if James Bond is just getting going. After 23 movies, James Bond is the model for how to do a franchise correctly on many levels.

For more on 007, check out our James Bond quotes.

Star Trek Franchise:

When you think of sci-fi, you think of Star Trek. And while the series is historically considered a TV property first and foremost, its rich history of films, and resurgence with the new J.J. Abrams series makes it a viable pick for best movie franchise ever.

Trek, seeded seventh, barely eked out an upset over two-seed Harry Potter in round one, winning 51% of the vote. But 51% is enough, and this is a new battle.

With a complex and highly entertaining universe that spans space and time, Trek has created a nearly-boundless amount of detail for fans to explore. It’s no wonder Trek is famous for its loyal following. Check out our Star Trek quotes page for more, and get ready for Star Trek Into Darkness May 17.

Franchises Bracket Round 2

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Drops a Batch of New Stills

Check out a giant batch of new stills from The Incredible Burt Wonderstone:

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Steve Buscemi Steve Carell Jim Carrey
  • The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Steve Buscemi Olivia Wilde Steve Carell
  • The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Steve Buscemi Steve Carell and Olivia Wilde
  • The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Steve Buscemi Steve Carell Olivia Wilde
  • The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Steve Buscemi Steve Carell
  • The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Steve Carell Olivia Wilde
  • The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Steve Carell James Gandolfini
  • The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Steve Carell Alan Arkin
  • The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Steve Carell Still
  • The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Steve Carell
  • The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Steve Buscemi
  • The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Jim Carrey
  • The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Olivia Wilde
  • The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Jim Carrrey
  • The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Alan Arkin

Steve Carell (Anchorman) stars as Burt Wonderstone, a magician whose partner, played by Steve Buscemi (Hotel Transylvania), abandoned the act after an on-stage accident. Now, he needs to put the old team together to compete against a flashy street magician played by Jim Carrey.

Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin, and James Gandolfini also star.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone premieres March 15. Check out The Incredible Burt Wonderstone trailer for another look.