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By Christopher Stipp

The Archives, Right Here

So, I was able to sit down for a couple of years and pump out a book. It’s got little to do with movies. Download and read “Thank You, Goodnight” right HERE for free.

And now, you can follow me on Twitter under the name: Stipp. Some weeks you get lucky with the kind of information that people are talking about. This week a debate about whether video games are art and the new trailer for MOON created some waves.

sop_field_300x250Quick announcement for those readers living in Phoenix (surprisingly, there are a lot of you out there) there is a screening of Kevin MacDonald’s (ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER, THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND) solidly casted film, STATE OF PLAY. The movie boasts the talents of Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren and Robin Wright Penn so at the very least it’ll be pretty to look at.

The sneak screening is this Tuesday night, April 14th at Tempe Marketplace. Those interested know the drill. E-mail me at Christopher_Stipp@Yahoo.com and I’ll make it happen.

The film’s synopsis:

Handsome, unflappable U.S. Congressman Stephen Collins is the future of his political party: an honorable appointee who serves as the chairman of a committee overseeing defense spending. All eyes are upon the rising star to be his party’s contender for the upcoming presidential race. Until his research assistant/mistress is brutally murdered and buried secrets come tumbling out.

D.C. reporter Cal McAffrey has the dubious fortune of both an old friendship with Collins and a ruthless editor, Cameron, who has assigned him to investigate. As he and partner Della try to uncover the killer’s identity, McCaffrey steps into a cover-up that threatens to shake the nation’s power structures. And in a town of spin-doctors and wealthy politicos, he will discover one truth: when billions are at stake, no one’s integrity, love or life is ever safe.

sin_nombre-posterfinAs well, I’ve got a screening for SIN NOMBRE this week for Arizona dwellers.

The film, which is just a phenomenal debut from filmmaker Cary Fukunaga, is testament to the brilliance of those who are just looking for a change to tell the stories they believe in.

SIN NOMBRE is playing this Thursday, April 16 at 7 pm at the Harkins Camelview in Scottsdale, Arizona. E-mail me to get on the list…

Sin Nombre is an epic dramatic thriller written and directed by Student Academy Award winner Cary Joji Fukunaga in his feature debut. The filmmaker’s firsthand experiences with Central American immigrants seeking the promise of the U.S. form the basis of the Spanish-language movie.

Sin Nombre tells the story of Sayra (Paulina Gaitan), a teenager living in Honduras, and hungering for a brighter future. A reunion with her long-estranged father gives Sayra her only real option – emigrating with her father and her uncle into Mexico and then the United States, where her father now has a new family.

Meanwhile, Casper, a.k.a. Willy (Edgar Flores), is a teenager living in Tapachula, Mexico, and facing an uncertain future. A member of the Mara Salvatrucha gang brotherhood, he has just brought to the Mara a new recruit, 12-year-old Smiley (Kristyan Ferrer), who undergoes a rough initiation.

While Smiley quickly takes to gang life, Casper tries to protect his relationship with girlfriend Martha Marlene (Diana García), keeping their love a secret from the Mara. But when Martha encounters Tapachula’s Mara leader Lil’ Mago (Tenoch Huerta Mejía), she is brutally taken from Casper forever.

Sayra and her relatives manage to cross over into Mexico. There, they join other immigrants waiting at the Tapachula train yards. When a States-bound freight train arrives one night, they successfully rush to board – riding atop it, rather than in the cars – as does Lil’ Mago, who has commandeered Casper and Smiley along to rob immigrants.

When day breaks, Lil’ Mago makes his move and Casper in turn makes a fateful decision. Casper must now navigate the psychological gauntlet of his violent existence and the physical one of the unforgiving Mara, but Sayra bravely allies herself with him as the train journeys through the Mexican countryside towards the hope of new lives.

I also have 2 DVD giveaways: THE MINDSCAPE OF ALAN MOORE and A GALAXY FAR FAR AWAY - 10TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL EDITION

alanAlan Moore writer, artist and performer is the world’s most critically acclaimed and widely admired creator of comic books and graphic novels. In The Mindscape of Alan Moore we see a portrait of the artist as contemporary shaman, someone with the power to transform consciousness by means of manipulating language, symbols and images. The film leads the audience through Moore’s world with the writer himself as guide, beginning with his childhood background, following the evolution of his career as he transformed the comics medium, through to his immersion in a magical worldview where science, spirituality and society are part of the same universe.

What I can tell you about watching this documentary is that is Alan Moore very much encapsulates independent thinking and raises it to an art form. Regardless of this stances on the metaphysical or the ephemeral Alan is able to distill some very complex thought patterns into cohesive narratives that at once entertain and mind bend.

The documentary frames this writer as the master of his own donat, his own language. He is no ordinary writer, to be sure, and this documentary wonderfully dovetails with the WATCHMEN film in that here is a film that at once explains the why’s and how’s and then goes on to wrap your brain around the mysticism of Alan’s thought patterns. There are some more than excellent interviews with those he’s collaborated with and this documentary will more than satiate anyone wanting to know more about the man who has, in popular media, only been known as the guy who didn’t want his name attached to the film adaptations of his work.

I have a few to give away and if you’re interested please stick the words “Alan Moore” in the subject line of an e-mail and shoot it over to me at Christopher_Stipp@Yahoo.com

star-warsFeaturing interviews with hundreds of fans, movie executives, and high profile celebrities, A GALAXY FAR FAR AWAY delves into the franchise that has made household names of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, R2-D2 and C3PO. As a new wave of Star Wars mania was being induced in ‘99, Jalal brought his cameras to Star Wars conventions, to boisterous nationwide premieres, into the homes of devoted fans showing off their treasures and collectibles and captured those who spent 42 days on line, just to be first to see The Phantom Menace.

Interviews and archival footage featured includes Samuel L. Jackson, Joe Pesci, genre filmmaker Roger Corman, Meat Loaf, Dennis Franz, Andy Garcia, Jimmy Kimmel and Star Wars alumnus David Proust (Darth Vader), Kenny Baker (R2-D2), Anthony Daniels (C3-PO) and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca). Offering a complete, often hilarious, exploration of George Lucas’ crowning achievement that brings together a group of fascinating, passionate, hysterical — and often touching – fans, A GALAXY FAR FAR AWAY is not just a film about overzealous fanboys.

Instead, it plumbs the depths of a common, shared love that knows no boundaries and seeks answers to a stunning phenomenon that continues to live on like Yoda.

I love documentaries like this. There is something about the examination of any subculture where I’ve had a passing interest. To wit, TREKKIES has set the bar for me in regards of simplicity and its lo-fi sheen. In the middle of this average documentary I not only came to understand why some will dress up and descend on conventions simply to indulge their passion as fans of this science fiction program. The interviews always draw me in, I cannot start this film without going all the way through and I suspect the same will happen for this documentary. It hits the notes it has to with its exploitation of the crazies who are genuinely into this but it also has some solid interviews with those who have inside the sphere, first-hand knowledge of the universe that George Lucas has crafted. Say what you will about the man but he has parted a lot of people with their money. This documentary absolutely shows where a lot of that cash has gone.

I’ve got a few copies available to give away so if you’re interested please put “Galaxy” in the subject line and shoot me a note at Christopher_Stipp@Yahoo.com.

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HARPER’S ISLAND: AMBER BORYCKI

harpersSometimes it’s just good to sit on something.

I waited to release this interview with Amber Borycki of CBS’ Harper’s Island, now showing every Thursday night (and watch the show’s premiere online if you’ve missed it), as I’ve done this before. I’ve talked to a show’s talent and released the thing weeks before the show has even aired. Most of the time it’s a safe bet but if you’ve never heard of a program or watched it there is an inherent problem at times in making it meaningful to someone who hasn’t seen it.

With Harper’s Island, though, I hedged a bet that it was going to well in order to have a little more than a passing interest in the following interview. But the bet wasn’t that risky in my own estimation. You had an excellent time slot that was poised to help this little show that could, you had a cast full of unknowns that only increases the tension for a murder mystery program in that you can’t cherry pick who is going to make it to the end but, most of all, and what impresses me, is that this show has a finite lifespan. I am just as a fan of Lost’s twisted and arching story lines but there is something fascinating in a program’s development that says to itself, “There will be someone dead at the beginning and there will be a resolution of it all by the end of 13 episodes.” If all goes well, there could be a different set-up for each batch of shows. Yes, it’s gimmicky in a way. However, where the rubber meets the proverbial road is whether the story and writing can sustain itself for these episodes; you could have any number of wacky premises but if each one was written well enough I could care less about how nutty the idea is.

As it stands, and why I feel vindicated if only for a week, the debut of Harper’s Island last Thursday ranked first in viewers for its time slot (10.5 million) behind only stalwarts CSI and Survivor. Take it as you will in this fickle viewing pool of television viewers but I’ll strike while the iron is hot and introduce you to Amber Borycki, an actress who had her film debut in a breakout performance in 1984’s RUNAWAY by Michael Crichton starring Tom Selleck , Kirstie Alley and Gene Simmons of Kiss only to disappear for almost 20 years.

Read on to find out why…

HARPER’S ISLAND is on Thursday nights at 10 ET/PT

amber-borycki-79401-89CHRISTOPHER STIPP: Tell me, what is it about this show – it’s one of those shows that has been shrouded in mystery with only a vague idea of what it’s about. What can you tell me?

AMBER BORYCKI: Let’s see. There’s a lot I can’t tell you about the show. We are sworn to secrecy to our death actually. Do you want the premise of the show?

CS: Briefly. Lay it out for me.

BORYCKI: It is a one hour drama. They are calling it a horror-inspired drama or a 13 episode mystery event. Basically it’s about a group of friends and family and they travel to an island to celebrate a wedding and for Abby Mills who is the lead character played by Elaine Cassidy this is the first time she’s gone back to Harper’s Island since her mother was murdered there 7 years ago.

I guess at the beginning spirits are really high and it’s all a big party but as the show progresses people are gripped by fear and are murdered one by one and everybody is a suspect. By the end of 13 episodes, the murdered will be revealed.

CS: And this is one of the interesting things I found out about the show is that they are planning on spinning this into – if this season goes well, next season will be a completely different cast with a completely focus.

BORYCKI: Yeah, they have to. There’s nobody left.

(Laughs)

CS: But, yeah, they are planning on making this more than just a one time thing.

BORYCKI: Yes, that is the one thing we are allowed to say is that they are promoting it as everybody is going to go, one by one people are going to be picked off and by the end you will sort of find out who it is. I mean, pretty much everybody.

CS: This seem right for a couple reasons. Why I like this is that they know there is a finite, definite end to the series. Can you shed some light about what they had in mind? You can see how this could have been stretched into 3, 4 or 5 seasons. Why did they want to shoot it all in one season and get it done with?

BORYCKI: I think it’s just because it’s a new idea. The reason they are doing just 13 episodes is because they are calling this a mystery event. They are promoting it as kind of a mini-series. So, that way you are guaranteed, I think by July 13th, you are going to know who it is. That way, people who are watching the show – they have this anticipation every time. They know they are going to find something out.

I think that’s the difference between a series like Lost. You don’t know when you’re going to find out the end. This way, you know the exact day you are going to get that reward for watching the series. It’s really like a horror movie stretched out over 13 episodes on TV. Like a really long horror movie – which is pretty cool.

amberCS: Are they shooting this cinema-style or doing it kind of vérité like a documentary?

BORYCKI: It’s actually done cinema-style. Like any other one hour drama. There is no hand held camera. It’s great, shiny and colorful. That’s one cool thing about the show is that it starts off in the beginning in the summer and it’s the wedding, it’s the parties, the heels, bright colors and sun but as the show progresses, the whole tone starts to change when people start getting killed and obviously if your friend or family member gets murdered you are not going to be putting on your heels and dresses anymore. Dressing in darker colors and jeans and the whole tone starts to change. A very cool visual effect – the palate changes as well.

CS: Is that what brought you into this? Was it the premise that sold you, did someone have you in mind or is this one of those things you basically go in for and audition and see if you get it?

BORYCKI: I auditioned, yeah. I auditioned for a show here in Vancouver, Canada where the show is filmed and I actually only auditioned a week before the show went to camera. They were still doing casting and it all happened super fast. I went in and Jon Turtletaub, our executive producer, Dan and Karim were there in the room and, right away, I knew walking in that I wanted to be a part of the show because of the energy in the room. They were warm, inviting and such great guys and were excited and it was a cool experience auditioning because they were so welcoming. I left saying I really wanted to work with these guys because they were so great. So, I’m really happy to be a part of it.

CS: Speaking about Jon, I read some interviews with him. He’s an interesting guy to get on-board with something like this. Serial television isn’t something he gets a whole lot of involved in.

BORYCKI: True. National Treasure fame and all.

CS: Exactly. Can you share what brought him to do this thing? He said he was going to do National Treasure III.

BORYCKI: That maybe a question you would have to ask him. I don’t really know exactly how he got involved in the first place. I just know that it was a collaboration of people that really wanted to try something new. Something that has never been done this way before. Yeah, it was kind of different. We were all really excited to work with him. Him coming into a TV series. He directed the pilot as well, which was great because we all got to hang out. To have him there with his film background and history really just worked for the show because it feels like a movie on TV. Like a 13 part movie. But in terms of how he got involved initially, I’m not sure.

CS: Let me ask you a little bit about yourself. From 1984 until about 2003 you were basically absent from major productions but were doing a lot of theater. What brought you back in?

BORYCKI: You must have looked at my resume!

(Laughs)

CS: Yes, I did….

BORYCKI: The Runaway is on there and it makes me laugh because I did movie when I was a year old. It starred Tom Selleck and he actually rescued me from killer robots. It’s hilarious. Now we have all these cool I-Robot type movies and in this movie it looks like shoe boxes with guns sticking out.

(Laughs)

It’s all kind of funny. I’m in my crib and he comes in and rescues me. Magnum-style. I guess it was my parents. My dad is a writer and producer but I never did any child acting. I guess in high school started doing theater and musicals and came to acting that way and didn’t start doing TV and films until I was about 19. They left it up to me to find my own interest and it just sort of came back into my life and I realized that it was what I loved to do more than anything. That explain the “senior” hiatus?

(Laughs)

I took a little break. The Runaway took it all out of me!

CS: Did the writers know – obviously one of the things about Lost – some of the guys didn’t really know where it was going to go when they got started, we just had the idea.

BORYCKI: We asked them and yes, they knew. That was really funny because we would try to get it out of them all the time. There were people claiming that they were going to have mental breakdowns. I remember going out for dinner and one of our cast members was like, “Look, if you don’t tell me this… I can’t handle it anymore. I don’t know if I’m going to die. I don’t know if I’m the killer. I need to know this. I’m going nuts.” But it was like a game all the time. They did a really good job because nobody knew anything until the end. Top secret.

CS: Well, what about for you? What’s on the horizon? What are you looking forward to?

BORYCKI: I’m super excited right now because the show comes out in about a month and we have our billboards up, which is really cool. I’m in Vancouver right now but I’m heading down to LA tomorrow, actually, and the picture of our billboard has been circulating around and we’re sending it like on Facebook and emails. I love the websites where people are starting to talk about it. So, at this point I’m just super excited about the show and I’m going to head down to LA and be there for the pilot episode and we’re all going to get together and watch it. That’s the focus right now. I’m still auditioning for other things and thinking about what’s coming next but at this point, the focus is pretty much on that. There is some pretty cool press stuff coming up. They are doing a lot of extra stuff that goes along with the show. There’s the Harper’s Globe which is a website that CBS is doing which is kind of like a story of a girl, a local to Harper’s Island who writes for the paper and keeps a blog on what’s happening. Sort of an off-shoot of Harper’s Island. Things like that. Pretty cool stuff to watch out for.

CS: That’s the frustrating thing about doing an interview like this because you can’t say a whole lot.

BORYCKI: I know. I’m trying to be really careful. We had to sign our lives away to not say anything and it’s so hard. Even my best friends and family are asking me questions. My accountant the other day was asking. But I couldn’t say anything. I can only say what I can say. I don’t want to slip up.

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