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By Christopher Stipp

The Archives, Right Here

Check out my other column, This Week In Trailers, at SlashFilm.com and follow me on TWITTER under the name: Stipp


scarface-blu-ray-cover-01First it was the The Dude’s turn to get the royal treatment, now it’s Tony Montana’s time.

Coming to Blu-ray on September 6th, this is, perhaps, one of those releases that will now compliment any Blu-ray collection worth bragging about. The new edition is packed with enough new features that makes this a must buy, even for someone like me who hasn’t revisited this masterpiece in some years, while also being something that will make die-hard loyalists of de Palma’s coke fueled gangster reach for their wallets.

To that end, not only am I going to be giving away some copies when the Blu-ray drops but I am, this week, offering a pair of tickets to two people in order to enjoy Universal Pictures’ one-night-only event that will see the man who made the line “Say hello to my little friend” something worth quoting up back up on the big screen.

I have one pair of tickets for this upcoming August the 31st’s showing of the film at the Deer Valley 17 AMC Theaters and the Mesa Grande 14 AMC Theaters at 7:30.

So, if you would like this film with a crowd who will doubt be into the movie drop me a line at Christopher_Stipp@yahoo.com and I’ll put you into the running to win a pair of these tickets. Good luck!


With machine guns blazing, the explosive underworld epic Scarface arrives on Blu-ray TM Hi-Def September 6, 2011 from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

Considered one of the most influential gangster films ever made, Scarface’s gritty depiction of Tony Montana’s lethal ambition has made it a cultural touchstone that spans generations. Now, fans can experience the film’s raw power in the newly restored, high-resolution, high-definition picture and explosive 7.1 audio for the first time ever. Exclusive new bonus content created especially for this release reveals the film’s iconic legacy as one of the greatest crime sagas of all time. For a limited time only, Scarface Special Limited Edition Blu-rayTM comes with collectible SteelBookTM packaging, ten exclusive art cards, a digital copy of the film and a DVD of the original 1932 Scarface, making it a must-own addition to every film fan’s library.

“Nearly 30 years after it first exploded onto the screen, Scarface stands as a cultural icon with a passionate and growing fan base that continues to exert an enduring influence on not just moviemakers but artists across the entire pop-culture landscape,” said Craig Kornblau, President of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. “Now, for the first time ever, fans of this jewel in the Universal crown can enjoy Scarface with the spectacular picture and sound quality that only Blu-rayTM provides.”

A masterful collaboration between acclaimed director Brian de Palma (The Untouchables, Carlito’s Way) and Academy Award®-winning screenwriter Oliver Stone (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Platoon), Scarface features extraordinary performances from a powerhouse cast that includes Academy Award® winner Al Pacino (The Godfather), Academy Award® nominee Michelle Pfeiffer (The Fabulous Baker Boys, Hairspray), Academy Award® nominee Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (The Color of Money, The Perfect Storm), Academy Award® nominee Robert Loggia (Jagged Edge) and Steven Bauer (Traffic). The film was nominated for three Golden Globe® Awards (including Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Score), and was named one of the Top 10 Gangster Films of All Time by the American Film Institute.


· The Scarface Phenomenon— This all-new documentary presents Scarface as a unique phenomenon in cinema history. It explores how a film plagued by controversy leading up to its release has become a Hollywood classic, influencing a whole new generation of filmmakers and leaving a lasting imprint on popular culture.

· Deleted Scenes

· The World of Tony Montana —Experience the world of the ultimate gangster and hear from experts on the real world violence, fear and paranoia that surrounds a drug lord.

· The Rebirth —Director Brian De Palma, producer Martin Bregman, actor Al Pacino, and screenwriter Oliver Stone revisit the history of Scarface, from the inspiration of the original Howard Hawks classic to the evolution of the script.

· The Acting — Join the filmmakers, Al Pacino and Steven Bauer to discover how each of the roles was cast and how Brian De Palma worked with his actors to get unforgettable performances.

· The Creating — A fascinating, controversial and definitive journey through the making of the film, which began with the production being forced to leave its initial location in Florida. Discover how the chainsaw scene was filmed, learn about the production design, the photography, and the struggle to get the film an “R” rating.

· Scarface: The TV Version—A revealing and hilarious montage of film clips comparing the theatrical version to the network television version of Scarface.

· The Making of Scarface: The Video Game: Immerse yourself in the world of Scarface in this behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the video game.


· Scarface Scoreboard—Watch Scarface like never before. Keep track of the number of times the “F” word is used and monitor the bullets fired!

· Picture in Picture—Access interview footage of Brian De Palma, Al Pacino, Screenwriter Oliver Stone, and others without interruption to the movie experience. Also featured is a scene comparison between the 1983 version of Scarface and Howard Hawks’ original film.

· BD-LIVE™—Access the BD-Live™ Center through your Internet-connected player to get even more content, watch the latest trailers and more.

· pocket BLU™ app— USHE’s groundbreaking pocket BLU™ app uses iPhone™, iPad™, iPod® touch, Smartphone, Android™, PC and Macintosh to work seamlessly with a network-connected Blu-ray™ player and offers advanced features such as:

o Advanced Remote Control: A sleek, elegant new way to operate your Blu-ray™ player. Users can navigate through menus, playback and BD-Live™ functions with ease.

o Video Timeline: Users can easily bring up the video timeline, allowing them to instantly access any point in the movie.

o Mobile-To-Go: Users can unlock a selection of bonus content with their Blu-ray™ discs to save to mobile devices or to stream from anywhere there’s a Wi-Fi network, enabling them to enjoy exclusive content on the go, anytime, anywhere.

o Keyboard: Enter data into a Blu-ray™ player with your device’s easy and intuitive keyboard to facilitate such Blu-ray™ features as chatting with friends and sending messages.


In the spring of 1980, the Mariel boatlift brought thousands of Cuban refugees to the sun-washed avenues of Miami in search of the American dream. From acclaimed director Brian DePalma, Scarface is the rags-to-riches story of Tony Montana (Al Pacino), who finds wealth, power and passion beyond his wildest dreams…at a price he never imagined. Tony Montana’s meteoric rise, lavish life and soul-destroying fall anchor an epic film that inspired a worldwide following. Pacino is at his most memorable as Montana, blasting his way to the top of Miami’s drug underworld in a bravura performance.

Rating: R

Running Time: 2 Hours 50 Minutes

Number of Layers: BD-50

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1



griff_the_invisible_ver2Before talking with Ryan Kwanten, star of Leon Ford’s ode to the postmodern superhero, GRIFF THE INVISIBLE, the man was coming off a Comic-Con appearance that saw the requisite female population shriek in visual ecstasy at the man who has already stolen some hearts and minds with his role on True Blood. This role represents a true departure for the man that people think they know.

What separates Ryan’s character, Griff, from other mild mannered individuals who find the strength to combat not only crime in the streets but to find someone with which to share his ideas about what is right and just there is a genuine heart at the center of the madness. While there have been plenty of movies that show what happens when average Joes take to the alleyways and side streets none have turned inward to see what it means to try and express feelings of vulnerability in the middle of story about one man trying to give power to the powerless. Ryan talked to me about his role and what it meant to him to play a character with such clear motivations as Griff.

GRIFF THE INVISIBLE is now playing. To see if it’s playing near you, look at the film’s official site for more information.

CHRISTOPHER STIPP: Thanks for talking to me today.

RYAN KWANTEN: You are absolutely welcome.

CS: I actually got to talk with [director] Leon [Ford] at the Comic-Con. If fact, I was there as you were just leaving the booth as people were going nuts, taking pictures, screaming your name. What has it been like, going out there hustling for a movie that may or may not have ever gotten out of Australia?

KWANTEN: Extraordinary. I guess I like to pick films that obviously appeal to me more than just the character sense. You like to think that you can pick a film that will travel too. But you just never quite know how an audience is going to receive it. But, the first time I ever saw Griff was actually in Berlin. So technically it was a foreign audience for us and they received it really, really well. So it was at that point that I knew it was not just an Australian story. It has a universal resonance.

CS: Hearing about how you essentially came aboard on the project after you had sent in some film tests, only knowing the movie by looking at the scripts and as you were here shooting True Blood while Leon was doing his thing in Australia. What was it about the film that made you think, “You know what, I want to test for this”?

KWANTEN: It was somewhat a cathartic experience. I tend to be a little bit of an introvert and I was very bashful in my younger days. So my release was sport and as I guess acting discovered me I found that acting was my release now, very much a sense of therapy in doing this film for me. It was a rather tough one too because it is closer to who I am and I find it sometimes a real challenge to play characters that encompasses who I am.

CS: And to that point, the film itself is great – it’ not action, it’s not comedy, it’s not a romance – it’s a little bit of everything. The material itself – what drew your interest the further along you got in the script?

KWANTEN: I think it was at that exact point you just made – that it was really hard to pigeon hole and say, ok, this is obviously a hero film, or obviously it’s a comedy or drama. I think that you couldn’t pin it down. It stands on its own. I think it’s a good story and I think that to me is all about quality – it’s not the latest horror film you have to see – this is just a good story. There are lots of things in there that are relevant to this day and age. Like the bullying thing. Everyone knows what it’s like to feel like an outcast at some point in their life.

griff-invisible-ryan-kwanten3CS: I know it’s funny I wrote a review and said essentially in an age when superhero films have been shoved down our throats this year this one is an antidote to that. It’s about something more than just feeling strong. It’s something more personal and certainly your performance speaks to that. I am amazed and the question here is dealing with Leon’s script, he doesn’t have a lot of credits to his name, was there a risk that you knew you were taking when you were thinking “The guy hasn’t done a lot but I see something in the script that I just have to attach myself to”?

KWANTEN: Yes. You couldn’t have said it better. There’s a certain amount of trust that one views in filmmaking and movies. Even if it’s Spielberg and the vast amount of experience he has you still have to – as an actor you have to put your ego and all your reservations aside and be prepared to be vulnerable and leave yourself hopefully in the capable hands of the director and writer. I felt like that the story would be good but I can see in the quality of the story that he was the guy who understood the character and understood emotion and it was – sure it was a risk but very soon after talking to Leon I realized we were on the same page.

CS: I brought this up with Leon a little bit, and I’d like to get your take on it, it’s been a little bit of a renaissance of films that made their way from Australia to here in terms of films like Animal Kingdom and a few other films that have come ashore here – what kind of frame of mind are you in when you film something like this, knowing the film may never have gotten further than Australia’s borders?

ryan-kwanten-griff-invisible1KWANTEN: Oh, I’m an ambitious guy, Chris. You want the film to get to as many people as possible. And I think this is the kind of film that has a good positive message. It’s not like its going to scaring people if they see it. I really think there’s something beautiful that comes from being affected by this story. In that respect I hope it gets to as many people and as many theaters as possible.

CS: To the point of this being one of Leon’s first featured films, how was the experience on set? You have the script, everything was a go, you believe that everything was put in motion…how was it that this guy was learning on the fly as it were?

KWANTEN: First of all, Leon is an actor. So he very much understands the process for us. And I didn’t really study acting. Most of my experience has been either life experience or on set experience. There’s also a transition point that happens with the director and the actor where I take ownership of the character and the character, once we start shooting, it’s me. It’s whatever I portray. And Leon would come in and give notes on who I portray. So, that experience was really smooth. Like Leon gave me an enormous amount of leeway. That was an already really tight script.

CS: One of the last questions I have for you – seeing the film, the old adage that a film is made once on paper, second when it’s shot, and third when it’s edited – what’s it been like to actually see Griff all the way through? Is it exactly the way you envisioned it or do you see inspirations where perhaps you didn’t see them on paper?

KWANTEN: Very good question. Shooting it is a different face and then watching it is a different experience. I try not to connect the two. I had such an enormous amount of fun shooting this. Reading it and then shooting it and then watching it too – it’s still a little bit hard because you’re filming and there’s things I’d like to tweak as an actor and a performer but in time I’m learning to let that go and enjoy the experience. Personally, it’s just nice to hear people being affected by it. I consider it a good film but it’s hard for me to be subjective about that.


norwegian-ninja_2d_hThis is a movie that confounds but delights. The warning label that should wrap this film’s DVD release ought to read: Not for those with a weak sense of humor. Heavy doses of absurdity awaits.

The thing about director/writer Thomas Cappelen Malling’s feature film is that even describing this film is certain to turn some into disbelieving nonbelievers but, yes, the film is about blonde looking ninjas looking to bust up a conspiracy that threatens to disrupt the very sanctity of Norway unless our protagonist, Arne Treholt, who in real life used to be a politician in the 1980’s before he was sent to prison for, of all things, treason and espionage.

The movie goofs on the idea of spy spoofs better than later versions of AUSTIN POWERS ever could. While POWERS certainly wanted to go for the funny in a comedic fashion, NORWEGIAN NINJA flips the script by being completely obnoxious with the way it supposes those trained in the black arts would be able to move through space and time. You see, there are large leaps of faith you have to take in order to enjoy this film which mixes intentionally bad model work, scuffed up footage, and impossibly improbable acts of physical endurance the film about our protagonist who is tasked with making Norway a safer place, using a rather confounding kind of logic that both defies you to try and understand what elements are really real and what are the insane ramblings of a man allowed to run wild with a script that is both hilariously shoddy yet easily one of the most entertaining movies you’ll see all month.

The movie deserves your time, it deserves your attention, and it certainly deserves your ability to try and figure out why this so damn entertaining.

More details about the film:



A Scandinavian Diplomat Becomes a Soviet Spy – or Is He Really His Country’s Most Kick-ass Patriot? This Wild Ride of a Movie Telling the (Somewhat) True Story of a Great Cold War Scandal Hits Dark Sky Films DVD on August 30, 2011

“Hilarious and menacing.” – The Wall Street Journal

“A wonderful bonkers pastiche of James Bond, eastern mysticism and Cold War movies.” – Moviegrrl Reviews

The true story of Norway’s biggest traitor gets a hilarious and thrilling reimagining in the no-holds-barred NORWEGIAN NINJA. Created by the producers of the Norwegian cult hit Dead Snow, about Nazi zombies, the movie will thrill both ninja action fans and (alternative) history buffs when Dark Sky Films releases it on DVD, via MPI Media Group, on August 30, 2011.

In 1984, high-ranking Norwegian diplomat Arne Treholt was tried and convicted of acting as a spy on behalf of the Soviet Union. But what if the courts got it wrong? What if the case against him was a sham? What if – dare we consider – Treholt was not a spy at all but a patriot of the highest order and the leader of a secret ninja force created by King Olav? A ninja force locked in a secret battle against all who would challenge Norwegian sovereignty?

A fictionalized account of the most notorious political scandal in Norwegian history, NORWEGIAN NINJA is a deliciously tongue-in-cheek spoof of the Cold War spy movie, with added ninja action. Blending historical events and actual newsreel footage of the Treholt affair with his own less-than-historical elements, debuting writer-director Thomas Cappelen Malling (a contributor to the upcoming horror anthology The ABCs of Death) creates a film that wryly questions just how truthful the truth really is. And then sends a ninja to punch the truth in the face.

NORWEGIAN NINJA is “hilarious and menacing, absurd and insightful, and an accomplished work of genre film making that authoritatively upends the cold-war spy thriller,” novelist J.S. Marcus raved in The Wall Street Journal. 24framespersecond.net said the movie is “a loving tribute to all things Bond, with gadgets, aging ninjas and sky cars aplenty.” Robert Koehler of Variety wrote, “Thomas Cappelen Malling’s debut feature indeed delivers as expected in an intentionally cheesy sendup of espionage thrillers, old TV and Cold War politics.”

Provocative in the vein of the “autobiographical” Chuck Barris tale Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, NORWEGIAN NINJA has helped lead to a reopening of Arne Treholt’s case. The DVD brings the wider movie public into the loop of one of modern European history’s most notorious events.


- 3 Deleted Scenes
- 6 Bonus Scenes
- 6 Featurettes Including Interview with actor Mads Ousal, writer-director Thomas Capplen Malling, and producer Eric Vogel
- Music Video
- Trailer

GRAVE ENCOUNTERS - The Vicious Brothers Interview


The Vicious Brothers are neither.

What had started out as a found footage production, spawned a trailer that has garnered almost ten million views, a following that demanded to know more and resulted in getting the chance to play the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year.

Getting a chance to talk to the duo about their experiences shooting in a psych ward, trying to do something new with the genre, and making this movie the most original production it can be was one of the more satisfying talks I had with some filmmakers at the Comic-Con. While some are polished and are sticking with the party line no matter how hard you try and get someone to be honest, the Brothers Vicious were more than happy to talk about what it took to get this from where it began to where it is today.

I talked with them about the process of moviemaking, how these two found one another, and how the creative process differs when you have two minds trying to get to one outcome.

GRAVE ENCOUNTERS is now available via Video On Demand.

CHRISTOPHER STIPP: So, the film got accepted at Tribeca?


CS: Is this really your first feature that you’ve gotten acclaim for?

ORTIZ: It’s just our first feature period!

MINIHAN: It’s our first feature – it’s our fourth script we’ve written together and our first one that we just decided to say “Fuck it” and go shoot it.

CS: What was the budget? I don’t want to know the exact number but was it something like, I have a Visa so let’s just run it up?

MINIHAN: It might as well have been. It’s well under a half million dollar movie. It’s Stu and I running around with cameras in our hands in an abandoned mental institution.

CS: Talk about that a little. The collaboration you two have – how does that work? In partnerships there’s give and take – like I have an idea – I have an idea – how long have you two been working together creatively?

ORTIZ: We met on the internet actually when we were both in high school. That’s how we met. He’s from Vancouver, Canada and I’m from California. We actually met on this filmmaking forum. And we started sending each other clips and sending movies that we’d shoot in our backyards and stuff like that. And it’s like, hey, this stuff is cool and we kept the relationship up and we met and just kept friends basically. This guy here is the only guy I ever met that I ever thought was on the same wave length as me in terms of what we thought was cool and just what we were doing. We’ve always had some weird click there where we have an understanding basically.

MINIHAN: It ties into the collaborative process as far as the writing goes and stuff like that. I’ll have an idea and if it’s not quite there yet, Stu will elevate it and vice versa and we always find eye to eye and even editing the film and directing the film, we share such similar mindset that it’s really a great collaboration.

The Vicious BrothersCS: In pre-production, production, and then editing, I have to assume the two of you disagreed on a few things here and there or not?

MINIHAN: Not so much disagreements sometimes it will be like, I have an idea and he would be like I don’t know about that, prove it. And then it’s like I basically have to prove it is a better idea.

ORTIZ: Like sell me on the idea or I sell you on the idea. If your idea is better, we always end up agreeing in the long run.

MINIHAN: And we’ve been doing this for a while now. We’ve written four scipts – at some point, the trust factor comes into it. You do away with your ego. This obviously works and we just always end up with something way better than if it was just him, or just me writing. We kind of balance each other out.

CS: And in the collaborative process with the actors – were they given – you obviously wrote the script but did you keep it loose and not letting them know – it seems like a movie that’s reactionary and try to get a naturalistic a response. Anything you kept them in the dark about?

ORTIZ: When we wrote the script we wrote a full 90 page script but we wrote some of it so loose that we left a lot of room for the actors to bring a lot of improvs to the table. There’s a certain scene in the film where we didn’t tell them what was going to happen and we basically had this whole set built that was blocking off a staircase that they are trying to run to and we just said, you are going to be filming this scene and you think there’s an escape route on the top of the building and you are going to run up the stairs and we just want it to be real. And something’s going to happen. So when they got up there you are seeing their genuine reaction to it.

MINIHAN: And we did some stuff also in the movie where we would just basically devise hallways of four – we’d start them on one end of a really long hallway – and granted they are completely in the dark, the only light they have is literally from their camera – and we said, OK, you need to walk from point A to point B and just react to stuff.

ORTIZ: We basically created a haunted house for them to walk though.

MINIHAN: Quite literally. We would be running around waiting and watching them on the monitors – we knew where they were and waited until they were next to a door or a window or something and we’d slam it or make a loud noise – we got a lot of hilarious reactions from them. They were freaked out.

CS: Was it hard – shooting in the dark presents its own challenges of trying to get the lighting right when there’s not a lot of lighting to give especially when you want it to look as natural as possible – was it something you were comfortable with?

ORTIZ: We were super comfortable with the idea of shooting the film in a gorilla-style. I think even if we had a ton of money we would have wanted a minimalist DP that would have wanted to light and shoot in a similar fashion just because with the sound producing thing – if it feels too studio you kind of get removed from the reality of it so when we made the film we wanted an aesthetic that really felt like it shows which is basically shot in the dark, very low light and they are not slick and rough around the edges.

MINIHAN: There is just something scary about going down a dark hallway and the only source of light is just one light source that is right in front of you. It’s just dark and things come into the light only about 10 feet in front of you.

ORTIZ: I hate horror movies when everything is over-lit and the moon is just lighting up the woods perfectly. It’s like, why is that guy using a flashlight, I can see everything perfectly.

CS: Exactly. It was like in the 70’s when horror movies felt more real because they weren’t well

viciousbrotherspremieregraveencounterstd5r24apum0lMINIHAN: For sure the ghetto nature helps sell the reality of it.

CS: And to that point – the scares that you wanted to put into it – I’m reminded of James Wan’s Insidious which I am a huge fan of – PG 13, to boot. Say what you will about the man but he was able to create scary moments. How do you work with that when you know you want to get something scary? Not everything the actors are seeing is happening in front of them. How were you working with effects to enhance the scare and still capturing it naturally?

ORTIZ: I think it’s a rhythmic thing and has to do with timing. In terms of something jumping out and scaring at the appropriate moment – something that was a combination of all of that in the movie is – have you seen this movie?

CS: No…

ORTIZ: OK, there’s a scare that happens where there’s a bathtub and something scary happens and having to do with the bathtub and when we shot this thing on the day it took a real long time to set up so we were only able to do it twice. It was an important scare to get right. We didn’t really get the timing right on the day. But on the computer we chopped out a section of about 2 to 3 seconds of this dead time when we were waiting for the scare to happen but it didn’t come and we were able to past them together so you can’t even tell. The scare works perfectly.

CS: Really?

MINIHAN: It’s very timing oriented achieving the right scare. And with the sound footage film you can’t rely on the score to just go bam and shock you at any given moment so a lot of the creepiness has to do with the sound design that the building is slowly coming to life and the ambient drones of the building give a sense of uneasiness throughout the film and act as the score in essence.

CS: And then after you cut it all together and set your sights to getting it released, how was that process of letting go of your movie to be shown at a festival? Was that an easy process for you?

ORTIZ: One thing we did early on when we were still editing the film, my job in LA is that I actually edit trailers so we just started collaborating putting the trailer together. Even before the film is finished, we’re like the trailer is going to be a huge tool to just get us visibility basically to get some interest in it. So we put together a trailer, put it up on YouTube to just see if people would check this out and what would their reaction be and the reaction was pretty huge. At this point we have close to 6 million views now.

MINIHAN: It was made before the film was done. It really kicked started everything. I think Tribeca approached us after that and the wheels started rolling. The film came out in Italy recently and it did very well there theatrically and it’s going to be released in the US through Tribeca Film on video on demand on August 25 and we are going to be doing midnight screenings leading up to that in LA and New York on August 19. We’re running a Demand It campaign at the same time so if you go to Great Encounters.com and demand it in your city, Tribeca will actually bring the film to your city. So you can experience it that way.


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