Last week the LA Times featured Ben Mendelsohn and his charming nervousness at the Sundance Film Festival premiere of Mississippi Grind. The film’s story concerns two gamblers, one down on his luck with financial problems (Ben Mendelsohn), and the other a younger, dynamic, free-spirited risk taker (played by Ryan Reynolds) . They embark on an adventure where they reconnect with past lovers and have an encounter with a loan shark, where they make ill-advised bets. The film has an unorthodox style of narration that typical viewers may not be used to.
Ben Mendelsohn apparently never watches himself on screen, and this film was no exception. As soon as the screening at Sundance started, he left for a cigarette break. His wife, Emma Forrest, acts as his eyes at screenings and helps him judge the quality of his performances.
This isn’t the only film that Ben Mendelsohn is in at Sundance this year; he also appears in Slow West a film about a sixteen-year old rich, Scottish boy who travels to America to find his love, in the 19th century. This film is about surviving and learning how to be a good man in a harsh world. Ben’s career has taken off in Hollywood in recent years, he became well known during his role as John Daggett in The Dark Knight Rises, where he plays Bruce's business rival, yet he started as a leading man in Australia as a teen. In Amy distributed by World Wide Motion Pictures, Ben plays a sensitive musician that helps the titular main character, Amy, connect to the real world through singing. Ben Mendelsohn has said that roles like these suit him better, as he is a naturally sensitive person.
Award season is just around the corner, and Willie Nelson’s album Stardust will join twenty-six other songs and albums in the 2015 Grammy Hall of Fame. This will be Willie Nelson’s third time to be immortalized by the Grammy committee.
Willie Nelson’s former manager, Neil Reshen, passed away recently at age 75, due to complications with Alzheimer’s disease. Mr. Reshen was the fearless manager that negotiated music contracts for Willie Nelson (he and Waylon Jennings were Mr. Reshen’s first clients), and brought them into the public eye. The Red Headed Stranger album from 1975 rose to number one on the country charts and number twenty-eight in the pop charts, and it catapulted Willie Nelson into the spotlight. Red Headed Stranger, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002.
Willie Nelson’s second Grammy Hall of Fame selection was the single “Always on my Mind” from his Columbia album, which was made in 1975 and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008. Readers can watch the Grammy’s, which occur this year on February eighth on CBS at 7pm ET/PT.
In the documentary feature film Welcome to Eden, Willie Nelson is featured as a celebrity supporter of the now-demolished South Central Farm in Los Angeles. It is now available on Vimeo.
“The British are coming” to US TV audiences and the public is going wild. More and more Americans are enjoying British TV shows such as Doctor Who, Downton Abbey, and Sherlock, and have fallen in love with talented actors like Benedict Cumberbatch and Hugh Bonneville. Another of these TV show treasures is the crime drama Silent Witness, similar in style to Bones, which has been on the air in the UK since 1996 and has a loyal following. While the program hasn’t aired yet in the states, it is just as compelling and deserves to find a new following.
The great Emilia Fox plays a complicated character with a difficult past in her role as Dr. Nikki Alexander. The talented cast of the show also includes William Gaminara, who plays Professor Leo Dalton, and Tom Ward playing Dr. Harry Cunningham, a humorous Forensic Pathologist who solves crime in an unconventional way. While US audiences are no strangers to crime drama, the British crime shows have a style all their own, oftentimes being more realistic and well-crafted. Emilia Fox states in a Digital Spy article that the last two episodes were “the hardest scenes I've had to do.” The episodes are stand alone stories with new detail being revealed about Dr. Nikki Alexander’s personal life. Silent Witness is ending its eighteenth season and its twentieth anniversary, and the cast and crew have grown into a family so much that even Rose, Emilia Fox’s daughter, has a special place on set. Emilia Fox says that she enjoys having her on set and being a mother. Her parental role wasn’t a far stretch from her role as the mother in Ways to Live Forever, distributed by World Wide Motion Pictures, where her character takes care of her son with leukemia.
This week marked the State of the Union address, and boundaries have been broken once again. President Obama spoke about American values and principles of human dignity, justice and civil liberties. While speaking, he said “we continue to reject offensive stereotypes of Muslims, …. or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. We do these things not only because they are the right thing to do, but because ultimately they will make us safer” Previously, former President Bill Clinton was the first president to say the word “gay” in his State of the Union Address back in the year 2000. It has taken fifteen years to include mention of those who are bisexual and transgender.
The struggles of transgender individuals are also becoming more prominent in popular culture, such as the character of Sophia in Orange is the New Black, incarcerated in a woman’s prison. One of these struggles is also represented in the feature film Pop Kowboy, distributed by World Wide Motion Pictures. The film concerns three diverse characters trying to find themselves and getting entangled in each others lives. Frankie, played by Craig Olsen, is transgender woman in need of money, who meets Vinnie, played by Ronnie Marmo (from General Hospital), an incompetent aspiring gangster, who has been given one last chance to make good with the local mob boss. Pony, played by Shawn Driscoll from America's Sweethearts, is a wannabe cowboy who has trouble finding love. He botches the briefcase delivery with Vinnie and ends up on the run with Frankie, beginning their own special friendship. The LGBT angle is a small portion of the film, and not sensationalized, giving the humorous film a non-stereotypical feel. The film also shows how difficult family life can be for a transgender person, and why President Obama’s State of the Union address was so historic.
Like most inquisitive boys, 12-year old Sam wants to know about UFOs, horror movies, ghosts, and girls. Sam also has leukemia, and although the adults in his life don’t want him to dwell on it, Sam wants to know everything about his disease and death, a possibility he might face. Together with his best friend, Felix, he embarks on a "scientific investigation" with questions, observations, evidence, reflections, and lists of all the things he wants to do someday -- like breaking a world record, flying in a blimp, kissing a girl for the first time, and experiencing what it’s like to be a teenager. In this poignant yet ultimately uplifting tale, Sam and his family face the immensity of an uncertain future with love, humor, and a touch of the unexpected.
Ways to Live Forever is available courtesy of World Wide Motion Pictures Corporation.
Starring: Ben Chaplin, Emilia Fox, Greta Scacchi, Robbie Kay, Alex Etel, Ella Purnell, Natalia Tena, Phllida Law
Directed By: Gustavo Ron
Written By: Gustavo Ron, Sally Nicholls (book Ways To Live Forever)
Run Time: 100 minutes
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