Breaking Away: Heartfelt David and Goliath Story


In 1979, the world was waiting to be conquered by the little guy and Breaking Away captures that sense of adventure in this fresh film. The look of the film was critical to its success. From the first shot to the last, it felt authentic. That 80’s nostalgic look has come back into style with films like Super 8 and television shows such as Stranger Things.

In my latest review for The Retro Set, I looked back at the film Breaking Away. I interviewed Director of Photography Matt Leonetti, who worked on the film. When he told me his team mounted a camera in the back of a pickup truck to film some of the racing shots, I knew he had a great story to share.

Read on . . .

Cinematographer Leonetti Breaking Away From the Mold

War Room, Hit Faith-Based Film and Gospel Singers


“War Room” is a faith-based hit.

Right now, it’s the talk of the town in Hollywood.  It cost only $3 million to make but it’s already grossed $12 million dollars in its opening weekend.

For a Christian film, that’s shocking especially in a town where actress Mayim Bialik says “it’s not trendy to be religious.”

“War Room” was written by two brothers, Alex and Stephen Kendrick.  Ministers got involved and started to encourage their congregations to see the film.  And now the film is making bank.

Logline:  A seemingly perfect family look to fix their problems with the help of Miss Clara, an older, wiser woman.

Is it becoming more popular to talk about prayer, religion, or spirituality?  This success makes a big statement about people wanting to be more open to sharing their faith.

Also, I discovered The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers that are going on a national tour.

This group is AMAZING!  Now, if you could get the Kendrick brothers to see The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers for their next faith-based film, the results could be amazing.

“Creep” Sneaks Up On You


Disturbing.  That is the word I would use to describe the low-budget horror film “Creep.”  But I would also call it extremely effective, unsettling, and sadly, true-to-life.

There are more people freelancing and taking jobs that require them to meet strangers in order to get paid work.  Those freelancers have to walk into the unknown so they can work.  That means going into a new business, a person’s home or an unmarked building.

I have taken jobs from Craigslist.  I have met up with some very creepy people in potentially unsafe situations.  But I need to work.

If you’ve ever gotten a freelance call, then you will understand this movie.  And it will scare the pants off of you.

Rule #1 to freelancing and dating:  No sleepovers the first time you meet.

Logline:  When a videographer answers a Craigslist ad for a one-day job in a remote mountain town, he finds his client is not at all what he initially seems.

The trailer is exactly like the movie… with unexpected twists, turns and scares… all thanks to the “Creep.”

Tippin’ my hat to writer/director/co-star Patrick Brice and writer/co-star Mark Duplass. “Creep” totally freaked me out… job well done!

“The Gift” $5 Million Success?


Films don’t have to cost a fortune to be deemed a success. It’s all about storytelling and marketing.

“The Gift” was made for $5 million and, in a couple of weeks, it’s already grossed $24 million.  Word-of-mouth on the film is spreading and the reviews are excellent.

Actor Jason Bateman is getting attention for a terrific performance.  The guy should be good.  He’s been acting since he was a kid.  Bateman is likable and believable in everything he does.  He’s even likable when being interviewed by Howard Stern.

Logline:  A young married couple’s lives are thrown into a harrowing tailspin when an acquaintance from the husband’s past brings mysterious gifts and a horrifying secret to light after more than 20 years.

The trailer plays like a younger, male version of “Fatal Attraction.”

Dead Fish in “The Gift”… Dead rabbit in “Fatal Attraction.”

Robyn, the wife looks into the kitchen and around the corner… is there something boiling on the stove?

Simon says… Simon says… “I will not be ignored!”

This all seems to remind me of Glenn Close.  Brilliant marketing for every age group that has watched “Fatal Attraction.”

I love thrillers.  And I hope this film offers a complex mystery with a huge payoff at the end.  Ambiguous endings don’t do it for me anymore.  Ambiguity, confusion and dangling plots are irritating.

Glenn Close’s character is shot and killed by the wife.  That’s a payoff.

Give me a strong ending that leaves me satisfied.

With the movie trailer alone, this film captures my vote to spend movie dollars.

“The Hateful Eight” Trailer


Christmas day, December 25th, 2015 marks the release date of Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film fittingly entitled:  “The Hateful Eight.”

Logline:  In post-Civil War Wyoming, bounty hunters try to find shelter during a blizzard but get involved in a plot of betrayal and deception. Will they survive?

Look at this cast:  Channing Tatum, Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern and the list goes on.

Genius.  Christmas can’t come soon enough to see this gem.

My wish list:  movie tickets for Christmas.

“Goodnight Mommy” Horror Film


“Goodnight Mommy” looks like an incredible visual piece of storytelling.

It’s an Austrian film, but I want to see it subtitles and all.

Logline:  In the heat of the summer. A lonesome house in the countryside between woods and corn fields. Nine-year-old twin brothers are waiting for their mother. When she comes home, bandaged after cosmetic surgery, nothing is like before. The children start to doubt that this woman is actually their mother. It emerges an existential struggle for identity and fundamental trust.

The trailer is disturbing.  But it’s effective and it’s going to fill the movie theater.

The film has its theatrical release on September 11, 2015.

Of course, it’s no more disturbing than this real life nightmare story on Reddit.

Yep, I’m going to be awake all night long tonight thanks to filmmakers and Reddit.

Chris Farley as “Shrek”

This is brilliant.  And it’s so different from Mike Myers as “Shrek.”

Sadly, Chris Farley died in 1977 before his work went public on “Shrek.”  Mike Myers took over the role, made the original and a series of sequels.

But this is definitely worth watching all the way through.  Farley had talent.  And he’s greatly missed.

“The Intern” from Writer/Director Nancy Meyers


For the past few years, I’ve been reading about the latest film project, “The Intern,” from writer/director Nancy Meyers.

I love Meyers style.  One of my favorite movies is “It’s Complicated,” which is also written and directed by Nancy Meyers.

But this film has a story behind it.  I remember first reading about it in 2013.  I liked the idea of actors Reese Witherspoon and Robert De Niro performing in the film together.  It was smart casting. Then, Reese fell out and Anne Hathaway stepped into the lead.

Logline:  70-year-old widower Ben Whittaker has discovered that retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Seizing an opportunity to get back in the game, he becomes a senior intern at an online fashion site, founded and run by Jules Ostin.

With a budget of $35 million, it should make its money back easily come its release date of September 25th, 2015.

It’s a tough market for female writer/directors and Nancy Meyers has managed to make a career out of entertaining films. Everyone isn’t a fan of every shot, but everyone can agree that Nancy Meyers has talent and she’s consistent in providing solid content that makes bank at the box office.  “It’s Complicated,” her last film, had a budget of $85 million and grossed $219.1 million worldwide.  Gotta give the lady credit.