Let’s All Go To The Lobby

Let’s All Go To The Lobby With: Justin Oberholtzer

Derrick Ferguson: Who is Justin Oberholtzer?

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Justin Oberholtzer: A deep question to start this off. Nice! *laughs* Justin Oberholtzer is a film fanatic who found solace in films when he was younger and it has become a lifelong  passion. He’s a writer, podcaster and (hopefully) a future web designer and graphic artist. He’s also kind of an egotist, what with talking about himself in the third person.

DF: Where do you live and what do you do to keep the bill collectors away?

JO: I live in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and work multiple departments at a local grocery store to pay the bills and feed my passion. I’m currently working on going to college for graphic arts and web design, so hopefully in a few years I’ll be making money doing that.

DF: You’re the host of the FILM RAVE podcast. How and why did you start FILM RAVE?

JO: A couple of years ago, I started to get into podcasts. I would dibble dabble between a lot of film and comedy podcasts until I landed on the Gentlemen’s Guide to Midnite Cinema. It was this show that invigorated my love for podcasts and the community that comes with them! I was fortunate enough that the GGTMC hosts (Large William & Sam U. Rai) are friendly, down to earth film fanatics who don’t shy away from conversing with their listeners. Over the years, I’ve become great friends with them and others in the community, such as Doctor Zom & Pickle Loaf (Silva & Gold), Jake McLargeHuge (Podcast Without Honor & Humanity), Metal Mikey (Action Attraction), the Night of the Living Podcast gang, just to name a few. I began to get the itch to do my own podcast and flirted around with ideas, ultimately deciding to convert my weekly written review into a podcast.

DF: The Internet is so infested with movie themed podcasts you can’t throw a dead tribble without hitting one. Why should we be listening to FILM RAVE?

JO: You shouldn’t. *laughs* All kidding aside, a good reason to listen to FILM RAVE is to hear a film fanatic dissect, review and simply talk about films each week. I’ve recently tweaked the format a bit, downsizing the four to five review format to two to three. This is to make my load a little lighter (what with going back to college) and giving me the opportunity to sink my teeth into more older films. The main reviews are of recent films, but I discuss a plethora of recent watches at the beginning. This ranges from every genre and decade. One second I’m talking about a sleazy horror film, the next I’m waxing philosophically about the works of Stanley Kubrick. It’s a smorgasbord of movie reviews guaranteed to at least hit one niche.

DF: What podcasts do you listen to?

JO: Gentlemen’s Guide to Midnite Cinema, Silva & Gold, Better in the Dark, The Projection Booth, Night of the Living Podcast, Podcast Without Honor & Humanity, Podcast on Fire, Action Attraction, WTF with Marc Maron, Art of Wrestling, MLW, How Did This Get Made?, The Nerdist, Son Of Odin’s Podcast, Sons of Metal, Talk Without Rhythm, The Feminine Critique, KruegerNation, Hammicus, All My Heroes Wear Masks, Outside the Cinema, Are You Serious?, ShowShow, Filmmad Society, Love That Album, Paleocinema,  MondoFilm, Chinstroker vs Punter, Married with Clickers, cineAWESOME!, Criterion Cast, Cinephile Activity, Motion Picture Massacre, Family Movie Night, Bloody Good Horror, The Mill Creeps. The list gets larger with each day.

DF: What’s the very first movie you can remember seeing in a movie theater?

JO: Do drive-ins count? If so, it’d be the American remake of GODZILLA. I was a big fan of the Japanese franchise, catching them on monster movie marathons on Cable TV. I was so excited to see this, only to be ultimately disappointed. It lacked the feel of what made Godzilla epic. I was still wowed at the effects, but it didn’t leave a good taste in my mouth. If we’re talking traditional theaters, the first I can remember is Inspector Gadget (which I liked well enough, but hasn’t held up well). I know I was taken to see the MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS movie (I was a big fan of the show), but I hardly remember the experience. I didn’t really start going to the theater a lot until my early teens. It was mostly home video and cable for me when I was a kid.

GODZILLA

DF: What would you consider to be The Perfect Movie if there is such a thing?

JO: Honestly, I don’t think there is such a thing. It all comes down to personal preference and opinion. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I find 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY to be the closest to a perfect film, while others see it as pretentious garbage. For me, it holds that honor because of its scope, intricate storytelling,  amazing effects and set design, terrific acting and direction and the general creepiness of HAL and what it represents : our struggle to create the perfect machine, which in turn becomes our greatest enemy.

2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY

DF: Have you ever thought of a career in movies? If so, what would you like to do?

JO: For years, I wanted to be a director. I even took multiple video production classes in High school. While I had a fun experience, it also opened my eyes to the vigorous and at times wearisome struggles that come with it. The constant reshoots, complications with partners/actors, editing; it can be both a pleasure and a burden. Seeing how Hollywood treats a lot of directors (studio interference) has soured me on the thought, but it’s still there. I’m still contemplating writing some screenplays. For the time being, I just enjoy reviewing films. It’s more engaging and rewarding to discuss film as of right now.

DF: What’s your overall opinion of movies being made today?

JO: Thanks to the advent of independent film, I feel we’re in a good spot with today’s movies. While there may only be a select handful of great studio produced films, there’s a treasure chest of gold awaiting to be opened in the independent scene. You just need to dig to discover the gold. Which can be a great experience in and of itself.  I feel that each decade has it’s good and bad films. While certain decades stand out as being superior (1970s), most will only be hailed as being great down the road. Everything looks better when looking back. We may be hearing about how stale the current movie scene is nowadays. However, in twenty years or so, we may be hearing how great it was, what with films like DRIVE and THE TREE OF LIFE being released, just to name a few.

DRIVE

DF: Who’s the best director working right now? The worst?

JO: The best would be Terrence Malick. He’s definitely divisive, but I find his work to be intoxicating and beautiful. He can draw you in with a simple shot of the sky. The worst…hmm. I used to say Uwe Boll, but he’s showing promise with his later films. Michael Bay is another option, but I’ve heard good things about PAIN & GAIN (and I honestly enjoy the first Transformers film). The worst is probably somebody whose name escapes me, but their work haunts me. It seems that if I truly loathe somebody, I don’t even acknowledge their existence, whether that be on purpose or not.

DF: You’re a Terrence Malick fan so maybe you can help me understand his films. I like BADLANDS and THE THIN RED LINE but I am absolutely lost when it comes to the rest of his movies. What am I missing?

JO: I wouldn’t say you’re missing anything. He has a certain style that works for some and not for others. He’s definitely esoteric, what with filming in what can be viewed by some as a simple style. His scope is large, but the presentation can be very simple. I find this to work most of the time, especially in his last two films. Those films ultimately are about the beauty of life and I feel that rings true in the translucent direction. Some films, such as THE NEW WORLD, do tend to fall flat. It’s a risky venture with Malick, but I usually wind up loving it. At the very least, you’re getting a gorgeous film to look at.

DF: Your favorite Stanley Kubrick movie?

JO: 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. As I mentioned earlier, it’s such an epic film. From the beginning of time with the cavemen to the future of technology and space travel, it hits every beat and then some. It’s main message about evolution and man’s struggle to create the perfect machine, only for it to backfire and become our greatest enemy, is utterly fascinating. It’s a film that, with each viewing, I get more out of. I hope to see it on the big screen one day, preferably in its original print.

DF: Do you think Horror Movies are in a slump now?

JO: Mainstream wise, yes. While films like SINISTER and the first PARANORMAL ACTIVITY feel fresh and inventive, a lot of the output feels rehashed and trite. The glut of cheap PG-13 horror is a real shame, as it’s giving that rating a bad name. Whenever PG-13 horror appears, one automatically assumes it’s going to be by the numbers and dull since it’s targeting teens. Thankfully, the independent scene is filling the void, though even that’s a crapshoot. The horror genre seems to have the worst good to bad ratio, yet it’s the one I constantly go back to. I think it’s the creativity that comes with the field that intrigues me so much. Here’s hoping the quality keeps getting better within the next few years.

DF: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET is also one of my favorite movies. What do you think of the idea that during the heyday of the series in the 1980’s a child molester/killer was a wisecracking pop icon?

FREDDY KRUEGER

JO: It’s weird when you stop and think about it. Kind of makes you think how twisted the world is. As for Freddy becoming a wisecracking comedian (in some people’s eyes), I never really minded it. For me, even when he was making joke, he was still creepy. There’s something unsettling about a man who takes such perverse pleasure in your pain that he finds humor in it. That may not always translate to screen, but I feel it’s there. Except in FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE. That’s the film where he stopped making jokes and became one. Acting like a Looney Tunes character, right down to the cheesy bed of nails gag. That’s the only film in the series I hate.  Yes, I even like FREDDY’S REVENGE and THE DREAM CHILD.

DF: What do you think is the greatest horror movie you’ve seen and why?

JO: Honestly, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. While HALLOWEEN and THE EXORCIST are definitely chilling and rank up there, the idea behind A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET frightens me more. The fact that a man can infiltrate your dreams and actually kill you (and basically be invincible) scares the hell out of me. It terrorized me when I was a child and still does to this day. Granted, I find more of a perverse interest in dissecting the film and matter, but it still works. Add in that Freddy is a remorseless child molester/killer and you’ve got the makings for many nightmares (pardon the pun).

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET

DF: I think Kevin Smith is a terrific director and I consider CLERKS and CLERKS II to be two of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. But he appears to have fallen out of favor with his fan base. Why is that and what do you think he can do to get them back? If he even can.

JO: As much as I love his films, he is starting to become hard to swallow. His boisterous persona is starting to become overbearing and his remarks towards critics is kind of sad. I don’t mind that he doesn’t like film critics. He’s entitled to that opinion. It’s his whiny attack on them and constant reminder that he doesn’t care what they think that annoys me. Especially considering that, if he didn’t care what they thought, he wouldn’t make a big deal about them in the first place. He’s also picking too many arguments with various directors and producers (though that is Hollywood for you) and is seemingly buying into his ego. Granted, he comes across as a fun person to hang out with and his Q&As are always entertaining. It’s possible certain interviews are shining him in a bad light. I don’t know him personally, so I don’t know for sure. What I do know is that I still love the majority of his films and always look forward to his next one.

KEVIN SMITH

DF: What’s a typical Day In The Life of Justin Oberholtzer like?

JO: Go to work, watch movies, write reviews, record a podcast, listen to podcasts, eat, play with the dog, maybe hang out with friends and go to sleep. I work odd hours…some during the day, some overnight… so the order of these events changes with each day.

DF: Anything else we need to know?

JO: Make sure to go to Freakin’ Awesome Network, where I write and do PR. Also check out the Wide Weird World of Cult Film blog where I occasionally post about things I learned from cult films. Make sure to also go to Lulu.com and buy my book, Movienalia Volume One: Strippers, Bat Nipples & Plastic Dolls. You can purchase an eBook or paperback copy. Keep your eyes peeled on Horrorhound.com, as I may be working with them on something in the near future.

Derrick Ferguson: Finally, recommend five movies that everybody should have in their movie collection

Justin Oberholtzer: 1) 2001: A Space Odyssey 2) Taxi Driver 3) Raiders of the Lost Ark 4) The Godfather 5) Chinatown

Let’s All Go To The Lobby With: Mark Bousquet

Derrick Ferguson: Who is Mark Bousquet?

Mark Bousquet: I was raised in a small town in central Massachusetts called Winchendon (the only town so named in the entire country). Back then, the town population was 8,000 people and the entire high school was only 200-something kids. I played baseball and basketball in high school, acted in the yearly play competition, and generally had a great time. I attended Syracuse University on two separate occasionsand earned Bachelor’s degrees in Public Communications and then inLiterature, then went to the University of New Hampshire for a Mastersin Lit, and then to Purdue University where I earned a Ph.D inAmerican Studies (a dual degree in 19th century American environmental Lit and History).

DF: Where do you live and what do you do to keep the bill collectors away?

MB: I’ve been living in Reno, Nevada for almost a year now with my coonhound/beagle Darwin, where I’m the Assistant Director of Core Writing at the University of Nevada, Reno.

DF: You embarked on this insane project to watch and review every single Marvel Comics movie that you knew of and was available to watch. The first question has to be: Why?

MB: At some point, I started doing monthly review themes at Atomic Anxiety to supplement the massive DOCTOR WHO series and new cinematic releases. I liked the idea of watching just westerns one month and Christmas movies the next, so it was a matter of time before I hit on Superhero Month. Reviewing all Marvel movies has been in my head for a while, the same way reviewing every Hitchcock movie or Tarantino movie has been a long-term goal.

The real push to actually do it as a current project, however, goes back to the release of AVENGERS this past May. Writing a 4,500 word review wasn’t enough, and so I ended up writing individual reviews for all 11 major characters in the movie. Once I had done that, I knew I wanted to collect the reviews and release it as a collection. I could have released just the reviews of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (which ends up being roughly 100 pages in MARVEL COMICS ON FILM) but I’d reviewed a bunch of other Marvel movies, too, so releasing a book of all Marvel movies made sense.

Though I should point out that originally the plan was to release one book on all superhero movies, but once I got serious enough to start looking at word count, I knew that book would be way too large and so concentrated solely on the Marvel movies.

DF: The Marvel Cinematic Universe has proven to be a unique and audacious idea that has paid off in quality movies that succeed as box office hits also. Where do you think it can or should go from here?

MB: It’s a delicate balance between Marvel/Disney expanding on what they’ve done and risk burning out the population on superhero movies. I am not someone who thinks the superhero balloon is eventually going to go bust and no one will ever want another superhero movie, but I do think it’s important to keep the quality and variety of superhero films high.

I have full faith in Kevin Feige to guide the MCU through it’s next phase. I like, too, that they refer to the post-AVENGERS MCU as “Phase 2.” Hiring Feige is the single most important thing Marvel did in building this universe because you need to have one person sitting in the big chair making the visionary decisions. I will not take DC/WB’s attempt to do a shared universe seriously until they hire one person to oversee the project.

As for what I’d do … I like that Marvel and Disney are continuing to expand the idea of what a superhero movie is by going cosmic with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and humorous with ANT-MAN. The next step, of course, is to expand the idea of what a superhero is by giving us a non-white male lead. I want a BLACK WIDOW movie or a MS. MARVEL movie. I want a BLACK PANTHER movie or a LUKECAGE/IRON FIST movie. Disney has made it clear that what they’re interested in is “tentpole” movies, which suggests they won’t green light a movie unless they think it can be a massive financial success. I think there’s plenty of room for smaller successes. I would highly doubt the Marvel/Disney brain trust thinks a PANTHER or WIDOW movie can’t be successful, but I’m guessing some bean counter is telling them it can’t be super successful. My hope is that GUARDIANS and ANT-MAN pave the way for other, “lesser” heroes to get the big screen treatment.

DF: Far as I’m concerned, Robert Downey, Jr. is to The Marvel Cinematic Universe what Stan Lee is to the Comic Book Marvel Universe. Agree or disagree?

MB: Totally agree in the sense that he’s the charismatic face of the company that sets the tone for fans and leads the way for other actors. Every single time I see Downey talking about Iron Man and the Avengers it warms my heart. Here’s a guy who’s loving the fact that he’s in the middle of this massive, ridiculous franchise. As great as it is that Sam Jackson and Clark Gregg appear in multiple films, Downey is the guy that revs the engines of the populace because he’s the guy playing the guy whose name is on the poster.

 

DF: Your favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe movie? Your least favorite?

MB: Favorite is AVENGERS and least favorite is IRON MAN 2, but I still enjoy IM2. It’s not a bad movie, it’s just not as good a movie as the other MCU productions. The most confounding MCU movie to me, though, is CAPTAIN AMERICA, which I really enjoy but stop just short of loving. It’s a movie where the opening half (the origin) is really well told, but it’s also the half of the movie I’m less interested in. I’m more interested in WWII Cap and the Howling Commandos, but that half of the film feels rushed and forced.

DF: Is THE AVENGERS The Greatest Superhero Movie Ever Made?

MB: Yes. There are a handful of genuinely great superhero movies – THE DARK KNIGHT, SPIDER-MAN 2 – but THE AVENGERS is Zeus and everything else lives in its shadow. If nothing else, what sets THE AVENGERS apart is that it’s FUN. I’m all for some serious drama, but I like some genuine thrills and laughs in my superhero movies, too, and AVENGERS provides the perfect mix of action, drama, and humor. I hate stories about superheroes that don’t want to be superheroes (especially since DARK KNIGHT and SPIDEY 2 have done that story so well), and at no point in AVENGERS do I feel like these people hate their lives or who they are or want to go back to being a guy who works a regular job. The switch in the character of Bruce Banner in AVENGERS is the key to Whedon’s entire approach, I think. The line where Banner says, “I got low. I put a bullet in my mouth and the other guy spit it out,” is both the single heaviest line ever delivered in a superhero movie and a symbol of a hero getting over the negative and embracing who he is and what that allows his life to be.

 

DF: Please explain The Avengers Reactions and why you decided to do them.

MB: The Avengers Reactions are individual reviews of the 11 main characters in the movie (the Avengers, Fury, Hill, Loki, and Thanos/Chitauri). At the simplest level, they exist because I wrote a 4,500 word review of the movie and had barely scratched the surface of what I wanted to say. In a larger sense, though, I suppose it evolved into a reaction to people who tried to claim that this was just a dumb, loud action movie. That’s preposterous. There will not be a single script this year that’s written with more skill than Joss Whedon’s re-write of Zak Penn’s script. There might be more enjoyable scripts out there, but there’s so much characterization in this film that so many people simply refused to see that it became something of a challenge to give all of that characterization its day in the sun.

As long as it took to write them, it’s the single best thing I’ve done at the site. The reviews are massively popular and have generated a wide range of comments.

DF: Which Avenger would you like to see in AVENGERS 2? Which Avenger should never appear in any future AVENGERS movies?

MB: Should appear? Black Panther, Black Panther, Black Panther. I would make T’Challa and Wakanda a main background plot for Phase 2, and have the Panther play a big role as the outsider-who-becomes-an-insider in AVENGERS 2. Or, if Phase 2 is about building up the cosmic angle, I’d have Phase 3 build up the “Kings” angle, and start working in T’Challa and Namor.

Actually, yeah. Yeah. Phase 3 = Wakanda vs. Atlantis vs. Attilan with the Avengers caught in the middle.

How awesome would that be?

As for characters who should never appear? There’s really no single Avenger that I think couldn’t add something to the franchise. Even poorly regarded Avengers like Starfox, Deathcry, and Rage could work in a re-tooled sense in the movies. In a strictly Avengers context, however, I really have little desire to see traditional non-Avengers join the team. Does that mean I don’t want to see Dr. Strange or Wolverine or Spider-Man or the Fantastic Four walk into an Avengers movie? No. But I’d like to see the movies work through all of the traditional Avengers they haven’t included, yet.

I do think we can see a future of AVENGERS where the current roster is rotated out and makes way for a new team. I want to see AVENGERS 4 or 7 with a Hawkeye led team of Scarlet Witch, Vision, Quicksilver, Tigra -

Look, I want a WEST COAST AVENGERS movie. There’s nothing wrong with that.

DF: Do you think we’ve had enough SPIDER-MAN movies?

MB: Have we had enough Spider-Man movies? No.

Have we had enough origin movies? Yes.

I love AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. I think it’s superior to the first and third Raimi movies and almost equal to the second, which I consider one of the greatest superhero movies ever made. In my review of AMAZING, I talk about how the film is hurt by the Raimi movies so recently having told the origin and so I didn’t see the need for the origin, but I also talked about how I liked this origin quite a bit. Peter is a much more realistic character this time around, and the acting and directing is, across the board, better.

I’m just not sure if we needed to see it, and the film does drop the narrative ball a bit in the second half of the film, but on the whole, if I’m watching only one Spider-Man movie again, it’s SPIDER-MAN 2. But after that, it’s AMAZING.

 

Spidey has such a great rogues gallery, though, that it’s disappointing AMAZING didn’t push in a completely new direction. We don’t need the origin and we don’t need Norman Osborn. We still haven’t seen Rhino or Electro or Scorpion or the Sinister Six or the Vulture or Shocker or Hobgoblin or Morbius or Mysterio or-

I mean, Kraven the Hunter should have his own darn movie at this point.

If Sony gave me a Spidey trilogy, I’d build it around the idea of Peter as a college student who’s working at the Bugle to help make ends meet. I wouldn’t even make a lot of them important characters, but I’d have a scene where we see Rhino tearing up a bank or Shocker shaking down an airline. I’d want to create that sense of a bigger universe. I’d have as many villains running around as possible. I’d turn the melodrama way, way down and concentrate on the fun. My focus would be:

Film #1: Mysterio, which leads to Ned Leeds and Eddie Brock screwing up a story that Peter and Ben Urich get right. I’d make the Bugle crew the main supporting cast in the film, and I’d have Peter caught in a romantic triangle with Betty Brant at the Bugle and Felicia Hardy at college and totally play up the good girl/bad girl dynamic.

Film #2: Hobgoblin, with Leeds enacting his revenge on two fronts: as Leeds working for a rival paper and, which leads to Venom getting out (but no rerun of the Petey/symbiote angle), which leads to an ending that has Venom beating the puss out of Spidey and standing there triumphant, like the T-Rex at the end of Jurassic Park 2. If we’re going to use Venom, I think we need to see the pure, raw power of the symbiote. No Emo Pete, no Topher Grace, just a menacing evil using Eddie Brock. Heck, I might not even want Eddie Brock. I might just have the symbiote unleashed as this unstoppable alien entity who can glom onto humans when it wants information.

Film #3: Kraven, who’s been the background character in the previous two movies, just watching and accumulating information through his half-brother the Chameleon, coming to NYC to capture all of them: Mysterio, Spidey, Venom, Hobgoblin, Rhino, Vulture … and the villains would be running scared out of their mind at this seemingly regular human in a lion vest taking them out one by one, and while this is happening, Pete’s in the hospital, recovering from his thrashing at Venom’s hand. Maybe Kraven is even making a big spectacle out of this – he’s the latest superstar hero – and one of the villains (maybe even Chameleon in disguise) comes to Pete in the hospital and says, “This dude is bad news. He’s hooked up with some nutjob scientist who’s torturing these villains,” which appeals to Pete’s moral decency, so Pete pulls himself out of that bed to throw down with Kraven. I might even adapt “Kraven’s Last Hunt” for this film’s second half.

DF: I myself prefer the movie incarnation of X-MEN to the Marvel Comics version. Agree or disagree?

MB: I think the movie version is superior to lots of different versions of the X-Men over the years (especially over the last 25 years), but it’s not my favorite version of the X-Men. I’m all in for the Wein/Claremont/Cockrum/Byrne/Smith/JRJR X-Men of the ’70s and early ’80s, but cinematically, I think Singer was smart to pare the story down to the essentials of Magneto vs. Xavier, with Wolverine caught in the middle. I really love X2, and the moments between Logan, Bobby, Rogue, and Pyro leading to the incident at Bobby’s parent’s house is the highlight of the franchise. Wolverine’s ascension to team leader when the mansion is being attacked by Stryker is phenomenal to watch, and Brian Cox is amazing. I love FIRST CLASS, too, and that movie probably comes closest to the vibe that I really want to see in X-Men movies, and I think X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE is woefully under-appreciated.

All of that being said, there’s a lot in those movies that I don’t like. The films feel a bit too random in how they’ve been assembled and I feel like the casting is driving the movies in spots, instead of the characters driving the casting. And I really, really cannot stand Famke Janssen’s Jean Grey or fathom why James Marsden is used so little, when he’s delivering the best performance in the franchise after Jackman.

DF: In my opinion we would not have had The Marvel Cinematic Universe without the success of the BLADE movies. Agree or disagree?

MB: BLADE is not given nearly enough credit for its role in the evolution of superhero movies. But … I think BLADE’s influence is felt much more in the DARK KNIGHT trilogy than in the MCU. Certainly, BLADE is the fulcrum movie that got us from the Burton/Schumacher Batman films to the Spider-Man, X-Men, and eventually MCU movies. In a very real sense, BLADE showed that superhero movies didn’t need superheroes and they didn’t need to be bright and positive. They could be dark, they could be bloody, they could be R-rated, they could have a dry humor, and they could be incredibly stylish. In that sense, I think BLADE really paves the way for the Nolan DARK KNIGHT films (and not just because the BLADE movies helped David Goyer cut his teeth and develop his style), which are much more Bruce Wayne movies than Batman movies.

What the MCU really owes BLADE is that sense of personal style. THOR, CAPTAIN AMERICA, IRON MAN, INCREDIBLE HULK … all of them feel like superhero movies yet all of them feel like individual worlds, too. That variety is incredibly important, and we owe a lot of that to BLADE and BLADE 2. Ironically, BLADE: TRINITY is the most superhero of all the films yet it’s also clearly the worst.

DF: Why is it so hard to do a truly great FANTASTIC FOUR movie?

MB: Wrong director, wrong actors, wrong stories.

The Corman FF movie is the best out of the lot and it really has no chance with audiences because the production value is so relatively weak compared to the big budget Tim Story movies. The Story movies, though … look, I love what Michael Chiklis and Chris Evans bring to Ben and Johnny, but the stories are absolute disasters and Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, and Julian McMahon are playing awful characters in awful ways. A FF movie should be about family, fun, and adventure, but these characters spend the bulk of both movies not wanting to be superheroes. I think RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER is the single dumbest superhero movie made; there’s a scene in which the fate of the world is at stake and the FF are stopped in their tracks by a soldier with a handgun.

It boggles my mind.

 

DF: You and I seem to be in the minority in our shared opinions that the TV Movie versions of DOCTOR STRANGE and NICK FURY, AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D. are really good and should be appreciated for what they are. Why is that you think?

MB: The DOCTOR STRANGE movie was a total revelation. I’d never heard anything about it, but it’s darn good and a really good example of how to do smart horror in a weekly format. Of all the 1970s Marvel TV movies (discounting the INCREDIBLE HULK, which was turned into an excellent series), I’m most disappointed we didn’t get more DOCTOR STRANGE. As for the Hoff’s Nick Fury movie, I mean, I don’t know how you can’t love it unless you take life way more seriously than I’m comfortable taking it. The movie is so much fun and Hoff so totally throws himself into the role that it totally wins me over. It’s like watching a dime novel version of a spy story come to life.

These are hard movies to find, but if you can track them down they are well worth your time.

DF: Where can we get a copy of your fine book and read the rest of your wonderful reviews?

MB: My Amazon Author’s Page has info on all my books, including MARVEL COMICS ON FILM, which is available in paperback and for the Kindle. All of my reviews (and there’s roughly 750 of them now) and more info on all my books are at the Atomic Anxiety website

Derrick Ferguson: Time for us to go back into The Ferguson Theater but before we do is there anything else we need to know?

Mark Bousquet: I’m hard at work on the next installment of GUNFIGHTER GOTHIC, my weird western, which I’m hoping will see publication in January 2013. My next published project, though, will be STUFFED ANIMALS FOR HIRE: THE DECEMBER OPERATION, a kid’s novella which answers the question that no one was asking: What would the A-Team be like if Winnie the Pooh was a member? Or what would happen to the Hundred Acre Wood if Hannibal Smith was dropped down into the middle of the forest?

It’s weird and wild and represents what I love about writing – the unexpected turn. I’ve written a kid’s book in the past (ADVENTURES OF THE FIVE: THE COMING OF FROST, which is still my favorite book I’ve written) and thought this would take a similar course, but in a very real way, it’s ended up being the single most pulp thing I’ve written. The action is non-stop, and somehow in my desire to write a playful ode to all of those early ’80s action shows that I love (the A-Team, Magnum, PI, Hardcastle and McCormick, the Dukes of Hazzard), it also feels totally like a Steranko Nick Fury comic.

 

Let’s All Go To The Lobby With: PARKER STANFIELD

Derrick Ferguson: Who Is Parker Stanfield?

Parker Stanfield: I’m an actor/writer/director of independent film. I’ve only got one feature under my belt, but I look forward to making more. Coffee is my poison of choice, YouTube is how I scramble my brain, and I have an obsessive love for Radiohead.

DF: Where do you live and what do you do to earn your daily bread?

PS: I live in Fernley, NV, which is a short way from Reno. I’ve been working part time at a sushi bar called Sushi Moto, and I enjoy the company of the people I work with.

DF: Your particular passion is movies. What’s the very first movie you can remember seeing in a movie theater?

PS: I went to see a lot of Disney films when I was little and the very first of them that I remember seeing was The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I ate it up and I remember the villain being rather terrifying despite me being too young to get the religious context of his character.

DF: When did you decide you wanted to be a film maker?

PS: When I was in kindergarten, I had a fascination with dinosaurs. Knowing this, I saw a double VHS copy of Jurassic Park. My mom bought it for me, and I was absolutely amazed with what I saw. I popped in the second cassette thinking it was another movie, when what I got was a Behind the Scenes documentary. That was my first exposure to the concept of filmmaking, and watching Spielberg working on the movie made me think “This guy is so cool! I want his job.” So that’s when I decided I wanted to make films.

DF: What do you think about the movies being produced today?

PS: Despite the whole remake problem with the genre of horror (which admittedly has potential to result in a good end result), I feel that there’s a lot of creativity happening on both indie and big budget films. There’s a lot of films out there that are admittedly familiar, but the people who are making them want to do things with said films that result in a cinematic experience that feels unique to me. No Country for Old Men is one of those experiences. Something that perplexed me (in a good way) when I saw it in the theater. But there are other films that are different, but in that they are finding creative ways to be offensive to its audience. Take your pick of Michael Bay’s filmography.

DF: Who’s the best director working right now? Who’s the worst?

PS: My personal favorite for at least four years now has been Paul Thomas Anderson. I could talk about this guy for hours. Hard Eight is one of the only movies I’ve seen that makes Reno seem awesome in a strange sort of way. In my opinion, he’s never made an objectively bad film yet. Sure, some people seem to be confused by what he makes, but every film he does is a perfect practice in poignancy and humor, and he clearly knows what he’s doing. His upcoming film, The Master, is my most anticipated of the year.

Now the worst is someone I’ve had the displeasure of discovering quite recently. There’s a lot of bad filmmakers out there. James Ngyun (Birdemic), Uwe Boll, Tommy Wiseau. As a filmmaker myself however, it’s hard for me to say that I would want to take away any filmmaker’s joy. I like making movies and they like making movies. It’s hard for me to say they shouldn’t be able to do that. The lone exception is Lucifer Valentine. Stupid name, an even worse excuse for a director. The term Torture Porn is more appropriate a term for his movies than anything Hollywood claims to be torture porn.  I tried to watch his first film, Slaughtered Vomit Dolls and after 20 minutes of offensive imagery, dumb sound editing (every piece of dialogue is played slowly to make it sound Satanic) and overall failure, I wanted to take away any joy Mr. Valentine could ever experience. To give you an idea, he is considered the creator of the “Vomit Gore” genre. I wish I was making that up. Not only does he make terrible films, but his personal life’s story is so horrible, I don’t know how someone even gave this guy a camera to begin with.

DF: You’ve written and directed your own independent film.  Tell us about it. 

PS: It’s called AT THE ZOO, and it’s a crime film based on the music of Simon and Garfunkel. In particular, it’s my personal take on Richard Cory, the rich man everyone knows in both the poem and song. It centers around Richard in his early 20s as a member of a group of criminals known as the Baby Drivers. One morning, Richard finds his girlfriend dead and he is in shock, as he saw her as his one way to regaining the happiness he lost as a child. He goes on to perpetuate a series of events involving murder and characters named after various songs from the duo. Along the way, we follow a kid named Arthur, who Richard met the night of Emily’s death, and the story gets more complex from there. The film is meant to appeal to fans of folk music (which is mighty prevalent here in the Reno area), and people who love crime flicks with good dialogue, which I hope that I’ve accomplished.

DF: In our private discussions you’ve indicated that AT THE ZOO is an intensely personal project for you. Can you go into some detail about how?

PS: The best way I can put it is comparing the idea of the film to someone who’s a fan of a particular rock group and they come on camera (I’ve seen this in a lot of music documentaries so bear with me) and say “This band saved my life.” I feel a similar way to this film. It got me out of a serious depression and writing it was an important experience for me. I had written a script before, but it was far from an original idea, so I was merely doing it as an exercise. Maybe I will get to make that film someday, but I don’t see it happening unless I make a smash hit first. But AT THE ZOO seemed plausible to me and that gave me a sense of hope that I could do something with my life. So there’s been a lot of emotional baggage that has been associated with the film. It’s my baby.

DF: What were the major obstacles you encountered while making your film?

PS: It was a one man crew, and it was a struggle to get made. Particularly, I had to make a lot of phone calls over the six months of shooting, and I can’t even count the amount of times that an actor had something else to do and cancelled on me. Either that or they flat out said “I can’t do it this weekend. I have chores to do.” It definitely comes across in the film, but it was really difficult getting X number of actors together to do a scene.

DF: What is the most satisfying thing about being a director?

PS: Whenever I work on a movie, I love the simple task of setting up the composition of a shot. I love moving the camera especially. Sometimes it can be rather tricky to get the shot I intended, but most of the time, we improvise and end up getting a shot that actually looks better than the intended did in my head. Now, to anyone reading, the end product doesn’t exactly look like The Godfather, as it was shot on DV tape, but I’m particularly happy with how AT THE ZOO looks considering our no budget approach.

DF: What did you enjoy most: the actual shooting of the film or the editing process?

PS: I don’t like picking favorites, but since both the shooting and post production process were pretty much done simultaneously, I had a little bit more fun shooting than editing. Editing is fun for me, but doing it by myself didn’t feel as good as interacting with the actors. A few of them had a lot of suggestions for their character that I loved, and I was glad to see them through the LCD screen of the camera, telling them where to stand and all that. To give you an idea, I had a blast shooting the scenes at the school. There’s a scene in the middle of the film in particular that was a blast. Chasing a character with the camera on a steadicam made for a fun shooting day. We had so much fun, we even made a sketch called “The Plight of a Genius” which can be found on both YouTube and the film’s DVD.  That kind of fun can’t quite be done while working at your computer.

DF: Do you consider yourself an “actor’s director” and what does that phrase mean to you?

PS: I think it’s a little too early for me to categorize myself as an actor’s director. I definitely want to be that, but I don’t know if my experience with AT THE ZOO was enough to justify me calling myself that. There were two actors in particular (I’d care not to mention their names, but you could probably guess when you see the film) that I had trouble getting good enough performances out of, and that’s why I put them in the roles I put them in. The actors that I wanted to be good though, I felt were damn good. Eli Shumway, who plays Richard Cory, is a funny guy and a talented performer. He did the character justice, which makes it a shame that I can’t put him in another movie as he moved to CA before the movie even wrapped.

Tom Plunkett and Tom Jacobs (Harry and Richard’s father, Devon) were both perfect for their roles too. I kind of like to depend on my writing of the character to get an actor to do a good job than me telling them how to feel in a scene. I feel that the character needs to be readable to the actor before I even bother filming them. I did get a chance to tell an actor to “tone it down” or “give it more of this” if I felt like a scene wasn’t working. I always like doing that, so I’m partly there at least. To me, the term “actor’s director” is really good to describe people like the Coen Brothers or David Fincher. People who take an actor who’s for the most part adequate, and get amazing performances out of them. When an actor works with an actor’s director, they’ll end up being a better actor for it. Someone who’s not an actor’s director, is probably more interested in spectacle than story anyway to care about whether or not the actor did a good job.

DF: What have you got planned for your next movie?

PS: Since finishing the first drafts of AT THE ZOO, I’ve worked on a few other screenplays. A ghost story about a priest, a film about angels with superpowers, and one where a junkie makes a deal with the devil. All three of those have religious elements to them, so I’ve been dying to make all of them. But the one I want to do next is something completely different from my first, in that my little brothers can watch it. So what I came up with was FREDRICK, a puppet road trip movie. It’s about a group of puppets who are unaware that human beings like you and I exist. They live under the iron clad rule of a puppet named Count Goodoo, who claims to be their creator. One of them, Fredrick, finds out that their true creator is a human inventor named Wally Wilson. He and his two friends decide to steal Goodoo’s truck and go on the road trip to find Wilson. It’s much goofier of a script, but I feel like it will be quite a challenge and a lot of fun. I hope to get some new people in to lend the voices, but I know I want to work with Plunkett again.

DF: If somebody wants to see AT THE ZOO, how can they do so?

PS: While the film is sold on DVD, I’ve taken the liberty of posting the entire thing on one big chunk on YouTube and Blip. You guys can watch it for free here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILofie9bmTo

For those who like it enough to buy the DVD ( it comes with an audio commentary), you can find it on Amazon or here:

https://www.createspace.com/323925

I hope you all enjoy it!

DF: What’s a typical Day In The Life of Parker Stanfield like?

PS: Unless I happen to be working, many would find my life pretty mundane, but when I’m not working on movies, I love doing the following things every day. I get my cup of coffee, and immediately boot my computer up. I proceed to go on one big YouTube binge and watch as many videos as possible as the day goes on. I can be rather lazy, but I simply love being entertained by the drama of the internet. For those who might be wondering, Retsupurae (The Mystery Science Theater of bad videos), The Spoony Experiment, and Hellsing920 (who does a series called Reaction and Review where he watches and reviews a movie) are among my favorite video posters. When I feel particularly curious, I watch tutorials about filmmaking, much of which I consider my film school.

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we need to know?

Parker Stanfield: Feel free to look me up on Facebook if you guys want to talk to me about anything. Feedback on the film, questions, suggestions, anything that comes to your mind. I’d like to improve with every film I make, and any criticism would be appreciated.  Those who happen to like AT THE ZOO can go to the fan page and like it here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/At-the-Zoo/248533251847574