Reviews

No Time to Die (R) ★★ 1/2 Chicago Film Festival & Film Fest 919 H360 Podcast

Hi Carl and hello to all of our listeners out there; tonight I’m going to talk about the latest James Bond movie, “No Time to Die,” and two Film Festivals opening this month.

Daniel Craig stars as Bond and has made it clear to all that this is his final film. The director is Cary Joi Fukunaga. Daniel Craig’s performance is incredible, although I wasn’t a fan of the script. The beginning scenes are the best and worth seeing on the big screen; however, the 2 hours 45-minute run-time drags.

Fans will enjoy seeing Bond’s non-stop hand-to-hand combat and his iconic driving skills. There is so much I loved about this film, and there is so much I didn’t like. Here’s the scoop, Anna de Armas’s dress (she’s from “Knives Out”) is to DIE for. Two side slits for kicking and hand-to-hand combat—she stole the show. Sadly, she’s only in about 10 minutes. Daniel Craig shows us more emotion and his ultra-slick Bond skills; Rami Malek’s villain was too blah, and don’t even get me started on the ending.

Side note: I’m a true Bond fan and have met Pierce Bronson in London; he was so cool. Also, I’ve interviewed the director and screenplay writer of “No Time to Die,” Cary Fukunaga, in Chicago in 2011. I admire his work. The film is too long and dragged for me the last 45 minutes.

The Chicago International Film Festival is on now and is showing major films such as “Drive My Car,” a Cannes Winner, and a Toronto Film Festival winner, “Belfast.”

Drive My Car, CIFF-2021
Here’s the full film program for the 57th Chicago International Film Festival. Jane Campion, Kenneth Branagh, Céline Sciamma, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul are just some of the acclaimed directors presenting their latest films in this year’s program alongside such highly anticipated Chicago premieres as “Dune,” “C’mon C’mon,” “The French Dispatch,” and more.

Film Fest 919 starts today, October 18 in Chapel Hill, NC, showing “Spencer” and “King Richard,” “The French Dispatch” and “The Lost Daughter.”I’ll be attending for the week.
Join us as we present the Spotlight Award to Diane Warren, one of our most celebrated songwriters. The evening will include a conversation with Diane moderated by Vanity Fair’s Katey Rich and a high-power laser show choreographed to many of her hit tunes.
Film Fest 919 Tribute to Duane Warren
Some of the hits and notable songs that Warren has written throughout her career includes “Because You Loved Me” (Celine Dion) from Up Close and Personal, “How Do I Live” (Trisha Yearwood) from Con Air and (LeAnn Rimes), “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength” (Whitney Houston), “Can’t Take That Away” (Mariah Carey), “Look Away” (Chicago), “Have You Ever” (Brandy), “Un-Break My Heart” (Toni Braxton), “If I Could Turn Back Time (Cher), “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” (Aerosmith) from Armageddon, “I Was Here” (Beyoncé), “Til It Happens To You” (Lady Gaga) from The Hunting Ground, “Stand Up For Something” (Andra Day and Common) from Marshall, “I’ll Fight” (Jennifer Hudson) from RBG, among many others.
Kristen Stewart: “Spencer”
Will Smith-King Richard

Tickets are on sale now. https://filmfest919.com

Stay Tuned for Updates!

Sarah Knight Adamson© October 18, 2021

The Many Saints of Newark (R) ★★★ H360 Podcast

Tonight, I’m going to talk about the new Soprano movie that stars Michael Gandolfini, the real-life son of James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano. Most of you know that he passed away in 2013.

“The Many Saints of Newark” is a crime drama rated R and is the prequel to the HBO TV series “The Sopranos.” The series first aired in 1999 and ended in 2007 with 6 seasons.

The director is Alan Taylor, with David Chase and Lawrence Konner as screenplay writers. The film takes place during the 60s and 70s in Newark, New Jersey where creator David Chase grew up. We view the grooming of Tony as a teen of a and his family life as a member of a crime family—who in the end has little choice than to continue the traditions. Vera Farmiga as Tony’s mom, is the only parent in the house as dad is away in prison. Mom is ill-equipped to handle her bright son on her own, Tony’s uncles step in, blurring the lines between right and wrong.

The Bottomline, make no mistake, this is a violent film, with race issues and violence toward women. One of the torture scenes, in particular, is overly graphic.

What I especially appreciated was the history lesson of the Newark Riots; I had no recollection of those or the race problems.

Vera Famigina’s performance is award-worthy. I also enjoyed seeing Michael playing his dad’s iconic part of Tony Soprano.

Another plus is viewing Ray Liotta in a double role; yep he plays twin brothers.

Sarah Knight Adamson© October 10, 2021

Check out The Hollywood 360 Radio Network Podcast: https://www.hollywood360radio.com/the-many-saints-of-newark-r-%e2%98%85%e2%98%85%e2%98%85/

 

The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PG-13)★★★ H360 Podcast

Andrew Garfield as “Jim Bakker” and Jessica Chastain as “Tammy Faye Bakker” in the film THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2021 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved

Hi Carl, and hello to all of our listeners out there, tonight I’m going to talk about the film that everyone’s talking about, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” rated PG-13. The film stars Jessica Chastain in an Oscar-worthy performance as Tammy Faye. Her message of love, acceptance, and prosperity her the hallmarks of her gospel life. Tammy Faye’s signature long, black curly eyelashes set her apart and gave her an iconic look she craved.

Andrew Garfield as her husband Jim Bakker, who also gives a riveting performance. We see the rise and fall of televangelists Tammy Faye Bakker and Jim Bakker during the 70s and 80s. They created the world’s largest religious TV broadcasting network named the PLT (Praise the Lord). She’s most known for her long black eyelashes, her crying on TV, her singing voice, and her acceptance of all.

Their lavish lifestyle came to an end when Jim Bakker began breaking the law with his pay-off’s using their religious funds.

The film is directed by Michael Showalter, and it should be noted that Jessica performed all of the songs in the film using her own voice.

The Bottomline? I’m in 3 stars out of for; both leads carry the film from start to finish; we do see Tammy Faye as a younger child, showing us the emotional pain she suffered. Unfortunately, the script is repetitive and doesn’t develop the characters to their fullest extent. Look for Oscar nominations for both.

Thanks for listening in tonight; this is Sarah Knight Adamson, your National film and TV critic for Sarah’s Backstage Pass… I’ll see you next week.

Sarah Knight Adamson©October 3, 2021

Check out the podcast on Hollywood 360 Radio Network: https://www.hollywood360radio.com/the-eyes-of-tammy-faye-pg-13%e2%98%85%e2%98%85%e2%98%85/

Emmy Award Winners, TiFF Winners, No Malice Film Contest H360 Podcast

Hi Carl, and hello to all of our listeners; it’s been a busy week, the TV Emmy Awards were announced, and as we reported, the shows Ted Lasso and the Crown were favorites, and they won. This is also the first time women have swept both of the directing categories in the same year.

The Toronto International Film Festival has wrapped, I screened 16 films. This year’s winner is “Belfast” by Kenneth Branagh; it’s a semi-autobiographical story of growing up in Northern Ireland. Runners up include Jane Campion’s “Power of the Dog” and “Scarborough” by Toronto local filmmakers.

And lastly, the “No Malice short film contest” celebrated their winners last Sunday at Navy Pier, September 19, students ages 11-21 created films. I was honored to serve as one of the jury members. Chaz Ebert CEO of Roger Ebert.com was the host and co-founder of the contest.

No Malice Jury Members with student winners. Navy Pier Chicago, 2021.

Here are a few of Chaz’s opening remarks. “And I have no doubt one day some of the filmmakers here, maybe some of our students from Columbia who are here, or some of the other people who are in this very audience, I promise you that we are going to see them at the Emmys or the Oscars or the Independent Spirit Awards because that’s the spirit that I see in the filmmaking that we have here!”

Chaz Ebert host of No Malice Film Celebration

Thanks for listening in tonight; this is Sarah Knight Adamson your Film and TV critic for Sarah’s Backstage Pass.com.

Sarah Knight Adamson©September 25, 2021

Red Carpet Premiere of Blumhouse’s “Black as Night” Norah Finn Reports

Cast of “Black as Night” Music Box Theater September 21, 2021.

On Tuesday night, September 21st, 20201, moviegoers and horror fanatics alike flocked to the Music Box Theater in Lincoln Park to watch the premiere of “Black as Night.” As part of Blumhouse’s new film series for Prime Video, Welcome to the Blumhouse, “Black as Night” tells the story of a young girl who, along with her friends, must battle an army of bloodsuckers preying on the underprivileged before they take over all of New Orleans. But don’t be mistaken, this movie is not your typical vampire flick. “Black as Night” brings a comedic, coming-of-age spin to the genre of horror, all while commenting on colorism, systemic inequality, and the lasting effects Hurricane Katrina has on the people of New Orleans.

Black as Night director Mariette Lee Go with Norah Finn reporting.

Before the screening, Sarah’s Backstage Pass had the opportunity to talk with a handful of the talented people who made “Black as Night” possible on the red carpet, including director Mariette Lee Go, screenwriter Sherman Payne, and actors Fabrizio Guido, Craig Tate, and Mason Beauchamp.
Here’s what some of them had to say:

Mariette Lee Go: Director

Sarah’s Backstage Pass: I know you’ve been part of the production for another horror movie before (Phobias, 2021), is there anything different about directing horror as opposed to other genres?

Mariette Lee Go: Definitely! Huge difference. My first movie, which has not come out yet, called “Rise,” is based on historical events and things happening now; it was kind of like a real-life horror. And then Phobias is a horror anthology that we did with “Radio Silence,” which is based on their outline of how they do shorts and develop it into a feature. So that was all based on individual stories that we had to figure out a way to put together. And then this one is just your straight, traditional feature horror based on a very classic monster, the vampire. And then my next movie is a musical!
SBP: Oh wow! So much of a difference!

MLG: Right! I love being able to jump genres. I think that my love for horror started at a very, very young age, so it feels like a dream come true to be able to do exactly what I’ve dreamt of as a kid. I’m kind of pinching myself, like, “Oh, is this real life? Oh, okay, cool, this is everything I’ve dreamt of. It’s coming?” And that’s insane.

SBP: And now you’re on the red carpet for your first directed horror movie! That’s amazing!

MLG: I know! I’m like, “what am I doing here” (laughing).

SBP: That’s insane! What’s one horror movie can you remember as a kid that sparked your love for [horror]?

MLG: Oh boy. “The Exorcist.” So, I grew up in a catholic, conservative home. My mom and dad are from the Philippines, and they taught me that demons are real. So, I had this very deep-seated fear of like, “demons are outside your door; they’re everywhere! When I saw “The Exorcist,” I went insane. I could not sleep for so long. My parents – my dad – showed me when I was way too young. So supernatural horrors that have to do with demons, monsters, stuff like that; they keep me up all night, and I love it. If I lose sleep on a horror film, I’m like, “yes; you’ve won, you’ve done well.” But yeah, I just love it. It feels fantastical, and I get to explore and push the envelope when shooting stuff; I love it.

SBP: If there was any specific message you wanted to bring across with your movie, what would you say it’d be?

MLG: There are so many messages within it. As in the lead character, Shawna, it’s a coming-of-age film, and we’re exploring the world through her eyes. One of the most important themes we explored was colorism. She’s a dark-skinned black woman, and she’s coming into her own. She’s very insecure about the way that she looks, the way that she is. She doesn’t think that guys like her; she doesn’t have a voice yet. Throughout the film, she discovers her voice and discovers that the strength is within herself. She comes to love her skin and love herself.

I think what’s really important is to find your inner strength. And when you really come to love yourself, others will fall in line. So, it starts with that.

SBP: Is there any specific directing techniques you used to bring your ideas to life?

MLG: I took a lot of inspiration from everywhere. “30 Days of Night” was a huge inspiration for me. This is a little bit lighter, you know because it’s a coming of age and there’s a lot of jokes in it, but I really took a lot of “30 Days of Night” with the silhouettes and seeing the vampires in the distance, the way that they do the fight scenes. I wanted to go even darker, but I couldn’t. For the audience, and this movie, in particular, it’s just a little bit safer.

We do a portion where we do an animation in it, so I take a lot of inspiration from “Kill Bill,” and I looked at a lot of anime, cartoons, and comic books because I love that animated style. I wanted to explore the history of these sets of vampires.

“Fight Club” was a big inspiration for it, too when he’s doing the hypnotizing, I really imagine the portion of “Fight Club” when he’s like “you’re not your khakis,” and stuff like that. So yeah, there was a lot of inspiration in it, pulling from different types of movies to put this together.

Norah Finn Red Carpet interview with Craig Tate, Actor, “Le Faux,”in “Black as Night.”

Craig Tate: Actor, “Le Faux”

Sarah’s Backstage Pass: Hi Craig, can you tell me a little bit about your character?

Craig Tate: Le Faux is a vampire who’s been around for a very long time, a couple of centuries. He has a way about him where he sees what he wants and goes for what he wants, as cliche as that sounds. He’s exotic; he’s a manipulator; he’s a master of oratory and physical manipulation.

SBP: So, he sounds terrifying.

CT: Yeah (laughing)!

SBP: But if there’s anything you could connect yourself with him to, what would it be?

CT: I’m often told that I have an old soul, and obviously, I’m playing someone that’s been alive for a few hundred years, so I can connect on that. Playing a mythical creature, depending on whatever you believe in – vampires or werewolves – it allows you the space to dive into the child-like imagination.

SBP: What did you have to do in order to prepare for your role? Did you have to research vampires?

CT: As a fan of film, I watch movies 24/7, all day, every week. So, obviously, with COVID-19 and the progression of it, the procession of it, going from March to May to August, I guess reading was just my preparation for it. Just reading as much as I can, taking in as much about the mind as I could, reading the different words of the people who’ve been around longer than I have, much like Le Faux. Maybe he read one to two thousand books,right? So, what to do to get inside the mind of a man that’s been around for a long time is you live like a man that’s been around for a long time.

Norah Finn interviewing Sherman Payne, Screenwriter of “Black as Night.” 2021

Sherman Payne: Screenwriter

SBP: When writing a screenplay or a script, what kind of stories do you like to tell?

Sherman Payne: I like to tell stories about characters. I like to start character-first. I don’t really consider the action or genre before considering what I’m trying to say about the central individual driving the narrative. So, I want to get really in-depth with the character, what makes them tick, what drives them, and how they’re going to carry us through the whole story. So, people-driven stories is probably the best answer.

SBP: Yeah, that’s so interesting! I’ve never heard of that kind of process. Most of the time, people think of the story concept first, and then they narrow it down to the characters, but I think that’s important!

SP: Yeah, a lot of people are obsessed with genres and stuff. A lot of people want to really focus themselves on one way of doing stories, but I think the story working from a character point-of-view is the most important thing, and everything else is icing on the cake.

SP: Exactly! Movies are about people, so it should be important that that’s centralized. Yeah! And I love to write about black people. I’m a fan of all cinema from all different cultures, whether it’s white Americans, or Asian people, or Latino people, but I love to put black people on screen. That’s really a big goal of mine.

SBP: I think that’s really important too. Over the years, we haven’t seen a lot of diversity on camera, and we don’t see many deep, dynamic characters. And a lot of them play on different stereotypes, and it’s extremely harmful to people who are watching and the people making it. So, what did you do to create those characters that have that depth?

SP: Well, it’s all about making sure the characters are fully formed people who are trying to achieve something that we can relate to. I think as long as you do that, as long as they’re not surfaced and shallow and you’re really looking at what makes them tick and giving them something that’s going to drive the story. Sometimes you fall into something that’s stereotypical; look at the actor who played Omar from The Wired that died recently. Omar was a guy who held a shotgun and robbed drug dealers, but he never felt stereotypical because he was written so well, and he had so much depth behind the scenes. So, I’m really about finding that depth for each character and making sure they feel like three-dimensional people before we’re putting them on the screen.

SBP: What do you hope the audience is going to take away from your movie?

SP: Well, the first thing that all people should take away from any movie is that they have fun, that they’re entertained, and they watch a story that they find exciting, surprising. Hopefully, they get some laughs and some thrills along the way. That’s the number one thing. Any other writer who says otherwise doesn’t know what they’re talking about. You have to entertain the audience; you have to tell a great story.
But beyond that, I think there’s some great social messaging in this movie, and I hope that people start to think about how we treat people in our society, the people who are really vulnerable. I hope that people consider that. I hope people consider the specific things that happened in New Orleans, throughout history, but also in the last 20 years or so with some of the problems they’ve had and the mismanagement from the government… I hope people consider all that stuff.

“Black as Night” will be available for streaming on Prime Video starting October 1st as a part of Blumhouse’s Welcome to the Blumhouse movie installation.

PHOTO CREDIT: Shalyn Delhaes

Posted by Sarah Knight Adamson© September 24, 2021

The 46th Toronto International Film Festival–The 20 Top Films

The 46th Toronto International Film Festival has wrapped, and I was pleased to have viewed 20 films. Surprisingly, the documentaries scored high on my list, as I enjoyed the films “The Rescue, “Julia,” “Jagged,” and “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over.”

Director Antoine Fuqua’s narrative, portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal in the nail-biting film “The Guilty,” won me over as my favorite film of TIFF-2021. This one-person show is riveting from the first frame until the credit’s role—with Gyllenhaal commanding our attention.

Michael Showalter’s “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” garnered outstanding performances by both Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield, telling a tale of greed and dishonesty.

Stephen Chbosky’s adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical “Dear Evan Hansen” was a joy to view as songs are woven through the film shedding light on essential teen topics. Tony winner Ben Platt portrays Evan, with supporting cast Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, Kaitlyn Dever, Amandla Stenberg, and Nik Dodani.

(from left) Evan Hansen (Ben Platt) and Jared Kalwani (Nik Dodani) in Dear Evan Hansen, directed by Stephen Chbosky.

Below you’ll find the list of films I screened and also 12 films that were not available via screening links.

1. “The Guilty”
2. “Julia Child”
3. “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over”
4. “Jagged”
5. “The Rescue”
6. The Eyes of Tammy Faye”
7. Dear Evan Hansen”
8. “Violet”
9. “The Electrical Life of Louis Wain”
10. “The Mad Women’s Ball”

11. “All My Puny Sorrows”
12.” I’m Your Man”
13. “Murina”
14. “Scarborough”
15. “The Daughter”
16. “The Pink Cloud”
17. “True Things”
18. “Ali & Ava”
19. “The Good House”
20. “I’m Your Man”

The following films were not available during TIFF-2021, which is too bad, as I would have enjoyed watching all of these, they are in alphabetical order: “Belfast,” “Bergman Island,” “Colin In Black & White,” “Drive My Car,” “Dune,” “Encounter,” “Last Night in Soho,” Memoria,” “Spencer,” “”The Humans,” The Power of the Dog” and “The Worst Person in the World.” I look forward to reporting on the remaining films as soon as they are available.

Attending the live Q&A with Kristen Stewart as she discussed her new film “Spencer,” was a highlight, as the conversation painted an in-depth look into her portrayal of Lady Diana.

Sarah Knight Adamson© September 20, 2021

‘No Malice Film Contest’ My Jury Experience

Photo credit: Chuck Osgood, RogerEbert.com

On January 29, 2021, I was contacted by Chaz Ebert to consider being on a panel of judges to judge film entries of 3 -7 minutes long for the NO MALICE FILM CONTEST for youth and young adults in Illinois. Chaz sponsored the event through The Ebert Foundation, along with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation. The contest’s purpose is to encourage Illinois youth and young adults to express their thoughts about race through their film to promote healing. The name of the contest is inspired by Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, where he urged us to end slavery, rebuild the nation, and bind up our wounds with malice toward none and charity for all.

No Malice Film Contest Jury Members-2021

As a former school teacher, my thoughts were many, first and foremost—what a brilliant idea to begin teaching cultural and racial differences through children. And better yet, those same children actually creating their own narratives as seen through their eyes. When a child researches and creates a project of their own, something remarkable begins to happen—it’s the light switch that all teachers strive for—namely ‘intrinsic motivation.’ Yes, there were prizes attached, which could be viewed as motivation, although, to see their personal project through to the end, a child typically becomes invested.

Creating a film to be judged continues the skills of synthesis, analysis, application, and finally, the highest level of critical thinking—evaluation. Not to mention the process of editing, filming, and critiquing their own work. The icing on the cake here is the celebration where all are invited to view the top three winners of each group, and hear the creator’s purpose, thus continuing the learning process. You can only imagine my adulation and excitement at the conclusion of the celebration—as these children will begin to see how we should genuinely treat others in our world, the nine-month process time was worth the wait.

No Malice Film Contest winners-2021, RogerEbert.com

Young filmmakers between the ages of 11 and 21 were invited to create short films exploring and promoting racial healing. The Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation helped run the contest and selected the winners in three age groups. The project was funded through the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation with a grant from Healing Illinois, a racial healing initiative of the Illinois Department of Human Services in partnership with The Chicago Community Trust.

L-R: Sarah Knight Adamson and Chaz Ebert with Columbia Film Students Cade Martsching, Jennifer Fenstermaker, Ally Peggs, Shalyn Delhaes, Norah Finn and Cassandra Daviswith.

Students competed as individuals or in groups in three age brackets: 11-14, 15-18, and 19-21. Live-action films must be between three minutes and seven minutes long. The minimum length for animated films is 45 seconds. Cash prizes were awarded at a red-carpet celebration at the Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois, on September 19, 2021. First-place winners in each age bracket received $2,000; second-place winners in each age bracket received $1,000, and third-place winners in each age bracket received $500. The winning films will also be shown at the Ebertfest Film Festival in Urbana-Champaign at the University of Illinois. Illinois schools will use the films, and supplemental curriculum created by educators, to talk about race and the harmful impact of bias and injustice.

The entire Panel of Judges was tasked with judging the entries based on how they addressed the issue of racial healing in creative, engaging, and informative ways.

L-R: Sarah Knight Adamson and Chaz Ebert with Columbia Film Students Cade Martsching, Jennifer Fenstermaker, Ally Peggs ,Shalyn Delhaes, Norah Finn and Cassandra Daviswith.

The Panel of Judges was divided into three groups: Group One previewed and rated the films submitted by contestants in the age group 11-14. This group was led by Chief Judge Nell Minow and included: Simon Abrams, Hallin Burgan, Sonia Evans, Veronique Hester, Collin Souter and Gerardo Valero. Winning first place in that category was Niko Robinson’s “Be the GOOD. Second place was won by London Shields’ “Racial Healing in Oppressed Communities.” In third place, Abigail Eldridge’s “We the People” and Jessica Wong’s “Racial Justice”tied.

Group Two: Ages 15-18 was led by Chief Judge Niani Scott and included: Sarah Knight Adamson, Sue-Ellen Chitunya, Jordan Csigi, Matt Fagerholm, Brandon Towns, and Jason Yue. Winning first place in that category was Kenya Apongule’s “Hush,” followed by Sean Emmanuel Atienza’s “Puzzle” in second place and Azalee Irving’s “Interracial Relationships” in third place.

Group Three: Ages 19-21 was led by Chief Judge Robert Daniels and included: Mark Dujsik, Jana Monji, Omer Mozaffar, Ezra Pelaez, Ibad Shah, and Wendy Wolverton. Winning first place in that category was Anna Lee Ackermann’s “As We Are Planted,” followed by Michael Proctor’s “A Call to Fight lies: Practical Steps to Fight Injustice” in second place and Zaknafein Luken’s “Hate Is Not Welcome Here” in third place.

Chaz wrote, “I feel privileged to witness the blossoming of these young filmmakers as they thoughtfully use art to convey ideas and principles of empathy, kindness, and community. Working with them gave me a sense of hope for our future. I along, with Angela Staron of ALPLF and our Judges Panel were constantly heartened as we watched not only the films that ultimately won the contest, but all of the submissions. We even had to disqualify some films because they came from other countries, or were submitted by contestants who didn’t meet other qualifications. But even in those instances, we previewed films that telegraphed that some of these young people today will certainly become compassionate leaders of tomorrow.”

“Racial healing is a huge topic of today, and honestly, it’s been a topic for several decades! It’s time for a change, and it’s time for people to realize that we can do this together. There needs to be changed; it’s long overdue.”
Chaz also wanted to show people that racism is a form of hate that is taught. It is a learned behavior. Some people are raised to learn to hate certain races and cultures while others are not. Everyone isn’t a racist. There are definitely some great people that can move past those behaviors and love people for who they are, regardless of their race or ethnicity.

The celebration at Navy Pier was one of smiles abound! The word pride can be used to describe the look on many of the young filmmakers’ faces, including their parents. I invited my intern from Sarah’s Backstage Pass, Norah Finn, to the event as she’s a film student and Senior at Columbia College in Chicago; she invited five of her classmates. The lively discussion afterwards, focused on the incredible creativity of the films, and the heightened sense of awareness to the topic at hand.

Chaz Ebert opening remarks, Sarah K. Adamson photo.

Chaz Ebert hosted the event; she told lively stories about differences and likenesses and quoted Abraham Lincoln, “The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise—with the occasion…think anew, and act anew.” She told us that Abraham Lincoln, in his second inaugural address, sought to heal the nation’s racial wounds after the Civil War “with malice toward none, with charity for all.” Illinois schools will use the films, and supplemental curriculum created by educators, to talk about race and the harmful impact of bias and injustice.

She noted how seriously the filmmakers took the notion that because everything on earth is connected to everything else, it truly matters how we treat one another. She hopes the films will cause viewers to pause and open their hearts to the messages of hope and unity artfully conveyed by these young people. As their films show, acts of empathy, compassion, and kindness can change the narrative in our everyday lives. I, too, echo these sentiments and was honored to be called to the stage and be introduced.

Chaz introduces the judges in attendance, Norah Finn Photo Credit.

Chaz invited the Seminar Instructors: Shawn Taylor and Liliane Calfee, and the Jury Members: Sarah Knight Adamson, Sue-Ellen Chitunya, Veronique Hester, Omer M. Mozaffar, and Niani Scott to join her onstage to take a bow.

Sarah Knight Adamson@ September 20, 2021

Check out my coverage of the No Malice contest on my radio podcast here: https://sarahsbackstagepass.com/emmy-award-winners-tiff-winners-no-malice-film-contest-h360-podcast/

To view the Navy Pier Celebration, click here: https://www.rogerebert.com/chazs-blog/no-malice-film-celebration-to-be-held-september-19th-at-the-yard-at-chicago-shakespeare-theater

To find out more about the contest, click here:https://filmfreeway.com/NoMaliceFilmContest

Toronto International Film Festival 2021 Dionne Warwick and Julia H360

The 44th Toronto International Film Festival is here!

Tonight, I will talk about two films that I screened at the Toronto International Film Festival.

First up, the inspiring documentary film “Julia.” Most know that Julia Child was a trailblazer for women as the majority of chefs back in 1951 were males. After graduating from the French cooking school Le Cordon Bleu, she began working in television with her own show called “The French Chef.”

The film is directed by Julie Cohen and Betsy West, best known for their award-winning documentary RBG. Julia is a celebration of one of the most important icons of the 20th century.

Next up, another excellent documentary, “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over,” I’ve always been a fan of the soulful singer of pop music, who’s also known for her rhythm and blues.

I had no idea Dionne Warwick and had so many hit records along with her tireless humanitarian work.

Dionne serves as a positive role model for all. Dave Wooley and David Heilbroner direct the film.

Other standout Toronto films, The Rescue, Jagged, The Good House, Spencer, Belfast, and The Power of the Dog. Next week I’ll talk about the winning films in Toronto.

Thanks for listening in tonight; this is Sarah Knight Adamson; be sure to check out Julia when it opens in November.

Emmy Awards Nominations Part 2- H360 Radio

Hi Carl, and hello to all of our listeners out there; tonight I’d like to talk more about the 73rd TV Emmy Awards that will be airing Sunday, September 19. The show will air on CBS and Paramount+.

Last week I mentioned the Best Comedy Series, and now I’d like to talk about the nominations for Best Actor and Actress in a Comedy Series: The Lead actress Nominations are Aidy Bryant, “Shrill” Kaley Cuoco, “The Flight Attendant” Allison Janney, “Mom” Tracee Ellis Ross, “black-ish” Jean Smart “Hacks.”

In the Lead actor, comedy nominations, we have:
Anthony Anderson, “black-ish” Michael Douglas “The Kominsky Method” William H. Macy, “Shameless” Jason Sudeikis “Ted Lasso” and Kenan Thompson, “Kenan.”

Here’s a clip of Jason Sudeikis, who plays an American college football coach that takes a job in England coaching a Premier Football league.

Here’s an Emmy Category I’m really looking forward to Outstanding Limited Series; the nominations are: Mare of Easttown, I May Destroy You, WandaVision, The Queen’s Gambit, and The Underground Railroad.

Stay tuned for next week’s final coverage the night before the Emmy’s as I’ll talk about my predictions for winners. Thanks for listening in tonight; this is Sarah Knight Adamson, your film and TV critic.

Sarah Knight Adamson@ September 12, 2021

46th Toronto International Film Festival 28 Most Anticipated Films

As an accredited press member covering the 46th Toronto International Film Festival, I approach my viewing upon various factors. Of course, personal interest typically pushes its way through in selection and script, director, and cast. Here, I’ve chosen 28 films that are on my radar; the top ten will be featured.

The most anticipated film by director Michael Showalter is based on the famous televangelists Tammy Faye Baker (Jessica Chastain) and her former husband, Jim Baker (Andrew Garfield), in the film, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.” I have memories of viewing the PTL (Praise the Lord) TV show when it was broadcast in the 70s and 80s—Tammy’s charismatic, dramatic personality and heavy black mascara tears were the draw.

The opening night gala presentation of Stephen Chbosky’s adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical “Dear Evan Hansen” also ranks high as I attended the live theatrical performance in Chicago. Tony winner Ben Platt portrays Evan, with supporting cast Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, Kaitlyn Dever, Amandla Stenberg, and Nik Dodani.

Top 10 Anticipated Films:

“Belfast”

“Bergman Island,”

“Dear Evan Hansen”

“Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over”

“Dune”

“Last Night in Soho”

“Spencer”

“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”

“The Guilty”

“The Power of the Dog”

Next 18 Anticipated Films:

“All My Puny Sorrows”

“Colin In Black & White”

“Drive My Car”

“Encounter”

“Jagged”

“Memoria”

“Mothering Sunday”

“One Second”

“Petite Maman”

“Paris, 13th District”

“Scarborough”

“Silent Night”

“The Good House”

“The Humans”

“The Mad Women’s Ball”

“The Rescue”

“The Worst Person in the World.”

“Violet”

Sarah Knight Adamson@September 9, 2021

Emmy Awards Nominations H360 Podcast

Hi Carl and hello to all of our listeners out there; tonight, I’d like to talk about the 73rd TV Emmy Awards that will be airing Sunday, September 19. The show will be broadcast live from Los Angeles, California, on CBS and Paramount+.

Cedric, the Entertainer, will host the Ceremony. This year the most-nominated show “Ted Lasso,” a comedy series on Apple TV+, received 20 nominations, breaking the previous record set by the show “Glee.” 36

Comedy Series nominations are:

Blackish (ABC), Cobra Kai (Netflix), Emily in Paris (Netflix), The Flight Attendant (HBO Max), Hacks (HBO Max), The Kominsky Method (Netflix), PEN15 (Hulu) Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)
In the Outstanding Drama Series, The Crown received the most nominations with 11.

The other Drama nominees are:

The Boys, Prime Video, Bridgerton (Netflix), The Crown (Netflix), The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu), Lovecraft Country (HBO), The Mandalorian (Disney+) Pose (FX), This Is Us (NBC)

Thanks so much for listening in tonight again; this is Sarah Knight Adamson, your Film and TV critic.

Sarah Knight Adamson©September 5, 2021

Respect (PG-13) ★★★ Hollywood 360 Radio Podcast

(l-r.) Hailey Kilgore stars as Carolyn Franklin, Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin and Saycon Sengbloh as Erma Franklin in RESPECT, A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film Photo credit: Quantrell D. Colbert

“Respect” is a powerful biopic drama of Aretha Franklin’s life starring Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson portraying Aretha Franklin. Hudson embodies the role as if she were meant to play the Queen of Soul, Franklin’s title in the music world. As a teenager, the minute we hear Hudson singing in a church in Birmingham, Alabama—where Martin Luther King, Jr., is preaching about civil-rights protests, we are hooked. The heartfelt performance is the centerpiece of the script as well as many of the songs in recreating Franklin’s essence.

The film starts at the early beginnings of Aretha’s life (nicknamed ReRe) at the age of 10 years; she’s a gospel singer in her father’s (Forest Whitaker) church. We also view ReRe being awoken from a sound sleep to perform before party guests late at night. It becomes clear that Aretha was not protected in her own home as she becomes pregnant and delivers a child at 13 years of age. The storyline of her two out-of-wedlock children by the age of 15 is not revisited nor developed in the film, casting a sad shadow from the start.

The film transitions quickly to an older Aretha, giving us our first glimpse of Jennifer Hudson; we’re also privy to our first sound of her powerful yet talented singing voice, which carries the entire film. We view her life on the road as a singer and performer. Her struggles with men insisting on controlling her and her rise to the top. The structure of the film is similar to viewing biopics, such as “Walk the Line,” “Get on Up,” “Rocket Man,” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

A few of my favorite moments consisted of writing the song “Respect” alongside her sisters. Re, Re, Re coincides with her nickname ReRe, the connection to her name and the song is telling. The ending credits were moving as we see and hear the real-life Aretha singing as the numerous awards and honors flashed across the screen.

The Bottomline: Director Liesl Tommy has chosen to highlight Jennifer Hudson’s incredible singing voice that, in oh so many ways channels Aretha Franklin, the songs gave me chills, as I’ve been lucky to have seen Miss Franklin perform in Chicago on New Year’s Eve in 2003. The script has some loose ends, but all is forgiven each time we hear Jennifer Hudson sing. And did you know that Jennifer Hudson and Aretha Franklin were very close friends? No doubt Miss Franklin would be proud.

Cast:

Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin

Skye Dakota Turner as young Aretha Franklin

Forest Whitaker as C.L. Franklin

Audra McDonald as Barbara Siggers Franklin, Aretha’s mother

Marlon Wayans as Ted White (Aretha’s husband and manager)

Marc Maron as Jerry Wexler

Tituss Burgess as James Cleveland

Saycon Sengbloh as Emma Franklin, Aretha’s older sister

Hailey Kilgore as Carolyn Franklin, Aretha’s younger sister

Tate Donovan as John Hammond

Mary J. Blige as Dinah Washington

Kelvin Hair as Sam Cooke

Heather Headley as Clara Ward

Lodric D. Collins as Smokey Robinson

Director: Liesl Tommy

Screenplay Writer: Tracey Scott Wilson

Story by: Carolyn Khouri and Tracey Scott Wilson

Studio: Universal Pictures

Run Time: 2 Hours 25 Minutes

Sarah Knight Adamson August 29, 2021

Check out my Podcast of the Hollywood 360 Radio Show: https://bit.ly/RespectH360Radio

 

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Interviews

Red Carpet Premiere of Blumhouse’s “Black as Night” Norah Finn Reports

Cast of “Black as Night” Music Box Theater September 21, 2021.

On Tuesday night, September 21st, 20201, moviegoers and horror fanatics alike flocked to the Music Box Theater in Lincoln Park to watch the premiere of “Black as Night.” As part of Blumhouse’s new film series for Prime Video, Welcome to the Blumhouse, “Black as Night” tells the story of a young girl who, along with her friends, must battle an army of bloodsuckers preying on the underprivileged before they take over all of New Orleans. But don’t be mistaken, this movie is not your typical vampire flick. “Black as Night” brings a comedic, coming-of-age spin to the genre of horror, all while commenting on colorism, systemic inequality, and the lasting effects Hurricane Katrina has on the people of New Orleans.

Black as Night director Mariette Lee Go with Norah Finn reporting.

Before the screening, Sarah’s Backstage Pass had the opportunity to talk with a handful of the talented people who made “Black as Night” possible on the red carpet, including director Mariette Lee Go, screenwriter Sherman Payne, and actors Fabrizio Guido, Craig Tate, and Mason Beauchamp.
Here’s what some of them had to say:

Mariette Lee Go: Director

Sarah’s Backstage Pass: I know you’ve been part of the production for another horror movie before (Phobias, 2021), is there anything different about directing horror as opposed to other genres?

Mariette Lee Go: Definitely! Huge difference. My first movie, which has not come out yet, called “Rise,” is based on historical events and things happening now; it was kind of like a real-life horror. And then Phobias is a horror anthology that we did with “Radio Silence,” which is based on their outline of how they do shorts and develop it into a feature. So that was all based on individual stories that we had to figure out a way to put together. And then this one is just your straight, traditional feature horror based on a very classic monster, the vampire. And then my next movie is a musical!
SBP: Oh wow! So much of a difference!

MLG: Right! I love being able to jump genres. I think that my love for horror started at a very, very young age, so it feels like a dream come true to be able to do exactly what I’ve dreamt of as a kid. I’m kind of pinching myself, like, “Oh, is this real life? Oh, okay, cool, this is everything I’ve dreamt of. It’s coming?” And that’s insane.

SBP: And now you’re on the red carpet for your first directed horror movie! That’s amazing!

MLG: I know! I’m like, “what am I doing here” (laughing).

SBP: That’s insane! What’s one horror movie can you remember as a kid that sparked your love for [horror]?

MLG: Oh boy. “The Exorcist.” So, I grew up in a catholic, conservative home. My mom and dad are from the Philippines, and they taught me that demons are real. So, I had this very deep-seated fear of like, “demons are outside your door; they’re everywhere! When I saw “The Exorcist,” I went insane. I could not sleep for so long. My parents – my dad – showed me when I was way too young. So supernatural horrors that have to do with demons, monsters, stuff like that; they keep me up all night, and I love it. If I lose sleep on a horror film, I’m like, “yes; you’ve won, you’ve done well.” But yeah, I just love it. It feels fantastical, and I get to explore and push the envelope when shooting stuff; I love it.

SBP: If there was any specific message you wanted to bring across with your movie, what would you say it’d be?

MLG: There are so many messages within it. As in the lead character, Shawna, it’s a coming-of-age film, and we’re exploring the world through her eyes. One of the most important themes we explored was colorism. She’s a dark-skinned black woman, and she’s coming into her own. She’s very insecure about the way that she looks, the way that she is. She doesn’t think that guys like her; she doesn’t have a voice yet. Throughout the film, she discovers her voice and discovers that the strength is within herself. She comes to love her skin and love herself.

I think what’s really important is to find your inner strength. And when you really come to love yourself, others will fall in line. So, it starts with that.

SBP: Is there any specific directing techniques you used to bring your ideas to life?

MLG: I took a lot of inspiration from everywhere. “30 Days of Night” was a huge inspiration for me. This is a little bit lighter, you know because it’s a coming of age and there’s a lot of jokes in it, but I really took a lot of “30 Days of Night” with the silhouettes and seeing the vampires in the distance, the way that they do the fight scenes. I wanted to go even darker, but I couldn’t. For the audience, and this movie, in particular, it’s just a little bit safer.

We do a portion where we do an animation in it, so I take a lot of inspiration from “Kill Bill,” and I looked at a lot of anime, cartoons, and comic books because I love that animated style. I wanted to explore the history of these sets of vampires.

“Fight Club” was a big inspiration for it, too when he’s doing the hypnotizing, I really imagine the portion of “Fight Club” when he’s like “you’re not your khakis,” and stuff like that. So yeah, there was a lot of inspiration in it, pulling from different types of movies to put this together.

Norah Finn Red Carpet interview with Craig Tate, Actor, “Le Faux,”in “Black as Night.”

Craig Tate: Actor, “Le Faux”

Sarah’s Backstage Pass: Hi Craig, can you tell me a little bit about your character?

Craig Tate: Le Faux is a vampire who’s been around for a very long time, a couple of centuries. He has a way about him where he sees what he wants and goes for what he wants, as cliche as that sounds. He’s exotic; he’s a manipulator; he’s a master of oratory and physical manipulation.

SBP: So, he sounds terrifying.

CT: Yeah (laughing)!

SBP: But if there’s anything you could connect yourself with him to, what would it be?

CT: I’m often told that I have an old soul, and obviously, I’m playing someone that’s been alive for a few hundred years, so I can connect on that. Playing a mythical creature, depending on whatever you believe in – vampires or werewolves – it allows you the space to dive into the child-like imagination.

SBP: What did you have to do in order to prepare for your role? Did you have to research vampires?

CT: As a fan of film, I watch movies 24/7, all day, every week. So, obviously, with COVID-19 and the progression of it, the procession of it, going from March to May to August, I guess reading was just my preparation for it. Just reading as much as I can, taking in as much about the mind as I could, reading the different words of the people who’ve been around longer than I have, much like Le Faux. Maybe he read one to two thousand books,right? So, what to do to get inside the mind of a man that’s been around for a long time is you live like a man that’s been around for a long time.

Norah Finn interviewing Sherman Payne, Screenwriter of “Black as Night.” 2021

Sherman Payne: Screenwriter

SBP: When writing a screenplay or a script, what kind of stories do you like to tell?

Sherman Payne: I like to tell stories about characters. I like to start character-first. I don’t really consider the action or genre before considering what I’m trying to say about the central individual driving the narrative. So, I want to get really in-depth with the character, what makes them tick, what drives them, and how they’re going to carry us through the whole story. So, people-driven stories is probably the best answer.

SBP: Yeah, that’s so interesting! I’ve never heard of that kind of process. Most of the time, people think of the story concept first, and then they narrow it down to the characters, but I think that’s important!

SP: Yeah, a lot of people are obsessed with genres and stuff. A lot of people want to really focus themselves on one way of doing stories, but I think the story working from a character point-of-view is the most important thing, and everything else is icing on the cake.

SP: Exactly! Movies are about people, so it should be important that that’s centralized. Yeah! And I love to write about black people. I’m a fan of all cinema from all different cultures, whether it’s white Americans, or Asian people, or Latino people, but I love to put black people on screen. That’s really a big goal of mine.

SBP: I think that’s really important too. Over the years, we haven’t seen a lot of diversity on camera, and we don’t see many deep, dynamic characters. And a lot of them play on different stereotypes, and it’s extremely harmful to people who are watching and the people making it. So, what did you do to create those characters that have that depth?

SP: Well, it’s all about making sure the characters are fully formed people who are trying to achieve something that we can relate to. I think as long as you do that, as long as they’re not surfaced and shallow and you’re really looking at what makes them tick and giving them something that’s going to drive the story. Sometimes you fall into something that’s stereotypical; look at the actor who played Omar from The Wired that died recently. Omar was a guy who held a shotgun and robbed drug dealers, but he never felt stereotypical because he was written so well, and he had so much depth behind the scenes. So, I’m really about finding that depth for each character and making sure they feel like three-dimensional people before we’re putting them on the screen.

SBP: What do you hope the audience is going to take away from your movie?

SP: Well, the first thing that all people should take away from any movie is that they have fun, that they’re entertained, and they watch a story that they find exciting, surprising. Hopefully, they get some laughs and some thrills along the way. That’s the number one thing. Any other writer who says otherwise doesn’t know what they’re talking about. You have to entertain the audience; you have to tell a great story.
But beyond that, I think there’s some great social messaging in this movie, and I hope that people start to think about how we treat people in our society, the people who are really vulnerable. I hope that people consider that. I hope people consider the specific things that happened in New Orleans, throughout history, but also in the last 20 years or so with some of the problems they’ve had and the mismanagement from the government… I hope people consider all that stuff.

“Black as Night” will be available for streaming on Prime Video starting October 1st as a part of Blumhouse’s Welcome to the Blumhouse movie installation.

PHOTO CREDIT: Shalyn Delhaes

Posted by Sarah Knight Adamson© September 24, 2021

Cannes Film Festival 2021 Press Experience

Chaz Ebert of RogerEbert.com Interviewing Sarah Knight Adamson, Hotel Splendid Cannes, France July 16,2021

Attending the 74th Cannes Film Festival as an accredited member of the press of which also happens to be my inaugural year, has been, superlatively, the pinnacle of my entertainment journalism career. Having attended esteemed film festivals such as the Toronto International Film Festival, which typically accepts 1,700 journalists—Cannes typically accepts 4,000. To experience drop-dead gorgeous fashions on the massive Cannes Red Carpet, along with the viewing of films and the Awards Ceremony in the colossal red velvet Palais movie theater— while hearing the roaring applause of a live audience garnered an authenticity one cannot replicate from afar.

Sarah Knight Adamson attends Cannes Film Festival 2021 as an accredited member of press.

Securing flights, working around family schedules did have their challenges, and the fact that the world is amid a pandemic—some may not know that the festival in 2020 did not occur. For myself having been vaccinated, attaining entrance to France was attainable, although to attend film screenings and press events, a covid test was required every 48 hours; in all honesty, I first thought this was a significant annoyance, although after sitting in a ‘packed to the gills’ movie theater with no social distancing among masked critics—I felt relieved and reassured that all persons had tested negative as myself.

Sarah K. Adamson Cannes Film Festival 2021-Cannes, France. View from JW Marriott

Film offerings were accessible by securing tickets on the press website and checking in with the press box office in the Palais Des Festivals if you had a direct inquiry. I found the process stress-free to navigate, although the theaters were spread out across Cannes, and one, in particular, required a 45-minute bus ride out of Cannes. Timing is essential when planning a film schedule, and theater location is a major factor in selections. Speaking of choices, wow, the abundant line-up offerings provided many varied genres—this critic was ecstatic. It’s always thrilling to be able to choose between so many brilliant offerings.

Sarah-Knight-Adamson- attends 74th Awards Ceremony Cannes Film Festival 2021

Of the films I screened, “Annette,” the opening night film by director Leos Carax with film stars Adam Driver and Marie Cotillard, was my favorite—Carax also won the Best Director award. Ron Mael and Russell Mael of the music duo Sparks served as screenplay writers along with the original story, music, and songs by the band. This highly creative musical, along with superb cinematography, tells a tale of love and deception. Outstanding performances by both Cotillard and Driver are notable.

“Annette” cast and director Leos Carax.

“Casablanca Beats” sheds light on women and girls’ issues, poverty, and rebelling against the Taliban’s recruitment. The film is part drama, part rap, directed by Nabil Ayouch. The setting is in the Casablanca neighborhood of Sid Moumen, Morocco.  Proposing rap as an expression of unjust feelings is a method to speak one’s truth sincerely. We view teen’s self-confidence soar as well through their progression. Utilizing the words, “you have to change it because you didn’t choose it,” is the heart of the film, along with the challenging circumstances of the Casablanca community. Ayouch cast real-life teens that attend the Casablanca Arts Center to play fictionalized forms of themselves—giving the film an organic feel. By doing so, we as viewers have an honest look into the teens’ thoughts, actions, and circumstances. When a 15-year-old boy begins to cry telling his story of going to bed hungry, one can’t help but emphasize. Indeed, a tug-at-your-heartstrings film.

Shot over two years, one can only imagine the positive emotional impact the experience has bestowed upon the teens—as well as being cathartic in nature. In addition, the film provides a solution to easing circumstances and a positive view of hope for the future. Highlighting Anas (Anas Basbousi, a former rapper who is now a teacher in real life) is brilliant. He is the glue that holds the film together, the inspiration. Filmmakers included a scene from “Dead Poets Society,” including the famous words “Oh captain, my captain.”

Does the film feel forced and amateurish at times, particularly during the song and dance numbers? Yes, although docu-style in tone, all is forgiven, as perfectly choreographed routines would appear false. The Casablanca neighborhood issues are too important to gravitate away from the organic look and feel achieved here. Bravo!

Casablanca Beats, Cannes Film Festival-2021

The film “Red Rocket,” directed by Sean Baker, who also served as a writer alongside Chris Bergoch, offered another organic film. However, the main character here is loathsome—Mikey Saber (Simon Rex), a desperate, amoral, repulsive washed-up Los Angeles porn star returns to his hometown of Texas City, generating chaos, lies, and deception twenty-four-seven.

Red Rocket L-R Chris Bergoch, cast and Sean Baker third from right director and writer. Cannes 2021

Baker, staying true to his storytelling of poverty, outcasts, and their living environments in America, has another hit to add to his repertoire. “The Florida Project” (2017), an outstanding film of homelessness and its effects on families, sheds light on the children of poverty.  In “Red Rocket,” Baker shines his spotlight on a starry-eyed 17-year-old Strawberry (Suzanna Son). The latter dreams of leaving her impoverished life in Texas City to become a porn star in LA alongside her much older new boyfriend, Mikey.

Opening to the tune of NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye,” Mikey slithers back to his estranged wife Lexi (Bree Elrod) in need of a shower and a place to crash for the night after he’s been living in LA. Lexi wants nothing to do with him as she’s been down the train wreck road before. Mikey sweet-talks his way back into the house and back into her bed, after all he’s promised to provide for his wife and her mother. Lexi’s mother warns Mikey that he better be faithful to his promise as she doesn’t want her daughter to advertise on Craig’s List again for meet-ups with strangers for cash. Mikey says that won’t happen and begins to look for a job via his only mode of transportation—a kids bike belonging to Lexi named ‘Red Rocket.’

The performances are engaging and believable under Baker’s direction, which enhances the script—some critics were predicting an award for Simon Rex—an interesting note, Rex has IMBD acting credits in several porn videos early in his career.

“The Year of the Everlasting Storm” is an anthology film centering on the pandemic by seven acclaimed directors and viewing seven stories from around the world, each with different experiences. However, the similarities were all too familiar. Common themes of isolation, depression, stress, job loss, helplessness, loss of family, and despair are featured. Award-winning directors Jafar Panahi, Anthony Chen, Malik Vitthal, Laura Poitras, Dominga Sotomayor, David Lowery, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul contributed a short film.

The directors were limited to shooting in the location only of the filmmaker’s quarantine. No public places or unique props, the costumes were to be limited to onsite resources. The results were creative while engaging, as all have lived under the same circumstances to a degree.

From iguana’s, families, insects, projects on the horizon, musical harmony, a box of old letters, to bright neon lights—each tells a unique tale. The two-hour film created a compilation of similar conditions, yet each film gives us a unique look through a sharp lens.

The films I was hoping to see that are generating great buzz are “The French Dispatch,” “Titane,” “Blue Bayou,” “Bergman Island,” “Drive My Car,” “Lingui,” “Memoria,” and “New Worlds: The Cradle of a Civilization.” I’m hoping to catch these soon as my time in Cannes was limited.

As I stated in my opening, attending the Cannes Film Festival was such a thrilling and educational experience that I’d be inclined to attend again– an experience that included being interviewed by Chaz Ebert at the Hotel Splendid, adjacent to the Roger Ebert Suite. Please find that interview here: https://bit.ly/Chaz-Ebert-Interviews-Sarah-Knight-Adamson-Cannes-2021

Stay tuned for my final article of the Cannes Film Festival, as it will include a video of my experience and a portion of my interview with Chaz Ebert. Until then, “au revoir.”

Sarah Knight Adamson July 20, 2021

Gia Coppola Interview and Mainstream Film Review (R) ★★★½

I interviewed Gia Coppola on May 4, 2021, via Zoom for her second film, “Mainstream,” starring Andrew Garfield and Maya Hawke. “Mainstream” is a cautionary tale regarding social media and it’s effects on our lives.

Gia Coppola – Director Headshot

Sarah Knight Adamson: Hi Gia, I’d like to congratulate you on your film “Mainstream.” Your creativity shines in the film, can you talk about the opening scene, as when I first saw it, I kept thinking of Edward Manet’s painting ‘The Bar at Foleese-Bergère which I’ve seen in London’s Courtland Gallery, were you making a reference to this painting? The look on Maya’s face is so similar.

Edward Manet’s painting ‘The Bar at Foleese-Bergère

Gia Coppola: That actually is the inspiration. I’m glad you picked up on that. The image always stayed with me, and it is a popular classical painting. I’ve always loved that painting and wanted to find a way to recreate it.

MAINSTREAM Still 2

SKA: Can you please talk about what Maya Hawke, the daughter of Uma and Ethan, brings to your film?

GC: Yes, it was very instantaneous when I first saw her in character as Frankie; she really came alive for me.  I met her during a photo shoot when I was photographing her, and we really hit it off, and we are really in sync. It was a fun collaboration to have with her as she’s super talented. It’s also a tough character to play because it’s very minimalistic.

SKA: Andrew Garfield, what a fabulous actor, “Hacksaw Ridge” is one of my favorite films, what was it like to work with him?

MAINSTREAM Still 8

GC: To work with that level of talent is extremely exciting; he was a great collaborator. We workshopped several scenes to flush out the character; he’s fun and exciting, he’s a great dancer, and he’s super talented.

SKA: What was your favorite scene to film with Andrew Garfield?

GC: Him running naked down Hollywood Blvd. I couldn’t believe we were able to pull that off.

SKA: Yes, I couldn’t either, and I could tell it was not 4:00 am in the morning as when those scenes are usually scheduled.

GC: Actually, we were supposed to film early in the morning, and it got pushed to the middle of the afternoon.

SKA: Whenever I see that Jason Schwartzman in a film, I’m already sold. I have interviewed him and appreciated his film knowledge. Did he offer any suggestions for his role?

MAINSTREAM Still 7

Jason is a brilliant actor, and you never know what you’re going to get from him as he’s hilarious when he comes on stage. He was a little nervous as he doesn’t use social media much. I told him not to worry about that, and he just improvised and ran with it; he is amazing. He’s so great at improv.

SKA: What do you see as the message of your film?

GC: There are a lot of messages that I’d like people to take away, and I’d like them to decide, although one thing I can say is ‘all that glitters is not always gold.’

SKA: Thank you so much for speaking with me today; I wanted to tell you to please offer more wine tastings with your dad, Francis Ford Coppola, as that was fabulous, and best of luck with the film!

Mainstream Review

Frankie, Maya Hawke is a disenchanted young bartender in a comedy club who works together with an aspiring writer and singer Jake, Nat Wolff. He serves as her best friend and a moral compass, although he hopes for a romance between them.

Frankie’s hobby is shooting photographs and videos throughout L.A., as she’s looking for material to upload to her undersubscribed YouTube channel. She begins watching a man, Andrew Garfield, Link dressed in a mouse costume, and decides he is a suitable candidate for her channel. It turns out that Link has a mysterious past, has no cell phone, and acts like a ranting self-proclaimed philosopher-prophet. Together, Maya and Link hatch a plan to create more videos changing Maya’s boring life into one of excitement, purpose, and hope.

In need of the manager, they team up with Mark, Jason Schwartzman, who guides them into the world of virtual fame. We see numerous examples of creativity in the film, even vomiting thumbs up emojis’ and other creative use of graphics.

Coppola’s sharp lens takes us through the colorful world of social media along with all of its trappings. It’s a cautionary tale, one which has a shocking ending that isn’t far from today’s headlines. I enjoyed the film, as it kept me guessing while engaged. I can recommend all seeing it over 17, as it is clearly rated R. Despite our frustration with social media, the fact remains that it is powerful, and it can’t and shouldn’t be ignored.

Streaming now on Amazon Prime, Apple TV and others.

Sarah Knight Adamson© May 14, 2021

93rd Academy Awards 2021, a View From the Virtual Oscar Press Office

Oscars 2021-Reporting for Hollywood 360 Radio Network

Sunday, April 25, 2021, the day of the Academy Awards, began with a familiarity of anticipation that I have come to expect over the years—except this year was different, I was accepted to be a virtual member of the Oscars press. My day in New Buffalo, Michigan began by searching for a halo light to improve my Zoom video quality, and luck was on my side as I purchased one locally. The night before was spent rearranging furniture to prepare a suitable backdrop and workspace for an 8-hour stretch that encompassed viewing Red Carpet arrivals, Oscar-nominated song performances, interviewing winners, all while downloading photos, videos, and transcripts. By far, the most challenging job was toggling back and forth between the live Oscar show and the Oscar media room. All and all, the experience is one I will treasure, and I look forward to the day I will be able to report in Hollywood, California.

New Buffalo, Michigan–Lake Michigan sunset view, Saturday, April 24, 2021. Sarah Knight Adamson Photo Credit
Settling into the press room involved being on top of the situation and listening to instructions; we were guided like a well-oiled machine. I prepared questions for all 25 winners and delighted in hearing their answers as they spoke to the press. To experience their visual elation just moments after an Oscar win and to listen to their profound gratitude heightened my experience of viewing the Oscars all the years, as I’ve watched the show since I was ten years old while living in Los Angeles. Truly, this reporter felt a full-circle moment in my career, and I am grateful to be accepted among such esteemed journalists.
Sarah Knight Adamson, April 25, 2021

Protocol consisted of viewing a title card that announced who was stepping into the virtual press room, headphones were suggested as they reduced the chance of feedback. In terms of stepping, this is an accurate account as talent walked in front of an Oscar designed backdrop holding their Oscars and spoke to talent as they watched a large screen. The backdrop served two purposes, one for photos and speaking with press. Talent was announced, hands were raised, questions were asked. No follow-up questions were allowed, if your hand was raised and you were cued, and you were expected to ready to speak—while most importantly be in front of your camera and ready to go.

The winners have been announced for some time now. My Hollywood 360 Radio Network segment this Saturday night will cover a snapshot of my reporting, snippets of transcribed Oscar acceptance speeches, Oscar press room questions, and answers, along with standout highlights of the Oscar show and the backstage interviews.

Daniel Kaluuya, Best Supporting Actor for “Judas and the Black Messiah

Daniel Kaluuya won early in the evening, taking home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for “Judas and the Black Messiah.” He gave a heartfelt acceptance speech thanking God, his mom, and his family. Here is a segment of his speech that focuses on the film:

“Chairman Fred Junior and Mama Akua, thank you so much for allowing us into your life and into your story. Thank you for trusting us with your truth. I appreciate you deeply, and it’s an honor to partner up and stand side by side with you. And to Chairman Fred Hampton. Bro, man. Man, what a man. He was on this earth for 21 years, and he found a way to feed kids breakfast, educate kids, give free medical care, against all the odds. He showed me, he taught me him. Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, the Black Panther Party. They showed me how to love myself. And with that love, they overflowed into the black community and into other communities. And they showed us that the power of union, the power of unity, that when they play divide and conquer, we say unite and ascend.

Thank you so much for showing me myself. And yeah, man, there’s so much work to do guys, and that’s on everyone in this room, this ain’t no single man job. I look at this room, and I look at everyone, every single one of you, you got work to do, you know what I’m saying.”

Red Carpet arrivals Oscars 2021 Chole Zhao writer/directer Nomadland and Joshua James Richards, Cinematographer: Nomadland.

“Nomadland” the big winner of the evening, taking home the Best Picture, Best Director, and the Best Actress Oscars. Writer/director/producer Chole Zhao, appeared in the press room numerous times.

Here is a question that was asked after she won Best Director:

Q. Talk to me about all of this history coming your way all at once. How does it feel? I mean, you have literally smashed this glass ceiling that we often talk about. Tell me about what’s coursing through your veins right now.

A. Well, you know, I feel I’m very lucky I have parents who have always told me that who you are is enough, you know, and who I who you are is your art, you know? So I always try to stay true to myself and be surrounded by really great, supportive, talented people, so I really share this moment with them.

“Minari” Yuh-Jung Young, Best Supporting Actress winner. Director Lee Isaac Chung Credit: Courtesy of A24

Yuh-Jung Youn, the feisty grandmother in Minari, captured not only her grandson’s heart in the film she went home with an Oscar for her Best Supporting Actress role. Brad Pitt presented her the award as he was a producer of the film. Youn said in her acceptance speech that she does not believe in competition; she does not believe that her performance is better than Glen Close or the other nominees. Here are a few questions she answered in the press room.

Brad Pitt, right, poses with Yuh-Jung Youn, winner of the award for best actress in a supporting role for “Minari,” in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

Q. Congratulations on such a historic win. You created the Oscar-winning grandma. What was the biggest challenge you faced in your acting career, and what did you get from (inaudible)?

A. Well, it’s not happened right at the moment because I had a long career. I’m trying to do my career, you know, step by step. And just sometimes it’s happy, very happy, when you get it. But for me, myself, I don’t believe in competition, especially in our field, because we are comparing a different movie. I’m just lucky tonight, just luckier than the other nominees, luckier than them. And maybe, who knows, it’s American hospitality for the Korean actor, I think.

Q. Congratulations on your win tonight. Brad Pitt was a producer on Minari, and you just met him for the first time. What was that like, and if you could do a movie with him, what genre would you choose?

A. That will never happen with my English and age, you know. I don’t think so, no.

Makeup and Hairstyling won the Oscar for the film “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, that consisted of fitting actress Viola Davis with a full set of gold teeth. Mia Neal’s acceptance speech spoke to people of color and their representation in the future.

Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson are the first Black women to win in the Hair and Makeup category. Makeup artist Sergio Lopez-Rivera also won.

MIA NEAL:
“I was raised by my grandfather, James Holland. He was an original Tuskegee Airman. He represented the U.S. in the first Pan Am Games. He went to Argentina. He met Evita. He graduated from Northwestern University at the time that they did not allow Blacks to stay on campus, so he stayed at the YMCA. And after all of his accomplishments, he went back to his hometown in hopes of becoming a teacher. But they did not hire Blacks in the school system. So I want to say thank you to our ancestors who put the work in, were denied but never gave up.

And I also stand here as Jamika and I break this glass ceiling with so much excitement for the future. Because I can picture Black trans women standing up here and Asian sisters and our Latino sisters and indigenous women. And I know that one day it won’t be unusual or groundbreaking; it will just be normal. Thank you to the Academy, to Netflix, to Denzel Washington, to George C. Wolfe, to Ann Roth, to Miss Viola Davis, to Matiki Anoff, to Andrea Resnick, to the spirit of Ma Rainey. Thank you.”

Emerald Fennell for “Promising Young Woman” wins Best Original Screenplay

The Best Original Screenplay Oscar went to Emerald Fennell for “Promising Young Woman” she started by saying, “I didn’t think I was going to win, so I don’t have a speech prepared, and I’m going to be in trouble with Steven Soderbergh [Oscar Producer]. I’m so sorry; I don’t want him to be cross with me.”

She continued, “This film was made by the most incredible people in the world, who made it in 23 days. They brought their complete genius and love and humor to it. And I have so many people to thank. I feel mortified that I’m here by myself when it’s not just my job at all. I want to thank Carey Mulligan for being not only the most talented person in the world but the kindest and funniest. I want to thank the producers for standing behind this film always and, you know, never giving up, and Lucky Chap, Focus, FilmNation. The cast and the crew, the greatest in the world, the kindest in the world. They just made me look good, and again, I’m just so grateful. And finally: my family, Mom, Dad, Coco, my husband Chris and our son.

Fennell’s Press Room Question:

Q. Congratulations. I am just so happy for you and proud of you. And you described this film as a “poison popcorn film.” Can you explain what that means exactly? And will you continue to make these “poison popcorn” movies?

A. I don’t know. I think I always hoped to make something that people would want to go and see that even if it’s about something difficult and troubling, that it would still be a movie that you would go and watch with your friends, with your boyfriend, and you would talk about it afterward. And so, part of it was that felt kind of glossy and feminine and poppy and that, yeah, but it was disgusting, some very difficult and dark subject matter. I think probably that is something I will do in the future a little bit.

Tyler Perry, 2021 recipient of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award

In perhaps the evening’s highlight, the Academy recognized Tyler Perry’s work by honoring him with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. The honor is given out periodically to an “individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry.” An outstanding video explained his cause and documented his wonderful work.
Viola Davis, who collaborated with Perry on the 2009 film “Madea Goes to Jail,” presented the award.

In his stirring speech, Perry recalled a story about helping a woman in need buy a pair of shoes and how it served as a lesson in withholding judgment. “I want to take this Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and dedicate it to anyone who wants to stand in the middle,” he concluded, “… because that’s where healing happens, that’s where conversation happens, that’s where change happens. It happens in the middle. So anyone who wants to meet me in the middle, to refuse hate, to refuse blanket judgment, and help lift someone’s feet off the ground, this one’s for you, too.”

Press Room Questions:

Q. Congratulations. Your speech was just incredible. It was maybe the most moving moment of the night. You mentioned your mother a lot in that speech and what she taught you. Did you sense, as you were talking up there, that maybe she’s shined down, smiling down on you as you were able to deliver that message that she first gave you?

A. You know, I could feel her in the moment. I could feel her. Any time I’m up there, I’m carrying her with me in all she went through and all we went through together. You are absolutely right about that.

Q. I wanted to ask you what inspired you to share such a personal story?

A. Just where we are in the country and the world, and everybody is grabbing a corner and a color, and they are all nobody wants to come to the middle to have a conversation. Everybody is polarized, and it’s in the middle where things change. So I’m hoping that that inspires people to meet us in the middle so that we can get back to some semblance of normal. As this pandemic is over, we can get to a place where we are showing love and kindness to each other again.

Olivia Coleman and Anthony Hopkins “The Father” Sony USA

Anthony Hopkins was the last award of the night presented for Best Actor, and he was over the pond in Wales, at that moment although he posted to his Instagram account a heartfelt thank you the following day:

“At 83 years of age, I did not expect to get this award; I really didn’t,” said Hopkins in the Instagram video, standing in the beautiful Welsh countryside. He thanked the Academy and “paid tribute” to the late Chadwick Boseman, who “was taken from us far too early.” He also thanked the director and screenwriter of “The Father,” Florian Zeller, who, earlier in the evening, for Best Adapted screenplay. His thanks continued with Sony Pictures Classics, UTA, his team, his wife, Stella Arroyave, and his family. He ended by saying, “Again, thank you all very much. I really did not expect this, so I feel very privileged and honored. Thank you.”

Frances McDormand in “Nomadland” Searchlight Pictures

Frances McDormand won the Best Actress award, playing a nomad who hits the road after her small-town plant closes in the film “Nomadland.” Her third win; she ties Meryl Streep and Ingrid Bergman, who have three each, with the current record-holder, Katharine Hepburn, who has four. She quoted the Shakespeare play “Macbeth,” saying, “I have no words: my voice is in my sword. We know the sword is our work, and I like work. Thank you for knowing that, and thanks for this.” She then began to raise her head to the ceiling and howl, paying tribute to the “Nomandland” production sound mixer Michael Snyder, who died March of this year.

Scottsbluff, Nebraska is a filming location in the film “Nomadland” Scotts Bluff Monument sunset through Mitchell Pass. NPS Photo / Poffenberger

 

Sarah Knight Adamson, 16 years, Scottsbluff High School, Sweet 16 Pom Squad, Scottsbluff, Nebraska

For a 16-year-old living at the time in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, with dreams of attending the Academy Awards, fast-forward to 2021, I can say my Oscar press experience was not far off the mark, the behind the scenes press room allowed me to learn the mechanics of the show, along with tapping into the emotions of the victors. I am grateful for the opportunity.

What a fortuitous circumstance that my High School city of Scottsbluff, Nebraska (Go Bearcats!) was a key location in the filming of the Best Picture, “Nomadland.” We lived 12 miles outside of the city in the country; our large front bay window view was of the stunning Scotts Bluff Monument. Our home was surrounded by beet and corn fields that, at times, were swarming with farmworkers hand-picking the crops and tending the fields. Yes, I can relate to the term ‘nomad’ as I witnessed first-hand the families that came and left from our city and schools over my five years there. In fact, I overheard after a climb (800 feet above the North Platte River) up the Bluff (as locals refer to the Scotts Bluff Monument), during a High School reunion one of my classmates showing his wife where he and his family worked, he said while pointing down, “See that farm over there to the left, yep, that’s God’s country.”

My question to director Chole Zhao would have started with a thank you for capturing the Nebraska plains so beautifully, and I would have asked her what she enjoyed most about her visit to the picturesque area.

Sarah Knight Adamson© April 29, 2021

 

 

List of the 93rd Academy Award Nominees and Winners

Best Picture

The Father

Judas and the Black Messiah

Mank

Minari

Nomadland

Promising Young Woman

Sound of Metal

The Trial of the Chicago 7

 

Best Actor

 Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal

 Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

 Anthony Hopkins, The Father

 Gary Oldman, Mank

 Steven Yeun, Minari

 

Best Actress

 Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

 Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday

 Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman

 Frances McDormand, Nomadland

 Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

 

Best Director

 Lee Isaac Chung, Minari

 Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman

 David Fincher, Mank

 Thomas Vinterberg, Another Round

 Chloé Zhao, Nomadland

 

Best Supporting Actress

 Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

 Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy

 Olivia Colman, The Father

 Amanda Seyfried, Mank

 Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari

 

Best Supporting Actor

 Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7

 Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah

Leslie Odom Jr., One Night in Miami

 Paul Raci, Sound of Metal

 Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah

 

Best International Feature

 Another Round

 Better Days

 Collective 

 The Man Who Sold His Skin

 Quo Vadis, Aida?

 

Best Animated Feature

 Onward

 Over the Moon

 Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon 

 Soul

 Wolfwalkers

 

Best Documentary Feature

 Collective

 Crip Camp

 The Mole Agent

 My Octopus Teacher

 Time

 

Best Original Score

 Da 5 Bloods

 Mank

 Minari

 News of the World

 Soul

 

Best Original Song

 “Fight for You,” Judas and the Black Messiah

 “Hear My Voice,” The Trial of the Chicago 7

 “Husavik,” Eurovision Song Contest

 “Io Si (Seen),” The Life Ahead

 “Speak Now,” One Night in Miami

 

Best Original Screenplay

 Judas and the Black Messiah

 Minari

 Promising Young Woman

 Sound of Metal

 The Trial of the Chicago 7

 

Best Adapted Screenplay

 Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

 The Father

 Nomadland

 One Night in Miami

 The White Tiger

 

Best Cinematography

 Judas and the Black Messiah

 Mank

 News of the World

 Nomadland

 The Trial of the Chicago 7

 

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

 Emma

 Hillbilly Elegy

 Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

 Mank

 Pinocchio

 

Best Costume Design

 Emma

 Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

 Mank

 Mulan

 Pinocchio

 

Best Film Editing

 The Father

 Nomadland

 Promising Young Woman

 Sound of Metal

 The Trial of the Chicago 7

 

Best Sound

 Greyhound

 Mank

 News of the World

 Soul

 Sound of Metal

 

Best Live-Action Short

 Feeling Through

 The Letter Room

 The Present

Two Distant Strangers

 White Eye

 

Best Animated Short

 Burrow

 Genius Loci

 If Anything Happens I Love You

 Opera

 Yes-People

 

Best Documentary Short

 Colette

 A Concerto is a Conversation

 Do Not Split

 Hunger Ward

 A Love Song for Latasha

 

Best Visual Effects

 Love and Monsters

 The Midnight Sky

 Mulan

 The One and Only Ivan

 Tenet

 

Best Production Design

 The Father 

 Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

 Mank

 News of the World

 Tenet

 

Christo Brock Interview “Brewmance”

Christo Brock Writer/Director “Brewmance” Sarah Knight Adamson-Interview-2021

I interviewed Christo Brock, the writer and director of the documentary film “Brewmance” on April 6, 2021, via Zoom. I enjoyed the film “Brewmance” as I learned so much about not only craft beers, I learned about the culture. It’s a hands-on, roll-up your sleeves culture—one that requires hard work, camaraderie, and a love of the process. Living in Long Beach, California, Brock became inspired to write a documentary film after attending meetings of the Long Beach Homebrewers. He met two homebrewers who are the main subjects of his film and followed them from start to finish to complete their dream of operating a brewery. Former “Reel Big Fish” trombonist Dan Regan of Liberation Brewing Co, 3630 Atlantic Ave, Long Beach, CA, and Jesse Sundstrom and his father Dan, co-owner of Ten Mile Brewing, 1136 E Willow St, Signal Hill, CA, show us the process of transitioning homebrew to a large-scale operation.

Sarah Knight Adamson:

It’s so wonderful to meet you. Congratulations on your documentary film “Brewmance.” You not only teach us the history of craft brews, you actually teach us how to brew our own beer. My question for you, could you please explain to our audience and our listeners what exactly is craft beer?

Christo Brock:

Good question. Well, first off, craft beer is a beer that has not been brewed by a corporation. Now I’ve got to tread lightly on this, but the Craft Brewers Association has a strict definition about this, and usually, something has to be brewed from all malt, all natural ingredients, and it has to be independently owned,  in other words, people who just decided, “You know what, I like making beer and I’m going to start a little business” and really that’s kind of the heart and soul of craft brewers.

SKA:

Well, thank you for that answer. The title “Brewmance,” I love the title, by the way. Can you tell me how that came about?

CB:

Well, coming up with a title for a film is super important because you want to be unique, you want it to stand out, but the whole idea of “Brewmance “plays off the idea of romance and bromance. “Brewmance” is very encompassing where it also includes women because there’s a lot of wonderful women in the world of craft beer. But I think people who make beers love the process; they love making new tastes. There’s a love affair that goes on with something they’ve just created and that they’re going to share with people. Some people love the idea of exploring and coming up with new flavors.

SKA:

I saw a connection with the word bromance. Director John Hamburg’s film “I Love You Man,” 2009, with Jason Siegel and Paul Rudd, is the first time I heard of the word. I interviewed Hamburg and asked him about the term, and he said, “You know when we were making this movie, we didn’t even think of that or know of that term,” but now the term bromance is synonymous with “I Love You Man.”

I thought that’s pretty cool. What are your hopes for your film and your idea of this brewmance?

CB: I do hope that people will get to see this and get to experience a little bit of the world of craft beer and the values of it, because I really do think it’s about community, it’s about treating your competitor as your friend. That’s one of the things that struck me most about the world of craft beer is that there’s just this very strange cooperation and collaboration from people who are competing against each other.

SKA:

Yes, that’s really cool. By the way, I added the word brewmance to my Microsoft word program. I believe that there are now over 7,000 craft breweries in the United States. Can you talk about perhaps which states have the largest concentration of craft beer breweries? I know that our family lake place in Michigan has two brand new ones, and it’s just like they’re popping up more and more.

CB:

I can’t really speak to the concentrations but what I can speak to is that they are everywhere. I mean, this is one of the great things about beer and craft beer, so when you’re a big multinational beer manufacturer, you make your beer in St. Louis, and then you ship it around the country. And one of the reasons that we used to have just lagers is because they would travel well. All the little craft beers, they don’t last very long. So the great thing is now that we have all these little breweries in every little sort of corner of this country and in other countries, is that the beer is local, it’s responsive to the people drinking it, and it’s fresh and you usually can see the person who made it. I think that makes a big difference. You can be like, “Oh, that’s the brewer. Oh, cool.” And then it just gives the craft beer a whole different experience. It’s like there’s a story in the bottle or the glass.

SKA:

I really loved the music in your film. Did you know about the band “Reel Big Fish” before you met Dan Regan, the trombone player?

CB:

I’ll say I did not. I grew up on the East Coast, but all my friends from out in California were like “Reel Big Fish, yeah I grew up with them,” but I was a little bit like, “Oh cool, they’re great.”

SKA:

I really appreciated hearing the craft beer legend story. And it was great watching the film just to hear Fritz Maytag, and I’m like Anchor Steam that was my first craft beer.

CB: That was a lot of people’s first craft beer, right?  When I moved to San Francisco in 1989, just a month before the big earthquake, and then I started working at a bar, a jazz bar, and the big thing was the owners were like, and we serve Anchor Steam, and I was like, “What’s that?” But it was a big thing. It was like, “Oh, we have Anchor Steam on tap,” and people loved it.

SKA:

Yes, thank you for that; I appreciated all of Fritz Maytag’s stories. My final question, what was your favorite scene to film?

CB:

Well, this is a little perverse because I don’t think that I did a very good job of it, but without giving too much away, there’s a scene with Liberation [Brewery] towards the end of the film that gets a little tense.

When you’re a filmmaker filming something that’s delicate, there’s a very fine line between making sure you record the action but not being part of it because that’ll change what’s happening.

SKA:

So you try to be the fly on the wall.

CB:

Yes, and that’s when you really see like, “Oh wow, I’m capturing something real.” When they stop noticing you and life just goes on. I really like that.

SKA: I believe you accomplished that for sure. Thanks so much for speaking with me, and best of luck with the film.

*All photos property of “Brewmance” film

Sarah Knight Adamson© April 6, 2021

Emily Cohen Ibanez “Fruits of Labor SXSW Interview

Portrait of 4th World Indigenous Media Lab fellows, Ashley Solis Pavon (seated) and Emily Cohen Ibañez. Photographed at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in 2020.

The insightful film “Fruits of Labor” focuses on California Central Coast’s rich soil, the beautiful nature of the area, and the laborers that work the fields. Ashley, an energetic, vibrant teen, works in those fields to help provide for the family. Providing empathy for child and teen Farm Laborers, this beautiful film gives us a true picture of the situation.

Filmmaker Emily Cohen Ibanez met her when she was 15 years old—two years later, she filmed her senior year of High School, documenting her struggles of balancing school and her farm work. The film premiered at the SXSW 2021 Film Festival. I spoke with director Emily Cohen Ibanez shortly after the festival.

I interviewed Emily Cohen Ibanez for the Alliance of Women Film Journalists to read the entire article, click here: https://bit.ly/EmilyCohenIbanez-Interview

Find out below how you can help support the cause of child farm labor and organizations that are helping to make a difference.

SKA: Can you tell me when you met Ashley and her family?

ECI:
I met Ashley when she was 15. I was doing arts development work, creating a video collective in her town with communities from farm working families and college students. And Ashley just really stood out. She’s a sensitive young woman, she’s engaged, she’s an advocate for her community. She also had a wonderful eye and was teaching the young people camera, and she just had an enormous amount of curiosity. I was really drawn to her and wanting to continue her development as a young person and then got to know her family. Two years after meeting her and her family, I asked her if I could film her in her last year of high school.

SKA:
What can people support agencies that are working for better Farm Labor conditions? Also, are there local groups in the California Central Coast area?

ECI:
There are wonderful organizations like The United Farm Workers with a long history in organizing, especially for strawberry workers. There’s a Dolores Huerta Foundation that supports, especially young girls, Latina girls in farm working communities with their higher education.

The organization we worked really close with, and actually my sister is the executive director, and they started this group, Youth Growing Justice. They help the local community fight to reclaim city lands for community gardens. It’s called Community Agroecology Network. They do a lot of very specific work with youth. Ashley got to travel to Nicaragua and meet farmers there. We also work in Mexico. We do all these different exchanges between Mexico and Nicaragua, and California around food security.

Sarah Knight Adamson© March 31, 2021

 

 

 

http://bit.ly/EmilyCohenIbanez-Interview

SEE MORE INTERVIEWS

Film Festivals and Events

No Time to Die (R) ★★ 1/2 Chicago Film Festival & Film Fest 919 H360 Podcast

Hi Carl and hello to all of our listeners out there; tonight I’m going to talk about the latest James Bond movie, “No Time to Die,” and two Film Festivals opening this month.

Daniel Craig stars as Bond and has made it clear to all that this is his final film. The director is Cary Joi Fukunaga. Daniel Craig’s performance is incredible, although I wasn’t a fan of the script. The beginning scenes are the best and worth seeing on the big screen; however, the 2 hours 45-minute run-time drags.

Fans will enjoy seeing Bond’s non-stop hand-to-hand combat and his iconic driving skills. There is so much I loved about this film, and there is so much I didn’t like. Here’s the scoop, Anna de Armas’s dress (she’s from “Knives Out”) is to DIE for. Two side slits for kicking and hand-to-hand combat—she stole the show. Sadly, she’s only in about 10 minutes. Daniel Craig shows us more emotion and his ultra-slick Bond skills; Rami Malek’s villain was too blah, and don’t even get me started on the ending.

Side note: I’m a true Bond fan and have met Pierce Bronson in London; he was so cool. Also, I’ve interviewed the director and screenplay writer of “No Time to Die,” Cary Fukunaga, in Chicago in 2011. I admire his work. The film is too long and dragged for me the last 45 minutes.

The Chicago International Film Festival is on now and is showing major films such as “Drive My Car,” a Cannes Winner, and a Toronto Film Festival winner, “Belfast.”

Drive My Car, CIFF-2021
Here’s the full film program for the 57th Chicago International Film Festival. Jane Campion, Kenneth Branagh, Céline Sciamma, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul are just some of the acclaimed directors presenting their latest films in this year’s program alongside such highly anticipated Chicago premieres as “Dune,” “C’mon C’mon,” “The French Dispatch,” and more.

Film Fest 919 starts today, October 18 in Chapel Hill, NC, showing “Spencer” and “King Richard,” “The French Dispatch” and “The Lost Daughter.”I’ll be attending for the week.
Join us as we present the Spotlight Award to Diane Warren, one of our most celebrated songwriters. The evening will include a conversation with Diane moderated by Vanity Fair’s Katey Rich and a high-power laser show choreographed to many of her hit tunes.
Film Fest 919 Tribute to Duane Warren
Some of the hits and notable songs that Warren has written throughout her career includes “Because You Loved Me” (Celine Dion) from Up Close and Personal, “How Do I Live” (Trisha Yearwood) from Con Air and (LeAnn Rimes), “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength” (Whitney Houston), “Can’t Take That Away” (Mariah Carey), “Look Away” (Chicago), “Have You Ever” (Brandy), “Un-Break My Heart” (Toni Braxton), “If I Could Turn Back Time (Cher), “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” (Aerosmith) from Armageddon, “I Was Here” (Beyoncé), “Til It Happens To You” (Lady Gaga) from The Hunting Ground, “Stand Up For Something” (Andra Day and Common) from Marshall, “I’ll Fight” (Jennifer Hudson) from RBG, among many others.
Kristen Stewart: “Spencer”
Will Smith-King Richard

Tickets are on sale now. https://filmfest919.com

Stay Tuned for Updates!

Sarah Knight Adamson© October 18, 2021

Emmy Award Winners, TiFF Winners, No Malice Film Contest H360 Podcast

Hi Carl, and hello to all of our listeners; it’s been a busy week, the TV Emmy Awards were announced, and as we reported, the shows Ted Lasso and the Crown were favorites, and they won. This is also the first time women have swept both of the directing categories in the same year.

The Toronto International Film Festival has wrapped, I screened 16 films. This year’s winner is “Belfast” by Kenneth Branagh; it’s a semi-autobiographical story of growing up in Northern Ireland. Runners up include Jane Campion’s “Power of the Dog” and “Scarborough” by Toronto local filmmakers.

And lastly, the “No Malice short film contest” celebrated their winners last Sunday at Navy Pier, September 19, students ages 11-21 created films. I was honored to serve as one of the jury members. Chaz Ebert CEO of Roger Ebert.com was the host and co-founder of the contest.

No Malice Jury Members with student winners. Navy Pier Chicago, 2021.

Here are a few of Chaz’s opening remarks. “And I have no doubt one day some of the filmmakers here, maybe some of our students from Columbia who are here, or some of the other people who are in this very audience, I promise you that we are going to see them at the Emmys or the Oscars or the Independent Spirit Awards because that’s the spirit that I see in the filmmaking that we have here!”

Chaz Ebert host of No Malice Film Celebration

Thanks for listening in tonight; this is Sarah Knight Adamson your Film and TV critic for Sarah’s Backstage Pass.com.

Sarah Knight Adamson©September 25, 2021

Red Carpet Premiere of Blumhouse’s “Black as Night” Norah Finn Reports

Cast of “Black as Night” Music Box Theater September 21, 2021.

On Tuesday night, September 21st, 20201, moviegoers and horror fanatics alike flocked to the Music Box Theater in Lincoln Park to watch the premiere of “Black as Night.” As part of Blumhouse’s new film series for Prime Video, Welcome to the Blumhouse, “Black as Night” tells the story of a young girl who, along with her friends, must battle an army of bloodsuckers preying on the underprivileged before they take over all of New Orleans. But don’t be mistaken, this movie is not your typical vampire flick. “Black as Night” brings a comedic, coming-of-age spin to the genre of horror, all while commenting on colorism, systemic inequality, and the lasting effects Hurricane Katrina has on the people of New Orleans.

Black as Night director Mariette Lee Go with Norah Finn reporting.

Before the screening, Sarah’s Backstage Pass had the opportunity to talk with a handful of the talented people who made “Black as Night” possible on the red carpet, including director Mariette Lee Go, screenwriter Sherman Payne, and actors Fabrizio Guido, Craig Tate, and Mason Beauchamp.
Here’s what some of them had to say:

Mariette Lee Go: Director

Sarah’s Backstage Pass: I know you’ve been part of the production for another horror movie before (Phobias, 2021), is there anything different about directing horror as opposed to other genres?

Mariette Lee Go: Definitely! Huge difference. My first movie, which has not come out yet, called “Rise,” is based on historical events and things happening now; it was kind of like a real-life horror. And then Phobias is a horror anthology that we did with “Radio Silence,” which is based on their outline of how they do shorts and develop it into a feature. So that was all based on individual stories that we had to figure out a way to put together. And then this one is just your straight, traditional feature horror based on a very classic monster, the vampire. And then my next movie is a musical!
SBP: Oh wow! So much of a difference!

MLG: Right! I love being able to jump genres. I think that my love for horror started at a very, very young age, so it feels like a dream come true to be able to do exactly what I’ve dreamt of as a kid. I’m kind of pinching myself, like, “Oh, is this real life? Oh, okay, cool, this is everything I’ve dreamt of. It’s coming?” And that’s insane.

SBP: And now you’re on the red carpet for your first directed horror movie! That’s amazing!

MLG: I know! I’m like, “what am I doing here” (laughing).

SBP: That’s insane! What’s one horror movie can you remember as a kid that sparked your love for [horror]?

MLG: Oh boy. “The Exorcist.” So, I grew up in a catholic, conservative home. My mom and dad are from the Philippines, and they taught me that demons are real. So, I had this very deep-seated fear of like, “demons are outside your door; they’re everywhere! When I saw “The Exorcist,” I went insane. I could not sleep for so long. My parents – my dad – showed me when I was way too young. So supernatural horrors that have to do with demons, monsters, stuff like that; they keep me up all night, and I love it. If I lose sleep on a horror film, I’m like, “yes; you’ve won, you’ve done well.” But yeah, I just love it. It feels fantastical, and I get to explore and push the envelope when shooting stuff; I love it.

SBP: If there was any specific message you wanted to bring across with your movie, what would you say it’d be?

MLG: There are so many messages within it. As in the lead character, Shawna, it’s a coming-of-age film, and we’re exploring the world through her eyes. One of the most important themes we explored was colorism. She’s a dark-skinned black woman, and she’s coming into her own. She’s very insecure about the way that she looks, the way that she is. She doesn’t think that guys like her; she doesn’t have a voice yet. Throughout the film, she discovers her voice and discovers that the strength is within herself. She comes to love her skin and love herself.

I think what’s really important is to find your inner strength. And when you really come to love yourself, others will fall in line. So, it starts with that.

SBP: Is there any specific directing techniques you used to bring your ideas to life?

MLG: I took a lot of inspiration from everywhere. “30 Days of Night” was a huge inspiration for me. This is a little bit lighter, you know because it’s a coming of age and there’s a lot of jokes in it, but I really took a lot of “30 Days of Night” with the silhouettes and seeing the vampires in the distance, the way that they do the fight scenes. I wanted to go even darker, but I couldn’t. For the audience, and this movie, in particular, it’s just a little bit safer.

We do a portion where we do an animation in it, so I take a lot of inspiration from “Kill Bill,” and I looked at a lot of anime, cartoons, and comic books because I love that animated style. I wanted to explore the history of these sets of vampires.

“Fight Club” was a big inspiration for it, too when he’s doing the hypnotizing, I really imagine the portion of “Fight Club” when he’s like “you’re not your khakis,” and stuff like that. So yeah, there was a lot of inspiration in it, pulling from different types of movies to put this together.

Norah Finn Red Carpet interview with Craig Tate, Actor, “Le Faux,”in “Black as Night.”

Craig Tate: Actor, “Le Faux”

Sarah’s Backstage Pass: Hi Craig, can you tell me a little bit about your character?

Craig Tate: Le Faux is a vampire who’s been around for a very long time, a couple of centuries. He has a way about him where he sees what he wants and goes for what he wants, as cliche as that sounds. He’s exotic; he’s a manipulator; he’s a master of oratory and physical manipulation.

SBP: So, he sounds terrifying.

CT: Yeah (laughing)!

SBP: But if there’s anything you could connect yourself with him to, what would it be?

CT: I’m often told that I have an old soul, and obviously, I’m playing someone that’s been alive for a few hundred years, so I can connect on that. Playing a mythical creature, depending on whatever you believe in – vampires or werewolves – it allows you the space to dive into the child-like imagination.

SBP: What did you have to do in order to prepare for your role? Did you have to research vampires?

CT: As a fan of film, I watch movies 24/7, all day, every week. So, obviously, with COVID-19 and the progression of it, the procession of it, going from March to May to August, I guess reading was just my preparation for it. Just reading as much as I can, taking in as much about the mind as I could, reading the different words of the people who’ve been around longer than I have, much like Le Faux. Maybe he read one to two thousand books,right? So, what to do to get inside the mind of a man that’s been around for a long time is you live like a man that’s been around for a long time.

Norah Finn interviewing Sherman Payne, Screenwriter of “Black as Night.” 2021

Sherman Payne: Screenwriter

SBP: When writing a screenplay or a script, what kind of stories do you like to tell?

Sherman Payne: I like to tell stories about characters. I like to start character-first. I don’t really consider the action or genre before considering what I’m trying to say about the central individual driving the narrative. So, I want to get really in-depth with the character, what makes them tick, what drives them, and how they’re going to carry us through the whole story. So, people-driven stories is probably the best answer.

SBP: Yeah, that’s so interesting! I’ve never heard of that kind of process. Most of the time, people think of the story concept first, and then they narrow it down to the characters, but I think that’s important!

SP: Yeah, a lot of people are obsessed with genres and stuff. A lot of people want to really focus themselves on one way of doing stories, but I think the story working from a character point-of-view is the most important thing, and everything else is icing on the cake.

SP: Exactly! Movies are about people, so it should be important that that’s centralized. Yeah! And I love to write about black people. I’m a fan of all cinema from all different cultures, whether it’s white Americans, or Asian people, or Latino people, but I love to put black people on screen. That’s really a big goal of mine.

SBP: I think that’s really important too. Over the years, we haven’t seen a lot of diversity on camera, and we don’t see many deep, dynamic characters. And a lot of them play on different stereotypes, and it’s extremely harmful to people who are watching and the people making it. So, what did you do to create those characters that have that depth?

SP: Well, it’s all about making sure the characters are fully formed people who are trying to achieve something that we can relate to. I think as long as you do that, as long as they’re not surfaced and shallow and you’re really looking at what makes them tick and giving them something that’s going to drive the story. Sometimes you fall into something that’s stereotypical; look at the actor who played Omar from The Wired that died recently. Omar was a guy who held a shotgun and robbed drug dealers, but he never felt stereotypical because he was written so well, and he had so much depth behind the scenes. So, I’m really about finding that depth for each character and making sure they feel like three-dimensional people before we’re putting them on the screen.

SBP: What do you hope the audience is going to take away from your movie?

SP: Well, the first thing that all people should take away from any movie is that they have fun, that they’re entertained, and they watch a story that they find exciting, surprising. Hopefully, they get some laughs and some thrills along the way. That’s the number one thing. Any other writer who says otherwise doesn’t know what they’re talking about. You have to entertain the audience; you have to tell a great story.
But beyond that, I think there’s some great social messaging in this movie, and I hope that people start to think about how we treat people in our society, the people who are really vulnerable. I hope that people consider that. I hope people consider the specific things that happened in New Orleans, throughout history, but also in the last 20 years or so with some of the problems they’ve had and the mismanagement from the government… I hope people consider all that stuff.

“Black as Night” will be available for streaming on Prime Video starting October 1st as a part of Blumhouse’s Welcome to the Blumhouse movie installation.

PHOTO CREDIT: Shalyn Delhaes

Posted by Sarah Knight Adamson© September 24, 2021

The 46th Toronto International Film Festival–The 20 Top Films

The 46th Toronto International Film Festival has wrapped, and I was pleased to have viewed 20 films. Surprisingly, the documentaries scored high on my list, as I enjoyed the films “The Rescue, “Julia,” “Jagged,” and “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over.”

Director Antoine Fuqua’s narrative, portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal in the nail-biting film “The Guilty,” won me over as my favorite film of TIFF-2021. This one-person show is riveting from the first frame until the credit’s role—with Gyllenhaal commanding our attention.

Michael Showalter’s “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” garnered outstanding performances by both Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield, telling a tale of greed and dishonesty.

Stephen Chbosky’s adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical “Dear Evan Hansen” was a joy to view as songs are woven through the film shedding light on essential teen topics. Tony winner Ben Platt portrays Evan, with supporting cast Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, Kaitlyn Dever, Amandla Stenberg, and Nik Dodani.

(from left) Evan Hansen (Ben Platt) and Jared Kalwani (Nik Dodani) in Dear Evan Hansen, directed by Stephen Chbosky.

Below you’ll find the list of films I screened and also 12 films that were not available via screening links.

1. “The Guilty”
2. “Julia Child”
3. “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over”
4. “Jagged”
5. “The Rescue”
6. The Eyes of Tammy Faye”
7. Dear Evan Hansen”
8. “Violet”
9. “The Electrical Life of Louis Wain”
10. “The Mad Women’s Ball”

11. “All My Puny Sorrows”
12.” I’m Your Man”
13. “Murina”
14. “Scarborough”
15. “The Daughter”
16. “The Pink Cloud”
17. “True Things”
18. “Ali & Ava”
19. “The Good House”
20. “I’m Your Man”

The following films were not available during TIFF-2021, which is too bad, as I would have enjoyed watching all of these, they are in alphabetical order: “Belfast,” “Bergman Island,” “Colin In Black & White,” “Drive My Car,” “Dune,” “Encounter,” “Last Night in Soho,” Memoria,” “Spencer,” “”The Humans,” The Power of the Dog” and “The Worst Person in the World.” I look forward to reporting on the remaining films as soon as they are available.

Attending the live Q&A with Kristen Stewart as she discussed her new film “Spencer,” was a highlight, as the conversation painted an in-depth look into her portrayal of Lady Diana.

Sarah Knight Adamson© September 20, 2021

Toronto International Film Festival 2021 Dionne Warwick and Julia H360

The 44th Toronto International Film Festival is here!

Tonight, I will talk about two films that I screened at the Toronto International Film Festival.

First up, the inspiring documentary film “Julia.” Most know that Julia Child was a trailblazer for women as the majority of chefs back in 1951 were males. After graduating from the French cooking school Le Cordon Bleu, she began working in television with her own show called “The French Chef.”

The film is directed by Julie Cohen and Betsy West, best known for their award-winning documentary RBG. Julia is a celebration of one of the most important icons of the 20th century.

Next up, another excellent documentary, “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over,” I’ve always been a fan of the soulful singer of pop music, who’s also known for her rhythm and blues.

I had no idea Dionne Warwick and had so many hit records along with her tireless humanitarian work.

Dionne serves as a positive role model for all. Dave Wooley and David Heilbroner direct the film.

Other standout Toronto films, The Rescue, Jagged, The Good House, Spencer, Belfast, and The Power of the Dog. Next week I’ll talk about the winning films in Toronto.

Thanks for listening in tonight; this is Sarah Knight Adamson; be sure to check out Julia when it opens in November.

Emmy Awards Nominations Part 2- H360 Radio

Hi Carl, and hello to all of our listeners out there; tonight I’d like to talk more about the 73rd TV Emmy Awards that will be airing Sunday, September 19. The show will air on CBS and Paramount+.

Last week I mentioned the Best Comedy Series, and now I’d like to talk about the nominations for Best Actor and Actress in a Comedy Series: The Lead actress Nominations are Aidy Bryant, “Shrill” Kaley Cuoco, “The Flight Attendant” Allison Janney, “Mom” Tracee Ellis Ross, “black-ish” Jean Smart “Hacks.”

In the Lead actor, comedy nominations, we have:
Anthony Anderson, “black-ish” Michael Douglas “The Kominsky Method” William H. Macy, “Shameless” Jason Sudeikis “Ted Lasso” and Kenan Thompson, “Kenan.”

Here’s a clip of Jason Sudeikis, who plays an American college football coach that takes a job in England coaching a Premier Football league.

Here’s an Emmy Category I’m really looking forward to Outstanding Limited Series; the nominations are: Mare of Easttown, I May Destroy You, WandaVision, The Queen’s Gambit, and The Underground Railroad.

Stay tuned for next week’s final coverage the night before the Emmy’s as I’ll talk about my predictions for winners. Thanks for listening in tonight; this is Sarah Knight Adamson, your film and TV critic.

Sarah Knight Adamson@ September 12, 2021

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No Time to Die (R) ★★ 1/2 Chicago Film Festival & Film Fest 919 H360 Podcast

Hi Carl and hello to all of our listeners out there; tonight I’m going to talk about the latest James Bond movie, “No Time to Die,” and two Film Festivals opening this month.

Daniel Craig stars as Bond and has made it clear to all that this is his final film. The director is Cary Joi Fukunaga. Daniel Craig’s performance is incredible, although I wasn’t a fan of the script. The beginning scenes are the best and worth seeing on the big screen; however, the 2 hours 45-minute run-time drags.

Fans will enjoy seeing Bond’s non-stop hand-to-hand combat and his iconic driving skills. There is so much I loved about this film, and there is so much I didn’t like. Here’s the scoop, Anna de Armas’s dress (she’s from “Knives Out”) is to DIE for. Two side slits for kicking and hand-to-hand combat—she stole the show. Sadly, she’s only in about 10 minutes. Daniel Craig shows us more emotion and his ultra-slick Bond skills; Rami Malek’s villain was too blah, and don’t even get me started on the ending.

Side note: I’m a true Bond fan and have met Pierce Bronson in London; he was so cool. Also, I’ve interviewed the director and screenplay writer of “No Time to Die,” Cary Fukunaga, in Chicago in 2011. I admire his work. The film is too long and dragged for me the last 45 minutes.

The Chicago International Film Festival is on now and is showing major films such as “Drive My Car,” a Cannes Winner, and a Toronto Film Festival winner, “Belfast.”

Drive My Car, CIFF-2021
Here’s the full film program for the 57th Chicago International Film Festival. Jane Campion, Kenneth Branagh, Céline Sciamma, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul are just some of the acclaimed directors presenting their latest films in this year’s program alongside such highly anticipated Chicago premieres as “Dune,” “C’mon C’mon,” “The French Dispatch,” and more.

Film Fest 919 starts today, October 18 in Chapel Hill, NC, showing “Spencer” and “King Richard,” “The French Dispatch” and “The Lost Daughter.”I’ll be attending for the week.
Join us as we present the Spotlight Award to Diane Warren, one of our most celebrated songwriters. The evening will include a conversation with Diane moderated by Vanity Fair’s Katey Rich and a high-power laser show choreographed to many of her hit tunes.
Film Fest 919 Tribute to Duane Warren
Some of the hits and notable songs that Warren has written throughout her career includes “Because You Loved Me” (Celine Dion) from Up Close and Personal, “How Do I Live” (Trisha Yearwood) from Con Air and (LeAnn Rimes), “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength” (Whitney Houston), “Can’t Take That Away” (Mariah Carey), “Look Away” (Chicago), “Have You Ever” (Brandy), “Un-Break My Heart” (Toni Braxton), “If I Could Turn Back Time (Cher), “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” (Aerosmith) from Armageddon, “I Was Here” (Beyoncé), “Til It Happens To You” (Lady Gaga) from The Hunting Ground, “Stand Up For Something” (Andra Day and Common) from Marshall, “I’ll Fight” (Jennifer Hudson) from RBG, among many others.
Kristen Stewart: “Spencer”
Will Smith-King Richard

Tickets are on sale now. https://filmfest919.com

Stay Tuned for Updates!

Sarah Knight Adamson© October 18, 2021

The Many Saints of Newark (R) ★★★ H360 Podcast

Tonight, I’m going to talk about the new Soprano movie that stars Michael Gandolfini, the real-life son of James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano. Most of you know that he passed away in 2013.

“The Many Saints of Newark” is a crime drama rated R and is the prequel to the HBO TV series “The Sopranos.” The series first aired in 1999 and ended in 2007 with 6 seasons.

The director is Alan Taylor, with David Chase and Lawrence Konner as screenplay writers. The film takes place during the 60s and 70s in Newark, New Jersey where creator David Chase grew up. We view the grooming of Tony as a teen of a and his family life as a member of a crime family—who in the end has little choice than to continue the traditions. Vera Farmiga as Tony’s mom, is the only parent in the house as dad is away in prison. Mom is ill-equipped to handle her bright son on her own, Tony’s uncles step in, blurring the lines between right and wrong.

The Bottomline, make no mistake, this is a violent film, with race issues and violence toward women. One of the torture scenes, in particular, is overly graphic.

What I especially appreciated was the history lesson of the Newark Riots; I had no recollection of those or the race problems.

Vera Famigina’s performance is award-worthy. I also enjoyed seeing Michael playing his dad’s iconic part of Tony Soprano.

Another plus is viewing Ray Liotta in a double role; yep he plays twin brothers.

Sarah Knight Adamson© October 10, 2021

Check out The Hollywood 360 Radio Network Podcast: https://www.hollywood360radio.com/the-many-saints-of-newark-r-%e2%98%85%e2%98%85%e2%98%85/

 

The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PG-13)★★★ H360 Podcast

Andrew Garfield as “Jim Bakker” and Jessica Chastain as “Tammy Faye Bakker” in the film THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2021 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved

Hi Carl, and hello to all of our listeners out there, tonight I’m going to talk about the film that everyone’s talking about, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” rated PG-13. The film stars Jessica Chastain in an Oscar-worthy performance as Tammy Faye. Her message of love, acceptance, and prosperity her the hallmarks of her gospel life. Tammy Faye’s signature long, black curly eyelashes set her apart and gave her an iconic look she craved.

Andrew Garfield as her husband Jim Bakker, who also gives a riveting performance. We see the rise and fall of televangelists Tammy Faye Bakker and Jim Bakker during the 70s and 80s. They created the world’s largest religious TV broadcasting network named the PLT (Praise the Lord). She’s most known for her long black eyelashes, her crying on TV, her singing voice, and her acceptance of all.

Their lavish lifestyle came to an end when Jim Bakker began breaking the law with his pay-off’s using their religious funds.

The film is directed by Michael Showalter, and it should be noted that Jessica performed all of the songs in the film using her own voice.

The Bottomline? I’m in 3 stars out of for; both leads carry the film from start to finish; we do see Tammy Faye as a younger child, showing us the emotional pain she suffered. Unfortunately, the script is repetitive and doesn’t develop the characters to their fullest extent. Look for Oscar nominations for both.

Thanks for listening in tonight; this is Sarah Knight Adamson, your National film and TV critic for Sarah’s Backstage Pass… I’ll see you next week.

Sarah Knight Adamson©October 3, 2021

Check out the podcast on Hollywood 360 Radio Network: https://www.hollywood360radio.com/the-eyes-of-tammy-faye-pg-13%e2%98%85%e2%98%85%e2%98%85/

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Sarah Knight Adamson

Sarah Knight Adamson

Entertainment Journalist