Based on the runaway bestseller, Where’d You Go, Bernadette is an inspiring comedy about Bernadette Fox (Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett), a loving mom who becomes compelled to reconnect with her creative passions after years of sacrificing herself for her family. Bernadette’s leap of faith takes her on an epic adventure that jump-starts her life and leads to her triumphant rediscovery.

Director: Richard Linklater

Writer: Screenplay by Richard Linklater & Holly Gent & Vince Palmo

Based on the novel written by Maria Semple

Producers: Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson, Ginger Sledge

Executive Producers: Megan Ellison, Jillian Longnecker

Cast: Cate Blanchett, Billy Crudup, Kristen Wiig, Emma Nelson, James Urbaniak, Judy Greer, Troian Bellisario, Zoe Chao and Laurence Fishburne



Official Site: Bernadette.Film

Facebook: /BernadetteFilm

Instagram: @BernadetteFilm

Twitter: @BernadetteFilm

In Theaters August 16, 2019


Silencio Movie Review

I’ll start the review of ‘Silencio’ with a bit of a lesson. Something that’ll help you while watching. The Chihuahuan Desert is an ecoregion with a small peculiar feature that receives regular solar radiation. It covers parts of northern Mexico and the southwestern United States, about 400 miles from El Paso, Texas. It’s important to know that information going in because, for some reason, within the northern part of the Chihuahuan desert, in Mexico, is a section that baffles the mind and perplexes science. It’s called the ‘Zone of Silence.’ Within this zone, radio signals won’t go through, compasses won’t work properly, essentially, any and all radio equipment fails. Peculiar indeed. It’s said in the film that the oddly magnetic area is between the 26th and 28th parallel, the same line that runs through the Bermuda Triangle, in fact. This is a great subject for a cryptic film so writer/director, Lorena Villarreal, takes a stab at the theme.

Since the area has so many anomalies, her twist is to use it as a story that centers around the mystic, supernatural and spiritual. We start in 1970 where a scientist, James (Noble), is analyzing the crash site of a missile that went down in the Zone of Silence. While doing so, he and his assistant Peter discover analyze a radioactively charged rock. Being young, Peter can’t help but do the stupid thing and try to touch the darn thing. He’s cautioned not to but then James touches it. So much for being the smart one, right? Seems it’s okay that he did because after he touches it, there’s an explosion which sends them back to an earlier point in his life. No. He isn’t given the opportunity to be young again and get stock in Google or anything. They journey to the recent past, to a point in time where he’s given the opportunity to save his granddaughter from dying in a car crash. He hugs her when he sees her and says that he’s happy to have her, ‘…back again.’

He’s with her when the car that crashed into his entire family originally still hits the car. Despite his trying to warn them, the rest of his family perishes. At least he has Ana.

We move to the future. James’ mind has taken a turn for the worse but is taken care of by Ana and a nurse. We deduce that the female lead is Ana, (Matthews), grown up by a photo on her desk. She’s now a therapist. In her office, she converses with a gentleman named Daniel (Chauvet) who tells her that he not only sees dead people but that he’s seeing one linked to her. She was never completely convinced he had the gift until he says that there’s one standing next to her with a message this very moment. The message he gives her is from her sister Lisa (one of the unfortunate victims of the car accident). Through this message, we learn that she cares for her sister’s health, warning that she’s in danger. She can wake up her grandfather’s mind and in so doing, they can find the stone that James buried. It’s said that it’s the anniversary of their death, so these revelations are connected, you’ll assume. She does this crazy thing Lisa tells her to do. She says ‘three’ three times and he snaps back. Okay. He must not be fully back because  he’s unable to find the stone. Then, someone else is after it and the story starts to lose your interest. It’s not a mystery as to who would want the stone or who would have knowledge of its powers. There’s a kidnapping of Ana’s little boy, Felix. This happens because he absolutely refuses to hush when it’s the most important moment in his life to do so. The boy is taken, and the child will be returned in good condition upon the appearance of what they require. Ana now has a life or death race for a rock.

The plot gets somewhat ridiculous. Not only the plot but the acting is contrived. John Noble, who I usually find spot on, exaggerates his illness, anger, confusion or any other emotion he has, to the point of being irritating. That said, Melina Matthews does the exact opposite, giving a performance worth getting her attention. The script, however, wants to mix science with the spiritual and with love. With this spiritual narrative, as typically with real life, this is a tangled road to maneuver, difficult to get and keep everyone on board.

‘Silencio,’ is on VOD and DVD May 14 from Uncork’d Entertainment.

The Intruder Movie Review

Best use of the word ‘capiche’ ever.  Okay. I’ll be honest. If you like this sort of movie, you’re going to enjoy this one. I say that with confidence because of the performances. However, I’d like to suggest to you that you see it with a large audience. Their reactions to parts of the film, and to the characters, made it more delightful. My audience was laughing, groaning, screaming and even warning, at just the right moments. They were doing this as if what they had to say would be heard and their suggestions adhered to and because of them, it added to the experience.

They weren’t loud or annoying. They knew exactly what I knew but were livelier and more drawn to act rather than hold it in. I wanted to say the same things to these characters, trust me. I mean, how many signs does the person up on that screen need before they do something about a bad situation?!? The answer to that question for ‘The Intruder’ might be that there’ll never be enough. Dennis Quaid’s character, Charlie, had free reign to do whatever he wanted to these people because he wasn’t stopped… for some reason, couldn’t be stopped. The quick take on it is that you’ll be entertained by this talented cast… especially by Quaid! He’s downright creepy as hell in this! Through his character, ‘The Intruder’ delivers one of the biggest jump-scares I’ve ever seen… and I’m usually quite prepared for them. 

Here’s the plot. A nice- and nice-looking young couple, Scott (Ealy) and Annie (Good) have moved up in the world and drive up to the Napa Valley to take a look at a beautiful piece of land with a gorgeous house. Scott isn’t as crazy about the house as his wife Annie but can see it’s potential. Annie falls in love with it immediately and wouldn’t change a thing. The owner, Charlie, who wants to sell it to them, has a peculiar fondness for, almost a relationship with the house. In fact, there’s probably a video somewhere that would disturb us all, that’s how close to it he is. He does sell it to them but doesn’t stop his upkeep of the property. He makes his presence known first with simple little visits to mow the lawn. These become more frequent and, at first, it’s odd but he’s welcome. Annie works at home alone while Scott works almost ninety-minutes away in San Francisco. She isn’t bothered by his pop-ins but as they convert from pop-ins to a regular thing, Scott is more and more disconcerted and uncomfortable, especially when Charlie disagrees with changes and actually feels he has a say in what the couple does to their home. Charlie’s tapestry… don’t mess with the tapestry. Quickly, Charlie becomes a bit too chummy with Annie which has not gone by unnoticed by Scott. As I’ve mentioned, Annie doesn’t mind the attention.

As we get further into the movie, we see what Charlie is up to and why. He does start to feel as close to Annie as he does to his home which is definitely unnatural. It becomes apparent, he now wants them both. Quaid then turns up the eerie factor, yet Annie still isn’t alarmed?! Scott is practically banging his head against the wall trying to make her see that something is not right about Charlie’s presence. Neither man is subtle about how they feel toward one another, either, which keeps you somewhat exhilarated. When Scott has had enough and finally confronts Charlie face-to-face, they square off with one another. It’s an intense scene and the movie continues to build on the tension from there.

The way director Deon Taylor reveals the monster lurking around this couple’s home is often amusing but works to terrify because when people are insane, you not only don’t know what they’ll do but what they’ve done; what they’re capable of. They don’t have a button that turns off the crazy and they can turn into something you can’t handle. Something you’d never see coming. This is how Taylor approaches his desire to make his characters real. However, with what Annie and Scott have learned and what has happened… who’d be this shortsighted or gullible as to continue to put themselves in the role of the potential victim? Scott wouldn’t. Annie wouldn’t. I just don’t see it as a believable plotline.

Nonetheless, its irrationality is what makes it worth a watch. Hey, Hollywood! Quaid has a new genre! He needs more of these roles. My view of ‘The Intruder’ is that it’s a fresh take on something we’ve seen before. That fresh take was something I was appreciative of but parts of the script are a little too loose. The thought behind the story will be hard to believe… but for a revolving door idea… it frankly isn’t all that bad.

The Highwaymen Movie Review

Clever cinematography pulls you in but it’s the script that grabs and holds you. Very well written, ‘The Highwaymen’ resuscitates and retells us the story of Bonnie and Clyde from a different angle. From the point of view of the law. More specifically, this film is about the two friends and retired Texas Rangers, Frank Hamer (Costner) and Maney Gault (Harrelson), who brought Bonnie and Clyde down when even Hoover’s FBI had all but given up. Unlike the 1967 Arthur Penn film, ‘Bonnie and Clyde,’ we see here why it was essential these criminals be stopped rather than praised for who they were. A stylized tactic used by the filmmakers to keep their evil, rather than their appeal, at the forefront was to keep the image of the pair virtually unseen until the moment of their demise. You see them, just not very clearly and certainly not as they were almost idealized in ’67.

The film ‘Bonnie and Clyde,’ admired by both the writer, John Fusco (Hidalgo, Young Guns) and director John Lee Hancock (The Founder, The Blindside) of ‘The Highwaymen,’ did exactly what the public in 1934 did but in a very different way. We see the flash but then, it’s so subtle that you, this new audience, can focus more clearly and see what Bonnie and Clyde actually were… monsters. They made them look glamorous, like heroes, larger than life and something to cherish. After all, they were stealing from the rich and giving to the poor… right? Not exactly. In fact, not at all. What sets the two films apart most is that the idolization of who these people were, is not done.

It’s made clear that these two lived lavishly, virtually as celebrities, but it also exposes that had taken advantage of everyone along the way, used them, and that they were immoral and corrupt. They wanted more of everything and weren’t afraid to kill to get it. Nice people! And this version of events shows you that they, seems Bonnie, in particular, were cold to the core and needed to be stopped. They don’t get bloody because to tell the story it doesn’t need to. However, the filmmakers show you and tell you all you need to know to be instantly rooting for the men who take up the case. When Frank learns of how many officers have been ‘dropped,’ that’s all he needed to hear before he was willing to strap on his gun again. More like several guns, as is depicted in a scene where he goes shopping and makes a store owners entire year. Guns, maps and each other were all they had and all they needed. One particular moment with a map is used as a little wink to the audience to make us widen our eyes and linger for just a moment, wondering, ‘How did they get anywhere before they had their phones to guide them?!’ 

Cinematographer John Schwartzman, who worked with Hancock on ‘Saving Mr. Banks,’ makes the landscape an essential character in the film as it paints a vivid picture of the nothingness of life at the time. It shows us why people may have become so desperate and certainly why someone would have admired these soulless individuals for striking back at ‘the man.’ People had nothing else, so they cheered them on. In my interview with him, John Fusco let me in on something he learned in his research. Bonnie always wanted to be a Broadway star. She was stealing for herself and Clyde was doing the same thing. It’s a shame that people ever spent one moment believing this couple were anything but rubbish.

Anyway, the chemistry, the writing, the cinematography, the acting, the score… everything comes together to make this old story seem refreshing. Fusco’s take on period pieces is always rich and layered. Though his scripts, while he shows you one thing, you’re learning so much more. ‘The Highwaymen’ is no different in this respect. He has written a damn good story about old cops helping the new bring down the bad guys. He leaves nothing out, even taking time to point out that bringing down the bad girl was an issue for some at the time. Mostly because ‘she was just a little bitty thing.’ I want you to see this. I want you to believe me. I’ll be honest, it’s a tad slow at times, but it doesn’t drag one bit, nor does it dissatisfy.
*After watching, stay for more information at the end.

‘The Highwaymen’ comes to Netflix on March 29, 2019.
See it now in select theatres.


My interview with John Lee Hancock and John Fusco of ‘The Highwaymen’

As you should posthaste, I recently watched the highly entertaining Netflix Original ‘The Highwaymen.’ Having enjoyed it so, I couldn’t wait to converse with the men who created the film, director John Lee Hancock and writer John Fusco.

The two are incredibly passionate, inspiring, intellectual, kind and talented as hell.

With films such as ‘Hidalgo,’ ‘Thunderheart’ and ‘Young Guns’ to his name, it only makes sense that John Fusco would write about a Texas Ranger bringing down notorious gangsters. This chat will fill you in as to how, over years of interest and research into crime, these particular felon’s lore developed in young John Fusco’s mind to appear on your screen.  

His partner in the project, John Lee Hancock, who’s from Texas, couldn’t have been a better choice to bring John’s tale to life. Known not to shy away from making ambitious, real-life dramas, Hancock directed ‘The Alamo,’ ‘The Blindside,’ and ‘The Founder’ and now Fusco’s story about Frank Hamer (Kevin Costner) and Maney Gault (Woody Harrelson), which tells us about these two Texas Rangers. They’re friends as well as lawmen who came out of retirement in 1934 to retire the vicious Bonnie and Clyde and the Barrow gang. Unlike the 1967 Arthur Penn film, ‘Bonnie and Clyde,’ we see why it was important that they are stopped rather than praised for who they were. Read here how this film came to be.           

TMC: What inspired you to share this story?

Fusco: I grew up with a real fascination with outlaws and gangsters. I think you can look at my work and realize that. (Smiles) So, when the 1967 Arthur Penn movie came out, I was in my pajamas at the drive-in with my mother and father, and it just continued to fuel my fascination with Bonnie and Clyde. So, I wanted to know everything I could, after that movie, about them. I had these books that my mother didn’t want me to have that graphic crime scene photos… I was obsessed. But as I started researching, I realized ‘Wow. You know what? They weren’t Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty.’ They killed a lot of people, left a lot of victims and destroyed a lot of lives during The Depression. But, along with that, the portrayal of the protagonist, Frank Hamer or ‘Hammer’ as they called him in the movie, was so far off the mark that it was troubling to me as a young person. So, I started researching Hamer’s life and saw that no one ever abducted him, tied him up in the back of a car, spit on him, sexually taunted him, put him in a rowboat and shoved him across a lake. He didn’t go out and kill them out of revenge for some vendetta. In actuality, he was one of the greatest law officers of the 20th century. He took on the KKK singlehandedly, kind of exemplifying that one riot, one ranger ethos. He was a really cool western hero to me as a kid.
So, suddenly, here I was going from gangster worship to, ‘Wow! Hamer kinda got a bad deal in this.’ And so, I grew up waiting for someone to do his story on some level and it never happened. Eventually, as my writing career was going on, it was still in the back of my mind. And it had nothing to do with the corrective or answer to the Arthur Penn movie, which, I have to say, I recognize as a watershed film, a cultural touchstone and I’m part of that filmmaking generation who was inspired by it. There’s no denying that. I just felt like the side of the story about two retired Texas Rangers coming out of retirement to enter the gangster era is a really cool western. Kind of that elegiac ride the high-country type of story.

Hancock: For me, John was there from the start and wrote it, so I was just reading the script that came to me and being from Texas, I knew some of Frank Hamer who’s one of the most legendary Texas Ranger. Of course, I knew some of Bonnie and Clyde. But for me, I just… I’m a huge fan of the ’67 film; watched it all the time. It wasn’t so much Bonnie and Clyde, I was really drawn to the dark journey of these two men who have a terrible gift, and their gift is they’re blood hunters. And they know it’s going to be ugly, they know what it’s going to look like; what’s at the end of the road waiting for them. And there’s no one they can talk to but each other. So, it’s kind of a ‘men loving men,’ ‘these two guys together’ that drew me. And I looked at it as, if anything, a companion piece to ‘Bonnie and Clyde.’ Not to say you’re not aware of it while you’re making the film, I mean, of course, you are. You’ve got one of the more famous cinematic scenes is the ambush of Bonnie and Clyde so you approach it and go, ‘What can we do that’s different?’ Not as an answer to it, not as pushback or anything, no. You don’t want the comparison… you can’t outdo the operatic ballet of bullets, which was fantastic. So, you go, ‘Okay. Well, our option is, we’re going to play it in real-time. Nothing’s gonna be slow mo. Everything’s gonna be real. It’s going to be brutally violent. And it’s going to be bloody and it’s gonna be as promised. It’s gonna be worse than promised.’ And then, the heavy weight that carries with these guys. There’s no joy at the end of this. They walk away with more soil on their souls. That’s what drew me to it. That kind of heavy, dark, lonely journey.

Fusco: I think that what John recognized in that, is what we really set out to mine. The story is the weight that these two guys carry from the things they’ve done and the thing they have to do to finish out… that moral gravitas.    

TMC: Did you take poetic license with the conversation between Hamer and Barrow’s father?

Fusco: Well, the conversation actually happened. It happened in a different chronology. It happened in Arcadia, Louisiana, in the aftermath in which he approached Frank and said, ‘You did what had to be done, I don’t hold it against you, and I understand. We’ve all been through hell with this thing.’

TMC: Going to the two leads, Hamer and Gault seemed like an old married couple. They had a friendship but also worked well together. Did one or both of you approach it from that angle? To show on screen more of their friendship or how well they worked with one another? Which was more important?

Hancock:  You’re always hopeful… the thing you don’t want to do it, ‘Let’s flashback to the time when Maney and Frank were in their twenties in south Texas,’ or something like that. You’ve got a certain imperative, even though I’m the first to recognize that it’s not a, ‘will they catch them or not?’ We all know what happens. It’s about trying to make the journey interesting. So, for me it was… I was hopeful that when you saw these guys together, in the car, with the rapport, with the dialogue that John’s written, that we would understand the legacy of their friendship. Just the fact that Frank drove all the way to Lubbock to see if Maney might be up for the job speaks to that. To me. And then hopefully you can get them on the road and that, that would be inherent.

TMC: I liked how we saw Bonnie and Clyde throughout the entire film and then at the climax, it really resonates on multiple levels visually because of their betrayal. What was the inspiration behind that? Was it in the script? Did it get developed along the way?

Hancock: It’s twofold. It was in the script. John described it in such a way that you never quite got the look that you wanted out of ‘em. When I came on board, I thought this was an exciting opportunity to have two very different visual styles to play that meet up at the ambush site. So, talking to John Schwartzman, our great DP (Director of Photography), I said I wanted to shoot it like a graphic novel. I want all the stuff with Bonnie and Clyde to be highly stylized frames with amazing, beautiful, poppy clothes… shiny cars. I want it to look fast. I want it to look sexy. I want it to all that for two reasons. One, because that’s how the public in 1934 thought of them. And two, the way I might view the movie if I weren’t involved with it is, ‘No. I get this. I’ve seen Penn’s movie. They are sexy and the cars are fast and they’re amazing and beautiful and all that.’ And then when they enter the naturalistic part of the movie, we stay with Frank and Maney through a more naturalistic style when they enter it and they pull up and get a good look at their face, we see that they’re scrawny kids.
So, on the one hand, the public in 1934 has been duped, that we’ve come across, and hopefully the audience has been duped, as well. Saying, ‘It’s not what I expected.’ It’s not like, ‘Ha-ha! I gotcha!’ Pull the rug out. It’s more of a, to me, ‘Everything about this enterprise is ugly and now I’ve got to kill kids on top of it.’

TMC: The movie implicitly condemns Bonnie and Clyde’s violence. The movie also touches upon these men, that they’re also murderers. They’ve done some terrible, bloody things. There’s a moment in the film where one of them rejects an interview about their killing of Bonnie and Clyde but now you’ve made a movie about that. Do you think that the movie runs the risk of sensationalizing the violence that these men carried out?

Hancock: It doesn’t bother me. For one, I would take exception to calling them murderers as a blanket statement because if you’re an officer of the law and there’s a person shooting at you, you need to shoot them.
That didn’t come into the definition we—

Fusco: (Leans in) No, no. ‘Manhunters.’

Hancock. Yeah. They were manhunters. They were going after the bad guy and the bad guy has this and you could go case by case with a hundred different files maybe and find something. I wouldn’t disagree; I’m not a historian. I think calling them blanket murderers is 100% incorrect. Legally.

TMC: Well, yeah, legally. I was referring to the stories of when they broke into a place and shot a bunch of people before they could put their hands up. Some may see that as unethical and more murder than punitive justice.

Hancock: I would go with it being unethical and certainly a gray area. In that time and place, it was, unfortunately, more commonplace than one would think. Did they come to this story without flaws? Without demons? Without their own stuff? No, they don’t. They’re not perfect human beings and I think that’s part of that journey that we’re talking about, that they regret. I think that’s what the story is about. The burden you carry with that terrible gift. So, I would agree that, yes, this is not… these aren’t completely righteous men doing the right thing. They are doing what they think is necessary. Even the governor thinks that their style of doing things is not ‘PC,’ even though that wasn’t a term in 1934.

Fusco: That’s a really thoughtful question. For two years, Barrow and Parker were out there killing. When the law tried to do ‘legal’ roadblocks and get them to surrender, a lot of that was, ‘There’s a woman with him. There’s a girl with him.’ These law officers were killed. They had three-thousand rounds of armor-piercing ammunition in the damn car.

Hancock: When they found them.

Fusco: Yeah. They had three Browning automatic rifles fully loaded, ten Colt automatic pistols, three loaded shotguns, other handguns. I always described it as, kind of, a runaway train with hazardous materials in it. It had to be stopped. Hoover and a 1,000-man dragnet, for two years, was not able to catch them. It got to the point where, ‘We gotta go to a dark place and bring out two guys who come from another era; who come from the old-time Ranger school. But it is interesting because Hamer was a humble, quiet guy who did not want to talk about this stuff. Turned down Tom Mix for a movie offer. Turned down $10,000 for a book deal.

Hancock: I think the reason, and I don’t know this to be true but, in my heart and mind, I think the reason that Frank Hamer took on a job that… he didn’t need the money, why did he take this on? I think it galled him. They were more than small-town heroes. They were national heroes and in the international press. I think it galled him that people were being made famous for things they should be ashamed of. He was an old-school guy. I think that’s what put him behind the wheel of his wife’s car to go out… because he didn’t need the money. And maybe that’s an old fashion sense of right and wrong but I think that’s who Frank Hamer was. Did he always do right? Nope. Like Ma Ferguson says in the movie, ‘You leave me to answer for the blood.’ Yeah. They get the bad guy but it ain’t pretty. The whole thing is an ugly enterprise which is why, at the end of the movie, the thing I really wanted to come across, and why we shot at the actual location, wasn’t just because it was authentic and cool and creepy and all that, which it was, it was that there was a pervasive sense over the crew and the actors, ‘We gotta help them recreate it. One, the anxiety and, ‘Here they come. Here they come. Here they come.’ And I’m gonna keep firing until my gun is empty. It’s overkill. There’s no doubt about it. When that car comes to a stop, there’s no joy in Mudville. By all the reports, ‘It’s done and I’m glad it’s done and it’s worse than I thought it would be.’ Then, as bad as that is, to see what happens in Arcadia. Which, by the way, was toned down in the movie. There were thousands more people. They were trying to cut off Clyde’s trigger finger and his ear. They cut off locks of her hair.

Fusco: They were putting their handkerchiefs in Bonnie’s blood.

Hancock: Taking pieces of the car… it was grotesque. They loved ‘em when they were alive. They loved ‘em when they were dead.

TMC: Would that be the start of a revolution of Bonnie and Clyde’s efforts? And their response… was it revolutionary in terms of how the public perceived what they were doing and how the public perceived what Frank and Maney were doing to try and stop them?

Hancock: Revolutionary in what way, from a police tactic standpoint?

TMC: Yeah. And the way we respond to things. You know, with social media today, something’s on there and the world reacts. Back then, you had to wait two or three days before you read something about what was going on and yet, as you just pointed out, there were dozens of people who were cheering and crying over their deaths. Celebrity status. Their reaction to the law enforcement side of it was very dark and was unprincipled, yet they were both men of moral conviction. I think that signaled a change in the way I think about their tactics and how we react to things.

Hancock: I don’t know. It’s interesting. The legacy of the ambush and everything is…. we could fill this room with historians now who’d disagree about everything, trust me. About every single thing. But the fact that the posse, the six of them, decided never to talk about it and no one could write about it until the last person, everybody was gone except the last person… and who knows how much to believe of what came out or whatever, but we do know that the Parker family and the Barrow family were very open in public. They invited everybody in—

Fusco: (Jumps in) They toured with the crime doctor who bought the death car and went on tour with it, with Bonnie Parker’s mother Emma and Henry Barrow who had little patches of Clyde’s trousers’ that he was killed in, that he’d sell. They traveled, they toured with the car.

Hancock: There’s a funny letter from Bonnie’s mom about Frank Hamer saying, ‘Those guns weren’t stolen. They’re our property. You must return them.’ (Laughs) Yeah, right.

Fusco: They were stolen from an armory. It’s a great question and I don’t know if I’m grasping it right, but public sentiment did start to turn at Grapevine Texas. Easter morning, those two patrolmen on motorcycles who came up… one, it was his first day on the job. He kept his shotgun shells in his pocket, which we reference, but he did that because he was afraid that if he took a spill on his bike, the gun might inadvertently kill somebody. An innocent person. So, he had to try and get his shells and the gun. He was scheduled to be married two weeks later, and his widow wore his wedding gown to his funeral. And, so those stories started to leak and little by little, the public started to feel like, ‘Well, wait a minute.’ My mother remembers her Scottish immigrant father, my grandfather, being obsessed with True Detective magazine following this saga, it was like a Soap Opera. She remembers the day they got Clyde and Bonnie. ‘Really? They’re gone? They’re dead? These lovers on the run.’ No one ever talks about those victims. The Native American, full-blooded Chickasaw, who had worked so hard to become a deputy sheriff in a white town, had a family, and Clyde killed him with a 30-caliber rifle. And all the families who had been left on the breadline. And children raised without fathers during the depression, who had to endure, had to watch this celebrity… like, you know, ‘I’m a young man and I gotta go to work because my dads’ been killed by these two who everybody’s glamorizing. So, there was a certain groundswell of, ‘Wait a minute. Who are these two?’

TMC: Did you purposefully add Hamer waving at the FBI plane and at Hoover because he really only got involved when something was successful?  

Fusco: Yes. That was my intention in the script, yeah. Hoover really resented Frank Hamer and resented the fact that he was on the case. They weren’t the FBI at that point. It was like the fledgling FBI. It was the birth… right at the beginning. There were other FBI on the ground who did recognize, ‘We got a real pro out there and he might be old school but…’ But Hoover resented him and resented the fact that it took him two years… for two years, he couldn’t get him. This guy (Hamer) went out using Comanche tracking skills and caught them. But really got under his skin was that something came up in the press, it was, ‘Dillinger’s still out there and nobody’s got ‘im.’ And Hamer said, ‘Well, Mr. Hoover would like to have a conversation about that.’ Hoover didn’t like him.

TMC: Frank was a tracker. I can barely operate my phone. (They laugh) Is that a lost art or still in practice today because I find that kind of thing fascinating.

Fusco: As do I. I studied tracking. It’s a real passion of mine. Hamer studied with the Comanche and really appreciated that skill. A lot of the old-time Rangers did. It only exists in one law enforcement area right now and that’s a group at the border which is all Native American patrol called the Shadow Wolves. They use traditional tracking methods. So, they train border patrol and federal officers in using those old tracking methods.

TMC: (To Fusco) I was reading in the notes… says you were, to quote you, ‘Always fascinated particularly with what is underneath the veneer and myth of folklore.’ And I’ve seen that in your screenplays. ‘The Highwaymen,’ obviously, ‘Thunderheart’ and ‘Young Guns.’ What drives that for you as a writer? Is it pure curiosity, do you dig into it or are you always looking to—

Fusco: I think it goes back to the first story I told about being a kid and being fascinated by Billy the Kid, Bonnie and Clyde. I used to sit and stare at those photos and say, like, ‘How did this Billy the Kid, this diminutive, little bucktooth outlaw in New Mexico, rise to this iconic level? How did that happen?’ And why were there forty-two movies made about him, where did this legend of the left-handed gun come from and the fact that he was this lone gunfighter who whistled sad ballads. You know? What I found was that if you dig underneath the veneer of the legend, you find the history. It can be a lot uglier and more crude, but it’s always more fascinating. And then to explore how that history becomes myth and why. And I think that really applies to this movie.

TMC: Are there other stories you’re itching to tell?

Fusco: Oh, yeah. There are some coming up.

Hancock: Keep me posted! (They both laugh)

TMC: Some of the towns Frank and Maney drive through are very poor. There are a number of establishing shots, kind of, showing the destitution people are living in. A lot of people who celebrated, even the criminal violent acts of Bonnie and Clyde saw them as the common man’s hero. Someone has a line in the movie about how they hate the banks.

Fusco: Banks are the devil.

Hancock: They rob banks and the banks rob from me.

TMC: So, a lot of people saw them as hitting back at the establishment. What were you trying to convey by showing how poor these towns were while also demonstrating how horrible these crimes were? There’s sort of a disconnect between, ‘They’re robbing from the people who are hurting us but they’re also hurting other people.’

Hancock: I think that they were, kind of, given a pass because hatred was so great for the banks and that was the overriding feeling. You know, the farms, the stores, your houses. The banks were taking them all. Everybody’s hurting. They want them to be Robin Hood. They’re taking from the rich, but they’re not giving to the poor. They’re robbin!’ They’re not Robin Hood. But you need a hero when you’re in that deep, dark place. You want a hero and you want somebody’s who’s going to strike out at ‘The Man.’

Fusco: And I think the ‘Lovers on the Run’ element, that really appealed to the people and Bonnie and Clyde… they played into it. They saw this and were acting out a sick fantasy of being movie stars. Bonnie wanted to be a Broadway star. Clyde wanted to be a famous musician. It was almost like, ‘If we can’t be famous, we’re going to be notorious.’ They were very aware. As John has said before, ‘They were branding before branding.’ If they had Instagram, they would have been on.

Hancock: They’d have a lot of followers. They’d be tweeting every day. Even more than Trump.

Fusco: Like Dillinger at the time… saw himself as a John Gotti. He felt that he had class, and I’ll admit, I didn’t know a lot about Dillinger, but he saw himself as a bona fide Robin Hood. He was robbing big, hardcore banks and was feeding money back to the people. He would write to the papers and say, ‘Please don’t mention Bonnie and Clyde in the same article with me. Those are pintsized punks who are killing gas station attendants.’ Circulation was plummeting during The Depression. Newspapers were going under. Publishers were like, ‘What’s going on?’ People did not want to read about depressing, economic news. They were interested in three things. Sports heroes, movie stars and flashy gangsters.

TMC: If it bleeds, it leads.

Fusco: Yeah. And so, that’s what was getting the ink and Bonnie and Clyde really played into that. Bonnie always referred to her public. ‘I don’t want my public to think I smoke cigars so please let them know I was just posing with Clyde’s cigar for the shot.’ It’s incredible. It’s… it’s an incredible story.

Yes, it is. ‘The Highwaymen’ is a unique way to look at Bonnie and Clyde. This film is a great example as to why it’s important there are writers like the noble John Fusco out there. He helps us view different angles of every story. Admirably, he gives us a glimpse of this legacy from a standpoint we might not otherwise have marched on to view. He gives us the foundations of it, the truth, the barbarity and John Lee Hancock was the precise ally for him to jump in with. I hope you enjoyed getting to know them a little here.   


Midsommer Trailer



STARRING: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Vilhelm Blomgran, Archie Madekwe, Ellora Torchia, and Will Poulter

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In Theaters Summer 2019


Greta Movie Review

Greta is a dark, psychological thriller that’s all payoff with no setup. It’s suspense without the time taken to correctly build up the character’s relationships. This being the case, there’s virtually no chance to create a rapport with you, the audience. Without the much-needed connection to each other, it’s difficult for you to release and let yourself go and sink into the story.
We meet the main characters and are thrown into the heart of the storyline before our first kernel of popcorn. We’re then expected to believe that what feels like immediately after meeting, these people have created a bond that would have them care for and trust one another to the degree that they have no need to question motives. No! It just doesn’t happen that way and Neil Jordan should have known that. Had the proper structure been designed, this would have gone far beyond expectations. As it’s presented, it sadly disappoints.

Through conversations with her roommate, Erica (Maika Monroe), we learn that Frances’ (Chloe Grace Moretz) mother has passed away. This is the thin argument as to how the screenwriters might be able to explain Frances embracing Greta (Isabelle Huppert) so quickly. However, knowing the character the short time you do, you realize she’s too smart and independent to want or need anything from anyone and we’re back to square one where it doesn’t work. Frances is kind-hearted and when she notices a purse had been left on the train, she physically takes it to the address inside and to the rightful owner. When you meet Greta, you can believe she’s a vicious snake that would crawl in any hole your heart leaves unguarded. This part, Jordan got right! Huppert is stellar in her characterization of a woman looking for vulnerable people the city is ready to eat alive. She starts to nibble right away. As they get to know one another, Frances makes one mistake. She tells Greta that she’s like chewing gum, ‘I tend to stick around.’ That’s all Greta needed to hear. Not long after, Frances is at Greta’s house for dinner. While Frances is searching for candles, she discovers more purses with different identifications that Greta has warehoused in a cabinet. She leaves the house and Greta’s life behind. Or so she thinks. Again… happens too quickly.

Up to this point, the movie should have been building you up. Unfortunately, the tale has nowhere to go but down from here. Everything’s out in the open! There isn’t enough time for Frances to be horrified at the thought of what her friend has done, terrified at the discovery, or just plain upset about now having to boot this friend from her life, because, in the natural order of things, none of this would have happened. I realize we can ‘sacrifice realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment’ and all that but for what they’re asking, and what happens beyond this point, Jordan could have had a real gem here. So, I must be honest with you, my reader.
What does happen next, as Greta attempts to stay in her life, is terrifying! She won’t leave Frances alone and won’t let her go. She goes to great lengths to try and win her back by explaining she’s just lonely. The creep factor is elevated because Greta doesn’t mind being seen doing her stalking. When her prey turns around, the Huntress is right behind her. The regrettable thing about this part being so delicious is that by the time this comes into play, you’re already shaking your head and not buying what you’re being sold.
I wish ‘Greta’ had been better because these actresses gave it everything they had and still couldn’t make it work. They were strong and believable but it’s not easy to make an anemic script, with ghastly dialogue, look flush. Kudos to them on the attempt.

‘The Highwaymen’ starring Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson coming soon to Netflix!!

The outlaws made headlines. The lawmen made history. From director John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side), THE HIGHWAYMEN follows the untold true story of the legendary detectives who brought down Bonnie and Clyde. When the full force of the FBI and the latest forensic technology aren’t enough to capture the nation’s most notorious criminals, two former Texas Rangers (Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson) must rely on their gut instincts and old school skills to get the job done.

*Launches globally on Netflix on March 29 with exclusive theatrical engagements beginning March 15th.

Distributor: Netflix

Cast: Kevin Costner, Woody Harrelson, Kathy Bates, Kim Dickens

Directed by: John Lee Hancock

Written by: John Fusco

Producer: Casey Silver

Executive Producers: Michael J. Malone, John Lee Hancock, Woody Harrelson, Kevin Costner, Rod Lake

Music By: Thomas Newman

Cinematography By: John Schwartzman

Production Design By: Michael Corenblith

Costume Design By: Daniel Orlandi

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Everybody Knows Movie Review

One thing for sure is that writer and director, Asghar Farhadi, lives up to expectations. Having worked in the business since 2002, in 2011, he launched himself into major notoriety with his film, ‘A Separation,’ where he was adorned with awards. In fact, he was the first Iranian filmmaker to win an Academy Award®. Similarly, he was the first Iranian filmmaker to be nominated for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, better known as the ‘Bafta.’ This made him so successful that Farhadi was listed as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in the year 2012.

Now that I’ve introduced you to the writer/director of ‘Everybody Knows,’ I’ll tell you about the movie. With the help of an extremely clever trailer and the talents of the Oscar-winning, real-life couple, Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem, what Farhadi has essentially done here is lead you in one direction yet take you somewhere completely unexpected.

You wander into the film believing the story will be more about love, the trouble that sometimes comes with it and about Laura (Cruz) and Paco’s (Bardem) past together and are surprised with more of a mystery. The story is about those very things but not in the way you’d think which makes the yarn that much better.

We meet Paco, who has a winery, and Laura, who has traveled from Argentina to Spain with her children to attend her sister’s wedding. Paco has wisdom to share with us such as the only difference between grape juice and wine is time. Lines such as this makes you think their relationship may have aged in the same manner… like a fine wine. When Laura first gets there, her very social and gregarious teenage daughter Irene (Campra), prances about getting as much attention as she can. However, it turns out that she also gets the attention of someone in need of money and suddenly we’re in a film centered around her abduction.

Farhadi wrote a script that does a good job of keeping you interested in what’s going on and what will ultimately happen. You get sucked in right away but where he went vastly wrong was when he introduced us to the victim of the kidnapping. Irene is anything but a likable character. She’s an obnoxious spoiled brat, trouble for her mother and the kind of person you’d dodge rather than treasure to be anywhere near. I can’t figure out why she was written to be so annoying when the movie ends up being centered around everyone caring for her safety. Had she been more likable, it would have been more heartbreaking for the viewer. This is in no way a reflection on the actress who did a superb job, especially near the end. Speaking of acting, Cruz is excellent as a distraught and tortured mother. Her performance was convincing. She laments about what’s next and is tearful throughout most of the film. She’s needed to be and is believable in her concern. Unfortunately for the audience, you don’t quite feel for her. See the earlier paragraph regarding her daughter’s irritating attitude for what I mean. We just needed Irene to be more of an appealing person for us to take on her mother’s pain.

The story becomes a less complicated narrative when the set up for the kidnapping, and how and why it gets pinned on a certain person, (a land dispute) is made clear at the wrong time. On the surface, the dispute is quite exaggerated and contrived. Now onto the title. Let’s get to just what it is that everybody knows. And I mean everybody, including Laura’s current husband, by the way. It seems that Paco is the only person who doesn’t know. It turns out that Irene is Paco’s daughter. In a small town, everyone talks and unless the man doesn’t have ears how does he not know the big secret? In fact, this bombshell is something you’ve long suspected. When it’s revealed, with his hair graying from the stress for some reason, what Paco does with the news is to use his money to pay the ransom. This seems as though it may have been the aim all along.


The ending is strangely elusive but leaves it open for a sequel which is puzzling yet a bit intriguing. If Farhadi nails the characters a little better, I’d be up for it. What would make it even better is if he were able to have the same cast. ‘Everybody Knows’ is an acceptable crime, drama with a good plot and is beautifully shot. It has gorgeous locations which are accentuated by the brilliant cinematography of José Luis Alcaine (Volver, The Skin I Live In) who has an immense amount of work behind him. For you to get the full benefit of his work, seeing this on the big screen this weekend would be the best way to watch this film.


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Burning Movie Review

In ‘Burning,’ director Chang-dong Lee brings us a mystery centered around a secret love triangle of sorts. It’s based on the short story called ‘Barn Burning’ by William Faulkner which is about conflict, control and honor. It’s about the decision to do what’s right in the name of justice or to be loyal to family. The book is narrated by an unnamed third person and in the film, also about justice, the audience feels as if they’re an unnamed witness to something sinister. The story unravels rather gradually, even lethargically, but you’re compelled to stay with it simply by the look on the main characters face. In fact, it’s already being considered for an Oscar at the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film this year. Not new to him and not bad for a man who only has six directing credits.

South Korean actor, Yoo Ah-in, makes a wise choice in playing Jong-su, the protagonist of the story who bumps into old chum from school named Shin Hae-mi (Jong-seo Jeon) and ends up falling in love. He’s stunned with her beauty and by the fact that she’d even look at him with him only being a farmer’s son. He tries to impress her by telling her that he went to college for creative writing and plans on being a novelist. He listens as she tells him the difference between the ‘Little Hunger’ and the ‘Great Hunger’ and how desperately she has the Great Hunger; so much so that it’s calling her to Africa. The Little Hunger is merely a person who’s hungry. The Great Hunger is someone wishing to know why we live, who genuinely wants to know what the meaning of life is. He goes to her place to have sex and meet her cat who he’s agreed to feed while she’s on her trip. The cat respectfully declines an invitation to meet him but he agrees to feed it because at least he gets to be in her room and among her things. Her room is a mess but it’s not as bad as his. She finally returns from Africa without his ever meeting her cat. When he goes to pick her up, she has a new friend with her by the name of Ben. Playing Ben, our antagonist is Steven Yeun from ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Sorry to Bother You,’ who’s actually making his debut in Korean cinema with the role.

Ben is wealthy and cultured and immediately a threat to Jong-su. They all get to know one another better and Ben confesses to Jong-su that he likes to burn down people’s greenhouses for no other reason than to rid the world of them so they can be replaced with something better. When Haemi disappears, Jong-su starts an investigation where all roads lead to Ben. What unravels next is an engaging riddle about who Ben really is and where has Haemi gone. Jong-su may have to get his hands dirty but he’s prepared to find out the answers to both of those questions.

I really liked the characters, the performances, I liked the movie in total but not the length. We meet some characters that are hardly worth knowing which unquestionable slows the process down. Jong-su’s father is in jail and Jong-su has an insignificant conversation with his lawyer, played with perfect timbre and measure by Seong-kun Mun, about the stubbornness of his father and about Jong-su’s writing. This doesn’t help the narrative one bit. There are other characters that float in for reasons that take up time when what they’re telling us would and could have been taken care of through different, and shorter means. It wasn’t necessary to tell this story in the two and a half hours that it took to watch. I enjoyed the film but had it been cut to expedite its development, it would have been that much more provocative. Regardless, ‘Burning’ pays off if you stick with it so see it this weekend at a theatre near you.