Category Archives: Interviews

Still undecided? Ash Williams promises to make America groovy again

ash-2Forget Larry, Moe, Curly, Shemp or any of those other Stooges (leave any Fake Shemps out of it), there’s a presidential candidate who said he wants to make America groovy again with your vote for president this Election Day.

That, of course, would be one Ashley J. “Ash” Williams, the deadite slayer from Elk Grove, Michigan, who promises to cut — chainsaw on stump — through the crap (He really will. Check out the morgue scene in this season’s second episode).

Ash Williams Evil Dead II Sixth Scale Figure

Ash declared his presidential bid this summer as he was ramping up to the premiere of the second season of his flat-out frickin’ hilarious and extremely gory STARZ horror comedy “Ash vs. Evil Dead.”

The declaration came on his Ash4President website and posters for the series, where you could find the hashtag #Ash4President, and slogans “Hail to the Chief, Baby” and “Make America Groovy Again.”

“I swear to God, I hope that there are some actual write-in votes, where people go to the polling stations and they don’t vote for either one (of the candidates) and they write in ‘Ash Williams,'” Ash spokesman Bruce Campbell told me in a recent interview. “It’s gonna happen. There’s going to be somebody out there who’s going to do it, and I want to meet that person.”

Interview: Bruce Campbell talks ‘Ash vs. Evil Dead’ Season 2
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So you may wonder what party Ash represents? The answer is simple, that is, if you know Ash (aka “Ashy Slashy”).

“It’s the Party Hardy Party,” Campbell said.

If you want to see Ash in the flesh, new episodes of “Ash vs. Evil Dead” air on Sunday nights on STARZ.

Tim Burton Book 2
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Interview: Alfre Woodard talks Marvel’s ‘Luke Cage’

NetflixMahershala Ali and Alfre Woodard in “Luke Cage” (photo: Netflix)

It’s been an eventful year for Oscar-nominated actress Alfre Woodard, who had the rare opportunity to act in not one, but two different projects in the Marvel Universe. After making a brief but pivotal appearance opposite her longtime friend Robert Downey Jr. in the summer blockbuster feature “Captain America: Civil War,” Woodard is now playing a major role in the new Netflix superhero drama “Luke Cage.”

Woodard said the common denominator in the superhero projects was the novel idea of story first, then visual effects. Having characters with  superhuman abilities is all well and good, Woodard said, yet those abilities are less likely to enthrall a viewer unless there’s substance there.

“You can have all the special effects in the world and pour hundreds of millions of dollars into them, but so many times people walk out of these films and say, ‘Of all the execs involved, didn&#

8217;t anybody read the script?'” Woodard said in a recent phone conversation from Los Angeles. “No matter how much technology we have, it comes down to the stories and storytellers.”

Now streaming on Netflix, “Luke Cage” is based on the indestructible Marvel Comics character who debuted in print in 1972. Having first made an appearance in Marvel’s New York City-set Netflix series “Jessica Jones” last year, Luke Cage (Mike Colter) returns in this new series to his Harlem roots to hopefully blend into the background and keep his superhuman strength and impenetrable skin a secret.

But when a vicious club owner, Cornell Stokes (Mahershala Ali), and his cousin, Councilwoman Mariah Dillard (Woodard), start wreaking havoc in the neighborhood, Luke has no choice but to emerge from the shadows to protect the innocent people they are targeting.

Woodard chalks the success of “Luke Cage” up to the show’s creator and showrunner, Cheo Hodari Coker, who studied journalism at Stanford — background Woodard believes helps inform the look and feel of the series.

Princess Leia Star Wars Sixth Scale Figure

Ellen Ripley Alien Sixth Scale Figure

“Cheo’s an amazing man. He understands, appreciates and revels in the culture and the history of Harlem,” Woodard said. “He’s also a hip-hop aficionado. He’s the first journalist to realize that hip-hop was not just a passing phase and would be a successful world culture for generations. He brings all that creative intelligence to telling the stories to ‘Luke Cage.’ That’s why I signed on, and I have not been disappointed any step of the way.”

Playing Mariah over the course of several episodes instead of in a movie is a dream for Woodard, who thrives on developing a character over a longer period of time rather than trying to squeeze everything about her into a two-hour frame. On the whole, Woodard, 63, doesn’t think Mariah should be flat-out labeled as a corrupt politician, but just a person who happens to be a councilwoman with ambitions — albeit ambitions she’s been blinded by.

“It’s not just politicians who are like this. The role is not about how much we are willing to sink (to get things done), but how much we’re willing to wager to do what we think is right or helpful,” Woodard said.

Also new on Direct Conversations.com — Interview: Tim Burton, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”

Ultimately, Woodard said, Mariah is far from being a one-note villain.

“I love Mariah because I think she is very complex, as we all are, and I love being able to play somebody that we all run into in real life. She has all the cuts and bruises, yet she has a sunny side,” Woodard said. “As an actor, I love that. I feel like she’s a real human being. In this case, people may feel like, ‘I can identify with them’ until the character’s life takes a dramatic turn and then go, ‘Oh, my God. I couldn’t go all the way there.’

“But that’s why we tell stories,” Woodard added. “To entertain, yes, but also to have audiences reflect and imagine themselves in these situations.”

Tim Burton Book 2
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Movie reviews: ‘Deepwater Horizon’ compels, ‘Miss Peregrine’ soars

Summit Entertainment

“Deepwater Horizon” (R) Kurt Russell, Mark Wahlberg, John Malkovich and Kate Hudson excel in the compelling true-life tale “Deepwater Horizon,” which recounts the harrowing Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig disaster in April 2010. Most news accounts focused on the fixed camera on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico as BP’s crippled oil well spewed millions of gallons of oil into the gulf. Not chronicled so much was the oil rig disaster itself, which claimed 11 of the 120 crew members on board as the rig caught on fire, exploded and crumbled.

Directed by Peter Berg, “Deepwater Horizon ” is a must-see in IMAX, as the immersive sound and big, big picture literally takes you inside the disaster. As the rivets pop on the oil rig and shrapnel flies, the sound design of the film of  the flying debris will have you ducking for cover. It’s an incredible cinematic achievement.

20th Century Fox

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“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” (PG-13) Tim Burton is back with a fantastical look at the oddities of life with “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” a highly entertaining family adventure that works on all levels. Chronicling the plight of a group of children with “Peculiar” abilities and the creatures who want to eliminate them, the movie is not only full of heart,  it  manages the tricky balance of being funny, quirky, creepy and thrilling all at the same time.

Interviews: Tim Burton, Samuel L. Jackson, Ella Purnell, Leah Gallo

Some fans of  Ransom Riggs’ 2011 best-selling novel of the same name may bristle at some of the changes Burton makes with some characters, but as a cinematic experience, “Miss Peregrine” soars. Eva Green is engaging as always as the titular Miss Peregrine, while Asa Butterfield and Ella Purnell are terrific leading the ensemble cast of “Peculiar Children.” Samuel L. Jackson is wonderfully creepy as Mr. Barron, a shape-shifting creature who needs to nourish himself on the eyeballs of Peculiars to regain his original human form.  All told, “Miss Peregrine” is Burton at this very best.

Tim Burton Book 2
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