Cole Clay // Film Critic

THE INTERVIEW | 112 min | Rated R
Director: Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen
Cast: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Randall Park and Lizzy Caplan

Maybe I was one of the few people who championed the “bromantic” comedy THE INTERVIEW from Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen— don’t forget James Franco tagged along as well. It was all the controversies that loomed over the film’s quality like a hazy cloud of pineapple express smoke, but it turns out it’s a pretty damn funny movie. It rehashes the same irreverent formulaic beats of Rogen’s other writing efforts, but the duo provided yet another novel concept and a platform for ludicrous behavior.

Just in case you have been living in North Korea the past few months, here is the plot for THE INTERVIEW: entertainment reporter Dave Skylark (Franco) and his producer, Aaron Rapoport (Rogen), get an opportunity to interview Kim Jong-un (Randall Park). However, once the CIA finds out, they proposition the TV duo to assassinate the infamous dictator.

Park steals the show in an equally funny and sympathetic performance. The comedy takes some interesting turns here and there and is nothing more than good, (not-so) clean fun.

The Blu-ray Extras Include:

  • Naked and Afraid – Discovery Channel TV special featuring Seth Rogen and James Franco
  • Feature Audio Commentary with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg
  • Gag Reel
  • Deleted, Extended and Alternate Scenes
  • Featurettes:
    • Directors of This Movie – Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg comment on directing the film together
    • Puppy Power – Cast and Crew profess their love for the King Charles Spaniel puppy
    • Here Kitty Kitty – Seth Rogen breaks down the experience of  working with a real tiger
    • Joking Around – The producers discuss the process of creating jokes on set
    • Spies Among Us – Hear from each of the cast members about their experience on the film
    • Randall Park Audition Tape – Randall Park table read audition video
    • Dating a Dictator – An authoritative touch on a convincing dating profile video
    • Getting Into Character – A look at Randall Park’s transformation  into looking the part of a dictator
  • Line-o-Ramas (short collections of alternate shots of jokes on set)

LIFE ITSELF | 120 min | Rated R
Director: Steve James
Cast: Roger Ebert, Gene Siskel, Martin Scorsese and Werner Herzog

People say that when you are among the best, it elevates your performance as well. That certainly was the case for the friends, colleagues and even enemies of Roger Ebert. Documentarian Steve James (HOOP DREAMS) crafted a human portrait about the myth that followed the dearly departed critic with the film LIFE ITSELF.

James doesn’t just give you a beat-by-beat approach to Ebert’s life. He shows the viewers the good times, the bad times, and most importantly the impact Ebert had among his peers. James paints a fond portrait, but he refuses to sugarcoat his legacy. This isn’t just a documentary for film geeks around the world, it’s a life affirming tale that is both gut-wrenching and inspiring.

With talking-head interviews from renowned personalities – such as Martin Scorsese, Werner Herzog, the widowed Chaz Ebert, and Ava DuVernay (director of SELMA) – LIFE ITSELF has many powerful elements, but none more powerful than Ebert’s impact on the cultural conversation.

The Blu-ray Extras Include:

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Sundance Tribute
  • Interview with Director Steve James
  • Trailer

ST. VINCENT | 102 min | Rated R
Director: Theodore Melfi
Cast: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts and Jaeden Lieberher

ST. VINCENT has Bill Murray back in his comedic form. However, while the Theodore Melfi-directed comedy has loads of tickling moments, it relies all too heavily on sentimentality – a tactic that can be dangerous with a heart-on-sleeve type film.

Murray is Vincent, a misanthropic Vietnam vet who gambles, boozes and whores around his Brooklyn borough with the help of a local prostitute named Daka, played by a very pink and adorable Naomi Watts. This is until he becomes an unlikely caregiver for a single mother’s (Melissa McCarthy) son named Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher).

What comes next is obvious– Oliver and Vincent form an unlikely bond that will teach them a lesson they couldn’t have otherwise learned. ST. VINCENT commits to its convictions as a sappy story that strives to manipulate your emotions, but unlike other films from this cloth, Melfi does it with extra charm.

Read the full review here.

The Blu-ray Extras Include:

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Bill Murray is St. Vincent: The Patron Saint of Comedy
About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.