Thursday, June 23, 2016

Welcome to the Jungle (2013)

Number Rolled: 6
Movie Name/Year: Welcome to the Jungle (2013)
Tagline: Not your typical day at the office.
Genre: Comedy
Length: 94 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: The Salt Company International, Pimienta, 120dB Films, Stun Creative, Private Island Trax
Producer: Leah Aldarondo, Robert Bevan, Charley Cabrera, Mark Cartier, Sue Denisco Mullin, Mark Feldstein, Alex Goldstone, Peter Graham, Stephen Hays, Samantha Horley, Hannah Kanew, Justin Kanew, Jeff Kauffmann, Corey Large, Ewan Leslie, Cyril Megret, Rob Meltzer, J.J. Mullin, Ethan Newberry, James Norrie, Alan Pao, Luis A. Riefkohl, Alan Duncan Ross, Brad Roth, Luillo Ruiz, Bruce Simberg, Elissa Simberg, Arthur Tommaselli, Rita Tommaselli, Belly Torres, Kristopher Van Varenberg
Director: Rob Meltzer
Writer: Jeff Kauffmann
Actors: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Adam Brody, Rob Huebel, Kristen Schaal, Megan Boone, Juan C. Defendini, Eric Edelstein, Zev Glassenberg, Dennis Haysbert, Tommy Kavelin, Michael J. Morris, Teeadora Paz, Robert Peters, John Pinero, Mark Sherman, Aaron Takahashi, Brian Tester, Kristopher Van Varenberg, Bianca Brigitte VanDamme, Andrea Ruiz

Blurb from Netflix: When office colleagues are sent to a team-building exercise in the wilderness, their corporate adventure goes awry as they find themselves stranded.

Selina’s Point of View:
I was incredibly surprised by Welcome to the Jungle. I really don’t think it was marketed correctly.

The posters, the trailers, and all the other promotional items associated with this film made me think I was about to watch a silly Ace Ventura-esk (1994) film. I wasn’t expecting any huge plot or seriousness at all. I thought it would be a ridiculous, funny, light film.

Holy shit, was I wrong.

This film was not at all what I could have ever expected from what the marketing made it out to be. Sure, there were no real spoilers in the trailer. That’s great. However, the trailer also wasn’t honest about what I was about to see. There were some very silly aspects, but they were backed up by some relatively good acting, a decent script, and a real plot line.

I even saw some Lord of the Flies and Lost (2004-2010) references in this movie.

Welcome to the Jungle is still a comedy first and an action film second, but there were some parts that tipped the scale in the other direction. It caught me off guard.

That being said, I enjoyed the film. I didn’t think it was super-smart or amazingly original. It was a new spin on an old recipe, but a good spin.

I believe the only reason it’s rated so low on Rotten Tomatoes is because it’s not what people expected to see. It wasn’t marketed to the right demographic.

I was pleasantly surprised, but most people hate being tricked into expecting something they don’t get. It makes them bitter and unlikely to give an honest review. Sometimes, I get like that too… but this time I just wish the promos were made better.

Cat’s Point of View:
I was pretty jazzed when this movie came up for the current selection. The week had started on a low note for me, as I laid to rest my last grandparent on Monday. I’m going to resist the temptation to use this as a platform to rant about how horribly the VA dropped the ball in honoring a WWII Purple Heart veteran.

Needless to say, I was crossing my fingers that the dice would give us a mood lifter. Jackpot!

I initially thought that this movie would be good for a few cheap laughs and a few giggles at the expense of Jean-Claude Van Damme (Dragon Eyes, Swelter, Kung Fu Panda 3). I remember him best for all his cheesy action movies of the 80’s and 90’s.

Sure, that was part of this film – but it was also so much more. I was actually a bit impressed. My inner-geek had a squee.

Beneath all the camp was actually a plot of significant substance. I’m not kidding. We’re talking literary lessons here.

Writer, Jeff Kauffmann (Animation Domination High-Def, American Dad!), was definitely paying attention in English class. One of the staples of required school reading (at least when I was younger) obviously stuck with him. What am I talking about? William Golding’s novel, Lord of the Flies. There have been two prior movies derived from this book in 1963 and 1990. Those, of course, followed the narrative more to the letter.

This movie is rather blatantly a modern-day adaptation of the story.

I found so many nuances within this film directly in parallel with Golding’s book that I lost count.

What a brilliant way to expose a modern audience, in attendance for the scatological humor, to a bit of classic literature – and more importantly, the underlying message.

Aside from the deeper meaning, the movie was pretty funny. Rather than an in-your-face drama, the satire angle actually works here.

These poor ad-agency schlubs were decidedly not in the ‘good hands of Allstate.’ [I really half-expected there to be some product placement somewhere. Dennis Haysbert (Jarhead, Experimenter, Ted 2) probably gets that a lot.]

I might watch this again just to count the references and actually write them down this time.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 22%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 20%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 3/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 2.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

The Random Rating: R

Movie Trailer:

Monday, June 20, 2016

Antisocial (2013)

Number Rolled: 86
Movie Name/Year: Antisocial (2013)
Tagline: This virus kills.
Genre: Horror
Length: 89minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: Black Fawn Films, Breakthrough Entertainment
Producer: Chad Archibald, Cody Calahan, Marina Cordoni, Christopher Giroux, Ira Levy, Peter Williamson
Director: Cody Calahan
Writer: Chad Archibald, Cody Calahan
Actors: Michelle Mylett, Cody Ray Thompson, Adam Christie, Ana Alic, Romaine Waite, Ry Barrett, Eithan Shalmon, Laurel Brandes, Kate Vokral, Charlie Hamilton, Colin Murphy, Kirill Belousov

Blurb from Netflix: Unbeknownst to five friends who’ve gathered for a New Year’s Eve house party, an epidemic has erupted outside, breeding chaos all over the planet.

Selina’s Point of View:
Cat and I greatly disagree about this film.

First of all, I really believe you shouldn’t watch the trailer for this film. I don’t know which trailer Cat watched, but the one I watched gave away literally everything. Hell, it nearly gave away the main plot point. It was ridiculous and I’m glad I watched it after the film or I would have been pissed.

Secondly, I really enjoyed the film.

Sure, there were some basic tropes that reminded me of the tropes that Cabin in the Woods (2012) made fun of, but they were used surprisingly well. Aside from that the main point of the film and the origin of the “zombies” was relatively unique – or at least under-utilized.

It was definitely a low budget film and the beginning was slow, but I feel like Cody Calahan (Baptized in Blood: Last Line Lady, Antisocial 2, Let Her Out) did a hell of a job with the funds he had to work with. There was some crazy CGI happening and some incredibly realistic sounds accompanying the violence that impressed me a great deal. Not everything was spot on, but when it was good… it was very good.

I enjoyed the majority of the actors, too. Michelle Mylett (Letterkenny, Antisocial 2, Weak Ends) was a wonderful choice for this film. Mylett really embodied her character and made me care.

I had an issue with Cody Ray Thompson (Warrior, Antisocial 2, Clementine). It wasn’t his acting, his acting was fine. However, where Cat watched Antisocial on Sunday morning before news of our latest Hollywood causality, I watched the film later at night. Thompson looks a LOT like Anton Yelchin (Broken Horses, Green Room, Burying the Ex) during many of the scenes.

For those of you who don’t know, Anton Yelchin passed away Sunday. He was 27 years old when a fatal traffic accident took his life. He was one of my favorite young actors. We here at Trust the Dice have always been fans of Yelchin’s. He was amazing in Fright Night (2011), he broke our hearts in Odd Thomas (2013), and he brought to life an amazing reboot of Chekov in the newer Star Trek (2009-2016) series of films. His death was sudden and terribly saddening to us.

Seeing Thompson in this film felt like someone was stabbing me in the chest. He was a fine actor, but his face just looked so much like Yelchin’s. It made me a little queasy. It wasn’t enough to ruin the film for me, and even if it had been, I’d have tried to not let it affect my score.

For those wondering, Yelchin will appear in five films that have either been completed, or were in post-production at the time of his death. In 2016 we will see him in We Don’t Belong Here, Star Trek Beyond, and Porto. In 2017 we’ll see him in Thoroughbred in what may be his final performance. I say “may be” because he has one other film, Rememory, in post-production, but there’s no concrete release date scheduled for it according to IMDB.

Cat’s Point of View:
Yesterday, my “brother” (from another mother) got married to a fabulous gal whom I think the world of. It’s been a whirlwind the last couple of days. My daughter, husband, and I were all in the wedding party. I’ll spare you my gushing about my adorable flower girl, though.

After corsets, lightsaber battles on the dance floor, and an overload of go-go-go; I was actually looking forward to sitting down this morning to unwind while watching this movie. We’re waiting to kick off Father’s Day shenanigans until after my tween regains consciousness. (She’s STILL asleep past the lunch hour, but she needs it!)

That’s probably the most interesting information that I have to share with you today. Sadly, the movie disappointed me.

I think that the concept was interesting. There was such potential for the commentary on social media culture. Alas, the execution of this film failed to even come close to hitting the mark.

I do want to commend whomever put the trailer together for this one. With a movie as lackluster as this one was, I was fully expecting the trailer to give it all away. It actually didn’t. Kudos.

That is unfortunately the last of the good things I have to say about this film. It started out very ‘meh’ for me and then just turned into ‘ugh.’ They borrowed from so many recipes that the Frankenstein’s Monster that they created was just a messy jumble of things that I’ve already seen before – and were done better elsewhere.

Though, I will leave you with a giggle (maybe). Every time I heard the character’s name, Steve; I thought of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (2009) for absolutely no reason whatsoever (other than the thought of the speech-enabled monkey shouting “STEVE!” was more interesting than this movie).

My mind goes to odd places when I’m bored.

Skip this movie and go find one of the better ones out there with a social media message. Unfriended (2014) has already hit cable movie networks.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 0%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 17%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 3/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 3/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score1.5/5

The Random Rating: R

Movie Trailer:

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Trespass (2011)

Number Rolled: 53
Movie Name/Year: Trespass (2011)
Tagline: When terror is at your door, you can run or you can fight.
Genre: Thriller
Length: 90 mintues
Rating: R
Production Companies: Millennium Films, Nu Image, Winkler Films, Saturn Films, Joel Schumacher Productions, Trespass Productions (II), Nu Boyana Film Studios
Producer: Rene Besson, Boaz Davidson, Danny Dimbort, Matthew F. Leonetti Jr., Avi Lerner, Per Saari, Trevor Short, John Thompson, David Winkler, Irwin Winkler
Director: Joel Schumacher
Writer: Karl Gajdusek
Actors: Nicolas Cage, Nicole Kidman, Ben Mendelsohn, Liana Liberato, Cam Gigandet, Jordana Spiro, Dash Mihok, Emily Meade, Nico Tortorella, Brandon Belknap, Terry Milam, Tina Parker, David Maldonado, Nilo Otero, Simona Williams

Blurb from Netflix: A husband and wife find themselves pushed to their absolute limit when they’re held for ransom by brutal thugs who invade their home.

Selina’s Point of View:
Another winning blurb from Netflix. They keep adding too many words. Seriously, just cut out the “they’re held for ransom by” and “who” and the damn thing is correct. Why make the blurb longer if it’s only going to become less accurate? Come on.

Moving on, I found Trespass to be very meh. There was nothing in it to separate this film from every other home invasion movie ever made. It was a recipe that had nothing new to add to the genre. Also, the script had something that was meant to be a twist but I saw it coming from scene one, so it wound up just being a thing that happened instead of an elevating factor.

I will say, however, that the actors did very well with what they had. This was one of Nicolas Cage’s (Pay the Ghost, Outcast, Joe) good performances. Aside from him, Nicole Kidman (Queen of the Desert, Stoker, The Paperboy) had the wife’s part down pat, Liana Liberato (If I Stay, Erased, Haunt) played the angsty teen perfectly and Cam Gigandet (Reckless, Priest, In the Blood) made a very believable antagonist.

I wish the script and the plot of this film would have been good enough to deserve the effort the actors put into it.

It wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen, it wasn’t even the worst of the genre… it was just very mediocre.

Cat’s Point of View:
I’ll admit that this wasn’t the movie that I was really crossing my fingers for when we rolled the dice. The combination of Nicolas Cage (The Croods, Rage, Dying of the Light), Nicole Kidman (Grace of Monaco, Paddington, Genius), and Cam Gigandet (The Unborn, Plush, 4 Minute Mile) seemed to promise that the film would be at least interesting.

I wasn’t wrong there.

It wasn’t the best thriller I’ve ever seen, but it wasn’t bad. I actually rather liked it. I enjoyed the creative usage of the flashbacks. Sure the movie plays on a few of the generic home invasion tropes, and Nick Cage was as ‘cray cray’ as you would expect him to be – but somehow it worked.

Was this Joel Schumacher’s (Phone Booth, The Number 23, Blood Creek) finest directorial work? Not hardly. It doesn’t hold a candle to St. Elmo's Fire (1985), The Lost Boys (1987), or even The Phantom of the Opera (2004).

Let’s remember, however, that Schumacher is also responsible for Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997). While the comic hero drew the crowds (because anything with Batman in it is going to draw some crowds), they weren’t the best out of that beleaguered series.

I noticed a bit of trivia that this film broke the record for fastest time between theater and DVD release (at the time) with a span of only 18 days. [The prior record holder was apparently From Justin to Kelly (2003) at 29 days.] Usually, unless pre-planned, movies take a few months at the least to hit the stores as DVD and blu-ray.

I don’t think that this movie was given a fair shake with that, though. Sure it didn’t gross even a fraction of its production cost, but it was only released in 10 theaters and was going up against movies with nationwide release such as: Real Steel (2011) out 10/7 in 3,440 theaters, Footloose (2011) out 10/14 in 3,549 theaters, The Three Musketeers (2011) out 10/21 in 3,017 theaters, and Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) also out 10/21 in 3,321 theaters.

The speedy to-DVD time makes business sense, as the companies make more money off of the video sales than the tickets. So don’t judge a movie by its time-table. As years have gone by, movies have been released across a wide spectrum of formats very quickly. Movies have appeared on streaming services like Netflix or cable/ satellite On-Demand services at the same time they’ve hit theaters.

My vote? If you like thrillers, then give this one a shot. It’s got some curve balls you might not expect – and hey, it was filmed here in Shreveport!

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 10%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 22%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 3/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score2.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 2.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

Movie Trailer:

Monday, June 13, 2016

Bo Burnham: what. (2013)

Number Rolled: 39
Movie Name/Year: Bo Burnham: what. (2013)
Tagline: what.
Genre: Stand-Up Comedy
Length: 60 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: 3 Arts Entertainment, Attic Bedroom, New Wave Entertainment Television
Producer: Dave Becky, Bo Burnham, Jay Chapman, Douglas Edley, Cisco Henson, Chris Scanlon, Brian Volk-Weiss
Director: Bo Burnham, Christopher Storer
Writer: Bo Burnham
Actors: Bo Burnham

Blurb from Netflix: Left brain and right brain duke it out -- and ultimately belt out a melody -- in stand-up comedian Bo Burnham’s quick and clever one-man show.

Selina’s Point of View:
Well, Cat and I discussed the possibility of adding stand-up comedy to our queue, and decided it wouldn’t be a bad idea to try it out. Netflix has a lot of great movies, but they have a hell of a lot of great stand-up comedy as well.

Since our decision, we’ve been adding some stand-up to our queue in the hopes that we would roll it. We started adding it roughly four months ago.

The dice can be fickle.

That being said, I couldn’t have been happier with the selection we rolled for our first step into the genre. Bo Burnham (Funny People, American Virgin, Bo Burnham: Words Words Words) is one of my favorite comedians. You can see how greats like George Carlin (Jersey Girl, Dogma, Scary Movie 3) and comedians like Stephen Lynch (The Ten, Comedy Central Presents, An Evening with Stephen Lynch) may have influenced his work.

Burnham is musical comedian. He does some funny poetry and some basic stand-up, but it’s mostly music.

I first saw what. when it came out in 2013. It’s not my favorite of Burnham’s specials, but it’s got some very good songs in it – several of which I have on my iTunes playlist. The songs range from ridiculously silly to subtly political to amusing social commentary – all of which are very much his thing.

My one issue with this particular special is the intro.

The intro is meant to be silly and random, and it is, but I don’t find it funny or necessary. In fact, I find the intro to be way too long, tedious, and boring. After that, the show picks up significantly and by the end I’m always glued to the TV.

I can’t wait to see the new Bo Burnham special that Netflix put up: Make Happy (2016).

Cat’s Point of View:
To quote one of my favorite lines from Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969-1974): “And now for something completely different!”

Netflix sports comedy specials in addition to its other movie, television, and original content fare. Why not, right?

I’ll admit, I haven’t had a lot of exposure to Bo Burnham (Hall Pass, Adventures in the Sin Bin, Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous) before. Though he appeared vaguely familiar to me; after looking through his IMDb credits, I’m not sure what I recognize him from.

Perhaps he reminds me a little of a clean-shaven Felix Kjellberg (Let's Animate, Tomorrowland, Scare PewDiePie). In any case, moving along.

One thing is undeniable about this particular comedian – he’s exceptionally talented. He can play the piano, sings, and has an excellent understanding of lyrical timing. The latter, I’m sure, helps him with the comedy aspect, as well.

I enjoyed this performance. I feel I have to admit, however, I wasn’t laughing until I cried or couldn’t breathe. (Those things have been known to happen.) That could partially be attributed to the fact I’m currently a bit under the weather, so some things are falling a bit more flat to me than they might otherwise. I did get some really good laughs, though.

Caution to parents: this comedy show isn’t for kids. There’s language and adult content.

All in all, I’m interested to see what else Burnham might have in store for audiences. I noticed that Netflix has added another of his specials recently. I’m definitely game for checking it out.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – N/A
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – N/A

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 4/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score4/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 4/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

The Random Rating: R

Movie Trailer: 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Little Convention that Could - Cat's Adventures in Texas (Exclusive Helen Slater Interview)

By: Cat

Last week was quite the roller-coaster for me. We had an end-of-the-year trip to Dallas with my daughter’s Girl Scout troop, which was immediately followed by working as staff for the Geek’d Con Convention in Tyler, TX. In the middle of that, I had some upsetting family news. The convention was a wonderful outlet for me to throw myself into enjoyable work and get my mind off of things.

I’m not exactly new to the convention scene, having worked as volunteer staff for Dragon*Con, in Atlanta, GA, for several years in the early 2000’s. Though, I’d have to say that this convention experience was new and wonderful for me in many ways. 

This time around, I was a member of the Guest Services team as a “handler” of sorts. I was assigned to one of our guests and sat with them at their booth to oversee the money transactions and watch the merch while they took breaks, etc.

Now this wasn’t a big convention – I believe it was even Tyler, Texas’ first one ever – so it was significantly smaller than behemoth conventions like Dragon*Con, or even the last couple conventions held in Shreveport, LA. Had the timing of this convention’s dates been different, I believe it would have done really well. Unfortunately, we were competing with a giant anime convention in Dallas, TX and high school graduations on the local level, so the attendance suffered.

The silver lining to that, though, was that we had some downtime on our hands here and there. The guests got to wander and peruse the vendors and otherwise just hang out. 

I also had a chance to visit more with my assigned guest, whom was gracious in allowing me an opportunity for an interview.

Our celebrity lineup for the Tyler con included (in no particular order): Theshay West (The Walking Dead), Sam Witwer (The Mist, Star Wars: Rebels, Once Upon a Time), Lindsey McKeon (What Doesn't Kill You, One Tree Hill, Supernatural), Pruitt Taylor Vince (Constantine, Deadwood, Beautiful Creatures), Jennifer Lynn Warren (Infamous, The School in the Woods, American Horror Story: Coven), James C. Leary (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Unemployed, Server Life), and - last but definitely not least - Helen Slater (The Lying Game, Echo Park, A Remarkable Life).

Imagine my joy when I arrived in Tyler and found out that I would be sitting with the original Supergirl (1984) for the entire weekend! While the caped heroine is the buzz of today due to the television series formerly of CBS, I remember Helen Slater best from her title role in The Legend of Billie Jean (1985). The mantra of “fair is fair” rings in my memory with a Pat Benatar soundtrack.

While I’m on that particular topic…I want to clear up a common misconception. Helen Slater may share the same name as Christian Slater (Ask Me Anything, Archer, Mr. Robot), however, he is not her younger brother. Rumors have abounded on and off the years after they played siblings in that movie, but it’s just not the case. 

Onward down the rabbit hole!

We first met Ms. Slater as she was arriving on Friday evening and checking in to the hotel. My family and I, as well as the Director of Guest Services, had just returned from dinner. In spite of what had to be a long flight, and the two hour car ride from Dallas to Tyler that had followed, she was all smiles and full of warmth. Our interaction was very brief that night outside of introductions and her attempts to coax my shy daughter out of her shell.

I have to say that this was one of the most pleasant and special celebrity interactions that I’ve ever had. She is a very special lady – down to earth, a kind word for everyone, a pleasure to converse with, and even calm and pleasant when she’s a bit vexed. (She had a few things to be understandably vexed about, but took it all in stride.) Helen Slater is just as lovely on the inside as she is on the outside, and a very classy lady.

Image by Tara Lupi (c) TB Butler Publishing (Other convention images can be found here.)
She enjoyed meeting the people at the convention and listening to their stories. Some of them were very moving, and we both nearly cried at least once as a gentleman thanked her because her work had helped him emotionally or mentally escape some horrible things in his youth. Fans got hugs with their pictures quite often. She even tweeted a selfie she took with my daughter!

Aside from carrying forward connections with the ‘Super’ franchise, I can see why she was cast as Superman’s biological mother, Lara-El, in Smallville (2001-2011); and as the new Kara’s foster mother, Eliza Danvers, in the new Supergirl (2015-) series. (There is actually a way to “six degrees of separation” connect the dots between all of the live action 'Super' properties, partially through her.) 

By the way, she also sings, writes music, and plays piano. I know, right?! She performed something from her children’s album based on The Ugly Duckling story as part of her panel Saturday. You can hear samples of her work on her website.

As the convention was drawing to a close on Sunday, we found some time to have a mini interview. It might’ve been a bit of a rookie move to admit to her that she was my very first interview of this nature – but I am a rookie at interviewing people! She was very encouraging and supportive and that really boosted my confidence. I might have stammered a little here and there, but it just got easier as we went along.

Without further ado, I give you my Helen Slater interview:

Q: How did it feel to be revisiting Supergirl after all these years?

A: You know, I was a little unsure about how it was going to feel; but everybody was so kindhearted, and so nice, and Greg Berlanti and CBS... Warner Brothers... the production where we were kind of producing it. They just made me feel so welcome. All I felt was very welcomed. It was a very positive experience. 

Q: When you put on the Supergirl suit for the first time, did you feel powerful? 

A: That’s a really good question. I think I did. When we finally found... cause they tried different combinations but yeah when we got the right combination... it made you feel... well I remember feeling “AH! This feels strong and powerful.”

Q: Will you still be guest-starring in Supergirl now that the show has moved to CW up in Vancouver? 

A: My understanding is yes. Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’ll be coming back. We don’t know for how many episodes, but hopefully more! 

Q: We noticed on IMDb that they have you listed for a movie called The Hard Way playing a character called Robin. Is that a real thing?

A: Oh, yes! Yes, that’s my friend’s this wonderful young filmmaker Lizze Gordon, and she’s been submitting it to festivals and we shot a couple of scenes just to get it going. It’s a great coming of age film. She’s in her 20’s; it’s really funny. [She’s] a really great writer. 

Q: I noticed it was a comedy, but IMDb didn’t have any description about it or anything so we were wondering...

A: They should probably get that listed, but yeah it’s a very... kind of in that sort of really funny women struggling with their identity. Just a really really good piece. I play the mom. 

Q: Is there anything else you can tell us about it, or is it still kind of hush until it gets picked up somewhere?

A:  It’s sort of hush, yeah, but a very funny movie. Super funny. Hopefully it’ll get wings. 

Q: Do you have a record deal for your CDs or do you self publish? 

A: I self produce my records.

Q: Are there any challenges that you find with that? 

A: Well, it would be nice to have the support of a record company, and maybe one day that would happen. But the other thing is that I get to sort of do it exactly how I want. I’m really proud of the records. I’ve made five. The last two were children’s records, and I’ve made three of them in Nashville, TN – recorded them all live with these amazing musicians. But, yeah those are kind of my love – my passion... hobby love.

Q: You mentioned during lunch that you were wanting to turn them into motion pictures. 

A: Yes! This year I’ve been moving towards having a book to go with the two children’s records. I’ve been talking to people about that; and, ideally, to make The Myths of Ancient Greece and The Ugly Duckling into some kind of animated piece. 

Q: I would definitely love to see that. That would be an awesome family animated movie. Not all the animated movies that are coming out these days are that way. And Musicals!

A: I would like to return to a more less-violent, less graphic, less over-using language that’s... I just feel like it doesn’t have to be that way to tell a story. Keep it above-board and there’s so much beautiful language in the English language! 

Q: Right, and musicals... there’s just something else with musicals. I think they stay with you a little better because there’s more emotion in them because of the music. Music just speaks to people in ways that words don’t always… you know.

A: I think so. I agree with that!

Q: That’s why I got so excited when you were talking about the Celtic Selkie myth and the Celtic music. I was like “oh my goodness! This is my wheelhouse!” 

A: Yes, and you gave me such a great list! I’m looking forward to listening. 

[We digressed into discussing Celtic musical instruments here and a list of Celtic or heavily Celtic influenced artists and music. She had mentioned looking for that sort of thing for research/inspiration to draw from in working on her current project. Of course, I was glad to write down a few of my favorites and introduce her to the gorgeous sound of the uilleann pipes.]

 Davy Spillane performing Caoineadh Cu Chulainn on Uilleann Pipes during Riverdance.

Q: What inspired you to explore the Selkie folklore for your next project?

A: I heard the Selkie myth like 20 years ago. There’s this wonderful writer, Clarissa Pinkola Estés, and she wrote a book, Women Who Run With the Wolves. She’s an artist and a psychologist, and the Selkie myth – she calls it ‘sealskin souls’. She writes about it in that book, and it’s so beautiful and compelling. She uses the Selkie myth as a symbol of the call or the need to return to the self. Like, you could be in a marriage, and you could be raising a child, and you could be having a wonderful life – but there is still this need to kind of return to your own. In the story, it’s very dark – she leaves the husband, leaves the child. You know, John Sayles made a movie, The Secret of Roan Inish, and he sort of explores it too. [There's a little here that had to be redacted due to Trust the Dice's policy on movie spoilers.] But I would never advocate for that – I’m very happily married!

Q: Right! The downside of the selkies – you could be absolutely happy but you had to hide the pelt; otherwise if they find it…

A: They want to go.  So I think because I’m still very in the middle of it, I don’t know how I’m going to unfold that piece of the story or unpack it; but I think what she’s saying – Clarissa Pinkola Estés– and what the Selkie myth is saying is that whatever ending you put on it, we do have this need to be authentic and true. As women, and I’m not even like a big feminist person, but just you try and figure out ‘well what’s actually true for me?’ separate from the nurturing, caregiving, providing, and that’s what I think the myth is sort of touching on. She writes a lot about that.  I’m interested in that because I’m now in my fifties... and you know... it’s just sort of… it just interests me. But it was interesting to me when I was in my twenties, too. Cause how she writes about it is very compelling. 

[We had another small digression here talking about folk singer Judy Collins and her Golden Apples of the Sun album, on which she does have a song about Selkies that, while not in the traditional Irish style, focuses on the story of the myth. It had been one of my first introductions to that particular piece of Irish mythology when I was little.]

Q: I did notice that you have the five albums when I went on your website last night. I said ‘oh my goodness she has more than the children’s albums, this is neat!’ What type of music is your favorite to write? 

A: Well I love writing the fairy tales – myths and fairy tales. I like any kind of storytelling. It’s sort of… I don’t know how you would describe it. Sort of more in the 70s type style music – very melodic driven storytelling. I love Carole King, and Ricky Lee Jones, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon. Those are probably like the biggest musical influences; and then musical theater. 

Q: I saw also that you’ve done Broadway...

A: I’ve never been on Broadway. I’ve been in, you know... I’ve been in an Off-Broadway show. There’s like distinctions in New York... Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway. My show was actually Off-Off-Broadway. 

Q: I think IMDb might need to make some corrections. I found that in your biography and I was like ‘Broadway, that’s cool!” So Responsible Parties and Almost Romance were Off-Off-Broadway?

A: Those were Off-Off-Broadway. 

Q: They also mentioned Grease and Shakespeare and Friends. Who did you play in Grease? 

A: That was Summerstock and I played Sandy. And the Shakespeare and Friends… I don’t know what that is. Boy, I need to go into that IMDb! 

Q: Who is your favorite Grease character other than the one you played?

A: That’s funny, I haven’t seen it in so long! I love the song that Rizzo sings. So that’s my favorite song. “There are Worse Things I Could Do” I just think the melody is so pretty. 

Q: Other than live audiences, what do you find different or interesting or challenging in stage production vs. film production?

A: Well theater… cause you know I perform every Sunday night. My husband runs this improvisation show every Sunday night, and Helen Hunt has been part of it and Jason Alexander... lots of different stars... Charles Shaughnessy... Daphne Zuniga, and then a bunch of groundlings – improvisers that know that world. What’s fun about that is that it’s just about making things up and being with the other person. But film and television is much more... it takes so many people to make it happen.  There’s hair and makeup, there’s the script, there’s getting there, there’s lights and cameras; so it’s just such a different muscle. One feels more free-flowing, and sort of... happy? And the other one – there’s still joy in it, but it’s a lot more… it’s like a marathon. It’s going to take a long time just to get through each day. 

Q: And then a lot of hurry up and wait, probably. 

A: Definitely that. 

Q: What was it like to work with Bette Midler in Ruthless People? Did you get to talk music with her? 

A: She was amazing! I didn’t talk music; but we use the same acting coach, Barry Primus, and um I just think she was very generous and gracious with me as an actress. I was very young – 22 maybe? I was 22 years old when I did that movie, so it was nice to have somebody feeling like they had your back and wanting you to be good.

By the time that we were finished with our interview, the day was mostly over, and the celebrities were beginning to pack up. In spite of the heavier thoughts that lingered in the back of my mind due to family events; and even in the face of small crowds (which usually makes an event like this seem to drag on FOREVER) – I couldn’t figure out where all the time had gone. I was having such a wonderful time visiting with Helen between fan interactions, that the whole thing just blazed by. She was just so easy to talk to, and we had such common ground – it was phenomenal. We even had a bit of a chat about Game of Thrones!

I actually can’t recall the last time I felt so at-ease around a celebrity as I did with this convention and the core group of guests that I interacted with. There were a few I met back in my Dragon*Con days that were nice – but I usually I get all shy and the million things I want to say either won’t get past my mouth or they just fall out of my brain all together.

Though, I feel like I want to apologize to Sam Witwer. Helen’s booth was right between Theshay West’s and Sam’s – so he was sitting RIGHT BESIDE me (a few feet away) for most of the convention – across from me at the table for Sunday lunch, even. I felt like I needed a fan to cool myself down from all the blushing I did – whether it was because he is handsome and I was doing my best to not be one of those giggly moony fans, or because I was slightly embarrassed I’d forgotten the seasons that I’d seen him in with Being Human (2011-2014)… (ok mortified is more like it). Sorry Sam!

I did get a chance to talk to Lindsey McKeon for a little bit about Indigenous (2014), which we reviewed not too long ago here at Trust The Dice. She said that it was a crazy shoot running through the jungle in Panama. The production team wanted as much genuine reaction to the creature as possible, so they saved its appearance. The actors didn't get to see the creature until near the very end! She also talked about how the contortionist-like actor playing that role would scare her at night in the jungle.

Lunch in the green room on Sunday was also quite interesting, as I got to sit and listen to a conversation among the guests as they talked shop about the industry, as well as some of their current projects.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Theshay West, known as one of the ‘walker pets’ led around by Michonne, likes to write music and is currently working on a musical called Dream: The Urban Musical, which is a bit autobiographical. He was quite the character to have around. He was always smiling, and at the center of quite a few laughs throughout the convention. At one point, he and Jennifer Lynn Warren got up on stage, after all the panels were finished, and started dancing with the background music that was playing through the PA system. They’ve got some moves!


Speaking of Jennifer, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that she does a lot of work based out of Shreveport. She’ll be one of the few guests that were at Tyler that will also be returning in August for the next convention here. She’s got lots of spunk and was really fun to be around. I immensely enjoyed getting to hang out with her and James C. Leary for Sunday breakfast. She definitely is one to speak her mind without hesitation. She had to take her panel moderator to school because they goofed and researched the wrong person on IMDb and didn’t really know who she was. (Whoops!)

She and Pruitt Taylor Vince are also in a movie together, Creature (2011). Not too long ago, it was on Netflix and I’ve been looking forward to watching it. Alas, when I looked for it yesterday, it was gone! (Maybe I’ll pick up the DVD from them in August.) Admittedly, it’s a B-movie, according to the cast members I met. I’m still curious.

Pruitt was such a funny and wonderful teddy bear of a guy. I loved him in Heroes Reborn (2015-2016) as Casper Abraham. The concept for his character was just great. 

I use the phrase “penny for your thoughts” quite a lot. Though, his character’s power took that to a literal level. He had a briefcase full of pennies. He’d pick one out and work his mojo on it then ask that question while handing a penny out to his target. When they touched the penny, his power of memory alteration triggered. 

He signed a penny for me to go with my Heroes Reborn glossy. 

James C. Leary was another really cool, very nice, down to earth guy. He’s currently living in Austin and working in the video gaming industry that is booming in that area. 

My daughter had been splitting time between walking around with her father, who was Director of Volunteer Services, and sitting in the booth with us (at Helen’s invitation). Though, as things were packing up, she slipped ‘next door’ into Theshay’s booth, and the little stinker tried to run a hustle on him! 

He had set a jug of lemonade on the table and she offered to autograph it for him (role reversal due to she was in his chair and he was standing in front of the table like a fan). He laughed and played along. Though, what she wrote on the jug in sharpie was her name and that it was her lemonade. She told him she was going to charge him for it, because it had her name on it. 

I swear… my child is trying to take over the world with those big blue eyes of hers – one person at a time. Theshay was such a good sport. He even gave her a dime!

When everything was over, I was sad to say goodbye to everyone – though, I will be seeing James, Jennifer, and Pruitt again later this summer. I tried to get everyone together for a group picture – though Sam, Lindsey, and James had already left at that point. It was a good close to a wonderful experience that helped me in ways it’s hard for me to explain.

I can’t wait to see what fun and shenanigans Geek’d Con Shreveport will bring in mid August.