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Red-Carpet Video Interview: ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ Star Anthony Hopkins

6 hours ago

Chicago – Adam Fendelman of HollywoodChicago.com interviews Hollywood legend Sir Anthony Hopkins at the red-carpet premiere of “Transformers: The Last Knight” in Chicago on June 20, 2017. Recently nicknamed T-Hop, we discuss his obsessive-compulsive disorder, feeding his brain, geeking out on history and astronomy and more!

The film, which opened on June 21, 2017, stars Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel, Laura Haddock and Stanley Tucci from director Michael Bay. Watch now below!

Interview by: Adam Fendelman, Publisher

Filmed and edited by: Jeff Doles, 238 Studios

Edited by: Ethan Madison, Erm Films

Stills and trailer (used with permission): Paramount Pictures

© 2017 HollywoodChicago.com LLC »

- adam@hollywoodchicago.com (Adam Fendelman)

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Red-Carpet Video Clip: Optimus Prime Voice Artist Peter Cullen for ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’

6 hours ago

Chicago – “Transformers: The Last Knight” held its star-studded premiere in Chicago on June 20, 2017. On the red carpet, Adam Fendelman of HollywoodChicago.com asked Optimus Prime voice artist Peter Cullen to jump into character and say the line in the trailer: “For my world to live, yours must die.”

The film, which opened on June 21, 2017, stars Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel, Laura Haddock and Stanley Tucci from director Michael Bay. Watch now below!

Interview and edited by: Adam Fendelman, Publisher

Filmed by: Jeff Doles, 238 Studios

© 2017 HollywoodChicago.com LLC »

- adam@hollywoodchicago.com (Adam Fendelman)

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Red-Carpet Video Interview: ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ Writers Ken Nolan, Matt Holloway, Art Marcum

6 hours ago

Chicago – “Transformers: The Last Knight” held its star-studded premiere in Chicago on June 20, 2017. On the red carpet, Adam Fendelman of HollywoodChicago.com interviewed writers Ken Nolan, Matt Holloway and Art Marcum about their writers’ room process.

The film, which opened on June 21, 2017, stars Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel, Laura Haddock and Stanley Tucci from director Michael Bay. Watch now below!

Interview by: Adam Fendelman, Publisher

Filmed and edited by: Jeff Doles, 238 Studios

Edited by: Ethan Madison, Erm Films

Stills and trailer (used with permission): Paramount Pictures

© 2017 HollywoodChicago.com LLC »

- adam@hollywoodchicago.com (Adam Fendelman)

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Red-Carpet Video Clip: Megatron Voice Artist Frank Welker for ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’

7 hours ago

Chicago – “Transformers: The Last Knight” held its star-studded premiere in Chicago on June 20, 2017. On the red carpet, Adam Fendelman of HollywoodChicago.com asked voice artist Frank Welker to jump into character to voice Decepticons including Megatron and Soundwave.

The film, which opened on June 21, 2017, stars Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel, Laura Haddock and Stanley Tucci from director Michael Bay. Watch now below!

Interview and edited by: Adam Fendelman, Publisher

Filmed by: Jeff Doles, 238 Studios

© 2017 HollywoodChicago.com LLC »

- adam@hollywoodchicago.com (Adam Fendelman)

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Film News: Merle Hayden, Subject of ‘Manlife: The Last of the Lawsonians,’ Dies at 96

10 hours ago

Racine, Wis – The last of the Lawsonians has now passed on. Merle Hayden, six days after he made an appearance on Closing Night at the Chicago Underground Film Festival (Cuff), died on June 10th, 2017, of natural causes in Racine, Wisconsin. He was 96 years old. His life was the subject of a World Premiere documentary shown at Cuff, “Manlife: The Last of the Lawsonians” on June 4th. Mr. Hayden made an appearance at that screening, lucidly participated in a Q&A and got to celebrate the achievement of his life’s work brought to a cinematic form.

The documentary – directed by Ryan Sarnowski – focused on Hayden, the last member of the utopian movement Lawsonomy, which seeks to preserve the legacy of his Commander, Alfred Lawson. Lawson invented the United States’ first passenger airliner, but his company went bankrupt during the Great Depression. Dismayed by the economic policies at work, Lawson created the Direct Credits Society, a movement against what Lawson called “the one percent” (sound familiar?) The Society advocated for economic reform and “justice for everyone that harms no one.” Once the Depression ended, and the country went back to work, the movement faded. But there was one disciple left… Merle Hayden. The documentary tells the story of his loyalty to the cause, a relationship from the past and a life that still needs redemption.

Merle Hayden, Appearing at Cuff on June 4th, 2017

Photo credit: Kristi Kucera for Cuff.org

It is extraordinary that Merle Hayden got one more lap around the track before he and his legacy moved on. The whole evening was a celebration of him, the documentary about his life and how he survived to that point. The documentary also won the Audience Award at the 2017 Cuff. A couple days after the event, Hayden went into hospice care, and passed away six days after that celebration. What a way to live, what a way to go.

Related: Film News: ‘Manlife: The Last of Lawsonians’ Wins Audience Award at 2017 Chicago Underground Film Festival

Merle J. Hayden, 1920-2017. For more information about Cuff, click here. The sponsoring organization of Cuff is Ifp Chicago, a non-profit dedicated to the voice of independent film. For more information about Ifp Chicago, click here.

By Patrick McDONALDWriter, Editorial CoordinatorHollywoodChicago.compat@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2017 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com »

- adam@hollywoodchicago.com (Adam Fendelman)

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Film Review: ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ is Bizarrely Enjoyable

21 June 2017 11:29 AM, PDT

Chicago – Knock me over with a feather kids, but I enjoyed “Transformers: The Last Knight.” Maybe it was in comparison to the others or maybe director Michael Bay has beaten me into submission, but this one had the right story elements and casting to make it work, with exceptions of course.

Rating: 3.5/5.0

The two essential things that made the film more tolerable was Anthony Hopkins and Laura Haddock, two Brits who brought some performance parts that made me laugh in their earnestness – Sir Anthony was particularly bizarre. The story is tied into the Arthurian legend, and begins on a knights-of-the-round-table battlefield, and somehow that gave a bit more understanding to what was going on, which was decidedly lacking in previous films. The rest will be pretty familiar to the Transformers’ universe and fan base, which surprisingly I guess I’m in tune with… no thanks to director Michael Bay, who still could have cut a good 45 minutes out of the running time. But this is the very definition of the “summer movie,” no more nutritious than the oil-slathered popcorn and giant Coke, and decidedly critic proof.

The film begins in King Arthur’s time. We find out the source of Merlin (Stanley Tucci) the Magician’s wizardry, which is an Autobot, naturally. The power is contained in a magical staff, which only Merlin can control. Meanwhile, in the present day, Autobot Optimus Prime and the Transformers are barred from earth, and a special military task force has been formed to hunt them down.

But Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) still harbors some Transformers fugitives, and rescues a young girl Izabella (Isabela Moner) because of her sympathies to the crew. During the rescue he is given a talisman that is part of the Merlin staff, and with its power becomes “the last knight.” Cade is then brought to England by the mysterious Sir Edmund (Anthony Hopkins), who teams him up with Professor Viviane (Laura Haddock), a direct descendant of Merlin. They are the last best hope to sway the earth’s destiny, as the Transformers’ home planet, Cybertron, is hurling towards our planet with the intention to destroy.

Transformers: The Last Knight” opens everywhere June 21st, in 3D and regular screenings. See local listings for 3D theaters and show times. Featuring Mark Wahlberg, Josh Duhamel, Stanley Tucci, Anthony Hopkins, Isabela Moner, Laura Haddock and John Tuturro. Screenplay by Art Marcum, Matt Holloway and Ken Nolan. Directed by Michael Bay. Rated “PG-13”

Continue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Transformers: The Last Knight

Another Day, Another Disaster for Cade (Mark Wahlberg) in ‘Transformers: The Last Knight

Photo credit: Paramount Pictures

Continue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Transformers: The Last Knight” »

- adam@hollywoodchicago.com (Adam Fendelman)

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Interview, Audio: Director Ana Lily Amirpour Stirs up ‘The Bad Batch’

21 June 2017 6:46 AM, PDT

Chicago – The dystopia – or negative future world – is a genre staple, from “Soylent Green” to “Max Max.” The latest film to ponder the possibilities is “The Bad Batch,” from writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour. This is her sophomore feature, after “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night,” and features Suki Waterhouse in the lead role.

The Bad Batch” is set in Texas, where persons branded with the film title are banished into a desert-like existence. A young woman name Arlen (Waterhouse), struggles to survive after her banishment, and finds out that a renegade society has formed within the harsh environs. She is captured, and is tortured into bodily harm, but manages to escape to another place-within-the-place, run by a leader named The Dream (Keanu Reeves). Arlen becomes intent on revenge, and in that state of emotion gains an enemy, the mysterious Miami Man (Jason Mamoa). The world is also populated with characters portrayed by Diego Luna, Giovani Ribisi and Jim Carrey, which means the Bad Batch just got badder.

Suki Waterhouse of ‘The Bad Batch

Photo credit: Neon

The mind of writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour is awash in alternative subjects. Her first feature film, after a number of short film efforts, was “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” (2014), and was described as “the first Iranian vampire Western.” Amirpour’s family has roots in Iran, but she was born in England and raised in the United States. She had been making films since she was 12 years old, and graduated from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. HollywoodChicago.com talked to her during a promotional tour of Chicago for the film, and divides that talk between a Q&A transcript and an audio portion, that both delve into her one-of-a-kind perspective.

HollywoodChicago.com: There have been many dystopian societies in art, from ‘Brave New World’ to ‘Mad Max.’ When you were creating your take on it, how did you want to characterize it that distinguished it from any other fictional dystopia?

Ana Lily Amirpour: I don’t consider it dystopia, I look at it as reality. Everything is dystopia, and there is no such thing as utopia. Works like ‘Brave New World’ and ‘The Handmaiden’s Tale’ develop their atmosphere from a movement or a revolution, as if the world has ended and has come out to this other side. When I wrote ‘The Bad Batch,’ I thought that the world outside the gates that confine the ‘bad’ characters is simply our world today. So if we’re pushed a little bit farther, in the sense of protection or resources, who are we? How do we define what is good or bad? What is the morality of human behavior?

HollywoodChicago.com: There are parallels to ‘Alice in Wonderland’ in this film. What do you think is most surreal in this particular rabbit hole, and what instinct do you believe Arlen uses best in her need to survive?

Amirpour: I only noticed this after I had finished the film, and watched it again a few months later… she is kind of like a shark because she keeps on moving forward. I do feel that in modern society that still is the best way to survive. Whatever it is, just keep doing something, because complete stillness or inactivity is more like death than death. But sometimes it’s reckless, and sometimes Arlen moves forward before thinking, that is the thing about her.

HollywoodChicago.com: The lead role of Arlen needed a lot of particular performance qualities. What did Suki Waterhouse bring to you in her audition that nailed those undefined qualities that was necessary for Arlen, as you created her?

Amirpour: I don’t personally do that many castings, in this film and in my first film. But I did get involved in “The Bad Batch,” because we couldn’t think of an actress that was a 3-D embodiment of the character. But when I saw Suki on tape, I knew she was ‘it.’ And I can’t describe that any more than to say that I never had to really express to her the the ideas that were on the page, she just instinctively embraced it. She was Arlen, and I didn’t want to f**k it up. Her instinct was just it.

Director Ana Lily Amipour (in Pink) Sets the Scene in ‘The Bad Batch

Photo credit: Neon

HollywoodChicago.com: One of the more interesting lines in the film is in regard to the ‘economy of comfort’ that develops in the bad batch society. Since that economy also makes a fortune for pharmaceuticals, the liquor industry and legal/illegal marijuana trade in our current society, what do you think the economy of comfort says about us?

Amirpour: That’s a big question, and I don’t have the answers, even though I ask the question in the film. It involves human colonization, how it develops, and it’s an observation based on that development. I don’t have an answer, but it just the way things work. It’s cool that you bring it up, because I find that most participants in that economy don’t think beyond it.

HollywoodChicago.com: You had many notable stars in smaller, almost cameo roles. What intrigued them all about participating in this film, did you get feedback as to why, for example, Jim Carrey decided to take the role?

Amirpour: I believe that every character I create is in their own film, that happens to overlap with the main film. There are complete and real characters, even though we only spend only a little time with them. In the approach to what those entities are, that always appeals to an actor. What are they, since they are going to embody this character? I knew that Jim was going to do it, for example. It’s that thing about the character, where he was that thing. He became the kind, gentle soul of this universe.

It was the same with Keanu. When I came up with the concept of ‘The Dream,’ on the surface he just seemed like another creepy bad man or villain. It had to be played by someone larger than life, but not malicious. And Keanu is that person to me, and he was The Dream like I wanted The Dream. [laughs]

In the audio portion of the interview, Ana Lily Amirpour talks more in-depth on the themes in her created society of “The Bad Batch,” her family background from Iran to America, and the source of her personal philosophy.

The Bad Batch” has a nationwide release on June 23th, including in Chicago at the Music Box Theatre, 3733 North Southport. See local listings for theaters and show times. Featuring Suki Waterhouse, Diego Luna, Jason Momoa, Yolanda Ross, Keanu Reeves and Jim Carrey. Written and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour. Rated “R”

By Patrick McDONALDWriter, Editorial CoordinatorHollywoodChicago.compat@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2017 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com »

- adam@hollywoodchicago.com (Adam Fendelman)

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Film Review: Emotionally Perfect Cowboy Elegy in ‘The Hero’

20 June 2017 10:31 AM, PDT

Chicago – The great character actor Sam Elliott – known mostly for his cowboy roles in film/TV and his unique bass sounding voiceovers – gets an opportunity to deliver a nuanced and emotional performance as a hyper-realized version of himself. There is virtue and truth in this character journey.

Rating: 5.0/5.0

The screenplay, by director Brett Haley and Marc Basch, is brilliantly in line with Elliott’s particular breed of Hollywood character actor. In addition, Elliott’s character has some regrets, and buries it under a cloud of marijuana smoke. All of the tics and situations are handled expertly by Elliott, showing a range of performance that had never been seen from him before… it is his greatest role. Also, the vulnerability of his persona is on full display, which creates a subtlety in the story that is welcome… life isn’t predictable, and it’s refreshing to see the cinema reflect that value. Brett Haley will be a director to watch for many years, as he ponders the expectations of life.

Lee Hayden (Elliott) is a 72-year-old character actor – known mostly for playing cowboys over the years. He is a bit washed up, but can supplement his divorced man lifestyle with voiceover gigs. His leisure includes pot smoking, so conveniently his dealer Jeremy (Nick Offerman) lives in his apartment complex. His life takes a turn when he gets some bad health news, and simultaneously meets Charlotte (Laura Prepon), a stand-up comic.

He takes Charlotte to a low-rent Cowboy Honoree event, where he receives a Lifetime Achievement Award. High on dope and Ecstasy, Lee makes an amazing acceptance speech that goes viral. He’s suddenly a hot commodity again, and uses the notoriety to ignore his health issues… part of which involves his estranged daughter Lucy (Krysten Ritter). The next phase is assessment and acceptance of his life.

“The Hero” was released in Chicago on June 16th, nationwide by July 4th. See local listings for theaters and show times. Featuring Sam Elliott, Laura Prepon, Krysten Ritter, Nick Offerman, Katherine Ross and Max Gail. Written by Brett Haley and Marc Basch. Directed by Brett Haley. Rated “R”

Continue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “The Hero”

The Future is Nigh for Lee Hayden (Sam Elliott) in ‘The Hero’

Photo credit: The Orchard

Continue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “The Hero” »

- adam@hollywoodchicago.com (Adam Fendelman)

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Music Review: Iron Maiden Conjures the Soul of Heavy Metal in Chicagoland Concert

19 June 2017 8:49 AM, PDT

Chicago – On a hot and humid night – with dark ominous clouds enveloping the Hollywood Casino Amphitheater in Tinley Park, Ill. on June 15th, 2017 – the crowd gathered to see Iron Maiden, and spilled into their seats like a cold beer from the tap. The heavy metal-loving masses, with their torn jeans and ever-present mullets, got ready for the latest show in the band’s “The Book of Souls” World Tour by responding in Pavlovian fashion to UFO’s “Doctor Doctor” (Maiden’s intro song), as it boomed from the venue’s speakers.

The band’s frontman Bruce Dickinson initially appeared on stage, staring enchantingly into a steaming cauldron while summoning the spirits of all things Iron Maiden. The 58 year-old singer’s recent brush with cancer does not appear to be slowing him down. If anything, it has helped him appreciate his incredible fortune to be on stage with his fellow metal mavericks. »

- adam@hollywoodchicago.com (Adam Fendelman)

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