Interview with Steven Bartle [Part 2]

Steven Bartle reveals his collaboration with Damon Hess and new projects ‘God Save the King’ and ‘Distant Love.’

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Photo of the 'God Save the King' Poster
Courtesy of Steven Bartle

In the first segment of my interview with Steven Bartle, the U.K. actor and writer told me about how his medical discharge from the Royal Marines Commandos shaped the story of his upcoming film short, Recoil. Bartle is very busy on other projects like Distant Love and God Save the King.

As a film producer, are you getting the music for Recoil, too?

I’m currently working with a well-known British producer called Damon Hess, who is doing some of the music for Recoil. It’s a very exciting time to be working with an artist such as Damon. He is collaborating with [DJ and singer] Sonique on a brand new release for Reckless Records due out in the summer.

Tell us about Distant Love, another short film.

Distant Love is actually the first [short] film that I’ve written fully. The husband is doing everything he can to save his marriage that’s falling apart in his eyes. As far as he’s aware, he’s done nothing wrong. He treats his wife like the princess she deserves! But she’s throwing everything back in his face and treating him like he’s not there. In the end, we’re left with this huge twist that I’m not going to reveal. Continue reading “Interview with Steven Bartle [Part 2]”

Interview with UK Actor Steven Bartle [Part 1]

Actor, writer, and producer Steven Bartle talks about his latest project, ‘Recoil.’

Photo of Steven Bartle
Steven Bartle, Courtesy of Bartle Productions

I want to spotlight StevenBartle: an actor, writer, and producer who currently resides in London. Originally from Sheffield, Bartle was a Royal Marines Commando until 2010, when he was injured in an attack that left him blind in one eye and unable to continue in the service. The young man was determined to make a fresh start, which came to be in his passion for acting. The 26-year-old was happy to Skype with me last month to discuss his career and reveal his upcoming projects.

How did you decide to get into acting?

I always wanted to be an actor. However, I never had the courage to do it. I never believed in myself. I went and joined the [Royal] Marines. After that [ended], I was just overcoming some very dark personal issues. I was starting to really think that I may as well come out of that and pursue what I really want in life and not be scared anymore. Continue reading “Interview with UK Actor Steven Bartle [Part 1]”

Whistler Film Festival: ‘The Legend of Barney Thomson’

It’s all grotesque fun in Robert Carlyle’s directorial debut, which features a long overdue collaboration with Emma Thompson.

The Case of the Sympathetic Barber

About thirty minutes before his Red Carpet appearance, Robert Carlyle gave his frank opinion about the titular character from The Legend of Barney Thomson. “He’s not a very nice person, this Barney,” the Once Upon a Time star admitted at the Whistler Film Festival, where his directorial debut was welcomed for its North American premiere. “It’s one of the most difficult things about the script: How do I play this guy and make him somehow sympathetic? Because he’s a tit, he really is!”

Robert Carlyle
Robert Carlyle in his directorial debut, ‘The Legend of Barney Thomson.’ Photo courtesy of the Whistler Film Festival.

It helps immensely that Carlyle dwarfs Barney’s unpleasant “outbursts” towards customers by bringing on the full force of an outrageous personality like Cemolina. Emma Thompson, a two-time Academy-Award-winning actress, is both delightful and horrifying as Barney’s mother. Only two years older than Carlyle, Thompson benefited from the expertise of Mark Coulier (Spectre, Iron Lady) for the prosthetic make-up design needed to transform her into the feisty Scottish woman. It’s Emma Thompson as you’ve never seen her.

Despite being in her seventies, Cemolina stays active with her betting at the dog races, her lively Bingo nights, and old lady dance parties. But by no means would we ever expect her to garner the accolade of “Mother of the Year” for the scathing verbal abuse she unleashes on Barney, the hapless and lonely barber. “I never saw the f***ing point of you,” she tells her long-suffering son. Ouch.

A View from the Barber’s Chair Continue reading “Whistler Film Festival: ‘The Legend of Barney Thomson’”

Whistler Film Festival: ‘Born to Be Blue’

Born to be Blue is a passion project that was years in the making for actor Ethan Hawke and director-writer Robert Budreau. Hawke plays the role of jazz trumpeter and crooner Chet Baker, who seems to be on the cusp of a comeback when the film opens in the mid-1960s. After his release from an Italian prison, there’s a black and white sequence that pulls the viewer back 1950s. The big moment is an evening in New York at the Birdland jazz club, where legend Miles Davis (Kedar Brown) is in attendance.

Ethan Hawke and Carmen Ejogo
Ethan Hawke and Carmen Ejogo in ‘Born to Be Blue.’ Photo courtesy of the Whistler Film Festival.

Co-star Callum Keith Rennie emerged for a Q&A after the screening at the Whistler Film Festival earlier this month. He called attention to the tensions that he felt Budreau and Hawke wanted to capture. “It was the new white guy on a scene that was predominately understood to be Black. It was ‘the new kid in town.’ I think there was a bit of a distance between the groups coming together,” Rennie explained to the crowd at the Village 8 Cinema.

Continue reading “Whistler Film Festival: ‘Born to Be Blue’”

Interview with Alessandra Piccione: ‘The Colossal Failure of the Modern Relationship’

“Truly, we all have a role to play in things not working out, failing, and our lives being where they are.”

Alessandra Piccione is a co-owner and screenwriter at Platinum Image Film in Toronto, Canada. Her feature film, The Colossal Failure of the Modern Relationship, recently had its Western Canada Premiere at the Whistler Film Festival. The comedy stars Krista Bridges (Heroes Reborn), Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars), David Cubitt (Medium), and Brooke Palsson (Less Than Kind). I interviewed her for Blogcritics during the week of the festival.

Krista Bridges and Enrico Colantoni
Krista Bridges and Enrico Colantoni in ‘The Colossal Failure of the Modern Relationship.’ Courtesy of the Whistler Film Festival

It’s great to be interviewing you today about your film.

Thank you! It’s a pleasure to be interviewed.

Your film company is based in Toronto. Have you been to the Whistler Film Festival before?

No, actually this is our first time. I’ve heard wonderful things about it so I’m really excited about going.

You penned the script for The Colossal Failure of the Modern Relationship, a film which took about two years to complete with director Sergio Navarretta.

From the first moment we thought of it – It was a fairly quick process in a way because we had projects that were in development and held for so long. We thought, you know what, let’s do something that’s fun and won’t take forever. It’ll be a little simpler. It took about two years from start to finish.

I notice you drew a lot from Italian cinema for this film. For me when I view those films, the quiet moments are so beautifully done. That quality also comes through in Colossal. Continue reading “Interview with Alessandra Piccione: ‘The Colossal Failure of the Modern Relationship’”

Virginia Film Festival: ‘Last Days in the Desert’

‘Last Days in the Desert’ is a unique exploration of Jesus’s human side in way that is contemplative, creative, and respectful.

Ewan McGregor in 'Last Days in the Desert'
Ewan McGregor in ‘Last Days in the Desert.’ Photo Courtesy of the Virginia Film Festival

It seems difficult to create a fresh perspective on Jesus, given all of the films and television specials that have been released over the years. However, director and writer Rodrigo García was able to do just that in his latest film, Last Days in the Desert. He focuses on a few days at the very end of the forty-day period that Jesus (Ewan McGregor) spent in the desert, fasting and praying before starting his active ministry.

García and producer Julie Lynn were both interviewed recently at the Virginia Film Festival by Harry Chotiner, a professor at New York University. The director, appearing on a large screen through video chat, summed up his film as a story about men “finding destiny under powerful fathers.”

One startling aspect of the film is a significant casting decision: Ewan McGregor plays both Jesus and Lucifer. “Lucifer uses human ways to destabilize Jesus,” García said. “He’s the least politically correct character.” Save for a couple additions of jewelry and his evil smirks, Lucifer looks the same as Jesus. His abilities in shape-shifting and mimicry are both entertaining and creepy at once.

Continue reading “Virginia Film Festival: ‘Last Days in the Desert’”

Middleburg Film Festival Panel: Meg Ryan’s Directorial Debut, ‘Ithaca’

Meg Ryan discusses casting, quality cinematography, and her on-screen reunion with Tom Hanks.

Ithaca Promo Photo
Photo used with permission from the Middleburg Film Festival

In the presence of Meg Ryan, the word “uncertainty” is not likely to cross your mind when it comes to her work. The Golden Globe-nominated actress was remarkably poised and cheerful in her demeanor as she took her seat on the Hill School stage last weekend. That Saturday marked the world premiere of her directorial debut, Ithaca, at the Middleburg Film Festival (MFF) in Middleburg, Va.

“What am I [as a woman] doing here, making a story about boys?” she asked Sam Shepard one day at the set. The renowned playwright and actor replied that she shouldn’t worry, because women make men after all. Indeed, Ryan has much to be proud of with her new film, which was shot at an exhilarating pace (a mere 23 days!) in Petersburg, Va. Ithaca centers upon a coming-of-age story about Homer Macauley, a boy who starts his first job as a telegram delivery boy. The drama is an adaptation of William Saroyan’s The Human Comedy and takes place during World War II. Continue reading “Middleburg Film Festival Panel: Meg Ryan’s Directorial Debut, ‘Ithaca’”