Made in Hong Kong Film Festival: A Salute to Kara Wai

If you’ve never heard of the Made in Hong Kong Film Festival, it’s a wonderful event cosponsored by the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery with the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office. 2016 marks the twenty-first year since the Festival’s inception in Washington, D.C., with a spectacular line up of films from July 15 through August 7 at the National Museum of American History.

Photo of Actress Kara Wai
Photo of Kara Wai courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution

Sunday afternoon featured the second day of a Salute to Kara Wai with a special screening of My Young Auntie (1981). The fifty-six year-old actress won her first Hong Kong Film Award for her performance in the funny and intense kung fu classic made by the Shaw Brothers studio. She plays a young student who marries her dying teacher to protect his inheritance. She delivers the deed to her new nephew and grand-nephew, but greedy relatives are not too far behind. Continue reading “Made in Hong Kong Film Festival: A Salute to Kara Wai”


Interview with Steven Bartle [Part 2]

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

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]”

Marvel Men: Directors Joe and Anthony Russo on Bringing ‘Captain America’ to the Screen

Joe and Anthony Russo talk ‘Captain America’ and unleash a potential spoiler for ‘Avengers: Infinity Wars.’

'Captain America: Civil War' Poster
Photo courtesy of Smithsonian Associates.

Directors Joe and Anthony Russo addressed a crowd of about 900 Marvel fans on Wednesday evening in Washington, DC. The brothers, known for their work on Community and Arrested Development, were at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) for a revealing interview with NPR critic Linda Holmes. The event was presented by Smithsonian Associates. Their latest film,Captain America: Civil War, opened the same day in U.S. theaters and it is expected to top the box office this weekend. Civil War focuses on the conflict between two respective groups of Marvel Universe characters, referenced by fans as “Team Iron Man” and “Team Cap.”

Joe and Anthony also comprised the team behind Captain America: Winter Soldier, which they themselves classified as a political thriller. In contrast, as Anthony Russo pointed out, Civil War was developed in the style of a psychological thriller. He and Joe provided guidance to the actors on scenes by mentioning films to them such as Seven, Fargo, Blow Out, and even The Godfather. The last film in that list may not seem as obvious, unless you liken Civil War to a breakup of a family. Continue reading “Marvel Men: Directors Joe and Anthony Russo on Bringing ‘Captain America’ to the Screen”

Interview, Part 1: Bonnie MacBird, Author of ‘Art in the Blood: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure’

Hollywood screenwriter Bonnie MacBird discusses her latest ‪Sherlock Holmes‬ novel, her passion for art, and her career.

Photo of Bonnie MacBird
Courtesy of Bonnie MacBird

Bonnie MacBird visited the Virginia Festival of the Book to promote her latest book, Art in the Blood: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure. Her long career as a screenwriter, producer, and director includes the screenplay for the original TRON as well as three Emmy Awards and eleven Cine Golden Eagle Awards. A lifelong Sherlockian, MacBird lives in Los Angeles and takes frequent trips to London.

Is this your first time at the Virginia Festival of the Book?

Yes, it’s my first time and I love it! I’m very impressed with Charlottesville. It’s beautiful. The whole town and the festival itself are quite impressive.

I know you have a background as a screenwriter, producer, and actress. You’ve put on a Sherlock Holmes play, The Blue Carbuncle. What was the transition like from screenwriting to novel writing?

My background is in the movie business. I’ve been 35 years in the entertainment business in Los Angeles. I started as a studio exec. I did development and that meant reading literally thousands of scripts. I think during that very formative time in my career, I got many lessons on story structure by doing that and working on screenplays, which are highly structured pieces of writing. Then I was a screenwriter for a number of years. I was the original writer of the movie, TRON, and then did a bunch of other scripts that sold. Continue reading “Interview, Part 1: Bonnie MacBird, Author of ‘Art in the Blood: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure’”

Interview: Lisa Jakub – Author of ‘You Look Like That Girl: A Child Actor Stops Pretending and Finally Grows Up’

Photo of Lisa Jakub

The 22nd Virginia Festival of the Book is underway this week in beautiful Charlottesville, VA. Produced by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the Festival brings together authors known locally and nationally for interesting and enlightening panel discussions. Lisa Jakub was there on opening day to promote her memoir, You Look Like That Girl: A Child Actor Stops Pretending and Finally Grows Up. She also spent a few minutes with Blogcritics to discuss her work.

A former actress, Jakub is perhaps best known for her roles in Mrs. Doubtfire and Independence Day. She left the acting profession at the age of twenty-two and now works as a writer. She lives in Virginia with her husband, Jeremy, and their rescue dog, Grace.

Have you been to the VA Festival of the Book before?

I have! I have attended for several years in a row now. It makes it even more exciting to actually be able to participate because it’s an event that I always look forward to. Continue reading “Interview: Lisa Jakub – Author of ‘You Look Like That Girl: A Child Actor Stops Pretending and Finally Grows Up’”

From the Archives: My Exclusive Interview with Mark Barrett from ‘Barney Thomson’

An in-depth look at Mark Barrett’s acting career and his time on Robert Carlyle’s ‘Barney Thomson’

Photo of Actor Mark Barrett
Mark Barrett, Credit: Matt Swift

Readers may recall that I caught up with Robert Carlyle during the Whistler Film Festival for the North American premiere of The Legend of Barney Thomson. The actor’s directorial debut tells the story of hapless barber, Barney Thomson, who accidentally falls into serial murder. At the Q&A, Carlyle (TrainspottingOnce Upon a Time) gave credit to a young Scottish actor, Mark Barrett, for his contributions in the rehearsal process. “A lot of aspiring young actors ask for your advice and they never do it!” Carlyle exclaimed on that snowy evening in December. “But Mark, he did become an actor.”

Naturally, Carlyle’s words may have left readers wondering about Mark Barrett, who also has a small role in the black comedy as barber Ricky Callahan. I reached out to Mr. Barrett to find out more about his experiences working on Barney Thomson. The twenty-eight-year-old actor was more than happy to sit down for his first official interview. However, his excitement was tempered by a startling sense of maturity and intensity in his gaze: revealing a sharp and discerning fellow who takes his work seriously. Continue reading “From the Archives: My Exclusive Interview with Mark Barrett from ‘Barney Thomson’”