Interview - Simeon Rice - UNSULLIED

I recently chatted with former NFL super star Simeon Rice about his journey into directing and his debut project, UNSULLIED. In theaters August 28th 2015

Matt Mungle: This should be an exciting time. Your first full-length feature film is a really taut thriller. I watched it and it had all the elements that I think need to be in a film like this. You had a bad guy that you can't stand and this really strong female character who has to take matters into her own hands. As a first film, what drew you to this genre?

Simeon Rice: Really, what drew me to this film, let me be straight, was watching NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. It really created a platform of anxiety. I was like, "Wow, I could watch hours of this level of anxiety." It left me at the edge of my seat. The Coen Brothers did a masterful job at creating that, and I said if I do a movie, I want to do a movie like that, that creates that type of tone.

MM: I'm very intrigued, and I think a lot of people should know, that here you are, you had this great career playing professional football. You could've just gone into the film industry said, "I'm Simeon Rice, dude. Let me make a film." But you went to film school. You actually paid some dues there and went to learn the art of filmmaking.

SR: Right, I was with CAA. Tom Condon was my agent. Had the biggest PR firm in the country, Rogers and Cowan. So many people giving advice. You don't have to go to film school while you're doing that. You can just walk right in and start making films and this and that, I said but it doesn't get me . . . Just because you have that privilege doesn't mean you have that right. The right comes from hard work.
Yes, you might be privileged to do those things, but that's entitlement. I didn't earn that. Then all the times that I was privileged in the realm of what I've created because I played football, other than that, it didn't go well. I was never taken serious.
If I go in there and get educated and learn the business, you can lie to me, but it's going to be hard to, because I can shred it with the truth. I can look at it from a discerning standpoint, and I'm like, "Why not? Why not get educated? Why not find structure?" I found the structure in school and I put my backbone on it.  I loved it. It wasn't a harmful process. It was a learning process with a bunch of other people that was learning as well.
Anybody who ever started out with anything in America, that is, you start out in school. Whatever we ever learn, we learn from our basic principles. I wanted to learn from these basic principles without it being a hindrance to me, without having to be caused to lose a lot more money than I was doing because I was trying to just jump in because I had the privilege to do it. But I didn't have the right to be there.
I'm not going to try to circumvent the process. I'm going to submit myself to the process, and in that submission, I'm going to find the truth. In that submission, I'm going to plant the seeds that's going to be able to birth a filmmaker, a real filmmaker, a knowledgeable filmmaker, a discerning filmmaker.  A paradigm shift is going to happen. People are going to be forced to see what I can do, and they're going to shake their heads "Oh, why didn't he do a football movie?"
It's elevating and understanding. Not dumbing down to understand, but elevating to understand, "Wow, you're more than what we thought. There's more to you than what we thought." The roots of it was always there. I'm just tapping into it now.
We are who we see ourselves as. Not how other people see us as. We bear fruit from what's inside of us.

MM: How much mentoring did you give to your leading lady, Murray Gray? You put her through the ringer, man.

SR: She is a trooper, Matt. I did. She went through it all. She is a wonderful actress. She was up for it, but it was intense. She had to go from crying, happy, to melancholy, to excited, to angry, to strong. There's so many different acting points that she had to get into, and keep in mind, this is a young lady who has never done a movie before. However, she just had the acting chops. She is a wonderful actress. She is really every bit of the character, and she really took the character to heavenly heights. She evolved in her role and she evolved the character along the way. It was a beautiful story in there.

MM: This might be a hard question, just to wrap our little conversation up. What to you would be the pinnacle of success in the film career as the Superbowl was to your past? What would be the pinnacle of that in a film career for you personally?

SR: That is a good question. When I'd be able to create that film that resonates with people as one of the greatest films they ever saw. I want to entertain people with films and with strong stories, and be able to inspire a generation by my film; to change the way you look at film.
For people to look at black people different, Asian people different. Everyone has a story. If through our film no more do we have these typical ways that we look at people, because now we can cast people based upon story, based upon who fits, based upon those types of things as opposed to being limited to a perspective of what people are; If I do that I think I will have done my job to an extent.


Hitman: Agent 47 - Review

R  |  96 min  |  Action, Crime, Thriller
Review - Matt Mungle

**in theaters August 21st*

SynopsisAn assassin teams up with a woman to help her find her father and uncover the mysteries of her ancestry.

Review: Hitman: Agent 47 is hit or miss when it comes to continuity and style. The film is based on a popular video game and like most in this genre doesn't quite get the reboot fans may want. It is disjointed and uses too much over dramatized dialogue and the meandering lulls make you long for "game over". 

The problem is not in Agent 47 (Rupert Friend) whose character is concise, focused, and well executed. The scenes with him carrying out his task are the highlight of the film. Nor can the blame be placed fully on Zachary Quinto's John Smith - although there are many moments when it is painful to watch Quinto deliver the cliche lines and lack luster script. If this had been the first role we saw him in and had never witnessed his greatness in the Star Trek flicks we would think him a mediocre actor at best. Luckily we all know that is not the case. 

The story as a whole is pretty solid. Two organizations want to find the great scientist Dr. Delriego for different reasons. He is the only one capable of recreating the genetically engineered assassins. The key to finding him seems to lie within his daughter Katia (Hannah Ware). Agent 47 and John Smith each have a separate drive and determination when it comes to getting to Katia first. Much of the film is the two of them battling each other for the title of, " I am better than you at kicking butt".

Ware is sadly very out of sorts in this role. She is unable to deliver the lines convincingly and lacks the fluid motion needed in the role. She is the common thread between the two agents and we need her to hold the story together from one action sequence to another. I am quick to forgive her though because, again, the script is wafer thin. When Agent 47 isn't doing his thing the writers tend to get lost in deciding what to have their people do so they splash around in a sea of drivel until the next fight breaks out. Everyone, especially the audience, sighs a breath of relief when that happens because it gives us something to actually enjoy.

Where the fault truly lies is in the direction of Aleksander Bach. Again we could extend the hand of forgiveness since this is the first film he has directed. But at the same time if you are going to take on a project like this there are certain things you have to get right. You have to be able to convey the story seamlessly. You have to be able to balance the full on action with the softer "get to know the character" moments. This one is so disjointed and lacks continuity. 

The continuity is the biggest failure. If I didn't know better I would swear that each segment of the movie was filmed by a different director and producing team. The way it is shot, the music, the choreographed stunts; all are like separate videos pieced into one final movie. You feel like when they wrapped for the day they came back the next morning and started again with no attention being paid to what happened the day before. The final act of the movie is the best. All of a sudden it gets a swagger and vibe that seems to come from nowhere. After watching that sequence the filmmakers should have gone back and redone the entire movie to match that. 

Hitman: Agent 47 is rated R for sequences of strong violence, and some language. Like the video game there is a lot of gun play and blood splatter. The bodies pile up continually and in graphic style. The adult language comes mainly from Katia, again due to a horribly written script. If you are ok with violence you will have no problem with the content in this one. I give it 2.5 out of 5 barcodes. The only redeeming part of this is how expertly Rupert Friend pulls off Agent 47. The title character has to be spot on and at least we get that. 


New Blu-ray releases - 08.16.15

SYNOPSISLambert & Stamp is the remarkable story of the unlikely partnership between aspiring filmmakers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp, who managed and developed the band we now know as The Who. Directed by James D. Cooper, the film follows the directors as they compare notes on film, music and frustrated ambitions, forging a friendship and collaboration along the way. 

REVIEW: Whoooooo are you? Who who, who who. Well if you really want to know more about the rock and roll icons THE WHO then you have to see this informative documentary. Fans of classic rock will appreciate the archived photos and rare Who footage. 

Every band has to start somewhere and often we take for granted that the staples of music culture. We just assume they started huge. But every one has their beginnings and this one chronicles The Who perfectly. We all know the names Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle, and Keith Moon. Now meet Lambert and Stamp. Names you probably didn't know existed until now; I didn't. 


Cop Car - Review

R  |  86 min  |  Thriller
Review - Matt Mungle

**in theaters and on VOD on August 14th*

SynopsisWhen two rebellious young boys stumble across an abandoned cop car hidden in a secluded glade they decide to take it for a joyride. When the small town sheriff (Kevin Bacon) goes looking for his missing car, the boys find themselves in the center of a deadly game of cat and mouse and the only way out is to go as fast as their cop car can take them.

Review: COP CAR is an intense roller coaster ride full of explosive emotion. When Travis (James Freedson-Jackson) and Harrison (Hays Wellford), two mischievous adolescent young boys, steal a cop car they soon realize that not everything is easily undone and find themselves entangled in a nasty situation with a not so forgiving Sheriff (Kevin Bacon). 

This is a simply executed film with climactic results. It doesn't try and wow the audience with unwanted clutter or confuse the issue with too many sub plots. What COP CAR does is fuse the often overlooked acting brilliance of Kevin Bacon with the well written story of two young boys on a joy ride. Travis and his pal aren't bad kids. Maybe a little misguided but little else. Yet there random act has led them to a horrific outcome. That tension and understanding is the heartbeat of the movie. These kids are in trouble and no one is going to help them. 

The fact that this takes place out in the middle of "nowhere USA" helps to encapsulate the film. If you have ever driven the back roads of an open, deserted country highway you know it is a landscape of desolation. It allows the story to expand and contrast without any interference. There is no accountability for any one's actions. Life just simply moves forward without the care and paranoia that might otherwise spoil the outcome in a bustling surrounding. 

Jackson and Wellford are really quite fantastic in this very adult drama. They convey not only the innocent nature of young boys exploring new things but when situations go bad they deliver the raw, scared emotion that you would expect. They obviously have little in the way of a solid home structure. These are lads left up to their own devices. The script is written in such a way that their dialogue and conversation is believable and appropriate for their age and upbringing. 

COP CAR is rated R for language, violence and brief drug use. It is a very violent and adult film. There are moments that you will find you are tensed up and on edge. The story sucks you in and keeps you riveted until the end. I give it 3.75 out of 5 badges. Perfectly directed, expertly acted, and a textbook thriller.