Jan 2012 24

By Fred Topel

“…The Supreme Court, with whose opinions I’ve not always agreed, declared that corporations are people and that money is free speech.”
– Al Gore

Since being elected president in 2000 (look it up if you don’t remember), Al Gore has forged a career as a public speaker. The movie of his speech about the climate crisis, An Inconvenient Truth, won an Oscar for best documentary. The former vice president also serves as the chairman of Current TV, a next generation news service he cofounded. The cable network features political programming with hosts like Cenk Uygur and Jennifer Granholm. It offers an alternative to the ultra right wing Fox News, and serves as a breath of fresh air when compared to the staid but supposedly balanced CNN.

Gore presented the network’s latest programming, anticipating the 2012 election cycle, to the Television Critics Association on Jan. 13. The critics must have reminded Gore of his days facing the White House press corps. We get the scoop on Snooki, so we’re not letting any fancy guys in suits get off easy.

Perhaps Gore is still a politician at heart. He took questions from critics but you might say he was filibustering to keep the conversation revolving around his talking points. Yes, he brought up the climate crisis on his own. Check your cable listings for Current TV and below for Gore’s thoughts on news coverage, Occupy Wall Street and the upcoming election.

Read SuicideGirls’ interview with Al Gore on

Jan 2012 17

by SuicideGirls

“It’s not democracy anymore.”
– Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

On the surface, The Last Mountain is a documentary about the dirty business of coal, the highly destructive and toxic practice of mountaintop removal mining, and one community’s fight to preserve their homes, their livelihoods, their health, and the last great mountain in the region. However, the story of Coal River Mountain in West Virginia is allegorical of much that is wrong with America, which is why during our roundtable conversation with the film’s champion, renowned environmental lawyer and activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., he barely mentions the four-letter word that is coal. Instead, Kennedy focuses on the underlying history and climate that has allowed corporations to rape and pillage our environment, and poison and kill our citizenry with impunity.

In The Last Mountain, Don Blankenship, the former CEO of Massey Energy (he retired at the end of December 2010), is typecast in the role of modern day robber baron. As the largest coal producer in Central Appalachia, his company is only able to function on the scale it does by subjugating democracy. Mountaintop removal mining is cheaper and less labor intensive than traditional underground coal extraction methods, but it causes such an affront to the landscape, water and air, that it can only be done when the authorities charged with protecting the public interest are willing and able to look the other way.

Between 2000 and 2006 Massey chalked up a staggering 60,000 EPA infractions, but has suffered little in consequences beyond much belated and pitifully low fines that serve the government’s need to be seen to be doing something while maintaining the status quo. Of course, Massey is not the only corporation and coal is far from the only industry that is using and abusing our severely compromised shell of a democracy. In light of the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling allowing corporate campaign donations (and a subsequent one that makes direct-to-candidate payments permissible), our government couldn’t be for more up for sale if it were posted on eBay.

Though there will inevitably be dark days ahead for our democracy, it’s not all doom and gloom thanks to a groundswell of grassroots activism as witnessed in Coal River Valley and documented in The Last Mountain. As for the environment, Kennedy points out towards the end of this interview that there’s an (LED) light at the end of the tunnel, and ironically it’s capitalism in its cleanest and purest form that may end up saving the day.

Read our interview with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. on

Jan 2012 17

By Daniel Robert Epstein

“My goal is to have six films that take place in wildly different areas of the country with different social strata and just come up with a little box of movies that are just a snapshot.”
– Steven Soderbergh

Early on in his career everyone knew that Steven Soderbergh was an innovative and brilliant filmmaker. But no one had any idea that he would eventually have such an effect on the business side of making films. Bubble is the first film in a series of six that will be shot on high definition video and be released on three platforms at once, theatrical, DVD and to air on HDNet.

Bubble is about three people who work at a doll factory in a small town in rural West Virginia. One is an older woman named Martha [Debbie Doebereiner] who obviously has a crush on a young factory worker named Kyle [Dustin James Ashley]. But when a young and sexy single mother named Rose [Misty Dawn Wilkins] comes to work to the factory Martha doesn’’t like her…

Read our exclusive interview with Steven Soderbergh on

Jan 2012 16

By Daniel Robert Epstein

“I wasn’t like a Yoko Ono, with a controlling scary thing going on but i was definitely consulted and involved.” – Kate Beckinsale

Big surprise! Underworld: Evolution is a good film. This is a rare case of a sequel being much better than the original. This second film takes off nearly exactly at the end of the first. Now that the death dealing vampiric Selene [Kate Beckinsale] and the hybrid werewolf/vampire Michael [Scott Speedman] have defeated the evil leader of the vampires, they must stop the founder of the vampire’s bloodline from releasing his twin brother, the first werewolf, from his prison.

I got a chance to talk with Kate Beckinsale in New York.

Read our exclusive interview with Kate Beckinsale on

Jan 2012 13

By Daniel Robert Epstein

“I’’ve picked up a reputation as an actor’’s director, which is great.” – Wes Craven

Back in ’70’s Wes Craven turned the movie world on its ear with horror films such as Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes. He had even greater success in the ’80’s with A Nightmare on Elm Street. But unlike many of his contemporaries who have fallen on hard times and made crappy film after crappy film, Craven has had great success in the past 10 years with the Scream franchise and his first mainstream thriller, Red Eye.

Red Eye is a very tense movie that eschews all the trappings of a traditional thriller. Lisa Reisert [Rachel McAdams] hates to fly and moments after takeoff her seatmate, Jackson Rippner [Cillian Murphy] reveals the real reason he’s on board: He is an operative in a plot to kill a rich and powerful businessman and Lisa is the key to its success.

I got a chance to talk to Craven about the extra packed DVD of Red Eye, the new remake of The Hills have Eyes and much more.

Read our exclusive interview with Wes Craven on

Jan 2012 12

By Daniel Robert Epstein

“I’ve found, especially in this industry, one compromise leads to another…” – Nick Valensi

Few bands in the last few years have made such on impact on rock music and music in general than The Strokes. Their first album, 2001’’s Is This It, set the bar very high in terms of sales and critical acclaim, so it was inevitable that their sophomore release, Room on Fire, didn’t live up to expectations. They have just released their third album, First Impressions of Earth, and I got a chance to talk with guitarist Nick Valensi about their rise, stumbling a bit, then rising like a phoenix up through the granite of insecurity.

Read our exclusive interview with Nick Valensi of The Strokes on

Jan 2012 11

By Fred Topel

“I’ve always been a sponge.”
– Vincent D’Onofrio

Vincent D’Onofrio has been a memorable character actor for 25 years. The first role most people remember was Pvt. Pyle, the marine cadet driven insane by a drill instructor in Full Metal Jacket. From other dark roles like a serial killer in The Cell and a meth dealer in The Salton Sea to high comedy as a farmer possessed by an alien in Men in Black, D’Onofrio may be unrecognizable between roles, but is always distinct.

D’Onofrio moves behind the scenes as director with the horror musical Don’t Go In the Woods. That’s right, horror musical. The conventional slasher movie gets a twist when a band goes on a forest retreat to write songs, and breaks into song as they’re being chased by a killer.

Sam Bisbee and Bo Boddie wrote the music for the film and most of the actors are first timers, so if you like them you can’t see any of their previous work. I sort of fell in love with Kate O’Malley so it’s a bummer she hasn’t done anything else. D’Onofrio had previously directed a 30 minute short, but Woods is his feature debut.

On the phone from New York, D’Onofrio sounded as intense as I expected, and hoped he would be. Not intimidating, mind you. It was a friendly conversation, going into depth about his process on both sides of the camera, and touching on some of the filmography I love. Don’t Go In the Woods is now available for download on VOD, it opens in New York theaters Jan. 13 and comes to L.A. in February.

Read SuicideGirls’ exclusive interview with Vincent D’Onofrio on