Archive for October, 2009

Carlos Ponce has fun with role in COUPLES RETREAT

Posted in Features on October 9, 2009 by Steve Mesa

Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau were struggling actors when they first met on the set of the 1993 football film, Rudy. Three years later, they would work with each other again starring in a movie that they wrote themselves in the cult independent film, Swingers. Since then, they have become the best of friends and worked on several project together with the latest being Couples Retreat.
In the film, Vaughn and Favreau are part of an all-star cast that includes Kristen Davis (Sex and the City), Jason Bateman (Juno), Kristen Bell (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and Malin Akerman (Watchmen) where four couples go to a tropical island resort as a favor for one of the couples, whose marriage is on the rocks. When they arrive, they anticipate in doing many fun activities such as jet-ski and scuba diving, but all of them have to participate in the resort’s mandatory couples therapy.
The Beacon had the chance to talk to actor and singer Carlos Ponce who plays Salvador, the resort’s always-shirtless yoga instructor.
When Ponce auditioned for the role, he did not have a full script. Instead of the usual script, he only received cut down versions of the script that are called sides.
“I do not usually audition unless I had a full script, but I knew it was written by Vince and Jon and knew that they can’t go wrong”, Ponce said.
Ponce said that the script that was already written as more of a guideline and the filmmakers have discussed the changes in the script that was going to happen.
When it came to working with the cast in a scene where his character is instructing the couples into different and awkward yoga positions, he had a fantastic time with them.
“The greatest thing about these guys (Vaughn and Favreau) it is the fact that they allow you to be funny with them and they know that you are bring something different to the table”, Ponce said.
For Ponce, the things that he does in the film are little bit out of character as Salvador. As an actor, Ponce said he had to put such things as embarrassment and shame aside in order to convince himself that he was his character.
“I have met people like this who are very secure when it comes to themselves and comfortable in any scenario, despite what little wardrobe they are wearing”, Ponce said.
For Ponce, what he want the audience who watches Couples Retreat is to have a good time.
“I enjoy comedies because it frees your mind for a little while”, said Ponce. “Hopefully, it will be one of those movies where people are constantly quoting lines from. I already have some people tell me their favorite ‘one-liners’ from the movie and I love it because that is the way people will remember the movie”.

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Ask A Zombie Killer

Posted in Features on October 3, 2009 by Steve Mesa

What do you get when you have an Oscar-nominee and an up-and-coming young talent starring in one of the funniest movies of the year about zombie? Answer is Zombieland.
The Beacon had the chance to talk to Woody Harrelson (Natural Born Killlers) and Jesse Eisenberg (Adventureland) at the Shore Club in South Beach for the Zombieland press day. Not only do these men manage to share chemistry on the big screen, but they manage to carry it over off-screen as we had the chance to talk to us.
The Beacon: How much fun was it filming this movie?
Jesse Eisenberg: It was pretty fun. All the things that are fun to watch is often a tedious process because it takes hours to set up those scenes. The fun I found was improvising with Woody in the dialogue scenes, which was more acting-intensive than holding a hammer-intensive.
Woody Harrelson: It was very cathartic killing zombies. It is a nice way to release your inner rage.
The Beacon: Did you imagine someone that you dislike in real life and take it out on a zombie.
Woody: No, it was just mostly political figures.
The Beacon: How much improvisation did you two do in the movie?
Jesse: Every dialogue scene we did, we would probably for 20 minutes at a time for each of our takes.
Woody: It is nice to be able to wing it sometimes because you get cool spontaneous things you might not get otherwise. Sometimes it might be absolute crap , but for the few jewels that are in the take, it is well worth it.
The Beacon: When you guys got the script, what were your first thoughts?
Jesse: When I saw the title page, I thought I cannot imagine a good part there could be for an actor
Woody: You thought it was going to be stupid.
Jesse: Well, within the first line of the script, I realize this is great because it is funny and witty. The characters are good and everything is well defined. It is actually the first script I read over a period of several months of reading scripts. This one stood out as the cleverest character-driven scripts, even though it is a zombie comedy.
The Beacon: What was your favorite zombie kill to film?
Jesse: There is one where Woody uses two chainsaws.
Woody: How about the one with the butter knife?
Jesse: Which one was with a butter knife?
Woody: No, I just thought it would have been funny. The supermarket scene might have been my favorite to shoot. It made me laugh because it was funny how I had to wait for Jesse to tell me to swing so I can hit the zombie with a bat instead of Jesse himself.
The Beacon: Do you have a favorite zombie film?
Woody: I liked Shaun of the Dead, but to me, zombie movies really scare the crap out of me. The one movie with Will Smith (I Am Legend) was so terrifying and so was 28 Days Later. Those movies can really give you sleepless nights. I just prefer comedy.
The Beacon: Can you two relate to your characters?
Jesse: My character has an obsession to stay alive and I do not like to walk on cracks on the sidewalk. I have OCD in a lot of different thing that I am trying to work on with my dialectical behavior therapist. He is also trying to survive in a world overrun by zombies and if you meet my family… (laughs). No, It is just a joke. Woody met them yesterday.
Woody: They were sweet, sweet zombistic kind of people.
The Beacon: Do you pull any pranks on the set of Zombieland?
Jesse: It was the director’s (Rueben Fleischer) first movie so he was secretive to us and he wanted his actors to be happy and take care of us. We used Abigail Breslin to pretend that her last take was too traumatizing for her that she could not do another one. She would go to him hysterics and because she is one of the best actresses in the world, show would turn it on like that. We did this to him for like half a dozen times and he would say “We do not have to do another one, I am so sorry”. 15 minutes later, she would be fine.
The Beacon: How was working with Abigail?
Jesse: She is the smartest one in the room compare to both of us.
Woody: She is incredible. You forget that she is 12 years-old and she seems more mature then the rest of us. She is also an incredible actress. There is a scene where she has to cry. Not only does she do it beautifully in front of the cameras, but when the camera was on us, she is still crying. That is an incredible ability to access emotions.
The Beacon: There is a lot of action throughout the movie, but do you actually hit any zombie by accident.
Jesse: Emma Stone did at the time of shooting, but she did not know until we found while promoting the movie. She actually hit a guy, who was 60 feet off the ground and on a wire, with the gun so hard that he instantly fell down. He had to go to the hospital to get stitches, but he is fine now. He is an incredible stunt man who was actually Tobey Maguire’s stunt double in the Spider-Man movies as Spider-Man.
Woody: Are you sure he was the Spider-Man guy because I met another guy who said he was the Spider-Man guy? Huh.
The Beacon: Did you guys have any funny blooper during the shoot?
Woody: I do not remember that thing, do you?
Jesse: I try to forget them immediately. We would improvise so much that inevitably you say things that you immediately regret. I said something about the Incans and I felt embarrassed. Hopefully it is not going to be on the blooper reel because we might get a defamation lawsuit or something.

"Zombieland" is FOA (funny-on-arrival)

Posted in Reviews on October 3, 2009 by Steve Mesa

Just when you think Shaun of the Dead took zom-com (combination of zombie and comedy) movies to the next level, Zombieland is the recipient of that honor.
In a world where super-fast zombie are everywhere (thanks to an unknown virus found in a burger), there are few survivors left in Garland, Texas. We are introduced to four people trying to survive this any way they can, but are only introduced by the name of the cities they are from. Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) is a young man who goes by a list of rules, which include “Beware of Bathrooms” and “When in doubt, know your way out”, in order to survive from being mauled from hungry zombies. He meets a man known only as Tallahassee (Oscar-nominee Woody Harrelson), who is makes an art out of killing zombies and his mission in life is to find the last Twinkie in the world. As they travel together in search of refuge, they meet two con artists sisters named Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Oscar-nominee Abigail Breslin). They all start to butt head as soon as they meet, but to they rely on each other in order to survive the onslaught of zombies that is looking to make mincemeat out of them.
Zombieland manages to take the mantle away from British import Shaun of the Dead as the best zombie comedy of all time. Thanks to screenwriters Rheet Resse and Paul Wernick, Zombieland takes small doses of dramatic and romantic elements and mixes it with a huge dose of American-wit and humor that is instantly relatable. Whether it is Tallahassee playing “Dueling Banjos” and telling a hillbilly zombie that he has “a purty mouth” or Columbus is relived that there is no more Facebook update status, this movie is truly American-made. The best and funniest highlight in the movie is when the gang travel to Hollywood to reside in the mansion of a certain Oscar-nominee movie star/comedic actor.
The acting is surprisingly good for a zombie film; let alone of all things a horror film. Woody Harrelson personifies the character of Tallahassee as the ultimate destructor of zombies with a Southern drawl who uses everything from hedge clippers to a baseball bat to dispose his targets. When a certain aspect in Tallahassee’s life reveals a personal tragedy that happened to him that makes the character more than meets the eye. Jesse Eisenberg could easily be compared to Michael Cera when it comes to playing an awkward young man who seeks romance in life. Only Eisenberg can manage to shoot a shotgun and not make it look hilarious with his intention to shoot. Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin have great chemistry together as sisters who look for each other and even better chemistry when they meet Columbus and Tallahassee that makes them look like a dysfunctional family.
Before the credits roll, the audience will be treated to a few human kills before the movie really begin as Metallica’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls” overlaps an outstanding opening title sequence that features people running for their lives from the zombies. As soon as that is over, the rest of the movie is littered with nothing but zombie kills. The majority of the kills is at the hands of Tallahassee is handy with anything he gets his hands, no matter how small or big the object is, he will find a way to kill a zombie with it. The honor of “zombie kill of the week” goes Eisenberg who dispatches a zombie clown with a huge mallet that obliterates the clown’s cranium.
The special makeup designer for this film is Tony Gardner, who was responsible for the makeup is Sam Raimi’s Army of Darkness and Darkman. Gardner really takes the designs of the zombie makeup and makes it look like they smell really atrocious and designed their face to look like it has deteriorated over a period of time.
Zombieland is the funniest film that mixes the element of zombies and comedy since Shaun of the Dead with tremendous humor in its script, worthy performances from the cast and the makeup design for the movie is top-notch compared to any recent zombie movies.
ZOMBIELAND: 4.5/5 stars