Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™

New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong sequences of war violence, some grisly images, and language throughout
Release Date:
October 17, 2014


Moms' Night Out
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild thematic elements and some action
Release Date:
May 9, 2014

St. Vincent
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 For mature thematic material including sexual content, alcohol and tobacco use, and for language
Release Date:
October 17, 2014


Earth to Echo
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some action and peril, and mild language
Release Date:
July 3, 2014

Dear White People
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language, sexual content and drug use
Release Date:
October 17, 2014


Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for violence, language and drug content
Release Date:
July 2, 2014

Trailer: The Avengers: Age of Ultron

posted by Nell Minow

I’m very excited about the next Avengers movie, coming out next spring, and it’s a great trailer with the bleak images, random ballerinas, and creepy re-do of the classic song from “Pinocchio” (Disney loves to dip into its own archive, as it did with the “Peter Pan” songs in “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day”). But is it just me or does it look like they’re fighting a Transformer?

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Interviews: “Art and Craft’s” Sam Cullman and Jennifer Grausman

posted by Nell Minow

copyright 2014 Motto Pictures

The documentary “Art and Craft” is the extraordinary story of two men.  One is Mark Landis, an artist who created counterfeit paintings and then disguised himself as various philanthropist personas and donated them to art museums over three decades.  The other is Matt Leininger, registrar at the Oklahoma City Museum, who recognized the fraud and pursued clues — and then pursued Landis.  I spoke to directors Sam Cullman and Jennifer Grausman about the film, which raises questions of art, ethics, fraud, corruption, mental illness, and how we decide what we value.

How did you meet Mr. Landis?

JG: I read an article in the New York Times in January of 2011 that told the story, mostly from the point of view of Matthew Leininger who had been tracking Landis and that of some of the curators he had donated work to. I pulled the article out and put it in the drawer and was still thinking about it a week later.  There were really two stories there.   One was the crazy story of a forger who had never sold his work and donated them instead.

I had never heard of anything like that and was so curious about it.  Then also the Times sort of described Matthew Leininger as the Javert to Landis’s Jean Valjean and that literary reference really caught my eye as the narrative.  I called Matthew Leininger and he was open to coming down. And so Sam and I shot with him until February of 2011 and while we were there, he told us more about the story and we realized we really had to talk to Mark Landis.  And so we got in touch with him, originally I think we emailed and then sent him our past movies and then I started talking to him on the phone over the course of several months. And then he invited us down to Mississippi to film him.

Do you think there is a connection between art and mental illness?

JG: It’s interesting. I’m certainly a non-expert so I don’t want to talk about it generally, but I think in this case, Mark has always had this ability for drawing and painting and it is very much a part of his growing up and childhood, working to copy images out of catalogues from museums.  It was good for him because there is some sort of comfort when he was alone and also because he was good at it.  The art is interesting to him but really it’s been visiting museums and a way to interact with people that’s been really helpful for him.  He’s made his own way in the world by doing this and it is sort of an unusual story but it’s his story.

And  what we’ve been told by mental health professionals is that it’s been a story that is actually inspiring to them and to other people living with mental illness because he really has found his own place in the world and has not been committing violent crimes and has not been physically hurting other people. And so they find the story to be empowering in that sort of way.  For people in the art world – it’s a difficult issue because it portrays bring out issues of authenticity and originality and the importance of that and really what we hope here in terms of artistic intentions.

It’s only the art world that would sort us take a step back and say, “Well, maybe this is his art. Maybe the whole pretence is the art.” It is some kind of a performance art or a conceptual art.

Copyright 2014 Motto Pictures

JG: Right. And Mark would not say that, but certainly other people when seeing his story or hearing his story have comments on that.  We started the film thinking it was just an art world caper which was what drew us in but I think probably what made all three of us stay interested in the story was meeting Mark and understanding that it was really much broader than this art world framework. You know it really is a portrait of a person, of this unique individual and what he’s searching for.

SC: Mark uses Magic Markers and frames bought from Home Depot and he really has very, very little patience or interest in trying to approximate the actual material used of the era. For him it was really about the art and craft of it all. He says that he doesn’t really consider himself an artist but someone who is just good at arts and crafts.

And why do you think the priest persona was so important to him?

SC:  I think Mark has definitely a religious background but I don’t know that it really had much to do with that. I think he describes it as a moment of inspiration. Sometimes he likes to point to the fact that there is like this yarn that every family has got. One child that is great at business and one child is a doctor and you get down to the last kid, and he goes to the church.   I think he is tongue in cheek obviously about that but he had often posed as a philanthropist and this idea that a guy from a wealthy family, from the church just felt like a persona that he could be convincing with. I think another inspiration was this TV show called “Father Brown”.

Why did it take so long to bust him?  Didn’t the museums ever try to insure these works?

JG: I don’t know actually if they did. I mean there are so many museums and that was over thirty years and there were varying degrees of when museums found out they were fake. Some figured it out right after Mark left their offices and some figured it out six months later, and some didn’t know until Matt Leininger posted on the Registrars list about it. I’m not sure on the specifics.

As you tried to kind of put a narrative around all of the material that you would have put together, what did you see as sort of the through line of the story?

SC:  The through line kind of fell into our lap really.  It really became the exhibition. There was something that Matt had mentioned in our first interview with him – he described it as a dream, to bring together all of Landis’s known forgeries under one roof and invite him as a guest of honor.  We didn’t really know that that was going to come into being and when it did, it became clear that this was going to be the place for the film to end up.  We begin with a chase and end up with the meeting of protagonists and the antagonist and you never know which is the antagonist and the protagonist until you get to the end – or maybe you never really know and you’re always asking in your head to figure on your own who’s the villain.

It’s been compared to Jean Valjean and Javert from Les Miserables, but it’s also a little bit like Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty; it depends on whose side you’re on.

SC:  Or Tom and Jerry.  I think the thing that makes Mark remarkable aside from the most remarkable thing is that he decided never to profit from these fakes.  He has this incredible range of what he makes copies of.  Typically these master forgers focus on one particular artist or an era. Mark did everything from 15th century icons all the way to modern art, Picasso, and you know, even cartoons. So I think that is pretty remarkable. I think that is a real distinction.

Does he ever create his own art? From his own ideas?

JG:  Mark really hasn’t done much of that. He talks about how he went to art school to study photography and he learned all the processes, but then he just didn’t have anything he want to take a picture of. So he does have some original work based on photograph, primarily a portrait of his mother and a Joan of Arc painting.  But actually now there is sort of interesting byproducts of a lot of the publicity early on and then the film is that Mark has been approached by some women in his town to do commissions, photographs or paintings based on photographs of their children and grandchildren and occasionally a fake.  Also in the course of making the film Mark was also included in this exhibition called Intent to Deceive, this travelling exhibition.  The curators helped to create a website for Mark called and so he is now going to able to do commissions.

Is This the End of Television?

posted by Nell Minow

Last week both cable giant HBO and broadcast giant CBS made announcements that signal the end of television as we know it.  Both responded to the clear message of the market and said that they would make their content available in the form and via the delivery system consumers prefer — the internet.  For the first time, viewers will be able to watch HBO movies and series via their HBO Go platform with a separate subscription, even if they do not get HBO via cable.  And CBS will start showing its programs online in real time, as they are broadcast on television.  It is certain that the other networks, premium and basic cable, will follow suit.

We will look back on the 1950’s-2000’s as the last time people watched the same program via the same medium at the same time. Once television sets had only four or five channels.  Then, with cable, there were more than one hundred.  Online-only content from Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and YouTube and webseries on “stations” created by individuals and small groups will be at the same level as big-budget series like “Scandal” and “Game of Thrones.”  This is great news for creators and consumers, but the big businesses behind the large-scale productions will need to be nimble to maintain revenues.

Dylan Baker on Directing for the First Time in the Fact-Based High School Football Movie “23 Blast”

posted by Nell Minow
Copyright 2012 Dylan Baker

Copyright 2012 Dylan Baker

Dylan Baker is probably best remembered for playing some of the most horrific villains imaginable (“The Good Wife,” “Happiness”).  But his extensive career has included wild comedies (“Planes, Trains, and Automobiles,” “Anchorman 2″), historical drama (he was Robert McNamara in “13 Days”), and even a musical (“Across the Universe”).  He has just taken on a new role as a movie director for the first time with “23 Blast,” based on the true story of a Kentucky high school football player who lost his sight and, thanks to a supportive coach and team, kept playing. He told me the story of how this film came together, almost worthy of a movie itself.

How did you come to not just appear in this film but also direct it?

Yes, this is my directing debut. I have directed about a dozen plays but I kind of thought that directing a movie was not going to happen for me.  I kind of said, “Well, directing a movie is going to take all this time and so I think I will just let that be and I missed on the bucket list.” But then all of a sudden Toni Hoover who is actually a high school friend of my wife, they were cheerleaders together, she came to us and asked us to act in the movie about five or six years ago and then she sent us a script and asked me for a little help on it and so I started working on it and I helped her a little bit with casting, little bit more and then three years ago she asked me to direct it and I said, “Well, I don’t know when that’s going to happen again.” So I jumped on board and all this happened.

Was this her first script?

Yes. Toni has never written anything before really. And she had three children with her husband Vin and they were living in Tampa Florida and they both felt like they wanted the kids to enjoy sort of a childhood in a small town and Vin was from this little town in Corbin Kentucky and so he thought, “Why do we go back there?”  And Toni was not exactly on board at first. She demanded that he buy her a camera. And so she started walking the sidelines of the high school games, taking video of the games and people kind of looked at her like she was kind of strange.  She didn’t know what she was doing/.  And then she found a little local TV station, she started editing it together on their equipment, and then at the annual awards dinner, they said, “Stay said. We’ve got something new. Mrs. Toni Hoover has a film for everybody to see.” And it was her highlight reel.  And of course, all the kids went nuts! They had never seen anything like that.  So she was there with her son Bram Hoover who actually plays Jerry the quarterback in the movie.  She basically wrote it because she was trying to help Bram get a break. And we were good friends of Toni and Vin I said, “Well, good, go for it, go ahead, write it, we will act in it.” We didn’t actually think it would happen but when I actually read the script and I saw the story that she was talking about and the fact that it was based on a true story and once I got to see the real Travis Freeman, I was hooked. I just thought it was an amazing story and I wanted to be a part of it.


Copyright 2014 Touchdown Productions

So Toni was the one who did the tie in with Jerry Baker who of course also was a real person in Corbin and saw these two young people who as they got into high school, started kind of getting drawn apart from each other – Travis towards his calling in the ministry and the Jerry with this sort of lure of teenage problems specifically drinking. And so she felt like that contrast could follow them through. And what I really loved was that they were able to continue their friendship, if only on the football field where they both had mutual love of football.

What happened to the real Jerry? We see at the end of the film that he has passed away.

Well, it’s not a pretty story. He ended up having real alcohol and drug problems.  About a month after his child was born, Jerry was working as a roofer for his uncle.  This one day as you can tell in the movie, Jerry was like I guess a very stubborn guy and kind of had his own thoughts about things and he was working up on this roof and his uncle said, “Jerry, you can’t go up there today, it’s too slippery I don’t want you there.”  And he fell off the roof and he died about four years later from injuries sustained from that fall. His daughter really only got to know him as a paralyzed man in a wheelchair and he died when she was about five or six.  Kaylee is just such a spunky young woman and she appears in the end of the film.  They are very supportive of our efforts and are happy that this is the thought that Kaylee will have for her father as a guy who had a good heart and just had a tough time sticking to the straight and narrow.

The Hollywood version of the story would go in a different way and I really respect the film telling a very honest story that I thought was really compelling because it didn’t pull its punches in that way.

Thank you very much. I think that is a great tribute to Toni and the fact that she felt like it was a story that needed to be told and we weren’t going to sugarcoat it at all.

You assembled a very impressive cast of talented actors, including your wife.

I was able to open up my black address book and call up my friends; Stephen Lang for the coach and I found Becky Ann Baker, I just rolled over in bed and there she was, she plays the mobility coach and I think does a great job.  I’m pretty crazy about her. We’ve been married for 27 years now actually. But Tim Busfield, Fred Thompson, they were all people that I had worked with in other capacities and they all signed on. I was shocked when everybody agreed to it.

In casting and then in directing teenagers, how do you work with them and what did you talk to them about?

I didn’t know too many actors that age so I went out to Los Angeles and they set up some sessions. I met Mark Hapka, who plays Travis Freeman and then I met Max Adler who was from “Glee” and Alexa Vega.

And each one of them just showed me in the room that they could take the parts and just knock them out of the park to mix metaphors between football and baseball. But I was thrilled because to tell you the truth, some of the other actors I just felt like they were so contemporary and they had such a sort of today feel to them with sort of, I don’t know an LA accent or whatnot.  I’ve always loved the movie “Hoosiers” and I wanted to have that certain kind of timeless quality to it.  You will notice there are no cell phones, I wanted it to kind of be able to happen at any time and each of these actors had that ability of sort of removing themselves from the present day and what happened yesterday and how kids are talking. They had sort of a more timeless feel to them as well.

Now I have to say when Toni told me that she wanted Bram to play the part of Travis in the movie, I said, “Tony, this might be a deal breaker but I’ve got to meet Bram. I don’t know him. I did not get to talk to him.”

And so my fellow producer who I turned to right away when Tony asked me to direct the film, Jerry Donatelli, we talked Tony into bringing Bram out to New York where we both were based; Bram was in LA, and he came out for about a week and we went to different things and maybe went and saw a movie and then I said, “Well, why don’t you come up and read for us on the camera and we will do a little audition.”

And he said, “Great.” At that time he was scheduled to read for Travis Freeman. And I said, “Would you also look at this role of Jerry Baker?” Because of course, Bram has that black curly hair and the blue eyes and he is built like Adonis.  So he did it read for us and he did a great job with Travis but boy, when he started reading for Jerry Baker, it was a natural fit and he had such a wonderful sort of devil may care look, a great mischief behind his eyes.  As soon as we were done I turned and I said, “Bram, if I were going to cast you in this film, that’s the role I would cast you in.” And he said, “That’s the role I like.” So I called up Toni and she said, “Sounds good.” And we had our Jerry and he moved forward from there.

You have a small but important role as the father of the main character.  How did you create that performance?

Well, I met Larry Freeman after I had decided that was the best part for me and basically when Toni gave us the script six years ago she said, “Just pick whatever roles you guys want to do.”  And as I was working on the script with Toni and we were changing things here and there, one thing I really wanted was to try and keep Larry’s participation down to a minimum because I knew I would be directing it and I figured, “Well, let him just stand there.” Also, meeting the man, Larry is very soft spoken but very direct, incredibly honest and just a lovely human being. And watching him and Mary and Travis together talk about their faith and talk about their experience with Travis going blind and his reaction to it which was nothing short of heroic, he just said, “Well, I am fascinated to see what God has in store for me. And I look forward to finding a way to use this to bring go to the world.” And that’s what is trying to do.  He is trying to pass that message along.

Larry was this very simple guy and I saw an opportunity to take advantage of him in a couple of places to add a bit of comedy.  I said, “Now Larry, this is not a reflection on you at all but if I could get a laugh here and there I would rather do it.” Because I feel like with the film that there are some moments that are just so tough or that you are asking people to go through a tough journey and so a little levity doesn’t hurt. I have always felt that way.

How were you able to get the resources you needed to make the film? 

When we started, we didn’t have all of our money together for the budget. I had a meeting with Daniel Snyder who is one of our executive producers and he basically gave us a chunk of change that allowed us to be able to do the film.  We would have pretty much been shut down.  That didn’t happen until March of 2012 and we started shooting on April 2.  When we got in to post-production, we found our other executive producer, Misook Doolittle, and she got us enough money to finish.  We had to get all kinds of great help from people. We literally had people in Corbin who offered of their homes, the production team, we stayed at Vin Hoover’s sister’s house in Corbin and there were a couple of actors that stayed at another house. So we did anything we could to stretch our dollars as far as we could.Our whole budget was under just around $1 million. So it was really is a little engine of good.

Previous Posts

Trailer: The Avengers: Age of Ultron
[iframe src="" width="400" height="225" frameborder="0"] I'm very excited about the next Avengers movie, coming out next spring, and it's a great trailer with the bleak images, random ballerinas, and creepy re-do of the classic song from "Pinocc

posted 8:38:38am Oct. 23, 2014 | read full post »

Interviews: "Art and Craft's" Sam Cullman and Jennifer Grausman
The documentary "Art and Craft" is the extraordinary story of two men.  One is Mark Landis, an artist who created counterfeit paintings and then disguised himself as various philanthropist perso

posted 8:00:06am Oct. 23, 2014 | read full post »

Is This the End of Television?
Last week both cable giant HBO and broadcast giant CBS made announcements that signal the end of television as we know it.  Both responded to the clear message of the market and said that they would make their content available in the form and via the delivery system consumers prefer -- the interne

posted 3:24:08pm Oct. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Dylan Baker on Directing for the First Time in the Fact-Based High School Football Movie "23 Blast"
Dylan Baker is probably best remembered for playing some of the most horrific villains imaginable ("The Good Wife," "Happiness").  But his extensive career has included wild comedies ("Planes, Trai

posted 8:00:11am Oct. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Best Movies About Writers
Flavorwire has put together a great list of the 50 best movies about writers. It's always tricky to make a writer interesting on film. On one hand, you have the advantage of a character who is likely to be witty and eloquent. Movies are written by writers, so they have some insight and appreciatio

posted 3:37:07pm Oct. 21, 2014 | read full post »

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