IR Exclusive Print Interview: Dennis Quaid For “The Dennissance” [Audio Up]

Dennis Quaid has played the diversity of the gamut throughout his career. From his early successes in “Breaking Away” & “The Right Stuff”, through commercial successes like “Innerspace” & “The Rookie” to his music tinged outings in “Great Balls Of Fire” & “The Big Easy” Quaid has always been interested in the human condition and how the journey progresses. This continues into his current outing with his new podcast series with Audio Up called “The Dennissance” where he brings his diverse experience in talking with those people that fascinate him. Whether it is talking to John Cash, son of Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash, Billy Ray Cyrus or even sports icon, Albert Pujols, Quaid’s easy going but relevant format paints a vivid and intriguing picture which is what all good storytellers Quaid spoke with The Inside Reel about research, perception and the life experiences that interest him.

You tend to get in deep to the core of the people you are talking to.

Dennis Quaid: That’s kind of the premise of my show, is I like to ask people [to be] on that don’t necessarily have something to sell, although here I am and I have something to sell on your show. (laughing) My favorite part of acting is the research that I do for a role, especially when I’m playing real people like Jimmy Morris of “The Rookie”, a real person, or Bill Clinton, or the astronaut Gordo Cooper, or Jerry Lee Lewis. My favorite part is the research and finding out what makes them tick as people. And I get a real inside view, [in that I] get to go through those doors that say, “Authorized Personnel Only,” and really learn about a different life that I would never get a chance to do if I had a regular job. I bring that process to the podcast.

I’ve had a very lucky life because of what I do as an actor and also just the diversity of people that I’ve been exposed to. And that’s what’s interesting to me about what makes people tick and different backgrounds, different things that they do, and really getting inside their heads [and finding out] what else are they interested in? If you hadn’t been an astronaut, what would you have been? Did you ever have any aspirations about anything else?

And also, like I said, [it is] just about talking about different aspects of their personality that you wouldn’t get by being on David Letterman or Tonight Show or whatever. That’s really what kind of interests me, and I think the audience would be interested in that too.

The thing about reading a script is that one always sees it in the mind’s eye and not necessarily what comes out on screen. Audio can work in the same way because your brain conjures the images to go with it.

DQ: That’s interesting that you brought that up because it hits it on the head with me too. It’s like reading a book and you visualize it in your head. The audio experience is a different experience than the audio-visual experience. You could project your own imagination onto it, I think, and it puts [it in] a different kind of focus and makes you focus in a different way which is interesting, I go back to the Nixon-Kennedy debate, which was the first television debate ever done. The people who listened to it on the radio thought Nixon won. And the people who saw it, of course, thought Kennedy had won. It’s also about different areas of the mind that you use.

How did you find your way into this podcast space? You are doing a lot of other stuff as well right now.

DQ: I’d never listened to a podcast up until about two years ago, to tell you the truth, and I got involved with a guy named Jared Gutstadt, who is my partner now, and Audio Up is the name of our platform. I was asked to do what turned out to be the number two music podcast last year with Bob Dylan and T Bone Burnett called “Bear & A Banjo” which is a fictional true story, seeing American music through two nefarious characters. And from that, we decided to do a podcast platform and just specialize in that. And “The Dennissance” kind of became a way in of getting an audience and the easiest thing to do at first. But I kind of like choose to do things at this point in my life, if I have have a tingle and chilling feeling of fear go up my spine. [If so, then] that’s probably the thing that I should do. Now, that gets me out of my comfort zone. And yes, it motivates. Fear is a great motivator. (laughing)

Your love of music and the process of acting reflects in your guests. Music, movies, television and event sports are all sides of the same coin in that they require talent, pace, rhythm and instinct.

DQ: They are the same, basically. I know so many sports figures that want to be actors or thespians and musicians that want to be sports figures. You know who I’m talking about. But music was my first love. And I got my first guitar at the age of 12. Back then that’s really what I wanted to do. And I found, luckily, when I was 19 years old — I’m from Houston, and at the University of Houston there was a teacher there named Cecil Pickett. I got in his acting class. And that very week, I went and auditioned at what they used to call coffee houses. Back then, [those places were about] music. And the lady told me, “Well, what you have is just for living rooms, but I don’t think you’ll really amount to much as a musician.” And I made the mistake of believing her (laughing). But at the same time, that same week I was in Mr. Pickett’s acting class and the way he talked about acting was really kind of – it was like psychology. It was about figuring out what makes people tick. And I found that profoundly interesting.

And that was a gift really, at that early age, to know what you want to do with your life. And music never went away because you got to have– in order to do either of these things, including sports as well, you have to have an immense capacity for rejection and the ability to ignore the word “no” and keep going with it. And that tenacity, I think, is probably the single most important ingredient into getting any kind of success at anything.

I was lucky enough through acting to be able to — I had music movies that I did and I was then be able to write music that went into songs in the films. It t always kept music alive throughout my life. I went out for football [back in high school], of course,[because] as a matter of [fact], that’s what you do in Texas. And I got laughed off the field basically, and that is how I ended up at the drama club in high school. (laughing)

But drama, sports or any skill, you get better the more experience you gain.

DQ: It’s all a learned skill. It really is. People can be good at talking or whatever, but then when you put them into the format, it can becomes a deer in the headlights. And then you go from there and get better and better at it. I remember the first interview that I ever did on television was The Merv Griffin show. And I remember Bo Derek was on and Anthony Newley, and I remember being so nervous. And I did Johnny Carson, back in the day. I remember being so nervous standing backstage during that. You just get better and better at it the more you do it, and the fear starts to recede into the background.

Does that confidence inform doing more of “The Dennissance”?

DQ: I thought that “The Dennissance” was [going to be] like a season. I thought it was going to be, what, 8, 10 episodes. And, of course, we’re going to do another season. I’ve been talking to people that I cultivated a relationship with already. They were those people where we’re friends or we’re, at least, acquaintances. The people that fascinate me [include] everybody I’ve had on the show. And then I also want to get them at a time when maybe they don’t have something to sell and just do that. You’ll find out something a little different than you would get, say, seeing them on a talk show. [Because] then you may get underneath personalities and share that with an audience.

“The DennisSance” is available on all podcast platforms includimg Spotify & iTunes as well as through the show website at https://www.audioup.com/thedennissance .

IR Exclusive Print Feature: MALIFICENT – MISTRESS OF EVIL [Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment]

The beauty of a film like “Malificent: Mistress Of Evil” can be reflected in its idea of perspective versus perception. The way that characters interact shows a dexterity of what is trying to be shown. In talking to Joachim Ronning, the director, it is reflected in ideas of the women involved. The balance of themes like ambition versus contentment, loyalty and betrayal. But ultimately reflected in his words, “Malificent “is a story of a mother and daughter. Malificent, ultimately in certain parts of her character, will never change but that bond is integral to the story. In speaking about scenes, we discuss the dinner scene, which specifically enough does not really employ any green screen so it is the most practically pure where all the characters are present. Very few actors in terms of presence can go up Angelina Jolie, especially in this role as she knows Malificent inside and outwards but Joachim believes that Michelle Pfieffer is one of actors. It is hard he admits to be able to adjust a performance like Angie’s since she knows it so purely. One aspect Joachim says he did try to bring to the film was a sense of humor (which is undeniably in the dinner scene). He relates that they had a week to filmthe dinner scene which itself was actually about 10 pages. There are some many elements of both masks and truth but they are essential to the character.

Another actor involved that Inside Reel spoke to for the release of “Malificent: Mistress Of Evil” was Warwick Davis who has had many experiences and knowledge of vast franchises from Star Wars to Harry Potter. He plays Lickspittle, who whittles away in the basement doing the bidding of the Queen played by Michelle Pfieffer. Warwick explains that the backstory of the character is important and integrates into the performance. He doesn’t lean on the make up and prosthetics which he often dons because from his perception, they will always be great so he needs to bring his own gravitas to the point and that always reflects in the emotion and physicality of the character and how he holds himself. With Lickspittle, Warwick says that this creature is not there of his own will. There is no place to sleep and that reflects in his playing with him. In selecting characters, it is inherent of the journey for Warwick. Some are more complex than others. Some are cameos as well but they are reflect him. I ask him about those tells that he sees or reflects. He says the simple neck angling of his Ewok character in Return Of The Jedi at certain points relayed so much and that same element can be seen in the shot he plays with his son in the recent “Rise Of Skywalker”. But the key he reiterates is listening either to your actors or the director. He recounts about George Lucas directing in the prequels where Lucas would say very little but you had to make sure you embodied that and made it work. Another director he relays he was very excited to work with was Gareth Edwards in “Rogue One”. He speaks of that approach where Gareth would let the camera run so an actor got a more organic style to the scenes. He also speaks of Ron Howard fondly. He relates that Ron being an actor really gave him confidence playing Willow as he was only 17 when he took on that role and it really helped guide him in many of his choices. Warwick is rumored to be taking back on the role in a new Disney+ series.

Making big movies like this is always tricky with so many moving parts. Joachim is most proud of his creation in the emotional connection…that specific connection between mother and daughter. As the father of two girls he related to this he said but also to this story of three very strong and different women. With his next directorial effort set to be the “Pirates Of The Caribbean” reboot after directing “Dead Man Tell No Tales”, the future is bright especially since the lead in the new film is rumored to be female. The emotional core and story always has to appeal which Warwick agrees with. But with a director, there is so many moving parts at any point. On the technical side Joachim is proud of the ending battle of the film since it took up nearly 30 pages. This can be a daunting task for any director and he was working on it up until the final days before the film was released. Ultimately “Malificent: Mistress Of Evil” stands on the world that it is created within but also he believes in the subtlety of humor and the through line within the tone that makes one believe in the transformative power of love through this mother and daughter.

By Tim Wassberg

Fest Track Film Preview: BUSHWICK BEATS

It is time to celebrate the independent spirit of courageous filmmakers. One of these new voices is within “Bushwick Beats”, a film set in the heart of Brooklyn’s hot Bushwick neighborhood. The film is a brilliant construct by six promising young directors: Anu Valia, A. Sayeeda Moreno, Chloe Sarbib, Brian Shoaf, Sonejuhi Sinha and James Sweeney. The theme of unconditional love is in the heart of each segment which is moved in tandem by the journey of our heroes, whether through a single mother with ALS, a vampire or two lovers stuck in separate timelines. To carry these bittersweet and often humorous rides the directors have enlisted a charismatic cast of established actors such as Britt Baron (“Glow”), Henny Russell (“Orange is the New Black”), Britne Oldfor (“American Horror Story”), Mugga (“Billions”) , Nadia Dajani (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Keenan Jolliff (“Monsters And Men”) and Hazelle Goodman (“Hannibal”). Overall there is a common thread that surfaces within the experience of this film, a thread binding all humanities into one. It tracks the eternal struggle of inner accomplishment as well as finding a place in a complex existence. With a maverick sensibility, these filmmakers with their first full-length feature create a style as an opened arabesque, a fine sommersault of grace and precision coming to a festival soon.

By Emmanuel Itier

IR Print Quick Take: Laugh & Peace – The 2019 Okinawa International Movie Festival [Okinawa, Japan]

For most tourists in the World, Okinawa is this iconic Japanese Island some 400 miles from the mainland of Japan and where it’s always a “feel good” feeling to escape, rejuvenate in this paradise similar to Hawaii. For others it’s also the gruesome reminder of the ugly battle of Okinawa during World War II that caused so many lives from both sides and left a bitter taste in the mind and spirit. Therefore, for all these reasons, it’s not a surprise that the legendary Yoshimoto Kogyo entertainment conglomerate chose to give birth 11 years ago to the “Laugh and Peace” Okinawa International Movie Festival.

During this 4 day event, we, as participants, were lucky to encounter the rising Stars of Japan such as beautiful Actresses Honoka Matsumoto, Ayame Misaki and inspired Director Yûichi Hibi who showed his long awaited film “Erica 28” with the legendary late Krin Kiki. Plus we also met the talented Wutt Hmone Shwe Yi from Myanmar. We will have a focused story with interviews from these new exciting stars in our next coverage of the Okinawa International Movie Festival. It truly was amazing to encounter such talents and be able to report to the West that they all are ready for their big break in Hollywood! Kanpai!

On top of discovering new talent, new films, new savors and colors from this mesmerizing Okinawa, this was also the opportunity to learn about the new educational endeavor launched by Yoshimoto Kogyio and under the direction of chairman Hiroshi Osaki entitled “Laugh & Peace_Mother”, which a new platform powered by the NTT Group. Overall, one can only be impressed by this perfectly executed event full of surprises and tasteful programming.

And as a testament of the good taste from the locals attending the festival, this year’s Audience Award went to the very funny and charming Japanese film: ‘Handling Method for Grumpy Woman’. Director Shusuke Arita, who accepted his trophy, for sure had a smile of peace, laugh and love. Coming next year, the 12th Annual Okinawa International Movie Festival with welcome with peace and laughter.

By Emmanuel Itier

Fest Track On Sirk TV Film Review: SANTA BARBARA INTL FILM FESTIVAL [Santa Barbara, California]

The texture of Santa Barbara in terms of its film festival has transitioned over the years. The essence of genre and the programming has transitioned over the years but keying into the awards season fervor always remains the same but finding the right balance of films for the viewer’s taste is key.

Betrayal (Traición) This story of a woman searching for the texture of who her mother is begins very simply and allegorically before it becomes a metaphor for the essence of being. While the set up is structured more in an idea of action-based life vs. death, its eventual thrust unfolds too slowly. While the progression of what creates her life (out of a whorehouse tryst) almost carries a beholden wistfulness to it despite the surroundings, the inherent solution reveres itself in an idealism of the passing of the baton (maybe with an ode to “Queen Of The South”). However the resolution leaves the intentions and ultimately the struggle of power resolutely inert.

Outstanding Performer Of The Year: Rami Malek No performance has garnered as much respectability or indeed as much fervor as Malek’s turn as the legendary Queen frontman this year. Malek’s journey as indicated in his conversation on stage in nearly as frought in overcoming obstacles as Mercury himself. Though he was born and raised in Sherman Oaks, California, Malek himself is Egyptian, not far from Mercury’s Zanzibar in Tanzania. But it is taking that background and fighting against stereotypes that allowed Mercury to transcend in London and Malek thereby in Hollywood. The turning point, according to his conversation, seemingly happened with HBO’s “The Pacific” where at one point, Steven Spielberg was taping his scene audition across from Joseph Mazzello (who beyond playing John Deacon in “Bohemian Rhapsody” also played the grandson of John Hammond in the first “Jurassic Park”). That series led to other roles including “The Master” (which this reviewer totally forgot he was in). He pushed Paul Thomas Anderson in the audition with Joaquin [Phoenix] there saying “I want this”. His remembrance that there was an essence of acceptance from Phoenix he says spurred him on. “Mr. Robot” of course broke him through into the zeitgeist but it was because he says of show runner Sam Esmail’s prescience on the texture of the hacker. “Bohemian Rhapsody” came to him through that perception. He signed on with producer Graham King as soon as he was asked but then realized he had to deliver. He went to London and connected with a very specific movement coach. The one aspect not addressed was the aspect of Malek singing as Freddie which is one of the big questions since no one could really be able to do that. His texture of the man is undeniable although some story elements have been, to many, skewed a little bit to make the story more palpable for mainstream audiences. This seems to have worked as the film has performed admirably despite “the elephant in the room” as the moderator indicated which Malek finally addressed after being asked directly despite the apparent uncomfortability of the subject for him. This point was in regards to the aspect of ousted director Bryan Singer who has come under fire even more so in recent days for sexual harassment allegations despite the fact that it is his name still on the film and not Dexter Fletcher who completed the final two weeks of shooting. Malek finally did address this subject saying that working with Singer was “not pleasant…at all” and that Singer “was fired”.

Fly By Night This film, also part of the Crime Scenes sidebar (of which “Betrayal” is also part), focuses on small time crime on the outskirt of Kuala Lumpur. The tonal shifts in the scenes are both interesting and disjointed at times. The film starts off as a stylish character piece before moving into family drama before settling on an action hybrid/gangster film. While the strategy of the chess game between the police, the small time crooks and the local mafia interweaves nicely, the secondary plots including a jilted mistress seem to wash by the wayside. A particularly brutal end to a key ransom figurehead seems to simply occur and disappear. While the lead character per se: an egotistical young brother seemingly keeps falling down the same path, it is two adjacent characters. The first is that of the loyal combatant who takes a screwdriver into his own hands at one point. He has the most intensity and breathe of character. By comparison, the local head of the mafia is portrayed with such theatricality that it is hard to look away, even when he brutally goes off the rails. The resolution is finite and true to form but nonetheless solves none of the bigger problems of the plot.

Tell It To The Bees Anna Paquin always has the ability to inhabit and contextualize the aspect of the outsider while always inferring compassion in her performances. While Paquin balances this structure, she always at times can seem to be like she is acting per se thereby making it hard to see her disappear into her roles. Holliday Grainger (whom IR talked to for “Bonnie & Clyde” back in 2013) seems incessantly natural by comparison as the wife/woman scorned who falls into the arms of Paquin’s loving doctor. Granted this tome is set in the 1950s so the gist of the narrative focuses around the social and psychological tensions placed on the couple from the outside. Obviously the most biting satire or sense of understanding comes from the 10 year old child of Grainger’s character who is also dealing with an absentee father who is suffering after the war (but does his best to make everyone else miserable at the same time). The metaphor of the bees is keyed to listening and how to survive suffering. Ultimately the movie is a parable and a cautionary tale bathed with a sense of redemption and hope. Even though it tries a bit too hard, when it is carefree, it understands the balance of life is acceptance. Otherwise. it shows that darkness can consume even inside the impetus of family.

By Tim Wassberg