Ray McKinnon – where have I seen him before?

Ray McKinnon - Ford v Ferrari
Ray McKinnon as Phil Remington in Ford v Ferrari

The actor Ray McKinnon plays Phil Remington in Ford v Ferrari — Le Mans ’66 for those on the right side of the Atlantic.

Ray McKinnon may not be a household name — I had to look him up myself — but I recognized him straight away when I saw him because he plays a very similar character in Apollo 13. Which coincidentally enough takes place at roughly the same time period — Ford v Ferrari takes place in 1966-67 and Apollo 13 takes place in 1967-1970.  I guess Ray just has that “I’m an engineer look,” about him — whatever that might be like.

Ray McKinnon - Apollo 13
Ray McKinnon as Jerry Bostick – FIDO White – in Apollo 13

Ray has quite an extensive filmography, including 83 actor credits, from Sons of Anarchy to The X Files.

Check out this interview with Ray discussing his work in Ford v Ferrari.

Watch the trailer for Ford v Ferrari.

Read my movie review of Ford v Ferrari (Grade: A+)

Movie Review – Ford v Ferrari

Movie Review - Ford v FerrariIt’s not often that a movie gets perfect marks on writing, acting, and directing, but, pardon the pun, Ford v Ferrari hits on all cylinders.

No one could ask or better chemistry between the two A-list movie stars Matt Damon and Christian Bale. Every scene they had, both together and apart, was perfect.

The writers Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth worked together on The Edge of Tomorrow — another great movie — and they’re joined by Jason Keller. I hope these three get together for a few more projects because they nailed this one.

Director James Mangold added another great job to his resume, along with Logan, Knight and Day, (a sleeper of a fun movie with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz) Kate & Leopold, and Girl, Interrupted. Mangold turns out some quality work on a regular basis. I hope he stays busy because we need more quality in theaters these days.

Finally, editors never get the credit they deserve, but this is a 2 1/2 hour movie that doesn’t feel nearly that long. Andrew Buckland, Michael McCusker, and Dirk Westervelt should be on the short list for best editing come Oscar season.

Movie Review – Charlie’s Angels

Movie Review - Charlie's AngelsCharlie’s Angels wasn’t that bad. I’ve never been a fan of the franchise but I personally liked this one the best.

Kristen Stewart was pretty darn good. Normally all I see is Bella Swan but not once during this did I see her that way. She really had a spark to her.

The plot was pretty predictable but the acting made up for it. There were some funny moments and little things passed around that gave you the essence of humor, not the slap stick in your face kind.

There were a few twists that I didn’t see coming and that pleased me. All in all, it was decent. I would probably list this as a curl up on the couch and watch kind of movie but I did see it in Dolby Surround and it sounded great. So if you’re really into how the movie sounds and feels, check out the Dolby version.

Grade: B-

About The Peetimes: Happy Friday folks, I’m working on the Peetimes right now, check back in about 30 minutes.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Charlie’s Angels. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for action/violence, language and some suggestive material
Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy

Movie Review – Midway

Movie Review - MidwaySorry to say: this movie doesn’t live up to the true events it attempts to depict. Unless you feel you must see the battle events on the big screen, this movie is better suited to DVD/streaming…in 2 or 3 months when it’s available.

To be sure, there’s plenty of explosions, bombs dropping, explosions, aerial dog fights, explosions, plane crashes, explosions,… 😉 That aspect of the movie doesn’t fail, except that it honestly gets a little redundant. (I wonder how many minutes of the movie were focused on closeups of Dick Best as he dive bombed — too many for sure.)

Where the movie falls short of it’s target, is in character development. And I mean all of it. There wasn’t a single character that had any sort of depth.

MIDWAY: between a bad movie and a horrible movie.Historically, I know the US Navy winning the Battle of Midway wasn’t just one miracle, it was several miracles. In the movie they tell us that, but we never really feel it. The story just doesn’t connect the dots in the way it should have. I’m not saying this is easy, but with a budget like this movie had there’s no excuse for not having a better script.

Grade: D+

About The Peetimes: I managed to find 4 good Peetimes and would recommend the 3rd one. There are no battle scenes in any of the Peetimes.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Midway. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for sequences of war violence and related images, language and smoking
Genres: Action, Drama, History

Terminator TV Series: The Carlenator

Ahoy there. Spoilers for Terminator: Dark Fate ahead!

Terminator: Dark Fate isn’t blowing the doors off the box office. It opened with a slightly disappointing weekend of $29 million: $1 million below expectations. In fact, the past three Terminator movies (Salvation, Genisys, and Dark Fate) all failed to meet box office expectations, throwing the future of the franchise in doubt.

Personally, I can’t get enough Terminator. I say keep them coming.

Terminator Dark Fate - Carl

But you know what I would love, Love, LOVE to see? A Terminator TV series that chronicles the adventures of the T-800 (Carl/Arnold Schwarzenegger) meeting Alicia and her son Mateo. It wouldn’t need to be a badass action drama. It would work fine as an comedy, with a sprinkle of action here and there. I would imagine the plot would focus around Carl coming to grips with his existence and searching for purpose, with a little bit of a one man A-Team theme where he occasionally helps out people who are in trouble.

If you’re thinking that Arnold is too old for this, then remember that they de-aged him for Dark Fate. The de-aging technology is getting better and better. It’s getting to the point that they wouldn’t even need Arnold to participate. They could use a double on-set and replace him in post production, along with a synthesized Arnold voice.

What do you think? Would you watch a show like this?

Official Movie Review – Terminator: Dark Fate

Movie Review - Terminator: Dark FateAll things considered, I’d say Terminator: Dark Fate is a worthy successor to the 1991 Terminator 2. After 28 years, 3 other Terminator movies — plus a TV show — it’s hard to think of Dark Fate as the 3rd movie in a trilogy, but that’s where it belongs.

Dark Fate had the potential to be an A, even A+ movie. The bones are there, but the flesh has a few too many blemishes. However, I think it earned a good B+ grade.

The action scenes won’t disappoint; they come early and often, and really pack a punch. If anything, there was too much action early, because by the end it feels a little anticlimactic.

Hands down, the best thing about this movie is Mackenzie Davis as Grace. She steals every scene she’s in — which is most of the movie. Her action scenes are creative, and she has the physique to make her character believable.

Kudos to the writers for giving Sarah Connor’s character a great return. Her character arc from the end of T2 to now works, and Linda Hamilton rocks the gritty, sarcastic attitude of her aged character.

My single biggest complaint is that the new character of Dani Ramos has some problems. After seeing the movie with my wife and mother, we all agreed she was the weak link. Upon further consideration, I don’t think it’s the actress’s (Natalia Reyes) fault. The writing for her character was caught in a conflict that just wasn’t going to work well. I’ll get to that in more depth below in the spoilers section.

Spoilers For Terminator Dark Fate Below
I’m including this in the spoilers section because I’m not 100% sure everyone knows Arnold Schwarzenegger is in this movie. First, I want to point out that I love the direction the writers took Arnold’s Terminator character. I was expecting something fresh and got it. Arnold’s scenes with Sarah were pure gold. It’s really cool to see them come full circle.

Here’s the conundrum the writers created for the character Dani: as the story develops, the audience is lead to believe, mainly due to dialog by Sarah Connor, that Dani is the “new Sarah” and that she’ll give birth to the leader of the resistance. However, as we later discover, Dani is the leader of the resistance herself.

In a perfect world, when the twist is revealed, the writers want the audience to think: Gee, I didn’t see that coming, but now that you think about it, the clues were right there.

That’s a tricky plot twist to pull off, and quite a challenge for the writers to undertake. I think they at least deserve kudos for trying. And I’m not saying they failed miserably. They just didn’t do a great job.

The problem: if they make Dani’s character appear strong and competent,  it will be obvious she’s the resistance leader. Therefore, they have to hide those attributes. At the same time, if they don’t make Dani appear strong and confident, then when the twist is revealed, it feels unrealistic.

Early in the movie we see Dani as the leader of her household, inspiring her brother, giving her father chores to do. It’s simple, but it shows she knows how to manage. When she and her brother arrive at the factory where they work and discover that her brother’s job has been replaced by a robot, she tells her brother to do her job…while she goes and complains to the manager. She ignores her superiors along the way, who advise her it’s not her place to question management. That’s another subtle nod to her confidence and “take charge” style.

After that point, she does nothing but cry over the loved ones she lost, and continually puts herself at needless risk as she questions (and sometimes ignores) Grace’s  guidance.

But it could have gone another way. The writers could have chosen to skip the twist at the end, in favor of jumping all over it from the very start. Make it obvious that Dani is a natural leader right from the beginning and never let up.

When Sarah Connor shows up and assumes — because Dani is a woman and the resistance sent her a protector back in time — that Dani is the womb of the future, then Dani can turn the tables on Sarah, and point out that times have changed, and women don’t need to just be vessels anymore.

I get it; writers like to be subtle — especially good writers — but it’s not always the best choice. I think on this occasion, setting up a conflict between Dani and Sarah as the same (but different) would have worked better.

One twist I did like about this story is that Judgement Day isn’t caused by Skynet.  It’s a completely different AI — created for the same basic objective — that becomes the downfall of civilization.

Essentially…saying that one way or another, an AI apocalypse is inevitable. 

Grade: B+

About The Peetimes: This movie is really packed with action, but I made sure none of the Peetimes contained action scenes. Of the 3 Peetimes, I would recommend the 2nd one. It’s near the middle of the movie and nothing important happens. The 3rd Peetime isn’t bad, but it’s definitely the worst of the bunch. There are a few good one-liners that you’ll miss.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Terminator: Dark Fate. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for violence throughout, language and brief nudity
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Read Rob Williams’ Terminator review: Grade A.

Interview with Actress Laura Stisser

Laura StisserI serendipitously ran across RunPee fan Laura Stisser, who it turns out is an actress. Laura was kind enough to put some thought into a few interview questions — below — that I hope you’ll enjoy. Even if you’re not in the movie industry, as a general movie fan Laura provides some interesting information. And if you’ve ever thought about getting into acting, then maybe Laura will be an inspiration for you.

Actress Laura Stisser was born in Chicago, Ill and raised in the Syracuse area of NY. Laura attended Oswego High School and then graduated with a BA from Oswego State University. Laura began acting in 2016 by performing in local theater productions. She then broadened her horizons and was privileged to act in various film productions and commercial work.

Laura’s first role was as the character June in 12 Days with God — now streaming on Pureflix.  You can also see her as the rehab receptionist in Big Time Adolescence, starring Pete Davidson and Griffin Gluck — now streaming on Hulu Canada. She also had the opportunity this year to play the role of Whitney, in the TV Pilot, Sticks which filmed in the Central New York Area.
Laura has been happily married for 21 years and the mother of two teens.

Laura Stisser at IMDb.com
Laura Stisser’s professional website
Laura Stisser’s Vimeo reel
Actors Access
Backstage

Dan: I know that you got into acting late in life. What was the thing that finally pushed you to go all in and try and make this happen, verses just wondering if you should?

Laura: I am and have always been a very insecure person. Of course, life lessons always make you stronger and you then you start to create the proverbial bucket list. One of my bucket list items was to audition for theater. It was one of the scariest moments of my life. It was also the biggest adrenaline rush I had ever experienced. No drug or rollercoaster had even come close to that feeling. And then…I got a call back. One call back led to another one, then roles. Roles for theater, student films, then Indie films. Not only did my confidence soar, but I have met the most amazing people who have literally taken me under their wing and helped me not make as many mistakes as people can in this crazy business. I also have the most amazing family support system which are my husband, daughter and son. Without their confidence in me and pep talks I don’t think I would have kept going in the beginning.

Dan: What do you do between gigs to improve your skills?

Laura StisserLaura: I absolutely love taking scene study classes and training with Breadcrumbs Productions in my local city of Syracuse. I also will drop into Improv classes occasionally, which is great training because it literally makes you react with no script or preparation. I also follow Bonnie Gillespie, who is a former actor, current casting director and also a self-help guru who wrote a book called, Self Management for Actors. This book covers everything from having the perfect headshot that best identifies your brand, to perfecting your demo reel, and in her own words, “to surviving and thriving in the business, and everything in between.”

There is also an app called Scenebot that is phenomenal. The app gives you brand new scripts every month that you can record and perform with a talk back-track of an actor they have pre-recorded for your own personal scene partner. Not only is this great for improving your skills, but you can also submit these recordings, and actual casting directors view and give you feedback via email. If people are really lucky, they may be contacted personally by an agent who may be interested in signing them.

Dan: What sort of roles excite you?

Laura: Any role where I can be completely out of my comfort level. I have played an alcoholic, victims of bipolar disorder and dementia, right down to a Zombie getting clubbed and dragged off.

Dan: How do you prepare for a new role?

Laura: If it is a role that deals with any type of addiction or mental disorders I always research by watching/reading biographies or documentaries. It’s so important to me to get true perspective and stay away from the stereotypes.

Dan: What do you do with dialog that is poorly written?

Laura: I have been very lucky with well written dialog, but there have been a few scripts where I was thinking, “No one says that”. In that case I will ask the writer/director if I may paraphrase that line. I haven’t met a Diva writer yet where they refused my request. They have all been pretty chill as long as you get their point across and do it well.

Dan: Regarding the scenes that you have on your highlight reel, do those usually go down in one take, or does it take a few tries to get it right?

Laura: You NEVER do a scene in one take. I pride myself in knowing my lines…not saying it doesn’t happen from time to time. Regardless of the actor being perfect, the director will always do rehearsal takes, a wide shot take, close up takes, takes for safety, etc.

Dan: How does it feel when you have a deeply emotional scene and you get through it thinking you, and your co-star, nailed it, but the director wants you to do it again for some reason. Is it hard to recreate deep emotions, or even humor, over and over?

Laura: Sometimes it’s very hard to recreate emotional scenes over and over. One of my skills that I am pretty confident in is my ability to cry on cue. Now with that being said, the director does need multiple takes for one reason or another, and that does get difficult for the actor doing the scene. Not only do you start to run out of tears but it takes a lot out of you physically and mentally. A good, — and if you are lucky — compassionate director will recognize that and give you a break from it, so you can muster up those emotions again for a good solid take.

Dan: Half serious question here: How would you feel if you were in one of the movies we did Peetimes for and one of your scenes was chosen as a Peetime? (Not that we would ever do that. You’re one of our Peeps!)

Laura: If my scene got selected for a Peetime, that would mean I have made it to the big screen and movie circuit. That would be a dream come true. How can anyone complain about that?

 

 

The Cast of Voices for Arctic Dogs

The cast of voices in Arctic Dogs. Photos and characters appear on top, while their actor information is listed below:

James Franco


Lemmy
Nominated for Best Actor Oscar for 127 Hours

Jeremy Renner

Swifty
Nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for Hurt Locker, and Hawkeye in the Marvel Universe. Among other great roles, like in Mission Impossible and The Bourne saga.

Alec Baldwin

PB
Best known for the television sitcom 30 Rock

Laurie Holden

Dakota
Played Andrea in the top rated television drama The Walking Dead for two seasons

John Cleese

Otto Von Walrus
Best known for Monty Python and A Fish Called Wanda

Omar Sy

Leopold
Known for Jurassic World, The Untouchables, X-Men: Days of Future Past

Heidi Klum

Jade / Bertha
Best known for creating and hosting Project Runway for 17 seasons, and currently is a judge on America’s Got Talent

Movie Review – The Current War

Movie Review - The Current WarUnless there’s some compelling reason you have for seeing this movie in the theater, I think it would make an excellent movie night at home when it’s streaming online, or on DVD.

The only negative thing I have to say about this movie is that the pacing goes way too fast. The scenes cut back and forth between settings way too fast. A long scene in this movie is probably only 3 minutes long, and there’s few of them.

I think this movie could have been much better if it were 30 (or even 45) minutes longer. I felt like I was watching a movie and not experiencing a movie — if that makes any sense.

The casting and acting were good, but not great. It was cool to see Dr. Strange and Spider-Man side by side for a few scenes. But honestly, I think the character of Mr. Insull was totally wasted on Tom Holland. Not that Tom did a bad job — there just wasn’t anything in the script for him to work with.

If there’s one place the movie totally fails, it’s that they focus on the main characters and plot at the expense of establishing just how profoundly impactful electric lights were to the common man.

Can you remember that feeling the first time you used a smartphone? Now take that and multiply by a billion. Humanity had lived forever in darkness, minus a candle or campfire, until the advent of electric lights. (Yes, there were oil lamps on streets in select cities, but even that was ultra new.)

Electric lights, along with the phonograph and telephone, were nothing short of the introduction of magic. They just scratched the surface of expressing that in the movie.

Grade: C+

About The Peetimes: It was hard to get Peetimes for this movie because it cut from one short scene to another fairly consistently. Most of the longer scenes were too important, and full of dialog, to use as Peetimes. I have three Peetimes spaced through the movie. I can’t really say than any one of them is better or worse than the others.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Current War. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for some violent content and thematic elements
Genres: Biography, Drama, History

Genetically modified mosquitoes coming soon to a theater near you

Genetic scientists in Italy are using CRISPR to genetically modify mosquitoes so that they can’t transmit malaria. (Watch the 5 minute video below for details.)

How long before someone uses this as the basis for a movie about mosquitoes mistakenly modified to grow to the size of a pterodactyl?

I’m calling it now: Mosquitosaurus . Coming to theaters sometime around February 2022. 🙂