TV Review: Time is Relative in GENIUS

{All images images by Dusan Martincek, used courtesy National Geographic.}

Genius, season 1, episode 1: “Chapter 1”
Written by Noah Pink (based on the book Einstein: His Life and Universe, by Walter Isaacson)
Directed by Ron Howard
Produced by Imagine Television, shown on National Geographic
Copyright 2017

Science and education has been in the middle of a battle lately, and has been placed front and center in today’s political climate. With that in mind, National Geographic and Imagine Entertainment brings us Genius, their first scripted series. Planned as an anthology series, the show will focus on a different person every season.

For their first year out, the focus is on physicist Albert Einstein (Geoffrey Rush when older, Johnny Flynn when younger). Based on the book Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson, the ten episode story follows Einstein as he becomes the legend he is today.

https://youtu.be/SICLBlHizUY

Directed by Ron Howard, the first episode starts off with an attempt to make Einstein sexy, opening with the older version of him having enthusiastic sex with his assistant while his wife (Emily Watson as Elsa Einstein) is off running errands.

We are then torn into two timelines: one during the 1890s, when he is young and still in school (or not, as the case may be, as he drops out of one and attempts to go on his own); the other during the 1930s when he is teaching in Germany as Hitler is rising to power. The political message is pretty on the nose, but then again, unfortunately (as TV Tropes states), some anvils need to be dropped.

Despite the multiple timelines, the transitions are smooth and easy to follow. I’m curious if the rest of the season will continue the splitting between the two eras, maintaining each thread as they come together. It’ll be fascinating if they can pull it off.

Young Albert is bored.

Howard’s directing is spot on, with the episode fast paced and moving quickly. The sets and costumes are gloriously done, although the use of CGI to show Einstein’s thoughts about the universe come across a little too intrusive to me, breaking the suspension of disbelief.

Of course, Rush is excellent as Einstein, although it definitely feels like “Geoffrey Rush playing Einstein”. Flynn is outstanding as the younger Einstein, playing perfectly that passion and fire that is only seen in that twenty-something age range when we’re all so desperate to prove we deserve to be adults.

The attempt to make the man sexy didn’t quite play for me: the show seems to be pro-Einstein, with the tone coming across that every woman should be so lucky to have Einstein’s interest. However, we have a great introduction to Mileva Maric (played by Samantha Colley), who will become Einstein’s first wife.

The episode ends on a great place, and I definitely am interested to see more. The first episode of Genius aired tonight, and the series continues on Tuesdays on National Geographic. For more information about the show, visit the official website.

 

You can see more of Angie’s work (and her social media connections) over at her website.




G33K Out: 2014 LA Festival of Books: Stephen Tobolowsky

Episode 23: 2014 LA Festival of Books: Stephen Tobolowsky

“Hey: it’s that one guy!”

It’s the cry of many a character actor (so much so that it’s got its own page on TV Tropes, and for actor Stephen Tobolowsky, that’s fine with him. Appearing in over 200 films and/or television episodes, you may know him as the insurance salesman in Groundhog Day, the substitute teacher Sandy Ryerson in Glee, or from any number of various roles. For me, the role that moved him from ‘it’s that one guy’ to knowing his name was as a guest star on The Lone Gunmen, the short-lived sequel series to The X-Files.

His experiences in television, film and theater are varied, and he has a wide range of stories about those experiences. Back in 2005, he and his stories became the subject of Stephen Tobolowsky’s Birthday Party, a movie whereby he captivates his friends and family (and the audience) with these stories of his life. This film led to the podcast The Tobolowsky Files, which I’ve recommended both back in 2011 and again in February of this year.

In 2014, I had the chance to interview him. He was going to be at that year’s LA Festival of Books, promoting his book The Dangerous Animals Club, which is a series of some of those tales. He’s coming back to this year’s LA Festival of Books, promoting his newest book, My Adventures with God, and so I thought it was a great chance to bring this interview out from storage.

Basic show notes:

And now, it’s time to geek out.

You can see more of Angie’s work (and her social media connections) over at her website.




Documentary THE MARS GENERATION Coming to Netflix May 5

{Header image used courtesy Netflix.}

On March 30, Netflix dropped the trailer for The Mars Generation.

https://youtu.be/q2FEblUV-o4

The documentary, produced by Netflix and Time, follows the potential journey to Mars through a group of young trainees at the U.S. Space & Rocket Centers. Filled with interviews with such people as Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Elon Musk, and others, the film shows the modern space race from both the private and the public sectors.

The Netflix site states, “The Mars Generation provides insight into the historical, philosophical, and technological implications of becoming a multi-planetary species and reveals that Mars is closer than you think.”

The movie will stream starting May 5. For more information, visit Netflix.

You can see more of Angie’s work (and her social media connections) over at her website.




WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE Book Title & Release Date Announced

In early March, the folks behind the popular podcast Welcome to Night Vale announced that they would be releasing another book. This was teased back in January 2016.

https://twitter.com/NightValeRadio/status/285419692582121472

The team already has one fiction book, Welcome to Night Vale, which hit #4 on The New York Times Best Seller list. They also have available two books that consist of episode scripts and extra goodies about the making of the podcast.

It Devours! looks to be another foray into the fictional side of the world of Night Vale. According to their website, it’s “a mystery exploring the intersections of faith and science, the growing relationship between two young people who want desperately to trust each other, and the terrifying, toothy power of the Smiling God.”

The podcast, which passed 100 episodes last December with a special episode, is still going on strong, and the team is currently touring another live show, “All Hail”. They’ve also been busy with the other podcasts on their network, with Alice Isn’t Dead just starting the second chapter.

It Devours! goes on sale October 17 in hardcover, ebook, CD, and audio, and is currently available for pre-order on their website.

You can see more of Angie’s work (and her social media connections) over at her website.




G33K Out: The 2017 Writers of the Future Awards

{Note: all photos by Angie Fiedler Sutton}

Episode 22: The 2017 Writers of the Future Awards

On April 2, I attended the 33rd annual Writers of the Future Award ceremony. With a dragon gracing the red carpet and the stage. the ceremony had a keynote from the co-founder and president of Dragon*Con Pat Henry, and presented this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award to Mike Resnick.

The 12 writers and illustrators received this year’s awards, with Jake Marley winning the Golden Pen Award for his submission “Acquisition”, and Michael Michera winning the Golden Brush Award for his illustration that went with C.L. Kagmi’s story, “The Drake Equation”.

The podcast combines some of the interviews I managed to get while attending and excerpts from the award ceremony.

Basic show notes:

  • Running time is 30 minutes, 15 seconds.
  • The main interviews were all recorded on April 2, 2017. I managed to interview the following:
  • You can view the entire Writers of the Future Award ceremony (as well as past ceremonies) on their YouTube channel.
  • For more information about the Writers of the Future Award, including ordering a copy of the 33rd annual publication, visit the official website.
  • Mid-show plug is from composer Marco Beltrami. More information on him can be found on his website.
  • Theme music is “Schoolyard Haze”, by Jari Pitkanen, available via the Free Music Archive.
  • This podcast is released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike license.
  • Interested in hearing other episodes of G33K Out? Check them out here.

And now, it’s time to geek out.

Created with flickr slideshow.

You can see more of Angie’s work (and her social media connections) over at her website.




Dragon-Themed Writers and Illustrators of the Future Award April 2

{All images courtesy Steve Moyer Public Relations and Galaxy Press.}

It’s time again for tales of dragons and spaceships. Next Sunday, April 2, are the the 33rd Annual L. Ron Hubbard Writers & Illustrators of the Future Achievement Awards.

https://youtu.be/lk8OZVU3aRk

Honoring 12 writers and illustrators for their excellence in science fiction and fantasy, the awards are presented by Galaxy Press and Author Services, Inc. Each of the writers and illustrators are quarterly winners. Additionally, there will be a grand prize winner for each: the Golden Pen Award for the Writers of the Future Contest, and the Golden Quill Award for the winner of the Illustrators of the Future Contest.

Started in 1983, the contest was created to inspire more beginning writers to help break into the industry. It was so successful that the Illustrators award was created in 1988. Each year, the winners are invited to a week-long workshop that ends in the awards ceremony, which is also where the winning entries are released into a published anthology. The success of the program is apparent: since starting, the writing winners have published 1,150 novels and 4,450 short stories, producing 32 New York Times bestsellers. Meanwhile, the illustrators have produced over 4,500 illustrations, 356 comic books, and produced visually to 36 television shows and 46 movies.

Writers and Illustrator of the Future Awards trophies.

The event this year is themed ‘medieval fantasy’, and as such there will be a 12-foot long dragon head included in the red carpet. Dress code is listed as black tie-optional or medieval fantasy formal. The keynote speaker this year will be Pat Henry, the president and co-founder of Dragon*Con, Pat Henry. The awards will also have performances from EMCirque, and will also have artists Rob Prior and Larry Elmore create a painting from scratch. Finally, this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to author Mike Resnick, author of 62 novels and over 250 short stories, and editor of over 40 anthologies.

If you’re in the Los Angeles area, the event is free and open to the public. It will be at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, and doors open at 5:30 pm, with the event starting at 6:30 pm. Following the show, there will be a book signing by the winning writers and illustrators.

The event will once again be livestreamed on the Writers of the Future website, starting at 6:30 pm PST. (Prior award ceremonies are available to view on the Writers of the Future YouTube channel.

For more information about the awards, and to RSVP if you want to attend, visit the Writers of the Future Award website.

You can see more of Angie’s work (and her social media connections) over at her website.




DOCTOR WHO Series 10 Premiere in Cinemas

{All images used courtesy BBC America.}

It’s time to meet the new companion. The 10th season of Doctor Who will be premiering on BBC America on April 15. In celebration of the Time Lord gracing our screens once more, Fathom Events will be screening the episode in cinemas on April 17 and 19.

https://youtu.be/1Tb3LzU0IA8

This will will be Peter Capaldi’s last series as the Doctor, as well as the last with Steven Moffat as showrunner. As fans know, Chris Chibnall will be taking over for the show for the 11th series. Chibnall is no stranger to Who: he wrote several episodes of the series between series 3 and 7 and was the head writer of Torchwood for series 1 and 2. Chibnall is still searching for Capaldi’s successor.

As for the series 10 premiere, we’ll also see the return of Matt Lucas as Nardole, as well as the first appearance of the new companion, Bill (Pearl Mackie). We know very little of the new companion, although there are some hints in the trailer. (I personally see more than a casual similarity to Classic Who companion Ace.)

But have no fear: if you attend the Fathom Event screening, there are some special features. One is the feature Becoming the Companion, which follows Mackie from the London stage through the TARDIS, and includes exclusive interviews with Mackie, Capaldi, and Moffat.

Are we ready to go to Class?

Additionally, the cinema screening will also include the first episode of the new spinoff Class, set to premiere on BBC America on April 15 as well. This first episode includes a guest appearance as Capaldi as the Doctor. Class, for those who aren’t familiar, focuses on five students at the somewhat infamous Coal Hill Academy. The show premiered on BBC in December of 2016, and the tone is somewhat between the kid-friendly Sarah Jane Adventures and the more adult Torchwood.

If you buy the tickets through Atom Tickets, you will receive three free Doctor Who digital comic books from Titan Comics and ComiXology, delivered to purchasing e-mail address on event date. For more information, including a list of theaters, visit the Fathom Events website.

 

You can see more of Angie’s work (and her social media connections) over at her website.




RiffTrax Live’s Next Show — SAMURAI COP — in April

{Header image used courtesy Fathom Events.}

No, it’s not a cop who’s also a samurai, but actually a cop NAMED Samurai (Mathew Karedas) — well, nicknamed it, anyway. He and his truly epic hair have come to the City of Angels to fight the Katana, a gang interested in leading the drug trade.

https://youtu.be/hqGwEC_7L0s

Bad fight scenes, camera mugging, and more are just a hint of why the crew of RiffTrax decided to make this their first live event for 2017.

“It’s hard to say exactly what makes Samurai Cop a favorite to us and our audience,” said Michael J. Nelson in the press release. “Maybe the fact that the title character is not a samurai — not even a little. It could also be the terrible black wig he wears for half the scenes in the movie and tries to pass off as real hair. Whatever the reason it must be seen to be believed.”

Samurai Cop is the 24th time RiffTrax has partnered with Fathom Events to share the live event in cinema screens across the nation. It will be broadcast live on April 13, with a rebroadcast on April 18. The crew currently has two more shows planned for 2017: a Summer Shorts Beach Party on June 15, and a’super secret mystery title’ scheduled for August 17 that will be determined once their current Kickstarter ends (scheduled to end in three days as of the time of this article).

For tickets and a list of participating theatres, visit the Fathom Events website.

 

You can see more of Angie’s work (and her social media connections) over at her website.




G33K Out: LOGAN Composer Marco Beltrami

[Header photo courtesy Marco Beltrami’s Facebook page.]

Episode 21: Logan Composer Marco Beltrami

Marco Beltrami is no stranger to composing movies in the sci fi and superhero world. His first major breakthrough was doing the score for Wes Craven’s Scream, and you may recognize his music from such genre favorites as Hellboy, Mimic, The Faculty, and even worked with Philip Glass for the 2015 version of Fantastic Four. He’s been nominated for an Oscar for his scores for both 3:10 to Yuma and The Hurt Locker.

In early March, I had the opportunity to interview him over the phone about his latest project Logan, the latest — and possibly last — Wolverine movie starring Hugh Jackman.

Basic show notes:

  • Running time is 16 minutes, 55 seconds.
  • The main interview was recorded on March 8, 2017.
  • For more information about Marco Beltrami, visit his website.
  • Logan opened March 3, and the soundtrack is available to stream via Spotify (see playlist below).
  • Mid-show plug is from playwright Pete Bakely. who I not only wrote a spotlight on, but who was also a guest on my other podcast, Stage Savvy.
  • Theme music is “Schoolyard Haze”, by Jari Pitkanen, available via the Free Music Archive.
  • This podcast is released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike license.
  • Interested in hearing other episodes of G33K Out? Check them out here.

And now, time to geek out.

 

You can see more of Angie’s work (and her social media connections) over at her website.




A New(ish) John Williams CD Release

{Header image used courtesy Sony Classical.}

If there’s one partnership that every geek is a fan of, it’s probably the one between director Steven Spielberg and composer John Williams. According to this list on Wikipedia, the two have partnered 28 times and counting. In fact, all but two of Spielberg’s films have had a score by Williams. Additionally, Williams has a record 50 nominations from the Academy Awards for his composing, 15 of which are for scores from films directed by Spielberg.

On March 17, Sony Classical will be releasing a new compilation set. John Williams & Steven Spielberg: The Ultimate Collection is a three-CD set with a bonus DVD.

The first two CDs are a repeat of previous releases: one of them The Spielberg/Williams Collaboration from 1991 and the other Williams on Williams: The Classic Spielberg Scores from 1995. Both CDs were recorded with the Boston Pops Orchestra and include music from everything from their first collaboration, Sugarland Express in 1974, to Jurassic Park in 1993.

Image courtesy Amazon.com.

“I was very happy with the fact that when I was music director of Boston Pops, we were able to record a lot of the music that I’d written for Steven’s films,” Williams says in the press release about these two. “So I said to him, ‘Steven, wouldn’t it be great if we could complete the Sony collection and put in all the things that we didn’t have when the last disc was recorded, this time with our great orchestra here in Los Angeles?’  To which Steven responded, ‘This is a great idea. Let’s do it!'”

The third CD was recorded in 2016, and features the first release of brand new recordings from some of Spielberg’s later movies, including Lincoln, The BFG, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and more.

The DVD is a copy of the new documentary Steven Spielberg & John Williams: The Adventure Continues. Directed by Laurent Bouzereau, a film historian who’s been covering Spielberg’s work for over 20 years.

You can pre-order the set over at Amazon.com, and hear “Marion’s Theme from Raiders of the Lost Ark” and see an excerpt from the documentary over at The Hollywood Reporter‘s article on the release.

 

You can see more of Angie’s work (and her social media connections) over at her website.




MST3K to Partner with Dark Horse Comics

{Header image used courtesy MST3K’s Facebook page.}

As you are no doubt aware, cult classic Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K for short) is back. After an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign, show creator Joel Hodgson has wrangled a new cast (including Jonah Ray, Felicia Day, Patton Oswalt, among others) and secured the show to broadcast on Netflix starting April 14.

The cast of the rebooted ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’. Photo courtesy the MST3K website.

Well, into every new show, a little transmedia must fall. In February, Dark Horse Comics announced that they would be partnering with the rebooted show for a new comic series, and various related products. “I first encountered the show in 1992,” says Dark Horse’s vice president of publishing Randy Stradley in the announcement, “and immediately fell in love with both the concept and the characters. I began inquiring about the license in 1993, and now — a mere 24 years later — we have Comics Sign!”

Stay tuned to Dark Horse Comics for more information about that partnership, and check out MST3K’s official site for more information about the show.

 

You can see more of Angie’s work (and her social media connections) over at her website.




BBC iPlayer Goes Vegan with Futuristic ‘Carnage’

{All images used courtesy BBC.}

When we look back at some of the cultural norms of the day, most of us shake our head and think, “How could people think that way?” For vegetarians and vegans, they believe that society will soon feel the same way about eating meat.

British comedian Simon Amstell (former host of Never Mind the Buzzcocks) has developed a feature-length film that is set in the year 2067, and is a comedic take on the concept. The concept is that in this far off time, the youth have to deal with the horror that the older generation willingly killed animals to eat. It’s a comedic take on the topic, and combines archive footage with original drama.

Simon Amstell

According to the press release from the BBC, the film was commissioned last year by Victoria Jay, head of content for the BBC iPlayer. “In a culture obsessed by what’s on our plates,” Jay states in the release,”Simon Amstell’s film Carnage imaginatively challenges our attitude towards eating meat, fish and cheese triangles. Prepare to never look at your dinner the same way again.”

The film will star Martin Freeman, Joanna Lumley, Dame Eileen Atkins, Lindsay Duncan, Alex Lawther, Gemma Jones, Linda Basset, Mawaan Rizwan and John Macmillan.

BBC Studios, the company behind Carnage, is set to become a wholly-owned subsidiary in April, with the goal of having programs specific to the iPlayer as well as other broadcasters and customers. It will release on the iPlayer on March 19.

 

You can see more of Angie’s work (and her social media connections) over at her website.




G33K Out: WonderCon 2016 – Streaming Success Panel

[All photos courtesy CW3 Public Relations.]

Episode 20: Wondercon 2016 – Streaming Panel

In my last G33K Out podcast, I brought out my interviews from one of the panels at WonderCon 2016, “High Scorers Panel: Star Composers of the Video Game World”. While at the press room for that, I also had the chance to talk with some of the people at another panel, “Streaming Success: Behind-the-Scenes of Your Favorite Binge Worthy Shows”.

The panel discussed the original content of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, and some of the people that work on the various shows produced by them. My associate Hope Donoghue and I first talked to James (“Jimmy”) Levine and Sean Callery, composers of American Horror Story and Marvel’s Jessica Jones respectively. Since it was with the High Scorers Panel, I first assumed they were on that panel and asked about their work composing for video games. We then talked to David Van Dyke, VFX producer and (at the time) vice president of Shade VFX (he’s now president), where he’s worked on a variety of genre media, but most notably Marvel’s Daredevil.

As with the last interview, due to the press set up, any time I talked, the mic was not in front of me most of the time.

Basic show notes:

  • Running time is 23 minutes.
  • The main interview was recorded on March 25, 2016.
  • To see all of our coverage of WonderCon 2016, visit this link.
  • Mid-show plug is from Jimmy Matlosz, cinematographer and guest on episode.
  • Theme music is “Schoolyard Haze”, by Jari Pitkanen, available via the Free Music Archive.
  • This podcast is released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike license.
  • Interested in hearing other episodes of G33K Out? Check them out here.

And now, time to geek out.

You can see more of Angie’s work (and her social media connections) over at her website.




Movie Review: DREAMING PURPLE NEON is Delightfully Awful

{Header photo used courtesy the Dreaming Purple Neon Facebook page.}

Dreaming Purple Neon
Written and directed by Todd Sheets
Produced by Extreme Entertainment
Copyright 2016

This post was also published on Angie’s website, Contents May Vary

First off, a full disclosure: I am good friends with one of the film’s stars, Jack McCord. I’ve directed him, worked with him as an actor, and even interviewed him back in 2011 when I was volunteering for KC Stage Magazine. So, I attended this Los Angeles premiere of Dreaming Purple Neon more to support him and less as an unbiased critic. And I admit: part of the fun of watching this film was reminiscing on all the Kansas City-based locations that were used in the production of this. It was like going back without the hassle of flying.

So, with that in mind, I really didn’t know what to expect from the movie before seeing it. When writer/director Todd Sheets introduced the film, he talked about how this was a callback and an homage to the types of horror movies you got in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Lots of gore, little plot, and buckets of fun.

https://vimeo.com/168604581

The plot, such as it is, follows two storylines. On one, we have Catriona (Millie Milan), working for two gangsters – Tyrone (Ricky Farr) and Ray (Antwoine Steele), who come straight out of Blaxploitation films. After seeing them kill someone, she takes their drugs (the ‘dreaming purple neon’ of the title) and their guns and goes to visit her friend Denise (Eli DeGeer), who’s interning with a dentist (Nick Randol), to figure out what to do. The second plotline involves the owner of the building Denise works at, Cyrus (Jack McCord), who is delving into something dark. Denise’s ex, Dallas (Jeremy Edwards) is also back in town, trying to make things work. Of course, all of these plots come together in a way that is only possible in a horror film.

With shoutouts to Evil Dead and similar movies, Dreaming Purple Neon is right up there with Troma movies on the ‘hilariously bad’ front. From decisions that make no sense to effects that are special in all the wrong ways, once it gets underway, I couldn’t help but enjoy the movie. The acting is over the top, but at just the right level of campiness. It crosses the line twice, coming right back to bite you in your privates, and uses every horror trope in the book in a delightfully fun way. Once I sat back and acknowledged the inherent silliness of the plot, the film was a delightful (and somewhat needed) distraction from the real world.

Cast and crew of ‘Dreaming Purple Neon’. Photo by Angie Fiedler Sutton.

But head’s up: this one is definitely for adults only, as there’s more nudity than you can shake a … well, you get the idea. There’s also some sexual violence on both genders, and so much swearing, Samuel L. Jackson would blush.

The film is set for theatrical distribution in the summer of 2017. More information can be found a the official website.

 

You can see more of Angie’s work (and her social media connections) over at her website.

 




MAN AT ARMS Coming to the El Rey Network

{All images used courtesy the Sword and the Stone Facebook page.}

Are you a fan of the weapons you see in fantasy movies and in video games? Wish you could see a real working version of the Keyblade from Kingdom Hearts or Wolverine’s claws from X-Men? Then you may have come across the web series Man at Arms.

Hosted by master blacksmith Tony Swatton, founder of Sword and the Stone shop in Burbank, the series started in 2013, and was a weekly show with Swatton forging various fictional weapons – and then testing them in the real world. It has been immensely popular, with the channel having over 5 million subscribers with an average 1.5 million views per episode.

Some of the weapons from the Sword and the Stone shop.

On January 13, the El Rey Network (also home to From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series) announced that they are partnering with DEFY Media to bring the series to their network. The order is for eight one-hour episodes, and will be the same format as the web series.

The general manager Daniel Tibbets, in the press release, noted that the move (alongside another unscripted show, Rite of Passage) is geared toward their audience. “As we expand our slate of original programming,” Tibbets stated in the press release, “we are looking for series that are reflective of the interests, hobbies, and lives of our audience.”

The show will premiere in the first half of 2017. For more information on the current series, you can either visit the AWE Me YouTube channel or visit the Sword and the Stone’s website.

 

You can see more of Angie’s work (and her social media connections) over at her website.