Friday, December 2, 2016

April Flowers (2017) Movie Review A Dan's Movie Report Exclusive!

Above photo: poster from IMDB

Greetings valued Dan's Movie Report readers, the action train, swerves to romantic comedy with a thoughtful film called 'April Flowers'. Director/Writer Christopher Tedrick has created a subtle, yet vibrant film, full of allegory and heart. Special thanks to the production staff at 'April Flowers' for allowing me this early review.

Actress Celina Jade, has been featured on my site several times, including this interview , and is well known in the action world, for Arrow and now with the upcoming new film with Wu Jing. 'April Flowers' will open up a new audience to her work. Celina embodies the heart and soul of the character 'April' her search for love against a backdrop of situations that arise, with each one presenting unique challenges.

Perhaps my favorite scene in the entire film is when April meets an old man on a park bench who asks her to place a stone with a name near a lake. He proclaims that now that he is older he has no relatives or friends alive and puts names of prominent people. The takeaway is that the people are never really gone, as their memories live on inside.

April searches throughout the movie to return a journal that was written, to find the owner. Interpreting the journal as an allegorical object, the unattainable goal. Just because words are written, does not mean that person is your soul mate.

The use of future and past projection in time is prevalent in 'April Flowers'. We see April in a diner imagining what a couple in the 50s would have looked like, in courting rituals, perspicacious, and clever. On a train, we see the older April, in a cool cameo played by Daredevil actress Wai Chin Ho, again, great casting. The use of this type of time connection enhances the film, by broadening the scope.

John Fletcher's Jared character is flawed an quirky, a way that makes it believable. His awkwardness, and yet subtle character portrayal is proof that 'April Flowers' is a well directed film as well as written.

Overall, everyone in 'April Flowers' were obviously in tune with the story, subtle humor, as in Celina Jade saying she hates falling, hah, 'well not in action films'. This is a great indie film and a fine example how a crowd funding film can have an impact. This is a must own when it comes out 8 out of 10.

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Ann Truong Interview (C) 2016 Dan's Movie Report EXCLUSIVE! HARD TARGET 2 Chat!

After watching Ann Truong in the new Scott Adkins film Hard Target 2, I wanted to learn more about her. Fast forward a couple of months we started chatting and, here it is, an exclusive 2,000 word interview to delve deep into her work on 'Hard Target 2',  her extensive action training, and future plans. Ann is an honorable lady, striving for the betterment of herself and others, grab some tea and read on.
Chat about your childhood, was there a moment in time that you remember that made you want to act? Same question for martial arts?

Growing up, I never considered being an actor – only because the thought never crossed my mind. I didn’t see actors as real people, they were people that existed on the TV screens and magazines. As a kid, I was tossing up between becoming a painter/illustrator, a singer/songwriter, or an Olympic runner - it was quite a dilemma I had. But looking back, all the pieces were there. I loved art, I loved self-expression, I loved sports.
I’ve especially always loved martial arts, and loved watching martial arts movies. I would beg my parents for martial arts lessons but my family thought I had too much spirit and feist (for a girl) already so I was never given lessons. When I started earning my own money as a late teen, the first thing I did was put myself through classes. I started with Boxing at an MMA gym.

What are some of the styles of Martial Arts you practice and train in? Currently what is your average week training regimen consist of?

Over the years, I’ve trained Boxing, Muay Thai, Circus – specializing in the Chinese Pole and Adagio, and dabbled in Arnis. My training regimen changes depending on what I’m working on at the time. Currently, I have a personal Muay Thai coach. We train a few times a week and, outside that, I run outdoors. 

I know you told me you are based in Australia, how are the opportunities there to live and work in the acting field?
I have an amazing team. My agents are based in Melbourne and my manager is based in LA. They work unbelievably hard and I’ve had some amazing opportunities. I have to admit though, I get more opportunities overseas than I do in Australia.

Would you ever want to move to the U.S. to live, or only if you were on a steady network show?

I would definitely consider living in the U.S. But at this stage, yes, I’d only move if I had a job there. I don’t think you need to be living in the states to be working. Most U.S. productions I’ve auditioned for recently are to film internationally. I’ve worked on two U.S. productions to date, and one was filmed in Thailand and the other, in Australia. So let’s see where I end up J

Saw you did a romantic style film called Never Forget, do you like that genre or is it on a case by case basis?

Never Forget is a story about a girl rediscovering her roots, more than it was a romantic film. But the cinematography and storytelling was definitely romantic in style. To be honest, I love all genres. If the character resonates, if the story speaks to me, if it’ll be fun, if it’ll be challenging, if I’ll grow, if the project has heart, I’ll do it. 

Chat about the audition process if there was one for Hard Target 2?
Initially, I actually auditioned for the role of Sofia. A week or two later, my agents rang to say that Roel had seen my tape and wanted to see me for Tha. New sides were sent and I quickly put the tape down. A few days later my agents rang again to say that Roel was flying to Sydney and would like to meet me. So I flew up to Sydney and did a call back audition in the room with him. I loved his energy in the room and his approach to the audition process. We just played with different possibilities. He did a little exercise in the room that was interesting and I enjoyed. The camera was on my eyes, and I was to not move my body, he talked me through a whole series of scenarios, and watched my eyes.  

Chat about filming in Thailand looked hot and sweaty, share a story from the production.

Filming in Thailand was definitely hot and sweaty! There was a scene I did with Peter Hardy, who played the Texan hunter, that I think epitomises the hot and sweat of the shoot. There was a scene where he was on top of me and I was struggling underneath…The sweat from his forehead dripped into my mouth during the scene. For each subsequent take, I would (kindly) ask Peter and make up to wipe his sweat off his forehead just before action. But as soon as the sweat was wiped off, action was called, I could see the beads of sweat forming again on his forehead and back in my mouth it went.

Chat about working with Scott Adkins, and some of the moments of dialogue, did you learn technique from him?

As all fans of Scott knows, he is amazing at what he does. I loved watching his stunt work on set. And he’s a great guy to back it up with. Something he said to me over lunch that kinda stuck… This is not verbatim by the way… so don’t quote me quoting him… He said that the one thing he regretted in his career was to not have the self-belief earlier on, the belief that he could be on the same level as Tom Cruise or Matt Damon. It was only the day that he believed it, that things started happening. And I agree with him. You’ve got to have the self-trust and self-belief (without the ego of course).
Talk about the action training you had for Hard Target 2, any new moves learned?
I trained with the stunt team for a week before shoot. I loved training in the humidity and focusing on nothing else for the day. My love of Muay Thai, and my focus on the style now, grew from my time in Thailand.
I learned lots of new moves… but I think maybe the most valuable was learning about the physics of how one’s body reacts to a certain blow. This was my first action movie, so I’d never learnt to take a hit on screen before. When I watch fight scenes now, I have such an appreciation for the ‘loser’ of the fight. The amazing fight sequence wouldn’t be so spectacular without the ‘loser’s reactions to sell it.

Have to ask about the fight with Rhona Mitra, she was pretty built muscle wise, looks like it was a tussle. Perhaps share a story from the training and one from the filming day of the action.

Haha… it did look like a tussle. I have to admit though, the fight itself wasn’t too much of a tussle to actually do. Everything was very controlled, we were very safe, we’d rehearsed, everyone knew what they were doing, Seng (the stunt choreographer) was on set the whole time. And as mentioned before, it’s all the reactions that sell it. Rhona did jump the carriages in heels at one point, and I was very impressed by her finesse there.
The biggest struggle on the day for me was that I had come down with a massive fever the night before. I had no voice on set that day, my head was congested, and my body was aching and could barely hold itself up. Till this day, if something ever feels a little hard, I remember the will to get through that day and anything seems possible. So I’m grateful for that experience. 

Watching the completed film, are you overly critical of your work? Did you like the film?
No, I’m not overly critical. I try not to be anyway. I try to only be critical of my work to the extent that I can grow from it. I know I worked hard and gave my best at the time, so I can’t regret what comes out of that.
I did enjoy the film! I really liked it. It’s an escapist, fun, action packed film. The hour and 45 minutes flew by.

Can you chat about new projects in 2017 you are working on?

All I know is that 2017 will be an interesting year. Exciting times ahead!

What are some of your long term goals in the acting realm? Ever want to go behind the camera?

I just want to keep growing as an artist. I want to keep getting better. I’ve grown so much in the past 5 years, and it really excites me to know that in 5 years time, I will have grown that much again - if not more. I live in the moment and don’t think about the future too much. I barely think two days ahead. I allow for change and opportunities to take me places I never would’ve thought of. I just keep working on my craft, I make sure I’m doing what I love every day, and trust that that means I’m growing.  And I trust that the work will show, and the right projects will line up at the right time.
I do want to get behind the camera as well. I write a lot in my down time, and I’ve recently started producing. I’d love to direct too. I like creating work, I love exploring ideas, I like working on the macro and micro levels of production. To me, I think it’s about the chase of or finding of the authenticity and truth in the work that excites me.

Do you have a motto, words to live by? Perhaps some final advice for young people wanting to get into acting?

Just put your head down and do the work. Don’t worry about other people. Don’t compare yourself to other people. Trust yourself and trust that you are enough.

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