The Man with the Iron Fists- A Film by the RZA

The Man with the Iron Fists

By Jeffrey Preis

The RZA has done it again, this time stepping away from the music scene and, for the first time, directing and acting in The Man with the Iron Fists, a movie which he and seasoned director/producer, Eli Roth wrote the screenplay for.

This movie, which encapsulates the martial mentality for which The RZA is known, was shot on location in Shanghai, China and has an all-star cast including Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu and Rick Yune. This movie has been a work in progress for the Wu-Tang Clan front man, seemingly a project that began during his youth when he saw Rambo—the coolest movie he saw as a child. He knew, though, that he had to make something “even cooler.” The action is over the top, the music is engaging and the movie, as The RZA says, is fun: “the most important thing to get from a movie theater experience is fun. I put a lot of fun into this movie.”

The Godfather of action movies, Quentin Tarantino, presents The Man with the Iron Fists, the movie which puts the ‘F’ and ‘U’ in Kung Fu. For years now, The RZA and Tarantino have long been chums. Tarantino is not only a close friend of RZA’s, but a teacher and mentor to this fresh filmmaker. “If I were to belong to a kung fu school, I’d belong to the school of Tarantino,” said The RZA affectionately. Together, the two have traveled the world visiting film festivals, and spent time in Tarantino’s personal theater viewing old movies that, withouth him, The RZA would never know.

All of these efforts were a culmination of what made this movie a nearly 30+ year work in progress. From a young age, Asian culture inspired RZA. And as he said, kung fu is Asian culture; they preserved it. He was able to learn something from watching Kung Fu movies, something he said American movies never touched on—brotherhood, loyalty and sacrifice.

Iron Fists was a collaborative effort of all things inspiring to The RZA’s life. From ‘The Art of War’ to Bruce Lee, to traces of ODB, this movie is his greatest piece of work to date. Filmmaking is a new passion for this tremendous talent and it’s only the beginning. Above all, he’s an artist first, he says of himself.

The Man with the Iron Fists is in theaters this Friday, November 2.
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Agyness Deyn: from catwalk to cinema

Pusher

The film “PUSHER” (opening today) follows the dysfunctional life of drug dealer Richard Coyle who is reduced to desperate measures in order to fix a drug deal gone bad. The film, based on the 1996 cult classic series by director Nicolas Winding Refn, has been updated with style and a very impressive leading lady: Supermodel Agyness Deyn. Deyn’s character, Flo, is heroine addict and exotic dancer — a far cry from the role of fresh-faced model who graces Vogue covers and the most in-demand catwalks in the world. In fact, Deyn has been considered the new fashion “it” girl for some time, which made her transition into film one met with some skepticism. But Deyn seems to be gifted with more than just killer looks. Her foray into acting has proven to be an impressive one — with PUSHER being her first lead and significant role, and a well-played one at that.

Eidé Magazine caught up with the talented beauty in an exclusive interview about PUSHER, her modeling career and more.

Eidé: So when you first got the script for PUSHER, had you seen the 1996 cult classic version?
Agyness Deyn: I hadn’t seen it, but then someone gave it to me to watch, and when I did, I was very interested.

Eidé: I heard that when auditioning for this role, the director didn’t know you were a supermodel with little acting experience, and chose you out of all your contenders. Impressive.
Agyness Deyn: Yeah, it was really amazing. I was flattered, really. It felt so good.

Eidé: What did you do to prepare for this role?
Agyness Deyn: I spent time learning with a real stripper for my role. No, really! I learned what her life is like, and how working is for her.

Eidé: Were there any aspects of your character you could relate to?
Agyness Deyn: Yeah, I think there are parts of every role and character that you can relate to if you understand.

Eidé: What was the most enjoyable part about working on this film for you?
Agyness Deyn: Just working with everyone, and being on the set. Sometimes we would film for really long hours and I just loved it.

Eidé: Did your knowledge of modeling and body placement and positioning with light in front of a camera make it easier for you to do a motion picture role.
Agyness Deyn: Yeah, I think it helped. I have spent years in front of a camera, so it’s a place I feel very comfortable with.

Eidé: So are you really done with modeling?
Agness Deyn: Never say never (laughing). But I haven’t done a lot of modeling in a while because I am already working on new films. Since I am doing more acting, that doesn’t really leave any time for modeling.

The Zombie Apocalypse

The apocalypse is nigh! The zombie apocalypse, that is. With the advent of the third season of AMC’s The Walking Dead, zombie culture has taken over. Many people are taking part of this zombie movement—from indie to mainstream, the undead are ubiquitous. Bands like Atlanta’s Amsterdam Station are jamming to—and killing— Zombies (see video below), and even 5K races are joining in on the fun. The Run For Your Lives is a 5K obstacle race where you not only run against the clock, but from the “brain-hungry, virus-spreading zombies.” Zombies are inescapable now, and in the wake of All Hallow’s Eve, one must fear for his life—happy survival!

Jeffrey Preis

Holiday Greetings from the Humane Society

It’s nearing that time to send out holiday cards and what better way to do that than with cards adorned with the cute animals we all love. The Humane Society of the United States is offering the largest collection of animal-themed cards this holiday season. Any and all types of cards are available for humorous to traditional, and this year you can even personalize your cards.

This year the 2012 HSUS ornament features a chimpanzee hanging from a tree with “Celebrating Animals, Confronting Cruelty” emblemized on the ornament. For decades now, chimpanzees have been confined in research labs—this is the Humane Society’s attempt to shine awareness on the cruelty inflicted on our close human cousins.

Humane Society

And the Winner of Project Runway Is…

Last night was the season finale of Lifetime’s hit show, Project Runway. The tenth season ended and announced Dmitry Sholokhov as the winner. Zehnder Communications created this infographic “The State of the Listen” for the tenth season of Project Runway. It illustrates the words most mentioned throughout the season—“drama” and “bitch” being the top two most used—and lists the top 10 designers and guest judges, the “top talk” of the finale and more. Check out the infographic to see the highlights of the entire season.

 

Project Runway 2012

Cirque du Soleil Returns to Atlanta with TOTEM

By Jaime Lin Weinstein

Cirque du Soleil TOTEMIf you’ve been near Atlantic Station in Atlanta, Ga., since Saturday you’ve likely caught a glimpse of the now infamous blue and yellow ‘Grand Chapiteau,’ otherwise known as Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Village on Wheels’ — a somewhat familiar sight that has now graced our city a total of 11 times. This season, the site (which seats 2,600 under its 11,500 pounds of canvas) will be the stage for TOTEM, one of the latest touring shows produced by the Canadian entertainment company and brought to fruition by Writer/Director Robert Lepage and Artistic Director Tim Smith.

TOTEM, which premieres in Atlanta on Oct. 26, “traces the fascinating journey of the human species from its original amphibian state to its ultimate desire to fly,” and it does so in a way that only Cirque du Soleil can, through a visual, musical and acrobatic language that seems to exceed the limits of our human capabilities. The main set itself — a large, elaborate framework designed in the likes of a giant turtle (an amphibian that represents the origin of the earth in many ancient myths and oral traditions) – serves as both a decorative set element and acrobatic equipment upon which ‘amphibians’ perform on parallel bars and leap through the air from power tracks that are revealed beneath the turtle’s massive shell.

TOTEM

And while Cirque shows have the magnificent ability to transport viewers to the fantasy worlds they create, TOTEM’s world is very much based on nature and the reality of our own planet. Images of our natural world, such as waterfalls, swamps, boiling lava and a starry sky, are projected on the set and even interact with the artists on stage. Infrared cameras are positioned around the set to detect the movement of the actors and produce effects such as ripples, splashes and reflections in the water and the flames. The costume designs are also rooted in reality. The patterns and colors of real fish and frogs are replicated on the fabrics through advanced printing techniques and fabric treatments in order to mimic the textures, as well as the colors and markings of these real-life creatures. Even the music (arranged by Charles Dennard, a native of Macon, Ga.) aims to reflect the primal theme of the production with profound elements from Native American music.

TOTEM Roller Skates

TOTEM’s “sky’s the limit” approach, as described by Mr. Smith in reference to the show’s state-of-the-art technology and intricate composition of acts, music, costumes and sets, is analogously what the show hopes to evoke: the evolution of mankind and the infinite potential of human beings.

TOTEM Evolution

Cirque du Soleil’s TOTEM will run from Oct. 26 through Dec. 16 with evening and matinee performances. Tickets are available for purchase online at http://cirquedusoleil.com/totem. And don’t be late — Smith says the opening is one of his favorite acts calling it, “unusually beautiful and exciting, intricate and deep.”

Fey & Poehler to Host Golden Globes Together

The two comedy queens of NBC, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, will both host the Golden Globes on January 13, 2013. This will be the first Golden Globes hosted by two women.

The two have a long-standing history together—long before their days on Saturday Night Live the duo performed together in the mid ‘90s at a Chicago improvisational theater act, Second City.

The past three Golden Globes have been hosted by British Comedian Ricky Gervais. Gervais decided to pass the torch to Fey and Poehler and said “Good luck to Tina Fey and Amy Poehler at the Golden Globes. After failing three years in a row to make E! Channel’s Best Dressed list, I decided to hand over the reins. Let me know if you run out of Scientology gags.”

Fey and Poehler both have hit shows on NBC right now, 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation, respectively. With their past performances and impeccable comedic timing, the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards will surely be one to not miss.

Check out a clip of the two interviewing each other for their movie together, Baby Mama.

Be the First to Bike Down Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro

Trek Travel and WorldServe teamed up to organize the first-ever bike trek down Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest peak on the African continent. This 12-day adventure is open to 20 cyclists where the guests will sponsor one of the largest environmental clean-up efforts to date. This humanitarian trek is a fundraiser with the goal of bringing clean water to more than 150,000 Tanzanians. In Tanzania, two out of five children do not reach the age of five due to water borne illnesses.

In addition to the trek down Mount Kilimanjaro, the guests will get to visit a Massai village and see an actual water-drilling site, and meet some of the locals who will benefit from their fundraising efforts. There will also be a hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti National Park during the Great Migration.

The trip will be lead by Tanzania Goodwill Ambassador Doug Pitt and will take place February 22-Mary 5, 2013. The trek is open to only 20 people and prices range from $25,000 to $85,000 per person. 90% of the fees will go directly to the WorldServe water projects.

2012 CounterPoint Music + Arts Festival

CounterPoint Balloon

Two weekends ago on a sprawling horse farm outside Atlanta, tens of thousands of teenage and 20-something ravers gathered for the inaugural CounterPoint Music Fest. For a three-day festival boasting the biggest names in popular contemporary electronic music you’d be hard-pressed to find much news about it in the city—our proudly rock-centric scene pretended nothing of interest was going on the last weekend in September—and the folks aware of CounterPoint had nothing in the way of specifics about what, exactly, was going on down there. And nobody knew where the damn thing was being held in the first place.

First year fests are prone to logistical and infrastructure issues, and CounterPoint was hobbled, but thankfully not defeated, by both. An intense thunderstorm Friday afternoon temporarily closed the festival grounds, throwing off set times and causing some acts to cancel. This explained the unexpected traffic I encountered on my arrival, having skipped Thursday’s weak jamband-ish line up in favor of the weekend’s heavy hitters. Traffic gave me time to admire the Georgia countryside and creeping autumnal tones of the trees—CounterPoint’s producers did an excellent job with the location, a pleasant 40-minute drive southwest of the city. While waiting to enter the parking lot, the festival’s twitter informed me that I was missing indie favorite Washed Out, who didn’t have to delay his set after all. I felt like I was going to summer camp.

Getting searched took some time as the parking lot entrances appeared understaffed but when I finally parked and gathered my backpack, I stepped into thick mud. Mud and humidity were the principal annoyances of the weekend; the rolling hills made for great vantage points but sprawling mud pits webbed the lower-lying areas between concession areas and the Point and CounterPoint stages. The festival grounds formed a misshapen L, hinging at a hill topped by a lit CounterPoint sign. If substance consumption wore you out this was a great place for a nap as well as taking in the massive main-stage light shows. Across from the festival staples of amusement park rides and bizarre hippie wares, the Beat and Backbeat tents dominated the far end of the grounds with dubstep-heavy lineups for the true ravers.

The View from the Pond

The view from the pond

As mentioned above, CounterPoint swarmed with an eager, young crowd. The nebulous strains of electronic dance music (EDM) are dominating both pop and underground music at the moment, and this audience likes its beats harder and louder, its synth melodies brighter, and its light shows overwhelming. The traditional rock band dynamic has been swapped for a maximal sensory experience. You could count the number of guitarists over the weekend practically on one hand. And the bands on the bill—Toro Y Moi, Reptar, Zoogma, and Lotus, among others—effectively reproduce the sounds/textures of producers with laptops and synthesizers. For myself, it was refreshing to go to a festival that wasn’t filled with jamband noodling and retro blues revivalists.

Inside the Beat Tent

Inside the Beat Tent

The confusion over set times and cancellations allowed me to wander with no purpose other than absorbing the experience. Walking from the stages to the tents took a few minutes (my legs appreciated this after the seemingly endless walking at large festivals like Bonnaroo) and I arrived as Mimosa finished his heavy but generally nondistinct dubstep set. Plugging in laptops made for quick changes between acts, so the start of DJ trio Super Mash Bros.’ set caught me off guard. SMB blew threw a party-rocking set of electro remixes and mash-ups of popular tracks from the last two decades, the crowd jumping and waving flags in delight with each chorus they caught. The sound was straight out of every raucous party you went to in 2005.

I went back to the main stages in hopes of catching L.A. producer TokiMonsta but was pleasantly surprised when Crystal Castles came on—a group, like M83, hailing from the hipper indie rock scene. Having associated Crystal Castles with gothic 80s new wave and early 2000s trashy electroclash, it surprised me how easily they fit in with the rest of CounterPoint. The heavy, stomping rave elements of their sound really stood out and was lapped up appreciatively. Unfortunately, towards the end of Crystal Castle’s set I overheard that M83 had cancelled, meaning I had to kill the time by heading back to the tents.

Did I mention I’d been looking for the press area since my arrival? Three different staff members gave me conflicting directions while security had no idea at all where it was. I stumbled onto it tucked behind the Backbeat tent between checking out interchangeable sets from Feed Me, 3lau (pronounced “Blau”), and Excision; the glaring sameness of the artists resulted from both the narrow musical scope of the sets and their seeming inability to do anything dynamic with such maximal music. Each DJ immediately began at full steam, banging away with loud, squelching bass drops and never relenting until the end. Every so often a distorted pop chorus cut through the mix. Because it was fairly hidden behind the Beat tent, the Backbeat tent was only a third full each time I passed through, so the energy of 3lau’s tracks died immediately on impact. Ear fatigue made me feel older (I’m only 28) than simply being around kids screaming “more, More, MORE!!!” with each drop.

When I could no longer withstand the onslaught of bass I retired to the press tent to charge my phone and rest before the night’s headliner, Avicii. The Swedish DJ has exploded in popularity on the back of “Levels,” a hard house track with a stadium-sized chorus about feelings. Watching from the edge of a small pond while dancers splashed through, I couldn’t see Avicii himself amid the gigantic video screens playing in time with the music. Effervescent, poppy choruses dominated the set, approaching but somehow never fully crossing over into full-on cheese. The loudest roar of the night was saved for when the opening chords to “Levels” echoed across the field. The euphoric Etta James-sampling lyric “Sometimes I get a good feeling/ I get a feeling that I never, never, never had before….” had the crowd singing in unison. I couldn’t withhold a grin.

The Ferris Wheel

The Ferris Wheel

Saturday afternoon I arrived to a pleasantly different scene: minimal traffic into the lot, a quick search of the car, and hardened mud that made for easier traversing of the grounds. The humidity, however, had a much larger presence than the day before.

The vibe was more positive than Friday, with scantily clad ravers skipping and doing cartwheels across the grounds. Atlanta rap royalty Big Boi performed a high-energy selection of his deep catalogue on the Point Stage, skipping from solo tracks to Outkast classics and constantly reminding everybody that they were not just in the South, but Atlanta. Given how popular Outkast’s remain, and southern rap’s current prominence in the heavy step of EDM, I figured the crowd would be as amped as me to hear some real bounce music; everyone around me was dancing though not that engaged with Big Boi’s show. Their loss, I say.

I then camped out at the Beat tent for Zeds Dead, a dubstep production duo I was told “to not fucking miss!!!” by a guy in a Gumbi suit. I was prepared for more of the same wobble-bass drop-wobble programming from the day before, and the opening remix of 90s hard electro act Prodigy confirmed my fears, when they thankfully swerved into an opening set of (of course) bass-heavy, percussive house music—a sound that didn’t get much play at the fest despite it being equally favored in mainstream club sounds at the moment. Forty minutes into Zeds’ set the tempo was sufficiently raised for them to begin “dropping bombs,” each track more bone-rattling than the last. I made my exit to camp out for Steve Angello and Skrillex, the night’s main stage headliners.

Another Swede who favors pounding progressive house beats with choruses made for arenas, Steve Angello typifies the obnoxious fist-pumping music everybody associates with Jersey Shore club nights. Like the Jersey Shore itself, the U.S. hasn’t decided whether to fully embrace, ironically embrace, or outright reject the swaggering, lowbrow cheesiness of the music. Angello was also roundly criticized a few years back for not even mixing during his DJ sets, preferring to smoke cigarettes and bathe in the crowd’s adulation over a preprogrammed set. With these issues in mind, I was very interested in seeing him perform. Somehow Angello made Avicii’s set seem restrained, as tonight the intensity never abated and the lights were brighter and pulsing harder. Angello himself was a domineering presence, continually speaking over the music about how “beautiful” the crowd was and, at one point, having everybody jump up at the climax of a beat. Every time I looked he was in a crucifixion pose, cigarette dangling from his mouth. Huge blasts of confetti showered the crowd with a frequency I thought diminished the novelty, but the crowd didn’t care. The music—and performance—was certainly focused on complete crowd involvement, but to me it had neither the personality nor heart of Avicii.

Finally it was time for Skrillex. At just 24 years old, Sonny Moore has blindsided the EDM world (and music industry as whole) the way any upstart act does: forcing a new sound into the youth’s ears and not giving a damn about it. His music is truly divisive (check the “Seniors react to Skrillex” YouTube)—a screeching, squelching, stomping beast that completely overtook the skeletal, cavernous dubstep that came before it, and defined the sound in the U.S. in the process. All weekend festival-goers talked excitedly about how wild his live show is, how much it would “rage,” and so on. A five minute countdown began after Angello left the stage; the crowd surged around me in anticipation. At 2 minutes an ominous bass rumbled through the air. At 00:00 the chords of “Right In” tore out of the speakers and we were off; Skrillex’s elfin figure leapt up behind the video screens with a toss of black hair. The crowd’s roar was practically deafening.

Even without diehards in attendance its obvious that Moore garnered his reputation primarily through live show. The “drops” were indeed intense—the music galloped to a climax, sucked into silence with a filter sweep, a pause, then BOOM. It felt like a punch to the gut, but somehow an enjoyable one. Most surprising to me was how, even at its most distorted, Skrillex’s music was audibly connected to his predecessors’ dubstep. The skanking halftime and low-end wobble of dub reggae was more prominent than the other DJs at Counterpoint. Early on Skrillex played his single featuring Damien Marley, “Make It Bun Dem,” followed by a clever remix of Avicii’s “Levels” that had the crowd dancing—or stomping, as it looked to me—in ecstasy. It truly sounded like the past and future of music had collided. To the kids around me, faces lit by the neon lights and lasers of Skrillex’s live show, mouths agape, they obviously agreed. Fireworks marked a triumphant end to his set and, for me, the festival. The kids are having their fun, whether we like their music or not.

For more exclusive pictures from Eide’s CounterPoint coverage https://www.dropbox.com/sh/65nj6zh45jcs44f/_wkoZ9Rin9?m

Cartoon Network Turns 20

Cartoon Network rang in their 20th birthday on October 1 with a celebration at the Turner Techwood campus in Midtown Atlanta. Not only did the entire staff at Cartoon Network join the celebration, but some of its most important players were there too: Scooby Doo, Fred Flinstone, Yogi the Bear, Johnny Bravo and many more characters all came too, and in life-size form. Alongside the impressive showmanship on stage were the CEO and COO of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. and Cartoon Network, as well as Kasim Reed, the mayor of Atlanta. Together, the group announced that October 1st is “Cartoon Network Day” in the city of Atlanta. And while Ted Turner couldn’t make it, he left a video message for everyone a part of the Cartoon Network family over their success the past twenty years.

The party kicked off with a picture of the 1,000+ staff, followed by the Atlanta Falcons’ drumline, and a world premiere of a music video featuring the artist Mad Decent which was made for the birthday celebrations during the month of October. The video featured nearly 100 of the most famous cartoon characters who have made an impact on Cartoon Network’s legacy.

After the guests spoke, in true cartoon fashion, they ignited some TNT which blew open a box to unveil a cake that stood nearly five feet tall. The 1,500 piece cake was made by Atlanta’s own Karen Portaleo of Highland Bakery. It was complete with some of Cartoon Network’s most recognizable faces such as Bugs Bunny and Powerpuff girls.

In the past several years, Cartoon Network has teamed up with initiatives such as Stop Bullying: Speak Up and First Lady, Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! to combat childhood obesity. The network has a lasting impression on teen and pre-teen boys and girls and has received many awards and recognition for its support to such projects.

The network has achieved a lot in its short, twenty-year history. When it began in 1992, it went out to only two million U.S. homes. Now, they’re the highest-ranking network of its kind, and ranks number 1 amongst boys 6-11. The Network can be found in over 175 countries, 26 languages, and in more than 365 million households worldwide today. They’ve also been awarded 57 Emmys for their original series.

Cartoon Network 20th BirthdayCartoon Network 20th BirthdayCartoon Network 20th Birthday

Jeffrey Preis