Jeffrey Blitz on Rocket Science

Jeffrey Blitz on Rocket ScienceJeffrey Blitz scored an unlikely hit in 2003 with the marvellous documentary Spellbound.

A simple but affecting tale of a cross section of students competing in the National Spelling Bee, it was a captivating and charming look at learning in America.

He now returns with Rocket Science, his feature film debut which is out at selected UK cinemas this week.
This also deals with high school education as it follows a young student (Reece Thompson) who joins his high school debating team despite having a stutter.

It won the Best Director prize at Sundance earlier this year and is released in selected UK cinemas this week.

I recently spoke to Jeffrey about the film, the success of Spellbound and a few other things besides.

Listen to the interview podcast here:


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Rocket Science is out in the UK this Friday

> Download this interview as an MP3 file
> Check out the official site for Rocket Science
> If you are on Facebook try the Mass Debater application designed by PPC Interactive to tie in with the release of the film
> Find out show times for Rocket Science via Google Movies
> Check out reviews for Rocket Science at Metacritic

Half Nelson on DVD

Half Nelson DVD coverHalf Nelson is out on DVD this week in the UK and earlier this year I spoke to the director Ryan Fleck and the co-writer/producer Anna Boden about the film.

It tells the story of a talented Brooklyn school teacher (Ryan Gosling) who is caught smoking crack by one of his pupils (Shareeka Epps).

But this is not a traditional classroom drama by any means. With two pitch perfect lead performances and a wise, heartfelt script, it is one of the finest films to come out of the US in the last year.

Have a listen to the interview below:

You can also download this interview as an MP3 by clicking here or subscribe to our interview podcast via iTunes below:

> Check out the official website for the film
> Buy Half Nelson on DVD at Amazon UK
> Buy the soundtrack (which is superb by the way) at Amazon UK

The Cinema Review: Death Proof, A Mighty Heart, Michael Clayton and Rocket Science

CR Images 21 to 28-09-07This week we squeeze two week’s worth of reviews into one as we’ll be taking a break next week.

But in the meantime we examine the following releases:


Death Proof – The latest film from Quentin Tarantino starring Kurt Russell as a stunt driver who stalks and kills women in his death-proof car. Originally part of ‘Grindhouse’ – as a double bill with Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror – it has been released as a single film in Europe due to that project flopping in the US. About 20 mins extra footage has been added for this release.

A Mighty Heart – A film based on the book by Marianne Pearl documenting the kidnap and murder of her reporter husband Daniel Pearl in Pakistan by Islamic radicals in 2002. Angelina Jolie plays Marianne Pearl, Dan Futterman plays Danny and the Indian actor Irfan Khan stars as ‘Captain’ the head of the Pakistan police force who try to find him. Michael Winterbottom directs.


The Brave One – A vigilante drama starring Jodie Foster as a New Yorker who takes the law into her own hands after being attacked one night. Terrence Howard stars as the cop who has to investigate the case and Neil Jordan directs.

Halloween Rob Zombie directs this remake of John Carpenter’s classic 1978 horror film about a murderous escaped mental patient named Michael Myers. This modern update delves more into Myers’ background and adds a lot of gore.

Michael Clayton George Clooney stars as a New York attorney who gets embroiled in a web of intrigue invloving his bosses and various shady characters. An impressive supporting cast includes Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson and Sidney Pollack whilst the film is written and directed by Tony Gilroy (best know for writing the Bourne movies).

Rocket Science – A quirky drama from director Jeffrey Blitz who scored an unlikely hit on 2002 with the documentary Spellbound. This is his feature film debut but it also deals with high school education as it follows a young student (Reece Thompson) who joins his high school debating team desoite having a stutter.

Listen to the review podcast here:


Subscribe to the review podcast via iTunes:

> Download this review as an MP3 file
> Get the local showtimes via Google Movies
> Check out other reviews of these films at Metacritic

Zodiac Director’s Cut DVD Announced

Zodiac PosterAccording to DVD Times, Paramount have announced that a director’s cut of Zodiac will be available on Region 1 DVD in January:

Paramount Home Entertainment have announced the Region 1 DVD release of Zodiac (Director’s Cut) on 8th January 2008.

Based on the actual case files of one of the most intriguing unsolved crimes in the nation’s history, “Zodiac” is a thriller from David Fincher, director of “Se7en” and “Panic Room.”

As a serial killer terrifies the San Francisco Bay Area and taunts police with his ciphers and letters, investigators in four jurisdictions search for the murderer. The case will become an obsession for four men as their lives and careers are built and destroyed by the endless trail of clues.

If you haven’t seen it yet Fincher’s brilliant procedural police drama about the Zodiac killings is one of the best films to come out this year.

Unfortunately the recent R1 and the upcoming R2 DVDs were bereft of decent extras. According to David Prior (the producer of the upcoming director’s cut) in a post on the Home Theater Forum, this vanilla edition was only reluctantly agreed to by Fincher:

Before you all get too bent out of shape about the staggered release dates of the vanilla and the director’s cut, you should be aware that it was only reluctantly agreed to by Fincher because I needed more time on the bonus material.

The studio was locked into their release date (and bound and determined to release a single-disc, which nobody except them wanted), so Fincher allowed that to be released first.

It had nothing to do with Fincher “double dipping his own movie before it even makes it to stores” and everything to do with buying more time for the special edition.

Hope that clears things up. In the interests of full disclosure, you should also know that the theatrical cut will only be available on the single disc.

Apparently the extras on the director’s cut will include:

  • Commentary by Director David Fincher
  • Commentary by Jake Gyllenhall, Robert Downey Jr., Producer Brad Fischer, James Vanderbilt and James Ellroy
  • Zodiac Deciphered
  • The Visual Effects of Zodiac
  • Digital Workflow
  • Sequence Breakdowns:
    • Blue Rock Springs
    • Lake Berryessa
    • San FranciscoTrailers and TV spots
  • The Facts:
    • This is the Zodiac Speaking
    • Lake Herman Road
    • Blue Rock Springs
    • Lake Berryessa
    • San Francisco
  • Prime Suspect:
    • His Name Was Arthur Leigh Allen
    • Linguistic Analysis
  • Jeopardy Surface: Geographic Profiling (6:30 video)
  • Dr. Kim Rossmo’s Geographic Profile of the Zodiac (text-based)
  • The Psychology of Aggression: Behavioral Profiling (5:30 video)
  • Special Agent Sharon Pagaling-Hagan’s Behavioral Profile of the Zodiac (text-based)

I think its probably best to wait for this edition, even though the theatrical cut is worth seeing for the film alone.

> Zodiac at the IMDb
> Listen to Jake Gyllenhall speak to us about Zodiac
> Check out the trailer for Zodiac
> Reviews of Zodiac at Metacritic
> Digital Content Producer on the digital workflow Fincher employed whilst making Zodiac