This is a blog which primarily gives some attention to movies that I find were overlooked (for whatever reason) or are simply underrated. I also comment on other, mainly movie-related issues as well. I welcome any suggestions for films to be added to this distinguished list.

One word of warning: The films listed below contain spoilers, so caution during reading is required.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Interview with Hudson Leick

This week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Hudson Leick, who is known and loved for playing the vicious Callisto in Xena: Warrior Princess.

1. Hudson, what inspired you to pursue acting?

H-I really got terrible grades in school. I didn’t understand textbooks well, which is ironic because my family was well-educated. When I was 19, I was modeling in France and that’s when I realized I wanted to act or becoming a shrink. They both study humanity.

2. You spent time modeling in Japan. What was that like?

H-I went to Japan after high school. It was intense for an 18 year old to be in a different land, with a different language. Even the alphabet was different. It was amazing and scary, at first. I feel really lucky to have been able to travel so much at an early age.

3. You are obviously best known for playing Callisto on several episodes of Xena. Are there any episodes which stick out for you?

H-I don’t know the names of episodes because it was so long ago, but the episode where I came back when I was immortal is a favorite. That was fun. It was the one where I was freed from the cave Hercules trapped me in (“A Necessary Evil”).

4. Speaking of Hercules, you also played Callisto on that series, where you also played one of the show’s producers. Was that any different from acting on Xena?

H-Totally different. Different actors and different crews, which makes sense.

5. Do you have a favorite of the non-Callisto roles you’ve played?

H-It was so long ago that I acted that it’s hard to answer that. Callisto was my favorite role. The others I’ve played were pretty sexualized, meaning I sexualized myself. It just felt like trash magazines, that I was adding darkness to the world. With Xena, it didn’t feel like I was putting dark in the world. Xena & Gabrielle were the light, so darkness was necessary in those cases. It was like I was part of wonderful thing and very beautiful.

6. You are also a yoga instructor. What inspired you to pursue that line of work?

H-I took a lot of yoga since 24. A friend suggested to get certified. I got certified not to teach, but to know more about myself at 24. My friend in New Zealand threw a yoga teaching class on me when I was down there at age 26 and I loved it.
I’m going to have another yoga retreat in the Czech Republic near Prauge from Aug. 3-9. Everyone from all walks of life are invited. More info will be put up shortly on or on my Facebook. I will also teach a 90-minute yoga class and a 90-minute to two-hour dance class at the Xena convention in Los Angeles on Feb. 20. Everyone is invited, just bring an open mind.

7. Do you plan to do any more acting in the future?

H-Nope. You never know what’ll happen but I have no desire to speak someone else’s words. Being an actor, for me, was morphing into other beings and as I grow older I want to be more genuine and find out who I am. That’s much more interesting and takes a lot of courage to do that.

8. You’ve also voiced characters on video games? How does that differ from acting on TV or in movies?

H-You don’t have to go to hair and makeup. That’s really it. You are still acting opposite someone. Technically, they are pretty similar.

9. You’ve also written a cookbook. How did that idea come around?

H-One of my girlfriends suggested it. I make a lot of healthy meals. My mom often says that she loses weight when she visits me. It seemed like a good idea. The cookbook, Yum!, is available on Lulu.

10. Do you plan to write more in the future?

H-I don’t know. I’m not sure. At some point I may write a book but it’s not here right now. So I can’t give a concrete answer.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (2012-present)

"This is a temperance household, the sound of a popping cork could lead to my eviction."
"More so than entertaining a man in your private parlour?"
"A man? I thought you were a police officer. I'll try my best to be less entertaining."
-Phryne Fisher and Inspector John "Jack" Robinson.

To ring in 2015, I'm reviewing a series that is not only one of my wife's favorites, but is set to begin its third season soon.

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries is an Australian TV series based on books by Kerry Greenwood. The title character (Essie Adams) is a private detective from Melbourne of the 1920s. She is assisted in her exploits by her maid Dorothy "Dot" Williams (Ashleigh Cummings) as well as police inspector John "Jack" Robinson (Nathan Page).

Things start off lively in the premiere episode, "Cocaine Blues." Fisher returns home after traveling for a few years. She then learns that a friend's husband has been poisoned in connection with a cocaine smuggling ring. Once this case has been solved, Fisher decides to begin a new career as a detective.

Another nice aspect of the series is how series creators Deb Cox and Fiona Eagger allowed Greenwood herself to provide input on its development. Cox and Eagger initally planned to simply adapt her novels until they realized that original screenplays could be easier. To that end, they asked Greenwood to go over the scripts with them to ensure they would do her creation justice.

I have yet to read any of the books but the series itself is entertaining thanks to its stars. Adams makes Fisher a witty, charming individual. Unlike other detectives such as Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot, Fisher's adventures have led to romance on more than one occasion (I can't help but think she'd be instant BFF's with the ladies from Sex and the City). She even has flirtatious moments with Robinson.

In addition, Fisher also has occasional clashes with her Aunt Prudence (Miriam Margolyes), who disapproves of her care-free lifestyle.

Dot herself is in a relationship with Robinson's right-hand man Hugh Collins (Hugo Johnstone-Burt).

One of my favorite moments is in the episode "Ruddy Gore" when Fisher meets businessman Lin Chung (Phillipe Sung). The two become intimate but not before his grandmother (Amanda Ma) voices her disapproval to him in her native Chinese. Fisher then surprises her by thanking her for her words in the same language.

Here's hoping Season 3 retains the charm of the previous two seasons.