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A night to remember Dock Ellis, curlers, compassion and being "high as a Georgia pine"

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

 

nono posterThey came wearing Pirates caps in modern or old-school designs in gold, black, blue and brown and in T-shirts celebrating the Bucs, Roberto Clemente or 1979 World Series.
 
Several had stories about brushes with Dock Ellis as children, including a 9-year-old dropping off a glove at the pitcher’s Pittsburgh house and returning the next day to pick it up, autographed, from the player’s girlfriend. 
 
They were among the lucky who got tickets for the sold-out “No No: A Dockumentary” at Pittsburgh Filmmakers’ Melwood Screening Room. It will open a regular run at the Harris Theater, Downtown, on Sept. 5. 
 
The documentary is about Ellis, the Pirate who famously threw a no-hitter in 1970 while on LSD but later went to rehab and became a counselor to addicts. 
 
Through interviews with those who knew him — old friends, relatives, two former wives and fellow Pirates including Dave Cash, Al Oliver, Steve Blass, Bruce Kison and Manny Sanguillen  — a portrait emerges of Ellis before, during and after his playing career.
 
He was sometimes “high as a Georgia pine” (his words), helped to keep the clubhouse loose so the team could be tight on the field and was devastated when Clemente died in a plane crash on a relief mission to earthquake-ravaged Nicaragua. 
 
The movie in some ways is shaped by death:  The loss of Dock’s father, the death of Clemente, the end of Dock’s pitching career and then his death in 2008 at age 63 of liver disease. 
 
Still, it’s filled with history, hijinks and revelations about brief, tragic episodes that ended his marriages or how Dock pushed back against silly rules about not drinking at the hotel bar or wearing curlers, how trailblazer Jackie Robinson wrote a touching letter to him and director Ron Howard learned about the no-no on LSD while filming the comedy “Gung Ho” in Pittsburgh in 1985.  
 
It was the first screening not tied to a film festival and it featured a question-and-answer session after with director Jeffrey Radice, producer Mike Blizzard and agent Tom Reich who represented Dock.
 
They told a story about Ellis giving a youthful Shea Stadium autograph seeker, who was wearing a facsimile Stargell jersey, one of his own authentic Ellis jerseys.  The pair stayed in touch and Dock later wrote him a note, “Believe in yourself, I do.” That was typical of Ellis. 
 
DockMannyThe director said he didn’t move as fast as he should have once he conceived of the movie as an Errol Morris-style documentary. “Where it’s just one-on-one talking head, and  I thought that would be great with Dock because he’s so expressive,” and had a way with turns of phrases. 
 
The former Pitcher said, “Let’s make a movie,” but then Radice couldn’t get back in touch with him because it turned out he was ill.
 
“When he died, I had a lot of regret. Really just did not want to carry that burden of regret through the rest of my life. I talked to my father about it and he said, ‘Well, just reimagine the film’ and that’s what I did. I reimagined it as sort of an elegy where you had the people who knew Dock best telling his story. It transformed the film entirely.”
 
Tuesday night’s movie and appearances were sponsored by Pittsburgh Filmmakers and Steeltown Entertainment Project which served as an associate producer on the project. 
DockEllis  byRonMrowiec 2013-11-28 12-20-11AM
Photo, by Les Banos, of Manny Sanguillen and Dock Ellis’ face. Photo of Ellis pitching by Ron Mrowiec.

 

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Variety puts Michael Keaton on awards path for "Birdman"

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

 

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posterbman827 - CopyWow. 
 
Michael Keaton’s next movie, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” has sent the Pittsburgh native’s stock soaring and could make him a sentimental yet sensational favorite for awards later this year.
 
And no, I haven’t seen the movie yet but the chief international film critic from Variety has, in advance of the Venice Film Festival. 
 
Peter Debruge writes:  “In a year overloaded with self-aware showbiz satires, Alejandro G. Inarritu’s fifth and best feature provides the delirious coup de grace — a triumph on every creative level, from casting to execution, that will electrify the industry, captivate arthouse and megaplex crowds alike, send awards pundits into orbit and give fresh wings to Keaton’s career.” 
 
Here is the official description of “Birdman”:   It’s a black comedy that tells the story of an actor (Keaton) -- famous for portraying an iconic superhero -- as he struggles to mount a Broadway play.  In the days leading up to opening night, he battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career, and himself. 
 
The movie will open in Pittsburgh in October. In addition to Keaton, it stars Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Lindsay Duncan, Merritt Wever, Jeremy Shamos, Bill Camp, and Damian Young.
 

 

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Guardians of the Galaxy rockets to top summer spot

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

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Riding good word of mouth, “Guardians of the Galaxy” held onto the top spot at the box office with an estimated $17.6 million. With more than $250 million in North America, it becomes the highest grossing movie of the 2014 summer, nudging aside “Transformers: Age of Extinction.”
 
That’s quite a feat for a movie revolving around, as our reviewer put it, third- or fourth-tier Marvel characters. But it’s solidly entertaining with Chris Pratt as a likable Everyman hero. 
 
Here are the early numbers from Rentrak.com:
 
 
1. “Guardians of the Galaxy” — $17,631,000, for $251,884,857 since its early August release. 
2. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” — $16,800,000, bringing its running total to $145,609,806 so far. 
3. “If I Stay” — $16,355,000.
4. “Let’s Be Cops” — $11,000,000, or $45,246,168 since release. 
5. “When the Game Stands Tall” — $9,100,000.
6. “The Giver” — $6,730,000, for $24,100,538 so far. 
7. “The Expendables 3” — $6,600,000 or $27,518,177 to date. 
8. “Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” — $6,477,000.
9. “The Hundred-Foot Journey” — $5,562,000, for $32,750,000. 
10. “Into the Storm” — $3,800,000, or $38,301,384 so far. 
 
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Rentrak, calls “If I Stay,” starring Chloe Grace Moretz as a teenager caught between life and death after a terrible car accident with her family, “yet another example of a profitable female-centric film this summer,” and a crowd-pleaser based on exit surveys. 
 
The summer movie season will end on Labor Day. 
 

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How to get passes to see preview of "The November Man"

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

 
 
If you are trying to get passes to the free preview of “The November Man,” here is the correct information. There was a problem with the web address and code in the ad (not our fault but I know it’s frustrating when the code doesn't work). 
 
Go to this address: 
http://www.relativityscreenings.com/PITTPOSTGAZ
 
Type in this code: 
PITTPOSTGAZ
 
“The November Man” stars Pierce Brosnan and opens in theaters on Wednesday, Aug. 27.
 

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Star wars and talk with Adam Driver courtesy of GQ magazine

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

 

0914-GQ-COVnoupc-hiActor Adam Driver seems to be everywhere these days — he’s Daniel Radcliffe’s best friend in “What If” and has a busy fall looming — including the cover of GQ.  Here is a preview, courtesy of the magazine. 
 
New York, N.Y. — “It’s hard to describe. You’re put in these very heightened circumstances, and you learn a lot about who people are at the core, I think. You end up having this very intimate relationship where you would, like, die for these people,” actor Adam Driver tells GQ’s Jessica Pressler of his time in the Marines. 
 
A subject that inspires more pride in his voice than even his acting career, Driver says, “It just seemed like a badass thing to do, to go and shoot machine guns and serve your country.” He was discharged after two years when he broke his sternum; “To not get to go with that group of people I had been training with was … painful.”
 
“I wanted a challenge,” he says of the decision to go to Julliard. “The Marines Corps is supposed to be the toughest and most rigorous of its class.”
 
And in a similar way, Juilliard was the toughest in its class. “Obviously the stakes are different. You have the risk of getting shot or killed in one and just embarrassed in the other. I thought, this will be easy.” 
 
Though his intense approach to classes wasn’t always well received; “I made a lot of people cry.”
 
His breakout role on HBO’s Girls has launched a career that now encompasses a slew of upcoming films, perhaps most notably, his yet to be revealed role in the “Star Wars” reboot. “It’s very nice,” he explains, “But in a way, I don’t feel like I’ve really put in my dues. Like it doesn’t feel earned.” 
 
Since he knows that talking about acting makes him “a pretentious [expletive],” Driver focuses on the service that his organization Arts in the Armed Forces provides.
 
 “Here’s the thing,” he explains, “Life’s s——-,  and we’re all gonna die. You have friends, and they die. You have a disease, someone you care about has a disease, Wall Street people are scamming everyone, the poor get poorer, the rich get richer. That’s what we’re surrounded by all the time.
 
“We don’t understand why we’re here, no one’s giving us an answer, religion is vague, your parents can’t help because they’re just people, and it’s all terrible, and there’s no meaning to anything. What a terrible thing to process! Every. Day. And then you go to sleep. 
 
“But then sometimes, things can suspend themselves for like a minute, and then every once in a while there’s something where you find a connection.”
 
The September issue of GQ is available on newsstands in New York and LA today and will be everywhere Aug. 26. For the full story, click here:
gqadamdriverblog
 

 

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