Streamed & Screened: Movie and TV Reviews and InterviewsStreamed & Screened: Movie and TV Reviews and Interviews

Catching up with Oliver Dench of 'Hotel Portofino' and talking 'Gen V,' 'The Saint of Second Chances' and 'Ahsoka'

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The writers strike is over so new programming — at least in the form of late-night television — will be returning soon. But with actors still on strike, most television shows and movies are not yet completely back in production.

That means in most cases actors can't promote their work, which has led to some offbeat movie premieres such as a record number of dogs showing up on the red carpet for "PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie." But not all actors are prohibited from speaking to the media, which meant a new interview from co-host Bruce Miller with Oliver Dench (yes, he's related to Judi Dench) talking about "Hotel Portofino."

Bruce and co-host Terry Lipshetz have been using the time to get caught up on the limited new films and shows hitting theaters and streaming services such as the new series "Gen V," the latest "Star Wars" installment "Ahsoka" and the new baseball documentary "The Saint of Second Chances." Bruce also managed to make it to the end of the fourth installment in the "Expendables" franchise.

It's a pretty big list, so be sure to use our list below to help map out your schedule! 

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About the show

Streamed & Screened is a podcast about movies and TV hosted by Bruce Miller, a longtime entertainment reporter who is now the editor of the Sioux City Journal in Iowa and Terry Lipshetz, a senior producer for Lee Enterprises based in Madison, Wisconsin.

Episode transcript

Note: The following transcript was created by Headliner and may contain misspellings and other inaccuracies as it was generated automatically:

Bruce Miller and Terry Lipshetz discuss writers' strike ending

Terry Lipshetz: Just a quick note about this episode Bruce Miller and I recorded after it was revealed that writers and studios agreed to a new contract and had stopped picketing. But prior to writers being given permission to return to work. Welcome everyone, to another episode of streamed and screened an entertainment podcast about movies and TV from Lee Enterprises. I'm Terry Lipshetz, a senior producer at Lee and co-host of the program with Bruce Miller, editor of the Sioux City Journal and a longtime entertainment reporter. Bruce, we got some good news.

Bruce Miller: There is news.

Terry Lipshetz: We have a almost, almost it's not officially, not all the I's dotted and T's crossed, but we're so close, so close with the writers.

Bruce Miller: How good is it if we have no actors that can do the scripts that they're writing?

Terry Lipshetz: Right, exactly. But it could mean things like our late night programs come back a little Jimmy Fallon, maybe.

Bruce Miller: How good is it if all we get are late night programs and game shows? It'll be game shows galore with all the Jeopardy champion of Champions, the ultimate reality star game show. I think tonight, too, we start Dancing with the Stars. So that is not really covered by the rules, apparently.

Terry Lipshetz: Right.

Bruce Miller: because you can dance, but you probably shouldn't talk.

Terry Lipshetz: It is kind of quirky. There's these little carve outs here and there, like broadcasters for sporting events. They're members of the Actors Guild, but it's a carve out for them. And there's other little things, like know, because, like, Drew Barrymore was coming back with her then, and then that got reversed because she had a couple writers that were on strike, and so they pulled the plug on again. You know, she's an actor, but presumably now with the writer's strike ending, we'll be back at work very soon.

Bruce Miller: And I think she's a producer too. So what trumps what highest title that you carry?

Terry Lipshetz: So it's good news. It sounds like they pulled, the Writers Guild told their membership, you can stop picketing. We'll get you the information. We really haven't seen too many details yet come out, but they just sounded very happy with it. They'll send it to voting members. It said like a week to ten days, and then they should be kind of back at it, which on one hand gives you optimism because you think, okay, they got the writers done now, they're going to move over and we can get the actors done. But then right before we came on to do this show, I saw that the screen actors just voted to begin a, walkout against video game makers. Because there's actors involved with the making of video games, because you've got voice actors and stunts and things like that that they use for motion capture and all that. A lot of the video game makers are the same groups that are in charge of studios like Disney and Sony Entertainment and all these. So, the last strike, against video games, 2016. And it lasted nearly a year. So a little concerning. I don't know how this will play.

Bruce Miller: I think we can give up video games. I don't care.

Terry Lipshetz: My kids might care.

Bruce Miller: Bring the acting back. That's what I want most of all. Well, we wish them well, and we hope that they reach a quick resolution on all of that, because it is making it difficult for us.

Terry Lipshetz: Yeah, well and it makes your job difficult because you like to, of course, talk to the actors.

Bruce Miller: I'd rather talk to an actor than a producer.

Terry Lipshetz: Would you talk to a dog?

Bruce Miller: I would talk to a dog.

Terry Lipshetz: Dogs that apparently aren't covered by the Screen Actors Guild. Because I don't know if you saw this, but Paw Patrol: The mighty movie, had its big red carpet premiere, and 219 dogs showed up to watch the premiere. Because dogs will sit and watch a premiere, and it set a new Guinness, world record.

Bruce Miller: So that's where we're at with each.

Terry Lipshetz: Yeah. It's gone to the dogs. Hollywood has gone to the dogs.

Bruce Miller: Well, wait till they start striking. Imagine what they'll do.

Terry Lipshetz: They'll bury their bones.

Bruce Miller: Or they might just all do a no walk out and then no walking. And then they come to this, and they take a dump right on that red carpet. Right? There you are.

Terry Lipshetz: Yeah, I know.

Bruce Miller: It's been done before, so I think we're okay.

Terry Lipshetz: Yeah. And then there's some programming out there that are the equivalent, I guess. But it's given us, some opportunity. We're getting caught up on things that there isn't a lot of new material. There's some there's some things here and there.

Bruce Miller: I have started watching some new shows. There's season two of, Hotel Portofino. Have you seen this one? It was on Bridgebox, and now it's moving over to PBS. And it's very Downton Abbey, if you're looking for something like that. It's about the family that runs a hotel. And it's set many years ago in the early 20th century, rather, 19 hundreds, whatever. And very glossy, with upstairs downstairs kind of talent and a little dirty. We'll just say that. Put that out there. And, interesting. So that was good.

The Boys on Amazon is about superheroes who are evil and vile

Bruce Miller: This week is the last week of reservation dogs on FX, if you want to see the end of that. In the last episode, I cried profusely, so you have that to look forward to. I have seen the first episodes of Gen V. Now, if you're a Boys fan, the Boys on Amazon, where it's about the superheroes. Are you familiar with this?

Terry Lipshetz: I'm not, no.

Bruce Miller: The Boys, it's about a world in which superheroes are kind of the ultimate. They really run everything. And there's a group called the Seven. Homelander is the leader of the Seven, and they seem like very kind of noble and virtuous and looking for all the right things. Well, you realize that that's an act that's an image that they're putting on, and behind the scenes, they're evil and vile, and they're slitting everybody's throat. And there's a group of people who are trying to take down these superheroes. Okay, so that is the boys. Now, there's a new sequel, ah, series called Gen V. And Gen V is about training people to be in that superhero world. Fascinating. Fascinating. It's like a college drama. And they go to this college, that they have abbreviated to God You, and they learn how to harness their powers and use it for various different crime fighting as a class. And, you see the kind of unpolished versions of their things. It's very X Men. If you're into the X Men, it's like but one of the stars of the show is Patrick Schwarzenegger. Arnold's Son plays this kind of golden boy, and he's the one that they all want to be, but he turns into Fire. And apparently he doesn't wear clothes, because they always talk about how he is naked, but his kind of temper gets the best of him. And if people are taunting him or whatever, he could be trouble. So you see that he could be another Homelander who is vile. But you don't know how this plays out in school. And the first episodes were great, but dirtier than you can believe. This is not, something that you let your kids watch. It is not Riverdale at all. There's one woman who becomes small. She can shrink down to, like, the size of, a paperclip. And she meets a kid at college who wants her to get small for various reasons. And I can't explain them on a podcast that hopefully is going everywhere. Yeah, it's dirty, dirty, dirty.

Terry Lipshetz: Wow.

Bruce Miller: If you're looking for an adult kind of look at the superhero world, gen V, wow.

Terry Lipshetz: I might have to check that out. You know, I'm not a big superhero person, but something that's a little off the beaten path.

Bruce Miller: Yeah, the Boys is a good kind of entry drug with this, because if you don't like superheroes, you get to see how nasty they really are. And so it makes you, yes, be that bad. I like that. And then you've seen how they have morphed and how they're actually fighting each other to be seen as the most virtuous. it's very good. And the seven always is, like, shifting. You never know who's part of the seven on one time or not. And it's run by an evil corporation. Of course it's run by an evil and they are pulling the strings on these poor superheroes. But now we're at the college, and we're trying to see how that all shakes down with them. So that's a new one that will be starting very soon. And then it, just started, but I binged the whole thing selling the OC. Now, if you're a fan of those real estate shows where they also never work, right? This is one of them. This is a companion to selling sunset. And that was about the people who work in Beverly Hills in like a strip mall. And they never seem to be selling a home. They always have these listings for like 35 million. And then all they do is walk around the house and have a party there. And then you never hear that somebody sold this. Well, now Selling the OC is the companion piece there in Orange County. And they've got a better office, but still just as much drama. And the women all look like they're going out for some evening cocktail up there. When they're in the office during the daytime, you think, do you really wear an evening gown for daytime work? And never, ever shuffle a piece of paper? They're just sitting there all the time gossiping about each other. And this one guy, Tyler, is kind of, not, necessarily a target, but a goal for many of the women there because he got divorced from his wife, who happens to be Britney Snow, who was in a bunch of TV series in the past. And they all think they could be the new Britney Snow. So they're all kind of like sucking up to Tyler and seeing if he know. How are you feeling? Can we have a talk? Can I do a one on one? Can we just converse about your situation? And Tyler is like drinking it all in. He is taking all the attention. I don't think that guy has ever sold a house. If he has, I'd like to see the paperwork because it sure isn't coming through on the show. But fascinating to watch. I, binge the whole thing. And then of course, what do we always do when we are in real estate? We have a pajama party at, one of our properties so that then, we can all just wear nightwear. And doesn't this kind of just open the floodgates to god knows what? I don't think I'm just going to look at you in the baby doll pajamas. I think I might actually make a.

Terry Lipshetz: Move that doesn't seem appropriate. Does this violate some aspect of.

Bruce Miller: Context laws against this? Because I sure open, up a, selling OC rule about you cannot fraternize with the other people in the office. It's not happening. But it was. Yeah, I binged it. That's how good it was.

Netflix's House Hunters is aimed at prospective buyers looking for homes

Terry Lipshetz: Okay.

Bruce Miller: Netflix. And, I just saw oh, I'll watch one. I haven't seen one for a while and we'll see what happens. No property sold here.

Terry Lipshetz: I might have to check that out. I don't mind watching some of those house selling like it's a little bit more house hunters.

Bruce Miller: Yeah, but a house hunter is unrealistic expectations.

Terry Lipshetz: Right.

Bruce Miller: Want the $2 million home for $200,000. And they're always, ah, we entertain. And you never see those people entertain ever. It's relatives and the real estate agent, that's who shows up.

Terry Lipshetz: Yeah. I know somebody, a, former colleague, I want to say, reached out to House Hunters to see how you can get on the program when she was looking for a house. And it's actually, you know, how this is going to go anyway because there's obviously behind the scenes drama of how this all gets set up. But basically they told her you have to have an accepted offer and then we'll show you two other houses. And then you get blown away by.

Bruce Miller: The house, basically, that you're already badmouth the ones that you aren't going to take.

Terry Lipshetz: Right.

Bruce Miller: I think there's possibilities. I like that highway going through the middle of our yard. Maybe a deterrent, maybe.

Terry Lipshetz: But it could be making commuting easier too.

Bruce Miller: It could. And then we have easy access. Right. I think we're all right. Too bad we have a lot of dogs, animals, and children that could get hit by a car in the process. But on keeping it on the list.

The latest entry into Star Wars. Been watching it with my daughter

Terry Lipshetz: Well, like you, I've been trying to crush through some things before regular programming gets back to us. So ahsoka. the Star Wars. The latest entry into Star Wars. Been watching it with my daughter, who's also a huge Star Wars fan. This week is the 7th episode and then, first week of October is already the 8th and final episode of season one. I don't recall how many episodes or how many seasons they're planning. I don't think it's going to know eight seasons. It's going to be two or three. Because what I've read is that they're going to take ahsoka, and then they're going to take the Mandalorian and the book of Boba Fett. They're going to marry them all together into something for movie theaters. Like there's going to be some big movie that's going to come out that's going to tie up all these storylines because they essentially take place the same timeline of the same universe. I would say that this is a good show. We've enjoyed it. The two problems that I have with it is if you didn't watch the cartoon Star Wars Rebels, you would be really lost with this. And I know a lot of people who kind of didn't really you're a Star Wars fan, but maybe didn't want to watch the cartoons because you thought, I'm a little too adult for the cartoons. And if you didn't watch those cartoons, you would really be lost with some of these characters who are in this because it basically picks up a few years after the final episode of the final season of Star Wars Rebels. But if you're a fan of Star Wars Rebels and a lot of people who I know who watch the show were because it was a really good cartoon, I thought they did a really nice job with it. I think you'd be a fan of this show. The only downside I would say with Ahsoka is it feels like they're taking a really long time to kind of get to a certain point. And then we're going to go to this big cliffhanger to season two. It just feels like we're not trying to tie up any loose ends quickly in any way. Yeah, the big villain that they've been talking about for almost the entirety of The Run so far only recently made an appearance. And you're only going to get basically two episodes out of him. Three episodes. So it's kind of a slow build. I think it's really good. I don't know if the series is as good as Andor, which really, really liked. But I might put this one ahead of the Mandalorian because I think this one might be yeah, it's good. And it kind of gets you back to Jedi because a lot of the series that we've done, we've kind of moved away from Jedi and looked more kind of the ordinary people within the universe. but now we're getting back to lightsabers and using the Force and things like that. So it's kind of fun to move back into that world a little bit.

Bruce Miller: You know, what I don't like about those kinds of shows is they never have a chill day. They never say, you know, today we're not going to go out and do Jedi games.

Terry Lipshetz: We're just going to sit still at.

Bruce Miller: Home and look at the rocks that we've got in our yard and kind of just decide what we like about ourselves. They don't that stuff. They're always on a mission for something.

Terry Lipshetz: They are. And the missions don't go to plan. They never go to plan.

Bruce Miller: Okay, who drinks blue milk? What Star Wars One is that?

Terry Lipshetz: That was, the first the original one, the Bantha milk. Come on.

Bruce Miller: Because they do have that at the Disney, parks, the, Resistance. And there's a bar there and you can get the blue milk. And I always wondered what would that taste like because I don't like milk anyway. So if you threw some blue coloring in it, does that make it any better?

Terry Lipshetz: Yeah. Well, what is it? Does it taste like? Is it just milk with blue? No, I think it's something else.

Bruce Miller: I think there's liquor in it.

Terry Lipshetz: Well, then I would enjoy that.

Bruce Miller: See, that's probably what they do is they're also liquored up. So they really don't know what they're doing and, going from there. But are there more announced? Are there other Star Wars series that are coming?

Terry Lipshetz: Or yeah, there's a couple others. but some of them are in this kind of gray area like the Acolyte, which is supposed to be coming out. But that one it sounds like production has kind of been up and down. I don't know what the current status of that one is. I know there's another season of Andor coming up, another season of Mandalorian, coming up. But I don't recall offhand what the timeline of releases is and also how much of it has been maybe delayed by the strikes that have been going on, too.

You could do a high school Kylo Ren. What was he like in school

Bruce Miller: Okay. Would we ever have, like, the Adam Driver character? What was his name?

Terry Lipshetz: Oh, yeah. well.

Bruce Miller: Kylo Ren's early years. What was he like in school? Was he a real brat, or was he a good guy and then he turned bad, or what?

Terry Lipshetz: Well, he was Ben Solo, the son of, Han and Leia.

Bruce Miller: But then wasn't he kind of like, I don't know who my family yep. So wouldn't he be a good one to kind of lean into?

Terry Lipshetz: It would be a, and this is where the current producers it's paying a lot of fan service. It's that kind of Luke Skywalkers post Return to the Jedi. And they've brought him in a couple of times using CGI, making Mark Hamill look a lot younger than he is. But, I think they know that era is something that fans are really interested in, but of AI is a major player because unless you recast those roles, a lot of those characters are getting too old and they can't play themselves anymore.

Bruce Miller: You could do a high school Kylo Ren.

Terry Lipshetz: That'd be fun.

Bruce Miller: And then Kylo could be like, maybe people pick on him too much know he doesn't really know where he belongs. He's not picking a lane. And then he turns dark, and then he realizes, oh, gow, I'm into something here. I'm getting attention. I think it could be something the early years of his career as a bad guy.

Terry Lipshetz: Yeah. And, you know, prom night won't go well. There'll be something.

Bruce Miller: Oh, God. It's a Carrie. It's Carrie all over again. Except it's Kylo, and he'll be mad.

Terry Lipshetz: That's right.

There is a really good baseball documentary that just came out on Netflix

Terry Lipshetz: So I've been watching, know you've been talking about some shows you've been watching on Netflix. I don't know if you're a baseball fan at all, but there is a really good baseball documentary that just came out in the last week. It's called the Saint of second chances. And I don't know if you've ever heard the story of Mike Veck. He's the Son of Veck.

Bruce Miller: I know who he bill, we, have a team here that played in the same league as his team, the.

Terry Lipshetz: St. Paul the St. Paul Saints, right? Yeah. So Mike Veck, the son of Bill Veck, who is an owner of the Chicago White Sox, mike Vek came up with he was a very innovative know, if you think about luxury suites, that was something that Mike Vek introduced in old Kamisky Park as a way to bring in extra revenue. But he also came up with Disco Demolition Night, which did not go so well. And it pretty much drove him out of the game of baseball for quite a few years until he was able to redeem himself as owner of the St. Paul Saints. So the saint of second chances. It kind of goes into his relationship with his father, his relationship with baseball, the relationship he had with his daughter, who he brought in to help, him as a little child and then was hoping to bring up and continue working in the family business of baseball. And there's some emotional things that go in. I don't want to reveal too much.

Bruce Miller: About the story, participate or not.

Terry Lipshetz: Mike thack yes. Yeah, he helps narrate and very good story. And they talk with a lot of folks too, that it wasn't just about his second chance, but second chances for other people. Like, there was this one woman who all she ever wanted to do is play baseball. But you can't let a girl play baseball, right, because it's a boys game. And she was somebody who he brought in to pitch for the St. Paul Saints. So they talk with her. They talk with Daryl Strawberry, who was a very famous baseball player who pretty much worked himself out of the game because of substance, abuse problems. And he gave Daryl a second chance with the St. Paul Saints. And it helped get him back into Major League baseball. So it gets into that, and they talk with Daryl Strawberry. So it's a really fascinating look. And if you're a fan of sports documentaries, baseball documentaries, it's really good. And I would know. Hop onto Netflix ASAP and check that one out.

Bruce Miller: Is Bill Murray in it?

Terry Lipshetz: Bill Murray actually is sort of I don't recall him being interviewed, but he does make an appearance in it, yes.

Bruce Miller: And where is that located? Where can I find that?

Terry Lipshetz: That is Netflix.

Bruce Miller: Netflix. So we'll be looking. Yeah, Netflix. I can never tell what they've got coming. It's a price. I've got one coming next week, I believe, in theaters from Netflix. And then it goes in October to, it'll be streaming on Netflix. And it's called fair play. Incredible, incredible relationship drama. Reminded me a lot of, fatal, attraction. It's about a couple who work in a trading firm. And they're a couple. I mean, you see a lot of it's rated R for a reason. And then he thinks he is going to get the promotion when this one guy is out. And she's all supportive and everything. And then he doesn't get it. She gets it. And then you see how their relationship changes and shifts throughout the course of their relationship. And it's fascinating. It's very much like some of the things, Emerald Fennell did a film a couple of years ago she won an Oscar for. It about this woman getting back at somebody for her friend. It's a fascinating, fascinating film. The woman, I don't know who she is. Phoebe Dynavore. I don't even know if I'm pronouncing it right. But she is very good. And she plays opposite Alden Aaron Reich. And you've seen him in a lot of but he never he's in a Star Wars one. I think he's Han Solo. Correct. He has never really gotten that kind of break that I think he deserves. And this could be it. But it is very good. It's opening in theaters. It's called fair play. It'll open next week. And then it's going to open on, Netflix, on a streaming basis in October.

Terry Lipshetz: Wow, that sounds good. I'm definitely going to well, and I may have know because it's crazy. You get those emails from Netflix saying, coming soon. And I'll look at the trailer. What is know?

Bruce Miller: I don't know what this is.

Terry Lipshetz: Yeah. And I'll put it in the reminder.

Bruce Miller: Because then they'll just keep bugging me all the time if they know that I'm looking for that. You probably forgot that you did this, right? I don't need it.

Mosquito: We're getting caught up on a few TV shows

Bruce Miller: What else have you seen?

Terry Lipshetz: We're getting caught up a little bit. I mean, there's no new programs for the most part. So we're getting caught up on a few things. My wife and I started Painkiller, which is starring Matthew Broderick as, you know, from Purdue Pharma. And it kind of gets into it's another dramatization about the Opioid crisis. It's okay. first of all, it's very weird watching Matthew Broderick playing somebody that old. Because I'm still in my mind, he's still bueller.

Bruce Miller: Yeah.

Terry Lipshetz: And if he's old, that means I'm old and I can't be that old yet. Can I really be that old?

Bruce Miller: No, you're younger than me. So that gives you a leg up right there.

Terry Lipshetz: So it's, looking it's a different perspective of the crisis.

Bruce Miller: How similar is it to dopesick dopesick.

Terry Lipshetz: With Michael Keaton I thought was really good. I thought Michael Keaton in that was really good. But the perspective of Dopesick was coming mostly from the doctor, the prescriber end of things. And this is more of the investigation side of things and the Purdue Pharma side of things. Not painting Purdue Pharma in a good light in any way, but it's more of how the crisis was manufactured from that end. And then it looks at some of the stories of how they got to where they got to. I don't think the stories are as compelling as Dope sick, but we're not going to stop watching it. It's a six episode miniseries. How far are you in three episodes?

Bruce Miller: you kind of have to make a choice.

Terry Lipshetz: Yeah. We're at that point now where I think we're committed and we'll knock it off and it's not bad. But Michael Keaton I thought, was just very good. Michael Keaton is just, to me, has aged very well as an actor. Like he's gotten yeah. Yeah. It's not just the goofy little things know, you think of him as like, Beetlejuice and some of those comedies he did. But some of the things that he's done later in life have just gotten so much good. Really good.

Bruce Miller: I find. you do get to that point where you say, do I fish or do I cut bait? And I will bail on series. I have had one and done. I'll watch one episode, realize this is way too much for me to invest. And the first killer, with those things is when it says ten episodes, because somewhere around seven, it wanes until we get to nine, and then it'll pick up, and then you get the ten. And it's all right. Sometimes I have even watched one, and if I have the access to the ten, I'll watch the ten and I won't watch ones in the middle.

Terry Lipshetz: Interesting. Yeah.

Bruce Miller: Might be bad, but, life's too short. And I believe that you shouldn't have to watch crap just because you made an investment initially.

Terry Lipshetz: Yeah. There is a couple shows that my wife and I watched, like, we watched a little bit of that. Was it tomorrowland on Apple TV? The one yeah. And it looked was I we didn't make it to the end of episode one, and we just, I can maybe see where it's going, but I can't dig in on this one. There was another one, too.

Bruce Miller: Yeah, I watched it all, and I thought, where are they going with this? Because I bought in in the beginning that it was, this is the way the world is. We are doing this. And then you realize it's a scam, and they're, just scamming people. And then how are they getting out of the yeah.

Terry Lipshetz: Yeah. So I just couldn't get emotionally invested into it. Now, there was another one that was also on Apple TV Plus, where I watched the first season. My wife and I watched the season, and we liked it. And then it came back for season two. But then I read that it got canceled because the ratings weren't quite there. And a number of the reviewers said, well, it kind of ends on a cliffhanger now, so am I going to watch it? Aren't I going to watch it? It was the Mosquito Coast, and, I liked season one of the Mosquito Coast, but I couldn't quite figure out if I wanted to invest it. And we got hung up in that spot of like, do we watch it? Don't we watch it? We went ahead and watched it. I didn't love it, but it doesn't end on a cliffhanger. I thought it wrapped up for me.

Bruce Miller: I was done.

Terry Lipshetz: Yeah. It got to the end. I was like, okay, we kind of dragged this out. The performances in season one I thought were better, and this one is just kind of it was a little too over the top, but it ends, like, where it ends. You're fine. I was totally fine. There is that last episode. It is explosive. There is some drama, some characters may or may not be with us to the very end, but it does not end on some weird cliff where. You're like, they canceled it. Now I'm never going to be able to know what happens because I was totally fine with it.

Bruce Miller: Watch the Harrison Ford movie and you got it all.

Terry Lipshetz: Yeah, I probably got it. I watched that so, so long ago. I don't even remember know that's why.

Bruce Miller: They'Re remaking things is you don't remember what?

Terry Lipshetz: I remember a minute, and I remember watching it, but I don't even remember it at this point. It was so long ago. Yeah.

Bruce Miller: And they always wanted to throw in something that well, we never thought that there would be, like, robots. And so they'll throw in a robot in a show.

The Expendables Four looks like it was written by a computer

Bruce Miller: Not in this one, necessarily, but wait a minute now. this was like a 1950s movie, and we changed it a little and we threw in a robot.

Oliver Dench: What is all about?

Bruce Miller: But it's just a way to again, this may go back to the writer strike where they just kind of take some property and twist it a little bit, and then the original creator gets nothing from it, right. So maybe they'll be protected. I hope to God that we don't see AI things. I hope they are not going to be the future. I have seen those some m good AI things, I got to tell you. Oddly enough, this last week, I went to see Expendables Four, okay? I swear that was written by a computer. It had to be. It was so bad. It was so bad. It's the kind of movie that when you go to it, you think, are they reading from teleprompters? They've got to be reading from teleprompters because you wouldn't remember this crappy dialogue if you tried. And then their eyes are darting and you think, that's got to be reading across the screen while they're looking at something. Plus, which they haul in people that you think, where did these people come from? I am not familiar with this person. I don't know if he's a big star in Korea or what he is, but apparently he's a big deal because he's in this show, so you don't know those things. And then they all back. And sure it's Sylvester Stallone. And Jason Statham star as the expendables that we remember. Dolph Lundgren's in there, too. And poor Dolph Lundgren has this bad wig that he wears, and they reference Farah Fawcett. And I'm thinking, who would remember Farah Fawcett's hairdo as the reason why you would reference Farrah Fawcett? You wouldn't. You just mean it doesn't work for today. I get it, but it's bad. And then they make a bad, bad joke about Stevie Wonder, which I think that is not relevant today, nor is it something you would include in your movie. And then you look at the film and you see that they have so much green screen in this sucker that basically it could have been shot in my backyard. There is no need for all of that and the special effects are really unspecial. The fight scenes are very bad. It goes down a list and you think, who talked them into this? This has got to be, clearly a money grab. And then, of course, you have the ultimate evidence that it is a money grab and that's that it has Andy Garcia in the film. Name a decent film that Andy Garcia has made in the last five years. You cannot but he's always in movies. He's in those book club movies. He's in all of these other kind. He plays this kind of role. And, I think, oh, Andy Garcia's here. That should be something to tell you. What's up with this? Megan Fox is in there, too, but you don't know really. What is she, an expendable? Is she really one of those people? And she turns out to be Jason Statham's girlfriend, but she has martial arts skills, so bring her with I think she can work on this. But that's where you get with this stuff. You think they're writing it. It's machines that are writing this crap because it sounds too unrealistic to even buy.

Terry Lipshetz: Nobody saw it. Nobody watched that movie. Do you see it opened? It got beaten by the nun, the nun two in the third weekend.

Bruce Miller: But, you put names like that and whenever they have a big list of names, this goes back many, many years. If you may remember, back in the 60s, cinerama was a big thing and, this widescreen stuff, and they would put casts of thousands in them. And how the west was won was one who had every big name star there was. Then we had the disaster films that had all the big name stars in it. And now we're into that era where it's action adventure, and it's usually people who aren't good actors, but they can do a dust hunt or two and then have a catchphrase or throw off a good liner now and then. And so it ends up being, this is how we're putting them in there. And, do we need it? I don't think we need it. The really strange thing is my phone fell off my lap into the seat. And they're recliner seats. And I must spend a good 15 minutes digging that chair to try and find the phone that I thought was actually more action and better action than what I was seeing on the screen.

Terry Lipshetz: People were watching you, if there was actually anybody there. And they're thinking, wow, this guy over here. This is the best part of the movie. Watch this guy dig for his phone.

Bruce Miller: I'm digging for the phone. And I tell you, if there was $50 bills in there, I don't know, there could have been money in that seat. When I started messing around, I did find popcorn, but so that was good. And I did get the phone. Ultimately, I did get the phone.

Terry Lipshetz: Well, that's good.

Andy Garcia was supposed to be the next Al Pacino

Terry Lipshetz: I am laughing now thinking, though, because you bring up Andy Garcia. And the first thing that comes to my mind is his addition to, the Godfather trilogy.

Bruce Miller: Right. He was kind of the next, Al Pacino. He was going to be the heir apparent. And he got great work, and he did great work. But now it's like that thing where you go, who else is in this? Andy Garcia. Let's get Andy. So he must play well with a certain audience. And they go, oh, yeah, Andy Garcia's in it. But I think he might be the sign of a bad movie now, because he's taking everything he can get. And it probably isn't reading the scripts. Because I thought he was a good actor at one point. I really did. But this crap.

Terry Lipshetz: he's going to.

Bruce Miller: Do the sequel to, Al's extra work.

Terry Lipshetz: He could instead of AI, they could use Andy Garcia to play a younger Al Pacino. There you go.

Bruce: What do we have coming up in our next few episodes

Terry Lipshetz: So what do we have coming up, Bruce, in our next few episodes?

Bruce Miller: I know I've got a lot of stuff for you. I've got, a, talk with the producers of Goosebumps. They've rebooted a well, actually, we could put it on this week. We could add it in. I'm doing it tomorrow. I'm talking to one of the actors from Hotel Portofino.

Terry Lipshetz: Okay. We can slip that in. Yeah.

Bruce Miller: it's Oliver Dench. Now, that name, does that ring a bell? Oliver Dench. Oliver Dench.

Terry Lipshetz: That name is it sounds a little.

Bruce Miller: It'S her nephew. Yeah. Working. And his dad was a big actor in, yeah. And he's the star of Hotel Portofino. He plays the son who comes back to help run the hotel. So we've got him coming up. I've got a number of films that are opening. But again, we're going to see where we sit if we can solve that actor strike. We're going to talk to some actors. Otherwise, you're going to get some producers. And I know you don't want in.

Terry Lipshetz: The worst case scenario, we'll be interviewing dogs barking at us.

Bruce Miller: And we'll get the dogs.

Terry Lipshetz: We'll get them. Paw patrol coming soon.

Bruce Miller: It could be good. I think it could be a good thing.

Terry Lipshetz: All right, so we'll go now to an interview with Oliver Dench. And then we will wrap up and see you again next week for another episode of Streamed and Screened.

Would you rather do shows in the present or the future

Bruce Miller: I look at the things you've done in the past. What period do you really like to be in? do you like to be in the present? Would you rather do shows that are in the present, things in the past, or things in the future?

Oliver Dench: It's interesting that I don't really think of the time period that much. When I think of work, obviously it comes into it. And obviously when we're shooting, there are differences like accent or manners or general etiquette of the things. But those aren't really the interesting things to me, I think the things that stay more essential to it, are interpersonal relationships and character. and they transcend time, really, or at least they transcend time in the kind of stuff that I would be doing and the kind of roles I would be interested in playing. I know there would be some really far out there, things really far out there character that could only exist in Sci-Fi. But in terms of the things I've done, I've always played humans.

Bruce Miller: That's good, right?

Lucian is very guarded in this film. Is that a product of the times or is that yeah

Oliver Dench: Yeah, which is good.

Bruce Miller: He seems so guarded. Is that a product of the times or is that yeah.

Oliver Dench: that is something I have found interesting about this time period in particular. But I think that applies to all characters. I think that one in particular, a lot of what is guarded about Lucian is a product of the times. But that would come up in any period. There would be reasons why people would be suppressing certain aspects of their personality and reasons why other things would be allowed to flourish. The fact that this is happening in the 20s just means there's a different buffet of things to choose from. But he is guarded. There's a lot of pressure on him.

Bruce Miller: Did you relate to him at all? Did you say, oh, yeah, I see this, or do you go, no, that's not me at all.

Oliver Dench: I've led a much more fortunate life than Lucian. I did not fight in World War I. So I think there's already, like, a massive jump of understanding that I couldn't really realistically, ever hope to, empathize with, but sympathize with. I absolutely can. And I think that's sort of our job as actors. There are a lot of things about Lucian that are different from me, but there's obviously a lot of myself that I bring into the character. And I think this is how I understand these social situations. Now I just have to layer on the different, things that Lucian is dealing with to try and make what I hope is somewhat interesting to watch.

You were pulled into the family business and you became an actor

Bruce Miller: pulling him into the family business is kind of a thing. Was that the way it was with you, too? You were pulled into the family business and you became an actor? Or was that always something you wanted to do?

Oliver Dench: No, that was something well, it wasn't always something I wanted to do. When I was very young, I had an idea that I wanted to be a marine biologist. And I don't know why it seems kind of off the wall, but I've spoken to lots of people I knew, and I think it was very in vogue when I was in my preteens to want to be a marine biologist, because loads of people seem to have this idea. I don't know if it was like a David Attenborough inspired thing or something that was happening on the BBC in the UK at the time. But lots of people I know inexplicably wanted to study jellyfish and things. I didn't end up being a marine biologist. I then wanted to be a chef for a while, but I'm not a massive fan of professional kitchens. When I did, like, the tiniest amount of work experience in, when I crumbled completely ineffectual. But no, I wanted to be an actor. I don't think I was pulled in any particular direction.

Bruce Miller: So what appealed to you about it is it just the idea that you get to be different people all the time?

Oliver Dench: Well, originally it was more poetic for me, and this hasn't really been, the type of work I've ended up doing, but I think while I wasn't pulled in certain directions, I was very lucky to have the family that I do, and my granddad, who was, a Shakespearean actor, on the stage. I was exposed to a lot of Shakespeare when I was growing up, and I loved that. I thought that was absolutely amazing. So originally, I think it was interest in text that made me want to act, because I thought it was so beautiful. I thought it was amazing. Made me want to write as well. But I think acting seemed, I don't know, more immediate, for me, and that's kind of what pulled me into it. The idea of character almost came secondarily to that, which I don't know if is how many people have kind of come into it. But that was definitely the pull for me.

Bruce Miller: Shakespearean, though, come on. I read that, and I can glaze over very quickly, especially at a young age. How do you attach to that? How do you say, like this, even though it's difficult to read?

Oliver Dench: Well, I think the first thing is, as everyone kind of says, it's not meant to be read. it must be heard. So if you have someone really skillful doing it, then it's amazing. If you have someone who's not very skillful doing it, then it's the most boring thing. Imagine it's difficult. It is really difficult. but I was lucky to have someone who was skillful at the beginning, sort of explain it to me, and then after that, it becomes, the more you're exposed to it, the more effectively you're able to interpret it. And that's almost a problem in its own right. I think that's often why it's so confusing is because the people who are putting on these plays often are people who are very exposed to it. So the language is very immediate for them. So they watch and they think, what's the problem? I understand every single word. I know it really well. An audience who is maybe not so exposed to it might find it more difficult to interpret. So I think that can be a problem in modern Shakespeare productions. but it is true, once you get into it, the more you read by the time you've read or watched a number of plays in a short span of time, it'll become easy. it just requires doing that work, which is why it's so elitist. It can be really elitist.

How difficult is it to memorize Shakespeare? Easier than some other plays

Bruce Miller: How difficult is it to memorize?

Oliver Dench: Easier.

Bruce Miller: Much easier, really.

Oliver Dench: It is much easier. Well, again, probably this might not be everyone's experience, and some of the plays are split differently. So some of the early plays are almost entirely verse, which means all the lines have rhythm. Or some of the early plays, almost all the lines have rhyme, which I think is actually really ugly often. and some of the later plays are more prosaic, which means that it's more difficult to learn. But when you're learning a speech and you've got the rhythm and the rhyme to rely on, I actually find that to be a great crutch in memorizing, because, you know, if you've got a single word wrong, when you're memorizing, if you're there going to me that is the question whether noble are in the blah blah blah blah. You understand when it goes, off the tracks. and that lets you know that you've messed up. Whereas some other stuff you can mumble through scenes for pages before you realize you've got everything wrong.

Bruce Miller: One of those you have a checklist then, and you start checking off the characters that you want to play.

Oliver Dench: I used to, not a physical checklist, but I definitely used to think that the most legitimizing career would be some John Gilgood like thing where you first play Romeo and then Troyless and then Hamlet and then blah, blah, kind.

Terry Lipshetz: Of work your way up.

Bruce Miller: Yeah.

Oliver Dench: Eventually you play Lear and then you die on stage and it'll be, wow, what an incredible experience. but I had to because it wasn't what I was doing. But I sort of let go of that some years ago. Not to say I wouldn't still want to play those parts, but I don't necessarily think they have to be in such a linear progression anymore. I feel as though when I was young, I felt like I was running out of time to play characters that meant something, to me. And in some ways that's true. There'll come a time where I'm less likely to be cast as Romeo. but in general, I think there's such a wealth of characters, not just in Shakespeare, but in everything, in other things that I hadn't really given attention to before, that one could never play everything that is interesting.

So doing television does allow you or afford you the opportunity to do theater

Bruce Miller: So doing television, does that allow you or afford you the opportunity to do theater? I mean, I'm assuming that it's very difficult to have a career in the theater these days because it isn't as financially viable, as it might be in television or in film.

Oliver Dench: Yeah. it still exists in London in quite a big way. I'm not saying that it's not an issue. And, theatre acting in general, tends to be underpaid, mainly because it's, under attended. and that's a problem for people who are trying to kind of carve out a career in theater. I guess, in that aspect, doing TV does let you, does give you more opportunities to kind of wait for theater jobs when they come. But it's also about what you're busy doing. And if you're running in certain circles, like, I haven't had a theater I haven't been meeting theater people in quite a long time because I've been shooting things. And that makes it difficult to have a career in theater because no one knows who I am comparatively. I know lots of people who do theater much more regularly, and they find it more difficult to meet people who are organizing TV jobs is difficult. It's complicated. I think the world is so big and vast now that it's difficult, to always be doing what you want when everything fits.

You say the best acting advice is do nothing. What was it like when you first tried to do something on camera

Bruce Miller: a Broadway actress told me that when she went to Hollywood, she realized that she was so stiff that she had no emotions because she was afraid she would be too broad on camera. What was it like when you first tried to do something on camera? Was it like, oh, my God, I got to watch, so I'm not, like, blinking. I have to watch. I'm not moving.

Oliver Dench: I've been through in the things I've done so far, which is not I'm not the most experienced actor in the world, but in the things I've done so far, I feel like I've come through a cycle of being terrified to do anything and thinking that the best acting advice was do nothing. And if you have an impulse, then squash it, and it's wrong and just be completely plain. And in some cases, that's true. In some cases, oddly, due to some quirk of human psychology, or how we recognize emotion, in some cases, we recognize a blank face as a number of different things, and we laud amazingly subtle performances. But I think it's important to not feel stifled by that. And I'm now at a stage where I think make a crazy choice and do something interesting and, hope that you have the skill that that will still come across as natural. And I think it has to exist somewhere between that, because just doing nothing forever is very stifling when you're on camera and even more stifling when you're on stage.

Bruce Miller: It's called soap opera. Right. You do nothing. Right? Yeah.

How did American television differ from British, uh, television

Bruce Miller: How did American television differ from British, television? this wasn't Pandora. That was an American production. Right?

Oliver Dench: That was an American production. Yeah. it doesn't really not essentially about what we're being asked to do. I know it does in a multitude of ways, but I find that very difficult to keep a handle on. Like, I know that the CW who broadcast Pandora want different things than PBS, who are broadcasting, hotel Portofino. I know that they have business plans and they have ideas, but that's, personally, for me, not my favorite way to interpret character and to work on a set. I find that kind of foggying and dizzying and confusing and kind of gets in the way of me feeling comfortable and natural in things. So I think the way I see that is I let the director worry about that. I let the directors and the producers worry about what they're going to do, and I'll just try and be here on set and be as mindful of what I'm doing as possible. And hopefully that fits into what the people around me want. I'm not saying they don't want different things or that it doesn't differ all know, English TV, the BBC is not different from, stars or whatever, but I find it more useful for me to try and concentrate just on the microscopic.

You hear about people with huge social media following getting roles

Bruce Miller: Well, how does all the social media how does that factor in? Because you hear about people who have this huge social media following, getting roles, and you're thinking, wait a minute, they have no talent. What is this?

Oliver Dench: I always think that I don't have any big grudges against people getting cast from things. Not for them personally. Because if they want to do it and someone wants to give them a job, then they're going to do it like anyone would. I don't have a lot of hate for people around me, or even I might have envy sometimes if they get jobs that I want. But the way I feel I kind of thought about social media a lot, but I'm not very good at it. I don't like it. I've never been one to tweet a lot. I have an instagram. I think I tried to delete it, but it's still up there. And I think my last post is from two years ago or something. for a long time, I kind of put a lot of stress on myself to get better at that. And then I realized that I don't really like it. And for me, the social media itself is quite damaging for my mental health. And that might be a good tool for getting cast. I know it helps. I know people want to cast people with big following, but considering I'm not good at that, I shouldn't beat myself up about it, and I should just let that go.

When you look at a career, where would you like to see yours go

Bruce Miller: So when you look at a career, where would you like to see yours go? What would be the ideal direction for you?

Oliver Dench: I'm not really sure. Like I said, when I was younger, I had a much clearer idea of here comes my M. Macbeth. Wonderful. But now, like I was saying earlier, I've realized that things have opened up to such a degree in terms of the style of things I would be playing that, I find it much more difficult to predict that. I hope I am working. And I hope I am happy. But I'd much rather think about my mental health being high, my own positivity being high, and me enjoying the work that I do and finding it interesting than I would think about, exactly where I'm going to be. Because my experience has been that whenever I imagine a job in a certain way, it doesn't always line up with, the way I expect my well being, the, place I expect my well being to be at. When I have that job, it's very easy to think when I get a TV job, I'll be very happy. And I don't think that's how my happiness has always moved. So as long as I find it interesting, then, and I'm working, then that'll.

Bruce Miller: Be do you plan know, I always need to go back to the theater because that's where I feel most welcome, or is that because didn't you do Cabaret this last? Yeah.

Oliver Dench: Yeah, I loved it. I love that show. I was very lucky to do Cabaret this year. in terms of my career, the question that you actually asked me before I started Rambling is, I would like to be doing a mix of things. I would like my career to be continuously mixed. I would like to do some theater and some screen work. I would like to write. I find the variation to be spicy and interesting and exciting. and I find that thrilling. I think that's what I want out of a career rather than something I don't have a particular magnetism back to the theater, and that's where I want to spend my time forever. I just want it to be varied and interesting and satisfying.

Bruce Miller: Do you look at your great aunt's career? I mean, come on. She's had the most varied career of anybody. Do you look at that like a, template for something like this?

Oliver Dench: Yeah, it would be unbelievable. But few people have a career as.

Bruce Miller: Amazing as come on. Yeah, right. But look, she did Cabaret, for God's sake.

Oliver Dench: Yes, she did, famously, very well.

Bruce Miller: But you did too, so go for it, they say.

Oliver Dench: But no, I absolutely if I could have a career that's half as wonderful as that, I'd be very happy.

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Streamed & Screened: Movie and TV Reviews and Interviews

A podcast about movies and TV, hosted by Bruce Miller, editor of the Sioux City Journal, and longtim 
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