What’s Wrong with Virginia

Review: there’s not much wrong with “Virginia”

June 22nd, 2012 at 7:14 am by under Entertainment

A strong performance from Jennifer Connelly as “Virginia” helps the movie formerly known as “What’s Wrong with Virginia” (when it filmed in West Michigan in 2009) stay interesting for the nearly two hour running time, but its a performance you really shouldn’t miss!

Warning to parents: “Virginia” is rated R for language and adult content… so you’ve been warned.

"Virginia" poster courtesy Entertainment One

(My spoiler-free review)

Sure there’s a lot going on in “Virginia” right from the start and there’s a lot to keep track of, but our main character is schizophrenic… and the movie follows a similar pattern of behavior and filmmaking.  There are a lot of elements and characters and parts of the movie are told out of order.  Its a formula that may be challenging at first, but when looking back on the big picture of the movie – its a movie that pays off.

Connelly puts on a show as “Virginia” – a troubled and disturbed single mother suffering from mental and physical health issues… but she wants the best for her son Emmett (Harrison Gilbertson – pictured below).  Connelly nails all the intricacies of this role, a performance worthy of some award consideration, even if its just from this reviewer. She is socially awkward and has an odd style of decorating and her choices in wardrobe, both very colorful palettes – like the very colorful characters surrounding “Virginia”.  There’s the sheriff with whom she’s had a 20-year affair (Ed Harris) – a politician who has a lot of baggage.  His wife, Mrs. Tipton (played by Amy Madigan) is the faithful politician’s wife who may be clueless to everything that’s going on in her family.   Emma Roberts is Emmett’s love interest and the sheriff’s very conservative straight-laced daughter. Toby Jones plays an oddball boardwalk owner where many of the scenes take place.  Carrie Preston is Virginia’s friend/neighbor that is caring but a little neurotic.  Yeardley Smith adds another dimension to Virginia’s colorful community of characters as a concerned but weak social worker.

In addition to all this character study, there’s an interesting story of a mother trying to take care of her son but also find a way to financially take care of herself.  There are some moments where the story nearly gets lost within itself and there are some story elements that movie only introduces but doesn’t explore… and its a little long – at nearly two hours.  But for the directorial debut of Dustin Lance Black and a movie filmed in West Michigan, its entertaining, engaging, full of character development, and we care about this very flawed main character – its a pretty good movie.


“Virginia” coming to Waterfront, theaters this summer

April 25th, 2012 at 1:18 pm by under Entertainment

The now re-titled “Virginia” will play at Waterfront Film Festival June 16th

"Virginia" poster courtesy Entertainment One

     A movie that filmed along the Lakeshore nearly three years ago will be showing at Michigan’s biggest film festival this summer.

      The Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris drama “Virginia” was originally titled “What’s Wrong with Virginia” when it filmed in more than 30 locations along the Lakeshore in the fall of 2009.   The movie debuted at the Toronto Film Festival in 2010, but was re-edited and now has the shorter title when it will play at a special screening at this year’s Waterfront Film Festival Saturday, June 16th.

     The production company says “Virginia” will also be in limited release May 18th… but so far, no word on when the movie will be in West Michigan theaters.

     “Virginia” spent six weeks filming along the Lakeshore in the fall of 2009 (October and November) in more than 30 locations including Holland, Grand Haven (City Hall), South Haven (North Beach), and Zeeland.   Some of the movie’s scenes were also filmed in New Jersey. 

     The movie also stars Emma Roberts, Amy Madigan, and Harrison Gilbertson was produced locally by TicTock Studios of Holland.  “Virginia” was the 2nd movie produced by TicTock studios, “Tug” was the first movie, which premiered at Waterfront Film Festival in 2010.   “Virginia” is being distributed by Entertainment One.

From Press Release:

“Virginia” coming to theaters this Spring

January 17th, 2012 at 6:38 pm by under Entertainment

After a re-edit, “What’s Wrong With Virginia” will finally be released three years after filming in West Michigan

Jennifer Connelly and Ed Harris in "What's Wrong with Virginia" photo courtesy TicTock Studios

“What’s Wrong with Virginia” will be hitting theaters this Spring, nearly three years since the movie filmed along West Michigan’s lakeshore during the fall of 2009.

Oscar winning writer Dustin Lance Black (“Milk”, also wrote script for “J.Edgar”) directed “Virginia”, but went back to the editing room after premiering the film at the Toronto Film Festival in 2010.   In a press release today, Black said “Screening this film for audiences in Toronto was an invaluable and enlightening experience”.

The independent studio/distributor Entertainment One (eOne) just acquired the North American distribution rights.

"Virginia" boardwalk extras in South Haven 10-26-09

The production spent six weeks of shooting around the Lakeshore of West Michigan, shooting scenes in Holland, Grand Haven (City Hall), South Haven (North Beach), and Zeeland.

The movie starring Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Emma Roberts, Amy Madigan and Harrison Gilbertson was produced locally by TicTock Studios of Holland.  “Virginia” was the 2nd movie produced by TicTock studios, “Tug” was the first movie, which premiered at Waterfront Film Festival in 2010.

The drama is set in the south and is “about Virginia (Connelly) a charming yet mentally ill mother, and the married Mormon sheriff (Harris) who may be the father of her son”, according to the release.  “As each character pursues their own brand of “The American Dream””, the release continues, “long-held secrets are threatened, begging the question, “What does it take to be a mother and is Virginia cut out for it?””

Ed harris and Jennifer Connelly in "What's Wrong with Virginia" photo courtesy TicTock Studios

"What's Wrong with Virginia" photo courtesy TicTock Studios

Back in 2009, the plot was descibed to me as: a sheriff (Harris) that sees his state senate bid slide away from him when his daughter begins to date the son of a woman (Connelly) with whom the sheriff has engaged in a 20-year affair.

“We’re excited to add Virginia to our 2012 slate and thrilled to have found a film that complements both our Canadian and US line-ups so well,” said Dylan Wiley, VP, Theatrical Marketing and Distribution, eOne Films US. “Dustin Lance Black has a unique style and a proven gift for captivating audiences and thus Virginia certainly fits our mandate,” Wiley continued.

Jennifer Connelly in "What's Wrong with Virginia" photo courtesy TicTock Studios

“What’s Wrong With Virginia” is expected to be released in theatres in the U.S. and Canada in Spring 2012.

Previous stories about “What’s Wrong with Virginia”: (more…)

Michigan Film Incentives 2 years old

April 7th, 2010 at 7:05 pm by under Entertainment

Michigan film incentives turn two years old

 Since the measure became law on April 7, 2008… 89 movie or TV productions have been completed… the film incentive package provides up to 40% percent refundable or transferable tax credit for projects in Michigan, with an additional 2% available for projects in core communities.

The associated press reports that: the tax credit program is projected to cost the state nearly $69 million for projects completed in 2009, not counting incentives given for permanent infrastructure projects, according to the Michigan Film Office.    The potential annual bill is higher — more than $100 million — but some projects weren’t finished and won’t get the tax credits.   A few lawmakers would prefer to use part of the tax incentive cash to help fill in a state budget shortfall of at least $1.5 billion headed into the fiscal year starting Oct. 1. Other detractors say the jobs created are just temporary.

Check out woodtv.com story for more on the incentives and the controversy

Production Facility opening in West Michigan

Hangar 42 Studios
Announced February 2010.  The nearly 500,000-square-foot full-service film production studio takes over the former Lear Plant at 2150 Alpine Ave NW in Walker.  Hangar42 Studios says it is Michigan’s first fully-financed major film studio to open utilizing the infrastructure credit as part of the Michigan Film Credit.  The studio expects to create 50-60 administrative positions and 750 – 1,000 additional jobs in its first three years of operation.  Expecting several projects in 2010. Crime drama “Gun” shot scenes at the facilties January 2010.

Highlights of movies filmed in West Michigan

Shot in the Holland area summer 2008 – one of the first movies to film in West Michigan after film incentives were passed.  Produced by Tic Tock Studios in Holland.  Starring: Haylie Duff, Sam Huntington, Sarah Drew, David Zellner, Maulik Pancholy, Wendi Mclendon-Covey, Yeardley Smith, Zachary Knighton. 
Scheduled to premiere at Newport Beach Film Festival in Newport Beach, California on April 29, 2010.

“High School”
Shot in Howell (mostly at now closed Parker High School campus) and Detroit summer 2008.  Starring Colin Hanks, Adrien Brody, Michael Chiklis, Michael Vartan, Sean Marquette, Matt Bush. 
Premiered January 24, 2010 at Sundance Film Festival in Utah, expecting a 2010 release.


“The Chaos (Steam) Experiment”
Shot in Grand Rapids area September 2008 – it was the first movie to film in Grand Rapids  after film incentives were passed.  Starring Val Kilmer, Armand Assante, Eric Roberts, Patrick Muldoon, Megan Brown, Eve Mauro, Quinn Duffy, Cordellia Reynolds. 
Grand Rapids premiere May 2009, released on DVD August 4, 2009 DVD release.   My review of “Chaos Experiment” (6.0/10)
Filmed on the campuses of Kalamazoo College and Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo for about three weeks in October/November 2008, other scenes were also filmed at various locations around Kalamazoo.  Starring Kyle Gallner, Laura Allen, Esai Morales.  
Premiered March 2010 at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, TX.

“Caught in the Crossfire”
Shot in Grand Rapids area May/June 2009.  Written/Directed by Brian Miller (EGR and GVSU grad).  Starring:  Chris Klein, Adam Rodriguez, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Christine Lakin, Richard T. Jones, Michael Matthias. 
West Michigan debut scheduled for May 11, 2010.  Limited release in the works.

“The Genesis Code”
Filmed at Calvin College and other West Michigan locations August 2009.  Produced by local production company American Saga Productions.  Starring: Logan Bartholomew, Kelsey Sanders, Louise Fletcher, Ernest Borgnine, Fred Thompson, Rich Franklin, Lance Henriksen, Rance Howard, Catherine Hicks. 
Premiere/release delayed from February 2010, new release date not yet scheduled.

“What’s Wrong with Virginia” 
Filmed in October/November 2009 in Holland, Grand Haven, South Haven, and Zeeland.   Written/directed by Dustin Lance Black and produced locally by TicTock Studios of Holland.  Starring: Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Emma Roberts, Amy Madigan, Yeardley Smith.  
Expecting 2010 release.

Filmed in Grand Rapids area and Walker December 2009/January 2010.  Directed by Jessy Terrero.  Starring: Val Kilmer, John Larroquette, James Remar, AnnaLynn McCord. 
Expected to make its world premiere at Cannes Film Festival May 2010.


History: 2009 blog post about Michigan Film Incentives turning 1 year old

Laff at the Movies


‘Virginia’ needs more extras – open casting nets locals

October 20th, 2009 at 8:16 am by under Entertainment

“What’s Wrong With Virginia” needs more local extras for South Haven scene

Michigan Casting Services is looking for as many people as possible on Monday, October 26th to create a crowd for a beach boardwalk scene in the movie “What’s Wrong With Virginia” starring Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Emma Roberts, Amy Madigan and Harrison Gilbertson.

The opportunity is open to anyone interested in participating.  Filming will take place on October 26 in South Haven, Michigan, weather permitting.   To register and to get more information, go to www.TicTockStudios.com and click on “Casting”.

Requirements for extras on the day of filming:
- Flexibility with time and schedule
- Willingness to stay for the entire shoot (up to 12 hours)
- Prepared to withstand possible cold temperatures. 
- You will be required to come in summer attire (warmer clothes may be worn over the summer attire when not filming)
- Under 18 years of age needs parent/guardian permission

The film is written and directed by Dustin Lance Black (“Milk”) and is produced by TicTock Studios of Holland.

In August, Michigan Casting Services held an open casting call and nearly 1,000 people were interviewed for a wide range of roles including speaking roles, stand-ins, and extras.   150 people received a call back to audition for roles big and small.  18 people were hired for speaking roles, 35 were hired as recurring background actors, and another 34 were hired as stand-ins.

Those include Dan Waterhouse of Holland, cast as Officer Lee, who is Sheriff Tipton’s (Ed Harris), right hand man.  Kevin Brown, a truck driver from Galesburg was cast as Jerry, the husband of
Betty (Carrie Preston) and neighbor of Virginia (Jennifer Connelly).   Jack Rutledge, a retired resident of Lowell was cast as the security guard at a bank that Virginia tries to rob.    In a supporting
role, Paul Walter Hauser of Hemlock was cast as Dale, the best friend of the lead character Emmett (Harrison Gilbertson).

Previous stories about “What’s Wrong with Virginia”: (more…)

Your house in new Movie?

September 17th, 2009 at 8:33 am by under Entertainment


As the Film Industry continues to build in West Michigan, we’ll see more options like this from a press release from TicTock Studios, as they get set to begin the production of ”What’s Wrong With Virginia”.

Details from press release:

TicTock Studios movie scouts are scouring West Michigan for a white, two story colonial to be used as a main location in the upcoming film “What’s Wrong With Virginia”.  The film is written by Academy Award Winner Dustin Lance Black (“Milk”) and stars Academy Award winner Jennifer Connelly, 4-time Academy Award Nominee Ed Harris, Academy Award Nominee Amy Madigan, and Emma Roberts.  

The house will serve as as the home of Harris’ character Richard Tipton and his wife Rosanna Tipton (Madigan) and their daughter Jessie Tipton (Roberts).

The description of the what scouts are looking for in the house:
- 2 story Colonial house
- White exterior
- Original (not remodeled) interior
- Dark wood is good
- Lived-in or vintage furniture is good
- Unfinished basement with at least 7 foot ceilings
- Office or Den area
- At least 1 or 2 large bedrooms
- Large front lawn is a plus but not essential

Filming in the house will last about one week.
Production on the movie is scheduled to begin September 28th.

If you want to submit your house to star in the film, (more…)

Cast change, call for extras for ‘What’s Wrong with Virginia’

August 11th, 2009 at 3:21 pm by under Entertainment

Ed Harris replaces Liam Neeson, open casting call for “What’s Wrong With Virginia”

Ed Harris interview 10/1/08jennifer-connelly






“What’s Wrong With Virginia” Casting Changes

TicTock Studios announces that Academy Award Nominee Ed Harris (“Appaloosa” (2009), “Gone Baby Gone” (2007), “A Beautiful Mind” (2001), “The Truman Show” (1998), “The Rock” (1996), “Apollo 13″ (1995)) is joining the cast.  Harris is replacing Liam Neeson as a sheriff that sees his state senate bid slide away from him when his daughter begins to date the son of a woman (Academy Award Winner Jennifer Connelly) with whom the sheriff has engaged in a 20-year affair.

Check out my interview with Ed Harris for “Appaloosa”

Academy Award-Winning screenwriter of “Milk”, Dustin Lance Black, wrote the story and will also direct.  Academy Award Nominee Gus Van Sant will executive produce.

The movie is expected to start shooting in September.

Here’s the details on the open casting call, from a press release: (more…)

Big stars coming to Michigan with ‘What’s Wrong with Virginia’

May 18th, 2009 at 8:26 am by under Entertainment

Connelly and Neeson will shoot “What’s Wrong with Virginia” in Michigan

jennifer-connellyliam-neesondustin-lance-blackNews straight out of Cannes Film Festival… Jennifer Connelly and Liam Neeson will shoot the movie “What’s Wrong with Virginia” in Michigan.

Oscar winning writer Dustin Lance Black (“Milk”) wrote the screenplay and will also make his directorial debut.

Gus Van Sant, Jay Froberg, and Greg Suess will be Executive Producers.

Holland’s TicTock Studios’ CEO Hopwood DePree and Scott Brooks of West Michigan based private investment firm Brooks Capital Management, LLC will finance the picture and will produce along with Christine Vachon and Eric Watson of Killer Films. 

Production is planning for a late summer start date in Michigan.

CinemaBlend gives this synopsis: Connelly will play a psychologically disturbed woman who’s been having a 20-year love affair with the local sheriff (Neeson). Things get even more complicated when her teenage son starts dating his daughter.

Variety gives this synopsis: Connelly will play the charming but psychologically disturbed mother of a 16-year-old son. Her 20-year clandestine love with a sheriff (Neeson), who is running for the state senate, is tested when her son begins a relationship with his daughter.