My Cousin Rachel: Exclusive Interview with Rachel Weisz!

My first gothic novel was Rebecca by Daphnedu Maurier, when I read it I had no idea that I would one day get the opportunity to interview the star of the film adaptation of one of her other beloved novels – My Cousin Rachel. I must admit that taking part in an interview with Rachel Weisz definitely topped some of my favorite blogging experiences ever. She’s been one of my favorite actresses since I first saw The Mummy as a kid. Since then I’ve loved so many of her other films, My Cousin Rachel being a new favorite.

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A dark and layered romance, My Cousin Rachel tells the story of a young Englishman who plots revenge against his mysterious and beautiful cousin, believing that she murdered his guardian.  His feelings become complicated as he finds himself falling helplessly and obsessively in love with her. The film stars Rachel Weisz, Sam Claflin, Holliday Grainger, Ian Glen, and Pierfrancesco Favino.

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The interview was conducted via telephone, as Rachel was in London to meet with the press on that side of the pond. She was incredibly lovely, and even though I haven’t yet met her in person I totally have already bragged to my friends and family about speaking to her. Here’s what she had to say about My Cousin Rachel:

Question: Did you decide in your own mind, whether Rachel was really poisoning Philip or did you keep it ambiguous and therefore be able to play it more ambiguously?

Rachel Weisz: No, I did decide as to whether she was guilty or innocent. But I kept it secret from the director, he didn’t want to know if I was one way or the other. But yes, I did make a definitive decision.

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The NYC Talon: I really loved the movie and Daphne has written so many interesting, provocative female characters. What is it that drew you to the script initially, and what did you find most compelling about the story?

RW: I liked the tale of obsession, this dark obsession, the thriller aspect, the kind of gothic atmosphere, the mystery, the tale of infatuation, the kind of did she or didn’t she element, that it was a complex character, she had lots of contradictions and couldn’t be pinned down, the fact that, it seems to have turned out that audiences are arguing about her innocence or guilt, which I think is really interesting.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about what feminism, or what you think being a feminist would’ve meant to your character?

RW: Well, in the 1850s I think to believe in sexual freedom and the freedom of sexual pleasure and the idea that what you aren’t destined for is simply marriage and that marriage would mean ownership by your husband, I think that was very, very radical for the 1850s.

Q: So what does feminism mean to you, personally, now?

RW: That’s a good question. I suppose equal rights but maybe different rights, because women are the ones who give birth so we need different supports at work in order to leave work and return to work. Men who own companies were once given birth to by women so I hope that they can understand that. So equal but maybe different rights.

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Q: Given all the mystery surrounding the character’s motive, first of all, who is Rachel to you and what qualities or traits would you say that you might share in common with the character and maybe where you differ?

RW: Well I guess how you see her, I mean it depends on whether she’s guilty or innocent. But if she’s innocent then, I mean either which way, I think she’s pretty independent, free-spirited, funny, provocative, mischievous, feminist, romantic, motherly, tender, angry.

Q: Do you share a lot of those or do you differ maybe a little bit from that character?

RW: I think I’m definitely mischievous. I’m feminist. I don’t speak Italian but I wish I did. I’m not in mourning. I’m not widowed. I’m likely not living in the 1850s, I get to vote. Yes, so I mean there are things that we share and things that we don’t.

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Q: Did you have any influences from the original film, or maybe did you even—

RW: I didn’t watch it, actually. I deliberately didn’t watch it because I didn’t want to have Olivia de Havilland’s interpretation at the back of my mind anywhere. So I’m free from, it’s like a virgin interpretation.

Q: Did you read the book as part of your preparation for your role? And I’m guessing you were already familiar with Du Maurier’s writings and I know you said Heather’s adaptations [ph] on film. So, were you already a fan of the author? Do you enjoy doing book adaptations?

RW: No I hadn’t read the book and I haven’t read any by Du Maurier even though she’s a very celebrated British writer. I just haven’t read any of her. But I did read the novel in preparation for the film and I think Roger did a fabulous adaptation. I think he brought a lot of the 20th Century, I haven’t seen the original film but, I think this is a more modern, edgy take on the film classic. The novel definitely has those elements in it. She’s a pretty radical character.

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Q: So do you enjoy doing book adaptations?

RW: I do, yes. About a Boy was an adaptation of a novel, Constant Gardener was an adaptation. I just made an adaptation of a novel, it hasn’t come out yet called Disobedience, which is a contemporary classic. You may not have heard of it, by Naomi Alderman. Yes, definitely, I love to do novel adaptions.

Q: Do you typically then, to prepare for the role, read the book?

RW: Yes. The great thing about a book is it’s not, everyone imagines the book differently so it’s not like a performance which is put down in a concrete way that you could just be haunted by, disturbed by when you’re trying to make your own version. So a book is open to interpretation and to do your own personal fantasy. So yes, I always read the books. It’s always great. It’s food, lots of food for thought.

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Q: Can you talk about the changes that have happened in Hollywood in the 20 years that you’ve been in it?

RW: Well, I don’t know. I’m not sure. I think they were in some ways better but I haven’t seen the Olivia de Havilland version. But back in the 50s and 40s and 30s there were many more films that had leading female characters, pictured films about women, Barbara Stanwyck, Olivia de Havilland, Betty Davis, Katherine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor. I mean it was just very normal to tell stories about women where men might’ve been not the center of the story.

I’m not a film historian so I don’t know. Maybe feminism happened and everyone got scared and they couldn’t handle women being so powerful in films. Because I think everything went pretty south there. I don’t know, in the course of my career, I don’t know. I just try and choose roles that are interesting and complicated and surprising. Yes, I’m not really aware of things changing for the better or for the worse but there are definitely less films being written by women for women, directed by women for women than there are by men for women. I’m not quite sure, I don’t have the statistics, but I’m not sure it’s that rosy.

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Q: This one’s just a little bit fun, just because Game of Thrones is starting up soon. Are you a Game of Thrones fan for one, and did you try to get any secrets out of Iain for the upcoming season?

RW: I’m not actually. I haven’t watched enough of Game of Thrones to talk about it intelligently. I know it’s a great series and there are avid fans out there so I wouldn’t want to compete with them. But I know my horse had been trained on Game of Thrones so my horse would have some secrets to tell.

That’s it! Pretty awesome, isn’t it? The movie is absolutely excellent – one of my favorite parts about the story is that while (and this is spoiler-y, so skip this paragraph if you haven’t seen the movie, read the book, or Wikipedia searched the story) Rachel’s role is sort of enigmatic and mysterious, there is more certainty where Phillip is involved. We never quite know for certain whether or not Rachel is predator or victim, whether or not she killed the uncle or even poisoned Phillip or set out to get her hands on his money. She’s unusual for the times, which makes her unpredictable and sort of a threat. But that doesn’t make her a murderer. Rachel’s presence creates a perfect opportunity for the masculine Phillip, who was raised by an Uncle who once saw little use for females, to reveal his own thought patterns and expectations of femininity. When things go badly, Phillip sends Rachel directly into harms way – in effect making him at least partly responsible for what happens to Rachel.

If you haven’t yet seen My Cousin Rachel, it’s in theaters now – so definitely give this thrilling gothic work view!

*This interview has been edited for length and clarity. The interview was conducted over the phone with a group of other journalists/bloggers. All photos are courtesy of Fox Searchlight, by Nicola Dove. © 2016 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved.*

Interview: Alice Through the Looking Glass Costume Designer Colleen Atwood

Earlier last month I joined Disney and famed designer Colleen Atwood for tea and a chance to talk about her work on Alice Through the Looking Glass, which has recently been released to DVD and Blu-Ray! I’ve been a fan of her work for a while, she has such an inspiring story and has designed for some of my most favorite movies including Edward Scissorhands, Little Women, Planet of the Apes (2001 movie), Big Fish, Memoirs of a Geisha, Into the Woods, The Huntsman movies, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and of course both of the Alice in Wonderland films.

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She’s so lovely in person, and I was so thrilled that I was able to, along with other bloggers and press, ask her a few questions.

Q: Are there any secret locations or places where you find inspiration?

Colleen Atwood: Well I find them everywhere, like fabric stores – sometimes I see a piece of fabric that’s great and I go “oh! That could be this!”. I get ideas from all over the place basically. There’s a great flea market in France, in Paris, that I go to in the north of Paris and it’s always great for inspiration for bits and pieces that are interesting. So many movies are made in London – this movie is made in London -and London has Portobello Road [flea market]. Which, sometimes I don’t really have a purpose in mind, I just get up early on Saturday morning and go there when it first opens, before it gets crowded and wander around and find like – he has a lot of weird buttons on his costume and most of those are sourced there and you know, old hat pins, just weird stuff people have in trays in front of their stalls and it’s fun to just discover things that way.

Q: Any favorite flea markets in New York?

CA: You know in New York I like the – and I meditated on going down there this morning – the one on 26th street, it’s like a garage you walk through and I love wandering around there. And there’s the emporium there that has some great stuff so I usually visit there. And there’s a great lingerie place there that’s beautiful, upstairs, it’s quite expensive but she has great stuff. There’s a few places, sort of warehouse wholesale, that I’ve gone to in Brooklyn but they’re not as accessible to people who are just walking around and shopping.

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Q: Time has a really distinct costume, what was your inspiration or thought process behind that?

CA: I wanted him to be, kind of feel like he was something to do with a clock without literally being a clock. And I also loved the sort of graphic aspect of the clock kind of towering over little Alice, luckily Sacha’s [Baron Cohen, who plays Time] already about 6’3”-6’4” so that helped that I didn’t get a short guy for the part. But I put him in really high platform boots for part of it, and then he has those long thin legs so we did long skinny legs and a poufy pant and the big shoulders to get him wider, sort of like a grandfather clock. And then we came up with an idea to get him even taller with using a tall hat on him like the bishop’s sort of medieval hat that he has, sort of like a Greek Orthodox style from way early in time. And in his fitting for that we had brown paper and we just kept putting it in different hat shapes and trying them on him and figuring out which one was the best for him and for Time, and we came up with that one and it was sort of maximum height. We had some that were taller but it was too much, it almost made him look shorter. In the movie you see on his hand he has a thing that has all these rings and stuff – that was a piece of metal mesh that I found in a flea market and then I found all these watches with convex lenses on them that stuck out so that they were like cabochon jewels, so we took those and made them into his hand piece to make it a sort of element of time. And the rest was all kinds of stuff, different materials. We had a long cape on him and then most of the time he wore the short cape because it made him look funnier with his skinny legs.

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Q: Movement is such a big part of this film, you chose to use very different textures in the fabric. Was that something that you just felt, touched it, and knew that this would be a great dynamic on the screen?

CA: I’ve done a lot of digital films at this point and know kind of what the camera sees, and especially when you go darker than a medium ground, it’s really important to have a texture and almost like a surface that has a little shine to it that kicks back some light. Otherwise all you get is sort of a black shape, you don’t really get much depth. So I’ve learned to paint into costumes, and add layers, add stuff to them to give it more dimension that way it’ll work in a lower light situation. So I use that trick a lot on this movie and I like texture, I think it tricks the camera in a way that’s interesting because sometimes you can’t even perceive what it is but it gives you a feeling that’s nice and a little bit more interesting than if you had just used a fabric as it comes off the peg.

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Q: Obviously designing for a sequel is going to be a lot different than the first time, what was your approach when you were revisited these characters and kind of built of the way that you already had designed for them?

CA: I felt like it was nice, I felt like I knew them. I knew who they were as people so I felt like I could have a little more play with them. I had a couple more opportunities because we had the flashback for the girls, where they were there kind of their teenaged selves, and then each of them had been on a journey. My constant was, other than her flashback, was Mirana – the Anne Hathaway character – her costume sort of remained the same. But Alice, when we left Alice she was going off to see the world and she came back as a very rare thing, a sea captain as a woman, so I had the opportunity to take the beautiful uniforms of the period and make one for her. Then we had to create her Chinese look from her Chinese journey, and then re-visit something that perhaps the Hatter had made for her in her final costume with the balloon pants and the kind of whimsical blouse made out of strips of fabric. So I kind of took each character and sort of felt like I could go free with them, it was sort of like a totally new movie for me as a designer but with the people that I knew from before.

Q: Is there one character from the movie that stands out as being the most enjoyable to design?

CA: Well, when you get a movie like this they’re all fun! Because they’re all such different things. I mean I love Helena’s costume and her take on the character is so much fun, and it was great to get to do her armor which I really loved doing with the thorn heart chest piece, and the military braid hoop and the sort of deconstructed military madness that the Red Queen would come up with. Mia’s clothes were great; I mean they were like a really beautiful journey. I got to use embroidery and all sorts of techniques that I hadn’t used before on the Alice prequel.

Listen to the entire interview here!

Alice Through the Looking Glass released to DVD and Blu-Ray on October 18th, if you don’t own it yet then it would make a great gift this holiday season! Alice Through the Looking Glass is a spectacular adventure featuring the unforgettable characters from Lewis Carroll’s beloved stories in which Alice returns to the whimsical world of Underland and travels back in time to save the Mad Hatter.

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Enter to win your own copy of Alice Through the Looking Glass right now – just leave me a comment about your favorite outfit in the movie, or if you haven’t seen it, is there anything you found interesting that Colleen revealed in her interview? Personally, I loved when she spoke about creating Time’s outfit – the amount of detail is really incredible! Leave an extra comment/entry if you RT this!

*Giveaway ends 11/23/16. US, 18+.

6 Ways to Welcome Spring in NYC

One second it’s pouring rain, and the next it’s gorgeous and sunny out – weather like this can only mean one thing – spring has finally come ‘round! It’s time to call up your bestie, emerge from winter hibernation, pop on your sunglasses and get brunching. We’ve pulled together some of our favorite ways to welcome in warmer weather here in NYC! What are your favorite spring spots?

Take a stroll around Central Park…

 

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A photo posted by Central Park Conservancy (@centralparknyc) on


I know, it’s the most overused recommendation ever. But it’s overused for a reason, we’ve lived here our entire lives and make time to stop by every season, it’s just that gorgeous. Pack up a picnic basket or a light snack and meander on one of the park’s many paths. Feeling a little more adventurous? Head up to 105th street and Broadway to the Conservatory Garden for a real spring treat. The six-acre formal garden opens at 8am and shutters at dusk.

Get cooking!

Cooking School

I love cooking during the spring. The weather is still friendly for baking, and there is an abundance of ingredients available at the farmer’s market to experiment with. Right now Gilt City has two excellent offers for the culinary inclined – learn to make doughnuts, buttery risotto, or Malaysian curry (among other dishes) at Chanterelle Cooking School in the Lower East Side.

Or, if you’ve already mastered the doughnut, you can also head over to Bhagavat Life, a center for holistic living where you’ll learn how to prepare vegetarian cuisine as well as the ancient principles of healthy living. Learn more here.

For the blushing bride…

Brides

I hear spring is the busiest season when it comes to walking down the aisle. On March 31st Brides Magazine is hosting a wedding photography workshop with expert wedding photographer, Brian Marcus. The workshop with teach you all of the insider secrets to the perfect poses – that way you can get your big day pose down pat. Hosted at Condé Nast’s One World Trade Center Photo Studio, the workshop will also feature mini hair trials by Eva Scrivo Salon and mini makeovers by Rouge New York.

Better with brunch!

Ristorante Morini

Sometimes I prefer to let someone else do the cooking for me. Luckily, NYC is chock full of amazing brunch spots. I recommend Bar Primi, Dominique Bistro, Catch, and Ristorante Morini. I love to look to Instagram for brunch/lunch recommendations, so tag me (@nyctalon) if you find a great spot too! My advice, keep an eye out for local deals, it’s a great way to try a new place. Right now you can score a three-course lunch for two for only $50 at Ristorante Morini, I just ate there and it was amazing, check it out here.

And a dash of entertainment…

Gwyneth

Hang out with Gwyneth Paltrow at the Baruch Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, April 12th. The award-winning actress and author will be sharing her new book “It’s All Easy: Delicious Weekday Recipes for the Super-Busy Home Cook”. When you go through this link, you can also score a one-year membership with the Hudson Union, as well as preferred seating, with your ticket purchase.

Do something eventful!

From street fairs to festivals, NYC turns out for the spring. My favorite events are cultural and food events (naturally). The Village Voice is hosting their first annual Brunch Eats Breakfast-For-Dinner Food Event, tickets just started going on sale today – pick them up here and enjoy mouthwatering brunch dishes all aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum’s Flight Deck! Sounds like an event that is not to be missed!

You could also catch MasterVoice’s Dido and Aeneas on April 28th and 29th, featuring Kelli O’hara, Victoria Clark, Elliot Madore, Anna Christy, and Sarah Mesko – I also hear that the gowns for this performance were designed by Christian Siriano, I bet they’re gorgeous! Tickets on sale here.

You can also pop in to any one of NYC’s amazing museums – I’ve been planning to go to The Frick Collection for ages and I’ve decided this is the year that I go, so I might just see you there!

What are you favorite places to stop by during springtime?

Behind-the-Scenes Look at P!nk’s Cover of “White Rabbit” for Disney’s Alice Through the Looking Glass

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Have you any idea why a raven is like a writing desk? Disney has released a brand new Alice Through the Looking Glass poster and some pretty exciting behind-the-scenes footage of P!nk’s cover of “White Rabbit”! She will also be writing and recording an original song that will be heard in the movie, which is set to hit theaters this May!

Alice Through the Looking Glass returns Alice back to the world of Underland and back in time to try to save the Mad Hatter. Watch the extended trailer here:

Starring many of our favorite voices, Alice Through the Looking Glass reunites Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska, Matt Lucas and Helena Bonham Carter and introduces new characters played by Rhys Ifans and Sacha Baron Cohen. Also back are the talented voices of Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall, Barbara Windsor and Paul Whitehouse, and they are joined by Toby Jones.

I cannot wait to see this movie, the 2010 Alice in Wonderland is one of my favorites!

#100FootJourney Gratin Dauphinois (Scalloped Potatoes) Recipe!

Food has the singular ability to bring people together, which is one reason why I’m gearing up to see The Hundred-Foot Journey this August. Starring Helen Mirren, The Hundred Foot Journey tells the tale of two cultures and people learning to live and grow together.

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If you’re like me and can’t wait to see the movie – especially those gratuitous food shots, here’s a great Gratin Dauphinois recipe (otherwise known as scalloped potatoes) courtesy of The Hundred-Foot Journey and Le Cordon Blue Cuisine Foundations, so it’s sure to make your mouth water!

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P.S. Here’s the trailer as well, if you haven’t had a chance to see it!

Disney’s Exciting New Maleficent Trailer Features New Lana Del Ray Song!

Lana Del Ray’s reimagined rendition of classic Disney tune”Once Upon a Dream” is amazing! If you haven’t yet heard it click here – where it’s free on Google Play for a limited time, or watch the trailer below to hear parts of the song. It’s a more haunting and dark version – and hearing in the trailer has gotten me all sorts of excited to see the movie!

Disney’s trend of familiarizing the audience with some pretty infamous villain’s (Loki – The Avengers, Theodora – Oz The Great and Powerful), continues with Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie. Maleficent tells the untold story of Sleeping Beauty‘s villain Maleficent, giving viewers a more complete picture of the classic tale. Starring Angelina Jolie as Maleficent, and Elle Fanning as Aurora,  I love the idea of seeing the untold story behind iconic characters and this one look’s like it’s going to be fantastic!

Lana Del Ray’s version of the fairytale tune will feature in Maleficent’s credits. Maleficent open’s in theaters on May 30th 2014!

New Trailer for Thor: The Dark World!

You all know that I’m pretty darn excited for the next Thor movie. Like I will be there, front of the line opening day. Me and my whole family. For real. On that note, if you’re as Thor-happy as I am you’ll want to bookmark (share, tweet, pin?) this post because there are a ton of exclusive images from Walt Disney & Marvel Studios that you’ll want to look at over and over again!

Having debuted as a part of Geek Week’s Super Wednesday here’s the new Thor: The Dark World trailer:

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New Posters Released for Oz The Great And Powerful!

So you guys already know that I’m pretty excited to see Oz The Great And Powerful – I remember falling in love with The Wizard of Oz when I was little (although the flying monkeys totally creeped me out), and cannot wait to see the magic that Disney has worked in creating a backstory for one of the most famous stories ever told!

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Judging by the way the trailer and how the posters look – this film is bound to get nominated for something! Right now I’m completely enthralled with the artwork featured in the movie posters – everything looks so vivid and whimsical. Plus, I can’t wait to see Rachel Weisz as Evanora, one of the three witches (I’m guessing she’s the darker more devious one of the three) of the Land of Oz!

Starring James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, and Zach Braff Oz The Great And Powerful is directed by Sam Raimi and slated for release on March 8, 2013. Until then, I’ve included the newest poster and a couple stills from Oz The Great And Powerful for your viewing pleasure – aren’t they beautiful?!

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OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL

Monsters Inc. in 3D Wishes You Happy Holidays!

Walt Disney Studios and Monsters Inc. wish you happy holidays!

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Being a 90s child, I cannot tell you how excited I am that Monsters Inc. is back – and in 3D! Monsters Inc. 3D hits theaters tomorrow – but you can print out these fun activity sheets right now! Keep your kiddos entertained with these mazes, doorhanger, coloring page, and hexaflexagon (try saying that three times fast)!image012

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I can’t wait to watch Sully, Mike, and Boo wreak havoc in Monstropolis again!

New Iron Man 3 Trailer Released!

After watching The Avengers (more times then I care to admit) I cannot wait for more Marvel movies! I already own Thor, and I can’t wait to add Captain America and The Avengers to my DVD collection this Christmas (I’m anticipating some serious Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales on these). While I wait to get my super-hero fix, I’m happy to share with you guys this bit of news- the new Iron Man 3’s trailer has just been released (available on iTunes Trailers here)!!! Whether you’re a fan of Tony Stark, The (drool-worthy) Avengers or of Marvel comics – you’re going to LOVE this movie!!!

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Stephanie Szostak, James Badge Dale with Jon Favreau and Ben Kingsley and directed by Shane Black, Iron Man 3 will be released on May 3, 2013 in inDigital 3D and RealD!!!

Can’t wait for more info about Iron Man 3??? Then follow the movie on facebook and/or twitter and check out the official movie site here!