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Saturday, August 30, 2014

"I Wanted to Do Illmatic to Leave My Voice as Proof that I was Here." Concert Details and an Official Trailer for Nas' Documentary

After wowing audiences at this year's Tribeca Film Festival, we finally get to see an official trailer for rapper Nas' documentary, NAS: TIME IS ILLMATIC. For those of you who are uber fans of the artist--particularly his most celebrated album, Illmatic--will especially enjoy watching him reminisce on his childhood in Queens, challenges he faced and the people who have influenced him, including his musician father Olu Dara.

The clip also features interviews with other artists like Alicia Keys and Pharrell Williams, and footage from the making of his now 20-year-old album. But what is actually the most exciting part of this to me is that, coinciding with the documentary's theatrical release on October 1st, Nas will embark on a 14-city U.S. tour, performing the album in its entirety at each stop. Check out the tour dates below:

*Will not be screening NAS: TIME IS ILLMATIC

Oct. 2nd          Rochester, NY        Main Street Armony*

Oct. 3rd          Albany, NY             Palace Theatre

Oct. 4th          Washington D.C.      Lincoln Theatre (Matinee)

Oct. 5th          Glenside, PA            Keswick Theatre

Oct. 8th          Toronto, ON            Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Oct. 9th          Detroit, MI               The Fillmore Detroit

Oct. 10th        Hammond, IN          Horseshoe

Oct. 11th        Lincoln, NE              Bourbon Theatre*

Oct. 12th        Denver, CO             Paramount Theatre

Oct. 15th        Seattle, WA             Moore Theatre

Oct. 16th        Vancouver, BC        Vogue Theatre

Oct. 17th        Las Vegas, NV        The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas*

Oct. 18th        Los Angeles, CA      Orpheum Theatre

Oct. 19th        Oakland, CA            Fox Theater     

For more information, go to

Watch the trailer:   

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Gael Garcia Bernal is Tehran-Born Journalist Maziar Bahari in Jon Stewart's Directorial Debut

At first glance, the trailer for ROSEWATER looks hella random, especially for those like myself who have never heard of the project until today. While I love Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal, I wonder why he was cast to play a notable person of Tehran descent (when there are other available actors), and how funnyman Jon Stewart got involved as a director and screenwriter. Interestingly, the subject of the film, journalist Maziar Bahari, was featured in this satirical video that aired on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" soon before the he was detained and tortured by the Iranian government in 2009. So...yeah, awkward. But Stewart has always walked a fine line between politics and entertainment, so that may also have something to do with his interest in the project.

That aside, there is no denying Bernal's powerful performance in the 2-minute clip alone. Clearly he has risen to the challenge, and even kinda looks like Bahari in certain scenes. I'm not very familiar with Bahari's story, except that he was captured and imprisoned while on assignment in Iran back in 2009 (and that he himself is a filmmaker), but ROSEWATER looks riveting and timely considering current news headlines. And I'm always here for Bernal and the eternally underrated Shohreh Aghdashloo, who plays his mother. I am also interested to see how Stewart (who's also a producer on the film) will tackle such a heavy story as a new director, and what he's chosen to focus on in the film.

Read the synopsis:

Rosewater is based on The New York Times best-selling memoir “Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity, and Survival,” written by Maziar Bahari. The film marks the directorial debut of “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart, and stars Gael García Bernal.

Rosewater follows the Tehran-born Bahari, a broadcast journalist with Canadian citizenship. In June 2009, Bahari returned to Iran to interview Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who was the prime challenger to president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As Mousavi’s supporters rose up to protest Ahmadinejad’s victory declaration hours before the polls closed, Bahari endured personal risk by sending footage of the street riots to the BBC. Bahari was arrested by police, led by a man identifying himself only as “Rosewater,” who tortured and interrogated him over the next 118 days.

With Bahari’s wife leading an international campaign to have her husband freed, and Western media outlets keeping the story alive, Iranian authorities released Bahari on $300,000 bail and the promise he would act as a spy for the government.

Watch the trailer:

ROSEWATER will have its world premiere Friday at the Telluride Film Festival and is slated to hit theaters November 7th.

Brace Yourselves: SAW is Returning to Theaters for One Week Beginning on Halloween

Um, best news ever? For those millenials who weren't blessed enough to have grown up in the Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees eras have come to regard SAW as the messiah of horror franchises. And that's understandable, especially since the horror series was hailed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the “Most Successful Horror Franchise” of all time with all seven films grossing a total of $874 million worldwide. Even I was blown away by the first film, which debuted back on October 29th, 2004.

It was fresh, twisted, and gory--just when gore had staged a major comeback in the genre--and it had a very uncomfortable yet very real message that provided an eerier feel to it (the sin of not taking advantage of the life bestowed to you, and suffering the consequences from a masked villain named Jigsaw). It became tradition for my friend and I to watch each new film every Halloween like clockwork (until maybe the fourth film, which was just very meh). Fact of the matter was, SAW was a phenomenon, an event you supported each year along with the holiday.

But just when we thought that the event took its final bow back in 2010 with Saw 3D: The Final Chapter comes news from Lionsgate late yesterday announcing that the studio will re-release the first film, directed by James Wan (Insidious), in theaters for one week this year starting on Halloween (October 31st), ten years after it debuted on screen. My response? YAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSS. How exciting! We get to relive one of the most thoughtful American horror franchises in recent history on the big screen again.

From the press release:

“The launch of SAW was a signature event in Lionsgate’s history, establishing our first franchise and paving the way for our growth into a global studio,” said Lionsgate President of Acquisitions & Co-Productions Jason Constantine. “We are excited for our fans to revisit the twisted magic that first blew their minds on Halloween 2004.”

For those of you who haven't seen this franchise, 1) shame on you and 2) here's a little more on the premise:

Directed by Wan from a script penned by Whannell, SAW is a psychological thriller focusing on two men who wake up in a secure lair of a serial killer, with a dead body lying between them. The killer, nicknamed “Jigsaw,” leaves them tape recorded messages with details of how to make it out alive. The only way for one man to make it out alive is to do the unthinkable. The two men desperately try to find a way out, while also trying to figure out who's behind their kidnapping.

I am SO there. Who's with me?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Throwback Wednesday: Relive Nail-Biting Moments from SONS OF ANARCHY Before Its Final Season

If you're like me and have been a devoted fan of Sons of Anarchy for the past six seasons, then you are probably wondering one thing: When is Gemma gonna die? Just kidding (not really). I think Katey Sagal, who plays Gemma, the supreme "old lady" and "play mother" of the titular motorcycle club, is absolutely superb on the show. But Gemma is completely out of control, unleashing her wrath that culminated last season with the death of Tara (Maggie Siff), her daughter-in-law. *Insert wall slide here*

Oh, the drama. So many fatalities, so many alliances that went up in flames.

Season six of Sons of Anarchy is available on Blu-ray and DVD this week, courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, just in time for the seventh and final season which premieres September 9th at 10pm on FX. Eeep! I can't wait! But then it will be over and what will I do with myself then?!

To tie us over until the season premiere, let's look back on some of the most nail-biting scenes of the series featuring three of the most important characters, and prepare ourselves for the inevitable agony we will all face once this group of motorcycle thugs finally ride off into the sunset (or possibly off a cliff, given the show's history). Check 'em out:

Gemma Teller-Morrow (Katel Sagal):

Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam):

Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman):

Who else is excited?

Monday, August 25, 2014

AS ABOVE/SO BELOW: If You Call for Horror, It Will Come

While the new extended trailer for Universal Pictures' AS ABOVE/SO BELOW looks chilling in a The Descent kind of way, I still find myself asking these types of characters the one million dollar question: What did you expect would happen if you ventured down into the oldest mass grave in the world--in a deep, dark cave alone? My guess is nothing good.

But as in any genre movie, there's always a thrill-seeker, someone (or in this case a group of thrill-seekers) who is eagerly willing to put themselves in a dangerous situation--and maybe possibly get killed in the process. And the exciting part is, we as the audience get to watch it unfold. As generic, and awfully titled, as it appears, however, the new clip does do a good job at bringing the audience directly into the tunnel of horrors as the young group of explorers get far more than they bargained for when they descend into the Catacombs of Paris. More:

Miles of twisting catacombs lie beneath the streets of Paris, the eternal home to countless souls.  When a team of explorers ventures into the uncharted maze of bones, they uncover the dark secret that lies within this city of the dead.  A journey into madness and terror, As Above/So Below reaches deep into the human psyche to reveal the personal demons that come back to haunt us all. 

We are long overdue for a great psychological thriller right now and, judging by this synopsis it looks like AS ABOVE/SO BELOW might be just the thing to revive the subgenre. It's also worth noting that it was written and directed by the team who brought us the first two Quarantine films, underrated remakes inspired by the awesome Spanish horror series, Rec. So this could really be something. I'm ready.

AS ABOVE/SO BELOW will open in theaters Friday.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

It's Time to Take Back the Action Genre

Am I the only one tired of the "back for one last job" premise in action movies? You know, when the protagonist--usually of the male variety--is basking in retirement glow when he is called back for one last mission that he can't refuse? (See The November Man, Red, and The Equalizer for examples). As a longtime fan of the action genre, I can honestly admit that this trope is beyond tired at this point. And I think it has just as much to do with Hollywood's so-called creative bankruptcy as it does with the fact that our biggest action heroes are in fact of early retirement age. Even the films mentioned above star actors between the ages of 59-77.

Obviously, age is just a number (especially in Hollywood, and if you're a man) and an actor could still be kicking ass and taking names as long as they can draw an audience. Liam Neeson has certainly proven that time and time again as a baby booming action hero, and continues that streak in A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES. The film, in theaters September 19, stars the actor as--you guessed it--a former cop who gets pulled back into the field for a case too juicy for him to turn away from. *Insert yawn here*

I love Liam Neeson--God knows I do--but I really need him to sometimes make another type of film just to remind the young'uns that he can in fact deliver a performance that is not phoned in. Because this half stepping he's been doing lately is just not the way to the Promised Land.

Likewise, Keanu Reeves, 49, who has for nearly the last decade made a career out of starring in two-bit films, is also playing a man busting out of retirement to annihilate one more bad guy in the revenge action thriller, JOHN WICK (in theaters October 24). Honestly, as soon as I read this premise I immediately said to myself, Et Tu, Keanu? Another one bites the dust.

I just hope that these two films do one of two things: a) provide fresh takes on a drained trope, or b) do so poorly that Hollywood is forced to re-attack the genre from a new angle. Audiences need to be reminded that comic book adaptations aren't the only action films that can be exciting, smart, and nuanced. It's time to take back this genre.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

So Far, THE DROP Looks Pretty Excellent

Although the premise for the crime drama THE DROP sounds dark, gritty and captivating, I am woman enough to admit that I most want to see it because Tom Hardy and Matthias Schoenaerts are in it. Yeah, I said it. Before you judge me, have you seen Schoenaerts in Rust and Bone? Because...yeah.

Anyway, back to the movie. Hardy plays a small time criminal who gets caught in the middle of a larger scheme while running "money drops" for his cousin Marv (the late James Gandolfini). More:

THE DROP is a new crime drama from Michaël R. Roskam, the Academy Award nominated director of Bullhead. Based on a screenplay from Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone), THE DROP follows lonely bartender Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy) through a covert scheme of funneling cash to local gangsters - "money drops" in the underworld of Brooklyn bars. Under the heavy hand of his employer and cousin Marv (James Gandolfini), Bob finds himself at the center of a robbery gone awry and entwined in an investigation that digs deep into the neighborhood's past. Also featuring Noomi Rapace, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ann Dowd and John Ortiz.

Oh and Noomi Rapace too??? SOLD. I am officially all about this movie. Plus:

And then at one point this apparently happens in the movie:

But then:

I'm guessing there's some kind of love triangle happening (or Rapace's character is playing all sides), and I'm just going to have to pretend that I play Rapace's part in order to enjoy the scenario even more. 

Check out a few clips from the film below:

THE DROP hits theaters September 12. 

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