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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

In Which I Ask, Did We Really Need Another NEIGHBORS Movie?



So, remember when I was all hyped about the first Neighbors film with Seth Rogen and Suddenly Sexy Zac Efron, about the two as rivaling residents? Let's just say that excitement quickly wore off after I actually watched the movie. It was...just ok. I would have preferred to re-watch The Burbs again.

Did it need a sequel? Of course not. But here we are again, stuck in the middle of Hollywood's pretend creative bankruptcy and hell. NEIGHBORS 2: SORORITY RISING pits the dueling pair, along with Rose Byrne reprising her role as Rogen's wife, against a whole new menace to the neighborhood. More in the synopsis below:

Returning stars Seth Rogen, Zac Efron and Rose Byrne are joined by Chloë Grace Moretz for Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, the follow-up to 2014's most popular original comedy. Nicholas Stoller again directs in a film that follows what happens when the will of parenthood goes against the bonds of sisterhood.

Now that Mac (Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Byrne) have a second baby on the way, they are ready to make the final move into adulthood: the suburbs. But just as they thought they'd reclaimed the neighborhood and were safe to sell, they learn that the new occupants next door are a sorority even more out of control than Teddy (Efron) and his brothers ever dreamed of being.

Tired of their school's sexist, restrictive system, the unorthodox ladies of Kappa Nu have decided to start a house where they can do whatever the hell they want. When Shelby (Moretz) and her sisters, Beth (Kiersey Clemons) and Nora (Beanie Feldstein), find the perfect place just off campus, they won't let the fact that it's located on a quiet street stand in their way of parties as epic as the guys throw.

Forced to turn to the one ex-neighbor with the skills to bring down the new Greeks next door, the Radners—alongside best friends Jimmy (Ike Barinholtz) and Paula (Carla Gallo)—bring in charismatic Teddy as their secret weapon. If he can infiltrate the sorority and charm his way through it, the thirtysomethings will shutter the Kappas' home. But if they think that their neighbors are going down without a fight, they have severely underestimated the power of youthful ingenuity and straight-up crazy.


I guess now we'll get to use who's worst to live by: men or women (or whatever this sorta franchise is trying to do). Universal Pictures have released a few new stills from the film to give us a taste of what to expect:






NEIGHBORS 2: SORORITY RISING opens May 20. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Tribeca Talks: Baz Luhrmann Makes a Case for the Return of Great Soundtracks


I'm not going to pretend to be much of a Baz Luhrmann film (I think his films are visually stunning yet awfully hollow), but when he announced that he was going to do THE GET DOWN, a drama series set at the birth of hip-hop for Netflix, I admit I was intrigued. Not optimistic, but more intrigued in the way in which I muttered to myself "this man is trying to ruin hip-hop now."

I am now more fascinated than ever at the idea of what he can bring to the project after watching this great Tribeca Talks program (which you can watch in its entirety above), in which he talks with fellow filmmaker Nelson George about music as text, and as an integral plot device. It's interesting when you think about the death of soundtracks in a way as they seem to have been all been replaced by lyrics-less musical scores. Which isn't a bad thing, but certainly is a sharp pivot. I do appreciate how passionate Luhrmann is about incorporating music into the actual narrative (even when it's not a straightforward musical). 

Here's a little more info on THE GET DOWN:

Creator Baz Luhrmann's first series for television, The Get Down focuses on 1970s New York - broken down and beaten up, violent, cash-strapped -- dying. Consigned to rubble, a rag-tag crew of South Bronx teenagers are nothings and nobodies with no one to shelter them - except each other, armed only with verbal games, improvised dance steps, some magic markers and spray cans. From Bronx tenements, to the SoHo art scene; from CBGB to Studio 54 and even the glass towers of the just-built World Trade Center, The Get Down is a mythic saga of how New York at the brink of bankruptcy gave birth to hip-hop - as told through the lives and music of the South Bronx kids who changed the city and the world...forever.

Giancarlo Esposito, Shameik Moore (Dope), Jaden Smith, and Jimmy Smits are among the cast. 

THE GET DOWN debuts on Netflix August 12. 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

For Those of You Who Don't Believe in Spoilers...



I know in the age of the Internet, you'd pretty much have to unplug your TV, throw out your computer and sit alone in the darkness of your own home in order to avoid spoilers. But still, I manage to avoid them about 90% of the time. Which means I definitely will not be watching the season premiere of Showtime's Penny Dreadful before its Sunday night airing, despite the network releasing it online in advance. But since I love you guys, I am giving it to you to watch here. Just remember: don't tell me anything about it. 

Happy viewing!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Can This Be the Blerd Romance Film We've Been Waiting For?



Who would have thunk it? First Lady Michelle and President Barack Obama have kinda been our favorite aunt and uncle for the past eight years. So the thought of watching a film that chronicles their love story is like watching a family home video--except much, much better. Or so I'd like to think (and hope).

Writer/director Richard Tanne's SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU just looks like freshly baked apple pie: warm, fulfilling, and oh so American. Not to mention, wonderfully blerdy. Because you know a film about the Obamas. with their countless causes, boundless intelligence, and unlimited charisma, can only be blerdy. Guys, this may be the first blerd love story we've seen in a loooong while. Also, Tika Sumpter (who shines in the trailer as Michelle Obama) is finally taking center stage on the big screen, alongside Parker Sawyers (who despite not really looking like Barack Obama, he's got his affectations down pat in the trailer). I really, really hope this is good.

Oh, and did I mention that John Legend is the executive producer? Which means the soundtrack is going to be immensely sweet and beautifully written.

Synopsis:

Inspired by Barack and Michelle Obama’s first date, SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU recounts the eventful summer day in 1989 when a young law firm associate named Barack Obama (Parker Sawyers) tried to woo lawyer Michelle Robinson (Tika Sumpter) during a daylong date that took them from the Art Institute of Chicago to a screening of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing to the site of their first kiss outside of an ice cream parlor.

Watch the trailer:



I'm here for it. Who's with me? 

SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU opens in theaters August 26. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Elodie Yung and Salma Hayek Round Out a Badass Cast for the Action Comedy, THE HITMAN'S BODYGUARD



After watching Elodie Yung in the second season of Netflix's Daredevil, I'd pretty much watch her in anything. Badass, beautiful, and maybe slightly insane (at least her character on the show is), she is reminding Hollywood that, yes, great female villains/antiheroes exist and are as equally fascinating to watch as their male counterparts.

But I digress. Yung is starring alongside the equally kickass Salma Hayek, Ryan Reynolds (who's still riding high from Deadpool), and His Eternal Coolness Samuel L. Jackson in the action comedy, THE HITMAN'S BODYGUARD. Now, I have been lukewarm on action comedies lately, mostly because the buddy cop trend has severely overstayed its welcome. But I am going to hold out hope because the cast is so great. More about the film:

"The Hitman's Bodyguard" is an action comedy about the world's top protection agent (Reynolds) and his new client: a notorious hitman who came in from the cold (Jackson). They've been on opposite ends of a bullet for years. They hate each other. Now they're stuck together and have 24 hours to get from England to The Hague. The only thing standing in their way is everything a murderous Eastern European dictator (Oldman) can throw at them.

The film stars Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, The Proposal) as protection agent Michael Bryce, Samuel L. Jackson (The Legend of Tarzan, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight) as hitman Darius Kincaid, and Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight Rises, The Dark Knight) as Eastern European dictator Vladislav Dukhovich. The movie also features Salma Hayek (Grown Ups, Tale of Tales, Frida) as Darius' wife Sonia Kincaid, and Elodie Yung (Daredevil, The 

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) as Interpol agent Amelia Roussel.

Principal photography began yesterday in London. I'll keep you updated as I learn more. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

SNOWDEN Trailer: It's All Fun and Games Until Nicolas Cage Shows Up

But seriously, why wasn't I prepared with information that Nicolas Cage (perennially sloppy scene chomper) was in SNOWDEN? That really lowers the bar. This is actually Joseph Gordon-Levitt's movie. He's playing the infamous Edward Snowden in Oliver Stone's new thriller, which also stars (my boo) Timothy Olyphant, Melissa Leo, (the sleep-inducing) Shailene Woodley, Tom Wilkinson, and Zachary Quinto. Which means the film is going to be all kinds of erratic, but maybe with a few great performances.

The trailer (seen below) isn't really exciting to me, but I just have to trust Gordon-Levitt, Olyphant, Leo, Wilkinson and Quinto to really deliver. More in the synopsis:

Academy Award®-winning director Oliver Stone, who brought Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July, Wall Street and JFK to the big screen, tackles the most important and fascinating true story of the 21st century. Snowden, the politically-charged, pulse-pounding thriller starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Shailene Woodley, reveals the incredible untold personal story of Edward Snowden, the polarizing figure who exposed shocking illegal surveillance activities by the NSA and became one of the most wanted men in the world. He is considered a hero by some, and a traitor by others. No matter which you believe, the epic story of why he did it, who he left behind, and how he pulled it off makes for one of the most compelling films of the year.

Check it out:



SNOWDEN hits theaters September 16. Thoughts?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tribeca Review of HOLIDAYS: Why is it So Hard to Make a Great Horror Anthology?



It doesn't matter how optimistic I am to watch them, horror anthologies are almost never good. You can cast a bunch of A-listers, bring in talent directors, but somehow they're still going to stink. But why? Why does it always feel like I'm watching a two-hour marathon of corny to horrible short horror films that have little to no significant connection? Why can't they ever be good?

I pondered this as I watched HOLIDAYS, a new horror anthology which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival (and was miraculously acquired for theatrical release by Vertical Entertainment). Related only by the fact that they are all set around a holiday (Mother's Day, St. Patrick's Day, etc), each film presents a promising premise yet falls apart before its ending credits (sometimes within the first two minutes). Whether it's the poor execution, as in the story of the woman who finds out she's pregnant with a creature baby, or the frustratingly false conclusion, as in the story of the young girl who learns that the Easter Bunny isn't as warm and fuzzy as she thought he'd be, each of them disappoints.

Some of the films could have actually worked better as standalone features (especially the one about a woman who's abducted by a fertility cult), though that would defeat the style and allure of the anthology. But if you don't connect the stories in a smart way (say, having the same actors play different roles in each story, or tying each narrative together with a single theme) or provide a great 10-15 minute story, what's the point?

Rating: D+ (** out of *****)

Watch the surprisingly great trailer:



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