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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Watch The Moody New Trailer for Zombie Drama MAGGIE, Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin

You may remember a few weeks ago I included Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin's upcoming drama, MAGGIE, among the films I am looking forward to at the Tribeca Film Festival -- mostly because the premise has a Warm Bodies vibe to it (which I love) and I am anxious to see Schwarzenegger not be an action hero for a change. I also think Breslin is one of the most underrated working actresses right now.

Here's a recap of the synopsis:

When a deadly zombie virus sweeps the nation, a father will stop at nothing to save his infected daughter in this post-apocalyptic thriller starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin.
Today brings us the first look at the trailer, which is appropriately moody as most other post-apocalyptic stories but also surprisingly sad. Check it out:

Thoughts? MAGGIE will open in theaters and On Demand May 8. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

PARIAH Star Adepero Oduye's Directorial Debut Set to Premiere This Weekend in NYC

Ever since her breakout performance in Pariah (2011), I've kept one eye on Adepero Oduye. Okay, I didn't love Lifetime TV's completely useless remake of Steel Magnolias, in which she starred, and her long-grieving performance in 12 Years a Slave didn't really allow her to explore the nuance of more complex characters in which she excels. However, I know with the right role Oduye can deliver an absolutely heartbreaking performance.

But first, the actress is trying her hand at acting and directing with BREAKING IN, a topical new narrative short film that's debuting at the Brooklyn Girl Film Festival in New York City Saturday, March 28.

I only heard about this project earlier today on Twitter when the actress tweeted the following:

From the festival website, I was able to gather this very brief synopsis:

One afternoon in Sunset Park, another black boy gets broken in by the NYPD.

So it sounds like the film explores the socio-political narrative of racial profiling and the police that has become a hot-button topic of conversation among millenials and political experts alike. I'm looking forward to it.

I'll keep you updated on this project as I learn more.

Monday, March 23, 2015

New Featurette for FURIOUS 7: "You Get to Say Goodbye to Someone Really Special"

You know that amid the completely implausible but awesome car stunts, we're all going to be boo-hooing by the ending credits of FURIOUS 7, right? At least, I know I will be. Because pretty much all the clips and interviews I've read about the new film (in theaters April 3rd) have alluded to the fact that there will likely be a really touching sendoff for the late Paul Walker. And I'm just not ready to face that.

But alas, from the look of today's new featurette, all great things must come to end. Though Walker and his car gang won't go out without one last brouhaha. As Vin Diesel says in the video, "The Fast & Furious saga is growing up," so much of what we'll see may be a more mature, emotional portrayal of these characters (yet not without the wild antics that die-hard fans of the franchise have come to expect and love). Watch:

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Tom Cruise Reminds Us that He's Still the Most Reliable Action Star We've Got

Let it be known that before Denzel Washington and Liam Neeson began smashing heads on the big screen, and before Paul Walker and Vin Diesel personified what it means to be fast and furious, Tom Cruise redefined the big screen action genre with death-defying stunts (like dangling on the outside of a speeding plane) and oh-so-cool dialogue in the blockbuster franchise, Mission Impossible

Now, nearly 20 years since the first film, Cruise returns with the fifth installment, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE ROGUE NATION. And judging by the teaser trailer alone, he's still got that same fierce commitment to the epic spy thriller as ever before (bags under his eyes and all). Returning cast members Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames (as well as franchise newbie Alec Baldwin) are also along for the ride. More on the film in the synopsis:

Ethan and team take on their most impossible mission yet, eradicating the Syndicate – an International rogue organization as highly skilled as they are, committed to destroying the IMF.

Watch the clip:

Read this USA Today interview with Tom Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie (Jack Reacher), and watch MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE ROGUE NATION when it hits theaters July 31. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Time to Feel Old. GOODFELLAS Was Released in Theaters a Quarter Century Ago

This is definitely one of those "God, you're old" moments. I mean, has it already been TWENTY-FIVE years since Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas? Let me go lie in my grave now then...

For those of you who aren't familiar with this classic gangster film, here's a little more info:

Starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Ray Liotta and Paul Sorvino, Goodfellas is an acclaimed 1990 Academy Award-nominated classic based on the true-crime bestseller “Wiseguy” by Nicholas Pileggi

To honor the film's quarter century of existence, the Tribeca Film Festival (with likely a big push from Co-Founder De Niro) will close out on April 25 with a screening of the 1990 gangster film, followed by a Q&A and discussion with the film’s creators and cast members.

In a press release issued today from the festival, Scorsese expressed his excitement: “I was so excited to learn that this picture, now 25 years old, would be closing this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. Excited and moved. It was an adventure to get it on screen—we wanted to make a movie that was true to Nick Pileggi’s book and to the life of Henry Hill and his friends, which means that we broke some rules and took some risks. So it’s heartening to know that GoodFellas has come to mean so much to so many people. It’s wonderful to see one of your pictures revived and re-seen, but to see it closing Tribeca, a festival of new movies, means the world to me.”

And the anniversary celebrations won't end there. On May 5, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) will release GoodFellas 25th Anniversary on Blu-ray and Digital HD which will include the new documentary, “Scorsese’s GoodFellas,” featuring interviews with De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta and more.
Tickets for the 25th anniversary screening will be available to American Express Card Members on March 23 and to the public on March 28 via

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

David Oyelowo to Star as a Real-Life Murderer and Accused Rapist in CAPTIVE

Honestly, every time I hear that David Oyelowo has been cast in a new film, I feel like doing a little cheerleader chant. I am just so thrilled that he is finally getting the recognition he deserves. Even better, he's not being pidgeon holed into any one particular role. From stepping into the giant shoes of Martin Luther King in Selma to playing a long distance love interest in the upcoming Americanah adaptation, he has proven that he's not a one-note

But he has yet to play a hard core villain, save for his role in the forgettable Jack Reacher (if you count that). That will change for next role in CAPTIVE, which he co-produced and stars as a real-life fugitive, murderer and accused rapist who terrorizes a woman played by Kate Mara (House of Cards). More after the jump:

The film tells the dramatic, thrilling and spiritual true story of Ashley Smith (Mara), a single mother and recovering drug addict who was taken hostage in her own apartment by fugitive, murderer and accused rapist Brian Nichols (Oyelowo). With her back against the wall, Smith turned to the personal spiritual journey of Rick Warren’s best-selling book The Purpose Driven Life in an attempt to survive and help Brian find a better way out.

The premise kinda lost me once they brought in Rick Warren and this whole "spiritual" journey. It's been a while since I've seen a spiritual story on the big screen that I didn't roll my eyes at. But Oyelowo has been pretty good about choosing films lately, and I like Mara well enough. So...I guess we'll just see how this goes. Oh, and Oyelowo's wife Jessica will appear in the film, as well as Michael K. Williams, who makes everything better. 

CAPTIVE is based on the book Unlikely Angel: The Untold Story of the Atlanta Hostage Hero by Ashley Smith with Stacy Mattingly. The film is directed by Jerry Jameson (TV's Mod Squad, Andy Griffith Show), from a screenplay by Brad Bird (Not Easily Broken, TV's Touched by an Angel). Paramount Pictures will release the film on September 18. 


Monday, March 16, 2015

KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER: A Runaway Nerd Looking for Meaning

Let me say this first: Any time we get to see Rinki Kikuchi in a film it's a treat. Not only is her filmography diverse and so completely unexpected from the traditional Hollywood typecast of Asian actresses, but she delivers. Each and every time. Though that aside, KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER might be the most peculiar film she's done to date.

To say the movie is quirky would be an understatement. I mean, it's about a woman named Kumiko (Kikuchi) who becomes so obsessed with the buried suitcase filled with cash from the Coen brothers' film Fargo that she embarks on a journey to go find it. Oh, and she lives in Japan, so this is a rather far and rather determined trip. Okay, I'll admit that the premise is ridiculous. But that aside, the film actually touches on other issues within the realms of feminism and tradition that other more commonplace Hollywood films don't even go near. So there's that.

We already presume from the general plot that Kumiko may be a little...strange. Actually, she's just reclusive, socially awkward, desperate for a purpose outside of her mind-numbing job, and  the stigma of being a single woman "of a certain age" and friends and family who simply don't get her. She is looking for meaning. And she finds that when she assumes a role in a fictional movie, and gives it a new plot -- one in which she has a stronger, more heroic role than she does even in her actual life. Is that the definition of crazy? Not in this movie.

There's a deeper exploration of character in KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER that goes beyond the surface story. It's the idea of self-actualization by way of searching for a purpose in a place you least expect it: in this case, a fictional film. What drives a woman like Kumiko to this level of fantasy, to the point in which she actually leaves her native country in order to experience what it feels like to actually accomplish something -- even if no one else can understand it? Well, a dreamer, someone who is unfulfilled, who doesn't feel she has anything to lose. It doesn't really matter whether or not the money is real, it's Kumiko's restored ambition that adds heart to this otherwise odd film. And Kikuchi plays that up well as she breathes life into a character that is not accessible in the beginning of the film. By the end, when she finally achieves the connection she'd been searching for, the audience also feels closer to her.

The Zellner brothers (director David and co-writer Nathan) have obviously borrowed a page from the Coen brothers (whose filmography continues to inspire offbeat spin-offs on the big and small screens). Their work in KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER reminds me of the quirky, uninhibited early work of the Coens. The film isn't polished, perhaps on purpose, but it's endearing, special even. I look forward to seeing more from this team.

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

KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER will open in theaters on March 18th in New York City and on March 20th in Los Angeles.

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