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Monday, March 31, 2014

Watch Three New Clips From 'FRANKIE & ALICE', The New Drama Starring Halle Berry (In Theaters Friday)

This Friday marks the long-awaited release of Halle Berry's resurfaced drama, FRANKIE & ALICE, and Lionsgate and CodeBlack Films (the studios producing the film) have unveiled a few new clips from the film in anticipation.

In case you missed my previous post about the film on this site, you can refer to it here. Here's a recap of the film's premise:

From Codeblack Films and the executive producers of INTRODUCING DOROTHY DANDRIDGE and LACKAWANNA BLUES comes a mind-bending drama starring Academy Award® Winner and Golden Globe® Nominee Halle Berry (THE CALL, MONSTER'S BALL). FRANKIE & ALICE is inspired by the remarkable true story of an African American go-go dancer "Frankie" with multiple personalities (dissociative identity disorder or “DID”) who struggles to remain her true self while fighting against two very unique alter egos: a seven-year-old child named Genius and a Southern white racist woman named Alice. In order to stop the multiple voices in her head, Frankie (Halle Berry) works together with a psychotherapist (Stellan Skarsgard) to uncover and overcome the mystery of the inner ghosts that haunt her. Always at the forefront of women’s issues, from Halle Berry, Academy Award® winner turned film producer, comes a must-see, award-worthy film FRANKIE & ALICE - a moving psychological drama inspired by a woman suffering with multiple personality disorder in early 1970s Los Angeles.

Watch the clips:






FRANKIE & ALICE is in theaters Friday.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Cinema In Noir: What About All The Iconic Actresses Of Color?

I'm a sucker for top ten lists of any kind--Best Gangster Movies Of All Time, Most Memorable TV Deaths, Best Yoga Poses For Your Back. Give me a list, and I'm likely to click on it. So when I was looking up who other sites consider the most iconic actresses of all time, I couldn't help but notice the glaring omission of actresses of color on pretty much every single list I read (note: when I looked up specific searches like "most iconic Latina actresses" of course those lists looked a lot different).

Which brings us to one of tonight's Cinema in Noir topic: who are some of the most iconic actresses of color of all time? With the constant focus on Marilyn Monroe, still one of the most imitated stars ever, we thought it would be important to spotlight some of the iconic actresses of color that often go missing from the conversation--Hollywood veterans such as Eartha Kitt, Rita Moreno and Anna May Wong. Not so surprisingly, we still have a ways to go before more minority actresses like them receive the recognition they deserve.

Also on the show we discussed the so-called "post-racial revolution" that many sites have been delving into lately, most recently with the success of such diverse fantasy and sci-fi TV shows as Arrow and Sleepy Hollow. And with that came a conversation the differences between diversity and what it means to be post-racial. These two things are not equitable. Repeat: THEY ARE NOT THE SAME CONCEPT. While we appreciate that people are starting to take notice of the accessibility of multiracial casts gaining momentum mostly on the small screen, we want to make clear that this does not mean that the topic of race is still not considered a challenge in and beyond. You can read the articles we referred to in our discussion here and here.

In addition to our two main topics, we had our trailer talk (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Purge: Anarchy) and covered the latest casting headlines.

Missed the show? Listen to a recap here.

Friday, March 28, 2014

"What Do You Mean You Don't Watch Scandal?"



Raise your hand if you've ever been asked this question and immediately rolled your eyes. If you're on Twitter during the 10pm hour on Thursdays, chances are you you know exactly what I'm talking about. Scandal, the ABC political drama/soap opera now in its third season, has captured the attention of countless devotees of Shonda Rhimes (creator and writer of the show) who will do anything in their power to try to convert you to their side.

While I am a big fan of the show's star, Kerry Washington, who plays a tough-as-nails political spin doctor who's also entangled in a vicious love triangle with none other than the President of the United States, and even eagerly watched the first season and a half, I quickly grew tired of its aggressively maudlin approach and lack of character depth at the time and stopped watching it altogether. I realized that I was slowly losing a connection with the show at the start of its second season, which was around the time that I began live hate-tweeting about the show. That's when I knew Scandal really just wasn't for me, and there really was no need for me to rain on anyone else's parade. So I jumped off the Scandal live tweeting train.

Why watch something I don't like when I can be watching something I do like, right? Like the remaining episodes in season 7 and 8 of Dexter that I am still wading through, or the complete West Wing and Alias series--both of which have been collecting dust in my queue for eons. There just isn't enough time in the day to be spending it watching something I hate. Makes sense, right? Wrong, according to the people of twitter, a social platform by which people either vindicate or vilify you simply based off your choices in TV and film alone.

It's a rather fine line to walk when you don't like something seemingly so universally loved as Scandal. Despite my efforts to never tweet about the show anymore (I can't really comment on something I no longer watch anyway), the show's fans still find me each week and ask why I am not flooding everyone's timelines during the bewitching hour of live tweeting along with the rest of the world. My answer: Because I don't watch the show. Their response: What?! Why?! Ugh, the dreaded question that really cannot be answered in 140 characters. I think the better question here would be for me to ask why you are policing twitter for Scandal traitors? Why aren't you too busy enjoying your show along with the millions of other twitter fans? Seems kinda strange to divert your attention to me, while I'm blissfully live-tweeting Elementary and Parenthood (yes, I somehow manage to watch both shows at the same time) with the five other people who watch it as well. I don't patrol twitter for people who don't care to watch the wild sh*t that is going down on Justified. Sure, I think they're all missing out on some great TV but who am I to judge them? That's just more Timothy Olyphant for me to enjoy all by my lonesome.

I truly love the live-tweeting movement, and the relationships it has sparked on twitter. Really, I do. I like that it creates a virtual viewing experience that only enhances the pleasure of watching the show. In fact, I think it makes watching certain shows even better than they are (*cough* American Idol *cough). But we really need to get to a place where we can live-tweet our favorite show without waiting for it to be validated by the people of twitter, or searching for the two people who don't bother to watch the same thing you do just so you can judge them openly. Our twitter obsession makes it easy to peer over the viewing habits of others who choose to live-tweet, but there's just no reason for the weekly Scandal role call. No, I don't like the show. No, I don't want to try watching the show again, despite those who say "it's gotten soooo much better, though!" But please, continue to inundate my timeline with an explicit play-by-play of each scene. I find those tweets a helluva lot more entertaining than the actual show anyway.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning And Peter Sarsgaard Are An Ominous Trio In The Trailer For The Environmental Thriller, 'NIGHT MOVES'


Is it me or does Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) have only one facial expression? This isn't a knock on the actor, per se. But I do think it's pretty convenient that he manages to make every character he plays seem like the exact same person--slightly creepy, awkward but oddly fascinating (which makes him the perfect Lex Luthor?)

I thought of this when I watched the new trailer for NIGHT MOVES (shown above), the upcoming thriller that teams Eisenberg with Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard. You may remember I first mentioned this film a few weeks ago in a post that highlighted a few promising titles on this year's Tribeca Film Festival slate. Though the clip doesn't give much away about the plot (all we see are three ominous individuals trading tense glances at each other, alluding to a presumably dangerous scheme that they're all involved in somehow), but it does manage to grab my attention in a subtle Zodiac kind of way. Here's the actual plot synopsis:

Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, and Peter Sarsgaard star as radical activists plotting to blow up Oregon's Green Peter Dam in an act of environmental sabotage. As their plan marches towards fruition, they soon discover that small steps have enormous consequences. Old Joy and Wendy and Lucy director Kelly Reichardt crafts another graceful and absorbing film about outsiders searching for a meaningful place on the edges of the system in this atmospheric suspense thriller.

Thoughts? As I mentioned before on the site, I thought Brit Marling's The East was pretty excellent, so I am hoping this environmental thriller follows in those footsteps. It will be interesting to see Fanning in a darker role like this (I'm not counting whatever she did in the Twilight movies). Reichardt gained quite a following with films like Meek's Cutoff and Wendy and Lucy (neither of which I've seen), so I'm sure expectations are pretty high for this new film.

NIGHT MOVES is in theaters May 30th. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

James Brown and Björk Documentaries Added to Next Month's Tribeca Film Festival Lineup (Plus, Ticket Information for Nas' TIME IS ILLMATIC)

Just when I thought next month's Tribeca Film Festival in New York City had already unveiled their full lineup of films, today brings the announcement of two newly added music documentaries for which you may want to keep your ears perked. The first one is Oscar winner Alex Gibney’s work-in-progress, Untitled James Brown Documentary, and the second is the world premiere of Björk: Biophilia Live. While I can't claim to be a big fan of the latter Icelandic phenom (though I do find her fascinating), I am a HUGE James Brown fan. So I will certainly be watching out for his doc, which comes right on the heels of the trailer release for its biopic counterpart Get On Up, directed by Tate Taylor and starring Chadwick Boseman. That will be fun to compare...

Below is a little more information on both docs:

Untitled James Brown Documentary, directed and written by Alex Gibney. (USA) – Work In Progress, Documentary. James Brown changed the face of American music. Soul Brother Number One, as he was known, pioneered the journey from rhythm and blues to funk. More than that, this American legend—who willed himself to life after he was stillborn—was a classic embodiment of the American dream. The son of a "turpentine man" from rural South Carolina, Brown became one the greatest live performers ever known, the "hardest working man in show business," and a self-made millionaire. As he often said, it was "show AND business." Once successful, one of his first orders of business was to launch the soundtrack for a new civil rights movement: "Say It Loud: I'm Black and I'm Proud." With unique cooperation of the Brown estate, this is a definitive documentary biography of the James Brown story and legend, 1933–1974. The screening will be followed by a special conversation with Director Alex Gibney on April 27th.

Björk: Biophilia Live, directed by Nick Fenton & Peter Strickland. (UK) – World Premiere, Documentary. From a mind unlike any other, Biophilia Live chronicles the multidimensional concert centered on the eighth studio album of avant-garde Icelandic artist, Björk. Directors Nick Fenton and Peter Strickland, unique voices in their own right, film Björk live in performance, and punctuate her music with evocative animation from apps created by the world's top 10 designers combined with science and nature archive and found footage. This is inspired by the themes of the album which explore the relationships between musical structures and natural phenomena—atomic, cellular and cosmic. The infinitely creative journey presents a culmination of work that represents one of the most original musical endeavors of a generation. The film will screen at TFF on April 26th.

And while we're on the subject of music docs, I know some of you asked in response to my previous post on Time Is Illmatic where you can purchase tickets to its opening night screening, with a special performance by rapper Nas. So here's that information: It will take place at the Beacon Theatre on April 16th, and tickets will be available at tribecafilm.com/openingnight beginning on March 27th at 11:00 a.m. for American Express Card Members and on April 1st at 11:00 a.m. for the general public. 

The 2014 Festival will take place from April 16 - 27 in New York City.

James Brown and Björk Documentaries Added to Next Month's Tribeca Film Festival Lineup (Plus, Ticket Information for Nas' TIME IS ILLMATIC)

Just when I thought next month's Tribeca Film Festival in New York City had already unveiled their full lineup of films, today brings the announcement of two newly added music documentaries for which you may want to keep your ears perked. The first one is Oscar winner Alex Gibney’s work-in-progress, Untitled James Brown Documentary, and the second is the world premiere of Björk: Biophilia Live. While I can't claim to be a big fan of the latter Icelandic phenom (though I do find her fascinating), I am a HUGE James Brown fan. So I will certainly be watching out for his doc, which comes right on the heels of the trailer release for its biopic counterpart Get On Up, directed by Tate Taylor and starring Chadwick Boseman. That will be fun to compare...

Below is a little more information on both docs:

Untitled James Brown Documentary, directed and written by Alex Gibney. (USA) – Work In Progress, Documentary. James Brown changed the face of American music. Soul Brother Number One, as he was known, pioneered the journey from rhythm and blues to funk. More than that, this American legend—who willed himself to life after he was stillborn—was a classic embodiment of the American dream. The son of a "turpentine man" from rural South Carolina, Brown became one the greatest live performers ever known, the "hardest working man in show business," and a self-made millionaire. As he often said, it was "show AND business." Once successful, one of his first orders of business was to launch the soundtrack for a new civil rights movement: "Say It Loud: I'm Black and I'm Proud." With unique cooperation of the Brown estate, this is a definitive documentary biography of the James Brown story and legend, 1933–1974. The screening will be followed by a special conversation with Director Alex Gibney on April 27th.

Björk: Biophilia Live, directed by Nick Fenton & Peter Strickland. (UK) – World Premiere, Documentary. From a mind unlike any other, Biophilia Live chronicles the multidimensional concert centered on the eighth studio album of avant-garde Icelandic artist, Björk. Directors Nick Fenton and Peter Strickland, unique voices in their own right, film Björk live in performance, and punctuate her music with evocative animation from apps created by the world's top 10 designers combined with science and nature archive and found footage. This is inspired by the themes of the album which explore the relationships between musical structures and natural phenomena—atomic, cellular and cosmic. The infinitely creative journey presents a culmination of work that represents one of the most original musical endeavors of a generation. The film will screen at TFF on April 26th.

And while we're on the subject of music docs, I know some of you asked in response to my previous post on Time Is Illmatic where you can purchase tickets to its opening night screening, with a special performance by rapper Nas. So here's that information: It will take place at the Beacon Theatre on April 16th, and tickets will be available at tribecafilm.com/openingnight beginning on March 27th at 11:00 a.m. for American Express Card Members and on April 1st at 11:00 a.m. for the general public. 

The 2014 Festival will take place from April 16 - 27 in New York City.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Cinema In Noir: Would Zoë Kravitz Have Made A Better Tris In DIVERGENT?



The more I think about the clunkiness of DIVERGENT, the more I consider ways it could have been fixed. As you know from my review of the film last week (which you can read here), I wasn't much of a fan, despite appreciating its smaller, underused elements. But after I spoke more about the movie on yesterday's "Cinema in Noir" (linked here), I've come to the startling realizing that the film may have benefited with Zoë Kravitz in the lead as Beatrice aka "Tris," and not Shailene Woodley.

In case you haven't seen the film, Kravitz plays Christina, a razor-tongued native of the Candor faction, who meets Tris later in the film when they are both members of the Dauntless faction. Despite being completely devoid of filter and beyond her tough girl cover, Christina shows signs of compassion and even weakness in certain challenges. Which makes her the more accessible and relatable character. These traits could have come in handy for Beatrice, whose ascent to Tris just came off far more contrived. I'm not sure whether this was Woodley or the bland script (likely a combination of the two), so I am just going with what they gave us, as the two actresses share a number of scenes together which further prove my theory.

I know Hollywood--and the media--has tried to shove dystopian YA heroine Woodley down our throats for the past few weeks, but I just didn't buy her in this role. I would have much rather seen what Kravitz could have done as Beatrice, the awkward but deliberate teen struggling with her new position as the face of a rebellion. From what I gather from the film, though this could be more fleshed out in the book (at least I hope), Beatrice is supposed to embody the virtues of each of the five factions--Abnegation, Erudite, Dauntless, Amity and Candor (which is what is supposed to make her special as a Divergent). I'd say Woodley captures more Abnegation and Amity, and struggles with the others quite drastically, making her performance a bit unsettling at times. Meanwhile, Kravitz's performance is a bit more multidimensional as she effortlessly glides in between each of these virtues and seems to have a tighter grasp on the complexities of this apocalyptic wasteland.

This isn't to say Woodley is a bad actress (she can be pretty effective at times, actually), but just not right for this. Although, there is a sequel planned, so perhaps she will settle more into the role then. But I still keep thinking about Kravitz, who has proven in the past that she can take on a variety of roles from vulnerable in It's Kind of a Funny Story to kickass in X-Men: First Class (mind you, I didn't love either of these films but I do think they further enforced the fact that Kravitz could be a much bigger star than she is). She brings both nuance and a tough spirit to every role she tackles, which is what was desperately needed in a role like Tris. Plus, how often do we get to see a young woman of color lead a mega vehicle like this? Exactly.

Bottom line: Kravitz is the hero the younger generation deserves and needs, not some cardboard cutout. It's time to find a franchise for her to helm.

To listen to the full "Cinema in Noir" episode, click here.

Friday, March 21, 2014

WHO IS DAYANI CRISTAL?, The Documentary Starring Gael García Bernal That Focuses On The U.S. Immigration Crisis, Heads To Theaters in April


I'm super excited to learn that WHO IS DAYANI CRISTAL?, the documentary starring Gael García Bernal that focuses on the human toll of the U.S. immigration crisis, will finally open in New York on April 25th, followed by a release to select cities nationwide. I think I started hearing about this project at least a year ago, and since then it's been in limbo with no definite release schedule. So this is big news, especially since I've been applauding both Bernal and his producing partner Diego Luna on their attempts to break the Hollywood mold with rich stories featuring Latino talent (Luna's newest directorial effort, Cesar Chavez, scored an audience award at SXSW earlier this month).

WHO IS DAYANI CRISTAL?, which won the Sundance 2013 World Cinema Cinematography Award and an official selection at the 51st New York Film Festival, will likely stir the ongoing debate about the immigrant crisis in the U.S. as it paints a more personal portrait of one man who lost his life in the Arizona desert. More info below:

In this piercing documentary that pushes the edges of the non-fiction form, acclaimed Mexican actor and activist Gael García Bernal tells the story of one of the many migrant workers who lost their lives in the stretch of Arizona desert known as “the corridor of death.” As Mr. Bernal retraces this man’s steps along the migrant trail in Central America, he and director Marc Silver show how one life can become a powerful testimony to the tragic results of the U.S. war on immigration.

With contributions from the dedicated forensic examiners of the Pima County Morgue in Arizona, the film seeks to answer questions surrounding the death of this yet-unidentified man. As the investigation unfolds, Mr. Bernal embeds himself among migrant travelers on their own mission to cross the border. He witnesses first-hand the dangers these men, women and children face on their way to the United States, also offering new insight into their sacrifices in search for a better life.


I plan to check out a screening of the film next month, so I definitely report back about it. But I am already so hyped. Watch the trailer:


MALADIES Review: An Astoundingly Empty And Meaningless Movie



There are great films that bring you to the verge of tears, others that leave you doubled over in laughter, and still others that take permanent residence in your mind and make you think. But then there are some that don't make you feel anything at all but a strong sense of apathy. The James Franco drama, MALADIES, falls into the latter category.

For what it's worth, there's nothing outrageously awful about the film, which tells the story of James, a 60s-era soap opera star-turned-fledgling author who has only a flaky relationship with reality (Franco) and his similarly eccentric roommates, best friend Catherine (Catherine Keener) and sister Patricia (Fallon Goodson). It's just utterly bland. Each scene is like watching a visual journal that never arrives at a point, but rather simply tells you what happened. It's a frustrating watch.

Within the first few minutes of the film, we're introduced to James by way of his narrator, a third-person voice who lives inside James's head yet we can also hear him too. He's forced down our throat since he never leaves James, and James is in almost every frame of the movie. So it's our job to either tune him out or listen to him as he states the obvious about James in every single scene (i.e. a play-by-play of James's feelings, as if to say Franco's acting doesn't already do that). Coincidentally, it would have been more interesting to watch James talk to this voice on the phone, since one of James's quirks is listening to the dial tone of the phone--it apparently soothes him somehow, similarly to how the narrator comforts him.


But there are the two other main characters with whom we get acquainted throughout the course of the film. There doesn't seem to be a pretense as to why James is living with Catherine and Patricia, but we're to assume that none of them can really cope with living alone. Yet Catherine seems to be the most level-headed of the trio. She calms James out of his fits, steers him back toward reality and even cooks and cleans for the house. Her only "thing," we're to believe, is that she sometimes cross dresses, which really confuses James--and, to some extent, Patricia--and causes him to lash out at her about it. Which is ironic, since there are plenty of occasions when Catherine could have been baffled by his erratic, nonsensical behavior but chooses to comfort him instead. The takeaway seems to be here that mental instability is easier to handle than cross dressing. Um, ok. Is this a depiction of the 60s or present day thought?



Then there's Patricia, who I call the Uncle Fester of the group. That's because she's often cowering in the shadows (or upstairs ambling about doing Goodness knows what), popping out only to remind us how weird the other two people are by opening her eyes real wide in utter disgust when they say anything. I don't think it's so much that these characters are odd, as much as it is odd that this is a story. Like, what is it trying to say? Why should we care?

The film never answers that, even when the closest character that comes to a moral compass, Delmar (David Strathairn), drops into the scene on occasion to dust it with a little kumbaya. He's a neighbor and the ultimate fan of James's old soap opera, so apparently he feels it necessary to protect James from himself. But Delmar comes off more as a nuisance, lingering in James's home a little too long and being visibly moved to tears while watching old episodes of James's soap opera (with James sitting right next to him). So obviously Delmar has got his own set of similarly nondescript emotional problems over which to obsess. Which begs the question: why does he even bother with his neighbor? Why does he care so much, just something for him to do with his time? Does he have a hopeless crush on James?

Perhaps the lesson here is that we all need a companion in our lives to depend on and care for us, even when we don't actually want them there and even if they're no better off than us. But it's not an exploratory narrative; it's dreadfully one-dimensional completely meaningless. Why should we care about these characters when it doesn't even seem like the screenwriter, Carter (who's also the director of the film and previously worked with Franco on Erased James Franco), respects them enough to conceptualize their stories? Are we to assume that they're all victims of their environment, their era?



These questions are never really answered, which makes you check out early on in the film and merely go through the motions of watching it with just as much investment as the actors seem to have for it (especially Keener, usually an effective actress who here simply enables her character without truly understanding her). Franco's portrayal, while truly committed to the character, is messy and even a bit cartoonish at times to the point where you feel more discomfort for the character rather than empathy.

MALADIES may not be the worst film this year, but there is something to be said about a movie that leaves you feeling nothing, knowing nothing and not caring otherwise. It just happens, that's it.

Rating: D+ (*1/2 out of *****)

MALADIES is now available in select theaters and will be available on nationwide VOD and iTunes/digital platforms beginning March 25. In case you missed the movie trailer, you can watch it in my previous post here.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The 2014 Tribeca Film Festival Will End Things On A Light Note With The Comedy, BEGIN AGAIN, Starring Keira Knightley And Mark Ruffalo



With all the heavier dramas headlining next month's Tribeca Film Festival, it's fitting that a comedy will be the final film shown on closing night April 26th. BEGIN AGAIN, written and directed by John Carney (Once), unites a variety of talent consisting of Oscar nominees Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo and Hailee Steinfeld with none other than Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine. Levine is a strange addition, considering as I think the only time I've seen him act is when he was in an intensely losing fight with a madman on American Horror Story: Asylum.

Judging by the film's synopsis, Levine's new role doesn't sound like it will be too much of a stretch for him, since he will play Dave, one half of a songwriting duo with Knightley, who stars as his steady girlfriend, Gretta. When his career takes off, he swiftly leaves Gretta behind. She and her guitar wind up catching the attention Ruffalo, a talent exec. More in the synopsis below:

From writer-director John Carney (Once), Begin Again is a soul-stirring comedy about what happens when lost souls meet and make beautiful music together. Gretta (Keira Knightley) and her long-time boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine) are college sweethearts and songwriting partners who decamp for New York when he lands a deal with a major label. But the trappings of his new-found fame soon tempt Dave to stray, and a reeling, lovelorn Gretta is left on her own. Her world takes a turn for the better when Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a disgraced record-label exec, stumbles upon her performing on an East Village stage and is immediately captivated by her raw talent. From this chance encounter emerges an enchanting portrait of a mutually transformative collaboration, set to the soundtrack of a summer in New York City.

Truthfully, this doesn't sound like much to me (plus, the whole coffee shop music scene Carney seems to love is so unappealing).  But I am a fan of Knightley and Ruffalo and can only trust they chose this project wisely. What do you think about the news?

The 13th annual Tribeca Film Festival will take place in New York City from April 16-27, 2014.

The 2014 Tribeca Film Festival Will End Things On A Light Note With The Comedy, BEGIN AGAIN, Starring Keira Knightley And Mark Ruffalo



With all the heavier dramas headlining next month's Tribeca Film Festival, it's fitting that a comedy will be the final film shown on closing night April 26th. BEGIN AGAIN, written and directed by John Carney (Once), unites a variety of talent consisting of Oscar nominees Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo and Hailee Steinfeld with none other than Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine. Levine is a strange addition, considering as I think the only time I've seen him act is when he was in an intensely losing fight with a madman on American Horror Story: Asylum.

Judging by the film's synopsis, Levine's new role doesn't sound like it will be too much of a stretch for him, since he will play Dave, one half of a songwriting duo with Knightley, who stars as his steady girlfriend, Gretta. When his career takes off, he swiftly leaves Gretta behind. She and her guitar wind up catching the attention Ruffalo, a talent exec. More in the synopsis below:

From writer-director John Carney (Once), Begin Again is a soul-stirring comedy about what happens when lost souls meet and make beautiful music together. Gretta (Keira Knightley) and her long-time boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine) are college sweethearts and songwriting partners who decamp for New York when he lands a deal with a major label. But the trappings of his new-found fame soon tempt Dave to stray, and a reeling, lovelorn Gretta is left on her own. Her world takes a turn for the better when Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a disgraced record-label exec, stumbles upon her performing on an East Village stage and is immediately captivated by her raw talent. From this chance encounter emerges an enchanting portrait of a mutually transformative collaboration, set to the soundtrack of a summer in New York City.

Truthfully, this doesn't sound like much to me (plus, the whole coffee shop music scene Carney seems to love is so unappealing).  But I am a fan of Knightley and Ruffalo and can only trust they chose this project wisely. What do you think about the news?

The 13th annual Tribeca Film Festival will take place in New York City from April 16-27, 2014.

Review: DIVERGENT Tries To Single White Female THE HUNGER GAMES, With Unpleasant Results



Remember that scene in the Michael Keaton movie Multiplicity when I believe Michael Keaton clone 2 tries to explain to Michael Keaton clone 1 what is wrong with the degenerate Michael Keaton clone 4? I think the exact line is "You know how when you make a copy of a copy, it's not as sharp as... well... the original." That's pretty much how I would explain DIVERGENT.

I hesitate to even compare The Hunger Games to this wildly discordant, often corny film that only flirts with good elements without maintaining them because I feel it belittles the former. But here's the thing: DIVERGENT, despite multiple claims otherwise, tries to capture the format of The Hunger Games but completely phones in almost each element. Sure, it may have a teenage girl (Shailene Woodley) who's forced to separate from her family, who's on the verge of becoming the face of a major apocalyptic rebellion, a smoldering placeholder love interest (Theo James) and be loaded with girl power themes, but it doesn't have the layers or complexities you'd expect. Rather, it just goes through the motions without offering much else.


Woodley, who has proven in the past that she can add a level of maturity to roles she's played, is ill-suited as Beatrice--a bold, sometimes sharp-tongued, inquisitive teen with an empathy streak. Born into the community of Abnegation, she is endowed with the pitied virtue of selflessness in a world that values and rewards valor. When she must embark on the nation's rite of passage, a blood test to determine which faction she belongs to, she learns she's Divergent and has characteristics of all five  factions (Abnegation, Erudite, Dauntless, Amity and Candor. Which means she's a threat to the natural order unless she takes it upon herself to choose another path. So she decides to disguise herself as a citizen of Dauntless, the dangerous community of tattooed misfits that are groomed to be militant soldiers. While there, Beatrice discovers a much larger plan that will destroy each community. Of course, it's up to her to put an end to that. Her and her gorgeous new beau Four (James) that is, who despite the fact that he is her commanding officer who's supposed to be intimidating her, publicly offers her special interest and even gives her pointers on how to trick the system. I mean, in front of everyone yet no one notices this.

But even with its obvious ploy to attract the more impressionable young audiences (contrary to The Hunger Games's wider fan base), DIVERGENT comes off silly and unnatural, completely underestimating the intelligence of YA fans. Little slips like not fully explaining the "war" that led to these factions an important piece of information that would have helped with story development, and why it is such a big turning point when the hoity-toity nation head honcho Jeanine (Kate Winslet, in apparently a paycheck performance) learns of Beatrice's true test results when Jeanine tells Tris earlier in the film that she knew them and didn't seem to care. Like, what?



Even Woodley's casting seems forced, like they're trying to make her into the kind of actress that she just isn't--a Jennifer Lawrence version 2.0. They even have the same haircut now! Single white female anyone? Woodley's thrives in playing far more subtle characters. Beatrice, who changes her name to "Tris" in Dauntless, has to become this tough action hero role model for her peers and I'm not even sure she is 100% confident in this role. Some of the lines come off clunky and completely ineffective. She may be leaping from rooftops, wearing a skin tight leather jumpsuit in order to fit into her new gang, and getting in the ring with her new hoodlum cohorts (which include Zoë Kravitz and Miles Teller), but she does not own it. Granted, it's supposed to be a gradual progression, which should account for Beatrice's apprehension in the beginning, but that never really goes away. As a result, we never truly believe her. Even her romantic scenes with Four (did I mention how hot he is?) seem more on a brother-sister level. Which may be partially due to their particular chemistry, but also due to how heavy-footed the story is. A lot of the elements seem tacked onto the story per obligation and are not seamless.

DIVERGENT isn't all awkward and contrived. It's also inconsistent. Its bad scenes are often countered with genuinely well executed sequences that we don't get to see enough of. Like each time Tris must battle her fears through needle-induced hallucinations, while at the same time fooling those in the higher order by pretending that she doesn't have special capabilities. Not only is the photography well done, but you can tell this is where Woodley excels and is most comfortable--these far more confined scenes in which she must become her own hero. Truthfully, the movie is bigger than Woodley, so these more enclosed scenes are where she shines.



And thank Goodness for Ashley Judd and Tony Goldwyn, who are in the film all of 20 minutes total but make the most of their screen time as Beatrice's devastated parents who end up coming in at the 11th hour right when the rebellion heats up. Judd is especially affective and, despite her character's utter solemnity over the conditioning of the nation, she portrays bravery far more organically than anyone else in the film--including Woodley. She adds a layer of desperation and meaningfulness that is missing everywhere else in the film.

Director Neil Burger, who's clearly still recovering from the disaster that was Limitless, tries to at least bolster Vanessa Taylor and Evan Daugherty's screenplay adapted from the Veronica Roth popular novel trilogy. But sadly this massive vehicle falls down right on top of them. Hopefully the next installment gets back on track. We can't have a whole bunch of these degenerates populating the big screen.

Rating: C- (** out of *****)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

'Orange Is The New Black' Star Taylor Schilling Breaks Out On Her Own With The Indie Drama, STAY, But Unfortunately The Leap Is Anticlimactic


Orange is the New Black star Taylor Schilling steps out of her orange jumpsuit for a stripped down performance as a woman caught in the middle of a dead end relationship and an unexpected pregnancy in the Irish-Canadian independent drama, STAY. But even with the rugged subtlety of co-star Aidan Quinn (TV's Elementary), it isn't enough to boost the otherwise drab film.

Directed by German filmmaker Wiebke von Carolsfeld, STAY doesn't do you any favors regarding actually keeping you invested in the story. It's a quiet, slow burn even from its beginning when we first meet seemingly amiable lovebirds Abby and Dermot (Schilling and Quinn) in Ireland as they roll around in the sheets and steal doting glances at each other. But that soft emotion quickly goes south when Abby learns she's pregnant, an announcement that causes Dermot to recoil much to Abby's chagrin. In a rather dismissive scene, Dermot firmly states that he is not at all interested in being a father and even asks Abby if she plans on keeping the baby. Later in the film, Dermot's backstory reveals a somewhat controversial incident that hardened his reaction to parenting, though at this earlier point in the film it comes off callous and completely bewildering.

You'd expect von Carolsfeld (who also adapted the screenplay from the novel of the same name) to further explore their relationship to give the audience a better understanding of both characters, but she instead takes us on this long winding road to nowhere. Abby leaves Dermot to go live with her father in Canada for a while and presumably make a decision on her own about the baby, while Dermot just kind of roams across the Irish fields not knowing what to do next. This goes on for a good hour in the film, with the two of them just bobbin aimlessly about with just occasionally interesting dialogue.

Things get a little more engaging during the scenes with Abby and her father Frank (Michael Ironside), who discovers Abby's pregnancy and tries to offer his support toward a decision to become a single parent. Which sends the already stressed Abby into a fit over being forced to confront the very thing that equally excites and plagues her--motherhood. It's a frustrating, shifty dynamic that offers an additional layer to Abby's character, but fails to explore it more deeply. Vapid dialogue between Abby and her father's younger, free-spirited love interest are meant to compel Abby's story but just comes off as more white noise. We never really get to the bottom of what truly agitates Abby. Is it Dermot's cold reaction to her pregnancy (which she expected he would have, but hoped he'd changed his outlet for her) or is it something deeper? This existential march across the countryside seems more in an effort to find herself than about her unborn child.

Meanwhile, Dermot is a bit cut off at the knees and goes through his own mid-life crisis as he considers the choices he's made--both past and present--and randomly befriends a young mother who is content with raising her baby on her own. In doing so, his usual babyphobia subsides a bit but he continues to keep his guard up. The real question is, will he fix things with Abby? And do either of them really want to?

We never really know. And in fact, we never really know much about either of these characters. While the performances are thoughtful, the execution and story is surprisingly trivial, never getting past the surface of the plot. While a lot of time is spent examining both characters' predicaments and alternate locations, the rest of the film offers no progression or thought provocation. Plus, the pace is disastrously lethargic, as if von Carolsfeld didn't know what to say about these characters. STAY may be a better story in novel format, with more insight on the characters. But as a film it doesn't pull you in; it completely pushes you away.

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

Watch the trailer for STAY here:


STAY is currently available on pre-theatrical VOD, and will be in select theaters Friday, March 21st.

"Entertainer Of The Year" Kevin Hart Sits Down With Oprah Winfrey This Sunday

Photo Courtesy of Harpo Studios, Inc./George Burns

As you know, one of my favorite comedians right now is Kevin Hart, who's surprisingly become one of the most bankable stars around. Not only is he the new million-dollar box office man, but he's also a social media champion with a staggering 10.2 million followers, and is the star and the co-producer of  hilarious NAACP Award-winning faux reality show, The Real Husbands of Hollywood. His hustle is simply unprecedented.

So what's the next move for a guy who's seemingly done it all? An interview with none other than Oprah Winfrey herself, of course. The comedian sits down with the talk show queen to discuss his skyrocketing career, comedic influences and his family this Sunday, March 23rd, at 9/8c on Oprah Prime on the OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.

For my fellow The Walking Dead fans, this may be you may mean you have to choose the ultimate sacrifice as they both programs air at the same time. As for me, I may pull double duty and watch both, alternating on commercial breaks.

Watch a sneak peak of Sunday's Oprah Prime: Kevin Hart:



Tune in for an all-new episode of Oprah Prime on Sunday at 9/8c.

The New PEANUTS Movie Is Already My Most Anticipated Movie Of 2015


Get ready for nostalgia overload! More than 60 years after they made their comic strip debut, Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of the beloved PEANUTS gang are finally coming to the big screen in a new movie. And, unlike the many adaptations and reboots invading the silver screen, these guys will stay animated (in grand 3D fashion, no less). Which means that the essence of the characters should remain the same (fingers crossed). 

20th Century Fox and Blue Sky Studio just released a new teaser trailer for the film (above), which is slated to hit theaters November 6, 2015. Good grief, we have to wait more than a year to see this! But at least we have something to look forward to.

Check out two new images from the movie:



Now let's all collectively say, "awwwww." 

Monday, March 17, 2014

"It's Wonderful to Be Given This Moment in My Life That I Will Never Forget:" Watch a Clip from Kate Winslet's Hollywood Star Ceremony



It's hard to believe that it's been 18 years since Titanic, the epic drama that made Kate Winslet a household name. Today the insanely talented and always gracious actress cemented her Hollywood status by receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Watch a clip from the ceremony and catch her in the much talked about dystopian YA film adaptation Divergent, alongside Shailene Woodley and Maggie Q, in theaters Friday.

What's your favorite Kate Winslet movie?

"Someone Please Discover a Planet I Can Discover:" Watch The New Short Film 'ALMOST HOME' In Anticipation Of The Animated Film 'HOME'


Apparently I'm in the minority with my adoration of the film Monsters University, so I will proudly stand along in the corner with it. But if you're like me and get a kick out of alien animation, you might want to keep the upcoming film HOME on your radar. In anticipation of the movie, which hits theaters November 26th, 20th Century Fox and DreamWorks Animation have just released the new short film, Almost Home which you can watch below.

Directed by Tim Johnson (Antz) Featuring the voices of Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin and Jennifer Lopez, HOME follows a rowdy community of aliens on a mission to find a new safe place away from their enemies. More on the film below:

When Earth is taken over by the overly-confident Boov, an alien race in search of a new place to call home, all humans are promptly relocated, while all Boov get busy reorganizing the planet. But when one resourceful girl, Tip (Rihanna), manages to avoid capture, she finds herself the accidental accomplice of a banished Boov named Oh (Jim Parsons). The two fugitives realize there’s a lot more at stake than intergalactic relations as they embark on the road trip of a lifetime.

Watch the trailer:




I know some of you may be suffering from "Rihanna fatigue" caused by the epic flop Battleship, but perhaps animation may be a better fit for her? The trailer is cute and features the always hilarious Steve Martin. I'm game. What about you?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Cinema In Noir: Rooney Mara As Native Princess Tiger Lily (Seriously, Hollywood?)




Another day, another Hollywood whitewash. Despite much national discussion across a variety of media outlets about the lack of diversity in Hollywood, it seems like the institution continues to be ignorant of the concept. Today on Cinema in Noir we discussed Hollywood latest offense--casting Caucasian actress Rooney Mara (The Social Network, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) as Native American princess Tiger Lily in the upcoming Peter Pan movie, Pan.

*Pauses for reaction*

This comes after Joe Wright, the director of the project, reportedly described it as "international." There doesn't seem to be much pretense regarding that description, especially since the film is not fully cast yet. But it still has gotten the Internet in a collective uproar, seeing as Hollywood has had a history with being less than kind to characters of Native and Indian descent. To be fair, this latest casting continues a long tradition of whitewashing (or racebending) Tiger Lily, ever since the first big screen adaptation in 1924 when Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong portrayed the character.

This, of course, is nothing against Rooney Mara, who will probably be decent in the role and has proven to be an impressive actress. It's not about her talent or her capability. It's just a shame that in this day and age, when Native and Indian actors are constantly being ignored in the media, that Hollywood couldn't even bother to hold an open casting call to find the next "It" Girl for Tiger Lily. They choose the safe bet, and continue to heighten the careers of only a select handful of actresses without broadening the selection. Ugh.

But, on the bright side, it looks like the small screen is still the best place to find complex, meaty roles for actors and actresses of color. Which is another reason why people like Joe Morton (Scandal), Jennifer Beals, Sophie Okenedo, Keke Palmer and Gabourey Sidibe continue to dominate TV. We talk about their latest small screen roles. Then we discuss the trailer for the new James Brown music video biopic, Get on Up:


I really hope there will be more to this movie than the music. I love a good movie musical just as much as the next normal person, but James Brown's story deserves something more multi-dimensional and richer than that. Let's hope the title doesn't summarize the premise.


Catch up on the latest full episode of Cinema in Noir here.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

THE OTHER WOMAN Looks Like The Poor Man's Version Of THE FIRST WIVES CLUB

photo credit courtesy of 20th Century Fox


Apparently the trailer for Cameron Diaz's latest silly romp debuted online last December and I completely avoided it missed it. Because I am just checking it out today as the newest poster (shown above) dropped and, surprisingly, I think the actress has outdone herself in the ridiculous department (that couldn't have been an easy feat, what with Bad Teacher/Knight and Day/What Happens in Vegas still floating around in the universe).

In her new comedy (?), THE OTHER WOMAN, Diaz stars as a woman who learns that the man she's seeing is married and, to make matters worse, also has another lover on the side. Leslie Mann plays the wife,  Kate, and Kate Upton (a name I hear so often yet still don't really know who she is) plays the additional side piece. So far, nothing too far fetched, right? But wait, it gets worse.

The trio of jilted women (though I hesitate to describe Upton's character as jilted, since she doesn't appear to be losing any sleep over her multitasking beau, since she is happily jogging along the beach Baywatch-style in the trailer) decide to band together to get back at the man who played them (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) in horrible and creative ways. Kinda in a First Wives Club kinda way, except these women have all been deceived by the same guy, which makes you think they should probably be scratching each other's eyes out...right? No, instead they're taking the high road (that is, if you call Kate drugging said guy with birth control pills the high road) by uniting in the name of mutual revenge. During which time, the women find themselves giggling over shared cocktails and bar hopping together. Wait...what?

The premise just seems so unrealistic and like a very far-fetched attempt at a female-bonding film. Though I like Mann, I would have preferred to see her in something that I could get excited about (especially since This is 40 was so awful). Singer Nicki Minaj is also in the movie, playing Lydia, who's apparently Diaz's sassy stream of consciousness. Ugh, I can only hope there's more to this story than its trailer.

THE OTHER WOMAN was directed by Nick Cassavetes (The Notebook, John Q), and will be in theaters April 25th.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I Really Need NOAH To Be Great Mostly Because Of Jennifer Connelly

Connelly at the world premiere of NOAH in Mexico City 

I know Darren Aronosky's upcoming epic re-imagining of NOAH (in theaters March 28) has been getting a lot of attention for its depiction of religious themes, but I am still fascinated to see it and I'm relying on the fact that one of my favorite directors has at the very least created a glorious spectacle (after all, Aronofsky is known for his fantastical show pieces). Another part of my anticipation is that I really, desperately, need to see the return of Jennifer Connelly. 

No, I'm not talking about Connelly as in The Day the Earth Stood Still and Dark Water, and her merely serviceable roles in Little Children and Blood Diamond. I'm talking about the great Connelly, whose big screen alter ego range from a lost drug addict who'd join a sex gang in order to pay for some blow in Requiem for a Dream to a tragic alcoholic who can't sever her relationship with the past from her more dismal present in House of Sand and Fog. For crying out loud, I am talking about Oscar winner Connelly whose heartbreaking performance in A Beautiful Mind was one of the main reasons why that film is so tremendous. That's the actress I need back, the one who I hope is starring in NOAH

My dream is that by reuniting with Aronfsky (her Requiem director) he brought out the best in her, and that re-teaming with her Beautiful co-star Russell Crowe has also been a rewarding experience. As Naameh, the wife of the title character, who you may know better as the Biblical hero with the ark, Connelly has the potential to embody a woman who is much more significant than "spouse," but who knows how the story will unfold. I just cannot have her on screen anymore circulating the plot without actually being a part of it. She's better than that. We know all too well how hard it is for women in Hollywood (particularly those vying for complex big screen roles), but Aronofsky has proven more than once that he can certainly illuminate amazing multidimensional female characters (including the wonderful performances in Black Swan and Marisa Tomei's role in The Wrestler), so I hope he has continued his streak with NOAH

Okay, end of rant. Promise. I just needed to get that off my chest. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Win A VERONICA MARS Movie Prize Pack!


Veronica Mars fans unite! I am proud to host this awesome new giveaway on the site today, in celebration of the VERONICA MARS movie in theaters Friday (March 14). If you were a fan of the hit show, then you'll definitely want to pay attention to this. You've got a chance to win the VERONICA MARS DVD and limited edition trucker hat (seen above). That is, if you think you know all there is to know about the popular characters and the shenanigans that went down in Neptune, California. Test your Veronica Mars knowledge with all 3 levels of super-fan trivia via the "Purity Test Marshmallow Super-Fan Trivia" blog app below and find out if you are the ultimate fan!

A little about the film, which came to be after a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign ended on April 12, 2013:

On the eve of graduating law school, Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) has put Neptune and her amateur sleuthing days behind her. While interviewing at high-end New York law firms, Veronica Mars gets a call from her ex-boyfriend Logan who has been accused of murder. Veronica heads back to Neptune just to help Logan find an attorney, but when things don't seem right with how Logan's case is perceived and handled, Veronica finds herself being pulled back into a life she thought she had left behind.


To enter the giveaway, please share your results of the test in the comment box below (be honest, I have ways of finding out if you're not...). Optional: feel free to also include your favorite episode from the show and why you love it. The final time to submit is March 28 at 11pm EST. Check back after that date to see if you're the winner (I'll notify you in the comment box below).

Please note that each household is only eligible to win One (1) Veronica Mars Prize Pack via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Good luck!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Cinema in Noir: The Women Diversity List and Dream Casting for Actresses of Color

Alfre Woodard and Lupita Nyong'o

While we at Cinema in Noir are thrilled that Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o has become the Hollywood It girl (despite the fact that she has yet to lock down her next film role), on today's show we wanted to bring attention to the many other actresses of color that deserve more shine and further drive home the fact that great actresses of color aren't a trend--they've been here for years and they're here to stay.

So, thanks to BitchPack.com's The Women Diversity List (link here), which highlights the many TV and film scripts across genres in the queue that call for ethnic actresses, we've come up with a list of diverse and complex roles that will further showcase minority talent. And, of course, we got a chance to do our own dream casting for each project--from Adepero Oduye and Aisha Tyler to Jamie Chung and Rosario Dawson.

Missed the show? Listen to it here.

See The Creepy New Motion Posters for THE QUIET ONES, the Upcoming Horror Film From the Producers of THE WOMAN IN BLACK and LET ME IN



April is starting to become the new horror movie month, if you go by Hollywood's release schedule. In addition to OCULUS on April 11th, Lionsgate's THE QUIET ONES is also gearing up to scare audiences on April 25th. Starring Bates Motel's Olivia Cooke, Mad Men's Jared Harris and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire's Sam Claflin, the haunting new film is directed by John Pogue, who is no stranger to the genre as the screenwriter for Quarantine 2: Terminal and Ghost Ship. He teamed with scribes Oren Moverman (I'm Not There, The Messenger) and Craig Rosenberg (The Uninvited) on the project, as well as the noteworthy producers of Let Me In and The Woman in Black. More on the film below:

From the producer who brought you The Woman In Black and Let Me In comes the unnerving tale of The Quiet Ones. Tucked away in an estate outside of London, Professor Coupland along with a team of university students conduct an “experiment” on Jane Harper, a young girl who harbors unspeakable secrets. What dark forces they uncover are more terrifying than any of them expected. Inspired by true events, the film stars Jared Harris (Mad Men and Sherlock Homes: A Game of Shadows), Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), Olivia Cooke (Bates Motel), and is directed by John Pogue from a screenplay by Craig Rosenberg and Oren Moverman and John Pogue, and based on a screenplay by Tom de Ville.

Watch the trailer:


And check out the motion posters (make sure your sound is on to get the full effect):






I actually wasn't even checking for this movie before, but I love this trailer and these awesome motion posters. The black and white imagery alone really gives it a haunting, vintage feel that--if done well--will stay with you long after you've seen the movie. Plus, I like Cooke and Jared Harris on their perspective shows (well, Harris isn't on Mad Men anymore, but he had a great run on the show), as well as the Quarantine films and Let Me In. Thoughts?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Sorry, Hollywood, You're Going To Have To Do Better Than This New ANNIE Trailer



Maybe I'm just too cynical to truly fall in love with the new trailer for ANNIE, which has the rest of the Internet shedding tears of happiness and ready to belt out every word of "Tomorrow" in the middle of the street. This remake of the classic 80s musical, now starring the adorable Quvenzhané Wallis, is about to be filed under my very long list of "movies that should never have left the era in which they were born."

Listen, I love the 80s more than most normal people, and still jam to Blondie, Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam and Phil Collins like their songs were just released yesterday. But movies of this era captured a particular cheesiness that was special to its time; their quirks and themes are foreign in today's pop culture. Judging by this ANNIE trailer alone, it looks like the filmmaking team (Friends With Benefits director Will Gluck with screenwriters Aline Brosh McKenna and Emma Thompson) simply recast the original production, adding big name supporting stars Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, Bobby Cannavale and Rose Byrne, without modernizing the story. And a premise like ANNIE desperately needs to be rejuvenated to fit into our film culture today (consider how The Muppets did it recently). You can't just throw in a few lyrical outbursts mixed in with an obligatory Facebook reference and call it a "reimagining." This clip just looks lazy and very lame. The cast deserves better. 

But, hey, trailers aren't always the best indicator of a movie's quality and overall value (I'm still mad that the Captain Phillips trailer). This is a 2+ minute clip that will likely be followed by additional trailers that will give us a better view of what this new film is trying to accomplish. As for now, we can only hope that the sun will come out tomorrow.

ANNIE is in theaters December 19th.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Elizabeth Banks, Toni Colette And Liam Neeson Are Just a Few Of The Big Stars Headlining Feature Films At Next Month's Tribeca Film Festival

This year's Tribeca Film Festival is really shaping up to be quite an event! I've just received the second half of the feature slate today, so I've highlighted here a few of the films starring big name stars that I think are particularly interesting. From Elizabeth Banks to Oscar winners Paul Haggis and Adrien Brody and screenwriter Nicole Holofcener, check out the list of my most anticipated feature films:


EVERY SECRET THING, directed by Amy Berg, written by Nicole Holofcener. (USA) - World Premiere, Narrative. One clear summer day in a Baltimore suburb, a baby goes missing from her front porch. Two young girls serve seven years for the crime and return to a town that has not fully forgiven or forgotten. Soon, another child goes missing and two detectives are called in to investigate the mystery in a community where everyone seems to have a secret. The ensemble cast includes Elizabeth Banks, Diane Lane, Dakota Fanning, and Nate Parker, who bring to life Laura Lippman's acclaimed novel of love, loss, and murder.


JUST BEFORE I GO, directed by Courteney Cox, written by David Flebotte. (USA) - World Premiere, Narrative. Seann William Scott plays Ted Morgan, a down-on-his-luck everyman who has decided he's had enough of the hard knocks life has thrown his way. His final goal before saying goodbye, Ted returns to his hometown to right a few wrongs. Enter a zany cast of characters, including Rob Riggle, Olivia Thirlby, and Garret Dillahunt, who, whilst royally messing up his scheme, manage to teach him a few clumsy yet ultimately valuable lessons.



LUCKY THEM, directed by Megan Griffiths, written by Huck Botko and Emily Wachtel.(USA) - U.S. Premiere, Narrative. More interested in partying and flirting with young musicians than work, veteran rock journalist Ellie Klug (Toni Collette) has one last chance to prove her value to her magazine's editor by embarking on a no-stone-unturned search to discover what really happened to long lost rock god, Matt Smith, who also happens to be her ex-boyfriend. Teaming up with an eccentric amateur documentary filmmaker (Thomas Haden Church), Ellie hits the road in search of answers in this charming dramedy set against the vibrant Seattle indie music stage. An IFC Films Release.



MANOS SUCIAS, directed and written by Josef Wladyka, co-written by Alan Blanco. (Colombia, USA) – International Premiere, Narrative. Towing a submerged torpedo in the wake of their battered fishing boat, a desperate fisherman and a naive kid embark on a journey trafficking millions of dollars worth of cocaine. Shot entirely on location along the Pacific coast of Colombia—in areas that bear the indelible scars of the drug trade—Manos Sucias refuses to glamorize the drug trade, but rather seeks to offer a rare glimpse of its devastating effects. Executive Produced by Spike Lee.



NIGHT MOVES, directed and written by Kelly Reichardt, co-written by Jon Raymond (USA) - U.S. Premiere, Narrative. Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, and Peter Sarsgaard star as radical activists surreptitiously plotting to blow up Oregon's Green Peter Dam in an act of environmental sabotage. As their plane marches inexorably towards fruition, they soon discover that small steps have enormous consequences. Director Kelly Reichardt (Meek's Cutoff, Wendy and Lucy) crafts another absorbing movie about outsiders searching for meaning on the edges of the system in this atmospheric environmental thriller. Cinedigm A Release.


THIRD PERSON, directed and written by Paul Haggis. (Belgium) - U.S. Premiere, Narrative. Veteran screenwriter and director Paul Haggis (Crash) brings to the screen a calculated vision of love. Three stories set in cities known for romance--New York, Rome and Paris--take raw and personal twists as characters grapple with the difficulties of modern relationships. With a heavyweight cast including James Franco, Mila Kunis, Liam Neeson, Olivia Wilde, Adrien Brody, and Maria Bello, Haggis once again weaves an intricate narrative out of seemingly separate worlds. A Sony Pictures Classics Release.

The Tribeca Film Festival will take up April 16-27 in New York City.

America Ferrera, Melonie Diaz And Rory Culkin Headline New Dramas Premiering At The Tribeca Film Festival


Without even seeing a trailer for X/Y, I am already ranking it high on my Tribeca must-watch list. If you're like me and are a fan of America Ferrera and Melonie Diaz, whose careers are on fire right now, then you'll want to keep this film on your radar as well. Here's a little more information on X/Y, which is part of next month's Tribeca Film Festival world narrative competition:

Ryan Piers Williams directs and stars alongside America Ferrera, Amber Tamblyn and Melonie Diaz in a character-driven drama centered around four restless New Yorkers, and their shifting sexual and romantic relationships as they search for a sense of intimacy and self-identity. As Mark, Jen, Sylvia, and Jake navigate through their emotionally-arrested states, X/Y reveals the honest and wanton desire we all have to connect with someone and what is at stake when that connection fades.

Check out are a few more images from the movie:





Another film in that same category at Tribeca that has piqued my interest is GABRIEL, starring Rory Culkin. This is one of the few films on Culkin's resume that features him in the headlining role, which will hopefully allow audiences to see more of his talent (I always thought he was a bit underrated). Here's the synopsis:

Rory Culkin delivers an electrifying performance as Gabriel, a vulnerable and confused teenager longing for stability and happiness. Convinced that reuniting with his old girlfriend will bring his dreams to fruition, Gabriel risks it all in a desperate and increasingly obsessive pursuit. First-time writer-director Lou Howe authentically portrays the heartbreaking reality of a young man battling his inner demons, establishing himself as an extraordinary new filmmaking talent.



The Tribeca Film Festival will take up April 16-27 in New York City.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

4 Chilling New Images From OCULUS, The New Horror Film From The Producer of INSIDIOUS And PARANORMAL ACTIVITY



Dear GAWD Katee Sackhoff is possessed! We still have a few more weeks until Insidious and Paranormal Activity producer Jason Blum's newest haunted house horror OCULUS comes to theaters, but until then Relativity Media has released a chilling new poster and stills from the movie that will release on April 11th. In case you missed my previous post about this movie and its synopsis, click here. You can watch the new official trailer for the film on iTunes (link).





Hey Daryl Dixon Fans, Sunday's Episode Of "The Walking Dead" Was A Special One For Us



Warning: This post contains spoilers from Sunday night's episode of The Walking Dead

I know everyone is still recovering from Sunday's Oscar madness, but while we were ogling at Ellen DeGeneres's reigning selfie moment and Lupita's Cinderella finish, The Walking Dead aired one of their best episodes yet this season. Especially if you're a member of Team Daryl Dixon.

As I've stated in a previous post, one of the things I love most about this show is that it doesn't tell you everything about a character all at once. Rather, it gives you just enough information about them to keep you intrigued. Which brings us to Sunday's episode, titled "Still," and Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus). If you've been watching, you already know that the group of zombieapocalyptic refugees were forced to scatter into several smaller teams after a particularly bloody raid, which is where the mid-season 4 finale left off last year. So as the latter half of the season commenced, we learn a lot more detail about each individual character (including the once prudent Michonne).

In an especially quiet episode on Sunday, Beth (Emily Kinney), devout daughter of a preacher man, has a desperate craving for alcohol as she finally comes to terms with her own mortality. A wilted flower to Daryl's aggressive and resourceful modus operandi, the harsh dichotomy between the two finally levels off as Daryl's demons come barreling out of the closet by the end of the episode. Those viewers who were on the fence about Daryl's transformation from hillbilly racist in season 1 to empathetic hero may finally come to realize his tortured soul.



After the two vanquish more of the undead (with Daryl doing most the heavy lifting) and pass through rooms of decaying zombies hung from nooses in an abandoned house, which added an even more emotionally destitute tone to the episode, the always diplomatic Beth tries to calm Daryl's nerves by inviting him to play the classic drinking game, "I Have Never." I was a bit concerned about where this was all going, only because I do not want to see these two in a romantic pairing. But the writers smartly turned what was expected to be a lighthearted activity into an emotionally candid awakening for both characters. In this interlude, we find out to our surprise that Daryl has been harboring some regrets from his past, growing up in older brother Merle's shadow and essentially basking in a purposeless existence. It was only at the advent of their current living nightmare that allowed him to finally use his natural deviance and devil-may-care attitude to help not only others but himself. But, really, he's just been going through the motions merely in order to survive--nothing more and nothing less. Will his past sins come rushing to the forefront on Judgment Day? While The Walking Dead hasn't hit us over the head with any religious commentary, it is interesting to note the rather spiritual path this episode has taken.



In a show in which we've seen heroes turn to antiheroes and antiheroes turn to villains, Daryl's humanizing turning point was just another example of how we never know what to expect from these characters. We are still learning what makes them tick, cry, and even smile (hey Michonne!). I've ridiculed Beth's gratuitous placement among the characters in the past, but even she was alluring to watch as she struggled with her fears and all but conceded to her own uselessness. The truth is, without the task of caring for eternally stranded baby Judith, she has nothing on which to focus her mind except her own impending death.

"Still" was a bleak yet cathartic episode for both characters, and posed the question, "How do we live when we have nothing left to live for?" Capped off with a rather satisfying scene of Daryl and Beth burning down the house where they just finished unveiling souls, "Still" ends with the two moving forward to what we can assume will be the next phase in their emotional and mental journey.

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9pm on AMC. 

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