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Saturday, August 30, 2014

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

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

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

*Will not be screening NAS: TIME IS ILLMATIC

Oct. 2nd          Rochester, NY        Main Street Armony*

Oct. 3rd          Albany, NY             Palace Theatre

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

Oct. 5th          Glenside, PA            Keswick Theatre

Oct. 8th          Toronto, ON            Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Oct. 9th          Detroit, MI               The Fillmore Detroit

Oct. 10th        Hammond, IN          Horseshoe

Oct. 11th        Lincoln, NE              Bourbon Theatre*

Oct. 12th        Denver, CO             Paramount Theatre

Oct. 15th        Seattle, WA             Moore Theatre

Oct. 16th        Vancouver, BC        Vogue Theatre

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

Oct. 18th        Los Angeles, CA      Orpheum Theatre

Oct. 19th        Oakland, CA            Fox Theater     

For more information, go to

Watch the trailer:   

Thursday, August 28, 2014

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

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

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

Read the synopsis:

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

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

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

Watch the trailer:

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

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

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

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

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

From the press release:

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

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

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

I am SO there. Who's with me?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Gemma Teller-Morrow (Katel Sagal):

Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam):

Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman):

Who else is excited?

Monday, August 25, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

AS ABOVE/SO BELOW will open in theaters Friday.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

It's Time to Take Back the Action Genre

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 21, 2014

So Far, THE DROP Looks Pretty Excellent

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

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

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

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

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

But then:

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

Check out a few clips from the film below:

THE DROP hits theaters September 12. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Watch Sally Hawkins and Jim Broadbent's Superb Tribeca Film For Free

A few months ago I had the pleasure of watching THE PHONE CALL, an intriguing short film starring Sally Hawkins and Jim Broadbent, at the Tribeca Film Festival. It was one of those by chance viewings that I went to without any knowledge other than the two awesome actors involved, and I was pleasantly surprised by it. So much so that I immediately took to social media to rave about it and plead to the gods for a full-length feature film, especially since the short film provided such a strong foundation for an engrossing story.

Well, there doesn't seem to be much luck for a full-length film (right now anyway), but I've just received word that you can watch the short film for free online and vote for it in The Wrap's Short List Festival here. You will only be able to access it for one week only, so definitely jump on it. Here's the synopsis:

When a shy lady (Sally Hawkins) who works in a helpline call center takes a phone call from a distraught man (Jim Broadbent), she has no idea that the encounter will change her life forever.

Watch it here:

Don't forget to vote for it! Happy viewing!
When a shy lady (Sally Hawkins) who works in a helpline call center takes a phone call from a distraught man (Jim Broadbent), she has no idea that the encounter will change her life forever. - See more at:
When a shy lady (Sally Hawkins) who works in a helpline call center takes a phone call from a distraught man (Jim Broadbent), she has no idea that the encounter will change her life forever. - See more at:

Watch Sally Hawkins and Jim Broadbent's Superb Tribeca Film For Free

A few months ago I had the pleasure of watching THE PHONE CALL, an intriguing short film starring Sally Hawkins and Jim Broadbent, at the Tribeca Film Festival. It was one of those by chance viewings that I went to without any knowledge other than the two awesome actors involved, and I was pleasantly surprised by it. So much so that I immediately took to social media to rave about it and plead to the gods for a full-length feature film, especially since the short film provided such a strong foundation for an engrossing story.

Well, there doesn't seem to be much luck for a full-length film (right now anyway), but I've just received word that you can watch the short film for free online and vote for it in The Wrap's Short List Festival here. You will only be able to access it for one week only, so definitely jump on it. Here's the synopsis:

When a shy lady (Sally Hawkins) who works in a helpline call center takes a phone call from a distraught man (Jim Broadbent), she has no idea that the encounter will change her life forever.

Watch it here:

Don't forget to vote for it! Happy viewing!
When a shy lady (Sally Hawkins) who works in a helpline call center takes a phone call from a distraught man (Jim Broadbent), she has no idea that the encounter will change her life forever. - See more at:
When a shy lady (Sally Hawkins) who works in a helpline call center takes a phone call from a distraught man (Jim Broadbent), she has no idea that the encounter will change her life forever. - See more at:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Teaser Trailer for Jason Reitman's New Film about Digital Relationships is Aptly Sans Dialogue

Lately Hollywood has really been fascinated with our continually evolving--and increasingly aloof--communications style in the digital age. Sometimes it pays off, like with the wonderfully bleak Her, while other times it ends up lost in translation, as is the case with Emoticon ;). Director Jason Reitman aims to tackle the subject next with his new project MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN. The film, which stars Jennifer Garner, Adam Sandler, Rosemarie DeWitt, Ansel Elgort, and Judy Greer among others, looks to approach our digital dependence and its influences on social issues--for better or worse. More:

MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN follows the story of a group of high school teenagers and their parents as they attempt to navigate the many ways the internet has changed their relationships, their communication, their self-image, and their love lives. The film attempts to stare down social issues such as video game culture, anorexia, infidelity, fame hunting, and the proliferation of illicit material on the internet. As each character and each relationship is tested, we are shown the variety of roads people choose - some tragic, some hopeful - as it becomes clear that no one is immune to this enormous social change that has come through our phones, our tablets, and our computers.

The first teaser trailer is appropriately without dialogue, featuring a just over two-minute montage of scenes from the film that capture its themes using text messages, chat room screens and online escort services. I definitely want to check it out as a fan of Reitman's work (minus last year's Labor Day), but I am mostly hyped to see him reunite with Garner, who I still claim delivered her best big screen performance to dated in Juno. And I just really need her to remind me why I still root for her. Also, when's the last good movie Sandler has been in? Anyone? *Crickets*

At any rate, check out the trailer and let me know your thoughts.

MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN will make its world premiere during next month's Toronto International Film Festival.

WE tv's THE DIVIDE is One of the Most Daring TV Shows Right Now about the Legal System

You know how I'm always talking about how TV is boldly going where current film has been too afraid to go? Well, you can add WE tv's new show The Divide on that super long list of shows you need to watch if you know what's good for you. You're probably thinking, wait WE tv has scripted television? Yes, the network has finally made the leap to scripted television and they are coming out swinging with a show that is more daring and more right now than many other shows on TV. So much so that the ladies of Cinema in Noir and I included it in our discussion about TV shows and film with social/political justice themes on Sunday's episode.

So, what's it about? Well, the show is at its core a legal drama that spends very little time in the courtroom and all its time exploring the personal morality of the victims, lawyers, prosecutors and everyone in between--for better or for worse. But it doesn't sugarcoat the legal process or the complexities between good and evil, innocent or guilty. The story kicks off with the case of Jared (True Blood's Chris Bauer), a man convicted and sentenced to death for breaking and entering into a home, and killing a African-American married couple and their young daughter, leaving only a grieving second daughter (Britne Oldford) as an unexpected witness. While the prosecuting lawyer, Adam Page (Damon Gupton), thinks the case is in the bag, a renegade team led by Clark Rylance (Pail Schneider) and his super ambitious law school intern Christine Rosa (Marin Ireland) feverishly work to clear Jared's name. Just as the Innocence Initiative compiled enough evidence to exonerate Jared, he is executed.

And that's just the first episode.

Of course, as the story this hitches a conversation about the legal system--how it can be skewed racially, politically and economically at the benefit or downfall of both the victims or the perpetrators. But the show, co-created by Scandal's Tony Goldwyn, doesn't present its characters as martyrs or villains. Rather, it establishes them as humans--stacked with layers and capable of just as much wrong as right that they sometimes begin to even question themselves. In fact, since we're dealing with such intelligent characters, they have the ability to scrutinize into the nuances of law and society, and present it in a way that not only provokes thought but also provides insight on their own ethics. These characters are wonderfully flawed, adamant in their views whether you agree with them or not, and represent the natural duality of human nature.

It's not a show about black or white, right or wrong. Rather, it's the in-between that is The Divide's sweet spot, what it chooses to evoke as it aims to teach the law without succumbing to its ethics. The dialogue is filled with moments in which the characters speak out against injustice while it also shows the intricacies of own actions. With just two more episodes left of the first season, The Divide needs to be on your must-watch list.

The Divide airs Wednesdays at 9pm on WE tv.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Review: Romantic Drama LOVE IS STRANGE is a Lovely But Baffling Rough Draft Film

One of the worst kinds of films to watch are the ones that have all the potential, and fail to pursue it. This is what the main problem is in writer/director Ira Sachs' new romantic drama, LOVE IS STRANGE. A stellar cast? Yep. A vast setting? Yep, New York City. A good story? I do believe one is in there somewhere...

The thing is, there are several angles Sachs could have explored in the film. But he doesn't. As a result, the story is unfocused and severely lacks a point. John Lithgow and Alfred Molina, two fine actors, star as a newly married couple, who are forced to vacate their posh New York City apartment of more than 20 years after George (Molina) is unexpectedly fired from his job as Catholic school music teacher once the priest in charge got wind of his nuptials. Ben (Lithgow) is a 70-something year old man, a senior citizen by law, we're only left to presume that George is significantly younger than him by the way they both carry themselves (Ben has a fairly slow walk, compared to George's sprightly step). But the film doesn't do a very good job at making that point otherwise, unless you count the scene in a real estate office when an agent mentions that Ben is eligible for a senior living discount. A relevant passage in the film that is sorely left dangling.

The premise is vast but merely swirls around topics peripherally. Certainly there would have been something worth exploring if we were given a little more information on the history of Ben and George--how they met, how they've evolved since then, etc. Aside from a short but lovely scene between them at a bar, when Ben casually mentions his past transgressions, we don't have much to go on. And, ironically, that was during the last few minutes of the movie. It's as if we were just starting to get to know them when they credits began to roll.

This couple is one of the many victims of New York City's skyrocketing rent prices, after George was unceremoniously terminated from his job ultimately due to prejudice. That's a story within itself--how does that firing affect him emotionally? How does it affect his relationship? While Sachs seems to be trying to tell that story, however pervasively, it's not very coherent. We see George giving private music lessons to a few students for extra money, and admittedly coming off a bit frustrated doing so sometimes. There is also a narration by Ben alluding to the fact that he reached out to students and families he was closed to in his position as a means to gain their support, but nothing ultimately comes from this. In fact, it seems more as a Dear Diary letter to himself than to any person or people in particular. It's just sloppily done, and doesn't serve the characters at all.

Beyond the couple's financial and habitual shake-up, there is a lurking story that clearly Sachs wanted to do more with but doesn't quite invest in it. Ben and George decide to live apart while they restore their monetary situation due to 1) the teeny apartments in New York make it hard to accommodate more than one guest at a time and 2) they don't want to venture outside the city to stay with a relative in the suburbs who has enough space to bunk both of them. This second note seems particularly tedious since it's clear that Ben and George don't want to live apart but refuse to move "an hour and a half" outside the city to lessen the strain on their relationship. Well, that and the fact that neither George nor Ben can drive, and George wants to at least maintain his private lessons in the city while he continues to look for a new job (Ben's job as a painter makes location less of a factor for him). But still, it seems like one obstacle that could have been avoided.

This struggle for new living quarters comes off as far more of a hassle story-wise than anything else. George moves downstairs in his neighbors' small apartment, while Ben opts to stay with his nephew Elliot and his wife Kate (Darren E. Burrows and Marisa Tomei) and their son Joey (Charlie Tahan). The latter which sparks turmoil when Ben's ubiquitous presence disturbs Kate's work-from-home zen, and also annoys Joey, who's forced to share his bunk bed with his great uncle. No, it's not ideal. But Sachs seems to be driving at a point here with this subplot, but never quite gets there. Joey at first seems like an awkward young boy struggling with the concept of sexuality--his and Ben's. But later we learn that he's really just an awkward boy with uncontrollably pretentious behavior, while his mother just sits idly by and accepts it. This generational disconnect between Ben and Joey touches on Joey's rather misguided perspective on homosexuality, which of course rubs Ben the wrong way. But what could have yield for an interesting dialogue was dropped and re-routed completely, without really being addressed. We can only chalk it up to a poorly executed coming-of-age storyline that could have been so much more.

And on the other hand, George is stuck in a perpetual party zone with his former neighbors and current roommates, reduced to sleeping on the couch and subjected to loud music and far too many other random guests sipping drinks, dancing and playing cards. The greatest scene in the film is when George picks up and leaves the apartment in the pouring rain to ask Ben if he could spend the night with him this one time. Their embrace is sweet, pitiful, but hugely effective. It gets us back to the strength of the film--the forced estrangement of Ben and George. These moments (including the one when they're in the bar at the end), while few and far between, are genuinely tender scenes--even if they don't last long and don't at all make up for the rest of the film.

Even the title, LOVE IS STRANGE, doesn't refer to any of the themes represented in the film. Love is gorgeous, like the postcard-setting of the film. Love is amorous, like that between Ben and George. Love is hard to understand, like in the case of Joey. And yes, love can be strange sometimes. But LOVE IS STRANGE never quite helps us come to this conclusion. It just bounces around its concepts without actually arriving at a point. Which makes it more of a brainstorm of nice ideas than a fleshed out film. A real shame.

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

LOVE IS STRANGE is in theaters August 22nd.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Who Should Play Misty Copeland on the Big Screen?

There's a reason why I have a healthy obsession with Misty Copeland. The 31-year-old ballerina overcame insurmountable odds to become the third African-American soloist ever for the prestigious American Ballet Theater in its 77 year history (and the only African-American in the entire company right now) has a body that is nothing short of a work of art, and recently starred in this kickass commercial for Under Armour that went viral:

How can you not bow down? So you can just imagine my excitement when it was announced this week that New Line Cinema will release a big screen movie based on Copeland's own memoir entitled Life in Motion. I. AM. ELATED. But, then I learned that Adam Shankman (who most recently directed the guiltiest pleasure of them all, Rock of Ages) is co-producing the film, and...I get a little less excited. I'm mostly concerned that the film is going to turn into a sloppy, high school musical theater mess and not the super amazing film it can be, one that centers on a black female role model--a virtual anomaly on the big screen these days. *Heavy Sigh*

But, I'm trying to keep hope alive for the project. Which got me thinking: who should play Misty Copeland on the big screen? The first actress who comes to mind is Tessa Thompson, who's quickly climbing the Hollywood ladder these days with projects like Dear White People and the upcoming civil rights film Selma. But I want to open up the casting call to you and ask your thoughts on who should play the dancer in the film. Cast your vote below in the comments box. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Blake Lively Has Apparently Found the Secret to Eternal Youth in an Upcoming Romantic Film

UPDATE: The release date for THE AGE OF ADALINE has been changed to Apil 25, 2015.

But get this: it's apparently a bad thing. While most Hollywood starlets are desperately trying to hold on to their youth by any means possible, it appears that Blake Lively is plagued by a condition that halts her age in a new movie titled THE AGE OF ADALINE. Set in the 20th century, the movie also stars Harrison Ford, Kathy Baker and Ellen Burstyn. Here's a little more about it:

Adaline (Blake Lively) ceases to age following an accident one icy night, but keeps her condition a closely-guarded secret while embarking on a number of incredible adventures throughout the 20th Century.

After years of a solitary life, she finds the love and courage that enable her to fully begin living.

I have to admit, I have a soft spot for Lively (mostly because of her awesome red carpet style). But I don't know about this film, and her playing this part. The character seems better fit for a more experienced actress, someone who may be able to portray the nuances, and the premise--especially that overly neat last sentence in the synopsis--seems super generic. But I'm sure there will be someone who will try to compare this to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but I'm not sure if this story is as rich.  

Lee Toland Krieger, who did the awesome Celeste & Jesse Forever, directed  THE AGE OF ADALINE that is currently in post-production. Which certainly piques my interest, so I'll have to keep this on my radar when it hits theaters January 23rd. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Director of INFERNAL AFFAIRS Returns with an Asian-American Gangster Film Set in '80s and '90s New York City

Why am I just hearing about this movie? It looks like Martin Scorsese is finally paying back the good folks whose movie he remade with The Departed by executive producing an explosive new film that chronicles the real-life story of the the Green Dragons, a Chinese-American gang in '80s and '90s New York City.  And it looks amazing.

Those of you who have seen Infernal Affairs (it is still waiting for me in my Netflix queue) are already familiar with director Wai-keung Lau's slick style. Meanwhile, the rest of us are getting a great introduction here in the first trailer for REVENGE OF THE GREEN DRAGONS, which is co-directed and co-written by Andrew Lau and based on a 1992 New Yorker article by Frederick Dannen. The young and largely unfamiliar cast (to me anyway) offer a balance of authenticity and energy needed for a story like this which can really catapult their careers. Oh, Ray Liotta is also in the movie because what's a gangster movie without Ray Liotta, am I right? Learn more about it below:

In the vein of crime classics like MEAN STREETS and INFERNAL AFFAIRS, REVENGE OF THE GREEN DRAGONS follows two immigrant brothers Sonny (Justin Chon) and Steven (Kevin Wu) who survive the impoverished despair of New York in the 1980s by joining Chinatown gang "The Green Dragons". The brothers quickly rise up the ranks, drawing the unwanted attention of hard-boiled city cops. After an ill- fated love affair pits Sonny against his own brother, he sets out for revenge on the very gang who made him who he is. From acclaimed Director Andrew Lau and Andrew Loo, and legendary Executive Producer Martin Scorsese comes a brilliant mix between a Hong Kong action film and a New York City crime thriller, portraying the never-before-told true story of "The Green Dragons". body is ready for this movie. Watch the clip:

REVENGE OF THE GREEN DRAGONS premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival next month, followed by a theatrical release in October. 

Who Is Charlie Mortdecai, Though? Looking for Answers in the Teaser Trailer for Johnny Depp's New Film

UPDATE: The release date for MORTDECAI has been changed to January 23, 2015.

As apparently Johnny Depp's last surviving fan, I often feel the need to remind people that he is actually a pretty great actor when given the right movie. Is his newest film, MORTDECAI, proof of that? Eh, I don't know. But I'd be lying if said I didn't chuckle a few times while watching the teaser trailer (and I do believe that it is in fact a comedy).

Actually, MORTDECAI may be the most Johnny Depp movie we've seen in a while, complete with quirk and inside jokes that we may never understand. The teaser doesn't give away much, except for the fact that Johnny Depp plays the title character, a somewhat sloppy art detective who is inexplicably charming to many (include Gwyneth Paltrow, who's also in the film). More in the synopsis:

Juggling some angry Russians, the British Mi5, his impossibly leggy wife and an international terrorist, debonair art dealer and part time rogue Charlie Mortdecai (Johnny Depp) must traverse the globe armed only with his good looks and special charm in a race to recover a stolen painting rumored to contain the code to a lost bank account filled with Nazi gold.

Again, super Johnny Depp-ish. Jeff Goldblum, Ewan McGregor and Paul Bettany are also in the film that is based on the novel "Don’t Point That Thing At Me" by Kyril Bonfiglioli (Which I'm thinking you may have to be a fan of in order to truly appreciate this trailer. Otherwise, you may be scratching your head through some parts of it like I was). The film is directed by David Koepp, who also directed Depp ten years ago in The Secret Window

Check out the trailer for MORTDECAI:

MORTDECAI opens nationwide on February 6th. 

Trailer Watch: Kelly Reilly is a Paranormal Vixen in the Cheesiest Looking YA Thriller Ever

Am I the only one who thought that after her performance in Flight, Kelly Reilly would slowly become a household name? Anyone? Guess not. Especially not after catching an episode of her TV show, Black Box, which was so aggressively unwatchable that I almost shed a tear. And it looks like the actress is continuing on a slippery slope in the trailer for INNOCENCE, an upcoming thriller based on the YA bestselling novel of the same name by Jane Mendelsohn. The film, in theaters September 5th, stars Reilly as paranormal vixen of sorts who sets her sights on a school of teens that reek of virgin blood.

Already I'm like, Kelly Reilly, WHY? And this poster, though? I can't even.

Anyway, Sophie Curtis (daughter of women's designer Jill Stuart) is the main teen victim in the movie, and Linus Roache (most known for his work on Law & Order) plays her dad. Sarita Choudhury (Homeland, Mississippi Masala) is also featured in the film. Here's a little more info from the synopsis:

Haunted by the death and dreams of her beloved mother in a Montauk surfing accident, 16 year old Beckett (Sophie Curtis) and her father, novelist Miles Warner (Linus Roache), move to Manhattan and attempt to piece together their shattered life. Now enrolled at the exclusive Hamilton preparatory school, her psychosis and hallucinations intensify with the dubious suicides of current and past students as does her first love for Tobey Crawford (Graham Phillips). The discovery that her new school may be run by a coven of beautiful and seductive women who perpetuate their youth by drinking the blood of virgins becomes the ultimate challenge of Beckett and Tobey's young lives. INNOCENCE is a chilling allegory of the precarious state of an American teenager, explores themes of loss, the human condition and a society torn between purity and narcissism.

I know, super generic. I can only hope it's better than it looks. But big screen YA fiction is hot right now, so this could already have a built-in audience. Watch the trailer:


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

He Really Was One of a Kind: Robin Williams (1951-2014)

It's been less than 24 hours since I heard that 63-year-old actor/comedian Robin Williams has passed away, and the news has yet to sink in. He was a thespian that no matter what mood I was in, I could look to any number of his performances and my spirits were instantly lifted. He had the kind of gift, a style best described as frenzied, slapstick comedy as its most genius, that was once in a lifetime. Like lightning in a bottle.

I first remember his larger-than-life personality on the quirky comedy, Mork & Mindy, which introduced us to Williams as a lovable alien--something that could have easily been dismissed as cheap comedy, but in the hands of Williams was nothing short of wonderful. I know for many of us the shock of his death has brought heavy sorrow, but here I try to remember Williams as an actor who always made me smile, even in his most dramatic roles. He will surely be missed.

Below are my favorite Robin Williams characters:

Daniel Hillard/Mrs. Doubtfire in MRS. DOUBTFIRE


Mork in MORK & MINDY

Himself on COMIC RELIEF (1987)

Armand Goldman in THE BIRDCAGE

How will you remember Robin Williams?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Could This Be the Movie That Will Finally Make Me Care About Eddie Redmayne?

Literally every day someone on my Twitter timeline proclaims their adoration for Eddie Redmayne, and I am always surprised by it. Is it his British accent? Or the fact that he played the empathetic Marius in the most recent version of Les Mis or Marilyn Monroe's puppy dog superfan documentarian in My Week with Marilyn? I mean, WHAT is the appeal? While he was decent in Les Mis, I tend to find him generally forgettable. So when I received a press release last week about his latest movie, a biopic on theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, I didn't jump to read it.

Flash forward a few days later to this morning when I finally bit the bullet and checked out the movie, intriguingly titled THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the trailer. Also, it made me interested to learn more about Hawking, the man who Redmayne is portraying here who at the age of 21 was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. Co-starring Felicity Jones (another actor who has yet to make an impression on me), the movie is part romance, part nerd drama, and part tearjerking Oscar bait (don't deny it). But what I was most impressed by was how Redmayne has seemingly melted into this particularly difficult role. More on the movie below:

Starring Eddie Redmayne ("Les Misérables") and Felicity Jones ("The Amazing Spider-Man 2"), this is the extraordinary story of one of the world's greatest living minds, the renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, who falls deeply in love with fellow Cambridge student Jane Wilde. Once a healthy, active young man, Hawking received an earth-shattering diagnosis at 21 years of age. With Jane fighting tirelessly by his side, Stephen embarks on his most ambitious scientific work, studying the very thing he now has precious little of - time. Together, they defy impossible odds, breaking new ground in medicine and science, and achieving more than they could ever have dreamed. The film is based on the memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, by Jane Hawking, and is directed by Academy Award winner James Marsh ("Man on Wire").

Watch the trailer:

So maybe I'll become a Redmayne fan yet (just don't look for pictures of him pinned to my Pinterest boards). THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival next month, and will hit select cities starting November 7th. 


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Few Thoughts on Lupita Nyong'o's Upcoming Project, the Film Adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Novel "Americanah"

So, remember when we were all collectively sweating over Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o's virtually bare list of forthcoming films on her IMDB page? Well, you may have heard by now that the actress (and bonafide magazine cover superstar) has since been cast in an as yet "undisclosed" role in Star Wars VII and the live action remake of The Jungle Book. But the news that I remain most fascinated by, and which received far less attention, was her buying the rights to star in and produce the film adaptation of bestselling author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's (Half of a Yellow Sun) newest novel, Americanah.

Why? Well, for a number of reasons. The first being that it's a black fiction dramatic narrative inspired by a book, the type of movie that is so desperately lacking in the Hollywood mainstream in which biopics and comedies are currently taking precedence. The second is that we will finally see Nyong'o in a lead role, playing a complex, opinionated yet vulnerable character that will undoubtedly have an equal ability to comfort as well as alienate audiences. And I can't wait for it.

It's not that I particularly love the book, however. I've recently finished reading it and while I really like a lot about it, including the fact that it's such a bold statement on how we see ourselves, at times it seems overstuffed. I love Adichie's eloquent writing style, and her natural ability to draw readers into the story of Ifemelu, a young Nigerian woman who relocates to the U.S. to advance her education and finds romance, a complicated social and racial bureaucracy and that the pursuit of happiness has multiple setbacks along the way. At its best, Americanah is an engrossing coming-of-age story that is intertwined with a winding, intermittent long-distance romance that is reminiscent of many classic literary love affairs in both structure and language. 

Where the novel falters is in its desire to be so many things at once, which has left me really curious about how the feature film will eventually take shape and how it will be focused. While the two main characters, Ifemelu and her faraway love, Obinze, are deeply realized in their perspectives on life, literature and the institution of race as they travel to lands by which people are defined by it, there is a third voice in the story that often overpowers them both--Adichie. A widely celebrated author whose thoughts and racism and feminism has captivated readers and fans across the globe, Adichie here compiles her thoughts on American racism through the keyboard of Ifemelu, a part-time culture blogger whose online observations on race, written anonymously, become a haven for her (and her many readers) to openly express what it means to be an African immigrant in the U.S., a black American in the U.S., and a white person in the U.S. They're all valid points that will certainly incite think, applause or, yes, maybe even condemnation. But this commentary may have been better presented as part of the frequent dialogue Ifemelu has with her friends while in the U.S. Her friends, notably all of whom she knows through American boyfriends, opine on similar topics during which Ifemelu rarely chimes in with a response, choosing to reserve it for her blog instead.

This narrative technique clunkily adds a third main character to an otherwise well drawn story. But it does makes me wonder how it will be done on screen. Would Ifemelu (Nyong'o) do a voice-over narration of these blog notes, or will those thoughts be woven in the dialogue (which would be my preference)? Or will that commentary be absent entirely, in favor of the coming-of-age love story which may be considered safer for American audiences to digest? I have to say, I would be disappointed if they omit it entirely because part of what resonates most with Americanah is its cultural commentary, often biting but always truthful. As we're about to welcome Dear White People, seemingly a more satirical look at the cultural divide, to the Hollywood mix, I wonder whether Americanah will strike a similar chord with audiences--despite its different tone.

As for the casting, I think Nyong'o is the perfect actress for Ifemelu, and can effortlessly portray both the candor and allure of the character. So much so that I couldn't get her out of my head as I read the book. The only thing is she may have to grow her hair, or wear a wig, especially since hair is a brief yet important cultural point in the story. Also, Ifemelu is described as "overweight" at one point, which of course Nyong'o is not but that's not particularly something that adds to the story. Now I am curious to see who will be cast as Ifemelu's family, and love interests (especially Obinze). Let the fantasy casting begin!

For those of you who also read the book, what are your thoughts on the film adaptation and who else would you like to see cast?

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Hollywood Laziness Strikes Again: BRIDESMAIDS Director to Helm a "GHOSTBUSTERS for Women"

You know what I'm tired of? Well, actually a lot of things. But do you know what I'm tired of at this very moment? Hollywood try to cater to women and audiences of color by lazily rebooting older films by adding the insulting tag line "with women" or "with black people." We've seen it recently with the forthcoming Expendabelles (you know, Expendables but "with women") and Annie (the exact same movie from before but, you guessed it, with black stars this time). We even saw it with the sleeper hit About Last Night, a remake of the 1986 romantic dramedy About Last Night... (which had an all-white cast).

Now Variety reports that Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) will be directing a Ghostbusters reboot, but "with women" this time. *SIGH*

As I'm written before on this blog, I don't always have such a knee-jerk adverse reaction to all reboots like many of my counterparts, especially since some of these cinematic revisits I've been pleasantly surprised by (including About Last Night). But it's the careless marketing that grates on my nerves most. Dear Hollywood: no so-called target audience likes to be told explicitly that they're you're target audience. Don't tell me what movie I'm going to like or dislike simply because you say so. As a matter of fact, I have no problem with Expendables, About Last Night... and Steel Magnolias (which was recently remade with an all-black cast on Lifetime), and don't have qualms with their reboots (save for SM, which was awful but the talent was there). What I do have a problem with is the assumption that these certain groups (women and people of color) do not have their own stories to tell. In fact, there are plenty of original musicals with talent of color that are just waiting to be brought to the big screen (hello, I'm still waiting for Memphis, Passing Strange and Porgy and Bess to happen). There are plenty of women-driven sci-fi and horror comedies that have never seen their way onto the big screen. So many movies are adapted from books, but a much smaller percentage of them are genre stories featuring women and people of color that Hollywood has conveniently overlooked. Repeatedly.

Thankfully the small screen is making up for Hollywood's sshortsightedness with shows like Sleepy Hollow, True Blood and Orange is the New Black. But it's high time for the big screen to catch up with this. At the very least, stop acting as though there's such a shortage of stories that already feature these target groups (which reminds me of a particularly eyeroll-inducing article in The Hollywood Reporter that asked "Who is the New Denzel?"). My Gawd, the inertia from Hollywood when it comes to women and talent of color is absolutely mind-numbing. Puhl-lease do better.

I'm sorry if I throw Hollywood off by avoiding so many sloppy romcoms "aimed at women" or the 9,000 Tyler Perry movies that come out each year, in favor of the smaller independent films or movies like Man of Steel or Think Like a Man. But I can't be the only one who's sick and tired of the okey doke. While the idea of a horror comedy with a female cast is enthralling (and I do love what Feig did with Bridesmaids), would it be too much to ask that we headline a fresh franchise of our own?

I mean, is it just me??

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