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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Movie You Need to Be Talking About: ADVANTAGEOUS

You may remember when I first mentioned ADVANTAGEOUS among several other Sundance films I was anticipating this year. Well, full disclosure, I kinda forgot about it until it popped up in my "recommended" Netflix queue last weekend. Why didn't anyone tell me it was out this weekend?! Anyway, I caught up with it and I have to tell you, it exceeded my expectations. It's a small film that tackles a massive issue in a very vulnerable way, yielding a story about a mother's love, self-worth, and youth obsession.

ADVANTAGEOUS is set in a not-so-distant future (actually, if not for the flying cars, it would be identical to modern times), and follows Gwen (Jacqueline Kim, who also co-wrote the screenplay), a woman working for a technically advanced wellness company that equates beauty with youth and helps women sustain their value by offering a unique procedure that preserves their age. Ironically, as the spokesperson for the company, Gwen finds herself in the position where she has to consider this procedure for herself once she is let go from her job due to her "advanced age."(By the way, she's probably, like, 40--if that--but still bad for business). As I said, not very far off from today's times.

Though the basis of this film is familiar, what makes the film so special are the relationships between the characters and Kim's compelling performance of a woman drawn to desperate measures. As the mother of a young daughter in a society quick to invalidate women, Gwen sees a hopelessness in Jules's (her daughter) future and wants to be able to at least be a role model for her, someone she can be proud of. Through Kim's visceral performance, you feel the agony of each passing day which is only making Gwen older. Another day without work, without promise, and without a real life for herself. You feel that in every scene Kim is in (which is most of them, if not all), the utter claustrophobia of Gwen's life.

There's a heart-crushing moment in the film in which Gwen admits that Jules is the only thing that makes her happy. You feel this most in the quiet, bittersweet scenes the mother and daughter share, which ultimately serve to hasten her life-altering decision. But it is only toward the end of film that we realize the cost.

Directed and co-written by Jennifer Phang, ADVANTAGEOUS is a surprisingly touching and purposeful film that revitalizes certain elements of the sci-fi genre while presenting two powerful voices in women filmmakers: Phang and Kim. I look forward to seeing what they have in store next.

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

Watch the trailer:

Monday, June 29, 2015

Amy Schumer's TRAINWRECK Looks Ridiculous. I'm In.

I have yet to start watching Inside Amy Schumer (it's been in my Netflix DVD queue for a while, because social media peer pressure is real), so I am not familiar with Schumer's work despite her rising popularity. To be honest, I just figured she was just another fad, like Chelsea Handler (remember her?). But after watching the trailer for the new comedy, TRAINWRECK, which the comedienne also wrote for the big screen, I now get it the appeal. She's comfortable enough to laugh at herself like Kristen Wiig and has the ballsy humor of Roseanne rolled into one. Quite a clever combination.  

Judd Apatow (Knocked Up) directed the film, which also stars Bill Hader, Tilda Swinton, LeBron James (yes, the basketball player) and Vanessa Bayer (SNL). More about it below:

No contemporary filmmaker has chronicled the messy human experience with the eye and ear of a comedic cultural anthropologist like Judd Apatow. Hits as varied as those he's directed, like Knocked Up and The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and those he's produced, like Superbad and Bridesmaids, are all unified by their honest, unflinching, comic look at how complicated it is to grow up in the modern world.

Apatow has also built a history of helping break distinctive new comedy voices into the mainstream, from Seth Rogen to Lena Dunham among many others. Now, in his fifth feature film as a director, Apatow again brings a portrait of an unforgettable character, and a portrayal by a breakout new comedy star, together in Trainwreck, written by and starring Amy Schumer (Inside Amy Schumer) as a woman who lives her life without apologies, even when maybe she should apologize.

Since she was a little girl, it's been drilled into Amy's (Schumer) head by her rascal of a dad (Colin Quinn) that monogamy isn't realistic. Now a magazine writer, Amy lives by that credo—enjoying what she feels is an uninhibited life free from stifling, boring romantic commitment—but in actuality, she's kind of in a rut. When she finds herself starting to fall for the subject of the new article she's writing, a charming and successful sports doctor named Aaron Conners (Bill Hader), Amy starts to wonder if other grown-ups, including this guy who really seems to like her, might be on to something.

Universal Pictures released a few new photos from the film. Check 'em out:

TRAINWRECK is in theaters July 17. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

I Can See Why Amy Winehouse's Parents Didn't Care For This Documentary

Whenever I hear that a family has tried to put the kibosh on a documentary about a revered celebrity, I can't help it, I am instantly intrigued. What is it that they don't want us to know? What does the film show? So of course, I became obsessed with the thought of a documentary on Amy Winehouse. I mean, as much as I adored her talent (and it still stands among the greatest), much of her troubled personal life played out in the headlines so often that it almost feels like there wouldn't be any more story to tell.

But I figured AMY, directed by Asif Kapadia (Senna), would give us a perspective of her life that we hadn't seen, one that the tabloids overlooked. Guys, after watching the 128-minute film, I can honestly say that I have never seen a documentary that has turned me off so much as this one has. Now I think I understand why Winehouse's parents were so adamant about this film not getting out to the public. It's not just that it's difficult to see Winehouse spiral due to her substance addictions; it's everything from the way it's shot (sketchy camera phone-like, tabloidy) down to its scattered array of strictly audio interviews with her closest friends, boyfriends, business allies (too many of which seem to be extracted from radio and TV programs), along with personal home videos, which seem especially exploitative. It all just looks like it's been slapped together as a school project, not a Cannes Film Festival darling.

Will you learn anything about the soulful songstress from this film? No, not really. Her addiction and romances were heavily documented in the media, so scenes of her falling down on stage and walking around London barefoot after a long night out won't seem like revelations, though they amass much of the film. But what may come off as a surprise to some is how complacent her parents are depicted in the film of her problems--from her undiagnosed bulimia in her adolescence (something with which she suffered the rest of her life) to a particularly brutal drug binge which resulted in her having a seizure. Her parents, despite how lovingly they appear in the film, were portrayed as mere ornaments in Winehouse's life, and less like the emotional edifices she so desperately needed. Either they were passive (her mother is on record as saying that she considered Winehouse's "diet" a "phase"), or they were trying to cash in on her celebrity (her father, who to Winehouse's own admission was absent during one stage of her life due to a long-term extramarital affair, went so far as to crash her much needed vacation and bring a camera crew along with him he says "for a documentary being filmed about him").

What does work in the film is listening to Winehouse talk about what she was going through, through the lyrics of her songs that are scrawled across the screen as we watch her reveal her inner thoughts in footage from her recording sessions and writing retreats. It's an intimate glance at the woman behind the music, something the film so severely needs yet Kapadia decides to focus instead on the sensationalism of her image. As a result, AMY looks at its subject from the point of view of the audience and not from vantage point of neither Winehouse nor anyone who knew her beyond the fame. Painting her as someone who became a product of her own celebrity rather than as a shy, incredibly talented yet destructive teen-turned-young woman is a disservice to both her legacy and the fans who love her. We don't learn anything new about her, and in fact the film creates an even further divide between the artist and the fans who love her.

While it has its moments of close familiarity, AMY plays like a choppy unauthorized biography that has no real narrative or objective. It's uncomfortable to watch in the worst way.

AMY opens in New York and Los Angeles on July 3, and nationwide July 10. For the full list of theaters, click here.

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

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Woody Harrelson Stars in the New Graphic Novel Adaptation, WILSON

Any of you fans of Daniel Clowes's graphic novel, WILSON? I haven't read it myself, but I do love the idea of Woody Harrelson starring in a film adaptation. From what I hear about the character, he sounds like another prickly loner like Haymitch Abernathy from The Hunger Games. But instead of advising young, fateful tributes played by Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, the actor finds himself having to navigate unexpected fatherhood and middle age in this new role. More below in the synopsis:

Harrelson stars as Wilson, a lonely, neurotic and hilariously honest middle-aged misanthrope who reunites with his estranged wife (Laura Dern) and gets a shot at happiness when he learns he has a teenage daughter (Isabella Amara) he has never met. In his uniquely outrageous and slightly twisted way, he sets out to connect with her.

The cast also includes the always awesome Judy Greer and Cheryl Hines. WILSON was adapted by Clowes himself and directed by Craig Johnson (The Skeleton Twins). 


The Trailer for PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION Reminds Us that Kids are Still the Creepiest

I'm pretty sure children easily make my top five of the creepiest creatures who have ever appeared on screen, and I'm not just talking about in horror films (kidding...kinda). The trailer for the latest--and final (about time!)--installment of the Paranormal Activity franchise has debuted and, my, is it a creeper. If you get off on freaky-acting kids, then PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION is for you. It's like they made a whole film based on the twins from The Shining.

Watch for yourself:

What do we think? PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION comes to theaters on October 23. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Add INDEPENDENCE DAY RESURGENCE to the Growing List of 2016 Sequels

So that Will Smith-less sequel to Independence Day that you probably didn't want is most definitely happening. In fact, the cast of the new installment, the first since the original back in 1996, did a livestreamed Q&A yesterday. You can watch the highlights of that conversation, which includes Liam Hemsworth, Vivica Fox, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Sela Ward and Judd Hirsch, here. (Hemsworth is still not selling me as a Will Smith replacement, but maybe I'll change my tune once I see him in the role).


We always knew they were coming back. After INDEPENDENCE DAY redefined the event movie genre, the next epic chapter delivers global spectacle on an unimaginable scale. Using recovered alien technology, the nations of Earth have collaborated on an immense defense program to protect the planet. But nothing can prepare us for the aliens’ advanced and unprecedented force. Only the ingenuity of a few brave men and women can bring our world back from the brink of extinction.

Check out the new image 20th Century Fox released yesterday:

INDEPENDENCE DAY RESURGENCE opens in theaters June 24, 2016.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Trailer Watch: Omar Sy Takes on the Title Role in a New French Dramedy from the Directors of THE INTOUCHABLES

Is it weird that I really like Omar Sy, but I don't care for his movies? Okay, I haven't seen him in Jurassic World yet, but I have seen The Intouchables and Mood Indigo and I was very underwhelmed by both. I know a lot of folks loved Intouchables, but I have to tell ya, that inspirational drama b.s. forces so many eyerolls from me. But Sy is so charismatic and charming to watch that you just want him to win at life.

So maybe SAMBA will be the film that will really get me to start seeing him as a great actor. Despite its hokey Intouchables-esque vibe, I am interested to see Sy take on a title role. More on the film after the jump:

Samba reunites The Intouchables’ acclaimed directing duo, Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, with award-winning actor Omar Sy in a richly entertaining chronicle of an undocumented kitchen worker battling deportation from his adopted home in Paris. When Samba (Sy) is suddenly ordered to leave France, he enlists the help of Alice (Charlotte Gainsbourg), an emotionally vulnerable immigration advocate with little experience but plenty of heart. As the immigrant aspiring chef and the burned-out corporate executive tentatively explore an unexpected bond, they inspire each other to reinvent themselves in this vibrant comedy full of tender humor and heartfelt optimism. 

Watch the new trailer:

SAMBA hits theaters New York and Los Angeles on July 24th.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Watch the Inspiring Trailer for the Documentary on 17-Year-Old Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai

Yesss....this is pretty much my response to the official trailer for HE NAMED ME MALALA, which you might remember I first wrote about on the blog in this post. I was super excited to see this movie before, and now I want to watch it this very minute. I am just so elated to see all these documentaries on notable women (and in this case, a teenage Nobel Peace Prize Laureate) spring up, because Goodness knows Hollywood is not eager to feature dramatized biopics on these subjects. So it's about to documentaries to share these stories.

Hopefully this one won't disappoint. Check it out:

HE NAMED ME MALALA opens in select theaters on October 2.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE? Captures the Complexity of One of the Most Fascinating Artists Ever

As pop culture critics, we tend to measure the value of someone's talent by whose it most resembles from a previous generation; Michael B. Jordan is the next Denzel Washington, George Clooney is Cary Grant reincarnate, and Beyonce is Tina Turner 2.0 (a comparison by which I am still offended). But icons of yesteryear, like Nina Simone, stood in leagues of their own--pioneers of their own genre and way ahead of their time. In fact, they were often prisoners of their own time.

I thought of this as I watched filmmaker Liz Garbus's new documentary, WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE?. In it, Garbus chronicles Simone's steady rise to fame, personal demons she fought her entire life, and her conflicted relationship with her own celebrity. It was that last point that was the most fascinating aspect of the film (though Simone's story in its entirety is something that will likely captivate everyone differently). An aspired classic pianist, Simone never got a chance to play Bach in front of a sold-out Carnegie Hall. While she excelled--and obviously loved--jazz, this was a point of contention for her, as well as her increasingly public politics that continued to escalate at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, often seeping into her music and polarizing her fans. As Ilyasah Shabazz (daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz), who is featured in the film, poignantly remarked: "She was not at odds with the times; they were at odds with her." But it was her staunch individuality as an artist and a passionate political figure that was as much mesmerizing as it was dangerous--a duplicity that only excited Simone more during an era in which the color of her skin was a threat in itself.

The complexity of Simone's persona is captured in personal interviews with the singer--about everything from her troubled marriage to Andrew Stroud (who was also her manager) to her battle with manic depression and her strained relationship with her daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly (also featured in the film). Kelly also candidly reflects on her mother's legacy, a mix of genuine admiration and perplexity, humanizing a woman who for many was--and still is--considered a hero. Simone's daughter offers a look at the icon as a maternal figure, who often hosted a full house that included similar-minded luminaries like the aforementioned Shabazz family and playwright Lorraine Hansberry, but was not without her stumbles that at times made her a virtual stranger to those closest to her.

As the title of the film (a nod to Maya Angelou's Redbook Magazine article about the "High Priestess of Soul" herself) alludes to Simone's complicated identity, WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE? removes the mystery behind her story that is as fascinating today as ever. Real, fiery and, devastating at times, this film is a must-see for not just fans of Nina Simone, but anyone who's interested in what it truly means to be an artist--fearless, honest and unapologetic.

WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE? releases on Netflix on June 26, with a theatrical premiere on June 24.

Rating: A (***** out of *****)

Monday, June 15, 2015

DAWN Is An Unfinished But Intriguing Debut For Rose McGowan

There are two kinds of short films (well, there are more than two, but I am going to only discuss two here): 1) the kind that has a fully developed storyline with characters that can stand on its own despite its length, and 2) the kind that has an incomplete plot but is at least structured enough with interesting characters that is compelling enough to watch in its entirety, but cannot stand on its own. Rose McGowan's directorial debut, DAWN, is the latter.

I've been grappling with this because I wanted to absolutely love it as I admire McGowan's approach to filmmaking, taking a chance releasing her debut film on her own YouTube channel. But I can only say that I want more; I want more story, more tine with the characters so I can truly absorb the series of events that occur in the film. In case you're unfamiliar with the story, it follows a sheltered young teenager (Tara Lynne Barr) who's looking for an outlet for her untapped sexual energy when she develops a crush on the mysterious guy in town (Reiley McClendon). When she decides to go for a ride with him and his friends, it becomes an experience neither she nor the audience is prepared for.

McGowan lures you in with an intriguing yet skeletal framework of a story that could have many themes, but none that are defined by the end of the film. In fact, you're left with more questions than answers, particularly about its rather surprising ending (which, admittedly, did make me want to go back and watch the 17-minute film again). I also question what exactly was McGowan's objective with this story; what story is she ultimately telling? But, again, the fact that I am curious about at all it is more than many other short films can boast, There is a story here, but it needs to be worked on. Perhaps a longer running time would help, but better editing of the short film would also improve it.
Either way, I am interested enough to see the next iteration.

DAWN debuts on YouTube June 21. Watch the trailer:

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

Friday, June 12, 2015

New Images from MINIONS Show Sandra Bullock as the First-Ever Female Supervillain

Why doesn't every movie has its own set of Minions? Seriously, they're the cutest, most hilarious scene stealers ever--and they don't even have any speaking lines. We'll finally be able to see the lovable yellow creatures wreak havoc in their own movie in MINIONS next month (July 10).

MINIONS looks to be a prequel, of sorts, to Despicable Me, in that it shows their origin story and search for the next devilish villain. And they finally find one, in Sandra Bullock. More on the film below:

The story of Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment's Minions begins at the dawn of time. Starting as single-celled yellow organisms, Minions evolve through the ages, perpetually serving the most despicable of masters. Continuously unsuccessful at keeping these masters—from T. rex to Napoleon—the Minions find themselves without someone to serve and fall into a deep depression.

But one Minion named Kevin has a plan, and he—alongside teenage rebel Stuart and lovable little Bob—ventures out into the world to find a new evil boss for his brethren to follow.

The trio embarks upon a thrilling journey that ultimately leads them to their next potential master, Scarlet Overkill (Academy Award® winner Sandra Bullock), the world's first-ever female super-villain. They travel from frigid Antarctica to 1960s New York City, ending in mod London, where they must face their biggest challenge to date: saving all of Minionkind...from annihilation.

Universal Pictures just released a few new images from the film. Check them out:

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Guys, It's Here! Watch the Teaser Trailer for THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 2

My body is ready....

Catch the First Look at Season 2 of TYRANT, Premiering June 16 on FX

You know those shows that are so forgettable that you can't even remember what you don't like about them? Tyrant on FX was one of those shows to me. The series follows an American family during a turbulent time in the Middle East. I remember not being able to continue watching, but I can't recall specifically what my issue was with it, other than it failed to draw me in (there were, however, many folks online who didn't care for its "whitewashed" characters).

But I think I may try to give season 2 a try (I'm going to go ahead and assume the rest of season 1 wasn't worth revisiting, so I won't even bother). It begins June 16 at 10pm on FX, and looks to bring a more personal approach to the characters as we dig deeper into their souls. More below:

Get transported to the Middle Eastern country of Abbudin where we find the city and the Al-Fayeed family in disarray and the youngest son Bassam “Barry” Al-Fayeed (Adam Rayner) in prison and sentenced to death for treason.

The new promo clip teases what else is in store for the new season, and includes interviews with stars including Rayner, Jennifer Finnigan (“Molly Al-Fayeed”), Ashraf Barhom (“Jamal Al-Fayeed”), Moran Atias (“Leila Al-Fayeed”), Alice Krige (“Amira Al-Fayeed”) and Cameron Gharaee (“Ahmed Al-Fayeed”). Watch it:

Anyone watch the first season in its entirety? What did you think?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Trailer Watch: Matt Damon Tries to MacGyver His Way from Outer Space in THE MARTIAN

Is this the second time Matt Damon has been left for dead after a failed mission in a movie? Like, within the last year? Oh gawd, Matt, Hollywood may be trying to tell you something...

Since I admired Interstellar, I am interested to see the story told from Damon's character's point of view, or so it seems that's the way the plot goes in director Ridley Scott's THE MARTIAN. And how funny is it that Jessica Chastain's character is once again back at the space station fearing the worst (yet probably relieved it's him and not here). But what does set THE MARTIAN apart from its predecessor is that there seems to be a bit more diversity in the cast: Chiewetel Ejiofor, who's taking the sci-fi world by storm lately, Donald Glover and Michael Peña join Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig (who's one expression in the trailer made me laugh, twice), and Kate Mara.

More on the film below:

During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring “the Martian” home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney’s safe return. Based on a best-selling novel, and helmed by master director Ridley Scott, THE MARTIAN features a star studded cast that includes Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Kate Mara, Michael Peña, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Donald Glover.

THE MARTIAN was adapted by Drew Goddard from the Andy Weir novel and is scheduled to hit theaters in November.

Watch the trailer:

What do you think?

Monday, June 8, 2015

Trailer Watch: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Margot Robbie and Chris Pine are the Last 3 People On Earth in the Apocalytpic Thriller, Z FOR ZACHARIAH

Goodness knows we've seen enough last man on earth-type films, but I've been keeping my eye on Z FOR ZACHARIAH ever since I first saw it on the Sundance slate last year. We finally get a look at the first poster for the film, which stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Margot Robbie and Chris Pine front at and center. Craig Zobel, who helmed the impossibly uncomfortable 2012 drama, Compliance, directed the film.

More on it below:

In the wake of a nuclear war, a young woman (Margot Robbie) survives on her own, fearing she may actually be the proverbial last woman on earth, until she discovers the most astonishing sight of her life: another human being. A distraught scientist (Chiwetel Ejiofor), he’s nearly been driven mad by radiation exposure and his desperate search for others. A fragile, imperative strand of trust connects them. But when a stranger (Chris Pine) enters the valley, their precarious bond begins to unravel.

Watch the trailer below (Warning: there are a lot of struggle accents):

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Rose McGowan Will Release Her Directorial Debut on Her Own YouTube Page

I kinda love this idea. I love that more and more filmmakers are thinking outside the box in terms of releasing and even distributing their passion projects these days. It just goes to show that the major Hollywood studios don't have the final say about which films get seen and how.

Even Rose McGowan, who as I've written before has been more than a little fed up with the Hollywood game, is going the entrepreneurial route with her directorial debut and Sundance darling, DAWN, by releasing it on her own YouTube page this month. "I'm so pleased to be able to share my Sundance Grand jury prize nominated film, Dawn, on my YouTube page," said McGowan in a press release last week. "I want to promote thought and art, free of charge. I hope you'll enjoy."

Here's a little more on the film:

Realizing that her passion lies in filmmaking, Rose McGowan's breakthrough directorial debut, DAWN, is a disturbing tale of a young girl's budding sexuality and one's desire to experience the unknown. Dawn (Tara Barr) is a quiet young teenager living in Kennedy era America who longs for something or someone to free her from her sheltered life. When she strikes up an innocent flirtation with the boy who works at her local gas station (Reiley McClendon), she thinks that he is perhaps the answer to her teenage dreams. Though when she invites the boy and his friends into her otherwise cloistered world, she gets a lot more than she bargained for.

I'll keep you posted on this project as I learn more about it. Until now, I am intrigued. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Take a Peek Inside JURASSIC WORLD With 7 New Images from the Film

As I mentioned before on this site, I am actually anticipating JURASSIC WORLD, despite the fact that I haven't cared about this franchise since the first film back in 1993 (which I still love). But now the latest installment is finally coming out next week and I am here for it.

Check out this new batch of stills Universal Pictures just released to whet your appetite until June 12:

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Nicole Kidman's Next Film is Definitely Giving Me RABBIT HOLE-Meets-THE OTHERS Vibes

Real Talk: It's hard for me to get excited about any Nicole Kidman movie these days. After she lost the ability to express real emotion in her face (thanks to a rather strange form of "botox"), she has just become really bland. And she used to be so interesting to watch. But looking at the new trailer for STRANGERLAND with its The Others meets Rabbit Hole vibes, I can't help but be curious enough to watch it. (I mean, am I the only one who thinks The Others was one of Kidman's finest performances and films?)

Here's a little more about the "strange" new film:

When Catherine (Nicole Kidman) and Matthew Parker’s (Joseph Fiennes) two teenage children suddenly vanish in a dust storm, the couple's relationship is pushed to the brink as they confront the mystery of their children’s disappearance in the soaring desert heat. Also stars Hugo Weaving.

Watch the trailer:

Anyone else oddly attracted to this project? STRANGERLAND, which also stars Joseph Fiennes, Hugo Weaving, is in theaters and on demand on July 10.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The New Poster for THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY - PART 2 Sets It Up for a Brutal Finale

Well, you can't say this image doesn't get the point across. I'm hyped. Are you?

Get ready for THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY - PART 2 when it hits theaters November 20.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Why You Need to See Brandy's Transformative Performance in Broadway's CHICAGO

If you follow me on Twitter, then you probably saw a few months ago that I was none too impressed with the news that Brandy (aka Moesha from the beloved UPN show) Norwood had been cast as Roxie, one of the two lead murderesses in the iconic CHICAGO musical on Broadway. First of all, I think I definitely referred to her as Moesha instead of Brandy in my tweet (no shade, but I tend to use that moniker when referring to her as an actress), and secondly, memories of her trying to shake her hips (or hint at some kind of rhythm) in music videos like "Top of the World" and "Baby" came flooding back into my brain and I was hella concerned about how she would approach the complex choreography in the show. I know she's a decent actress and singer, but CHICAGO on Broadway? I was not sold.

But, you know what? She's pretty good in the show. Actually, she's great. She delivers a fascinating performance that you least expect, playing into her strengths as a Broadway ingenue who might not drop down into a perfect slit and hop back up like so many others in the cast, but she glides slickly across the stage just as fetchingly as her peers and predecessors. Infusing her signature accessible approach to Roxie, mixed with her natural wide-eyed playfulness, Brandy plays right into Roxie's naivete and guile. She makes the character fit for her--not the other way around--and literally blossoms on the stage. Even better, she looks like she's having a blast.

Watching this performance got me extra hyped to finally see Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway. After missing the recent productions with Neil Patrick Harris and Michael C. Hall in the titular roles, I am hoping to check out Taye Diggs (who coincidentally starred in the film adaptation of Chicago), as the genderqueer East German singer come July 22. He will be the first African-American actor in the role. Many of you may already know that Diggs comes from a theatrical background, having also starred in the Broadway music Rent back in 1996.

I am just so thrilled that, while Hollywood may not be quick to cast talent of color (have you heard about this latest debacle?), Broadway is all too eager to support diversity in the arts. From Condola Rashad in Romeo and Juliet, to Alice Lee in Heathers and Norm Lewis in Phantom of the Opera, the stage has proven itself to be a viable platform for so many underrepresented thespians--many of whom are the first actors of colors playing these characters. Now we as audience members have to do our part and head to the theater.

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