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Saturday, January 30, 2016

"This is What We Mean When We Talk About Diversity"

My mom sent me a text around the one hour-point of tonight's Screen Actors Guild Awards that read, "I see it's black night at the SAG Awards! At least they get it." And this is coming from someone who doesn't even watch award shows; she just likes to see people of color being honored--for anything. As I've said before, the lack of diversity isn't a tough issue to solve. Just award those who deserve it. Period.

I'm not going to pretend that I am now a fan of Beasts of No Nation (I still find the movie problematic), but watching Idris Elba win for both his performance in this film and his title role in Luther was a certain kind of special. And Uzo Aduba, Viola Davis, and Queen Latifah's wins for their performances in Orange is the New Black, How to Get Away with Murder, and Bessie, respectively, was seriously like a big F-U to, like, all other award shows. Upon accepting the award for best comedy ensemble (Orange is the New Black), Laura Prepon said, "This is what we mean when we talk about diversity." Then she dropped the mic and strutted off the stage. (That last part didn't happened, but I would have totally been here for it).

All this to say that it made for such a better award show. And team Room is still going strong with another deserved win for Brie Larson. That was the cherry on the pie.

See the full list of winners here.

Friday, January 29, 2016

There's a New CABIN FEVER Coming, and It's a Horror Comedy

I know, a double whammy. What did we ever do to deserve this? Why are people still hanging out at a cabin in the woods? Why haven't they found a cure (or at least a cream) for this flesh-eating virus? I just cannot even.

But here we are again, back in the woods--and producer Eli Roth is joining us again for the ride. Actually, since it's IFC Midnight is backing this new CABIN FEVER, it might not be that bad. So, let's just say that I am cautiously optimistic about this one. Here's a little more about it:

Executive producer Eli Roth presents this reboot of his instant classic gorefest, which features all new characters and all new kills. This story is familiar: fresh out of college, a group of five friends retreat to a remote cabin in the woods for one last week of partying- only to become snacks for a gruesome, flesh-eating virus. What’s surprising are the ingenious new deaths, which offer a fresh spin on a horror-comedy milestone. With Gage Golightly (Teen Wolf) and Dustin Ingram (Paranormal Activity 3).

CABIN FEVER hits theaters in New York City and Los Angeles on February 12. 

The Best 2016 Oscar-Nominated Short Films From Each Category

As promised, last weekend I caught up with each of this year's Oscar-nominated short films--and have identified a clear winner in each of the three categories (live action, animated, and documentary). Which probably means that none of them will actually win.

But anyway, here they are:

Last Day of Freedom

Brief take: In the ongoing debate about capital punishment, this compelling narrative (told strictly through sketch animation) humanizes the conversation in way that doesn't outwardly support either agenda. Rather, it tells a story about the living victims of capital punishment, a black man who turned his brother in for a crime--only to have the court (and his own lawyer) be negligent in his defense.
Watch the trailer.

World of Tomorrow

Brief take: Ever been curious to get your palm read? Young Emily gets an unsolicited look into her future from someone who's lived it. From the influence of new technology to humanity's dark fate, the narrative doesn't shy away from heavy subjects exposed to it its child subject. Unlike the many children's movies that romanticize the world around them, for fear of jeopardizing their innocence, this one has a gentle yet honest conversation about it that doesn't come off facetious.
Watch the trailer.

Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)

Brief take: Most of the time, when we hear stories about a child being kidnapped by their dad, we're instantly manipulated to turn him into a villain. This film tells the story through the eyes of the father, so desperate to spend more time with his child that he goes through drastic (and unfortunate) measures to do so. Punctuated by a heartbreaking performance by Simon Schwarz, this is definitely a film that will stick with you.
Watch the trailer.

Each of these short films are in theaters today and will be available On Demand February 23.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

HAIL, CAESAR! Looks Ridiculous. I'm Totally Into It

I have been in desperate need for a good Coen brothers film. You may remember how I kinda sorta broke up with Joel and Ethan Coen after watching Inside Llewyn Davis more than two years ago, so the fact that I am even paying attention to what they have going on right now is a major step forward for me.

HAIL, CAESAR! looks absolutely ridiculous. No, ridonkulous (as the kids say). But the idea of poking fun of Hollywood bigwigs from the early days of film performed by a cast that could also be subject to ridicule is kind of brilliant. Very Coens-like (or so I hope). Here's the full synopsis:

Four-time Oscar®-winning filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men, True Grit, Fargo) write and direct Hail, Caesar!, an all-star comedy set during the latter years of Hollywood's Golden Age. Starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and Channing Tatum, Hail, Caesar! follows a single day in the life of a studio fixer who is presented with plenty of problems to fix.

Universal Pictures has released a new featurette from the film that highlights some of what I just said. Check it out:

HAIL, CAESAR! is in theaters February 5. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Jamie Broadnax: What It's Really Like to Be a WoC Film Critic (Blog Series)

A scene from Gods of Egypt

I interview Jamie Broadnax, founder of, who discusses the lack of representation on the big screen and intersectionality when it comes to feminist standards among white and non-white critics:

Candice Frederick: In response to the recent Atlantic article, how do you think women of color film critics are represented in conversations regarding feminism and women's voices in film criticism?

Jamie Broadnax: Women of color are almost always erased from the conversation when feminism in the film industry is discussed. I wrote an article for The Mary Sue about how we are always dismissed even on covers of magazines where optics have an impact women of color are removed. I think the lack of representation further perpetuates that our voices don't matter or that we are not a part of the "feminist industry standard" that is touted around in blog posts and plastered on magazine covers.

CF: What do you think WoC film bloggers contribute to film criticism that is missing from other articles/posts?

JB: Women of color contribute a sensitivity to race, culture, sexuality, and most importantly focusing on marginalized voices and how important they are to be heard in mainstream spaces.
CF: What has been your experience in conversations about film with other critics?

JB: My experiences in discussing film do vary based on the genre of film, the tone of the film, the production team coordinating the film. It just depends. I can say that the conversations that have circulated around films that have notoriously whitewashed people of color are discussed more among WoC than other women. I didn't see many film feminist critics in an uproar over the Exodus: Gods and Kings film or the Gods of Egypt film.
CF: How has social media influenced your writing, and how has it influenced your perception of film?

JB: Social media has made a significant impact. It's helped me see how often whitewashing is happening and it's also highlighting various biases that occur among the Hollywood elite. The #Damonsplaining fiasco, a hashtag I started on Twitter began as a result of Matt Damon mansplaining and whitesplaining to producer Effie Brown, a black woman, what diversity means in film production. Social media sheds light on microagressions that may seem trivial to some, but are a huge deal for people of color who continue to get pushed away from gatekeepers that firmly believe that tokenism is diversity, when in fact tokenism is just that...being a token.
CF: What do you look for in a film?
JB: I look for a unique, fully nuanced story told from a perspective that isn't always my own. Sometimes I like seeing stories in my own perspective and often would like to see women who look like me going through a variety of experiences. I look for many things--laughter, joy, suspense and thrills. I want every minute of my time invested in that piece of celluloid to be worth it.
CF: How do you think your personal identity plays a role in how you receive a film?

JB: It plays a huge role. We want to see ourselves in various spaces, that's why you hear terms like "representation matters," because it does. It shapes who we are. There is a reason why so many of us create spaces that are for marginalized groups, because we need a safe space where we can see ourselves. I want to see more of myself in movies.
CF: Do you think your racial or gender identity affects the way other critics (or readers) interpret your or opinion of film?

JB: [Some readers] say I provide a fresher perspective or one they haven't quite seen before, which is not at all surprising when you're inundated with opinions and points of views from white women of all the time.
CF: Do you feel that there is a camaraderie among WOC film critics?

JB: I feel like there needs to be more. Your podcast, Cinema In Noir, provides great criticism on movies from a WoC perspective, but I would like to see and hear more. Websites, podcasts, shows, magazines, etc. There just aren't enough. And WoC critics do a better job of holding studios feet to the fire when it comes to whitewashing or patriarchy in the film industry.
Jamie Broadnax
CF: What would you like to see in film criticism?

JB: I'd like to see more diversity. I'd like to see more conversations around sexually fluid and gender fluid people and why straight men and women play gay roles and cis men and women play transgender roles. I'd like to see more film criticism around body positive women who embrace their weight and why there aren't enough people with disabilities working the industry as professional actors and actresses.

Follow Jamie on Twitter. And check out the next post in this blog series next week. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Quick Question: Why Aren't You Watching SUPERSTORE?

It has been far too long since we've seen America Ferrera command the small screen like we all know she can. Six years, to be exact. Sure, she's hung out with Amy Schumer on the comedienne's hit sketch comedy show, and has had a number of TV stints--some of which I've never even heard of, listed on her IMDB page. But SUPERSTORE is seriously the best show you're not watching. It's fresh, smart and culturally relevant.

If you're unfamiliar, Ferrera plays Amy, the assistant manager of a Wal-Martesque store where the customer is always right (no matter how batsh*t crazy they are) and chaos is always abound. In addition to her life as a mother and wife (most of which is played offscreen), she has to also come to work and be surrounded by a group of people ranging in levels of quirkiness--which makes for a great comedy.

First of all, why has it taken this long for someone to come up with a workplace comedy series that is set in a superstore? I mean, that alone is brilliant. And with this wonderfully diverse group of characters, each three-dimensional with their own set of dyfunctions, it makes for a smart sitcom that's unafraid to approach topics such as gender discrimination, racial insensitivity, and adoption.

Plus, your BFF Ben Feldman (you know, Michael Ginsberg from Mad Men) and Nichole Bloom (who played Amanda, Lip's gal pal on Shameless) are among the hilarious cast of clerks.

Listen, I know there is, like, a sh*tload of great TV to watch right now, but you definitely need to make room for this in your viewing schedule. It's worth it.

SUPERSTORE airs on NBC Mondays at 8pm.

Watch the trailer:

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Key & Peele Go Undercover as Ruthless Killers in an Upcoming Comedy

Okay, I still haven't seen a single episode of Key & Peele (I am hopefully making my way through my never-ending Netflix queue). But I keep hearing the sketch comedy show is H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S. So, naturally I was intrigued to learn that the comedic duo is coming out with a new movie...despite the fact that there's a kitty cat wearing a baseball cap sideways on the movie poster.

After looking checking out the trailer, I'm still a little confused about whether KEANU (no relation to the actor, from what I can tell) is a parody or a satire or what. But I have to admit, I did chuckle at a few perhaps non-plot related jokes sprinkled in the trailer. The idea of two black men who find themselves having to (unsuccessfully) portray ruthless killers in order to infiltrate a gang to reclaim their missing cat is...well, ridiculous. But enough for me to want to see more of it (in a "so bad it might be good" kind of way). Here's the full synopsis:

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, a.k.a. the hugely popular comedy duo Key & Peele, star as Clarence and Rell, two cousins who live in the city but are far from streetwise. When Rell’s beloved kitten, Keanu, is catnapped, the hopelessly straight-laced pair must impersonate ruthless killers in order to infiltrate a street gang and retrieve the purloined feline. But the incredibly adorable kitten becomes so coveted that the fight over his custody creates a gang war, forcing our two unwitting heroes to take the law into their own hands.

Watch the trailer:

KEANU is in theaters April 29.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Trailer Watch: the 2016 Oscar-Nominated Short Films

I know many of us are feeling...a kind of way about this year's Oscar nominations. But, well, the show must still go on. Which means we still have to fight over which movies we think should (and will) win the grand prize.

But, confession: I have yet to watch any of the nominated short films. A pity, because in the 20 or so minutes it takes to watch them, they might be more riveting than of the 3-hour films nominated in the feature length film categories.

Anyway, I digress.

The Short Movie Channel has just released a trailer capturing all 15 of the nominated films in one 1.5-minute video. But before you check it out, refresh your memory of all the nominees here:



Five nuns living in the West Bank find their routine disrupted when the car of a family of Israeli settlers breaks down outside the convent. Unable to use the telephone due to Sabbath restrictions, the family needs help from the nuns, but the sisters' vow of silence requires them to work with their visitors to find an unorthodox solution.


On the heels of a painful divorce, an Afghan-American woman joins the U.S. military as an interpreter and is sent to Afghanistan. On her first mission, she accompanies troops pursuing a bomb-maker, and must bridge the gender and culture gap to help the man's pregnant wife when she goes into labor.


Michael, a divorced father devoted to his eight-year-old daughter, Lea, picks her up for their usual weekend together. At first it feels like a normal visit, but Lea soon realizes that something is different, and so begins a fateful journey.


In Kosovo in 1998, two young boys are best friends living normal lives, but as war engulfs their country, their daily existence becomes filled with violence and fear. Soon, the choices they make threaten not only their friendship, but their families and their lives.


For a lonely typographer, an online relationship has provided a much-needed connection without revealing the speech impediment that has kept him isolated. Now, however, he is faced with the proposition of meeting his online paramour in the flesh, and thereby revealing the truth about himself.



Every day, a melancholy old bear takes a mechanical diorama that he has created out to his street corner. For a coin, passersby can look into the peephole of his invention, which tells the story of a circus bear who longs to escape and return to the family from which he was taken.


2,400 years ago, four warriors -- two Spartan and two Athenian -- battle to the death in an intense struggle witnessed by a little girl, who then runs to her grandmother for comfort.


Young Sanjay, a first-generation Indian-American, is obsessed with television, cartoons and his superhero action figures. He is reluctant to spend time in daily prayers with his devout Hindu father, but a flight of imagination helps him develop a new perspective that he and his father can both embrace.


Two best friends have dreamed since childhood of becoming cosmonauts, and together they endure the rigors of training and public scrutiny, and make the sacrifices necessary to achieve their shared goal.


A little girl named Emily is taken on a fantastical tour of her distant future by a surprising visitor who reveals unnerving secrets about humanity's fate.



In Monrovia, Liberia, Garmai Sumo is the only female member of Body Team 12, one of the many teams collecting the bodies of those who died from Ebola during the height of the 2014 outbreak. Despite the perilous nature of her job and the distrust with which she is often met, Garmai remains dedicated to her work.


Chau, a teenager living in a Vietnamese care center for children born with birth defects due to Agent Orange, struggles with the difficulties of realizing his dream to become a professional artist and clothing designer. Despite being told that his ambitions are unrealistic, Chau is determined to live an independent, productive life.


Thirty years after the release of the documentary SHOAH, filmmaker Claude Lanzmann discusses the personal and professional difficulties he encountered during the more than 12 years it took to create the work. Lanzmann also discusses his relationships with Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, and his teenage years spent fighting in the French Resistance during World War II.


Every year, more than 1,000 girls and women are the victims of religiously motivated honor killings in Pakistan, especially in rural areas. Eighteen-year-old Saba, who fell in love and eloped, was targeted by her father and uncle but survived to tell her story.


When Bill Babbitt realized that his brother Manny had committed a crime, he agonized over the decision to call the police, knowing that Manny could face the death penalty but hoping he would instead receive the help he needed. Manny, an African-American veteran who served two tours in Vietnam, suffered from PTSD and had found it difficult to obtain healthcare.

Each of these films will release in theaters January 29th and will be available On Demand February 23rd.

I plan to watch all of these very soon, so I will report back!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

It's About That Time...Romcom Season

I know what you're probably thinking: When isn't it romcom season? Well, the short answer is never. But trust me, I will get about 10 more romcom trailers flooding my inbox between now and February 14, even if the films aren't even coming out on Valentine's Day. Like THE PERFECT MATCH, for instance, the Queen Latifah-produced cinematic romp starring Terrence J. (Think Like a Man), Paula Patton (Precious, About Last Night), Donald Faison (Clueless, Something New), Dascha Polanco (Joy, Orange is the New Black), Brandy Norwood (Broadway's Chicago, Moesha)...and a slew of other R&B singers.

Directed by Billie Woodruff (Honey, TV's The Game), THE PERFECT MATCH looks like most other romcoms in which the lead male characters is a playboy avoiding true love until love smacks him in the b*lls. Of course, Lionsgate/Codeblack Films has a more sophisticated description:

In THE PERFECT MATCH, Charlie (Terrence J.) is a playboy who's convinced that relationships are dead even though his sister (Paula Patton), a therapist, tries to tell him otherwise. His best friends bet him that if he sticks to one woman for one month, he's bound to fall in love. Charlie takes the bet because he believes that he's immune to love... until he crosses paths with the beautiful and mysterious Eva (Cassie Ventura). Turning on his irresistible charm, Charlie coaxes Eva into a casual affair but soon finds out that Eva has turned the tables on him. Now Charlie is questioning whether he may actually want more than just a one night stand.

See? Watch the trailer:

What say you?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

I'm Actually Kinda Hyped for SOUTHBOUND

Call it desperation if you want, but I am holding out hope that that this indie horror anthology is actually good. Goodness knows, we need deserve it. I am going to try to pretend that SOUTHBOUND doesn't come from the unimaginative mind producer behind V/H/S, as I mentioned in a previous post. So with that method in mind, I am cautiously optimistic about what SOUTHBOUND has in store as the premise remains intriguing (and as I'm always saying, indie horror has modern horror beat by a landslide). Plus, this new trailer kinda rules:

I'll be reviewing this soon before its theatrical release on February 5. What do you think so far?

On Actor Ravi Patel's Cross-Cultural Dating Documentary, MEET THE PATELS

After years of watching the the trials and tribulations of white people on both the big and small screens, it's about time we get a chance to hear the romantic perspective of someone else. Aziz Ansari offered a peak into what it means to be an Indian American man navigating the challenging dating jungle in New York City on Master of None. And now Ravi Patel, who often guest starred on Ansari's award-winning show, shares his experiences in the engrossing documentary, MEET THE PATELS.

Awkwardly marketed as a romantic comedy, the non-fiction narrative is more like an exploration of social, cultural and dating nuances specifically seen through the eyes of an almost thirty-year-old Indian-American man (Patel) grappling with the choice between following in his parents' footsteps of a traditional arranged marriage to an Indian woman and his true love for a white American woman named Audrey. Critics of  Master of None and the 2006 drama The Namesake may immediately discard this film as yet another look at a non-white man using his bi-cultural background as an excuse to date a white woman. But it is so much more complex than that. Yes, there is the inception of an interracial romance, but MEET THE PATELS also looks at race as it plays a role in the ritual of dating in India as well the U.S.

For instance, Ravi and his sister Geeta (co-director and co-writer of the film, also single) discuss the "biodata system," essentially a resume written to attract potential suitors. It's the last hope to find someone, anyone, before a certain age. At this point, it becomes a family affair as the parents advertise their eligibility all across India--to the horror of the American-assimilated Ravi and Geeta. You'd think the idea of dating within their own race would be a more comforting concept, because as Ravi himself said "You don't have to explain anything," like family traditions, prejudice, and cultural misrepresentation that often eludes people from other cultures. But it brings to light deep-rooted issues of colorism, ageism, and weight and occupation discrimination within their own culture. As one woman interviewed said, "The lighter [your skin color], the more attractive you are."

The dating scene is an anomaly for both Ravi and Geeta, who were prohibited to date growing up. So once they became adults, the already difficult dating scene (in both the U.S. and India) was even more unattainable. Singles interviewed in the film admitted to not dating anyone at all. "I'm almost 30 years old and I almost feel like I'm bad at [dating]," Ravi said.

While MEET THE PATELS approaches the romantic scene using tonally broad strokes likely to attract a a variety of audiences, its commentary hits all the right notes that people of color will especially find familiar. The scenes featuring the parents are the most intriguing as not only do they provide tension but also a generational and cultural perspective that counters the frustrations of the main characters. When Ravi finally reveals to his parents that he was in a two-year relationship with a white woman, they are both (especially his mother) visibly disappointed. They consider dating a non-Indian woman to be turning his back on his own culture, to which Ravi responds "You're not losing the culture; the culture adapts to the times."

MEET THE PATELS is not perfect (it strangely goes in an out of sketch animation), but it's a film that sparks conversation--as it should. It's not a play-by-numbers romcom with a cookie-cutter ending. Rather, it's not a romcom and the ending is still in development as this is a true life account. It's an authentic look at the sociology of dating that we just don't talk about enough--especially among marginalized cultures. And that's something to champion in and of itself.

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

Watch the trailer:

MEET THE PATELS is currently streaming on Netflix. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

New Blog Series: WoC Film Critics and Visibility

A few weeks ago I was browsing my Twitter feed, as I do, when I noticed this Atlantic article highlighting the scarcity of women film critics was getting a ton of re-tweets. Naturally, I was curious--partly I'm always interested in learning about other women critics, and also because it's comforting to hear the similar experiences of women who share your industry.

But I didn't get any of that from the article. Sure, I was introduced to a few women who I hadn't already encountered in my daily film travels, but their stories (while vaguely familiar) still sounded so distant from my own. Essentially, the piece lamented on the lack of white women film critics and white women in front of and behind the camera--with a peripheral, halfhearted mention about how it's worse for women of color (including Latinas, Asian Americans and Indian Americans) in the field. You've got that right. But that was it. It was merely an acknowledgment. 

And that stuck with me, for weeks. So much so that I have decided to lead a blog series titled "What's It's Really Like to Be a WoC Film Blogger" that will illuminate the voices of WoC in a way that is often ignored, or simply a footnote, in mainstream media--and even among MoC critics. Too often we're ignored, misunderstood, and disregarded. We're not even asked our opinion when it comes to, say, the lack of diversity in regards to the Oscars (like this New York Times article). Things like #OscarsSoWhite are dictated and justified to us with our responses quickly dismissed and overlooked. Somehow they've gotten comfortable with having a discussion about marginalization without including those who are actually marginalized. It's gone too far for too long. 

For the next few weeks, I'll feature posts from a variety of WoC film critics who share their experiences writing about the industry on their own sites. Stay tuned!

P.S. If any of you are interested in participating in this series, please contact me!

Monday, January 18, 2016

MASTER OF NONE Wins Best Comedy of the Year, And Now Everything is Right in the World

By now you've probably already heard the bad news: The Big Short continues to win things...

But, this post is not about that sort of negativity. I want to celebrate the awesome things that happened at Sunday night's Critics' Choice Awards. Like these:

MASTER OF NONE, Best Comedy Series: I am still head over heels for Black-ish, but it gives me so much joy to see a series helmed by two Asian-American men has been named the best of the year. But even more than that, it's a great series with an Asian-American lead (and diverse cast) that doesn't dance around topics like race and culture in America. I hope this is just the beginning.

IDRIS ELBA, Best Actor in a Movie Made for Television or Limited Series, Luther: I still say that this is Elba's best performance to date. So, good on him for winning this award.

TOM HARDY, Best Actor in an Action Movie, Mad Max: Fury Road: More like "F**k yeah, Tom Hardy!," which is how I like to refer to him. While I may be pretending that he won instead for The Revenant, I just love to see genre get some accolades (and he was kickass in this).

CHARLIZE THERON, Best Actress in an Action Movie, Mad Max: Fury Road: Question: why didn't a 3-hour long ceremony (with a sh*tty host, mind you) not have time to air these cool awards? Imagine Theron (in all her holiness) glide up to the stage and thank the almighty Furiosa? It would have been priceless. (But we did get to see director George Miller's harem of supporting female characters accept the best director award on his behalf).

TIMOTHY OLYPHANT, Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series, The Grinder: First of all, why didn't any of you tell me that the amazing Olyphant was on The Ginder? Should I now be watching a show called The Grinder? Now I've gotta watch The Grinder.

Best Movie Made for Television of Limited Series, Best Supporting Actor in a Movie Made for Television or Limited Series, Best Supporting Actress in a Movie Made for Television of Limited Series
This almost makes up for Lady Gaga winning over Kirsten Dunst at last Sunday's Golden Globe Awards (now Dunst can remove all those pins she put in her Gaga voodoo dolls at home). I'm so glad that I am not the only critic who recognizes the sheer genius of the show. Each and every one of these awards are deserved.

Check out the full winners list over on Vulture.

Friday, January 15, 2016

I See What You Did There, "Cloverfield"

I may not be among the legions of fans who go hard for Cloverfield, the 2008 popcorn sci-fi film, but I didn't mind it. Did it need a sequel? I don't think so, but that hasn't stopped, like, every other pseudo Hollywood franchise from existing. But I have to admire producer J.J. Abrams's swag for unveiling the trailer for Cloverfield's pseudo sequel (he reportedly says it's not one), 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE in the middle of the night--Beyoncé style.

But will it have Beyoncé success? Eh, I don't know about all that. They're being real hush hush about the plot details, but the trailer looks kinda...out there. See for yourself:

Thoughts? 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE is in theaters and IMAX March 11.

Sundance Preview: The Genre-Defying EYES OF MY MOTHER

Sundance is coming up in a few weeks (yet again, I will not be attending). And I have been getting a lot of information about this year's slate of films, among the most striking is the gorgeous-looking Portuguese film, EYES OF MY MOTHER--partly because it looks to be a quirky foreign drama that doesn't victimize its characters or manipulate its audience.

But then again, I'm just getting that from the synopsis. Check it out:

Francisca has been unfazed by death from an early age—her mother, formerly a surgeon in Portugal, imbued her with a thorough understanding of the human anatomy. When tragedy shatters her family’s idyllic life in the countryside, her deep trauma gradually awakens some unique curiosities. As she grows up, her desire to connect with the world around her takes a distinctly dark form.

While writer/director Nicolas Pesce is making his feature debut here, EYES OF MY MOTHER has some major support from its executive producers that include Antonio Campos and Sean Durkin (Martha Marcy May Marlene) and Josh Mond (James White).

I'm keeping an eye out for this one. In the meantime, here's another compelling shot from the film:

Oscar Nominations: Please Put All Complaints Into the Suggestion Box (So They Can Be Promptly Thrown Into the Garbage)

So, the Oscar award nominations were announced on Thursday, and we just need to get right to the thing that everyone else is talking about: the blinding whiteness of the Oscars. Honestly, it shouldn't surprise anyone that once again the Academy completely ignored performances from Benicio del Toro (Sicario), Rinko Kikuchi (Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter), Abraham Attah (Beasts of No Nation), Samuel L. Jackson (The Hateful Eight), and all the lead actors in Straight Outta Compton. We all know they have a looooong history of blatantly ignoring some of the best talent of color ever to walk the earth. In an industry that continues to pat itself on the back, suck its own b*lls, and self-congratulate over and over (so much so that that they don't have just one award, they have a season of awards), none of this should be shocking.

And really, if there is an awards committee that would go out of its way to circumvent actually nominating a PoC actor in favor of the atrocious The Big Short instead, it's clearly admitting its irrelevance with modern society (and complete disregard for public outcry). But what might be the most frightening thing about all of this is that there are actually people (including critics) out there who scoff at accusations of Academy discrimination. Pro tip: if you don't have anything smart to contribute to the conversation, don't say anything at all.

But I digress, because I want to give a shout out to some of the nominees that I absolutely adore: Brie Larson (lead actress, Room), Lenny Abrahamson (director, Room), Emma Donaghue (adapted screenplay, Room), What Happened, Miss Simone? (documentary feature), and the nine nominations for Mad Max: Fury Road. All I needed was some recognition for Jacob Tremblay, whose acting nomination was apparently stolen by Christian Bale (The Big Short) and Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight), and all would be right in the world. Also, I know I rag on the Oscars a lot, but can we commend it for finally acknowledging genre with the nominations for The Martian (including Matt Damon's performance) and Mad Max? I mean, that's a big step for an awards committee whose median age is 142. Baby steps!

(They could have thrown a bone to Charlize Theron for her performance in Mad Max, though. Just saying...)

I think by now you should already know how I feel about most these other nominations, so I'm not even going to bother with mentioning some of these grotesque nominations that are really more a cry for help than anything else (Leonardo DiCpario, Tom Hardy, Brie Larson and Alicia Vikander almost no competition in their categories). It's understandable; it was a crappy year in film (though Emily Blunt's performance in Sicario could have slid in there, easily).

Next time, maybe not have so many slots in each category, so as not to choose such insane placeholders to fill up the ballot? Just a thought.

The Oscars air live on February 28 at 8:30pm EST on ABC.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

That Richard Nixon/Elvis Presley Movie You Ordered is On Its Way

I can only imagine how this Hollywood pitch meeting went. A bunch of middle-aged white men sat in a room and said with gusto (and hopefully after drinking heavily all afternoon), "You know what would be cool? If we did a movie about that time Elvis Presley had a meeting with Richard Nixon!" And, as the Hollywood bigwigs often did when they hear a ridiculous pitch, enthusiastically threw millions of money their way and obliged the offer. Gawd bless America.

Interestingly, the movie is actually directed by a woman, Liza Johnson (Hateship/Loveship). Though I still think the film, aptly titled ELVIS & NIXON, only has one thing going for it: Kevin Spacey and Michael Shannon (I guess that's technically two things, but whatever). The rest, well here's the description:

On a December morning in 1970, the King of Rock ’n Roll showed up on the lawn of the White House to request a meeting with the most powerful man in the world, President Nixon. Starring Academy Award® nominee Michael Shannon as Elvis Presley and two-time Academy Award® winner Kevin Spacey as Richard Nixon, comes the untold true story behind this revealing, yet humorous moment in the Oval Office forever immortalized in the most requested photograph in the National Archives.

I'm assuming one of you will be psyched for this...

Here's the trailer:

ELVIS & NIXON is in theaters April. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Any Award Show that Nominates JUPITER ASCENDING for Worst Movie of the Year is Good in My Book

You can always count on Twitter to find a contrarian (though that's usually me). But, silly me, I took comfort in the idea that we could all come together as a people and agree on today's announcement of the Razzies list of the worst of everything in film last year. Alas, I log onto Twitter this morning and folks were in an outrage over such b.s. like Fifty Shades of Grey being nominated for worst picture of the year. 

Seriously? All of a sudden, the critics who panned Fifty Shades are now defending it? Oh, how quickly we develop short-term memory...

All I know is if anyone says Jupiter Ascending, also nominated for worst picture of the year, is at all a good movie, they can come see me. I'll set them straight, then laugh in their faces. I mean, come on, Eddie Redymayne's nonsensical, over-the-top performance in the film was enough to take ALL the Razzies. 

Check out the complete list of nominations via USA Today

Something About the Season 6 Premiere of SHAMELESS Rubbed Me the Wrong Way

I've been a longtime fan of Showtime's Shameless, the American remake of the U.K. comedy series, since it's series premiere back in 2011 (weird to say "back in..." like 2011 was the medieval era, but anyway). The show, about the shenanigans of the white lower class Gallagher family living in South Side, Chicago, has had its ups and downs throughout its years-long run, but it has delivered some compelling storylines and character arcs as of late.

That is, until Sunday night's season 6 premiere episode.

It starts out copacetic enough; big sister Fiona  (Emmy Rossum) is getting on with her new boytoy Sean (Dermot Mulroney); Daddy Frank (William H. Macy) is chasing his own drunk tail around town; little sister Debbie (Emma Kenney) is dealing with issues way beyond her age; and little brother Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) is getting comfortable in jail (because we all knew it was just a matter of time for him until he got there). Carl is released early, comes home donning cornrows, baggy jeans, a bad attitude--looking like he just fell out of a really bad rap video. Fine, Carl has always been a thug in the making. Now he's just bonafide.

But it is only when Carl's friend, an 18-year-old black man he met in prison, pays the Gallaghers a visit, when entire family becomes concerned and is visibly terrified. Seriously, Frank, who has been spending his nights hanging out at a cemetery, begins to fear for his life because a black man has walked through his front door. Should it be that surprising to see a black man in South Side, Chicago? I know up until this moment, the Gallaghers have somehow managed to avoid minorities (with the exception of Fiona's bestie, V, played by Shanola Hampton, and ironically their own baby brother, who's clearly a token) in their town, but this stark reaction jarred me -- and turned me off a bit. Which, I guess, is strange to say about a show that has never once tried to be politically correct, which actually endeared me to it. But I'm still saying it.

And on this same episode, there are also homophobic slurs uttered by one of the new characters on the show. So basically, the writers were on a roll. But I am a little worried about where the season will go from here. Maybe this was just to catch our attention, get ratings? The series was just renewed for a 7th season, which means there will be a lot of opportunity to shift the narrative (or make a larger, more significant statement?).

We'll have to watch and see what happens. But for now, SHAMELESS, I'm keeping one eyebrow raised.

SHAMELESS airs Sunday night at 9pm on Showtime.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

In Case You Need More Reason to See ROOM...

If I could take each of you by the hand and drag you to see ROOM, at this point I would. Seriously, it's essential viewing--especially in a year that gave us such terribly mediocre films like Youth, Brooklyn and Dope. I won't reiterate all the things that make this film so marvelous (for that you can revisit my full review), but you should definitely check out this new batch of featurettes--courtesy of A24, the studio behind ROOM:


It's Time We've Had a Chat About What's Going On With Sarah Jessica Parker's Career

I like Sarah Jessica Parker. I really do. So I say with grave concern that I don't know WTF is going on with her career right now. I mean, she went from playing Carrie Bradshaw, an iconic TV character on Sex and the City, to playing a slew of characters that were not only uninteresting but carelessly written (though the less-than-perfect holiday film, The Family Stone, remains at the best of the worst list).

So, what's going on? The short answer is: I don't know. The long answer is, well, you know how kind Hollywood is to women who are 50+ 40+ (and not named Meryl Streep or Julia Roberts). It's tough. Parker is playing the same wilted character over and over again. And I am running out of patience. I need her to get into a drama or a sci-fi film, quick.

I mean, just check out the synopsis of her upcoming film, ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME:

Revolves around an uptight woman named Maggie (Parker) and her former Italian lover, Luca, who go on a road trip across scenic Italy pursuing Maggie's rebellious teenage daughter who tries desperately to return to New York while Luca's mother is on a secret mission of love.

This sounds like one hundred other aggressively mediocre movies. To make matters worse, the eternally underutilized Paz Vega is also in this movie, which makes me weep real tears. Watch the trailer:

ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME hits theaters and VOD on February 5. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Did You Hear the One About Lady Gaga Winning Over Kirsten Dunst?

This might have been the biggest joke of the Golden Globes Sunday night, when Lady Gaga won for her performance in American Horror Story: Hotel ...over Kirsten Dunst's portrayal in Fargo (and Queen Latifah in Bessie, for that matter). Granted, I should reiterate here that Gaga pleasantly surprised me as the wicked Countess in what has become creator Ryan Murphy messiest pet project. I really do. But Kirsten Dunst's portrayal in Fargo was so functionally insane and brilliant that to lose to Gaga just seems...weird.

But like I always say, I love award show surprises (though I'm sure Dunst is decorating her house with Gaga voodoo dolls as we speak).

So instead of recounting the predictable winners of the evening (seriously, was anyone surprised that Leonardo DiCaprio won in a category that had no real competition?), let's talk about the wonderful surprises:


Kate Winslet (Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Dramatic Film, Steve Jobs): Didn't I tell y'all months ago that Winslet had the most interesting performance in the movie? And folks just couldn't get past their tunnel vision of Michael Fassbender (understandable, but not for his performance in this film). I just never thought the Globes would actually agree with me. Mama, I made it.

Maura Tierney (Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, The Affair): Take note, show creators: nurture the female talent in the cast. In its previous season, The Affair was mostly about the perspectives told by lead actors Ruth Wilson and Dominic West. Supporting actors Maura Tierney and Joshua Jackson (who has yet to get his due), who play the spouses of the aforementioned, were really just peripheral talent--important but still a mystery. Flash forward to this season and Tierney has a fleshed-out character and has unveiled one of the best performances of her career.


Taraji P. Henson (Best Performance by an Actress In A Television Series - Drama, Empire): Of course, I do feel a kind of way that mainstream media is finally paying attention to Henson now that she's playing a black woman ex-con after being in the business for 20 years...this is one of those characters that has been endlessly gif-able (read: a friendly pop culture magnet). Not to take away from Henson's performance, which is part scene-chewing and part low-key brilliance. Plus, anyone who was on the fence about her before has now been won over with her acceptance speech. And then there's this gift that keeps on giving:

Oscar Isaac (Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television, Show Me a Hero): I didn't see this mini-series, but Oscar Isaac (the beautiful Oscar Isaac) has finally impressed enough folks in Hollywood to start getting recognized. (I also want to add that this was the most diverse category in the entire list with two other men of color--David Oyelowo and Idris Elba--nominated).

Gael García Bernal (Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy, Mozart in the Jungle): This is another show I haven't seen yet (and I literally just heard about for the first time last week). But it's Gael, and he has been consistently ignored in Hollywood for years. Thanks for finally waking up, Hollywood Foreign Press.


Mr. Robot (Best Television Series - Drama, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television): Clearly, putting this on the lower end of my priority to-watch list was a fatal error in judgment. I still haven't gotten to it, but I am glad that the Globes are actually recognizing a genre series in categories that aren't exclusively made for genre,  Still, shows like Jessica Jones and Daredevil, and Charlize's performance in Mad Max, haven't gotten their chance (though The Martian sure did break barriers in the musical/comedy category *raised eyebrow*). But this is a small but significant step for mankind.

Now let's see how the other award shows will surprise us. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Why Does SICARIO Keep Getting Snubbed by the Major Awards?

I meant to write about Sicario earlier, but I guess I was too busy drowning in the mediocrity of too many other films last year. By now, many of you probably already know that Sicario is absolutely brilliant. The cinematography (shout out to the great Roger Deakins), the acting (literally, every cast member adds such a terrific element to the narrative), and Taylor Sheridan's screenplay--all led by director Denis Villeneuve--make for a brilliant film. So, why is it getting shut out of many of the major awards? (Though the recent British Academy Film Awards nominations threw Benicio del Toro a bone, nominating him in the supporting actor comedy--the film's only nomination. Neither the Screen Actors Guild nor the Golden Globe Awards even bothered). 

What's more mind-boggling is that garbage films like The Big Short are recognized consistently. I'm over it.

I hope it's not just another case of voters' allergy toward genre films, because eff that. The hugely problematic sci-fi drama, Ex-Machina, can't hold it down for this entire set. And I refuse to go through another award season of costume dramas, meaningless comedies and boring narratives (I'm looking at you, Brooklyn). Plus, in this constant dialogue about 2015 being the "year of the woman," why is Emily Blunt's performance in Sicario get left out of the conversation? It is easily one of the best female performances this year, and the heartbeat of a fantastic film. So where are her nominations? Her portrayal of an FBI thrust in the middle of a highly dangerous Mexican cartel investigation is multi-layered, nuanced and engrossing. You feel her fear, her determination to believe in what's right, and ultimately her jadedness. That's more than I can say for many other performances, male or female, from last year.

And let's get back to the look of Sicario for a moment. Deakins places the audience at the center of the action--from the back seat of a military vehicle at a holdup at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico, and through the night vision goggles of a top secret government task force ready to bust down every door within a 50-mile radius.

So, I need answers. Why isn't this film getting more love?

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Rob Zombie Is Back With An All New Nightmare For You...

...Or so I hope.

Confession: I'm not much of a Rob Zombie fan. The filmmaker is either trying to destroy the Halloween franchise with half-wit spinoffs, or giving us erratic B-horror like The Devil's Rejects. It's just ridiculous. BUT, I understand he has a devoted fanbase, even if he's the Tyler Perry of horror (yeah, I said it).

Apparently he has a new film debuting at Sundance this month, which hopefully means it's actually not that bad. Here's a little about it:

31 tells the story of five carnies in 1976 kidnapped on the morning of Halloween and held hostage in a remote industrial Hell. While trapped, they are forced to play a violent game called 31. The mission is to survive 12 hours against an endless gang of grease--- painted maniacs.

I actually kinda like the idea of the story being set in 1976, during my favorite decade of horror films. But this is Rob Zombie, so I don't know what I am going to get. 


Friday, January 8, 2016

Trailer Watch: Helen Mirren Takes Command in the Drone Military Drama, EYE IN THE SKY

I'm always here for Helen Mirren, even if I don't always like her movies. So I'm hoping EYE IN THE SKY, the upcoming military drama co-starring Barkhad Abdi and Aaron Paul, is good. Though, I feel like I have military movie fatigue lately.

Here are the deets on the film:

EYE IN THE SKY stars Helen Mirren as Colonel Katherine Powell, a UK-based military officer in command of a top secret drone operation to capture terrorists in Kenya. Through remote surveillance and on-the-ground intel, Powell discovers the targets are planning a suicide bombing and the mission escalates from "capture" to "kill." But as American pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) is about to engage, a nine-year old girl enters the kill zone, triggering an international dispute reaching the highest levels of US and British government over the moral, political, and personal implications of modern warfare.

The trailer is pretty intense. Check it out:

EYE OF THE SKY is in select theaters March 11. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Are You Ready for Another Horror Anthology?

As you know, I have been hugely disappointed by recent horror anthologies (looking at you, V/H/S), so hearing about a new one coming out doesn't really bring the same excitement it would have, say, two years ago. But I am somewhat intrigued by the presentation of the narrative of SOUTHBOUND, which has several different directors contributing to each of the five interlocking films in the series, produced by Roxanne Benjamin (ironically, of V/H/S fame).

Here's more on SOUTHBOUND:

Weary travellers confront their worst nightmares — and darkest secrets — over one long night on a desolate stretch of desert highway in this spooky anthology that merges five tales of death and mayhem on the open road.

Mitch and Jack are on the run from their past when they turn up, blood-splattered, at a lonely roadside diner; an all-girl rock group called Siren must rely on the kindness of strangers when their tour van breaks down at the side of the road; a harried business-man is desperate for help from an unusual 911 operator in the aftermath of a car accident; a frantic gunman bursts into a bar demanding to know the whereabouts of a girl in a photograph; all hell breaks loose when masked men interrupt a family vacation.

I will remain cautiously optimistic until SOUTHBOUND hits select theaters February 5, and VOD on February 9. What say you?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

New Images from RIDE ALONG 2 Show Kevin Hart and Ice Cube Getting Into More Shenanigans

I kinda completely forgot this buddy cop movie was even happening until I started seeing promoted tweets pop up on my timeline. No shade, I just didn't see the first Ride Along and I am not really motivated to do so. Plus, do we really need another buddy copy movie? I think not. That said,RIDE ALONG 2 is pretty low priority for me, though its star Kevin Hart has provided minute-by-minute updates on its production for the past year (bless his heart).

But if you or someone you know has this movie on their most anticipated of 2016 list, Universal Pictures just released a batch of stills from that you might like featuring other cast members like Ice Cuba, Tika Sumpter and Ken Jeong. Check 'em out below.

But first, here's a description of the film:

Kevin Hart and Ice Cube lead the returning lineup of Ride Along 2, the sequel to the blockbuster action-comedy that gave us the year's most popular comedy duo. They are joined in the film by Ride Along co-stars Bruce McGill and Tika Sumpter, as well as those new to the series, including Ken Jeong, Benjamin Bratt and Olivia Munn.

RIDE ALONG 2 opens in theaters January 15. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

7 Horror Films to Keep On Your Radar This Year

Guys! We've made it to 2016, which means all those awful films from last year did NOT kill us with boredom like we feared. Now all we need is to make it through Oscar season. But before we start scratching each other's eyes out, let's switch gears a bit...

The longer nights and blistery cold days have put me in a horror movie state of mind. So I've decided to round up a list of frightful films I'm most anticipating this year that you should put on your radar as well:


DIRECTOR: Jason Zada
WRITER(S): Nick Antosca, Sarah Cornwell, Ben Ketai
CAST: Natalie Dormer, Eoin Macken, Stephanie Vogt
DESCRIPTION: A young woman searches for her twin sister in a Japanese forest only to find herself surrounded by paranormal forces.
COMMENTS: The top of the year almost always brings new (yes, sometimes forgettable) horror films. But this one looks especially interesting (though it does have that stereotype that "everything foreign is scary" which nags otherwise great modern horror).

Watch the trailer:


DIRECTOR: William Brent Bell
WRITER(S): Stacey Menear
CAST: Lauren Cohan, Rupert Evans, Ben Robson
RELEASE DATE: January 22
DESCRIPTION: An American nanny is shocked that her new English family's boy is actually a life-sized doll. After violating a list of strict rules, disturbing events make her believe that the doll is really alive.
COMMENTS: If we've learned anything from classics like Chucky, Poltergeist, or the "Living Doll" episode of The Twilight Zone, we know that dolls are horrifying. So I can't imagine babysitting one of these plastic demons.

Watch the trailer:


DIRECTOR: F. Javier Gutiérrez
WRITER(S): Jacob Aaron Estes, Akiva Goldsman, David Loucka
CAST: Johnny Galecki, Aimee Teegarden, Laura Wiggins
RELEASE DATE: April 1 (tentative)
DESCRIPTION: Samara returns with a familiar video tape to strike terror again in this third film of the Ring series.
COMMENTS: It's been 11 years since the sequel to the first American remake of the Japanese Ringu, which means Samara is going to be P-I-S-S-E-D.


WRITER(S): Carey Hayes, Chad Hayes, David Johnson, James Wan
CAST: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Frances O'Connor
DESCRIPTION: Based on the true story of the paranormal case that afflicted the Hodgson family.
COMMENTS: I'd probably watch this franchise try to find everyone in the sea at this point. So adorable.

Watch the trailer:


DIRECTOR: James DeMonaco
WRITER(S): James DeMonaco
CAST: Elizabeth Mitchell, Frank Grillo, Mykelti Williamson
DESCRIPTION: Plot details are unconfirmed, but I hear that this third installment will go "back to basics" with the original film. And I am sure there will be plenty of mayhem.
COMMENTS: I will always have a soft spot for this franchise.


DIRECTOR: Osgood Perkins
WRITER(S): Osgood Perkins
CAST: Emma Roberts, Lauren Holly, Kiernan Shipka
RELEASE DATE: September 24
DESCRIPTION: Set at an all girls boarding school, February tells the story of two women bound together by a series of sinister events.
COMMENTS: This looks bats**t crazy. I'm in.

Watch the trailer:


DIRECTOR: Marcel Langenegger
WRITER(S): Ben Ketai
CAST: Unconfirmed
RELEASE DATE: December 2 (tentative)
DESCRIPTION: The plot follows a family on the verge of sending their troubled teenage daughter to boarding school as they embark on one last family trip to a mobile home park that their uncle runs. Their last bonding opportunity turns to horror when the teenage children discover the bodies of their aunt and uncle, fresh from a recent visit from the Strangers — Man in the Mask, Pin Up Girl and Dollface.The night becomes a race to escape for the family, as the masked killers take new pleasure in tormenting their victims in this twisted sequel that picks up where the original’s bloody footprints leave off.
COMMENTS: Full disclosure: this movie is really iffy as it has been "in the works" for a long time, with a revolving door of directors and screenwriters attached. But the word on the street is that it will be released this year. If this is true and it is even half as good as the original 2008 film, I am going to already call this the best horror of 2016.

Which horror are you looking forward to this year?

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