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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

And Here are Two More Glorious Character Posters from STAR TREK BEYOND

No, this is not another #StarringJohnCho reenactment. The actor is looking pretty boss in a new Sulu character poster for the upcoming movie, STAR TREK BEYOND, which is really shaping up to be a spectacular blockbuster come July 22 (or so one can hope). Zoe Saldana's Uhura looks badass in her character poster as well.

Here's a recap of the film's synopsis: "Star Trek Beyond," the highly anticipated next installment in the globally popular Star Trek franchise, created by Gene Roddenberry and reintroduced by J.J. Abrams in 2009, returns with director Justin Lin (“The Fast and the Furious” franchise) at the helm of this epic voyage of the U.S.S. Enterprise and her intrepid crew. In “Beyond," the Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a mysterious new enemy who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test.

How are y'all feeling about this so far?

Monday, May 30, 2016

America Ferrera Co-Executive Produced a New Web Series With An All-Latino Cast, and It Looks Awesome

No cartels. No guns. No drugs. That's what is promised in a new web series co-executive produced by America Ferrera, GENTE-FIED. And what a refreshing thing that is to hear. How many times have I lamented the overwhelming number of Latino stereotypes Hollywood has profited from in their most beloved drug war movies alone? A lot. And it continues.

Which makes GENTE-FIED that much more intriguing. The 7-episode series, which has no release date just yet, follows a relatively unknown all-Latino cast of characters as they deal with gentrification in their predominantly Mexican working-class Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights. Ferrera also appears throughout the show, which will help fill a void of narratives that highlight the lives of minority characters who vary in personality, motivation, gender, sexual orientation, and age.

I am really looking forward to this. Watch the trailer:

Friday, May 27, 2016

There's a Movie Coming about a Black Sorority Girl Who Has to Teach White Sorority Girls How to Step

...And get this: she has has to do this in order to get into law school.

Sometimes I feel like I am being punked when news like this comes into my inbox. I mean, can you imagine being in the boardroom where this premise is pitched, unironically? With cultural appropriation and Hollywood diversity centered deep within pop culture rhetoric these days, this kind of movie continues to prove just how distant Hollywood bigwigs are to understanding/caring about their audiences.

But I digress. Megalyn Echikunwoke is a solid actress of color who's known for her TV work on genre shows including The Following, Damien, and The 4400. And for that, she'll always get cool points in my book. But STEP SISTERS just seems like a major step down for her, despite the fact that one of my imaginary besties, Lena Waithe (Master of None), co-produced it.

I'd like to say that I will remain cautiously optimistic about this, sounds like the black girl (Echikunwoke) has to teach the flailing white sorority how to be black, by showing them how to step like the black sorority girls, so that they can seem cool and she can get into law school. So, you know, optimism is going to difficult.

Full synopsis: Step Sisters centers on an ambitious black sorority girl (Echikunwoke) who, in order to get admitted to the law school of her dreams, agrees to cross cultural lines and teach the exclusive art of black Greek stepping to a band of wild, party-obsessed white sorority girls whose charter is about to be revoked.

Principal photography begins June 1 in Atlanta, and STEP SISTERS is expected to come to be in theaters sometime next year.

I'm just gonna leave this one with you guys....

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Hollywood Just Loves Telling Pablo Escobar Stories

I swear, no one knows how to kill a story harder than Hollywood. I don't know whether it's their fetish for Latino drug dramas or if they are truly are fascinated by Pablo Escobar. Either way, here we are with yet another story about the Colombian cocaine kingpin in THE INFILTRATOR, the year after Narcos became the new bingewatch craze on Netflix.

But anyway. Bryan Cranston, because you know how Hollywood loves to tell a Latino narrative through the eyes of a white man, plays a federal agent who goes undercover to try to take down Escobar. But not without the help of fellow agent (John Leguizamo) and a liutenant (played by Benjamin Bratt), because if cinematic history has taught us anything it's that every time a white man presents himself as a threat to the Latino drug war he has to align himself with actual Latinos to get the job done. Just saying.


Based on a true story, Federal agent ROBERT "BOB" MAZUR (Bryan Cranston) goes deep undercover to infiltrate Pablo Escobar's drug trafficking scene plaguing the nation in 1986 by posing as slick, money-laundering businessman Bob Musella. Teamed with impulsive and streetwise fellow agent EMIR ABREU (John Leguizamo) and rookie agent posing as his fiancé KATHY ERTZ (Diane Kruger), Mazur befriends Escobar's top lieutenant ROBERTO ALCAINO (Benjamin Bratt). Navigating a vicious criminal network in which the slightest slip-up could cost him his life, Mazur risks it all building a case that leads to indictments of 85 drug lords and the corrupt bankers who cleaned their dirty money, along with the collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, one of the largest money-laundering banks in the world.

Watch the trailer:

Looks decent with a great cast (which also includes Diane Kruger, Olympia Dukakis, and Amy). And director Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer) definitely needs to redeem himself after the forgettable Runner Runner. I'm going to have to be cautiously optimistic about this one. 

THE INFILTRATOR comes to theaters July 13. 

Jaylah from STAR TREK BEYOND is My New Favorite Thing

So, I'm not much of a fan of these new Star Trek movies. They are just hella corny to me. But the trailers I've been seeing for STAR TREK BEYOND have actually got me a little hyped. And that's mostly because of Jaylah. I have no idea who she is or what she's about, but her badassery is on fleek (as the kids say) in this most recent trailer:

Seriously, it's like all the other characters disappeared as Jaylah (portrayed by Algerian actress Sofia Boutella) just annihilated each of their scenes. After further investigation, I've learned she's apparently a new alien to the series that's come to raise hell on the crew.  And I am here for every second of it. 

Please, please, PLEASE let this be good. 

STAR TREK BEYOND is in theaters July 22.

Teaser for a New Ridley Scott-Produced Sci-Fi Thriller Has Us Asking #WhatIsMorgan?

If the looks on the characters' faces in MORGAN are any indication, the titular mutant (?) must be terrifying as all hell. Typical to many Ridley Scott-produced films, MORGAN follows a group of scientists investigating a life form unfamiliar to them that has deadly tendencies. Also true to Scott's work, there's a woman scientist at the helm (in this instance, she's played by Kate Mara).


A corporate troubleshooter (Kate Mara) is sent to a remote, top-secret location, where she is to investigate and evaluate a terrifying accident. She learns the event was triggered by a seemingly innocent "human," who presents a mystery of both infinite promise and incalculable danger.

Michelle Yeoh, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Paul Giamatti also star in the film. Watch the teaser trailer:

I'm intrigued. Anyone else?

Monday, May 23, 2016

On Cultural Reclamation, Spirituality, and KEEPERS OF THE GAME

There's been a lot of talk about diversity and representation on the big screen, and veiled in that conversation has been how much white cinema has borrowed from other cultures, whitewashed characters, and yet refuse to include minorities in the cast. And it's not just Hollywood. As highlighted in the new documentary, KEEPERS OF THE GAME, certain sports rooted within a particular culture have also been appropriated as a cherished, white pastime.

For many of us, this doesn't come as a surprise. Cultural appropriation is embedded in much of popular culture today. But, as usual, that conversation has centered on black and white. Director Judd Ehrlich goes outside of that to tell the story of an all-Native high school girls lacrosse team as they attempt to become the first to bring home a Section Championship near the Akwesasne Mohawk Territory, coincidentally where lacrosse was born as a sacred game traditionally reserved for men. Yes, one of the whitest, male-dominated activities is actually a Native (male) sport.

Yet that's neither the focus nor the most engaging thing about KEEPERS OF THE GAME. Ehrlich instead builds the narrative around the actual women, who share stories of cultural responsibility, defying tradition, and dehumanization.

"Colonization has done a number on our souls. You walk around and feel empty every day." This is just one of the more poignant lines in the film, said by a woman in the community working to restore the spirituality of the young women who are struggling between their commitment to a game they no longer belong to and a culture that has been ridiculed, disregarded, and nearly dismantled. Spirituality is one of the few things they have been able to maintain as a culture, as we see them calling on it several times in the film, and yet it's the very thing that alludes the young women in their quest for sports victory and cultural reclamation.

While Ehrlich highlights an underrepresented narrative that deserves to be told, KEEPERS OF THE GAME is monotonous and doesn't have a point of view, which results in a weak narrative that takes you out of the film at times. It's slow-moving and just minimally engaging, even its most emotional scenes. Watch it to hear the important perspectives from the young women, but lower your expectations on the cinematic narrative.

KEEPERS OF THE GAME airs on ESPN2 this Tuesday, May 24 at 9:00pm EST and next Monday, May 30 at 11:00pm EST.

Rating: C-

Friday, May 20, 2016

Trailer Watch: Anna Gunn is a Badass Wall Street Vulture in EQUITY

This isn't going to be a post about how awesome it is for women to be taking the lead in the notoriously male-dominated genre of financial thrillers. That's not even the most important thing about this trailer for EQUITY, starring Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad). Though, of course that's impressive and all as actresses usually play the wife of the fascinating lead male character in these types of movies. But what's kickass about this trailer is that the movie actually looks gooood. Like good in the sense that it's high quality and I won't come away from it just thinking how great it was that they gave the ladies a chance to fight with money on the big screen. Eff that.

I've written about my love for Gunn on the blog before, but it bears repeating: She's marvelous, talented, and kickass without fitting that cookie-cutter look that Hollywood likes to fawn over. I'm excited she's stepped even further into the spotlight, along with one of Orange is the New Black's toughest gals, Alysia Reiner--and was directed by Indian-American filmmaker Meera Menon. I'm really looking forward to this.


When Senior investment banker Naomi Bishop (Anna Gunn) is passed over for a promotion at her firm, she fights for the opportunity to take a start-up public, hoping this promising IPO will secure her a place at the firm’s highest level. But when an employee at the start-up raises questions about a possible crack in the company’s walls, Naomi must decide whether to investigate rumors that may compromise the deal, or push forward with the confidence her superiors expect.

Soon Naomi finds herself tangled in a web of deception and office politics and begins to question if there is anyone she can trust. As the IPO draws closer, Naomi sees that the choices she has made for her career have left her very much alone. Forced to reexamine the rules of the cutthroat world she has always loved she finds herself in a fight for her very survival.

Watch the trailer:

EQUITY is in theaters July 29. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Here's a Postcard from the BAYWATCH Babes

No matter how much you pretend that the BAYWATCH movie isn't happening, it doesn't make it go away. And apparently, even when they've dipped out of the sunlight for a bit, they send postcards. Below is one featuring star Dwayne Johnson with the rest of the cast, literally a bunch of beach babes (and Zac Efron). Fellow cast member Priyanka Chopra is mysteriously missing...

And...that's all I'm going to say about this.

BAYWATCH opens nationwide May 19, 2017.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Remembering Ousmane Sembene's BLACK GIRL, 50 Years Later

To say that Ousmane Sembene's 1966 drama BLACK GIRL is a movie about race does it a grave disservice, one that overlooks its sensitive portrayal of Diouanaa young Senegalese woman (Mbissine Thérèse Diop) whose humanity is stripped away when she is brought from her native home by the white family she works for and suddenly expected to become their domestic aid in France. It's about confinement, resistance, and ultimately defeat. BLACK GIRL humanizes the many nameless women of color victims of discrimination in the headlines today whose stories are quickly filed away once the next popular trending topic emerges.

Semebene's seminal film doesn't have a triumphant ending and didn't earn any shiny Hollywood awards, but it serves as a perfect example of what we still don't see enough of onscreen when it comes to women of color characters--vulnerability.

BLACK GIRL adds a sense of urgency and resonance to the current conversation on race, inequality, and acceptance. And now it's got a 4K restoration for a limited run beginning today at BAMcinématek in New York and at Cinefamily in Los Angeles on June 30. 

Watch the trailer:  

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Groundbreaking Loving v. Virginia Case Gets a Dramatic Retelling

Did we ever talk about the hugely criminally HBO documentary, The Loving Story, which explored the groundbreaking 1958 case between an interracial couple and the state of Virginia that went all the way to the Supreme Court? It aired back in 2011 and was met with little to no media surrounding it (and apparently I never wrote about it, since I can't find a post in the archives), but I was FASCINATED by this story. Yes, we see interracial couples all the time now on TV, but this is the couple whose case rocked the entire U.S. nation at a time when interracial romances were outlawed. The Loving Story exposed not only disgusting institutionalized racism, but it also shared a truly unbreakable bond between Mildred Jeter, a black woman married to a white man, Richard Loving.

Flash forward five years later and the story, still as relevant as ever with the vitriol thrown at actress Tamera Mowry and the family seen in this Old Navy ad, resurfaces with LOVING, the dramatic retelling of the Loving v. Virginia case starring Ruth Negga as Mildred Jeter and Joel Edgerton as Richard Loving and directed by Jeff Nichols (who helmed the terrified Take Shelter). Judging by my social media feed, it's all the rage at the Cannes Film Festival. And I couldn't be happier to hear it. I'm literally chomping at the bit desperate to see it right this minute.

Focus Features debuted the official poster yesterday:

My body is so ready. LOVING is slated to be in theaters in November.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Writer/Comedienne Ali Wong is Your New Favorite Anti-Feminist Feminist

In this age of hyper political correctness, there's hardly any space for brassy, ballsy comediennes to really speak their mind with offending someone--especially comediennes of color. But in comes Ali Wong, loud, inappropriate and seven and a half months pregnant talking about how much she hates feminism and her dream of being a submissive housewife in her out-of-nowhere, brilliant Netflix comedy special, ALI WONG: BABY COBRA.

Despite having an ambition that would enrage most feminists, Wong is actually a successful writer for the ABC hit series, Fresh Off the Boat. Yes, she's the one who provides matriarch Jessica Huang's (Constance Wu) sharp-tongued one-liners on the show, unsurprisingly. Wong's star has gotten so bright that she used her TV paycheck to pay off her new "hotter than me" husband's $70,000 medical school debt. So, take that feminist police.

In BABY COBRA, Wong leaves no stone unturned--and everything about her is dropped onto the stage like a cold slab of meat. An unexpected miscarriage, her parents coming from "a third world country," bowel movements in her office bathroom, how much "work" conceiving a child has been this time around, her HPV status, and sexcapades with men who live in the public park. Yeah, it's not pretty, but it's H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S. I mean, it's funny because it's true. And Wong is unashamed to talk about all of it, in great detail.

Like the semi-fictional Jessica Huang, Wong is acutely observant of her political placement as a working Asian-American woman, and unafraid to call out bullsh*t when she sees it. In fact, at one point she recalls how having sex with white men made her feel powerful (her husband is a "hot Asian man), like she wanted to push their heads between her legs and get them back for years of oppression and white male privilege. A far cry from what she perceives as a trend of Asian-American women leaning on white men to elevate their status (and white men who fetishize "tiny Asian women"). Make no mistake, Wong calls the shots--in the writers' room, in her personal life, and between the sheets.

Everything Wong talks about in BABY COBRA is based on her life experiences and hard facts (including how she discovered twerking in Atlanta and how black and Asian relations are not always as copacetic as they appear in Rush Hour), which may not tickle everyone's funny bone. But it's real, it's honest, and it's so refreshing.

In ALI WONG: BABY COBRA, Wong tells it like it is and brings you into her world in a way that is relentlessly personal. During an era in which we praise comedians like Louis C.K. and Amy Schumer, it's time to make room for Ali Wong. Because she's not going anywhere.

ALI WONG: BABY COBRA is now streaming on Netflix.

Watch the trailer:

Friday, May 13, 2016

DVD Review: THE BOY Takes All the Horror Out of Dolls

Another one bites the dust. That was all I could muster as a reaction to THE BOY, which, you may remember, was on my list of most anticipated horror films of 2016. And while we're at it, The Forest was also an epic fail. This is so disappointing. Here it is, Friday the 13th, and the only horror film opening today is the lackluster-looking The Darkness (sorry, Kevin Bacon, this doesn't look great). And the DVD releases are nothing to brag about either.

Rather than revisiting the slightly older--yet equally bad--The Forest, I am going to focus this post on THE BOY because how can a doll that looks like this not be horrifying?

Chucky turned into a crazy-faced porcelain boy, That dastardly clown in Poltergeist still gives me nightmares. But little boy Brahms (aka the doll above) is actually not scary at all. In fact, the expression you see here on its face remains the same throughout the whole movie. But all the human characters in the film are terrified of him--including The Walking Dead's Lauren Cohan, who plays the film's protagonist and Brahm's "babysitter" Greta (also: who names their baby Greta anymore?). I am so disappointed that Cohan goes from kicking some serious zombie ass on one of the greatest shows on TV right now to being punked by a porcelain doll on the big screen. Reason #89,697 why more actresses are flocking to the small screen. 

A quick briefer on THE BOY: Greta is recruited to work for the Hellshires, an English couple who is in seriously deep denial that their young son is no longer. So much so that they actually hire babysitters to care for their pretend son, who they've reimagined as a doll. Greta later realizes things are a lot more...complicated in the Heelshire family. And none of it really has anything to do with this doll. Worst of all, this movie is not scary. Not even when the music elevates, it starts pouring outside, it's dark, and Greta's alone in the huge house. STILL. NOT. SCARY. 

All this to say, today is going to be another Friday the 13th when I will likely stay home and watch hours of Friday the 13th movies. And I'm fine with that. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Trailer Watch: Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood in the New Thriller, INTO THE FOREST

Guys, I am really excited about the growing popularity of strong--yet vulnerable--women characters in genre film. I mean, I'm elated. And now two of my favorite actresses, Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood, have teamed up for the apocalyptic looking thriller, INTO THE FOREST, which looks potentially great. And, it was directed by a woman--Patricia Rozema (Mansfield Park), who also adapted the screenplay from a novel written by another woman, Jean Heglund.

Check out the synopsis:

Set in the near future, this riveting and suspenseful apocalyptic drama follows two sisters, Nell (Ellen Page) and Eva (Evan Rachel Wood) who live in the Pacific Northwest with their kindly father, Robert. Nell is focused on her studies and Eva is training to be a dancer, but their peaceful lives are disrupted one day by what turns out to be a continent-wide blackout. Whereas at first the family bond together and try to make the most of their difficult circumstances, as time gone on, the challenges become more serious. In the wake of a shocking and violent confrontation that Robert has with a menacing passerby, the sisters must work together in order to survive in their increasingly treacherous new world.

Watch the trailer:

This looks very intriguing. What say you?

INTO THE FOREST will be available exclusively on DirecTV June 23, opening in theaters July 29.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

I'm Just So Happy To See More WoC in Genre Film

You may recall that at the beginning of each year, usually when we declare our film resolutions on Cinema in Noir, I always say that I hope to see more people of color in genre. But after the uber success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens last year, I was more specific: I want need deserve more women of color in genre film. And dammit, I think we are finally getting there.

Gina Rodriguez is starring in the sci-fi film, Annihilation for which she's got a badass new haircut. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is in the sci-fi/thriller, God Participle. And Paula Patton is in the adventure/fantasy film, WARCRAFT. Peep the new still from the film, hot off the press from Legendary Pictures and Universal Pictures. Will she be good in it? Eh, we'll have to wait and see. If she's half as good in this as she was in Precious, I'll be elated (and forgive all those horrible romcoms she's done).

Read the synopsis:

From Legendary Pictures and Universal Pictures comes Warcraft, an epic adventure of world-colliding conflict based on Blizzard Entertainment's global phenomenon.

The peaceful realm of Azeroth stands on the brink of war as its civilization faces a fearsome race of invaders: Orc warriors fleeing their dying home to colonize another. As a portal opens to connect the two worlds, one army faces destruction and the other faces extinction. From opposing sides, two heroes are set on a collision course that will decide the fate of their family, their people and their home.

So begins a spectacular saga of power and sacrifice in which war has many faces, and everyone fights for something.

Directed by Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code) and written by Charles Leavitt and Jones, the film starring Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer, Rob Kazinsky and Daniel Wu is a Legendary Pictures, Blizzard Entertainment and Atlas Entertainment production.

Check out a few more images from the film:

My body is ready. WARCRAFT opens in theaters June 10 in 3D.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

More Proof That You Need to Stay Out of THE WOODS

A friend of mine has a running joke whenever I recommend a horror movie to her: Is it about a group of stupid 20-somethings who take a vacation in the woods? Because I'll pass. Seriously though, how does anyone go to the woods anymore, like, for fun? Horror movies should have killed any desire to ever do that again.

But alas, here we are again--back in the woods with a group of nobodies. They're simply calling this movie THE WOODS, to avoid any confusion about the IQ level. Word on the street is (i.e. other critics have said) it's actually really good and "the best horror movie ever made." I admit, the teaser trailer below is pretty aces. But years of watching movies like this have left me jaded. I just hope it lives up to the hype...

Check it out:

THE WOODS is in theaters September 16. 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

HIGH-RISE Is a Disturbing Hot Mess

Guys, HIGH-RISE is just about the looniest garbage I have seen in a long while. And I wanted to love it. I mean, Tom Hiddleston is in it, as is Elisabeth Moss, so that's gotta count for something, right? NOPE.

At its core, HIGH-RISE directed by Ben Wheatler (Kill List) tells the story of a classless, baseless, society through the deterioration of an upscale skyscraper filled with upscale apartments filled with meaningless people who go apes**t after a power outrage levels the upper class with, well, the upper upper class. The end. No really, it's as petty and ignorant to reality as it sounds--which is the most frustrating part about it. That and the fact that it's the kind of crap that many film snobs consider art in the face of trash. Yeah, I said it.

So what's good about it? Well, as I said Hiddleston is always a delight to watch. He's clearly enjoying himself here, wallowing in the filth that is apparently the sub-premise of the narrative. His character, Laing, an architect, dances, destroys his apartment, sunbathes naked on his balcony, and screws all the pretty girls in their shallow, affluent complex. He's, I guess, living the dream. Meanwhile, his neighbors (played by Moss, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, and Luke Evans), having lived in the building years before him and distant from the outside world, are embarking on rabid crime sprees and committing sins throughout the building--
murder, theft, rape, adultery, you name it. That's how they're dealing with the fear of being among the pedestrian (aka the lower level floors).

HIGH-RISE, while nicely shot even at its most maniacal, is ultimately empty with a disastrously constructed narrative. While its recurring theme projects anxieties over a socialist society, the delivery is tone deaf and thoroughly problematic.

Rating: F (no stars)

HIGH-RISE is now playing.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

TEAM FOXCATCHER Presents Yet Another Chilling Account of the Murder of Olympic Wrestler Dave Schulz

For those of you who watched 2014's Foxcatcher, which presents a complex look at the circumstances surrounding the 1996 murder of Olympic wrestler Dave Schulz, will get a completely different picture of that story with the new Netflix original documentary, TEAM FOXCATCHER. Not necessarily better or worse, but remarkably disparate. The most distinct difference being the role Dave's brother Mark Schulz played.

In his directorial debut, Jon Greenhalgh presents a focused account of the events leading up to Dave's death at the hands of millionaire John Du Pont, owner of the exclusive, titular Pennsylvania wrestling facility, Team Foxcatcher. Through interviews with fellow wrestling athletes whom Du Pont--under the far more charismatic shadow of Dave--mentored, and Dave's widow, Nancy, TEAM FOXCATCHER steadily unravels Du Pont's mental state while eulogizing Dave for the significant impact he had on those around him. The portrayal of an increasingly psychotic Du Pont emerges, along with and unsuspecting and tragically loyal Dave--with the noticeable absence of his brother Mark.

You may remember in Foxcatcher that Mark was the reason that he and Dave remained on Du Pont's elaborate ranch, despite Mark's pleas otherwise, and that it was Dave's influence on Mark that seemed to have been the catalyst to Du Pont's jealous rage. But in TEAM FOXCATCHER, Du Pont was already predisposed to having a variety of mental and emotional issues that provoked him into wild behavior, including at one point firing all the black wrestlers, playing mind games, and murderous thoughts. This is all without the presence of Mark, who was nowhere to be found (or even mentioned) in the film.

Now, I don't know if this has anything to do with Mark's displeasure over the portrayal of his character in Foxcatcher, but it is curious that he doesn't have a presence in this take on the story--especially since it was previously presented as though the two were quite close. But after reading this Vulture interview with Nancy, it sounds like Mark was in fact not at Foxcatcher at the same time as his brother (which once again begs the question why Foxcatcher chose to fudge the narrative). Regardless, both accounts have led me to believe that there are many layers to this story, some of which we may never quite understand.

While we don't really get an intimate look at Dave Schulz, TEAM FOXCATCHER does succeed at providing the audience with a chilling portrayal of otherwise natural events that led to the murder of a man who meant so much to so many many and who, as quoted in the film, "died for no reason."

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

TEAM FOXCATCHER is now streaming on Netflix.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Michael Fassbender May Play a Real Life Serial Killer in an Upcoming Movie

If anyone could play a literary charmer by day and an enraged serial killer by night, it's Michael Fassbender. So I love the idea of him potentially starring in the film adaptation of John Leake's true crime novel, ENTERING HADES. Has anyone here read it?

There's already some major talent behind the film on the production and writing side--from Richard Saperstein (John Q, Se7en) to Conor McCaughan (Assassin's Creed) and screenwriter Alexander Dinelaris (Birdman). And according to a press release today from Broad Green Pictures, a relatively new production studio that recently brought us I Smile Back and Knight of Cups), Fassbender is being sought after for the role. More about it in the synopsis:

Entering Hades is the true story of Jack Unterweger, a celebrated Austrian journalist and best-selling author who led a double life investigating murders by day and killing by night – amassing a body count of 11 people across multiple continents.

I'm intrigued for a number of reasons: 1) the possibility of Michael Fassbender, 2) the return of a great serial killer thriller, 3) the idea of such a dark narrative in the hands of the screenwriter behind the extremely quirky Birdman. Could be great. Thoughts?

In Which I Ask, Did We Really Need Another NEIGHBORS Movie?

So, remember when I was all hyped about the first Neighbors film with Seth Rogen and Suddenly Sexy Zac Efron, about the two as rivaling residents? Let's just say that excitement quickly wore off after I actually watched the movie. It was...just ok. I would have preferred to re-watch The Burbs again.

Did it need a sequel? Of course not. But here we are again, stuck in the middle of Hollywood's pretend creative bankruptcy and hell. NEIGHBORS 2: SORORITY RISING pits the dueling pair, along with Rose Byrne reprising her role as Rogen's wife, against a whole new menace to the neighborhood. More in the synopsis below:

Returning stars Seth Rogen, Zac Efron and Rose Byrne are joined by Chloë Grace Moretz for Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, the follow-up to 2014's most popular original comedy. Nicholas Stoller again directs in a film that follows what happens when the will of parenthood goes against the bonds of sisterhood.

Now that Mac (Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Byrne) have a second baby on the way, they are ready to make the final move into adulthood: the suburbs. But just as they thought they'd reclaimed the neighborhood and were safe to sell, they learn that the new occupants next door are a sorority even more out of control than Teddy (Efron) and his brothers ever dreamed of being.

Tired of their school's sexist, restrictive system, the unorthodox ladies of Kappa Nu have decided to start a house where they can do whatever the hell they want. When Shelby (Moretz) and her sisters, Beth (Kiersey Clemons) and Nora (Beanie Feldstein), find the perfect place just off campus, they won't let the fact that it's located on a quiet street stand in their way of parties as epic as the guys throw.

Forced to turn to the one ex-neighbor with the skills to bring down the new Greeks next door, the Radners—alongside best friends Jimmy (Ike Barinholtz) and Paula (Carla Gallo)—bring in charismatic Teddy as their secret weapon. If he can infiltrate the sorority and charm his way through it, the thirtysomethings will shutter the Kappas' home. But if they think that their neighbors are going down without a fight, they have severely underestimated the power of youthful ingenuity and straight-up crazy.

I guess now we'll get to use who's worst to live by: men or women (or whatever this sorta franchise is trying to do). Universal Pictures have released a few new stills from the film to give us a taste of what to expect:


Monday, May 2, 2016

Tribeca Talks: Baz Luhrmann Makes a Case for the Return of Great Soundtracks

I'm not going to pretend to be much of a Baz Luhrmann film (I think his films are visually stunning yet awfully hollow), but when he announced that he was going to do THE GET DOWN, a drama series set at the birth of hip-hop for Netflix, I admit I was intrigued. Not optimistic, but more intrigued in the way in which I muttered to myself "this man is trying to ruin hip-hop now."

I am now more fascinated than ever at the idea of what he can bring to the project after watching this great Tribeca Talks program (which you can watch in its entirety above), in which he talks with fellow filmmaker Nelson George about music as text, and as an integral plot device. It's interesting when you think about the death of soundtracks in a way as they seem to have been all been replaced by lyrics-less musical scores. Which isn't a bad thing, but certainly is a sharp pivot. I do appreciate how passionate Luhrmann is about incorporating music into the actual narrative (even when it's not a straightforward musical). 

Here's a little more info on THE GET DOWN:

Creator Baz Luhrmann's first series for television, The Get Down focuses on 1970s New York - broken down and beaten up, violent, cash-strapped -- dying. Consigned to rubble, a rag-tag crew of South Bronx teenagers are nothings and nobodies with no one to shelter them - except each other, armed only with verbal games, improvised dance steps, some magic markers and spray cans. From Bronx tenements, to the SoHo art scene; from CBGB to Studio 54 and even the glass towers of the just-built World Trade Center, The Get Down is a mythic saga of how New York at the brink of bankruptcy gave birth to hip-hop - as told through the lives and music of the South Bronx kids who changed the city and the world...forever.

Giancarlo Esposito, Shameik Moore (Dope), Jaden Smith, and Jimmy Smits are among the cast. 

THE GET DOWN debuts on Netflix August 12. 

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