Review: Gemini Man

Starring Will Smith, Directed by Ang Lee

Review: Little Monsters

Starring Lupita Nyong'o, Josh Gad, and Alexander England

Review: The Laundromat

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Review: Lucy in the Sky

Starring Natalie Portman, Jon Hamm, and Zazie Beetz

Review: Joker

Starring Joaquin Phoenix


Review: 'Dolemite Is My Name', Eddie Murphy Is Outta Sight As Blaxploitation Legend Rudy Ray Moore

That Eddie Murphy would gravitate to playing R-rated comedian and blaxploitation icon Rudy Ray Moore isn't at all surprising. The two have quite a lot in common and only a little bit of it has to do with their edgy style of humor. Moore, who I first learned about from a brief scene in The Great White Hype (Hey, I was late to the party!), bristled at the stifling confines being placed on him by the business. Murphy, whose career was red-hot before he left his teens and has ebbed and flowed ever since, has also had to reinvent himself in ways similar to Moore, and do whatever it takes to quiet the naysayers.

In Dolemite is my Name, Murphy reminds us what a consummate entertainer he is. More than just an actor, more than just a comedian, he's the kind of guy who will do ANYTHING to please his audience, which is something else he shares in common with Moore. We forget how easily Murphy made the transition from an abrasive, offensive standup act to making family-friendly comedies, and then later showing his dramatic mettle. While nobody is going to call Moore much of an actor, the guy couldn't act his way out of a paper bag and it gets worse when asked to do a fight scene, but the love he has for entertaining others is there. Dolemite is my Name gets down to the root of where that comes from, early on showing Moore's struggles working by day at a record store and doing a lame hosting gig at night and maybe getting to tell one or two jokes before the headliner.  His need to be famous fueled by a childhood of abandonment and abuse, Moore always seems to be fighting never to return to that part of his life.

"How'd my life get so small?", he wonders aloud to a friend, another black entertainer just trying to make it.

These early scenes are presented in fairly standard biopic form by director Craig Brewer, and if there's any complaint I have it's that the film could be crazier, more gonzo, to match the path Moore's career would ultimately take. Hearing on the street about a kung-fu super-pimp named Dolemite, Moore would create a character based on the urban legend, take the mountain of filthy jokes around him and make them his own. It's at this point when the hiring of Brewer proves a stroke of genius. Capturing the same gritty, do-it-yourself energy of his breakout rap drama Hustle and Flow, Brewer relishes in the creative process. Murphy also comes alive at this point, as Moore begins recording comedy albums as Dolemite, at parties, in living rooms surrounded by friends and whoever caught wind of the act. Word spread, but Moore wanted...well, more. His big breakthrough comes when he and his buddies are at a movie theater, confused by the lack of humor in Billy Wilder's The Front Page, but seeing the hysterical reactions from the all-white audience

"If only I can get up in that light", he says pointing at the beam of light from the projector. That's when Moore decides to bet on himself and finance a Dolemite movie, bringing the swaggering, vulgar character to the big screen against all odds. What follows will be compared to The Disaster Artist by some, but Dolemite is my Name is a much better film with a lot more to say. I always saw James Franco's movie about The Room to be an insider joke, whether he wanted it to be that way or not.  Moore's story is far more compelling than the cartoonish Tommy Wiseau's could ever be. Moore, his buddies, and whoever they could scrounge up to help make the movie, had to content with racial tensions, people wanting them to fail, self-doubt, and segregation in the movie business. Their bizarre guerrilla production could barely keep the lights on, and had to get in an actual car chase with cops for a key scene. On a personal level, Moore had to deal with his own views on what a movie star should be, but always found a way to get through it using what he knew best: comedy.

The combination of Murphy, Brewer, and Ed Wood writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski is a potent one that celebrates the eternal power of film while figuratively playing the Dozens with movies of that era.  Brewer highlights the colorful zoot suits and big hairdos of the time, making it look like an authentic blaxploitation movie, while the funky soundtrack features songs from the original Dolemite, performed by Moore.

Representation plays a big part in Dolemite is my Name, as Moore sets out to make a movie with folks that would never be cast in a Hollywood movie. While this applied to Moore himself, too, it's especially true of his friends played the hilarious trio of Craig Robinson, Mike Epps, and Titus Burgess. This is my first encounter with Tony-nominated actress Da'Vine Joy Randolph but she is terrific as Lady Reed aka Queen Bee, a troubled housewife that Moore offers an opportunity to, first as a standup comedian then as an actress in his movie. And it would be impossible to ignore Wesley Snipes as D'Urville Martin, who Moore convinced to be part of Dolemite by giving him a chance to direct and co-star as the villain. Snipes hasn't had a ton of opportunities to be funny lately but he is an absolute riot as the flaky and pompous Martin. The shocked/horrified expressions he gives at the shabby production are priceless and it only has me more excited to see what he does when reunited with Murphy and Brewer for Coming to America 2.

I don't always like to throw around Oscar predictions but there are two or three performances here that are deserving of notice, with Murphy's obviously right at the top. Murphy is extraordinary, the cast surrounding him is incredible, and Dolemite is my Name is one of the best, most entertaining movies of the year. Hopefully, we can stop talking about Murphy's many comebacks and keep him around for the long haul.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Sony's 'Cinderella' Musical Eyes Idina Menzel For Evil Stepmother Role

Sony is really leaning on the musical aspect of their upcoming Cinderella film, moving as far as possible from Disney's recent non-musical version. With pop/R&B star Camila Cabello in the title role and Pose star Billy Porter (now confirmed) bringing his magical presence to the film, the latest to join is Tony and Grammy Award winner Idina Menzel.

Menzel, who also voices Elsa in Disney's Frozen and its sequel, is in talks for the role of Cinderella's evil stepmother. We don't see Menzel play villains too often, even though her character Elphaba in Wicked, for which she won the Tony, does eventually become the Wicked Witch of the West. Menzel's other big screen credits include an adaptation of Rent, and she will be seen opposite Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems.

This Cinderella will be written and directed by Kay Cannon, best known for writing the Pitch Perfect trilogy and directing the sex comedy, Blockers. Don't be shocked if this turns out to be a comedy/musical, especially if you consider the story was hatched by late night host James Corden. [Deadline]

Martin Scorsese Encourages Theater Owners To Take Action Against Marvel Films

Oh Marty! Clearly, Martin Scorsese does not give a shit about pissing off Marvel fans, because after saying their films are "not cinema" and a "theme park" the legendary director doubled-down.

Speaking on a panel at BFI London Film Festival, Scorsese went even further than before, actually encouraging action to stop the Marvel Studios juggernaut. His words go beyond mere insult, which makes me wonder if he's going to do anything about the situation himself...

“The value of a film that is like a theme park film, for example, the Marvel pictures, where the theaters become amusement parks,” he said. “That’s a different experience. It’s not cinema. It’s something else. Whether you go for it or not, it is something else. We shouldn’t be invaded by it.”

“And so, that’s a big issue. And we need the theater owners to step up for that. To allow theaters to show films that are narrative films. A narrative film can be one long take for three hours, you know? It doesn’t have to be a conventional beginning, middle, and end.”

Does anybody think Scorsese has bought a ticket to a Marvel movie and experienced this "theme park" of which he speaks? Probably not. He sounds really bitter and kinda snobby, maybe because his film The Irishman is only going to be in theaters a couple of weeks before hitting Netflix. The theater experience used to be his to command, but the landscape is different now and people haven't paid for a Scorsese film since The Wolf of Wall Street in 2013. 

Anyway, Scorsese's doing himself no favors. Those who support what he's saying are going to love this, while those who are pissed will continue to be pissed. This probably isn't over as Scorsese has a lot of press left to do for The Irishman and no interviewer is going to let it go.


RDJ Brings A Classic Back to its Roots in the Trailer for 'Dolittle'

I know what you're thinking. I was thinking it too...."oh, come on. ANOTHER take on Dr. Dolittle". See, dear reader, this is why trailers are important. Site unseen I would have no excitement for this movie, what with the first pretty good, but progressively bad stank of Eddie Murphy's take on the character still wafting over the name. Imagine my surprise when the trailer ended and I suddenly had this yearning anticipation to see more.

What changed my mind? Well, the trailer gives us two very important pieces of information. First, that the movie takes place in what appears to be the 1800's, maybe turn of the century which signals that they are taking the source material that made the name legend in the first place, very seriously. Second, a strong reminder that Downey Jr is probably one of the best actors in the business to portray an earnest character that, while intelligent, is just left of normal. I'm sure the comparisons to Downey's Sherlock Holmes will come rolling in and I'm ok with that, he was great in the role. The bonus? From the little bit of footage provided it's already apparent that Dolittle is one with the creatures he can speak to, they're not animals to him. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit moved by the quick scene of him comforting a frightened gorilla.

Dolittle hits theaters in 2020

Box Office: 'Joker' Slays 'em For A Second Week, 'The Addams Family' Tops Disappointing 'Gemini Man'

1. Joker- $55M/$192.7M
Joker slayed 'em in its second weekend, falling only 42% for $55M and easily besting the new releases. The dark supervillain movie, which has Joaquin Phoenix as an early frontrunner for Best Actor, has $192M domestic and a whopping $543M worldwide. At this rate, Joker could end up the top-grossing non-Marvel, non-Disney release of the year, wild when you think about all of the controversy surrounding the R-rated drama.
2. The Addams Family (review)- $30.2M
It was a surprisingly robust $30M launch for the animated The Addams Family movie, which features the voices of Charize Theron, Oscar Isaac, Finn Wolfhard, Chloe Moretz, and more as the still-very-popular ghoulish clan. It does seem that people have been waiting to see this franchise bounce back after the pair of live-action movies in the '90s, and a couple of attempted revivals in other forms. Making this a family-friendly offering, one that appeals to kids who like the animation and parents nostalgic for the familiar brand, was smart considering the lack of all-ages material out there at this time of year. I could see this easily being the start of a long, successful franchise similar to Hotel Transylvania.
3. Gemini Man (review)- $20.5M
Ang Lee may have shot himself in the foot with his ambitious hitman thriller Gemini Man. The decision to shoot the $138M film in 120fps in 4K and 3D seriously cut down on the number of theaters that could play it properly. It may have also scared off those who didn't know what they were in for from a technological standpoint, despite all of the reviews focusing on the digitally-created younger version of Will Smith. It's a solid movie but that's the problem; more is expected from a movie pushing the envelope to such a degree. There's potential for it to really hit overseas, though, where Smith is still a pretty big star and Lee's appeal is steady. Worldwide the film has $59M with some major territories, including China, still to go.
4. Abominable- $6.1M/$47.9M
5. Downton Abbey- $4.9M/$82.6M
6. Hustlers- $3.8M/$98M
7. Judy- $3.25M/$14.9M
8. It: Chapter 2- $3.22M/$207.1M
9. Jexi- $3.1M
Apparently, nobody wants to watch Adam Devine get stalked by his cell phone. The comedy Jexi, which features the voice of Rose Byrne as the new-age smartphone which jealously tries to take over the life of its owner, wasn't screened for most press and was largely overlooked by everybody else.  The film opened with just $3M, a sad end for CBS Films which is being swallowed up inside Viacom/Paramount as it switches focus to CBS All Access streaming content.
10. Ad Astra- $1.9M/$47M

The biggest news of the week goes to Parasite, Bong Joon-ho's critically-acclaimed dark comedy which everyone has been raving about.  The mystery film (seriously, don't let anybody spoil it for you) opened at 3 locations for $376K, an insane $125K per site average. We haven't seen numbers like that since La La Land in 2016, and we know how that turned out. Let's see what happens.

Gal Gadot To Produce And Star As Real-Life WWII Heroine 'Irene Sendler' In Historical Drama

Gal Gadot has really taken this Wonder Woman thing to heart, using her newfound celebrity to tell stories of real-life women whose exploits can best be described as superheroic. Not only does she have a Showtime event series on the way centered on actress and groundbreaking inventor Hedy Lamarr, but now she's turned her attention to a big screen project about Polish activist Irene Sendler, whose exploits during WWII are the stuff of legend.

Gadot will produce and star in Irene Sendler, with the actress playing the woman whose tireless efforts helped rescue 2500 children escape the Warsaw ghetto during the Holocaust. Her activities as part of the Polish Underground made her a target of the Gestapo, who arrested her in 1943 but not before she hid the names of everyone she had rescued. Sendler was due to be executed but was rescued on the day it was to be carried out. Sendler resumed her activities shortly after, and died in 2008 at the age of 98.

Irene Sendler will be penned by Justine Juel Gillmer, who is also writing the upcoming WWII boxing drama Harry Haft starring Ben Foster and directed by Barry Levinson. 

I like what Gadot is doing here, and hope that these noteworthy projects are successful enough that she can continue to develop them long after her run of DC Comics movies are done. [Deadline]

Clive Owen Reunites With Julianne Moore For Stephen King's 'Lisey's Story' Series

The flurry of Stephen King project is largely connected to the explosion of new subscriber streaming services, which are raiding the author's popular works for content. Apple TV+ has gotten into the game with a series adaptation of Lisey's Story, which boasts JJ Abrams as a producer, King as screenwriter on each episode, and Oscar winner Julianne Moore in the lead role. As if that amount of talent wasn't impressive enough, Moore has now been joined by someone she's quite familiar with, her Children of Men co-star Clive Owen.

Owen is the latest to join the cast of Lisey's Story, which centers on the titular wife of a novelist as she comes to grips with his death and the memories she had suppressed about him. A parallel story tells her husband's life as remembered by Lisey.  Owen will play Lisey's husband, Scott. The story is a deeply personal one for King, springing from an event in his own life after being seriously injured in an accident.

This marks a return to series work for Owen, who starred in Steven Soderbergh's The Knick to critical acclaim. He can be seen in theaters now opposite Will Smith in Gemini Man. Owen could use a career reboot, if you ask me, and maybe something like Lisey's Story is the ticket to do that. [Deadline]


Giveaway: Enter To Win Pixar's 'Toy Story 4' On Digital!

We're happy to offer our readers the chance to win Disney-Pixar's Toy Story 4 on Digital!

SYNOPSIS: In “Toy Story 4,” Woody (voice of Tom Hanks) has always been confident about his place in the world, and that his priority is taking care of his kid, whether that’s Andy or Bonnie. So, when Bonnie’s beloved new craft-project-turned-toy Forky (voice of Tony Hale) calls himself “trash,” Woody decides to teach Forky how to embrace being a toy. But a road-trip adventure, including an unexpected reunion with his long-lost friend Bo Peep (voice of Annie Potts), shows Woody how big the world can be for a toy. In addition, carnival prizes Ducky (voice of Keegan-Michael Key) and Bunny (voice of Jordan Peele) bring a new level of fun to the film.

To enter, simply complete the Rafflecopter contest form below. Five winners will be selected and notified by email on Tuesday, October 15th. Good luck!

Toy Story 4 is available now on all platforms!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


DC Readers: Attend A Free Early Screening Of 'Zombieland: Double Tap'

We're happy to offer our DC readers the chance to attend a free early screening of Zombieland: Double Tap. Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, and Abigail Breslin are back, ten years after the original hit zombie comedy told us to "Nut Up or Shut Up."

SYNOPSIS: A decade after ZOMBIELAND became a huge hit and a cult classic, the lead cast and director Ruben Fleischer have returned forZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAP. Everyone's favorite four zombie slayers are back to face off against the many new kinds of zombies that evolved since the first film, as well as some new human survivors. Moreover, they must face the growing pains of their silly, snarky family.

The screening takes place on Tuesday, October 15th at 7:30pm at AMC Mazza Gallerie. If you'd like to attend, simply go to the Sony Pictures screening site here. Please remember all screenings are first come first served and you will need to arrive early to ensure seating. Enjoy the show! 

Zombieland: Double Tap opens October 18th. 

'Charlie's Angels' Trailer: Kristen Stewart Leads A New Sisterhood Of Super Spies

If you're a fan of the previous Charlie's Angels reboot, and I am definitely one (I'm a fan of anything Drew Barrymore), don't go into this new film expecting more of the same. First of all, the trio of Angels is vastly different and led by Kristen Stewart, Ella Balinska, and Naomi Scott. Second, as seen in the newly-released full trailer, these ladies are here to outfight and outwit their foes on a global scale. Plus, there isn't a Tom Green sighting anywhere, thank goodness.

Another thing you might notice is that it's not playing up these women as sexual objects. The focus is on the action, which is directed by Elizabeth Banks. She also takes a co-starring role in the film as a Bosley, joined by Patrick Stewart and Djimon Hounsou. Bosley is still a mentor and guide to the Angels, but now there are multiple Bosleys as the team operates as just one part of a worldwide network.

Also in the cast are Sam Claflin, Noah Centineo, Luis Gerardo Mendez, and Nat Faxon, with Jonathan Tucker as one of the movie's villains. Just as the previous movies were set in the same universe as the 1970s TV series, this one is seen as a continuation so don't be surprised if we get cameos from previous Angels.

SYNOPSIS: Reboot of the 2000 action comedy based on the 1970s television series. A new generation of private detectives working for the mysterious Charlie.

Charlie's Angels hits theaters on November 15th.  Check out the trailer below, followed by soundtrack details from Ariana Grande. Her music features heavily along with tracks by Lana Del Rey, Miley Cyrus, and more.