Review: Zombieland: Double Tap

Starring Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin

Review: The Lighthouse

Starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe

Review: Dolemite Is My Name

Starring Eddie Murphy as Rudy Ray Moore

Review: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Starring Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, and Michelle Pfeiffer

2019 Middleburg Film Festival recap!!

Reviews of The Irishman, Marriage Story, Ford v Ferrari, Knives Out, and more!


'Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker' Poster Teases Final Battle Between Opposing Sides Of The Force

Man...that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker trailer is amazing, isn't it? Tell me you didn't tear up at C3PO's "Taking one last my friends." Of course I didn't, but you might've.

We're going to be flooded with Star Wars stuff over the next couple of months until the movie finally comes out, and that includes new poster. Split between the Light and Dark sides of the Force, the image features most of the principle cast but also new characters such as the mysterious Zorii Bliss played by Keri Russell, and Naomi Ackie as Jannah.

The battle between Rey and Kylo Ren is the main attraction, taking up the bulk of the image. While the clashing color schemes are a sign of the conflict, none of us really know where these two are going to end up when all is said and done. There's as much a chance they end up on the same side, whichever that might be. I think it's notable that Emperor Palpatine is nowhere to be found, too.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens December 20th.


An Astounding Vision of the End in the Final Trailer for 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker'

I consider it the greatest of honors to bring you the final trailer for the final movie of the Skywalker Saga, without a doubt the greatest film series of all time. During half-time of tonight's completely one-sided Monday Night Football (those poor Jets), the final trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has premiered and WOW, it was amazing, everything a fan could want to see. Setting the stage, as it has been since the start of the saga some 42 years ago, is John William's score. The arrangement of his classic theme in this trailer is simply amazing, bringing a gravity to what we're seeing that should merit this 2 minute clip for some kind of award. Don't worry, I'm not going to gush too much over the whole thing but that music...damn. While the trailer doesn't really give much of anything away (what's going to happen to 3P0?!?) it does show us more then enough to be excited. Locations of all types, from jungles to icebergs, I never did love when a SW movie stuck to just one type of setting. There's easter eggs all over the place for the more eagle eyed viewer, the Ghost from Star Wars: Rebels can be seen, and unless I'm crazy (totally possible) we see Rey and Kylo face off, amongst a number of other places, in front of the same window that Vader and Luke's final battle took place.

I have no clue what this film holds, but I know I'm about as excited as I've ever been and can NOT wait for December to come.

'Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker' Promo Features A Ton Of Resistance Ships And One Fan-Favorite

Nobody hates trailer teases more than me, but in the case of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker? I'll fucking allow it. Disney and Lucasfilm have been dropping little promos for tonight's final full trailer, and the latest one hyping the event is pretty damn cool. Not only does it feature a ton of Resistance fighter ships, but look closely and you'll recognize a very familiar ship: the Ghost, from Star Wars Rebels.

Only 15-seconds long, the footage shows an entire fleet of Resistance ships on the move, as well as a few TIE Fighters approaching an icy planet that may be Hoth. But look closely and among the Resistance ships and you'll see one that is almost certainly the Ghost. Presumably that would mean it's being piloted by Hera Syndulla, and who knows which members of the team are still by her side?

Maybe I'm being optimistic because I loved Star Wars Rebels so much?  The Ghost was briefly seen a couple of times in Rogue One, and Hera's name was mentioned, as well. But that great animated series took place about three decades before the events of The Rise of Skywalker, which means anybody could be at the helm at this moment in time. Maybe it's young aspiring Jedi Ezra Bridger? Maybe Hera  and Kanan had a kid who took over as pilot? There's probably a book somewhere that explains it all and I just don't know it.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens December 20th.

Todd Phillips Shoots Down Any Hopes Of A 'Joker' Director's Cut

With chants of 'Release the Snyder Cut' still ringing through social media, we should realize this constant drumbeat from fanboys for more footage has been pounded into them by indulgent filmmakers. Almost every major Hollywood movie now comes with a director's cut, where their supposedly true vision can finally be seen, free from the studio exec who made them remove it. Yeah, whatever. It is, in almost every occasion, just a marketing ploy backed by those same studios, and Joker director Todd Phillips ain't havin' it.

Speaking with Collider, Phillips shot down any notion of a director's cut or even deleted scenes for the 122-minute Joker.

“I hate fucking extended cuts. I hate deleted scenes,” Phillips said. “They’re deleted for a reason. The movie that exists is exactly the movie I want it to be and I will never show a deleted scene.”

“We did cut this fun thing together of all the times of [Joaquin] walking out on Murray Franklin because every time the guy would go, Murray would stand and go, ‘Please welcome Joker,’ and the curtains would open and he comes out and does something different every time,” Phillips added. “You know the thing in the movie, he spins, he kisses the woman. But we cut this thing together of ‘Please welcome Joker,’ and I don’t know, we did it 13 times maybe, and they’re all different and they’re so funny and there’s so many good ones. I was like, ‘Oh, I wonder why I didn’t use that one?’”

Well there ya go! Now you don't even need to see a "Phillips Cut" of Joker because he just told you what would be in it. Not enough? Oh well, too bad.

DC Readers: Attend A Free Early Screening Of 'Jojo Rabbit'

We're happy to offer our DC readers the chance to attend a free early screening of  Jojo Rabbit, the powerful and funny WWII comedy from Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi.

SYNOPSIS: Writer director Taika Waititi (THOR: RAGNAROK, HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE), brings his signature style of humor and pathos to his latest film, JOJO RABBIT, a World War II satire that follows a lonely German boy (Roman Griffin Davis as JoJo) whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi), Jojo must confront his blind nationalism.

The screening takes place on Thursday, October 24th at 7:00pm at Landmark E Street cinema. If you'd like to attend, go to the Fox Searchlight site here. Please remember all screenings are first come first served and you will need to arrive early to ensure seating.  Enoy the show!

Jojo Rabbit opens on October 25th.

'Joker' Eyes All-Time Box Office Record For An R-Rated Film

Who wants a Joker vs. Deadpool showdown? I'd pay for that. I bet we all would. Actually, we kinda already have, because the two wacko comic book characters, who I guess we can both call antiheroes now (?), are squaring off for box office supremacy.

According to THR, Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix's Joker is, shockingly, headed to becoming the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all-time. That's so crazy Arthur Fleck should feel right at home. Its competition at the top of the chart? Deadpool, which took in $783.1M in 2016.

Joker was released less than a month ago and already has $737M worldwide, with projections it could go as high as $900M.  Whether it reaches that incredible height doesn't really matter. The more R-rated superhero movies there are, the more studios will be willing to make them. Deadpool, Logan, Deadpool 2 (which made $785M but part of that was in PG-13), and now Joker have proven they can be done successfully.

Unlike those other films, Joker had the benefit of huge buzz coming out of its Cannes premiere, which has led to an Oscars bump as people see it as an awards contender. It's also undeniable that curiosity over the controversial film played a big part.

'Watchmen' Season Trailer: Damon Lindelof Promises More Shocking Twists And Turns

HBO's Watchmen series kicked off with a bang last night, and by most accounts, Damon Lindelof is unspooling a story steeped with nods to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' classic comic, while firmly establishing a new path forward. But this indeed Lindelof, the guy who has made twists and turns his calling card for years, the first episode's shock conclusion already has viewers wondering what he'll do to top it.

If you were excited for the start of Sister Night's (Regina King) battle against the racist Rorschach wannabes the Seventh Kavalry, a new trailer for the season promises things are only going to be taken to a higher level. The footage promises more of Jean Smart as FBI agent Laurie Blake, one of the characters with a lineage stretching back to the classic Watchmen, as well as Hong Chau as Lady Trieu and Jeremy Irons who appears to be playing another legacy character, Adrian Veidt aka Ozymandias.

Watchmen hits HBO every Sunday night. Check out the trailer below.

Disney Sets Robert Zemeckis As Director Of Their Live-Action 'Pinocchio'

Sorry, folks. Disney's not giving up on the live-action remakes any time soon. Why not? Well, when Aladdin and The Lion King, two films that were largely scorned in reviews, combine for over $2.5B that's all the incentive they need. And the next up on the list is Pinocchio, which looks to have a brand new director who I'm surprised hasn't been snapped up by Disney before.

Robert Zemeckis is in talks to direct Disney's live-action Pinocchio film, which has been struggling to get off the ground for a while. Early this year we learned the previously-attached director, Paddington's Paul King, was dropping out for personal reasons. This set the project back in a big way and we haven't heard much about it since. Variety says Zemeckis has been eyeing the Pinocchio gig since last summer, so maybe that's why things have been quiet. Disney may have been mulling over their next move.

It's easy to see why Disney might be hesitant. Zemeckis' most recent film was the disastrous Welcome to Marwen, preceded by flops such as Allied and The Walk. But before that he found success as an early innovator in the use of performance capture technology, seen in films such as The Polar Express and A Christmas Carol. Disney will be hoping those experiences are what's needed to finally make Pinocchio a reality.

'Bloodshot' Trailer: Vin Diesel Gets Shot In The Face, Keeps On Comin'

Vin Diesel finally gets a major comic book franchise to call his own with Bloodshot, the Valiant Comics hero who is kinda like XXX only with nanite blood and a killer healing factor.  Unlike the Marvel Cinematic Universe in which voices the tree-like Groot, Diesel's face is all over this one and he's been attached from the beginning. It's safe to say this movie wouldn't be happening without him, and if Sony has their way it'll be the first of many to challenge the MCU's dominance.

But this is Bloodshot, a character most people have never heard of so it's going to be on the strength of Diesel's name that it lives or fails. The film is directed by Dave Wilson, a colleague of Deadpool and Terminator: Dark Fate director Tim Miller. The premise recalls old school revenge movies with a superhuman twist, as Diesel plays a Marine who is murdered along with his family, but is reborn as an amnesiac super-soldier who can take an insane amount of punishment. Shoot him in the face, and he'll just bounce back with a brand new grill. Check it out:

I feel like this will be required viewing for Diesel's staunchest supporters; the ones who swear by the Riddick films and await news on the future of XXX. Diesel puts a lot into his movies and here's hoping Bloodshot pays off for him and his fans. I'll definitely be wanting to check this out.

SYNOPSIS: After he and his wife are murdered, Marine Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel) is resurrected by a secret team of scientists. Enhanced with nanotechnology, he becomes a superhuman, biotech killing machine – Bloodshot. As Ray first trains with fellow super-soldiers, he cannot recall anything from his former life. But when his memories flood back and he remembers the man that killed both him and his wife, he breaks out of the facility hellbent on revenge, only to discover that there’s more to the conspiracy than he originally thought.

Also starring Eiza Gonzalez, Sam Heughan, Guy Pearce, and Toby Kebbell, Bloodshot opens February 21st 2020.

Middleburg Review: 'The Irishman', Martin Scorsese's Mob Drama Peers Into The Soul Of A Gangster

In Martin Scorsese's long-awaited gangster epic The Irishman, time flows across decades in the way we expect from the filmmaker who visualizes it better than anybody. Music of the era slips in and out, the scenery changes, the crimes grow bolder and bigger, but the people don't change. Not inside where it counts, anyway. That seems to be one of the conclusions drawn by Scorsese here, as he peers into the soul of prolific mob hitman Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro), who at the tail end of his life is savaged by memories of the many people he's killed and friends betrayed.

That Scorsese is spinning a reflective, soulful gangster narrative is a sign of the director's continued growth, even at this latter stage of his career.  It's usually been the case that Scorsese relishes in the wildly exciting, glamorous, and dangerous criminal lifestyle. There's very little glitz and glam to The Irishman; the similarities to Goodfellas and Casino are purely aesthetic. When we really dive into Sheeran's story, he's just union truck driver delivering frozen meat, doing whatever it takes to put food on the table for his growing family. A chance encounter with Russell Buffalino (Joe Pesci, damn it's good having him back!), head of the Buffalino crime family, would change Frank's life forever. Soon, Frank is doing little jobs for Russell and other members of the mob, such as Angelo Bruno (Harvey Keitel), including murder.

Based on the mostly-debunked book "I Heard You Paint Houses", the film recounts Sheeran's mob activities but also his close relationship with outspoken Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa. Played by Al Pacino, somehow in his first Scorsese film, Hoffa is loud, confrontational, and dangerously egotistical. It's a role Pacino is perfect for and he attacks it with gusto, snatching the film away from De Niro whose performance calls for something a bit more somber. As someone who has always been fascinated by Hoffa, that The Irishman nearly becomes a movie about the doomed union leader was a welcome surprise. It's still Sheeran's story, though, as he finds himself trapped between Hoffa and Buffalino who have become more than friends, but surrogate fathers. When Hoffa runs afoul of the Mafia who have backed his efforts for years, it puts Sheeran in a position where he must choose where his loyalties are.

You might think a movie about a mob assassin would be thick with violence but Scorsese uses it sparingly and only to make a point or to make a joke. Sheeran talks about pulling a hit, and making sure you go to the bathroom first so you're not uncomfortable while pulling the trigger. In another, he talks about the favorite seaside spot for dumping weapons, with Scorsese's camera panning down to reveal an underwater stockpile big enough to arm a small country. Moments like this help keep The Irishman entertaining for much of its epic 3 1/2-hour runtime, but not totally. Large chunks of the film, most of it centered around Teamsters business (when they start talking about Frank Fitzsimmons, commence zoning out) are slow and indulgent to a fault. Netflix has allowed Scorsese that level of freedom and it's a benefit to streamers they'll be able to hit pause, step away, and come back to it. Almost as if he's playing to exactly this idea, Scorsese frames The Irishman around a road trip in which Buffalino and Sheeran's wives are repeatedly making them stop for cigarette breaks.

A lot has been made of the de-aging technology Scorsese is employing for the first time. Expensive, complicated, and largely responsible for the film's extended post-production, it's not something you really pay attention to beyond the initial glimpses. The young-ish De Niro (he's never actually young, just younger) isn't a distraction and fits seamlessly, a credit to the director as he takes on a technological challenge few have conquered with the same success. The Irishman is Scorsese's best crime film in years, and feels like a product of a different era. That it arrives thanks to the pioneering efforts of Netflix should be an indictment of major studios who have apparently soured on the director of late. But given the recent outrage over Scorsese's recent comments, with many calling him old and out-of-touch, The Irishman is proof he's as vital and in touch than ever.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5