Review: The Incredibles 2

Pixar's Long-Awaited Sequel Is Both Timely And Timeless

Review: Hearts Beat Loud

Starring Nick Offerman and Kiersey Clemons

Review: Hereditary

Starring Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Gabriel Byrne, and Milly Shapiro

Review: Hotel Artemis

Starring Jodie Foster, Dave Bautista, Sterling K. Brown, and more

Review: Ocean's 8

Starring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, and Anne Hathaway

6/18/2018

'Dear White People' Director Justin Simien Updates On Horror Film 'Bad Hair'


Hard to believe it's been four years since Justin Simien burst on the scene with his incendiary race comedy, Dear White People. The film arrived just on the edge of the whole "woke" movement and talked about racism in a way that was funny, pointed, and controversial. He's been busy the last couple of years with a TV series version of the film on Netflix, but in 2017 he did announce his next film would be the horror Bad Hair. Now Simien is out there talking up his sophomore effort as a feature film director.

“This is my way of writing a love letter about all of the B.S. that black women have to go through,” Simien told ET recently, adding that he was raised by black women in Texas after his father died.  “So, I named all the women in this story after my mom and my aunts.”

Inspired by the South Korean horror film The Wig, Simien says he rooted the idea in black culture in order to make it speak for American audiences. He tells IndieWire...

“[‘Bad Hair’] follows a girl from Compton who doesn’t have the right look. She doesn’t have the right hair, she doesn’t have the right face, she doesn’t have the right skin color. She wants to be a VJ in the late ’80s, early ’90s and she makes a bit of a Faustian bargain with this woman who takes over the network where she’s at and she ends up with this hair, this weave in her head, that may or may not have a mind of its own.”

“It’s my way of taking my frustration of what I feel like black woman are going through, who we rely on for so much – politically, culturally, just in terms of the family dynamic – and we put them through hell.We make them suffer quiet little deaths just to be seen in our culture and I wanted to translate that, in my own way, into a very weird horror-satire love letter to that experience.”

Simien has been writing the script while working on Dear White People's second season, and now it's ready enough that production can begin this summer. Hair is a touchy subject in black culture, especially among women, and I want to see if Simien can approach this with the intelligence of his prior work. I wonder if he'll check out Chris Rock's documentary Good Hair for insight? Judging by the title my guess is that he already has.

6/17/2018

Box Office: 'The Incredibles 2' Scores Record-Breaking $180M Debut


1. The Incredibles 2 (review)- $180M
Superhero fatigue? What superhero fatigue? Clearly that doesn't mean a thing to Pixar whose long-awaited The Incredibles 2 powered its way to $180M. That's the largest opening ever for an animated film and the eighth biggest of all-time. The appeal is obvious, right? Pixar made us wait fourteen years (!!!) for a sequel to one of their most popular movies, and it just so happens to be arriving at the height of superhero movie dominance. Plus these are just great family-friendly movies that appeal to kids and adults, with a brand that nearly everyone recognizes. Finally, it also earned $51M overseas for a whopping $231M opening weekend.
2. Ocean's 8- $19.5M/$79.1M
Ocean's 8 dropped a heavy 53% in its second weekend for $19.5M and a $79M haul. It's not bad for the $70M star-studded heist movie, which also has $37M overseas for $116M overall. In the end it could end up right in the same ballpark as 2016's Ghostbusters, but at half the cost. Budget is the only thing that matters, folks.
3. Tag (review)- $14.6M
I had hoped for a larger opening for the legit hilarious Tag, but $14.6M isn't bad. That's not too far off from what the similarly adult-skewing comedy Game Night did a few months ago, and that went on to do $68M stateside. I'm not sure Tag will reach those heights, though, especially with much stronger competition from Ocean's 8, The Incredibles 2, and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom taking away from its direct audience.
4. Solo: A Star Wars Story- $9M/$192.8M
5. Deadpool 2- $8.8M/$294.6M
6. Hereditary- $7M/$27.1M
Armed with some of the best reviews of the year, A24's horror Hereditary dropped 48% for another $7M and $27M overall. That's pretty good for the low budget thriller that some think could be a player this awards season, especially for star Toni Collette.
7. Superfly- $6.3M
Sony's Superfly, a modern update on the classic blaxploitation film from the 1970s, opened better than I would've thought with $6.3M. I expected far worse considering the utter lack of star power (Michael K. Williams and Jason Mitchell the two biggest names), Director X behind the camera (real name Julien Christian Lutz), and an utter lack of marketing muscle, but the reviews weren't terrible and that obviously gave some the encouragement to check it out. At only $16M in budget this could creep its way to breaking even, or to being a low-cost failure.
8. Avengers: Infinity War- $5.2M/$664.1M
At $664M Avengers: Infinity War has moved into fourth on the domestic all-time list, surpassing the $659M of James Cameron's Titanic.
9. Adrift- $2.1M/$26.8M
10. Book Club- $1.8M/$62M

Let's check in on Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which is in its second week of international release and already has a remarkable $370M. By the time it opens stateside the dino-sequel will be well beyond $400M already.

The critically panned and long delayed mob biopic Gotti was dumped into 500 theaters and earned just $1.5M.  You might recall this one had a ton of buzz behind it a few years ago when John Travolta first come aboard to play the infamous mobster John Gotti. The years weren't good to it, though, as the high-profile cast (which included Joe Pesci at one point!) left, and they were stuck with Kevin Connolly (yes, the Entourage actor!) as director. Lionsgate decided against a wide release so it was then picked up by Vertical Entertainment and MoviePass, so this dud is on them.

Terry Gilliam Loses Court Battle And Rights To 'The Man Who Killed Don Quixote'


It was only a few weeks ago that Terry Gilliam was able to unveil his decades-long passion project, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, to an eager audience at Cannes. The run-up to the reveal was fraught with legal battles, though, and while seeing the film on a big screen was indeed a triumph for the director, he was just dealt a significant defeat. The Paris Court of Appeals has now ruled that Gilliam no longer has the rights to the film, putting any further release in serious jeopardy.

So how does something like this happen? We mentioned before that it was all about this feud between Gilliam and producer Paulo Branco, who was approached for financing and in return would retain rights to the movie. Gilliam claims Branco didn't live up to his end of bargain. The court disagrees, and now the rights to the movie are in Branco's control. It has already been released in France and distribution was being sought for the U.S. and other territories. What Branco decides to do about that is unclear, but he's vowed to seek damages in relation to the prior release. He tells ScreenDaily...

“The ruling means that the rights to the film belong to Alfama. Any exploitation of the film up until now has been completely illegal and without the authorization of Alfama. We will be seeking damages with interest from all the people involved in this illegal production and above all, all those who were complicit in its illegal exploitation. We’re holding everyone responsible.”

So what's next? I have to think Branco will seek to secure distribution deals on his own because that's the only way to recoup on the investment. It wouldn't make sense for him to just sit on the film and not do anything with it. It would even be in his best interests to try and negotiate something with Gilliam and the cast to do promotion for it, because that can only help business. Without them the movie is essentially useless, and I doubt they will want to do press for it on their own.

‘Marvel’s Luke Cage’ Season 2 Review: Luke’s Back For An Even Better Second Season




When Charles “Luke Cage” Lucas was introduced in the first season of Jessica Jones, fans got their beaks wet for a taste of the super-strong, bullet-proof hero who Harlem has since claimed.  While it wasn’t his show, he made quite an impact.  It was a no-brainer for Netflix to commission a solo series surrounding the iconic character.  When the first season of Luke Cage dropped it literally broke Netflix (and the Internet if you want to be honest about it), causing their ever-redundant servers to crash, an Internet first.  The first season was unlike anything Marvel (or TV itself) has ever done: a black hero who as Roy Wood Jr. would say was “peak blackness.”  Every episode was titled after classic hip-hop group Gang Starr song, which fit the tone of the series.  Centered in Harlem, for the first time probably since The Wire, a show was made, written, produced, starring, and focusing completely by and for black folks.  It was woke as hell, and a breath of fresh air for the current TV landscape.

While the second half of the season didn’t close as strong as the first one (probably due to the fact that one of Marvel’s best villains, Cottonmouth, was killed halfway through), it was still a strong and worthy effort.  Fans were excited to see more of Luke Cage.  The crossover series The Defenders, brought all of the “street” characters from Marvel’s Netflix shows together, but it was too short, which is ironic because the biggest complaint is that the Marvel Netflix shows are an episode or two too long.  Needless to say, fans want to see more of Luke Cage, so we got a second season.  And boy was it good!!!


After saving New York City from The Hand in The Defenders, Luke has returned back to Harlem to continue to protect his beloved neighborhood.  He’s matured since first coming to the city and going to war against Cottonmouth the first season, but that doesn’t mean that Harlem doesn’t need its hero to help keep the city safe.  Luke is the hometown hero, and he finds that it’s kind of hard to maintain a low profile when people are literally making smartphone apps to locate where he is and call on his help at any given moment.  He’s learning to shoulder the responsibility of being a larger than life character and still remain somewhat humble and grounded.  His love Claire Temple (the Nick Fury of the Netflix shows) and he don’t get to spend much time together.  Every time he’s about to get some “coffee” (or right afterward), he has to go out and be a hero, which causes some strain on their relationship.  Also, dealing with the seedy side of the world is also hardening him, and he’s bringing some of that darkness back home like a cop would after a hard day of work.  In addition to taking care of regular criminals, there’s one in particular that he still has his eye out for: Mariah Dillard.  She managed to remain the ever-cunning politician-turned-criminal-mastermind that she was when the first season ended, and she’s getting good at it.  Partnering with her (slightly younger and they make sure you know that) lover/partner Hernan "Shades" Alvarez, they are slowly taking over Harlem under the radar.


To top it off, there’s a new player coming to Harlem in the form of Jamaican criminal Bushmaster coming in town to claim Harlem as his own.  Not only does he have the criminal infrastructure to give both Black Mariah and Luke Cage a headache, he also has the ability to defeat Luke in a flight single-handedly.  While not entirely bullet-proof like Luke, Bushmaster has the ability to withstand gunfire and super strength, thanks to something called “nightshade,” a proprietary blend of different herbs from his native homeland than grants him superhuman abilities, and he lets Luke know if stellar fashion that he’s not afraid of him and claims “Harlem’s mine!”  Bushmaster and his family have a history with Mariah and her family connecting Harlem to Jamaica between their two families and helps showcase the sometimes disconnect and sometimes animosity between African Americans and West Indians in the form of these two families going to war with each other.  As a result, Luke has a dilemma, does he side with Mariah the monster he knows, Bushmaster, a greater monster, or let them battle each other even though it’s tearing Harlem apart in the process.  As Marvel does for the Netflix shows, they layer their villains, and give us such a complicated and tragic backstory for Bushmaster, that he at times is a sympathetic character, but he proves time and time again not to root for him.

Of course, Mike Colter returns as Luke Cage and can now do this role in his sleep.  While the first season Luke had a strong moral compass, this season he goes into somewhat grayer territory as he sees that not everything is completely black and white.  As stated, he and Claire have a few issues related to his vigilantism, and Colter is able to bring out a dark side of Luke that we didn’t see before.  He reminds you that although he’s a noble person, he could easily be a force to reckon with if he decides to let the devil on his shoulder win the argument.  In fact, towards the end of the season, Luke’s character makes a C-change that makes you wonder if Luke might end up truly on the wrong side of the law eventually.


In addition to Luke, Misty Knight is back as well.  Having lost her arm in The Defenders, she has to rehab herself not only physically but she also has to do so mentally.  She’s having problems with her compatriots on The Force and her rebel nature puts her at odds with her peers, making her wonder if police work is the best use of her skills, or should she go rogue and go the Luke Cage route to help keep Harlem save.  Misty gets a visit from Colleen Wing, which makes for an awesome barroom brawl with a couple of drunk idiots and we get a taste of what a “Daughters of the Dragon” spinoff could look like.  Lucky for her, she happens to be friendly with a certain billionaire CEO who can help her with her arm situation.  Thanks to Danny Rand, Misty gets equipped with a new robotic arm much like the one she has in the comics, which gives her superhuman abilities as well, so facing off against bad guys isn’t going to be too much of a problem and she puts it to good use.  Actress Simone Missick brings her A-game this season and reminds you once again why you fell in love with her last season.


Luke Cage season 2 also gives us the rehabilitation of Danny Rand.  Iron Fist is easily the weakest of the Marvel Netflix shows as it was just not competently put together.  We don’t need to rehash was Iron Fist got wrong in regards to the terrible fight choreography or Finn Jones’ wooden acting, or the fact that we didn’t get to see a freakin’ dragon in it.  It’s safe to say that the blame for a sub-par Danny Rand can be placed on the season one Iron Fist showrunner (who also ran Marvel’s Inhumans into the ground), who has since then been replaced for Iron Fist season 2.  However, Danny Rand returns and is a vast improvement from his solo series and even his Defenders role.  As the walls are closing in on Luke midway through the season, Danny makes an appearance to give Luke some counseling.  Danny’s more mature, he actually knows how to fight, and the chemistry between he an Luke is straight from the comics.  This is definitely a prelude to the “Heroes For Hire” as the two of them team up to take down one of Bushmaster’s warehouses, and the two work as a well-organized and cohesive unit.  While his stay this season is short, it is sweet.  If Iron Fist season two builds Danny off of what was done from Luke Cage, the show could have potential to be on the same level as the other Netflix Marvel shows.


Of course, Alfre Woodard in the MVP.  It was hard to compete with Cottonmouth last season for Black Mariah.  However, this season, she’s the Cottonmouth.  While Wilson Fisk is still the fan-favorite villain, she comes incredibly close to being the most complex, ruthless villain of the Marvel Netflix shows.  She continues to toe the line between someone who wants to be a semi-corrupt politician who in fact, believes she’s a good force for Harlem, to an all-out evil gangster.  As she goes through her war with Bushmaster, she hardens herself and halfway through the season steps over the line that she can never come back from.  We learn more of her backstory as well, which helps you understand her rage when she killed her cousin last season which began her journey to the dark side.  Her boyfriend Shades continues to be the smooth operator we saw last season as actor Theo Rossi barely breaks a sweat even as he is leaving a trail of bodies in their wake himself.  We find a little bit about his which makes you see his character in a different light as well as one of his prison buddies comes home and creates a wedge between him and Mariah.

All the supporting characters return and excel in helping Luke as he goes through his trials and tribulations this season.  Ron Cephas Jones returns as Bobby Fish who helps manage Pops barbershop with Luke after Pops dies last season.  He proceeds to replace Pops as Luke’s mentor this season.  The local DVD bootlegger kid plays a bigger role as he increases his hustle to shoot video of Luke and his Luke Cage app as well as sell Luke Cage t-shirts.  For such a small role the first season, he gets the chance this season to really make his presence known.  The late Reg E. Cathey (in his final acting appearance) who dies shortly after filming stars as Luke’s father James Lucas, his religious father who he has an estranged relationship with thanks to the events revealed last season delivers one hell of a swan song performance as he brings his A-game despite having been battling cancer while filming.  Even Sugar (Cottonmouth’s bodyguard from season one) returns and becomes Luke’s unofficial CI for all things criminal as he has a change of heart following his previous dealings with Luke.  Other Netflix Marvel characters like Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) and Benjamin Donovan (Danny Johnson) also make cameos to remind you about their respective shows connected to this universe.  One of the new standouts is Tilda Johnson (played by Gabrielle Dennis).  A little bit of a departure from her “Nightshade” character from the comics.  She has a special connection to both Black Mariah as well as to Bushmaster and continues to jump from camp to camp during their war.  She will most certainly be a player for a third season.


It wouldn’t be Luke Cage without the music played at Harlem’s Paradise.  Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad return as composers and once again capture an updated blaxploitation sound for the show.  As with season one, each episode is titled after a hip-hop song.  This season, each episode is titled after a song by legendary hip-hop group Pete Rock & CL Smooth.  The music is as much a character on the show as the people in Harlem.  This season, because the show deals with Bushmaster and his West Indian group, the music has branches to include more than hip-hop and R&B to include various other black music styles.  Such artists who perform include: Rakim, KRS-One, Ghostface Killah, Faith Evans, Jadakiss, Stephen Marley, Gary Clark Jr., Esperanza Spalding, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, Joi, and DJ D-Nice.

Was it perfect?  Of course not.  There is a part this season where Luke tries out for the NFL which seems to be a semi-cheesy way to have a bunch of sports personalities cameo as themselves including Jemele Hill and Stephen A Smith that wasn’t 100% necessary.  However, this season marks the first time that the second season of a Netflix show is better than the first.  This season, the show sticks to the landing and finishes strong and in a place where you absolutely want a third season to see where the evolution of the character will continue to go.  Both of the main villains (Bushmaster and Black Mariah) shine and don’t outdo each other, reminding you that Marvel TV still is on top of Marvel movies when it comes to the villain department (even though the Marvel movies are catching up).  Once again Cheo Hodari Coker knocks it out of the part in not only giving us “peak blackness” but outstanding television.

Rating: 4.5/5

Debut Trailer For Jordana Spiro's Sundance Award-Winner 'Night Comes On'


You may not know the name Jordana Spiro, but there's a good chance you've seen some of her work as an actress. My first encounter with her was during the TBS sitcom My Boys, and since then she has kept busy on Ozark, The Mob Doctor, Blindspot, and more. At Sundance she entered a different phase of her career as director of the drama Night Comes On, which earned her the Next Innovator Award a ton of praise, and now the trailer's first release.

Starring Dominique Fishback, who you may know from HBO's The Deuce, alongside Tatum Marilyn Hall, the story follows two sisters, one newly released from juvenile detention, as they seek revenge for their mother's death. Spiro not only directed but co-wrote the script with Angelica Nwandu, founder of celebrity site The Shade Room.

Night Comes On hits select cities and VOD on August 3rd.

6/16/2018

Here's When The 'Aquaman' Trailer Will Debut, Plus New Photo Reveals Underwater War


With Marvel sitting out Comic-Con next month, it's given Warner Bros. the chance to really hit a home run with the influential Hall H crowd. I would argue that the presentations by DC Entertainment have been better than Marvel's anyway, because they have a desperate need to impress while their rival is pretty comfortable. So we're naturally expecting to see a lot from the DCEU, and director James Wan has now confirmed Comic-Con is where the first trailer for Aquaman will finally debut.


I would expect to see Wan, Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Patrick Wilson, and others in the cast to be there. Fingers crossed for both Willem Dafoe and Nicole Kidman!

Aquaman will probably be the biggest reveal of the weekend, but don't be surprised if we get some early footage from Wonder Woman 1984 and Shazam!

Aquaman opens December 21st. Check out a brand new image below, as well, which features an underwater war with Atlanteans riding sea animals into battle. Pretty cool.  San Diego Comic-Con runs from July 19th-22nd.


Gal Gadot Is Suited Up For Action In New Look At 'Wonder Woman 1984'


Only a few days ago we got the first look at Wonder Woman 1984 with images of Chris Pine and Gal Gadot. Now Gadot has released a new photo that gives us another look at her in the sequel, only this time she's suited up for action.

For those eyeballing the costume to see if there are any major changes, it doesn't appear that there have been any. I'm more interested in the golden, shimmery location Wonder Woman seems to be at. Back on Thymiscira, maybe? I wonder if the 1980s have found their way to Paradise Island?

Hopefully a shot of Kristen Wiig as Cheetah is up next. The images seem to be dropping pretty regularly at this point.

Wonder Woman 1984 opens November 1st 2019.


6/15/2018

Here's How The 'Avengers: Infinity War' Writers Would Fix The DCEU


Even if you love the DCEU (Does that apply to anybody?) and what Warner Bros. has done with its DC Comics characters, you have to admit they are miles behind Marvel Studios. It's a total reclamation project at this point after the disastrous, franchise-low box office of Justice League, and steps are clearly being taken to fix things. That said, it's going to take time, and Warner Bros. should be open to some advice...especially from the writers behind Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War.

Infinity War and Avengers 4 Writers Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus appeared on Kevin Smith's podcast and were asked what they would do to fix the DCEU. Markus chimed in and mostly his response is what you'd expect, but he does make one very valid point that I don't think has been talked about all that much...

“I would look at what Marvel did, out of necessity, in that they didn’t have their A-list characters, they didn’t have Spider-Man, they didn’t have the X-Men, and they went down the line and found, I mean he’s pretty fucking famous as Iron Man, but he’s, you know, he wasn’t there, and they made a really good movie out of it. I might put Batman and Superman and everybody else, I mean, Wonder Woman is doing fine, aside for a second and go through the vast world and go ‘that guy, or that girl’ and go, ‘let’s just make a really good movie and not a universe and see what happens.’ You know, there’s a lot of spaghetti being thrown at the wall.

He's got a really good point about Marvel not having its biggest guns. There was no X-Men, no Spider-Man...they were stuck to kick things off with Iron Man who at the time was a B-league Marvel character.  Obviously the rest is movie history, and it leaves you to wonder how Warner Bros. could possibly screw up characters like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.

Maybe Warner Bros. should consider throwing some money McFeely and Markus' way? Just sayin'.

DC Readers: Win Passes To A Free Screening Of 'The First Purge'


We're happy to offer our DC readers the chance to attend a free early screening of Blumhouse's The First Purge. It is the fourth film in the franchise that began with 2013's The Purge.

SYNOPSIS: Behind every tradition lies a revolution.  Next Independence Day, witness the rise of our country’s 12 hours of annual lawlessness.  Welcome to the movement that began as a simple experiment: The First Purge.

To push the crime rate below one percent for the rest of the year, the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) test a sociological theory that vents aggression for one night in one isolated community.  But when the violence of oppressors meets the rage of the marginalized, the contagion will explode from the trial-city borders and spread across the nation.

The screening takes place on Monday, July 2nd at 7:30pm at AMC Mazza Gallerie. If you'd like to attend, simply complete the required steps in the contest form below. Winners will be selected on Friday, June 22nd and notified by email. Good luck!

The First Purge opens July 4th.



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'Lemon' Director Janicza Bravo To Helm James Franco's Stripper Film 'Zola'


I wasn't a huge fan of Janicza Bravo's feature debut, the bizarre indie comedy Lemon, but I recognized her as a director with a very unique visual style. Brett Gelman has never been more interesting to watch, I'll just say that. It appears Hollywood has noticed Bravo, too, because Collider reports she will take the helm for A24 and James Franco's upcoming stripper film, Zola.

Based on David Kushner's Rolling Stone article “Zola Tells All: The Real Story Behind the Greatest Stripper Saga Ever Tweeted”and adapted by Goat duo Andrew Neel and Mike Roberts, the true story is described as following follows a young exotic dancer who gets more than she bargained for when she agrees to go on a road trip to Florida with a prostitute, her bipolar boyfriend, and a moody pimp.

Franco had originally been set to direct the film but he'll slide instead into a producer role. It's suggested that recent allegations against Franco may have had something to do with the move but nothing is confirmed. It's also unclear if Franco will take a role himself as he usually does.