Review: Mary Magdalene

Starring Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix

Review: Missing Link

Featuring the voices of Hugh Jackman, Zach Galifianakis, and Zoe Saldana

Review: High Life

Starring Robert Pattinson, Directed by Claire Denis

Review: Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy

Starring Max Zhang, Michelle Yeoh, and Dave Bautista

Review: Hellboy

Starring David Harbour, Ian McShane, and Milla Jojovich

4/19/2019

Clint Eastwood Looking To Revive 'The Ballad Of Richard Jewell' At Disney/Fox


Wow, here's one that's been in development limbo for a long time. The Ballad of Richard Jewell is a film that began with a ton of promise. It had a script by The Hunger Games and Captain Phillips writer Billy Ray, and would've starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill shortly after they made such an epic pair in The Wolf of Wall Street. Even with all of that talent, and a great story about the Olympics security guard who became one of the country's most hated men in 1996, Fox couldn't get it off the ground.

Well, now Fox is under Disney's control and the film is looking to be revived, this time with Clint Eastwood at the helm. The legendary actor and director is in talks with Disney to direct The Ballad of Richard Jewell, and if he lands the gig he'll start from scratch with a new cast. The story charts the real-life turmoil of Richard Jewell, a security guard at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta whose act of heroism was quickly turned against him by a faulty news story. Jewell discovered a mysterious backpack and reported it to authorities, he then evacuated people in the area and possibly saved many lives. However, when the false story broke that he was under investigation he became a target. While exonerated, Jewell was remembered for the accusations up until his death in 2007.

Eastwood recently bounced back from a horrendous response to The 15:17 to Paris with last year's surprise hit, The Mule. Putting his name on any project can still be quite a draw, and assuming Disney doesn't give this Fox property the boot the way they've been doing lately, this should also attract a lot of attention. [Deadline]

'When They See Us' Trailer: Ava DuVernay's Central Park Five Series Looks Like A Powerhouse


It's amazing that in 2019 we have someone in the White House who continued to assert the Central Park Five are guilty, despite DNA evidence proving their innocence. That fact undoubtedly galls director Ava DuVernay, who gets her chance to stick it to the prez with her upcoming Netflix event series, When They See Us, which seeks to humanize the men who are sometimes forgotten beneath the infamous monicker they were saddled with by the press.

When They See Us tells the story of the five Harlem teens- Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise, who were wrongly accused of the rape of a white jogger in 1989 and spent years in prison, railroaded by an unfair justice system. DuVernay will attempt to chart all 25 years of their journey, ending in 2014 with a settlement from the city of New York.

The cast DuVernay has put together is incredible and includes Michael K. Williams, Vera Farmiga, John Leguizamo, Felicity Huffman, Niecy Nash, Blair Underwood, Christopher Jackson, Joshua Jackson, Jharrel Jerome, Jovan Adepo, Asante Blackk, Chris Chalk, Justin Cunningham, Ethan Herisse, Caleel Harris, Freddy Miyares, and Marquis Rodriguez.  When They See Us hits Netflix on May 31st.

Review: 'Family', Taylor Schilling Balances Family, Work And Juggalos


In a world full of films about white family dysfunction and self-hate, who knew that the Juggalo sub-culture would be a moving and accurate metaphor for family dysfunction? For those who are blissfully unaware of such a thing, Juggalos are fans of the band Insane Clown Posse and have a reputation for being violent, borderline bizarre deviants running around in clown makeup, teetering on the edge of society. In the film Familyit’s the perfect vehicle to talk about outcasts, being the black sheep of a family, and the masks we wear at home and work. 

Disguised in the familiar trope of an unfeeling business woman forced to care for her niece for a week, director Laura Steinel's Family tells the story of Kate who is forced to go to insane lengths to keep her extended family under control while balancing a career where she has all but alienated everyone around her. Starring Orange is the New Black’s Taylor Schilling as Kate, with a strong supporting performance from Atlanta’s Brian Tyree Henry and surprising great performances from child actors Bryn Vale and Fabrizio Guido, the film thrives off of these unlikable characters. The comedy comes from Schilling's brash and brutal delivery, Henry’s earnest deadpan, and Vale’s bizarre naïveté. Comedian Kate McKinnon pops up brilliantly as that overprotective mom everyone knows and the always great character actor Allison Tolman plays a mom pushed to her limit with worry with nuance.  

Where the film excels in comedic timing and strong performances, its main beats overly predictable, even with the whole Juggalo thing. We’ve seen the “businesswoman forced to care for a teenager, they bond, grow attached, the businesswoman then values family over work” before. Two things make this film work, the first is breezy 80-minute runtime. Any more time and these characters would be grating. The second is the performances with Schilling’s Kate and Vale’s Maddie at the center of it. 

It is refreshing to see a female character played both sympathetic and unbearable at the same time. She can take an important account away from a pregnant lady and then be brutally ejected from an office baby shower in the same breath. Schilling has mastered this duality perfectly with every look and rare calculated smile. Kate has lost part of her humanity going after her career, gaining power and bluntness along with her corner office and assistant. Where another film would stray into anti-feminism territory, this one latches on to a weird, yet relatable niece, obsessed with magic, karate, fighting with trees, and eventually, Juggalos. This is a smart move. Instead of making Kate’s cute three-year-old with a lisp who shows her how hard but rewarding it is to be a part of a kid’s life, a la Raising Helen or any Hallmark movie, you have an awkward slightly overweight teenager who only likes chicken parm and finds spit endearing. She’s weird, and like Kate, unlikable and relatable at the same time. 

Though predictable, Family proves that as long as the road is twisting and dark, it doesn’t matter that the ending is played out. It benefits from its experienced cast and its dive into the hilariously unappealing. And hey, any movie that can redeem Juggalos, even for a second, deserves to be given a chance.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Only Actor To Read 'Avengers: Endgame' Script Says Last 8 Minutes May Be Marvel's Best


Avengers: Endgame is the culmination of what has been a decade-long story carefully plotted (with a few hiccups) by Marvel across 22 movies. When it ends the MCU as we know it will be vastly different, and there may be no more closely guarded secret than the movie's big finale. In fact, the film is so secret that only one actor has read the screenplay in full. Just so happens to be the highest-paid dude on set: Robert Downey Jr. Maybe it's in his contract?

According to directors Joe and Anthony Russo, Downey is  "probably the only one to actually read the entire script." If you've seen Tom Holland and Mark Ruffalo try to keep a secret during interviews you'll understand why...

"Part of our motivation to do that is it just takes a lot of pressure off of people. It is hard to constantly censor yourself about what you’re saying, how you talk. These movies are your whole life, it’s everything you’re doing all day long. The inclination is to talk about it. So we take a lot of pressure off of people by just saying, OK, the less you know the less you have to mind yourself."

So far it's worked out extremely well because we don't know shit. As evidence of how well Downey could be trusted, he revealed to The Upcoming a whole lot of nothing, but did say the final 8 minutes are incredible...

"The last eight minutes of [Avengers: Endgame] are maybe the best eight minutes in the entire history of the whole run of them, in a way, because everyone’s involved."

They're also expected to be Tony Stark's final 8 minutes in the MCU. I wonder if he just confirmed Stark lives up to the very end? Hmmmm...

Avengers: Endgame opens April 26th. 

Review: ‘The Curse Of La Llorona,’ A Wasted Opportunity To Strengthen The Conjuring Universe


This week we get treated to the sixth installment in the Conjuring universe with The Curse of La Llorona. Yes, this may come as a shock to many of you, but The Curse of La Llorona is (LOOSELY) connected to the other Conjuring films. The film is based off the urban legend of La Llorona, a woman who was driven mad by her husband’s infidelity and drowned her two sons in a river during a fit of insanity. Realizing what she had done, she kills herself and her soul roams the Earth trying to find two children to replace the ones she had lost. In this telling of the tale, we see Anna Tate-Garcia (Linda Cardellini) as a widower whose husband was a police officer that was killed in the line of duty. Anna is a mother of two and is trying to balance the grief from her husband’s death with being a single parent and a social worker.

Anna goes to visit a family she has done casework for over the years and finds Patricia (Patricia Velasquez) unsettled and fearful for her children’s lives. Ignoring Patricia’s warnings of La Llorona, Anna opens a locked closet with symbols drawn all over the doors and finds the children huddled inside. The children are scared and muttering something about a woman coming for them, who Anna and the police assume is Patricia. When the two children end up drowned in a river, with Patricia having a rock-solid alibi, it becomes clear that there is another evil at play. Anna’s two kids, Chris (Roman Christou) and Samantha (Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen) begin to hear a woman sobbing and then see visions of an evil looking woman in a white dress coming for them. This monster grabs both of their arms and leaves burns, marking them as hers. With nowhere else to turn, Anna goes to the church and sees Father Perez (Tony Amendola) who connects her with Rafael Olvera (Raymond Cruz), a former priest who has left the church and battles evil in his own way. Rafael may be the only hope that Anna and her children have against La Llorona, whose desire to take Anna’s kids from her only intensifies as the movie trudges forward.


The Curse of La Llorona is just another run of the mill horror movie. The one thing that sets it apart is some cool cinematography and camera angles from director Michael Chaves. That aside, it is essentially just 90ish minutes of jump scares. Water plays a prominent role throughout the film – La Llorona drowning her children and herself in a river, the pronounced drip of water when she approaches, and many scenes that take place while it’s raining, in a pool, or during bath time. Water has been used symbolically throughout literature and film, and The Curse of La Llorona is another example of this. While water may be essential for life, the water that La Llorona occupies and surrounds herself with is a reminder of death. The film seems like an afterthought, something that a studio just wanted to throw out there and tell everyone was connected to the Conjuring universe to make some quick dough. Other than a small role by Father Perez and a flashback showing Annabelle, this film has no solid ties to the rest of the Conjuring universe. After four strong films to build the universe, the last two - The Nun and Curse of La Llorona - have fallen well short of expectations. Hopefully this summer’s Annabelle Comes Home rights the ship. La Llorona is an actual urban legend that children are told to keep them behaving well, the story is chilling and had a lot of potential as a Hollywood Horror, unfortunately The Curse of La Llorona didn’t live up to its source material and is an easily forgettable “chapter” in the Conjuring Universe.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Review: 'Teen Spirit', Elle Fanning Shines As An Aspiring Pop Star


The last few months have seen an abundance of overnight pop star movies. Teen Spirit could easily be folded into the mix and dismissed as just another frothy movie about a teenager with a dream. And yet, first-time director Max Minghella delivers a film that is deeper than it appears.

Elle Fanning is Violet, a Polish immigrant who lives with her mother in a town somewhere outside of London. Violet is isolated and lonely, but dreams of stardom. One night, in the middle of an intense situation, Violet meets Vlad (Zlatko Buric) and eventually convinces him to act as her guardian so that she can attend an audition for the competition show, Teen Spirit.

Fanning gives a performance that is simply lovely. She is a girl who has little in common with her classmates or with her fellow competitors. She is an outsider, partly because her status as an immigrant makes her a literal outsider, and partly because she just doesn't know how to connect with others. Her relationship with her mother (Agnieszka Grochowska) is the kind of tumultuous relationship that many mothers and teenage daughters experience. Theirs, however, is magnified by financial strain and an absent father. Fanning navigates a range of emotions, always managing to keep her innermost feelings to herself. Her gift is in letting those feelings brew just beneath the surface, only boiling over at exactly the right time.

The young star is great on her own, but becomes mesmerizing when she shares the screen with Buric. The two forge a bond that is similar to many we've seen before. Vlad becomes a substitute father figure for Violet, and Violet stands in for Vlad's estranged daughter. This has its own set of challenges, but the two are perfect together. What starts as a tenuous acquaintanceship of convenience becomes something much deeper and more meaningful as time goes on.

The strange thing about Teen Spirit is that it takes place now and yet it feels like a film that could have fit in nicely around 1997. It has the gritty, slightly rough aesthetic of a 90s indie flick. Fanning sings all of her own covers of songs that were popular three or four years ago. The tones and pallet and costumes do not suggest a modern film that takes place in 2018 or 2019. But Minghella pulls it all together in a way that many veteran directors would have struggled. He has a gift for crafting a story, and to take on a musical as his first project only adds an extra element of difficulty that he is ready for.

Teen Spirit may not venture into a lot of new territory, but it uses the familiar to craft a particular and specific story. This is a tale of a young woman, but she could be anyone who dares to dream of a life they aren't born into. Anyone who feels alone in the world, and yet manages not to get discouraged by their lot. Violet's journey isn't unique. But the way she faces it is the real journey anyway.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Review: 'Little Woods', Tessa Thompson And Lily James Struggle In A Hopeless America


In Little Woods, Nia DaCosta's enlightened and empathic feature debut, Ollie (Tessa Thompson) struggles to make ends meet by selling coffee and food to workers. Like Ollie, the men, all poor and many affected by the Opioid epidemic, seem to be the only ones not cashing in on the oil fields they tend each day. The millions being generated aren't trickling down to the working class, who are left with fewer and more desperate options just to survive.

For Ollie, desperation means getting back into the drug business she fought so hard to leave. Just days away from completing parole on a charge of importing illegal OxyContin from Canada, which she used to ease her ailing mother's pain, Ollie has is also burdened by her estranged sister Deb (Lily James), who is once again pregnant even though she can barely take care of the son she already has. When the bank demands $5000 stop foreclosure of their home, there's really only one way to make that kind of money and it ain't trading stocks on Wall Street. In the economically-depressed town of Little Woods, North Dakota, there are no easy ways out.


It's a roundabout "one last job" premise, and DaCosta plays up the thriller aspects wonderfully. The mounting tension is indisputable. In particular any time a man enters the picture because most of them are no good; such as Deb's deadbeat baby-daddy (James Badge Dale), or menacing like Bill (Luke Kirby) who isn't happy about having his profits undercut by Ollie's return to the business. Good-for-nothing dudes aren't the only concern, however. DaCosta indicts a number of American institutions that do a disservice to poor women.  When Deb discovers that it costs $8,000 just to have a baby, it forces her into making another tough decision, only to find that getting an abortion would prove just as difficult for someone in her predicament.

DaCosta captures the hopeless atmosphere in washed-out color palettes and barren landscapes, evoking a similar feel to Debra Granik's Winter's Bone, or the Melissa Leo drama Frozen River. These films share a lot in common thematically, as determined women try to navigate a treacherous landscape with equally treacherous men and a government that is non-existent or downright hostile. It makes Ollie an interesting character to root for, as someone who deals Opioids despite the impact it's having on her community. In DaCosta's favor, she doesn't ignore Ollie's part in it, but proceeds without judgement for viewers to decide where they fall.


It's another thoughtful, commanding performance by Thompson, who adds depth to Ollie that DaCosta's script doesn't always afford. Her Ollie is a jumble of conflicting emotions, but she always remains loyal to her family despite feeling like an outsider among outsiders. It's casually mentioned that she was adopted, which informs some of the strained interactions she has with Deb throughout. Speaking of which, this is a surprisingly gritty, unglamorous role for James and she ought to do more like this. Her natural beauty stands out to such a degree that you fear it makes her a target anytime Deb is alone. In Little Woods, the threats are everywhere, creating an atmosphere of paranoia and captivity so intense you don't mind if DaCosta eases up on her two heroines in the end. Consider it a tiny bit of wish fulfillment when so much of her film depicts a grim reality.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

See Woody And Bo Peep Reunite In New 'Toy Story 4' Teaser


Toy Story 4 will bring the Pixar gang back together again after a long hiatus, but more importantly it will reunite Woody with his long-lost love, Bo Peep, who is not the damsel in distress she used to be.

In the latest teaser we see more of the road trip adventures undertaken by Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the gang. We also see Bo Peep's (Annie Potts) return, sporting a new look and attitude. We also get another look at new characters Bunny and Ducky, carnival toys voiced by Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key. The biggest threat they face may come from a shockingly real-looking cat who has a habit of destroying toys just like them.

Toy Story 4 hits theaters on June 21st.


Thanos Has Been Found In New 'Avengers: Endgame' TV Spot, Plus Two New Posters


One week. That's all. Just one week away from the release of Avengers: Endgame and even though they don't really need to, Marvel keeps releasing promos with never-before-seen footage. The latest is a TV spot in which we learn that Thanos has been using the Infinity Stones again, which gives the Avengers a chance to find and stop him.

What exactly was Thanos doing? We don't know; probably fashioning himself the perfect retirement home. Regardless, Captain America has a plan to find Thanos, steal back the Infinity Stones, and restore everyone who was turned to dust.

Sounds pretty simple. Avengers: Endgame opens April 26th. Check out the TV spot below along with a couple of new posters which you can see above.


4/18/2019

Shocking No One, 'Masters Of The Universe' Gets Bumped To 2020


In probably the least shocking news of the day, Sony's troubled, oft-delayed Master of the Universe movie is *shocker* getting delayed again. The December 28th 2019 release date isn't going to hold up, and now the film has been bumped to TBD 2020.

It was pretty obvious this was going to happen. Only last month Netflix heartthrob Noah Centineo entered talks to play He-Man in the live-action film based on the classic '80s toyline, but there hasn't been much movement since. We haven't heard of any developments from directors Adam and Aaron Nee, either, and I think it's a fair question to ask whether they are still involved. So many directors have had a cup of coffee on this movie (Jon M. Chu, McG, David Goyer) already, what's losing two more?