Review: Justice League

DC's Biggest Guns Give Fans A Film They Can Be Proud To Enjoy

Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Starring Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, and Sam Rockwell

Review: Lady Bird

Greta Gerwig's Directorial Debut!

Review: Murder On the Orient Express

Starring Kenneth Branagh, Daisy Ridley, Johnny Depp, and more

Review: Daddy's Home 2

Starring Mark Wahlberg, Will Ferrell, Mel Gibson, and John Lithgow


'Peter Rabbit' Trailer: Rabbit Stew Is On The Menu

I have the funniest feeling that Peter Rabbit, the live-action animated film from Easy A and Annie director Will Gluck, won't be as bad as it looks. And it looks bad, like so bad that I think it's perfectly okay to root for Domhnall Gleeson's character to catch Peter and turn him into stew. But Gluck generally makes enjoyable, family-friendly movies that make the most of their casts, and until he drops the ball there's reason for confidence.

James Corden voices the beloved literary bunny, with Gleeson as his nemesis, Mr. Gregor, who just wants to protect his precious vegetable farm. Is that too much to ask??  Rose Byrne plays McGregor's neighbor and love interest, with voice roles for Daisy Ridley, Margot Robbie, Sia, and Elizabeth Debicki.

Peter Rabbit hops into theaters on February 9th 2018.

‘The Gifted’ S1E8 Recap: “Threat Of eXtinction”

Last week on The Gifted, Marcos took a trip to his dark side.  Because his former girlfriend (and now Cartel boss) Carmen helped him with details necessary to rescue Polaris from Sentinel Services’ custody, so she then called in her marker, making him an enforcer for her.  He had to take out one of her rivals’ drug supplies and even though he did not want to do it, by the time it was all said and done, he was actually enjoying the carnage.  This is bound to cause huge friction between him and his girlfriend Polaris.  Meanwhile, John helped Blink discover what happened to the family that had sheltered her.  Thanks to Sentinel Services massacring the family, Blink is on a quest for revenge and agrees to stay with the Mutant Underground.  Reed while going through some stolen files started seriously hating on his daughter dating one of the fellow refugees who used his powers for criminal (more like desperate) means.  Eventually, he decided to give the guy a chance but he also found out that his father was associated with a company doing business with Sentinel Services.

This week was an interesting one.  Reed finally meets up with his father, who he hasn’t seen for many years.  We get to see just what his father was up to and how it not only deals with Trask Industries (the company he worked for and a great X-Men reference), but also his own family history and how it related to the X-gene.  Meanwhile, a new group of refugees came in, only this time one of Sentinel Services’ brainwashed mutants was one of them and the Mutant Underground was attacked by one of their own.

Let’s take a look at a few highlights from this week’s episode “Threat Of eXtinction”


This week’s flashback did not focus on anyone in the Mutant Underground or the Sentinel Services.  Instead, it truly was a blast from the past as we see two dangerous mutants.  A brother and a sister.  We’ll find out who they specifically are later.  One thing’s for sure, they aren’t good like the Mutant Underground or the X-Men.  Hell, they aren’t even as nice as Magneto.  They are more like Apocalypse.  We see that as the two twins hold hands, causing a massive explosion.

The Mutant Underground Welcome a New and Dangerous Mutant:

Because their nature is to help mutants avoid persecution, the Mutant Underground spends a lot of time meeting new refugees to help and escort to safe houses and new lives hidden from Sentinel Services.  By default, they have to be rather trusting of who they let into their small spaces.  Little do they know, this time, it’s not a good idea.

One of the current batch of folks they are helping immediately attacks them.  Turns out she’s one of  Trask Industries’ “Hounds” like John’s friend Pulse.  They barely had any warning by a telepathic mutant before they are overrun by the mutant.  She had Quicksilver/Flash-like speed and easily can outmaneuver and beat most of them.  Thanks to Blink teleporting John above her do they get the drop on her?  Now they have to figure out who she is, and what happened to her.

Caitlin being the resident doctor on site thinks that she’s treatable.  She discovers that whatever Trask did a number on her.  It’s revealed that she was given “Kick” a mutant-based drug that intensifies their powers is what Trask Industries is using to control the mutants in their custody.  And once, they’re hooked, they’re hooked.  The poor mutant ends up succumbing to withdrawal effects of the drug, but not before the telepath is able to read the woman’s mind and tell everyone that there are plenty of mutants that they need to save.

Polaris and Marcos Are Still At Odds:

It’s a no-brainer that Polaris would have a problem with Marcos lying to her about joining the Cartel.  However, after his explanation is given, she’s not satisfied.  She’s not talking to him.  She’s sleeping on the couch.  This seems like it’s going to be an ongoing problem for the two of them, especially because at any moment’s notice Carmen may call Marcos back into action, and he has to oblige.  If Polaris steps in or if Marcos doesn’t go along, then they may have a war not only with the Sentinel Services, but also with the Cartel.

Reed Catches Up With His Father:

Once Reed learns that Trask Industries is in the mix, he realizes that he will have to come face to face with his estranged father.  After all, his father worked there for more than 30 years, he might know a thing or two about the organization.

At first, the two continue their tumultuous relationship.  His father Otto Strucker (guest star Raymond J. Barry) is upset about how distant they are and the fact that he never met his grandkids.  Reed is angry by how his father treated him when he was younger and was always involved in his work.  Otto claims that Trask did nothing nefarious.  Of course, once he learns that his grandkids are mutants, he proceeds to deliver a bombshell to his son.  Otto is a mutant.  He was the child of one of the two mutants from the flashbacks.  He tells his sons that his mother was Andreas von Strucker and along with her brother Andreas make up Fenris.  Fans of Marvel know Fenris as the twin children of Baron von Strucke (a HYDRA agent) who once they held hands, were capable of mass destruction.  It turns out that Fenris also have the same powers that Lauren and Andy had, causing Otto to have great concern.  He tells Reed that he failed.  Here comes another bombshell.  While at Trask Industries, Otto created a serum that got rid of the X-Gene and used it on his son Reed.  Yes, that’s right.  Reed was a mutant but lost his powers.  Now you know this means that he’ll get them back by the end of the season.

With all this going on, Doctor Palmer and Sentinel Services come to Otto’s home thinking that the Mutant Underground would be there as well.  Because he loves his son despite what has happened, he stalls Sentinel Services while Reed and John go and hide.  Palmer also brought Pulse along, who uses his powers to neutrally John powers.  However, it’s not enough to stop Otto’s powers.  To help his son, he uses his power to create a mass amount of energy which causes the house to shake in an explosion.  Otto gets shot by a soldier, but not before he managed to save his son.  Pulse snaps out of the brainwashing just enough to say sorry to John before dying.  

'Film Stars Don't Die In Liverpool' Trailer: Annette Bening Plays Hollywood Royalty

Here's an easy short hand when you're figuring out the year's top Best Picture contenders: if Annette Bening is in it, it's got a shot. It will be an uphill climb for biopic Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool, which I saw a few weeks ago in Middleburg and found pretty average. The buzz on it has been muted, as well, but like I said, Benning is tough for Oscar voters to deny and she does give another memorable  performance.

Bening stars as Hollywood star Gloria Grahame, who lived quite the public, controversial life before she met up with aspiring actor Peter Turner and began a relationship that raised yet more eyebrows.  The film is based on Turner's memoir of his time spent with Grahame in her latter years. Jamie Bell takes on the role of Turner, with Vanessa Redgrave and Julie Walters co-starring.

Here's the film's synopsis: Based on Peter Turner’s memoir, the film follows the playful but passionate relationship between Turner (Bell) and the eccentric Academy Award®-winning actress Gloria Grahame (Bening) in 1978 Liverpool. What starts as a vibrant affair between a legendary femme fatale and her young lover quickly grows into a deeper relationship, with Turner being the person Gloria turns to for comfort. Their passion and lust for life is tested to the limits by events beyond their control.

Directed by Paul McGuigan, Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool opens December 29th.

The 2018 Indie Spirit Awards Nominations Are Full Of Happy Surprises

The 2018 Independent Spirit Awards nominations were revealed today, and, at least to me, this is the most "indie" the nominees have been in a long time. There seems to have been a concerted effort to get closer to the event's roots, and we see that in some of the movies that got left out.

Coming away with the most nominations with six was Luca Guadagnino's beloved summer romance, Call Me By Your Name. The film has been earning incredible reviews since it debuted at Sundance and has appeared like an obvious Best Picture frontrunner for months. Following closely behind with five nominations were Jordan Peele's Get Out and, surprisingly, the Safdie Brothers' gritty crime flick, Good Time. Greta Gerwig's skyrocketing Lady Bird came away with four nominations, more on that in a sec, tied with The Rider which has only played at TIFF. Martin McDonagh's Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri finished up with three, as well as the excellent low-key drama Columbus, while Sean Baker's The Florida Project had two, and yeah I'll comment on those right now.

First off, I'm absolutely ecstatic to see that Columbus, one of my favorite movies of the year and a gorgeous dramatic masterpiece from Kogonada, earned three nominations. I'm sad none of them were for stars Haley Lu Richardson and John Cho, but I'll deal if it gets this amazing film more attention.

Get Out and Call Me By Your Name doing so well was a given, although I remain perplexed by all the love for Guadagnino's film. Maybe I'm missing something other than the terrific, honest portrayals by Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet, but then our reviewer Mae Abdulbaki wasn't too crazy about it, either.

Good Time, which saw Robert Pattinson go street for the first time in his career, felt like it should be an indie darling, and it was treated as such. I'm still surprised by the honors it received, though; not just Pattinson but co-star (and co-director) Benny Safie and newcomer Teliah Lennice Webster.

I'm disappointed we didn't see Danielle MacDonald's fiery hip-hop performance in Patti Cake$ get some love, but then the same could be said for both Brooklynn Prince and Willem Dafoe for The Florida Project. I could see maybe snubbing Prince due to her age, but there's no excuse leaving out Dafoe who is an absolute hero in a triumphant movie.

Nothing for Guillermo Del Toro's The Shape of Water or Taylor Sheridan's Wind River? Both are indie favorites with reviews to match, but I don't know if they seem too much like studio movies to the voters? In terms of economics they fall within the awards guidelines, so maybe we'll learn more about the decision-making process here. Actually, we probably won't.

Even though Lady Bird earned four nominations, part of me still feels it's a bit of a disappointment. Is that crazy? The film is a box office giant by arthouse standards, with word-of-mouth carrying it to genuine Oscars consideration. I thought there would be more, that's all, like Gerwig for Best Director?

The full list of nominees is below. The Indie Spirits will be held on March 3rd 2018.
(Award given to the producer. Executive Producers are not awarded.)     
Call Me by Your Name         
Producers: Peter Spears, Luca Guadagnino, Emilie Georges, Rodrigo Teixeira, Marco Morabito, James Ivory, Howard Rosenman 
The Florida Project  
Producers: Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch, Kevin Chinoy, Andrew Duncan, Alex Saks, Francesca Silvestri, Shih-Ching Tsou
Get Out          
Producers: Jason Blum, Edward H. Hamm Jr., Sean McKittrick, Jordan Peele
Lady Bird      
Producers: Eli Bush, Evelyn O’Neill, Scott Rudin
The Rider      
Producers: Mollye Asher, Bert Hamelinck, Sacha Ben Harroche, Chloé Zhao
(Award given to the director and producer)
ColumbusDirector: Kogonada
Producers: Danielle Renfrew Behrens, Aaron Boyd, Giulia Caruso, Ki Jin Kim, Andrew Miano, Chris Weitz
Ingrid Goes WestDirector: Matt Spicer
Producers: Jared Ian Goldman, Adam Mirels, Robert Mirels, Aubrey Plaza, Tim White, Trevor White
MenasheDirector/Producer: Joshua Z. Weinstein
Producers: Yoni Brook, Traci Carlson, Daniel Finkelman, Alex Lipschultz
Oh Lucy!Director/Producer: Atsuko Hirayanagi
Producers: Jessica Elbaum, Yukie Kito, Han West
Patti Cake$Director: Geremy Jasper
Producers: Chris Columbus, Michael Gottwald, Dan Janvey, Daniela Taplin Lundberg, Noah Stahl, Rodrigo Teixeira
JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD – Given to the best feature made for under $500,000. (Award given to the writer, director and producer. Executive Producers are not awarded.)
DayveonWriter/Director/Producer: Amman Abbasi
Writer: Steven Reneau
Producers: Lachion Buckingham, Alexander Uhlmann 
A Ghost StoryWriter/Director: David Lowery
Producers: Adam Donaghey, Toby Halbrooks, James M. Johnston 
Life and nothing moreWriter/Director: Antonio Méndez Esparza
Producers: Amadeo Hernández Bueno, Alvaro Portanet Hernández, Pedro Hernández Santos
Most Beautiful IslandWriter/Director/Producer: Ana Asensio
Producers: Larry Fessenden, Noah Greenberg, Chadd Harbold, Jenn Wexler
The TransfigurationWriter/Director: Michael O’Shea
Producer: Susan Leber 
Sean BakerThe Florida Project     
Jonas CarpignanoA Ciambra       
Luca GuadagninoCall Me by Your Name           
Jordan PeeleGet Out          
Benny SafdieJosh SafdieGood Time     
Chloé ZhaoThe Rider       
Greta GerwigLady Bird         
Azazel JacobsThe Lovers      
Martin McDonaghThree Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri  
Jordan PeeleGet Out           
Mike WhiteBeatriz at Dinner
Kris AvedisianStory By: Kyle Espeleta, Jesse WakemanDonald Cried  
Emily V. Gordon, Kumail NanjianiThe Big Sick  
Ingrid JungermannWomen Who Kill
David Branson Smith, Matt SpicerIngrid Goes West
 Thimios BakatakisThe Killing of a Sacred Deer  
Elisha ChristianColumbus        
Hélène LouvartBeach Rats     
Sayombhu MukdeepromCall Me by Your Name          
Joshua James RichardsThe Rider
Ronald Bronstein, Benny SafdieGood Time 
Walter FasanoCall Me by Your Name          
Alex O’FlinnThe Rider
Gregory PlotkinGet Out          
Tatiana S. RiegelI, Tonya          
Salma HayekBeatriz at Dinner        
Frances McDormandThree Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
 Margot RobbieI, Tonya
Saoirse RonanLady Bird        
Shinobu TerajimaOh Lucy!                  
Regina WilliamsLife and nothing more 
Timothée ChalametCall Me by Your Name
Harris DickinsonBeach Rats     
James FrancoThe Disaster Artist 
Daniel KaluuyaGet Out          
Robert PattinsonGood Time      
Holly HunterThe Big Sick 
Allison JanneyI, Tonya          
Laurie MetcalfLady Bird                    
Lois SmithMarjorie Prime
Taliah Lennice WebsterGood Time
Nnamdi AsomughaCrown Heights                       
Armie HammerCall Me by Your Name          
Barry KeoghanThe Killing of a Sacred Deer 
Sam RockwellThree Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri    
Benny SafdieGood Time 
ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD – Given to one film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast
MudboundDirector: Dee Rees
Casting Directors: Billy Hopkins, Ashley Ingram
Ensemble Cast: Jonathan Banks, Mary J. Blige, Jason Clarke, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell, Rob Morgan, Carey Mulligan 
BEST DOCUMENTARY (Award given to the director and producer)
The DepartureDirector/Producer: Lana Wilson
Faces PlacesDirectors: Agnés Varda, JR
Producer: Rosalie Varda
Last Men in AleppoDirector: Feras Fayyad
Producers: Kareem Abeed, Søeren Steen Jespersen, Stefan Kloos
MotherlandDirector/Producer: Ramona S. Diaz
Producer: Rey Cuerdo 
QuestDirector: Jonathan Olshefski
Producer: Sabrina Schmidt Gordon
BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM (Award given to the director)
BPM (Beats Per Minute)France
Director: Robin Campillo
A Fantastic WomanChile
Director: Sebastián Lelio 
I Am Not a WitchZambia
Director: Rungano Nyoni 
Lady MacbethU.K.
Director: William Oldroyd 
Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev 
BONNIE AWARD – Bonnie Tiburzi Caputo joined American Airlines in 1973 at age 24, becoming the first female pilot to fly for a major U.S. airline. In her honor, the inaugural Bonnie Award will recognize a mid-career female director with a $50,000 unrestricted grant, sponsored by American Airlines.
So Yong KimLynn SheltonChloé Zhao
JEEP TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD – The 23rd annual Truer Than Fiction Award, funded by the Jeep brand, is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by the Jeep brand.
Shevaun MizrahiDirector of Distant Constellation         
Jonathan OlshefskiDirector of Quest        
Jeff UnayDirector of The Cage Fighter
KIEHL’S SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD – The 24th annual Someone to Watch Award, funded by Kiehl’s Since 1851, recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Kiehl’s Since 1851.
Amman AbbasiDirector of Dayveon 
Justin ChonDirector of Gook         
Kevin PhillipsDirector of Super Dark Times 
PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD – The 21st annual Producers Award, funded by Piaget, honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality, independent films. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Piaget. 
Giulia Caruso & Ki Jin KimBen LeClairSummer Shelton

Punch Drunk DVDs: 'Valerian', 'The Hitman's Bodyguard', 'Good Time', And More!


The latest sci-fi mind-blower from genre legend Luc Besson stars Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevine as two special agents,
working together to bring order to the galaxies of the 28th century. Under direct orders to obtain an artifact held on the utopian planet Alpha, the agents soon discover that there was more to their mission than they understood, and a looming dark pressence is working against them to slowly dimantle the intergalactic metropolis and set the alien races against each other again.

We Said: “There's so much to admire about Valerian from a technical standpoint that you almost want to forgive everything else that is so wrong with it. You'll keep waiting for the light switch to turn on and for [Writer/Director Luc] Besson to fully realize Valerian's immense potential. But after a couple of hours you'll find that forgiveness and patience can only travel so far.” Rating: 2.5 out of 5

This hard-R action comedy teams up Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds as a notorious assassin and his former enemy, now assaigned to protect him from the every-growing number of international mercinaries who want him dead. Over the course of a chaotic 24 hours, the duo face numerous outrageous bloody obsticles on their way across the border, trying not to get killed or kill each other first.

We Said: “I imagine the majority of filming The Hitman's Bodyguard was Reynolds and Jackson bouncing snark off of one another like a freshly-tossed smoke grenade.  Surely, most of the film seems ad-libbed right there on the spot, giving the duo ample chance to hit their "muthaf**ka" quota in about five minutes. Three minutes if you include co-star Salma Hayek.” Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Good Time is a haunting new thriller about the worst day in the life of a young criminal (Robert Pattinson). After a botched bank robbery leaves his younger disabled brother in police custody, a mad race around the city begins, as he stops at nothing, pulling every bloody string he possibly can to try to get his brother out of prison before it’s too late.

We Said: “Set afire by the combination of Oneohtrix Point Never's sonic soundtrack and Sean Price Williams' searing 35mm visuals, Good Time is a treat for the senses. As it rages to an inevitably chaotic conclusion, we're left with a bittersweet reminder that Good Time is, at its core, a story about family and one's devotion to it.” Rating: 4 out of 5

Review: Documentary ‘Bill Nye: Science Guy’ Considers the Legacy of the TV Star as He Battles Deniers of Evolution and Climate Change

A specific generation of children grew up on Bill Nye The Science Guy. The show made scientific topics understandable for kids, and Bill Nye knew how to ham it up and goof around in a way that was appealing to young audiences. In our pop culture memory, it was the TV version of Nye (along, of course, with Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus) who provided us with an introduction to science.

These days, decades after the end of the show and during a time when anti-science thinking is not only rampant, but it’s taken up residence in the White House, Nye seems like a lone wolf fighting against a tide of misinformation. He’s on CNN and Fox News, he’s holding public debates and events, he’s leaning into the “Science Guy” persona as much as ever. It is easy to view him as an advocate, and perhaps tempting to see him as a hero.

But what the documentary Bill Nye: Science Guy achieves, as the best documentaries do, is peer behind the curtain of illusion and try to find some kind of truth. What that entails for filmmakers David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg is raising questions about Nye’s credentials (he has a bachelor’s degree in engineering, but no other formal science training) and his career (details are revealed about how he tried to go rogue with the Science Guy TV idea, leaving his collaborators behind), and following it up with: Does it matter? Does the work Nye is doing to support science in the culture and in the public sphere outweigh his own desire for fame and his own performative nature? Or is his approach more self-serving than helpful?

Bill Nye: Science Guy walks a fine line: It abstains from making those decisions for viewers, but it also provides a good amount of history about Nye and context about how other scientists view his transition from TV host to fighting creationists and climate change deniers. And the documentary also observes and interviews those opponents of Bill, too, like Ken Ham, a creationist with big money and big backers whose museum refuting evolution has exhibits showing dinosaurs and humans next to each other (Nye’s dry delivery of “to suggest this to school children is … irresponsible at best” is pretty killer) and has a mannequin with a thought bubble “I NEVER HEARD THIS BEFORE IN SCHOOL.” Screen time is also given to meteorologist Joe Bastardi, a vehement climate change denier who argues “Is it worth crashing the American economy? No, I don’t believe that” and whose son shows up to rattle Nye during a public appearance. And there’s also anthropologist Dr. Eugenie Scott, who says of Nye, “I don’t know what Bill’s goals are”—a slightly skeptical undercurrent that pops up a few times from other scientists interviewed in the documentary.

But the time spent with Bill captures a complicated man who seems to be battling his own feelings of personal inadequacy (he gets teary-eyed when discussing his parents; he mentions regret over not having his own family) and who understands his own shortcomings. “I don’t have a PhD, so I talk to the experts,” he says, and we see him do it, traveling to laboratories and universities and organizations to learn more about the subjects he then discusses in front of public audiences. Is Bill a mouthpiece who is furthering his own fame? Bill Nye: Science Guy allows viewers to make their own conclusions. But the documentary is clear in its presentation of Nye as a man who is self-aware of how others will view his limitations but still determined to keep moving forward in the defense of science and in the education of children, and that is an admirable thing. “Just trying to change the world here,” Nye says at the end of Bill Nye: Science Guy, and I believed him.


Netflix's “Win It All” Is Not Your Typical Poker Movie

Netflix’s new original movie “Win It All” seems to be about the usual story of a man who has been caught in a downward spiral because of certain events that made him resort to take desperate actions, but a closer look will reveal that this film offers a lot more depth and meaning. The movie centers around Eddie Garrett (played by Jake Johnson), a thirty something guy from Chicago who works as a parking attendant at Wrigley Field and loves to go to Chinatown to play underground poker come nightfall.

Despite Eddie being broke that he cannot even buy a cup of coffee, he makes sure he is able to keep playing poker. And while for most, Eddie seems to be an irresponsible adult who never assumes responsibility, it is admirable to see how he is very determined to win big in high stakes poker game someday and finds ways to be able to play the game on a regular basis.

Generally, playing poker is not a bad thing, and it's become increasingly more popular in the past few decades. In fact, there are a lot of online poker sites which offer a safe, fun, and secure gaming environment for players in addition to a number of different variants, including speed poker and classics like Omaha and Texas Hold'em. At 888poker alone, there are 10 million registered members, and their EGR Award as Socially Responsible Operator of the Year show that online poker operators take this game seriously and aim to provide a positive online gaming experience for players.

It is a bit surprising that this movie only focused on live poker and did not have any references to the online version of the game, given that players of online poker can also win big. In fact, online poker started to gain popularity and attracted more players when Chris Moneymaker became the first person to win the World Series of Poker after qualifying online back in 2003.

And just when it seemed impossible for Eddie’s life to get any more complicated, his friend Michael (played by Jose A. Garcia), who is was sentenced to six to nine months in jail, asked him to keep a duffel bag for him. In exchange, Michael would pay him a lucrative amount which Eddie will receive once Michael’s sentence ends. He agreed to take the deal.

Once he got the bag, he took a peek and found that there were rolls and bundles of cash inside. Eddie decided to borrow some of the money inside the bag to finance another poker game. He got lucky, but then ended up losing more money than he initially planned to borrow. Eventually, Eddie lost a lot of the cash that Michael entrusted him and needed to find a way to get it back.

Desperate, Eddie runs to his brother, Ron (played by Brooklyn Nine Nine's Joe Lo Truglio), who manages their family-owned landscaping business. Ron has always wanted Eddie to become his partner, but he never had the interest until now when he has no other choice. Ron and his wife, Kris, has always welcomed Eddie in their home as he is such a loving uncle to their young son, Jude.

Eventually, Eddie meets a woman, Eva (played by Aislinn Derbez) in a neighborhood bar. Eva is a nurse by profession. At the bar, Eddie literally bumps into her and makes his way into her acquaintance. Their relationship started to develop steadily, but then Eddie realizes that he would need to leave town immediately and for good.

What makes this movie something worth watching is, it is not just about someone who was hooked to gambling. It is not even just about winning or losing in the game of poker. Netflix’s “Win It All” is also about love, particularly the love of a couple. There is conflict and drama that stems from violence that looms from beginning to end. Michael was not just Eddie’s friend, his presence in this story gives so much tension and fear as a result of his entrusting his bag full of money to Eddie. It is also a story about secrets and lies, of keeping quiet, of deception. [Trailer via Facebook]

Review: Jon Bernthal and Christopher Abbott Face Off in the Thriller ‘Sweet Virginia’

People keep making the mistake of messing with Jon Bernthal. The actor has carved out a pretty solid niche for himself playing the tough guy with a sensitive streak that you don’t want to cross—from Wind River to The Punisher to Baby Driver—and he continues that streak with the thriller Sweet Virginia. As a former rodeo rider trying to live a small life in a small town, Bernthal simmers as Sam, a guy choosing to keep his emotions in check as the universe continues to serve him a series of a setbacks. But how much can one person take?

Things in Sweet Virginia kick off with a murder, as so many thrillers do. In a bar one night, three men play a game of cards, drinking and kvetching, until another man comes in and shoots them all dead. He double checks that they’re goners, and then shoots them a couple of times again for good measure.

The small town hasn’t seen anything this gruesome in a long time, and Sweet Virginia then pivots focus to two of the widows: the younger Lila (Imogen Poots), whose wide eyes seem in a perpetual state of disbelief, and the older Bernadette (Rosemarie DeWitt), who is having a quiet affair with Sam. The two sneak between his motel room and her home, and although there is clear affection between the two of them, a barrier is obvious, too. He puts a picture of a woman and a young girl away when she visits. She always asks whether anyone saw him come by. They’re in each other’s lives, but neither will fully surrender themselves, either.

This is fairly standard small-town life, and that’s why Elwood (Christopher Abbott) sticks out like a sore thumb. A new arrival staying at the Sweet Virginia Motor Hotel that Sam manages, Elwood couldn’t be more obviously different from those around him. He has a way of speaking that sounds like it’s a struggle to get clipped, brusque words out. He has a trigger temper, muttering a stream of vulgar insults under his breath at whoever pisses him off. But he recognizes Sam from his rodeo days, and he’s the only person Elwood seems to treat with any kind of respect. “You must get recognized” around here, he insists, and when Sam demurs, the Elwood response is perfectly in line with his character: “They’re fucking idiots.”

It is inevitable that Sam and Elwood will circle each other, and because Sweet Virginia is a pretty effective genre piece, the movie takes its time building the tension required between the two men. We see each interact with other people, cementing their personalities—Sam’s struggle to react to other people’s dismissal; Elwood’s phone call to a mother who doesn’t seem to remember him—and the pacing is measured enough that scenes seem to unspool rather than unravel.

And this is an absurd cast: Jonathan Tucker makes a foul-mouthed impression in his brief few minutes of screen time; Poots and DeWitt draw you into their dynamic of two women trying to move on from a horrendous crime; and of course, Bernthal and Abbott play quite well off each other. The shortcoming of Sweet Virginia, though, is that its sparseness means Sam and Elwood unfortunately don’t have that many scenes together, and because the narrative is kicked off with the murders, the forward momentum of the plot is tied directly to that event, and doesn’t have much room to grow.

Sweet Virginia would benefit from more interactions between its main characters and an expanded plot, but it’s a sign of the overall quality of the film that the complaint is we want more. Cut from the same cloth as the modern-day classic Blue Ruin, Sweet Virginia is a solid genre exercise.


'Justice League' Could Lose Warner Bros. $100M

Warner Bros. faces a crossroads when it comes to the DCEU in the wake of Justice League's disastrous $94M domestic debut, which happens to be the lowest of any DCEU movie. The biggest problem is how expensive the whole endeavor turned out to be. Maybe if Zack Snyder's version didn't need additional reshoots by Joss Whedon things might have been manageable, but that's not how things shook out, and Warner Bros. may be about to take a huge hit.

Forbes broke out their calculator and figured out the numbers, and it doesn't look good. They take the reported $300M production budget along with the $150M in marketing costs, and estimate a $50M-$100M loss when all is added up. Oof.   Okay, that doesn't sound so bad, right? Well...remember, Warner Bros. doesn't keep everything the film earns, and Deadline estimates Justice League needs to hit $700M+ just to turn a profit. Okay, that's not so bad, right? Well...the site estimates the film will only hit $635M worldwide overall.

Now, I'm no economist but $635M seems really low, especially with the film already at $278M after just one week.  And I expect there will be a considerable return on merchandising, which Forbes does go into and I think underplays. But no matter how you slice it, there shouldn't need to be this much work for the film to just break even. It should already be a given.

Alexandra Shipp Joins 'Shaft' Reboot, Viola Davis Leads 'I Almost Forgot About You', Rose Byrne Has An 'Instant Family'

When Tim Story recently spoke about his upcoming Shaft reboot/sequel thing, he referred to a "strong female lead" role that also needed to be cast, but alluded to it being the mother of Shaft's son. That's not going to be the role played by X-Men: Apocalypse's Alexandra Shipp, who is in final talks for the female lead. She joins Jesse T. Usher, Samuel L. Jackson, and original Shaft himself Richard Roundtree in the film that finds the youngest Shaft, an FBI agent, teaming with his father (Jackson, reprising his role from the 2000 film) on a murder case, only to have a clash of old school/new school styles. [Deadline]

The great Viola Davis is joining with Girls Trip director Malcolm D. Lee for an adaptation of Terry McMillan's I Almost Forgot About You. McMillan will reunite with co-writer Ron Bass, who also helped pen the screenplays for her previous adaptations, How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Waiting to Exhale. Davis will star as Georgia Young, a divorcee who hasn't felt passion in ages, and decides to go on a journey of self-discovery, which includes meeting with former lovers. Something tells me this deal was worked out ages ago, probably on the set of Girls Trip when McMillan made a cameo as herself. [Deadline]

Rose Byrne will join Mark Wahlberg in the comedy, Instant Family, from Daddy's Home 2 director and co-writer Sean Anders. So we already know it's brilliant. Wahlberg and Byrne will play a married couple who get in over their heads by adopting three out-of-control kids from the foster care system. [Deadline]