Review: Hustlers

Starring Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu

Review: Ad Astra

Starring Brad Pitt

Review: 3 From Hell

The Devil's Rejects are Back

Review: The Sound of Silence

Starring Peter Sarsgaard and Rashida Jones

Review: The Goldfinch

Starring Ansel Elgort, Nicole Kidman, and Jeffrey Wright

9/19/2019

Fede Alvarez to Bring 'Leatherface' Back to the Screen for Legendary Pictures


There isn't a more perfect way to welcome in the Halloween season! The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is getting the Halloween treatment thanks to Legendary Pictures and the writer and director of the original slasher classic, Kim Henkel. Why is this a big deal, you say. They bring these guys back every few years in some VOD crap cash grab (see last years Leatherface a not quite terrible prequel). Yes, yes they do but here's the thing Halloween has changed things yet again thanks to David Gordon Green's lovingly made direct sequel, after all Hollywood LOVES imitation if it means money. So instead of some off sequel/prequel they are going for a direct sequel to the original, which admittedly isn't really even enough of a big deal to warrant a story. No, the BIG news here is who they are getting to produce it. None other then Fede Alvarez, the guy who absolutely NAILED it with Evil Dead, arguably the very first horror classic reboot/re-imagining to land with critical and commercial success. I only say arguably because I really enjoyed the Michael Bay produced 'Chainsaw' remake of 2003 (every guy in my generation remembers Jessica Biel in that white tank top and skin tight jeans).

Alvarez hasn't quite had the booming career we all expected after exploding on the American scene with the 2013 Evil Dead remake, but not for lack of skill. He appears to just like keeping it small and released the under-appreciated Don't Breathe.

You can't really say that the story of the cannibalistic redneck Sawyer family is underappreciated, everyone knows 'Texas Chainsaw' is a horror staple but I think it's fair to say they've been under-served. Bringing someone with Alvarez's chops to over see the film is nothing but good news.

Review: ''The Wedding Year', Sarah Hyland Comedy Is All Cliche, No Substance


There’s a period of time in every person’s life, between their late 20’s to mid 30’s, where every summer is wedding season. In come the invitations, gift registries, hotel reservations, and lifelong commitments, causing every young person to reflect on love, their life choices and their futures. With the rise of hookup culture, polyamory and open marriage making waves in millennial and Gen-Z communities, it's natural for the idea of marriage to be questioned on screen. In comes The Wedding Year, a clumsy comedy that tries to capture this unique perspective on marriage by one couple juggling seven weddings and their relationship in the course of a single year. 

Starting at the beginning of Mara and Jake’s relationship (Sarah Hyland and Tyler James Williams) and following them through these weddings and to their own eventual engagement, the film struggles to find smooth storytelling. The film reads more like a millennial Instagram story than an actual movie, the story told in often incoherent bits, feeling disjointed and emotionally all over the place. Too many drone shots of L.A., the emotional foundation of the relationship is not established well and its lead Mara is not relatable but unlikeable. Her valid fears on marriage come off as whiney, she’s not a great friend, there’s nothing done to get the audience on her side. The film tries to coherently portray current millennial views on marriage and love through this character and fails miserably. 



It's not that this concept doesn’t work because it does. Earlier this year, Plus One, a film starring Jack Quaid (The Boys) and Maya Erskine (Pen15) about two friends in denial about their feelings for each other, was released. Over the course of many weddings, their characters fell in love while trying to wrap their heads around modern relationships and marriage. The story flowed together and had genuinely authentic and funny moments. Its understated nature added to its authenticity and its characters were not one dimensional. If Plus One is how millennials are, then The Wedding Year is how Baby Boomers and Generation X perceive them to be. 

Despite well-intentioned but underused supporting actors like Anna Camp, Wanda Sykes and Keith David, the film doesn’t have much to stand on. A choppy and cliched script and lack of characterization and archetypal character depictions keep it from being anything meaningful. 

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

'Clemency' Trailer: Alfre Woodard And Aldis Hodge Lead The Sundance Award-Winning Drama


Although she has one Oscar nomination, a Golden Globes victory and a handful of Emmy wins in a sea of nominations, I think we still think of Alfre Woodard as a character actress. The truth is she makes everything look effortless, whether it's co-starring as a villain in Luke Cage or headlining the searing emotional drama Clemency, which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.

Clemency stars Woodard as a prison warden in a failing marriage who strikes up an unexpected bond with a death row inmate. Woodard is joined by rising star Aldis Hodge, who has been killing it lately in Brian Banks, Hidden Figures, and even What Men Want. Somehow he was good in that, too.  The rest of the stellar cast includes Wendell Pierce, Richard Schiff, and Danielle Brooks.

SYNOPSIS: How do you salvage your marriage when you are struggling to salvage your soul, your sense of self, and your sense of right and wrong? Bernadine Williams (Alfre Woodard) is a prison warden who, over the years, has been drifting away from her husband while dutifully carrying out executions in a maximum-security prison. When she strikes up a unique bond with death-row inmate Anthony Woods (Aldis Hodge), a layer of emotional skin is peeled back, forcing Bernadine to confront the complex—and often contradictory—relationship between good intentions, unrequited desires, and what it means to be sanctioned to kill.

Written and directed by Chinonye Chukwu, Clemency opens on December 27th, giving Woodard the high-profile slot of an awards contender.


Blumhouse's 'The Craft' Remake Has Founds Its Coven Of Witches


Fairuza Balk, Rachel True, Neve Campbell, Robin Tunney...Skeet Ulrich!!! Yeah, The Craft is one of the more memorable '90s teen films ever, adding a supernatural touch to the whole "mean girls" thing. But there's a whole generation who need their own take on the witchy film, which is where Blumhouse and writer/director Zoe Lister-Jones (Band Aid) have come in. Their upcoming remake is on the way and it has found its four leading witches.

Starring in The Craft remake are Pacific Rim: Uprising's Cailee Spaeny, Gideon Adlon (Blockers), Lovie Simone (Selah & the Spades), and Zoey Luna (Pose). Spaeny's the biggest star of the bunch, but clearly the main draw is going to be nostalgia for the original movie, which was written and directed by Andrew Fleming. He's on board the remake as an exec-producer, too.

The Craft opened in 1996 and centered on four girls who claim to be witches. After dabbling with spells they don't understand, they gain supernatural powers which quickly grow out of control and put their friendship to the test. Expect Lister-Jones to stick to the formula while giving the story a modern kick. Hopefully she'll find a role for herself, as well, and maybe her Band Aid co-star Adam Pally? Or is that just wishful thinking? [Deadline]

Joaquin Phoenix To Lead 'Beginners' Director Mike Mills' Next Film


No actor is riding high the way Joaquin Phoenix is right now, with the early buzz pegging him as a Best Actor favorite for his performance in Joker. How that pans out we'll just have to wait and see, but it does mean whatever he's doing next is going to have a ton of attention, and now we know what that's going to be.

Phoenix will star in the upcoming film from Beginners and 20th Century Women director Mike Mills. There aren't any plot details, but the combo of Phoenix and Mills was enough to score a financing and distribution deal with A24, who will certainly peg it for the awards season. Shooting begins this fall.

Not that Phoenix needs the help, but Mills has consistently gotten the best out of his stars. Christopher Plummer won Best Supporting Actor for his role in Beginners, and Annette Bening a Golden Globe nomination for 20th Century Women. [Deadline]

WWE And Paramount Animation Team For Monster Wrestling Film 'Rumble'


While ratings for WWE television continue to be sluggish, it hasn't stopped sports entertainment from tightening its grip on the big and small screen. A recent deal with Fox Sports will put WWE in more homes than ever, the critical success of Fighting with My Family is the best they've ever had on a feature film, and opportunities are opening up in the streaming world, as well, with projects on Netflix and Quibi. Now WWE Studios is partnering up with Paramount Animation on a summer 2020 release that makes wrestling superstars out of monsters.

Deadline repots WWE Studios and Paramount Animation are teaming up for Rumble, which is set in a world where monsters are the sports entertainers, and a young girl named Winnie looks to follow in her father's footsteps by turning an underdog monster into a champion.

Of course, the voice cast will include arguably the two most popular WWE supstars, "The Man" Becky Lynch and Roman Reigns, the latter having recently appeared in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw alongside his cousin, Dwayne Johnson. Will Arnett, Terry Crews, Geraldine Viswanathan, Tony Danza, Stephen A. Smith, Jimmy Tatro, Ben Schwartz and Michael Buffer also lend their voices.  The film will be directed by Hamish Grieve.

How WWE can make a wrestling movie about monsters without casting "The Monster" Braun Strowman seems like a terrible oversight on their part.


'Uncut Gems' Teaser: Adam Sandler Is All Bloodied Up In The Safdie Brothers' Latest


Following sky-high reviews out of TIFF, a new teaser for Uncut Gems has dropped. It's the first real look most of us will get of the new film by The Safdie Brothers, still hot from their film Good Time, and another chance for Adam Sandler to prove what a strong dramatic actor he can be with the right material.

Based on the praise Sandler's already getting, he does exactly that. Although he does seem to be playing a loudmouth blowhard, something he's already good at.  He plays a jeweler in New York City's Diamond District who gets in over his head while trying to land the biggest score of his life. The cast includes Lakeith Stanfield, Julia Fox, Kevin Garnett, Idina Menzel, Judd Hirsch, Pom Klementieff, Mike Francesa, and Eric Bogosian.

SYNOPSIS: From acclaimed filmmakers Josh and Benny Safdie comes an electrifying crime thriller about Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler), a charismatic New York City jeweler always on the lookout for the next big score. When he makes a series of high-stakes bets that could lead to the windfall of a lifetime, Howard must perform a precarious high-wire act, balancing business, family, and encroaching adversaries on all sides, in his relentless pursuit of the ultimate win.

Uncut Gems opens December 13th. Watch out for a full trailer on Tuesday, September 24th.


Full Cast And Release Date For Wes Anderson's 'The French Dispatch'


We haven't heard much about Wes Anderson's next film, reportedly titled The French Dispatch and described as a "love letter to journalists" set at an American newspaper in 20th-century Paris.  That's kinda how it works for Anderson movies, though. An initial blast of casting, usually of actors he's worked with many times, and then a lot of nothing. Well, it's time for things to pick back up again as Fox Searchlight has acquired the movie's distribution, revealing the full cast, synopsis, and 2020 release plans.

The French Dispatch will star Benicio Del Toro, Frances McDormand, Jeffrey Wright, Adrien Brody, Timothée Chalamet, Léa Seydoux, Tilda Swinton, Mathieu Amalric, Lyna Khoudri, Stephen Park, Owen Wilson, and Bill Murray. There are plenty of familiar faces for Anderson to work with, along with some interesting first-timers. I'm very curious to see Del Toro under Anderson's idiosyncratic direction.

Here's the brand new synopsis, as well: “THE FRENCH DISPATCH is a love letter to journalists set in an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional 20th-century French city and brings to life a collection of stories published in ‘The French Dispatch’ magazine.”

So this sounds like it will be an anthology-style film, which opens up a number of fun possibilities. The French Dispatch opens in 2020, and continues the relationship between Anderson and Fox Searchlight which has included Isle Of Dogs, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and The Darjeeling Limited.


'The Rhythm Section' Trailer: Blake Lively Is Out For Vengeance In Reed Morano's Thriller


For a long time it's been easy to write off Blake Lively as just a pretty face, but I think her performances, and the box office receipts, from films The Age of Adaline, The Shallows, and A Simple Favor have built her into a legit star. That bodes well for the oddly-titled The Rhythm Section, which may sound like a movie about band camp but is about a woman hell-bent on vengeance.

Based on the first in a series of novels by Mark Burnell, who also wrote the screenplay, the film centers on Stephanie Patrick,  “an ordinary woman on a path of self-destruction after her family is tragically killed in a plane crash. When Stephanie discovers that the crash was not an accident, she enters a dark, complex world to seek revenge on those responsible and find her own redemption.”

Behind the camera is Reed Morano, the Emmy-winning filmmaker behind The Handmaid's Tale. She also earned accolades for her post-apocalyptic dramedy I Think We're Alone Now, one of my favorites from that year. With Jude Law, Sterling K. Brown, and Max Casella co-starring there's talent all over the place.

The Rhythm Section hits theaters on January 31st 2020.

'Black And Blue' Trailer: Naomie Harris Is A Good Cop On The Run


David Ayer doesn't have a monopoly on corrupt cop movies, but it's hard for me to not see his influence in a movie like Black & Blue.  Directed by Deon Taylor (The Intruder), the film centers on a rookie female cop who captures video of her colleagues covering up a murder. That sends her on the run and in desperate need of help when she becomes the target of a manhunt led by her brothers-in-blue.

The film stars Naomie Harris as the rookie officer, with Tyrese Gibson as a member of the community who offers his support. That she is an African-American at a time when police brutality against blacks has become an epidemic, also weighs into the story penned by writer Peter Dowling (Flightplan). I mentioned Ayer in that you can see some resemblance to films such as Training Day and Dark Blue, both of which he wrote, but the racial component is what should separate Black and Blue from the rest.

SYNOPSIS: BLACK AND BLUE is a fast-paced action thriller about a rookie cop (Naomie Harris) who inadvertently captures the murder of a young drug dealer on her body cam. After realizing that the murder was committed by corrupt cops, she teams up with the one person from her community who is willing to help her (Tyrese Gibson) as she tries to escape both the criminals out for revenge and the police who are desperate to destroy the incriminating footage.

Also starring Frank Grillo, Reid Scott, Mike Colter, Nafessa Williams, and James Moses Black, Black and Blue opens October 25th.