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See Tarzan early and free

Jun 27 // Matthew Razak
DC Wednesday, June 29 - 7:30pmAMC Mazza Gallerie5300 Wisconsin Ave. NWWashington, DC 20015 http://www.wbtickets.com/hXhlT20161 Baltimore Wednesday, June 29 - 7:30pmCinemark Egyptian7000 Arundel Mills CircleHanover, MD  21076 http://www.wbtickets.com/YtTkc98635 Richmond      Wednesday, June 29 - 7:30pmRegal Short Pump 1411650 W Broad StreetRichmond, VA  23233 http://www.wbtickets.com/YMfJL77058
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DC, Baltimore and Richmond screenings

When is Hollywood going to stop trying to make Tarzan happen? At least this time we get a decent cast headlining the film and some really impressive work by Alexander Skarsgård's abs. You can drool over his six eight pack all you want for free by nabbing some of the passes below for a screening. 

Remember to arrive early as there will be plenty who want to see this and come back and let us know what you think. 

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Or does he?

Darth Vader is back. Again (probably). It seems every round of Star Wars moviemaking must come complete with a healthy dose of the dark helmet. He is after all, arguably, Star Wars’ most iconic character.

The revelation came via an Entertainment Weekly cover story and online tease promising more to come with the latest issue’s release this Friday.

Also promised are a juicy smorgasbord of other details any diehard Star Wars fan would kill for: what sex is Yoda; do droids do it; do those red-robed Imperial Guards ever do anything other than just stand there; and why do all Star Wars plots orbit around the/a Death Star?

My only real question is will James Earl Jones return to voice the big baddy daddy?

EW reports yes, yes he will. Let's hope so.

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First trailer for Ouija: Origin of Evil spells out B-L-A-N-D

Jun 23 // Nick Valdez
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Ouija: Origins of Evil photo
Stop trying to make Ouija happen, Hasbro

Remember Ouija? As part of toy company Hasbro's world domination, they teamed up with Blumhouse productions (Paranormal Activity, The Purge) and first, and only, time director Stiles White and released a terribly blah foray into horror. But it looks like the two companies have learned a little bit from their first huge mistake. 

Under the guidance of more capable director Mike Flanagan (Hush, and probably that Halloween reboot), the first trailer for the sequel Ouija: Origin of Evil does what most horror sequels do. It takes the premise into the past and hopes to make the premise creepy. The visuals seem better this time around, but the trailer can't shake off how bland it all is. This looks like so many other haunting films out there. Here's hoping the sequel can spell out a name all its own. 

Ouija: Origin of Evil hits theaters October 21st. 

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Eh eh eh eh eh eh eh eh eh eh eh eh eh

Regardless of how you feel about the Ghosbusters or the upcoming reboot (which I hope succeeds so we get more movies like it), we can all at least agree that the original film's theme was pretty good right? In terms of recognizable pop culture themes, it's pretty much up there with the "nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah" from the 1960 Batman series. 

Naturally, with a new version of Ghostbusters comes a new version of the theme. In more of a retooling than straight remix (which is probably a good sign of the film's originality, regardless of quality), Fall Out Boy, with a verse from Missy E, throw out hot fire. Wait, did I say hot fire? I meant hot garbage. This song is pretty bad. Listen for yourselves below. 

Ghostbusters opens July 15th. 

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Since last we saw Jack Reacher in theaters in 2012, Jack Reacher has returned to the printed page four times in Never Go Back (2013), Personal (2014), Make Me (2015), and Night School (2015). Maybe that's because author Lee Child and his publishers realize that's what makes a franchise a franchise: multiple iterations of a thing released with regularity to a waiting audience. Unless you're George R.R. Martin; that guy plays by no rules that I understand--he could wait two more decades to release The Winds of Winter and it would still sell millions of copies.

The point being, when a movie has even mild success, as Jack Reacher did, waiting four years to release the next iteration seems a tad ... delayed. It happens all the time in Hollywood, don't get me wrong. Ghostbusters is doing it right now, and that's 30 years after the fact, but in this instance, the material was there, as was the momentum, and well, Tom Cruise as the titular and physically inclined Reacher, is not getting any younger (watch the trailer for Reacher 1 followed by Reacher 2, you'll notice).

The original Jack Reacher was an enjoyable film. Maybe not a brain teaser, but easy viewing material. It is one of a spate of recent Cruise vehicles that I've been pleasantly surprised by. Despite the delay, if the trailer is a good indication, the sequel picks up right where we left off and I'm not complaining. I just wish they'd capitalized on timing and then they wouldn't need to verbally remind us of how much of a "legend" and badass Cruise Reacher is because we'd remember having just seen the movie a year or two ago.

Look for Jack Reacher: Never Go Back to solidify Cruise's place amongst other badass aging actors with a certain set of skills when it drops October 21, 2016.

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"May the power protect you."

About a month back I wrote a long editorial about Saban and Lionsgate's upcoming Power Rangers reboot. Until I had seen the costumes, I was pretty much all in for the film. It was making good moves otherwise. The team is comprised of relatively unknown, young actors, Elizabeth Banks looks pretty great as the new Rita Repulsa (though she is no longer as "repulsive" as the name implies), and now the film has manged to nab a big hitter. 

Bryan Cranston (who voiced a couple of monsters in the series after one of the Mighty Morphin' showrunners named the character, Billy Cranston, in his honor) confirmed through Twitter that he was cast as Zordon, the leader of the team of rangers. For those unfamiliar, in the program Zordon was a giant floating wizard head in a tube that dealt life advice. But considering Cranston's star power, I'm sure his version of Zordon will share more with the first movie's portrayal (as a guy outside of a tube with hilarious make-up). 

Seeing such a big talent in such an important role does give some credibility to the overall production. I'll remain cautiously optimistic until we get the first footage. 

Power Rangers morphs into theaters March 27th, 2017. 

[via Twitter]

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See The Shallows early and free

Jun 21 // Matthew Razak
Washington, DC Screening Tuesday, June 287:00pmRegal Gallery Place http://www.sonyscreenings.com/FLXSHLODC
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Washington DC screenings

Sharks are scary and Blake Lively being hunted down by one could be scary too. This is actually an interesting take on the whole shark attack genre, with the focus more on tension than actual attacks so it should be an interesting watch. Grab tickets for it below and you can see if that turns out to be true.

Remember to arrive at the theater early as these don't reserve you a seat and come back and tell us what you thought. 

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Guys, this one hurts a little more than the standard fare of actor/celebrity deaths. Anton Yelchin, one of Hollywood's most talented young names, has died at the age of 27 due to a freak accident early yesterday morning. Yelchin has made quite the name for himself for mainstream audiences in Terminator: Salvation and in the recent Star Trek franchise, with the upcoming Star Trek Beyond scheduled for a July 22nd theatrical release. However, he's charmed indie audiences with film such as Charlie Bartlett, The Beaver, Like Crazy, and Green Room. His contagious charisma and charm will sorely be missed from this generation of young up and comers.

I actually had the chance to talk to him very briefly back in Fall 2011 during the post-screening reception of Like Crazy's Chicago International Film Festival debut. After having a bit too much to wet my tongue, I came across Anton at the front desk of the bowling alley inside the theater. Feeling a bit overzealous, optimistic, and every bit of my 24 years at the time, I took it upon myself to pull him away from charming the girl working the register to praise him for his performance in the film... and to let him know of my insane jealousy that he got to share the screen (and a kiss) with Olivia Thirlby in New York, I Love You. You'll never see this, Anton, but thank you for entertaining my obnoxious self for those five minutes.

Please, if you're unfamiliar with Yelchin's line of work, I highly recommend any and all of the aforementioned films listed above. Below is a trailer for Like Crazy, a film that has resonated strongly within me even five years after I first saw it. R.I.P. Anton Yelchin

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See the The Free State of Jones early and free

Jun 17 // Matthew Razak
Screening Details: Wednesday, June 22nd7:30 pmRegal Gallery Place701 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20001 http://stxtickets.com/FreeStateFlixist
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Washington DC screenings

The Free State of Jones might be the perfect Gary Ross movie. The director is skilled at both underdog stories and stories based on actual events. Also, it has Matthew McConaughey laying on his thickest southern accent. You can check out the action and accent for free by grabbing one of the passes below.

As always remember to show up early so you're sure to get in. Come back and tell us what you think!

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Review: Terrordactyl

Jun 17 // Rick Lash
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In time for the weekend: B-movie review

With a clever pun served on a silver platter, Terrordactyl presents itself as a straight to video B-movie masterpiece ready to absorb two hours of your Saturday night. Hoping that prehistoric mayhem might be delivered with heaping extras of that same wit is a nice dream, but one that might not fully hatch.

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Terrordactyl
Director: Don Bitters III, Geoff Reisner
Rated: NR
Release Date: June 14, 2016 

The title and artwork had me in their claws. Eat me up, Terrordactyl.

We begin in semi-vacant truck-stop as an unwitting trucker pulls up for his last rest stop shower or friendly road reach-around; sadly, we’ll never know, as he is the first (an surprisingly one of the few) victims of said “reptiles” of terror. Terrordactyl, you had me with stereotypical trucker gets out of truck finishing bottle of liquor only to reach into back pocket to pull out another bottle of liquor.

But how quickly you lost me. After the brief setup with the trucker and horror [sic] plotline established, we’re introduced to Lars (Christopher John Jennings) and Jonas (Jason Tobias), a would-be pair of lawn renaissance men, hard at work on a Friday. Lars is the driven [sic] boss and Jonas is the ogling the random beauty in a bikini while attempting to MacGuyver the lawn industry sidekick. Lars espouses hard, honest work, while Jonas longs for more than rakes and grass trimmings—clearly though, he’d mind neither grass, nor trim, a point he makes clear when emphasizing that they must get to a bar, after all, it’s what they do EVERY Friday. And good thing they do, because the bar introduces us to the second plot line, the improbable love interest, and the means to bringing our two plotlines together: Bartender Candice (Candice Nunes) to Jonas: Hey Jonas, did you know meteorites are worth big money? Jonas to Candice: No shit. Well shucks, let me find us some meteorites. Later toots. Jonas to Lars: hey Lars, let’s head off into the middle of the desert, drunk, in our pickup truck, and find some meteorites to earn us some true green!

It’s B-movie world, and improbably plot lines like this aren’t beyond acceptance; in fact, beautiful bartenders that actually reciprocate the intereste of their barfly clientele and absurd heroes quests are the stuff that fuel B-movies.  So, when our intrepid [sic] heroes find meteorite-bearing craters and return to the city triumphantly, I’m onboard. When said meteorite is actually a terrordactyle egg, something our woeful heroes remain blissfully ignorant of for far too (and acceptably) long, I’m still riding bareback on terrordactyle glory. When the battle for humanity ensues, with “reptiles” tracking our heroes’ every move as if they’ve implanted GPS tracking devices on their persons, I take it as how the universe works: the bad guys (lizards) always know where you are and no matter how fast you run, they will walk (flutter) and still be your better in speed. This is how the world is! 

The movie is clever, in its way. Scenes are shot in abandoned alleyways, in the early morning glow of golden hour light, or hidden away inside inconvievably empty skyscrapers, explaining the utter lack of human contact along the way, and probably how they managed to get this project completed on their budget. But the filmmakers' creative maneuvers that allow their story to unfold in a coherent fashion also cost the film what should make it great: it’s B-movie staples and true B-movie status. If you explain away the army and any sort of logical manmade defenses against an army of space invading dinosaurs as the result of ‘smart people hiding,’ then surely you must supply ample amounts of dumb people to be readily dismembered. But when Candice proclaims that “thousands are dead” and we’ve only seen two, maybe three people die, we must call bullshit. Mrs. Doubtfire had a higher body count than this.

Then too, while budgeting prowess and creative filmmaking are strengths clearly on display, as tracking shots of empty skies allow for digitally inserted terrordactyls in abundance, missing is the tongue in cheek, clever, and funny dialogue that drives movies like this, movies in the post-Sharknado cinematic universe. If you are to truly create an irrational film, you can’t try to rationalize it within itself, and that’s what it feels like is happening for 95% of the movie. The dialogue is cliché in its everyday redundancy and logical (to the movie) progression. As a connossieur of terrible movies that are so bad they're good, I expect zingers, intentional, or not. I got one that stuck with me. Absent, are the kneejerk reaction moments where I can’t believe they just went there and put that in a movie, direct-to-video or not. Perhaps it’s because the creative duo behind the film is just that, a duo: two men responsible for writing, directing, filming, and inserting the visual effects. Maybe they should have expanded their resources slightly: if two heads are better than one, than surely three are better than two?

As the epic [sic] battle wages (toils) on, a few pleasant surprises are indeed had, including Candice driving an American flag through the gut of one unsuspecting terrordactyle. But again, these moments are few and far between.

What is present are the tropes that I could do with out: a ‘mini-boss’ that just won’t die. A mega-boss that emerges from nowhere when the ‘mini-boss’ finally meets its maker. There’s the mentor figure. There’s the inane female best friend. And there are the purely awful local TV news figureheads. But what other films embrace and do better, Terrordactyls just does adequately.

Maybe I am being too harsh. Like I said, I like this sort of movie. This means I have high expectations, and I’ll admit again that my expectations were set high from the moment I saw the cover artwork and read the title. Dinosaurs versus idiots with machine guns! This movie is going to rule, I thought. Only, it doesn’t. Play to your strengths and know your audience: simple principles that a quick reevaluation of ample dialogue (seriously, this movie contains copious amounts—the cast of five-and-a-half find plenty of time to chitchat without a single gratuitous shower scene or hint of nudity).

Which brings me to another point: maybe Terrordactyl was missing its B-movie chutzbah because it’s a post-modern feminist vehicle posing as pure B-movie drivel! Hear me out internets. Lars and Jonas are merely plot devices for the true heroine to come to face her antagonists. After all, it is Candice that sets the plot in motion with her thorough knowledge of meteorites and all. Additionally, of our four non-mentor (or wise janitor for you Not Another Teen Movie school of thought readers) characters, she is the only one who knows how to handle a gun. Additionally, she does not have sex with anyone or bare her assets. She's also the most level-headed character, and comes out on top of the world having written a book about the experience.

Viewing Terrordactyl from this perspective, Terrordactyl perhaps deserves a 70, only, it's clearly not meant to be, so it gets a 45.

Pros: the CGI is impressive--they are nearly on the level with Jurassic World. Nearly. The cinematography, and I use the term only moderately loosely, is also not to be trifled with. I'm impressed when movies of this ilk begin to look this good.

Cons: you should probably be drinking if you want to laugh.

Line to look out for: "Let's kick some past!"

 

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The 2016 New York Asian Film Festival Is Almost Here

Jun 14 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER and SUBWAY CINEMA Announce Full Lineup for THE 15th NEW YORK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL June 22 – July 9, 2016 Opening Gala is the World Premiere of Kazuya Shiraishi’s Japanese crime epic Twisted Justice; Centerpiece Gala is the North American Premiere of Ralston Jover's Hamog (Haze); and Closing Gala is the International Premiere of Adam Tsuei’s The Tenants Downstairs from Taiwan 51-film festival features spotlights on the cinemas of Hong Kong, South Korean, and Southeast Asia Festival honorees include Lifetime Achievement awardee Iwai Shunji, Screen International Rising Stars Go Ayano, Jelly Lin, andTeri Malvar, and Star Asia Award recipients Miriam Yeung, Lee Byung-hun, and John Lloyd Cruz New York, NY (May, 2016) – The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Subway Cinema announced today the complete lineup for the 15th New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), which will take place from June 22 to July 5 at the Film Society and July 6 to 9 at the SVA Theatre (333 West 23rd Street). North America’s leading festival of popular Asian cinema will showcase 51 feature films, including one World Premiere, one International Premiere, 16 North American premieres, 2 U.S. Premieres, and 14 films making their New York City debuts. Featuring in-person appearances by more than 30 international filmmakers and celebrity guests from Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia. The Opening Night gala will be the World Premiere of Kazuya Shiraishi’s wild crime epic Twisted Justice,based on Yoshiaki Inaba’s autobiography and starring Japan’s hottest actor (and Rising Star honoree) Go Ayano as his country’s most corrupt police detective. The Centerpiece Gala is the North American Premiere of Ralston Jover's Hamog (Haze), an empowering, thrilling and impassioned tale of a gang of street kids, headlined by (Rising Star honoree) Teri Malvar.Closing Night is the International Premiere of Adam Tsuei’s The Tenants Downstairs.Based on a screenplay and story by former NYAFF guest Giddens Ko (You Are the Apple of My Eye), the blackly comic, sexually explicit thriller features Simon Yam as a landlord spying on and manipulating the lives of his tenants. Filmmakers and cast members from the three movies will be in attendance at their respective screenings. "We set out this year to champion a much broader range of Asian cinema," said NYAFFExecutive Director Samuel Jamier. "For example, we are particularly excited by a new breed of noir film, rooted in social issues, that is emerging in both China and Southeast Asia. With these and other selections in the lineup, we want to show that Asian films are still exploring new directions for world cinema." Faithful to its Chinatown roots and central to its lineup, the festival will feature a Hong Kong Panorama, showcasing the most innovative films from the Special Administrative Region, with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York. From a coming-of-age drama about high-school girls who become involved in the sex trade (Lazy Hazy Crazy), to a feel-good baseball movie set within Hong Kong’s public-housing system (Weeds on Fire), to a hard-boiled gangster omnibus (the Johnnie To–produced Triviṣa), these films are revitalizing local genre staples with a fresh spin. The program also includes Nick Cheung’s Keeper of Darkness, Herman Yau’s The Mobfathers, and Adam Wong’s She Remembers, He Forgets. The South Korean Cinema lineup includes a vibrant mix of thrillers (both supernatural and surreal) from first- and second-time directors that are daring twists on genre films (Alone, The Boys Who Cried Wolf, and The Priests), and insightful art-house dramas focusing on social issues from established directors (Jung Ji-woo’s Fourth Place about how much we demand from the next generation, and E J-yong’s The Bacchus Lady about the plight of the country’s abandoned elderly). In co-presentation with the Korean Movie Night New York Master Series,NYAFF will feature the two latest films by Lee Joon-ik, who will attend screenings of Dongju: The Portrait of a Poet (with producer and screenwriter Shin Yeon-shick) and The Throne. Together with Lee Jong-pil’s The Sound of a Flower, the triptych examines the scars of South Korea’s troubled history. The festival’s 11 South Korean films are presented with the support of the Korean Cultural Center New York. NYAFF’s Taiwan Cinema Now! section defies genres with first films by new directors Adam Tsuei (The Tenants Downstairs), Vic Cheng (The Tag-Along), and Lee Chung (The Laundryman) that expand the horizons of the island's genre cinema. The section, presented with the support of the Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York, is completed by two powerful dramas from established filmmakers Tom Lin (Zinnia Flower) and Cheng Wen-tang (Maverick) that explore loss and redemption. Southeast Asian Cinema receives greater focus this year, reflecting how the region is making some of the world’s most innovative films. Highlights include the Tamil-language Jagat (Brutal) from Malaysia, the acutely observed Heart Attack from Thailand, and empowering youth noirHaze (Hamog) from the Philippines. Proving that stars from the region are just as glamorous and talented as their Northern neighbors, we are joined by John Lloyd Cruz, Teri Malvar, Sid Lucero, Gwen Zamora, and Annicka Dolonius (stars of the Philippines’ sensuous surfing dramaApocalypse Child), and Apinya Sakuljaroensuk (from the social-media slasher flick Grace). Special screenings include a full day of films on July 4 from noon until midnight celebrating the indie spirit of Hong Kong cinema. The day will conclude with the hotly anticipated 10 Years, winner of Best Film at the Hong Kong Film Awards, which examines life in Hong Kong in an imaginary future when Cantonese is a second-class language and where the island has completely fallen under Mainland control. Special screenings also include a Founding Fathers Tribute, a focus on the favorite films of the festival’s programmers, from Michael Arias’s madcap animated feature Tekkonkinkreet to Shinya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo: The Iron Man and Pang Ho-cheung’s Love in the Buff starring Miriam Yeung, alongside a Surprise Screening of a contemporary classic that holds special significance to the founders of NYAFF. The 2016 Star Asia Awards honorees are Hong Kong’s Miriam Yeung, the Philippines’ John Lloyd Cruz, and South Korea’s Lee Byung-hun, and all three box-office mega-stars will be in New York in person to discuss their newest films and their careers. Yeung, whose charismatic girl-next-door persona epitomizes the anything-is-possible spirit of Hong Kong, stars in in Adam Wong’s romantic drama She Remembers, He Forgets. The film is her return to the screen after headlining the biggest local hit of 2015, Little Big Master. Cruz, the Philippines’ most popular movie star, who broke box-office records in last year’s romantic drama Second Chance, transforms his image as a father who will do anything in festival selection Honor Thy Father,a powerful crime epic from Erik Matti. Lee, South Korean cinema’s leading man and one of the few to successfully cross over to Hollywood, stars in Inside Men, Woo Min-ho’s takedown of the corruption at the heart of South Korea’s institutions. Lee has been seen in multiple blockbuster action franchises (G.I. Joe, Red 2, Terminator Genisys), is best known for South Korean filmsThe Good, the Bad, the Weird, I Saw the Devil, and Bittersweet Life (by Kim Jee-woon); as well as the tormented soldier in Park Chan-wook’s Joint Security Area and the lowlife-turned-king in Choo Chang-min’s Masquerade.   In addition to the Star Asia Awards, previously announced award recipients include: ·       Lifetime Achievement Award – Iwai Shunji. The first Japanese recipient of the award, he will present his three cinematic epics—Swallowtail Butterfly (1996), All About Lily Chou-Chou(2001), and A Bride for Rip Van Winkle (2016), also starring Ayano—during the festival's opening weekend. Iwai has proven himself one of Asia’s most influential filmmakers since his mid-1990sUndo, Picnic, and Love Letter. He is recognized for capturing the spirit of the times, and stretching the cinematic language of Asian cinema. Despite his early successes, he has continued to reinvent himself, recently directing his first animated feature. ·       Screen International Rising Star Asia Awards – China’s Jelly Lin, Japan’s Ayano Go, and the Philippines’ Teri Malvar. Lin made a powerful debut this year, showcasing her natural comedic skills in Stephen Chow's fish-out-of-water tale (China’s highest-grossing film) The Mermaid; 15-year-old Malvar has already proven herself one of Asia’s most naturally gifted actresses, and stars in festival selection Hamog (Haze), in which her violent street kid character is kidnapped into a twisted household to work as its maid; and Ayano, Japan’s hottest actor of 2016 is being recognized for his chameleon-like range, stars in two of the festival’s key films,Twisted Justice and A Bride for Rip Van Winkle. ·       Daniel A. Craft Award for Excellence in Action Cinema – Yue Song. The Chinese actor, director, and stunt choreographer will be honored for his old-school, balls-to-the-wall instant-classic kung-fu flick The Bodyguard. Yue found fame online by uploading action-packed training videos and short films that became cult hits in China, before making his first feature King of the Street. His new film has found a natural home in our anniversary edition.   Credits: Curated by executive director Samuel Jamier, senior programmer Stephen Cremin, and programmers Rufus de Rham and Claire Marty. The New York Asian Film Festival is co-presented by Subway Cinema and the Film Society of Lincoln Center and takes place from June 22 to July 5 at Film Society’s Walter Reade Theater, and July 6 to 9 at SVA Theatre.Keep up to date with information at www.subwaycinema.com and www.filmlinc.org. Subway Cinema can be followed on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nyaff and Twitter atwww.twitter.com/subwaycinema.FULL LINEUP (51):*Guests in attendance; see next section for complete list CHINA (4):- The Bodyguard (dir. Yue Song, 2016)*- Mr. Six (dir. Guan Hu, 2015)- Saving Mr. Wu (dir. Ding Sheng, 2015)- What’s in the Darkness (dir. Wang Yichun, 2016)*HONG KONG PANORAMA (9):Presented with the support of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York - The Bodyguard (dir. Sammo Hung, 2016) - Keeper of Darkness (dir. Nick Cheung, 2015) - Lazy Hazy Crazy (dir. Luk Yee-sum, 2015) - Love in the Buff (dir. Pang Ho-cheung, 2012) - The Mermaid (dir. Stephen Chow, 2016)* - The Mobfathers (dir. Herman Yau, 2016) w/short Killer and Undercover (dir. Lau Ho-Leung, 2016) - She Remembers, He Forgets (dir. Adam Wong, 2015)* - Triviṣa (dirs. Frank Hui, Jevons Au & Vicky Wong, 2016) * - Weeds on Fire (dir. Chan Chi-fat, 2016) HONG KONG SPECIAL SCREENING (1): - 10 Years (dirs. Kwok Zune, Chow Kwun-wai, Jevons Au, Ng Ka-leung & Wong Fei-pang, 2015)*JAPAN (13):- All About Lily Chou-Chou (dir. Iwai Shunji, 2001)*- A Bride for Rip Van Winkle (dir. Iwai Shunji, 2016)*- Creepy (dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2016)- Hentai Kamen 2: The Abnormal Crisis (dir. Yuichi Fukuda, 2016)- Kiyamachi Daruma (dir. Hideo Sakaki, 2015)- Miss Hokusai (dir. Keiichi Hara, 2015)- Swallowtail Butterfly (dir. Iwai Shunji, 1996)*- Tekkonkinkreet (dir. Michael Arias, 2006)*- Tetsuo: The Iron Man (dir. Shinya Tsukamoto, 1989) - Twisted Justice (dir. Kazuya Shiraishi, 2016) - What a Wonderful Family! (Yoji Yamada, 2016)Plus, an additional two titles to be announced at a later date SOUTH KOREA (11): Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Center New York- Alone (dir. Park Hong-min, 2015)- The Bacchus Lady (dir. E J-yong, 2016)- The Boys Who Cried Wolf (dir. Kim Jin-hwang, 2015)*- Dongju: The Portrait of a Poet (dir. Lee Joon-ik, 2016)*- Fourth Place (dir. Jung Ji-woo, 2015)- Inside Men (dir. Woo Min-ho, 2015)*- The Priests (dir. Jang Jae-hyun, 2015)- Seoul Station (dir. Yeon Sang-ho, 2015)- The Sound of a Flower (dir. Lee Jong-pil, 2015)- The Throne (dir. Lee Joon-ik, 2015)*- A Violent Prosecutor (dir. Lee Il-hyeong, 2016)SOUTHEAST ASIA (7)- Apocalypse Child (dir. Mario Cornejo, 2015)*- Grace (dirs. Ornusa Donsawai & Pun Homchuen, 2016)*- Hamog (Haze) (dir. Ralston Jover, 2015)*- Heart Attack (dir. Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, 2015)- Honor Thy Father (dir. Erik Matti, 2015)*- Jagat (Brutal) (dir. Shanjhey Kumar Perumal, 2015)*- Yellow Flowers on the Green Grass (dir. Victor Vu, 2015)TAIWAN (5):Presented with the support of the Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York - The Laundryman (dir. Lee Chung, 2015)- Maverick (dir. Cheng Wen-tang, 2015)- The Tag-Along (dir. Cheng Wei-hao, 2015)- The Tenants Downstairs (dir. Adam Tsuei, 2016)*- Zinnia Flower (dir. Tom Lin, 2015)   AT THE FILM SOCIETY 6/22, WEDNESDAY - OPENING NIGHT 7:00pm TWISTED JUSTICE 135min 9:30pm Opening Night Party for Ticket Holders 6/23, THURSDAY 6:15pm APOCALYPSE CHILD 95 min +Q&A 9:00pm THE PRIESTS 108 min 6/24, FRIDAY 4:00pm IF CATS DISAPPEARED FROM THE WORLD 100min 6:15pm A BRIDE FOR RIP VAN WINKLE 179min Award 9:45pm SEOUL STATION 92min 6/25, SATURDAY 12:30pm THE LAUNDRYMAN 112min 2:45pm SWALLOWTAIL BUTTERFLY 146min + Q&A 6:15pm LAZY HAZY CRAZY 99min 8:30pm THE BODYGUARD Award + Q&A 90min 11:00pm TETSUO THE IRON MAN 67min 6/26, SUNDAY 12:00pm WHAT A WONDERFUL FAMILY 108min 2:15pm ALL ABOUT LILY CHOU-CHOU 146min + Appearance 5:15pm TEKKONKINKREET 111min 7:30pm BRUTAL (JAGAT) 86min + Appearance 9:30pm MAVERICK 114min 6/27, MONDAY 6:15pm WHAT’S IN THE DARKNESS 98min +Q&A 9:00pm IF CATS DISAPPEARED FROM THE WORLD 100min 6/28, TUESDAY 6:00pm TWISTED JUSTICE 135min + Q&A + award 9:15pm DONGJU 110 min + Q&A 6/29, WEDNESDAY 6:00pm CREEPY 130 min 8:45pm SHE REMEMBERS HE FORGETS 110min + AWARD/Q&A 6/30, THURSDAY 6:00pm LOVE IN THE BUFF 111min + Appearance 8:30pm THE THRONE 125 min + Appearance 7/1, FRIDAY 3:30pm TOO YOUNG TO DIE 125m 6:00pm THE BACCHUS LADY 110min 8:15pm HAZE 100min Award + Q&A 7/2, SATURDAY 1:00pm YELLOW FLOWERS ON GREEN GRASS 103min 3:05pm FOURTH PLACE 116min 5:30pm THE MERMAID 94min Award + Q&A 8:15pm HONOR THY FATHER 115min Award + Q&A 7/3, SUNDAY 12:30pm THE TAG-ALONG 93min 2:30pm MISS HOKUSAI 90min 4:30pm ZINNIA FLOWER 95min 6:30pm HEART ATTACK 125min 9:00pm GRACE + Q&A 90min 7/4, MONDAY 12:00pm THE BODYGUARD 99min 2:10pm WEEDS ON FIRE 95min 4:15pm TRIVISA 97min 6:30pm THE MOBFATHERS w/ short KILLER AND UNDERCOVER 104min 9:00pm 10 YEARS + Q&A 104min 7/5, TUES 6:00pm KIYAMACHI DARUMA 115min 8:30pm INSIDE MEN 130min Award +Q&A SVA THEATER 7/6, WEDNESDAY  6:30pm ALONE 90min 8:30pm HENTAI KAMEN 2 117min 7/7, THURSDAY 6:15pm SOUND OF A FLOWER 109min 8:30pm MR. SIX 136min 7/8, FRIDAY 6:15pm A VIOLENT PROSECUTOR 126min 8:40pm 15th ANNIVERSARY SURPRISE SCREENING 96min 7/9, SATURDAY  12:00pm KEEPER OF DARKNESS 103min 2:15pm BOYS WHO CRIED WOLF 80min 4:00pm SAVING MR WU 106min 6:15pm TOO YOUNG TO DIE 125min 9:00pm THE TENANTS DOWNSTAIRS + Q&A
NYAFF 2016 photo
June 22 through July 9th

Is it really that time again already? Wow. Apparently it is. NYAFF time. For the past five years, we have been covering the latest and greatest Asian films as brought to us by the swell folks at Subway Cinema, and this year is going to be no different. Between June 22nd (next Wednesday) and July 9th (some subsequent Saturday), more than 50 films from  China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and a handful of Southeast Asian countries will be screened at either the Walter Reade Theater at the Film Society of Lincoln Center or the SVA Theater.

There's some really cool looking stuff this year, and I have it on good authority that the Southeast Asian films in particular are really interesting this year. I'm excited to check all of this out, and of course we'll be bringing you coverage of the festival, letting you know what to check out, either at the festival now or if/when (hopefully the latter) it gets some kind of broader release.

The full press release and screening schedule can be found below. More information can be found at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's website, where you can also purchase tickets for both the Walter Reade and SVA theater screenings.

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See Central Intelligence early and free

Jun 14 // Matthew Razak
DCTuesday, June 14 - 7:30pmAMC Mazza Gallerie5300 Wisconsin Ave. NWWashington, DC 20015Ticket Link: www.wbtickets.com/MOraK20491<http://www.wbtickets.com/MOraK20491BaltimoreTuesday, June 14 - 7:30pmCinemark Egyptian7000 Arundel Mills CircleHanover, MD  21076Ticket Link: www.wbtickets.com/EsAxK73664<http://www.wbtickets.com/EsAxK73664RichmondTuesday, June 14 - 7:30pmRegal Short Pump 1411650 W Broad StreetRichmond, VA  23233Ticket Link: www.wbtickets.com/StOfo69492<http://www.wbtickets.com/StOfo69492
Screenings photo
DC, Baltimore and Richmond screenings

Dwayne Johnso makes things good. He's just fun to watch so I have some hope for Central Intelligence being funny. It's clearly a bit hackneyed, but it could work. You can find out if it'll work with some passes for a screening tonight. Just head below and click the links.

Get there early so you can get seats and then come back and tell us all about it. 

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Moana Trailer photo
Favorite film of 2016, calling it now

Disney's animation studio has been on a Pixar like roll lately with Frozen, Big Hero 6, and Zootopia netting huge critical and financial success. Their newest princess film Moana already blows those films out of the water. 

This teaser is short, but there's so much here. Dwayne Johnson is the focus as the demigod Maui, it features our first look at the new Polynesian princess Moana (featuring newcomer, 14 year old Auli’i Cravalho), reveals the score will take influence from Broadway heavyweight Lin Manuel-Miranda, and it's absolutely gorgeous. 

Moana hits theaters November 23rd. 

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MST3K contest photo
I don't care! (No, but I do)

The MST3K Reunion show on June 28th promises to be a swell time. It brings together the great bad-movie riffers from the Joel and Mike eras of the show as well as new host Jonah Ray. Tickets for the actual event in Minneapolis are sold out, but there's a contest that can get you there.

The RiffTrax Live: MST3K Reunion Flyaway Sweepstakes will provide 2 tickets to the live event as well as $2500 in gift cards to cover flights and hotel accommodations.

That's better than hamdingers. (Hamdingers not included.)

In addition to the big sweepstakes, RiffTrax is giving away free tickets to the Fathom Events screenings of the MST3K Reunion in your city.

That's also better than hamdingers, folks. (Hamdingers also not included.)

For more information about the RiffTrax Live Sweepstakes to be there in Minneapolis, click here.

To win tickets to the MST3K Reunion Show at your local theater, click here.

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Warcraft box office photo
Oh baby, just you shut your mouth

Universal may have been right to think that Warcraft was a problem movie. No, not because Duncan Jones made Generic Fantasy Film: The Movie. Depending on how you look at it, Warcraft is either a Universal boondoggle or a marginal success.

At the domestic box office, Warcraft opened at #2 with just $24.35 million at the box office, which is crummy for a movie with a $160 million budget. It was trounced by The Conjuring 2, which scared up $40.35 million in ticket sales.

However, the international gross for Warcraft was hefty, drawing in $261.7 million, for a total worldwide gross of $286 million. Warcraft did the bulk of its business in China, where it earned a staggering $144.7 million; Variety placed its four-day Chinese opening gross as high as $156 million.

For scale, Warcraft's Chinese box office is the equivalent of 1 million gryphon aviaries, though I haven't accounted for the cost of lumber.

Tracking Warcraft's box office in the coming week should be interesting, particularly if the Chinese market can push the film out of the red and into the black. What did you guys think of Warcraft? Let us know in the comments.

[via Variety, Box Office Mojo]

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Review: The Conjuring 2

Jun 10 // Nick Valdez
[embed]220610:42965:0[/embed] The Conjuring 2Directors: James WanRating: RRelease Date: June 10, 2016  Inspired by the events of the Enfield Poltergeist in 1970s London, and six years after the events of the first film, Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren find themselves in London where single mother Peggy (Frances O' Connor) and her four children are experiencing paranormal activity in their home. When the youngest, Janet (Madison Wolfe), begins acting strangely and claims to be the home's deceased previous owner, Ed and Lorraine are dispatched by the church to prove whether or not there's actually a spirit in their home. But in that search, darkness from the Warren's past comes back to wreck things for everyone.  As a sequel, Conjuring 2 makes a few interesting choices. First of all, it's left behind the metaphysical horrors of the first film and instead chooses a more physical force for the Warrens to combat with. In comparison, the only physical interaction the Warrens had with a ghost in the first film were a few things flying around the finale's exorcism. With a physical force resembling something from Wan's other well known horror series, Insidious, Conjuring 2 is directed with a more action heavy flow. The film's opening scene, which is the most important, tone establishing scene of any horror film, is punctuated by snaps so loud and at such a high frequency the scene loses the terror momentum. It abuses the "jump scare" (a sudden appearance of something punctuated by a loud noise) so much it exaggerates the action of the scene rather than revel in the horror. That's not necessarily a bad thing since the rest of the film adapts to this newer, more heightened pace and tone, but there's definitely a loss.  The newer direction undervalues the film's particularly creepy visuals. Now that there is something concrete to defeat, the tension comes from whether or not the Warrens can defeat the foe rather than the poltergeist in question getting under the audience's skin. Wan directs the brunt of the film's fear factor toward its characters and thus makes it "less scary" overall to the audience. It's fulfilling the need for suspense (and does make for a more gripping film once it gets going), but backs away from true terror. I am also not sure why it's rated R to begin with since most of the film's horror visuals are toned down in favor of this new, more exciting direction. This is also the reason comparisons to the first film are apt since it tends to cruise through the same plot points, hoping this new tone would make the story different. But try as it might to change itself, The Conjuring 2 never fully commits to either direction. It loses horror for its action, but never makes that action as compelling as it could be.  Conjuring 2 is just confused. What's most interesting about this confusion is that it births interesting elements where a more focused take would have benefited. When Wan truly dives into the horror setting, you get some unique and revelatory sequences (like with the upside down crosses or the painting scene). But it is in between horror build up that lacks the necessary pace to keep the film enthralling until the Warrens get there. For a chunk of the film I found myself waiting for the Warrens to pop in again rather than being creeped out by the setting. With such a confused take, nothing in the film quite grabs. The setting, the plot, and every character but Ed and Lorraine are entirely unremarkable. But when the Warrens finally show up to do some things, the film's action-y pace takes hold and it gets a shot in the arm.  Since The Conjuring 2 loses its horror focus, it is not too compelling when an action isn't taking place. But in that same breath, there are enough unique individual elements to make it enjoyable overall. To put it bluntly, the first film was "scarier" but the sequel handles itself better. It makes the kind of choices with its direction that serve to better the series moving forward.  To think we will get a series where an exorcist couple throws witty banter back and forth as they fight demons three or four films from now. There is just too much potential to miss. 
The Conjuring 2 Review photo
Conjures a good time

The Conjuring became quite the hidden gem when it was released three years ago. A nostalgic return to classic horror haunting roots, it breathed new life into the genre by shifting the focus to paranormal hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren (who also coincidentally have a cacophony of adaptable stories) as they fought metaphysical horrors. Naturally, the success gave way to a sequel. 

In a landscape where horror sequels are produced annually for a quick buck, The Conjuring 2 is refreshing once again. Although it follows many of the same beats as the original, this sequel took a step back and decided to go in a new, more action-oriented direction. And folks, this franchise (and believe me, there should be more) is all the better for it. 

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Stranger Things photo
Like old school Spielberg made a TV show

When J.J. Abrams delivered Super 8 to us I reveled in its unabashed homage of classic Spielberg adventure films. I kind of wondered why it hadn't kicked off a bit of a renaissance of the 1980s supernatural film, but alas it was not to be. Thankfully, Netflix is in the business of making my dreams come true so we have Stranger Things.

Starring Winona Rider and a cast of intrepid, adventuring kids the show comes from the creators of Wayward Pines so you know it's going to be at least a little weird. From this first look it definitely looks like the wonder-filled 80s Spielberg movies we all loved with maybe a dash more of horror. The only hiccup I'm seeing is that the series is run by Sean Levy, who doesn't have the best track record aside from the original Night at the Museum. Hopefully he can bring some of the childhood wonder that he brought to that movie to this new series.

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Review: Warcraft

Jun 08 // Matthew Razak
[embed]220615:42967:0[/embed] WarcraftDirector: Duncan Jones Rated: PG-13Release Date: June 8, 2016  I will say off the bat that I have not been involved in the Warcraft universe in many years, and even then only with the RTS games, but I'm assuming that there's a very in depth, thought out and complicated world in place by now. It may help the film a lot if you know about this world, but coming from an outsider's eyes the world of Warcraft (sorry) feels hollow and cliche. Maybe that's because the game's basis was originally much the same, but however the game's world has evolved the movie can't capture it, and it's commitment to trying to do that may be it's greatest weakness. We open on some impressively done CGI and motion capture orcs as we're introduced to Durotan (Toby Kebell), a chieftain who has reservations about the obviously-evil Gul-dan's plan to use a an evil green magic gate to invade the human world as the orc's world is dying. Evil plan executed, a small team of elite orc warriors, some corrupted by said evil green magic, enter the human world and begin to build a new gate so as to open a path for the rest of the orcs. The humans (and other Alliance creatures) quickly realize they're being attacked and call upon  powerful magic being The Guardian (Ben Foster) to help protect them. Things are amiss, however, and the battle rages on with knight Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel), magic guy Llane Wryne and sexy orc hybrid Garona (Paula Patton) taking the lead in orc killing.  The overarching premise is that there are good orcs out there. Durotan attempts to broker a peace with the humans as he realizes that Gul-dan's magic is evil and is what caused the death in the orc home world. It's clear this theme of telling both sides of a war is what Jones really wanted to do with the film, and at points he almost succeeds. There's a very interesting Game of Thrones political fantasy buried deep in Warcraft, but it never gets the chance to see the light of day. Warcraft has a pretty slavish dedication to the look and feel of the games, and that does it no favors. Instead of the awe-inspiring vistas of The Lord of the Rings the overall look of the film feels cheap. Armor and costume design feel like they were pulled out of a high-schooler's math class doodles, which, in fairness, most likely would be influenced by World of Warcraft. Sets are often small and fake looking and overall it just feels very cheap, like we're watching something out of early 00s SyFy. You've seen almost all of this before and done better.  It's especially odd because for the most part the orc stuff is absolutely fantastic. Character design, animation and setting all feel fresh and interesting. The motion capture and CGI technology for the orcs is spot on, though can sometimes hit the uncanny valley really, really hard. When that combines with the plastic-looking human world the entire affair feels like a shell of a fantasy world: empty except for pretty pictures and ideas too big to be executed well. The screenplay is unfortunately unbalanced as well. At points it actually shines, and you can see Jones' skills with handling genre material with a deft touch. The next moment its as clunky as as the massive orcs who are speaking it. Characters and their motivations get picked up and dropped as easily as the plethora of human knights thrown about by orcs. Massive plot points are glazed over and world creation often feels as if it was forgotten. Part of this stems from the film seeming to assume that we all have a basic foundation in Warcraft lore and part of it stems from the fact that sequels are blatantly already in the works. The story starts to stretch thin by the end and the conclusion really stops making much sense. It is far from the worst fantasy story ever put to screen by miles, but it never rings with the emotional power of truly great fantasy film making.  Jones does his best with his direction. It's easy to get into the action as he weaves together some impressive battle sequences, even using some top down aerial shots to reflect Warcraft's RTS roots. He actually does some really cool stuff that makes the film fun to watch even when it's not working as well as it could. It's just another way that glimpses of what the movie could be break out before being buried under the hollowness of it all. Have I used the term hollow enough? Warcraft isn't really a bad movie, it's a hollow one. It's surprisingly well executed visually at times, but there's nothing behind the pretty pictures. Its story is actually intriguing, but it never feels important. Its characters have depth to them, but it's never shown. Its not a mess because there is nothing to spill. The world of Warcraft (sorry, again) is a big, pretty, empty shell. 
Warcraft photo
Not one reference to Leeroy Jenkins

When Warcraft (then World of Warcraft) was first announced with Sam Raimi directing, I thought that was pretty perfect. Raimi has a deft touch for handling things that are slightly absurd. His almost tongue-in-cheek direction would fit nicely with some high fantasy.

Then he left and Duncan Jones came in, and my brain got confused, but also intrigued. Jones, best known for Moon, wasn't a big blockbuster director, though he clearly knows how to imbue genre films with something more than you'd expect. Things were definitely looking interesting.

They didn't turn out that way.

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Watch the trailer for Man vs Snake, which may be this year's King of Kong

Jun 06 // Hubert Vigilla
Yup, there's Billy Mitchell and Walter Day. So begins the Twin Galaxies Cinematic Universe. Here's a synopsis for Man vs Snake. MAN VS SNAKE tells the story of Tim McVey who, in 1984, on a single quarter (and over 44 hours of non-stop play) was the first person in history to score over one billion points on a video game. 25 years later, rumors of a higher score surface online, attributed to Italian kickboxing champion Enrico Zanetti. This calls into question everything Tim McVey has believed for decades and forces him to make a decision: either set a new world record, or risk losing his legacy forever. If you ever played the game "Snake" on your early model Nokia cellphone, then you're familiar with "Nibbler," the original "snake" game. Man vs Snake will be out on various VOD platforms on June 24th. You can also catch the movie at select screenings in the coming months. For more information, visit manvssnake.com. [via /Film]
Man vs Snake trailer photo
Diabetes of Justice

King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters was highly entertaining (even though the filmmakers fudged a lot of the facts). Much of that was thanks to the clash of personalities between Billy Mitchell and Steve Wiebe and the obsessive world of high scores and classic arcade gaming.

Now we have Man vs Snake, which covers another arcade world record, this time for Nibbler. A man who scored 1 billion points is trying for glory again.

Give it a watch below.

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Pacific Rim 2 photo
Twist: he's playing a Kaiju

Man, did I want a Pacific Rim 2 to happen. Not because I especially loved the first one, but because I thought it wasted a ton of potential that a second move could capitalize on. It didn't look like we ever would see a sequel until suddenly we were and it had a director... and now it has a big name actor. Star Wars: The Force Awaken's John Boyega is leading the cast and will be playing Idris Elba's character's son. 

We really don't know much about the plot of the movie other than it will definitely have giant robots fighting monsters. We're not even sure if Elba will be back, though the casting of his son before announcement that he'll be returning makes me feel like he may have died somewhere between the two films. Guillermo del Toro also refers to Boyega as the leading man so that's another bit of a nail in the Elba-returning coffin. Plus, he's super busy with The Dark Tower

Hopefully his casting puts a few more butts in theater seats this time so that the franchise can grow even more.

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Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Jun 03 // Matthew Razak
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the ShadowsDirector: Dave GreenRated: PG-13Release Date: June 3, 2016] If you saw the first move you know that the films definitely bumped up the realism of the turtle design, and threw in a sexy April O'Neil (Megan Fox). The basics of the turtles are still the same, though. We find Leonardo trying his best to learn how to lead; Donatello acting all nerdy; Raphael having temper issues; and Michelangelo providing comic relief and pizza. The Shredder escapes from imprisonment with the help of Dr. Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry) and opens up a portal to another world where Krang, an evil brain housed in a robot body, strikes a deal to bring his Technodrome to Earth. Meanwhile, Casey Jones (Stephen Armell) shows up to beat up bad guys as well, like the new created Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (wrestler Sheamus). It's a plot so contrived  and cliche (*cough* Avengers *cough*) and stupid it feels torn right from a Saturday morning cartoon, and in this case I just can't be angry at that. When the first film worked it was when it was focusing on the turtles themselves and this is once again true here. Despite a clunkly script that basically tells the actors to say every emotion they're feeling out loud, the filmmakers once again nail the ninja turtles themselves. While their character arc is simply a retread of the original's plotline (brothers argues, brothers come back together to fight bad guy), it plays well thanks to some great motion capture performances and a general feel for the characters. It's fun to watch Mikey crack wise while Raph gets angry and stomps off. They also surprisingly nail Bepop and Rocksteady, making the two as comically idiotic as they are in the cartoon, and pushing the kid-geared humor up a notch (fart jokes, slapstick, etc.) At it's base the movie just gets the turtles and villains, even if it's attempts at almost everything else are ham-fisted.  Well, that's not entirely true. Much like the first movie the action sequences in this are pretty impressive. Possibly thanks to the entirely CGI makeup of its heroes the move pulls some ridiculous stuff off including a fight in an cargo plane that's fantastic. The turtles don't get to show off as much of their actual ninja fighting skills this time around, but the big action set pieces are a blast to watch. Plus, the turtle van makes an appearance so that was my childhood dreams come true. This is director Dave Green's first big action film, and at points it's clear he needs some practice getting action to flow together, but there's promise there and an eye for what makes action work.  Outside of the turtles things are a little rougher. Megan Fox's April seems to have only made it into the movie for exposition and eye candy, the latter of which is a bit contradictory to the clear target audience of the movie. Armell's Casey Jones is charming enough, but that's really only because Armell is charming, not because of the character himself. The screenplay does no favors to either character passing most of the good lines over to Will Arnett, returning as Vernon Fenwick. Somehow Laura Liney also accidentally accepted a role in the film. I think she may have been drugged, but it's pretty clear she doesn't want to be there. Out of the Shadows doesn't quite work as well as its predecessor overall, either. It's very clear that now that they've got the green light to move forward with the series they want to make their own ninja turtle universe. Baxter, Krang and Shredder are all set up for returns, which is great, but the problem is the the film sometimes feels like its playing for the future instead of focusing on the film itself. That's pretty evident in the movies piecemeal plot and often overbearing exposition.  Still, when it comes down to seeing the ninja turtles in action the movie delivers. While many of the same issues that the first film had are still present, and at times worse, Out of the Shadows delivers the team of mutants as they've should be. It's a fun, if not entirely well executed, bit of cinema that's geared not towards the elder nostalgia nerds, but the children who it probably should be. 
TMNT photo
These aren't your turtles

When the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot happened I was mostly just worried since I'm of the age where I like to pretend that my generation can lay claim to the heroes in a half shell. But that's pretty ridiculous considering almost every generation since the 80s cartoon has had its own version of the pizza eating reptiles. TMNT is for every kid out there, and as it turned out I didn't need to be too worried as the reboot film was actually quite a bit of fun.

Now they're back again, as you literally can't stop this franchise from happening, and I'm once again reminded that, while I still love the turtles they're not made for me. It's actually kind of refreshing to watch a big summer blockbuster based on a beloved children's cartoon still play towards kids. Out of the Shadows may be a big lump of nonsense, but it's playing to its audience and it does it well.

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Review: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Jun 03 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]220607:42964:0[/embed] Popstar: Never Stop Never StoppingDirectors: Jorma Taccone, Akiva SchafferRelease Date: June 3, 2016Rating: R Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is a mockumentary, and a great one at that. Following, primarily, the story of Conner 4 Real, a member of the Style Boyz, who broke off on his own after a fight with whoever Akiva Schaffer played. (Not gonna lie, I don't remember his character's name or Jorma Taccone's; then again, I probably wouldn't remember Conner's if it hadn't been seared into my retina from the repeated viewings of "Finest Girl.") Anyways, he's got a documentary being made about his life to coincide with the release of his second album. People went crazy for the first one, and now he's trying to top it, by hiring a metric fuckton of producers and making something that just... doesn't work. (Except to me, obviously. I thought it was all gold, but I understand why the fictional humans in this mockumentary might not take to it.) This is the first mockumentary I've seen in a while, or at least the first one I remember seeing. It was big for a while and then kinda fell by the wayside. I get that. The joke can get stale pretty quickly, which makes Popstar's brisk, 90-ish minute runtime perfect. There's enough variety to keep you entertained but not so much stuff that it ever feels padded or overlong. The only jokes that go on are the ones where that is, in fact, the joke, and the film only goes to that well a couple times (i.e. not enough to be irritating or gratuitous).  One of the potential issues with the format is that there are only so many places it can go. And, sure enough, from the moment Popstar begins, you can (successfully) guess every single story beat. Nothing about the narrative is even sort of surprising... but so what? For a film from The Lonely Island, that's pretty much exactly what I wanted. I wanted something that felt good and comfortable and also made me laugh while putting some new music into my head to obsess over for a little while. And the film absolutely succeeded on both those counts. The "Finest Girl" song actually plays a big early role in the film, and it was kinda cool for me to see how much different and also the same the "In Concert" version of the song was compared to the music video. And I loved his song about Equal Rights (I'm so excited for when that hits Spotify), being Humble (which is already there), the Mona Lisa (ditto), and everything else. Seriously, the music here is just stellar from start to finish. If this was actually just a concert film, I would still have loved it. [When this was written, the album hadn't hit Spotify yet. It's now up, but the Equal Rights song is not available. Which is hot garbage. - Ed] But there's more to it. It's a damning indictment of our modern pop culture and the way we treat our stars. (Sort of.) Conner gets big, in part, because he connects directly with fans. He records himself brushing his teeth and posts it. Everything is out there for the world to see. As someone who watches at least a couple of Youtubers consistently, it really struck a chord not just because it was funny but because it was real. Everything about the way his persona goes from public idol to public ridicule feels genuine, even if it's turned up to 11. So many moments are exaggerated versions of real headlines. (The music-in-your-appliances dig at Apple and U2? Spot on.) It's a parody of modern music, but it's also a celebration of the same. You can tell that everyone involved is genuinely enjoying what they're doing. This extends to an expectedly large cast of cameos, who really help sell the whole thing. The likes of Usher, Nas, and A$AP Rocky all help to ground the film in a bizarre alternate reality, and every one of them puts in a killer performance. I don't really want to ruin all the cameos, and we're not talking Muppets-level stuff here, but it's a pretty packed group, many (if not most) of whom are playing themselves. Usher is particularly compelling, and when says that it was the Style Boyz who made him want to start dancing, for just a moment, I totally believed him. Because, like, duh. The Donkey Roll is an awesome dance. How could it not inspire Usher to become Usher?  It's been a good Spring for comedies. Between The Boss (which I liked, despite knowing that no one else does), Neighbors 2 (which Nick didn't like but is awesome), and The Nice Guys (which isn't as good as Neighbors 2 and has some issues with the way it handles the "hilarity" of death but is the most genuinely original comedy I've seen in a while), there's been a lot to recommend. And though I recommend all those films, to varying degrees, Popstar stands above. This is The Lonely Island at the top of their, years after leaving SNL and mostly dropping off the map. They're back and as good as (if not better than) ever. If you don't like The Lonely Island, this film won't convince you to. But if you do, you're going to love each and every moment.
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Amazing 4 Real

A couple weeks ago was the finale for the forty-first season of Saturday Night Live. At one point, fairly late in the show, a familiar title screen came up: "An SNL Digital Short" For people who loved everything from "Lazy Sunday" to "Spring Break Anthem," it was pretty exciting. What began was "Finest Girl (Bin Laden Song)," arguably one of the best songs that The Lonely Island has put together. I was so excited by the song that I proceeded to watch the video on Youtube a dozen times in a row and then, once it hit Spotify, just let it run on repeat. It was fantastic.

So let's be clear: I went into Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping a major fan of the team behind it. It had the potential to be a double-edged sword, though: If it was good, I'd love it. But if it was disappointing? Well, I would be crushed and probably hate it as a result.

I needn't have worried.

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Because people love clowns

The last time Stephen King's "It" was adapted to film, I was still in diapers (i.e. I was 10). The book was made into a two night television event which was largely forgettable outside of Tim Curry's epic performance as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Fast-forward 26 years and I'm still of that same opninon, so understandably, when New Line announced they were creating an adaptation in 2012, it meant those were some big shoes to fill, and not just because they're clown shoes.

Bill Skarsgard is now signed to play It/Clown/creature-from-another-dimension and I've got to say, being that Bill Skarsgard's biggest claim to fame is the Divergent series, I am worried. He's not his brother, Alex, aka that vampire Eric from True Blood. Then again, he does have the right sort of look for it. Big red nose. Pasty white skin. Perfect.

When Flixist reported on the adaptation back in 2012, the working theory was that they'd make the book into two movies, one that deals with one timeline as the main characters are children, and a second that deals with them as adults, when they return to Derry, Maine to finish the job. Turns out we guess good. Real good. Look for two movies, the first to arrive September 8, 2017.

Look for your nightmares to return, shortly thereafter: you will never look at a storm drain the same way, again.

[Via Variety]

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Must... not... make... marvelous pun

Things are going well for Brie Larson. She got that Oscar thing last year and now it looks like she'll be landing one of those coveted superhero role things. Those tend to make actors a lot of  money. Larson is reportedly the front runner for the role of Marvel's first female-centered film,Captain Marvel. While nothing is confirmed Variety reports that the actress is leaning towards accepting the gig and she is Marvel's first choice for the role.

As casting goes I like this one. Larson obviously has the acting chops, but more importantly the casting lends to more thoughtful and character-driven film. While there's still no director attached to the movie Inside Out's scribe Meg LeFauve and Guardians of the Galaxy write Nicole Perlman are currently developing the screenplay

Any big Captain Marvel fans out there? What do you think of the casting?

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Review: X-Men: Apocalypse

Jun 02 // Rick Lash
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My mind had accepted I’d not be seing X-Men: Apocalypse in theaters. I hadn’t seen X-Men: First Class, or X-Men: Days of Future Past in theaters, and I usually see comic book movies in theaters. Go big or go home. Ultimately, I enjoyed both, even if I may have seen Days of Future Past on a bootlegged copy (can’t be sure). 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand had just left such a bad taste in my mouth I had transcended seeing X-Men movies in the theater. I’m glad that fate had other plans for me and that I saw Apocalypse on the big screen, lounging in a plush recliner, eating zero popcorn, for I am adhering to a diet that allows coffee and water as the go to accouterments for moviegoing experiences. That was about the only downside to the experience: X-Men Apocalypse is a visual and auditory feast. 

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X-Men: Apocalypse
Director: Bryan Singer
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: May 27, 2016 

The events of Apocalypse take place ten years after the events of Future Past (the Past part), but the film begins in 3600 BCE in a beautifully imagined and designed reconstruction of ancient Egypt. How can events 5,600 years in the past possibly be releveant? We are dealing with an X-Men movie, after all, and that means mutants, and in this case it means a mutant who has found immortality. The scene, accentuated by a brilliant soundtrack, sets up the rise of this immortal all-powerful mutant Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) as the main antagonist to do battle with our intrepid X-Men in the future (present, or, 1983).

Cue up the eighties, captured in appropriate homage whenever possible, accentuated by the long hair and clothing that defined the decade (maybe even more now in nostalgia than in reality). The movie weaves three-lines together: there’s the assembling of the new X-Men at Xavier’s School for the Gifted (now just students with extraordinary abilities, no longer warriors); there’s Apocalypse’s quest to find his “four horsemen,” disciples who protect him with their ultimate powers; and then there’s X-Men cornerstone, Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and her pursuit of mutant freedom and equal rights.

Of course, Mystique’s course aims her back towards the X-Men as two revelations happen almost concurrently. First, Magneto (Michael Fassbender) has emerged from isolation after 10 years. He’d been living the good life of working in a smelting factory, having a wife, and daughter, and generally keeping his head down while avoiding anything mutant and confrontations. You think he’s learned from the last two films. You would be wrong. When things go wrong in his life, he goes wrong and is back to his usual hijinks. Secondly, in trying to locate Magneto, Professor Xavier and Mystique inadvertently locate Apocalypse and discover that his aim is his namesake: the end of the world as we know it. Or the end of the world for humans and the rise of mutants. Of course Magneto would be drawn to this message!

Ultimately, the X-Men, reformed, do battle with Apocalypse and his horsemen; choices are made and shit gets real. No spoilers here: I want you to see this movie. I don’t think it’s getting the fanfare it deserves. It’s not quite at the level of Captain America: Civil War, but it’s close, and I would argue that visually, its more stunning. Meticulous attention was paid to every detail and it shows. There were only one or two moments when I found the effects to be less than flawless, and that may have only been a reflection of my having seen it in 3D, which coincidentally, the film looks great in.

The cast has expanded to include Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones) as Jean Grey, Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler, Ben hardy as Angel (Archangel), Alexandra Shipp as Storm, and Olivia Munn as Psylocke. Nightcrawler and Angel and Storm far surpass earlier iterations of the characters, a benefit of taking the characters to their pasts where young talent can take the place of established names—it works and it works well. I’ve never been a fan of minimalizing the talent pool in Hollywood so that the same three dozen actors star in and voice every character in live and animated work and for a director and studio to embrace new talent that embodies a well-defined character role is refreshing. Shipp and Munn, in particular, kill it. While the scale of the movie demands limited attention to their roles as established characters and plot demand more screen time, they maximized their impact with what they were given. Purely, brilliant casting.

And while on that topic, let’s give credence to Michael Fassbender. When we first see him, gone is the arrogance of Magneto from earlier appearances. He owns the family man as he has owned the villain. The character is prone to irrational reversals of opinion precipitated by the slightest of urgings from someone else, but Fassbender does what he must with the absurdity and owns all moments.

Evan Peters is back as Quicksilver, who fans know as Magneto’s son, and who finally embraces this fact in this movie. He seems to exist to allow action sequences that are beautiful and fun to watch unfold on screen, but that serve no true purpose other than to fill quotas and screen time. It’d be nice if he were given more true purpose, though his expanded role since the last film was appreciated.

Also back are James McAvoy as Professor X, Nicholas Hoult as Beast, and Lawrence, who are all adequate, if not replicas of their own earlier turns. McAvoy does finally own the role that Patrick Stewart perfected in the original trilogy when he shaves his head—the sign that all true movie stars have reached the pinnacle of their acting careers. An actor’s hair is their livelihood, after all.

Finally, let’s give a round of applause to Bryan Singer for staying at the helm after returning for Days of Future Past. Singer bore the comic book movie into the modern era with 2000’s X-Men, before even Spidey crushed box office numbers with 2002’s Spider-man. He then made it great with X2: X-Men United. And lastly, he abandoned it to lesser talent (sorry Ratner) with The Last Stand (thankfully it turned out to be only one of many stands as the new films saved the franchise by restarting it). These last two X-Men movies have been real spectacles, but also fully enjoyable rides. It’s great to have him back at the helm.

Some notes:

This movie is by and large more violent than past X-Men movies. Perhaps Deadpool finally paved the way for comic book movies to mirror the comics they sprung from. But it works. When they pull it back and swords never pierce another person, you become incredulous, and really, I was only incredulous at one point (we’ll get there in a moment).

Apocalypse really, really likes pyramids. I get that he had one 5,600 years ago. Architecture still had a ways to go, as did technology, but why build another now when he has absorbed all human (and mutant) knowledge? Well, they broke his old one and now he’s gonna get himself a new one anyhow and you can’t stop him, na-na-na-na!

There’s a great cameo from another staple, and he too proved, like Singer in the director’s seat, that he owns this role.

Stay tuned to the very end of the credits for a hidden scene, for true comic fans, it’s worth the wait (as the credits are not short … all these effects take a lot of collaboration!).

As Singer has taken ownership of the franchise again, and as events of the new trilogy are approaching events of the own, he is able to pay homage to his own work and begin to make the worlds mirror each other. We’re heading for something good here, folks.

Finally, for the incredulous, and it is one of my only qualms, if you can call it that even as I was pretty busy enjoying myself: why, if Apocalypse augments the powers of his horsemen by amplifying them with his own does only Magneto get crazy out of this world powers. I mean, he can now pull all of the metal around the entire planet, at the same time, while Angel gets shiny wings, and the two women get fancy bikinis. I found this odd, unless Apocalypse just likes having chicks in bikinis around him—they could have set that up in the Egypt scene with some great bikini hieroglyphics on the pyramid walls. Magneto’s powers were almost too unbelievable, even for the realm. And that’s a problem, but it was one of the only ones I saw, and that’s a big win. 

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Back in September, we let all our readers that love strange bag ladies who hand out drugs to kids know that Disney had heard their pleas and decided to release a 2nd "Marry Poppins." (I mean, seriously, she's been Poppin' pills since 1934!)

Well now they've cast Emily Blunt as Pablo Escobar with a magic umbrella the titular Mary Poppins. Be prepared to go on some zany, spoonful-of-sugar induced trips, kids.

Look for the story to draw from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as well as The Necronimicon the seven other Marry Poppins books written by P.L. Travers from 1934 to 1988.

What I'm super, super stoked about though, is the inevitable crossover franchise between Mary Poppins and Nanny McPhee, in a battle royal to the death! (Think "Aliens vs Predators", but with magic nannies, or Highlander, there can be only one, yada! Same difference.)

2018: POPPINS v McPHEE

[Via Variety]

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Tell us something we didn't know

In the interest of fairness, journalistic integrity, and the pursuit of happiness, I will admit that I've not seen the Liongsgate CEO, Jon Feltheimer, actually say The Divergent Series: Allegiant is terrible. Or even bad. Rather, what's being widely circulated in film circles is that he admitted in a conversation with Wall Street analysts that the studio may have rushed the film's development and production to hit a date. It's unspoken, sure, but it's there. Trash. Thanks for telling us something we don't know, Jon: the film was already basking in the glory of a 12% rotten critics rating on Rottentomatoes.com (including a hearty 0% from top critics--a distinction it shares with other champions of the film world like: The Ridiculous 6, Jaws: The Revenge, Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2, and Look Who's Talking Now!--in other words, films and sequels that should never have been made).

But the box office numbers should have told Lionsgate what we already know. The film had a $29 million bow its opening weekend, down from an average of $53 million for its predecessors. It's world wide box office take was $170 million on a $110 million budget (this does not include marketing costs).

What I love about the story is that it's not the 12% approval rating that warranted an admittance of error from the studio head, it was the abysmal box office numbers. Obvious, true, that a studio would be concerned with appeasing investors rather than its audiences, but also a highly troubling reality. Critical response was already telling the tale with a 40% rotten tally for Divergent and a 29% red flag for Insurgent (audience approval ratings have declined as well: 70%, 59%, and 46%).

The good news is that there's still a fourth film coming, Ascendant (2017), with which the studio fan finally get things right learning from their past mistakes cut the budget in response to Allegiant's dismal numbers and produce even worse fare.

I only saw DystopianHot Chick I and Dystopian Hot Chick II: DHC meets DHDude because my girlfriend made me. No plans to increase the box office a tic for the third, or fourth. My advice to Lionsgate: if you're going to attempt to follow a formula, at least follow it well enough to produce the same entertainment value for the audience. Seriously, these are bad movies that hardly make any sense. Please do not reboot them when the fourth bombs.

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All is lost

It was bound to happen. After The Angry Birds Movie came out (and did well at the box office), it would only be a matter of time before other time-waster mobile games were turned into feature films. Enter Fruit Ninja.

Yes. They are making a live-action family comedy out of Fruit Ninja. (Fun Fact: That last sentence was how Revelation 8:1 originally began.)

The Hollywood Reporter reports that Tripp Vinson will produce the movie under the Vinson Films banner, and has partnered with Halfbrick Studios. The script about ninjas cutting up produce will be written by J.P. Lavin and Chad Damiani.

There have been more than 1 billion downloads of Fruit Ninja. Which means people want to see a movie of it? Oh well.

Who would you cast in Fruit Ninj-- Okay, I can't do it. This sounds dumb and awful and we're probably going to get a Candy Crush movie greenlit in the next few months. Time to work on a good photoshop for future Fruit Ninja movie news...

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Review: Hard Sell

May 23 // Rick Lash
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I want to say nice things about this film. That's the feeling I'm left with as I'm watching it. I believe I understand where the Writer/Director, Sean Nalaboff, is coming from. Hard Sell is "a coming-of-age tale ... [about] a high school senior navigating teenage life with his unstable mother." That's from the film's own junket. I, we, understand that movie. But somewhere along the way, someone confused genres and we got something that isn't sure if it's that, or a teenage sex comedy and the results are less than harmonious or hilarious.

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Hard Sell
Director: Sean Nalaboff

Release Date: May 20, 2016 (direct to video)
Rating: NR

Skyler Gisondo is Hardy, a high school senior, presumably, who lives alone with his imbalanced mother and sick dog. There's a father that's not in the picture, and Hardy is doing it all--his mother can't be relied on to do even simple things. OK. Despite this, Hardy attends an upscale private school on Long Island's "Gold Coast." How this happens, we don't know, nor do we need to.

The movie is kicked into gear when Hardy, lounging about campus, is approached by a guidance counselor who tells him that colleges love extra-curriculars and maybe he should try volunteering at a soup kitchen. OK. Hardy takes the advice and soon finds himself working side by side with the beautiful Bo (Katrina Bowden). They become friendly and by happenstance Hardy witnesses Bo deal with some young adolescents by taking them into an ally so that they can pay her to flash them. At this point, Hardy, enterprising young man that he is, posits, Bo, why don't we form a 50/50 partnership in which I arrange for the young men of my school to pay you to flash them. OK.

Here's the problem though: Bo is a runaway from a psychiatric hospital. Hardy's mother is extremely unbalanced (with what, we don't know, nor do we need to). Bo attempted suicide by overdose. Mental illness is not comedic material. Sure, it's been done and used with success (I'm thinking of Something About Mary which handled it delicately enough as a plot device, not as a major plot element), but when the movie revolves around the subject it's not so humorous.

It's easy to understand that a teenage boy who is running the homestead will grasp for straws when trying to save the family dog (a dog that both he and his mother clearly care deeply for). And I can believe that he'd suggest the cash for boobs scenario in his desperation and ignorance. But Bo is apparently post-college and far less ignorant (as is the audience). When Bo flashes some kids as a one-off, we're dealing in reality. When they enterprise the activity, with minors, on private property, at a school no less, in a movie that approaches its own world with gravitas, not pure comedy, the rules change.

It's all about context in filmmaking. In a Harry Potter film, I can believe it when people walk through walls, fly broomsticks, and perform incredible feats. It's called suspension of disbelief, and it's based on the rules of the film. In a comic book movie, the same principles apply, but when things get too fantastical for the realm, audiences will balk. 

Just this past week, I was watching American Pie 2, a comedy that is nothing but. As it with most comedies, it references serious life points, annecdotes, and morales, but they are they to make the story whole, they are not there as the whole story with brevity thrown in. When Stifler, the quintessential college frat boy breaks into a home to confirm that two "chicks are lesbians" he is committing a number of crimes up to and including sexual harassment. It works out though--the women don't call the police, instead they turn the tables on the college bros and everyone has a great time.

Hard Sell is not American Pie 2, nor is it Risky Business, the film that launched Tom Cruise to stardom as an entrepreneurial teenager turned amateur pimp. And that's a problem for Hard Sell as it is basically telling that angle of a story but outside the comfortable world of a comedy wherein people can do things with little fear of repercussions, where laughs trump reality and consequences. And even in that world, viewing this film now, with my slightly more mature mind (the film debuted in 2001), I almost have issues with the irresponsibility.

When Hardy is ultimately brought before the eponymous authority figures to 'fess up' he launches into an impassioned defense based on his belief that his school is an uninspiring place that confines its students behind walls while teaching them nothing. He does not address his own shortcomings or possible criminal actions and he subsequently walks out the authority figures without anyone raising any objections or fear of police intervention. It's just not realistic.

I can only imagine that Mr. Nalaboff grappled with the story he wanted to tell and was torn between wanting to tell a serious story about a boy and his mother and their struggles and wanting to tell a comedy in the vein of many that came before it. Only, the drama clearly ended up framing the film, not the comedy, and the comedic elements don't feel at home, and more troubling is that the film is not self-aware enough to pick up on the jarring nature of the incongruities.

A film dealing with a struggling family, issues of mental health, and suicide cannot open with multiple shots of one of its three main characters escaping from a hospital in an open medical gown showing off her naked body in a pair of hot point panties. It's sexualizing her when she should not be sexualized. When Hardy jokes that he may be a rapist, it doesn't come off as humorous. Rape is never funny, but within certain confines the context can desensitize the seriousness of the topic. Here, we are not desensitized, and this lack of awareness appears again and again, as with when a pair of over the top comedic young actors play the role of dramatic high school couple seeking therapy from Bo at the local country club. Their giddy back and forth dialogue is eerily out of place.

Mr. Nalaboff may even have been somewhat aware of the dichotomy, after all, he doesn't have students paying Bo to sleep with her, only to see her naked. He does tone it down, but all this does is further the sense of unreality: why would these pay hundreds of dollars to see a girl naked when several of them are clearly already sexually active?

In my mind, it comes down to that same unfocused storytelling and perhaps a lack of attention to detail (the Metro North automated voice recordings on the train announcing Hudson on Hastings when we're purportedly on Long Island was an obvious oversight).

These are heavy criticisms to level at a film, again, that I want to say nice things about. Kristen Chenoweth, as Hardy's mother, plays the unbalanced individual to a T. Both Gisondo and Bowden are great in their respecitve roles, and I was happy to see them get expanded roles at that, as I've enjoyed their work previously. The cinematography has a great, soft touch that would lend to a more developed story, but does make the film reminiscent of adolescence and the experience of going through it. But, ultimately, the film's not knowing which genre it should live in hurt it more than the cast and filmmaking skill could overcome.

 

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Back in December, Paramount released the first trailer for Star Trek Beyond and basically it told us one thing: it's a sabotage! That was according the Beastie Boys track of the same name that was the entire musical score for the full 1:35 length of the piece.

Fast forward half a year and the second trailer drops and we're in a different world. So long cleverly choreographed, action-packed, pop culture music driven trailers of the past. This is a serious trailer, with John Williams sounding stuff to sing along to, and plot, and voiceover, and boy oh boy is it better.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of the first category of trailer, if done well. Emphasis on if. Suicide Squad did it pretty well.

Anyway, one of the main criticisms with the first trailer for the third film in the Trekkie reboot franchise as that it was all action. And this is true. It was stunt after stunt after explosion and featured, I'm certain, every motorcycle (1) and kung-fu sequence (maybe 2) in the movie. This one corrects it fritter brother's ambitions and delivers a glimpse into what may be an actual story with character development (and all the cool trimmings, too).

Trekkie I am not, but I love what the reboots have done for the franchise and this trailer restores faith that maybe team behind them has still got the formula right.

Strangely enough, J.J. Abrams who helmed Star Trek (2009) and Into Darkness (2013) stepped back from this one to let Just Lin (Fast and Furious 3-6) have a go behind the wheel ... errr, warp drive. Maybe the shift in trailer style was Abrams reapplying his hold on the PR push ... it would make sense stylistically: trailer one is very Lin, while trailer two fits Abrams.

Look for all the major characters to be reprised by their counterparts: Chris Pine (Kirk), Zoey Saldana (Uhura), Simon Pegg (Scotty), Karl Urban (Bones), Anton Yelchin (Chekov), and John Cho (Sulu).

Star Trek goes where several movies and TV series have gone before on July 22.

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