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Your Bad Movie Night Guide, Vol. 5: Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama

Aug 18 // Rick Lash
[embed]455596:69263:0[/embed] Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-RamaDirector: David DecoteauRelease Date: January 29, 1988Rated: RBad Movie Grade: C-Where to Watch: Amazon COME FOR THE: Terrible Risky Business Tom Cruise ripoff Former porn stars turned B-movie actresses--it's an obvious performance as the once "Pia Snow" is far too carried away in one scene. Oddest paddling scene this side of Dazed and Confused: it just goes on and on, and the moans are experiencing identity confusion between arousal and pain.  STAY FOR THE: Monster, the "imp." It turns out, he's the best actor in this thing. Reminder that the 80s had some kickass video game arcades--that decade wasn't all that bad! Utter appropriation of Porky's, with the budget of a fifth grader's allowance. While Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama is a renowned bad movie, I'll be honest, I struggled through it. This is not one of my favorites. IMHO, I recommend copious amounts of alcohol accomplish this disaster. The movie opens on three quintessential 80s nerds in their [dorm?] room, with walls literally plastered with porn. One nerd, Fake Tom Cruise (Andras Jones), watches horror movies. One nerd, Fake Revenge of the Nerds Nerd (Hal Havins), "reads" Penthouse. Fat nerd (John Stuart Wildman) bemoans everything, as he's not eating. The scene has hints at promise, but ultimately lingers for too long before awkwardly transitioning to the titular sorority sisters. Of whom there are a whopping 3. Well, at least we learn there will be initiates. Two of 'em. But this is the biggest and best sorority on campus! Is it? What campus? It's not even made clear that there's an actual college. The three nerds might actually be three pervert sex offenders who literally break into and enter a private dwelling to spy on the inhabitants inside [hence the slimeslimeball]. It's actually not that funny, if you bother to think about it--hence the booze recommendation! CHUG! The initiation is a bit weird, but don't worry, the spanking by paddle makes it even weirder. Anyhow, through awkward hijinks, both the initiates, and their would-be sexual predators are sent to the local mall and its bowling alley [hence the Bowl-O-Rama] to bring something home as proof they broke in. The plot is entirely downhill from there, weak, and stretched thinner than an 80s aerobics instructors leggings. There's some kind of monster you've never heard of before, and it turns out it grants wishes! Or does it? It's really irrelevant--why do some of the "babes" turn into the Bride of Frankenstein and a zombie? No clue. Is it funny seeing them kill and be killed in lamely absurd ways? Yes. And odder still, was that from time to time, I'd find myself appreciating a shot--there are hints at great cinematography within this terrible filmmaking.  The wide shots, especially, highlight a sense of artistic ability--strange to find that here. FUCK Despite having more bush than the royal gardens at Versailles, no one really does the nasty in this one. Oh sure, there's the spanking, and showering, and heavy petting, and what looks to arguably be an erection caught on screen, but the only who's implied to get lucky is our lone surviving nerd and his bat-out-of-hell-punk-chick, Spider [the second best actor in this thing, Linnea Quigley].  MARRY "Sorority Babes" should have made it quite clear that no marriages would be present in this film. KILL Most of our nerds and babes bite the big one. Supposedly this is horror, but it's so campy by modern standards [by any standards, actually] that it's beyond laughable; by and large the deaths aren't even shown on camera; there are jump cuts and the like to allow them to avoid having to use costly effects sequences.  Yes, the producers were that cheap. They handle a girl being pulled in two by having each "part" of her body protruding from behind a rather large column. UBER DIALOG Fake Revenge of the Nerds Nerd talking to the Fat Nerd: "Yeah I've seen her, a real canine cutie." "What does that mean?" "Hey, at least I don't pick up my girls from the dog pound." I DIDN'T bust a gut laughing at that line. Two sorority initiates discussing the cruel and unusual initiation rites they need to undergo: "I think it's institutionalized sadism." They both crack up laughing as institutionalized sadism is always fucking hilarious. "Well, what about that punk dyke." The 80s were a tolerant time period. "Wake up you old fuck!" "That is really the most stupid damn story I've ever heard." It's as if the film were being introspective!  
I apologize in advance

The 80s were a sort of B-movie paradise where creating content cheaply to satiate the demands of home video viewers drove the production of endless films that otherwise might not have seen the light of day. As such, it's little surprise that a number of the best worst movies come from this special time period. Last week, we tackled Lethal Weepin', aka Tango & Cash. This week, we bring you another 80s treat from a true B-movie-Baron, David DeCoteau who still continues to this day to prolifically unleash these disasters upon the human race.

Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama is one of DeCoteau's finest; that is to say, worst. The movie's title itself is problematic as it's lengthy, involves the-over-use-of-hyphenization and really should have just played it safe and simple. Sorority Babes. Sorority Dames. Nerds vs. Sorority Babes. B-Movie Babes go to College. Why tax you're obviously already taxed audience; why strain their intellects? One can only presume that the 80s was such a shitstorm of Sorority Babe movies that one needed to distinguish oneself to stand out sufficiently from the crowd.

Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama succeeds in that, at least. It's so bad it's good. It's just utter garbage borrowing from everything it can possibly borrow from and doing it worse than those it borrowed from. It's a bottom-feeding hermit crab collecting other movies shit and building itself a shit home of a shell on its back. Truly incredible. Read on, if you dare.

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NYC: Old School Kung Fu Fest 2017 is all about martial arts wonder women

Aug 18 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]221831:43735:0[/embed] We can start by tying this into last year's Old School Kung Fu Fest, which showcased the films of Golden Harvest. The one Golden Harvest film this year is 1972's Hapkido, starring Angela Mao, Sammo Hung, and Carter Wong. (Both Mao and Hung made appearances in the Bruce Lee classic Enter the Dragon.) The boys do a lot of the fighting against the Imperial Japanese baddies during the first half of the film, which is set in 1930s China. Mao eventually takes center stage to avenge her brothers and the oppressed people of both China and Korea. Lecherous thugs from imperial Japan and Chinese turncoats generally make for solid baddies in kung fu films set during this time--they're the equivalent of Nazis and saboteurs. The word "forbearance" comes up throughout Hapkido. It's a keystone in many martial arts, and both patience and self-restraint help Mao's character survive until she can exact revenge. There's a scene in which Mao's pride is insulted in a dojo full of goons, and rather than take on all the laughing hyenas around her, she clenches her fist and seethes. Wait, her body language seems to say, or you'll be overwhelmed. Mao's fight scenes are fierce and well-choreographed. Though it's not the mega-quick, rhythmic/metered fighting of the later 1970s and the 1980s (a style that Hung would help pioneer), it's eye-catching for the era and brutal and rooted in story. [embed]221831:43737:0[/embed] Three of the movies at this year's Old School Kung Fu Fest are from the great King Hu, one of the maestros of wuxia pictures and kung fu cinema. The films are A Touch of Zen (1971), Come Drink with Me (1966), and The Fate of Lee Khan (1973). Hu's undergone a major critical reassessment in the west over the years, praised for his lush productions and style. He's influenced filmmakers as disparate as Hong Kong action madman Tsui Hark to staid Taiwanese arthouse director Tsai Ming Liang. In recent years, Hu's films have played a number of retrospectives, and two of his masterpieces, A Touch of Zen and Dragon Inn, have been released by the Criterion Collection. Though I haven't seen The Fate of Lee Khan, there's always been a strong woman as a central player in Hu films I have seen. In Come Drink with Me, it's Cheng Pei Pei as the hero Golden Swallow, seeking to rescue a political prisoner. Western audiences probably know Cheng best as Jade Fox in Ang Lee's 2000 wuxia homage Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. In A Touch of Zen, it's Feng Hsu as a hero named Yang on the run in an artsy adventure that's also about Buddhist spirituality. I'm going to try to catch The Fate of Lee Khan this weekend and see if I can tease out some bigger idea about King Hu and his badass women. Like Dragon Inn, The Fate of Lee Khan is centered around an inn. I'm left wondering if the martial prowess of the women in the movie (Mao, Hsu, Li Li Hua) leads to gender confusion, which is a common and universal trope in many action/adventure stories--"You can fight, bu- bu- but, you're a woman?!" Such revelations are often disarming for the villains as well as the heroine's allies. [embed]221831:43736:0[/embed] It wouldn't be old school kung fu without something from Shaw Brothers Studios. This year's Old School Kung Fu Fest has two very different kinds of Shaw Brothers films nearly a decade apart. First there's 1972's Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan, Chor Yuen's brothel-based wuxia picture that plays a bit like a semi-sexploitation/revenge movie, albeit a well shot one. There's sexual violence, a little lesbianism, and some S&M for good measure, with a kind of luridness that I wasn't expecting from an early 70s Shaw Brothers production. And on the other hand, there's Lau Kar Leung's My Young Auntie (1981), a broad Cantonese comedy starring Kara Hui as a demure martial arts master trying to keep a family's fortune away from the hands of greedy relatives. My Young Auntie is kooky and delightful (though maybe a fight-lite affair for some action movie fans), and might play a good double-feature with Lau's pseudo-screwball comedy martial arts picture Heroes of the East (1978). While the tone of both these Shaw Brothers films is different, Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan and My Young Auntie are, broadly speaking, about women seeking empowerment, justice, and dignity in their own ways. The newest film at the Old School Kung Fu Fest is 1985's Yes, Madam, a very merry 1980s Hong Kong action movie. The movie stars Michelle Yeoh and Cynthia Rothrock as a pair of female supercops busting criminals and making them take insane, breakneck falls. It's so "Hong Kong in the 80s" that it features appearances by Sammo Hung and recurring players from the Lucky Stars movies. Yes, Madam kicked off the "girls with guns" HK subgenre, which basically meant action movies led by femme fatales. Other films in the genre include Magnificent Warriors (1987), Naked Killer (1992), Black Cat (1991), and Angel Terminators (1991). [embed]221831:43738:0[/embed] Yeoh is one of the biggest Asian actresses in the western world, though her Yes, Madam co-star, Cynthia Rothrock, is probably one of the most unsung female action stars of her era. Rothrock was an accomplished martial artist prior to getting into action movies. While her American output tended to be of low quality and direct-to-video, she made many great films in Hong Kong during the 1980s as a star or supporting player. Yes, Madam is easily among her best, but also keep an eye out for 1986's Righting Wrongs (co-starring Yueen Biao), 1987's The Magic Crystal (co-starring Andy Lau), and 1988's Righting Wrongs 2: Blonde Fury. Seven movies and one weekend isn't enough to cover the breadth of wonder women in kung fu cinema. An entire program might have been built around King Hu's output or Angela Mao's films alone using a similar theme. Though the 1990s isn't old school enough yet, I was hoping to see something familiar from my teenage years in the fest. For instance, I remember loving movies with Brigitte Lin (particularly The Bride with White Hair), in which the "You're a good fighter but you're not a man?" gender confusion was to be expected. There's also Johnnie To's Heroic Trio films, which starred Yeoh, Maggie Cheung, and Anita Mui as three ladies saving the day in a dystopian future. (Maybe in the seventeenth edition of the Old School Kung Fu Fest.) I suppose I bring those other movies up since Wonder Woman, Atomic Blonde, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens signal a genuine hunger for female-led action movies. People want stories in which the women aren't just damsels in distress or trophies for the heroes. Even Doctor Who finally acknowledged the need for more gender representation in male-dominated genres, naming Jodie Whittaker as the thirteenth Doctor. This need goes back decades, and maybe in this particular year these kinds of stories seem more necessary than before. Girls to the front, and don't be afraid to kick anyone who gets in your way. Cheng Pei Pei did it 50 years ago, and so can you.
Old School Kung Fu Fest photo
Those females are strong as hell

The seventh Old School Kung Fu Fest kicks off today in New York City at The Metrograph. The event runs all weekend, and celebrates the kick ass women of classic martial arts cinema. The official theme is "Wonder Women of the Martial Arts", which makes sense in a year that's seen the release of Wonder Woman and Atomic Blonde.

The following seven films will be screened this weekend:

  • Hapkido (with star Angela Mao in attendance)
  • The Fate of Lee Khan
  • My Young Auntie
  • Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan
  • Come Drink with Me
  • A Touch of Zen
  • Yes, Madam

All of the films have their place in the female action canon, and I've been able to watch most them. My stray thoughts on these movies are by no means comprehensive, but they may help situate these movies in the various tropes and traditions of female action cinema, giving you more reason to check them out this weekend.

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Review: The Hitman's Bodyguard

Aug 18 // Matthew Razak
[embed]221830:43734:0[/embed] The Hitman's BodyguardDirector: Patrick HughesRated: RRelease Date: August 17, 2017 The Hintman's Bodyguard ain't nothin new. It's one of those buddy cop assassin movies in the vein of 48 Hrs. where a straight laced guy, Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds), needs to escort a loudmouth criminal, Darius Kincaid (Jackson), in order to take down an ever worse criminal. In this case that criminal is Gary Oldman playing a dictator with a funny accent, which only adds to the cliche of the whole plot. You know how this goes. Things don't go to plan, wise-cracking occurs, friendships are made, cars blow up, Salma Hyak curses a lot in Spanish. If you really must know the story, Kincaid is a professional assassin who must get to the Hague to testify against Oldman's villain, and after INTERPOL is infiltrated Bryce, a down on his luck professional security agent, is the only man for the job. With films like these its much less about the story and much more about how the two leads play off each other, and if the screenplay gives theme enough to work with. Will they get to their goal on time? It's almost a certainty. Are we going to enjoy the trip is the real question. Thankfully the casting choices for this movie are perfect because it basically just needs Reynolds to be Reynolds and Jackson to be Jackson. The two play off each other fantastically and are charming as hell. Any scene with them bantering is at the very least fun to watch and at the best times hilarious. They both play well in their overly cliche roles and at times seem to be reveling in the stupid simplicity of every action movie trope they walk into.  Those tropes are actually handled acceptably by director Patrick Hughes, who won't be winning any awards for his action direction, but also can keep a car chase coherent. That probably shouldn't be high praise, but after this summer where even the Fast and the Furious failed to hold its car chases together, I'm all set to give him an Oscar. The movie doesn't have the creativity of Baby Driver, but it at least keeps its pace going and never feels overblown. Part of that might just be the fact that its a lower budget action flick that falls squarely into the B-grade range of film, but credit where credit is due. The fight sequences don't suck either, though again, they're just above par. We're not talking The Raid or anything. The film does have some tonal problems that stem from the fact that everyone involved is a killer of multiple people in one way or another. While the banter and near-parody love story try to keep things light, there is a running background of a mass-murdering, psychopathic dictator with no qualms about shooting children in the face. It's no fault of the film's, since I'm guessing they didn't plan to have Nazis all over the news the week before release, but set against the backdrop of current events it often seems flippant with the idea of genocide. It will shift dramatically in tone within a single scene, especially near the end when one-liners interrupt photos of mass graves.  I know I may seem like I'm flopping back and forth on this movie, but that's just because it is such a terribly cliche action flick, and yet it works as it needs to. Maybe I was just let down so much this summer that a return to the tried-and-true action movie formulas of summers gone by just hit the spot. Whatever the reason, I found The Hitman's Bodyguard to be enjoyable despite the highest compliment I am able to pay it is that it is competent.  Darius Kinca [embed]455494:69246:0[/embed] The Hitman's BodyguardDirector: Patrick HughesRated: RRelease Date: August 17, 2017 The Hintman's Bodyguard ain't nothin new. It's one of those buddy cop assassin movies in the vein of 48 Hrs. where a straight laced guy, Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds), needs to escort a loudmouth criminal, Darius Kincaid (Jackson), in order to take down an ever worse criminal. In this case that criminal is Gary Oldman playing a dictator with a funny accent, which only adds to the cliche of the whole plot. You know how this goes. Things don't go to plan, wise-cracking occurs, friendships are made, cars blow up, Salma Hyak curses a lot in Spanish. If you really must know the story, Kincaid is a professional assassin who must get to the Hague to testify against Oldman's villain, and after INTERPOL is infiltrated Bryce, a down on his luck professional security agent, is the only man for the job. With films like these its much less about the story and much more about how the two leads play off each other, and if the screenplay gives theme enough to work with. Will they get to their goal on time? It's almost a certainty. Are we going to enjoy the trip is the real question. Thankfully the casting choices for this movie are perfect because it basically just needs Reynolds to be Reynolds and Jackson to be Jackson. The two play off each other fantastically and are charming as hell. Any scene with them bantering is at the very least fun to watch and at the best times hilarious. They both play well in their overly cliche roles and at times seem to be reveling in the stupid simplicity of every action movie trope they walk into.  Those tropes are actually handled acceptably by director Patrick Hughes, who won't be winning any awards for his action direction, but also can keep a car chase coherent. That probably shouldn't be high praise, but after this summer where even the Fast and the Furious failed to hold its car chases together, I'm all set to give him an Oscar. The movie doesn't have the creativity of Baby Driver, but it at least keeps its pace going and never feels overblown. Part of that might just be the fact that its a lower budget action flick that falls squarely into the B-grade range of film, but credit where credit is due. The fight sequences don't suck either, though again, they're just above par. We're not talking The Raid or anything. The film does have some tonal problems that stem from the fact that everyone involved is a killer of multiple people in one way or another. While the banter and near-parody love story try to keep things light, there is a running background of a mass-murdering, psychopathic dictator with no qualms about shooting children in the face. It's no fault of the film's, since I'm guessing they didn't plan to have Nazis all over the news the week before release, but set against the backdrop of current events it often seems flippant with the idea of genocide. It will shift dramatically in tone within a single scene, especially near the end when one-liners interrupt photos of mass graves.  I know I may seem like I'm flopping back and forth on this movie, but that's just because it is such a terribly cliche action flick, and yet it works as it needs to. Maybe I was just let down so much this summer that a return to the tried-and-true action movie formulas of summers gone by just hit the spot. Whatever the reason, I found The Hitman's Bodyguard to be enjoyable despite the highest compliment I am able to pay it is that it is competent.  Darius Kinca
Hitman's Bodyguard photo
I won't always love you

It's August, and that means we're entering the second span of doldrums for movie releases for the year (the first being the beginning of the year). From now until late September, when all of the horror films start rolling in, we get studio leftovers and also-rans. It is, however, a great window of opportunity for a gem to crop up without the bluster of summer blockbusters to blow it away. 

In most years The Hitman's Bodyguard probably wouldn't be that gem, but after a summer of watching action movies that were about as well made as my two-year-old son's macaroni art projects (oh... you put the glue on the table... interesting artistic choice), it is a surprising breathe of fresh air to find a competently directed, paced, and acted film. Normally, competence is a low bar, but that's where we're at.

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Interview with Inhumans director doesn't inspire confidence in fast, cheap IMAX TV series pilot

Aug 17 // Hubert Vigilla
Reiné continued, saying that he was likely hired because of his ability to work fast and cheap. "I think they liked me for the job because I was able with my action movies to shoot in a very short time, or with very low budgets, action that looks like a big-budget movie." The director's other credits include low-budget fare like The Scorpion King 2 and Death Race 2. There's nothing wrong with that, but one would think that a more experienced, top-tier filmmaker might be tapped to shoot a two-episode pilot. Excuse me, a two-episode pilot shot in IMAX. Hell, Joss Whedon directed the pilot episode of Agents of SHIELD. One early review of The Inhumans on Spoiler TV (which was taken down but preserved on multiple sites) called the pilot "simply awful". You can see for yourself whether The Inhumans is simply awful or a more complicated awful when it hits IMAX screens on September 1st. [via CNET]
Fast and cheap Inhumans photo
Scott Buck strikes again

Judging from the first trailer and the San Diego Comic Con trailer, The Inhumans might be a bona fide disaster.

Excuse me, a bona fide disaster shot in IMAX.

A bigger screen won't fix bland, and this looks like the second Marvel series that showrunner Scott Buck will ruin. (The first was Iron Fist on Netflix.) CNET scored an interview with Dutch director Roel Reiné, who helmed the first two episodes of the show. Unfortunately (and unintentionally), Reiné's comments about The Inhumans make the show sound like fast, cheap dreck.

First of all, the shooting schedule was super-tight. "I had TV schedule time to shoot it with IMAX cameras, 20 days to shoot two episodes. It's nerve-wracking but I come from a low-budget film world, so 20 days for me is luxury."


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That's no moon, it's an Obi-Wan Kenobi stand-alone Star Wars movie in the works

Aug 17 // Hubert Vigilla
Daldry seems like an odd choice to direct the film, known more for prestige dramas like the rather good The Hours and the rather execrable Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Perhaps Kathleen Kennedy and other Lucasfilm heads view Daldry as a steady hand who will deliver just what they're looking for without the need for extensive reshoots. Apart from the current drama over the Han Solo film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story also required extensive reshoots and retooling. Lucasfilm has tapped veteran director Ron Howard to finish the Han Solo film; for Rogue One, veteran filmmaker/screenwriter Tony Gilroy was heavily involved in fixing the movie. I sort of hope McGregor returns. He was the best thing in the prequels by far. I hope he goes on some merry adventure between Revenge of the Sith and the original Star Wars. Just, please, no Death Star this time, guys. I've seen that thing enough already. Are you excited about the Obi-Wan KeMovie? You wanna dance about it? Let us know in the comments. [via Heat Vision/THR]
Obi-Wan spin-off movie photo
This is the IP you're looking for

Even though the stand-alone Han Solo movie has gone through some major problems, Disney isn't giving up on Star Wars spin-offs. Heat Vision confirmed today that an Obi-Wan Kenobi movie is in the works. Academy Award-nominated director Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliott, The Reader) is in early talks to helm the picture. As of now, there is no script or screenwriter. There is also no word on if Ewan McGregor will reprise his role as the Jedi knight originally played by Alec Guinness.

Truly, Disney will squeeze the Star Wars cash cow until its swollen, tender teats no longer yield creamy blue milk.

I don't care what you think about the following scene from Billy Elliott--"Town Called Malice" is one of the best songs ever.


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Gremlins 3 sequel may be happening with Chris Columbus attached

Aug 17 // Rick Lash
[embed]221827:43731:0[/embed] indicates that the film is currently set to be a sequel, rather than a reboot, but no other details are scurrying around the web right now so we'll need to wait and see how this plays out. Stay tuned friends, and remember, don't feed them after midnight!     [via Slashfilm]
Don't read after midnight

Talks of a third Gremlins film have been on the winds for going on two decades now. Original director Joe Dante apparently indicated at one point the sequel was dead because the technology made to create Gremlins and Gremlins 2 was so dated that it would have to rely on CGI, and the would be too un-Gremlins to do.

But Chris Columbus, Gremlins writer, tried to calm fears that Gremlins would be done with CGI, instead indicating that CGI would just be used to make the lives of puppeteers easier:

CGI will enable us to remove wires and make the puppeteers lives a little easier. It was brutal. It was like a marathon every night for those guys. In the bar scene alone there were 18 [or] 20 people behind the bar. No one had any space to move. It was just hellish for those guys so CGI will simplify that a little bit but it’s all puppets.

Chris added that the screenplay is complete and much darker. Because ever since 2008's The Dark Knight, darker, grittier versions of things that were previously too fluffy have been all the rage. Let's be real: Michael Keaton dropping Jack Nicholson into a vat of acid is some pussy-ass-shit. It needed to be made HARD. And gritty. It needed the True Grit treatment of True Grit.

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AMC threatens legal action against MoviePass

Aug 16 // Drew Stuart
[via Variety]
My lawyers will beat up your lawyers!

Yesterday, MoviePass, a company that allows its subscribers to see unlimited movies for a monthly fee, slashed the price of that fee. The internet ran with it, and now MoviePass is trending all over the web, especially on reddit. User Mdude2312 created a simple website that allows you tocheck if MoviePass is available in your zip code, and the post where he states this is, as of writing this, is at the top of the r/movies subreddit. 

So, it's safe to say that MoviePass is a hit. However, as with any company on the verge of massive success, there's somone out there looking to scause legal trouble for the startup.

AMC Theatres is threatening legal action against MoviePass, likely in response to their incredibly low new pricing. AMC is the worlds largest theatre chain, and a lawsuit like this could threaten the longevity of MoviePass as a player in the industry. However, this isn't MoviePass' first lawsuit either; they've seen countless attempts from theatres to shut them down since their debut back in 2011. Still, having to deal with the worlds biggest exhibitor may prove problematic for a company that has yet to go public. 

AMC is likely scared that MoviePass will end up killing their rewards program. After all, theatres make most of their money from concessions, and if less people use their program because of some pesky company like MoviePass, less people might end up buying their concessions. However, that logic only works under little amounts of scrutiny: if MoviePass increases turnout overall, wouldn't that increase concessions regardless of any rewards program?

Regardless of such speculation, Mitch Lowe, the CEO of MoviePass (and former executive at Netflix,) doesn't seem that concerned about legal action. In an interview with Variety, Lowe remarked that he's seen this type of behavior before. 

“This is so much like Blockbuster was when we rolled out Netflix or Redbox. It’s the big guy being afraid of the little guy offering better value to consumers.”

Lowe's confidence in MoviePass is reassuring, but he's still in a tricky situation. If a majority of customers  utlize their subscription, they'll be facing huge financial losses. After all, MoviePass purchases tickets for their subscribers, and relies on subscribers who go to the movies infrequently enough to get a net profit. Maybe the hype will die down for MoviePass, and the model will become sustainable for the young company, but if it doesn't, the subscription price will has to rise back up to account for their increased business.

Stay tuned, there's sure to be more developments with this story coming our way soon. 

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New Thor: Ragnarok Trailer teases Doctor Strange

Aug 16 // Drew Stuart
[via YouTube]
I'm really glad this movie isn't boring

If you saw our coverage of SDCC two months back, you may have seen this incredible trailer for the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok and thought to yourself, "Jeeeez that looks like a hell of a lot of fun!" I wouldn't blame you, it's what we were all thinking. Thor and Hulk teaming up with Loki to fight Hela, the goddess of death? And she's played by Cate Blanchett? Could this movie get any better?

It seems so.


There's an extended trailer out from Japan today, and while it's mostly just re-cut footage from the SDCC trailer, it makes up for it by including some new shots of Doctor Strange floating around and talking to Thor.

It's enough to stoke the flames of hype once again, and that's all we can really ask for with these Marvel movies.  Thor:Ragnarok debuts on November 3, 2017.

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That's...quite the downpayment.

Netflix has had its share of ups and downs lately. They've outperformed all of their competitors, have exceeded their own growth expectations, and have seen their stock soar more than 10% in a day. However, with Disney pulling out of their 2012 deal, which allowed Netflix to be the sole platform for streaming new Disney films, they've also lost great content opportunities, and will likely face fierce competition down the road. Still, Netflix seems undeterred, and if todays news tells us anything, they might be more ambitious than ever.

In an interview with Variety, Ted Sarandos, Netflix's chief content officer, revealed that they would be expanding their budget for original shows again in 2018 - by another billion dollars. In 2017 the budget was $6 billion, making next years budget a monumental $7 billion. This well exceeds the budget of any of their competitors, like Hulu and Amazon, and is enough to make even the biggest of hollywood bigwigs sweaty and nervous.

Certainly, you could rationalize that number and say that the funding doesn't necessarily promise quality content - and I would agree. However, Netflix has been slowly curating its lineup into only the best and brightest shows. Clunkers like Bloodline are being burnt away like deadwood in favor of new programming and returning favorites, like Master of None, House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and my personal favorite, the Wet Hot American Summer series. Those new shows aren't anything to laugh at, and small shows like Castlevania and Little Witch Academia turned out exceptionally well given their nature, and with more funding to go around, who knows how many more hidden gems will pop up in our queues? 

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Trailer: The Killing of a Sacred Deer showcases unnerved Nicole Kidman & Colin Farrell

Aug 16 // Hubert Vigilla
The film seems veiled in mystery and sinister motives, and now I can't get Ellie Goulding's "Burn" out of my head. Dammit, it's like I've been shopping at Target or something. The film also stars Barry Keoghan, Raffey Cassidy, and Alicia Silverstone, who is conspicuously absent from this trailer. Curiouser and curiouser. The Killing of a Sacred Deer premiered at Cannes earlier this year. I've intentionally avoided reading reviews of the movie so I can go in cold, and it seems like this is the sort of movie that deserves to be encountered without spoilers beforehand. Here's a brief official synopsis for The Killing of a Sacred Deer from IMDb that entices but gives nothing away: A teenager's attempts to bring a brilliant surgeon into his dysfunctional family take an unexpected turn. The Killing of a Sacred Deer comes out on October 27th. Check out a poster for the film in the gallery.
Killing of a Sacred Deer photo
Yorgos Lanthimos gonna Yorgos Lanthimos

I'm guaranteed to watch anything from Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos. Dogtooth haunted and disturbed me, and two-thirds of The Lobster is some of the best commentary on modern love I've seen. Lanthimos is back with his latest unnerving work, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, which stars Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman.

Judging from this trailer, The Killing of a Sacred Deer may be one of the year's artsiest thrillers. Heck, I could go for a good psychological horror movie. (Also, nice subversion of the "moody cover song" trailer trope.)

Check out the trailer for The Killing of a Sacred Deer below.


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Adam Sandler photo
Could Sandler actually act this time?

Here's a dirty little secret Adam Sandler seems intent on keeping under wraps: the man can act. Back in the day he seemed to be on the verge of pulling his comedy career into something more with films like Punch Drunk Love, but then he found out there wasn't much money in it and instead went out and made a string of insanely bad, but really successful comedies. Those of us who remember a Sandler who can deliver both comedy and drama have been waiting for a his return. The Meyerowitz Stories may be it.

With prolific dramedy director Noah Baumbach taking the realms of the film, and an insanely talented cast jumping in I think we might not only get Sandler's first truly good Netflix film, but his first truly good movie since Reign Over Me (fight me). This one looks like it's going to get pretty dark, but Baumbach is incredibly good at interlacing personal stories with comedic touches, and Ben Stiller and Elizabeth Marvel are just fantastic casting choices.

With Sandy Wexler not being the worst thing ever, and this movie looking to turn out really good, could we be seeing an actual return of Sandler to some sort of respectability or will he simply make a Ridiculous Six sequel and call it a day from here on out?


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Super confirmed

There was a bit of a kerfuffle yesterday when Daniel Craig mentioned on a radio interview that nothing was finalized with him being in Bond 25. Turns out that was a lie as the actor had obviously agreed to super duper double officially confirm he's taking the role on the Colbert show. You can watch him do it below, and explain why he was just so grumpy after filming Spectre

The most interesting part, however, comes at the end when Craig mentions that he wants to go out on a high note. Does this means he shares the general public's opinion on Spectre? We all know it was a bit of a letdown, and Craig came out of it saying he'd rather slash his wrists than do another Bond so... maybe his desire to conclude on a better note drove him back into Bond's loving arms. Of course history is against him. Most Bonds don't go out on a high note at all (Diamonds Are Forever, A View to a Kill, Die Another Day). 


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I'd like to unlive deliciously

On Tuesday it was confirmed that Anya Taylor-Joy, star of The Witch (which I will henceforth refer to by it's much cooler stylized title) and M. Night Shyamalan's Split was in talks to reunite with director Robert Eggers for the long reported but never started Nosferatu remake. There hasn't been any confirmation of parts or a casting yet but it is expected that Taylor-Joy will play the victim of the titular vampire. For those of us who loved the VVitch and want to see more in that vein of horror, this news will come as a welcome relief.

Nosferatu will be a remake of the 1922 movie of the same name based on the classic Bram Stoker novel Dracula. No release window has been set yet and as of now the only other star rumored to be attached is genre veteran Doug Jones. Early reports of the filming technique cite that the movie will use CGI imposed colorized images of the original movie sets which sounds a little too close to the Star Wars prequels to me but I trust that Eggers knows what he is doing.

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...and the internet is eating it up

It's no secret that movie theaters have been struggling lately. With so many movies available online; on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, the average person sees little need to go out of their own way to see a movie in theaters. I mean, who cares about seeing the latest movie when ticket prices are high, and interest is low? Poor turnout has caused several theaters in my town alone to shut down over the past few years, and it seemed that going to the movies was becoming a pasttime that not many folks were engaging in.

However, that may be set to change. MoviePass, the company that allows consumers to see as many movies as they want per month - for a hefty fee - has just gutted their fee. What was once a monthly charge of $50 (kinda steep if you ask me) is now a mere $9.95 (That's...cheaper than a single matinee showing). 

The deal goes like this: MoviePass subscribers can see as many movies as they want on regular 2D screens, and limited to once-per-day. Now, the new low price of the service may encourage a robust customer base.

MoviePass' CEO Mitch Lowe is behind this pivotal decision, and it might be wise to trust his instincts. Lowe is an former executive for Netflix who helped the company thrive before it was everyones favorite streaming service, and he's the former president of Redbox. In short, Lowe has been working for years to make entertainment more convenient, and less expensive.

And while investors are skeptical that this radical decision will work, the internet, on the other hand, is running mad with the idea. Several websites that have heralded this story have shut down due to heavy traffic, and the MoviePass website itself is just barely chugging along. Does this mean MoviePass just won itself a cavalcade of new customers? It's entirely possible, so long as interest holds strong amongst potential consumers.

I first heard about MoviePass from an East Coast friend of mine about two years ago. It seemed like a good idea then, but the downpayment was always the barrier that prevented me from seriously considering that kind of service. But...10 bucks? Sign me up. No, seriously, I'm signing myself up for the service right now so I can save some money!

Stay tuned, we'll be on lookout for any future developments.

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NYC: Watch wonder women kick ass at the Old School Kung Fu Fest (August 18-20)

Aug 15 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]221817:43725:0[/embed] In a year that Wonder Woman is breaking box office records, breaking glass ceilings, and proving a great topic for discussion, it makes sense to frame this year's kung fu showcase around kickass female leads. Later this week we'll take a look at these badass films and how they fit into the nasty woman canon. For tickets and more information about the seventh Old School Kung Fu Fest, visit The Metrograph.
Old School Kung Fu Fest photo
Subway Cinema returns to The Metrograph

Subway Cinema's seventh edition of The Old School Kung Fu Fest is back this weeked at The Metrograph, running from Friday, August 18th through Sunday, August 20th. Last year's Old School Kung Fu Fest celebrated Golden Harvest, the quintessential purveyor of Hong Kong action cinema in the 1980s and 1990s.

This year, the theme of the Old School Kung Fu Fest is "Wonder Women of the Martial Arts". This showcase of violent femmes includes Michelle Yeoh, Cynthia Rothrock, Kara Hui, Cheng Pei Pei, and many more. The following kung fu classics will be screened this weekend:

  • Hapkido
  • The Fate of Lee Khan
  • My Young Auntie
  • Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan
  • Come Drink with Me
  • A Touch of Zen
  • Yes, Madam
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You can now watch the full first episode of the new Ducktales on YouTube

Aug 15 // Rick Lash
Huey, Dewey, and Louie are clearly older, more like teenagers, despite their similar appearance. And Launchpad is clearly more a surfer-bro-cum-stoner than just the hapless fool he embodied in his earlier iteration. There’s a great moment when Louie (the green one) is going through Scrooge’s “Wing of mysteries,” aka his garage, putting green post-its on everything. When asked what’s doing, he implies scrooge is “super old” and so he’s calling dibs on stuff. Having just gone through an estate division for my grandmother, and having seen siblings literally do this, this is the sort of humor that you know is going right over the heads of any children in the audience. As is most of it, I would wager. Modernizing by adding female characters is one thing. Modernizing by adding female characters who tie up their male counterparts at knifepoint (and have dolls shot through with arrows in their room) is another. Well played, Disney XD, well played. When Disney aimed the nostalgia canon at my generation, I presumed, and I would guess I’m not alone, that they meant to inspire the original audience to share the show with their children—instead they seem to have designed it a la Rick and Morty to be for that original audience, not their children. But as a bonus, if said parents want to buy merchandise (toys, blankets, beach towels, sippy cups, etc.) that is designed for their children, so be it. Win win. Either way, nostalgia is a powerful ally, and it’s great to see Ducktales back on TV, even if Scrooge’s voice is eerily foreign-sounding to my ears (there’s no repeat of the Transformersmovement wherein Peter Cullen reprised his animated VO work for the live-action film series) as Alan Young, the original Ducktales’ Scrooge died last year at the age of 96. In his stead David Tennant fills in (you may know him from Jessica Jones, Broadchurch, or Dr. Who). But by the episodes conclusion it was sounding quite right. Fun note: Scrooge seems to have a gold cell phone. Yet it’s an early 2000s flip phone. So funny. Definitely recommend taking a look at this revamp, complete with the original (albeit revamped) theme song.  
Can anyone spare a lucky dime? Anybody?

Maybe you knew, maybe not, but there’s a Ducktales reboot. The original series ran from 1987 to 1990 and was most definitely a kid’s show (I would know, I was one). The new iteration tries something a little different, but includes some of the original dialogue! (“I made my name being tougher than the toughies and smarter than the smarties.”)


Watch the first episode of Ducktales here

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Game of Thrones Season 7 Recap: 'Eastwatch'

Aug 14 // Rick Lash
Last week’s episode culminated a la cliffhanger with Jaime sinking into a watery grave, possibly? We begin episode 5 with Bronn pulling Jaime’s corpse out of the water. Surprise! Twist! Jaime lived. Well… did they walk all the way there underwater? Because they did not swim. Not wearing that armor, and sword, and gold hand. So it’s a fun bit of dialog for Bronn to tell Jaime that a dragon doesn’t get to kill him, he doesn’t get to kill him, only he (Bronn) gets to kill him until he gets what he’s owed, because clearly, Jaime should have drowned. Cut to Tyrion surveying the battlefield from up close and oh shit, is that dragon dung? Nope, it’s a big-ol-burned-turd of Lannister knights. And um, well, there are some surviving Lannister soldiers. Do they bend the knee to Danny or do they become human marshmallows? Human marshmallows you say! Delicious! At least that’s what Randyll Tarley and his son Dickon (no eunuch there) must have thought, because they opt for death by dragon (mistake!). Thus, making Sam lord of house Tarley! Boom, that spritely son of a bitch is moving up in the world faster than Ser Jorah has his skin peeled. Jaime is magically back to King’s Landing telling Cersei that it’s hopeless and they should do something. What he thinks is unclear. But she’s not giving up, oh no. She’ll have the Mountain kill everyone! Maybe? Back to Dragonstone now. Keep up, this is a fast-paced show! And Jon watches Danny land her dragon like a massive hang-glider. I suppose massive scorpion bolts to the wing don’t really hurt dragons, because it’s gone and the dragon is showing no ill wear. And then Drogon sniffs Jon. Like sniffs him good. Is it good to eat, precious? Mayhaps, precious! But it likes the JonSnow. It trusts the JonSnow, and so Danny doesn’t turn him into another human marshmallow. Oh well, precious, there will be others to eat. And then Ser Jorah is there! My gawd—sorry—my seven gawds / drowned gawd / gawd of light / gawd of death—Ser Jorah is there, and he and Danny look like they may get it on! She says he’s “looking strong” and Drogon gets jealous because he senses Danny’s got woman heat for the JorahMan. Mayhaps Drogon will turns the JorahMan into a marshmallow?Mayhaps, yes, precious. Damn, suddenly, we’re with Bran, in Winterfell, and he’s got weird milky eyes and he’s sent ravens out, and the ravens get past the wall, and they see the army of the dead! Well shit, there’s the Night King! And then Bran’s telling his maester to send ravens, for fucks sake! And, apparently, he did, for suddenly we’re in Oldtown and the maesters there are making fun of Bran’s maester. But Sam is eavesdropping and he says, no maesters, don’t make fun of that maester, that cripple is telling the truth about that scary ol’ Night King and his mobile zombie rave. This is getting real. If Lord Sam is going to order those maesters to do shit, they’d better, but oh shoot! They didn’t tell him about his marshmallow father and brother, so he doesn’t know he can give orders. Get back to scrubbing skidmarks from bed pans, Lord Sam. Dragonstone: Tyrion and Varys drinking and talking about Targaryens turning people into human marshmallows. Are they better black as coal or golden brown? Cheers! "Let us drink and talk of smashing hos, m'lord!" Danny and her advisors in her smaller-than-Cersei’s-map-room. Why is it always a competition about size? What to be done about Bran’s bird-message? They’re going to bring a zombie to King’s Landing to prove they’re right. Damn. Ser Jorah and Jon will head north. Tryion’s getting the ol’ Onion Knight back to his criminal roots and is going to get smuggled into the Red Keep. Bronn helps. He always had a fondness for Willow and his people. Jaime doesn’t impale Tyrion on one of the dragon skull horns. A good sign, to be sure. And then, well, emotions are running high. So he and Tyrion hug it out, like real, true Californian bros. "I prefer to smash bruh. Face-smash." Ser Davos had business in Fleabottom, but he meant getting Gendry. Which, can I just say, finally, here? And when Gendry tells Davos that swords drool, hammers rule, my heart be still! I love this skinnier, less-beardy Robert Baratheon. May the face-crushing begin! And sure enough, a couple of wiley gold cloaks show up in true convenient form, just to allow Gendry to demonstrate his face-smashing capabilities—which aren’t half bad at all. No one puts anything past Cersei (except when they do) and when Jaime tries to tell her he’s had a secret meeting with Tryion, she already knows. They’ll play the long game to get past the insurmountable odds currently opposing them (mainly Danny and her dragons). "Jaime, did Miley Cyrus pull off this hairstyle better than me? Answer truthfully, or die." Jon and Jorah are off for Eastwatch, and it looks like Danny might jump both their bones. It’s weird here, because, being serious for a moment, she waivers between this hard as stone, turn men into marshmallows queen of fire, and then a half-silly little girl who’s sort of got a crush on the emo bastard King of the North (and maybe her step father Ser Jorah, too). It seems, out of character, as she waivers back and forth. At least at this point in her storyline. Sam’s leaving the Citadel because he’s ‘tired of everyone else getting to have all the fun!’ And he cuts off Gilly right when she’s about to read something that might reveal the parentage of Jon Snow! Damnit, Lord Sam, you are the worst lord ever! "Gilly! Don't give away the JonSnow's parentage yet! We're going to dangle that one for a while still! Don't make Lord Sam remind you of who's whose wildling wench!" Whoops, back to Winterfell, keep up friends, keep up. Even I’m getting confused. As Arya and Sansa have a weird meeting wherein Arya basically accuses Sansa of not quelling potential rebellion so as not to lose potential allies for herself (aka: you’re betraying the JonSnow, witch). But not all gingers are witches (just one that we know of—Mellisandre), so perhaps that one’s unfair. Then Arya decides it’d be loads of fun to play follow the leader with Littlefinger and it’s obvious that Littlefinger’s got all his little fingers in everything fingers can get in. He’s stll got it! And he’s plotting something. Something nefarious. Unclear what as yet, though things seem to be proceeding according to his design, and once more, he’s several steps ahead of a Stark. Eastwatch. Like the episode’s title! Jon’s meeting Tormund, who’s super disappointed that Jon didn’t grenade Pod so that Brienne could come pay Tormund a sexytime visit. Jon, it’s bros before hos, bruh. Bros, before, hos. But, Ser Jorah’s there too, with fancy new emo armor to match everyone else, and it turns out so are The Hound, Ser Beric, and Thoros. That’s where they’ve been! Freezing their candied asses off in a tiny ice cell at the wall! Of course. And right about then we begin a frightful bit of dick-measuring as all sorts of past transgressions are brought to light between Gendry and Beric, Tormund and Jorah, and more. Until Jon, remembering what we just said about bros before hos, says, “Yo, m’bros, Calm down. This is gnarly. Like, we’re all on the same side, man! I mean, you’re a half-giant ginger with a whale dick, and Ser Jorah, you’re basically a lepper, bro. And Gendry, we’ve both had ginger witches try to give us herpes, but bros! We’re all still breathing! We’re survivors, bruhs. We’re on the same side. And they crack open a 30 rack and toast a few toasts before heading north of the wall. Insane, right? UBER DIALOG “I don’t know much about swinging swords, but this [picks up an awesome war-hammer], this I know.” FINALLY!  “I’d hurry to your favorite [brothel] or you’ll put a hole in that chain mail.” You see, Ser Davos had just given them a lovely bit of Westerosi Viagra … apparently fermented crab will get your soldier to stand at attention. Only, isn’t fermented crab just rotting crab? Yum. WHO WAS THERE: GENDRY: I called for it last week, and we got it: war-hammer face-smashing! That was de-lish. Also, Danny, Jon, Varys, Tyrion, Davos, Jaime, Cersei, Sansa, Arya, Bran, Littlefinger, Davos, Randyll Tarly (ever so briefly, and bye-bye), some other Tarly (ever so briefly, and bye-bye), Ser Jorah, THE HOUND!, Thoros, Ser Beric, The Night King and his mobile-zombie-rave! WHO'S CONSPICUOUSLY ABSENT: THE MOUNTAIN: has this dude killed anyone since he reappeared in armor? I feel like not, right? They must be building this up for something grand.   With only 2 episodes left in this season, how do you think things will wrap up? Your predictions, please!  
Please don't turn me into a marshmallow,


BRONN is spelled with a double n. It's been a while since I've seen all these names in print!

That said, my main point of contention with earlier season 7 episodes continues to problematically rear its head: characters are now moving across this world multiple times in the same episode! As some of you have pointed out, this contrasts so greatly with the sequential timing of the rest of the show that it's jarring to watch; we're not used to characters traveling by foot, horse, and wind-powered ships to move from extremity to extremity so quickly. Usually, there have been journeys, or it was only happening with one person amongst the cast, not the entire cast jumping around like Westeros was a checkers board and our cast the checkers. It is a bit much, but it also is what it is.

Maybe they could explain it away more easily if other people started riding dragons? Let's see where that goes.

Outside of the problematic geography and ease of travel, many plot lines continue to build to a forthcoming conclusion and that is sort of fun. Reunions continue to abound, some expected (Tyrion and Jaime) some far less so (read on, spoilers ahead).

In the south, people continue to worry about the problematic nature of dragons, that is, they tend to kill people, and often by burning them alive. Followers of the Mother of Dragon aren't really sure how they feel about this, now that it's happening in their own homeland--it's fine to burn a bunch of slavers, but when they start burning Westerosi lords and your former arms-men, it's easy to be conflicted. And enemies of the Mother of Dragons, well, they've now had a taste for the reality of the situation and found it to be ... bitter. Far too much reality, it turns out. Up until meeting a dragon, they thought they could win. Now, not so much.

[Editor's Note: This recap will obviously go into detail about last night's episode of Game of Thrones, so there are going to be a ton of spoilers. Final warning! ~ Nick, copied and pasted by Rick]

[Editor's 2nd Note: Apologies for my drinking my way through the episode and writing this recap, but it makes it hella more fun ya'll.]

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I will return on the third day for rent

It's a dark world out there, no matter how you look at it. There's bills a plenty, and not that much money to go around. The saying "you gotta do, what you gotta do" is more prevalent now than ever before. We've seen a lot of movies in the post 2008 recession about this type of stuff, but we've never seen it from the point of view of a child.

Enter The Florida Project by Tangerine director Sean Baker. The Florida Project tells the story of a single mother and child living in a budget motel just outside of Disney World. Told from the perspective of Moonee the innocent six year old child of Halley, the movie looks to show a different perspective on the struggles of everyday life. A forgotten view of the world now that we've all grown up and need to worry about things like money, jobs, and Willem Dafoe being your landlord.

The trailer while filled with childhood innocence and frivolity is balanced out by muted colors and a nagging reminder that all is not as rosy as it may seem. This looks to be a new turn for veteran Dafoe who outside of playing Jesus has spent years being the tough guy and now looks to be the compassionate father figure. The Florida Project will release on October 6th so look out Blade Runner, Dafoe's here to take your top spot.

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Do you want more Conjuring/Annabelle movies?

Aug 14 // Matthew Razak
1. Annabelle: Creation - $35,040,0002. Dunkirk - $11,405,0003. The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature - $8,934,7484. The Dark Tower - $7,875,0005. The Emoji Movie - $6,605,0006. Girls Trip - $6,520,5007. Spider-Man: Homecoming - $6,100,0008. Kidnap - $5,225,0009. The Glass Castle - $4,875,00010. Atomic Blonde - $4,572,350
And why would anyone buy that doll?

I liked The Conjuring well enough, and I do find creepy dolls really creepy, but of all the horror franchises in existence to have a horror "universe" born out of it I would not for a moment have guessed it would be the one about a frumpy married couple who get rid of ghosts. For it's own part all four movies in the series have, at the very least been decent, so far, but I'm just not sure how far audiences will be willing to go with this. Then again, we're getting like a 20th Saw movie too so, who the hell knows anymore. 

Horror franchises do lend themselves to endless sequels considering there's always a fresh crop of idiots to terrorize in every film, but Annabelle is very different monster than the slasher killers of the 80s. She doesn't really move or anything, and now that we know how she was created where are we going to go with this? Then again, maybe her lag of stabby stabby kill kill will keep the franchise interesting. Seems audiences are still engaged anyway.

So who can't wait for The Sawing: Annabelle Meets Jigsaw? (Sidenote: Freddy vs. Jason is a modern masterpiece.)


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Your Bad Movie Night Guide, Vol. 4: Tango & Cash

Aug 11 // Rick Lash
[embed]454271:69117:0[/embed] Tango & CashDirector: Andrei KonchalovskyRelease Date: December 22, 1989Rated: RWhere to Watch: Google Play COME FOR THE: The painful obsoletism of 80s insensitivity to culture, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation Sylvester Stallone actually attempting to play a refined character Belt on a wire makes a zipline [no it doesn't] STAY FOR THE: Teri Hatcher who's surprisingly young & surprisingly attractive [you kids may or may not know her from Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman or Desperate Housewives] The prevalent ponytail putdowns [Tango & Cash would not like the man-bun phenomena, not one bit] The whole prison movie sub-plot that I wittily entitled, The Shawshank took a Redumption WHATEVER THE FUCK THIS IS ... Tango & Cash was a familiar catch in my mind long before I ever saw it. Once heard, it can't really be unheard, after all, they titled it Tango & Cash. Imagine, Turner & Hooch [another 1989 buddy cop staple], with half the acting chops. Someone shopped this script around way back then, and when Sly and Kurt joined team SHOWER POWER, they said, FUCK IT, replace Kurt with Tom Hanks and change out Sly for a dog. Done! Eventually though, see it I did. And boy, once it's seen it can't be unseen. This is actually likely not true for something like 75-95% of its viewers. Most probably forget it instantly, never to dwell on it again, but for that remaining 5-25% of us thinkers out there, you'll revisit this masterpiece more than once, and save some for later. First and foremost, realize that this is a buddy cop movie, but one gone horribly awry. Very little about this movie makes sense. Scouring the internet and doing a deep dive into the research [visiting Wikipedia] yields a harrowing tale of a movie gone wrong, of directors and producers being replaced mid-production, or endings being rewritten, and Sylvester Stallone sacrificing production assistants to Gozer. Maybe Sly didn't sacrifice PAs, or anyone, but the movie's production was troubled, and subsequently, you're left with a film that doesn't know whether or not to take itself seriously. A film that at times, clearly seems to be run of the mill buddy cop fodder, and at times, wants to be all out spoof [think: Loaded Weapon versus Lethal Weapon].  Let's be honest, this thing is a straight rip-off of Lethal Weapon, but if the filmmakers made every decision wrong. Exhibit A: Martin Rigg's (aka Mel Gibson) hair versus Cash's (aka Kurt Russell). Mel Gibson, as Martin Riggs, from 1987's Lethal Weapon. Kurt Russell, as Mel Gibson, as Martin Riggs, from 1989's Tango & Cash. Yes, this is white guy white guy Lethal Weapon, and yes, that means Sylvester Stallone is Murtaugh. But moving beyond everything this movie is attempting to emulate, good or bad. There is a story here. No plot, but a story. Basically, you've got your average bad good cop meets other bad cop who are different, but not really, and are for some reason on the outs with a shadowy super-villain sort who will never simply just kill the good guys, but rather go to elaborate lengths to taunt, humiliate, harass, impede, and incapacitate. Literally, there's even a lair complete with a self-destruct countdown [why would self-destruct mechanisms ever have alarms that warn other people of the impending doom?]. I mean, not only is there a lair, and sub-villains that are constantly questioning the head villain as to why they don't merely kill the protagonists, but the head villain appears in a shadowy mist! Imagine most bad movie tropes ever, and you're likely to find some variation of it here. Terrible dialogue? Yes. Strip club? Yes. Absurd villains? Yes. The worst--this one even has a maze built into his custom lair bar just so he can make some obscure reference and metaphor about Tango & Cash being rats in a maze. I've seen it, and I can still barely make sense of it. I'm doing it again: lying. I don't understand it one bit. And it's glorious because of it. You'll likely not understand much about this movie other than it makes overtures at being things it isn't. Is it a spoof? Not really. Is it a buddy cop movie? Not at all. Is it hilarity for your mind? Absolute vodka. You'll need some to accompany your viewing. FUCK Despite Tango (Stallone) worry about it for a troublingly long time, Cash (Russell) doesn't bang Tango's sister (Hatcher). BLUE BALLS WARNING!!! BLUE BALLS! BLUE BALLS! BLUE BALLS! But one dude does get FUBAR'd, and how. Which is good, because Cash threatens it throughout the whole movie  MARRY Sorry, the only kind of proposal in this film is the indecent kind that Robert Redford whispered to Demi Moore, except with more soap dropping and prison gang showers KILL 80% of the film features only 3 deaths, and after that, it's a true shit show, with more deaths than one can possibly be expected to count: so let's just say at least a 1,000 UBER DIALOG Tango: Do you think he's telling the truth? Cash: I don't know, but it's not raining and he's standing in a puddle. One of them: Let's take him alive. *They shoot him in the head* Tango: My sights are off. Cash: Mine too. Did you and my sister bump uglies!?    
The original shower buddy cop movie

Imagine a time when movie heroes were heroes not for being pretty, metrosexual types capable of playing a broad range of characters aptly displaying a broad spectrum of emotions, but because they had big muscles, or knew kung-fu. The year is 1989, and two such heroes are Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell. Another wildly popular trope of the time period is buddy cop movies. Do you sense what's coming here? You're sensing wrong. The team behind Tango & Cash decided that buddy cop movies had been done. It was time for a brand new type of movie: so they made one, the first ever shower buddy cop movie. You're welcome.


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mother! trailer with Jennifer Lawrence makes you wee in your pants a little bit

Aug 11 // Rick Lash
I've just peed myself a bit. Oh just fine and dandy, Mr. Aronofsky. You make a movie with a couple of love birds and then spray blood all over it. I'm not sure what sort of filmmaker you are, but clearly you're confused. What's that? *indecipherable, speaking to intern* He directed Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream? Oh no. No, no, no. Don't do this to J-Bar-Law! Their romantic couple name is too cute! (and sounds like a  great law firm to call ... 1-888-J-BAR-LAW, right!) Have a sip of this brandy to calm my nerves. And, yes. Just another sip. That's better. Well, at least it looks like there's a rave of some kind; it can't be all that bad. mother! [lower-case 'M' intended] bows September 15. Will you rush to the theaters to pee your pants? What other unlikely pairings would you like to see Jennifer Lawrence in onscreen? Let us know in the comments.
Just a drop or two, but still!

I've always thought Jennifer Lawrence (PassengersThe Hunger Games) and Javier Bardem (SkyfallNo Country for Old Men) would make a great couple. Like, they have so much in common, and obviously there'd just be so much charisma there, wow. So, I'm happy to see that director Darren Aronofsky thought the same thing and put them in a movie together as a happily married couple living out a tranquil life in a big house in the country.

Only, I'm not happy. Because I can't even tell if they're supposed to be married based off this trailer. In fact, what with the creepy fonts and violin music, I'm more scared than anything else. What sort of romantic comedy is this? Was that blood?


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Lionsgate CEO says more Twilight, Hunger Games coming soon

Aug 10 // Rick Lash
This is the Hollywood sequel Shitstorm-slash-Money-Train [Woody Harrelson & Wesley Snipes not included] and you are cordially invited to the show. And its sequel. And its spinoff. And the spinoffs sequel. You get the idea. If there's any money to be made, people will make it. Wise movie-going audiences don't seem to exist yet, and thus, there is plenty of money to be made. It's why we have 14 TRANSFORMERS MOVIES IN THE WORKS. A Bumblebee spinoff? *Herby rolls over in his compact grave* If you recall Suicide Squad, and chances are you shouldn't [the one time I actually almost left a theater before a movie ended], you probably don't remember just how awful it was. Like, if you saw it, your brain should have repressed the memories to retain its sanity. How can that make hundreds of millions of dollars? *Brain explodes* Suicide Squad's sequel is already in development. And both Twilight, as much as I hate to admit, and The Hunger Games are far superior properties: of course the franchise owner will mine these properties until their mine shafts collapse killing everyone inside. It's nature. Or corporate greed. Whichever. Examine this: so-called relaunches, remakes, and reboots only need a cooling off period of several years, sometimes as few as 2. Audiences refresh that quickly, or their memories are that bad. Each franchise could potentially have new iterations in less than a decade. Wait for the inevitable crossover, Katniss Everdeen: Vampire Slayer.     [Via Variety]
Vampires never say die!

Jon Feltheimer, formerly known as the CEO of Lionsgate, now known as the man who made teenage dreams come true, told Wall Street investors that there is no way his studio won't make more Twilight movies about angsty teenage vampires and their mewling human crushes or about dystopian entertainment Hunger Games movies that aren't as good as The Running Man. You know, if author/creators Stephanie Meyer and Suzanne Collins are into it. And, if fellow author J.K. Rowling's propensity for making movies based off nonexistent books is any indicator [hint: it is], they will be because, survey says: MONEY!

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With Blackjack! And Hookers!

We have some big news today.

Disney announced during its earnings report on Tuesday that all of its movies will be taken off of Netflix. The two corporate monoliths inked a deal back in 2012 stating that Disneys future properties would be available to stream on Netflix in 2016. Now all that has changed, and at the end of 2018, all Disney films will be taken down from the streaming giant. That includes all Pixar titles as well.

Instead of using Netflix, Disney intends to launch its very own super-deluxe streaming service in 2019 where potential customers will be able to stream their films. Details are light about this new service (it doesn't even have a name yet) but we can assume it will include all Disney films currently on Netflix, like Rouge One: A Star Wars Story and Moana, and possibly more. After all, the Netflix-Disney deal only included films released after January 1, 2016, and Disney has one hell of a back-catalogue they could deploy onto this new streaming service.

In addition, Disney stated that they are planning "significant investment" into television series and movies available exclusively for this new platform. So on top of the cavalcade of Marvel movies, Star Wars films, and Disney-animated features, this platform will host original content.

Well, that's a lot to take in. Just as we got used to the convenience of the our most popular blockbusters being available to stream, we'll soon have them taken away. And what is this Disney streaming service? Will it have Disneys back-catalogue of films? What kind of original programming will we see on this new platform? Will there be any non-Disney movies available, like Netflix has? Or will this be more of an HBO styled approach? There are so many unaswered questions right now, and no answers in sight.

Still, it's hard to be uninterested with such a big development like this. We'll keep an eye out for any future updates to this story.

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Karl Urban is open to starring in the Dredd TV Series

Aug 08 // Drew Stuart
The series was only announced in May, so we probably won't see any new developments for some time. Still, Urban's interest is a significant boon for the show, and it seems Urban would only join the project if it looked promising to him. If so, Urban may well be the judge of whether the show is a worthwhile watch. Stick around right here at Flixist for futher updates to Judge Dredd: Mega-City One. [via TrekMovie]  
Attention, citizens of Peach Trees...

Back in 2012, Dredd was the sleeper-hit action movie none of us knew we wanted. Sure, it seemed like just another phoned in action-flick, but director Pete Travis took the campy premise to amazing heights with solid execution (heh) of the ultra-violent action, simple story and fun characters. Yet another reason people loved Dredd was for it's leading actor, Karl Urban. Urban's scowling face (or just his jaw), gruff delivery of dialogue, and large presence on screen brought Judge Dredd to life.

So, when IM Global and Rebellion started working the TV Series Judge Dredd: Mega-City One, fans asked: Will Urban return? The answer could be a yes.

In an interview with TrekMovie, Urban divulged that he is in talks with the producers of Mega City One about reprising his role as Judge Dredd,

I am in discussions with them about that. I told them that if they write the material and give Dredd something to do and give him a function, I will be there. I would love to.

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Game of Thrones Season 7 Recap: 'The Spoils of War'

Aug 08 // Rick Lash
After sacking Highgarden and sending Lady Olena to her timely end, Jaime Lannister and friends have departed for the open road with their spoils (read: looted treasure and supplies), and [probably] Highgarden's legendary collection of bootlegged DVDs. Oh hey, Bron's there too, still being Bron, making inappropriate jokes to inappropriate people and demanding more payment than he's already received. It's good to see that some characters are steadfastly themselves throughout the series' run; no evolution there [or is there?--more on this later]. There is some throwaway material of Cersei with the representative [not a lord] from the Iron Bank, which had predominantly been covered. There are brief allusions to The Golden Company which enjoys an expanded and fun role in the novels and also to further help should they successfully pay off their debts. Thankfully, these are short moments, and not a lot of the 50 minutes is spent here. And now, welcome to the Game of Thrones 10-year High School Reunion where everybody's catching up with everybody! Oh snap, you're a lady now? Do tell, girlfriend. And what now? You're a ninja? When the shit did that happen? The scenes that unfold at Winterfell, with Arya's long-awaited return home, as well as at Dragonstone when Theon unwittingly comes ashore to a none-too-thrilled Jon, and even on the road between High Garden and King's Landing, where a pseudo-reunion between Tyrion and Jaime occurs, are amazing and immensely satisfying. It's easy to forget just how long some of these characters have been separated onscreen. Arya, is separated from the rest of the Starks all the way back in season 1. It has been an incredibly long journey for her, and, as we see, she's come a long way. Much of the post-episode talk will no doubt center around the culminating battle between Daenerys and her Dothraki 'hoard' and Jaime and his Lannister forces. It's epic, and it's the first time we've really seen any of the dragons, at full-size, take on large-scale forces. It's as epic as you'd expect, and probably satisfied anyone who was complaining about slow-pacing, erroneous sex scenes, or confusing timelines [read: me]. However, for me, the other moments, seeing Jon take Theon by the throat and let him know the only reason he's alive is because he helped Sansa, or seeing Arya reunite with Brienne of Tarth for some good old-fashioned sword-play, are incredible moments. They emphasize just how big George R.R. Martin's world his, how diverse the cast, and how intricately their sprawling plot lines became. Simultaneously, we're reminded that the end is drawing near, and those many, many loose threads, cast in the wind as the newborn brood of a spider, are all being pulled taught to return back to the core. There's hardly enough to say of the Arya-Brienne scene, as it's loaded with call-backs to earlier moments, including, if I'm not mistaken, that Arya is displaying a little bit of Sirio Forel's water dancing? She's really stealing the season, thus far--and Littlefinger seems to take heavy notice. Too much notice? I wasn't really sure if he was considering abandoning his redhead fetish for something Stark with a little more zest? Whatever was happening, it was appreciation, or perhaps further apprehension, as we saw develop when he interacts with Bran. On that front, what's up with Littlefinger giving Bran the assassin's dagger? PLEASE LEAVE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS IN THE COMMENTS. It's clear that Bran knows much more about who tried to have him killed, Littlefinger's involvement, or Littlefinger's betrayals of the Stark family in general. This is further solidified when Bran regifts the dagger to Arya--someone with the skills to use it.  FINAL THOUGHTS This dialogue between Sansa and Arya was amazing: Arya: It doesn't look like him. It should have been carved by someone who knew his face. Sansa: Everyone who knew his face is dead. Arya: We're not. I was wrong about Ser Jorah--apparently no one shared how to apparate with him. He must still be underage. When do you think he'll reappear with Danny? Bran's continued hinting at preternatural powers is awesome--he's just making himself so weird, including blowing off Meera Reed, who, this time, at least gets to speak. Why can't he just speak to someone normally instead of cryptically referencing things he clearly shouldn't know about? On that front--it's cool that he admits that while he's no longer "Brandon Stark," he still remembers what it feels like to be him. And thus, he sets whatever he's set in motion between Arya, the dagger, and Littlefinger. That Stark part he remembers clearly wants in on the revenge game. Why the hell did Danny only bring 1 of 3 dragons? I know you're going to tell me it's because there was no one else to ride them, but we've seen them get in on the action before, haven't we? And if that's the case, what good is it having three? For spares? And why isn't she trying to find other riders? OK, so Danny can't ride all three dragons at once, I get it. Why the hell was she blowing up wagons instead of annihilating archers and other soldiers? That one needs more explaining. And, if Bron gives her what equates to a warning shot, why would she possibly just fly the dragon right at the scorpion again? I don't understand the strategy. Tyron calling Jaime a fucking idiot is hilarious--also, interesting to see he still cares enough about his brother that he wants him to live; unclear how he expects that could possibly occur while he's at odds with Daenerys. Daenerys puts Tyrion in his place--it's odd she only doubts him now after his failures--wouldn't the level of trust have begun that low and possibly improved with time? Not the other way around? Hoping The Golden Company makes an appearance, if for no other reason than to see their gold standard of the skulls of their former commanders. HOLD YOUR HORSES (and dragons): yes, the supply chain was burned, but Sam's dad, Randyll Tarly told Jaime most of the gold was inside the city. So Cerise's good standing with the Iron Bank is still in tact. Who will her new allies include? Jaime is totally under Cersei's finger, again. Even as we opened the season, he was disillusioned with where they stood in the world and subsequently what that world was. She gives him one little bit of sister-brother swordplay and he's ready to sacrifice himself by charging a full-grown dragon on horseback. GOOD THING BRON EVOLVED just enough to save the man holding his money purse! Or did he? It's unclear if Jaime will survive or not. After all, he's in full armor and wearing a golden hand. Not exactly easy to float in that. My gut says we've not seen the last of Jaime, though. WHO WAS THERE: Jon, Danny, Missandei, Varys, Tryion, Davos, Jaime, Cersei, Sansa, Littlefinger, Davos, Bran, Meera Reed, Theon, Arya, Brienne, Pod, THE DOTHRAKI HOARD, Randyll Tarly, some other Tarly, ONE DRAGON WHO'S CONSPICUOUSLY ABSENT: Sam (I've come to rely on his humorous interludes), THE OTHER DRAGONS, The Hound (where has he wandered off to?), GENDRY (this is the hinted bastard of Robert Baratheon, down to his legendary talent with a warhammer--when the hell will he reappear and crush some people with his blacksmith-born musculature? Dying for this! Will he crush Cersei's head? Let's hope so. Lot's of people vying for that honor though.  
Everyone loves reunions

Last week, we left Game of Thrones feeling the episode was "effective and satisfying." Well, HBO heard our applause and answered the call for an encore, delivering us The Spoils of War, which at 50 minutes in running time was short  and that didn't matter at all. There were overtures of and to things that I've harked on already from season 7; players continue to jump about the Westerosi map like they're using Roddenbury-like technology, and Danny feels inclined to ask Missandei about her sexual adventures with Greyworm and his worm--let's be honest--let's hope he's not named for that. But otherwise, the episode delivers many satisfying reunions, moments that define what we've been waiting for throughout the GoT run, and plenty of just desserts.

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See Annabelle: Creation early and free

Aug 04 // Matthew Razak
DC: Tuesday, August 8 – 7:00 PMAMC Mazza Gallerie Baltimore: Tuesday, August 8 – 7:30 PM (*Note different start time)AMC Columbia
Annabelle photo
Washington DC and Baltimore screenings

If you had told me that The Conjuring would spawn a franchise of horror films over the coming years from its release I would have been pretty surprised. Yet here we are with a sequel to a spin-off from that film. Who knows how long they can play this out, but I'll admit that Annabelle is a creepy ass doll. Feel like being creeped out? Grab some passes.

Remember your seats aren't saved so get there early and come back and tell us what you thought. 

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Another chance at another turn

The Dark Tower movie is out and it's a bit of a let down, but that isn't going to stop production companies MCR and Sony from trying to move this thing into a full blown franchise. News has come that Glen Mazzara of  Walking Dead fame has been tapped to be the showrunner for the still-in-the-works TV show that will focus on Roland's coming of age in Gilead. Not much else is known about the series as the only casting made is Idris Elba returning to the role of a much younger Roland. 

While I didn't love the movie I'm still happy that the TV show has a chance. Wizard and Glass, the book that the show will be mostly based off of, is an outlier from the rest of the series as its a flashback to the Arthurian western kingdom of Gilead where Roland was raised. It's a really cool concept, and I'm dying to see it on the screen. The show is being seen as an origin story and as such can operate pretty independently from the movie so I don't hate the idea of everyone getting a second crack at the franchise. A TV show is easily the way to go with some this complex anyway.

Of course this could all go away. If the movie doesn't catch on and Sony gets cold feet then we may not see the show come to light. It doesn't have a network yet, though since it's aiming for a short run (10-12 episodes) it'll probably target cable or Netflix where that format is more accepted. 

There'll be water if god will it, I suppose.

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Review: Detroit

Aug 04 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]221783:43719:0[/embed] DetroitDirector: Kathryn BigelowRelease Date: July 28, 2017 (Limited); August 4 (Nationwide)Rating: R It takes a while for you to realize that Detroit has main characters. The characters introduced in the aforementioned opening have no significance to the rest of the plot, and to some extent seem to exist primarily to show an African American police officer breaking things up. It's unique in the film. Aside from John Boyega's Dismukes, a security guard (his second job) who gets caught up in the whole thing and is referred to as an "Uncle Tom" for believing in the fundamental goodness of the police (for a while anyway), there isn't really anything like that. Once the riots are underway, white folks become the pretty clear enemy, and they stay that way from beginning to end. Spoiler: This is no white savior narrative. But before I get into that (and believe me, I'll get into that), it's worth discussing what Detroit is actually showing: war. Kathryn Bigelow's last two films, The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, were set in actual warzones, and this feels like a natural progression. The movie feels like it's documenting a war. The camera shakes in close up throughout, and it's disorienting and violent. It's a literally dizzying reflection of the feelings of its characters, the ones who eventually come to the forefront. As the riots progress, we begin to see some of the same faces over and over again, though we also see new ones who have little significance but add to the constant tension. But because of this, I genuinely wasn't sure if we would ever have a "protagonist." It's an ensemble film, so in a sense we don't, but the film does ultimately end up following one character in particular, and it wasn't the person I expected. (It's not a spoiler, but I'll leave it anyway.) The film's key sequence, when everything comes to a head and you finally learn what the movie is about, is the better part of an hour spent at the Algiers hotel. With an almost exclusively black clientele (minus a couple of white out-of-town women, whose presence is important for a whole host of reasons), it becomes the site for a disturbing case study in police brutality. After someone fires a starter pistol at police and the national guard on the streets, the hotel is swarmed. Now, considering this is a place with literal sniper fire, it makes sense that they would take a threat like that seriously. But what happens is more complicated than that. As a white guy, I'm not particularly concerned about or by the police. I feel safer with police around than I do when they aren't. I know that is not the case for everyone. I know some people feel the exact opposite way. They will walk out of Detroit and say, "Yeah, pretty much." (History has a habit of repeating itself.) But to someone like me, the film is a genuinely frustrating one. The characters, based on real people from stories about an actual event that took place during the riots. Its development was not unlike the one that begot Zero Dark Thirty, though the methods for information gathering on ZD30 are arguably suspect, what with its particular depiction of the use and efficacy of torture... but I'm getting off track. I trust the events as they are depicted in this film. Bits and pieces may well be fictionalized, as sometimes they must be, but it seems not only plausible but probable that something like this would happen. And that leads to a person who looks like me to feel really gosh darn conflicted. Because as the events occurred, nearly none of what happens "had" to happen. There was an "easy" way to deal with the police, who came in screaming and violently throwing people up against the wall. People could have told the truth, and I wanted to believe so badly that it would have made a difference. And the thing is, everyone was telling the truth, but no one was telling the whole truth. The not-real gun is mentioned only once; by that point, it's way too late.  But here's the thing: If I told the police what had happened, I have every reason to believe that they would trust me. And maybe that's foolhardy, but I genuinely think so. I also have every reason to believe that the men depicted in Detroit (and perhaps many police officers working today) wouldn't have believed them. If they said, "It was a toy gun and not a sniper rifle," would that have made a difference? Certainly they didn't seem to think so, otherwise they presumably would have brought it up in the first place. But even after the building is torn apart looking for a weapon and them finding nothing (including said starter pistol), do I think the whole truth would have saved anyone? No, not really. And that is infuriating. But as much as it's infuriating, I genuinely think it's vital. And I think it's particularly vital that white people watch it, because it's not a movie about them. White people are not the protagonists, and their experience isn't the focus; they exist primarily as foils to hammer all of this home. There's not a lot of that, certainly not enough of it, but unlike a film like Moonlight, this confronts whiteness. Get Out did that in a very different way, and it was critically acclaimed for that (and everything else about it). And it stirred up bullshit controversy from folks who didn't see it and claimed it was racist. Get Out took aim at the more subtle racism that pervades our modern society, whereas there's nothing subtle about the actions of the police in Detroit. But you know what? There's overt racism all over this country, bubbling barely underneath the surface. (Source: Seth Steven-Davidowitz's Everybody Lies) To really grapple with Detroit and what it portrays is not a pleasant thing. It dramatizes a barely historical version of the events that we see played out in the news all the time, and the inherently visceral nature of cinema (in comparison to police dash cam footage) makes you think. It makes you think about where we've been. It makes you think about where we are now. It makes you think about how far we've come, and how far we haven't. It makes you think about what the President of the United States said seven days ago. It makes you think about what the Justice Department has made moves towards doing earlier this week. And whether it ultimately changes anything or not, working to connect those dots and contemplate some truly unsettling conclusions is an important first step. It's certainly changed the way I approach certain things, as I think the past however many words has made clear. I have no doubt that parts of this review are problematic, and I only scratched the surface of everything this film brings up (regarding the aforementioned white women and John Boyega's characters in particular). And those are things I hope to talk about with people as they see the film (because they really, really should.). Detroit won't change the world. It won't fix racism or even put a chip into its armor. But maybe it can start a dialogue with people loathe to talk about these kinds of issues. I hope so.
Detroit Review photo
History, but not really

In the opening scene of Detroit, a large group of African Americans are rounded up and arrested en masse for having an indoor party; their crime: not having a liquor license, supposedly. They are put in the backs of paddy wagons until everyone there is gone.

On the day the film hit limited release, the president of the United States of America said the following: "And when you see these towns, and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon—you just see them thrown in, rough. I said, 'Please don't be too nice.' Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head—the way you put the hand over, like don't hit their head, and they've just killed somebody. Don't hit their head. I said, 'You can take the hand away, okay?'"

I mean... I can just stop right there, right? That fact should be enough to make it very clear that this movie is disturbingly relevant in a way that not even the filmmakers could have envisioned. Detroit may not be the best film based on true events with a seven-letter title named after a real place beginning with a D to come out in the past month, but it's sure as hell the most important.

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Review: The Dark Tower

Aug 04 // Matthew Razak
[embed]221796:43721:0[/embed] The Dark TowerDirector: Nikolaj ArcelRelease Date: August 4, 2017Rated: PG-13 The Dark Tower is one of those movies that you're going to get a lot more out of if you've read the books despite the fact that it is really only loosely based on them at all. There are hints and allusions to bigger things that readers will pick up on, but much of the massive quest that Roland (Idris Elba), Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) and their ka-tet (those bound by fate) go on in the books as they confront the Man in Black/Walter (Matthew McConaughey) is missing. The film pieces together key parts here and there, dropping entire characters in what feels like an attempt to put much of the quest into a 90 minute running time.  In our world we find Jake having dreams of the Dark Tower and the Man in Black/Walter, a powerful wizard who can kill simply by telling people to stop breathing. He is nigh-invulnerable and more akin to a comic book super villain than the mysterious trickster of the books. Using the "shine" of children kidnapped from the many worlds that are all connected by the tower, Walter is attempting to destroy it in order to let the blackness in from the outside. Enter the gunslingers of Mid-World, of which Roland is the last one. His sole quest is to kill Walter in order to get revenge for the death of his father and the fall of his homeland Gilead. Eventually Jake, who is gifted with the most powerful amount of shine ever, finds his way into Mid-World and the two set off on a universe-hopping quest to stop Walter. That, my friends, is the least complicated way of explaining the plot that the film has attempted to cram into a 90 minutes. There's a lot of lore and other items that get shoved in here and there too, but instead of opening up the story all the different themes and myths make it more obtuse and unfocused. As a reader of the books I understood a lot of the background that was going on and where ideas came from, but coming from an outside perspective it must feel more like idea vomit -- a bunch of tropes pushed onto the screen one after the other. It makes for a flat film that peaks the few times it focuses on its characters and not the world. Those characters do work, but thanks to the limited running time we never really get to know them. Idris Elba's gunslinger shows hints of the depth behind his fantastically stoic front, but he's never able to turn it into anything thanks to the movie heavily focusing on the far less interesting Jake and overplaying Walter. McConaughty is fantastically slimy as the wizard/magician/evil-person, and a far better choice of casting than I thought he would be, but instead of an air of mystery about the character they turn him into a big bad that plays generic. Taylor meanwhile plays Jake well enough for a child actor, but as the linchpin for the film his character feels more like a McGuffin than an actual person.  This isn't all to say that The Dark Tower is a bad movie, but instead of the tent pole of a large franchise it feels like a half-baked standalone. In that light it could be seen as a moderate success, delivering some interesting concepts here and there. Roland's gun fighting shines every so often as interesting, and Walter's ability to have people do anything he wants is played up for effect pretty well. The action itself is pretty interesting, but limited as well. Roland's expertise with the six-shooters delivers some memorable moments, but Arcel can't piece together a coherent enough action sequence to make anything truly stand out. There's things that work here, just not in a big picture way. They work in a single scene way. Walter's nearly unlimited super powers are a great example of this. They seem immeasurable and unstoppable, which makes for some enjoyably evil scenes, but on the whole make more of a mess. They raise questions about why a man who can hurl massive chunks of buildings that could easily crush our hero doesn't do just that the second he wants to. Roland is supposedly a bit immune to Walter's magic, but he's clearly not immune to being crushed, stabbed, or run over by large objects, which in turn are not immune to Walter's ability to hurl them through the air at Roland.   This leads directly to the biggest issue the film may have. Since Walter is turned into a super villain instead of the enigmatic torturer of Roland he no longer acts as a convincing foil. The great metaphorical duel between the two characters is nothing more than a shootout since the film doesn't spend any time developing the cat and mouse game it wants the two to be playing. There is no true tension there. Roland and Jake's relationship is a bit better, with the replacement father/son story line giving charm to the two, but it again often feels forced thanks to the movie's breakneck pace to get to its conclusion. I do have to applaud the film for avoiding a direct adaptation. While King's first book in the series could have maybe kind of been turned into a film it would have been a mess from there out. Instead The Dark Tower takes a cue from the books and presents the story as the last time around the wheel (another reference fans will love, but newcomers won't understand). It's a good move that means the film (and still in the works TV show) can forge their own path that isn't bound by the idiosyncrasy of the books, and if the movie was anything other than dull it could have worked. I stress this because I'm not upset that the film isn't like the books, but that it isn't that good on its own. The Dark Tower series has some magic in its world that is engrossing, but this movie can't find it. It's not an issue with ignoring the source material, it's an issue of making a good movie. 
The elevator pitch of an epic

If you've read Stephen King's prolific Dark Tower saga you know it's a weird, wonderful, flawed, brilliant, mess of an epic that touches so many genres it's hard to classify it at all. It bounces from western to science fiction to fantasy to horror and so on at the author's whim, and goes from weird (sentient monorails) to weirder (Stephen King himself showing up) as it goes along.

You also know that while on the surface it appears to be a simple quest story about Roland, an Arthurian cowboy, on a quest to find the Dark Tower it is just as much about Stephen King himself, the creative process, and the nature of storytelling itself. It was written over the course of 30 years with what was clearly no plan and no direction. It is a wonderful mess, and if you haven't read it I highly encourage you to dive in.

That's all to say that adapting the story to screen is far more complex than it may sound, and studios have been trying for the last 10 years since King finished the saga. Finally, someone has gotten it done. Their solution to tackling a big, messy, interesting, unique world? Condense it down to nothing. 

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Wax nostalgic, Daniel-san: Karate Kid sequel series Cobra Kai headed to YouTube Red

Aug 04 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]221797:43722:0[/embed] The original 1984 film is a sentimental favorite of mine. Directed by the late John G. Avildsen (who also directed Rocky), The Karate Kid is one of those great misfit friend movies about lonely outcasts who find each other. In this case, it's about finding a father figure and finding a son, which is sold by the touching rapport between Macchio and Morita. It also has people getting kicked in the face, and that "You're the Best" song. I'm a little worried that this show is being done as a comedy, however. Sure, it's easy to play up the kitschiness and quotableness of the first movie, but there was a lot of heart in the original Karate Kid, and even in its two immediate (and imperfect) sequels. (Let us not speak of The Next Karate Kid. Ever.) If Cobra Kai is a Johnny-centric comedy, the show might just devolve into an 80s-reference goofball farce. Hopefully the series can go deeper than that, though I have my doubts. Also, YouTube Red? Who the hell has YouTube Red? Jeez. Are you excited? Are you baffled? Do you, like the bonsai tree, have a strong root? Let us know in the comments. And, while you're there, GET HIM A BODY BAAAAAAG! [via THR]
Ralph Macchio and William Zabka to star

Your nostalgia has just crane kicked you in the face. A 10-episode half-hour sequel series to The Karate Kid is coming to YouTube Red, starring Ralph Macchio and William Zabka. There was reportedly a bidding war for the series between various streaming platforms, that also included Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and AMC. (I assume Netflix didn't have the money for it.)

Titled Cobra Kai, the series picks up 30 years after the tournament at the end of the first film. Described by The Hollywood Reporter as a comedy, Cobra Kai will follow a down-on-his-luck Johnny (Zabka), who re-opens the Cobra Kai dojo. He inevitably runs afoul of Daniel, who is struggling to balance his life without his friend and teacher Mr. Miyagi (the late Pat Morita, who was nominated for an Oscar for this role). Then they fight, I guess.

The show will be written by Josh Heald (Hot Tub Time Machine) and writing duo Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (Harold and Kumar). No word on if Martin Cove or Thomas Ian Griffith will reprise their roles as top tier Cobra Kai baddies John Kreese and Terry Silver. (Terry Silver, incidentally, is the best over-the-top villain.)

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