Friday, April 29, 2016

Oscars 2017: Best Actor Predictions (April)

Here are my updated predictions for Best Actor for the month of April. Let's see how the race may begin to take shape.

Joel Edgerton, Loving: The film is competing in Cannes, has a proper distributor as well as touchy subject matter, is based on a true story, and an awards-friendly release date in November. When he made the rounds for Black Mass, that might've been the tip of the iceberg.

Andrew Garfield, Silence: He was a likely 6th for Best Supporting Actor for The Social Network and he's starring in a prestige picture by Scorsese. So that'd be one way to make up for his exclusion.

Michael Keaton, The Founder: His Birdman loss still stings and he was in the last two Best Picture winners. So he is on something of a hot streak, proving that his Birdman run wasn't just a one-off.

Nate Parker, The Birth Of A Nation: Judging by his big speech in the trailer, he may already have his Oscar clip prepped and ready to go.

Denzel Washington, Fences: He's a two-time Oscar winner directing and starring in the Broadway adaptation. Also, much like co-star Viola Davis, he won a Tony for the role he's playing the film. So if Davis is the Best Actress winner on paper, it only makes sense to nominate her co-star.

Dark Horses:

Casey Affleck, Manchester By The Sea: The film was a critical darling at Sundance. But will it be more than just a critical darling?

Michael Fassbender, The Light Between Oceans: Looks like a strong acting showcase. But will it be more than just an acting showcase?

Colin Firth, Deep Water: Welcome back nomination, perhaps?

Ryan Gosling, La La Land: He is a previous nominee in a musical about Hollywood.

David Oyelowo, A United Kingdom: Will the film, which doesn't have a U.S. distributor and deals with an interracial couple, be overshadowed by Loving?

Dev Patel, Lion: It looks like the film will be Harvey's top contender given its November release date. So it would make sense to nominate its lead star who missed out for the Oscar juggernaut Slumdog Millionaire. 

Chris Pratt, Passengers: If the movie lights box office fire and is positively received, it could be more than just an inevitable tech play.

Will Smith, Collateral Beauty: Didn't make it for Concussion but who's to say he won't try again.

Oscars 2017: Best Supporting Actor Predictions (April)

After posting my updated predictions on the actress categories, it's time to now focus on the boys. First, I'll give my predictions for Best Supporting Actor. Let's take a look:

Armie Hammer, Birth Of A Nation: In case Nate Parker doesn't crack the Best Actor field, they'll need at least one actor to represent the band of actors and the film itself. 

Oscar Isaac, The Promise: Isaac is somebody whose profile has risen thanks to Star Wars and he'll also be seen in the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse. One thing that helps his potential cause for The Promise is that it's a period drama by Terry George who guided Don Cheadle and Sophie Okonedo to Oscar nods for Hotel Rwanda. Also, it makes sense to honor a man whose namesake comes from the trophy, right?

Ben Mendelsohn, Una: Another actor who is seeing his profile rising thanks to the show Bloodline and the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. While Una doesn't have a U.S. distributor yet and while the play the movie is based on is a two-hander since he'll likely share the screen with Rooney Mara, he's the kind of actor's actor that tends to be placed in they category.

Liam Neeson, Silence: On paper, I think Neeson is the winner. One reason is Scorsese, another is that Supporting Actor is often the veteran achievement award, and since the film is about a couple of priests retrieving their kidnapped mentor and Neeson is the kidnapped mentor, that could lead to some emotional clip scenes. So their might be a sense that it's Neeson's year.

Edward Norton, Collateral Beauty: With 3 nominations under his belt, Norton I think is maybe one or two nominations away from having a trophy on his mantle. Out of the actors in his ensemble, I could see him being a representation for the whole cast.

Dark Horses:

Mahershal Ali, Moonlight: He's set to have a prolific 2016. Could he benefit from the film which looks to have a lot of promise?

Tadanobu Asano/Adam Driver, Silence: Double dipping in this category, perhaps?

Aaron Eckhart, Sully: Starring in a Clint Eastwood film and he's also got the boxing drama Bleed For This to aid his cause.

John Goodman, 10 Cloverfield Lane: Pretty please?!

Steve Martin, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk: They gave him an Honorary Oscar. Maybe he could finally be in the running for the real thing.

Nick Offerman, The Founder: Comedian going serious.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Review: The Jungle Book (2016)

                    'The Jungle Book' Has Me Wanting To Swing Back

               As I went in to actually see the film, it didn't occur to me until then that I went to go see this on Earth Day. Now it sort of makes sense why I saw it. That and the fact that this is one heck of a fun time!

     The Jungle Book is a retelling of the classic tale of a boy named Mowgli (Neel Sethi) who is forced out of the jungle he has always called his home by a bengal tiger known as Shere Khan (Idris Elba). The rest of the film deals with the bonds between him and the animals in his forest as well as him fighting to claim back his jungle.
   What I thought was most impressive was the visual effects. The movie consists of Neel Sethi acting in front a green screen and yet the forest setting along with the animals both look very real. Before seeing the film, I was unsure how it would translate into a live-action adaptation. But it translated very well.

   Speaking of Neel Sethi, I thought he was tremendous. For such a young child actor, he was able to carry the entire film that consists of him acting in front of a green screen. Here is hoping he has a decent career out of this.

   I also really liked the voices behind the animals. A few standouts include Bill Murray as the bear Baloo who was hilarious yet at times heartfelt. Also, Idris Elba brought incredible menace to the role of Shere Khan, demonstrating his vocal range as this is a completely different role from Zootopia where he played the straight-laced yet well-meaning Chief Bogo. Lupita Nyong'o also has a role as Mowgli's adoptive wolf mother Raksha and I was surprised at how big of a role she had. They didn't really advertise her character in the commercials or the trailers so I feared she had a minor role. But it was bigger than the trailers suggested. She did a good job with what she was given and she has me longing to see her back in live action. Thankfully, Queen of Katwe doesn't come out until September.

   Another thing that made this thing very special is how director Jon Favreau is able to weave in different genre elements. It's very funny at times yet there were a few points where I thought I would cry. Even though it's a children's movie, there are still some scenes of great intensity, but it also has some musical numbers. So it's got a little something for everyone, taking an old classic tale and creating an eclectic film going experience that makes a classic.


   Overall, The Jungle Book is an amazing experience for the whole family that adapts a classic story and creates a film that contains what makes a classic piece of cinema: It's funny, sad, musical, intense, and all around, just a great time at the movies. Don't miss it!

Grade: A+

Topic Of The Day: Robert Downey, Jr. Joins Spider-Man: Homecoming

Hello, Bloggers. Welcome to another episode of Topic Of The Day. For today's topic, I will discuss a recent casting update for the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming. Apparently, Robert Downey, Jr. is in talks to reprise his role as Iron Man. To me, that puts me in a dilemma as to whether or not I actually want to see this and I'll explain why.

First off, they don't even need Iron Man. If people see Spider-Man slinging away in the previews, they'll go no matter who is in it. Just as long as they see Spider-Man because the character sells. I fear that if Iron Man gets woven in somehow, it'll feel less like a solo Spider-Man movie which is something I want to see. I want to get to know more about these newer characters like Ant-Man, Black Panther, and even Spider-Man despite him technically not being a new character. To know more about these characters, I think one way to do that is to give them some breathing room in their own pictures.

Also, if you look at Robert Downey, Jr.'s upcoming slate of films, all he has on the horizon are Marvel movies. So to appear in another one after Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War, where he apparently was originally meant to have a cameo, makes RDJ seem a houseguest overstaying his welcome. Even if RDJ is the face of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you don't want to oversaturate your product. So to slowly pop in everyone's Marvel movies while earning significantly more then your fellow superheroes just screams ego to me.

Before RDJ was announced to be in talks for the film, Michael Keaton was circling the main villain role. But now, Keaton is no longer in talks. If Keaton ended up being in it, I would probably still go to see Keaton go from an interesting switch from DC to Marvel since he is course, known for being Batman. But if RDJ is in it and has a larger role, I probably will debate on whether or not I will go. In fact, I was unsure about seeing Captain America: Civil War at first because of RDJ. I have always enjoyed his portrayal of Iron Man. But I would've love to see him sit this one out and let the other heroes have their moment in the sun.

I'm guessing that maybe because they can do a Marvel movie without Iron Man, RDJ feels threatened by that idea and that's why he's appearing in other people's movies. Again, that's just a thought.

But to be fair, we don't know if this film takes place before or after Captain America: Civil War where Spider-Man first appears. So who knows if maybe it takes place before and Iron Man has a cameo where he recruits Spider-Man or after where he either has a cameo or more of a co-lead role. I'm hoping it takes place before, but we'll see what happens.

But what do you guys think? Are you still excited about Spider-Man: Homecoming or are you feeling that the MCU is starting to become the Downey Universe and all the heroes are starting to live in it? Please be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Oscar Watch: The Founder (2016)

Hello, Bloggers, welcome to another episode of my Oscar Watch where I discuss trailers for upcoming Oscar contenders. For this post, I will discuss the trailer for the biopic The Founder starring Michael Keaton as the McDonald's founder Ray Kroc.

Full trailer here:

First off, watching this trailer made me hungry for McDonald's. It really looked appetizing! Just wanted to get that out of the way. I think it is an Oscar contender? Maybe. The August release date is pretty cautious. But director John Lee Hancock did direct Sandra Bullock to an Oscar win for The Blind Side and almost directed Emma Thompson to a nomination for Saving Mr. Banks. Perhaps he can work some magic on his lead actor.

Not only that, but Keaton must be holding a big IOU after losing for Birdman (which he really shouldn't have). So there's possible goodwill that could carry him over to a win as well as his hot streak of starring in the last two Best Picture winners, Birdman and Spotlight. But that sort of depends on whether the field is weak. We'll have to wait and see how other likely contenders like Joel Edgerton, Andrew Garfield, Nate Parker, and Will Smith fare in the end.

The film itself looks pretty good, though. I don't know if it is something I would run out and pay to see. But we'll see. If I do run out and see it, I'll have to be sure to hit McDonald's afterwards.

What do you guys think? Do you think it looks like a legitimate contender? Please be sure to write your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Oscars 2017: Best Actress Predictions (April)

Hello, Bloggers. It is April already and here are my updated Best Actress predictions.

Emily Blunt, Girl On The Train: From the looks of the trailer, Blunt has some meaty material to work with. She's playing an alcoholic in a film based on a best seller, and has a possible "overdue for a nod" narrative. She's also de-glamming a la Halle Berry and Charlize Theron who took home Best Actress trophies partially for pulling that tactic. Will it be too commercial for voters, though, and will Blunt end up being another Jennifer Jason Leigh? Somebody that they nominate eventually.

Viola Davis, Fences: Filming is currently underway, but if it's ready and well-received, Davis could very well win. She's playing a role she won a Tony for, she's holding an IOU after losing for The Help, is well-respected thanks to her SAG, Tony, and Emmy wins, and she's set to have a prolific 2016 as she'll also have Suicide Squad and How To Get Away With Murder.

Ruth Negga, Loving: She's playing one half of the main interracial couple and in this category, there is often a fresh face present.

Michelle Pfeiffer, Beat Up Little Seagull: The film doesn't have a distributor as of now. But if a big one picks it up, I can imagine it being this year's Still Alice since Pfeiffer doesn't have an Oscar yet (tragically, I might add). It is being produced by Killer Films who was also behind Still Alice and Pfeiffer is set for a potential comeback as she'll also have the HBO film Wizard of Lies and the upcoming untitled Darren Aronofsky film coming out.

Emma Stone, La La Land: She's a previous nominee for Birman which won Best Picture doing another film about showbiz by Damien Chazelle who helmed Whiplash. Another bonus is that the film is a musical.

Dark Horses:

Amy Adams, Story Of Your Life/Nocturnal Animals: Will she suffer a vote split and will both films be too genre-y for voters?

Annette Bening, 20th Century Women: Which category will she be placed in?

Jessica Chastain, The Zookeeper's Wife: On paper, it seems like a legitimate contender: Previous nominee doing a Holocaust movie. But so far, it only seems like a contender on paper.

Marion Cotillard, Allied: I did underestimate her before when she got in for Two Days, One Night. Who knows if I'm underestimating her again.

Isabelle Huppert, Things To Come: This year's Charlotte Rampling (foreign actress getting overdue nod), perhaps?

Jennifer Lawrence, Passengers: She has become a perennial choice.

Rooney Mara, Una: Previous 2-time nominee, but will it be too dark for voters?

Rosamund Pike, A United Kingdom: See Annette Bening above and will the film be overshadowed by Loving which also depicts an interracial marriage?

Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins: For obvious reasons.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Oscars 2017: HFPA Rule Changes

Hello, Bloggers, welcome to another episode of Topic Of The Day. For today's topic, I figured I'd delve into what could be an influence into the upcoming awards season that really intrigued me.

First off, they have announced that the 74th Golden Globe Awards will take place at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday, January 8th, 2017.

Also, after the controversial inclusion of The Martian in the Musical/Comedy categories, they have decided to shape up their categorization rules:

1. Musicals:

A comedy or drama with songs used in addition to spoken words to further the plot.

2. Drama and Comedy:

Movies will be entered in both categories based on the content that matches the overall tone of the film. For example, dramas with comedic overtones should be entered as dramas. 

The last rule is something I am on board with. Mainly because I am seriously tired of seeing dramas with some funny moments faux their way into the comedy category. When Jennifer Lawrence won Best Actress-Musical or Comedy for Joy, I was slightly outraged. Not necessarily because she wasn't good. But because it was at the expense of more legitimately funny performances like Melissa McCarthy in Spy and Amy Schumer in Trainwreck. 

While I'm on the subject the Actress-Musical or Comedy category, I think part of the reason the general Best Actress race in 2014 was labeled as weak is because of the name checking of actresses in questionable comedies while more hilarious performances like Rose Byrne in Neighbors and especially Jenny Slate in Obvious Child were left out in the dust.

It reminds me a lot of the evils of category fraud where they put co-lead actors down to Supporting to increase their chances at getting nominated/winning. It prevents a more legitimately supporting performance from gaining any kind of traction whatsoever. The HFPA did give a middle finger to Rooney Mara and Alicia Vikander's Supporting Actress campaigns last year when they were nominated for Best Actress-Drama. So it's nice that they continuing to change their ways in terms of categorization in order to dampen the politics of awards campaigns that are continuing to run rampant.

You can read their full list of rule changes here:

Oscars 2017: Best Supporting Actress Predictions (April)

Since it's been a month since I made my predictions for Best Supporting Actress, I figured I'd make a few updates as there are some contenders that I think have a strong chance at making it in despite it being early in the race. Let's take a look:

Jennifer Aniston, The Yellow Birds: She was a likely 6th for Best Actress when she missed out for Cake. Playing the struggling mother of a young war hero should get her inches closer for the nomination she's working for.

Laura Dern, The Founder: She did land a surprise nod in this category for Wild and she's got Harvey Weinstein at her corner. Plus, she's playing the wife of the founder of McDonald's and if there is one thing this category has a hard on for, it's supportive wife roles.

Naomie Harris, Moonlight: She's got both Moonlight and the ensemble piece Collateral Beauty under her belt for this year. Moonlight, which is a depiction of gay black youth and drug trading, seems pretty baity on paper. It's also being distributed by A24 who just won three Oscars. So they're on a roll right now.

Jennifer Jason Leigh, LBJ: She finally scored a nomination. Now that she's joined the club, could they be inclined to keep rewarding her down the line? She is playing Lady Bird Johnson and as I've mentioned before, one of this category's biggest hard-ons is the supportive wife role.

Michelle Williams, Manchester By The Sea: The film was the critical darling of Sundance and she's a previous 3-time nominee. Personally, I think she's about one or two nominations from having a trophy on her mantle.

Dark Horses:

Shohreh Aghdashloo, The Promise: Previous nominee in a period piece by Terry George who guided Don Cheadle and Sophie Okonedo to nominations for Hotel Rwanda.

Nicole Kidman, Lion: Name factor plus Harvey Weinstein plus "supportive mother" role.

Aja Naomi King, Birth Of A Nation: The film will likely get in across the board. But how much across the board?

Lupita Nyong'o, Queen of Katwe: A way to welcome her back into live-action filmmaking?

Margot Robbie, Suicide Squad: Every once in a while, there's a wild card entry.

Kristen Stewart, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk: She's on the fringes of joining the club. But for which movie since she's got a good amount of films coming out this year.

Rachel Weisz, The Light Between Oceans: Could they find a way to honor her prolific year?

Kate Winslet, Collateral Beauty: She did just score her 7th nomination and since both her and Harris are in the same film, they can easily double dip which Supporting Actress often does.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Oscar Watch: Birth Of A Nation (2016)

Even though it is already April, they have released a trailer for what already may be a legitimate Oscar frontrunner. The trailer for the Sundance discovery Birth Of A Nation has just been posted and I think that based on the trailer alone, we might as well pencil it in for Best Picture.

To me, the trailer is a very intense experience. I liked the incorporation of the song "Strange Fruit" by Nina Simone that carried over the beginning of the trailer towards the middle. Also, as Nate Parker's big speech began to take place, the sound effects in the background got much louder as it progressed and that is another thing that makes the trailer so intense. That speech scene could be Parker's Oscar clip. I know it's a little soon to even go deep into what might be somebody's Oscar clip. But I think after that hashtag I'm tired of bringing up and because it depicts racism, I have firm believe that this one'll be penciled in to prevent that hashtag from trending.

But regardless of its Oscar chances, it looks like a great film and if it begins to get such buzz, let's hope that it's warranted and it's not just all hype or something people feel like they have to like.

Full trailer down below:

Friday, April 15, 2016

Topic Of The Day: "Ghost In The Shell" Whitewashing

Hello, Bloggers. Welcome to another episode of Topic Of The Day. For today's topic, we will continue the discussion of Hollywood whitewashing by bringing up the upcoming Ghost In The Shell starring Scarlett Johansson which is another victim of this trend that is still going on.

When a still of Scarlett Johansson in costume surfaced on the Internet, the film started trending on Twitter yet for the wrong reasons. Now for those of you who don't know, Ghost In The Shell is based off of a Japanese manga and Scarlett Johansson will be playing the main character of the manga named Motoko. Today, I even found out that the VFX team is making the film's white actors appear Asian. Not the kind of publicity you want in the midst of this controversy.

Before I go any further, I'll just say that I'm not wagging fingers at Scarlett Johansson. I don't blame her. Acting is like any other job. You go where the money is. The bigger evil is the studios that don't seem to be getting the message. By message, I mean, the backlash over the whitewashed casting in films like Aloha, Pan, and Exodus: Gods and Kings. All films bellyflopped at the box office and were critically panned. Even if the whitewashing wasn't THE reason these films crashed and burned, it certainly did not help.

Granted this has always been a problem, going back to the days of when John Wayne played Genghis Khan, Laurence Olivier donned blackface to play Othello, and so on and so forth. But guys, it's 2016!

Look at how we have actors like Viola Davis, Taraji P. Henson, Rami Malek, Aziz Ansari, Mindy Kaling, and Gina Rodriguez collecting accolades for headlining their own television shows. Heck, even Orange Is The New Black features Laverne Cox, the first openly transgendered woman to receive an Emmy nomination, in its main cast. So television is taking more steps to reflect different representations that view their content.

Some will probably leap to the studio's defense, saying "Maybe they got the best person for the role." I say that is not an excuse. There is Japanese talent out there. As I recall, wasn't Rinko Kikuchi nominated for an Oscar about ten years ago? See what she's up to. Chiaki Kuriyama had a brief spotlight with her role as Gogo Yubari in Kill Bill: Vol. 1. Give her another chance at it. The industry should be about taking chances. So why not take a chance on an unknown Japanese actress?

This whole controversy reminds me of when the first still of The Danish Girl surfaced onto the Internet where Eddie Redmayne dressed in drag and people were furious because a transgendered woman wasn't casted in the lead role. Again, that is a part of the message being sent to Hollywood: More representation.

I also want to point out that I'm not trying to be some hyper-sensitive Social Justice Warrior. It's just that as somebody who has a passion for film, representation is something that means a lot to me and I really want to see more of that.

So those are my thoughts on the whitewashed casting. Whether you agree or disagree, please be sure to write your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Topic Of The Day: Cannes 2016 Lineup Unveiled

The main lineup from the 2016 Cannes Film Festival has officially been announced and I must say, they have some very intriguing options. The ones that I have hoped to compete are competing and there are some slightly surprising exclusions. Let's take a look:

Competition"Toni Erdman," directed by Maren Ade
"Julieta," directed by Pedro Almodovar
"Personal Shopper," directed by Olivier Assayas
"American Honey," directed by Andrea Arnold
"The Unknown Girl," directed by Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne
"It's Only the End of the World," directed by Xavier Dolan
"Slack Bay," directed by Bruno Dumont
"Paterson," directed by Jim Jarmusch
"Rester Vertical," directed by Alain Guiraudie
"Aquarius," directed by Kleber Mendonca Filho
"From the Land of the Moon," directed by Nicole Garcia
"I, Daniel Blake," directed by Ken Loach
"Ma'Rosa," directed by Brillante Mendoza
"Bacalaureat," directed by Cristian Mungiu
"Loving," directed by Jeff Nichols
"The Handmaiden," directed by Park Chan-Wook
"The Last Face," directed by Sean Penn
"Sieranevada," directed by Cristi Puiu
"Elle," directed by Paul Verhoeven
"The Neon Demon," directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

Now the ones that I was really hoping for were It's Only The End Of The World, American Honey, Personal Shopper, and Neon Demon. Thankfully, they are all to be found here. Some inclusions that I wasn't too surprised about were the films by Pedro Almodovar, Sean Penn, the Dardenne Brothers, and Jim Jarmusch. They are all Cannes regulars. 

But one thing that is slightly unfortunate is how there are only three films directed by women: American Honey by Andrea Arnold, From The Land Of The Moon by Nicole Garcia, and Toni Erdman by Maren Ade. But for what it's worth, there are still plenty of stories about women like The Last Face, Neon Demon, The Unknown Girl, Julieta, The Handmaiden, and Elle. Also, they have three films directed by openly gay men: Xavier Dolan, Pedro Almodovar, and Alain Guiraudie. So despite there not being much females represented in the main competition, there is still plenty of diversity to be found. 

I was also pleased to see Loving make the cut. After seeing both Midnight Special and Take Shelter, I've become more anxious about the next moves of director Jeff Nichols. So I'm really looking forward to this one. 

However, I figured that Eternity by Tran Anh Hung and starring Berenice Bejo, Audrey Tautou, and Melanie Laurent would make it in given the French acting pedigree. Also, no The Day They Arrived (previously titled Story Of Your Life) by Denis Villeneuve or Silence by Martin Scorsese. But I'm guessing those films weren't 100% ready. 

What do you guys think of the Cannes lineup? Are you as pleased as I am and what films did you hope to see make the cut? Please be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Indie Review: Midnight Special (2016)

                                      'Midnight Special' Glows
            Well.....this one was certainly worth the long wait!

     Midnight Special follows the story of a father named Roy (Michael Shannon) who is on the run from the government and a religious cult with his friend Lucas (Joel Edgerton) and his son Alton (Jaeden Lieberher) who is gifted with special abilities and may not be exactly from Earth.

    One thing that I loved so much about the movie is that even though we get a good amount of visual effects, they are able to compliment and aid the story rather than overshadow it. It's a lot like last year's Ex Machina along with classics like E.T.. That is thanks in large part to director Jeff Nichols who chooses to go for more restraint and simplicity. Its simplicity resembles that of older science fiction films and it was a real treat going back and being nostalgic.

    I also appreciated how the film shows us every angle. We not only see the point of view of the family on the run but also the government as well as the religious cult that put Alton under their wing. That way, the film isn't all one-sided. In fact, the government isn't necessarily portrayed as negatively as in other science fiction films. That is in large part thanks to the character of Paul Sevier, played by Adam Driver, who is a government agent curiously trying to piece the whole puzzle together about why this family is on the run in the first place.

     The actors also do a terrific job. Michael Shannon plays perhaps the warmest character i've ever seen him play as the desperate yet compassionate Roy. Usually, Shannon is typecast as villains or crazies like in director Jeff Nichols' previous film Take Shelter. So, it was nice to see Shannon given something different. Aside from Shannon and Adam Driver, I thought Joel Edgerton was terrific as always as Roy's mostly silent yet incredibly loyal friend Lucas and Kirsten Dunst, who plays Alton's mother, is a very warm presence on screen. Jaeden Lieberher, who audiences might've caught in St. Vincent, is also quite good as the super-powered and wise beyond his years Alton and here's hoping this kid has a long and bright career ahead of him.


     Overall, Midnight Special is a simple gem whose simplicity and restraint brings us back to the old glory days of science fiction. It's extremely well-acted, has a multi-faceted storyline, and is complimented by amazing visual effects.

Grade: A+

Friday, April 8, 2016

Review: The Boss (2016)

                           'The Boss' Has Some Ruling Status

       Well, it is a far fry from Spy. But at least this effort from Melissa McCarthy is no Tammy.

       The Boss follows the story of powerful business mogul named Michelle Darnell (Melissa McCarthy) who loses her fortune after being put in prison for insider training. Now she, along with her personal assistant Claire (Kristen Bell), looks to get back on top by starting a brownie empire.

       I'll start off with Melissa McCarthy. The main reason I went and saw this is simply to be Melissa McCarthy be funny and that is surely what I got. I still think her best and funniest work is Spy, but she does exemplary work here. I also liked the pairing between her and Kristen Bell. Bell plays the perfect "straight man" to McCarthy's more outlandish Michelle that causes the hijinks to ensue.

       The film even manages to give Michelle plenty of backstory to make us understand why she is the way she is and why she wants to try and persevere on her own. I really liked how they gave us backstory so that it doesn't make the character seem entirely like a one-dimensional jerk.

       The story in general has some very good ideas. Kind of like the movie Joy, which also depicts a woman running her own empire, it shows how when all else fails and nobody lends a helping hand, the only person left to rely on is yourself. That is what Darnell kept reminding herself as she built her own empire. But I would say this is a far better film than Joy. This one isn't flawless, by any means, but it at least kept me engaged throughout while Joy was a real drag.

      I wasn’t that crazy about the ending. I thought it was not only predictable, but half-assed and rushed. Even the buildup towards the end kind of dragged the film down.

       Also, there is a subplot involving Peter Dinklage who plays a rival entrepreneur that gets Michelle arrested that appears on and off the film that didn't really gel in my opinion. They could've left it out almost entirely and it would've been a little better.

    Overall, The Boss has an expectedly hilarious performance from Melissa McCarthy that is slightly problematic but is still a simple fun time. It's not schmaltzy Oscar catnip but it's not aiming to be. Just go in, expecting a funny time at the movies, and that's what you'll get.

Grade: B-


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Trailer Talk: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

So the teaser trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has just been released today and I will share with you folks my quick thoughts:

Now, when watching this trailer, it doesn't necessarily feel like an "episode" movie if you catch my drift. But I love that. I have a feeling there'll be complaints about how it isn't like the original movies. But then again, there were complaints about The Force Awakens having too many similarities to the original trilogy. So whatever complaints will be made about this being not enough like the originals will be all noise.

Next, I really think Felicity Jones looks like she is doing a terrific job as the lead heroine. After her Oscar nod for playing Jane Hawking in Theory of Everything, it looks like she is already reinventing herself as an action heroine. I look forward to her portrayal in the upcoming picture.

Also, before the trailer, I was super anxious trying to figure out what role Ben Mendelsohn will play, thinking "Is he good or a villain?". But it looks like he is playing another villain. Not that I have any complaints because he plays a great villain. Plus, more people will likely know his name after this movie which is super exciting because I have become such a die-hard fan of his.

I am still very intrigued by the route they are going with this picture, making Star Wars look like something of a war movie. I also love seeing the diversity in the cast with Diego Luna, Forest Whitaker, and both Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen from Asia. In fact, I think one of the reason it is going to do well is because of its international cast and the fact that it is a Star Wars movie.

Overall, I am very excited about this film. I look forward to when it comes out in December and when the full length trailer comes out. Until then, I will probably watch the teaser another five hundred times. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Indie Review: Eye In The Sky (2016)

                                'Eye In The Sky' Is Worth A Look
             Even if a movie doesn't have us asking the most positive questions, as long as it keeps having us ask questions in general, it is able to do its job.

    Eye In The Sky follows the story of Col. Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) who is tasked with carrying out a secret drone mission to spy on a British citizen turned terrorist. What starts out as a capture mission turns into a decision of whether or not to use a drone to shoot down at the terrorist and her cohorts that plan to orchestrate a suicide bombing.

   I'll start right off with the acting. Even though Helen Mirren is given top billing, it's very much an ensemble movie. As always, Helen Mirren delivers as the colonel willing to blur the line between right and wrong in order to complete the mission. The late great Alan Rickman also has a role as the lieutenant general that is supervising the mission and of course he was great, adding subtle humor to what is otherwise a tension-filled picture. May Alan Rickman rest in peace. Barkhad Abdi plays a secret Kenyan agent that is a part of the main mission and after watching his performance, I was like "This guy should get more work!" Unlike his equally impressive debut in Captain Phillips, Abdi brings in a hint of charisma that lights up each scene he is in and he proves that Captain Phillips was not just a one-off. Another standout is Aaron Paul as an American drone pilot tasked with shooting the safehouse where the terrorists are hiding. He really struck me with the heartbreak in his eyes as he is on the verge of pulling the trigger. To me, he is the film's beating heart.

   One thing that I really appreciated is how not once in the entire movie does it begin to point fingers. Instead, it shows us the situation at hand then leaves it for us to decide what we think is the right course of action. Should the trigger be pulled? Is it worth having blood on their hands? Because drones can be built to look like the tiniest animal and can easily spy on us, how safe do we really feel? While the film focuses on the use of drones in its sole mission, it'll also have you wondering about the use of them in general.

    Thanks to the screenplay as well as the tight editing, the film feels like it is one scene that stretches out into a full-length feature film. But I think that is because as soon as the movie begins, it immediately introduces us to the different characters and as soon as they all start the mission early on, the film already begins to take off. Even though the film is mostly people sitting in rooms, communicating across the globe, it almost feels like you are in an actual war zone because of the life and death decisions that are being made throughout.


    Overall, Eye In The Sky is a tension filled morality tale that shows how warfare and life and death decisions don't always happen on the battlefield.

Grade: A+

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Topic Of The Day: Suicide Squad Undergoing Reshoots

Hello, Bloggers, welcome to another episode of Topic Of The Day. For today's topic, I will discuss the upcoming Suicide Squad which will be undergoing reshoots to "make it more fun."

Apparently, they put in all, or most of, the movie's jokes in the trailer. So after the release of Batman v. Superman, I can understand why they would want to do some reshoots. But I wouldn't say they are doing reshoots in response to Batman v. Superman being labeled as "too dark." I don't think that was the main problem. When you look at the ads for that movie, they made it look like it was going to be a big "fight 'em up" movie when the film is the opposite of that.

While the fight between Batman and Superman is there, it is only in (*possible spoiler alert*) one sequence in the entire film. So they're probably reshooting Suicide Squad to avoid another case of mismarketing since the ads for that movie make it seem pretty fun.

But if they are reshooting after Batman v. Superman was labeled "too dark," then that is not the problem audiences had with Batman v. Superman. The problems I think people had with it were that the storyline was all over the place, half the actors were wasted, and it was way too long. Also, the setup of Justice League probably had viewers that don't follow the comics thinking "What the heck is going on?" So it was made mostly for the fans and I think its heavy second weekend drop at the box office is evidence of that.

It's a problem that even Marvel movies have been having. Avengers: Age of Ultron to me was an all-around underperformer because there was too much setup for future Marvel movies. Why did Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier fare so well? Because they were just concerned about being great movies. They were within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but because they weren't so concerned about setup, they were able to focus on being great movies. It's a lot like the older sci-fi films that were more story-driven like E.T.. Since there weren't a whole lot of effects in E.T., it was able to focus on telling a great story and being an amazing film which it was.

So those are my thoughts on the Suicide Squad reshoots. I would love to hear what you guys think so please write your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

Liebster Award, Part II

Thank you to Wendell from Dell On Movies for nominating me for the Liebster Award. This is my second time doing this and I will answer the questions given to me while giving a quick overview of the rules:

1. Answer the 11 questions given to you.
2. Nominate up to 11 bloggers and give them 11 questions to answer.

1. Name an actor or actress who's films you will always see, no matter what. Tell us why?
Tough one. But I'll go with Tom Hardy. The guy can simply do no wrong. 

2. Name an actor or actress who's films you try not to see, no matter what. 
Tell us why?
Eddie Redmayne. I think his acting often comes off as calculated and I don't like his constant mugging.

3. What movie would you like to see get a sequel that never got one?
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. 

4. Where is your ideal seat in a movie theater?
In the middle.

5. Other than in a theater, how do you watch most movies? (Redbox, Netflix, online, Blu-Rays/DVDs you own, etc.)

6. Name a movie you love from a genre you hate.

7. Name a movie you hate from a genre you love.
Thor: The Dark World. 

8. What classic era director (1960s or earlier) would've made a great superhero movie? Why?
Ah, that's a tough one. But I'll go with George Romero. He introduced the zombie genre with Night of the Living Dead and it would've been neat to see what he would've done with the superhero genre.

9. What currently working director would've made a great classic era noir? Why?
David Fincher. After watching Gone Girl, I think he would've been a perfect noir director. 

10. What famous person would you like to see get a biopic that hasn't had one?
Freddie Mercury and I want to see Paul Rudd play him.

11. You're going to spend the rest of your life all alone on a deserted island. You're allowed to bring only three movies with you. What are they and why?
Weekend because I love a good gay romance, Spy so I can have something to make me laugh, and Star Wars because's Star Wars. It's so dang awesome.

I now nominate:

Big Screen Small Words
Cinematic Corner
Cinematic Spectacle
Rambling Film

Now onto my questions:

1. What is your favorite Best Picture winner and why?
2. What is your least favorite Best Picture winner and why?
3. What genre did you hate at first, but grew to love eventually?
4. What director working today do you find the most overrated and why?
5. What director working today would you want to see make a superhero movie that hasn't yet and why?
6. Was there ever a movie you saw where you wanted your money back after it was over? If so, which one?
7. Who gave one of the best performances not nominated for an Oscar?
8. What is the best type of movie to see in a crowded movie theater?
9. What is the best type of movie to see in an empty movie theater?
10. Name a movie you didn't want to see at first and ended up being terrible.
11. Name a movie that you were excited about that surpassed your expectations.