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The tenth Nicholas Sparks movie adaptation is ‘The Longest Drive’. Another saccharin rich story of boy meets girl, (stuff) happening and boy risks losing girl. But, with a little luck; both boy and girl find a way to make it work.  Sophia Danko (Britt Robertson) is a Wake Forest University senior who has aspirations of being an art dealer in New York. Dragged away from her books to buy her impossibly attractive sorority sisters to bull riding competition; Sophia expectantly meets Luke Collins (Scott Eastwood), a professional rider. Luke is a year removed from a career threatening injury at the hooves of  (the scene stealing) Rango, an ill-tempered bull. Sophia and Luke start their summer fling on schedule, but happen across a wrecked car off the side of the road. Luke pulls the driver, Ira (Alan Alda) from the wreckage and Sophia saves his box of letters to his wife Ruth; the letters chronicle their 60 year marriage, which started in the mid 1940’s.

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Because...Why not.

It’s hard to imagine how the ‘Fast and the Furious’ franchise started as a typical summer blockbuster in 2001; to a seven movie franchise, that has grossed nearly a billion dollars domestically. Who knew that ‘Tokyo Drift’ would be the catalyst for the resurrection of the franchise. As a collective sigh washes over the theater, there’s a strange silence in the audience. Personally, I believe it’s because we’ve witnessed a small miracle. Director Justin Lin had been with the franchise for 4 installments, but parted ways in 2013. Production stopped because of the death of Walker, a principle character. With the film only half-finished, if production resumed; how would it continue without one of its lead actors?

A little computer generated wizardry, a complex editing technique and help from Walker’s brothers: Caleb and Cody; Furious 7 still required the services of Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshop, the New Zealand based special effects company to complete production. The budget ballooned from $200 M to and estimated $250 M, mostly to cover the cost of editing Walker; but it was money well spent. Except for one scene toward the end, the combination of Paul Walker, his brothers, quick editing and stunt doubles worked surprisingly well. Walker’s ironic death quickly became an afterthought, as he was indistinguishable from his avatars.

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Cosplay Dreams 3D

If you will be in attendance at WonderCon this weekend and love cosplay, there will be a panel & screening available that might be right up your alley!  Check out the press release below for more details: (more…)

2015-03-30 21.58.53What happens when one grows up as the daughter of one of the most revered conservative strategist and political consultants in our nation’s recent history? This is the unique question posed and examined by the 2015 WJFF Selection, MY FAVORITE NEOCONSERVATIVE. Directed by Yael Luttwak, the real-life daughter of prominent strategist and political consultant,  Edward Luttwak, the documentary offers personal insight into the surreal power circles of Washington D.C.

Seeing that the film featured on the last day of the festival, I took the opportunity to cap off my coverage of the festival by chatting with Yael.  In the interview, she not only sheds light on how she acquired access to the information revealed in her film, she also revealed the objectivity required to complete such a personal project. Check out the interview below… (more…)

2015DCIndieFilmFest

2015 saw a number of “firsts” for the DC Independent Film Festival: from virtual reality movies to beer tastings and yoga session between movies.  In fact, the addition of these new elements saw a few of this year’s selections being chosen as some of the festival’s best.  However, at the end of the day, in order for such a festival to run smoothly, there (of course) has to be someone helping to oversee all the linguistics behind the scenes.  In the case of the DC Independent Film Festival, that person would undoubtedly be Deirdre Evans-Pritchard.

Now entering her third year as the festival director, I caught up with Deirdre (on the last day of the festival) to discuss the successes and highlights of this year’s festival as well as what she aspires to accomplish with the festival going forward.  Check out the interview below… (more…)

Movie Review – Get Hard

March 26, 2015

“Success is a mountain!” yells James King (Will Ferrell) to Darnell Lewis (Kevin Hart), as James pulls away in his newly detailed luxury car. James is having the best day of his life as he has become a Partner at his hedge-fund management company. He goes home to his palatial estate in suburban Los Angeles to his beautiful fiancée (Alison Brie); who’s flanked by a platoon of maids and housekeepers. Meanwhile, in the ghetto, Darnell is the proud husband and father to a school-age girl. Close to realizing his dreams of a new house in a better school district; Darnell works hard to provide a higher quality of life for his family, but is $30,000 short of his goal. 

Suddenly, James is arrested by the FBI, charged with securities fraud and embezzlement; which carries a lenghty maximum sentence, but usually in a minimal security facility, also known as “Club Fed”. With white-collar crimes being a source of angst in the national consciousness, the Judge sets a precedent and sentences James to the maximum allowable sentence of 10 years in a maximum security federal penitentiary at San Quinten. 

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Jim Terrier (Sean Penn) is on the search for answers, after an assassination attempt in the Congo. While working for UNICEF and drilling wells in a village, Jim’s bloody past as a mercenary has come back to haunt him.

Eight years ago, Jim was working with a private security company while a Congolese airport was under construction.  Jim and his team; led by Cox (Mark Rylance) and Felix (Javier Bardem) were also employed by a multinational mining company looking to protect its assets. The company hires Jim’s team for a political assassination, with the caveat that the shooter leaves the continent without a trace. Jim is that shooter and he is required to leave the continent and his girlfriend Annie (Jasmine Trinca), a Doctor’s Without Borders volunteer. 

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In the 1980s, DC was a city plagued with violence and bloodshed; particularly, in the southeast quadrant of the city, where the unfortunate arrival of cocaine devastated the lives of many that it touched.  Often (at that time) identified as the nation’s “Murder Capitol,” the city saw many of its citizens lose their lives to violence.  However, as the documentary, SOUTHEAST 67, points out, there were individuals during that time who were intent on breaking this cycle. 

Picked as a selection at this year’s DC Indie Film Fest, the doc follows the story of 67 rising seventh graders who were promised college scholarships by area businessman Stewart Bainum through the “I Have a Dream” program-a national movement to provide kids in underserved communities the opportunity to attend college.   Revisiting some these students 20 years later, the film revisits the students’ struggles to reconcile the dream of college with daily survival in a community rife with violence, poverty and addiction. (more…)

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If you recall, I was recently in attendance at the 25th Annual Washington Jewish Film Festival to check out what this year’s event had to offer.  However, with such a diverse slate of film selections to choose from, there was only so much that I was able to see.  With that said, I caught up with some of this year’s special guests to not only chat about their experiences being at the festival, but also to chat about the film selections that they were there to promote.  One such example was my chat with Sas Goldberg and Jake Wilson, the star and the director, respectfully, of festival selection, YOU MUST BE JOKING.  Co-written by both Goldberg and Wilson, the film follows Barb, a listless, confrontational 27-year-old paralegal, who, inspired by her childhood best friend, decides to pick up her long-shelved passion for stand-up comedy.  Aside (of course) from discussing the film’s inspiration we also managed to discuss their future collaborations together.  Check it out below…. (more…)

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Mike Conlon (Joel Kinnaman) is a hard-working family man. Splitting time between the boxing gym, where he mentors the youth and his night job as a limousine driver; Mike barely has time for his wife Gabrielle (Genesis Rodriguez)  and two daughters. When Mike is requested to take two guys to Queens, where they’re murdered by Danny McGuire (Boyd Holbrook), and Mike is a witness. Danny, son of Shawn McGuire (Ed Harris), is out to prove himself to his father that he can handle his own affairs, mistakes and all. When Danny finally catches up with Mike, he is killed by Mike’s father Jimmy (Liam Neeson). Jimmy and Shawn are long time friends and successful Irish gangsters in their youth. Surely that ended with the murder of Shawn’s son by his best friend. Now Shawn and every asset at his disposal, including a hitman named Mr. Price (Common); Mike Jimmy are on the run, desperate to survive the night.

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What happens when you blend the childhood convention of treehouses and pepper it with horror/thriller tropes? Well, you get the latest thriller known as TREEHOUSE.  Directed by Michael Bartlett (THE ZOMBIE DIARIES franchise), the film follows two brothers who discover a girl-who had previously disappeared after following a mysterious shadow into the woods- in a treehouse.  Now currently available on VOD, I took the opportunity to speak with the film’s director, Mr. Bartlett, to chat about the film’s concept as well as the film’s financing.  However, in the process, we also discussed the future of the VOD industry as well as his possible future projects.  You can check out the interview below…. (more…)

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Director Jody Lee Lipes’ “Ballet 422″ chronicles the creation of upstart choreographer, Justin Peck’s third ballet for the New York City Ballet’s ‘New Combinations Evening’ of 2013. Then, only a member of the Corps de Ballet, the lowest rank of dancers in the company, Justin has two months to bring ‘Paz de la Jolla’ to the stage. Comparisons to other ballet movies are unavoidable, but those seeking a psychotic thriller like ‘The Black Swan’ or the hyper competitive film ‘Center Stage’ shouldn’t look here. It isn’t that type of movie. “Ballet 422″ shows the intricacies of bring a prouction together, and the importance of a competent director. (more…)

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Dan Trunkman (Vince Vaughn) had one of two choices, when he finally stepped up to his ball-buster of a boss, Chuck (Sienna Miller). He could take a pay cut can keep his job, or leave and start his own company. Putting his money where his mouth is, Dan starts up Apex Select as competition to his old company. Along with Dan are Tim McWinters (Tom Wilkinson), who was forced into retirement and Mike Pancake (Dave Franco), who is about as sharp as a wooden spoon. After a year of struggle, the trio lands a meeting with Jim Spinch (James Marsden) in Maine. Spinch’s company could absorb Apex and send Dan, Tim and Mike on the road to legitimacy. When Chuck snatches the bid from Dan; the team heads to Germany, with hopes of scoring a meeting with Spinch’s elusive boss.  (more…)

Movie Review – Focus

February 26, 2015

Nicky Spurgeon (Will Smith) leads a of con artists into New Orleans, the site of the Football Championship Game. While Nicky is picking pockets and scamming drunk businessmen, others at home base are processing stolen cards bundling stolen cash, and replacing expensive jewelry with cheap knock-offs. For Nicky, it only takes a simple distraction to liberate a wallet, purse or watch from the unsuspecting mark. After a chance encounter with an amateur pick-pocketer named Jess (Margot Robbie); she becomes Nicky’s understudy. 

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WJFF Review – The Dove Flyer

February 25, 2015

MEDIUM-RES_PR-Pic-by-Ran-Mendelson_The-Dove-Flyer-2864One of the oldest civilizations in the world were, the Jews of Iraq. For over 2,000 years these Arab Jews were an important source of commerce, throughout the Arab world. For more than a millennium, during the rise of Islam, Jews and Muslims co-existed. Things changed dramatically for the Iraqi Jews during World War II, with the Nazi led anti-Semite movement. Muslim nationalism was on the rise in Baghdad, which led to the persecution of many Jews. In 1948 Israel was established, further increasing the antisemitism in Iraq, Jews were prohibited from holding public office, buying and selling land and travelling abroad. In 1950 a bill was passed by the Iraqi Government, that would allow Arab Jews to leave Iraq for Israel, only if they renounce their Iraqi citizenship. 

In Director Nissim Dayan’s authentic looking 2013 drama ‘The Dove Flyer’, also known as ‘Farewell Baghdad'; we follow Kabi (Daniel Gad), a high school age kid that is forced to make very adult decisions, as his family comes under scrutiny from the Iraqi police. Kabi’s uncle Yehezkel was arrested by police for writing an article, criticizing the Iraqi government for the killing of a Jewish merchant in Basra. Any anti government rhetoric was punishable by several years in jail, but most likely, death. With the fate of his uncle unclear, Kabi keeps a watchful eye on Rachelle (Yasmin Ayun), his uncle’s wife, as they struggle for normalcy amid constant pressure from the Zionists, Government and Communists who routinely threaten their existence.  (more…)

WJFF Review – Mr. Kaplan

February 23, 2015

Screenshot (5)Jacob Kaplan (Hector Noguera) isn’t a happy man. Living in 1997 Montevideo, Uruguay, Jacob is displeased with his friends becoming old fossils and his granddaughter’s lack of interest of the past. Jacob, 76, is far removed from his homeland of Poland and the Nazi invasion. Faced with the grim reality that life has passed him by, leaving him with nothing memorable; Jacob is cantankerous and jealous of his youthful friends. When Jacob gets into a fender bender with a parked car, failed his mandatory eye test and loses his license; his family hires Wilson Contreras (Nestor Guzzini), a family friend and ex-cop to chauffeur him around. Lotte, Jacob’s granddaughter informs him of “The Nazi”, a local guy who runs a beachfront café, who’s in the age range and ethnicity to possibly be a Nazi. Coincidentally, an update of a news report about Nazis fleeing the crumbling Reich, landing in Argentina, is the motivator for Jacob to investigate this mysterious German.  (more…)

Movie Review – McFarland USA

February 21, 2015

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When Jim White, a high school football coach lost his job, following an incident with a student; he packed his bags and moved his wife and two kids to the South Central Valley and a small town of McFarland. A small town of around 6,500 in 1987; McFarland is mostly hispanic and is a community of Mexican, migrant workers who their local crops, that eventually fill our grocery stores. Currently, McFarland, California hasn’t changed much since the White’s moved in; except the high school cross-country team. The latest feel-good sports movie from Disney, McFarland, USA isn’t your typical story of impoverished outcasts that slay the monster of an opponent who is bigger, stronger and better than them in every way. It’s a bit different, in how the biggest obstacle to overcome, isn’t the opponent, it’s yourself.

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Yesterday, the WJFF kicked off with a bang commencing its 25th year.  Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with the festival director, Ilya Tovbis, to discuss what this year’s festival had offer.  In the interview, he opened up about overseeing the festival (for his 3rd year) and shed light on the various films and special guests that highlight this year’s event.  You can check out the interview below… (more…)

Movie Review – The Duff

February 20, 2015

Bianca Piper (Mae Whitman) is your typical high school teen. Though she’s a bit more cynical than a veteran police officer, Bianca has her two best friends; Casey (Bianca Santos), a computer whiz and a bit of a tomboy and Jessica (Skyler Samuels), the future fashionista. Casey and Jessica are both attractive outgoing personalities, where Bianca is an awkward frump who finds comfort in pints of ice cream and zombie movies. When Wesley (Robbie Amell), Bianca’s jock, next door neighbor, who clues her in on the fact that she could be a D.U.F.F. or Designated Ugly Fat Friend. 

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Makes sense, Bianca’s friends are way hotter than her; and when guys use the homely Bianca as a buffer for her hot friends, Bianca decides to change her reputation and shed her DUFF-like perception. With the help of Wesley, who is in a tumultuous on again, off again relation with Madison (Bella Thorne), the hottest girl in school; Bianca is determined to be a D.U.F.F. no more. (more…)

Nick (Craig Robinson), Lou (Rob Corddry) & Jacob (Clark Duke) are zillionaire moguls that make Oprah Winfrey look like a Walmart employee, because of their hot tub time machine. Totally crafting the past into the future of their dreams, the three amigos can enrich their lives, but not their happiness. Nick is a musical genius who sings popular songs before the actual artists invent them. Lou is a tech guru who invented the internet and his son Jacob is there too. At a party in Lou’s mansion, Lou is shot in the groin by an unknown assailant. With Lou suffering from his injuries, Nick and Jacob do the only rational thing imaginable. Hospital, hell no. They drag his bloody carcass into a secret hot tub time machine, to stop the murder attempt before it happens. *Yawns*

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Loosely based on Mark Millar’s 2012 comic “The Secret Service”, Kingsman: The Secret Service is an over the top action comedy that’s too stupid for its own good. Wasting the talents of Michael Caine, Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Firth, Kingsman: The Secret Service is a campy take on the gentleman spy trope, where looking good is as important as kicking ass. 

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50 shades   There’s a lot of hype surrounding the 50 Shades of Grey Franchise, since its release in 2011. I don’t understand how the series became so wildly popular; if the movie adaptation is an accurate reflection of the book, then 50 Shades of Grey “…makes Twilight look like War & Peace” says author Salman Rushdie. There’s causation for such criticisms, but to my surprise the immediate reaction upon the conclusion of the movie was that of surprise. Fans of the series were pleasantly surprised at how much better the movie was than the book. That almost never happens.  (more…)

A WEEK IN REVIEW- 2.8.15

 

Like last week, this week saw much news happen with movies as well as television….Curious to see if you missed anything? Then take a gander below…. (more…)

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Long delayed Jupiter Ascending was supposed to be the answer to Marvel/Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy. With an original release date of July 25, 2014,  the latest from the Wachowski siblings (I guess) went through several script changes, before conceding to a 6 month delay. Rumoured to be delayed for graphical enhancements and IMAX conversions, Jupiter Ascending is finally released. I generally dislike space operas and I try to avoid any title that starts off “Star…”. But as bad as the critics and its 22% rating on Rotten Tomatoes would suggest, Jupiter Ascending isn’t as terrible as the press would like you to believe.  (more…)

As you recover from the “Big Game,” let’s shift our eyes (for the moment) to the big & small screen, because A LOT went down this week worth mentioning.  Below you will find highlights (from the past week) pertaining to some of your favorite upcoming/existing films and television series (of course keeping in mind that these don’t include all of our already posted stories): (more…)

Movie Review – Red Army

January 30, 2015

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The idea of foreigners playing in the National Hockey League (NHL) isn’t something us fans think about. Generally speaking, we want the best for our team. I don’t care if my favourite team, the New Jersey Devils, drafted a penguin to play goalie; I only want them to win. And also not choke in the finals again. (Sigh) Back in the cold war heyday of the 1980’s, where mutually assured destruction of the United States of America and the Soviet Union straddled the line between ‘probable’ and ‘likely'; the Soviets looked to assert their dominance on the world stage at every chance. International hockey wasn’t any different. 

In Gabe Polsky’s compelling documentary, “Red Army” we follow the career of Viacheslav ‘Slava’ Fetisov from a 10-year-old boy at tryouts for the Red Army Hockey Club to today. The film is a brisk 85 mins, peppered with archived footage pulling back the iron curtain a bit, as Fetisov shares with a bittersweetness life under Soviet rule. 

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A well-to-do lawyer, Elliot Anderson (Kevin Costner) has raised his granddaughter Eloise (Jillian Estell) since birth, along with his wife. Eloise’s mother died during childbirth and her father hasn’t been around. With the death of Elliot’s wife in a drunk driving accident; Rowena (Octavia Spencer), Eloise’s paternal grandmother is challenging Elliott in court for full custody of Eloise. Rowena’s claim is that Eloise would be better off with her paternal family, where she could reconcile with her estranged father. Elliot opposes and would also like full custody, due to the fact that he has helped raise her from birth. As compelling as family court is, the elephant in the room, yet to be addressed is the subject of race. Eloise is mixed, half African-American and Caucasian. Having Eloise live in an affluent neighbourhood, with the best schools and low crime rates, would be better for her than she move in with her paternal family in South Central L.A.; a high crime, low-income area. 

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When rummaging through old wares in the attic, David Raskin (Jonny Weston) and his sister Christina find their deceased father’s video camera. While viewing the contents of the camera, David notices something odd; himself. Sneaking through the front door, David looks at himself, attending his own 7th birthday party. Unfortunately, that was last time David saw him alive. Stunned by the image in the video, David along with his friends Adam and Quinn search for answers. This leads to a secret the discovery of a secret compartment in the floor of David’s father’s workshop in the basement. In the floor is a box and in the box are blueprints for a machine. A temporal displacement device, funded by DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, founded in the 1950’s. 

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Movie Review – Black Sea

January 23, 2015

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After being let go from job of submarine captain for a salvage company, Captain Robinson (Jude Law) gets word of a possible job. A shady investor wants to back an expedition to the Black Sea, to recover Nazi gold left in a U-Boat. Not one to ignore opportunity when it knocks, Captain Robinson puts together a crew of English and Russian sailors to man the sub. The cramped conditions and dwindling morale hamper the mission, causes a series of life threatening events that forces the crew to fight for survival.  (more…)

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Whatever way you feel about 2009’s XMEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (see pic below), one thing was certain, Ryan Reynold’s portrayal of the infamous “The Merc With A Mouth” (however brief) was memorable.  So much so, in fact, that fans (along with those involved in the long in-development project) have been pushing studios to give the character his own solo adventure ever since.  However, after receiving the greenlight recently (thanks to a much talked video featuring “leaked” test footage) it appears that we may now know where the film will be shooting… (more…)

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