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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Are you a fan of Gotham?  Well, you’re in luck, because series star Ben McKenzie will be making the trip to both Philly & Chicago for Wizard World!  Check out the details in the press release below.. (more…)

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87th Academy Awards host, Neil Patrick Harris 

Did you miss the nomination announcements earlier today? No worries.  Check out the categories and its respective nominees after the break. (more…)

Movie Review-Blackhat

January 15, 2015

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The war on terror isn’t only fought on in the craggy terrains of “Wherever-the-hell-istan”. If you have a Sony Playstation or have shopped at Target, The Home Depot or Marshalls within the last year, you were made very aware of the cyber threats to your accounts. Daily, hackers around the world are trying to infiltrate the security settings of anything they choose. Recently, the United States Central Command’s social media accounts were infiltrated. As interesting as a multi-national cyber task force would be to see in action; Michael Mann’s ‘Blackhat’ is the opposite of fun or plausible. What would’ve been a frenetic thriller along the lines of ‘Collateral’ or ‘Heat’, ‘Blackhat’ is sluggish and considerably dated, though the story was “ripped from the headlines”.

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Doug Harris (Josh Gad)  is less than two weeks from the happiest day of his life. Doug, your typical overweight, bespeckled man-child, has found the girl of his dreams, Gretchen (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting); but has yet find his best man. Being socially inept, Doug doesn’t have any candidates for best man, or any groomsmen. With time until Doug’s personal D-Day looming, he hires Jimmy (Kevin Hart) who is the CEO of Best Man Inc. For the right price, Jimmy will become the best man (or wingman) you need, regardless of the ceremony or its religious affiliation. Kevin Hart makes a pretty convincing Jew. 

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Even for Jimmy, fabricating an entire grooms party has never been done before. The idea itself is laughable, but not impossible. A lot has to go right in the next two weeks for Doug and Jimmy, for they’re risking everything to do the unthinkable.

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Director: Mike Myers. Courtesy of RADiUS-TWC

As the title suggest, actor/comedian has made a signed a deal with HBO.  Though its definitively unclear what the project will be exactly, some hints are provided in the press release (below) from the studio. (more…)

Snow on the offensive

So HBO apparently underestimated how much fan response they would receive (I can’t see how) regarding an IMAX showcase of arguably their most popular series…Anywho, to meet the demand of fans, the IMAX showcase will happen a week later than what was originally announced.  Check out the details in the press release (released today) by the network.

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Age of Ultron

Though 2015 will be jam packed with films (more specifically franchises) that I love, AGE OF ULTRON (sequel to the 2012’s AVENGERS) is undoubtedly the film that I’m most excited about….Bringing back all the franchise characters of the solo Marvel Studio films (i.e. see last year’s CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER or 2013’s THOR: THE DARK WORLD as examples), the sequel will see the team take on the villainous android Ultron (voiced by James Spader).  The teaser trailer released this past fall gave a glimpse into what returning director Joss Whedon had in store for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, but the new trailer appears to promise something a lot more grand (and perhaps ominous?)! Don’t believe me? Check it out below…. (more…)

Stan Lee Coming To C2E2!

January 12, 2015

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Known to many the co-creators of many Marvel’s superheroes, the icon will make the trip to this year’s C2E2!  Check out the details below… (more…)

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Starting next month, Cinedigm and Wizard World will be launching their joint effort known as CONtv. Featuring  fan-favorite film, television, and original entertainment geared toward the comic con community, the new digital network will provide content enjoyed by those of the nerdy and geeky variety.  One such series which will make its debut on the network is Last Fan Standing.  Hosted by fan favorite actor Bruce Campbell, the show will give con attendees the opportunity to win cash and prizes.  Sounds intriguing?  If so, check out the press release (below, released today) which provides further details(more…)

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The Washington Jewish Film Festival (WJFF) celebrates its 25th year with 11 days of dynamic film programming – accompanied by cultural and educational events – exploring the best of international cinema through a distinctly Jewish lens. February 19 through March 1, audiences will be treated to more than 100 screenings and related events across the Washington area. Hosted by the Washington DCJCC, this year’s milestone festival features world, East Coast and mid-Atlantic premieres, an exciting roster of filmmaker and cast appearances, and an exquisitely curated line-up of screenings, festivities and other programs including 12 WJFF retrospective film screenings curated by former festival directors in honor of the 25th year.

“For 25 years, this festival has celebrated international cinema in building the single largest Jewish cultural event in Washington,” said Ilya Tovbis, Washington Jewish Film Festival director. “With our most ambitious festival to date, the 25th WJFF will honor a quarter-century of exhibiting the full diversity of the Jewish experience.” (more…)

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Currently, it would appear that Marvel can do no wrong as they have struck box office gold with its heroes, both familiar and initially obscure (see GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY).  In fact, the studio’s success is so remarkable and amazing that it has been parodied to hilarious effect (see the SNL skit below). (more…)

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One of television most popular series (perhaps aside from The Walking Dead) appears to be making the leap to IMAX for one week only later this month!  Check out HBO’s press release (released today) below regarding their series Game of Thrones

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Walker Stalker 2015

The convention/”fan meet-up” known as Walker Stalker Con has announced some Walking Dead favorites to arrive at their event next month.  Curious to know who will make it into Chicago? Check out the press release below: 

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