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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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As we all kick back into high gear from the holidays, Hollywood will likely (of course) return “to normal” in promoting their upcoming slate of films.  However, as many of us have said farewell to 2014 (and have now welcomed the giant movie year that will be 2015), it’s always fun to look back and think of what could have been.  With that said, thanks to DISTRICT 9 and ELYSIUM director Neill Blomkamp we have an idea of what could have happened with the ALIENS franchise. (more…)

Movie Review – Unbroken

December 24, 2014

45 days adrift

Louis Zamperini of Torrance, California; may not be a household name. After reading Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 thrilling biography of Zamperini, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption; I couldn’t help but wonder whether a movie could be made. The book, filled with tense, gut wrenching and disturbing accounts of Zamperini’s survival after his crash water landing in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Danger lurked around corner for the Italian hooligan as a kid, that turned into an Olympic track star. Angelina Jolie’s big screen adaptation tried hard to replicate the horrors of an internment camp, but stymied by its PG-13 rating, forcing the film to dial down the emotional punches. 

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Movie Review – Selma

December 24, 2014

 

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Ava DuVernay’s Selma, is a poignant, relevant, dramatization of the struggles Dr. Martin Luther King during the Civil Rights Movement. This would be an award worthy film in several categories in any other year. Due to the refocus of race relations in this country, within recent years; Selma (the film) is a timely reminder of Dr. King’s dream, how far we’ve come and how far we have to go until the dream is realized. A dramatization of events, that doesn’t come off as overbearing and pandering; Selma is the closest thing to a King biopic to hit the big screen. But it isn’t a biopic. DuVernay and screenwriter Paul Webb’s narrative touches on key moments in Alabama’s struggle for freedom. From terrorist attacks to impossible voter registration laws, to citizens being murdered in the streets; Selma would become the next front for the fight for civil rights.

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In a movie where Robin Williams is Teddy Roosevelt and Attila the Hun among others, try to stop an ancient Egyptian tablet from eroding. Apparently, if the tablet dies, then the magic that brought the museum to life will stop forever. So Larry (Ben Stiller), and his waxed compatriots travel to London’s British Museum, in search of answers. Akmenrah’s parents are on exhibit at the Museum and could have the answers that threaten the existence of the crew. 

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The end is nigh. Finally, The Hobbit trilogy has come to an end. And what a way to go. Though it felt like the third act and a continuation of The Desolation of Smaug; The Battle of Five Armies doesn’t disappoint. Starting immediately after the events of Smaug’s escape of the Lonely Mountain and attack on Lake Town. With barely enough time to catch a breath, the pace is fast and furious throughout. It may be the best Peter Jackson film to date. Running a svelte, 144 minutes The Battle of Five Armies is the perfect conclusion to the trilogy. 

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Movie Review – Exodus

December 12, 2014

What global warming?

The movie “Exodus: Gods & Kings” was swimming in controversy, well before its release. #BoycottExodusMovie has been trending online for months, though it’s unclear what impact it could have at the box office. The outcry is just. How can a big budget production, set in ancient Egypt, not give a single speaking role to a person of color. Used as background filler or lowly servants and slaves; the diversity in the cast, rivals that of “Birth of a Nation”. The old-school Jim Crow era casting aside, “Exodus” gets a lot of things wrong with the story. I’ll acknowledge the attempt to stray from the holy source material of the 1956 DeMille epic. I will not forgive the omissions of key plot points in the story. To say that “Exodus” takes liberties with the story is a bit of an understatement; after the revisionist history route instead, the movie sells you on the idea of  the second greatest story ever told. This time in 3-D.  (more…)

Movie Review – Wild

December 9, 2014

Adapted from Cheryl Strayed’s 2012 memoir “Wild: From Lost To Found On The Pacific Crest Trail”, Reese Witherspoon is does well to bring the emotionally distressed author’s story to the big screen.

The film opens with Cheryl looking out from a peak over a majestic valley. An abundance of flora and fauna burst with life and color, while Cheryl carefully removes her bloody sock, revealing her peeling toenail. As bad as that seems, for Cheryl, 26; the path to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), as told through flashbacks, was a series of drug use, personal loss and infidelity. Inspired by a random guidebook at a convenience store, Cheryl puts her life on hold to finally take control of it.

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Movie Review – Top Five

December 5, 2014

The third time seems to be the charm for Chris Rock as director. With middling success as writer and director in ‘Head of State’ and ‘I Think I Love My Wife'; Rock comes back strong with ‘Top Five’. Recent film such as ‘Birdman’ and ‘Beyond The Lights’, give a glimpse about what the price of fame entails. For André Allen (Rock), who has successfully transitioned from stand-up comedian to comedic actor, gained his fame from the Hammy The Bear trilogy. Hammy, voiced by Allen, is a brown bear that is the partner of a human cop. Allen, who now is trying to distance himself from the $600 million franchise, looks to forge a new path in his career by starring in ‘Up-rise!’, a film about Dutty Boukman and the Haitian Revolution.

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Wes (LINDENBAUM) and Julie (BAKER) share a moment in COS, PLAY, LIFE

Wes (LINDENBAUM) and Julie (BAKER) share a moment in COS, PLAY, LIFE

Cosplay, better known as costume play, is a practice oftentimes seen only at special events (i.e. at conventions, movie screenings, etc.); however, for a select few, this practice is a way of life.  In the film, COS, PLAY, LIFE, for example, the latter is examined as the practice of cosplaying is presented as the device by which conflict arises in Wes and Julie’s (our two respective protagonists’) relationship.  Though Wes is accepting of his new girlfriend’s cosplaying lifestyle, he soon discovers that he must contend with his friends’ unexpected prejudices.

Recently, I sat down with the film’s writer & star, Michael Lindenbaum, to discuss the film.  In the interview, we chat about how the film came about (both in terms of its premise and its financing).  In addition, Michael shares where the film can be seen next (on its screening tour) and he also provides hints regarding his future projects.  Check it out below…. (more…)

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While Alex, Gloria and Melman, party with the travelling circus throughout Europe; Skipper, Private, Rico and Kowalski make their daring escape. They’re sick and tired the “Move It” song that haunts my dreams. Certainly breaking into Fort Knox is a better way to spend one’s time. Not to steal gold, but to steal the known world’s remain supply of Cheese Dibbles. Coincidentally, it’s Private’s birthday and we’re treated to a peek in to the origin of the quartet on the way to Kentucky. Though short, it’s all the back-story we’re allowed as trouble stirs when Dr. Octavius Brine starts penguin-napping from the world’s zoos. Apparently, Dr. Brine was an octopus named Dave in the Central Park Zoo. A star attraction until the penguins arrived, Dave was neglected and sent to many zoos before retired. Hell bent on world domination, Dave and his octo-minions want to make the penguins of the world as ugly as people have made him feel. Our flightless heroes and a group of crime fighters called ‘The North Wind’, lead by “Classified” (not actually his name) , are tasked with bringing the Doctor/Octopus down; if they don’t turn on each other first. 

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Now that Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) have imprisoned, killed and blackmailed their ‘Horrible Bosses'; the trio, now liberated from the monotony of the office has started a company based on their invention. After their live television appearance pitching The Shower Buddy goes impossibly bad, NicKurtDale Inc. may be dead before it gets off the ground. Now seeking the financial help of a private investor, the boys get an offer from the smarmy Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz), who will lend $3 million for production of the first 100,00 units. When Hanson suddenly backs out of the deal, the boys need cash to pay their debts, or lose their business. 

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Movie Review – Animals

November 23, 2014

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The 2014 South by Southwest (SXSW) Special Jury Recognition for Courage in Storytelling winner: Animals, is a gritty look at the grim existence of drug users. Addicted to their only source of calm, heroin in this case, Jude (David Dastmalchian) and Bobbie (Kim Shaw) survive the Chicago streets however they can. Whether its reselling stolen merchandise, stealing gifts from weddings they’ve crashed or having Bobbie work as an escort who steals client’s money before rendering services. Jude and Bobbie have are constantly hustling for money to buy more drugs. Their hard work pays off when they get a chance to feed their addiction. Suddenly, both their drug induced fantasy world and the harsh reality are shaken to the core when one is hospitalized. 

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There are more than a few movies about Costume Role-playing, also known as cosplay. Most of which are documentaries about the passion that cosplayers have for their craft. Much more than a simple hobby, cosplay contests can be as intense a fashion week in Paris. In ‘Cos, Play, Life” written, produced and starring Michael Lindenbaum; we take dramatic approach to cosplaying and how it can affect those that aren’t as open-minded.   (more…)

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Jude (DASTMALCHIAN) & Bobbie (SHAW) look on in ANIMALS

Closing off my coverage of the Virginia Film Festival, another highlight of my festival experience came in the form of festival selection, ANIMALS. Directed by Collin Schiffli, the film tells the story of a young couple that exist somewhere between homelessness and the fantasy life they imagine for themselves. Though they masterfully con and steal in an attempt to stay one step ahead of their addiction, they are ultimately forced to face the reality of their situation. (more…)

Pegeen Mike Stapleford (GRETA GERWIG) & Simon Axler (AL PACINO) in THE HUMBLING

Pegeen Mike Stapleford (GRETA GERWIG) & Simon Axler (AL PACINO) in THE HUMBLING

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Virginia Film Fest and check out the many sights and sounds to be had.  Hosted by UVA in Charlottesville, the festival had much to offer in the way of films, special guests, and (of course) parties.  With that said, among my highlights as a returning visitor was catching up with one of this year’s special guests, Barry Levinson.  Perhaps best known for his Oscar-winning directorial effort, RAIN MAN, Mr. Levinson has been recognized (with nominations) by the Academy many times over not only for his directing talents, but also for his writing talents as well.

This year, the critically-acclaimed filmmaker/writer was on hand at the festival to not only promote his latest film, THE HUMBLING, but also to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of his baseball classic, THE NATURAL.  Adapted from a novel by Philip Roth, the former film tells story of aging actor, Simon Axler (PACINO), who, after an incident on stage finds himself serving a brief stint in a psych ward and later retreating his Connecticut home.  Once there, a tragic comedy ensues as he engages in a heated affair with his actor friends’ lesbian daughter, Pegeen (GERWIG).

Seeing that the film is an adaptation, in our interview together I asked Mr. Levinson to compare the challenges of helming an adaptation vs. an original screenplay.  In addition, we also manage to discuss his next upcoming film, ROCK THE KASBAH, set to hit theaters next year.  Check out the interview below…. (more…)

998722_488975404524425_313405673_n Michael Myers.  Jason Voorhees.  Ghostface.  What do each of these characters have in common?  They are all legendary icons of the horror slasher subgenre; however, one could argue that the elusive status that each of these respective characters share would not be possible without the use of sequels.  With that said, before any sequels can be established, the tone must be set with the first film-a challenge which filmmakers Drew Rosas and Nick Sommer are intent to accomplish with their newly created killer in BILLY CLUB. Recently, I spoke with the two filmmakers to discuss what inspired the character.  However, (of course) in the process of asking about the character’s creation, we cover other topics such as the film’s financing, the possibility of sequels, and MUCH MORE!  Check it out in the interview below…. (more…)

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Closing up the 2014 Spooky Movie Film Fest, I gave another unexpected gem a whirl with the festival selection, TEENAGE GHOST PUNK.  Written and directed by Mike Cramer, the film follows a family who, after moving into a creaky house just outside Chicago, find themselves being haunted by a charismatic teenage punk rocker and his eclectric group of spectral pals.  Injected with witty dialogue and unforgettable characters, I was full of questions in my interview with Mr. Cramer.  More specifically, I took to the opportunity to ask the writer/director about what inspired idea for the film as well as how he acquired his talented cast.  Check it out below…. (more…)

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