Friday, September 30, 2016

'The Purge' could potentially move to TV as an anthology series

Image from Forbes
By Darian Scalamoni
            The Purge franchise has been a massive success with each movie grossing more than the last. Part of the reason for that might be its incredibly interesting concept which is that “The Purge” is when for 12 hours every year, all crimes are legal including rape and murder. With three Purge films already released it begs the question, how many more of these movies will we get with the same plot? Well according to Collider, it seems that creator James DeMonaco might have some new ideas.

            DeMonaco actually believes that television is in the future for the horror franchise saying that an anthology series could be on the way. “Yes! Not an anthology… I guess kind of an anthology – more of an interwoven anthology. They came to me about a TV show, my idea is that you do six or seven storylines. And I would kind of intercut them, use flashbacks”, said DeMonaco.


            This sounds like a great idea to really spice up a franchise that is pretty much rinse and repeat foe the most part. Though the most recent movie in the series titled, The Purge: Election Year focused on protecting a presidential candidate from the annual crime spree, it still was again, very much the same thing. It seems that plans are still in development for the popular franchise to move to television but once we receive more information, you’ll be the first ones to know!

New images gives first look an Princess Belle and the Beast in live-action 'Beauty and the Beast'

Image from Stitch Kingdom
By Darian Scalamoni
            Beauty and the Beast is one of my most anticipated releases for next year as well as many others. The trailer has the record for most views for a theatrical trailer for YouTube and it’s clear to see that the popularity of the original 1991 film that was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

            The live-action version of the legendary Disney movie stars Emma Watson and Dan Stevens as the beauty and beast, respectively. Today, we received our first look from Stitch Kingdom of Watson as the princess and Stevens as the CGI-ed Beast. If you don’t know the story of Beauty and the Beast, it’s about the journey of a girl named Belle who is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realize the kind heart and soul of the true Prince within.


            Check out the first image of the couple below. They both look magnificent in their respective roles, now all we need is a full-length trailer to see them in action! Along with Watson and Stevens, they’re joined by Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Audra McDonald, Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson. Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, Kinsey) directs the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast which will be released everywhere on March 17th, 2017.


Michael Shannon joins Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Current War'

Image from Nerdist
By Darian Scalamoni


            Here’s some incredibly exciting news… Michael Shannon will star alongside Benedict Cumberbatch in a movie. That’s right, according to Deadline, Shannon has been cast as George Westinghouse in The Current War.
            The Current War is a story about Westinghouse and rival, Thomas Edison competing to create a sustainable electricity system and market it to the United States. Cumberbatch is set to play Edison in the film. Even more excitingly, the movie is set to be the second feature film from Alfonso Gomez-Rejon who directed my favorite movie of last year, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. The script will be written by Michael Mitnick who previously wrote The Giver and co-wrote the HBO show, Vinyl.
            Shannon is a hot commodity in the industry right now as he is garnering awards notice for his supporting role in Tom Ford’s upcoming movie, Nocturnal Animals. He also has a role in another movie that is getting awards interest and that’s Loving which is directed by frequent collaborator, Jeff Nichols. The Current War is looking to start filming in December so the studio is trying to cast aggressively for the other roles, be sure to check back here for more info!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Michael Pena, Daisy Ridley and Judi Dench added to 'Murder On the Orient Express' ensemble

Image from Screen Rant
By Darian Scalamoni

            It was only yesterday that we announced that the remake of Murder On the Orient Express was looking to add Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer to the cast led by Kenneth Branagh, but this ensemble has just gotten even better. According to THR, in addition to Depp and Pfeiffer officially signing on, Daisy Ridley, Michael Pena and Judi Dench have been added to the already stellar cast.

            The story centers around a murder on the famous train and showcases detective Hercule Poirot who must solve the case whilst dealing with treacherous passengers throughout. The film is a remake of 1974 movie of the same name. That version was directed by Sidney Lumet and was nominated for six Academy Awards in 1975. Branagh, in addition to directing the film, stars as Poirot. Depp will play Ratchett, the man who is murdered. Pfeiffer will play Mrs. Hubbard, a glamorous and opinionated passenger with a secret. Ridley will play Mary Debenham, a working-class woman in love with another passenger on the train. Dench and Pena round out the group of actors playing Princess Dragomiroff and Marquez, respectively. Tom Bateman, Leslie Odom Jr., Lucy Boynton and Derek Jacobi have also been announced to be joining the cast.

            This seems to be a fantastic cast and looks to be an exciting movie. Daisy Ridley is best known for starring in blockbuster Star Wars: The Force Awakens as Rey but has many films on the docket including Kolma, Chaos Walking, Peter Rabbit and of course, Star Wars: Episode VIII which will be released on December 15th, 2017. Dench can be seen currently in theaters in Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, while Pena will be seen in Collateral Beauty alongside Will Smith, Edward Norton and Helen Mirren at the end of the year.

First trailer for 'Paterson' showcases Adam Driver in what might be his best performance yet

Image from Variety
By Darian Scalamoni

            It has been widely regarded since Paterson was first shown at Cannes that it is one of the best indies of the year. Luckily, today we received our first trailer for the latest film from art house director, Jim Jarmusch.

            Adam Driver plays the titular character, a bus driver in Paterson, New Jersey (ironically enough) who seems content living his life with his daily routine. He does his job around the city, writes poetry, walks his dog, has a beer and then heads to bed. His wife, Laura, played by Goldshifteh Farahani, is quite the opposite as she lives throughout her dreams and projects. Jarmusch observes a week in the lives of the couple and it seems to create something special in the meantime. The trailer really seems to grasp the serenity and calmness of the film and I’m very excited to see it.

            Watch the trailer for Paterson below. The movie will be in theaters on December 28th and Amazon not far after.

First look images at Domhnall Gleeson and Margot Robbie in biopic for Winnie-the-Pooh author

Image from Fox Searchlight Pictures
By Darian Scalamoni

            Two of the best young actors in the industry today in my opinion have to be Domhnall Gleeson and Margot Robbie. Gleeson, who is the son of fellow actor, Brendan Gleeson had a fantastic 2015 in which he starred in sci-fi masterpiece Ex Machina, two Oscar contenders in The Revenant and Brooklyn and of course, his role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens in which he played the militaristic leader, General Hux. Robbie got her start in Martin Scorsese’s modern masterpiece, The Wolf of Wall Street and has also gotten off to a hot start of her career. In fact, she’s starred in three movies this year already; Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, The Legend of Tarzan and of course, the DC Comics blockbuster, Suicide Squad in which she portrayed Harley Quinn. Seeing these two team up on screen would be a dream pairing and this is now becoming a reality.

            It was only a few months ago that we reported that both had signed on to a A.A. Milne biopic, which still currently doesn’t have a title. If you don’t know of Milne, he is the man responsible for writing and creating Winnie-the-Pooh. Gleeson stars as the author who brought the honey-loving bear to life in the 1920s thanks to inspiration from his son, Christopher Robin and his stuffed animals. Robbie stars as Milne’s wife, Dorothy “Daphne” de Selincourt and newcomer Will Tilston stars as Christopher Robin. I'm incredibly excited to see this movie and learn more about this story. I was a huge fan of Winnie growing up and I think with these actors attached, it could be a tremendous film.

            Luckily, Fox Searchlight Pictures has released first-look images for the movie which we have for you today. Check them out below! The currently untitled A.A. Milne biopic is set to be released sometime in 2017.







'This is Us' Episode 2, Season 1 Review

Image from TV Line
By Darian Scalamoni

            As I said in my review of last week’s review, This is Us can sustain itself as a solid show because of the twist at the end of episode one. It allows the show to hit different marks and let the audience identify and feel for the characters because you’ve followed them across life from birth. This episode hits the mark on the emotional feel throughout but it’s the twist at the end of this episode that angered me.

            This cannot be a show that constantly is going one way and then within the last five minutes of every episode, it pulls the chair out from under the viewer. The opening episode’s twist in narrative was to improve the show, this twist though was not needed. The audience sees Rebecca (Mandy Moore) in current day with her current husband, Miguel (Jon Heurtas), who we see earlier within the episode was Jack’s (Milo Ventimiglia) best friend in the 80s. Now, granted, we don’t know yet why Rebecca is with Miguel so in due time this twist could make sense but I don’t know as a viewer if I like that you can’t trust the arc of the show. This is different than a show like Mr. Robot too because with that, there is a level of reliance you can and can’t have with the main character because he’s schizophrenic. This is different entirely.

            The episode’s past-timeline plot focuses on Jack and Rebecca hitting a rough patch in their marriage when their kids are now eight years old. We’re first introduced to Miguel when him and Jack are in a bar around dinner time as he tells his best friend to wise up and realize what he has in front of him. Later, we see Miguel calling Jack to apologize for maybe overstepping which for normalized viewers, would make the final reveal somewhat of a “big” twist when I believe it is just a ploy to have them tune in yet again next week. My issue with this is that the show doesn’t need that. Within two weeks, the show has real moments that feel incredibly authentic to issues families deal with on a day to day and that’s why I’m interested from week to week. They can often distract from the real strengths of the show, the quality of the writing and acting from standouts.

            The character stories are what I’ve quickly bought into, particularly Randall’s. Randall (Sterling K. Brown) is dealing with his birth father William (Ron Cephas Jones) now living in his house but disappearing during the day to what his wife, Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) believes is to do drugs. When they discover that he was taking the long trip to Philadelphia every day to feed his cat he left behind due to the fact that he believed it would be an issue for her youngest daughter because of her asthma, they have a revelation that William might be a much better person then they give him credit for. Though there are other performances that are great within the show, Brown, Jones and Watson have been the standouts throughout the first two episodes. This little twist within their subplot is able to have the viewer’s really sympathize with William and it shows he can be there for his last days as a father to his biological son while suffering from stage 4 stomach cancer.

            Present-day Kate (Chrissy Metz) continues to feel stuck within her weight in this week’s episode but again her new boyfriend, Toby (Chris Sullivan) is there to break her out of a funk. Toby is another quickly rising fan favorite for his happy-going personality and true love for Kate. He continues to push her to new heights and experiences without worrying so much about her weight but just thoroughly taking it day by day and enjoying life. It’s great to see that Kate is beginning to realize this as the character is developing to more than just the weight-loss agenda that has been surrounding her and Toby through two episodes.

            Kevin’s (Justin Hartley) plot seems to continue to be the true lull of the show thus far though. Maybe it’s because Hartley seems to be the odd one out when it comes to performance as he’s actually a mirror to his character on the show. The actor was known mostly for his work on soap operas and maybe that’s why he, similar to his character of Kevin, was looking for something different rather than doing the same thing each and every day. The parallels of Hartley and his character are interesting but it’s more so that his character seems to be incredibly self-indulgent. He’s giving up a job in which he’s receiving $3 million a year to find his inner self and do more “personal work” which I don’t buy as a viewer just because, he isn’t very good. He goes head-to-head with his agent (played by Katey Sagal) and the network manager (played by Brad Garrett) to get out of his contract but neither of them care much about his artistic expression, after all it is “show business” as Toby would say. His plot does seem to be taking the right steps later in the episode though as he gives a call to his brother and after the three siblings bring back their “big 3” chant from their childhood, a wave of nostalgia hits and Kevin decides to move to New York.

            All in all, I really thoroughly enjoyed this episode up until the final twist. I will give this week another high score though because the substance was there but the show must continue to invest in their characters rather than have these gimmicky twists week to week. Hopefully, the show learns upon what could be a massive mistake in the long run.

8/10

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

'Ballers' Season 2 Finale Review

Image from Screen Rant
By Darian Scalamoni

            Ballers season two has finally come to a close but it’s been a hell of a season, even better than its first. Part of the reason for that has been the expanding likability of many characters but it has to be the hardships that we’ve seen the central protagonist, Spencer Strasmore, deal with on a week to week basis. Spencer had made a $12 million offer to his former boss, Mr. Anderson to buy ASM for himself, but Anderson says no. This leads to a massive freak out for the former linebacker turned financial manager. Anderson then lets Spence know that if he is able to get his grievance lifted with the NFL Players Association and get his credentials, then he wouldn’t have to pay nearly as much and get half of the company.

            From here we see Spencer and his buddy, Joe head to Canton, Ohio as they must meet with the guy who filed the grievance against him in the first place, legendary running back, Eddie George. I’ll start by saying this, George can ACT. The guy had a few moments within this episode where he really shined and it’s clear to say that he’s been the best athlete cameo throughout two seasons of Ballers. He has a true, heart-wrenching emotional monologue in his hotel room contending with Dwayne Johnson explaining why he filed the grievance in the first place. As the viewer soon finds out (and was suspecting), George was one of the players who went in on Strasmore’s bad investment and lost all of his money in the process. Obviously hurt by this engagement, Spence and Joe decide to head to a strip club and loosen up. This leads to a montage of them, along with friends, doing mass amounts of drugs and drinking unbelievable amounts of alcohol whilst eventually getting kicked out of the strip club because of their behavior.

            After their long night of partying, the two financial managers head to check-out of the hotel before Joe convinces Eddie that Spencer had changed since screwing him over years ago. The reason why Eddie changes his mind is what’s the biggest payoff of the whole episode and maybe in the entirety of the season though as we see a great monologue from Dwayne Johnson telling his story of failure to all of rookies at the rookie symposium going on at the hotel. It’s a humbling moment but also one filled with sorrow as you really feel for the guy who seems to never truly get over how badly he messed up some of his friends’ lives. In addition to this, the last image we see of Ballers this season is Strasmore gearing up to have that hip replacement he’s been putting off since a tussle in episode one with Terrell Suggs.

            In terms of the other characters, Ricky Jerret has quickly become my second favorite character in the show behind Spencer. John David Washington’s performance has been so strong this year and his character has grown with great strides. He’s learning that if he ultimately wants to be respected in the league he’s in, then he’s going to have to care more about winning rather than the money. This is an idea his father plants in his head and leads to him getting an offer/audition from the prestigious NFL team, the New England Patriots to play alongside Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, who also make cameos in the season finale. It’s a true showcase of how Ricky is starting to care much more for his legacy over his riches. Once again, massive props to the son of Denzel for stepping up this season in terms of his acting ability. It’s now clear to see that talent runs in the family, similar to how talent runs in his family within the show creating an interesting parallel.

            Charles’ arc over the season hasn’t been as great as Jerret’s. He is told he can’t play anymore but then is hired by Mr. Seifert to work for the Miami Dolphins organization as a scout. He does such a great job at that job that in the finale, he’s offered to be his second-in-command. The only issue here is that Charles is a new father and isn’t spending much time with his family as it is, and now this new position would include travel for months. This will obviously devastate Julie and who knows what could happen in the long run, but we’ll have to find out next season as it leaves us on a cliffhanger.

            All in all, I’m extremely satisfied by this season of Ballers as it brought a dynamic unlike the first season. More stakes and drama were added and secondary characters are starting to really heighten the show to one of the better comedies in television. Also, this finale was pretty damn close to perfect so I’ll be providing it with a great score yet again.

9/10

'Atlanta' Episode 5, Season 1 Review

Image from FX
By Darian Scalamoni

            This week’s installment of Atlanta might have been the funniest yet. Not much dramatics were involved as all three of our leads got into relative hijinks that led to laughs. Earn and PaperBoi headed to a celebrity charity basketball game to help boost interest in the rapper who is attempting to go more mainstream. This leads to each of them getting involved in stunts in which they’re bound to get into trouble. Earn crashes an agent party and PaperBoi hates Justin Bieber. Yes, you read that right. With the cousins out and about trying to promote themselves, Darius heads to the gun range to fill his boredom filled day without his buddies.

            Now I will start by saying that we learn absolutely nothing about any of our characters within this episode which would make you think it’s one of the worst installments this season, but I disagree. Glover does his best at creating these themes and lightly playing them out for the viewer to figure out, which is great because he’s not dumbing everyone down. Earn’s plot for this week leads to him being mistaken by an agent for one of the celebrities within the basketball game. This seems to be a commentary on how little black people there are within the agency game and how anyone of them wearing a suit at an event like the one Earn was at seems to mean they’re important. Jane Adams (Hung) plays the agent that mistakes Earn for another man named “Alonso”. She actually helps him get into the meeting and he grabs contact information for other agents before she has a hilarious monologue where she freaks out on him for being the reason she was fired from her agency in the first place.

            For PaperBoi’s plot, he feuds with R&B/Pop sensation Justin Bieber, but its meta textual as the character is black but very much resembles the actual recording artist of the same name. Now this one I think was just a bit of an attack on the mega popstar about how as a celebrity, he had gotten away with miles of leeway in the past. PaperBoi doesn’t like all the attention that Bieber is getting from the media so he begins to frustratingly turn a charity basketball game into a one-on-one streetball affair. This leads to a fistfight on the court and continues to sink PaperBoi as a reliable celebrity personality since he shot someone in episode one.

            Darius’ plot is much simpler in terms of getting an idea out to the audience. With his friends out doing their thing, he decides to head to a shooting range to kill some time. The interesting thing is that instead of his paper target being of a human shape, it’s in the shape of a dog. Now, for all the animal lovers who are reading this, I’m sorry but try to understand the significance of this subtext and how funny it really is. Darius is threatened after other men in the range notice he’s shooting at a dog poster, yet, they shoot guns at target’s shaped as human beings. It makes for a perfect laugh out loud moment for everyone who is seeing the joke.

            With all these hilarious moments, Atlanta this week seems more like a comedy than it is in previous episodes. Granted, this installment wasn’t like the previous weeks but it definitely added a different dynamic to the show.

8.5/10

Jon Favreau to direct live-action reimagining of 'The Lion King'

Image from Collider
By Darian Scalamoni

            I guess this was inevitable but in some massive news from Walt Disney Studios, they announced today that Jon Favreau will direct a live-action “reimagining” of The Lion King. In addition to the movie being on the fast track to production, this version will feature songs from the iconic 1994 film but no other details have been given just yet.

            Disney has had magnificent success with these live-action versions of their classic films like Cinderella, Pete’s Dragon and of course, The Jungle Book which was directed by Favreau himself and made $965.6 million worldwide. Now that this has been announced it’s my most anticipated Disney live-action movie next to Beauty and the Beast which will be released in 2017. Favreau is also directing The Jungle Book live-action sequel. Unfortunately, there are no release dates set for either of the upcoming films that are in development by Favreau.

            The Lion King is often regarded as the best animated movie of all-time. It makes sense as it had a global box office take of $968.8 million worldwide and won two Academy Awards for Best Original Song for “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” which was performed by Elton John and Best Original Score by the legendary Hans Zimmer. The liveliness of the CG animals in The Jungle Book were astonishing so I’m excited to see how some of my favorites like Simba, Nala, Mufasa, Rafiki, Timon and Pumba are brought to life.

Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer in talks to star in 'Murder On the Orient Express' remake

Image from Pop Sugar
By Darian Scalamoni

                        Kenneth Branagh has become one of the best actor/directors within the industry and has tackled all different kinds of movies over the years. He’s tackled Cinderella, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and Thor since this decade has begun and now he has his next film, Murder On the Orient Express at full speed ahead. According to The Playlist, Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer are being eyed to star in the film though neither has signed on officially just yet.

            The upcoming movie is a remake of the 1957 and 1974 versions which is based on the novel by Agatha Christie. It tackles the mystery famed crime-solver Hercule Poirot as he investigates a murder that happens on a luxurious locomotive. The movie originally had Angelina Jolie attached before she dropped out and Charlize Theron has also been attached in the past.

            Not much more is known about the remake but if one of these two actors officially join the project, we’ll be sure to report it. Murder On the Orient Express is currently set to be released on November 22nd, 2017.

Final trailer for 'Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them' showcases magical chaos in the Wizarding World

Image from Trailer Addict
By Darian Scalamoni

            Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has been one of the most anticipated movies of the year as it will stack up as one of the biggest blockbusters of the year. Today, the final, full-length trailer was released and boy was it a good one. The movie if you haven’t already heard is an expansion of the Wizarding World that was established first within the Harry Potter films. J.K. Rowling who wrote all of the Harry Potter books makes her screenwriting debut with this movie that is set in America in the 1920s.

            Academy Award winner, Eddie Redmayne plays Newt Scamander, an English magizoologist who runs into trouble whilst in New York City as his briefcase of magical creatures becomes unlocked, wreaking chaos throughout the city. The blockbuster looks to be just that as it’s filled with big set pieces, vibrant characters and all those incredible looking beasts. Newt is joined in his quest by a pair of witches, played by Katherine Waterston and Alison Sudol as well as a normal, non-magic human named Jacob, played by Dan Fogler. The visual effects also look brilliant and this trailer won me over completely.

            Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them is directed by David Yates who also helmed the Harry Potter movies subtitled, Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince and both Deathly Hallows movies. The film also stars Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller, Samantha Morton, Ron Perlman, Carmen Ejogo and Jon Voight. Fantastic Beasts will open everywhere, November 18th.

Viola Davis to team up with Steve McQueen for 'Widows'

Image from Variety
By Darian Scalamoni

            It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything about Steve McQueen. Not the late actor, but the director who directed such movies as Shame, Hunger and Best Picture winner, 12 Years a Slave. After his successful award winning film, the director turned to television for his follow-up which was a limited series about race titled, Codes of Conduct that was shelved by HBO which has now led to some news about what McQueen has moved on to. Even more excitedly, there is already a name attached to the cast. According to Variety, McQueen is set to direct Viola Davis in his next feature, Widows.

            This is incredibly exciting news as McQueen has become one of the most important and brilliant filmmakers in recent memory. This will also be his first collaboration with Davis who has drawn Oscar nominations for Doubt and The Help in the past, and could get another nomination for Fences. It’s evident that Davis is one of the best actresses on the planet and that’s why her role within this film is perfect. Widows is based on a 2002 British miniseries of the same name in which four armed robbers are killed in a failed heist attempt, only to have their widows step up to finish the job. The film will be co-written by McQueen and Gone Girl author/screenwriter, Gillian Flynn.

            Early word has McQueen trying to put together a strong ensemble for the film. He reached out to Jennifer Lawrence who had to turn down the project due to schedule conflicts but many actresses have to be excited to potentially work with two spectacular talents like Davis and McQueen.

Annette Bening gets assistance in raising her son in first trailer for awards dramedy, '20th Century Women'

Image from The Film Experience
By Darian Scalamoni

            Beginners is a film that I absolutely adore and have ever since I saw it for the first time. The dramedy starring Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer and Melanie Laurent was quite possibly the best movie of 2010 and even won Plummer an Oscar for his performance. The director though, Mike Mills did a brilliant job overall and ever since the released of that film, I had wondered what he’d do next. Well, the first trailer for 20th Century Women was released today and it seems like he has another hit on his hands.
            20th Century Women takes place in 1979 Santa Barbara and follows a single mother, played by Annette Bening who gets the help of two younger women to aid her in raising her son. The two interesting personalities she chooses are a free-spirited punk artist named Abbie, played by the wonderful, Greta Gerwig and a provocative teenage neighbor, played by Elle Fanning. With the tagline for the movie being, “a love letter to the people who raise us-and the times that form us”, it’s very evident this movie will be involved within its time period as the trailer opens with a speech from the then-president of the United States, Jimmy Carter. It looks like, similar to Plummer in Beginners, Mills looks to direct Bening into serious contention for awards season as well, seen here in the preview.


            It looks to be a fun, character dramedy and I got the same feels from this trailer that I did with his last narrative feature. In addition to Bening, Gerwig and Fanning, the movie also stars Billy Crudup, Alia Shawkat and Lucas Jade Zumann. Check out the first trailer below! 20th Century Women opens in theaters on December 25th.

First trailer for film adaptation of 'Fences' showcases Denzel and Viola Davis as awards contenders

Image from Screencrush
By Darian Scalamoni

            With awards season rapidly approaching, it’s important to recognize the films that will most likely be in the conversation for Oscars, Golden Globes and other awards. One film that has been a favorite since it was announced was the on screen adaptation of August Wilson’s play, Fences. The play was adored by many audiences and it’s a great first step when the two leads from the Broadway show return for the film.

            Fences stars both Denzel Washington and Viola Davis as they return to their roles they portrayed on stage. The film takes place in the 1950s and revolves around an African-American former baseball star who is now a trash collector, crossing the race barrier to serve as a driver, not just a barrel lifter. Davis plays his wife, Rose within the film as their family constantly deals with problems as Washington’s lead character of Troy plays a bitter man who is more disappointed in what he hasn’t achieved rather than what he has. Rose is just as tough as a mother as Troy is as a father, proving so within the final seconds of the trailer in which she reveals how upset she is with her husband’s selfishness. It’s clear within the preview that this will be a family drama, enriched with tremendous performances from the leads.

            In addition to being the star of the movie, Denzel Washington is also directing the feature. Fences opens in theaters on December 25th. Along with Washington and Davis, it also stars Stephen Henderson, Jovan Adepo, Russell Hornsby, Mykelti Williamson and Saniyya Sidney. Check out the first trailer below!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

'This is Us' Pilot Review

Image from NBC
By Darian Scalamoni

            I’ve never been one to watch network dramas on networks like ABC, FOX or NBC, this week, I was able to find one that I thoroughly enjoyed and will be watching going forward. NBC released This is Us last week and it’s an interesting story with a hell of a twist. I will be giving that twist away so in case you haven’t watched the pilot yet, SPOILER ALERT.
            This is Us tracks four random individuals on the day of their 36th birthday. The characters are as follows: Jack (played by Milo Ventimiglia) is a father-to-be who is a big Steelers fan and his wife, Rebecca (played by Mandy Moore) goes into labor before they can partake in Jack’s intimate birthday tradition. We then meet Randall (played by recent Emmy winner, Sterling K. Brown) who is a successful businessman who gets an email confirming that someone has located his long-lost father who left him at a fire station when he was born. Next up is Kate (played by Chrissy Metz) who’s a woman struggling with her obesity and rededicates herself to a diet on her birthday. Finally, our last lead character is Kate’s fraternal twin brother named, Kevin (played by Justin Hartley), an actor who stars in a sitcom and it requires him to have his shirt off about 90 percent of the time. Oh yeah, and in the sitcom, he plays a male nanny.


            The show seems like a nice little drama filled with three separate but interesting stories, but it’s the twist that NBC has been hiding that makes the show a much more intriguing and watchable show. It’s revealed that Randall is Kevin and Kate’s adopted sibling and that the show seems to take place at a different time period for some because it’s also revealed that Jack and Rebecca are their parents. This is revealed within the last few minutes of the episode due to some decent set design and classic clothing. To be fair, it is a bit of a corny takeaway but it was something that was hidden and led to a surprise moment for a lot of viewers. I appreciated it because it was their attempt at doing something different. A show that takes place within the modern times and also be somewhat of a period piece is interesting and it begs the question, where does this series go from here?


            The whole theme of the show seems to bring the message to the audience that “it all works out” but the big key here is what is to follow on the show. It is a good start but I seriously question where the show can go from here. We’ll have to see on episode two.

8.2/10

Friday, September 23, 2016

Women stand up for their rights in the workplace in first trailer for Amazon series, 'Good Girls Revolt'

Image from Indiewire
By Darian Scalamoni

            I’ve only been able to watch one Amazon series thus far and it has been tremendous. That show is Transparent and though I’m halfway through Season 3, a review should be up before the end of the weekend. The first trailer for another show on the streaming service was just released today though and that show is Good Girls Revolt.

            The show is a true story about a group of 45 women who worked at Newsweek and brought a discrimination lawsuit against the company in 1969. It was inspired by Lynn Povich’s book of the same title which recounted her real life experiences of changing the workplace for women. This is obviously a show that can relate very much to the current state of equal rights in the workplace for women as now in 2016 we deal with another significant problem, equal pay for women. This show looks great though and features Anna Camp, who is best known for the Pitch Perfect films and also Grace Gummer who is Meryl Streep’s daughter and had a supporting role on the latest season of Mr. Robot which just ended last night.

            This looks to have a similar look and tone to Mad Men but with women. Check out the first trailer for Amazon original series, Good Girls Revolt. Season 1 will be released on October 28th!

Gyllenhaal and Mulligan to star in Paul Dano's directorial debut, 'Wildlife'

Image from goldenglobes.com
By Darian Scalamoni

            It’s a shame to see some great character actors not get all the credit they deserve. Those men and women who show up in any role and do a tremendous job but they’re not recognized by the general public. One of those actors has to be Paul Dano. He has starred in some of the best movies each and every year. He made his presence known first in 2006’s Little Miss Sunshine in which he plays the mute/depressed son of Toni Collette and Greg Kinnear. Though that movie is mostly a comedy, he has shown work in all types of genres including Sci-Fi (Looper, Cowboys & Aliens), Romance (Ruby Sparks), Thriller (Prisoners), Drama (12 Years a Slave, There Will Be Blood) and even a musical biopic for which he’s probably best known titled, Love & Mercy in which he plays Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. He has worked with a number of tremendous directors in the past and now he is directing his very own feature.

            According to The Playlist, the movie will be called Wildlife. He actually co-wrote the script with long-time girlfriend and co-star in Ruby Sparks, actress Zoe Kazan. He movie is an adaptation of the Richard Ford novel of the same name that follows a teenager dealing with his parents’ relationship which is going south. Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan have just been cast in the movie as the parents. Gyllenhaal starred with Dano in Prisoners and they will be seen in the upcoming Bong Joon-Ho sci-fi film Okja due out next year, as well.

            I’m incredibly excited for this movie especially since it has so many great creative minds attached already with Dano, Kaza, Gyllenhaal and Mulligan. Wildlife will begin production in November and it has now entered discussions for one of my most anticipated films of next year, by far.

'Mr. Robot' Season 2 Finale Review

Image from Collider
By Darian Scalamoni

            I have been one of the biggest advocates for Mr. Robot since I binge watched the first season about three months ago. Season 1 was one of my favorite seasons of television ever and this season started on an incredibly high note but had its moments where it began to falter. The season 2 finale of Mr. Robot falls somewhere in between as it answers some questions that we had but ultimately, doesn’t fulfill exactly what the viewer was looking for completely.

            In a show with so many twists and turns it’s hard to pick up on everything that happens on a week to week basis especially when you can’t even trust your narrator half the time. Unfortunately, the finale was just as disjointed as the latter part of this season. It’s interesting to note just how separate all the characters were this season compared to last season. We do discover at the end of the episode here that Angela and Tyrell are working together but it took 12 episodes for us to reach that discovery and it also took us until the 11th installment of this season in which we saw Tyrell for the first time this season. Seeing interactions between Elliot and other characters were a key element of season one and though Angela evolved into a tremendously strong female character this season, it seems she might’ve been focused on too heavily at times. Darlene was a character that I didn’t feel for at all this season either. She murdered someone as an out, that was a character decision that I don’t know that I can side with and now that we know her boyfriend, Cisco was shot at the diner (which was inevitable), I didn’t even feel for that character’s death or think Darlene deserved any empathy for losing him. It seemed that last season weaved so perfectly interlocking relationships rather than this season which sloppily (at times) interlocked plots. It wasn’t about the crisis and growth of characters but more of a problem solving puzzle each and every week.

            Some of the characters that we did meet this season I did come to truly appreciate but I don’t know if I’m truly on the bandwagon yet for Grace Gummer’s role as FBI agent Dom. She has her moments where she shines but I feel like it’s been more of a flash pan moment every other episode. Though this finale fits the description as her scenes with Darlene seemed so genuine and interesting that it formed an interesting relationship between characters (hint-hint season one), I still was more intrigued with characters like Leon (more on him later). Christian Slater’s Mr. Robot is another character that I wanted to see more interaction with Elliot. Elliot had an interesting sort of downward spiral but also an awakening. It was something that the viewer really had to piece together every decision and thing he said within every episode to try to bring together a surreal incarnation of a character who was loved and misunderstood in season one.

            The thematic effect that the show had was once again top notch, with interesting shot styles and experimentation throughout that makes me so excited for anything Sam Esmail decides to do post-Robot, I’m on board. Obviously with the confusing and conflicting storylines throughout you can make a point where the direction seems scattered but I tend to disagree just because the tone of the show has always been designed to make the viewer think and not be able to trust the protagonist of this surreal USA Network drama. The music was a big factor for me this season, featuring all types of genres for a show that seems to sometimes have too much up its sleeve, the music production was fantastic all season long.

            As we head back into the details of the finale, we now know that Elliot actually does have a friend in Tyrell Wellick. That’s right, he wasn’t just seeing him as merely a projection like he does with his dead father. Unfortunately, Elliot being the schizophrenic that he is, can’t determine that until he is ultimately shot by his friend in the final moments of season two. Quite a cliffhanger but obviously, Elliot is not dead. Rami Malek is an essential part of why the show works and he just won an Emmy for his performance in season one, so it would be foolish to take his character out of the show. So, Wellick is real and back for good which at least in my eyes is great news. Tyrell was one of the best characters in the show and it’s nice to see him back but also fascinating to see how he’s had such a close friendship with Elliot this whole time. I say that because when he does contact Angela, he clearly seems distraught over the fact that he shot our lead by saying “I love him” before sobbing strongly.

            In regards to Tyrell’s wife, she might be framing someone else for a murder that he, in fact, committed. She decides to head to Mr. Sutherland’s house to tell basically tell him he’s a nobody, this leads to him beating Joanna to a bloody pulp before deciding to flip the script by getting her new “boyfriend” to tell the police that it was him that killed Mrs. Sutherland last season. It’s an approach that I’m not quite sure I understand just yet and we’ll have to wait till next season for more details. It seems to come together though as Dom decides to make an offer to Darlene in which they can help each other if Darlene can help Dom track down Tyrell. How will Joanna discover that her husband is working with Elliot and how will she feel about it? Just more questions for Season 3 that we can hope will get answered sooner rather than later.

            The finale of this show was far from bad, in fact I think it was one of the better episodes of the season but tried to fit too much in at the last minute. The cataclysmic events that occurred within this season made it for a good watch but not near the almost perfect rookie season of a show that will go down as one that changed the landscape for television especially going forward for USA Network. I’m excited to see where we’ll go from here though and I believe that Elliot will be back stronger than ever next season especially with his new “big three” along with Angela and Tyrell.

8.3/10

Sarah Paulson and Mark Duplass reunite as high school sweethearts in the first lovely trailer for 'Blue Jay'

Image from The Hollywood Reporter
By Darian Scalamoni

            If you haven’t watched American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson yet, do yourself a favor and watch the best miniseries I’ve seen this year. It just won Best Miniseries at the Emmy’s this past weekend and one of its stars, Sarah Paulson won Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries for her amazing portrayal of Marcia Clark. She has become one of the best actresses on television since working with frequent collaborator Ryan Murphy and now she’s co-starring in a romance film with Mark Duplass who is best known for television as well starring in The League and Togetherness called Blue Jay.

            I have to say, this film looks fantastic. I’m a big fan of independent movies and always have been and these are two of the best actors working mostly in independents and though they both need to get more mainstream work; I love that they’re starring in Blue Jay together. The film follows former high school sweethearts Jim and Amanda (Duplass and Paulson respectively), who meet up unexpectedly for the first time in over 20 years. They decide to rekindle and hangout for a bit at Jim’s mother’s house where everything sends them spiraling back into the past.

            Blue Jay looks to be an authentic romance film and take a look at something that could very easily happen for anyone at any time. The fact that the movie was filmed in black and white also adds to the uniqueness of the movie which is the feature debut for director, Alex Lehmann. Check out the trailer for the movie below. Blue Jay arrives in theaters on October 7th.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Ice Cube swings at Charlie Day in first trailer for 'Fist Fight'

Image from Coming Soon
By Darian Scalamoni

            Ice Cube found himself a good comedy partner with Kevin Hart within the Ride Along films, but how will he fare with someone like Charlie Day? Well you can be the judge as today the first trailer for the movie, Fist Fight was released.

            The premise for the upcoming comedy follows high school teachers who get into a tussle with each other in the parking lot after school. It’s kind of a silly premise and idea for a movie. I don’t believe it looks all that great from the trailer either. Even though I’m a fan of Ice Cube in the Jump Street movies, as well as love It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia in which Day stars, but this doesn’t look like something I’ll be interested in. Maybe that’s why the studio has dropped it in the dumping ground of February.

            Fist Fight will be released on February 17th, 2017. Along with Ice Cube and Charlie Day, the rest of the cast includes Jillian Bell, Christina Hendricks, Dean Norris, Kumail Nanjiani and Tracy Morgan in his first film role since his tragic car accident. Check out the trailer below!

Alex Wolff tries to find J.D. Salinger in first trailer for 'Coming Through the Rye'

Image from Westword
By Darian Scalamoni

            One of my favorite novels I read in high school was Catcher and the Rye written by J.D. Salinger but I’ve always been interested in seeing more about J.D. Salinger. Today, we received the first trailer for a film named Coming Through the Rye that follows a young man in a coming-of-age story who wants to put on a play of the legendary novel at his high school but he must get the rights from Salinger.
            Alex Wolff plays the lead role of Jamie, who is greatly influenced by the novel and Holden Caufield. He then travels along with a friend to seek out Salinger but as history knows, the reclusive author never allowed the book to be adapted for the screen or stage. Salinger is played by Academy Award winning actor, Chris Cooper within the film.


            This little indie film looks like an interesting story and Cooper playing Salinger is perfect casting. Check out the trailer for Coming Through the Rye below. The film will be released on October 14th.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

'Ballers' Episode 9, Season 2 Review

Image from The Players Tribune
By Darian Scalamoni

            I’m honestly very impressed with the quality of content we’ve received in Ballers this season. Week by week I’m becoming more invested in each and every character and storyline throughout the show. This past Sunday’s episode is no different.

            Spencer is trying to buy ASM from his former employer as is his rival and former financial manager, Andre. We saw last week that the only way Spencer can do so is by borrowing some cash from his own clients to try and generate a good offer for his old boss to buy a company that he’s not entirely open to selling in the first place. That trend continues this week as the episode concludes with Spence asking Vernon for a five-million-dollar loan. It’s clear that Spencer is having some real issue with his current unemployment, especially because Andre seems to be flipping the script in regards to how his character has acted all season. This includes a meet up between himself and Spencer in which Andre wanted to buy the company himself and have Spencer head the football division. Obviously this is a no-go for the former linebacker turned financial manager because he’s been very much about himself this season. Not only with his business ventures, but also with his health. Yep, he’s still dealing with that bum hip ever since he fought Terrell Suggs back in episode one.

            Charles and Reggie are actually regulated to side-duty for much of this episode. Reggie has now changed his mind yet again on where he wants to play. He’s been flip-flopping all season long between teams like the Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins, but now he wants to play for a contender. He then sparks a conversation with his father whether he believes he should play for the Panthers, Packers or Patriots. We’ll have to wait till next week to find out, maybe…

            Also, Charles is dealing with issues at home that are making him itch, literally. He begins to develop hives after stress from his wife continues to build as his new front office job is taking away time from being a family man. This leads his wife Julie to hire a nanny. A sexy, latin man by the name of Manny actually who has worked with kids for years but Charles does not approve. Expect to see Charles make some sort of sacrifice for his family in next week’s installment.

            I think what I loved most about this episode though was the real interaction between Andre and Spencer. It made you see that there is another side to Andy Garcia’s character, a side you could actually root for. It made you see the compassion that he had in a situation that really seemed like it was more so Spencer’s fault that he lost all of his money.

9/10