Thursday, December 22, 2016

"Assassin's Creed" Review

The inherent problem with movies based on video games is that, by the nature of the medium, a movie makes a passive narrative out of an active one. For anyone who's played the Assassin's Creed video games, who can deny the thrill of scaling Renaissance architecture or the sweaty-palmed excitement of your first "leap of faith?" These are seminal moments that have made Assassin's Creed a hallmark of developer Ubisoft's oeuvre. The results of this highly-anticipated, game-to-screen translation are, perhaps unsurprisingly, decidedly average.

Featuring most of the same creative team behind last year's astounding Macbeth, Assassin's Creed seemed to be a surefire hit in the making. Director Justin Kurzel tries too hard to elevate the material to some twisted form of higher art. I found myself growing more and more exhausted as the film went on and thought that its biggest sin was self-seriousness. But then I remembered that the games - aside from some silly dialogue with the Florentines in Assassin's Creed II - are kind of the same way. Going back to the inherent flaw of video game movies, it's one thing to take part in a self-serious slog yourself. It's entirely different to be forced to sit idly as one plays out in front of you. Not even solid acting - of which there is plenty here - can save an absurdist plot that doesn't know when to embrace its silliness.

Michael Fassbender plays Callum Lynch, an entirely new hero in the franchise. He is the direct descendant of Aguilar de Nerha (also Fassbender), a 15th century assassin working to overthrow Templar rule during the first years of the Spanish Inquisition. The connection between Cal and Aguilar is amplified by the Animus, a device that synchronizes his senses and memories with those of his ancestor. Through this connection, Abstergo Industries hopes to find the location of the Apple of Eden - a device that many believe contains the key to free will. Sofia Rikkin (Marion Cotillard) is in charge of the Animus project and hopes to use the Apple of Eden as a cure for violence. Her father Alan (Jeremy Irons) wants it for more nefarious purposes.

Even with a cast of star thespians, the Abstergo scenes are far less interesting than the action sequences with Aguilar. It's no secret that the stunt work on this film has been some of the most ambitious in cinema history. The "leap of faith" sequences alone required the highest controlled free falls ever attempted on a movie set. Kurzel should have given the action more room to breathe, though. Too much of the stunt work is masked by editing save for a climactic confrontation between Aguilar and Templar forces inside a temple. There's an electrifying shot with fellow assassin Maria (Ariane Labed) beating down several enemies with a few quick strikes from her gauntlet blades. Later in the scene, we get a brutal hand-to-hand fight sequence between Aguilar and Ojeda (Hovik Keuchkerian), a Templar henchman. With the games chock full of R-rated content, I was worried that the film's PG-13 rating may ruin it. Thankfully that wasn't the case. Buckets of CGI blood would've contributed nothing of any of the violent sequences.

Another thing I liked very much about the Aguilar scenes were that they were presented entirely in the Spanish language. I've always found the games slightly absurd for their adherence to the English language. In Assassin's Creed II, t's hilarious to listen to Leonardo Da Vinci speak with a British accent in Florence, Italy. Other side characters do the same during the French Revolution in Assassin's Creed: Unity. All characters in the film spoke Spanish when the setting required it, making the action feel more authentic. Great creative decision by the director and screenwriters.

The last fifteen or so minutes of the film present a clever, somewhat full-circle way to marry the Abstergo scenes with the more exciting assassin sequences. Overall though, It's too bad that Assassin's Creed revels in the more laconic aspects of the video game campaigns. Nobody plays the games for those scenes with Kristen Bell.

The ball's in your court now, Uncharted.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

My Day with Film (Wednesday, 12/21/16)

Wednesday, 12/21/16

Dear Diary,

Okay, so I'm freaking / nerding out a little bit right now. Maybe it's just the coffee kicking in, but within the past 24 hours, I received a package in the mail that I have been waiting a year and a half for.

That's right! THE BARN is finally in my hands! This crowdfunded '80s throwback first came to my attention in August 2015. I blogged about my hype after watching the trailers and exploring the many perks for contributors to the Indiegogo campaign. I've done my best to champion it ever since. I finally watched the film last night, and I am so ecstatic that the wait was worth it! THE BARN has the same look and feel of the cheesy, lo-fi slashers of yesteryear, complete with artificial film grain, dubious acting performances, and homemade gore effects. 

Perhaps regrettably, I've become something of a Blu-ray snob over the past couple of years. Ever since I got a proper player and HD television set, I refused to buy or watch any movie on DVD aside from some black & white films and studio comedies that I didn't think necessarily needed the added detail of 1080p. I don't need to count every hair on Owen Wilson's ragamuffin head in WEDDING CRASHERS. For now, THE BARN is only available on DVD and videocassette(!), and after seeing the film on DVD, I'm not sure I'd bother upgrading if writer/director/editor/awesome guy Justin Seaman and Nevermore Production Films ever released a Blu-ray. I think it may tarnish the film's low-rent aesthetic. Furthermore, the DVD I have is exclusive to Indiegogo contributors, and yours truly just happens to have a spot in the credits.

I don't know why I used my full name. I should've told them to put "The Reel Movies Blog." I think my id went crazy in that moment, and thus I briefly indulged my movie producer fantasy. I couldn't be more excited or happy that I finally have my claws on THE BARN and that my name is included on such a fine package that so much love and care went into. 

I'm running short on time as I have a screening of ASSASSIN'S CREED to make, but I retweeted a bunch of news today on my Twitter feed. Among the headlines, Denis Villeneuve confirms that BLADE RUNNER 2049 will be rated R, and apparently he is in talks to direct a remake of DUNE. Elsewhere, beloved film critic Leonard Maltin discusses 2016's must-see movies, 336 films qualify for the Best Picture Oscar, voice casting for Wes Anderson's ISLE OF DOGS could include you, and in honor of the Blu-ray release of Rob Zombie's 31, Bloody Disgusting explores what happened to the rumored NC-17 cut. Head over to my Twitter to read on. 

Until tomorrow, 


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

My Day with Film (Tuesday, 12/20/16)

Tuesday, 12/20/16

Dear Diary,

I shared my review of PASSENGERS this morning. Spoiler alert - I did not care for it. I think the film releases Wednesday for anybody who is still interested. ASSASSIN'S CREED also comes out this week, so I hope to see it and post a review soon.

While working today, I pulled up the latest Movie Fight from the folks over at Screen Junkies. They don't do this all the time, but Screen Junkies recently started this new approach to Movie Fights by getting contestants drunk while arguing movies. It's great.

Today we got two new stills from ALIEN: COVENANT. The first trailer is imminent, per the folks at TrailerTrack.

We also got a brand new still from JUSTICE LEAGUE. This one features Ben Affleck as Batman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, and Ezra Miller as The Flash staring pensively at something in the upper right corner.

We did, however, get the first trailer for THE EMOJI MOVIE. It's presented vertically, which means it is optimized for mobile viewing. Nobody will be surprised if the entire movie is shot that way. It's only a tease, but I think this trailer perfectly captures everyone's thoughts about the prospect of a film based on emoji.

There's also another trailer out now for A CURE FOR WELLNESS, which looks like a more stylized version of SHUDDER ISLAND. I'm excited for this one. I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out to be terrible, but I think there's an interesting story and some insane visuals here. And I love haunted asylum horror/psychological thriller movies. This one is out mid-February.

Lastly, my mother is interested in seeing any and all Christmas movies right now, including KRAMPUS. I promised her we'd watch it tonight. We'll see how that goes.

Until tomorrow,


"Passengers" Review

Early previews for Passengers made it look like an intriguing successor to 2001: A Space Odyssey. With "America's sweethearts" Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt leading the cast, and The Imitation Game director Morten Tyldum behind the camera, Sony had all the makings of a crowd-pleasing Oscar contender not unlike last year's The Martian.

The finished product is about as far removed from all of that as possible. Sure, Pratt and Lawrence have chemistry, but the script goes completely off the rails with a third act so contrived that it all but sinks the entire production. In this case, "S.O.S." might as well stand for "Save Our Story."

Pratt stars as Jim Preston, a mechanical engineer who awakes 90 years prematurely on a mission to colonize a distant, earth-like planet called Homestead II. He spends a year playing basketball, setting high scores on a space-age version of the "Just Dance" video game, and confiding in Arthur (Martin Sheen), an android bartender and the only friendly face Jim has to interact with. After all that time in solitude, and a brush with death, Jim decides that he needs human company.

Lawrence stars as Aurora Lane, a writer from New York City. Together, she and Jim must find and fix a malfunction that threatens to destroy their spaceship and take the lives of 5,000 colonists.

For about ninety minutes of its barely-two-hour run time, Passengers is a perfectly passable movie. It's neither flashy enough to measure up with a blockbuster like Rogue One, nor is it intimate enough to pass for an indie in the vein of Duncan Jones's Moon. Pratt proves that he has the charisma to carry a film on his own; the first 30 to 45 minutes or so are arguably the film's best. From this point, Passengers continues to skate by based on the chemistry that he and Lawrence share. Then something happens to remind you that there's actually a plot at work. The solution to the central conflict is literally placed in the protagonists' hands, and the rest of the film plays out as safely and predictably as one could imagine. By the end, you'll feel as though you've just sat through the ultimate male fantasy, and then you'll ask yourself how in God's name a certain actor received billing for his role in this film.

I think the overall message of the film is something along the lines of "love the one you're with." That may be clear, but there has got to be a better story to tell with this concept. To be totally honest, Michael Bay's The Island comes to mind as something of a favorable example of the his & hers "fish-out-of-water" tale. Pratt and Lawrence remain as likable as ever, but they need a vehicle that doesn't pander to the lowest common denominator.


Monday, December 19, 2016

My Day with Film (Monday, 12/19/16)

Monday, 12/19/16

Dear Diary,

I'm sorry that it's been a couple of days since I've written. 'Twas a busy weekend! I tried to keep up by tweeting and retweeting a lot of cool things I noticed online. I saw ROGUE ONE for a second time, yet it did not change my initial feelings towards the film as a whole. 

This morning, I finished this season's viewing of the perennial cult classic SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT. Based on the poster, you can probably guess what this movie is about. A traumatized young man dressed as Santa Claus goes on a Christmas Eve rampage across his town, snuffing out any and all semblances of naughtiness. SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT is most famous for the controversy surrounding it. Upon its release in 1984, no horror film had made a villain out of Santa Claus. That, combined with the film's graphic death scenes, prompted critics, politicians and concerned parents across the country to call for the film's swift ban, as well as the heads of both producer Ira Barmak and director Chuck Sellier, Jr. Among horror aficionados, SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT is most famous for containing one of the all-time great slasher movie deaths - a topless Linnea Quigley impaled on a mounted buck's antlers. Earlier this year, I picked up Anchor Bay's "30th Anniversary Edition" Blu-ray for an extremely low price. This is the complete uncut version of the film and is the only copy I've ever seen. Apparently, the master used for this Blu-ray disc was compiled from both an incomplete HD master and a VHS composite. At several moments, the "high-def" footage gives way to early-VHS-quality video. It's a bit jarring, and one could argue that it ruins the impact of one or two kills, but for me, it reinforces the film's low-budget charm. I can see why this is a cult classic, and just this year, it's become a fun guilty pleasure for me. Not recommended for children, the squeamish, or concerned mothers.

Industry news I saw today noted that ROGUE ONE made about $150 million in North America over the weekend. Worldwide cumulative estimates were just above $290 million. Perhaps unsurprisingly, COLLATERAL BEAUTY, the ensemble melodrama led by Will Smith, struggled to hit pay dirt. Read more about the weekend's box office totals at

Speaking of ROGUE ONE, director Gareth Edwards spilled to Radio Times that he found some unused footage from A NEW HOPE that made it into the final cut of the new film. Industrial Light & Magic cleaned up the aging celluloid, and Edwards then used it hoping that eagle-eyed fans would appreciate it and that less discerning audiences wouldn't notice. I won't post spoilers for ROGUE ONE on this blog, so if you want to find out exactly which footage was used, read here.

We also got a couple of insanely awesome new teaser trailers today! These two sub-2-minute clips may have singlehandedly rescued me from my cynicism towards the just-passable trailers of the past several weeks, including THE MUMMY and WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES

First we got an all-new look at JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2, and it looks terrific. The last film was a pleasant surprise with franchise potential that nobody saw coming, and the sequel looks to build on that in a valuable way. I can't wait!

Then we got our very first look at BLADE RUNNER 2049! I was skeptical at the idea of a sequel to BLADE RUNNER, but once Warner Brothers confirmed all the talent involved, I grew more receptive to it. This teaser damns skepticism to hell and may just be the best of this year. It shows just enough to make us excited but not so much that any aspects of the plot are given away. I could watch it a million times.

As I wrote this post and finished some other work for the day, I put on Criterion's disc of Terence Malick's THE THIN RED LINE. This is one that's been sitting on my shelf for several months, and I finally got around to it. Such a magnificent film.

Lastly, I'm ending my day with a screening of the new sci-fi romance film PASSENGERS. Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt have been tearing it up on the press junket for this movie, so hopefully it lives up to the hype.

Until tomorrow, 


Thursday, December 15, 2016

"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" Review

It's here folks. It's finally here, which means 2016 can officially end. Rogue One is out there now, and all can be right with the world...

Rogue One represents the first of Disney's attempts to milk the traditional Star Wars timeline for everything it's worth, hence the subtitle "A Star Wars Story" rather than "Episode VII" or even "Episode III.V." As such, the film is also the first in the franchise to begin without an opening crawl. The audience in my screening was so confused when John Williams' classic theme wasn't the first thing they heard. Don't let that ruin the experience for you. Despite several dubious creative choices that may have completely collapsed a non-Star Wars film, Rogue One is still the movie that fans have been waiting nearly 35 years to see.

In the grand scheme of things, Rogue One really serves no worthwhile narrative purpose to the franchise. It's a 2.5 hour movie about the team of rebels that stole the structural plans to the Death Star, as hinted at in the original film's opening crawl.

In truth, it's a 2.5-hour movie about the reason why the Death Star had but one structural flaw that could be exploited with a perfectly placed torpedo from an X-Wing. By the nature of this film attempting to fit into a pre-existing timeline, its stakes are diminished. We've been watching its "sequel" for 40 years; we know how the story of Rogue One ends.

Ironically, it's this film's final thirty minutes that are the most exciting.

Director Gareth Edwards (2014's Godzilla) stages some of the most harrowing set pieces that the franchise has ever seen. The confrontation between Rebel and Imperial forces on the beach planet Scarif has Saving Private Ryan vibes. The Stormtroopers still have terrible aim, but the violence manages to be visceral on a level not seen in a Star Wars movie before. I hesitate to say any more about it so as to avoid spoilers. I'll just say that Dunkirk may be the perfect trailer to show before this film.

To be completely honest, other than the stellar climax, the narrative has astonishingly little else going for it. The film's opening looks and feels like something out of a David Lean film, courtesy of Greig Fraser's franchise-best cinematography. For the following hour and a half, the film grinds almost to a complete halt. Star Wars hasn't been this dry since Hayden Christensen's monologue about sand in Attack of the Clones. There are some shootouts peppered here and there to try and spice things up, but it doesn't really matter when you have trouble finding a reason to care for many of the main characters. The only ones who saved it for me were Donnie Yen as the blind master Chirrut Imwe, Ben Mendelsohn as the villainous Imperial general Orson Krennic, and Alan Tudyk as K-2SO, a reprogrammed Imperial escort droid. Think of him as Chewbacca in droid form if Chewy could crack wise in English. Yen is the character with the strongest Force powers and thus the movie's greatest badass. Seeing his blind character walk through a no-man's-land of blaster fire and kick the crap out of Stormtroopers with his staff never gets old. As for Mendelsohn as Krennic, well, this is Ben Mendelsohn we're talking about. He's a worthy addition to the canon of Star Wars bad guys.

Speaking of which, yes, HE returns and, out of a couple appearances, has one of his coolest, most terrifying moments ever. The moment in question is easily one of the film's best sequences. Hopefully you'll recognize it when you see it.

I thought Felicity Jones and Diego Luna were an absolute bore. They lead the film as Jyn Erso and Captain Cassian Andor respectively. They have almost zero chemistry, and their dialogue, rarely ever spoken above a whisper, has all the urgency of drying paint.

Perhaps Rogue One's most egregious sin, however, is Edwards' decision to use CGI for a couple of important supporting characters so as to shoehorn their place into this quasi-"prequel" narrative. If this wasn't a Star Wars film, I would have walked out. It nearly turns Star Wars into Who Framed Roger Rabbit?  One character has far too much screen time while the other only makes a fleeting appearance. If you're a fan, you'll probably geek out for a second and then cringe. These characters look incomplete and totally unpolished, as though their scenes were re-shot and added to the finished product no earlier than a week before release. In the pantheon of Star Wars's kooky CG creations, I know where I'd rank them. I'll leave it to you, dear viewer, to decide which side of Jar Jar Binks to place them on.

In the end, Rogue One proves to be yet another journey to a galaxy far, far away that's worth taking. It's more in-sync with the original films than The Force Awakens and earns major points for being a distinctly original Star Wars narrative that still fits into the same timeline. Some of Edwards' creative decisions are dubious to the brink of catastrophe, but the film never totally crosses that line. If you were disappointed by Episode VII last year, and the word "prequels" makes you vomit in your mouth a little bit, then Rogue One may just be the Star Wars movie for you.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

My Day with Film (Wednesday, 12/14/16)

Wednesday, 12/14/16

Dear Diary,

Since I last wrote, the first full trailer for Chris Nolan's DUNKIRK arrived online! It looks pretty awesome.

Is that Harry Styles I see in there? He actually looks like a human being! And Tom Hardy as an attack pilot?! Way cool. Allegedly, some IMAX screenings of ROGUE ONE around the country get to see the prologue of DUNKIRK projected from 70mm film. Unfortunately none of the theaters near me are lucky enough to have that. 

Also since writing yesterday, I saw that Alan Thicke died tragically at the age of 69. I heard he was out playing hockey with his son and had a heart attack. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and with anyone else who was close to him. I used to love GROWING PAINS. With only about two weeks left, it'd be cool if 2016 could spare the rest of the greats. 

In the gym earlier this afternoon, I heard "Shake Ya Tailfeather" from the BAD BOYS II soundtrack over the PA system. I nearly forgot how hard that song is. Instantaneously cranked my workout to the next level. 

Then after my workout I went to see OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY. Some of the antics rival PROJECT X from a couple of years ago, but overall it isn't quite as memorable. It would've been a hoot to see the all-star cast go totally off-the-wall to deliver something as gleefully unhinged as PROJECT X or the first HANGOVER. They come close but never quite get there. Perhaps the saddest thing of all is that the movie just isn't that funny. Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, T.J. Miller, Olivia Munn, and Kate McKinnon have all delivered sidesplitting work in the past. I can't believe they couldn't push the envelope just a little bit more with this cast. There's a loose plot involving the Chicago branch of a data security company getting the sack unless they find a way to secure a big contract before everyone leaves for the holidays. So, they invite an important client (THE PEOPLE VS. O.J. SIMPSON's Courtney B. Vance) to their office Christmas party with the hope that he'll experience their culture firsthand and choose to work with them over the likes of Dell and Oracle. Holiday hijinks ensue. If you haven't seen this one yet, wait until next Christmas after it hits Redbox. 

I saw on Twitter today were that the nominees for this year's SAG (that's "Screen Actors Guild) Awards were announced. You can check the list out courtesy of Variety. The big surprises that everyone's buzzing about are Viggo Mortensen's well-deserved inclusion in the race for Best Actor race for his turn in CAPTAIN FANTASTIC and Emily Blunt's Best Actress nomination for THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN. Many are calling Blunt's nomination "the shock of the year" as she beat out the likes of ELLE's Isabelle Huppert and 20TH CENTURY WOMEN's Annette Bening who, up to this point, were two favorites to contend for the Oscar. I've yet to see ELLE or 20TH CENTURY WOMEN, but they can't be any worse than THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN. Blunt's performance is okay but certainly not worthy of any major awards.

Another big thing I saw was that the first trailer for BLADE RUNNER 2049 is imminent. It will run exactly 98 seconds (the significance of that number, I'm not sure) and could be online as early as Sunday or Monday. If you ask me, it'd be smart for Warner Brothers to piggyback on ROGUE ONE. Aside from DUNKIRK I'm unaware of any other major blockbuster teases for opening weekend. BLADE RUNNER appeals to the same general demographic as STAR WARS, so why not? Maybe the hype of everything mushed together - DUNKIRK, STAR WARS, AND BLADE RUNNER - would just be too much. We'll see.

The last two news stories I noticed were that ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK's Ruby Rose is in talks to join PITCH PERFECT 3, and DOCTOR STRANGE was the highest grossing film in America during the month of November, raking in an estimated $222 million. According to Box Office Mojo, Marvel's latest has earned just under $650 million worldwide so far.

I'm concluding my day with a very special digital IMAX 3D screening of ROGUE ONE. I couldn't be more stoked! I watched A NEW HOPE and part of THE FORCE AWAKENS last night because the hype was just too real. I also wanted the context and nuances of the original fresh in my mind before going into this one. Hopefully I'll get even more out of it that way. I wanted to play more STAR WARS: BATTLEFRONT beforehand because there's new DLC that just came out, and I've played maybe five minutes of it. It's got maps and heroes inspired by the new film. Maybe I'll play a game or two after I get home. 

I will type up my full review and share it tomorrow so that anyone going to the first shows can be informed. I promise to be as spoiler-free as possible! 

Until tomorrow,


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

My Day with Film (Tuesday, 12/13/16)

Tuesday, 12/13/16

Dear Diary,

The big news story of the day is that the embargo lifted on reviews for ROGUE ONE and COLLATERAL BEAUTY. Everyone around the internet is scrambling to either avoid spoilers or find out as much as they can before going in. Why on Earth would you do that??

I got some words down about Will Smith's latest which can be read here. Thoughts on ROGUE ONE will be coming this week after I see it. I should have something out in time for everyone planning to attend screenings over the weekend.

As I sat down to write my thoughts about COLLATERAL BEAUTY, I also thought about when I should review MANCHESTER BY THE SEA now that I've seen it. I don't think I'm going to on the blog, and here's why:

Full disclosure - I've had a bit of a hard time this year finding a steady job. I've been a college graduate for a year now, and I'm still trying to carve out a direction for myself going forward. If I could make a living writing about movies and podcasting all day, I'd do it in a heartbeat. That's part of what I hoped to accomplish with these daily diary entries. I believe, and other people around me have said (unless they're just being nice), that I have a unique perspective, and people have gravitated towards that. My audience, however big or small, is still an audience, and I love all of you for reading, listening to and supporting me over the past couple of years. I am going to continue writing as much as I can, but I need to buckle in and focus on starting a career. That said, I don't think I'll be reviewing anything aside from brand-new or early releases. That is, if I can have something available to you during the first weekend of release, I'll do it. Otherwise I'm going to focus my attention elsewhere.

The Reel Movies Podcast will continue, and I should have the last episode of 2016 out next week. I'm not giving up; just simply shifting priorities.

I will simply say that MANCHESTER BY THE SEA is magnificent and, I think, one of the finest American-made dramas of the past 20 years. Casey Affleck is as good as you've heard playing a man stuck in arrested development who suddenly finds himself as the guardian to his nephew after the boy's father dies. Michelle Williams has a small, relatively thankless role that doesn't blossom into anything particularly memorable until she confronts Affleck's character one last time before the ending. The kid, Lucas Hedges, deserves every "Breakout performance" award coming his way for his role as young Patrick. I'll probably have more to say on a future podcast episode, so stay tuned, or feel free to discuss with me on social media.

The next big thing I've seen today is a new poster for TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT, courtesy of Michael Bay and Paramount Pictures.

Apparently last week's trailer debut was one of the most successful of the social media era, garnering over 200 million views in under 7 days. It's pretty impressive that half of those views happened within the first 36 hours of the trailer's release.

It seems that as much as everyone loves to shit on Michael Bay and the TRANSFORMERS movies, the market for them is insatiable.

Until tomorrow,


"Collateral Beauty" Review

Collateral Beauty comes from an original screenplay written by Allan Loeb (21, Here Comes the Boom). Based on the trailers, you'd think this was inspired by some Dickensian novel ripe for favorable comparisons to A Christmas Carol or even, at the very least, to Frank Capra's It's A Wonderful Life. Director David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada) helms a tear-jerking soap opera of a film about coping with loss that is well beneath the abilities of its talented cast. Collateral Beauty is so corny and so blatantly Oscar-baity that even the third act twist does little to rescue it from insipidity.

Having said this, Will Smith hands in what may be his finest performance to date as Howard, an advertising executive struggling to get over the death of his six-year-old daughter. His personal relationships have withered as a result, threatening his stake in his business and leaving his colleagues (Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, Michael Pena) scrambling to find a solution. Howard copes by writing and mailing letters to what he claims are life's three most crucial absolutes - Love, Death and Time. "We long for love, we wish we had more time, and we fear death," he says.

To pull Howard out of this funk, Whit (Norton), Claire (Winslet) and Simon (Pena) hire three struggling stage actors - Brigitte (Helen Mirren, as a struggling stage actor? Seriously?), Amy (Keira Knightley) and Raffi (Jacob Latimore) - to portray Death, Love and Time respectively. They are tasked with confronting Howard and coaching him through the grieving process, trying to get him to see the beauty of life's gifts. But the one who finally gets Howard over the hump is Madeleine (Naomi Harris), a counselor who heads a support group for parents of deceased children.

All this sounds fine and fun and innocent enough until you figure out that all the characters only speak to each other in platitudes. Every line of dialogue in Loeb's script feels like either an empty quip or some emotional speech. The film tries to say poignant things, but it just comes off cloying. Real people don't talk this way, and that, to me, feels like the wrong way to approach a film with a subject as sensitive as the death of a child. Michael Pena works in a handful of funny moments, but they're not enough to save the movie.

Collateral Beauty is designed to make you cry in the same mindlessly cornball way as beach literature. One way or another you'll feel drained by the end - either of emotion or sanity. In this case, it may be both.

C- (For Will Smith's performance only)

Monday, December 12, 2016

My Day with Film (Monday, 12/12/16)

Monday, 12/12/16

Dear Diary,

I woke up this morning and scrolled through my Twitter feed, as I do just about every day. Turns out, today is when the Golden Globe nominations are announced! You can check out the full list of nominees here courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter. To the shock of no one, LA LA LAND and MOONLIGHT lead with the most nominations. However, I was surprised to see DEADPOOL land two(!) nominations: one for Best Picture - Comedy or Musical and another for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical for Ryan Reynolds. How well this bodes for the film's Oscar chances remains to be seen. Wouldn't that be something?

Also curiously absent from the list of Best Picture nominees are Denzel Washington's FENCES and Denis Villenueve's ARRIVAL. Personally I'm most surprised about Martin Scorsese's SILENCE being snubbed entirely. Was it not eligible? This is why I do what I do so that one day, when I grow up, I can be an insider and find out how these awards shows work.

I'd also like to know why nobody is seriously considering THE SHALLOWS or WIENER-DOG in every category. MOONLIGHT is overrated af.

Next I happened to watch the first trailer for THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS (a.k.a. FAST 8 or FAST & FURIOUS 8). Man, there is about to be some bat-shit craziness going on in this movie. If you're like me and have followed the series from the very beginning to where it stands currently, this trailer is probably going to mess with your head big time.

I dig it. I dig it a lot actually. I don't much care for the fact that they've essentially spoiled no less than two major plot twists, but still, I'm sold. I'm one of those people who couldn't be happier that this franchise finally embraced its absurdity. Since FAST FIVE, these films have found their sense of identity and have stuck to it. This has translated to billions of dollars at the box office. Few, if any, Hollywood franchises can claim that. I never thought I'd see the day that I'd be excited to line up for the eighth sequel for anything, yet here we are.

In other news, we got the first poster for Christopher Nolan's DUNKIRK, as well as the first set photo from THE GREATEST SHOWMAN courtesy of Hugh Jackman himself.

DUNKIRK's poster isn't terribly special if you ask me. It joins a long list of films whose posters use the cliche of having the main character's back turned as they brood over a hopeless, half-destroyed background. 

I still have high hopes for the film, though.

Now if it wasn't clear from this next photo, Hugh Jackman's next movie after LOGAN, THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, is about P.T. Barnum and the start of the Ringling Brothers Circus. 

Jackman is playing Barnum in this musical-biopic alongside Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, and Zendaya. Sounds interesting enough.

After watching the Critics' Choice Awards last night, my mother is interested in seeing LA LA LAND and MANCHESTER BY THE SEA*. Since LA LA LAND isn't yet playing in our area, MANCHESTER BY THE SEA it is.

(*We just got back. It's amazing. Full review to follow.)

Until tomorrow,


Saturday, December 10, 2016

My Day with Film (Saturday, 12/10/16)

Saturday, 12/10/16

Dear Diary,

Today I watched two films at home that I rented from Redbox - MIKE & DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES and HELL OR HIGH WATER. What can I say? I have diverse taste.

MIKE & DAVE was a truly terrible movie. Anna Kendrick is the only reason this unfunny mess was tolerable. HELL OR HIGH WATER has been getting loads of Oscar buzz, and I just saw it for the first time. It's a solid western crime drama, but there's nothing particularly special about it. Not a bad film by any stretch, just certainly not worthy of consideration for awards that are supposed to go to the most outstanding cinematic work of the year.

I reviewed NOCTURNAL ANIMALS today too. You can read that piece here.

Honestly, after this week full of movie trailers and news, I don't mind a day where my interactions with the world of cinema are limited.

Might watch a Christmas movie tonight. I can't decide between THE NIGHT BEFORE or SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT.

Did I mention I have diverse taste?

Until tomorrow,


"Nocturnal Animals" Review

Nocturnal Animals is the second feature film from fashion designer Tom Ford (A Single Man). It's based on a novel called "Tony & Susan" by Austin Wright, who was professor emeritus of English at the University of Cincinnati. The movie is about a troubled art gallery owner named Susan (Amy Adams). Her relationship with her husband (Armie Hammer) isn't so great, and the tension between them is exacerbated by their careers. One day, Susan receives a transcript for a novel written by her ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal). Although Susan left him in a horrible way twenty years prior, Edward still seeks her feedback. The novel's violent, emotional story is played out on-screen with Gyllenhaal as the main character Tony, Isla Fisher as his wife Laura, Aaron Taylor-Johnson as the troublemaking Ray, and Michael Shannon as the scene-stealing Detective Bobby Andes. As Susan is drawn deeper into the novel, she begins to perceive it as a symbolic tale of revenge against her.

Walking out of this film afterwards, I felt stymied to a fault. Several scenes in this film are conceived and executed with all the skill of a film school freshman. The moments that Susan inhabits also feel like an extended advertisement for Ford's fashion line. He seeks to shock the audience right out of the gate with a provocative living art display and then proceeds to drench the ensuing scenes in ego and pretension. It isn't until Susan starts reading the novel that the film gets interesting. "Nocturnal Animals" is played out for most of the running time as a manifestation of Susan's mind as she reads. This part of the film delivers a taut, suspenseful crime thriller that stands out from most of what I've seen this year despite, again, Ford's "film school" execution. A movie only needs so many scenes where the sound is removed and replaced by heavy breathing or voiceover.

This is a very bleak story of love and revenge and violence, so I welcomed Shannon's surprising performance as Detective Andes, the cop assigned to Tony's case after Ray and his buddies terrorize Tony's family on the highway. Andes is a man with nothing to lose; he's at the end of his career, dying of lung cancer, and clinching to his sanity by a thread. Shannon nails all these beats and manages to deliver a turn that's endearing, intense and unexpectedly funny - often all at once. Out of every movie I've seen this year, Shannon as Andes might be my favorite performance by an actor in a supporting role.

I've heard some criticisms about the ending of the film which is part of why I said I left "stymied." At first you think it ends in a very odd place, and you curse Ford for supposedly curtailing the emotional climax of the film. Then you sit and think about it a few different ways until it hits you, and it's amazing. Still, there are some unanswered questions regarding Susan and Edward's daughter that would be spoiled if I got into. Perhaps I need to see it again.

Overall I enjoyed Nocturnal Animals. It's saved by Michael Shannon and the story he inhabits. The rest of it is just extremely stylish and nothing more. Gyllenhaal and Adams turn in solid work, though neither operate at as high a caliber as we've seen from them before. This year alone, Adams is ten times better in Arrival. I think the film is worth seeing if you're into crime and revenge thrillers. Ford's style is unique in and of itself, and thus Nocturnal Animals stands out from many other films of its ilk. The man just needs to dial back his ego next time.


Friday, December 9, 2016

My Day with Film (Friday, 12/9/16)

Friday, 12/9/16

Dear Diary,

Almost all the feelings I've had towards cinema over the last two weeks have stemmed from movie trailers. There have been so many! I started the day, or rather ended it late last night, with the trailer for SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING.

This looks fun enough for a Marvel movie. The wingsuit finally makes its big screen debut, and Michael Keaton looks incredible as the Vulture! He may be Spider-Man's best movie villain yet. However, I was sucked out of the whole thing immediately when I saw Peter in class watching footage of the airport scene from CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR on YouTube. Who on earth was filming it??? Giant W.T.F. there. I'm also wary of the relationship Peter has with Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.). Past SPIDER-MAN films have been interesting character studies because they're as much about how a young man grapples with both his personal relationships and his call to a higher duty as they are about action scenes. The whole allure of Peter Parker / Spider-Man is that he's forced to navigate the trials of young adulthood without a father figure. This iteration of the character - especially based on what we've seen in Civil War - feels like its beholden to a babysitter. I appreciate that they've skewed age-appropriate with the new casting, but I don't know if I'm entirely sold just yet. I am looking forward to seeing the finished product for Keaton's Vulture, if nothing else.

Then as I checked into Twitter this morning, I watched part of a live stream featuring the cast of ROGUE ONE. I guess they held some sort of event and Q&A at Lucasfilm, and then stars Alan Tudyk & Riz Ahmed and director Gareth Edwards took a tour of the Industrial Light & Magic offices. It was so cool to see all the different props and artwork in the halls from previous ILM features!

Later I saw even more new movie trailers! Can you believe it?? We got the first full trailer for WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES today and without a stupid fucking 15-second teaser days beforehand too!!!!

I've enjoyed this PLANET OF THE APES prequel series so far, and there's no reason to think WAR will be any different. I'm fascinated by Woody Harrelson's presence as much as I am eager to see Andy Serkis evolve the character of Caesar even further.

I've written before about how much I hate those "teasers for the teasers." Just give me the full two minutes. Universal did it late last week with THE MUMMY, and they're at it again with the first reveal of the next FAST & FURIOUS movie.

FAST 8 is officially titled THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS, and the full trailer will be available online sometime this coming Sunday. This is just another absurd superhero franchise anymore, but I've had a blast with the past few entries. I enjoyed some of the "behind-the-scenes" clips that the cast posted on Instagram during filming. Based on those alone, I'm excited to see what's in store for us next April.

In other news, /Film shared an insider report saying that James Franco has a role in the upcoming ALIEN: COVENANT. The report is a bit spoilery, so I'll leave you to explore further if you wish.

Warner Brothers officially announced the Blu-ray release of Ben Affleck's recent thriller THE ACCOUNTANT. It streets on January 10th.

I enjoyed this movie as much as anybody, but the superlatives they picked are just absurd. How can an acting performance be "action-packed?" That's literally impossible. The story has to be "action-packed." Stupid. Maybe I'm just irritated that Warner didn't contact The Reel for my superlative. A kid can dream.

I watched GANGSTER SQUAD this afternoon. I think it's massively underrated and that it features Sean Penn's best performance in over a decade. I'm sure I'm the only one on the planet who thinks so, but that's fine. I actually saw GANGSTER SQUAD for the first time in the theater as a double bill with ZERO DARK THIRTY. Guess which one I had more fun with?

I reviewed LA LA LAND today, so be sure to check that out!

Lastly, I've got plans to go see Tom Ford's Nocturnal Animals tonight which has been drawing lots of critical acclaim. I also reserved HELL OR HIGH WATER and MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES at Redbox. That reminds me, I need to go pick them up!

Until tomorrow,


"La La Land" Review

You often hear people criticize films by saying "They don't make 'em like they used to." Well, I think Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) just filled that void.

La La Land is a musical-comedy-romance-drama about coming to terms with your dreams. It shares DNA with many of the classic Hollywood musicals, specifically Singin' In the Rain and Meet Me In St. Louis. Anyone who has ever been in love, aspired to something great, or felt the pain of defeat should experience a deep connection to this film.

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone play aspiring artists; he, a jazz musician named Sebastian who dreams of opening his own club and she, an actress named Mia who dreams of hitting it big. They are drawn to each other by their passion for their respective endeavors. As success begins to mount for them both, ensuing circumstances threaten to tear Seb and Mia apart.

One of the best things about La La Land is that it has its feet planted firmly in nostalgia while also delivering something that feels fresh. By its very nature, La La Land isn't as white-knuckle engaging as Chazelle's prior effort, Whiplash. I think Whiplash is the superior film, but that doesn't mean that La La Land isn't something special. From the opening musical number - "Another Day of Sun," in which commuting Angelinos relieve their road rage by dancing and singing all over a gridlocked freeway - you can tell this movie is going to be something special. The story doesn't boil down to an easy, familiar resolution either. I won't spoil anything, but if you come out of this movie feeling depressed, you need to go back to the box office, buy a ticket to the very next show, and watch the whole thing again. You missed the point.

Stone and Gosling deliver performances that all but secure Oscar nominations, if not wins. They're no Astaire and Rogers; "A Lovely Night" feels like two average people took one dance class and decided to go shoot a big tap-dance number. Having said that, Gosling and Stone's chemistry is as close as Hollywood currently has to those classic duos of yesteryear.

The production design by David Wasco is also quite wonderful. With so many iPhones and Toyota Priuses used by characters throughout the production, (there's a great gag at the valet kiosk when Seb and Mia leave a party in the Hollywood Hills) it's clear that the story takes place in the present day. However the sets and costumes maintain that vintage "Hollywood" feel at the heart of Chazelle's story.

Lastly, I have to mention the incredible original soundtrack by Justin Hurwitz. The marquee tracks "City of Stars" and "Audition" are likely to go neck-and-neck for all the Best Original Song awards this year. "Another Day of Sun" and "Someone In the Crowd" are peppy, toe-tapping ensemble numbers while "A Lovely Night" is reminiscent of classic Broadway duets. "My Time of Day" from Guys & Dolls immediately comes to mind.

You'll have done yourself a disservice if you miss out on La La Land this year. I'm not certain that it's the best film of 2016, but it's up there and is all but assured multiple Oscar wins - including Best Picture.


Thursday, December 8, 2016

My Day with Film (Thursday, 12/8/16)

Thursday, 12/8/16

Dear Diary,

I got through THE REVENANT late last night. It was my first time re-watching it since seeing it in the theater. I feel like if I ever want to watch that movie again, I need to rent out a movie theater. My 32-inch Vizio doesn't cut it. The visual experience of that film is just too good for an average home display.

I feel like there's been nothing to report on but movie trailers in the past two weeks. Today we've got full looks at the BAYWATCH reboot and THE WALL, a war thriller from Doug Liman (THE BOURNE IDENTITY) starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson and John Cena.

If you ask me, BAYWATCH looks like a trainwreck in the making. I understand the commercial appeal of Dwayne Johnson and the cast of insanely attractive people, but, my God, Zac Efron is comedic cancer. He singlehandedly ruins this trailer for me. The script also sounds abysmal from the sound bites included here. As a fan of Alexandra Daddario's (*ahem*) body of work and the likely scene-stealing turn by comedian Jon Bass, I'll probably see this anyway. Expectations couldn't be lower though.

THE WALL could be solid. Liman is a director with marvelous control of action and suspense, which look to be delivered in spades here. If you think this seems like an interesting premise, go watch Mickey Keating's CARNAGE PARK on Netflix. Imagine the concept of THE WALL crossed with THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, and you'll have a modest idea of what to expect.

In other news, Bloomberg reports that Fox, Universal, and Warner Brothers have entered into negotiations with Apple to offer first-run theatrical releases to iTunes & AppleTV users at a premium price point. It was really only a matter of time before something like this happened. The theatrical release window is only going to shrink with the rise of digital platforms. This move really only benefits families who would pay around $100 for a night out at the movie theater. I, for one, would not pay to watch JUSTICE LEAGUE at home for $50 on release day. Now if the studios agreed to release films on AppleTV a week or two before their theatrical run, that might be a different story. Only time will tell.

Paramount announced today that the next film in the CLOVERFIELD universe has been moved from March to October of next year. It's rumored that the film will be titled "GOD PARTICLE," about a team of astronauts who are forced to reckon with a shocking discovery. Sounds like an ALIEN reboot to me. J.J. Abrams would do that to us too. It sounds awesome though, especially with the cast of David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Elizabeth Debicki, Daniel Bruhl, Chris O'Dowd, John Ortiz and Ziyi Zhang. 

Kodak also launched a new website and mobile app today called "Reel Film." It shows you locations where you can watch movies projected from actual film, as well as where you can see movies that were shot on film stock. I'd have to go to Columbus in order to see IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE on 35mm, but still, that's pretty rad. Check it out for yourself.

I got an email yesterday updating me on the status of an Indiegogo campaign I contributed to for this new '80s-style horror film called THE BARN. I've been following this thing closely for about a year and a half, and I contributed enough money to the campaign in order to receive a DVD. Allegedly, the DVDs had some printing and formatting issues which is why they're now over a month late on delivery. I've heard great things about the movie, and I cannot wait to see it! I'm disappointed it wasn't in my hands in time for Halloween this year, but I'd much rather have a quality product at the end of the day. Tom Holland's Terror Time got an inside scoop on what exactly this DVD will look like, and I couldn't be more stoked. 

Indiegogo contributors get first dibs and then the remaining stock will go on sale to the general public. Visit for all the goods!

Speaking of DVDs, I went to Best Buy today looking for Seth Rogen's Christmas movie THE NIGHT BEFORE. I found it and then some. 

I've never seen MUNICH, but I've heard that it's arguably Steven Spielberg's best film. MIDNIGHT SPECIAL was an interesting sci-fi thriller from earlier this spring that I've been eager to revisit. CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON just got a 4K remaster for its 15th anniversary and was re-released with a bunch of new bonus material. For the price, it was a wonderful pickup. 

I'm going to see FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM with my sister tonight. It will be my second time seeing it and her first. She's writing a report / review on it for extra credit for a mythology class. 

Okay, I think that about covers everything today. By the end of the night, though, who knows? It's a lifestyle. 

I'll leave you with this badass photo of Josh Brolin and Paul Thomas Anderson on the set of INHERENT VICE. (Courtesy of @TheFilmStage)

Until tomorrow, 


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

My Day with Film (Wednesday, 12/7/16)

Wednesday, 12/7/16

Dear Diary,

After midnight last night (technically today!) I watched Michael Dougherty's KRAMPUS. I'm convinced that it is a new holiday classic. At least it will be in my house. I love the mythology of its story, as well as Dougherty's creative vision and use of practical visual effects in order to realize that vision. Also, the film features one of the best opening credits scenes of all time. If CHRISTMAS VACATION and GREMLINS are near and dear to your heart, KRAMPUS is for you.

Later, when I woke up in the morning and scrolled through my social feeds, I found two new "teasers for the teasers." These are those 10-20 second clips of a movie trailer you usually see promoted in your Instagram or Twitter feed. In the past week, we've had "teasers for the teasers" for THE MUMMY, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 and TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT. Today, we got 'em for SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING and the BAYWATCH reboot. Full trailers for these anticipated blockbusters are coming tomorrow. Perhaps it's no surprise that SPIDER-MAN looks pretty awesome, and BAYWATCH looks like a trainwreck in the making. Decide for yourself.

I'm not sure where I stand on the whole "teaser for the teaser" thing. It's a neat ploy to build hype on social media, but at the same time, nothing beats seeing the full two and a half minutes in a movie theater for the first time. How cool was it when J.J. Abrams shocked us all in January with the trailer for 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE? You didn't see it on YouTube first; you had to go watch 13 HOURS in the theater on Thursday night. Call me old fashioned, but I think that's awesome.

Later in the afternoon, I had to swing by Target to pick up some working Christmas lights, but I found APOCALYPSE NOW on Blu-ray for $4. I nearly had a stroke when I saw that price. It has both the theatrical and "Redux" versions, as well as a separate disc full of bonus features. Both cuts of the film are on and off streaming services constantly, but APOCALYPSE NOW is one of those movies that demands consistency and quality in terms of home viewing. It deserves a place on your shelf no matter what. If you ask me, at $4, that's one of the finest deals you can get as a cinephile.

I saw that a remake of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS is in the works at Warner Brothers, and they've announced Greg Berlanti as director. Berlanti is known for his work as a producer and showrunner for DC's television universe consisting of ArrowThe Flash and Supergirl. Might be interesting.

Tonight I asked some friends when we'll be seeing OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY and ROGUE ONE. One of my buddies is out of town, so OCP may be out. We'll see.

I also saw Will Smith's new film COLLATERAL BEAUTY. Be on the lookout for my full review next week. I'm reviewing LA LA LAND very soon as well. Stay tuned to my Facebook and Twitter pages.

Lastly, I'm thinking THE REVENANT for tonight's at-home viewing.

Until tomorrow,


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

My Day with Film (Tuesday, 12/6/16)

Tuesday, 12/6/16

Dear Diary,

As I expected, the first trailer for the next TRANSFORMERS movie was released within the last 24 hours. I'd be lying to myself, and to you, if I said this trailer didn't surprise me at least a little bit. There are some striking images, and I dig Anthony Hopkins' voiceover. How on Earth they hoodwinked Hopkins into doing TRANSFORMERS, we may never know. THE LAST KNIGHT doesn't look like a good film by any stretch, but it may mark an improvement from the last handful of nigh-unwatchable sequels. A kid can dream. Here's hoping Michael Bay somehow turns this ship around before leaving it in another director's hands.

I also came across another movie trailer on Twitter today for a film called THE CIRCLE. It apparently stars Tom Hanks, Emma Watson and John Boyega.

So it looks like Hanks plays some sort of a Steve Jobs-type, and Watson and Boyega are a couple of employees who stumble onto something they shouldn't have with one of the company's new gadgets. Sounds like it might be fun, but it could also turn out to feel like an average episode of BLACK MIRROR. With James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now) handling the script and direction, and with that cast, prospects seem bright.

In personal news, I was feeling under the weather most of today. While resting up, I finished the season finale of HBO's WESTWORLD which blew my mind a little bit. I feel like I need to rewatch that series about a half dozen times to catch things I missed. This gives me anxiety because there is just too much great content I need to get through and not enough hours in the day. I've been trying to get through a stack of movies on my shelf which consists of KRAMPUS, THE REVENANT, OCTOBER SKY, SPACE JAM, THE THIN RED LINE, THE GAME, and BOYHOOD among others. Since writing yesterday, I also watched GREMLINS all the way through for the first time on Amazon Prime. So that's one more streaming movie I can cross off my ever-expanding list.

Also I read the news today that the U.S.'s bid to extradite Roman Polanski was denied by Poland's Supreme Court. Authorities in the States have been trying to get this bid through for decades. In the late 1970s, Polanski allegedly made inappropriate contact with a 13-year old during a photoshoot in L.A. and has eluded American justice ever since. The rejection of the extradition bid means that Polanski is now free to work and live in Poland as he pleases. With this second chance, let's hope he keeps his nose clean.

David Ehrlich of IndieWire published a list of his 25 favorite films of this year, including the most memorable moments from each. I think it's neat that Ehrlich chose a favorite scene from each one, explaining how the films left their impressions on him personally. This is a far more engaging piece than your standard "end-of-year" Top 10 list. I may try to do something similar once I get around to seeing the rest of the awards contenders.

Lastly, my friend Tyler Keeton has a really cool horror blog called "Dripping Red Cinephile." He just interviewed Gian Keys, who plays Detective Griff Meadows in THE LOVE WITCH. Their discussion is worth your time, and so is this movie!

Until tomorrow,


Monday, December 5, 2016

My Day with Film (Monday, 12/5/16)

Monday, 12/5/16

Dear Diary,

I'm thrilled that the rest of "Film Twitter" seemed to watch the same trailer for THE MUMMY reboot as I did. This looks like an absolute dumpster fire of a film. Universal may want to rethink this whole "shared universe" for Monsters thing. I enjoy being a small part of this business, but I just wish studios could learn to leave well enough alone.

If this new MUMMY trailer under your radar, believe me, you aren't missing much, but if you're interested, here it is below:

To make matters worse, there's supposedly a trailer for TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT coming this week. Outspoken thoughts in the days ahead I'm sure.

There is one diamond in the cinematic rough today though. The 7-minute prologue to Christopher Nolan's DUNKIRK feature will allegedly play before 70MM IMAX screenings of ROGUE ONE later this month. Peter Sciretta over at /Film reported this from multiple sources but has yet to confirm with IMAX or Warner Brothers if the prologue will be on all standard digital screenings as well. If not, only 15 theaters in the world will be showing the DUNKIRK footage.

Lastly, it was revealed today that ABC's Jimmy Kimmel will be the Oscars host in February. I'm still rooting for Louis C.K. someday:

Until tomorrow,