Finding your way in this world is tricky business, and in Burn Country we witness that journey in the form of Osman (Dominic Rains), a translator/fixer from Afghanistan. Osman has moved to Northern California to escape the violence of his environment, and his journalist colleague Gabe’s (James Oliver Wheatley) has offered him a place to stay in a remote town in Northern California.
Gloria (an always engaged Melissa Leo) is Gabe’s mother Gloria, a sheriff’s deputy who welcomes Osman with open arms. But there is a reason the phrase a “stranger in a strange land” often rings true, as Osman realizes that things are not exactly what they seem in his new neighborhood.
Believing he was promised a reporting job at the local paper, Osman is instead relegated to a $50 a week gig as a police blotter writer. Though initially scoffing at this low paying job, Osman sees this as a way to better know the community. Whether it’s befrending members of a theater troupe (Rachael Brosnahan is Sandra, an unfettered actress who catches his eye) or attempting to aid an unhinged local named Lindsay (James Franco in the story’s showiest role), Osman is fully engaged into uncovering the town’s secrets.
Though a dead body is discovered on the side of a backwoods road and a dangerous chase through relatively unseen country are all part of the narrative, Burn Country’s focus is on Osman’s interior life. Whenever a death occurs, Osman believes a hole opens up in the Earth that is hard to fill or maybe even comprehend. Many face such a life changing event by looking the other way and moving on, but our protagonist chooses the road less traveled.
Director Ian Olds and cinematographer Adam Newport-Berra bring a fluid, arresting visual style to the proceedings, and the picture is often a sight to behold during some of Oswald’s more sublime discoveries (most notably his nascent love for the ocean). The story, co-written by Olds, is partly inspired by his 2009 documentary Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi, and the director’s knowledge of journalist/fixer relationships is subtly rendered to supreme effect with Burn Country.
During Osman’s quixotic mission to uncover the truth, he encounters his share of often heartbreaking setbacks. But Osman has seen tragedy unfold many times before, and it’s that world weariness, inextricably coupled with a profound hope for some comfort, which makes him a living, breathing character. A huge amount of credit goes to the innately charismatic Rains, who brings an introspective depth to the role.
Under different hands, Burn Country could have succeeded as a backwoods, film noir-ish thriller that was littered with scenery chewing performances and viscerally charged moments. Though this film lightly traverses such territory, Olds creates a narrative that continues to simmer long after the credits roll. Some viewers may crave a more operatic climax to Osman’s refreshingly labyrinthine tale, but sometimes life’s third act is played in half measures. There is a ton of mystery that simply can’t be solved or wounds that can’t be healed in this life, and watching Osman valiantly struggle through that process turns Burn Country into a sublime cinematic experience.
Burn Country is now playing in theaters and is available On Demand.
Captain America: Civil War was Grade A entertainment that featured a bevy of action sequences and superhero battles. Amidst all that madness, Tom Holland was the movie’s scene stealer, as audience members were understandably excited over the next Spider-Man installment.
Thank goodness Spider-Man: Homecoming is not a reboot, as we witness Peter Parker (Holland) taking on the Vulture (Batman star Michael Keaton. Produced by Amy Pascal and Kevin Feige, the movie has our attention thanks to the producers’ decision to think outside the box. One of the film’s creative gambles was hiring relative newbie Jon Watts, who helmed the refreshingly unpredictable Cop Car, to direct this high profile feature. With Holland’s star on the rise and the skilled storytelling of Watts, Spider-Man: Homecoming should knock it out of the park.
The trailer is also fantastic, as Parker’s trademark humor is on display. Plus, watching Keaton deliver some kick ass lines (Don’t mess with me because I’ll kill you and everybody you love”) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) crime fighting with our friendly neighborhood webslinger are also some of the clip’s highlights. Check out the trailer below and tell us what you think!
Spider Man: Homecoming opens nationwide July 7, 2017.
AFI have revealed their Best Of 2016 list for film. Making the list were Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, La La Land, Manchester By the Sea, Moonlight, Silence, Sully and Zootopia.
He’s shown a knack for a being a lovable bad guy in Justified, The Hateful Eight and Vice Principles. And it’s quite possible he’ll dig into his inner bad guy again, as Variety reports that Walton Goggins is in final negotiations to star as the “big bad” in the upcoming reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise. The film is set to star Alicia Vickander as Lara Croft and is on schedule for a March 16, 2018 release.
Speaking of reboots, Variety reports that an updated version of Little Shop of Horrors is in the works. Greg Berlanti (The Flash, Supergirl, Arrow) is set to direct the film with Matthew Robinson penning the script.
For years, the beach bodies of Baywatch heated up our TV screens. But what will the film adaptation give us? Get a closer look at the new trailer for the Baywatch movie, starring Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Priyanka Chopra and Ilfenesh Hadera. Watch the trailer below.
A new trailer has arrived for A United Kingdom, the story of the interracial marriage between Botswana royal family member and independence leader Serete Khama (David Oyelowo) and his wife Ruth Williams Khama (Rosamund Pike). The couple’s relationship faced hateful racial scrutiny and weathered the African Independence Movement. Watch the trailer below.
Joining a major and beloved movie franchise that has been around for almost four decades can’t be easy. For Academy Award nominated actress Felicity Jones that may have been the case when she accepted the lead heroine role in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
The pressure and anticipation of joining Star Wars has to be scary. Felicity Jones told us at first she was nervous joining the biggest film franchise in the history of movies, but that all went away when she attended the Star Wars Celebration that took place earlier this year in London. The actress was witness to the universal love for Star Wars, and that feeling brought her an inordinate amount of joy.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in theaters December 16
AFI have revealed their AFI Awards for television, choosing The Americans, Atlanta, Better Call Saul, The Crown, Game of Thrones, The Night Of, People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, Stranger Things, This Is Us and Veep, while also singling out the O.J.: Made in America ESPN series for a special award.
We hope you’ve got your TV schedule in pencil as NBC is doing some maneuvering for mid-season. After This Is Us wraps its freshman season in late February, the freshman comedy Trial & Error will double up in its Tuesday 9PM time slot after a solo debut on March 7. Then, on April 25, Great News will follow the same strategy. Beginning Feb. 2, the Vanessa Hudgens-Danny Pudi series will take over The Good Place’s time slot on Thursdays, while The Blacklist: Redemption spin-off will take over for the original on Feb. 23. And on Sundays, Little Big Shots will return for Season 2 on March 5, where it will be followed by Chicago Justice and Season 2 of Shades of Blue.
With Hairspray Live! just airing this week, it looks as though NBC will be bringing Bye Bye Birdie Live to the small screen in the future. The production will reportedly star Jennifer Lopez, who tweeted a video teasing the musical. Lopez will play the role of Rosie Alvarez in the production, taking on the role made famous by Chita Rivera. Look for the television adaptation in December 2017.
The View has undergone numerous changes over the years and now comes word that Candace Cameron Bure will be exiting the daytime talker. Deadline reports the actress admitted that it was a tough decision, but the bi-coastal commute became too much, especially when added to her commitments to Fuller House and to the Hallmark Channel.
CBS News is keeping one of their own around for quite some time. Deadline reports that Gayle King has reached a “long-term deal” with the eyemark network to continue on CBS This Morning. The morning show has seen an uptick in ratings with their best audience deliver since 1993.
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Abattoir is refreshingly had to define, as director Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw IV) blends film noir, horror,and supernatural thriller elements into his latest film. Jessica Lowndes headlines the narrative as Julia Talben, a reporter whose fashion style is more in line with Joan Crawford and Lana Turner than Kim Kardashian. Though a huge part of Julia is stuck in the past, she must confront a modern day tragedy regarding the murder of her sister and family.
Julia teams up with her former lover Declan, a police officer who helps her investigate the mysterious and bloody plans Jebediah Crone (Dayton Callie), a town demagogue whose life is filled with ghosts and memories.
Most of the film consisted of night shoots in New Orleans. Coupled with mastering the script’s rapid fire dialogue and successfully giving depth to Julia’s emotional state was a gratifying experience for Lowndes. “It was super challenging and different from anything I’ve done before,” said Lowndes who burst onto the scene early in her career as a 90210 cast member. “It was tough finding that balance between that 1940s style and still having the depth and showing emotion as well. It’s definitely an emotional role.”
Working with such veterans as Callie (Sons of Anarchy) and Lin Shaye (Insidious) was also another highlight in making Abattoir. “I geeked out,” said Lowndes. “I’ve been a huge fan of Dayton’s back to when he was on Deadwood. I just think he’s incredible. We actually became really good friends. I wanted to soak in as much as I could in every scene and learn as much as I could from him. You grow as an actress by working with these seasoned veterans. The same with Lin Shaye. I was like ‘I can’t believe she’s standing across from me now.’ I had so much fun and I pushed through boundaries I didn’t even know I could push.”
Abattoir hits theaters, Digital HD, and VOD on December 9.
The year is winding down, which means some of the finer films are being released for awards contention. On this week’s CinemAddicts, the most high profile pick is Jackie, a 99-minute look at how Jackie Kennedy (Natalie Portman) processes the tragic death of her husband.
Although Portman should receive an Oscar nomination for the showy and ultimately nuanced role, the film simply is too self conscious for its own good. Though the production design and the ensemble (Billy Crudup, Peter Sarsgaard) are all high points in the movie, the film’s stylized flair simply doesn’t resonate during the movie’s final moments.
Also covered on this week’s podcast is The Salesman, the latest film from director Asghar Farhadi, which opens in limited release December 9th for awards consideration (it opens nationwide January 27th), and the documentary Harry Benson: Shoot First. Thanks to a gripping story and excellent performances, The Salesman is one of my favorite films of the year.
Anderson Cowan’s streaming pick is We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists and my Blu-ray recommendation is the Marlon Brando Western One-Eyed Jacks. Click on the media bar to hear this week’s episode of CinemAddicts.
Will you be checking out Natalie Portman in Jackie? Will she win an Oscar for her performance? Feel free to comment below!
Damian Lewis, most recently seen as a hedge fund golden boy in Showtime’s Billions, is in final negotiations to join the cast of Ocean’s Eight. According to Variety, Lewis will play Sandra Bullock’s ex-lover and the target of heist. The film also stars Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaline, Sarah Paulson and Awkwafina. Gary Ross is directing the film, which is slotted for a June 8 premiere.
Jennifer Lawrence is getting some company in the new film Red Sparrow. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Matthias Schoenaerts and Jeremy Irons have signed on to the adaptation of the Jason Matthews espionage novel. The film centers on a Russian intelligence officer (Lawrence), who is ordered against her will to become a “sparrow,” a trained seductress, and to operate against a young CIA agent in charge of the agency’s Russian mole. Joel Edgerton also stars in the film.
Will Arnett has signed on to star in Show Dogs, a live-action family comedy directed by Raja Gosnell. According to Deadline, Arnett will star as an FBI agent teamed with a canine counterpart (voiced by Ludacris) as they investigate the kidnapping of a baby panda. Other cast members include Natasha Lyonne and the voices of Stanley Tucci, Alan Cumming, Gabriel Iglesias and Shaquille O’Neal.
Will Ferrell has signed on to star in a currently untitled comedy about an eSports competitor. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Ferrell stars as a middle-aged gamer with exceptional hand-eye coordination who struggles to fit in with his younger teammates.
Homeland will be getting a Medium … check that, a former star of Medium, for their upcoming sixth season. According to EW, Jake Weber will join the Showtime series as Brett O’Keefe, an alt-right media personality, who is described as combative yet charismatic.
ABC is moving its struggling freshman series Conviction to Sunday nights. Beginning Jan. 1, the legal drama will take over the 10PM time slot that is being vacated by Quantico’s move to Mondays at 10PM. The latter series debuts in the Monday time slot beginning Jan. 23.
Don’t worry Broad City fans! Comedy Central has revealed that Abbi and Ilana will return for Season 4 this summer, with show tentatively slated to return in August. The network has already renewed the series through Season 5.
CBS has been filling the cast for The Good Fight, and now they’ve revealed the series broadcast debut will occur on Sunday, Feb. 19 at 8PM ET/PT. The Good Wife spinoff will simultaneously premiere via CBS All Access, with all shows beyond the premiere eventually airing on the online platform.
EW reports that Disney is reviving DuckTales for a summer 2017 return. The series initially premiered bac in 1987, and like the original, the new series will follow the adventures of Scrooge McDuck, Donald and Huey, Dewey and Louie.
Will Smith gives a gut wrenching performance in Collateral Beauty, a movie directed by The Devil Wears Prada filmmaker David Frankel. Smith plays a successful New York advertising exec who is seeking answers to the universe by writing letters to Love, Time, and Death. Although that activity seems as plausible as penning missives to Santa, the notes come back with personal responses, thus changing his very existence.
The role is polar opposite from his last film in Suicide Squad. Smith gave everything he had to his film which appealed to him tremendously because of the narrative’s emotional gravitas.
Collateral Beauty co-starring Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley, Edward
Norton and Kate Winslet opens in theaters December 16.