The Star Wars universe continues with the December 16 release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and the picture is in good hands with Gareth Edwards (Godzilla, Monsters) at the helm.
That being said, telling the story of a brave group of heroes attempting to take down the Death Star (the film’s a Star Wars: A New Hope prequel) is a pretty daring concept. After all, we know the Death Star and Darth Vader live on to see another day, so would seeing a presumably failed mission be worth the price of admission?
The oft-used phrase “the journey is the destination” should be applied to Rogue One, as seeing this motley crew (including Donnie Yen and Diego Luna) led by soldier Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) fight the “forces” of darkness should be more than enough.
Check out the new trailer, which features a wonderful Darth Vader reveal, to Rogue One below and tell us what you think!
Now out on Blu-ray and DVD, A Hologram for the King stars Tom Hanks and is based on The New York Times best-selling novel by Dave Eggers. Hanks reunites with Cloud Atlas co-director Tom Tykwer for the film, and their collaboration is once again a creative success (unfortunately the film made just $4.1 million at the box office).
Alan Clay (Hanks) is a divorced businessman who is sent to Saudi Arabia to sell a hologram program to the king. Clay is initially a fish out of water in his surroundings but eventually finds his bearings with the help of his gregarious driver Yusef (a scene-stealing Adam Black) and a doctor (Sarita Choudhury) who immediately catches his eye. Ben Whishaw (Spectre) and Tom Skerritt also star in the feature, which was also penned by Tykwer.
Anchored by a nuanced performance from Hanks and solid storytelling from Tykwer, A Hologram for the King is an engaging comedy-drama about a middle-aged man’s attempts to find his place in the world amidst a mountain of stress (if he doesn’t land this hologram account, he can kiss his job goodbye). Unfortunately, adult driven stories, in the land of comic book franchises and animation flicks, often ignored by moviegoers until they hit the digital or the Blu-ray market, and hopefully A Hologram for the King will find its audience.
Special features on the Blu-ray include:
1. The Making of A Hologram for the King (19:57) - The featurette includes snippets from different interviews, including a discussion with Dave Eggers and Tom Tykwer, as well as solo interviews with Tom Hanks, Tom Skerritt (he plays Alan’s father), and Arabic advisor/dialect coach Jassim Alsaady.
2. From Novel To Screen: The Adaptation of A Hologram for the King (11:54) - This featurette has the full interview with Eggers and Tykwer. It’s an interesting conversation, as Tykwer’s appreciation and love for Eggers’ work is highly evident (he spent several years attempting to adapt Eggers’ novel What is the What).
3. Perfecting The Culture (10:14) - This segment focuses on Jassim Alsaady’s dialect work with Sarita Choudhury. Also included is an interview with Tom Tykwer and production designer Uli Hanisch, and they discuss the challenges of having Morocco double as Saudi Arabia.
4. Trailers - The Miss You Already, Society Cafe, and Love & Mercy trailers are also featured.
Hell or High Water is a neo-Western is as gritty and dusty as the day is long, and thanks to inspired performances from its four co-stars and a first rate script from Sicario scribe Taylor Sheridan, this flick should be feted come Oscar nominations time.
Toby (Chris Pine) is a father who’s about to have his West Texas family farm taken over by the banks. Determined to leave something for his children (Marin Ireland is Toby’s soon to be ex-wife), he and his volatile, ex-convict brother Tanner (Ben Foster) embark on a bank robbing spree to raise enough funds to save their land.
Jeff Bridges is Marcus, a Texas Ranger on the brink of retirement who loves bantering back and forth with his deputy Alberto (Gil Birmingham). Although Alberto simply wants to head back to their office instead of spending several days tracking down the siblings, Marcus is a bloodhound when it comes to tracking down criminals, and it’s safe to say that his instincts are usually on target.
Directed by David Mackenzie (Starred Up), the picture may initially remind viewers of the Coen Brothers’ Oscar winning effort No Country for Old Men, but although this movie traverses Cormac McCarthy country, it has a much more humorous and playful tone. Bringing levity to the proceedings effectively balances out the movie’s darker moments, and although tragedy is a huge undercurrent behind Hell or High Water, it swims in much more ambiguous waters.
The bank heist scenes are shot and edited with precision, and on a pure adrenaline level they’re simply fun and nerve wracking to watch. Hell or High Water’s calling card, however, are the intimate moments shared between the brothers and the Rangers, and by the end of the film you’ll be able to find sympathy for each of these men.
While the aforementioned actors all do excellent work in the feature, it’s Bridges’ disarmingly charismatic performance as Marcus which should land him an Oscar nod. Marcus is a lawman through and through, and although he comes off as a bit of a bumbling dude (sorry, had to throw in a Big Lebowski reference!) during his investigation, it’s all misdirection. Marcus is always at least a couple of steps ahead of the game, but he may have met his match with Toby, a desperate father who doesn’t mind pulling his sibling back into a life of crime for his family’s benefit. Tanner is the wild card in the deck, and his hunger for self-survival leads him down an inevitably bloody path.
All these different roads will eventually converge come, for lack of a better phrase, “hell or high water.” Thanks to great storytelling and a solid ensemble cast at the peak of their craft, Hell or High Water is one of this year’s finest films, a West Texas tale that leaves an indelible mark on cinema’s dusty and seemingly deserted highways.
Hell or High Water opens in select theaters Friday, August 12.
During his career, musician/singer Harry Connick Jr. has worked on Broadway (The Pajama Game), headlined his share of movies (Hope Floats, Dolphin Tale), and judged with a refreshingly candid manner on American Idol.
Now he’s bringing a bit of the late night variety show flavor to daytime with the upcoming program Harry. One facet Connick Jr. will bring to the proceedings is his unwavering work ethic, a trait he learned thanks to his lifelong dedication and passion for jazz.
“It’s the same philosophy to everything,” said Connick Jr. “Life if George Clooney was guest on the show, I would have to know everything there is to know under the sun about that man and why was on my show. But you would never know any of that. He would feel that the entire world was revolving around George Clooney for those six, twelve or those eighteen minutes because of the preparation that has been done.”
Click on the media bar to hear Harry Connick Jr. talk about what he’s most excited for with Harry.
Harry premieres September 12 on FOX stations.
Dwayne Johnson is setting sail for a grand adventure, but this time it’s not a big budget action flick or a comedy. The animation world is calling, as Moana centers on an adventurous teen (voiced by Auli’i Cravalho) who ventures across the Pacific on a mission to save her people. A mighty demigod named Maui (Johnson) who aids Moana on her quest to become a master wayfinder.
From the one-minute TV spot that’s currently airing through the Olympics, we know that Maui is a heavily tattooed shape-shifter who, knowing Johnson’s wit, will be filled with memorable one-liners (”It’s Maui time” is already pretty catchy).
The CG-animated project features music from Lin-Manuel Miranda along with the voices of Nicole Scherzinger, Jemaine Clement, and Alan Tudyk. The film was co-directed by filmmaking team Ron Clements and John Musker (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Princess & The Frog) and it hits theaters November 23, 2016.
Check out the TV spot below and tell us what you think!!!
Suicide Squad received absolutely horrible reviews, but the film proved that critics really don’t matter as its $135.1 million debut set the record for best August launch ever. The previous record was for Guardians of the Galaxy, which took in $94.3 million, and Suicide Squad easily bested that mark. Unfortunately, Jennifer Garner and Kevin Spacey’s new family film Nine Lives was dead on arrival, as it took in just $6.5 million for a disappointing sixth place finish. Here’s this weekend’s top 10:
1. Suicide Squad - Proved naysayers wrong with $131.1 million
2. Jason Bourne - $22.7 million
3. Bad Moms - $14.2 million
4. The Secret Life of Pets - $11.5 million
5. Star Trek Beyond - $10.2 million this weekend and so far it’s made $194 million worldwide
6. Nine Lives - $6.5 million
7. Lights Out- $6 million and its worldwide gross of $85 million with just a $4.9 million budget makes it one of this year’s biggest sleepers. A sequel is already set in place.
8. Nerve - $4.9 million
9. Ghostbusters - $4.8 million
10. Ice Age: Collision Course - $4.3 million
Now out on DVD, Guernica (R, 110 minutes, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) centers on Henry (James Darcy), a cynical American journalist living in l930 Spain. Covering the Spanish Civil War has taken a toll on his spirit, and now he’s more than happy to fabricate a story even if it ensures his own safety. Even a brave photographer’s (Ingrid Garcia Jonsson) bravery in the front lines doesn’t move him to action, that is until he comes across Teresa, a high ranking official of the government’s census office.
Although Teresa’s job of restricting what type of press makes it out of Spain conflicts with Henry’s day to day job, the pair form an immediate bond. Romance, however, is hard to flourish in the midst of war, especially with the impending bombing of Guernica. Jack Davenport (Kingsman: The Secret Service) co-stars as Teresa’s boss Henry, an official who has his own reasons for siding with the German army.
Spanish filmmaker Koldo Serra (The Backwoods) and cinematographer Unax Mendia make a solid team, and there are moments, whether it’s during wartime or featuring the budding love between Teresa and Henry, that are beautifully shot.
The picture features also features a first rate performance from María Valverde (Exodus: Gods and Kings) , who brings her unwavering character to full light. Although the movie does have a few moments of heavy handedness and predictability, the solid production values, Valverde’s work, and the skillful direction of Serra makes Guernica a more than worthy viewing experience.
The DVD also comes with over eight minutes of deleted scenes, and although just once scene feature Valverde, the rest of the sequences give further depth into Henry’s relationship with the aforementioned photographer and a fellow journalist (Alex García).
Charles Mingus’ seminal composition “Scenes in the City” is the perfect marriage of music and the spoken word, as actor Mel Stewart plays a New York City denizen with undying love for jazz. Though mired in financial difficulties and universal problems that may never go away, his spirits are lifted once Miles Davis or Charlie Parker start to play.
The harmonies of New York City, whether blended or discordant, are interwoven in director/writer Ira Sachs’ Little Men, a beautifully rendered and subtly sublime work that, even in its more quiet moments, packs a devastating punch. Sometimes life’s most heartbreaking and tragic moments aren’t played out in operatic fashion, and the people behind this deceptively ambitious story understand that, even if there are simply things that are beyond their reach, life must go on.
Jake (Theo Taplitz) is an introspective 13-year-old who’s a budding artist. Though he’s not too thrilled with his family’s (Jennifer Ehle and Greg Kinnear are his parents) move from Manhattan to Brooklyn after his grandfather’s passing, Jake’s newfound friendship with Tony (Michael Barbieri) dramatically eases the transition. When a rent dispute between his parents and Tony’s dressmaker mother (Gloria’s Paulina Garcia) turns ugly, their friendship is put to the test and a once blissful summer turns bittersweet.
The wonder behind Ira Sachs’ work (his 2014 drama Love is Strange is just as effective) lies in his naturalistic approach to storytelling, and in just 85 minutes we get a concise look at the heartaches and joy that exist within both families. Taplitz and Barbieri deliver first rate performances, and hopefully this film will usher in even more work for the two (both are magnetic in their own fashion). Along with the perfect casting choices of the two leads, Sachs also scored by landing a trio of talented actors with Garcia, Ehle, and Kinnear. With such a power packed ensemble, he could have turned Little Men into a showy, monologue driven, melodramatic affair, and though that version would also have its merits, Sachs’ decision to keep the volume down enables viewers to fully appreciate the story’s intricate details.
By the film’s close we are invited to briefly interpret the world through Jake’s eyes. Whether it’s a painting housed in a museum or even kids at play at the local park, the scenes of the city continue to evolve before us. Whether or not we accept that fact is neither here nor there, but thankfully those notes are in full view with Little Men.
***Little Men is now playing in select theaters. For a further discussion of Little Men, check out this week’s episode of CinemAddicts.
Kiefer Sutherland returns to television with Designated Survivor as Tom Kirkman, a man who is thrust into the high pressure job of President after an attack wipes out the Commander-in-Chief and his cabinet. In another lifetime Sutherland would have saved the day and kicked in heads as Jack Bauer (24), but this time he’s the one being protected from danger.
During today’s ABC Summer Press Tour, Sutherland jokingly remarked that playing a less physically imposing Tom Kirkman (at least compared to Jack Bauer) made him miss his 24 days of pushing people around, and he cracks that he felt a bit “short” during Designated Survivor’s action scenes!
Click on the media bar to hear Sutherland talk about playing Tom Kirkman as opposed to Jack Bauer in Designated Survivor.
Designated Survivor, co-starring Natascha McElhone and Kal Penn, premieres on ABC Wednesday, September 21.
Producer/writer Michael Schur (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Parks and Recreation) creative hot streak will hopefully continue with The Good Place, a story that centers on a woman named Eleanor who, after she dies, enters the “good place.” Ted Danson is Michael, an architect of the aforementioned world who may have made a mistake as Eleanor might actually belong in the “bad place.”
That being said, don’t expect any horns to come out of our protagonist’s head anytime soon. “Eleanor is not malicious,” said Bell, who can also be seen in the hit comedy Bad Moms with Mila Kunis. “She’s not evil. She has simply led a life on Earth where she was forced to take care of herself. She was in survival mode her whole life.”
Click on the media bar below to hear Ted Danson elaborate on his character and playing the humor behind The Good Place.
A special preview of The Good Place, which co-stars William Jackson Harper as her heavenly companion (sorry for the pun!), airs Monday, September 19 on NBC.