Thanks To Michael Jackson, ‘Bad’ Was Very Good For Wesley Snipes

Wesley Snipes was a young actor with just a few small credits to his name when he earned a part in Michael Jackson’s music video for Bad, an 18-minute epic directed by none other than Martin Scorsese. It was a turning point in his life, and Snipes told us that watching Jackson’s work ethic completely changed the way he approached his career. (Click on the media bar below to hear Wesley Snipes)

 

Dolemite Is My Name is playing now in selected theaters, and it will start streaming on Netflix on October 25.

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Angelina Jolie Wanted ‘Maleficent’ Sequel To Be Worth The Wait

When Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning worked on the first Maleficent movie together, they knew that if the film did well, a sequel could be in their future. Jolie says they were fine with that idea, but only if it was the right story. It’s taken a little longer than they might have expected, but now — five years later — Jolie says she’s glad they held out for such a good script. (Click on the media bar below to hear Angelina Jolie)

 Maleficent: Mistress of Evil opens in theaters on Friday.

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Coming Of Age Tale ‘Blinded By The Light’ Hits Blu-ray In November

Blinded By The Light, a coming of age feature which is set to the music of Bruce Springsteen’s music, hits Blu-ray and DVD on November 19. The feature also hits Digital on October 22.

Based on Sarfraz Manzoor’s memoir Greetings from Bury Park: Race Religion and Rock N’ Roll, the feature centers on Javed (Viveik Kalra), a youth who is determined to follow his dreams. Pressures from his traditional dad (Kulvinder Ghir) as well as the racial and economic tensions of 1987 England has placed a burden on Javed’s shoulders, but ultimately he finds his share of grace and inspiration from newfound friends and the music of Springsteen. Bend It Like Beckham filmmaker Gurindher Chadha directed the feature which co-stars Meera Ganatra, Nell Williams, and Hayley Atwell.

Special features on the Blu-ray included two featurettes (“Memoir to Movie” and “The Most Crazy Thing”) and deleted scenes. The DVD version comes with the “Memoir to Movie” featurette.

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi

Screenwriter Sean Mullin Brings Authenticity To Brotherhood Of ‘Semper Fi’

Semper Fi centers on Callahan (Jai Courtney), a police officer who also is a leader amongst his friends in the Marine Corps Reserves. When his troubled younger brother Oyster (Nat Wolff) lands in jail, Callahan hatches a plan with his buddies (Finn Wittrock, Arturo Castro, Beau Knapp) to spring Oyster from jail.

The feature’s major strength lies in the innate bond among the actors, and this brotherhood (coupled with engaged acting from the ensemble) absolutely shines through.

Even with its “prison break” dynamic, Semper Fi’s realistic feel for military life comes from an organic place, as co-writer Sean Mullin was a Captain in the New York Army National Guard. Director and co-scribe Henry-Alex Rubin, though he helmed the acclaimed feature Disconnect, is best known as the documentarian behind Murderball.

“(Henry) was very adamant about co-writing this film with a screenwriter who had also had military experience,” said Mullin, who also directed the 2014 feature Amira & Sam. “We got put in touch, years ago actually back in 2005. So this has been a long, gestating project. We just kept revising it over the years and taking stabs at getting it made and it finally came to fruition. It was a great collaboration and we worked well together – hopefully that is apparent on screen.”

Click on the media bar to hear Mullin talk about how he was “blown away” by the cast of Semper Fi:

Semper Fi is now out in theaters and is available On Demand and Digital.

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi

El Camino’: Very Good, But Still Not ‘Bad’

The ghost of Walter White hangs heavy over El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie.

In the literal sense, it’s because – although six years have passed since the Breaking Bad finale – the action in El Camino picks up mere minutes after the climactic battle that left White among the ranks of the recently departed.

But White’s death also leaves the movie (for the most part) without Bryan Cranston, the force of nature whose award-winning performance escalated the show from a storm into a full-blown hurricane.

And though it’s Walter White who’s now a ghost, it’s Jesse Pinkman who wants to disappear. The film’s prologue is a newly shot flashback to better times, when Jesse and his old colleague Mike (White’s fixer) talk about what life will be like after White’s gone. When Mike warns Jesse that the one thing he can never do is “make things right,” we jump violently to the present, with Jesse desperately fleeing the scene of the finale’s carnage in a stolen El Camino.

The present-day Jesse is a badly broken man. Unkempt, unshaven, and seriously disheveled from his time spent captive in his tormentors’ cage, it’s tempting to say that he’s suffering a severe case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. But it can’t be PTSD, because his trauma hasn’t ended yet. He may have been freed from his cage, but all of his inner demons left with him in that El Camino.

The film relies on Aaron Paul’s ability to carry the story almost completely on his own as Jesse, and he does an admirable job. Between the flashbacks to more prosperous times and the manic intensity driving him to find his freedom, Paul does great work in presenting several different shades of the heroic anti-hero.

But again, the elephant in the room is Walter’s ghost. On Breaking Bad, the acting partnership of Cranston and Paul created amazing chemistry (literally and figuratively). And while there’s nothing wrong with the performance Paul gives in El Camino, you can’t help but feel something’s missing without Cranston there.

Ultimately, El Camino is a caper movie, with Jesse trying to find the funds that will finance his disappearance. As in the prologue, the movie flits between past and present to expose Jesse’s motivations and mindset, revealing little glimpses of his Breaking Bad life unseen on the series. It’s not just a dramatic device – it also gives the film a chance to bring back some characters whose lack of a pulse would otherwise keep them out of a movie shot wholly in the present. (That’s how we get a poignant, but too brief, cameo from Cranston.)

Written and directed by series creator Vince Gilligan, the film stays true to the show’s modus operandi of long, dramatic stretches of character introspection interspersed with heightened moments of tension, conflict and, of course, violence.

As a self-contained story, El Camino is a solid film worthy of the Breaking Bad connection it carries in its title, with excellent work on both sides of the camera. But just as Jesse finds it impossible to outrun his past, “El Camino” cannot ditch the ghost of Walter White. Perhaps that’s the way it should be – after all, Jesse is Walter’s Frankenstein, a creature molded and shaped by its creator, imbued with some of his best and worst qualities. Still, the movie misses the synergistic chemistry between Paul and Cranston that made the series sizzle, and though we’re given a good story and a satisfying sense of closure, we’re left with a feeling of wanting something more.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie is currently streaming on Netflix.

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‘Joker’ Retains Box Office Throne With Stellar $55 Million Weekend

Joker held off newcomers The Addams Family (#2, $30.2 million) and Gemini Man (#3, $20.5 million) to retain the top spot at the box office with a $55 million showing. To date, Joker has made over $192 million domestically. Here’s the top 10:

  1. Joker – It makes $55 million and has amassed over $543 million worldwide!
  2. The Addams Family – Latest iteration of the iconic family takes in $30.3 million, proving the franchise continues to retain its popularity.
  3. Gemini Man Will Smith’s latest takes in $20.5 million but the picture’s budget collects $138 million.
  4. Abominable – Animated feature rakes in $6.2 million.
  5. Downton Abbey – Drama grosses $4.9 million.
  6. HustlersJennifer Lopez flick collects $3.9 million.
  7. Judy – Biopic on Judy Garland makes $3.3 million.
  8. It: Chapter TwoStephen King make amasses $3.2 million and has collected $445 million worldwide.
  9. Jexi – Comedy takes in $3.9 million.
  10. Ad Astra Brad Pitt space film collects $1.9 million.

 

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi