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80 For Brady Review: A Deflated Sports Comedy That Fumbles Its Cast's Charms
The only play that this movie knows how to run is playing it safe, and that deserves quite the penalty when working with such potential.
Knock At The Cabin Review: M. Night Shyamalan’s Latest Is Tense Until It Just Becomes Disappointing
It assumes a strange lack of imagination in the minds of its audience, and that fatal flaw prevents it from ever getting anywhere near a satisfying conclusion to the story.
Infinity Pool Review: Alexander Skarsgård And Mia Goth Are A Brilliant Pair In A Demented, Dizzying Satire
Infinity Pool is a literally dizzying cinematic experience that further twirls your brain around with an orgy of graphic content.
Shotgun Wedding Review: Jennifer Lopez Shines In This Over The Top Action-Comedy
Jennifer Lopez delivers her funniest performance yet, nailing comedy and action in the process.
Missing Review: Searching Gets A Superior Screenlife Sequel
Missing can’t be said to particularly advance screenlife cinema, but it is further proof of the impressive viability for storytelling in the medium...
House Party Review: Scott 'Kid Cudi' Mescudi Is A Scene Stealer In So-So Comedy Reboot
The best aspects of House Party are fantastic – including its stars, select gags, and a wide variety of cameos – but its inconsistency is frustrating and disappointing.
M3GAN Review: Thrills, Chuckles, And Mild Disappointment
There is a significant hindrance in play due to the PG-13 approach, as its bloodlessness prevents it from executing greater escalation in the third act, but that missed opportunity doesn’t overshadow all of the thrills and grins that the film inspires.
Babylon Review: An Epic Journey Through Hollywood History That Can’t Sustain Its Momentum
There is a great deal of passion in the filmmaking... but it suffers from shuttering momentum toward the end that substantially spoils the greatness that it opens with.
Avatar: The Way Of Water Review: James Cameron Strikes Gold Again With A Gorgeous, Thrilling Return To Pandora
The sequel expertly expands the world Pandora, while also keeping the story centered and family-driven.
The Whale Review: Brendan Fraser Makes A Hard Watch Worth It
We see dimensions of [Brendan Fraser] we’ve never had the opportunity to see before in The Whale, and it’s the best he’s ever been...
- Maggie Dela Paz
The Palace Photo Gives First Look at Kate Winslet in Her Next HBO Drama
(Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

HBO has released the first official The Palace photo from HBO’s upcoming limited drama, which has just started its production. The photo provides us with our first look at Academy Award winner Kate Winslet’s character, as she regally leads an authoritarian government.

The Palace will be telling the story of one year within the walls of the palace of an authoritarian regime as it begins to unravel. Joining Winslet are Matthias Schoenaerts (The Old Guard), Guillaume Gallienne, Andrea Riseborough (To Leslie), Martha Plimpton (Raising Hope) and Hugh Grant (Love Actually).

Check out The Palace photo below:

The miniseries is directed and executive produced by Stephen Frears, who’s best known for directing the acclaimed film The Queen. Executive producers are Succession producers Will Tracy and Frank Rich, with Tracy also serving as the showrunner and writer. The writing team will include Seth Reiss, Juli Weiner, Jen Spyra, Gary Shteyngart, and Sarah DeLappe.

For her leading performance as Mare Sheehan in Mare of Easttown, Winslet won Emmy and Golden Globe awards, both for Best Actress in a Limited Series or Movie. She is currently starring in James Cameron’s long-awaited sequel Avatar: The Way of Water, which is still available for viewing in theaters.

The post The Palace Photo Gives First Look at Kate Winslet in Her Next HBO Drama appeared first on - Movie Trailers, TV & Streaming News, and More.

- Maggie Dela Paz
Kill Boksoon Teaser Trailer Previews Netflix’s South Korean Action Movie

Netflix has unveiled the first Kill Boksoon teaser trailer for its upcoming South Korean action comedy starring Cannes-winning actress Jeon Do-yeon. The video features Jeon as a single mother who’s struggling to balance raising her teenage daughter with her job as a contract killer.

The film will have its world premiere this month at the 73rd Berlin International Film Festival. It will then be followed by its streaming debut on March 31.

Kill Boksoon is written and directed by Byun Sung-hyun (The Merciless, Kingmaker). The film will also star So Kyung-gu (Public Enemy), Esom (Taxi Driver), Ko Kyo-hwan (D.P.), Kim Si-a (Ashin of the North), Lee Yeon (Juvenile Justice), Jang In-sub (Who Are You: School 2015), and Choi Byung-mo.

“In the film, Gil is a single woman juggling the demanding and conflicting roles of professional killer and mother to a teenage daughter,” reads the synopsis. “Despite her unblemished track record as an assassin, Gil hesitates about renewing her contract at the killing company where she is employed and decides to spend time finding out what is gnawing at her daughter. But complications are never far away, such as discovering her next target is at a parent-teacher meeting.”

Jeon is best known for her acclaimed performances in movies such as My Dear Enemy, The Housemaid, The Shameless, and Secret Sunshine. The latter earned her the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival, making her the first-ever Korean to win an acting award at Cannes. She is currently starring on tvN-Netflix’s romantic comedy series Crash Course in Romance along with Hospital Playlist‘s Jung Kyung-ho.

The post Kill Boksoon Teaser Trailer Previews Netflix’s South Korean Action Movie appeared first on - Movie Trailers, TV & Streaming News, and More.

- Spencer Legacy
Exclusive Amy’s F It List Clip Previews the Wildly Dark Comedy

ComingSoon is debuting an exclusive Amy’s F It List clip from Indie Rights’ upcoming dark comedy movie. The film is set to arrive on video-on-demand services on February 14.

“Amy, a young woman who’s been barely present in her own life, suddenly finds out she has mere days to live,” reads the movie’s synopsis. “Thanks to her very present sister, Amy’s about to right the many wrongs done to herself and others in the short time she has left.”

Check out the exclusive Amy’s F It List clip below:

Amy’s F It List was directed by Mark S. Allen. It stars Alyson Gorske, Angel Prater, Petrie Hawkins Byrd, and Mark De Carlo.

The post Exclusive Amy’s F It List Clip Previews the Wildly Dark Comedy appeared first on - Movie Trailers, TV & Streaming News, and More.

- Spencer Legacy
Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant Trailer Shows Jake Gyllenhaal On a Dangerous Mission

MGM has released an official Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant trailer for the upcoming action thriller movie. The film is set to debut in theaters on April 21.

Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant follows US Army Sergeant John Kinley and Afghan interpreter Ahmed,” reads the film’s synopsis. “After an ambush, Ahmed goes to Herculean lengths to save Kinley’s life. When Kinley learns that Ahmed and his family were not given safe passage to America as promised, he must repay his debt by returning to the war zone to retrieve them before the Taliban hunts them down first.”

Check out the official Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant trailer below:

Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant was written by Ivan Atkinson, Marn Davies, and Guy Ritchie and directed by Ritchie. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Dar Salim, Antony Starr, Alexander Ludwig, Bobby Schofield, with Emily Beecham and Jonny Lee Miller.

The post Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant Trailer Shows Jake Gyllenhaal On a Dangerous Mission appeared first on - Movie Trailers, TV & Streaming News, and More.

- Spencer Legacy
Exclusive Work It Out Wombats! Clip Previews Animated PBS Kids Show

ComingSoon is debuting an exclusive Work It Out Wombats! clip from PBS Kids’ new animated series. The show is set to debut on PBS Kids on February 6.

“Full of endless energy, Malik, Zadie, and Zeke run, bounce, roll and romp, always on the lookout for interesting Treeborhood problems to solve,” reads the show’s synopsis. “Malik is thoughtful, considerate and sometimes set in his ways (which can be a good thing when you’re problem-solving). His speedy, adventurous younger sister, Zadie, is a brainstormer extraordinaire, with ideas that range from silly to very smart. Zeke is the youngest sibling — a funny, curious cuddle-bug who loves to play and explore. Super, their grandmother, is the Superintendent and unofficial ‘Mayor’ of the Treeborhood.”

Check out the exclusive Work It Out Wombats! clip below:

“The Wombats are all about exploring the world around them and, much like preschoolers, their curiosity and love of adventure know no bounds,” said Sara DeWitt, PBS Kids’ Senior Vice President and General Manager. “Computational thinking is a way of approaching problems in strategic ways, helping young children respond and adapt to the world around them. We’re excited for viewers to explore these foundational skills and mindsets while having fun with their new marsupial friends.”

Work It Out Wombats! is produced by GBH Kids and Pipeline Studios. It stars Ian Ho, Mia SwamiNathan, Rain Janjua, and more.

The post Exclusive Work It Out Wombats! Clip Previews Animated PBS Kids Show appeared first on - Movie Trailers, TV & Streaming News, and More.

- Anthony Nash
Dave Bautista Wants to Star in a Rom-Com But Doesn’t Get Offers
dave bautista rom-com(Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)

Dave Bautista has already built a nice resume of acting roles throughout his brief Hollywood career. Now, the actor is wondering why he hasn’t gotten the chance to branch out into the romantic comedy genre.

Speaking to Page Six, Bautista lamented over the fact that he hasn’t gotten the chance to star in a rom-com yet. In the interview, the actor acknowledged he knows he isn’t the typical actor one might think when it comes to the genre and wondered if perhaps he just didn’t look good enough for the roles.

“I know I’m not your typical rom-com lead,” Bautista said. “I’m a little rough around the edges. But I always, you know, I look in the mirror and I say, I ask myself, ‘Am I that unattractive? Is there something that unappealing about me that excludes me from these parts?’”

Bautista went on to note that he does have “high hopes” for a potential role in a future rom-com.

“I don’t know,” Bautista said. “It’s just never come my way. I’ve never had an offer to do a rom-com. I still have high hopes. I’ll just keep searching.”

Since transitioning full-time into an actor, Bautista has starred in a variety of different films, from the comic book world in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise to more serious sci-fi epics like Blade Runner 2049 and Dune, and even comedic murder mysteries like 2022’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.

Next up for Bautista is a role in the psychological horror film Knock at the Cabin, directed by M. Night Shyamalan and set to release on February 3, 2023.

The post Dave Bautista Wants to Star in a Rom-Com But Doesn’t Get Offers appeared first on - Movie Trailers, TV & Streaming News, and More.

- Spencer Legacy
James Gunn on How Some DCU Actors Will Stay the Same After The Flash

DC Studios Co-CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran have been giving fans a bit more info regarding their reset of the DC Universe and how it won’t necessarily remove everything involved with the old DCEU.

When asked by a fan on Instagram if he was “rebooting the DCEU 100%” despite characters like Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller staying the same, Gunn explained that while The Flash will indeed reset a lot of things from the DCEU, not everything will necessarily be changed.

“Nope. Flash resets many things, not all things,” he clarified. “Some characters remain the same some do not.”

Earlier in the week, Safran spoke about The Flash, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Shazam!, praising the films and saying that those characters and portrayals aren’t barred from the new DCU (via Deadline).

“These four movies are terrific. There’s no reason why any of the characters or the actors that play in those characters are not part of the DCU. There’s nothing that prohibits that from happening,” Safran said. “We’ll incorporate characters from the past, but mostly we’ll cast anew.”

The DC Universe’s first phase, called Chapter One: Gods and Monsters, will feature a multitude of different movies and television shows. A few of the announced projects include a Batman and Robin-focused movie called The Brave and the Bold, a Supergirl movie titled Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow, a Swamp Thing film, and multiple TV shows.

The post James Gunn on How Some DCU Actors Will Stay the Same After The Flash appeared first on - Movie Trailers, TV & Streaming News, and More.

- Tyler Treese
1923 Season 2 Ordered as Paramount+ Continues Yellowstone Prequel
1923 Season 2

1923 Season 2 is on the way as Paramount+ has renewed the western drama series.

The Yellowstone prequel has become a hit on the streamer thanks to its star-studded cast that features Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren as Jacob and Cara Dutton. The show also stars Brandon Sklenar, Darren Mann, Michelle Randolph, James Badge Dale, Marley Shelton, Brian Geraghty, Aminah Nieves, and Jerome Flynn.

1923 focuses on the Dutton family’s next two generations as they struggle to survive historic drought, lawlessness and prohibition, and an epidemic of cattle theft; all battled beneath the cloud of Montana’s great depression, which preceded the nation by almost a decade,” reads the synopsis.

The Yellowstone prequel is produced by MTV Entertainment Studios, 101 Studios, and Bosque Ranch Productions. Executive producers are Taylor Sheridan, John Linson, Art Linson, David C. Glasser, Ron Burkle, Bob Yari, and Ben Richardson.

The original Yellowstone series hails from Sheridan and John Linson. It stars Kevin Costner, Luke Grimes, Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley, Cole Hauser, Kelsey Asbille, and more.

The post 1923 Season 2 Ordered as Paramount+ Continues Yellowstone Prequel appeared first on - Movie Trailers, TV & Streaming News, and More.

- Spencer Legacy
Explained: Is Sword Art Online -Progressive- Scherzo of Deep Night Canon?

With Sword Art Online -Progressive- Scherzo of Deep Night making its debut in theaters, the age-old anime question of “is the movie canon” has popped back up. The answer is, as is often the case, complicated. Let’s dive in.

Sword Art Online The Movie -Progressive- Scherzo of Deep Night Gets U.S. Release Date What is Sword Art Online -Progressive- Scherzo of Deep Night Based On

Both Scherzo of Deep Night and Aria of a Starless Night are based on the Sword Art Online Progressive series of light novels. The books are an expanded retelling of the series’ Aincrad story — the first arc in the series — from the perspective of Asuna rather than Kirito.

The first of the Progressive movies, Aria of a Starless Night, adapted the beginning of the story — specifically, from when everyone logs into the game for the first time to when Kirito and Asuna decide to team up on the second floor and exchange names.

When Does Sword Art Online -Progressive- Scherzo of Deep Night Take Place?

Scherzo of Deep Night starts approximately two months after everybody became trapped in Sword Art Online (which was on November 6, 2022). During the film, the characters celebrate New Years Day 2023, so it takes place from the end of 2022 to the beginning of 2023.

Is Sword Art Online -Progressive- Scherzo of Deep Night Canon?

There’s a bit of confusion as to the canonicity of the Progressive films. While the Sword Art Online Progressive light novels that this follows are canon, these movies have added in a non-canon character named Tozawa Misumi, or Mito.

Since Mito appears only in these movies and not in the light novels, her presence means these movies cannot be fully canon, instead serving as a retelling of the story on a different timeline of sorts. Reki Kawahara, the creator of Sword Art Online, reportedly has no plans to retroactively add Mito to the canon of the Progressive novels, meaning she is a firmly non-canon character and thus muddying the waters.

So, technically, Scherzo of Deep Night is not canon, although you can expect most of the experience to be true to the light novels. Just know that Mito is not canon and her contributions didn’t happen in the source material.

The post Explained: Is Sword Art Online -Progressive- Scherzo of Deep Night Canon? appeared first on - Movie Trailers, TV & Streaming News, and More.

- Jeff Ames
Groundhog Day Is Still a Joy to Rewatch 30 Years Later
Groundhog Day 30 year retrospective

While it was released 30 years ago, Groundhog Day remains highly rewatchable due to it being a straightforward comedy with a surprising dose of philosophy. Like Joe Versus the Volcano a few years prior, Groundhog Day blends lighthearted humor with more profound themes about life and love, resulting in one of those rare motion pictures that resonates on multiple levels. Quite frankly, I think it’s brilliant.

For Murray, Groundhog Day marked the end of his mainstream comedy run that began with 1979’s Meatballs and featured the likes of Caddyshack, Stripes, Ghostbusters, and What About Bob? in 1991. From here on out, Murray would take bit parts in films like Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, the Farrelly brothers’ KingpinSpace Jam, and the dark comedy/thriller Wild Things before Wes Anderson and Sophia Coppola revitalized his career by casting him more or less as himself in dramatic (or darkly humorous) fare with 1998’s Rushmore and 2003’s Lost in Translation.

More pivotally, Groundhog Day afforded Murray a chance to show off his dramatic chops — something he tried with minimal success in The Razor’s Edge and (to a lesser extent) Quick Change. Phil Connors’ metamorphosis from a snarky weatherman to a congenial, compassionate, extremely talented, high-ranking resident of Punxsutawney remains one of the great movie character transformations. 

Why Groundhog Day Is an Enduring Classic

For those who don’t know, Groundhog Day tells the story of Phil Connors, a stuck-in-the-rut weatherman who heads to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to cover the annual Groundhog Day celebrations. He ends up in a time loop that repeatedly forces him to relive February 2. Initially, he views the day as a curse. Eventually, he embraces the opportunity to embellish his life with generosity, kindheartedness, and romance.

What’s interesting about Groundhog Day is how it initially presents Phil as a curmudgeon, albeit one we rally around. Films such as Scrooged gave Murray a mean-spirited asshole vibe with few redemptive qualities. Here, director Harold Ramis (who co-wrote with Danny Rubin) introduces Phil as a snarky everyman stuck in a dead-end job, surrounded by people who look down on him. We get the feeling Phil used to be a respectable guy with a lust for life but never amounted to anything more than a deadbeat weather forecaster at a small new station. Hell, even the lowly camera guy (played by Chris Elliott) doesn’t respect him; nor does the new producer (Andie MacDowell), whose endless optimism, talent, and success further irk an already discontent Phil.

“I think that you could tell Bill’s character was really suffering then,” MacDowell said in a making-of interview. “Even though he was explosive and mean and cynical and all those things, you felt sorry for him because you knew he couldn’t be happy like that.”

Phil notes the number of times he’s covered the groundhog celebration and hopes this year leads to bigger and better things at larger networks. A fantastic video by Northern Diaries highlights this human problem of not living in the present day. For Phil, it’s all about what will happen tomorrow. He’s so busy worrying about the future that he’s not focusing on the present. So when he gets to Punxsutawney, he doesn’t stop to enjoy the people, the town, or the moment; he wants to leave as soon as possible. 

Unfortunately, Phil possesses few qualities that would propel him to the fame and fortune he covets. In a sense, the man was already stuck in an endless cycle of misery, albeit made by his own hand, with no hope for a brighter future. As such, we feel a certain amount of empathy toward him. Ramis carefully frames Phil as a downtrodden soul who takes his frustrations out on the world rather than an out-and-out jerk.

For every cruel quip, Phil takes on even more punishment: a shovel smacks him in the head, he humiliates himself in front of a patrolman, gets stuck in a cold shower, sleeps in because of poor service, steps in an icy puddle, and is practically accosted by an insurance salesman (Stephen Tobolowsky). He’s an average guy whose anger stems largely from everyday life, which many will relate with.

Then, a miracle. Phil awakens the next morning, except it’s February 2, Groundhog Day, again. Something’s amiss.

Phil makes the same mistakes as the previous day, wakes up, and finds everything reset once more. Even the pencil he snapped has magically reformed. So, because he has nothing else better to do, he goes drinking and, with the help of two town drunks, has an epiphany:

Phil spends the second act abusing his power. He sleeps with random women, steals money, eats junk food, and tries to worm his way into Rita’s heart. Except, she’s able to see right through his hollow passion:

Then, like a Grand Theft Auto gamer, after they’ve applied all the cheats and quickly grown bored with the game, Phil unleashes his darker side, steals a truck carrying the groundhog (also named Phil), and drives over a cliff. Unfortunately, his suicide attempt proves futile, and he again wakes up to Sonny and Cher on February 2. He then goes on a suicide spree and kills himself in a variety of unique ways:

At this juncture, the man thinks he has nothing to live for. In Phil’s shallow mind, he achieved everything he could out of life — women, booze, sex, and endless viewings of a film called Heidi II. It never occurs to him to do anything more productive until Rita inspires him to do more with his infinite existence. She brings out the real Phil sans all the bullshit. At one point, he even reads poetry. “Only God can make a tree,” he recites, displaying a fundamental shift in his beliefs.

Astute viewers will recall Phil’s god complex early in the picture. As a weatherman, he believes he “makes the weather.” He tries to save a homeless man from certain death and tells Rita that he’s an actual god. “Not the God, but god.” 

Only after crumbling in humility can Phil fully rebuild himself physically, mentally, and emotionally. He reads books, plays the piano, learns how to ice sculpt, and gets to know the people around him more deeply. He enjoys a robust spiritual journey that carries him from a deadbeat cynic to a charismatic savant with a lust for life.

“It’s not being the hero of the town,” Tobolowsky explained, “it’s about doing what you can do in the moment to make things better instead of making things worse. If other people interpret that as you being the god of the town, which in a way he becomes, so be it. But that isn’t his aim.” 

“When he stops worrying about himself all the time and starts living a life of service to others, then his life gets very full and rich indeed,” Ramis added.

The film then switches to Rita’s perspective. We see Phil in a new light: he’s loved by all, talented, ambitious, sensitive, and full of life, a far cry from the drunken miscreant we saw in the opening act. 

It’s enough to peak Rita’s interest, so she buys him at an auction and spends the night with him. By all accounts, they don’t have sex — Phil merely dozes off, perhaps exhausted from the day’s events — but their relationship is built on a firmer foundation thanks to Phil’s newfound outlook on life. He’s confident, happy, and self-assured, no longer weighed down by the world but energized by the prospect of living. It took years (decades even), but Phil finally answered the question posed early in the picture: “What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same and nothing that you did mattered?”

Phil was already stuck living the same day on repeat but found meaning in his existence. By the film’s end, he possesses an array of talents that will likely earn him a better career; his attitude has shifted, which will afford him more friends; and his heart has increased, which prompts a substantial relationship with the woman he loves. 

Phil experiences a fundamental change that resonates with everyone, as noted by Harold Ramis:

It’s rare to find a picture that nearly every moviegoer can identify with on a deeper, emotional level. The philosophical themes about the very nature of our existence elevate Groundhog Day above your typical rom-com so that it becomes a near-religious experience. Who doesn’t look at themselves in the mirror each morning and question the meaning behind it all? Why do we work? Why do we follow simplistic routines? How do we break the cycle? 

Interestingly, Phil doesn’t make any radical changes to his routine. Even in the third act, he wakes up at 6 a.m., goes to work, and performs daily rituals. The difference is his extracurricular activities revolve around service to others — he helps a trio of older women with their car, saves a kid from falling out of a tree, and prevents a man from choking to death. (Phil’s early scenes always frame him in isolation, while the later stages pair him with others.)   

Groundhog Day suggests it’s not necessarily about breaking the cycle but rather doing more with it — a simple but effective message. Little wonder the National Film Preservation Board selected that movie for preservation in the Library of Congress in 2006.

Surprisingly, Groundhog Day was a minor success. The film did well compared to its budget and earned a healthy $71 million at the domestic box office — good, but a far cry from Murray’s more popular endeavors. I imagine audiences shared my sentiments and thought it was little more than a fun comedy. Even Roger Ebert dismissed it in his earlier review before amending his thoughts. “Groundhog Day is a film that finds its note and purpose so precisely that its genius may not be immediately noticeable. It unfolds so inevitably, is so entertaining, so apparently effortless, that you have to stand back and slap yourself before you see how good it really is,” the late critic wrote.

Indeed, I didn’t pick up on the film’s heavier themes until after countless viewings during my family’s weekly Friday movie night. We must have watched it hundreds of times during my youth. Silly me. 

To this day, Groundhog Day still astonishes me. I find new elements I didn’t catch before and continue to appreciate its brilliance. Whether by design or not, Harold Ramis and Bill Murray made a deeply profound comedy classic worth watching again and again and again…

The post Groundhog Day Is Still a Joy to Rewatch 30 Years Later appeared first on - Movie Trailers, TV & Streaming News, and More.

- Anthony Nash
2 Fast 2 Furious Legacy Trailer Highlights High-Speed Action
2 Fast 2 Furious Legacy Trailer Highlights High-Speed Action

The Fast & Furious franchise is celebrating its history during the lead-up to the debut of the Fast X trailer. After reliving the beginning of the franchise yesterday, today they celebrate its sequel as the countdown to February 10’s Fast X trailer continues.

The latest “Legacy Trailer” for the Fast & Furious franchise features the 2003 sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious. Like yesterday, the trailer essentially recuts footage from the second film to show off more of the sequel. 2 Fast 2 Furious saw the return of Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner, and also introduced some other mainstays to the Fast & Furious franchise to the movie’s universe, including Tyrese Gibson’s Roman Pearce and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges’ Tej Parker.

Check out the legacy trailer for 2 Fast 2 Furious below:

Fast X is being directed by Transporter director Louis Leterrier, who took over the role from Justin Lin after Lin suddenly exited the project due to creative differences. The film is written by Lin and Dan Mazeau, with Lin still attached as a producer.

Diesel, Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Ludacris, Nathalie Emmanuel, Sung Kang, and Scott Eastwood will reprise their respective roles in the film. The tenth installment will also feature the additions of franchise newcomers Jason Momoa (Aquaman), Daniela Melchior (The Suicide Squad), Brie Larson (Captain Marvel), and Alan Ritchson (Reacher), with Momoa expected to portray the antagonist.

Based on the characters created by Gary Scott Thompson, the latest installment takes the family around the globe from London to Tokyo, from Central America to Edinburgh, and from a secret bunker in Azerbaijan to the teeming streets of Tbilisi. Along the way, old friends will be resurrected, old foes will return, history will be rewritten, and the true meaning of family will be tested like never before.

The post 2 Fast 2 Furious Legacy Trailer Highlights High-Speed Action appeared first on - Movie Trailers, TV & Streaming News, and More.

- Anthony Nash
Ashton Kutcher Still Talks to Danny Masterson, Recalls ’70s Show Advice
(Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic)

Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson rose to superstardom for their roles in That ’70s Show, and while Masterson is currently facing legal issues, Kutcher recently spoke about his friend and their time together.

Speaking to Esquire, Kutcher talked about the Netflix reboot of That ’70s Show, That ’90s Show, a series that saw most of the original ’70s Show cast appear in cameos. The one main character that didn’t appear, however, was Masterson, who wasn’t invited back after being charged in June 2020 with three counts of rape from three separate incidents.

When speaking of Masterson, Kutcher noted that he was the original leader of the group of actors during their time on That ’70s Show. According to Kutcher, it was actually Masterson that would urge the group to try and stay out of trouble, so as to not ruin things for the rest of the cast.

 “He’s like, ‘One f—ing rule: Don’t do anything f—ing stupid and f— this up. Because if you f— it up, you f— it up for everybody,'” said Kutcher.

As far as Masterson’s legal battle goes, Kutcher said that he still talks to the actor and his brother, and said he thinks about Masterson’s son from time to time. “Someday, his kid is going to read about this,” Kutcher said, while also acknowledging the victims involved. “I wholesale feel for anybody who feels like they were violated in any way.”

Masterson’s original trial was declared a mistrial due to the jury remaining deadlocked on a verdict. Now, Masterson will face a second retrial. For Kutcher, his wish is for Masterson “to be found innocent of the charges brought against him.” However, Kutcher’s wish is not for his friend to get away with anything, but rather that Masterson lived up to the example he tried to set for his castmates.

“Ultimately, I can’t know,” said Kutcher on the matter. “I’m not the jury. I’m not the DA. I’m not the victim. And I’m not the accused. And so, in that case, I don’t have a space to comment. I just don’t know.”

The post Ashton Kutcher Still Talks to Danny Masterson, Recalls ’70s Show Advice appeared first on - Movie Trailers, TV & Streaming News, and More.

- Tyler Treese
Interview: Joel David Moore on Avatar & Working With James Cameron
(Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/GA/The Hollywood Reporter via Getty Images)

ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke to Avatar: The Way of Water star Joel David Moore about the Avatar sequel. Moore discussed James Cameron’s directing style and the cult-classic 2006 comedy movie Grandma’s Boy.

“Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, Avatar: The Way of Water begins to tell the story of the Sully family (Jake, Neytiri, and their kids), the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive, and the tragedies they endure,” says the sequel’s synopsis.

Tyler Treese: What is it like doing the filming process and then finally seeing the finished product for the first time? It has to be almost overwhelming.

Joel David Moore: Yeah. You know, we’re a big family, so we see iterations of it along the way. The first iteration you’re seeing is when you’re shooting, right? So when we’re in the performance capture world … this is kind of weird to explain, but there are cameras outside of the performance capture stage to which you can look and see your own Na’vi or Avatar — in my case, Avatar — on that screen. And Jim Cameron has a virtual camera with a big ball in front of it, and the tech side is telling it that that’s a camera. So if he points that at me, he sees my Avatar, or if he points it at Zoe [Saldaña], he sees Zoe’s Na’vi, and he sees the entire world around us. So we experienced this … in the first one, it was a bit different, you know? But this one … there were better graphics, but it’s almost like you’re looking at the Xbox version, and then it iterates from there and as it’s getting rendered, you’re seeing the 1920×1080 version, and then you’re seeing the 2K, and then you’re seeing the 4k.

So when the render process happens — the render process is obviously one of the longest processes on the post-production side of it — but we get the feeling from early stages, and then it almost comes into focus as it renders out. So I was able to see about 45 minutes of rendered footage before the premieres. I was as blown away as anyone was. You don’t notice it as much, but if you looked at the first Avatar and the second Avatar side-by-side, the richness and texture, the ability to differentiate every single pixel on the screen, and the background and every Avatar, the movement of every Avatar, even in the far, far, far background, is visually so perfect.

You’ve never seen anything like the amount of information that is in every frame of Avatar. Some of this goes … not unnoticed, but it’s hard for an audience to take it all in since it’s such a visual masterpiece. It’s a thrill ride. But if you go back and watch it … you go back and watch the first one and look at the deep, deep background, it’s awesome. It’s the best at that time. But if you watch the deep, deep background, every leaf, every tiny little Avatar in frame, it’s just perfect. It’s really spectacular.

I think that’s why we’re seeing so many repeat viewings as well. Since you are a director yourself, it has to be such a great learning experience, seeing how James Cameron operates. Obviously you’re not filming at the same scale — nobody is — as James Cameron with his huge blockbusters, but how has getting to see him work and his style firsthand helped yourself with your movies?

Well, as big as these movies are, when you’re on set, it’s almost like you’re back to black box theater on the performance capture side. There’s a big gray stage. You have to imagine what’s around you. You have cameras that are virtually showing you what is around you. Of course, Jim carries a virtual camera that’s speaking to the infrared cameras above you and the technology side. So he can see us, he can see our Avatars or in Zoe’s case or Sam [Worthington]’s case, their Na’vis. He can see every tree and where the sun is. So he can essentially film the entire thing and capture what he wants to see through it all. We’re seeing different iterations of that as it’s advancing into the render side.

So I think that what we gain from it is all of the experience of shooting in that space, but what we’re actually in is kind of like a little theater group. It’s like a little theater troupe that’s coming and having to imagine everything around them as they’re performing. So I’m not saying that it’s the same as a small budget film, but I’m saying that Jim approaches the directing side of it very intimately, as you would see on a smaller budget film as well.

There’s a timeskip in Avatar 2 and Norm’s not as directly involved this time, but you still see that he has this very deep connection with Jake Sully. When things go wrong, you’re the first person he calls. What do you like most about seeing that friendship and how it’s morphed but still stayed strong over the years?

Well, that’s exactly right. Of course, there’s a lot of story in front of us so that friendship stays strong through it. But I think that you’re right. The relationship that Sam and I … when we started, it was our contentious. We grew into knowing through survival and understanding our passion and our dedication to the planet of Pandora … I think that we really realize that there’s just a deep bond. The sacrifice that we both made, obviously his was a physical sacrifice, moving from literally from body to body [and] becoming a Na’vi. Mine is the sacrifice of not leaving with everyone at the end of the first one, deciding to stay on the planet, deciding to continue the Avatar program.

My character is kind of the last stand of the Avatar program. Everyone else has moved on over into the Na’vi side, including Sigourney Weaver’s character coming back as Kiri, which, I think, is the most phenomenal story path in the sequel and then ahead of us in the franchise. It’s really amazing, just the ability for her to come back as this character, as a teen you know? To be able to just act that is really phenomenal. So, yeah, I agree.

Her youthful energy is just incredible.

I know, it was so fun to see on set, you know? Her turn into a kid. But I would say that Kiri also is a wise teen. She’s a wise child, right? She’s not really your average child. There is obviously something about her that was discovered in the sequel and then will continue to be discovered in the future of this franchise, that is so profound. So connected to the resource of Eywa and the identity of Eywa and the intercommunication of the plants and animals on Pandora that I think it just gives such a phenomenal look to the character development that she has had from the first two to the rest of this franchise.

Going back to the original film, I was curious because I was looking into some deleted scenes. I saw there was a whole romance subplot between Norm and Trudy that had some scenes filmed and were cut. What were your thoughts when you saw that didn’t make the the final cut?

I was very happy because that … every movie that you make, you cut, right? So as a director, I’ve learned this. I directed my first feature at 25-26. So I think it was a really good lesson on not being offended when things were cut on the acting side of things. But you have to approach and edit story first. Of course, you want to make sure that the action sequences are correct and the characters are well-evaluated. But you have to take a holistic view of your entire 30,000-foot view and say, “What drives my story the best so an audience is satiated at the end of this movie?” And every moment that Michelle and I worked together, we became good friends.

And every moment that we had, from hanging out and partying in New Zealand all the way to our on set work, was so wonderful and so precious, but unnecessary for that story. The story was about our relationship with the Na’vi and how we were going to assimilate into their society, into their culture, and learn from them and adapt to the behaviors that the Na’vi had and learn how to survive and to then fend off the traditional bad guys who were then going to attack their way of life. I think that, again, you’re seeing this sort of cyclical storyline in the sequel as well. Why is that important? Because I think that what Jim is trying to do is teach a lesson about what we are dealing with here on planet Earth.

And it’s not about bad guys and good guys. It’s about how do we protect the most fundamental and the most precious parts of our society, and that is the earth that we stand on. It’s funny, my head of production at my company has a saying on the wall. It says, “You can’t make movies on a dead planet.” And I always think about that. Every time that we’re frustrated or whatever we’re doing in life, I’m like, “This is the most important thing.” I’m going to a climate summit for a couple weeks in Antarctica, and it’s all about how to figure out [and] how to promote more action on this planet. And Jim is doing that by allowing for us to see repercussions on another planet and how that’s a mirror to what we’re dealing with on a daily basis in the on planet Earth.

Before we wrap, one of my favorite films of yours is Grandma’s Boy. You as J.P. is just so hilarious. How was it fully committing to that character, and has it really surprised you that almost 20 years later, people are still loving that movie?

Nick Swardson is a legend. He is brilliant. He’s one of my favorite guys that I’ve met in Los Angeles. He created something, I think, that could stand the test of time just because it’s a fun, iconic classic comedy. We don’t even really make comedies like that anymore. Goofball or whatever you would call Grandma’s Boy, whatever that kind of hybrid comedy is. You don’t see a lot of them. It failed in the theater. It made maybe $2.5 million in the theater, went out on 2,500 screens or something — massive failure. And then it killed it on DVD. It was like the perfect momentum, coming from a failed theatrical release into everybody just wanting to see this weird movie. I think it hit the college campuses in a really big way. But because of that, on a daily basis, I hear from people about Grandma’s Boy, this movie that we never knew was going to have this kind of life.

So I think it’s counted as one of our cult classics in the comedy space. We’re all proud of it. It’s fun, you know? Nick Goossen did an incredible job directing it, he’s another good friend of mine. It gives us giggles that almost 17 years later, I’ll be walking around at a mall and somebody will come up and talk to me about Grandma’s Boy. That’s crazy.

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- Maggie Dela Paz
Outer Banks Season 3 Trailer Teases the Search for the City of Gold
Cr. Jackson Lee Davis/Netflix © 2022

Netflix has dropped the official Outer Banks Season 3 trailer for the upcoming season of the coming-of-age mystery drama. The series is scheduled to make its return on February 23 with new ten episodes.

The Outer Banks Season 3 trailer teases the Pogues’ next big dangerous adventure which revolves around the search for the fabled city of a gold called El Dorado. It also gives us a glimpse of John B’s emotional reunion with his father, as well as the introduction of a criminal boss who thinks that the Pogues are the key to reaching El Dorado.

Check out the Outer Banks Season 3 trailer below:

Outer Banks is created and executive produced by Jonas Pate, Josh Pate, and Shannon Burke. The series stars Chase Stokes, Madelyn Cline, Madison Bailey, Jonathan Daviss, Rudy Pankow, Austin North, Drew Starkey, and Charles Esten, with Elizabeth Mitchell, Caroline Arapoglou, Carlacia Grant, Cullen Moss, Julia Antonelli, Nicholas Cirillo, and Deion Smith.

“After losing the gold and fleeing the Outer Banks, Season 3 finds the Pogues washed ashore on a desert island that, for a brief moment, seems like an idyllic home,” reads the synopsis. “Officially deemed “Poguelandia,” the island’s newest residents spend their days fishing, swimming, and reveling in the carefree lifestyle of their temporary dwelling.

“But things quickly go south for John B, Sarah, Kiara, Pope, JJ, and Cleo when they find themselves once again caught up in a race for the treasure, quite literally running for their lives. They’re broke and far from home, they can’t trust anyone, Ward and Rafe are hungry for revenge, and there’s a ruthless Caribbean Don who will stop at nothing to find the bounty. Was the treasure ever within their reach? Or was it all a trap to stop them once and for all? Either way, it’s the Pogues against the world — and the only way out is together.”

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- Tudor Leonte
The Last of Us Episode 4 HBO Max Release Date & Time

The Last of Us Episode 4 is premiering on HBO Max later this week.

After the latest installment featured the heartbreaking story of Bill and Frank, the series is ready to show the new stage of Joel Miller’s and Ellie Williams’ journey. Here’s when to watch it.

When to Watch The Last of Us Episode 4 on HBO Max

HBO Max will release The Last of Us Episode 4 at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on Sunday, February 5. Jeremy Webb (The Umbrella AcademyDownton Abbey) directed “Please Hold My Hand” from a script penned by Craig Mazin. HBO Max didn’t release any synopsis for the upcoming installment, but a preview is already available. The video shows that the protagonists’ journey to the West is far from easy. Plus, it appears a new character called Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey) is about to make her debut.

“The live-action series takes place 20 years after modern civilization has been destroyed,” reads the series synopsis. “Joel and Ellie, a pair connected through the harshness of the world they live in, are forced to endure brutal circumstances and ruthless killers on a trek across a post-pandemic America.”

What to Read Before The Last of Us Episode 4

Related to The Last of Us franchise, Annie Wersching’s death at 45 due to cancer was announced this week. The actress voiced and provided motion capture for Tess in The Last of Us video game.

ComingSoon has covered the HBO Max flagship show with plenty of news and features. In case you missed them, this will get you all caught up.

The Last of Us Episode 4 Promo Trailer Teases Joel & Ellie’s Chaotic Road Trip The Last of Us Episode 3 Recap, Theories, and Thoughts The Last of Us Changed Bill and Frank’s Relationship for the Better The Last of Us Creators Discuss How the Infection Spread Watch The Last of Us Episode 1 for Free in US & UK The Last of Us Info

The Mandalorian‘s Pedro Pascal is portraying the live-action adaptation of Joel, while Game of Thrones alum Bella Ramsey portrays Ellie. The cast includes Gabriel Luna (Terminator: Dark Fate) as Tommy Miller, Nico Parker (Dumbo) as Joel’s daughter Sarah, Anna Torv (Mindhunter) as Tess, and Merle Dandridge (The Flight Attendant) as she reprises her role from the video games as Marlene, the leader of a resistance group known as the Fireflies. It also features Jeffrey Pierce (Bosch) as Perry, Murray Bartlett (The White Lotus) as Frank, Nick Offerman (Fargo) as Bill, and Storm Reid (Euphoria) as Riley.

Chernobyl creator Mazin and game writer Neil Druckmann executive produced and co-wrote The Last of Us live-action series. Druckmann also served as one of the directors. It is a co-production with Sony Pictures Television in association with PlayStation Productions. It is a co-production with Sony Pictures Television in association with PlayStation Productions. Executive producers are Carolyn Strauss, Naughty Dog President Evan Wells, and PlayStation Productions’ Asad Qizilbash and Carter Swan.

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- Michael Leri
Resident Evil 4 Remake Gameplay Highlights Cabin Fight & New Enemy

The Resident Evil 4 remake is bringing familiar elements to players, while also adding in its own style to differentiate itself from the 2005 original. A new video shows off both of these halves, as it includes gameplay from its iconic cabin fight sequence with Luis in addition to a brand-new enemy.

In an interview with Game Informer, Art Director Hirofumi Nakaoka spoke about bringing out each character’s personality in the remake while also not losing what made them special. He brought up the chainsaw villager and noted that he didn’t need anything special to stick out because he looks scarier when he just looks like a normal person in normal clothes (aside from the chainsaw and burlap sack).

He used this opportunity to show off a new character, which is a hulking brute that wields a giant hammer and wears an animal head on top of his own. Nakaoka explained that it wasn’t the team’s intent to make a new character and was added much later in development. But during playtests, the studio felt like there were sections where a tougher enemy should jump in, which is when the gameplay and art sides started discussing such a beast.

Resident Evil 4 Remake Preview: Remaking a Classic Resident Evil 4 Remake Preview: Remaking a Classic the Right Way Resident Evil 4 has very little setup. Pretty boy Leon Kennedy bursts into the first house he sees, quickly kills… Games Michael Leri 4 months ago

Nakaoka said this character wears an animal head because there are a lot of human-looking characters already in the game. This covering helps him stand out and reinforces the presence of the Los Illuminados cult in the game. The series also has a lot of severed deer and cow heads decorated around its many levels, so it was time to have a character actually wear one, according to Nakaoka.

He’s not a minotaur, though, and is merely an infected person wearing the head as a mask. Nakaoka mentioned that the team put a lot of detail into that distinction, as the mask doesn’t look at players and just flops around. And while Nakaoka said the studio didn’t intend on making a new enemy, it does bear a rough resemblance to a character in Resident Evil 4‘s original concept art.

And while not the focus of the video, it also has bits of gameplay from the cabin fight that’s about a quarter into the game (at least, in the original). It shows that players can board up windows like they could in the Resident Evil 2 remake, in addition to blasting, kicking, and stabbing the hordes pouring in. There are also come brief snippets of gameplay in the village during a rainstorm and one other location.

A post on Game Informer’s website also highlights how Capcom changed Ashley this time around. Players can click in the right stick to tell her stay close or keep distance, but it’s no longer possible to tell her to hide in a dumpster or bin like the original. Director Kazunori Kadoi said the team is trying to balance the feeling of protecting someone while also not making that subject a nuisance.

She doesn’t have a health bar, but she will go down after a few hits. If she get struck while she’s down, she dies. Enemies can also still carry her away, which also can result in a game over, but players can attack or execute the assailant to get her back. She can also now climb down ladders without Leon’s help and crawl through certain spaces to unlock doors, giving players incentive to revisit areas.

Capcom also tweaked her personality with the aim to make her more likable, saying she is more serious and will react more realistically to situations. This applies to her conversations with Leon, and this bond almost took form during gameplay, as there was one point where players could guide Ashley by the hand. However, this Ico-like feature was cut because it “looked like they were too close.”

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- Anthony Nash
Futurama Reboot Release Date Window Update Given by Voice Actress
Futurama Reboot Release Date Window Update Given by Voice Actress

Not too much is known about the upcoming Futurama revival at Hulu, but according to actress Lauren Tom, fans can expect it to arrive sometime soon.

Tom — who has lent her voice to the role of Amy Wong throughout the history of the show — recently took to Twitter to share a photo of herself and other members of the Futurama cast, at San Francisco’s comedy festival Sketchfest.

Hello #SanFrancisco ! Love from the #cast of #Futurama #sketchfest ❤

— Lauren Tom (@LaurenTom9000) January 29, 2023

In a reply to a fan, Tom also revealed that new episodes for the series should begin to release sometime this summer. It’s unclear just when the episodes will begin appearing, or just how many Hulu will release at once, but with the start of summer only four months away, fans shouldn’t have to wait much longer to see the beloved characters.

The new episodes should be released sometime this summer! Can’t wait for you to see them! #futurama

— Lauren Tom (@LaurenTom9000) January 29, 2023

The Futurama revival has been picked up for 20 new episodes. The original seasons of the series are available to stream now on Hulu. The show is produced by 20th Television and executive produced by Matt Groening and Cohen. Rough Draft Studios handles the animation.

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- Anthony Nash
Dave Bautista: Drax Has the Perfect Exit in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Dave Bautista: ‘I Just Don’t Know If I Want Drax to be My Legacy’

It’s no secret that Dave Bautista will step away from the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. According to the actor, the ending to his time in the MCU is so perfect, he can’t see himself ever returning.

During a recent appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Bautista spoke about his last time playing Drax. Bautista joked that he didn’t know why it was news that he’d be done, but noted that while it’s hard to walk away, he believes this film is “the perfect exit” for Drax.

“Yeah, it’s weird. I don’t know why it’s news,” Bautista said. “This is my seventh film as Drax and my third Guardians. It was like our trilogy. That’s kind of what we all signed up for, to do a trilogy. And I think this will be the last version of our Guardians of the Galaxy.”

Bautista went on to relate his time as Drax to his time as a WWE superstar and said that he would never come back in the role and “tarnish” what he’s been able to do.

“It’s hard, but it’s time,” said Bautista. “We all had those perfect character arcs and such a storybook ending. I constantly relate it to the way I ended my wrestling career. I ended it on a storybook note. And I would never go back and tarnish that. And it’s the same with this, with Drax, I just got to end in the perfect way. I would never sign up for another job as Drax just to get a paycheck.”

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is set to premiere in theaters on May 5, 2023.

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- Maggie Dela Paz
Blumhouse’s The Exorcist Sequel Adds Lidya Jewett
(Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

Nightbooks star Lidya Jewett has been cast to star opposite Ellen Burstyn in Blumhouse and Peacock’s direct sequel to William Friedkin’s iconic horror film The Exorcist. The film is still set to arrive in theaters on October 13.

According to Deadline, further details about her character are still being kept under wraps. She will be joining previously announced cast members Oscar nominee Leslie Odom Jr. (HamiltonOne Night in Miami) and Emmy winner Ann Dowd (The Handmaid’s Tale).

The Exorcist trilogy is not being developed as a remake. Rather, it serves as a direct sequel to the original horror feature, which was adapted from William Peter Blatty’s novel, with Halloween’s David Gordon Green directing from a screenplay he is co-writing with Scott Teems, Danny McBride, and Peter Sattler.

Oscar-winner Ellen Burstyn is returning to the franchise for the upcoming films, reprising her iconic role as Chris MacNeil over 40 years since the original film debuted in 1973, for which she received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

The sequel will be produced by Jason Blum, David Robinson, and James Robinson, with Green, McBride, and Couper Samuelson set to executive produce. It will be a co-production between Blumhouse and Morgan Creek Production, with Ryan Turek to oversee the project on behalf of Blumhouse.

The original The Exorcist centered around the sudden demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl named Regan (Linda Blair) after encountering an old Ouija board. In a last attempt to save Regan, two Roman Catholic priests (Max von Sydow, Jason Miller) are enlisted to conduct an exorcism on her.

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- Anthony Nash
MLB The Show 23 Collector’s Editions Detailed, Cover Star Revealed
MLB The Show 23 Collector's Edition Revealed

MLB The Show 23‘s cover star was revealed earlier this week, but the game doesn’t just have one athlete on the box. Baseball legend Derek Jeter announced that he will be on the collector’s editions when they release on March 28 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Nintendo Switch, as well as Game Pass for Xbox systems.

During an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the New York Yankees star said he would be in the game and also grace the cover of its more premium versions. In a post detailing the move, the PlayStation Blog also revealed more about what to expect from those expensive editions.

There will be two premium versions of the game — the digital deluxe edition and The Captain Edition — and those who buy either will get early access to MLB The Show 23. Early access begins on March 24, giving players a four-day head start.

The digital deluxe edition will be available for $99.99 and will include double daily login rewards, the current and last-gen version for Xbox and PlayStation users, and a ton of digital card packs to open. These consist of one Captain’s Choice Pack, one unannounced Uniform Choice Pack, five Gold Choice Packs, 20 Show Packs, one Ballplayer Pack, one Derek Jeter Cover art bat Skin, and 30,000 Stubs for the game’s Diamond Dynasty Mode.

MLB The Show 23 Collector's Edition Revealed

For those looking for a more physical version of the game, MLB The Show 23‘s The Captain Edition will also be available for $99.99. It includes many of the same digital rewards as the digital deluxe version, but in lower quantities, as players will only get 10,000 Stubs instead of 30,000, five The Show packs instead of 20, and two Gold Choice packs instead of five. This is to compensate for its physical offerings since this version includes a steelbook and New Era MLB The Show 9FIFTY Limited Edition hat. The Captain Edition for PlayStation systems contains a PS4 disc and PS5 download code.

Pre-orders for all editions of the game will go live on February 6 through select retailers and digital storefronts. Those who pre-order any edition get a Gold Choice Pack, too.

Developer San Diego Studio also revealed some information about the game’s upcoming technical test, noting that it will begin on February 15 and last through February 21, and that anyone with a PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, or Nintendo Switch can participate. Unlike previous years, no sign-up will be required for the technical test, as it will just be available to download for free beginning on February 15.

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- Lindsay Kusiak
Is The Guilty Based On A True Story? And Is Joe Baylor A Real Person?

Watching Jake Gyllenhaal’s The Guilty, it is not hard to believe that the dark thriller is portraying real events — so, is The Guilty based on a true story? Set to the backdrop of the California wildfires and with a subplot involving police brutality, The Guilty's story holds a certain sense of veracity. As The Guilty is a remake of the 2018 Danish film Den Skyldige, one would need to trace the story back to its source to find the truth. Though the subplot of The Guilty's main character, Joe Baylor (played by crime-movie star, Jake Gyllenhaal) involves an episode of police brutality that is not in the original Danish film, both films focus on a call-center operator becoming involved with a kidnapping.

- Bruno Yonezawa
Genshin Impact: How To Unlock The Orchard of Pairidaeza

Genshin Impact’s Orchard of Pairidaeza is one of Version 3.4’s main new areas and an in-game point of interest. However, access to it is quite limited as players have to complete a few prerequisite tasks before being able to reach it. The Orchard of Pairidaeza is also known as the Eternal Oasis and is located directly below Desert of Hadramaveth’s severe sandstorm in Mt. Damavand. It is an underground location, but simply walking toward it through mere tunnel entrances will not provide results.

- Brady Snyder
Galaxy S23 Ultra Vs. iPhone 14 Pro Max: Which Is The Better Flagship?

Samsung has unveiled the Galaxy S23 Ultra — the best smartphone the company has to offer — but how does it compare to the iPhone 14 Pro Max? Apple released its high-end smartphone in September 2022, highlighted by the Dynamic Island. That's given reviewers time to explore the device and uncover the pros and cons of using an iPhone 14 Pro Max on a day-to-day basis. With a new competitor entering the field, users now have to choose between Apple and Samsung's best offerings. Since each smartphone has a price tag of over a thousand dollars, picking an iPhone 14 Pro Max or an S23 Ultra is a huge investment.

- Caitlin Tyrrell
Amy's F It List Clip Showcases A Liberating Confrontation [EXCLUSIVE]

Screen Rant is thrilled to present an exclusive clip from the new dark comedy Amy's F It List. Amy is stuck in a monotonous life when she is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, which changes everything. Now, Amy has a reason to live life to the fullest, including calling out the jerks who have walked all over her. With the support and help of her sister, Amy decides to spend the last days she has left righting the wrongs that have plagued her.

- Charles Nicholas Raymond
Is Namor Really As Powerful As Hulk?

The comparison to the Hulk in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever raises questions about just how powerful Namor really is. Played by Tenoch Huerta, the Savage Sub-Mariner was depicted as a true MCU powerhouse in Black Panther 2 when he went up against the Wakandan army and nearly won.

- Thomas Lethbridge
How Old Paul & The Other Characters Are In All Quiet On The Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front is an incredibly affecting parable about the trauma of war, made more impactful b how old Paul and the other main characters are. Set in the fields of northern France in the final years of the First World War, the Oscar-nominated epic does an expert job of recreating the horrors of close-quarters early 20th Century combat. There's no doubt that part of what makes its fight scenes so effective is the relative youth and innocence of its main protagonists.

- Bryce Morris
Iron Man Fanart Proves His Villains Still Have Huge MCU Potential

The Marvel Cinematic Universe's first true superhero Tony Stark aka Iron Man may not have the most memorable group of villains in comics, but a new piece of fanart serves as a reminder that many of his rogues are still worthy of the MCU. After helping to lead the charge as a founding Avenger for more than a decade, 2019's Avengers Endgame saw the tragic demise of Iron Man. While Iron Man's death helped bring a satisfying end to the MCU's "Infinity Saga," there is a chance that Tony Stark and his remaining comic villains will be all but excluded from major upcoming MCU projects.

- Marcel Green
Ghost in the Shell Returns in Massive New Compilation

The new year has gotten off to a great start for fans of the cyberpunk manga classic Ghost in the Shell as Kodansha, the manga's long-time publisher drops a massive volume compiling all the works of Shirow Masamune, the creator of the original series, under one cover. With a history that spans three decades and has spawned multiple manga series, anime, and even a live-action movie, only the most dedicated fans Ghost in the Shell fans are likely to have the complete manga collection.

- Karissa Annis
How to Cross the Desert Near Nanohana in One Piece Odyssey

For those hoping to cross the Desert Near Nanohana in One Piece Odyssey, the Ravine of No Return presents a challenge. Players will have to cross the desert as part of the main story mission in Chapter 2, which is about the country of Alabasta. If players want to Relatdefeat Crocodile, they first have to conquer the desert.

- Corey Larson
The Mandalorian Season 3 Is Honoring Its Forgotten Droid In A Clever Way

In the latest trailer for The Mandalorian season 3, a very brief shot suggests that the show is referencing its favorite droid from season 1. Din Djarin and Grogu will be retracing their steps back to Nevarro, a planet that has been featured heavily in both The Mandalorian season 1 and season 2. In season 1, Nevarro was host to the Tribe of the Children of the Watch, the Mandalorian covert that Din was formerly a member of. The Tribe, and much of the people of Nevarro, were mostly wiped out when Moff Gideon and the Imperials took control of the planet from the Bounty Hunters’ Guild.

- Francesco Cacciatore
Boruto Confirms It's Close To Timeskip With New Boruto & Kawaki Designs

The Boruto manga confirms that it is very close to the timeskip that its readers have been waiting for, by launching a competition that fans of Naruto should be very familiar with, which will be rewarded with a first glimpse at the upcoming designs of future Boruto and Kawaki, drawn by Mikio Ikemoto.

- Tatiana Hullender
Tales From Fair Play's Sundance Premiere

Fair Play came out of this year's Sundance Film Festival as one of its biggest winners, having been sold to Netflix for $20M. This was an even more impressive feat, considering it was filmmaker Chloe Domont's feature film debut as director and writer — though she has previously proven her mettle with television series such as Ballers and Billions. The romantic thriller dives into the cutthroat world of finance, where the ambitions of the wealthy (or those aspiring to be so) matter much more than any relationships they once held dear.

- Gina Wurtz
90 Day Fiancé Fans Think Daniele Is 'Running From Something'

90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way star Daniele Gates is fleeing New York for the Dominican Republic, and fans think she's running away from something. 90 Day Fiancé fans first met Daniele and her husband, Yohan Geronimo, on Love In Paradise: The Caribbean. The New York yoga instructor met Yohan in a hotel lobby while she was on vacation and, despite their language barrier, knew she wanted to be with him. Yohan wants to move to New York to start a life with Daniele, but without telling him, she has already planned to move to the Dominican Republic.

- Thomas West
Nathan Lane’s 007 Joke Would Actually Be A Perfect (But Impossible) Movie

Nathan Lane’s claim that he had been cast as the new 007 in James Bond was, as is usually the case with the actor, tongue in cheek, but it was also a surprisingly good concept for a new movie. One of the most notable things about James Bond as a character is that he has been played by many different actors over the course of his existence. Each of the men chosen to portray 007 have brought something new to the role, while also staying true to the basic elements of his personality and values. As such, Bond represents both an opportunity and a challenge to anyone stepping into his shoes.

- Christopher Davis
What Happened To Johnny After Married At First Sight Season 13

Johnny Lam had a controversial experience in Married At First Sight season 13, but since his heartbreaking rejection on Decision Day, the former husband has steered clear of drama. Johnny's contentious relationship with Bao Hoang made the IT project manager one of the least popular cast members from that season, but Johnny hasn't succumbed to everyone's perception of him. From spending quality time with his Married At First Sight castmates to rumors of embarking on a new romance, Johnny has been busy since MAFS season 13.

- Justin Epps
Watchmen Proved One Comedian Fan Theory Is Totally Wrong

A look back at the life of the Comedian reveals that one popular Watchmen fan theory is actually completely wrong. Before Watchmen: Comedian #1 shows that Edward Blake is actually innocent of high-profile murder that's been pinned on him for years.

- Brennan Klein
Why TVD Creator's New Vampire Show Was Cancelled Explained By Peacock Exec

Vampire Academy's cancellation has been addressed by one of the executives in charge. The series, which is a new adaptation of the novel series of the same name by Richelle Mead, was created by The Vampire Diaries co-creator Julie Plec and star Marguerite MacIntyre. The series, which premiered on Peacock in September 2022, ran for 10 episodes and was subsequently cancelled in January.

- Gabriel Ponniah
Moneyball: What Happened To Paul DePodesta (The Real Peter Brand)

Jonah Hill's character in Moneyball, Peter Brand, has an intriguing real-life story, beginning with the fact that his real name is in fact Paul DePodesta. DePodesta was the inspiration for Hill's unexpected mastermind of the analytics approach at the center of the 2011 baseball drama that reinvents the fortunes of Billy Beane's (Brad Pitt) Oakland A's. Indeed, in real life, Paul DePodesta's net worth has skyrocketed due to his contributions to the game. Moneyball considerably changed Michael Lewis' book, and some of that work went into reinventing the real-life story of Paul and Billy Beane's journey to the cutting edge of sports management.

- Kai Young
Ant-Man 3 Can Set Up A Big Fantastic Four Battle (Thanks To 1 Character)

One character's introduction in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania can help to set up some major MCU storylines, particularly one featuring the Fantastic Four. Marvel Studios has been releasing more information in the build-up to Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania's release in February 2023, which will see Paul Rudd suit up once again as Ant-Man, traveling into the Quantum Realm with his size-changing team of heroes to go toe-to-toe with Kang the Conqueror, a variant of Jonathan Majors' He Who Remains from Loki. As well as developing established MCU characters, Quantumania will introduce several new heroes who have made the Quantum Realm their home.

- Devin Friend
Pathfinder's Best Witch Hexes To Try Out In Your Next Adventure

Hexes are one of the best parts of playing a witch in Pathfinder, and the best hexes elevate the class to make it an amazing option. Having what are essentially extra spells can be one of the biggest perks a class can have, especially ones with strong effects. The right hexes can make witches into one of Pathfinder's best casters.

- Charles Bramesco
Jake Gyllenhaal takes on the Taliban in the first trailer for The Covenant

It’s uncommon but not unheard of for a director to premiere two feature films in the space of a calendar year, but in the United States, Guy Ritchie‘s going to do the likes of Hong Sang-soo one better by releasing new films in consecutive months. Operation Fortune (which was supposed to be out in 2022, but was held due to studio anxieties about running a movie featuring Ukrainian villains while the country was under siege by Russia) is going to be in American cinemas come March, and a thriller in the midst of a different war will be along shortly afterward in April.

The first trailer for The Covenant arrived online today, putting Ritchie in a more straight-faced tone than we’ve seen from his recent string of laddish gangster pictures and IP jobs. Situating a fictional tale of heroism and revenge during the US occupation of Afghanistan, he strikes a political note not so familiar to his filmography of action-comedies safely ensconced within their genre.

Jake Gyllenhaal portrays Sgt. John Kinley, a soldier in the military’s anti-Taliban effort who narrowly survives an attack from enemy combatants, his life saved by the intervention of Afghan interpreter Ahmed (Dar Salim). He carries the wounded troop across miles of desert back to safety, but upon returning home to his wife (Emily Beecham), John then learns Ahmed has not been granted safe passage to America as promised for his service. A one-man extraction mission is his only hope, and John has a debt to pay.

As is the case with much of the Ritchie oeuvre, this is guy stuff, its focus on macho themes of honor, vengeance, and duty time-honored in the war-picture tradition. But as much as he’s placed himself in his own wheelhouse, it seems Ritchie’s also veered into testy territory in terms of subject matter, opening himself up to critiques about his film’s unavoidable stance-taking on race and international relations.

But because this is a Guy Ritchie film, the real draw is the gunplay and explosions, the butch melodrama in the character work balanced out with raw testosterone in the elaborately choreographed fight sequences. In between all his Taliban-smashing, Gyllenhaal even gets to do the tough-guy thing of running away from a detonation without looking behind him, every actor’s greatest dream.

The Covenant comes to cinemas in the US on 21 April. A date for the UK has yet to be set.

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- Kambole Campbell
Why Inu-Oh deserves the Oscar for Best Production Design

In a new series, we’re celebrating the films we loved that aren’t likely to dominate the awards race. Over the new few weeks, our writers make passionate arguments for the performances and craft that stood out to them, from blockbusters to arthouse and everything in between.

“Animation is not a fucking genre, animation is film”, so director Guillermo del Toro has repeatedly stressed during the the press tour for his adaptation of Pinocchio with co-director Mark Gustafson. His admirable reinforcement of the multifaceted nature of the art form and insistence that it’s not something trivial or solely a children’s pursuit has been continually boosted by other enthusiasts and animation industry professionals.

But as far as the Academy is concerned it’s business as usual, with no indication they’ll be changing their ways anytime soon. It’s not so much that the wrong films are being honoured – despite a lack of 2D animation this year actually has a decent lineup consisting of del Toro’s Pinocchio, Turning Red, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish and Marcel the Shell With Shoes On. There’s some variety despite some puzzling omissions – and a distinct lack of international film – but this year had me wondering more about the ways that animation doesn’t get treated with the same breadth that live action films do.

As Alberto Mielgo said at the 2022 ceremony, “animation is an art that includes every single art that you can imagine”, and it’s rare that animated films get such recognition beyond their cordoned-off segment of the ceremony, a whole umbrella of different artforms flattened into one homogenous category. The most representation any animated features get outside of this is probably in the soundtrack and original song categories, as far as Disney is concerned anyway. So as well as insisting that Inu-Oh, the latest film by Masaaki Yuasa, also obviously should be standing in the Best Animated Feature category, I would also argue that it deserves its place in the technical categories beyond that too.

In an ideal world where all the facets of international animated work got their deserved props, Inu-Oh would also be sitting comfortably in production design. Why not? Avatar: The Way of Water, which is nominated in that category, is a film that’s mostly animated through its motion capture performances and computer generated backgrounds, so it’s not unthinkable.

Before 2012 the award for Best Production Design was originally Best Art Direction, and was expanded to include set designers and decorators – an all-encompassing celebration of the artists who make film interiors. Animation, of course, has production design and art direction too, and Inu-Oh’s is exceptional for its playfulness with visuals that feel both anachronistic and traditional.

The story itself is set around 600 years ago, in a period of new rule after the Heike Clan were destroyed at the Battle of Dan-no-ura. Reminders of the clan are held  only in lost artefacts and the songs of travelling Biwa priests, reciting historical stories through music. The central premise of Inu-Oh is this: what if the Noh performers of this time conducted themselves with the music, looks and attitudes of contemporary rockstars, the moves of ballet dancers and break dancers?

In his presentation of these anachronisms, Yuasa’s continual formal experimentation proves as enthralling as ever. The art direction from Hideki Nakamura incorporates different styles from across time, evoking Japanese paintings from across time in backgrounds that build upon the varied styles of Yuasa’s past work. Even as the film leans into the supernatural, Nobutake Ito’s character designs (originally designed by manga author Taiyō Matsumoto) keep things feeling grounded, accentuating little human flaws.

One thing that stands out is  while Yuasa’s direction often leans into abstraction and expressionism, Inu-Oh also emphasises tactility and realism in certain places to make its placement of modern stagecraft and performance in the past feel believable. This goes right down to the design of the sets and stages on which Tomona and Inu-Oh perform, as the movie shows with great intricacy the technical logistics and the effects work of the concerts, to the point that the mechanics feel utterly real.

I’ve spoken before about these moments as some of my favourites of the film, and how it presents the magic of the duo’s shows –  for example, we see brief flashes of how the stages and props are physically operated, and there’s just enough operational detail shown that for just a moment it feels as though they’re not objects fully within the director’s control.

This is still only just one small, uncanny moving part: an early standout sequence melts away much of the environment and softens its artwork in representation of Tomona’s experience of the world after losing his sight (I would give the same sequence as a case for Inu-Oh also deserving props in the sound categories – songs included). Throughout its relatively short running time, so many different styles of drawing, painting and movement are seamlessly sewn together; it’s a variety of sensory pleasures unrivalled by so many cinematic contemporaries, and it has just as much ambition and visual wizardry as the films chosen for the actual Production Design shortlist.

If Inu-Oh’s nature as a 2D (and sometimes 3D) animated film is a barrier to consideration in this category, then you could also take the production design of Pinocchio (plus Netflix’s other 2022 stop-motion feature, Henry Selick’s Wendell & Wild) as a reminder that stop-motion animated films do astonishing work with physical sets, costumes and props themselves. Take also Phil Tippett’s gross-out odyssey Mad God, which along with Pinocchio’s Curt Enderle and Guy Davis has been picked out for Best Production Design at the Annie Awards, awarded by the International Animated Film Association.

The rather controversial choice to create a siloed-off Best Animated Film category was made in 2001, seemingly to avoid nominating Shrek for Best Picture, and ever since then winners have been whatever Disney or Pixar produced film came out that year (Shrek, Spirited Away, Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse being the notable exceptions). Following the 2017 rule change to allow voters outside of the animation profession to vote – as Sam Summers observes in his 2018 piece for Vox – the category’s support for both international and indie animation has dwindled while the gap between this and say, something like the Annies has widened. One wonders if Alê Abreu’s upcoming film Perlimps will receive the same kind of recognition as Boy and the World did. It’s easy to handwave this as yet another sign of the unseriousness of mainstream awards shows, of how out of touch Academy voters are, but as Summers points out, there’s a tangible effect that it has on the exhibition and viewership of certain films, what might get introduced to an audience beyond dedicated enthusiasts.

Perhaps recognition in technical categories outside of the animation industry’s own awards ceremonies would do the same on a macro level, reinforcing the idea of all of the different arts and practices that go into animation. Barring some rather thorough rule changes as well as changes in perception of animated mediums, it won’t happen because of the way that Academy voters are – they seem difficult to convince to watch any animation that isn’t Disney-produced, let alone anything international. Maybe this could be fixed if more animation industry voters were picked up, but I can’t pretend to know about such insider technicalities.

It’s not as though the effort put into animated films goes totally unrecognised – the Annies and other animation industry awards shows exist to recognise these creatives, and break down category awards for animated film to this extent (though naturally, high profile domestic features pick up the most nominations over international or underground productions). The Oscars are far from the only awards stage that matters. But it’s nice to imagine a state where the technical prowess of animated films are treated with respect on an equal level to the live-action films which the Academy Awards supposedly champion – a reminder that there’s more they can (and should!) be given credit for.

The post Why Inu-Oh deserves the Oscar for Best Production Design appeared first on Little White Lies.

- David Jenkins
Ten highlights from the 2023 Rotterdam Film Festival

And we’re back… As film festivals across the globe strained to adjust to the logistical (and emotional!) tumult of the pandemic, Rotterdam found itself having to hit the bench for two editions, delivering largely digital-focused festivals. In 2023 they return with a vengeance (and, understandably, a tighter budget) to celebrate a cinema that is touched by experimentation and high artistry, one that not so much sits on the fringes of the mainstream, but exists as its own vanguard for the challenging, the thought-provoking, the passionate and the personal. As a moderately long-time attendee of the festival, it’s the place you go to find something new, with young filmmakers testing the tensile strength of the medium, and old hands being unafraid to mark their work with an auteurist stamp. So on that note, here are a couple of highlights.

10. The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Péter Lichter)

This ingenious Hungarian cut-up job sees cine-alchemist Péter Lichter plundering an archive of over 100 silent film prints and filching any fleeting moments that connect to the plot of Agatha Christine’s first Poirot novel, 1920’s ‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles’. So as the text is being intoned and subtitled on the screen, we have a cascade of images featuring dastardly cads and tragic dowagers (and there’s added layers of DOS loading screens and 1990s PC games such as Doom thrown into the mix). It’s a fun, clever lark, but would work like gangbusters if you knew Hungarian, as it’s very tough to read the dense subtitles and lavish in the torrent of images at the same time.

9. Mange ta Soupe (Mathieu Amalric)

Mathieu Amalric has said he’s dialling back the acting to focus on his first loves: directing and music. Having recently been touring a set of video pieces made in collaboration with the experimental jazz saxophonist John Zorn, he swung by Rotterdam to present a new 2K restoration of his fruity 1995 directorial debut, Mange ta Soupe, a slice of madcap memoir about a son returning home to his ageing literary critic mother who has barricaded herself in with piles of books covering every wall and most doors. It’s a zingy French farce that proves Amalric was always as dab a hand behind the camera as he is in front. Hopefully a Blu-ray will be incoming…

8. Okiku and the World (Sakamoto Junji)

Probably the best Edo-era Japanese black-and-white Academy ratio romcom about the burgeoning love between a timid schoolteacher with a slashed throat and a surprisingly buff “manure man” – paid for collecting human slop from tenement latrines and shipping it to the countryside to be used for fertiliser. If you can get over the sound effects used for the sloshing of faecal slurry, this classically-mounted love story from Japanese veteran Sakamoto Junji combines intriguing counter history with a genuinely touching meeting of random hearts (with poo).

7. Clementina (Constanza Feldman and Agustín Mendilaharzu)

There was a fair bit of pandemic cinema at this year’s festival, and Constanza Feldman and Agustín Mendilaharzu’s Clementina proved that harking back to our collective memories of domestic imprisonment didn’t have to be a drag. Feldman plays the Tati-like title character who goes around her daily routines set to a symphony of OTT foley cues, while the film itself plays like a wry satire of the arduous process and sometimes heartbreaking process we go through to make a house a home. Wins inaugural award for finest final shot of the festival.

6. Kunstkamera (Jan Švankmajer)

We all know when it comes to personal collections of arcane curiosities, Guillermo del Toro rules the roost. What 88-year-old Czech stop-motion maestro and dedicated surrealist Jan Švankmajer is saying to del Toro is: hold my lopsided and bejewelled flagon of beer. Kunstkamera operates as an enervating and emotional last will and testament, as it consists of a visual itinerary of his and his late wife’s considerable art holdings set to the music of Vivaldi (played both forward and backwards). The art itself is completely wild and unique, most of which seems like it was salvaged from as-yet-undiscovered cultures on distant moons, but the film operates as a lament to that old saying about a life spent amassing material possessions: “You can’t take it with you.”

5. Girlfriends and Girlfriends (Zaida Carmona)

The beauty of film festivals is just taking a roll of the dice and watching something that corresponds to a slot you happen to have in your schedule. Such was the case with Zaida Carmona’s Girlfriends and Girlfriends, a fond and flighty tribute to the partner-swapping, bed-hopping antics in the films of French director Eric Rohmer. Carmona is superb in the lead as she ponders some rebound romance in the shadow of heartbreak, and it’s all set to an incredible soundtrack by Barcelona’s soon-to-be electro-pop sensation, Maisonieria. Seek it out.

4. Haramuya (Drissa Touré)

Without doubt the most moving moment of this year’s festival came in a post film Q&A by Burkinan director Drissa Touré who, at the age of 70, has been subsisting as a wood seller since the late 90s. The festival presented retrospective screenings of his two directorial efforts, 1991’s Laada, and 1995’s Haramuya, the latter of which led to his ostracisation, not only from the film community but also his own family. Touré made the film after seeing Robert Altman’s Short Cuts, and it consists of much scandal and vice on the streets of Ouagadougou. Its trenchant critique of a corrupt Imam even led Touré to renounce his Muslim faith. Needless to say, Touré is someone whose work should be seen and celebrated fare and wide.

3. Sunshine State (Steve McQueen)

This extraordinary installation piece from filmmaker Steve McQueen was a Rotterdam highlight, and compounds the festival’s reputation for championing serious artist filmmaking (it’s one of a number of such presentations). The 20-minute piece sees McQueen narrating a story, told to him by his late father while on his deathbed, regarding a violent racist encounter he suffered when working as an orange-picker in Florida in the 1950s. On the screen, remixed footage from the 1927 film The Jazz Singer contextualises and critiques ingrained racist attitudes as Al Jolson is seen merrily applying blackface over and over again while gabbing with a chorus girl. It’s a tremendous work, bludgeoning and wholly effective transmitting a sense of howling rage.

2. Trenque Lauquen (Laura Citarella)

I had heard whispers that this was a good one from its screenings at the Venice Film Festival in 2022, but nothing quite prepared me for Laura Citarella’s existential opus that is, boiled down, about a passionate woman who changes her mind. Set in the fairly glum city of Trenque Lauquen, it’s four-and-a-half our runtime is split into two chapters, the first of which sees a couple uncover a quaint mystery when they discover a series of love letters hidden in library books, and then the second, well… let’s just say that say something happens which completely monopolises the woman’s attention and she suddenly pivots to something else. Despite the runtime, this is now slow cinema – it’s a completely engrossing, surprising and, eventually, transcendent, albeit in a melancholy sort of way.

1. The entire 2023 Tiger Competition

This year I was pulling double-duty as both journalist and moderator, in that I was given the delightful and rewarding task of hosting a series of press conferences with the makers of the 16 films pitted against one another for this year’s Tiger Award. These titles – all first or second films – ranged from speculative queer history (Georden West’s Playland) and an Iranian kindergarten comedy (Amir Toodehroosta’s Numb), to nakedly revealing auto portraits (Giovanni Bucchieri’s 100 Seasons, Guido van der Werve’s The Breath of Life), lilting summer romances (Diego Llorente’s Notes from a Summer) and snappy lockdown farces (Lukas Nathrath’s One Last Night), to namecheck just a handful of the films. It’s a competition that promotes free, true and idiosyncratic expression, and even while attempting to remain diplomatic, I can honestly say that any one of these films could justifiably pick up the big prize and I wouldn’t bat an eyelid.

The 2023 International Film Festival Rotterdam runs from 25 January to 5 February. For more information on the line-up and prizes, head to

The post Ten highlights from the 2023 Rotterdam Film Festival appeared first on Little White Lies.

- Xuanlin Tham

Collectively we’ve never been more disillusioned with marriage: an awareness of the social contract’s gendered distribution of labour, in tandem with women’s increasing candidness regarding their emotionally, sexually, and politically dissatisfying relationships with men, has meant we’re perhaps more inclined to say, “it’s not for me” than gush over Pinterest boards for wedding receptions. As Shon Faye recently wrote, heterosexuality is going through a PR crisis – with marriage perhaps at the forefront. 

Husband, a documentary directed by social contract co-signatories/married couple Devorah Baum and Josh Appignanesi (and sequel to 2017’s The New Man), jostles into this burning house without any desire to extinguish the flames: it’s actually quite at home there. Ostensibly following academic Devorah’s New York book tour, the blatantly-titled ‘Husband’ documents how Josh manages to centre the entire trip around himself and the film he’s making – which is the film we’re watching. As he talks a mile a minute, complaining about the filmmaking process, gabbing about his insecurities and hardly allowing a second of respite from his incessant commentary, Josh drowns out Devorah’s anxieties about her book tour with an impressively verbose demonstration of psychological manspreading. The irony that Devorah’s book, ‘Feeling Jewish’, is about the importance of having space to feel one’s emotions, is milked dry. 

When Josh demands that Devorah recreate a conversation that happened off-camera, her tired discomfort with the film is palpable – but then we remember that she’s also its co-director, contriving a truly odd premise. They’ve chosen to make a film that’s both stressful and inconvenient for Devorah and terribly unflattering for Josh, even though its lack of concern with appearing at all naturalistic reminds us that the narrative is always under the couple’s control.

The fourth wall burned down a while back (along with the untarnished reputation of marital union), making Husband less “documentary” than auto-fiction germinating in non-fictional circumstances. It’s determined to smack us upside the head with just how meta its meta-narrative is – or less solipsistically, how eager it is to confirm that marriage is, in fact, performance art.

Talking about being in New York, Josh says, “I can’t work out if I’m hating every minute of this, or if I’m completely elated and delighted.” This rather sums up how it feels to watch Husband. The film’s blaring artificiality is exhausting, and it’s hard to imagine stomaching it for much longer than its 70-minute runtime. Like watching the kind of play where they’ve clearly thought it’s very chic and intellectual to leave all the wiring exposed on stage, Husband makes you wish there was a tad more illusion draped onto its stark frame.

What truly works the least in its favour is Devorah’s brilliance – as we sit in on her book event chaired by Zadie Smith, the two authors’ conversation is so fascinating that it throws into relief just how little we’d rather be watching the rest of it. Yes, that’s the point, meta-cinema, et cetera. Unfortunately, “the point” of Husband is still less interesting than the Wife, and only seems to get in the way. 

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If marriage is a flaming trash heap, maybe we can find creative ways for it to still keep us warm. 4

An undeniably grating watch, even if that’s plainly deliberate. 2

Formally cheeky and audacious, but leaves you wishing it wasn’t. 3

Directed by
Josh Appignanesi, Devorah Baum

Devorah Baum, Josh Appignanesi

The post Husband appeared first on Little White Lies.

- Leila Latif
Alice Diop: ‘A fictional space could reveal my point of view’

The Saint Omer press tour has been intense for Alice Diop. “My first interview was a Black journalist who asked me just one question, then she started crying, and we fell apart together.” The writer/director nods toward my typed-out questions and smiles, “You are very, very dangerous for me.” But while she may have to endure the weight of festival audiences weeping and journalists’ raw emotions, she feels this has ultimately achieved her goal.

“I had a conviction, and I put faith in the story’s political statement. I wrote with the intention of moving people, but I couldn’t anticipate such intensity.” Her elegant but harrowing tale is of Rama (Kayije Kagame), an academic sitting in on the trial of a woman accused of infanticde. Diop’s film placed her in a vulnerable position as it is deeply personal and her protagonist’s life and story resembles her own. But it has received love letters from critics, won the Silver Lion and Lion of The Future award at the Venice Film Festival and was selected as France’s entry to the Academy Awards.

That political statement was clear at Venice where Diop ended her acceptance speech with the words, “Our silence will not protect us”. She was quoting the African-American poet and civil rights activist Audre Lorde who, like Diop, saw her creative talent as a tool to confront injustice. But a few eyebrows were raised as Diop received the Lion of The Future award, as this seemed to ignore the fact she had directed seven documentaries prior to Saint Omer. Diop herself sees “no hierarchy between fiction and documentary” and, given the festival’s top prize was awarded to Laura Poitras’ All The Beauty And The Bloodshed, labelling Saint Omer Diop’s debut was all the more puzzling.

Diop’s actual filmmaking debut came in 2005 with La Tour Du Monde which saw her return to the working-class neighbourhood of her youth which she had left behind in order to confront the guilt that came from that decision while also shining a light on the disenfranchised and the destitute. It’s atheme that becomes a throughline in her work, and there’s a sense that Diop is fascinated by things that mainstream thinkers studiously neglect. In 2011’s Danton’s Death Diop’s subject is the budding young actor Steve Tientcheu.

Like Diop, Tientcheu is from The City of 3000, a poor Parisian suburb. He is accepted into the prestigious acting school Le Cours Simon with dreams of stardom on stage and screen. But together, Diop and Tientcheu discover the agonising cultural barriers that lie ahead, where the theatre world wishes only to see him play broad stereotypes. (It’s worth noting that, in the decade since he said it on camera, Tientcheu’s dream of starring in films that premiere at “Cannes and Venice” has come true.) 2016’s Cesarwinning Towards Tenderness saw her tackle the fragile façades of young men, exposing the tender core encased in masculine bravado.

That same year Diop filmed in a Parisian refugee medical centre and captured the struggle of communicating care across a cultural divide. The penultimate film before her “debut” was 2021’s We which follows the communities along the RER B commuter train line and is composed as a rich tapestry of the city’s most unrepresented and dispossessed people. Her lyrical composition and studied approach to her subjects’ lives amounts to a sumptuous act of defiance of the status quo.

So it is no wonder that when Diop saw an image of Fabienne Kabou in a newspaper, she felt she could see what others could not. “It was a still the police put out,” she explains. “A security camera had captured the woman they were looking for pushing a pushchair at the station. I immediately understood that she was Senegalese, and then, as her trial approached, my interest kept increasing. I had a strange intuition about her, almost recognising myself in this woman.”

Kabou was accused of killing her baby Adelaide by leaving her on the beach as the tide came in. Beyond the horrifying act itself, Diop became increasingly troubled by how Kabou was depicted in the media. “I read this woman was an intellectual writing a thesis on Wittgenstein,” she says, “yet in contrast, she was accused of witchcraft. The French media said she’s got an incredible way of speaking French, but obviously she’s going to speak very well if she’s doing a thesis on Wittgenstein. It was essentially racist.”

She became “obsessed” with the case, and when Kabou’s trial began Diop – then pregnant with her first child – travelled North to the town of Saint Omer near Calais convinced she would be able to truly see Kabou. She arrived with a fixed perception but, by her own admission, was “totally wrong.” She continues, “I knew that Fabienne couldn’t be what was promoted by the racist thoughts of journalists, so I told myself that only I can understand her as a Black woman.” Yet, in the many months before the trial, Diop had entangled both Kabou and her white partner into the narrative of a 5th century Greek tragedy, where a woman is driven to infanticide by her husband’s treachery. “Madea was a victim of Jason, and I came to the jail with that story. I wanted to see what kind of Jason her partner Michel Lafon was.”

The reality was far more complex, and all of Diop’s presumptions had to be re-evaluated. “Even the Wittgenstein thesis was a complete lie,” she explains. “But the title she invented still meant something. She picked one of the hardest philosophers to grasp.” The 20th century philosopher’s works are notoriously impenetrable, having published two books on language and logic that entirely undermine one another. “Even in her lies,” Diop adds, “she’s telling us to see her as a person of contradictions.” Having observed the trial first hand and duly confronted by those contradictions and the details of the most devastating crimes imaginable, Diop, “realised it needed to be a film.”

But it was, “too late to film it for a documentary, so it had to be fiction. But by going into a fictional space, it could reveal my point of view.” Beyond a more abstract lens, there was also a literal reframing of the story in the choice to “embed these Black bodies at the centre of the frame that are normally on the side – it makes you really study them.”

Saint Omer’s protagonist, Rama (Kayije Kagame), has many obvious parallels to Diop. But she is more than just a screen proxy: “She’s the conduit of the universality of the story. Rama could have been a white writer, and it would’ve been universal as well, but making her a Black woman adds a political level to the film.”

Diop isn’t a didactic filmmaker, but those politics appear naked, and she pays open tribute to Marguerite Duras, the novelist and filmmaker who used her work to expose the horrors of colonialism and racism through a distinct feminist lens. Diop introduces us to Rama giving a lecture on Duras, speaking over her “images of women being shaved for being collaborators during the war.” But beyond establishing the filmmaking lineage that Diop sees herself as part of she wanted to, “get to the essence of who Rama is before she becomes a silent figure in the courtroom. She’s at this most elite of academic places, speaking about Marguerite Duras, and the film shows her embedded in French culture and history.”

This is quickly followed up by a scene of Rama being ill at ease attending a family dinner, where there is a complete disconnect with her mother. “She doesn’t speak in the Senegalese dialect of Wolof, but her family is watching something in Wolof. It sets up Rama’s contradictions and those of being a Black French woman.” That idea spoke to Diop’s own complex personal identity, and her relationship to her Senegalese heritage. “Essentially, I am French. All my culture is French, but I discovered Ousmane Sembène too late. I come to films in Wolof as an outsider. And Rama’s identity is the point of view of the film.”

The trial location was key to Diop, highlighting the unlikelihood of a Black woman receiving a fair hearing in the eyes of the state. “We are situated in this working class, smallish town and that’s where the jury is coming from.” While the media were quick to stereotype Fabienne Kabou, Diop’s equivalent character Laurence Coly (Guslagie Mlanga) adopts a position that is made all the more precarious as a “Black woman in this space who’s being judged by these particular people with a mentality that of emblematic of certain towns in the north.”

Though the film, too, is frequently devastating, Diop’s point of view remains distinct and avoids the regular cinematic beats one would expect from such a courtroom-based story. No crucial piece of evidence unlocks the mystery; there are no easy answers or rousing speeches. Indeed, she cuts away moments into the prosecution’s concluding arguments. For Diop, it’s not really a trial film. “It’s about who this woman was,” she says, which means fixing the camera closely on the defence lawyer as she delivers a speech on “chimaera” and the foundational monstrosity of women.

Diop wrote the speech to be so powerful that, had been in the trial, she would’ve been acquitted. “I’m looking straight out at each spectator and making them a member of the jury. I am explaining why we should acquit.” The speech is a triumph of writing, filmmaking and performance, and the courtroom’s women collapse in unison with the audience. Like Diop’s first interview, there’s a catharsis in being permitted to simply “fall apart together.”

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- Hannah Strong
Knock at the Cabin

First there was the beach break from hell in Old, and now a countryside cabin is about to get a decidedly negative review on TripAdvisor – Knock at the Cabin is M Night Shyamalan’s second film in as many years to focus on a family whose idyllic escape is interrupted by an ominous outside threat.

While the carnage in Old was the result of both allegorical greed and a weird natural phenomenon, the threat here is something more mysterious, as a group of strangers proclaim the apocalypse is nigh and only the cabin’s unsuspecting inhabitants have the power to stop it.

Attempting to relax in rural Pittsburgh are husbands Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge) along with their young daughter Wen (Kristen Chui). While collecting grasshoppers in the overgrown field outside the cabin, Wen is approached by Leonard (Dave Bautista), a meek but imposing stranger who asks if the pair can be friends. Despite her initial scepticism, Wen warms to Leonard after he demonstrates his own grasshopper-catching skills. All the while, a group of other figures loom from the tree line, and it becomes clear that something odd is going on.

Leonard and his associates Redmond (Rupert Grint), Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird) and Adriane (Abby Quinn) are armed with peculiar, severe-looking weapons, and inform the family that they have to make an impossible choice in order to prevent the forthcoming apocalypse: they must willingly sacrifice one of their own. Eric and Andrew are understandably sceptical, assuming Leonard and co to be a band of wandering psychopaths. Though tension mounts as the group become increasingly frenetic and evidence builds that there might be some truth to this bizarre claim.

The twin themes of family and sacrifice have recurred throughout Shymalan’s films, and Knock at the Cabin – while an adaptation of Paul G Tremblay’s ‘The Cabin at the End of the World’ rather than a totally original story – fits in nicely to his oeuvre. There’s a sense he cares deeply about his characters, never wishing to inflict unnecessary pain and suffering upon them, which is no mean feat in a horror film.

Shyamalan achieves this by conveying a sense of deep urgency, which gives the decision at the film’s core a real sense of grave importance, and his rather radical alterations to the third act of Tremblay’s text actually work well within the context of the story he’s has decided to tell.

Shyamalan’s an optimist, see, despite what the macabre tone of so much of his work would have you believe. Films like The Sixth Sense, The Village and even Split are imbued with a belief in human connection and strength. In Knock at the Cabin, it’s impressive how much character development the filmmaker packs into a 100-minute runtime, particularly given there are eight players in the cast. As always he’s skilled at picking his actors, with Bautista demonstrating a soft intensity that feels quite different from his past work, while young newcomer Chui a total natural in front of the camera.

If there is one major issue with Knock at the Cabin’s execution, it’s that the story does feel a little rushed – the action supposedly takes place over a couple of days, but we don’t gain much insight into the evenings, and it’s a little difficult to believe that a family being held captive would obediently sleep through the night without attempting to break free. But there’s still a great deal to admire, in particular the rich cinematography of Jarin Blaschke (best known for his collaborations with Robert Eggers) which creates a pleasing contrast from the sinister scenario, and the affection with which Shyamalan treats all his characters. Sure, there’s violence, but there’s a whole lot of love too.

Enjoyed the novel, excited for Shymalan’s twist. 4

Bautista is on excellent form. 3

Rushed but effective holiday horror. 3

Directed by
M Night Shyamalan

Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff, Rupert Grint, Ben Aldridge

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- Finlay van der Vossen
How blockbuster eco-disaster films impact our relationship with climate change

Wrapping your head around anthropogenic climate change can often leave one feeling frustrated and defeated. The problem calls for our urgent attention and immediate action, but many of its dangerous consequences – such as species loss or global warming – are slow, verging on generational. It is this principle of climate change that can cause the issue to easily slip out of our day-to-day collective consciousness, and allow it to perennially loom in the background of our lives.

Every few years, media coverage of climate change is disrupted by a big blockbuster eco-disaster movie, thrusting the conversation about the role movies play in our climate discourse back into the mainstream. Back in 2004, the release and success of Roland Emmerich’s The Day After Tomorrow received an inordinate amount of American press coverage, scientific scrutiny, right-wing hysteria, and endorsements from prominent political figures like Al Gore. Since then, the genre has seen an influx of releases, each with varying degrees of success, and each with vastly different scientific accuracy. Audience appetite for these films has slowly declined over time, with newer releases such as 2017’s Geostorm and 2022’s Moonfall struggling to prove financially viable.

But perhaps the eco-disaster genre is too easily dismissed as simple schlocky popcorn entertainment. Could it be that we are overlooking a key player in our environmental discourse? One uniquely positioned to bring the violence of climate change into our collective cognisance? Movies within the eco-disaster genre apply so many unique and wonderful tools that have the capacity to totally transform our relationship with climate change, even if it is just for a two-hour run time.

Take for instance the presentation of time within an eco-disaster movie. Early into The Day After Tomorrow, Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid), an American paleoclimatologist, is presenting his research at a UN global warming conference in New Delhi. Jack has found that 10,000 years ago global warming brought about an Ice Age, entirely transforming the planet’s climate. Jack explains that if humanity continues its current rate of burning fossil fuels and polluting the environment as forecast, a new Ice Age will occur in 100 to 1,000 years from now.

This becomes the only moment where the climate disaster is communicated on a timescale even relatively close to that of which we have come to expect in our climate discourse. When Jack’s forecasted climate catastrophe begins to unfold over a matter of days, not decades, the film entirely shatters our temporal experience of climate change.

In Tokyo, hail the size of footballs fatally pour down on the city. Los Angeles is devastated by multiple tornados, tearing down buildings and shattering the Hollywood sign. New Delhi is hit by a snowstorm, and Nova Scotia is victim to a tidal surge. As our hero Jack predicted, a storm system develops in the northern hemisphere, ‘flash-freezing’ anything in its wake.

Geostorm compresses time in a similar way. In the opening of the film, our protagonist’s daughter Hannah (Talitha Bateman) explains that in the year 2019 there was a rise in extreme weather events that became increasingly catastrophic. We are shown genuinely real footage of human displacement due to flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, and droughts. This sequence feels familiar, like a segment we may see in the news, as it is rooted in the timescale in which we actually experience the effects of extreme weather events.

Suddenly the film dramatically accelerates the climate timeline. We are told that the East River in New York has surged, swallowing all of Lower Manhattan, and days later a heatwave in Madrid kills two million people within 24 hours. During the climax of the film, the ‘Dutch Boy’ satellite system goes rogue, causing mass-scale extreme weather events rather than mitigating them. The unstoppable global climate cataclysm is even given a countdown timer akin to the Mission Impossible series.

All of a sudden the consequences of climate change have been completely transformed to become an immediate threat. The way these movies compress time to its most extreme brings climate change within our sights, into the foreground, and invites us to consider its proximity to our lives.

Eco-disaster movies do not just play with time, but our spacial understanding of climate change too. In no other genre will you find the scale and magnitude of climate change greater than in an eco-disaster movie. In Emmerich’s 2012 the Yellowstone Caldera (a supervolcano underneath Yellowstone) erupts in an enormous ball of flames, reminiscent of a nuclear explosion. In reality, the last super-eruption in Yellowstone took place tens of thousands of years ago. When watching an eco-disaster movie, the audience must face environmental catastrophe on an exaggerated scale they will likely never directly experience in reality, making the genre an effective vehicle for us to see the violence of climate change.

It is nearly impossible to sit through an entire eco-disaster film and not bear witness to an extreme weather event obliterating one of our iconic historical monuments, often in the most spectacular ways imaginable. In Flood a storm surge collides with the London Eye. In Geostorm, the Kremlin is melted by a heat-ray, and the Burj Khalifa is toppled over by a tsunami-like wave. In The Core, lightning takes out the Tomba del Milite Ignoto in Rome.

Seeing our landmarks torn apart before our eyes is undoubtedly a compelling existential delight, but these sequences feel so impactful and sublime for a reason. Not only do these landmarks symbolise structure and order in our world, but also they act as geographical ‘anchors’, cemented in a position in the world that we recognise and understand. Landmarks such as the White House, the London Eye, and the Statue of Liberty are universally recognised in their scale, proportion, and location. Watching their destruction connects to that sliver of spatial understanding we innately have, linking the consequences of unchecked climate change with things we connect with.

With the idea of geographical identity in mind, it is important to recognise where these movies can still play into false understandings of climate change. To capture the largest audience, blockbuster eco-disaster movies will predominantly focus their destructive sequences in highly-developed European, American, or Asian countries. In 2012 it is Washington DC, and Los Angeles, in Geostorm it is Hong Kong, Moscow, and Orlando, and so on.

If eco-disaster films continue to lean on recognisable imagery within prominent global cities, they may inadvertently advance the misinformation that these cities are disproportionately at risk from climate change. Information taken from the Global Climate Risk Index 2021 makes clear that the countries that have suffered the most impact of weather-related loss events are not European or North American at all. Countries in the top ten most affected include Myanmar, Mozambique, Zimbabwe as well as the Bahamas – but the countries most at risk are rarely represented in eco-disaster films.

It is important, however, to recognise that whilst eco-disaster movies may help us to view climate change up close, they often do little to encourage optimism. The genre’s ‘all will be lost’ and ‘few will survive’ endings repeatedly feed into a doomist mindset, in which climate change is too far gone to do anything about. As long as we engage with these films in order to feel and experience climate change, and remember it should embolden us to act, the eco-disaster movie genre could find a neat place of value in the wider fight against rampant climate change.

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- David Jenkins
Saint Omer

Cut-away reaction shots in cinema are employed as a crutch – a way for a director to keep an audience locked into a contrived emotional wave pattern. For the most part, they tend to be evil, a shortcut to manipulation and crass sentimentality. In her fiction feature debut, Saint Omer, French filmmaker Alice Diop elevates the humble reaction shot to the level of high art, drawing on a gallery of gaunt faces who are completely lost as to how they should react to what they’re seeing and hearing.

The intense confusion, the fiery incomprehension, the sadness that manifests beyond reason all serve to enhance the already-crushing central drama in which a fallen woman stands in the dock of a provincial French courtroom and attempts to engineer a justification for unspeakable crimes.

Laurence Coly (Guslagie Malanga), clad in a simple brown cardigan, stands accused of leaving her 15-month-old daughter on a beach at night during high tide, and the function of this court hearing is to determine why she would commit such an act. Watching intently and distraughtly with her notebook is Rama (Kayije Kagame), a Parisian academic whose studies err towards depictions of female trauma and violence such as ‘Medea’ and the works of author and filmmaker Marguerite Duras.

Although it’s never directly stated, and Diop is not too insistent in making (or, at least, agreeing with) these connections, Rama clearly heads along to the trail seeing Coly as a real-life example of a tragic literary heroine. The reality – and it’s a reality that makes this film so extraordinary – is far more complex.

Coly’s testimony paints a picture of a troubled woman, an intellectual (possibly pseudo), versed in philosophy, who admits to having made a number of questionable decisions in her life on the precipitous path to happiness. The judge (Valérie Dréville) fires questions at her in order to amply flesh out this portrait, and as Coly talks, little contradictions and inconsistencies begin to mount.

Malanga is, for the majority of the film, completely stone-faced, even when she describes in harrowing detail the days, hours and minutes leading up to the moment which has landed her in prison, possibly for the remainder of her life. It’s a remarkable anti-performance where words and language are all-but stripped of external emotion and left to become their own confounding mode of expression. Is this Coly’s calculated modus operandi? Or has this experience transformed her into this passive husk who perhaps sees this crime as the natural outcome of the collected traumas from which she suffered?

With Saint Omer, Diop not only refreshes and expands upon the tired conventions of the courtroom drama, but she really drills down into the fundamental gaps in our understanding of human nature and the tantalising but illusive ‘why?’ of it all. Coly is not a case study. She is an enigma of the Charles Foster Kane variety, and Diop’s coup to grace is to inform us that, in this instance, there was no Rosebud. There rarely is.

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A major competition slot at a film festival confirmed that Alice Diop was a name to remember. 4

An astonishing feat of ambiguity and emotion. And visually, every shot lands a sucker punch. 4

The standard for ‘Best of 2023’ lists has already been set. 5

Directed by
Alice Diop

Guslagie Malanda, Kayije Kagame, Valérie Dréville

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- Mark Asch

Named for the sound a donkey makes, EO (“Eee-ooo, eee-oo”) follows one such noble beast as it travels across the breadth of Poland and beyond, bearing mute witness to a carnival of humanity at its best, worst and weirdest. In its conception – as an existential musing on man’s inhumanity to man, endurance of suffering, and capacity for grace across the blink of a lifespan – as well as in the outline of several of its scenes, EO is an incredible and unlikely act of hubris: a remake of Robert Bresson’s inner-circle Film Studies 101 masterpiece Au Hasard Balthazar. But it’s also shot through with the outré symbolism and impulsivity that have long characterised its director’s long, strange career, particularly its late, nothing-to-prove stages. In short, Jerzy Skolimowski is 84 years young, and he is absolutely vibing.

EO opens at a small traveling circus, where the titular donkey performs as part of a duo act with an adoring young performer, who nuzzles EO’s nose and strokes his fur a la Balthazar’s Anne Wiazemsky. But EO changes hands often throughout the course of the film, for the first time following an animal-rights protest. The story then daisy-chains its way along with frequent absurd contrivances, a clownish narrative logic that speaks to Skolimowski’s atheist metaphysics.

EO ends up in a horse farm, becomes the mascot of a rural town’s soccer team and inadvertently incites a riot with a rival club’s hooligans, toils in factory farms, is bought and sold on the black market, crosses international borders, goes underground and into the Alps, accompanies metalhead lorry drivers, developmentally disabled children, bureaucrats, and a defrocked priest.

Skolimowski offers sketch-comical views of Polish nationalism and machismo, EU migration, the legacy of the Holocaust, and bourgeois decadence in the form of a vampish stepmother played by an unexpected cinematic legend. There are children at the beginning of their life, men at the violent end of theirs, and a veterinarian’s clinic where someone poses the key question of the film: why should it suffer? Throughout, the director uses fisheye lenses from odd camera positions, giving a distorted view of humanity’s foibles.

Updating his career-long uncentered, faddish style, he explores the poetic surrealist potential of modern film techniques with strobing red lights, transhumanist drone-shot interludes, and an intense score incorporating traditional accordions and EDM bass bumping; in one scene, EO stumbles into a wolf cull shot like a rave, with green laser-sight beams lighting up the forest. Again, like a rave.

In one sense, EO is an evolution of Skolimowski’s 2010 survival thriller, Essential Killing, the tale of an escaped Taliban prisoner on the run in a primal wintry landscape. The next logical place to go from such an elemental story is to make one starring a donkey, instead of Vincent Gallo. The final question, then is: what use is plot, to a donkey? Or to an atheist, for that matter. Think of Skolimowki at this stage of his career and life as a filmmaker happily grazing, indulging in an animal need for cinema.

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The return of this Polish maverick who directs mad movies and stars in MCU bit parts. 4

Vibe-heavy take on Bresson’s Au Hasard Balthzar, but very much it’s own eccentric thing. 4

A winding existential journey packed with emotional and political punch. 4

Directed by
Jerzy Skolimowski

Ettore, Hola, Marietta, Mela, Rocco, Tako, Isabelle Huppert

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- Hannah Strong
The Whale

Based on Samuel D Hunter’s play of the same name, The Whale depicts the final week in the life of a morbidly obese man who has developed an eating disorder in the years following his boyfriend’s suicide. Charlie (Brendan Fraser) is confined to his apartment, subsisting on takeout and groceries delivered to him by his friend Liz (Hong Chau) while teaching online English classes. He keeps his laptop camera off, worried his students will be disgusted by his appearance.

Realising his eating disorder is going to kill him, Charlie attempts to reconnect with his estranged daughter Ellie (Sadie Sink) who is still furious at him for leaving her and her mother Mary (Samantha Morton) years ago. Meanwhile, meek missionary Thomas (Ty Simpkins) comes across Charlie and begins visiting daily in an attempt to save his eternal soul.

But Charlie is resigned to his fate. The past eight years have been a form of slow suicide. He punishes himself with food. He eats until he vomits and then eats some more. Fraser – in his first major film role for almost a decade – imbues Charlie with palpable warmth and optimism from underneath the layers of make-up, prosthetics and video effects. He captures Charlie’s deep-rooted sadness and his desire to love and be loved, that others have a hard time seeing as they can’t get past his appearance. It’s a pleasure to see Fraser given a role he can put his heart into, and his nuanced performance saves The Whale from turning into a ghoulish spectacle or a very artfully shot episode of TLC’s exploitative reality show ‘My 600lb Life’.

It’s a story about a flawed father trying to do right by his daughter before it’s too late (comparisons to Aronofksy’s The Wrestler are inevitable) and Sink is a perfect foil to Fraser, in a tricky role as an antagonistic teen brat. She captures the anger and sadness that comes from parental abandonment, as well as an underlying cleverness that is obscured by meanness.

Aronofsky isn’t a particularly empathetic filmmaker (at times his work feels outright cruel) and there’s an austerity to the staging of The Whale in the darkness of Charlie’s apartment and the harsh strings of Rob Simonsen’s score, but these pair well with the softness and occasional wry humour of Fraser’s performance, to create a film that – while not without flaws – reflects tenderly on shame, guilt and the human impulse to care and be cared for.

Recurring imagery evokes the ocean, whether in a passage of an essay about ‘Moby Dick’, brief flashbacks to a trip the family took to the beach when Ellie was younger, or the rain which pours outside Charlie’s apartment. The water suggests an imminent cleansing, and fits into Aronofsky’s well-established interest in biblical allusion. Who doesn’t long for acceptance and peace, particularly after enduring great pain?

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Excited to see Fraser back in action. 3

Complex and imperfect, much like life itself. 4

A worthy comeback for King Brendan. 4

Directed by
Darren Aronofsky

Hong Chau, Brendan Fraser, Sadie Sink, Samantha Morton

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- Clint Worthington
Apple TV+'s New Weeper Dear Edward Is Hardly Good Grief

Sometimes, it’s nice to have a good cry. And some of the best artists recognize that; Lord knows Jason Katims, who spearheaded thoughtful TV weepies like “Parenthood” and “Friday Night Lights,” does. But his latest for Apple TV+, an adaptation of Ann Napolitano’s acclaimed novel Dear Edward, tips its hand more than a bit too far: it’s less a heartbreaking story in its own right than a perfectly-calibrated waterworks machine, one designed to trap its audience in ten hours of communal misery and grief.

In the fields outside a small town in Colorado, a passenger plane crashes. Two hundred-plus lives aboard are lost, save for one: 12-year-old Edward (newcomer Colin O’Brien), who lost his entire family—including his older brother and best friend Jordan (Maxwell Jenkins)—in the crash. The shocked and traumatized child is quickly dubbed “Miracle Boy” by a press hungry for uplifting stories and sent to live with his bitter estranged Aunt Lacy (Taylor Schilling) and husband John (Carter Hudson), who’ve been trying successfully to have their own child for years. 

Ostensibly, Eddie’s arrival should be a godsend for them after years of miscarriages. But life isn’t that easy; Plus, everyone’s got deep wounds in need of healing, some inflicted long before the crash. 

One of the most interesting yet structurally damning changes Katims makes from the book is widening the narrative tapestry outside of Edward’s experience. After all, hundreds of others died on that flight, all with loved ones rummaging through their emotional wreckage. There’s Connie Britton’s brash New Jersey empty nester Dee Dee, Anna Uzele’s AOC-lite political hopeful Adriana, Amy Forsyth’s Linda, a pregnant teen whose boyfriend died in the crash. The list goes on and on, too voluminous to list here. 

In the wake of the crash, they find community in the form of a corporate-sponsored support group, where their lives intersect in all the ways you’d expect of a maudlin melodrama such as this. Some end up sleeping together; others open up or resolve old family wounds. Still, others crumble under the secrets and lies left behind by spouses who aren’t around to guard them anymore. It’s a lot to take in, especially when stacked on top of each other; characters will disappear for entire episodes with little fanfare as if placed in storage until the next little chapter of their tragedy. 

But what about Edward? Amongst all the sturm und drang of the grownups’ varying tribulations, little Eddie can sometimes get lost in the shuffle. It’s a shame, too; apart from him being, as Beanie Feldstein would say, the titular role, O’Brien’s wounded, withdrawn performance offers the most complete, multifaceted journey among the sprawling ensemble that surrounds him. His youth and innocence compound the tragedy that’s befallen him, an orphaned boy thrust both into a family situation that wasn’t prepared for him and a media landscape that makes him the repository of everything from well-intentioned love to oversharing to conspiracies and death threats. All he has to cling to is the memory of his brother and the guilt of knowing that a game of rock-paper-scissors over which seat they’d take sealed their respective fates. 

Granted, it’s all performed with admirable grace and confidence thanks to a committed cast that, at the very least, keeps the thing aloft in each tearjerking moment. Apart from O’Brien, other standouts include Schilling, who infuses Lacy with relatably brittle neuroses, and Dario Ladani Sanchez’s Sam, for whom the loss of an old high school friend in the crash awakens latent conflicts about his sexuality—especially complicated given that he’s married with kids. 

But it’s Britton who infuses the most life into the otherwise-dour cast; Dee Dee’s larger-than-life brashness and volatility offer a welcome respite from the downbeat bummers around her, whether she’s rage-eating sympathy cupcakes or telling well-meaning yoga neighbors to “shove [their] kombucha up [their] ass”. Where everyone else feels like a zombie shuffling through the ruins of their deteriorated lives, she demands to see life’s manager, and it’s delightful. 

But when the show veers away from Dee Dee or Edward towards its bloated tertiary cast, it becomes hard to, as Lizzy McAlpine mewls through most of the show’s treacly, guitar-folk theme, “hold on” to your attention. There are so many threads to follow, several of whom cover virtually identical territory (married men navigating their sexuality, victims falling in love with family members of other victims), and it’s all weighed down with the same heavy blanket of weepy sincerity. Katims is downright aggressive in how he piles one sadness on top of another, trapping his characters in inescapable dilemmas with little respite.

The repetition and the predictability of these lesser threads gets old fast, especially the longer they take away screentime from the more compelling (and complete) meditation on grief we see in Edward. Perhaps “Dear Sad Relatives of Crash Victims, feat. Edward” would have been a more apt title.

Those looking for something to fill that “This Is Us”-shaped hole in their media diet will flock to “Dear Edward”; after all, both shows have all the airy, acoustic-guitar contemplation of a laundry detergent commercial. But as meditations on grief go, Katims seems more content to engineer contrived soap-opera agonies than fully exploring what it means to lose everything and do your best to dust yourself off and keep going. And it’s especially egregious considering the show’s clear bid for a second season in its closing moments, when the path Edward and his fellow survivors plan to take hardly seems more interesting than the one they already traveled. 

Entire season was screened for review. "Dear Edward" is now playing on Apple TV+. 

- Nick Allen
Knock at the Cabin

M. Night Shyamalan should probably just stay away from the apocalypse. Who could forget the baffling events of his global warming horror “The Happening,” aptly represented by a scene in which a character just lays down in front of a moving lawn mower? Or what about “After Earth,” which made a box office bomb out of a sci-fi movie starring Will Smith and his son Jaden Smith? There’s something about the end of the world that fascinates Shyamalan—as a sentimental moralist, an overzealous twister, and a button-pusher—there’s also something that always foils him. His latest, “Knock at the Cabin,” uses the question of human behavior during the threat of end times to create a morality study that progressively hollows itself out. It’s another minor work from a director whose films, especially after “After Earth,” have been mostly major. 

It’s a shame that the story isn’t so good, because the film has a rich and earthy Kodak-shot presentation from co-cinematographers Jarin Blaschke (“The Lighthouse”) and Lowell A. Meyer (“Thunder Road”), who turn many scenes of characters standing in mostly the same living room into striking studies of pleading faces in close-up. It looks about as realized as a movie like this could be. And the performances have enough uniform intensity, even when the writing is only playing games. It’s a striking ensemble piece by design, and creates some promise early on, but Shyamalan’s larger intent doesn’t give “Knock at the Cabin” nearly enough resonance. 

The standout performance comes from Dave Bautista, in his most tatted-up teddy bear mode possible, wearing glasses like he did in “Blade Runner 2049” to suggest the gentle boy inside his grizzly physique. For a movie about how humans choose to interact with one another, his acting is incredibly disarming here and sometimes moving in how he chooses to speak so gently while enacting a plan filled with the unthinkable. His character Leonard is a second-grade teacher from Chicago who has united with three other people (played by Rupert Grint, Abby Quinn, and Nikki Amuka-Bird) who have also had life-changing visions of the apocalypse. They approach a cabin in the woods with sharp weapons in hand, and they do not want to hurt the people inside. But they will enact the violence that they feel they must. 

The targeted family is that of young Wen (Kristen Cui) and her two dads, Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge). They do not know why they have been chosen, but it does not matter. Tied up in chairs before their weapon-wielding captors, they must decide to kill one of their family of three to stop an impending apocalypse. They cannot kill themselves, and if they reject their captors’ prospect, something awful will happen in the cabin, and a plague will be unleashed. The first time Eric and Andrew effusively say no, towering tsunamis are conjured, and deadly earthquakes ensue. 

Are Leonard and his friends onto something, or is this all a coincidence? Is it manipulation? There may be no force more powerful on this earth than belief. It can be a tool that builds communities or a weapon that destroys lives; a movie like “Knock at the Cabin” needs to wriggle in that magnanimous uncertainty of belief, and instead, it only sits and admires it. It’s like presenting QAnon devotees and people who think the Earth is flat as possibly being right, for the sake of both sides-ism. Shyamalan isn't nudging about a divided people (like Jordan Peele's “Us,” which echoes through the woods of this movie), but lazily stirring the fear of conspiracy. 

Cut back to us, well aware that our collective brains are broken, waiting for a larger point: we are stuck with a frustrating and self-serious movie that kneels before its zealousness but also continually emphasizes why Leonard and the others would sow skepticism. The script carefully doles out information about everyone to toy with coincidence and happenstance, but it's more stirring, less building. Shyamalan does not have the nuance to handle this idea, as confirmed when his expected twist comes minutes before the end. 

Even with these sharp weapons, bizarre motivations, and that whole apocalypse thing, “Knock at the Cabin” lacks a key squeamish element. Not that the movie needs gore, but the threat of violence in this immediate scenario is specifically numbed by cutaways; for a story pitched in the human capacity to recognize another’s life value, there just isn’t the terror that could create some of its emotional stakes. The lack of it is deeply felt once it becomes apparent what monsters this movie is and isn’t dealing with, while showing how these people are driven by something that forces them to do awful things. Instead, “Knock at the Cabin” creates one anticlimax after another. 

The script, co-written by Shyamalan, Steve Desmond, and Michael Sherman (adapting Paul Tremblay's book The Cabin at the End of the World), does better in making us worry for the targeted family. During this present-day stress, "Knock at the Cabin" cuts back and forth between the love story of Eric and Andrew, and their life with adopted daughter Wen. Groff and Aldridge are heartbreaking as they slowly become opposites: Aldridge embodies one’s tough exterior against a threatening world, while Groff gradually depicts the journey of seeing the light. Together, they show the pain of possibly making The Choice, and how Eric and Andrew don’t want to in part because of their deep love for each other. They also help provide more substance to the film’s representation of a same-sex married couple, which on one hand, more of this please, but on the other hand, still feels like major studio productions have a lot more work to do. 

“Knock at the Cabin” has glimmers of interest as a parable about people trying to preserve all of humanity: not just the population, but the concept. The work of Leonard and co. is something like a promotion of empathy, though as is often said about faith: it's the messengers who need work. By trying to make a grand statement to a post-lockdown theatergoing audience about what they are willing to believe—but also about how far they are willing to go for others—Shyamalan trips over himself and neglects to give them much of a movie.

Now playing in theaters. 

- Nell Minow
80 for Brady

Resistance is futile: The ladies of "80 for Brady" have been mesmerizing us with the fascinating, flawed, but always vibrantly human characters they've portrayed for a combined more than two centuries, along with many Oscars, Tonys, and Emmys. They bring everything they've learned to this irresistible film from director Kyle Marvin, inspired by the true story of four octogenarians whose devotion to each other is matched by their devotion to NFL quarterback Tom Brady. It’s a Cinderella story with four fairy godmothers, but instead of ugly step-sisters forcing them to do housework, these women are confronting the indignities of aging and the limits of mortality. Speaking of magical interventions, the film is produced by Tom Brady, who plays himself and has a very engaging screen presence.

When a local radio station promises four Super Bowl tickets to anyone who comes up with the best story, Trish (Jane Fonda), Lou (Lily Tomlin), Betty (Sally Field), and Maura (Rita Moreno) decide it's their chance to take a break from the various complications of their lives and go on a wild adventure to see their beloved Tommy in the 2017 Super Bowl. 

Trish, who writes erotic fan fiction about Brady's teammate Rob Gronkowski, falls in love too easily and is recovering from her latest broken heart. Lou is afraid to open the email from the hospital to find out whether her cancer has returned. Betty, a retired MIT professor, loves her husband (Bob Balaban), but attending to his neediness is making her feel erased. And Maura is still mourning the loss of her late husband. 

It all began 16 years earlier, when Lou was getting chemo treatments for cancer, and her friends came together to help her. The television got stuck on a 2001 game between the Patriots and the Jets. A then-lesser player named Tom Brady was called off the bench, beginning one of the most storied careers in sports history. Now it's an annual tradition for the women to get together in their team jerseys to watch the game. Like many avid sports fans, they're superstitious and begin watching the first game of each season just as they did the first time, with Betty on a ladder changing a light bulb and Lou knocking over the potato chips.

One can sit back, relax, and enjoy "80 for Brady," understanding that nothing here makes sense in terms like “might happen” or even “should happen.” Just as all fairy tales should, this movie lives in the land of “wouldn’t it be wonderful.” How about a dance number? Yes! And a little romance? Do you have to ask? Harry Hamlin is debonair, and Glynn Turman is utterly charming. For others in the crowd: Are there some colorful guest stars? Yes! Billy Porter! Guy Fieri! An update during the end credits? Of course. What about clips from exciting moments in football games? Yep!

Far more important than the questions “Does any of this make sense?” and “Are there any surprises in the storyline?” are the questions, “It is fun to watch?” Yes! “Does it give each of these fabulous actors a chance to shine?” Yes, yes, yes, and yes. With a screenplay by "Booksmart"'s Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins, a lot happens and things move fast, so the parts that don’t work well are over quickly.

These pros are superb scene partners, and the ensemble scenes are among the highlights. And each makes the most of her solo moments. Moreno lights up the screen in a high-stakes poker game and her masterfully underplayed negotiation with a scalper. Field takes what could be a dreary character and makes us see her vulnerability and integrity; she even makes an extremely dumb joke about calling a fanny pack “a strap-on” work. Her insistence that she’s not an “80” for Brady since she is still in her 70s is not about vanity; it’s about her dedication to mathematic precision. 

Meanwhile, Lou struggles with secrets about her health and how the trip came together but relishes her role as the one who inspires the others, including Brady himself. Fonda brings warmth to the thinnest-written role. While a disrespectful character calls the four women “Golden Girls,” she is not a one-note “isn’t it cute that an old lady likes sex” joke. Rather, she's a tender-hearted but resilient optimist who has been re-inventing herself since she got too old for her job as a spokesmodel for a car dealer. And Fonda’s chemistry with her “Grace and Frankie” co-star and close friend Lily Tomlin continues to sparkle.

"80 for Brady" isn't just about these characters proving to themselves that they value their friendships and are still open to adventure. Indeed, it's the support they give each other, and the idea that they have nothing left to lose that makes them more willing to take risks than those two generations younger. That goes for the people who portray them as well; it's pure joy to see these women we have loved and grown with over the decades. They still give their considerable best to make us laugh, dream of our own adventures, and wish they could be around for another two centuries.

Now playing in theaters. 

- Monica Castillo
The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic

It’s a cheeky title for a serious movie. Teemu Nikki’s “The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic” is about a man in Finland named Jaakko (Petri Poikolainen), a movie fan and wheelchair user dealing with the aches and side effects of multiple sclerosis. Unable to move far without the help of an assistant or see because of blindness, Jaakko spends many of his days—joked about as Groundhog Days—at home calling his long-distance girlfriend Sirpa (Marjaana Maijala) for company. When her health turns for the worse, Jaakko decides to travel at once to cheer her up—even though the two have never met in person. 

It’s a charming premise that then turns into a suspense movie as Jaakko decides not to wait for help but go off on his own to see Sirpa. Unfortunately, he meets strangers both helpful and unkind, some of whom take advantage of his blindness to rob and kidnap him. However serious things get, overall, his adventure is a tribute to the character’s determination and a crash course on how the able-bodied world remains hostile to people with his condition. In the film's earlier scenes, Jaakko is treated to the cruel thoughts of passing strangers who write him off first as a drug addict and then about how they would never want to live with his illness. It’s painful and uncomfortable to watch him take the comments in silence. Later, in his efforts to meet Sirpa, his trip reveals many of the shortcomings of modern-day travel for blind wheelchair users, like limited resources to provide assistance, that leave him vulnerable to thieves. Despite the difficulties and barriers, Jaakko’s determined to be there for someone he cares about, and that steadfast resolve drives the narrative. 

Director, writer, and producer Nikki and cinematographer Sari Aaltonen film “The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic” entirely from Jaakko’s perspective, keeping him in focus and mostly in close-up while the world around him is a blur. His face takes up the majority of the screen for much of the film. We hear voices and noises sharply but we cannot see the faces of strangers or even Jaakko’s nurse, creating a sense of Jaakko’s experience and how he has to move through the world without physical context clues, like when someone untrustworthy is trying to take advantage of him, or simply know when and where to call for help. The opening credits are written in braille and read aloud by assistive technology, and both are incorporated into the film organically to show how Jaakko can call Sirpa, catch up on the news, order tickets over the phone, and place and win online bets. Centering the character’s experience is pivotal to making the movie so effective, but when it deviates from those visual guidelines, it feels like it loses a touch of its power. 

As a trained actor with a camera on him throughout the entirety of the film, Poikolainen shoulders the task with a stoic grace and a sardonic wit. He brings his character to life, emotionally and physically, summoning the determination Jaakko needs to get to Sirpa but also the charm to flirt with her, crack wise about his nurse, lie to his dad, and make fun of his robber’s taste in music. He’s emotionally retrained to a point. But then occasionally, we see outbursts of joy, like the scene in the cab where he’s enjoying the wind in his hair. It’s a hard task to keep the camera engaged with the same person at such a close distance at all times, but Poikolainen and Nikki pull it off. 

The title is about a man who would do anything for love, even watch a movie he’s avoided for decades. Jaakko is a film buff many of us know, with strong opinions about John Carpenter, and as the title suggests, James Cameron. In turn, “The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic” connects its audience with Jaakko’s experience, through both the frustrating and joyous moments, in hopes that we will never sound like the disapproving voices scowling at his existence. 

Now playing in theaters.

- Simon Abrams

On its face, the uneven Icelandic missionary drama “Godland” appears to explore identity in a very lonely place. Set in Iceland in the late 19th century, “Godland” follows Lucas (Elliott Crosset Hove), an ambitious but emotionally withdrawn Danish priest, as he tries to establish a Christian church in a characteristically remote part of Iceland. The forbidding climate and attendant desolation immediately get to Lucas, who’s guided to his as-yet-unfinished church by the gruff but curious area man Ragnar (Ingvar Sigurðsson). 

Soon, “Godland” takes a familiar shape, more like a tragic parable about Ragnar, a reluctant seeker, and Lucas, a stingy community leader, and their complimentary derangement and irreconcilable differences. This story, about two men who need but cannot trust each other, ultimately bookends and gives capital “M” meaning to “Godland,” the latest slow-burning mood piece by the Icelandic writer/director Hlynur Pálmason (“A White, White Day”). 

Some supporting characters fill out the plot and help to establish the influence and nature of the title location, especially Carl (Jacob Hauberg Lohmann), a gruff and withdrawn local, and his two daughters: his eldest, Anna (Vic Carmen Sonne), rumored to be Lucas’ prospective wife; and Ida (Ída Mekkín Hlynsdóttir), Carl’s youngest. 

Carl’s children remind us that “Godland,” like many great westerns, is about the uncertainty and tension that presides over frontier settlements. The key distinction is that “Godland” is about life on a frontier that was tentatively established sometime before these characters showed up. That’s also what the movie’s about, a poisonous colonial inheritance of suspicion, dependence, and entitlement. 

Carl and Ragnar do not trust Lucas because he represents a faith and therefore a societal order that presumes to take theirs under its wing. Carl and Ragnar also want to be more like Lucas, even if he literally cannot understand them. (He doesn’t speak their language and frequently needs Anna to translate for him.) Lucas photographs the locals and even insists on taking the more arduous path from Denmark to his new home, while Carl wonders why Lucas didn’t just sail. 

A diligent missionary, Lucas says he wants to get acquainted with the Icelandic people and their land. Then again, while that might have been Lucas’ goal when he set out, he’s soon changed by the harsh reality that confronts him. So Lucas unwittingly assumes the antagonistic role that Ragnar immediately projects onto him in an early scene when he tells a violent story about a woman who cheats on her husband with a group of men. 

The baggage these two men drop at each other’s feet is instantly understood because it’s fairly obvious. Ragnar tries to connect with Lucas repeatedly and with startling regularity, but again, Lucas doesn’t speak his language and, more importantly, doesn’t want to. Lucas photographs his surroundings using the now antique daguerreotype process, which requires on-camera subjects to remain perfectly still for several seconds. This fussy artistic process not only helped inspire the look of “Godland”—filmed and presented in a boxy Academy aspect ratio—but also gives Pálmason a neat way to illustrate the differences between Lucas and Ragnar and their resistance to social expectations that must seem apparent to everyone but them.

Lucas, thin and shivering, fusses with his camera and stares blankly at everything he can’t control. Ragnar, plain-spoken but skittish, wants to be one of Lucas’ subjects but cannot catch the young priest’s eye. Ragnar opens up to Lucas during a beautifully shot confessional speech, but this monologue inadvertently reveals the disconnect between the filmmakers’ depth of feeling and the shallowness of this particular narrative. 

Still, a few scenes and experiential details confirm the promise that Pálmason showed in the tremendous revenge drama “A White, White Day.” Hove’s skittish performance credibly expresses Lucas’ struggle to remain true to his faith and humanitarian ideals. And while Sigurðsson only hints at the depths of Ragnar’s emotions, that’s also what makes his behavior so attractive. Both men have an inner life that’s only partly revealed through episodic scenes that take place around the church and Carl’s home. But Pálmason’s latest movie comes to life whenever its characters struggle to retain their humanity and poise in the face of great, largely implied despair.

There’s just enough room for viewers to wander about “Godland” and maybe even get lost in its pregnant pauses thanks to Maria von Hausswolff’s stunning cinematography. (She also shot “A White, White Day.”) The Icelandic locations do a lot of talking for Pálmason’s characters, and they tend to speak more forcefully than either Lucas or Ragnar. Still, the big emotional finale of “Godland” is less ambiguous than one might hope for, given how much of this movie isn’t about the story, but rather the in-between moments when we struggle to be better than our past actions. The climax of “Godland” feels conclusive in ways that the rest of Pálmason’s mystery play does not, making one wish that there was an extra hour or two between its beginning and the very end.

Now playing in select theaters. 

- Sheila O'Malley
Baby Ruby

"I haven't seen your baby online yet. Maybe I missed it?"

A mere 10, or 15 years ago, these words would have made little to no sense. The assumptions implied are stark: Your baby should be online. If your baby isn't online, something's wrong. Or maybe you posted a pic, and I just missed it? What's wrong? It's really weird you haven't posted a picture of your baby online.

This moment comes early in "Baby Ruby," playwright Bess Wohl's directorial debut. Jo (Noémie Merlant), a French lifestyle blogger living "upstate" with her husband Spencer (Kit Harington), has just had a baby. Since she built a brand "curating" her stylish French-woman-in-America life, the question posed to her by a confused fan is not unwarranted. A lifestyle blogger puts everything else online. She "monetizes" her personal life. She writes about the baby shower, peppering the post with affiliate links. The nine months of pregnancy provided Jo with so much "content"! Then radio silence once the baby is born. Her fans are at first concerned and then irritated.

"Baby Ruby" is about a woman's experience of not just postpartum depression but postpartum psychosis, and her conviction that her newborn baby is somehow angry with her. Ruby is perceived by Jo as a raging malevolent creature. Ruby cries all the time, and Jo takes the crying personally. She feels like the baby is "punishing" her for something, there's a flaw in Jo's character only Ruby perceives. The pediatrician tells Jo, "Babies cry. It's what they do." Everybody tells her this. But Jo can't shake the feeling that something else is going on. Ruby seems hostile. Paranoia ratchets up. Jo wonders if her husband and her mother-in-law (Jayne Atkinson) are in cahoots, if the neighbors are on the level, or if there isn't something sinister going on.

Wohl keeps the film in close first-person, so Jo's increasingly terrified mindset is made manifest visibly, with lots of shock cuts and hallucinatory elements, where you're not sure what is real and what isn't. The possibility that the whole film is Jo's hallucination grows with every passing moment. Does she really go out for "Mom drinks" with the breezily gorgeous group of local women who go running every morning pushing baby carriages in front of them? Spencer seems like a good guy, and although his mom might be a little overbearing, they are also rightfully concerned. Or it all might be a front for some "Rosemary's Baby"-like conspiracy. Jo just can't be sure. And neither can we.

"Baby Ruby" operates at a high-pitched melodrama-horror level, and the constant frenzy becomes exhausting. The film's nerves become so frayed there's almost no feeling left in them; the terror is monotonous and repetitive. In "Rosemary's Baby," the terror comes because we can see that Rosemary's perceptions are accurate, despite all the gaslighting: something sinister IS going on, the neighbors ARE up to no good, her husband IS in cahoots with evil, and something IS wrong with her baby. "Baby Ruby" clearly wants to say something about the struggles many new mothers face, but the horror tropes—the pot boiling on the stove a particularly obvious example—drain away the power from the underlying message. There are only so many "did I just dream it or did it really happen" moments a film can take. There are only two authentically unnerving effects in "Baby Ruby": one involves Jo's shadow on the wall, and one involves her reflection in the window. These moments are intriguing and psychological, carrying enormous symbolic weight, but they stand alone.

I keep returning to the fan's question about why Jo's baby isn't online yet. Bess Wohl didn't give Jo a regular job like a teacher or accountant. Wohl made her an influencer for a reason. Jo set herself up as an authority on many things, including motherhood, an experience she hadn't even had yet. When Spencer reads out loud from a parenting advice book, Jo is contemptuous: she won't take advice so "cliched." She is not a cliche, thankyouverymuch. She's special. She doesn't need a book published in the '80s to tell her what to do. That advice will be passé and probably "problematic" as well. Jo will become the Avatar of Momhood for this new supposedly freer generation.

It's in this charged arena of cultural observation—entitled girl boss culture, the "pick me girl" turned new mom, the private citizen acting like a celebrity/expert—that "Baby Ruby" has some real bite, not as much bite as "Ingrid Goes West" but close. Unfortunately, these elements are presented more as background noise rather than the main event. Instead, we get scene after scene of Jo seeing horrible things and then "waking up" to realize it was all a dream, although maybe it wasn't.

Birth is a physically traumatic event. The body and mind need time to recover. Hormones surge through the mother's body as the pressures—internal and external—pile up. You are expected to be in a state of bliss. You are expected to be automatically "good" at mothering. You are expected to lose the baby weight. Being Extremely Online, as Jo is, intensifies these pressures, something lifestyle bloggers rarely acknowledge. Jo expects her daughter to respond with gratitude to the carefully curated world set up for her. Instead, Ruby wails. Jo's existential crisis is similar to the one Sylvia Plath so hauntingly evoked in her short poem Child. Plath wanted her child's eye to see only beautiful things, and instead, the child looks up from its crib to see ...

"this troublous
Wringing of hands, this dark
Ceiling without a star."

There's a lot of power in those words and a lot of validation for new mothers who suffer from postpartum depression. "Baby Ruby" backs off from the commentary it encourages.

Now playing in theaters and available on demand.  

- Brian Tallerico
Murder in Big Horn

The true crime docuseries has become such a prevalent part of the streaming and television landscape that I worry that the serious issues raised by some of them aren’t able to rise above the noise. How can you possibly consider the dynamics that lead to such tragedy when you’re swept off to the next docuseries before you really have time to digest it? I would like to believe in a world where the conversation started by Showtime’s “Murder in Big Horn,” which premiered at Sundance last week before its drop on the cable network’s streaming service today and cable channel on Sunday, continues and makes change, but it feels like the glut is leading to increased indifference. And indifference is at the root of this three-part series.

“Murder in Big Horn” details a series of disappearances of young Indigenous women in Big Horn County in Montana, off reservations not far from Billings. In just the last decade, dozens of Indigenous girls have gone missing from the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Nations, many of them found dead days or weeks later, their deaths blamed on the frigid elements to which they possibly succumbed. “Murder in Big Horn” asks detailed questions about the very specific cases it profiles, particularly the deaths of Selena Not Afraid and Kaysera Stops Pretty Places, but this is not really a murder mystery. It’s more of a commentary on a deeply broken system that not only doesn’t provide safety nets for the women of Indigenous communities but barely acts when they disappear. The authorities seem almost eager to sweep these cases under the rug with one even suggesting that he doesn’t believe the MMIW Movement (Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women) isn’t a real thing, blaming the community itself for failing to regulate its people.

Wherever fingers are pointed, the MMIW issue is a real one, and “Murder in Big Horn” is at its best when it digs into the historical factors that have led us here, including colonization efforts that sought to tear down the female leaders of Indigenous communities and the kidnapping of children, suggesting that destroying the concept of family for so many people still ripples across our heartland. I wanted a little more of the big picture material that asks the big questions instead of the case-specific ones, but it seems like “Murder in Big Horn” tries to put a few faces on a problem that can feel too big to really grasp without them. Still, this series is at its richest when it steps back from a case like Selena Not Afraid, for example, and sees her case as one of so many.

While it could have used a little more context, “Murder in Big Horn” gains a lot of its strength by interviewing the people directly impacted by the tragedies in this part of the country. Parents and friends of the missing girls offer details about the day their loved ones went missing and almost always follow that up with infuriating accounts of inept or indifferent lawmen. Whatever led us here and whoever is to blame, the pattern is undeniable. The truth is that Indigenous young women are one of the country's most vulnerable populations, and too few people are doing enough to protect them. Why? What do we do about it? How do we hold journalists, law enforcement, and the communities themselves to a higher standard so this stops happening? Stop and ask yourself these questions before hitting play on the next docuseries. Selena Not Afraid and the hundreds of girls like her deserve it.

On Showtime’s On Demand and Streaming Apps now. On Showtime on February 5th.

- Matt Zoller Seitz
True Spirit

"True Spirit" is an inspirational adventure about Australian sailor Jessica Watson, who in 2009 became the youngest sailor to circumnavigate the globe by herself. Her quest was sparked by another record-breaker, German sailor Jesse Martin, who did the same thing ten years earlier when he was two years older than Watson; Watson used his memoir and course as partial inspiration, with support from her family and manager and after many years of training and experience on the water. 

Watson's family was criticized in the media and by government officials for being irresponsible, and some at the time worried that Watson lacked a full understanding of all the risks involved in the trip and wasn't mature or responsible enough to undertake it (she collided with a bulk carrier during a test run from Sidney to Brisbane and was found to have been asleep at the time). Nevertheless, she persisted, sailing around the world, surviving multiple storms and a long period of windless stasis. She was recognized with multiple citations and medals and became an emblem of the can-do spirit, particularly for girls and young women who love sailing but felt excluded from it by sexism. 

Her story would seem like a can't-miss subject for a crowd-pleasing film, and "True Spirit"—starring Teagan Croft of DC's "Titans," directed by Sarah Spillane and co-written by her and Cathy Randall—does not miss. The screenplay's structure tends to impede dramatic momentum by regularly cutting back to key moments in Watson's childhood just when the present-tense action is building up a fine head of steam. But the sailing sequences, a mix of location footage and green screen bits, are stirring, sometimes breathtaking, and occasionally storybook-poetic (as in a nighttime scene that begins with an overhead shot of Watson's boat, Ella's Pink Lady, seeming to float in a sea of stars, then tilts up to show that the stars are reflections in the water). 

In real life, as noted in Watson's memoir, her dad vigorously opposed her taking the trip, but the film makes it seem as if he had only a moment's hesitation; and Cliff Curtis' "coach" character, Ben Watson, is a fictionalized version of Watson's real mentor and project manager, Bruce Arms. He's been given a tragic backstory here that seems mainly there to give the heroine something to cruelly use against him at a moment when they're both stressed out. (Yes, they make up.) But there are always compressions, deletions, and inventions in dramas based on life, and the leanness of this film's approach works mostly in its favor, even if there are times when one might wish they'd leaned into the "fable" aspect a bit harder (what an animated film this might have made!).

Overall, however, there's something a tad anodyne and "off" about this production. It's so perky and clean-scrubbed that it feels like a Disney Channel version of a wilderness survival tale, suitable for young children who presumably can't handle too many complexities or contradictions, and whose parents (perhaps) believe that the highest function of popular culture is to show families as harmonious institutions, and outsiders as interfering know-nothings. 

And at the same time, strangely, the film is so single-mindedly focused on vindicating Watson and her family and coach, and making anyone who raised objections to the trip seem like killjoy ninnies and usurpers of free will, that there are moments when it seems like the movie equivalent of a sore winner. Media naysayers are incarnated by a composite character TV reporter, played by actor Todd Lasance—a showboater with a punchable smirk who has been given the name "Atherton," presumably an homage to the narcissist portrayed by actor William Atherton in "Die Hard." Of course Atherton, too, eventually comes around and cheers for Watson. Additionally, Watson's blog as framed within the movie seems like more of an illustration of how to bypass the media and get one's "message" out than an autobiographical treasure trove documenting Watson's incredible journey. Meanwhile, the ingrained sexism that Watson faced from records-certifiers who came up with all sorts of reasons to deny her right to claim a world's record afterward go largely unexamined. 

Watson's memoir and the 2010 documentary about her achievement, "210 Days," are altogether more thorough and nuanced looks at this story, though of course that's nearly always true of documentaries that tell the same story as works of fiction. Dramatic features tend to have goal-directed stories with uncomplicated happy endings. The messiness of life gets sanded off in the name of giving the people what they supposedly want.

Now playing on Netflix.

- Glenn Kenny
The Locksmith

This modest and competent neo-noir seems to have no urgent reason for being, except perhaps to inject sentimental notions of redemption into the book of neo-noir conventions. Directed by Nicolas Harvard from a script by John Glosser, Ben Kabialis, Chris LaMont, and Joe Russo—working from a story by Blair Kroeber, yet!—the movie opens with a botched robbery. One in which a smarmy corrupt cop named Zwick intercepts the loot while killing one of the robbers. 

These are very soulful robbers, apparently. Just trying to get a nest egg going for their families. Kevin, the one who gets killed, has a young daughter named April. Miller Graham, the title locksmith, has a fiancée and a young daughter. Having kept his mouth shut about the sleazy Zwick (who’s played with standard-issue corrupt-cop assurance by Jeffrey Nordling), Miller gets to spend ten years in prison. 

Upon release, Ryan Phillippe, who plays the character, looks pretty beat down. But he’s got his old friend Frank, who runs a legit locksmithing concern, to set him up with a job. Former fiancée Beth (Kate Bosworth), who used to wait tables at a diner, is now a police detective. Okay. Soon to be retiring as her boss is the hated Zwick. Also: young April has grown up! And she’s been ensnared into a life of prostitution and abuse by a local real estate magnate/sex trafficker (Charlie Weber). Using Miller’s sense of guilt as a psychological lever, April demands he knock over a local gambling party run by her boss so she can take the loot and start a new life. 

Miller is a complete pushover, which is maybe the most noteworthy thing about his character. Even though he’s being hassled anew by Spitz, he agrees to do the job knowing the corrupt cop does the security for the home casino. 

In the meantime, back at the police station, soon-to-retire Zwick is making what he thinks are chess moves with his cops, one of which is giving the wary Beth a promotion to vice. Looking into cold prostitution cases, Beth remarks a downturn in arrests to one of her on-the-take colleagues. “It’s a small town,” he shrugs.

Well, yes, the unnamed burg in this movie sure is a small town. The web of associations drawn here is so relentlessly obvious and tight that one marvels at the fact it took four whole screenwriters to come up with it. 

If “The Locksmith” offers anything new, it’s in neutering the genre. There’s a femme fatale in all this, but seduction is not her specialty or a part of her scheme. Phillippe’s character is never motivated by anything resembling amour fou or even lust; he’s solely interested in reconstructing the family he lost. Which means, in part, teaching his now 12-year-old daughter Lindsay (played by Madeleine Guilbot, and, yes, the character’s full name IS Lindsay Graham) how to pick locks. Cute. And, by Chekhov, perhaps even useful in the climactic scene! A scene incidentally, whose message can be read as taking the position that you ought never send a man in to do a woman’s job. So that’s different, yes. If only the filmmakers had put it across with a little more enthusiasm.

Now playing in theaters and available on VOD. 

- Christy Lemire
She Is Love

Haley Bennett and Sam Riley drink and smoke and babble and warble their way through the dreary romantic drama “She Is Love.”

The film from British writer/director Jamie Adams (which, sadly, has no connection to Luca Guadagnino’s stunning “I Am Love”) features the largely improvisational style Adams has used previously. But rather than feeling organic and realistic, the dialogue drones and meanders. Nothing is compelling about these characters, and Bennett and Riley have little chemistry with each other playing them, even though they’re supposed to be estranged exes experiencing an unexpected spark.

The contrived way they reconnect a decade after their divorce starts things off on a wobbly note. Bennett’s Patricia is an American in England for some vague work trip. When her meeting never materializes, she heads to a boutique hotel inside a converted countryside estate. Complaining about how ugly her room is and comforting herself with sips of gin straight from the bottle, Patricia initially has just the slightest glimmers of being a Bridget Jones figure, but her portrayal never comes close to being so lovably hapless.

Just as she’s trying to settle in for an afternoon nap, she’s awakened by the insistent thump of dance music from downstairs. Of all the people in all the world practicing his DJ skills, it’s her ex-husband, Idris (Riley). Now sober, the former rock star runs the hotel with his girlfriend, Louise (Marisa Abela), a narcissistic aspiring actress whose personality consists of preening and flouncing. She also tries on clothes and dances in front of the mirror for long stretches before disappearing from the film entirely. But Louise does have a couple of amusing, passive-aggressive exchanges with her assistant, Kate (Rosa Robson), over what kinds of dishes the hotel should offer on its dinner menu. Not that it matters, though, because Patricia is literally the only guest staying there.

The majority of “She Is Love” follows Patricia and Idris as they awkwardly try to avoid each other around the sprawling estate, then awkwardly try to make small talk before awkwardly getting wasted and revisiting their past. (The fact she starts drinking again is apparently no big deal.) Their playful antics consist of fumbling about in the bathtub, smearing white makeup on each other, and running around the hotel pretending to be ghosts. Along the way, they exchange some would-be snappy banter—“You’re disgusting!” “You’re impossible!”—but the animosity is rushed and toothless.

Similarly, the supposedly deep emotions that result from dredging up the trauma of their marriage feel unearned. The climactic scene in which they drunkenly unearth the source of their split is more shrieky than startling.

Worst of all, “She Is Love” is dreadfully boring. It feels like a short that was stretched out to feature length, with Adams following his characters around with a handheld camera, watching and waiting as they do nothing terribly interesting. He never makes use of the space for its potential for trapped tension. Patricia and Idris just wander around aimlessly, until all of a sudden, they’re arguing. Worst of all is the maudlin moment in which they strain to sing “Danny Boy.” Is this supposed to be ... sad? Happy? Who knows?

Bennett and Riley have both impressed in the past when they’ve opted for challenging material. Bennett was riveting in the candy-colored thriller “Swallow,” and had a bright, romantic presence in Joe Wright’s musical “Cyrano” opposite Peter Dinklage. Riley brought a haunted melancholy to his portrayal of tortured Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis in “Control.” But despite their talents, neither can make this flimsy material sing.

Now playing in select theaters and available on digital platforms.

- Haleigh Foutch
Top 10 Most Popular Netflix Movies Right Now

Ever since Netflix unveiled its “Top 10” feature, we have a way to get an assessment of what people are actually watching on the streaming service. Each day, the “Top 10” feature shows the most popular films and TV shows as viewed by subscribers.

- Collider Staff
Best Classic Movies on HBO Max (February 2023)

With the launch of HBO Max, the new site has a hub devoted to just movies under the Turner Classic Movies banner. The number of acclaimed films can be pretty overwhelming, and shy of Criterion Channel, you won't find a better collection of classic Hollywood, indie, and foreign films available for streaming. But it can be a little tough to know where to start when there's so much good stuff available, so we've narrowed it down a bit by providing a list of the best classics available on HBO Max. We'll keep updating this list as new classics are added to HBO Max's massive selection, but in the meantime, take a look at these giants of cinematic history.

- Matt Villei
Frank Grillo and Eric Dane Are Not as Close Anymore in 'Little Dixie' Clip

Collider is excited to share a brand-new clip for the upcoming film Little Dixie starring Frank Grillo (The Purge: Anarchy and The Purge: Election Year) and Eric Dane (Euphoria). The revenge thriller is set to release in select theaters, on digital, and on demand today.

- Emily Bernard
Poker Face Episode 5 Ending Explained: Never Forgive, Never Forget

Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Episode 5 of Poker Face.

- Jake Sapsford
10 Great Characters Underused in the 'Star Wars' Prequels

Obi-Wan Kenobi recently expanded the Star Wars prequel lore, by adding more depth to the characters of Kenobi and Darth Vader. However, with newer Star Wars media expanding other interesting characters from that trilogy, it is worth noting how underused they were in the films.

- Diego Peralta
'Creed III': Michael B. Jordan Says He's Open to Expanding Franchise

Creed fans have plenty to look forward to, as franchise protagonist Michael B. Jordan feels very confident about continuing to expand the franchise that began with a legacy sequel to 1977's Rocky, starring Sylvester Stallone. With Creed III rapidly approaching its release date, the future of the story seemed uncertain, as the third film in the series could serve as a conclusion to what Ryan Coogler started in 2015. In an interview with IGN, the actor briefly discussed the prospect of producing more Creed films, after he was asked if a fourth movie was happening: "I just want to expand the Creed-verse within reason, but definitely expect other things around Creed for sure."

- Britta DeVore
Mayfair Witches Season 2 Renewed

AMC knows a hit when they see one and, just four episodes into the first season, the network has made the decision to renew Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches. To be honest, we aren’t surprised that the show has been able to cast such a spell on fans as fellow Rice-universe series Interview with the Vampire received a Season 2 renewal ahead of its Season 1 premiere. Mayfair Witches was such a success that it quickly shot above Interview with the Vampire’s premiere ratings on AMC+ and is now seated at the spot of the most-viewed season of any series on AMC+ within the first 30 days on the platform.

- Douglas Laman
Netflix's New Password Sharing Rules Will Hurt Rather Than Help

Netflix is preparing to execute its long-standing plans to crack down on the practice of password-sharing, a concept that entails a single person sharing their account across multiple households and people. The impending new status quo will require users to sign in to a single "home wi-fi" once every 31 days or devices trying to access Netflix will be blocked from accessing the streamer. Naturally, this news has been met with a storm of negative responses and why wouldn’t it? From every conceivable level, Netflix’s new approach to password sharing is reprehensible and bound to aggravate rather than please consumers.

- Shane Romanchick
'The Last Of Us' Episode 4 Images Show Jeffrey Pierce & Melanie Lynskey

The Last Of Us delivered another brilliant episode of television earlier this week covering the beautiful love story between Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett). It was a romance that was only alluded to in the game and putting the pair of survivors front in center in Episode 3 was the biggest/most emotional change from game to screen so far. With Episode 4 premiering on Sunday, changes and new additions to the story will continue with the introduction of original characters Perry and Kathleen, played by Jeffery Pierce and Melanie Lynskey respectively. Now, new images for Episode 4 tease that the pair may not be Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie’s (Bella Ramsey) friends.

- Vinnie Mancuso
Best Oscar Movies on Disney Plus Right Now (February 2022)

Just because you're diving into the warm, fluffy nostalgia trip that is Disney+ doesn't mean you can't add a little prestige to your night. Thanks to Disney's long-established dominance, the streaming service has no shortage of impressive Oscar winners, dating all the way back to the 1930s. (That would be Flowers and Trees, Best Animated Short winner of 1932). We've whittled down the list to bring you the very best, which you can scroll through below.

- Gregory Lawrence
M. Night Shyamalan Movies Ranked From Worst to Best

M. Night Shyamalan is one of our most curious and deservedly debated filmmakers working today. After breaking through with 1999's The Sixth Sense, Shyamalan went on a precocious, meteoric rise to the top. His talents were celebrated, his craft compared to masters like Alfred Hitchcock and Steven Spielberg, his name calcified into a brand. "An M. Night Shyamalan film" carried meaning and weight, especially at its caboose; Shyamalan's most resonant (if reductive) legacy became his utilization of the ending plot twist, a canny bit of writing trickery that recontextualized everything we saw before.

- Ashley Amber
Pixar's 10 Most Memorable Oscar Wins

With the nomination of 2022's Turning Red as Best Animated Feature Film for the 95th Academy Awards, it marks the 50th Oscar nod for Pixar Animation Studios, 18 of which the studio won since their slew of nominations in 1996 for their first-ever feature film, Toy Story.

- Erick Massoto
'Blood Rise: Subspecies V' Trailer Promises a Chilling Prequel to a Classic

For fans of a beloved franchise, it’s never too late to go back and revisit some of their favorite characters. Fans of the vampire film franchise Subspecies learned the hard way that “late" can have a whole new meaning, though, when the world entered a pandemic. Announced in 2019, Blood Rise: Subspecies V was advertised as a prequel that was going to hit screens over 20 years after the last entry debuted. However, after COVID-19 hit, fans had to sit and wait until this very day—a day in which Full Moon Features gave Collider the privilege of debuting the trailer for the highly expected prequel.

- Jeremy Urquhart
The 10 Most Underrated Classic Martial Arts Movies, According to Letterboxd

Martial arts movies in general are fairly underrated to begin with. Most of the classic examples of the genre are produced in places like Hong Kong, Japan, and China, and while many have cult followings in the West, few achieve mainstream appeal. For every Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Enter the Dragon, or a movie like Kill Bill (that serves as a homage to the genre), dozens - maybe even hundreds - of lesser-known great martial arts movies remain underappreciated.

- Emily Bernard
‘Who Invited Charlie?’ Review: Everyone Needs a Pal Like Adam Pally

Remember 2020? The world ended, hand sanitizer became the hot new item, and not wearing a face mask felt like you were streaking in the middle of the mall. It’s not necessarily a time anyone wants to return to, and frankly, the fear and ramifications of the pandemic never fully went away. Is there an appetite for content set during such a bizarre and scary time? Even though it’s been roughly three years since the initial shock and paranoia of it all, it seems like just yesterday that we were spraying cleaning products on our produce and having panic attacks when we needed to touch a doorknob. The indie dramedy Who Invited Charlie? washes away any reservations you might have about a movie set in the COVID times and, more importantly, lets Adam Pally show us what he is capable of.

- Makuochi Echebiri
‘The Last of Us’: Bella Ramsey on Her Hopes for Season 2

HBO’s The Last of Us has only aired three of its episodes with a fourth coming our way this Sunday. The series has set television alight with what many are describing as the best video game adaptation ever. The hype around the series has been so intense HBO has already renewed the post-apocalyptic, Cordyceps-infected show for a second season – much to our collective joy. Despite the first season being some way off from wrapping, one could be forgiven for already looking ahead to what season two might be, and Bella Ramsey, who plays Ellie, is already doing that.

- Sarah Lewis
You: What Season 4 Needs to Do Differently

Season 3 of You delivers what its audience has come to expect from the psychological thriller: a tight 10-episode murder spree defined by crimes of passion and satirical dark humor. Enjoyable though this may be, after three seasons, You needs to shake it up. The Netflix thriller is in desperate need of a real overhaul, where go-to plot devices must be reworked if Season 4 is to keep viewers interested.

- Nate Richard
’80 for Brady’ Review: Fonda and Football Make For a Charming Combo

Every year, or more like several times a year, we'll get a new comedy, marketed to an older audience, starring some of the Hollywood legends of yesteryear. Usually, these movies will have some kind of message about aging gracefully, they usually always feature either Diane Keaton or Jane Fonda (or both) or Morgan Freeman, and a lot of the comedy relies on the characters doing things that most people their age wouldn't do. There's been Book Club, Poms, Last Vegas, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, 5 Flights Up, and the list goes on and on. Some of these films have even landed sequels and while it may be easy to scoff at them, they have an audience, and oftentimes they're not half bad. Some of them are quite good or at the very least, charming.

- Perri Nemiroff
'Rye Lane' Cast & Director on the Strange and Messy Charm of Their Romcom

You’ve never seen a romantic comedy quite like Raine Allen-Miller's Rye Lane. Not only is the film oozing with style, passion, and authorial expressivity, but it also features two fantastic lead performances that confirm no other actors could have brought Yas and Dom to screen quite like Vivian Oparah and David Jonsson.

- Erick Massoto
'1923' Renewed For Season 2

This Sunday, Yellowstone prequel and spin-off series 1923 will return from hiatus with renewed energy. Aside from ending the first arc of stories from the ancient Dutton family, the Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren-led series can now tease long-term events because it will come back for Season 2. The story will continue to chronicle the domain, corruption, and influence of the Dutton family as they try to survive historical events such as pandemics, a drought, and the echoes of the Prohibition era.

- Cody Mcintosh
Could Jack Have Fit on the Door? James Cameron Settles Debate
Watch his experiment to find out. Continue reading…
- Claire Epting
12 Great Actors Who’ve Never Won An Oscar
A successful legacy in Hollywood doesn't always include an Academy Award. Continue reading…
- Matt Singer
New ‘Avatar’ 3, 4, and 5 Details Revealed
Producer Jon Landau teased where the series is headed next. Continue reading…
- Matt Singer
‘Knock at the Cabin’s Ending Makes It Very Different From Book
Here’s why it was changed. Continue reading…
- ScreenCrush Staff
New Trailer Imagines What 1989’s ‘Batman’ Would Look like Today
Wait till they get a load of this. Continue reading…
- Matt Singer
Daisy Ridley Says It Would Be ‘Amazing’ to Do More ‘Star Wars’
She’s not saying no to more Rey adventures. Continue reading…
- Matt Singer
Dave Bautista Desperately Wants to Make a Romantic Comedy
Let Dave Bautista be romantic and comedic! Continue reading…
- Matt Singer
‘True Lies’ Trailer: The Schwarzenegger Movie Is Now a TV Show
Get your first look at the new series. Continue reading…
- Matt Singer
The Best Time Jumps in Movies
The coolest examples of movies that use editing like time travel. Continue reading…
- Matt Singer
New ‘Swamp Thing Movie’ Finds Director
The film is part of DC’s new movie and TV universe. Continue reading…
- Matt Singer
A.I. Is Creating an Endless ‘Seinfeld’ Episode on Twitch
Behold “Nothing Forever.” Continue reading…
- Matt Singer
Go Behind the Scenes of ‘Mandalorian’ Season 3 in New Featurette
The new season is one month away. Continue reading…
- Cody Mcintosh
New DC Studios CEO Says ‘Batgirl’ Film Was ‘Not Releasable’
The new regime agrees with the old one. Continue reading…
- Matt Singer
‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ Debuts On Streaming
You can visit Wakanda anytime you want now. Continue reading…
- Matt Singer
Who Are the Authority? Meet DC’s New Movie Team
The influential comic is headed to the big screen. Continue reading…
- Matt Singer
New ‘Fast X’ Poster Teases the End of the Saga
The new trailer premieres next month. Continue reading…
- ScreenCrush Staff
New DCU Will Use the Same Actors in Films, Animation, and Games
This is more than a cinematic universe. Continue reading…
- Matt Singer
James Gunn Says DC Was ‘F—ed Up’ For a Long Time
The new co-CEO of DC Studios plans to change that. Continue reading…
- Kirsten Howard
Why One of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Worst Episodes Is Still Worth Watching

Days after her grandmother’s death, a young professional woman returns to her family home to sort through what was left behind. Wrapped in a blanket to warm herself from the storm raging outside, the woman senses a ghostly presence, one that visited her in a dream the night before. The presence begins to speak, bidding the woman closer, promising that he loves her as much as he once loved her grandmother. Terror grips the woman’s face, but with it, desire. 

I’m not describing a beloved rom-com or a scene from a Harlequin novel. This is a scene from Star Trek: The Next Generation; specifically the season seven episode “Sub Rosa.” If you haven’t seen “Sub Rosa,” you may still be very aware of it. Known as the one in which Dr. Beverly Crusher has sex with a candle ghost, “Sub Rosa” regularly ends up on lists of the worst episodes in the series’ seven-season run, if not in the entire franchise. Sure, it’s not usually cited as much as the racism of “Code of Honor” or the misogyny of “The Child,” but it does nevertheless strike people as strange. Although “Sub Rosa” has a couple of defenders, even star Gates McFadden questioned the value of the episode and director Jonathan Frakes said “It wasn’t my finest hour.”

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And yet, for all of its unusual qualities, “Sub Rosa” is an important part of Star Trek’s development. With its focus on eroticism and female desire, “Sub Rosa” pushes Trek into unfamiliar territory, giving us new ways of thinking about the human experience. 

Literary Roots

There are few things more important to Star Trek than literary references. As early as season one of the original series, Gene Roddenberry and his team wrote stories with titles ripped from Shakespeare, such as “Dagger of the Mind” or “The Conscience of the King.” This has continued all the way through to the present, from the Moby-Dick parallels in First Contact to Discovery’s Michael Burnham remembering her adoptive mother reading Alice in Wonderland to her. 

Speaking of white rabbits, Trek loves to get silly, as anyone who remembers the original series episode “Shore Leave” can tell you. From the very beginning, the franchise has balanced its high-minded ideals with goofball plots that found Kirk and crew matching wits against the childlike god Trelane or cavorting with space-hippies. Later series followed suit, with the darker Deep Space Nine taking a break from the Dominion War to follow Jake and Nog’s quest for a baseball card, while the displaced Voyager crew recreated 1940s serials in the Holodeck. 

For those reasons, “Sub Rosa” isn’t an outlier for the franchise, at least not on a conceptual level. Written by producer Brannon Braga, based on a story that Trek mainstay Jeri Taylor adapted from an idea by Jeanna F. Gallo, the episode puts a sci-fi twist on Henry James’s ghostly novella The Turn of the Screw

From these high literary roots, Braga and director Jonathan Frakes include ideas that belong among the most corny in Trek history. Not only does the episode take place among the Coldos Colony on a planet terraformed to resemble 17th century Scotland, but the romantic ghost at its center takes residence in a candle passed through Dr. Beverly Crusher’s family. At the same time, the story never leaves basic TNG confines, bringing together a subplot with Data and Geordi helping a Colony leader investigate problems with the weather controller. By the episode’s end, the ghost has been revealed to be an alien parasite seeking to inhabit Beverly, who messes with the weather control stations to achieve its goals. 

In other words, “Sub Rosa” brings together scientific inquiry, literary appreciation, and silly conceits, just like some of the best entries in the franchise. But is it any good? 

A Family Tradition

Early in “Sub Rosa,” Dr. Crusher (neé Howard) tells Counsellor Troi about the sexual urges she felt while reading entries in her deceased grandmother’s diary. Through the diary, Crusher learns that the centenarian had a lover; a man in his 30s called Ronin. Instead of feeling odd or embarrassed about getting excited by her grandmother’s writing, Beverly expresses pride. “The sensations were very real and extremely arousing” she tells Troi, who responds, “Frankly, I’m envious.”

To most of us, that seems like an unlikely confession to make. And it’s just one of the unusual choices Braga and Frakes put into the episode. Surely, the fact that Ronin lives in a candle was intended to accentuate the gothic quality of the story. But instead, it provokes snickers from the audience, and not just because of the object’s semi-phallic design. 

And then there’s Quint, whose name is one of the few overt references to The Turn of the Screw. The caretaker of the Howard home, Quint arrives shortly after the funeral of Crusher’s grandmother to destroy the candle. When Beverly stops him, Quint issues a dire warning, telling the Doctor that the candle will bring nothing but suffering, just as it did to previous generations of Howards. 

“Sub Rosa” tries to use Quint as a doomsayer, that key part of a good ghost story who knows more about the threat than the protagonist, but must ultimately be ignored. When deployed well, the doomsayer can heighten the tension of a ghost story, much like caretaker Mrs. Grose did in The Turn of the Screw (or T’Nia Miller’s Hannah Grose in the excellent Mike Flanagan adaptation, The Haunting of Bly Manor).

But Quint feels much closer to Crazy Ralph, the guy who tells teens in Friday the 13th that Camp Crystal Lake has “a death curse.” With a Scottish accent that even James Doohan would call a bit much, Quint rants and raves about spectral peril until he somehow makes his way to the Enterprise bridge and gets shocked to death by Ronin, who overloads one of the ship’s computers.

And then there’s the sex scenes. When Ronin reveals its presence to Crusher, it arrives upon her as an invisible presence, sending her into orgasmic tremors. And for those well-versed in nerd culture, these scenes resemble less the height of pleasure and more the worst scene in Ghostbusters, in which Ray Stantz receives phantasmic fellatio. 

In short, it’s hard not to laugh or be concerned by many aspects of “Sub Rosa.” But these shortcomings only underscore the need for Star Trek to take on the challenges of Gothic Romance. 

Where No Man Has Gone Before

Part of the reason “Sub Rosa” falls short is because it blazes new ground for Star Trek. While the franchise does dip into horror on a regular basis, it rarely becomes Gothic (the TOS episode “Catspaw,” written by Psycho author Robert Bloch, is an exception that proves the rule). And Next Generation, with its beige-colored Enterprise and ready room conversations, seems ill-suited to the task. 

Even more alien to Star Trek is the episode’s sexuality. I’ve written elsewhere about Trek’s complicated relationship to emotion, and while “Sub Rosa” ultimately follows the standard model regarding feelings (Beverly’s feelings for Ronin almost destroy her, forcing Picard, Data, and Geordi to logically solve the problem and rescue her), it does introduce something even more rare on Star Trek: eroticism. 

Sure, ol’ Captain Kirk liked his romantic escapades, and Risa does exist in the Star Trek universe, but rarely do we see sexuality actually portrayed in the series, especially from a female perspective. To be sure, the show was happy to stick female actors in skintight outfits and there’s no denying the allure of Picard’s Risa beachwear. But most Trek portrayals of intimacy had all the complexity of a Dabo girl uniform. 

With “Sub Rosa,” we get something different: a focus on a woman’s desire, and even pleasure. At several points throughout the episode, Ronin visits Beverly and sends her into the throes of ecstasy. Gates McFadden lets her knees go weak and falls back upon furniture. She flops her red hair over her eyes and her hands search for something to grasp. Does it look silly? Well, yes, of course, because sex always looks silly to non-participants. But it is also completely authentic, a depiction of the vulnerability involved in any sexual experience. 

More importantly, McFadden’s performance puts Beverly’s desire first. At no point in the episode does Frakes give in to the male gaze, nor do we see the pleasure from Ronin’s perspective. Yes, the male-presenting Ronin initiates the encounters, and we eventually learn that it’s for its own ends, to the point that you could argue that the alien sexually assaults the doctor – it’s murky territory, even if we acknowledge that the episode’s story came from the minds of two women. But during the encounters, the camera shows us only what Beverly feels and what she wants.

At the end of the episode, when all has been revealed, Crusher admits to having complex feelings about the end of the affair. “Whatever else [Ronin] might have done, he made her very happy,” Beverly says of her grandmother, putting forward the feelings and agency of her grandmother and herself, not Ronin’s plans. 

The Ongoing Mission 

At this point, one may reasonably ask, “Why should Trek do Gothic Romance? It’s a show about space explorers. It doesn’t need to deal with this sort of stuff.”

It is true that Star Trek began as “Wagon Train to the Stars,” but it quickly evolved into an exploration about what makes humans human. And while it has made exciting inroads into all manor of experience, sexuality remains a somewhat undiscovered country for the series. If the franchise truly wants to understand humans in all their complexity, then sexuality cannot be ignored — it must be addressed, even when it’s uncomfortable to do so.

“Sub Rosa” may be imperfect with its portrayal of eroticism, but it represents intriguing first steps into the subject for Trek

The post Why One of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Worst Episodes Is Still Worth Watching appeared first on Den of Geek.

- Lauravickersgreen
Crossroads’ Most Bonkers Storylines

At the mention of Crossroads, the first thing that comes to mind is ‘wobbly scenery’. This British soap about a bizarre motel ran on ITV between 1964-1988 and earned legendary status thanks to its cheap production values (it had a third of the budget of its closest rival Coronation Street), but that didn’t stop it pulling in 18 million viewers at its 1970s peak.

ITVX’s latest drama Nolly – which depicts the shock sacking of Crossroads’ leading lady, Noele ‘Nolly’ Gordon, played by Helena Bonham Carter – shows just how precarious the production was. Scripts were delivered weekly – and savagely. If you didn’t get one, that was how you found out your character had been binned. Time and budget restraints meant everything had to be filmed in one take, so mistakes were left in, and if the episode under-ran the producer would make the motel phone ring and characters would have to improvise a new scene on the spot.

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As Nolly shows, it actually took a lot of dedication and skill from the cast and crew to get Crossroads on the air, and this ‘by the skin of its teeth’ production style led to some truly iconic soap moments, from the messy to the downright mad…

Malcolm, Meg and the Poisonous Paint

Noele Gordon played Meg Richardson, Birmingham’s unluckiest motel owner, who over the course of two decades had to endure going to prison for knocking a postman off his bike with her car, having her beloved motel burned down and exploded by bombs, and losing her second husband to a heart attack after he was kidnapped by Australian terrorists. 

Meg’s first husband didn’t help much either: he painted their living room with poisonous emulsion in an attempt at the slowest, daftest murder ever, with the intent of offing his wife for her insurance money. Thankfully, he didn’t succeed, and when he was confronted he simply walked out of the motel forever. Did anyone call the police? Apparently not, but in a later episode we hear he died in a car crash in South Africa. This dose of karma is short-lived, however, and just as Meg is about to find love again she discovers Malcolm is still alive, causing her (somehow?!) to get amnesia. Thankfully, he’s caught and banged up proper this time, and Meg gets her memory back because… just because, okay?

A One-Year Pregnancy

Meg’s grown-up daughter Jill (Jane Rossington) also had quite the time of it. This included four marriages (two to the same bloke) and multiple affairs, including with a TV repairman and – brace yourselves – her own step-brother. This last ‘big yikes’ of a plot twist resulted in her second child, and if that wasn’t bizarre enough, her pregnancy miraculously lasted for a year.

There’s actually a sad story behind this: Jane Rossington had become pregnant in real life, so producers made her character pregnant too. When Jane suffered a miscarriage, she agreed to continue with the storyline, then thankfully fell pregnant again soon afterwards, hence her character Jill’s rather elongated maternity period.

Amy Turtle Is a Russian Spy?!

If you’re not yet acquainted with Amy Turtle (Ann George) let us do you a favour:

The comedic, campy ageing motel cleaner had her fair share of storylines (not all of it high drama, once she just got done for shoplifting a £1 toy plane), but none was more bananas than the time she was accused of being a Russian spy. A sinister-looking guest from Eastern Europe checked into the motel in 1973 and said he recognised Amy as a former KGB agent, whose real name was Amelia Turlovska (yes, really). Bizarrely, instead of alerting the authorities, he simply completed his stay at the motel, leaving Amy looking a bit miffed – although, thinking about it, she didn’t exactly deny it…

The Benny Triangle

One of the show’s great mysteries is that characters called Benny kept disappearing for no reason. The first Benny, Benny Willmott, ran the Crossroads Cafe in the motel grounds back in the series’ early days. In 1966, Meg sent him to buy her a bag of sugar, and he simply ceased to exist, never returning. Fast-forward five years, and during the show’s tongue-in-cheek ‘1500th Episode’ special in walks Benny for a brief reappearance… with a bag of sugar.

The more famous Benny was Benny Hawkins, who was a beloved character for twelve years from 1975, during which time he did completely normal things like coping with the death of his friend Miss Diane by naming a donkey after her. Then, in the 1987 Christmas special, he went up the ladder to put the fairy on top of the Christmas tree and never came back down. 

The Revamp Was All a Dream

Even if you don’t remember the original Crossroads, you probably recall the show’s short-lived early 2000s revamp on ITV, starring the likes of Jane Asher and Doctor Who’s Freema Agyeman. The news that it had been cancelled after just two years apparently caused the writers to go full Byker Grove, because they chose to end the show with the true identity of the hotel’s glamorous manager Angel Sampson (Asher) being revealed as supermarket worker Angela, who had in fact daydreamed the entire series while sat scanning items through the checkout, imagining her fellow supermarket colleagues as the rest of the characters. Bob Ewing’s got nothing on this.

Nolly is available to stream on ITVX.

The post Crossroads’ Most Bonkers Storylines appeared first on Den of Geek.

- David Crow
Batman Returns Still Has the Best Romance in a Superhero Movie

Michelle Pfeiffer put a live bird in her mouth in Batman Returns. Let that sink in for a moment: a respected thespian, who by 1992 had already received two Oscar nominations for Dangerous Liaisons (1989) and The Fabulous Baker Boys (1990), put a tricolored Gouldian finch inside her mouth. For nearly a minute! And she never broke character once as she portrayed the feline pleasure in avicide before letting the creature fly out (maybe) unscathed.

The scene is remarkable for a few reasons. First, in the days before CGI trickery (and constant social media scrutiny), filmmakers just went ahead and did something this bizarre for a shot. And secondly, director Tim Burton thought it was necessary to do this for Batman Returns, a studio tentpole with a bigger fiduciary responsibility to sell happy meals than create art in his boss’ minds, a fact he would soon find out the hard way.

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Still, looking back at the moment years later, he told THR in 2017 that “I don’t think I’ve ever been so impressed [with an actor]. She had a live bird in her mouth while the camera was rolling.” But then, like Burton, Pfeiffer knew a character who dressed up in an animalistic costume to prowl the rooftops of Gotham City at night had to be a little bit of a freak. And when she’s with Batman, they make two.

More than 30 years after Batman Returns opened in theaters and horrified parents groups around the country, the film’s enduring understanding of who Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne are, or at least who they should be, is what makes the film the rare thing in superhero cinema: a picture where the romance works. There is of course an irony in this since conventional studio wisdom suggests there should always be a “love interest” in a four-quadrant blockbuster movie, and in the nearly 15 years since Marvel Studios began oversaturating the multiplex with movies entirely about the conventional, we’ve seen a lot of them. Yet one can still only count on one hand all the romances that felt like a pivotal part of the storytelling or character development, as opposed to a box being checked.

Nowadays, it’s even treated as shocking news when Marvel’s Eternals featured a love scene between two characters. Perhaps fittingly though, the couple turned out to be robots (both in terms of the movie’s sci-fi plotting and the MCU’s rigidity).

But once upon a time in Burton’s intoxicatingly dreary fantasia of expressionistic hell, the love story between Michael Keaton’s Batman and Pfeiffer’s Catwoman wasn’t treated as an afterthought for the story’s denouement. Nor was it simply background filler before the next laugh line. Nay, here was the transgressive, bleeding heart of the film on which the story’s emotional core hinged; and it was unafraid to leave the audience brokenhearted.

When folks think back on the movie, the imagery of Pfeiffer’s Catwoman comes immediately to mind. In a costume of seemingly hand-stitched leather and vinyl, the getup not-so-subtly evokes the type of gear you might see at an S&M club, a fact which was made explicit in screenwriter Sam Hamm’s earliest draft of the script. However, this idea is (at least on the surface) played purely as camp in the finished movie, with Pfeiffer’s Catwoman hanging the Caped Crusader off a rooftop by her whip in their first big scene together in costume. Later, she licks his face as the two spar beneath a seasonal mistletoe and she winds up on top.

It’s so brazenly sexualized that it looks almost like a gag. Yet something Burton realized (unlike his successor Joel Schumacher) was that the strangeness of the characters needed to be played with constant sincerity. The audience needed to believe the fairytale if they were to fall for it; and for that to happen the actors needed to genuinely invest in the psychological profiles of their characters. Only then can her leather and his rubber look as everyday in this Gotham as Christmas decorations.

Some fans take umbrage to this day that Burton and Daniel Waters, Batman Returns’ primary screenwriter, basically threw out 50 years of comic book history when developing the film, but it works to the film’s advantage of becoming a singular and bizarrely compelling vision. Pfeiffer’s Selina Kyle is not really a cat burglar nor based on any established backstory told on the comic book page. She is a metaphor for what was perceived in the mainstream as the feminist struggle of the early 1990s. Which is to say she is a single woman working in a corporate world controlled by chauvinistic men and opportunists at all levels.

Her own implied childhood, defined by the dollhouse she keeps in her bedroom as an adult and the stuffed animals that still populate her apartment, is as important as Bruce’s. While his is marked by an operatic tragedy wherein his parents were murdered before his eyes, hers was apparently the middle class American dream that leaves her still trying to be the right kind of girl in an urban setting: She works studiously as a quiet and put-upon secretary by day, and waits by night on her answering machine…  where her boyfriend dumps her right before the holidays and robo-calls suggest a new perfume will make the boss “ask you to stay late.”

She’s bought into what was still the heteronormative fairytale (or American dream) of the late 20th century, and it leaves her lonely and aggrieved. It also leads to her literal death after her thankless efficiency causes her to discover the corrupt malfeasance of her boss, Max Shreck (Christopher Walken). When faced with a woman who sees through his generous billionaire illusions, Shreck silences her by pushing her through a window. In a post-#MeToo world, Batman Returns’ opening moments are more disturbing than ever.

They also make the allegory that follows so much more satisfying. In any other film, cats resurrecting a character from the dead by nibbling her frostbitten fingers would be the stuff of queasy camp (see the Catwoman movie of a decade later). But in Burton’s world where dream logic is as mundane as Christmas lights, it’s a natural catalyst toward the arc of Selina’s journey and, subsequently, the romance at the center of the movie. She is a metaphor for female liberation from patriarchal forces and expectations, circa 1992.

Risen from the dead and now with the power of nine lives, Selina is enraged by her murder yet freed from the pressures her previous life left shattered on a snow-encrusted alleyway. Her anger might make her seem “crazed” to the men around her, but that’s only because she has yet to find a way to channel it. So initially she contains it with needle and thread, sewing together a new psyche and persona to replace the one that was broken. And, indeed, for much of the rest of the movie Selina’s mental stability is visually linked to the state of her costume. As with the German Expressionist masters Burton channels furiously in both of his Batman movies, Selina finds internal meaning from her external appearance, and as that deteriorates from fights with Batman and the Penguin (Danny DeVito), so does the image of the “evil” Catwoman supervillain she has concocted.

In the meantime though, she becomes a perfect foil to Keaton’s Bruce Wayne, who is himself escaping the pressures of mainstream heteronormative life. Notably, this is in contradiction of what Batman (1989) screenwriter Sam Hamm originally intended for the character. After helping create a scenario in which Kim Basinger’s not-Lois Lane, Gotham Globe reporter Vicki Vale, discovers Bruce Wayne is Batman and agrees to wait up for him at night with Alfred, Hamm’s original draft for Batman II ended with Bruce proposing marriage to Vicki while adopting a young Dick Grayson on Christmas Eve. It was the American dream come true for the city’s benefactor.

It is also close to what probably a lot of audiences might’ve expected in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s from a sequel. It’s just so clearly not how Burton or, ultimately Keaton, saw the character. To hell with continuity and audience expectation; they were not going to introduce Catwoman as simply a naughty foil for Vicki Vale to defeat in the bedroom (read the early script!). Instead Vicki is only dismissed off-hand in the finished version of Batman Returns, with Bruce suggesting she had trouble “reconciling” his darker side to Selina.

Catwoman retorts, “It’s the so-called normal guys who always let you down. Sickos never scare me, at least they’re committed.” Selina then passionately kisses Bruce first.

Batman Returns recognizes the type of psychology that finds fulfillment (if not necessarily happiness) from wearing a costume and going out at night looking for action would never be content with staying home and playing house. It respects its characters enough to ask what they would really look for from a significant other, and the answer is about a million miles removed from the generally benign sitcom scenarios that fill out the background of countless modern superhero movies. Hence in their first scene as Bruce and Selina, he finds her fascinating when other men write her off as “damaged.”

Yes, Burton, Pfeiffer, and Keaton lean into the lascivious when Catowman pins Batman down to lick him in one moment, and then stab him with her claws in the next, but they also recognize something often unremarked upon at the center of these power fantasies: people who do this are a little weird. And what makes the romance poignant is that these versions of Bruce and Selina realize that deeper truth. Later in the movie, the Penguin (Danny DeVito) taunts that Batman is “just jealous because I’m a genuine freak and you have to wear a mask.” The Dark Knight does not dispute this. Rather, he and Selina embrace it.

In one of their other pivotal scenes, Bruce and Selina find each other again at a costume party (one that’s tastelessly being thrown by Max for the city’s elite on Christmas Eve), and they’re the only two to arrive without masks on. But then, to paraphrase another Batman movie, their faces are their masks. While in tuxedos and eveningwear, they’re basically playing Halloween by hiding from their true identities. Also as they dance, they realize in this moment that the other is their nocturnal antagonist (and obsession). It’s a moment of genuine tragedy as a single tear wells up around Selina’s eye, and Bruce wipes it away.

“Does this mean we have to start fighting again?” she asks. Bruce doesn’t answer, because he cannot accept the truth. So she’ll do it for both of them. During the movie’s climax, Selina Kyle is done playing dress up, either as Bruce Wayne’s latest liaison or as a supervillain who schemes with the Penguin like it’s a Saturday morning cartoon. She’s tried both hats on, and now winds up where she knows she must: with her hands around Max Shreck’s throat and ready to squeeze. 

Bruce attempts to intercede, offering Selina a respite from the darkness he embraced by killing the Joker in the last movie. Instead of seeking revenge like the men in her life do, he insists she can surrender Shreck to the authorities and come live with him. Bruce paints a picture where one of the city’s richest men is punished fairly by our institutions, and Bruce and Selina are at peace, living quietly in his mansion. Normal.

“Bruce, I would love to live with you in your castle, forever just like in a fairytale,” Selina says with a fading voice that betrays a moment of wistful daydreaming. She then slashes three claw marks across his face. “I just couldn’t live with myself.”

When we first met Pfeiffer’s Selina Kyle, she was playing by the rules and literally carried water for the men around her. At the end of the film, she is clear-eyed enough to see it would be a lie to seek a happily ever after as the rich man’s domesticated pet. She is done lying to herself and instead completes a portrait of liberation from the fables parents often tell daughters.

In its place, Selina creates her own modern parable with Bruce, one that is tragic, bittersweet, and which rings as unflinchingly true for these characters and the world they reflect. It gives Batman Returns and its romance a sorrowful soul, and it’s as undeniable as the frigid snow melting on a lonely billionaire’s face later that night. He’s going home alone. Maybe a little wiser.

It is not the only good romance in a superhero movie. It’s not even the only good one between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle after last year’s The Batman at least promised the beginnings of something more accurate to their modern dynamic in the comics. Yet when the genre is taken as a whole, Keaton and Pfeiffer’s BatCat tragedy is the only one that leaves a mark.

The post Batman Returns Still Has the Best Romance in a Superhero Movie appeared first on Den of Geek.

- Don Kaye
Why Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Has the Most Realistic Underwater Kingdom

One of the most memorable aspects of Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is the creation of the undersea kingdom of Talokan, ruled over by the mutant god-king Namor (Tenoch Huerta). Moving away from the comic book canon, in which Namor leads the more fantasy-based realm of Atlantis, director Ryan Coogler reinvented Talokan as an offshoot of an ancient Mayan society, with deep roots in Mesoamerican culture and history.

While Talokan and the Talokanil people are still wildly imaginative sci-fi/fantasy conceptions, the film and story nevertheless make them as realistic as possible (relatively speaking), grounded in both real South American cultural history and at least a smidgen of scientific plausibility. Much of this was brought to life in the film through the work of New Zealand’s Wētā FX, the iconic VFX house originally founded by director Peter Jackson.

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Among the portions of the film that Wētā worked on were creating Talokan itself, displayed in the sequences in which the kingdom’s history is revealed, and Namor takes Shuri (Letitia Wright) on a private tour. The latter in particular featured immersive CG-generated environments that included the population of the city, a marketplace, various gardens and temples, a transportation system, and the nation’s “sun,” the power source created by Namor, all rendered as realistically as possible.

Also on Wētā FX’s assignment list was water—lots and lots of it, with the CG environments designed to mesh seamlessly with plates shot in a physical tank.

“Water has a lot of challenges,” says Wētā VFX supervisor Chris White. “A lot of the stuff that we had were plates that were shot in the tank, filming underwater camera movement and then putting in digital environments behind it.”

And White has had a lot in thinking about how to visualize underwater living. too Before production on Wakanda Forever began, he worked extensively on the underwater realms of Avatar: The Way of Water. And he says one of the biggest challenges of filming an underwater environment is getting the little details right.

“A small example is that we needed to remove bubbles because they live deep underwater, you know, so you can’t have bubbles coming out their nose or stuck in their hair,” he explains. “Digitally, there’s a lot of challenges with movement, making realistic movement in the cloth, movement in the hair. Skin reacts differently underwater, so it was important that the skin tone stayed correct, because skin tones on the characters vary in and out of water.”

Even some of the cultural details of Talokan are impacted by being set in watery environments, as White also reveals. “One of the things that we were trying to balance is that in a lot of the Mayan culture, red is a very significant color,” he says. “You’ll see red in [Namor’s] throne room and red on different things. But the natural physics of water means red gets absorbed very quickly, and you don’t actually see much red under water. So it’s finding that balance between realism and creative.”

A major part of the job on a project like Wakanda Forever is research, which begins about five or six months in advance of any CG rendering, according to White. Wētā has compiled a vast library of information over the years, ranging from research papers to NASA footage, which allows the VFX house to find and plug in almost anything that the filmmaker may request, from different hues of water to the shape of marine snow (the random material, including fish poop, that floats around in the ocean).

When it came to creating Talokan and what the undersea city-state looked like, White says that they were “striving for having that realistic foundation,” which is something that Coogler stressed from the start.

“Ryan said, ‘I want it to be what it’s like down there. It should be dark. You don’t have to see too far,’” White recalls. “The director of photography as well was like, ‘It’s okay to let things fall off in the darkness. You don’t have to see everything.’ So it was okay for things to get out of focus and blurry back there, because that’s what it looks like down there.”

He continues, “With the tank footage we shot, there was a lot of cloudiness in the tank and I thought, ‘Oh, they’re never going to let us get away with having it that cloudy.’ But they said, ‘No, let’s go with that. That’s what it looks like.’ Some of the compliments I had from some of my friends who dive and saw the film said, ‘That’s what it feels like when you go underwater.’ So it was nice to the filmmakers were embracing that and allowed us to do that.”

That attention to detail extended to the design and construction of Talokan’s capital city itself, with White adamant that the undersea metropolis had to be a functional, working environment in addition to a richly multi-dimensional cultural center.

“Even before we get into rendering, we’re asking, how big is the city? How is this relative to the size of Chicago? How many people would be in there? What would be the districts?” says White. “You know, all of those kinds of principles. How do they light the walls? There are designs in the architecture that are actually filtration systems that are filtrating the water and all kinds of things that you wouldn’t know as you whip by. But all of those little details, we try to ask, can we ground this in science? Everything needs to have a purpose, or a reason, so we look at those things and try and take that in mind.”

It’s that incredible, precise attention to every detail—whether it be the way that the Talokanil move through the water or the colors of the historical designs on the walls of Namor’s throne room—that makes Talokan and the overall world of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever seem so real to viewers, even if they don’t necessarily notice every tiny aspect themselves. At least not consciously.

“The viewers are so sophisticated when things don’t look right, and they have such a critical eye in a good way,” says White. “What we found is that unless you put those details in there, you can feel when they’re not there. Whether they can see it or not, they can kind of feel that something’s off. It’s those little micro-details that add to the realism. So when we dig into it like that, whether it’s visible or not, we know that it helps the overall picture.”

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is streaming now on Disney+ and arrives on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on Feb. 7.

The post Why Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Has the Most Realistic Underwater Kingdom appeared first on Den of Geek.

- Lauravickersgreen
ITV Nolly Review: Russell T Davies’ Heartfelt Tribute to ‘Difficult’ Women

Warning: contains plot details

Watching Nolly will divide a generation: you’ll either be surprised you haven’t heard of her (even if she was ‘a bit before your time’), or even more surprised you’d somehow forgotten she ever existed.

She certainly seems instantly unforgettable, thanks in part to Helena Bonham Carter’s assured depiction of her full-throttle, take-life-by-the-horns character (infamous red dye job included), but also thanks to Nolly writer Russell T Davies’ very obvious affection for the real Noele Gordon. 

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Davies respectfully litters the series with references to her many underappreciated achievements in the television industry. If you do know Noele Gordon, you’ll most likely know her as a daytime TV stalwart who propped up the naff-but-beloved British soap Crossroads (even if she couldn’t prop up the show’s infamous wobbly scenery) as motel owner Meg for the best part of two decades. 

But the reality, as Nolly shows us, is she’s a bit of an unsung feminist icon in showbiz: she worked with John Logie Baird to become the first woman on colour television in 1938, she was the first woman to interview a Prime Minister (Harold Macmillan in 1958), and she studied television production in New York and returned to become the UK’s first female TV executive. Even as a soap star, she excelled, winning the TV Times’ Best Actress Award six years in a row until they had to invent a new award just for her.

But all these achievements don’t stop her being unceremoniously sacked from Crossroads, a move more shocking than many of the soap’s bizarre cliffhanger endings, and a mystery to everyone including Nolly herself. It makes for an interesting premise to the series – ‘Why was Noele Gordon sacked?’ becomes the show’s own version of soap mysteries like ‘Who shot JR?’ and ‘How is Ian Beale still alive?’ – and the way the cast and crew react is its own humorous soap-like drama, camply sharing the latest rumours with hammy gasps of outrage. 

The outrage of Gordon’s Crossroads colleagues is important, too, because despite her amusingly diva-esque qualities in the first episode (steamrolling the rehearsal, amending the script, stage directions and even one of the character’s accents, and having her own chair in the green room that no one else would dream of sitting in), she’s clearly deeply beloved. Her on-screen daughter Jane (Antonia Bernath) permanently calls Nolly ‘mum’, and her co-star and best friend Tony Adams (played with scene-stealing vim and comic timing by The Morning Shows Augustus Prew) enables her every whim. 

Even producer Jack – the brilliant Con O’Neill, a true acting chameleon, which is a good job considering he’s in everything at the moment – puts up with Nolly’s demands with stony-faced stoicism. Maybe that’s because he knows that when she says ‘I am making this show better if I have to haul it out of the grave line by line’, she means it, and has the considerable TV experience to back it up.

Davies’ writing goes slightly heavy-handed on this at times, getting characters to parrot references to her good deeds, and the fact that she knew everyone’s name – ‘even the cleaners, and the girls on reception’ – but the point is made: her sacking is completely unjustifiable.

While reports of Nolly’s on-screen death are greatly exaggerated – there’s a very funny sequence where the cast and crew try to discover how Nolly’ character Meg is being written out, a secret the production team goes to great lengths to keep under wraps – but what about the woman behind this very public scandal? That’s where Davies really comes into his own – as ever, he pulls no punches, showing how isolated and ordinary she is when the spotlight isn’t on her. Away from the headlines and speculation, Noele Gordon was simply treated very badly indeed, and the fact she has no idea why makes this even sadder. 

Nowhere is this more heartbreakingly felt than in the utterly compelling scene between her and Larry Grayson (Mark Gatiss), who was one of Noele Gordon’s closest friends. Their tender-hearted, soul-searching backstage exchange is a brutally honest outpouring of fear, resignation at their careers coming to an end, and contemplating what little they’ve got left once they can no longer perform. 

It’s a beautiful depiction of the fall of Nolly’s empire, as is the first day of Crossroads rehearsals without her, when one of her former co-stars says: ‘Never mention the Scottish play, never whistle backstage, and never sit in Nolly’s chair. These things remain inviolable.’ 

But the main thing that makes Noele Gordon’s story remarkable is how she responds to this public destruction. Yes, she has wobbles, there are moments when she breaks down, but on the whole? She simply fights on. When Tony asks her what she’ll do now Crossroads is over, she says: ‘Do you think I’d let those bastards stop me? I’ve got plans’. And, most poignantly of all, when Larry Grayson urges her to ‘Start again, show them, all those men, everyone who ever doubted you’, she replies: ‘Oh, watch me’, paraphrasing the real Noele Gordon’s words on the day she was sacked.

Yes, she endures, against incredible odds, returning to the stage and touring across Asia, but Russell T Davies doesn’t completely canonise her. He makes an excellent, comedic job of memorably displaying her imperfections: when she snaps at an autograph hunter in a restaurant, she makes amends by paying for their meal ‘but not the wine’, and, after arriving at rehearsals in her Rolls, she announces of her colleague: ‘I think Pamela’s going to be late, I drove past her at the bus stop.’

But at the end of the day, Nolly is a Russell T Davies love letter, not only to Noele Gordon – giving her a proper send-off and bringing her rightfully back into the public consciousness – but also to every ‘woman of a certain age’ who is still today being put in her place and ridden roughshod over, who is still called ‘difficult’ when she knows what she wants, ‘bossy’ instead of ‘assertive’. Nolly might be set in the 1980s, but – as the current Act Your Age campaign, which fights against gendered ageism in the TV and film industry, shows – it’s still painfully relevant.

Nolly’s story ends, like her career and her life itself (she died of stomach cancer in 1985, ending a too-little-too-late attempt to bring her back to Crossroads) before her time. At times the series seems rushed, like Davies wanted to pack too much in, and some of the flashbacks highlighting her many achievements feel a bit shoe-horned and sporadic, but it’s still one of his typical masterclasses on not holding back, leaving everything on the page. Including – unlike many screenwriters these days – the big ‘I love you’ moments. 

This is why Nolly will stay in viewers’ memories for a long time to come, which is in itself its own kind of justice for the real Noele Gordon. She wasn’t just written out of Crossroads, she was written out of history, cut off before her time and then discarded and forgotten. We can’t help thinking that this three-part drama telling her story, putting Noele Gordon back on our TVs where she belongs, would be exactly what Nolly would have wanted.

Nolly is available to stream on ITVX in the UK.

The post ITV Nolly Review: Russell T Davies’ Heartfelt Tribute to ‘Difficult’ Women appeared first on Den of Geek.

- Kirsten Howard
Marvel Phase 4 Movies and TV Shows Ranked

This article contains MCU spoilers.

It’s over! It’s officially over. Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is finally in our rear view mirror, and what did we learn? We learned that Marvel Studios wasn’t going to stop taking risks after capping off Phase 3 with the box office juggernaut of Avengers: Endgame. In fact, they were going to take more risks than ever. Sometimes, those risks paid off. Other times, they did not. But during a transformative time for the MCU, Phase 4 was, for the most part, determined not to offer the one thing that would have made older fans happy but would have perhaps discouraged newer, younger fans from emerging: more of the same.

As such, the MCU got a whole slate of brand-new and diverse characters. Moon Knight, the Eternals, Ms. Marvel, Shang-Chi, She-Hulk, Kate Bishop, Yelena Belova, John Walker, Ironheart, Agatha, Red Guardian, Clea, Echo, Scarlet Scarab, and Werewolf By Night joined the sprawling universe, while the old guard – Spider-Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Loki and Doctor Strange – seemed to be either wrapping up their stories, or changing in ways that would make any future appearances intriguing.

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The team at Den of Geek and you, the readers, have now voted on our favorite MCU Phase 4 projects, and the results are pretty interesting, with Marvel’s Disney+ TV shows getting more love than expected.

Without further ado, here are the results!

Marvel's Eternals 17. Eternals

Let’s give Eternals credit where it is due. Kevin Feige had big plans for this Phase Four entry, not just thematically but also on a technical level. Choosing to adapt a lesser-known Jack Kirby creation, Feige tried to match the mighty artist’s ambitions, bringing in groundbreaking director Chloé Zhao and screenwriters Patrick Burleigh, Ryan Firpo, and Kaz Firpo to tell a story about lost faith, the creation of the universe, and individual will. Aided by a fantastic cast, including Bryan Tyree Henry, Barry Keoghan, and Angelina Jolie, Eternals sought to shake up the Marvel Universe post Thanos-snap. 

Whatever the filmmakers’ intentions, what we got was a plodding, dull mess. Like the comics on which it was based, Eternals never reached the heights of Kirby’s Marvel work with Stan Lee or his Fourth World Saga at DC. A flat story with uninspiring visuals and laughable gestures toward humanity (that sex scene!?!), Eternals failed to capture anyone’s imagination. Even its more compelling ideas, such as Kumail Nanjiani Kingo choosing to skip the final battle rather than fight his old friend Ikaris, felt like mistakes rather than genre breaks. In the end, Eternals may be a noble failure, but it’s a failure nonetheless. – Joe George

Moon Knight 16. Moon Knight

When you have Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawke leading a Marvel series, you expect it to be good, right? Well unfortunately for everyone involved, Moon Knight fell short of many people’s expectations for what the MCU’s first true foray into the supernatural should look like. Its convoluted plot feels like an origin story that was trying too hard to not be an origin story given that we don’t really find out Steven Grant and Marc Spector’s true relationship until late in the season. Featuring Oscar Isaac’s version of Steven Grant as the primary protagonist rather than Marc Spector or Jake Lockley divided viewers of the series, with most either wanting to protect Grant’s innocent nature at all costs or loathing his insufferable cluelessness. The series also made the interesting choice to have both Marc and Steven black out during certain violent fight scenes to avoid introducing Jake until the final episode, and that certainly didn’t score any points with fans who were expecting to at least see Daredevil-level fight scenes.

But that’s not to say that Moon Knight shouldn’t be applauded for taking risks within the six episode limit that most hour-long Disney+ series seem to have. It definitely doesn’t feel like any other entry in the MCU thus far, and there are enough good things buried within it that deserve to be explored further (though maybe not in an entire second season). For example, May Calamawy as Layla El-Faouly is a delight to watch every time she’s on the screen and honestly deserves more time in the MCU than Steven Grant does (sorry it’s true). Watching her kick ass before and after she became the avatar for Taweret was one of the best parts of the series and hopefully this isn’t the last we’ve seen of her. – Brynna Arens

Thor and Jane 15. Thor: Love and Thunder

Like any other long-running cinematic endeavor, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has had its fair share of good films and bad films. Through its first three phases of storytelling, however, even the worst Marvel films felt as though the people behind them were at least putting in the work and trying to make a piece of superior superhero entertainment. Thor: Love and Thunder does not feel like that. In fact, Thor: Love and Thunder feels like the first Marvel movie ever to well and truly phone it in. 

Don’t get us wrong: there are aspects of Thor: Love and Thunder worthy of applause. Both Russell Crowe as Zeus and Christian Bale as Gorr the God Butcher appear to have gotten the memo that all of this is supposed to be fun. The screaming goats also never fail to amuse. Unfortunately, the rest of this movie (which feels weirdly short for a Marvel story of this scale) is a paint by numbers telling of How Thor Odinson Got His Groove Back with little visual imagination to speak of. In what’s surely a classic episode of Marvel Standom, Den of Geek’s own Joe George compared the tone of this film to a garish Old Spice commercial. Imagine his surprise then when the movie took some time out to have Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) literally do an Old Spice commercial. Maybe that would have been fun if Love and Thunder were self-aware enough. Instead it’s just tired – like the rest of this outing. – Alec Bojalad

Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson Captain America in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier 14. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Marvel’s road to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was a difficult one. Its release was delayed due to pandemic production issues, and as such it arrived on Disney+ after the ground-breaking WandaVision, when fans were reenergized by the idea of what Phase 4 might deliver. The story at the heart of the show is a solid geopolitical one that focuses on Sam Wilson’s resistance toward taking up the Captain America mantle, but when all was said and done, we hadn’t gotten much further in Sam’s story. Avengers: Endgame ended with Sam getting Steve Rogers’ shield. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier ended with Sam getting Steve’s shield again, and donning an admittedly cool new Cap costume. 

Some pieces of the story were met with a fair amount of success – Isaiah Bradley’s heart-wrenching tale of being abandoned by the US government and John Walker’s internal conflict stand out – but others were simply half-baked, including Bucky’s trauma healing, pulling Zemo into the mix for retconning and japes – not to mention the groan worthy Power Broker reveal. Ultimately, the show turned out to be too much of a mixed bag for many Marvel fans. – Kirsten Howard

She-Hulk (Tatiana Maslany) in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law 13. She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law was either the best thing that Marvel has ever done, or the worst thing Marvel has ever done, depending on who you’re asking. This show really took some risks with its meta nature and commentary, but it may have reached beyond its limits.

The series gave us drunk Madisynn, Wong on a Sopranos binge, Daredevil’s walk of shame, and K.E.V.I.N. But it also gave us some truly dodgy CGI, a plot that went nowhere, and its lead character twerking. She-Hulk should maybe get points for at least trying to tackle feminist issues, but the way it went about it was heavy-handed and trite, largely relying on worn-out tropes to get its points across. Featuring a string of cartoonish characters and MCU cameos, Jennifer Walters was almost pushed into the background of her own story, and a meta finale where she basically told the audience as much didn’t really help stick the landing. – Kirsten Howard

Uatu the Watcher from What If...? 12. What If…?

Marvel’s What If…? isn’t a bad series by any means. It features several interesting looks at new corners of the MCU multiverse and gives us the opportunity to see how different circumstances affected our favorite characters. We get to see zombie Avengers, Captain Carter, and hear Chadwick Boseman’s voice one more time as Star-Lord T’Challa. And yet, compared to other projects in Phase 4, What If…? still feels somewhat forgettable.

Even though Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness briefly connects to a couple of storylines, this animated series mostly still stands on its own. Sure, a knowledge of the original MCU story each episode is based on is helpful to understanding context, but it’s not entirely necessary. Since it doesn’t really connect to the MCU at large yet, this series is great for both casual Marvel fans and those of us who have been invested in this universe since 2008. Overall, it’s a well-done series that only falls short because this Phase has so many other great things going on. – Brynna Arens

Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) in Black Widow 11. Black Widow

The fourth phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe began with a bit of a stumble that, in retrospect, set the tone for the snakebit era which was to follow. This is not to say that Scarlett Johansson’s long belated solo film for Natasha Romanoff was bad. It is an almost textbook example of an adequate superhero/spy flick, with a few nifty sequences thrown in (plus a moody cover of “Teen Spirit” that we can vibe to). However, it arrived two years after the MCU killed Nat off in Avengers: Endgame, and it then launched with a whimper by premiering simultaneously on PVOD (via Disney+’s second paywall) and in theaters—resulting in a muted reception and legal wrangling that did Disney’s image no favors, including with its own talent!

Still, there are elements that make Black Widow a step above other complete Phase 4 misfires. For starters, Johansson appears more committed than ever to adding dimensionality to her superspy, and she partners well with Florence Pugh who makes a fantastic first impression as kid sister Yelena Belova. The dynamic between Natasha and Yelena is so good, in fact, it just reminds you how nice it would’ve been to see this evolve over several movies instead of arriving a day late and a dollar short. Still, the sleazy, low stakes villain reveal from the Widows’ past works well, even if the CGI eyesore spectacle at the end does not. – David Crow

Mantis in Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special 10. The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

Although current DC Studios co-head James Gunn still has Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 coming this summer, the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special feels like a goodbye to the MCU before he heads off to the Distinguished Competition. In a tight 45 minutes, Gunn squeezes in every little reminder of what he did so well, from a group of irreverent outcasts with daddy issues to a banging soundtrack. But the best part of the short is the opportunity for Dave Bautista and Pom Klementieff to show off their comedic chops. The special puts the duo’s chemistry on full display as Drax and Mantis embark on a misguided plan to kidnap Kevin Bacon as a Christmas gift for Peter Quill. 

Of course, the special has its problems, not least of which is the fact that Christmas is the only holiday it’s interested in celebrating. And a few major plot points, namely the Guardians’ acquisition of Knowhere and Mantis’s parentage, get dropped in awkwardly. But by the time Texas alt country mainstays the Old 97’s start rocking out in full alien makeup, all that falls away. With its mix of melancholy and irreverent humor, the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special distills everything we love about not only Gunn’s work, but the MCU as a whole: likable, odd characters, hanging out together. – Joe George 

Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan in Marvel's Ms. Marvel 9. Ms. Marvel

Befitting its middle position on our list, Ms. Marvel was really two different kinds of Marvel shows jammed into one six-episode package. One of those shows was very good. The other was … less so. The first half of Ms. Marvel is superb. Little known actress (and big Marvel fan) Iman Vellani immediately proves herself to be one of Marvel’s shrewdest casting choices yet as the loveable Kamala Khan. Vellani injects the “origin story” portion of Ms. Marvel’s first season with an obscene amount of charm as Kamala Khan looks to become the kind of winning street-level Spider-Man-esque hero that not even Peter Parker himself has gotten to be in the MCU thus far.

But then the second half rolls around and Ms. Marvel gets stuck in an unfortunate rut before rebounding for its enjoyable finale. The show takes all of Kamala’s youthful energy as a Pakistani-American teenager finding her voice in Jersey City and hides it behind an old story about odd archaeological discoveries, familial histories, and a crew of comic beings somehow even more obscure and lifeless than the Eternals. When Ms. Marvel was letting its kids be kids, it ruled. When the adults and their silly problems showed up, things ground to a halt. Hopefully, that’s a lesson Marvel’s Phase 5 has learned in time for Kamala’s return in this year’s The Marvels. – Alec Bojalad

Benedict Cumberbatch as Zombie Strange in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness 8. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Directed by Sam Raimi – making his first Marvel-based movie since 2007’s (pre-MCU) Spider-Man 3Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness lives up to its title in all sorts of ways. This is a wild, hang-on-to-your-hat ride through a deliciously weird, often bonkers house of mirrors known as the multiverse, full of mind-bending moments, trippy twists and a fistful of genuine surprises. It’s also very much a Sam Raimi horror movie done Marvel-style: demons, monsters, reanimated corpses, jump scares, doppelgangers and supernatural manifestations fill the frame, as Raimi races from scene to scene with barely a breath in between.

Yes, the plot spills out in fits and starts, and Multiverse of Madness has a frantic, on-the-edge-of-losing-control feel that sends it careening toward its next set piece while the rest of us catch up. Sometimes the movie also forcefully stops for a jarring exposition dump before dashing off again. But Raimi leans hard into comic book imagery here, and Multiverse of Madness might be the most outright comic book-y film in the entire MCU to date, throwing its more bizarre aspects against the wall in often messy but also gloriously weird fashion.

Benedict Cumberbatch is now comfortable in his fifth MCU outing as Strange, but the top acting honors go to Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda/Scarlet Witch, who brings palpable grief to a woman who’s lost her moorings but is also one of the most powerful creatures in the universe. And kudos to the game members of the Illuminati – John Krasinski as Reed Richards, Lashana Lynch as Captain Marvel, Anson Mount as Black Bolt, Hayley Atwell as Captain Carter, and Patrick Stewart as Professor X – for beaming into a sequence that had Marvel fans’ heads exploding. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness doesn’t always land right, and occasionally jumps its own tracks, but it also embraces its weirdness with vigor and abandon, and may be the MCU’s most off-the-wall entry yet. – Don Kaye

The Black Panther in Wakanda Forever 7. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Ryan Coogler never got to make the Black Panther sequel he intended. After the tragic passing of star Chadwick Boseman in 2020, it was impossible. What is remarkable about Wakanda Forever, then, is not that it got made, but that it became such a bittersweet love letter to Boseman’s brief but enduring legacy. The grief exuded by the cast and crew in this sequel is palpable as fictional characters in the nation of Wakanda mourn the loss of their King T’Challa just as sorrowfully as Boseman’s collaborators do onscreen.

Yet in the Black Panther actor’s absence, Coogler and company build a genuine ensemble piece in which characters who previously buttressed T’Challa’s story now share center stage. Together they forge their own dynamic tale, all while building the most compelling version of MCU geopolitics since the early Iron Man movies. Letitita Wright as the wrathful Shuri, Lupita Nyong’o as the more guarded yet grieving Nakia, and most especially Angela Bassett as Ramonda, the regal queen who has lost everything, each leave an indelible impression. Indeed, Bassett may win an Oscar for her most ferocious monologue.

The film also does its job of building the MCU out, gracefully too when it comes to creating another strong villain with real world grievances in the Black Panther franchise, this time courtesy of Tenoch Huerta’s Namor. Elsewhere, the formula-checking can be pretty mechanical, such as our introduction to Ironheart (Dominique Thorne). Overall though, the movie lingers as a four-quadrant wake that somehow puts a smile on your face. – David Crow

Simu Liu as Shang-Chi in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings 6. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

MCU Phase 4 was (mercifully) short on traditional origin stories. Ms. Marvel did it great, and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, even though it’s not exactly a “hero discovers their powers” kinda thing since Shang-Chi is already a martial arts master by the time we meet him, took a slightly less traditional, but no less effective approach. But that’s not what makes this one so good.

That would be Simu Liu. Or wait, maybe it’s the fun, inventive action sequences that at times brought the comedic but still perilous energy of classic Jackie Chan flicks (although without any of the risk to actual life and limb). Perhaps it’s the way it carefully treads the line between the geopolitical and magical corners of the MCU, making for some effective worldbuilding. Oh, wait, I’ve got it, it’s the fact that Tony Leung is the best Marvel screen villain in years. Or maybe it’s…oh forget it, you get the idea. This is a fun movie, one that feels just slightly apart enough from the rest of the MCU to forge its own identity, and we can’t wait to spend more time with its title character. – Mike Cecchini

Tom Hiddleston in Loki 5. Loki

Ever since he first appeared as Loki in 2011’s Thor, Tom Hiddleston has dutifully done whatever Marvel has asked of him. When the Marvel Cinematic Universe needed its first big bad for an Avengers film, Hiddleston as Loki stepped up for the New York-destroying events of The Avengers. When Marvel Studios needed an actor to appear in costume and ham it up at San Diego Comic-Con, Hiddleston threw on his golden horns and showed up. And when Avengers: Infinity War needed a sacrificial lamb to die at the hands of Thanos, Hiddleston gladly threw himself in the Mad Titan’s path. 

After all his tireless service to the MCU, Disney+ series Loki truly felt like Hiddleston’s reward. And what a reward it was! This six-episode show put Thor’s adopted brother at the front and center of the story where he belongs. Following the events of Avengers: Endgame when Loki absconded with the Tesseract, Loki finds the villain in the clutches of the Time Variance Authority to answer for his crimes against the Sacred Timeline. What follows is a wildly entertaining, satisfyingly self-referential sci-fi adventure that turns Hiddleston’s Loki into what he always was probably meant to be: a romantic hero. – Alec Bojalad

Gael Garcia Bernal as Jack Russell in Marvel's Werewolf By Night 4. Werewolf By Night

In the eyes of the public, Marvel is synonymous with superheroes, but the comic company first made its name with monsters; beasts like It, the Living Colossus and Fin Fang Foom. So it should come as no surprise that the MCU’s first pure horror story Werewolf by Night is a terrifying success. In his debut directing gig, Academy Award-winning composer Michael Giacchino brings classic sensibilities to the story, drawing from the romantic tradition of Universal horror, as well as Val Lewton’s suggestive use of shadow. The result is a perfectly paced 45 minute short with enough scares to satisfy the horror lovers without alienating the franchise’s core audience. 

But the real secret to the special’s success is the tried and true MCU formula, starting with perfect casting. The endlessly watchable Gael García Bernal is as charming as ever as Jack Russell, the titular werewolf, without sacrificing any of the vulnerability required for a good lycanthrope tale. We’ve seen snarky characters like Elsa Bloodstone throughout the Marvel Universe, but Laura Donnelly adds an earned sense of world weariness to her character, the rebellious daughter of a famed monster hunter. And Harriet Samson Harris eschews complexity all together for the special’s ultimate villain, the gloriously hammy Verussa. Toss in an impressive CG/practical hybrid for the lovable Man-Thing and you have a dark corner to the MCU that fans would kill to see again. – Joe George

Tom Holland and Zendaya in Spider-Man No Way Home 3. Spider-Man: No Way Home

After a pandemic-induced off year in 2020 during which Marvel Studios premiered no new movies, the MCU returned with four entries in 2021, all with varying degrees of quality and confidence. But its fourth and final entry of that year, Spider-Man: No Way Home, was clearly the best and the most important of the bunch. Expanding on the concept of the multiverse and introducing a cornucopia of villains and Spider-Men from alternate dimensions – including previous Spideys Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield – No Way Home not only gave those previous Spider-verses no small amount of closure but reset the world of our current Peter Parker (Tom Holland) in spectacular, highly emotional fashion.

Yes, No Way Home could be retitled Spider-Man: No Such Thing As Too Much Fan Service, but somehow director Jon Watts and the Marvel crew (producing this in tandem with Sony) made it all work, moving the story along in mostly clear fashion and giving everyone – even Rhys Ifans’ nearly forgotten The Lizard – at least a moment or two to shine (the award for Most Improved Villain goes to Jamie Foxx’s Electro, hands down).

At the heart of it all is Tom Holland, who does his best work to date as the MCU’s Peter and Spidey, whether matching wits with utility Avenger Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) or pushing himself to emotional extremes he has never reached before. It all pays off in a satisfying way for Holland’s version of the character, who faces a classic Spider-Man conundrum between doing the right thing and the easiest thing. Raising both the stakes and the emotional impact, No Way Home became something of an epic and a high point for not just Phase Four, but the MCU overall. – Don Kaye

Hawkeye, Kate and Christmas Trees 2. Hawkeye

Who would have thought that Hawkeye would turn out to be one of the most beloved entries in Marvel Phase 4? Well, for fans of Matt Fraction and David Aja’s run on the Hawkeye comics, it might have come as slightly less of a surprise than for folks who never fully warmed to Jeremy Renner’s low-key Clint Barton in the Avengers movies. But even those of us who knew that this series was taking inspiration from a true modern comics classic were taken aback by just how much fun Hawkeye ended up being.

In fact, tonally, the MCU could use more Hawkeye. Shot on location in New York City, set at Christmastime (and full of cool, fairly deep cut holiday tracks), and with the kind of (relatively) grounded action you would normally expect from an ‘80s action movie, Hawkeye felt noticeably different from its more cosmic, world shaking colleagues. And this is before we get into how it brought us an instant classic character in Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop, who certainly seems poised to lead a franchise of her own, or how it expertly wove in Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova, or even the fun bits of fan service with the return of Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk. None of these were sure things (ok, fine, you can’t really go wrong with any of those actors), but the fact that it all worked so harmoniously was nothing short of a Christmas miracle. – Mike Cecchini

Elizabeth Olsen In WandaVision 1. WandaVision

As the first of Marvel’s Disney+ series, WandaVision set a high bar not only for the other TV shows to come in the MCU, but for Phase 4 as a whole. The series pays homage to sitcoms while also giving Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) a complex and compelling arc that allows her to explore the grief she feels after losing Vision along with the true extent of her powers. WandaVision allows for nuance, not necessarily asking us to fully support Wanda’s takeover of an entire town, but instead asking us to sympathize with what she has gone through and understand that despite her abilities, she’s just as human as the rest of us.

WandaVision’s connections to the rest of the MCU don’t feel forced either. The series moves between the stylized sitcoms eras of Westview and the real-world with ease, allowing characters like Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), Jimmy Woo (Randall Park), and Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) to appear as they also try to figure out what happened in Westview and prove that Wanda isn’t the threat S.W.O.R.D. thinks she is. 

There are so many good things to say about WandaVision and the performances within it that it’s no surprise the series continues to be one of people’s favorites in the MCU. The show does justice to a complicated character and story while still being funny and entertaining, something that other entries in the MCU have shown us is a lot harder than it looks. – Brynna Arens

The post Marvel Phase 4 Movies and TV Shows Ranked appeared first on Den of Geek.

- Alec Bojalad
The Blacklist Season 10 Will Be the End of a TV Era

After a few days of fan frenzy over an unverified Instagram photo announcing the final season of The Blacklist, NBC confirmed on Feb. 1, 2023, that season 10 will be the last chapter of the enigmatic crime drama. These days, it’s rare for a show to tell 10 years’ worth of stories. The Blacklist’s ultimate chronicle premieres on Sunday, Feb. 26 at 10 p.m. ET/PT as Raymond Reddington (James Spader) confronts unparalleled danger. With Reddington’s covert role as an FBI informant facing exposure, former Blacklisters will unite against him in their lethal desire for revenge – testing Red and the FBI Task Force as never before. 

John Eisendrath, showrunner and executive producer, said “[a]fter 10 years, hundreds of ‘Blacklist’ cases and more than 200 episodes produced, we’re honored to reach our conclusion. It’s been incredibly fun to create the strange, devious and delightful Blacklisters to challenge Raymond Reddington and our FBI Task Force each week. We would like to thank everyone at NBC and Sony, our extraordinary crew who make the impossible happen every day, our endlessly inventive writers and producers, and our remarkable cast who brought life to these characters. We appreciate our dedicated fanbase who came along for this wonderful ride and are excited to share this final season with them.” 

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The Blacklist fanbase is, indeed, dedicated to this show. They are also some of the kindest souls banded together on social media and often offer a rich tapestry of irreverent delights in their online discourse. How many fingers go in James Spaders’ mouth when he eats an orange in a certain gif? What is the just-right number of shirt buttons for him to leave undone? How long is Red’s hair gonna get?

A season nine twilight Twitter poll revealed that the #1 reason to keep watching the show is “To find out who Red is.” Tied for #2 as fans’ top reasons to watch: “The Blacklist cases” and “FOLLOWING RED’S HAIR.” The actor playing Red’s love interest in season nine, Mierce Xiu (Karina Arroyave), confirms the positive support of the show’s supporters on social media:

I'm so happy James got his wish! It HAS been so wonderful. You guys are my favorite part of Twitter!❤️

— Karina Arroyave (@MoonchildK2) February 1, 2023

Last season The Blacklist reached 29.1 million viewers on NBC and more than doubled its 18-49 demo and total viewers in L+35 vs. same day. Streaming services onboard new The Blacklist enthusiasts everyday and the show has been enjoyed by millions of fans worldwide in 195 countries and 214 territories.

Fans are gearing up for season 10’s newest member of the cast: Siya Malik (Anya Banerjee). Siya is the daughter of Agent Meera Malik (Parminder Nagra), an original season one member of the team tasked with oversight of Red’s FBI collaboration to bring down criminals, name by name, on his blacklist.

Like many employees with a disgruntling future, Agent Siya Malik is charged with the work of two people. She is one person filling a two-person-sized hole on The Blacklist cast. Agents Aram Mojtabai (Amir Arison) and Alina Park (Laura Sohn) both left the FBI for other life-giving pursuits at the end of season nine. Not only will the newest Agent Malik have big shoes to fill, but she will also have to traverse the treacherous waters that beat against the hull of all those in the boat with the self-proclaimed Ahab: Raymond Reddington.

The genius of Red as both sinner and saint creates a character that is certainly akin to a normal human being, though larger-than-life. But that doesn’t mean Red’s endgame is larger-than-life as well. His endgame may be a reward that is utterly and undeniably just normal.

Certainly, one of the greatest desires of those fans in a long-term relationship with The Blacklist is a happy ending for Raymond “Red” Reddington, and the newly released NBC promo poster almost promises exactly that.

At the same time, The Blacklist is keeping everyone on a razor’s edge with a presumably new season ten quote from the criminal mastermind himself that ran in NBC’s new promo trailer: “There’s an ending waiting for all of us.”

The Blacklist stars James Spader, Diego Klattenhoff, Hisham Tawfiq, Anya Banerjee and Harry Lennix. John Eisendrath, Jon Bokenkamp, John Davis and John Fox of Davis Entertainment, James Spader, Lukas Reiter, Laura A. Benson, Daniel Cerone, Sean Hennen, Allison Glock-Cooper, T Cooper serve as executive producers.

The Blacklist season 10 debuts on NBC on Sunday, Feb. 26 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The series’ 200th episode will air Sunday, March 19.

The post The Blacklist Season 10 Will Be the End of a TV Era appeared first on Den of Geek.

- Matthew Byrd
Hogwarts Legacy PC Requirements: Can You Run the Game?

Gaming PCs have come a long way. These days, you don’t need a powerhouse of a computer to play many modern games, but being able to play a game is not the same as experiencing it in all its glory. This distinction is repeatedly driven home whenever a major new game is released, and few games in 2023 have drawn as much attention as Hogwarts Legacy.

If you haven’t been paying attention to the video game landscape (or were recently hit with the Memory Charm), Hogwarts Legacy is the latest game developed by Avalanche Software (the studio best known for Disney Infinity). Unlike other gaming entries set in the magical world of Harry Potter, though, Hogwarts Legacy takes place a good century before Harry Potter, Voldemort, or even Dumbledor apparated onto the scene. The game is an RPG that will let players make their own Hogwarts student, take classes, and play a key role in the 1890s goblin rebellion.

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Hogwarts Legacy was originally supposed to be released as far back as 2021, bay a series of delays pushed the game all the way to its upcoming 2023 debut. Those delays were sad news at the time, but they ultimately gave developer Avalanche an opportunity to polish Hogwarts Legacy.

Of course, the gaming hardware landscape changed significantly during that wait. Scalpers and chip shortages greatly reduced the availability of gaming-critical components (though stocks have increased as of late). Still, those shortages and the delays of Hogwarts Leagcy‘s PS4, Xbox One, and Switch versions have left a lot of fans wondering if their PC will be powerful enough to run the game. To help you answer that question, here are the two Hogwarts Legacy PC spec requirements you need to know about.

Hogwarts Legacy: Minimum PC Requirements

If you just want to play Hogwarts Legacy on your PC and aren’t looking for 4K resolution at 120 FPS, you won’t need very powerful hardware. The following is the bare minimum you will need to run the game on PC:

OS: 64-bit Windows 10 Processor: Intel core i5-6600 (3.3Ghz) or AMD Ryzen 5 1400 (3.2Ghz) Memory: 16 GB RAM Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 4GB or AMD Radeon RX 470 4GB DirectX: Version 12 Storage: 85 GB available space

If your computer meets these specs, you will be able to play Hogwarts Legacy at low settings and 720p resolution with decent, but stable, 30fps. While the game is best played on an SSD, an HDD will also work in a pinch.

Hogwarts Legacy: Recommended PC Requirements

If you want to push Hogwarts Legacy to its limits, you will need significantly beefier components. The following setup will let you explore Hogwarts in all its ray-traced glory:

OS: 64-bit Windows 10 Processor: Intel Core i7-8700 (3.2Ghz) or AMD Ryzen 5 36– (3.6Ghz) Memory: 16 GB RAM Graphics: NVIDIA Geforce 1080 Ti or AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT or INTEL Arc A770 DirectX: Version 12 Storage: 85 GB available space

If your gaming PC is close to, at, or exceeds those specs, you will be able to play Hogwarts Legacy on high settings at 1080p and 60fps. Although, if you are aiming for the best experience, Avalanche recommends using an SSD to make sure all the game’s textures and levels load as quickly as possible.

While the above requirements sound daunting, they are actually more than attainable. If you own a computer that was top of the line no more than several years old, you should be able to play the game on low or medium settings, while modern budget computers you can purchase at your local Best Buy surpass all of the recommended requirements. Even a Steam Deck will be able to play Hogwarts Legacy. However, anyone who wants to max out the game and play it at 4K and 60FPS will need a PC powered by an Intel Core i7-107000K and an Nvidia RTX 3090Ti (or some dragon heartstring).

Finally, while these are the game’s official hardware requirements, please note that nobody has gotten the chance to test the game on PC and share their findings. As such, it’s entirely possible that the game will suffer from performance issues that ultimately raise the minimum requirements. Thankfully, we won’t have to wait long to see exactly how well the PC version of the game performs.

The post Hogwarts Legacy PC Requirements: Can You Run the Game? appeared first on Den of Geek.

- Rosie Fletcher
The Snow Girl: a Netflix Thriller to Scratch Your Scandi-Noir Itch (Even Though it’s Spanish)

The Snow Girl is based on a 2020 novel by Spanish writer Javier Castillo. It tells the story of the abduction of a five-year old girl, Amaya Martín, from a crowded celebration for Twelfth Night. Twelfth Night is 5th January and it is the 12th day of Christmas, Christmas Day itself being the first (in case you ever wondered what the song or the Shakespeare play were on about). The Cabalgata de Reyes (Parade of Kings) is a Spanish festival held that evening that is especially popular with children, as during the colourful parade people playing the parts of the three kings from the story of the birth of Jesus hand out sweets to the crowd.

In 2010, it all goes horribly wrong for Ana and Álvaro when Álvaro briefly lets go of their daughter Amaya’s hand and Amaya disappears. The series follows the attempts of a young investigative journalist called Miren, who is recovering from her own past trauma, to find the missing girl. It also follows the police investigation, and every now and again it checks in on the status of the missing girl’s parents as well. Miren, however, is the main character.

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The series is not inspired by any specific true story, though its focus on a child abduction will obviously call to mind real life cases. For British viewers, it will immediately remind them of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann from further along the same coast, in Portugal, at the same age as the victim in the book, three years old (in the TV series she has been aged up to five). As the series goes on, other real crime cases as well as other well known abduction novels will also be brought to mind, but we won’t say any more about those here.

The inspiration behind the novel is more personal, though. According to Ready Steady Cut, Castillo was out walking with his wife and young daughter and let go of his daughter’s hand for a moment. This story came from his own anxieties around something happening to her, and it explores every parent’s worst nightmare – losing sight of your child for a moment in a crowd and them disappearing, leaving you to wonder if you will ever see them again.

The series takes in themes and content related to, as the Netflix content warning explains, suicide, sexual violence, bad language and the theme of abduction. It has several things in common with one of the most famous Scandi-noir stories, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, featuring a tough but simultaneously vulnerable female protagonist, an older male journalist, past trauma informing present actions, and the uncovering of some truly vile criminals. The title also evokes another Scandi-noir story about a crime against a child, Miss Smilla’s Feeling For Snow by Peter Høeg, which was adapted into a film in 1997.

Of course, it won’t have escaped anyone’s attention that the climate of Spain is not quite the same as that of Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, or Finland. That’s probably why the original novel, although written in Spanish by a Spanish author, was set in New York City.

New York is, of course, not Scandinavia either, but the climate of its winters is much closer to the cold climate of Scandinavia than Spain’s is. In the novel, the (American) young girl is kidnapped from the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, which takes place in November. There is quite often snow in New York at that time of year, and throughout the winter, so it presumably seemed like a good setting for a Scandi-noir inspired story.

For the television adaptation, though, the story has been shifted to Castillo’s home town of Málaga on the southern coast of Spain. Sitting right on the Costa del Sol, Málaga is better known to British holiday makers as a resort for the hordes of British people looking to escape the rain in the summer and enjoy a beach holiday on the Mediterranean coast. It does rain in Málaga in the winter, but the temperature rarely goes below about 8°C even in January and the summers are hot and dry.

There are plenty of mystery and suspense stories set in warmer climates, but that isn’t the route this show has taken. Rather, the series has stuck to the story’s Scandi-noir-style roots in its filming style as well as its themes. Many scenes are set in bare, concrete rooms or on dark streets at night. Scenes set in a rural home in the countryside have been filmed on the dullest, windiest days of the Spanish year so that the cast can wear reasonably warm-looking clothing, though nothing quite as heavy as the iconic woollen jumper worn by Sarah Lund in The Killing.

Some other techniques have been used to call to mind colder, wetter stories as well. In the opening sequence, for example, Amaya is wearing a yellow hooded raincoat and asks her father for a red balloon. This immediately makes the viewer think of the recent adaptation of Stephen King’s IT, a story that also features crimes against children and that is set somewhat closer to the novel’s original setting, in Maine, in New England.

Occasionally, the series could not help but show the glorious sunshine that gives the Costa del Sol its name in the summer. In these cases, the show uses a lot of wide shots of empty blue skies and almost too bright sun, aiming to give the idyllic weather so many British tourists crave a sinister streak.  Of course, the “snow” of the title has to take on a more metaphorical meaning thanks to the change of setting. But the themes, tone, grim subject matter and sometimes the literal darkness of the night-time-set scenes are all lovingly evocative of Scandi-noir, despite the much warmer climate.

The series is well acted by a cast not well known outside of Spain. It follows a suspenseful, twisting plot across three different timelines, but without ever becoming confusing. In places it is touching, while other scenes will have you on the edge of your seat as the tension ratchets up. It is primarily a suspense thriller rather than a mystery, but the answers to the series’ puzzles are intriguing and well explored. It is available either in the Spanish original with English subtitles, or dubbed into English if you prefer. The voice acting on the dubbed version is solid and the translations are mostly good too, with only the occasional phrase coming out a bit strangely in English.

So, if you’re looking for your next Scandi-noir fix, it might be worth your while looking south instead of north. You might be surprised how effective a dark noir story set on the Coast of the Sun can be!

The post The Snow Girl: a Netflix Thriller to Scratch Your Scandi-Noir Itch (Even Though it’s Spanish) appeared first on Den of Geek.

- Matthew Byrd
The Last of Us: How Long Does It Take to Beat the Games?

HBO’s incredible The Last of Us series has clearly generated renewed interest in The Last of Us games. Sales of The Last of Us game are up, and many fans of the show are wondering if it’s worth playing through the games as they watch the series (or possibly after). Of course, that renewed interest has also led to more people wondering just how long it takes to beat The Last of Us games.

As always, the answer to that question does depend on a few factors. Most notably, those who may not have as much experience with more modern games (or those who try to play the games with higher difficulty settings enabled) will naturally spend more time with the games than some other players will. Ultimately, most people wondering how long it takes to play the games really want to know how much time they should expect to set aside for them. There’s no universal answer to that question, though we can offer some hopefully helpful estimates.

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Generally speaking, it will take most players about 15 hours to beat The Last of Us (or the PS5 remake, The Last of Us Part 1). For comparison’s sake, there will be nine hour-long (roughly) episodes of The Last of Us HBO show. If you’re hoping to trim your Last of Us playthrough down to around that 10-hour mark, you’ll need to crank the game’s difficulty down to the lowest possible settings and consider utilizing an online walkthrough to help you clear any progression hurdles. That’s even easier to do with The Last of Us Part 1 PS5 remake, which offers a difficulty option intended for absolute beginners as well as additional difficulty modifier options.

The Last of Us Part 1 and The Last of Us Remastered also include The Last of Us: Left Behind DLC adventure. That DLC extends the base campaign’s runtime by about 3-4 hours. So while you could trim down your Last of Us playtime even further by tracking down the DLC-free PS3 version of the base game, that probably won’t be a realistic option for many people. Besides, Left Behind is truly exceptional as well as an important piece of The Last of Us mythology. Based on previews of the HBO series, it also certainly seems like we can expect to see the events of that DLC play out in the show.

If you’re looking to skip ahead a bit and play The Last of Us Part 2 before the HBO show’s second season airs…well, you should know that you’re embarking upon a considerably more substantial adventure.

It will take the average player about 20-25 hours to beat The Last of Us Part 2. If anything, that estimate veers towards the shorter side. Part 2 is a significantly longer game than its predecessor and features generally more complicated gameplay sections. It could easily take you closer to 30 hours to beat the game. In fact, some criticized the sequel for perhaps being a bit too long.

If you’re looking to see everything the games have to offer (collectibles, etc.), you should expect to spend 25+ hours on The Last of Us and 40+ hours on The Last of Us Part 2. On the other end of the spectrum, you could always watch a fan “movie” compilation that basically compiles the cutscenes and non-interactive story sections from both games. It will take you about five hours to watch one dedicated to The Last of Us and about seven hours to watch one for The Last of Us Part 2. It’s not necessarily the ideal way to experience either game, but hey, they are there if you need something more substantial than a Wikipedia page and less of a commitment than the games themselves.

The post The Last of Us: How Long Does It Take to Beat the Games? appeared first on Den of Geek.

- Jeremy Mathai
M. Night Shyamalan Didn't Expect His Knock At The Cabin Cameo To Make The Final Cut

You know the drill. A new M. Night Shyamalan movie comes out, everyone enters into fierce debates over whether the divisive filmmaker has finally found his footing again, and then we rinse and repeat the exact same cycle two years later. Welcome to the internet!

But the arrival of the newest Shyamalan film also signals another fun little trend, too. The Indian-American director has always had a penchant for including his own cameos wherever he can. Some end up taking on a surprising level of narrative significance, like in "Signs" or 2021's "Old." Others are clearly just for fun, thrown in as a bit of lighthearted comic relief like in his "Eastrail 177" trilogy. (That's in reference to "Unbreakable," "Split," and "Glass," for the uninitiated!) So as "Knock at the Cabin" debuts in theaters today and this weekend, Shyamalan fans know enough to keep their eyes peeled in the midst of the end-of-the-world mayhem for that very familiar face.

Rest assured, we won't spoil his cameo here or the finer points of the film in order to give everyone a chance to catch it for themselves in theaters, but be warned that the latter half of this article includes Shyamalan's thoughts on his brief appearance in "Knock at the Cabin," the tone of his cameo, and more. If you'd rather go in knowing absolutely nothing, then read on at your own peril!

Knock At The Cameo

You know what? When you're a filmmaker who specializes in telling original stories on mid-level budgets, self-funds those movies, and ends up pumping out box office hits one after another when theaters sorely need the business, then you're well within your rights to have a little harmless fun at our expense. For my money, "Old" just might feature his most fascinating and self-deprecating cameo yet, but you certainly won't want to miss his moment in "Knock at the Cabin."

Those who've seen it already will know exactly what I'm talking about, but everyone else ought to remain on the lookout for one of Shyamalan's funniest self-inserts in his entire filmography. In an interview with Collider, the director opened up about shooting this particular cameo and whether or not he ever thought it'd actually end up in the final cut:

"Sometimes I'm not in the films because I just can't, it doesn't seem right. And this one I thought, 'For sure, I'm not going to be in.' That's what I thought for sure. And then in pre-production, I was like, 'You know what? I have a funny idea.' And then everybody enjoyed the concept so much. I was like, 'All right, let's go shoot.' It was the first thing we shot, this thing that's in 'Knock at the Cabin.' And I was like, 'This is never going to end up in the movie.' And it did. And the editor was like, 'I love it. It's so funny.' And I was like, 'You sure?'

Needless to say, a one-location thriller with an incredibly small cast posed a logistical challenge to incorporate Shyamalan into the action, but he certainly found a funny and clever way to get in on the action.

"Knock at the Cabin" is now in theaters. 

Read this next: The Best Horror Movie Performances Of 2022

The post M. Night Shyamalan Didn't Expect His Knock at the Cabin Cameo to Make the Final Cut appeared first on /Film.

- Witney Seibold
Knock At The Cabin Is M. Night Shyamalan At His Worst

This article contains spoilers for the film "Knock at the Cabin."

M. Night Shyamalan's new film "Knock at the Cabin," based on the novel "The Cabin at the End of the World" by Paul G. Tremblay, has a supernatural premise that is never fully delved into. And while obfuscating the finer mechanics of the film's fantasy setup certainly adds to its general air of mystery, what Shyamalan and his co-screenwriters Steve Desmond and Michael Sherman have chosen to leave in reveals some dark and deeply morally irresponsible things. By the end of "Knock," one might see a downright bigoted ethos being advocated. The ending is especially galling, given how much on-screen suffering the two lead characters went through. 

Ben Aldridge and Jonathan Groff play Andrew and Eric, a happily married couple who are vacationing with their young daughter Wen (Kristen Cui) at a remote lakeside cabin in Pennsylvania. Andrew and Eric are happy, but they didn't come by their happiness easily. Flashbacks reveal that their relationship was rejected by their bigoted parents. When preparing to adopt Wen, they were accosted by a bigot in a bar, and Andrew was smashed over the head with a beer bottle for the crime of talking to his husband in public. When they adopt Wen, Andre has to pretend to be a potential uncle rather than the girl's father. 

Despite it all, the two men have survived to be happy. When a doomsday cult breaks into their cabin demanding a sacrifice, it only speaks to how much is at stake for Andrew, Eric, and Wen. They fought to get what they have, and now, a seemingly random, itinerant doomsday cult is threatening that.

Who Lives And Who Dies?

The doomsday cult is made up of the gentle-voiced Leonard (Dave Bautista), the panicked Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird), the peacemaker Adriane (Abby Quinn), and the downright combative Redmond (Rupert Grint). They break into the cabin, but then gently explain that they have been guided by "visions" to this place. Their psychic premonitions have dictated that the world will soon end, but also that it can be prevented. If one of the three main characters murders another, it will count as a sacrifice and the world will be saved. If they do not, the cult will murder one of its own members ... thereby unleashing a deadly plague that will kill thousands. If all four of the doomsday cultists die, the world will end. 

Over the course of the film, Eric and Andrew consistently refuse, and the cultists begin getting killed off. They then scan the TV, and lo, a tsunami hits. Then a disease that rapidly wipes out children. And so on. 

This is a suspicious detail: the disasters on TV are all pre-recorded. The tsunami in question actually made landfall some four hours before the opening of the film, leading Andrew to rightfully posit that the doomsday cultists are in fact merely some sort of twisted extreme religious sect that is aiming to harass, convert, or murder queer people for their own bigoted reasons. Their "sacrifice" story was carefully timed to match the news reports on TV. 

What's Stated, What's Unstated

More suspicious: Redmond is, in fact, the same man who smashed Andrew in the head with a beer bottle years before.

More suspicious still: the four cultists met on a message board online. In a post-4Chan world, the phrase "we met on a message board" is a red flag for extremism and bigotry.

Whatever the premise, the harsh visual of two queer men being tied up and threatened by a quartet of apocalyptic doomsayers may be difficult for some viewers. There is some dialogue inserted into the screenplay, allowing the cultists to announce their lack of homophobia, and that their victims' queerness has nothing to do with why they were targeted by the unnamed Sacrifice Deity. There is, however, a palpable reason to believe that "Knock" is about the dangers of modern extremism. For a moment, it looks like Shyamalan has written a terse, home-invasion drama about the pervasive presence of doomsday-worshiping extremists in 2023 America, and how queer people are, even at this late date, specifically targeted by such groups. Some of the anti-queer legislation that has been currently working its way through the U.S. government is certainly salient to the events of this film. 

That's not what "Knock at the Cabin" is about.

As the film elapses, Eric finds himself increasingly convinced that the doomsayers are right, and that a blood sacrifice of him or of his family is necessary to keep the world intact. If the world does end, Leonard explains, Eric, Andrew, and Wen will survive, left to wander a scorched Earth. Andrew rightly yells what much of the audience is probably feeling: if the world requires the murder of a gay man at the hand of his husband in order to keep turning, then let the world burn. 

The Worst Ending

At this juncture, there are several potential endings poised. Shyalaman chooses the worst one.

In one scenario, no sacrifice is made, but the world remains. The cultists are proven wrong, and the online death machine claimed four deluded souls. In another scenario, no sacrifice is made and Andrew and Eric flee, only to find the world ends anyway. Having proven their moral rightness over an unjust Higher Power, however, they happily wander the scorched Earth in peace. In a third scenario, a sacrifice is made, but the world ends nevertheless. The events in the cabin, in that case, would be the final panicked moments of waning humanity. 

A final scenario, however, is the one the filmmakers chose. The cultists die, instigating the apocalypse. Planes fall from the sky and lightning strikes increase. Eric pleads with Andrew to kill him and stop all this. Think of Wen and the future she would have with civilization intact. Andrew already argued that the continued survival of the world may not be worth it -- a nihilistic theme to be sure, but a theme nonetheless -- but Eric feels the world is worth saving. Andrew, in a moment of sadness and resolve, murders his own husband. The sacrifice immediately undoes the world's disasters, and the world persists. 

Andrew looks through the cultists' belongings and finds they were exactly who they said they were. They were, Shyamalan seems to say, honest, ordinary people. 

One can't help leaving the theater deeply hurt by Shyamalan's message. Yes, the world is alive, and thank goodness the bigot was right. And that a gay man is dead. The world can only continue to turn so long as an unacknowledged and persecuted queer couple is forced to kill and die for its benefit.

What Was Being Said

Perhaps Shyamalan was trying to make a point about how persecuted people are too frequently pushed aside and killed by a bigoted world. Indeed, a 2019 Canadian horror film called "Spiral" (not to be confused with the "Saw" sequel with the same title) dealt with something similar. In that film, a gay couple moves into a nice home in a rich neighborhood, only to find microaggressions and subtle hatred from their neighbors. The inability of the gay characters to assimilate into a bigoted neighborhood will eventually play into a plot about religious sacrifice as well. It's explained in dialogue that the "Spiral" cultists target persecuted groups specifically and drive them insane with their prejudice. It's not a great film, but "Spiral" is at least reaching for a message about the insidious power of prejudice. 

"Knock" has no such ambitions. The film's beatific music and peaceful scenery don't belie a dark message. Shyamalan is not saying that the world is so bleak that it eats up queer people. One can only walk away from "Knock at the Cabin" with the sensation that Shyamalan was making a "Left Behind"-style Evangelical film about the righteous hatred of hardcore extremists, and how queer people need to die out to set the world at ease.

And that's really, really horrible.

Read this next: The Best Cosmic Horror Movies That Will Make You Hate The Unknown

The post Knock at the Cabin is M. Night Shyamalan at His Worst appeared first on /Film.

- Vanessa Armstrong
AMC's Mayfair Witches Conjures Up A Second Season

The Anne Rice universe at AMC continues to expand. Today we found out that the network has officially greenlit the second season of "Mayfair Witches," the show based on the books by author Anne Rice. The television series centers around Rowan (Alexandra Daddario), a surgeon who becomes drawn to New Orleans after her adoptive mother dies, who finds out that she's part of a long line of witches who are intertwined with a mysterious, supernatural being named Lasher (John Huston).

"Mayfair Witches" is the second AMC Network show based on Anne Rice's work. The first series adaptation was "Interview With The Vampire," which had its first episode drop just a couple of months before "Mayfair." While "Mayfair Witches" wasn't as critically well-received as "Interview With The Vampire," the execs at AMC are apparently happy enough with it to give it at least one more season. "Interview With The Vampire" also has a second season in the works, which AMC announced before the first episode even aired.

What Will Season 2 Of Mayfair Witches Be About?

The first season of "Mayfair Witches" followed the events in Anne Rice's thousand-page tome, "The Witching Hour." The second season will adapt the second book, "Lasher," a much shorter book of 400 pages that will unsurprisingly feature the sexy and enigmatic Lasher in a new light.

Here's what showrunner Esta Spalding told me about season 2 when I interviewed her and executive producer Michelle Ashford in early January during the Television Critics Association winter press event:

"Rowan is the lead of the second season. It's still Rowan's story. She's driving it, but Lasher is very present and has a very distinctive point of view in a way that he does not in the first season. In the first season, he's usually enigmatic and in other people's scenes, in a way. I mean, not to say he doesn't own the scenes, he does, but he doesn't drive storylines in the same way. In the second season, he really does. He's much more like a traditional character. I guess maybe the better way to say it is he's much more of an antagonist in the first season and he's really one of the protagonists in the second season."

We don't have news yet on when the second season of the show will cast its spell upon us. The first season of "Anne Rice's Mayfair Witches," however, is now streaming on AMC+.

Read this next: The 15 Best Horror Movie Directors Of All Time

The post AMC's Mayfair Witches Conjures Up a Second Season appeared first on /Film.

- Valerie Ettenhofer
In The Age Of Streaming, TV Preservation Matters More Than Ever

In August 2022, amidst a bevy of other cost-cutting but callous decisions, Warner Brothers Discovery began removing shows and movies from HBO Max that couldn't be found anywhere else. It wasn't subtle; dozens of titles disappeared across the course of the month, including "Vinyl," which was created by Martin Scorsese, "Mrs. Fletcher," starring Kathryn Hahn, and an inordinate amount of animated and kids' shows. The streamer didn't stop there, though. By December, one of its former flagship shows, "Westworld," was gone, along with a total of 80 other movies and series according to IndieWire.

Even as creators began speaking openly about the broken trust between artists and a powerhouse network that was once known for letting creativity thrive, other streamers were already following in HBO Max's footsteps. In September, news broke that the Eli Roth-produced series "Hemlock Grove," which stars Bill Skarsgård as a rich kid vampire, would be leaving the streamer despite being one of its earliest Originals. And in January, Starz and Showtime both got on board with this troubling trend, with shows including the Michel Gondry-directed Jim Carrey vehicle "Kidding" and the new "Dangerous Liaisons" also disappearing.

While it eventually became clear that some of these shows would reappear via licensing to smaller free streamers called FAST platforms — "Hemlock Grove" reportedly struck a deal with FilmRise, HBO Max's "Generation" landed on Tubi, and WBD has plans for its own FAST streamer — most of them haven't resurfaced, and it seems unlikely that they all will. Equally troubling, the industry-wide programming purge for the sake of tax write-offs and cost-cutting has also meant there are now whole seasons of TV being scrapped before they ever air. Showtime's "Three Women," starring Shailene Woodley, DeWanda Wise, and Betty Gilpin is the latest victim of this trend.

Canary, Meet Coal Mine

Over the past year, the rug has been pulled out from under consumers and streaming creators, leaving artists, in particular, flat on their faces. As screenwriter C. Robert Cargill put it on Twitter when the news of the unceremonious cancelation of "Batgirl" broke, "Streamers have been selling us creatives on the virtues of platform exclusivity for some time now." He added, "The reason Hollywood is so shook by the HBO Max stories is that no one is sure whether this is an isolated incident or a canary in the coal mine."

It's clear now that it was, in fact, the canary. Since HBO Max kick-started the trend of canceling near-finished projects and (at least temporarily) erasing others from existence with a snap of their fingers, Thanos-style, many a commentator has called these practices "unprecedented." But unfortunately, the history of television is full of lost art, from its earliest days to the 21st century. So, considerable concerns about industry monopolies aside, why does this particular period of disappearing TV feel so harrowing?

The Power Of Home Video

To understand the current period of television, it's important to go back to the medium's earliest days. Experimental television began in the 1920s, but TV wasn't available for consumers until years later. Until "I Love Lucy" pioneered the idea of reruns in the 1950s, programs would broadcast once and then never again. Much early television, from variety shows to musical performances to scripted TV, was never recorded for posterity in the first place. When it finally was, in the early days of videotape, the expensive format was used by networks to record TV shows for a short time before wiping the tapes to use over again. "Television meant being live, over, and done with," BBC historian Richard Molesworth says in a report by Mental Floss. The BBC alone lost as much as 70% of its programming from the mid-'50s to the mid-'70s, mostly due to intentional deletion, according to the outlet.

Many of us know the disappearance of original programming feels wrong, for one simple reason: we lived through a time when we were able to save the shows we loved with just a videotape. With the advent of home video in the '80s and '90s, TV viewers became amateur archivists capable of saving any TV show that we felt was worthy of a blank tape and some storage space. Some TV shows started to gain official releases on home video, and others didn't, but viewers had the chance to legally and easily curate whatever they wanted. One woman in Philadelphia, for example, recorded 71,000 VHS and Betamax tapes over the course of 30 years. Home video recordings were bulky, grainy, and not built to last forever, but they leveled the playing field, allowing TV to feel more permanent than it ever had before.

The Unspoken Streaming Trade-Off

The dawn of streaming, which began in earnest when Netflix started cranking out original series in 2013, made home media largely obsolete for most Americans. Collectors and streaming skeptics still smartly extolled the virtues of buying your favorite show or movie on DVD or Blu-ray, sure, but that also quickly became an unrealistic expectation. After all, Netflix and other streamers almost immediately started making shows and films that they never released on physical media at all, a trend that continues to this day.

The unspoken expectation in this discreetly made deal with the devil was that if subscribers paid a monthly fee for a hub for all of our Netflix, HBO Max, or similarly branded favorites, we'd be able to pick them up and dust them off at any time like we would if they were on our own shelves. Home video recording died down, but DVD burning, which required more tech-savvy as well as a willingness to ignore stricter piracy laws, never caught on to the extent of its predecessor.

Netflix co-founder and former CEO Reed Hastings was pretty frank about his hope that subscribers would prioritize streaming way back in 2012, as a TechCrunch piece from the time quotes him as saying that "Profitability of each new streaming subscriber is almost twice what it is for DVDs." He continued, saying, "We'd obviously like them to do both, but if they're only going to use one, we'd much prefer they use streaming." 

For a decade now, streaming has been the future, so all our shows went to streaming. But what's the future now, and where will TV go?

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

The failure to preserve art isn't okay just because it's happened before. There's something disorienting and alienating about the fact that viewers who once had the ability to act as at-home archivists now go to sleep one day unaware that their favorite show could disappear entirely the next. While the Criterion Collection increasingly incorporates streaming originals into their catalog, and now-vital conversations about piracy as preservation abound, companies continue to, as their memos so often put it, stop investing in titles that "underperform," which, somehow, often includes titles that haven't been released yet.

While HBO Max insists it's done with the slaughter, other streamers and networks have already picked up where they've left off, and creator trust has already been shattered. When news broke that the romantic anthology show "Love Life" would be leaving HBO Max, series creator Sam Boyd tweeted, "Bummed that this is now a thing that can happen! Gonna try to figure out somewhere else for it to live, so it doesn't just **not exist anymore**" Other showrunners and filmmakers echoed this sentiment, with "Dickinson" creator Alena Smith even revealing in a now-deleted tweet that she once had to beg for a single physical copy of her own series (which, luckily, is still available on Apple TV+).

'Chance Determines What Television Programs Survive'

In an article titled "Understanding the Preservation Challenge of Digital Television," authors quote a 1997 statement from the Library of Congress declaring that, "at present, chance determines what television programs survive. Future scholars will have to [rely] on incomplete evidence when they assess the achievements and failures of our culture." Over 25 years and multiple industry shake-ups later, it's a statement that seems truer than ever.

If there is an easy path forward for the legal, accessible preservation of television as an art form, it's clear that it doesn't lie in the hands of the viewers anymore. After a few decades that let us play home archivist, and another that taught us to dream of a digital TV world at our fingertips, that's a reality that's especially hard to accept -- precedented or not. We shouldn't have to, either; technology is constantly evolving, and our ability to preserve visual media should be improving in the 21st century, not degrading. 

Unfortunately, there's never been any promise that business ethics will evolve alongside technology. The second any art starts to be discussed as a tax write-off, no art is safe anymore. Watch your favorite shows today, because who knows where they'll be tomorrow?

Read this next: The Moments That Defined TV In 2022

The post In the Age of Streaming, TV Preservation Matters More Than Ever appeared first on /Film.

- Joe Roberts
Editing The Departed Was Like Wrangling Wild Horses For Martin Scorsese

In late 2018, when Howard Stern asked Jonah Hill about working with Martin Scorsese on "The Wolf of Wall Street," Hill was effusive in his praise of the veteran filmmaker. There's no doubt that Scorsese is one of, if not the greatest living director. According to Hill, a lot of that has to do with his ability to problem-solve. As the actor sees it, "directing is just solving issues constantly," and he claimed to have witnessed first-hand Scorsese's ability to "close his eyes and then solve an insanely complex issue" in 30 seconds.

By the time it came time to film 2006's "The Departed," Scorsese had been around long enough -- his filmography stretches all the way back to the '70s -- to know what he wanted and how to make it happen. And as some unprecedented behind-the-scenes footage shows, the director approached his Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon-led crime thriller drama with a cool equanimity, demonstrating with every calmly uttered direction an easy command of his craft.

Partly a remake of the 2002 Hong Kong film "Infernal Affairs," it also worked in real-life mob history by using the Boston Winter Hill Gang as inspiration. Specifically for Jack Nicholson's mafia boss Frank Costello, who was based on infamous Irish-American gangster Whitey Bulger. In the film, Costello plants one of his men, Colin Sullivan (Damon), within the Massachusetts State Police. Sullivan ends up playing out a tense cat-and-mouse game with undercover State Trooper Billy Costigan (DiCaprio) who's embedded in Costello's gang. It makes for a riveting and potentially convoluted narrative.

Thankfully, with Scorsese and his problem-solving prowess in charge, it all plays out beautifully. But "The Departed" almost got away from him when he sat down to edit the whole thing.

'I'll Figure It Out Later'

Written by "Kingdom of Heaven" scribe William Monahan, "The Departed" contains all the vintage Scorsese themes. Jealousy, greed, murder, guilt — it's all here. But much of it seems to have come together on set, as the director encouraged his actors to improvise, and worked with Monahan to adapt the script as they shot.

In a 2019 conversation with fellow film nerd Quentin Tarantino for the Director's Guild, the filmmaker explained how he had to shoot four extra days due to the script being constantly amended:

"We were changing it so much in the middle of the film when we were shooting. I kept working with Bill Monahan and everybody rewriting stuff. It got so complicated that, at one point, my continuity person said, 'Where do you want this new scene [that] just came in?' I said, 'Put it in the middle with everything else. I'll figure it out later.'"

Martin Scorsese's flexibility seemed to go down well with Jack Nicholson, who embraced the chance to improvise. At one point, he asked the prop master to hide a gun on set just so he could pull it on Leonardo DiCaprio during a tense scene. The legendary actor also got in on the rewriting process, adding his own unique -- and downright disturbing -- dialogue to scenes, including where he shoots a woman only to remark that she "fell funny."

Unsurprisingly, in the edit bay, there was an excess of scenes, which made the whole process a challenge. As Scorsese told Tarantino, "Sure enough, in the end, it was like we were wrangling six wild horses, me and [editor] Thelma [Schoonmaker]." Luckily, the pair managed to get a grip on it all and produce a film that would gain the revered director his one and only Oscar win -- to date -- for best director.

Heavy Lies The Crown

I should note "The Departed" is not an exception to the rule. Martin Scorsese has always been open to having actors improvise and tweaking a script on set. As Jack Nicholson told Variety in 2007, "Marty is very free with his ideas." This gives his films a feeling of spontaneity and grounded reality, even when they depict outlandish behavior. In the case of "The Departed," Scorsese's willingness to adapt things on the fly may have made the editing process a nightmare but it certainly seems to have paid off in the end.

That said, there's a lot to love about William Monahan's script -- as the screenwriter eloquently put it himself, it would "make a literature professor wet himself." Take for instance, Nicholson's scene with Leonardo DiCaprio, where in his efforts to flush out the rat in his squad, Costello (Nicholson) tries to intimidate Costigan (DiCaprio). (It helps that Nicholson is firing on all cylinders, and the surprise gun reveal that DiCaprio wasn't expecting is the icing on the cake.) But the dialogue is brilliant here.

It makes you wonder how much of Monahan's rich dialogue was retained and how much of it was rewritten on the day of the shoot. (Imagine writing such dialogue on the spot, that's pretty impressive.) Scorsese made it work, even if it did result in a mountain of footage for the director to sift through later. Maybe such challenges are par for the course when you're the best at what you do. Or as Costello growls to Costigan in a Shakespeare misquote: "Heavy lies the crown."

Read this next: Every Martin Scorsese Feature Ranked From Worst To Best

The post Editing The Departed Was Like Wrangling Wild Horses For Martin Scorsese appeared first on /Film.

- Ernesto Valenzuela
Why The Company Behind Chainsaw Man Wanted Ryu Nakayama To Direct The Series

"Chainsaw Man" is a wild deviation from the typical shōnen manga -- Tatsuki Fujimoto went above and beyond in its art and storytelling, using seemingly superficial violence, action, and vulgarity to tell a profound story about human desires, found family, and control. When it came time to adapt the wildly popular series, MAPPA naturally saw fit to deviate in its own way. To do justice to the unconventional storytelling methods, the Tokyo-headquartered studio chose to pull from a new generation of talent to get it right. A director as youthful and energetic as the original manga.

While that decision could've backfired, MAPPA had a proven track record that seemed to justify its stance. In recent memory, the studio has been responsible for a bunch of popular adaptations -- most notably, the likes of "Jujutsu Kaisen" and the final season of "Attack on Titan." Both of these anime were visually ambitious and had strong themes in their own right; MAPPA had shown that its creative process worked. With "Chainsaw Man," the Japanese artists chose to push even further. (The sheer dedication is visible from the painstaking work put into the individual end credits sequences.)

Injecting New Blood

In an interview with Crunchyroll, MAPPA CEO Manabu Otsuka had nothing but praise for the source material. Ostuka has previously spoken about how he feels "Chainsaw Man" speaks to the "subculture" of Japan, providing a different kind of entertainment than other anime. It's because of the abnormality of "Chainsaw Man" that MAPPA wanted to switch things up with their process and bring a first-time director into the fold that could capture the manic energy the studio was looking for:

"So I, myself, am a big fan of Chainsaw Man. When I saw Fujimoto-sensei's expressions of bursting, explosive, raw energy, we needed somebody to be able to bring that out and direct it in that way. We've worked with many directors on MAPPA, but I kind of started thinking that we needed to inject new blood."

The need to inject new blood led to the hiring of Ryu Nakayama. That said, MAPPA had worked with him once before on "Jujutsu Kaisen," in which he served as an episode director late in season 1. But on "Chainsaw Man," Nakayama took on the role of director for the first and last episodes -- generally considered the most critical episodes of a show's debut season. It was a tall ask, but Otsuka believed he was right for it simply because the studio "needed somebody else, something new, in order to get this sort of bursting raw energy out of the story."

A Killer First Episode

Thankfully, Ryu Nakayama helped MAPPA and its team live up to their aspirations and fans' high expectations for "Chainsaw Man." From start to finish. The first episode of the series, "Dog & Chainsaw," faithfully brought Tatsuki Fujimoto's work to life and set the series off to an explosive start. Part of what makes the "Chainsaw Man" manga such an engaging read is how fast-paced it is. The pilot shows that Nakayama and the rest knew how to translate that frenetic pacing into the anime perfectly. It sets up the world of "Chainsaw Man" and its main character Denji efficiently despite its short runtime. And before you know it, Denji is revving his chainsaws and tearing up zombies like nobody's business, hooking viewers in and leaving them wanting more.

Before the anime premiered, "Chainsaw Man" felt like a manga that was impossible to adapt faithfully. A lot is going on in its pages -- the unconventional protagonist, paired with lightning-fast pacing, made it a tough nut to crack. MAPPA took a manga with an ambitious story and put together a team that was just as energetic, and it worked. Now, we patiently wait for that season 2 announcement.

Read this next: 14 Anime Series Like Chainsaw Man You Need To See

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- Ernesto Valenzuela
The Torture Scene From Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs Disturbed Horror Greats Like Wes Craven & Rick Baker

"Reservoir Dogs" is an interesting film to revisit, for you can see all the techniques and storytelling devices that would become Quentin Tarantino staples. The soundtrack, nonlinear writing, and excessive blood. However, no one knew what to expect from the filmmaker when "Reservoir Dogs" first came out over three decades ago. The script had confused its fair share of individuals in Hollywood -- though it was framed as a crime film, it hardly featured any action or actual robbery for most of its runtime. When I first saw it, I was confused but also allured by its unique structure and story. I was entranced by how Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, and Tim Roth's characters dealt with the bloody aftermath of a heist I didn't even get to see.

From the beginning, audiences are treated to a number of different conversations. Discussions about tipping servers, rats, anonymity, and maniac accomplices. Most of "Reservoir Dogs" takes place in a warehouse, leading you to believe nothing crazier can happen than what's being described by the powerhouse actors on the screen. Then Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) arrives with a kidnapped police officer in tow, and things take a gleefully sinister turn that matches his mood. The safety of the characters that you're familiar with by this point, Mr. White (Kietel) and Mr. Pink (Buscemi), leave the film for the torture scene that follows. It's the first real taste of violence from Tarantino -- and a jarring transition from all the conversations until then. If Blonde's torture of the police officer disturbed you, you're not alone. A couple of horror icons felt the same way.

Making Violence Real

In the aforementioned torture scene -- set to the tune of Stealers Wheel's 1972 song "Stuck in the Middle with You" -- Mr. Blonde cheerfully cuts the tied-up police officer's ear and then pours gasoline on him. Before it gets any darker, a bleeding-out Mr. Orange (whom the audience has virtually forgotten) guns down Blonde, putting an end to the terror. Even looking at the rest of Tarantino's filmography after this, Blonde's torture scene in "Reservoir Dogs" is arguably still one of the most brutal things the director has put on film.

In a 1994 interview with Rolling Stone, Tarantino said he wasn't phased by people walking out of his debut film in reaction to the scene. In fact, he believed such acts gave credence to the authenticity of what he created: "It never bothered me when people walked out; it just meant that scene worked. Go to a video store, and nine out of 10 films in the action-adventure section are more graphic than mine. But I'm not interested in making a cartoon. I'm interested in making the violence real."

Tarantino wasn't just speaking in generalities regarding people walking out of his movie. The filmmaker would specifically recall the screening of "Reservoir Dogs" at a horror festival in Spain, where some big names in the horror industry saw his film for the first time and reacted adversely to the bloodthirsty antics of Mr. Blonde:

"So we show the movie, and, like, 15 people walk out during the torture, including [cult horror director] Wes Craven and [horror special-effects artist] Rick Baker. Wes Craven — the guy who directed 'Last House on the Left,' for God's sakes — walked out of my movie."

'Take It As A Compliment'

But why would Wes Craven and Rick Baker, masters of horror in their respective crafts, be disturbed by the violence in "Reservoir Dogs"? If you take a closer look at their work, it makes sense. While Craven has left his mark with realism in horror with "The Last House on the Left," most of his filmography has been satirical as with "Scream," or fantastical and supernatural as in "A Nightmare on Elm Street." Rick Baker also brought larger-than-life horror icons to the big screen with impressive makeup work, but it's all created at a safe distance from reality.

As Baker would best explain when he spoke to Quentin Tarantino after "Reservoir Dogs," walking out during the torture scene was a testament to its effectiveness. While Baker -- and, to some extent, Craven -- enjoyed crafting horrific tales, they were usually out of the realm of possibility:

"Quentin, I walked out of your movie, but I want you to take it as a compliment. See, we all deal in fantasy. There's no such thing as werewolves or vampires. You're dealing with real-life violence, and I can't deal with it."

"Reservoir Dogs" moves on from the violent scene pretty fast with the reveal of Mr. Orange as the rat, but the movie will always be known for Mr. Blonde's bloody dance number. The cruel and dark act felt dangerously real -- and is just one of many reasons Tarantino is such an effective storyteller.

Read this next: 13 Tarantino Projects We Never Saw But Wish We Could've

The post The Torture Scene From Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs Disturbed Horror Greats Like Wes Craven & Rick Baker appeared first on /Film.

- Joshua Meyer
Filming Knock At The Cabin Had Dave Bautista In A Constant State Of Doubt

While Dave Bautista may have started his career as a pro wrestler, he has since distinguished himself as an actor, to the point where he is now probably more associated with his films than his feats of athletic theater. Besides his role as Drax the Destroyer in the "Guardians of the Galaxy" movies and the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, Bautista has spent the last few years honing his craft. He's worked with acclaimed directors in Denis Villeneuve, Rian Johnson, and Sam Mendes, who've given him supporting roles in the likes of sci-fi epics "Dune" and "Blade Runner 2049," the mystery whodunnit "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery," and the James Bond film "Spectre."

Alongside, Bautista has slowly built a leading-man portfolio for himself, with action thrillers such as "Bushwick," "Final Score," and Zack Snyder's "Army of the Dead." With his latest film, however, the 54-year-old takes on something different. Bautista is -- once again -- out in front for M. Night Shyamalan's psychological horror "Knock at the Cabin," where he plays a buttoned-up, bespectacled leader of a group of home (or cabin) invaders who take a girl and her family hostage and demand, per the official synopsis, that they "make an unthinkable choice to avert the apocalypse."

It's a typical Shyamalan scenario where characters have "limited access to the outside world," which means it will showcase the actors more. But that also puts pressure on them since so much of the film rests on their performances in this isolated setting. That was especially challenging for Bautista, who was in a state of constant doubt while he was filming it.

'I Will Always Be My Own Worst Critic'

Rather than remain in the action-movie arena, Dave Bautista has made an effort to take on roles that would show off his dramatic chops. Speaking to Insider, he discussed how this came to a head for him during the production of "Knock at the Cabin" and how he'll always be his own worst critic:

"There was not one moment on this film where I felt confident; I doubted myself the whole time. Even when I screened this film for the first time a few weeks ago, I cringed. I told [M. Night Shyamalan] throughout the shooting, and the editing, that I have so much anxiety about this film and how people are going to receive me. Not the film, me. My performance. Because it's just a different light on me and, again, this is where I have to back up what I say, which all along has been that I just want to be an actor. Strip away my physicality, forget that. Judge me on my acting. And it's about to happen. [Laughs.] So the anxiety is real."

For what it's worth, early reviews are full of praise for Bautista's work in "Knock at the Cabin." /Film's Chris Evangelista lauded him for "pushing himself" and "playing against type." Inverse's Hoai-Tran Bui says the former wrestler gives a "career-best performance." And he's been lauded by others for "showing his range" and "digging deeper into the timid sincerity and striking naivete."

Bautista seems to have accomplished what he set out to do with "Knock at the Cabin." "Here was my opportunity to be in the spot, and I feel good about it," he told Looper. "Because if nothing else, I proved my point, which was that I never set out to be a movie star, I wanted to be a respected actor."

Read this next: Horror Movies You Don't Want To Miss In 2023

The post Filming Knock At The Cabin Had Dave Bautista In A Constant State Of Doubt appeared first on /Film.

- Joshua Meyer
FX Drops Never Let Me Go Series Adaptation

FX has decided to ignore the advice of its own series title and let go of the TV adaptation of "Never Let Me Go" before the show could ever air or even go into production. We first reported last May that the network was developing a new adaptation of Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro's novel for television, with director Mark Romanek ("One Hour Photo") having previously adapted the book into a 2010 film starring Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, and Andrew Garfield. Originally meant to stream on Hulu, the "Never Let Me Go" series received the official green light from FX last October, but now, it is no longer happening, according to Variety.

Viola Prettejohn ("The Nevers") was set to star in "Never Let Me Go" as Thora, described in the series logline as "a rebellious teenage clone who escapes from the boarding school where she and her fellow clones are kept hidden from society." The series would have followed Thora "as she starts living undercover in the outside world" and "unwittingly sets in motion events that will spark a revolution and test the boundaries of what it means to be human."

Tracey Ullman and Kelly Macdonald were also set to star, while showrunner Melissa Iqbal had written the series pilot and was in line to executive produce with Ishiguro, pilot director Marc Munden, Alex Garland (who wrote the screenplay for the 2010 film), and others.

Donations, Complete

The logline for "Never Let Me Go" makes it sound like the series would have gone in a very different direction from Mark Romanek's adaptation. The film centered on three friends, Kathy H, Ruth C, and Tommy D (played by Mulligan, Knightley, and Garfield, respectively), living on a farm as organ donors and recalling their youth. The fact that they're clones, which the TV logline gives away outright, is a twist that only comes in the second act of the movie, while the idea that they're living on borrowed time as their organs are harvested serves to reflect human mortality.

In the film, as far as I can recall, there's no character named Thora who sparks a revolution in the outside world. This almost makes the "Never Let Me Go" series sound like HBO's "Westworld," with clones substituted for robotic hosts. "Westworld" was also preemptively canceled last November, just shy of its final season, and now it and Viola Prettejohn's previous show, "The Nevers," are headed to FAST (Free Ad-Supported Television). Those series at least had the benefit of one or more seasons to tell their story, whereas "Never Let Me Go" has now joined the ranks of shows that have entered development and been greenlit, only for the network to suddenly back out.

It's been years since I watched Romanek's movie, but I do remember there was a lot of euphemistic talk of characters "completing" their organ donations before going the way of all flesh. It would seem "Never Let Me Go" has indeed completed its donations and will now go the way of a canceled clone adaptation.

Read this next: 12 Underrated Sci-Fi Shows That You Need To See

The post FX Drops Never Let Me Go Series Adaptation appeared first on /Film.

- Ryan Coleman
George P. Wilbur, Actor And Stunt Man Known For Halloween Movies, Has Died At 81

The stunt world has lost a superstar. George P. Wilbur, the prolific stunt performer, coordinator, and double has died at the age of 81. 

Film fans and critics seldom give stunt performers the love they deserve, but as "Once Upon A Time... in Hollywood" showed us, they're often the invisible pillars holding up entire productions. Without their high-octane mix of bravery and precise training, and with a generous dash of daredevil recklessness, we would never have gotten the death-defying, thrill-inducing, price-of-the-ticket justifying action that has made films like "Die Hard," "Escape From New York," and "Total Recall" such rewatchable classics. And Wilbur, whose resume was nearing a stunning 150 credits when he retired in 2013, did stunts on all of them. 

Born at the height of the Second World War in Connecticut, in 1941, Wilbur would go on to enlist in the Navy before eventually finding his way to Tuscon, Arizona, where he worked as a wrangler on a ranch. When Paramount sent Howard Hawks and a crew out to Tuscon to shoot pick-ups for "El Dorado" in 1966, Wilbur found his way onto the set as an extra. As would become the norm for the rest of his career, Wilbur rose precipitously in rank on set, eventually being recruited as a stand-in for the star of the show, John Wayne

Wilbur got his start in Hollywood at the moment the studio system came crashing down, rode the grindhouse wave of the '70s (he performed stunts in "Blaclua," "Cleopatra Jones," and John Frankenheimer's "99 and 44/100% Dead!"), crested into some of the best horror films of the '80s ("Poltergeist," "Ghostbusters," "Re-Animator"), and soared through the aughts and '90s by turning in stunt after impressive stunt in films as varied as "Set It Off," "The Notebook," "Casino," and "Mars Attacks!"

The Wilbur Walk

Wilbur was a rare exception to the rule of stunt performer ignorance, but it wasn't thanks to any of the explosive flicks listed above. For that, he could thank two things: stunt performer stints on a string of "Halloween" sequels, and the ever-passionate clutch horror fans who surrounded each of them with love.

Though it's been reclaimed as a cult classic since the time of its release, fans were shocked when Michael Myers, burned to a crisp at the end of "Halloween II," actually didn't return for the threequel, "Season Of The Witch." For many, 1988's "Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers" also constituted a return to form for the franchise, and the new man behind the shape was the driving force behind the bump in quality. Wilbur portrayed Michael in "Halloween IV," "V," and "VI," with help from Tom Morga in "The Return" and A. Michael Lerner in "The Curse of Michael Myers." In a 2017 interview on the "Horrible Horror" podcast, he attributed the power of his Michael era to what he called "the Wilbur walk," a steady, lumbering gait we've all come to associate with the iconic villain, but which had always just been Wilbur's stride. When you consider he doubled for the likes of John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and Paul Newman throughout his career, the confident, wide-legged strut, not showy but never, ever timid, makes sense.

George P. Wilbur's incredible career spanned six decades and just about every type of film you can imagine. His contributions to the art of motion pictures earned him a much-deserved spot in the Hollywood Stuntmen's Hall of Fame. He will live on in the hearts of those he loved most and remains eternal on the silver screen.

Read this next: 12 Underrated Slasher Movies You Need To Check Out

The post George P. Wilbur, Actor and Stunt Man Known For Halloween Movies, Has Died At 81 appeared first on /Film.

- Alex Billington
Superb Trailer for Indie 'Bruiser' with Jalyn Hall & Trevante Rhodes
Bruiser Film Trailer

"He's always pretending to be this person… I know he's not." Hulu has debuted the official trailer for an indie film titled Bruiser, marking the feature directorial debut of Miles Warren. This first premiered at the 2022 Toronto Film Festival last year and it also stopped by AFI Fest in the fall. It's set to launch on Hulu for streaming at the end of February. A 14-year-old boy turns to a charismatic loner for help after being beaten up, in director Miles Warren's searing feature film debut about fathers, families, and the effects of too much fighting. During summer, Darious explores the boundaries of his manhood through tumultuous interactions with Malcolm, his strict father, and a burgeoning friendship with mysterious drifter Porter. The film stars Trevente Rhodes, Shamier Anderson, Jalyn Hall, and Shinelle Azoroh. TIFF adds that it "contends with legacies of violence — and lands its every punch squarely on the heart." Damn looks great! Check it out.

Here's the official trailer (+ poster) for Miles Warren's Bruiser, direct from Hulu's YouTube:

Bruiser Poster

In director Miles Warren's searing feature debut about fathers, families, and effects of toxic masculinity, 14-year-old Darious (Jalyn Hall) explores the boundaries of his manhood through tumultuous interactions with Malcolm (Shamier Anderson), his strict but loving father, and also with Porter (Trevante Rhodes), a charismatic drifter. When Darious learns Porter's true identity, he is thrust into a conflict between the two men that may rip his family apart and threaten his safety. Bruiser is directed by the first-time filmmaker Miles Warren, making his feature directorial debut with this project after a few other shorts previously. The screenplay is written by Ben Medina and Miles Warren. It's produced by Scott Frank, D. Scott Lumpkin, Jewerl Ross, and Aaron Ryder. This initially premiered at the 2022 Toronto Film Festival previously. Hulu will debut Warren's Bruiser streaming on Hulu starting on February 24th, 2023 this month. Look good?

- Alex Billington
Christoph Waltz & Sam Neill in Adventure 'The Portable Door' Trailer
The Portable Door Trailer

"We were able to influence this consumer… Imagine what we can do to the masses." Madman Films + Sky Cinema have revealed two trailers for an Australian fantasy adventure movie called The Portable Door, adapted from the book series by Tom Holt. It's set to open in UK + Australian theaters in April, with no US release yet. It tells the story of two interns who begin working at the mysterious company J.W. Wells & Co, run by the villainous Humphrey Wells and Dennis Tanner. "A tale of magic, middle management & strange goings on at a mysterious corporation that is not what it seems." Based on the popular books, this family comedy invites you into a world of fantasy and madness where all coincidences are orchestrated by a very strange company. Produced by The Jim Henson Company & Story Bridge Films. Starring Christoph Waltz as Wells and Sam Neill as Tanner, with Miranda Otto as Countess Judy, Damon Herriman, Sophie Wilde, Jessica De Gouw, Rachel House, Patrick Gibson, & Christopher Sommers. It's like Harry Potter if it was about an evil ad agency, instead of wizards. A bit derivative, but it looks entertaining anyway.

Here's the two official trailers for Jeffrey Walker's The Portable Door, direct from YouTube:

The Portable Door Movie

The Portable Door Movie

Starting a new job is always stressful, but when Paul Carpenter arrives at the office of J.W. Wells he has no idea what trouble lies in store. He is about to discover that the apparently respectable establishment now paying his salary is in fact a front for a deeply sinister organisation with a mighty peculiar agenda. Along with his new colleague Sophie, Paul embarks on an adventure with the help of an enchanted towel to uncover the secrets of this strange enterprise and reveal what happens at night in these dark, forbidden corridors. The Portable Door is directed by Australian actor / filmmaker Jeffrey Walker, director of many TV series and TV movies previously, as well as Dance Academy: The Movie and Ali's Wedding; his recent series including "Young Rock", "The Commons", "Modern Family", "Lambs of God", and "Difficult People". The screenplay is written by Leon Ford, adapted from Tom Holt's novel of the same name, the first in his "J. W. Wells & Co. Series" series of books. Produced by Todd Fellman and Blanca Lista, developed as a "Stan Original" film. Madman Films will release The Portable Door in Australian + UK cinemas starting on April 7th, 2023 in the next few months. No US release date is set - stay tuned for more updates. Who's curious?

- Alex Billington
US Trailer for Gripping Filipino Child Soldier Film 'Boy From Nowhere'
Boy From Nowhere Trailer

"It's what we choose to do now, that determines who we really are." Buffalo 8 has released the official US trailer for an indie film from the Philippines (also a Canadian co-production) titled Boy From Nowhere, based on a true story. The directorial debut from SJ Finlay, Boy From Nowhere is shot guerrilla style in the dangerous parts of the southern Philippines. Featuring a cast of non-actors, Finlay realistcally captures the harsh realities of war, the brutality of human behavior, and the risks someone may take to find their place in the world. The story follows a young boy from a fishing village who is brainwashed and recruited to become a child soldier as part of a fictional rebel group in the southern Philippines. The intense indie drama stars Balugto Necosia, Gary Jumawan, Nack Nack Abugyan, and Waway Saway. This looks like a very powerful and authentic story about how kids get pulled into this kind of horrible life, similar to other films like Beasts of No Nation previously. Check out the trailer below before it plays in theaters later in February.

Here's the official US trailer (+ poster) for S.J. Finlay's Boy From Nowhere, direct from YouTube:

Boy from Nowhere Trailer

Boy from Nowhere Trailer

Based on true events, Boy From Nowhere follows the story of Gary, a young and vulnerable Filipino boy who loses everything in an attack on his village that kills his father. Desperate to find his mother and her tribe, Gary sets out on a perilous journey while battling hunger and solitude. Along the way, he gets caught up in the dangerous world of gangs and is eventually brainwashed into becoming a child soldier for a local rebel faction. Vulnerable and malleable, Gary fights for survival until further loss leads him to find a more meaningful purpose for his life. Boy From Nowhere is both written and directed by the Filipino filmmaker S.J. Finlay, making his feature directorial debut after the short film Boy Soulja: Action Movie Experience previously. The film won the Audience Award at the 2021 Lonely Wolf Film Festival. Buffalo 8 will debut Boy From Nowhere in select US theaters starting February 17th, 2023 this month. Interested?

- Alex Billington
Stolen Art Heist Thriller 'Righteous Thieves' Trailer Starring Lisa Vidal
Righteous Thieves Trailer

"So… not a standard smash & grab." "This is gonna get us killed." Lionsgate has revealed an official trailer for a thriller titled Righteous Thieves, the new title for a film formerly known as Shelter. It will be out to watch in March on VOD and in a few theaters if anyone is interested. This is a story we've heard many times before (rescue stolen art) but they're rehashing it once again. The head of a secret organization assembles a crew to steal back artwork plundered by Nazis during World War II. They plan to recover a Monet, Picasso, Degas, and Van Gogh stolen by Nazis during WWII – now in the possession of neo-Nazi billionaire oligarch, but loyalties are tested when the crew learns the real reason behind the heist. The film stars Lisa Vidal as Annabel, with Jaina Lee Ortiz, Cam Gigandet, Carlos Miranda, Sasha Merci, and Brian Cousins as the oligarch. This looks like it was made for The CW, not for theaters, with so much gloss on every frame.

Here's the official trailer (+ poster) for Anthony Nardolillo's Righteous Thieves, direct from YouTube:

Righteous Thieves Poster

In this ultimate heist thrill-ride – Annabel (Lisa Vidal), a leader of a secret organization engaged in the recovery of priceless artwork, assembles a ragtag crew of art thieves to recover a Monet, Picasso, Degas, and Van Gogh stolen by Nazis during WWII and now in the possession of neo-Nazi billionaire oligarch Otto Huizen (Brian Cousins). As the planned heist approaches, loyalties are tested when the crew learns the real reason behind Annabel’s search for the long-lost paintings. Righteous Thieves, formerly known as just Shelter, is directed by Nuyorican filmmaker Anthony Nardolillo, director of the films Shine and 7th & Union previously, plus a few other shorts. The screenplay is written by Michael Corcoran. Produced by Jolene Rodriguez. This hasn't premiered at any festivals or elsewhere, as far as we know. Lionsgate releases Righteous Thieves in select US theaters + on VOD starting March 10th, 2023 next month. Anyone down?

- Alex Billington
Official Trailer for NYC Dark Comedy 'God's Time' from Daniel Antebi
God's Time Trailer

"We're doing something together, we're trying to save somebody!" IFC Films has revealed an official trailer for a grainy indie film called God's Time, marking the feature directorial of an NYU graduate filmmaker named Daniel Antebi. The film first premiered at last year's Tribeca Film Festival, and also stopped by the New Hampshire Film Festival in the fall, with a release finally set for February this winter. Two best friends go on an electric odyssey through New York City to stop the woman they love from committing murder in the stylish, bombastic and darkly funny God's Time. Described as "a crowdpleaser from last year's Tribeca." The festival adds this tidibt: "Vibrant, stylish, and expertly constructed, God's Time delivers uniquely dark comedy that both masks and emphasizes the beating, bruised heart at the center of this explosive powder keg." Starring Ben Groh, Dion Costelloe, Liz Caribel Sierra, Jared Abrahamson, and Christiane Seidel. It seems wacky and funny and all over the place, for better or worse. Looks like a good time in NYC.

Here's the first official trailer for Daniel Antebi's film God's Time, direct from YouTube:

God's Time Film

Via Tribeca: "Actors, best friends, and fellow recovering addicts, Dev (Ben Groh) & Luca (Dion Costelloe), find their bromance tested on a COVID-era New York City odyssey as they race across town to prevent Regina (Liz Caribel Sierra) — their mutual crush from the recovery — from killing her ex-boyfriend. This madcap romp blends self-aware, 4th-wall-breaking comedy with a healthy dose of adrenaline straight to the heart." God's Time is both written & directed by Mexican filmmaker Daniel Antebi, making his feature directorial debut with this project after a number of short films previously. He's a graduate of NYU Tisch. This initially premiered at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival last year. IFC Films will debut Antebi's God's Time in select US theaters starting on February 24th, 2023 coming soon. How does that look? Want to watch?

- Alex Billington
Jake Gyllenhaal & Dar Salim in Guy Ritchie's 'The Covenant' Trailer
The Covenant Trailer

"Listen, you're gonna be alone. You gotta adapt - use what you got." MGM Studios has revealed an official trailer for The Covenant, a two-part war movie action thriller from the British filmmaker Guy Ritchie. It's now set to open in theaters in April coming up this spring, an easy sell for US audiences to watch a jingoistic Afghanistan War movie. It's actually officially titled Guy Ritchie's The Covenant, kind of like how it was called Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio. The film follows Sergeant John Kinley, who on his last tour of duty in Afghanistan is teamed up with local interpreter Ahmed, who risks his own life to carry the severely injured John across miles of grueling terrain to safety. Later John decides to return on an unapproved solo mission to save Ahmed and get him out of the country before the Taliban kill him. Jake Gyllenhaal & Dar Salim star as John & Ahmed, along with Antony Starr, Alexander Ludwig, and Bobby Schofield, Emily Beecham and Jonny Lee Miller. It does look pretty good, as a gratifying action movie redemption story.

Here's the first official trailer (+ poster) for Guy Ritchie's The Covenant, direct from MGM's YouTube:

The Covenant Poster

Guy Ritchie's action thriller The Covenant follows US Army Sergeant John Kinley (Jake Gyllenhaal) and the Afghan interpreter Ahmed (Dar Salim) during the Afghanistan War. After an ambush, Ahmed goes to Herculean lengths to save Kinley's life. When Kinley learns that Ahmed and his family were not given safe passage to America as promised, he must repay his debt by returning to retrieve them before the Taliban hunts them down first. The Covenant is directed by prolific British filmmaker Guy Ritchie, director of the films Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, Revolver, RocknRolla, Sherlock Holmes and sequel A Game of Shadows, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Disney's Aladdin, The Gentlemen, Wrath of Man, and Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre most recently. The screenplay is written by Guy Ritchie and Ivan Atkinson & Marn Davies. Produced by Guy Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson, John Friedberg, Josh Berger. MGM will release The Covenant in theaters nationwide starting April 21st, 2023. Who's in?

- Alex Billington
One Final US Trailer for 'The Lost King' with Sally Hawkins & Coogan
The Lost King Trailer

"I've been trying to work out why you're here - I wonder if it's because you're lost." IFC Films has revealed a new US trailer for the British drama The Lost King, which premiered at TIFF and already opened last year. It played in October in UK cinemas, and opens in the US in March in theaters for those still interested. Co-written by Steven Coogan, and directed by Stephen Frears, the film follows a historian who defies the stodgy academic establishment in her efforts to find King Richard III's remains, lost for over 500 years… Telling "the life-affirming true story of a woman who refused to be ignored and who took on the country's most eminent historians, forcing them to think again about one of the most controversial kings in England's history." Sally Hawkins stars as Philippa Langley, with Harry Lloyd as Richard III, plus Steve Coogan, James Fleet, Sinead MacInnes, John-Paul Hurley, and Phoebe Pryce. With this cast it's obvious the film is going to be good, and the story is so catchy I'm so curious to find out how she figures out where he is.

Here's the new US trailer (+ poster) for Stephen Frears' The Lost King, direct from IFC's YouTube:

The Lost King Poster

The Lost King Poster

You can rewatch the original UK trailer for Frears' The Lost King right here, for even more footage.

In 2012, having been lost for over 500 years, the remains of King Richard III were discovered beneath a carpark in Leicester. The search had been orchestrated by an amateur historian, Philippa Langley, whose unrelenting research had been met with incomprehension by her friends and family and with scepticism by experts and academics. The Lost King is the life-affirming true story of a woman who refused to be ignored and who took on the country's most eminent historians, forcing them to think again about one of the most controversial kings in England's history. The Lost King is directed by veteran British filmmaker Stephen Frears, director of many films including High Fidelity, Dirty Pretty Things, The Queen, Chéri, Tamara Drewe, Philomena, The Program, Florence Foster Jenkins, and Victoria & Abdul previously. The screenplay is written by Steve Coogan & Jeff Pope. This first premiered at the 2022 Toronto Film Festival and opened in UK theaters last fall. IFC debuts The Lost King in select US theaters on March 24th, 2023.

- Alex Billington
Another Video Countdown of the Top 30 Films of 2022 by Sam Smith
Top 30 Films of 2022 by Sam Smith

Have you seen all of the best films of 2022 yet? Which of the most talked about films do you still need to watch? With the 95th Academy Awards ceremony just over a month away (on March 12th), there's still a bit of time to catch up with more of last year's top movies. Graphic designer Sam Smith put together his own Top 30 Films of 2022 video, inspired by David Ehrlich's annual project. This one isn't as elaborate or as complex as Ehrlich's creation, it's more of a straight forward video countdown - going through the 30 films one-by-one. It's only 3 minutes and features a few quick clips from each of his 30 favorites - some hidden gems on it, too. I always enjoy watching these kind of film videos mostly because it's fun to discover what's going to come next on his list. Did he love EEAAO?? Of course he did! Wow look how high up in the Top 10s the donkey film EO is! He definitely loved that one (the music in this vid is also from that film). View below.

Top 30 Films of 2022 Video

Thanks to Twitter for the tip on this video debuting online. This Best of 2022 countdown was created and edited by graphic designer Sam Smith, also known as "Sam's Myth" online - you can follow him on Twitter @SamsMyth or visit his official blog for more updates. He explains briefly in a tweet his intentions: "My Top 30 Films of 2022 are finally here! I always wanted to make a cool video like David Ehrlich, so enjoy…" His final 10 are: 10. The Batman (dir. Matt Reeves), 9. Wendell & Wild (dir. Henry Selick), 8. Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood (dir. Richard Linklater), 7. Happening (dir. Audrey Diwan), 6. Everything Everywhere All at Once (dirs. "The Daniels"), 5. RRR (dir. S.S. Rajamouli), 4. Blonde (dir. Andrew Dominik), 3. EO (dir. Jerzy Skolimowski), 2. Tar (dir. Todd Field), 1. Aftersun (dir. Charlotte Wells). And that's it. Rewatch David Ehrlich's Best of 2022 video here. Are any of these 2022 picks your favorites, too?

- Alex Billington
Full Trailer for 'A Spy Among Friends' with Guy Pearce & Damian Lewis
A Spy Among Friends Trailer

"He has lied to you, and he has used you, when are you going to accept that?" MGM+ has debuted the full official trailer for the British spy series titled A Spy Among Friends, arriving for streaming in March. The service formerly known as Epix has re-branded as MGM+, with a big line-up set to launch this spring. "The epic true story of Kim Philby, the Cold War's most infamous spy, from the 'master storyteller' and author of Prisoners of the Castle." It's an adaptation of the book of the same name. The UK mini-series stars the very talented actors Guy Pearce and Damian Lewis as Nicholas Elliott and Kim Philby, real-life 1960s British spies who, despite their opposing allegiances, developed a life-long friendship. It reminds me of the other British spy film The Courier (aka Ironbark) from a few years ago - also about two spies who were friends. This series features Anna Maxwell Martin, Adrian Edmondson, Stephen Kunken, Nicholas Rowe, and Anastasia Hille. Thanks to the excellent cast, this looks like a seriously engaging watch. Check it out.

Here's the full official trailer (+ poster) for MGM+'s series A Spy Among Friends, direct from YouTube:

A Spy Among Friends Poster

You can rewatch the teaser trailer for MGM+'s A Spy Among Friends right here, for the first look again.

Based on the best-selling book written by Ben Macintyre, the six-episode series dramatizes the true story of Nicholas Elliott & Kim Philby, two British spies and lifelong friends. Philby was the most notorious British defector and Soviet double agent in history. This is a story of intimate duplicity, loyalty, trust, and treachery. Philby’s deeply personal betrayal, uncovered at the height of the Cold War, resulted in the gutting of British and American Intelligence. A Spy Among Friends is series created by writer Alexander Cary (Lie to Me, Homeland, Legends, Taken), adapted from the book of the same name by Ben Macintyre. Featuring episodes directed by British director Nick Murphy (The Last Kingdom, A Christmas Carol, The Awakening). Produced by Chrissy Skinns and Damian Lewis. Executive produced by Alexander Cary, Bob Bookman, Alan Gasmer, Peter Jaysen, Patrick Spence, and Nick Murphy. MGM will release A Spy Among Friends streaming on MGM+ starting on March 12th, 2023 coming soon. Who's planning to watch this?

- Alex Billington
Tony Leung in Chinese Underground Espionage 'Hidden Blade' Trailer
Hidden Blade Trailer

"Extraordinary courage can change history." Well Go USA has revealed yet another official US trailer for Hidden Blade, a WWII Chinese spy thriller from filmmaker Cheng Er. This one already opened in China in January, and is landing in US theaters starting in February in a few more weeks. The film follows the story of a group of underground workers who risked their lives to send intelligence and defend the motherland, set after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor when the Wang Jingwei regime declared war on Britain & America. During World War II, at the height of their war of resistance against Japan, a group of courageous citizens develops a top-secret underground espionage network at great peril to their own lives. Actor Tony Leung headlines Hidden Blade, along with Wang Yibo, Hiroyuki Mori, Chengpeng Dong, Zhou Xun, Eric Wang, and Huang Lei. I like how both of these trailers below feature no dialogue, just music and moody shots from the film. It's quite an effective choice for this, relying entirely on the visuals to pique our interest.

Here's the official US trailer (+ posters) for Cheng Er's Hidden Blade, direct from Well Go's YouTube:

And here's an alternate official Chinese trailer for Cheng Er's Hidden Blade, also found on YouTube:

Hidden Blade Poster

Hidden Blade Poster

During WWII, at the height of China's war of resistance against Japan, a group of courageous citizens develops a top-secret underground espionage network right under the nose of the just established puppet regime. At increasingly great peril to their own lives, the double-agents masterfully extracted classified information from deep behind enemy lines, an effort that gives rise to the united front that will help turn the tide of the conflict. Set after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor when the Wang Jingwei regime declared war on Britain and the U.S. Hidden Blade, also known as Wu Ming, is both written and directed by Chinese filmmaker Cheng Er, director of the films Unfinished Girl, Lethal Hostage, The Wasted Times previously, with Pseudo Idealist coming up. It's executive produced by Dong Yu. The film already opened in January in China earlier this year. Well Go USA releases Hidden Blade in select US theaters on February 17th, 2023.

- Alex Billington
Fun Trailer for Croatian Island Film 'Faraway' Starring Naomi Krauss
Faraway Trailer

"This simple life of yours is good." Netflix has revealed an official trailer for an indie film titled Faraway, a German production about a woman who escapes to a Croatian island to rediscover herself. It's the latest film from German director Vanessa Jopp, starring the Swiss actress Naomi Krauss as Zeynep. It'll be on Netflix starting March. "It's cold, winter feels eternal and many of us are yearning for a sense of happiness, and to feel the sunshine again – so why not just pack your suitcase and dare yourself to start over?" Zeynep is unhappy and her life has not turned out as she wanted… That's why she flees to a Croatian island, where her deceased mother bought a house long ago. She hopes to find peace and relaxation finally - but she hasn't reckoned with Josip, who still lives on the property. The film's cast also features Goran Bogdan, Adnan Maral, Bahar Balci, Artjom Gilz, and Davor Tomic. This looks super cheesy, especially with this cliche song choice in the trailer. But it also makes me really want to go visit and relax in Croatia, too. Have a look.

Here's the official trailer (+ German poster) for Vanessa Jopp's Faraway, direct from Netflix's YouTube:

Faraway Poster

Zeynep Altin is at the end of her rope: she's overworked and underappreciated by her husband, daughter and aging father, and to top it off, the funeral home has just put her beloved deceased mother in a man’s suit instead of her favourite dress. It’s the final straw for Zeynep, who escapes Munich for the Croatian island cottage her mother secretly bought years ago, hoping to get some peace & quiet and find herself again. If only the former owner of the cottage, a rugged islander called Josip, wasn't still living on the very same home… Faraway is directed by German filmmaker Vanessa Jopp, director of the films Forget America, Honolulu, Engel & Joe, Happy as One, Messy Christmas, The Almost Perfect Man, and The Space Between the Lines previously. The screenplay is from Jane Ainscough; based on story idea by Alex Kendall. Produced by Viola Jäger. Netflix will release Faraway streaming on Netflix starting on March 8th, 2023.

- Manuel São Bento
Review: 'Knock at the Cabin' is Shyamalan's Triumphant Comeback
Knock at the Cabin Review

Typically, when people talk about their favorite filmmakers, names of directors with never-ending success come to mind – with careers full of culturally impactful and memorable movies that have marked an entire generation. M. Night Shyamalan is a somewhat popular name in these types of conversations, but much of his filmography suffers tremendously from inconsistent quality. At the turn of the millennium, he crafted a series of unforgettable masterpieces (The Sixth Sense in 1999, Unbreakable in 2000, Signs in 2002), but then went on a long hiatus returning with new films that were either quite divisive or downright disastrous. He's back again in 2023 with Knock at the Cabin, an adaptation of the book written by Paul Tremblay.

In 2016, Shyamalan reemerged with Split, an unexpected sequel to Unbreakable that positively shocked an audience that had been waiting for the filmmaker's big comeback for years. Unfortunately, Shyamalan failed to ride that new hype wave, since both Glass and Old were, in their own ways, disappointing. Given all this back and forth throughout the last few years, why do so many moviegoers continue to look up to M. Night Shyamalan with such admiration and respect, myself included? And where does his latest, Knock at the Cabin, fit into the unpredictable qualitative spectrum of his projects?

The last question is the easiest to answer and the one I really want to dwell on. Knock at the Cabin could easily be considered the best movie Shyamalan has made since Signs  – 21 years apart – but Split exists and has something to say in that regard. And no, this isn't one of those cases where it's "the best since *insert film title or date*" because there was no "competition". Shyamalan actually manages to regain his aura with this adaptation of Paul G. Tremblay's novel, titled in full The Cabin at the End of the World, which will surely receive a significantly positive reception from critics and audiences alike.

Knock at the Cabin focuses all its spotlight on a "simple" question: would you sacrifice someone you love to save the entire population of Earth? What if that question is posed by a group of strangers interrupting your peaceful family vacation? What would need to happen before you accepted that this insanity was, in fact, real? And what if it's not? What if it's all just a macabre movement by a religious cult? The questions are endless, as the moral dilemmas are impossible to answer momentarily.

Parents Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge), and their daughter, Wen (Kristen Cui), are the family chosen to deal with this emotionally devastating debacle, regardless of the decision ultimately taken. This theme is pushed to its limits to create shocking, traumatic scenes that send the main characters into an uncontrollable emotional spiral. Through long takes and extreme close-ups, Shyamalan generates a bubble-like atmosphere, ready to burst at any moment from the accumulated tension and suspense.

DP Jarin Blaschke's cinematography stands out due to the lingering camera right on top of the actors, creating anxiety in viewers, who will nervously shake their legs, fidget uncomfortably, and bite their nails until the very last second. Composer Herdís Stefánsdóttir's score and especially the sound design – it is particularly immersive in a 7.1 theater – contribute in an impactful manner to an uneasy environment that benefits even more from the unique location, a characteristic quite common throughout Shyamalan's career.

The entire cast delivers astonishing performances, but if I had to identify the standout, it has to be Dave Bautista (also seen in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery recently). In interviews, the actor has expressed his intention to take on more dramatic roles and leave the inconsequentially comedic characters behind. In Knock at the Cabin, Bautista not only delivers the best performance of his career, but he also becomes my favorite wrestler-turned-actor. In a movie where appearances are deceiving, Bautista leads the "mission" of his group in a fascinating way, keeping viewers glued to the screen from the very first minute.

Not far behind him is Groff (also seen in The Matrix Resurrections recently). I've never particularly been a fan of the actor, but the greatest accumulation of emotions are found in his character. Gradually, Eric tries to interpret, judge, and decide what to do amid so much chaos. Following this character arc through Groff's facial expressions becomes simultaneously frightening and captivating. His counterpart, played by Aldridge, takes on a more protective, aggressive role, forming an interesting balance between two characters who react distinctively to a stressful situation.

Knock at the Cabin Review

Nikki Amuka-BirdAbby Quinn, and Rupert Grint contribute with equally notable performances, although I wish the latter had more screentime. With the help of writers Steve Desmond and Michael Sherman, Shyamalan co-authors a script that efficiently explores the characters in this situation, despite the transitions to certain flashbacks not always working. Either way, the character work is worthy of praise. Everyone has extremely relatable traits, which is one of the countless factors that enrich a taut atmosphere.

A few moments would benefit from more visual shock, but this is just an insignificant nitpick. Knock at the Cabin is more focused on playing with the horror aspects inherent in the premise, which doesn't have any associated issues. That said, there's a small attempt to explore the fact that the whole situation happens to a gay couple, as well as the clear religious context. Personally, I believe there was room for a more in-depth study of these topics, but it's more of an idea that would be interesting to follow than any real flaw.

Knock at the Cabin is a perfect movie to once again allow anyone to champion M. Night Shyamalan as an outstanding director. Someone who knows how to build the ideal conditions for the cast to shine. Someone who knows how to use the little space and time at his disposal – he has an impressive ability to create absolutely mesmerizing single-location flicks. Someone who generates an immersive environment effortlessly. As a screenwriter, Shyamalan is recognized for his creative, bold decisions without any fear of a divisive reception, carrying the (bad?) tendency to completely change the movie with a last-minute twist.

And it's on this subject that I want to end the review. Expectations are a major factor often ignored and undermined by viewers, as if having a predefined idea of what we anticipate watching doesn't affect the final opinion that much. In the case of Knock at the Cabin, it's relatively safe to assume that those who are familiar with Shyamalan's filmography will walk into the theater expecting a third act that, for better or worse, will elicit a general reaction of "what the hell just happened?" The interesting part of this topic lies precisely in the public's opinion about these same twists.

If Knock at the Cabin plays it safe, will it disappoint those who love these surprising moments and satisfy those who criticize the filmmaker's obsession with this mechanism? What if it's the opposite situation? The truth is more straightforward than one might imagine: it depends on the quality of the twist. Obviously, this is both vague and subjective, like everything else in film criticism. But as a fan of Shyamalan and all his qualities that are sometimes flaws and vice-versa, the conclusion of this movie manages to simultaneously leave me completely satisfied and… also asking for something more.

All of Shyamalan's films are undeniably impactful, and Knock at the Cabin is no exception to this tradition. I easily imagine this one becoming a cult classic or, avoiding this potential overstatement, being watched and rewatched over and over again by fans of psychological, claustrophobic horror films. In the end, I'm genuinely happy that a filmmaker who sacrifices so much of his own life to bring imaginative stories to the big screen is back on the lips of the film world for good reasons.

Final Thoughts

Knock at the Cabin marks the triumphant comeback of M. Night Shyamalan, who possibly delivers his best movie since Signs in 2002. With the help of a superb cast led by the phenomenal Dave Bautista – with a career-best performance – the filmmaker explores the emotional complexity found in the profound moral dilemmas placed upon human beings when faced with life-and-death decisions. With a focus on a single location with persistent cinematography and immersive sound design, generating an atmosphere charged with excruciating tension. Extraordinarily gripping from start to finish. The next cult classic is born.

Manuel's Rating: A-
Follow Manuel on Twitter - @msbreviews / Or Letterboxd - @msbreviews

- Alex Billington
Game Warriors Battle Evil in Jason Trost's Sequel 'FP - 4EVZ' Trailer
FP - 4EVZ Trailer

"The final battle for the FP." XYZ Films has revealed an official trailer the next film in the ongoing indie sci-fi action comedy series The FP, continuing with FP - 4EVZ arriving this February. It's skipping theaters and heading to VOD directly. This is a follow-up to the other sequels FP2: Beats of Rage (2018) and FP3: Remix Revelation / Escape from Bako (2021). A legendary family of rhythm game warriors must battle their way deep into the future to save what remains of a booze fueled humanity from a horrific calamity that threatens to turn them all stone cold sober 4 EVZ. Jason Trost returns again as JTRO, with Tallay Wickham, Art Hsu, Lib Campbell, Ryan Gibson, Mike O'Gorman, and Bru Muller. This next one looks uber trippy, borrowing from Scott Pilgrim and Star Wars of course, with all the expected low budget sci-fi touches. I'm surprised one of the Trosts is still making these FP movies, but why not if someone is still watching. Enjoy.

Here's the main official trailer (+ poster) for Jason Trost's FP - 4EVZ, direct from XYZ's YouTube:

FP - 4EVZ Poster

The FP series continues… A legendary family of rhythm game warriors must battle their way deep into the future to save what remains of a booze fueled humanity from a horrific calamity that threatens to turn them all stone cold sober 4 EVZ. "Without goin' knee deep into spoilers… this one goes all Indiana Jones Adventure movie style and flips what we know about the origins of the Beat-Wars all up it's head!" FP - 4EVZ is once again written and directed by American actor / writer / filmmaker Jason Trost (brother of Brandon Trost - formerly known as the "Trost Bros"), director of the films The FP, All Superheroes Must Die 1 & 2, Wet and Reckless, How to Save Us, FP2: Beats of Rage, "Corona House", and FP3: Escape from Bako previously. Produced by Elizabeth Gray, Michael Lee, Jason Trost, Tallay Wickham. Funded with Indiegogo. XYZ Films will debut FP - 4EVZ direct-to-VOD starting February 24th, 2023 coming soon. Who's down?

- Alex Billington
Get Ready for 'Fast X' with New 'Fast and the Furious' Legacy Trailers
Fast and the Furious Trailer

"The road to the end begins 2/10." The new trailer for the 10th Fast and the Furious movie, titled Fast X, drops on February 10th in just a few weeks. Leading up to that big reveal, Universal Pictures has unveiled a new "legacy trailer" for the original movie that started it all - The Fast and the Furious from 2001. With 10 days to go until the new trailer, they'll be dropping a "legacy trailer" for each of the 9 movies that come before Fast X. We'll add them below over the next 10 days before the main event. This first trailer is for the action classic starring Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, and Jordana Brewster. It's just a 60 sec re-cut of the trailer from the past (can you believe its been 22 years?!) but it's cool to see anyway. I'm still amazed they've been able to keep this series going all the way to 10 movies, even as they get cheesier and more ridiculous every time, but that's why audiences keep watching. Does anyone else live their life a 1/4 mile at a time? Or is it just Dom? Whether you like it or not, another F&F is speeding into theaters soon.

Here's the new 2023 version of The Fast and the Furious - Legacy Trailer, from Universal's YouTube:

And here's the new 2023 Legacy Trailer for the sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious, also from Universal's YouTube:

Every day Universal is releasing a new legacy trailer for the 8 other movies - we'll update & add each one.

Fast and the Furious Legacy Trailer

"Live your life a 1/4 mile at a time." In Fast X, following the events of F9 (from 2021), Cipher and Dante unite in their fight against Dominic Toretto and his crew, as assisted by Tess. The Fast and the Furious franchise originally kicked off with the very first F&F in 2001. Directed by Rob Cohen, that movie landed in theaters in June of 2001, opening at #1 at the box office on its first weekend. The ongoing car action series has continued with many different sequels: 2 Fast 2 Furious in 2003 (directed by John Singleton); The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift in 2006, Fast & Furious in 2009, Fast Five in 2011, and Fast & Furious 6 in 2013 all directed by Justin Lin; Furious 7in 2015 directed by James Wan; The Fate of the Furious in 2017 directed by F. Gary Gray; plus F9 in 2021 directed by Justin Lin. This upcoming Fast and the Furious 10 movie is directed by filmmaker Louis Leterrier (The Transporter 1 & 2, Unleashed, The Incredible Hulk, Now You See Me, The Takedown) featuring a screenplay by Justin Lin & Dan Mazeau. Stay tuned for more updates. Universal will send Fast X to theaters nationwide on May 19th, 2023 this summer. Who's ready?

- Alex Billington
Jane Fonda & Lily Tomlin Are Seeking Revenge in 'Moving On' Trailer
Moving On Trailer

"So we're both lousy friends." Roadside Attractions has revealed an official trailer for an under-90-minutes dark comedy titled Moving On, the latest from filmmaker Paul Weitz (of About a Boy, In Good Company, Little Fockers, Being Flynn, Grandma). This actually premiered at TIFF 2022 last year, and recently played at the Palm Springs Film Festival, with a theatrical release set for March coming up next month. Two old friends reconnect at a funeral and decide to revenge on the widower who messed with them decades before. Along the way, each woman learns to make peace with the past and with each other. Jane Fonda & Lily Tomlin star as the two old friends, along with Malcolm McDowell, Richard Roundtree, Catherine Dent, and Marcel Nahapetian. This does look like it has some funny scenes and sharp dialogue, though the rest of the cliched story doesn't seem that great. Still will be worth watching just for Fonda and Tomlin.

Here's the official trailer for Paul Weitz's Moving On, direct from Roadside's YouTube:

Moving On Poster

Jane Fonda & Lily Tomlin star as estranged friends who reunite to seek revenge on the petulant widower (Malcolm McDowell) of their recently deceased best friend. Along the way… Fonda's character reunites with her great love (Richard Roundtree) as each woman learns to make peace with the past & each other. Moving On is both written and directed by American writer / producer / filmmaker Paul Weitz, director of the films American Pie, Down to Earth, About a Boy, In Good Company, American Dreamz, Cirque du Freak: Vampire's Assistant, Little Fockers, Being Flynn, Admission, Grandma, Bel Canto, and Fatherhood previously. This initially premiered at the 2022 Toronto Film Festival last year. Roadside Attractions will debut Weitz's Moving On in select US theaters starting March 17th, 2023 coming soon. Want to watch?

- Alex Billington
New Trailer for Indie Film 'Hannah Ha Ha' with Hannah Lee Thompson
Hannah Ha Ha Trailer

From last year's Slamdance Film Festival, arriving in February in theaters - take a look at this micro budget indie. Fandor has revealed the full official trailer for an indie film called Hannah Ha Ha, opening next month after more than a year of waiting. It first premiered at the 2022 Slamdance Film Festival last year, where it won the Best Performance Award and the Grand Jury Prize during the fest. "While the narrative's modesty is charming, there is a hidden subtlety and depth to this movie that makes it stand out from a lot of other festival fare." Hannah lives a content, hard-working life in the small town where she grew up. To her visiting older brother, she's just wasting her time. As their Summer together winds down, Hannah gets what wasting time really means. Starring Hannah Lee Thompson, Roger Mancusi, Avram Tetewsky, and Betsey Brown. This one is really only for fans of indie flicks and quaint dramas about drifting through life.

Here's the official trailer (+ poster) for Pikovsky & Tetewsky's Hannah Ha Ha, direct from YouTube:

Hannah Ha Ha Poster

Hannah Ha Ha Poster

The lushly shot, warmhearted winner of the Slamdance 2022 Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative explores family bonds through the quarter-life lens of a remarkable protagonist. In this character-driven dramedy from writer-director duo Joshua Pikovsky & Jordan Tetewsky, we meet compassionate townie Hannah (as played by the real life musician Hannah Lee Thompson)—who lives a content, selfless life with her aging father in rural Massachusetts—as she works odd jobs to keep herself busy and provide for her loved ones. To her visiting older brother, she's just wasting her time. Hannah Ha Ha is co-written and co-written by filmmakers Joshua Pikovsky & Jordan Tetewsky, both making their feature directorial debut on this one after a few other short films previously. It's produced by Roger Mancusi. This initially premiered at the 2022 Slamdance Film Festival last year. Fandor will debut Pikovsky & Tetewsky's Hannah Ha Ha in select US theaters first starting February 10th, 2023, then it will steam on Fandor later this year. Who's down?

- Alex Billington
Fantasy Adventure Movie 'The Magic Flute' Trailer Starring Jack Wolfe
The Magic Flute Trailer

"You shouldn't take a risk if you're gonna figure out what it is you're missing." Shout Factory has released their official US trailer for The Magic Flute, an epic fantasy adventure thriller based on the classic Mozart opera of the same name. This premiered at the 2022 Zurich Film Festival last year and it already opened in Europe in the fall. It's now set for a US release in theaters this March. The Magic Flute is a reimagining of Mozart's opera classic and stars Jack Wolfe, F. Murray Abraham, Iwan Rheon, Stéfi Celma, Asha Banks, Stefan Konarske, Niamh McCormack, Amir Wilson, and Tedros Teclebrhan. This follows 17-year-old Tim Walker as he travels from London up to the Austrian Alps to attend the legendary Mozart boarding school. There he discovers a centuries-old forgotten passage into the fantastic world of Mozart's "The Magic Flute." This looks like another Harry Potter ripoff, with a school and serpent and witches and more. It seems like made-for-TV junk that we should probably be avoiding anyway. I wish this looked better.

Here's the new official US trailer (+ poster) for Florian Sigl's The Magic Flute, direct from YouTube:

Executive producer Roland Emmerich: "Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's masterpiece The Magic Flute has always been my favorite opera ever since I experienced this magical story as a young adult. I was immediately drawn to the concept of cinematically reimagining this story when the filmmaking team approached me with their idea, which I was thrilled to champion. The entire team brought their fantastic vision to the screen in an exciting and innovative way. I look forward to Shout! Studios bringing this epic journey to audiences to once again be enchanted by the universally acclaimed and world-famous music."

The Magic Flute Poster

From Executive Producer Roland Emmerich comes a captivating film that follows a teen on two journeys: one into a prestigious boarding school to fulfill his aspirations as a singer, and into a parallel world filled with fantasy & adventure. Tim (Jack Wolfe) has been dreaming his whole life about attending Mozart All Boys Music School, but already his first days there confront him with a hostile headmaster (F. Murray Abraham), the stresses of a first love, and serious doubts about the authenticity of his singing voice. When he discovers a mystical gateway in the school's library, he is pulled into the fantastic cosmos of Mozart's opera, The Magic Flute, where imagination has no limits and the Queen of the Night (Sabine Devieilhe) reigns. The Magic Flute is directed by the German filmmaker Florian Sigl, making his feature directorial debut after working in classical music. The screenplay is by Florian Sigl, Christopher Zwickler, Jason Young, and Andrew Lowery. This initially premiered at the 2022 Zurich Film Festival last year. Shout Factory will debut The Magic Flute in US theaters starting on March 10th, 2023 coming soon. Anyone want to watch?

- Alex Billington
Khris Davis is the Famous Boxer in 'Big George Foreman' Movie Trailer
Big George Foreman Trailer

"Now you look like the Michelin Man. This ain't no beauty contest." Sony Pictures has finally unveiled the official trailer for the Big George Foreman movie, formerly called Heart of a Lion. After being delayed from opening last year, this boxing biopic is now to set open in April, and the movie's full title is seriously: Big George Foreman: The Miraculous Story of the Once and Future Heavyweight Champion of the World. Yowza. The biopic tells the life story and follows the boxing career of the legendary George Foreman. He is a two-time world heavyweight champion and an Olympic gold medalist (and creator of the George Foreman Grill). Directed by acclaimed filmmaker George Tillman Jr., the film stars Khris Davis (seen in Judas and the Black Messiah) as Foreman and it also stars Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker as Foreman's trainer and mentor Doc Broadus. The cast also includes John Magaro, Sonja Sohn, Erica Tazel, Sam Trammell, Deion Smith, Judd Lormand, Al Sapienza, and Sullivan Jones as Muhammad Ali. This looks like a fairly generic biopic, telling a story we've seen many times before of a boxer making a comeback.

Here's the official trailer (+ poster) for George Tillman Jr.'s Big George Foreman, direct from YouTube:

Big George Foreman Poster

Big George Foreman: The Miraculous Story of the Once and Future Heavyweight Champion of the World is based on the remarkable true story of one of the greatest comebacks of all time & the transformational power of second chances. Fueled by an impoverished childhood, George Foreman (Khris Davis) channeled his anger into becoming an Olympic Gold medalist and World Heavyweight Champion, followed by a near-death experience that took him from the boxing ring to the pulpit. But when he sees his community struggling spiritually and financially, Foreman returns to the ring and makes history by reclaiming his title, becoming the oldest and most improbable World Heavyweight Boxing Champion ever. Big George Foreman, formerly known as Heart of a Lion, is directed by American filmmaker George Tillman Jr., director of the films Scenes for the Soul, Soul Food, Men of Honor, Notorious, Faster, The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete, The Longest Ride, and The Hate U Give previously. The screenplay is co-written by Frank Baldwin & George Tillman Jr., from a story by Dan Gordon and Baldwin & Tillman. Sony will debut the Big George Foreman movie in theaters starting on April 28th, 2023 this spring. Looking good? Who's down?

- Alex Billington
Bruce Dern & Tony Schiena in Generic Action Film 'The Weapon' Trailer
The Weapon Trailer

"We are gonna have to take control." Lionsgate has unveiled an official trailer for an action thriller titled The Weapon, yet another of these extremely bland, derivative action films they're always dumping out on VOD right away. Actor Tony Schiena is making his directorial debut, and also stars as the lead character. Dallas is a one-man killing machine on a mysterious rampage… His attacks on biker gangs and meth labs anger the Vegas mob boss who's holding Dallas's girlfriend hostage. But who is Dallas working for? Even torture won't make him talk… and he won't stop until justice is served. The film's cast also includes Cuba Gooding Jr., Sean Patrick Flanery, Jack Kesy, Bruce Dern, and Annalynn McCord. This looks as boring and as uninteresting as any action film can, with the most generic and obvious plot ever. Just skip it.

Here's the official trailer (+ new poster) for Tony Schiena's The Weapon, direct from YouTube:

The Weapon Poster

Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr., Sean Patrick Flanery, and Jack Kesy star this bone-crunching action thriller. Tony Schiena is Dallas, a one-man killing machine on a mysterious rampage. His attacks on biker gangs and meth labs anger the Vegas mob boss who’s holding Dallas’ girlfriend hostage. But who is Dallas working for? Even torture won’t make him talk, and he won’t stop until justice is served. The Weapon is directed by actor turned filmmaker Tony Schiena, making his directorial debut with this. The screenplay is written by Michael Caissie. Produced by Asif Akbar and Justin Giffen. Lionsgate will debut Schiena's The Weapon in select US theaters + on VOD starting on February 17th, 2023 coming soon. Who's interested?

- Alex Billington
Michael Shannon & Kate Hudson in Comedy 'A Little White Lie' Trailer
A Little White Lie Trailer

"Talk to me about literature!" Saban Films has revealed an amusing official trailer for a comedy titled A Little White Lie, which will be out on VOD to watch starting in March. Another of these uninteresting new films that despite having a good cast, will probably turn out pretty mediocre from the looks of it. When a handyman living in New York City is mistaken for a famous and famously reclusive writer, he's brought to a prestigious university where he is to deliver a keynote address to save the school's literary festival. "Shriver must do whatever it takes for his shot at love in this fish-out-of-water comedy." It's based on the book called Shriver. The film stars Michael Shannon as Shriver, with Kate Hudson, Zach Braff, Kate Linder, Aja Naomi King, plus Da'Vine Joy Randolph and Don Johnson. This looks like a wacky mix up with a fun ensemble of talented actors, but will it be any good? Maybe it has a good few good laughs? Have a look.

Here's the official trailer (+ poster) for Michael Maren's A Little White Lie, direct from YouTube:

A Little White Lie Poster

Shriver (Michael Shannon), a down-on-his-luck New York City handyman who has never read a book in his life, is mistaken for a famous writer that has been in hiding for over 20 years. With nothing to lose, he accepts an invitation to attend a college literary festival and finds himself surrounded by adoring fans and an English professor (Kate Hudson) who captures his heart. Shriver must do whatever it takes for his shot at love in this fish-out-of-water comedy. A Little White Lie is both written and directed by filmmaker Michael Maren, his second feature film after directing A Short History of Decay previously; he worked for years as a war correspondent before making films. It's adapted from Chris Belden's novel titled Shriver. This hasn't premiered at any festivals or elsewhere, as far as we know. Saban Films will debut Maren's A Little White Lie in select US theaters + on VOD starting March 3rd, 2023 coming soon. Who's interested?

- Michael Bezanidis

Dave Bautista, best known for his role as Drax the Destroyer in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has announced that he has no plans to return to the role. Bautista has been a fan-favorite for his portrayal of the lovable and humor-filled Guardians of the Galaxy character, but it seems that he is ready to move on from the MCU. “It’s hard, but it’s time, and it’s the perfect exit...


- Michael Bezanidis

A brand new image from Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania puts the spotlight on Kang actor Jonathan Majors. Created by Marvel legends Stan Lee Jack Kirby, Kang the Conqueror is is known for his incredible intelligence and mastery of time travel. In the comics, Kang has a reputation as one of the Avengers’ most formidable foes, making his inclusion in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania a major event...


- Michael Bezanidis

Shazam! Fury of the Gods, the highly-anticipated sequel to the 2019 superhero movie starring Zachary Levi, has secured a China release date. The movie is currently scheduled to hit the Middle Kingdom on March 17th, day-and-date with its release in North America theaters, as revealed by The Hollywood Reporter. China has become a major market for Hollywood blockbusters in recent years...


- Michael Bezanidis

DC Studios co-head James Gunn recently revealed four more comic book inspirations for the upcoming DC Universe projects. James Gunn has been a long-time fan of comic books and has been working on several projects for the DC Universe since his appointment as co-head alongside producer Peter Safran. He is known for his unique style of storytelling and his ability to bring comic book worlds to life...


- Michael Bezanidis

HBO Max has axed Pennyworth: The Origin of Batman’s Butler after three seasons. Pennyworth, the origin story of Batman’s butler Alfred Pennyworth, was a television series produced by Epix and DC Entertainment. It eventually moved to the WarnerMedia streaming service HBO Max, which marketed it as Pennyworth: The Origin of Batman’s Butler. “While HBO Max is not moving forward with another season of...


- Michael Bezanidis

A new poster for The Mandalorian season three teases the return of the Disney Plus series. The release of a new poster for the third season of The Mandalorian has caused a stir among fans of the popular Star Wars series. The poster features the titular character, also known as Din Djarin, holding the legendary Darksaber with the Child, a.k.a. Baby Yoda, sitting in the background.


- Michael Bezanidis

Universal is hyping up the long-awaited Fast X trailer. Following the release of the first Fast X poster, Universal has dropped a new promotional video teasing the release of the official trailer for the movie. The trailer is scheduled to make its debut during a fan event in Los Angeles, with the full sneak peek set to arrive online on February 10th. A recent report revealed that Gal Gadot is set...


- Michael Bezanidis

A new behind-the-scenes photo from the Percy Jackson Disney Plus series teases the introduction of Toby Stephens as Poseidon. Toby Stephens recently joined the cast of the Disney Plus series Percy Jackson and the Olympians as Poseidon, the father of the titular hero. A behind-the-scenes photo from one of the writers behind the upcoming series shows off a set chair that belongs to the Poseidon...


- Michael Bezanidis

Marvel’s Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania has an official rating. Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania has been rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association Of America. The upcoming Marvel Studios feature received the rating as a result of “”violence/action and language,” according to Disney. First DC Studios Projects Officially Revealed By James Gunn & Peter Safran The official Ant-Man and the...


- Michael Bezanidis

Well, that was quick: The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that James Mangold is in talks to take on the Swamp Thing movie at DC Studios. Mangold teased his involvement with the DC Comics property with a post on his official Twitter page on Wednesday morning. During the DC Universe slate reveal, James Gunn and Peter Safran said that the Swamp Thing movie investigates “the dark origins” of the DC...


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- Christian Toto
Colbert Preaches to His Masked-Up Parishioners

There’s only one person mask-wearing liberals may love more than Dr. Anthony Fauci.

It’s Stephen Colbert.

The far-Left host of “The Late Show” is a one-stop source for COVID-19 overreach.

YouTube Video

He’s been pushing the vaccines relentlessly on his CBS show, never backpedaling after news emerged that the jab didn’t work as promised.

Nor has he addressed concerns that COVID-19 vaccines may have adverse side-effects, an emerging story that deserves further investigation. Even a Pfizer employee admitted during a Project Veritas sting operation that women’s fertility could be impacted by the shot.


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A post shared by Project Veritas (@project_veritas)

That disconnect hasn’t stopped Colbert fans from flooding his Big Apple studio to watch his daily tapings.

This week, Colbert’s monologue shared the news that President Joe Biden will lift the national emergency status used to rally resources to fight the pandemic.

YouTube Video

“Take that, Covid! We beat you! Shove that up your nose and rotate it five times … this has been a long time coming, and I wish you could see the smiles on the faces of my audience. And I wish I could too, because they’re still wearing masks.”

The camera shot shifts from Colbert to the studio audience. Every member is wearing a mask. Many are applauding the host’s comments.

“So Covid is no longer an emergency, just a disease we’re all going to live with forever. Phew?”

All of this was said, of course, by a maskless host.


Did that anger the assembled crowd, forced to smile and laugh through an uncomfortable piece of fabric? It didn’t appear so.

Just the opposite reaction, to be precise.

For Colbert fans, donning a mask is a ritualistic symbol. It tells the world they “Believe in Science” … and their beloved talk show host. Never mind that a new, peer-reviewed analysis, compiling data from 78 previous studies, showed masking has little to no impact on spreading COVID-19.

Even New York City, a city that leaned heavily into lockdown protocols and mask mandates, no longer demands citizens mask up. And it’s been that way for months.

Don’t tell that to Colbert’s flock. They’re at a progressive service, and they must show their fealty to Pastor Stephen. They don’t care that their leader hasn’t been seen wearing a mask on TV for months, maybe years.

They believe in “Science,” but much less in actual data or hypocrisy.

The post Colbert Preaches to His Masked-Up Parishioners appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
FLASHBACK: Hunter Biden Tells Kimmel Laptop is ‘Red Herring’

Hunter Biden is the greatest gift to late-night comedians since a certain real estate mogul ran for the White House.

Except Team Late Night keeps stamping, “Return to Sender” on the package.

Imagine a First Son with the tawdry track record Hunter Biden has. The jokes write themselves. At least on paper, they do.

Good thing the First Son’s Pappy is a Democrat. It shields him from mockery. That’s true with late-night comedians not named “Greg” or “Gutfeld” as well as “Saturday Night Live.”

YouTube Video

They’d rather mock the same GOP figures week in, week out, than notice young Biden has been a horrible human being who, for now, appears to be in recovery.

Good for him.

This week, Hunter Biden admitted what every sane soul knows. Yes, the laptop reported on by The New York Post in 2020 and hidden by Big Tech is his. That’s despite most mainstream media outlets denying that truth and a crooked band of 51 intelligence officials dubbing it “Russian propaganda” without proof to back it up.

Today’s cover: New tactic: Hunter Biden is the ‘laptop from hell’ victim

— New York Post (@nypost) February 2, 2023

The truth is out, although the First Son’s legal team is still playing cutesy with the facts.

This leads us back to one late-night comic who invited Hunter Biden on his show in 2021. The far-Left Jimmy Kimmel let Biden promote his memoir, “Beautiful Things,” via his ABC platform.

That exchange, brimming with softball queries, deserves a second look.

Kimmel asks him about the infamous “laptop from Hell,” and here’s Biden’s response.

“Now look, I really don’t know and the fact of the matter is, it’s a red herring. It is absolutely a red herring. But I am absolutely, I think, within my rights to question anything that comes from the desk of Rudy Giuliani. And so, ‘I don’t know’ is the answer.”

Now, he knows, but it won’t matter to Team Late Night. The only way they’ll touch on the story is if they take a page from Biden’s legal team.

It’s all Rudy Giuliani’s fault.

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- Christian Toto
’80 for Brady’ Is a Cinematic Fair Catch

When a film is “inspired by real events” you know there’s some serious tinkering with the truth.

That’s never been more obvious than with “80 for Brady,” a comedy that leans into its feel-good premise.

Oh, so hard.

Four scrappy seniors watch NFL great Tom Brady go for his fifth Super Bowl ring.

Along the way, they defy their age and prove star power can supercharge sitcom shtick. And there’s a great deal of TV-level groans between the sweet asides. It helps that “Brady” assembles four pros in the very best sense of the phrase to make it all go down smoothly.

YouTube Video

Betty (Sally Field), Lou (Lily Tomlin), Trish (Jane Fonda) and Maura (Rita Moreno) ritualistically watch every Patriots game with their gridiron hero, QB Tom Brady. He’s handsome and talented, and his gridiron grit inspired Lou during her cancer battle.

Now, the quartet does everything it can to help Tom win, even if that means re-staging minor accidents if they preceded a Patriots’ win. These are grown women, mind you, and the laughs generated by their shtick aren’t worth the embarrassment.

So when Team Brady scores another invitation to the Super Bowl they apply to a local talk show contest to snag four tickets. The hosts in question, played by Rob Corrdry and Alex Moffatt, generate no smiles, let alone laughs.

What a missed opportunity given the raucous nature of sports radio and the passion of your average Pats’ fan.


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The gals snag their tickets to Houston and Super Bowl LI,  but more obstacles stand in their way, including a hunky ex-athlete (Harry Hamlin) and a potentially ominous medical note Lou refuses to read.

Each of the friends represents a “type,” from Fonda’s aging glamour girl to Field’s nerdy, put-upon wife. The stars make the most of their simplistic back stories, even if their combined acting chops can’t make their sports passion pop off the screen.

They’re more convincing as pals willing to stick together through thick and thin, and that matters more.

You’ll chuckle a time or two at the shenanigans, although whoever thought installing Guy Fieri in the film should have their pay docked.

Billy Porter fares better as a poker player with a heart of gold. His presence alongside these Golden Girls boosts the fun factor.

YouTube Video

Wish fulfillment is front and center, even more than your average “Sex and the City” yarn. The film wants to be taken seriously, at least on the surface, but the surreal segments fall clunkily into place and take you out of the sisterhood in action.

“80 for Brady” seems prime for woke asides, if not overt speeches considering the film’s pedigree. Fonda’s presence is your first clue. The second? The screenplay hails from Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern of “Booksmart” fame.

Nothing doing. The bonding is what matters most, and on that level “80 for Brady” is … good (enough)!

HiT or Miss: “80 for Brady” packs smiles and groans, but the feisty leads and Tom Brady’s all-American legacy make amends for its flaws.

The post ’80 for Brady’ Is a Cinematic Fair Catch appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
‘Knock at the Cabin’ Is What Shyamalan Rarely Delivers

Audiences have a love/hate relationship with the director once dubbed “The Next Spielberg.”

Fans flocked to M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Sixth Sense,” “Unbreakable” and “Split,” while they savaged his bountiful misfires (“Lady in the Water,” “The Happening” and “The Last Airbender”).

That leaves “Knock at the Cabin” as his most curious effort. It’s … fine. The third act doesn’t sink the film, and the trailer’s eerie vibes reverberate from start to finish.

What’s missing? That singular chill Shyamalan musters in his very best movies.

YouTube Video

Dave Bautista stars as Leonard, a hulking stranger who approaches a little girl outside a Pennsylvania cabin. He forges a fast bond with young Wen (Kristen Cui) over grasshoppers, but he isn’t there to talk entomology.

He’s part of a four-person troupe warning Wen’s gay parents Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge) they have a choice awaiting them.

The world will end unless the family makes a terrible, unavoidable sacrifice.

Is Leonard and co. eager to exploit an innocent family? Could they be targeting the trio for homophobic reasons? Or is their dire vision about to come true?


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A post shared by Dolby (@dolbylabs)

Shyamalan, working with co-screenwriters Steve Desmond and Michael Sherman, set the pieces in motion with stunning speed. If you’ve seen the trailer, you know what’s coming, but “Cabin” wastes little time getting there.

That’s a blessing and a curse. Can the filmmakers keep our attention for 90-plus minutes given that brisk set-up?


It helps that Bautista’s gentle giant shtick is impressive and long-lasting. Leonard isn’t using his bulk to make the couple decide the fate of humanity, or their version of it. He’s soothing, warning the family what will happen if they ignore his warning.


Along the way Shyamalan teases out some real-world scenarios, from the rise of conspiracy theorists to the fears gay men face in modern society.

The latter thread brims with cliches, and it’s the least interesting part of the director’s vision.

Shyamalan is famous for big swings and even bigger misses. “Knock at the Cabin” feels different. He’s working on a smaller canvas, both visually and thematically. There aren’t many storytelling options to consider, and that reduces the thrill level dramatically.

That, and a recurring sense of loss that quickly proves predictable.

How very un-Shyamalan.

NOTE: Shyamalan’s playful cameos are a winning part of his canon, but this film’s close-up could be his best.

“Knock at the Cabin” forcefully reduces the options in play. Most of the action takes place in the titular cabin, and the flashbacks flesh out little of the Eric/Andrew dynamic. It’s a shame “Cabin” takes so few risks with the gay couple in question, following approved narratives without much in the way of introspection.

Good thing Cui reminds us how good Shyamalan is at directing young actors. Her presence matters, ramping up the stakes in play.

Is one child worth … everything?

Shyamalan often injects faith into his narratives, and there’s a spiritual element here, too. He’s also playing with the notion of family, and how far parents will go to protect their children. it’s one of his most charming tics, and something absent in the work of many mainstream directors.

“Knock at the Cabin” packs a third-act wallop, which won’t surprise any of his fans (or foes). What’s most shocking is how you’ll likely see it all coming.

HiT or Miss: “Knock at the Cabin” delivers a thoughtful spin on apocalyptic storytelling, but the film’s first act suggests a slam-bang finale that never materializes.

The post ‘Knock at the Cabin’ Is What Shyamalan Rarely Delivers appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
Anthony Jeselnik: ‘I Don’t Have Sympathy’ for Canceled Chappelle

Anthony Jeselnik, on paper, should live in mortal fear of Cancel Culture.

The comic traffics in material so extreme, so morally warped, that it’s shocking someone hasn’t raised a ruckus over it yet. He likely stays ahead of the mob by embracing his over-the-top brand. No one actually believes he believes what he says on stage.

Here’s a Jeselnik joke to set the stage:

I let a friend set me up on a blind date. It was a disaster. She ended up being a burn victim. By the end of the night.

— Anthony Jeselnik (@anthonyjeselnik) April 15, 2010

A Florida newspaper summed up his approach.

Jeselnik jokes about all the topics you’re not supposed to joke about. He made it a point to open his last special, Caligula, with a rape joke. In the first episode of his Comedy Central show, The Jeselnik Offensive, he did cancer jokes in front of a cancer support group

Yet the Pennsylvania native insists Cancel Culture is both over-hyped and merely a marketing tic for his fellow comics.

Jeselnik shared that view, plus behind-the-scenes stories of working on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” via Uproxx’s “People’s Party with Talib Kweli.”

YouTube Video

The comedian recalls the battles with “Standards and Practices” to determine which jokes were allowed on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” He described a surreal set of quasi-rules that were interpreted differently on any given day.

Cancel Culture is similar, in a way, but there’s a method to the woke madness.

A comic who supports President Donald Trump, for example, won’t get the leeway of another who uses They/Them pronouns.

Yet Jeselnik downplayed the woke revolution. And he did so by denying reality.


Jeselnik first shared his admiration for comics who try to find the “line” in humor and occasionally push past it. These innovators want to gauge how a crowd reacts and what kind of laughter can be milked from those moments.

He name-checked Dave Chappelle’s “black-white supremacist” skit from “Chappelle’s Show,” a classic moment from the series.

Jeselnik then reversed course.

“I think Cancel Culture is the cost of doing business. I think the term is over-used at this point, and no one’s actually being canceled,” he said, before muttering the Left’s favorite spin on the topic, “Consequence Culture.”

Tell that to Roseanne Barr. The comedy icon lost her career for sending one racially-charged joke.

One. Tweet.

Her upcoming Fox Nation comedy special is her first major gig in six years.

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“I don’t understand why people get so upset or are so sensitive to it,” he continued before returning to Chappelle. “If you’re as big as he is, people are gonna get upset at the things you say. That’s part of what you do, and it’s part of why you do it, so I don’t understand the complaint.”

He recalled Chappelle bemoaning the new comedy rules during a recent “Saturday Night Live” appearance. The comedy icon said woke culture makes his job harder.

“He makes so much money. Your job should be a little hard. I don’t have sympathy for you in that. He says whatever he wants to, great, but when there’s pushback I don’t know why it bothers him,” Jeselnik said.

Here’s why.

The Barr example remains the most extreme, but other cases abound. Sarah Silverman lost a plum movie gig because she once wore blackface during her Comedy Central series “The Sarah Silverman Program.”

And then there’s the self-censorship that happens across the comedy landscape. Even “Desus & Mero” admitted they do just that lest they run afoul of the woke mob. Others do the same, of course, especially comedians who lack the name recognition of a Chappelle or Jeselnik.

How many hilarious, insightful jokes got squelched because the comedian feared for his or her career?

The digital form of Cancel Culture is just as pernicious. Free-thinking comedians have their work censored, from apolitical jokers like Ryan Long to right-leaning, but still politically balanced souls like Tyler Fischer.

Let’s circle back to Chappelle, a comedian for whom Jeselnik lacks sympathy.

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The comedy icon endured months of attacks from both trans activists and members of the mainstream media. His Minneapolis show got canceled near the last minute because someone objected to his material. His fans endured physical attacks after the show changed to a new, free speech friendlier venue.

Chappelle’s untitled 2021 documentary got canceled from the film festival circuit, and it appears it still hasn’t found a distributor willing to share it.

The biggest Cancel Culture fallout? An armed man jumped on stage next to Chappelle last year during his Hollywood Bowl appearance.

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No sympathy, eh?

Or is it just cowardice in the face of a mob that could turn on Jeselnik if he doesn’t give the “proper” answer?

Maybe Jeselnik was talking in character, saying something so outrageous it must be a joke. Except the comedian wasn’t smiling, nor was he attempting to make us laugh.

The post Anthony Jeselnik: ‘I Don’t Have Sympathy’ for Canceled Chappelle appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
Will Any Comedian Lay a Glove on Big Pharma (Now)?

John Oliver delivered a blistering takedown of Big Pharma … in 2015.

The “Last Week Tonight” segment found Oliver excoriating drug companies for what he deemed less than moral tactics.

“Drug companies are a bit like high school boyfriends … They’re much more concerned with getting inside of you than being effective once they’re in there.”

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Stephen Colbert took his own swing at Big Pharma three years later.

“There are certain subjects that are genuinely hard to talk about like, the opioid crisis. It’s an epidemic that affects both political parties, Republican, Democrat, rich people, poor people, it does not discriminate … And a lot of people blame Big Pharma, but only because it’s their fault.”

Big Pharma had a big, fat target on its back for some time.

When your doctor is in the pocket of Big Pharma.

— comedycentral (@ComedyCentral) February 1, 2019

That was then. Now, with Pfizer’s tactics under fire from alternative media outlets it’s the perfect time for Oliver and Colbert, among others, to take satirical swings at the mega company.

Just imagine a “Saturday Night Live” sketch tweaking this exchange alone.

Still zero coverage from mainstream media on @Project_Veritas and @JamesOKeefeIII‘s dramatic report on Pfizer’s gain of function research.

Please share this with everyone you know. It is the most important revelation on Covid

— Dr. Eli David (@DrEliDavid) January 27, 2023

That video sting quickly generated millions of views on YouTube (before its deletion), Twitter and elsewhere. Even if the mainstream media did its best to ignore or downplay a Pfizer executive’s shocking confessions (which he later denied as lies), many Americans learned about it via social media and brave news outlets like The Daily Mail.

Except we’re not seeing any jokes on the subject from the usual suspects.

Late-night liberals have steered clear of the Project Veritas video and its ensuing headlines from right-leaning media outlets. Nor have they questioned recent revelations that the COVID-19 vaccine didn’t operate as advertised.

The vaccine didn’t stop people from getting the virus or transmitting it. We’ve known that for months, and yet the Late-Night Jimmys don’t think it’s worth addressing. Speaking “truth to power” has its guard rails, apparently.

They’d rather sing songs about indoor mask wearing … while not wearing actual masks indoors.


It’s not as if late-night comics ignored Pfizer’s handiwork.

Viewers have been deluged with pro-vaccine sketches, dances and musical numbers across the late night landscape. ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel said unvaccinated Americans didn’t deserve medical treatment if they got sick from the virus.

Former shock jock Howard Stern said the same but in angrier terms.

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Colbert went a few steps further.

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Some comedians may genuinely fear cancellation for taking on Big Pharma. YouTube punished Project Veritas for its recent sting that showed a Pfizer Executive admitting the company does “gain of function”-style research on viruses like COVID-19.

Big Tech routinely censors jokes it finds “problematic” or, more specifically, hits targets inconvenient to the preferred narratives du jour.

Kimmel and co. also might get blowback from their corporate overlords if Big Pharma cash is part of their revenue streams.

Or these comics are simply being tribal, assuming anything tied to the vaccine is pro-liberal, anti-conservative, and they fear embracing the other side if only for a sketch or gag?

The post Will Any Comedian Lay a Glove on Big Pharma (Now)? appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
Salem Horror Fest Demands ‘LGBTQIA2S+’ Entries from Florida, Texas

Diversity demands are all the rage in Hollywood.

Next year, any studio hoping to snag a Best Picture Oscar better meet the Academy’s new, extensive list of diversity requirements … or else. Here’s one example, straight from Oscar, Inc: 

The main storyline(s), theme or narrative of the film is centered on an underrepresented group(s).

Women Racial or ethnic group LGBTQ+ People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

Inclusion riders are part of today’s entertainment industry, too, and projects like HBO Max’s “Velma” steer into aggressive diversity casting calls for established IPs (intellectual properties).

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Now, a small horror festival is taking that push even further and attempting to punish two red states in the process.

The Salem Horror Fest, which celebrates indie shockers, posts its submission rules for the April 20-30 event on its official web site. The festival craves “unique, wild, thought provoking, and socially conscious feature films and shorts.”

One particular requirement, though, is steeped in partisan politics.

*** Please note that we will not be accepting any film submissions from Texas or Florida unless they feature LGBTQIA2S+ content or creators. No exceptions. ***

The demand targets the legislative maneuvers in those red states. Said laws, typically distorted by the press, purportedly inhibit the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.

Now, filmmakers who live in Florida and Texas must submit “diverse” horror films or find other festivals.


That didn’t sit well with one filmmaker, who considers himself a staunch critic of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a rising GOP star. Indie film artist Michael Malott, a Florida resident, is suing the festival for discriminatory practices.

Malott’s suit contends that the festival’s policy “is openly violating the federally protected civil rights of filmmakers in two entire states and is doing such in bad faith and in violation of federal statute and law.”

The suit further points to disputes with Kay Lynch, the director of the festival, and a claim that she “launched a personal attack upon (Malott) in an attempt to cause him further harm and duress.”

Lynch told The Salem News the festival’s policy “speaks for itself.”

That trailer, and the film’s official description, suggest the film packs an anti-Trump sentiment.

…three Atlanta Goth kids who cut through rural Florida on their way to the Keys. Camping overnight off road in a secluded woods they are confronted by four good ‘ole Florida rednecks who plan to just harass and intimidate the kids. After a gun accidentally goes off and kills one of the kids, the rednecks must kill the remaining two. But unbeknownst to them that one of the kids is a practicing witch and returns from the grave to enact a brutal revenge.

One ironic element?

Malott features a quote from Lynch on his Bad Clown Films web site. She allegedly said his most recent work, “Bed of Nails,” “triggered a rage I’ve never felt before.”

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The news comes on the heels of Variety’s blistering report on film festivals avoiding “problematic” entrees for fear of Cancel Culture fallout. Plus, the Sundance Film Festival forces audiences to sign a “loyalty oath” demanding they behave a certain way or be banned from future Sundance events.

Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

The post Salem Horror Fest Demands ‘LGBTQIA2S+’ Entries from Florida, Texas appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
Why Horror Movies Are Having a Moment

Superhero films still draw a crowd, and any movie with Tom Cruise will earn its money back, and then some. James Cameron proved beyond a shadow of a doubt he holds the Master Key to our cinematic hearts.

One genre still stands tall at the box office in 2023, even as the pandemic fallout and streaming reduce ticket sales to alarming levels.

Horror, Inc.

And, with “M3GAN” slaughtering the competition, the new year may keep the streak alive.

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Last year delivered one horror hit after the next. Think “Smile,” “The Black Phone,” “Barbarian” and “Halloween Ends.” “Nope” may be Jordan Peele’s worst film, but it still hauled in $123 million.

Other horror films made far less but had a cultural impact.

“Terrifier 2,” a film boasting no major studio love and a microscopic budget ($250,000) snagged $10.6 million, according to Box Office Mojo. That’s on top of the film’s successful crowdfunding campaign, which earned more than 400 percent of its initial goal.

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Even some financial disappointments delivered top-flight chills. Think “X,” “Pearl” and the exhilarating “Men.”

Why is horror mostly immune to the public’s waning interest in movie going? And how do directors keep churning out inventive stories while the rest of Hollywood clings to sequels, reboots and remakes?

It starts with the nature of horror itself. We’ve all watched a slasher film at home and shuddered over any unexpected sounds. It’s scary to watch a shocker at home, alone, and in a darkened den, no less.

That’s still a singular experience. There’s no one there to bond with, though, to feel a common sense of escalating dread.

Let’s Get Scared … Together

The movie theater offers the opposite. You’re sitting in a sea of strangers, clutching your armrests while others are doing the same. You gasp at a jump scare, and a dozen people do the same.

Maybe more.

That communal experience is why the theatrical model still matters. It can’t be replicated at home no matter how big your “man cave” might be. No one invites strangers into their home to watch a scary movie, but they’ll happily sit with them to do just that at the local theater.

And, when the film delivers, it’s glorious.

Anonymous Stars, Big Results

That’s not the only reason for horror’s healthy receipts. Horror films rarely rely on “name” actors to sell their scares. Yes, “M3GHAN” boasts “Get Out” alum Allison Williams, but her presence doesn’t explain the film’s box office might.

“Barbarian” begins with two relatively fresh faces (Georgina Campbell and Bill Skarsgard) who hook the audience from the jump.

“Smile” didn’t need an A-lister attached to the project. That creepy grin plastering the marketing materials proved irresistible.


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A post shared by Smile Movie (@smilemovie)

Marquee actors never hurt, although when fans expect to see them shine and they’re treated like an afterthought (Jamie Lee Curtis in “Halloween Ends”) box office receipts droop accordingly.

Plus, lesser-known stars can’t command the kind of salaries that balloon a film’s budget. Even better?

Fresh faces lack cultural baggage, the kind that coaxes some audiences to stay home. A horror movie featuring Sean Penn, for example, might alienate fans exhausted by the Oscar-winner’s divisive comments.

Smaller budgets often mean less studio interference, fewer notes from up above and more faith in the creators behind the scenes. That doesn’t always yield superior stories, but in a pure genre like horror an auteur’s touch helps.

Getting to Know You …

Horror creatives are also more in touch with their fans. The horror community passionately supports genre legends and newbies alike.

It’s why “Terrifier 2” creator Damien Leone’s Twitter feed brims with an appreciation for the film’s fans.

Although we now officially & shockingly 😜 got snubbed for an Oscar, I thank you all for the outpouring of love regarding Terrifier 2’s special makeup fx 🙏🏻🤡 🩸 #terrifier2 #OscarNominations2023

— Damien Leone (@damienleone) January 24, 2023

Horror conventions keep that familiar spirit alive.

Horror also has a rebellious streak. It brims with social commentary, sometimes to a fault, but often serves as a reaction to the status quo. “Terrifier 2” isn’t political, but its wall-to-wall violence and embrace of ‘80s tropes feel like a subtle middle finger to the woke mind virus.

The Black Phone” features a villain stalking children, a target many mainstream screenwriters would avoid.

The horror rulebook, brimming with tropes like Final Girls, is loose enough to allow for creative departures.

New Year, Same Results?

The rest of 2023 promises a mix of new tales and old favorites.

So far, a trio of indie shockers is over-performing at the box office – “Infinity Pool,” Fear” and “Skinamarink.” Two other entries – “Sick” and “There’s Something Wrong with the Children” – prove the genre’s creative streak remains strong.

The sixth “Scream” installment (March 10) is almost guaranteed to be a blockbuster, while M. Night Shyamalan of “Knock at the Cabin” fame knows the genre better than most.

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The Cage-assaince continues with “Renfeld,” which seems like a potent blend of horror and comedy. And any film swiped from Stephen King’s imagination, like the upcoming shocker “The Boogeyman,” gets horror fans’ hearts thumping.

That film already has social media buzz, and it doesn’t hit theaters until June 2. That film, originally bound for Hulu, will hit theaters instead.


Otherwise, expect a flood of remakes (“The Strangers,” “The Exorcist” and “Salem’s Lot”) which will sink or swim based on their creative DNA, not merely name recognition.

The one unsung force in horror’s favor? Western culture is in obvious decline. Major institutions are no longer trustworthy, starting with the mainstream media. Farcical headlines are now the norm, and our court jesters lack the guts to mock them as they should.

Inflation is high, optimism is low and the future looks dim despite our smartphone distractions.

Is it any wonder we’re so eager to gather in the dark for a good, old-fashioned scare?

The post Why Horror Movies Are Having a Moment appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- HiT Guest Contributor
The Masculinity Crisis and the Death of the Hollywood Hero

A quick Google search for 2023’s most anticipated movies brings up some interesting results.

“John Wick: Chapter 4” “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning: Part One” “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” “Creed III” “Extraction 2” “The Equalizer 3”

What do all these movies have in common? Everyone has a strong, male lead character.

The odd thing is that the demand and desire for these movies come at the very same time as Hollywood is doing all in its power to demonize masculinity and kill off traditional Hollywood heroes.

I’m not talking about the Marvel comic book heroes; I mean the classic, James Bond types. Real men, not men in tights who shoot lasers from their eyes.

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In a fantastic essay discussing the emasculation of male actors, Dr. Marcia Sirota, a Toronto-based psychiatrist, describes a “gradual process of psychological and emotional castration” that is draining the “masculine energy” out of Hollywood.

The days of the real American hero are quickly drawing to an end. This is not a bug; it’s a feature. Today, Dr. Sirota opined, the big screen (as well as the small screen) is flooded with “man-boys” who now rival the girls for looks with their “high cheekbones, pouty lips and ultra-long lashes.”

Before, not that long ago, girls wanted to date or marry the men they saw on screen; now, they’re more likely to want to emulate them. The feeling appears to be mutual. In Hollywood, where authentic masculinity is ridiculed and condemned, men have been reduced to emasculated caricatures, pale imitators of traditional masculinity.

Even Brad Pitt, once considered the epitome of masculine energy, can be found wearing a skirt.

#BulletTrain actor Brad Pitt on wearing a skirt: “We’re all gonna die, so let’s mess it up.”

— Variety (@Variety) August 2, 2022

The actors in the abovementioned movies, the likes of Harrison Ford, Tom Cruise, and Denzel Washington, are not just physically imposing individuals capable of commanding the screen.

They’re an endangered species.

They are representations of a time that is quickly coming to an end, a time when there was a place (and a demand) for strong males in Hollywood. The characters the three men play resonate with viewers for deep, psychological reasons. They offer a temporary escape to millions of male (and female) viewers at a time when western society has, to some extent, turned its back on men.

The psychologist Tania Reynolds recently discussed the fact that, in modern-day America, men’s suffering is treated a lot differently to women’s suffering. As Reynolds noted, men are more likely to be homeless, imprisoned and to be college dropouts.

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As Pew research shows, men, especially black men, are more likely to die from drug overdoses than women. Men are also more likely to commit suicide. In the U.S., suicide is now the leading cause of death for males under the age of 50.

Yet, as Reynolds pointed out, society is still unwilling to fully acknowledge men’s suffering. That’s because millions of Americans still subscribe to a vague, empirically unsound notion that we live in a “man’s world.” If that is the case, then why are so many men so miserable?

The false notion that men, regardless of their social status, financial situation or upbringing, experience unparalleled privileges stems from the idea of agency. Men are, on average, perceived to have more agency, to have greater control over their lives.

This belief contributes to the pernicious aggressor-victim dynamic, where men are far more likely to be viewed as perpetrators of various crimes, and women are far more likely to be viewed as faultless victims.

This also helps explain why, in the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, #MeToo quickly morphed into the “believe all women” movement. To believe all women is to, almost automatically, be suspicious of all men.


Although the effects of the #MeToo movement is not quite as profound today as it was a few years ago, the idea that the vast majority of men are decent, law-abiding citizens deserving of sympathy still strikes many as odd, even laughable.

This brings us back to the movies mentioned in the first paragraph and the escapism they offer. These come at a time when masculine energy is being drained from society, not just Hollywood.

Sadly, though, the days of Alpha-fueled escapism are coming to an end, and fast. Tom Cruise, the star of the “Mission: Impossible” franchise, is 60. Denzel Washington, “The Equalizer’s” main man, is 68. Mr. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford), meanwhile, is 80.

These legends can’t go on forever. The same is true for other icons of masculine energy, actors like Samuel L. Jackson (74), Robert De Niro (79) and Al Pacino (82).

So, if you have the opportunity and the desire, enjoy these actors and their work while you still can. Because, in just a few years, Hollywood won’t have any Alpha males left.

John Mac Ghlionn is a psychosocial researcher and contributor to UnHerd, the NY Post and Newsweek.

The post The Masculinity Crisis and the Death of the Hollywood Hero appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
‘You People’ Traffics In Progressive Guilt, Lack of Laughter

Some modern movies wallow in woke bromides. Others have a progressive lecture or two, but otherwise offer straightforward stories.

And then there’s “You People.”

The film doesn’t flirt with woke asides or stop for Important Lessons on Race or the Patriarchy. Woke is built into the film’s DNA, intertwined with every scene.

That’s two strikes against most projects, but “You People” offers a brilliant cast to pull off its talking points. It’s not enough, sadly, even with Eddie Murphy showing he hasn’t lost an ounce of his comic brio.

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Jonah Hill stars as Ezra, a 30-something Jewish man whose dating life has hit a rough spot. No one seems to “get” him, and even the women who seem like prime dating material can’t make his heart flutter.

Then he meets (cute) Amira (Lauren London), a fiercely independent woman who happens to be black. Love blooms in a hurry, and six months later the couple is talking marriage. That’s the worst news possible for Amira’s parents (Murphy, Nia Long), strict Muslims who see Ezra as a horrible match for their daughter.

Ezra’s parents (Julia Louis-Dreyfus, David Duchovny) bleed progressive blue, and they’re delighted to invite a woman of color into their family.

“We’re gonna have brown grandchildren,” Louis-Dreyfus’s character squeals.

Cultures clash and Ezra’s parents behave like the most ignorant liberals on Planet Earth. A prime example? Duchovny’s character can’t stop genuflecting at the altar of the rapper Xzibit. Because he’s black, you see, and so is Amira. Get it? Does anyone actually think like this?

That’s just one of many problems plaguing “You People.”

My first exposure to stand up comedy was a cassette tape of Eddie Murphy’s Delirious.

Now I’m in a movie with him.
What a life.

“You People” out now on Netflix. INDULGE!!!

— Andrew Schulz 👑HEZI (@andrewschulz) January 27, 2023

Louis-Dreyfus’ Shelley never feels like a real person. She’s a comically warped wokester who apparently hasn’t met a black person in her life. She fawns over Amira’s hair and nails, turning tone deaf compliments into offensive riffs.

Is it funny? Not particularly, but co-writers Kenya Barris (who directs) and Hill must have thought it’s fall-down hysterical. Why else would they repeat the comic beat over, and over again?

The other note beaten to death? Ezra is so eager to please his future father in law, Akbar, that he lies through his teeth when he’s with him.

Every. Single. Time.

Big. Embarrassing. Easily provable lies.

Combine these two unfunny plot lines and you’ve essentially sunk the film.

Somehow, Ezra and Amira exude, if not chemistry, the sense that they’re lovers staring down a brutal reality. And, in the eyes of Barris and Hill, interracial marriage seems like “Mission: Impossible” in 2023. Yet every other commercial shows an interracial couple, so we know that’s not accurate.

Every character here, like the movie itself, is progressive to the core. It’s hard to watch people mired in microaggression misery when you’re trying to enjoy a rom-com.

Ezra’s every fiber apologizes for his so-called white privilege. Amira sees racism everywhere, like when she blames it for missing a plum work assignment. People of every race, creed and color miss out on plum assignments all the time.


In one of many cringe-worthy scenes, the couple’s respective families fight over who had it worse – Jews via the Holocaust or black Americans due to slavery.

Those awful chapters in world history are joined by dramatically smaller narratives, part of the progressive mindset that Barris and Hill drill into their story. That includes an early shout out to President Barack Obama and Ezra’s podcaster partner (Sam Jay) explaining that black people can never forgive whites for slavery.

A generous way to process that thought? It’s an homage to “When Harry Met Sally,” and how Harry insists men and women can never be friends if there’s a romantic spark between them.

Sadly, most of the black characters initially dismiss Ezra and his family because of their skin color, bigotry the film frames as casual, almost expected.

The bigger issues plaguing “You People” are easy to spot. It’s hard to develop flesh and blood characters when everyone is a talking point, a progressive op-ed or signifier of a larger cultural complaint.

Other key details are simply missing.

We’re told Ezra is willing to throw away his staid career as a broker to become a professional podcaster, but there’s little proof his talent is worth the risk. We never get to see why Ezra and Amira click, and the film introduces Akbar’s strong Islamic faith (he loves the Rev. Louis Farrakhan!) but that bullet point fades over time.

The biggest sin? The film’s third act requires audiences to forget everything they were told for 90 minutes in order to swallow it.

Barris’ film does offer a briskly paced narrative, and it’s impossible to look away at select points in the story. “You People” is a narrative train wreck, and we’re inclined to stare at disasters.

HiT or Miss: “You People” begins with a strong premise along with some solid laughs. In short order the laughs dry up and the concept hits a thematic iceberg.

The post ‘You People’ Traffics In Progressive Guilt, Lack of Laughter appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto

It’s a classic science fiction trope, one playing out in real time.

A scientist creates a frightening new life form and, in the third act, the monster turns on its creator.

The monster in this analogy? Cancel Culture and its woke tendrils.

The scientist? Mainstream news reporters who cheered on the woke revolution, ignoring conservatives who warned of its pernicious impact on the arts.

One conservative even wrote a book on the subject.

Have reporters, who directly fueled Cancel Culture over the past few years, realized the error of their ways? Perhaps.

Cowardice at Sundance: Why Was ‘Jihad Rehab’ Canceled? – The Atlantic

— Josh Kraushaar (@JoshKraushaar) October 27, 2022

It started late last year at The New York Times and The Atlantic, two reliably liberal outlets. Each covered the Cancel Culture attack on “Jihad Rehab,” a documentary that debuted at last year’s Sundance Film Festival.

“Jihad Rehab,” directed by white filmmaker Meg Smaker, followed a group of Islamic militants going through Saudi Arabia’s rehabilitation center. The film criticized America’s War on Terror policies and offered sympathy to so-called enemy combatants. It refused to sugar-coat their crimes, though.

The movie earned pre-release raves and that Sundance seal of approval. Smaker couldn’t help but dream of what might happen next for her film.

Then a wave of critics swarmed, saying “Jihad Rehab” put its subjects in danger and shared dangerous Arab stereotypes. Even worse? A story set in the Muslim world shouldn’t be told by a white woman.

Sebastian Junger for NR:

Inside the Shameful Cancellation of Jihad Rehab

— Jack Crowe (@jackrcrowe) October 14, 2022

The film got canceled, full stop. Sundance apologized for screening the documentary, and initial supporter Abigail Disney backpedaled furiously. SXSW, an edgy film festival and music showcase, canceled its “Jihad Rehab” screening.

National Review published a stinging piece by filmmaker Sebastian Junger defending Smaker against the woke mob. That’s hardly surprising, given the outlet’s conservative bona fides.

Except its outrage didn’t happen in a vacuum. Both the Times and Atlantic rallied behind “Jihad Rehab in no uncertain terms.

Their combined coverage helped “uncancel” the film, now dubbed “The UnRedacted.” The film has been screened multiple times in recent weeks and may enjoy a traditional release this year.


Variety, a liberal outlet that typically supports Cancel Culture forces, stepped up next. The site shared a provocative story tied to the “Jihad Rehab” kerfuffle, saying the film’s cancellation had a ripple effect on the festival landscape.

Now, no one wanted to program a movie that might inflame the woke mob. The result? Safer film festival selections to steer clear of online controversy. It’s the antithesis of a festival’s purpose, to bring challenging art to the public without worrying about box office results or nasty reviews.

Variety leaned into that reality.

In fact, that quick-to-capitulate reflex underscores a new, unspoken modus operandi in which festivals — once the bastion of provocative, button-pushing fare — are desperate to avoid controversy and the wrath of any identity-focused Twitter mob.

The article allowed Terracino, a gay Latino filmmaker, to complain about his new film’s festival rejections due to its incendiary nature.

“My gay lead character [is initially] transphobic, which is something I wanted to explore — transphobia within the gay community — and they had an issue with that… He says he was also asked: “‘Why does your Latino lead have to bond with a white woman?’ I was really taken aback by that one. Here I am, a gay Latino filmmaker, and I have to answer about bulls*** racial politics?”

Once again, a liberal news outlet not only called out Cancel Culture but framed its impact as detrimental to free expression. It’s the kind of narrative right-leaning sites routinely embrace, like The Daily Wire, The Federalist and Breitbart News.

Mainstream journalists, by comparison, wouldn’t dare flirt with that point of view up until recently. They often take the opposite approach, suggesting these stories, and artists deserved cancellations.

It’s in their tone, their narrative framing.

Recall how the press covered Cancel Culture attacks on Dave Chappelle and Joe Rogan, comedians the mob tried to silence for sharing views considered anathema to the progressive mindset. Reporters sided with the offended parties while showing little empathy for artists trying to share raw opinions and jokes.

The next journalistic shoe to drop remains the most shocking.


The New York Times just published a blistering op-ed from its former Book Editor, Pamela Paul. She marked the three-year anniversary of the Cancel Culture campaign against “American Dirt” with stark regret.

Jeanine Cummins’ novel earned early raves from Stephen King and Oprah Winfrey, and it seemed a new literary sensation was born. That is until one Latina scribe started a woke war against “Dirt.”

What happened next?

Death threats. Press tour cancellations. And a chilling pall over the literary world.

Looking back now, it’s clear that the “American Dirt” debacle of January 2020 was a harbinger, the moment when the publishing world lost its confidence and ceded moral authority to the worst impulses of its detractors … This fear now hangs over every step of a fraught process with questions over who can write what, who should blurb and who can edit permeating what feels like a minefield. Books that would once have been greenlit are now passed over; sensitivity readers are employed on a regular basis; self-censorship is rampant.

It’s everything conservatives and fair-minded liberals like Bill Maher and John Cleese have been warning about for the past five years.

Now, suddenly, it’s fit for print in the New York Times. Did Ben Shapiro sneak into the Old Gray Lady’s editorial department while no one was looking?

Paul adds how novelists stood down at the time, fearing their old work would be revisited and declared problematic … or worse. The same scribes also worried they couldn’t write new stories that “dared traverse the newly reinforced DMZ lines of race, ethnicity, gender and genre.”

It’s clear the liberal press is waking up, finally, to the impact woke culture has on the creative arts. We’re now being told what’s at stake should the Cancel Culture revolution continue unchecked:

The ability to share fresh stories The willingness of artists to reach outside their cultures to tell stories that speak to our collective humanity The power to provoke and offend

None of this is new. What’s fresh, though, is how liberal outlets are suddenly saying it aloud.

Terracino’s final comments to Variety on the implications of the woke revolution are telling.

“I think a lot of artists of color very soon are going to regret this woke ideology.”

The same may be true of the scientists, er, journalists, who gave life to the woke monstrosity.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

The post Liberal Media Wake Up to Horrors of Woke (But Is It Too Late?) appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
Landau’s ‘Normal World’ Challenges Comedic Status Quo

Most comedians steer clear of the woke rules that govern modern life.

Not Dave Landau.

The stand-up comedian and “Louder with Crowder” player finds the funny wherever it may be, from political hypocrisies to Identity Politics run wild.

That free spirit powers “Normal World,” Landau’s bid for sketch comedy fame. The showcase, available on YouTube, serves up a half hour of satirical bits, quasi-horror beats and jokes you won’t hear on “Saturday Night Live.”

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HiT reached out to Landau to learn more about the series, his thoughts on “offensive” comedy and if his politics have changed since teaming with Anthony Cumia and Steven Crowder.

HiT: You’re a touring comedian and member of “Louder with Crowder” — what inspired you to take on a new project like “Normal World?”

Landau: Sketch and film were actually my first loves. I started making sketches when I was around five on my Dad’s Zenith camcorder. They were basically just my favorite skits from ‘SNL’ like John Belushi In Samurai Hotel or Dan Aykroyd as Julia Child bleeding everywhere.

Eventually I discovered in ‘Living Color’ and ‘Kids in the Hall.’ [Sketch comedy] is my favorite medium. Right out of high school I started taking classes at The Second City Detroit chapter as well as The Planet Ant Theatre, and I studied film for a year.

When me, Angela Boggs, and Bryce Olejniczak were trying to come up with a series to produce, we kept coming back to sketch.

HiT: The debut episode has a touch of “Black Mirror,” the irreverence of old “SNL” and even a bit of horror. What’s your vision for the show?

Landau: Matt McClowry, who co-wrote the series, grew up with the same love of comedy that I did. We share that sensibility. We both enjoy dark and direct humor. The fact that we’re really living in a dystopian society now is what we wanted to capture. Everything today is completely insane, and we kind of all just accept it.

It’s great fodder for comedy. The vision, though, belonged to the director Bryce Olejniczak who is a massive talent. He was able to create the “Normal World” far better than we could have even imagined. Ken Kuykendall was also an editor on the project and made every sketch look next level.

Everyone who helped on it went above and beyond because we all had fun collaborating on the project. We do want the show to get picked up somewhere so, we figured the best way to show everyone what we’re capable of producing, was by actually making it.

HiT: Most mainstream comedians steer clear of Identity Politics, the woke revolution and related topics. You don’t, obviously. What’s your approach with this material, and do you fear offending select audiences while writing/performing comedy?

Landau: No. I think when comedy wants to “own the left” it’s just as bad as what ‘SNL’ has become. It’s an echo chamber and it’s boring. I don’t worry about offending anyone because we’re not coming from a place that is meant to be mean.

We’re happy to insult all sides of the political sphere. Comedy needs to have an edge and some sense of danger for me to enjoy it. If you’re just pandering to an audience, you’re not actually doing comedy.

My approach is to just do what I find funny. It’s 2023, people will be offended anyway, so why write comedy around trying to guess what will upset people most and then leaving it out?


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A post shared by Dave Landau (@dave.landau)

HiT: You’re looking for a platform to embrace the show and share it with the public. Do you have any ideal landing spots? Could YouTube remain its hope for the foreseeable future?

Landau: We’re just releasing the first episode for now so only time will tell. I just want to release the whole series with someone who gets us.

HiT: You’ve spent time with both Anthony Cumia and Steven Crowder, both unabashedly to the Right. You’ve been center Left in the past … do you even label your views at this point, or have you drifted to the Right by default as the progressives shifted further Left, a la Adam Carolla?

Landau: I don’t think my politics have changed much, but the landscape has for sure. Anyone on the far left seems to think I’m hard right, and anyone on the far right seems to think I’m too left.

I don’t really believe in either side. At least not the extremes. They go so far away from each that they actually circle back and touch tips in the men’s room. They become the exact same thing. People yelling about how only their point should be heard and respected.


I don’t believe for a minute that politicians give a s*** about me, and I know that sounds bleak but I’ve never been proved otherwise. We pay taxes so “our representatives” can further divide us. It makes them rich and bleeds us all dry.

HiT: This site routinely covers comedians whose work is censored, deplatformed or demonitized by Big Tech … have you dealt with that recently, and are you hopeful this trend will ease in the coming months?

Landau: I’ve dealt with it a lot, and the problem is the censorship always seems to be over an idea that’s not mainstream or a joke taken too literally or out of context. Comedy seems to be weaponized against people, and it truly exists for the opposite reason.

Comedy is a breath of fresh air when everything seems too stressful, ridiculous or difficult, hence “Normal World”

The post Landau’s ‘Normal World’ Challenges Comedic Status Quo appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
Joe Rogan Skewers CNN’s ‘Mostly Peaceful’ Propaganda’

It’s one of the most significant memes in recent memory.

A reporter for CNN, currently in a ratings free fall, called 2020’s violent protests in Kenosha, Wisc. “fiery but mostly peaceful” while a roaring blaze burned behind him.

— Lauren Chen (@TheLaurenChen) January 22, 2023

The laughable commentary from Omar Jimenez launched a thousand memes, and deservedly so.

You’d think an army of media fact checkers, along with The Poynter Institute, might come down hard on CNN’s laughable coverage. A quick Google search on the subject revealed more interest in capturing the root causes of the protests and fears of using loaded language more than the cartoonish coverage.

Leave it to Joe Rogan to pick up the media slack. Again.

Rogan laughed at CNN’s recent “mostly peaceful” spin, this time aimed at a protracted Antifa attack following a shootout that left a police officer wounded and one of their own dead.

The violent group called for a day of rage to protest the death, and the anti-free speech movement delivered.

That led a CNN panelist to spin the violence. Hard.

Despite scenes of shattered buildings & a fire from an explosion, MSM has again sought to downplay the violence of the far-left attack in Atlanta. @CNN interviewed @DavidPeisner, a friend of the deceased gunman who is helping fundraise on his behalf.

— Andy Ngô 🏳️‍🌈 (@MrAndyNgo) January 23, 2023

The Post Millennial captured the mayhem.

Footage from the riots shows the Atlanta Police Foundation being smashed, local businesses being vandalized, and police cars being set on fire.

Rogan, along with guest Adam Curry, wasn’t having CNN’s lies, and it’s clear they knew it wasn’t the first time the far-Left network attempted a stunt like this.

“You’re willing to overlook some awful s— on your side, and you’re willing to exaggerate some s— on the other side,” he said, adding, “You’re not the propaganda department. You can’t define things in a way to calm people down. That’s not what your f—ing job is. You’re bulls—ing people. You’re acting as a propagandist. It’s not mostly peaceful when a car’s on fire.”, which reported on Rogan’s critique but still felt uneasy doing so, referred to his comments as a “rant” three times.


The biggest irony? Antifa’s violence took place in Atlanta, the city CNN calls home.

“You have to f—ing pretend that these people lighting churches on fire aren’t f—ing a–holes. These people lighting schools on fire, lighting courthouses on fire.”

Rogan, like fellow podcaster Adam Carolla, is a relentless critic of the mainstream media. It’s one of many reasons the MMA announcer has built a massive following for his Spotify showcase.

He even corrects his mistakes on air. We’re still waiting for every major media outlet’s mea culpa for the Russian collusion coverage.

When reporters aren’t willing to share the truth, audiences seek out alternative voices. Even if it’s a burly stand-up comic who cracks wise for a living.

The post Joe Rogan Skewers CNN’s ‘Mostly Peaceful’ Propaganda’ appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
What Does Robert Redford Have to Say About Sundance’s ‘Loyalty Oath?’

Robert Redford is more than one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

The “Out of Africa” actor created the nation’s most impactful film festival in 1978, albeit under a different name initially, to support indie artists.

The Sundance Film Festival, that moniker became official in 1991, has only grown since then. The Park City, Utah event has helped the careers of future stars like Steven Soderbergh, Elizabeth Olsen, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael B. Jordan, Quentin Tarantino and more.

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Now, any film with the Sundance imprimatur boasts an advantage over the competition.

And, over the years, Redford has lent his gravitas to ensure its growth. Yet the iconic star, now 86, isn’t as vocal as he once was on all things Sundance.

He announced he was retiring from acting in 2018 but immediately backpedaled on the decision. He made an appearance in “Avengers: Endgame” a year later. At that time he decided to step back from his public work on behalf of the Sundance Film Festival. The event no longer needs his direct support he said, proving to be a self-sustaining entity.

Surely he follows the Hollywood trades, though, and someone must have informed him about both the festival’s loss of nerve and its “loyalty oath” policy.

Why Film Festivals Are Steering Clear of Controversial Movies

— Variety (@Variety) January 18, 2023

The former refers to a Variety report showing how film festivals now steer clear of problematic films, worried that the social media backlash may be too intense. Sundance’s disgraceful treatment of last year’s “Jihad Rehab” documentary proved a key reason festivals shy away from controversy.

The festival screened the provocative story of accused terrorists trying to re-enter society, and then apologized for sharing the film after far-Left critics savaged it on spurious grounds.

Yet Redford didn’t say a public word about that disgraceful chapter in Sundance history.

Now, he’s equally quiet about a policy dubbed the “loyalty oath” at this year’s event. The Wall Street Journal shared how anyone who attends Sundance, either in-person or virtually, must sign a pledge demanding they behave in strict fashion lest they are banned from any Sundance-related events.

The festival even offers a snitch-style line where people can tell on alleged rule breakers.

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Redford hasn’t had an acting gig since his MCU appearance. He has two producer credits on 2022 projects, including “Disbelief,” a documentary about mortality.

It’s unknown if any health woes prevent him from speaking at this point, although there’s no official word regarding his well being. He may be enjoying a richly deserved retirement.

It’s still odd that he hasn’t shared his opinion on the degradation of his beloved festival.

“I wanted to able to do projects that were different than the run of the mill,” Redford said nine years ago in an interview tied to the festival. “That’s how [Sundance] started.”

That’s no longer how Sundance operates. It’s about the fear of saying something provocative or embracing stories that might go against progressive groupthink.

Redford’s Hollywood legacy is secure given legendary films like “The Sting,” “All the President’s Men” and, of course, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

His signature festival’s legacy, alas, isn’t so certain.

The post What Does Robert Redford Have to Say About Sundance’s ‘Loyalty Oath?’ appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
Wanda Sykes Delivers Master Class in Biden Protection

President Joe Biden put late night comedians in a bind this month.

The 80-year-old leader, who routinely avoids tough questions from the press, got caught with classified documents stashed in multiple spots, some dating back to his Senate days.

A few valuable documents ended up in his Delaware garage mere feet from his treasured ’67 Corvette.

Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel and other far-Left figures had to mention the scandal in some capacity. They took turns diminishing the matter, evoking Biden’s advanced age and circling back to President Donald Trump’s docu-scandal as a distraction.

Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

The newest kid on the block, Wanda Sykes, served up a master class in the Biden protection racket, shaming her established peers in the process.

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Sykes, the latest guest host at “The Daily Show,” suggested she’s going to get tough on Biden while bringing up the subject.

“I don’t know how your 2023 has been going, but it has not been going well for President Joe Biden,” she began. Her mood quickly shifted from somber to light.

“At this point, the FBI is just decluttering his house for him,” she cracked (a genuinely funny line). “This list of spies does not spark joy.” Then, Sykes segued to “spin mode,” assuring her audience there’s nothing to see here. She literally said as much.

“Honestly, this doesn’t bother me at all,” she said, prepping the only acceptable way to frame Biden jokes for propaganda comedians.

He’s old.

Never mind that Biden shakes hands with invisible people, forgot the name of the woman he sang “Happy Birthday” to or routinely reads teleprompter cues as part of his speeches.

Tell that to Sykes.

“The man has been in public office for 238 years. I bet you most of the s*** he has isn’t even classified anymore. You read his notes, and it’s like, ‘keep an eye on this Hitler guy.’ It’s just history now,” she said.

Now, for the effortless shift from Biden to Team GOP.

“They’re teaching this stuff in schools … well, not in Florida,” she said, alluding to the Fake News reports that Gov. Ron DeSantis is preventing valuable information from being shared in Sunshine State classrooms, like black history and gay rights.

It’s a tour de force of progressive late night high jinks. Sykes’ self-titled late night show only lasted one season, but it’s clear she learned a thing or two from the experience.

Late night “comedians” like Stephen Colbert are simply abusing the social media cycle at this point.

1) Say something overtly political which sparks clapter among a targeted audience.
2) Trend on Twitter
3) Rinse and repeat

Colbert hasn’t been funny for years.

— Ian Haworth (@ighaworth) December 17, 2021

She had one more ace up her sleeve, though, thanks to her curious career track.

Before becoming a stand-up comic, Sykes worked at the NSA for seven years. She even had a security clearance during her time with the agency.

“I’m sitting here, thinking, ‘damn … what’s in my garage?” she said. “I put that back, right?” Here’s betting Stephen Colbert raised a glass to that maneuver.

Finally, Sykes struck a playful tone on the scandal.

“In Biden’s defense, at least he is cooperating with the FBI searches,” she added, pivoting effortlessly to the Trump document matter. “He’s been so cooperative, is he hoping [the FBI] do work around the house for him? ‘You know, fellas, I think I have some documents in the gutter. You might have to clear the leaves out first.'”

Can we get a fact check, please?

Sykes may not have the “The Daily Show” gig for long. Other liberal comics are queued up next, and Comedy Central may choose someone else to replace the low-rated Trevor Noah, who left the show late last year.

To her credit, Sykes displayed a near-perfect ability to protect Democrats during her trial run.

The post Wanda Sykes Delivers Master Class in Biden Protection appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
‘You People’ Casts Eddie Murphy as Farrakhan Apologist

Talk about problematic.

The culture clash comedy “You People,” debuting Jan. 27 on Netflix, features a mixed-race couple facing friction from their respective families.

Jonah Hill plays a white 30-something podcaster who meets the woman of his dreams (Lauren London), and she happens to be black. Cue “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”-style misunderstandings with both clans.

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The comedy, co-written by Hill and “Black-ish” creator Kenya Barris (who directs), casts Eddie Murphy as London’s strict Muslim father.

The character’s faith adds a complication to the story in ways that go beyond culture clashes. The trailer shows Murphy declaring his affection for the Rev. Louis Farrakhan.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who plays Hill’s Jewish mother, offers a stinging retort after hearing of the patriarch’s affection for the Black Muslim leader:

“I’m familiar with what he said about the Jews,” she snaps.

The spiritual leader is both beloved by some and acknowledged by most as a virulent anti-Semite. It’s hardly up for debate, given what he’s said over the years. The following is courtesy of the Anti-Defamation League:

“Do you know that many of us who go to Hollywood seeking a chance, we have to submit to anal sex and all kids of debauchery, and they give you a little part? The couch where you have to sit, it’s called the ‘casting couch.’ That’s Jewish power.” — Speech at Mosque Maryam, Chicago, Illinois, 5/27/18

“You and I are going to have to learn to distinguish between the righteous Jew and the Satanic Jews who have infected the whole world with poison and deceit.” — Speech at Mosque Maryam, Chicago, Illinois, 5/27/18

“The Jewish media has normalized sexual degeneracy, profanity, and all kinds of sin.” — The Time and What Must Be Done, Part 20: Making Satan Known, 5/25/13

That’s just a sample.

This isn’t the case of a phrase or two being taken out of context. It’s part of a long-standing trend of Farrakhan comments, and it should make audiences wary of Murphy’s character. Yet we know it’s still Eddie Murphy on screen, and for all his flaws we expect he’ll come to embrace Hill’s character by the third act.

Yet the very same woke minds, a subset which includes Hill and Barris, often reject certain character traits and beats due to their problematic nature. Recall the fury faced by fact-based stories of hardened racists who learned the error of their ways?

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What about the suggestion that we can no longer embrace “Animal House” because John Belushi’s Bluto sneaks a peek at the local sorority house?

Which is it?

Can storytellers share rich, flawed characters for our consideration? Or should screenwriters carefully vet the figures we see based on wavering woke standards?

Hit men with a heart of gold? Acceptable! “Hangover”-style man-children who peep at women and otherwise behave badly? Forbidden!

Reviews for “You People” have not been kind, although audiences have yet to weigh in en masse. The film shows the value of storytelling without strings, of being able to play a broad array of characters without insisting they conform to select value systems.

Hill owes his career to playing characters who shouldn’t be role models for any self-respecting soul. He’d be better served by both acknowledging that reality and writing movies that reflect reality, not an imagined version of it.

The post ‘You People’ Casts Eddie Murphy as Farrakhan Apologist appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
‘Shotgun Wedding’ Finds Romance in the Craziest Places

The list of reasons why Jennifer Lopez’s “Shotgun Wedding” should stink is considerable.

The project has been kicking around for some time, with name actors (Ryan Reynolds, Armie Hammer) flirting with the script before Josh Duhamel came aboard.

Hollywood is still unsure how to make an old-school rom-com these days, although recent films like “Ticket to Paradise” and “I Want You Back” suggest the genre is ripe for a comeback.

And the story’s plot, a wedding ceremony gets hijacked by terrorists, reeks of flop sweat.

“Shotgun Wedding” bullies past all of the above, proving the rom-com template can survive almost anything. It helps to have Stifler’s mom, scene-stealer Jennifer Coolidge, on hand.

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Lopez and Duhamel star as Darcy and Tom, lovebirds gathering in the Philippines for their big wedding. He’s a control freak, organizing every last detail of the wedding. She’s busy keeping the peace between her squabbling parents.

Their big day is interrupted by machine gun-wielding terrorists eager to snag some cash from Darcy’s rich Dad (Cheech Marin).

Can this marriage actually happen? Will the wedding party live to see tomorrow?

The “dumb” factor sinks more than a few fluffy rom-coms. “Shotgun Wedding” avoids that fate early on. The laughs are gentle, the bond between Darcy and Tom feels real enough and the supporting players add warmth and personality.


Sonia Braga seethes as Darcy’s mom, still bitter over her ex shacking up with a much younger woman (D’Arcy Carden). Tom’s daffy mom (Coolidge) gets every social cue wrong, as only the “White Lotus” star can.

And then there’s Sean (Lenny Kravitz), Darcy’s handsome ex whose presence gets on Tom’s last nerve. Can you blame him?

It’s an overstuffed recipe for romance and danger, and the film packs plenty of the latter. These terrorists mean business … until they don’t. The film can’t push the danger element too much, lest it breaks free from the rom-com template.

That means this “Wedding” has a tonal problem, and it never fully resolves itself. One minute we’re chortling at Coolidge saying something silly, the next the couple in question is dodging machine gun fire.

Harry and Sally never had to duck and cover during their screen romance.


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Director Jason Moore of “Pitch Perfect” fame handles the various elements as best as anyone could. The action beats are surprisingly taut, and Moore never steps on a laugh along the way.

Lopez and Duhamel aren’t a classic screen couple, but their bickering has a purpose. Marriage is hard, and commitment means making yourself as vulnerable as possible.

That’s scary by itself, let alone knowing a team of terrorists is lurking around the corner.

Duhamel’s career is no match for what Lopez has built over the years, but the actor’s good looks distract from his casual charm. He’s perfect for breezy rom-coms, but Hollywood hasn’t given him projects worthy of his skill set.

His work in 2004’s “Win a Date with Ted Hamilton!” should have opened that door long ago.

Duhamel’s presence, and a woke-free story, make “Shotgun Wedding” a flawed but frivolous date night alternative.

HiT or Miss: “Shotgun Wedding” should be a mess, but the charismatic leads and a dollop of sly cracks from Jennifer Coolidge keep the rom-com on track.

The post ‘Shotgun Wedding’ Finds Romance in the Craziest Places appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto

A single Tweet can have real-world repercussions.

Just ask Justine Sacco, whose career collapsed after one Africa-related joke that went horribly wrong.

So can a blog post.

Mike Baron @BloodyRedBaron visits us to talk about Private American, Nexus, the Punisher, Thin Blue Line, and his lawsuit against the @dailykos!

— AACONS (@AACONS) January 22, 2023

Mike Baron, a veteran comic book writer and novelist, found that out after he was personally targeted by a Daily Kos post. Baron is the author of “Private American” and “Thin Blue Line,” graphic novels that tell stories that defy the progressive narrative.

“Private American” follows a Cuban-American fighting the drug cartels along the U.S./Mexican border. “Thin Blue Line” serves up a day in the life of a female cop trying to protect the mayor from hordes of far-Left protesters.

A Daily Kos blog post slammed both titles as racist without having read either. The post in question, which won’t be linked here but can be found easily via a Google search, can’t site actual racism in either tome but manufactures outrage with assumptions and leaps of logic.

The post may have done its job, though.

Shortly after it went live both Kickstarter and Crowdfundr pulled the title’s campaigns from their sites.  That came on the heels of social media giants punishing the respective accounts to promote the titles.

BANNED: Twitter Suspends Mike Baron’s ‘Private American’ Account

— Bounding Into Comics (@BoundingComics) October 18, 2022

Like other Big Tech censorship campaigns, the parties in question couldn’t point to any specific ways the books clashed with their community guidelines. It’s likely the Daily Kos post was enough “evidence” to censor them, or Leftists used the post as a cudgel against the titles.

Now, Baron is punching back.

He’s started a new crowdfunding campaign, at freedom-friendlier GoFundMe, to pay for his lawsuit against Daily Kos and other, unmentioned parties.

Their false allegations of ‘racism’ and ‘bigotry’ were part of an organized effort by an indie comic publisher to cancel our Kickstarter and Crowdfundr fundraising campaigns where we had been accepting pre-orders from Mike’s readers for his latest graphic novel Private American.

The campaign quickly raised most of its goal amount (90 percent) since going live roughly a week ago.

This reporter read “Thin Blue Line” from cover to cover (“Private American” isn’t available yet). The graphic novel isn’t racist, bigoted or offensive in any way. It’s a story that mocks violent, far-Left protests and the parties that enable them.

That’s it.

The majority of the story’s villains are white.

The Eisner Award-winning Baron told Fox News that the opening pages of “Private American” find its vigilante hero protecting a Mexican migrant from a drug cartel member.


Big Tech platforms find inconvenient stories like “Thin Blue Line” unacceptable, and they have the power to limit their reach (if not strangle their finances). It’s part of a larger, frightening trend across western culture in the 21st century.

Critics of pandemic restrictions found their voices silenced by the media and Big Tech. Comedians who tell jokes that target the “wrong” politicians or causes similarly are muted by digital giants.

Comic book artists who refuse to be “allies” to select causes struggle to find an audience, even when they blaze an independent trail in doing so.

Publishing giants like Marvel and D.C. Comics would never touch a story like “Private American.” Yet Baron and his collaborators still struggle to get their stories out.

Sadly, no mainstream comic book artists have rallied to Baron’s side to this reporter’s knowledge. His free speech rights matter, but because he tells stories that aren’t woke or progressive, artists who might otherwise have his back remain silent.

The post Mike Baron Fights Back, Plans Suit Against Daily Kos (and More) appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
Bill Maher: ‘Hollywood Is a Bunch of F***ing Cowards’

Sean Penn may be the most notorious liberal in Hollywood.

Yes, stars like Amy Schumer, Mark Ruffalo and Natalie Portman sing from the progressive hymnal, but Penn has been doing it for decades. He famously opposed the Iraq War, among other left-of-center causes, but his ties to Hugo Chavez alone make him a cultural warrior for the Left.

Yet Penn teamed with Bill Maher to slam the woke scourge on the latest episode of “Club Random.” The “Mystic River” actor didn’t do it willingly, but when prodded by Maher he offered several reasons to fear the woke revolution.

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One reason proved personal for Penn. He said his 2009 Oscar night win for “Milk” wouldn’t be possible today.


Penn is straight, and only gay actors would be allowed to portray LGBTQ icon Harvey Milk today.

For the uninitiated, “Club Random” isn’t as politically charged as Maher’s “Real Time” showcase on HBO. The 67-year-old tries to reach across the aisle on the podcast, finding commonalities and steering away from hot-button disagreements when possible.

And, for anyone listening to the Maher-Penn exchange, it’s clear their off-screen friendship is old and secure.


Penn and Maher hit on a crush of cultural issues, often agreeing to disagree in areas where they differed. That proved true when Maher pressed Penn on his affection for Chavez, the late Venezuelan strongman.

Penn struggled mightily to frame his friendship with the late dictator.

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The pair found common ground by bemoaning how many classic films couldn’t be made today thanks to the new woke climate. Penn brought up the 1975 classic “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” and Maher joked any possible remake would star Amy Schumer in the Jack Nicholson role.

(Both praised Schumer subsequently)

They also feted unwoke comics like Dave Chappelle and Bill Burr, who Penn noted helped him get through the pandemic lockdowns.

“It was a sanity keeper to the degree I can keep my sanity,” Penn said. “I’m not even in a world where I have to agree or disagree. I just have to see authenticity.”

“At some point, that movement veered into authoritarianism,” Maher said of woke’s transformation from old-fashioned liberalism to restricting core freedoms.

“I’ve got news for the woke … you can’t find that thought when you’re 150 meters from the Russians … you are not going to remember all the pronouns,” Penn said.


Maher suggested Penn should be more vocal, more often, on woke overreach given his gravitas within Hollywood.

Maher said if a two-time Oscar winner did so, someone from the Left to boot, it could change the culture.

“You walk the walk,” Maher said of Penn, alluding to the actor’s ability to visit hot spots, like treks to Haiti and Ukraine, over the years. “You’re uniquely qualified to call out the woke. It’s almost a responsibility.”

BOB HONEY WHO JUST DO STUFF: Noted actor and director Penn tries his hand at fiction and pulls it off reasonably well. There’s not much clef in Penn’s debut roman, although his protagonist, the titular Bob Honey, does log a little time visiting New…

— J.S. Sterling (@JSSterlingBooks) March 30, 2018

Penn segued to a press tour for his recent novel, “Bob Honey Who Just Does Stuff,” and protesters decried its #MeToo movement critiques. The actor appeared at a university as part of that tour and told students why one of his career highlights might not be possible anymore.

His Best Actor honors for 2008’s “Milk.”

“Were that film made today I couldn’t play that part,” he said.

The pair lingered on the subject of higher learning, a topic Maher routinely visits on his HBO show.

“Colleges are supposed to be about scholars and free speech and opening your mind. Now, it’s about, ‘you can’t say this, how dare you?’” Maher noted.

“Not only that, it’s, ‘you can’t teach at this high a level, how dare you,’” Penn said, referring to a New York University professor fired for making a course too difficult.

Later, the actor politely demurred on Maher’s call for him to speak up more on the issue, suggesting he lacked that cultural cache to make a difference.

Maher and Penn wrapped their wide-ranging chat by defending Woody Allen against accusations he molested his then-child, Dylan Farrow, when she was just a girl. They detailed the reasons why Allen is likely innocent of the charges and chastised actors who turned on Allen after years of begging for roles in his movies.

“Hollywood is a bunch of f***ing cowards,” Maher said before softening his tone. “I love ‘em. I love show business… the default setting for anyone in show business is a complete idiot … especially actors”

The post Bill Maher: ‘Hollywood Is a Bunch of F***ing Cowards’ appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
How Hollywood Helped Create, and Destroy, Time’s Up

Producer Harvey Weinstein’s fall from grace handed Hollywood a golden opportunity.

Stars who preferred virtue signaling to hard work could now do something powerful, and necessary, for the culture.

Bring other Harvey Weinsteins to justice. And, as we learned in the weeks following Weinstein’s downfall, Hollywood is chock full of unsavory types.

And, sadly, so is the culture at large.

That’s why Time’s Up, which officially shuttered days ago, began in the first place. The nonprofit, sparked by lurid accusations against Weinstein, vowed to prevent other predators from getting away with their crimes. And, hopefully, send a message to men eager to prey on the fairer sex.

You’re next.

Actresses like Kerry Washington, Ashley Judd and Reese Witherspoon rallied to a cause that spread far beyond Tinsel Town. They helped pour millions into the startup, but some went a step further.

Witherspoon, Natalie Portman, Laura Dern, Alyssa Milano, Amy Schumer, Julianne Moore, Brie Larson, Jessica Chastain and Tessa Thompson joined its advisory board, eager to take a more hands-on approach to the group’s work.

Except those famous folks stood down when it mattered most.

YouTube Video

Time’s Up clammed up when Tara Reade accused then-presidential candidate Joe Biden in 2020 of sexually assaulting her decades earlier. Reade offered far more details of the alleged attack than other infamous accusers, but Time’s Up refused to rally to her cause.

The group also stayed low when two black women accused Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault.

They weren’t alone, though.

Not only did Hollywood, Inc. ignore both high-profile cases Time’s Up celebrity members did nothing behind the scenes to make the group step in on the accusers’ behalf.

Why? It’s obvious.


Biden and Fairfax are Democrats. Time’s Up repeatedly took public stands against President Donald Trump, a Republican. The organization also demanded Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh step down in 2018 due to flimsy allegations against his character.

Time’s Up, in just a short time, became another wing of the Democratic Party. Sexual abusers are Republicans, Democrats and independents. Their victims also span the political spectrum.

By turning the group into a partisan outfit, the Time’s Up team damaged its own cause. That lead to the betrayal that sunk it, once and for all.

YouTube Video

The group’s leadership initially offered a tepid statement on sexual accusations leveled at Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2019. Its leaders later collaborated with the New York Democrat on ways to defend him against those charges.

It’s hard to script a more shocking betrayal of the group’s mission.

This reporter reached out to several Time’s Up celebrities to get their take on the reversal. Were they outraged by the group’s ties to Cuomo? Had they done what they could behind the scenes to fight that partnership?

None responded to my queries.

Hollywood stars likely knew about Weinstein’s predatory behavior for decades but stayed silent. Years later, starlets refused to hold Time’s Up accountable for an unacceptable mission creep.

Time’s Up — the anti-harassment organization that formed five years ago in the midst of the #MeToo movement — is ceasing operations at the end of January.

— Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) January 23, 2023

The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund will continue, but the group’s namesake is no more. The Time’s up brand, though, will be forever tarnished by partisanship and silence.

And Hollywood has only itself to blame.

The post How Hollywood Helped Create, and Destroy, Time’s Up appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Anthony Whyte
Booster Gold Reaction: DC Slate Announcement
Booster Gold HBO Max

Booster Gold is the greatest hero the world has never known. I notice the reaction people have. I am a huge fan of this character and I am SICK and TIRED of the lack of support for this awesome character. Check out the announcement for the new Booster Gold HBO ... [Read More]

The post Booster Gold Reaction: DC Slate Announcement appeared first on The Movie Blog.

- Elliot Hopper
Examining the Regulatory Framework Around Collateral Assignment

Collateral assignment is a type of financial transaction in which a borrower pledges an asset, such as a car or house, as security for a loan. The asset is then held by the lender until the loan is paid off. The regulatory framework surrounding collateral assignment is designed to protect ... [Read More]

The post Examining the Regulatory Framework Around Collateral Assignment appeared first on The Movie Blog.

- Elliot Hopper
Best Ways To Make And Boost YouTube Videos

YouTube is evolving as days go by. Today, people use YouTube to post their content and promote their brands to acquire more popularity across the globe. As a YouTuber, the main goal is to gain more views, subscribers, and likes for every video you post. Acquiring views and likes can ... [Read More]

The post Best Ways To Make And Boost YouTube Videos appeared first on The Movie Blog.

- Emmanuel "E-Man" Noisette
Chicago: ANT-MAN & THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA Advance Screening Giveaway

Would you like to see ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA, starring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, and Jonathan Majors? Would you like to see it early and free? Enter for the chance to grab a free pass to the advanced screening of ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA. Passes are given on ... [Read More]

The post Chicago: ANT-MAN & THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA Advance Screening Giveaway appeared first on The Movie Blog.

- Anthony Whyte
James Gunn Reacts: What About a Black Superhero DCU Movie?
Black Superhero Movie

Who will make history and be the first Black superhero movie of James Gunn’s new DCU? The DC Studios boss announced exciting new details about Chapter 1 of the new DCU slate titled Gods and Monsters. The 10 new projects adapting DC Comics characters, including Batman, Superman, and more, were ... [Read More]

The post James Gunn Reacts: What About a Black Superhero DCU Movie? appeared first on The Movie Blog.

- Anthony Whyte
Peter Safran Will Discuss Ezra’s The Flash At A Later Date
ezra miller

DC Studios Co-CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran are hard at work promoting the NEW DCU. The slate announcement yesterday covers everything from Batman to Superman and Beyond. James Gunn took time out of his announcement video to discuss some of the pre-existing DC projects coming out this year. One ... [Read More]

The post Peter Safran Will Discuss Ezra’s The Flash At A Later Date appeared first on The Movie Blog.

- Elliot Hopper
Top Online Loans For Those With Bad Credit For The Holidays In 2023: Guaranteed Approval No Credit Check

The place you are in is right if you’re looking for guaranteed acceptance and no credit check bad credit loans. This post will showcase companies that offer numerous options to borrowers with bad credit. Whether you are buying for the holidays or another reason, you can stop within one business ... [Read More]

The post Top Online Loans For Those With Bad Credit For The Holidays In 2023: Guaranteed Approval No Credit Check appeared first on The Movie Blog.

- Anthony Whyte
Bad Boys 4 Announced By Will and Martin
Bad Boys 4

The Baaad Boooys are back! Yes, that’s right Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are returning for Bad Boys 4! Will Smith and Martin Lawrence first appear as Detectives Mike Lowry and Marcus Burnett in the 1997 film Bad Boys directed by Michael Bay.  That movie was a hit at the ... [Read More]

The post Bad Boys 4 Announced By Will and Martin appeared first on The Movie Blog.

- Anthony Whyte
“Booster Gold” Coming To HBO MAX
Booster Gold HBO Max

Booster Gold fans stand up! James Gunn is announcing the release of a TV series as part of the new DCU slate coming from DC Studios. While Booster Gold isn’t a household name he does have a devoted fanbase to those who read his stories. Booster Gold is a character ... [Read More]

The post “Booster Gold” Coming To HBO MAX appeared first on The Movie Blog.

- Anthony Whyte
“The Brave and the Bold” Live Action Batman Movie Announced
The Brave And The Bold James Gunn DC Studios

Batman is getting a new movie everyone! What? No surprise? Okay, well, The Brave and Bold will be the official Batman for the main DCU. it was announced today that we are getting several live-action Batman movies including the Matt Reeves sequel for The Batman but we’re getting a new ... [Read More]

The post “The Brave and the Bold” Live Action Batman Movie Announced appeared first on The Movie Blog.

- Anthony Whyte
Superman: Legacy Coming To Theaters July 11 2025
Superman Legacy James Gunn

Superman Legacy is finally being announced for the new DCU slate of projects coming from DC Studios. Co-CEO James Gunn makes the announcement today as part of a presentation of projects in development at Warner Bros for release in 2025! Yes, it actually has a release date! It’s the only ... [Read More]

The post Superman: Legacy Coming To Theaters July 11 2025 appeared first on The Movie Blog.

- Anthony Whyte
DC’s “Paradise Lost” Is Their Game of Thrones Coming to HBO MAX
Paradise Lost HBO Max James Gunn

Paradise Lost is a new DC Studios project coming to HBO Max as part of the Gods and Monsters chapter of the new DCU. James Gunn is announcing the new project as a story that will take place on Themiscyra also known as Paradise Island. Variety Reports the following: This ... [Read More]

The post DC’s “Paradise Lost” Is Their Game of Thrones Coming to HBO MAX appeared first on The Movie Blog.

- gareth

Fans and collectors should love this news.

Blaze Entertainment is delighted to announce the first two collections of the 2023 Evercade Cartridge line-up.

Releasing in April 2023, Evecade fans can revisit more classic games close to their hearts with THEC64 Collection 2 and Toaplan Arcade 2 Collections.

THEC64 Collection 2 is the sequel to 2022’s first home computer collection from Evercade. It was the first time that these games were available to be played on portable devices legally, using the Evercade Handheld and recently released Evercade EXP, and is one of Evercade’s most internationally popular cartridges.

This second collection continues the library of with well-rememberd titles including California Games, World Games, Uridium, Pitstop II and more. 14 games in total are included and are selected/modified to be able to be played with ease and convenience on an Evercade device – eliminating as much use as possible of a virtual keyboard. The collection comes with a full colour manual with the physical cartridge that details all control schemes.

Toaplan Arcade 2 brings 7 more arcade greats from the legendary arcade developer. As well their famous shooter titles, Toaplan also created games across other genres including racing. Highlighted here along side such classics as Hellfire, Fire Shark and Twin Hawk are Rally Bike (a motorbike racing game) and Wardner, an early platformer for Toaplan. The collection also includes bonus interviews with Toaplan staff in the manual, and each vertically scrolling game is playable using Evercade EXP’s TATE mode functionality


Both collections will be available to pre-order from February 17th, 2023, ahead of their release on April 28th, 2023. Evercade cartridges RRP is £17.99|$19.99|€19.99 per cartridge collection. You can find your closest retailer at


All collections are playable on Evercade devices, including the Evercade VS and recently released Evercade EXP. The Evercade EXP also comes with bonus content built into the device. 18 Capcom games are included without the need for installation, code redemption or cartridge! 14 arcade greats and 4 home console classics can now go with you anywhere you want to go! A full colour manu
- gareth

For my segment this week on BJ Shea’s Geek Nation On KISW FM; Joey and I discuss rumors about two pending Far Cry games, E3 and Summer Game Fest, and Star Wars: Jedi Survivor.


BJ, Vicky and Joey discuss The Last of Us ep.2, Gareth Von Kallenbach from joins us to talk about upcoming Farcry games, E3 rumors, and Jedi Survivor news! Joey and BJ talk His Dark Materials, and the Geek Sheet with Vicky B!

- Genevieve Mc Bride

Great news for aspiring musicians.

The Screen Scoring Department at Berklee College of Music and EA Music have announced a partnership that will enable greater equity in the entertainment industry and world of screen scoring. The EA/Berklee Next Gen Scholarship will, each semester, offer one qualified woman or non-cisgender composer studying in the Screen Scoring Department the chance to not only receive a financial scholarship but the opportunity to be mentored by an industry-leading team and learn how they compose, orchestrate and arrange an original score for an EA video game title.  “This is an exciting moment for the Screen Scoring Department and Berklee as a whole,” said Sean McMahon, department chair. “We are constantly striving to provide the best possible education for our students to attain personal and professional success. With this scholarship and mentorship program, Berklee and EA Music will collaborate on a vital initiative that allows the selected women to succeed, learn, and enter the world of composing with support from one of the most forward-thinking companies in interactive entertainment.” The scholarship recipient will be announced at ‘EA Day’, an annual event beginning Spring 2023 that will bring notable guest speakers and Electronic Arts/EA Music executives to the Boston campus. The scholarship and mentorship program will enable deserving women to graduate with more than just a degree; it will instead empower them to enter the industry with a practical understanding of what goes into composing an original video game score, a list of top-level professional contacts, as well as an understanding of working relationships. The EA/Berklee Next Gen Scholarship commences a relationship that celebrates EA Music and Berklee’s commitment to gender inclusion, and a fundamental continuation of their roles as global leaders of music’s multicultural excellence. “Our collaboration with Berklee is the latest in a series of EA initiatives designed to inspire the next generation to pursue STEAM-based careers,” says Steve Schnur, Worldwide Executive & President at EA Music. “Music composition is traditionally a very male-dominated sector, with a recent USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative finding that women currently represent only 1.7% of composers in screen music, and the gender ratio of male composers to female composers is 18.3 to 1. We must work together to change this – and fast. We hope this partnership will provide the women who take part with an incredible learning opportunity and remind them of the variety of roles available to them in the video games industry. We look forward to our continued role in developing a new generation of women composers”
- gareth

We have an advanced screening of the film and you can get details below.


Wednesday February 22


Harkins Tempe Marketplace








Inspired by the 1985 true story of a drug runner’s plane crash, missing cocaine, and the black bear that ate it, this wild thriller finds an oddball group of cops, criminals, tourists and teens converging in a Georgia forest where a 500- pound apex predator has ingested a staggering amount of cocaine and gone on a coke-fueled rampage for more blow … and blood.


Cocaine Bear stars Keri Russell (The Americans), Emmy winner Margo Martindale (The Americans), Emmy winner Ray Liotta (The Many Saints of Newark), Alden Ehrenreich (Solo: A Star Wars Story), O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Straight Outta Compton), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family), Kristofer Hivju (Game of Thrones), Kahyun Kim (American Gods), Christian Convery (Sweet Tooth), Brooklynn Prince (The Florida Project) and newcomer Scott Seiss.


Directed by Elizabeth Banks (Charlie’s AngelsPitch Perfect 2) from a screenplay by Jimmy Warden (The Babysitter: Killer Queen), Cocaine Bear is produced by Oscar® winners Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, The Mitchells vs. The Machines) and Aditya Sood (The Martian) for Lord Miller, by Elizabeth Banks and Max Handelman (Pitch Perfect franchise) for Brownstone Productions, and by Brian Duffield (Spontaneous). Robin Fisichella (Ma) will executive produce.

Genre: Thriller

Cast: Keri Russell, Margo Martindale, Ray Liotta, Alden Ehrenreich, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Kristofer Hivju, Kahyun Kim, Christian Convery, Brooklynn Prince, Scott Seiss

Directed by: Elizabeth Banks

- gareth

Razer has revealed their latest gaming mouse.

Today, Razer, the leading global lifestyle brand for gamers, launched the Razer Viper Mini Signature Edition, a new ultra-high-end, hyper-lightweight gaming mouse joining Razer’s Viper family of industry-leading mice.


The Razer Viper Mini Signature is Razer’s lightest mouse ever created. Stemming from years of meticulous craftsmanship and engineering, the Razer Viper Mini Signature Edition provides wireless performance gaming mouse that is turbocharged with Razer’s best-in-class technologies. It weighs in at just 49 grams and features an ultra-durable magnesium alloy exoskeleton chassis that matches the form factor of the fan-favorite Viper Mini.

- Genevieve Mc Bride

This looks creepy

Indie developer Jenito Studios has today released the first playable demo for their upcoming fantasy thriller adventure game Limerick: Cadence Mansion, which will be released on PC in 2023 via Steam.

Solve puzzles, outwit evil creatures and explore the arcane halls of Cadence Mansion as you dive deeper into a story of manipulation and dark science.

Download the demo and wishlist Limerick: Cadence Mansion on Steam.

- Genevieve Mc Bride

This looks interesting.

Rogue Games, the meanest publisher in all the West, and dastardly developer David Marquardt Studios have announced that award-winning twin-stick cover-based shooter Dust & Neon will arrive in town February 16 on Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam and the Epic Games Store. Switch gamers can pre-order the game today via the Nintendo Store at 20% off.

Got an itchy trigger finger? A free Steam Next Fest demo of Dust & Neon will be available for a limited time starting February 6. Players can try it out and discover for themselves why it’s earning early rave reviews. Of course, the Steam demo is just a small taste of the sweeping 15-plus-hour experience that awaits in the full game later this month.

Watch a developer livestream for Dust & Neon via the game’s Steam page on February 8 at 18:00 UTC/10:00 am PST/1:00 pm EST.

Watch the Dust & Neon pre-order trailer


Spin your spurs as the mysterious cyborg gunslinger with no name and make your mark in the most vicious Wild West tale this side of the apocalypse! Take on armies of robotic baddies with your favorite shootin’ iron and reload those chambers with perfect timing. Will it be the good ‘ole Furious Dual Barrel Embrace of Death or the Frenetic Top Loaded Twenty-Two? In Dust & Neon, keep your guns loaded or dig an early grave.

“Just look at you! You’re everything I could’ve dreamed you’d be,” says Dr. Finkel, Dust & Neon’s resident mad scientist. “Worth all of the corpses. The wasted years in hiding! You’ll show them all, won’t you?”

Yeah, okay, we’re officially out of Wild West puns and jargon.

Dust & Neon will be available February 16 for $29.99 on Switch and PC via Steam and the Epic Games Store. Pre-order the game today at the Nintendo Store to receive a 20% discount. Dust & Neon will release on Playstation and Xbox later this year. Download the free limited-time Steam Next Fest demo beginning February 6.


Related Links:
Steam Page:
Official Website:
- gareth
Turtle Beach Touts VelocityOne As The Top Selling Flight Controller

Interesting news for Flight Simulation fans.
February 2, 2023″>February 2, 2023 – Leading gaming accessory maker Turtle Beach Corporation (Nasdaq: HEAR) today announced its award-winning Turtle Beach VelocityOne™ Flight Universal Control System was the gaming industry’s market share leader for flight controllers in 2022. In data1 provided by The NPD Group, which tracks retail product sales across the gaming industry in the U.S., Turtle Beach’s Designed for Xbox VelocityOne Flight was the #1 best-selling flight controller by dollar sales in the U.S. for 2022. Additionally, in the UK, VelocityOne Flight was the best-selling joystick in 2022 by revenue, according to GfK Entertainment data2.

“VelocityOne Flight has impressed the flight sim community since the moment we unveiled it at E3 in 2021 and we are thrilled to see it become the best-selling product in its class in the U.S. and UK in its first full year of sales,” said Juergen Stark, Chairman and CEO, Turtle Beach Corporation. “With VelocityOne Flight, Turtle Beach redefined the flight controller category, and we’ve recently expanded the immersive VelocityOne experience further with the new VelocityOne Rudder and VelocityOne Stand, along with the VelocityOne Flightstick, and each of these new products are following a similar path earning strong praise from the community, plus top review scores and accolades.”

VelocityOne Flight debuted at E3 2021 where it received multiple best of show awards. VelocityOne Flight’s initial praise developed into top review scores and additional accolades following its November 2021 launch, after becoming one of Turtle Beach’s most pre-ordered products at the time. Top flight sim enthusiast publication,

PC Pilot

, reviewed the VelocityOne Flight controller and gave it a 90/100 review score and their PC Pilot Classic Award, saying, “If you’re looking for a more natural method of controlling your aircraft without reaching for the keyboard and mouse, I can highly recommend this VelocityOne Flight Universal Control System.“ Additionally, popular games industry publication

Gaming Trend

gave VelocityOne Flight a 95/100 review score, calling the controller “Absolutely game changing,“ while

PC Mag

highlighted it as, “the best control system for Xbox Series X|S owners.”

In fall 2022, Turtle Beach expanded the brand’s VelocityOne product lineup with the introduction of VelocityOne Rudder and VelocityOne Stand – two new universal products that perfectly complement VelocityOne Flight for the ultimate gaming flight simulation setup for Xbox and Windows PCs. PC Pilot gave the VelocityOne Rudder a 95/100 review score plus their Platinum Award, saying, “I’ve been fortunate enough to try many different pedals over the years, but these are without a doubt the best I’ve used so far.” CoG Connected, another popular games industry publication, also enjoyed using VelocityOne Rudder, calling it, “an impressive piece of hardware.”

Turtle Beach also launched the VelocityOne Flightstick last fall, which is a joystick controller that equips gamers with immersive and accurate controls for air and space flight combat games on Xbox and Windows PCs. IGN added the VelocityOne Flightstick to its Best Xbox Series X|S Accessories 2023 list as The Best Flight Stick for Xbox Series X|S, adding, “it delivers excellent precision and an immersive, realistic flying experience.” PC Pilot also awarded the VelocityOne Flightstick a 96/100 review score along with the publication’s Platinum Award.

Turtle Beach’s VelocityOne products are developed in collaboration with aeronautical engineers and pilots, and by a dedicated Turtle Beach team with over two decades of experience creating many premier flight and racing simulation controllers. VelocityOne Flight, VelocityOne Rudder, VelocityOne Stand, and VelocityOne Flightstick are all currently available at and participating retailers worldwide. VelocityOne Flight is available for $379.95 MSRP, Velocity One Rudder and VelocityOne Stand are available for $299.99 and $199.99 MSRP, respectively, and VelocityOne Flightstick is available for $129.99 MSRP.

For more information on the latest Turtle Beach products and accessories, visit and be sure to follow Turtle Beach on TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

- gareth

Looking forward to this.

Will you­ be the last one alive in the cabin? Evil Dead: The Game’s new battle royale-style Splatter RoyaleTM mode is playable today in a free update for all platforms. Choose Deadite versions of any Survivors and Demons from the game – including DLC characters and outfits you’ve purchased – and use your wits and weapons to become the last person standing in fast-paced, cutthroat action. Battle with up to 40 players and experience even more carnage with two new bonus weapons: the long-range grenade launcher and the scythe, deadly for close-range Deadite combat. All players can also pick up Pablo’s “Kandarian Facelift” Outfit at no additional cost.

Splatter Royale Update Trailer:


Separate from the release of the Splatter Royale mode, players can make their victory all the more spectacular with the new Immortal Power DLC Bundle, available today for $9.99 and featuring a variety of in-game bonuses, including:

New Survivor: Ruby Knowby Ruby is voiced by the legendary Lucy Lawless, reprising her mysterious role from the STARZ series “Ash vs Evil Dead.” As a Dark One, Ruby can regenerate health, increase her possession resistance, and boost the damage of her weapons. She can also consume souls to make her aura stronger and charge her unique ability, triggering a deadly blast that damages evil units within range and heals nearby Survivors. Kelly “Scourge of Evil” Outfit Pablo “Fish n’ Chips” Outfit Ash vs Evil Dead “Party Animal” Outfit Puppeteer Demon Class “King of the White Frost” Outfit

Inspired by the iconic horror, humor and action of the popular Evil Dead franchise, Evil Dead: The Game brings the series’ biggest names together in a pulse-pounding battle with the forces of darkness. Work as a team of four Survivors to kick Deadite butt and banish the vile Kandarian Demon – or become the Demon yourself, using its powers of possession to stop the good guys and swallow their souls! Choose your squad with fan-favorite characters from every era in the series, and battle with a wide variety of weapons to survive the night in multiplayer and bonus single-player missions.

Evil Dead: The Game is officially licensed to Boss Team Games from Renaissance Pictures, leading European production and distribution company STUDIOCANAL, leading entertainment company Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM), global content leader Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF) and premium subscription platform STARZ. The game is developed and published by Saber Interactive and Boss Team Games to bring the first multi-platform console and PC game to life based on The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn, and Army of Darkness films, and the STARZ “Ash vs Evil Dead” television series.

Evil Dead: The Game is available now on PlayStation®5, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation®4, Xbox One and PC via the Epic Games Store. For more information, visit, and follow the action on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

- gareth

WOW fans should love this news.

Azeroth’s adventurers and collectors can start earning their way to new mounts, pets, and gear appearances through a new feature, the Trading Post, now live! Here’s what players can expect: Trading Post Currency: Trader’s Tender Players can earn tender in two ways: Logging in: Players are awarded 500 tender by simply logging in each month. Completing Traveler’s Log Tasks: Tasks within the log vary, reset at the start of every month, and are meant to accommodate any playstyle across PVE and PVP with potential to earn up to an additional 500 tender. Trading Post Locations: Stormwind & Orgrimmar Members of the Alliance can head to the Mage District within Stormwind to meet with traders Tawny & Wilder. Members of the Horde can meet with Zen’shiri, who has set up post outside Grommash Hold in Orgrimmar. Store Offerings The Trading Post will have a monthly rotating inventory with some higher cost items such as mounts, staying for up to three months. Items that rotate out will not be gone forever and will find their way back into the Trading Post in the future.

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- Montelent

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- Montelent

Nowadays, every small to large scale company is emphasising deploying effective cybersecurity protocols. But, it’s not new; with the advancement in the field of the internet, online threats also developed. The risk of data breaching was less in the 1900s compared to this modern technological era. Moreover, at that time, few had the authority to […]

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- Drunkenyoda
Ads: We Hear You!

So boys and girls, in the interests of transparency, let’s tell you how all this works. At least what I’m able to figure out and where we are at. Why? Because we hear you on the bad ads.

When we first started this, we did a web site that was shared hosting on GoDaddy. It was reasonably cheap but we weren’t prepared for how much traffic we got initially. We upgraded, which gets a bit more expensive however GoDaddy sucks, so we needed to move to a better hosting company.

I looked long and hard for a good web hosting company that wasn’t Amazon. Even after I picked something, we STILL needed to upgrade to our own server, thanks to you lovely people coming to see us. That’s not cheap. Then we needed to buy all sorts of plugins for the site to make it faster. There’s still some things I don’t have quite right as I’m an old Windows guy and not a Linux expert. Caching, media organizers, SEO plugins, etc. So the costs have gone up and we needed to generate revenue.

Welcome to the wonderful world of advertising.


Obviously we aren’t big enough to have monthly memberships or anything like that. I’m not really big on that model anyway. We started with Google Adsense. Google didn’t get big by giving away money. They pay poorly and we needed to look around for a third party.

The company we landed on does pay the bills and are fairly responsive but their ads were getting more and more intrusive, to the point where we turned them off back in late November after you guys told us it really didn’t work for you.

After working with them, I turned it back on earlier this week. I wanted less intrusive ads and for the most part it was ok.

Until the last two days. The Google “You Win!” ads are really bad. So I will work with them one more time and if it doesn’t change, we will part ways with them. We are looking at various other companies and thanks to the increase in traffic, we might qualify for some much better quality companies.


I write all this, as I said, in the interests of transparency. Some of you contribute articles, many more of you have been long time readers and commenters, and some of you are brand new. The crew here all agree that we never want to adopt the ways of most sites and big tech: “Shut up, we don’t have to tell you anything.”

Bull. You are are customers, our community and our friends. I like that this place is the net equivalent of the local bar (or pub for you Brits.) We come in, we argue, we laugh, but we know each other and if there’s a problem with place, you deserve to know why and what we are doing about it.

So thanks for your patience and know we are working towards a solution.

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- Matt aka Eggy
Gunn Reveals Comics Inspiration

James Gunn has revealed the five main comics he and his DCU team are using for inspiration for the launch of the new DCU. Before anyone gets their knickers in a twist, he makes it clear that it’s just for the look and feel and they won’t be adapting said comics.

We're talked a lot about Woman of Tomorrow, but these are more of the comics inspiring #DCStudios and the new #DCU in these early days. That doesn't mean we're adapting all these comics, but that the feel, the look, or the tone of them are touchstones for our team. Check 'em out!

— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) February 2, 2023

All Star Superman

First up on Gunn’s list is All Star Superman. I’ve recently reread this comic and it’s a great Superman story by Grant Morrison and beautifully illustrated by Frank Quitely. 

Superman rescues Dr. Leo Quintum and his P.R.O.J.E.C.T. team from an exploration mission to the Sun that was remotely sabotaged by Lex Luthor. Luthor orchestrated this event to overwhelm Superman‘s cells with massive amounts of solar radiation that not only gives him a whole new level of power but is also killing him, and he has one year left to live. 

He sets out to achieve many heroic feats (The Twelve Labors of Superman) before his death and leave the world a better place as well as reveal his identity to Lois Lane.

It features a plethora of Superman‘s supporting cast, including Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, Bizarro, Perry White, Parasite, Supermen from the future, Solaris, and many more.

It’s a far cry from Snyder’s Superman and shows us a Superman that is a compassionate and all-powerful God that many have been crying out for. We also get to see Clark Kent as a loveable but clumsy oaf, deliberately stumbling his way through life as the perfect cover for who he truly is.

What I particularly loved about this comic is we get to see Superman solving problems using his intelligence rather than just punching his way through problems. It’s a great story that really does bring back the Golden Age Superman.


Batman By Grant Morrison

I haven’t read this so I don’t know much about it but I’ll sure be checking it out over the next couple of weeks. 

The synopsis reads – This new Omnibus collection kicks off with the introduction of Damian Wayne! Then, Batman and a group of global heroes face a killer on a mysterious island, and Batman relives an adventure in the life of young Bruce Wayne: the hunt for his parents’ killer. 

And when Bruce Wayne disappears, the Club of Villains begins a crime spree through the streets of Gotham City, while Batman’s allies attempt to keep order.


The Authority Omnibus

The Authority are heroes in only the strictest sense of the word. Ruthless and unforgiving, this group of insanely powerful super-humans face down countless menaces to Earth, protecting mankind with their cold version of justice. 

An invasion from an alternate Earth, an international terrorist who is laying waste to major cities, and a hostile alien intelligence who calls himself God all fall under their rule. This is The Authority. Pay allegiance. Or get your head kicked in. 

This Omnibus chronicles the life of Jenny Sparks before the creation of The Authority, including her relationships with Albert Einstein and Adolf Hitler and her introduction to The Engineer, Jack Hawksmoor, and The Doctor. 

I knew absolutely nothing about The Authority but they sound awesome!


Absolute Swamp Thing

Before the groundbreaking graphic novel Watchmen, Alan Moore made his debut in the U.S. comic book market with the relaunch of the horror comic book Swamp Thing.

In 1983, a revolutionary English writer joined a trio of trailblazing American artists to revitalize a longstanding comic book icon. By the time they’d finished their work four years later, Swamp Thing by Alan Moore, Stephen R, Bissette, John Totleben, and Rick Veitch was universally recognized as one of the handful of titles that defined a new era of complexity and depth in modern graphic storytelling, and their run on the series remains one of the medium’s most enduring masterpieces.

Gunn Swamp_Thing

Supergirl: Woman Of Tomorrow

Kara Zor-El has seen some epic adventures over the years, but she now finds her life without meaning or purpose. Here she is, a young woman who saw her planet destroyed and was sent to Earth to protect a baby cousin who ended up not needing her. What was it all for? Wherever she goes, people only see her through the lens of Superman’s fame.

Just when Supergirl thinks she’s had enough, everything changes. An alien girl seeks her out for a vicious mission. Her world has been destroyed, and the bad guys responsible are still out there. She wants revenge, and if Supergirl doesn’t help her, she’ll do it herself, whatever the cost. Now a Kryptonian, a dog, and an angry, heartbroken child head out into space on a journey that will shake them to their very core. 

Gunn Supergirl

And there you have it. James Gunn is making all the right noises and he certainly seems to know his onions and me being a DC fan, I sure hope he delivers. Only time will tell.

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- Boba Phil
SWAMP THING Retro Review

James Mangold implied he would like to make a new version of Swamp Thing this week, and James Gunn has stated that there will be a new version on the new DCU slate.

I hadn’t seen Swamp Thing (1982) in many, many years. So I found it online yesterday and gave it a re-watch. This won’t be a huge review, more of a recap. There is also some news about The Return of Swamp Thing (1989) at the end.

You know the story, a scientist gets turned into a swamp plant monster and his evil nemesis tries to get his formula and gets turned into one too. There’s a beautiful female researcher that Swamp Thing falls in love with… Blah blah blah.

The story is wafer thin and had been done a hundred times before, just in different guises. I’ve never read the comics, but I understand that Swampy has much more dialogue and is a more “fleshed” out character?

It stars Louis Jordan, Adrienne Barbeau, Ray Wise, David Hess, Nicholas Worth, Don Knight, and Dick Durock. It’s written and directed by Wes Craven.


The overall direction is serviceable, I mean, there’s nothing outstanding here. Although, I kept thinking how horrible it must have been filming the entire movie in a swamp. I can’t imagine the cast or crew enjoying the shoot.

For me, the story all that good, and I have no idea if it was written from the comics or not. If you are a fan of the comics, let me know?

The biggest let down is with the practical effects. Swampy still looks pretty good, apart from when he loses an arm and you can clearly see where it’s tucked away in the suit. But the transformation at the end, from Arcane into whatever he turns into, was just bad.

I did like how the end evil creature has a sword, though.


I did appreciate the movie though. It’s fun in that 80s camp way, where it’s never going to be the greatest movie of all time, but you just sit back and enjoy it. I also found the unrated version, which has a full 53 seconds of Barbeau’s boobs.


It now turns out that The Return of Swamp Thing (1989) is getting the 4k treatment and a UHD release on 7th Feb. The synopsis for the sequel is:

“After her mother’s mysterious death, Abigail Arcane travels to the Florida swamps to confront her resurrected evil stepfather Dr. Anton Arcane. In an attempt to stave off the effects of aging, Dr. Arcane, assisted by Dr. Lana Zurrell, combines genes from various swamp animals and human beings, creating an army of monsters known as Un-Men. When Abby arrives, Dr. Arcane is hell-bent on taking his own stepdaughter’s life in the name of science… that is until she is rescued by SWAMP THING in this must-see sequel to the original cult classic and based on the award-winning DC Comics series!”

I don’t think I’ve ever seen the sequel, so I might wait for the 4k release and give it a go.

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- Stark
CREED IV And More Planned

Michael B. Jordan makes his directing de