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- Tamal Kundu
Destined With You Season 1 Episode 14 Release Date & Time on Netflix
Image Credits: Netflix

The Destined with You Season 1 Episode 14 release date and time have been revealed. The episode will air on Netflix. It will continue the story of lawyer Jang Shin-yu and civil servant Lee Hong-jo, and how the relationship develops between the two of them, just as Shin-yu discovers that Hong-jo can set him free from an ancient curse.

Here’s when the episode is coming out.

When is the Destined with You season 1 episode 14 release date and time?

The Destined with You Season 1 Episode 14 release date is October 5, 2023.

The Episode 14 release time is:

6:30 AM PT 9:30 AM ET 2:30 PM BST 3:30 PM CEST Where to watch Destined with You season 1 episode 14

Viewers can watch the upcoming episode on Netflix.

To watch episode 14, you can subscribe to Netflix, which offers three plans to choose from. The Standard Plan with Ads costs $6.99 a month, the Standard Plan (Ad-free) costs $15.49 a month, and the Premium Plan (Ad-free) costs $19.99 a month. A subscriber can invite others to share their accounts, but they need to have their own accounts and passwords. Moreover, the number of additional members is decided by the type of plan the subscriber has.

Written by Noh Ji-sul and directed by Nam Ki-hoon, the fantasy romance series follows Lee Hong-jo as she investigates an old temple and discovers a forbidden book sealed and hidden away three centuries ago. That puts her on a collision course with Jang Shin-yu, who was cursed by the very book.

The official synopsis for Destined with You reads:

“A lawyer bound by a centuries-old curse becomes entangled with a civil servant who holds the key to his freedom — igniting an unexpected romance.”

For more Netflix-related content, check out the streamer’s release schedule between September 25-October 5, 2023. You can also check out when Castaway Diva arrives for streaming on Netflix.

Amazon Prime Video Schedule September 25-October 1 Amazon Prime Video Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added Amazon Prime Video‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include Gen V, a superhero series that is… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 12 hours ago Peacock Schedule September 25-October 1 Peacock Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added Peacock‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include a new episode of The Continental: From the World… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 14 hours ago HBO Max Schedule September 25-October 1 HBO Max Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added HBO Max‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include the third season of Starstruck, American Masters: Marilyn… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 16 hours ago @media (min-width: 0px) and (max-width: 749px) { .pb_prebidjs_300x250_b_1695632896_65114e00531ba__wrapper { min-height: 250px; } } @media (min-width: 750px) { .pb_prebidjs_300x250_b_1695632896_65114e00531ba__wrapper { display: none; } } Paramount Plus Schedule September 25-October 1 Paramount Plus Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added Paramount Plus‘ new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include the fifth season of ALVINNN!!! and The Chipmunks,… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 19 hours ago

The post Destined With You Season 1 Episode 14 Release Date & Time on Netflix appeared first on - Movie Trailers, TV & Streaming News, and More.

- Sushmita Sen
Gen V Season 1 Episode 4 Release Date & Time on Amazon Prime Video
Gen V Season 1 Episode 4 Release Date and TimeImage Credit: Amazon Prime Video

The Gen V Season 1 Episode 4 release date and time have been revealed. The next episode will air on Amazon Prime Video. 

The fantasy drama series Gen V, which is a spin-off to The Boys, is about superhero students from America’s only superhero college, Godolkin University. The students undergo intense training to achieve top ranking and get an opportunity to join The Seven, a prestigious superhero team. After the school’s dark secrets are revealed, the students have to make a difficult decision about their future.

Here’s when the episode is coming out.

When is the Gen V Season 1 Episode 4 release date and time?

The Gen V Season 1 Episode 4 release date is October 6, 2023.

Watch Gen V Right Here

The Gen V Season 1 Episode 4 release time is:

5 PM PT 8 PM ET 12 AM GMT 2 AM CEST Where to watch Gen V Season 1 Episode 4

Viewers can watch the upcoming episode on Amazon Prime Video.

To watch episode 4, viewers must subscribe to the streamer. The most affordable option is Prime Monthly which is priced at $14.99. However, the best-valued plan is Prime Annual which costs $139. 

There’s one more plan which is meant only for students ($7.49 per month). You just need to download the app, register, and make the subscription payment.

Season 1 of the Amazon Original series takes viewers to Godolkin University, America’s only superhero college, where students go through rigorous training to achieve top ranking and a spot in The Seven group. However, things change once they find out the school’s dark secrets. 

The cast of the series includes:

Jaz Sinclair as Marie Moreau Lizze Broadway as Emma Meyer Chance Perdomo as Andre Anderson Maddie Phillips as Cate Dunlap London Thor & Derek Luh as Jordan Li Asa Germann as Sam Shelley Conn as Indira Shetty Patrick Schwarzenegger as Golden Boy Sean Patrick Thomas as Polarity Marco Pigossi as Dr. Edison Cardosa Clancy Brown as Prof. Richard Brinkerhoff Alexander Calvert as Rufus

The official synopsis for Gen V reads:

“Set in the diabolical world of The Boys, Gen V expands the universe to Godolkin University, the prestigious superhero-only college where students train to be the next generation of heroes—preferably with lucrative endorsements. You know what happens when supes go bad, but not all superheroes start out corrupt.”

For more Amazon Prime Video content, check the streamer’s release schedule from September 25 to October 1, 2023. For entertainment elsewhere, you can also check out the other streamers’ release schedules here.

The post <strong>Gen V Season 1 Episode 4 Release Date & Time on Amazon Prime Video</strong> appeared first on - Movie Trailers, TV & Streaming News, and More.

- Sushmita Sen
The Killing Vote Season 1 Episode 9 Release Date & Time on Amazon Prime Video
The Killing Vote Season 1 Episode 9 Release Date and TimeImage Credit: Amazon Prime Video

The Killing Vote Season 1 Episode 9 release date and time have been revealed. The next episode will air on Amazon Prime Video. The Korean thriller crime drama series follows a masked man who holds a poll to punish dangerous criminals. People over 18 years of age receive text messages where they are allowed to vote and decide whether a criminal deserves a death sentence that the justice system fails to provide.

Here’s when the episode is coming out.

When is the The Killing Vote Season 1 Episode 9 release date and time?

The Killing Vote Season 1 Episode 9 release date is October 5, 2023.

Watch The Killing Vote Right Here

The Killing Vote Season 1 Episode 9 release time is:

5 AM PT 8 AM ET 1 PM BST 2 AM CEST Where to watch The Killing Vote Season 1 Episode 9

Viewers can watch the upcoming episode on Amazon Prime Video.

To watch episode 9, you can subscribe to the streamer. The most affordable option is Prime Monthly which is priced at $14.99. However, the best-valued plan is Prime Annual which costs $139. 

There’s one more plan which is meant only for students ($7.49 per month). You just need to download the app, register, and make the subscription payment.

The crime series features a masked man called Gaetal who kills criminals, depending on people’s votes. He holds polls asking citizens over 18 years to vote via text message. They should answer whether they think a criminal received a fair sentence or should die, and if the poll results agree with a death sentence, Gaetal kills the murderer. However, he is the most wanted criminal at the Special Investigations Headquarters. 

The cast of the series includes:

Park Hae-jin as Kim Moo-chan Park Sung-woong as Kwon Seok-joo Lim Ji-yeon as Joo Hyeon Shin Jung-geun as Choi Jin-soo Go Geon-han as Kim Jordan Oh Ha-nee as Kang Yoon-ji Kim Yoo-mi as Min Ji-young Kim Kwon as Lee Min-soo Cha Rae-hyung as Park Chul-min Choi Yu-hwa as Chae Do-hee Kwon Ah-reum as Joo Min Seo Young-joo as Kim Ji-hoon

The official synopsis for The Killing Vote reads:

“People are busy watching the screen. The person wearing a mysterious mask so called ‘Gaetal’ appears, and the Killing Vote begins.”

For more Amazon Prime Video content, check the streamer’s release schedule from September 25 to October 1, 2023.

The post The Killing Vote Season 1 Episode 9 Release Date & Time on Amazon Prime Video appeared first on - Movie Trailers, TV & Streaming News, and More.

- Tyler Treese
Writers Strike Update: WGA Reaches Tentative Deal With AMPTP
WGA Writers Strike Begins as AI Scriptwriting Debate Wages On(Photo Credit: WGA)

After 146 days, the writers strike is coming to an end as the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have come to a tentative deal.

The news came via a WGA email to strike captains that a new contract has been settled and is tentatively in place. It will now need to be ratified by WGA members to take effect and will be a three-year agreement. Details on the deal are scarce, although issues with A.I. and residuals were at the forefront of negotiations. WGA says, “we can say, with great pride, that this deal is exceptional — with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership.”


— Larry Wilmore (@larrywilmore) September 25, 2023

Talks between the WGA and AMPTP heated up this week with the studios offering a “best and final” offer on Saturday night. The WGA came with several asks today and the two sides ultimately came to a deal. We’ll have more as it comes out, but it’s encouraging to see the studios make a deal with the writers that will pay and treat them better. The actors strike, however, is still in full effect, so don’t expect productions to pick up again until that is also settled.

We did it, Joe. We did it.

— Joe Russo (@joerussotweets) September 25, 2023

The post Writers Strike Update: WGA Reaches Tentative Deal With AMPTP appeared first on - Movie Trailers, TV & Streaming News, and More.

- Stephen Wilds
Saved by the Bell: The New Class – The Seemingly Superior Spin-Off
saved by the bell: the new class(Photo Credit: NBC)

Saved by the Bell was a phenomenon no one was expecting, but one that didn’t catch on in its first incarnation — Good Morning Miss Bliss. Once the program was re-tweaked, the core version of the show only ran for four seasons, and it was clear there was room for more. After the kids graduated and went Hawaiian Style, fans were given two spin-off series. One of these was where the bulk of the cast was intended to spend their College Years, but that only lasted one season. The group was given their proper sendoff with a Wedding in Las Vegas and a couple of guest spots before returning to the roles years later. That secondary offspring was largely written off by many fans. However, while the original cast struggled to keep their spot, The New Class took Bayside to incredible heights.

If we’re looking at the numbers, Saved by the Bell proper ran for 86 episodes over 4 seasons. The New Class continued on much longer, lasting 143 episodes and running seven seasons. Some speculate that the show was only meant to go for two or three seasons, based on the original contracts. The sixth and seventh seasons are only 13 episodes instead of 26 (just like the first season) due to them splitting the last batch to let the program run longer.

The New Class was considered successful, generating a ton of merchandise, including a board game as well as a 10-novel book series. The ratings were rock solid, especially after the initial season. Though some fans felt slighted by these new students at their high school, the show did bring in more viewers who were just learning about SbtB via re-runs, as well as an audience that wasn’t familiar with the original cast at all but connected with the fresh faces.

Much like its predecessor struggled in the time with Miss Bliss, the first 13-episode season of The New Class was accused of being a carbon copy of its namesake. The new pupils acted as watered-down stand-ins of the previous tenants.

Scott Erikson fills the role of the new Zack, a charismatic schemer who’s a bit of a gutter human. Thomas “Tommy D” De Luca is a less likeable and dumber version of Slater, while Lindsay Warner is Kelly with an attempt at more depth. Megan Jones and Vicki Needleman have traits similar to Lisa and Jessie, but fit less into those molds. Most remember Barton “Weasel” Wyzell, who acted as the new Screech. Though some fans who hung around from the previous run appreciated the familiarity, the producers were smart enough to realize that wouldn’t work long-term and shook the cast up.

Over the years, some of the actors were fired or simply let go, others opted not to re-sign, and a few left due to personal reasons. But for any fans who thought having Tori show up in random episodes was confusing, trying to follow this group of kids could require a flow chart. The second season saw an overhaul of the sets, and began a trend of adding new re-tooled characters without making much mention of where the previous cast members went.

I won’t name all of the performers who graced the halls of Bayside, but there are several talented people who became a part of the SbtB family and went on to have extensive careers. Isaac Lidsky (Weasel) certainly has the most interesting story outside of acting. Actors like Bianca Lawson (Megan), Jonathan Angel (Tommy D), Natalia Cigliuti (Lindsay), and Sarah Lancaster (Rachel Meyers) all stand out in various ways and leave solid impressions on the show.

There are a few duds, but the only addition that felt completely off was Christian Oliver as Brian Keller, another Zack-like who happened to be a foreign exchange student and was hard to like. I suppose the showrunners noticed that too, because he was only around for the second season. He soon returned back home to Switzerland with no one remembering him.  

The two mainstays of course are Dennis Haskins as Principal Richard Belding and his new assistant as of season two, Samuel “Screech” Powers, once again played by Dustin Diamond after the end of The College Years. Haskins is incredible as always and has chemistry with the new cast while dialing his kookiness up a notch. Diamond’s return helped the show and some episodes show off his talents while others see him get a bit too weird and goofy.

These two pillars of SbtB become their own side duo, sometimes in grating ways, but they are also likely part of how it ran for so long. A few of the old teachers return for brief appearances as well as a ton of notable guest stars that have since become quite famous. We also see some recognizable names of several behind-the-scenes talents that stayed on or returned as well.

Members of the original cast including Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zack), Lark Voorhies (Lisa), and Mario Lopez (Slater) ended up making a guest appearance or two and occasionally showing up in flashback clips. A few of their real-life and character names were also used with new characters to pay homage to the stars who paved the way. The old cast apparently did promos with the group of kids from season one, but these reportedly only aired during a re-showing of Hawaiian Style and seem to be difficult to find now.

Characters weren’t the only thing revisited in this spin-off. Before season two’s revamp the original sets were used along with a few additional outdoor shots and more pre-recorded footage. The kids are constantly doing ‘adventure’ episodes, making it seem like they were never in school. They notably visited Cal U, the site of the other spin-off, and it appears those sets were later redecorated for additional vacation segments as well. The group received several versions of their own Malibu Sands-style summer job breaks with escapades at the Palisade Hills Country Club, Gold Canyon Ranch, Sleepy Mountain Ski Lodge, France, a cruise ship, space camp, and more, but my favorite tales like these are located in the mall.

There is also some criticism lobbed at the show for revisiting so many plots similar to the original show. Even within just The New Class episodes, previously established elements were ignored, which is normal for sitcoms to have a stern status quo to return to after each storyline. But like their predecessor, this series wasn’t always aired in production order, making things even more confusing. Combine that with the rotating class and this show truly did try and give viewers the feel of being a teacher at Bayside — watching everything old become new again, just with different kids trying the same tricks.

The New Class may be a bit more risqué than the original show. Both had male stars go shirtless and their female performers appear in bathing suits and other tight outfits, but this iteration seemed to do that quite often, showing a lot more midriff, and allowing for some extra sexually suggestive jokes. Nothing ever goes too far and this new take on the school was arguably aimed at a wider age range, but the themes discussed over the larger number of episodes do seem to be a bit heavier. Yes, there were also still a couple of culturally inappropriate jokes and characters dressing up in stereotypical outfits of people from other countries. It almost feels like it wouldn’t be SbtB without those problematic elements.  

This sounds like a mountain of negatives against the show, but for those who loved the original, so much of this series works. It’s easy to root for several of the new kids, even if they don’t stick around, and though not every scene is as snappy as it could be the chemistry builds quickly and the events feel familiar in a positive way. There are a lot of episodes, but I kept finding myself wanting to watch more to see what else happened. Just because it has a lot of things to point out doesn’t mean I’m entertained any less. It’s less of a guilty pleasure and more exploration and history. 

I’m not alone in this, as the show was reportedly doing well leading into its last two seasons. Even at the end, NBC was looking at two other potential spin-offs and there was even a play in the works. None of that came to pass, but the franchise certainly lived on, even spawning the continuation series in 2020. The New Class had left showrunners and executives confident. So why is it so largely ignored now? Most fans seem to have either forgotten the follow-up series or shun it, while the network rarely mentions it and doesn’t even have it available to stream anywhere. 

It’s a shame. The New Class made the grade the studio wanted. They put in the effort and brought a lot of school spirit, surpassing their elders in some ways. Still — they just couldn’t compete after high school.

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- Jeff Ames
Box Office Results: The Nun 2 Takes Down The Expendables 4

Audiences weren’t very interested in the cinema this weekend, leading to meager box office results for newcomer Expen4bles, which earned just $8.3 million against a $100M budget, per Deadline. The fourthquel in the long-running franchise featuring Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham didn’t make enough to top The Nun 2, which took the No. 1 spot with $8.4M. The horror sequel has grossed $69.2M through three weeks. Worldwide, the WB product has earned $204M.

The Expendables franchise started with a bang in 2010, where the original earned a solid $34M. Part 2 hauled in $28M two years later, and then the third entry managed just $15M in 2014. Clearly, the signs were there that audiences had grown weary of the all-star action fest, but Lionsgate proceeded with a fourth film nearly a decade later.

A Haunting in Venice dipped 56% in Week 2, raising its total to $25.3M stateside and $71M worldwide.

This week’s only other new release was NEON’s It Lives Inside, which collected $2.6M from 2,010 theaters.


1) The Nun 2 (NL) 3,536 theaters (-207), Fri $2.4M (-45%) Sat $3.75M Sun $2.25M 3-day $8.4M (-42%) Total $69.2M/Wk 3

2.) Expendables 4 (LG/Mill) 3518 theaters, Fri $3.2M Sat $3M Sun $2M 3-day $8.3M/Wk 1

3.) A Haunting in Venice (Dis) 3,305 Fri $1.7M (-69%) Sat $2.77M Sun $1.78M 3-day $6.3M (-56%)/Total $25.3M/Wk 2

4.) Equalizer 3 (Sony) 3,270 (-258) theaters Fri $1.35M (-36%) Sat $2.1M Sun $1.2M 3-day $4.72M (-35%), Total: $81.2M /Wk 4

5.) Barbie (WB) 2,634 (-378) theaters, Fri $800K Sat $1.5M Sun $900K 3-day $3.2M (-16%) Total $630.45M/Wk 10 Imax nor Warner Bros. broke out the Imax gross portion, however, for a movie in its 10th weekend to dip 16% is pretty remarkable, evident of some juice from large format.

6.) My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 (Uni) 3,078 (-600) theaters Fri $820K (-41%) Sat $1.3M Sun $860K 3-day $3M (-37%) Total $23.8M/Wk 3

7.) It Lives Inside (NEON) 2,010 theaters, Fri $1M Sat $930K Sun $650K 3-day $2.6M/Wk 1

8.) Dumb Money (Sony) 616 (+608) theaters, Fri $985K (+967%) Sat $873K Sun $642K 3-day $2.5M (+999%), Total $2.8M/Wk 2

9.) Blue Beetle (WB) 1,953 (-433) theaters, Fri $400K (-31%) Sat $830K Sun $580K 3-day $1.81M (-28%)/Total $69.8M/Wk 6

10.) Oppenheimer (Uni) 1,459 locations, Fri $380K Sat $760K Sun $490K 3-day $1.63M (-22%), Total $321.2M/Wk 10

11.) Teenage Mutanta Ninja Turtles…(Par) 1,751 (-315) theaters Fri $335K (-24%) Sat $780K Sun $510K 3-day $1.625M (-20%) Total $116.2M/Wk 8

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- Abdul Azim Naushad
Amazon Prime Video Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added
Amazon Prime Video Schedule September 25-October 1

Amazon Prime Video‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include Gen V, a superhero series that is set in the same universe as Amazon Prime Video’s The Boys, and The Fake Sheikh, a three-part documentary series that chronicles the life of notorious journalist Mazher Mahmood.

Starting on September 26, viewers can stream the highly-anticipated three-part documentary series, The Fake Sheikh. This documentary series will be set in 2016 and will focus on the criminal case of Mazher Mahmood, a maverick British journalist who made headlines by his use of the alias “The Fake Sheikh” and other false aliases to trap and ensnare royals, sports stars, politicians, celebrities, and members of the public eye in order to achieve fame, only for him to get charged and imprisoned for 15 months. This documentary will star Ayla Fox, Paul Samrai, and Neil Wallis.

Then on September 29, viewers can start streaming Gen V, a superhero series that serves as a spin-off of The Boys. The story of Gen V is set in the Godolkin University School of Crimefighting run by Vought International, where young adult superpowered students or “Supes” are tested in Battle Royale challenges in order to determine who will be worthy of joining The Seven, Vought International’s elite superhero team. However, the students learn of dark secrets at Godolkin which makes them ponder over which kind of hero they want to be. Gen V will star Jaz Sinclair, Chance Perdomo, Lizzie Broadway, Shelley Conn, Maddie Philips, London Thor, Derek Luh, Asa Germann, and Patrick Schwarzenegger in the lead roles.

New Amazon Prime Video releases for September 25-October 1

Below are all the new TV shows and movies being added to Amazon Prime Video from September 25-October 1.

September 26 The Fake Sheikh (2023) September 29 Gen V (2023)

October 1’s release schedule is yet to be confirmed.

Check out more streaming release schedules aside from Amazon Prime Video below.

Amazon Prime Video Schedule September 25-October 1 Amazon Prime Video Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added Amazon Prime Video‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include Gen V, a superhero series that is… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 12 hours ago Peacock Schedule September 25-October 1 Peacock Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added Peacock‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include a new episode of The Continental: From the World… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 14 hours ago HBO Max Schedule September 25-October 1 HBO Max Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added HBO Max‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include the third season of Starstruck, American Masters: Marilyn… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 16 hours ago Paramount Plus Schedule September 25-October 1 Paramount Plus Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added Paramount Plus‘ new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include the fifth season of ALVINNN!!! and The Chipmunks,… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 19 hours ago Disney Plus Schedule September 25-October 1 Disney Plus Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added Disney Plus‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include the seventh episode of Star Wars: Ahsoka and… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 1 day ago

The post Amazon Prime Video Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added appeared first on - Movie Trailers, TV & Streaming News, and More.

- Tyler Treese
Fall 4K SteelBook Review: Best Buy Receives Definitive Unrated Release
Fall 4K SteelBook Review(Photo Credit: Lionsgate)

The 2022 breakout hit Fall has a sequel on the way, and now the original film has received a 4K SteelBook release exclusive to Best Buy. This is particularly exciting as when the Grace Caroline Currey and Virginia Gardner-led movie received its initial home release, it was only on Blu-ray and DVD, so both the SteelBook and 4K release are new. It also features the unrated version rather than the PG-13 theatrical release that saw the original film edited to take out cursing.

Buy the Fall 4K SteelBook at Best Buy

“For best friends Becky and Hunter, life is all about conquering fears and pushing limits. But after they climb 2,000 feet to the top of a remote, abandoned radio tower, they find themselves stranded with no way down,” says the synopsis. Now Becky and Hunter’s expert climbing skills will be put to the ultimate test as they desperately fight to survive the elements, a lack of supplies, and vertigo-inducing heights in this adrenaline-fueled thriller from the producers of 47 Meters Down.”

Fall is a total blast to watch, which is why it became a real hit after it became available to stream last year. Both Currey and Gardner give great performances as the two leads, both doing everything they can to desperately survive and make contact while stranded on an abandoned radio tower. There are a number of surprising twists and turns despite the limited scope of the film, with it really making the most out of its potential.

A lot of the reason why the action really delivers was due to Currey and Gardner being outside and the harsh filming conditions making the performance all the more realistic. “I think Ginny and I, we got a lot of help from actually being outside in the elements. There’s pros and cons, the pros are that you actually are sweating, exhausted, fighting dehydration from being in the sun all day, and just the most insane temperatures of heat,” Currey told ComingSoon last year. “Insane wind speeds also, that you just get so exhausted from being knocked around all day by the wind. Like we’re talking such strong winds that we’d have to come down from the tower sometimes because it got dangerous for us to be up there.”

Not only is the 4K release the best-looking version of Fall yet, and takes full advantage of HDR, it also includes a new bonus feature in the form of an 18-minute featurette titled “Creating the Impact of Fall.” This video features director Scott Mann and other cast and crew discussing the surprise success of the movie, its themes, and why it has really registered with audiences. Both the 4K and Blu-ray discs also include the other previously released bonuses: a commentary track with Mann and producer James Harris, an “I Have Never Felt More Alive” music video by Madison Beer, and a “Fall: The Making of” featurette. It’s a really solid package, and the fact that Lionsgate added a new feature (and included all of the special features on the 4K release) is great to see and shows a lot of care from the distributor.

As for the SteelBook, it features all-new artwork from Chris Christodoulou. The slipcover is used really nicely as it features a daytime view of the leads stuck on the tower, while the SteelBook features the same sight at nighttime. The back features the vulture from the film, and the inside has gorgeous art that shows the height of the tower if held vertically. It’s a really nice upgrade from the Blu-ray that was released last year from a presentation and feature standpoint.

Fall 4K SteelBook Review: The Final Verdict

If you’re looking to own Fall, then this is the definitive version to get. Not only are you receiving a better-looking 4K release, you’re also getting a meaningful behind-the-scenes featurette. The thriller still delivers plenty of excitement and vertigo-inducing chills upon rewatch and is fun from start to finish.

Disclosure: The publisher provided a copy for our Fall 4K SteelBook review.

The post Fall 4K SteelBook Review: Best Buy Receives Definitive Unrated Release appeared first on - Movie Trailers, TV & Streaming News, and More.

- Abdul Azim Naushad
Peacock Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added
Peacock Schedule September 25-October 1

Peacock‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include a new episode of The Continental: From the World of John Wick, Malcolm D. Lee’s 2017 comedy film Girls Trip, and Martin Campbell’s action-thriller film The Protégé.

Starting on September 25, viewers can stream The Protégé, an action-thriller film starring Maggie Q as Anna, who as a child was rescued and trained by an assassin named Moody, eventually growing into a highly-accomplished assassin herself. However, Anna goes on a quest for vengeance when her mentor Moody is brutally murdered. The supporting cast of this film includes Hollywood veterans Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, and Robert Patrick.

Then on September 29, viewers can catch a new episode of The Continental: From the World of John Wick, a prequel to the John Wick films that focuses on a young Winston Scott and details how he became the proprietor of The Continental Hotel, a safe house for assassins of the John Wick franchise. Finally, on September 30, viewers can catch Girls Trip, a comedy film that focuses on four friends who reconnect at the Essence Music Festival after a long time apart.

Other releases set to take place between September 25 and October 1 include new episodes of Below Deck Mediterranean Season 8, Dateline Season 32, America’s Got Talent Season 18, and Snapped Season 32.

New Peacock releases for September 25-October 1

Below are all the new TV shows and movies being added to Peacock from September 25-October 1.

September 25 Ayman, Previous Day’s Episode (MSNBC) Days of Our Lives, Season 59, New Episode (Peacock Exclusive) Live From the Ryder Cup 2023 The Mehdi Hasan Show, New Episode (MSNBC) Morning Joe, New Episode Streaming Live (MSNBC) The Protégé, 2021 The Real Housewives of New York City, Season 14, New Episode (Bravo) Squawk Box, New Episode Streaming Live (CNBC) Symone, New Episode (MSNBC) TODAY (NBC) Watch What Happens Live, Season 20, New Episode (Bravo) When Calls the Heart, Season 10, New Episode (Hallmark) September 26 All In with Chris Hayes, Previous Day’s Episode (MSNBC) The Beat with Ari Melber, Previous Day’s Episode (MSNBC) Below Deck Mediterranean, Season 8, New Episode (Bravo) Couch Talk with Captain Lee and Kate, Season 1, New Episode (Bravo) Days of Our Lives, Season 59, New Episode (Peacock Exclusive)* Deadline: White House, Previous Day’s Episode (MSNBC) The Irrational, Season 1 Premiere (NBC) Live From the Ryder Cup 2023 Los 50, Season 1, New Episode (Telemundo) Morning Joe, New Episode Streaming Live (MSNBC) The ReidOut, Previous Day’s Episode (MSNBC) Secretos de Sangre, Season 1, New Episode (Telemundo) Snapped, Season 32, New Episode (Oxygen) Squawk Box, New Episode Streaming Live (CNBC) TODAY (NBC)~ The Voice, Season 24, New Episode (NBC) Watch What Happens Live, Season 20, New Episode (Bravo) September 27 All In with Chris Hayes, Previous Day’s Episode (MSNBC) America’s Got Talent, Season 18, New Episode (NBC) The Beat with Ari Melber, Previous Day’s Episode (MSNBC) Days of Our Lives, Season 59, New Episode (Peacock Exclusive) Deadline: White House, Previous Day’s Episode (MSNBC) Live From the Ryder Cup 2023 Morning Joe, New Episode Streaming Live (MSNBC) The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, Season 4, New Episode (Bravo) The ReidOut, Previous Day’s Episode (MSNBC) Rugby World Cup 2023 – Uruguay v. Namibia Squawk Box, New Episode Streaming Live (CNBC) Secretos de Sangre, Season 1, New Episode (Telemundo) TODAY (NBC) U.S Open Cup – Final (Spanish) The Voice, Season 24, New Episode (NBC) Watch What Happens Live, Season 20, New Episode (Bravo) September 28 All In with Chris Hayes, Previous Day’s Episode (MSNBC) America’s Got Talent, Season 18, New Episode (NBC) The Beat with Ari Melber, Previous Day’s Episode (MSNBC) Days of Our Lives, Season 59, New Episode (Peacock Exclusive) Deadline: White House, Previous Day’s Episode (MSNBC) Dino Pops, Season 1, New Episodes (Peacock Original) Inside with Jen Psaki, New Episode (MSNBC) Live From the Ryder Cup 2023 The Mehdi Hasan Show, New Episode (MSNBC) Morning Joe, New Episode Streaming Live (MSNBC) People’s Choice Country Awards People’s Choice Country Awards Backstage Rugby World Cup 2023 – Japan v. Samoa The Real Housewives of Orange County, Season 17, New Episode (Bravo) The ReidOut, Previous Day’s Episode (MSNBC) Secretos de Sangre, Season 1, New Episode (Telemundo) Squawk Box, New Episode Streaming Live (CNBC) TODAY (NBC) Watch What Happens Live, Season 20, New Episode (Bravo) September 29 All In with Chris Hayes, Previous Day’s Episode (MSNBC) The Beat with Ari Melber, Previous Day’s Episode (MSNBC) The Continental: From the World of John Wick, Night 2 (Peacock Original) Days of Our Lives, Season 1, New Episodes (Peacock Exclusive) Deadline: White House, Previous Day’s Episode (MSNBC) Live From the Ryder Cup 2023 LPGA Tour – Walmart NW Arkansas Championship – Round 1 Morning Joe, New Episode Streaming Live (MSNBC) The ReidOut, Previous Day’s Episode (MSNBC) Rugby World Cup 2023 – New Zealand v. Italy Secretos de Sangre, Season 1, New Episode (Telemundo) Southern Charm, Season 9, New Episode (Bravo) Squawk Box, New Episode Streaming Live (CNBC) TODAY (NBC) Watch What Happens Live, Season 20, New Episode (Bravo) September 30 All In with Chris Hayes, Previous Day’s Episode (MSNBC) The Beat with Ari Melber, Previous Day’s Episode (MSNBC) Big Ten College Football Dateline, Season 32, New Episode (NBC) Deadline: White House, Previous Day’s Episode (MSNBC) Girls Trip, 2017 Live From the Ryder Cup 2023 LPGA Tour Walmart NW Arkansas Championship – Round 2 Mystery Island, 2023 (Hallmark) Premier League Match Week 7 The ReidOut, Previous Day’s Episode (MSNBC) Rugby World Cup 2023 – Argentina v. Chile Rugby World Cup 2023 – Fiji v. Georgia Rugby World Cup 2023 – Scotland v. Romania Ryder Cup – Day 2 Secretos de Sangre, Season 1, New Episode (Telemundo) WWE – NXT No Mercy (English and Spanish)

October 1’s schedule is not available as it is currently unconfirmed.

Check out more streaming release schedules aside from Peacock below.

Amazon Prime Video Schedule September 25-October 1 Amazon Prime Video Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added Amazon Prime Video‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include Gen V, a superhero series that is… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 12 hours ago Peacock Schedule September 25-October 1 Peacock Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added Peacock‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include a new episode of The Continental: From the World… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 14 hours ago HBO Max Schedule September 25-October 1 HBO Max Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added HBO Max‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include the third season of Starstruck, American Masters: Marilyn… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 16 hours ago Paramount Plus Schedule September 25-October 1 Paramount Plus Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added Paramount Plus‘ new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include the fifth season of ALVINNN!!! and The Chipmunks,… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 19 hours ago Disney Plus Schedule September 25-October 1 Disney Plus Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added Disney Plus‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include the seventh episode of Star Wars: Ahsoka and… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 1 day ago

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- Neil Bolt
Shaun of the Dead Is an Adoring Monument to George A. Romero

In Edgar Wright’s classic sitcom Spaced, there was an episode (Art) where Tim (Simon Pegg) was obsessed with playing Resident Evil 2. He gets so engrossed in it that he cannot tell reality from fiction (the dose of amphetamines probably didn’t help either), and subsequently batters some arty types in his hallucinatory panic. It’s the strongest showing of Wright’s love for a particular zombie movie in the series, but there are tributes to George A. Romero littered everywhere in the show.

It’s little surprise that Wright’s first movie would take horror as a launch point. Shaun of the Dead took Wright’s love of Dawn of the Dead and fused it with his frenetic direction and comedy stylings. It became a smash hit and launched the movie career of star Simon Pegg. It’s a pop-culture reference machine gun with a barrage of nods to all kinds of media. However, it still manages to retain an identity of its own.

Life isn’t exactly on the up and up for Shaun (Simon Pegg). He lives with his layabout best friend Ed (Nick Frost), constantly neglects his girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield), and has issues with his stepdad Philip (Bill Nighy). After a bungled anniversary dinner, Liz dumps Shaun. He then vows to get his life back on track. Unfortunately, this is also the day the dead have decided to return to life. With a cricket bat and Ed by his side, Shaun sets out to rescue the people closest to him and head to the sanctuary of The Winchester.

The movie blends humor, heart, and horror with surprising ease, and much like its follow-up Hot Fuzz, it’s endlessly quotable.

Dead Good Tribute Credit: Universal

For fans of Romero, it’s a monument to the man’s Living Dead saga — from entire shots to little Easter Eggs. One of the earliest homages comes from our introduction to Shaun as he shuffles half-asleep into his kitchen in a mirror of Day of the Dead titles scene.

Shaun’s workplace is called Foree Electric in tribute to Dawn of the Dead’s Ken Foree. The aforementioned Winchester pulls double duty. It’s not only named after the rifle featured in Night of the Living Dead — there’s a real rifle inside, and you’d better believe it gets used to splatter some undead craniums.

There are even musical cues, as Goblin’s Dawn of the Dead score plays over the Universal logo and later during a planning sequence. Dawn’s memorable closing song, The Gonk, also plays right at the very end of Shaun of the Dead’s credits.

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That’s just the tip of the iceberg stuff. There are far more subtle homages, tributes, and nods to the late director’s work. Even some that flew over his head, such as the ”We’re coming to get you, Barbara” line. Romero liked the movie so much, he invited Wright and Pegg to play cameo roles in Land of the Dead as a pair of undead.

As much as Wright’s body of work has lived in more comedic waters, it’s a shame he didn’t get a crack at filming — or just participating in the lost Romero film Twilight of the Dead.

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- Abdul Azim Naushad
HBO Max Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added
HBO Max Schedule September 25-October 1

HBO Max‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include the third season of Starstruck, American Masters: Marilyn Monroe: Still Life, and an HBO Original documentary series Savior Complex.

Starting on September 25, viewers can start streaming American Masters: Marilyn Monroe: Still Life on HBO Max via the PBS channel. This biographical documentary series will explore the life of iconic sex symbol and actress, Marilyn Monroe via photographs and also go into detail about her roles in films like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Some Like It Hot, and The Seven Year Itch. This documentary will also explore her romantic life and her various love affairs.

Then on September 26, viewers can stream the HBO Original Savior Complex, which will explore the case of Serving His Children (SHC), a non-profit organization (NGO) founded by Renee Bachs, which faced allegations of recklessness and incompetency when Bachs was found to be treating children without a medical qualification, which resulted in the children’s deaths under the SHC’s watch.

Finally, on September 28, viewers can start streaming the third season of Starstruck, a BBC Comedy series that revolves around Jessie, a New Zealander in her 20s living in London and working jobs at the cinema and as a nanny, who faces the shock of her life when she learns that she slept with a famous movie star Tom Kapoor on New Year’s Eve.

Other releases set to take place on HBO Max between September 25 and October 1 include Chopped: Volume 2 (via Food Network), Crimes Gone Viral: Season 3 (via ID), and Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace? Season 4 (CNN).

New HBO Max releases for September 25-October 1?

Below are all the new TV shows and movies being added to HBO Max from September 25-October 1.

September 25 American Masters: Marilyn Monroe: Still Life (PBS) Halloween Cookie Challenge, Season 2 (Food Network) Kids Baking Championship: Bloodcurdling Bakes (Food Network) September 26 Chopped: Volume 3 (Food Network) Savior Complex (HBO Original) September 27 Crimes Gone Viral, Season 3 (ID) September 28 Starstruck, Season 3 (Max Original) The Ghost Town Terror, Season 2 (Travel Channel) September 29 Who’s Talking To Chris Wallace? Season 4 (CNN) September 30 Hot Dish With Franco (Food Network)

October 1’s schedule is currently unconfirmed as of this writing.

Check out more streaming release schedules aside from HBO Max below.

Amazon Prime Video Schedule September 25-October 1 Amazon Prime Video Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added Amazon Prime Video‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include Gen V, a superhero series that is… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 12 hours ago Peacock Schedule September 25-October 1 Peacock Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added Peacock‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include a new episode of The Continental: From the World… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 14 hours ago HBO Max Schedule September 25-October 1 HBO Max Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added HBO Max‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include the third season of Starstruck, American Masters: Marilyn… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 16 hours ago Paramount Plus Schedule September 25-October 1 Paramount Plus Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added Paramount Plus‘ new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include the fifth season of ALVINNN!!! and The Chipmunks,… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 19 hours ago Disney Plus Schedule September 25-October 1 Disney Plus Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added Disney Plus‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include the seventh episode of Star Wars: Ahsoka and… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 1 day ago

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- Spencer Legacy
Spawn Interview: Todd McFarlane on Bringing the Iconic Hero to Call of Duty
Todd McFarlane Spawn Call of Duty(Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

ComingSoon Senior Editor Spencer Legacy spoke with Spawn creator Todd McFarlane about the character’s crossover with Call of Duty for Season 6. McFarlane discussed why Spawn works so well in crossovers and Keith David‘s iconic performance as the character.

“A deal with the devil is fulfilled in Season 06’s Battle Pass,” reads the collaboration’s description. “Witness U.S. Security Group assassin Al Simmons’ transformation into the legendary antihero Spawn. Unlock further Spawn-themed rewards and Operator Skins throughout the pass, including additional visitors from the Underworld.”

(Photo Credit: Activision)

Spencer Legacy: In your eyes, what made Call of Duty a good fit for Spawn?

Todd McFarlane: Well, let’s talk about the character himself. Right underneath the mask in the costume is a guy named Al Simmons — more specifically, Lieutenant Colonel Al Simmons. So literally since issue number one, there’s been the presence of military in the mythology of this character. So, besides him being popular on the comic book front for 30 years. There’s a natural military aspect that I think probably makes him a little bit easier and more seamless to integrate into the Call of Duty game than if you were parachuting other licensed products into it.

So when we were having a conversation with the dev team, we spoke about that more, instead of it just being Spawn or Spawn with big guns. There are iterations — not only in the comic book, but on the toy side of him — as Commando Spawn, decked out in his Desert Storm look, his military looks, and then Al Simmons himself, pre-becoming Spawn; he was just a badass in the military.

He was in the Special Ops. So I think when everybody thought about it, I think they came in with, “Hey, let’s just do a Spawn. It’d be cool.” And then we sort of expanded out, which is why it’s not just the OG Spawn — it’s Spawn and a couple different looks, a couple different characters, and then even some of the Call of Duty characters with “cosplay paint jobs” of Spawn on them.

What was the process of picking which Spawn looks and characters you really wanted to include like?

Well, every week we have a meeting and they show me the progress. As a matter of fact, I was just in L.A. at the office there and got to see it all up close and personal for the first time a couple days ago. After this phone call, we’ve got our weekly call. So the first couple of meetings, they just bombarded me with, “Hey, here’s a bunch of what ifs. What do you think?” My comments were a couple aesthetics and a little bit of asking them to just push it even further, saying, “Don’t be so safe with the character. Don’t worry about being loyal and making it consistent with the comic books or whatever. Make it so that it plays really well and he fits really well as much as possible in Call of Duty.”

So that the vast majority of players who’ve never heard of the character will still be drawn to him and, in some cases, may pick him to play and, at some point, will become one of their favorites to play. They have no idea that he was a comic book character, toy character, movie character, or anything else. They just think he’s a great video game character. That’s the victory.

This isn’t the first time Spawn’s crossed over — there are games like Soulcalibur II and Mortal Kombat 11 and lots of comic crossovers. What do you think makes him, as a character, so adaptable and so easy to fit in with other different franchises?

I think a couple things. One: I’ve had the good fortune of Spawn been around for 30 years. When a brand that has decades long legacies behind them, your value now is through attrition, right? I know a lot about the Kardashians and I don’t even read about them. [Laughs]. And somehow they’re in my head.

On the comic book front, you can’t really get your hands on a lot of the Marvel and DC characters because they’re owned by Disney and Warner Brothers. So I think he’s by far the number one option once you go outside those two. He’s got, as I mentioned before, the military thing in there, and I’m not a public company and I can give a lot of flexibility to the developers and the art teams to basically have as much fun as possible so that they’re not having to follow my rules. If anything, my rule is that there are no rules, and I say it out loud as much as possible in every meeting, to keep pushing and pushing and pushing to let them have as much fun as they can.

To me, we’ve got to do something that works for the video game, period. Don’t let a tail wag a do, and the comic books and the toys and the movies and animation — those are tales. Just do the video game upright. Do the character upright as a Call of Duty character, even forgetting that he’d been in any other video games prior. Just focus on that. What’s the best iteration of Spawn in Call of Duty? That’s the goal. Go.

Spawn’s also been portrayed by quite a few people, but what do you think an actor needs to really have or understand to really nail the character?

That he doesn’t really have much of a sense of humor. He’s pretty deadly serious and has a little bit of that sort of Outlaw Josey Wales attitude that you do and you leave and you don’t really talk much, right? You let your actions do your talking for you. So he’s a bit of a gunslinger. He’s a badass, right? I don’t know, I was drawn to those characters when I was younger. The guys that were called the vigilantes or whatever that sort of worked outside of the normal perfect way that Superman did everything politely. I like the guys that are rough around the edges — the bad boys. I think that’s part of his charm to a lot of people, also.

Before the strikes, the Jamie Foxx-led Spawn movie was underway. Does he have those qualities and how are you feeling about that?

Until Jamie says he can’t, he’s still my guy. I’m very loyal to people, and Jamie was my guy and has been my guy. He’s had a bit of a setback and he says he’s going to get back to the top of the mountain. I have no doubt. I know Jamie — he is a very strong-willed, determined human being. So he tells me, “Don’t worry about me, Todd. I’ll be there when the bell rings. I’ll be there.” So I have complete and utter confidence.

I can’t wait to see him do it. Another person who’s famously played Spawn is Keith David, and back in 2017, he said it was one of his three favorite roles ever. How does it feel to hear him have such pride in voicing a character you made and who’s so close to you?

His version actually ended up being so good that like, I can’t hear anybody else’s voice. Whenever I hear … even when he’s doing another character, even when he’s in another movie and I hear it, I go, “Oh, Spawn!” Then I have to go, “No, it’s Keith, David.” So I’ve sort of stolen Keith David’s persona to make it Spawn’s, but if you like Keith David’s voice, I think you will be quite pleased with what’s happening in Call of Duty.

Those live-action introductions you did before the HBO Spawn episodes took off online a few years ago. People really liked rewatching those, so what was that like to see come back and what was filming those like?

Yeah, interestingly, the guy who filmed them was a roommate of one of the HBO executives. He had done a couple commercials, and so he said, “Hey, can he come and film them?” And then next thing I know, I see his name and he’s doing huge blockbusters, and I’m like, “What Doug Lihman? He what? He was just this roommate of somebody. Now he’s doing massive blockbuster movies. Wow. I got him when he was still a nobody. Look at him, he’s a big shot.”

But he was fun to do and we came up with the hook of “turn out the lights,” because I think even video games should be sort of played the same way that the only light — which is why theaters work so well — the only light should be coming from the movie itself and from the action and what you’re focused on itself.

When I watch TV, I’m always turning off all the lights in my house. Sometimes some of the other people in the house are going, “Why do you always have the lights off?” I just don’t want to be distracted by anything. I just want to be the only motion. The only thing is that thing that’s square in the center. I think video games are valuable that way too. That’s why my son plays until the middle of the night, because I think he turns his lights off too and just gets absorbed into it.

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- Abdul Azim Naushad
Paramount Plus Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added
Paramount Plus Schedule September 25-October 1

Paramount Plus‘ new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include the fifth season of ALVINNN!!! and The Chipmunks, Survivor Season 45, and The Amazing Race Season 35.

Starting on September 27, viewers can stream the fifth season of ALVINNN!!! and The Chipmunks. This animated musical comedy series features not only the chipmunks, Alvin, Simon, and Theodore, but also the Chippettes Britanny, Jeannette, and Eleanor. This series focuses on David Seville’s attempts to manage both the Chipmunks and the Chippettes while raising them. Though it’s based on a classic cartoon, it’s set in the modern day with plenty of modern-day problems mingled in with the comedy, including problems with technology and the dating lives of single parents.

Also on September 27, viewers can stream the 45th season of Survivor, a veteran reality TV series hosted by Jeff Probst. The 45th season of this reality TV series will see Probst bring 18 castaways to the Fiji Islands, where he will make each of them compete with one another through risky and intense competitions and make one of them emerge as the sole survivor, who will win a prize of 1 million dollars.

Again on September 27, viewers can stream the 35th season of The Amazing Race, a reality competition series that sees multiple teams embark on a trek around the world to exotic destinations where they must compete in a series of challenges, both mental and physical taxing to learn of new locations they must go to. Teams who are far behind and lagging during the challenges will be eliminated as the competitions progress and the teams who make it to the final destination before other teams will win the race and receive a prize of $1 million.

New Paramount Plus releases for September 25-October 1

Below are all the new TV shows and movies being added to Paramount Plus from September 25-October 1.

September 26 72 Seconds Premiere September 27 ALVINNN!!! and The Chipmunks (Season 5) Survivor Season 45 (Via Paramount+ with SHOWTIME) The Amazing Race Season 35 (Via Paramount+ with SHOWTIME)

October 1’s release schedule is unavailable at the time of writing as it is unconfirmed.

Check out more streaming release schedules aside from Paramount Plus below.

Amazon Prime Video Schedule September 25-October 1 Amazon Prime Video Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added Amazon Prime Video‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include Gen V, a superhero series that is… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 12 hours ago Peacock Schedule September 25-October 1 Peacock Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added Peacock‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include a new episode of The Continental: From the World… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 14 hours ago HBO Max Schedule September 25-October 1 HBO Max Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added HBO Max‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include the third season of Starstruck, American Masters: Marilyn… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 16 hours ago Paramount Plus Schedule September 25-October 1 Paramount Plus Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added Paramount Plus‘ new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include the fifth season of ALVINNN!!! and The Chipmunks,… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 19 hours ago Disney Plus Schedule September 25-October 1 Disney Plus Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added Disney Plus‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include the seventh episode of Star Wars: Ahsoka and… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 1 day ago

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- Carly Levy
Your Lucky Day Director Honors Late Star Angus Cloud Ahead of Film’s Release
Angus Cloud as Fezco in EuphoriaPhoto Credit- HBO

July 31 was a sad day when the world found out that Euphoria’s Angus Cloud passed away at age 25. One of his films getting a post-humous release will be the crime thriller Your Lucky Day with director Dan Brown honoring the late actor.

Angus Cloud’s cause of death was an accidental overdose of methamphetamine, cocaine, fentanyl, and benzodiazepines. When an actor dies so young, you wonder what direction their life would have gone in as they got older. Dan Brown, the director of Cloud’s posthumous released movie Your Lucky Day, told Variety that he was looking forward to collaborating more with the 25-year-old.

“Maybe because I am a dad, I think about directing a little bit as being a dad to your cast. You’re there to take care of them,” Brown explained. “So I was imagining the future. I thought we would watch the movie together, and I could say to Angus, ‘Hey, look how great you are.’ I was hoping it would get him more parts. I was hoping I would see him in other things.”

It’s truly heartbreaking to wonder what could have been for Angus Cloud. He was an exceptional talent on Euphoria playing Fezco, a drug dealer with a heart of gold. In fact, his role in Your Lucky Day will be similar as he played a low-level street thug who steals the winning lottery ticket after accidentally killing its owner in a convenience store shootout. The director/writer revealed one wish he had for his upcoming movie.

“You know, you don’t make a small movie for no one to see it. So I just have all this wealth of responsibility for people to see it for him. I just hoped he would have loved it. And I hoped he would be proud of himself.”

How Did Angus Cloud Get the Role in Your Lucky Day?

During Angus Cloud’s time in Euphoria, he only had the coming-of-age movie North Hollywood under his belt. So, why did Dan Brown decide the young actor was perfect for his lead? It’s actually after showing the script to his wife, who watched all episodes of Euphoria. She recommended he pick “Fezco” to play Sterling. When casting calls were sent out, Brown was very happy to see Cloud’s name on the list. Even though the director saw a lot of audition tapes and considered alternatives, Brown still felt Cloud was the right man for the role. One Zoom meeting later, this television star would be playing his first film lead role.

“We always talk about acting as listening. And I think Angus did that better than almost anyone I’ve ever seen. People would say their lines, and then he sort of would take that in and react to it. As if he had just heard it himself,” said Brown.

The last text message Dan Brown sent to Angus Cloud was that Your Lucky Day would premiere at Fantastic Fest. Brown’s movie wrapped up when heard about Cloud passing away a couple of weeks after his 25th birthday. After his death, the indie film director decided his movie would not be complete without the words “For Angus” concluding the movie.

“It’s not really even mine anymore,” says Brown. “It’s really for him.”

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- Vansh Mehra
Jujutsu Kaisen Chapter 237 Release Date, Time, & Where to Read JJK Manga
Jujutsu Kaisen Chapter 237 Release Date

The Jujutsu Kaisen Chapter 237 release date and time have been revealed. After Gojo vs. Sukuna ended with Gojo emerging victorious, Chapter 236 began a new arc. However, it also saw Gojo admit that Sukuna didn’t give it all he had, something which all the readers suspected while reading Chapter 235. It will be interesting to see what Akutami has in store for us in the next installment.

Here’s when the next chapter of Jujutsu Kaisen comes out.

When is the Jujutsu Kaisen Chapter 237 release date & time?

Jujutsu Kaisen Chapter 237 release date is expected to be on Sunday, October 1, 2023.

Buy Jujutsu manga on Amazon

Jujutsu Kaisen Chapter 237 release time in the US based on past release patterns is:

7 AM PT 10 AM ET

Meanwhile, it should arrive in Japan on Monday, October 2 at 12 am JST.

Where to read the JJK manga

Fans can read Jujutsu Kaisen chapter 237 digitally on Viz Media’s official website, Shueisha’s MangaPlus website, Shonen Jump+ app, and MangaPlus App.

The entire Manga is available to read on apps like Shonen Jump. To subscribe, you could pay $2.99 a month and even get a 7-day free trial before the charges become applicable. The app will enable you to read several other Manga titles including One Punch Man, One Piece, Naruto, My Hero Academia along with JJK.

Jujutsu Kaisen Chapter 237 Release Date

After Chapter 236 shows the death of the extremely important character, Gojo, at the hands of Mahoraga, it will be interesting to see how Akutami moves forward with the narrative.

This demise comes as a major gut punch to the readers who just saw Gojo win rather convincingly against Sukuna. Whether Gojo could be brought back in later chapters remains to be seen. But his incoming death could be the reason why he got to win so easily against Sukuna.

 For more Jujutsu Kaisen updates, check out when the anime’s third season could arrive.

Amazon Prime Video Schedule September 25-October 1 Amazon Prime Video Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added Amazon Prime Video‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include Gen V, a superhero series that is… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 12 hours ago Peacock Schedule September 25-October 1 Peacock Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added Peacock‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include a new episode of The Continental: From the World… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 14 hours ago HBO Max Schedule September 25-October 1 HBO Max Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added HBO Max‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include the third season of Starstruck, American Masters: Marilyn… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 16 hours ago Paramount Plus Schedule September 25-October 1 Paramount Plus Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added Paramount Plus‘ new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include the fifth season of ALVINNN!!! and The Chipmunks,… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 19 hours ago Disney Plus Schedule September 25-October 1 Disney Plus Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added Disney Plus‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include the seventh episode of Star Wars: Ahsoka and… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 1 day ago Netflix Schedule September 25-October 1 Netflix Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added Netflix‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include Castlevania: Nocturne, Choona, Power Rangers: Cosmic Fury, and The… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 2 days ago

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- Abdul Azim Naushad
Disney Plus Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added
Disney Plus Schedule September 25-October 1

Disney Plus‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include the seventh episode of Star Wars: Ahsoka and a new Marvel Studios Legends episode revolving around Loki Season 2.

Starting on September 26, viewers can catch the seventh episode of Star Wars: Ahsoka, a live-action miniseries that revolves around Ahsoka Tano, the former Jedi apprentice of Anakin Skywalker who investigates a rising threat in the galaxy following the demise of the Galactic Empire. The episode will continue from where the sixth episode left off, which saw Sabine Wren finally finding and reuniting with Ezra Bridger, while Grand Admiral Thrawn prepared for his eventual battle with Ahsoka Tano. Ahsoka features Rosario Dawson in the lead role of Tano, alongside a supporting cast that includes Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ray Stevenson, Ivanna Sakhno, Diana Lee Inosanto, Eman Esfandi, and Lars Mikkelsen.

Then on September 29, viewers can catch a new episode of Marvel Studios’ documentary series, Legends which will revolve around Loki, which will offer more insight into Tom Hiddleston’s Loki as well as show the behind-the-scenes production of Loki Season 1 and presumably Season 2 and likely also explain more of the concept revolving around the Time Variance Authority and how the creators came up with the fictional organization.

Other releases set to take place on Disney Plus between September 25 and October 1 include eight episodes of To Catch a Smuggler Season 5, six episodes of Pupstruction Season 1, and the second season of episodic shorts of Disney’s Launchpad.

New Disney Plus releases for September 25-October 1

Below are all the new TV shows and movies being added to Disney Plus from September 25 to October 1.

September 26 Star Wars: Ahsoka – Episode 7 September 27 To Catch a Smuggler Season 5 (8 episodes) Pupstruction: Season 1 (6 episodes) September 29 Marvel Studios Legends: Loki Disney’s Launchpad Season 2 (New Shorts) October 1 Toy Story Funday Football

Check out more streaming release schedules aside from Disney Plus below.

Amazon Prime Video Schedule September 25-October 1 Amazon Prime Video Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added Amazon Prime Video‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include Gen V, a superhero series that is… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 12 hours ago Peacock Schedule September 25-October 1 Peacock Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added Peacock‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include a new episode of The Continental: From the World… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 14 hours ago HBO Max Schedule September 25-October 1 HBO Max Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added HBO Max‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include the third season of Starstruck, American Masters: Marilyn… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 16 hours ago Paramount Plus Schedule September 25-October 1 Paramount Plus Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added Paramount Plus‘ new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include the fifth season of ALVINNN!!! and The Chipmunks,… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 19 hours ago Disney Plus Schedule September 25-October 1 Disney Plus Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added Disney Plus‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include the seventh episode of Star Wars: Ahsoka and… Guides Abdul Azim Naushad 1 day ago

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- Tyler Treese
Past Lives Blu-ray Review: Celine Song’s Debut Is a Must Buy
Past Lives Blu-ray review(Photo Credit: A24)

Celine Song’s directorial debut was already my favorite movie of 2023 so far, but the Past Lives Blu-ray made me appreciate it even more. Featuring an informative commentary track, a great making-of featurette, and a handful of deleted scenes, the home video release is worth every penny. The film itself is even more impactful upon rewatch, with it being a thought-provoking and wonderful exploration of love, fate, and the “what ifs” that fill our lives.

Buy Past Lives on Blu-ray

“Nora and Hae Sung, two deeply connected childhood friends, are wrested apart after Nora’s family emigrates from South Korea,” reads the synopsis. “Two decades later, they are reunited in New York for one fateful week as they confront notions of destiny, love, and the choices that make a life, in this heartrending modern romance.”

Past Lives is anchored by an incredible performance by Greta Lee, who has a natural chemistry with co-star Teo Yoo and delivers one of the best scenes of the year during the film’s penultimate scene. Lee’s performance is particularly effective during the little moments that show that Nora is happy and comfortable in her current life, but who could possibly not flirt with the allure of what could have been? Beautiful New York City scenery coupled with raw emotion is a winning combination that really shines through.

The movie’s title is a reference to “in-yun,” a South Korean word referencing the shared fate that impacts our relationships with others. It’s an idea that we meet the same people in each life, interacting with them in different manners. A lover might just be a stranger that you barely notice in another lifetime. “If two people get married, they say it’s because there have been 8,000 layers of in-yun, over 8,000 lifetimes,” Nora explains during the film. It’s an endlessly fascinating subject. One that encaptures a bond that is hampered by both Nora and Hae Sung being at different places in their lives despite their shared connection.

There are plenty of special features that are worth checking out here. “Bound by Fate,” a 17-minute featurette that shows some great behind-the-scenes footage alongside Song and the stars discussing the film, is nicely edited and an intriguing watch. It also reveals the real-life inspiration for the movie, which Song explains and is really sweet. The five deleted scenes range from OK to interesting (a subway sequence is the most intriguing of them), although the film really didn’t lose anything by not including them.

However, the big value add is the commentary track that features Song, Lee, and Yoo discussing the film, sharing great stories from production (Yoo has a group chat with the actors that play his Korean drinking friends), and exploring its themes. Particular highlights are the stories of filming scenes in South Korea from Song and Yoo, who explain some of the differences between how American and South Korean films are filmed, and the behind-the-scene details on how the Skype calls with internet issues were shot. These are exactly the types of details that inform viewers, helping them gain context and further appreciation for all aspects of the film. I can’t recommend it enough.

Past Lives Blu-ray Review: The Final Verdict

While the film is truly special and is worth owning on its own merit, it’s the bonus features that make the Past Lives Blu-ray as easy a recommendation as possible. Song has delivered one of 2023’s best movies and one that you will want to keep revisiting over time.

Disclosure: The publisher provided a copy for our Past Lives Blu-ray review.

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- Abdul Azim Naushad
Netflix Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added
Netflix Schedule September 25-October 1

Netflix‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include Castlevania: Nocturne, Choona, Power Rangers: Cosmic Fury, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

Starting on September 28, viewers can stream Castlevania: Nocturne on Netflix. This animated adult dark fantasy series will be an adaptation of the Castlevania video games, Castlevania: Rondo of Blood and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. The story will be set in a fictionalized version of the French Revolution time period and follow Richter Belmont, a descendant of the Belmont vampire-hunting clan who joins forces with a group of vampire hunters in order to prevent a deadly apocalypse from happening.

Then on September 29, viewers can stream the Indian heist-comedy series Choona, which follows a group of misfits who team up to take revenge on one common enemy who wronged each of them: a ruthless yet superstitious politician. The cast of this series will include Jimmy Shergill, Arshad Warsi, Aashim Gulati, Namit Das, Chandan Roy, and Niharika Lyra Dutt. Also, on September 29, viewers can stream the thirteenth overall season of Power Rangers called Power Rangers: Cosmic Fury.

Then, finally, on October 1, 2023, viewers can stream Andrew Garfield’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2. The film sees Peter Parker try to maintain his relationship with Gwen Stacy while encountering three new foes, Electro, Rhino, and the Green Goblin.

Other releases set to take place on Netflix from September 25-October 1 include Little Baby Bum: Music Time, Who Killed Jill Dando?, Encounters, and Love is in the Air.

New Netflix releases for September 25-October 1

Below are all the new TV shows and movies being added to Netflix from September 25-October 1.

September 25 Little Baby Bum: Music Time September 26 Who Killed Jill Dando? September 27 Encounters Overhaul (Brazil) Street Flow 2 (France) September 28 Castlevania: Nocturne Love is in the Air (Australia) The Darkness within La Luz del Mundo (Mexico) September 29 Choona (India) Do Not Disturb (Turkey) Love Is Blind: Season 5 Nowhere (Spain) Power Rangers Cosmic Fury October 1 60 Days In Season 4 Blessers (2019) Django Season 1 Identity Thief (2013) Miss Juneteenth (2020) Las Vegas (2013) One Piece Anime – New Seasons Pompeii (2014) The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) The Monuments Men (2014) The Night Logan Woke Up Season 1

Check out more streaming release schedules aside from Netflix below.

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- Neil Bolt
Corpse Bride Escaped the Long Shadow of Tim Burton’s Most Famous Animated Adventure
Credit: Warner Bros.

While not entirely his baby, The Nightmare Before Christmas is forever associated with Tim Burton, and it’s one of the movies most think of when mentioning the veteran director.

For years, there was talk of Burton returning to stop motion. It had been an early passion, after all. A tumultuous time in the years since that movie’s release saw Burton’s star burning a little less bright thanks to flops both fair (Planet of the Apes) and unfair (Mars Attacks!). However, Burton could still create beautiful and odd films such as Big Fish and Sleepy Hollow, so it was time to make that long-awaited sojourn to stop-motion.

Corpse Bride, co-directed by Mike Johnson, is a typically Burton piece, even more naturally so than The Nightmare Before Christmas. Set in a 19th-century European village, it follows the story of Victor, a young man whisked away to the underworld and wed to a mysterious corpse bride, while his real bride, Victoria waits bereft in the land of the living.

The characters and settings capture that signature style seen in Burton’s earlier drawings and animations. Victor especially looks like a ”Johnny Depp in a Tim Burton film. Unsurprisingly, he sounds like it, too, as Depp once again teamed up with Burton. It was the second of their collaborations in that year alone after Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It marked his first time voice acting for a theatrical film. Depp and Burton were doing both films together, so Depp was Willy Wonka by day and Victor by night.

The cast is an impressive one, filled with familiar voices. Beyond Depp, Burton’s then-wife Helena Bonham-Carter, Christopher Lee, Richard E. Grant, Albert Finney, Emily Watson, and Tracey Ullman were among the roster. Lee had also worked with Burton on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and having his grave tones in the movie added to the gothic atmosphere of the 19th-century village.

Like Clockwork Credit: Warner Bros.

Technology had come a long way since Nightmare, and the models were much more intricate. Their facial expressions were controlled by clockwork mechanisms that were almost as painstaking as the old replaceable heads. One crew member described having nightmares about his own face being controlled by clockwork after interacting with the mechanisms so much.

Much has been made of Burton’s input into The Nightmare Before Christmas and the omission of Henry Selick in promotional materials in recent years. Burton was more receptive to sharing duties and credit on Corpse Bride. He explained the process was quite different from Nightmare.

In a 2005 interview, Burton said, “The difference on that was that one I had designed completely. It was a very completed package in my mind. I felt like it was there. I felt more comfortable with it. With this, it was a bit more organic. It was based on an old folk tale. We kept kind of changing it, but, you know, I had a great co-director with Mike Johnson. I feel like we complemented each other quite well. It was just a different movie, a different process.”

The result was a beautifully, meticulously crafted film that told a better story with a broader range of strong characters than Nightmare. If it fell down anywhere, it was against Nightmare’s strongest suit, the songs. Corpse Bride’s musical numbers were visually interesting, but nothing is as memorable as This Is Halloween or What’s This?

Still, Corpse Bride is different enough to escape the long shadow of Burton’s festive favorite. Its rich gothic European atmosphere and quintessential Burton quirks make it one of the purest distillations of the director’s vision at the time. Which is surprising when it was far more collaborative than previous work.

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Hulu Schedule September 25-October 1: New TV Shows & Movies Being Added
Hulu Schedule September 25-October 1

Hulu‘s new TV and movie releases for September 25-October 1 include Krapopolis, a new animated sitcom from Dan Harmon, Ben Affleck’s 2016 film, The Accountant, and the 22nd season of Gordon Ramsay’s cooking competition show, Hell’s Kitchen.

Starting on September 25, viewers can start streaming Krapopolis, an adult-animated sitcom series created by Dan Harmon of Community fame. This show will be set in Ancient Greece and revolves around a family of gods, humans, and monsters who try to run of the world’s first cities without getting in each other’s way.

Then on September 28, viewers can start streaming The Accountant. This action-thriller stars Ben Affleck as a forensic accountant with high-functioning autism who makes a living by uncooking the financial books of criminal and terrorist organizations around the world that are facing internal embezzlement. Then on September 29, viewers can see various talented cooks compete in a new season of Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen.

Other releases set to take place between September 25 and October 1 include the tenth season of The Masked Singer, the fourth season of Lego Masters, and the complete first season of Surviving Marriage.

New Hulu releases for September 25-October 1

Below are all the new TV shows and movies being added to Hulu from September 25-October 1.

September 25 Krapopolis: Series Premiere September 26 Kitchen Nightmares: Season 8 Premiere Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test: Season 2 Premiere September 27 Love in Fairhope Complete Season 1 September 28 The Kardashians: Season 4 Premiere The Masked Singer: Season 10 Premiere Snake Oil: Series Premiere Abducted: The Mary Stauffer Story Rachael Ray’s Italian Dream Home: Complete Season 1 Storage Wars: Complete Seasons 1-2 Surviving Marriage: Complete Season 1 They Took Our Child: We Got Her Back: Complete Season 1 The Accountant (2016) September 29 Hell’s Kitchen: Season 22 Premiere Lego Masters: Season 4 Premiere RuPaul’s Drag Race: Complete Season 10 Sweetwater (2023) October 1 The Amazing Race: Complete Season 22 America’s Next Top Model: Complete Seasons 4-5, 9-10 Ash vs. Evil Dead: Complete Series Crazy Fun Park: Complete Limited Series Stephen King’s Rose Red: Complete Series Survivor: Complete Seasons 2-7 Sword Art Online: Alicization: Complete Season 2 (DUBBED) Undercover Boss: Complete Season 9 21 & Over 50 First Dates Abduction An American Citizen Beyond JFK Bogus Ceremony Daybreakers Dark Shadows Dazed and Confused Devil’s Due Die Hard 2 Don’t Say A Word The Double Driven Easy A The Empty Man Exorcism Of Emily Rose Exorcist: The Beginning The Extra Man Fat Albert Fighting FoodInc. Flight Of The Phoenix Funny People Godzilla 2000 Godzilla: Final Wars Godzilla (1998) Good Day To Be Black And Sexy Hanna Hollywood Homicide The Hunter Interview With the Vampire It (Stephen King’s) Leprechaun Leprechaun II Leprechaun III Leprechaun 4: Lost In Space Leprechaun V: In The Hood Leprechaun VI: Back 2 Tha Hood Leprechaun Origins Leprechaun Returns Little Miss Sunshine Mona Lisa Smile Murder on the Orient Express (2017) The New Age Nightmare Alley (2021) Nobody Walks Oblivion The Omen (2006) Ondine Outrage: Way of the Yakuza Perfect Stranger Phone Booth Pusher II: With Blood On My Hands Pusher III: I’m The Angel Of Death Pusher I Q & A Rudy The Sacrament Shaun Of The Dead Sleepless in Seattle Stoker Sunchaser Stripper Synchronicity That Night Todo Cambia Tower Heist Turtle Beach Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married? Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too? Underwater Pain & Gain Star Trek (2009) Tropic Thunder It Chapter Two Doctor Sleep

Check out more streaming release schedules aside from Hulu below.

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Today's Wordle Answer & Hints for September 25, 2023 (Puzzle #828)

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Warning: spoilers ahead for Daryl Dixon.

- Charles Nicholas Raymond
Walking Dead's Laurent Father Twist Makes Daryl & Merle's Backstory Even Sadder

Warning: Spoilers for The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon episode 3

- David Jenkins
Ex-Husbands – first-look review

After Hours reunion!! It’s been nearly 40 years since Griffin Dunne was seen puzzling over the plaster-of-Paris bagel-shaped paperweights manufactured by Rosanna Arquette’s roommate in Martin Scorsese’s riotous 1985 all-nighter.

They book a return meeting in Noah Pritzker’s altogether more gentle and maturely reflective Ex-Husbands, essaying a recently-divorced couple who are teetering on retirement age and grappling with the precipitous home-straight of life on Earth. Not that we see much of Arquette, as she slinks into the backdrop of a film (clue’s in the title) that focuses almost exclusively on male anxiety and the wistful, self-annihilating desires of XY chromosome types.

It’s worth saying from the off that, casting choices aside, that’s the only thing that Mr Plitzker has purloined from Mr Scorsese, as this is a film that takes things very slow and steady, with a soundtrack of AM radio toe tappers and a script that trades heated conflict for goofily-reasoned discourse and homespun domestic philsophies. The best way to describe it is that it resembles a Noah Baumbach film, had Baumbach been writing while dosed on heavy sedatives which served to negate his blackly-cynical worldview.

Dunne plays Peter, a doddery New York dentist with a still-gorgeous head of hair who is shocked by the fact that his elderly father has decided to divorce with a crazed view to taking one last shot of finding true love. Six years later, he too is decorating his own bachelor pad, finding himself out on his ear at the behest of his wife (Arquette). His eldest, Nick (James Norton) is a depressive wastrel who’s in the process of torpedoing his own engagement to betrothed, Thea. While younger, recently-outed Mickey (Miles Heizer) tries to stay sane as his family members all melt down around him and he’s having trouble hooking up in a meaningful way.

Ex-Husbands is a risk-averse comedy of generational malaise that still manages to charm via its easy interactions and doleful performances. Peter gifts his father a framed poster of Ernst Lubitsch’s über-farce, To Be or Not to Be, and there are hints of that film early on when it turns out that Peter accidentally booked the same resort in Tulum that Nick and his squad were headed to for a bachelor party, that things are headed in a similarly screwball direction. Contrived set-up aside, there are no more curious coincidences or wild plot machinations, as Peter and the boys have a pleasant, uneventful time together, reflecting on their failures and attempting, often unsuccessfully, to boost collective morale.

Dunne in particular makes for a compelling lead, his character never really presenting as the annoying, self-involved derp that his family claim he is. And the film is all the better for its measured approach to characterisation rather than dumping lots of comic challenges on the players’ laps. Peter’s obsessive dark side only emerges right at the end, when his dedication to the institution of marriage – even for divorcees – is presented in a chillingly eccentric coda.

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- David Jenkins
MMXX – first-look review

A quartet of narrative fragments unfold in the shape of an exquisite corpse in MMXX, the loquacious latest from the great Romanian auteur Cristi Puiu. The title is the roman numeral equivalent of 2020, and this is a film which appears to extend some of the gripes that the writer-director publicly aired while promoting his (superlative) previous feature, Malmkrog, in the period when the pandemic had initially plateaued and film festivals were once more open for socially-distanced business. 

Originally he was angered with the top-down ramifications of blindly abiding by government health procedure, particularly in a country where most could still smell the vapours of the totalitarian Ceaușescu regime that was toppled in 1989. This is not an outright propaganda film, and Puiu is such a skilled and subtle dramatist that it would take an eagle-eyed (and eared) viewer to pick out any hint of polemic-by-proxy. Yet the lifestyle, paraphernalia and added layers of domestic frenzy that derived from the pandemic era all feature in the backdrop to these four supremely provocative and articulate shorts. But how much these stories are actually catalysed or driven by the social dictats of 2020 remains up for debate.

The four shorts encompass the same broad style, though the first and third are two-hander dialogues captured in a single, unblinking take. The second anecdote resembles the director’s chaotic 2016 ensemble drama Sieranevada, replete with cacophonous in-fighting, semi-serious “plandemic” conspiracy theorising and possibly a world record for phone calls made to different people during 40 minutes of screen-time. The fourth episode appears to stand alone in that it plays in external rather than interior locations, and sees Puiu riffing a little on genre by presenting a key interrogation in a sex and organ trafficking ring.

Tonally it’s a mixed bag, as the first story, in which a harried therapist draws out the narcissistic tendencies of her subject with minimal effort, plays things to a level of comic absurdity. The delivery and timing of the dialogue, plus the subtle interruptions and digressions, all add up to an engaging and objective piece about medical quackery and patients with no sense of how other people live.

The second piece sees aggression go from the passive to the pointed as the therapist’s younger brother attempts to make rum babas while his other sister, a nurse, desperately tries to assist a heavily pregnant friend who’s having a bad time at a Covid hospital. The time it takes to complete two lateral flow tests marks the beginning and end of the third story, a somewhat meandering recollection between two ambulance workers of a lurid affair with a gangster’s moll.

Beyond the overlap of characters in the first three films, it’s not at all obvious how these stories connect. Yet that’s not particularly detrimental to the pleasures that the film has to offer. Taken together, the effect is a despairing, somewhat conservative portrait of modern Romania, one in which venality, anger, violence and amorality has taken over and people now feel empowered to tear one another – be it body or mind – apart.

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- David Jenkins
Expend4bles review – the living end

The blood is red, the screens are green, the language is blue and there’s a strange, juvenile fascination with yellow liquids in Scott Waugh’s film that also happens to recall the substance whose colour derives from mixing all of those mentioned above (clue: not chocolate).

In this business, when you go and see a movie that ends up being bad, you kinda just shrug it off and think, “Some you win…” knowing there will be another one dropping down the chute imminently. Yet there’s a whole lot of material in this film that you can’t quite believe made it all the way past basic quality checking. Almost everything about it betrays an insatiably violent contempt for the intelligence of a paying audience. It is, in many ways, a horror movie.

Expend4bles, for those gullible and needy enough to possess the desire to see a third sequel to an already-reliably abysmal action franchise, genuinely feels like an exercise not in how a film can entertain an audience, but what it can get away with in terms of cutting creative corners (and, one imagines, costs).

So what have we actually got here? We got 240p stock footage establishing shots that look like they were ripped from YouTube circa 2003. We got digital effects work that makes the promo video for Dire Straits’ Money for Nothing look like Avatar. We got stabbing. We got haunting, soulless, one-take performances that feel like the actors may have just received some terrible news directly before the cameras rolled (cf Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson). We got one-liners that play like they were holding text in the script, awaiting a polish that never came. We got more stabbing. We got action choreography filmed in extreme close-up to give the impression that the actors are doing something spectacular. We got a character named Jumbo Shrimp. We got even more stabbing.

Knowing how difficult it is to get any film into production, let alone past the script stage, there is no logical reason for something like Expend4bles to exist beyond the fact that it’s going to land its makers a handsome pay day. This is not a film about heroism and camaraderie, it’s about margins and bottom lines. The calculation here is that reshoots, post-production primping, or even doing one more take to get the energy up, have been vetoed from the off. You watch this film not so much in anger, but with the shrugging, pitiful sense that each of its stars will be able to buy a new saloon car, or have their pool retiled.

The original concept for The Expendables series involved banding together the action icons of yore and posting them off on a Dirty Dozen-style, impossible-odds sortie where, of course, they manage to win out the day. They’re almost still cleaving to the formula, with Sly Stallone, who now at 77 has understandably accepted a role in which he has to do the minimum amount of standing, leading a crew which combines the old guard (Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Jason Statham) with a side of young(er) newbies (Megan Fox, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Jacob Scipio).

There are some stolen nukes and… well, you can pretty much fill in the blanks from there. The only thing that comes close to impressing here is Statham’s athleticism, and he’s the only one here who’s able to credibly fake his commitment to this long-lost cause. Jaa and Uwais, world-class martial artists who actually have something to give to the camera, are so poorly filmed and choreographed that all we actually see is a blur of flailing limbs.

A general tendency for critical hyperbole can often make a quite bad film, or an innocently misfiring one, seem more offensive than it actually is. In cinematic terms, Expend4bles is the encrusted leavings which sit at the bottom of the cultural drip tray, a work that doesn‘t even manage to own its own camp value. It should henceforth act as a relative yardstick for how bad things can really be.

About as welcome as having to take the bins out in the rain. 1

The bar was already so low, and yet this film manages to sneak under it. 1

Any who sees this is a sucker. 1

Directed by
Scott Waugh

Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Megan Fox

The post Expend4bles review – the living end appeared first on Little White Lies.

- David Jenkins
R.M.N review – effortless brilliance

If Europe were a person, it would be in dire need of emergency medical attention. So says Romanian New Wave lynchpin Cristian Mungiu, whose quietly scathing and precision-tooled new work administers an extremely thorough examination of the diseased patent, but comes to no clear prognosis about its chances for survival. The clue is in the title, which is the Romanian acronym for MRI.

In fact, it does end up suggesting that we, as a society, might do well to take some time out and ponder whether the howling rage that has become valuable political currency in the contemporary world may be causing more problems than it is in locating rational solutions.

The film opens, as all films should, on a massive headbutt, as perpetually unsmiling man-hulk Matthias (Marin Grigore) takes violent umbrage when his boss at a German border-town abattoir refers to him as a “Lazy Gypsy”. We later discover that his anger was couched in a recent and successful purge of the Roma population from his dinky Transylvanian village, and even though he’s a man who tends to keep his political views closely guarded, that comment clearly hits a raw nerve.

Mungiu’s intimate and intricate drama takes in questions of dyed-in-the-wool provincial bigotry and the ways in which it spreads like a virus through digital and interpersonal means. Yet this is absolutely not a polemic, or a cinematic plea for a softening of attitudes, as the director is primarily interested in weeding out the root cause of this dangerous shift in civic understanding.

This is where Csilla (Judith State) comes in. She is the general manager at a local bread factory and who needs additional labour for the busy Christmas period, but opts to look beyond Romania’s borders and, indeed, the little village for anyone who would accept their measly wage terms. Csilla and her Mercedes-driving boss attempt to sell their ploy to locals as a boon for diversity and claim to be squeaky clean when it comes to EU employment law, but the folks are having none of it. And how do you argue with someone who believes that Sri Lankans (the ethnicity of the newly hired bakers) don’t wipe their asses and touch the food with their dirty hands?

The burn is slow and the cumulative impact is immense as Mungiu spends a good hour moving all his pieces into position before thwacking us with an explosive town meeting of the sort that, in bygone days, would’ve given the political green light to the Final Solution. Csilla believes that peaceable means and rational conduct will win the day, as she attempts to dismiss the problem as a small mob of drunken extremists. Her tone changes when they turn up at her cottage with firebombs and Klan masks.

With RMN, Mungiu gives us what feels like a contemporary western in the John Ford mode, where a lone, morally righteous hero must protect the oppressed, grease the cogs of capitalism and Christianity and gently teach the villagefolk the collective error of their ways. With its strong female heroine and male lead who’s nudged to the side in the second act, it even feels a lot like a riff on Nicholas Ray’s Johnny Guitar.

And like so often in these western movie, the hero has her own demons to deal with. It all ends on a howl of despair as Mungiu, finally, decides to muffle the objectivity for a moment and offer his provocative and ambiguous take on the paradox at the centre of the film. Guaranteed you won’t know what it means and you absolutely won’t see it coming. So it’s another very special film from this exceptionally gifted and thoughtful (and extremely angry) director.

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Simply put: Cristian Mungiu never misses. 4

Wraps the dramatic coil tighter and tighter with immaculate precision. 4

Effortless brilliance, with an absolutely wild final shot. 4

Directed by
Cristian Mungiu

Marin Grigore, Judith State, Macrina Barladeanu

The post R.M.N review – effortless brilliance appeared first on Little White Lies.

- Sarah Cleary
The enduring joy of Dick Cavett’s Old Hollywood interviews

Katherine Hepburn didn’t do TV. “It was gospel,” veteran talk show host Dick Cavett would later recall, “her privacy was practically enforced by the military”. But in 1973, Cavett did the impossible and managed to coax Miss Hepburn, then a spry 66-year-old, out of her shell and in front of a television camera. Her on-air debut turned out to be a sprawling two-hour conversation, broadcast across two evenings, that remains a landmark in American broadcasting.

Perhaps it was Cavett’s urbane public persona that helped to draw Hepburn out of hiding. The Dick Cavett Show had already been on the air for five years, and in that time it had cultivated a refined and metropolitan reputation that was unique among contemporaneous talk shows. He had been a comedian, and he was amusing when he needed to be, but his show put a premium on long-form conversations over anecdotes and one-liners.

Cavett himself wasn’t especially hip but by the early seventies his show had accrued no small amount of countercultural cache – it’s hard to imagine Johnny Carson looking quite so at home with David Crosby or John and Yoko. But he also made a conscious effort to bridge the generational gap, often pairing fashionable younger guests with older ‘living legends’. One famous instance of this was a 1970 edition of the programme that sat rocker Janis Joplin across from silent movie queen Gloria Swanson.

If Cavett’s intent had been to scandalise Swanson with Joplin, he failed. “I have seen everything,” announced Swanson. “I was in Germany when boys were dressing like girls,” adding that “a lot of what goes on today” is merely a “bad imitation” of the roaring twenties. If anything, it was Swanson who scandalised Joplin. At one point, the subject of Swanson’s dabbling with sculpture is broached, as well as her desire to sculpt Cavett. “I want to do his head,” she purrs. “Do you know what I mean by that?” “Yes I do,” replies Joplin, before bursting into a fit of earthy laughter. Cavett doesn’t know where to look – bashfulness was one of his specialties.

There’s something particularly satisfying about seeing female movie stars of an Old Hollywood vintage stretch their legs on The Dick Cavett Show, free from the strictures, fixers, and muzzles they will have known while under contract. Cavett’s affect was well-suited to this type of guest too – he strikes a good balance between gentle flirtation and earnest, grandson-like reverence. Bette Davis was a recurring guest, and her affection for Cavett is palpable, although this didn’t extend to all of the customary talk show pleasantries – “I’m sick of all the kissing on talk shows,” she opined while rebuffing Cavett on a 1971 edition. “I’m against it.”

One thing Davis seems keen to stress to both Cavett and the audience is quite how ‘no nonsense’ she is. She recalls how unglamourous she felt upon her arrival in Hollywood. “Imagine you’ve just seen Jean Harlow,” she scoffs, “and then I come through the gate.” However, she’s never exactly self-deprecating, characterising herself as closer to a legitimate theatre actress than a mere movie star. “I just dressed in an ordinary little Yankee way, and they [Hollywood] didn’t understand people like that.”

However, she did have some kind words for some of her Hollywood contemporaries, particularly her Now, Voyager co-star Claude Rains. “Was he a happy man?”, asks Cavett. “I don’t think as group actors are what I call ‘happy people’,” Davis replies, as an air of melancholy descends upon the studio. “I could not say [Claude] was a happy person,” she continues, “but he was witty, amusing, and beautiful. Really beautiful.” Rains had died four years earlier, and here Davis reflects on the passing of her peers thusly: “It’s going to be a different world. We’re not going to have the same kind of person anymore.” Cavett solemnly concurs. “I’m not going to sit around and moan about the past,” she adds, quickly composing herself.

Despite her general candidness and the show’s loose atmosphere, Davis’s reticence to “moan” extends to her treatment at Warner Brothers, at least initially. While Cavett commends her bravery for duking it out with the studio in court, Davis is hesitant to characterise Jack Warner as anything other than a firm but fair paternal figure.

“We had a smashing relationship,” she asserts. Unconvinced, Cavett gently presses Davis on this point. He points out that if three or so of her films had flopped in a row, she would have been persona non grata on the backlot. Ultimately, Davis must concede that “from their side, [there was] no affection.” Her whole demeanour changes as she starts to deflate in her seat. “Eighteen years at Warners, I built many soundstages there. Never got a letter of goodbye.” It’s heartbreaking, but one can’t help but feel there must have been some catharsis in saying it out loud.

When Katherine Hepburn arrived on The Dick Cavett Show set, she hadn’t come for a taping – she hadn’t even agreed to make an appearance. As per Cavett’s intro to the first broadcast, “She agreed to come into my studio for a test only to check things out to see how it looked and felt.” It was there and then that she agreed to an interview – without a studio audience.

The Hepburn interview really is a remarkable piece of television. On one hand, she meets our expectations – she is every bit the untouchable goddess of The Philadelphia Story, the skittish oddball of Bringing Up Baby, and the regal older lady of The African Queen and Summertime. On the other, there’s something startlingly unvarnished about her here. “Fear is what you and I suffer from trying to be fascinating,” she tells Cavett. “It’s embarrassing.” Hepburn’s charisma is irrepressible, but so are her jangling nerves. “I think the whole human race is petrified,” she remarks, chuckling to herself. “I’m a good coverer-upper.”

The conversation is long and winding, prone to the occasional dead-end, but it’s at its most fascinating when Hepburn unpacks and reflects upon her stardom. In her own estimation, she had “the right kind of looks, the right kind of voice,” as well as standing for “something just a little bit new”. She is, of course, referring obliquely to the feminist streak that ran through her star persona, and Cavett is eager to know her thoughts on the ‘women’s lib’ movement of the seventies, but she seems uncomfortable speaking on the matter. “We did that a very, very long time ago” is all that she will say at first. Later, she attempts to clarify her position: “I can’t see the difference between any of us. Can you?”

Much of the interview deals with gender. This makes sense, a key part of Hepburn’s appeal was her casual flaunting of gender norms. “There are men,” she says, “who are all the same, and then there are women like me who have lived like men.” Some of her positions on the matter are more inscrutable. At one point she insists, without explanation, that a proliferation of feminine men and masculine women is being caused by “overpopulation”. Dick points out that the usual explanation for effeminate boys is overbearing mothers. “Everything is blamed on women anyway,” Hepburn replies, “but they’re trying to put that right.”

The Dick Cavett Show may have been an outlier in its own time, but it’s impossible to imagine such a patient programme surviving in the current TV talk show landscape, so much of which is geared towards bite-sized virality. Podcasts are probably its nearest equivalent, but it’s a shame to think these kinds of conversations now occupy that relatively marginal cultural space – Katherine Hepburn was appointment viewing on network television, two nights in a row.

Cavett had a knack for sweetly and surreptitiously breaking down his guests’ defences, and the female stars of Old Hollywood were some of the toughest nuts he ever tried to crack. As their marathon interview drew to a close, he told Hepburn “I have never enjoyed anything more than this in my life.” “You know something funny?” she replied, “I’ve enjoyed it too.”

The post The enduring joy of Dick Cavett’s Old Hollywood interviews appeared first on Little White Lies.

- Hannah Strong
Dumb Money review – mildly entertaining economics 101

After coming to prominence with the lovable Ryan Gosling indie from 2007, Lars and the Real Girl, Australian filmmaker Craig Gillespie seems to have found his niche within Hollywood, creating ripped-from-the-headlines dramedies about underdogs and the unfairly villainised. First there was Million Dollar Arm, about sports agent JB Bernstein’s search for baseball greatness, then I, Tonya, his take on infamous ice skater Tonya Harding (which netted Margot Robbie her first Oscar nomination). In 2022 he had a stint in television with Pam & Tommy (about the Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee sex tape scandal) and Mike (about Mike Tyson). There was also Cruella, his live-action take on the villainess from 101 Dalmatians, but the less said about that the better.

But Gillespie takes on a much more contemporary real-life story in Dumb Money: the GameStop short squeeze of January 2021, when a group of amateur investors on Reddit inadvertently went to war with Wall Street over the price of shares for a stagnating video game retailer. To explain the intricacies of what a short stop is and why this particular incident was significant would take up the rest of this page. Suffice to say it was a David vs Goliath financial moment – if David was a guy in Massachusetts posting cat memes and Goliath was a Richer than Croesus banker deciding where to put his fifth swimming pool.

The affable Paul Dano takes on a more likeable role than he’s usually afforded as the financial analyst/hobby stock marketer Keith Gill, who was known within the r/wallstreetbets community for his videos about investing and undervalued stock. Among his viewers are nurse Jennifer Campbell (America Ferrera), GameStop employee Marcus (Anthony Ramos) and college students Harmony (Talia Ryder) and Riri (Myha’la Herrold) who invest in GameStop at Gill’s behest.

Facing off against them are the might of Wall Street: wealth management company chief investment officer Gabe Plotkin (Seth Rogen) and hedge fund managers Kenneth C Griffin (Nick Offerman) and Steve Cohen (Vincent D’Onofrio). This results in a film with a lot of moving parts, and while this might be in the pursuit of showing that the GameStop short squeeze was a team effort, it results in a narrative splintering where no character except Gill really feels particularly compelling.

Aside from this, the film owes a rather obvious debt to Adam McKay’s The Big Short, which arguably did the same thing – point out that when it comes to capitalism, the house always wins – eight years earlier. The comedic beats feel the same, and while the dated internet humour and juvenile bandying of slurs might be accurate, it’s not exactly cinematic. This is a mildly entertaining film that does a decent job of explaining boggling financial concepts, but it’s difficult to see why exactly Gillespie (along with screenwriters Lauren Schuker Blum and Rebecca Angelo) felt compelled to tell the story in this format. A documentary might have offered more of an insight into the uniquely masculine form of psychopathy that prospers on Wall Street and Reddit alike.

Didn’t this just happen? 2

Dano is rather charming, but otherwise this is decidedly lacking in epic lolz. 3

Dare I say Adam McKay has already cornered this market? 3

Directed by
Craig Gillespie

Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, America Ferrera, Vincent D’Onofrio

The post Dumb Money review – mildly entertaining economics 101 appeared first on Little White Lies.

- Sam Moore
How Saving Private Ryan changed the war movie

When Saving Private Ryan first screened 25 years ago, critics and war veterans alike cited it as the most realistic portrayal of war ever seen on film. This was not the World War II of The Guns of Navarone or The Great Escape; Saving Private Ryan – particularly its D-Day landing sequence – aimed to emulate the terror, fear and unimaginable violence of war through a realism-led approach to its cinematography.

Despite the complexity of Steven Spielberg’s approach to the war scenes, pre-production on Saving Private Ryan was significantly truncated by the director experiencing a particularly prolific streak, shooting Jurassic Park sequel The Lost World and historical drama Amistad back to back. Spielberg and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski (who he had just worked with on Schindler’s List) were heavily influenced by the contemporary war photography of George Stevens and Robert Capa, as well as the propaganda films of Leni Riefenstahl, and the accounts given by actual veterans, including Spielberg’s own father Arnold who was drafted into the military in 1942.

In the past, Spielberg – who was born the year after his father returned from the war – has been open about how the Second World War loomed large in his consciousness. His father would tell war stories and veterans would frequent his house as a child, while the family had an awful relationship with the Holocaust, having lost an estimated 20 relatives in the genocide.

Because of Spielberg’s close connection to the war, he knew the ways in which he didn’t want to make a war movie. The Second World War was more than a shadow on Spielberg’s career. He’d already made five films set in the period – albeit radically different ones that ranged from adventure epics to Holocaust biopics – but Saving Private Ryan felt like the director’s definitive statement on the subject as he sought to get as close to recreating war as possible.

There was a precedent of sorts for Spielberg’s boots on the ground, ‘Let’s do war as close as we can to the real thing’ approach. 1962’s The Longest Day was famously filmed on actual WW2 battlefields and Leslie Norman’s 1958 Dunkirk deployed some 2000 extras, but Spielberg yearned to take the audience inside war like never before. There were small details he learned from veterans – GI’s vomiting as they approached the beach from seasickness and fear; dead fish floating on top of the water; the blue ocean stained red with blood – that would completely immerse viewers and set the standard going forward for war films.

France’s Omaha Beach was recreated in Ireland over about four weeks to the cost of $12 million, with a cast and crew of around 1500 people, to create the D-Day Landing sequence. Spielberg and his vast team had roughly a kilometre of the shore to themselves and essentially rebuilt wartime Normandy complete with battlements, concrete bunkers and defence nests.

Spielberg shows much of the landing from a soldier’s point of view (a technique that would later heavily influence video games including Spielberg’s own brainchild the Medal of Honor series as well as the hugely successful Call of Duty franchise). For the first time, we see war through the terrified eyes of the men who were there. The subjective technique sees the camera frequently disappear underwater as the march to the beach is made. The camera literally goes up and down beneath the ocean, a technique achieved by mounting a camera on a crane on the back of a flatbed truck which was then driven into the sea. Spielberg also makes use of several handheld cameras in this sequence, all of them manoeuvring in a coordinated fashion around the lifelike set, immersing the viewer in the fog of war.

Spielberg’s recreation of the assault made use of actual Higgins boats used in the landings and to achieve the all-consuming effect of war, they rigged a section of the beach the size of a large field with blood squibs and mortar explosives, shooting usually just one or two long takes. Fake blood would often unintentionally splatter against the camera but they kept on shooting, believing it enhanced the realism, especially with the effects crew burning barrels of diesel to create flumes of black smoke in the air. The movements of the many hundreds of actors had to be choreographed to the most minute detail because of the mortars placed across the beach (amazingly the only on-set injury was an extra whose foot was run over). 

The shot where Tom Hanks makes the dash to the cliff edge was filmed in exactly that manner. Spielberg called action and hundreds of extras sprung to life, explosives were detonated, and the most famous actor in the world sprinted across a beach followed by a cameraman carrying a 34-pound camera on his shoulder. It was one of the first scenes shot and was completed in one take, setting the tone for the rest of the shoot.

This proved to be pretty gruelling if you happened to be a camera operator. Most of the film, especially the action sequences, was filmed using handheld cameras and these cameras were not light. Spielberg also wanted the camera at awkward heights such as near the ground, which meant the operators were often running around a beach, dragging a camera close to the floor while trying to avoid actual explosions, and also protecting the equipment from the sand. It was a herculean challenge of filmmaking.

On a purely technical level, Saving Private Ryan upended the war movie. It became a benchmark for depictions of war in the same way Jurassic Park was for special effects or Raging Bull was for boxing. Combined with wide praise from veterans for the film’s accuracy, you had a picture that would loom large over the next 25 years of war movies.

Ridley Scott embraced Spielberg’s immersive techniques with Black Hawk Down, implanting Saving Private Ryan’s visceral opening 20 minutes across two and a half hours in Somalia. Christopher Nolan has also been vocal about the debt his own WWII epic Dunkirk owes the film, asking Spielberg for advice on how to approach shooting, especially with regards to having an unseen enemy (both movies feature very few Nazis). 

Saving Private Ryan’s influence can also be seen in Sam Mendes’ Oscar-winning 1917. As the now viral behind-the-scenes footage of filming shows, Mendes embraced Spielberg’s practical approach to filmmaking with the final sequence requiring actor George Mackay to run 300 metres with 500 extras in the background and explosions being set off everywhere. 

Cinematic technology has evolved and heavy CGI usage has become the standard for large-scale war films, but to this day nothing beats a man and a movie camera running around on an Irish beach.

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- Anna Bogutskaya
Pedro Almodóvar: ‘Chemistry is a mystery’

In 32 minutes, Pedro Almodóvar’s Strange Way of Life packs in more tenderness, eroticism and cinephile references than most feature films manage across a couple of hours. In his second foray into English language filmmaking after 2020’s The Human Voice, the international auteur takes on the most American and most macho of genres: the western. Balancing the contrasting sex appeals of Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke, Almodóvar imagines a lover’s reunion, lubricated by wine and memories of a youthful lust.

LWLies: What is your relationship to the western?

Almodóvar: The western is not a genre I discovered as a child. I remember children playing cowboys and Indians but I was never part of this. Once I arrived in Madrid, in my twenties, I became passionate about the genre. There are genres that I never discovered in my first youth – like film noir, thrillers, and the western – but I effusively embraced in my adulthood. So, the truth is that I’ve never thought about making a western, although the western is present in at least two of my films: Johnny Guitar (1954) in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988), in the ‘Lie to me and tell me you’ve been waiting for me’ scene, which I think is one of the most beautiful pieces of dialogue ever written; and in Matador (1985), the final scene of Duel in the Sun (1946) appears as a premonition to the main characters in my film. Johnny Guitar is also an exception in the genre as it’s a woman’s western, where Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge wear the pants and the guns. The western is essentially a masculine and an American genre. It’s America inventing itself through cinema.

I lied, there was one other time when I thought about making a western. It was in the early nineties, I got the rights to Tom Spanbauer’s novel ‘The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon’, which features gay cowboys and Indians. I did a first draft in Spanish but I needed an American writer to work with me, and that’s when I hit a wall. Everyone I spoke with said they wouldn’t dare touch a story like that. I hadn’t thought about making a western since, until three years ago, when I wrote the scene that became the foundation of this film, which is the long conversation between the two old lovers after their orgiastic reunion. I think they’re more naked in that scene than if I had filmed the orgy itself.

The cowboy, like you mentioned, is the quintessential cinematic emblem of masculinity. What did you want to add to its mythos?

Naturally, it’s a masculine genre. Women are secondary characters. But there’s never been a conversation about desire between men. It’s a taboo akin to the one that exists right now with footballers. There are no gay footballers. Same as there’s no gay bullfighters. You know, in Spain, it’s even forbidden to insinuate that such a thing exists. It was most attractive to me that they were old lovers remembering their youth, and how they react to a night of excess, sex and alcohol, where one of them is denying what happened between them whilst the other reminds him of it incessantly. I’m not only talking about desire, but about nakedness. Their real nakedness is in that morning after dialogue. They’re both ambiguous, because they both have ulterior motives. Silva is trying to advocate for his son, who he knows has murdered the sheriff’s sister-in-law.

I wanted them to be two old lovers who still want each other, which becomes clear during dinner, but that one of them still has that desire and wants to give it a name while the other rejects it, although he delays his work until they’ve spent that night. It’s a very masculine thing, within gay relationships, this ‘yes but no’. Yes, tonight we can be together, but tomorrow I have to leave and go find a murderer who’s also your son.

You’ve mentioned this excess when they encounter each other again. The food, the alcohol. When we see Silva and Jake in flashback, their first kiss is drowning themselves in wine. What’s the role of excess in their relationship?

Excess is the excuse to unleash their desires. I remember my youth, many times drugs and alcohol would open up sexual experiences that you wouldn’t have otherwise had. Whenever Sheriff Jake talks about the past, he says, “It was crazy,” while Silva instead recalls those moments every time he drinks. It’s two very different positions on sexuality. It’s also an old-fashioned idea, that in the chaos of drugs and alcohol, a man can indulge desires that in more sober circumstances, he wouldn’t allow himself. It’s sort of hypocritical but…

It’s the ‘yesbutno’. 


Can you expand on this central scene, a loving but also reproachful conversation, that is the heart of the film, and concerns the love that could’ve been but wasn’t.

Each one has their own dramatic tools. Sheriff Jake uses honour – the word he gave his father-in-law. Honour is elemental to the western, especially individual honour. He’s constantly using his obligations as a defence. Silva is the complete opposite. He uses sentimentality, nostalgia and the memory of pleasure to undermine the Sheriff’s determination. Silva is constantly bringing him back to a lover’s territory, which is a topic Jake does not want to touch, and at one point even leads him to threaten Silva with a gun. On the one hand, there’s honour as the Sheriff understands it, and there’s Silva’s obligation to his family, a father’s need to defend his child even if he turned out to be a murderer.

At one point, Silva reminds the Sheriff of his own desire, and how he’s expressed it over the past 24 hours. In their youth, Silva had proposed they live together on a ranch, but the Sheriff purposefully put a distance, a literal desert, between them. All of this makes the Sheriff lose his composure. Silva is smart and very crafty. He keeps confronting the Sheriff with his own contradictions. There’s a moment during their dinner when they toast to their contradictions. Silva is cornering him until the Sheriff unsheathes his gun.

It was very appealing to me to have a character in a western say, ‘This strange fate of ours, that your sister-in-law had to die so we could share a bed again.’ I love this sentence, and to hear Pedro Pascal say it. It’s difficult to say and very difficult to hear for the Sheriff. The first scene I wrote was the morning after, and I let it sit for a while. When the possibility of doing it with Anthony Vaccarello and Saint Laurent, I developed the beginning and ending of the story.

Silva and Sheriff Jake are complete opposites in the way they speak, live, and remember. Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke are also radically opposite in their screen presence. What made them right for these roles?

You said it, they’re opposites, almost paradoxical. I needed two actors who were very different from one another. Pedro is of Latin origin and Ethan is Texan, very Texan. Before I even met him, he gave me this impression of secrecy – a coldness and distance that the character has with himself. Often you have to change cast for different reasons, but from the first moment, I knew.

Bypassing agents, since I knew both of them, I sent them both the script and fortunately, they both said yes. I’d seen Pedro onstage, doing King Lear with Glenda Jackson in her return to Broadway. He’s famous now, as he says, as a ‘streamer’, but he’s a very complete actor, trained at Julliard. I needed Pedro to hit different notes to the ones that he’s used to, because the type of epics he’s known for are vastly different from the epicness of these characters. I’d also seen Ethan onstage, in The Bridge Project’s ‘The Cherry Orchard’/‘The Winter’s Tale’, directed by Sam Mendes.

Everything has been effortless. They both admired each other from afar, and they had great chemistry. Chemistry is a mystery. It has nothing to do with talent and everything to do with each individual personality. Fortunately, they complement each other perfectly. They each represent two opposite cultures.

Colour plays a huge part in the film.

All the costumes have been designed by Saint Laurent and my job was to research and pick. Being Spanish, I was afraid that Americans would clock straight away, ‘Oh this is a western made by a foreigner.’ I was more careful than ever in not being anachronistic. I’ve watched tons of westerns. I was interested in dressing the characters in the way that cinema has dressed them, which is not exactly realistic. Reality was a lot uglier, dustier and muddier. My reference pool is cinema itself, not real life. For instance, in Vera Cruz (1954), Burt Lancaster’s character, the villain, is dressed completely in black leather. We copied his costume for Joe, Silva’s son. The costumes of the Mexican sex workers are inspired by Howard Hawks’ El Dorado (1966).

Vaccarello favours blacks and greys in his design, but I tend to have more colour in my films. Silva was my window to bring more colour into the story, but I wanted to avoid falling into anachronisms. Fortunately, there’s an Anthony Mann western, Bend of the River (1952), in which James Stewart wears a green jacket. Something quite unusual, and especially vivid in Technicolour. That was my green. It was my justification.

The way of dressing male characters in westerns hasn’t really changed. The Sheriff is always very elegant, allowed a bit of fantasy in their vests, which are sometimes satin or silk. But the rest are very sombre, plaid shirts and a neckerchief. So I tried to pick out some colourful options for Silva.

The ending seemed to me as hinting at the possibility of a shared life between Silva and Jake. Did you want to end on a hopeful note?

To be totally honest, I’m not entirely sure how this story ends. I like that it ends with Silva explaining what two men could do on a ranch. I’d say this is an answer given to the two shepherds in Brokeback Mountain, to the question Jake Gyllenhaal asks Heath Ledger, what would two men do on a ranch together. Pedro Pascal gives an answer to the question posed by Brokeback Mountain. I deliberately leave the ending open, with an injured Jake looking out at an idyllic landscape, compared to his solitary life as a Sheriff. That’s the direction I gave Ethan Hawke. He’s hurt, he’s in a place he didn’t want to be in, but he is at peace.

But, similarly to the end of Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990), where Victoria Abril is driving off with her sister and Antonio Banderas and singing, ‘Resistiré’, which is this hymn to independence, her eyes are welling up with tears. Partly because she’s in a good place with her sister, and partly because in her look towards the future, I can see as a director and writer that this couple isn’t going to work. They’ll be over in three months’ time. It’s going to be crazy cause he’s got no clue what he’s doing and she’s going to go back to heroin. It’s a moment of fullness and I’d rather end the film on that.

The ending of Strange Way of Life is a hopeful image, but I also think that the minute Jake can get up, he’ll grab a gun, attack Silva, and head off in search of the murderer, who’s probably made a lot of mistakes. It would turn into a Sam Peckinpah film.

With The Human Voice (2020) and now Strange Way of Life, will we see you making short and medium-length films more often now?

I should do a third short film to make it a trilogy. I’m seriously thinking about a third one. I feel a much bigger freedom making a short. For instance, the structure of The Human Voice wouldn’t work in a feature. A short film allows me to follow the character through these two cloisters, her flat and the stage, until she is set free at the end. With a feature film, you inevitably have a bigger commitment to reality. The formal experiment would not work in a feature-length film. Making a short is like breathing fresh air. These two shorts have been a treat to make. I would like to do it a third time, and maybe join them together as a feature.

Both these films are about caged characters.

Absolutely. Strange Way of Life is a very abstract movie. While I’m trying to be very faithful to the western genre, even using the sets that Sergio Leone built for his Dollar trilogy, the characters are very isolated. It’s these two characters, alone, confronting their desires, satisfying them and undoing them. I don’t think this works in a longer film. I’d have to add more elements that I just did not need to tell this story.

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- Charles Bramesco
Boy Kills World – first-look review

Violence is upsetting only until it becomes funny; Looney Tunes teaches us this, that going far enough over the top removes the element of realism that gives acts of physical harm their power. Slitting someone’s throat can be gruesome, but bashing someone over the head with a mallet so their teeth all stick out like piano keys — now there’s comedy.

But the corollary secret to Bugs and Daffy’s success was the childlike innocence to their mischief, a comic-strip simplicity in gags seldom more mature or involved than your given knock-knock joke. And if Looney Tunes works because it thinks the way a kid does, then the comparably slap-happy Boy Kills World fails because it has the mentality of a fourteen-year-old boy coming off a three-day, Mountain Dew-fueled Xbox bender.

From the opening exposition introducing dictatrix Hilda ven der Koy (Famke Janssen) as a “bitch” in need of elimination to the utterances of such amateur-hour profanities as “fuckpuppet” and “shitweasel,” a brutalizing lack of wit makes a slog out of a beat-‘em-up that aspires to a non-stop barrage of bone-breaking gutbusters. (There’s also a touch of Whedonspeak dropped into this dialect of uncoolness.) For all its creativity about the different ways limbs can made to bend, the script faceplants in its dull quasi-adolescent sensibility that pairs the juvenile affinity for sugary cereals and Mortal Kombat with a more gratingly sophomoric stuntedness in humor. One imagines Deadpool looking down at his own hands in impotent horror, Oppenheimer-style, reckoning with what he hath wrought.

Our unnamed deaf-mute protagonist (Bill Skarsgård, his arms like rocket launchers) can communicate only in internal monologue voiceover that, despite the many tribulations he’s survived since the reigning junta killed his family, has the same oblivious cheerfulness as the puppy Will Ferrell voiced in last month’s Strays. And this Boy is a good dog indeed; from his older Asian mentor complicating a South African setting with a staunch refusal to consider its depiction of fascism relative to race, he’s learned to sit, stay, and make dead.

He’s got to fight through the royal stronghold on the night of the ruling family’s latest “culling,” working his way from one level to the next in a video game structure the script acknowledges with unclever mention of a “final boss.” The least tiresome passages come during these long arias of savagery, with Tilt-a-Whirl cinematography rushing to catch every laceration and headshot. State-of-the-art fight choreography, as well as a resourceful spirit that sees every prop as a potential weapon, have both been squandered in an otherwise repellent, paper-thin plotline building to a nonsensical twist.

First-time director Moritz Mohr made an unmistakable calling card feature, proving beyond reproach his skill as an orchestrator and stylist of action, though he’s most well-suited to the uppermost echelons of today’s Hollywood in his total disregard for story beyond its capacity to cue up empty bombast. That’s how a film with barely any plot balloons to an unaccountable run time of nearly two hours, as it piles on one display of hollow technical virtuosity after the next with no concern for wearing out its welcome.

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- Mark Asch
Dream Scenario – first-look review

Already this decade Kristoffer Borgli has established himself as a satirist of the branded self. His calling card short Former Cult Member Hears Music for the First Time took a quite savage swing at a Vice-like documentary crew packing edgy content into a bite-sized package, and last year’s Sick of Myself, in which a woman achieves microcelebrity by infecting herself with a disease, going literally viral, stopped short of full savagery but displayed a deep familiarity with the smugly on-trend styles and values of creative marketing. With Dream Scenario, he warps the funhouse mirror more aggressively, foraying into a Charlie Kaufman-esque high-concept setup about a man who becomes a meme. Nicolas Cage plays Paul Matthews, a professor of evolutionary biology who suddenly starts showing up in the dreams of people around the world.

At his sparsely attended lectures, the tenured but unpublished Paul lectures about zebras’ camouflage — not sticking out from the herd is a good defensive mechanism, but a disadvantage for mating. He has disappointments about not making more of himself, and not being known in his field, but he has a nice life, with a nervous wife (Julianne Nicholson) who does him the courtesy of feeling jealous over women who display an obvious lack of sexual interest in her husband, and eye-rolling daughters who mostly ignore him but as adults will probably post a photo of him every Father’s Day with a tender caption that they really mean. There are advantages to not sticking out from the herd — but something about this unmemorable loser has become inexplicably replicable.

At first, in the dreams, Paul is a passive bystander, as he is in life — continuing to rake the leaves in the yard as his daughter loses contact with the earth and floats skyward, say. In many of the dreams he pops up amid the usual anxieties, terrors, and unresolved psychic residues, but the novelty of his universal presence makes him a celebrity, a nobody who becomes a somebody.

As Paul becomes increasingly famous for being famous, cameos from the alt-comedy world sharpen Borgli’s satire to a snide edge: Michael Cera and Kate Berlant as creative marketers who want to enlist Paul for an influencer partnership with Sprite, as well as their assistant, Dylan Gelula, personifying the temptations of fame and the tendency of the millennial-Gen Z cusp on to performatively latch on to inexplicable thirst objects.

As played by Cage, with bald pate, fake belly, voice pushed up into the noise and given a bit of a wheeze, bundled up in a duffel coat whose lined hood exaggerates his hunch, Paul is a type of performance we’ve seen before the actor, a mannered schlub, like his Charlie Kaufman himself in Adaptation. He’s an appropriately heightened everyman for Borgli’s exaggerated allegory, an ostentatiously empty vessel for public projection.

As sleep becomes more troubled, with Paul overstaying his 15 minutes and becoming a more malevolent dream-life presence, the public turns on him; Paul is enraged by the accusation that he has traumatized his students, who demand a space safe from his triggering presence. (Filmed in the parking lot by a group of students who are righteously scared of him for what he did to them in their sleep, he is confronted by a literal woke mob.)

As Paul rages against the indignity of his cancellation, and Cera pops back on the phone to offer him guest appearances on right-wing talk shows, Dream Scenario looks with a mix of sympathy and cold bemusement at his feelings of persecution, his sense of shame and anger. Paul is “feeling a little bit too seen,” as the saying goes; having sought wide validation, he has attracted attention that overpowers his ability to control his narrative.

The fantasy of being known is also the fear of being exposed; Dream Scenario touches on some of the same issues as this year’s Beau Is Afraid did, particularly in its ending sequence — and in fact, Beau Is Afraid writer-director Ari Aster is a producer here. If this cynical and funny consideration of the distance between a person and their curated image in the collective (un)consciousness comes with any caveat, it’s that it, itself, feels ever so slightly synergistic. Walking out of the year’s second A24 magic-realist nightmare about the travails of a Beau-like sadsack, you may wonder if the end-credits Talking Heads needle-drop isn’t actually guerilla marketing for the studio’s upcoming rerelease of Stop Making Sense. Maybe that’s the point.

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- Brian Tallerico
Mortal Kombat 1 Continues Legacy of Landmark Fighting Game

It’s interesting that Roger never reviewed the “Mortal Kombat” films, ignoring the Paul W.S. Anderson 1995 film and the dismal 1997 sequel. While the movies based on the 1992 arcade game and its many descendants have been pretty dismal (the 2021 remake is so forgettable that I forgot I reviewed it myself), the games have actually maintained their popularity and even a level of critical esteem that the creators of this mega-franchise probably couldn’t have predicted would be maintained three decades after the first fatality. The newly-released “Mortal Kombat 1” is a phenomenal fighting game, dense with customization options for a beloved cast of characters, complete with various modes to explore, and promising with updates that include future fighters and rotating seasons of content. It’s about to get very crowded on the game landscape with AAA titles like “Spider-Man 2,” “Assassin’s Creed: Mirage,” “Alan Wake II,” and the latest “Call of Duty” game (oh, there’s also a Mario title coming), but I suspect I’ll still be honing my special moves in “Mortal Kombat 1” when the calendar turns over.

Instead of continuing directly after the acclaimed 2019 “Mortal Kombat 11,” the creators of this title revert numerically to “Mortal Kombat 1,” which technically makes this a reboot, although it contains many of the same mechanics as the last title and the excellent “Injustice 2,” also from developer NetherRealm Studios and publisher Warner Bros. Games. The biggest in-fight addition is the inclusion of something called Kameo Fighters, allies for your main competitor who can be brought in during special moves and Fatal Blows, which incorporate the X-ray effect graphics seen in “Mortal Kombat X.” As for modes, the developers include something great called Invasions, which looks like a board game as your fighter enters different modes like combat, towers, and even shops that give the mode a bit of an RPG element. Instead of just mashing buttons, your fighter can use stat-boosting items like Relics or combat-centric items called Talismans. And, to this player, Invasions are the best way to farm customization aspects like new outfits/palettes, gear, and even finishing moves. They will be updated every six weeks or so in a season format, reflecting the live-service game trend that has become so prevalent with regularly updating hits like “Call of Duty,” “Destiny,” “Fortnite,” and so many more. It’s an incredibly addictive mode that brings something familiar but new to a franchise in its fourth decade.

Believe it or not, there’s a story in most modern “Mortal Kombat” games, which basically amounts to extended animated cut scenes intertwined with fights. The narrative here reflects the reboot nature of the game, with Liu Kang recreating the universe to basically try and save it again, allying with Kung Lao, Raiden, Johnny Cage, and Kenshi Takahashi (the sword-wielding badass who has been my favorite fighter so far this game) to compete in a Mortal Kombat tournament for the fate of Earthrealm. From there, it goes to places that wouldn’t conceivably make sense to anyone not deeply versed in the world of “Mortal Kombat,” but know that it’s like watching an animated “Mortal Kombat” movie that you get to jump into every now and then to break up the mediocre dialogue and confusing plotting. It does, however, contain a more fascinating cast list than the 2021 theatrical release arguably had, with Kelly Hu as Li Mei, Megan Fox as Nitara, Phil LaMarr as Geras, and even a skin that can turn Johnny Cage into the one and only Jean-Claude Van Damme. It’s also worth noting that some major DC characters are joining the game in the future as DLC fighters, including Omni-Man from “Invincible,” Peacemaker from the show of the same name, and Homelander from “The Boys,” which could add J.K. Simmons, John Cena, and Antony Starr to this vocal line-up (presuming the get the original actors to do the voice work).

As for the kombat, it’s fluid and wickedly addictive this time, a typical collection of easy-to-administer fighting moves and more complex combos. The result is a game that’s easy to jump into and play if someone only has a few minutes or wants to lose hours. The core of “Mortal Kombat” will always be the actual fighting, and it’s never clunky or glitchy here with consistent physics most of the time—there are some environmental aspects, usually in towers, that can be frustrating to figure out. As for graphics, it looks phenomenal, especially with the detailed backgrounds and adrenalizing finishing moves. Adding Kameo Fighters adds more variety as each brings their own tag-team move. (I’m a fan of Sareena, for the record.) They, too, can be customized with new gear.

“Mortal Kombat” has evolved from that 1992 arcade game to three features, multiple animated spin-offs, and now a dozen official titles in the main franchise. What struck me most about “Mortal Kombat 1” was that this isn’t just traditional nostalgia bait, a reboot of a game that people once loved in the hope that they’ll love it again. The developers of this title have strived to keep “Mortal Kombat” relevant by incorporating season updates, new characters, top-notch fighting animation, fluid controls, and deep customization. Fans of the series would buy anything with that dragon logo on it and playable versions of Scorpion and Sub-Zero, but “Mortal Kombat 1” gives them and the generations below those original fans more than just the bare-bones needed to make a profit. So many franchises have come and gone in the decades since “Mortal Kombat.” This one still has so much fight in it.

The publisher provided a review copy of this title. It’s now available for PS5, Xbox, PC, and Switch (although be warned that the version there is reportedly a glitchy mess). 


- Brian Tallerico
FOX is Hoping That Audiences Really Want to Visit Krapopolis

As the strike lingers into its fifth month for writers, the networks are still bringing out shows in the can that they hope will connect with viewers. One such program is an animated comedy that someone at FOX must absolutely love. Understandably, FOX went straight to series in 2020 with Dan Harmon, given his massive success in the animated realm with “Rick and Morty.” Who wouldn’t want that brand in the line-up known as Animation Domination (at least before the allegations against “Rick” co-creator Justin Roiland surfaced)? “Bob’s Burgers,” “Family Guy,” “The Simpsons,” and a show as big as “Rick and Morty”? FOX was so thrilled at the prospect that they renewed the show for a second season in early 2022, which isn’t weird, but it was a bit shocking when they took it a step further and gave the show a third-season commitment before an episode had even aired. They want people to move into “Krapopolis,” but will their affection for this odd duck of a show be rewarded with viewers for three full seasons? Someone might want to start praying to the Gods.

“Krapopolis” unfolds in a version of ancient Greece that fits the odd sense of humor of the “Community” creator, someone who has always seemed fascinated by the way things work, whether it’s an unexpected collection of people in a community college or the many alien civilizations visited by Rick and his nephew Morty. Richard Ayoade playfully voices Tyrannis, the mortal son of a Goddess named Deliria, brought to life with egocentric glee by Emmy winner Hannah Waddingham (“Ted Lasso”). Tyrannis is always trying to be good enough for both his people and his dysfunctional family, which also includes a half-centaur/half-manticore father named Shlub (Matt Berry of “What We Do in the Shadows”), a half-sister/half-cyclops sister named Stupendous (Pam Murphy), and a half-brother/half-mermaid named Hippocampus (Duncan Trussell).

The three episodes sent to press of “Krapopolis” almost play like a hybrid of “Arrested Development,” “Rick and Morty,” and Greek mythology. Tyrannis is the put-upon Michael Bluth of this demented clan, working hard to impress his mother and protect himself from his father’s bad habits while fending off the poor decision-making of his siblings. The writing on “Krapopolis” isn’t as sharp as some other Harmon properties, but it’s consistently entertaining. If there aren’t massive laughs, there’s a steady flow of chuckles, and sometimes, that’s all someone needs after a long Sunday. It’s also a decent place to start, given shows like this often improve as their sense of humor refines over multiple episodes. It also reminded me of early “Futurama,” falling back on its setting/concept too often but improving when it leans into character and a surreal sense of humor. The writing works when it takes familiar concepts from mythology and takes them someplace unexpected.

Of course, it helps immensely to have this cast. Ayoade can do awkward intellectual in his sleep, but the real scene-stealer is the one who so often walks away with episodes of “What We Do in the Shadows,” too. Matt Berry’s dry wit and comic timing come through even in animated form, and the first few episodes feature strong guest performances, too, including a hysterical turn from Keith David as the perfectly named barbarian King Asskill and a great bit from Daveed Diggs as a centaur.

FOX has struggled to find a fourth partner to fill out the time slots in their Animation Domination block, with misfires like “Duncanville” and “Housebroken” being quickly shown the door by uninterested viewers. Maybe they’re just tired of trying and committed to “Krapopolis,” so they don’t have to worry about it for a few years? Or maybe they’re right, and they’ve finally drawn this animated square. It’s too soon to tell after only a trio of episodes, but there’s more reason for hope than there has been with any effort in this timeslot in years. Someone’s prayers may have been answered.

Three episodes were screened for review. "Krapopolis" premieres on Sunday, September 24th with two episodes.

- Daniel Joyaux
The State of the 2024 Oscar Race: The Fall Festivals Leave Burning Questions

With the three major fall festivals—Venice, Telluride, and Toronto—all in the books, the 2024 Oscar season is now unofficially underway. All of the highly touted films that premiere at the fall fests tend to add more films and names into the conversation than they remove, and this year’s fests didn’t see any “The Son”–level critical flops that were so catastrophic they immediately ended a film’s awards chances. 

So, what did we learn about the Oscars from three weeks of getting immersed in mountains, canals, and poutine? Maybe not that much, actually. But at the very least, we learned what questions we should be asking. With that in mind, let’s look at the big races through the lens of the most interesting question looming over each category. 

Best Picture: How Many Fall Fest Premieres Punched Their Tickets?

As we entered Labor Day Weekend, four of the ten Best Picture slots appeared to have been spoken for: the twin box office juggernauts of “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer,” Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” (which won rave reviews at Cannes but won’t open theatrically until October 20), and the summer’s justifiably gushed-over indie drama, “Past Lives.” With most of the year’s other Oscar hopefuls playing the fall fests, how many now feel like probable nominees? 

The closest to a lock is “Poor Things,” Yorgos Lanthimos’ follow-up to 2018’s “The Favourite,” which features Emma Stone in a story that infuses the Frankenstein archetype with comedy and graphic sex. While the film might have initially sounded too weird and transgressive for the Oscars, that perception dramatically shifted after winning the top prize in Venice and receiving almost universally excellent reviews. 

That still leaves five slots, so what else feels like a reasonably safe bet? Alexander Payne’s “The Holdovers” also received strong reviews and was seen as a major return to form for Payne after 2017’s disappointing “Downsizing.” And Cord Jefferson’s debut, “American Fiction,” won the coveted People’s Choice Award in Toronto, which is considered a major Oscar predictor; 14 of the last 15 winners have gone on to Best Picture nominations, including the last 11 in a row. But from there, it gets much more complicated.

Bradley Cooper’s “Maestro,” Sofia Coppola’s “Priscilla,” and Michael Mann’s “Ferrari” all premiered to strong reviews in Venice, while “Rustin” and “NYAD” delighted audiences in Toronto. But with “Oppenheimer” seemingly a lock, how many biopics can realistically get nominated? Three widely adored international films from Cannes continued to make their case at the fall fests: “The Zone of Interest,” “Perfect Days,” and Palme d’Or winner “Anatomy of a Fall.” Any of the three could ride a “Drive My Car”–like wave into Best Picture contention if they galvanize the Academy’s growing international contingent, but they could also all split the vote. And a few other well-received films from the fall fests could become contenders if they really land with audiences: David Fincher’s “The Killer,” Andrew Haigh’s “All of Us Strangers,” Emerald Fennell’s “Saltburn,” Todd Haynes’ “May December” (which premiered at Cannes and will also play the New York Film Festival), and the Sundance hit “Fair Play” (which was also a Gala premiere in Toronto). 

That’s already 13 films fighting for what looks like the final three to four nominations, and two major would-be contenders haven’t even premiered yet: Ridley Scott’s long-anticipated “Napoleon,” starring Joaquin Phoenix, and the new musical adaptation of “The Color Purple,” which opens on Christmas Day. In other words, prepare yourselves for a lot of blistering oppo takes over the next four months. 

Best Director: Is it Finally Christopher Nolan’s Year?

Nolan has been nominated for five Oscars, but somehow, only one of those was for Best Director (for 2017’s “Dunkirk”). The stunning success of “Oppenheimer” may strike voters as the perfect opportunity to honor one of the most adored and successful filmmakers of the 21st century. In case you missed the news, “Oppenheimer” recently became the highest-grossing non-action/sci-fi drama ever, and for a three-hour, partially black-and-white history lesson mostly featuring long-dead scientists talking to one another, that’s an achievement the Academy may find too irresistible to ignore. 

Who could reasonably compete against Nolan? Three names immediately come to mind. Greta Gerwig is Nolan’s Barbenheimer partner in crime, and if jaw-dropping financial success could propel Nolan to the win, Gerwig has to be considered a serious contender for the same reason. Martin Scorsese has still only won a single Oscar (against 14 nominations), and “Killers of the Flower Moon” could become one of the most acclaimed films in his career. And if “Poor Things” musters in audiences anything close to the gushing enthusiasm it elicited from critics, Yorgos Lanthimos could also become a serious contender. 

There’s a great chance those will be four of the five nominees. If that happens, then who has the best odds of taking the last slot? Bradley Cooper (“Maestro”), Sofia Coppola (“Priscilla”), David Fincher (“The Killer”), Andrew Haigh (“All of Us Strangers”), Todd Haynes (“May December”), Cord Jefferson (“American Fiction”), Michael Mann (“Ferrari”), Alexander Payne (“The Holdovers”), Ridley Scott (“Napoleon”), and Celine Song (“Past Lives”) will all have a chance to stake their claim. But the Academy’s Directors Branch leans heavily international, esoteric, and arthouse, so more than likely, the final slot will go to an international auteur like Jonathan Glazer (“The Zone of Interest”), Justine Triet (“Anatomy of a Fall”), or the great Wim Wenders (“Perfect Days”), who has been nominated three times for Best Documentary Feature, but never for his narrative films. 

Best Actor: Are We Already Down to Six Serious Contenders?

As summer ended, two actors felt safely in contention: Cillian Murphy as the titular “Oppenheimer” and Leonardo DiCaprio for “Killers of the Flower Moon.” In what is usually an impossibly deep category, the big question heading into the fall fests was how many additional names would insert themselves into the fight for those other three slots. But shockingly, the answer might only be four. 

That list starts with Paul Giamatti, who anchors “The Holdovers” with a wonderfully vulnerable portrayal of an ornery academic. Alexander Payne’s films have a long history of earning nominations for their leading men (including Jack Nicholson, George Clooney, and Bruce Dern), and Giamatti is widely seen as criminally under-rewarded. That descriptor also applies to two other major contenders, Jeffrey Wright (“American Fiction”) and Colman Domingo (“Rustin”), both beloved actors who have never gotten their due and finally have the meaty roles to change that. And then there’s Bradley Cooper (“Maestro”), who can’t be counted out no matter how many times his prosthetic nose trends on Twitter. 

Could anyone else break into that top six and seriously challenge for a nomination? Peter Sarsgaard won Best Actor in Venice for “Memory,” and Glen Powell won raves for his hilarious and charismatic performance in “Hit Man,” but neither film is likely to get released this year. Alden Ehrenreich (“Fair Play”), David Strathairn (“A Little Prayer”), and Gael García Bernal (“Cassandro”) all received Best Actor buzz out of Sundance, but their films have significantly cooled off since then. And Michael Fassbender (“The Killer”), Adam Driver (“Ferrari”), Andrew Scott (“All of Us Strangers”), Jamie Foxx (“The Burial”), and Mads Mikkelsen (“The Promised Land”) all received acclaim at the fall fests, but the enthusiasm likely wasn’t effusive enough to launch them into serious contention. 

That means the best bet to challenge the current top six is probably a performance we haven’t seen yet. Three major candidates come to mind: Joaquin Phoenix as the titular “Napoleon,” Kingsley Ben-Adir in “Bob Marley: One Love” (which is scheduled to open next January but may opt for a late-December Oscar-qualifying run), and Sir Anthony Hopkins playing none other than Sigmund Freud in a movie called “Freud’s Last Session” (which is still in production, but will reportedly open this year). 

Best Actress: Who Will Break Annette Bening’s Heart This Time? 

Let’s get one thing out of the way: Annette Bening could actually, for real, finally win Best Actress this year for her tough, physical, and demanding performance as swimmer Diana Nyad in “Nyad.” She worked her ass off in the film, both on camera and in prep, and she’ll certainly be a sentimental favorite among a significant swath of Academy voters. But this is a stacked field, and given the Academy’s recent resistance to narrative and “they’re due” wins (recall the shocking losses that befell Glenn Close, Chadwick Boseman, and Sylvester Stallone in recent years), it does Bening no favors to call her the favorite. 

Who is the favorite? The answer may lie in a reunion from “The Favourite.” In her latest collaboration with Yorgos Lanthimos, Emma Stone dazzled critics at both Venice and Telluride. When a role is both the most acclaimed and most daring of a major star’s career, Oscar voters often find that combo irresistible. But right up there with Stone is Margot Robbie, who not only led “Barbie” to the year’s highest box office gross, but she also shepherded the film into existence as its producer. It’s easy to imagine her incredible accomplishment culminating in a Best Actress win. 

But the major contenders don’t end there. Lily Gladstone is the top-billed actor in “Killers of the Flower Moon,” and she provides the film’s emotional backbone. Cailee Spaeny won Best Actress in Venice for her titular portrayal of Priscilla Presley in Sofia Coppola’s “Priscilla,” and given the child-bride nature of the story, it’s sure to be a much-debated film that could make a dent in the cultural zeitgeist. 

Those could be our five nominees, but several other actresses have a great chance to break in. That list starts with Sandra Hüller, who owns the screen in the Palme d’Or–winning “Anatomy of a Fall.” Hüller has had an incredible year (she also co-stars in “The Zone of Interest”) and fluently speaks three languages between the two films. It’s easy to picture voters wanting to honor her. That also applies to Greta Lee for her bilingual and deeply emotional performance in “Past Lives,” and it will surely help her that the film’s cast was just granted a SAG exemption to campaign for the film. 

Those seven names should all have an excellent chance at making the final five, but we’re not done yet. By all accounts, Carrie Mulligan is actually the central performance in Bradley Cooper’s “Maestro,” and she received top billing. Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor anchors Ava DuVernay’s ambitious “Origin,” which was a bit divisive in Venice and Toronto, but those who love it do so wholeheartedly. Natalie Portman, playing an actress researching a difficult role in “May December,” could play like catnip to Academy voters. As the star of the upcoming musical version of “The Color Purple,” Fantasia Barrino could easily find herself in the race if the film is a critical and/or commercial hit. 

And there are even some legit dark horse candidates. It currently doesn’t look like Jessica Chastain (“Memory”) and Kate Winslet (“Lee”) will see their films released this year, but they could become fast contenders if that changes. Phoebe Dynevor is incredible in the psycho-sexual, gender-dynamics drama “Fair Play,” and if it really hits with audiences when it premieres on Netflix in a few weeks, she could ride that momentum to a nomination. And Leonie Benesch is magnetic in the German Oscar entry “The Teachers’ Lounge,” which could be a strong contender for Best International Film. 

Best Supporting Actor: Is it Still Ryan Gosling vs. Robert Downey Jr.?

When Barbenheimer had its grand summer moment, competing takes were flying left and right that either Ryan Gosling would surely win Best Supporting Actor for hilariously embodying Ken, or that Robert Downey Jr. would surely win Best Supporting Actor for his scenery-chewing in “Oppenheimer.” 

Either could absolutely still happen, but are those still the two best bets? Yes and no. While no one else has entered the race with the heat and momentum of Gosling and Downey Jr., the field has certainly gotten a lot deeper. But what’s interesting about this year’s Best Supporting Actor race is that it’s flush with pairs of actors from the same film, all of whom may hurt one another’s chances. 

Robert Downey Jr. may already be competing against some of his “Oppenheimer” cast mates, starting with Matt Damon (whose performance is less showy in the moment but arguably more memorable). And three of the other most acclaimed films of the year could each launch multiple contenders into the field: Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe, and Ramy Youssef in “Poor Things”; Robert De Niro and Jesse Plemons in “Killers of the Flower Moon”; and Paul Mescal and Jamie Bell in “All of Us Strangers.” Other possibilities include John Magaro (“Past Lives”), newcomer Dominic Sessa (“The Holdovers”), Jacob Elordi (“Priscilla”), Sterling K. Brown (“American Fiction”), Tommy Lee Jones (“The Burial”), and Colman Domingo or Corey Hawkins from the upcoming “The Color Purple.” But at this moment, it still feels like a Gosling v. Downey Jr. showdown.

Best Supporting Actress: Where Are the Frontrunners?

Every year, one major category seems to emerge from the fall fests without a true frontrunner, and this year, it’s Best Supporting Actress. There are plenty of worthy candidates, but none have really emerged from the pack. Who could take the lead? 

As with so many of these races, the conversation begins with Barbenheimer. America Ferrara is, in many ways, the emotional center of “Barbie,” and she even gives the film’s most memorable speech. And though “Oppenheimer” is mostly three hours of men talking to each other, Emily Blunt and Florence Pugh make a real impression on the film. 

The fall fests launched several names into the mix, including Jodie Foster, who anchors “NYAD” by being the most likable and sympathetic character; Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who provides a wonderful counterweight to a film (“The Holdovers”) that could have otherwise devolved into frustrating unawareness of its own white privilege; Penélope Cruz, who by all accounts steals the show in “Ferrari”; and Rosamund Pike, who does the same in “Saltburn.”

But the winner of this category could easily go to a movie that premiered earlier in the year. Sandra Hüller is terrifying as a Nazi wife in “The Zone of Interest,” who cares more about showing off her garden than she does about what’s happening on the other side of the walls at Auschwitz. Viola Davis nearly runs away with "Air" as Michael Jordan’s mother. And Julianne Moore is given a difficult character to wrestle with in “May December.” 

And then two huge ensembles could each launch several candidates into the race if they really hit with audiences. Issa Rae, Erika Alexander, and Tracee Ellis-Ross all take turns stealing scenes in “American Fiction,” and “The Color Purple” has any number of meaty roles—two of which are played by Taraji P. Henson and Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor—that could end up being the film’s breakout.

- Peter Sobczynski

“The Expendables” had a simple enough concept—gather a bunch of '80s-era action cinema icons, including Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Dolph Lundgren, and Mickey Rourke, and bring them together for an old-school-style shoot-em-up in which they, along with such current familiar faces (and pecs) as Jason Statham, Jet Li, Randy Couture, and Steve Austin, joined forces to blow things up real good. The film was no masterpiece, but the aggressively retro approach—it felt like exactly the kind of thing that the late great Cannon Films might have conjured up if they were still in business—had a certain lunkheaded charm, and it wound up being a surprise hit. Two sequels followed in 2012 and 2014, and while neither one lived up to the exceedingly mild promise of their predecessor, they served their purpose as B-movie fodder and a way for veteran action stars (including Harrison Ford, Chuck Norris, Wesley Snipes, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Antonio Banderas and, inexplicably, Kelsey Grammer) to kill a couple of adequately-paid weeks reliving the good old days—sort of the genre equivalent of a Hall of Fame game.

That said, it has been nearly a decade since the poorly-received third film was released, and despite no discernible outcry for its return, the franchise has been revived with “Expend4bles.” Okay, perhaps “revived” is not quite the right word to describe this laughably lazy exercise in utility-grade meat-and-potatoes filmmaking. It's the kind of concussive contrivance that, to judge by the closing credits, seems to have more co-producers than actors with speaking roles and where the countless shootings, stabbing, and punches on display are nowhere near as excruciating as the listlessness with which they have been presented here.

This time around, veteran Expendables Barney (Stallone), Christmas (Statham), Gunner (Lundgren) and Toll (Couture) are joined here by new recruits Easy Day (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson) and Galan (Jacob Scipio), who is supposed to be the son of the Banderas character, for a brand-new top-secret mission supervised by the shadowy CIA agent Marsh (Andy Garcia). Arms dealer Rahmat (Iko Uwais) and his army of goons have broken into one of Gaddafi’s old chemical plants in Libya and stolen a bunch of nuclear detonators for Ocelot, a mystery figure who decimated another squad of Barney’s years earlier. Alas (Spoiler Alert, barely), the mission goes sideways for Barney. When Christmas deviates from the plan in an effort to save him, he winds up getting booted from the group entirely.

However, there is still a loose Ocelot out there, and when it appears that they are hoping to instigate WW III between the U.S. and Russia, the Expendables once again go off to save the day, this time with Marsh along for the ride and with the leadership of the group taken by Gina (Megan Fox), who also happens to be the on/off girlfriend of Christmas to boot. Of course, Christmas won’t take no for an answer, and, accompanied by another old friend of Barney’s, Decha (Tony Jaa), also sets off in pursuit. Eventually, they all wind up on a massive shipping vessel containing the set-to-explode bomb and battle waves of anonymous bad guys as they try to save the world in the ta-daa nick of time.

My problem with “Expend4bles” is not that it is a boneheaded action film; it has been made with such obvious indifference from all involved that you can practically feel their contempt in every scene. The screenplay by Kurt Wimmer, Max Adams, and Tad Daggerhart conjures up the kind of slapdash narrative one rarely encounters outside Mad Libs. Director Scott Waugh proves to be equally lackadaisical in his duties—the big action beats are staged in a startlingly flat manner that's further dulled by some of the chintziest CGI I have seen in a major movie in a while. There are many points where "Expend4bles" feels less like a legitimate continuation to a franchise that has been quite profitable to many involved and more like a cheapo television pilot that was mercifully scuttled before it could air. 

The film's biggest, most inexplicable flaw is that it takes the irresistible hook that has driven the franchise to date—the chance to see past action icons strutting their stuff once again—and bizarrely elects to dispose of it here. At least in those earlier movies, there was a certain degree of frisson, as it were, at the sight of seeing the likes of Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Willis together for the first time (at least outside of a Planet Hollywood stockholders meeting) and the first two sequels managed to keep that up as it brought new old faces into the fold. Here, with fewer returning cast members than before (and with Stallone himself barely in it), the balance shifts heavily towards the newer additions and, except for martial arts faves Jaa and Uwais (who contribute the only real thrills during the brief moments when they show their stuff), none of them are exactly action icons and a couple of them stretch the definition of “star” to the breaking point. The most ridiculous of the bunch by far is Fox, who seems to be there to serve as a reminder of that once-promised all-female “Expendabelles” spinoff and to show us that she can do anything that her male co-stars can. In this case, however, “anything” seems limited to delivering every line in a monotone and looking made up to such a degree that she might have shot this between set-ups for this year's Sports Illustrated photoshoot.

"Expend4bles" is just an embarrassment from start to finish, and the only positive thing to say about it is that it should pretty much put a nail in the coffin of a series that has clearly overstayed its welcome. At least for another decade. 

Now playing in theaters. 

- Robert Daniels
It Lives Inside

It begins with your standard shot, a camera tracking through a modest but deteriorated home. In the abode’s hallways are dead, crumpled bodies. Screams can be heard emanating from an ajar door leading to the basement. We travel down creaky stairs to a body burned so badly that steam is still rising from the charcoaled skin. Its hand is outstretched to a glass jar filled with black smoke. This jar is merely a vessel, a metaphor for the difficulties faced by the Indian inhabitants of this white suburb. 

“It Lives Inside,” the feature directorial debut from Bishal Dutta, trades in cultural mythology and rote atmospheric frights to tell the story of Samidha (a captivating Megan Suri). A smart, very popular student Samidha—she goes by Sam—is the kind of typical teenager with an overbearing mom (Neeru Bajwa) and a crush on the popular boy (Gage Marsh) at school common for these films. Her former best friend, Tamira (Mohana Krishnan), is well, going through it. Sleep-deprived and talking to herself, she totes the same glass jar we saw earlier. 

It’s enough to worry her teacher Joyce (Betty Gabriel), who approaches Sam and asks her to talk with Tamira. Sam, unfortunately, doesn’t want to be associated with the “crazy” Brown person and rebuffs Joyce’s pleas to stick together. She also ignores Tamira’s story about a specter haunting her. Sam doesn’t believe her friend until she accidentally breaks the jar. Tamira mysteriously goes missing; the creepily designed ghoul, composed of tiny teeth, comes to Sam’s dreams and begins attacking others around her. What follows is a movie that wants to be a teen movie and an allegory for the immigrant experience but never wholly coheres. 

Many will compare the mechanics of the film’s monster, a Pishach, to “The Babadook.” Both beings demonstrate a desire to isolate their victims and work on their psyche. But the mythical being from Hindu and Buddhist mythology predates Jennifer Kent’s film, speaking to the universality of how loneliness can warp the brain. The film translates that sense of othering, leading to assimilation, that can happen to Black and Brown people amid a white ecosystem. Sam, for instance, doesn’t want to go by her Indian name; she hangs out with micro-aggressive white kids over Tamira; she rarely speaks Hindi anymore and doesn’t bring anyone over to her home. Those decisions put her at odds with her traditionalist mother, causing your prototypical friction between parents and first-generation Americans to arise. 

One wishes Dutta pulled the weight of assimilation further, closer to what Remi Weekes did with “His House,” another horror flick similarly affixed to the immigrant experience. There are some hints that Dutta wants to take that route: We learn how the monster may have origins back in India and that it has passed between multiple Indian families, individuals who also feel isolated. But Dutta is too concerned with fashioning a less-than-successful suburban teen narrative. 

The primary reason Sam wants to fit in, as with any teen, but especially someone afraid of the cultural repercussions that come from being different, is for social cache. When one of her teenage friends is murdered in her presence, however, we never see the ramifications for Sam at school. She just continues to go to class. For an area suspicious of Brown people, these pearl-clutching white folks certainly aren’t searching for any answers. There’s no police presence, no outreach from the kid’s parents, no confrontation between Sam and literally anybody in this tiny community. It simply makes no sense. If you want to be a teen movie, you must keep viewers in that milieu rather than relying on the basic building blocks cobbled from other, better films.  

The visual language restricts the viewer too: While Dutta and cinematographer Matthew Lynn rely on close-ups (granting an immersive touch), they also love copying Spike Lee’s double dolly shot. Rather than waiting for a key moment to unleash it, however, they use the move three times, each less successful in translating the interior angst felt by Sam than the last. Bad match cuts meant to instill horror fall flat, too, as does the basic sound design. The final freakout, a showdown in a basement between Sam and the monster, stretches on for far too long, losing rhythm and pace as Dutta maneuvers for an avenue to a sequel. 

Telling an Indian-American horror story, particularly one set in suburbia, should have allowed for plenty of rich opportunities. With major deficiencies like plot, themes, and tension holding Dutta’s film back, “It Lives Inside” is merely average on the outside.

Now playing in theaters. 

- Glenn Kenny
The Origin of Evil

The French actress Laure Calamy is largely known to U.S. viewers for her work in the French series “Call My Agent,” which developed a strong following here via Netflix. The 48-year-old is fortunate not to be American, given the dearth of respect and meaningful roles bestowed on female performers her age in Hollywood. Her appeal here nevertheless speaks to a real problem in stateside casting practices. In the meantime, that appeal means the U.S. release of her work on the Continent, showing a nice range. She’s great fun in the bouncy rom-com “My Donkey, My Lover, & I” and in “The Origin of Evil,” a gnarly, knotty thriller co-written (with Fanny Burdino) and directed by Sébastien Marnier, Calamy gives a dramatic performance of unsettling depth.

Her role is of a down-at-heels ex-convict who works at an anchovy-packing plant, yech. The environment and the largely lost souls who work in it are conveyed in a widescreen frame that’s almost entirely grayscale. She’s being kicked out of her rented room by a landlady who’s reuniting with her estranged daughter. Her imprisoned girlfriend refuses a visit. One nervous night, she calls a man who lives in Porquerolles, an island off the Cote d’Azur. This rich man had a daughter out of wedlock many years ago. And so Calamy’s character introduces herself as Stéphane, the long-lost child, and secures an invite to visit the old man.

Once off the ferry and in the villa belonging to wealthy restaurateur Serge (white-haired, bearlike Jacques Weber), the movie’s color palette changes as the matriarch of the house, Louise (Dominique Blanc, giving off strong Bette Davis/Baby Jane vibes) coordinates her nouveau-riche tacky outfits to match the Douanier-Rousseau hues of the furniture. Serge and Louise’s oldest daughter, George (Doria Tillier), is a more low-key dresser and an impeccably cold customer. Sensing, not quite without reason, that Stéphane is sniffing around for an inheritance at least, she instructs Stéphane to leave the island and not return.

But Stéphane has a plan, one that starts with impressing Serge. She tells the family she founded and runs that anchovy-packing plant and lies so quickly and effortlessly that the viewer’s jaw almost drops. She’s framed as a kind of rooting interest here, so vapid, sniping, and nasty are the other members of Serge’s clan. But as the specifics of her scheme become evident—and they are tied in explicitly to her relationship with that prison inmate—Calamy’s character becomes less ingratiating.

This is one of those thrillers in which almost nobody is who they seem to be. And those who are, are definitively unhinged. In Stéphane, Serge sees an exit ramp to an onerous situation—his family, led by George, who claims to have “saved” his business, is seeking a guardianship that the aging Serge is loath to accept, and he enlists Stéphane to testify on his behalf at a hearing. Again, we sympathize with the poor old guy at first. But soon, we’re asking whether Serge is in fact a kindly patriarch besieged by vultures or himself a monster.

In this film, lying is hard to stop once you’ve started. So is, as it turns out, killing. The web spun by “The Origin of Evil” arguably features one twist too many, but the viewer is in for more than a pound by the time it happens. Largely thanks to Calamy’s rock-solid performance. 

Now playing in select theaters and available on demand. 

- Monica Castillo
Something You Said Last Night

A family vacation is off to a bumpy start in Luis De Filippis’ feature debut, “Something You Said Last Night.” Ren (Carmen Madonia) is stealing puffs from her illicit vape to cope with the stress of life when her disapproving mom, Mona (Ramona Milano), isn’t watching. Her sister Siena (Paige Evans) looks like annoyance personified, disgusted that she’s been dragged out to a vacation in cottage country that even their dad Guido (Joey Parro) can’t muster enough enthusiasm for to stop scrolling on his cell phone. His daughters are similarly glued to their screens as if they were waiting out the vacation so they can pile back into the car. While Siena finds a little summer love as a distraction, her sister Ren barely tolerates her mom’s incessant scolding. As tensions in the Canadian-Italian family come to a boil, just when will the arguments begin? 

De Filippis’ family drama is a taut domestic number, with each character’s mounting frustration taking turns escalating into a series of volatile fights. The unspoken resentment of many years, parents’ disappointments, and the tried and true conflict of sibling rivalry pour out into the rented kitchen and living room like steam escaping from a kettle. But De Filippis’ “Something You Said Last Night” isn’t just one big family war game either. It’s just as much about the smaller, quieter pains of feeling like your parents won’t listen, or your kids are disrespecting you. Her camera captures both sides' silent eye rolls and exasperated sighs. No one is an outright villain, and everyone feels like they’re in the right about picking each fight. Perhaps what's most is disturbing is how familiar this drama feels: sisters fighting over petty things and trading catty insults to get back at one another, mom’s needling questions and her outsized responses when she gets an answer she doesn’t like, dad looking silently on, a touch hurt and maybe even confused as to why everyone else is screaming loud enough to be heard outside. Yet, these few moments of peace, of inside jokes and hugs, prove there’s more to this family than verbal spats. 

Although there are conflicts aplenty, from arguing over a hat that takes a surprising amount of time to resolve to barely tolerating a pottery painting session with mom to not texting after leaving all night, De Filippis almost entirely skips mentioning that her main character is a trans woman. Ren is just who she is, and although the family fights can get pretty mean, no one picks on her for being a trans woman. She is accepted by her family, and even if she butts heads with her mother almost constantly, Mona is the first to defend her daughter against any ignorant comments. De Filippis, also a trans woman, focuses instead on exploring the relationship dynamics in the family and their many highs and lows in a few short days. 

Madonia, who plays Ren, finds the perfect sense of mid-twenties millennial ennui—that uncertainty about the direction of one’s life, the creeping sense that there’s more to the world than you may possibly afford, the clashing desires to be independent but still need the occasional parental support. Tall and willowy, Ren is one of the calmer personalities in the group, but she’s just as expressive when it comes to her body language, betraying a little childish resentment whenever fighting with her mom or sister. She’s had a taste of independence away from home and doesn’t want to give it up or feel like a burden to her parents. Ren acts guarded from the rest as if she is keeping an emotional distance even if she knows she has to move back. 

Playing up that sense of bygone family vacations, De Filippis and cinematographer Norm Li filmed “Something You Said Last Night” on 35mm, giving the movie a nostalgic quality that makes even a crowded shoreline and sandwiches in the sun look good. De Filippis surfaces these memories and feelings in a way that is specific to this family but is very relatable for any one of us who have fought with siblings in our adulthood, unsure how to break bad news to our parents, and how coming out as a writer will always disappoint moms. This family isn’t picture perfect, but the way De Filippis tells their story is pretty flawless.

Now playing in theaters. 

- Chaz Ebert
TIFF 2023 Video: Festival Highlights Including Spike Lee Receiving the TIFF Ebert Director Award publisher Chaz Ebert's video dispatch from the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival features footage of TIFF Tribute Awards Gala, including the presentation of the TIFF Ebert Director Award to "Do the Right Thing" filmmaker Spike Lee by Ebert, "Moonlight" director Barry Jenkins and TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey. The video also includes talk about the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, a few of the festival's enticing selections and footage of Ebert's interview with "American Fiction" star Jeffery Wright at Cannes 2023. The written transcript of the video follows...

The Toronto International Film Festival 2023 had a very strong lineup. We are all mindful and supportive of the ongoing actor and writer strikes. Still, there was plenty to see and talk about. However, as you can see, I’m still in my Barbenheimer mode. Congratulations to Greta Gerwig for being the first woman director to bring in over a billion dollars at the box office.

This year, I was extremely pleased to be joined by Barry Jenkins to present the TIFF/Ebert Director Award to Spike Lee. As I was getting ready that evening, however, I realized that in over 30 years of attending film festivals all over the world, I had never seen a Black male director receive an award from a Black woman at a film festival headed by a Black male with another Black male director on stage at the same time. It was an historic night.

And Spike often reminds people of the time that my late husband Roger backed him up at the Cannes film festival against those who thought “Do the Right Thing” should not be screened in America.

Other awardees at the TIFF Tribute Awards included director Pedro Almodóvar, actor/director Patricia Arquette, cinematographer Łukasz Żal, actress Vicky Krieps, Brazilian filmmaker Carolina Markowicz, Canadian producer/director Shawn Levy and actor Colman Domingo.

Domingo starred in two films at TIFF, including “Rustin,” one of my favorites of the festival. Directed by George C. Wolfe, the film chronicles intellectual civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, whose opponents didn’t want him to participate in the 1963 March on Washington because he was gay, even though he organized it. Domingo’s performance is getting some early Oscar buzz. The Netflix film was produced by former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle’s production company, Higher Ground Productions. It will start streaming on Friday, November 17th.

Another film I connected with was “Lee”, directed by cinematographer-turned-director, Ellen Kuras. Kate Winslet stars as Lee Miller, the former Vogue model who became one of the few women correspondents covering World War II. Making the film even more personal for me, just a few weeks earlier, I had visited Lee Miller’s actual home in Sussex, England, and had a tour from her son Antony Penrose, who wrote the book upon which the film is based. Lee Miller led a fascinating life and her work in documenting Nazi atrocities has been invaluable to history.

A few other films receiving excellent buzz out of Toronto include Andrew Payne’s “The Holdovers”, Azazel Jacobs “His Three Daughters”, starring Natasha Lyonne, Elizabeth Olsen, and Carrie Coon, and Cord Jefferson’s “American Fiction” starring Jeffrey Wright, whom I interviewed at Cannes. The closing night film this year was the documentary “Sly”, profiling the life and legacy of Sylvester Stallone. Accompanying the film was an art exhibit featuring numerous works by Stallone as well as his original script for “Rocky”.

TIFF is always a warm, inviting festival and this year was no exception. For that, we can thank our Canadian neighbors to the north and festival CEO Cameron Bailey. Thank you so much. We look forward to returning next year.

- Matt Zoller Seitz
The Storms of Jeremy Thomas

Mark Cousins is equally known for film writing and filmmaking. The two overlap to such an extent that by if you tried to draw a Venn diagram showing the relationship between them, it would just be a circle. A critic, scholar, programmer and documentarian, Cousins is best known for "The Story of Film: An Odyssey” and its variants, including "A Story of Children and Film" and "The Story of Film: The New Generation” as well as for more, shall we say, idiosyncratic works. "The Eyes of Orson Welles" is framed as a letter to the director, who died in 1985, while "What is this Film Called Love?" is a walking tour of Mexico City with Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein (1898-1948) as imaginary travel companion, and "Bigger than the Shining," a film about copyright and the question of whether two people can every really see the "same" film, was only shown once and then intentionally destroyed. Cousins works so intuitively and personally, often generating whole projects off a sudden insight or inspiration ("A Story of Children and Film" was sparked by looking at home video footage of his niece and nephew) that the results are necessarily going to be hit and miss.  

"The Storms of Jeremy Thomas," about the career of one of the most important film producers of the last 50 years, is one of Cousins' best and most entrancing films. It's a "road movie" that follows Thomas, the producer of "The Last Emperor," "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence," "Sexy Beast," "Crash," "The Naked Lunch," and other notable features, as they drive from the UK to the Cannes Film Festival, with both Thomas and his biographer ruminating on what the work means and where it came from. As is usually the case with Cousins, it's impossible to coldly analyze why this movie feels so on-point while others might seem half-baked, and there will surely be reviews contrary to the one you're reading.  

This one has a different feel from a lot of the others, partly because even though the films Cousins name-checks are well-known or semi-known (at least to the sort of person inclined to seek this documentary out), in terms of his human subject he's got a blank canvas to paint on. Thomas is a friend of Cousins and has a long and impressive resume, but his name is largely unknown to the moviegoing public. (When he accepted the Best Picture Oscar for producing Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Last Emperor," most viewers didn't know his name until the broadcast booth flashed it onscreen.) The freshness of the subject lets Cousins paint an audiovisual portrait of Thomas (and himself; there's always a lot of Cousins in every Cousins film) using the intellectual/aesthetic divining rod techniques he's been developing for decades while neutralizing nitpicks about why he spent so much time on this part of the subject's life and not enough on that, and whether the overall approach suits the subject. 

"The Storms of Jeremy Thomas" arrives in time for the 50th anniversary of the Recorded Picture Organization, which Thomas founded in 1974. A scion of a film industry family (he'd be called a "nepo baby" if he came up today), he's described by Rebecca O'Brien, a producer for Ken Loach and Lynne Ramsay, as "a producer's producer. His history with amazing European filmmakers and beyond is just incomparable." He made multiple films with Bertolucci (including "The Sheltering Sky" and "The Dreamers") as well as Nicolas Roeg ("Bad Timing: A Sensual Obsession," "Eureka," "Insignificance") and David Cronenberg (one of the liveliest sections has Thomas recalling the premiere of the latter’s “Crash,” which prompted the Daily Mail headline "a movie beyond the bounds of depravity"). 

Thomas, now 74, is a compelling camera subject even when silent, and more so when speaking. He drives like "a teenager," per Cousins' narration; survived cancer, and evolved due to his brush with death; worships the bohemian or liberated sensibilities of European artists, and has the rumbling baritone voice of an old French character actor.

It seems as if most of Thomas' interviews with Cousins were recorded separately from the shoot itself and then treated as voice-over narration to accompany the footage Cousins shot of the Cannes trip and the clips he selected to accompany the career analysis. The separation of narration and image seems awkward initially but ultimately proves a masterstroke. It makes the movie play like a deathbed "exit interview" by somebody who's still very much alive, evoking the sort of quasi-European art cinema movie that would've sparked young Jeremy Thomas' imagination before he decided to get into the producing business and make his own equivalents. 

Cousins' narration compares Thomas to Virginia Wolff in a list of artists who possess "quiet radicalism," along with painters Francis Bacon and J.M.W. Turner and filmmaker Michael Powell. It's a reach within the film's grasp. The intertwining of Thomas' and Cousins' voice-overs subtly connects the film to that formative period in English language fiction in the late 19th and early 20th century when Wolff and other writers were innovating in hopes of approximating the complexity of personality and consciousness. And it helps the audience navigate the disparate sections of the movie, which go wherever the crests and troughs of Thomas and Cousins' interactions take them.

Buffs interested in discovering what Thomas thought of boldfaced names he's worked with won't find much in the way of salacious gossip or shocking revelations. But the tidbits are fun and enlightening. Debra Winger (of "The Sheltering Sky") and Tilda Swinton (with whom Thomas has collaborated on numerous projects related to filmmaking and film exhibitions) sit for interviews with Cousins about Thomas and praise his energy, openness, and resourcefulness. It's a mutual admiration society: Thomas describes them as kindred spirits whose instincts help unify and clarify a movie's themes and intent. Thomas also talks about "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence" costar David Bowie (mainly concerning celebrity); Marlon Brando, who gave one of his last film performances in the little-seen Thomas-produced Johnny Depp film "The Brave" (Thomas calls him "one of the best"), and Tony Curtis, who explained his tendency to caress cameras placed near him for closeups by explaining: "Mr. Thomas, it loves me, baby."

Cousins' narration gets a bit MFA fiction workshop at certain points, but that's a feature of his work, not a bug (in another life, he might've been a novelist, possibly in a Beat writer mode). The film is organized around storms and divided into numbered chapters with titles like "Sex" and "Death." It gets a bit fanboyish when delving into the sexual and political content of Thomas' projects. Cousins accounts for this by noting that his own tastes were partly formed by watching Thomas' movies.

Regardless, there’s a place in current documentary cinema for a lament about how the relentless corporatization of mainstream films helped feed a squirmy Puritanism that eschews psychological complexity as well as adult sexuality and insists that bad behavior be labeled as such. "The Storms of Jeremy Thomas" encourages viewers to broaden their horizons and seek out unknown and possibly uncomfortable work. It portrays the '70s, '80s, and '90s as a lost continent of handsomely funded movies aimed at sophisticated and curious adults rather than The Kid Inside All of Us. The voyeuristic impulse that has always fueled cinema to some degree is acknowledged in several film clips, such as the brother in "The Dreamers" watching his sister and the visiting American getting intimate, and the title character in the Thomas-produced "Dom Hemingway" proclaiming that a painting of his johnson "should hang in the Louvre." 

Cinema, Swinton says in an interview with Cousins, "asks for something visceral. And that's the best cinema: the cinema that asks for that." Cousins praises Thomas for helping important filmmakers push right up to the edge of whatever lines were being drawn at the time, then go over because that's what art is empowered to do. Cousins joins the movement himself by pairing a rumination about Thomas' libertine sympathies ("is the producer, the prince, a petrol head, a bohemian?") with a video selfie taken while he's wading naked in the pool of the house Thomas rented at Cannes (full-frontal, but partly obscured by water). 

"I like the counterculture," Thomas says at one point, summing everything up. "I'm not seeking the popular culture. I enjoy a Spielberg movie like everybody else. But they're not what I'm looking for. The most famous paintings are available to all, out in the first hall in the museum. The counterculture is something you sort have to look for it. You have to find it."

Now playing in theaters. 

- Marya E. Gates
My Sailor, My Love

At the heart of “My Sailor, My Love,” the English language debut from Finnish filmmaker Klaus Härö, is a prickly tale of familial love gone sour and romantic love found almost too late. Although it attempts to tackle the heavy theme of generational trauma, it too often forgoes the more insightful aspects of its family drama in favor of an overly trite twilight romance.

Härö opens his film at group therapy, where women open up to each other about their life traumas. When it’s time for Grace (Catherine Walker) to share, she clams up, unable to voice what has brought her to the group. The film then shifts to a sweeping tracking shot of coastal Ireland, following Grace’s car to an isolated home right on the seashore. 

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Fed up with his mess, Grace posts an ad at the local pub for a housekeeper, almost immediately hiring the gregarious older woman Annie (Bríd Brennan). When Annie cooks and cleans and chats about her grandkids, the gruff Howard insults her, and she leaves. Only to, of course, be wooed back by Howard’s apology and a bouquet of flowers. 

The rest of the film cuts back and forth between Grace’s disintegrating life as she loses her job and her husband and Howard and Annie’s burgeoning relationship. It’s the stuff of high melodrama but mostly played at a very muted pace. Grace and her husband have calm, cooled, collected fights rather than rage. Howard and Annie fall for each other through small, shared moments. 

While this all sounds very mature, the execution, especially with the romance, sorely lacks in subtlety. At one point, while picking apples, Howard and Annie reach for the same apple, and their hands graze. There is no hint of irony in how this hackneyed moment is filmed or employed. Aside from a little bit of chemistry and his ability to make her grandkids laugh, it’s hard to see what Annie sees in Howard. In fact, both characters are developed with such broad strokes, their personalities and histories so vague, what depth they contain comes solely from what Cosmo and Brennan bring with their quietly calibrated performances. 

Grace is at least given a much richer personal history, which is slowly teased out. At first, it seems she is just overprotective and controlling of her father’s life. Then, she appears jealous, as she reacts poorly to Howard’s relationship with Annie and the joy he seems to take in becoming part of Annie’s large, boisterous family. But eventually, we realize this growing tension between Grace and Howard stems from a lifetime of neglect and emotional abuse. Her pain from the kind of unique wounds that can only be inflicted by a parent on their child. 

Walker has the most difficult role here. Without alienating the audience, she must show Grace’s hurt, especially her anger. She does this mostly through body language; her constricted breathing clearly holding back years of anguish. Early on, her clipped sentences cut off just when she says something in mixed company that would make her appear to be the bad guy. It’s a dance she’s practiced for years, a trick anyone in this kind of abusive familial relationship knows all too well. When she does slip and say a little too much, it’s like she’s snuffed out oxygen for everyone in the room. And yet, there’s always a little bit of love left, stinging as it sticks in the back of her throat. 

"My Sailor, My Love" is at its best in these moments where it explores Grace’s pain—when it shows how it has poisoned her ability to relate to others, be it the other women in group therapy, her co-workers, her husband, or even herself. 

Unfortunately, because it also wants to be about the healing power of romantic love, Grace’s more nuanced storyline is shelved for long periods in favor of the more clichéd romantic beats of Howard and Annie’s story. And while their story wraps up in as mawkish a way as can be, at least "My Sailor, My Love" knows the final emotional beat belongs to Grace. It’s just too bad the filmmakers weren’t brave enough to make the whole film about her story, too.

Now playing in theaters. 

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Lost in Translation and 20 Years of Debating an Ending Whisper

Over the course of 100 minutes, Lost in Translation explores the relationship between two lost souls. Romantic and well-observed, with rich performances from Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray, the movie captures the longing shared by two people who don’t belong anywhere. And yet, despite the film’s many achievements, the conversation around Lost in Translation has been dominated by one question: “What did he say?”

At the end of the film, aging actor Bob Harris (Murray) hugs young grad student and newlywed Charlotte and whispers something in her ear. Writer-director Sofia Coppola puts just enough of the whisper into the mix to suggest that maybe it should be heard by a viewer who pays enough attention, but not enough to register, even with subtitles. 

For 20 years, some corners of film fandom have obsessed over the question, as if hearing that brief bit of dialogue would unlock the meaning of the movie—as if then they could understand what Charlotte was thinking when she watched a Japanese wedding or what carpet color Bob finally chose for his home back in the States. 

cnx.cmd.push(function() { cnx({ playerId: "106e33c0-3911-473c-b599-b1426db57530", }).render("0270c398a82f44f49c23c16122516796"); }); Lost in Hollywood

When Lost in Translation premiered in September 2003, it found its three principal creatives at a key point in their collective careers. Coppola was following up her well-received 1999 debut feature The Virgin Suicides, which starred Kirsten Dunst as one of six sisters who capture the attention of neighbor boys in 1960s suburban Michigan. Despite the film being the toast of Cannes, to plenty of mainstream moviegoers, Coppola was still best known for her lackluster performance in The Godfather, Part III, which was directed by her father Francis Ford Coppola.

Bill Murray, meanwhile, had gestured more difficult work, such as his Hunter S. Thompson movie Where the Buffalo Roam, or the crime comedy Quick Change, yet most still knew him as the Saturday Night Live funnyman who starred in Ghostbusters and What About Bob? Wes Anderson finally gave him a heavier role that resonated with viewers in 1998’s Rushmore, but no one was prepared for the depths of sadness he the actor was about to bring to Coppola’s Bob Harris. 

And only 17 at the time of filming Lost in Translation, Scarlett Johansson hardly had any reputation at all. She had a few notable roles in indie films, such as Ghost World and Manny & Lo, the latter of which caught Coppola’s eye, but was she was almost entirely unknown to audiences. 

Yet these disparate figures proved to be the perfect alchemy to make Lost in Translation into a success. The trio creates a story about malaise and disconnection, observing the alienation as Bob and Charlotte wander throughout Tokyo. Bob has arrived in the Japanese capital as an American movie star who is far past his prime; he’s now reduced to shooting whisky commercials overseas while avoiding his wife and children. Charlotte, conversely, comes with her young husband John (Giovanni Ribisi), a photographer hired to shoot a Japanese rock band. Neither feels like they belong until they encounter each other and grow increasingly close during the few days they share. 

The movie was a bonafide hit, earning $118.7 million on a $4 million budget. The film earned four Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Murray, and won Coppola the Best Original Screenplay Oscar. And yet, people still obsess over that final whispered line. 

The Online Theories That Get Lost Between Lovers

Speaking about the movie’s 15th anniversary with IndieWire, Coppola revealed the significance of the final whisper… sort of. “That thing Bill whispers to Scarlett was never intended to be anything,” she admitted. “I was going to figure out later what to say and add it in and then we never did.” 

But in retrospect, she sees the unfinished moment that closed the film as a happy accident and not a mistake. “It was between them,” she says of the statement. “Just acknowledging that week meant something to both of them and it affects them going back to their lives.”

However, this hasn’t prevented people from searching for a deeper or definitive. In 2007, Youtube user Vid Vidor claimed to have digitally scrubbed the audio, thereby allegedly isolating Murray’s dialogue. According to their video, Bob tells Charlotte, “I have to be leaving, but I won’t let that come between us, okay?” Shortly after that video went live, it received a boost by the website EW, which in turn caused Vid Vidor’s reading has become the standard answer. Yet if you listen to their scrubbed audio, it still sounds fairly inconclusive, and others have indeed challenged it.

For example, in a video posted in 2009, YouTube user DaeOh suggested that Bill actually says the following: “When John is waiting on the next business trip, go up to that man and tell him the truth, okay?” And even a decade later, reddit threads continue to argue and joke about it. One 2018 user, seems to think Bob says, “Promise me, that the next thing you do, is go up to that man and tell him the truth.”

Does Coppola endorse any of these interpretations? “People always ask me what’s said,” she told IndieWire. “I always like Bill’s answer: that it’s between lovers – so I’ll leave it at that.”

Lost in the Question

While it’s easy to understand why audiences would want to hear what characters say to one another, dialogue is not always the point. In fact, miscommunication is a common theme in Lost in Translation, which Coppola builds by omitting key parts of her narrative.

Take a significant scene in which Bob spends the night with an American Jazz singer (Catherine Lambert) in his hotel bar. We simply see the singer sit down next to Bob after her set. As soon as she says the word “hi,” Coppola immediately cuts to Bob waking up in bed the next morning, aware of the empty space next to him. We don’t see what their romance was like, nor do we see how the two separate. We just see Bob’s loneliness, even in this encounter, and the wedge it drives between him and Charlotte. 

Coppola most obviously uses misunderstandings for comic effect, usually involving Murray and his Japanese co-stars. In one of the movie’s most ridiculous scenes, a sex worker (Nao Asuka) tries to seductively play with Bob, only to have him fumble her flirtations. The scene ends with the worker flailing on the floor, pretending to be ravaged by Bob while Murray flops listlessly atop of her. 

In another sequence, an intense commercial director (Yutaka Tadokoro) gives long instructions in Japanese to Bob, only for translator Ms. Kawasaki (Akiko Takeshita) to give short, terse explanations in English. “Is that all he said?” asks an exasperated Bob, rendered impotent by his inability to share a language with his co-workers. 

Although less comedic, Charlotte has her own share of misunderstandings, often with her husband John. After ranting about a creative disagreement with the band he’s shooting, John looks befuddled when Charlotte asks his opinion on a scarf she’s knitting. Later Charlotte joins John for dinner with his friend, the air-headed Hollywood actress Kelly (a scene-stealing Anna Farris). Coppola keeps her camera largely on Charlotte during these scenes, capturing the hints of despair and disappointment betrayed by Johansson’s face. 

Coppola applies the same techniques to the warmer parts of her film, silently watching the characters when they find belonging. Even away from Bob, Charlotte experiences peace when she visits a garden in rural Tokyo or sees teens playing video games in an arcade. The late-night karaoke sequence signals the consummation of Bob and Charlotte’s relationship and while it does feature plenty of talking/singing, the defining moment occurs when Charlotte rests her head on Bob’s shoulder, no words shared between them. 

As these scenes demonstrate, words do not make meaning in Lost in Translation. Anyone who demands to hear what Bob tells Charlotte at the end will find only words as useless as the faxes John and Bob’s wife send throughout the film. 

Finding the Point

One may ask if the whispered words don’t matter then what is the point of that final scene? We get the answer when we quiet ourselves and engage with what the film does give us: the close-up on Bob and Charlotte’s faces, the buzz of crowd noise enfolding them, the soft grays in cinematographer Lance Acord’s color palette. Those elements come together to provoke a feeling in the viewer, and that’s where the meaning lies. That’s the connection that both the viewer and the film want. 

To look for meaning in something that’s not there is to recreate the errors that Bob and Charlotte make at the start of the movie, leaving viewers lonely and disconnected, missing the depth of feeling Lost in Translation offers if we would only let it be. 

The post Lost in Translation and 20 Years of Debating an Ending Whisper appeared first on Den of Geek.

- Brynnaarens
The Parks and Recreation Cast’s Best Post-Parks Roles

While Parks and Recreation began as a workplace mockumentary launching off of the popularity of The Office, it has since become a pop-culture phenomenon of its own. The series continues to be a fan favorite nearly a decade after the series finale, as do many of the actors that brought this beloved show and the town of Pawnee, Indiana to life. From animation to sci-fi to popular franchises, the Parks and Rec cast has explored a variety of genres and mediums in the years since the series’ end.

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Across film and television, here are the Parks and Recreation cast’s best post-Parks roles.

Amy Poehler – Inside Out

Amy Poehler has been in plenty of live-action roles since Parks and Rec ended, but none have quite matched the heart that Poehler put into voicing Joy in Pixar’s Inside Out. Most of the movie takes place inside the head of Riley, a pre-teen girl who struggles with her family’s move across the country. The personified emotions inside her head struggle with the change as well, with Joy, the de facto leader of the group, pushing for Riley to maintain her childlike happiness, despite the scenarios she finds herself in calling for more nuanced emotions. Voicing an anthropomorphized emotion that struggles with her own emotions is no easy feat, and it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Amy Poehler capturing Joy’s essence so effortlessly.

Nick Offerman – The Last of Us

The Last of Us may not be Nick Offerman’s largest role, but there’s no denying that it’s not only his best, but one of the best in the series. In a slight deviation from the video game that the HBO series is based on, we spend an entire episode with the characters Bill and Frank, the former played by Offerman. Bill is a survivalist who finds a way to live on his own in the post-apocalyptic world that The Last of Us is set in, and is mostly happy with his solitary existence, at least, until Frank stumbles into one of his backyard traps by accident. The two grow to love each other and find a way to live a beautiful life in the town they’ve built for themselves over the years. The episode “Long, Long Time” is one of the best hours of TV in existence, and it wouldn’t be possible without Offerman and Murray Bartlett’s performances.

Aubrey Plaza – Legion

Aubrey Plaza has had plenty of great roles since the end of Parks and Rec. From Child’s Play (2019) to Ingrid Goes West, Plaza has had ample opportunities to flex her acting skills. While many would say that her role as Harper in The White Lotus is her best thus far (this role did get Plaza her first Emmy and Golden Globe nominations), I would argue that FX’s Legion is actually her best project. Whereas Parks and Rec let Plaza scratch the surface of zaniness through April Ludgate, Legion let her truly explore how weird and wild she can be. In Legion, Plaza plays Lenny Busker, a character whose motivations are always under suspicion and keeps us questioning whether or not they are even real. 

Rashida Jones – Silo

Like Nick Offerman in The Last of Us, Rashida Jones’ appearance in Silo is short, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less impactful. In the Apple TV+ series based on Hugh Howey’s Wool novels, Jones plays Allison, the wife of the silo’s sheriff Holston. Set in the future, Silo follows the remnants of humanity who have been forced to live in an underground silo for as long as they can remember. All they see of the outside world is desolation projected on screens from outside sensors. Most evidence of what life was like before was destroyed during a rebellion, but the artifacts that do remain are kept under strict lock and key by the mysterious Judicial and IT departments. Allison comes across one of these artifacts and in the process uncovers a conspiracy that could change life in the silo forever. Allison’s discovery sets the events of Silo into motion, and it’s Jones’ captivating performance in the first couple of episodes that really sets the tone for the rest of the show.

Adam Scott – Severance

It’s always interesting to watch an actor known for their work in comedies try their hand at roles in wildly different genres like horror or psychological thrillers. While Severance certainly isn’t Adam Scott’s first foray away from comedy since his days as Ben Wyatt in Parks and Rec – he also appeared in 2015’s Krampus and the 2019 reboot of The Twilight Zone – his role in this Apple TV+ series is definitely his best. Scott plays Mark Scout, an employee for the biotech company Lumon industries. As part of his employment, he has his consciousness separated between his work and home life. This “severance” causes Scout’s separate existences to increasingly diverge, especially as one grieves the loss of his wife and the other uncovers a conspiracy within the company he works for. But if essentially playing two characters isn’t enough to convince you of his skills, then maybe Scott’s Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for Severance will.

Chris Pratt – Guardians of the Galaxy Trilogy

Technically, the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie came out before Parks and Rec was fully over, but the other two movies in the trilogy came out after the series ended, so I say Chris Pratt’s role as Peter Quill aka Star-Lord counts. Peter Quill and Andy Dwyer do have a lot in common – they’re not always the sharpest tool in the tool box and they love their friends deeply – but playing Star-Lord has given Pratt the opportunity to prove that he can play more than just a lovable goofball. 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 especially lets Pratt explore the emotional side of Starlord as he deals with the aftermath of Thanos and the losses that’s forced him to deal with. After losing so much, it’s interesting to watch Pratt play a version of Quill that’s slightly less arrogant and cocky who’s just doing his best to piece his heart and life back together.

Rob Lowe – Unstable

Unsurprisingly, Rob Lowe’s best role since Parks and Rec is his most family-oriented. Unstable follows the eccentric and slightly narcissistic biotech CEO Ellis Dragon as he struggles with the death of his wife and is forced to try to reconnect with his shy, socially awkward son Jackson. Even though the scenario is fictional and far from their actual relationship, Ellis and Jackson are played by real-life father and son Rob Lowe and John Owen Lowe, which adds an important layer to their characters’ dynamic. The events of the show aren’t just an opportunity for their characters to bond and deepen their relationship, it’s given Rob and John the chance to work creatively on their own project. As far as Rob’s performance in Unstable goes though, it’s clear that he’s mastered walking the fine line between eccentric and creepy weirdo over his decades-long career.

Retta – Good Girls

Parks and Rec wouldn’t be the same without Retta, and the same can be said for Good Girls. In this NBC crime drama, Retta plays Ruby Hill, a waitress struggling to keep up with her daughter’s costly medical treatments. When the financial burden begins to grow beyond her control, she teams up with her best friend Beth (Christina Hendricks) and Beth’s younger sister Annie (Mae Whitman) to rob the local grocery store. While their initial robbery is successful, it also attracts the attention of a local gang, who were using the store as a front for their own illegal activities. Even though this began as a one-time thing for these women to get out of their crushing debt, they start to like the excitement and freedom this new life brings them. Retta does such a great job of portraying Ruby’s complexities as a mom, friend, and criminal, and proves that she can handle a leading role with ease.

Aziz Ansari – Master of None

Aziz Ansari’s career was on an upward trajectory after Parks and Rec. He was given his own series on Netflix, Master of None, which was loosely based on his own life and experiences and an overall critical success. However, a brave woman came forward in 2018 and accused Ansari of sexual misconduct. While this news hasn’t entirely affected Ansari’s career (unfortunately), it certainly makes it harder to remain objective about his work since, especially a project as personal as Master of None

The post The Parks and Recreation Cast’s Best Post-Parks Roles appeared first on Den of Geek.

- Alec Bojalad
Daryl Dixon Just Found the Most Creative Use for Walking Dead Zombies Yet

This article contains spoilers for THE WALKING DEAD: DARYL DIXON episode 3.

Through its many years of zombie dominance, The Walking Dead has understood something important about its undead “stars.” Whether you choose to call them walkers, rotters, roamers, les affamés, or something else – zombies aren’t just monsters, they’re part of the environment.

The survivors on The Walking Dead frequently use zombies as a resource as much as they would use the logs from a downed tree or animal products from a deer. A zombie’s skin and guts can provide useful camouflage. As The Walking Dead: Dead City revealed, the methane drifting off of a zombie’s rotting body can be a fuel source. Even the “newer model” zombies like The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon‘s acidic variants have their purpose as well. Daryl figures out as much in episode 3 “Paris sera toujours Paris” when he uses one of the hot walkers to melt away some vines obscuring a door.

These uses are all fine and good but they’re missing a certain whimsical element. Thus far, nobody has really used zombies for their own amusement. Thankfully, at the very beginning of “Paris sera toujours Paris,” The Walking Dead franchise introduces its most creative and fun application of its undead resource yet. Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats and enjoy a zombie orchestra’s wretched rendition of Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero.”

Eric Frey as The Conductor - The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon _ Season 1, Episode 3 - Photo Credit: Emmanuel Guimier/AMC

The cold open of Daryl Dixon‘s third episode takes some time out for its busy schedule to drop in on a desolate theater where a mad men has conducted the post-apocalyptic concert of his demented dreams. Things start innocuously enough. Daryl (Norman Reedus), Isabelle (Clémence Poésy), Laurent (Louis Puech Scigliuzzi), and Sylvie (Laïka Blanc-Francard) all arrive in a desolate city so that Isabelle can make use of a local musician’s radio to check in with her allies. Unfortunately, there is no working radio as the musician has very thoroughly lost his mind and used the radio’s wires to amplify the sounds of his record player to thunder throughout the theater.

“Now we hear music. You like a show?” the French man says as he guides Daryl and Isabelle to witness the grim tableau he’s concocted.

As the aforementioned 1928 composition “Bolero” blares over the loud-speakers, Daryl and Isabelle are treated to a truly ghoulish scene. The man’s orchestra features: a zombie tied to some drums, no fewer than two undead cellists and three violinists, a disembodied head on a string gently bumping against a harp, and two torsos chortling into some rusted horns. None of “musicians” are actually playing their instruments, mind you, but they do seem to be trying their best. The drummer zombie at the very least does produce some percussion.

“It was a stupid detour,” Daryl mutters as he and Isabelle exit the theater and decide to head directly to Paris.

That is where we’ll have to respectfully disagree with Mr. Dixon. The introduction of a zombie orchestra wasn’t a stupid detour at all. It was a burst of silly creativity that made for some of the most purely fun imagery ever captured in The Walking Dead franchise. Sometimes it’s ok to just have fun for fun’s sake! The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon production designer Clovis Weil happens to agree. Den of Geek caught up with the crafter of the show’s post-apocalyptic French world to discuss what goes in to crafting a zombie orchestra.

“This was really fun to imagine,” Weil says. “At first it was written as some zombies tied up to a chair and playing instruments, which was already a great idea. And then we tried to push it a bit further to have a real weird geek zombie show onstage.”

- The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon _ Season 1, Episode 3 - Photo Credit: Emmanuel Guimier/AMC

Even for such a relatively brief moment onscreen, the creation of a zombie orchestra required the full attention of Weil’s department in addition to Walking Dead producer and gore specialist Greg Nicotero’s zombie team.

“I started thinking about this and making a few drawings. Greg loved them so he did some other drawings,” Weil says. “We needed to make this work together. The universe, the accessories, and the set up was the art department. But obviously the zombie part and the puppet part was what he’s incredibly good at. It was a collaboration together.”

A collaboration together to produce something big, you say? That doesn’t sound entirely unlike a zombie orchestra. Well it actually sounds better than a zombie orchestra as the undead don’t make for the most capable musicians.

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New episodes of The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon premiere Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.

The post Daryl Dixon Just Found the Most Creative Use for Walking Dead Zombies Yet appeared first on Den of Geek.

- Matthew Byrd
Cyberpunk 2077 2.0 Twitch Drop Schedule: How to Earn Every Reward

Cyberpunk 2077’s latest update launched on September 21, packed with ability and equipment reworks, and the game’s sole DLC will land in a few days. To celebrate, CD Projekt RED is teaming up with Twitch to give away free duds that will turn any old choom into a nova Street Samurai.

You can start earning Cyberpunk 2077 Twitch drops on September 25 at 1 pm CEST (7 am EST/4 am PST) by tuning into certain Twitch streams to earn exclusive clothing items inspired by agents of the game’s new U.S. government (NUS for short). Rewards include a pair of NUS Infiltrator Pants, NUS Infiltrator Boots, a NUS Infiltrator Jacket, and NUS Infiltrator Headgear. All you have to do is watch one hour’s worth of a Cyberpunk 2077 stream on an account with active Twitch Drops.

However, unlike most Twitch giveaways, these items will follow staggered schedules. You can earn the NUS Infiltrator Pants starting September 25, but you have to wait until October 3 at 12 am CEST (6 am EST/3 am PST) to make progress towards the NUS Infiltrator Boots and Jacket. The Headgear, meanwhile, is a little more complicated.

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As with the other Cyberpunk 2077 Twitch Drops, if you want the Headgear, you have to watch at least one hour of content on participating streams, but since this item is a custom drop, you need to be a little more selective with your viewing choices. CD Projekt RED has included a list of all the streamers you can watch for the helmet, and odds are you will recognize some of the names. No matter whose stream you join, once you earn an article of clothing through Twitch (and claim it from your Twitch Drops menu), you can find it in-game by visiting V’s apartment. However, clothes aren’t all the collaboration has to offer.

Anyone who watches an affiliated Twitch partner playing Cyberpunk 2077 can give them two Twitch subscriptions of any tier to earn a free Yasha sniper rifle. This iconic weapon is only available through Twitch, and unlike other stream drops, once you fulfill its requirements you will receive a code in your Twitch notification box. Enter the code on the Cyberpunk 2077 code redemption web page, and the sniper rifle will be mailed to your in-game stash within 24 hours.

Like many Twitch Drop giveaways, this Cyberpunk 2077-themed one will be subject to several caveats. First and definitely most importantly, while anyone can watch the participating streams and earn the rewards while doing so, you can’t use them in-game unless you own both the Cyberpunk 2077 base game and its Phantom Liberty DLC. Moreover, unless you link your Twitch and GOG accounts, your rewards will expire after seven days. And if you own Cyberpunk 2077 on Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5, you will also have to link your GOG account to your console copy. Last, but certainly not least, this collaboration giveaway will run until October 21 at 11:59 pm CEST (5:59 pm EST/2:59 pm PST). At present, you will not have the chance to earn these items bast that point.

That’s all you need to know about the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty Twitch Drop program, but CD Projekt RED has stated it might partner with Twitch for future collaborations. Until then, enjoy the free NUS gear.

The post Cyberpunk 2077 2.0 Twitch Drop Schedule: How to Earn Every Reward appeared first on Den of Geek.

- David Crow
Sneaky Movie Sequels That Are Actually Prequels

If a movie franchise can last long enough, sooner or later, it will start eating its own tail. It’s a common grumble when talking about the big boys on the block, Star Wars and Star Trek. Neither feels like it’s willing to move on into the future, pulling fans back to earlier years and rebooting iconic characters in order to refresh—read: re-market—the stories fans love. But they’re not the only adopters of the technique; some franchises get downright sneaky about where in the timeline they’re going to take us next.

For example, little about the upcoming Saw X makes it clear to average moviegoers where the movie fits into the timeline. Franchise fans are probably aware that it’s a sequel-prequel timeline pretzel, fitting itself in between the original film and Saw II, and adding new details about Jigsaw’s obsession with the doctors that failed him. Horror franchises love using prequels to explore their antagonists, so it’s actually wild that it took this long for a prequel (or at least side-quel) in the Saw series to arrive. Horror is far from the only genre to use it, though, as you’ll see.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Three years after the smash success of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Steven Spielberg brought Indy (Harrison Ford) back with a rip-roaring pulp adventure through a fantastical version of India. Along with future Mrs. Spielberg, Kate Capshaw, and introducing today’s beloved new Hollywood king, Ke Huy Quan, Temple of Doom didn’t waste a lot of time or promotion on why there weren’t any Nazis for Indy to fight. For Indy’s purposes, time doesn’t matter as much as history.

A title card at the start of Temple of Doom, however, tells us that the opening scene is in 1935, which makes it clear that this is well before Hitler’s jackbooted minions were stealing God’s goodies from around the world. It’s also a fleeting notification set against a neon lightscape, and it takes hardcore movie or literature fans to keep in mind that this is a pre-war joyride, inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s Gunga Din. Indy’s enthusiasm here is less cynical than it would be in the rest of his films, and that goes a long way to helping us remember that this is him in an earlier time.

The Bourne Ultimatum

The Jason Bourne films can seem impenetrable to non-fans, but there’s a theme of loss and reconnection that ties Robert Ludlum’s terrific amnesiac spy saga together. By the time of The Bourne Ultimatum, Bourne (Matt Damon) has remembered enough about the Treadstone sleeper agent project to want to take it apart. Preceded by The Bourne Supremacy, which saw Jason pulled into a John Wick-style journey of revenge that took him to Moscow, it seemed pretty clear that Ultimatum was the next natural step in his onslaught.

Except, there’s a sly twist hidden in the movie that upends the timeline as we thought we understood it. A phone call between Bourne and CIA deputy Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) reveals Bourne’s real name and birth date—but it’s a scene we’ve already witnessed at the very end of the previous film! With this contact, Bourne’s location in Moscow, and Ultimatum’s breakneck pace in mind, the truth is unmistakable. Almost all of The Bourne Ultimatum takes place in between the last two scenes of The Bourne Supremacy’s ending. It’s one of the most subtle twists in modern action film history.

Tarzan II

When a Disney movie brings in the goods, it’s a guarantee that the Mouse is going to put those characters on a treadmill until they die. Tarzan may be the most confusing victim of this, not because of how many spin-offs there were—creator Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote 24 books and his estate is still chugging—but because Tarzan 2 came out after another sequel to the Disney movie, Tarzan & Jane, was released. Straight to video, the latter film was made of unused TV series episodes to tell a new story. And Tarzan 2? The box art is confusing, showing a young jungle child. Is this Tarzan’s son?

Actually, no. It’s Tarzan himself,  as a young foster child with the heart of a gorilla. He’s fragile compared to his family and in need of a voyage of self-discovery, so it’s time to put a kid in peril. It’s not a lot of peril, and the alleged villain Zugor (George Carlin) turns out to be a funny old dude. The film ends with Tarzan belting out his signature yell for the first time, bookending the original film. Still an unnecessarily confusing title.

Bambi II

Like Tarzan 2, Bambi 2 didn’t give away a lot of information with its title. It’s also a hell of a belated follow-up, coming out almost 60 years after the original film. Styled as a sequel release, it’d be easy to assume it’s about the new Prince of the Forest finding his way through adulthood. But a glance at the cover shows a still-spotted buck deer. The animals around him seem to be Bambi’s own friends, so it’s probably not his kid either.

Sort of like The Bourne Ultimatum, Bambi 2 is a prequel-slash-interquel. There’s a time skip during the original Bambi, where the Great Prince guides Bambi away from tragedy. Bambi 2 fills in that lost time, offering up a father-son story that also sets up Bambi’s rivalry with another buck for the affections of the doe, Faline. The best part of this otherwise okay prequel? Sir Patrick Stewart is the voice of Bambi’s noble dad.

Final Destination 5

Ingrid Bergman would get a kick out of the anthological horror franchise Final Destination. Death isn’t an antagonist so much as a dude really dedicated to making sure every soul gets where it’s supposed to go when it’s time to go. That’s not much different than Bergman’s Death in The Seventh Seal. Every film features a new pack of doomed young adults trying to poker face their way off Death’s day planner. In every film, they mostly, or entirely, fail, even when armed with the knowledge of their predecessors.

That makes Death the only constant in the franchise, which is a nice metaphor for real life, isn’t it? That said, Final Destination 5 pulls off a neat trick. Another movie full of fresh meat for Death’s grinder, it’s the final scene that gives franchise fans a laugh. Two so-far survivors board a plane to Paris and spot a fight breaking out. It’s the same fight that kicks off the events of the very first film, telling the final couple that Death is here with them on the way to Paris, and he’s collecting his lost luggage.

The Thing (2011)

2011’s The Thing features plot points so blatantly patterned after John Carpenter’s masterpiece that plenty of reviewers and moviegoers assumed that it was a remake. Returning to the Arctic, The Thing now features a Norwegian camp. Most of its crew are speaking English just fine as they find “the Thing,” watch the Thing turn rib cages into mouths, assume each other have become the Thing, test blood to find the Thing, and whittle themselves down to the last people standing…. against the the Thing.

And then the one guy, that only one guy who speaks Norwegian, sets off after a dog across the ice. Oops. In retrospect—not a second viewing, because this film isn’t worth that—the clues are there. The blood test is clumsily handled this time, with the Thing doing a bad job at burning the lab to cover its tracks. A fire ax lodges into a wall in a way familiar to fans of the original. And in one of the movie’s better moments, this time the Thing really is mimicking the base commander, not framing the C.O. as it does in the John Carpenter film. So if this is what happened before Kurt Russell got involved, it’s safe to say some Things are better the second time around.

The Cloverfield Paradox

Hot dropped onto Netflix after Super Bowl Sunday’s big game, the third Cloverfield movie wasn’t worth staying up late for. It has a great cast, including Marvel faves Daniel Brühl and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and they do their best with a convoluted plot about dimensional paradoxes and the alternate universes they can spawn. Initially taking place in 2028, Paradox feels like just another random piece of the Cloverfield anthology, with a message about trying to use barely understood science to save our Earth.

One character, Michael (Roger Davies), ends up on a version of Earth undergoing a hell of a kaiju attack, weathering it in a bunker. It’s a predicament that, likely purposefully, brings 10 Cloverfield Lane to mind. The final shot of this janky flick welds the Cloverfield canon together even more firmly: escaping station personnel get to witness the original monster, nicknamed Clover, rise up for a mighty roar. It’s easy to make the assumption that the Paradox, and Clover, have set into motion whatever hell John Goodman was trying to survive in that creepy bunker of his.

Cruel Intentions 2

The ‘90s had a thing about taking classic lit and revamping it into hip, modern situations with teenagers. Jane Austen got it the most, but hey, Clueless is the best adaptation of Emma ever. It’s weird that  the luscious Dangerous Liaisons, a French epistolary drama best known for an ‘80s film version where Glenn Close and John Malkovich ate the set whole while Keanu Reeves looked on confused, received an update. Cruel Intentions can’t match this lusty tale of social revenge, but it’s a clever attempt. The DVD-only Cruel Intentions 2, on the other hand, is so bland-looking that it could’ve been about anything. Annette’s new life without Valmont? Merteuil’s life in exile?

Nah, it’s how the creators salvaged a canned prequel TV series called Manchester Prep. It loops back around to how Valmont and Merteuil first met. They’re annoying step-siblings, apparently, in a move that turns the luxe sins of these upper crust souls—you know, the entire point of the novel—into a CW-style comedy about one-upping each other. At least Riverdale is batshit entertaining.

Paranormal Activity 2

The Paranormal Activity franchise features more time hopping than a season of Doctor Who, exploring the generations of a cursed family in whatever order it feels like. The original film is a scarily effective found footage drama about a family demon that’s about as likable as the one from Hereditary. A Halloween hit, sequels instantly started baking. Paranormal Activity 2 dropped during the spooky season one year later, and, by the title, it’s surely going to progress the future of Tobi (Asmodeus), right?

That doesn’t happen until Paranormal Activity 4, actually. The second film jumps back to two months before Katie (Katie Featherston) and Micah (Micah Sloat) have the worst housewarming of all time. Katie’s sister, Kristi (Sprague Grayden), is coping with supernatural activities of her own, and some grim memories of childhood. The origins of the family demon get a little explanation, and then, in a jarring shock ending, the film concludes with a connection to the first film.

The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas

With a fully replaced cast due to John Goodman’s wise refusal to return and Rick Moranis’ retirement, it was anyone’s guess what the point of the thinly advertised Flintstones follow-up was going to be. A glance at the poster suggests it’s a decade-early riff on The Hangover, but, like, somehow even more cringe. It depicts what we can only assume by the costuming is a joint Flintstone-Rubble family trip to prehistoric Vegas.

Viva Rock Vegas is so much worse than that! It’s actually a half-hearted attempt at American Graffiti, taking us to the salad days of young Barney and Fred, and how they met their lifetime ladies. God help us all, this prequel also has the temerity to bring in the futuristic alien The Great Gazoo (Alan Cumming, as delightfully watchable as ever) to make our young cavemen look even more unhinged. And thus exits this misbegotten live-action franchise.

From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter

The original From Dusk Till Dawn manages such a great mid-film swerve that it’d be impossible for any sequel to match up. So they don’t try hard. Instead the series swerved itself to becoming a pulpy straight to video experience. The second film is another jaunt at the Titty Twister, vaguely set after the first, so why would the third be any different?

Hold onto your ass, exhausted high school kids, because The Hangman’s Daughter is the funniest prequel premise ever. The name Ambrose Bierce and his classic short story “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” is drilled into American lit students, so you know the name. Bierce is also one of history’s most famous disappearances, lost in Mexico after telling friends he was going to document the Mexican Revolution. The Hangman’s Daughter jumps back to 1913, his last known year and offers a bloodsucking answer to the mystery. Bierce winds up at the infamous vamp bar, currently called La Tetilla Del Diablo, and hijinks ensue! Put the bar’s name in Google Translate for a giggle, and know that Bierce himself would’ve probably gotten a kick out of it. 

Amityville II: The Possession

1979’s The Amityville Horror is itself, technically, a subtle prequel (or sidequel) to James Wan’s horror franchise, The Conjuring, as the Warrens were among the investigators of the real life Amityville case. A classic haunted house tale, Amityville Horror alleges that an incident of real-life mass murder—the Ronald DeFeo Jr. case—left a psychic imprint on the house it occurred in, and that it tormented the next occupants. The family eventually moves away, but that doesn’t end the curse. Its 1982 follow-up, The Possession, returns to the damned house with a new set of occupants. Which sounds like standard sequel fare from the title.

Ah, but of course, this is actually a heavily fictionalized reworking of what led DeFeo to kill his family in the first place. Restyled as the Montellis, with Sonny Montelli (Jack Magner) as the lawsuit-safe future killer, this prequel suggests the house was haunted all along. The possible reason? An Indigenous burial ground underneath the home. To be fair to the Amityville legend, which has suffered dozens of exhausting retreads since, it was one of the earliest films to drag that canard out. On the other hand, come on.

Insidious: Chapter 3

To be fair to the Insidious franchise, itself an affectionate homage to Poltergeist, it’s way better than that film’s remake and bevy of sequels. Another James Wan creation, Insidious tortures its parental stars with the horror of inexplicable events and a child in danger. It takes a bitterly cynical twist in the third act, too, adding a cliffhanger that leaves Chapter 2 to follow-up on the troubles the Lambert family still faces. A third film seemed a given, as it seems that the first film’s evil demon has now moved on to an unrelated young girl named Allison and her sister.

Chapter 3, logically, should have carried on that plot thread. To date, Allison’s story has gone nowhere, however. Instead the third installment goes back to what franchise regular and experienced demonologist Elise (Lin Shaye) was up to several months before the Lambert family went to hell. It braids together the past of Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) and Elise’s influence on the Red Faced Demon pretty well, but still… what happened to that poor kid?

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The post Sneaky Movie Sequels That Are Actually Prequels appeared first on Den of Geek.

- Matthew Byrd
15 Games That Changed Drastically During Development 

Any developer will tell you that games rarely turn out the way they were first envisioned. Features get cut or don’t work as planned. New tech can mean a game can look or play much better by moving it to new hardware. Sometimes, huge chunks of a game just need to be cut to meet a deadline. These changes are a normal part of the process.

But what’s much less common is when development gets far enough along that a title can be shown publicly, but the final product ends up being much different from what was first shown. These are 15 games that radically changed during development.

cnx.cmd.push(function() { cnx({ playerId: "106e33c0-3911-473c-b599-b1426db57530", }).render("0270c398a82f44f49c23c16122516796"); }); Too Human 15. Too Human

After a decade of development, Too Human launched as an Xbox 360 exclusive in 2008 to what could generously be called “mediocre reviews.” Critics liked the sci-fi take on Norse mythology but were underwhelmed by the lack of loot and somewhat baffling choice to use the right analog stick for attacks. Anyway, thanks to a lawsuit that eventually shut down developer Silicon Knights, you can always download the game for free on Xbox now and check out this historical curiosity for yourself.

Oddly enough, the one thing that most people really liked about the game – the setting – was completely different from the version of Too Human that was originally going to ship on four CDs for the first PlayStation. Remarkably, Too Human was originally going to be a cyberpunk shooter starring a cop. A scrapped GameCube version of the title looks similar, but little information has been released about that portion of the game’s development. Honestly, regardless of when Too Human was released, it probably wasn’t ever going to set the world on fire.

Splinter Cell Conviction 14. Splinter Cell Conviction

After releasing four acclaimed games in the Splinter Cell franchise in just five years, Ubisoft was looking to inject some new ideas into the franchise. While Conviction‘s eventual set-up (which turned Sam Fisher into a renegade agent), was certainly a change of pace for the franchise, the first videos of Conviction showcased a significantly different experience. Honestly, we’re probably better off with the refined version we got instead.

The earliest Conviction demos were certainly graphically impressive for such an early HD game, but the game itself looked more like Assassin’s Creed or Hitman than Splinter Cell. Apparently, the idea was to give Sam Fisher some sort of sixth sense that would help him get around the various environments, and the gameplay would have emphasized hand-to-hand combat as well as much more traditional stealth than what made it into the final game. Development was quietly halted after a couple of years before pivoting to the version of Conviction that’s now considered a high point for the series.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified  13. The Bureau: XCOM Declassified 

The Bureau was one of those games that always looked interesting in previews, but never quite came together due to a lengthy and troubled development. The first version of the game (which was in development from 2006-2011) was intended to be a first-person shooter set in the ‘50s with horror and stealth elements that players would utilize to face an “unknowable” alien enemy. The team even experimented with asymmetrical multiplayer mode (still a rarity at that time).

Unfortunately, a variety of creative and personnel changes slowly chipped away at that vision. With time running out, a little over a year was then spent developing a third-person version of the game that also would have incorporated stealth elements and bridged the gap between the old and new XCOM games. That ultimately evolved into the somewhat generic tactical shooter set in the ‘60s that contained elements of those interesting ideas but was ultimately kind of a mess that received a mixed reception.

 Duke Nukem Forever 12. Duke Nukem Forever

Duke Nukem Forever has become such a punchline in the gaming world that it almost feels unfair to include it on a list like this. Then again, few games have spent 14 years in development to end up with so little to show for it.

While other games on this list changed course to move to another platform or better appeal to a changing market, Duke Nukem Forever’s many changes in direction are largely attributable to studio mismanagement. The game was hotly anticipated when it was announced by developer 3D Realms in 1997 and shown running on the Quake II engine the following year. However, a move to the Unreal Engine was soon necessary to better render the game’s large outdoor environments.

From there, pretty much everything went wrong. A nightmare development process and behind-the-scenes problems left many to label Forever as “vaporware” as early as 2001. Though updated trailers and screenshots were periodically released, an actual release date remained a distant dream. Remarkably, development limped along until 2011 when Gearbox Software purchased the IP and finished an almost completely different version of the game, shelving years of work in the process. Everything about the title was pretty dated by then, and unsurprisingly, the series seems pretty dead at this point.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance  11. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance 

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a really fun action spin-off of the main series it shares a name with, but at one point, the project was actually canceled completely. The game was first announced as Metal Gear Solid: Rising in 2009, and it was intended to be developed by Kojima Productions as a prequel to Metal Gear Solid 4 that would show how Raiden became a cyborg. Gameplay would have focused on fast-paced stealth, and, at least in theory, Raiden would have also been able to cut through anything at any time.

The problem was that the game was originally envisioned was a little too ambitious. Kojima and his team couldn’t quite get the cutting concept to work. The game would have been completely abandoned if a meeting between Kojima and PlatinumGames didn’t ultimately result in Platinum taking over development, tweaking the gameplay, and turning it into a sequel to Metal Gear Solid 4.

Doom (2016) 10. Doom (2016)

Before its recent resurgence, the Doom franchise was going through something of an identity crisis. Doom 3’s detour into survival horror was generally well-received, but it just didn’t feel anything like the fast-paced, rip-and-tear action of the first two games.

Id Software’s first attempt at a sequel was then simply known as Doom 4. The idea was to rectify the previous game’s change in direction by moving the action to a version of Earth that had been invaded by demons. Crucially, Doom 4 would have also featured heavily scripted sequences straight out of Call of Duty. The screenshots of the project that have surfaced over the years look interesting, but apparently, the game just wasn’t shaping up very well. Thankfully, restarting development resulted in a fantastic soft reboot that stayed true to the spirit of the original games while adding plenty of modern twists. 

Final Fantasy XV 9. Final Fantasy XV

“Fabula Nova Crystallis” was the umbrella term Square Enix used for Final Fantasy games in the late 2000s and early 2010s. More than a decade on, it’s unclear whether anyone at Square Enix even knows what the hell the point of this distinction was other than to kind of sort of relate these games to Final Fantasy XIII, but also not too much, because a lot of people hate that game to this day. 

Anyway, you might recall that what we now know as Final Fantasy XV was first announced all the way back in 2006 as a PS3 exclusive called Final Fantasy Versus XIII. Like much of the Fabula Nova Crstyallis debacle, Square struggled to articulate what exactly made the game “Versus XIII” (whatever that means) other than it being a darker game than a mainline Final Fantasy that played more like Kingdom Hearts.

After several more years of development issues, the powers that be just repackaged the game as Final Fantasy XV, further modified the battle system, gave it a lighter K-Pop vibe, and cut off the beginning of the game so it could be redone as the abysmal Kingsglaive CGI movie. Depending on who you talk to, all of this either completely ruined the franchise or resulted in a game marginally better than Final Fantasy XIII. Either way, Square Enix hasn’t mentioned Fabula Nova Crystallis since.

Star Fox Adventures 8. Star Fox Adventures

Star Fox Adventures is a fondly remembered (if somewhat odd) entry in the storied franchise. While a lot of people enjoyed Rare’s spin on a lot of the ideas introduced in The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, it’s hard to deny that it just doesn’t really feel like a Star Fox game. Maybe that’s because it was never meant to be one. 

Starfox Adventures was originally conceived as a brand new IP called Dinosaur Planet. Intended to be Rare’s magnum opus for the Nintendo 64, Dinosaur Planet was the culmination of everything the studio had learned creating some of that console’s most beloved and technically impressive titles. Then, in early 2000, Shigeru Miyamoto noticed how much the game’s protagonist looked like Fox McCloud, and Nintendo asked Rare to turn Dinosaur Planet into a Star Fox game. Development was moved to the Gamecube as well, giving the title a substantial graphical boost even if Fox and crew never quite seem to fit into the world. 

Banjo-Kazooie 7. Banjo-Kazooie

Rare’s bear and bird are iconic today, but their original platforming adventure started off as something almost unrecognizable from the final product. Using the then-revolutionary graphics technology it had pioneered with Donkey Kong Country, Rare sought to create an SNES RPG called Project Dream about a boy fighting pirates. The game looked fantastic but was a little too much for the 16-bit console to handle. So, the project was moved to the N64.

Even then, development was reportedly not going well. The game had a low frame rate and, worst of all, simply wasn’t fun. Eventually, Banjo, who was already a minor character in Project Dream, became the protagonist of a 2.5D platformer where he collected fruit. However, Nintendo soon showed the team an early version of Super Mario 64, and upon seeing how revolutionary that game was going to be, the version of Banjo-Kazooie that ultimately hit shelves started to take form. Ironically, many people will still argue that Banjo-Kazooie is the better N64 platformer.

Conker's Bad Fur Day 6. Conker’s Bad Fur Day

As we’ve already seen, Rare’s games in the ‘90s went through some pretty drastic changes during development. However, none of those changes were as radical as what eventually happened to Conker’s Bad Fur Day.

While Conker is now known for his heavy drinking and foul mouth, he was originally going to be yet another cute and cuddly platform character member of the Rare roster. This version of the character even made it into the wild in a very kid-friendly Game Boy platformer called Conker’s Pocket Tales.

At that time, Conker was supposed to star in a similar N64 game titled either Conker’s Quest or Twelve Tales: Conker 64. The game was regularly shown to the press during development, and by all accounts, it was…fine. It was just, perhaps, a little too generic and similar to Banjo-Kazooie. After seeing the tepid response, Rare decided to completely shift the game’s tone into the gory, darkly comic cult classic that is Conker’s Bad Fur Day. Though that game sadly bombed due largely to its late release and strange promotions, it is hard to argue that the game isn’t more memorable because of the shift.

Borderlands 5. Borderlands 

Borderlands is now a franchise beloved for its cel-shaded art and wacky humor. However, when the game began development back in 2005, it featured a much more serious tone as well as a more realistic art style similar to other games of the era (like Fallout 3 and Rage). Thankfully, several members of the team realized the game needed something more to stand out and worked on the new, cartoony art style in secret before pitching it to the rest of Gearbox. Despite the drastic and the work that would have to go into pulling it off, everyone loved the change in direction.

Aside from that, the game stayed fairly close to its initial pitch of “Halo meets Diablo,” though procedurally generated loot caves and hirable AI companions were dropped during development. Minor alterations aside, it’s hard to imagine Borderlands would have been quite the hit it became without the radical shift in tone.

Mother 3 4. Mother 3

The fact that we may never see an official North American release of Mother 3 is all the more heartbreaking when you consider the project was scheduled to come stateside back when it was known as EarthBound 64.

That tile was initially intended to be released for the SNES but soon moved to the N64. Sadly, such a large RPG looked to be too much for the console, so it was moved again to the ill-fated 64DD add-on. When the 64DD failed, it was again planned to just be released as an N64 cartridge. Through all of this, Nintendo showed quite a bit of the game during the late ‘90s, which led many to feel optimistic it would eventually be released.

In fact, despite the developmental difficulties, this 3D version stood out as one of the best-looking N64 titles ever in those previews. Unfortunately, upon realizing the game would take at least two more years to develop in the year 2000, Nintendo canned the game to move resources to the GameCube. The eventual Game Boy Advance release of Mother 3 in 2006 actually kept the story that was planned for the N64 version but changed everything to 2D. Looking back at some screenshots, you can even see how many of the locations made the eventual move from the N64 to the GBA.

Team Fortress 2 3. Team Fortress 2

Team Fortress 2 has become such a staple of online gaming with its cartoony art style and iconic class-based gameplay, that it’s hard to imagine it ever existed in another form. Yet, when the game was first shown to the public way back in 1999, it featured a modern (for the time) military aesthetic and promised to include a commander class that would have ordered AI allies around the battlefield similar to an RTS. In other words, it couldn’t have been more different.

Despite receiving a lot of positive initial buzz, the game disappeared for nearly six years. While the initial word was that the game was just being modified to run on the Source engine, it soon became clear that the vision for the project had changed drastically during that time. Despite reportedly going through multiple other redesigns during that time, Valve finally settled on the more recognizable version of the game that’s still popular more than 15 years after release. This is definitely a case where the developers made the right call by changing direction.

Resident Evil 4 2. Resident Evil 4

After three main installments and a couple of side stories, Capcom knew it had to mix up the survival horror formula a bit or risk becoming stale. As you may know, the first attempt at Resident Evil 4 proved to be a little too action-packed. That version actually went on to become Devil May Cry and helped establish an entirely new successful franchise.

The next few attempts at Resident Evil 4 bore some similarities to the final product, but still look drastically different in screenshots and videos. The first, dubbed the “Fog version,” featured a castle location, but zombies instead of Las Plagas. After getting about 40 percent through development, that was scrapped for what is commonly known as the “Hook Man version,” which starred an infected Leon battling paranormal enemies, including a ghostly man who wielded a large hook. Though Capcom didn’t get very far into development, the team also considered another idea about a character escaping a killer in a castle, and yet another version that brought back zombies.

Through it all, what is now sometimes considered to be one of the best games ever made slowly took shape. Though some of those early ideas sound interesting, it’s hard to imagine how any of them could have topped the classic Capcom ultimately produced.

Halo: Combat Evolved 1. Halo: Combat Evolved

If you look into the history of Halo, you’ll discover that it’s a miracle that Bungie was able to ship a functional game at all, let alone one that became one of the biggest and most influential titles of all time.

Halo was initially conceived as a first-person shooter based largely on Bungie’s previous Marathon games but with a few added features such as vehicular combat. That may sound a lot like the game we ended up with, but Halo took a notable detour along the way when some technical problems and staffing changes inspired Bungie to reconsider the entire project. The original idea soon morphed into an RTS that even made it as far as a playable build.

It was then that something small, yet historically significant happened. The developers soon realized it was more fun to directly control their strategy project’s vehicles rather than simply command them. So, the game became a third-person shooter that the team said would feature a large open world, deformable terrain, and variable weather. This was the version of Halo famously revealed at Macworld in 1999.

Bungie was ready to move forward with these ideas, but financial difficulties forced them to make a deal with Microsoft to complete the game. Having to meet deadlines for the 2001 launch of the original Xbox meant pretty much all the features planned for the third-person game were scratched. And so, Halo went back to the first-person shooter it was envisioned as from the start. Ironically, the Halo franchise has become so successful over the years that it ended up exploring a lot of the ideas that were considered in development, resulting in the open-world Halo Infinite and the excellent RTS spin-off Halo Wars.

The post 15 Games That Changed Drastically During Development  appeared first on Den of Geek.

- Matthew Byrd
Best Cyberpunk 2077 2.0 Lifepath: Every Major Lifepath Difference Explained

For many, Cyberpunk 2077‘s 2.0 update is the excuse they’ve been looking for to either finally play the now largely fixed and improved game or simply enjoy the best version of that experience possible. However, anyone beginning a fresh Cyberpunk 2077 2.0 playthrough will need to start their journey by picking one of three Lifepaths for their characters. For new players, this choice is as mysterious and daunting as ever. However, even returning players are wondering if 2.0 did anything to change these Lifepaths in any way.

Well, for what it’s worth, I can tell you that 2.0 doesn’t seem to have directly changed any of the Lifepath options in any notable way. However, it has indirectly affected those options in some slightly smaller ways (mostly for good). Furthermore, the differences between the Lifepaths are as ambiguous as ever, which makes now a pretty great time to go over how each choice actually impacts the rest of the game.

Before we get into that, though, please note that while there is no way to completely avoid spoilers in this article, I am going to refrain from listing every little thing that is different about each Lifepath in great detail. Instead, the goal is to try to point you in the right direction based on your preferences.

cnx.cmd.push(function() { cnx({ playerId: "106e33c0-3911-473c-b599-b1426db57530", }).render("0270c398a82f44f49c23c16122516796"); }); Cyberpunk 2077 2.0: What Are The Differences Between Each Lifepath?

For the most part, your choice of Lifepath in Cyberpunk 2077 won’t drastically impact the direction of the game or determine what content you are able to experience. 95% of the game will still play out largely the same regardless of which Lifepath you pick.

So what’s the point? Well, aside from enhancing your own role-playing satisfaction, each Lifepath offers a few notable exclusive features:

– A unique prologue

– A unique mission

– Unique dialog and mission options

For the moment, then, let’s push aside your possible personal preferences and focus on how the different Lifepath choices more practically alter the Cyberpunk 2077 experience.

Cyberpunk 2077 2.0: Streetkid Lifepath Explained


“They say if you wanna understand the streets, you gotta live ’em. Gangs, fixers, dolls, small-time pushers – you were raised by them all. Down here the law of the jungle dictates the weak serve the strong – the only law in Night City you have yet to break.”

Unique Prologue

You start the game as a resident of Night City’s underworld. In order to clear an old debt, you decide to take a job from a local criminal named Kirk Sawyer. Sawyer asks you to steal one of the rarest and most valuable cars in the city. During that job, you meet another mercenary named Jackie Welles who happens to want the same car.

Before either of you can claim it, you are surrounded by the police. Thankfully, one of the cops happens to be familiar with the two of you and decides to let you both go. You can Jackie soon bond over your shared misfortunes and decide to start hanging out and working together. This begins the main part of the game.

Unique Mission – “Small Man, Big Mouth

Kirk Sawyer will eventually reach out to you and ask that you help him with another job in order to repair your relationship. Try to be surprised, but the job goes wrong in several different ways. V must soon navigate the fallout of a series of bad decisions.

Unique Dialog Options and Interactions

Streetkids are blessed with the most unique dialog options of all the available Lifepaths. That’s largely because they have far more opportunities to run into characters in Night City that they have some familiarity with or knowledge of. That includes various gang members and other underworld/law enforcement members. This version of V knows a little about a lot of things happening in Night City and can often weigh in on various topics in ways that reflect that experience. These options often help you as the player learn more about Night City.

You’ll also be able to avoid certain outcomes or create new opportunities thanks to your knowledge of the shadier sides of Night City. There are actually multiple instances where you’ll be able to interact with a cop or criminal in some way that either causes a new dialog tree to sprout or allows you to access a slightly different solution to a problem. For instance, there’s a gang trying to rob a diner that you can stop just by talking to them whereas other players will need to resort to other options.

Without spoiling everything, it’s best to think of this Lifepath option as the choice that opens up more unique interactions with cops and lower-end criminals. Again, that’s a big part of the reason why you’ll encounter so many unique Streetkid interactions throughout the game.

Cyberpunk 2077 2.0: Corpo Lifepath Explained


“Few leave the corporate world with their lives – fewer still with their souls intact. You’ve been there – you’ve bent the rules, exploited secrets, and weaponized information. There’s no such thing as a fair game, only winners and losers.”

Unique Prologue

V begins Cyberpunk 2077 as a high-ranking Arasaka Corporation employee with all of the advantages that career choice offers. However, their life is turned upside down when his boss, Arthur Jenkins, asks him to help sabotage another executive in order to assist Jenkins in his rise to power.

However, things soon go wrong, as they so often do. V’s role in this plot is discovered during the mission, and they are ousted from their cushy corpo job. Thankfully, their pal Jackie is there to save them. The main part of the story begins around this point.

Unique Mission – “War Pigs”

One of V’s former Arasaka co-workers contacts them and asks if they can help him with a little problem at work. It seems that V’s “betrayal” of the company also put them in some hot water, and they’d like to get out. However, you’ll soon discover that the offer comes with some considerable strings attached.

Unique Interactions

As a former Corpo, V does not have access to the underworld knowledge that Streetkids are blessed with. That means that they encounter fewer opportunities to comment on things like local gangs or memories they have of various little locations throughout Night City.

However, V’s extensive corporate background does offer them unrivaled knowledge about that particular aspect of Night City. Some of Cyberpunk 2077‘s biggest narrative moments see you interact with various corporations and Corpo members, and the Corpo Lifepath often shines in those moments. Not only will you have intimate knowledge of corporate dealings and terminology that will often catch others off-guard, but you’ll occasionally have the chance to enforce some of your old corporate authority in ways that prove to be surprisingly beneficial. Arguably the most notable example of said benefits is a Corpo dialog option that allows you to skip a fairly substantial part of an otherwise difficult mission.

Depending on how you look at it, this Lifepath choice offers a combination of “fall from grace” and “redemption” angles. You used to be a bit of a scumbag, and…ok, sometimes you still are. However, Corpos not only get to tap into an aspect of the game’s lore that other Lifepaths know absolutely nothing about but often get to perform interactions that result in much more beneficial rewards and outcomes (which fits their greedy and authoritative lifestyles).

Cyberpunk 2077 2.0: Nomad Lifepath Explained


“Roaming the Badlands, looting scrapyards, raiding fuel depots – life on the road wasn’t easy. But growing up in a nomad clan has its perks. Honesty, integrity, and a love of freedom – qualities that few in Night City possess, and no amount of money can buy.”

Unique Prologue

V begins life in the Badlands where they soon find themselves in trouble with the local law enforcement. Undeterred, V decided to take on a job with Jackie that requires the pair to attempt a dangerous border crossing.

As is the theme with all of our prologues, things do indeed go very, very wrong. This time around, though, things go wrong in a way that sees Jackie and V running for their lives from some armed and dangerous pursuers. With few options left on the table, V decided to try to hide out in Night City until they can find a way back into the Badlands.

Unique Mission – “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’

Once in the Badlands, you’ll receive a GPS update from your old car. Try to recover it, and you’ll discover that a mysterious woman has claimed it as their own. You’ll then need to decide what to do with them. Though this is the least substantial of the optional missions, it could potentially end up with you receiving a free (or cheap) new ride.

Unique Interactions

As a Nomad, you know almost nothing about Night City’s underworld, corporations, or general way of life. Compared to the other two Lifepath options, you’ll rarely encounter unique Nomad dialog options while in Night City. The you do encounter largely exist to clarify misconceptions about the Badlands or ask additional questions about Night City life.

However, the dynamic changes greatly once you finally make your way to the Badlands. At that point in the game, Nomads will enjoy a more unique and generally more substantial experience than the other Lifepath options get to experience. That’s not to say that there aren’t noteworthy interactions available to Nomads before this point, but rather that Nomads get to experience what is otherwise one of the most jarring parts of the game in a completely different way.

Even more so than Corpos, Nomads are the ultimate outsiders for most of the game. That not only makes them a fascinating “player surrogate” option for new players but it ensures that they are able to eventually access some fairly substantial dialog in specific situations. This is also a fantastic Lifepath choice for those who intend to eventually romance Panam.

Cyberpunk 2077 2.0: What Is the Best Lifepath Choice?

This will probably be a little controversial, but I’ve found that Corpo is the best overall Lifepath choice in Cyberpunk 2077.

Corpos may not have access to as many unique interactions as Streetkids (even if the quantity difference really isn’t that great), but I’d argue that they have access to the most substantial unique dialog options in the game.

Not only can Corpos trigger more dialog options that lead to an alternate path forward or additional rewards, but some of the most important missions in the game are filled with fascinating Corpo interaction opportunities. That’s especially true during Act 3 when Corpos really get the chance to flex their background in some fun ways. Granted, their unique prologue is not really notable outside of enjoying some corporate luxuries, but you’ll see the benefits of their unique knowledge as early as the first major campaign mission. I also wish their unique mission was more exciting, but that’s true of most of the unique missions.

That said, I can’t really argue against the popular idea that Streetkid seems like the most “natural” way to play Cyberpunk 2077.

After all, every prologue ends with you turning to some variation of the Streetkid life. Furthermore, Streetkids seem to have access to the most unique interaction opportunities in the greatest variety of scenarios (even if some missions are catered more towards other Lifepath options). That said, their prologue is a bit on the weaker side and is weirdly the only one where the player doesn’t seem to have an established relationship with Jackie. At least their unique mission is the most entertaining of the Lifepath sidequests.

Then there’s Nomad which…look, it’s long been the black sheep of the Lifepath options.

The fact of the matter is that Nomads have access to significantly fewer unique interaction opportunities than Streetkids and Corpos, which makes them the most obvious “role-playing” choice. However, I will say that Cyberpunk 2077’s 2.0 update actually unintentionally improves the Nomad Lifepath. How? Well, Nomads have the only action-heavy unique prologue, and the action in 2.0 is generally more exciting due to the improvements made to the game’s AI. Furthermore, the Nomad Lifepath does connect the Badlands portion of the game to the rest of the experience a bit more cleanly, and their unique mission does potentially come with a considerable reward.

Interestingly enough, I’ve also found that there is a very loose morality system attached to each Lifepath.

For instance, Corpo dialog options are often more aggressive in ways that may best suit players who are looking for slightly more “evil” interactions (even if that concept doesn’t really exist in this game). On the other end of things, Nomads are afforded more opportunities to offer a helping hand or at least a few words of reason from the mouths of an outsider looking to make sense of everything. Finally, Streetkids fall somewhere in the middle. They’re occasionally aggressive and certainly not above getting their hands dirty, but the circumstances of their background mean that they can also be sympathetic toward a vareity of situations and causes.

The post Best Cyberpunk 2077 2.0 Lifepath: Every Major Lifepath Difference Explained appeared first on Den of Geek.

- Louisa Mellor
Harlan Coben’s Shelter Ending Explained: Abeona, Mickey’s Dad, Bat Lady, Dylan Shakes & More  

Warning: contains major plot spoilers for Harlan Coben’s Shelter

Harlan Coben’s Shelter, now out in full on Prime Video, really bought in to Mickey’s dad’s mantra that “you can’t get a hit if you don’t swing the bat”. For eight episodes, it swung its bat wildly in every direction, spinning it crazily overhead and sweeping it low in circles, possibly while wearing a blindfold. If there was a hit to get, Shelter swung for it – and with some success. 

It was the story of Mickey Bolitar, a bereaved teen who investigated the disappearance of a fellow high school student but discovered a great deal more. Adapted from Harlan Coben’s YA spin-off to his mega-successful Myron Bolitar series, the thriller veered hugely in tone (pairing real-life holocaust atrocity and child abuse with teen comedy felt tasteless at best) but its red herrings, cliff-hangers, twists and charismatic cast certainly kept you watching. 

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Now that the finale has aired, let’s pick over the bones of just what on Earth was going on. Spoilers!

The Big Brad Bolitar Twist!

Who’d have thought that a Gwen Stefani track could save somebody’s life? The makers of Harlan Coben’s Shelter, that’s who. When Mickey heard his Aunt Shira singing “Hollaback Girl” from a floor away through the plumbing in the Bolitar family home, he realised that when Lizzie/Bat Lady said she still heard his dead father’s voice sometimes, she wasn’t talking figuratively. Lizzie was hearing Brad’s voice through the pipes in her labyrinthine home, because he wasn’t dead at all but still alive and being kept prisoner in a sealed off, soundproof room in an underground tunnel system accessed through the house. 

The whole series ended on the cliff-hanger of Mickey breaking into the burnt-out remains of Bat Lady’s place and discovering his father alive and locked in a secret room under the house. It took the Mickey Bolitar book series (ShelterSeconds Away and Found) three novels to reach that point, but the TV adaptation has pressed fast-forward on the story. So, who was keeping Brad locked down there? Read on.

Luther and Little Ricky

The LA paramedic with the facial scar (not so progressive with your choice of villain, Harlan Coben’s Shelter) who took away Brad’s body after the traffic collision in which he apparently died, was no paramedic. His name was Luther, and he’d had a decades-long vendetta against Brad after the death of his younger brother Ricky when he and Luther were just kids. 

In the 1990s, Luther and Ricky were part of a group of young boys rescued by Abeona – the organisation run by Lizzie/Bat Lady that protects abused children – from an abusive foster home. A teenaged Brad was in charge of the rescue operation, having encountered Lizzie and her work years before through his Little League pal Dylan Shakes (more on him below). During the foster home escape, Luther cut his face badly on a nail, an injury for which he blamed Brad. When the rescued boys were hidden in Lizzie’s soundproof basement room, Luther’s little brother Ricky had an asthma attack and died. Ever since, a traumatised Luther had hated Brad and blamed him for Ricky’s death.

That’s why, the moment Brad, Kitty and Mickey moved back to the US, Luther took his chance for revenge. He orchestrated the car crash, took away Brad’s body from the scene, faked his death. and locked him in the same soundproof basement in which Ricky had died. Luther also tried to kill Lizzie by stabbing her, locking her and Mickey in her secret photo room, and setting her house on fire, but Mickey managed to escape, and they both survived. 

The Butcher of Lodz

Lizzie told Mickey that Luther – presumably still at large – was “his butcher”, in reference to the Butcher of Lodz, a Nazi war criminal responsible for atrocities during the Holocaust, of which she was a survivor. She had Photoshopped Luther’s face onto a picture of the Butcher of Lodz and given it to Mickey when he was researching the era for a school project to warn him about Luther – but schoolteacher Martha recognised the fake. 


Lizzie came to Abeona, named for the child-protecting Roman goddess of safe returns, following her experience as a rescued Holocaust survivor. The organisation saves children and teenagers from abusive situations. Its symbol is a blue Abeona butterfly, such as the one tattooed on Ashley Kent after she was rescued from a child trafficking ring by the group. 

Brad and Kitty Bolitar worked for Lizzie and Abeona, alongside “Octo-Face” (real name: Antoine, the tattoo was temporary and part of a disguise in his mission to help to save Ashley) and “Sunglasses” (original name: Dylan Shakes, see below). However, Mickey’s parents wanted to get out of the organisation and live a normal life with their son in the US.

Ashley Kent

Rescuing Ashley (not her real name) from a child trafficking operation was Brad Bolitar’s last job for Abeona before he “died”. Under the guise of a camping trip with son Mickey, Brad carried out the rescue operation and Ashley was rehomed under her new identity, but ended up enrolling in school at Kasselton High along with Mickey. 

Her kidnappers, helped by the school drama teacher who ran a side-line in child trafficking, tracked her down and after being rescued by Rachel from one kidnap attempt, they took her. Ashley was held in a dungeon underneath a very sketchy club where underage girls are sex trafficked. Just as she was about to be sold to a wealthy pervert, Mickey and the gang rescue her. “Octo-Face” arranged for her to start again at a new home, under a new identity. “I’ll always wonder what could have been, Mickey,” Ashley told him when she left. “Me too, maybe one day we’ll find out,” he replied. If season two is confirmed, maybe they will.

Dylan Shakes, Sunglasses, Lizzie and Martha

27 years earlier, the town of Kasselton had been shaken by the disappearance of a young boy Dylan Shakes. It turned out that Dylan’s father was physically abusing him, behaviour spotted by Dylan’s Little League coach Martha, and his doctor. 

When Dylan’s father deliberately burned Dylan’s eye with a cigarette, Martha took him to Lizzie, who arranged for him to be taken away to safety through Abeona. Martha had wanted to adopt Dylan, but instead Lizzie chose to send him as far away from his father as she could.

That’s how Brad Bolitar was recruited to Abeona at such a young age. When his older sister Shira dared him to go inside Bat Lady’s house, he found his friend Dylan there and was sworn to secrecy about him for Dylan’s protection. A grown-up Dylan, never seen without his sunglasses (hence the nickname), was also recruited by Abeona, and has been helping Lizzie ever since. He was the one who shot dead Kasselton High drama teacher/child sex trafficker at the end of episode one.

Unsolved: Why Was Spoon’s Picture on Lizzie’s Wall?

In episode seven, when Mickey confronts Lizzie with his theory that she killed his father because he wanted to leave Abeona, Mickey finds her in a secret room surrounded by photographs of the thousands of children Abeona had helped over the decades. Ashley’s picture is there. Luther and Ricky’s picture is there. Dylan Shakes’ picture is there. And so – unexplained as yet – is Spoon’s

Photograph of Spoon from Harlan Coben's Shelter

We’re told in the series that Arthur/Spoon has known loss, and know that he lives with just his father, but what is his background involvement with Lizzie and Abeona? Is he adopted? Is that picture even him, or an identical twin saved by Abeona? That’s something else for a potential second season to explore.

Harlan Coben’s Shelter is available to stream now on Prime Video.

The post Harlan Coben’s Shelter Ending Explained: Abeona, Mickey’s Dad, Bat Lady, Dylan Shakes & More   appeared first on Den of Geek.

- Michael Ahr
The Wheel of Time Season 2’s Best Moment Yet Was Foreshadowed Over a Year Ago

This article contains The Wheel of Time spoilers.

However fans may feel about The Wheel of Time’s accuracy as an adaptation, there’s one character moment that the series simply had to get right from the Robert Jordan books, and that was Egwene’s time as damane, one of the Seanchan’s enslaved channelers controlled by handlers known as sul’dam. The breaking of Egwene’s will by Renna in the latest episode was not only a brilliant interpretation of a very important arc from the novels; it also was teased as a favorite scene of showrunner Rafe Judkins more than a year before it aired.

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Judkins took to Twitter during some downtime at San Diego Comic-Con 2022 to answer fan questions about the second season, which was then still fourteen months away from airing on Prime Video. One follower asked the showrunner to share his favorite upcoming two-person scene by just naming the characters in question. Judkins’ response, “Egwene Renna,” now resonates with legions of viewers of the most recent The Wheel of Time episode.

Egwene Renna

— Rafe Judkins (@rafejudkins) July 22, 2022

He didn’t choose a close friendship, a romantic interest, or dramatic family dynamic. He chose the brutal and abusive relationship between Egwene and Renna, which unfolded in painful-to-watch but brilliant-to-behold fashion between Madeleine Madden and newcomer to The Wheel of Time, Xelia Mendes-Jones. It was not an easy task to elucidate the Seanchan method of slavery while also establishing the character of Renna and reinforcing the mental fortitude of Egwene.

Particularly important to depicting the breaking of Egwene was establishing the rules of the collar and a’dam, the leash that connects a sul’dam to her damane. First, we are told that any harm to the handler is felt twofold by the one leashed. Second, the damane may not attempt to remove the collar, which prevents her from channeling except at the direction of her sul’dam. And finally, nothing that is perceived as a weapon may be handled by a damane.

But those are just the bare, horrifying facts of Seanchan slavery and its physical trappings. The brilliance of The Wheel of Time’s on-screen depiction lies in Mendes-Jones’ portrayal of Renna as a self-perceived compassionate owner acclimating their pet to its new home and in Madden’s powerful performance as Egwene refusing to submit and finally succumbing to defeat. These opposing worldviews clash spectacularly when Renna shows Egwene how powerful they are together by forcing the damane to use the One Power to destroy a tree that gave her hope of freedom.

And that’s not even taking into account the sacrifice of Ryma of the Yellow Ajah, who gave herself to the Seanchan after Nynaeve’s channeling was detected. The healer expected her warder Basan to kill her before she could be collared, but instead she was made to submit just as her sisters before her were, including the Sitter of the Blue Ajah who praises Egwene’s endurance through the wall between them in the final moments of the episode.

The whole sequence had all of the emotional impact that book readers hoped for but did not  necessarily anticipate, and non-reader viewers of The Wheel of Time discovered a whole new level of enjoyment in a series that gets better with each new installment. In an episode filled with plenty of compelling subplots, the heart-wrenching tale of Egwene undeniably upstaged them all. No wonder Judkins considered these scenes his favorite part of season 2!

The post The Wheel of Time Season 2’s Best Moment Yet Was Foreshadowed Over a Year Ago appeared first on Den of Geek.

- Lauravickersgreen
Ncuti Gatwa Says the Perfect Goodbye To Eric in Sex Education Season 4

WARNING: contains spoilers for Sex Education seasons 1-4

The first series of Netflix teen drama Sex Education came out so long ago – in January 2019, pre-Covid, aka The Before Times – that it’s hard to remember a baby Otis and Eric turning up at their first day of sixth form. But even on day one, Ncuti Gatwa as Eric foreshadowed just how big a journey the characters would go on throughout the show’s four series, telling Otis (Asa Butterfield): “We shall transform from lowly caterpillars into… awesome killer whales?” 

Back then, Eric was one of the only two gay people in his year (“that we know of”, he stresses), and he was constantly bullied, literally being pushed up against the lockers and called a “f**” in the first episode, as if the show was trying to win a full house in Stereotypical High School Drama Bingo. Later in the series, he’s the victim of a drive-by gay bashing, and the initial glimpses of his strict religious Nigerian-Ghanaian family hint that he might end up estranged from them and his faith, a victim of their inability to accept his true identity.

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So far, so textbook gay-best-friend character, and so disappointing.

But just as we were writing Eric off, creator Laurie Nunn pulled a handbrake turn on his character’s journey, allowing Gatwa to transform him into one of the freshest, most fully-rounded LGBTQ characters on screen. While most teen dramas zig, Sex Education tends to zag, and Eric becomes no different: his family actually became fully supportive of his identity (albeit not in Church), and while Adam Groff (Connor Swindells, SAS: Rogue Heroes) grapples with the shame of his sexuality, Eric appears supremely, refreshingly comfortable in his own skin.

Over the course of the four series, Eric repeatedly holds Otis to account when he lets him down, demanding to be more than a sidekick in his straight, white world, and refusing to water down his differences from Otis to make them more “palatable” (not just for Otis, but for the viewers at home too). Gatwa makes scene-stealing look effortless, a commanding presence that demands your full attention, and Sex Education simply wouldn’t have had the same success without him.

The fourth and final series is no different, although Otis and Eric find themselves becoming the new kids again, settling into their new school, Cavendish College, which is a world away from their more anarchic Moordale Secondary, which closed down at the end of series three. This new, student-led sixth form is a progressive utopia – all sustainability, daily yoga, and the popular kids are actually kind, even implementing a “no gossip” policy. While Otis struggles to adapt to a long-distance relationship with Maeve, who is now studying in the States, Eric finds a new tribe in popular LGBTQ friendship group “The Coven”, finally experiencing unconditional acceptance and being able to explore his queer identity more fully.

He also, against the odds, manages to carve out a healthy relationship with his faith as he prepares to be baptised. Nunn explained this latter aspect of Eric’s journey was a conscious decision, telling The Guardian “We just really wanted to honour people who are LGBTQ but also have faith – those people exist, and they shouldn’t be looked down on, they should be celebrated.” 

It can be no accident that Eric’s resolution on Sex Education sees him decide to become a pastor. After walking away from his own baptism ceremony in the final episode when he realised he couldn’t compromise on his identity for his religion, it looked like Eric would have the same fate as so many other LGBTQ characters, forced to leave a community he loves in order to be authentically himself. And even though the pastor eventually turns up at his school fundraiser to meet Eric halfway, his offer of a “discussion on how the church can be more inclusive” is nowhere near enough, as Eric points out. But does Eric reject this weak attempt at reconciliation, meaning nothing will change at all? No – he accepts that it’s a start, and invites the pastor to dance.

Eric bodes incredibly well for Gatwa’s upcoming role as the Fifteenth Doctor in Doctor Who, not just because of his confident performance, but because of his assured and uncompromising portrayal of a character that doesn’t need or want to adhere to the mainstream to make the audience comfortable. If he’s as fearless in his portrayal of The Doctor, we’re in for a treat. From caterpillar to killer whale, indeed.

Sex Education season 4 is streaming on Netflix now

The post Ncuti Gatwa Says the Perfect Goodbye To Eric in Sex Education Season 4 appeared first on Den of Geek.

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- Alex Billington
Official Trailer for 'Last Stop Larrimah' True Crime Doc from Australia
Last Stop Larrimah Trailer "There was utter hatred in this town..." HBO has unveiled an official trailer for a documentary film titled Last Stop Larrimah, an "extremely strange and captivating small-town mystery" from Down Under. This originally premiered at the 2023 SXSW Film Festival earlier this year, and it's now set to debut streaming on Max starting in October. Nestled deep in the Australian Outback is the town of Larrimah (see Google Maps) and its 11 eccentric residents. When one of them mysteriously disappears into thin air, the remaining residents become suspects and a long history of infighting is unveiled. After this man and his dog disappear, the remaining residents become suspects and the filmmaker's get into some strange history turning over stones. Described in reviews as "a truly crazy entry into the true crime documentary pantheon." This doc film was executive produced by the Duplass Brothers, who are on a roll with eccentric stories like this. From this trailer, my first thought: he was definitely fed to the crocodile. Makes sense. Or was it something else...? // Continue Reading ›
- Alex Billington
Venice 2023: 'The Theory of Everything' is a Confusing Multiverse Tale
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- Alex Billington
'Common Ground' Doc Trailer About Regenerative Farming in America
Common Ground Doc Trailer "Let's prioritize the farmer!" Yes! Join in and support them and buy from the good ones. An official trailer has debuted for a documentary film called Common Ground, the definitive doc about the Save Our Soil movement. It's a follow-up to the massive successful doc Kiss the Ground (from 2020) about "Regenerative Agriculture". Narrated by Laura Dern, the film presents an urgent message about the poisonous practices within American food systems. At the forefront are the farmers & families who have lived through tragedy & illness at the hands of government policies that favor Big Ag and big profits. In acknowledging how racism has forged today’s farming industry, regenerative farmers are returning to pre-colonial practices pioneered by indigenous and Black farmers to restore soil, keep Americans alive, and leave a legacy for generations to follow. Sounds great! Featuring celebrity actors, activists and philanthropists Rosario Dawson, Laura Dern, Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson, Jason Momoa (who's also in Deep Rising), and plenty of interviews with many farmers, ranchers, scientists, educators, allies and beyond. "There is hope!" That's what I like to hear. // Continue Reading ›
- Alex Billington
Vintage Trailer - Three Stories in 'Night Train to Terror' 1985 Horror
Night Train to Terror Trailer "There is only one master! And his name is Satan!" 😈 Vinegar Syndrome has re-released a long lost 1985 horror anthology film called Night Train to Terror. They have put out a brand new Blu-ray / DVD set in its original aspect ratio and restored in 2K from the original 35mm film elements. Never heard of this flick? With Halloween season a few weeks away, check out the vintage trailer for it posted by VS. God and Satan are on a train discussing the fate of three individuals. The stories of the people in question are told in a trio of very wacky vignettes. One involves an insane asylum with very strange treatment plans. Another is about a Russian roulette "death club." The finale shows us the adventures of a server of Satan in a story about the Holocaust. Starring Cameron Mitchell, Ferdy Mayne, John Phillip Law, Maurice Grandmaison, Richard Moll, Faith Clift, Merideth Haze, and Sharon Ratcliff. This looks like some bonkers 1980s horror madness! Love the demons and all the practical gore and FX. Looks like a good one to catch up with. // Continue Reading ›
- Alex Billington
Netflix Doc Series 'Big Vape: The Rise and Fall of Juul' Official Trailer
Big Vape: The Rise and Fall of Juul Trailer "I don't think anyone could have anticipated how many children would want this product." Uh huh, sure. Netflix has debuted an official trailer for another tech business documentary series called Big Vape: The Rise and Fall of Juul, arriving for streaming next month. Directed by R.J. Cutler (of the Belushi doc), this is produced by Amblin Television & TIME Studios. Big Vape tells the high-drama, rags-to-riches story of the controversial electronic cigarette company Juul which transformed from a scrappy Silicon Valley tech start-up run by two idealistic Stanford graduate students intent on making the world a better place into a multi-billion-dollar tobacco company that sparked an epidemic of youth addiction & lung disease. Perhaps not everyone has heard of Juul before, but they certainly made an impact (for worse) jumping on the vaping bandwagon. Another tale of greed and ignorance, with businessmen trying to make money without realizing the real harm they're doing. How many more stories like this will be told before things change? Take a look. // Continue Reading ›
- Alex Billington
First Look Teaser Trailer for 'Crumb Catcher' Blackmail Dark Comedy
Crumb Catcher Teaser Trailer "I guess I don't understand why the customer would want to sweep up their own crumbs?" Good question. Glass Eye Pictures has revealed a teaser trailer for an indie dark comedy called Crumb Catcher, marking the feature directorial debut of filmmaker Chris Skotchdopole. This is premiering at Fantastic Fest down in Austin, Texas this week, with no official release date set yet - only more festivals. A newlywed couple is held captive in a remote lake house by a maniacally optimistic inventor and his sour wife who are desperate to finance his dream project with a half-baked blackmail plot. Fantastic Fest describe it as "a chamber piece that melds extreme anxiety with the worst salesmanship imaginable. Every single character is hilariously despicable in their own way, and each motivated by selfishness and ego." Starring Rigo Garay, Ella Rae Peck, John Speredakos, Lorraine Farris, and Rebecca Watson. Keep an eye out for this sneaky film. // Continue Reading ›
- Alex Billington
Official Trailer for William Friedkin's 'The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial'
The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial Trailer "He was a petty tyrant and utterly incompetent." Showtime has unveiled an official trailer for filmmaker William Friedkin's final film titled The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, arriving for streaming in October. This recently premiered at the 2023 Venice Film Festival out of competition. It was shot in early 2023, with Guillermo del Toro shadowing Friedkin on set; Friedkin passed away in August just before he could attend the premiere. Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, based on the acclaimed novel / play, follows a U.S. naval first officer who's standing trial for orchestrating a mutiny after his captain shows signs of becoming unhinged and jeopardizes the lives of his crew. It's one of the best plays as a film I've ever seen - here's my full review. A gripping, fascinating intellectual examination of authority and insanity. Plenty to discuss. Friedkin's The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial stars Kiefer Sutherland, Jason Clarke, Jake Lacy, Monica Raymund, Lewis Pullman, Jay Duplass, Tom Riley and Lance Reddick. Damn fine film that gets into some very tricky topics, with some exceptional performance across the board. I highly recommend watching this film. // Continue Reading ›
- Alex Billington
Epic French Sci-Fi Movie 'L'Empire' from Bruno Dumont - First Trailer
L'Empire Trailer "The Prince of Darkness must be removed from the face of the Earth." ARP Selection in France has revealed the first look official trailer for a sci-fi epic called L'Empire, which translates to The Empire in English. It's the latest film from French filmmaker Bruno Dumont (of Twentynine Palms, Hadewijch, Slack Bay, Joan of Arc, France) and was originally rumored to premiere in Cannes, though it never showed up. Now set to open in France in March 2024. "Between Ma Loute and The Life of Jesus, between heaven and earth, Bruno Dumont offers us his caustic, cruel and crazy vision of Star Wars." That's their description. A small village of Northern France is the battleground of undercover extraterrestrial knights. Starring a big French cast: Virginie Efira, Lily-Rose Depp, Camille Cottin, Lyna Khoudri, Anamaria Vartolomei, with Fabrice Luchini. This has spaceships galore, ethereal aliens, lightsabers, religious metaphors, French sex jokes, and all kinds of other crazy sci-fi things going on. Whoa! But will it be any good? Hard to tell, almost seems too wacky - a bit like Dumont's French history-inspired take on The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. // Continue Reading ›
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- Alex Billington
US Trailer for Tunisian Film About a Mother and Her 'Four Daughters'
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- Alex Billington
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- Alex Billington
Full Trailer for Gross Demonic Horror 'When Evil Lurks' from Argentina
When Evil Lurks Trailer "I've seen it with my own eyes! I was with it!" IFC Films has debuted the main official trailer for a super scary indie horror film titled When Evil Lurks, which just premiered at TIFF recently. After playing there, it's heading to Fantastic Fest and Sitges next this fall - for all horror fans everywhere. A wildly original take on the possession film, When Evil Lurks is a shocking supernatural thriller from Argentine master of horror, writer-director Demián Rugna (Terrified). In a remote village, two brothers find a demon-infected man just about to give birth to evil itself. They decide to get rid him but merely succeed in helping him to deliver the inferno. The indie horror film stars Ezequiel Rodríguez, Eduardo Salomón, and Silvia Sabater. TIFF adds that it has "a brutality that recalls the gory extremities of Lucio Fulci's City of the Living Dead and the hopeless horror of Narciso Ibáñez Serrador's Who Can Kill a Child?" This trailer is disgusting as all hell. So many gross, weird, WTF shot in this. Horror fans definitely don't want to miss it! Delivery date: in October. // Continue Reading ›
- Alex Billington
Official Trailer for 'Once Upon a Studio' Short About Disney Animation
Once Upon a Studio Trailer "C'mon Minnie, this is it!" "Let's get the gang!" Disney has unveiled a quick trailer for a special short film celebrating the magic of Disney Animation called Once Upon a Studio. This 10-minute short film is part of the Disney special event in October airing on ABC called "The Wonderful World of Disney: Disney's 100th Anniversary Celebration!" The description introduces it as: "Celebrate a century of stories with Once Upon A Studio, a new Original short film, premiering on ABC." When two new employees stay at the Walt Disney Animation Studios overnight, they will see all the Disney characters from the past and today come to life, and get all gather up for their very own picture taken for their 100th anniversary. This comedy short is specifically a celebration of Disney Animation's history, with references to many of their iconic characters. This trailer features Mickey & Minnie, Tinker Bell, Bolt, Winnie the Pooh, Ursula, Moana, and plenty more all coming together to have a party in the Disney Animation studio located on the lot in Burbank. Have fun. // Continue Reading ›
- Alex Billington
Boring Action Epic 'Boudica: Queen Of War' Trailer with Olga Kurylenko
Boudica: Queen Of War Trailer "We are in a time of extreme peril, we fight for our freedom!" Saban Films has revealed an official trailer for a historical epic called Boudica: Queen of War, the latest action film from this guy named Jesse V. Johnson who keeps making trash action trash films year-after-year. It's inspired by the true story of Boudica - who was a queen of the ancient British Iceni tribe, who led a failed uprising against the conquering forces of the Roman Empire in AD 60 or 61. She is considered a British national heroine and a symbol of the struggle for justice and independence. Ukrainian-French actress Olga Kurylenko stars as the titular hero. The eponymous Celtic warrior who rules the Iceni people alongside her husband Prasutagus. The King dies at the hands of Roman soldiers, leaving Boudica's kingdom without a male heir and the Romans seize her land and property. But she will rally her people and fight back! Or die trying. This also stars Clive Standen as Prasutagus, Peter Franzén, Rita Tushingham, Leo Gregory, Nick Moran, James Faulkner, and Lucy Martin. Almost anything made by Johnson is going to be bad, and this doesn't look like an exception. // Continue Reading ›
- Alex Billington
Sofia Vergara is 'The Godmother' of the Underworld in 'Griselda' Teaser
Griselda Teaser "I heard that you like my product... We can make a lot of money together." Netflix has revealed the first teaser trailer for a new criminal underworld series called Griselda, arriving for streaming January right the beginning of 2024. The series is about the life of Griselda Blanco, a real person, and a devoted mother who created one of the most profitable cartels in history. Though of course it's a fictionalized version of her story, created by the writers of "Justified" and "Narcos" before this. Here's the tagline: "La Jefa is coming." Sofia Vergara transforms in this series, inspired by Griselda Blanco, a woman who rose from obscurity to become "the Godmother" of the underworld in Colombia. Witness her lethal blend of charm & ruthlessness in this captivating series. The full ensemble cast includes Alberto Guerra, Vanessa Ferlito, Martin Rodriguez, Alberto Ammann, Christian Tappan, Diego Trujillo, Paulina Dávila, Gabriel Sloyer, Juliana Aidén Martinez, and José Zúñiga. This is just a first look intro, showing us the "one in charge." // Continue Reading ›
- Alex Billington
Fun Trailer for Cute RomCom 'The Other Zoey' with Josephine Langford
The Other Zoey Trailer "You have to go after what you want, and be brave!" Brainstorm Media has revealed an official trailer for a romantic comedy called The Other Zoey, the second feature made by an up-and-coming filmmaker named Sara Zandieh. Opening in theaters later in October if anyone wants to find out who she picks. Zoey Miller, a super smart computer nerd who is uninterested in romantic love ("determined to challenge conventional notions of love and relationships"), has her life turned upside down when Zack, the school's soccer star, gets amnesia and mistakes Zoey for his girlfriend, who also happens to share the same name, Zoey. Directed by Sara Zandieh, the film features a talented ensemble cast, including Josephine Langford, Drew Starkey, Archie Renaux, Mallori Johnson, Patrick Fabian, Heather Graham, and Andie MacDowell, The Other Zoey promises to be an enjoyable romantic-comedy with a "fresh look" at love & dating. Everything about this is super cheesy, but many romcoms are like this anyway. Might be fun? Or maybe not? Get a look. // Continue Reading ›
- Alex Billington
Andrew Scott Meets Paul Mescal in 'All of Us Strangers' Official Trailer
All of Us Strangers Trailer "Look at you! You were just a boy... and now you're not." Searchlight Pictures has unveiled the first official trailer for All of Us Strangers, the latest feature from acclaimed British filmmaker Andrew Haigh. This initially premiered at the 2023 Telluride Film Festival already, and it's playing at NYFF and London next this fall, before a release in select theaters in December. Expect it to get rave reviews from many critics. The romantic fantasy film tells the story of a screenwriter who, after an encounter with his neighbor, is pulled back to his childhood home where he discovers that his late parents are somehow living and look the same age as the day they died. Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal star, with Jamie Bell and Claire Foy. Critics have already described it as: "A rumination on grief and love, Haigh's poignant and understated ghost story is one of the best films of the year." Featuring a score by Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch, along with lots of Pet Shop Boys songs in the soundtrack it seems. Looks very intimate! I'll definitely be watching this film. // Continue Reading ›
- Alex Billington
Discussing the 'Legacy' of 'Saw' in Featurette for 'Saw X' Next Sequel
Saw Legacy Featurette "It was our desire to make a film that feels more like the early Saw movies." Lionsgate has debuted a new behind-the-scenes featurette for Saw X, the next sequel in the seemingly never-ending Saw franchise of gruesome, gory, horror movies. The first trailer arrived during the summer, and the film is ready to open in theaters very soon - just in time for spooky season. Set between the events of Saw I + II, Jigsaw travels to Mexico in hopes of trying an experimental procedure that may cure him. He later discovers that it was all just a hoax, leading him to arrange another elaborately grotesque series of fatal games for the scammers. Armed with a newfound purpose, the infamous serial killer returns to his work, turning the tables on the con artists in his signature visceral way with deranged, and ingenious, traps. In addition to Bell, this also stars Shawnee Smith, Synnøve Macody Lund, Steven Brand, Michael Beach, & Renata Vaca. This new video has director Kevin Greutert and producers Mark Burg & Oren Koules talking about how they wanted this to be a "for the fans" movie taking us all back to the first few Saw flicks. Let's hope this turns out good. // Continue Reading ›
- Alex Billington
Natalia Dyer & Rachel Keller in Sensual Drama 'Chestnut' Official Trailer
Chestnut Trailer "You know you're a really nice person." "So are you." "No, I'm not." Utopia has revealed the official trailer for an indie love triangle drama titled Chestnut, the feature directorial debut of up-and-coming filmmaker Jac Cron. This premiered at the 2023 Frameline Film Festival already, and will be playing at Newfest and other fests this fall. A recent college graduate falls into a seductive social life and triangle of attraction with two new friends, party girl Tyler and the more reserved, thoughtful Danny. Frameline adds: "Named for a street in Philly’s Castro-equivalent neighborhood, Chestnut is an emotional drama steeped in sodium street lights and bar-sign neon, following a young woman through the complex, sexually charged liminal space between college and full adulthood." Chestnut stars Natalia Dyer, Rachel Keller, and Danny Ramirez. Looks like a sultry, honest portrait of lust, a simple coming-of-age tale about sexuality and finding yourself. // Continue Reading ›
- Alex Billington
Trailer #2 for 'The Kill Room' Art Thriller with Thurman & Manganiello
The Kill Room Trailer "Everybody wants one!" Shout Studios has unveiled a second trailer for a wacky, extra dark comedy / crime thriller mashup titled The Kill Room, arriving in theaters nationwide next week. The first trailer arrived during the summer. Looks like it could be a hit! The sneaky crime plot is about a hitman (Manganiello), his boss (Jackson), an art dealer (Thurman), and their money laundering scheme that turns the hitman into an overnight, avant garde art sensation (called "The Bagman"), forcing the dealer to play the art world against the underworld. Everyone comes together for one big showdown at the most unlikeliest, yet perfect place for them all - The Miami Art Fair. Uma Thurman stars with Joe Manganiello, Samuel L. Jackson, Debi Mazar, Maya Hawke, Dree Hemingway, Amy Keum, Candy Buckley, Larry Pine, Jennifer Kim, & Alexander Sokovikov. The film seems like a fun riff on how ridiculous the art world is, along with the ridiculous methods for criminals to launder their money nowadays. This seems like it might be really good? // Continue Reading ›
- Anthony Singletary

Ahsoka episode 6 saw brand new characters debut alongside the return of familiar faces in the Star Wars Disney Plus series. A new set of posters has been revealed giving fans their best look yet at the shocking reveals. Readers beware! The following article contains spoilers for Ahsoka episode 6 and Star Wars Rebels. Continue at your own risk! Ahsoka episode 6 featured the return of Ezra Bridger...


- Anthony Singletary

Loki season 2 is set to debut on Disney Plus in just two short weeks. To celebrate the occasion, Marvel has released a brand new poster of Tom Hiddleston as the God of Mischief. Timing is a delicate thing. After over two years, it’s almost time for fans to witness the glorious return of everyone’s favorite God of Mischief in Loki season 2. With the series set to debut on October 5th...


- Anthony Singletary

Invincible has been a smash hit for Amazon Studios, taking the internet by storm with both memes and praise. The comic’s creator, Robert Kirkman, reveals how many seasons he aims to get with the show. Amazon Studios’ Invincible adaptation has been successful beyond their dreams, with fans frothing at the mouth for the show’s second season. However, some fans of the comic worry about how much of...


- Anthony Singletary

Deadpool 3 has long been rumored to feature other iconic X-Men from their time under Fox’s umbrella alongside Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. In a recent interview, director Shawn Levy confirmed they won’t ignore the history of Marvel characters at Fox. For months rumors have swirled that Deadpool 3 will be the nexus of Fox’s X-Men films, with many key characters returning alongside Hugh Jackman’s...


- Anthony Singletary

Batgirl directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah have once more spoken out against the cancellation of their film. Despite this, they remain grateful to have been a small part of the DC Universe. The cancellation of Batgirl by Warner Bros. Discovery chief David Zaslav was perhaps the biggest piece of heartbreak to come out of the DC Universe in 2022 (and that includes Black Adam). Adil El Arbi and...


- Anthony Singletary

Jonathan Majors has been a contentious figure in Marvel Cinematic Universe discourse ever since his arrest in March 2023. It seems as though not everyone shares that sentiment though, with Marvel producer Kevin Wright expressing his excitement about Majors’ role in season 2 of the Loki Disney Plus series. It’s no shock to anyone that Jonathan Majors is set to appear in Loki season 2...


- Anthony Singletary

The first photos from the The Toxic Avenger reboot have been released. One of them offers fans their first look at Elijah Wood, who’s nearly unrecognizable as Fritz Garbinger. The Toxic Avenger was a true cult classic from the 80s, a time when the biggest superheroes could just be piles of nuclear waste. The franchise is being rebooted for a new era later this year, with Elijah Wood playing the...


- Anthony Singletary

After months of begging from fans, DC Studios has finally announced the release date for the final episodes of Doom Patrol on Max. The release date also comes along with a new teaser and the show’s final season poster. Doom Patrol was yet another DC Studios casualty of the Warner Bros. Discovery Merger. Though unlike Batgirl (which also starred Brendan Fraser), it seems as though fans will be...


- Anthony Singletary

It seems as though Star Wars fans have been robbed of the perfect project! Guillermo del Toro recently revealed scrapped plans to direct a Star Wars film written by David Goyer. The idea of a Star Wars film written by David Goyer, the mind behind Blade and Man of Steel, is certainly salivating. Hellboy and Pacific Rim director Guillermo del Toro helming it is simply icing on the cake.


- Anthony Singletary

Rogue One was a refreshing change of pace for the Star Wars franchise, grounding the fantastical universe in truly human stakes. Following his return to Hollywood, the film’s director Gareth Edwards revealed if the film’s protagonist, Jyn Erso, was secretly force-sensitive. Jyn Erso being force-sensitive in Rogue One seems an odd question given she never showed any attunement to it in the film.


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- Christian Toto
Conservatives Can’t Fight Culture Wars Without Doing THIS First

Remember the Late Night Wars?

Letterman vs. Leno was the grudge match for the ages. They even made a movie about the dueling talk-show titans.

YouTube Video

Today, late-night comedians pal around on stages and podcasts, putting competition aside for what they see as the greater good.

Survival, for starters.

Late-night revenue and ratings are spiraling downward, and the format may go the way of the 8-track tape. More importantly, a strong late-night lineup lets liberals smite the Right five days a week.

They’re on the same team, and they realize the power of their progressive messaging. It’s also why any left-leaning piece of art, from “The Comey Rule” to the latest Michael Moore film, earns copious coverage in the mainstream media.

The number of fawning stories about Hulu’s “The 1619 Project” is a glaring, grade-A example.

How are conservatives responding? Infighting. Isolationism. Ignorance. It’s a disaster, especially for the rare, right-leaning artist hoping to promote his or her work.

The Left maintains a strong, unified cultural front. The Right has nothing of the sort.

Consider the case of John Nolte, senior writer at Breitbart News. His new novel, “Borrowed Time,” is a smart, sophisticated tale with his conservative DNA baked into it. It never preaches, but the novel reflects his traditional worldview.

The story follows Joshua Mason, an immortal man whose curse is knowing everyone he ever loves will grow old and die while he keeps on living. “Borrowed Time” examines love, sacrifice and the encroaching techno-Nanny State, hinted at in the book’s singular phrase, the “All at Once.”

EXCLUSIVE SNEAK PEEK: Three Chapters from John Nolte’s Novel, ‘Borrowed Time’ via @BreitbartNews

— Rasmussen Reports (@Rasmussen_Poll) September 17, 2023

It’s the perfect example of excellent, right-leaning art, the kind in such short supply. Yet Nolte told The Hollywood in Toto Podcast in an upcoming episode that his book publisher reached out to roughly 100 right-leaning media sources to see if they could interview the author and, by extension, promote the book.

Two replied. Two. Out of 100.

Robert Davi knows the feeling.

The legendary “Goonies” and “License to Kill” star directed “My Son Hunter” last year, a serio-comic X-ray of the embattled First Son. No one in Hollywood would touch the subject, so Davi teamed with Phelim McAleer and Breitbart News to bring the tale to small screens everywhere.

YouTube Video

The film has only grown in stature given all we’ve learned over the past year about the Biden crime hustle. “My Son Hunter” stars Lawrence Fox as the troubled Hunter Biden,  a film skewering both the man’s personal demons and his corrupt Capitol Hill presence.

Except Davi told the Pop Culture Warriors podcast he didn’t get much help in the promotional department, particularly from Right-leaning news outlets and conservative politicians.

YouTube Video


“Here’s this film a conservative does, and we get it out there somewhat nicely. Yet each week, as something else is unfolding that’s in our story, you’d think they’d say, ‘let’s show a clip from the film, let’s dramatize it and go support ‘My Son Hunter’ the way they did ‘Sound of Freedom.'” Davi said of the Angel Studios’ hit. “There’s a jealousy in terms of not promoting anybody else’s material.”

Ironically, “My Son Hunter” earned plenty of (negative) press from mainstream outlets but modest coverage in right-leaning venues.

The problem extends throughout the GOP and its constituents, and it needs to stop, the actor/director warns.

“Culture has a more lasting effect than a blurb on something. Also, celebrate your artists who are courageous enough to do something. Lift us up,” Davi said. “If it was Alec Baldwin you bet your ass the Left would be piping that out every single day.”

Pop Culture Warriors co-host Brett R. Smith, a veteran illustrator, added his perspective to Davi’s comments.

“A lot of conservative influencers and talking heads …they’re just not very good at highlighting, promoting and celebrating the artists on our side,” said Smith, the prolific artist behind “Clinton Cash” and other right-leaning projects. “I think they’re getting better as more and more of us create [art] and get it out there. There needs to be more emphasis on the artists because we are the people who are going to be able to reach out to all of those ‘Normies’ in the middle of the country who are nonpolitical, apolitical, and who haven’t been influenced. We are the gateway to those people. And if we can influence them and change their hearts and minds, then they’re voting.”

Blaze Media recently “went Hollywood” with its first indie feature, “Re-Opening.” The comedy followed a hapless theatrical company putting on a performance at the height of the pandemic. The film proved smart, funny and brimming with satirical body blows against pandemic overreach.

No lectures. Plenty of sly observations about government overreach.

YouTube Video, a far-Left entertainment outlet, reported on the film’s acquisition. And that’s more or less it, coverage-wise.

Blaze Media’s “Normal World,” a right-leaning podcast/sketch comedy showcase also generated little conservative press. StudioJake Media was a welcome exception.

We’ve seen a few right-leaning projects defy this narrative.

The media landscape, both Left and Right, gave copious coverage to “Rich Men North of Richmond,” the breakout Oliver Anthony track that savaged the political status quo. Anthony, for what it’s worth, rejected the “conservative” label after GOP politicians weighed in on his song.

By comparison, right-leaning rapper Tom MacDonald draws little conservative media attention for his chart-topping tracks shredding corrupt media outlets and Identity Politics.

YouTube Video

Author and podcaster Andrew Klavan shared why conservatives must create art in today’s culture. The best artists can turn their experiences into powerful narratives that connect with more than just their ideological friends.

Stories, for example, about Big Tech censorship and careers crushed for not espousing the “right” point of view.

The author of the upcoming “The House of Love and Death” recalled how he lost his Hollywood screenwriting career for not preaching from the progressive choir.

“It is a story, it is a thing that happened to me, and it didn’t feel great … I knew I was doing the right thing, and so I did it,” said Klavan, who previously shared in the same podcast episode how blacklisted screenwriters in the 1950s poured their persecution stories into magnificent art like “High Noon” and “On the Waterfront.”

“If we don’t learn to tell our stories. If we don’t support the people who tell stories [emphasis added], if we don’t make sure the inner experience of what the Left has done to us becomes everyone’s experience, then we’ll never be able to change minds. It doesn’t matter what laws we pass,” Klavan said.

Documentary filmmaker Michael Pack wrote a compelling op-ed for Real Clear Politics about the need for conservatives to make movies and not fight the Culture Wars from the sidelines.

Pack spoke to The Hollywood in Toto Podcast about his new Palladium Pictures and how it’s teaching the next generation of right-leaning storytellers. He summed up why conservatives need to pick up some cameras, and fast, in that fiery op-ed.

Conservatives complain that they are losing the culture wars. And they are right. That won’t change until conservatives actually produce culture, which would be good for everyone. American culture would be enriched by art made by artists with diverse viewpoints and experiences.

That art needs a cheering section, too, something conservative media too often ignores. Without it, the conservative culture offensive may end before it begins.

The post Conservatives Can’t Fight Culture Wars Without Doing THIS First appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
Howard Stern Banned Adam Carolla for Craziest Reason

Howard Stern is living in the past – March 2020, to be precise.

The radio legend’s fear of COVID-19 is all-consuming. He didn’t leave his home during the pandemic, broadcasting his SiriusXM show from his Southhampton home.

While others masked up and went about their lives, Stern lived in mortal fear of a virus with a very low death rate for his body composition.

He got booster after booster and, finally, emerged from his self-imposed exile last year to dine with his celebrity friends after two long years. And he was a wreck doing it. 

Not Adam Carolla.

The free-thinking podcaster smelled something fishy about the pandemic narratives from the beginning. He carried on as if nothing had changed, played comedy clubs and continued his various podcast programs.

Tell me what I got wrong about Covid. I am all ear’s

— Adam Carolla (@adamcarolla) January 27, 2023

Carolla mocked the notion of mask-wearing on commercial flights, except for the times passengers snacked on the generic treats given out by the flight attendants. He also shredded media outlets for downplaying the age of virus victims, suggesting we were all at near-equal risk from the virus.

Along the way, he threw cold water on the media’s fear merchants, noting that healthy people had little to fear from the pandemic. The elderly and immune-compromised?

That was another story.

He was that rare Hollywood voice that decried lockdowns and vaccine mandates. And Carolla has been proven right, again and again, about pandemic fear-mongering.

That apparently was too much for Stern, who still believes every virus horror story being peddled by his preferred news network … MSNBC.

YouTube Video

Guest news anchor Teresa Strasser shared a story about Howard Stern’s reaction to Bill Maher critiquing his love life. Maher suggested it hurt Stern’s former wife’s feelings went he waxed poetic about his current squeeze, Beth Stern, on air.

The radio legend called Maher’s comments “sexist.”

 “That doesn’t seem that harsh,” Carolla noted of Maher’s comments. “I think Howard’s skin is getting a little thinner as he gets older.”

“Have you been on his show in a while? You were great on that show,” Strasser asked. 

“No. I’m no longer welcome on the show because I was right about everything COVID. It’s important that I be punished for being correct about everything COVID.”


It isn’t unusual for Stern to banish celebrities from his radio show. He previously exiled Gilbert Gottfried, one of the Stern show’s greatest guests, from the program years before the comedian’s 2022 death.

No official reason was given for the banishment.

Stern isn’t the only celebrity to cut Carolla off for his nonconformist views. Longtime friend and show guest David Alan Grier also stopped appearing on Carolla’s show despite being one of the most popular, and memorable, recurring guests. 

Adam addresses DAG's comments made on Stern.

— The Adam Carolla Show (@AdamCarollaShow) January 29, 2019

Grier is liberal, and Carolla’s willingness to call out progressive narratives while staying politically neutral proved too much for the “In Living Color” alum.

Grier told, who else, Stern why he no longer speaks to Carolla during a 2019 radio appearance.

“Adam and I were quite close, but not anymore,” Grier said. “He’s a right-wing troll now. I just can’t hang out with him anymore … I haven’t done his show in years. I just can’t do it anymore.”

Grier then told Stern a story about lecturing a right-leaning Twitter user not to hate him for his liberal views. Stern immediately noted the hypocrisy, which Grier happily confirmed.

Carolla remains a loyal pal to Jimmy Kimmel, his old “Man Show” colleague. Kimmel regurgitates every COVID-19 narrative from his ABC talk show perch, but Carolla says he doesn’t discuss politically-charged issues with his longtime friend.

The post Howard Stern Banned Adam Carolla for Craziest Reason appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
‘No One Will Save You’ Crumbles at Worst Possible Time

Writer/director Brian Duffield paints himself into a corner in “No One Will Save You.”

And, like too many genre storytellers, he never writes his way out.

Don’t blame star Kaitlyn Dever.

The “Last Man Standing” alum delivers a powerful turn, with nary a line of dialogue, that anchors the ambitious thriller. It’s still not enough to paper over nagging questions that balloon in a stupefying third act.

And the less said about the resolution, the better.

YouTube Video

Dever stars as Brynn, a young woman living in near isolation. She makes the most of it, crafting a mini town in her expansive home and cooking wonderful meals for one.

There’s an undercurrent of sadness lurking around the edges.

She hears someone entering her home one night, assuming it’s your garden-variety intruder. Instead, it’s a skinny grey alien who looks like every extraterrestrial sketch we’ve seen over the past 50-odd years.

“No One Will Save You” embraces that UFO trope, but that doesn’t reduce the ick factor. The creature moves and talks in ways that burrow under the audience’s skin, along with Brynn’s.

What starts as a slick spin on the home invasion thriller blossoms into something more sinister. This alien isn’t alone, and Brynn’s neighbors have already met them.

Freaky new poster for No One Will Save You, coming to Hulu this Friday. Artist: @cmloweART

— Bloody Disgusting (@BDisgusting) September 19, 2023

Duffield fleshes out Brynn’s back story slowly, ensuring it’s a critical part of the narrative. It’s admirable in a genre film, an attention to detail seen throughout the story. Dever does the rest, imbuing every scene with a grittiness that few genre actors can match.

It’s hard to imagine what “No One Will Save You” would be like without her.

Still, the story has to go somewhere, and the deeper into the invasion we go it becomes clear Duffield of “Spontaneous” fame has his work cut out for him.

A smaller-scale thriller might have untied the story knots. Instead, the film takes some head-scratching turns that ratchet down the tension. We’re finally told the secrets behind Brynn’s solitude, but they arrive too late and make little difference in the big picture.

Alien invasions dwarf personal tragedies. Sorry, not sorry.

Duffield delivers some strong individual scares, suggesting a major talent is at work after years of screenwriting efforts (“Love and Monsters,” “Underwater”). The film’s potent sound design more than makes up for the dearth of dialogue, and Dever registers a fear that’s both relatable and genre friendly.

We’d be scared, too, in her shoes.

FAST FACT: A young Kaitlyn Dever spent all of one month in Los Angeles before snagging the first role for which she ever auditioned. She’s also been home-schooled since the fourth grade.  

Brynn is no Mary Sue, but a resourceful soul scrambling to live another day. She escapes one pickle after another, but eventually we see the screenplay’s strings in the process.

“No One Will Save You” wraps with a tonal compromise that won’t leave anyone satisfied. That leaves us mulling too many plot contrivances for a story that could have been a stunner with a serious rewrite.

HiT or Miss: “No One Will Save You” offers a brilliant turn by Kaitlyn Dever but can’t live up to its potential.

The post ‘No One Will Save You’ Crumbles at Worst Possible Time appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
Russell Brand: I Won’t Stop Targeting Corrupt Media, Big Pharma

The snap, crackle and pop of your average Russell Brand video was nowhere to be seen today.

The British comedian aired his first new video since a media investigation revealed four women have charged him with sexual assault. Brand looked the same on screen, but his bubbly presence and smiling visage were replaced by a stoic gaze.

No giddy shout-outs to his 6.6 million YouTube followers. No cheeky jokes betwixt the social commentary.

This is serious, his tone told viewers, following days of a relentless media campaign to paint him as a monster who preys on women.

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We’ve witnessed a drip, drip drip of accusations against the 48-year-old comic, from resurfaced bits from his past seen through a new prism to allegations he exposed himself to a woman back in 2008.

Brand, who normally releases several video commentaries a week, has been silent since a video six days ago warning fans that a media investigation into his past was under way.


The comic’s first official message since then was short and to the point. He’s glad his followers are questioning the veracity of the media accounts of his past alleged behavior.

More importantly?

Come Monday, he’ll resume attacking the targets he’s been hitting so often over the past year.

Media corruption Deep state lies The military-industrial complex Big Pharma

Brand didn’t declare his innocence in the three-plus minute video. He essentially did that in the previous clip.

Instead, he asked fans to follow him on Rumble moving forward. The freer speech platform hasn’t demonetized Brand like YouTube did earlier this week.

The comedian brought up the Trusted News Initiative, a British body designed to root out so-called disinformation.

“It’s a collaboration between Big Tech and legacy media organizations to target, control, choke and shut down independent media organizations … like this one,” Brand said.

More critical?

The UK government is pressuring Rumble to do just that, but the company is resisting that bullying campaign. British officials are similarly suggesting TikTok follow suit.

The British government is now asking TikTok if @rustyrockets is able to monetize his content on that platform.

This was never about Russell Brand.

This was a political pretext so governments across the world can coordinate with social media companies to acquire total control…

— Viva Frei (@thevivafrei) September 20, 2023

We don’t know if the allegations against Brand are true. The comedian’s hedonistic past and addiction issues are well known.

His followers understand the mainstream press and government bodies loathe his transformation from hard-Left socialist to a right-leaning populist.

They suspect the allegations flow from that, not actual wrongdoing.

We’ll hopefully learn the truth at some point. For now, Brand will keep on speaking truth to what he sees as the cultural power. Other groups, from Big Tech platforms to show business types, will continue to see him as guilty until proven innocent.

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- Christian Toto
Is Bill Burr’s ‘Old Dads’ the Comedy Conservatives Crave?

Mainstream comics leave countless jokes on the table.

Just consider the Biden administration, for starters. The material practically writes itself, from the president’s near-daily short circuits to VP Kamala Harris’ word salad speeches.

Ideology keeps getting in the way.

The same holds for the woke mindset. Comedians ignore how the Left labels every third word as racist, problematic or downright offensive.

Think “peanut gallery,” “hooligan,” “American,” “immigrant,” “grandfather” and “submit.” So many hate crimes in just one paragraph, no?

Bill Burr finds plenty to laugh about in the woke mindset.

His 2019 Netflix comedy special “Paper Tigers” skewered woke platitudes with wit and wisdom.

Here’s a withering take on the devolution of the MeToo movement:

“The stories were big at the beginning … then, they started tapering off. Until six months in, they just sounded like bad dates. ‘He was 10 minutes later, the chicken was cold… I think I was raped.’”

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Now, Burr is going back to the woke well for his upcoming Netflix comedy, “Old Dads.”

The Oct 20 release, starring, directed and co-written by Burr, follows three men who embraced fatherhood later in life. They run headfirst into a Gen Z culture they neither understand or appreciate.

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The film co-stars two underrated stars, Bobby Cannavale and Bokeem Woodbine as Burr’s fellow “Dads.”

The trailer leans hard into the generational divide between the titular fathers and their peers. When a younger dad tells Burr’s character, Jack, to treat his child’s injury with Neosporin, not dirt, the older Dad snaps.

“Why don’t you go on Twitter and share this story where you’re the hero,” Burr says. He’s wrong … and he still has a point about virtue signaling.


Burr made a seamless transition from stand-up comic to actor. He excelled in “The King of Staten Island” and gave “The Mandalorian” a bump with his presence.

We’ll see if his shift to writer/director is just as smooth.

Just don’t expect “Old Dads” to skewer the woke characters alone, or for Jack to cling to all of his old ways. Burr is too smart a storyteller to turn his film into a sermon preaching to the anti-woke choir.

The fact that he’s mocking the cultural movement in the first place is consequential and overdue. 

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- Christian Toto

It’s hard to believe the broadcaster who once threw bologna slices at female buttocks has gone woke.

It’s true, and we’re not talking about Jimmy Kimmel.

Yes, the former “Man Show” host who once made bikini girls jump on trampolines for the “male gaze” went woke. He’s abandoned his ribald past and embraced the far-Left narratives du jour.

Except when he’s sexualizing his political enemies.

We’re talking about Howard Stern, the man synonymous with degrading sex talk. Stern, 69, recently admitted he’s as woke as they come. And he’s darn proud of it.

“I am woke, motherf***er, and I love it,” he told his radio audience earlier this week.

The radio show host recently went on a tirade against conservative politicians, but many of his past comments about young women, including the underage Olsen twins, have resurfaced, proving he's the last person who should lecture anyone on morality.

— Evie Magazine (@Evie_Magazine) September 21, 2023

He also shared his latest celebrity feud, his on-again, off-again friendship with “Club Random” host Bill Maher. The trouble began when Maher noticed how Stern raves about his second wife, Beth Stern, on air, something that Maher suggested must rub the radio star’s first wife, Alison Berns, the wrong way.

Maher is probably right, but Stern is hardly the only person to find love again after a failed marriage. Maybe we can blame the faulty logic on alcohol. “Club Random” finds Maher drinking throughout the interview show, setting the podcast’s casual tone in motion.

Still, the comments cut Stern deeply.

“What a sexist thing to say. What a convoluted, nutty thing to say,” Stern said. “He says it must hurt [Berns’] feelings that I’m in love with a different woman. It’s assuming that he knows something about my first marriage. That of course the man must be leaving the woman and the woman must be devastated and be sitting around pining away for her famous man.”

Stern is right, but note the way he framed his criticism.

It’s “sexist.” Really?

The King of All Media, a man who forged his empire by coaxing women to get naked in front of him, is now so woke he calls other people “sexist.”

Evidently, Stern’s million-dollar homes lack mirrors.


This is the new Howard Stern, the one who torched his legacy to appease the social justice mob. And he’s done it for a savvy reason. Stern’s radio canon teems with “problematic” fare that mainstream broadcasters can no longer discuss.

Comedian Joe DeVito gave Stern a lesson in what woke means on Fox News “Gutfeld!”

“Woke is a slavish devotion to left-wing ideology and then repeating it so you can get social credit … it doesn’t mean you’re smarter than anybody,” DeVito said.

The comic added Stern’s devotion to getting COVID-19 booster after booster, but spending years curled up at home in fear of getting a virus that posed little threat to a healthy, slim man in his 60s, hardly screams “science.”

“If you believed in the science you wouldn’t be hiding out like Howard Hughes in your mansion,” DeVito said.

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- Christian Toto

Hollywood has been mostly silent on the wave of censorship washing over the culture.

Consider the following examples in the arts alone.

“The French Connection,” an Oscar-winning classic, got snipped to remove an offensive word Books by Agatha Christie, Roald Dahl and Ian Fleming got a sensitivity reader “upgrade” Films and TV shows with problematic content have been erased in the public arena Comedians fear the loss of their careers for telling the “wrong” jokes

It’s just a partial list, but it’s damning all the same. And that doesn’t include Big Tech censors restricting both comedy and free speech across YouTube, TikTok, Facebook and more.

There has never been a time where the ones who were censoring free speech were the good guys.” @RobertKennedyJr
This podcast was posted April 6 on YouTube and censored on August 23.
Thank you to @elonmusk and X for being a safeguard of free speech.
Empire is making its move.…

— Aubrey Marcus (@AubreyMarcus) September 19, 2023

Celebrities routinely weigh in on subjects they have little to no expertise on, from border enforcement to gun control. Their livelihoods depend on free expression, yet most are stone silent on the subject.

The exceptions include:

Bill Maher Joe Rogan Rob Schneider John Cleese Nick Searcy 

And, to a lesser extent, both Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg

Now, a gaggle of stars is skewering so-called “book bans” happening across the nation.

Upwards of 175 actors, musicians, authors, comedians, reality stars, models, media personalities, academics, activists and more have signed the open letter spearheaded by Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton and published Tuesday via public advocacy organization and political action committee MoveOn Political Action.

That’s your first clue the mission is politically motivated. is a progressive body that promotes Democratic causes.


Why make censorship a political matter?

Here’s why.

One, many of the “book bans” in question involved sexually graphic tomes that have no business being in a school setting. Conservatives are trying to protect children from inappropriate material, while Democrats want this filth in schools nationwide.


Senator John Kennedy reads GRAPHIC and SEXUALLY EXPLICIT EXCERPTS from books that Democrats complain about being banned and confronts left-wing activists about allowing them in schools and libraries.

— (@townhallcom) September 12, 2023

Two, the conservative movement has embraced free speech as a core principle in the modern era. The Left, the former champions of free expression, now favors hate speech restrictions and looks the other way as the U.S. government censors American citizens.

A lot.

The next time you watch college students shout down a conservative speaker consider which party they call home.

There’s only one answer. And they’re proud of it.

And when social media giants like Facebook and Twitter banned President Donald Trump three years ago, many celebrities cheered the move.

Here is a partial list of the actors involved in the new “book banning” statement.

Mark Ruffalo, Billy Porter, Chelsea Handler, Constance Wu, John Leguizamo, Christie Brinkley, Angie Thomas, Raquel Willis, Idina Menzel, Roxane Gay, Adina Porter, Judy Blume, Busy Philipps, Garbage, Jodi Picoult, Natasha Rothwell, Andy Cohen, Sarah Paulson, Emma Roberts, Abigail Disney, Jazz Jennings, Margaret Atwood, Michael Ian Black, Sharon Stone, Judd Apatow, Nikki Giovanni, Alyssa Milano, Bill Nye, Zooey Deschanel, Patton Oswalt, Aisha Tyler, Natasha Lyonne, Maia Kobabe, Zoe Lister-Jones, Alok and Ava Max.

How many of those stars have spoken out against sensitivity readers? Big Tech censorship? The Biden administration’s censorship regime? Attacks on comedians for telling the “wrong” jokes?

None, to this reporter’s knowledge. If that is incorrect please share the details in the comments section.

Heck, Disney tried to censor “Jihad Rehab,” a film she previously championed after the woke mob targeted it for extinction.

It’s one thing for Hollywood stars to remain silent on modern censorship. It’s gross, but we can’t force celebrities to speak out on every issue of the day, even one that directly impacts their art form.

For some of these same stars to rally behind a politically charged effort that ignores the larger, toxic threat to free speech is something far more insidious.

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- Christian Toto
Kurt Metzger: President Biden’s Brain ‘Is Swiss Cheese’

You won’t find Kurt Metzger wearing a red MAGA cap.

The comic firebrand, part of Jimmy Dore’s irreverent podcast, is no fan of the 45th president. He still calls balls and strikes as he sees ’em, and this week he teed off on the current Commander in Chief. And, by extension, liberals and reporters who pretend there’s nothing wrong with the 80-year-old leader.

(But we repeat ourselves.)

In the process, Metzger said life under President Donald Trump wasn’t nearly as bad as progressives suggest. Just the opposite, actually.

The Emmy and Peabody Award winning writer and producer sat down with Michael Malice for the latter’s “You’re Welcome” podcast.

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Metzger, formerly a writer and contributor to “Inside Amy Schumer,” weighed in on the disconnect his liberal friends are having with reality. He didn’t label them as “liberal.” He didn’t have to do so. It was obvious by the context.

“Biden is clearly gone,” Metzger said. “I can’t believe people argue about if he’s too old. That has nothing to do with it. His brain is Swiss cheese.”

“When he was young he wasn’t good,” the comedian continued. “But now he’s gone.”

President Biden has endured a series of humiliating gaffes since becoming president. A recent New York Post report cited a litany of lies and embarrassing moments that occurred within a single week.

.@kayleighmcenany: This Is The Problem With Biden Gaffes…

— Mr Producer (@RichSementa) September 13, 2023

Mock and Daisy: Daily Dish: Biden Gaffes Galore, Hunter’s Gun Charges, & The Republican Unity Problem

— Ricochet (@Ricochet) September 15, 2023

Joe Biden gaffes spark petition to seize back control after concerns 'geriatric elites' unfit to govern

— GB News (@GBNEWS) September 13, 2023

Malice shared the typical liberal response to noting Biden’s deterioration.

“Biden’s brain is Swiss cheese. ‘Oh, then Trump’s much better?'” the podcastwe said, mocking how the rebuttal makes no sense.

“I don’t even like Trump, yeah, much better,” Metzger said.

“I don’t know if you remember the four years of [Trump] and these last four years. There’s no comparison. The last, like, three years were the worst I’ve ever seen in my life. Every aspect of it was a f*** up. Trump, I didn’t think was great, but I can’t even believe what a paradise that was compared to this psycho lockdown censorship regime of this…”

.@ElonMusk exposed Biden’s censorship regime and the @TheJusticeDept opened two investigations into him. Mark Zuckerberg spent $400 million tilting elections for Democrats… No investigations! Protection money? DOJ under Garland is employing Mafia tactics.

— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) September 21, 2023

Most mainstream comedians either ignore President Biden or take lazy swipes at his age. They do so in a farcical fashion, steering clear of Biden’s wobbly mental state.

Late-night comedians mostly avoided Biden jokes prior to the writers’ strike that shut the industry down May 2. “Saturday Night Live” similarly skips Biden gags, choosing to attack former President Trump and various GOP officials despite the party’s minority status.

The NBC sketch series uncorked one withering sketch last year that touched on Biden’s cognitive decline.

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- Christian Toto
Glenn Beck Betting Big on Conservative Movies (And More)

Andrew Klavan warned us. 

The author and Daily Wire podcaster told the conservative movement not to ignore pop culture. It matters, and it impacts more than just box office receipts or Nielsen ratings.

And conservatives duly ignored him. Now, they’re seeing the light.

The Daily Wire is going Hollywood. Blaze Media introduced “Normal World” along with its first feature film, “Re-Opening.”

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Palladium Pictures is prepping both original documentaries and an incubator program to teach aspiring filmmakers to tell stories that Hollywood ignores.

Now, one of the biggest names in conservative politics vows he’s all-in on creating art that speaks to traditional values.

Glenn Beck started the ball rolling via his Blaze Media efforts. And he’s only getting started.

Beck told “The Andrew Klavan Podcast” that he’s moving full steam ahead into Hollywood-style productions.

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“We’re just starting to get to the place where we have the assets, the money, the distribution access … to be able to make good, quality movies,” Beck said. “One of the breakthroughs was ‘The Chosen.’ That thing was so well done. It doesn’t feel like a conservative movie typically feels.”

“I’m working on some things with a few movie studios and schools and local theaters to help grow the next generation [of storytellers],” Beck continued, using an analogy to compare what conservatives are currently left with on the cultural front. “I firmly believe we have to stop going to the barrel and instead go to the tree to pick the apples.”

Beck’s vision isn’t for a movie or two, or even for films preaching to the proverbial choir. He’s talking art and, eventually, his legacy.

“This could be, in the end, if we’re able to unlock it, this could be the best thing or the most important thing I may have contributed in my life,” Beck said.


Think apprenticeships, for starters.

“I believe that the best way to learn is to not go to school but to go to really bright people,” Beck said. “You can learn by doing it … I think that is where we need to go.”

None of this was possible just a short time ago. Hollywood controlled all the levers of power. Technology didn’t allow the average artist to create a film credible enough to be made at home.

Much of this has changed, and dramatically so. The landscape also favors a traditional cultural renaissance given the dearth of product aimed at heartland consumers. Significant work has to be done first.

“I have the old Paramount studios in Dallas, but we use them for TV stuff … what if you wanna make movies or comedies? We have to have the ability to do this. All the way from the gaffer to the executive producer and actress, we have to have all of this covered,” Beck said.

“Hollywood is not gonna change,” Klavan said. “We have to build our own place.”

Beck shared how he often invites artists to his ranch to gather, create and inspire one another. One such artist, who had worked for Disney for years, drilled down on the core elements of story.

Not propaganda or talking points. Story.

“These are things the Right never pays attention to, and that’s why we lose,” Beck warned.

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- Christian Toto
Andrew Schulz Mocks Hasan Minhaj’s ‘Emotional’ True Lies

One of the crazier aspects of modern culture is the pressure placed on today’s comedians.

Tell the “wrong” joke or poke fun at the “wrong” target and you better apologize, and fast.

Just ask Dave Chappelle, who endured a sizable attack on his career for telling trans jokes. He nearly lost his Netflix special, “The Closer,” watched distributors flee his unnamed documentary and got canceled by a legendary Minneapolis club.

Oh, and an audience member attacked him on stage.

The man accused of attacking comedian Dave Chappelle on stage at the Hollywood Bowl while carrying a replica gun that contained a switchblade pleaded not guilty today to four misdemeanor counts

— Deadline Hollywood (@DEADLINE) May 6, 2022

Comedians deserve the creative space to say what they want in pursuit of a laugh. That isn’t Hasan Minhaj’s prime directive.

The far-left comic uses humor to score political points, via his short-lived Netflix series “Patriot Act” or stand-up routines. It turns out he’s been spinning some tall tales along the way according to a New Yorker expose, something he defended as “emotional truths.”

Fellow comic Andrew Schulz found that hilarious.

The “Flagrant” podcast host skewered Minhaj on his latest episode, explaining the difference between a comedian’s creative expression and just making bleep up. The comic, along with co-host Akaash Singh, immediately brought up the comic’s scandal.

“How do we even know that’s how he pronounces his name?” Schulz asked in mock seriousness. “I think that his name is 70 percent emotionally true.”

 “My comedy Arnold Palmer is 70 percent emotional truth — this happened — and then 30 percent hyperbole, exaggeration, fiction,” Minhaj infamously said.

Schulz was just warming up.

“You’re gonna get these f***ing jokes. You deserve it,” Schulz said of Minhaj.

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The podcaster noted a key difference between a comedian embellishing a story and Minhaj’s methods.

“Usually we [lie] to make things funnier, not make things more racist, or sad or emotional,” he said. “It’s not like he’s been using these exaggerations or hyperbole as punchlines. He was using them to make the audience feel worse about him. And it turns out these things didn’t actually happen.”

Singh then brought up Minhaj’s lie about his disastrous prom experience. The girl in question initially accepted his invitation to prom, but when he showed up at the door she was standing there with another date. The comedian claimed her parents disapproved of him being brown and made her accept another invite.

Another lie.

“Not only are my parents not racist, I’m married to an Indian,” Singh said, echoing the woman’s rebuttal to Minhaj for publicly calling her out from the stage.

It got worse.

Minhaj told enough details about the woman in question that her family subsequently received death threats for allegedly being racist.

“This is the problem when you lie in your specials,” Schulz said in mock seriousness. “That girl had to marry an Indian so that people wouldn’t think she was racist.”


Singh added another disturbing element to the story. He says Minhaj told him that prom story personally, away from the stage and klieg lights.

“I’m talking like 2012, bro and I used to be friends,” Singh explained. “Of all the reasons I don’t f*** with this guy, this wasn’t one of them.”

“Plenty of us exaggerate things in our jokes,” Schulz said, detailing one of his jokes that got massaged from an actual event to tighten the humor. “We change these things to make parts of the joke funnier. It’s Jussie Smollett when you’re lying about victimization.”

Smollett infamously said he was attacked by Trump fans on a bitterly cold Chicago night nearly four years ago, a story that ended up being declared fake in a court of law.

“If you realize that none of this is true, the whole thing is hilarious,” Singh added. “This is the greatest comic ever, I think!” 

Schulz wasn’t alone in mocking Minhaj following the New Yorker investigation.

“Hasan Minhaj lying about his kid getting sprayed with anthrax is the funniest thing he’s ever done,” comedy podcasters Haus of Decline said. “Also, it’s so funny to make a huge part of your persona about fighting Islamophobia and then you’re like ‘The freakin’ Saudis sent me anthrax cause that’s the type of shit they’re on!’”

Wait are they saying he DIDN’T accidentally spill anthrax powder on his baby while opening a terror envelope as he claimed and we ALL believed?!

— Kurt Metzger (@kurtmetzger) September 15, 2023

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- Christian Toto
Kevin Sorbo: ‘Tolerant’ Hollywood Filled with ‘Anger and Hate’

Kevin Sorbo got blacklisted from Hollywood for being an openly conservative Christian.

Let that sink in.

He didn’t allegedly groom minors a la Ezra Miller. Nor did he accidentally shoot a colleague on set like Alec Baldwin did in 2021. No one has come forward to say Sorbo mistreated them due to their sexual identity or background.

Just don’t call Sorbo a victim. Need a better label? Try “steadily working actor, producer and one-man culture warrior.”

He says he’s made more than 50 films outside the Hollywood ecosystem, including the smash hit “God’s Not Dead” and 2017’s “Let There Be Light,” which earned an impressive $7.7 million stateside.

His production shingle Sorbo Studios has a new movie coming soon, a fact-based tale brimming with humor and heart.

Or, as Sorbo describes it to The Hollywood in Toto Podcast, a film like Hollywood used to make.

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Miracle in East Texas,” only in theaters Oct. 29 and 30 via Fathom Events, packs faith, love, hope and redemption” into a PG-rated tale of two scoundrels caught in the act. Veteran screenwriter Dan Gordon (“The Hurricane,” “Big George Foreman” penned the screenplay previously meant for Robert Redford.

Sorbo and co-star John Ratzenberger play con men who travel the Midwest in 1930s America “wooing widows out of their money on fake oil wells,” Sorbo explains. “They would sell 500 percent of their shares, declare a dry hole and move on to another town … and then they accidentally strike oil.”

Tickets are available now at

Sorbo went rogue after Hollywood canceled him, creating his own studio to make movies without the industry’s permission. He says his films offer stories for audiences being ignored by the mainstream.

“More and more people are waking up and realizing there’s 80 million homes out there that really want the kind of movies that I’m doing, that Jim Caviezel is doing, that the Erwin brothers are doing,” he said, the latter referencing the team behind films such as “I Can Only Imagine” and “American Underdog.”

Sorbs isn’t the only artist to be marginalized by Hollywood for his beliefs. He sees people like them all the time on film sets.

“I get these people coming up to me, camera guys, lighting guys, actors, on every movie I’ve been doing for the past five or six years,” he says. “They say, ‘thanks for being a voice for us.’ Well, be a voice for yourself. Why do I have to be your voice? What are you afraid of? ‘Well, I don’t wanna get blacklisted like you.’ You know what, Hollywood’s not calling me anymore to do any television series or big-budget movies,” the former “Hercules” star says. “But that’s ok. That’s ok. They’re the ones that scream for love and peace, but they’re the oppositive of that. They’re filled with nothing but hate and anger for people like you and me.”


Indie filmmakers routinely struggle to snag funding for their films. Sorbo is no different.

“I do these wonderful family movies, and it’s pulling teeth to raise $3 million bucks. That’s catering budgets on $300 million ‘Avengers’ movies,” Sorbo says. “I’ve never lost anybody money who invested in my movies. Let’s go out and fight this culture war.”

The problem isn’t getting better, even with the success of movies like “God’s Not Dead” or, more recently, “Sound of Freedom.”

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Both titles spoke directly to under-served audiences. Each became box office sensations.

“We have a culture war on our hands, and Hollywood is winning,” he says. “I meet very wealthy people … that $3 million to them is like $300 to me. I’ve met people worth $10 billion. They’re making $2 million a day off of the interest alone. [I tell them,]You’ll get your money back and we’ll have a movie out there forever that aligns with your values.”

Sorbo says his projects typically go into production after a chance meeting with benefactors who appreciate his brand of storytelling. The actor calls these breakthroughs providential.

“Out of the blue, someone came up and said, ‘hey, I love what you do. Can you make a movie with this much money?'” he says. “And I say, ‘yes I can.'”

To hear the full interview, including Sorbo’s views on Disney and the dueling Hollywood strikes, please visit The Hollywood in Toto podcast.

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- Christian Toto
‘Totally Killer’ Brings Back the ’80s (Thanks Goodness!)

We’re going back to the 1980s. Again.

Shoulder pads. Mullets. Parachute pants. Muscle-bound movie stars. This time, it’s a “killer” comedy with a time-travel twist.

“Totally Killer,” dropping Oct. 6 on Prime Video, follows a precocious teen (Kiernan Shipka) who travels back in time when the town’s most notorious serial killer is slicing and dicing the locals. She joins forces with her mom, now a teenager played by Olivia Holt, to stop the monster before he strikes again.

Modern Family” standout Julie Bowen plays the teen’s mother in the present.

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The ’80s nostalgia craze unofficially started with 1998’s “The Wedding Singer” and never stopped. That film featured a mullet-topped Adam Sandler trying to woo Drew Barrymore in the first of their three rom-coms (to date).

Since then we’ve seen “The Goldbergs,” “Stranger Things,” “That ’80s Show,” “Wet Hot American Summer,” “Everybody Wants Some!” ‘Wonder Woman 1984” and more.

Plus, two of the decade’s biggest action stars, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, are still going strong into their 70s.

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There’s a very good reason why we refuse to let go of the Reagan decade. In fact, we might see even more of it before the wave crests.

No Woke. No Problem.

The ’80s were the furthest thing from woke. To a fault, we might add. Characters like Long Duk Dong from “Sixteen Candles” wouldn’t fly today, and that’s not a bad thing. Still, Hollywood screenwriters didn’t worry about offending one group or another. They went for broke, cranking out gloriously subversive fare and comedies that never held back.

Audiences long for that era, where we didn’t walk on eggshells and understood evil film characters were … evil … and we didn’t admire or emulate them.

Analog Rocks!

We’re addicted to our smart phones, not to mention Twitter, Facebook and TikTok. Still, part of us longs for a simpler era, a time when we partied with friends without constantly checking our phones or sharing selfies on Facebook.

The 1980s offers a window into that former realm, one with many of our modern tech advances but none of the social media contagions.

Reagan-Worthy Heroes

Don’t get us wrong. Anti-heroes like Walter White and Tony Sopranos made TV infinitely better. Still, it’s hard not to miss wisecracking heroes played by Bruce Willis, Schwarzenegger and Stallone. They didn’t wrestle with their conscience or get dressed down by their woke superiors.

They got the job done and stayed oiled up in the process. You’re welcome, ladies…

The era’s pop culture escapism took the edge off Cold War woes and fears of a nuclear Armageddon.

Shared Culture (Even Leg Warmers)

The 1990s changed everything. The Internet and cable TV splintered the culture into a thousand little pieces, meaning we no longer had as many shared interests as before. More channels. More fashion options. More ways to niche up and avoid the mainstream.

The ’80s had a distinct look, sound and feel. You can watch a movie shot in the 1980s and know it’s the Reagan era in seconds. Just those synth-heavy soundtracks alone tip the viewer off.

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- Christian Toto
Russell Brand’s Career Is Officially Over (…but)

Woody Allen has a better chance of being welcomed back by Hollywood, Inc., than Russell Brand.

A media expose alleging the British comedian sexually assaulted four women, including a then-16-year-old, effectively ended his show business career. He lost his management and a book deal in the days following the investigation’s release. His current comedy tour also got canceled.

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The entertainment industry assumes a “guilty until proven innocent” pose with many stars, assuming they don’t declare themselves nonbinary or spend years mocking President Donald Trump.

Brand, who denies any wrongdoing, already alienated much of the industry by defying its mandatory narratives.

Mask up! Biden is “fine” Pandemic lockdowns were necessary The media should be trusted

Brand’s powerful YouTube and Rumble channels shredded those beliefs, earning him a rabid, and often bipartisan fan base. He may not snag leading man roles anymore, but in a way, Brand’s second coming gave him more cultural power than before.

He savaged the elites, defied media headlines and embraced his growing status as a cultural soothsayer. In turn, fans swore their fealty to him and his rambunctious Id.

Until now.


News outlets are digging through their files to find other stories suggesting Brand was a sexual predator. served up one such detail, looking at the comedian’s short run on Comedy Central’s “Roast Battle.”

Brand was booked as a judge on Comedy Central’s Roast Battle in 2018, but only lasted a single season on the series after he himself was roasted on-camera over allegations he had sexually assaulted women. He strongly denies criminal wrongdoing.

People magazine suggests more alleged victims are coming forward.

On Monday, the U.K. newspaper The Times reported that “several women” had contacted the publication since it published allegations of rape, sexual assault and abuse by multiple women on Saturday in a joint investigation run with The Sunday Times and the Channel 4 current affairs show Dispatches.

There’s a wrinkle to this ugly story, one that wouldn’t be in play as recently as five years ago.

Brand’s fans aren’t buying it.

It’s not just a disconnect between his cheeky persona and the vile allegations. Many people no longer trust the mainstream media thanks to years of corrupt coverage, extreme partisanship and bias by omission.

This is how the establishment media is covering Russell Brand. It only allows for a single, driven narrative without even so much as a voice of dissension. He’s declared guilty, without a trial.

Tell me there isn’t a media conspiracy to take him down.

— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) September 17, 2023

The list of examples is too numerous to mention, but Brand’s fans fear the comedian’s willingness to speak truth to power made him a target that had to be taken down.

Except that may not be possible.


If the police enter the picture and charge him with a crime or crimes, he could be in significant trouble. Otherwise, he’ll keep producing his comedic monologues, decrying corporate powers attacking free speech and providing a voice for the voiceless.

He still may face forces eager to silence him. YouTube, no friend to free speech and eager to maintain corporate narratives, may take down his popular channel. If so, he’ll shift over to Rumble full time.

The more powerful platforms silence him, the bigger he may become.

Brand has emerged as a Trumpian figure, someone whose bond with his base is so powerful it can deflect almost any allegation.

Innocent? Guilty? It may not matter moving forward. His sizable flock believes him over the press, and that may save his creative future.

UPDATE: YouTube has demonetized Brand’s channel, stripping him of a sizable revenue stream. BBC also pulled his content.

The post Russell Brand’s Career Is Officially Over (…but) appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto

Country crooner Maren Morris knows how to play the media like a fiddle.

The singer scans the cultural landscape and tells reporters exactly what they want to hear.

Jason Aldean is a racist Country Music, Inc. is racist Country Music hates gay people, too

Morris’ woke bona fides are beyond reproach, even if a cursory look at her past reveals some glaring contradictions.

This week, Morris may have outdone herself.

The singer opened up to the far-Left LA Times about her frustration with country music and why leaving the music genre.

“I thought I’d like to burn it to the ground and start over,” she says of country music. “But it’s burning itself down without my help.”

How? Country music is dominating the music charts in recent months. Overnight sensation Oliver Anthony is a country singer to his core. Morgan Wallen is shattering sales records.

Where’s the fire?

If you truly love this type of music and you start to see problems arise, it needs to be criticized. Anything this popular should be scrutinized if we want to see progress.

She naturally blamed Donald Trump for her dissatisfaction with Country, Inc.

After the Trump years, people’s biases were on full display. It just revealed who people really were and that they were proud to be misogynistic and racist and homophobic and transphobic. All these things were being celebrated, and it was weirdly dovetailing with this hyper-masculine branch of country music. I call it butt rock.

This critic calls it stereotyping an entire swath of people without knowing them, their backgrounds or the facts. Does it matter that Trump increased the number of minority voters the GOP traditionally attracts in an election cycle?

Who’s the bigot here?

Next, she savages Aldean’s “Try That in a Small Town,” a battle cry against violent protesters who burned cities to the ground following George Floyd’s death in 2020.

People are streaming these songs out of spite. It’s not out of true joy or love of the music. It’s to own the libs. And that’s so not what music is intended for. Music is supposed to be the voice of the oppressed — the actual oppressed. And now it’s being used as this really toxic weapon in culture wars.

The hundreds of small business owners who watched their dreams go up in flames count as the “oppressed.” The media ignored them. So did many politicians.

Count Morris among those who didn’t rise up in their defense.

Aldean did.

The post Maren Morris’ Self-Own Says Everything appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
Hasan Minhaj’s ‘Victim’ Act

Henny Youngman didn’t want us to actually “take” his wife.

The legendary comic used the phrase to make us smile. He was married to Sadie Cohen for 58 years until her death in 1981.

Similarly, the late Norm Macdonald’s 2016 tome, “Based on a True Story: Not a Memoir,” famously fused real life with the comedian’s ripe imagination.

Long story short? Comics lie for a living, and we expect nothing less.

That hasn’t stopped a new wave of comedy where stand-ups use real headlines to support their comic narratives. “The Daily Show” famously did that for years, spawning an industry of “fake news” programs where hosts spin laughs from the latest headlines.

What Hasan Minhaj of Netflix’s “Patriot Act” fame got caught doing is different.

So Hasan Minhaj:

a. smeared an old friend as a racist
b. gave enough identifiable details that she got online hate
c. when told about, shrugged it off and kept doing the routine, and told her to scrub her social media

— Alex Griswold (@HashtagGriswold) September 15, 2023

New Yorker Magazine dug into some of the stories the far-Left comedian has been spinning for some time. Turns out many of the tales are tall, not truthful.

The headline calls them his “emotional truths,” and it’s hard not to recall Dan Rather’s “fake, but accurate” defense when his hit piece against President George W. Bush imploded weeks before a presidential election.

The magazine went through many of Minhaj’s heartfelt stories, told on stand-up stages, TV and interviews. They mostly dealt with discriminatory behavior leveled at either him or fellow minorities.

And they weren’t true.

One example?

Most disturbing, he tells the story of a letter sent to his home which was filled with white powder. The contents accidentally spilled onto his young daughter. The child was rushed to the hospital.

It never happened, and he told the story both on stage and in interviews.

Why would the comedian tell so many fake stories? Consider how many race hoaxes we’ve seen in recent years.

The goal is the same. To make America appear more racist than it actually is and support efforts to right fictional wrongs. It’s also a living, and apparently a very good one for Minhaj.

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It’s also steeped in his progressive politics.

Another tall tale exposed by the investigation humiliated Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law. That, too, never happened.

For now, Minhaj is standing by his “truths.”

“Every story in my style is built around a seed of truth,” he said. “My comedy Arnold Palmer is seventy per cent emotional truth—this happened—and then thirty per cent hyperbole, exaggeration, fiction.”

That may change as more media pressure is applied to him and fellow comics weigh in on the story.

Perhaps the most surprising part of the story is that it came out at all. Today’s journalists routinely protect liberal celebrities, when possible. They’d rather ignore their mistruths than cover them, especially if they align with progressive narratives relating to Identity Politics or Climate Change.

The latter is why the press doesn’t dress down eco-activist Leonardo DiCaprio for his raging hypocrisy.

Not only did New Yorker thoroughly vet Minhaj’s jokes, other media outlets quickly picked up on the story. That suggests the comedian has made a few enemies over the years and reporters pounced on the investigation to settle some scores.

Just a theory, of course. It’s still odd how swiftly the article went viral.

Previously, several members of the “Patriot Act” crew alleged a hostile work environment thrived on the short-lived talk show.

The comic says his “Patriot Act” showcase ensured that facts came first, always. Except that appears to be misleading, too. Again, New Yorker magazine:

According to former “Patriot Act” employees, members of the research department felt that Minhaj could be dismissive of the fact-checking process. “[Minhaj] just assembled people around him to make him appear different and much smarter and more thoughtful,” a female researcher said. “But those people—the smart people and hardworking people—were treated poorly for bringing the perspective that he is celebrated for.”

None of this should be surprising.

The mainstream media today isn’t just biased. It’s corrupt. Reporters routinely fete late-night satirists like Stephen Colbert, ignoring if and when their jokes spread misinformation.

Remember three-plus years of Russian collusion gags?

Minhaj may have been caught blurring the lines between comedy and the truth too much for comfort. It’s likely his peers will be able to say whatever they want without future fact checks.

why do people lie about discrimination and racial violence in this country? this guy makes a lot of money off it. What do you guys think?

— Joe Gabriel Simonson (@SaysSimonson) September 15, 2023

The post Hasan Minhaj’s ‘Victim’ Act appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
Conan O’Brien Shares Pathetic Excuse for Awful Trump Jokes

Late-night’s Conan O’Brien didn’t turn his TBS show into yet another Trump-bashing showcase.

O’Brien leaned on his tried and true shtick instead, a blend of surreal and silly punchlines that didn’t require a poly-sci degree to enjoy.

Yes, he leaned to the Left before, during and after Donald Trump left the White House. And boy did it show a time or two. Even the late-night Jimmys didn’t pull off a bit as grotesque as this:

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Now, O’Brien is trying to put the era of Trump-obsessed comedy in perspective, via Kara Swisher’s New York Magazine podcast.

It wasn’t the veteran comic’s finest hour.

O’Brien, who left his TBS show in 2021, says late-night hosts aren’t to blame for the endless parade of limp Trump gags.

It’s the real estate mogul’s fault.

“… I think he’s hurt political comedy by being so outlandish himself. I think the January 6 thing is a blip compared to how much he’s hurt comedy.”

Jokes aside, O’Brien noted that “when Trump came along, what a lot of people have to revert to is: ‘Doesn’t he suck? I hate that guy. He’s an a**hole.’ And those aren’t jokes.”

He’s right on one count.


So many “jokes” attacking Trump over the past six years weren’t funny. They were mean-spirited barbs infected by liberal talking points. Comics ignored Trump’s curious appeal, the political rallies that doubled as stand-up events and his effective first (and only?) term in office.

All O’Brien and friends saw was the cartoon version of Trump, one cemented by the partisan press.

Call it Hitler 2.0.

“You can’t parody something that already has that crazy, irregular shape. It’s not possible.”

O’Brien is on stronger ground here. The Babylon Bee suffers from a similar issue. How do you mock the modern Left when every third news headline already sounds like a Bee parody?

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The secret?

Dig deeper. Learn more about Trump and his singular brand. Listen to both his critics and supporters. Chances are, the jokes will be much funnier than what late-night hacks delivered  over and again.

None of this is to say Trump isn’t a juicy target for comedians. He might be the juiciest in recent memory.

A sly satirist could wring endless laughs from his gargantuan ego, his physical mannerisms and slippery public profile.

Or, they could just watch Tyler Fischer.

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The comedian’s Trump impression is … incredible. It’s not cruel or mean-spirited. Fischer nails the mannerisms and vocal rhythms, using both to create a fresh take on the 45th president.

Fellow comedian Shane Gillis also serves up a solid Trump impression, bringing a creative spin to the larger-than-life figure. [Note: Very adult language in this clip]

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Gillis doesn’t downplay Trump’s cruel streak or megalomania. Neither comic is fawning over Trump or ladling out red meat to MAGA nation. They’re finding interesting ways to filter his persona to comedic effect.

It’s the opposite of what Alec Baldwin brought to “Saturday Night Live.” Even liberal scribes grew frustrated by the actor’s one-note Trump impression.

You’d think a bombastic reality-show-host president who never stops creating controversy would be a bottomless gold mine for Saturday Night Live — so why do SNL‘s Donald Trump sketches feel so tired and toothless?

O’Brien’s longevity in the late-night trenches speaks to his enduring wit. His inability to bring something fresh to Trump gags, and willingness to defend his peers for doing the same, is beneath him.

The post Conan O’Brien Shares Pathetic Excuse for Awful Trump Jokes appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
‘Created Equal’ Director: Why Conservatives Lose the Culture Wars

Conservative filmmaker Michael Pack was fighting the culture wars long before we started using the phrase.

Pack, the director of “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words,” has a long and illustrious resume dating back to the 1980s. 

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He’s done it all, from working with Hollywood heavyweights like Eli Wallach, Joan Allen and Tim Blake Nelson to serving his country as the Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Agency for Global Media.

Few people are better equipped to explore and explain why conservatives lag on the pop culture front. His exhaustive op-ed at Real Clear Politics is a must-read for anyone hoping to bring right-leaning stories to the masses.

Except the piece brims with harsh realities that explain the cultural landscape.

How did the left achieve cultural dominance? Not by accident or luck, but by hard work, a clear focus, and talent.

Pack shares how the Left nurtures budding talent, provides artists with all the resources necessary to expand their craft and showers them with promotional resources to spread the news about their projects.

One quick example?

If Michael Moore has a new film coming to theaters he can count on endless media coverage to alert the public.

Progressive art begins at the collegiate level, where tomorrow’s social justice directors are born.

Virtually every college and university in America has a film school, and there are about 4,000 colleges. Almost every film school professor is a self-described progressive. I have never met one who is conservative. Every year, these film schools graduate hundreds of thousands of progressive aspiring filmmakers (along with camera operators, editors, film composers, etc.). Only a small percentage have the talent, ambition, and drive to succeed, and they become the basis for the next generation of progressive creative talent. 

Conservatives have little, if any, assets to match that support network.

It gets worse.

Too many right-leaning projects get abandoned by their target audience.

Director Clint Eastwood’s 2019 film “Richard Jewell” skewered both media bias and FBI malfeasance, wrapped in a sturdy tale of a man punished by an unjust system.

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The movie opened to a pathetic $4.7 million and ended its run earning just $22 million. Conservatives either weren’t aware of the film’s right-leaning messages or opted not to support art that spoke to their values.

That same year, Adam Carolla and Dennis Prager teamed up for “No Safe Spaces,” an engaging documentary about the fall of free speech at universities nationwide. The film earned $1.2 million at U.S. theaters, a respectable sum for a modestly budgeted documentary.

The film’s prescient take on the coming woke wave, combined with superlative storytelling, should have yielded ten times that amount. If not more.

Other right-leaning projects that failed to ignite include “My Son Hunter,” “The Essential Church” and “When the Mob Came.”

Recent years have offered some hope in this arena.

Right-leaning success stories like Jason Aldean’s “Try That in a Small Town,” Oliver Anthony’s “Rich Men North of Richmond” and Angel Studios’ “Sound of Freedom” suggest a growing appetite for unorthodox art.

The Daily Wire, Blaze TV and Pack’s own Palladium Pictures vow to bring fresh perspectives to the culture.

And, sadly, Hollywood’s woke obsession continues to degrade movies and TV shows to the point where consumers are clamoring for something different.

Pack offers a ray of hope in an often, and understandably, gloomy op-ed.

Today, there are many more ways for a non-woke film to reach an audience. You can stream it from your own YouTube site. You can make a deal with one of the several new conservative streaming sites. It’s also possible that you can persuade one of the major streaming services to pick it up. After all, we have been successful for decades in getting our films nationally broadcast in primetime on PBS, hardly a right-wing outlet.

It’s still the ultimate David vs. Goliath story, and conservatives’ slingshot looks more like a pea shooter.

The post ‘Created Equal’ Director: Why Conservatives Lose the Culture Wars appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
Drea de Matteo Unloads on Fauci: ‘The Real F***ing Mafioso’

Actress Drea de Matteo says she initially considered Only Fans to share opinions, not share sexy pictures of herself.


She says her views would be instantly censored on most media platforms. She went on to show why during a raucous interview with podcaster Adam Carolla.

The “Sopranos” alum opened up about her curious career pivot, why the last three years have been so challenging for her and much more.

Long story short. COVID-19 red-pilled the self-described liberal. Big time.

She forged a quick kinship with Carolla, who also once leaned Left but now sides with conservatives on many key issues.

Free speech Limited government Trust the science (not the politicized version)

De Matteo generated plenty of headlines last month when we learned she had joined Only Fans. Why would an established star with dozens of credits spend time on a sexually suggestive site?

She told Fox News her agent dropped her for having unorthodox views on COVID-19.

The 51-year-old said much more to Carolla, a comedian who called out COVID-19 misinformation early and often and has been repeatedly proved correct.

The actress said watching her country, and especially her fellow Hollywood liberals, give up their freedoms during the pandemic alarmed her.

She saved special ire for Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s pandemic front man and someone who pretends he didn’t demand the country lock down during the outbreak.

But he did.

Fauci Denied Supporting Lockdowns, So Here Is 90 Seconds of Fauci Supporting Lockdowns

— TedLak (@lak_ted) March 15, 2023

“They wanna f***ing do it all over again,” de Matteo said about virus protocols, including mask dictates that ignore the growing body of evidence that masks do little, if anything, to help prevent exposure.

We’re learning they may have done more harm than good.

A new study suggests that the excess carbon dioxide breathed in by mask-wearers can have major health consequences. The Harm Caused by Masks | City Journal

— Jimmy Dore (@jimmy_dore) September 14, 2023

She hissed at Dr. Fauci without uttering his name.

“Public enemy number one, that other Italian. The real f***ing Mafioso …the little tiny Italian…. If there’s ever been a f***ing thug,” she said of Fauci, her voice trailing off in anger.

De Matteo says she doesn’t label her political views, but it’s clear she’s a left-leaning soul given her stance on abortion, drugs and more. She still recoils at how her fellow liberals, particularly her Hollywood peers, reacted to the recent pandemic.

Fear. Paranoia. Close-minded hate. Sheep-like behavior.


The actress further alienated her show biz peers by sharing her fondness for Tucker Carlson and disdain for mainstream media outlets. She even said the true renegades today hail from the Right, not the Left.

“You have to be a conservative in order to be someone who fights for freedom, to emulate the old hippie movement,” she said. 

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The actress also skewered Neil Young, the aging rocker who betrayed his free speech bona fides by attacking podcaster Joe Rogan.

Young alleged Rogan was sharing “misinformation” about COVID-19, ignoring two hard truths. Much of what Rogan said wasn’t conclusively wrong, and many mainstream media outlets twisted the truth about the deadly pandemic.

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta said Rogan took “horse medicine” to battle his COVID-19 infection, ignoring how Ivermectin earned a Nobel Prize for its effective treatment of countless humans.

“I cannot tell you how f***ing fast I stopped listening to Neil Young … at that time [Rogan] was gathering more information,” she said of efforts led by Young to deplatform the comedian.

“Who the f*** do you think you are, old man? Old man, take a look at your mother f***ing life now,” she added, quoting one of his classic hits.

“And he’s Canadian, and these truckers have a convoy lined up and you’re not fighting for the average man right now?” she added, alluding to a push to protest draconian government measures to fight the virus.

The post Drea de Matteo Unloads on Fauci: ‘The Real F***ing Mafioso’ appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
Man Crashes Chrissie Mayr Performance, Punches Audience Member

Chrissie Mayr is both brutally funny and self-aware.

The New York-based comic knows her rebellious routines cast her outside Hollywood, Inc. She’s anti-vax mandates and pro-free speech, and she playfully dubbed her recent comedy album, “LIVE from January 6th.”

That means her career will never be as big as a Chappelle, Gaffigan or Colbert. And she’s made her peace with that.

What she’s struggling to wrap her mind around is the sudden need to protect herself on the job.

In May, a group of women heckled Mayr mid-gig for telling a trans joke. Except the women did more than bark their complaints. They kept the incendiary comments going and, later, trashed her merchandise display after the show. 

Guests leave show after comedian Chrissie Mayr jokes about trans ideology #FoxNews

— BigBayas (@LiberalLies7) May 14, 2023

What happened last Friday was much worse.

Mayr was performing outdoors at the Pineapple Hill Saloon & Grill in Sherman Oaks, Calif. when a black man approached the property’s wooden fence. The intruder began interrupting the show five minutes into the set, according to Mayr. 

The comic, who was able to record much of the fracas, tried to turn the awkward moment into just another crowd work segment.

“I’m making jokes from the stage … maybe he’s a fellow insurrectionist?” she cracked, playing on her MAGA-friendly brand. “There was nothing I could say from the stage to calm him down.”

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Meanwhile, the man wanted to enter the club and recite his poetry, as if it were an open mic night. A few patrons tried to calm the intruder down with little success. 

Another patron approached the now shirtless man in hopes of settling him down. The intruder threw a quick, vicious punch at the patron’s head and he collapsed.

“He loses consciousness in the air. He didn’t break his fall. He folded up like a beach chair and fell onto the concrete. It was horrible to watch,” she said, adding no one from the club stepped up to protect her or escort the man from the property.

“What’s to stop the guy from coming at me?” she asked, looking back at the incident.


The man fled when police approached the club, and Mayr said he was later arrested.

“It’s L.A. He’ll be back for the Saturday night show,” Mayr quipped.

Looking back, Mayr said the incident gave her pause about future club appearances.

“I’ve had hecklers, but I’ve never had someone charge the stage … this kind of behavior is either more common or permissible. Maybe it’s a sign to me to hire my own private security,” she said. “You worry a little bit more as a woman. I’m not big or strong enough to fight anyone off.”

The fracas isn’t an isolated incident.

Comedian Dave Chappelle was attacked on stage last year by a man who had a knife on him. Will Smith famously slapped Oscar presenter Chris Rock after hearing a joke about his wife he didn’t appreciate.

Leslie Jones Says Will Smith Oscars Slap 'Really Affected' Chris Rock: It Was 'Humiliating' (Exclusive)

— People (@people) September 14, 2023

Chappelle’s fans were physically attacked by trans activists last year at Minneapolis’s Varsity Theater after another club bowed to the woke mob and canceled the comedian’s show.

Comedians Josh Denny and Anthony Cumia keep their stand-up appearances a secret until closer to show time to keep Antifa from shutting the gigs down.

The New York Post reported last year that comedy clubs are increasingly worried about angry fans rushing the stage.

Curtis Shaw Flagg, 37, president of The Laugh Factory in Chicago, told The Post he’s seen an alarming uptick in incidents over the past year, as people feel increasingly emboldened to lash out if a comic displeases them.

“Not long ago, we had a patron stand up in the middle of a performance and say, ‘I will be outside waiting for you, I’m going to kill you,’” Flagg said. “After the show, we did a sweep of the outside and there was no sign of the guy, and the comic left unharmed. But nobody felt safer.”

Mayr’s May incident directly tied into her irreverent nature. The more recent fracas had more to do with mental illness or substance abuse than political differences, but it still left her wondering about future performances.

“Most comedy clubs do have security and bouncers, especially the chain clubs,” she said. “I’m not a mainstream comic due to my politics. Maybe I do make myself a little more vulnerable.”

Happy Birthday to the iconic @MsBlaireWhite!!!

— Chrissie Mayr🇺🇸 (@ChrissieMayr) September 14, 2023

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- HiT Guest Contributor
‘Camp Hideout’ Packs Much More than Family-Friendly Laughs

Responding to desperation is part of America’s character.

Desperate circumstances lent many the gumption to cross oceans. Centuries forward, these United States of the proactively desperate have made “The Forgotten Man” an icon in art and song, published research papers about deaths of despair and loneliness and created stardom out of young working men dragging back home.

Today, the frontier is now found in subtler places.

The character of Noah in the all-ages movie “Camp Hideout” embodies how a sense of belonging can transform youthful despair born of isolation. The filmmakers turn their lens to this theme with a knack for redemptive healing while still packing the laughter.

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Jason Brown, co-founder of the new Called Higher Studios, said his “production community” lets “brothers and sisters support production with investments of $100 to $5,000.”

In this way, the studio’s business structure plants the Christian idea of belonging at the seed level of the venture.

“Camp Hideout,” the studio’s current big screen offering, exemplifies this approach. The comedy looks at the human capacity to respond when “belonging and friendship,” in the view of Brown, seem increasingly out of reach to adolescents and children.

“Camp Hideout” is directed by four-time Emmy winner Sean Olson. The film stars Christopher Lloyd (“Back to the Future”), with his timeless charisma, as Falco, the owner of a camp.

The family flick also features Corbin Bleu (“It’s On,” “High School Musical”) playing summer camp counselor Jake and Amanda Leighton (“This is Us”) as Selena, a social worker affiliated with church groups.

Noah, after falling in with a criminal element that wants to exploit him, finds his way to the titular camp.

“Up to this point,” Brown says, “Noah is just trying to survive. He is the quintessential negative kid, who kills the fun in everything. Yet there is a place for his boundary-setting. It’s to protect something precious–his innocence, his dealing with his recently lost brother.”

Loss of family is epidemic in the stories of youth delinquency and violence.

Friendship and belonging are therapeutic to boys and girls, and that’s where camps can come in. If, in early September, one were to ask a child who recently had a summer camp experience whether school or camp had more important in his or her life, either answer could easily be the reply.

That’s despite camp lasting far less than your average school year.

A study by Penn State University concludes that young people may gain “impressive…and significant impacts” from being with peers outdoors. Indeed 59 percent of adults today think young people need summer camp. However, only half that percentage of young people actually go.

That 30 percent possess camp memories and 70 percent do not is more compelling societally than may first meet the eye. If the “haves” were getting a resource known to provide “impressive” and “significant” gains that were missed by the “have nots,” and the setting was school rather than camp, then reporters and activists alike would address the matter.

However, camp provides those positive impacts in ways government bureaucracy never could. 

Imagine (no, don’t) the malthusian dystopia of being assigned a camp by zone. The benefits from summers of nature and freedom would be subsumed. Choice is essential to camp’s successes.

Camp benefits are achieved not in any way you can protest a government to do for you, but by families freely choosing and doing with money, and a healthy, faith-based intent.

Perhaps this is why, despite young people’s need for camp’s values and benefits, the press tends to stay away. You’d probably have to open an industry journal to learn news about the camp world, while school issues earn sizable coverage.

Camps were badly slowed by social distancing ordinances.

The camp industry has attempted to bounce back in enrollment despite inflation and lingering or unclear “mandate” policies. The results of camp’s post-covid comeback have been as mixed as the recovery of children’s social intelligence markers.

Noting camp as a potential scene for telling meaningful stories, Called Higher Studios created a revolutionary model for film production. Its principle members, like Brown, commit to putting themselves at the service of God, yielding a film grounded in Christian values about a transformative journey at summer camp.

The film features cabin competitions; a grizzled, patriotic veteran running a camp on his land, kids of different abilities’ and backgrounds persevering through their misunderstandings and adults opening doors for the next generation.

Everyone around Noah has walls up, too, but he eventually meets people who do more than preach the gospel. They live it through their action and become the family Noah has always longed for.

Is that storyline not a salve on our present-day culture?

It’s up to us to act in the holy spirit to keep alive young people’s chance to enjoy camp and lead lives of freedom, maturation and camaraderie. The alternative is more family breakdown, unfettered crime and fleeting educational trends of the absurd.

Learn more about ‘Camp Hideout,’ in theaters September 15, at

Michael Bedar’s articles appear in Free the People, The Federalist, American Spectator, and American Thinker. He’s written a novel and produced documentaries about freedom, nature and wellbeing. He is the designer of the online course, Free Creation, for documentarians and digital course makers to learn how to maximize their reach and impact through distribution.

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- Caillou Pettis
Sex Education Season Four Review: Limping to a Weak Finish
Sex Education Season 4 (2023).

Sex Education is a show that once held promise and garnered a dedicated fan base. Now the recently released fourth and final season is leaving me with mixed emotions. While it had the potential to conclude the series on a high note, the final season, unfortunately, fell short of expectations. ... [Read More]

The post Sex Education Season Four Review: Limping to a Weak Finish appeared first on The Movie Blog.

- Eman Dar
Top 12 Movies And Series To Watch This Fall
Wednesday season 1 questions Eugene.

Crisp autumn air has taken over, the roads are covered with golden leaves, and you’re snuggling in the blankets in your favorite cardigan. Now all that is missing is a heavy mug of hot cocoa and a good movie that is enough to sweep away all your stress.  After the ... [Read More]

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- Caillou Pettis
Reptile Review: A Twisted Tale of Deception and Discovery

.sadopjpasdmksladnklsandlksadsaipdjhpsiajdpksampdjsajdpoajsdjjjjReptile, directed by Grant Singer in his feature-film directorial debut. The movie offers an intriguing premise with an extremely talented cast, including Benicio del Toro, Justin Timberlake, Alicia Silverstone, Eric Bogosian, and Ato Essandoh. With a screenplay co-written by Singer, Benjamin Brewer, and Benicio del Toro, and a story co-crafted ... [Read More]

The post Reptile Review: A Twisted Tale of Deception and Discovery appeared first on The Movie Blog.

- John Smistad
“Death Wish” (1974) & “Death Wish II” (1982)……at long last!

“Death Wish” tells the story of New York City architect Paul Kersey, who becomes a one-man vigilante squad after his wife is senselessly slain by street thugs. In self-defense, the vengeful man commences killing muggers on the mean streets after dark. In the “Death Wish II” sequel film, Kersey once ... [Read More]

The post “Death Wish” (1974) & “Death Wish II” (1982)……at long last! appeared first on The Movie Blog.

- Shah
If Thrawn Is Heir To The Empire, Then Ahsoka Is The True Heir To The Skywalker Saga

Ahsoka on Disney+ is not only a continuation of Star Wars: Rebels, but in many ways, a continuation of the legacy of the original and prequel trilogies. Creator Dave Filoni has given the character of Ahsoka a lot to do. And now, in a new era of Star Wars, he ... [Read More]

The post If Thrawn Is Heir To The Empire, Then Ahsoka Is The True Heir To The Skywalker Saga appeared first on The Movie Blog.

- Shah
5 Bollywood Actors Who Also Appeared In Hollywood TV Shows

Recently, a new report from Deadline confirmed the casting of up-and-coming Bollywood actor Adarsh Gourav in the new Alien prequel series. The Guns And Gulaabs actor who was also the lead in Priyanka Chopra’s international Netflix film, The White Tiger, has appeared before in Hollywood in the Apple TV Plus ... [Read More]

The post 5 Bollywood Actors Who Also Appeared In Hollywood TV Shows appeared first on The Movie Blog.

- Elliot Hopper
How to Enjoy Online Gambling Responsibly

There are many warnings for those who enjoy online gambling regarding how to gamble responsibly. Many people have heard horror stories about those who gamble online and have lost all of their wages before payday even ends.  While these cases are not the norm, and there is help available for ... [Read More]

The post How to Enjoy Online Gambling Responsibly appeared first on The Movie Blog.

- Shah
Why Didn’t Ahsoka Train Jacen Syndulla As A Jedi Instead Of Sabine?

Ahsoka is playing out on Disney+ like a direct sequel to the animated Star Wars: Rebels series. Plot points from that 4 season show are continuing on in Ahsoka, week after week. The most recent episode showcased the return of a major Star Wars character, making Ahsoka Episode 5 one ... [Read More]

The post Why Didn’t Ahsoka Train Jacen Syndulla As A Jedi Instead Of Sabine? appeared first on The Movie Blog.

- Milo Thatch
The Continental Season 1 Episode 1 Reaction
The Continental: From the World of John Wick - Season 2023

The Continental offers an extended purview into the world of John Wick (2014). Scheduled to premiere on September 22, 2023, on Peacock in the United States and on Prime Video internationally. The underbelly of the world of assassins and those that reign at the table of its conquest and those ... [Read More]

The post The Continental Season 1 Episode 1 Reaction appeared first on The Movie Blog.

- Elliot Hopper
Diego Ávalos, Netflix Spain’s Content Boss, on the Boom of the Spanish Entertainment Industry
Diego Avalos Netflix Spain

In 2018, Netflix bet big on Spain when it began construction of its first European film and TV studio outside Madrid. What followed was a boom in the popularity of Spanish-language content worldwide, bolstered by successful series like Money Heist (Casa de Papel).  Behind the inspiring Spanish content creators and ... [Read More]

The post Diego Ávalos, Netflix Spain’s Content Boss, on the Boom of the Spanish Entertainment Industry appeared first on The Movie Blog.

- Elliot Hopper
References in Barbie you may have missed
Barbie The Movie The Movie Blog

Summer 2023 was a battle between two hotly anticipated films: Barbie and Oppenheimer. Barbie came out on top with UK box office figures standing at £86 million. This makes it the biggest film of 2023 so far.  As people flocked to the cinemas, Barbie culture took over with people wearing ... [Read More]

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- Muhammad Ahmad
Rick Riordan in Support of Diverse Casting for Percy Jackson

Rick Riordan, the author of Percy Jackson, is offering his opinion on the casting in the upcoming show. We’re learning that Rick has offered his full support for the casting of a Black actress in the role of Annabeth Chase. The character is originally depicted as a white, blonde girl ... [Read More]

The post Rick Riordan in Support of Diverse Casting for Percy Jackson appeared first on The Movie Blog.

- minshewnetworks
How To Get More Out Of Your Sports Gaming Experience

Gaming is a great pastime that many take up when it comes to their day-to-day lives. Whether they’ve enjoyed it since a child or they’ve perhaps picked it up in their adulthood, the landscape of gaming online has changed greatly in recent years.


There are so many different games available, making it hard nowadays to pick between what games you spend your hours on. The world of sports gaming for example is vast whether that’s NBA or Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.


Whatever your preference is when it comes to sports gaming online, here are a few ways you can make the most out of your sports gaming experience this year.

Understand how to personalize your settings

Within sports games and a lot of games in general, you’re able to persoanlize your settings to adapt to your style of gameplay. Whether you want to make NBA 2K24 more realistic or it’s moreso about the picture quality that needs adjusting, it’s worth understanding how it all works.


That’s why it’s worth doing a bit of research online to get some guidance on how your personal settings work from one game to another. After all, every game is different, regardless of whether it’s the same title but a new one, or it’s made by the same game developer.

It’s always worth sitting down with the game’s manual or an online expert’s guide to get to grips with how the game works. That’s easier said than done when you just want to get straight into playing the game!

Invest in the best sound system for an audible experience

A great way to boost your sporting gaming, especially with sports in general is to invest in a great sound system. There are a lot of great sporting sounds used within these types of games that can often make you feel as if you’re at the sporting event yourself!


From headphones for a really immersive experience to getting a soundbar or speaker system. There are lots of sound accessories that you could add to your gaming experience to make it that much more exciting.


Of course, not everyone might be able to afford the full sound system which costs thousands but even just a sound bar or a good headphone set might be enough.

Buy a gaming chair for hours of comfort

Another investment worth buying when it comes to your sports gaming or any gameplay, in general, is a gaming chair. Gaming chairs are specifically designed for those who want to play for long hours. 


When you’re sitting down for hours on end, the last thing you want is to be sat in a chair that’s impacting your posture negatively. Gaming chairs are a great way to enjoy your gaming without it needing to impact your health!


There are lots of gaming chairs out there on the market, whether you’re looking to spend a small fortune or not. You can check out all of the best gaming chairs for this year online.

Take it to a professional level

If you’re looking to maximize your gaming potential this year, you could always consider becoming a pro. For generations nowadays, eSports exist which is essentially Olympic-level sports for gaming online.


Not that you need to reach that level of professionalism but you could always give your sports gaming hobby a go in the professional world. There are actually many people nowadays who make a lot of money from gaming for a living. From streaming their gameplay on Twitch, to existing as a gamer on social media.


There’s a lot of potential out there for anyone who wants to make a living from playing their favorite sports game!

Stay fueled up on snacks and drinks

Finally, when it comes to getting the most out of your sports game experience, stay fueled up on snacks and drinks. This is essential because gaming can become thirsty and hungry work. A lot of gamers will have mini fridges in their room where they can stock up on all of the fizzy energy drinks and snacks.


There’s nothing better than having hours of spare time to play your favorite games, with a drink in hand and a packet of your go-to snacks in your lap.


Getting the most out of your sports gaming experience i essential so with that being said, be sure to enjoy it all by implementing these tips into your own gameplay. Who knows where the sporting world of gaming will take future generations in years to come?

The post How To Get More Out Of Your Sports Gaming Experience first appeared on Skewed 'n Reviewed.

- gareth

Here is the full Magic Happens parade at Disneyland.

The post Full Disneyland Magic Happens Parade first appeared on Skewed 'n Reviewed.

- minshewnetworks
What’s Hot in Digital Gaming?


Digital gaming has gone from strength to strength over the past decade to the point where the old-school method of purchasing and loading a physical video game disk is practically obsolete. In this hyper-connected world, gamers want instant access to the latest and greatest gaming experiences, and where better to find them than in the digital realm?

Whether it’s cloud gaming, mobile gaming, playing immersive casino games, or diving into the Metaverse, digital gaming trends have radically reshaped everything about this Big Tech industry. And, while gaming sectors are no stranger to innovation, there are some developments that are staying on top of more than others. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at what’s hot in digital gaming here in autumn/winter 2023 — particularly those key trends with staying power. 

The Next Next-Gen Consoles 

Although they were released almost three years ago now, it seems like we’ve only just gotten to grips with the power of the 21st century’s next-gen consoles: Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series. Nothing stays new for long in gaming, however, and word is already out about the next line of next-gen consoles that Microsoft is cooking up. 

Codenamed Brooklin, the 2024 refresh of the Series X sees Microsoft completely dispense with a disk drive. Instead, the console features a sleek, cylindrical desk with a USB-C front port, as well as a brand new “immersive controller”. According to The Verge, which first broke the news of the tech giant’s radical new direction for its flagship console, the new Series X also possesses 2TB of storage, making it ideal for digital gaming. 

That’s not all, however. Within the next five years, we might just see the company release a “hybrid” console that is fully equipped with the Xbox Cloud Gaming platform. According to yet more leaked documents discovered by The Verge, the company has a vision to develop “a next-generation hybrid game platform” that would leverage the “combined power” of bleeding edge hardware with the cloud to “deliver entire new classes of game experiences”. 

Levelling up iGaming

iGaming is a formidable gaming sector in its own right, currently valued at over $90 billion. The expansion into US markets that occurred during the end of the last decade has seen it become more mainstream than ever, and now, it’s the turn of decentralized technologies to take it to the next level. 

Incumbent iGaming operators like PokerStars Casino have already done a lot to democratize online casino and real-money gaming. Alongside providing an array of real-money blackjack variants on its platform, it also educates users on the specific tactics needed for success at the virtual tables. This has helped to make the game as a whole much more approachable for a wider demographic of players.

While gamers will continue to enjoy wagering experiences of this ilk, a new path is opening up that sees the fusion of crypto casino gaming with live streaming. Decentralized currencies and blockchain technology are making their mark on several gaming markets, and iGaming is no exception.  

The Metaverse

What kind of article about the hottest trends in digital gaming would this be without covering the metaverse? Much more than just a buzzword or a marketing ploy by a certain social media giant, the metaverse is becoming increasingly important as a gaming reality with each passing month. Players have already begun to explore the vast possibilities offered by interconnected digital realms, with blockchain games like WHAT and WHAT laying the foundations for what’s to come as the decade continues to play out. 

Extended Reality (XR) is the staple of the metaverse, and it imbues gaming experiences with even greater levels of immersion. By combining virtual reality, augmented reality, and haptic technologies, XR transports players directly into a video game’s virtual universe with hyper-real graphics and improved sensory feedback. 

Another important aspect of the metaverse for gaming is its ability to initiate and support player-driven economies. The traditional pay-to-play business model utilized by gaming brands across the world may never fully be replaced, but the play-to-earn basis of the GameFi sector nevertheless enables players to truly own their in-game assets. Combined with the virtual reality aspects of the Metaverse, we could see gamers being given opportunities to create and generate digital assets with real-world value, too. 

The post What’s Hot in Digital Gaming? first appeared on Skewed 'n Reviewed.

- gareth

There are some great looking items here.

Coming this Spring: AEW, Star Wars, Rebel Moon and More!

It’s almost October, which means it’s time for the October Previews catalog to unleash its pre-order goodness on an unsuspecting public! This month, there are a variety of items from Diamond Select Toys and Gentle Giant LTD, including more AEW Minimates, a new Indiana Jones statue, their first Rebel Moon action figures, a new Matrix diorama, new Pacific Rim action figures, and the usual goodies from Marvel and Star Wars! Read on for details, then pre-order through your local comic shop (find one at or order online at and!


AEW Minimates Deluxe Wrestling Ring Playset

A Diamond Select Toys release! Get ready to take your opponent apart in the ring! With Series 2 of All Elite Wrestling Minimates on its way, now is the time to give them a place to wrestle! This 6” by 6” wrestling ring playset includes chairs, bats, ladders and more, as well as an exclusive 2-inch Minimate of masked announcer Excalibur, featuring 14 points of articulation and fully interchangeable parts! It comes packaged in a full-color window box! Designed by Barry Bradfield! SRP: $24.99


Indiana Jones Temple of Doom Premier Collection 1/7 Scale Statue

A Gentle Giant LTD release! Will you dare enter the Temple of Doom? Indiana Jones is seriously considering it in this all-new statue inspired by the legendary sequel’s iconic movie poster! Measuring approximately 15 inches tall, this 1/7 scale statue depicts Indy in his torn shirt, holding a whip in front of a vine-draped pillar. Limited to only 1000 pieces, it comes packaged with a numbered certificate of authenticity in a full-color box. SRP: $300.00


Marvel Gallery Comic Chasm PVC Diorama

A Diamond Select Toys release! With a new Spider-Man villain comes a new Marvel Gallery Diorama! Former Spider-Man Ben Reilly has turned on the hero he was cloned from, and has gained new powers from a tragic lab accident. Now, he stalks the rooftops as Chasm, surrounded by shifting energy, in this 10-inch PVC sculpture! Featuring detailed sculpting and paint applications, as well as translucent energy effects that catch the light, this dynamic diorama comes packaged in a full-color window box. Designed by Nelson X. Asencio, sculpted by Alterton! SRP: $59.99


Marvel Animated X-Men Psylocke 1/7 Scale Mini-Bust

A Diamond Select Toys release! The X-Men’s resident ninja is coming to the animated universe! Joining the long-running line of mini-busts based on the classic 1990s X-Men: The Animated Series, this approximately 6-inch resin bust depicts Betsy Braddock with her signature psychic blade ignited, ready to face off with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Limited to only 3,000 pieces, and featuring cartoon accurate paint applications, it comes packaged with a numbered certificate of authenticity in a full-color window box. Designed by Barry Bradfield, sculpted by Michelle Varner! SRP: $90.00


Marvel Comic Black Panther 1/7 Scale Mini-Bust

A Diamond Select Toys release! DST’s comic-based line of Marvel mini-busts is traveling all the way to Wakanda for their next release! Depicting T’Challa in his gold-trimmed Black Panther gear, this regal mini-bust sits atop a gold ornamental base and measures approximately 5.5 inches tall. It is limited to only 3,000 pieces and comes packaged with a numbered certificate of authenticity in a full-color window box. Designed by Nelson X. Asencio, sculpted by Juan Pitluk! SRP: $90.00


Marvel Iron Man Iron Man MK1 1/6 Scale MIni-Bust

A Diamond Select Toys release! Witness the birth of Iron Man! The newest movie-based Marvel mini-bust is none other than the Invincible Iron Man himself, in his very first big-screen appearance! Wearing the handmade suit of armor he used to escape his captors, Tony Stark fires a burst of flame as he makes his getaway. Standing approximately 7 inches tall, this 1/6 scale mini-bust is limited to only 3,000 pieces and comes packaged with a numbered certificate of authenticity in a full-color window box. Designed by Nelson X. Asencio, sculpted by Juan Ramos! SRP: $130.00


Matrix Gallery Morpheus Deluxe PVC Diorama

A Diamond Select Toys release! There is no spoon! Morpheus rises to battle the Matrix in this second piece in the Matrix Gallery Diorama series! Depicting the resistance fighter leaping from the ground to deliver a deadly attack, this approximately 12-inch sculpture is made of high-quality PVC and features detailed sculpting and paint applications. It comes packaged in a full-color window box. Designed by Nelson X. Asencio, sculpted by Jorge Santos Souza! SRP: $80.00


Pacific Rim Uprising Special Ops Deluxe Action Figures Series 3 Asst

A Diamond Select Toys release! Un-cancel the apocalypse! The Jaegers and Kaiju of Pacific Rim: Uprising, are back, and they’ve got new color schemes and new specialties! Titan Redeemer (Desert Combat) and a Kaiju Drone (Breach Energy) each feature multiple points of articulation and stand approximately 7 inches tall. Each comes packaged in a full-color window box. Designed and sculpted by BigShot ToyWorks! SRP: $29.99/each


Rebel Moon Deluxe Action Figures Series 1 Asst

A Diamond Select Toys release! The sci-fi event of the year is almost here! Zack Snyder’s sure-to-be-epic Rebel Moon movie is getting ready to launch on Netflix, and DST is launching a new series of action figures to celebrate! The first series includes warrior Nemesis and robot Jimmy, and each 1/10 scale action figure features multiple points of articulation, as well as character-specific accessories. They come packed in full-color window boxes. Sculpted by Gentle Giant Studios! SRP: $24.99/each


Star Wars The Mandalorian Milestones 1/6 Scale Statue

A Gentle Giant LTD release! Din Djarin is back, and he’s the newest 1/6 scale Milestones statue from GG LTD! Standing approximately 13 inches tall atop a rocky base, this resin statue of the Mandalorian himself depicts him prepared for battle in his Beskar armor, with a blaster in one hand and the darksaber in the other! Limited to only 1,000 pieces, it comes packaged with a numbered certificate of authenticity in a full-color box. SRP: $250.00


Star Wars The Clone Wars Hondo Ohnaka Animated 1/7 Scale Mini-Bust

A Gentle Giant LTD release! The Outer Rim pirate Hondo Ohnaka makes his debut in the animated-style Clone Wars mini-bust line from GG LTD! Depicting the touch Weequay with a friendly grin, but hiding a blaster behind his back, this approximately 6-inch resin mini-bust is limited to only 3,000 pieces and comes packaged with a numbered certificate of authenticity in a full-color box. SRP: $90.00


Star Wars Return of the Jedi Darth Vader (Unhelmeted) 1/6 Scale Mini-Bust

A Gentle Giant LTD release! There is still good in him! From the closing scenes of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, this 1/6 scale mini-bust depicts Darth Vader with his helmet removed, revealing the scarred face of Anakin Skywalker! Measuring approximately 6 inches tall, this realistic mini-bust is limited to only 3,000 pieces and comes packaged with a numbered certificate of authenticity in a full-color box. SRP: $130.00

The post Gentle Giant And Diamond Select Reveal New Indiana Jones And More Items first appeared on Skewed 'n Reviewed.

- gareth

Here are my Maze Walkthrough videos from Knott’s Scary Farm 2023.

The three new mazes were amazing.

The post Knott’s Scary Farm 2023: Full Mazes Walkthrough Videos first appeared on Skewed 'n Reviewed.

- gareth

Barney (SylvesterStallone), Lee (Jason Statham), and The Expendables are back in “The Expend4bles”.

This time around the team welcomes new members such as Easy Day (50 Cent), and Gina ( Megan Fox), who has a complicated relationship with Lee.

When an operation forces Lee to make an impossible choice has him on the outs with the team; he must power through when the team goes on without him to stop a deadly device falling into the wrong hands which currently involve a deadly agent named Rahmat (Iko Uwais).

The plot may be fairly linear and lacking character development but if you are expecting this in an Expendables film you clearly have not been paying attention.

The action is intense and the team is enjoyable to watch as they dispatch legions of henchmen in brutal and creative ways.

Some of the CGI effects seemed a bit rough at times but the winning cast, action, and return to R-Rated mayem make this a welcome outing for fans of action movies.

3.5 stars out of 5.

The post The Expend4bles Gives Fans The R-Rated Action They Expect first appeared on Skewed 'n Reviewed.

- gareth

Lools good.

During this year’s Tokyo Game Show, Bethesda Softworks made announcements for popular titles The Elder Scrolls Online and Fallout 76. Check out the details surrounding each game’s announcement below.

The Elder Scrolls Online | ESO Arrives on Consoles in Japan, Fully Localized this Fall 

ZeniMax Online Studios is excited to share that The Elder Scrolls Online will launch in Japan on Xbox and PlayStation consoles, along with full localization in Japanese on November 15, 2023. During the segment, ESO Creative Director Rich Lambert also highlighted the new content recently released in the Necrom Chapter, which console players will be able to play locally this November.

For all the details surrounding ESO and the Necrom Chapter head to the ESO official website here.

Fallout 76 | Atlantic City Launch Date + PTS Reveal 

Jonathan Rush, Fallout 76’s Lead Art Director, revealed Fallout 76: Atlantic City will be a two-part content update, Boardwalk Paradise and America’s Playground, with Boardwalk Paradise, launching December 5 on all platforms. Atlantic City: Boardwalk Paradise will feature new locations never-before-seen in the world of Fallout, including a casino for players to test their luck, factions, creatures, an Expedition featuring two missions and rewards. Players who can’t wait to test their luck and are looking to help test the upcoming content will be able to jump into the Boardwalk Paradise PTS on October 3 via Steam.

For more information on all things Atlantic City be sure to check out the official Fallout 76 website here.

The post The Elder Scrolls Online and Fallout 76 Announce New Updates first appeared on Skewed 'n Reviewed.

- gareth

This sounds awesome.

Nathanson’s credits span the realms of video games, animated films and television, and even some live-action roles in her early days in the industry. Including the aforementioned League of Legends/“Briar” role, Nathanson’s video game credits are spotlighted by her recently-released NPC companion Marika Boros in Bethesda Game Studios’ Starfield, and long-running gig as “Samantha Maxis” in the Call of Duty franchise – most recently in Call of Duty: Cold War.

In the animation world, Nathanson is well-known for her performances as “Crimson Widow” in Marvel’s Avengers; “Gilda Dent” and “Silver Banshee” in the DC Universe Movies Batman: The Long Halloween and Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay, respectively, and “Rosalie Rowan” in The Zeta Project.





Latest Role Marks Nathanson’s 100th Video Game Credit


Popular Voice Actress Also Featured as Weaponry Expert NPC Marika Boros

in Bethesda Game Studios’ Newly-Released Starfield, and

Beloved by Fans as Long-Time Voice of Samantha Maxis in Call of Duty Franchise


Prolific voiceover actress Julie Nathanson continues to add new, prominent credits to her impressive resume, now joining Riot Games’ League of Legends as “Briar,” the latest champion … and an absolute living weapon. The actress and her character made their debut in League of Legends on September 13 – becoming Nathanson’s 100th video game credit.


The deadly, yet endearing Briar is a unique Noxian in that her initial frenzied, blood-thirsty tendencies went far beyond the killing machine she was created to be – but after years under lock and key, she’s found a way to control her hunger and think beyond the next fight… Now she’s free and excited to figure out who’s friend and who’s food.


“As a person who appreciates being a walking dichotomy, I love playing Briar and her full range of impulses, actions and emotions,” says Nathanson, who has now had credits on 100 video games. “Briar is fun and funny, frenetic and fierce, all the while maintaining an excitable curiosity without denying her blood-thirsty viciousness. It’s so unusual to get to play all those things all at once, as well as play up the humor of her, and that has made every aspect of Briar a real treat. Playing a character like this is one of the things that made me fall in love with voiceover work from the start.”


In addition, Nathanson has now joined the illustrious cast of Bethesda Game Studios’ Starfield as the NPC “companion” Marika Boros. Skilled in a wide range of weaponry, Boros is one of more than 20 non-player characters (NPC) who players can recruit to their team. She is a “companion” who has come with a two-star rating for Ballistics, and a one-star rating for both Shotgun Certification and for Particle Beam Weapons Systems. Released last week, Starfield is Bethesda’s first new universe in over 25 years.


A celebrated voice actress for more than two decades, Nathanson has brought to life many beloved video game characters, most notably as the long-time voice of “Samantha Maxis” in the Call of Duty franchise – most recently in Call of Duty: Cold War – and as everybody’s favorite opera singing demon frog – “Baal” – in Bayonetta 3. Her video game resume includes spotlight characters like “Kleia” in World of Warcraft, “Aera” in Final Fantasy XV: Episode Ardyn, “Jess Black” in Far Cry 5, “Field Agent Rio” in Fortnite, “Chill” in Skylanders, “Chocolina” in Final Fantasy 13-2 and Lightning Returns, and “Lampita” in Psychonauts.


After a brief on-camera career, Nathanson has also established herself in the animated voiceover arena, as well, with nearly 60 animated film and TV credits to date.


A classically trained vocalist, Nathanson sings “Lost” in Call of Duty: Cold War, which has amassed over 1.1 million views on YouTube. 


She holds a Master’s in Clinical Psychology. 


The post Julie Nathanson’s 100th Game Role Is Briar In League Of Legends first appeared on Skewed 'n Reviewed.

- gareth

Looking forward to seeing our team coverage.

Howl-O-Scream, SeaWorld San Diego’s separately ticketed nighttime Halloween event for mature audiences, with the most haunted houses, scares and screams in San Diego in one place, will return on September 29. The screamtastic event is full of never-before-seen haunted houses, scare zones, vile vignettes and live performances. Halloween fans can expect new sounds, lighting, special effects, more scare performers, and more surprises at every turn. Howl-O-Scream runs on select nights from September 29 to October 31.

“We’re so excited that we can announce additional offerings to scare and terrify guests at this year’s Howl-O-Scream” said Jim Lake, Park President of SeaWorld San Diego. “Howl-O-Scream is a unique offering to those looking for a scary night out, as it offers a huge variety of things to do within one major event. For those who are returning, expect an amplified experience with all-new scares lurking behind every corner. For first-time visitors, you’re in for a terrifying treat exploring all the horrors and haunts the event has to offer.”


New Haunts and Fearsome Houses and Scare Zones

The screams will never end when guests are running from each of the five new and improved haunted houses. The all-new immersive 3D Circus of the Damned is where fears will come to life in a chaotic cursed circus. Newly announced is fan-favorite, Simon’s Slaughterhouse, there’s no escaping Simon and his knife-wielding crew of butchers through his meat house. The deadly doctor is in and so are his medical experiments gone wrong in Nightmare Experiment, the evil Swamp Witch and her vengeful spirits at Death Water Bayou, plus mad scientists, and terrifying extraterrestrials who refuse to be contained at Area 64: Alien Outbreak.


The scare zones will be a surprise scare-up on attendees as they unknowingly approach these themed locations scattered throughout the event. Inflicting more terror is Clown Gauntlet, a scare zone where guests will face their childhood nightmares as they run from merciless clowns with chainsaws in hand. Haunting the park pathways are creepy dolls and sinister stuffed animals at Deadly Toys, mystifying, undead evils rise at The Graveyard, powerful, alluring sirens at Sea of Souls, and disgruntled, deranged carnies at Carnival of Chaos.

Brand-New Bewitching Live Entertainment to Madden and Mesmerize


Guests will encounter all-new entertainment throughout the event, with a vile surprise hidden around each corner. The five all-new Vile Vignettes will spread dark magic, misfortune, and Halloween terror to unsuspecting guests.

Misfortune – Want to know what the future has in store? Guests brave enough to step into this fortune teller’s tent can find out, but they might not like what they hear as she spins tales of woe and anguish. All Hallow’s Harvest – Beware the cornfields at Howl-O-Scream, evil lurks within! Guests can walk the path if they dare, but the scarecrows are waiting to take their revenge. Dark Magic – What could be more fitting than a sadistic magician within the Carnival of Chaos? Join the not so traditional magic show and explore Dark Magic all night long. If you dare. Call from Beyond – Guests will encounter a mad scientist conducting dangerous experiments. If they’re not careful, they might end up as his next test subject! Simon’s Meat Market – On the way to Simon’s Slaughterhouse, guests will find a crooked auctioneer wielding what’s left of Simon’s latest victims.

Guests can add two stage shows to their night that will madden and mesmerize those between scares.

Opening Scaremony – This completely reimagined stage show opens the event with a frightening master of ceremonies summoning nightmarish creatures and preparing guests for their night of screams, scares, and terror. Call of the Siren – Don’t fall victim to the powerful allure of the sirens during this wickedly mesmerizing hip hop dance performance.

Secure Your Spot to Scream During Slash Sale

In honor of Simon’s gruesome return, guests can secure their spot to escape his slaughterhouse during the Slash Sale! September 18 through 24, guests can save with tickets as low as $39.99. Prices go up as the event draws closer, so guests are encouraged to buy tickets in advance to secure their night of screams and terror.


Howl-O-Scream 2023 is a separately ticketed night event for mature audiences only. Tickets to Howl-O-Scream include haunted houses, scare zones, live entertainment, access to themed bars, rides and coasters at night, and more. Bags measuring larger than 8″x5″, including purses and backpacks, are not permitted through the Howl-O-Scream entrance. Exceptions to this policy may be made for medically necessary items after proper inspection.


For more information on Howl-O-Scream and to purchase tickets and add-ons, visit


For guests looking for family-friendly Halloween fun, SeaWorld San Diego’s annual Spooktacular will take place on select dates from September 15 through October 29. Children of all ages will love trick-or-treating for ghoulish goodies during this daytime event as they explore SeaWorld San Diego in their Halloween costumes, walk through the decorated candy trail, and meet a cast of colorful and not-so-spooky characters.

The post SeaWorld San Diego Reveals New Howl-O-Scream Details first appeared on Skewed 'n Reviewed.

- gareth

Recently I spoke with Jason Michael Paul

About the Heroes Video Game Concert.


How did the idea for the show come about?

I was ready to move beyond VGM concerts that were compilation concerts or the best of VGM. I was always aware of Joseph Campbell’s monomyth “The Hero’s Journey.” The Heroes of our story are your favorite video game characters. Using that framework along with the idea of a narrator, I commissioned the voice of “Dear Esther,” Nigel Carrington, who is providing the context for the chapters. We have chosen the best game that fits each chapter. 


What are some of the previous productions you have worked on and how does this show compare in terms of scale and complexity?

For starters, we have over 17 different video games all officially licensed musically and visually as part of the show. That was perhaps the greatest source of complexity – the wrangling of all the licenses, whereas concerts in the past were a singular property.   Also, we are constantly adding more properties to the series. Keeping it relevant!  For a point of reference, here are some of the previous concert series I produced: 


National Geographic’s Symphony for Our World 2018-2019

The Legend of Zelda Symphony of the Goddesses Concerts 2012-2017

rePlay! A Video Game Symphony 2014-2017

The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Concerts 2011

Play! A Video Game Symphony 2006-2009

More Friends- Music from Final Fantasy 2005

Dear Friends- Music from Final Fantasy 2004

How did you decide which scenes to show and which music to use?

Top 50 video games of all time is what I am working with. Also, some nods to independent game devs like the Chinese Room’s Dear Esther and Valve Portal 2. We have a bit of nostalgia with a Castlevania Suite. We also have brand new titles like Starfield, for which we recently did a world premiere in Cincinnati. Inon Zur, the composer of the score, is a collaborator of the show and he sent a video from his studio to the fans in attendance apologizing for not being able to be there. We have many collaborations with original composers of the game franchises, such as Uematsu san, Mitsuda san, Kondo san, Marty O’Donnell, Michael Salvatori, Jason Hayes, Kow Otani, Gustavo Santaolalla, and many more. Everything is both musically and visually licensed except Square Enix and Nintendo titles (they will only grant musical performance rights). 


How was working with Blizzard and what was the creation process like as did you have to pitch the full show ahead of time in detail or was it more of a collaboration over time?

I have been working with Blizzard since 2005, dating back to when Jason Hayes was their Audio Director. They are a highly motivated group and are active in looking for ways to engage their fan base. I am looking to build upon this relationship to include other IPs such as Diablo as part of Heroes. 


Were there things you wanted to include but were not able to do so?

Absolutely!  But there wasn’t enough time in the show to include all of our ideas, as we didn’t want to exceed two hours, including a 20-minute intermission.  


To what do you attribute the continued appeal of the franchise?

The franchise is constantly reinventing itself with new installments, more content, and ultimately future expansion. It’s a world that a lot of people enjoy playing in.


Do you have plans to expand the tour beyond the current dates?

Yes! My goal is to bring Heroes to even more cities than I did with my Zelda Symphony shows. 


What else do you have upcoming?

To experience this journey with us, visit for more info for our growing list of tour dates around the world!  Additionally, here are a few of our upcoming shows:


Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta Symphony Hall

September 21 & 22


Portland, Oregon

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

January 19, 2024


Monterrey, Mexico

Arena Monterrey

January 31, 2024


Mexico City, Mexico

Arena CDMX

February 1, 2024

The post Jason Michael Paul Talks Blizzard And The Heroes Video Game Concert first appeared on Skewed 'n Reviewed.

- Darren Tilby
Grimmfest announce shorts, guest, jury and surprise screening!

Grimmfest, Manchester's International Festival of Fantastic Film, will be returning to regular venue, Manchester’s Odeon Great Northern, from 6–8 October to showcase the best in genre cinema.

With the feature film lineup already announced, we are delighted to share this year’s poster artwork by Ilan Sheady, emphasising this year’s celebration on female-centric horror.

But now, that celebration is set to start a day earlier, on the evening of Thursday 5 October, with a special preview screening of Joe Lynch’s SUITABLE FLESH alongside two startling short film premieres and the infamous Evolution of Horror pub quiz.

Boasting a fearlessly full-on lead performance from Heather Graham (TWIN PEAKS, BOOGIE NIGHTS), SUITABLE FLESH is a vibrant, visceral and challenging contribution to the cinematic representation of Cthulhu cosmology, and a heartfelt homage to the late, great Stuart Gordon, to whom it is dedicated.

Plus, an exclusive world premiere: Najarra Townsend (THE STYLIST) stars as an isolated young woman caught between a potentially predatory neighbour and her own paranoia in Stu Silverman's slippery and suffocatingly claustrophobic psychological thriller BUG.

Also, in Brendan Cleaves’ SAM AND DOUG (UK premiere), a tense suburban post-lockdown spin on THE WALKING DEAD, Craig Charles, Carla Langley and Elliot James Langridge star in a tale of a desperate mother forming an unlikely friendship to save her family.

We can also now reveal the lineup of short film premieres in this year's trio of programmes.

Friday 6 October: NOTHING IS REAL

A couple's home life grows ever more divided in Peter Collins Campbell's deadpan and disturbing VARIATIONS ON A THEME.

A young man finds himself, and everyone close to him, undergoing a terrifying metamorphosis, in Matt Bentley-Viney's disquieting CATERPILLAR (Greater Manchester premiere).

A young woman uses her ability to hear the voices of the recently departed to help those left behind in Nacho Solana's unexpectedly moving THERE ARE NO GHOSTS (regional premiere).

A young man and his grief-stricken boyfriend come to regret their choice of holiday resort in Gus Reed's subtly nightmarish RINGING ROCKS (Manchester premiere).

Two young women on the brink of romance discover that time is not on their side in Antoine Dricot's quietly devastating MEMORIES OF THE MOON (UK premiere).

A couple's toxic relationship awakens something evil in Jo Smyth's fever-dream folk horror, FIND YOU HERE (Greater Manchester premiere).

Saturday 7 October: WHERE THE HEART… ISN’T

A man returns to the community he grew up in to discover friends and family in thrall to a sinister cult in Jesse Aultman’s macabre morality tale THE SPIRIT BECOME FLESH (international premiere).

Doting parents teach their young daughter the meaning of Halloween in Sabrina Ariss's chilling TRADITION (UK premiere).

Alan Dunne offers a truly terrifying glimpse of a toxic home environment in the darkly comic FAMILY NIGHT (regional premiere).

An overworked young man receives a truly unwelcome phone call in James Hughes' nail-biting NO CALLER ID (world premiere).

A neglected wife develops an unhealthy fixation with an insect in Stef Meyer and Pascal Bourelier's creepy and claustrophobic MANTRA (North West premiere).

A young man's reunion with his biological father proves traumatic in Andrew Rutter's surreal comic nightmare THE HERITAGE (regional premiere).

An infertile woman remains determined to have a baby in Michael Squid's heart-rending and utterly horrifying JANELLE'S BABY (international premiere).

Sam Fox offers the ultimate “meet the parents” shocker in the truly outrageous FUK'N NUTS (UK premiere).

Sunday 8 October: HERE BE MONSTERS

A desperate scientist finds himself caught between marauding zombies and a food-stealing rat in Semyon Voinov's mordantly funny TRAPPED (regional premiere).

A father-and-son weekend adventure becomes a terrifying fight for survival in Michael Trainotti's gripping old-school creature feature SCRATCH (international premiere).

A would-be social media star discovers that success requires sacrifice in Riccardo Grippo's sour splatter-satire STARR (world premiere).

A rejected young woman discovers an unlikely source of moral support in Shane Bannon's troubling A PERFECT PLACE TO CRY (European premiere).

An aspiring romantic novelist becomes increasingly obsessed with a mysterious, possibly supernatural figure who haunts the library where she works in Javier Yañez Sanz's utterly horrifying BOOKWORM (UK premiere).

An inebriated duo attempts to rob an antique store, only to discover that the older woman running the shop isn't quite as defenseless as she seems, in Tyler Savage's droll tale of EC Comics-style poetic justice, ODDITIES, starring genre legend Adrienne Barbeau (Manchester premiere).

We can also share details of the first of this year’s confirmed guests and Festival Jury members. Joining us on this year’s blood-red carpet thus far:

Raymond Wood, director of the candy-coloured and confrontational FACELESS AFTER DARK. Starring and co-written by Jenna Kanell in the wake of appearing in the first TERRIFIER, the film combines splatter, satire, vicarious vengeance, and a twist of sly metacinematic mischief to offer a pointed critique of some of the more questionable aspects of the horror genre and the ways in which fame in an era of toxic social media can prove a truly Faustian bargain.

Writer-director Miguel Azurmendi, producer Antonio Rosa Lobo, and producer-actor Pablo Lapastora will represent the jaw-dropping KERATYNA, a tense, surreal spin on REAR WINDOW for the age of the internet incel conspiracy theorist.

Enigmatic writer-director Quarxx will take the audience on a tour of hell in his existential portmanteau PANDEMONIUM.

From the creative team of ABRUPTIO, composer and musician Patrick Savage (THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE, A CURE FOR WELLNESS, BENEDETTA, COCAINE BEAR) will be in attendance.

Representing SAM AND DOUG, we will welcome actor Elliot James Langridge (HABIT, NORTHERN SOUL).

Finally, Mike Muncer, founder and host, and Becky Darke, returning guest and events coordinator, of podcast THE EVOLUTION HORROR will be presenting various events in and around the festival. We will also be joined by actor-writer Adam Z. Robinson of theatre company THE BOOK OF DARKNESS AND LIGHT, who will be performing HAUNTED on Thursday night at The Lion’s Den.

Mike and Becky will be hosting a special THE EVOLUTION OF HORROR pub quiz for festival attendees, with horror-themed prizes and merchandise for winners and runners up. This will take place at Lion’s Den on the evening of Thursday 5 October, after the screening of SUITABLE FLESH, BUG and SAM AND DOUG.

We are also delighted to release details of this year's Festival Jury. Faced with the daunting task of debating and deliberating over this year's lineup, and determining those most deserving a visit from the Reaper, will be:

Mary Beth McAndrews, film producer and editor-in-chief at Dread Central

Ben Parker, screenwriter and director (BURIAL, THE CHAMBER [Grimmfest 2016])

Caroline Couret-Delègue, managing director of sales and distribution company Film Seekers

Dr Xavier Aldana Reyes, reader and co-director at the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University and co-president of the International Gothic Association

Amber T, writer and journalist (Fangoria, Arrow Video, Ghouls Magazine, Grimoire of Horror)

Full and day passes and individual tickets are available at

- Chris Olson
Zapper! indie film review - second look


Directed by: Nick Gatsby

Written by: Nick Gatsby

Starring: Skye Armenta, Nick Gatsby, Christopher James Taylor

Indie Film Review by: Chris Olson

Zapper! Indie Film Review

Serving up surrealist sci-fi, filmmaker Nick Gatsby invites viewers to take a “trip” with him in this experimental comedy Zapper!. Not a film for any viewer who suffers from epilepsy, the film achieves and maintains an acid-trip aesthetic throughout, constantly shifting colour and utilising a smorgasbord of special effects and wacky props (the guns are bananas).

A group of higher beings engage in an annual game whereby they use lowly zappers to compete for glory. This time, the combatants are attempting to locate four puzzle pieces that have been scattered in parks near conveniently placed portholes. Together, the puzzle pieces create a mystical longboard. We follow a few different zappers along the way, who all meet with an array of treachery, gangsters, and oddball characters - with only their trusty weapon (rich in potassium and fibre) to keep them playing.

It’s easy to get distracted by the visuals in Zapper! - a lot of the visual elements are fun and give the indie film a certain charm, however, with an enjoyable electronic score and effective soundscape (listen out for the use of echoing maniacal laughter), it’s a movie that has been rigorously worked on and has a lot of impressive moments. Several of the gags are also well executed, in particular a certain psychopathic moose.

Sadly, the kaleidoscopic colour changes outstay their welcome and make the film an endurance test for those willing to see the movie through. The plot starts fairly strong but loses its way in the second half, with the viewer being jolted on to different protagonists not helping things. Seemingly mundane scenes get given way too much room to breathe and the actors just aren’t up to the task of keeping us intrigued with the childish dialogue and melodrama.

Embarking on a hallucinatory comedy caper is a brave task and Gatsy gets a tip of the balaclava for that. Were it a full-throttled short with a cohesive plot and fewer characters, Zapper! could have gone the distance. As it is, the film is a trip few will go on and more will leave during.


- alexjames96
Dyed in the Wool Short Film Review


Directed by: #BillSorrice

Starring: #BillSorrice and #MonishaShiva

Short Film Review by: Alexandra James

Dyed in the Wool is a short series that follows couple Ev and Freddie. Ev has lost her job recently and the pair find themselves in some very awkward social situations as they visit friends and family and inform them of the news. Sadly, Freddie is not the type to hold back on some of his opinions and fails to live up to Ev’s expectations when it comes to social cues and general etiquette. However, many of Freddie’s gibes are not far off from what we are all thinking when it come to dealing with insufferable guests that just don’t know when to shut up! The series did not follow on from one another, each episode was its own individual comedic piece, so it made it interesting to discover something new within each episode, and new characters to connect with.

Freddie is an average guy that enjoys football and drinking beer with his mates, his girlfriend Ev is polite, friendly and tries to make sure everyone around her is comfortable, the total opposite to Fred! Their relationship seemed unusual, I struggled to see the chemistry between the two, their personalities were clearly opposites. There needed to be something that bonded to the two, such as through humour or subtle glances towards one another when placed in such uncomfortable situations. The comedic side to these short episodes were great and included lots of humorous and uncomfortable moments for our main characters. It is a series that projects the normal day-to-day interactions we have in life whether this be dinner parties or catching up with old friends and shows the audience what it would be like if we did highlight the absurd behaviour of people. There was almost a Larry David vibe to the main character Fred. His unfiltered nature, alongside some rather alternative characters made for some funny moments and made it easy to relate to some of the awkward moments.

Unfortunately, the drawback to this short series is the editing and camera work. This did let the scenes down a fair bit, it had an amateurish feel throughout and seemed close to a home video style. The camera angles were extremely shaky in places which made the piece look poor in quality. However, with this said, if this became tightened up and improved upon this series has a lot of potential with its strong comedy element. The main characters need to be established further and the audience need to see that connection between the two. Dyed in the Wool is a great comedy short series with hilarious characters, entertaining storylines, and strong potential.

- alexjames96
One for Sorrow Short Film Review


Directed by: #BennyWatson

Starring: #SylviaClegg and #JamesWoolley

Short Film Review by: Alexandra James

A seemingly sweet tale of an old man who is an avid birdwatcher, living an easy life with his wife. There days are consumed by cooking for one another, dancing in their living room and taking a short drive to the forest to listen to the harmonic tunes of the birds. Unfortunately, as the story develops, we quickly learn that there is something amiss within this elderly man’s life. Although not completely obvious, the audience quickly establishes the subtle hints throughout this short film and our response changes dramatically from happiness to empathy for our protagonist. Benny Watson’s One for Sorrow adds a dark layer to this film and draws out the realities for someone suffering with dementia and what a day-to-day life looks like for some people.

Stanley resides in the countryside, completely isolated from society and lives in a beautifully grand home. From the beginning, it becomes clear that Stanley is a gentle soul with simple pleasures in life. The film is black and white which at first appeared to not fit the scenes, however, it became obvious that this was intentional and reflected the dark undertones that lied beneath. Stanley was often seen speaking with his wife, this was either general chit chat regarding their dinner or the birds singing in the forest and even dancing together in the living room. Nevertheless, something appeared off about their relationship, his wife never spoke a word and the audience could never see her face. She was merely an image on screen that only Stanley was able to interact with and receive any form of response. As we witnessed more interactions they had with one another, there were hints that made it clear that Stanley’s wife was no longer around. She had no reflection in the mirror and the birds would not respond to her calls, only Stanley.

It was these subtleties that really set this film a part and sent a powerful message. Stanley’s vision and the audiences were disconnected, and this really blurred the lines between reality and imaginary. The viewer was unable to trust anything that was on screen, however, to Stanley, this was his world, and his wife was with him always. He remained content within this bubble he had created, until reality began to break in, and he was entrapped in this state of confusion. This was a hard-hitting film that places the viewer in a person with dementias shoes, unable to determine reality from fantasy and the emotional and heavy struggles that come with the disease.

One for Sorrow is a poignant film that expresses the hardships of living with dementia in a sensitive and powerful way. It was a truly touching, mesmeric character based short film that can be seen as bittersweet in a way by highlighting one man’s journey with dementia, and reliving memories his life.

- alexjames96
Dendrophobia Short Film Review

Directed by: #JunayedAlavi

Starring: #SayanBiswas, #ArijitSaha and #MayurThakur

Short Film Review by: Alexandra James

Dendrophobia is a short film that exposes one man’s deep-rooted fear of trees. This is one phobia which I did have to Google as I had to know if this was a true fear, and low and behold discovered it is in fact real. I suppose there is a fear out there for everyone to suffer with! Director Junayed Alavi begins this narrative with a teacher and child sitting across from one another. The teacher begins to tell the child a tale about fear and attempts to impart some wisdom onto the young boy, that fear is just an illusion, hoping that he will understand the real monster of his story is.

The opening scene to this short looked intriguing and promising. The audience see a man walking through a wooded area, the music added over the scene created this intense and eerie atmosphere and appears to be the beginning of a psychological horror, a twisted story between man and nature. The audience then become confused at first at the protagonist’s reaction to the trees and plants that surround him, his face clearly showing panic and torment from being trapped within the woods. As the music begins to heighten and intensify, we begin to wonder what is lurking behind the dark trees to evoke such fear from our main character. The scene quickly changes to him at home, and again as he looks out the window and sees the trees, he begins to breathe heavily and become more and more panicked by the outside and nature, even fearful of a small plant growing outside in the alleyway next to his home. It was at this point the film became comical rather than scary, it was extremely difficult to take the short seriously and understand the narratives direction.

Understandably, the film is called Dendrophobia, however, although this is a fear that exists and one which has not been used within the horror genre, it may be for a very apparent reason that to the average person trees are not scary! So, it was difficult to watch this film without smiling and becoming amused by some of the scenes taking place, the complete opposite reaction to how the director wanted us to feel which was frightened!

It would have been creepy to generate the plants into a creature or become creative with the lighting and allow the audience to truly envision nature as a scary force. Unfortunately, it was one man attempting to fight off a plant and the plant slowly beginning to take over his body. This did not make me look at trees in a different way! The music although was fitting for a horror genre, does not then make the scenes themselves scarier in anyway, there needed to a stronger narrative to really project this film into the horror genre as well as allow the audience to empathise with the character and feel this level of fear that he was experiencing.

- Alasdair MacRae
EIFF23: Interview with Passages director Ira Sachs

Passages is easily one of the most exciting films of the year and with Ira Sachs attending screenings at the 76th edition of the Edinburgh International Film Festival I was fortunate enough to get to chat with the director.

SYNOPSIS: Celebrated filmmaker Ira Sachs (Love is Strange) makes a breathtaking return with PASSAGES, a fresh, honest and brutally funny take on messy, modern relationships, starring Franz Rogowski (Great Freedom), Ben Whishaw (Women Talking) and Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue Is the Warmest Colour). Set in Paris, this seductive drama tells the story of Tomas (Rogowski) and Martin (Whishaw), a gay couple whose marriage is thrown into crisis when Tomas begins a passionate affair with Agathe (Exarchopoulos), a younger woman he meets after completing his latest film.

Perceptive, intimate and unashamedly sexy, PASSAGES sees Sachs bridge his usually tender style with a uniquely European sensibility, providing an insightful and authentic take on the complexities, contradictions and cruelties of love and desire.

AM. Was it fun writing the character of Tomas? Because he gets to make all the wrong decisions

IS. It was very fun to create the character, particularly working with Franz Rogowski who is a delight, and a sweetheart, unlike Tomas. Finding the tone and the texture of the character was a great pleasure. I had to convince him at a certain point that behaving badly would be permissible. I think he thought, “How far can I go?”, and I said, “Don’t worry, I got you”. We watched a couple of movies, James Cagney movies, because Cagney often played a sociopath, impossible characters who were prone to violence but he did it with such beauty that they are endearing and indelible.

AM. I watched your first film Vaudeville. I thought it made quite a nice pairing with Passages, and because the Edinburgh Fringe is on at the moment with all these plays that will have three people in the audience. There is also this character there that is teasing people, and pulling bad decisions out of them.

IS. Yes, Charlie Guidance

AM. Did you see a link between the two?

IS. I thought a lot about my early work making this movie. I think almost all my films have had central characters that are white guys behaving badly and doing things they shouldn’t. Cause I think I’m interested in exposing myself, in putting myself in the centre of my films as a way of understanding my role in the universe. I think also I had certain instincts of observation as a filmmaker which were at play there. I was also watching a lot of Cassavetes when I made Vaudeville, and I think I was also channeling my love of Cassavetes with Passages as well cause I think of it as a form of actors’ cinema, where the camera, and the director, and the story give a lot of space for the actors to do things that are unexpected to themselves. So the script is a blueprint but the performances are a moment.

AM. So you talk about giving them the space, and the camera takes quite an observational perspective, there are a lot of mid-shots and wide-shots, and then the close-ups feel false.

IS. What do you mean by false?

AM. Because of how much time when you spend with intense emotions at a wide, when you move to a close-up you think, “I don’t quite trust this”

IS. That’s interesting

AM. So you choose to frame quite wide, and you say that is to give the actors space, but there are some very deliberately framed shots that are painterly, and they [the actors] tend to hold in these positions. Did you have any specific inspiration for each type of shot, did you spend a lot of time planning in advance how it was going to look?

IS. I’m trying to think of close-ups

AM. It’s when he tells Agathe he loves her

IS. It’s pretty close to a shot in John Eustache’s The Mother and the Whore. To me, each shot has its own integrity. So there is a sequence of shots which is a collage or a montage, and so they can have very different qualities but lined up against each other they create a rhythm. I spent six or seven weeks, three or four hours a day with my cinematographer figuring out how we would shoot the film, the visual strategy. We would watch a lot of movies, or parts of a lot of movies. We actually look at the specific construction of scenes to arrive at our own language. I storyboard the film when I arrive on set with that material. And then things change, you discover things with the actors. I don’t rehearse before we start shooting, so I don’t have readthroughs, I don’t talk to the actors about motivation. I try to let the script and the costumes, and the atmosphere create an environment that is authentic and real, and then what happens is to a great extent a form of emotional improvisation. The scripts are followed, I would say 92% of the film was scripted, but there is room within that for the unexpected. For example, when Adèle Exarchopoulos is singing that song, she had never sang it to anyone but herself before we had started shooting, so you are really seeing something happen for the first time.

AM. I was going to ask about how many times you shot scenes. Because that first dance scene, you can almost feel the pheromones off the screen. How many takes did you do for that?

IS. One of the hard things about shooting a club scene is if there is dialogue there is this artificial imposition that happens unless you do it in a very different way because you turn the music down to let the dialogue be heard. So that means they’re actually dancing to silence. Once the dialogue is over then you turn the music back up and suddenly things come alive, but you lose a lot in that process technically that I still question. I shot a lot of dancing and then really what you’re seeing is the impact of editing, cause it is picking the moments that tell the story. The story is told there of seduction, it took a lot of time to figure out the right images, to tell and condense the period, and without dialogue, two people falling into lust with each other.

AM. It feels that there is quite a strong colour theory to Passages – it goes from hot to cold, certain characters obviously gravitate towards particular colours, Martin always wears blue, did you plan a lot of that in advance? Was there a big plan with costume design and production design?

IS. Yes, but not with any interest in metaphor and meaning. It was just colour, how can colour be impactful? Everyone wears red in the film, nobody doesn’t wear red, so you can’t say anybody owns red. I don’t know if you know the film À Nos Amour, Maurice Pialat, in English it is called To Our Loves? It is this film with this wonderful young actress at that point, Sandrine Bonnaire, she was like a muse to the visual creation of the film [Passages], and every actor, every character is Sandrine in the film, how colour is used on her body in that film. To me colour is memory. It is not meaning, it is not language.

AM. Yeah, everything is abstract.

IS. The only point I would say that I would use colour to say something would be white for Ben Whishaw

AM. Yes, at the end.

IS. Why not? And I thought of Fassbinder who uses white in a wonderful, wonderful way. But there is also this aesthetic process of pairing things down, not to have six colours, but to have three. I think that creates resonance for the audience. I think people don’t remember story, they remember image.

AM. I was wondering if there was a film that you had in mind, Le Bonheur, the Varda film, did you think of that at all?

IS. No, I didn’t think of that film, but I know it. Vagabond, have you ever seen Vagabond?

AM. Yeah

IS. That’s Sandrine Bonnaire

AM. Yes

IS. So she was 18 in that film and in À Nos Amours she is 16. I really recommend tracking that movie down.

Why do you think of Le Bonheur?

AM. There are a lot of parallels about the supposedly happy man finding another woman, the printworks where Martin works kind of reminds me of the factory where the husband works, and because you move into Autumn at the end and that is how Le Bonheur ends as well. But of course, your character receives some sort of comeuppance whereas Le Bonheur has a very different ending.

IS. Wow. There is a film called The Innocent, which is the last film of Visconti, you know Passages is a remake of The Innocent.

AM. Are you allowed to say that?

IS. It is direct. Some of the lines are taken directly. There is a line at the end of the film, “You look ugly now”, is directly from The Innocent, it is what the mistress says to him right before he blows his brains out. So it is an aristocrat with a mistress. I mean this film is also a remake of Loulou by Pialat, it’s also a remake of Dodsworth by William Wyler, I mean they are all triangle films, they are all films about people trying to figure out what kind of life they want, what kind of life they have, that tension between having everything and then wanting something else, they are domestic films. All of my films are remakes, basically.

AM. I mean you could call every film a remake.

IS. Yes, but some are more explicitly. And I would say I am one of those filmmakers.

AM. So you keep your characters active, mostly eating, drinking, dancing, fucking – it keeps the film moving, it is quite a short film at ninety minutes and it has this kinetic energy. Did you think you had to keep your characters active the whole time?

IS. Yes, there is one scene where they are not active and it is not in the film, it didn’t make it.

AM. Is it for that reason?

IS. It didn’t work. It just felt like a different movie, this is a movie of action. Also, there is no past in this film, there is a sense of history but there is no description of it. And that scene was one in which the past was discussed. It just felt like it was from a different film – it was from Jules and Jim! So we were making a film of the present.

AM. Do you enjoy taking bits from other films and remaking them in your own image?

IS. It’s not that I enjoy, it’s just a process, it is how I work. It is not like I make a reference that I think is interesting to anyone per se. I am trying to share with you the procedure, to be open and transparent about how I work, but I think in a way other films are part of my memory, they are part of my family, they are a part of me. So as much as I think about that have happened in my own life I think of things that have happened to me watching a movie.

AM. I was interested because some people say, “You shouldn’t watch anything and go off and make something!”, and others say, “Watch everything and then go off and make something!”.

IS. Yeah. You know it is interesting because when I work with my cinematographer I tend not to ask her to watch movies, I tend to show her certain scenes, which is what is significant to me. It is about how is the camera used to convey emotion and tell a story? It is like going to the Louvre and studying what is on the wall.

AM. Something I thought was quite interesting about Passages was that you use the verticality of the frame very well. There are scenes where heads are chopped off, and there are dividing lines like in Je Tu Il Elle

IS. What do you mean by dividing line?

AM. As in a horizontal line, with someone framed below it, and then nothing above. Is that something you consciously think about?

IS. Right, not as you describe it. I think of the image of the film frame as a cube, not as a rectangle. So I want to think about bodies and space, I want you to also feel that outside the cube is the rest of the world. And I think that is something that Pialat does beautifully, it is kind of a decentred frame, you never know where the centre is, and in some ways that involves the world outside the frame. But that is way more intellectual, I don’t really talk in theory in making the film, I talk in instinct. An image either comes alive or it seems dead to me. If I am on set sometimes what I’ll say is, “This looks like TV”, and then we’ll have to figure out what has gone wrong. I mean I have a lot of pictures on my iPhone which look like images from Passages. I’m often interested in the corner of the room because the corner creates a cube, you can see the wall and you can understand that there is height, that there is an angle, and these things create an aesthetic feeling that I respond to.

AM. You see when you say that there are images on your phone that look like Passages, are they images that you have taken yourself whilst you are going about, and thought, “Oh that looks interesting”, and then taken it back and used it as a reference?

IS. Sometimes I’ll do that, and sometimes I think that the film looks like my eye, it looks like what I see, and what I want to see, and it looks like what turns me on. I mean you exist you are between these walls, and light comes in, and that creates a certain kind of, almost a romance… Light is romance. And I think that is something that I talked to Josée Deshaies, my cinematographer, about.

AM. Because you have these kinetic scenes, you choose not to have non-diegetic music.

IS. Was that a choice, it didn’t…

AM. Did you try music at any point?

IS. No. I mean there is a significant cue.

AM. Yeah, at the end. But besides that, there is 85-88 minutes without.

IS. Yeah, but I saved that one cue, it has great impact, because it has great impact because it comes from a different tradition, right?

AM. Yeah.

IS. It reminds you that you are watching a movie. These images wouldn’t take score, it just wouldn’t.

AM. So you knew that from the start?

IS. Yeah, I knew that from the start. I mean, people suggested to me trying things, and I was like, “Sure, I’ll try them” [sarcastically], but I had a feeling that the music would come from the action and from the life.

- Chris Olson
Filmmaker Interview with Gia Skova
Filmmaker Interview by Chris Olson Filmmaker Interview with Gia Skova

Hi Gia, many thanks for speaking with us. Whereabouts in the world do we find you right now?

I’m in the USA at the moment working on my new current project, a romantic comedy it’s coming soon! I’m directing again!!!

You wrote, directed, and starred in the action thriller The Serpent. For new audiences, how would you describe the film?

I invite you to get to know The Serpent. She is definitely someone you want to introduce to your friends and followers. This film is entertaining, well-written and full of exciting turns.

The Serpent Movie Poster

The plot synopsis is: Top special agent Lucinda Kavsky works for a secret part of the CIA. She's given a special assignment but then set up by her own agency.

The stunts are amazing, the music will keep your heart beating as it lends to Serpent's adventures. Targeted demos for The Serpent include: women and guys of all ages, those who identify as action film watchers, those who like suspense and thrillers, those who support Independent and film festival movies, international movie watchers, those who enjoy female heroines, and international spy/espionage movie lovers. The Serpent is sure to please these viewers of all ages.

The Serpent has magnetic appeal with a storyline that can be understood and felt no matter where you are located. It can easily be a cult classic. It's a title you want in your movie catalogue. Meet The Serpent and enjoy!

Why did you want to tell this story?

I love stories about heroes, about those who fight against wrong and I want the good guys to win and all my stories that I have already created and will create are about this.

I want to give hope to all those viewers who will watch my movies that in movies as in life there is justice and you have to believe in yourself and believe that the good guys will win and doing good is much more important, and you can meet good people and you can do good things and be happy!

What were the challenges of getting The Serpent made?

It was quite an experience, to complete the project from the beginning till the end...I have to say it’s hard work, being both on screen and off the screen as a head of the project, the producer.

What has the reaction to The Serpent been like?

The reaction to the movie is different but mostly everyone liked it very much, the audience liked very much the hero Lucinda Kavsky - of course, the girl blonde hero saves the world, you can't think of anything better.

This was your directorial debut. How did you find it?

The Serpent is my directorial debut. I hope my audience will appreciate my debut work, an exciting action sequence sure to please audiences worldwide. With its diverse casting, international setting, and intriguing story, The Serpent is the newest cultural phenomenon. I love the action genre because I am mostly attracted to the stunt work, stunt fighting and stunt driving and I did all the stunts myself in the film.

Why do you make movies?

Since childhood, I love to tell stories that take the breath away, surprise and delight the viewer and movies gives me the opportunity to show everything in a colourful light.

The Serpent is currently available to watch on Freevee.

- Alasdair MacRae
EIFF23: Interview with Variety director Bette Gordon

Bette Gordon’s incomparable 1983 feature film Variety is having a resurgence for its 40th anniversary including a screening as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2023 (in partnership with Bristol’s Cinema Rediscovered Festival). I was fortunate to be able to discuss the film and other selected works with the visionary director on Sunday morning.

SYNOPSIS: Scripted by the late experimental novelist Kathy Acker, 'Variety' follows Christine (Sandy McLeod), a bright and unassuming young woman, as she takes a job selling tickets at a pornographic theatre near Times Square. Developing an obsession with this erotic milieu that begins to consume her life, Christine finds her relationships with her boyfriend Mark (Will Patton) and Louie (Richard Davidson), one of the theatre’s patrons, profoundly changed. Emerging from the underground NYC arts scene, Variety includes an impressive array of talent, including cinematography by Tom DiCillo (“Living in Oblivion”), performances by Luis Guzman (“Boogie Nights”), John Waters regular Cookie Mueller and photographer Nan Goldin, and a score by actor and musician John Lurie (“Stranger Than Paradise”, “Down By Law”). A ground-breaking treatment of female voyeurism and desire, this is a transgressive and highly personal film and represents a major work of a director who continues to embody the essence of independent cinema along with being a love letter to a grimy, pre-Giuliani era of bygone New York.

AM. So to prepare for watching Variety I sought out some of your earlier films, some of your structural work.

BG. Yeah, the early work was so engaging in so many ways. It was really all about film, the material of film, like an artist and a painting. How do I speak with the canvas? What are my tools, my paint, the thickness of paint, or the material for a sculpture? Thinking about the art-making process. In film you have so many material aspects but the essential ones are space and time. When I started to make films it was how to use the essential elements, which play in all films, commercial, narrative, whatever. If I could take these essential elements and use them to represent and look at the image. I was obsessed with extending time and so the early films I was working with James Benning, who was at first my teacher, and then my partner. We worked together for seven years but only a few years of those in really making the films but in everything we did we were always engaged.

This optical printer was a device that we had. On the one side you would shoot a scene, and the scene could be anything, and on the other side was the camera with a new roll of film and a lens that could see frame by frame, holding the film. If you have ever held film in your hands or seen the frames, the texture and the grain was so fascinating. It was rephotographing film and in that way we would copy sixty times one frame and it began to let you see things that were not perceptible to the eye if you were shooting at twenty-four-frames-per-second because it goes by so fast. It was about expanding time and examining space. Almost playing with that by dissolving one frame, but printed many times into another frame, but you couldn’t do that with splices. It was a way of setting up an A-roll and a B-roll, so the A-roll would have one frame printed sixty times, and then it would dissolve and you would have to go to another lab to have another frame printed sixty times, so it became this kind of pulsating movement. It told you something about how film moves to the camera. It was enticing, and actually I began to think wow the process itself is more seductive than the narrative stories we could tell. Even then like the opening scene of Michigan Avenue...

AM. I actually wasn’t able to find Michigan Avenue

BG. Okay, it has three scenes. The first scene is on the street in Chicago, Michigan Avenue. The second scene is two women who are on the street but we don’t quite see that they are there. And the third scene is them in bed together, and one of them is rolling off the bed. And it is so narrative -but so much about the seductiveness of the frame-by-frame study. It is no different than probably all my films but I think of it as very different, just the process, and it was the one-on-one. Benning and I would spend hours in the dark in the optical printer counting frames. There was no digital so you would basically be “one, two, three, four, five…” and then you would have to remember where you are. And then on the A-roll, which was going to intersect with the B-roll, the next sixty frames had to be black so that the image from the B-roll could fill it in, so then hand on the lens, “one, two, three…”. So now I have this counting disease, where every once in a while I’ll be walking down the street and I won’t start at one, all of a sudden I’ll hear myself counting from way back, “twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three…”.

Did you see I-94?

AM. Yes

BG. So that is done the same way

AM. Yeah, I was going to say it is the - one frame, then covering the lens, then one frame…

BG. Yeah, exactly. Putting those two together it almost looks superimposed, but we are never in the same frame at the same time, but we’re having sex, kind of. So that early work was really an experiment. It was just the joy of having film in your hands and manipulating those things that are so unique to film, and thinking about how people see. All my films are still about seeing in different ways, and thinking about what is in the frame and what isn’t in the frame, and the questions you can ask about how people look. Sometimes you want the viewer to be engaged with the whole cinematic experience.

AM. On both levels

BG. Yeah, when you think about just the experience of being an audience member and you go into a dark room and the lights go out. There is no other medium that puts you in the dark like that. Not theatre – whenever I go to the theatre you are aware of who is next to you and the lights are not dark enough. But in the cinema, it is pitch black. And your mind, the unconscious part of your mind which allows you to believe that a person can be in a frame here and then… the cut takes you over, and we don’t even question! That’s impossible. We suspend a kind of conscious thought to get to a kind of unconscious thought.

The surrealists. I wrote my master’s thesis on Buñuel and the fascinating experiences they did. They said that cinema is the true experiential art. And they would go from one cinema to another cinema never finishing a film, unconsciously building like automatic writing. Buñuel, brilliant! Because he didn’t so much play with the lens or the cinematic stuff that I am talking about. He proceeded very conventionally locating long shots – close-ups, and yet in putting it together he created such a dreamlike situation. I was obsessed with his films, certainly Un Chien Andalou, the slicing of the eye, that’s what I’m talking about! You have to get to the other side sometimes. And our culture is so… Sometimes we stop at the surface, “that’s beautiful” or “that’s stupid”. Movies if they are for entertainment then they don’t want people to work too hard.

AM. Yes, not wanting to work on both levels.

So, because of your former work when choosing to make more of a narrative film in Variety did you start with the form first and then build the narrative in? Or was it the narrative and then the form? Or was it both together?

BG. Both together. Because Empty Suitcases, were you able to see that?

AM. Yeah, I managed to find it, Empty Suitcases is brilliant

BG. Empty Suitcases approaches what Variety does. Every scene is one long shot for the most part, with a little bit of black in-between so it is almost reproducing what happens when the film spins in the camera, well not anymore because we don’t have a shutter that rotates. Empty Suitcases was a story about a woman who is dislocated, who can’t find her place, she goes back and forth between New York and Chicago, and there is the train, this sort of back and forth. I thought of it as a kind of statement about women in culture, and where is their place? Where are they in the frame? And we found her in the booth in Variety. Which is a film about looking, and spaces, and frames within frames. I thought with Variety I am going to take this further, but it did start with the discovery of the Variety Theatre. It came from the thinking of the time, the question of the representation of women, and a very famous article that Laura Mulvey wrote ‘Visual Pleasure in Narrative Cinema’. And here in Edinburgh, actually there was a huge conference, Laura was there, we talked endlessly about the article. Many women were there from all over, from Holland, from US, from UK, from France, and just this incredible moment in time. Getting back, it was the 80s and I hadn’t made Empty Suitcases then, and I was thinking about the question Laura posed in conventional narrative cinema. The pleasure comes from the centrality of the female character as object of the male gaze and it poses the fact that the audience member would be male. And I said, but I like to watch! I love to watch, I am a voyeur from beginning to end. Just put me in the dark. We all have that instinct and so my character has to watch, be a voyeur.

When I found the Variety Theatre I was looking for what my next film was going to be and I had an offer from German television after my film was in Berlin. “Love the film, we want to do your next film”. Which is a beautiful offer for a young filmmaker in their twenties. I had never thought about it because my films were always cheap and I would make it on like a dime. So I knew that I was looking, and the sort of consolidation for the idea of Variety was the booth, the cinema. I’m walking around, it’s night, I love to go places that I know that I am not supposed to go. I have always been that kind of person, if you say don’t, I’ll probably do it. Just ask my mother, she had to put up with me. I found the theatre and it was gorgeous, just like it looks in the film. The colours - red and blue, green, yellow, calling me from across the street. I look closer. You know, cinemas were beginning to disappear in the 80s. Times Square still had cinemas but in the 80s those multiplexes like the one that we have here… I loved that experience, the excitement when you’d go into the theatre and the booth and the whole experience of it. I saw that and I got closer, and I said this is incredible. But I got really close, I saw that this is a porn cinema and I said “Wow!”. I wanted to go in. Just like when I would walk around Times Square in the 80s there would be barkers, just guys who were physically standing there, and they would have a mic often. “Girls! Girls! Girls! Beautiful girls! Step Right up, live here on stage!” You know when you go to the games? That’s why I went to Asbury Park, because at an amusement park there are those guys that say, “Come on up, step right up, 3 balls, win a prize!” That is so enticing! Wow, I want to be there. Amusement parks, fun houses, stuff that frees you from your everyday reality, which is what cinema does. “Step right up, there’s a screen!” Eventually I met the projectionist who walked by one day. I talked to him, and he asked me, “What are you doing?”, cause not many women are there. I said, “I’m just looking at the theatre, I’m kind of interested in shooting things”. “I’m the projectionist, come on up to the booth”. So I went up to the booth. That is the generative idea for the booth as the place of Christine, who is both the object of the look and also the looker, so it has a kind of mirror-like effect so that it implicates the viewer as the see-er as well. So you are not innocent of that sort of process of following. You’re watching, but you’re also watching a watcher watch, and I love that.

AM. Did you have to try and space out mirror shots in the film?

BG. No, I just do them whenever. I love them, whenever I see a mirror…

AM. I love the hall of mirrors effect you get in the red room towards the end

BG. Yeah, that was my bathroom! I didn’t know where I was going to shoot. I lived in Tribeca which was this downtown space at the time, nobody lived there except for artists, and we had big spaces, like industrial. So I just took a can of spray paint, the walls were not even finished, they were like sheetrock, and I sprayed it all red. So we set it up, and Nan was there, Nan Goldin. Cookie came, the great Cookie Mueller! She said, “Sandy, I’ll do your hair today”, cause we didn’t have stylists or hair and make-up people, we did our own. We hung out and we shot, it was such a fun scene to do. We didn’t play music or anything but John Lurie, the great John Lurie, we worked together so beautifully for the score. The hall of mirrors! It is a film about the frame. I teach a directing class at Columbia, sometimes I give them those throw-away cameras they have really no lens just a peephole, and I say just shoot a roll, just process it, and I want you to think about what is in the frame and what isn’t. And it is interesting when they come back. I don’t want the phone look, I like the shape of these little throw away cameras. What did you shoot? What are you naturally drawn to? And then we would talk about that. But the frame itself and composition gives you as much information as the narrative does, but you don’t know it, it sneaks it in. If it is a tight frame, if there is a reflection, or if it is a big empty space with one character, then that is narrative information given to you the way that only cinema can give it to you visually. You get more, even if you don’t know it, you feel something different.

AM. Sorry to bounce around a bit, but you made Anybody’s Woman before it, how does that fit in?

BG. Yes, because I was trying to figure out, how was this going to look on film. And I still didn’t know completely what the story would be, I knew that she would get a job. So I got this Super8 camera that I had, and I just went to the theatre, and I invited two friends, Nancy Reilly, who worked with the Wooster Group, and Spalding Gray, who did too. Spalding Gray is a very famous monologist and a friend. I said that I don’t know what I really want to do, but Nancy, we’re going to shoot around the cinema, you’re going to be in the booth. It was a Sunday morning, I think they didn’t open til 12 or 1 or something like that. So I played around with the camera and I found a lot of stuff. Like when she is wandering around the lobby, I was just getting my angles. I saw the coke machine there. Then I sat them in the theatre, it was kind of stinky and gross. And I said, “Spalding, tell me about your experience going to see porn movies”. He is brilliant, do you know his work?

AM. Sorry, I’m not really familiar

BG. Swimming to Cambodia is a monologue film he did which is really great. He could talk about anything. So [in Anybody’s Woman] he tells his story, and Nancy is there and she is talking about the strip bar that she worked. The last shot, that is where the Collective for Living Cinema was, which was the place where I went to work with this collective of people who started their own cinema, just in a loft. It wasn’t even really a cinema, we put the chairs down, we had a great screen, we built a little projection booth. On the corner was Babydoll Lounge, where sometimes friends would go to dance, or just because sometimes you would want extra money. There was a great poster out there and our cinema was down the street. So I said, “Stand in front of this, and I am just going to ask you questions, and you just answer”, like a Godard [film]. Like Vivre Sa Vie.

AM. I had seen that you had said that Godard was an inspiration, and there are these advertising moments across several of your films, they feel kind of…

BG. Godardian… Kind of a comment on…

AM. This is it, upfront, in your face, is that what you were thinking?

BG. Yes, and also thinking about the whole Women Against Pornography, and censorship. How could you censor porn when you have advertising that is doing the same thing? And doing it in your face? It seemed like I was pulling and pushing. Especially in that opening scene, I found all these old glamour photos and advertising, it is one and the same, it is even worse. It existed in Times Square, but then Times Square was all these theatres, and so interesting, the population of people. The film business was up there, the porn world was there. We would go to the bar which was kind of combined film world people, strippers, dancers, artists, musicians… And now it is all ads. It is as pornographic but worse. These giant bodies…

AM. And it is acceptable.

BG. Yeah.

AM. One of the most interesting scenes for me in the film was when she takes the porno mag back and we are watching her looking at these women.

BG. When she is on the bed?

AM. Yeah, as in what are we doing here? We are watching her, looking at these women, that have probably been photographed by men. How did you come up with the idea for that?

BG. I would always look. You know, when I went into the porn store, I wanted to see. These men are looking at these pictures, and some of them I found, ‘Oh that’s sexy’, just really engaging. We always say that you can’t look at that. Why? If they can look, I can look. Of course, when I did go into the porn store, you see it in the film, I was trespassing, but not really, and they all moved away. And why she takes the magazine, is that I took magazines home. I wanted to look, and be the looker, as opposed to just being the reflection of me on the page. When she goes into Louie’s room, she is looking for answers, answers for what? Is he really engaged in mafia? That is an interest that brings her into it, because her boyfriend the journalist is working on the story, but on the other hand, he becomes her story, and she weaves her story around this guy who, it’s never really about him, it’s always about the journey. And when she looks in that little black suitcase - as in the song I used at the end, I grew up hearing that song, it is a group called Little Anthony and the Imperials, it was all like The Temptations, it is this really great song. “How I love to look inside your little book”. What is that? It’s another kind of taboo. To read something, to take your hands… Putting your hand in a suitcase also is sexual. And in that kind imaginary moment, he [Louie] puts his hand inside [she gestures as if putting a hand inside one’s jacket to take something from an inside breast pocket]. It is in any day, everyday activity, like handshaking. But taking the porn book, it was his little diary.

AM. But then she is looking at it alone, in her own space, she is no longer just invading male space publicly

BG. Yes, she takes it. It is all about redefining those spaces and inhabiting them.

AM. Even privately.

BG. They’re mostly male spaces. I guess that says a lot about me as a filmmaker. I have never been interested in creating ‘a women’s cinema’, or even if I would define myself a filmmaker, a woman filmmaker, a feminist filmmaker, I don’t want the label. I’m just interested in disrupting, or making something problematic, so that you, the viewer, would go, “Hmm, what is that?”. That is more engaging than saying, “I am going to build this other world, and call it something with a label so that it becomes marginalised or even mainstreamed…” You know, “how many female filmmakers do we have?” I think I have never been comfortable with that, I think I have been more comfortable disrupting, playing like that. That magazine, tiny tits and cute asses…

AM. So you mentioned that you have been here before, to Edinburgh, and I had a quick Google but the internet obviously doesn’t have everything we want to know on it, have your films been shown here many times before?

BG. I think I came here the first time with James Benning, I think it was ’75 or something like that. I forget what he showed, maybe 8 ½ X 11, which was one of the first longer films he made. 8 ½ X 11 was a thirty minute film, I think it was that. We came and it was fun. Or did we show United States of America, so maybe we showed that, that year or another year. I came alone to the Women’s Event, I think I was showing a short film I made. And Lynda Myles was here, I haven’t seen her yet.

AM. There was a talk for her yesterday

BG. I can’t believe I missed it!

AM. Yeah, there was an event for her, and there are two documentaries being made about her. So there was a talk and a screening of one of the documentaries in progress

BG. So, I think I was showing a movie called Exchanges which unfortunately never got digitised because it faded so much, Anthology Film Archives couldn’t do it. I have the film version, and it is also at the filmmakers co-op. It was shot later than the other ones but I guess the filmstock wasn’t as good. Anyway it was a short film called Exchanges, and it was kind of almost a prototype for Empty Suitcases, and it was image and text, and I think I showed that here in the Women’s Event. It was my film Exchanges, Sally Potter had a short film, La Bohème [Thriller], and a lot of short films.

AM. So a few times

BG. So I came for USA, I came when maybe Benning did 8 ½ X 11, and I came for the Women’s Event with Exchanges. Never any features. I don’t think Empty Suitcases… Cause it was in Berlin, they could have invited it, and there were a few times I contacted them and they didn’t invite me.

AM. Well, that was their loss

BG. I think all the work that I have done… Luminous Motion is a fantastic film, based on a book… I think all my films are a little bit ahead of their time.

AM. Are you glad for it to be still showing now, and that everyone is appreciating it? Or do you think, “I wish we were beyond this”?

BG. Both. I’m in the trenches, hoping to have a new film off the ground, that I am going to shoot next summer in Iceland. I’m very excited about that, so that is driving me more. What I do care about is that after I’m gone what will remain is a body of work. And I’m hoping that the entire body of work will be seen, and that Variety will make sure, that Variety will take care, it needs to take care of everything else. It will bring people, even if it is the most well-known. It always pains me that people always want to go back. Like Marty Scorsese says, “I’m not talking about Mean Streets anymore”. But Mean Streets – it’s so good. So you can’t not have that, but you also want people to use Variety more to examine why each film that I have made since, in some way, has a lot in common with Variety. They all have an element of road movie. Even with Variety, when she follows him, there is this sequence where they go to Asbury Park. Luminous Motion is a mother and son live in their car, and they are basically on the highways, in motels etc. until one day the car crashes. And Handsome Harry is about this rediscovery of a betrayal, and what happened back then. The Drowning too… They’re all so reflective, and they are visually. They are all conscious of how they are showing what they are showing, maybe not as much as Variety or the other ones, but it is there.

AM. You could almost watch Variety as an essay film even

BG. Yeah. Yeah.

AM. Just to end then, that film in Iceland, I read that you planned to make it on an iPhone, is that still the case?

BG. I would never make a film on an iPhone! Well, maybe a small film, but not this film in Iceland.

- Alasdair MacRae
EIFF23: Interview with Your Fat Friend director Jeanie Finlay

After winning the Audience Award at Sheffield Doc Fest Your Fat Friend is showing as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Ahead of the film’s screening I got to chat to director Jeanie Finlay.

SYNOPSIS: Aubrey Gordon, writes anonymously as "Your Fat Friend" about what it means to be a very fat woman in the world. Her searingly honest writing describes in intimate, humorous and unflinching detail what it’s like to be that fat person on the plane, and how the fantasies, peddled by a diet and wellness industry worth $26 billion a year, are on a par with the lies that Big Tobacco told the public in the 1950s.

Filmed over 6 years, we follow Aubrey’s rise from anonymous blogger to best selling author and co-host of one of the biggest podcasts in the world and public figure. Charting how it feels to live in a very fat body, and the pain and triumph of trying to change your family... and a world where you just don’t fit.

AM. I’ve read that the film took about 6 years to come together, at what point in that journey did you figure out that the core of the film was going to be the dichotomy of Aubrey’s successful public work and her struggle to make the progress she wants in her private circle?

JF. I guess in documentaries you always sort of write the film in the edit, and I work very collaboratively with my editor Alice Powell. But just rewinding a bit, the very first time I met Aubrey - I originally asked her to just write a voiceover for an essay film about fatness I was making - and then as soon as I met her I abandoned the whole previous year’s work, and just went “Oh you’re the film!”. And part of that was this deeply engaging and emotional writing that really came from her. She just seemed to have a different voice when she was anonymous. I got her to read out the first piece that she wrote, and she used this different voice, and then she talked sort of vaguely about her parents. When I went back a few months later I met her mum and her dad, on separate [occasions]. And her dad couldn’t even use the word “fat”. He really struggled to say “fat”, and he didn’t read any of her work, and I thought this is really fascinating. On the one hand you have got someone who is really personable, easy to talk to, funny – they all have this great sense of humour, but her parents are both at very different places, and for me that space in between that is where the film lies. I had a sense then that that was the film, because that was somewhere to go. What does it mean to have a massive ambition of changing the world and having that deep audience connection that means that you actually do, versus can you have the messy conversations with the people that live in your house? Cause often the cry is coming from inside the house. And these are the most challenging conversations to have. Being fat is the number one reason children are bullied. Often it is the parents putting their kids on diets because they are scared of their children getting bullied. And they are sending them off on a journey that might lead to lifelong yoyo dieting or a mental health toll.

So quite early on… I had no idea that Aubrey’s writing was going to take off in the way that is did. Her podcast just hit 55 million downloads, she has a global audience. So it seemed even clearer to me. I mean she is getting recognised in public, by voice or even visibly now. What does that mean for her family? Cause there is an assumption there that things are sorted, but she is still doing the work. I think she says in the film: “I get all these emails from all these people asking how do I do it? And I don’t know cause I am still in it”. That felt really resonant to me, that notion.

AM. So I have been watching a lot of your previous work. And throughout your journey, you’ve grown into your documentaries more and more, we hear more from you, is that something that has been a conscious decision – that you have wanted to put more of yourself in?

JF. The first two films I made you don’t hear my voice at all, at that point as a baby filmmaker and as an artist for many years – when you’re an artist the idea of the artist’s voice is that it is inherent in the work, and so I really sort of believed that when I first started making films. When I made Sound it Out, it felt like quite a turning point for me. I crowdfunded the film, it was about my home, it was about growing up in the North East as an outsider and finding a bunch of outsiders, and finding community through music. In one sense it is a pragmatic thing and they are asking questions. It sort of felt important because these interactions are happening because I am there, at that moment, with a camera. And so now I really lean into that. This is about our chemistry, our relationship. It is about the relationship I have built up with Aubrey over 6 years, and with her family, and the non-binary consent that we have brought to the filmmaking. Those things are different than if you just show up and just hoist a camera it is a very different relationship. It feels like an honesty in voicing that, and being visible. There is a point in Your Fat Friend when Pam, Aubrey’s mum, is standing in the kitchen, and she’s thinking, she’s been going through it, and she says, “There is something about having a camera going”. So it is just me filming, and you see my zoom, and you see my focus. And I could cut round that, but I have kept it in on purpose so you can show that ‘this is happening right now!’. I want it to feel intimate, that the audience is there with me, ‘look at what happened cause I was there!’. So I keep those little camera movements in on purpose to show you where my eye was looking, does that make sense?

AM. That makes perfect sense!

JF. It’s now much more mindful. So, I’ve just done a press interview and they said, “We’re going to cut out the interviewer’s voice, so give full answers”. And I used to do that, say “Can you try and put the question in the answer?”. Real human beings don’t speak like that, and so if I keep my voice in it, then it allows people to be much more relaxed.

AM. So in the film [Your Fat Friend] you are invited into quite a private space, inside this family unit, and you ask something that changes their relationship a little bit, it sparks this conversation that they have – how did it feel for you as a filmmaker to be inside this family space, to change something?

JF. It felt immense. Aubrey’s mum, Pam, is an incredibly thoughtful and generous person who thinks carefully. If you ask her how she is, she doesn’t go, “I’m fine, I’m fine”. She really gives things a lot of thought and the generosity of her to be aware of what is going on and for that to have an impact, felt really amazing. Normally that stuff happens when the film is done. It’s done, it is out in the world and people have time for things to settle. Sometimes making a film is like throwing a stone into a lake and the sometimes ripples are bigger than others. I don’t believe in fly-on-the-wall filmmaking, I’m too tall! You know, I’m present. Of course it has an impact on people. It would be disingenuous to ignore it, it’s unethical.

AM. Unethical to ignore it?

JF. Unethical to ignore the role that documentary filmmaking can play in people’s lives. I also think, in terms of that, the collaborative process I had with Aubrey, she’s not a dummy, she’s using the film. I think that the film was an opportunity to have a conversation that is much more difficult to say out loud with her family. The film is a vehicle for a tricky conversation, albeit on a much bigger platform. I have noticed that’s what happens. I was here at the festival in 2013 with The Great Hip Hop Hoax, and when I was making that film the boys didn’t talk to each other at all, they talked to me. And then they re-united after the film.

AM. Oh really?

JF. Yeah they played at the party here. They re-united, they both came to America for the film premiere at SXSW, and we had Silibil’ N’ Brains rapping at the film party. Yeah, the film became an opportunity for reconciliation.

AM. That’s really cool.

Across all of your films, you manage to get people who feel quite vulnerable to open up and share quite a lot with you. It is one of the nicest things about watching a lot of your films. How do you manage to get people to feel comfortable with you and to share something quite private and intimate with you?

JF. I don’t know. I guess I spent a lot of time with people, and Your Fat Friend is my ninth feature film, and I have shown with my previous feature films that I want people to recognise themselves, and not feel foolish for having taken part. And I’m very protective of people’s stories, I think that earns me a lot of trust. Saying that, some people just jump into being in a film. I have no idea what I have done before, and they just take it on completely face value, and they trust me, and I don’t know why. But I try. It is a big responsibility, and I guard it very sensitively. It is my job to make sure that everyone who has taken part in the film, but also those that have trusted me with their money, are happy with the film. And that I can live with it. I want to make films I can live with. That I love like my children. But in terms of getting people to open up… I think that when I was an artist for many years I was desperate to tell stories, and I found it really frustrating, that it was a hard thing to do. When I started making films, I just thought ‘Oh my God, I’ve found the thing I’m meant to do!’. I think I’m meant to be a documentary maker. I think I’m good at getting people to talk to me. It sounds arrogant to own what you’re good at, but I know that this is what I am good at.

AM. But it is true!

JF. But it took me a long time to learn that. I think that is because of the people I choose to focus on. I don’t like show-offs. I don’t mind loud people, but I’m always asking, why are they so loud? So I ask a lot of small gentle questions, and I allow people to come to me. We go on a little walk, psychologically. We go on a little meander. Sometimes there are things that I want them to talk about, but often if you are listening you get a million other things that you are not even looking for. It is like going foraging in the woods, you don’t know what you are going to find. But you have got to listen. I used to write all my questions down, but I don’t write them down anymore because I am listening to what people say. It doesn’t mean that I haven’t done a fuckload of preparation. I do all my prep.

AM. A lot of your films are available right now on the platform True Story [in the UK], and in America on the Criterion Channel, how does it feel to have the breadth of your work be so accessible for everyone to see?

JF. It’s beautiful. It’s really interesting actually. I sort of feel like I have been holed away in Nottingham just making my films. It’s a cheap place to live, it doesn’t have a film community, it is just a few people based in an amazing cinema, The Broadway Cinema. I just get on and make the work. I usually have one in development, one on the road, one that I am actively making – so at the moment I am making a film, I’m a year in. So having retrospectives is a real opportunity for people to connect the dots and see the things that I wasn’t necessarily thinking about. I want to have a discovery on every project, and I thought there would be a point where I don’t want to make films anymore, and I really still do. Next week, I am going to New Mexico. I got a Chicken and Egg award at the beginning of the year, and part of that is unrestricted funds that you can spend on anything. I want to keep learning, so I am going to the University of New Mexico to hang out at the lab. The DP that shot Your Fat Friend and Orion, Stewart Copeland, is a professor of visual animation there. So I am going to learn the ways that new technology is shaping the way that we create imagery. To learn new skills.

AM. What do you mean by the way new technology is shaping imagery?

JF. They are doing a lot of 3D printing and projection mapping. You don’t know what you don’t know. I want to have new skills in my arsenal. And just go and stand in the desert and get weird. It’s just good to be uncomfortable. I could just sit at home and remake the same film over and over again but I don’t want to do that. On Your Fat Friend I was really thinking about how to make images and how to marry this casual intimacy of observation that is just me and the person, and all the camera moves. Then to also have these heightened visual moments, you know, naked ladies in the woods, and delving a camera underneath the water. Really live and sit with the work. Making Your Fat Friend - I don’t know if you have ever been to Oregon, but it rains all of the time. There are these mountains that are carved from this Pacific North West rain. Aubrey writes about anti-fatness being the river that we swim in every day, and I kept thinking about the way that water wears away at the body. And that the people in Oregon look like, I don’t know, like they have been in the river a bit. That it has had an effect on them. So I kept thinking about that with Aubrey, so we put her in a bunch of pools that made her look like a mountain range, and hired the swimming pool that she trained in as a kid. I want to push myself on every project.

AM. I attended the talk that you did with Paul Sng at Glasgow Film Festival, and you spoke about the myth that everything has to be London centric in the UK, and that you are not there but making all these great films. I know you mentioned Nottingham before but I wondered if you wanted to say any more about that?

JF. We’re at a very precarious time with independent documentary at the moment. Funding has never been more difficult to raise. The rise of the streamers, the pandemic, the long tail of Brexit. It is all having a toll on people, and it is decimating funding. It is making it more difficult. DCMS are researching at the moment, and people like Doc Society are listening, and the thing that is heartening is that independent documentary does get money. People like Doc Society are absolutely integral in the UK. Because I want the stories that see and hear to be made by people that reflect the diversity of the UK, not just the people that I met when I got into film - private educated, mainly men, deeply privileged people that had never set foot out of London, who would ask the most inept questions about Nottingham. They would assume it was the North when it is in fact the Midlands. There is a lot of push for diversity in this country but I would like the diversity to also expand to regional representation and class. I think class is a difficult conversation for people in this country to have. You have seen my films, I like having messy conversations about things that make us feel uncomfortable, like trans issues. It is important to have those messy conversations cause change is slow. But making films in Nottingham is great. What I am trying to do at the moment is nurture more regional talent. There is a big talent drain to London so I am trying to spot people before they leave. It is only like 1% of feature doc production in the whole of the UK happens in the Midlands, and that includes Birmingham! And to be honest I think a lot of it is me. That is not right.

- Darren Tilby
Grimmfest Announce Full 2023 Lineup

Grimmfest, Manchester's International Festival of Fantastic Film, are delighted to announce their full feature film lineup for 2023. The festival will be returning to regular venue the Odeon Great Northern in Manchester on October 6-8 to showcase the best in genre cinema.

Never screened outside of Japan, and believed lost for nearly 30 years, Banmei Takahashi's 1988 classic, DOOR, combines deadpan domestic comedy, chilling stalker thriller and baroquely bloody home invasion horror. It finally had its international premiere at BIFAN in South Korea in July, and Grimmfest are delighted to be hosting the first UK screening.

Kenichi Ugana's LOVE WILL TEAR US APART encompasses dark and deadly romance, satiric slasher movie, psychological thriller and even some martial arts mayhem. Grimmfest is delighted to be hosting the UK premiere in Manchester, birthplace of Joy Division, whose music inspired the film's title.

Mikhail Red's Filipino psychological thriller DELETER (UK premiere) follows an overworked, emotionally and morally detached internet content moderator, haunted by her own repressed memories, and by the suicide of a co-worker, who starts to fear she is being by something more supernatural.

OBJECTION / GIVE ME AN A (UK premiere) responds to the recent overturning of Roe v Wade in the US. Conceived and co-ordinated by Natasha Halevi, it comprises 16 short pieces in which various female filmmakers and writers react to this assault on their rights.

Loosely inspired by Jenna Kanell's own experiences of abuse and harassment following her appearance in the first TERRIFIER film, Raymond Wood's FACELESS AFTER DARK (regional premiere), co-written by Kanell, deftly balances splatter, satire, vicarious vengeance and metacinematic mischief to offer a pointed critique of some of the more questionable aspects of the horror genre.

In Nicholas Tomnay's WHAT YOU WISH FOR (regional premiere), Nick Stahl plays a down-on-his-luck chef fleeing gambling debts who assumes the identity of a dead friend, only to realise that he has, quite literally, bitten off more than he can chew.

Gerry Anderson meets Philip K. Dick in Evan Marlowe's ABRUPTIO (English premiere). Entirely enacted by lifelike latex puppets, it features human bombs, social collapse and an alien invasion.

Miguel Azurmendi’s debut feature, KERATYNA (UK premiere) offers a surreal spin on REAR WINDOW for the age of the internet incel – a slow-burning psychological thriller invoking David Icke-style conspiracy theories.

EVIL EYE (regional premiere) sees Mexican maestro Isaac Ezban (THE SIMILARS, THE INCIDENT) moving away from the Twilight Zone sci-fi strangeness of his previous films and into full-blooded Latin American Gothic. Two young sisters are sent to stay with their sinister grandmother, who, they gradually start to suspect, might be a witch.

A search for her own murky origins as a product of the infamous “Lebensborn” Project leads a young nurse into a confrontation with Nazi Eugenics, Nordic-Teutonic folklore, and witchcraft, in Marie Alice Wolfszahn's MOTHER SUPERIOR (English premiere), a subversively female-focused repurposing of classic 1970s-style Euro-horror tropes.

Tamae Garateguy's AUXILIO (UK premiere) puts a spin on the notorious nunsploitation subgenre, conjuring vengeful ghosts, religious hypocrisy, political intrigues and family guilt.

Jenn Wexler's THE SACRIFICE GAME (regional premiere) reinvents several classic genre tropes: home-invading Satanist psychos, sinister girls' boarding schools, and alienated, victimised teens with dark secrets.

Quarxx's PANDEMONIUM (regional premiere) presents an existential nightmare journey into the various hells of other people, drawing on cinematic and literary references ranging from Sartre to Angela Carter and Lovecraft to Lars Von Trier.

In Caya Casas' THE COFFEE TABLE (UK premiere), a hapless husband's desire to assert himself against his overbearing wife by buying a singularly hideous table unleashes a nightmarish chain of events that will destroy not only the couple themselves, but all of those around them. This is a film that will shake even the most hardened of genre fans.

In Travis Greene's 8 FOUND DEAD (UK premiere), various characters find themselves unexpectedly double-booked at their AirBnB accommodation and facing an uncomfortable night with a decidedly sinister elderly couple, across three separate timelines.

Acting co-director Leonie Rowland says: “The horror we are showcasing this year is interior, intelligent, engaged and explosive. It delights in the genre as much as it bends and redefines it. We are so proud of our 2023 lineup and so excited to share it with you all.”

The full screening schedule, along with details of the shorts programmes, festival guests and other events, will be released soon.

A full synopsis of all films is available at

Full festival passes are available now at

- Alasdair MacRae
EIFF23: Interview with Silent Roar director Johnny Barrington

This morning I spoke to filmmaker Johnny Barrington ahead of the World Premiere of his stunning debut feature Silent Roar, dubbed “A teenage tale of surfing, sex and hellfire set in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides.”

SYNOPSIS: On the island of Lewis, Scotland, Dondo, a young surfer, refuses to accept the death of his fisherman dad, despite being missing at sea for over a year. Unlike quiet and dreamy Dondo, his clever classmate Sas, is never afraid of rubbing people up the wrong way. Dondo and Sas’ unlikely bond will help them find their path in their rural community, through waves, beliefs, and hellfire.

AM. Congratulations! Your debut film Silent Roar is having its world premiere tonight as the opening film of the 2023 Edinburgh Film Festival, you have six sold-out screenings across today and tomorrow, how do you feel?

JB. A bit numb.

AM. Numb?

JB. It’s very exciting to be told that but it has still not sunk in. It feels quite surreal. Just need to pace myself.

AM. Are you excited to hear what an audience thinks about it?

JB. Yeah, that’s pretty much the main thing that I am thinking about. I would love to be a fly on the wall in the big screenings and watch people’s reactions.

AM. If we were to watch your short films back – Trout, Terra Firma, Tumult – it might be easy to assume from the outside perspective that you had a linear path to here, but it is never normally the case, so could you describe how you got to here?

JB. Well, my last year at art school my camera got stolen, and with the insurance money I bought a video camera instead. I very quickly latched onto this idea of how exciting it would be to make feature films with narrative, genuine narrative, spoken word, music, movement, and photography all rolled into one thing. From that point on everything I did was aiming at that, even if it might not appear to be. There was quite a lot of years working as a photographer or as a joiner and staring at plasterboard walls for quite a while but it was all part-and-parcel of getting to this point here and now.

AM. So you are a Scottish filmmaker working in Scotland making a film about Scottish people in Scotland, what has that process been like? Have you had to think a lot about what shape your film has to have, or whether or not your film has to avoid certain stereotypes?

JB. I quite like leaning into clichés. And fucking about with tropes. There’s a lot of different Scotlands out there. I just want to play around with ideas and not think too hard about whether I am representing something correctly or incorrectly. I would rather place the emphasis on emotion and idiocy.

AM. Colour is hugely important in the film – the blues, pinks, yellows, and browns – a lot of that is part of shooting it on 16mm. Can you talk about the importance of the decision to shoot on film?

JB. When you shoot on digital it is not just the image, it is the time. You can squeeze actors like sponges on digital and not realise that you are doing it. Kind of rinsing them, emotionally. When you shoot on film you have got less takes, you have got less time, and people seem to condense their energy better when you shoot on film. That’s something that is hard to explain when you haven’t been on a film set, but when you have got a digital camera that can sort of just roll and roll and roll, it is like the cart gets in front of the horse. But who wouldn’t want to shoot on film? What’s not to love?

AM. Well, people like different textures I guess

JB. During lockdown, I got really into looking at footage on YouTube that was originated on film, obviously it had been digitised. I have an emotional connection to a slightly shaky image, it’s all sentimental stuff, but I quite like sentiment. At the start of my work, I worked for a long time on film. For me, it is not like I grew up shooting digitally and then thought, ‘oh I wonder what film is like?’, it is much more like ‘I would like to put on my old school clothes and start again’. It is also the fact that it is a high school movie, based on my high school years in the mid-90s, and that was a time before digital photography took off. When I was at high school mobile phones didn’t exist.

AM. Where there any decisions you had to make with shooting scenes outdoors with the Scottish weather?

JB. Yeah, there was a massive amount of weather variation. We shot the film in two sections – winter and late summer, although the film is meant to be mid-summer. That just adds to the schizoid light that you get on Lewis anyway, it just made the visuals more nutty. I’m okay with that, I don’t mind if the cloud blocks the sun on one shot then is glaringly bright in the next.

AM. How was the shooting schedule?

JB. The shooting schedule is always tight, it is always a rush. But we had some great times. A lot of the shoot was outdoors, a lot of it was at sea, and not only that a lot of it was in the sea. I just have to doff my cap at the cast and crew for putting up with it.

AM. What does shooting in the sea look like?

JB. The underwater cinematographer, John Frank, he really went off and just got on with it himself, we were shooting other scenes at the same time. I had to stick with the actors and trust John, and what he got was amazing. And above the water, Ruben Woodin Dechamps [cinematographer], we were experimenting with different mechanisms for shooting dialogue scenes when the actors are sitting on surfboards. It is unbelievably tricky, sound-wise and picture-wise - to keep them steady, amongst all the interrupting noises, and water slapping on the sides of hulls. It was a stiff challenge for all sorts of reasons.

AM. The soundtrack is wonderful, by Hannah Peel, can you talk about your creative process and working with her?

JB. It was amazing working with Hannah Peel. I knew from quite early on that I really wanted to work with a composer who could straddle classical score, scoring for orchestras and choir, and make electronic, synthesised sound as well. She had quite a job on her hands corralling all these different musical elements, there’s two different choirs, an orchestra, individual musicians on trombones – an absolute avalanche of different emotions which is what I was after. I loved working with Hannah. I would have to fly over to Northern Ireland to work with her there in her studio, and then she came to Glasgow and we got a choir from Edinburgh, and a lot of musicians from the RSNO, and we recorded them over three or four days, and that was bliss. I would love to do that again. It enriches… it is more than just enrich, it IS the film! If you were blind you may be able to enjoy the film, with a bit of guidance.

AM. Is that something you have thought about before?

JB. I haven’t really thought about it. I guess you’d have to receive a bit of explanation of the geography and layout, but the texture of peoples’ voices, and the music, and the weather sounds - I’d find that pretty satisfying to listen to.

AM. So what were your influences then filmically? Whether it be visually or tonally?

JB. A heck of a lot of different things. Zabriskie Point. Éric Rohmer, a lot of his stuff. A lot of surfing footage shot on 35mm from back in the 70s and 80s. Sun-drenched imagery that has originated on film was a big influence. Also, a lot of literature, a lot of books, plays.

AM. Any in particular?

JB. There’s a writer called John Moriarty, he’s a kind of mystic philosopher, I discovered him during lockdown. There’s quite a few videos of him telling stories, on YouTube, and one of them is Story of Big Mike, I recommend that. He’s got a way with words that I’ve not come across before, he is very good at talking about human beings’ spiritual connection to the world. And I find what he says very funny as well, funny in a soft, touching, vulnerable way. I felt a vulnerability with him that I love. Also Martin McDonagh plays, some of his early plays, The Cripple of Inishmaan. A lot of short stories, there is another writer called Kevin Barry, again Irish, a lot of his short stories really rattled me – in a good way.

AM. So you mentioned the spirituality element, and in the film you take this surf culture and sort of transcend it into a form of spirituality and play it off against the local Christianity. How did you come to decide that these were going to be the two forces that play off each other in the film?

JB. It kind of just happened without truly deciding it, but it makes sense looking back on it. Quite a strong influence over the story was the death of my father. My dad worked at sea for quite a long part of my childhood, and then he became a minister. So those are two elements really, the sea and the pulpit. The cockpit and the pulpit! And the contrasts between those two areas. Psalm singing on Lewis absolutely raises the hairs on the back of my neck and tears at my soul when I listen to that recital. I’ve been listening to it for years and years, actually, I have got another feature that is even more heavily inspired by Psalm singing. For me, it represents a powerful extreme of faith and belief, and spirituality, and depth of commitment, which I can only stand back and gaze at in awe. And then the surfing, again it is another area of immense commitment and passion, and love, for an activity that transcends the everyday. When I surf, I really feel cleansed. I feel like I have been to the confession box and spilled my beans, and had a good time. There is less shame and guilt obviously. Well, there is a bit of shame and guilt mixed up in surfing, cause you can indulge yourself in it so much that you can just want to check out and just go and surf more and more and more.

AM. Going forward you have said that you want to keep making feature films, do you have any details on any future projects, and are any of them likely to be set in Scotland?

JB. I have got a couple of projects. I am very, very grateful to Screen Scotland for helping me out with one of them at the moment, I should have a script ready soon. One of them is set in Scotland, very much set back up on the islands in the Hebrides. The other project is set more between France and Scotland and is contemporary. They are both very different ideas, and I am enjoying working on them both at the moment. One of them will demand my full attention at some point but they complement each other pretty well. I’m desperate to be shooting films. I’m very emotionally churned up to realise that I have actually finally made a feature film. On the last day of the shoot the most pressing thought in my mind was that I would really like to do this again, to make another film, and stay in the saddle.

- Chris Olson
Filmmaker Interview with Patrick Ireland
Filmmaker Interview by Chris Olson Filmmaker Interview with Patrick Ireland

Thanks for speaking with us Patrick. Whereabouts in the world are you right now and what are you up to?

I live in London in the UK. Currently, I'm a Producer at ITV working on their flagship breakfast news show Good Morning Britain. I've also just finished work on my new short film, Ill Fares The Land, which I'm hoping will help me professionally transition into directing drama. We previously reviewed your short film Ill Fares The Land, which we absolutely loved! How do you describe the film to a new audience?

I'm glad you liked it! The tagline we gave Ill Fares The Land was 'mermaids, migrants and the far-right' which I think pretty succinctly sums it up. The film is a fantasy-drama which revolves around a young boy who finds a mermaid washed up on the shores of his seaside home while his older brother is swept up in the rising tide of far-right nationalism.

Ill Fares the Land movie poster

The mermaid essentially acts as a metaphor for a migrant attempting to cross the English Channel (which is obviously a big political talking point at the moment) and the film examines this growing problem of right-wing radicalisation and racism within parts of white working-class England. The film is dealing with some heavy themes. Why did you want to tell this story? I grew up in a seaside town (Herne Bay, Kent) which was very much a white working-class community. Sadly, over the years, I've noticed the rhetoric in these sorts of communities drift further to the right and for racism and xenophobia to become commonplace. Indeed, this is happening everywhere - across not just Britain, but much of Europe and America. Fascism is on the rise again and many of us feel powerless to stop it. With Ill Fares The Land I wanted to make a film which, unflinchingly, depicted this reality as well as ask this question: Is a second fascist era inevitable? Can this new, growing fascism that is devouring community after community be stopped? At its core, the film is my attempt to answer that question. What were the challenges of getting Ill Fares the Land made? Ill Fares The Land was a completely self-funded project, so finding the money to make the film was the first big challenge! I spent years and years squirrelling away money until I was in a position to fund production - from paying cast and crew, to buying props, location fees, to even submitting to film festivals now!

Behind the Scenes - Ill Fares the Land

Aside from budget, the challenge as ever with all independent films is to make something without the machinery and resources of a major studio or production company. Luckily, I was blessed on this film with the best cast and crew I've ever had the pleasure of working with. As cliché as it sounds, every one of them genuinely went above and beyond on this film. Among others, I had the most brilliant cinematographer in Stephen Roach; a first-class editor in Michael Pentney; and the best score for a short I've ever heard (I know I'm biased!) thanks to composer Magdalena Maria Herfurtner. My producers also, Jessica Romagnoli and Annabella Casaburi, were absolutely heroic in fighting the various fires that every new day making a film brings. How had the experiences on your previous shorts (e.g. The Director, Anonymous: A Million Men) impacted the way you made this new film?

Ill Fares The Land is definitely my most ambitious project to date – and also my best! I couldn't have made it in the way we made it without the experience and lessons learnt from my previous films (Anonymous, One in a Million and The Director). With Ill Fares The Land, it almost felt like I had finally learnt how to direct a film!

Behind the Scenes - Ill Fares the Land

That I was able to overcome my ego, my insecurities; that I was able to properly channel my creativity and collaborate completely with the other artists involved. I approached Ill Fares The Land as if it were the last film I was ever going to make and that was quite freeing in a way the others weren't... I guess it was more a state-of-mind type thing, as opposed to something practical. Sorry for getting a little wordy there. Where can people see Ill Fares the Land and your other movies?

You can see all of my previous shorts on either Vimeo or YouTube. The Director (2018): A satirical black comedy about a 'serious' filmmaker's desperate attempts to make a 'serious' documentary on homelessness. One in a Million (2017): Award-winning drama about an autistic teenager who dreams of one day winning the lottery and escaping the shackles of his impoverished seaside hometown. Anonymous: A Million Men (2015): A documentary about the Anonymous movement during the lead up to their 2014 Million Mask March in London. What's next for you?

For now, I'm focused on taking Ill Fares The Land to festivals. I'd love to make a feature-length film some day, so hopefully that's an opportunity that'll arise in the not-too-distant future... Why do you make movies?

I've loved making films ever since I was a kid. My parents bought me a Mini DV camera and I used to make short films in school with my friends when we should've been in lessons! I suppose filmmaking is the ultimate form of escapism - literally creating worlds - and that's what I love about it. From when I was a child, to what I do now, it's essentially always remained the same.

As well as the joy I get out of making films, I also think it's important to document this particular era in history. The films I make tend to have political undertones and that's because we're living through such a significant historical moment, from the climate crisis to the (seeming?) slow collapse of capitalism. Whatever happens, I like the idea that future people will be able to go back to the films of this time (particularly the indies) to be able to get a sense of how everyday people thought/felt about the world and what was happening around them.

Read our review of Ill Fares The Land.

- alexjames96
Last Weekend with Jenny and John Short Film Review


Directed by: #JimmyOlsson

Starring: #MattiasNordkvist and #GryEriksson

Short Film Review by: Alexandra James

Last Weekend with Jenny and John is a short Swedish film that follows a father and daughter on a trip to Motala for a basketball game that daughter Jenny is playing in. The film focuses on their relationship and the changes that have developed as Jenny becomes a teenager and no longer needs her father anymore. Instead, she wishes to be around friends and chooses to spend less and less time with him. Whereas John is struggling to come to terms with this reality and wants to bridge the gap between the two, so arranges a weekend for just them so they can spend some quality time together. In terms of narrative alone, it is simple and clear, we have a loving father and a typical teenage daughter with an average family relationship. However, because of this normality, it’s a relationship with which the audience can fully connect with. The raw emotion between the two, is real and moving, and spells out the truths of becoming a parent and the feelings you experience when you are no longer needed by your child.

Jenny and John created a bond through playing basketball together, it’s clear that this is a sport which her father played a lot with Jenny from a young age, and she has grown to love the game and has now become a part of a team. However, as the match approaches, Jenny mentions that she is thinking of quitting basketball, a statement which clearly affects John emotionally. His daughter is growing up and the quality time they have together is few and far between, Jenny leaving basketball, only distances her further away from her father.

It was easy to see the relationship between the two break down before our eyes. Jenny was oblivious to her father trying to reconnect with her and instead buries her head in her phone and the world of social media and wishes to be around her teammates. At the same time, John refuses to recognise that his daughter is becoming a young woman and needs that independence to gain confidence and learn to stand on her own two feet. Both characters represent very real father and daughter relationships in life. It’s a hard change a parent and child must experience and its often not recognised enough. However, there will always be times that children need the support from their parents, and even parents that need their children. Although there is that moment where the two move away emotionally and physically from one another, that bond will always remain, and it was great that the Last Weekend with Jenny and John reflected that bond so well and highlights the importance of family.

Director Jimmy Olsson creates a beautiful story which shows the highs and lows of being a father and that need to always be the hero in their child’s life and to feel wanted. The cinematography and locations within this short were fantastic, I really enjoyed this piece and highly recommend.

- alexjames96
Pavor Nocturnus Short Film Review


Directed by: #BradCase

Starring: #BrianUstaszewski and #HBGibson

Short Film Review by: Alexandra James

Pavor Nocturnus is a film written by Brad Case, from the book of short stories Elucidation. The short film is a reading of this story and is coupled with nightmarish images and strange, eerie sounds, as well as a mysterious protagonist who is troubled, frightened and haunted by his own thoughts. Pavor Nocturnus is a sleep disorder which goes far beyond your typical nightmare or dream. Instead, those that suffer with the disorder are subject to terrifying visions that become repeated and can often lead to sudden attacks. This is the condition our protagonist suffers with severely, and the story follows his mission to discover the core source of these terrifying nightmares that torment him.

The voice of the narrator was extremely soothing and melancholic, it was easy for the listener to be swept up in the words and become fully immersed within the tale. The viewer becomes eager to learn more about our tormented character and the dreams that leave him so disturbed. The audience were able to envision the characters within the dream so clearly, the woman in white and the house with which she resides in. The words were powerful and created a vivid image in your mind. Just the voice alone was a fantastic addition to the film, there was already a strong mental picture through just the narrators voice which really strengthened the film.

Pavor Nocturnus followed our protagonist in his home, waking from another sleepless night and performing his average morning routine, making coffee and breakfast, and eating at the table alone. There was an effect used which shows everything in black and white except for anything that appeared red. This selective colourisation is a good technique to use when you want the audience to recognise a significant object that is crucial to the storyline. For example, the girl in the red coat in Schindler’s List was an extremely poignant scene that really stirred a strong emotional response from the viewer. Similarly, Spielberg’s horror classic Jaws does not use the colour red for characters costumes or props because he wanted red to be only associated with blood from the shark’s victims so that it would be that much more dramatic when the audience does see it. Pavor Nocturnus should have committed to just the black and white effect throughout to keep with the macabre ambience of the piece and to focus on the gloomy feel of the dreams. The selective colourisation should only be used to highlight a significant recurring image or theme of the film.

There were times that