‘Get Out’ Film Review

(PCM) We can’t come up with enough praise for Jordan Peele’s directorial debut “Get Out” which will be released via Universal Pictures. Peele did a fantastic job with this film which he both wrote and directed. It was an edge-of-your seat thrill ride from beginning to end. While the film’s premise may have stirred up some controversy, it was one of the most brilliant takes on race relations that we have seen.

At no point in time did the film come off in any way as offensive and because of Peele’s background in comedy, being one half of the comedy duo Key & Peele, there was a perfect blend of satire and comedic moments tossed throughout this film as a way to break-up some of the more tension-filled scenes. The pacing was spot-on and at no point did the film drag or feel forced in one particular direction or another to drive the plot forward.

Now that Chris (Daniel Kaluuya, Sicario) and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams, Girls), have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy (Catherine Keener, Captain Phillips) and Dean (Bradley Whitford, The Cabin in the Woods).

At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he could have never imagined.

Equal parts gripping thriller and provocative commentary, Get Out is produced by Blumhouse’s Jason Blum, as well as Sean McKittrick (Donnie Darko, Bad Words), Edward H. Hamm Jr. (Bad Words) and Jordan Peele. The film also stars Caleb Landry Jones (X-Men series), Stephen Root (No Country for Old Men), Milton “Lil Rel” Howery (The Carmichael Show), Betty Gabriel (The Purge: Election Year), Marcus Henderson (Pete’s Dragon) and Lakeith Stanfield (Straight Outta Compton).

When speaking about the production process for various scenes in “Get Out”, Jordan Peele comments, “In one, you’re trying to get a laugh, and in the other, you’re trying to get a scare. It was exciting for me to use everything I’ve learned in comedy for my favorite genre, which is ‘thriller.’”

Peele went on to explain that the idea for the film, “came from my wanting to contribute something to the genres of thriller and horror that was unique to my voice. The fact that it goes to race goes to the area I’ve worked in a lot, which is comedy. This was a movie that reflects real fears of mine and issues that I’ve dealt with before.”

We highly recommend “Get Out” for those who are fans of a solid thriller and can wholeheartedly agree with the critical praises this film has been receiving. You can both watch and listen to our full review of “Get Out” below:


Pop Culture Madness! – “Get Out” Film Review

For additional information on “Get Out” please visit:

Official Site

#GetOut

The post ‘Get Out’ Film Review first appeared on Movie News & Reviews.

‘A Cure For Wellness’ Film Review

(PCM) Gore Verbinski has returned with a masterful tale called, “A Cure for Wellness”. The visionary director hit gold with The Pirates of the Caribbean series including: Dead Man’s Chest (2006) which made the industry record with the highest opening weekend of all time. Gore Verbinski would also introduce fans to the horror hit 2002’s “The Ring”.

Verbinski has returned to the horror genre with his latest film. “A Cure for Wellness” follows the story of an ambitious young business man who is sent to a remote “wellness center” in the Swiss Alps to bring the CEO of the company back home. The young man soon realizes that the treatments at the wellness center are nothing as it seems.

Dane DeHaan (The Amazing Spider- Man 2, Chronicle) portrays the young business man named Lockhart. The character isn’t likable from the very start. DeHaan, does an amazing job portraying a character who is so self-absorbed that he is blind to the occurrences going on around him. This is done by showing Lockhart all about work and not really caring at all about his dying mother, and just having a cold exterior. Audience opinion of the Lockhart character slowly turn as we witness what he goes through to uncover the horrible secrets of the wellness center. Harry Groener portrays Pembroke the embattled CEO that seems to be out of his mind at times when talking to Lockhart. Jason Isaacs plays the mysterious Volmer, who is the facility director. The character of Volmer comes off as charming, but audiences can tell that something is amiss when he first appears onscreen.

Mia Goth portrays Hannah a mysterious girl who hangs around the wellness center. Hannah is shy and doesn’t speak that often. It is blatantly obvious that she knows a little more of what’s going on in the wellness center than other people. Mia Goth does an outstanding job with this role. It can be challenging for an actress to hold her own with two great actors that have more screen time than her, but she nails the performance of Hannah.

The movie is long, with a run time of 146 minutes, that is a lot of time to invest in a film. Verbinski does a good job pacing out the movie to catch the viewers interest. The story was written by Verbinski and Justin Haythe. The story is flawed in a couple areas. In one scene when Lockhart first gets to the wellness center he signs his name at the bottom of a clipboard presuming he’s signing into see a guest. What Lockhart is signing is his consent to stay. In the story, Lockhart is portrayed as a very meticulous person. Yet he does not read what he is signing.

The film is set in present day, but has a feel like it was set decades ago. The set designs for the wellness center are amazing and gives it an extra special creepy feeling. The team of Bojan Bazelli, and Verbinski, work marvels together. They first worked together on The Ring 15 years ago, and the two prove they can shoot a marvelous film that combines ambiance and horror. If you are squeamish you might be hard pressed to watch this film. This film features eels in all their wiggly glory. There’s eels in a bathtub, a pool, and a sensory deprivation tank to name a few.

20th Century Fox took a big chance with this film, but it looks like they hired the right man for the job. When first viewing the trailer many fans will see similarities between “Shutter Island”, but upon viewing the film “A Cure For Wellness” stands on its own.

The post ‘A Cure For Wellness’ Film Review first appeared on Movie News & Reviews.

‘Logan’ Film Review

(PCM) There are two words that come immediately to mind when trying to sum up the 20th Century Fox/Marvel film “Logan” and they are gruesome and heart-wrenching, and of course we can throw some bloody and disgusting in there for good measure. The film certainly earned it’s “R” rating from the MPAA, however we are absolutely loving the grittier and edgier side to the Marvel film universe. It is like a breath of fresh air with it’s rawness and nothing felt at all forced. The edge was delivered ten-fold with “Logan”.

The film’s premise is as follows: It’s 2029. Mutants are gone—or very nearly so. An isolated, despondent Logan (Hugh Jackman) is drinking his days away in a hideout on a remote stretch of the Mexican border, picking up petty cash as a driver for hire. His companions in exile are the outcast Caliban (Stephen Merchant) and an ailing Professor X (Patrick Stewart), whose singular mind is plagued by worsening seizures. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy abruptly end when a mysterious woman appears with an urgent request—that Logan shepherd an extraordinary young girl (Dafne Keen) to safety. Soon, the claws come out as Logan must face off against dark forces and a villain from his own past on a live-or-die mission, one that will set the time-worn warrior on a path toward fulfilling his destiny.

“Logan” stars Hugh Jackman in the title role, alongside Patrick Stewart (X-Men: Days of Future Past), Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant and newcomer Dafne Keen. The film is directed by James Mangold (Walk the Line, The Wolverine); produced by Hutch Parker, Simon Kinberg and Lauren Shuler Donner; and distributed by 20th Century Fox.

“Logan” has definitely been our favorite film in the X-Men film franchise thus far and Jackman’s performance was nothing short of brilliant. The standalone film marks Jackman’s last time portraying the iconic character of Wolverine on the big screen and he certainly went out with a bang. When speaking about the role Jackman says, “We wanted something that would feel very different, very fresh and ultimately something very human because it seems to me that the strength of X-Men and the strength of Wolverine is more his humanity than his superpower. In exploring this character for the last time, I wanted to get to the heart of who that human was, more than what his claws can do.”

We also can’t give enough praise to work of young actress Dafne Keen in this film. She was absolutely incredible and “Logan” marks her feature film debut. It is hard to imagine the range of emotions she must have had to go through while on-set and her performance shines throughout the entire film. You can listen to our full review of “Logan” here!


Pop Culture Madness! – “Logan” Film Review

For more information about “Logan” please visit:

Official Site: http://logan.movie

Instagram: www.instagram.com/wponx/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheWolverineMovie/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WolverineMovie

Hashtag: #Logan

The post ‘Logan’ Film Review first appeared on Movie News & Reviews.

‘The Lego Batman Movie’ Review

(AOTN) Building off the success of 2014’s The Lego MovieThe Lego Batman Movie perfectly follows its predecessor, adding an exciting chapter to the Lego cinematic universe in a fully satisfying and fun way.  The Lego Batman Movie essentially is constructed of self referential humor and dialogue poking fun at all previous Batman films that have come before it.  For any Batman fan this will be welcomed with full glee.  While poking fun at the films and television series that came before, The Lego Batman Movie does it in a non-cynical way- paying homage to the installments that came before.  After last years Batman V. Superman and his brief cameo in The Suicide Squad, it’s great to come out of a Batman movie both happy, entertained, and relieved they didn’t fu*k up another Batman movie.

It’s been three long years since Lego Batman, voiced brilliantly by Will Arnett, graced audiences with his standout performance in the original Lego Movie.  In that time he’s continued to fight crime in Gotham City- working alone of course.  After stopping another plot to destroy the city by The Joker (Zach Galifianakis), Batman is forced to reveal that The Joker is not very important to him in his life.  The Joker is rightfully upset after thinking they had great hero-villain chemistry.  This sets up the entire film as both Batman and The Joker are forced to look within themselves and discover whether or not they truly need each other.  While this is the underlying plot of the movie, lots of crazy action happens, things blow up, jokes are rattled off at exuberant speeds, at heart this is still a kids movie.

Using the Batman-Joker dynamic as the backdrop, The Lego Batman movie does an amazing job bringing together elements from the entire Batman sandbox.  There is a lot the filmmakers had to play with-and they certainly take advantage of Batman’s rich and goofy history.  The film itself references everything from the 1940’s Batman Serials, Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy to the most recent BVS and Suicide Squad.  No character from Batman’s history is too obscure for references either- I’m looking at you Polka-Dot Man (a real DC Comics villain who first appeared in the groovy 1962).  The thing that really stands out is the movies ability to poke fun of Batman and his cinematic and televion history, but in a respectful manner.  It’s easy to be cynical (especially the way the DCU has begun) but The Lego Batman Movie partakes in none of that.  The movie respects the material and it comes through in the final product.

On many levels, The Lego Batman Movie explores the character of Batman better than any previous installment.  Certainly taking a serious character and adding levity to situations allows room for self referential and self awareness that truly explores the main characters in a way we’ve never seen (at least on screen).  Robin (Michael Cera) and Batman’s relationship is explored and analyzed just as Batman and The Jokers dynamic.  Giving room for spoof, allowed The Lego Batman Movie to peel back the level of mystic and show each characters personality traits and how each character in the Batman universe feed off and need each another.

Lego Batman feels like one giant easter egg.  Not only does every scene have a joke every 10 seconds with action happening all around- there are a ton minor details that are hard to catch on one viewing!  It’s hard to keep up with JUST how much Batman they put into this iteration of Batman.  Having said that, Warner Brothers doesn’t just stop with characters from the world of Batman but also their back-catolouge of characters including but not limited to King Kong, The Eye of Soron and Lord Voldemort.  Now at first I was a bit pessimistically curious why they would put these non-Batman characters, but it works.  It adds a new dynamic between Batman and his plethora of villains in a satisfying way.

Although Lego Batman is a kids flick, it works for adults.  While the themes aren’t as rich or complex as the themes tackled in the first Lego Movie, there is enough to keep the parents occupied.  Maybe non-Batman or superhero parents may find it tough to sit through, overall I think a vast majority of audiences will find The Lego Batman Movie an enjoyable watch.  The visuals are stunning and the star-studded cast of voice actors do an amazing job coming together to construct a well-balanced movie that moves at a rapid pace.

The Lego Batman Movie is now playing in theaters nationwide and stars Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Jenny Slate, and way too many other legends to name.

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’50 Shades Darker’ Review

It’s not a popular opinion to have, but I’ll say it: I “liked” ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. Not as in a genuine enjoyment or giving it a place in any cinematic “best of” list, but as a guilty pleasure with more emphasis on the “pleasure.” Two Valentine’s ago, intrigued enough by the marketing and the whole controversial phenomenon, I decided to give Sam Taylor-Johnson’s adaptation of E.L. James’ infamous “contribution to literature” a fair shot and found more to admire than to write off (and this is coming from someone who gave up on the book after almost seventy pages because of the infuriating blank slate, aside from literary stereotypes, series protagonist Anastasia Steele comes off as). Taylor-Johnson and screenwriter Kelly Marcel deserve actual credit for taking the ludicrous brunt of James’ writing out, keeping the story to a bare minimum and transforming what is probably the most unneeded and unnecessary book series in modern history and transformed it into a very handsomely designed and decently acted film that never felt bogged down by genuine seriousness.

But it’s been two years since ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and the second film – ‘Fifty Shades Darker’ – has arrived to leave its own mark on the romance genre, the kinky erotica sub-genre and many a couple’s Valentine’s Day tonight. And it is a time where the “woman’s touch” was sorely needed as “Darker”, now under the direction of James Foley (“Glengarry Glen Ross” and “Perfect Strangers”) and screenwriter Niall Leonard (whose connection to E.L. James, I’m sure, was of no consequence whatsoever in getting the job) slowly turned into everything I was worried ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ would turn into, something the original was never in real danger of “hitting”.

It’s less than a month after Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) and her perverse Mr. Rochester (Jamie Dornan) end their peculiar affair and a reunion comes almost instantaneously, with Christian “cornering” her at an art gallery (those who love to accuse Mr. Grey of being a stalker and the poster child for gas lighting and emotional abuse will certainly get their fill from just their first scene together) that, unbeknownst to her, is practically a love letter to her (because these stories always indicate anyone male will harbor some form of attraction for the female hero) and, also almost immediately, Ana and Christian decide to resume their relationship, but still on her terms, a notion that’s positively alien to Christian. But, as the old saying goes, he’s willing to give vanilla the old college try because that’s the kind of effect she has on him. And as the tropes of any romantic story proves, there’s an outside force that threatens to put the rekindled relationship exactly where it was before. This outside force comes in three distinct flavors: Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), Ana’s boss who makes his desires for his secretary evident early on, as does his insistence that he not be ignored, Leila (Bella Heathcote), one of Christian’s former submissives (the emotionally fractured variety of submissive) who spends the entire movie perfecting her “stalker ex” routine past Lifetime standards and, of course, Elena Lincoln (Kim Basinger), the infamous “Mrs. Robinson” who introduced Christian to his “singular tastes” and views anything – or especially anyone – that upends her former lover’s lust and emotional instability as a threat to be extinguished quickly.

To start off, let’s discuss Niall Leonard, screenwriter and, as previously mentioned, original novelist E.L. James’ husband. His screenplay comes off as more earnest in its depiction of his wife’s idea of forbidden relationships and the struggle of a plain Jane taming the soul of her emotionally wounded lover, unlike Kelly Marcel’s adaptation of the first book, which walked a line where being earnest was slight and being self-aware was godlike. And because of the earnest feeling, it’s easier to recognize the absolute ludicrousness of Ms. James’ base ideas. The sincerity is funny. Side-splitting, even, in ways legitimate comedies should take notes on. And James Foley as director tried his damndest, but, as backed up by his earlier film ‘Perfect Stranger’, the tawdry thriller is not a genre that suits his directorial flourishes.

The ‘Fifty Shades’ series will ultimately prove to be a testament to Dakota Johnson’s abilities as a comedienne and actress. Anastasia Steele is a character who shouldn’t work under any circumstance, but Johnson has managed in both films to ferret out several personality traits and nuances that make her transition from virginal student to wanton sex goddess (not the infamous “inner goddess” that was rightfully removed from the previous film) to emotionally fulfilled and controlled adult feel “real” and “relatable.” Jamie Dornan, on the other hand, still seems to hold a slippery grasp of Mr. Grey. The work in this film seemed more authentic than what he had to work with last time (which is crucial when remembering this is the story where we really go into what makes him tick) and he never fails to thrill his intended audience when down to just his birthday suit, but there’s still an uncertainty in his chemistry with Ms. Johnson that sells the legitimacy of Ana and Christian’s romance short. But they still have one more film ahead.

Other returning cast members are little more than service and window dressing that serve more as a reminder of the work they’re capable of, including the little moments with Marcia Gay Harden as Grey’s adopted mother. What is said isn’t meant to be a slight against Ms. Harden, but her appearance in these films is the kind of performance that can be done in sleepwalking. The three biggest additions to the cast don’t fare much better, either, which is actually “impressive” when you consider who’s involved. I haven’t read the original novel, but one would presume if you cast an actress of Kim Basinger’s talent and magnitude as such a critical figure in Christian Grey’s past (let’s not forget, pre-‘Batman”/“L.A. Confidential’, the most iconic role of her career was the art gallery owner who discovers the joy and sorrow of an S&M relationship in Adrian Lyne’s “91⁄2 Weeks”), at least have her be interesting and add to the stakes of the relationship. As Elena Lincoln is done in this film, all Ms. Basinger really gets to do is just glower at the object of her disdain and pout at the object of misguided affection in a genuinely unflattering black dress and pearls.

Eric Johnson seems to always be saddled with the “always the bridesmaid” romantic interest role, as Jack Hyde comes off as a more repulsive version of the Whitney Fordham character he originated in the inaugural season of “Smallville”, albeit with a coarser mouth, as one heated moment between employer and employee escalates into unintentional comedy gold. And as the final scenes of ‘Fifty Shades Darker’ guaranteed, Mr. Johnson will be back to “up the ante,” for better or worse. Bella Heathcote feels like the addition that gets to have the most fun and interesting character (I mean, she does pull a gun on our poor heroine at an inopportune moment), but that come too late into the story to be genuinely effective, not to mention what comes before is an almost trite portrayal of psycho-obsessive love straight out of the “Fatal Attraction” guidebook. The actors, both new and old, are ultimately dictated by classic archetypes and little more.

The people behind the style of the original – Seamus McGarvey on camera, David Wasco on production design and Mark Bridges on costumes – didn’t return back to the ‘Fifty Shades’ world, either (Mr. McGarvey went on to lens Tom Ford’s ‘Nocturnal Animals’ with his previous director’s husband, Mr. Wasco is currently a frontrunner for the Production Design Oscar for Damien Chazelle’s ‘La La Land’ and Mr. Bridges is working with Paul Thomas Anderson again on his currently untitled fashion film), and their replacements – John Schwartzman on camera, Nelson Coates on production design and Shay Cunliffe on costume design – amp up the beautiful sterility of Grey’s Seattle penthouse -and sex dungeon- and even bring some color and intrigue to a masquerade ball where personalities are first destined to collide, but the luxurious feeling that came naturally before feels hollow and forced this time round. Even Danny Elfman, the one major person returning for the sequels, and the film’s soundtrack – now consisting of Taylor Swift, John Legend, Nick Jonas and Nicki Minaj, Halsey and Zayn Malik of One Direction, to name a few – lack the spark that made the original film’s musical contributions so effective. The film’s signature ballad, Swift and Malik’s “I Don’t Want to Live Forever”, is a lovely song on it’s own, but don’t expect it to have the life (or awards possibilities) of The Weeknd’s “Earned It” or Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do”.

And, of course, one cannot review a ‘Fifty Shades’ movie without getting into the nitty-gritty of its portrayal of the characters’ unique (for mainstream cinema; for anyone who’s seen recent films like Lars von Trier’s ‘Nymph()maniac’, Alain Guiraudie’s ‘Stranger by the Lake’ or Park Chan-wook’s ‘The Handmaiden’, the depiction of kink sexuality here will seem restrained, even neutered) sexual behavior. Here is a time I will say Foley manages to outshine Taylor-Johnson. Thanks to what Johnson and Dornan (the chemistry works here, so yay?) and Schwartzman’s camera work bring, the introduction of ben-wa balls (you’ll have to research those yourself) and the return to the infamous “red room” provide little moments of intrigue and flashes of genuine eroticism to get your loved one in a mood or
two.

In the end, what can ultimately be said about ‘Fifty Shades Darker’ is that, like its predecessor, it’s a technically attractive film, but unlike it’s predecessor, puts more of an emphasis on the “guilty” part of “guilty pleasure” and is best saved for its inevitable journey to a discount theater near you around St. Patrick’s Day, if even that courtesy is willingly entertained. We have one more Valentine with the idiosyncratic relationship of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey coming up and a year to see if Foley and his team can allow “Fifty Shades Freed” to end on a good note or let what started out as a commendable franchise end on a whimper.

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A ‘La La Land’ Review From a Person Who Hates Musicals

First things first.  As the title suggests, I absolutely hate musicals.  I know hate is a strong word but I never use it lightly.  Sure I can appreciate the great musicals and I even sang along to Disney movies as a young lad, but over the last 20 years whenever a character begins to break into song and dance my heart sinks.  “Why can’t this character just say what they’re thinking?”  “Why is this happening?”  “Why am I watching this?”  To put it simply “Why?”  I always had a lot of questions regarding musicals and their necessity in popular culture.  That is, until I saw La La Land.  The second directorial effort by the talented filmmaker Damien Chazelle.  Coming off the success of 2014’s Whiplash, expectations for his sophomore film were expectedly high.  La La Land delivers in every way and is a visually and emotionally a unique experience.

La La Land stars Emma Stone as Mia, an aspiring actress who currently works at a coffee shop on the studio lot.  Co-staring with Stone (for the third time) is Ryan Gosling who portrays Sebastian, a jazz pianist who’s inspired by the greats who came before him.  Ultimately Sebastian’s dream is to own his own jazz club to keep the rich history of jazz alive, while Mia seeks stardom and fame.  After a couple chance encounters, Mia and Sebastian begin a relationship, knowing that their desires completely juxtapose each others.  What ensues is a classic romantic comedy steeped with rich vibrant musical numbers that will leave viewers feeling a wide array of emotions, which ultimately consume the heart with joy.

As a person who wants a career in creative endeavors, this movie spoke to me on a level that most will also find solace.  It’s funny, beautiful, engaging, thought provoking, yet heartbreaking in many ways.  Again, I can’t underestimate my distain for musicals, and as soon as the opening number began I thought “Why did I see this”?  I was quickly brought down off my cynical horse and engaged in a somewhat cliched but timeless tale of two people coming together at a time when their lives aren’t YET where they want them to be, but together they both change the course of each others journey in life.  La La Land is a film clearly influenced by other musicals, but rather than ripping them off, Chazelle show his appreciation for these influences and brings them together for a whole new audience, much like a Tarantino flick.

The visuals are the major element (or the only element I could notice) in La La Land where you can really see the influences come to fruition.  It really doesn’t matter if his influences are transparent, Chazelle is trying to hide them.  La La Land is as much a celebration of musicals as it is a love story.  I needed to attend this celebration to turn my cynical mindset of musicals forever, and I am forever grateful I actually gave this film a chance, because looking back on 2016, La La Land is one of my favorite films of the year.  That’s a statement I never thought I’d say, but the talent involved in this film made it possible for an a**hole like myself to be lifted into the magical dream-filled world La La Land represents.  The film shows a story desired by anyone who wants a career in the arts or who has had love creep up in their lives in the most unexpected ways possible.

La La Land is a film to be seen and not talked about.  I could go on for hours about the film, but go see it for yourself.  It doesn’t matter if you love or hate musicals, La La Land has something for everyone.  I couldn’t recommend it more.  It’s a beautiful film and shows the career progression of director Damien Chazelle, who’s next film will have even crazier expectations.  I for one can’t wait to see what this dude will do next.  Oh yeah, Gosling and Stone are absolutely unreliable, and their chemistry is infectious.

La La Land stars Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, and Rosemarie DeWitt and is now playing in theaters nationwide.

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