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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Movie Review: #TheNeonDemon

The uncategorizable The Neon Demon is a daringly visceral experience.

Review by Matt Cummings

In a Summer filled with predictable sequels, a cacophony of explosions, and comedians reduced to farting to bring in the masses, it's entirely possible that some might assume the film year to be a complete loss. And then The Neon Demon arrives ready, able, and willing to blow your mind. The effect is something definitely un-Summer, uncategorizeable in every way, devoid of significant plot, and one of the best experiences of the year.

Bright-eyed and busy-tailed Jesse (a very good Elle Fanning) arrives in Los Angeles from Georgia, ready to make the big time. She has only one asset: her incredible natural looks, which quickly gain the attention of the bisexual make-up artist/moonlighting mortician Ruby (an even better Jena Malone). Jesse instantly becomes the flavor of the month as it were in the L.A. fashion industry, setting her against the status quo of using surgically-enhanced models. Enraged by her almost nubile appearance, two models (Bella Heathcote and Abbey Lee) plot her demise, while a seedy hotel pervert (a terrific Keanu Reeves) makes her home life (and many other unsuspecting girls) incredibly dangerous. As Jesse's success begins to corrupt her, she must decide who can be trusted, all while dark forces plot her violent demise.

The pure insanity of The Neon Demon is hard to defend, especially when Director Nicolas Winding Refn goes out of his way to heap on the trash, including menstrual cycles gone horribly awry, eyeballs as a delicatessen, and necrophilia added in for color. 'Creepy' barely covers what Refn has in store for us, even using glitter and body paint to unique degrees. And yet if you're willing to stick it out, you'll be treated to something remarkable, an erotic cinematic triumph that reminds me of Crimes of Passion or Trance. Demons is more of an experience than just a film, and the sad few who take a chance on it are sure to be divided on its effect. But that's Refn's point: he's here to slap us around with his auteur title while treating us to some of the most memorable (and disturbing) experiences in recent memory.

But the brazen attitude of The Neon Demon also contributes to its many problems. First, its plot is beyond paper thin, acting only as vehicle for Refn to show off ridiculously genius visual talent. Some of the symbolism behind it is also lacking, and the ending - which was apparently made up on the spot - makes little sense. Refn also globs on the message that beauty is both currency and weapon, but with so many gorgeously-shot scenes, I can forgive him for trying to knock us over the head with it. There's also a lot of nonsensical chewing of script, including Reeves in (supposedly) a dream using a knife in ways you shouldn't, and a very visceral raping of a young girl in the apartment next to Jesse's. They're all unrelated, unneeded, and actually bring down the film.

There's lots of reasons why audiences fled our screening - or why our theater was mostly empty to begin with - but it's not because our creative team and actors don't make a supreme effort. Writers Mary Laws and Polly Stenham join Refn to craft some terrific dialogue about the dangers of the LA fashion industry, injecting the actors with just enough great lines to keep the admittedly non-existent plot going. Refn makes Gigi and Sarah look like CG-ed buffoons, drunk with their own success but unprepared for Jesse's supposed wholesomeness to be actually real. Fanning and Malone are simply terrific together and apart, each doing quite enough to imbue their characters with powerful faults and enough darkness to cloud a bright room. There's a transformative scene for Fanning - who was 16 when she made Demon - which probes her Narcissistic side, led by Director of Photography Natasha Braier's absolute command of the digital canvas. There's a bit of bondage here, some lesbian necrophilia, and a ton of other things I hope you will discover for yourself. What I can share is that Composer Cliff Martinez turns in the best score of 2016; his 80's electronics bring back a bit of Miami Vice and mix it with The Matrix into something cool, dark, and intensely erotic. Seriously, this score will probably be used in both dance and bondage bars for the foreseeable future.

But is all of that enough to encourage you to see it? Simply put, summer is the wrong time for The Neon Demon, and I'm sure many will dismiss it as purely fetish/lesbian/murder fare. Its plot is simply a device for Refn's sadomasochistic tendencies to re-emerge, just as they did for Only God Forgives, and there's entire minutes here where no dialogue is present. Guerrilla-style movie making like this will doubt confuse and shock audiences who might not be ready for the sort of brazen sexuality and visuals behind it. But consider that films like these simply aren't made anymore, due to Hollywood's drunkenness over billion-dollar franchises and a diminishing American audience with too much drama and quality television to binge watch. And yet it should be seen. Whether you like the final effect or not, taking a chance by supporting a film like The Neon Demon should be on every cinephile's To-Do list this summer. If not, our movie-going future is doomed to be filled with more predictable summer fast foods and less banquet-styling grandeur.

While The Neon Demon is not for everyone, it can be easily agreed that so much of is quite spectacular. Led by a great cast, exceptional cinematography, and the best soundtrack of the year, it's also the wildest and weirdest ride I've seen in awhile. That support won't garner it long lines at the theater, but it's clearly not concerned with that. It's an experience, not a film, and that will either weird you out or impress the hell out of you.

The Neon Demon is rated R for everything under the sun and has a runtime of 117 minutes.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.
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Friday, June 24, 2016

#LightsOut Trailer Starring @teresapalmer

From producer James Wan (“The Conjuring”) comes a tale of an unknown terror that lurks in the dark. When Rebecca left home, she thought she left her childhood fears behind. Growing up, she was never really sure of what was and wasn’t real when the lights went out…and now her little brother, Martin, is experiencing the same unexplained and terrifying events that had once tested her sanity and threatened her safety. A frightening entity with a mysterious attachment to their mother, Sophie, has reemerged. But this time, as Rebecca gets closer to unlocking the truth, there is no denying that all their lives are in danger…once the lights go out.



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MECHANIC: RESURRECTION Trailer Starring Jason Statham

Arthur Bishop [Jason Statham] returns as the Mechanic in the sequel to the 2011 action thriller. When the deceitful actions of a cunning but beautiful woman [Jessica Alba] force him to return to the life he left behind, Bishop’s life is once again in danger as he has to complete an impossible list of assassinations of the most dangerous men in the world. In theaters August 26, 2016.



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Movie Review: The Shallows

Shark thriller is not so shallow.

Review by Brandon Wolfe

Nancy (Blake Lively) is a young woman attempting to retreat from her life. Off on a sojourn to a far-flung, picturesque corner of Mexico, she is endeavoring to hunt down a beach once visited by her mother while she was pregnant with Nancy, a beach so secretive that the locals are reticent to even tell Nancy its name. Nancy is catching a ride with one such local, attempting to have as much of a conversation as her limited grasp of the Spanish language will allow. He’s going to drop her off at this mystery beach so she can ride a few waves. Her friend bails on her via text due to a massive hangover, meaning she will have to go it alone. When she gets to the beach, strips down to her bikini, grabs her board and paddles out into the water, she encounters a couple of young men, also surfing. They invite her to surf with them.

The Shallows has barely even begun and it already drips with potential danger. Nancy, whom we learn from clumsily inserted exposition via a phone call (that’s some phone if it gets bars on Nowhere Beach, Mexico) with her dad and younger sister, has walked away from medical school after her mother lost her hard-fought battle with cancer, but for a med student, she doesn’t seem terribly bright at first blush. Hitchhiking alone to a remote location with no set way of getting back, surfing without accompaniment, fraternizing with strangers who could do unspeakable things to her with no witnesses, and, finally, remaining out in the water at sundown after her (fortunately, non-rapist) fellow thrill-seekers decide to pack it in, she doesn’t behave like someone fully cognizant of her surroundings and how fraught with peril they are. By the time she’s preyed upon by a massive shark, you’re almost surprised that she even made it far enough for that.


Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, who previously helmed a troika of lowbrow Liam Neeson actioners (one presumes Neeson isn’t starring here so that we aren’t more concerned about the wellbeing of the shark), The Shallows is an effective little number. Nancy attempts to take refuge on the carcass of a dead whale – essentially making her the olive toothpicked atop a sandwich for the shark – before finding a sturdier sanctuary on a nearby rock. She sustains a truly ghastly shark bite to the thigh and cuts up her feet on some coral, leaving her gushing blood into the water. Illustrating that her time in med school wasn’t for naught, she manages to use her necklace to suture the wound, but that only prevents her from bleeding to death. She still needs to find a way to safety, and the thrill of The Shallows is how increasingly harrowing Nancy’s situation grows.

Every opportunity for rescue that presents itself (the appearance of an amoral drunk on the beach; the return of the two surfer guys the following day; a barge on the horizon) is coldly extinguished. Every plan she concocts (awkwardly voiced out loud, to no one in particular) is sound, smart even, but thwarted by circumstance. Putting aside the extreme naiveté that landed her in her predicament, Nancy is a pretty shrewd thinker when her survival instincts kick in. But she can’t catch a break, and it’s a strength of the film that we constantly, palpably, feel the hopelessness of her situation.


The film is essentially a one-woman show for Lively, who does some solid work in what is a deceptively difficult role. This could have merely been an exercise in exploitation (she is wearing a bikini the entire time, after all), but Lively lives up to her surname, making Nancy the proper blend of tough and vulnerable, of resourceful and helpless. She never feels anything less than authentic and makes a remarkably effective Everyman avatar (how she remains functional after 48 hours of blood loss and exposure with no food or water, however, is a question best left unasked). Medical know-how aside, she behaves and thinks like a real person and makes intelligent decisions. In a horror film, that’s always a welcome, and infrequent, development.

The film is structured so efficiently that it’s a major disappointment when Collet-Serra botches the finale. When Nancy decides to take her final stand against the shark, the movie betrays the realism and intelligence it had afforded her character up to that point, culminating in a final action that is completely absurd. The Shallows is such a well-crafted genre excursion for so much of its runtime that it can survive this late-in-the-game miscalculation, but it’s still discouraging that the film couldn’t think of a better denouement. The film will obviously net comparisons to Jaws, as all shark films will until the day the sun extinguishes, but the film has far more in common with 2004’s flyspeck thriller Open Water. In that film, a couple has to grapple with surviving after being abandoned in shark-infested waters. They don’t fare so well. Nancy’s fate will not be revealed here, but the fact that her survival never seems to be assured is another way that The Shallows shows depth.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Brandon Wolfe at @BrandonTheWolfe.



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Thursday, June 23, 2016

John Boyega Joins Kathryn Bigelow Detroit

THR is reporting Star Wars star John Boyega has been cast in Kathryn Bigelow’s untitled Detroit project.

Bigelow is directing the crime drama, her first feature since 2012’s Zero Dark Thirty. It is being financed by Annapurna Pictures and has an original script by her frequent collaborator Mark Boal.

Details of the project are unknown, but the story is set against the backdrop of Detroit’s devastating riots that took place over five summer days in 1967, with the film seeking to explore the systemic racism in the city. The roll call is described as an ensemble piece.

A summer shoot in Detroit and Boston is being planned. Bigelow is producing with Boal, Annapurna’s Megan Ellison and Matthew Budman and Colin Wilson. Greg Shapiro will executive produce.

No studio is attached yet as a distributor, but Bigelow, Ellison and company are eyeing a 2017 release, timed to the 50th anniversary of the riots.

After shooting to international stardom playing Stormtrooper-with-a-conscience Finn in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Boyega currently is shooting the follow-up, Star Wars: Episode VIII. He recently nabbed the lead in Pacific Rim 2 and, in a show of his growing cachet, he also will co-produce the Legendary movie with his business partner Femi Oguns under their joint production company, Upper Room Productions.

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First Look At Squeeks From Transformers: The Last Knight

Not one to resist introducing new characters he can merchandi.... Sorry, have audiences fall in love with, Michael Bay is bringing a brand new Transformer to his latest, The Last Knight. Take a look at Bay and young star Isabela Moner meeting Squeeks.

Nothing is yet known about the new character, aside from the fact he looks like the love child of Tick Tock from Return To Oz and a Vespa. He'll probably be taking over the "charming" role Bumblebee is used to holding, so this little guy had better look out lest, the former occupant of the role douses him petrol and sets him on fire.

So far, the only plot details about the film have been rumours, but we do know that Mark Wahlberg's Cade Yeager and Josh Duhamel's William Lennox are both back along with the robo-regulars and usual baddie Megatron. New arrivals this time include Moner, Anthony Hopkins, Laura Haddock and Jerrod Carmichael.

Transformers: The Last Knight will be out here on June 23 next year, so it's a year and counting. Take that as a promise or a threat.

Source-Empire
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Will Dwayne Johnson Be The Wolf Man?

There have been no effusive posts on his social media accounts, which tends to be how the world receives information about Dwayne Johnson these days, so we're counting this one as a rumour for now. Indeed, that's how Deadline couches it: rumors are that Universal is considering making Johnson the Wolf Man of its new monsters shared cinematic universe.

Mention of Johnson's potentially lupine status was buried in a story about him producing a new comic book adaptation, but more on that in a moment. As for the Wolf Man, the team behind the new monsters films (including Alex Kurtzman and Fast & Furious man Chris Morgan) have been reaching out to big names to star in their films about classic characters, including Tom Cruise (who has been busy meeting The Mummy) and Johnny Depp (on to play the Invisible Man). So Johnson's hardly unsurprising given his current box office appeal, even if it's hard to picture him as hirsute (that rat-tail beard he's sporting as Hobbs in Fast 8 doesn't cut it), and how do you convincingly transform a man who already looks like he's changed into a beast, at least in terms of his muscularity? We'll have to see if this one ever becomes something more than a name on a studio wish list or a fun idea to speculate about.

As for the graphic novel, it's Son Of Shaolin, created by Jay Longino. The title has yet to be published, but apparently concerns a blend of Shaolin mythology with a modern-day story of teenagers growing up in a gentrifying neighbourhood. Sony has snapped up the rights with Longino writing the script and and Johnson is aboard to produce with his Seven Bucks Productions company. He's reportedly not considering making an appearance in any eventual film, but don't rule it out yet.

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Source-Empire
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OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL TRAILER HAS ARRIVED

It was never just a game. Inviting audiences again into the lore of the spirit board, Ouija: Origin of Evil tells a terrifying new tale as the follow-up to 2014’s sleeper hit that opened at number one. In 1965 Los Angeles, a widowed mother and her two daughters add a new stunt to bolster their séance scam business and unwittingly invite authentic evil into their home. When the youngest daughter is overtaken by the merciless spirit, this small family confronts unthinkable fears to save her and send her possessor back to the other side.



See more images after the Jump...




Ouija: Origin of Evil is produced by Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Purge series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Blumhouse Productions’ Jason Blum (The Purge and Insidious series), alongside Hasbro’s Brian Goldner (Transformers and G.I. Joe series) and Stephen Davis (Ouija). Mike Flanagan directs from a screenplay he wrote with his Oculus and Before I Wake collaborator, Jeff Howard, and Universal will distribute the film worldwide

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"Sucker for Pain" Song/Video From Suicide Squad: The Album

The “Sucker for Pain” track by Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa & Imagine Dragons with Logic and Ty Dolla $ign (feat. X-Ambassadors) from Suicide Squad: The Album debuted this morning on YouTube



Those who pre-order the album starting on June 24, http://smarturl.it/SuicideSquad, will receive this track as a bonus. The “Sucker For Pain” video premieres tonight, June 23, on Facebook.com/SuicideSquad. Suicide Squad: The Album releases on Aug. 5.

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New #THENEONDEMON Clip

When aspiring model Jesse moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has.



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MTV's "SCREAM" "Dawn of the Dead" Preview

Tuesday equals TERROR as MTV’s “Scream” moves to its new date and time, Tuesdays at 10:00 PM ET/PT, starting June 28.

Check out this chilling first-look promo for next week’s episode as The Lakewood Six get one step closer to uncovering the murderous mysteries of this killer season.

Watch the clip after the Jump...


Tuesday, June 28 at 10:00 PM ET/PT
The death of a loved one hits hard and GW High goes into lockdown. Suspicions rise among the Lakewood 5 who wonder if it’s all happening again and if one of their own is the Killer. “Scream” stars Carlson Young, Amadeus Serafini, Willa Fitzgerald, John Karna, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Santiago Segura and Kiana Lede.

New airdates:
Tuesday, 6/28 – 205
Tuesday, 7/5 – 206
Tuesday, 7/12 – 207
Tuesday, 7/19 – 208 and “Scream After Dark!” #2
Tuesday, 7/26 – 209
Tuesday, 8/2 – 210
Tuesday, 8/9 – 211
Tuesday, 8/16 – 212 Finale and “Scream After Dark!” #3

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Enter For A Chance To Win Passes To See MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES In ALBUQUERQUE

Enter for a chance to see MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES on June 29th at 7:00 PM in ALBUQUERQUE.


Hard-partying brothers Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave (Zac Efron) place an online ad to find the perfect dates (Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza) for their sister's Hawaiian wedding. Hoping for a wild getaway, the boys instead find themselves outsmarted and out-partied by the uncontrollable duo.



See how to enter after the Jump...

Make sure to LIKE SandwichJohnFilms on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all your entertainment news and to be to notified about our upcoming Advance Screenings. Also make sure to subscribe and download our Podcast

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

DISCLAIMER: ARRIVE EARLY! SEATING IS FIRST-COME, FIRST-SERVED, EXCEPT FOR MEMBERS OF THE PRESS AND STUDIO VIPS. THEATER IS OVERBOOKED TO ENSURE A FULL HOUSE. THEATER IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR SEATING OVER CAPACITY. THIS PASS DOES NOT GUARANTEE ADMISSION.

Duplicate passes will not be accepted.

In theaters July 8, 2016

NO RECORDING

No purchase Necessary

This screening will be monitored for unauthorized recording. By attending, you agree not to bring any audio and/or visual recording device including laptop computers into the theater and you consent to physical search of your belongings and person have against you. Unauthorized recording will be reported to law enforcement and may subject you to criminal and civil liability (including damages up to $150,000). *This includes, by way of example only, smart phones and your belongings and person for such device. If you attempt to enter with a recording device, you will be denied admission. If you attempt to use a recording device* you consent to your Immediate removal from the theater and forfeiture of the device. Unauthorized recording will be reported to law enforcement and may subject you to criminal and civil liability.

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Enter For A Chance To Win Passes To See MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES In Las Vegas

Enter for a chance to see MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES on June 29th at 7:00 PM in Las Vegas


Hard-partying brothers Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave (Zac Efron) place an online ad to find the perfect dates (Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza) for their sister's Hawaiian wedding. Hoping for a wild getaway, the boys instead find themselves outsmarted and out-partied by the uncontrollable duo.



See how to enter after the Jump...

Make sure to LIKE SandwichJohnFilms on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all your entertainment news and to be to notified about our upcoming Advance Screenings. Also make sure to subscribe and download our Podcast

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

DISCLAIMER: ARRIVE EARLY! SEATING IS FIRST-COME, FIRST-SERVED, EXCEPT FOR MEMBERS OF THE PRESS AND STUDIO VIPS. THEATER IS OVERBOOKED TO ENSURE A FULL HOUSE. THEATER IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR SEATING OVER CAPACITY. THIS PASS DOES NOT GUARANTEE ADMISSION.

Duplicate passes will not be accepted.

In theaters July 8, 2016

NO RECORDING

No purchase Necessary

This screening will be monitored for unauthorized recording. By attending, you agree not to bring any audio and/or visual recording device including laptop computers into the theater and you consent to physical search of your belongings and person have against you. Unauthorized recording will be reported to law enforcement and may subject you to criminal and civil liability (including damages up to $150,000). *This includes, by way of example only, smart phones and your belongings and person for such device. If you attempt to enter with a recording device, you will be denied admission. If you attempt to use a recording device* you consent to your Immediate removal from the theater and forfeiture of the device. Unauthorized recording will be reported to law enforcement and may subject you to criminal and civil liability.

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Enter For A Chance To Win Passes To See MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES In PHOENIX

Enter for a chance to see MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES on June 29th at 7:00 PM in PHOENIX.


Hard-partying brothers Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave (Zac Efron) place an online ad to find the perfect dates (Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza) for their sister's Hawaiian wedding. Hoping for a wild getaway, the boys instead find themselves outsmarted and out-partied by the uncontrollable duo.



See how to enter after the Jump...

Make sure to LIKE SandwichJohnFilms on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all your entertainment news and to be to notified about our upcoming Advance Screenings. Also make sure to subscribe and download our Podcast

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

DISCLAIMER: ARRIVE EARLY! SEATING IS FIRST-COME, FIRST-SERVED, EXCEPT FOR MEMBERS OF THE PRESS AND STUDIO VIPS. THEATER IS OVERBOOKED TO ENSURE A FULL HOUSE. THEATER IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR SEATING OVER CAPACITY. THIS PASS DOES NOT GUARANTEE ADMISSION.

Duplicate passes will not be accepted.

In theaters July 8, 2016

NO RECORDING

No purchase Necessary

This screening will be monitored for unauthorized recording. By attending, you agree not to bring any audio and/or visual recording device including laptop computers into the theater and you consent to physical search of your belongings and person have against you. Unauthorized recording will be reported to law enforcement and may subject you to criminal and civil liability (including damages up to $150,000). *This includes, by way of example only, smart phones and your belongings and person for such device. If you attempt to enter with a recording device, you will be denied admission. If you attempt to use a recording device* you consent to your Immediate removal from the theater and forfeiture of the device. Unauthorized recording will be reported to law enforcement and may subject you to criminal and civil liability.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Blu-ray Review: 'Hail, Caesar!'

The latest Coen Brothers' comedy misses the mark but still manages to look and sound great.


Review by Matt Cummings


It goes without saying that The Coen Brothers are probably everyone's favorite independent filmmakers. Who can blame them for spitting out their names in the same breath as today's other fashionable phrases ('whiskey' and 'Bernie' among them). But those who really follow them might say Joel and Ethan Coen are like many of their recent characters: washed up, existing on the credit of their past glories, and doomed to a slow, agonizing death. Their latest Hail, Caesar! is the fourth in a line of duds, doing a pretty good job of turning the mirror on themselves, while the rest of us try to figure out the humor. Luckily, Universal comes prepared with great audio and video, although the Supplements need a lot of post-editing.

The Movie – 3/5
The Hollywood film system of 1951 takes us deep into the daily madness undertaken by Capitol Picture's studio head Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) as he struggles to keep his studio and mental state from cracking. Solving one crisis after another - including an unplanned pregnancy by Scarlett Johansson's twice-divorced chain smoker, a western lead (Alden Ehrenreich) horribly miscast in Director Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes) drawing room drama, and twin gossip columnists (both played by Tilda Swinson) - Mannix also has a personal struggle. He's been courted by Lockheed to head a comfy job and the chance to have dinner every night with his wife.

But soon all of that is superseded by the news that Capitol's lead Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) has disappeared while shooting a Jesus film set in Roman times. We later learn that he's been shuffled off to a Santa Monica beach house filled with disgruntled Hollywood writers who've signed on with the Communist Party and spend their day philosophizing their way through tea sandwiches. Utilizing a top-flight secretary and nerves of steel, Mannix must employ his own actors in a manhunt for the square-jawed buffoon Whitlock before Communists can shuffle him away, all while deciding if this sort of chaotic life is really for him.

Ill-content from the beginning, Hail Caesar! never truly locks in. Like many Coen Brothers films, you wonder what it is that you're watching and seeking the answers long after you've experienced it. That's usually a satisfying journey, but here that effort yields few satisfying results. The real problem with Hail Caesar! is not its exceptional cast or expert camerawork, but the long moments of boredom that grow out of the Coen Brothers' script. They take their immense talents for dark comedy and their exceptional casting prowess and waste it on several arcs that don't affect the bottom line. Several are thrown in as vignettes designed to elicit either laughter or condemnation about the Hollywood film system; but little of it ever truly works. We essentially have a 30-minute film, propped up by several (albeit great) 50's style performances and all those unnecessary arcs. But some of those set pieces, including Channing Tatum's musical/tap-dancing sailor stint, are a sheer delight.

Hail Caesar!'s story is all about Mannix's journey: the daily crisis that's his work and the hilarious guilt over sneaking a few cigarettes to calm his nerves infuriates his priest who tells he confesses too often over too little. Brolin is the center of Capitol's wheel and this film, his steady nerves keeping us awake, and it's great to see him move from one disaster to another. Brolin's particularly good when paired with Clooney near the end, who's really acting with only one half of his immeasurable talent. In O Brother, Where Art Thou, Clooney ran wild, uttering now famous lines that still find their way into my weekly conversations; here, he's just another plot device on Brolin's To-Do list. The rest of the cast too is hilarious one minute and then horribly bored/boring the next. Johansson and Hill aren't needed at all here, and they're not around enough to be of any worth. I truly wanted more of Fiennes, who returns to his now-classic Budapest Hotel shtick. He and Ehrenreich would have been a hilarious duo in their own movie; instead they're sandwiched in for too few moments together.

Hail Caesar! still manages to entertain, even though I found myself imagining funnier versions of every joke. That's never a good sign when you're paying money to see professionals doing less than your imagination. But don't blame Cinematographer Roger Deakins for any failures: his camerawork is as always impeccable, capturing the old school movie lots along with a hilarious half-naked statue who's missing his torso. Deakins also bathes every scene in gorgeous colors, while the sumptuous costumes and set designs capture the splendor of the period. Like those old films, everything's great until you peel back the real motivations of the characters, few of which hold and water or our attention.

The Video – 5/5
Although Hail, Caesar! is considered a flop - only making $30m - Universal's commitment to bringing a great product to home video is worthy of our attention. From the moment the opening scene arrives, our actors are bathed in warm colors and impecible visual clarity. Mannix is perfectly shot via Deakins' camera, with Universal taking full advantage of the master print. Browns dominate the 50's landscape, from Eddie's office to the 'French postcard' shoot and the outstanding Roman mosaic. You can see individual strands of hair in Clooney's outrageous wig, in tree leaves and bark, details in the threading of clothes, and even bits of water drops in the mermaid splendor. But it's the absolute technical mastery of shadows which proves why Deakins and Universal are the best in their respective positions. Again, watch the postcard scene to see every aspect of Mannix's face WITHOUT needing a forward light. Shadows around him disappear into a fine black and fade into black so well. Just 5:00 into Caesar, the picture rewards you with more fine detail, both in the Roman arch and the accompanying hillside. I've crushed on Universal's hjome video acumen before, beginning with The Bourne Trilogy; here, the studio hits another homerun, proving that every film matters to them, regardless of how much money it made.

The Audio – 4/5
Universal's Hail, Caesar! comes with the standard DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 that doesn't impress but never drops the ball either. To be fair, Caesar is a dialogue-driven film, so we're treated to a forward channel that gets the brunt of the workload. On those off occasions that something else happens - music from Composer Carter Burwell or sound effects - the track stands up to show us that it's still with us. There's little else going on here, but there's nothing wrong with what we get either. I just wish The Coen Brothers had taken more time in the sound editing studio to add period environment pieces so that Universal could wrap us in their world. Otherwise, the LFE is solid especially while playing Burwell's good score, especially during the teriffic No Dames.

The Supplements – 2/5
Hail, Caesar! arrives with too few features, including a suite of standard marketing materials like you'd see on YouTube. There's no director's commentary (a real shame as I wanted to know more about the construction of the musical numbers), but what we do get is provided in HD:

  • Directing Hollywood (4:11): Cast and crew share their thoughts on being invited to star in a Coen Brothers movie.
  • The Stars Align (11:34): A discussion of the plot and its characters, as well as the setting of the film.
  • An Era of Glamour (6:22): We learn how the sets and costumes in Hail, Caesar were created, as the cast and crew reflect on wearing 1950's era-clothing and acting on huge sets that remind us of Ben Hur or The Greatest Story Ever Told.
  • Magic of a Bygone Era – Hail, Caesar! (6:01): The two big set pieces - the sailor tap dance from Channing Tatum and the aquatic spectacle featuring Scarlett Johansson - are broken down. They're honestly the two best scenes of the film.
  • Trailers: My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, The Boss, Race, Rock The Kasbah
  • Our evaluation copy arrived as a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack, with a Digital HD copy of the film. It's funny to note that while the slipcase is attractive, I could have done without the 'Certified Fresh' label from Rotten Tomatoes. It's almost like saying, "This movie isn't as bad as people said! Give it a try!" You won't see that on John Wick or Mad Max: Fury Road. We are not aware of any special editions or packaging.

    The Bottom Line – 3/5
    Entertaining in several parts but exceedingly boring in others, Hail, Caesar! is a big time swing-and-miss, but it's a semi-glorious one that transports us back to the 'golden age of film' that few true cinephiles (perhaps some of you here) have yet to discover. It's hampered by its own desire to destroy the old Hollywood system, content to shower us too often on storylines that aren't necessary and moments of supposedly hilarity that I found myself improving in my mind. The audio and video are good, but the supplements needed some greater support. The interesting conversation will be had a decade from now, when we'll either lament that Hail, Caesar! was just the beginning of the end for the Cohen Brothers, or an ignored gem playing in cult classic film festivals. Either way, don't expect these creative geniuses to fade away, but it's doubtful you'll find this on your video rack unless your a Cohen Brothers Apologist.

    Hail, Caesar! is rated PG-13 for some suggestive content and smoking and has a runtime of 106 minutes.

    Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.
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    THE BIRTH OF A NATION Offical Trailer

    Set against the antebellum South, THE BIRTH OF A NATION follows Nat Turner (Nate Parker), a literate slave and preacher, whose financially strained owner, Samuel Turner (Armie Hammer), accepts an offer to use Nat’s preaching to subdue unruly slaves. As he witnesses countless atrocities - against himself and his fellow slaves - Nat orchestrates an uprising in the hopes of leading his people to freedom.



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    A24's @honeymovie TRAILER

    Star (Sasha Lane), an adolescent girl from a troubled home, runs away with a traveling sales crew who drive across the American Midwest selling subscriptions door to door. Finding her feet in this gang of teenagers, one of whom is Jake (Shia LaBeouf), she soon gets into the group's lifestyle of hard-partying nights, law-bending days, and young love.



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    Enter For A Chance To Win Passes To See The BFG In Minneapolis

    Enter for a chance to see THE BFG on June 28th at 7:00 PM in Minneapolis.


    The talents of three of the world’s greatest storytellers – Roald Dahl, Walt Disney and Steven Spielberg – finally unite to bring Dahl’s beloved classic “The BFG” to life. Directed by Spielberg, Disney’s “The BFG” tells the imaginative story of a young girl and the Giant who introduces her to the wonders and perils of Giant Country.


    The BFG (Mark Rylance), while a giant himself, is a Big Friendly Giant and nothing like the other inhabitants of Giant Country. Standing 24-feet tall with enormous ears and a keen sense of smell, he is endearingly dim-witted and keeps to himself for the most part. Giants like Bloodbottler (Bill Hader) and Fleshlumpeater (Jemaine Clement) on the other hand, are twice as big and at least twice as scary and have been known to eat humans, while the BFG prefers Snozzcumber and Frobscottle. Upon her arrival in Giant Country, Sophie, a precocious 10-year-old girl from London, is initially frightened of the mysterious giant who has brought her to his cave, but soon comes to realize that the BFG is actually quite gentle and charming, and, having never met a giant before, has many questions. The BFG brings Sophie to Dream Country where he collects dreams and sends them to children, teaching her all about the magic and mystery of dreams.



    See how to enter after the Jump...

    Having both been on their own in the world up until now, their affection for one another quickly grows. But Sophie’s presence in Giant Country has attracted the unwanted attention of the other giants, who have become increasingly more bothersome. Says Spielberg, “It’s a story about friendship, it’s a story about loyalty and protecting your friends and it’s a story that shows that even a little girl can help a big giant solve his biggest problems.” Sophie and the BFG soon depart for London to see Queen Victoria (Penelope Wilton) and warn her of the precarious giant situation, but they must first convince the Queen and her maid, Mary (Rebecca Hall), that giants do indeed exist. Together, they come up with a plan to get rid of the giants once and for all.

    Directed by three-time Academy Award® winner Steven Spielberg (“Bridge of Spies,” “Schindler’s List,” ”Saving Private Ryan”) from a screenplay by Melissa Mathison (“E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial,” “The Black Stallion”) based on the best-selling novel by Roald Dahl, “The BFG” stars three-time Tony Award® and two-time Olivier Award winner Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies,” “Wolf Hall”), newcomer Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilton (“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” “Downton Abbey”), Jemaine Clement (“Rio 2,” “The Flight of the Conchords”), Rebecca Hall (“The Gift,” “Iron Man 3”), Rafe Spall (“The Big Short,” “Prometheus”) and Bill Hader (“Inside Out,” “Trainwreck”). The film is produced by Spielberg, Frank Marshall (“Jurassic World,” “The Bourne Ultimatum”) and Sam Mercer (“Snow White and the Huntsman,” “The Sixth Sense”) with Kathleen Kennedy (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Lincoln”), John Madden (“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” “Shakespeare in Love”), Kristie Macosko Krieger (“Bridge of Spies,” “Lincoln”), Michael Siegel (“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Rise of the Guardians”), Frank Smith and Naia Cucukov serving as executive producers.

    Roald Dahl’s “The BFG” (Big Friendly Giant) was first published in 1982 and has been enchanting readers of all ages ever since. Dahl’s books, which also include “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “James and the Giant Peach” and “Matilda,” are currently available in 58 languages and have sold over 200 million copies worldwide. “The BFG” is the only book of Dahl’s that has never been adapted into a feature film. Originally created as a bedtime story, “The BFG” was Dahl’s own favorite of all his stories. “It was very important for us to be loyal to the language,” says Spielberg, “and the great writer Melissa Mathison, who also wrote ‘E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial,’ wrote “The BFG.”

    “The BFG” opens in U.S. theaters on July 1, 2016, the year that marks the 100th anniversary of Dahl’s birth.

    CLICK HERE TO ENTER

    DISCLAIMER: ARRIVE EARLY! SEATING IS FIRST-COME, FIRST-SERVED, EXCEPT FOR MEMBERS OF THE PRESS AND STUDIO VIPS. THEATER IS OVERBOOKED TO ENSURE A FULL HOUSE. THEATER IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR SEATING OVER CAPACITY. THIS PASS DOES NOT GUARANTEE ADMISSION.

    Duplicate passes will not be accepted. Screening passes are non transferable. This pass is NOT for resale. Reselling of tickets is strictly prohibited and punishable by law.

    NO RECORDING

    NO PURCHASE NECESSARY

    This screening will be monitored for unauthorized recording. By attending, you agree not to bring any audio and/or visual recording device including laptop computers into the theater and you consent to physical search of your belongings and person have against you. Unauthorized recording will be reported to law enforcement and may subject you to criminal and civil liability (including damages up to $150,000). *This includes, by way of example only, smart phones and your belongings and person for such device. If you attempt to enter with a recording device, you will be denied admission. If you attempt to use a recording device* you consent to your Immediate removal from the theater and forfeiture of the device. Unauthorized recording will be reported to law enforcement and may subject you to criminal and civil liability.

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    #IndependenceDay Your Street

    20th Century Fox has just released IndependenceDayMYStreet.com for their upcoming film INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE. A space alien invasion may be closer than you think! Head to IndependenceDayMYStreet.com and enter your address to see what your street would look like during a space alien invasion.

    We always knew they were coming back. After INDEPENDENCE DAY redefined the event movie genre, the next epic chapter delivers global spectacle on an unimaginable scale. Using recovered alien technology, the nations of Earth have collaborated on an immense defense program to protect the planet. But nothing can prepare us for the aliens' advanced and unprecedented force. Only the ingenuity of a few brave men and women can bring our world back from the brink of extinction.

    INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE hits theaters everywhere June 24, 2016!

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    #JonesesMovie Trailer & New Images

    20th Century Fox has released the FIRST trailer for the upcoming film KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES, starring Zach Galifianakis, Jon Hamm, Isla Fisher, and Gal Gadot! An ordinary suburban couple finds it's not easy keeping up with the Joneses - their impossibly gorgeous and ultra-sophisticated new neighbors - especially when they discover that Mr. and Mrs. "Jones" are covert operatives.



    See all the images after the Jump...






    KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES hits theaters everywhere October 21, 2016!

    An ordinary suburban couple (Zach Galifianakis, Isla Fisher) finds it's not easy keeping up with the Joneses (Jon Hamm, Gal Gadot) - their impossibly gorgeous and ultra-sophisticated new neighbors - especially when they discover that Mr. and Mrs. "Jones" are covert operatives.

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    Free State Of Jones Premiere Images

    Written and directed by four-time Oscar® nominee Gary Ross (The Hunger Games, Seabiscuit, Pleasantville), and starring Oscar® winner Matthew McConaughey, Free State of Jones is an epic action-drama set during the Civil War, and tells the story of defiant Southern farmer, Newt Knight, and his extraordinary armed rebellion against the Confederacy.


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    Banding together with other small farmers and local slaves, Knight launched an uprising that led Jones County, Mississippi to secede from the Confederacy, creating a Free State of Jones.

    Knight continued his struggle into Reconstruction, distinguishing him as a compelling, if controversial, figure of defiance long beyond the War.

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      © Site Graphics by Randy Jennings by http://www.artfreelancer.com/ 2009

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