Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Holy Game Review: An Insightful And Fun Look At Unconventional Priests

Release date: June 29, 2021
Running time: 67 minutes
Directed By: Brent Hodge and Christopher Kelly,

Beyond the Vatican walls, there is a soccer championship like no other: young priests in seminary from around the world gather to play in the Clericus Cup. ‘THE HOLY GAME’ is a documentary feature about religion, sport, tradition and looks at why anyone in this era would sacrifice so much to become a priest.

The Holy Game is an interesting documentary about a special tournament that showcases the breadth of the Catholic church but also the young students who are hoping to become priests.  The biggest benefit of this film is that it shows these young men in a more natural, demystified form.  Sure they are all devoutly religious and taking their studies seriously, but it is also fun to see them compete and hear some more unfiltered thoughts about the life they have chosen.  Some give interesting reasons for why they chose to enter the priesthood, and others have fun stories about the reactions of friends and significant others to the news.  The film does a good job picking relatable, easy to like individuals for their interviews; they all seem to have good heads on their shoulders and appear to be entering the priesthood for the right reasons.  

But the main subject of The Holy Game is the Clericus Cup itself, the yearly competition between various teams representing the Catholic church from around the globe.  And this is where some of the most fun in the movie happens.  I liked seeing the various teams compete vigorously, supported by intense fans, but still seem to be playing for a higher purpose.  I liked seeing the teams shake hands at the end of the game and even come together for a group prayer; it showed intense competition without the bitterness and pettiness that you can sometimes see in sports.  And again, this shows these individuals as normal people, with celebrations, some minor showboating, and an fierce competition.  And the film also showcases some quirks about the Clericus Cup, including the very interesting blue card.  

But the film isn't just about the cup, despite the name.  The movie is also a look into the modern priesthood and the type of people that would still choose that life in our current times.  In this it generally succeeds as it paints these individuals in a very positive light.  But the movie also tries to address some of the recent scandals in the Catholic church, and I think in this respect the film stumbles.  The movie devotes a short amount of time to those topics, and in a film with a relatively short run time it feels like this should have been more fleshed out.  You essentially get one viewpoint on each scandal, hardly enough to get a good feel for how those scandals have affected the church and these individuals.  I don't know if it would have been better to just not address it, but it feels like these were slapped in and not given the attention that they deserve.  In that respect, these feel like incomplete threads of the greater story.  But overall I enjoyed my time seeing this unique tournament and the charismatic participants.

The Holy Game is an interesting look at a devout tournament that highlights the unique players and rules of this game and serves to demystify and humanize the priesthood through soccer.

Watch it.

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The Holy Game is available digitally and on demand on June 29, 2021 .  

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The Forever Purge Review: Breaking The Rules And The Purge Formula

Ana de la Reguera	...	Adela Josh Lucas	Josh Lucas		 Will Patton	Will Patton		 Cassidy Freeman	Cassidy Freeman	...	Emma Kate Veronica Falcón	Veronica Falcón	...	Lydia Leven Rambin	Leven Rambin		 Tenoch Huerta	Tenoch Huerta	...	Juan Susie Abromeit	Susie Abromeit	...	Mrs. Hardin Alejandro Edda	Alejandro Edda		 Anthony Molinari	Anthony Molinari	...	Merc Antwan Eilish	Antwan Eilish	...	Chase Edward Gelhaus	Edward Gelhaus	...	Actor Brett Edwards	Brett Edwards	...	Lead Merc Sammi Rotibi	Sammi Rotibi	...	Darius Joshua Dov	Joshua Dov	...	Dalton Levay Erin Dinsmore	Erin Dinsmore	...	Conor Gregory Zaragoza	Gregory Zaragoza	...	Xavier

Release date: July 2, 2021
Running time: 102 minutes
Director: Everardo Gout
Writer: James DeMonaco
Cast: Ana de la Reguera, Tenoch Huerta, Josh Lucas, Cassidy Freeman, Leven Rambin, Alejandro Edda and Will Patton

This summer, all the rules are broken as a sect of lawless marauders decides that the annual Purge does not stop at daybreak and instead should never end in The Forever Purge. Adela (Ana de la Reguera, Cowboys & Aliens) and her husband Juan (Tenoch Huerta, Days of Grace) live in Texas, where Juan is working as a ranch hand for the wealthy Tucker family. Juan impresses the Tucker patriarch, Caleb (Will Patton, Halloween), but  that fuels the jealous anger of Caleb’s son, Dylan (Josh Lucas, Ford v Ferrari).  On the morning after The Purge, a masked gang of killers attacks the Tucker family—including Dylan’s wife (Cassidy Freeman, HBO’s The Righteous Gemstones), and his sister (Leven Rambin, The Hunger Games), forcing both families to band together and fight back as the country spirals into chaos and the United States begins to disintegrate around them. 

Ana González	...	(credit only) Gary Nohealii	Gary Nohealii	...	Joaquin Patrick Millin	Patrick Millin	...	Sheriff Deputy Keenan Henson	Keenan Henson		 Jeffrey Doornbos	Jeffrey Doornbos	...	Elijah Yomary Cruz	Yomary Cruz	...	Latinx Anchor Mark Krenik	Mark Krenik	...	NFFA Soldier Carol Cantu	Carol Cantu	...	Lupita Patricio Doren	Patricio Doren	...	Coyote Kat Smith	Kat Smith		 Willow Beuoy	Willow Beuoy	...	Ally Patrick Zapata	Patrick Zapata	...	Vampire Michael Aboujaoude	Michael Aboujaoude	...	Merc #3 Scott Douglas MacLachlan	Scott Douglas MacLachlan	...	Gun Store Customer Emily Trujillo	Emily Trujillo	...	Maria Richard Allan Jones	Richard Allan Jones	...	Gun Store Owner Harrison Meloeny	Harrison Meloeny	...	Dancing Thing #2 David Fencl	David Fencl	...	Self - Machine gunner in truck
The Forever Purge is the latest movie from the Purge franchise.  The first movie was an interesting experiment in tense filmmaking and world building.  The second movie built onto that with a bigger and more deadly purge event.  However, after these initial films, the movie has been struggling to find a coherent story like in the first two.  The film's original message of violence and hypocrisy, along with a generous helping of gore porn, were diluted in the Purge: Election Year and The First Purge.  The Forever Purge tries to reignite some of the controversial and interesting topics explored by this series, with a focus on the nation's move to a more right wing, xenophobic mentality in the last four years.  Additionally, the film has a generally good setup and leads to some additional unpredictability when the participants find out that the purge is not over.

And I did like the initial characters, though they were fairly transparent.  Both Adela (de la Reguera) and Juan (Huerta) were sympathetic and mysterious.  You were rooting for them the entire time and they seemed like good, hardworking people caught up in the purge.  Caleb (Patton) was another sympathetic character, a benevolent owner who was looking out for his family and employees.  And Josh Lucas did a wonderful job playing a nice guy jerk in Ford v. Ferrari and he reprises this role as Dylan.  I love me some Josh Lucas and he won't disappoint in this movie either.  And the Purge series is all about wild characters and a wild night, and in this respect the film succeeds initially.  

However, the film just does not capture the magic that the first movies had.  Perhaps it is the very nature of The Forever Purge; by extending the Purge event beyond the first night, the film turns less into a tense survival movie into more of an action journey.  No longer are people trying to survive the night, rather they are simply trying to survive as long as they can.  And despite the forever nature of the film, the movie doesn't have us going up against an endless wave of enemies.  Rather it seems like there are a few scattered skirmishes followed by a one main group that the band faces.  It leads to a movie that is both expansive in scope, yet feels quite limited.  And this final group don't feel that unique or special; they just feel like your normal band of racist marauders.  Additionally, the plot is convoluted and the dialogue often feels manufactured.  It feels like the film was trying to get its points in regardless of whether it felt natural at the time, and especially tried to establish the racism message early and clumsily.  This leads to a movie that has the underpinnings of the original films, but doesn't feel like those originals.

The Forever Purge has some interesting ideas and a good setup, but doesn't quite manage to capture what made the first two films such an interesting and intense experience.

Rent it.

Michael Bay	...	producer Jason Blum	...	producer Marcei A. Brown	...	executive producer James DeMonaco	...	producer (p.g.a.) Andrew Form	...	producer Brad Fuller	...	producer Sébastien K. Lemercier	...	producer (p.g.a.) James Moran	...	co-producer Couper Samuelson	...	executive producer Jennifer Scudder Trent	...	co-producer Jeanette Volturno	...	executive producer
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The Forever Purge is in theaters on July 2, 2021.  For showtimes, click here.

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The Boss Baby: Family Business Review: The Baldwin Baby Is Back

Alec Baldwin	...	Theodore Templeton (voice) James Marsden	James Marsden	...	Tim Templeton (voice) Amy Sedaris	Amy Sedaris	...	Tina Templeton / Boss Baby (voice) Ariana Greenblatt	Ariana Greenblatt	...	Tabitha (voice) Eva Longoria	Eva Longoria	...	Carol Templeton (voice) Jimmy Kimmel	Jimmy Kimmel	...	Ted Templeton (voice) Lisa Kudrow	Lisa Kudrow	...	Janice Templeton (voice) Jeff Goldblum	Jeff Goldblum	...	Dr. Armstrong (voice) James McGrath	James McGrath	...	Wizzie (voice) Reyn Doi	Reyn Doi	...	Box Kid (voice) Gracen Newton	Gracen Newton		 Other cast: Molly K. Gray	Molly K. Gray	...	Creepy Girl Buddy Vedder	Buddy Vedder	...	Tim Templeton (voice) Al Saif Alshad	Al Saif Alshad	...	Al Saif Alshad (voice)

Release date: July 2, 2021
Running time: 107 minutes
Director: Tom McGrath
Starring: Alec Baldwin, Jeff Goldblum, Ariana Greenblatt, Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow, Eva Longoria, James Marsden, Amy Sedaris

In the sequel to DreamWorks Animation’s Oscar®-nominated blockbuster comedy, the Templeton brothers—Tim (James Marsden, X-Men franchise) and his Boss Baby little bro Ted (Alec Baldwin)—have become adults and drifted away from each other. Tim is now a married stay-at-home dad. Ted is a hedge fund CEO. But a new boss baby with a cutting-edge approach and a can-do attitude is about to bring them together again … and inspire a new family business. 

The Boss Baby was beautifully animated and imaginative and the sequel is no different.  The film has a great sense of imagination to try and integrate a talking, adult baby into this world. The second film has plenty of bright and busy animated sections as the characters explore this crazy world.  These are especially pronounced at Baby Corp. and at the school.  The school has a lot of innovative classes and subjects, and the whole instruction sequence is a lot of fun to see.  Family Business sees the return of Ted and Tim and uses an interesting ploy to integrate them into the story.  You see them as adults and as kids and the film has some funny ways to transition these two.  But the main draw of this film is Alec Baldwin as Ted.  His boss baby character was the main draw of the film, and this movie has him return in all his adult voiced baby splendor.  And although there are several returning cast members, the addition of both Amy Sedaris as young Tina and Jeff Goldblum as the school director were smart choices that are so fun to see.  They add a lot of humor to this generally funny situation, with Goldblum especially adding some laughs to this film.

However, the film is a strange one.  The idea of a talking baby and an entire organization of babies that have their own operations and skills is an odd one and takes some extreme explanations to make work.  And although the reason for Tim and Ted becoming kids is imaginative, it leads to a story that is a little convoluted.  I would have liked the film to be either an extension of the first one or an adventure where you get to see them as adults.  And the story for what they have to do also seems unnecessarily complicated.  It takes a while to get where it's going with a lot of outside explanation to get them to that situation.  

One nice aspect is that the film does try to impart some interesting societal messages, without going overboard.  There are subtle messages in the film like family vs. business success and environmentalism, but nothing too extreme.  And the obsession with phones and apps is probably something we are all suffering after being glued to our phones and devices for the last year.  But overall, the film just feels like a lot for a kids movie.  My quick review from my own kids was "It was weird."  They enjoyed it but not as much as some other kids films we have seen recently (but that didn't stop them from asking to see it again the day after we watched it).  But all that being said, the movie does have a cute, heartfelt ending that wraps up the story and will leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling.

The Boss Baby: Family Business sees the return of the Baldwin baby with some beautiful animation, imaginative scenarios, and plenty of colorful, ridiculous destruction.

Rent it.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Too Late Review: A Standup Show That Has Style But Not Enough Horror Or Comedy

Mary Lynn Rajskub	...	Gina Obispo Fred Armisen	Fred Armisen	...	Fredo Muñoz Jack De Sena	Jack De Sena	...	David Zeller Andrés du Bouchet	Andrés du Bouchet	...	Night Watchman Ron Lynch	Ron Lynch	...	Bob Devore Alyssa Limperis	Alyssa Limperis	...	Violet Fields Brooks Wheelan	Brooks Wheelan	...	Chase Morrow Barbara Gray	Barbara Gray	...	Open Mic Host Jenny Zigrino	Jenny Zigrino	...	Belinda Ariana Kaufman	Ariana Kaufman	...	Open Miker Dinora Walcott	Dinora Walcott	...	Donna Rudinsky Megan Koester	Megan Koester	...	Comedian Billy Breed	Billy Breed	...	Dax Hanlan Will Weldon	Will Weldon	...	Jimmy Rhodes Leila Perry	Leila Perry	...	Party Girl Kimberly Clark	Kimberly Clark	...	Comedian Marnie Price	Marnie Price	...	Clarice Neil

Release date: June 25, 2021
Running time: 80 minutes
Directed By: D.W. Thomas 
Written By: Tom Becker
Starring: Alyssa Limperis (Aunty Donna's Big Ol' House of Fun), Ron Lynch (Bob’s Burgers, Adventure Time), Will Weldon (Comedy Central’s This Isn’t Happening), Mary Lynn Rajskub (24, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Fred Armisen (SNL, Portlandia), Jenny Zigrino (Bad Santa 2, 50 Shades of Black), Jack De Sena (Avatar: The Last Airbender), and Brooks Wheelan (SNL).

This cozy horror comedy set in the Los Angeles indie comedy scene features Violet Fields who works a thankless job as the assistant to Bob Devore, famed comedian and host of the live variety show, Too Late. But what only Violet knows is that Bob is a monster both literally and figuratively. Resigned to her fate, Violet is caught by surprise when she meets aspiring comedian Jimmy Rhodes and sparks fly. But as her feelings for Jimmy grow and Bob starts to doubt her loyalty, she and Jimmy could end up as Bob’s next meal.

Dwayne Perkins	...	Ty Purcell Riley Silverman	Riley Silverman	...	Comedian Raj Desai	Raj Desai	...	Comedian Paul Danke	Paul Danke	...	Andy Jocelyn April Hava Shenkman	April Hava Shenkman	...	Performance Artist Deborah Aldrich	Deborah Aldrich	...	Frida Castillo Richard Charlton	Richard Charlton	...	Bouncer Toni Bauhofer	Toni Bauhofer	...	Juggler Vance Sanders	Vance Sanders	...	Man in Alley Produced by  Tom Becker	...	producer Lonnie Ramati	...	executive producer D.W. Thomas	...	producer
Too Late was a tough movie to judge, because I like the general idea of the movie and the cast.  The film has a lot of very funny people put in both silly and serious predicaments, and the film does have a nice balance of horror and comedic situations.  I liked Limperis as Violet with and especially liked Ron Lynch as Bob.  Their dynamic was enjoyable to watch and although he treated Violet like garbage, he was a character and definitely had an air about him.  The film also tells an important metaphor about show business and how difficult it is to break in.  There are characters who work horrible hours, odd conditions, and in constant fear of losing their job all for the chance to get their big break .  And the story of Too Late has a style; I especially liked seeing the doctored photos that were created to chronicle Bob's life.  It feels like there could have been more to tell here if the film had more time and money, but alas, it just existed in some props on set and the credits sequence.  

However, the problem with Too Late is that it is just not a funny movie.  For a film about comedians with a comedic cast, I didn't find myself laughing at all.  And even the standup sections, which should be comedic gold, just felt phoned in.  There were some funny jokes in there, but the overall humor was lukewarm to me.  And that is a major problem with a movie that bills itself as a horror comedy.  The cast is great and is full of major comics, but the film itself just didn't hit the comedy side of things.  And on the horror side of it, the film has some good practical effects, but overall there is not enough horror either.  The movie has some horror elements, but these are less pronounced and scary than I would have hoped.  So overall you have a horror comedy that does not have enough horror or comedy.  I think the cast did a fine job and I liked the underlying message, but this just didn't seem like a standup show I wanted to stay to see.

Too Late has a great cast and plenty of style, but the film doesn't quite hit on the horror or comedy part of its horror comedy billing.

Pass on it.

Directed by  D.W. Thomas	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Tom Becker
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Too Late is in theaters, digitally, and on demand on June 25, 2021 .  

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Vicious Fun Review: An 80s Homage That Is Both Vicious And Fun

Evan Marsh	...	Joel Amber Goldfarb	Amber Goldfarb	...	Carrie Ari Millen	Ari Millen	...	Bob Julian Richings	Julian Richings	...	Fritz Robert Maillet	Robert Maillet	...	Mike Sean Baek	Sean Baek	...	Hideo David Koechner	David Koechner	...	Zachary Alexa Rose Steele	Alexa Rose Steele	...	Sarah Kristopher Bowman	Kristopher Bowman	...	Detective Doyle Mark Gibson	Mark Gibson	...	Detective Hollands John Fray	John Fray	...	Officer Tony Joe Bostick	Joe Bostick	...	Phil Kameron Louangxay	Kameron Louangxay	...	Bartender Earl 'Bubba' McLean Jr.	Earl 'Bubba' McLean Jr.	...	Cabbie Craig Brown	Craig Brown	...	The Clerk Darryl Hinds	Darryl Hinds	...	Doctor

Release date: June 29, 2021 Running time: 93 minutes Directed By: Cody Calahan Written By: Cody Calahan (story by), James Villeneuve Starring: Evan Marsh (Shazam!), Amber Goldfarb (Appiness), Ari Millen (Orphan Black), Julian Richings (Man of Steel), Robert Maillet (Sherlock Holmes), Sean Baek (Killjoys), David Koechner (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy), Alexa Rose Steele (Jann), Mark Gibson (Exit Humanity), Kristopher Brown (Jib & Jab on a Quest) and John Fray (The Silence). Vicious Fun follows Joel (Evan Marsh), a caustic 1980’s film critic for a national horror magazine, who finds himself unwittingly trapped in a self-help group for serial killers. With no other choice, Joel attempts to blend in with his homicidal surroundings or risk becoming the next victim.

Gord Rand	...	Jack Portwood Joanne Jansen	Joanne Jansen	...	Cindy Rest of cast listed alphabetically: Angel Adegboruwa	Angel Adegboruwa	...	Bar Patron Tracy Baker	Tracy Baker	...	Bar Patron Bryan Barnes	Bryan Barnes	...	Emergency Worker MacKenzie Boyd-Garrison	MacKenzie Boyd-Garrison	...	Girl in 1980's Horror Film Rodger Edralin	Rodger Edralin	...	Bar Patron Aisling Egan	Aisling Egan	...	Bar Patron Andrew Francis	Andrew Francis	...	Emergency Worker Jeremy Hernandez	Jeremy Hernandez	...	Bar Patron Jason Huska	Jason Huska	...	Emergency Worker Ashling Ireland	Ashling Ireland	...	Bar Patron Natalie Jane	Natalie Jane	...	Girl in Bar Josette Jorge	Josette Jorge	...	Nurse Richard Marks	Richard Marks	...	Emergency Worker Ann Pirvu	Ann Pirvu	...	Suzanne Tracy Rankin	Tracy Rankin	...	Emergency Worker Randy Thomas	Randy Thomas	...	Doctor in 80s Horror Film
Vicious Fun clearly has a love of 80s films and style and it shows through right from the start. The film is set in the 80s with time appropriate touches throughout. But it also has a prominent use of neon and a style that lets you know that this is 80s through and through. The film also sets the tone with a great musical soundtrack that evokes the 80s but is more of a techno style sound. It really is wonderful to hear and is perfect for this film. The film clearly loves 80s movies as the central killers in this movie all feel like they could be right out of that time period. No one has supernatural powers, but they are varied enough that each evokes a classic 80s theme. And these are pulled off by the great cast.

The characters are fun to learn about and well acted, especially Ari Millen as Bob and Jullian Richings as Fritz. Their characters were just over the top enough while still being enjoyable and sinister to watch. Evan Marsh is also good as Joel, and I loved his film critic character (though maybe it hit a little close to home about how socially awkward he was)! And I loved that his outfit evoked another classic 80s property.

The story of the film follows three main arcs, and each is fun to follow and very different. I liked each of them for very different reasons but overall they come together to form a cohesive whole. The serial killer support group scene was definitely the most enjoyable, but the complete package of Vicious Fun is both vicious and fun. And this wouldn't be a great 80s horror homage without some wonderful gore, and Vicious Fun has that as well. The practical effects are brutal and over the top, again right out of the time period. The film also has a great sense of dark humor that keeps the film lighthearted and fun. It really is a wonderful blend of 80s style with modern movie sensibilities, to create a wonderful homage to this genre of film.

Vicious Fun is the rare movie that lives up to its title, with an 80s style and great characters to make for an homage that is both vicious and fun.

Watch it.

Nat Abraham	...	executive producer Chad Archibald	...	producer Peter Bevan	...	executive producer Leanne Brennan	...	supervising producer Jessica Butland	...	executive producer Cody Calahan	...	producer Denis Coyne	...	executive producer Ira Levy	...	executive producer Craig McGillivray	...	executive producer Michael McGuigan	...	executive producer Mark Myers	...	executive producer Mariana Sanjurjo	...	executive producer Christopher Warre Smets	...	associate producer Michael S.E. White	...	associate producer Tomás Yankelevich	...	executive producer

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Vicious Fun is available to stream on Shudder starting June 29, 2021. 

Also, for more information about this film, check out my interview with Cody Calahan, the writer and director of the film!

Monday, June 28, 2021

Zola Review: A Bizarre, Outlandish, and Entertaining Odyssey

Taylour Paige	Taylour Paige	...	Zola Riley Keough	Riley Keough	...	Stefani Nelcie Souffrant	Nelcie Souffrant	...	Gail Nasir Rahim	Nasir Rahim	...	Johnathan Amelia Rose Monteagudo	Amelia Rose Monteagudo	...	Stefani's Baby Ari'el Stachel	Ari'el Stachel	...	Sean Colman Domingo	Colman Domingo	...	X Nicholas Braun	Nicholas Braun	...	Derrek (as Nick Braun) Jason Mitchell	Jason Mitchell	...	Dion Ts Madison	Ts Madison	...	Hollywood Tommy Foxhill	Tommy Foxhill	...	Tommy Tony Ben Bladon	Ben Bladon	...	Kay Tony Demil	Tony Demil	...	Joe Ernest Emmanuel Peeples	Ernest Emmanuel Peeples	...	Hee Joseph Sanders	Joseph Sanders	...	Liquor Store Clerk Brett Chesebro	Brett Chesebro	...	Caller Carl Collanus	Carl Collanus	...	Caller Jay Dersahagian	Jay Dersahagian	...	Caller Rusty Domhoff	Rusty Domhoff	...	Caller Mark Fiedler	Mark Fiedler	...	Caller Alex Flash	Alex Flash	...	Caller Richard W. Lariviere	Richard W. Lariviere	...	Caller Bob Lawton	Bob Lawton	...	Caller Ernest Lee Wilson Jr.	Ernest Lee Wilson Jr.	...	Caller Josh Locy	Josh Locy	...	Caller Pedro Medina	Pedro Medina	...	Caller Thomas Nash	Thomas Nash	...	Caller Bill Pierce	Bill Pierce	...	Caller Michael Worden	Michael Worden	...	Caller Kyle Williams	Kyle Williams	...	Caller Andrew Romano	Andrew Romano	...	Hotel Waiter Sophie Hall	Sophie Hall	...	Baybe Angelo Diaz	Angelo Diaz	...	Juan Rico Paris	Rico Paris	...	Also Juan Michael Aceveda	Michael Aceveda	...	Juan Anibal Echeverria Bonet	Anibal Echeverria Bonet	...	Juan Max Guevara	Max Guevara	...	Juan Harold Hernandez	Harold Hernandez	...	Juan David Rodriguez	David Rodriguez	...	Juan Bernard Lyght	Bernard Lyght	...	Man Pulled Over Michael Opal	Michael Opal	...	Cop Eric Salas	Eric Salas	...	Also Cop Doug Walker	Doug Walker	...	Steel Drum Player Jarquale Stewart	Jarquale Stewart	...	CC Drew Rin Varick	Drew Rin Varick	...	Man at Pool Rest of cast listed alphabetically: Jim Abde	Jim Abde	...	(uncredited) Armand Alvarez	Armand Alvarez	...	(uncredited) Ken Anthony II	Ken Anthony II	...	(uncredited) Mikayla Arrington	Mikayla Arrington	...	(uncredited) Cameron Brumbelow	Cameron Brumbelow	...	(uncredited) Emilio Diaz	Emilio Diaz	...	(uncredited) Matt Harding	Matt Harding	...	Gentleman (uncredited) Megan Hayes	Megan Hayes	...	(uncredited) Steve Heinz	Steve Heinz	...	(uncredited) Samantha Kaye	Samantha Kaye	...	(uncredited) Shana-Anne Larson	Shana-Anne Larson	...	(uncredited) Renee Leone	Renee Leone	...	Restaurant patron (uncredited) Dennis Mallen	Dennis Mallen	...	(uncredited) Gustavo Perez	Gustavo Perez	...	(uncredited) Bill Pierce II	Bill Pierce II	...	Big Dick (uncredited) Youssef Shahout	Youssef Shahout	...	(uncredited) Erin Sheahan	Erin Sheahan	...	(uncredited) Ward G. Smith	Ward G. Smith	...	(uncredited) Pedro Tavarez Jr.	Pedro Tavarez Jr.	...	(uncredited) David Velez	David Velez	...	(uncredited) Dania Vizzi	Dania Vizzi	...	(uncredited) Steve Warren	Steve Warren	...	(uncredited) Ezell Willis	Ezell Willis	...	(uncredited)

Release date: June 30, 2021
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed By: Janicza Bravo 
Written By: Janicza Bravo and Jeremy O. Harris 
Starring: Taylour Paige, Riley Keough, Nicholas Braun, Ari'el Stachel, Colman Domingo 

"Y’all wanna hear a story about why me & this bitch here fell out? It’s kind of long but full of suspense."  Thus began the odyssey of one A’Ziah King, aka ZOLA.  Zola's stranger than fiction saga, which she first told in a now iconic series of viral, uproarious tweets, comes to dazzling cinematic life. 

Kara Baker	...	producer (produced by) Allison Rose Carter	...	co-producer Dave Franco	...	producer (produced by) Elizabeth Haggard	...	producer (produced by) David Hinojosa	...	producer (produced by) Vince Jolivette	...	producer (produced by) A'Ziah King	...	executive producer Jennifer Konawal	...	executive producer David Kushner	...	executive producer Christine Vachon	...	producer (produced by) Gia Walsh	...	producer (produced by)
Zola is a wild story, one that is so much stranger than fiction it seems like it can't be real.  But it  apparently did happen and what a story it was.  The film translates these series of tweets and the later article that was written about the story into a cinematic odyssey that blends technological influences with classic 60s and 70s style effects.  It is something that has to be seen to understand, but it is definitely worth the experience.  The film comes to life through the performances of Taylour Paige and Riley Keough.  They take on very different personas but together they tell a compelling, engaging story.  Zola (Paige) is a confident, smart unintentional hustler who gets in over her head after making some questionable decisions.  And Stefani (Keough) is equally compelling as the strange, opinionated, and confident friend who gets them into this bizarre odyssey.  The rest of the cast all add to the overall feel of the film, with Domingo's volatile yet confident character guiding them through this experience and Braun's loveable but sad persona adding some emotion and humor to the movie.  Overall the cast is enjoyable and make for a compelling experience.  

But what will really catch your attention about Zola, other than the pure insanity of the story, is the style.  It has a classic 60s or 70s style film look which evokes a different, time and a very different environment.  But the film also interjects a constant cacophony of tweets and technology sounds to make sure you are never comfortable during this ordeal.  It is a smart move as this whole experience was told over twitter, so the constant tweet sounds really make you remember where this came from.  The film also smartly uses excerpts from Reddit and other parts of the story tell other aspects.  These allow for quick cutaways for more exposition and to keep the viewer informed.  And they fit perfectly with the overall style and pace of the film.  It is a fast paced experience, and the technology sounds and cuts to Reddit really add to this.  

What is also quite interesting about this movie is the balance between comedy and thriller that it manages to keep.  The film has a darkly comedic tone to it but also will just as quickly switch to a tense standoff.  it is full of characters that seem like they are out of a horror film, with their quirks and strange mannerisms, but they also do some very humorous things in the pursuit of this crazy trip.  And the film has monologues and other touches that help to communicate a comedic style to help break up what was probably a very tense situation.  If there is a negative about this film, it is that the story is one sided.  Maybe that is actually what happened, but it also could be that Zola is telling the story in her best light.  But hey, it's her story and a crazy one at that, so maybe this is jsut how insane it was.  

Zola is something that has to be experienced to truly understand, and the combination of bizarre characters, amazing style, and some intense performances make this film something to like and retweet. 

Watch it.

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Zola is in theaters on June 30, 2021.  For showtimes, click here.

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Friday, June 25, 2021

What to Watch This Weekend: Werewolves Within, F9, Mary J Blige, Good On Paper, Nobody, Echo Boomers, Spirit Untamed, Luca

For A Lycanthropic Whodunit: Werewolves Within (Theaters)
Werewolves Within has a quirky cast of characters, a dark sense of humor, and an over-the-top ridiculousness that will keep you entertained and guessing throughout this horror whodunit.  For more information, check out the review!

For A Soulful Documentary: Mary J. Blige's My Life (Amazon)
Mary J. Blige's My Life tells the story of this influential artist who inspired and gave a voice to so many young men and women and gives insights on what makes her sound so special.  For more information, check out the review!

For An Insightful Rom Com: Good On Paper (Netflix)
Good On Paper is a modern, insightful, hilarious, and very personal journey for Shlesinger that helps to highlight the female perspective on success and love.  For more information, check out the review

For A Ridiculous Revving Adventure: F9: The Fast Saga (Theaters)
F9 hits the NOS on all the Fast Franchise themes, with plenty of family, fast cars (and other vehicles), and a whole extra helping of insane action and ridiculousness.  For more information, check out the review!

For Some Angsty Action: Echo Boomers (Free on Roku)
Echo Boomers has an excellent cast, an exciting story, and some very visceral scenes of destruction in this encapsulation of millennial and financial angst.  For more information, check out our review!

For The Kids: Luca (Disney+)
Luca is in the vein of A Little Mermaid, but its beautiful animation, imaginative story, and focus on tolerance and being yourself is a timeless message that appeals to kids and adults alike!

For An Action-Filled John Wick-like: Nobody (Redbox)
Nobody is a middle class, family man John Wick, with high energy and varied action, a mysterious story, and an epic, final fightsravaganza.  For more information, check out the review!

For A Happy Horse Adventure: Spirit Untamed (PVOD)
Spirit Untamed rides into theaters with a fun, rebellious cast of characters and a story for equestrian and adventure lovers to enjoy.  For more information, check out the review!

Screening: See The Tomorrow War Early And Free!

We have partnered with Amazon Screenings for an early screening of the exciting new time-traveling action movie, The Tomorrow War.  It is a mind bending, future fighting film starring Chris Pratt as a soldier who has to go to the future to save the present.  The film is coming to Amazon Prime Video on July 2nd, but you can see it early and free without needing an Amazon account!  Details and entry form are below.

The Tomorrow War

Directed by Chris McKay
Written by Zach Dean 
Starring Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski, J.K. Simmons, Betty Gilpin, Sam Richardson, Edwin Hodge, Jasmine Mathews, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, Keith Powers

In The Tomorrow War, the world is stunned when a group of time travelers arrive from the year 2051 to deliver an urgent message: Thirty years in the future mankind is losing a global war against a deadly alien species. The only hope for survival is for soldiers and civilians from the present to be transported to the future and join the fight. Among those recruited is high school teacher and family man Dan Forester (Chris Pratt). Determined to save the world for his young daughter, Dan teams up with a brilliant scientist (Yvonne Strahovski) and his estranged father (J.K. Simmons) in a desperate quest to rewrite the fate of the planet. 

Screening Info:

Thursday, July 1st

7:30pm EST


 Screening Link!

Giveaway: Enter To Win A Rental Of Spirit Untamed And Have A Movie Night Horse Adventure!

We have partnered with Dreamworks for a contest to add some adventure to your week!  Enter now for your chance to win a rental of Spirit Untamed on Vudu so you can your own magical horse adventure by yourself or with friends!  Spirit Untamed released TODAY on PVOD and is an animated movie based on the Netflix series (check out the review or the video review), which has a "fun, rebellious cast of characters and a story for equestrian and adventure lovers to enjoy." 

An epic adventure about a headstrong girl longing for a place to belong who discovers a kindred spirit when her life intersects with a wild horse.  Lucky Prescott (Isabela Merced) never really knew her late mother, Milagro Navarro (Eiza González), a fearless horse-riding stunt performer from Miradero, a small town on the edge of the wide-open frontier. Like her mother, Lucky isn’t exactly a fan of rules and restrictions, which has caused her Aunt Cora (Julianne Moore) no small amount of worry. Lucky has grown up in an East Coast city under Cora’s watchful eye, but when Lucky presses her own luck with one too many risky escapades, Cora picks up stakes and moves them both back with Lucky’s father, Jim (Jake Gyllenhaal), in Miradero.  

Cast: Isabela Merced, Julianne Moore, Jake Gyllenhaal, Marsai Martin, Mckenna Grace, Walton Goggins, Andre Braugher, Eiza González
Directed By: Elaine Bogan
Screenplay by: Aury Wallington and Kristin Hahn

Winners Will Recieve:
A code good for a rental of Spirit Untamed on VUDU.  Code must be redeemed before August 16, 2021.

The contest runs from now until June 30, 2021.  Winners will be notified on June 30, 2021.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

False Positive Review: An Unsettling Birthing Experience That Rails Against The Patriarchy

Ilana Glazer	...	Lucy Justin Theroux	Justin Theroux	...	Adrian Gretchen Mol	Gretchen Mol	...	Nurse Dawn Sabina Gadecki	Sabina Gadecki	...	Nurse Rita Pierce Brosnan	Pierce Brosnan	...	Dr. Hindle Josh Hamilton	Josh Hamilton	...	Greg Nils Lawton	Nils Lawton	...	Mihail Sullivan Jones	Sullivan Jones	...	Bryon James Cusati-Moyer	James Cusati-Moyer	...	Waiter Lucy Walters	Lucy Walters	...	Marcy Jaygee Macapugay	Jaygee Macapugay	...	Mae Sophia Bush	Sophia Bush	...	Corgan Danielle Slavick	Danielle Slavick	...	Brin Francesca Faridany	Francesca Faridany	...	Coraline Kelly AuCoin	Kelly AuCoin	...	Dirk Zainab Jah	Zainab Jah	...	Grace Singleton

Release date: June 25, 2021
Running time: 93 minutes
Director: John Lee
Writers: Ilana Glazer, John Lee
Stars: Ilana Glazer, Justin Theroux, Gretchen Mol, Sophia Bush, Sabina Gadecki, Pierce Brosnan

After months of trying and failing to get pregnant, Lucy (Ilana Glazer) and Adrian (Justin Theroux) finally find their dream fertility doctor in the illustrious Dr. Hindle (Pierce  Brosnan). But after becoming pregnant, Lucy begins to notice something sinister through Hindle’s gleaming charm, and she sets out to uncover the unsettling truth about him, and her own “birth story.” As if getting pregnant weren’t complicated enough!

Haley Zale	...	Breastfeeding Mother Matthew Brandt	Matthew Brandt	...	Waiter (uncredited) George R. Golden	George R. Golden	...	Tuxedoed Dinner Patron (uncredited) Doris McCarthy	Doris McCarthy	...	Gala Attendee (uncredited) Taylor Ortega	Taylor Ortega	...	Eden (uncredited) Skylar Robinson	Skylar Robinson	...	Park goer (uncredited) Ray Rosario	Ray Rosario	...	Husband (uncredited) S.J. Son	S.J. Son	...	Alyson (uncredited) Produced by  Allison Rose Carter	...	co-producer Ilana Glazer	...	producer John Lee	...	producer Jon Read	...	co-producer Jonathan Wang	...	producer
False Positive is an innovative look at the birthing business through a horror lens.  This starts from the beginning when Lucy and Adrian visit the fertility clinic, which is so nice that it is unsettling.  The clinic is picture perfect and everyone is attentive and friendly, but this leads to a sinister feel to this otherwise idyllic clinic.  The film looks into some of the decisions and societal pressures that women have to endure in the name of getting pregnant, and also how a lot of the business of birth is outside of the hands of the mother.  From the advice by doctors, to the lack of consultation, False Positive manages to turn what should be a wonderful time in a woman's life into a fight for survival.  And it does so without being too overt about it, at least at the beginning.  It has subtle hints here and there to make you feel discomfort, which is a nice way to build this up.  

And the movie does a great job of turning this experience into a horror one.  The movie plays with reality, with Lucy suffering from "pregnancy" brain making her see and hear things that are intentionally vague on whether they are real.  The audience is constantly guessing whether this is happening in real life, a nice touch to keep us on edge.  And the film rails against the patriarchy and the business of birth.  This doesn't occur until later but it was a nice change of pace that really helped to drive home the central point of this movie.  And the film is about empowering women to take control of their birth experience and birth story, and to jealously guard that experience when it is threatened.  The movie does a good job of exposing this by subtly weaponizing expectant mother's insecurities and sprinkling in societal pressures with pregnancy.  The scenes where Lucy is in the clinic versus when she is surrounded by supportive women show this stark contrast.

However, the story of False Positive is a rough one to watch and also a rough one to follow.  The aforementioned breaks from reality made me unsure of what I was watching at times, including instances where I honestly wasn't sure if something was happening in real life or in Lucy's head.  And the film goes off the rails at the end, really ratcheting up everything about the experience.  It goes to 11 pretty quickly and it felt like a rapid jump to extremes.  And the ending left me unsatisfied and with more questions.  It definitely plays with the viewers, making them question again what is happening, but it also does not fully resolve the story. 

False Positive is a sinister and empowering look at the birthing experience with a great sense of dread and a complicated story that rails against the patriarchy. 

Rent it.
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False Positive premieres on June 25, 2021 exclusively on Hulu

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Thursday, June 24, 2021

Interview: Matt Ogens Director of Audible Netflix Coming of Age Sports Documentary Maryland School For The Deaf

Matt Ogens, Director of Audible, a Netflix Coming of Age Documentary About students at the Maryland School For The Deaf. We talk about the movie, how he found this story, and some of the challenges of filming a documentary about teenagers! We also discuss the incredible students that are chronicled in this short. So give it a watch and make sure to check out Audible, streaming exclusively on Netflix on July 1, 2021! Release date: July 1, 2021 Running time: 68 minutes Directed By: Matt Ogens Starring: Amaree McKenstry-Hall Synopsis: Audible is a cinematic and immersive coming of age documentary following Maryland School for the Deaf high school athlete Amaree McKenstry and his close friends as they face the pressures of senior year and grappling with the realities of venturing off into the hearing world. Amaree and his teammates take out their frustrations on the football field as they battle to protect an unprecedented winning streak, while coming to terms with the tragic loss of a close friend. This is a story about kids who stand up to adversity. They face conflict, but approach the future with hope – shouting to the world that they exist and they matter.

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The Evil Next Door Review: A Stylish Haunted House Movie That Doesn't Bring Anything New

Directed by: Oskar MellanderTord Danielsson Starring: Dilan GwynEddie Eriksson DominguezLinus WahlgrenTroy JamesSander FalkKarin Lithman

Release date: June 25, 2021
Running time: 88 minutes
Written and Directed by: Oskar Mellender and Tord Danielsson
Starring: Dilan Gwyn and Eddie Eriksson Dominguez

New to her stepmom role Shirin moves into a duplex with her partner, Fredrik, and his son, Lucas. The new home feels like the right place to start becoming a family. But when Fredrik leaves for work, strange things are heard from the other, uninhabited side. Also, who is Lucas’ new friend?.

The Evil Next Door has a really good sense of style to evoke the dread that this film needs.  The color palette is muted and dark, which fits with the themes and makes for a movie that accentuates the dread.  The film has a nice start that introduces us to the family and their son, Lucas.  It is your typical family moves into a potentially haunted house story, but it is one that hits all the notes you would expect.  And like those stories, the film has a good build up and sense of suspense as more and more unsettling occurrences happen around them.  I liked that it did not build up too quickly or reveal anything too early.

However, The Evil Next Door feels like a past family moves into a haunted house story and that is because it really is.  Take some parts the Conjuring, some parts The Boy, and a splash of other stories and you have a general idea of what happens in this film.  The tropes have all been used before and the formula for the film is something that we have seen many times over.  I often enjoy foreign films because generally those films bring something new to the table but I don't think that was the case of The Evil Next Door.  And despite the generally well done style, the film's effects have a clear use of CG that is distracting, especially for the big reveal when we first see the supernatural characters.  It is a shame too because the setup is not bad and the characters and acting are all good, but it just feels like this is a movie we have seen before.

The Evil Next Door has good performances and a sense of style, but the film uses noticeable CG and the story feels like something we have seen many times before. 

Pass on it. 

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The Evil Next Door is in theaters, digital, and on demand on June 25, 2021.  For showtimes, click herehere.

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Mary J. Blige's My Life Review: An Insightful Look At This Soulful Artist

Taraji P. Henson	...	Self Alicia Keys	Alicia Keys	...	Self Mary J. Blige	Mary J. Blige	...	Self Sean 'Diddy' Combs	Sean 'Diddy' Combs	...	Self Produced by  Mary J. Blige	...	executive producer Sean 'Diddy' Combs	...	executive producer Mark Ford	...	executive producer Shannon Green	...	coordinating producer Tara Long	...	executive producer Kevin Lopez	...	executive producer Brianna Oh	...	Studio Executive: Amazon Studios

Release date: June 25, 2021
Running time: 82 minutes
Directed by  Vanessa Roth
Produced by Ashaunna K. Ayars and Q. Nicole Jackson
Executive Produced by Mary J. Blige, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Tara Long, Mark Ford, Kevin Lopez, Jeffrey Harleston and Jody Gerson

Nine-time Grammy®-winning recording artist and Academy Award nominated singer and actress Mary J. Blige set the music world on fire with her trailblazing 1994 LP “My Life,” a collection of powerful confessionals about her battles with abuse, depression and addiction that forged a profound and enduring connection with millions of fans around the globe. In Oscar®-winning filmmaker Vanessa Roth’s documentary Mary J. Blige’s My Life, the singer, producer and actress reveals the demons and blessings that inspired the record and propelled her from the soul-crushing world of New York’s housing projects to international stardom. In the process, she celebrates the 25th anniversary of her most influential work by performing the album live for the first time. 

Amazon has been knocking it out of the park with these music documentaries and Mary J. Blige's My Life is no exception.  Although it is probably the weakest of these films, it is still a powerful documentary that looks into the life of this influential artist.  This movie gives the viewers something I have been asking for the last two that came out, more information about the backstory of this international artist.  And Mary J. Blige makes sense to focus on this as she has such a powerful, inspirational story behind her rise to superstardom.  Her background is tied into who she is and how she performs that it makes sense to focus on this aspect.  I really liked the focus on what made her sound so unique and perfect for the time.  

But one thing you will notice about this film is the effect that Blige's music has on the fans.  There are many testimonials peppered throughout this documentary that showcase just how important she is to her fans.  Mary J. Blige gave a voice to so many and it is inspiring to see this relayed on screen.  And unlike the other Amazon documentaries, Mary J. Blige's My Life is much more in a documentary format.  It has statements from the artist herself, but it also contains testimonials from prominent artists about her music and singing.  These are a whos who of music personalities and it is insightful to hear her peers discuss what makes her style so special.  

However, although I did enjoy it, the film was a slow endeavor.  It had lots of testimonials and information from Blige herself, but the film had a relaxed, laid back pace to it.  It made for an insightful film, but one that also felt like it dragged.  Additionally, for a movie about her music, it didn't seem like it was featured that much of it.  I wanted to hear more from her catalogue, and hear more stories about how different songs came into being.  They were there, but I definitely but I just wanted more of it.  Blige is a prominent artist but I haven't heard many of her songs in years, so it would have been a nice excuse to reacquaint myself with her catalogue.   

Mary J. Blige's My Life tells the story of this influential artist who inspired and gave a voice to so many young men and women and gives insights on what makes her sound so special.

Watch it.

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Mary J. Blige's My Life is available on Amazon Prime Video on May 21, 2020.