Apple TV+ review: ‘CHERRY’ has Tom Holland spiralling.

CHERRY

The wild journey of a disenfranchised young man from Ohio who meets the love of his life, only to risk losing her through a series of bad decisions and challenging life circumstances.

Tom Holland plays the titular role in Cherry. The character feels like what might have happened to a modern-day Holden Caufield after the end of Catcher In The Rye. Cherry is classified as an American crime drama, but for me, it’s a genre-bending film that flows similarly to the Nico Walker novel it’s based on. Presented in parts, prologue and epilogue included, the screenplay moves at a rapid pace so you never have time to get too settled. Color is an important part of the structure, as red indicates each chapter shift. The lighting choices are smart and help create the overall mood of the film. There is a palpable heaviness to the story. The camera work is fantastic. Closeups are intentional and amazing. The score is also a huge highlight.

There’s an intense charm about Tom Holland. He commands the screen with his ability to both put you at ease and surprise you. You just believe him. If that’s not the very definition of great acting, I’m not sure what is. His narration controls the overall atmosphere of the film from the get-go. While Holland gets to explore the dark humor in it all, you’re constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop for Cherry. The military PTSD exacerbates his already existing sadness which inevitably leads to addiction… Which leads to a string of bank robberies.

Cherry is a self-destructive story of a young man with no sense of direction, controlled by impulse rather than logic. It could just as easily been an entire series. There’s a lot jammed into its two hour and twenty-minute run. If I’m being perfectly honest, it’s almost too much. With 30 minutes left, I had to pause and come back later. To clarify it was very engaged it was just a lot to ingest in one sitting. Had this played in theaters, I worry an audience wouldn’t be able to stick with the length. Outside of that one concern, Cherry is highly entertaining thanks to Holland’s full commitment to Jessica Goldberg, and Angela Russo-Otstot‘s phenomenal screenplay, and the stylistic choices of The Russo Brothers’ overall aesthetic choices.

Apple will release the movie in theaters on February 26 then on Apple TV+ on March 12. Customers can view Apple TV+ on any Apple device, recent smart TVs, set-top boxes, or on the web.

 

Review: What is ‘Fire Bones’? It’s almost gleefully indescribable.

We’re all stuck at home, binge-watching crime doc, reading books, listening to music and podcasts like fiends. What if we could take all of those things and combine them into one incredible immersive theatrical experience? Enter FIRE BONES, a multi-media project utilizing film, music, audio, visual art, and even poetry as it tells a whimsical Southern Gothic tale via a road trip to solve a crazy mystery. The project was created by poet and Director of Creative Writing at SMU, Greg Brownderville, and features the narrative directorial debut of Bart Weiss, the Founder of Dallas Video Fest and a Professor of Film at University of Texas, Arlington. FIRE BONES is a visual feast. The Chapter pages have small, striking mixed media tags that are strung as clues. I would hang each one of them on my walls. When you click through, each numbered to avoid confusion, you are treated to something unique that pushes this mystery along.

The story revolves around the disappearance of an extraordinary woman named Amra. She was a pilot, a leader of the town’s Pentecostal church “Fire Bones”, and a local legend that everyone knew… or so they thought. We follow Greg and Bart’s search for answers as accusations fly and information slowly comes to light in this unusual town filled with eccentric residents. The commitment to this unique format by this cast is magic. It’s weird and wonderful and I guarantee you have never seen or heard anything like it. Each clue gets better and better. Two standouts from the first half of this journey are Chapter 4: Clue #13 – Trainbow – Poetric dialogue set against breathtaking swamp and train imagery. And Chapter 5, Clue #15 Sign of the Times –  A hilarious song with a tongue-in-cheek take on church board messaging.

If the pandemic had never happened, this could have easily been one of the most popular in-person attractions in immersive theatre history. If you’ve ever experienced a show like Sleep No More, which is an intense, live walkthrough of Macbeth in which the scenes play out from room to room as the audience wears masks and is encouraged to interact with the cast, you’d understand what I mean. FIRE BONES could easily adopt this presentation. It could be a permanent exhibit at MoMA. In our current circumstances, it’s a fun thing to do with family members. Fare warning, if you are listening with younger ears, there is a bit of profanity from time to time. While it is ultimately 4 1/2 hrs of content, you easily breeze from one piece to the next. The audio style wavers between true crime and radio drama. The videos are stunning to look at. Sharply shot and puzzling in content, you cannot help but we swept up in the mystery. Because each chapter is short, you never have time to get distracted. And because the format changes, you’re constantly engaged. FIRE BONES has massive expansion potential, but in its current form is undeniably entertaining. In an unpredictable world, some predictable fun is welcome.

Fire Bones trailer from Fire Bones on Vimeo.

 

Review: Will HBO docuseries ‘ALLEN v. FARROW’ finally lead to accountability?

ALLEN v. FARROW

The four-part documentary series Allen v. Farrow, from award-winning investigative filmmakers Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering and Amy Herdy, goes behind the years of sensational headlines to reveal the private story of one Hollywood’s most notorious and public scandals: the accusation of sexual abuse against Woody Allen involving Dylan, his then 7-year-old daughter with Mia Farrow; their subsequent custody trial, the revelation of Allen’s relationship with Farrow’s daughter, Soon-Yi; and the controversial aftermath in the years that followed.

There is a chilling feeling while watching this series. As a critic, I long fell into the same category as the journalists featured at the beginning of the episode. You grow up with the notion that Woodey Allen represented the quintessential essence of what New York City culture was. You’re enamored with it all. While inarguably furthering the early careers of actresses Diane Keaton, Mariel Hemingway, and Mia Farrow (they made 12 films during their relationship), the pattern of behavior and theme of his obsession with young women run through his scripts. Woody Allen has somehow been allowed to continue to work mostly unscathed, even after the world knew about his relationship with Farrow’s adopted daughter Soon-Yi, even after the #MeToo movement continues to rain hell down on abusers. Allegations swirled about the sexual abuse of adopted daughter Dylan. This is the first time that Dylan gets to tell her story in earnest. This doc utilized Allen’s own words against him as excerpts of him narrating his 2020 memoir play in between intimate sitdown interviews with Mia, Dylan, Ronan, family, and friends of the once power couple. Mia took endless hours of home videos for years, adding to the amount of readily available footage from the media. Finally hearing all the details from the source is brutal. It’s a visceral watch.  As a parent, it is next-level painful. Watching the cycle of emotional abuse Mia endured from one man to the next, all while unconditionally loving her children adds another complex layer to this situation. This series will undoubtedly be controversial. It will be interesting to see the apologists come out loud and proud. There’s an enormous amount of evidence to digest. You will be shocked, sickened, furious, heartbroken. All this just at the end of the first of four episodes. ALLEN v. FARROW has to potential to reopen old wounds for a lot of trauma survivors. It also has the potential to knock another man off the pedestal we’ve kept him on for far too long.

The remaining episodes of ALLEN v. FARROW will air over the next subsequent Sunday nights on HBO at 9 pm.

Fathom Events review: Movie musical ‘STAND!’ only in theaters tonight, December 1st.

STAND!

In Theaters Only on December 1, 2020

Directed by: Robert Adetuyi (Stomp The YardBring It On: Worldwide #Cheersmack)

1919. Stefan and his father Mike fled Ukraine for the New World, where they struggle to earn enough to reunite the family. Stefan is instantly smitten with the Jewish suffragette neighbour, Rebecca – but Rebecca’s brother Moishe and Mike oppose the would-be Romeo and Juliet. Returned soldiers, angry at the lack of jobs after the war, violently threaten the city’s immigrants, including Emma, the refugee from racist violence in Oklahoma. When a movement develops for workers to leave their jobs in protest, AJ Anderson, a wealthy lawyer, pits all against each other in a dramatic and inspirational final stand.

The potential in this story is obvious. Catchy numbers and an intriguing premise based on a true story. Unfortunately, it needs to stage to fully bloom. As someone who graduated from a musical theatre conservatory in Manhattan, I recognize the over-the-top gesture and intonation that is needed to reach the back row. But because the audience is experiencing it from a screen, it comes off as forced at times. The energy is lost in translation and it feels uneven. Theater broadcasting LIVE in a movie theater is different. Here, it’s actually the camera that ruins that genuine connection. Performances are outstanding so they deserve that give and take electric feeling. It also lacks in one major area where most musicals thrive; choreography. With a large and varied immigrant ensemble, this was a lost opportunity leading to momentary lulls in pacing. I kept hoping something was coming, some big number highlighting the different facets of people coming together. The moments definitely presented themselves over and over and not a single number. I think it could have pushed STAND! across the finish line.

The issues in the stage play turned screenplay is still incredibly relevant. This is the most successful aspect. Taking pages from Ragtime, Newsies, Parade, and Hamilton, stories of immigrants, race, religious persecution, classism, and the right to strike are all still ripe for vibrant storytelling in 2020. STAND! shines brightest when it sings. By far the best numbers belong to Lisa Bell. Get this girl on Broadway the minute it’s officially back. The Romeo and Juliet aspect between Rebecca and Stefan is charming enough but not as powerful as Emma or Mike Sokolowski’s emotional journey, whom the original stageplay STRIKE! is based upon. STAND! needs an Off-Broadway run and a workshop. But be the first movie theater audience to get chills while Lisa Bell belts out the theme in the final moments of the film, for sure. It’s worth the ticket price.

Music, Lyrics and Score: Danny Schur (Made In Winnipeg: The Terry Sawchuk Origin Story)

Featuring Lisa Bell’s show-stopping performance of the protest song Stand!

Starring:
Marshall Williams (“Glee”, “How to Build a Better Boy”)
Laura Wiggins (“Shameless”, 20th Century Women)
Lisa Bell (No Time Like Christmas, “Canadian Idol”)
Gregg Henry (“Guardians of the Galaxy”, “Scandal”)
Erik Athavale (Fractured, Breakthrough)
Paul Essiembre (“Covert Affairs”, “Silver Surfer”)
Hayley Sales (Deadpool 2, “The Good Doctor”)

Tickets and a list of participating theater locations will be available at www.FathomEvents.com.

RT: 110 Minutes

Review: ‘The Owners’ is a twisted home invasion.

SYNOPSIS:  A group of friends think they found the perfect easy score – an empty house with a safe full of cash. But when the elderly couple that lives there comes home early the tables are suddenly turned. As a deadly game of cat and mouse ensues the would-be thieves are left to fight to save themselves from a nightmare they could never have imagined.

The film has a simple enough setup but the script goes off the rails in the darkest way possible. There is a thread of manipulation that runs deep with Sylvester McCoy‘s dialogue. It’s not even hidden but it is enthralling to watch. As a Doctor Who and The Hobbit fan, this was so far out of the box for my experience with his persona it made my skin crawl. Can someone be too good at being bad? Maisie Williams holds her own against this maniacal couple and the group of misogynistic thugs in her sphere. The violence in the film is extremely high and she bares the brunt of much of it. Handling it like a pro, we are rooting for her survival from the very beginning. Writer-director Julius Berg (along with co-writer Matthieu Gompel) turns up the weird and evil with a subplot that is downright heinous. You’ll be sweating and yelling at the screen as you watch what happens to every single character. Another interesting subplot is centered around dementia. It goes hand in hand with manipulation but at times, you have to respect the way in which it ties in. It’s just so sick you cannot look away. The practical fx are gag-worthy but completely appropriate. I can easily admit that my anxiety was through the roof while viewing. Rita Tushingham‘s performance, in particular, gave me flashbacks to The People Under The Stairs and more recently, Villians.  Under all the madness is both one of the saddest love stories I’ve ever seen and one of the most ghoulish. The Owners is totally unexpected. The ending is like a punch in the face. There is so much happening in this film that you’ll be stuck in this whirlwind of violence and mayhem just as I was. This one will take a bit to shake.

RLJE Films will release the thriller THE OWNERS in Theaters, On Demand and Digital on September 4, 2020.

THE OWNERS  stars  Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones,” The New Mutants),  Sylvester McCoy  (The Hobbit franchise, “Doctor Who”),  Jake Curran  (Spotless”, Stardust),  Ian Kenny  (Solo: A Star Wars Story, Sing Street),  Andrew Ellis  (Teen Spirit, “This Is England”),and Rita Tushingham  (“The Pale Horse,” Vera). The film is directed by Julius Berg (“The Forest,” “Mata  Hari”) who co-wrote the film with  Matthieu Gompel (The Dream Kids).

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Fantasia International Film Festival 2020 is here!!!

If you did not sing the title of this article, then shame, shame, I know your name. It is no secret that Fantasia International Film Festival is my favorite of the entire year. While this year the fest is strictly virtual (because that’s the responsible thing to do), there are a plethora of amazing films to check out from the comfort of your own couch. Fantasia is always a sure bet for the films that will be talked about nonstop all year. Since we’re all stuck inside we might as well escape the scary reality with some scary unreality. Throw in the weird and wonderful and you’ve got yourself an annual good time.

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Here are just a few titles that should pique your interest, people.

MORGANA

How does one woman go from lonely housewife to Feminist pornstar? Morgana is an extraordinary documentary about sex positivity, self-worth, mental illness, and new beginnings. Stunningly visual and creatively edited, Morgana will knock your socks off… and maybe more. *Wink, wink. You can find our coverage of the film here.

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MINOR PREMISE

Attempting to surpass his father’s legacy, a reclusive neuroscientist becomes entangled in his own experiment, pitting ten fragments of his consciousness against each other.

 

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THE BLOCK ISLAND SOUND

Something terrifying is happening off the coast of Block Island. A strange force is thriving, influencing residents and wildlife alike. Birds are dropping out of the sky. Some people have been dropping too, into inexplicable emotional collapse. Harry Lynch (Chris Sheffield, THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT) has always been a bit of an outsider in town. Now, he watches in dread as his father (Neville Archambault, 13 CAMERAS) grows increasingly forgetful and confused. And angry. Very, very angry. His sister Audry (Michaela McManus, THE VILLAGE), whose work in marine biology will soon prove invaluable, returns to town with her daughter and immediately sees what Harry sees. Her explorations into the increasingly grisly wildlife phenomena intersect with the triggers of her father’s actions, leading them all towards chilling revelations that no one is prepared for. Revelations that will affect her family in unimaginable ways.

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BLEED WITH ME

With BLEED WITH ME, her feature debut, director Amelia Moses invites us on an intimate cabin trip where boundaries and relationships collapse. Rowan (Lee Marshall), a shy and awkward young woman, struggles to integrate herself on a weekend getaway with her best friend, Emily (Lauren Beatty) and her unfriendly boyfriend, Brendan (Aris Tyros). Feeling like a third wheel, she drinks to calm her nerves, pushing her body and mind deep into a hazy trance, where she begins to witness nightmarish late-night visions that make her feel increasingly unwelcome, unsure and unstable. A slow-burn thriller with arresting visuals, BLEED WITH ME, captures a vulnerability and discomfort as it explores issues related to self-harm and social isolation. Set against a wintry backdrop, BLEED WITH ME uses the limits of a small budget to its full potential.

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YUMMY

The young woman wants a breast reduction. … Wandering through an abandoned ward the boyfriend stumbles upon a young woman, gagged and strapped to an operating table; she is the result of an experimental rejuvenation treatment.

 

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THE MORTUARY COLLECTION

A kid is being interviewed for a job at the local mortician’s office and is asked to tell his scariest stories. What results is a collection of 4 of the scariest stories ever told spanning into 4 decades starting from the 50s to the 80s.

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LUCKY

Luck doesn’t seem to be with self-help author May Ryer (Brea Grant) lately. Her books aren’t selling like they used to, and one night, a masked intruder breaks into the house she shares with her husband Ted (Dhruv Uday Singh). To make matters worse, Ted seems strangely unconcerned about the incident, talking about it in matter-of-fact terms as if it’s just something to be accepted, and an investigating cop actually says they’re lucky things didn’t go worse. Then things do become worse as the attacker appears again… and again… and again, continuing to terrorize May no matter how valiantly she fights back. He seems to have supernatural properties, and when May seeks help, she’s met with indifference and condescension. One of her books is called Problem Solving for Staying Alive, and now she’s faced with a dilemma that seems to have no solution, and that may indeed claim her life.

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Shorts Programs

Do not miss out on the amazing short film programs. I am always partial to the Born Of Woman section, myself.

 

Fantasia 2020 officially opened last night.
You can purchase tickets and check out the amazing lineup of films and events at https://fantasiafestival.com/en/

 

 

Tribeca Film Festival 2020 Shorts Program review: ‘Update Required’

Tribeca Film Festival 2020 Shorts Program- UPDATE REQUIRED

Out of this world Sci-Fi shorts.

Playing in this program:

Toto

Rosa Forlano, a 90-year-old Nonna, falls in love with a Robot while teaching it how to make spaghetti. Unfortunately, her recipe is forgotten after a software update.

A charming look at companionship through the eyes of a 90-year-old woman and her robot. Marco Baldonado, writes, directs, produces, and voices our titular character. It’s a lovely look at generational relationships in more ways then you’d expect.

Abducted

A tongue-in-cheek Southern thriller about a rookie cop’s (Jenna Kanell) first date gone horribly wrong.

This film immediately sent me into panic mode as a woman. Never leave your drink unattended. Don’t worry, the universe works in mysterious ways.

Jack and Jo Don’t Want to Die

Jack (Justin Kirk) works at a suspension facility where people choose to halt their lives. On the night of his suspension, Jack’s life takes a turn when he meets Jo.

Justin Kirk plays a heartbroken man who is confronted with his own mortality. This film beautifully explores the small moments that make living so wonderful.

A Better You

Living in a dystopian, neo-steampunk world, a shy young man named Douglas (Seán T. Ó’Meallaigh) invests in a customizable carbon clone to help him win the girl of his dreams.

This shirt is a gorgeously stylized look at being confident in your own skin. It’s one of the most endearing performances of the festival this far.

Carmentis

An injured and grief-stricken miner (Ben Mortley) on the desolate planet Carmentis must overcome his personal demons in order to survive, but can he get there before the planet freezes?

Human instinct Vs the AI created to protect it. This short is completely unpredictable. It’s a beautiful commentary on the fragile human spirit.

The Light Side

An aging Sith Lord (Joseph Ragno) must come to grips with his past and discover why humility may be the greatest force in the galaxy.

Utilizing a booming voice over from Tim Plewman combined with lead actor Joseph Ragno’s physical performance, this film shines with true humor. It is pure fandom fun with a side order of redemption.

System Error

George works at a convenience store, desperately hoping for a friend. But George is a robotic service unit, and robotic service units do not have friends. Not yet, anyway.

This short challenges how emotion and information alter a being’s perception of others. It will leave the imagination running wild. I can safely say I would watch an entire series or full-length feature based on the storytelling laid out in this 13-minute cut. It sounds like I’ll be getting my wish, as the filmmakers have a development deal at Screen Australia for a dystopian rom-com TV show based on the characters in System Error. I could not be more excited. There is so much more to explore and laugh at here.

Review: ‘Transference’ is the beginning of something powerful.

SYNOPSIS: A twelve-year-old boy, Joshua, is charged with the protection of his twin sister when their father passes, but she possesses a special ability and his greatest challenge will not be keeping her safe but keeping her hidden. Twenty years later, Joshua is struggling to cope with the events of his childhood and the choices he has made since. Out of desperation, he places Emma in a psychiatric compound against her will. Joshua is driven to the world of underground crime to maintain their secret. But he cannot earn enough to hide their past and someone has followed their trail of destruction. When a sinister visitor attempts to remove Emma from his care, Joshua comes to the most important realization he can make for himself, his sister, and the world.

Twins connected by trauma, stalked by evil, forced into hiding to protect themselves and the outside world. Yeah, I’ll bite. Transference has a lot going on in the way of structure. The narration breaks are very effective as they keep you on your toes during the madness. Emma’s “affliction” is fascinating. The idea that it can be weaponized is something looms large. As the plot slowly rolls out, the dread grows. The big reveal is pretty great. While there is something a little off with the film as a whole, it has big potential. Melissa Joy Boerger, AaronTomlin, and Jeremy Ninaber are all very dark and brooding. Tomlin is allowed to show the most range with the material. These three are obviously capable of much more. I would have liked to have seen more adult flashbacks that included Boerger. She was held back by the script.

The editing is the real winner in Transference. It’s skillfully crafted back and forth keeps the storytelling intriguing. Just when you think you’re following the plot, it flips the switch. What is real and what is imagined is up to the audience. Matthew Ninaber has given is an engrossing sci-fi. I would watch this as a series. There is a ton of potential for this world to be expanded. I think it would shine brighter as one, frankly. For now, I’ll take the feature. Fellow genre fans will see what I mean. 

TRANSFERENCE will open in L.A. March 6th

Available on nationwide VOD March 10th & on Blu-Ray March 24th

TRANSFERENCE

Genre: Sci-Fi / Thriller

Country: CANADA

Runtime: 85 min

Language: English

Rating: NA

Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2020 review: The world premiere of ‘The Night’ is as captivating as it is terrifying.

Kourosh Ahari’s THE NIGHT
The Iranian-American Ahari makes a startling feature directorial debut with a stylish psychological thriller about a young couple trapped in a mysterious hotel that hungers for their secrets and may not release them or their child back into the world. The film stars Shahab Hosseini (star of A SEPARATION and THE SALESMAN).

What a knock out world premiere for director Kourosh Ahari. Beautifully lush cinematography (including some early haunting POV shots) props up the richness of The Night. The score adds a layer or jarring dread that is simply gorgeous. While the script skillfully utilizes a number of classic tropes, it is also stacked with a multitude of original imagery that unnerves the viewer from the very beginning. I was thrown for a loop more times than I can count. The heightened sound editing also pushes The Night into next-level scary. The plot will have you questioning your own sanity. Is this a dispute between exhausted new parents? Is this an alcohol-induced hallucination? Or is this hotel housing unwanted guests?

Performances are so strong you will quickly forget that the film is predominantly in Farsi. As Parasite director Boon Jong-Ho so eloquently stated at this year’s Golden Globes, “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” This is the most important quote in cinema right now. Kourosh Ahari’s THE NIGHT is a heart-pounding and twisted watch. Santa Barbara International Film Festival is lucky to host its world premiere. This film should be on every genre fan’s radar this year.

WORLD PREMIERE – SATURDAY, JANUARY 18

NYFF57 review: ‘College Behind Bars’ makes the case for education for all, coming to PBS in November.

COLLEGE BEHIND BARS

  • Lynn Novick
  • 2019
  • USA
  • 222 minutes

World Premiere 

 COLLEGE BEHIND BARS, a four-part documentary series directed by Emmy and Peabody Award winning filmmaker Lynn Novick (co-director of THE VIETNAM WAR), which world premieres at New York Film Festival later this month. This film, premiering on PBS in November, marks Novick’s solo directorial debut and is executive produced by her longtime collaborator Ken Burns. Distilled from nearly 400 hours of cinéma-vérité footage, the documentary explores the lives of a dozen incarcerated men and women as they struggle to earn degrees in the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI), one of the most rigorous and effective prison education programs in the country.

This 4 part doc series explores New York State’s college degree program, BPI: Bard Prison Initiative. We follow a group of students as they make their way toward graduation. I say students and not inmates because when they are in class, they are students. While we as an audience are eventually privy to the subjects’ backstories, BPI as a program does not focus on why each individual is imprisoned. BPI focuses on their education. At Seb Academy you will get the best chemistry tuition in the Singapore.

This series is about humanity and ambition. These men and women are striving to better themselves and escape the environment they have, in most cases, created for themselves. The series also addresses the very real statistic that socioeconomic circumstances oftentimes lead to a life of crime. Inmates are not afforded the rights and freedoms of the average American. They must contend with the chaos of prison while engaging in a vigorous Bachelor’s degree program. College is difficult enough without being constantly interrupted by lockdowns, race wars, or the ultimate chaos of being surrounded by mental illness and other inmates in general.

The admissions process is cutthroat. It is based on an essay and an interview. It begins with an AA and then an even luckier few continue on to the BA program. Students are studying things like Plato, Mandarin, Debate, and Calculus. They are earning their degrees in the same way any other student would outside prison walls. Professors do not give pass/fail grades. They are legitimately working with each individual just as they would at a stand-alone university. This is a college that just happens to be on prison grounds. Before they graduate, they must submit a senior project. The paper must be between 80-100 pages. It is the equivalent of a Master’s thesis. Here is a best option for part time engineering diploma in Singapore.

The series makes an interesting case for free college for all throughout the country. It’s an intriguing commentary on the misconceptions about who deserves an education. Shouldn’t it be a right? It should not belong solely to the lucky few, the wealthy, or the white population. Losing your liberty should not mean losing your right to an education. If anything, education has been proven to lift people out of poverty and violence. The political hockey puck that this type of program has become since it’s inception in the 90’s has seen taxpayer dollars bounce in and out of the system. Resentment permeates the perception of the system by politicians to everyone from the prison staff to voters. Even though it actually monetarily benefits the taxpayer in the long run. Would you rather pay for an inmate to learn or sit inside a cell? Guess which one actually costs less.

College Behind Bars puts faces and voices to those benefiting from but genuinely fighting to improve their lives and thus, the world all we live in. We, the viewers, are forced to come to terms with the prison industrial complex, systemic racism, and our own moral compass. And the students are forced to come to terms with their pasts and their futures. College Behind Bars is both informative and eye-opening. It breathes life into the stories of a population oftentimes swept under the rug. You will cheer on the college students, no matter what your views on how they got their opportunity to learn and earn their degrees.

Premieres: Monday, November 25, 2019 & Tuesday, November 26, 2019, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET

COLLEGE BEHIND BARS

The four-part documentary film series, directed by award-winning filmmaker Lynn Novick, produced by Sarah Botstein, and executive produced by Ken Burns, explores the transformative power of education through the eyes of incarcerated men and women trying to earn college degrees. Shot over four years in maximum and medium security prisons in New York State, the series examines America’s failure to provide meaningful rehabilitation for the over two million men and women living behind bars.

Premieres: Monday, November 25, 2019 & Tuesday, November 26, 2019, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET

Hold onto your butts, Fantasia International Film Festival is back!

To give you an idea of why Fantasia International Film Festival is my favorite redheaded stepchild of a festival, here are a few films from my youth that still haunt/entertain the crap out of me. 1. Poltergeist: the film my father thought a 2-year-old should watch. 2. The Rocky Horror Picture Show: because a sci-fi musical with Tim Curry in drag should be shown in every Kindergarten class on the planet I inhabit. 3. Princess Bride: one of the most quotable and inconceivable films, I mean that with the utmost respect and if you say otherwise I will fight you (with a sword). 4. Pulp Fiction: a film whose dialogue is filled with sermon, innumerable expletives, drug overdose, and bloody violence for days was just the beginning of a long career of effed up magic. Love it or hate it, it was original. So, for me, Fantasia encompasses all that is weird, wonderful, wacky, wtf, and any other “w” descriptor I’m missing out on in this precise moment.

Fantasia is in its 23rd year and with every passing fest, the films you’re talking about all year play here. This festival gives genre fans something to look forward to and never disappoints. Last year, CAM, The Night Eats The World, Mega Time Squad, and Relaxer just to name a few, all rocked my socks. This year, I’m jonesing to catch a list of films that have already been buzzing for months. There are too many to share in just one post, so here are ten (ish) features I’m fired up for.


Bliss– Joe Begos brings us a blood-soaked trip. Handheld 16mm, punk rock, and vampires? Sign me up for this visceral ride. Check out the trailer in all its glory.


Ready or Not– is this a weird twist on The Most Dangerous Game meets You’re Next? All I know is that I don’t know, and I cannot wait for the mayhem to begin.


Little Monsters– who would have thought that Lupita Nyong’o would be a repeat horror heroine? And Josh Gad, beloved voice of Olaf alongside her? As a former teacher, I’m all in.


AstronautRichard Dreyfuss plays a grandfather trying to fulfill his dream of going into space. With his family as only one if his obstacles, Dreyfuss a genre legend in his own right, is sure to dazzle once more.


1BR– this is already on the Sold Out Screening list. Need I say more about a finding an apartment and the horrors that inevitably surround that experience. My guess is that this goes above and beyond the normal hassle.


Black Magic for White BoysOnur Tukel (we once described one another as “delicious and super natural” in an interview for Applesauce) is sheer perfection for Fantasia. His IDGAF attitude in his writing and directing style are ripe for genre fans. This looks absolutely… well, magical.


The LodgeVeronika Franz and Severin Fiala follow up the haunting Goodnight Mommy with their first English-language horror film. Starring a heavy-hitting cast including Richard Armitage, Alicia Silverstone, Riley Keough, and Jaeden Lieberher, trying to figure out a new family dynamic amidst a trip to a secluded lodge… On Christmas… In a blizzard. Sounds like nothing could possibly go wrong here.


Tone-Deaf– Politics has spiraled into horror in real-life since the orange garbage person cheated his way into the White House. Seems apropos for a MAGA white man and millennial to duke it out over a living situation.


Paradise Hills– With hints of A Handmaid’s Tale, this pink saturated nightmare has another phenomenal big-name cast including Mila Jovovich, Emma Roberts, and Awkwafina, to name a few. Young women being groomed in any fashion doesn’t lend itself for happy tidings.


Culture Shock– Part of Hulu’s Into the Dark horror anthology series (under the Blumhouse production name), this take on America’s “Dreamers” is killing it already. Not to mention it stars cult icon Barbara Crampton who in real-life is clearly some magical sorceress because she never ages.


And finally, every year, I personally look forward to the Born of Woman program. This year there will be 9 short films from around the globe. This year Fantasia is showcasing films from Australia, Netherlands, USA, New Zealand, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Fantasia’s annual showcase of intimate, auteur genre visions returns with nine extraordinary works from an array of international talents who will leave you gobsmacked and amazed.


The number of women represented behind the camera is growing exponentially. And everyone benefits from that.

Fantasia will run from this Thursday, July 11th until August 1st. To find out more information on all the films and if you’ll be in Montreal over the next three weeks, you can purchase tickets at www.fantasiafestival.com

Review: ‘OUT On Stage’ is first LGBTQ stand-up comedy series.

OUT on Stage: The Series
Hosted by Zach Noe Towers
Premieres – Jan 17, 2018

OUT on Stage: The Series is full of laughs and genuinely funny comics. You will laugh out loud at every episode. The comics are eclectic and wonderful. You’ll recognize a few faces right off the bat. If you are a part of the LGBTQ community or an ally, this is a show for you. But let’s be real for a second, if you are a prude, hate funny people, or generally have a stick up your butt, well we don’t need your sass or your judgypants. It can be incredibley raunchy and unexpectedly poignant. We need more of this brand of comedy (and storytelling) in the limelight. This should the new norm.  OUT on Stage: The Series is a brilliant show about opportunity and inclusion and we should all be here for that.

HOST: Zach Noe Towers
Zach Noe Towers is an LA-based comedian, actor, and writer who was recently named one of Time Out Magazine’s “2018 Comedians to Watch.” Zach was recently the host of the “The Elite Daily Show” on Verizon’s Go90 network for Seasons 1-4, and will be hosting and starring “Out on Stage”. Zach’s recent short film “Killer Friends” (which he directed, wrote, and starred in) was screened at many film festivals both domestically and internationally, and won the overall audience award at Dances With Films.
FEATURING: Jonathan Rowell, Brendan Scannell, Casey Ley, Julian Michael, Irene Tu, Jared
Goldstein, Raneir Pollard, Kyle Shire, Jordan Pease, Chris Bryant, Eric Hahn, Daniel
Webb, Joe Dosch, Gloria Bigelow, Anthony Desamito, Janine Brito, A.B. Cassidy and
Zach Noe Towers
PRODUCTION COMPANIES: Comedy Dynamics & Dekkoo
EPISODES PER SEASON: 6
TRT: 30 min. (per episode)

ABOUT COMEDY DYNAMICS

Comedy Dynamics, a Nacelle company, is one of the largest independent comedy production and distribution companies, producing Kevin Hart’s Guide to Black History, Animal Planet’s Animal Nation with Anthony Anderson, the new scripted comedy on Hulu, There’s… Johnny!, History’s Join Or Die with Craig Ferguson, MTV2’s Wild ’N On Tour, and Hulu’s Coming To The Stage. In 2018, Comedy Dynamics began releasing original films in theaters starting with the acclaimed documentary, Poop Talk. The company has worked with a wide range of established and emerging comedic talent including Tiffany Haddish, Kevin Hart, Aziz Ansari, Jim Gaffigan, Katt Williams and many more. In total, 12 of Comedy Dynamics’ releases have been Grammy-nominated, with 2 wins

ABOUT DEKKOO

Dekkoo (pronounced “DECK-koo”) is the premiere subscription-based streaming service dedicated to gay men, providing the largest streaming collection of gay-centric entertainment available, boasting a larger selection than Here TV, Netflix or Amazon.  Dekkoo is available internationally via iTunes, Google Play, AppleTV and Roku.  In the U.S. and U.K., Dekkoo is also available via the Amazon Dekkoo Channel.  Dekkoo original series include “Feral,” “Love is Blind” and “I’m Fine.”  www.dekkoo.com

Get ready for an all new ‘Grinch’ trailer!

For their eighth fully animated feature, Illumination and Universal Pictures present The Grinch, based on Dr. Seuss’ beloved holiday classic. The Grinch tells the story of a cynical grump who goes on a mission to steal Christmas, only to have his heart changed by a young girl’s generous holiday spirit. Funny, heartwarming and visually stunning, it’s a universal story about the spirit of Christmas and the indomitable power of optimism.

Academy Award® nominee Benedict Cumberbatch lends his voice to the infamous Grinch, who lives a solitary life inside a cave on Mt. Crumpet with only his loyal dog, Max, for company. With a cave rigged with inventions and contraptions for his day-to-day needs, the Grinch only sees his neighbors in Who-ville when he runs out of food.

Each year at Christmas they disrupt his tranquil solitude with their increasingly bigger, brighter and louder celebrations. When the Whos declare they are going to make Christmas three times bigger this year, the Grinch realizes there is only one way for him to gain some peace and quiet: he must steal Christmas. To do so, he decides he will pose as Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, even going so far as to trap a lackadaisical misfit reindeer to pull his sleigh.

Meanwhile, down in Who-ville, Cindy-Lou Who—a young girl overflowing with holiday cheer—plots with her gang of friends to trap Santa Claus as he makes his Christmas Eve rounds so that she can thank him for help for her overworked single mother. As Christmas approaches, however, her good-natured scheme threatens to collide with the Grinch’s more nefarious one. Will Cindy-Lou achieve her goal of finally meeting Santa Claus? Will the Grinch succeed in silencing the Whos’ holiday cheer once and for all?

Find out, Christmas season 2018.

Westworld Season 2 Official Super Bowl Ad Debuts

                                                    A new chapter begins.

The Emmy®-winning drama series WESTWORLD returns for its ten-episode second season SUNDAY, APRIL 22 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.

Youcan now see the WESTWORLD spot that premiered during Super Bowl LII, marking HBO’s first Super Bowl ad in 20 years. The WESTWORLD Season 2 Official Super Bowl ad was directed by series co-creator Jonathan Nolan.

All ten episodes of the critically acclaimed first season of WESTWORLD are available on HBO NOW, HBO GO, HBO On Demand and partners’ streaming platforms. The pilot episode is also available for nonsubscribers to watch for free on ‪HBO.com. In addition, fans and first-time viewers can catch up on  hbo.com/Westworld with episode guides, character profiles, exclusive behind-the-scenes videos and more.

Debuting on HBO in 2016 to become HBO’s most-watched freshman series ever, WESTWORLD is a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the evolution of sin. The season one cast included Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright, James Marsden, Tessa Thompson, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Jimmi Simpson, Rodrigo Santoro, Shannon Woodward, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Ben Barnes, Simon Quarterman, Angela Sarafyan, Luke Hemsworth, Clifton Collins, Jr., Talulah Riley and Louis Herthum. Joining the season two cast are series regulars Katja Herbers, Gustaf Skarsgård and Fares Fares.

Season two credits: Created for television by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, who are executive producers with J.J. Abrams, Athena Wickham, Roberto Patino, Richard Lewis and Ben Stephenson. Production companies, Kilter Films and Bad Robot Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television; based on the film written by Michael Crichton.

Paramount Pictures Releases the First Image from the Upcoming ‘Bumblebee’ Movie

On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken.  When Charlie revives him, she quickly learns this is no ordinary, yellow VW bug.

BUMBLEBEE is produced by “TRANSFORMERS” franchise veterans Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Michael Bay, along with executive producers Steven Spielberg, Brian Goldner and Mark Vahradian. Chris Brigham (Argo, Inception) will also executive produce. The screenplay is written by Christina Hodson (Unforgettable).

Directed by Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings), the film stars Hailee Steinfeld (Edge of Seventeen), Pamela Adlon (“BETTER THINGS”), John Cena (Daddy’s Home 2), Stephen Schneider (Comedy Central’s “Broad City”), Jorge Lendeborg Jr. (Spider-man: Homecoming), Jason Drucker (Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul), Kenneth Choi (“American Crime Story”), Ricardo Hoyos (“Degrassi: Next Class), Abby Quinn (Landline), Rachel Crow (Deidra & Laney Rob a Train), and Grace Dzienny (“Zoo”)

BUMBLEBEE drives into theatres on December 21, 2018

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Blumhouse unleashes ‘TRUTH OR DARE’…Watch the Trailer – We DARE You

Lucy Hale (“Pretty Little Liars”) and Tyler Posey (“Teen Wolf) lead the cast of Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare, a supernatural thriller from Blumhouse Productions (Happy Death DayGet Out, Split).  A harmless game of “Truth or Dare” among friends turns deadly when someone—or something—begins to punish those who tell a lie—or refuse the dare.

Directed by Jeff Wadlow (Kick-Ass 2), the thriller co-stars Violett Beane, Nolan Gerard Funk, Hayden Szeto and Sophia Taylor Ali.  The film was produced by Blumhouse’s Jason Blum and executive produced by Wadlow.

BLUMHOUSE’S TRUTH OR DARE – In Theaters April 27

New Photos Released from the Upcoming ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’

Warner Brothers has released new photos from the upcoming sequel Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and we are happy to bring them to you! The film is the second of five all new adventures in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World™.

At the end of the first film, the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) was captured by MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America), with the help of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne).  But, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escaped custody and has set about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings.

In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead.  Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world.

The film features an ensemble cast led by Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, with Jude Law and Johnny Depp.  The cast also includes , Zoë Kravitz, Callum Turner, Claudia Kim, William Nadylam, Kevin Guthrie, Carmen Ejogo, and  Poppy Corby-Tuech.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is directed by David Yates, from a screenplay by J.K. Rowling.  The film is produced by David Heyman, J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves and Lionel Wigram.

The film will be released on November 16, 2018, the film will be distributed worldwide in 2D and 3D in select theatres and IMAX by Warner Bros. Pictures

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The heroes. The villains. The magic. In one year, return to the Wizarding World with ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’

Warner Bros. Pictures announces “FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD” as the title of the second of five all new adventures in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World™.  Opening exactly one year from today, November 16, 2018. The first look has been provided above.

(Left to right) JUDE LAW plays a young ALBUS DUMBLEDORE, taking on the mantle of one of J.K. Rowling’s most beloved characters;EZRA MILLER makes a return as the enigmatic CREDENCE, whose fate was unknown at the end of the first film; CLAUDIA KIM appears as a Maledictus, the carrier of a blood curse that destines her ultimately to transform into a beast; ZOË KRAVITZ plays LETA LESTRANGE, who had once been close to Newt Scamander but is now engaged to his brother; CALLUM TURNER joins the cast as Newt’s older brother, THESEUS SCAMANDER, a celebrated war hero and the Head of the Auror Office at the British Ministry of Magic; KATHERINE WATERSTON returns as TINA GOLDSTEIN, who has been reinstated as an Auror for MACUSA; EDDIE REDMAYNE stars again as wizarding world Magizoologist NEWT SCAMANDER, who has now gained fame in the wizarding world as the author of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemDAN FOGLER reprises the role of the only No-Maj in the group, JACOB KOWALSKI; ALISON SUDOL reprises the part of Tina’s free-spirited sister, QUEENIE GOLDSTEIN, a Legilimens who can read minds; and JOHNNY DEPP returns as the powerful Dark wizard GELLERT GRINDELWALD in Warner Bros. Pictures’ “FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD.”

At the end of the first film, the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Depp) was captured by MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America), with the help of Newt Scamander (Redmayne).  But, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escaped custody and has set about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings.

In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans, Albus Dumbledore (Law) enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead.  Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world.

“FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD” is being directed by David Yates, from a screenplay by J.K. Rowling, and produced by David Heyman, J.K. Rowling, Steve Kloves and Lionel Wigram.

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Get Ready for ‘A Bad Moms Christmas’ with this Hilarious Teaser Trailer

STXfilms has released brand new trailers and first-look images from A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS and we have it for you below!

A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS follows our three under-appreciated and over-burdened women as they rebel against the challenges and expectations of the Super Bowl for moms: Christmas.  And if creating a more perfect holiday for their families wasn’t hard enough, they have to do all of that while hosting and entertaining their own mothers.  By the end of the journey, our moms will redefine how to make the holidays special for all and discover a closer relationship with their mothers.

The film stars Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Jay Hernandez, Cheryl Hines, Peter Gallagher, Justin Hartley, David Walton, with Christine Baranski, and Susan Sarandon.

A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS in theaters November 3!

Red Band

Green Band

20th Century Fox has released the first trailer for ‘THE GREATEST SHOWMAN’ starring Hugh Jackman

20th Century Fox has released the first trailer for THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, starring Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle WilliamsRebecca Ferguson, and Zendaya, and featuring original songs by the Academy Award® Winning lyricists of La La Land, Benj Pasek & Justin Paul.

Inspired by the imagination of P.T. Barnum, The Greatest Showman is an original musical that celebrates the birth of show business & tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation.

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN arrives December 25th, 2017