Review: ‘All About Nina’ is comedy with darkness and brilliance.

We’re living in a world where we have an admitted sexual predator in the White House. We’re living in a moment in time where women are sick and tired of being trampled on, blamed, persecuted, broken, and made to relive their trauma over and over. In dark times we seek escapism. Movies and theater and art keep us grounded. They let us forget the shit and live in a world that can be, at times, as perfect as the fairytale presented. The new film starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, All About Nina, is not that film.A comic, trying to wade her way through shitty relationships and her budding career, invited us to ride an emotionally explosive rollercoaster right alongside her. As the plot rolls along, it takes a complete 180. Nina’s battle with her past finally comes to light in a very public way. Once this occurs, the script’s small, delicately placed moments have their full weight realized. The comedy is raunchy and appreciated. The cast is filled with comic greats, new and old, but it is Common and Winstead that make this story breathe. It took me a full 45 mins to buy into what Common was selling but maybe that’s just the cynic in me. One particular scene breaks that defense for me and it’s worth the wait. As for Winstead, if I thought she’d even be looked at for this role come Oscar season I would send a blimp with her name on it. She is brilliant in the way women often are but don’t have to balls to shows you, for lack of a better description. Although, once you see her in this film you will just realize it couldn’t be more perfect. All About Nina currently has a 100% fresh certification on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s genuinely difficult to achieve and I am thrilled about it.

Women have a lot to say these days. You should probably just shut up and listen for once. I guarantee, with stories and leads like Nina, we will surprise the hell out of you.

The Orchard will release the film in select theaters on September 28th.

Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Common, first-time feature filmmaker Eva Vives directed and wrote the screenplay based partly on her own life experiences. Like Nina, Eva makes ample use of dark humor to deflect the pain. The film has an amazing supporting cast with Jay MohrChace Crawford, Clea DuVall, Kate del Castillo, Beau Bridges.

Surprise! ‘Cloverfield’ Sequel in Coming and We Have the Trailer!


Surprise! a secret trailer from Bad Robot has been unveiled to be an upcoming sequel to creature feature Cloverfield and will hit theaters on March 11, 2016! Have a look below.

The film is produced by J.J. Abrams and is directed by Dan Trachtenberg. The film stars John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr. The script was written by Josh Campbell and Matthew Stuecken.

Here’s a look at the poster…


Jeremy’s Review/Interview: Mary Elizabeth Winstead Is Outstanding in Chris Messina’s Lovely Directorial Debut ‘Alex of Venice’ + interview with Mary herself(!)

Alex of Venice - Poster Living in Middle America, I sometimes miss seeing films until way after their release. It’s part of my lot in life and I have learned to accept this. Films that appear at festivals sometime don’t get picked up for distribution and are lost in cinematic purgatory. Lucky for me, as well as all of you out there who weren’t lucky enough to make it to Tribeca last April, Chris Messina‘s directorial debut Alex of Venice was picked up and is now about to hit theaters and VOD this weekend. Featuring an absolutely stunning performance by Mary Elizabeth Winstead along with a solid supporting cast including Don Johnson, Derek Luke, Katie Nehra and Messina as well, Alex of Venice should be on your radar.

AOV mewPerhaps the best thing about this film is that the story is one we’ve seen a ton before – a young couple splits because one of them, in this case Alex (Winstead) is shirking her wifely, motherly and daughterly responsibilities because of her devotion to her job (in this case a lwayer for an environmental activism group). Why is this a good thing , you ask? Well, let me tell you…because what happens after the split occurs. The focal point is Alex (as you might guess from the title of the film) and her search for who she is, who she really is. She got pregnant and had a baby when she was 19 with her now husband George (Messina). But something is clearly missing, the fact that she was never able to have the life of a young adult since she was busy being a mother and wife.

AOV 2When George, who was a stay-at-home dad, leaves, Alex has to step up with her son Dakota (Skyler Gaertner) as well as her aging father (Don Johnson) who might have a touch of Alzheimer’s. Couple all of this with the fact that she has a huge case she is working on for her job and she is in over her head. Lucky for her, her sister Lily (Katie Nehra, also one of the screenwriters of the film) happens to show up just when needed. Lily injects some adrenaline into a stagnant family giving it some life, some good and some bad. As Alex starts getting her feet under her without George around, she unexpectedly starts a fling with the man (Derek Luke) whom she is litigating against in the big case at work. So everything really teeters in the balance with Alex as she tries to figure out who she is now without deep-sixing everyone around her.


As I stated above, this crown jewel of this film is Mary Elizabeth Winstead‘s performance as Alex. Pitch perfect, she has really stepped up her game lately. This film comes on the heels of another stunning performance in Faults (see my review here), so we are getting her at what seems to be her best right now, so even keeled and relatable that it’s nearly impossible not to identify with the characters she inhabits. And as good as she is, the other actors in the film were spot-on as well, mainly Don Johnson, who really surprised me in his role as a former TV actor trying to get back in the game by being in a stage production of Chekov‘s The Cherry Orchard. The delicate way he illuminates his character’s struggles with memory loss is impressive. I never thought he had it in him. Likewise, Katie Nehra brings a much needed sense of comedy and carefree nature to a story that hits pretty hard in spots.

AOV 3 nehra

I think that one of the strengths of the script is that it doesn’t lollygag when it comes to getting right into the story. George leaves in nearly the opening scene of the film. As the title suggests, this is a film about Alex, so if we had to slog through messy sequences about the decline of the relationship, it would take away from her journey. I think the strongest scene in the film happens when George finally reappears at a time of especially high need for Alex and as their encounter extends into the next day, they both get closure as they officially breaks things off. While that doesn’t seem important at its base, it’s the tender way that it was handled both in the writing and the direction of the scene. It’s little things like these that can make these smaller movies so damn memorable and it seems obvious that all parties were clicking on the same cylinder here.

Alex of Venice is wonderful film and I think there’s something in it for everyone. So instead of trudging out to see films like Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 this weekend, take a chance and check this one out. It is quite delightful.

And speaking of delightful, I was incredibly fortunate to snag a few minutes with Ms. Winstead herself to talk about the film and a few other trifles. Here’s what I felt like I looked like when I was interviewing her:

me as scoot pilgrim

And here’s what she had to say:

I really liked your chemistry with Katie Nehra as sisters. What was there, if any, as far as a rehearsal schedule? Was it an asset having her in the film with you since she was part of the writing team?

We didn’t have a lot of time together before shooting. I  had one rehearsal with Chris and Don and we played some of the scenes. The dynamic [between Katie and I] came about organically. Chris created a great atmosphere on set. The whole experience was incredibly collaborative. The vibe on set was one where everyone had a voice. My ideas were very welcome because of this. I love working that way. I love having the ability to lend my voice.

The affair with Derek Luke’s character struck me as quite odd for Alex. Here she is, totally dedicated to her job enough that she (maybe) neglects her husband, father and son. Would she really take a risk like this, especially if it could cost her her job at a time when she is most vulnerable? It seemed quite impetuous to me. Or do you think that openness of her world without George there alleviated some sort of pressure that had built up in the years they were together after she got pregnant?

I think a lot of her decisions cause her to regress to the time when she was a single person. She was stunted. She got pregnant and never had the chance to become a real person, to grow emotionally. She makes brash decisions which make sense given the circumstances of what she’s gone through. She doesn’t really know who she is.

Did you have any trepidation about working with a first time director in Chris Messina? Obviously he’s an accomplished actor, and I think the film turned out great. Curious what your thoughts were going into production.

I had never met him before, but I was a fan of his as an actor and in that sense, he had a taste level in roles that was high. He comes from theater background and these were all pretty good signs. I was excited about working with an actor. One of the problems of working with directors [that aren’t actors] is that they don’t understand how to work with actors. There’s a different grammar and vocabulary. He and I like to work the same way – make every moment real and authentic so it was a good collaboration.

I was curious about the part where George comes to get Alex after she and Lily have had the fight about Dakota missing school for a week while she’s on ecstasy. At first, I thought what Alex was going through was imagined, part of the trip she was on. That clearly wasn’t the case as the scene played out. Was there ever any discussion about the scene maybe going that way?

That’s interesting. That scene took a lot of different shapes. It was improved in so many different ways. Chris was shouting out different things for me to do and to say. Several shots were made that weren’t used. At one point, Chris shouted at me to start singing something and that’s what I did. I think it turned out perfectly.

This is a perfect segway into another aside, but I really love your record, Got a Girl, that you did with Dan the Automator. You have an unreal voice. I was curious why we aren’t hearing you on the soundtracks to the films you make. I know Brie Larson sang on the Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World soundtrack. I think this is something that we need.

(laughs) Thank you! I would love to do that. We’ll see…

You seem to toe the line between small dramas like this one and more specific genre fare (Final Destination 3, the Die Hard movies, Scott Pilgrim, etc.). Do you feel like you have a home in one area or do you feel like you have to do the moneymakers so you can do the passion projects like Alex of Venice?

I just like to do films that teach me, excite me and I want to work with people that are interesting and that I walk away from each project better than I was before it. I need to inhabit characters that will challenge me. I would love to do more comedy. I’m drawn to characters that have a little bit of everything going on. Be funny one minute and tragic another.

So that’s that. I want to give a big shout out to Mary for taking time to talk to me as I was huddled in my basement during a tornado warning (no joke). I wish her nothing but the best of luck in her career, both acting and in music (please, please make more records – the world needs them).

Be sure to catch Alex of Venice in theaters this weekend. Here’s the list of theaters where it is playing. It will also be available through VOD as well.

Jeremy’s Review: Riley Stearns’ ‘Faults’ Gives a Killer Twist on Cult Life

faults posterCults are fucking terrifying to me. Watch Martha Marcy May Marlene and try not to be creeped the hell out. There is so much psychological warfare that goes on in these stories that it’s easy to question whether or not you would be able to resist the charms of a charismatic leader who says the right things to you at a possibly vulnerable time in your life. Hell, Scientologists have been milking this notion ever since its inception 3 million years ago to combat the evil Xenu. Films that depict cult life, the aftereffects or the process of removing someone from the grips of a cult can turn campy, silly and unintentionally funny (think of the Veronica Mars cult episode appropriately named “Drinking the Kool Aid”). The absurdity of how one falls into it is a foreign concept to many of us and that’s why they can easily stray into this territory. Riley Stearns, writer-director of the fantastic Faults, flips the script with these type of films/stories and gives us a fresh look perspective, one that is most deserving of your time this weekend. Read More →

Michael’s Review: ‘Kill The Messenger’- International Thriller Starring Jeremy Renner

Kill the Messenger poster

It’s Oscar season and time for the latest crop of award hopefuls to start to spring up in your local theaters. One category that is a favorite of Academy voters is the political thriller, which defines Kill the Messenger to a tee. Directed by Michael Cuesta (Showtime’s Homeland), the film tells the true story of journalist Gary Webb, who broke the story of the CIA’s involvement in the trafficking of cocaine from Central America during the contra war in Nicaragua. Jeremy Renner leads an all star cast in this powerfully thought provoking film. Read More →