Review: ‘The Wolf Hour’ will close in on your comfort level.

SYNOPSIS: It’s July 1977, and New York City is awash with escalating violence. A citywide blackout is triggering fires, looting, and countless arrests, and the Son of Sam murders are riddling the city with panic. June, once a celebrated counterculture figure, attempts to retreat from the chaos by shutting herself inside the yellowed walls of her grandmother’s South Bronx apartment. But her doorbell is ringing incessantly, the heat is unbearable, and creeping paranoia and fear are taking hold. Visitors, some invited, some unsolicited, arrive one by one, and June must determine whom she can trust and whether she can find a path back to her former self.

Naomi Watts gives a powerful performance that is so raw, it will get under your skin for long after the credits have rolled. This stylistic film hits a nerve for the viewer instantly. Its claustrophobia consumes you as much as Watts’ character June. Clearly suffering PTSD exacerbated by the current overwhelming outside forces that play out keep June locked in her house 24hrs day for God knows how many years at the point we meet her. Her desperation is palpable. The colors and sound editing combined with brilliant slow-burn pacing make The Wolf Hour hypnotizing. It feels post-apocalyptic. It feels far too relevant. Watts is like a ticking timebomb. Her performance is one of the year’s best. This could have been a stage play based upon its singular location but I’m not sure you could have captured the heaviness of the air and environment in the same way. In film form, The Wolf Hour digs its nails into you in the fiercest way.

In theaters December 6

Written & Directed by: Alistair Banks Griffin
Starring: Naomi Watts, Jennifer Ehle, Emory Cohen, Kelvin Harrison Jr.

Review: ‘OPHELIA’ is beautifully new madness.

 PRESENTS
Hamlet Through Her Eyes

Set in the 14th Century but spoken in a contemporary voice, OPHELIA is a dynamic re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Ophelia (Daisy Ridley) takes center stage as Queen Gertrude’s (Naomi Watts) most trusted lady-in-waiting. Beautiful and intelligent, she soon captures the attention of the handsome Prince Hamlet (George MacKay) and a forbidden love blossoms. As war brews, lust and betrayal are tearing Elsinore Castle apart from within and Ophelia must decide between her true love or her own life in order to protect a very dangerous secret.

Lust, betrayal, vanity, adultery; the reimagining of Hamlet through the eyes of Ophelia is an entirely different story. Based on the novel by Lisa Klein and in the vein of films like Ever After and perhaps even Disney’s live-action Cinderella, our leading lady is no shrinking violet. Daisy Ridley is a far cry from her role in the new Star Wars installments. As the titular character, she is inquisitive, bold, and yet her innocence plunges her headlong into the tragedy that Shakespeare writes for her. With a star-studded cast including Naomi Watts, Clive Owen, and Tom Felton, the story begins with how she became to be part of the court. Along the way, it addresses the fragility of the male egos as well as the female. It is still a story of love and honor but told from a young woman’s perspective and a few other key ladies surrounding her. The entire cast is brilliant. The costumes and sets are gorgeous. The new dialogue is ripe for this era. The added drama and intrigue is downright delicious. You cannot help but be drawn into the secrets. Ophelia’s fate makes more sense with a backstory we can experience in a visceral way. The film has everything a fairytale and period cinema lover needs to immerse themselves. But this film goes above and beyond. This new rendition is completely unexpected. It gives power back to the women in this story making Ophelia more magical than ever before. As someone great once said, “Well behaved women seldom make history.”

IFC Films will release OPHELIA  in theaters on June 28, 2019, and on digital / demand July 3, 2019.

OPHELIA stars Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force AwakensStar Wars: The Last Jedi), Naomi Watts (Mulholland DriveKing Kong), Clive Owen (CloserChildren of Men), George Mackay (Peter PanCaptain Fantastic), and Tom Felton (Harry PotterRise of the Planet of the Apes).

Focus Features has released the official trailer for ‘The Book of Henry’

Focus Features has released the official trailer for The Book of Henry directed by Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World, Safety Not Guaranteed) and we have it for you below!

Sometimes things are not always what they seem, especially in the small suburban town where the Carpenter family lives. Single suburban mother Susan Carpenter (Naomi Watts) works as a waitress at a diner, alongside feisty family friend Sheila (Sarah Silverman). Her younger son Peter (Jacob Tremblay) is a playful 8-year-old. Taking care of everyone and everything in his own unique way is Susan’s older son Henry (Jaeden Lieberher), age 11. Protector to his adoring younger brother and tireless supporter of his often self-doubting mother – and, through investments, of the family as a whole – Henry blazes through the days like a comet. Susan discovers that the family next door, which includes Henry’s kind classmate Christina (Maddie Ziegler), has a dangerous secret – and that Henry has devised a surprising plan to help. As his brainstormed rescue plan for Christina takes shape in thrilling ways, Susan finds herself at the center of it.

The Book of Henry hits select cities on June 16th, 2017

The First Trailer for ‘The Divergent Series: Allegiant’ Has Arrived!

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Lionsgate just released The Divergent Series: Allegiant trailer and we have it for you below!

The cast of both films will include stars Shailene Woodley and Theo James, along with Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer, and the Oscar-nominated Naomi Watts. Jeff Daniels also joins the cast for the third and fourth films in the franchise along with returning cast members Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Keiynan Lonsdale and Jonny Weston, as well as Mekhi Phifer and Daniel Dae Kim. New cast members include Nadia Hilker and Bill Skarsgård as well.

The Divergent Series: Allegiant will hit theaters on Friday, March 18, 2016. The fourth installment, The Divergent Series: Ascendant, is slated for release on March 24, 2017.

The Final Divergent Movies Have New Names!

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Lionsgate today announced (via MTV) that they are changing the naming scheme for the final two parts of “The Divergent Series” franchise, which were previously known as “The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Part 1″ and “Part 2.”  The first part of the two part films will now be called The Divergent Series: Allegiant, while the final film is now called The Divergent Series: Ascendant. You can check out the posters below!

Both films are also getting new taglines: Allegiant’s new tagline is “break the boundaries of your world,” while Ascendant promises that “the end is never what you expect.

Author Veronica Routh took to Tumblr to comment on the name change. This is what she had to say:

“What does this mean? Well, basically, it means there are going to be some changes, but it’s really too early to know exactly what those changes will be or the extent of them. I know changes always make fans of the books — and the author! — nervous, but hopefully the characters we know (and love. Or sometimes love to hate?) will still be intact, which is really the important thing. I am eager to see how these movies turn out, along with you guys.”

The cast of both films will include stars Shailene Woodley and Theo James, along with Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer, and the Oscar-nominated Naomi Watts. Jeff Daniels also joins the cast for the third and fourth films in the franchise along with returning cast members Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Keiynan Lonsdale and Jonny Weston, as well as Mekhi Phifer and Daniel Dae Kim. New cast members include Nadia Hilker and Bill Skarsgård as well.

Allegiant will be released on March 18. Ascendant will hit theaters on March 24, 2017.

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First Trailer for ‘Demolition’ Starring Jake Gyllenhaal Debuts

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Fox Searchlight Pictures has released the first trailer for the new film Demolition by Jean-Marc Vallée (WildDallas Buyers Club) and we have it for you below!

Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal), a successful investment banker, struggles after losing his wife in a tragic car crash. Despite pressure from his father in law Phil (Chris Cooper) to pull it together, Davis continues to unravel. What starts as a complaint letter to a vending machine company turns into a series of letters revealing startling personal admissions. Davis’ letters catch the attention of customer service rep Karen (Naomi Watts) and, amidst emotional and financial burdens of her own, the two form an unlikely connection. With the help of Karen and her son Chris (Judah Lewis), Davis starts to rebuild, beginning with the demolition of the life he once knew.

Demolition opens in select theaters on April 8, 2016

‘While We’re Young’ and think we know everything.

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Being a grown up… firstly, let me say that phrase is so off putting, I can’t believe I actually wrote it, but I digress. Let’s start again. Being an adult, and by that I mean living by the expectation that we’ve made our path our own and are so brilliantly happy with those decisions that we feel self satisfied, is frankly a bunch of bullshit. Few of us who identify as adults are completely content to say we’ve plateaued at the level of “Everything is Awesome”. Most if us are simply lying. It’s much easier to tell the younger generation that they’re doing it wrong (Because, if we’re being honest, self loathing, fear, and envy throw those words and thoughts into our frontal lobe pretty swiftly on a regular basis. But, are we completely wrong? When I watch some of the “interactions” between millennials these days, I have to wonder: “How do they live this way?!” When did “swiping to the left” becoming any way to meet anyone? How conceited do you have to be to not even give an individual more than a few seconds of attention before writing them off completely? Were we just as annoying, bold, outspoken, talented, brash, lost, self aware, smart, lazy, passionate, and entitled? WHILE WE’RE YOUNG is Noah Baumnach‘s new film starring Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Amanda Seyfried, Adam Driver, Charles Grodin, and Adam Horovitz. In a day and age where technology makes life easier and harder all at once, a middle aged couple, Cornelia and Josh, think they’ve got it made; no kids, free schedule, and creative passion for filmmaking. When they meet young hipster couple Darby and Jamie, their preconceived notions of what life should be like are thrown into a bit of chaos. Jaime is a huge fan of Josh’s work. The young couple boldly asks if Cornelia and Josh want to hang out with them. What would a middle aged couple have in common with a barely mid twenties couple? Turns out a lot, if a lot meant doing all the things we did in our youth that almost seem ironic to a millennial generation. But fondness might just be an act of manipulation forcing Cornelia and Josh to grow up themselves.

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Ben Stiller gives us a really grounded performance. You know this guy. While still having perfect comic timing, he plays Josh as a genuinely earnest guy trying to reinvent his life and marriage. Naomi Watts as Cornelia is hilarious and heartbreaking. Struggling with fertility issues she attempts to pass off as not so big a deal, she connects with Darby over the simple moments, woman to woman. Speaking of Darby, Amanda Seyfried plays this character with a gentle ease. Her down to earth attitude is refreshing and she remains altogether likable. Adam Driver, whose stock is has taken off since GIRLS began, is fantastic. His combination of perceived sincerity and inflated ego trips are spot on for this generation. Charles Grodin plays Cornelia’s documentarian father, Leslie. He is the father we all wish we had. Loving, guiding, with a hint of cynicism, Grodin is a delight on screen.

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In a world where every moment can be edited with an app, Baumbach throws our societal downfalls back into our own faces. He has a habit of injecting personal moments into  his scripts. They play with an elegant ease and familiarity that touch a wide audience.  For Baumbach, writing what he knows has been extraordinarily successful in his previous films like The Squid and the Whale, Kicking and Screaming, and Frances Ha. The film has an eclectic soundtrack, with tracks from Vivaldi, The Psychedelic Furs, David Bowie and HAIM. WHILE WE’RE YOUNG is heartfelt, funny, and a real joy to watch. The struggle between Gen X and millennials is a revelation on screen. I highly recommend this film to audiences of all ages. You will walk away one happy camper, I assure you.

WHILE WE’RE YOUNG opens today! (Friday, March 27th)

Michael’s Review: ‘The Divergent Series: Insurgent’

Insurgent The adventures of reluctant heroine Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) continue in The Divergent Series: Insurgent, a film that seems to rehash a lot of the plot points from the prior film, Divergent, but with daunting task of keeping audiences interested enough to get to next year’s (and the year after that’s) grand finale Allegiant: Part 1 and 2. Director Robert Schwentke (Red) takes over the franchise this time around which sees Tris facing off, once again, against Jeanine (Kate Winslet), the films antagonist and resident psychopath politician with goals of Divergent extinction. The film is suppose to represent the series’ great civil war but it’s execution barely rates higher than a middle school scrum. Will audiences be intrigued enough to continue the series past Insurgent?

InsurgentFollowing the assault on Abnegation by Jeanine’s mind-controlled Dauntless soldiers in the first film, Eric (Jai Courtney) and his platoon are searching through the wreckage of Abnegation for an artifact, a box of unknown origin containing the symbols of all the factions. Upon its recovery, the box is taken to Erudite, where Jeanine claims that she believes it to contain a message from the city’s founders, and the means to end the Divergent problem once and for all. However, only a Divergent can open the box, and she orders that all Divergents be hunted down and captured.

InsurgentWe find Tris, Four (Theo James), Peter (Miles Teller), and Caleb (Ansel Elgort), weirdly enough all three love interests from Woodley’s last three films, hiding out amongst Amity, who have offered the group sanctuary. All four have become fugitives now after Jeanine has declared that Divergents and their sympathizers are enemies of the city. After being tracked down by Eric and the rest of his dauntless followers, the group is forced to split up and escape. Tris decides to take the fight to Jeanine’s doorstep by attacking Erudite, but Four knows the fight will be harder than Tris thinks. Knowing an army is needed, Four hopes to reconnect with their dauntless faction and reassess the situation, but an unlikely ally presents itself which will force Tris and Four to make hard decisions. With the lives of her friends at stake, Tris makes a decision that will have ramifications for all the people she loves and will take her deep into enemy territory to face her fate.

InsurgentFans of the Insurgent novel will notice quite a bit of differences between the book, but writer Veronica Roth believes the changes “really work” so I guess we should too. The story is constructed in a way to keep us wanting to know what’s in that box, but it stalls at various times during the film as the need to plug in some unnecessary cry time for Woodley’s Tris just to let us know what we already assume, which is that this is all really trying on the young hero. The chemistry on screen between Woodley and James has improved drastically over the last film, which is a positive, as the original film had some truly awkward moments between the two. Woodley herself is becoming more comfortable with the character and it really shows on screen. Kate Winslet never seems to truly grasp the concept of being the antagonist. The actress has a fantastic scene presence, but really needed to let go over her constraints and let her inner psychopath out. The rest of the supporting cast, minus Teller who is enjoyable in his limited screen time, is relegated to the background this time around with a few welcome additions from the book series who were omitted from the first film.

InsurgentIf nothing else, the second installment into the The Divergent Series, Insurgent, will act as a primer for the real show when Allegiant: Part 1 hit theaters next year. Insurgent is much better than a lot of the YA adaptations out there and fans of the series will no doubt be left with a lot to talk about, but don’t fear those among us that don’t read, the film is much different than the book so you won’t be left in the dark. Insurgent is a fun popcorn movie that should entertain teens and adults alike.

Stars: 2 1/2 out of 5

After Credit Scene? No

Trailer:

The New ‘The Divergent Series: Insurgent’ Trailer Has Arrived

insurgent-movieThe new trailer for the highly anticipated sequel The Divergent Series: Insurgent has just been released and we have it for you now! Check it out below!

Based on Insurgent, the second book in the Divergent trilogy, written by Veronica Roth, the film is directed by Robert Schwentke and stars Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Octavia Spencer, Suki Waterhouse, Jonny Weston and Naomi Watts.

Following the events of Divergent, Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) search for allies and answers in the wake of the uprising. Being hunted by Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet), the leader of the Erudite faction, Tris and Four will race against time as they try to figure out what Abnegation sacrificed their lives to protect, and why the Erudite leaders will do anything to stop them. Haunted by her past choices but desperate to protect the ones she loves, Tris faces one impossible challenge after another as she unlocks the truth about the past and ultimately the future of her world.

The Divergent Series: Insurgent hits theaters March 20, 2015

The Divergent Series: Insurgent Trailer and Poster Debut

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The thrilling new trailer  for THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENT is finally here, as well as the exclusive NEW POSTER to add to the excitement of the #DivergentFandom!

Check out the #InsurgentTrailer NOW: Read More →

Michael’s Review: ‘Birdman’ or (The Unexpected Virtue of Greatness!)

birdman-movie-poster-1There are films you experience and there are films you view. Do you know the difference? A film you experience is one that you become completely immersed, that you lose yourself to the world in which you are subjected to. Experiences like Birdman do not come along everyday. Director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu opens his film with his main character hovering, weightless, in his underwear, deciphering the current state of his life.  It’s the only time the camera, and the audience, are given a reprieve in the film, as it is shot completely in long takes. It’s a movie in name, but a test of endurance for your mind. So come along with me now and enjoy the tale of the Birdman. Read More →