Hollywood in Toto https://www.hollywoodintoto.com The Right Take on Entertainment Fri, 21 Feb 2020 16:07:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.13 Ford Rescues ‘Call of the Wild’ from CGI Gone Amok https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/call-of-the-wild-review/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/call-of-the-wild-review/#respond Fri, 21 Feb 2020 16:07:20 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024537 call of the wild review harrison ford

Few things connect with audiences like a devoted dog and his owner.

Even the silly “Beethoven” franchise scores points on that front. What happens when that dog is comprised of

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call of the wild review harrison ford

Few things connect with audiences like a devoted dog and his owner.

Even the silly “Beethoven” franchise scores points on that front. What happens when that dog is comprised of ones and zeroes, not fur and flesh?

It’s impossible to watch “The Call of the Wild” without asking that question over and again. The film’s creative team opted for a fully CGI Buck to revisit Jack London’s classic yarn.

That allows for a dog who does everything on cue, including facial expressions the best trained pups couldn’t match. But at what cost? Just know this family-friendly spin on London’s yarn will intermittently win you over despite that baffling choice.

And you can blame the once and future Indiana Jones for that.

Big, lovable Buck lives a relatively easy life. Sure, his antics give his owner grief, but he’s loved and cared for like any doggie craves. Poor Buck gets stolen early in the film, and suddenly his posh life is now one of servitude.

He’s forced to be part of a dogsled crew, and while he’s big and strong the learning curve is steep. It’s the first of several life changes for the massive mutt, but at every turn he bumps into John Thornton (Harrison Ford) an old timer with a soft spot for animals.

The two eventually team up, hardly a spoiler alert, but that’s not the end of their trials, tribulations and absurd plot contrivances.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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It takes courage to step up and lead the pack. Check out this new clip from #CalloftheWild, in theaters February 21. Get tickets now! Link in bio. @omarsyofficial

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“The Call of the Wild” removes the challenging adult elements from London’s book, replacing them with kid-friendly tropes and seriously goofy plot twists. Poor Dan Stevens, cast as a cad who keeps running afoul of Buck and John. His character proves as one dimensional as an old school cartoon.

Can Snidely Whiplash get royalties for this?

It’s hard to shake Buck’s CGI roots, but the FX team in question does integrate his presence with his fellow “actors’ seamlessly. So when John cozies up to Buck, or just ruffles his fur, it’s authentic. That’s critical. Had the visual team missed those marks the film would essentially collapse.

For a spell Ford phoned in his work, particularly in generic fare like “Hollywood Homicide” and “Firewall.” His natural charisma delivered enough of the necessary goods, but longtime fans noted his lack of engagement.

He came alive again more recently. Think his turn as Branch Rickey in “42” and, of course, a swashbuckler named Han.

Here, despite the temptation to dismiss the proceedings, he’s fully invested as Buck’s loyal chum. Even better, he sells moments that on the surface deserve plenty of scrutiny.

It doesn’t help Ford, or the story, that the screenplay humanizes Buck beyond the realm of animal antics. When Buck thinks John has had too much to drink, for example, he transforms into his unofficial AA sponsor.

That won’t matter to younger audiences, who will cheer Buck’s heroics and that man/dog bond that comes through despite the CGI gimmickry. Families deserve a movie like “Call,” even if the parents in the crowd will wince a time or two.

Maybe more.

HiT or Miss: “The Call of the Wild” is perfectly acceptable family fare, and a chance for star Harrison Ford to remind us he’s still bringing the movie star heat.

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Esquire Bullies John Krasinski: Are You a Closet Conservative? https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/esquire-bullies-john-krasinski-conservative/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/esquire-bullies-john-krasinski-conservative/#respond Fri, 21 Feb 2020 03:25:35 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024543 john krasinski quiet place II politics

Men’s magazines obsess over more than just style, personal grooming and the latest ab workout.

Too often GQ, Esquire and Men’s Health double as progressive magazines meant to push liberal

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john krasinski quiet place II politics

Men’s magazines obsess over more than just style, personal grooming and the latest ab workout.

Too often GQ, Esquire and Men’s Health double as progressive magazines meant to push liberal talking points. And there’s no major men’s magazine that offers a counter narrative.

Consider this snarky attack on Fox Nation fans from GQ, a rant dripping with condescension. Or, consider how Esquire’s political editor whined about covering the Trump presidency late last year. The rant ignored the previous administration’s literal war on the press.

Men’s Health repeatedly put President Barack Obama on its cover, but that wasn’t the only way it propped up the two-term leader.

In the midst of a heated national healthcare debate, Emmaus, Pennsylvania-based publisher Rodale Inc. landed a series of exclusive interviews with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama on how the first family keeps healthy and fit. The stories, and their respective cover treatments, appeared on the October issues of Men’s Health and Women’s Health … The Men’s Health and Women’s Health articles, publicized the Obama health care reform plan, with Men’s Health “strongly endorsing it.”

Now, Esquire magazine is wondering why a popular actor is making movies for, gasp, red state audiences.

The magazine offered up a typically glowing profile of “Office” alum John Krasinski. The actor segued beautifully from the hit NBC sitcom to a big-screen career. Now, thanks to 2018’s surprise smash “A Quiet Place,” he’s an in-demand director, too.

That film’s sequel, opening March 20, looks equally strong.

That isn’t what the Esquire piece focused on late in the profile, though. The interviewer noted how one cartoonishly liberal critic from The New Yorker called “A Quiet Place” “conspicuously regressive.”

Why?

The film shows a white, gun-toting family fending off strange creatures.

RELATED: ’13 Hours’ Will Leave Audiences, Not Hillary, Cheering

Krasinski is forced to explain the obvious. The film’s narrative had no political meaning. It’s a treatise on how parents will do anything to protect their children, even when “all hope looked lost,” the actor patiently said.

Granted, the critic’s take on the movie was both “hot” and foreign to what the vast majority of audiences and fellow critics noted. Why give it any credibility?

You’ll see why in a moment.

The interviewer is building a case that Krasinski is a stealth conservative. Even worse? He’s pro-military, too.

In the few two years, though, as Krasinski starred in big military dramas and directed a film that some read to be an allegory for conservative ideals, a narrative started to develop around his persona. In August of 2018, BuzzFeed wrote an article titled, “John Krasinski Wants To Play Red-State Heroes Without Getting Political” and in November an old video of him saying “the CIA is something that we should all not only cherish, but be saying thank you for every single day” was being heavily criticized on the Internet.

Was Donald Trump, Jr. criticizing that quote, or was it a legion of Bernie Bros. (and men’s magazine writers)?

Once again, the writer is building a narrative based on flimsy evidence proffered by fellow progressives. And to what end? To show that in a sea of Hollywood liberals, this one star could be sympathetic to the other half of the country.

How does the actor explain playing Jack Ryan for Amazon Prime then, huh?

We need answers!

The brave Esquire profile captures a thought crime in progress – an actor potentially tip-toeing off the progressive plantation. Krasinski is here to throw water on this blazing fire, but he won’t deny his respect for the U.S. Military.

“That narrative is certainly not the narrative I intended to put out there. When people look for something that they want to see, I can’t stop them from a subjective belief in something,” says Krasinski, who cohosted a fundraiser for Elizabeth Warren’s senatorial campaign in 2012. From his perspective, his decision to star in 13 Hours—about the attacks on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi—was not a political one. “I have 11 aunts and uncles and cousins who have been in the military or still are in the military. So it was a big thing on my list to get to do a military movie or show or something,” He says the film was about the individuals and the events of that night. Not politics. “As far as Jack Ryan and the CIA, I always say it’s about the people. I’ll always respect people who put their lives on the line for people like me, who they’ve never met.”

That’s probably problematic for Team Esquire, but the Warren fundraiser offers serious damage control.

All kidding aside, just consider what’s happening in this profile.

  • The quiet bullying
  • The pressure to defend positions that do not need an ounce of defending
  • Using absurd sources to attack the star

What if Krasinski answered this way?

“Yes, Mr. Esquire, I believe Hollywood too often ignores Red State America, and I want to make movies that speak directly to them. And I’m voting for Trump come November.”

So what? Would that be wrong?

Of course it would be in the eyes of Esquire, Inc. That speaks volumes about the current state of journalism, and the need to bully those who don’t follow a liberal career blueprint.

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Bean: More Anti-American Propaganda Now than Blacklist Era https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/orson-bean-anti-american-propaganda-blacklist/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/orson-bean-anti-american-propaganda-blacklist/#respond Thu, 20 Feb 2020 16:01:04 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024532 anti american blacklist soviet union (1)

Orson Bean’s remarkable life is one for the ages … and soon the small screen, too.

Newsweek reports a limited series based on Bean’s career in and out of show

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anti american blacklist soviet union (1)

Orson Bean’s remarkable life is one for the ages … and soon the small screen, too.

Newsweek reports a limited series based on Bean’s career in and out of show business is in the works. The show’s creative team is looking for a home for the project, but that’s not the only news tied to the late film and TV star.

Newsweek reporter Paul Bond opened up about his previous conversations with Bean, who died earlier this month at the age of 91 after being hit by two cars on a California roadway.

Bean had asked Bond not to share their conversations until after his passing.

The reporter kept his word, but with the star’s recent death felt it was an appropriate time to reveal them with the public.

Bean’s life and legacy still matter. So do his thoughts on the Hollywood Blacklist and its unofficial sequel.

The ageless star began life as a staunch liberal but later embraced both Christianity and conservatism. He famously helped his son-in-law, Andrew Breitbart, on the future mogul’s own shift to the right.

Bean’s early days in Hollywood found him in the Blacklist’s cross hairs. He wasn’t a Communist, but he had a curious connection to the movement. He shared more about his accidental ties in this 2014 THR interview:

The reason I got blacklisted was not because I was a communist but because I was horny for a communist girl and she dragged me to a couple of meetings. After I got elected to vice president of the New York local, I got a call from Ed Sullivan. I could feel the blood draining out of my face. He said “I have to cancel this Sunday.” I had been on the show seven times. Overnight, I went from being the hot young comic at CBS to not working. Luckily I got a play that ran for year, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter.

Bean echoed similar thoughts with Bond as part of the recently revealed conversations. Bean also talked about how modern Hollywood has its own Blacklist of sorts, aimed not at Communists but conservatives in the industry.

Like the best conservatives, Bean wasn’t interested in silencing anyone, be they socialists or full-throated Republicans.

…in a free market there can be films on both sides and people can make up their own minds—and there’s more propaganda today than there was then, with all the devaluing of American culture in movies and TV shows nowadays.

That caught the attention of Bond, who worked for years as a writer with The Hollywood Reporter. He pressed Bean to elaborate.

Sitcoms and movies today hate old-fashioned values. There’s more anti-American propaganda today than the Soviets could have ever worked into our culture through their covert party members who were writing screenplays.

In recent years Bean appeared regularly at Friends of Abe meetings in California. The once-secretive group allowed Hollywood conservatives to gather, share ideas and commiserate about their unequal treatment within the industry.

FOA’s very existence is proof that Hollywood doesn’t treat conservatives fairly. Why else meet in secret while progressive stars shout their opinions from the rafters?

Bean then shared how his “coming out” as a conservative, one with ties to the Breitbart family no less, impacted his still thriving career.

Well. Nobody knows if being a conservative, attending an FOA meeting, has an effect on hiring or not. But the fact is, that after my three seasons on Desperate Housewives, I have barely worked, and that coincides with people learning my politics and realizing Andrew Breitbart, whom I loved so much, was my son-in-law.

… I smell a blacklist today the same way I smelled it back then. You just can’t get it on paper.

Photo by Katie@! on Foter.com / CC BY

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Media Gaslighting 101: Rescuing ‘Birds of Prey’ from Reality https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/media-save-feminist-birds-of-prey/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/media-save-feminist-birds-of-prey/#respond Wed, 19 Feb 2020 18:33:35 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024527 birds of prey review

Film reporters broke out their pom poms … again … this month.

We saw this four years ago when the gender-switch reboot of  “Ghostbusters” hit theaters. The media acted like

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birds of prey review

Film reporters broke out their pom poms … again … this month.

We saw this four years ago when the gender-switch reboot of  “Ghostbusters” hit theaters. The media acted like unofficial press agents for a comedy which cost its studio north of $70 million.

Long story short: The media campaign didn’t work.

Now, the same film writing community it trying to pull the wool over our eyes for another female-driven feature.

The film in question is “Birds of Prey.” Margot Robbie reprises her role as Harley Quinn, leading a team of badass female heroes against the wicked Black Mask (Ewan McGregor).

Superhero movies make coin, period, no matter their quality. Consider the opening weekends for the following films, all of which lacked the universal name recognition Batman, Spider-Man and Superman enjoy.

  • Venom (2018) – $80 million
  • Suicide Squad (2016) – $133 million 
  • Shazam (2019) – $53 million
  • Ant-Man (2015) – $57 million
  • Black Panther (2018) – $ 202 million

Now, here’s what “Birds of Prey” earned in its opening weekend against virtually no competition of consequence – $33 million. Those are terrible numbers, and you can’t spin the truth any other way. Box office predictions had the film opening at $50 million, too.

Tell that to select film scribes, who have spent the last week spinning hard for the film.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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#BirdsOfPrey is a bold new entry into the DC Universe. See why critics are calling it a rockin’ good time – NOW PLAYING only in theaters. Get tickets! Link in Bio.

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The most overt example comes courtesy of ComicBook.com. The site attempts to rewrite box office history to show us “Birds of Prey” isn’t a flop.

When a studio changes a movie’s name after its opening weekend, as is the case with “Birds of Prey,” you’ve got a problem. Don’t tell that to ComicBook.com, which ignores basic Hollywood realities in its defense.

The film made around $81 million globally during that first weekend, a sum that either recouped or came close to recouping the film’s budget depending on what budget figure you use, meaning anything beyond that could arguably see the film in the green.

A film’s budget is just part of a studio’s fiscal responsibility. Marketing and advertising campaigns combined often equal those production costs. Remember “Ghostbusters?” The 2016 film earned $229 million worldwide from a $144 million budget. Yet Sony lost $70-plus million as a result of its box office performance.

The author then connects “Birds of Prey” to “Ford v. Ferrari,” an absurd comparison.

In the case of Ford v Ferrari, it’s opening weekend was described as “racing to first place” or as a “strong” opening with $31 million domestic while Birds of Prey had distinctly negative phrasing with words such as “disappoints” and “went astray” with its slightly better take of $33 million. Similar budget, both are smaller films with an action-oriented slant (though Ford v Ferrari features cars rather than brawling), Ford v Ferrari even had something that Birds of Prey did not have in the way of major star power with Christian Bale and Matt Damon in starring roles. One can even argue that they are both niche films yet Ford is praised for its modest box office take while Birds of Prey is sneered at for the same dollar amount.

Apples and oranges? Try cherries and watermelons.

ScreenRant.com acknowledges the film’s poor start, but the site says there’s still hope for the film’s box office fortunes. For example, a PG:13 rated version of the film could draw a bigger crowd. Having an R-rating didn’t stop “Joker,” “Logan” or the “Deadpool” films from crushing the box office competition, though.

RELATED: Roeper Says Critics Graded Lady ‘Ghostbusters’ on a Curve

It’s also worth noting that film scribes dropped their pom poms for “Joker,” arguing the film could inspire violence wherever it played.

That didn’t happen, but it did snare a Best Picture nomination and the crown for the highest grossing R-rated movie in history.

The far-left Uproxx.com bemoans “Birds of Prey’s” box office fortunes, but then attempts to cancel an outspoken comic book creator for noting the film’s lack of sex appeal may be partly to blame.

Reliably liberal Forbes.com movie columnist Scott Mendelson attacks the usual suspects in trying to deflect from the harsh box office realities.

No, despite what some dudes on the Internet might tell you, the underwhelming performance of uh, Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey is not an example of Hollywood taking it on the chin for offering gender parity and/or onscreen diversity, an alleged trend that is often referred to as “get woke, go broke.”

More spin. Audiences aren’t turned off by on-screen diversity. Just consider the gobs of cash “Fast & Furious” movies make or the recent “Bad Boys for Life” threequel. They are turned off, though, by woke marketing. And the track record proves it.

Over at the far-left Vox.com, we’re told the film’s disappointing tally is a blow toward “more representation” in the superhero ream.

That ignores “Catwoman,” “Elektra,” “Supergirl,” “Captain Marvel,” “Wonder Woman,” the upcoming “Black Widow” plus a crush of high profile superheroines on the small screen (“Jessica Jones,” “Supergirl,” “Batwoman” and more).

Still, the Vox piece gives away the game. Reporters are treating “Birds of Prey” like a political candidate they need to protect. They think the film’s success might change Hollywood, and when it dramatically under-performed they’ve resorted to full spin mode.

Quality is the ultimate game changer. Director Patty Jenkins delivered a dizzying smash via “Wonder Woman,” and the film didn’t need a gaggle of gaslighting articles to save it.

The film spoke for itself. The sequel, out later this year, may do the same.

Want equality in Hollywood? Cheer on the good product, tell the truth and audiences will take care of the rest.

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‘Standing Up, Falling Down’ Lets Billy Crystal Shine (Again) https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/standing-up-falling-down-review/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/standing-up-falling-down-review/#respond Wed, 19 Feb 2020 01:42:01 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024523 standing up falling down review billy crystal

We missed you, Billy.

Comic actor Billy Crystal isn’t doing many movies these days, his string of smashes (“City Slickers”) and misfires (“Mr. Saturday Night”) in the rear view mirror.

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standing up falling down review billy crystal

We missed you, Billy.

Comic actor Billy Crystal isn’t doing many movies these days, his string of smashes (“City Slickers”) and misfires (“Mr. Saturday Night”) in the rear view mirror.

“Standing Up, Falling Down” gives Crystal the supporting role, but he dominates the indie comedy in more ways than one. He still can’t bully past the towering stack of cliches before him. His bond with his younger co-star, though, is so good, so memorable, you wish they skipped this story and went on a road trip instead.

Ben Schwartz plays Scott, an aspiring stand up comic who returns home after crashing and burning in L.A. Right away we’re on familiar ground, and “Standing Up” isn’t keen on making things much fresher. We’re told Scott still pines for the girl he left behind (Eloise Mumford), can’t connect with his gruff dad (Kevin Dunn) and doesn’t know what to do with his 30-something self.

Need more recycled elements? Scott’s comedy stinks, but it soars when he opens up about his personal life on stage.

Holy Mrs. Maisel!

The only thing missing is a Mrs. Robinson type to turn Scott’s head. Maybe that subplot didn’t make the final cut.

Scott has a meet cute bro moment with Marty (Crystal), a dermatologist and part-time stalker. Scott and Marty connect, in part, because the screenplay demands such contrivances. The film is set on Long Island, a place where you keep bumping into the people you know.

RELATED: How ‘City Slickers’ Did Right By American Males

Schwartz’s lost boy pose proves authentic, leaving him open to Marty’s parental advice. Crystal’s character, in turn, numbs his personal pain with booze and wisecracks, and not always in that order.

As long as the camera focuses on them, “Standing Up” is a minor gem. The rest of the narrative keeps elbowing into the frame, alas.

And poor Jill Hennessy, cast as a sultry older woman “captivated” by Marty’s Karaoke charms. Her reappearance later in the film, albeit briefly, might be the funniest moment in the movie.

It’s not intentional.

FAST FACT: Billy Crystal showed an early interest in co-starring in “Standing Up, Falling Down.” The comedy icon personally requested Ben Schwarz join him on the project.

Crystal taps everything in his tool kit to bring Marty to life, and that’s no small statement. The actor’s performance is as vulnerable as we’ve ever seen the comic legend. His lack of vanity suits both the character and the film, and elements of his past roles flash by in ways that break our hearts.

Billy Crystal is ageless. Marty? Not so much.

He hasn’t cast aside his Borscht Belt shtick, of course, but it’s woven seamlessly into this tortured soul.

The third act mostly goes where we expect, with a maudlin detour along the way. The resolutions neither enlighten or engage. Instead, we’re left wishing the film’s lost souls never left the bar where they met.

HiT or Miss: “Standing Up, Falling Down” gives Billy Crystal his richest role in ages, but that’s where the good news fades. 

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HiT ‘cast 148: Comedian Steve ‘Mudflap’ McGrew https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/steve-mcgrew-2/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/steve-mcgrew-2/#respond Tue, 18 Feb 2020 22:01:50 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024519 steve mudflap mcgrew podcast interview

Steve McGrew knows the inside of Facebook Jail all too well.

The veteran stand-up often shares his thoughts and feelings on social media. For a right-leaning soul in 2020, that

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steve mudflap mcgrew podcast interview

Steve McGrew knows the inside of Facebook Jail all too well.

The veteran stand-up often shares his thoughts and feelings on social media. For a right-leaning soul in 2020, that means getting regular “Time Outs” from Big Tech.

He’s hardly alone, but he’s not going to stop being himself online. That’s why his cadre of colorful characters, from Tucker the Trucker to Larry the Liberal, are still lurking on YouTube for all to see (and laugh at).

McGrew’s stand-up routine isn’t overly political, but he’s embraced his right-of-center in recent years. He teamed with comic Chad Prather for the viral smash “Friends in Safe Spaces” and joined The Deplorables Comedy Tour last year.

Right, left or center, McGrew is just plain funny. It’s why The HiT ‘cast invited him back on the show to learn the latest about his career, how the comedy industry continues to discriminate against conservative comics and more.

Listen to “HiT ‘Cast 148: Steve McGrew Laughs While Leftists Eat Their Own” on Spreaker.

You can follow this “Hellbent Southern Gent” on his signature web site as well as his YouTube channel. You can also follow him (for now) on Twitter @MudflapMc.

Need more? Download fresh episodes of both “Remasculate” and Wrinkled Sheets, the latter show co-hosted with Janet Blair.

Coming soon? His newest comedy album, “Toxic Masculinity.”

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‘Night Clerk’ – Long on Sympathy, Short on Thrills https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/night-clerk-review/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/night-clerk-review/#respond Tue, 18 Feb 2020 17:23:22 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024515 night clerk review leguizamo sheridan

Hollywood is making progress, finally, on how it treats mentally challenged characters.

Wacky comedies like “The Dream Team,” about a group of mentally unstable patients, were once the norm. Now,

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night clerk review leguizamo sheridan

Hollywood is making progress, finally, on how it treats mentally challenged characters.

Wacky comedies like “The Dream Team,” about a group of mentally unstable patients, were once the norm. Now, even slow-burn thrillers like “The Night Clerk” tread carefully in this arena.

The film casts Tye Sheridan as a young man with Asperger syndrome, but it’s not eager to weaponize the condition for laughs. Instead, his character invites us into an unusual thriller, one cementing Sheridan’s rich potential.

If only the story surrounding him gripped us as thoroughly as Sheridan’s performance.

Sheridan plays Bart, the night clerk at a chain hotel outlet. He’s quiet but affable, and he’s learned how to appear more relaxed behind the counter. He mimics how other people exchange pleasantries, teaching himself how to appear “just like them.”

He’s got an Ace up his sleeve, though, one he dutifully keeps hidden. He watches his guests in their hotel rooms via spy-like cameras, allowing him to observe them in unguarded moments.

It’s a chilling practice from such a seemingly kind soul, not to mention the fears we all have regarding our high-tech age. Those cameras catch a murder early in the film, but writer/director Michael Cristofer shrewdly keeps the details to himself.

Who is the killer? Could Bart be in some way responsible? Might other guests be next?

FAST FACT: Michael Cristofer found inspiration for writing “The Night Clerk” from his nephew, who has Asperger syndrome, as well as the tiny video cameras he noticed on sale to the public.

The murder sets Cristofer’s film in motion, but the screenplay often treats the death as an afterthought. Sure, we meet the cynical cop investigating the case (John Leguizamo, solid as ever), but the focus turns to Bart’s connection with a new hotel guest.

Ana de Armas of “Knives Out” fame checks in for a spell, and Bart is understandably bewitched. She has a connection to Bart and his condition, but it’s how their bond flowers that forms the heart of the film.

Sheridan’s turn as Bart may be revelatory for those unfamiliar with Asperger. His intelligence, and indifference to social cues, is fascinating … for a while. The film counts too heavily on his condition, allowing interesting subplots to fade into the background.

We’d love to see more of Helen Hunt, cast as Bart’s understandably protective Ma. Even Bart’s co-workers slip in and out of the story without much detail.

Armas’ interest in Bart also deserves more attention, even if he’s the polar opposite of her other beau. The young actress sells the part, though, partially bridging the gap between character and motivations.

The film’s third act takes some gimmicky twists that feel less satisfying and unearned. Still, by then you’re wholly invested in Bart’s predicament and eager to see how the story resolves itself. Some thrillers make do with far less, something that can’t be said here.

HiT or Miss: Those looking for an unusual thriller heavy on character development will relish “The Night Clerk.” Even they may be flustered before the final reveal, though.

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Amazon’s ‘Hunters’ an Inglorious, Tarantino-Style Train Wreck https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/hunters-review-amazon-prime/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/hunters-review-amazon-prime/#respond Mon, 17 Feb 2020 20:00:44 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024510 hunters review amazon

Peak TV is a glorious thing, but it’s far from perfect.

Example A: “Hunters,” the new Amazon Prime series starring the legendary Al Pacino. The ‘70s set thriller reveals a

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hunters review amazon

Peak TV is a glorious thing, but it’s far from perfect.

Example A: “Hunters,” the new Amazon Prime series starring the legendary Al Pacino. The ‘70s set thriller reveals a network of Nazis infiltrating our corridors of power. Enter a gang of Nazi hunters, ready to crush this network with methods that would make Jack Bauer blush.

It’s a tonal Hindenburg – Tarantino-esque one minute, “Schindler’s List” the next. For those aghast at the comic detours taken by “Jojo Rabbit,” this is infinitely worse, sloppier and crude.

That’s not the only problem for the show, debuting Feb. 21. “Hunters” is alternately glib and dull, a pastiche of emotions, tones and styles that alternately bore and disgust.

The show opens badly as an undercover Nazi is exposed with bloody repercussions. Dylan Baker, certified gold as a soulless creep (see “Happiness”), is part of a larger network of surviving Nazis promising the Fourth Reich.

It’s a silly setup based oh, so loosely on the truth. Nazis did hide in plain sight in America during the 1970s. The reasons behind their survival are far more interesting, and complicated, than anything shown here.

We soon meet Jonah (Logan Lerman), a surly Jewish teen who sounds like he’s minoring in Moral Relativism. Jonah even has a soft spot for Darth Vader. He’s immediately unlikable, sullen and Millennial-like despite the time period.

Even Pacino’s character takes notice.

“You’re what they call a little sh**,” Pacino’s Meyer Hoffman growls. Meyer is a “Jewish” Bruce Wayne of sorts, a millionaire funneling his cash to hunt down the remaining Nazis.

On and on it goes for the first two episodes, veering from ghastly Holocaust flashbacks to fourth wall-breaking winks.

Pick a lane, please.

RELATED: Watch Conan Call Trump Supporters Nazis

Even when the show embraces its pulp roots it’s a snore. Or, more precisely, a sadistic snore. Both the heroes and villain revel in torture, although only one side does it for the “right” reasons. Jonah is the only character who winces at the techniques. He’s outnumbered, though.

“It’s not murder, it’s a mitzvah,” Meyer explains.

“Hunters” dabbles in Nostalgia Porn when it isn’t indulging in Torture Porn. It’s not enough to hear countless ‘70s songs and see a plethora of sideburned heroes. We’re also force-fed closeups of the same TV Guide magazine with a radiant Farrah Fawcett smiling on its cover.

Every third character has that same edition! Isn’t time passing in the story? This was a weekly magazine, remember?

And did TV Guide truly have that level of market penetration? You ask these questions because the story unfolding is a dud.

The first two episodes lack the clunky anti-Trump rhetoric this critic expected. The closest to progressive messaging is a character noting, “The truth matters now more than ever,” a platitude the Left loves to share sans irony.

It’s possible the show will get political before season one wraps. The storytelling so far is dutifully on the nose, making those kinds of transitions feasible.

A few tantalizing bits emerge from the “Hunters'” wreckage. A chess-inspired Holocaust scene is like body horror on steroids. A monologue Pacino delivers near the end of episode one strikes an emotional chord without bloodshed or bravado.

The series’ score, haunting, majestic and with a kiss of chamber music, feels wildly appropriate. And Pacino, God bless him, doesn’t nibble on any scenery, at least during the first two episodes screened by this critic.

The stilted dialogue and contrived situations still reek of 21st century awareness.

“She’s as excited as a white girl at an Engelbert Humperdinck concert,” one character quips. Later, we see a child with a peanut allergy, a trend that exploded more than a decade after the show is set.

RELATED: Cowardly Comic Calls Conservatives Nazis … Then Hides

There’s something symbolic about a prestige streamer, teamed with an “it” producer (Jordan Peele), releasing “Hunters” at this time. The rise of Trump, we’re told, sparked a white supremacist renaissance.

It’s one reason the “Charlottesville Lie” endures – to prop up that feeble narrative.

That may have set the creative fuse behind “Hunters.” It still doesn’t explain away the torturous nature of the first two episodes.

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Trevor Noah: ‘I Kind of Feel Bad for [Jussie Smollett]’ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/trevor-noah-feel-bad-jussie-smollett/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/trevor-noah-feel-bad-jussie-smollett/#respond Sun, 16 Feb 2020 21:52:41 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024506 trevor noah jussie smollett

The long arm of the law finally snagged “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett.

Last year, Smollett told Chicago police a pair of President Donald Trump supporters assaulted him, shouting anti-gay and

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trevor noah jussie smollett

The long arm of the law finally snagged “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett.

Last year, Smollett told Chicago police a pair of President Donald Trump supporters assaulted him, shouting anti-gay and black epithets while dousing him with bleach. The MAGA thugs threw a noose around the actor’s neck for good measure.

All of this took place on the coldest possible night in the Windy City.

The claim didn’t pass any sort of smell test, but it took time before the entire story collapsed. He initially faced a barrage of indictments before prosecutors dropped the charges to the confusion of many.

Justice briefly took a knee, but now Smollett now faces a six-charge indictment stemming from his initial claims.

The news got modest media coverage from the left-leaning press, much like the earlier wave of indictments.

Why?

The Smollett debacle doesn’t fit the Left’s preferred narratives.

“The Daily Show’s” Trevor Noah mentioned it earlier this week, but he seemed almost sad to see Smollett finally pay a price for his actions.

Noah called Smollett the “black Pinocchio” to start the update, but later betrayed a bit of sadness that the star might actually pay for his crimes.

“I know what Jussie did was wrong, but I won’t lie, at the same time I kind of feel bad for him. Because he gets into trouble now for calling in fake crimes, but those Permit Patties who make bull**** calls to 911 they live their lives. They just do their thing,” Noah cracked.

The screen showed three white women who had panicked and called 911 over black neighbors’ actions that weren’t criminal in nature.

Where to begin …

Smollett didn’t just stage a hate crime. He made sure Chicago police officers spent day after day, week after week, investigating his hoax. Those cops have plenty of real crimes to handle. Do we need mention the staggering amount of murders in Chicago on any given weekend?

Instead of protecting innocents and tracking down killers, Chicago cops had to handle a racially-sensitive case.

Now, imagine your family members were touched by a Chicago-based crime but didn’t get immediate attention because the cops were busy on a high profile… fraud. That’s not even tallying the money lost investigating said hoax.

Even more nauseating? How Smollett’s accusation, combined with a media eager to convict Trump voters sans evidence, unfairly tarnished that group.

Still feel badly for Smollett?

Those “Permit Patties” acted in bad faith and briefly tied up a 911 operator’s time. To compare those gross acts with Smollett’s premeditated hoax, allegedly staged to boost his already fat bank account, is absurd.

Oh, and for what it’s worth, one of those “Permit Patties” featured on “The Daily Show” had to resign her CEO position as a result of her phone call. The woman, Alison Ettel, also profusely apologized for her actions.

Smollett still insists, despite an avalanche of evidence to the contrary, he’s telling the truth about the “assault.”

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How ‘Crisis Moon’ Strikes a Blow for Conservative Art https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/crisis-moon-novel-culture-war/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/crisis-moon-novel-culture-war/#respond Sat, 15 Feb 2020 18:48:04 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024499 How ‘Crisis Moon’ Strikes a Blow for Conservative Art

“All politics are downstream from pop-culture” is the first thing I learned from Andrew Breitbart.

It changed the way I looked at film, television and publishing.

The political results

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How ‘Crisis Moon’ Strikes a Blow for Conservative Art

“All politics are downstream from pop-culture” is the first thing I learned from Andrew Breitbart.

It changed the way I looked at film, television and publishing.

The political results of spoon-feeding Americans left-wing values through popular entertainment for roughly 40 years is self-evident to anyone paying attention.

Every half-baked idea you see young folks embracing was first sold to them wrapped up in a story or ad campaign crafted by a Washington and Wilshire nexus.

When big Hollywood corporations cater to a global audience, they choose to do so by mocking American history, culture and institutions, which is not necessary for storytelling unless it’s part of an agenda. The anti-American themes are a direct result of the creative decision making by power players who are determined to forever change our culture to suit their bottom line, not your quality of life.

I first noticed this intentional, subtle assault on American integrity back in 2003 when I attended the premiere of “The Bourne Supremacy.”

I seemed to be the only person in the audience to notice that every European police and intelligence agency ran smooth and with authority. The U.S. bodies, by comparison, teemed with bumbling idiots tripping over themselves.

Watching “Bourne” is when I first started to take account of all the intentional slights in media. That “symphony of bias” nudged young folks to question their world as fake and pointless compared to the “utopian world” as, you guessed it, defined by global elites who sit comfortably in positions of power and influence.

Woke culture is the predictable end point for a movement based entirely on “controlling the narrative.” Thankfully, Americans are now aware of the cultural cold war that’s been on-going for decades with only one side being heard.

Stories really are food for the brain, and the folks in charge of what gets the greenlight at the cinema are simply masters at making junk food entertainment.

If you’re a creator of any kind it’s time to treat Hollywood like the last option for your material instead of the first.

For the most part, the promise of fame is the force that draws most young dreamers to town. It’s the allure of worldly power that inspires folks to give away their best story ideas, never to be seen again. Do not make that mistake, instead take advantage of the liberating tools of technology and produce and distribute your own material any way you are capable.

Change the culture by ignoring the old one like the chintzy Vegas sideshow it has become and focus your energies on creating something you can own and sell.

That’s why I turned to publishing novels instead of writing screenplays.

Crisis Moon” – a space adventure about conflict with China on the Moon, is my second book and also a direct attack on the Hollywood business model in its own small way.

CRISIS MOON Sizzler 2 from MWM Studio on Vimeo.

“Crisis Moon” started as a screenplay many years ago and was very well received until the realities of Chinese influence killed its potential. The reason a movie like “Crisis Moon” will never be produced in the year 2020, is because the Chinese box office is more valuable to American movie companies than American box office is.

If Hollywood paints China in a negative light, studios would be banned from releasing movies there.

So in exchange for an increased corporate profit, we Americans must abide by the constricting rules of Communism when creating our work.

No thanks.

“Crisis Moon” is more than just an exciting and fast-paced space adventure on the Moon. It’s also a book about the vital importance the private space sector has when the government is ill equipped to respond. It’s about the American ideal of doing it yourself and loving what’s behind you enough to sacrifice your own life.

The book also touches on the pride felt by being the first nation to land humans on the Moon, while also showing a frightening picture of a possible future.

Please help me make the right side of the story be heard in the pop culture cold war by downloading the “Crisis Moon” Kindle or ordering a paperback. Make it your business to actively seek out and patronize other indie artists who try to tell the right side of the story.

Eventually the symphony of new ideas will be so loud, everyone will listen again.


Michael McGruther is a screenwriter, author and publisher. He has worked in the entertainment industry for 27 years. His professional writing career began with the original screenplay “Tigerland,” which was directed by Joel Schumacher and starred Colin Farrell. “Crisis Moon” is the second book released under his publishing imprint Hosel & Ferrule Books.

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‘The Assistant’ Puts Us in Weinstein’s Cross Hairs https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/the-assistant-review-wurst/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/the-assistant-review-wurst/#respond Sat, 15 Feb 2020 15:44:28 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024496 assistant review julia garner weinstein story

When I used to cover Miramax’s legacy in my film classes, I’d speak of Harvey Weinstein with genuine awe and admiration.

Lecturing on a section dealing with the 1990s independent

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assistant review julia garner weinstein story

When I used to cover Miramax’s legacy in my film classes, I’d speak of Harvey Weinstein with genuine awe and admiration.

Lecturing on a section dealing with the 1990s independent film world would be incomplete without mention of Weinstein’s company, his efforts to expand the availability of art films and how he got “The Crying Game” and “Pulp Fiction” into mainstream theaters.

I was a fan of the company and the man himself.

Today, talking about Weinstein’s artistic output is akin to queasily defending the comedy legacy of Bill Cosby. In fact, it’s a lot like that. Spending a year reading about the reports coming out of Miramax, Weinstein’s film company (named after his parents, Mira and Max Weinstein), we’ve learned of the vile creature he is behind closed doors and how dangerous he was to be around.

Writer/director Kitty Green’s “The Assistant,” her debut film. The film looks into such an environment, in which we view a very long and painful day for Jane, a young woman (played by Julia Garner) working at a New York-based film office with a poisonous, casually sexist and vaguely sinister vibe.

The movie takes place at a fictional office that isn’t called Miramax, but it’s clearly inspired by the Weinstein-related articles. In the same way, the CEO of the film company is called “Boss” but really, it’s clearly a stand-in for Weinstein.

“Boss,” as he’s referred to in the end credits, is (in a brilliant touch) heard over the phone and never seen- his intimidating, husky voice is provided by the wonderful character actor Jay O. Sanders, whose readings are gut churning.

Garner’s performance, which is mostly silent and reactive but also soulful and deeply felt, carries the film. She is the best thing on Netflix’s “Ozark” and gives a compelling turn here as well.

Jane has a backstory that is mostly vague (we learn late in the film about her family and background), which makes Garner’s performance an avatar for the audience, an Everywoman anyone can sympathize with and get behind.

“The Assistant” manages to avoid being heavy handed, primarily by avoiding use of a music score until the very end. It creates a rich feeling of discomfort, filmed with stark precision, and it doesn’t force any of its points.

Compared to other works on office cruelty and casual sexism, it avoids the tell-all nastiness of “In the Company of Men,” the overt satire of “Office Space” and the in-the-nose sexual politics of “Equity.”

After many minimalist scenes, in which we view Jane’s silent rituals of setting up and carrying through with her daily tasks, we get a key sequence where Jane finally confides in someone about the deeply troubling things she has observed.

Her confidant is played by Matthew Mcfadyen (so good as Mr. Darcy in the Keira Knightley-led, 2005 version of “Pride and Prejudice”) – I won’t describe his character or the scene in fear of spoiling it, but the sudden unleashing of loaded dialog, and the power struggle it creates, is stunning.

ANOTHER TAKE: ‘The Assistant’ Is a #MeToo Misfire

There will be far more explicit, sensational accounts of the Miramax disaster and Weinstein’s grotesque abuses of power. For now, Green’s film constructs a Kafka-esque feel and reality that will, unfortunately, resonate for many who have survived such environments.

If “The Office” is the comedic portrayal of working for out-of-control, manipulative and irresponsible numbskull, then this is the nightmare variation.

Quiet, observant and dark, making viewers a willing voyeur (a touch amplified by the deceptively simple final moment), “The Assistant” creates the feel and tension of this cubicle-adorned world and is all too potent in its message for necessary change.


Three and a Half Stars

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‘Freedom to Laugh’ Tour Takes on AOC, Hillary and More https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/freedom-to-laugh-tour-review/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/freedom-to-laugh-tour-review/#respond Fri, 14 Feb 2020 20:21:50 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024487 freedom to laugh tour review

Audiences who line up to see the “Freedom to Laugh” tour must do a double or triple take. 

It’s one thing to expect right-leaning laughs from the event, billed as

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freedom to laugh tour review

Audiences who line up to see the “Freedom to Laugh” tour must do a double or triple take. 

It’s one thing to expect right-leaning laughs from the event, billed as a MAGA friendly affair. It’s another to actually hear the jokes themselves.

We’ve become accustomed to comedians trashing President Donald Trump, the GOP and anyone who dares support any combination of the two. We’re hard-wired to expect it after years of comedy indoctrination.

It’s why the “Freedom to Laugh” special, just added to the Fox Nation streaming service, is more than a badly needed alternative. It’s both long overdue and mostly worth the wait for those who can’t see the tour live.

Three right-leaning comics – Michael Loftus, Brian Haner and Reno Collier – offer a combination of political satire, songs and old-school stand up. Loftus goes first, delivering a rascally defense of our Commander in Chief.

President Donald Trump keeps the world off balance by being so darn unpredictable, Loftus says, bobbin’ and weavin’ like a fighter mid rope-a-dope.

The comedian and podcaster’s segment starts slowly, and we fear he may detour to the dreaded “clapter” zone, where the Late Night humorists roam. Loftus quickly rebounds, giving a comical history lesson along the way.

He hits some ripe targets, including twice failed Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. He also delights in calling us a nation of righteous hillbillies, taking the term back with affection. He somehow ties the American Revolution to the country’s victory in the Space Race without leaving his Redneck Theorem behind.

“We have a car on the moon. That’s how hillbilly we are,” he says. “And, in hillbilly fashion, we left it there.”

And it’s a safe bet “Saturday Night Live” won’t trot out a Christopher Walken take on Donald Trump.

Brian Haner comes next, a guitar slinger who added comedy to his repertoire after years as a session player. The evolution suits him well. His comic songs prove tuneful and sharp, with nary a wasted verse or chorus.

He hoped to pen some funny lyrics to poke at Ms. Woke Herself, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, he says. Instead, he quotes her verbatim.

It’s a reminder how today’s comics willfully avoid AOC material, and what a treasure trove they’re missing.

“Everything is extreme, everything is a meme … ” Haner sings. “With a Green Deal straight from Al Gore, there’s no fact that she won’t ignore…”

Blue Collar Comedy Tour veteran Reno Collier caps the evening, delivering the most straightforward set of the trio. He’s not bashing Speaker Pelosi or MSNBC. He’s just cracking wise, with an occasional bomb lobbed at Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Collier’s routine proves the weakest of the three, but his avuncular stage presence makes it go down smoothly.

The Chicago crowd that came out for this leg of the tour may have expected a non-stop political assault. That’s not what’s in store for Fox Nation subscribers. These comedians aren’t obsessed with politics. They just reserve the right to lean right on occasion.

“Freedom to Laugh?” Maybe a better title would be, “Freedom to Laugh at the Other Side for a Change.”

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How ‘Downhill’ Leaves Will Ferrell Out in the Cold https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/downhill-review/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/downhill-review/#respond Fri, 14 Feb 2020 03:38:40 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024484 downhill review louis dreyfus ferrell

“Downhill” is like Methadone for your “Marriage Story” addiction.

The latter showed a relationship in its death throes. “Downhill,” the American remake of 2014’s “Force Majeure,” X-rays a middle-aged couple

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downhill review louis dreyfus ferrell

“Downhill” is like Methadone for your “Marriage Story” addiction.

The latter showed a relationship in its death throes. “Downhill,” the American remake of 2014’s “Force Majeure,” X-rays a middle-aged couple teetering toward disaster.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell are well cast, but the movie is too short, too eager to smite one half of the couple in question, to fully recommend it.

And in Hollywood’s faux obsession with the patriarchy, Ferrell’s character wins the Emasculation Olympics, and it’s not even close.

Louis-Dreyfus and Ferrell play Billie and Pete, a couple vacationing in the Alps with their pre-teen boys. All seems well on the surface, but the set of Billie’s jaw suggests otherwise. Said jaw clenches harder, and longer, after the family is dusted by a controlled avalanche at their resort. Pete lunges for his phone, not his family.

Billie wonders what kind of a man she’s been married to all these years. She has a point.

“Downhill” negotiates her resentment with great care. It’s clear the team behind the film understands the nuances of a marriage, for better and worse.

Slowly, painfully, the family’s ski vacation becomes a bizarre battle of wills, dragging Pete’s best bud (Zach Woods) and his too perfect galpal (Zoe Chao) into the fight.

“Downhill” isn’t your standard Ferrell comedy. His partners in crime, Adam McKay and John C. Reilly, are nowhere in sight. The tone is more mature and grounded, a far cry from Ferrell’s signature shtick. The shift fits his talents snugly, but the filmmakers sometimes pine for the old Will Ferrell, the guy who tears his shirt off, revealing his dad bod for all to see.

Consider a sequence where Pete drinks too much in a dance club. You can sense directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (the superior “Way, Way Back”) itching to let their star loose.

As is, the sequence isn’t illuminating or funny. It just sits there, eager for a rewrite.

Other moments offer richer rewards. A critical battle, played out before friends and family, showcases a relationship heading, well, downhill. It doesn’t reveal enough, though, something “Downhill’s” stingy running time exaggerates.

We need to spend more time with Billie and Pete to see how they fight, and flirt, and collaborate. Is this a doomed marriage, or a case of Pete’s ego in self-destruct mode?

More importantly, why does the screenplay shred Pete in no uncertain terms? The aforementioned “Marriage Story” ladled out the blame equally between the main characters. It’s one reason the story’s through line – staying in love through the worst of circumstances – registered.

Here, Billie is the saint, the put-upon spouse losing it over Pete’s shenanigans. She’s a bit distant, but it’s obvious who the superior partner is. She even gets a wildly improbable love interest, a false note in a story that can ill afford one.

The male ego is fertile grounds for comedy, of course. And, perhaps, the film’s message is some marriages shouldn’t be saved. Still, a more compatible union, warts and all, would deliver more tension, more avenues for audiences to explore.

As is, “Downhill” offers a sophisticated look at marriage but can’t fully commit to the task at hand.

HiT or Miss: “Downhill” serves up a mature look at monogamy, something too often missing in Hollywood. It’s still an exasperating experience.

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Waters: Trump a Mass Murderer Killing ‘Brown People for Profit’ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/roger-waters-trump-mass-murderer-brown-people/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/roger-waters-trump-mass-murderer-brown-people/#respond Thu, 13 Feb 2020 00:08:27 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024478 roger waters venezuela maduro

Roger Waters knew he was on friendly turf this week.

The Pink Floyd co-founder promoted his new concert film “Us + Them” at a New York press conference in front

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roger waters venezuela maduro

Roger Waters knew he was on friendly turf this week.

The Pink Floyd co-founder promoted his new concert film “Us + Them” at a New York press conference in front of a press-heavy crowd.

Waters understood he’d get little blowback if he savagely attacked President Donald Trump. And he was right, according to a report from Rolling Stone.

Still, the level of vitriol he aimed at the president proved more than even Robert De Niro and Kathy Griffin, combined, could spew.

Celebrities began dubbing Trump Hitler 2.0 long before he became the country’s 45th president. And, even with a discernible lack of Hitler-like achievements, they haven’t stopped. Just recently, far-left comedian Sarah Silverman brought up Nazi Germany on Twitter to bash the president.

Waters took that kind of unhinged rhetoric to new levels during the New York press conference.

First, the music icon bemoaned how the only politician capable of taking Trump on, Sen. Bernie Sanders, was being destroyed during the Democratic primaries.

Members of the audience, filled mostly with reporters, cheered the statement.

Waters, credibly accused of being an anti-semite, took his Trump attacks to a new level next.

“And this is a man who has failed at f***ing everything in his life except becoming the biggest … tyrant and mass murderer and mass destroyer of everything that any of us might love or cherish in the whole [world], only because he has the power,” he continued. “Unfortunately, he has his finger on the button on it, and he’s right. In ‘Pigs,’ when we put up that he has a bigger button and it works, it does. And it’s working all over the world, murdering brown people for profit.”

At this point, according to Rolling Stone, the moderator applauded Waters’ passion.

Waters didn’t share any proof to back up his claims. The Rolling Stone report doesn’t share if any reporters pressed the rock legend for specifics. Knowing how the press operates in the Age of Trump it’s unlikely.

RELATED: Director Can’t Understand Why the Press Gives Waters a Pass

The rocker’s past rhetoric suggests a flimsy grasp on reality. He’s praised Venezuela dictator Nicholas Maduro, a man overseeing the devastating decline of his nation. Waters also blamed the United States, without proof, for Venezuela’s plight.

Waters pays no price for his unhinged, fact-free rhetoric. In fact, this spring he’ll be a keynote speaker at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin. The event will be moderated by far-left filmmaker Michael Moore.

Pro-Israel groups hope to convince the festival to reconsider Waters’ appearance.

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How ‘VFW’ Honors Veterans and Horror Junkies Alike https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/vfw-review/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/vfw-review/#respond Wed, 12 Feb 2020 19:39:19 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024470 VFW review Stephen Lang

Horror movies can take two very different path.

The first? Make the deaths so clever, so over the top that you don’t give a dang about the folks biting the

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VFW review Stephen Lang

Horror movies can take two very different path.

The first? Make the deaths so clever, so over the top that you don’t give a dang about the folks biting the bullet. Just crank out those sweet, sweet kills.

Number two? Give audiences characters they care about. It raises the stakes of the inevitable bloodshed.

By that scale “VFW” goes two for two.

Yes, some of the kills are absurd by even Fangoria standards – the rebooted company presents “VFW” sans apology. Think practical effects gone oh, so wild.

More importantly, you’ll care about the old codgers defending their turf from a horde of addicts. And if you think the mob resembles an undead army, that’s partly the point.

The film begins in a future America where society teeters on the edge of collapse. A new drug called Hype has countless souls addicted, which means the dealers hold considerable sway over the culture.

None of that matters, yet, to Stephen Lang’s Fred. He’s a Vietnam vet pouring stiff drinks for his old platoon buddies at the VFW. They curse, and drink, and tell the same B.S. stories over and again.

It’s a home, of sorts, and folks like Lou (Martin Kove), Thomas (George Wendt) and Abe (Fred Williamson) wouldn’t have it any other way.

Their sozzled status quo ends when a woman (Sierra McCormick) bursts into their clubhouse clutching a whole lotta Hype. Naturally, the dealer she stole it from wants it back, and he’ll summon an army of “Hypers” to help.

Can these old soldiers do battle one last time, or will they be overrun like the rest of the neighborhood?

“VFW” plays out like a zombie film in more ways than one. We watch a gaggle of “types” hunker down in a building while the zombie-like addicts pound on the walls. Their hunger can’t be quenched, leaving our heroes with few options.

Swap “Hype!” out for “Brains!” and you’ve got an undead splatterfest.

The local drug kingpin (Travis Hammer) takes advantage of their appetites. The role demands an outsized persona if not some serious scenery chewing. Hammer lacks that gale force level presence.

What a shame.

RELATED: ‘Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich’ Is Crazy in the Very Best of Ways

These curmudgeons are far from saints, which makes the story richer than expected. Fred has a hot temper, and Kove’s Lou is always looking for an angle. Poor Thomas (George Wendt) just wants to belly up to the bar … and stay there. (Get it?) Walter (William Sadler) thinks everything in life can be better if they just go to the nearest strip bar. 

It’s Fred who reminds them, between endless shots of booze, of their better selves. They can’t leave this poor woman to die at the dealer’s hands, can they?

Duty calls, as odd as it may sound in a grindhouse affair like this.

“VFW” doubles down on that heroic bent without smacking us across the face with it. A flicker of righteousness lingers in these crusty coots, even if their bodies aren’t as strong as they once were.

Lang, the standout in the ensemble, isn’t content to dish out the necessary punishment. He’s building a character, by golly, and screenwriters Max Brallier and Matthew McArdle let him do just that.

Of course the mayhem gets a bit wearying after a while. There’s only so much dismemberment one can digest before our eyes glaze over. That’s where the strong performances kick in. We know the death count will keep climbing, but we hope these old timers live to see the end credits.

FAST FACT: Stephen Lang earned a Tony nomination for his work in the 1991 production of “The Speed of Darkness.”

Director Joe Begos clearly adores ’80s genre flicks, the kind we look back on fondly despite their flaws. “VFW” throbs with a retro synth soundtrack, and the film looks as scuzzy as a bootleg VHS tape.

That’s no accident.

The film reminds us of how Quentin Tarantino resurrects pop culture morsels but gives them new, vibrant life. Any “episode” of Rick Dalton’s “Bounty Law” is better than most shows from the era.

Now, Begos isn’t the Next Tarantino, but both directors share a love for genre bloodletting from a simpler era. “VFW” would stand tall next to most ’80s horror films. It fares pretty well today, too.

HiT or Miss: “VFW” is for horror purists only, but they’ll cheer on the blood, gore and three dimensional characters in harm’s way.

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Is Liberal Media Finally Fed Up with Woke Hollywood? https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/liberal-media-woke-oscars/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/liberal-media-woke-oscars/#respond Wed, 12 Feb 2020 14:07:03 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024472 oscars jane fonda liberal lectures

Quick question: name the outlet that wrote the following about Sunday’s Oscars telecast:

What I did mind was a sinking feeling that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,

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oscars jane fonda liberal lectures

Quick question: name the outlet that wrote the following about Sunday’s Oscars telecast:

What I did mind was a sinking feeling that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, for all its inclusiveness, had wound up excluding more viewers than ever. Couldn’t they have promoted that dual appearance by Steve Martin and Chris Rock? Bang that drum just a little, and another 3 million viewers might have watched. Shouldn’t they have done just a little bit more of what Renée Zellweger attempted when she said something nice about those in the Armed Forces, or Bong when he devotedly quoted Martin Scorsese?

  • National Review?
  • The Daily Wire?
  • American Greatness?

Wrong. Try the far-left Deadline.com.

Really.

The site’s columnist dragged the Oscar ceremony in ways that sounded like a right winger’s lament, dubbing the night “an evening of cultural instruction.” That’s a fancy way of saying, “woke.”

The column ends by praising the one comedian who dared target La La Land recently.

Extend a hand, and someone will take it. Deliver a muddled, dressed-up lecture (with music), and you validate what Ricky Gervais so chillingly said at the Golden Globes in January: “No one cares about movies anymore.”

Conservatives call awards shows “lectures” all the time. They’re right, of course. And it’s a critical reason why said shows are cratering in the ratings.

  • The MTV Awards
  • The Emmys
  • The Grammys

Red State USA has little interest in seeing fingers wagged in its direction. Can you blame them? It’s also likely liberals would rather be entertained than hear their politics echoed back at them by the rich and famous.

Yet show after show does that.

What’s different now is that the liberal media, meaning the mainstream media, may be on to the con. Or, more likely, they realize the folly of this brand of messaging. Even bubble-dwelling liberals see what’s wrong when the one percent gather, scarf down vegan meals to “save the planet” then exit, stage Left, on their private jets.

Hollywood hypocrisy is penetrating that bubble. Finally.

Related: National Lampoon 2.0 Is Officially Woke

Consider the UK’s Esquire Magazine. It’s hardly your go-to resource for conservative thinking.

“Eat The Rich!” – Is The Tide Really Turning On Hollywood’s Elites? – takes a similarly dour look at Oscar messaging and the film that won big Sunday – “Parasite.”

That movie examined the gulf between the haves and have nots, or the people on that Oscar stage and the home viewers.

…the joke making the rounds was that the rich elites in the room clapping, and the rich elites that voted for the winner, didn’t know the film was about them.

That lack of awareness is obvious to all. This critic wrote an essay wondering if the Oscars could honor “Parasite” without stepping into the cultural trap – a glamorous awards show praising a film mocking the system that makes their obscene wealth possible.

They did.

Esquire sure noticed.

That its message was being applauded in a room packed with the one per cent, who live in the sort of sleek glass houses that the film features, and probably went on to misplace their £150,000 goodie bag on the way home, was a little ironic.

The piece name checked Gervais, of course, as well as how Joaquin Phoenix chided his “woke” colleagues at the Golden Globes for not living up to their own rhetoric.

The story charts the changes within Hollywood, and how corporations like Amazon are now prime players in Tinsel Town. That leads to even more uncomfortable truths, which Esquire is happy to name.

…this change in the power-brokers means art is being funded by companies whose sketchy labour practices and appalling environmental records are front page news. In the face of which, speeches that call for systemic change feel a little hollow, as everyone in the room cries out “eat the rich” in an attempt to deflect from their own part in the money-grubbing.

Again, you’d imagine these sentiments coming from a conservative podcaster, not a men’s magazine.

What changed?

Hollywood hypocrisy got so big, so brazen, that you can’t help notice it. Alternative media voices, along with conservative podcasts, web sites and social media accounts, grew robust enough to pierce the mainstream.

The stars themselves, with their shocking lack of self awareness, made matters worse.

That led to a withering array of responses, including this:

Liberal media reporters are late to the party, but they’re arriving all the same.

UPDATE: The Guardian, a reliably left-of-center outpost, just weighed in with a scorching attack on woke stars Brad Pitt and Natalie Portman.

Key paragraphs:

Think about it. Surely no movie star can have so little clue about how they’re perceived outside their own bubble, or indeed about the vast moral hypocrisies of that bubble, to think that “using their moment in the spotlight” converts a single person to their cause. Surely they realise it just pushes people outside the bubble harder in the other direction. Surely, right …?

Otherwise, standing up in an outfit whose absolute entry level is $10,000 (and that’s for the men) to deliver some homily about this or that is really the height of cluelessness as to how these things work.

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Why Weinstein-Inspired ‘Assistant’ Is a Me Too Misfire https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/assistant-movie-review/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/assistant-movie-review/#respond Mon, 10 Feb 2020 22:15:36 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024464 The Assistant review

The first narrative film to capture the Weinstein era removes everything salacious about the subject.

“The Assistant” does more than that, though.

It bleaches out the characters, motivations, drama and

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The Assistant review

The first narrative film to capture the Weinstein era removes everything salacious about the subject.

“The Assistant” does more than that, though.

It bleaches out the characters, motivations, drama and tawdry details. Heck, just about everything that makes a movie worth your while gets the heave ho, too.

What’s left? A series of subtle but clever tells, and a movie that ends without leaving so much as a molecule of a mark.

“Ozark” standout Julia Garner is Jane, a low-level employee at a nameless movie studio. She fetches coffee, grabs lunch for her colleagues and scoops up any trash laying around the office.

We know this because in an 87 minute film writer/director Kitty Green spends nearly 14 minutes showing us these mundane tasks. This critic didn’t go to film school, but here’s betting you can capture Jane’s ennui in a fraction of that time.

From there we see a quasi toxic work environment in bloom. Everyone is afraid of the Boss, who never actually appears on camera. Jane’s male co-workers quietly coach her on how to apologize when she doesn’t heed the boss’ whims.

It’s the closest thing to humanity the film offers, if you don’t count some random banter between Jane and her parents. 

There’s another layer of the corporate structure meant to grab our attention. Green shrewdly ladles out the clues:

  • A nasty call from the boss’ wife
  • Colleagues afraid of their own shadows
  • A curious appearance by a fetching young woman

That minimalist approach could work, especially given the gross alternatives – the Harvey stand-in chasing starlets around a hotel room.

We’re spared those indignities, beyond a foul casting couch allusion.

Instead, “The Assistant” reduces the Weinstein saga to muffled cries of desperation, the kind offices in other lines of work might inspire, too. To paraphrase “This Is Spinal Tap,” Green’s film goes to 1. Maybe 2, to be kind. 

That leaves what, exactly? “The Assistant” is a snooze on every level, lacking the nuance a story of this style demands. The bulk of the action takes place in a drab office with no visual spark. Garner isn’t given much to do, or say. She mopes around, containing the sass from her breakout Netflix role.

If she changed her expression once over the film’s brief running time this critic missed it.

A few potent moments wriggle out of this mess. Most notably, Jane’s colleague assures her she has little to fear. She’s not the boss’ “type.”

The word hangs in the air, evoking the power office predators have over their prey.

Jane seems like a decent soul, a fine vehicle to illuminate workplace harassment. Her parents sound awfully Midwestern in the best of ways, too. So where’s her inner life? The film is in a mad dash to reach its absurdly still finale.

What’s left to say about “The Assistant?” Indie films admirably give us clues to bigger emotions, the kind mainstream movies underline and highlight. This? We’re scrambling for something to keep us engaged, to make the characters and scenes matter.

When the film ends without a morsel on our plate, it’s like a slap in the face.

HiT or Miss: “The Assistant” downplays the horrors of the Weinstein scandal so dramatically we’re left with cultural vapors… and little else.

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Hollywood’s 1 Percenters Cheer Income Inequality Drama ‘Parasite’ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/hollywoods-1-percent-income-inequality-parasite-oscars/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/hollywoods-1-percent-income-inequality-parasite-oscars/#respond Mon, 10 Feb 2020 06:23:39 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024459 2020 oscars review parasite

Brad Pitt waited 30-plus years to win his first acting Oscar.

And what did he do once he finally reached the Academy Awards podium Sunday? Pitt spat out a snarky attack

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2020 oscars review parasite

Brad Pitt waited 30-plus years to win his first acting Oscar.

And what did he do once he finally reached the Academy Awards podium Sunday? Pitt spat out a snarky attack on President Donald Trump.

The only thing that could sum up the 92nd Oscars ceremony better was a film about income inequality earning the biggest prize of all.

The evening started with an upbeat performance by Janelle Monae. The singer capped her medley with a dollop of virtue signaling, the night’s most conspicuous theme.

“I’m so proud to stand here as a black queer woman celebrating telling stories,” Monae said. “Happy Black History Month!”

The Academy Awards producers, feeling the sting of #OscarsSoWhite 2.0, flooded the theater with women and people of color. The effort was so dramatic, and obvious, that several celebrities admitted most of us didn’t even know who they were.

Chances are they were right.

The evening sailed way past the three-hour mark, again. If the producers are willing to thumb their noses at half the country, they’re equally unwilling to make the night palatable for anyone outside Tinsel Town.

The acceptance speeches ranged from sweet to agonizing. “Parasite” director Bong Joon ho praised his fellow director nominees in a way that felt sweet, organic and true.

He also vowed to drink as soon as the festivities wrapped. Oh, so relatable.

Winners Joaquin Phoenix and Renee Zellweger, in comparison, punished anyone unlucky enough to stick around to the end.

* * *

“Parasite” crushed the overall competition, earning Best International Film, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture. The movie features a bizarre battle between an impoverished family and a wealthy clan, a theme that resonated with the Hollywood elites sans irony.

In between, we got the standard hard-left politics, female empowerment platitudes and a dearth of A-list talent.

Where was Denzel … Jack … Meryl … Dustin … Sandra … Idris … Clint … Julia … Samuel … Morgan?

The night belonged to younger, more obscure stars. Many work primarily in TV but dip their toes in big screen fare. Think Ray Romano, Mindy Kaling and Maya Rudolph.

Pitt’s win opened the awards part of the ceremony. He wasted little time getting political, and nasty, tying his victory with the settled impeachment trial.

“They told me I have 45 seconds up here, which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week. I’m thinking maybe Quentin Tarantino will make a movie out it. In the end, the adults do the right thing.”

Knowing what we now know about these acceptance speeches, any chance Pitt wrote that zinger himself?

Ironically, the superstar had given a series of sweet, funny and eclectic speeches prior to Sunday’s event.

Later, Olaf the Snowman himself, Josh Gad, attacked those who don’t believe the sky is falling due to global warming.

“Frozen 2, or as climate change deniers call it, Not Frozen 2 has been dubbed in 45 languages… Canadian Elsa is basically the same but with healthcare.” Climate alarmist Greta Thunberg even got her close-up during a salute to truth in documentaries, a montage featuring … Michael Moore.

Really.

Even the commercial breaks offered little relief from the progressive messaging. This critic endured not one but two political ads from Sen. Bernie Sanders along with a New York Times piece pushing its serially flawed “1619” series.

The Oscar producers tried to shake up the deadly dull event with only modest success. They added a montage element to the major award presentations, adding even more time to the already bloated gala.

The evening situated several presenters throughout the theater, instead of the stage itself, hoping to add a sense of spontaneity.

It didn’t help.

A few bright spots emerged, almost by default. Laura Dern’s Best Supporting Actress acceptance speech featured a beautiful tribute to her parents, Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern. And Jane Fonda announced the night’s biggest winner, Best Picture, but didn’t rant about climate change (or brag about wearing the same red jacket more than once).

Still, the night proved a slog with little humor to patch over the snooze-worthy elements. Once again the banter proved either insipid, uninspired or just woke-tastic. Take this trio of talented actresses – Brie Larson, Sigourney Weaver and Gal Gadot.

They prattled on, eventually telling us that “all women are superheroes.” Even Nikki Haley?

The team behind “American Factory,” the winner for Best Documentary, highlighted their acceptance speech with a phrase familiar to Bernie Bros. (and millions who starved in the Soviet Union).

“Workers of the world unite.”

Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus scored some laughs from the podium, far better than Rudolph and Kristen Wiig’s strained gags.

The night once again went host-free, but comic superstars Chris Rock and Steven Martin appeared early on for what the New York Times accurately dubbed a Non-Monologue Monologue.

What a missed opportunity! The Oscars scored two comic legends, and viewers had no idea they’d be on hand to shower us with jokes. Were they afraid they’d fail the Cancel Culture vetting?

“I loved the first season of ‘The Irishman,” Rock cracked to nominee Martin Scorsese, one of several in-jokes that landed square on the jaw. They later poked fun at Amazon kingpin Jeff Bezos, the safest target in all of comedy land, and did their own woke virtue signaling.

“Something’s missing this year … vaginas,” Martin said, alluding to the lack of female directors, among other categories.

Et tu, Chris and Steve?

They left the Trump jokes behind and even lobbed a lukewarm gag about the disastrous Iowa Caucus app. The saddest part, though, came when they wondered why the show lacked a host in the first place.

“Twitter … everybody has an embarrassing tweet somewhere, I know I do,” Rock cracked. Instead of standing up to Cancel Culture, they accepted it as the cost of being in show biz today.

That’s just sad.

In between the snores and signaling the stars reminded us what matters in the first place, the sacrifices made along the way and the talented folks who helped them get on stage in the first place.

Toward that end, Pitt saluted the Hollywood stunt men (he plays one in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”) who make their heroism possible. 

Then, at the very end, Pitt paid tribute to his own brood.

“This is for my kids … who color everything I do. I adore you,” the actor said, Oscar finally in hand.

He just made sure to attack the president first before honoring the little tykes.

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7 Reasons ‘Birds of Prey’ Belly Flopped at the Box Office https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/reasons-birds-of-prey-flopped/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/reasons-birds-of-prey-flopped/#respond Sat, 08 Feb 2020 16:48:22 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024456 birds of prey box office flop

“Suicide Squad” remains a fascinating test case for our super-sized movie obsession – heroes in tights.

The Joker-led romp earned withering reviews and the enmity of movie fans nationwide. Yet

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birds of prey box office flop

“Suicide Squad” remains a fascinating test case for our super-sized movie obsession – heroes in tights.

The Joker-led romp earned withering reviews and the enmity of movie fans nationwide. Yet look at its box office haul – $325 domestic and $421 international.

Studios would kill to have “flops” like that.

The film’s success paints “Birds of Prey’s” calamitous weekend in an unflattering light.

Margot Robbie’s latest will earn roughly $33 million when all the receipts are tallied tomorrow.

That’s a tragic number for multiple reasons.

  • “Birds of Prey” had the weekend all to itself in an already soft marketplace
  • Superhero films, from the best to the worst, crush it at the box office
  • The early projections were in the $50 million range, and that seemed a conservative number

What went wrong? These seven reasons rush to mind.

Get Woke, Go …

The actual film isn’t the Lecture-Palooza some, including this critic, feared. Still, the framing of the film’s release couldn’t be woker. Co-star Ewan McGregor praised the film’s feminist roots, saying it’s a blow against the “patriarchy.” The film’s stars extolled how many women were working in front of and behind the camera.

Gender progress is wonderful, but we’ve seen these woke campaigns crash and burn before.

Plus, nearly every male character in the film is a heel, a cad or much worse. McGregor’s Black Mask is an overt villain, but even minor male characters, some of whom are painted as kindly at first, turn on our heroines.

Where’s the Joker?

Sure, he’s part of the supervillain patriarchy, but his ties to Harley Quinn’s “emancipation” makes his absence unforgivable. He didn’t need to steal the show, but letting him interact with Robbie’s character would have added some necessary depth.

As is, “Birds of Prey” is lighter than a feather, and modern superhero films soar higher with some storytelling gravitas.

That ‘Ghostbusters’ Campaign 2.0

“Wonder Woman” crushed the box office without the benefit of a woke cultural push. The same is true, so far, of the “Black Widow” standalone film coming in May. The box office forecasts are predictably robust for the “Avengers” spinoff project.

These films didn’t critique potential fans. They let the movies speak for themselves.

By contract, those Lady “Ghostbusters” went on the offense against potential fans four years ago. The media, in turn, served as the film’s de facto PR arm. The Washington Post directly attacked male fans who dared critique the film’s gender swap element.

It’s happening again with “Birds of Prey.” That approach suggests to ticket buyers that the movie needs a boost. It’s not solid enough to stand on its own.

An Indifferent Trailer

Say what you will about 2016’s “Suicide Squad,” the team behind the movie created killer trailers to gin up our interest. That made watching the actual film all the more dispiriting, but those teasers got us hooked.

The “Birds of Prey” trailers weren’t “Ghostbustes”-level bad. They didn’t make the case for the film like a great trailer should, either.

Male Gaze, Shmale Gaze

Journalism, Inc.’s reaction to “Birds of Prey” proved predictable. Reviews that overstated the film’s content – just take a gander at that gaudy Rotten Tomatoes score. Plus, film journalists cheered on the production’s female-heavy nature and, of course, how the movie deconstructed the “male gaze.” 

If your eyes don’t roll over that woke phrase you’re doing it wrong.

Villains? Heroes? Who Knows?

Superhero movies are … complicated in the 21st century. Movies like “Venom” and the upcoming “Morbius” blur the lines between the good and bad guys. The aforementioned “Squad” features supervillains teaming up to do the right thing.

Up is down. Right is wrong. We’re growing used to those shades of gray.

So what do we make of these “Birds?” Harley Quinn feels like a villain to the core. She’s uber-selfish, destructive and breaks any law that crosses her path. Young Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) is an unrepentant pick pocket.

Their “Prey” pals don’t fit that mold. Rosie Perez plays a cop, for example. Junee Smollett-Bell’s Black Canary is good as gold with a voice to match. That mixed messaging didn’t help at the box office.

The ‘Suicide Squad’ Hangover

Yes, some audiences enjoyed this 2016 romp despite the critical attacks. Chances are the film’s limited charms are best enjoyed on the big screen.

Bigger! Louder! Did we say, “Bigger?”

Now, with the movie living on cable and home video platforms those perks shrink in size. That leaves the underwhelming story and darkly lit set pieces to state its case.

See the problem?

That doesn’t help “Birds of Prey.” Sure, it’s not a direct sequel to “Squad,” but the film’s standout character – Harley Quinn – is the main attraction in “Prey.”

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‘Birds of Prey’ Keeps Its Feisty Feminism on a Leash https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/birds-of-prey-review/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/birds-of-prey-review/#respond Fri, 07 Feb 2020 14:22:47 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024450 birds of prey review

Let’s address the pink elephant in the room right away.

“Birds of Prey” isn’t the umpteenth woke-fest from La La Land. The superhero film doesn’t stop cold to lecture us

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birds of prey review

Let’s address the pink elephant in the room right away.

“Birds of Prey” isn’t the umpteenth woke-fest from La La Land. The superhero film doesn’t stop cold to lecture us on feminism or intersectionality.

The focus stays on its freak show heroine and her reluctant teammates, as it should.

If only “Birds of Prey” were sharper, funnier and more coherent. As is, “Prey” delivers a few jaw-dropping fights and the always beguiling Margot Robbie on full blast.

For some that may be enough. The best superhero movies suggest they’ve only scratched the DC Comics surface, though

Robbie returns as Harley Quinn, fresh from being dumped by the never-seen Joker. Jaret Leto of “Suicide Squad” fame must be fuming at the snub. The movie really needs to give us a Joker, any Joker, if only in flashback.

Nothing doing.

Harley is alone and unsure of herself, which is bad news for everyone. That trademark id can’t be contained, nor can her superfluous narration. She’s chattier than Morgan Freeman after a hit of Pineapple Express. It’s clear director Cathy Yan needed that voice to hold this Frankenstein’s monster of movie in place.

It’s a grab bag of been there, seen that, and oh, isn’t that set design pretty! Throw it on the pile! The story is purposely fractured, but there’s a kitchen sink element here that’s undeniably crude.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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#Repost @imdb | From Harley Frickin’ Quinn to Black Canary, meet the gang from #BirdsOfPrey. Get tickets now: Link in Bio.

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We’re back in generic Gotham City, where Ewan McGregor prances about as the villainous Roman Sionis. He’s a crime lord of sorts, but if he gets his hands on a powerful diamond he could have all the gangster resources at his disposal.

Huh? Don’t give it much thought. Screenwriter Christina Hodson of “Bumblebee” fame sure hasn’t.

Harley tells us how she crossed paths with Roman, why every thug in Gotham wants her dead and introduces us to the other “Birds of Prey.”

  • Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress
  • Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary
  • Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya 
  • Ella Jay Basco as Cassandra Cain

Robbie is the main attraction, though, and she’s glorious as Harley Quinn once again. Gorgeous and unhinged, Robbie’s creation remains a force of nature. She’s also impossibly grating, and that has little to do with her New Yawk accent.

Her dialogue stinks.

It’s not clever or endearing, so she comes off like a bully. Anti-heroes dazzle with great quips or nasty wordplay. Harley just shrieks, punches and narrates from start to finish.

We love a good bad guy, or gal, but you gotta earn it. Hodson’s screenplay is to blame, a limp collection of one-liners that rarely makes us smile.

 

The film – full name: “Birds of Prey, and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn” – teeters between hard R gore and camp. Some scenes exist for no reason whatsoever, as if the film needed to flirt with a two hour running time and everything had to be piled on. (Official run time: 104 minutes)

We’re treated to a brief homage to “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” … which adds nothing to anything. We also see Roman humiliate a woman in his club, a scene that similarly stalls the film. Robbie even relates her back story to a character in a way that feels like we just watched it minutes ago.

Because we did.

The film takes for-e-ver to unite this disparate group of characters. Until then, we only get flashes of wit and substance from them. Poor Perez, playing a female cop in a man’s world (mild woke alert!), gets the limpest running gag in recent film history.

Winstead is a revelation as an action heroine, but she’s no one’s idea of a funny sidekick.

RELATED: Crazy Crossovers Are the New Normal at DC Comics

Smollett-Bell has the most potential here, but the film is too busy obsessing over egg sandwiches to give her more screen time. Yes, Harley Quinn loves her some sloppy breakfast food, which isn’t as charming as the filmmakers’ thought.

That describes the movie as well.

HiT or Miss: “Birds of Prey” is neither the woke-a-thon we feared nor the next step in the evolution of comic book movies.

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Rogan: Netflix Censors Comics for Unwoke Jokes https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/rogan-netflix-censors-comics/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/rogan-netflix-censors-comics/#respond Thu, 06 Feb 2020 14:28:00 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024447 joe rogan presidential debate journalism

There’s a reason Dave Chappelle can say whatever the bleep he wants on his Netflix specials.

His first name is Dave … and his last name is Chappelle. The “Chappelle’s

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joe rogan presidential debate journalism

There’s a reason Dave Chappelle can say whatever the bleep he wants on his Netflix specials.

His first name is Dave … and his last name is Chappelle. The “Chappelle’s Show” alum stands atop the comedy world, giving him the kind of clout many comics lack in our Cancel Culture age.

Just ask Joe Rogan.

The host of “The Joe Rogan Experience” shared that perspective this week on his blockbuster show, but he wasn’t critiquing his fellow comic. He said it to explain the frustration other stand-ups feel regarding Netflix protocols.

Rogan and guest Andrew Doyle, best known for his Titania McGrath Twitter persona, spent much of the show eviscerating woke culture. Doyle shared how he once lost a job at a workshop for rising stand-up comedians. 

Why?

A fellow comic told the boss one of Doyle’s Titania Tweets upset her so much it created an “unsafe environment.”

“It wasn’t even my joke. It was a character,” he noted.

RELATED: Yes, Joe Rogan Must Battle Back Against Cancel Culture Attacks

Doyle added another story where a young female comic approaches her fellow stand-ups “every night” to tell them why they can’t tell select jokes. The Brit said he maintains the Titania character, in part, to reveal the folly of woke culture.

Rogan, in turn, shared how a fellow comedian had to snip a joke from a Netflix comedy special at the behest of the streaming giant’s brass.

“Netflix gives you a lot of leeway, but only if you’re famous,” Rogan said. “Chappelle can get away with a lot of [bleep]. Netflix has never told me what to do, but I know they do if you’re not a ‘name.'”

He shared a specific example to buttress his case.

“I’ve had friends they’ve told to cut bits out [of Netflix specials]. Like Joey Diaz had a hilarious #MeToo bit about Terry Crews. Terry Crews who’s an F-ing super athlete and some guy grabbed his [penis] and he MeToo’d this guy … Joey had this hilarious bit about it, and they wouldn’t let him do it. You’re making fun of sexual assault victims [they told him].”

Rogan said the joke did no such thing.

“It was talking about all the positive attributes of Terry Crews,” he said, but that apparently wasn’t enough. “They didn’t want the backlash. They didn’t want the bull****.”

All isn’t lost for comedians who refuse to play by the woke rules. Doyles praised The Comedy Store in L.A. for letting jokes fly in all directions.

Rogan added that some comics are bypassing mainstream outlets like Netflix and sharing their rowdier material on YouTube.

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Letterboxd Bans Black Libertarian Film Critic’s Reviews https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/society-reviews-letterboxd-bans-libertarian/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/society-reviews-letterboxd-bans-libertarian/#respond Wed, 05 Feb 2020 18:03:08 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024443 letterboxd bans black libertarian critic (2)

Big Tech’s assault on conservative views is ramping up in 2020.

We’ve already seen conservative talker Dennis Prager battle YouTube over his PragerU channel. Project Veritas’ James O’Keefe just got

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letterboxd bans black libertarian critic (2)

Big Tech’s assault on conservative views is ramping up in 2020.

We’ve already seen conservative talker Dennis Prager battle YouTube over his PragerU channel. Project Veritas’ James O’Keefe just got suspended from Twitter under murky circumstances.

Add Jacob Smith to that growing list.

The Libertarian film critic oversees Society Reviews. The web site critiques movies from an unabashedly right-of-center perspective. Smith also shares hundreds of his film reviews with the popular social media site Letterboxd.com.

Or, at least he did.

The service allows folks who may not have their own media outlet a chance to share reviews with the public.

Smith recently got booted from Letterboxd.com, which removed all of his reviews without notice. HiT reached out to Smith to find out the story behind the purge.

HiT: You’ve been posting your reviews at Letterboxd as well as your site for some time. Why?

Jacob Smith: Well, Letterboxd was initially recommended to me by fellow movie reviewers a couple of years ago. It was a place to post movie opinion and build a following, so it sounded simple enough. At the time I was looking for a way to better utilize my film reviews and build a following outside of my main site.

RELATED: How Hollywood Bias Permanently Changed This Critic’s Site

As my relationship with Letterboxd progressed, I found the site to be a useful tool to cover older films outside of the current releases as well as smaller films such as Hallmark movies and VOD releases. It was a solid, supplemental outlet for movies I wanted to express my views for but didn’t quite fit the main site.

HiT: Have you had any issues/clashes with Letterboxd before the recent dustup?

Smith: There was nothing too explosive that comes to my mind. Usually if I give a Christian movie a solid review, there would be some atheist reviewers who would object to my opinion, but outside of the occasional “ok boomer” response there were no huge dustups.

I would go even further to say that for every negative comment I got, there was also positive ones, so there was a good balance of the two.

HiT: How were you notified/alerted to your reviews going missing on the site?

Smith: I wasn’t. So last week, I was trying to log in to add some entries for the last two films I reviewed (“Gretel & Hansel” and “The Rhythm Section”). As I tried to access my account, it’s telling me my password is incorrect. I thought to myself, that was odd because I hadn’t changed it.

So then I tried to reset my password, and it’s telling me that my account no longer exists.

It was then that I found out my entire account had been deleted, nearly 500 reviews, including a few I had written exclusively for Letterboxd.

There was a follower of mine who was booted from Letterboxd a year ago under similar circumstances, and right there I knew they had banned me from the site.

HiT: Did the company explain the removal initially, or did they respond only after you inquired about the situation?

Smith: I didn’t receive a word from the company, not a warning or a notice.

I emailed their help desk and straight-up asked them what had happened. I was told, and I quote, “Your account was removed from our service because several of your reviews were in serious breach of our community policy.”

They then told me that the rule I broke “allegedly” was promoting, engaging in or inciting hate, violence, discrimination or intolerance, including based on race, age, gender, gender identity, ethnicity, religion, disability or sexual orientation.

So after being told that me, a black libertarian film critic, was guilty of promoting hate and discrimination via the platform of mainstream movie reviews, I had a good 10 to 15 minute laugh.

RELATED: How YouTube ‘Corrected’ Conservative Comic’s Global Warming Video

I asked them which reviews (since there were several according to them) violated their TOS [Terms of Service] and why wasn’t I made aware of this beforehand. They refused to answer any of my follow-up questions.

Editor’s Note: HiT reached out to Letterboxd for comment on this story. The site has yet to respond.

It wasn’t until I got a message from a follower on Letterboxd that apparently someone within the company took exception to my “Queen & Slim” review that was posted back in December where I called the Black Lives Matter themes of the film radical and exhausting, not to mention a fundamental failure of a romance movie. That likely led to my removal from Letterboxd.

HiT: Will you protest the matter? Or will this be the end of your ties to the company? Will you be sharing your reviews at other film sites?

Smith: I thought about it, but the sad reality is once you are on these people’s radar, they don’t stop coming after you.

I figured that I could use my resources and connections to make a big stink about this, and at least force Letterboxd to make a formal explanation of my removal that wasn’t written by someone with an anime avatar in their profile. Even if they reinstated me, what happens when the new Bond movie comes out later this year and I have some not so nice opinions about the screenwriter who has quickly become Hollywood’s new feminist golden goose?

We are right back to square one.

So yes, I have no plans to waste my time and effort to build a following on a site that doesn’t want me there and will just be looking for a new excuse to get rid of me. Will I be sharing my reviews elsewhere, I’m open to it, so consider me a free agent who is looking to shill for large sums of money…or a few followers, whatever comes first.

HiT: What do you think this says about Letterboxd …or the film community at large?

Smith: Well, here’s the thing, I knew that Letterboxd has an audience that leans heavier to the left, I mean the industry as a whole is heavily progressive these days, so it wasn’t really a surprise that my uber libertarian right views were going to clash with those who are upset that J Lo didn’t get an Oscar nomination.

But one thing that I have learned over the years is that there are people out there that aren’t Democratic Socialists who just want to enjoy a movie. Sadly, there are many people who cover film these days that are telling moviegoers what to support rather than give their honest opinion.

Most people just want to go to a movie for two hours and enjoy some entertainment no matter where they land politically, and if you aren’t giving people an outlet to discuss films or criticize them because you don’t like the people who are having the discussion then what service are you actually providing?

If you want to have a glorified members only book club then do that, but don’t tell people that you are a social network for sharing your taste in film and ban those who share a taste that you don’t agree with.

HiT: Will you be adapting/changing your critical approach in the future?

Smith: Well, when I first started reviewing films four years ago, my approach was vastly different from how I do it today. What happened was after Donald Trump started running for president, the political nature of the industry changed in a flash.

I didn’t start Society Reviews with the intention of being political, but as film and film opinion got so political divisive, I felt I had no choice but, to be honest, and call films out for what they were.

I’ve always looked at films with the average moviegoer in mind, even if something isn’t my cup of tea. Would the average Joe or Jane still enjoy it? But if you are going to release a film that lectures the audiences rather than entertain them, I have to call you out on it.

As we’ve seen, there aren’t many reviewers like us that do, and when we do, there is a clear resistance against it, meaning our opinions do hold a fair bit of weight otherwise, they wouldn’t be trying so hard to shut us up.

So for the question, I’ll try to watch my language but I’ll never watch my opinion.

HiT: Do you have any related thoughts on the matter?

Smith: Well, as much as I would love to go on a Jim Cornette style rant against Letterboxd and the furries that run that website, I think the biggest takeaway for readers and content creators, in general, is that if you are going to invest your hard-earned time to build and invest in any platform whether it is Youtube, Twitter, or whatever, make sure the platform is worth your time.

If the company doesn’t like your views then years of work and progress can be taken away from you in a heartbeat. For the users, if a company tells you they value your opinion, make sure they actually mean it because most people will claim to want to strengthen your opinion, when they just want you to strengthen theirs.

Photo by Showbits on Foter.com / CC BY-ND

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This Brave Comedy Clip Stares Down Cancel Culture https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/we-the-internet-tv-brave-cancel-culture/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/we-the-internet-tv-brave-cancel-culture/#respond Wed, 05 Feb 2020 02:35:54 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024439 we the internet three year old boy

The word “brave” is thrown around liberally in Hollywood.

This actor is “brave” for gaining 50 lbs. for an Oscar-bait role. That starlet’s “brave” stand on an issue her community

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we the internet three year old boy

The word “brave” is thrown around liberally in Hollywood.

This actor is “brave” for gaining 50 lbs. for an Oscar-bait role. That starlet’s “brave” stand on an issue her community embraces will win her both attention and respect.

Even the latest season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is being framed as brave for having Larry David stumble over incorrect trans language.

“We’re kind of the comedy marines — we see danger and we run right towards it!” executive producer Jeff Schaffer told The Hollywood Reporter.

The explanation for one particular exchange between David and guest star Laverne Cox shows there’s nothing “brave” about it.

“One of the things that was fun for her is that Larry is saying so many obliviously ignorant, stupid things, and she gets to react to that stuff in a fun way but still get her completely valid point across, which is: You people are acting like idiots.”

It’s no mystery why the word loses much of its power.

Not this time.

We the Internet TV’s latest video is unabashedly brave. It’s also funny, provocative and vulnerable to Cancel Culture attacks.

The group’s YouTube channel leans Libertarian, but its comedic targets cross the political spectrum. The newest clip isn’t political, per se, but it wades knee deep into the Culture Wars.

“My 3-Year-Old Son Is a Girl Now” needs no formal introduction.

The video follows a group of office workers sharing family anecdotes, from sweet to terrifying. The first Dad notes, without alarm, that his three year old boy declared himself to be a girl recently. Now, they’re hustling to get hormone blockers to help with his transition.

Get the point?

It’s crystal clear, but it doesn’t interrupt the comedy or the big picture. Should children as young as three be able to declare their gender? More importantly, are parents hurting their kids by following what could simply be a young child’s whim?

RELATED: Why Lou Perez’s ‘Hate Speech’ Tour Matters

The consequences are nothing to laugh about, but the clip’s ability to challenge progressive dogma makes it vital, even healthy. It’s the kind of comedic viewpoint you won’t find on Late Night TV, “Saturday Night Live” or your average Comedy Central show.

In fact, actor Mario Lopez questioned whether three-year-olds should have a say in their own gender last year. He ended up groveling for forgiveness in the public square.

Will We the Internet do the same? It’s unlikely.

What’s possible, though, is the clip being attacked by those who disagree with its point of view. Many YouTube creators find their work “de-monetized,” robbing them of a valuable revenue stream.

Given the ease at which social media platforms clamp down on conservative speech – Twitter just suspended Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe for suspicious reasons – the clip could vanish from YouTube entirely.

For now, it’s catching fire. The clip has nearly 200,000 views in just four days. More importantly, its existence reminds us there’s more than one side to this cultural story.

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Chuck Dixon, Sylvester Stallone Send ‘Expendables’ to Hell https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/stallone-dixon-expendables-hell/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/stallone-dixon-expendables-hell/#respond Tue, 04 Feb 2020 15:44:29 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024433 expendables hell stallone dixon

Sylvester Stallone isn’t one to quit on a movie franchise.

The icon behind both “Rocky” and “Rambo” (not to mention “Escape Plan”) knows audiences can’t get enough of his beloved

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expendables hell stallone dixon

Sylvester Stallone isn’t one to quit on a movie franchise.

The icon behind both “Rocky” and “Rambo” (not to mention “Escape Plan”) knows audiences can’t get enough of his beloved characters.

His latest franchise extension, though, may be the most creative of his career.

Stallone is teaming with comic book maestro Chuck Dixon to bring “The Expendables” back for another round of ’80s style mayhem, but with a twist.

The pair’s new project is a graphic novel based on the action movie saga. “The Expendables Go to Hell” is self explanatory. The crowdfunding campaign behind it promises the same blend of mayhem, comic relief and bravery the three feature films delivered.

HiT reached out to Dixon, the mind behind arch villain Bane and countless comic book yarns, to learn more about the latest “Expendables” story.

HiT: How did this project come to be … and were you initially sold on the concept, or did it take time to envision the possibilities?

Chuck Dixon: Sly was talking to me about his initial plans for a fourth “Expendables movie;” just kind of bouncing ideas off me and I was offering my two-cents. He said,” You know what movie I’d love to make?” I’m all ears.

“The Expendables Go to Hell,” he says.

Then gives me the high points of Barney Ross and the guys actually going to hell and fighting Satan. He confessed that he could never get that one greenlit.

I can’t remember who suggested it as a possible comic project, but Sly was all for it.

I tried setting it up at another company, but stuff happened, and the stars did not align. Then, a few months back, it struck me that Richard Meyer is the biggest “Expendables” fan I’ve ever spoken to. I emailed Sly and gave him Richard’s background and he gave me his blessing.

I called Richard and literally told him to sit down before laying it out. Needless to say, things moved fast after that and we were in production by the end of that week.

HiT: What makes this story an “Expendables” story, in your eyes?

Dixon: The characters, the humor, the particular patois these guys share. And a hopeless, suicide mission the guys will not back down from. And what more forlorn hope is there than being damned?

HiT: Talk about collaborating with Stallone. What did you take away from the experience?

Dixon: I think the best illustration of our working relationship is a production meeting we were both in on. We found ourselves, over and over again, completing one another’s sentences.

Other than being a pair of Philly guys, we just have an easy working relationship. We are totally on the same page on what makes a great action story and what twists and shadings to put on it without moving away from what makes the genre tick.

RELATED: 40 Insane ‘Rocky’ Facts

The guy likes story and, honestly, I think maybe he likes talking to me because I am not in the movie business nor do I want to be. He knows I’m not gonna be shoving my latest screenplay in his face or pitching to him every time we talk. I don’t want anything from the guy other than the talks we have that I enjoy so much.

HiT: What can you tell us about the Hell in the story… without giving away too much?

Dixon: The simplest way to put it is our slugline: Hell is War. This is a soldier’s Hell and everyone who’s ever fallen in battle is there in an eternal, endless battle. It’s basically Valhalla seen through a Judeo-Christian filter.

We’ll meet a ton of historical figures as Barney and the guys ally themselves with some of history’s greatest warriors. And not to say that it’s all just pointless fighting. There are real stakes and a couple of happy endings.

HiT: Did you re-watch the films to get into the proper head space … or is this the kind of story that goes in its own creative direction?

Dixon: I did. With special attention to the second movie. The reasons for that will be apparent in the finished story. Richard contributed a kind of recurring theme to sub-plot from events in the first sequel. That forms the heart of the story. But we’re definitely off into new country for the franchise while staying true to the characters.

HiT: Did you need permission to recreate the likeness of other “Expendables heroes” (the actors who created the roles)?

Dixon: At this time, we’re only using the characters we have clearances for. I’d love to get to all the others in future projects featuring the Expendables.

HiT: Are there any movie possibilities here? Does Stallone or his team think this could be a stand-alone project of the big screen?

Dixon: Who knows? There might be someone visionary enough (or crazy enough) to produce this.


Please visit the official “Expendables Go to Hell” Indiegogo campaign to support the project.

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McAllister: Hollywood’s Cultural Brainwashing, Explained https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/denise-mcallister-interview-what-men-want/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/denise-mcallister-interview-what-men-want/#respond Mon, 03 Feb 2020 19:46:17 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024428 denise mcallister hollywood (1)

The late, much-missed Andrew Breitbart famously said, “Walk toward the fire. Don’t worry about what they call you. All those things are said against you because they want to stop

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denise mcallister hollywood (1)

The late, much-missed Andrew Breitbart famously said, “Walk toward the fire. Don’t worry about what they call you. All those things are said against you because they want to stop you in your tracks.”

This quote exemplifies the life and career of Denise McAllister. A Christian apologist, cultural commentator, columnist and author, her latest book is titled “What Men Want to Say to Women (But Can’t)” (out Feb. 11).

I recently sat down with McAllister to talk about her book and how it relates to the Culture War.

Dave Dubrow: Why can’t men say certain things to women? What’s keeping them from saying what they want to say?

Denise McAllister: Because of the politically correct culture we live in, many people are afraid or simply can’t say—due to professional concerns (as well as relational)—what they want to say about protected topics such as those about women.

If a man is honest about how women lie about rape, for example, he’s called a misogynist. If he says women need to stop whining about equal pay for equal work when they’re not really doing equal work, then he’s labeled a sexist. If he says that women need to understand that men are visual creatures and appreciating a woman’s sex appeal and feminine beauty—even pointing it out “among the guys”—isn’t sexist, he’ll still be called a misogynist.

If you say that fathers are needed in the home, then you’re treated as if you’re somehow denigrating moms. Because of the labels attached to these comments, men are silenced and controlled by the feminist agenda.

Dubrow: In the book you focus on not just communication between the sexes, but how men and women are portrayed in popular entertainment. At one point you mention “the preponderance of female action heroes.” What’s wrong with female action heroes?

McAllister: Nothing is inherently wrong with female action heroes in fiction. The problem is that we allow fiction to be “proofs” of reality. I can’t tell you how many times when I’ve talked about women being physically weaker than men and that this is why they shouldn’t be in combat, I get the response, “But just look at Brianne of Tarth” (from “Game of Thrones”) or even the fictionalized accounts of Joan of Arc, whose combat role has been highly exaggerated.

Fiction can be a great vehicle to change how we think, and this has happened when it comes to equalizing men and women through the preponderance of female superheroes and “strong” women in film. We have been brainwashed into actually believing women can be just like men in the physical arena.

This is simply not the case, and it’s dangerous to think otherwise.

Dubrow: Let’s talk about how fathers are portrayed in pop culture today. Is it much different than decades ago?

McAllister: The portrayal of fathers as idiotic useless dolts goes back into the late ’70s and ’80s as feminism was really gaining steam in pop culture. We see it in sitcoms, films and commercials. Again, we are using fiction to change reality in culture, brainwashing Americans to think mothers are simply better in the home and that fathers are unnecessary.

Dubrow: Depictions of women in pop culture: good for relationships between the sexes, bad, or indifferent? Do people really take their cues from what they see on screen?

McAllister: Film is a very powerful medium for change. Our cognitive abilities are easily swayed by the imagination, and the visual nature of film bypasses rational thought. When we are saturated with this imagery and bombarded with it daily, then we begin to loosen our grip on rationality and reality.

When these cultivated subjective notions are then picked up in education through a liberal agenda, the fiction is legitimized by faux science and mal-education.

Dubrow: At one point in the book, you say, “A lot of #MeToo incidents arise from women playing the sex card and not liking the outcome.” Can you explain that?

McAllister: Women often, though not always, use their sexuality as a power dynamic in the professional world. When it doesn’t work, some women then turn on men, claiming victim status.

This isn’t always the case, of course. There is real sexual harassment in the workplace, but women need to own the part they play [in separate incidences]. This isn’t blaming the victim, it’s preventing victims and also holding women to account when they do lie about men and manipulate them even though the women played a very significant role in the situation.

Dubrow: A recent “Saturday Night Live” skit reduced this year’s Academy Award nominations to a single theme: White Male Rage. Is this fair? What do men have to be angry about?

McAllister: I think men have a lot to be angry about. They’re wrongly portrayed in film. They’re treated as if they’re privileged when they’re not. Their achievements are coveted by those who haven’t merited them. They are cast as villains as women play the victim.

They are treated as if their natural masculinity is toxic and they’re told to act more like women. They’re treated unfairly in family court. They lose due process in sexual assault and harassment cases. They are often put in the impossible position to prove the negative.

They are generally treated with disrespect unless they kowtow to feminism. Their rights are threatened as women seek equality of outcomes instead of being satisfied with equality before the law. So, yeah, they have a lot to be angry about.

They have been labeled and delegitimized as society says they’ve held their place in the sun for too long and now they have to prove how woke and nice they are by allowing marginalized groups to take their place whether those groups and individuals deserve it or not.

Dubrow: Because of Hollywood’s hostility to traditional gender roles, masculinity and other social issues, many conservatives are eschewing Tinseltown as a source of entertainment. Is this a reasonable reaction? Is there any hope for normal relations between men and women?

McAllister: Yes, Hollywood should be shunned, and our culture needs to repent of its celebrity worship. With people willing to stand up for truth, there is hope for relations between men and women. History has a way of cycling back to normalcy.

The sad thing is, societies often have to go through terrible trials and tribulations to wake up to reality. Historically, that has often been brutal. We can pray for revival and do what I’m trying to do to wake people up to the trajectory we’re on, but sometimes prophets aren’t heard. They’re left yelling from mountaintops, watching the devastation of rebellion below. But despite this, we can’t remain silent. We must speak even if no one hears.

Dubrow: Who are our allies in the struggle against woke feminism’s disastrous attempts at social engineering? Who else is willing to stand up for masculinity, healthy relationships, and the traditional family?

McAllister: The allies of political conservatives are traditional religious types who know the truth, though we have to be careful with those who wrongly believe that women and men are fundamentally unequal and who define sexuality according to roles rather than according to purpose.

The key is to fight for reality and truth with the goal to rebuild and heal relationships in a way that honors God, not to cause further division. Sometimes that might leave you alone in the fight.

You can find Denise McAllister’s book, “What Men Want to Say to Women (But Can’t),” at Amazon and other book sellers. It’s a thoughtful, enjoyable read for anyone interested in navigating today’s troubled cultural waters.


David Dubrow is a writer and a man who wants to say things to women. Find out all about him and his incredibly exciting, well-written books at his web site.

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Here’s Why Audiences Reject Some Female Action Heroes https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/female-action-heroes-witcher/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/female-action-heroes-witcher/#respond Mon, 03 Feb 2020 17:41:22 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024421 Here’s Why Audiences Reject Some Female Action Heroes

Andrew Klavan angered the social justice mob for stating the obvious while reviewing the Netflix series “The Witcher.”

The show, starring Henry Cavill, showcases female warriors brandishing long swords in

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Here’s Why Audiences Reject Some Female Action Heroes

Andrew Klavan angered the social justice mob for stating the obvious while reviewing the Netflix series “The Witcher.”

The show, starring Henry Cavill, showcases female warriors brandishing long swords in battle. Sure it’s fantasy, the conservative podcaster said, but woman aren’t as physically capable of handling swords in battle as men.

Netflix’s ‘The Witcher’ shows female warriors wielding long swords in battle.

The response was both swift and unrelenting from the biased press.

Forbes.com rejected Klavan’s arguments, barely containing the author’s contempt for the podcaster’s conservative views. The author even cited “Lord of the Rings” for proof that women could fight with swords.

Other sites cherry picked incidents to back up their fury, including the skeletal remains of a female viking. Others mentioned female fencers to attack Klavan, even though “swords” and “foils” are two very different weapons.

Klavan’s point was obvious, even if his initial statements didn’t leave the necessary room for exceptions. Men are stronger than women, on average, and in sword battles that fact gives them a serious advantage.

In Hollywood’s quest to fix its sizable gender imbalances, both on and off screen, we’re seeing female characters in increasingly unrealistic scenarios. We can only suspend disbelief so much, Klavan argued, even in fantasy adventures like “The Witcher.”

It turns out he struck a nerve.

The female spy thriller “The Rhythm Section” opened this weekend, earning an anemic $2.8 million along the way. The film casts model-thin actress Blake Lively as an atypical spy forced into hand-to-hand combat with much larger men.

The far-left Deadline.com notes the film’s weak performance, adding extra details courtesy of RelishMix. That company analyzes the social media messaging around pop culture titles, including film releases, and shares common themes and complaints.

…according to RelishMix, which reports, “Discussion on social for this movie is leaning negative, as the overall sentiment reflects an audience that has seen the ‘bad-ass chick’ before, and there is little to nothing new here.”

“For reasonable action/adventure fans, they are asking two things that indicate their interest in Rhythm Section is mild to nil. First, why do we need another super-spy/assassin female lead film, as movies mentioned above have done it so well – and this movie offers what exactly in freshness? Second, how and why is it reasonable in a ‘real movie’ that a 100-pound woman can toss around 250-pound villains? Much the same sentiment was voiced for last fall’s Terminator installment, and suggests that this action is acceptable in a superhero film, but not this genre.”

Action movies depend on bending reality or, in the case of the “Fast & Furious” franchise, shredding the laws of physics.

This is different, particularly with a film as grounded in reality as “The Rhythm Section.”

Now, audiences routinely lap up female-led action films, from “The Hunger Games” franchise to Ripley’s “Alien” exploits. The upcoming “Black Widow,” starring Scarlett Johansson, is one of the year’s safest box office bets.

Still, pitting lithe heroines against burly men, without the benefit of sorcery or super powers, is a bridge too far for some movie goers.

There’s nothing wrong with that, and storytellers can include female heroes in any number of ways, both fresh and exciting.

It’s clear Klavan spoke for many with his “Witcher” comments, even if the media powers that be refuse to accept that reality.

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‘Mon Mon Mon Monsters!’ – These Kids Aren’t Alright https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/mon-mon-mon-monsters-these-kids-arent-alright/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/mon-mon-mon-monsters-these-kids-arent-alright/#respond Sun, 02 Feb 2020 08:57:06 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024417 MON MON MON MONSTERS review

There’s more grisly goodness in “Mon Mon Mon Monsters!” than most horror films today.

The Taiwanese horror comedy is bold, original and bloody enough to satisfy most gore hounds. It’s

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MON MON MON MONSTERS review

There’s more grisly goodness in “Mon Mon Mon Monsters!” than most horror films today.

The Taiwanese horror comedy is bold, original and bloody enough to satisfy most gore hounds. It’s also wildly uneven with a lackluster finale that robs the enterprise of its societal sting.

With a nip and/or tuck, “Monsters!” is an instant cult classic. As it stands, the horror import (on Blu-ray Feb. 4) falls short of must-see status.

Lin Shu-wei (Deng Yu-kai) is the kind of kid who’s easy pickings for school bullies. He’s shy and slight, which puts him in the cool kids’ cross hairs. That’s especially true in this high school. Think Mob Rule on steroids, or “Lord of the Flies” with less leadership.

The students overwhelm their pretty (useless) teacher, Ms. Li (Carolyn Chen). If writer/director Giddens Ko is commenting on the state of youth today, it’s a dispiriting one, at best.

Head thug Ren-hao (Kent Tsai) unofficially runs the class. He’s charismatic and crude, a bully of the first order. So when Ren-hao and his gang, including their pet project Lin, encounter a feral beast in an old age home, they do what no one else would in that scenario.

They capture it.

“Monsters!” won’t sidle up to genre expectations. Think Lin is on a hero’s journey? Are you sure? Will the school’s teacher rally on behalf of common decency?

That giddy unbalance can’t survive the film’s running time. There’s little to justify stretching this conceit to the two-hour mark, especially given the film’s torture porn proclivities. That’s obvious long before the belabored finale.

“Mon Mon Mon Monsters!” showcases every pore of these hideous creatures right from the start. What seems like a mistake – delayed entrances remain a movie monster’s best friend – becomes part of the process.

We’re meant to connect with these creatures, even feel sorry for them. Sure, they feast on human blood and all, but the bond between them is undeniable.

Plus, any creature is preferable to Ren-hao and co.

FAST FACT: Variety says the film’s title, translated from Mandarin, reads “Report to the teacher!”

The ugliness on display in “Mon Mon Mon Monsters” is hard to digest. These teens are pure, concentrated evil. Has social media warped their souls? Societal neglect? Our digital age?

When tragedy strikes at the school the students scramble to capture it on their smart phones. Their toothy grins are scarier than any practical FX.

The film’s third act features a highly orchestrated set up that leads to a huge letdown. It’s impossible not to feel deflated. The epilogue is even worse, somber and dispiriting. The best art, from rom-coms to horror, flickers with a sense of hope, of humanity’s ability to transcend its baser instincts.

Flipping that script may seem edgy and dark, but it plays out as a narrative short cut.

None of that denies the fitful power of “Mon Mon Mon Monsters!” It’s unique and baffling, a horror movie you don’t dare turn off.

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HiT Episode No. 146: Michael Pack (‘Created Equal’) https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/michael-pack/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/michael-pack/#respond Sat, 01 Feb 2020 20:35:04 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024413 michael pack created equal interview

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has a complicated rationale for staying so silent all these years.

Justice Thomas rarely, if ever, asks questions as part of the deliberation process, either.

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michael pack created equal interview

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has a complicated rationale for staying so silent all these years.

Justice Thomas rarely, if ever, asks questions as part of the deliberation process, either. When he does,  the simple act generates headlines.

So seeing him talk, and talk, during the documentary “Created Equal” is a cultural moment in and of itself.

The film’s full title, “Clarence Thomas In His Own Words,” says even more about the project.

Director Michael Pack coaxed the reluctant justice to open up about his life, his childhood and the confirmation hearing that riveted the nation back in 1991.

What follows is a fascinating look into a significant legal mind, a chance to see the forces that shaped him over the decades. We learn about his poverty-stricken background, the grandparents who forged his work ethic and his fury over being dubbed a sexual predator at the biggest point in his career.

And, of course, we re-watch the confirmation hearings that revealed so much about culture then, and now.

Pack is an openly right-of-center storyteller whose work regularly appears on PBS. He shares the genesis of “Created Equal,” why so few documentaries share a conservative perspective and much more in the latest HiT ‘cast.

Listen to “HiT ‘cast 146: How Michael Pack Made Justice Thomas a Movie Star” on Spreaker.

“Created Equal” is playing in limited theaters nationwide. To find out if it’s showing in a town near you, please visit JusticeThomasMovie.com.

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HiT Episode No. 145: Comedian Adam Yenser (‘Ellen’) https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/adam-yenser/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/adam-yenser/#respond Sat, 01 Feb 2020 19:26:36 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024408 adam yenser interview

Ellen DeGeneres caught flak from liberals recently after she treated President George W. Bush like you should treat anyone at any time.

With grace, humor and kindness.

Adam Yenser knows

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adam yenser interview

Ellen DeGeneres caught flak from liberals recently after she treated President George W. Bush like you should treat anyone at any time.

With grace, humor and kindness.

Adam Yenser knows why his boss endured such blowback. Yenser is a right-of-center comic who doesn’t hide his political beliefs. He’s a cultural warrior by default.

Sure, he’s behind enemy lines, ideologically speaking, but he’s thriving all the same. He’s not only an Emmy Award-winning writer for “Ellen,” but a successful stand-up as well.

His comedy background includes penning yuks for The Oscars and “Saturday Night Live” and nabbing the Best New Political Comedian honors at 2015’s Politicon.

Yenser gives plenty of thought to his politically charged routines. He still doesn’t hold back when telling right-leaning jokes, even in progressive hamlets like Hollywood.

Funny is funny, and his career is proof of just that.

Yenser shares his early days in comedy, how he won over a dyed in the wool liberal and much more in the latest HiT ‘cast.

Listen to “HiT ‘cast 145: Adam Yenser Makes Liberal Crowds Laugh Harder” on Spreaker.

Please visit AdamYenser.com to find out about his latest stand-up dates and other information. You can follow him on Twitter @CleanComedian69.

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Why ‘Groundhog Day’ Endures: It’s Not What You Think https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/groundhog-day-cultural-moralism/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/groundhog-day-cultural-moralism/#respond Fri, 31 Jan 2020 20:06:36 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024402 groundhog day morality

It’s strange that Harold Ramis’s “Groundhog Day” feels more like a ritual than a movie this time of year.

The 1993 comedy has built up such a huge fan-base

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groundhog day morality

It’s strange that Harold Ramis’s “Groundhog Day” feels more like a ritual than a movie this time of year.

The 1993 comedy has built up such a huge fan-base that it now regularly gets screened in movie theaters annually come February.

It’s not hard to see why.

The film is a contemporary Hollywood classic. The cast is a veritable who’s who of great 1990s comedy mainstays. Even so, that’s not a status that similar classics of its time have attained. “Men in Black,” “The Big Lebowski,” “Austin Powers” and “Office Space” all came out around the same period and yet their revival screenings are much sparser.

When I saw one of these “Groundhog Day” screenings a few years back the theater was surprisingly full. Check your local film listings. Many independently-owned theater and some wider film chains in the United States are liable to do revival screenings come February.

I happen to live within driving distance of Woodstock, IL where the film was shot. I can tell you that the movie is a big enough deal that this small town takes enormous pride in it. It’s even been immortalized in a mural half a block from its downtown movie theater which carries a dedication to the late Ramis.

I shot a series of interviews there back in the fall of 2018 as part of a commemoration documentary of the life of Orson Welles, and all of the major locations from the film are still intact.

Walking through the town is almost a bizarre religious experience if you’ve seen the film as much as some of its fans have. Mind you, it’s not unheard of for a small town to brag about its connection to a big Hollywood production.

The nearby town of Plano hosts a yearly celebration tied to “Man of Steel,” which used the town for the film’s Smallville sequences. That was a Superman movie, though.

Even the neighboring city of Chicago rarely makes a big deal of the fact that “Blues Brothers” and “The Dark Knight” were shot downtown. The fact that a Bill Murray movie from the 1990s is being immortalized as a local achievement is fascinating.

Part of the film’s success is due, in part, to the critical reexamination the film had in the early 2000s. The film became a major talking point in philosophical and religious circles in the decades after its premiere. The religious right embraced it as that rare Hollywood film that exemplifies Christian values.

Judeo-Christian radio-host Dennis Prager calls the film his personal favorite while conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg famously published an essay on it in the February 2005 issue of National Review, entitled “A Film For All Time.”

It’s republished every year on Groundhog Day at National Review Online.

I won’t repeat the points Goldberg makes here, but needless to say the film means a lot to religiously minded people across the world. It’s not hard to see why. The movie is drowning in religious themes regarding resurrection, rebirth and moral constitution.

It’s a movie about the reinventing of a person from a smug, materialistic jerk into a person who actually appreciates life for all it’s worth.

Still, even outside of directly religious circles the film maintains a massive reputation.

There wouldn’t be as many yearly revival screenings every February if the film only appealed to conservative Christians and Jews. The film is renowned across cultures and philosophies because it captures something innately moral about the human experience in a way most mid-budget comedy films don’t.

RELATED: Why Classic Movies (Still) Rule the Big Screen

Even in that, it’s still a thoroughly modern film that understands who it’s appealing too. Compare it to something like Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The two films have a lot in common thematically and in terms of how they go about framing their character’s evolution.

The film is dark but it’s dark in a way that’s very honest to the lives of post-war America’s deep sense of horror and economic strife. It’s relatable to a person of the greatest generation to see a character go through as much strife and come out the other end of it as a joyful fulfilled person.

The film ends on an explicitly Christian and communitarian moment of unity that an American in the 1940s and 1950s would find relatedly contemporary.

Groundhog Day doesn’t have this sense of communitarian moralism. From the start, Phil Conners is a selfish jerk who doesn’t appreciate anybody around him. He hates his job, his coworkers and doesn’t want to be anywhere near a backwater hole like Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

He’s a thoroughly modern man, embodied by Murray’s iconic brand of smug disinterest. If he were born 30 years earlier maybe he would’ve been inculcated in a more morally demanding culture and he likely would’ve come out looking like George Bailey.

His journey is also much less overtly religious in nature than Bailey’s. His moral lesson isn’t something conjured by an angel to teach a valuable lesson so much as it is beaten into him by the universe himself. He doesn’t know why he keeps waking up on Groundhog Day for seemingly years at a time and neither does the audience.

It’s a metaphor for banality and the frustrating lack of answers the universe gives us while we’re screaming into the void about how boring life is.

The movie sets up a much more cynical and modern setting for such a character to go on a journey of self-discovery, but that journey ends up turning into an overtly religious one. Like the famous scene in “The Simpsons” of Sideshow Bob walking into the rakes dozens of times, Phil Conners must repeat the same day over and over again until he finally makes the right decisions.

As we find out, time only starts moving again in the final scene where he’s finally lived a full day of total unselfishness and earned the love of a woman he cares for on completely honest terms.

He learns the same lesson George Bailey does even without the help of an angel.

Life is only meaningful when you live life for the good of others. This quintessentially moralistic argument is what gives the film its appeal amongst religious fans but it captures this truth about life in a way that’s honest to everyone’s experience. As much as many people want to live lives of aloof detachment, life has to mean something.

“Groundhog Day” clearly wasn’t intended to be a deeply religious or moralistic experience given the relative aloofness of the individuals who made yet it settled into a perfect story that still drawing new fans to it every year. The fact that it’s attained this status is a glorious fluke and one to be thankful for.

Like most great art, it’s in some ways an accident greater than the artists who made it intended it to be.

If you still haven’t been blessed to see it, it’ll likely be playing repeatedly on television this week and its well worth the hour and a half it asks of you.


Tyler Hummel is a freelance film-writer whose essays have appeared at Geeks Under Grace, Rebeller, Legal Insurrection and The Daily Wire.

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‘Rhythm Section’ – You Can’t Suspend Disbelief Forever https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/rhythm-section-review/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/rhythm-section-review/#respond Fri, 31 Jan 2020 13:52:16 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024398 the rhythm section review Blake Lively (1)

Movie goers are a forgiving lot.

Not only will we believe a man can fly, we’ll buy Vin Diesel plummeting down a mountain in his “Fast & Furious” car and

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the rhythm section review Blake Lively (1)

Movie goers are a forgiving lot.

Not only will we believe a man can fly, we’ll buy Vin Diesel plummeting down a mountain in his “Fast & Furious” car and emerging without a scratch.

You just gotta get the tone right. It’s why “The Rhythm Section” hits so many false notes. Call it a symphony of unforced errors – and the worst titled movie in memory.

Blake Lively does all she can to sell its preposterous story. Director Reed Morano pretends the material is worthy of the Old Vic, not your local discount theater.

Bad move.

Lively stars as Stephanie, a woman mourning the loss of her nuclear family in a plane crash. Her life disintegrated along with the fuselage. Three years later, she’s battered, bruised and selling her body for cash.

We’re already scratching our heads. Sure, her grief must be immeasurable, but would a sharp, upper-middle class woman descend like this?

Let’s buy it and move on.

RELATED: ‘Atomic Blonde’ Schools Most Action Flicks

A freelance journalist (Raza Jaffrey) tracks down Stephanie with startling news. An Islamic terrorist took down the plane, not any mechanical flaw. (Yes, at least one film critic dubbed the plot point “Islamophobic”)

Stephanie’s grief spikes again, but she’s given a lifeline of sorts when she meets Boyd (Jude Law), a former MI-6 agent. He wants to turn her rage into a weapon, someone who can infiltrate the baddies and bring them to justice.

So he opens up an unofficial spy training camp, although he spends half the time beating Stephanie up to keep her humble (and get his kicks??)

Before long Stephanie is sporting a series of awful wigs and getting her hands dirty in the spy game. Can she mete out justice, or will her death be another family tragedy?

 

No one could salvage this loopy spy drama, produced by the James Bond team. Don’t tell that to Lively. She’s working hard to bring her character to life and give Stephanie some real-world skills. It almost works now and again, but the absurd plot details keep getting in the way.

Take Sterling K. Brown, cast as a jaded informant who swallows Stephanie’s “let’s play spies” disguise.

Really.

You have to see it all to believe it, but the bigger questions remain. Why take a silly story and drench it in anguish? No one’s having fun here, including the audience.

A slight shift in tone, turning “The Rhythm Section” into a parody of sorts, could have transformed the material. Instead, we’re left trying to track a story with more holes than a quilt in your great aunt’s attic.

It’s easy to imagine more than a few explanatory sequences got lost on the cutting room floor. Or, at least we hope that’s the case.

Mild spoiler alert: the film wraps with the suggestion we haven’t seen the last of Superspy Stephanie. C’mon, folks, it’s a little late to turn this into a comedy.

HiT or Miss: “The Rhythm Section” offers well-manicured action and a strong lead performance, but the plot details are impossible to believe from start to finish.

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Sick of Woke Shows? Binge These Korean TV Dramas Instead https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/korean-tv-shows-kingdom-stranger/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/korean-tv-shows-kingdom-stranger/#respond Thu, 30 Jan 2020 21:12:55 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024393 korean dramas kingdom netflix

To paraphrase Mark Twain, “Everybody complains about Hollywood, but nobody does anything about it.”

From the bloated franchises kept alive by Boomer and Gen-X nostalgia dollars (hello, Marvel/Star Wars) to

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korean dramas kingdom netflix

To paraphrase Mark Twain, “Everybody complains about Hollywood, but nobody does anything about it.”

From the bloated franchises kept alive by Boomer and Gen-X nostalgia dollars (hello, Marvel/Star Wars) to woke studios in service to progressive social engineering, Tinseltown, for many of us, is no longer a viable source of entertainment.

And yet we, as Americans, have more leisure time than ever before, and we like to watch things on screens.

So what do we do about it? Where do we go? Try South Korea.

A number of extraordinary films have come out of South Korea in recent decades: Kim Jee-woon’s “I Saw the Devil,” for example, or anything from Park Chan-wook (start with “Joint Security Area”). In 2019. Bong Joon-ho’s satire “Parasite” has gotten a lot of deserved attention here in the States.

These are movies, though, they end in two hours or less. You want the good stuff, something you can binge watch. Well, Netflix, for all its faults, has you covered.

Korean television series, called K-dramas, typically last for one season only. They usually run between 16 and 20 episodes, most of which are at least an hour long, so you’re getting your money’s worth.

With high production value, talented actors and skilled writers, K-drama quality equals or exceeds that of any overproduced, preachy Shondaland show on broadcast television, and without the progressive messaging.

That’s where they really shine. K-dramas focus on entertainment, not agenda, and they draw you in with likable characters and solid storytelling. It’s this emphasis on the fundamentals that sets them above the vast majority of what you’ll see elsewhere on TV.

RELATED: Woke ‘Sunnyside’ Sidelined, Stars Call Network Racist

Themes of family, personal courage and friendship are frequent story elements, with all the character development and plot twists you could ask for. If there are politics, they’re not your politics, so you can remain detached and entertained instead of irritated and turned off.

And Netflix offers a fine way to sample some excellent Korean TV. 

If you want to ease into the K-drama realm, your best bet is to start with “Kingdom.”

Yes, it’s a period piece, but it’s a terrific story of warring noble factions, high intrigue and a zombie plague that threatens to engulf the entire Korean peninsula.

Compared to other K-dramas, this one’s an outlier, with only six episodes and a promised second season, but it grips you hard from the very beginning. Even if you’re not a zombie fan, you’ll dig this show.

Fans of “Law & Order” will love “Stranger.” A complex mixture of whodunit, police procedural and legal thriller, its protagonist is an attorney who, after brain surgery, is unable to experience emotion to any significant degree.

Rather than descending into Mr. Spock territory, the main character is portrayed as a man with a handicap, and actor Cho Seung-woo plays him with admirable subtlety.

“Possessed” is arguably the best K-drama on Netflix. An urban fantasy series with themes of love, death and the supernatural, it focuses on the relationship between a damaged policeman and a young woman who can see ghosts.

Primarily, however, the show is about transformation: both the characters and the world change as the antagonist’s evil grows, and things take a very dark turn halfway through.

You like medical dramas, don’t you? “Life” fits the bill, without the constant bed-hopping and tone-deaf political shrieking. In “Life,” a university hospital’s director dies under mysterious circumstances, and a hard-charging businessman is brought in to make the hospital a profit center instead of just a medical center.

More a slice-of-life story than a tightly-plotted drama, it’s a fun show with multiple characters that you can’t help but like, even the bad guys.

For slow-burn thriller, you can’t go wrong with “Save Me,” a show about a young woman whose family is drawn into a disturbing religious cult. This one is incredibly dark and creepy, and goes places that even American dramas rarely touch. It’s a little longer than it needs to be, but it stays with you after it’s over.

A great deal of detail and plotting go into K-dramas; while multi-season American shows like “Supernatural” and “Grey’s Anatomy” generally maintain a monster/patient-of-the-week theme and bookend the season’s story arc at the beginning and end of each episode, Korean programs are much more focused. They have a lot of story to pack in, and everything serves the plot.

While this can make a show feel somewhat cramped, like the urban fantasy/comedy “Black,” it can also leave room for a full, satisfying story from beginning to end, like the sci-fi cop drama “Tunnel.”

It may be that Hollywood’s twin addictions to dead-but-still-twitching science fiction franchises and woke finger-wagging will end in our lifetime, but I’m not betting on it.

In the meantime, I’m going further afield for my screen entertainment, and there’s a lot more to offer than Hollywood out there. Pull up a chair, dig into some bibimbap, and join me.


David Dubrow is a writer with more than 20 years of professional experience in the publishing industry. His tightly plotted Armageddon series of horror-fantasy novels is the perfect binge-read for fans of “The Omen” and “The Exorcist.” Find him at his website.

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‘Created Equal’ Lets Thomas Skewer the Left, Biden and More https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/created-equal-clarence-thomas-own-words-review/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/created-equal-clarence-thomas-own-words-review/#respond Thu, 30 Jan 2020 18:03:08 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024382 created equal clarence thomas own words review

Staying silent comes with a price.

Ask President George W. Bush. The 43rd American president rarely responded to some of the worst accusations hurled at him. That “strategery” backfired, helping crush

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created equal clarence thomas own words review

Staying silent comes with a price.

Ask President George W. Bush. The 43rd American president rarely responded to some of the worst accusations hurled at him. That “strategery” backfired, helping crush his second term.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, known for his near-silence on the bench, has followed a similar path.

Until now.

“Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words” lets the private judge open up about, well, everything.

  • His childhood
  • His confirmation hearing
  • His conservative beliefs

It’s Justice Thomas narrating his life story and, more crucially, defending himself against liberal critics and the press. Then, as now, they’re often one and the same and remarkably cruel.

The first third of director Michael Pack’s “Created Equal” is both purely autobiographical and surprisingly warm. We join Justice Thomas as he navigates his childhood, a past marked by poverty, loss and separation.

The future judge was “too stubborn to cry” as a baby, he says with a cracked grin. That stubborn streak never really went away.

He grew up in “rural poverty” before transitioning to “urban squalor.” The former, he says, proved more tenable. He eventually moved in with his grandparents, which offered economic security and exposure to the ultimate tough love figure – his larger than life grandfather.

When Justice Thomas cited him in his 1991 confirmation hearings it didn’t resonate with Americans. Anyone seeing “Created Equal” will view that moment with far more clarity.

Justice Thomas is a natural storyteller, his dry, authoritative voice a winning combination. He serves up crisp details throughout, evoking a childhood not easily forgotten.

We see racism through his eyes, noting how it recedes and evolves throughout his life. That’s clear when Thomas decides to align with the Republican party, even if he once viewed such a task as “repulsive.”

Life experiences convinced him to embrace conservative principles after flirtations with both atheism and black radicalism.

The meat of the documentary, to no one’s surprise, recalls Justice Thomas’ confirmation hearings. The event reminds us of the role future Vice President Joe Biden played in the affair as well as Justice Thomas’ resolute stand.

Biden grinned and performed for the audience, a showman hoping to trip the judge up. Justice Thomas remained stoic, keeping his voice level while emotions boiled beneath the surface.

Biden tried to goad the witness into sharing any pro-life views to be used against him. Justice Thomas wouldn’t budge. Today, the justice dismisses Biden’s performance like a parent ignoring a child’s plea for more chocolate.

The confirmation appeared a certainty until law professor Anita Hill accused the judge of making  sexually charged advances during their working time together.

Thomas’ wife, Ginni Thomas, appears in the film as a secondary voice. Her comments during the confirmation replay spike when she considers those aligned against her husband. The notion that Sen. Ted Kennedy, of all people, stood in judgment galled her.

“The things he had done in his life,” she says, her voice trailing off.

RELATED: Counsel Calls HBO’s Anita Hill Film ‘Confirmation’ Deceptive

It’s impossible not to reconsider Brett Kavanaugh’s recent confirmation fight while watching “Created Equal.” Like Justice Thomas, Kavanaugh fought back against a powerful smear campaign.

Both men wouldn’t stand down.

“I’ve never run from bullies,” Justice Thomas notes. The film reminds us the American public overwhelmingly believed him over Hill at the time, paving the way for his confirmation vote.

Justice Thomas suggests how little has changed in the culture since that epic battle, especially for minorities who don’t “think” the proper way.

“If you criticize a black person who’s more liberal, you’re racist, but you can do whatever to me or now Ben Carson,” he says. Why? To them, “you’re not really black,” he notes.

Need proof? “Created Equal” supplies ghastly images, from an “In Living Color” sketch suggesting Justice Thomas was a brainless husk to overtly racist political cartoons.

Vile.

“We were told [racism] would be the bigot in the pickup truck … and I’m not saying some of that wasn’t bad … but the biggest impediment is modern day liberals,” he says. “They have the power to caricature you.”

We’re also reminded how the Left branded President Ronald Reagan a racist, not unlike the press slamming President Donald Trump in a similar fashion now.

RELATED: That Reagan Alzheimer’s Script? Completely Offensive

Yes, “Created Equal” is imbalanced, and unabashedly so. Consider it an off-shoot of the Fox News effect. That channel provides a voice for half the country, a group most media outlets ignore, denigrate or both.

“Clarence Thomas in His Own Words” offers a similar service, righting a cultural balance that worked against its subject for the past 30-plus years.

HiT or Miss: “Created Equal” is a captivating look at a first-rate constitutionalist, eager to fully defend himself, and his life, at long last.

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Why ‘The Corrupted’ Missed Its Moment (By Decades) https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/the-corrupted-review/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/the-corrupted-review/#respond Wed, 29 Jan 2020 20:21:14 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024377 corrupted review timothy spall

“The Corrupted” is the kind of crime thriller that, had it come out during the ’70s, might have become a classic like the original “Get Carter.”

But since it arrives

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corrupted review timothy spall

“The Corrupted” is the kind of crime thriller that, had it come out during the ’70s, might have become a classic like the original “Get Carter.”

But since it arrives now, after crime cinema has been defined and redefined numerous times, it may get lost in the cinematic shuffle.

That’s unfortunate because it’s a good film. Not a great one, mind you. It’s too predictable to be a first-rate thriller. Most episodes of the great BBC show “Luther” with Idris Elba are more compelling.

But if you like British-based corruption tales, this one is worth checking out. It’s competent and loaded with pathos.

The film’s narrative center isn’t immediately apparent but unfolds gradually. It’s ostensibly a true story about a real estate scheme built under cover of the 2012 London Olympics. This critic hasn’t been able to figure out where the fiction ends and facts begin.

There simply isn’t much information about these “true events” readily available. But since most films that claim to be “true stories” are often anything but, this shouldn’t be too disconcerting.

The real lead turns out to be Sam Claflin’s (“Hunger Games,” “Peaky Blinders”) Liam. The character’s father was murdered by the London mob many years ago, a death made to look like a suicide. The specter of this tragedy has haunted Liam and his brother their entire lives, causing them to be corrupted.

Claflin’s performance really is the highlight. His character arc is given the most time to unfold, and at times he is heartbreakingly powerful.

Liam has just gotten out of jail and is trying to make things right with his wife and son. The wife is touchingly played by Naomi Ackie (“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”). The pair have enough chemistry to feel real. They convincingly play out the uncomfortable dance between reunion and healthy boundaries that must take place after time spent in prison.

The viewer is rooting for them from the get go.

Their story, and Liam’s unresolved relationship to a father he wrongly believes killed himself, provide the film’s anchor. Unfortunately the film’s actual plot centers around the London criminal world run by Timothy Spall’s Mr. Cullen.

The “Sweeney Todd” star is great in the role of the cold-hearted mob boss, but it’s never clear what exactly he’s after. Nor does it seem to matter. He’s a traditional bad guy doing bad things and trying to get away with it.

His part is dramatically underwritten. Spall does a lot with very little.

Hugh Bonneville of “Downton Abbey” fame gets to do some despicable things as well. Calling his part minor is generous, but whenever he’s on screen it’s dastardly memorable.

Without revealing the twists and turns it’s enough to say the resolution is ultimately satisfying if a bit shallow. The film is too short, especially given how compelling Liam’s narrative is. But in a world where Martin Scorsese can make self-indulgent drivel like “The Irishman” that lasts for 210 unbearable minutes being too short isn’t a crime.

We could easily see “The Corrupted” becoming a tight mini series. As is, the film offers a solid crime story. Call it a diamond in the rough that could’ve been a lot more.

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Fallon Sells His Comedy Soul to Billionaire Bloomberg https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/jimmy-fallon-billionaire-bloomberg/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/jimmy-fallon-billionaire-bloomberg/#respond Wed, 29 Jan 2020 05:38:42 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024368 jimmy fallon michael bloomberg

Beware to be depressed.

Comedy fans have long accepted that late night hosts are more activist than clown. The late night landscape is an extension of the Democratic Party.

Period.

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jimmy fallon michael bloomberg

Beware to be depressed.

Comedy fans have long accepted that late night hosts are more activist than clown. The late night landscape is an extension of the Democratic Party.

Period.

The jokes flow in one direction – against the Right. Ripe comedy targets like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi skate by because the Kimmels and Colberts refuse to mock them.

Doing so would damage their political brands, and that cannot stand.

Jimmy Fallon mostly stays above the fray. Sure, “The Tonight Show” host isn’t a conservative. Nor does he routinely swat the AOCs of the world.

Still, he prefers wacky viral videos to hard-hitting political gags. He even did a sharp bit mocking Beto O’Rourke’s flailing arms while his fellow comics avoided that angle.

It’s what sets Fallon apart from his peers – a smidge of ideological balance and a heaping helping of buffoonery. It made his “Tonight Show” an occasional oasis from the usual Trump bashing.

Not Tuesday night.

Fallon invited Democratic candidate Michael Bloomberg on his show for a telephone sketch. A more accurate description?

A five minute Bloomberg for President campaign ad. 

What transpired sounds like Team Bloomberg wrote the entire sketch, down to the exhausted Trump slams. It’s embarrassing, a clumsy attempt to boost the billionaire’s poll numbers. We don’t even get a token self-referential gag at the former mayor’s expense.

You know the faux humility shtick that politicians of both sides do so regularly.

Nothing.

Instead, we’re left with a cheering “Tonight Show” crowd and a series of pro-Bloomberg talking points.

As biased as Stephen Colbert has been for the past three-plus years, this may mark a new late night low in political comedy.

See. For. Yourself.

This isn’t the first time Fallon pulled this kind of stunt for the Democrats. He “slow jammed” the news with President Barack Obama several times, including this fawning attempt to spit polish the president’s legacy.

Fallon also let Obama weaponize his own show to promote the Democrat’s immigration agenda two years earlier.

The Bloomberg “sketch” feels worse, more artificial. Has Fallon joined the Hollywood Resistance? If so, there’s little place left for Red State viewers on late night TV.

None of this would be happening had the media not turned on Fallon following his infamous 2016 interview with Donald Trump.

Fallon engaged with Trump like he would any other guest, going so far as to toussle the mogul’s hair. That sent media outlets into a frenzy. Fallon “normalized” Trump, they shrieked. Fallon eventually groveled for the media’s forgiveness.

Consider this “Tonight Show” embarrassment part of Fallon’s unofficial Apology Tour.

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‘Bombshell’s’ Theron: Fox News Does ‘Incredible Damage’ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/bombshell-charlize-theron-fox-news/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/bombshell-charlize-theron-fox-news/#respond Wed, 29 Jan 2020 01:06:53 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024364 bombshell box office

Charlize Theron has a message for her liberal friends, one that should be as obvious as saying the sky is blue.

Ready?

The “Bombshell” star insists we care about conservative women

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bombshell box office

Charlize Theron has a message for her liberal friends, one that should be as obvious as saying the sky is blue.

Ready?

The “Bombshell” star insists we care about conservative women harassed by predatory men. That obvious declaration didn’t appear out of thin air.

As HiT reported late last year, several media outlets suggested conservative women, like those portrayed in “Bombshell,” weren’t worth our sympathy.

Theron, who produced and stars in the Oscar-nominated film, shared that thought with an L.A. Times reporter this week. Theron stars as Megyn Kelly in the film, one of several Fox News employees allegedly harassed by the channel’s founder, Roger Ailes.

It’s only part of the baffling L.A. Times interview in question, which starts with a headline you’d never see about female employees harassed by the likes of Matt Lauer or Charlie Rose:

‘Bombshell’s’ Charlize Theron: Why care about the women of Fox News? To stop harassment

That’s like saying, “Why care about liberal actresses attacked by Harvey Weinstein? To stop harassment.”

It’s not the only jaw-dropping takeaway from the interview, part of the awards season push behind the Roger Ailes feature.

Journalist Akiva Gottlieb tries to goad Theron into wishing away the one news channel that represents right-leaning viewers.

“What is your relationship with Fox News? Do you think it should exist?” – Gottlieb asks.

Theron doesn’t technically take the bait, but she reveals what she thinks of half the country in the process.

Whenever there’s a story that breaks in the news, I surf. I want to see (a) if they’re even talking about it and (b) how they’re talking about it. So I would always watch Fox that way. Observing people saying things that you so don’t believe, and saying them in full conviction, is just fascinating.

Alternate headline: “Star Shocked to Learn Some People Share Different Ideological World Views”

Gottlieb isn’t satisfied, so she circles back to her original question:  “I feel like that’s a different answer than should it exist,” she asks.

Anyone wanna guess how Gottlieb would answer that question?

RELATED: What ‘Bombshell’ Stars Truly Think of Fox News

Theron, perhaps realizing she could win some Oscar voters’ hearts and minds with some Fox News bashing, lets loose with both barrels.

Well, it’s never going to go away. Do I think that they’ve done incredible damage [emphasis added] in what they spread and put out there? 100%. If somebody tells me they only get their news from Fox, I’m dumbfounded.

Here’s one follow-up query: Does Theron think the mainstream media has done “incredible damage” by inaccurately reporting Donald Trump colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 election?

What about the mountain of Fake News reporters over the past three years, all designed to diminish the Trump administration?

Those queries didn’t occur to the L.A. Times reporter, apparently. Millions of potential 2020 voters, though, may have that question top of mind come Election Day.

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14 Killer Pop Songs You’ve Never Heard Before https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/14-killer-pop-songs-squeeze-rem-del-amitri/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/14-killer-pop-songs-squeeze-rem-del-amitri/#respond Tue, 28 Jan 2020 19:51:44 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024358 14 Killer Pop Songs You’ve Never Heard Before

We all have them, those songs we love that nobody else has a clue about.

We tell our friends, and they promise they’ll give them a listen. They never do,

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14 Killer Pop Songs You’ve Never Heard Before

We all have them, those songs we love that nobody else has a clue about.

We tell our friends, and they promise they’ll give them a listen. They never do, do they?

In the old days you may have even called your local radio station to request them and gotten laughed at as the DJ spun “Sweet Home Alabama” for the eleventy-billionth time.

But still you soldier on. The years pass, the list grows, and your grudge against humanity glows hot.

You are, clearly, too smart for the room. Your ear is so refined it hears tones beyond the normal human spectrum. It’s the only explanation, because these songs are so good it’s a crime that the world (or, at least, the circle of friends you’ve been annoying since “Pass the Dutchie”) doesn’t know them.

This list is unassailable and cannot be improved in any way, though you’re certainly welcome to try. It’s limited to 14 only by my editor’s insistence I keep this piece under 25,000 words.

They are listed in no particular order as all are awesome and ranking one above another would be unseemly. Think of them in a circle. Now, prepare to have your life vastly improved 3-4 minute increments.

(You can thank me in the comments.)

“Always the Last to Know” – Del Amitri

“Kiss This Thing Goodbye” – Del Amitri

How Del Amitri never achieved massive fame in America is beyond me. Sure, “Roll to Me” was a top 40 hit (that the author may have sung several hundred times with his band), but it was far from the group’s best song.

You could argue that the ’90s were still a tough time for European bands (Del Amitri are a Scottish outfit) to break big in the colonies. That feels like a cheat. Maybe their sound was too multifaceted to pigeonhole in an era when top 40 radio still held sway?

I mean, there’s some blues in there, some majestic pop, and tricky vocals with simple but devastating harmonies. Whatever the reason, at a time when Green Day, Counting Crows and Alanis Morissette were dominating the charts, these guys got lost in the shuffle.

It’s a shame.

I’d put these two against the best Steely Dan and feel pretty okay about it. Bold words, and true.

She’s So Young- The Pursuit of Happiness

When the Sky Comes Falling Down- The Pursuit of Happiness

It’s a little easier to understand why The Pursuit of Happiness never found fame in the U.S.. First, they’re Canadian, and we’ve long had a hostile musical relationship with our neighbors to the north. (Bryan Adams? Glass Tiger? Acts of war.)

Second, the lead singer is named Moe, and the only Moe we recognize here is a Stooge or a bartender. So, nice try, Canada. But there is no denying the catchiness (Happiness?) of these two tracks.

I discovered these songs by chance. A friend borrowed my boom box, left a mixtape in it, and these were the first two songs on it.

For younger readers, “mixtapes” were cassette compilations of songs by different artists cobbled to fit a mood, usually love and heartbreak, not an attempt to break into rap.

I was immediately obsessed. Problem was, the only clue I had was “TPOH” written on the cassette liner. TPOH? What’s a TPOH? It was 1990, there was no Internet. So I scoured every record store in the Pittsburgh area (where I went to college for 15 minutes) until I found one that was able to calm my fevered rantings.

The clouds parted, angels descended, symphonies played! I bought the CD, rushed back to my dorm to listen to it and … it was just OK. The album had a couple of other decent tunes, but nothing else as fantastic as these two.

And if they sound a little Todd Rundgren-y, it’s because Rundgren produced the album. Pretty sweet, eh?

Anything Can Happen- Was (Not Was)

The producing team turned duo left a lasting imprint on the ’80s with “Walk the Dinosaur.” It’s an undeniably terrible song that somehow became a smash among the pheromone-drenched teens in parachute pants set.

The song gave us the immortal lyric, “Boom boom acka lacka lacka boom! Boom boom acka lacka boom boom!” Move over, Bob Dylan!

Maybe the band wasn’t shooting for “Tangled Up in Blue” levels of lyrical complexity. Still, it’s a terrible song. Which is what makes it so confounding that they followed it with this under-heard gem, day and night presented in musical form.

“Anything Can Happen” is what Prince (the silly lyrics) might have written after a weekend hanging out with Chicago (the impeccable song structure). It’s a little weird, and I love it. Still have the cassingle in a trunk somewhere. (For our younger readers, a “cassingle” is a “cassette” with a “single” song on it.)

That’s Just What You Are – Aimee Mann

Aimee Mann, darling of the indie music scene for going on four decades, has always crafted a good song. That started with what is probably still her biggest hit, “Voices Carry” about a verbally abusive beau from her band ‘Til Tuesday.

This song is kind of “Voices Carry II: The Adult Years,” except it’s about a million times better. From the “1… 2…” count-in to the last interweaving harmonies on the fade out, it’s a perfect song.

Not only is the tunecraft sublime, the lyrics are just great, deftly portraying the end of a long-term relationship.

In my previous column about being a singer in a cover band, I talked about my brother and I starting a band that only played cool songs. This one was at the top of that list (also sung beautifully by my then-girlfriend who is my now-wife who may have sung it a little better than Mann, but I’m biased). It’s a song I’ve loved for 20 years and now I hope you do, too.

Trivia: Mann is married to fellow indie rocker Michael Penn, brother of Sean, and singer of “No Myth,” a ’90s alternative smash.

“Here’s Where the Story Ends” – The Sundays

Straight from The Cure playbook of being imminently hummable while also making you sad for some reason, this song never ceases to move me some 30 years later. Lyrics that reveal and revel in the slow pain of growing older, ringing vocals that haunt as they work their way into your soul, and a catchy beat you can dance to!

Not much became of The Sundays after this song, the flag they planted in the heart of every MTV 120 Minutes viewer, and that’s okay. This track is more than enough.

“Up the Junction” – Squeeze
“Some Fantastic Place” – Squeeze
“Cradle to the Grave” – Squeeze

It’s my list, and if I want to include three songs from the world’s most criminally underrated band then, I’m going to do it!

These tracks encompass their tenure as the greatest band nobody knows (but that a few love passionately), and though “Up the Junction” is one of their “hits”, it’s probably been 20 years since you’ve listened to it. A perfect Squeeze song, it tells the tale of a work-a-day Joe just trying to do right by his girl before “the drinkin’ became a proper stingin’.”

(I don’t know what a “stingin’” is, I just assume it’s one of those British terms I don’t get, like “torch” or “flat” or “Brexit”.)

“Some Fantastic Place,” if you ask Squeeze, is the best Squeeze song, and it’s hard to argue. Paul Carrack (the best pop vocalist of all time?) rejoins them for this 1993 record and you can feel his presence all over the track on vocals and organ. Just… Difford, Tilbrook, Carrack… how were they never the biggest band in the world?

“Some Fantastic Place” was written as a memorial to the woman Glenn Tilbrook once dated, a woman who twisted his arm until he took that flyer from the local record shop from that band looking for a guitarist. That “band” was Chris Difford.

If this one doesn’t punch you in the gut I’m afraid you may not be human.

“Cradle to the Grave” (the theme song of a BBC sitcom of the same name) makes a nice bookend here, a late career stand out that ranks with their best tunes.

It’s got everything that makes a Squeeze song great; a tap-your-foot beat, jaunty guitar and keys, Tilbrook’s still-supple lead vocals (with Difford right underneath, as ever) and lyrics that bite as they soothe. An instant classic.

Legend has it that the lads shared a flat for three years, Difford would leave a sheet of lyrics on the kitchen table before work and Tilbrook would write a new song to them when he got home. A song a day. For three years. And they were probably all great.

“Don’t Disturb This Groove” – The System

A good faith Google search tells us… not a lot about this band. The System just kind of came and went. But before they did they dropped this beauty on us, and we never had time to thank them for it.

Clocked many a mile listening to this jam in my ‘78 Chevette, windows down, on the way to a party or ball game.

“Leave” – R.E.M.

R.E.M. are probably the greatest rock band America has ever produced, and I will go toe-to-toe with anyone who says otherwise. Not only did they produce several albums worth of stone cold classics, they were a foundational band in the American alternative movement, back when “alternative” was code for “good.”

I’d been vaguely aware of R.E.M. throughout the ’80s; who doesn’t know “It’s The End of the World As We Know It”? (Off-Topic: Sang “End of the World” in a band, pre-Internet, figured out the lyrics by listening to the tape three seconds at a time, 3,000 times, got a computer and found out I was about 30 percent right, which I feel like is pretty good.)

It was college (where else?) where I became a true fan, thanks to a dorm mate who was a dedicated DiStiple. I was working through their early catalogue when the video for “Losing My Religion” debuted and I was blown away.

I now loved these weird guys from Athens. I got the T-shirts. Bought the albums. Acquired the bootlegs. “Out of Time” made them global superstars. “Automatic for the People” might be the best album ever recorded. All was well and right.

Then… “Monster.”

I hated this album so much it made me stop buying R.E.M. records. A 3,000 percent over-correction to their mandolin era. Just terrible.

Then a funny thing happened. I sort of became the Cape May Tribute Guy, with outfits that covered The Beatles, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen and Prince. Next on my Mt. Rushmore? R.E.M.

Except I (like most of the country) hadn’t listened to any R.E.M. since “Monster.” So I did a deep dive on the stuff I’d missed since 1994 and was thunderstruck at how many great R.E.M. songs I’d missed and this made me really mad. At myself.

Among them is this one, my new favorite R.E.M. song (supplanting the brilliant “World Leader Pretend” which maybe should possibly be on this list). The acoustic, baroque opening, the electro-fied body, Michael Stipe’s cryptic vocals. Hypnotic.

It may take a few listens, but this one will grow on you. Trust me.

Sweethearts- Camper Van Beethoven
Borderline- Camper Van Beethoven

The same college roomie who got me into R.E.M. also introduced me to this band. All I really know about these guys is that the singer went on to have a few modest hits with Cracker, but this album, “Key Lime Pie,” has been in my CD rotation since 1990.

It’s full of great songs, including an exquisite cover of Status Quo’s “Pictures of Matchstick Men,” but these two are the best.

“Sweethearts” is a melancholic joy. The lyrics are R.E.M.-level nonsensical (and the Ronald Reagan reference was already dated in 1990), but it’s a flat-out perfect song that makes a strong case for adding fiddle to everything.

“Borderline” is a scorcher with a clearer political message (something-something-borders are bad… can you believe people have been bitching about the border since 1990?) and a wonderful harmonica spine.

Yes, it’s a leftist parable, but that beat! I wish all left wing entertainment was this good. Unfortunately, most of it is “Designated Survivor” Season three levels of awful.

Make Leftist Parables Great Again!


Terry O’Brien is a resident of Cape May, NJ who writes utter nonsense for Exit Zero magazine and clearly has fantastic taste in music produced between 1983-1996. His short story collection, “Murder-Oke!: And Other Spooky Cape May Tales,”  is not very good, but it is affordable.

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‘Monochrome’ Doc Gives Police Officers Their Due https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/monochrome-documentary-tracy-melchior/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/monochrome-documentary-tracy-melchior/#respond Mon, 27 Jan 2020 19:12:20 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024350 monochrome documentary police officers

The top grossing films of all time are predominantly action movies.

People love to watch good triumph over evil. Unless it’s a cop, that is.

Nearly every action film follows

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monochrome documentary police officers

The top grossing films of all time are predominantly action movies.

People love to watch good triumph over evil. Unless it’s a cop, that is.

Nearly every action film follows a formula. The story’s hero is fighting for the common good. The villain cares only about his own self interest or the destruction of others.

We root for the hero to have all the tools necessary to prevail. After all, he’s protecting those unable to protect themselves.

We learn what’s at stake if our hero is unable to stop the villain’s quest to harm others. As things escalate, there comes a point of no return, no going back.

The stakes are life and death.

Real Life Isn’t Like the Movies

Now imagine if the police interactions we watch on TV were like action films, and we saw the complete back story. Unfortunately, news and social media capture the action as if we walked in at the end of the movie, not the start.

Who are we rooting for? It looks like the cop is the aggressor. The news only shows what would be an action film’s final sequence.

I believe that has played into the public’s psyche, making us too often perceive the police as the villain.

The news routinely highlights the worthiness of the suspect in question. They research his past and share his positive traits. Perhaps he’s an honor student or good Samaritan. He was just walking down the street minding his own business, etc.

In an officer-involved shooting, reporters rarely discuss the officer’s motives or spotless work record. The public is often unaware that frequently the reason the officer engaged with this individual was because a citizen called in a complaint or politicians told them to crack down on this behavior.

Instead it’s implied the officer was acting out of some malice or prejudice.

His motive was merely to kill for no reason rather than his actions were compelled by the circumstances and what he had to lose by standing down. The public sees the the suspect as a helpless victim, even a martyr.

What about the damage he left in his path?

The lines between hero and villain can be blurred in both real life and movies. We’re inclined to take the side of the injured person and assume he was a victim. It’s human nature to feel bad for the one who was harmed the most.

That’s good. We should be empathetic. It doesn’t mean the person who lost that fight didn’t participate in the outcome.

We would never pay for a movie ticket and just watch the end of a film without the build up and the back story. So why are we willing to pay the price of a life of anger and hatred without the whole story?

This is just one of the analogies that will be discussed in the new documentary “Monochrome.”

Telling the Other Side of the Story

I’m the wife and daughter of police officers, in addition to being a Hollywood actress. I’ve been advocating for police causes since the ’90s when I served on the celebrity advisory board for the National Police Hall of Fame and Museum. I’ve also appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” with Chief Daryl Gates discussing SWAT standards.

As an actor I’ve learned there is something magical about film. It allows people to let their guard down and put themselves in someone else’s shoes.

We will not be breaking down high-profile cases or merely stating facts and statistics. It’s about the human element and the emotions which, I think, are the missing pieces to solving this challenging issue. We need to get to the heart of it. That is what this film will do — bring the police and community together to see things from each other’s perspective.

If you would like to support the film and chart its progress please follow us on Facebook. For more information and how you can make a tax free donation visit From the Heart Productions:


Actress Tracy Melchior’s Hollywood credits include “The Bold and the Beautiful,” “The Young and the Restless” and the upcoming “Bad Impulse.”

Martin Jernberg

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Why Joe Rogan Must Fight Cancel Culture Smears https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/joe-rogan-cancel-culture-smears/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/joe-rogan-cancel-culture-smears/#respond Mon, 27 Jan 2020 14:16:46 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024341 joe rogan presidential debate journalism

Cancel culture isn’t done wrecking people’s lives.

Yes, prominent names like J.K. Rowling, Dave Chappelle, Ricky Gervais and Bill Burr pummeled PC groupthink in recent months. Their body blows suggested

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joe rogan presidential debate journalism

Cancel culture isn’t done wrecking people’s lives.

Yes, prominent names like J.K. Rowling, Dave Chappelle, Ricky Gervais and Bill Burr pummeled PC groupthink in recent months. Their body blows suggested cancel culture might retreat in 2020.

Instead, it popped up from the canvas to fight again. Just ask Stephen King, the horror legend who backpedaled after suggesting talent matters most when it comes to the arts.

Now, Joe Rogan is in mid-cancellation from the usual suspects.

The podcast superstar suggested he’d vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders in the upcoming Democratic primaries.

“I think I’ll probably vote for Bernie. Him, as a human being, when I was hanging out with him, I believe in him, I like him, I like him a lot … He’s been insanely consistent his entire life. He’s basically been saying the same thing, been for the same thing his whole life. And that, in and of itself, is a very powerful structure to operate from.”

Rogan’s endorsement lit the cultural match. Sen. Sanders, eager to piggy back on Rogan’s massive fan base, threw gasoline on the flame by embracing it.

it wasn’t just the usual scolds who shrieked at the Senator’s “error.” Moveon.org, which began as a defense against a president who slept with a White House intern, lied about it under oath and more, excoriated Rogan.

It gets worse.

The increasingly partisan CNN piled on, too. This article says Rogan has “a history of making racist, homophobic and transphobic comments.”

Sounds bad, no?

Dig deeper, and you see those descriptions are either misleading or outright unfair.

Let’s take it one sentence at a time:

Rogan, a libertarian-leaning broadcaster with a public persona in the mold of Howard Stern…

He’s not remotely close to Stern in any way, save they both conduct powerful interviews. Stern’s shtick, while calmer now than in his heyday, still doesn’t match Rogan’s banter.

CNN then says Rogan uttered the “n-word” on his show. Was he using it in a racist fashion, or was he saying the slur in a descriptive manner to highlight an argument or conversation?

There’s a huge difference, and CNN doesn’t say. That’s a sizable tell that the reporter is working from Media Matters-style talking points without the necessary context. A separate article found Rogan comparing an all-black movie audience to “Planet of the Apes.” It’s an ugly comment, and Rogan admits to it during that conversation.

Do we cancel him for saying something wrong in a career where he’s uttered millions of words?

The CNN article goes on, saying Rogan used “offensive language” to question if a transgender MMA fighter should battle other women. That’s an absurdly fair and relevant question, especially given the severe injuries suffered when trans fighters are in play.

Forbes.com tried to cancel Rogan, too. The Human Rights Campaign piled on as well. Yes, that’s the same group that employs a communication expert who blamed gay Asian journalist Andy Ngo’s injuries from an Antifa assault on … Ngo.

(Charlotte Clymer wasn’t canceled, for what it’s worth).

RELATED: Anatomy of a Cancel Culture Attack: Vince Vaughn Edition

Why would the Cancel Culture come for Rogan in the first place, though?

Remember, the PC police cares about power, first and foremost. They left Clymer alone because it suited their power needs, Ngo, one of the country’s bravest journalists who debunks the far-left Antifa, does not.

Celebrities have done and said far worse things than Rogan, and they aren’t attacked or cancelled. Two names quickly jump to mind: Alec Baldwin and Ellen Barkin. These far-left actors behave badly, but they get a pass due to their politics.

Rogan isn’t overtly political, but he commits an unforgivable sin via his podcast. He talks to anyone who might be interesting.

  • Liberals like Sen. Sanders
  • Centrists such as Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
  • Conservatives such as Ben Shapiro

He’ll even chat up conspiracy theorists (Alex Jones) if only to spark debate.

The Left, which is part of the current woke mob, loathes debate. They hate people like Rogan even more, especially since he boasts a massive podcast audience. The Modern Left decides who should be given a perch, and who should be shamed. Cross them, and you’ve made a long-standing enemy.

Rogan must be taught a lesson. We’re watching that in real time.

It’s why Rogan cannot stay silent while his name, his brand, is sullied.

The worst thing he can do, of course, is apologize for his past statements. That only emboldens the woke mob. If you’re in their cross hairs they rarely, if ever, accept those apologies.

The second worst approach? Ignore it entirely.

If there’s one lesson of the Trump era for those who believe in freedom is that punching back is necessary, often essential, when someone  Consider the Covington kids lawsuit, or how future Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh battled back against the slimiest of attacks.

Both emerged victorious.

RELATED: Miller on Cancel Culture: ‘McCarthy Hearings with a Search Engine’

Rogan, like fellow podcaster Adam Carolla, steers his own pirate ship. He’s not employed by anyone save himself, and his “Joe Rogan Experience” is massively successful. In theory, he could lose some jittery sponsors from this public skirmish.

He just might, too, given the tenor of the times.

In some ways, the damage is already done. That CNN article, and others like it, will live on. Whenever someone searches “Joe Rogan” those stories can and will appear. Dennis Prager noted this toxic legacy in a column defending his own good name against Fake News.

…the original lie about me has taken on a life of its own. It was conveyed on numerous left-wing sites.

The attacks on Rogan, too, will live on. It’s up to Rogan, who has the power, the platform and the fan base, to stand up now and stop the character assassination in its tracks.

More than Rogan’s brand is at stake. He must realize that on some instinctual level.

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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Local Cover Bands https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/cover-band-lead-singer-confessions/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/cover-band-lead-singer-confessions/#respond Sun, 26 Jan 2020 17:48:36 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024337 terry obrien cover band singer

“Brown Eyed Girl.” “Margaritaville.” “Peaceful Easy Feeling.”

If those songs make you cringe, this is the article for you. If they make you think, “Man, I love those classics,” may

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terry obrien cover band singer

“Brown Eyed Girl.” “Margaritaville.” “Peaceful Easy Feeling.”

If those songs make you cringe, this is the article for you. If they make you think, “Man, I love those classics,” may I suggest scrolling over to HiT’s latest column on the lack of trans-conservative representation in “Birds of Prey.”

Consider yourself warned.

It’s Friday night. You and the gang are meeting at that place you like, the one with the really good wings (and the craft-y beer for the douche in your crew).

You exchange high five’s, head inside to your favorite booth and there they are, in the corner they’ve occupied every Friday since the late ’90s. They have names like Johnny’s Uncle Steve, The 9th Avenue Boys or Acoustic Mayhem (that’s mine).

And they’re halfway through that song you’ve loved since high school, the one you’ve heard a million times but never get tired of. It’s about the girl or the guy who fell in love with the guy or the girl and lost said girl or guy and now pines over three power chords (or several jaunty ones if the song is from the ’80s).

You give the band (1-3 pieces; some combination of vocals, guitar and light percussion) a thumbs-up. They smile, return your thumb and move to the next song, the other one you’ve heard a million times, and the cycle continues.

What you probably don’t know is that every time Uncle Johnny’s 9th Avenue Mayhem plays that song, they die inside, just a little, not so’s you’d notice, just one more of the 10,000 cuts.

Because if you’ve heard it a million times, the band has played it three million. And they hate you for it.

Hello. My name is Terry. And I’m a singer in a cover band.

Phase 1: Beginnings

One simply isn’t born the finest cover vocalist in southern New Jersey (the world?). It was a slow progression. A metamorphosis, if you will.

Every singer goes through the phases, in much the same way other things go through phases. Like the moon, for an example, and caterpillars! They have phases, too. And like these Moon Caterpillars, the first phase in becoming south Jersey’s finest cover vocalist comes at the larval stage.

For me, it was somewhere around 1975, the baby of six, during the Jurassic Age before the Internet or MTV. My father and brothers kept the house full of music (my useless sister listened exclusively to “Grease” and Shaun Cassidy records).

For Dad it was “West Side Story,” Neil Diamond’s “Hot August Nights,” which I can still hear scratching through the living room, and a collection of TV and movie theme songs by the Nelson Riddle Orchestra on gold-colored vinyl.

As a superhero obsessed 5-year-old I played the “Batman Theme” so often that Adam West’s ears must have burned all that summer. From my brothers it was a steady diet of Beatles and Beach Boys, from whence I honed my ability to pluck a harmony out of thin air, and “Jesus Christ Superstar,” which first terrified me (think of being 5 and hearing that portentous, dissonant overture) then thrilled me, while also teaching me how to use my vibrato.

(FYI; Murray Head’s “Heaven on Their Minds” is one of the greatest vocal recordings ever captured. You could argue, but you’d be wrong.)

Phase 2: Honing

Mine was a musical family, and every Christmas or Easter when the guitars came out, I was assigned the Brian Wilson parts because Wilson is easy to sing when you’re 10.

What you don’t realize at 10 is that every time you sing you’re developing your own musical core; Superstar, Beatles and Beach Boys is a fine core. To me, it was natural to try and emulate these distinct voices.

While no Rich Little (boy, I’m really dating myself here…) I became something of a gifted mimic, able to reasonably approximate Jesus, Judas, all four Beatles, a few Beach Boys and all the Monty Pythons. (My God the ’70s were great. And RIP Terry Jones, your effect on my childhood is felt in the annoyance of many to this day.)

In teenhood, my ear developed its own taste (sorry if that reads sci-fi). My ’60s-’70s foundation would remain the same (and, more importantly, most importantly, in fact, helped me avoid the road to Hell that is paved with Classic Rock).

I found myself intrigued by new voices; Steely Dan, Prince, Elvis Costello, Squeeze, The Cure, REM and all that great first wave of American alternative.

(Find a finer song than Aimee Mann’s “That’s Just What You Are” if you can, but you can’t. Bonus Cool Points: Squeeze’s Difford & Tilbrook sing the harmonies.)

I’ve often pondered what constitutes the molten core of my musical soul; turns out I’m just a sucker for a great 3-minute pop song, be it Beatles, Prince or Miley Cyrus.

Phase 3: Aha!

Not every artist remembers precisely when they discovered their muse. For me, it was a fateful day in the spring of 1985, freshman year of high school.

My friend Chris gave a history report on the first American soldier to die in Vietnam. As a coda, he played Billy Joel’s “Goodnight, Saigon” and I was transfixed. I’d been aware of Joel’s music most of my life as his early hits dominated the airwaves. I think I even had a T-shirt. But I was never what you would call a fan.

Until “Goodnight, Saigon.”

Weekdays after school I worked in my mom’s newspaper store (lunch counter, lottery, dirty magazines), which sat two doors down from the record store. At the staggering sum of $3.35/hr. (and using whatever I didn’t plink into the Gyrus machine) I began to accrue Joel’s back catalog.

I started with the unfortunate “Cold Spring Harbor,” which I later learned was famous in musical circles for being remixed at 33 ⅔ RPMs, not the standard 33⅓, rendering Joel’s youthful vibrato into something that would not have been out of place on a Chipmunk’s album.

Every night I lay in bed, envisioning myself as the man behind the piano on “Travelin’ Prayer,” “Billy The Kid” and “Pressure.” That fantasy grew more intense with “Song in the Attic,” Joel’s live apology for “Cold Spring Harbor.”

I could practically smell the roaring crowd.

This was before I learned that just about the only thing live on a “live” album was the crowd noise. But a kid doesn’t care.

You’d think a newly obsessive Joel fan would have taken piano lessons. I did not. You’d think that an aspiring vocalist weaned on interweaving harmonies would emulate a more accomplished singer. I did not.

I thought Joel was great. Not Freddie Mercury, but who else was Freddie Mercury? Maybe if Chris had played a Queen song that day I would have latched on to them, though, to my recollection, Queen wrote no Vietnam songs.

Joel was my guy, for better or worse, and I misspent the next 10 years of my youth as his staunchest defender: Yes, “Piano Man” is schmaltzy. Sure, “An Innocent Man” is derivative. But have you ever heard “Sleeping with the Television On?” “Get It Right the First Time?” There’s gold in them thar hills!

I referred to Joel as “the American Paul McCartney,” another artist derided for not being serious enough or, worse, being fake serious, but whose music also defies pigeon-holing. Joel and McCartney’s music are, to turn an overused phrase, timeless.

By the time “Storm Front” was released in 1990, I knew every word to every Joel song and could recite them on command, even “We didn’t Start the Fire.” I had also learned to emulate his vocal mannerisms. Again, maybe not the best singer to base your sound on, but by this time the die had been cast.

I was the Billy Joel guy. Now and forever. To the annoyance of many.

My vocal tool belt now bulged with reasonable facsimiles of not only Joel, Beatles and Beach Boys, but Donald Fagen, Michael Stipe, Robert Smith, Prince and a dozen others. It was then I knew…

Phase 4: I’m Gonna Be a Singer!

What does all of this have to do with your local cover band, you might ask. I’m getting there.

I got into college on the back of strong SAT scores despite a ghastly high school GPA. Two things of note happened during my (very brief) college career; I pledged Delta Chi, thus ensuring my college stay would be very brief, and I met BQ.

BQ (Brendan Quinn) and I went to rival high schools in the Philly suburbs, but did not meet until college in the Pittsburgh suburbs. We became fast friends (still are). but BQ’s best friend was Bob Troutman, and Bob Troutman played guitar, and I, after one college poetry class, was America’s greatest living lyricist.

So we formed a band and began drinking, smoking, shrooming, writing, playing, recording and… it was really pretty good.

We eventually knocked off (most of) the drinking, smoking, etc.and focused on the songwriting, which began to find itself, my pop ear candy meshing with alternative cellar dwelling.

An uneasy alliance. Think Glenn Tilbrook singing REM, or Billy Joel singing Smiths. It was odd, it was tense, and it worked.

The band (DPR for Dread Pirate Roberts) played parties for beer and weed. Sometimes we’d even make $50 if we remembered our tip jar. We were good and getting better. We added a second guitar, Bob got exploratory on his Rickenbacker 12-string and mandolin, Ginny Bivens came on as co-lead vocalist.

In the era of B-52s, 10,000 Maniacs and Indigo Girls, my songwriting grew exponentially better as I now wrote from two points of view, crafting two melody lines for each song as opposed to standard melody-harmony.

Bob would sometimes chime in as a 3rd perspective. Then he would chime in more often. Then he asked me to write melodies for him and Ginny. Then he and Ginny fell in love and that was that. DPR died, Yoko’ed before our time.

I’d be super mad about it, too, if Bob and Ginny weren’t still together some 30 years later. Who could be mad at that?

Phase 5: I Guess I’ll Do Something Else

I flunked out of college and fried out of a couple of dead end jobs, drifting. However, I’d been “the theater guy” in high school, there were a couple of theaters in the area, so why not audition? What’s the worst that could happen?

Now, my theater tale is one of wonder and woe, and infinitely more interesting than my life as a singer and perhaps we’ll share it one day, but for now it serves the purpose of delivering me from Pike Creek, DE to Cape May, NJ, where my life truly began (and continues).

May 22nd, 1993, I walked off stage after an 11-week run of “West Side Story” at Three Little Bakers. May 23rd, 1993, I moved into my crappy little apartment in Cape May and began my career at the local dinner theater.

That night, we were shown around the town by the director and ventured into The Ugly Mug, a famous local bar, where a band was playing. Southwind, they were called. Two guys on bass and guitar, a woman on acoustic and lead vocals, an Ensoniq keyboard playing drum sequences and man were they good.

It happened to be Sing Along With the Band Night, a sort-of proto-karaoke, so I checked their list and was delighted to find “Tempted” by Squeeze. Despite blowing a lyric in the second verse, I did okay and won 3rd prize. I also discovered singing in front of a large audience and was hooked.

The Ugly Mug became my second home. (I’ll leave out the part about how destructive this was to my relationships and how it fed a burgeoning alcohol problem because that’s too depressing.) One song a night became two, two became three, three became six and two years later I got the call.

“Rose is leaving, would you like to be our new lead singer?”

Phase 6: Opportunity Knocks

Yes.

Despite sitting in with the band on probably 20 songs a week, the thought being a singer in a band, their band, never really occurred to me. But here I was. I had also, by virtue of attrition, risen to the rank of Director at the dinner theater.

This meant page-to-stage mounting of six new shows a year, along with memorizing (no cheat sheets, no iPads) three songs a week for Southwind. I was probably certifiably mentally ill for most of this time (five years) but it was worth it. I was a rock star!

This was my time! My chance to mold Southwind, a band in its second decade, in my image! Out would go all the stodgy top 40 standards, in would go all the cool shit, the Deep Cuts, the stuff they only played on WXPN!

Except… that never really happened.

The first song I sang at my first official gig was “Interstate Love Song” by Stone Temple Pilots. A fine song, but about as edgy as we would get in 1995.

At about 10 years younger than the rest of the guys, I was able to persuade them to learn some Alternative Classics (Violent Femmes, Smithereens), otherwise we remained on the middlest of roads.

“Guys,” I would complain. “Why do we play the same songs over and over?”

Their answer? “Because that’s what people want to hear.”

I didn’t believe it. I’m a people and I didn’t want to hear seven Jimmy Buffet songs a night. I was assured I was just being young and impetuous. Which I was, but I didn’t want anybody telling me that! And it didn’t change the fact that our play list was boring as hell.

Fortunately, the summer of ’95 brought a change of venue, a new bar with young owners who insisted we modernize our playlist. And while we never delved too deeply into the alternative vault, 1995 brought great music from new bands like Counting Crows, Green Day and Blues Traveller (we played “Runaround”, minimum, 4 times a night).

Running between the theater and the band I dropped about 20 lbs. so I was looking pretty good, still had most of a head of hair and wasn’t afraid to be a little coy with my sexuality, lacing up tight black pirate pants from International Male and donning a do-rag and tight t-shirts with the sleeves cut off.

Women dug me (though myth of singers getting all the chicks was a tad overstated. A tad), men seemed to like me okay (I was not as intimidating a sexual competitor as, say, Jon Bon Jovi or David Lee Roth) and we all had great fun playing music that was new and interesting.

It was, in short, the best summer of my life. Maybe of anyone’s life. Lead actor and director of a successful dinner theater, lead singer of a very successful rock band. It could not get any better.

And it didn’t.

Phase 7: The 7th Phase

That new bar only lasted one season (in beach towns you count not in years, but seasons). Our next venue was fine, but did not challenge us. And when the drummer and keyboard player up and left our playlist shrank to about 60 songs.

My song suggestions were largely ignored and we fell back into a relentless cycle of Buffett and Van Morrison. I began working with one eye on the clock.

Though I knew it was over, I stayed for three more years anyway. The final straw? Instead of replacing the departed players, we were all going to learn some guitar and keyboard. This was fine for the other members, who grew up playing guitar and keyboard. It was something else entirely for me, learning two instruments from scratch.

When I inquired how much more money I’d be making for this tripling of my workload, the answer was, “None.”

Buh-bye.

I was 29. Ancient. Soon after, I also left the theater (though I returned twice because I’m a glutton for punishment). Did I use this opportunity for self-improvement? Go back to school, get a worthwhile degree?

I did not.

Instead, I started a new band with my brother Mike. And we swore The O’Brien Bros. Band would never play a song that didn’t interest us. Let the chips fall where they may. We were going to play only music we loved.

If the audience liked us, the gigs would come. If not, at least we kept our integrity (or as much integrity as a cover band can have). We played “Solsbury Hill” before it became ubiquitous, “7” by Prince, “TIl It Shines” by Bob Seger, “Begin the Begin” by R.E.M., “Kid Charlemagne” by Steely Dan, “Man of Constant Sorrow” from O Brother Where Art Thou and on and on.

Our goal; for at least one person a night to think to themselves, “Man, I love this song… nobody ever plays it!”

We weren’t sure what the reaction would be to a live band playing what amounted to a bunch of B-sides and obscurities, but people loved us. Why? Because weren’t playing “Margaritaville,” “Brown Eyed Girl” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling.”

We even worked in one of Mike’s original songs, “Calling Down the Lightning.” After a few plays people began singing along with us, which must have been really cool for my brother.

The O’Brien Bros. Band lasted three years and is, to this day, the most fun I’ve had as a singer.
As important, I had proven my point; your average bar full of summer beach vacationers do not have to be pandered to. You can challenge them a little. They won’t be mad.

They may even thank you for it.

Phase 8: I Just Want to Work.

What does all of this have to do with appreciating your local cover band?

Not a whole lot, I suppose. Maybe it’s just an understanding none of us start out with the ambition to play the same 40 songs every night. It happens in a slow drip over a lot of years, like the Grand Canyon but less grand.

Twenty six years into my career as a professional singer I’ve learned a few things.

Mainly, that Tim (my former Southwind bandmate and current acoustic partner) was right all those years ago; we play the same songs because they’re the ones that people want to hear. And if you’re not one of those people, instead of booing or heckling, maybe buy them a beer or toss a buck in the tip jar.

Though we may never understand what can be gleaned by a billionth request for “Don’t Stop Believin,’” others don’t understand my Scientologist-like proselytizing of Squeeze.

In short, I suppose there’s a certain comfort to be had in knowing that you can walk into any bar in America on a Friday night and know that all 50,000 (give or take) working bands can play “Brown Eyed Girl” for you. Even if they hate you for it.

You get 50 songs a night. We all play the same 30. It’s what you do with the other 20 that set you apart.

Now, let me tell you about my 16 years as a karaoke host…


Terry O’Brien, a resident of Cape May, NJ, has fronted, Southwind, The O’Brien Bros. Band, Love Me Dudes (a Beatles tribute), The Strangers (a Billy Joel tribute) The Terry O’Brien Band (Beatles, Billy, Bruce and Prince), and Acoustic Mayhem. He’s currently the singing half of O’Brien & Joyce.

His column, The Undertow, has appeared in Exit Zero magazine since 2003. He’s managed a haunted house (Ghost Ship, 2009-2014) and been a karaoke host (Terry O’ke, 2005-2019). His book, “Murder-Oke & Other Spooky Cape May Tales,” has sold 3,000 copies over 12 years and is available somewhere on the Internet for $.02.

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Critics Go Ga Ga Over Taylor Swift’s ‘Miss Americana’ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/miss-americana-critics-taylor-swift/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/miss-americana-critics-taylor-swift/#respond Sat, 25 Jan 2020 01:21:36 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024332 taylor swift calm down video

The circle is complete.

For years media outlets begged, pleaded and eventually shamed Taylor Swift into becoming yet another far-left celebrity. And, as we all now know, it worked precisely as

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taylor swift calm down video

The circle is complete.

For years media outlets begged, pleaded and eventually shamed Taylor Swift into becoming yet another far-left celebrity. And, as we all now know, it worked precisely as the biased media wanted.

“Miss Americana,” the film documenting that script, is getting the kind of laudatory reviews you’d expect from outlets who demanded Swift fall in line.

Now, critics can cheer or jeer any film they wish. Art is subjective, of course. It’s the tone of the reviews, fresh from the film’s Sundance debut, that tells the big picture.

“Miss Americana” (on Netflix Jan. 31) charts the singer’s personal journeys of late, from battling an eating disorder to dropping her apolitical pose.

The Hollywood Report’s mash note, er review, ends with this bit of Tay Tay worship.

Near the end of the film, Swift says she wants to be able to still wear pink and talk about politics seriously, and the film sees her finding her way toward creating an aesthetic that marries elements cohesively. If she gets bored with being America’s pop princess in the next few years, perhaps she could consider using her ample gifts for messaging and grassroots coalition-building in the political realm outright. After all, by 2024 she’ll be 35 and eligible to run for president. It’s about time we had a cat lover in the White House.

Now, if Swift “found her voice” and started defending the lives of unborn children on and off stage, would the review read the same way?

Of course not.

RELATED: Taylor Swift Epitomizes the Worst of Woke Celebrity Culture

The liberal Entertainment Weekly genuflects to Swift, in part, because of how she makes her Mexican dishes oh, so special.

The takeaway, whether Swift is talking about the Tennessee Senate race or why she puts chips in her burritos (“for crunch”), isn’t just that she’s articulate and impassioned and has a dry, sneaky wit; it’s that you wish you’d seen more of this Taylor a long time ago. But that’s the point of the whole movie, maybe: She was always there; it just took her 30 years to get to here.

It might as well read, “Glad you responded to all our bullying. Now, here’s a glowing review.”

The Guardian strikes a rare sour note on “Miss Americana,” saying the film feels stage-managed to a fault.

It’s brand management dressed up as insight and while it’s not not entertaining, it’s certainly far from particularly revealing, playing more like a PR exercise than a festival-worthy feature….It’s a celebrity profile that’s been sent to the celebrity for approval first.

The review notes Swift’s political awakening isn’t given context, either. Still, the majority of early reviews are positive, even glowing.

The Decider brands Swift’s anti-Trump sentiment as somehow new, brave and revolutionary. Really.

No, this is a Taylor Swift who’s willing to tell the American government where to shove it, and that’s very new indeed.

Yes, we haven’t seen celebrities do the very same thing (and call the Commander in Chief ‘Hitler’) for the past three-odd years. The critic then wonders what took Tay Tay so long to agree with Liberal America?

How could an educated, privileged woman living in America in the 21st century be this slow on the uptake? It’s a fair point. But I’d argue many men before have had their awakening much later in life, and were applauded for doing so. One hopes it’s never too late to come to the light side.

Light versus dark. It’s as if only one side of the ideological divide is worth considering, and thank heavens Swift chose wisely.

Taylor Swift’s personal documentary ‘Miss Americana’ debuts Jan. 31 on Netflix and select theaters.

Now, if you’re waiting for Swift to expound on her views with a fair, engaged conservative (think Dave Rubin or Ben Shapiro) you may wait for a very long time.

For now, she’ll spout liberal platitudes, avoid debate and drink in media adulation thanks to “Miss Americana.”

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‘The Gentlemen’ – Ritchie Delivers a Bleepin’ Good Time https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/the-gentlemen-review/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/the-gentlemen-review/#respond Fri, 24 Jan 2020 14:26:54 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024319 the-gentlemen-review hugh grant

Guy Ritchie proves you can go home again.

The British director left his gangster days behind for studio fare like “Aladdin,” “Sherlock Holmes” and “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”

He’s gone

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the-gentlemen-review hugh grant

Guy Ritchie proves you can go home again.

The British director left his gangster days behind for studio fare like “Aladdin,” “Sherlock Holmes” and “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”

He’s gone all the way back to his roots courtesy of “The Gentlemen.” The film delivers more gangster grit with the star wattage and vulgarity we expect from him. And if a certain “c-word” cramps your style, stay far, far away.

“The Gentlemen” is too glib, too obsessed with its own style, to break bread with the best gangster films. You’ll be too busy laughing, and squirming, to care.

Matthew McConaughey plays Mickey Pearson, an American drug lord in England itching to cash out. It’s not so easy when your business is miles off the books. He’s not showered with gold watches and cards from his co-workers.

Instead, he attracts some unsavory souls exploiting his exit strategy.

Take Fletcher, a wannabe screenwriter played by Hugh Grant. He’s got a scheme that serves as the film’s framing device. He pitches his plan to Ray (Charlie Hunnam), Mickey’s confidante and someone you don’t want to cross.

It’s a labyrinth of double crosses, feints and murder, all under Ritchie’s watchful gaze. And he’s gathered a killer cast to bring it all together. Rising star Henry Golding plays Dry Eye, an Asian gangster whose ambitions may get the best of him.

Eddie Marsan deserves more screen time as a smug journalist who, well, isn’t that description enough in 2020?

And then there’s Coach (Colin Farrell), a local gent whose “students” accidentally thrust him into Mickey’s world.

On and on it goes, with “Downton Abbey’s” Michelle Dockery playing Mickey’s brassy squeeze for good measure.

 

It’s all giddy fun, even if the twists pile up in absurd fashion by the third act. 

McConaughey is impossibly cool, a noble savage who knows how to get things done. There’s no inner soul to explore in the performance, no clue why a man of his talents entered this dangerous game. That applies to the rest of “The Gentlemen.” It’s all surface level thrills, packaged with as much colorful language as Ritchie can muster.

But oh, what a surface! And can we talk about Farrell’s latest great performance?

 

 
 
 
 
 
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It’s a riotous rollercoaster ride – are you on board? #TheGentlemen roars into theaters this Friday – get your tickets today. Link in bio.

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Once again he’s a scene stealer, a man mixed up in a situation leagues out of his control. He’s an absolute hoot, exuding both menace and befuddlement in sly doses. When will the Coen brothers, or a similarly gifted auteur, give him an all-out comedy to call his own?

It needs to be said that “The Gentlemen” is a morally twisted affair. We’re left eager to emulate Mickey’s gang, given their sartorial choices and cool demeanor. It’s not as gross as “Hustlers'” brand of wish fulfillment criminality, but it’s in the ballpark.

Audiences crave gangster stories for that very reason. They let us live out our darkest fantasies, hoping the hoods in question escape Johnny Law.

Ritchie’s “The Gentlemen” makes it easier than ever to fall into that cinematic trap

HiT or Miss: “The Gentlemen” proves style may make the man, but it also papers over most serious film flaws.

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Stewart Joins Hollywood’s Open Borders Propaganda Push https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/jon-stewart-open-borders-propaganda/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/jon-stewart-open-borders-propaganda/#respond Thu, 23 Jan 2020 17:04:55 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024315 jon stewart open borders

Jon Stewart couldn’t stay on the sidelines any longer.

The man who helped redefine late night comedy as a liberal paradise returns this Spring with a new project.

He won’t

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jon stewart open borders

Jon Stewart couldn’t stay on the sidelines any longer.

The man who helped redefine late night comedy as a liberal paradise returns this Spring with a new project.

He won’t be bringing his faux news anchor back from retirement. Instead, he’s writing and directing a film that will sound familiar to anyone following pop culture of late.

“Irresistible,” out May 29, sounds like a natural extension of his progressive brand. Here’s the official description from the film’s studio, Focus Features.

Irresistible is a comedy about what happens when a small Wisconsin town becomes the main attraction of our political circus. After the Democrat’s top strategist Gary (Steve Carell) sees a video of a retired Marine Colonel (Chris Cooper) standing up for the rights of his town’s undocumented workers, Gary believes he has found the key to winning back the Heartland. However, when the Republicans counter him by sending in his brilliant nemesis Faith (Rose Byrne), what started out as a local race quickly becomes an out-of-control and hilarious fight for the soul of America.

That description gives away plenty, from the simplistic view of Heartland USA to the use of the term “undocumented” to describe illegal immigrants. Any chance “Irresistible” gives border enforcement voices a fair shake?

Let’s hope so … but we shouldn’t bet on it.

UPDATE: The film’s just-released trailer completely avoids the studio’s official description. Perhaps the marketers know many Americans actually support a border wall, or at the very least abhor open border policies?

The finished film may be even more overt in its open borders messaging, but it’s hardly alone. Consider the following projects released over the past few months promoting unfettered immigration.

It’s no accident.

Hollywood craves open borders as much as Democrats running for the White House do. Those parties routinely ignore how often illegal immigrants hurt and kill innocent Americans.

“Party of Five”

This Freeform reboot is political to the core. The newly imagined Fox hit follows a family of illegal immigrants separated from their parents. The show doesn’t name check President Trump. It doesn’t have to do any such thing. 

The message is obvious. Just consider the Trump Derangement on display with the show’s writing team.

“Living Undocumented”

Selena Gomez is a key force behind this Netflix docuseries dramatizing the plight of illegal Mexican immigrants trying to make a home in America.

Gomez explained her participation in the project.

“My hope is that the series can shed light on what it’s like to live in this country as an undocumented immigrant firsthand, from the courageous people who have chosen to share their stories.”

“Little America”

Apple’s new anthology series is from far-left comedian Kumail Nanjiani. “The Big Sick” star swears the project doesn’t overtly promote open borders. It simply shows immigrants in a deeply empathetic light.

That’s political in and of itself in the Age of Trump, a time when the president’s detractors blur the lines between legal and illegal on purpose. Case in point: This assessment in The Hollywood Reporter:

[The show] takes place in the current climate when immigration is under frequent attack.”

Nanjiani continues in that vein, admitting the show is political while denying it in the same breath.

“Just by saying that immigrants are human beings with hopes, desires, likes, dislikes in this climate is a radical statement rather than just a self-evident statement of fact — obviously that part is unavoidable,” Nanjiani said. “We decided that if we’re telling a story about immigrants and we make it overtly political, you’re taking the focus away from whoever’s story you’re telling; The putting the focus on America, the political system and immigration and we didn’t want that, we wanted it to be on these people and on these stories.”

“The New Colossus”

Progressive actor/director Tim Robbins returns with a new immigration-themed play that he swears isn’t political.

“No, I view it as a celebration of what makes us what we are in this country,” Robbins says of the show, an ensemble piece featuring 12 diverse members of The Actors’ Gang Theater sharing deeply personal immigration stories that honor each of their real-life ancestors. “I view it as a human statement. A reminder that these are human beings. A reminder that the people that might not look like us now — that are seeking asylum here — are not coming to destroy us. They’re coming to add to our community.”

Even the press isn’t buying his spin.

The show conveys the idea of America as a refuge for all. The need — and sometimes terror and desperation — that drives people to this country, as well as the responsibility to provide the safe haven our Founding Fathers intended, has rarely been so compellingly presented.

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Cage’s ‘Color Out of Space’ Isn’t Unhinged Enough https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/color-out-of-space-review/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/color-out-of-space-review/#respond Thu, 23 Jan 2020 03:48:22 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024273 Nicolas Cage COLOR OUT OF SPACE review

Nicolas Cage’s current calling card is, well, crazy. Literally.

The Oscar nominee cut his teeth on eccentric characters, from the nasally beau in “Peggy Sue Got Married” to “Raising Arizona.”

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Nicolas Cage COLOR OUT OF SPACE review

Nicolas Cage’s current calling card is, well, crazy. Literally.

The Oscar nominee cut his teeth on eccentric characters, from the nasally beau in “Peggy Sue Got Married” to “Raising Arizona.” ‘Nuff said about H.I. McDunnough and his electric shock ‘do.

Now, thanks partly to the cult success of Cage’s “Mandy,” audiences expect a very specific Nicolas Cage these days.

In short … how nutty will he get?

That leads us to “Color Out of Space.” The sci-fi thriller, based on an H.P. Lovecraft yarn, finds Cage trying to hold his family together after a meteor lands in their backyard. The films proves intermittently sharp, but at times could use more Cage 2.0.

Cage stars as Nathan Gardner, a rural dad leading a mostly normal family. Sure, his teen daughter Lavinia (Madeleine Arthur) fancies herself a Wiccan, but the Gardners hang together as a loving, nuclear unit.

A mysterious object crash lands on their property, shredding that faux Norman Rockwell vibe. Strange colors ooze up from the land around the site. Stranger emotions flicker in the faces of Nathan and his clan.

What’s the source of the disturbance? Is this family strong enough to survive what follows?

RELATED: 19 Perfect ‘Raising Arizona’ Movie Quotes

“Color Out of Space” isn’t keen on answering conventional questions. Instead, it delights in showing this family under extreme duress. Body horror abounds, and Cage switches to an odd, stressed out accent at the most inopportune times. This isn’t cookie cutter sci-fi, of course, given the Lovecraft DNA. Still, there’s a certainty to the family’s plight that makes it less engaging as the third act approaches.

The film isn’t a major studio production, but the visuals suggest a larger, more expansive FX team at work. Nothing fancy, mind you, but the effects aren’t a distraction. Heck, they’re often the main reason to keep on watching.

Cage and co-star Joely Richardson, cast as a convincing husband and wife duo, show extreme parenting against a force unlike any other. Sure, your kids leave their socks on the stairs half the time, but that’s a picnic compared to what Nathan and co. endure.

“Color Out of Space” marks director Richard Stanley’s first major gig since getting removed from 1996’s “The Island of Dr. Moreau” remake. He keeps control of the spiraling story, ensuring the tone and performances don’t fly too close to the sun for comfort.

As for Cage, well you almost wish he separated himself from his fellow cast members. His character flashes that potential, but the Oscar winner keeps things grounded. That’s a smart play on paper, but “Space” wouldn’t suffer from certified scenery eating. 

Maybe next time.

HiT or Miss:  “Color Out of Space” offers some unique thrills, but the story doesn’t take full advantage of its star’s wild side.

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Woke Taylor Swift: I’m on the ‘Right Side of History’ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/woke-taylor-swift-right-side-history/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/woke-taylor-swift-right-side-history/#respond Wed, 22 Jan 2020 18:34:17 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024308 Taylor Swift Miss Americana trailerS-THEATRICAL

TayTay went from quiet to woke in record time.

The music superstar let her songs do the talking for most of her extravagant career. All that changed, though, after the

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Taylor Swift Miss Americana trailerS-THEATRICAL

TayTay went from quiet to woke in record time.

The music superstar let her songs do the talking for most of her extravagant career. All that changed, though, after the media insisted she take sides in the current culture war, particularly when Donald Trump emerged as a presidential candidate.

To them, she could only choose one side.

RELATED: Swift Embodies All That’s Wrong with Woke Celebrity Culture

So Swift did as told, embracing far-left platforms across the board. That transition is cheered via the upcoming Netflix documentary “Miss Americana.”

The film, in select theaters and Netflix Jan. 31, tracks Swift’s transformation into yet another celebrity activist.

“A nice girl doesn’t force their opinions on people,” Swifts says in the trailer, recalling the advice record executives told her over the years. “I became the person everyone wanted me to be.” Now, of course, she’s the person every reporter in the country wants her to be.

“I need to be on the right side of history,” she says of her transition.

The trailer shrewdly avoids any details of Swift’s “new” positions, as well as the condescending way she treats those with whom she disagrees. Also missing? Speaking out for the human rights of conservatives.

Consider this snippet from her exclusive chat with Variety:

“Because I’ve talked about equality and sung about it in songs like ‘Welcome to New York,’ but we are at a point where human rights are being violated. When you’re saying that certain people can be kicked out of a restaurant because of who they love or how they identify, and these are actual policies that certain politicians vocally stand behind, and they disguise them as family values, that is sinister. So, so dark.”

Does Swift care that conservatives have been chased out of restaurants for their political beliefs? What about how they’re attacked on campuses nationwide? Or how if they suggest there are simply two genders they lose their gigs?

More importantly, does she ever talk to people outside her fame bubble? Does her smart phone land on stories from National Review or The Daily Wire?

Those kind of questions would make for a fascinating look into her mindset. Chances are they didn’t make the final cut, assuming they were ever considered.

Here’s the official description from the Netflix PR release:

Miss Americana is a raw and emotionally revealing look at one of the most iconic artists of our time during a transformational period in her life as she learns to embrace her role not only as a songwriter and performer, but as a woman harnessing the full power of her voice.

As previously announced, Miss Americana will make its world premiere on January 23, 2020 at the Sundance Film Festival.

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Apu Is Gone … Is Linda Belcher of ‘Bob’s Burgers’ Next? https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/apu-bobs-burgers-linda-belcher-woke/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/apu-bobs-burgers-linda-belcher-woke/#respond Tue, 21 Jan 2020 17:39:32 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024296 linda belcher John Roberts

Cancel Culture claimed another scalp this week.

Hank Azaria, who has provided the voice for Apu on “The Simpsons” for 30 years, will no longer speak for the Kwik-E-Mart shop

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linda belcher John Roberts

Cancel Culture claimed another scalp this week.

Hank Azaria, who has provided the voice for Apu on “The Simpsons” for 30 years, will no longer speak for the Kwik-E-Mart shop owner. The 2017 documentary “The Problem with Apu” fired the first “problematic” shot. The documentary argued Azaria, who is white, stereotyped Indian-Americans with his work.

That ignored how well-rounded Apu Nahasapeemapetilon became over the years, or what a talented voice actor like Azaria brought to the role. Context rarely counts when the Woke Mob assembles.

Team Simpsons finally gave in after a long fight. The woke mob apparently smelled cultural blood, and they have a new target on deck.

Linda Belcher.

Linda is the animated star of “Bob’s Burgers,” another long-running Fox sitcom. She’s voiced by actor John Roberts. The actor, in case the name wasn’t clarifying enough, is a man. So, too, is Dan Mintz, who voices Tina, the show’s boy-crazy teen.

Few, if any, souls have complained about those facts over the show’s extended run (the current season is its 10th, and a “Bob’s Burgers” feature hits theaters July 17).

TV reporters, though, are suddenly bothered by the show’s gender-swapped casting. In fact, show creator Loren Bouchard committed a second PC crime with his latest project, an animated musical series called “Central Park.”

RELATED: Why ‘Lenny’ Matters Even More in Our Cancel Culture Age

Both The Hollywood Reporter and Indiewire focused on one aspect of Sunday’s Television Critics Association’s winter press tour – did Bouchard choose the “right” stars to voice characters old and new?

In Central Park — launching this summer on TV+ — Daveed Diggs and Stanley Tucci both voice female characters, while Kristen Bell lends her voice to the central family’s mixed-race daughter.

Bouchard, feeling pressure from the woke reporters on hand, offered up this meek self defense.

“Animation just makes you want to take this voice and have it come out of this face,” Bouchard said on the final day of the press tour. “Hopefully there’s something about it that makes sense.”

THR stood in for fellow woke reporters to frame the attack on Bouchard.

Still, Bouchard — who along with executive producer Josh Gad and star Bell raved about the influence musical theater had on them during their formative years — is aware that the practice of handing roles for women to men isn’t particularly great at a time when the industry is making an effort to do better with inclusion onscreen and off.

“Here I am, yet again, taking away two roles for women, and it’s something that I have on my mind all the time to try and keep balancing things,” he said, acknowledging Bell voicing a mixed-race character. “Kristen needed to voice Molly — we couldn’t not make her Molly, and then we couldn’t make Molly white and couldn’t make Kristen mixed-race. Then you arrive there and keep doing it as best you can to turn around and give someone an opportunity who wasn’t getting it. A commitment to diversity isn’t some odd job, it’s a commitment to making it better.”

It’s like carbon offsets to assuage liberal guilt.

RELATED: Did Seinfeld, Chappelle and Gervais Cancel Cancel Culture?

Not to be outdone, Indiewire piled on, too, saying it’s a “contradiction” that Bell’s “Central Park” character isn’t the same ethnicity as the actress herself.

The far-left site recently attempted to shame Robert Downey, Jr. for dressing in blackface for the 2008 comedy “Tropic Thunder.”

The movie proved a success at the time, skewering both action movie tropes and outsized Hollywood egos. Downey even earned an Oscar nomination for the performance.

Indiewire framed the character as ” a decision that has continued to spark debate and court controversy for 12 years and counting.”

Who’s counting? The media, mostly. That’s why there’s a chance “Central Perk’s” casting decisions might not stick. Could the woke mob turn on Bouchard, forcing him to change the actors behind “Central Park?”

Will Linda Belcher suffering a vocal change sooner or later?

What sounds like a Babylon Bee headline today is often breaking news tomorrow in our increasingly woke age.

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Adam McKay: Hollywood’s Progressive Propaganda Machine https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/adam-mckay-progressive-propaganda/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/adam-mckay-progressive-propaganda/#respond Mon, 20 Jan 2020 18:34:47 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024282 adam mckay progressive

The year’s least surprising Hollywood news is the name attached to the “Parasite” TV spin-off.

Adam McKay will help guide the limited HBO series, building on the South Korean film’s

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adam mckay progressive

The year’s least surprising Hollywood news is the name attached to the “Parasite” TV spin-off.

Adam McKay will help guide the limited HBO series, building on the South Korean film’s Oscar momentum.

“Parasite” director Bong Joon-Ho is on board, too, but McKay’s presence ensures the film’s key theme will be front and center.

Income inequality.

The film explores the toxic ties between an impoverished family and a wealthy, albeit clueless, clan.

That’s catnip for McKay, arguably Hollywood’s most prolific, and powerful, progressive. Few creators embed liberal messaging into their work quite like McKay. Sure, far-left director Michael Moore’s documentaries are uniformly progressive, but they’re clearly partisan in nature.

McKay’s handiwork is sneakier, more subversive and often absurdly successful. Audiences rarely see the messages coming. And that’s the point. It helps that McKay is both versatile and talented, delivering as many apolitical projects as tales meant to change hearts and minds.

He cut his creative teeth as a “Saturday Night Live” scribe but evolved to deliver superhero fireworks (“Ant Man”), critic-bait dramas (“Succession”) and cutting-edge comedies (“Booksmart”).

It began, in a way, with his 2010 comedy “The Other Guys.”

The buddy cop satire starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg wrapped with a stinging attack on Wall Street. The otherwise mainstream comedy gave McKay, who co-wrote the film, a chance to send a message against those capitalist fat cats.

He didn’t hold back.

RELATED: Condescending ‘Vice’ Trips on Its Own Propaganda

An emboldened McKay followed “The Other Guys” up by producing the 2012 political comedy “The Campaign.” The film, co-starring his frequent collaborator Ferrell, took a swipe at the Libertarian-leaning Koch brothers. The trailer played down that aspect of the film in favor of the broad comedy strokes.

Since then, McKay has grown bolder, more obvious in his messaging without avoiding apolitical fare. Academy voters helped convince him to double down on his progressive storytelling.

His 2015 satire “The Big Short” earned a nomination for Best Picture and snared him his first screenplay Oscar. Conservative critic Kyle Smith called out “Short’s” left-of-center messaging, but Smith’s peers fawned over the material.

McKay leaned harder into his progressive spirit via “Vice.” The 2018 satire, which he wrote and directed, excoriated every aspect of the GOP, starting with former Vice President Dick Cheney. Once again, Oscar nominations followed.

The shrewd creator knows audiences don’t always rely on movies for their entertainment.

Over the years McKay and Ferrell teamed for a number of high profile hits, from “Step Brothers” to “Anchorman.” They also collaborated on Funny or Die, the spoof web site which leans religiously to the Left.

In addition to Funny or Die, McKay produces short-form videos to help spread his progressive mantra. He got an early taste of that with the star-studded  “Prop 8: The Musical,” tied to a key California initiative.

He later contributed to “We the Economy,” a series of shorts with a distinct progressive spirit released prior to the 2014 midterm elections. The series promoted government-run health care along with other liberal-leaning causes. The packaging was upbeat and neutral, belying the ideology in play.

McKay’s contribution, “The Unbelievably Sweet Alpacas,” highlighted income inequality through a series of cutesy vignettes.

That comes from an artist with an estimated net worth between $40-60 million.

More recently, McKay teamed with Amazon for a series dubbed, “This Giant Beast That Is the Global Economy.” This verbally dense review snippet says it all about the 2019 series.

The Amazon docuseries, hosted by Kal Penn but defined by the voice of executive producer Adam McKay, is likely to be as divisive. Its attempts to clarify certain undeniably important aspects of life under the present economic system are well-meant, worthy in theory, and likely to appeal to that sizable portion of the audience that’s grown accustomed to the lecturing streak that’s eaten up topical comedy on TV.

Perhaps McKay’s ideology is getting the better of him. While “Vice” earned awards season huzzahs, several left-of-center sites shredded it. And the more he traffics in overtly political content, the easier it is to consider him Michael Moore 2.0.

It hasn’t happened yet, and that’s partly the media’s fault.

Reporters refuse to label him as a progressive storyteller, but sooner or later audiences will connect those dots on their own. They might do just that if he applies his far-left filter to the Jeffrey Epstein saga, one of many new projects on his plate.

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HiT DVD Autopsy – ‘Bulletproof 2’ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/bulletproof-2-review/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/bulletproof-2-review/#respond Mon, 20 Jan 2020 14:12:13 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024283 bulletproof 2 review

Every so often a title crops up that makes you pause.

Looking over the release schedule you frequently find curiosities, but this one — this caused the brakes to lock

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bulletproof 2 review

Every so often a title crops up that makes you pause.

Looking over the release schedule you frequently find curiosities, but this one — this caused the brakes to lock up in confusion. C’mon…it can’t be a sequel to THAT movie, can it?

Yes, yes it can.

Somebody felt it was wise to create a follow-up to a 23 year old quasi-buddy cop film with Adam Sandler and Damon Wayans that barely earned $20 million and sits with a deplorable 8% on Rotten Tomatoes.

For this endeavor they also hired Don Michaael Paul, a veteran of numerous direct-to-DVD sequels. Think “Jarhead: Law of Return” and “Death Race 4: Beyond Anarchy.”

This…this is what some low-level executive toiling in a cubicle felt would be a good idea.

Meet “Bulletproof 2.”

This title is not so much wheeled into the lab to determine COD, but it’s exhumed to trace the DNA of the thought process behind green lighting such a property. Rather than a forensic exploration maybe a carbon-14 spectral analysis will be required.

0:00:8 WEAKENED IMPULSE

At least one mystery is cleared up by the first title card. This film was produced by Universal 1440, a home video distribution arm of Comcast. It’s known for producing sequels to long-in-the vaults titles. This division recently made ‘’Backdraft 2,’’ ‘’Doom Annihilation’’ and ‘’Kindergarten Cop 2.’’ They even went so far as to make ‘’Cop and a Half: New Recruit,’’ so suddenly this one looks slightly better.

0:01:21 SCEPTIC INTRODUCTION

In a large van parked in Rome, DEA agent Jack Carter (Faizon Love) is grousing about the fact that he should be making love with Italian models but is stuck with two INTERPOL officers.

CARTER: ’’But no — they got me in this bozo van, with Itchy and Scratchy, who think ‘Rocky’ was a damned documentary.’’

I’m certain this will prove to be a crucial plot point, and not just some ad-libbed dialogue that is supposed to sound compelling and humorous.

0:02:24 ELEVATED FORESHADOW LEVELS

The Italian guy seated beside Carter mentions that, ’’I cannot believe they made a movie about you.’’ He says he could only find it on Pirate Bay, and then the third guy crawls up and declares he just happens to have a magazine that features this film mentioned, with Carter and Archie Moses posing on the front.

You know, in case this conversation came up, during their stakeout. So, Carter is an agent who works undercover while also appearing on the cover of national periodicals. Sure.

0:05:44 CRANIAL ATROPHY

Back in Los Angeles Carter is in a beef with his commanding Sergeant. In flashback we learn that as Carter approached their target he dropped his gun and shot a bodyguard in the foot. The Sergeant is concerned the bullet shrapnel in Carter’s skull from a previous shooting is affecting his ability to work — not the fact that Carter weighs over 300 pounds and walking is a challenge.

0:06:17 EXPLORATORY STORY INCISION

Despite voicing concerns on his mental acuity the sergeant tells Carter his next assignment is to take down a Mexican drug cartel. Naturally. Does he call for Carter to undergo a mental competency analysis? No, he sends him out to break up an international drug syndicate.

He will catch the Mexicans by…going to South Africa. Ummm…whut? This seemingly has everything to do with the Mexicans looking for another drug source, and not that the film’s financing came out of that country.

0:07:14 ARTIFICIAL NARRATIVE STIMULANT

In a deeply convenient piece of irony Carter will have to assume the identity of Archie Moses. This is because Archie conveniently happens to be in South Africa and the Mexicans never met him, so Carter can pose as him. This is all due to Archie serving time in a Mexican jail and making contacts inside the cartel. The cartel we are told now does not know him personally … wait … whut?

0:09:02 LOCALE ANESTHESIA

After two months undercover Carter sets up a meeting between the Mexicans and the South African drug lords – the Schmidt Syndicate – led by an annoyingly hyper guy named Spyder. The Mexicans arrive, on another continent, all driving different 1970s muscle cars, because of course that happens.

0:09:15 STUNT CAST

This henchman — direct from Central Casting.

0:11:45 IRREGULAR PLOTBEAT

The meeting takes place and we watch the Mexican DRUG cartel members and the South African DRUG suppliers begin discussing the details of…the purchase of counterfeit gift cards?

0:14:11 IATROGENIC DIRECTION

For no reason Spyder pulls out an automatic weapon and the meetup explodes in a gunfight. (This could be retitled ‘’Squibs: The Movie.)

Carter/Archie takes cover and at one point gets into a fistfight. Before a punch actually lands we see Faizon grimace, turn his head and his body twists. That’s not too uncommon in bad films, but the effect is made worse by this being shot in super slo-mo. He almost looks doubled over before the blow lands.

0:16:41 EXPLORATORY STORY INCISION

In a flashback Carter is visiting a doctor to discuss the bullet lodged in his brain, a reference to the shooting in the Wayans/Sandler film. The doc says he’s worried about removing it and causing more harm than good. He recommends no intense physical activity, then even dictates Carter cannot have sex, and ‘’No Tacos.’’ Because those … would affect the bullet?

0:20:12 BLUNT-FORCE DIALOGUE

After the shootout Carter needs to find Archie to alert him the Mexicans want to kill him. The DEA knows he’s been working at a strip club in Cape Town for six months. Carter meets with Pinkie, the stripper-owner, who asks if he is gay by saying, ‘’Are you a homeowner?’’

When he gets around to asking for Archie we learn from her that ‘’He works ‘gravy mop-up’ for me.’’ This is clever banter in the script.

0:21:50 DEPLETED CHARACTER CONCENTRATION

Finally we get the reunion of Carter and Archie, but instead of Adam Sandler we have Kirk Fox, who played a slimy refuse technician on ‘’Parks And Recreation.’’ Here, he ramps up the sliminess, while falling well short of Sandler in the humor dept.

ARCHIE: ‘’I only came back for my mother’s funeral.’’
CARTER: ‘’How is she?’’
ARCHIE: ‘’She’s still F—ing dead, man!’’
CARTER: ‘’Right–right.’

0:25:03 EDITING ARRHYTHMIA

It’s one thing to show when a film cannot keep the plot in line, but managing to bugger the details within the same scene is pretty impressive. Carter tells Archie that as long as his cover isn’t blown he can protect him. Then we see the Mexican hit squad outside, looking for Archie, not Carter.

So his cover is already blown. But — this is because they have pics of Archie drinking with his former cartel contact. This means that all the talk of the Mexicans never having seen him is tossed out. And the shootout scene is also screwed, because those Mexicans did not know Carter was not Archie, but these Mexicans…do now know…WHUT?

0:29:35 VISUAL ADRENAL INFUSION

The hit men enter the strip club and a lengthy gunfight plays out, with numerous naked strippers involved in the gun play or hitting hit men with liquor bottles. In the end the guys are saved by Pinkie, after she uses her shotgun on a few assassins.

I must say, she seems remarkably happy about it all considering the place is shot up and partially on fire. She even offers to have Carter and Archie sleep at her home.

0:30:45 RUPTURED OPTICS

The following morning we get treated to the visage of a completely nude Faizon Love because we have not suffered enough in this slog already.

0:34:21 CAUTERIZED PLOT CAVITY

Tires screech/record scratch/room-falls-silent time. Carter and Archie are en route to the family drug syndicate, but for script convenience they stop off to eat. This is to give us the attempted justification of this entire film.

ARCHIE: ‘’I got a question — did you ever see that s***y movie they made about us?’’

Wait, wait…WAIT! They are trying to sell us on the concept that these two are real, and that Sandler and Wayans portrayed them in the original film? A grouchy inept agent and an unfunny hoodlum who perpetually looks in need of a shower were deemed Hollywood material — sure they were.

This makes for one of the most strained attempts to justify a sequel … ever.

0:37:48 COMEDIC ARREST

They meet up with Spyder, but after Carter tells Archie to keep quiet he instead ingratiates himself to Spyder by insulting Carter. Director Don Michael Paul lets Fox ad-lib for over a minute about the size of Carter’s penis.

0:40:35 DEPLETED CHARACTER CONCENTRATION

Archie will supposedly be brought in to transfer the millions of the Schmidt’s drug money onto the gift cards, then transferred to an offshore bank. They ride in Spyder’s boat to a vineyard, where the Schmidt Syndicate operates. We are supposed to be bowled over when they pull up in dune buggies and we learn that they are women.

We are not bowled over.

0:41:26 ARTIFICIAL NARRATIVE STIMULANT

The one gal named Jo shows obvious interest to Carter. In every single setting we have to buy into the idea that the obese Carter is irresistible to every woman and stripper in this affair.

0:52:27 TYMPANIC TRAUMA

The Schmidts suspect that Carter and Archie could be DEA, so they drive them at night to have them shoot an apartment with a rocket launcher. The target is a local agent they both know, so to stall and allow him to get out we endure minutes of Archie talking about how it’s an RPG-7, ‘’But I’m a 6 guy, I hate the 7…’’ This is delivered repeatedly, as if it’s uproariously funny and not toss-a-beer-bottle-at-the-screen annoying.

0:53:42 VISUAL ADRENAL INFUSION

Gratuitous nudity is frequently used in these films to wallpaper over weak scripts. Now we get half a dozen women lying by the pool completely nude … in the middle of the night.

1:08:12 COMEDIC ARREST

The next morning Archie is nervous, and then the family informs them they have figured out how to transfer the cash without his help. Archie panics and shouts out that Carter is DEA. This leads to overly long scenes in a tool shed where the duo is tied up and Kirk ad-libs more to ill-effect. They mistakenly thought filling up airspace was the same as being amusing.

1:12:09 CHRONICLE SEIZURE

While Archie was exposing them at breakfast Carter had dialed Pinkie so she could hear what was happening. Now she creeps into the shed and gets the drop on the henchman tormenting our … heroes. How a stripper found their location, arrived at the remote spot in short order and got past the armed guards on the property are not important questions to ask.

1:15:53 IATROGENIC DIRECTION

Eventually the boys get free, then as the Schmidts are about to go to an airport our trio steals one of the dune buggies. Mad at the lead henchman for letting them escape, all the Schmidts open fire at him, in this scene from ‘’Bulletproof 2: Squibs Aplenty.’’

1:21:37 PHYSICS DISORDER

It seems the climax will be primarily a car chase between all the dune buggies. To make this seem compelling we have bad cops joining the chase, good cops in a chopper, split screen scenes and an impressive amount of tires squealing on the foley track while driving in sand.

1:27:24 COLLAPSED CLIMAX

They all retreat inside an abandoned resort home. Carter gets the drop on Spyder, and is saved when one Schmidt is about to fire on him, but Pinkie comes in to drop her. Seriously, these guys would be dead three times over if not for this stripper, who has more skill than an agent and a hoodlum.

Spyder next has Archie held with a knife but Carter shoots him THROUGH Archie. This makes them even, for the bullet in his head, we presume.

0:00:08 GENETIC SEQUEL MUTATION

In the hospital we see Carter has been operated on for his bullet. Archie and Pinkie are visiting, but as he leaves Archie mentions how he will get back into the thug life, having nabbed some of the loaded gift cards during their getaway.

Then we get the very last shot, that of the Sergeant back in Los Angeles. He’s on the phone, and angrily says, ‘’F—ing Carter!’’ for no discernible reason. This leaves us saying, ‘’WHUT?’’ one last time.

POST MORTEM

To call this a pointless sequel is to traffic in redundancy. Every aspect of this film conveys the feeling of ‘’cut rate” from the distancing settings, the empty plot and the sub-par cast. It’s not even like they had a script and just decided to rename it with a previous title.

You have a hard time seeing this as a generic sequel as this is a vacant entity — it cannot be deemed a knock-off since there is no product here at all.

It’s one thing to say there was no reason to remake this property; the amazing thing is they gave no reason at all to watch it.

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How Stabbing Westward’s Improbable Reunion Happened https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/stabbing-westward-christopher-hall-reunion/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/stabbing-westward-christopher-hall-reunion/#respond Sun, 19 Jan 2020 16:23:36 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024258 stabbing westward concert

“I don’t think I’m any more of a tortured soul than the rest of us. I’m just okay with talking about it really loudly.” – Christopher Hall, Stabbing Westward

In

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stabbing westward concert

“I don’t think I’m any more of a tortured soul than the rest of us. I’m just okay with talking about it really loudly.” – Christopher Hall, Stabbing Westward

In the mid 1990s, alternative rockers Stabbing Westward lit up the radio and MTV with a unique industrial sound and powerful vocals from Christopher Hall. That combination earned them scores of fans and led to two certified gold albums.

The group delivered such memorable hits as “What Do I Have to Do?,” “Shame,” and “Save Yourself,” before disbanding in 2002.

Sorely missed from the music scene, fans had just about given up hope of the band ever reuniting. But it finally happened with handful of reunion shows in 2015 and 2016, before a couple of full-fledged tours solidified the band’s return (with guitarist Carlton Bost and drummer Bobby Amaro joining founding members, Christopher Hall and Walter Flakus).

On January 3, Stabbing Westward rang in the New Year by releasing the band’s first new music in 18 years, in the form of a 5-track EP titled “Dead and Gone.” The band is promising two more EP releases before the year’s end.

I was recently fortunate enough to be able to discuss the band and its music with front-man Hall.

John Daly: The “Dead and Gone” EP is the first new music Stabbing Westward has released since the self-titled album in 2001. That was quite a hiatus, though you certainly kept busy during that time with your other band, The Dreaming (which has put out some really great stuff).

Likewise, Walter Flakus was involved in other music projects. What was the catalyst for the band’s reunion a few years ago, and how long after that happened did you begin working on new Stabbing Westward music?

Christopher Hall: Walter drove four hours back to our home town to attend my father’s funeral. I hadn’t seen him for five years, and we had a lot of baggage to deal with. We went drinking in all our favorite bars and realized how much we had missed each other as friends and writing partners. We promised to stay in touch, and we kept that promise.

Daly: I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the new EP. The songs are infectious and reminiscent of your older work. Longtime fans will assuredly love what you’ve done.

There’s also a timelessness to the band’s sound that should resonate with younger crowds. Social media has become an important tool in the modern era for reaching new listeners, and I’ve noticed that Stabbing Westward has had more of an Internet presence in recent months. Can we expect some additional social-media efforts in the near future — perhaps some live streaming performances, or some video check-ins from the road?

Hall: Don’t get ahead of yourself. I truly loathe social media but it seems to be a necessary evil to promote the record so I do what I can. I do enjoy the ability to quickly share my art whether it’s music or photography. I know our drummer Bobby has live streamed his drum performances during our show before. I just don’t feel it could ever live up to actually being at the show.

Daly: If I understand correctly, the “Dead and Gone” EP is the first of three EPs that will be released by the band in 2020, with the end result being a full-length album. What’s the reason for this three-tiered presentation, as opposed to just releasing everything at once? Is there an artistic theme behind it, or are you just trying to get the new songs out to us eager fans as quickly as possible?

Hall: It’s more that we want to spread out the experience over a longer period of time. In the olden days, an album cycle could last a year or more. Now it’s a matter of days. There is so much constant competition for people’s attention online that it’s hard to get fans to notice. We felt by spreading the releases out we could stretch the enthusiasm over a longer period of time.

RELATED: How Tech Made New Rembrandts Music a Reality

And the plan is still in flux. I wanted to see how the first EP was received and look at the analytics: how long did people listen; how many spins are the songs getting two weeks later, etc. We also wanted to be able to spread the new songs across several tours. Rather than fans showing up and having to listen to 10 new songs we can play a couple of new ones for a few months and slowly build awareness.

Daly: I think it’s safe to say that your music touches a lot of people on a personal level. There’s a sincerity and introspective quality to the lyrics that have long appealed to me and other fans. We recognize and identify with these emotional themes of loneliness, guilt, and desperation, but the journey through your music — at least in my experience — has never been marred with despair or negativity.

In fact, I’ve always found your music to be rather cathartic. I think there’s something uplifting and empowering about the airing of raw honesty, and I’ve always appreciated that from your work.

I’m curious if you find those same therapeutic benefits when actually creating and performing the music. And when people meet you in person, are they surprised to find that you’re a very friendly, down-to-earth guy, as opposed to the ‘tortured soul’ they might be envisioning from listening to your music?

Hall: It is therapeutic in some ways to get the thoughts articulated, but it’s often more complicated than that. When I write a song, it’s usually in my head. I don’t really record anything until I have it close to where I want it.

So that means I’m constantly keeping the idea in my short-term RAM; always humming in the background serving as a constant distraction to the real world around me.

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When I was younger it made me seem distant and odd. But now that I have two little kids, it makes me a terrible parent. We’ve just started the process of recording the second EP and I’ve turned back into a zombie. I’m going to have to try harder to put a firewall up between the two parts of my brain. And yes, people are generally surprised at how normal I am and by how short I am.

Daly: I’m sure you’ve heard this from lots of people over the years, but the music video for “Shame” really does stand out as one of the more unique and memorable of its time.

From the way it was shot as a cinematic thriller (actor Clint Curtis was genuinely chilling as “Nick”) to the raw energy from the band in the performance scenes, the video knocked the ball out of the park. In fact, whenever I run into a fellow Stabbing Westward fan, the topic of that video always comes up.

The video for the song “Dead and Gone” has already been released online, and it definitely has a similar feel to your older videos. The same is true of “Crawl.” Has there ever been any discussion about shooting a sequel to “Shame” (for one of your new or upcoming songs) with “Nick” possibly having survived his fall from the building 20+ years ago, and reigniting his saga with “Julie?” (I swear I’m not Chris Curtis’s casting agent, haha).

Hall: Do you know how to get a hold of them?

Daly: A number of bands who enjoyed breakout commercial success in the 1990s have been back on the road in recent years doing 20th and 25th “anniversary” tours for their most popular albums. This has been a real treat for fans of that era’s music, and I was especially excited in 2018 to learn that Stabbing Westward would be among those groups (for your “Darkest Days” album).

Your show in Denver that November was fantastic, and it was fun to see you and Walter reconnect with a crowd (during and after the concert) that still knew all the songs by heart. What has it been like “catching up” with longtime fans who (like yourself, I’m sure) have done some growing up, and have more life-responsibilities these days, but still share that a common love for your music?

Hall: It’s been really fun. I didn’t ever really think the ’90s would make a comeback, but I guess that was foolish. Every generation hits that point in their life where their kids are grown up and they are finally able to go out and live life again. (I’m a good 15 years away from that day).

The ’80s bands have been dominating the scene for the past 15 years, but it’s time to move over Boomers!! Gen X is in the house. It’s been really fun seeing old fans and friends again, though I must admit my memories from the ’90s are a bit fuzzy.

Daly: As a writer myself (not a songwriter), I’m always interested in how other writers go about their craft. When you’re at the opening stage of constructing a song, do you prefer to work alone in silence without distractions, or is it usually a collaborative effort from the beginning? Do you sometimes find that right words and chords hit you in the face at the least opportune times?

Hall: I work in two ways. If I’m writing the song, I work in my head usually while walking my dog and humming to myself. I often wear headphones to keep any one from talking to me, but there’s never music on. I start with words and a melody and start putting together the pieces like a puzzle.

Music is very mathematical for me, so I generally know, as a melody develops, what the proper chord structure will be. So it sort of saves as an equation with words.

The other way I work is if Walter or Carlton write the music first, and I have to write a vocal melody and lyrics. That is usually done both in the shower, while listening to my phone in the shampoo nook (it creates better low end) and while walking my dog…once again singing out loud with headphones, looking like an escaped mental patient off his meds.

I just re-read this answer and would like to clarify that I do not walk my dog in the
shower.

Daly: With all of this new music coming out from the band in 2020, can Stabbing Westward fans expect more tour dates on the horizon? If so, where will you be headed?

Hall: Yes, but not a traditional tour. We are mostly doing weekends when our adult fans can go out, and we can get off of work. Dracula’s Ball in Philly on May 1st and probably an industrial festiHowval in Chicago in September. I’m sure there will be more weekends between them. Just none on the books right now.

“Dead and Gone” (which is excellent) is on sale now, including at Amazon, iTunes and Bandcamp.


John Daly is a Colo.-based writer of four Sean Coleman thrillers, including his latest tale, “Safeguard.”  He also contributes to BernardGoldberg.com.

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Klepper vs. Klepper: A Stunning Liberal Bias Primer https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/klepper-vs-klepper-a-stunning-liberal-bias-primer/ https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/klepper-vs-klepper-a-stunning-liberal-bias-primer/#respond Sat, 18 Jan 2020 20:51:25 +0000 https://www.hollywoodintoto.com/?p=1024275 jordan klepper comedy central liberal bias (2)

Comedy Central won’t quit on far-left comic Jordan Klepper.

The channel gave Klepper his own late night show in 2017, “The Opposition w/ Jordan Klepper.” The program aped right-wing conspiracy

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jordan klepper comedy central liberal bias (2)

Comedy Central won’t quit on far-left comic Jordan Klepper.

The channel gave Klepper his own late night show in 2017, “The Opposition w/ Jordan Klepper.” The program aped right-wing conspiracy pundits but got the heave ho just nine months later.

The lanky comic bounced back with “Klepper,” a Comedy Central docu-series with a similarly liberal slant.

That show appears in limbo, but it’s not the end of Klepper’s Comedy Central ties.

He’s currently appearing as a “Daily Show” contributor again, embedding himself into the 2020 presidential campaign.

RELATED: Liberal Comedy Central Cheers Its Own Diversity

Two recent Klepper videos speak volumes about “The Daily Show” and its approach to political comedy. Late last year, Klepper visited a Trump rally and questioned some of the president’s full-throated fans in Hershey, Pa.

“It’s eight hours before Donald Trump arrives. It’s raining. And there are people here,” he says at the start, his voice cracking with incredulity.

The results were condescension on steroids.

The comedian mocked their political stances, suggested they were ignorant for not reading the critical transcript and dismissed them in general.

“Do you have anything that’s aimed at women, not for women?”” he asks one pro-Trump vendor.

At least there’s a joke embedded in the quip, given Trump’s alleged history with women. Still, the mission creep is clear. He’s mocking Trump supporters, picking those who are the easiest targets in the process.

Hey, if Jay Leno could tweak Americans for not knowing much about their own country, it’s fair game.

Leno’s approach isn’t as cruel or cutting, though. Still, Klepper will do the same when he starts embedding with the Democratic campaigns, right? Both sides have their share of less informed souls, or those whose passions are ripe for ridicule.

The premise behind Klepper’s new clip, “Why Is the Iowa Caucus First?” hardly ranks as a gut-buster.

Still, Klepper’s a clever soul. Surely he’s got some condescension lurking in his back pocket. Maybe even his front?

Not even close .. at first.

What we see is a chummy, back-slapping montage of Klepper meeting Iowans engaged in the Democratic process. Sure, he squeezes in a few mild yuks – one woman boasts she “met” Cory Booker the previous year, which he turns into a “hooking up” gag.

RELATED: Truth to Power Klepper Fawns Over the Clintons

Klepper’s real purpose soon comes clear. He attacks the small state, given power for its “first in the nation” status, for being 90 percent white. A white newspaper columnist alerts Klepper to that “problem.”

You’d think she’d resign and insist a writer of color got her gig. For diversity.

Klepper avoids mocking local Democrats for promoting seriously flawed politicians. Their skin color, though, is another matter. When Iowans try to defend themselves, Klepper uses their own white guilt against them.

Expect more of the same as the 2020 presidential campaign heats up. Late night TV remains ideologically rigid, and Klepper is its (white) standard bearer.

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