Let me preface all of this with stating that I was not even remotely looking forward to seeing Sony’s updated reversioning of Annie to begin with … it may have something to do with flashbacks to my sophomore musical production of it in high school (yes, I was in a high school musical and turned out gay!) Primarily though, it’s because I have never really cared for the tale of the permanently positive ginger with the heart of gold who warms the heart of billionaire Daddy Warbucks. I never found it remotely charming, and don’t think any version has ever been worthwhile, apart from the original film showcasing two of the greatest gingers that ever lived: Carol Burnette and Bernadette Peters (even though the latter was a blonde in the original Annie, but I digress).
In the opening moments of the new Annie, a smiling redheaded girl who didn’t take her Ritalin finishes a speech for class and then breaks into a brief tap dance … everyone in the class groans. Then we meet the other Annie in the class (titular star Quvenzhané Wallis who made me cry my eyes out in Beasts of the Southern Wild). This Annie sasses her teacher before turning her speech into a STOMP-esque lesson on FDR’s The New Deal. I guess this is supposed to show us that this is not our momma’s Annie.
Read more »
Name: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Genre: Fantasy Adventure
Logline: It’s Dragonslayer meets The Warriors
Quick Review: The third—and final—installment in Peter Jackson’s last (?) Middle Earth saga finds our heroes in all kinds of dire straits: Smaug, the vainglorious dragon (voiced magnificently by Benedict Cumbatch), has just launched himself to wipe out nearby Laketown; a giant army of orcs is amassing to take the Lonely Mountain stronghold that the Dwarves have just won; and Thorin (Richard Armitage), the leader of these dwarves, has just succumbed to “dragon sickness” in which he values the vast gold and treasure of the mountain above all things. And yet, there’s a sense that the story has been watered down considerably to fulfill the requirements of a full—and bloody lengthy—trilogy. What might have made an excellent single film has been stretched as thin as an artist’s canvas. Despite the continued beauty of Jackson’s home country in New Zealand, everything falls short of our expectations. There are good, enervating moments, but unlike “Lord of the Rings,” this series has never quite justified itself, a depressing trend that reaches its unhappy apex here.
Read more »
Bradley Cooper is all over the place these days, and he seems to be making waves and headlines wherever he goes. Critics are eating him up in The Elephant Man, playing now on Broadway, and he’s getting tons of hype for his turn as kickass Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle in Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper. The first trailers for the film rolled out this week, showing the beefed-up Jenkintown native in a role that he has said it was an honor to portray.
Read more »
UPDATE: Actually scratch that. No theaters are going to be showing The Interview. Sony released a statement saying that it is scraping the movie’s release altogether:
In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release. We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers.
Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business. Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails, and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale – all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like. We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public. We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.
ORIGINAL: Five of America’s biggest theater chains have announced that they will not screen new the Seth Rogen / James Franco comedy The Interview after those Sony email hackers threatened terrorist violence against theaters that are showing it.
The Department of Homeland Security released a statement yesterday saying there is “no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters within the United States,” but theaters aren’t taking any chances. The chains that have dropped the film are Regal Entertainment, AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, Cineplex Entertainment and Carmike Cinemas. This would affect your chances of seeing the much-hyped buddy comedy at a handful of Philly theaters, including The Rave in West Philly, UA Riverview and AMC Franklin Mills. Unless of course the hype dies down before its scheduled opening on Christmas Day.
SEE IT NOW
Wild: Through the more than two decades of her acting career, 38-year-old Reese Witherspoon has gone from being totally unknown to known to overrated to supremely overrated, and now all the way back down to significantly underrated. Jean Marc Vallé’s film—based on an Oprah-approved memoir by Cheryl Strayed about an emotionally devastated woman who decides to hike the PCT from Mexico to Canada to reclaim her lost soul—gives Witherspoon a showcase opportunity to show the world what she’s capable of with the right material. Not unlike Matthew McConaughey, who starred in Vallé’s previous film, Dallas Buyers Club, and rode that performance to Oscar glory, Witherspoon is getting rave notice for her most welcome return to form. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
Read more »
This evening, the Philadelphia Film Society (PFS) will host a special screening of Bernadette, a documentary that follows one lesbian woman as she battles Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT)—”the most common disease no one’s ever heard of.”
According to a release, “CMT affects an estimated 1 in 2,500 people in the United States and 2.6 million worldwide, which makes it the number one hereditary neuropathy in the world. It is a degenerative nerve and muscle disorder that leads the body to deteriorate over time. In some cases it is a slow deterioration, in others, rapid. It can sometimes be fatal, and there is no cure.”
In the documentary, Bernadette Scarduzio shares intimate moments about how CMT affects her day-to-day life, how she’s working to bring more awareness to the disease, and how she copes with a family that look at the hereditary disease as “an embarrassing secret.”
Read more »
There’s been a lot of talk that Jenkintown native Bradley Cooper will rack up come awards season, thanks to his portrayal of Navy Seal Chris Kyle in Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper. Those whispers may be quietening after today, however, when one of the first streams of acting nominations for the season were announced today by the Screen Actors Guild. Cooper’s name was nowhere to be found—unless you read it in an article followed by the word “snubbed.”
The fellows who did receive nominations in the category of Outstanding Performance By a Male Actor in a Leading Role were Steve Carell for Foxcatcher (there’s a local tie!), Benedict Cumberbatch for The Imitation Game, Jake Gyllenhaal for Nightcrawler, Michael Keaton for Birdman and Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything.
Read more »
Chris Rock at Ritz Five, promoting his new movie, Top Five.
Winter storm/Nor’Easter Damon might not have packed a powerful punch in the Philadelphia area but it’s wreaking havoc along the Coast and New England. Case in point? Wintery conditions delayed Chris Rock’s plane on his press junket to visit five cities in one day to promote his new film Top Five, opening Friday, December 12th.
Read more »
Title: The Babadook
Genre: Psychological Horror
Logline: It’s Hide and Seek meets Jumanji
Read more »
Two Philly boys are set to star in an upcoming DC Comics film. Warner Bros. confirms that UArts alum Jared Leto and Philly-bred actor Will Smith will play supervillains Deadshot and The Joker (yes, that Joker) in Suicide Squad, which, according to IMDB, follows a secret government agency of “highly skilled super villains who are assigned to execute dangerous tasks in exchange for shorter prison sentences.”
Other cast members include Tom Hardy as Rick Flagg, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Jai Courtney as Boomerang, and Cara Delevinge as Enchantress. The film will be written and directed by David Ayer, and it’s set to be released August 2016.