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The Bob's Burgers Movie Review: Well Done!
It utilizes its characters well enough to not need a globe-trotting adventure plot or potential apocalyptic stakes, and, like the series, it’s a delight.
Emergency Review: A New All-Time Great College Buddy Comedy That Does Its Homework
Emergency approaches the intensity of the subject matter with a gentle and outright impressive balance between making its points and being an adrenaline-pumping joyride.
Disney+’s Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers Review: A Disney Classic Is Reborn As A Fast And Funny Crime Caper
The action, and the humor, are enough to help anyone new to ‘90s animation enjoy the ride as it was intended, while allowing die-hard fans and older viewers a chance to enjoy some big laughs.
Firestarter Review: A Stephen King Adaptation That Changes A Lot, But Keeps What's Important
[By] the end [Ryan Kiera Armstrong] is a force to be reckoned with, and sells every ounce of it.
Top Gun: Maverick Review: Tom Cruise Will Take Your Breath Away (To The Danger Zone)
Top Gun: Maverick is a movie that feels like it is the best version of itself, and it's a thrill.
Men Review: Ex Machina Director's Latest Goes Big With With Symbolism And Body Horror
[W]hile it’s not quite as phenomenal and engaging as the writer/director’s first two features, it’s an execution of awesome cinematic vision that delivers spectacular body horror in its finale that will drop the jaw of every genre fan.
Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness Review: Special Spectacle With Frustrating Flaws
What's unequivocally the best thing about Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness is that it's a comic book movie that has Sam Raimi's fingerprints all over it...
Memory Review: Liam Neeson Gets To Flex His Action And Acting Muscles In A Solid Thriller
Memory feels closer in thematic spirit to an episode of Law and Order: SVU than a stock action/revenge thriller.
Downton Abbey: A New Era Review: A Welcomed Return Of Old Friends That’s Sure To Please Downton Die Hards
[T]his latest visit with the Crawleys is a well-earned sequel that takes chances and still leaves its fans either smiling or with tears in their eyes.
The Bad Guys Review: Zootopia Without The Nuance
The movie looks great; it just doesn’t always have the substance to support the aesthetics.
- Michael Leri
30% of PlayStation’s Releases Will Be On PC by 2025

Sony has been inching more and more into the PC space and now it is expecting that 30% of its releases will be on that platform by 2025 and 20% will be on mobile. This comes in conjunction with Sony seemingly phasing out PlayStation 4 games by that very same year.

Half of PlayStation's Releases Will Be On PC by 2025

As picked up by Video Games Chronicle, Sony Interactive Entertainment President Jim Ryan spoke in a business briefing about the subject. He posted the above slide, showing three graphs, with each color coordinating to PS4, PS4 and PS5, PS5, PC, and mobile. And by fiscal year 2025, the 30% of its releases will be on PC, 20% will be on mobile, and the remaining 50% will be on PS5. PS4 is nowhere to be seen in that part of the graph, which also indicates Sony will abandon the old platform by then.

Ryan talked about the decision, saying it was to get the company’s games in more places.

“PlayStation Studios historically has executed wonderfully in the delivery of a strong portfolio of narrative rich, graphically beautiful single-player games, but it’s certainly the case that we have restricted ourselves to a rather narrow portion of the gaming market,” said Ryan. “By expanding to PC and mobile, and it must be said… also to live services, we have the opportunity to move from a situation of being present in a very narrow segment of the overall gaming software market, to being present pretty much everywhere.”

RELATED: God of War Ragnarök Accessibility Features Detailed, Includes Tons of Different Settings

He went on, speaking to how even just a few successful launches can be “completely transformational to [Sony’s] business structure,” even bringing up the 12 live service games it is releasing in next few years.

“I think if we do this right, if we execute with intelligence and we execute with excellence, the opportunities for significant growth in the number of people who play our games, the number of people who enjoy our games, and the number of people who spend money on our games, is exponentially a large one,” said Ryan. “I would say for example, if we are successful in making a portion of the 12 live service games that we have in development in PlayStation Studios … if only a portion of those enjoy critical and commercial success, then the impact of that over time will be completely transformational to our business structure.”

Sony has been slowly inching into the PC space. Ryan told GQ in February 2021 that a “whole slate” of PlayStation games would come to PC. This was right after the company published Predator: Hunting Grounds in April 2020 and Horizon Zero Dawn on the platform in August 2020 and just before porting Days Gone in May 2021. God of War hit PC in January 2022 and Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection is slated for later this year. Sony acquired Nixxes in July 2021, which is a team noted for its PC ports. Its mobile crusade isn’t as extensive yet, but Ryan also said that some iconic franchises will be coming in the platform future (but it has seemingly missed its fiscal year 2021 target) and the company has been hiring up for said task.

RELATED: The Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection Shouldn’t Be a Premium Remaster

Losing PS4 ports is also not too unexpected. While God of War Ragnarök is still slated to come to old and new hardware, Sony’s currently announced games like Spider-Man 2 and Wolverine have only been announced for PS5.

The post 30% of PlayStation’s Releases Will Be On PC by 2025 appeared first on ComingSoon.net.

- Michael Leri

Ms. Marvel hasn’t been welcomed into the Marvel Cinematic Universe quite yet, nor is her comics history as extensive as the other Avengers. This has probably been why she doesn’t get as many skins in Marvel’s Avengers when compared to the other heroes, but Crystal Dynamics still adds some costumes for her in the game from time to time. However, the title’s next big premium skin is for Kamala Khan and from the Magnificent Ms. Marvel Vol. 1 #5 comic.

Ancient Kree nanotech? Cooooool.

Ms. Marvel's Magnificent Ms. Marvel Outfit is inspired by her new sharp and fluid look from Magnificent Ms. Marvel Vol. 1 #5, when she encounters powerful technology that can adapt to the mind of its wielder.

Find it in the Marketplace tomorrow! pic.twitter.com/9C14DbESRv

— Marvel's Avengers (@PlayAvengers) May 25, 2022

The Avengers‘ Twitter account showed off this new skin that will be coming to the game’s marketplace on May 26. No price was revealed, but it will likely be 1,400 Credits or about $14.

RELATED: Marvel’s Avengers Patch 2.4 Updates How Event Rewards Work

This outfit is from the aforementioned 2019 comic. As noted by the cover, the issue highlights her getting a new costume, which is fitting in the context of said costume being added to the game. The suit from the previous issue is like the basic one she has in the base game.

Crystal Dynamics recently gave out a cosmic skin for free for Ms. Marvel to celebrate Ramadan. She has yet to get her MCU skin, but that will likely come in the next few months as the Disney+ show ramps up.

RELATED: Ms. Marvel Featurette Highlights Teen Hero’s Powers & Biggest Conflict

The game’s next hero, Lady Thor, is still being worked on, but players will likely have to get by with just costumes and small updates until then. Some fans have been complaining about the lack of big updates, which seems to at least partially come from the allegedly delayed hero, She-Hulk. The aforementioned leaker mmmmmmmmiller said that she was supposed to come out before Lady Thor, but was moved around to better line up with the MCU.

The post Marvel’s Avengers’ Ms. Marvel Gets a New Costume Out of the Chaos appeared first on ComingSoon.net.

- Julia Delbel
Disney+ Is Where Marvel’s Phase 4 Is Truly Shining

There’s a moment in “The Making of What If…?” episode of the Marvel Studios: Assembled docuseries in which Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige gives a key moment of insight on Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After speaking on how the studio had many plans for various movies after Avengers: Endgame, he says, “but it was Disney+ – and the idea of Disney+ – that really allowed us to roll up our sleeves and do things we hadn’t done before.”

The whole gimmick of the MCU from the beginning has been that it’s operated somewhat like a television series. Each movie serves as an “episode”, and each phase is a season of sorts. While the level of standalone-ness versus required knowledge varies, these films are all part of an overarching story. So to actually dive into the television series format only seemed like a natural fit for the studio.

RELATED: The MCU’s Problem With Tackling Mental Health

Now, here we are, over a year and nearly a dozen projects into Phase 4, including six Disney+ series – WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, What If…?, Hawkeye, and Moon Knight. They’ve shed light on characters fans already knew, introduced new heroes and villains, and shown alternate versions of the MCU. And in doing all this, they’ve managed to take the franchise to places the movies both haven’t, and can’t go to.

Stronger Relationships

With a lot of the MCU movies, we’re constantly told how close certain characters are, but we’re not actually shown those relationships that often. The supposed “family dynamic” of the Avengers is frequently discussed in their movies, but only a few individual relationships between members of the team seem fully fleshed out and ring true. Disney+ provides much more breathing room for characters to develop team dynamics, and though we have yet to see a group as big as the Avengers operate together on the platform, the ones that have been shown are promising in that regard.

This franchise’s romantic relationships in particular tend to be notoriously unseasoned. With the way the movies operate, there just doesn’t seem to be enough time given to properly develop a couple enough to make the audience strongly root for them as a duo. Obviously, these are superhero movies first and any romances are secondary, but some of them feel nothing more than obligatory inclusions rather than an actually worthwhile part of the story.

Like many other MCU couples, Wanda and Vision felt sort of thrown together until WandaVision showed viewers what made them work. Loki also had a romance at its core and, despite that relationship’s controversial nature, it would be hard to argue that there wasn’t enough time dedicated to its development. Moon Knight did a great job catching viewers up on a pairing that was formed offscreen (even though they threw a bit of an unnecessary love triangle in there for no apparent reason).

Character Studies

The characters themselves are definitely what benefit the most from the miniseries format. The movies simply don’t have the time to allow audiences to get to know every single one of the heroes in a meaningful manner, and that’s where Disney+ comes in.

The ability to spend more time with the leads and even the side characters than in a movie gives them room to breathe, and the audience more opportunity to connect with them. While this has been a great way to explore characters who have appeared in the movies more deeply, Hawkeye and Moon Knight have also proven it can be a great way of delivering origin stories, with more time dedicated to fleshing out new heroes than a first solo movie can usually provide.

Many fans have noticed the theme of exploring trauma within Marvel’s Disney+ series. There’s usually at least one episode with this as a main focus, in addition to it being sprinkled throughout the others. This, perhaps above all else, is what has made things like WandaVision’s exploration of grief and Loki’s themes of self-acceptance and free will possible, and these have been the shining moments of this franchise’s streaming side so far.

Stories like these simply cannot be told properly in a typical superhero movie with all the other bells and whistles it needs to include first and foremost. In a series, there’s plenty of time for Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes to both fight an enemy Captain America and go to a PTSD therapy session, or for Wanda Maximoff to mess up a town with sitcom antics and explore her past in order to get a better grip on her grief.

Getting Weird

As Kevin Feige said, the Disney+ side of Phase 4 is where the Marvel team has been able to really get weird. The assumption being operated under appears to be that the fans tuning in for these shows are all caught up on the movies and are more likely to be really into the MCU, which has allowed the producers to take off the training wheels and just throw viewers into whatever world they’ve cooked up.

Some MCU movies take on the characteristics of certain genres (like Captain America: The Winter Soldier as a political thriller and Ant-Man as a heist movie), but they haven’t been able to dive as deeply into them as WandaVision did with sitcoms and What If…? did as a semi-anthological series. They’re still superhero stories, of course, but there’s been more true genre-melding on the streaming side of things than in the films.

RELATED: Doctor Strange 2 Shows That the MCU Combines With Horror Surprisingly Well

In addition to this, the Disney+ projects are less afraid of being weird and less formulaic even within the realm of typical comic book genre stuff. Loki dove right into the strangeness of time travel and multiversal threats, and several of its best received scenes and episodes emphasized dialogue over action. Surprisingly, Moon Knight took a similar approach with scaling back a lot of the actual superheroes in favor of a more character-based story.

While the MCU Disney+ shows have started to develop somewhat of a formula of their own (think “trauma tour” episodes and CGI fight-fest finales), as a whole, they’re definitely making more of a statement than a lot of the big screen offerings of Phase 4 thus far. The MCU was inspired by the television format, and now it’s actually producing television that may well come to define the post-Infinity Saga era of the franchise.

The post Disney+ Is Where Marvel’s Phase 4 Is Truly Shining appeared first on ComingSoon.net.

- Anthony Nash

Xbox and Microsoft Flight Simulator are partnering with the upcoming film Top Gun: Maverick to give players a chance to be their own Mavericks through a new expansion to the well-received flying game.

RELATED: Top Gun: Maverick Review: Tom Cruise Fulfills Your Need for Speed

This free Top Gun: Maverick expansion isn’t exactly new, as the project was confirmed last year, but was eventually pushed back due to the film itself being delayed a full year before releasing now. The latest expansion to the game, aptly named Top Gun: Maverick Expansion, allows players to experience what it’s like for actual Top Gun pilots to develop some of the skills necessary for piloting a jet.

Check out a brief trailer for the expansion below:

The expansion contains a Maverick Edition livery for the F/A-18E Super Hornet vehicle, special training missions that will introduce players to the various radical flight maneuvers, five high-speed, low-level challenges through mountains and canyons, a special, never-before-seen hypersonic aircraft, and a mission that lets players soar up and through the stratosphere.

While Microsoft Flight Simulator is no stranger to collaborations, this is one of the few times that the game has branched outside of the aerospace world and partnered up with an entertainment product. Past partnerships have included one with Aerosoft to release a highly-complex aircraft into the game. Xbox itself is also hosting a giveaway for a special, limited-edition Top Gun: Maverick Xbox Series S for the next three weeks as well.

RELATED: Xbox Flies Into Danger Zone With Top Gun: Maverick Console Giveaway

Top Gun: Maverick is set in a world of drone technology and fifth-generation fighters, and explores the end of the era of dogfighting. Maverick is now a flight instructor, who takes Bradley Bradshaw, the son of Maverick’s late partner Nick “Goose” Bradshaw, under his wing.

The post Microsoft Flight Simulator’s Top Gun: Maverick Expansion Out Now appeared first on ComingSoon.net.

- Anthony Nash
Blue Beetle Set Photos Show Xolo Maridueña in Full Costume

Production has officially started on Warner Bros.’ upcoming film Blue Beetle, and now fans can get a great look at the character in his full suit thanks to some new set photos.

RELATED: Susan Sarandon Replaces Sharon Stone in WB’s Blue Beetle Movie

While fans already had a good idea of what to expect from the suit thanks to DC’s DC FanDome event late last year, new set photos featuring star Xolo Maridueña (Cobra Kai) donned in the full costume show exactly what fans can expect when the film premieres next year.

Check out the photos of Maridueña as Blue Beetle below:

Can’t believe they pulled off this suit in live action 👌🏻🔵🔥 #BlueBeetle pic.twitter.com/GiOBTrozSg

— Cris Parker (@3CFilmss) May 25, 2022

THE BLUE BEETLE SUIT JUST LEAKED AND IT LOOKS AMAZING pic.twitter.com/HA3bGFhKV8

— sabrina 🦇 (@nightwaynes) May 25, 2022

i've been waiting to see blue beetle in a movie for so long bro i'm so excited pic.twitter.com/ZBy7AA6CoE

— 🅻 (@lesbobomb) May 25, 2022

It’s like Blue Beetle literally jumped off the comic book pages. This suit is so damn good!! pic.twitter.com/Qm5574iLp8

— The Moonlight Warrior 🌙 (@BlackMajikMan90) May 25, 2022

BLUE BEETLE LOOKS SO GOOD pic.twitter.com/APKhEC38so

— AJ #FlashPack (@AjepArts) May 25, 2022

The blue beetle suit is literally the most accurate looking suit I’ve seen in a minute! Looks great! pic.twitter.com/QQULt5O9q9

— DinahCanary (@Canarygrayson) May 25, 2022

The Blue Beetle movie will be directed by Angel Manuel Soto (Charm City Kings) from a screenplay adapted by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer (Miss Bala). Cobra Kai breakout Xolo Maridueña stars in Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Films’ first stand-alone Latino-led superhero movie as Mexican American teenager, Jaime Reyes.

Joining Maridueña are Harvey Guillén (What We Do in the Shadows), Brazilian star Bruna Marquezine (Breaking Through) as Penny, and Belissa Escobedo (Sex AppealHocus Pocus 2) as Milagro Reyes,  George Lopez (The Spy Next Door) as Uncle Rudy, Adrianna Barraza (Babel) as Nana, Elpidia Carrillo (Predator) as Rocio, and Damián Alcázar (Narcos) as Alberto.

Originally set as an HBO Max original film, Blue Beetle is now scheduled for an exclusive theatrical release on August 18, 2023. It will be executive produced by Zev Foreman of Warner Bros. with John Rickard set as a producer.

RELATED: George Lopez, Adriana Barraza, and More Join WB’s Blue Beetle Movie

In the comics, Jaime Reyes was the third character in the comics to take on the mantle of the Blue Beetle following Dan Garret and Ted Kord. His powers came from a Blue Beetle scarab that grafted itself to the base of Jaime’s spine, allowing him to have a suit of extraterrestrial armor that can be modified to enhance his speed and strength, as well as create weapons, wings, and shields.

The post Blue Beetle Set Photos Show Xolo Maridueña in Full Costume appeared first on ComingSoon.net.

- Michael Leri
TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge Gets Signature Edition & Special Physical Version

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is making its way to digital storefronts sometime this summer, but it’s also getting a few physical versions, too. DotEmu and Tribute Games revealed a standard physical edition for the game, as well as a more expensive collector’s edition.

COWABUNGA! Kick shell with the boys in a bodacious beat-em-up on PS4, Switch & XBOX!Our release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge comes to LRG + major retailers this year! Tune in to LRG3 on 6/6 for a Collector's Edition reveal! Hang tight for more info, dudes! pic.twitter.com/Pbc5BW5fAr

— Limited Run Games (@LimitedRunGames) May 24, 2022

Limited Run Games is handling the physical variation, as is the case with a lot of smaller titles. The Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One version comes with a cleaner, reversible cover as well as sprite stickers and an art booklet. Given the extra goodies and the usual premium on Limited Run Games’ games, it’ll likely cost more than the downloadable one on digital storefronts, but the price has not yet been revealed for either. The tweet says is it coming “this year” as opposed to this summer, which backs up DotEmu’s earlier tweet saying that is was releasing after the digital version’s launch.

RELATED: TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge Preview: An Extremely Promising Throwback to a Classic Title

Get the ultimate slice of turtle action with @TMNT #ShreddersRevenge Signature Edition version 👀

Fully loaded with a pin set, keyring, signed art card, metal coaster & pizza-box CD soundtrack! 🍕🍕🍕

Comes with a random TMNT eye mask! Who will you get? 🟠🟣🔴🔵@Dotemu pic.twitter.com/c8gnpnp96I

— Signature Edition Games (@SigEditionGames) May 24, 2022

This comes alongside the TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge Signature Edition. This more premium bundle with contain sprite pins of the four Turtles, its soundtrack, a drink coaster that looks like a manhole cover, a pizza keyring, a booklet, a special outer sleeve, a Shredder keyring, a signed piece of art, and a randomly selected Turtle mask (as well as the game, which isn’t always the case). It also doesn’t have a price, but looks like it will be significantly more expensive than the other versions. Signature Edition Games also does releases for European territories, and this specific version hasn’t been announced for North America.

RELATED: Expensive TMNT: The Cowabunga Collection Limited Edition Pre-Orders Go Live

However, there is still a collector’s edition on the way (presumably) coming to North America, which is likely to have at least some of the same items. Whatever it ends up being will revealed on June 6 during Limited Run Games’ LRG3 presentation where the company will reveal its slate of upcoming games. The company held the same event in 2021, too.

The post TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge Gets Signature Edition & Special Physical Version appeared first on ComingSoon.net.

- Spencer Legacy

ComingSoon Associate Editor Spencer Legacy spoke to Shoresy stars and hockey vets Brandon Nolan and Jon “Nasty” Mirasty about their characters and the show. Shoresy will debut on Hulu on May 27, 2022.

“Foul-mouthed, chirp-serving, mother-loving Shoresy join the Sudbury Bulldogs of the Northern Ontario Senior Hockey Organization (The NOSHO) on a quest to never lose again,” says the official series synopsis.



Spencer Legacy: Was it ever confusing trying to remember when each Jim spoke in each scene?

Brandon Nolan: Yeah, it was. Getting there, we didn’t know who would speak first. I noticed right away that I was Jim number two. So if I read the script and I focused on, Jim-two lines and I’d always follow Nasty, Jim number one. So if he said and spoke, I knew I was next. They kept it pretty easy for the Jims.

Jon “Nasty” Mirasty: Yeah, actually Jordan was my go-to guy. I didn’t really study the scripts, I’m an old-school guy. I found that I followed Jared Keeso a lot, right? So when Jared Keeso would be speaking, it was kind of good too, because he’d always look at me and acknowledge that I was up. So yeah, it was pretty cool, but being the three Jims was definitely a different experience, to be able to know our roles.

Did you know going in that you would all be Jim, or was that one of your ideas?

Jon “Nasty” Mirasty: When I first got the transcripts, I looked and we see three Jims. So it was a bit confusing at first, but now that you watch the storyline, it makes it quite funny and enjoyable.

Awesome. And Brandon, what was it like working with your brother on the show?

Brandon Nolan: Oh yeah, it was awesome, anytime we get together with my brother. We do a lot of work in our Indigenous communities. So anytime we get a chance to get together, it’s always fun. And this was no exception. This was absolutely an amazing experience, getting to work with my brother then Nasty, and a couple of other guys on set. And obviously Keeso, just a genius. So we had a lot of fun in those six weeks in February.

Jon “Nasty” Mirasty: I think it was great. Obviously, I never met Brandon or Jordan through our careers, but we obviously knew who each other were. It made the transition to … we’re first time actors where, you know, it was nice, because it was almost like a hockey setting, being on the road with a bunch of guys, visiting the dressing rooms and in the rooms and hotel rooms. So it was really a good transition to have all three of us and a couple other guys, and like Jared is almost a hockey guy too, so it really made it easy for us.

John, you got into a lot of fights in your hockey career and there’s a fair amount of fighting in the show. Did your real life scraps kind of prepare you for those scenes?

Jon “Nasty” Mirasty: I got in trouble a few times because they always said, “what about 30%?” And when I fight, I don’t have 30%. So I think we might have accidentally cut a few guys open while we were trying to do the imitation fights. But yeah, I mean, obviously I think Jared brought us in for a reason, to make the fights look a little bit more real. A lot of these hockey shows, you watch the fights, they look fake, you know? So Jared did a really good job of bringing us in and being able to explain how to make it more of a real fight or how you’d do in that scenario. So yeah, but I think the biggest challenge I had was trying to go 30% when I’m only used to going 100% .

Brandon following up on that, were a fair amount of creative liberties taken when portraying the hockey games or was it pretty realistic?

Brandon Nolan: Oh yeah, it was super realistic. I remember filming the one with … some of the scenes. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but something would happen or we’d like film something. It was like, “holy man, like that looks really real.” And then just some of the stuff like … so we’re mostly all hockey players trying to act.

So they didn’t find actors and try to make them hockey players. They went out and got real hockey players. So the hockey aspect of the show was totally real, totally relatable. So it looks really crisp and clean. And I think a lot of the die-hard hockey fans, not only of Letterkenny, but hopefully new Shoresy fans here are going to absolutely love the hockey.

I’m Canadian too, so I really liked how the locker room scenes felt completely accurate to a real locker room. Was it a lot of improv or was that all scripted?

Jon “Nasty” Mirasty: Like we said about Jared, he’s really good at, at that area of hockey, you know? So having all these hockey guys in there, we were even switching our stalls around. It made it more realistic, how we did it when we played pro hockey and stuff. So having a group of guys that have actually played the game and have been there really helped, and improvised and made it a very interesting show.

John, now that you’ve given acting a try, are you interested in pursuing more roles?

Jon “Nasty” Mirasty: It was definitely an experience that’s for sure. Jordan and Brandon and I have all spoken … yeah. It’s something fun, and something that I definitely would keep trying to continue to do. [I’m] not getting any younger though. But it was a lot of fun and like I said, I really appreciate Jared bringing us on. It was a great time.

Brandon, what were your thoughts when you were first approached to be a character on the show?

Brandon Nolan: Yeah, I’ve said it a couple times. I honestly thought it was a joke. One of the producers, Kara, reached out to myself about my brother Jordan being on the show. And she just mentioned … I knew what Letterkenny was. I knew how big it was. And she said, “we’re gonna create a Letterkenny spinoff called Shoredy. Would you guys be interested?” So I called my brother right away. I’m like, “we just got asked to be on this new spinoff LetterKenny show. I think it’s a joke. I think someone’s messing with us.”

And then we just ended up talking to Kara a bit more and then found out more about like the show and how they wanted myself and my brother and Nasty, the three Jims altogether to be a part of the show. And like, after reading it and Kara explaining how they envisioned the show to be, it was just like, wow, so honored to be asked to be part of something really cool. So it just started off as a joke and then I’m glad I took the call and took it seriously.

John, you’ve had a horse farm, you’ve owned Tim Hortons, you’ve played hockey, you’ve acted. Are there any other career avenues that you’re really interested in checking out?

Jon “Nasty” Mirasty: Yeah I’m a man of many careers! I’ve just enjoyed it time at a time. And like I said, I take everything for the day that I’m there and it’s fun. Those all prepared me for the stuff that I do nowadays. And it’s awesome. But you know, horses, like you said, is my passion. So I really focus on that and just keep giving her.

Brandon Nolan: Going to be a model next!

Jon “Nasty” Mirasty: Yeah, like I said, I’m better looking than Brandon.

Brandon, which job has more pressure hockey or acting?

Brandon Nolan: Oh, geez. That’s a tough one. I mean, I always felt pressure with hockey just because you wanted to perform well. And I mean, I always had some level of pressure every game, just as you wanted to be great when you played hockey. But with acting, it was really tough, especially at the beginning. I remember like the first day, two, three days, Keeso would like run his lines and I’d just be there beside him, but the hardest thing was trying not to laugh.

That was, for me, trying not to laugh was the hardest thing and after day two, I’m like, “how am I going to do this?” Not mess up the scenes and laugh. So for me, I felt a lot of pressure trying not to laugh at at the jokes that would be said, because sometimes he’d say things that didn’t end up making the show or he wanted to try like a new scene or a new way to do it. And I was dying inside. So for me that was like the toughest part, a lot of pressure not to laugh.

What’s your favorite Tim Horton’s order?

Jon “Nasty” Mirasty: Double double. That’s what I usually go to that’s my go to double double and the steak and egg sandwich.

That’s a good that’s mine too.

Brandon Nolan: Yeah, just a simple, medium, regular and got to go with an apple fritter. So if I get those two on a daily basis, I’m a happy man.

Brandon, you had heard of Letterkenny, Jon, had you heard of Letterkenny before the show or were you a fan?

Jon “Nasty” Mirasty: I was kind of laughing at Brandon’s story. I was the same thing when I was first approached by Kara. I thought it was a joke and I’m not much of a TV guy, so I’ll be honest. I didn’t know what Letterkenny was until I told my wife and she Googled and she goes, “oh my God!” Now that I’m fully aware of it, I can’t believe the popularity. It has, even local guys in my hometown can’t believe [it], “oh, you’re part of Letterkenny or the Shoresy show!” So it’s actually a very popular show, but I guess I’m just too stuck on the farm and hunting and being a cowboy that I don’t get to experience the television that much.

The post Interview: Shoresy Stars and Hockey Vets Brandon Nolan & Jon Mirasty appeared first on ComingSoon.net.

- Anthony Nash

Rumors of who might appear in Marvel Studios’ upcoming Fantastic Four film have been circulating for some time, with one of the biggest rumors being that Bryce Dallas Howard will star in the film. According to the actress, though, there’s no truth to the matter.

RELATED: Fantastic Four MCU Movie Loses Director Jon Watts, Kevin Feige Issues Statement

During a recent press event for the upcoming Jurassic Park Dominion, a fan was caught in a TikTok video giving Howard a Funko Pop of Susan Storm — aka the Invisible Woman — who is a member of the Fantastic Four. Howard was quick to laugh off the move, and said that nothing about the character involved her, although she did note she would sign the item for fun.

“I mean, I know [this doesn’t] involve me or anything,” Howard could be heard saying in the video. “I swear to God, I swear to God. Yeah, yeah, for real. Total rumors. Total rumors.”

While it’s unknown whether or not Howard will end up in the role, she isn’t the first actress to be rumored to appear in the upcoming film. Last year, Emily Blunt and her husband John Krasinski were speculated to be the duo cast for Reed Richards and Susan Storm, with Krasinski even appearing as an alternative universe’s version of Richards in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

As of now, not much is known about the upcoming Fantastic Four movie. The film was originally set to be directed by Jon Watts (the Spider-Man MCU films), but last month, it was announced that Watts had withdrawn from the project.

Loosely based on Marvel’s Ultimate Fantastic Four comic series, the previous Fantastic Four film from 2015, which starred Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan, was mired in controversy from the start, including a controversial tweet from director Josh Trank sent the day the film opened, lamenting the quality of the final cut. The film went on to gross just $56 million at the domestic box office with a global total of $167 million. It reportedly cost about $120 million to make.

RELATED: Marvel Studios’ Fantastic Four Gets a New Pre-Production Update

Previous to this version Tim Story directed two big-budget versions, 2005’s Fantastic Four and 2007’s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, which grossed a combined $619 million worldwide. Roger Corman infamously produced a completed-but-shelved version of The Fantastic Four in 1994, which was never meant to be seen and was only made to secure the rights for a future version, though bootlegs widely exist.

The post Bryce Dallas Howard Responds to Fantastic Four Casting Rumors appeared first on ComingSoon.net.

- Anthony Nash

When Disney’s Loki series returns for its second season in the future, it’ll do so without director Kate Herron, who is stepping away from the series after its first season.

RELATED: Loki Is Marvel’s Most-Watched Series on Disney+, Season 2 Production Start Confirmed

“I was on the show for like three years in total,” Herron said in a recent interview with Variety. “I just felt like I poured everything into it. It’s almost like a campfire story that every filmmaker kind of brings their take and their perspective. I just felt like I gave so much to this. I was like, ‘You know what, I feel like this was my effort for Loki. I felt like having someone new and with fresh eyes — that, for me, is what will make a good season.”

Herron also briefly touched on wrapping the first season, a moment that she said included everyone standing around on set of The Citadel at the End of Time and crying, as well as a speech from star Tom Hiddleston.

“We all went into the office of the Citadel and stood in a circle. Everyone was crying because we couldn’t believe it was over,” said Herron. “Tom did a beautiful speech, and because he’s such a gem, he thanked everyone individually.”

While we don’t know much about the upcoming second season of Loki, writer Michael Waldron — who served as head writer on Loki and as a writer on Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness — told Deadline earlier this month that the team behind the series had found “new emotional ground to cover.” Production is set to start on the second season soon.

RELATED: Tom Hiddleston: Loki Coming Out Was a ‘Small Step’ but Important

Season 2 of Loki isn’t expected to air until early 2023. It’s currently unknown exactly what the season will address, especially following the chaotic end of the first series, which set up Kang as one of the bigger villains in the overarching Marvel Cinematic Universe while seemingly transporting Loki into a different universe entirely.

The post Loki Director Kate Herron Reveals Why She Didn’t Return for Season 2 appeared first on ComingSoon.net.

- Jonathan Sim

It’s time to feel the need for speed once again as Top Gun: Maverick roars into theaters. On Monday, May 24, photographers and journalists lined the AMC Magic Johnson in New York City to catch a glimpse of the stars that lead the newest action blockbuster starring Tom Cruise as the iconic hotshot pilot, Maverick. Cruise was not in attendance at the red carpet event, but his presence loomed large as discussions of the Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One trailer, which dropped earlier in the day, spread through the floor.

RELATED: Mission: Impossible 7 Trailer Previews Dead Reckoning Part One

Stars of the film that arrived included Jennifer Connelly, who portrays Penny Benjamin, a single mother who owns a bar. She serves as Maverick’s love interest, a character previously mentioned in the original Top Gun as an admiral’s daughter. Another actor from the film who arrived at the Harlem premiere is Jay Ellis, who portrays Lieutenant Reuben “Payback” Fitch. Payback is one of the Top Gun pilots Maverick trains in this high-adrenaline cinematic event. Ellis went through a demanding training process for the film, where he and his co-stars spent three months learning how to fly real F-18s to perform the aviation sequences practically.

“I’m gonna say it’s probably our last day all on the boat together,” Ellis said when asked about his favorite memory from the film. “We shot on the Theodore Roosevelt carrier out at sea for a week and we all sat down and realized that we would never be on a carrier again. Like, we just had this moment – we got shot off the carrier all together. And as we were loading into the plane, we all kinda turned and looked at each other and realized that six other actors have done what we’ve done and we’re all on the same movie. It’s such a singular experience and to like keep that sacred and keep it here because it was a really amazing thing.”



“After more than thirty years of service as one of the Navy’s top aviators, Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him,” says the official Top Gun: Maverick synopsis. “When he finds himself training a detachment of TOPGUN graduates for a specialized mission the likes of which no living pilot has ever seen, Maverick encounters Lt. Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller), call sign: ‘Rooster,’ the son of Maverick’s late friend and Radar Intercept Officer Lt. Nick Bradshaw, aka ‘Goose.’ Facing an uncertain future and confronting the ghosts of his past, Maverick is drawn into a confrontation with his own deepest fears, culminating in a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those who will be chosen to fly it.”

RELATED: Top Gun: Maverick Review: Tom Cruise Fulfills Your Need for Speed

This film is nothing short of epic—a breathtaking cinematic experience that deserves to be seen on the big screen. The screenplay balances the epic action with an emotional center, and director Joseph Kosinski does a phenomenal job helming the film’s high-speed aerial sequences. Top Gun: Maverick surpasses the original and delivers on every level that a movie lover could hope for.

The post Jay Ellis Recalls Favorite Memory From Top Gun: Maverick at NYC Premiere appeared first on ComingSoon.net.

- Michael Leri

Dimensional Ink Games’ Marvel massively multiplayer online game wasn’t exactly officially announced, but it has been officially canceled. Parent company Enad Global 7 canned the unnamed MMO to focus on its other games like The Lord of the Rings Online and DC Universe Online, as well as its own “new game opportunities.”

As spotted by GamesRadar, EG7 explained this shift to its other games in a post on its website. (For additional context, EG7 is Daybreak’s parent company and Dimensional Ink is a subsidiary of Daybreak Games.)

“Based on the re-evaluation of the development risk profile, size of investment, and the long-term product portfolio strategy for the group, the board has decided to change the development priorities and reallocate resources within the group to focus on alternative long-term projects,” reads the post. “The company had planned to invest more than SEK 500 [Swedish krona] million in the Marvel project over the next three years. The company will now diversify this investment across multiple, smaller size projects within the group, including the previously announced major upgrades to The Lord of the Rings Online and DC Universe Online, and new game opportunities with our first party, original IPs.”

RELATED: Marvel Card Battler Announced From Ex-Hearthstone Devs

This game wasn’t announced with a trailer or teaser image, but through a financial report. It spoke plainly about Marvel MMO that was being developed at Dimensional Ink Studios in Austin, Texas and how it was being led by Jack Emmert, who also worked on DCUO and City of Heroes. Emmert recently left the company and became the CEO of Jackalope Games, a studio under Chinese conglomerate NetEase, which could have possibly signaled this cancelation.

This is also the second time this game has been axed, since Daybreak Games supposedly canceled its last Marvel MMO after a bout of layoffs. A few pieces of art from that game found their way to the internet in 2019.

RELATED: Xbox Reportedly Turned Down Marvel Deal, Leading to Spider-Man’s PlayStation Exclusivity

The post Daybreak’s Marvel MMO Has Been Canceled appeared first on ComingSoon.net.

- Spencer Legacy
MultiVersus’ Inspired Visuals & Costumes Shine During Closed Alpha

MultiVersus‘ announcement did little to inspire confidence that it would be anything but a cheap cash-in platform fighter. Nickelodeon’s Smash Bros. clone was unfortunately pretty weak, so it would make sense that yet another new developer would fail in the same ways. But MultiVersus‘ impressive closed alpha has been a pleasant surprise, especially from a visual standpoint.

Not only does MultiVersus maintain one single (appealing) visual style for all of its characters, but it does so without losing the personality behind each one. Bugs Bunny doesn’t look jarring next to Superman, which is a feat by itself. The fact that a Game of Thrones character aesthetically fits in with cartoons and superheroes goes to show that this game is doing its best to fix what Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl couldn’t, without turning any of the distinct characters into bland knockoffs.

RELATED: The Lord of the Rings: Gollum Release Date Revealed for Later This Year

The character that most exemplifies the visual excellence of MultiVersus has to be the Ice Climbers-esque duo fighter, Tom & Jerry. Their attacks are animated perfectly in comparison to their cartoons, as the pair tries to whack one another with hammers and various other comical weapons for most of their move set. They’re almost incidentally hitting the opponent as they carry on with their eternal game of cat-and-mouse. It’s an inventive style that’s as fun to look at as it is to actually play around with, and that’s coming from someone who never really cared for these characters as a whole.

That’s not to say Tom and Jerry are the only ones with this sort of polish, as there are little details that make each character stand out. The best one is Batman’s idle animation, which sees him assume his silhouette pose that’s straight out of Batman: The Animated Series. MultiVersus nails Batman’s brooding pose as he morphs into the darkness, as well as his taunt where he pulls various objects out of his utility belt, including a presumably spray can filled with shark repellent. These two animations cater to both types of Batmen — the dark and the goofy — which is a fitting representation of MultiVersus itself.

MORE: Why Evil Dead Isn’t a Good Fit for a Multiplayer Video Game

Even the alternate costumes are intriguing to look at. Samurai Batman, Task Force X Harley, Shaggy’s … Uncle Shagworthy? The choices range from cool to bizarre, but they’re so different that you can’t help but admire the deep cuts Player First Games is making. Plus, this eccentric cast and their wild secondary costumes show that Player First Games and Warner Bros. could probably handle essentially any franchise with care. Given the roster’s already eclectic variety, there will likely be a lot of beloved properties like Animaniacs and Harry Potter that could do quite well in this style, all while drawing in fandoms of every type.

If MultiVersus gets the same level of polish in its gameplay that it has so far in its visual style, it could shape up to be the most worthy Smash Bros. competitor yet. The reverence shown for the included franchises is incredible, and I can’t wait to see the rest of the roster that will get the MultiVersus treatment.

The post MultiVersus’ Inspired Visuals & Costumes Shine During Closed Alpha appeared first on ComingSoon.net.

- Maggie Dela Paz
Take The Night Trailer Previews Seth McTigue’s Upcoming Crime Thriller

Saban Films has released the official trailer and poster for the forthcoming crime thriller film titled Take The Night, featuring a surprise birthday party gone wrong, as two brothers try to protect their crypto fortune from career criminals. The film is set to hit the theaters on July 8, followed by its VOD and digital releases on July 12.

RELATED: Sci-Fi Thriller Rubikon Gets First Trailer and Poster

The film is written and directed by Seth McTigue, who will also be starring as Chad, alongside Roy Huang as William Chang, Brennan Keel Cook as Todd, Sam Li as Robert Chang, Shomari Love as Shannon, Antonio Aaron as Justin, and Grace Serrano as Melissa.



“An inventive, edgy crime thriller, Take The Night is a twisted tale of sibling rivalry and family secrets,” reads the synopsis. “An elaborate surprise birthday stunt heads into increasingly dark places when career criminals hired to stage a fake kidnapping go rogue. Older brother William secures a crew to stage a fake kidnapping of his brother Robert. But the crew has plans of their own. The brothers must put aside their sibling rivalry if they want to save the family fortune.”

RELATED: Ali & Ava Trailer Starring Adeel Akhtar and Claire Rushbrook

Producers are McTigue, Julien P. Bourgon, Franco Sama, and Todd McTigue, who is also serving as the editor. It is executive produced by James Andrew Felts, and Ryan Bury.

The post Take The Night Trailer Previews Seth McTigue’s Upcoming Crime Thriller appeared first on ComingSoon.net.

- Spencer Legacy

A new video on the official One Piece YouTube page has revealed what various Marine and World Government characters will look like in One Piece: Film Red, including former members of Cipher Pol 9.

RELATED: Hunter x Hunter is Coming Out of Hiatus

The new designs for Marines Momonga, Issho, Borsalino, and Sakazuki, as well as World Government members Blueno, Kalifa, and the Five Elders are all seen in the short video below. While some of the characters look quite similar to their usual designs, former CP9 members Blueno and Kalifa sport vastly different outfits than when they were last seen in the CP9 Independent Report manga arc.

RELATED: One Piece Film Red Reveals Uta’s Child Design

One Piece‘s next film will focus on Shanks, the leader of the Red Hair Pirates and one of the Four Emperors. Shanks is an important part of the series lore as he inspired protagonist Monkey D. Luffy to become a pirate and gave him the straw hat that he now wears.

One Piece Film: Red is directed by Goro Taniguchi (Code Geass) with a script written by Kuroiwa Tsuto (One Piece Film Gold). The creator of One Piece, Eiichiro Oda, is an executive producer for the film. The movie premieres on August 6, 2022 in Japan.

The post One Piece Film Red: Marine & World Government Designs Unveiled appeared first on ComingSoon.net.

- Tyler Treese

ComingSoon spoke with Teen Titans Go! star Tara Strong about the newly-released crossover film Teen Titans Go! & DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem in the Multiverse, where she voices three main characters, plus her roles in Metal Gear Solid and more.

In Teen Titans Go! & DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem in the Multiverse, the Teen Titans and DC Super Hero Girls must team up to battle Lex Luthor and his Legion of Doom as they enact a plan that could defeat even the Justice League.

Tyler Treese: A few actors have worked on both shows, but this movie had to be super special for you having main roles on both. How special was it to see these two worlds collide?

Tara Strong: It was so special. Don’t you think it was a special movie? It was so much fun. It was really funny. It had a lot of heart, a lot of magic, a lot of fun. I mean, I laughed a lot watching this movie and you’re right. To be able to play Raven in such an important role in the world of Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go! to play her is such a treat. And then of course, to play Batgirl is like the biggest honor. Oh, and then you get to play Harley Quinn too, which is another big honor. All these super intricate characters, you get to play them at funny stages in their lives right now, and at teenage stages in their life, and these funny stages and teenage stages go together in this movie to create a pretty entertaining adventure. It’s pretty fun to see them get together.

Speaking of emotional moments, Raven has a great scene with Zatanna that I thought was a real highlight in the film. What was it like to really share a moment there?

What I loved about that moment. I love, love in this movie, the elements when they’re with the Teen Titans Go!, or the moments that Teen Titans Go! are featured. I laughed every single time. I think it’s almost like every movie now needs to be intercut with Teen Titans Go! so that people laugh, it was just so great. AIn the moment where Zatanna is feeling very insecure, because she didn’t get them where she was supposed to go. Raven is there to make her understand she’s not alone, and that’s everything about Raven. Raven as a character has saved lives around the world with people feeling alone. Like no one is like me or no one wants to meditate or no one wants to read or whatever it is.

I’ve had so many people saying, “I love Raven. I relate to her so much,” so to play Raven on Go!, which is like a really fun, silly world, and to have people love that version too is really exciting. Then for her to need her in her intelligence from the other realm, right, where she’s saying, “Hey, I understand what it feels like to be tortured by a demon and want to be a good person.” It’s like a real moment of people who are still crying for season six, and I’m with you, and Go! sort of come together because she has this very real moment where she’s saying, “Do you think you just came here by accident? Or was it meant to be that I was here to teach you this lesson that’s going to save the day?” So it’s kind of this fun. That’s why multiverses are so fun when they’re really clever. It’s a clever little moment.



Batgirl is such a great leader for the DC Super Hero Girls. What has been your favorite aspect of Barbara to explore in the series?

Well, she’s a lot sillier than other versions and Lauren Faust really had that vision for her, which surprised me initially. But it’s been fun to embrace the lighter side of her. I certainly played her in a more real world in the original Batman series. So it’s been fun. It’s been fun to explore her as a quirky teenager.

With that said, this show’s also been particularly fun because we explore the relationship with her and Harley, which is so conflicted and challenging because really, one works for the good guys and one works for the bad guys, and to see how they interact with each other while navigating high school and very real emotions alongside with very real-world consequences that could end the planet. It’s just been a really, really special time to play both of them back-to-back exploring this part of their friendship and seeing how much they love each other. And they have to navigate this thing that really divides them.

We see a lot of plot development with Harley Quinn in this film. Can you speak to her arc and growth during the series?

Well. It was really cool because in the beginning, you think she’s over it with her, and to have that empathy still in her and to remember what this person means to her and what that person’s world means to her and not wanting to hurt that and having second thoughts about these people who she’s now devoted her life to, it was really interesting to have her just show up and you think, “Oh, oh, there is still a good person in there,” which is probably true for all bad guys. There’s somewhere in there is a good person. It’s nice to see that Harley shows up for Batgirl in that way.

You’re also voicing Harley Quinn in MultiVersus, which is such a fun idea with all of the wild crossovers. I imagine that the recording sessions for that are a blast?

So much fun. I just have so much fun. I got to tell you yesterday, I did a game with her and it was four hours straight. Sometimes with other games you can get cranky, because it’s like, even if you’re not doing a hundred death sounds, talk for four hours straight, it gets you tired. But I never get cranky with Harley. I’m like, “What is she going to do next?” She’s just like therapy for me. We get to scream. We get to be crazy. We get to be vulnerable. Every time I’m playing her, no matter what world she’s in, it’s just fun.



My favorite video game series is Metal Gear, and you wonderfully voiced Paz. So what was your reaction when you found out about the whole scene with the bombs being embedded with her?

A lot of times at Comic-Cons people will bring me a Paz thing to sign and they’ll be like, “It’s so sad how she died.” I don’t know if this is a PG interview or not, but I will have to explain to my handler how she dies. It’s like, really sad and strange, tragic, anyways, but she was a great character to play. She was a great character to dive into in terms of her life story. I had a really good time voicing her.

I believe you did facial capture for that as well. Is that something you do often? How was that experience?

I would say often, yeah, not all the time, but the technology on that moves very quickly. Like, you could have done one six months ago and now, the way they do it is totally different. A lot of it is based on like, painting little silver dots on your face, and then there’s a camera and there’s a light. I think the most challenging thing is to have a light right in your face while you’re looking at the script and then trying to be in the moments. That’s the only real challenge, it’s not uncomfortable. It’s fun to be able to give animators that much to play with.

You already have such a huge fanbase and you recently joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the voice of Miss Minutes. That character has really grown into a life of its own. How wild has that reaction been because as far as fandom goes there’s nothing quite like the MCU?

I know. I was really surprised. First of all, when I booked it, I didn’t even know what it was. It was very top secret. And I was actually shooting an on-camera series in Toronto, and I voiced it from like, my makeshift closet in Toronto, and I got on the Zoom and it was like all these Marvel people. I was like, “Wow.,” and I found out exactly what it was and they already had it prerecorded. So I got to act off the scenes on Zoom. So I was with [Tom] Hiddleston but not quite. It was so beautifully shot that I think I knew it was going to be special, but I still didn’t know how people were going to react to this very beloved franchise to suddenly having an animated character. Before it even came out, they said, “Don’t comment on it.” And of course, the internet sees the commercials and are like, “This is Tara Strong!” and I’m like, “I am not allowed to respond yet.” Thankfully, once I was allowed to respond, it was pretty fun. The love for that character’s been so hilarious and rewarding and it’s super fun to be a part of the MCU. I get invited to other premieres. It’s fun.



It’s been so cool watching Teen Titans Go! really get embraced by fans after an initial backlash of it not being exactly like the old series. How has it been seeing that growth? Now you have plenty of old fans enjoying it and then a whole new generation as well.

It’s really exciting, and I meet fans at Comic-Cons all the time, where the family’s cosplaying the entire Teen Titans and they all love Go! And you know, you’re right, initially, there was this backlash, and it’s because the show was left on a really pivotal story arc. I get that everyone wants Season 6, and so do all the actors. I think it would be genius to do both at the same time. They’re two different shows, they’re completely different shows. So I think people initially were just more disappointed that it wasn’t the continuation of what they were expecting, but not actual hatred for the show because it’s always been pretty great. It’s pretty funny. So to see the fans embracing it now is super rewarding because we are all the same people and we all still exude all the same love in the room, except that we laugh a lot. So we’re pretty happy that people are laughing with us now, too.

You’re also voicing Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, where you get to be more violent and mature. How has it been getting to play all these different sides of her?

I’m just the luckiest girl. It’s so much fun. It just really is, it’s just so much fun. Every time I open a script and it has Harley on it or Batgirl, or Raven, it’s just fun, you know? And to explore them in different universes. We’ve been multiverse with these characters before they created these movies that are so fun to watch, and this one is really fun too.

The post Interview: Tara Strong Discusses Teen Titans Go! & DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem in the Multiverse appeared first on ComingSoon.net.

- Anthony Nash

A live-action scripted television show based on the manga and animated series Speed Racer is in the works at Apple, with J.J. Abrams set to executive produce.

MORE: Andor Season 2 Plans Revealed by Star Wars Showrunner

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Abrams will be attached to a series that will see Hiram Martinez (Snowpiercer, Get Shorty) co-write the project as well as serve as showrunner. The report mentions that Martinez’s “exciting take” is said to have impressed the likes of Apple, Bad Robot, and Warner Bros. Ron Fitzgerald (Westworld) is attached as the other co-writer and showrunner.

Not too much is being said about the upcoming series as of yet, but The Hollywood Reporter does note that it’s “been in the works for years” and comes from Abrams and Bad Robot’s overall deal with Warner Bros. TV. After landing at Apple, the show has been slowly making its way through the development phase, with writers and other crew being brought on in what was described as an “excruciatingly slow” process.

Speed Racer was created by Tatsuo Yoshida as a manga in 1966, and quickly took the world by storm. The series was adapted into an anime in 1967, which ran for 52 episodes before another anime, Speed Racer X, was released decades later in 1997. That series was adapted for American audiences by Nickelodeon in 2002, but only ran for 13 episodes before licensing disputes between DiC and Speed Racer Enterprises caused the series to stop running.

MORE: Cobra Kai Season 5 Has Found Its Newest Sensei

In 2008, a live-action film based on the series was released, with the Wachowskis (the Matrix series) acting as directors. The film premiered to mostly negative reviews and didn’t perform well at all at the box office, but has since grown a massive cult following, with many reversing their original takes on the film and calling it underrated as the years have gone by.

The post Live-Action Speed Racer Series From J.J. Abrams in Development at Apple appeared first on ComingSoon.net.

- Anthony Nash

The Star Wars-based Disney+ series Andor is set to debut sometime later this year and will focus on the early adventures of Diego Luna’s Rogue One character. According to the series’ showrunner, plans for a second season are already underway.

RELATED: Star Wars: Andor Reportedly Reduces Planned Season Count

Speaking to Vanity Fair, showrunner Tony Gilroy corrected a few rumors that had begun circulating about the upcoming series, namely that the droid K-2SO (played by Alan Tudyk) would be in the series. Gilroy said that wouldn’t be the case, but that fans could perhaps see that story unfold in a second season, which also seemed to confirm that a second season was in the works.

“We don’t have Alan Tudyk,” Gilroy said. “Not yet, anyway. It is a second season, but it’s really, for me, the second half of the novel. This first season is about him becoming a revolutionary, and the second 12 episodes take him into Rogue One.”

Disney+’s Andor features Diego Luna as he reprises his role of Cassian Andor. Set five years before the events of Rogue One, the series will follow the adventures of the titular hero rebel spy during the formative years of the Rebellion. It will explore tales of espionage and daring missions to restore hope to a galaxy in the grip of a ruthless Empire. The additional cast also includes Star Wars newcomers Denise Gough, Stellan Skarsgård, Kyle Soller, and Adria Arjona.RELATED: Andor: Succession Composer to Score Disney+ Star Wars Series

Andor is executive produced by showrunner Tony Gilroy, who previously directed the reshoots for Rogue One. Gilroy was originally expected to direct the three episodes but was forced to give up the position to Black Mirror‘s Toby Haynes due to pandemic-related travel issues. Production is currently underway in the United Kingdom.

The post Andor Season 2 Plans Revealed by Star Wars Showrunner appeared first on ComingSoon.net.

- Tyler Treese

ComingSoon is excited to debut The Royal trailer for Samuel Goldwyn Films’ upcoming baseball biopic based on the life of Willie Mays Aikens. It stars Amin Joseph (Snowfall), Andrea Navedo (Jane The Virgin), Michael Beach (If Beale Street Could Talk), Nic Bishop (Truth Be Told), and Dallas Young (Cobra Kai). The true story baseball drama will be released in theaters on July 15.

The Royal tells the story of iconic former Kansas City Royal slugger Willie Mays Aikens, whose promising career quickly turned disastrous because of drug addiction,” says the synopsis. “Aikens, to this day a World Series home run record holder, was entrapped by tricky cops and ultimately sentenced to the longest prison sentence ever given to a professional athlete in a drug case. The Royal is an intimate portrait of a man taking the hard circumstances of his life and turning them around against all odds, as he seeks redemption with his estranged family and friends (including George Brett), with baseball, and ultimately with himself upon his release from prison.:

Check out The Royal trailer below:



Directed by Marcel Sarmiento, it is produced by Scott Resnick, Amin Joseph, Rick Montgomery, and Gregory Jordan.

The post Exclusive The Royal Trailer Previews Willie Mays Aikens Biopic appeared first on ComingSoon.net.

- Maggie Dela Paz

Universal Pictures has released the official Beast trailer for its forthcoming pulse-pounding survival thriller, starring Idris Elba. The film is scheduled to hit the theaters on August 19.

The video, which you can check out below, introduces Elba’s character as a father fighting for his and his daughters’ survival against a massive lion.



RELATED: Three Thousand Years of Longing Trailer Shows Idris Elba as Tilda Swinton’s Genie

Beast is directed by Baltasar Kormákur from a screenplay written by Ryan Engle based on an original story by Jaime Primak Sullivan. Joining Elba are Iyana Halley (The Hate U Give, This is Us series) and Leah Sava Jeffries (Percy Jackson and the Olympians).

“The film is pulse-pounding new thriller about a father and his two teenage daughters who find themselves hunted by a massive rogue lion intent on proving that the savannah has but one apex predator,” reads the synopsis. “Elba plays Dr. Nate Samuels, a recently widowed husband who returns to South Africa, where he first met his wife, on a long-planned trip with their daughters to a game reserve. But what begins as a journey of healing jolts into a fearsome fight for survival when a lion, a survivor of blood-thirsty poachers who now sees all humans as the enemy, begins stalking them.”

RELATED: Pachinko Renewed for a Second Season at Apple TV+

Beast is produced by Will Packer, the blockbuster producer of Girls Trip, the Ride Along franchise, and ten movies that have opened No. 1 at the U.S. box office, and by James Lopez, president of Will Packer Productions. It is executive produced by Jaime Primak Sullivan and Bernard Bellew.

The post Beast Trailer: Idris Elba Leads Universal Pictures’ Survival Thriller appeared first on ComingSoon.net.

- Tyler Treese

To celebrate its release on 4K Ultra HD, ComingSoon spoke with Malignant director James Wan about his return to the horror genre, what inspired the shocking film, and his dream horror projects.

“In the film, Madison is paralyzed by shocking visions of grisly murders, and her torment worsens as she discovers that these waking dreams are in fact terrifying realities,” says the synopsis.

Tyler Treese: I love that the film isn’t afraid to be strange and fun. From a narrative perspective, how freeing is it to work within the horror genre where people are wanting to buy into monsters and in the supernatural? It seems like there’s more of a built-in amount of suspension of disbelief there.

James Wan: You know, that’s a really great question. I do think that playing in a genre that has a sandbox, if you will, that allows people to kind of know what they’re coming into already helps a lot. And it does, it frees me up to then cook up a strange and interesting world for people to sort of inhabit this space. That’s part of my love for the horror sci-fi genre is you can kind of come up with a really out-there story, and people are more willing to accept it, you know? That’s a big part of why I love making these films.

This is your first horror film since the success of Aquaman. What were the biggest lessons you learned from the blockbusters that you worked on, that you were able to apply for Malignant?

I always say that I learn from every movie I make regardless of what genre they’re in. And I just apply everything that I’ve picked up over my years of making movies and doing TV and just storytelling in general. So I don’t have a specific thing I would say that I picked up, particularly from the bigger sort of movies I’ve made, maybe the obvious thing is I’ve picked up the knowledge on how to use certain toys and tools, if you will. Having played with sort of bigger pieces of equipment meant that going to making any of my movies, I kind of know roughly what I have at my disposal in terms of my filmmaking bag of tricks.



I read that you and your wife Ingrid were inspired by the urban legend of Edward Mordrake. You clearly have a great eye for horror and stories, so what really stood out about that myth that inspired this?

Well, interestingly enough, when Ingrid sort of brought the idea of an evil twin concept to me, I was like, “Oh you know, that’s cool,” but then I feel like we’ve sort of…the evil twin concept is almost kind of cliche and more used as a joke than anything these days, but the more we talked about it and the more we sort of fleshed out the concept of like, an evil twin that actually isn’t out there, but still lives inside of you was what made it really exciting. And then of course, then we did more research and then we found the story of this particular urban myth, or urban legend. And, it just said to me how weird this idea can be, and that’s part of the fun for me. I like strange and weird things, and I do that in all my movies. It doesn’t matter what genre I make them in, that may explain why I’m more drawn to the world of Aquaman, just because it allows me to come up with weirder and wonderful, strange characters and creatures, right? And it’s really no different for horror as well. Whether my villain is a traditional monster or my villain is a human monster. It’s just part of a package of what I love about horror filmmaking, or filmmaking in general.

Ray Chase is great as the voice of Gabriel and he’s such an accomplished voice actor in games and in anime. So how did you find him, and how did working with him come about?

We just auditioned. I listened to a lot of voices and at one point, we thought about maybe doing stunt casting. Casting someone who’s kind of well-known or famous if you will, to play the voice of Gabriel, but then I thought maybe that may take away from this character, you know? One moment, I fantasized that Michael Keaton would voice Gabriel, which could have been very interesting, but at the end of the day, I decided to not go with someone recognizable. So that way, I feel like you’ll be sort of more drawn into what this character is, his plight, and you’re not trying to go, “Oh my God, that’s so-and-so, famous actor, playing the voice.”

Do you ever look to horror anime as an influence?

You know, it’s funny. I grew up with, obviously with cartoons, animations. I didn’t necessarily grow up with the horror anime. So I wouldn’t say that that was necessarily my biggest influence. I would obviously, as I’ve pointed out in many of my interviews, that my biggest influence was the Italian horror films that I grew up with, and also just sort of like eighties schlock video horror. So, my idea was like, how do I make those kind of films, but sort of bring it to sort of a modern, updated sensibility and to do it at an elevated level.



In 2008, you put together this awesome Dead Space trailer. Is space horror something you’d like to explore more in the future?

I do. I feel like that is probably the sort of sub-genre of horrors that I would love to play in. The probably two that I would love to play in for me personally, if I were ever to direct them, it would be space horror and the zombie genre as well. I want to do my own version of what I feel a zombie movie can be. The perfect thing would be to blend those two together, space horror, space zombies. We’ll see if we ever get to anything like that.

The male lead here, George Young, is so great in his role as a detective. He’s also of Malaysian Chinese descent. Can you speak to just getting to cast him in such an action-packed role?

Yeah, I mean the great thing about Malignant is I was able to just cast whoever I want. I’m not sort of beholden to necessarily need to cast specific people to try make the budget work or to try and get financing and all that. So it just allowed me to pick the people that I wanted to work with the most, and George was one of those people. And, also obviously Annabel Wallace, whom I had worked with before that I really love, she’s so great. And it was just fun to try and discover new people, and the opportunity obviously to work with a fellow Malaysian or one of Malaysian Chinese ancestry was very exciting for me, because I’m always trying to dig into my roots. I mean, as far back as my first movie, working with Ken Leung, I’m always trying to find places to include sort of Asian actors in my work, given that I’m Asian, and I’m always trying to keep that door open for my people, if you will.

The post Interview: James Wan Reflects on Malignant, The Freedom of Horror appeared first on ComingSoon.net.

- Kaleb Smith
Destiny 2: How To Get The Strident Whistle Bow (& God Rolls)

The Strident Whistle Bow is a new weapon in Destiny 2 that players can now get their hands on with the launch of Season of the Haunted. What stands out most about the Strident Whistle is that it is an easily farmable Solar bow. Furthermore, the Strident Bow is a Legendary weapon and it has one of the best perk pools available in Destiny 2, let alone for bows. There are some perk combinations that will probably be missed below, but only because there are almost too many great options to list out.

Despite the fact that there are no Anti-Champion Bow Mods for Destiny 2: Season of the Hauntedplayers should still grab their ideal roll for the Strident Whistle as soon as possible. As a Solar weapon, the bow synergizes with the Solar Subclass rework in Destiny 2 as well, and it will be a great option to have whenever Anti-Champion Bow Mods return to the game. Additionally, this is the only Legendary Solar bow that can be obtained in-game without having to participate in a Raid. No other activity has this type of combat bow available to earn in Destiny 2, so it's something special just by being a bow that deals Solar damage.

Related: Destiny 2: How To Get The Beloved Sniper Rifle (& God Rolls)

The Strident Whistle is available to all players, whether they remain free-to-play or experience the paid-for content. This bow is a Vanguard playlist reward in Destiny 2, which means players can farm it just by completing Strikes from the Destination tab. For an extra chance of earning Strident Whistle, players should equip the Prosperity (Vanguard) Ghost mod as well.

The three best strings for the Strident Whistle are FlexiblePolimer, and Elastic, and all three apply to both PvP and PvE builds in Destiny 2. The arrow options are relatively similar, with Straight FletchingFiberglass, and Helical Fletching taking the top three spots for both activities as well, but Carbon Arrow Shaft can also work for PvE. Ultimately, for the third column perks, players should seek a Strident Whistle that has Archer's Tempo above everything else. The perk is amazing on any given bow whether it's for PvP or PvE, but Rangefinder is a more than acceptable substitute. Similar to the Dead Weight Shotgun in Destiny 2, the Strident Whistle has almost too many great PvE perk combinations to count. However, many of these options can also be applied to PvP as well:

1. Rangefinder/Incandescent, Rampage, Adrenaline Junkie, Opening Shot, Successful Warm-up, Explosive Head - All fantastic PvP options for the Solar bow.2. Archer's Tempo/Incandescent, Rampage, Adrenaline Junkie, Successful Warm-up, Explosive Head - Solid neutral ground perk combinations that can be used in both PvE and PvP.3. Archer's Tempo/Opening Shot - Specifically built for PvP.4. Moving Target/Opening Shot, Adrenaline Junkie, Successful Warm-up, Explosive Head - All great PvP options as well.5. Archer's Tempo/Dragonfly, Vorpal Weapon, Wellspring - Specifically built for PvE.

Next: Destiny 2: How To Get The Riptide Fusion Rifle (& God Rolls)

Destiny 2 is available on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Google Stadia.

- Grace Haseltine
Bling Empire: 14 Times Anna Shay Stole The Show | Screen Rant

Bling Empire is one of the newer and most entertaining reality shows on Netflix. From the luxury to the drama to tension in relationships, fans can't help but stick around and see what happens in this friend group's interesting lives. Anna Shay is one of the popular faces on the show, and she has deemed herself one of the fan-favorite cast members.

When drama arises, fans are always on the lookout to see how Anna is doing, even when the situations aren't related or directed towards her. Anna Shay has taken the title of the most likable from the show, and there are plenty of moments where she shines past every other person, even when it's not her time to.

Updated on May 25th, 2022, by Lynn Gibbs: Anna Shay is a mega-star in the Netflix reality series Bling Empire. Anna Shay's age means nothing to her as she lives her life to the fullest as one of the oldest members of the friend group. She's the voice of reason and stability that the young cast sometimes needs. However, that's not to say that Anna doesn't push people's buttons. With thick skin and a strong personality, it's Anna's world and everyone else is just living in it. 

At Kane and Kelly's truffle and diamond party, Anna was confused when the invitation didn't say a dress code. Realizing that she could wear whatever she wanted without backlash from the hosts, she grabbed fellow cast member Jaime Xie, called Alexander McQueen, and "went shopping."

RELATED: 10 Of Kane's Best (And Worst) Friendship Scenes

With high-end designer Alexander McQueen on her contact list, Anna is more connected than viewers realize. Sadly for her, her great fashion moment was tainted by Kane's bad friend moment with Kevin after getting into a fight at his party.

Anna and castmate Christine Chiu didn't have the best relationship in season 1. They bickered about status and it drove a wedge between them. At the start of season 2, the two were on a better page but that quickly changed when the two got together for a one-on-one chat.

In one scene, Christine went to Anna's to see her new home. The day went poorly when Anna didn't think Christine was being authentic enough and told her to be "real." They then had an even bigger ordeal at the end of the season after Christine heard that Anna was spreading a rumor about "ending" Christine. Her one-liners and insults in these scenes were diabolical.

Damon Baker is a notable and reputable photographer who has shot everyone from Post Malone to Cole Sprouse to Robert Pattinson. He's edgy, talented, and works with high-end designers and celebrities.

Not only did Baker join Anna Shay at one of the group's dinners but he also asked to photograph her. Anna is not a model and was nervous to be in front of the camera but considering what a big deal Baker is, she took the plunge. This was yet another moment Anna stole the show.

The Bling Empire cast knows that Anna Shay is a woman of power, good taste, and has high-profile friends.

In season 2, she threw a party to celebrate her old house because she moved out of it and into her new Bel Air mansion. Funny enough, Anna showed up late to her own party with a very well-known icon on her arm, singer and performer Paula Abdul. Her friends and guests of the party were shocked to see Paula and rushed to greet her.

At a dinner party in season 1, Anna has a peek at the nametags on the table to see who is sitting next to one another. After some tension between her and Christine, Anna makes it clear that she will not lose the fight. She moves Christine's nametag far away from Anna and her friends, and it doesn't take long for Christine to notice that she's left out of the group.

Anna seems unbothered and says that if Christine wants to play games to bring it on. Even though these petty games happen, Anna is a likable and relatable Bling Empire character.

Anna seems to get along with Kim fairly well in season 1, but after Anna invites her and the group over to her home, things turn for the worse. Kim and Guy begin to snoop around her home, and they get caught after Kim throws one of the items outside in front of everyone.

Anna approaches them calmly, but there is no doubt she is upset and embarrassed by Kim's actions. Kim does not apologize, and Anna concludes that she has misjudged Kim's character. Fans loved Anna's mature response to the situation and the fact that she admits to making a mistake in Kim's character. Her reaction to Kim made her one of the best characters on Bling Empire

It is a tradition to celebrate a baby's 100 days of life, and Cherie decides to go all out for the party. She plans a very formal party, and the group all shows up to celebrate. It's clear that the party is less about the baby and more about Cherie getting her friends together and chatting, but Anna is not afraid to think the same way.

RELATED: 10 Quotes That Prove How Rich The Cast Is

She has a fun time jumping into a ball pit, and it startles the guests. Anna thinks that the party is a bit too serious for a one-year-old and that it is contrived. Anna can see outside all of the riches and think logically about the real purpose of the party. Despite all the quotes that show how rich the cast is, Anna keeps it real.

Anna doesn't go down without a fight, and the argument with Christine still stands. Anna tells Christine what time her party is in season 1, but when Christine comes, the party is basically over. She finds out that Anna gave her the wrong time, and when she confronts her about it, Anna does not seem to care.

Anna admits that she made her invitation later so she doesn't have to deal with her. It was both a hilarious and sad moment in the series since fans felt bad for Christine but were impressed by Anna.

Viewers did not expect such a scene in the show, but Anna holding a sledgehammer and smashing down a wall from her Beverly Hills mansion in season 1 is what made fans fall in love with her. Jumping from this scene to an interview with her decked out in luxurious clothes and jewelry, she admits that it is important to have fun.

Despite Anna's net worth or how she made her money, Anna stands out from the rest of the members of the show with her down-to-earth personality and her willingness to have fun without being embarrassed.

Christine is always trying to make it to the top with Anna in season 1. She compares her luxuries to Anna's, hoping to be seen as having the same status as her. Anna admits that she does not understand the obsession Christine has with her, nor does she care.

It's only when Anna feels attacked that she will strike back, and Anna later says this quote about how Christine will never be able to compete with what she has been born into. While Anna doesn't show it off, she is one of the richest on the show, and she is aware of her competition without making it a big deal.

After receiving a nice pair of shoes from Anna's fitting, Kevin first reacts happily about the shoes, but later begins to feel guilty about accepting the gift so Anna gives him great advice. As many great friendship scenes as Kevin and Kane have, this was a special one between Kevin and Anna. She tells him to never be impressed by things, but rather be impressed by people and who they are.

In a materialistic world of fortune and riches, fans were shocked to hear Anna share this piece of advice. However, Anna would be the one to say it out of the others. She is a humble person who is devoted to her friendships and the people she loves.

As kind as Anna can be, she is not afraid to speak her mind. When she sees Kevin in an outfit, she admits that he has his own fashion sense. Then she says that it's not a good thing. Her humor is what completes the show, but her confidence also radiates from herself. As a model, Kevin's fashion sense works for him, and it doesn't hurt that his thousands of Instagram followers like what they see.

RELATED: Most Popular Bling Empire Cast Members, Ranked By Instagram Followers 

Her witty comments and straight-on quotes are what make fans never forget about her. That's not to mention her fashion taste is superior. Still, Anna remains kind to Kevin and helps him out in other aspects during the show's two seasons.

There is plenty of drama in the show, but there can also be some serious situations. While Kelly and Andrew are in a relationship and get in many fights, Anna can see how he is gaslighting her and sees the overall toxicity between them.

Anna remains by Kelly's side in season 1 and helps her get through the tough moments, and fans admire how caring she is to the ones she loves. While Anna is helpful, she still throws in her witty comments and lighthearted humor, which helps the tension and drama.

Anna has lived her life in the shadows. Joining the show at age 60, not many people have heard of her before her appearance on the show. She is quiet on social media and overall lives a secret life. So when she drops details about herself, she no doubt gets the viewers' attention.

Even when fans learn more about her, from owning multiple homes to always wearing rings even if it's with a pair of jeans and a t-shirt to her wisdom, there is still a mysterious side to Anna that intrigues fans. Anna truly steals the show with her mere presence. She lives such an intriguing life that a spinoff reality show revolving around her Bling Empire life would be sensational.

NEXT: 13 Best Reality Shows Like Bling Empire

- Jake Dee
Love, Death & Robots: 13 Scariest Stories, Ranked | ScreenRant

Content Warning: The following article contains spoilers for the Netflix show Love, Death & Robots.

Season two of Tim Miller's Love, Death & Robots debuted on Netflix on May 14, 2021, instantly becoming one of the Top 10 most-viewed TV shows on the streaming service. Reduced from 18 episodes to eight, season two seems more focused on the highest quality of animation rather than a large number of stories. However, both seasons feature genuinely unnerving tales of technological terror.

In addition to the thematic human vs. robot motif, several of the animated shorts also feature humanity facing off with evil aliens, mutated monsters, deadly demons, ghoulish beasts, savage serial killers, and more. These have led to some of the absolute scariest episodes from Love, Death & Robots so far.

Updated on May 25th, 2022 by Hannah Saab: The recently released third season of the award-winning Netflix anthology series Love, Death & Robots has given viewers even more terrifying and wildly entertaining stories. It's the perfect time to see how new fan favorites like 'Jibaro' and 'In Vaulted Halls Entombed' stack up against the scariest Love, Death & Robots episodes from the first two volumes.

13 Automated Customer Service (Volume 2, Episode 1)

In what plays like an animated version of Scream's infamous opening scene, 'Automated Customer Service' plays on the universal fears of a sentient robotic uprising. Set in an upscale assisted living community for seniors, a woman is relentlessly stalked by her robotic vacuum, with her dog unable to do anything about the assault.

RELATED: 10 Unpopular Opinions About Love, Death & Robots (According To Reddit)

With tentacular hoses, bat-like lint traps, metal rods, and other impossible gadgets, the robot goes into unstoppable "Purge Mode" and begins destroying everything in sight. The meta-horror movie tropes, alarming musical stings, and inescapable claustrophobia are both fun and frightening, but the cutesy animation helps make the entire episode more comical than scary.

12 Helping Hand (Volume 1, Episode 11)

Equivalent to 127 Hours meets Gravity, 'Helping Hand' is a nauseating story about an incredibly smart astronaut named Alexandria who becomes marooned in outer space and is forced to make a grave decision to ensure her survival. In addition to the spooky atmosphere and crippling silence of outer space, the horror escalates when Alex attempts to repair an external satellite.

After a piece of debris punctures her air supply, her oxygen level rapidly decreases. Knowing she doesn't have much time left, Alex opts to lop her own arm off in order to reach safe haven. Its bloody scenes are definitely almost too painful to watch, but the setting is so unique and specific that viewers likely won't be staying up at night thinking the same thing could happen to them.

11 Sonnie's Edge (Volume 1, Episode 1)

The inaugural episode of Love, Death & Robots was so determined to terrify its viewers that the episode ends with the query "Are you scared yet?" The gritty dystopian cyberpunk episode 'Sonnie's Edge' is full of grotesque mega-monsters and hyper-gory violence. The story concerns Sonnie, a skilled fighter in deadly underground tournaments featuring otherworldly creatures. The first battle takes place between a vicious sharklike biped with lashing tentacles and a hulking rock mutant of some kind.

With brutal eruptions or gore, the story boasts a jarring twist ending. Viewers who are bothered by body horror may cover their eyes during the bloodiest scenes, but that's where the horror ends for this episode.

10 Life Hutch (Volume 2, Episode 7)

In one of the few instances to feature a live actor, 'Life Hutch; adds a level of veracity that increases its overall terror. The episode follows Terrence, a downed astronaut on a barren planet who must make it to shelter until reinforcements arrive. Once he enters the shelter, Terrence is immediately accosted by a gigantic quadrupedal robot that resembles a ferocious guard dog with a glowing green eye.

RELATED: 10 Best Horror TV Shows, According To Reddit

The simple story is an exercise in visceral terror as Terrence is trapped inside a small room where he must use his mind to outwit the relentless killing machine. There are hair-raising moments where it seems the protagonist may end up dying, but the satisfying ending means fans don't have to stay up at night wondering what happens next.

9 Shape-Shifters (Volume 1, Episode 10)

Due to the startling left-turn that it makes in the final 10 minutes or so and given the superbly realistic CGI, 'Shape-Shifters' is one of the most unsettling episodes of the show. The characters are also authentic and well written that true sympathy is felt for their plight.

Two U.S. Marines with extrasensory powers stationed in Afghanistan begin to sense something afoul with one of their own. After investigating, a rabid race of hyper-violent werewolves is revealed as a newfangled military weapon to fight enemies. The episode has no shortage of grisly gore and harrowing shocks, but its heartfelt story counteracts some of the terror fans may feel during its gruesome action sequences.

8 Bad Travelling (Volume 3, Episode 2)

'Bad Travelling' introduced audiences to one of the least likable characters in Love, Death & Robots, Torrin. It revolves around a crew's experiences dealing with an intelligent crustacean called a thanapod, who has come aboard their ship demanding to be taken to Phaedin island.

Torrin sacrifices one crewmate after another, deeming them unworthy of life after they choose to kowtow to the thanapod's requests. Each grisly death is more horrific than the last, but it's the thanapod's spine-chilling ability to control and speak through the crew's bodies that result in truly disturbing scenes. The episode thankfully spends more time with the humans than the thanapod, which means it isn't pure horror all the way through.

7 The Tall Grass (Volume 2, Episode 5)

In a deft blend of tension, suspense, and dreadful atmospherics, 'The Tall Grass' is a genuinely mortifying episode. With absolutely stunning CGI, the story follows Laird, a train passenger whose curiosity gets the best of him when the locomotive breaks down in the middle of nowhere.

RELATED: 10 Best Anthology Series On Netflix

Surrounded by rows of tall grass with flickering bulbs of light, Laird investigates and suddenly runs into a band of freakishly mutated alien monsters with huge mouths and countless razor fangs. The deliberate pacing and sudden eruption of violence make the story extremely creepy, which is why fans probably find themselves breathing a huge sigh of relief when Laird escapes without a scratch in the end.

6 All Through The House (Volume 2, Episode 6)

Although it's one of the shortest episodes in the series, 'All Through the House' asks viewers to identify with their inner child during Christmastime. This adds to the vulnerability of the story, which features perhaps the scariest version of Santa Claus on Netflix.

Billy and Leah wake up in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve to the sound of what they believe to be Santa delivering presents. Eager to catch Saint Nick in the act, the two kids are scared to near-death when a hideously repulsive, slimy pink ghoul with giant fangs slowly approaches them. When the ghoul vomits a neatly wrapped Christmas gift, the kids realize it was Santa Claus all along. It's definitely something that will haunt some viewers during the holidays.

5 The Witness (Volume 1, Episode 3)

'The Witness' is the most heart-pounding and viscerally thrilling episode in the entire series. With jolting and kinetic camerawork, sublime CG animation, and fiendish ferocity, the story serves as one protracted chase sequence.

After witnessing a murder through her apartment window, the killer spots The Woman across the alleyway. Determined to end her life, as well, the killer indefatigably hunts The Woman through the graffiti-strewn streets of Japan. The Witness is as wicked as they come with unmatched style and intensity to go with barbarous stints of carnage. The hair-raising twist that it's an endless loop is bound to cause some viewers discomfort.

4 Swarm (Volume 3, Episode 6)

The Volume 3 episode 'Swarm' is quickly gaining notoriety for its unique premise and unforgettable twist. It's centered on the titular being, which has been around for millennia. The two humans in the story – Simon and Galina – make the terrible mistake of underestimating the Swarm, which leads to Galina being brutally mutilated and controlled by the creature's new intelligent caste.

RELATED: 10 Best Quotes From Love, Death & Robots

The Swarm explains that humanity is just a blip in the timeline compared to how long the hive has been around. It's that unpleasant conversation through Galina's corpse that makes the episode a particularly horrifying one. When it dawns on viewers that humans will eventually be absorbed by the Swarm, a new kind of terror is felt. Simon's naive optimism likely does little to convince audiences that there's any hope for the future.

3 Jibaro (Volume 3, Episode 9)

The instantly-iconic and powerful Golden Woman is introduced in 'Jibaro', which is arguably the most popular episode from season 3 of Love, Death & Robots. Set in a beautiful rainforest, the episode's visuals are only secondary to its sound design, which is inextricably linked to the story itself. It depicts the Golden Woman (also called the Siren) as she lures men to their violent deaths through her blood-curdling screams.

Even though the concepts explored in 'Jibaro' are never fully explained, the narrative showing the Golden Woman's brutal interactions with the sole survivor leaves a lasting impression on viewers. The metallic sounds, desperate screams, and frantic camerawork all create an unnerving viewing experience unlike anything else on the show so far.

2 Beyond The Aquila Rift (Volume 1, Episode 7)

With a haunting existential terror bound to linger with viewers and shake them to the core, 'Beyond The Aquila Rift' is often hailed as being among the best episodes of Love, Death & Robots. Rather than scaring viewers with visceral onslaughts of violence, the story goes places no other has dared.

The episode concerns a space crew grappling with the reality of traveling too far into the cosmos. However, the story builds up to one of the most hellish and nightmarish conclusions imaginable as the crew enters uncharted territory. The big reveal that Greta is actually a disgusting arachnid parasite feeding a simulated reality to Thom induces dread like no other episode does. There's also the terrifying scene where the alien reveals itself for the first time, which is likely seared into fans' memories for all the wrong reasons.

1 In Vaulted Halls Entombed (Volume 3, Episode 8)

Love, Death & Robots delves into cosmic horror in the Volume 3 episode 'In Vaulted Halls Entombed.' The episode starts by getting fans frustrated with a classic horror trope, as a group of soldiers pursues a clearly doomed mission by going deeper into an alien-infested cave. The climax and the most horrifying part of the story happen when the last two survivors confront the eldritch horror in the center of the cave.

It's impossible not to feel scared after seeing the huge chained deity whose chants seem to hypnotize one of the soldiers. As if that isn't terrifying enough, the lone survivor Harper is forced to remove her own eyes and ears to resist the creature's commands. The haunting shot of her walking into the sunset as she mutters an alien language will stay with fans long after they're done binge-watching the show.

NEXT: 10 Plot Holes In Love, Death & Robots

- Jamie Russo
GTA Online PS5 Guide: How To Get Started With A New Character

If a new character is created in Grand Theft Auto Online on PlayStation 5, players will receive $4,000,000 and the option to choose a criminal career path. This starting bonus will only be available for the first character that's created, so choosing the right career path is important, and it can be a difficult decision for those who have never played before. Each business will introduce players to missions and help them start earning money. However, some career paths are better than others, especially for new players.

The Career Builder is a new feature in GTA Online for next-gen consoles that has a one-time use for the first character created. However, each profile on a PlayStation 5 can use the Career Builder and cash bonus for their new character. Choosing a career can be a difficult decision, and new players may not know where to start because the descriptions that are listed for each criminal empire are limited. To choose the best career path, players will need to fully understand their options. There are also some tricks for getting started with a new character that doesn't have access to the Career Builder.

Related: How to Earn Unlimited XP With Payphone Hit Exploit in GTA Online

Choosing the best criminal career path will depend somewhat on the player's needs. Some careers are better for making cash while others are cheaper and leave players with more money to start with in GTA Online. However, only a maximum of $1,000,000 can be kept. When choosing a career, there will be a few location options as well as available upgrades, vehicles, and weapons to start with. The $4,000,000 cash bonus won't cover all available perks, so choosing the right options may determine the level of difficulty players will have in progressing their criminal careers.

If the Executive criminal career path is chosen, then players will be able to select an Office and become the CEO of an organization. There are several benefits that can be taken advantage of, such as being able to request a luxury helicopter or bribe the authorities for a set fee. Owning an Office is also a prerequisite for buying Office Garages, Vehicle Warehouses, and Warehouses. There are free vehicles available to CEOs as well, and owning an Office will give players access to heists and other businesses to earn a steady income. The Executive career can be chosen by solo players to gain multiple methods of earning money in GTA Online. The easiest criminal career path for new players to get started with is the Executive, and it's also one of the best choices for money-making.

Choosing Gunrunner will give players the most profitable criminal empire, and it's another career that can be progressed while playing solo. The Bunker property will give players a passive source of income as well as various special missions that can be completed for a profit. Stealing or buying supplies for the Bunker will give players the option to sell their stock by completing a mission. There are also 51 different projects to research by assigning staff to the research team instead of having them manage stock. Completing research will unlock new weapon and vehicle mods, but only one project can be worked on at a time. The Bunker location in GTA Online isn't very important, so players can choose the cheapest option so they have more to spend on upgrades, weapons, and vehicles. For those focused solely on making money, the Gunrunner career is the best choice. However, Gunrunner is a more difficult career option than Executive.

Owning a Nightclub isn't as profitable as the other criminal career paths, but it's the easiest business to run out of the four. Players can complete missions to promote the Nightclub and earn a passive income. Any cash that's earned needs to be collected from the office inside the Nightclub, so players will need to occasionally return to the property to grab their money. The safe inside the Nightclub has a capacity of $250,000, and how quickly the limit is reached depends on the club's popularity.

Related: GTA Online: All Treasure Hunt Locations

Although this career path has the lowest income, it's one of the more enjoyable properties that can be owned. Players can walk around, visit the bar, and hit the dance floor in their Nightclub in GTA Online, and the missions for gaining popularity are entertaining. Becoming a Nightclub Owner is a fun experience, but it's not recommended for new players that want to earn a decent amount of money.

The Biker criminal career path will make players the President of a Motorcycle Club, and there are a few perks to take advantage of with this choice. One of the more notable perks is the ability to ride in formation with other club members to heal, gain a speed boost, and regenerate armor. There are unique missions to complete as well as side businesses that can be started to earn income. There are five businesses in GTA Online that can be run by an MC President, but the Cocaine Lockup and Methamphetamine Lab are the most profitable. Only one of each type of business can be owned, and they all have several locations to choose from. Running a Motorcycle Club is a bit more complicated than being a CEO, but it's still a solid career choice that can eventually become very lucrative.

The first new character on each PS5 profile can use the Career Builder and cash bonus, but any additional characters created will need to start at the beginning. After completing the tutorial, players will have a lot of different options, so it can be difficult figuring out where to start. Even without the Career Builder, there are ways to quickly earn money, such as completing heists in GTA Online. Buying an apartment will give players access to a heist planning room, as well as a garage for storing vehicles. There are a variety of free vehicles to claim on different websites that can be accessed via the in-game phone.

Whether players are starting with Career Builder or diving in without any advantages, the ultimate goal should be to work toward owning multiple businesses. The four options in the Career Builder aren't the only businesses that can be run, and owning additional properties can unlock new money-making options. For example, owning an Arcade will unlock the Diamond Casino Heist and give players another source of passive income. As players expand their businesses and complete heists, they'll be able to unlock better weapons and vehicles as they rank up in Grand Theft Auto Online for PlayStation 5.

Next: How To Sell Property In GTA Online

Grand Theft Auto Online is available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.

- Kaleb Smith
Destiny 2: How To Get The Dead Weight Shotgun (& God Rolls)

The Dead Weight Shotgun is one of the newest weapons in Destiny 2, and it has an amazing perk pool for multiple rolls to earn throughout Season of the Haunted. Dead Weight is a Rapid-Fire Frame Shotgun that, as many veteran players are aware of, isn't optimal for any PvP activity. Rapid-Fire Frame Shotguns have terrible range in Destiny 2, but the possible PvE rolls that players can earn make this Shotgun well worth acquiring.

Dead Weight also deals Arc Energy damage. While Destiny 2, Season 17 focuses on Solar 3.0 builds, players can expect Arc 3.0 to emerge in Season 18. Farming the best Dead Weight Shotgun rolls for any future PvE activity is something that players should keep in mind with the final subclass update on the horizon. Fortunately, the new Shotgun is something that all players can earn because it is a reward from one of the playlist activities.

Related: Destiny 2: How To Get The Riptide Fusion Rifle (& God Rolls)

By completing Gambit matches in Destiny 2, players have a high chance of earning Dead Weight rolls with the activity's Prosperity Ghost Mod equipped. As a playlist activity weapon, there are a lot of perks that Dead Weight can drop with in Destiny 2, so it will likely take players some time to find their ideal roll. Nonetheless, PvE content is a bit more lenient when it comes to Shotgun rolls, but PvP players can stick to using the Riiswalker Shotgun in Destiny 2 (or whatever their preferred choice is).

While there aren't too many options available for the Dead Weight barrel perk, players will want to steer clear of anything with Smoothbore. The increased pellet spread in exchange for more range isn't worth the trade-off, but any of the other five available barrels are great options for PvE activities. Ideally, the Tactical Mag is the only magazine perk that Dead Weight should be using because it will increase the magazine size by the same amount as the Appended Mag, with the added bonus of increased reload speed and stability. Appended Mag, Accurized Rounds, and Light Mag are acceptable substitutes, but Extended Mag takes away too much reload speed and offers the same magazine size as Tactical Mag. For the third and fourth column perks, players have many options to choose from in Destiny 2: Season of the Haunted:

1. Subsistence/Frenzy - Classic and effective red bar clearing perks on a Shotgun.2. Lead From Gold/Vorpal Weapon - These perks essentially ensure that players never run out of ammo for boss fights.3. Perpetual Motion/Trench Barrel - This combination allows players to remain agile and deal massive damage at the same time.4. Subsistence/Adrenaline Junkie or Demolitionist - A great combination for grenade-focused builds.5. Subsistence/Swashbuckler - A great combination for melee-focused builds.6. Auto-Loading Holster/Vorpal Weapon or Trench Barrel - Optimized perks for boss DPS.

Next: Destiny 2: How To Get The Austringer Hand Cannon (& God Rolls)

Destiny 2 is available on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Google Stadia.

- Mark Birrell
Better Call Saul: 10 Kim Schemes (That Were Better Than Jimmy's)

Spoiler Warning: The following contains major spoilers for the final season of Better Call Saul.

Now that fans of the show have settled into the near-unbearable wait until the final part of the final season begins, tension regarding the fate of Better Call Saul's most standout character, Kim Wexler, has never been higher. No matter how the deadly situation with Lalo is resolved, Kim is heading down a dark path, acting more and more like a villain.

This is especially bad news considering that Kim is the smarter one of the two in her devastatingly effective partnership with Jimmy McGill. Though Jimmy is the expert in conning people, a lot of Kim's ideas and schemes are much better than his. It's clear that without her, Saul Goodman wouldn't exist.

When Jimmy makes his first big mistake in his combativeness with Chuck by doctoring some of Chuck's work documents to cause an embarrassing scene, everyone knows that Jimmy has crossed a line. Kim sticks by Jimmy, knowing that even though he did a bad thing, Chuck's treatment of Jimmy can still be identified as the root cause of it all.

RELATED: The Greatest Betrayals On Better Call Saul

Kim is nowhere near the moral freefall that she's in during season 6 of Better Call Saul, but she strongly implies to Jimmy that he needs to make sure that he covered absolutely all of his tracks. This leads to Jimmy managing to bribe the copy shop assistant just in time to prevent Chuck from obtaining a confession. Perhaps if she hadn't things would never have reached the dark conclusion that they did.

When Kevin Wachtell asks Kim for the impossible when he wants to suddenly change the plans for one of his new branches at the last minute, she enlists Jimmy for another of their con jobs. This time, they orchestrate a simple switch after she garners sympathy from a planning office employee by pretending to have a badly injured ankle and a new baby, with only her dimwitted brother, played by Jimmy, for help.

This is clearly one of Jimmy and Kim's team efforts, and it's never revealed exactly who comes up with which parts of this plan. However, the idea for it in the first place all comes from Kim, with her showing just great she can be at playing a role for the sake of a job and even noticeably outshining Jimmy as a manipulative liar for the first time in the show.

This is a great example of a quintessentially brilliant Kim Wexler scheme that inevitably backfires in the oddest of ways. Fearing that Rich Schweikart is on to her and perhaps having a pang of conscience, Kim tells Jimmy not to go through with this plan but he does anyway, successfully removing suspicion from Kim but betraying her trust.

Nevertheless, the idea is pure Kim. It's not just beneficial for Jimmy and Kim, holding Kevin accountable for the unfair usage of a photographer's work is actually the right thing to do. The threat of a copyright injunction not only bolsters Jimmy's presentation of planned attacks against Mesa Verde, which strong-arm Kevin Wachtell into not tearing down Everett Acker's house to build a new call center, but it also creates another deal to give fair recompense and credit to Olivia Bitsui, whose photograph was used to make Mesa Verde Bank and Trust's logo.

During the height of the war between Jimmy and Chuck, Chuck presses charges against Jimmy for, in a fit of rage, breaking into his house and destroying a piece of evidence. Jimmy and Kim need to get their own evidence to counter Chuck's narrative and there's no better person to get something like that than Mike Ehrmantraut.

Mike obviously comes courtesy of Jimmy, as Kim hasn't met him at this point, but it's Kim who calls just about every repair shop in Albuquerque to find who Chuck has booked to fix the door that Jimmy kicked down. Once she has the right people, she cancels the job so that Mike can gain access to Chuck's house under the guise of being the hired repairman. Inside, Mike easily gets all of the photographic evidence that Jimmy and Kim need.

Some of Kim's best schemes in Better Call Saul are so brilliant when compared to Jimmy's because, unlike Jimmy's best schemes, they're completely above board, find a fair solution for everybody, and leave nobody in the dark. Kim's solution for oil company owner Billy Gatwood is one of the best examples of this approach.

RELATED: The Main Characters In Better Call Saul, Ranked By Intelligence

Billy Gatwood faces a fast-approaching tax bill that will ruin him thanks to a collapsed wall in one of his oil deposits that has opened a new space expanding into another company's claim across the state border. Kim proposes that rather than paying taxes in both states, Gatwood circumvent this by paying the other company damages for "diminishing their resource." Gatwood points out that this is effectively a "payoff", but it's a legitimate one and a squeaky clean solution to a messy problem, something that Jimmy could never come up with.

Kim and Jimmy's plan to damage Howard's reputation steadily unfolded over the course of the first part of Better Call Saul's final season, involving many parts and building to a withheld endgame. One of the early stages of the plan required Cliff Main to be fed their manufactured rumor about Howard being addicted to cocaine and, to feed him this idea, they needed a client that Cliff couldn't refuse a meeting with despite never actually wanting to take the case. Kim identifies the perfect candidates in season 1 characters Craig and Betsy Kettleman.

The Kettlemans certainly are an excellent choice. Despite her being one of the best villains in Better Call Saul, the ringleader, Betsy Kettleman, isn't as smart as she likes to think that she is and Kim ensures their silence in a matter of minutes by threatening to prosecute them for their latest illegal activity. If Kim continues down this path, she'll rival villainous masterminds like Gus Fring and Lalo Salamanca.

After defeating Chuck in court, Jimmy still has to convince the bar association to reinstate him as a lawyer and it proves more difficult than he first assumed. After being rejected once on the grounds that he appeared insincere before his review board, Kim realizes that it's because Jimmy avoided talking about Chuck.

Kim's help with getting Jimmy reinstated may realize Chuck's worst nightmare, birthing Saul Goodman into the world of law, but she does it for good reasons. Her effective strategy puts Jimmy into multiple public situations where he expresses remorse over how his relationship with Chuck ended, but he ultimately appears to feel nothing. Though Jimmy's display of deep-rooted remorselessness was a moment that even fans of Better Call Saul didn't see coming, it was still a good plan.

After Kim goes to bat for Jimmy and helps him get his job at Davis and Main, which he then deliberately tanks, she's in the doghouse with both Howard and Chuck at HHM thanks to her association with Jimmy. After Jimmy promises to fix what he's done, Kim lays down the law and firmly tells Jimmy that she's not there to be saved and that she'll dig herself out in her own way.

This is when the audience really gets its first taste of just how tenacious Kim can be as she dedicates seemingly every spare moment that she has toward finding a high-profile client to bring to HHM. After securing Mesa Verde, Howard and Chuck are ecstatic over the prospective billings and Kim is soon out of her exile in doc review. What's even better is that she takes Mesa Verde with her when she leaves HHM not that long after.

Huell gets into serious trouble when he hits a plainclothes cop thinking that they're a member of the public harassing Jimmy. Jimmy is prepared to tear down the reputation of the cop in order to spare Huell from jail but Kim steps in with a much better plan.

RELATED: The Most Powerful Characters In Better Call Saul

Jimmy does a lot of the legwork on this one, orchestrating a series of fake letters and phone conversations to convince the District Attorney's office that Huell is actually a local hero in his hometown of Coushatta, Louisiana and that the case therefore simply isn't worth the headache of the public outcry. However, the initial idea and the part about the deluge of written letters are shown to be Kim's ideas. It's a much less aggressive approach than Jimmy's plan and it does the job perfectly, even infuriating the judge overseeing the case.

The tables really turn for Jimmy when Lalo shows up at Kim's apartment unannounced and with murder in his eyes. While Lalo is grilling him–Salamanca style–over his supposedly simple vehicular breakdown in the desert, which was really the result of an attempted robbery, Jimmy is clearly cracking.

Kim steps up and speaks aggressively to Lalo, spinning the logical narrative that the audience would expect Jimmy to use as an explanation. It's during this scene that the audience gets its first piece of hard evidence to support something that had long been hinted at in the show, which is that Kim is a far more powerful deceiver than even Jimmy.

As Kim begins to show her darker side at the end of season 5, she steers Jimmy towards a conversation about finishing his plan to get the Sandpiper Crossing class-action lawsuit settled. Jimmy aborted his first attempt after seeing the collateral damage it caused to the poor, sweet, class representative, Irene Landry. Kim's plan is, at that point, uncharacteristically aggressive.

In a reversal from the Coushatta situation, Kim proposes that she and Jimmy deliberately tarnish the image of Howard Hamlin, placing doubt over the case and encouraging everyone to settle immediately. The intricate plan results in a "D-Day" where Howard is dosed with a drug and tricked into falsely accusing a judge of taking a bribe. It's one of the most perfect plans in either Better Call Saul or Breaking Bad not just because of its creativity and execution but also because it all blows up in a fittingly unexpected way.

Having now drawn a drunk and very out-of-place Howard to Kim's apartment to confront them, Jimmy and Kim are left stunned in terror when Lalo shows up again, now with proof of a plot against his life. Jimmy's underworld life has now, thanks to Kim, collided with the legitimate world of HHM and the results are predictably horrifying. Lalo murders Howard to emphasize his rage and the first part of the final season of Better Call Saul ends with Jimmy and Kim in their most perilous situation yet.

NEXT: The Best Character In Each Season Of Better Call Saul

- Zach Gass
10 Obi-Wan Kenobi Adventures You Should Watch On Disney+ After The Series

With his new series premiering on Disney+ in a matter of days, Obi-Wan Kenobi has been the Jedi on everyone's mind. But since the two premiere episodes will be binged through in a snap, some viewers might want to even more of his adventurous exploits. No need to fear though, for Disney+ has the answer to their Star Wars cravings.

Master Kenobi has even received his own collection on the streaming service, cultivating together some of his most iconic appearances. While fans might have to wait a week at a time for their installments, they don't have to wait that long to see the legendary Jedi at his best.

Master Kenobi isn't the only Jedi featured in this episode of Galaxy of Sounds, but it's a great way for fans of the galaxy far, far away to take a brief, Jedi-led moment of mindfulness out of their day. Viewers are treated to familiar visuals accompanied by stellar sounds that bring them into the mini environments and unforgettable moments of the Star Wars universe.

Obi-Wan is joined by the likes of Rey, Anakin, Ahsoka, and more as this episode explores various scenes featuring the heroes of the Star Wars saga. Lightsabers ignite, environments are explored, and both viewers and the characters become one with the Force in a display of visual and audible stimulation.

The film that launched the successful animated series might not be on par with the original theatrically-released features, but it does allow Obi-Wan to display his prowess and skills as both a general and a Jedi Master. It's certainly an excellent jumping point for younger viewers just starting out their adventures in the Force.

RELATED: 10 Behind The Scenes Facts You Didn't Know About This Star Wars Series

When Jabba's son has been kidnapped as part of a Sith plot, it's up to Obi-Wan and Anakin to find him before a war can break out between the Jedi and the Hutt family. Kenobi's tactics, combat, and charm are all on full display in this animated feature, and fans of the master certainly won't be disappointed.

The Clone Wars animated TV series allowed the creators to expand on the Star Wars mythos by putting familiar characters in the farthermost reaches of the galaxy, but the Mortis Arc (Season 3, Episodes 15-17) took Obi-Wan, Ahsoka, and Anakin to a different plane of existence. By introducing ancient Force beings, they were able to experience a soul-searching journey that shed light on their mystical destinies.

One thing the arc did in Kenobi's favor was reuniting him with his master, Qui-Gon Jinn. Conversations with the Force ghost of his old mentor allowed the audience to see a more vulnerable side to the brave general. By exposing a more human side, he becomes more relatable to the audience.

If there's one story arc Clone Wars and Kenobi fans absolutely adore, it's the one where he shows romantic feelings for Dutchess Satine of Mandalore. Jedi aren't truly allowed to form loving attachments, as it could potentially risk exposure to the dark side, but seeing that Kenobi not only has the ability but the capacity to fall in love is beyond endearing.

The Mandalore Plot arc (Season 2, Episodes 12-14) sees Obi-Wan as the bodyguard for Dutchess Satine when she is made the target of the Mandalorian Death Watch. Excitement and adventure ensue as these two are forced/drawn together to fight off a dangerous threat. The banter between them is also some of the best writing seen in the animated series.

It's an unspoken truth that just about every emotionally complex character has some form of trauma that affects them permanently throughout their journey. While losing his master at the hands of the insidious Darth Maul certainly scarred Kenobi for life, losing his dear Satine was undoubtedly leagues worse.

RELATED: The 10 Best Jedi Mentors In The Galaxy

The image of Satine's death right before his eyes in "The Lawless" (Season 5, Episode 16) is one that will certainly haunt the old master long into his days on Tattooine. On one hand, it reminds Kenobi of the dangers of forming attachments as a Jedi. On the other, it's something that shakes him to the very core that has him questioning every doctrine he's been taught. In short, it's a permanently character-defining moment.

The vicious rivalry between Kenobi and Darth Maul is only one of the many Jedi and Sith relationships explored in the saga, but it's greater explored in the animated series. Maul was a huge part of "Revenge," (Season 4, Episode 22) and he was after the Jedi who bifurcated him in The Phantom Menace.

Regarded as one of the best Obi-Wan-focused episodes of the series, Kenobi locks sabers with both Maul and Savage Opress in deadly combat. The episode saw the official canonical revival of one of the franchise's fan-favorite villains and reignited an old feud. With any luck, Maul will make a return to the new series in some form.

Although The Clone Wars depicted the era of Clones and Droids as a character-driven saga that spanned seven seasons of episodes, Genndy Tartakovsky brought an epic, action-packed series to life with just barely five minutes per episode. Needless to say, the micro-series paints Kenobi as a cunning warrior and a deadly force on the battlefield.

The hand-drawn art style truly lends itself over brilliantly to the action-packed visuals, of which the show has a hefty and healthy supply. Viewers will see Kenobi ride into battle alongside arc-troopers, battle fearsome enemies and creatures, and charge into victory for the Republic.

After watching the premiere of Ewan McGreggor's solo series, it might be a good idea to revisit where he originated the role. The prequel series made a lot of choices that hardcore Star Wars fans didn't agree with, however, did the right thing in casting a young Obi-Wan Kenobi.

RELATED: 10 Important Episodes & Arcs Of The Clone Wars To Watch Before Obi-Wan Kenobi

Episode I depicts Obi-Wan as a gifted apprentice under Master Qui-Gon Jinn. It also shows a more eager and sarcastic side to the character that would grow into Old Ben. After the death of his mentor at the hands of Darth Maul, Kenobi is enlisted to take up the mantel of his fallen master and train a young Anakin Skywalker, a task that would change the course of the galaxy forever.

Episode I saw Kenobi as a young apprentice, but Episode II shows him stepping into the role of a Jedi Master bringing up a young Padawan Anakin Skywalker. Although he is still getting used to his rank, Kenobi remains the wily mentor any pupil would be happy to have.

The events of Attack of the Clones have Kenobi showing a more paternal side than average viewers might expect, something that will obviously factor into his eventual confrontation with Darth Vader in the solo series. Since ignorance is bliss, even a Jedi unknowing of his Padawan's true destiny cannot help but continuously guide and bond with his apprentice and brother in arms.

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is where everything in the prequel series comes crashing down. The Jedi are betrayed, the Clone Troopers enact Order 66, Anakin is seduced by the dark side, and Obi-Wan must confront his friend and brother in a duel that would leave the age of the Force in the darkness of the Galactic Empire.

The end of Episode III marks the beginning of the original Star Wars trilogy, as well as cementing Obi-Wan's role in the galaxy. It is here where he is tasked to watch over the infant Luke Skywalker so that one day he might bring balance to the galaxy and bring victory to the light side of the Force. A powerful ending to one saga, but the spark of rebellion for another.

NEXT: 10 Best Obi-Wan Kenobi Quotes, According To Ranker

- Tanner Fox
10 Most Chill Walking Simulators For Gamers Who Want To Relax

Those who like to play an active role in the media they experience likely have a hard time finding the appeal of most walking simulators. Slow-paced, narrative-focused experiences with often little to no gameplay, they're almost akin to visual novels in their passivity.

That said, some relish to opportunity to relax and mellow out in a virtual environment devoid of threats, challenges, or burdens. Of course, while acclaimed titles such as Firewatch or Layers of Fear emphasize drama and terror, these games, for the most part, advance relatively carefree storylines that the player can enjoy at their own pace.

Developed by genre pioneers The Chinese Room, Everybody's Gone to the Rapture sees the player piece together the tale of a sleepy English village that's been abandoned after an anonymous event. The narrative blends dramatic intrigue with elements of sci-fi, fitting together something that's interesting enough to lead the player toward the next area, though it's never fully enveloping.

RELATED: 10 Video Games That Redeemed Hated Characters

Everybody's Gone To The Rapture's greatest strength, arguably, is its environmental design. Evoking the serenity of a Sunday stroll while introducing just a bit of the thrill found in urban exploration, it's a game that's more likely to entrance than it is to entertain.

With a simplistic style and low-res filter that's reminiscent of the original PlayStation or the Nintendo DS, A Short Hike is, as the name implies, a very brief experience that sees an anthropomorphic bird exploring the unbound wilds of Hawk Peak Provincial Park.

While the ultimate goal is to reach the park's titular mountain peak, there's no sense of urgency whatsoever, and players are encouraged to explore, interact with the game's characters, and participate in a handful of neat minigames. From fishing to flying, there's a lot of fun to be had in A Short Hike, and, in a way, it feels a bit like an Animal Crossing title sans the ever-mounting debt.

Boasting a vibrant, simplistic art style seemingly inspired by the artwork seen in some newspaper comic strips, The Endless Express is an ambient, almost ethereal experience centered around the idea of a never-ending train journey.

RELATED: 10 Hidden Details Redditors Found In Sports Games

Players must wait in real-time for commuter trains to chug by, occasionally interacting with the weird and wild creatures they may encounter in order to pass the time. Less about walking and more about waiting, it may be a frustratingly tedious experience for some, but, for others, The Endless Express makes for a perfectly serene experience.

After losing a game of cards to a particularly nasty wolf in a suit, players are tasked with trekking across 1930s America in search of great stories. As things progress, players meet new people and make decisions that allow these stories to grow and develop into legends.

While it's not a walking simulator in the strictest sense, Where The Water Tastes Like Wine maintains the lackadaisical charm of many games in the genre. It's a bit like the famous American folk song "Big Rock Candy Mountain" come to life.

One of a small number of Steam Greenlight success stories, Loiste Interactive's INFRA sees players delve into the decaying depths of a city's infrastructure, solving puzzles and picking up the pieces of a grand conspiracy. Drawing upon the loosely-defined "concretepunk" aesthetic, INFRA is beautifully gloomy and haunting in more ways than one.

While some of the game's puzzles will almost certainly require a guide, parts of the title are decidedly relaxing, and those who find serenity in the subtleties of liminality may discover this to be an overlooked gem.

After a mysterious cataclysm, players must ascend the titular tower at Tortenna and uncover the world's secrets amid a nearly-abandoned structure in the sky. A puzzle title that calls to mind the great 90s PC gaming title Myst, The Tower At Tortenna is both beautiful and otherwordly.

RELATED: 10 Best Puzzle Games On Xbox Game Pass, Ranked By Metacritic

While the puzzling solving elements may distract slightly from the game's dreamy vibe, The Tower At Tortenna offers a kind of surreal experienced unmatched by most walking simulators. The flat textures and aggressive bloom may put some players off, but they do add to the game's ethereal nature.

Brutalist and oppressing, 2020's The Longing may not strike many as relaxing—in fact, some players may construe it to be some form of horror game. However, billed as a title that takes four hundred real-time days to complete, it is first-and-foremost an exercise in patience, and it asks players to find the zen in less-than-ideal situations.

The Longing doesn't actually require nearly ten thousand hours to beat; in-game items can be used to speed up the flow of time. Yet, from exploring dark and restrictive catacombs to leafing through pages of old tomes, the game really does demand that players find calm amidst the uncanny.

Borrowing slightly from the cutesy aesthetic of the Slime Rancher series, Slime Garden places players in the middle of a procedurally generated landscape populated by adorably sentient slimes. However, rather than capturing them, in Slime Garden, players only have the option to take pictures which can be either posted to Twitter or saved to the player's hard drive.

RELATED: The 10 Best City-Building Video Games, According To Ranker

The emphasis here is on a sense of community and shared experience, and, while there's not a whole lot to Slime Garden, it's a very comforting indie title that feels a bit like Pokémon Snap without the faux on-rails shooter mechanics.

First introduced in 2011 as a mod for Half-Life 2, The Stanley Parable saw a full release in 2013 and turned gaming on its head through a hilarious deconstruction of how video game narrative is delivered. While the 2013 release could easily be completed in less than two hours—barring one optional ending that requires four hours of clicking the same button repeatedly—the 2022 rerelease adds quite a bit of extra content, further fleshing out the strange, Klein bottle-esque life of the titular character.

It's not exactly as relaxing as other walking simulators, but The Stanely Parable is a paragon of the genre, and, more than a decade after its original incarnation was released, it's as worth playing as ever.

Taking place in a vast, almost endless ocean, ABZU sees the player rediscover the ruins of an ancient society and eventually uncover a surprising truth in an effort to restore the ocean after some sort of devastating event.

A bit like Subnatuica without the survival elements, ABZU is a breathtakingly beautiful title that's about as immersive as a walking simulator can possibly be. A crown jewel of the genre, it's a must-play, even for those who don't find these types of games particularly enjoyable.

NEXT: 10 Best Cel-Shaded Video Games

- Kaleb Smith
Destiny 2: How To Get The Riptide Fusion Rifle (& God Rolls)

The Riptide Fusion Rifle is a new weapon in Destiny 2 that has been introduced alongside Season of the Haunted. While the number of weapons that have been added to Destiny 2 through Season of the Haunted isn't quite as large as the number added during Season of the Risen, the quality of weapons more than makes up for the difference. Riptide is definitely one of the new weapons that many players who love Fusion Rifles will find themselves using in both PvE and PvP activities.

Riptide is a Stasis Rapid-Fire Frame weapon, an archetype that has been favored in the past couple of seasons for endgame content due to its effectiveness. Whether they are used throughout Crucible, Gambit, or Vanguard activities in Destiny 2, Rapid-Fire Fusion Rifles have become a staple of many endgame loadouts thanks to their high damage and fast charge times. Riptide has a large number of solid perk options for players to get, and fortunately, it's one of the easiest weapons to obtain.

Related: Destiny 2: How To Get The Austringer Hand Cannon (& God Rolls)

Guardians can get their hands on Riptide by playing in the Crucible and collecting Engrams from Lord Shaxx in the Tower. Though they aren't guaranteed to get one at the end of every match, players can increase their odds by winning and equipping the Prosperity Ghost Mod for Crucible. This will increase their odds of receiving an additional Legendary Gear piece whenever they win a match, and it's a mod that all players have access to through and beyond Season of the Haunted in Destiny 2.

Playlist activity weapons tend to have many more perks available than weapons from other activities, and Riptide is no exception. For PvP, players can prosper from a Riptide that rolls with Smallbore or Polygonal Rifling for the barrel, and Projectile Fuse for the battery. PvE rolls can get more use out of Fluted Barrel or Corkscrew Rifling, as well as an Enhanced Battery for the second column perk. For a more well-rounded weapon, Arrowhead Brake is the barrel to look for and either Accelerated Coils or Particle Repeater will be great for the battery. Much like the rolls for the reworked Beloved Sniper Rifle in Destiny 2, there are a number of great perk combinations for Riptide's third and fourth columns:

1. Perpetual Motion/Snapshot Sights - Fantastic option for PvP Guardians that remain mobile throughout the match.2. Field Prep/Vorpal Weapon - This is a great option for PvE bosses that don't move much like the Caretaker or Atheon.3. Lead From Gold/Chill Clip - Fantastic for clearing large groups of enemies quickly.4. Auto-Loading Holster/Vorpal Weapon - Great for maximizing DPS effectively against PvE bosses.5. Perpetual Motion/Successful Warm-Up - An rounded choice that works well in both types of activities.

Next: How to Get Bound Presence in Destiny 2 Season of the Haunted

Destiny 2 is available on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Google Stadia.

- Justin Fedich
Survivor 42 Finale Recap: The Show Couldn't Have Scripted A Better Ending

Last week, when Maryanne Oketch blindsided Omar Zaheer from Survivor in the penultimate episode of the season, it dawned on everyone all at once: Maryanne has a great shot to win this thing. And what a delightful possibility that was. She had been overlooked from the beginning, cast aside by the Takus as too talkative, and on the outside looking in come merge time. When the post-merge majority alliance of eight crumbled, as large factions tend to do on Survivor, Maryanne carefully picked her moment to pounce. After contenders Hai Giang and Drea Wheeler left in succession, Maryanne came to the realization that it was now or never. Omar was getting voted out at 6 or he'd find a way to wiggle his way into Final 3 and Maryanne would lose the game.

So she engineered a 3-2-2 vote-out of Omar, and once she made this move, Maryanne had all the confidence she needed to control the endgame. With an immunity idol no one knew about, Maryanne wisely observed she possessed the only secret remaining in the game. Her biggest move, however, was showing restraint, keeping the idol in her pocket and letting Lindsay Dolashewich get voted out. Maryanne felt sure she would make it to the Final 3 no matter the outcome of the Final 4 immunity challenge, and when Romeo pulled a major upset, she didn't need to do much convincing to get him to bring her along.

Related: Survivor 42: The Best Podcasts To Listen To After The Finale

Maryanne may have been eccentric and grating on her tribemates at times, but she proved to be one of the savviest contestants on the entire season. Due to her understanding of the game and her place in it, Maryanne stood a strong shot against any of the five players in the game at the start of the finale. Even so, the jury wasn't sold on Maryanne coming in. She had to prove herself, and it wasn't until the last question that pressed each finalist to reveal the big move they made in the game, that Maryanne was able to sell the Omar blindside at the pivotal move that shifted the tectonic plates of a seismic season. Indeed, Survivor 42 felt like a special season, and a major reason for that is there couldn't have been a more satisfying winner.

Mike thought he was the favorite heading into Final Tribal Council, and perhaps he was. But he made quick work to tank his chances. From the jury confessionals, which I found to be a nice touch, it was clear they'd value Mike's game if only he would admit that branding himself as a loyal ally was a strategic move to get people to trust him. Instead, Mike misread the way others perceived him. He told the jury he only told one lie in the game, but they were quick to acknowledge that was inaccurate.

Trustworthiness in Survivor used to be a valued commodity. But contestants now understand lying is not only necessary; it's the mark of a great player. While the appropriate method of lying has changed over time — it's no longer en vogue to swear on one's kids —  it's something almost everyone does.

Related: Survivor: How Long Does It Take To 'Tally The Votes'?

Mike lied plenty in this game, even if he believed he was acting in more than just his own self-interest. He would have been respected for those moves if only he'd owned up to them from the beginning. Instead, he deflected until he realized he was losing the game. Credit Mike for owning up to his game near the end of Final Tribal, once he came to the conclusion that he was a different player than the image he'd built up in his mind. He was the strongest social player in the game. If only he could articulate from the onset that part of that social strength was knowing who to backstab and at what moment.

When we think of goats traditionally, we sometimes think of players who mistakenly believe they've been dominant when in fact they were dragged along the whole time. Unlike Mike, Romeo had a striking sense of self-awareness throughout. He understood he was unwanted in many majority alliances but didn't accept his place as a goat just because no one wanted to work with him. At Final Five, Romeo made a fake idol and told Mike he was safe. It didn't matter, since he wasn't the target. But he still whipped that art project out at Tribal Council in a last-ditch effort to score some jury points (it didn't look like they were impressed).

At Final Four immunity, as the other three contestants lost focus, Romeo stayed steady long enough to defeat Goliath Jonathan and become one of the more improbable final immunity winners. When he was questioned by the jury, Romeo knew how everyone else saw him. He didn't pretend to be a part of any move he wasn't and didn't make up any illusions about being more involved in the action than he was. He presented himself as an underdog who scraped and clawed his way to the end, hoping it would be enough. It wasn't, but he earned the respect of a jury that had probably written him off as a contender up to that point and spoke bravely about coming out publicly on national television. Romeo didn't win, but the fact that he was able to control the last stage of the game is something he'll always be able to carry with him.

Overall, this season's finale wasn't its strongest episode, but it delivered the winner a majority of fans were hoping for and the first Black woman since Vecepia Robinson 20 years ago. The Final 3, Maryanne, Mike and Romeo, were all extremely likable contestants from diverse backgrounds. Nearly all of the final 8 were all serious contenders; it's hard to expect more from a season as a fan. And Maryanne, the best casting decision Survivor has made in its history, certainly will be back again at some point to defend her title.

Next: Survivor: Shot In The Dark Twist Is Returning For Season 43 & Beyond

- P L
15 Movies To Watch In Honor Of Asian And Pacific Islander American Heritage Month

For all of May, Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans celebrate their heritage. It is a special time for understanding culture and traditions as well as sharing those things with others. Movies have especially helped frame and interpret the entire experience.

Films are an important measure of how Asian and Pacific Islander Americans honor their heritage and form their legacy. They also paint a picture of what they have endured over the years in America.

Updated on May 25th, 2022 by Danielle Bruncati: May of each year brings a chance to celebrate and uplift the Asian American and Pacific Islander American communities. One of the best ways to celebrate the heritage month is to watch movies that feature AAPI cast and crew and that explore AAPI experiences. Thankfully, there are more movie options than ever before that do just that. From independent movies that dive deep into the AAPI experience to superhero blockbusters and family-friendly animated movies, there's no excuse not to watch at least one AAPI-centered movie this month. 

Set in 1918, a young woman from Yokohama becomes a "picture bride" for a Japanese man working abroad in Hawaii. A picture bride is a woman who is married off to Asian men overseas, and their only correspondence beforehand is the exchange of photos.

RELATED: 10 Asian Horror Movies To Watch If You Liked The Grudge

When Riyo reaches Hawaii, she learns the man she's marrying isn't the one pictured in his photo. Now, she must work on the sugarcane plantation if she wants to earn enough money to win her freedom and return to Japan. Picture Bride is directed by Hawaiian-born Kayo Hatta.

American Pastime tells a story set in the Topaz War Relocation Center in Utah. This internment camp held Japanese Americans captive during World War II. The movie depicts life in this specific camp; it is based on true events. The movie was even shot not too far from the actual camp.

This uplifting tale of dark times in America shows how imprisoned Japanese Americans dealt with their ordeal. This includes playing baseball and breaking cultural barriers. The movie is directed by Desmond Nakano.

Written and directed by Lee Issac Chung, Minari is a semi-autobiographical movie about a South Korean family who immigrated to the rural United States in the 1980s. The movie doesn't shy away from exposing the highs and lows of what it was like for Korean families trying to assimilate into American culture.

Minari was not only impactful to the Asian audiences who could relate to the story but to immigrants and audiences of all backgrounds. It went on to be nominated for 6 Academy Awards including Best Picture and won Best Supporting Actress.

This black-and-white indie comedy revolves around a taxicab driver and his nephew searching for the man they left their life savings with—the titular Chan. As the two explore Chinatown in search of the missing Chan, they learn more about the man they apparently never knew.

RELATED: 10 Hilarious Indie Horror-Comedies You Probably Missed

Chan is Missing is regarded as a vastly undervalued and underseen slice of urban Chinese-American life in the 1980s. The movie is directed by Wayne Wang.

Better Luck Tomorrow challenges preconceived notions and stereotypes about Asian Americans; the "model minority" myth is defied by palatable studies of fallible characters.

A straight-edge high school student named Ben becomes bored with his perfect life. When he meets the rebellious Daric, Ben gets involved in petty crime. The movie is directed by Justin Lin of Fast & Furious fame.

Written and directed by Lulu Wang and distributed by A24, The Farewell is a heartfelt comedy-drama movie released in 2019. The movie follows a Chinese-American family who decides not to tell their dying grandmother that she is ill and instead gets the family together to spend the last of her good days by her side.

The Farewell offers an authentic look into the importance of family in Chinese-American culture since it is based on Wang's own life experiences. Adding to the authenticity is the fact that the award-nominated movie is bilingual with dialogue spoken in both English and Mandarin Chinese.

Danny Pudi, best known for playing Abed in Community, stars as an Indian immigrant who moves to Chicago in the 1970s to pursue a better life. His father was highly regarded for killing a vicious tiger that menaced the village. To live up to his father's legacy, Sami hopes to become a successful engineer in the U.S.

Sadly, Sami can only get a lowly job that he believes will disappoint his family and the woman he loves back home. In time, he realizes success isn't necessarily measured by one's occupation. The Tiger Hunter is directed by Lena Khan.

Actor turned director Justin Chon also stars in this emotional story set around the "1992 Los Angeles riots." Chon and his Korean-American character's brother run their late father's struggling shoe store in a predominantly African-American area in Paramount.

RELATED: 10 Great Indie Horror Films From 2019 You Missed

As the riots begin, the brothers and their 11-year-old friend fight to protect the shop from harm.

When Jon M. Chu set out to direct the adaptation of the Kevin Kwan novel Crazy Rich Asianshe had no idea what a phenomenon the romantic comedy would become. The movie follows Rachel Chu and her boyfriend Nick Young who return to Nick's home country of Singapore for his best friend's marriage. While in Singapore, Rachel's Chinese-American heritage is scrutinized by Nick's old-Chinese thinking.

While the movie was criticized by some AAPI communities because of the movie's need to cast biracial actors, it still proved to be a massive hit and a win for AAPI representation. It was the highest-grossing romantic comedy of the 2010s and the first major Hollywood studio movie to feature a majority cast of Chinese descent since the 90s.

A transracial family — here, Vietnamese children were placed into the care of African-American guardians — is at the core of this little-known drama. Named after the Vietnamese delicacy, the movie has two Vietnamese-American adults feeling torn by their two identities.

When their biological mother shows up, their adoptive parents feel excluded. Catfish in Black Bean Sauce is directed by Chi Muoi Lo.

Racial relations are explored in this 1980s story of star-crossed lovers and organized crime. Teenage Tony is from Little Italy in Manhattan, and Tye is from Chinatown. Their respective families have ties to gang activity. Despite how they feel about each other, Tony and Tye cannot be together so easily. Their families are in direct conflict with each other, and prejudices keep these young lovers apart.

RELATED: 10 Crime Movies You Wouldn't Believe Are Based On True Stories

China Girl was not a box-office hit, but critics were impressed. They found this then-contemporary Romeo & Juliet well-directed and unwilling to make concessions to others. The movie is directed by Abel Ferrara.

While Disney wasn't the best studio in terms of diversity, they've started to make strides towards being more inclusive. In 2016 they released the animated movie Moana with the aim of representing individuals of Pacific Islander descent.

While the Pacific Islander community had some qualms with the Disneyfication and homogenization of their cultures. they also praised the movie for its depiction of their "wayfinding" traditions. It's the perfect movie to watch with the whole family to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage month.

Traditional values and modern thinking butt heads in this romantic comedy. Chinese-American Wilhelmina is a successful surgeon living in New York. She is a lesbian and remains in the closet as she believes her family, namely her mother, would not approve.

Just as Wilhelmina falls for a woman named Vivian, her single mother moves in with her after being shunned for having a child out of wedlock. Saving Face is directed by Alice Wu.

Based on the 1989 novel of the same name by Amy Tan; Tan co-wrote the 1993 film adaptation's screenplay with Ronald Bass. The movie was applauded by most critics, and it was a modest hit at the box office.

The story follows the lives of four Chinese women living in San Francisco. They each have a daughter; all of whom are now adults. The mothers regularly meet every week to play mahjong and tell stories about their lives. The Joy Luck Club is directed by Wayne Wang.

For decades superhero movies have been dominated by white actors but that finally began to change with the launch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In 2021, audiences flocked to theaters to welcome Marvel's first Asian superhero in the movie Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

The movie was directed by Destin Daniel Cretto and starred Simu Liu in the titular role. While some might cast it aside as another Marvel movie, it did a wonderful job at exploring and representing Asian culture while advancing the MCU plot.

NEXT: The 10 Funniest Quotes From Shang-Chi

- Thomas West
10 Best TV Shows Like The Lincoln Lawyer | Screen Rant

Netflix has officially debuted The Lincoln Lawyer, the legal drama based on the Matthew McConaughey film of the same name and it has been a quick hit, ranking near the top of the streaming service's top TV shows. It manages to bring something new to the well-established genre, particularly through its quirky atmosphere and the skilled performances of its cast. Thus, it has much to offer both fans of this particular type of series and those looking for something unique to watch on the streaming service.

However, though it is in some ways a show that stands on its own, there are also a number of other series that display some similar traits, which means that fans of The Lincoln Lawyer have many other shows they can watch once they’ve finished.

Given the enormous success of the series Breaking Bad, it was probably inevitable that it would yield a spin-off. In this case, the series focuses on Saul Goodman, the shady lawyer from the original series, as well as various other characters who were a part of Walter White’s story.

RELATED: The 15 Best Legal Drama TV Shows Of All Time, Ranked According To IMDb

Like The Lincoln Lawyer, there’s a quirky aspect to Better Call Saul that sets it apart from its predecessor, and there’s no question that Bob Odenkirk continues to shine as the title character, a genuinely good man who finds himself slowly enmeshed in a very dangerous world.

Showrunner David E. Kelley has been responsible for many great series, including The Lincoln Lawyer. However, he was also the creative mind behind Anatomy of a Scandal, one of the other legal dramas airing on Netflix. The series is a bracing look at the way that sexual assault can radically reshape the course of a person’s life, as a British lawyer is tasked with prosecuting the man who raped her several years previously.

It is a series full of powerful performances, particularly from Michelle Dockery, who plays Kate Woodcroft, the lawyer.

There are few television lawyers more famous than Perry Mason, who became an icon after his on-screen portrayal by the late Raymond Burr. This series is a bit grittier than its predecessor. In particular, the main character is a man suffering from trauma and trying to put his life together.

RELATED: The 10 Best Courtroom Dramas Of All Time, According To The AFI

In this respect, he bears a striking resemblance to the main character of The Lincoln Lawyer, which helps to explain why this series will be sure to appeal to those who enjoyed the new Netflix series.

A spin-off of The Good Wife, The Good Fight has quickly established itself as one of the best series on Paramount+. With its all-star cast–including Christine Baranski and Audra McDonald–and its powerful storylines, it also manages to be a powerful legal drama in its own right.

Though its legal trappings will make it a good fit for fans of The Lincoln Lawyer, it also manages to do more than just provide the usual thrills of a legal series. In fact, it manages to address many of the pressing social and cultural issues of the present.

As with the best legal dramas, The Lincoln Lawyer gives viewers a protagonist who might be deeply flawed but is nevertheless someone that they can identify with and cheer for. Damages, likewise, spends a great deal of time allowing the audience to get to know Glenn Close’s Patty Hewes.

Though she is not always the most likable or sympathetic character–in fact she is often ruthless–that is precisely what makes her, and the show as a whole, so compulsively watchable.

Showrunner Shonda Rhimes has been responsible for bringing many great series to the air. With its heightened melodrama and its powerful performances–particularly from Viola Davis as Annalise Keating–How to Get Away with Murder is definitely one of her best.

Its emphasis on the law will appeal to fans of The Lincoln Lawyer, as will its focus on Keating, a lawyer who is far more complicated than she appears at first glance and who ultimately becomes something of the series’ compelling (and dangerous) antihero.

Even though it's still a new streaming service, HBO Max has been responsible for some great series, and one of the best is The Flight Attendant. Like The Lincoln Lawyer, it has a certain pulpiness about it, as it focuses on its main character, Cassie, as she contends with various mishaps that seem to follow her wherever she goes.

While its main appeal is its thriller component, it will particularly appeal to fans of The Lincoln Lawyer given that it pays a great deal of attention, particularly in season 2, to Cassie’s efforts to attain sobriety.

As its title suggests, The Lincoln Lawyer is about a lawyer who works out of the back of his car. Indeed, it’s precisely this quirkiness that makes the series so appealing. While the title character of the series Matlock may not work out of the back of a car, he does nevertheless have a sort of quirky charm that is all his own.

RELATED: Every Law & Order Series, Ranked By IMDb

The series is very much of its time–with an aesthetic firmly rooted in the ‘80s and ‘90s–but it is also one of those series that still remains eminently watchable.

Those who are drawn to the quirkiness of The Lincoln Lawyer will also find much to enjoy about the long-running series Murder, She Wrote. Starring Angela Lansbury as Jessica Fletcher, a retired schoolteacher-turned-writer who ultimately becomes an amateur sleuth, it’s everything that one could want out of a cozy detective series.

However, beneath its seemingly chipper aesthetic, there is very often a more sinister strain, and the series isn’t afraid to shy away from addressing very important topics and issues.

One of the most appealing elements of a lawyer series is its ability to dive deep into the psychology of its characters, and that is certainly true of The Lincoln Lawyer. It is also part of the appeal of Goliath, another legal drama, this time starring Billy Bob Thornton.

Like so many other lawyers, his character is trying to find redemption, though he is faced with a court system that has grown ever more corrupt. And, as with The Lincoln Lawyer, it is also created by David E. Kelley.

NEXT: The Good Wife - 5 Relationships Fans Loved (& 5 They Hated)

- Arthur Goyaz
Conversations With Friends Characters, Ranked By Likability

Conversations With Friends is out now on Hulu and is the show Normal People fans were eagerly awaiting, being another miniseries adaptation of a Sally Rooney book. Throughout 12 episodes, the viewers follow the ups and downs of an unexpected relationship between two former lovers, now best friends, and a successful older couple.

While the show focuses on the four main characters, the supporting cast often delivers attention-grabbing moments and helps the viewers understand a little more about what drives the protagonists to act as they do. Although all of them drive the narrative in important ways, the variety among personality types means certain characters are much more likable than others.

9 Valerie

Valerie showed up a couple of times, but but her condescending attitude toward the others was so evident that made even Frances hit the roof. It was shocking to see how she refer to Nick's depression as an impediment in Melissa's career.

Related: 10 TV Shows That Would Have Been Better Movies

Even though Melissa defended her and explained to Frances how Valerie was at her side when everything seemed to be falling apart, she also acted disdainfully when she met Frances to discuss her work. Valerie apparently just can't keep an affable attitude for too long.

8 Dennis (France's father)

Dennis is a very strange character. Every time he's in the same room as Frances, it looks like he has a lot to say or a handful of emotions to express, but nothing comes out right. His awkward attempts on communicating with his daughter usually end up with him offering her extra money and that's about it.

It's true that Dennis is not in his best state of mind, but France's attitude toward him shows that he's been acting like this for quite some time, and the figure of a distant father is not exactly likable.

7 Derek And Evelyn

Derek and Evelyn work like a single entity in the show, because every scene one is in the other is also present. They are good friends of Nick and Melissa and had some highlights when they joined the group for a holiday in Croatia,

While they seem very friendly and cool to hang out with, the show gave too little space for the couple to shine onscreen, and they would certainly be more likable if the focus on Frances shifted a bit more. Unfortunately by the time the show is finished, fans will most likely barely remember them.

6 Bobbi

Bobbi is a very divisive character, as some will probably consider her the least likable character of the show while others argument that she is the best. So she stays kind of in the middle of the road.

Related: 10 Short Hulu Shows That Are Perfect To Binge In A Long Weekend

Perhaps if Conversations With Friends explored more of Bobbi's point of view instead of Frances, viewers would understand her attitudes better. It's clear that she loves Frances and only wants what's good for her best friend (or lover), but jealously often makes her act impulsively and go hard on Frances. And in the end, she's never the first to apologize. In conclusion, when she is not letting her egocentric tendencies get in the way of her easy-going manners and funny witticisms, Bobbi quickly becomes the life of the party.

5 Paula (France's mother)

Paula was introduced as a sweet, yet distant character that seemed to have a hard time expressing feelings. As the show gave her more screen time she developed a lot, as viewers were able to see her delicate, sincere and direct way to deal with things.

The heart-to-heart conversation between Paula and Frances in the series finale was what the spectators needed to finally understand that her contained way to express love doesn't mean she doesn't care. It's a powerful moment as mother and daughter discuss matters of family and affection, and highlights why Conversations With Friends is one of the best shows to watch on Hulu this month.

4 Melissa

If it wasn't for Melissa approaching the girls, the story would never unfold. Melissa's friendly manners made Frances and especially Bobbi feel welcome in her circle of friends, as she regularly invited them to their parties, events, and even a holiday in Croatia. It was clear that she cared for them even when the news of Nick and Frances was unveiled.

But when she found out about Nick's affair, the relationship of the four grew increasingly tense and Melissa's temper hardly endured any confrontation with Frances. There are other factors that prevent her from being an easily likable character, like her decision to engage in an affair with Nick's best friend while he was suffering from depression, but she is a character that feels real and makes Conversations With Friends one more great novel adaptation.

3 Nick

Nick is introduced as an intriguing handsome actor, but the show quickly reveals he's actually someone who finds really hard to socialize with the easiness of his wife. His personality clicks immediately with Frances' introversion and he can't help but falling for her.

Related: 9 Hulu Original Shows That Were Critically-Panned But Popular

Nick is hard to read most of the time because he often has no idea how to express his feelings. As he grows increasingly comfortable with Frances, a new side of him is revealed; a romantic guy that just wants to stick to those he loves, but that ends up putting his wife and his lover in a tough spot. Sure, he went through a lot of pain in the past, but his constant indecision makes him difficult to deal with sometimes.

2 Frances

While the show has four protagonists, Frances stands out among them because viewers see everything through her eyes, and she has a unique relationship with each character introduced. Frances and Bobbi are a great example of female friendship, while her relationship with Nick is full of emotional ambiguities.

Frances' awkward efforts to socialize and express herself are sweet and funny, and the character is so likable because it's painfully easy to relate to her, even in the moments she's doing the wrong thing. Since everything unfolds from her point of view, it's easier to understand her motivations, and everyone ends up cheering for her.

1 Philip

Philip is far from being a central character, but he steals the show every time he appears. He's the most notable sidekick of the show and is always down for good gossip. His sweet, curious personality also gives space for a subtle, but remarkable sense of humor that often can bring about a few laughs when he gets caught up in the middle of an argument between Frances and Bobby.

Philip is also a caring and invaluable friend, being the only one who can endure France's bad mood. For him, friendship always comes first; this is evident when he apologizes to Frances after his slightly judgmental reaction to the news of her affair with Nick.

Next: 10 Hulu Shows To Look Forward To In 2022

- Colin McCormick
MCU: The 10 Biggest Surprises Of Phase 4, So Far | ScreenRant

It has been a little over a year since Phase 4 of the MCU kicked off and it has already delivered several movies and television shows that have pushed the universe in some unexpected ways. While there was a trend of massive spoilers leaking before the projects were released, Phase 4 has still managed to deliver some big surprises.

MCU fans have come to expect big twists like character deaths or exciting cameos, but some of these reveals still caught them off guard. They helped to make the Phase 4 projects all the more exciting while also hinting at what else is to come in the MCU's future.

10 Blade Is Introduced (Eternals)

There were a number of powerful new characters introduced into the MCU in Eternals. However, perhaps the most exciting new addition featured in the movie was a character who was not even seen.

RELATED: 10 MCU Best Heroes Introduced In Phase 4 (So Far)

In the post-credit scene, Dane Whitman is seen finding his ancestral sword, the Ebony Blade, only to be interrupted by an unknown voice. After much speculation, it was confirmed the voice was Mahershala Ali as Blade, making it the first confirmation of the vampire hunter in the MCU.

9 The Other Quicksilver (WandaVision)

In WandaVision, Wanda uses her magic to bring Vision back from the dead. This led to fans wondering if she might do the same for her deceased brother, Pietro Maximoff. However, fans couldn't have predicted how the show would pull this off.

When Pietro appears, he is played by Evan Peters who played the role in the Fox X-Men movies. But just as fans' minds were being blown by the implications of this, it was revealed it had nothing to do with the multiverse and the fake Quicksilver was just a guy named Ralph Bohner

8 Ikaris Turns Against The Team (Eternals)

The Eternals were not household names by any means before their MCU debut. Of all the members of the Eternals team, Ikaris was likely the most well-known and was seen as Marvel's version of Superman to some.

In the movie, he follows the same comic book characteristics of being powerful and a leader. But it is ultimately revealed that Ikaris knows about the planned destruction of Earth and he is willing to fight his fellow Eternals to allow it to happen.

7 Aunt May Dies (Spider-Man: No Way Home)

The inclusion of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield was an open secret by the time Spider-Man: No Way Home hit theaters. But the movie still delivered some surprises, including some heartbreaking ones like the fate of Aunt May.

RELATED: 10 MCU Performances That Prove Phase Four Is The Best

Though Aunt May hadn't had a huge role in the MCU up until then, she fulfills Uncle Ben's iconic role from the comics, telling Peter "with great power comes great responsibility" before dying in his arms. It is a devastating loss of one of the most important people in Peter's life.

6 Clea Arrives (Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness)

There are a lot of fun cameos in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness but one of the biggest was saved for the end. The post-credit scene finds Strange being confronted by Clea, an iconic character from the Doctor Strange comics.

Charlize Theron takes on the role for this brief appearance and it is impressive they were able to pull off that casting without it leaking. Having the Oscar-winner in the role also suggests they have big plans for the character.

5 Sharon Carter Is The Power Broker (The Falcon And The Winter Soldier)

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier brings back a lot of characters from the Captain America movies, including Sharon Carter. But while she was a noble and brave hero before, life on the run seemed to change Sharon when she appeared in the show.

Fans find out just how much she changed when it is revealed that Sharon is the villainous Power Broker. For a character who was once such a selfless hero, it is shocking to see her suddenly become this ruthless arms dealer.

4 Kingpin Returns (Hawkeye)

The Hawkeye series ended up being a nice breath of fresh air in the MCU as it was a smaller-scale adventure with a holiday twist. Yet even if it wasn't about saving the world, it still featured a surprise that had big implications for the MCU with the return of Kingpin.

RELATED: Every Superhero Team The MCU Is Setting Up In Phase 4

Kingpin was one of the most acclaimed aspects of Netflix's Daredevil series and fans were thrilled to see Vincent D'Onofrio return in the role. It also opened the door for other actors from the Netflix series to reprise their roles.

3 The World Forgets Peter Parker (Spider-Man: No Way Home)

As fun as it is to see the various Spider-Men together, Spider-Man: No Way Home was quite a tragic story for Tom Holland's Peter Parker. Along with losing Aunt May, he is forced to make a sacrifice that loses him all his other loved ones as well.

In an effort to stop more multiverse invaders, Peter convinces Doctor Strange to cast a spell that will make everyone forget who Peter Parker is. As a result, Peter ends the movie on his own and it perhaps marks the end of his journey in the MCU.

2 The Coming Of Kang (Loki)

The multiverse plays a huge role in Phase 4 of the MCU and one of the key characters related to it was introduced in Loki. He Who Remains is a being who claims to oversee the sacred timeline of all things but his death at the hands of Sylvie throws the multiverse into chaos.

One of the biggest threats is revealed to be a variant of He Who Remains, the powerful Marvel villain Kang the Conqueror. It was already known the villain would appear in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania but this surprise early appearance suggests the character has a big role to play in the future.

1 The Fate Of The Illuminati (Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness)

The inclusion of the Illuminati in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was another surprise that was widely known before the movie came out. Still, it was a great thrill to see characters like Reed Richards and Black Bolt appear. But it was their exit from the movie that was really surprising.

After a brief scene where they confront Strange, the Illuminati are forced to fight Scarlet Witch and she makes short work of these powerful heroes. Even more shocking were the gruesome ways in which these heroes were dispatched.

NEXT: All MCU Phase 4 Movies and TV Shows (So Far), Ranked According To IMDb

- Jom Elauria
10 Best Indie Metroidvania Games On The Nintendo Switch, According To Ranker

Gorgeous 3D games may be all over the place these days but 2D Metroidvanias are still a hit for gamers today. From last year's Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights to the much-awaited Hollow Knight: Silksong, game developers have been releasing titles that take the best qualities of the retro adventure games Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

Independent game studios have not been shy when it comes to releasing Metroidvania titles as these types of games still hold massive audience appeal and allow them to create immersive worlds. On the website Ranker, users rate the top Metroidvania games available on the Nintendo Switch.

10 UnEpic (2011)

Created by Spanish game developer Francisco Téllez de Meneses, UnEpic is a Metroidvania game that follows the story of Daniel, an avid RPG player who gets transported into the game he's playing. In order to escape, he has to finish the game and beat the dark spirit that inhabits his body.

RELATED: 10 Best RPG Games For Beginners

First released for the PC in 2011, UnEpic gained more fans when it was ported to the Nintendo Switch in 2017. While many players say that they found the game to be limited in terms of narrative and replayability, they also found it witty, funny, and an overall decent take on the Metroidvania genre.

9 Xeodrifter (2014)

From the now-defunct Indie game studio Renegade Kid, Xeodrifter is a story about an intergalactic traveler who seeks to explore what the universe offers. The game features lush and vivid pixel art that successfully portrays the solitary interstellar life.

Xeodrifter has received favorable reviews due to its fun platforming segments, engaging combat, and smooth flow. In addition, the game also includes gun modification options that help gamers customize and enhance their playstyle. But despite following the Metroidvania formula, some players are not big fans of Xeodrifter's disjointed stages and underwhelming bosses.

8 Iconoclasts (2018)

It took eight years for Iconoclasts to see the light of day because it was only developed by one person. Indie developer Joakim "Konjak" Sandberg's hard work has resulted in a Metroidvania game that's well-received by gamers and critics alike for its original story, vibrant graphics, and excellent game mechanics.

Iconoclasts follow the story of Robin, a mechanic who seeks to overthrow a tyrannical religious organization. Using Robin's tools, players can fight enemies, solve puzzles, and explore hidden areas in the game. Gamers who are big fans of difficult boss fights will surely enjoy Iconoclasts because it offers over 20 different bosses to defeat.

7 Gato Roboto (2019)

In Gato Roboto, players assume the role of an armored mech-wearing cat who is on a mission to defeat monsters in an alien-infested world. Aside from offering a great exploration-filled and humorous Metroidvania experience, the main character Gato Roboto also has an extremely cute character design, so much so that has been adapted as a costume in the popular multiplayer game Fall Guys.

Despite being released in 2019, players say that Gato Roboto looks like a game that would have been released for the first Gameboy or Atari 2600. Nevertheless, it is surprisingly enjoyable thanks to its adorable graphics, good platforming sequences, and immense replayability.

6 Shantae And The Pirate's Curse (2014)

Shantae and the Pirate's Curse is the third game in the WayForward Technologies' Shantae series. Originally released for the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, the indie Metroidvania game has achieved further success after being ported to the Nintendo Switch in 2018.

RELATED: 10 Best Pirate-Themed Video Games Of All Time, Ranked 

Like its predecessors, the game still follows the story of a half-genie and her journey towards saving her home from nefarious buccaneer enemies. However, Shantae and the Pirate's Curse deviates from the other games in the franchise as it offers nonlinear worlds that are spread across different islands. Shantae and the Pirate's Curse is a must-play for every Metroidvania fan due to its intricate visuals, delightful writing, and solid gameplay.

5 Salt & Sanctuary (2016)

Besides taking inspiration from the Castlevania and Metroid games, Salt & Sanctuary also borrows certain aspects from the notorious FromSoftware "souls-type" games. The Metroidvania game combines the signature 2D platformer mechanics with the difficulty of "souls-type" games.

Salt & Sanctuary offers diverse game elements, with more than 600 items for players to use, as well as a class system that is reminiscent of adventure RPGs. In order to beat Salt & Sanctuary, players will have to go on missions that involve saving a lost princess and defeating a divine being.

4 Guacamelee! (2013)

In DrinkBox studio's Guacamelee!, players assume the iconic Metroidvania character Juan Aguacate, an agave farmer who transforms into a powerful hero after wearing a luchador mask. The indie game was first released in 2013 for other platforms but was later available on the Nintendo Switch eShop in 2018.

Guacamelee! succeeds as a Metroidvania title by having solid platform-heavy levels, a good combat system, and a huge map that's ripe for exploration. The game also sneaks in many game pop culture references that even the most casual players will recognize.

3 Axiom Verge (2015)

Axiom Verge is a Metroidvania game that was singlehandedly created by game developer Thomas Happ. The sidescroller Metroidvania is about a scientist who finds himself in a high-tech alien universe. Players of the game might find Axiom Verge's narrative to be confusing at first since it includes various sci-fi concepts such as cloning, time travel, and alternate worlds.

RELATED: 10 Best Modern Metroidvanias Ranked, According To Metacritic 

In spite of its mind-bending story, the game is well-enjoyed by Metroidvania fans thanks to its enthralling soundtrack, breathtaking visuals, and innovative weapons.

2 Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night (2019)

The team that developed Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night was led by the former series producer of the Castlevania franchise. So in a lot of ways, the game is a spiritual successor to the Castlevania titles. However, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night also gets to distinguish itself by sprinkling some Metroid aspects in its gameplay.

The game features Miriam, one of the best female protagonists in RPGs. In order to break a curse inflicted on her, Miriam needs to get through a castle and defeat the demons that lurk in its shadows. Some critics found the platforming mechanics to be a little difficult. But because of its remarkably-designed gameplay and combat, the indie Metroidvania has found a lot of love on the Nintendo Switch.

1 Hollow Knight (2017)

Team Cherry's Hollow Knight is one of the best Metroidvania games available to play on the Nintendo Switch. In fact, some even say that it can hold a candle against the two main games the genre is based on. In it, gamers play as a nameless knight who seeks to find the solution to a mysterious infection sweeping through the kingdom of Hallownest.

What makes Hollow Knight a supreme Metroidvania game is its spellbinding narrative that encourages exploration, as well as the amount of content it offers players. Even after finishing the main story of the game, Hollow Knight has plenty of post-launch downloadable content that brings new bosses, stories, and game modes.

NEXT: 10 Best Horror-Based Metroidvanias

- Aya Tsintziras
10 Arguments Every Gilmore Girls Fan Has Been In | ScreenRant

It's fair to say that Gilmore Girls fans will never give up hope for a season 2 of the Netflix revival A Year In The Life. With the series available on Netflix, viewers are still watching and talking about the episodes from all seven seasons, and the revival brought up some new questions about where Rory and Lorelai Gilmore's lives will go now that Rory is pregnant and Lorelai and Luke Danes have gotten married after a long time together. While a drama that doesn't include mysteries, the supernatural, or action scenes, Gilmore Girls still packs a punch in terms of storylines, characters, and love stories that fans share opinions on to this day.

From whether April Nardini is a likable character to Rory's main love interests Jess Mariano and Logan Huntzberger, fans of Gilmore Girls have all found themselves in some spirited and passionate debates about certain topics.

10 Do Lorelai And Christopher Belong Together?

While many fans ship Lorelai and Luke Danes throughout the entire series, others wonder if Lorelai and Christopher Hayden have so much in common that they should end up together.

RELATED: Lorelai And Christopher's Gilmore Girls Relationship Timeline, Season By Season

Fans can't help but debate if Christopher's immaturity and youthful nature are actually reasons why he loves Lorelai. Even though Lorelai does figure out how to be a great parent to Rory, she definitely has trouble growing up in some ways and shares Christopher's sense of humor and childlike innocence at times.

9 Is April Likable Or Unlikable?

Gilmore Girls fans have questions about April, including whether she is really as unlikable as many viewers say that she is.

Every fan of the show has thought long and hard about whether they love or dislike April at one point or another. Although some find April to be a know it all who can be too harsh and cold, others like her clever nature and the sweet and moving storyline when she bonds with Luke.

8 Should Lorelai Date Max?

It can be tough and tricky to cheer Lorelai on as she falls in love with Max Medina in season 1. In some ways, the two are perfectly matched, with a snow covered Stars Hollow date and a love of clever banter.

In other ways, the characters are on different planes when it comes to commitment, and Lorelai isn't ready for marriage and can tell that things aren't completely right. Fans are torn on whether Max is a good choice for Lorelai since on the one hand, dating Rory's English teacher seems wrong, but then again, Lorelai deserves happiness.

7 Should Rory Be With Jess Or Logan?

Since Dean Forester marries Lindsay Lister and then cheats on her with Rory, and that relationship ends up being a disaster, fans often debate whether Rory should end up with Logan or Dean. This was a hot topic before the Netflix revival, with fans split on the issue.

RELATED: 3 Reasons Rory Should Have Been With Each Gilmore Girls Love Interest

Even after watching these four episodes spanning the four seasons of a year, some viewers think that Logan should leave his fiance and commit to Rory. Others feel that there is still respect, love, and chemistry between Rory and Jess since he inspires her to write a book.

6 Does Rory's Revival Storyline Make Sense?

At the end of A Year In The Life, Rory is pregnant with her first child and feeling lost, spilling the news to Lorelai. Before this moment, Rory is floundering, unable to get her journalism career on the right track and wondering what she's going to do.

While some fans are upset with how Rory acts here, wondering why she's not the organized and smart person that she always was and why she isn't more successful, others debate that Rory's plotline is realistic as many struggle at the same age.

5 Is Rory A Great Friend To Lane And Paris?

Rory's best friends Lane Kim and Paris Geller are fan favorite characters, and they're both witty, intelligent, sweet, and confident.

Some fans think that Rory is a wonderful friend who takes time out of her busy schedules at Yale and Chilton to be there for her pals. Others think that Rory can be self-centered and too focused on her own problems to really care about Lane and Paris.

4 Is Dean Nice Or Controlling?

Gilmore Girls fans are confused by Rory and Dean in some instances, as they wonder if Dean tries to control Rory's life too much in high school. When the couple starts dating, Dean loves Rory's bookworm tendencies and intelligent personality, and he treats her well and with respect.

As the relationship deepens, fans think that Dean complains about Rory studying or thinking about college applications. While viewers like Dean, he's not perfect.

3 Is Rory's Character Arc Good Or Bad?

Gilmore Girls fans also argue about Rory's overall character arc during the first seven seasons of the show. Rory is the picture of a perfect on paper teenage girl who is sweet, successful, and quiet. She hates messing up and not looking flawless and struggles as she gets older.

RELATED: 10 Most Important Rory Gilmore Girls Episodes, Ranked

While some fans think that Rory should be more mature and take more responsibility for her actions, and she definitely shouldn't steal a boat, other viewers think that it's logical that Rory suffers when she doesn't live up to her own high expectations.

2 Is Jess A Sweetheart Or Really Badly Behaved In High School?

Gilmore Girls fans enjoy Jess as a character and yet there is always a big debate about whether he's too harsh during his high school time or whether he has reasons for acting this way.

While some fans feel that Jess's behavior is logical because his parents abandoned him and he's looking for love, others think that he is too mean to Lorelai, Luke, and residents of Stars Hollow. Jess's "bad boy" and rebel persona is attractive to some but others think that he's bad news for Rory.

1 Does Rory Lean On Lorelai Too Much?

Rory and Lorelai's close relationship is also a much debated topic, with fans unable to agree on whether their bond is healthy or too much.

Although fans enjoy the movie nights, chats over junk food, and fun that the mother and daughter share, some viewers think that Rory is a bit too dependent on Lorelai and that she should stand on her own two feet a bit more. One example is when Lorelai stays over the first night at Yale. Some fans think that this is adorable and charming, but others think that Rory should be okay on her own.

NEXT: 10 Times Lorelai & Rory Were Too Awkward To Watch Together On Gilmore Girls

- Cooper Hood
Why The Boys Season 3 Jeffrey Dean Morgan Cameo Never Happened

Jeffrey Dean Morgan's cameo in The Boys season 3 didn't happen and it appears scheduling issues are to blame. Prime Video's hit superhero satire series is loaded with some recognizable actors, such as Karl Urban's Billy Butcher, Jack Quaid, Antony Starr, and Erin Moriarty. The Boys season 3 continues to increase the star power by bringing Jensen Ackles of Supernatural fame into the fold as Soldier Boy, while Laurie Holden from The Walking Dead is also set to debut as Crimson Countess.

Thanks to its ever-expanding roster of Supes and the positive response to the series, The Boys has routinely been able to attract more stars. For a long time, it appeared that Jeffrey Dean Morgan was likely to join the cast at some point. The actor previously worked with Eric Kripke on Supernatural and has spent the last several years playing Negan in The Walking Dead. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a big fan of The Boys, though, and expressed his interest in working with Kripke again on the superhero series. While nothing was ever officially announced, it seemed plausible that season 3 would finally make it happen.

Related: The Boys Season 3: Who Is Soldier Boy? Powers & Origin Explained

However, in the lead-up to The Boys season 3 releasing on Prime Video in June, Eric Kripke and Jensen Ackles spoke to EW and confirmed that Jeffrey Dean Morgan's cameo did not happen this season. Ackles mentioned that there were discussions about getting his Supernatural co-star in The Boys season 3, but Morgan's busy schedule kept that from being possible. When the outlet then asked Kripke if fans will see Jeffrey Dean Morgan in The Boys season 4 (if it happens), he once again pointed out the difficulty in scheduling such an appearance.

Sad for me, happy for him: He's currently the lead, along with Lauren Cohan, on the Walking Dead spin-off. So, schedule-wise, I don't know. We might still remain star-crossed, unfortunately, because I did ask. We had a role come up, and my first question was, 'Well, is Jeffrey available?'

The scheduling complications to get Jeffrey Dean Morgan in The Boys season 3 aren't too surprising. Since Negan is now one of the main characters on The Walking Dead, Morgan has an incredibly busy filming schedule. Also, The Boys season 3 was in production during the COVID-19 pandemic, complicating matters further. With the added stress of traveling during the pandemic and quarantining upon arrival at a new set, it likely just became too time-consuming for Morgan to really pull off a cameo this season.

There is still a chance that Jeffrey Dean Morgan appears in future seasons of The Boys. Prime Video hasn't officially announced plans for season 4 yet, but that is all but guaranteed to come due to the show's popularity. There is also the opportunity for Morgan to get involved in some other shows linked to The Boys universe, such as the upcoming college spinoff or as part of a second season of The Boys: Diabolical.

More: The Boys Season 3: Butcher's Superpower Serum Changes Everything

Source: EW

- David Caballero
Doctor Strange & Clea & 7 Other Supercouples Set Up For The MCU's Future

Everyone is already talking about how Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ends with a post-credit scene introducing Clea to the MCU. The character is a powerful sorceress and the most significant love interest for Stephen Strange in the comics, meaning a potential third Strange film would likely showcase their relationship.

Like Strange and Clea, several other power couples seem to be coming to the MCU. Indeed, the cinematic juggernaut has laid the groundwork to introduce many other romances that would introduce some much-needed romance to the otherwise love-less world of Marvel, and fans can't wait to see them on the big screen.

Clea is a major part of Stephen Strange's life. She's a powerful sorceress and ruler of the Dark Dimension and Strange's student, lover, and eventual wife. Academy Award winner Charlize Theron will play Clea in the MCU, and fans can't wait to see her in action alongside Benedict Cumberbatch.

RELATED: 10 Things Only Comic Book Fans Know About Clea

With Strange officially over Christine, his relationship with Clea has the green light to move forward in the third film. Theron's Clea could also pop by other MCU projects, like Gwyneth Paltrow's Pepper Potts did during the Infinity Saga. Clea and Strange are the definition of a power couple, and their romance will further increase Strange's importance to the MCU.

Most comic book fans know Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne were two founding members of the Avengers. However, their cinematic counterparts played no part in the team's formation and remained largely on the sidelines during the first two Ant-Man films, allowing Scott Lang and Hope Van Dyne to take the spotlight instead.

With Janet back and reunited with Hank, the couple will finally get the attention they deserve in the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. As one of the most famous couples in comic books, Hank and Janet deserve to play prominent roles in the third Ant-Man film, particularly Janet as neglecting her would be a waste of an actress of Michelle Pfeiffer's caliber.

For the most part, Eternals made several intriguing choices with its titular characters. Among the most significant changes was turning Makkari into a woman and setting up a charming and flirtatious relationship with Druig. Fans quickly embraced them, earning the ship more popularity than the film's main love story between Sersi and Ikaris.

The mixed reception to the film makes its future seem uncertain. Indeed, Eternals should improve several things if it does get a sequel, but the interactions between Druig and Makkari are not one of them. The couple could also show up in other places, even if their team doesn't receive a sequel, because it's clear that fans want to see more of this unexpected romance.

Loki falling in love with another version of himself is one of the most inspired ideas in the MCU. The set-up is odd, but Tom Hiddleston and Sophia Di Martino sold the heck out of it, quickly turning the relationship into one of the strongest and best-developed love stories in the MCU -- not that the bar was too high.

RELATED: Every MCU Phase 4 Streaming Show, Ranked By Metacritic

The show will return for a second season, and Loki and Sylvie's ongoing relationship will surely play a crucial role in the story. Sure, Kang the Conqueror might be the main event, but Loki and Sylvie's romance is the beating heart of Loki, and the writers will surely want to explore more about this beloved and unique relationship.

Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman are coming to the MCU, whether played by John Krasinski and Emily Blunt or some other pair of actors. Arguably the most famous and important couple in Marvel will finally make their debut in the MCU, bringing the First Family to the forefront.

The romance between Reed and Sue isn't always easy, mainly because of Reed's notoriously difficult personality. Namor's constant pursuit of Sue's affections also makes for juicy drama, and the three are one of the best love triangles in comic books. It's possible Namor will factor in the relationship in the MCU but if not, Reed and Sue will have the spotlight all to themselves.

Matt Murdock made his big screen MCU debut during a short cameo in Spider-Man: No Way Home. Rumors about his appearance in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, plus the recent confirmation that he'll receive a Disney+ show, make his MCU transition final.

RELATED: 10 Storylines From The Netflix Series Disney+'s Daredevil Should Continue

Charlie Cox will play Murdock again, but there's no word on whether the show will be a reboot or a continuation, making it unclear whether Deborah Ann Woll will return as Karen Page. Fans hope she will, but perhaps the role will get recast. Whatever happens, the MCU's show will likely explore Matt's romance with Karen. They might also introduce Elektra to provide some extra drama, but Matt and Karen feel too important to be neglected by the MCU.

Eternals set up another couple for future MCU appearances. Sure, Sersi and Dane didn't share the electrifying chemistry Druig and Makkari had, but they are still a prominent romance in Marvel. In fact, they are one of the best relationships in the Avengers comics, and their love story plays an important role in many of the team's storylines.

With Sersi off-world and Dane on the cusp of assuming his Black Knight persona, their romance seems stunted for the time being. However, they will surely reunite sooner rather than later, bringing their love into the MCU. They might join the Avengers or stick to the supernatural corner of the cinematic universe; whatever they do, they'll most likely do it together.

It wouldn't be an overstatement to declare Hulkling and Wiccan the most popular couple from Marvel comics, at least currently. Their romance is a major reason for the Young Avengers' success and a landmark in LGBTQ+ representation.

Wiccan's younger version is already part of the MCU, but he still needs to reincarnate on Earth-616 and grow up. Hulkling has yet to arrive, but he might come as soon as Secret Invasion premieres on Disney+. Whether they come sooner or later, Wiccan and Hulkling would likely play a major role in the future MCU, not only as members of the Young Avengers but even as additions to the main Avengers line-up.

NEXT: Top 10 Hulkling And Wiccan Comics

- George Chrysostomou
She-Hulk: 10 Legal Cases We'd Love To See Jennifer Walters Take On

She-Hulk: Attorney At Law is heading to Disney+ on August 17th, and fans have already got a first glimpse of the show thanks to the recently released Marvel Studios trailer. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to expand again with the debut of Jennifer Walters, who is an incredibly talented and well-established lawyer in the comics.

It seems that the show will be taking a more comedic stance on proceedings but there are sure to be a variety of intriguing cases for She-Hulk to get stuck into, thanks to her role in a superhuman department. These cases might involve fun characters, play into the larger MCU or perhaps reflect certain arcs from the comics!

10 Emil Blonsky's Case

Emil Blonsky was once an experiment of the United States military, a soldier who thought he was going above and beyond his duty to protect against the Incredible Hulk. His mutation into the Abomination corrupted his very purpose and has led him to be placed behind bars himself.

RELATED: 10 Most Iconic She-Hulk Comic Book Panels

It would be fascinating to see Walters take on his case in court, considering the relationship Blonsky has had with her cousin, Bruce Banner. If she was to represent him, against her wishes, it would add an extra layer of intriguing conflict, that would likely eventually see her test her metal against a classic comic book villain.

9 A Matt Murdock Partnership

Matt Murdock finds himself in court most days, defending those who can't afford a traditional lawyer. While he becomes Daredevil at night, his time in the courtroom is actually full of success. Indeed, a continuation of his Netflix series could even include Jennifer Walters in one of his cases.

Of course, the first place that these two incredible lawyers could team up is in She-Hulk. It would be fun to see Walters firmly established in the MCU by standing alongside an equal like Matt Murdock who is no stranger to superpowered cases. If there's potential for the two supers to also battle alongside one another, then that's a bonus!

8 The Inhumans Resettlement

The Inhumans have been brought back into the Marvel Cinematic Universe after the appearance of Black Bolt in Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of MadnessWhile their initial show was less-than well received, there's an opportunity here to re-establish the team on screen.

Inhumansthe ABC series concluded with the Royal family stranded on Earth amongst their people. The Inhumans need to be resettled; New Attilan perhaps. It's a huge case but one that Jennifer Walters could surely take on, as she finds a way for these powered people to establish their own society outside of the Moon.

7 Damage Control

Not much has been done with Damage Control thus far. They have briefly been established as a Stark company and were tasked with cleaning up the messes left behind by the superhero community. There's sure to be a legal case to be had in connection, though.

RELATED: 9 Reveals From The Attorney At Law She-Hulk Trailer

Whether Damage Control is being sued for the potentially corrupt way they've carried out their work, or perhaps Damage Control is taking a super to court over their destructive activity, Jennifer Walters is surely perfectly placed to weigh in on such an influential case.

6 A Jessica Jones Investigation

Jessica Jones doesn't find herself in a courtroom very often, but she is an expert detective who could easily provide the kind of evidence necessary to win a case. She's the kind of ally that lawyers would be extremely happy to have around and could form a unique partnership with Walters.

Whether Jones will appear in She-Hulk remains to be seen, but fans would be thrilled to see Jennifer getting involved in a case that requires the skills of Alias Investigations. Plus, in the field of battle, these two strong and inspiring women would make a mighty team.

5 New Asgard's Affairs

New Asgard has been set up in Norway as a way to resettle the Asgardians, due to the destruction of their previous home. It's unclear how this decision came about or what kind of power these Gods now hold amongst humans, considering they once enjoyed such cosmic strength.

There are sure to be some legal cases involving New Asgard and the part they can play in the international community. Its people aren't just superpowered, they are literal deities. Jennifer Walters has the confidence and skill to wade into this kind of case; it would actually help define history for the future of the MCU.

4 Multiverse Variants

The Multiverse is clearly becoming a major part of the MCU moving forward. Fans have already seen breaches in the Multiverse, whether it's various iterations of Spider-Man breaking through or Loki changing the timeline. It's not known how the T.V.A. now operates with the downfall of He Who Remains.

RELATED: 10 Best Twitter Reactions & Memes After Watching The She-Hulk Trailer

That could mean that Variants might start popping up throughout Earth-616. If there is a Variant, what is the legality of their position in this reality moving forward? They can't assume the life of their doppelganger but seemingly aren't a citizen of anywhere. It's a complex case that She-Hulk might be able to solve.

3 Thunderbolts

The Thunderbolts have been heavily teased in the MCU already. Although there is a Dark Avengers type of team being built by Valentina, there's also room for a Thunderbolts unit as well. It might even be a group that Abomination is being brought into in She-Hulk. 

Of course, there are a lot of legal challenges to taking a group of villains into the field, especially if the government is using the kind of program that sees a bomb in the head of its members. Jennifer Walters would defend the rights of these criminals, even someone like Blonksy who has wronged her family.

2 A Prowler Theft

Prowler or Aaron Davis has only appeared once in the MCU thus far, but audiences would love to see the quirky character return. He's the uncle of Miles Morales and has been known to involve himself in some petty crimes. He might be in trouble with the law again!

Davis could be looking for legal counsel in the form of Jennifer Walters. The type of crime he's involved himself in would probably be ridiculous, but it would be interesting to see if the character has evolved into becoming Prowler, with the costume as well, and how he'd bounce off of his lawyer.

1 The Jester

One of the major cases that She-Hulk takes on in the comics involves a villain known as the Jester. The character is wrongfully accused of a crime and his case eventually leads to his death, much to the shame of Walters who feels there has been some injustice done.

The case is the first step in the direction of the second Civil War in Marvel Comics history. This battle might be set up in She-Hulk, although that does seem unlikely. Perhaps as a nod to the narrative and a way to include the wacky character, Jennifer could represent Jester and actually get some justice in the show.

NEXT: 10 Highly-Anticipated Streaming Shows Premiering Summer 2022

- Stephen Barker
8 Products That Were "Ruined" By A Movie, According To Reddit

Product placement is a clever way for studios to fund movies by featuring a certain brand's product in a film, and Ryan Reynolds cleverly snuck all four of his brands into a Deadpool 3 update. But sometimes product placement can have an adverse effect and backfire.

Between aluminum Christmas trees, New Balance, and pork, Redditors note the movies that temporarily ruined certain consumer products, and in some cases, the products went completely off the market shortly after the movies' releases. Redditors might be taking some liberties with the word "product," but whether it's a musical group, a type of meat, or an entire industry, users believe they all suffered from their appearances in these movies.

People might think pigs are filthy animals, but Babe will turn anybody into a pig lover. Wrydied explains, "Pork sales slumped after the Babe movie came out." According to The Irish Times, the sales of pork did in fact drop after the movie's release. That's hardly a surprise, as the titular pig is one of the cutest movie animals ever, and it'd be hard to eat any kind of meat afterward.

RELATED: 10 Movie Adaptations That Are Better Than The Books, According To Reddit

In fact, according to Vice, the movie even motivated its star, James Cromwell to become a vegan. And with the recent success of the Nicolas Cage-starring Pig, which follows a truffle hunter's relationship with a truffle-foraging pig, it's a wonder if the film will ahve the same effect.

Sideways follows Miles, a depressed writer and wine aficionado, who goes on a road trip to Santa Barbara County wine country. Midway through the movie, Miles screams, "I am not drinking any f**king merlot!" when he's dragged on a double date by his best friend.

Getting their knowledge from working at a wine store in Nebraska, Bks1979 explains, "Sideways tanked Merlot, but it also did a number on the Pinot Noir industry. As demand rose for it, everyone and their dog wanted in on it." Sideways greatly affected the wine industry, and according to NPR, sales for merlot decreased by 2%, but pinot noir sales increased by 16% after the film's release. However, ironically, the reason why Miles doesn't want to drink merlot isn't that he doesn't like it, but because it's his ex-wife's favorite drink.

Automirage04 notes, "A Charlie Brown Christmas killed aluminum Christmas trees." In the animated special, the aluminum Christmas tree is used as a symbol for the commercialization of Christmas, and The Baltimore Sun reports that it was the special that ended the faux trees' popularity.

But as A Charlie Brown Christmas, one of the most rewatchable Christmas movies, was first released in 1965, the special only halted the product's success, as aluminum Christmas trees had a huge comeback in the late '80s. The popularity reached an even higher peak than ever before in 2005. According to ABC, a rare pink aluminum Christmas tree sold at auction for almost $4,000.

In American Psycho, Patrick Bateman is a sociopath, a serial killer, and Huey Lewis and the News' number one fan. The businessman excitedly talked about the '80s band's hits as he was preparing to murder people, and because of that, YourLectorAndChef believes, "Huey Lewis and the News had their comeback dreams shattered by American Psycho."

RELATED: 10 Characters So Terrifying Even Their Actors Seem Scary, According To Reddit

Spotify wasn't around in 2000, so it isn't easy to see if fans' listening habits dropped off after the movie's release. But the band has toured several times since the movie's release and released more albums, and American Psycho likely would have had more of a positive effect on the song if anything. However, the movie's use of the band and their hit "Hip To Be Square" negatively affected Huey Lewis in other ways. According to Mlive, Lewis boycotted the movie because a press release from the studio claimed that he was offended by the violence, but he wasn't at all and he believed the studio said that to drum up excitement.

Few documentary movies have affected a certain industry in the way that Super Size Me did. The film is a hit on McDonald's, as Morgan Spurlock eats a McDonald's meal for every meal of the day for an entire month. His health decreased significantly, but it led to a positive change in the fast-food industry.

Because of the 2004 movie, McDonald's added salads to its menu, and as Quankalizer notes, "Didn't Super Size Me kill the supersize?" Not long after the movie was released, the fast-food chain removed the "super size" option, but according to Refinery 29, a McDonald's spokesperson claimed it had nothing to do with the movie and was a total coincidence.

When debating what products were ruined by a movie, TipProfessional6702 mentions, "Crazy Stupid Love and New Balances." New Balance trainers have become trendy, but a stylish Ryan Gosling mocking a very unstylish Steve Carrell for wearing them likely didn't do anything for brand recognition.

Funnily enough, that wasn't the only thing that Crazy Stupid Love ruined. The 2011 release hasn't aged well for unexpected reasons, as it references Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher's relationship, Steve Jobs, and features a Borders bookstore. And within a year of the movie's release, Moore and Kutcher broke up, Steve Jobs passed away, and Borders filed for bankruptcy.

Diminaband believes that the 2006 horror movie Hostel must have had a negative effect on the hostel industry at the time. The Redditor notes, "Not sure if this is a widespread thing or just me, but ever since is watched Hostel, I will never use one. When anyone says they stayed or are going to stay in a hostel get nervous for them."

RELATED: 10 Movies That Actually Lived Up To Their Sky-High Hype, According To Reddit

Though there are no available stats to back up the decrease in hostel occupancy after the movie's release, according to Fantastic Facts, it did deeply worry Slovaks about Slovakian tourism. Director Eli Roth was apparently invited to a fully-paid trip to the country by the Slovakian tourist board to prove that it wasn't full of industrial estates and murderous children.

One Hour Photo is about a creepy photo technician who works at a photo development store and stalks his customers. Rchoffer blames the thriller for killing the whole industry. The user claims, "Former photo lab owner here, and the Robin Williams movie caused a noticeable decline in my business for about a year."

However, while the Redditor might have a point and is speaking from experience, it's far from just the 2002 movie that killed photo development. Digital photography was becoming more affordable for the general public at the time, and it wasn't long after that until people were using their cell phones as cameras.

NEXT: 10 Roles That Hurt An Actor's Career, According To Reddit

- David Jenkins
Leila’s Brothers – first-look review

With the narrative density of a Russian doorstop novel and the searing interpersonal insights of a psychology textbook, Saeed Roustaee’s astonishing, nearly-three-hour family epic cracks the teetering stilts that are currently propping up life in contemporary Tehran. There’s Steinbeck in there too in its depiction of poverty’s gross indignities and a system that works to constantly beat you away from success. It’s like literary arthouse soap opera in the best possible way, a film whose every frame and line of dialogue is calculated to perfection, and the kind of credibly intricate plotting – with new reveals parcelled out like small gifts – that keeps you compelled (and then some) from the first frame till the last.

Taraneh Alidoosti’s Leila is the lone daughter of prideful, opium-addict patriarch Esmail (Saeed Poursamimi), and has four idiot brothers: Payman Maadi’s Manouchehr, who’s keen to drag himself out of penury by becoming involved in a fatally dodgy pyramid scheme; Farhad Aslani’s Parviz, a layabout with five children whose professional aspirations have peaked at toilet cleaner; Mohammad Ali Mohammadi’s Farhad, a muscle-headed wrestling fan who’s in thrall to the flighty whims of his father; and finally, Navid Mohammadzadeh’s cowardly Alireza, who Leila earmarks as the one hope this tragic clan have for salvation, though she’s going to need to convince him of some very tough home truths before he can step up.

The plot involves Esmail’s burning desire to be respected by peers and elders who have humiliated and abused him all his sorry life. He has been selected to become “family patriarch” following the death of a cousin, and this role would finally see him rise up the ranks of the ad hoc hierarchy, while having to pay a princely sum for the privilege. Leila sees the tradition as poppycock, and she’s not only desperate for her hapless father to avoid exploitation, but for his stash of 40 gold coins (worth tens of millions of Tomans) to go towards the deposit for a shop in an up-and-coming Tehran mall that would allow her brothers to finally flourish.

Despite the title of the film, Leila isn’t the central character, and her canny manipulations come in many cases from off camera. At points she appears as the lone moral beacon of good sense, yet Roustaee does not allow anyone to emerge as a completely sympathetic presence (and vice versa), as the revelation of secrets and the sudden shifts in the situation leave everyone open to criticism and, more often than not, on the brink of total failure.

The film is shot with unfussy precision, as best to capture the nuances of the brilliant ensemble. There are many scenes in the film with seven or eight people in the frame at one time, and it’s a small miracle in and of itself that Roustaee and cinematographer Hooman Behmanesh are able to marshal and block the actors in a way that keeps everyone front-and-centre to the action.

Yet it’s the screenplay here that’s the real showpiece, a sinuous and lively compendium of epic conversations and paradoxical arguments that are pitched to emotional and narrative perfection. The amount of heavy lifting that Roustaee does to couch his narrative shifts in a bedrock of credibility is as astounding as it is entertaining, and it’s hard to see how his players could’ve served this jaw-dropping achievement in writing any better.

Leila’s Brothers is an evisceration of the patriarchy and entrenched tradition that, at the same time, takes great pains to explain why people blindly cling to them as a kind of existential balm. The lilting generational shift, not to mention the constant spectre of death which hangs over the players, only adds to the dramatic stakes, framing this specifically-calibrated tale of one family’s eternal woes as a grand fresco of universal wisdom. A knockout.

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- Hannah Strong
Paris Memories – first-look review

It starts out as an ordinary day for Mia, a journalist and translator who works at a radio station in Paris. She takes her motorcycle to work; she meets her husband Vincent (Grégoire Colin) for dinner. When Vincent – a doctor at a local hospital – declares he has to leave early due to a work emergency, Mia is dejected, and decides to stop for a drink on her way home to avoid a sudden rainstorm. She sits in a booth and observes the strangers around her; two Asian women taking photographs of each other; a group celebrating someone’s birthday. Then all hell breaks loose.

Months later, after surviving the deadly terrorist attack, Mia is struggling to cope with her trauma. Physical wounds may have healed, but she struggles to recall details of the night, and her relationship with her husband has become strained after several months of staying with her mother to recuperate. In an attempt to unpack her feelings about what happened to her, Mia retraces her steps from the evening in question, which lead her to meet other survivors, including the charming Thomas (Benoît Magimel).

Alice Winocour’s Paris Memories is one of two films at Cannes this year inspired by the 2015 Bataclan attacks, the other being Cédric Jimenez’s Novembre – which takes a different approach as a thriller about the hunt to catch the perpetrators. It’s clear that the wounds from the attack still run deep, and no more so than for Winocour, whose brother survived the Bataclan. The conversations she had with him about his experience inspired this film, though this is a fictionalised account about an attack that is never really explored – the perpetrators are unseen, and mentions to them are vague apart from it being stated that there were several attacks throughout Paris that night.

This is likely to avoid taking any political stance, but perhaps the wider point can be made that to the victims of the attack, the motivation is secondary to the life-changing impact. Mia meets a teenager whose parents died, and a woman who accuses her of selfishly hiding inside a locked bathroom while others tried to get inside. Grief takes many forms, and Mia’s own has previously been a sort of numbness that frustrated her husband. Through a friendship with fellow survivor Thomas she begins to understand what happened to her that night, and seeks out the restaurant worker who sat with her while the attack was going on.

Amid the film’s exploration of trauma, Winocour shines a light on the abuse of migrant labour within the restaurant industry. As Mia searches for the man who comforted her, she learns that many of the restaurant employees were never accounted for due to their undocumented status. After the attack they simply vanished – whether they died or fled out of fear of deportation. Including this subplot is a deft move by Winocour and her team, as it nods to the fact that victim counts often fail the most vulnerable, and the media has a bias towards white, middle-class victims when it comes to reporting acts of terror. Although Winocour does center this experience with Virginie Efira’s character, this is directly rooted in her brother’s experiences.

Although a romantic subplot between Mia and Thomas feels a little contrived, Winocour’s film is a poignant mediation on personal trauma and the importance of memory. For Mia, reclaiming her memories is a way to move forward, to understand what happened to her and start to rebuild. But the film also serves as a tribute to Paris – to remembering that it is possible to love a place despite experiencing something terrible there. When Mia travels the city on her bike or looks out at the square where tributes to lives lost are being cleared away, the lasting connection between her and the city is clear. Cemented by Efrie’s restrained, empathetic performance, Paris Memories is a deft exploration of recovery, and a moving tribute to Winocour’s brother Jérémie and those who were caught up in the Paris attack of November 13 2015.

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- Charles Bramesco
Fogo Fatuo – first-look review

Leave it to João Pedro Rodrigues, the horniest scamp in all of Portugal, to coax out the roiling currents of homoeroticism that have always raged beneath the surface of the firefighting profession. It’s a pretty gay job: men with rippling, muscular physiques sleep next to one another in tiny beds, bare all in steam-filled locker rooms, and slide down thick, hard poles on their way to sweaty acts of valor. And in this queer musical fantasia spurting across sixty-seven economical minutes, these intrepid heroes are permitted to drop the subtext and give in to the borderline pornographic vibe of any given firehouse, here turned into a playland of high-minded pleasure without shame.

Rodrigues is no garden-variety smut-peddler, well aware that these unshy depictions of the male form will all be that much hotter with an intellectual foundation undergirding it. Porn, a term fairly applied to a film in no small way oriented around the spectacle of sexuality, thrives on the tension of difference, and there’s no dynamic richer than that between a spoiled little rich boy and the callous-handed worker itching to break him in.

After a flash-forward overture set on his deathbed in the year 2069 (nice), the brace-faced, curly-headed Alfredo (Mauro Costa) decides he wants to get a taste of the real world beyond the airless palace in which his nobly-descended family eats hilariously austere dinners. Motivated by a TV report about a spike in forest infernos, he joins up with the local firefighting force and falls in with the beefcake Afonso (André Cabral), with whom his sexual chemistry will quickly approach supernova levels.

While the flirtation and eventual carnal relationship between them leaves little to the imagination — we see everything short of ejaculate physically leaping out of the urethra, treated to plenty of before and after — it’s made even more scorching by the teased-out disparities of class and race. When Afonso and Alfredo consummate their attraction with a vigorous double handjob, they work each other into a froth with race-play dirty talk that follows up on the African sculptures looming over Alfredo’s family dinner table. (“Insurgent!” “Slave-driver!” Sploosh!)

Rodrigues’ erudite sense of humor is the distinguishing factor bringing to the Croisette what would otherwise be sold at adult bookstores. He delights in mixing the ostensible vulgarity of nudity with references and iconography of high culture; in one standout scene, jock-strapped and ass-naked firefighters razz their new recruit by acting out tableaux of classical artworks and quizzing him on the source of the homage. Later on, they click through a slideshow of dicks and compare each one to a specific type of forest based on girth and pubic hair styling. Sex should be fun and just a tiny bit goofy, an intuitively understood real-life concept that nonetheless eludes filmmakers all over the globe.

The essence of Rodrigues’ hormone-brained genius is no different than that of Gene Kelly, hinging upon the ability to translate the everyday materials of the world around them into art that breaks out of and then through the humdrum. Just as Kelly’s painter in An American in Paris could turn something as quotidian as a morning routine into a rousing dance number, there’s nothing in Rodrigues’ arch dimension that doesn’t bristle with erotic potential. Firefighters may pose for calendars specifically playing upon the sexual element of the occupation — these ones most certainly do — but it seems like Rodrigues could find the friskiness in anything, anywhere. Guided equally by his omnivorous mind and his insatiable nethers, he officiates a happy marriage of cerebral commentary and blind lust, putting the “anal” back in “analysis.”

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- Ryan Coleman
Domingo and the Mist – first-look review

It may be one programmer’s predilections, it may be the disorienting experience of COVID and various quarantines finally making it into films, or perhaps it’s my own self-selection bias, but a trend is emerging at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. A significant number of the lower profile films in the Official Selection mingle fantasy with reality, never fully giving way to either. 

Pietro Marcello’s Scarlet finds witches in the woods, Elena López Riera’s The Water has an enchanted river which takes women during monsoons, Ali Cherri’s The Dam revolves around a sentient tower of mud in the Sudanese desert, and Costa Rican writer/director Ariel Escalante Meza fills his film Domingo and the Mist with a beguiling fog which seems to bring the dead back to life. Or does it? What’s interesting about all these films, and Meza’s in particular, is how open they leave the fantastic element up to interpretation. 

Domingo and the Mist follows a later middle-aged man named Domingo on a quest to save his home in the Cascajal de Coronado area of Costa Rica from demolition. The region is extravagantly lush – wild, green overgrowth spreads out in all directions, and climbs palm trees toward the sky. But someone wants to pave paradise and put up a highway. All but Domingo and two friends, Paco and Yendrick, have accepted the buyout by the time the film begins. 

Among the three Domingo is the most radical in his resistance to the dispossession attempt. In an early scene he throws a rock at a surveyor and shouts, “screw you, fucker!” Once he starts hearing gunfire at night and sees a threatening man on a motorbike riding around the remaining occupants’ homes at all hours, Domingo brings a shotgun everywhere he goes. But he has more to lose than just his land and livelihood. 

When the mist rolls in and blankets the jungle canopy, Domingo throws open his windows. It pours as smoothly and seductively as cream into his home, where it swirls around him and begins to speak in the voice of Sylvia, Domingo’s dead wife. Some of Meza and DP Nicolás Wong Díaz’s best work in the film is in staging and capturing the mist. At times it races through tight jungle corridors toward a far away clearing; other times it rises and spreads as gently as a loaf of bread, cottoning over the street lamps and diffusing the light exquisitely. Impressively, all the effects are practical.

Domingo and the Mist isn’t exhilaratingly paced or full of flashy performances or camera work, which may lose more impatient viewers. While it hews to a straightforward narrative arc throughout, Meza allows the film to drift into an atmospheric, meditative mode, full of long takes and glacially slow pans, as borderless and vaporous as the mist itself. 

The film is also as heartrendingly emotional as it is bitingly political. “You have no idea how much I miss you,” Domingo says to the mist. And though we hear Sylvia recite poetic passages over scenes of Domingo and the jungle, we never see her spirit in the mist. Perhaps Domingo’s real connection is with the land, and his wife, his great love, is inseparable from the love of home.

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- Alexandria Slater
Love According to Dalva – first-look review

Less gratuitous but similar to the psychology of Jamie Godard’s Toys Are Not for Children, Love According to Dalva explores the ways tenderness, sexuality, and paternal love intersect within a child. “I’m not a girl, I’m a woman,” are the stabbing words spoken by Dalva (Zelda Samson), a 12-year-old girl who wears heavy makeup, scrapes her hair into a bun and dresses in middle-aged women’s clothes.

The film opens with officers taking away Dalva’s father, Jacques (Jean-Louis Coulloch). The camera resists lingering on Jacques, clutching onto Dalva’s gaze and capturing every flinch and tear of pain. Enraged and confused as to why she’s been ripped away from her father and placed into a temporary care home with other neglected children and teens. Dalva initially refuses to comply with her new social worker Jayden (Alexis Maneti). As she demands to be reunited with her father, who she only refers to by his first name, the film unpacks the complexity of controlling relationships through various interactions with Jayden.

It’s a fragile subject matter to explore. But when one in 20 children have been abused in the UK, is our harrowing reality – it’s integral. Nicot previously volunteered at an emergency youth centre, where she learned the story of a 6-year-old girl who had lived alone with her father, who sexually abused her. The characters in Love According to Dalva are fictitious, but the story reflects reality.

One shattering scene in a police station shows a chilling interaction between Dalva and Jacques. It forces the audience to witness a raw manifestation of an abuser’s conditioning of a child. However, Nicot focuses on the victim’s story and recovery, allowing little screentime of Jacques, and forbidding him of an explored backstory or psyche.

What follows isn’t a sensationalised depiction of trauma but an autonomous journey of learning how to be a child that subverts the standard victim narrative. It’s a reverse coming-of-age story. As she unties her hair, wipes off the dark purple lipstick and rebelliously takes a drag of a cigarette, Dalva begins to deconstruct her perceptions and navigate her identity beyond trauma.

Nicot’s experience as a casting director aids in the organic performance of each cast member, with an exceptional performance by Samson. She takes on the heaviness of Dalva’s character with a balance of maturity and vulnerability. Dalva’s story isn’t one of individualism, but one that speaks to the collective and pays tribute to the power of solidarity and friendship through the character of Samia (Fanta Guirassy), Dalva’s roommate – a refreshingly fleshed out character played with heart and authenticity by Guirassy.

Nicot’s debut is a sensitive and intimate insight into the lives experienced by too many. Handled with delicacy and bravery, Nicot has crafted a powerful anatomy of the imprint of sexual abuse. Love According to Dalva is a voice for those who can’t speak out.

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- Mark Asch
Tori and Lokita – first-look review

Human trafficking has figured frequently in the films of the Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne since their breakthrough La Promesse, in 1996. It’s a subject suited to their philosophy, or philosophies—spiritual, political, aesthetic. The human commodity speaks to the imperiled status of the soul in the material world, while revealing the transactional web that structures society, in particular the black-market ecosystem which sets the boundaries of their rigorously cause-and-effect narratives, shot handheld in unobtrusively long takes which often tail the characters around Belgium’s less-fashionable urban environs. (They literally follow the money.) Tori and Lokita, about a teenage girl and preadolescent boy from Benin on the outskirts of Liege—him with papers, her without—is the latest variation on this theme. We find this time a more despairing Dardennes film than the redemptive hits of Cannes competitions past: Tori and Lokita is at once more brutal and more maudlin. Has the world changed or have they changed?

We open with Lokita (Mbundu Joely) close-up, looking anxious, as an immigration official skeptically questions the story of Tori (Pablo Schils) being her brother. Tori, who was at risk in Benin, has legal status in Belgium (which still means he needs to be back to his dormitory by 10pm), but the Belgian bureaucracy doubts Lokita is really his sister. For us, however, there’s no doubting their bond. They sing each other lullabies, and Tori shows Lokita the drawings he made at school, and they care for each other. Tori keeps the pills for Lokita’s panic attacks, and Lokita shoulders the worst of their work in the shadow economy.

No filmmaker since Bresson has depicted cash transfers with more specificity and care than the Dardennes. Here, Lokita has hands from all directions reaching into her pocket and pulling her this way and that. The smuggler that brought her over is keeping a close eye on his investment; her mother on the phone relies on her remittances for her other children’s school fees. The Dardennes, with the precision of their storytelling, teach you to watch Lokita’s finances as closely as she has to. Whenever she parts with a bill, you know who gave it to her, and what for. 

Lokita needs her papers to get legitimate work, as a home health aide – hardly a bright future given the home-care industry’s notorious exploitation of migrant labor, as the Dardennes surely know, but better than running drugs. Tori and Lokita make their deliveries on behalf of a chef in a pizza restaurant, who switches out their phones for burners and sets aside leftovers for them to take home at the end of the night. If they want the leftovers, they have to ask him for them, every time. If they want a box to take the food home in, they have to ask for that, too. Every interaction is fraught with knowledge of their precarity and lack of leverage: the pizza chef also pays Lokita for extras, for which he sets the rate, and the terms.

We know who Lokita and Tori are – we see them with each other, in the rare moments when they’re off the clock. Every other relationship they have is strictly transactional, with people whose true, ugly faces are revealed only gradually, as Lokita discovers that the only people willing to make room for her in European society are the people who see a way to use her. The Dardennes outline a social indictment with familiar clarity and an undimmed faith in the purity of familial love—the purity, if not the power.

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- Hannah Strong
The Silent Twins – first-look review

Jennifer and June Gibbons were identical twins who moved with their family to Haverfordwest in Wales in 1974. They loved writing, art, and had vivid imaginations which enabled them to create fantastical stories. They also refused to speak to anyone except each other, which earned them the monicker ‘The Silent Twins’ and resulted in ostracisation and bullying from other children at school, as well as ill-treatment from their teachers. After attempts to separate the girls by placing them in different boarding schools resulted in them becoming catatonic, they were allowed to remain together, but later bouts of drug use and petty crime resulted in them being reprimanded to Broadmoor Psychiatric Hospital indefinitely, where they remained for 11 years. In 1993, when they were moved to a less restrictive clinic in Wales, Jennifer died during transit. The cause of her death has never been fully determined.

This context is important for understanding Agnieszka Smoczyńska’s film adaptation of journalist Majorie Wallace’s book about Jennifer and June, which boasts a fierce imagination and utilises various creative techniques in an attempt to celebrate the life of two women who were failed by society time and time again. Despite the noble intentions of Smoczyńska and her screenwriter Andrea Seigel, The Silent Twins is a broad strokes attempt at showing the Gibbons Sisters’ lives, one that fails to represent the institutional racism and discrimination which had a profoundly damaging effect on them and quite possibly led to Jennifer’s premature death.

Smoczyńska’s film opens with an animated credits sequence that breaks the fourth wall as Eva-Ariana Baxter and Leah Mondesir Simmons (who play the Gibbons twins as children) introduce the cast. It’s a charming scene that suggests a levity the film is keen to thread through the story, as Jennifer and June’s shared language and imagination provide an escape from a world that continually refuses to understand them. The animated and musical scenes woven through the film are naive in composition, inspired directly by the extensive diaries and stories the twins wrote throughout their childhood, adolescence and eventual time in Broadmoor. This is contrasted against a stark reality full of sour-faced bureaucrats and kindly but concerned onlookers who consistently reinforce the idea that the twins’ strong bond is detrimental to their health.

This is where the film falters. Growing up in the 1980s, particularly as a Black child, particularly as a Black child with a perceived mental illness, would likely have come with a great deal more stigma, racism and hardship than Smoczyńska and Siegel depict. Their time at Broadmoor, while unpleasant, does not relay that the hospital was considered one of the most notorious psychiatric facilities in the country – a place where murderers including Peter Sutcliffe and Ronnie Kray were held, and the subject of frequent instances of patient abuse. The Gibbons family has spoken about how twins’ health declined as a result of being held against their will for 11 years, but this film does not do a great deal to condemn the draconian structures in the UK that purported to protect the twins but in reality only served to harm them.

One has to wonder if a Black filmmaker and a Black screenwriter would have had a more damning take on the injustices which the Gibbons twins faced through their childhood and adult lives. Letitia Wright and Tamara Lawrance give their all as June and Jennifer, and their younger counterparts are surely stars on the rise, but the story stops short of condemning the cruelty of the system they were raised within, which feels crucial to understand why they might have retreated so much into themselves and the imaginary worlds they created together.

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- Charles Bramesco
H Jon Benjamin: ‘When I’m Bob, I’m a hamburger cook and not a singer’

Since 2011, H Jon Benjamin has brought the beef as the voice of Bob Belcher, exasperated paterfamilias on the restaurant-set sitcom Bob’s Burgers. The fixture of TV animation has now super-sized itself for a feature-length movie, and though the recipe has been slightly tweaked for a cinema-ready look, the comedy is still both rare and well done.

LWLies: Aside from a longer run time, how is Bob’s Burgers different in movie form?

Benjamin: I hate to say this so simply, but it’s much more filmic. In its look, I mean. They spent a lot of time, which a movie allows for, to push the style of the animation, the colour, the ‘camera’ moves. The lighting is even its own thing. The show is a big production on time constraints, and so you can’t always obsess over all that. Not that the show doesn’t look good, because it does, but you have to set some things aside when you’re on tight deadlines. They’ve also amped up the dramatic conceit, kind of a bigger story than usual for Bob’s. I think you could watch this if you haven’t seen much of the show, and still enjoy the movie as its own very strange combination of murder mystery, comedy, and musical.

What’s the process for recording an episode, and did that have to be changed in producing a film? The rhythm and rapport between characters are so central to the show.

Since the beginning of the show, it’s been all group sessions, even in the demo for the pilot presentation to Fox. We were all in the booth, which could be a precarious situation, because you don’t want bleed-over in the audio. We used lots of partitions, but everyone did the scenes together, still do. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we couldn’t do that with the movie. This was a little more traditional, in that they backed into the audio recording which is usually done first. This time, they had to animate first, which I assume is like most animated movies. For us, total opposite.

It’s funny, when you sing in character as Bob, you’re on pitch, but you also have the flat affect of the way he talks. Do you sing as Bob the same way you sing as yourself?

First off, I take issue with your assertion that I’m on pitch. There’s just no way. Maybe they’re Auto-Tune-ing me, some kind of pitch correction. I’d guess they do that for many of the cast members. But fine, I’ll give it to you that I may occasionally hit the correct note. But I give myself a wide berth because when I’m Bob, I’m a hamburger cook and not a singer. The show has gotten more and more musical as it’s gone on, and the movie has three really big numbers in it. They’re stuck in my head. But I don’t think I should sing, professionally. Maybe a Johnny Cash sort of conversational thing.

What the Germans call sprechgesang.

Yes, thank you. That can be the name of the first album: ‘Jon Benjamin’s Sprechgesang’.

Having lived with him for more than a decade, what’s your favourite thing about Bob Belcher?

Bob’s not entirely a positive person, but he’s not a skeptic. I like his decency, his supportive nature, his willingness to learn from his family. He likes to encourage the people around him, except for Teddy, and even then he comes through whenever it really matters. I like the positive qualities that he can embody. He’s a good person.

I only learned while prepping for this interview that creator Loren Bouchard originally conceived this show as about a family of cannibals.

It’s pretty grounded now, but yeah, it started off with a more arch concept. Fox talked him back off that ledge. The last hint of that is in the first episode, where there’s the scare about serving human meat in the burgers. But it still goes to some more adult places, like the one where Bob drives the taxi, meets the sex workers, smokes crack. We were part of this adult animation block Fox did on Sunday nights, and so that worked for Loren, who came from Adult Swim. His work there pushed a little further. And yet still not really a dark show, Home Movies.

Except for the interior of your character Coach’s life, that is.

Heh, yeah. Coach is a far more morbid character than Bob. I think as Loren and I got older, his major note was often ‘maybe let’s take it down a notch in terms of darkness, this doesn’t have to be a tragedy.’ I just tried to play Coach like a very sad alcoholic, like most of the coaches I had when I was younger, playing tennis or basketball.

Bob’s Burgers has been pretty consistent for twelve seasons now. What’s the key to the show’s longevity?

To the credit of Loren, [executive producer] Nora Smith, [producer] Bernard Derriman, and the other people running the show, they’ve stayed close and hands-on through the run. It comes down to the writing, and this is out of the ordinary in that I believe we still have most of our original writing staff. There’s a lot of turnover, and we’re not totally outside of that, we’re seeing people who’ve been on the show for twelve years going off to make their own series. But on the whole, there’s a general continuity.

Last thing – how do you take your burger?

I take it like a man, is how I take it. I shove the whole thing in my mouth. Usually, I’ll try to eat it in one bite. And I’m not talking sliders, either; a regulation burger. If I go to any number of hamburger-based chains, you’ll see me there as the man cramming the entire burger in his face. Maybe with a small sip of milkshake to get it all down. That’s how I’ve always done it, and how I’ll continue to do it. Until I choke to death, of course. Which has been the plan all along! Death by hamburger. And that’s how they’ll know it’s time to end Bob’s Burgers.

The post H Jon Benjamin: ‘When I’m Bob, I’m a hamburger cook and not a singer’ appeared first on Little White Lies.

- Simon Bland
“There were certain dance moves that were all me” – Jared Gilman on Moonrise Kingdom at 10

What kind of bird are you? If you’re still unsure, you shouldn’t be. You’ve had a full decade to answer this unassumingly deep question posed by Jared Gilman’s super confident cub scout Sam in Wes Anderson’s 2012 film, Moonrise Kingdom.

We’ll give you a pass if you don’t have an answer though because perhaps it’s an evolving thing. In fact, as time goes on, even the guy who asked it isn’t so sure. “It feels like a different life or something,” the now 23-year-old Gilman laughs. “We shot it almost 11 years ago – that’s almost half my lifetime. It’s very surreal to watch it now,” he admits. “I get flooded with flashbacks.”

Gilman was just 12 and being chauffeured around from audition to audition by his mum when he landed on Anderson’s radar. Unbeknownst to him, the director of Bottle Rocket, Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums had lined-up another personal tale for his next feature. This time, it was a gentle coming-of-age adventure about a young orphan boy who falls in love with a New Penzance islander named Suzy (Kara Hayward).

Following an intense pen-pal romance, they decide to make it official and elope, angering Suzy’s dowdy parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) and attracting the unwanted attention of Tilda Swinton’s sinister Social Services. As they try to live out their François Truffaut-esque fantasy, the island’s inhabitants rally to hunt them down, led by Bruce Willis’ kindly Captain Sharp, Edward Norton’s nice-yet-clueless Scout Master Ward and a troop of fellow scouts.

“The first time I met Wes was my first callback for the part,” recalls Gilman. “I obviously had no point of reference for directors, I just remember it was very surreal and exciting. I had no idea if I’d ever get the part but just getting a chance to meet an actual director was incredible enough. I wouldn’t say I was confident, it was more assurance. I was nervous to an extent, but it was a fun nervousness. It was like, ‘This is what I want to be doing in my life and I’m getting an opportunity to do it really soon.’”

After bagging the part (according to Gilman’s mum, who saw an interview with Anderson after the film debuted, it may have had something to do with his look: “Wes pointed out the glasses and the hair as something that stuck out to him,”) Gilman’s next task was to become acquainted with his on-screen girlfriend. “We got along pretty well,” he says of his first meeting with Kara Hayward. “The reality of shooting a movie when you’re a kid is that you’re also in school a lot so when we weren’t doing scenes, for the most part we were doing classwork.”

However, when they weren’t studying, the pair had a fair amount of romantic moments to film – no doubt a challenge for any actor, let alone those who are yet to hit adulthood. “The dance scene on the beach, that was the last thing Kara and I filmed,” says Gilman, “and that was intentional because Wes wanted the two of us to feel very comfortable with each other. It was a closed set. In the script, it said, ‘Sam does something vaguely like the twist’. I remember we went into this little house the production was using and did a rehearsal. Wes directed me a little bit, but there are certain dance moves that were all me.”

As for walking the delicate tightrope of showing physical intimacy between sam and Suzie, Gilman explains: “Wes was aware we were kids having to do those scenes. There was a moment midway through production – I think it was when Sam and Suzie are getting married – where Wes took us into the church tent and was like, ‘How about you guys try hugging to break the ice a little bit?’. We hugged and were like, ‘Alright, that was okay.’”

How does it feel revisiting those tender sequences as a young adult? “I guess when I’m watching those scenes, I’m just in the moment for the most part,” reasons Gilman, before revealing that he “did get ribbed a little bit by friends and stuff after, but that’s just what happens when you’re a kid.”

When the pair weren’t sharing scenes together, they were learning first-hand from some of the best actors in the business. “Working with the cast was extremely surreal,” says Gilman. “I’d grown up watching a bunch of Bill Murray movies, and when I got cast my parents made sure I watched Die Hard. Bill taught me how to tie a tie at one point and Jason Schwartzman was just super nice. Working with Tilda was fun because I had gone to see her in the Narnia film for my seventh birthday. I didn’t tell her that though.”

Moonrise Kingdom remains one of Anderson’s sweetest films, and for Gilman, the experience of making it evokes a special kind of nostalgia. “It’s impact really hit me when Halloween rolled around and there were lots of people dressing up as Sam and Suzy; it became a minor cliché,” he laughs. “But ultimately, it’s because it was a movie that, for lots of people, was instrumental in one way or another. It’s something I can look back on and say, ‘Yeah, that was an instrumental movie for me, too.’”

The post “There were certain dance moves that were all me” – Jared Gilman on Moonrise Kingdom at 10 appeared first on Little White Lies.

- Lucy Vipond
Luzzu

A diversion from the picture-postcard depictions of Malta we’re used to seeing, Luzzu sees Maltese-American filmmaker Alex Camilleri capture a long-established culture that is new to the screen – one which may never appear again.

The film takes its name from the traditional Maltese fishing boat; the source of its lead’s livelihood. Just like his father and grandfather before him, Jesmark (Jesmark Scicluna) is an artisanal fisherman. But with the high price of living in the modern world and a declining fish population, he struggles to provide for his wife and infant son. A leak in the boat leads to deliberation and desperation. Should he repair his luzzu or trade it (and his heritage) in for an EU pay-out?

The winner of the Special Jury Award for acting at Sundance in 2021, Luzzu features real fishermen in each role. The street-cast non-professional actors were allowed to improvise their lines, which creates conversations that feel mundane yet authentic and emotive. As times are hard, they discuss violating the restrictive policies that prevent them from catching certain fish off-season. As one man confides, “It’s like we are criminals now”.

Jesmark’s woes are never shown in isolation. His friend, played by his real-life cousin, abides by the rules and helps the young fisherman as he is tempted to take home a single prohibited fish that could pay for his son’s medical bills. The camera closes in on them at ease throwing lines, skinning fish and unwinding and cutting nets. He warns Jesmark, “Without a boat, you lose your way.”

Meanwhile, tension arises with Jesmark’s wife as she pressures him to find another job; she suggests trawling, something he is morally opposed to. The harsh reality is that a sustainable lifestyle isn’t possible under capitalism. However, his Jesmark’s begins to wilt as he finds himself part of a black-market operation that is consequential to the other local fishermen.

The water itself is second to the vast amount of vessels floating on it. It’s never at peace. As Camilleri intends, the sea is the men’s factory or office and reality. Cinematographer Léo Lefèvre keeps things light; the sun is neither golden nor presents a false sense of optimism, but the heat on screen is palpable.

Clearly taking inspiration from Italian neorealism, Camilleri never embellishes or trivialises the landscape of fishing in Malta but rather presents it as it really is. Luzzu is a foreboding warning with no climax. A quiet call to action in the vein of Andrea Arnold’s Cow.

Luzzu screens at Curzon Bloomsbury on 27 May. For more info visit curzon.com

ANTICIPATION. Social commentary with Maltese fishermen. 3

ENJOYMENT. A play-by-play of one fisherman’s conscience as he tries to catch up with the world. 3

IN RETROSPECT. The film achieves what it intends to, but perhaps lacks personality. 3

Directed by Alex Camilleri

Starring Jesmark Scicluna, Marlene Schranz, David Scicluna

The post Luzzu appeared first on Little White Lies.

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- Ben Kenigsberg
Cannes 2022: Decision to Leave, Tori and Lokita, Funny Pages

I'm fully confident that on a second viewing, Park Chan-wook's "Decision to Leave" will be much easier to follow, and it says something that on first viewing I was happy enough to catch the basic arc without worrying too much about, say, the whereabouts of a crucial cellphone and other such specifics. Feeling dizzy is clearly part of the intended effect of a film that more or less openly riffs on "Vertigo." And Park, making his first feature since his miniseries adaptation of John LeCarré's "The Little Drummer Girl," is still in a LeCarréan mode, firing plot details at viewers in a clipped editing style at a rapid pace. The film combines a complicated mystery, a love story, and occasional bits of broad comedy to come up with a thriller that feels at once overstuffed and single-minded, derivative and sui generis.

"Decision to Leave" borrows a certain amount of its déja vu structure from Hitchcock's masterpiece, and its did-she-or-didn't-she? plot evokes a well-known homage to it, "Basic Instinct." Hae-joon (Park Hae-il) is a Busan detective investigating the death of a man who has fallen from a mountain. The circumstances of the death are murky, and the dead man's wife, Seo-rae (Tang Wei)—who is Chinese and introduces herself by apologizing that her Korean is "insufficient"—falls under suspicion. She also becomes an object of obsession for Hae-joon. How their relationship plays out vis-à-vis the case eventually compels him to move away to a smaller jurisdiction, where, 13 months later, he meet Seo-rae again, in a market encounter that leaves Hae-joon's wife (Lee Jung-hyun) nonplussed. Seo-rae has a new spouse (Park Yong-woo). "I'm the next husband," he cheerfully introduces himself. And in this genre, being the next husband is never good, nor is being a detective who seems like such an obvious pushover.

This only scratches the surface of the film's many layers and twists, and it's safe to say that story is less relevant to the film's impact than Park's elegant, dreamy presentation, where the emotions of the characters are clear even when what's going on isn't. (Again, I don't trust anyone who claims to have fully followed this film at Cannes, where attention to details gets spread pretty thin over five-movie days.) A formal decision on "Decision to Leave" will have to wait until Mubi releases it down the road.

Early word indicates that critics see the Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardennes' "Tori and Lokita" as a return to form. Their last film, "Young Ahmed," awkwardly imposed their usual Dardenne ideas about empathy and human nature onto a character whose unflagging fanaticism did not seem to mesh with them at all. But "Tori and Lokita" reverts almost exclusively to their template, revisiting the subject matter of some of their earlier features—the human-trafficking plot of "Lorna's Silence"; the lives of African immigrants in Belgium, seen from within as opposed to from outside, as in their breakthrough feature, "La Promesse"—with slight tweaks in perspective.

The movie opens with Lokita (Joely Mbundu) being interrogated by an official about her relationship with her "brother," Tori (Pablo Schils), who is not her brother at all; they met on the boat to Europe, but maintaining the facade of being family will be crucial to obtaining papers for Lokita, who will then be able to take legitimate work and send more money to her family. (Tori, as a proven victim of persecution, has protected status.) In the meantime, struggling to pay their debt to human smugglers, Lokita and Tori work selling for drugs for a chef (Alban Ukaj), who spots them chump change for kickstarting the evening's karaoke at the venue. He also uses money to pressure Lokita into performing sexual favors.

The warmth between Lokita and Tori, who helps her rehearse for further questioning by immigration officials, is at odds with the harrowing gauntlet that they must run every day. Their existence is a steady stream of struggles to scrape together cash, to avoid being hassled by police, to figure out whether there is a way to make money from the drugs themselves while cutting out the middle man. Yet as dangerous as Tori and Lokita's ordeal gets, and as powerful and skilled as the filmmaking is, I couldn't shake a feeling that "Tori and Lokita" represents the Dardennes playing it safe. The complaint that they're repeating themselves has, admittedly, been raised about nearly every Dardennes picture since at least "L'Enfant," which won the 2005 Palme d'Or. But apart from one startling moment of violence, their social observations here have ossified into something like a formula.

"Funny Pages" is the first writing-and-directing feature from Owen Kline, an actor perhaps most recognizable as the Jesse Eisenberg's younger brother in "The Squid and the Whale." Counting the Safdie brothers among its producers (and their sometime collaborator Sean Price Williams as its cinematographer), it has some of their scabrousness and interest in marginalized subcultures. But it also most obviously recalls Terry Zwigoff's "Crumb" and "Ghost World," in that it involves a protagonist, Robert (Daniel Zolghadri), who aspires to be a comic book artist.

The film peaks early—almost immediately—when one of Robert's teachers (Stephen Adly Guirgis), encouraging the kid to discover his voice, strips down in front of him and demands that he draw him right then and there. There is much else that is surprising about the film, both structurally and in terms of its milieu. After a public defender (Marcia Debonis) helps get Robert out of a breaking-and-entering charge, he takes a job as her assistant. Robert refuses to go to college and instead rents a likely fire-code-violating bed in a crowded house of oddballs in a dodgy section of Trenton, New Jersey. And he tries to get a drawing lesson from Wallace (Matthew Maher), a client of his boss who is not entirely balanced and who himself washed out in the comic book industry.

Like some of Zwigoff's films, particularly "Art School Confidential," "Funny Pages" sometimes substitutes jaundice for humor, but it's abrasive and distinctive enough to suggest that Kline, as a director, may yet find his voice.

- Ted Geoghegan
How an Animated Burger Shop Saved My Family in Its Darkest Hour

It was in April of 2021 that I found out I was going to be a father. Several days later, I found out I was going to the father of twins. My partner and I, who had been together four years at the time, were beside ourselves with excitement, even though the idea of becoming an “old dad” at age 42 more than slightly terrified me. Little would I realize what true horror was, when the babies’ water would prematurely break four months later, on July 12th.

My two beautiful children, Theodore Flash and Margaret Lindsey Geoghegan, would be born and pass away the following day.

Strangely, the all-present comfort during our loss wasn’t family, as all of our blood relatives resided out of state. Nor was it friends. The average Joe has no idea how quickly their closest acquaintances will disappear upon hearing, “The twins died.”

No, our all-present comfort was "Bob’s Burgers"—Loren Bouchard’s animated sitcom about a typically-atypical couple running a barely-profitable diner while raising their three oddball children. Why? Because the infectious positivity and hope it exuded was what we needed to keep from losing our minds during the single darkest moment of our lives.

And when I say "Bob’s Burgers" was all-present, I mean all-present. I watched an episode on my phone on the way to the hospital, trying to calm down while fully aware that I was about to lose both of my children. Trying to find any solace we could, my wife and I watched it together in the delivery room any time the doctors weren’t present. And after saying hello and goodbye to little Maggie and Flash, we cued up an episode that had always made us smile—and wished that we could have watched it together with them.

My infatuation with Bouchard’s oddball sitcom goes back to its second season, precisely one decade ago. Having grown up in the “classic era” of Matt Groening’s "The Simpsons" and fallen for Seth McFarlane’s brassier programs as a young adult, it took me a good year to fall in love with the disastrously-named Belcher clan, but once I did, I questioned if I’d found a television family that, dare I actually admit, eclipsed my love of all before them?

Confidently embracing everything that worked from its animated predecessors, "Bob’s Burgers" had the saccharine joy of "The Simpsons" with just enough of the overtly adult humor I’d come to enjoy from "Family Guy" and its ilk. Here was a bisexual dad, a pre-teen obsessed with butts, and a mom who pounded red wine like a frat boy at a kegger ... yet the whole thing was handled so sweetly that it still felt somehow inoffensive when the flower shop across the street from the Belchers was revealed to be named The Petalphile.

When I met my now-wife Katie, I kept reruns of the show on in the background as I worked. Possibly quicker than she fell for me, she too was fast in love with Bob, Linda, and their ridiculous spawn. From then on, new episodes of the show became our Sunday ritual. We rejoiced in September when a new season would begin and mourned each May as they’d come to a close.

But, back to July 13th.

With our world shattering around us, Katie and I buried ourselves in "Bob’s Burgers." I can remember every single episode we watched in that delivery room, and precisely where we were in them when the solemn-faced clinicians would come in to give us more information about the unthinkable situation we’d found ourselves in.

Often, I found myself worrying that I’d go on to hate "Bob’s Burgers," permanently remembering it as the show that was playing as my children died. I dreaded the idea that my wife and I would go on to wince every time Andy and Ollie Pesto, twin children whose father owns the bistro across the street from Bob, would show up. And I feared that I’d carry an unshakable sadness. A sadness that I’d never be able to share with little Maggie and Flash something that had brought me such joy, and a sadness that I’d be unable to witness them grow up loving the Belchers just as I’d come of age cherishing the Simpsons and Griffins. 

But when we returned home from the hospital, childless and broken to our cores, on the TV went. And there, on that rainbow-hued stretch of beach the Belchers call home, goofball wife Linda continued swooning over their town’s mayor, bunny-eared little Louise rallied against her unshakable love for Boyz4Now popstar Boo-Boo, and son Gene kept referencing his non-existent albino friend Ken. The security that the abject silliness of "Bob’s Burgers" gave us in our bleakest moment not only kept us afloat, but emboldened our love for it.

As a filmmaker, I’ve spent a large part of my career wondering if what I do actually matters. Creating art seems so trivial as I watch doctors helping people re-learn how to walk, soldiers laying down their lives to protect my freedoms, and everyone from farmers to grocery store clerks keeping food on our shelves amidst a global pandemic. Meanwhile, I’m making horror movies ... blowing up Styrofoam heads and not exactly scoring any humanitarian awards.

But I’ve recently found my pride. When my father unexpectedly passed away in early 2019, I didn’t know what to do. Desperate for solace and comfort, I put on—of all things—Steve Miner’s "Friday the 13th, Part 2," a slasher film that I’d grown up loving. The familiarity of it washed over me like the hug I so desperately needed, and somehow gave me the calm I so badly required. After laying my father to rest, I asked friends and family if they’d ever done the same—and almost all of them admitted to a television program or film that gave them consolation during their lives’ most difficult moments. It turns out that art really does matter. Even the silly stuff. It comforts us. It armors us.

"Bob’s Burgers" eased my wife and I through the single most traumatic experience of our lives, and has helped us accept the hand our family was dealt. Ten months after losing them, my wife and I have found ourselves pregnant with Maggie and Flash’s younger sibling—and uncovered hope again, after so much pain.

On May 27th, Katie and I will be sitting in our favorite cinema, watching "The Bob’s Burgers Movie," wishing it could have been our twins’ first moviegoing experience.

But the truth is that Maggie and Flash will be there—laughing along with mom and dad, grateful that some silly cartoon about family held us all when we needed it most, and saved our family in the process.

We couldn’t have done it without the Belchers.

- Katherine Tulich
Video Interview: Thomas Jane, Nicole Chamoun, and Candice Fox on Troppo

The new Australian crime drama, “Troppo,” now streaming on Amazon FreeVee (formerly IMDb TV) is based on the bestselling book Crimson Lake, written by Australian crime writer Candice Fox. The name change to “Troppo” refers to the Aussie slang “gone troppo” for someone who goes mad in the heat. 

It's an appropriate title as the story is set in Far North Queensland, a harsh, sticky, tropical landscape dotted with signs that warn you of the big crocodiles in the area.

The iconic large critters get their starring moment straight up in the first episode when a man gets himself (intentionally?) eaten by a crocodile in front of a bunch of tourists. But the story moves far beyond the shocking first death, as a more mysterious disappearance of a Korean man leads to the unlikely pairing of a seasoned detective (played by American actor Thomas Jane) and an ex-con with a dark past, played brilliantly by Australian actress Nicole Chamoun.

They team up to solve the crime much to the objections of the local police, and townspeople who reject the outliers, as the demons of their past come back to haunt them.

Australian film journalist Katherine Tulich spoke with Thomas Jane and Nicole Chamoun about their experiences shooting the series in Queensland, as well as author Candice Fox who describes what is unique in Aussie crime stories.

- Chaz Ebert
Cannes 2022 Video #3: Triangle of Sadness, Three Thousand Years of Longing, Hunt

RogerEbert.com publisher Chaz Ebert's third video dispatch from the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, made with Scott Dummler of Mint Media Works, includes a Thumbs On the Street segment, and Canadian Correspondent Jason Gorber's reviews of Ruben Östlund's "Triangle of Sadness," George Miller's "Three Thousand Years of Longing" and Lee Jung-jae's "Hunt."

- Jason Gorber
Cannes 2022: Tirailleurs, God’s Creatures, Enys Men

With all the self-awareness that I’m not schlepping bricks for hours at a time, or breaking my back on anything other than cushy, padded seats and poorly designed Scandinavian megastore pullout couches where I get a modicum of rest, let me take a moment anyway to say that, yes, this shit isn’t always easy.

Let’s start with the cognitive impairment of jetlag’s insidious effects, coupled with the practical need to be up each morning at 7am to procure tickets to four days hence. Then you watch films one after the other, taking in each as their own island of experience yet feeling as if each day is full of fitful waking dreams. You become a bit delirious with all the imagery, drunk on disparate tales that seem to interweave within your very soul. 

Quoth Norman Bates “We all go a little mad sometimes.”

Basically, this is the milieu of fest bubble, one fueled by the quickly-grabbed snack or, given that this is Southeastern France, the occasional Truffle-infused indulgence. With the electronic ticketing system carried over from last year’s COVID-a-thon it’s smoother to access, but some of the community is lost, where you’d see the same sad sack individuals baking in the hot sun every day based on your badge level, a bleary-eyed retinue that would serve as a forced form of human contact between the visits to virtual worlds. The anxiety about getting in has been replaced by different levels of dread, and there are always ways of being made to feel that everything is slipping away, or that the great discovery of the festival has been inadvertently skipped, with every decision made or ticket pulled.

Yet here we are in Cannes. The weather is particularly glorious this year, yet we crawl into darkened rooms, still grateful for the privilege of attending this glorious celebration of cinema. The greatest salve, beyond the aesthetic, is a sense (delusional as it is) that we are back to a form of normalcy. We learned over the last few years what could be lost, not just in terms of those who were physically affected but the social upheaval of disconnection, that the in-person random meet has a visceral thrill that’s amplified by recent abstinence.  

I caught Mathieu Vadepied’s Tirailleurs,” whose English title “Father and Soldier” alludes to the central characters. Anchored by another fine performance by Omar Sy, this World War I drama delves into the experiences of those of African descent who were cajoled if not kidnapped into service by the French colonial forces that controlled their lands, taken from the African plains they called home into the fiery hell of trench warfare.

The film has an interesting hook, with the family drama interposed upon the catastrophe of war, and I applaud its intentions to shine light on a very different complexion of France’s war history. It’s certainly an undertold tale, and while the end result may be a mild, middling affair, there’s enough commitment of performance and provocative setting to make it worth checking out.

I was less a fan of “Harka,” Lotfy Nathan’s debut feature also playing in the Un Certain Regard sidebar. Adam Bessa plays Ali who must return home to care for his two sisters after his father’s death, resulting in a decidedly predictable if desperate tale of making ends meet and shifting his own dreams to assist others. While the Tunisian setting is compelling, it’s hard to be engrossed in the aimless Ali’s quest, with moments of stillness feeling less contemplative than Nathan simply padding the film’s running time between scenes.

I’m also one of the few it seems who found James Gray’s “Armageddon Time” a bit of a mess. It plays as an apology for a childhood of privilege, attempting to echo the likes of “Roma” but instead feeling forced and frustrating. Anthony Hopkins delivers with appropriate benevolence and gravitas, but both Jeremy Strong and Anne Hathaway, fine performers in general, seem wildly out of their element here. Hathaway in particular seems lost, her accent somehow flowing into amateur production of “Fiddler on the Roof” territory, while Strong’s take as the father figure with wild mood swings never settles into anything coherent.

Paul (Michael Banks Repeta) is the avatar for the director’s own childhood. Along with his token Black friend Johnny (Jaylin Webb), the two get into trouble in class, and then split apart as their social circumstances change. I felt creeped out by how it all neatly was tied together; Johnny’s journey in particular is two-dimensional and disheartening.

"Armageddon Time" attempts to make a larger political point with its connections to future presidents and the decade's rising tide of conservatism, but it all feels more like an excuse rather than an actual interrogation of the contradictions as play. That said, a special shout-out to Andrew Polk playing the frustrated, frustrating teacher Mr. Turkeltaub. A veteran of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” his was the one character, perhaps along with Hopkins, that I truly, fully believed in their humanity and presence.

One of the major films that changed my life was released at this festival in 1996. It was from a country I’d not seen a film from before, a director I’d never heard of, an actor no one had seen on screen, and I knew nothing about. Throughout, where chapter breaks scored with needle drops from the likes of David Bowie blasted at the Palais, there were standing ovations mid-film. I didn’t know one could do that at the theatre, I didn’t know a film could affect me in that powerful a way, and it remains one of my greatest moments in a movie theatre. The film, of course, was “Breaking the Waves” from Danish director by Lars Von Trier and it introduced the world to the luminous talent Emily Watson.

Decades later, it was a personal pleasure to see her in attendance at the Quinzaine debut of Saela Davis and Anna Rose Holmer’s devastating “God’s Creatures.” Like with Von Trier’s film this is a story of assault and the effects of small mindedness in another windswept environ, and it again rests heavily on the ability to draw in audiences with the immensely empathetic and powerful performance of its lead actor.

Watson plays Aileen, the manager of a local fish processing plant. She has a new grandchild, and seems at first to be comfortably managing her circumstance. When one of the oystermen is swept away by the tide there’s a surprise during the wake, with her absent son (Paul Mescal) returning from Australia. His absence is never explained, nor the cause of his return, but it sets the stage for the film’s central drama.

Paul seeks to resuscitate some oyster beds, and we see him cutting corners, along with Aileen’s assistance, to make things work. Rules don’t seem to apply to Paul, and the results of the prodigal son's corner-cutting makes for deeper moral compromises for his mother. When a connection is made with the clear-voiced Sarah (Aisling Franciosi), even darker moments occur, and the quandaries pile up like oyster shells.

While there are few true narrative surprises in the telling, it’s still intoxicating to watch Watson navigate all her character’s emotions on her immensely expressive face. She is truly one of the most remarkable performers to appear on screen, and if “God’s Creatures” does nothing else but remind the world of this fact it can already be considered a triumph.

One of the inadvertently comedic elements at a post-screening Q&A for Mark Jenkin’s “Enys Men” was when he casually admitted it took a whopping three days to write the film's script. Taking nothing away from the stylish, at times captivating, at times infuriating end result, it’s surprising that it took that long for something with no more than a dozen lines of dialogue or disparate scenes. The title refers to “Stone Island” in the Cornish language (“Men” is pronounced as “Mane” or “Main”), and it’s perhaps best described as part of the folk horror tradition from likes of “Wicker Man” on down.

This is a ghost story of sorts, but not one with too many genre tropes to hold onto. When they do come, they feel forced and arbitrary, almost breaking up the strange, dreamlike mood with the occasional bit of middling jump scares and the like interspersed. If anything, it’s about the horror of time never being able to move forward, to be stuck in an unending repetition where our very sedentary presence results in being locked into place, lichen literally growing as we are prevented from moving forward. As a COVID lockdown metaphor it may be redolent, and plenty will swoon for both its non-narrative style and archaic, film-grain fueled aesthetic and blown-out color palate in a 4:3 frame.

“Enys Men” is a fine 20-minute film that overstays its welcome, but it may work for others desperate for movies that make them feel as rooted in place and time as the central protagonist, untroubled by such plebeian vagaries as conventional plot or story.

As an antidote to non-narrative, we find George Miller returning to Cannes with a story about storytelling itself. “Three Thousand Years of Longing” is also a COVID-influenced film, this one even more overt in its telling. Yet it is also fundamentally a tale of how story transforms our experiences, delivering wider worlds, and helping us make sense of the universe in ways that are both satisfying and impactful.

Tilda Swinton plays the musically named Alithea Binnie, a narratologist by trade who has eschewed most human companionship for the life of the mind. When shopping with a colleague at a conference she finds a bottle, handblown with such force as to embed blood from the lungs of the glassmaker into the object itself. Such deliciously pregnant metaphors abound in this tale, where, as expected, this magic-lamp object ends up being the container for a Djinn (Idris Elba), the granter of wishes who can only be freed once three have been requested.

Based on a short story by A.S. Byatt, the narrative provides an interesting thought experiment—what happens when a Djinn encounters a story expert who knows all the machinations of historical wish tales? How can a trickster fool one who knows all their tricks? The result is less a combat of wits than an exploration of relationships, and certain universal elements unfold through the Djinn's tales.

There are moments of visual flourish that show Miller continues to be a master of style. Pre-pandemic this was meant to be a globetrotting adventure, but the plague forced production to rely heavily on greenscreen reproductions of settings. The result is mixed at best, and it would have been fascinating if the scope of artifice approached something like “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen,” with which this film has a passing resemblance.

That said, much of the movie takes place in a single hotel room, both Alithea and her wishmaster sitting in bathrobes telling stories to one another. It’s this collision of grand spectacle and intimate discussion that drives the film’s central conceit, the connection between the two helping us glean genuine messages from the its greater, more bombastic moments. 

Miller’s tale is the story of love told through the love of story, a flawed film that is nonetheless a welcome reminder of the true joys of collective, shared storytelling. It’s as fine a reminder as any to have at an event such as Cannes. 

- Tomris Laffly
Crimes of the Future

Through a shocking sequence that plays like an oblique explanation of its title, David Cronenberg’s evasive mind-and-body-bender “Crimes of the Future” cracks open in its early moments, tracing a harrowing crime that gets committed during some nondescript time in the future, in the grim corners of a near-derelict home. It’s a nimble, stylish prologue that functions as a keyhole into the vast and fleshly world the writer/director has erected: a little boy enters a grubby bathroom and starts to devour a trash can hungrily, like a freshly-minted vampire overeager to quench his newfound thirst for blood. Though this betrayal to the human-body-as-we-know-it wouldn’t be the only (or the actual) crime we’d witness. Soon, in an act of desperation, the boy’s repulsed mother would murder her offspring, having just witnessed the boy’s inexplicably inhuman appetite for plastic.

Based on this confidently uncanny opening alone, it makes sense to learn that it was towards the end of the 20th Century when Cronenberg conceived this story, in which our kind has mutated to grow new organs and evolved to make the notion of pain near-extinct. After all, that was the era that defined his carnal brand of cinema—namely, his preoccupations with the human body and the ways flesh intersects with the mechanisms and advancement of modern technology—and more or less ended with 1999’s “eXistenZ,” before concerns of the more visceral kind (of course, still with droplets of body horror) took hold of his filmography on this side of the 2000s. In that regard, “Crimes of the Future” (which shares a title and nothing else with a 1970 picture by the filmmaker) finds “the king of venereal horror” operate squarely in a universe that earned him this aforesaid label: you know, a world made up of the sliced torsos of “Videodrome,” the injured appendages of “Crash,” and the deliciously wicked eroticism that somehow flows through it all.

All these meaty graphic and psychological signifiers are also the blood and guts of “Crimes of the Future,” albeit a bit predictably sometimes. With imagery purposely and all-too-obviously reminiscent of some of the visuals that existed in the master’s previous work, one can’t unsee a certain banality on occasion or shake a fan-service-y inkling. Still, it’s irresistible to see Cronenberg pivot to his classic mode to dissect weighty anxieties around mortality and perhaps even humankind’s inevitable annihilation. If one feels no pain, if there is no cautionary system inherent to our bodies that warns us about our terminal limits, if unknown organs (or tumors) routinely sprout inside of our torsos, would we have a fighting chance to survive in the long run?

It’s a bit heady to consider all this existential apprehension in our (allegedly) post-Covid world where the talk of yet another imminent variant and possible surge is proving to be psychologically crippling. Perhaps all one can do is learn to live with and manipulate the unknown, like the rebellious performance artist Saul Tenser (a stony, mystical Viggo Mortensen) has done. While the celebrity showman confesses to his distaste for what’s been happening to his own body, he at least seems to have managed to make something of his condition in the interim, alongside the former trauma surgeon-turned Saul’s creative partner Caprice (a subtle and sophisticated Léa Seydoux, infusing the on-screen chaos with a swish of calm). Together, the duo have spun the whole process of surgeries into a performative exhibition, perhaps in order to find some meaning and assurance amid volatile unpredictability, or to leave something behind to counter the crippling sense of void. Often, the two conduct live, you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it kind of surgeries on Saul in front of an in-person audience, pushing his body to its limit for the sake of art. More than once, you hear this process being deemed as a way to open the body up to new possibilities. The thesis goes something like this: if pain is archaic, then the body itself can be molded into art. And what is all that molding, all that operative modification of skin through human hands and inventive surgical machines, if not a new kind of intercourse? What’s an open wound if not an invitation for, well ... oral sex?

Indeed, it’s no coincidence that there is a coital quality in nearly everything Cronenberg caresses with cinematographer Douglas Koch’s sensual camera, unearthing an otherworldly kind of eroticism from the film’s ample machinery, physicality, and grotesquely exposed bowels. Among those who secretly feel that sexiness is Timlin (Kristen Stewart, bringing along some comic relief with her character’s muffled voice and endearingly insecure stance), a bureaucratic investigator from the “National Organ Registry,” tracking new organ growths alongside her partner Wippet (Don McKellar). Like everyone, she is tempted by Saul and Stewart has fun with Timlin’s giving into that temptation like a Ninotchka with a sudden appreciation for opulent indecencies. (Believe it or not, the scene in which the young woman stuffs her fingers in Saul’s mouth is among the film’s tamer moments.)

In fairness, how could she resist all the intrigue? On the other side of the screen, you might find yourself combatting akin urges, desiring to pop inside the picture and if nothing else, feel your way through legendary production designer (and decades-long Cronenberg collaborator) Carol Spier’s blood-curdling imagination. From a hovering, cocoon-like bed with buggy tentacles connected Saul to clanking metals of machines, her creations not only synch up with all-things-Cronenbergian, but wink to the designs of “Alien.”

On the whole, the effort to make heads or tails of the philosophies at the heart of “Crimes of the Future” is a laborious one amid a crowded canvas of players—among them are Scott Speedman’s enigmatic leader and a memorable Welket Bungué’s complicated detective—and open-ended ideas unsure of what to do with themselves. Yes, this operatic science fiction is filled with vague, half-finished stabs at the notions of evolution, societal disorder, and the tragedy that is the vanishing of environmental ecosystems, the ultimate crime committed by mankind. Still, it’s nothing short of overwhelming to ponder these queries amid a parade of eye-popping body horror, from stitched lips and eyes, to ears growing out of every inch of one’s body. It’s not exactly revolutionary, and more alarming than scary. But it’s still provocatively feverish stuff from the dearly missed vintage annals of Cronenberg. 

Opens on June 3rd.

- Katie Rife
A Willingness to Explore: Rory Kinnear on Men

Men,” Alex Garland’s latest film as a writer and director, is full of audacious stylistic gambits. But one of the riskiest—and the most rewarding—comes courtesy of Rory Kinnear. This isn’t the first time the English actor has played multiple roles in a single production: It’s a trick he also pulled off on the Showtime horror series “Penny Dreadful” and the British dark-comedy anthology “Inside No. 9” But “Men,” in which Kinnear plays five different variations on English masculine stereotypes, provided a unique challenge. It was important that audiences know that, as Kinnear puts it, “there's something a bit off” from the moment his first character appears on screen. But it was also important that these characters remained credibly threatening. Tipping too far into comedy would undermine the entire film, requiring a grounded approach to sometimes outrageous material.

We spoke to Kinnear about his approach to creating the five “Men,” as well as the thoughts that pop into a man’s head as he’s naked and covered in banana juice, lowing like a farm animal at three o’ clock in the morning. 

Note that this interview contains spoilers about the ending of “Men.”

Did you consider this a comedic performance in any way?

No. I try to play it straight most of the time. I knew how each character was being received by how the crew would respond to me. It was really instructive in some ways—every time I would come on set as a new person, their reactions were completely different. I wasn't staying in character in between takes—I was just being Rory. But people would very much keep their distance if I was playing the vicar, and they'd be a bit blokey when I was playing the policeman.

It was party time when [landlord] Jeffrey was on set—everyone loved him! I guess he's the most harmless, or at least seemingly harmless, of them, and the most eccentric. There's something about his upper class nature that makes people feel comfortable as well. 

But yeah, it was interesting and revealing to see people's responses to my outward appearance and the clothes that I was wearing. It changed completely from character to character.

The reason I asked is because of the wigs and teeth and the different costumes. All that could easily read comedic.

We spent two weeks before filming started going through all the looks with hair and makeup, working out how they would all fit and what palettes they were going to use. They were trying to make the [looks] as different as possible, but still keep credible. So the question was always asked, “have we gone too far?” And I would always rely on Alex's response. 

The thing about Jeffrey particularly is that he's the first character we meet. And if this were a straight film in which there was an actor playing Jeffrey, I don't think I'd be cast as him. He's a bit older than me. He's a bit posher than me. He’s more bumbling than me. So there is something unusual about the fact that I'm playing him. Maybe now audiences are going to see the film already knowing the conceit, but we wanted them to go, “I can't quite put my finger on it, but there's something a bit off here.” The teeth and wig help with that. So we were able to do a bit more with Jeffrey in terms of how unsettling he looked.

How deep were you able to get into the backstory for all these different characters? Because some of them only appear for a very brief time.

The first thing I said to Alex was that I wasn't interested if this was going to be a film where people came up to me going, “gosh, wasn’t he good at playing all those different parts”—or “wasn’t he bad at it.” I particularly wasn't interested in that. [laughs] 

But I wanted to make sure that all these characters seemed to emerge from the countryside, that they were just as much part of the natural world, as the deer and the leaves and the foliage and the tunnels. I wanted them to feel firmly rooted within this community and this natural landscape. So that meant knowing each character just as well as the other, even if they were only going to be on camera for a little bit.

Before we started rehearsals, I came up with a potted biography of each one of the characters I knew I was going to play. I did that so I had a handle on their lived experiences, but also so that I could send them off to Alex and to Nicole and Lisa, the hair and makeup and costume designers. That way they had a starting point as well, rather than having them sort out their own ideas and realizing that our visions didn't marry up. 

It wasn't like, “I think he looks like this,” or “He has this color hair.” It was, “This is where he grew up. This is his relationship with parents. This is where he went to school.” How he got into his profession—whatever. I let them use that as a jumping off point for their own creativity.

That was quite a long time before we even started rehearsals. And they would send through various mood boards and look boards, and we would continue that back and forth as we went along.

Interesting. So you were given free rein to develop all that?

Yeah, pretty much. Obviously we’re passing it all by Alex. The only character he was fastidious about the look for was the Green Man. That’s an image and a figure that he's been obsessed with for a long time. And bringing that to life, he took great care with the way that it manifested itself, to the extent that the last 20 minutes of the makeup would basically be him doing the finishing touches. Because this really existed perfectly in his mind, and he wanted to make sure that I lived up to it.

At the Q&A for the screening I attended, you talked about British cultural stereotypes. Could you talk a little bit about that in terms of these backstories you were writing?

I knew on the page that these characters were, I guess, representative of stuff. The authority that we naturally afford the upper classes here in England. What the church means to an increasingly secular society. How the police operate, and what our responses to them are. And the film asks just as much of the audience in terms of what they bring [to the experience] and how they perceive things as it does how Alex perceives things. 

So with these figures that are rich with possibility and for interpretation, I knew that I had to make sure that they were as fully rounded as possible. So while I knew what they represented, no one thinks of themselves as a representation. So I had to make sure that they were as committed and as grounded as any other character.

Do you think that the film will play differently in the UK versus abroad?

Potentially. It’s a curiously English film, and I say “English” rather than “British” there deliberately. But the thematic resonance runs long and wide, particularly that sense of these being timeless stories and dynamics and interactions. That will probably land globally. And given the obliqueness of the piece at times, I'm sure people will interpret it according to their own experiences and their own societal pressures. And that will change from country to country.

When you played the kid, were you using a green screen suit? 

It was a bit more lo-fi, actually. It was remarkably lo-fi in lots of ways. I would rehearse the scene with Jessie, and then a nice young lad with dots on his face would come in and basically do what I was doing in those rehearsals. Obviously, it would change somewhat. So I would then go in without dots on my face, but with a white t-shirt on, and try to keep the shapes that his body made in the scene. Then I’d leave the magic to happen—which was easy enough outside the church, because he sat on the steps and wasn't moving that much.

It was a bit more complicated in the kitchen, when I was bearing down on her. For that, I had to make sure that my head was at a similar height to his. I was having to basically sit on a wheeled stool and push myself forward with my legs as I supposedly threateningly beared down on her—which had its challenges, given that Jessie and I got on very well and she found this all very funny. But we managed to keep it together long enough [to shoot the scene].

You mentioned the shapes of the body—that's very interesting to me, because there's this posture that you do that’s so similar to the creatures in “Attack on Titan,” which Alex has cited as a reference for the film.

I didn't actually know about that until Alex mentioned it at the screening the other night. The original script was basically the different characters mutating into each other, but not being born from each other. That was something new to chew on when that arrived. 

What were you thinking when you first heard about it?

“How?” Yeah, I think “how?” was the one of the first. “Why?” might have been down about second or third. And very crucially, “where?” And when the response was “outside, about three o'clock in the morning in an unseasonably cold April,” I was delighted. 

We had about six or seven days crawling around in the dirt through the night—and after the first character, I was forever covered in blood and crushed banana. It was a delightful, lovely week.

I think Paapa Essiedu said it was honey, banana juice, and something else ... 

He was in it for a day. I can't take what he says seriously about it. He's got no idea. Try being in it for a week, mate! [laughs]

Did you have a moment where you thought, "What is my life? How did I get here?”

I mean, that's most of my life. [laughs] But certainly, on the first night of that sequence, where I was playing the Green Man ... we'd discussed it, but not really in terms of what I was going to do, exactly. So I just had to go with the flow and imagine what it would be like to be an iconic, timeless, mythical beast giving birth to an 11-year-old boy with a broken ankle and a sliced hand. 

And there was a point in that first night where I was having to vocalize all these births—in the final film, they quite often use the soundtrack of Jessie screaming throughout that sequence. But at the time, I was giving it full pelt at about two or three o'clock in the morning. And that woke up the local livestock, who started bleating back at me to tell me to shut up.

Obviously, it was quite extreme. But that’s right in my wheelhouse. Alex, Jessie, and I all shared an approach, and a willingness to explore this stuff. It was one of the most rewarding experiences—and I don’t just mean the challenge of playing so many characters in that short amount of time. That was fun, but the film was going to sink or swim by the relationships that I had with Jessie and Alex. And luckily, we very quickly realized that we were going to enjoy this process.

"Men" is now playing in theaters.

- Seongyong Cho
On the Power of Ramin Bahrani’s The White Tiger

Ramin Bahrani’s “The White Tiger,” which is now on Netflix and played Ebertfest in April 2022, is a biting social drama about one opportunistic hero willing to do anything to climb up from his poor social position. Gradually revealing his envy and anger through the story, the movie gives us a sharply insightful tale about the social inequality prevalent inside Indian society, and we come to observe its hero with more fascination even as we are disturbed by his amoral journey.

The movie begins with Balram Halwai (Adarsh Gourav) writing a letter to a certain prominent Chinese politician about to visit India in 2010; Balram's voiceover tells us about his miserable childhood years in a small poor rural village in Laxmangarh. One day, young Balram impresses a visiting government official as one of the smarter kids in his school and is delighted to get a chance for better education as a result. However, because he was expected to earn more money for his big family just like his older brother, he is forced to quit his school and then work at a shabby teahouse, his first taste of the harsh reality surrounding him and many others in the village.

Several years later, Balram is still stuck in the same occupation with no bright future. But then he comes across a golden opportunity when the wealthy landlord of the village, nicknamed “The Stork” (Mahesh Manjrekar), drops by the village. The Stork happens to be accompanied by his two sons, and it turns out that the Stork’s younger son Ashok (Rajkummar Rao), who recently returned to India along with his Indian-American wife Pinky (Priyanka Chopra Jonas), needs someone to drive him and his wife. After managing to persuade his callous, pennywise grandmother to give him some money for a quick driving lesson, Balram promptly goes to a nearby city where the Stork and his family reside. He’s soon hired.

After that point, the movie smoothly moves along as our hero solidifies his status inside the Stork’s family. The Stork and his older son, a bully as mean and cruel as his father, often disregard Balram while ordering him to do other things besides driving. But Ashok and Pinky try to be nice and cordial to Balram, though they sometimes show unintentional condescension to him due to the class gap. Balram does not mind this much because he does not want to go back to his poor family, and he certainly hopes to upgrade his social status via his rich employers someday.   

But Balram is also well aware of how hopelessly he and many other poor working-class people are trapped from the beginning by class division and inequality. For example, a certain prominent local politician turns out to be as corrupt as many other politicians, and the Stork and his family are ready to hand their dirty money to the opponent party when that politician’s blatant demand for more bribery is deemed too much for them. When Ashok and his wife later go to Delhi for his family business matters, Balram accompanies them, and he is amazed by how big and exciting Delhi is. But Balram only stays in the underground parking lot along with many other private drivers, while Ashok and his wife stay in a big and luxurious hotel room. In addition, he's often disregarded by his fellow private drivers just because of his rural background, and that makes him more discontent and frustrated about his current social status. 

And then, as already shown to us at the very beginning of the film, something quite serious happens. I will not go into much detail, but the incident opens Balram's eyes to the sobering truth about his relationship with his employers. He continues to work for them, but he also becomes more cynical than before, and starts taking advantage of them to attain what he has yearned for years. The movie, which is based on the novel of the same name by Aravind Adiga, then accumulates more tension on-screen from Adarsh Gourav’s quietly intense performance. Although Balram is not a very good person, he is still quite a compelling human figure, and Gourav’s nuanced acting palpably conveys to us Balram’s longtime hunger and ambition without making any excuse at all. 

One notable weak aspect of the film is that its supporting characters are broad stereotypes, though its supporting performers are at least well-cast. Mahesh Manjrekar and Vijay Maurya are suitably deplorable in their respective supporting roles, but Rajkummar Rao's performance as Ashok is often limited by an under-developed character despite his efforts. I also wish the movie delved more into his character’s complicated relationship with Balram. In the case of Priyanka Chopra Jonas, who also served as one of the executive producers of the film, her character unfortunately ends up being no more than a mere plot element, which is a shame considering how she brings a little extra perspective to the movie as another outsider figure in the story (besides Balram).

There are also several other flaws, including a finale that arrives too quickly, but “The White Tiger” holds our attention to the end thanks to Bahrani’s skillful direction. After he drew my attention via his first three feature films “Man Push Cart” (2005), “Chop Shop” (2007), and “Goodbye Solo” (2008), Bahrani impressed me further with his next two films “At Any Price” (2012) and “99 Homes” (2014), confirming that he is one of the most interesting American filmmakers at present. Although it's more conventional compared to most of his previous films, “The White Tiger,” which garnered him his first Oscar nomination after Netflix released it in early 2021, is still worth a watch because he tries something different here. I admired its strong parts more when I recently revisited it.   

The movie maintains a non-judgmental attitude toward its hero, but it eventually makes a barbed point during its last shot, which lingers in my mind. After finally getting everything he wanted so much, Balram cheerfully boasts about it to the camera, but he seems to forget one thing he should not overlook at any point. There are millions of people as hungry and scrappy as he once was, and some of them may be looking at him and his glittering success right now. After all, if a petty common man like him could succeed like that, why not them?

- Matt Fagerholm

Matt writes: The 2022 Cannes Film Festival is now in full swing through Saturday, May 28th, and RogerEbert.com is there to cover all of the highlights. Stay up to date on our daily dispatches from Chaz Ebert, Ben Kenigsberg, Jason Gorber, Lisa Nesselson and Barbara Scharres, all of which are compiled in the official table of contents linked here. Chaz's first video dispatch from this year's festival is embedded below...

Trailers

Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022). Directed by George Miller. Written by George Miller and Augusta Gore (based on the short story by A.S. Byatt). Starring Idris Elba, Tilda Swinton, Angie Tricker. Synopsis: A lonely scholar, on a trip to Istanbul, discovers a Djinn who offers her three wishes in exchange for his freedom. Debuts in the US on August 31st, 2022.

Cha Cha Real Smooth (2022). Written and directed by Cooper Raiff. Starring Cooper Raiff, Dakota Johnson, Evan Assante. Synopsis: A young man who works as a Bar Mitzvah party host strikes up a friendship with a mother and her autistic daughter. Debuts on Apple TV+ on June 17th, 2022.

Moonage Daydream (2022). Directed by . Synopsis: A cinematic odyssey exploring David Bowie's creative and musical journey. From visionary filmmaker Brett Morgen, and sanctioned by the Bowie estate. US release date is TBA.

The Five Devils (2022). Directed by Léa Mysius. Written by Léa Mysius and Paul Guilhaume. Starring Adèle Exarchopoulos, Daphne Patakia, Noée Abita. Synopsis: Vicky lives with her mother Joanne and father Jimmie, a man struggling to find his place. When Vicky's aunt Julia arrives after being released from prison, her presence brings back the past in a violent, magical way. US release date is TBA.

Apples (2022). Directed by Christos Nikou. Written by Christos Nikou and Stavros Raptis. Starring Aris Servetalis, Sofia Georgovassili, Anna Kalaitzidou. Synopsis: Amidst a worldwide pandemic that causes sudden amnesia, middle-aged Aris finds himself enrolled in a recovery program designed to help unclaimed patients build new identities. US release date is TBA.

The Forgiven (2022). Written and directed by John Michael McDonagh (based on the novel by Lawrence Osborne). Starring Jessica Chastain, Ralph Fiennes, Abbey Lee. Synopsis: Takes place over a weekend in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, and explores the reverberations of a random accident on the lives of both the local Muslims, and Western visitors to a house party in a grand villa. Debuts in the US on July 1st, 2022.

Bros (2022). Directed by Nicholas Stoller. Written by Nicholas Stoller and Billy Eichner. Starring Billy Eichner, Luke Macfarlane, Monica Raymund. Synopsis: Two men with commitment problems attempt a relationship. Debuts in the US on September 30th, 2022.

Halftime (2022). Directed by . Synopsis: An intimate look at Jennifer Lopez as she reflects on her milestones and evolution as an artist, and navigates the second half of her career continuing to entertain, empower and inspireDebuts on Netflix on June 14th, 2022.

Look at Me: XXXTENTACION (2022). Directed by . Synopsis: An inside look at a gifted young rapper's tumultuous coming-of-age with never-before-seen footage, as XXXTentacion's inner circle speaks out for the first time. Debuts on Hulu on May 26th, 2022.

Spiderhead (2022). Directed by Joseph Kosinski. Written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (based on the short story by George Saunders). Starring Miles Teller, Chris Hemsworth, Jurnee Smollett. Synopsis: In the near future, convicts are offered the chance to volunteer as medical subjects to shorten their sentence. One such subject for a new drug capable of generating feelings of love begins questioning the reality of his emotions. Debuts on Netflix on June 17th, 2022.

Irma Vep (2022). Written and directed by Olivier Assayas. Starring Alicia Vikander, Byron Bowers, Tom Sturridge. Synopsis: Mira is an American movie star disillusioned by her career and recent breakup, who comes to France to star as Irma Vep in a remake of the French silent film classic, "Les Vampires." Debuts on HBO on June 6th, 2022.

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (2022). Directed by Sophie Hyde. Written by Katy Brand. Starring Emma Thompson, Daryl McCormack, Les Mabaleka. Synopsis: Follows Nancy Stokes, a 55 year-old widow who is yearning for some adventure, human connection and some sex, good sex. Debuts on Hulu on June 17th, 2022.

Brian and Charles (2022). Directed by Jim Archer. Written by David Earl and Chris Hayward. Starring David Earl, Chris Hayward, Louise Brealey. Synopsis: After a particularly harsh winter Brian goes into a deep depression; completely isolated and with no one to talk to, Brian does what any sane person would do when faced with such a melancholic situation. He builds a robot. Debuts in the US on June 17th, 2022.

First Love (2022). Written and directed by A.J. Edwards. Starring Diane Kruger, Jeffrey Donovan, Hero Fiennes Tiffin. Synopsis: The story is described as a poignant look at a young man's difficult entry into adulthood. US release date is TBA.

Resurrection (2022). Written and directed by Andrew Semans. Starring Rebecca Hall, Tim Roth, Grace Kaufman. Synopsis: Margaret's life is in order. She is capable, disciplined, and successful. Everything is under control. That is, until David returns, carrying with him the horrors of Margaret's past. Debuts in the US on August 5th, 2022.

Beba (2022). Directed by . Synopsis: A stunning self-portrait, tough, raw, stubborn, and powerful "Beba" stares down the curses of her ancestry, probing the psychic wounds she has inherited, while simultaneously embracing the vastness of her multitudes. US release date is TBA.

Only Murders in the Building (2022), season two. Created by  and . Starring , Martin Short, Selena Gomez. Synopsis: Three strangers who share an obsession with true crime suddenly find themselves caught up in one. Debuts on Hulu on June 28th, 2022.

Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning—Part 1 (2022). Written and directed by  (based on the television series created by ). Starring Tom Cruise, Hayley Atwell, Rebecca Ferguson. Synopsis: Seventh entry in the long-running Mission: Impossible series. Debuts in the US on July 14th, 2022.

Gaspar Noé on Vortex 

Matt writes: The brilliant and polarizing director Gaspar Noé recently spoke with Carlos Aguilar about his stunning and deeply personal new picture, "Vortex," which stars Dario Argento and received four stars from our critic Glenn Kenny. Read their full conversation here.

Fire Walk With Me: Your Laura Disappeared

Matt writes: I recently had the great pleasure of interviewing Scott Ryan, managing editor of The Blue Rose Magazine, about his excellent new book, Fire Walk With Me: Your Laura Disappeared, which celebrates the thirtieth anniversary of David Lynch's once derided 1992 masterwork, "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me." Check out our in-depth chat here.

Free Movies

Hollywood on Parade (1932). Directed by Lewis Lewyn. Starring Buster Keaton, Bing CrosbyGinger Rogers. Synopsis: "Short dance and song numbers, often from current releases, along with curiosities about the movie stars conform this series of short subjects," according to the YouTube channel, Cult Cinema Classics.

Watch "Hollywood on Parade"

The Wasp Woman (1959). Directed by Roger Corman. Written by Leo Gordon. Starring Susan Cabot, Anthony Eisley, Barboura Morris. Synopsis: The head of a major cosmetics company experiments on herself with a youth formula made from royal jelly extracted from wasps, but the formula's side effects have deadly consequences.

Watch "The Wasp Woman"

Shell Game (1975). Directed by Glenn Jordan. Written by Harold Jack Bloom. Starring John Davidson, Tommy Atkins, Louise Latham. Synopsis: A convicted con artist sets out to expose the head of a charity fund who has been embezzling money to cover his huge gambling losses.

Watch "Shell Game"

- Chaz Ebert
Cannes 2022 Video #2: The Mother and the Whore, Armageddon Time, The Eight Mountains, EO

RogerEbert.com publisher Chaz Ebert's second video dispatch from the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, made with Scott Dummler of Mint Media Works, includes Thumbs On the Street segment, and Paris Correspondent Lisa Nesselson's reviews of Jean Eusatche's "The Mother and the Whore," James Gray's "Armageddon Time," Felix van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch's "The Eight Mountains," and Jerzy Skolimowski's "EO."

- Luc Haasbroek
10 Best Movie Robots, Ranked

Robots have fascinated humans for a long time. They've been a mainstay of cinema for close to a century, but old legends about automatons and golems go back even further. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, published in 1818, introduced many of the most recognizable tropes concerning artificial humans. The word "robot" was only coined in the early 20th century, deriving from the Slavic word "robota," meaning "forced labor."

- Kevin Hohenberger
7 Things To Be Excited About for 'House of the Dragon'

The land of Westeros is back! This time with more Targaryen's around which of course means more dragons. Set two hundred years before the events of Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon follows the beginning of the end to Targaryen rule in the land of the Seven Kingdoms.

- Karina Kosmala
8 Classic Martial Arts Movies To Watch If You Like 'Cobra Kai'

Cobra Kai (2018 -) will be back in session as season five is set to premiere in September 2022. The sports drama stars William Zabka as Johnny Lawrence, the student turned instructor of the Cobra Kai Dojo. The TV series is set after the events of the 1984 film The Karate Kid where Johnny lost the "All Valley Karate Tournament" to Daniel (Ralph Macchio).

- Jeremy Urquhart
Nail-Biting Cinema: The 10 Most Stressful Movies of All Time

Watching a movie is a great way to relax, for sure. After a hard day's work, it can be nice to put on something enjoyable and entertaining. If it's a movie you've seen a million times before, all the better, as you can slip right in and feel comforted by its charm, humor, characters, or sense of fun.

- Simoun Victor Redoblado
The 10 Best Plot Twists In 'Friends'

If you asked a TV aficionado to name shows with great writing, they'd probably rave about classics like Breaking Bad and The Sopranos. By any chance, would a sitcom about six New Yorkers make the cut? While the beloved series Friends thrives on outstanding humor and a powerhouse cast, there's no denying that the quality of its screenplay—episode after episode, season after season—is topnotch.

- Matthew Robert Pejkovic
Top Gun Cast and Characters (And What They're Doing Now)

It’s been 36 years since we first felt the “need for speed” when Top Gun was released in theaters. Produced by the dynamic duo of Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson, and directed by the late great action filmmaker Tony Scott, Top Gun took the action war movie into the “danger zone” with its thrilling aerial action scenes, iconic moments that have forever been forged into pop-culture history, and one of the most popular movie soundtracks of all time.

- Adam Chitwood
The Best Family and Kids Movies on Hulu (May 2022)

While Hulu is certainly home to some adrenaline-pumping action films and a bevy of innovative indies, the streaming service also boasts a solid selection of family movies—if you know where to look. Luckily, we’ve combed through the Hulu library to pick out the best of the best when it comes to family and kids viewing options, from animated features to family-friendly blockbusters to even somewhat offbeat choices that might just become your kids’ new favorite movie. Peruse our selection below of the best family movies on Hulu right now.

- Olivia Leung
10 Most Anticipated Action Movies Coming In 2022 (& Where To Watch Them)

A new calendar year means a slate of new films being released. 2022 is rounding out to be a year filled with excitement for the action genre.

- Marco Vito Oddo
The Flash Movie's New Costume: Exclusive Photos from Licensing Expo

During the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas, DC displayed the new superhero uniforms from their upcoming slate of films scheduled for the next few years, including Ezra Miller’s costume for The Flash. Collider's own Steven Weintraub's exclusive images from the event reveal more about the mysterious film, showing how the speedster costume will change after his last appearance in Justice League.

- Marco Vito Oddo
Sasha Calle’s Supergirl Movie Costume: Exclusive Photos

DC has revealed the new costume Sasha Calle’s Supergirl will be wearing in The Flash during this year's Licensing Expo in Las Vegas. Collider's own Steven Weintraub is attending the event and got some exclusive pictures of the uniform, designed by Alexandra Byrne.

- Bryanna Ehli
Best Summertime Comedies to Get You Stoked for the Season

Summer is almost here, which means beach days, family road trips, backyard barbecues, and possibly some late-night binge-watching. While there are bound to be plenty of new films released in the coming months to enjoy while you soak up some air conditioning, there’s a trove of cult classic summer-themed comedies to get you stoked for the season you await those hot summer releases. Whether you’re looking to get a little nostalgic for summer's past or get pumped for the best summer vacation ever, you’ll find what you’re looking for in our list of summer comedy movies.

- Marco Vito Oddo
Aquaman 2: Jason Momoa & Black Manta's New Costumes Revealed in Pictures

DC has given us a detailed look at the uniforms Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) and Black Manta (Yahya Abdul) will be using on Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. Our own Steven Weintraub took some exclusive pictures at the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas, giving us the best look yet at the new costumes featured in the highly-anticipated sequel.

- Marco Vito Oddo
Tim Burton’s Wednesday Series Gets a Fall Release Window

While attending Licensing Expo in Las Vegas, our very own Steven Weintraub got an exclusive picture of a poster with the release date of Wednesday, Tim Burton’s highly-anticipated take on The Addams Family. The series stars Jenna Ortega as the titular character and will be released this Fall on Netflix.

- Marco Vito Oddo
Creed 3 Poster Brings Michael B. Jordan Back as Boxing Champion

The first poster from Creed III shows Michael B. Jordan shirtless and ready to take down Jonathan Majors in the latest installment of the Rocky film franchise. Our own Steven Weintraub is attending Licensing Expo in Las Vegas and got an exclusive look at the threequel's first promo poster.

- Perri Nemiroff
Kyle Gallner on Having the Balls to Push It in Dinner in America

Dinner in America is hitting theaters on May 27th and VOD on June 7th, and it’s about time! The delightful off-the-wall comedy started racking up critical praise at Sundance 2020, but it’s only first getting the release it deserves now and I highly recommend everyone make the most of it.

- Tom Moore
10 Animated Series that Prove Animation Can Be For Adults

It’s tough to say why, but animation has been getting a lot of disrespect lately. During the Oscars, many felt the jokes and overall attitude towards animated movies devalued their impact by basically saying that they’re just for kids. Even Netflix essentially devalued their animation department by making major cuts and cancellations after their subscriber base took a massive hit. This idea that animation isn’t that important or only for kids simply isn’t true as animation has continually grown to be for every kind of viewer.

- Ryan O'Rourke
Trailer For Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song Highlights Rise of Iconic Song

Very few songs have acquired as much staying power and widespread appeal as Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". Covered by several iconic artists such as Bob Dylan and Jeff Buckley, and with imagery and messages that appeal to both the religious and the secular, its rise as one of the most well-known and beloved pieces of music is nothing short of incredible. As such, it is quite easy to understand why the song is the subject of a new documentary. The new trailer for Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song teases the song's rise to prominence and the complicated, winding journey Cohen went on both to write the song and get it out to the public. The film, which is set to debut at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival on June 12, will be released in theaters in New York and Los Angeles on July 1 before its nationwide release in the weeks after.

- Shane Romanchick
Speed Racer Live Action Series at Apple Being Produced by J.J. Abrams

Apple has had a ton of success with their original series, and it looks like they just found their next potential hit. According to Variety, a live-action Speed Racer series is in the works at Apple with the adaptation already receiving a series order. J.J Abrams will be executive producing the project for his Bad Robot Banner. A Banner which is currently under contract at Warner Brothers. Ron Fitzgerald and Hiram Martinez will write and executive produce the series along with serving as co-showrunners.

- John Ridlehoover
Weird Al Yankovic Pairs With Z2 Comics For The Illustrated Al Graphic Novel

“Weird Al" Yankovic recently teamed up with Z2 Comics to create a graphic novel called The Illustrated Al: The Songs of “Weird Al” Yankovic. The graphic novel, which is now available for pre-ordering, will feature work from some of the best artists in the business.

- Nate Richard
Best Family & Kids Movies on HBO Max Right Now (May 2022)

When it comes to movies that the whole family can enjoy, there's a plethora of options both live-action and animated on HBO Max. Home to timeless favorites such as the Harry Potter series, the works of Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki, or those treasured films of your youth such as Space Jam, HBO Max has hours upon hours of family-friendly entertainment that’s perfect to pop in and enjoy both as an adult and as a child!

- ScreenCrush Staff
Why Obi-Wan Kenobi Is the Most Important ‘Star Wars’ Character
It wouldn’t be Star Wars without Obi-Wan. Continue reading…
- ScreenCrush Staff
‘Speed Racer’ Is Getting a Live-Action TV Series
Go Speed Racer, go (to television)! Continue reading…
- Matt Singer
Everything New on Netflix in June
Ready for over 125 shows and movies? Continue reading…
- Cody Mcintosh
Guillermo Del Toro Says State of Modern Cinema Is ‘Unsustainable’
He made his remarks at the Cannes Film Festival. Continue reading…
- Matt Singer
The Worst Moments in the ‘Star Wars’ Prequels
‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ may be great, but these films are still bad. Continue reading…
- ScreenCrush Staff
‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ Every Easter Egg in the New Trailer
Did you spot these secrets? Continue reading…
- Matt Singer
Rejoice, Michael Bay’s ‘Ambulance’ Is Now on Streaming
This underrated thriller is available at home. Continue reading…
- Matt Singer
‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2’ Is Now on Streaming
You no longer need to go to the theater to see Tails and Knuckles. Continue reading…
- Alec Bojalad

This article contains spoilers for Better Call Saul season 6 episode 7.

When Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton) steps into Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) and Kim’s (Rhea Seehorn) apartment at the end of Better Call Saul’s final midseason finale, most of the audience can anticipate what’s going to happen next. While we just got to see Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) eviscerate the rotting moral compasses of the show’s two protagonists, Lalo doesn’t care about this personal beef between lawyers. No, he just wants to talk to Jimmy. 

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What about? We’ll soon find out in the midseason premiere, but not until we spend the next several weeks trying to recover from Howard becoming a witness who needed to be whacked. The way Howard’s head hits the floor after being murdered simply for being privy to other people’s crimes is a sound nobody will ever forget. And it’s the journey we went on with Howard that makes it even more tragic. 

That’s what makes co-creator Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould so damn good at their jobs. They let you inside of their characters’ worlds for not just a little while, but for several seasons. We learn about their motivations, we listen to their desires, and see how these characters change. That’s what Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad have both been about at their deepest cores. It’s just like Walter White (Bryan Cranston) said in the pilot of Gilligan and Gould’s parent series: “it’s growth, then decay, then transformation!” Only Howard is one of the only characters in either show that doesn’t go through any of these changes. No, it’s everyone else around him that changes, and in the process the audience gets to see an entirely different shade of Hamlindigo Blue. 

We watch the show from Jimmy’s perspective. As Kim became just as integral to the plot, we watch it from hers too. And from this point of view, Howard is a schmuck. He’s a tool, a byproduct of cheap nepotism. The other “Hamlin” in Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill is Howard’s father, a man who we never get to meet, but we know was the co-founder of one of New Mexico’s most famous law firms. The only reason Howard got his name on the company is because daddy let him. 

As we’ve seen in various other walks of life, from the way the Trump family operates to the fashion in which the Roy children keep fumbling their father’s media empire on Succession, children who are given everything on a silver platter from their parents are rarely sympathetic to society. We are all with Jimmy and Kim in agreement at their disgust for Howard’s lack of struggle compared to their own in the legal world. As Howard became more and more of a puppet in Chuck McGill’s (Michael McKean) plot to take down Jimmy’s career in the third season, we start to see that maybe some of the decisions Howard makes aren’t fully his to control. 

One of the worst parts about getting to where you are due to other people is that those same folks feel they get to continue to control your every move for the rest of your life. It is in this concept that we get to see Howard get rounded out. His layers start getting pulled back for the viewers. After Chuck commits suicide, Howard falls into a deep depression. He feels guilty for what he perceives as a lack of drive on his part to help the man who put him in position to succeed. We all know it’s not Howard’s fault at all, that Chuck’s mental illness and death is caused and exacerbated by his twisted relationship with Jimmy. And when Jimmy tries to pin Chuck’s demise on Howard for the ensuing two seasons, it is in this plot line that Howard starts to become sympathetic. 

Howard is trying his hardest to make himself a better person, to improve upon areas that he may have messed up on earlier in life. He even offers Jimmy a job in season five that goes unappreciated. Howard is a man who is aware of his reputation as a sidekick, someone who doesn’t have agency over his surroundings. He doesn’t get the chance to finish upon that personal quest for change, but we see that he’s definitely much more than a cheap suit and a spray tan. 

On the other end of the spectrum, Jimmy (and Kim) continue to plunge themselves into madness. We are still following their perspective, but it’s plain as day that their mindset is poisoned. This climaxes throughout this final season when Jimmy and Kim use the entire seven episode plot of the first half of it to ruin Howard’s legal career with an elaborate scheme that, in Howard’s own guess, possibly took months to execute. 

We don’t even really know why they did it. Howard serves simultaneously as the voice of his own psyche and ours when he begs the both of them for answers in his final minutes on Earth. What exactly did Howard do that deserved such treatment? It’s almost as if Jimmy and Kim are now such bad people, that they simply can’t help themselves. Nothing will make them happy, so they have to ruin others’ lives in their wake. 

Chuck claims that Jimmy doesn’t know better. He’s simply been put on this planet to destroy what others create. Howard is just a man trying to do his job. He’s a lawyer doing his best for his clients, he’s a husband struggling with an estranged marriage, and he’s a man who’s still reeling from his mentor’s death. It is in this dichotomy, this juxtaposition of motivations that Howard becomes the show’s most tragic character simply by staying static. 

Howard doesn’t really change, but our perspective on him does. And right when we have finally seen the light, Lalo puts it out. It’s hard to imagine anybody else dying in such devastating fashion in these final episodes. Certainly nobody who is so completely naive to the cartel’s game, somebody who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Howard Hamlin died the way his entire life went: by being a victim of circumstance, for better and for worse. 

Better Call Saul season 6 returns with episode 8 on Monday, July 11 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.

The post Better Call Saul: How Did Howard Hamlin Become the Show’s Most Tragic Character? appeared first on Den of Geek.

- Lacy Baugher
The Flash: Caity Lotz Takes Us Behind the Scenes of “The Curious Case of Bartholomew Allen”

The following contains The Flash spoilers.

The Flash Season 8 Episode 16

The Flash’s “The Curious Case of Bartholomew Allen” is another of what showrunner Eric Wallace likes to refer to as an “interlude” episode, an hour that isn’t as clearly connected to the larger ongoing arcs of the season (also known as “graphic novels”). As a result, while there are a few small references to season 8’s’ larger stories—Iris is still missing and the episode ends with Barry destroying the mad scientist lab that Caitlin built in her living room after Frost’s death—it generally feels as though it’s a story that could essentially take place at any point in the season. 

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In fact, there’s a lot about this installment, which revolves around the Flash getting hit with a shockwave that causes him to age rapidly and his powers to deteriorate further each time he uses them, which has a distinctly season one flavor to it. Largely because it strikes an almost perfect balance of humor and heart, mixing physical comedy with genuinely moving emotion. But that may well also be due to the influence of the special guest star behind the scenes. 

Though it’s been about a month since Legends of Tomorrow was officially canceled, former leading lady Caity Lotz still made one last crossover this year. But instead of starring onscreen, she took charge behind the camera. “The Curious Case of Bartholomew Allen” isn’t Lotz’s first time in the director’s chair; the actress helmed three episodes of Legends—season 5’s “Mortal Khanbat,” season 6’s “The Satanist’s Apprentice,” and season 7’s “wvrdr_error_100 not found,” the series’ 100th episode. But it does mark her directorial debut on a show that was not her own

“It was definitely different,” Lotz tells Den of Geek when asked about directing a show she wasn’t also starring on. “It was interesting because I knew a lot of the actors, but I didn’t really know the crew or anybody. So it was [challenging] trying to get to know everybody and have everyone get to know you in such a short period of time. But it was also kind of a nice change to not have, like, ten people in a scene!” 

According to Lotz, the episode is more of a “standalone” than a lot of installments in The Flash universe, which she says offers a “little more freedom” for her as a director.

“You have a lot more limitations when you have an episode that ​​[is part of a larger arc] — and that was something I talked to Eric about in terms of, you know, following beats, because if [he] wrote it in the script, it’s really important. There’s a lot of interconnected stuff and the more interconnected it is, the more you have to make sure that you’re playing your part and being the puzzle piece that you need to be.”

Read more Batwoman and Legends of Tomorrow Canceled: Are CW DC TV Shows in Trouble? By The Flash: Inside the Still Force and the Search for Iris By

But, just because this episode isn’t as tightly tied into season 8’s overall arc as other installments we’ve seen recently, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have something important to say. “The Curious Case of Bartholomew Allen” actually turns out to be a surprisingly emotional hour, wrestling with big existential questions about aging, purpose and making the most of the time that’s been given to you, all mixed with a healthy dose of The Flash’s heartfelt humor.

“It’s really [about] finding the universal truth in everything,” Lotz says when asked about her approach to depicting such big themes onscreen. “So that, when people watch it, [they] say ‘Oh, I feel that. I understand that. I know that.’ My dad had just recently retired, so I felt like in talking to him about that stuff it really played into Jesse Martin’s storyline.” 

Though Lotz has worked with many of the major cast members on The Flash before, she was effusive in her praise of their performances and their work ethic from the other side of the camera.

“Grant [Gustin] always just brings heart into all his work,” Lotz says. “And he’s so good with all the physical comedy. But everyone was just really sweet. I think they wanted to make sure I had a good time and a good experience on their set. Of course, I wanted to do a bunch of complicated things that required very specific movements from the actors. But everyone was super game to make it work. it wasn’t like I have to do it this way with my thing. It was like everyone wanted to be in service of the greater story.”

Despite its emotionally heavy subject matter, Lotz’s outing is also one of the funniest The Flash installments in recent memory, from the physical humor of Barry’s rapidly deteriorating physique (oh no gray hairs!) to our first glimpse of Team Flash group game night.

But though it may not appear to be the case (the cast does often make it look fairly effortless), Lotz, says that shooting comedy is more difficult than you might expect.

“You know, I think comedy is harder than drama. Because to me, drama is just like truth,” Lotz explains. “I don’t have to decide how to play it with drama. Whereas in comedy, you want to make sure you hit the beats and there’s a rhythm and there’s timing and it’s a bit more technical. ​​So I do think it can be more challenging, but with this stuff— I mean, the script was funny and the beats were there. It’s all about committing.”

While it’s evident that Team Flash fully committed to Dungeons and Dragons night—a sequence that may well go down in history as one of the show’s most entertaining moments (even if I do weep for the version of this game where both Iris and Caitlin were present)—Lotz says she’s never played herself.

“Yeah, actually, no, I have not,” she laughs. “But I had a lot of, you know, resident nerds [on set] that I could ask for help and advice on what was realistic and what wasn’t. And I was like—I need to play this game! This seems fun.”

Now that her time on the Waverider has come to a close—and Legends “had a good run,” she says—Lotz is looking forward to doing more directing work in the future, in addition to performing in front of the camera. 

“​​I really would like to do a feature,” she says. “Because I want to world build. I want to create my own visual language for something and a lot of TV is you’ve got to fit what’s there. Your job is to come in and execute in their style and I’d like to create [something] from scratch, from getting to flex all those creative muscles and kind of explore.”

The post The Flash: Caity Lotz Takes Us Behind the Scenes of “The Curious Case of Bartholomew Allen” appeared first on Den of Geek.

- John Saavedra

It seems like only yesterday that we said our final goodbyes to Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen’s Obi-Wan and Anakin, but a lot has happened since Revenge of the Sith hit theaters in 2005, including a whole new era of Star Wars stories ushered in by Disney. That era began with a Sequel Trilogy that left the gilded age of the Republic behind and returned to the lived-in aesthetic of A New Hope.

But since the Sequels wrapped in 2019, Lucasfilm has been busy mining other parts of the Star Wars timeline for new tales, this time on our television sets. The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, and Ahsoka all take place five years after Return of the Jedi but decades before Rey’s fight against the First Order. And now there’s Obi-Wan Kenobi, the first live-action Star Wars limited series set 10 years after the Prequel Trilogy.

A sequel to Revenge of the Sith, the new show brings back McGregor and Christensen but at a very different point in the lives of their iconic characters. Obi-Wan is now living in exile on Tatooine, watching over little Luke Skywalker from afar, while Anakin has completed his transformation into Darth Vader, the Dark Lord of the Sith in charge of hunting down every last Jedi left in the galaxy.

When Vader’s dark side minions, known as the Inquisitors, show up on the desert planet, it sets the stage for a rematch between the Jedi Master and his former apprentice that will undoubtedly change what we thought we knew about their duel in A New Hope. Ahead of the premiere of Obi-Wan Kenobi this week, here is everything you need to know about the show as well as how it ties back to the Prequel Trilogy as well as The Clone Wars.

When Does Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi Come Out?

Obi-Wan Kenobi episodes 1 and 2 will release on Friday, May 27 at 3:01 am ET/12:01 am PT on Disney+.

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It’s no secret that the biggest influences on Obi-Wan Kenobi are the three Prequel Trilogy films: The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith. While the show is most directly a continuation of Revenge, we’re bound to see elements from all three movies in the series.

If you don’t have time to rewatch the movies before the show’s premiere, here are the key Obi-Wan and Anakin moments you need to know from the Prequel films (as well as The Clone Wars) before jumping into Obi-Wan Kenobi.

The Phantom Menace and the Duel of the Fates

While on the surface The Phantom Menace is about a trade dispute on the peaceful planet of Naboo that sets the stage for the rise of Emperor Palpatine, it’s really about how Obi-Wan and Anakin first met. Obi-Wan is an apprentice to a somewhat rebellious Jedi Knight named Qui-Gon Jinn, who believes he’s found the prophesied “Chosen One” who will destroy the Sith and bring balance to the Force in a little boy living on a remote desert planet called Tatooine. That boy is Anakin Skywalker, a slave who seems to have been conceived by the midi-chlorians, the microscopic organisms that make it possible for beings to use the Force.

Qui-Gon frees Anakin, but not Anakin’s mother, Shmi, a decision that will come back to haunt the young Jedi later. Despite Obi-Wan and the Jedi Council’s reservations, Qui-Gon is determined to train Anakin as a Jedi now that Obi-Wan has come of age. But Qui-Gon’s plans are cut short on Naboo when Palpatine’s Sith apprentice, Darth Maul, lands a fatal blow during a duel. Fortunately, Obi-Wan is able to defeat Maul, and promises his dying master that he will train Anakin in the ways of the Force.

It’s also during this conflict that Anakin first meets Padme Amidala, Queen of Naboo, the love of his life and one of the people tragically intertwined with the Jedi’s own dark destiny.

Obi-Wan and Anakin, Master and Padawan

Fast-forward to 10 years later for Attack of the Clones, Anakin is now 19 and has a decade of Jedi adventures under his belt. He’s still Obi-Wan’s padawan, and the two clearly have formed a brotherly bond, but there’s also tension between the two that stems from Anakin feeling that he’s outgrown his apprenticeship and is ready to take the trials to become a full-fledged Jedi Knight.

Unfortunately, Attack of the Clones spends the next two hours and a half showing you how ill-prepared Anakin is for the challenges ahead. But the film also shows how Obi-Wan maybe underestimates his padawan and how his stringent belief in the ways of the Jedi are a bit suffocating to the more free-spirited Anakin who undoubtedly would have found a much better match in Qui-Gon’s more open-ended reading of Jedi doctrine.

Anakin and Padme Fall in Love

Episode II isn’t just about the beginning of the mythical Clone Wars that Sir Alec Guinness first referenced all the way back in 1977. It’s also a love story between Anakin and Padme, who are reunited after the latter is almost assassinated by bounty hunters working for the Separatists, a faction of planets that want to break away from the Republic. Assigned to protect Padme, who’s now a senator working to prevent a galactic war from breaking out, Anakin makes it clear early on that his childhood crush on the former queen never subsided. In fact, the years have only made Anakin fall more deeply in love with Padme.

This of course complicates Anakin’s assignment to watch over Padme on Naboo, where the two share some truly cringeworthy steamy moments. At one point, they even kiss, which is forbidden when you’re a Jedi. But we know Anakin is doomed to fall to the dark side. He has to start somewhere.

By the end of the film, Padme has somehow fallen for Anakin, too. Right before they’re meant to be executed on Geonosis, the Separatist’s base of operations, Padme tells Anakin that she “truly, deeply loves him,” which all but solidifies their doomed love affair. In the final scene of Attack of the Clones, Anakin and Padme get married in a secret ceremony back on Naboo.

The Death of Shmi Skywalker

Early in Episode II, we also learn that Anakin has been having nightmares about his mother, dark visions of a terrible fate awaiting Shmi on Tatooine. Although he and Padme are supposed to stay put on Naboo while Obi-Wan is on a separate mission to find the bounty hunter who is trying to kill the senator, Anakin decides he needs to finally go back to the desert planet and find his mother.

But it’s already too late. When Anakin arrives, he learns that Shmi was eventually freed in the years after The Phantom Menace, and that she married a man named Cliegg Lars (the father of Uncle Owen from A New Hope). Unfortunately, Shmi has also been kidnapped by a band of Tusken Raiders, which means she’s probably dead now.

Anakin won’t give up on his mom so easily, though. When the young Jedi catches up to the Tuskens, he finds his tortured mother on the brink of death. Their reunion is a very brief one, just long enough for Shmi to see her grown up son one last time before she passes away.

This is where Anakin’s fall truly begins. Overwhelmed by grief and a deep hatred for his mother’s killers, the Jedi slaughters the entire Tusken tribe, including the women and children, a massacre that he’ll later admit to Padme — and much later to Supreme Chancellor Palpatine…

Begun, The Clone Wars Have

All of the main characters in Attack of the Clones converge on Geonosis in the film’s action-packed third act. This is where the mythical Clone Wars begin.

Separatist leader Count Dooku, a former Jedi Knight who turned to the dark side and joined the Sith to become Darth Tyranus, captures and orders the execution of Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Padme. But before that can happen, Jedi Masters Mace Windu and Yoda, as well as the rest of the Jedi Order, show up with a shiny new clone army to save the day.

Obi-Wan and Anakin confront Dooku as he tries to escape the planet, but he schools them with a lightsaber quite easily, severing part of Anakin’s arm in the process, a moment meant to rhyme with Luke’s own painful amputation in The Empire Strikes Back. It’s also the beginning of Anakin’s physical transformation into the machine nightmare he is destined to become.

The Clone Wars: Anakin and Ahsoka

The Clone Wars rage on for the next three years, engulfing every region of the galaxy, as the Republic’s clone army and the Separatists’ battle droids try to gain a foothold on battlefields across hundreds of planets. Many of these battles are covered in the CG animated series of the same name.

It’s in The Clone Wars that we also see Anakin finally become a Jedi Knight and take on his own padawan, the fan-favorite Ahsoka Tano. Anakin and Ahsoka’s relationship is pivotal to the lore of Star Wars in general, if not the three Prequel movies (because Ahsoka hadn’t been created yet).

While it’s very possible that Obi-Wan Kenobi won’t reference Ahsoka at all since she wasn’t in Revenge of the Sith, her history with Anakin will definitely be addressed in her upcoming Disney+ series due out next year. So it might not be a bad idea to learn a bit about Ahsoka and Anakin’s Clone Wars adventures before then.

The Clone Wars: Obi-Wan and Satine Kryze

Not sure if it’ll have any bearing on Obi-Wan Kenobi, but StarWars.com has suggested folks to also rewatch the early Mandalore episodes of The Clone Wars, which tell the story of Duchess Satine Kryze, the pacifist ruler of the Mandalorian people during the war (and Bo-Katan’s sister). Starting with season 2 episode, “The Mandalore Plot,” The Clone Wars reveals an unseen chapter in Obi-Wan’s life that shows just how close he came to leaving the Jedi Order behind for love…

Count Dooku Loses His Head

Three years after the events of Attack of the Clones, the war is still raging across the galaxy in Revenge of the Sith, but the Republic is on the brink of victory. During a desperate final attack on the Republic capital of Coruscant, the Separatists kidnap Palpatine and the Jedi dispatch Obi-Wan and Anakin to save him. A few physics-defying starfighter maneuvers later, the Jedi are inside the flagship where Count Dooku is keeping Palpatine (who is also secretly Dooku’s Sith master, Darth Sidious).

Dooku and the Jedi have their long-awaited rematch, and this time, Anakin has no problem disarming the Sith lord, severing both of the old man’s hands in the process. Anakin is mandated to apprehend the defeated and completely helpless Dooku so that he can stand trial, but Palpatine orders Anakin to execute Dooku right then and there. Since Obi-Wan was knocked unconscious during the duel, he’s not there to stop Anakin from beheading the Sith lord in cold blood at the supreme chancellor’s behest.

And just like that, Anakin is one step closer to becoming Palpatine’s next apprentice.

The Vision

Anakin is welcomed back to Coruscant as a hero, but he soon receives some alarming news: Padme is pregnant. Worse: he begins having visions of Padme dying during childbirth. Later books and comic books have suggested that Palpatine himself put these visions in Anakin’s head to expedite the process of turning him to the dark side. If true, it was genius.

Darth Sidious Revealed and Anakin Turns to the Dark Side

Anakin will do anything to save Padme, including joining the Sith and becoming Palpatine’s new apprentice. It all begins when Palpatine appoints Anakin as his very own proxy in the Jedi Council, a very unorthodox and alarming move by a supreme chancellor who has stayed in office long after his term due to the emergency powers he received at the start of the Clone Wars. This makes Anakin the youngest Jedi to ever sit on the council, but the other councilors refuse to grant Anakin the title of “Jedi Master,” which infuriates him. To add salt to the wound, the Jedi give him a secret mission on his way out: to spy on an increasingly suspicious Palpatine, who has become a bit of a father figure to Anakin in the years between Episode II and Episode III.

Later, when Anakin confides in Palpatine that his trust in the Jedi has been shaken, the secret Dark Lord of the Sith tells him the story of Darth Plagueis the Wise, a Sith lord who was so powerful that he could manipulate midi-chlorians (remember those?) to create life (hint hint about Anakin’s own “immaculate conception”) and stop people from dying. It’s this same power Palpatine offers to Anakin a few scenes later when he reveals to the Jedi Knight that he’s been Darth Sidious all along.

Only as Sidious’ apprentice can Anakin learn the dark side knowledge he needs to save Padme from death, says Palpatine. But at first, Anakin is disgusted and rushes back to Mace Windu to tell him the truth about the chancellor. Yet, just when Windu is about to slay the Sith lord once and for all, Anakin has a change of heart. He believes that if Palpatine dies, his chance to save Padme will be gone, too. (We all know Palps has no intention to save Anakin’s wife, but poor, dumb Anakin is incredibly gullible.) So Anakin saves Palpatine, and Windu goes flying out of a skyscraper window.

Knowing it’s too late to turn back now, Anakin vows to serve the Sith in exchange for Padme’s life. If you’re wondering why Obi-Wan wasn’t around to stop his former apprentice from being such a dumbass once again, it’s because while this is all happening on Coruscant, the Jedi Master is on a faraway planet fighting General Grievous, the last remaining Separatist military leader. The next time Obi-Wan sees Anakin, they’ll be enemies.

Order 66 and the Jedi Purge

Which means it’s finally time for Palpatine to execute Order 66, a secret command that causes an “inhibitor chip” inside every clone’s head to activate, turning them into Jedi killing machines. Revenge of the Sith proceeds with a montage of clones all over the galaxy slaughtering their Jedi generals. Meanwhile, Anakin leads a battalion of clone troopers into the Jedi Temple, where they kill every last Jedi in their path. Basically, the Jedi have suddenly been declared enemies of the Republic and must be executed on sight.

By the end of the montage, the only Jedi left seem to be Obi-Wan and Yoda. Discovering that Palpatine and Anakin are behind the Jedi Purge, they each head off to try and take down the Sith lords. Yoda confronts the newly self-appointed Emperor Palpatine in his office, while Obi-Wan visits Padme to try and discover Anakin’s whereabouts. She refuses. But when Obi-Wan tells her the truth about Anakin, she rushes off to find him, unknowingly leading the Jedi Master right to his former apprentice for a final showdown.

Obi-Wan vs. Anakin on Mustafar

Anakin is on Mustafar, the volcanic planet where the last remaining Separatist leaders are hiding from the new Empire. Palpatine, in his hooded Darth Sidious guise (the Sith lord has been the one commanding the enemy faction all along), gathered all of the clueless Separatists in one convenient place so that Anakin could show up and quickly bring an end to the Clone Wars.

By the time, Obi-Wan catches up with Anakin, the time for talking is over. The duel that was foretold all the way back in 1977 has begun. It’s one of the best action sequences in Star Wars movie history, as Anakin and Obi-Wan attempt to kill each other while also trying not to fall into a river of lava. It’s the one moment from the Prequels you should definitely watch.

That said, if you really don’t feel like it, you at least already know who won this fight. After gaining the high ground, which is apparently check mate when it comes to lightsaber dueling, Obi-Wan begs Anakin to surrender. But when Anakin refuses, Obi-Wan is forced to cut his former apprentice down, slicing off the one human arm he has left as well as both of his legs.

It’s then that Obi-Wan says his final goodbye to Anakin, leaving him to burn to death in the fires of Mustafar.

Anakin Fully Becomes Darth Vader

But we know Anakin doesn’t die on Mustafar. Before he succums to his injuries, the Emperor arrives to save him. We then watch in the final minutes of Revenge of the Sith as Anakin’s body is rebuilt with machine parts and encased in the terrifying armor of Darth Vader. As we hear Anakin’s first breaths as the reborn Dark Lord of the Sith, we know his transformation is complete.

The first thing the Emperor tells his new machine nightmare is that Anakin accidentally killed Padme in anger, which right that second is a lie, but…

Padme’s Death and A New Hope

Anakin’s actions do cause Padme to die during childbirth. But it isn’t due to any physical injury or anything — although Anakin does Force choke her on Mustafar at one point — she’s simply lost the will to live. According to George Lucas’ script, Padme’s cause of death is heartbreak. After giving birth to Luke and Leia, Padme uses her final breaths to tell Obi-Wan that there’s still good in Anakin. Then she dies, a preposterous ending for a character who deserved much, much better.

With Luke and Leia formally introduced, the Prequel Trilogy has done its job, setting up the events of A New Hope. Senator Bail Organa, Padme’s good friend throughout these films, adopts Leia and takes her back to Alderaan, while Obi-Wan takes Luke to live with Owen and Beru Lars on Tatooine, which sounds like a dumb plan since Vader would totally know to look there. Except Vader doesn’t know his children were ever actually born. The last we see of the villain, he’s standing on the bridge of a Star Destroyer with the Emperor as the Empire sets to work on building the Death Star.

Further Reading: Marvel’s Darth Vader and “From the Journals of Obi-Wan Kenobi”

If you want to know what happened to Darth Vader right after Revenge of the Sith, the best place to start is Marvel’s Darth Vader comic book series by Charles Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli. Not only does it explore how the Sith lords formed the Inquisitors to hunt down the remaining Jedi in the galaxy, it reveals some major new secrets about Vader’s origin that actually make this the missing Prequel chapter every Star Wars fan should read before Obi-Wan Kenobi.

But if you only have time to read a few comics before Friday, check out the “From the Journals of Obi-Wan Kenobi” stories Marvel published a few years back. They cover several of Obi-Wan’s other adventures while in exile on Tatooine, including the time he saved Uncle Ben from the bloodthirsty Wookiee bounty hunter Black Krrsantan, who recently appeared on The Book of Boba Fett!

Want more? You can read more about Obi-Wan Kenobi here.

The post Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi Release Time and Prequel Trilogy Recap appeared first on Den of Geek.

- Nick Harley

This article is sponsored by Plex TV.

At Den of Geek, it’s no secret that we let our geek flag fly like Superman in the heart of a tornado, but for those of you that are secret geeks in the office, salon, or in uniform, allow Geek Pride Day to be the day you share your nerdiest obsessions with everyone in your life. Perhaps wear a Batman tie to work, finally stick that Star Wars Rebels window decal on the back of the minivan, or casually drop some Elvish or Klingon into that company-wide email. Today is the day to embrace your inner geek!

Maybe you want to take your geekiness up another notch? Well, let our friends over at Plex help! Whether you geek out over movies, music, TV or all of the above, Plex wants to help you get the most out of the geeky media you love with 20% off a Lifetime Plex Pass. Plex was created for geeks, by geeks, to give you ultimate control over the media you love. Now that bootleg copy of A New Hope with the original effects has the perfect home server. 

For new users and Plex faithful alike, Plex Pass allows you to unlock the full power of Plex. Some of the features include:

Plex Dash – Think of this exclusive app—made by obsessive server geeks for obsessive server geeks—as a dash of admin power on-the-go. Fix up artwork. Refresh libraries. Inspect nerdy media details. Master your mediaverse.Plexamp – For audiophiles, Plex built this custom members-only music player to set your music free. Not just another pretty app, this is a music geek’s dream solution that just keeps getting better and includes access to CarPlay, a sophisticated neural network that analyzes your music library and powers unique new features, offline capabilities, and a plethora of hypnotic music visualizers.Downloads – Take your favorite media to enjoy anywhere in all its Plexy glory, no connection required. Plus, you’ll also get blazing speeds, playback reliability, broad format support (meaning less transcoding), and simultaneous downloading.And many, many more!

These days, we all have more media gadgets than Batman, and Plex works on all of them! And while all of the audio features are incredible, we know our audience here is interested in the movies and TV side of things, and Plex caters to A/V geeks with the best possible streaming experience, giving access to HDR tone mapping, hardware transcoding, and more. 

With this one-time purchase, you’ll get access for life to all of Plex’s latest features (including the ones that haven’t gone public yet). So what are you waiting for? On Geek Pride Day, take your geekiness to the next level with Plex Pass and their Geek Pride Sale. Your media library will be glad you did!

The post Geek Week Deals: Get a Lifetime Plex Pass appeared first on Den of Geek.

- Mike Cecchini

Jaime Reyes is coming to the DCEU, and the character’s striking Blue Beetle costume has never looked better! Warner Bros. has been putting a lot behind their upcoming Blue Beetle movie, and it’s definitely showing in the first look at the elaborate costume in live action.

Xolo Maridueña (Cobra Kai) plays Jaime Reyes, a teenager from El Paso, TX who finds an alien “scarab” that bonds with him, manifests a suit of high tech armor, and grants him super powers. Created by Keith Giffen, John Rogers, and Cully Hamner during DC’s Infinite Crisis event back in 2006, Blue Beetle’s sleek, almost Tokusatsu-influenced design seems like it was destined for the screen almost from its inception. But despite appearing in numerous DC animated projects (notably Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Young Justice), Beetle’s only live action appearance so far came in Smallville season 10, episode 18, “Booster” where he was unfortunately saddled with a weirdly bulky look that didn’t manage to capture the coolness of the comics look.

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That doesn’t look like it’s going to be a problem with the Blue Beetle movie, though. Thanks to the folks at JustJared, we have our first look at Maridueña in full Blue Beetle regalia on the set of the film in Atlanta, GA, and we’re pleased to report that he looks absolutely awesome. This isn’t just a comics accurate look, it’s a beautifully realized costume. It would have been far too easy to just do this suit digitally using motion capture (we’re looking at you Marvel Studios!) so seeing this version of Blue Beetle brought to life in an awesome practical suit, which looks like it’s screaming to be turned into an action figure, is a wonderful relief.

FIRST LOOK AT THE BLUE BEETLE SUIT🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 ITS PERFECT!! pic.twitter.com/5ZUMjiBPhg

— Cris Parker (@3CFilmss) May 25, 2022

Some of these images appear to show some kind of stunt sequence involving a fall on to a taxi. It’s not totally clear if it’s also Maridueña in the suit there, but it seems like it might be.

And most importantly? Blue Beetle co-creator Cully Hamner seems appropriately pleased by the look!

I have, indeed, my friend. I have indeed. 😉 https://t.co/vgqUpp8QV4

— Cully Hamner (@CullyHamner) May 25, 2022

You can see lots more photos via JustJared here.

Blue Beetle also stars Raoul Max Trujillo as the villainous Conrad Carapax, George Lopez as Jaime’s uncle Rudy, Harvey Guillén (our beloved Guillermo from What We Do In the Shadows), and Susan Sarandon as Victoria Kord, who is rumored to be an antagonist in the film, as well. DC fans will recognize that she shares a last name with Ted Kord, the man who held the non-superpowered mantle of Blue Beetle before Jaime, but it’s unclear at this time if Ted makes an appearance in this film. Angel Manuel Soto (Charm City Kings) directs, from a script by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer.

Despite originally being developed as an HBO Max release, Blue Beetle will be released in theaters on Aug. 18, 2023. The full schedule of upcoming DC movies can be found here.

The post Blue Beetle Costume Revealed in DC Movie Set Photos appeared first on Den of Geek.

- Matthew Byrd

Almost every long-running video game franchise has a signature weapon that shows up in almost every entry. For God of War, that weapon is the Blades of Chaos. For Half-Life, it’s the crowbar. For The Legend of Zelda, it is most certainly the Master Sword.

Also known as the Blade of Evil’s Bane, the Master Sword is one of the most frequent recurring faces of the franchise. Even though most Zelda games star different characters, all of whom are named Link, the Master Sword is the same weapon throughout. This has, unfortunately, resulted in some retcons and contradictory origins since the Master Sword has technically existed longer than the Legend of Zelda timeline. Whenever one entry provides an origin story for the weapon, a sequel eventually comes along and delivers a different tale.

So what is the true origin of the Master Sword? Who forged the only weapon that can harm Link’s immortal archnemesis, Ganon? Here’s the full story (at least until another Zelda game updates the weapon’s lore yet again).

The Master Sword’s Misleading Early Mythology

Even though the Master Sword is synonymous with The Legend of Zelda franchise, the weapon didn’t debut until The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, where it waited in a stone pedestal. While this sword in the stone imagery has stuck with the Zelda series ever since, the Master Sword’s initial form did not. In A Link to the Past, the Master Sword features a red grip and guard; the blue hilt we know today was introduced in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Since the Master Sword first appeared in A Link to the Past, that game also provided an origin for the weapon, but like the design, that story’s canonicity was just as fleeting.

Back in the old days, video games came with instruction manuals. Those tiny booklets drilled players on game controls and occasionally provided bits of backstory. In A Link to the Past’s game manual, players can find an entire section devoted to the origins of Ganon and the Master Sword. According to that section, the citizens of Hyrule forged the Master Sword after Ganon acquired the Triforce. Instead of sealing away evil beings, the sword was designed to cut through magic, specifically magics granted by the Triforce. However, that’s just the English version of the manual. The original Japanese version tells a similar story but with one crucial difference: the gods told Hylians to forge the Master Sword just in case someone like Ganon got their hands on the Triforce. The weapon wasn’t created out of desperation but as a preemptive measure.

Subsequent Legend of Zelda games retconned the Master Sword’s genesis. In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, before Princess Zelda helps players find the Master Sword, she waxes poetic about its history and power. And according to her, the sword was crafted by ancient sages, not the citizens of Hyrule. Admittedly, these sages were crucial to the sword’s history in A Link to the Past since they tried finding someone worthy to wield the blade. However, according to that game’s booklet, they played no part in the actual forging of the Master Sword. 

Technically, Twilight Princess wasn’t the first Zelda property to associate sages with the Master Sword’s origin. Actually in the Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past manga, the sages crafted the Master Sword. However, that retelling is of questionable canonicity, and not just because Link talks in it.

The Current Cannon Corrects the Master Sword’s Origins

Not every mainline Legend of Zelda game acts as a sequel to previous entries; many are actually prequels. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, for instance, is a prequel to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords is likewise a prequel to Ocarina of Time. Currently, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is the first chronological entry in the series, and, as such, it gives players a front row seat to the Master Sword’s creation.

Early in Skyward Sword, Link acquires the Goddess Sword, as well as the most talkative (and annoying) sidekick since Navi: Fi. Fi is an artificially created spirit who resides in the Goddess Sword and acts as its medieval onboard computer. She helps Link find elemental flames associated with different goddesses (the gods from A Link to the Past were later retconned into goddesses), which turn the Goddess Sword into the Master Sword. So in a sense, Link forged the Master Sword by going on an adventure with Fi acting as his guide. But that raises another question: If Link turned the Goddess Sword into the Master Sword, who created the Goddess Sword in the first place?

According to Skyward Sword’s backstory, the Goddess Hylia forged the Goddess Sword and used it to fight and seal away the demon Demise. This origin sounds awfully familiar to the story associated with the Master Sword in earlier Zelda titles; just replace “Goddess Sword” with “Master Sword” and “Demise” with “Ganon.” This is by design, as Skyward Sword not only explains how the Master Sword came to be but also the origin of Ganon and his Gerudo alter ego, Ganondorf. Sort of. At the end of Skyward Sword, Demise curses the descendents of Link and Zelda to forever have “an incarnation of [his] hate” follow them. That “incarnation” is implied to be Ganondorf/Ganon, so it sort of makes sense that the successor of the weapon used to defeat Demise would likewise be used to defeat Demise’s successor.

Who Really Forged the Master Sword?

Continuity has a love-hate relationship with the Legend of Zelda franchise. Almost every entry features landmarks such as Hyrule Castle and Death Mountain, but topography varies wildly between entries for no discernible reason. While one could argue that the whatever rationale is behind these changes also explains why the Master Sword’s origin occasionally changes, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword potentially provides a superior in-game explanation that doesn’t retcon the previous stories.

When players acquire the Goddess Sword in Skyward Sword, they learn that Link’s teacher (and Zelda’s father) Gaepora guarded the chamber and kept it secret. Gaepora also recites a bit of the legend that was passed down to him. Fi remarks that oral tradition is “one of the least reliable methods of information retention and transmission” since apparently crucial portions of the story had been lost over time. Not only does Fi use this as an opportunity to correct Gaepora, but it also explains why the Master Sword origin stories differ from game to game.

While players got to witness the weapon’s creation in Skyward Sword, characters in other games did not. Tales were passed down from generation to generation, which is why in-game legends of the Master Sword exist in the first place. But as time went on, certain details were accidentally changed or omitted. That’s probably why the sages were apocryphally associated with the Master Sword’s creation in earlier entries; in Ocarina of Time, they were crucial in sealing away Ganondorf. Stories of the Goddess Sword and Demise probably disappeared, but tales of the Master Sword and Ganondorf did not. Therefore over time, Hylians likely assumed the Master Sword was created in response to Ganondorf and thus misassociated the sages with the weapon’s origins.

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It only took 100 years to make The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild characters like Yolero think the Master Sword is actually a torch. Imagine how much damage potentially thousands of years of compounding errors could do to stories surrounding the weapon’s beginnings. 

The post The Legend of Zelda: Who Forged the Master Sword? appeared first on Den of Geek.

- Matthew Byrd
Super Mario: The Strange Origins of Bowser’s Real Name

Along with being the primary antagonist of the Super Mario franchise, Bowser is one of the most recognizable names in gaming history. Honestly, you could easily argue that he’s probably the most globally recognizable villain in video game history.

Bower certainly boasts the resume needed to be worthy of that title. For over 35 years, he has played various roles in some of the most successfully, acclaimed, and beloved Nintendo games ever made. Of course, his status as a video game icon has as much to do with his distinct look and, of course, that wonderful name.

However, you should know that Bower’s real name isn’t actually Bowser. Well…at least not entirely. Actually, the origins of Bowser’s real name may leave you wondering why we ever started calling that character Bowser in the first place.

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See, in Japan, the character that I (and, depending on where you live, you) know as Bowser is actually named “Koopa.” In some older Super Mario media, the character is referred to as “Great King Koopa,” “Demon King Koopa,” or “Great Demon King Koopa,” but the Koopa name remains. Actually, to be entirely accurate, the character was often officially referred to as “Kuppa” in Japan up until around the release of Super Mario World (though that name has endured throughout the years).

So where did the Koopa/Kuppa name come from? Well, Shigeru Miyamoto previously stated that the character was actually named after a Korean dish known as “Gukbap” (essentially hot soup with rice). In Japan, that dish is commonly referred to as “Kuppa.” In fact, the team reportedly also considered naming the character after two other Korean dishes: “Yukhoe” and “Bibimbap.” Keep that in mind for later.

Why were they determined to name the character after food in the first place? That’s one of the many mysteries associated with the name. I’ve heard stories that suggest Miyamoto and the team simply came up with the name over lunch, but that seems like an urban legend. The same is likely true of similar stories that suggest Miyamoto realized the character looked like those foods (which is really only true if you look at specific photos and force yourself you see the similarities).

The most likely explanation is that the practice of naming characters after food was simply very popular in Japan at that time (especially in anime and manga). Even Princess Peach is named after food (though the origins of her name is a story for another day). I’ve even heard a rumor that Miyamoto considered naming even more characters after food, but there’s little evidence that supports the idea that was ever the long-term plan for the series.

Regardless, it’s clear that the name of Mario’s main antagonist was originally intended to be Kuppa/Koopa, and all appropriate variations of that name. So why wasn’t the character just called Kuppa/Koopa everywhere else? Well…he kind of was.

Why You May Know Bowser As King Koopa

If you distinctly remember referring to Bowser as King Koopa, you’re not alone. The original Super Mario Bros. instruction manual actually refers to the character as “Bowser, King of the Koopa.” He was also referred to as King Koopa in some of the earlier Super Mario animated programs (The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! and The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3), though the character was so physically different in those shows that you can really only gather so much evidence from them when it comes to this particular discussion. The same is true of the 1993 Super Mario Bros. movie in which Dennis Hopper portrays President Koopa.

Regardless, the basic idea seems easy enough to understand. There is a group of turtle-like creatures known as the Koopa (the NES manual for Super Mario Bros. identifies Koopa Troopa and Koopa Paratroopa as two types of Koopa soldiers), and, as their leader, “Bowser” is the “King of the Koopa.” In fact, here’s what Miyamoto has to say about the origins of the character’s physical design:

“Since Bowser was in the turtle family together with the Koopa Troopas, we began to see similar lines between the two, so we copied those as faithfully as possible and move on to the next illustration. I started congratulating myself, saying, ‘Wow, I can really make Bowser look cool now!'”

Anecdotally, I can tell you that I remember referring to Bowser as King Koopa fairly often when I was younger. I suppose the basic idea was that the character’s name was Bowser and his title was King Koopa. It all seemed pretty obvious, and, at that time, I certainly didn’t know Bowser wasn’t the character’s original name.

Before you put too much stock into the idea that Bowser is simply the “Koopa King,” though, remember that Bowser’s original name in Japan was Kuppa/Koopa. So…was he referred to as Kuppa, King of the Koopas, or Koopa, King of the Koopas in Japan? Well, no, actually, but that’s because the Koopa weren’t originally called Koopa in Japan.

Read more How Old is Mario? The Many Mysteries and Myths of the Character’s Age By 15 SNES Games That Were Way Ahead of Their Time By The Koopa Are Not What They Seem

Yes, as if the story of Bowser’s name wasn’t complicated enough, we also have to address the fact that that the “Koopa” Bowser is supposedly king of weren’t originally known as Koopa. In fact, their original name was “Nokonoko.” That name is based on the same Japanese word, which can be used to refer to someone or something that walks slowly and without purpose. I suspect “ambling” would probably be the closest English term, but anyone with more experience with both languages may be able to offer a better alternative.

So why didn’t the Super Mario team just keep the name Nokonoko when translating the game for international audiences? Well, there doesn’t seem to be any official information available regarding the thought process at that time, though it’s easy enough to make some educated guesses.

After all, many games that originated from Japan at that time lost many references to specific Japanese words, customs, and folklore during the translation process. So, it was likely determined that an enemy named after a specific Japanese word may be confusing for anyone who doesn’t speak Japanese. As for the name “Koopa,” it honestly just seems like the translators decided to apply Kuppa/Koopa’s name to the enemies he was supposedly the boss of. That also allowed them to roll with the always satisfying name “Koopa Troopa.” That, or there was simply an error during the translation process that yielded the same result.

While that specific theory is largely speculative, it does make a lot of sense. The team likely wanted to change the name Nonochoko first, were inspired by the name Kuppa/Koopa, and realized that they would need to change Koopa’s name after altering the name of his minions. From there, it was really just a simple matter of coming up with the name Bowser as a replacement.

So where did the name Bowser come from? Well, the funniest thing about this whole story is that nobody seems to know the exact origins of one of the most famous names in video game history.

Why Is Bowser Named Bowser?

While we know that Bowser is named Bowser in many countries outside of Japan, the specific origins of the name Bowser are still a bit of a mystery. Somewhere along the line, somebody decided that should be the character’s name. Who that somebody was and how they landed on that name are both fascinating questions that we seem to lack definitive answers to.

Try as I might, I can’t find any real-life origins of the name Bowser that make sense for that character. The surname Bowser can refer to the informal Norman greetings of “good sir” or “fine sir,” but that doesn’t seem to fit the Bowser we know unless the name was being used ironically. There were a couple of vaguely famous people named Bowser that may have been known to the developers at that time, but nobody so famous that they would have been obvious candidates for the source of the name.

Actually, one of the most fascinating theories I’ve heard regarding the name is that it may have been a reference to the fact that Bowser was a particularly popular pet name at that time and that Koopa’s spiked bracelets and general looks reminded someone of a large pet. There’s also a type of tanker called a bowser, which could help explain how someone came to associate the name with something large.

It’s also possible that one of the original candidates for Kuppa/Koopa’s name (Bibimbap) may offer an explanation for Bowser’s origins. Maybe someone liked that “B” sound and decided to come up with a name that featured it. If Miyamoto was involved with the renaming process at all, it would make sense that he may have shared the story of that alternate handle only to find that it gave someone on the translation team an idea. For all we know, the name Bowser may have been Miyamoto’s idea in the first place. Again, we weirdly don’t know a lot about the story of the renaming process.

Even if you allow yourself to just accept that somebody came up with the name Bowser, we’re still left with the question that really kicked this whole article off…

What Is Bowser’s Real Name?

For the most part, Mario’s main villain is still referred to as Koopa (and all appropriate variations of that name) in Japan and Bowser in the United States and many other Western countries (though variations of both names appear in different countries). While that would seem to suggest that Nintendo simply considers this a matter of regions and translations, there are a couple of pieces of evidence that indicate that is not necessarily the case.

For instance, Super Mario Sunshine (which uses English voice acting in all regions) only refers to the character as Bowser. Miyamoto has also referred to the character as Bowser in interviews and when having a little fun with Doug Bowser’s (the current president of Nintendo of America) coincidental name. Some of those references could be attributed to the simple need to translate those interviews for audiences familiar with the Bowser name, but Nintendo seems to be pretty much ok with everybody referring to the character as Bowser.

Actually, the closest thing I can find to a generally accepted name for the character is “Bowser Koopa” or “King Bowser Koopa.” That handle actually makes a lot of sense as it references the Koopa name, features the Bowser name, and stays true to the character’s origins and title. While variations of that name will still appear, this doesn’t seem to be a “Princess Peach Toadstool” situation where Nintendo is trying to course-correct the Super Mario mythology in order to give a character a name that acknowledges previous translations. They seem to have genuinely embraced both Bowser and Koopa long ago and have found ways to make both names (mostly) work.

The post Super Mario: The Strange Origins of Bowser’s Real Name appeared first on Den of Geek.

- John Saavedra
How NVIDIA Reflex Offers the Best Way to Play Battle Royale Games

This article is brought to you by NVIDIA.

“Honestly, it helps pretty much any game that requires responsiveness,” says Seth Schneider, Senior Product Manager at NVIDIA. We’re discussing the clever wizardry behind Reflex, the company’s solution to the perpetual problem of local latency which, in competitive shooters, can be a matter of (virtual) life and death.

When you hear the word “latency” you probably think of ping — the number of milliseconds between you and the server in a multiplayer game, which tells you how smooth your connection is. The higher the number, the longer it’s taking data to travel to and from the server, and the worse the game is performing. 

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But that’s only half the equation: the other is how quickly your input — tapping the spacebar, or clicking the mouse — reaches the game. With Reflex, NVIDIA has optimized this to the nth degree, refining every part of the journey from input to the action taken on screen, and reducing the response time by massive amounts. 

In layman’s terms, the click of your mouse will register in-game faster, meaning you may get that headshot in before the enemy does. It essentially means your input matches your reflexes and there’s next-to-no bottleneck.

“I’d say a quote-unquote ‘worst case Reflex integration’ is like a 20 to 25% reduction in latency,” Schneider says. “Really, really good ones that we see are even above 50%, they’ll be 60 to even 65% latency reduction, which is phenomenal.” 

It’s hard to overstate what an astonishing technical achievement this is. To put things into perspective, these are all the steps in the process that stand between your off-screen actions being reflected in game:

NVIDIA System Latency

“We’re trying to ‘just in time’ all the work,” explains Schneider. “We don’t want your inputs to be stalled anywhere in the pipeline before they get to your display. That means no extra time in the CPU, no extra time in the GPU, no extra time in the display.”

Take Fortnite, as an example. Schneider says running on a RTX 3050 at 1440p, you’d expect between 60 and 80fps at “pretty high” detail settings. At that level, you’d also expect latency of around 60 milliseconds. “It feels a little squishy, a little floppy,” he says. 

A driver based solution can help cut off 10 milliseconds or so, but with Reflex, you’re looking at potentially halving that again. “We take off the CPU side, which is going to reduce us down to about 30 and maybe even 25 milliseconds.”

The benefits here should be obvious, but even if you’re shrugging and muttering that you’ve never noticed a problem, you should take note, because the higher the input latency, the less consistent it is. 

“So while you can compensate to an extent, you can only do so much at higher latency just because you have these 20 millisecond swings that completely throw off your timing,” he explains. “At some point, you’ve got to bring it down to be able to really perform your best.”

That should be music to the ears of aspiring pro esports players, where milliseconds can mean the difference between huge prizes and going home empty handed. In short, Reflex makes pro setups even more professional without getting bogged down in the weeds of software optimization which — spoiler — Schneider says have mixed results anyway.

“There is a lot of misinformation out there,” he says, pointing to mythical registry tweaks and other software hacks which people swear by in certain corners of the internet. “But latency’s complicated so if you reduce it in one spot, it increases it in another because it’s a pipeline. And without having a full view of system latency, you’re kind of optimizing blind.” 

NVIDIA, on the other hand, sees all of it. “We’re the perfect people to do this, because we have pieces in every portion of the pipeline, so we can make sure it is the lowest latency possible,” he explains. 

Pros who want to see the results of the secret sauce rather than just feeling it can: a compatible monitor and/or mouse will show the latency in real time. But everyone will benefit, whether the stats are reported in real time or not.

Theory and Practice

Reflex technology is already enabled in eight of the top 10 shooters available, including Fortnite, Overwatch, Apex Legends, Destiny 2, Rainbow Six Siege, Valorant, and Call of Duty: Warzone. For the purposes of seeing for myself, I booted up Fortnite on a state-of-the-art gaming laptop supplied by NVIDIA featuring the company’s RTX 3080 mobile chipset, alongside an Intel Core i7 10870H processor, 16GB RAM, and a super-fast 1TB NVMe SSD.

Before running this test, I’d never played Fortnite, so I was fully expecting to be taught a lesson in competitive first-person shooters by people much younger than myself. In other words, I needed every competitive advantage I could get. 

I started off with NVIDIA Reflex disabled to give myself a general feel for the difference and it was, it’s fair to say, a pretty underwhelming debut. I did manage a handful of kills by playing Fortnite like it was Hunt: Showdown and sneaking around in fear of my mortality, but it wasn’t exactly getting into the spirit of the colorful world of Battle Royale Island.

I then flicked Reflex on in the settings and instantly won. I won with 13 kills and was the last one standing in No-build Battle Royale mode.

Fortnite No Build Victory Royale

Now I encourage you not to look too long at that picture, because the 23% accuracy rate could certainly be improved and no doubt I was on Fortnite’s nursery slopes. But all the same, NVIDIA Reflex definitely helped. 

It helped when someone got the drop on me early on and, out of bullets, I had to take them down with a melee weapon. Or when I found a sniper rifle and was able to time my headshots to perfection from a safe and cowardly distance. 

And it helped when it was just me and one other player left standing: in a game of fine margins like Fortnite, every little advantage helps, and it’s no exaggeration to say that the millisecond advantages Reflex gave me could well have swung that final dual in my favor. If my noble opponent had been a split second quicker on the draw, it could have been my head exploding like an overripe watermelon instead of theirs. I then went on to win a second time, albeit with just the 11 kills this time: still, a KDA of 27 is something I will brag about for some time to come.

Flush with victory I turned to Call of Duty: Warzone, which, alas, brought me back down to Earth with a thud. I got a couple of kills where Reflex likely gave me the edge, but it would be an exaggeration to say it went “well.”  

That said, I can definitely credit Reflex with an assist in the Gulag where you go after you’ve died for the first time in a match. There, you’re paired off against another downed fighter in a one-on-one fight for a chance to re-join the game, and when I managed to win those, Reflex certainly played its part, allowing me to get my shots out the second I saw my enemy’s face.

While Reflex has been enabled for all GeForce cards from the GTX 900 and up, it works best on the latest RTX 30-series hardware. “The absolute latency is even lower with the higher-end GPUs,” Schneider confirms. “As frame rates increase, the penalty you get from queuing is less,” he explains. In other words, the improvement you get in lower-end cards may be a bigger percentage improvement, but that’s because it’s starting from higher latency levels. The RTX 30 series remains the pro gold standard, both for graphical fidelity and ultra-low latency.

Of course, reduced latency isn’t just for aspiring professionals. “I’ve played a bunch of Elden Ring lately and even though there is a large amount of animation delay in that game, the timings that you need to be able to roll dodge effectively requires lower latency,” Schneider says. “Latency’s important for everything.”

The post How NVIDIA Reflex Offers the Best Way to Play Battle Royale Games appeared first on Den of Geek.

- Ivan Huang

Wondering when your favorite shows are coming back and what new series you can look forward to? We’ve got you covered with the Den of Geek 2022 TV Premiere Dates Calendar, where we keep track of TV series premiere dates, return dates, and more for the year and beyond. 

We’ll continue to update this page weekly as networks announce dates. A lot of these shows we’ll be watching or covering, so be sure to follow along with us! 

Please note that all times are EST. 

Note: This are U.S. releases. For upcoming British releases, head on over here.

DATESHOWNETWORKWednesday, May 25NOVA: Ice Age Footprints (9:00 p.m.)PBSWednesday, May 25Somebody Feed PhilNetflixWednesday, May 25Expedition Unknown (8:00 p.m.)Discovery ChannelWednesday, May 25Expedition X (9:00 p.m.)Discovery ChannelThursday, May 26Pokémon Master Journeys: The Series: Part 3NetflixThursday, May 26That Damn Michael CheHBO MaxThursday, May 26Tig n’ SeekHBO MaxThursday, May 26The DreamersSundance NowThursday, May 26Fight or FlightDiscovery+Thursday, May 26Mountain TrailsDiscovery+Thursday, May 26Accused: Guilty or Innocent? (9:00 p.m.)A&EThursday, May 26Crimes Gone Viral (9:00 p.m.)IDThursday, May 26Alone (9:00 p.m.)History ChannelThursday, May 26Kings of Pain (10:30 p.m.)History ChannelFriday, May 27Obi-Wan KenobiDisney+Friday, May 27Stranger ThingsNetflixFriday, May 27Kick Like TaylaPrime VideoFriday, May 27ShoresyHuluFriday, May 27Great Performances: Keeping Company with Sondheim (9:00 p.m.)PBSFriday, May 27HelpstersApple TV+Sunday, May 29American Monster (9:00 p.m.)IDMonday, May 30Norm Macdonald: Nothing SpecialNetflixMonday, May 30Mighty Little Bheem: I Love Taj MahalNetflixMonday, May 30Biography: Bobby Brown (8:00 p.m.)A&EMonday, May 30Life Below Zero: First Alaskans (8:00 p.m.)National GeographicMonday, May 30Theodore Roosevelt (8:00 p.m.)HistoryMonday, May 30The American Presidency with Bill Clinton (10:00 p.m.)HistoryMonday, May 30Origins of Hip Hop (10:00 p.m.)A&ETuesday, May 31Tom Swift (9:00 p.m.)The CWTuesday, May 31Rising Against Asian Hate: One Day in March (9:00 p.m.)PBSTuesday, May 31Bobby Brown: Every Little Step (10:00 p.m.)A&ETuesday, May 31Chopped: Desperately Seeking Sous ChefFood NetworkTuesday, May 31PistolHuluTuesday, May 31Black Patriots: Buffalo Soldiers (10:30 p.m.)HistoryWednesday, June 1Trixie MotelDiscovery+Wednesday, June 1Generation DragDiscovery+Wednesday, June 1The Real Housewives of Dubai (9:00 p.m.)BravoThursday, June 2BorgenNetflixThursday, June 2The Orville: New HorizonsHuluThursday, June 2The Croods: Family TreeHuluThursday, June 2Coroner (9:00 p.m.)The CWThursday, June 2Her Majesty The Queen: A Gayle King Special (10:00 p.m.)CBSThursday, June 2This Is Going To HurtAMCThursday, June 2The Book of QueerDiscovery+Friday, June 3PhysicalApple TV+Friday, June 3The BoysPrime VideoFriday, June 3P-Valley (9:00 p.m.)StarzFriday, June 3The Villains of Valley View (8:00 p.m.)Disney ChannelFriday, June 3Ultra Violet & Black Scorpion (9:00 p.m.)Disney ChannelFriday, June 3American Masters: Joe Papp in Five Acts (9:00 p.m.)PBSSunday, June 5The Great Food Truck Race (9:00 p.m.)Food NetworkMonday, June 6Action PackNetflixMonday, June 6MaggieHuluMonday, June 6London KillsAcornTVMonday, June 6Roswell, New Mexico (8:00 p.m.)The CWMonday, June 6In the Dark (9:00 p.m.)The CWMonday, June 6American Ninja Warrior (8:00 p.m.)NBCMonday, June 6Seeking Sister Wife (10:00 p.m.)TLCMonday, June 6People Magazine Investigates (10:00 p.m.)IDMonday, June 6Irma VepHBOTuesday, June 7All Rise (8:00 p.m.)OWNWednesday, June 8The Janes (9:00 p.m.)HBOWednesday, June 8Ms. MarvelDisney+Wednesday, June 8Baby FeverNetflixWednesday, June 8Hungry for AnswersDiscovery+Thursday, June 9Stand Out: An LGBTQ+ CelebrationNetflixThursday, June 9Queer as FolkPeacockThursday, June 9Finding AmeliaDiscovery+Friday, June 10For All MankindApple TV+Friday, June 10Lovely Little FarmApple TV+Friday, June 10Peaky BlindersNetflixFriday, June 10First KillNetflixFriday, June 10FairfaxPrime VideoSunday, June 12EvilParamount+Sunday, June 12Dark WindsAMC+Sunday, June 1275th Annual Tony Awards (7:00 p.m.)CBSSunday, June 12The Booze, Bets and Sex That Built America (8:00 p.m.)HistorySunday, June 12Becoming Elizabeth (9:00 p.m.)StarzMonday, June 13Pete Davidson Presents: The Best FriendsNetflixMonday, June 13Digital Addiction (10:00 p.m.)A&ETuesday, June 14Dateline: The Last DayPeacockTuesday, June 14Dark Side of the ’90s (9:00 p.m.)Vice TVWednesday, June 15Love, VictorHuluWednesday, June 15Dear Pony: Keep This Between Us (10:00 p.m.)FreeformWednesday, June 15God’s Favorite IdiotNetflixWednesday, June 15Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron LegendNetflixWednesday, June 15MaldivesNetflixWednesday, June 15Family RebootDisney+Thursday, June 16Dead End: Paranormal ParkNetflixThursday, June 16Sing, Dance, Act: Kabuki Featuring Toma IkutaNetflixThursday, June 16Snoop Dogg’s F*cn Around Comedy SpecialNetflixThursday, June 16Rutherford FallsPeacockThursday, June 16PlayersParamount+Thursday, June 16Impractical Jokers (10:00 p.m.)truTVThursday, June 16The Old Man (10:00 p.m.)FXFriday, June 17You Don’t Know MeNetflixFriday, June 17The LakePrime VideoFriday, June 17The Summer I Turned PrettyPrime VideoFriday, June 17Great Performances at the Met, Rigoletto (9:00 p.m.)PBSFriday, June 17HomeApple TV+Saturday, June 18SprigganNetflixSaturday, June 18After Jackie (8:00 p.m.)History ChannelSaturday, June 18Suitcase Killer: The Melanie McGuire Story (8:00 p.m.)LifetimeSunday, June 19Hotel Portofino (8:00 p.m.)PBSSunday, June 19Endeavour (9:00 p.m.)PBSSunday, June 19The Black Pack: Excellence (8:00 p.m.)The CWSunday, June 19Brandon Leake: A Family Affair (9:00 p.m.)The CWSunday, June 19Animal Kingdom (9:00 p.m.)TNTTuesday, June 21The Future of…NetflixTuesday, June 21Motherland: Fort Salem (10:00 p.m.)FreeformWednesday, June 22The Umbrella AcademyNetflixWednesday, June 22Wellington Paranormal (9:00 p.m.)The CWThursday, June 23The BearHuluThursday, June 23The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip: Ex-Wives ClubPeacockThursday, June 23Southern Charm (9:00 p.m.)BravoThursday, June 23Austin Dillon’s Life in the Fast Lane (9:30 p.m.)USA NetworkFriday, June 24Money Heist: Korea — Joint Economic AreaNetflixFriday, June 24The One That Got AwayPrime VideoFriday, June 24ChloePrime VideoFriday, June 24LootApple TV+Friday, June 24Hello Jack! The Kindness ShowApple TV+Friday, June 24Would It Kill You to Laugh?PeacockSunday June 26Disney’s Summer Magic Quest (7:00 p.m.)Disney ChannelSunday June 26The Chi (9:00 p.m.)ShowtimeSunday June 26WestworldHBOMonday, June 27The SplitBBC AmericaMonday, June 27Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness (9:00 p.m.)PBSTuesday, June 28Only Murders in the BuildingHuluWednesday, July 29BaymaxDisney+Wednesday, July 29The UpshawsNetflixWednesday, July 29DecoupledNetflixThursday, June 30Devils (8:00 p.m.)The CWFriday, July 1Stranger ThingsNetflixFriday, July 1The Terminal ListPrime VideoTuesday, July 5America Outdoors with Baratunde Thurston (9:00 p.m.)PBSWednesday, July 6The Green Planet (8:00 p.m.)PBSWednesday, July 6Control ZNetflixWednesday, July 6MaggieHuluThursday, July 7Press Your Luck (8:00 p.m.)ABCThursday, July 7Generation Gap (9:00 p.m.)ABCThursday, July 7Good Trouble (10:00 p.m.)FreeformThursday, July 7MoonhavenAMC+Friday, July 8Boo, BitchNetflixFriday, July 8Trigger PointPeacockFriday, July 8Black BirdApple TV+Saturday, July 9Flowers in the Attic: The Origin (8:00 p.m.)LifetimeSaturday, July 9Say Yes to the Dress (8:00 p.m.)TLCSaturday, July 9Steal This House (9:00 p.m.)HGTVSunday, July 10Bridge and TunnelNetflixSunday, July 10Who Do You Think You Are? (7:00 p.m.)NBCSunday, July 10Celebrity Family Feud (8:00 p.m.)ABCSunday, July 10The Final Straw (9:00 p.m.)ABCSunday, July 10The $100,000 Pyramid (10:00 p.m.)ABCMonday, July 11Days of Our Lives: Beyond SalemPeacockMonday, July 11The Bachelorette (8:00 p.m.)ABCMonday, July 11Better Call Saul (9:00 p.m.)AMCMonday, July 11Chad (10:00 p.m.)TBSTuesday, July 12What We Do in the Shadows (10:00 p.m.)FXWednesday, July 13Rehab Addict Lake House Rescue (9:00 p.m.)HGTVWednesday, July 13Dr. Pimple Popper (9:00 p.m.)TLCWednesday, July 13Everything’s Trash (10:00 p.m.)FreeformWednesday, July 13Solar OppositesHuluThursday, July 14Resident EvilNetflixThursday, July 14Victoria’s Secret: Angels and DemonsHuluFriday, July 15Zombies 3Disney+Sunday, July 17Blood & TreasureParamount+Wednesday, July 20Virgin RiverNetflixWednesday, July 20Grown-ish (10:00 p.m.)FreeformThursday, July 21American Horror StoriesHuluThursday, July 21Jurassic World: Camp CretaceousNetflixFriday, July 22TryingApple TV+Friday, July 22Best Foot ForwardApple TV+Wednesday, July 27High School Musical: The Musical: The SeriesDisney+Wednesday, July 27Light & MagicDisney+Friday, July 29Amber BrownApple TV+Sunday, July 31City on a Hill (10:00 p.m.)ShowtimeMonday, August 1Flip to A Million (9:00 p.m.)HGTVWednesday, August 3Reservation DogsHuluTuesday, August 9Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Detroit Lions (10:00 p.m.)HBOFriday, August 12Never Have I EverNetflixFriday, August 12This FoolHuluFriday, August 12Lucy’s SchoolApple TV+Wednesday, August 17She-Hulk: Attorney at LawDisney+Thursday, August 18Dragons: The Nine RealmsHuluFriday, August 19Surfside GirlsApple TV+Sunday, August 21House of the DragonHBOWednesday, August 24MoNetflixWednesday, August 24Welcome to Wrexham (10:00 p.m.)FXThursday, August 25Little Demon (10:00 p.m.)FXXTuesday, August 30The PatientHuluFriday, September 2The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of PowerPrime VideoFriday, September 2Life by EllaApple TV+Friday, September 9Cobra KaiNetflixMonday, September 1274th Emmy Awards (8:00 p.m.)NBCSunday, September 18The U.S. and the Holocaust (8:00 p.m.)PBSSunday, November 13Tulsa KingParamount+Sunday, November 13YellowstoneParamount+

If we’ve forgotten a show, feel free to drop a reminder in the comment section below!

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The post TV Premiere Dates: 2022 Calendar appeared first on Den of Geek.

- Alec Bojalad
Did Bob Odenkirk Accidentally Spoil the Better Call Saul Midseason Finale?

This article contains major spoilers for Better Call Saul season 6 episode 7.

Better Call Saul just aired one of the most shocking episodes of its entire run. “Plan and Execution,” the midseason finale of the show’s sixth and final season, features a truly shocking character death.

After Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) and Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) thoroughly ruined his life with their cruelest con yet, soon-to-be-former lawyer Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) pays them a visit to dress them down. The scene is already an emotionally fraught one, with Howard finally telling Jimmy and Kim everything he thinks about them and accurately pegging them as psychopaths who get off on other people’s misery. Then, however, everything suddenly goes to 11.

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Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton) emerges from the shadows, his arrival foretold by a flickering candle, and announces he would like to speak to his lawyer, Saul Goodman. Jimmy and Kim urge Howard to run away from this dangerous situation but before Howard can even take a step, Lalo executes him with a silenced pistol shot to the head.

The scene is absolute unmooring and without precedent in Better Call Saul‘s history. Howard is firmly a part of the show’s legal world while Lalo is entrenched in the cartel world. Those two disparate threads rarely ever even meet outside of Saul Goodman’s occasional dalliance with the darkness. It’s a moment that absolutely no one could have reasonably seen coming. And yet, many people did. That’s because in December of last year, Bob Odenkirk made a little whoopsy daisy.

Flash back to Dec. 7, 2021 with us if you will. It’s the 77th day of fall, with winter 14 days away. It’s also relatively slow news day. Warner Bros. officially announces that Collin Farrell will headline his own Penguin series for HBO Max and Outer Banks is picked up for season 3 at Netflix. Meanwhile, over on Bob Odenkirk’s Twitter feed, the actor wants to commemorate the birthday of his dear friend and co-star Patrick Fabian. So he tweets out the following image:

Happy birthday pally! pic.twitter.com/hfMuhl911t

— Mr. Bob Odenkirk (@mrbobodenkirk) December 8, 2021

Ah, that’s sweet. Just two guys being dudes. Wait a minute though…what’s going on with Patrick Fabian’s hair? COMPUTER, ENHANCE!

Well, I’ll be damned if that doesn’t look like bloody makeup applied to Patrick’s head, almost as if his character has a reason to have a bullet exit wound on his dome. Many Twitter users pointed out the makeup and wondered if it meant Howard wasn’t long for this world. Those users were proven right when “Plan and Execution” aired and proven even more right yesterday when Odenkirk owned up to the snafu.

Well the truth can be told. I screwed up. I did not know you could see a little bit of make up that told story… my bad https://t.co/vgtrqh1Tde

— Mr. Bob Odenkirk (@mrbobodenkirk) May 24, 2022

Yes, Bob Odenkirk accidentally spoiled the Better Call Saul season 6 midseason finale more than five months prior to the episode aired. Still, please don’t consider the existence of this article as an excuse to shame the man. Mistakes happen and to his credit, he handled the inadvertent spoiler-bomb quite well afterward. Odenkirk didn’t delete the tweet with the revealing photo, which would have been a dead giveaway that viewers were on to something. He also didn’t engage with replies to the photo in any way, letting users talk themselves into and then out of the notion that it was a spoiler.

The blood on Fabian’s head was so noticeable that one could be forgiven that the Better Call Saul team was pulling off an elaborate troll job by applying blood just to release one misleading photo. If only that were the reality, then Howard may have lived to see another day.

Better Call Saul season 6 part 2 premieres Monday, July 11 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.

The post Did Bob Odenkirk Accidentally Spoil the Better Call Saul Midseason Finale? appeared first on Den of Geek.

- Eric Vespe
McKenna Grace Announced The Release Of The Bad Seed Returns Has Been Delayed Following Uvalde Shooting

Variety is reporting that Lifetime is pushing the release of "The Bad Seed Returns" in the wake of the horrific school shooting in Uvalde, TX that has claimed the lives of 19 children and 2 adults. 

"The Bad Seed" originated as a novel that was then adapted as a stage play and subsequently a film in 1956 starring Patty McCormack as a precocious pig-tailed little girl who also happened to be a murderous sociopath. In 2018, Lifetime remade that movie with McKenna Grace as the title character and Rob Lowe as her father. It was successful enough to give us a sequel following the now-teenage girl.

"The Bad Seed Returns" was slated to air on Lifetime this coming Memorial Day, but the network, with the support of its star, co-writer, and producer, has decided to delay the release. The decision was unanimously made so as not to offend the families of the victims of the real-life tragedy that is still playing out in Texas.

This fictional series isn't about a gunman, but the killer at Uvalde was a disturbed teenager so one can see why the producers would want to move their project out of respect for those suffering both directly and indirectly following the shooting. In pushing to later in 2022, Lifetime acknowledges that it's taking them out of contention for the 2022 Emmys, but also recognizes that awards are the last thing any of us need to be concerned about at this moment.

McKenna Grace Spoke About The Decision

Star McKenna Grace not only supports the decision, but she was also instrumental in the push. She released a heartfelt statement on Twitter announcing the decision and adding the personal perspective of someone who has grown up in the violent reality school kids face these days. Grace was only in the 1st Grade when Sandy Hook happened and had first-hand experience with the security drills that have become necessary for today's children. She also made sure to honor the victims of the shooting by including images of the young faces whose lives were cut short.

In the wake of the recent tragedy in my home state of Texas, we have decided to delay the release of “The Bad Seed Returns”. @lifetimetv & everyone involved are in agreement. #Uvalde#Buffalo#LagunaWoods pic.twitter.com/5m1ms1OpXF

— Mckenna Grace (@MckennaGraceful) May 25, 2022

Fifteen-year-old Grace isn't just the star of this film, but also executive producer and co-writer of the script, along with her father Ross Burge. The move is respectful and the right thing to do in this shocking and terrible moment.

Here's her full statement:

In the wake of the recent tragedy in my home state of Texas, we have decided to delay the release of "The Bad Seed Returns". Lifetime and everyone involved are in agreement. I don't feel comfortable promoting the film this week and we don't think Monday is the right time to release it.I was in 1st grade when Sandy Hook happened ... and it feels like not much has changed since then. I remember my parents teaching me emergency action plans for going to church or the movies.If you have power, change something. If you have the means, donate to the victim's families of any of the recent shootings. I feel sick and heartbroken over these tragedies. www.jedcares.org is a great resource if you are feeling anxious or depressed. If you're feeling helpless or like you want to do something but don't know where to start, I found everytown.org to be really informational. -MG

Other Hollywood productions have shown similar sensitivity by moving promotions or delaying releases. Titles like "FBI" and "The Orville" have made sure to step out of the spotlight and put the focus on the grieving community in Texas.

No date has been given for the debut of "The Bad Seed Returns," only that it'll be sometime later this year.

Read this next: The 14 Best Film Acting Debuts Of All Time

The post McKenna Grace Announced The Release Of The Bad Seed Returns Has Been Delayed Following Uvalde Shooting appeared first on /Film.

- Jeremy Smith
Rachel Morrison's Boxing Drama Flint Strong Adds Brian Tyree Henry, Resumes Filming After A Two-Year Gap

Two years ago, cinematographer Rachel Morrison began shooting her directorial debut, "Flint Strong" — a boxing drama starring Ryan Destiny, Oluniké Adeliye, and Ice Cube — for Universal Pictures. Two days into principal photography, the pandemic forced the project to shut down. While Universal would eventually resume production on most of its greenlit films, they chose not to continue with "Flint Strong."

The film appeared to be an unfortunate casualty of an unforeseen crisis, but producers Michael De Luca and Elisha Holmes, who left Universal for MGM, kept the faith. And though De Luca is currently on his way out at MGM, he made sure Morrison's film was a go before he left the studio. The two-year delay forced Ice Cube to drop out, but according to The Hollywood Reporter, they just landed a pretty spiffy replacement in Brian Tyree Henry.

Getting Up Off The Canvas

Based on Zackary Canepari and Drea Cooper's documentary "T-Rex: Her Fight For Gold," "Flint Strong" centers on Claressa "T-Rex" Shields (Destiny), who overcame a whole mess of obstacles on the way to winning the first Olympic gold medal for women's middleweight boxing. Henry has been cast as Jason Crutchfield, Shields' trainer who made ends meet as a cable installer. Adeliye will play Shields' mother. Judy Greer had been cast in a "key role" when the film was set up at Universal; it is unclear whether she is still attached.

It is, however, very clear that "Flint Strong" is lousy with potential. The involvement of Morrison, one of the best directors of photography on the planet, is exciting enough. Her brilliant work on Dee Rees' "Mudbound" earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography, and you no doubt dug her lensing on Ryan Coogler's "Black Panther." Add in Barry Jenkins (the maestro behind "Moonlight" and "If Beale Street Could Talk") as screenwriter and producer, and you've got a big ol' must-see (and an awards-season thoroughbred).

Jenkins is clearly elated to be involved. In a statement quoted by THR, he says, "Given the difficulties we've faced as a global community over the past two years, I salute Rachel for continuing the journey of bringing this wonderful story from Flint, Michigan to the big screen. Like our protagonist, Rachel Morrison is made of tough stuff, and we all look forward to supporting her and this tremendous cast in getting this film into the can and into a theater near you."

"Flint Strong" will resume production next week. We'll probably have to wait until 2023 for the finished product, but two years after that frustrating false start, I've a feeling the wait will be well worth it.

Read this next: 14 Sequels That Truly Didn't Need To Happen

The post Rachel Morrison's Boxing Drama Flint Strong Adds Brian Tyree Henry, Resumes Filming After A Two-Year Gap appeared first on /Film.

- Eric Vespe
How Microsoft Turning Down A Marvel Deal Led To PlayStation's Exclusive On The Spider-Man Games

The console wars have deeply divided gamers for as long as I've been around, and I've been around a long, long time. In recent years, Nintendo has been happy to be off on their own little island, doing what they do best and fostering their own IP while Sony and Microsoft duke it out for Next Gen console dominance. 

For the longest time, this battle was waged based on exclusivity, with PlayStation handily defeating Microsoft on titles you can only play on their system. Some of the best games of the last 10 years can only be found on PlayStation, namely "The Last of Us," "Uncharted," "God of War" and, yes, "Spider-Man."

When it comes to "Spider-Man" that wasn't always the case. In fact, a book released last year called "The Ultimate History of Video Games Vol. 2" by Steven L. Kent shed some light on how Sony PlayStation ended up with the license for "Spider-Man" — and it turns out Microsoft is kind of to blame. 

According to Vice President and Head of Marvel Games Jay Ong, Microsoft was the first place the company went after Marvel split from Activision, saying they needed to find a home with "a deep pool of talent, commitment to quality, and inexhaustibly deep pockets." They also needed to convince their new overlords that licensed games weren't all crappy and worthy of the kind of investment an IP like "Spider-Man" deserved.

Microsoft's Loss Was PlayStation's Gain

According to Ong, Microsoft took a look at Marvel's offer and turned their noses up, preferring to focus on their own IP and that opened the door wide open for Sony, who not only took the offer seriously, but brought in their big guns at Insomniac Games who were all beyond excited to take a stab at bringing "Spider-Man" to life.

Not only did they knock it out of the park, giving gamers the experience of swinging around New York City minus the whole being bitten by a genetically-altered spider part, but the game proved to be a massive success for PlayStation. "Marvel's Spider-Man" has sold over 20 million copies since it was released in 2018, and while we don't have up to date figures on its spin-off, "Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales" we do know that it sold 6.5 million copies within 8 months of its release.

So, yeah. Microsoft screwed up big time passing on this title. PlayStation has a full-on "Spider-Man" sequel in the works as well as a stand alone "Wolverine" game, which is almost guaranteed to print money for them.

It definitely feels like Microsoft has learned from their mistakes, especially with the news of them buying Bethesda and the very real possibility that huge titles like "Elder Scrolls" and "Fallout" will be Xbox exclusives. 

All the business BS and gaming politics aside, "Spider-Man" ended up right where it should have. Insomniac was the right company to bring ol' webhead to life, and no matter your console preference, you've got to acknowledge when a great game is a great game.

Read this next: Spider-Man Movies Ranked From Worst To Best

The post How Microsoft Turning Down a Marvel Deal Led to PlayStation's Exclusive On the Spider-Man Games appeared first on /Film.

- Kaylee Dugan
Sony Pictures Classics Lands New Movie From Triplets Of Belleville Director

If you're into animation, you've probably seen "The Triplets of Belleville," and if you're into the "Belleville," Sony Pictures Classic has both your back and your wallet. The production and distribution company has officially secured the rights to the "Belleville" writer and director Sylvain Chomet's latest film. So start planning your watch party (or take some time to catch up on Chomet's work), because you know this one is going to be a wild (and a sweet) ride. What else would you expect from Chomet?

Chomet's latest work is titled "The Magnificent Life of Marcel Pagnol," and as you can probably guess, it tells the story of the real life french novelist, playwright, and filmmaker Marcel Pagnol. The film, which is set in 1995, shows Pagnol's life at the age of 60 and follows Pagnol as he returns to his love of writing after producing some unsatisfactory plays, and begins working on a weekly column about his childhood. Tapping into those memories prompts a younger version of Marcel to spring into his world and together they bring Pagnol's most important memories to life. The movie will be produced by Aton Soumache, the founder and head of ON Classics, as well as Ashargin Poiré and Valérie Puech from What the Prod, Lilian Eche, Adrian Politowski, and Nicolas Pagnol from (where else?) Pagnol's Estate.

Sweet Nostalgia

Surprisingly, it doesn't seem like the movie was made using 3D animation, which Chomet seemed to be interested in exploring way back in 2010. Speaking on the larger themes of his film, Chomet said via Deadline, "'The Magnificent Life of Marcel Pagnol' is a film about the extraordinary history of cinema and the beginning of talking movies. Pagnol is the link between film, literature and theatre ... I am proud to be able to tell this extraordinary adventure, of which we are all heirs, and which Sony Pictures Classics as my partner will travel all over the world."

If you're thinking, "Oh man that sounds so sweet, I would like to watch it right now," I do unfortunately have some bad news for you. "The Magnificent Life of Marcel Pagnol" is still in production and isn't expected to be complete until 2024. And considering life and its many pitfalls, who knows how accurate that date will end up being. What I'm saying is, you're going to have to wait awhile for Chomet to complete his animation trilogy, which began with "Belleville" continued with "The Illusionist," and will finish with "Pagnol." That's okay though. Good things take time, and considering "The Illusionist" was released in 2010, what's another couple years?

Read this next: The Best Animated Film Of Each Decade

The post Sony Pictures Classics Lands New Movie From Triplets of Belleville Director appeared first on /Film.

- Jenna Busch
Here's Why Director Kate Herron Isn't Returning For Loki Season 2

The Disney+ series "Loki" gave us a whole lot of Tom Hiddleston (thank you) through a story about his character's redemption (well, one version of him, least). We watched him fall in love with himself in the form of Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) -- hey, this is Loki we're talking about here -- and we saw him try to solve the mystery of the Time Variance Authority, take down the system, and break open the multiverse. We also got a dose of Alligator Loki and Frog Thor, and if those two things don't satisfy you, I don't know what will. 

Heading the team was director Kate Herron, who gave us some stunning visuals and a whole lot of Lokis. (There are so very many of them to love!) The series was pivotal in setting up the multiversal issues that have become a recurring problem in Phase 4, and the concept of a multiversal war which might just be the next endgame of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. But Herron isn't coming back for the second season. At an Emmy event at the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles, Herron told Variety why she isn't returning: 

"I was on the show for like three years in total. I just felt like I poured everything into it. It's almost like a campfire story that every filmmaker kind of brings their take and their perspective. I just felt like I gave so much to this. I was like, 'You know what, I feel like this was my effort for 'Loki.' I felt like having someone new and with fresh eyes — that, for me, is what will make a good season."

Moving On From The Multiverse

Her comments make me sad, despite the fact that they also make complete sense. It's always interesting to see what a new director or writer or creative team brings to a series or a character that we love, but I really did adore what Herron did with "Loki." Still, this isn't dissimilar to what happens in the comics. Different writers and artists bring a different feel to properties we care about. They tell different stories visually, structurally, tonally, thematically ... the list goes on. Heck, we can even call season 1 the "Kate Herron run" as we do with comics. 

I can't imagine the pressure that comes along with directing a Marvel project. The shows might be even harder than the films, given the increased hours of content. Plus, "Loki" was one of the first Marvel Disney+ shows. Between that pressure and the pandemic, the secrecy behind the series, and, not to put too fine a point on it, the fans, it's a lot to take on. I know how I studied episodes, looking for every clue and Easter egg, like so many other fans. I can't imagine being the one responsible for spearheading all of that. 

Whatever Herron does next though, I'm here for it. The series was so beautifully shot, it gave us one of the best MCU pairings ever with Loki and Morbius (Owen Wilson), and despite the ending being a clear set-up for other things, I loved almost everything about this series. I cannot wait to see what she takes on next. 

There is no release date yet for "Loki" season 2.

Read this next: Superman Movies Ranked From Worst To Best

The post Here's Why Director Kate Herron Isn't Returning for Loki Season 2 appeared first on /Film.

- Jenna Busch
Austin Butler Has Begun Knife Training For Dune 2, But When Will He Begin Speedo Training?

As you may have heard, Austin Butler, the star of the upcoming Baz Luhrmann film "Elvis," has been cast as Feyd-Rautha in Denis Villeneuve's "Dune: Part Two." According to The New York Times (via ScreenRant), Butler has begun knife training for the role of Feyd-Rautha, a role which was played by Sting in the David Lynch film back in 1984. If you aren't familiar with that wild ride of a film or with the Frank Herbert novels the movies are based on, Feyd-Rautha is the nephew of Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård). Villeneuve is splitting the first novel into two parts, with Feyd-Rautha appearing in the upcoming film. 

If you've seen the 1984 version of the story, you know there is a big knife fight between the story's protagonist, Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and Feyd-Rautha, but you may have forgotten it because you were too distracted by the speedo that Sting is wearing. This is understandable. It is rather ... I was going to write "spectacular," but I think the word I'm really looking for is "perplexing." Or maybe "uncomfortable" -- maybe not literally uncomfortable for him on the set, but uncomfortable for anyone watching. Let me refresh your memory.

That Specific Speedo Looks Like It Might Take As Much Training As Knife Fighting

I don't know if there is a back to that thing, or if it was glued on. I probably blocked it from my memory. Don't get me wrong: Sting was -- and is -- a very attractive person, but that ... hood ornament-looking pair of underpants not only seems like it would be uncomfortable, but it defies gravity. Perhaps Butler should start training to wear that? 

There is a big knife fight that will likely be happening in "Dune: Part Two," as there is in the Lynch film and the book, and there was already a knife fight with Paul in "Dune: Part One," so blade-to-blade battles are a big part of the story. Fans may have wanted Barry Keoghan for the role of Feyd-Rautha, but that "Elvis" trailer and Butler's turn as Tex in "Once Upon A Time In Hollywood" prove Butler has the acting chops. Can he pull this off? I mean, keep it on? (There is absolutely no official word about whether or not this version of Feyd-Rautha will wear a speedo, but one never knows.)

Butler (and maybe his speedo) will join Chalamet, Zendaya, Florence Pugh, Josh Brolin, Christopher Walken, Stellen Skarsgård, Javier Bardem, and Rebecca Ferguson in the cast of the upcoming film.

"Dune: Part Two" is set to release in theaters October 20, 2023.

Read this next: /Film's Top 10 Movies Of 2021

The post Austin Butler Has Begun Knife Training For Dune 2, But When Will He Begin Speedo Training? appeared first on /Film.

- Ryan Scott
'A Lot Of Puke' Is The Price You Pay For A Spot In Top Gun: Maverick

Much has changed in the movie business since the original "Top Gun" hit theaters in the summer of 1986. The special effects industry has taken gigantic leaps forward and, largely through the use of computer-generated visual effects, just about anything is possible. But when Tom Cruise decided to return for "Top Gun: Maverick" all these years later, he wasn't about to let the younger cast members get off easy. No, no, no. Instead, they were all put through the wringer and subjected to actual flights in actual military aircraft until they were, quite literally, sick.

Work Was, Quite Literally, Sickening For The Cast

Cruise is not only returning as Maverick in director Joseph Kosinski's long-awaited sequel but he serves as a producer on the film as well. As such, he had quite a bit of say-so in how things went. To that end, in an interview with Mirror, it was revealed that the "Mission: Impossible" star insisted that the young cast members were put through actual fighter pilot training for the "Top Gun" follow-up. As Glen Powell tells it, this resulted in some unpleasant side effects.

"There was a lot of puke during filming. Before shooting, Tom sent us on three months of training to get used to the g-force. [But] even with training, nothing prepares you for the intensity of flying in an F-18. We were all flying once a day and Tom was up there three times every day. But it didn't phase him at all. There we are, all being sick into bags, and he is taking everything in his stride. The guy is a machine."

Despite pushing 60, it appears that Cruise was able to handle all of the G-force just fine. Powell, who plays a new character named Jake 'Hangman' Seresin, on the other hand? Not so much. It's the cost of doing business though if you want to be in a big-budget blockbuster sequel to one of the biggest movies of the 80s, right alongside one of the most bankable movie stars in the world.

There Was (Mostly) No Drinking During Filming Either

One assumes that a movie about a group of elite military pilots might result in some partying during off-hours. Normally, that might be true but because of the physical demands this movie required, Cruise didn't want the cast drinking as to avoid hangovers that might get in the way of getting the job done. Miles Teller, who plays Bradley 'Rooster' Bradshaw, the son of Goose, explained that he actually could have used a drink or two after some of the intense days of work.

"There were days after a tough shoot I could have really used a couple of beers ... but you just don't want to be flying at those speeds hungover."

Teller did make one exception while attending a wedding during the production, though there may have been a bit of regret associated with that as Teller says, "The next day I had flight training in 100C heat. That was rough." Hangovers are rough in the best of times. Having to do military flight training whilst hungover? That's on another level.

Blockbuster Movies Are Serious Business, And Cruise Knows It

Much can be said of Tom Cruise, the man, as he is a complicated figure who has been one of the most famous people on the planet for decades now. What can not be called into question, however, is his downright insane devotion to the craft of moviemaking on every level. He takes this stuff very seriously and these accounts from the set of "Top Gun: Maverick" very much back that up. It's also worth saying that he's very much right to take this all so seriously as, when it really comes down to it, blockbuster filmmaking is a serious (and very expensive) business venture, at its core. The stakes are high.

Yes, filmmaking is also (or at least should also be) art but it's a very unique intersection of art and commerce that allows blockbuster movies to exist at all. This movie carries a reported $170 million production budget before marketing. That is absolutely no small thing and it all flows through Cruise, more or less. So, on some level, those of us who want to see blockbusters outside of superhero movies remain viable in the future should appreciate the dedication that Cruise has. On the one hand, it's just a movie but at the same time, a whole lot of money is at stake and, for that reason, it should be taken seriously. Even if that means some barf bags get filled along the way.

"Top Gun: Maverick" hits theaters on May 27, 2022.

Read this next: The Horror Movies We Can't Wait To See In 2022

The post 'A Lot Of Puke' Is The Price You Pay For A Spot In Top Gun: Maverick appeared first on /Film.

- Sandy Schaefer
Pairing Jason Statham With A Baby Was A Big Bet For The Fast 8 Crew

The "Fast & Furious" movies pride themselves on their absurdity, and 2017's "The Fate of the Furious" is no different. It's a film where, among other things, Vin Diesel's Dominic Toretto wins a race by driving a car backwards while it's on fire, the villain Cipher (Charlize Theron) hacks into the electronics systems of a fleet of cars and sends them raining down the side of a building, and the climax pits a bunch of vehicles against a nuclear submarine over a frozen body of water. And yet, there's an action scene in the third act that perhaps sillier than all that or anything else in the movie.

"The Fate of the Furious" sees Cipher — a white person with dreadlocks so you know she's pure evil — blackmail Dom into doing her bidding by kidnapping his ex-lover Elena (Elsa Pataky) and their infant son. Several twists and turns later, Cipher's had Elena killed, and Dom has recruited his former enemies, Deckard (Jason Statham) and Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), to sneak aboard Cipher's plane and rescue his child. In order to do that, however, Deckard has to punch, kick, and shoot his way through Cipher's crew, all while Dom's baby listens to "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)" on a pair of sound-canceling headphones, blissfully unaware of what's going on.

It is, as renowned film theorist André Bazin would've called it, "cinema."

All jokes aside, though, Statham's plane fight really is a wonderful scene in a movie full of amazingly outlandish moments. What makes it even better is that it was the baby playing Dom's son that posed the biggest challenge during filming.

Three Men And A Baby

For all its laughable set pieces, the dramatic portions of "The Fate of the Furious" are presented with a straight face and conviction. Vin Diesel infamously suggested the film could end up in the Oscar race prior to its release, and you can see he's earnestly going for the gold in the scenes where Dom squares off against Cipher in a game of emotional chess. It's why director F. Gary Gray was nervous while planning out the scene where Deckard Shaw rescues Dom's baby with the movie's stunt coordinator, J.J. Perry.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly in 2017, Gray said the trick was to make the sequence "satisfying" while also ensuring it "wouldn't challenge the tone of the movie too much." He added:

"There was a little more drama in 'Fast 8' than probably most of the 'Fast & Furious' franchise up until that point, and so I wanted to counter the drama with lighter moments and this sequence fit in that category. Then, the conversations not only with Jason, but with J.J. were, 'How do we survive the balancing act of making this feel fun, but also making sure it's not too reckless?' [Laughs]."

The other problem, of course, was the actual baby. "It's just the unknown. You can roll the cameras, but the baby's gonna do what the baby's gonna do, regardless of what you say," said Gray. In this regard, his biggest concern was the film's actors and stunt performers would pull off the scene perfectly, only for the baby to do something that messed up the best takes:

"We don't want to burn your actors and stuntmen out and burn a million takes on this acrobatic shootout. It's the unpredictability of what the baby would do."

Jason Statham, Master Comedian

Part of the reason the plane scene in "The Fate of the Furious" works as well as it does is F. Gary Gray and his team went out of their way to ensure it was (as Gray put it) "unique and not like every other action scene in the film." Also key to this moment is Jason Statham, who's rarely gotten to tap into his abilities as a comedic performer, save for his roles in the "Crank" movies and Paul Feig's great action-comedy "Spy" (and, to a lesser degree, when he's trading barbs in a Guy Ritchie flick).

In all those cases, Statham proved he's just as capable when it comes to physical comedy and delivering a well-timed joke as he is when he's kicking butt and taking names. Those skills came in extra-handy during the baby rescue/fight in "The Fate of the Furious," as Gray noted:

"A lot of people consider him the kick-ass guy, but he's a really funny and witty guy. As much as he kicks ass, there's a lot there in terms of being able to bring a smile to people's faces. We had so many movie stars in that movie and every star needed their moment. And that was a great moment for him. We talk about that: How can we make it great? How can we make it better? We know what the words are on the page, but how can we push the envelope? And, again, I think he delivered, [the baby] delivered, and our stunt coordinator J.J. Perry definitely delivered."

One only hopes the upcoming "Fast X" and its sequel are able to clear the high bar set by this scene when they resolve Deckard Shaw's storyline while delivering the long-awaited #JusticeforHan.

Read this next: The 18 Best Action Movie Actors Ranked

The post Pairing Jason Statham With a Baby Was a Big Bet For the Fast 8 Crew appeared first on /Film.

- BJ Colangelo
Mr. Malcolm's List Trailer: A Regency Era Romance To Soothe The Soul

London's most eligible bachelor is a man named Mr. Malcolm (Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù) who has yet to settle down because he's got a list of requirements for his bride-to-be, and as it stands, no woman has been able to check off all of his boxes. After Julia Thistlewaite (Zawe Ashton) is rejected for not being everything he wanted, she enlists her friend Selina Dalton (Freida Pinto) to pose as the perfect woman, with the intention of rejecting his advances once he's fallen in love to give him a taste of his own medicine. It's a lot like "John Tucker Must Die" but with more corsets, powdered wigs, poetic language, and set during the Regency era a la "Bridgerton."

Based on screenwriter Suzanne Allain's book of the same name, "Mr. Malcolm's List" is the feature directorial debut of Emma Holly Jones. It follows in the footsteps of films like "Emma," where a lush period piece feels injected with contemporary rom-com beats. As could be predicted by anyone who's watched films like "10 Things I Hate About You," "She's All That," and "Get Over It," or the classical texts they're based on, the more Selina spends time with Mr. Malcolm, the harder it becomes to keep up her charade.

Mr. Malcolm's List Trailer

"Love cannot be planned so carefully," we hear in the trailer. "It will stir things up a bit. That's part of its charm." As Mr. Malcolm and Selina learn more about one another, it becomes apparent that their feelings supersede any of their intended plans. Mr. Malcolm is not the heartless bachelor everyone believes him to be, he's just a handsome guy terrified he's going to fall in love with someone who will hurt him, so he's developed this list as a means to keep his heart protected. Knowing the truth, Selina is put in the impossible position to either pursue her growing feelings with Mr. Malcolm and come clean about the set-up, or stick to the plan by rejecting him and helping her friend enact his comeuppance for rejecting her. 

On that note, I love living in a world where Freida Pinto is poised as the "perfect woman." Hell yeah.

Oliver Jackson-Cohen ("The Invisible Man'), Ashley Park ("Girls5eva"), and Theo James ("The Time Traveler's Wife") help round out the cast of the film, which comes from Bleecker Street. It's a sincerely refreshing take on a Regency-era romance typically dominated by white performers. Producers for the film are Laura Rister, Laura Lewis, Katie Holly, and director Emma Holly Jones.

"Mr. Malcolm's List" dazzles into theaters on July 1, 2022.

Read this next: The Coen Brothers Movies Ranked Worst To Best

The post Mr. Malcolm's List Trailer: A Regency Era Romance to Soothe the Soul appeared first on /Film.

- Ryan Scott
Superhero Bits: New Green Lantern: Beware My Power Trailer, Chris Hemsworth's New MCU Role & More

(Superhero Bits is a collection of stories, updates, and videos about anything and everything inspired by the comics of Marvel, DC, and more. For comic book movies, TV shows, merchandise, events, and whatever catches our eye, this is the place to find anything that falls through the cracks.)

In this edition of Superhero Bits:

"Green Lantern: Beware My Power" gets a full trailer.

A 2023 comic book movie had a ridiculous amount of writers.

Chris Hemsworth has a new behind-the-scenes role in "Thor: Love and Thunder."

An upcoming Marvel video game has been canceled.

All that and more!

Marvel And Funko Team For New Selects Line

Target and Funko have teamed up for a new line of collectibles called Marvel Studios Selects. The new collection includes exclusive Funko collectibles in a variety of forms that will depict a bunch of heroes and villains from across the MCU, be it the movies or the Disney+ shows. The program kicks off on Monday then, come the end of June and every month thereafter for as long as the companies continue the partnership, more Marvel Selects toys will arrive in stores and online at Target. So be on the lookout for the first drop this upcoming Monday.

Rumor Control: No, Jason Sudekis Is Not Playing Ted Kord In Blue Beetle

Recently, some rumors started circulating suggesting that "Ted Lasso" star Jason Sudekis was going to be portraying Ted Kord in the upcoming "Blue Beetle" movie alongside Xolo Maridueña, who is bringing the Jaime Reyes version of the character to life. Now, The Wrap reporter Umberto Gonzales has poured some cold water over the situation. In the above tweet, he explains that not only is Sudekis not playing Ted Kord, the original Blue Beetle — he's not in the movie at all. Apologies to anyone who had their hopes up. But hey, we still get Susan Sarandon as a comic book movie villain!

Daybreak Games' Marvel MMO Has Been Canceled

An upcoming Marvel video game has officially been canceled. As announced in a press release from Swedish video game holdings company EG7, the folks at Daybreak Games ("DC Universe Online") are no longer going to be working on their untitled Marvel MMO. Per the PR, here's what they had to say about it:

"Based on the re-evaluation of the development risk profile, size of investment, and the long-term product portfolio strategy for the group, the board has decided to change the development priorities and reallocate resources within the group to focus on alternative long-term projects. The company had planned to invest more than SEK 500 million in the Marvel project over the next three years. The company will now diversify this investment across multiple, smaller size projects within the group, including the previously announced major upgrades to The Lord of the Rings Online and DC Universe Online, and new game opportunities with our first party, original IPs."

That breaks down to around $50 million USD, which is by no means a small chunk of change. The good news is that we have no shortage of other Marvel video games on the way in the near future.

Chris Hemsworth Is An Executive Producer On Thor: Love And Thunder

There was a whole lot going on in the latest "Thor: Love and Thunder" trailer, including our first real look at Christian Bale's Gorr the God Butcher, so one would be forgiven for not reading the credits in tiny print at the bottom of the above poster for the MCU's latest. That said, those who did read the credits would discover that Chris Hemsworth, who once again returns as the God of Thunder as he's done since 2011, is listed as an executive producer on the film. This is a pretty big deal as it's not just the first time Hemsworth is producing a Marvel Studios project — it's only the second time a major MCU star has executive produced a movie at all. The first time was Scarlett Johansson on "Black Widow." Now? Hemsworth is joining that exclusive group more than a decade into his tenure as the character.

Here's Why Netflix's Sandman Show Didn't Bring Back Tom Ellis As Lucifer

Neil Gaiman's beloved "The Sandman" is finally getting a live-action adaptation that will arrive on Netflix later this year. But Tom Ellis will not be returning to the fold as Lucifer, a role he played on the series "Lucifer" for years. Well, in responding to a fan recently on Twitter, Gaiman has explained why Gwendoline Christie ("Game of Thrones," "Star Wars: The Force Awakens") is stepping up to fill those shoes instead of Ellis.

"Because his Lucifer, while inspired by the Lucifer in Sandman, is so far away in terms of Sandman continuity by the end of LUCIFER, that it's easier on everyone to go back to the version in the comics. And this way you don't know what our Lucifer is going to do. Tom's is lovable."

So there you have it, folks. Gaiman has spoken.

A Mystery 2023 Comic Book Movie Had 45 Different Screenwriters

As we can see in the above tweet, a recent report from Deadline on the state of screenwriting, particularly as it relates to franchise projects and the many writers that often are brought in to pen those scripts, it was revealed that a comic book movie coming out next year had a reported 45 (yes, 45!) different writers with a hand in writing the film. We will not get into reckless speculation territory here but the above photo may point to a popular suggestion that has emerged on social media with people responding to the news. In any event, it's not uncommon for a few writers to be credited on a project but this is truly remarkable. The report does note that there is virtually no chance all of these writers end up with credit in the end. Still, it stinks of too many cooks in the kitchen.

Madame Web Movie Casts Ghostbusters: Afterlife Star Celeste O'Connor

Sony's "Madame Web" movie continues to assert itself as a real thing as Celeste O'Connor ("Ghostbusters: Afterlife") has been added to the growing cast of the Marvel Comics adaptation. As reported by Variety, the actor has joined the cast alongside Dakota Johnson and Sydney Sweeney, but their role has yet to be revealed. The outlet also reveals some very basic plot details explaining that "the movie will serve as an origin story for Madame Web, a clairvoyant whose psychic abilities allow her to see within the spider world itself." S.J. Clarkson ("Defenders") is set to direct the film, which is expected to begin filming later this year.

Green Lantern: Beware My Power Trailer

Lastly, today brings a new trailer for "Green Lantern: Beware My Power," the latest DC animated movie from Warner Bros. The film will center on John Stewart, with quite a few other key DC heroes getting in on the action including, amongst others, Green Arrow and Martian Manhunter. This looks to be, more or less, an origin story for this iteration of the hero. For those interested in what this trailer is selling, the film arrives on 4K Ultra HD, and Digital on July 26, 2022. Check out the full trailer for yourself above.

Read this next: The 19 Greatest Movie Couples Of All Time Ranked

The post Superhero Bits: New Green Lantern: Beware My Power Trailer, Chris Hemsworth's New MCU Role & More appeared first on /Film.

- Alex Billington
Trailer for Twisted Crime Thriller 'Take the Night' from Seth McTigue
Take the Night Trailer

"I thought we were all in this together!" Saban Films has revealed an official trailer for a film titled Take the Night, described as an "edgy crime thriller." This one marks the feature debut of an up-and-coming filmmaker named Seth McTigue. It's landing on VOD to watch starting in July coming up soon this summer if anyone is interested. An embittered heir organizes a prank kidnapping of his younger brother on his birthday as he prepares to inherit the family fortune. However, the criminals the older man has hired to do the job are more cunning than he imagined and are about to reveal their master plan. Sounds like they'll end up more trouble than they expected! Will the brothers be able to put aside their rivalry? The film stars Seth McTigue, Roy Huang, Brennan Keel Cook, Sam Li, Shomari Love, Antonio Aaron, and Grace Serrano. This seems like it has a few good twists in it, but still has a very generic look & feel. Check it out.

Here's the official trailer (+ poster) for Seth McTigue's Take the Night, direct from YouTube:

Take the Night Poster

An inventive, edgy crime thriller, Take the Night is a twisted tale of sibling rivalry and family secrets. An elaborate surprise birthday stunt heads into increasingly dark places when career criminals that are hired to stage a fake kidnapping go rogue. Older brother William (Roy Huang) secures a crew to stage a fake kidnapping of his brother Robert (Sam Song Li). But the crew has plans of their own. The brothers must put aside their sibling rivalry if they want to save the family fortune. Take the Night is both written and directed by filmmaker Seth McTigue, making his feature directorial debut with this after numerous other short films previously. Produced by Julien P. Bourgon, Mark Heidelberger, Seth McTigue, Todd McTigue, and Franco Sama. This hasn't premiered at any festivals or elsewhere, as far as we know. Saban Films will debut McTigue's Take the Night in select US theaters + on VOD starting July 12th, 2022. Who's into this?

- Alex Billington
Cannes 2022: Park Chan-wook's Tender Thriller 'Decision to Leave'
Decision to Leave Review

Falling in love is unique to each and everyone one of us, indescribable and yet extraordinary. We all express our love differently, and interact with our loved ones in our own special ways. How do you capture this on camera? Filmmakers have been telling love stories on the big screen since the very beginning of cinema, and it's a vital element of its evolution. Which brings us to the newest example of cinema evolving through an exceptional love story. Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook is already well known and loved, celebrated for his iconic Vengeance series (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, Lady Vengeance) from the early 2000s. As we all grow older, I believe that most people get softer and sweeter, becoming more romantic and tender as they appreciate the little things in life that continue to bring them joy and warmth day after day. It seems as if Park has evolved as well, with his latest film Decision to Leave he's made a surprisingly tender film that isn't as dark or as twisted as the rest of the features in his oeuvre, but is still as masterful and moving.

Decision to Leave, originally 헤어질 결심 (Heojil kyolshim) in Korean, is Park Chan-wook's 11th feature film. Co-written by Park Chan-wook and Chung Seo-kyung (Lady Vengeance, Family Matters, I'm a Cyborg But That's OK, Thirst, The Handmaiden, The Truth Beneath), and directed by Park, the film is without question one of the best out of any film showing at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. It's one of my favorites of the fest, and I'm already looking forward to watching it again. There's so much more to dig into once you understand the story and where it's going, what it's saying, and how the two main characters connect. At the start we're introduced to an experienced detective named Hae-joon, played by Park Hae-il, working in Busan. There aren't many murders in modern South Korea anymore, even though that's his forte. He's sent to investigate the intriguing death of a man who fell climbing an iconic mountain near the city, looking into whether it's a murder. His wife, played by Tang Wei, is the key suspect and becomes an object of affection for Hae-joon.

For most of the first half, the film plays like a modern noir investigate thriller, following Hae-joon around as he tries to figure out what exactly happened to this climber. There are two distinct aspects of the film that stand out in particular - first is the way Park Chan-wook has brought classic Korean detective stories into the modern day world with ever-present technology surrounding us. I try to watch Korean films all the time, and this one feels so different than most in how technology is integrated and used throughout. Everything is exactly as it should be in the modern world – recordings and videos and photos on phones; public database searches aren't a "can you do this?" they just happen; video cameras everywhere, evidence is harder to hide. Details that become important in the case include how many steps someone took as listed in their phone, and YouTube recordings where the murdered explains details about his climb before something happens to them. It is so refreshing to see this all built in and handled so effortlessly by Park and his production team.

The second distinct aspect of Park's Decision to Leave that's breathtakingly impressive is the gorgeously intertwined love story connection between Hae-joon and his main suspect, the mysteriously alluring Tang Wei. She is a Chinese citizen who moved to Korea years ago, and she doesn't yet speak perfect Korean even though she tries, often translating her responses directly through her phone. As the two interact and slowly become more and more intimate, the film utilizes a number of tricks and techniques to bring them closer together - both literally and metaphorically. This is one of those rare examples of a filmmaker inventing an entirely new "language of cinema" and it might take multiple viewings to truly understand it. One of his tricks involves putting Park Hae-il right into the scenes with Tang Wei, as he imagines himself being with her during his investigations, and the film visualizes this having him standing in the same scene observing her. It's simple but so lovely to watch, especially as shot by DP Kim Ji-yong and edited by Kim Sang-Bum.

As their relationship continues, and his investigation reaches its end with this climber, the film begins to twist and then pivots into something else entirely - where it continues during the second half. This is not surprising for Park Chan-wook, who almost always slips a few twists into his screenplays. However, the key here is that even though everyone expects something dark and crazy and jaw-dropping, that's not what this film is. It's actually offering us a story that is much more tender, something more delightful as the next chapter in their romance begins and progresses to an obvious Park chan-wook ending. I would say this is Park's In the Mood for Love. There's an extraordinary amount of brilliant nuance that will be figured out as this film unravels in cinemas. Their relationship is as swoon-worthy and as meaningful as In the Mood for Love, and will become as iconic once audiences get a chance to watch this film. More than a detective story about solving crimes, Decision to Leave is a masterful, exquisite romance that makes your heart beat faster.

In addition to all the masterful filmmaking and fabulous trickery, the film is built upon two unforgettable performances from Park Hae-il and Tang Wei. Both of them deserve to be talked about for years and years. These are the kind of performances that will be analyzed & critiqued endlessly, as the nuance is so powerful that it's rather overwhelming. The first time you watch this film it might be hard to pick up on everything going on between these two: the sexual tension hidden within their eyes, the subtle glances and twitches and palpitations that represent their repressed feelings. Even if what they say and how they move seems to go against what they're feeling, Park has perfectly captured their emotions deep within. And that is the core of Decision to Leave, as it ultimately isn't really about some dark twisted murders, or some brutal killings, or anything like that. It's a love story. It kept me guessing, took my breath away, made me want to stand up and cheer at the end. Bravo, Park! Even if it doesn't play out the way you want or hope… it's still beautiful.

Alex's Cannes 2022 Rating: 9.5 out of 10 Follow Alex on Twitter - @firstshowing / Or Letterboxd - @firstshowing

- Alex Billington
Official Trailer for 'Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song' Doc
Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song

"Unlocking the mysteries of life was his primary preoccupation." Sony Pictures Classics has revealed the official trailer for the documentary film titled Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song, which premiered at both the Venice and Telluride Film Festivals last year. Yes, they made an entire doc about one song! But it's about so much more than that. Hallelujah examines the legendary poet and singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen through the lens of the hymn "Hallelujah," arguably his most famous and certainly most covered work. Rufus Wainwright, Brandi Carlile, Judy Collins, Regina Spektor, Amanda Palmer, and Eric Church, among others, appear in the documentary and have all recorded and performed their own versions of the emotional song. Other interviewees include his long-time artistic collaborator Sharon Robinson; John Lissauer, arranger of the original version of "Hallelujah"; record industry legend Clive Davis; and Larry "Ratso" Sloman, an ex-Rolling Stone reporter, who shares never-before-heard, unedited tapes of interviews he recorded with Cohen between 1974-2005. It looks quite good! A worthy doc about the glory of one song.

Here's the official trailer for doc Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song, from YouTube:

Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song Poser

Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song is a definitive exploration of singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen as seen through the prism of his internationally renowned hymn, "Hallelujah." This feature-length documentary weaves together three creative strands: The songwriter and his times; the song’s dramatic journey from record label reject to chart-topping hit; and moving testimonies from recording artists for whom "Hallelujah" has become a personal touchstone. Approved for production by Leonard Cohen just before his 80th birthday in 2014, the film accesses a wealth of never-before-seen archival materials from the Cohen Trust including Cohen’s personal notebooks, journals and photographs, performance footage, and extremely rare audio recordings and interviews. Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song is co-directed by filmmakers Daniel Geller & Dayna Goldfine (both of the docs Isadora Duncan: Movement from the Soul, Frosh, Kids of Survival, Ballets Russes, Something Ventured, The Galapagos Affair). This initially premiered at the 2021 Venice & Telluride Film Festivals last year. Sony Classics will debut the doc in select US theaters (NY & LA) starting on July 1st, 2022 coming soon this summer. Anyone interested?

- Alex Billington
Cannes 2022: 'Moonage Daydream' is a Mind-Expanding Experience
Moonage Daydream Review

There's only one David Bowie – no one else has ever been like him, no one will ever be like him again. A one-of-a-kind artist, creator, human (maybe? maybe not?), lover, dreamer, musician. How do you tell his story? Is it even possible? Probably not. It's better to not even try - there is so much about him that can't be explained, that can't be described in words. Moonage Daydream is a documentary about David Bowie, but it's not really a biopic, and it's not really a documentary. Much like Bowie himself, it's a one-of-a-kind cinematic experience that will blow you away. It's a profound experience - one of the most moving viewings I've had at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. Emerging from the cinema it's like entering a whole new world, with a new outlook on life and fresh perspective. It's a mind-melting, cosmically existential journey through Bowie's existence & endlessly wise mind. The epitome of a cinematic experience in every way. Amazing.

Moonage Daydream is written and directed and edited by the very talented American doc filmmaker Brett Morgen, who has already blown us away with outstanding docs like Jane (about Jane Goodall) and Cobain: Montage of Heck previously. When he puts together a film, it's not just a bunch of clips edited together, it's an experience. Morgen works meticulously to craft the sound design and the editing and the visuals in order to make sure the documentary is a full on cinematic spectacle, something that its immersive and pulls you deep into its story. He's outdone himself with Moonage Daydream, with dazzling editing and hallucinogenic visuals. He uses various movie clips and bits of footage to reference what Bowie is talking about in certain scenes, rather than just showing Bowie himself over & over. And he was lucky to get his hands on the entire archive of Bowie footage from his estate, meaning there's so much edited into this it's almost overwhelming.

Some critics seem to be expecting something this film isn't, and yes, I also expected a more straightforward biopic doc as well. But it's not really meant to be "the life story of David Bowie", and it's not really going to provide any insight into Bowie and what made him the person he was. That's not the point of this one, and it's better to know that going in. The film is Bowie expressing himself again, through space and time and cinema, to teach us about how to truly thrive and how to exist as human beings. He is so exceptionally wise and wonderful. And this film feels like him speaking out again, letting his voice and his life reach out to each and every one of us and inspire us all over again. It's a path to how to truly live free and love life, and to find the joy in every single day. There are no new interviews or talking heads or anything because it doesn't need them - Bowie's words from archival footage are more than enough to take us on this journey through his life.

In all honesty - I never really understood Bowie before. I never adored his music or art, but all that changes now. Now I get it. Now I understand him. Now I have a better sense of who he was and what he wanted to show us, to share with us from his mind. Like most people, he evolved over time. He went from something to something else all the time, kept changing and growing, kept developing and learning. But he always stayed true to the belief that genuine freedom of personal expression was (and is) the most important in art. I love that the film shows this - with intriguing statements where he admits later in life that he no longer believes in what he did when he was younger. That journey of a man is part of the experience, and part of growing as a human being throughout one's life. We get to witness this as audience members swept away on this journey in Moonage Daydream, but we also get to feel it watching him perform on stage and speak out.

While you may not learn more about why David Bowie was such a rarity or how he was so talented or why he was the way he was, that doesn't take away from the seriously mind-expanding vibes of this extraordinary documentary. Yeah I was hoping for a bit more about his children and how he honed his skills as a musician, but those are stories for another time. After watching this film, there's so much from Bowie that will likely change you, that will connect with you deep down and possibly even reshape your life from that point on. That's the power of truly great cinema. And that's also the power of Bowie himself. It's not about learning who he is, it's about learning from him. It's about being inspired by his choices in life, by his boundless wisdom, by his encouragement to live fully and dream big no matter your circumstances. It's about being inspired by the beauty of life, by the things that surrounds us. He discusses at one point how he surrounded himself with everything besides music to inspire his creativity; its the kind of life we should all aspire to live.

Alex's Cannes 2022 Rating: 9 out of 10 Follow Alex on Twitter - @firstshowing / Or Letterboxd - @firstshowing

- Alex Billington
Idris Elba Fights Off a Massive Rogue Lion in Thriller 'Beast' Trailer
Beast Trailer

"It's the law of the jungle! It's the only law that matters." Universal has debuted the first official trailer for Beast, a new angry lion movie from director Baltasar Kormákur (The Deep, 2 Guns, Everest, The Oath). This reminds me of the 90s hit The Ghost and the Darkness, also about rogue lions attacking people with a similar intensity as this one. Idris Elba stars in a pulse-pounding new thriller about a father and his two teenage daughters who find themselves hunted by a massive rogue lion intent on proving that the savannah has but one apex predator. Iyana Halley plays Daniels' 18-year-old daughter, Meredith, and Leah Sava Jeffries plays his 13-year-old, Norah. Also co-starring Sharlto Copley as the local game reserve manager. There's only two or three real shots of the lion in this trailer, which is obviously CGI. And the final scene in this very much seems like a Jurassic Park riff in the truck when the T-Rex attacks them. Check it out below.

Here's the first official trailer for Baltasar Kormákur's Beast, direct from Universal's YouTube:

Beast Poster

Sometimes the rustle in the bushes actually is a monster. Idris Elba plays Dr. Nate Daniels, a recently widowed husband who returns to South Africa, where he first met his wife, on a long-planned trip with their daughters to a game reserve managed by Martin Battles (Sharlto Copley), an old family friend and wildlife biologist. But what begins as a journey of healing jolts into a fearsome fight for survival when a lion, a survivor of blood-thirsty poachers who now sees all humans as the enemy, begins stalking them. Beast is directed by Icelandic filmmaker Baltasar Kormákur, director of the movies 101 Reykjavík, The Sea, A Little Trip to Heaven, Jar City, White Night Wedding, Inhale, Contraband, The Deep, 2 Guns, Everest, The Oath, and Adrift previously. The screenplay is written by Ryan Engle (Rampage, Non-Stop) from an original story by Jaime Primak Sullivan Produced by Will Packer and Baltasar Kormákur. Universal will debut Kormákur's Beast in theaters nationwide on August 19th, 2022 later this summer. Look good?

- Alex Billington
Chilling Off-Grid Thriller 'Neon Lights' Trailer Starring Dana Abraham
Neon Lights Trailer

"A brilliant mind is its own worst enemy." Momentum Pics has revealed a new trailer for an indie horror thriller titled Neon Lights, from an Iranian-Canadian filmmaker named Rouzbeh Heydari. This is opening on VOD in July in this US this summer. Guests begin disappearing in an off-grid location, during a family reunion of misfit siblings and their offspring. The film follows a tech tycoon, as played by the co-writer & producer of the film, who retreats to an off the grid location in search of meaning and peace. I wonder if it's another fantasy tale about how wealthy tech businessman are actually the real assholes? Starring Dana Abraham, Brenna Coates, Brit MacRae, Stephen Tracey, Rene Escobar Jr, Lauren Howe, Kim Coates, & Erika Swayze. The colored rooms are pretty cool, but the rest of it seems rather uninteresting.

Here's the official US trailer (+ poster) for Rouzbeh Heydari's Neon Lights, direct from YouTube:

Neon Lights Trailer

Neon Lights Trailer

A tech tycoon, Clay Amani, retreats to an off the grid location in search of meaning and peace, with his siblings and their offspring, only to be caught in a bone-chilling killing spree within his new estate. Neon Lights is directed by Iranian-Canadian writer / filmmaker Rouzbeh Heydari, director of the films Tile Man and Together Again previously, as well as some short films and TV directing work. The screenplay is written by Dana Abraham and Rouzbeh Heydari. Produced by Kim Coates and Dana Abraham; co-produced by Trevor Smith. This hasn't premiered at any festivals or elsewhere, as far as we know. Momentum Pictures will debut Heydari's Neon Lights in select US theaters + on VOD starting on July 12th, 2022 this summer.

- Alex Billington
Gabriel Byrne in Western 'Murder at Yellowstone City' Official Trailer
Murder at Yellowstone City Trailer

"The necessary end will come… when it will come." RLJE Films has unveiled an official trailer for a new western thriller called Murder at Yellowstone City, made by an Australian filmmaker named Richard Gray (of Sugar Mountain, Broken Ghost, Robert the Bruce). It opens in theaters and on VOD together at the end of June for anyone interested in watching. A former slave who arrives in Yellowstone City, Montana, a desolate former boomtown now on the decline, looking for a place to call home. On that same day, a local prospector discovers gold - then he's murdered. As more brutal murders continue, pitting neighbor against neighbor, Yellowstone City goes down a bloody path to a final showdown that not all will survive. The film stars Gabriel Byrne, Thomas Jane, Isaiah Mustafa, Anna Camp, Aimee Garcia, Emma Kenney, with Nat Wolff, and Richard Dreyfuss. This looks like your standard western with a mean Sheriff and all the usual suspects in town getting into all kinds of trouble. Looks better than most of these but not by much.

Here's the official trailer (+ poster) for Richard Gray's Murder at Yellowstone City, from YouTube:

Murder at Yellowstone City Poster

The once peaceful and booming Yellowstone City has fallen on hard times, but when a local prospector strikes gold, things seem to be turning around. Any hope is soon shattered when the prospector is found dead and the Sheriff (Gabriel Byrne) quickly arrests a mysterious newcomer. But nothing is so simple in this sleepy western town, and more than a few of the locals have secrets to keep and reasons to kill. As the brutal murders continue, pitting neighbor against neighbor, Yellowstone City goes down a bloody path to a final showdown that not all will survive. Murder at Yellowstone City is directed by Australian filmmaker Richard Gray, director of the films Summer Coda, Mine Games, Blinder, The Lookalike, Sugar Mountain, Broken Ghost, and Robert the Bruce previously. The screenplay is written by Eric Belgau (Keyeye the Movie, Robert the Bruce). This hasn't premiered at any festivals or elsewhere, as far as we know. RLJE Films will debut Murder at Yellowstone City in select US theaters + on VOD starting June 24th, 2022 this summer.

- Alex Billington
Space Station Sci-Fi Survival Thriller 'Rubikon' Trailer from Austria
Rubikon Trailer

"It's your job to keep us alive." IFC Midnight has revealed the official trailer for a new sci-fi thriller titled Rubikon, produced in Austria and made by an Austrian filmmaker making her feature directorial debut. This is opening on VOD and in theaters starting in July this summer in the US for anyone curious to watch. Following an environmental catastrophe on Earth in the near future, the planet is covered in a toxic fog. The crew living up in the space station must decide whether to risk their own lives to get home and search for survivors, or stay safe in the station's "algae symbiosis system". Good question? "Against the vast canvas of the cosmos, three people with different worldviews debate their moral responsibility to the species, all while grappling with the timely agony of isolation." The film stars Julia Franz Richter, George Blagden, and Mark Ivanir. I'm getting a bit tired of these so many of these sci-fi "moral quandary" thrillers because they all seem so proud but in the end the movie is forgettable because it's always the same conclusion every time.

Here's the main official trailer (+ two posters) for Leni Lauritsch's Rubikon, direct from YouTube:

Rubikon Poster

Rubikon Poster

2056. A toxic cloud of pollution has swallowed the earth, killing untold numbers. The world's nations have dissolved, with all power now left in the hands of a few giant corporations. The rich retreat to sealed biodomes while the poor choke and starve. On the space station Rubikon, Hannah (Julia Franz Richter), Gavin (George Blagden), and Dimitri (Mark Ivanir) weigh the fate of the planet’s survivors. Should these crewmembers risk their own lives on a rescue mission to the surface, or ignore the old world to build a new one of safety and solitude, living off the station’s sophisticated algae symbiosis system? Against the vast canvas of the cosmos, three people with different worldviews debate their moral responsibility to the species, all while grappling with the timely agony of isolation. Rubikon is directed by Austrian filmmaker Leni Lauritsch, aka Magdalena Lauritsch, making her feature directorial debut after directing other short films previously. The screenplay is written by Jessica Lind & Leni Lauritsch. IFC Midnight opens Lauritsch's Rubikon in select US theaters + on VOD starting July 1st, 2022 this summer. Anyone want to watch this?

- Alex Billington
First Trailer for 'The Gray Man' Action Movie Starring Ryan Gosling
The Gray Man Trailer

It's time to finally meet The Gray Man. Netflix has unveiled the intense official trailer for an international action thriller comedy titled The Gray Man, the new movie from Avengers directors The Russo Brothers. After working with Marvel on four movies, they went off and started a production company called AGBO, and made the movie Cherry recently. This next one is for Netflix with a theatrical release planned in July before it's streaming. When the CIA's most skilled operative – whose true identity is unknown – accidentally uncovers dark agency secrets, a psychopathic former colleague puts a bounty on his head, setting off a global manhunt by international assassins. Ryan Gosling stars as "The Gray Man" and Chris Evans plays his psychopathic adversary. Also co-starring Ana de Armas, with Regé-Jean Page, Billy Bob Thornton, Jessica Henwick, Dhanush, Wagner Moura, and Alfre Woodard. I'm glad to see the Russos bring us some kick ass action this summer!! Looks like it's going to be badass, especially with Evans' nice mustache.

Here's the official trailer (+ posters) for Anthony & Joe Russo's The Gray Man, from Netflix's YouTube:

The Gray Man Poster

The Gray Man Poster

The Gray Man is CIA operative Court Gentry (Ryan Gosling), aka, Sierra Six. Plucked from a federal penitentiary and recruited by his handler, Donald Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton), Gentry was once a highly-skilled, Agency-sanctioned merchant of death. But now the tables have turned and Six is the target, hunted across the globe by Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans), a former cohort at the CIA, who will stop at nothing to take him out. Agent Dani Miranda (Ana de Armas) has his back. He'll need it. The Gray Man is co-directed by filmmakers Anthony Russo & Joe Russo, better known as the Russo Brothers, directors of the movies Welcome to Collinwood, You Me & Dupree, Captain America: The Winter Soldier & Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War & Endgame, and Cherry previously. The screenplay is by Joe Russo, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. Based on the novel "The Gray Man" by Mark Greaney. Netflix will debut The Gray Man in select US theaters starting on July 15th, 2022, then streaming on Netflix starting July 22nd this summer.

- Alex Billington
Freddie Gibbs Becomes a Farmer in 'Down with the King' Film Trailer
Down with the King Trailer

"I don't know if I'm ready to jump back on stage yet." Sony has revealed an official trailer for an indie film titled Down with the King, which originally premiered last year and is finally arriving to watch on VOD coming soon this summer. It first premiered in the 2021 Cannes Film Festival sidebar selection known as ACID, and it also played at the Deauville Film Festival and American Film Festival in Poland last year. Real-life rapper Freddie Gibbs stars as a famous rapper named Money Merc in the film. Disillusioned with the music industry and the pressures of being a celebrity, he leaves the city and his career behind to find himself in a small-town farming community in the Berkshires. This sounds great! The cast includes Bob Tarasuk, Jamie Neumann, David Krumholtz, and Sharon Washington. This is exactly the kind of premise for a film that I enjoy, and glad this isn't some dumb comedy. It looks like a sensitive and truthful drama about the simplicity of farming vs the chaos of a famous music life. I'm curious to see what he decides by the end.

Here's the official trailer (+ poster) for Diego Ongaro's Down with the King, from Sony's YouTube:

Down with the King Poster

Famous rap star Money Merc (Freddie Gibbs) has been sent by his manager, Paul (David Krumholtz), to a rural house in the Berkshires to focus on his next album in peace and quiet. Disenchanted with his music career and the 24/7 upkeep that such fame entails, Merc has no desire to write or record music. Instead, he spends most of his time at his neighbor's farm learning about farming and enjoying the simplicity of country life. After Merc abruptly announces his retirement on Twitter, Paul rushes to the countryside to lure him back into the music industry. Down with the King is directed by the filmmaker Diego Ongaro, making his second feature after directing Bob and the Trees previously, plus many other short films. The screenplay is written by Xabi Molia and Diego Ongaro. Produced by Rob Cristiano, Kim Jackson, and Zach LeBeau. This initially premiered at the ACID Cannes sidebar last year. Sony will debut Down with the King direct-to-VOD starting on June 28th, 2022 this summer. For more details visit the film's official website.

- Alex Billington
Cannes 2022: Davy Chou's Superb 'Return to Seoul' About Adoption
Return to Seoul Review

There have been many films made before about what it's like to be an adopted child from a far away country, how hard it is and all the psychological challenges that come with it. But there has never been a film like this before, telling a brutally honest story of one young Korean woman who grew up in France and her struggles with emotions. Return to Seoul (originally Retour à Séoul in France) is the second feature film made by filmmaker Davy Chou, who seems to be telling a story similar to his own about being raised in France as an adoptee. It's also going under alternate the English title All the People I'll Never Be, and it's premiering at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard section. Unlike many other films about adoptees, everything doesn't get better when they go home and rediscover their original country or find their parents, it's not a feel-good story of redemption and rediscovery. It's a much harsher look at how hard it is to try and meet or find the biological parents, and how much this can mess with the minds of those struggling with it.

Chou's Return to Seoul follows a French woman named Freddie, played by newcomer Park Ji-Min in her acting debut, hand-selected by the filmmaker after a friend recommend her. When the film opens she has arrived in Seoul on a surprise trip, and thanks to the help of new friends who speak French (as she doesn't speak any Korean) she begins to enjoy the city. Soon she finds herself at the adoption center which begins her journey to try and find her biological parents, now separated, as well as her own journey to self-love and understanding. It feels very cathartic for the filmmaker to express these complex emotions in a film. That authenticity matters. I have no experience at all with this life and learned so much about being an adoptee from this film, more than I have from almost any other film. It's a fresh, stylish film that is deeply moving, and hard to shake because it's so truthful. An exceptionally bold, honest story about how adoptees meeting parents can really screw them up even further. It's not always beneficial, despite the belief that it might be.

It's a tough one to watch because the main character is such a broken, sad person and it's honest about that. I was astonished that it admits this and doesn't shy away from the fact that she is troubled, not showing her as some "cool girl" just for the sake of look how badass she is. She's not – she's awful and broken. Not all adoptees are like this, it's only a story for this film. But I very much appreciate how compassionate the film is in showing how it takes years and years of time to process and work through this kind of psychological trauma. I really wanted to hate her for half of the film. But the filmmaking allows us to sympathize with her in the slightest of ways, because it's so delicately nuanced in how Chou portrays her psychological situation contributing to her behavior and agitated personality. And it's not something she can fix easily, she must go on this journey and she must evolve from one kind of person into another to finally grow out of the sad, soulless person she was into the beautiful person that deep down I think she knows she has a potential to be.

The film very carefully and sincerely gets into the truth about how this kind of psychological trauma can really destroy people. There's a small subplot hidden in the film involving her taking on a job as a weapons sales expert, even going to South Korea to sell them missiles. It's such a crazy development but ultimately what I think Chou is trying to say is that yes, the people who take on these jobs are soulless, but they're also broken and this is one example of why and how that can happen. So while of course she is the bane of evil selling weapons for a living, it's also a reminder that hey, people are messed up inside and totally torn apart and hurting, and we need to give them some compassion and understanding. They deserve that. These are the kind of people that take these jobs but some of them are also on a long-term, painful path of growth. It's extraordinarily bold for a filmmaker to even try to say this and do it in a what that doesn't instantly make us want to hate the person and never give them a chance. It's never stated outright, but clearly is in the subtext.

I haven't been able to shake this film or stop thinking about it for days so far after first seeing it in Cannes. It really makes you think about her situation and all that she's going through. And it's exceptionally hard to make a film about a messy, broken, vile person (the way she treats everyone around her is so harmful) and make audiences appreciate and understand them, even sympathize with them. Chou allows us to follow her through years of time without being obvious or heavy-handed in his explanation of what's going on. There's so much skill in the filmmaking that, as far as I can tell, comes from Chou exploring his own feelings and his own experiences of being an adoptee. The result is something we should celebrate and cherish as cinematic art that is cathartic and touching. A film that encourages us to be more open and empathetic even if we don't have any connection to other people who might've been raised differently than us. It's not an easy task to be compassionate, but we have to try, and we have to give others time… Time to grow and work on themselves.

Alex's Cannes 2022 Rating: 8 out of 10 Follow Alex on Twitter - @firstshowing / Or Letterboxd - @firstshowing

- Alex Billington
Full Trailer for Marvel's 'Thor: Love and Thunder' from Taika Waititi
Thor: Love and Thunder Trailer

"In Gods We Trust!" Let's go! Disney has debuted the full-length official trailer for Marvel Studios' Thor: Love and Thunder, the next big Marvel sequel directed by Taika Waititi following his fantastic Thor: Ragnarok from 2017. The film finds the God of Thunder on a journey unlike anything he’s ever faced – a quest for inner peace. But his retirement is interrupted by a galactic killer known as Gorr the God Butcher, played by Christian Bale, who seeks the extinction of the gods. To combat the threat, Thor enlists the help of King Valkyrie, Korg (!!), and ex-girlfriend Jane Foster, who – to Thor’s surprise – inexplicably wields his magical hammer, Mjolnir, as the Mighty Thor. The cast includes Chris Hemsworth back as Thor, plus Taika Waititi as Korg, Natalie Portman who finally gets into the action, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie, Karen Gillan, Russell Crowe as Zeus, Sean Gunn, and Chris Pratt as Star Lord. I am SO glad they let Taika make another wacky Thor movie because this looks absolutely fabulous in every way, shape, & form! Hilariously original comedy along with some crazy twists and turns in the story. This is going to be a blast.

Here's the main official trailer (+ poster) for Taika Waititi's Thor: Love and Thunder, from YouTube:

Thor: Love and Thunder Poster

You can rewatch the initial teaser trailer for Waitit's Thor: Love & Thunder here, for the first look again.

The film finds Thor (Chris Hemsworth) on a journey unlike anything he’s ever faced – a quest for inner peace. But his retirement is interrupted by a galactic killer known as Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), who seeks the extinction of the gods. To combat the threat, Thor enlists the help of King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (Taika Waititi) and ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who – to Thor’s surprise – inexplicably wields his magical hammer, Mjolnir, as the Mighty Thor. Together, they embark upon a harrowing cosmic adventure to uncover the mystery of the God Butcher’s vengeance and stop him before it’s too late. Thor: Love and Thunder is once again directed by Kiwi actor / writer / filmmaker Taika Waititi, director of the films Eagle vs Shark, Boy, What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Thor: Ragnarok, and Jojo Rabbit previously. The screenplay is written by Jennifer Kaytin Robinson and Taika Waititi. Produced by Kevin Feige and Brad Winderbaum. Disney will debut Marvel's Thor: Love and Thunder in theaters worldwide starting July 8th, 2022 this summer. First impression? Who's in for this?

- Alex Billington
Issa Rae & Ashton Kutcher in Dark Comedy Film 'Vengeance' Trailer
Vengeance Trailer

"The problem is that these people aren't smart, the problem is that they are." Focus Features has unveiled an official trailer for Vengeance, marking the feature directorial debut of actor B.J. Novak, known from The Office and Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. The film is debuting as a centerpiece premiere at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival in NYC this summer. It's described as "a darkly comic thriller" about Ben Manalowitz, a journalist and podcaster who travels from New York City to West Texas to investigate the death of a girl he was hooking up with. From this trailer, it's obvious that there is more going on and he gets in over his head trying to make a true crime podcast learning about real crime. Novak also wrote the script and stars with an ensemble cast including Issa Rae, Ashton Kutcher, Boyd Holbrook, J. Smith-Cameron, and Dove Cameron. This looks like some good ol' Texas fun, taking a city boy for a ride on the wild side. Check it out.

Here's the first official trailer for B.J. Novak's Vengeance, direct from Focus' YouTube:

Vengeance Film

Vengeance is B.J. Novak’s feature directorial debut, a darkly comic thriller about a journalist who travels from New York City to West Texas to investigate the mysterious death of a young woman. Vengeance is both written and directed by Jewish-American actor turned filmmaker B.J. Novak, making his feature directorial debut; he also directed episodes of "The Office", "The Mindy Project", and "The Premise" for TV previously. Produced by Jason Blum, Greg Gilreath, and Adam Hendricks; made by Blumhouse Productions. The film is premiering at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival this summer. Focus Features will release Novak's Vengeance in select US theaters starting on July 29th, 2022 coming soon. First impression? Look funny?

- Alex Billington
Second Trailer for Baz Luhrmann's 'Elvis' Movie Starring Austin Butler
Elvis Second Trailer

"The way you sing was God given, so there can't be nothing wrong with it." Warner Bros has dropped in the second official trailer for Elvis, the next ravishing Baz Luhrmann musical arriving in theaters this summer. It's premiering this week at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, hence one more trailer to build some buzz before it's big unveiling. The movie chronicles the life and career of rock-and-roll legend Elvis Presley, starring Austin Butler (seen in Yoga Hosers, The Dead Don't Die, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) as the iconic musician. Covering his entire life, from childhood to stardom and beyond. It also stars Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker, Luke Bracey, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Dacre Montgomery, David Wenham, Richard Roxburgh, Kate Mulvany, Elizabeth Cullen, & Natasha Bassett, plus Kelvin Harrison Jr. as B.B. King, and Olivia DeJonge as Priscilla Presley. This looks extraordinary!! I am very excited to see this, looks like they spared no expense telling his story with all the pomp and circumstance he deserves.

Here's the second official trailer (+ poster) for Baz Luhrmann's Elvis, direct from WB's YouTube:

Elvis Poster

You can rewatch the first official trailer for Baz Luhrmann's Elvis here, to view even more footage.

Set against an evolving cultural landscape and loss of innocence in America, Baz Luhrmann's upcoming Elvis movie covers the rock legend’s growth from dirt-poor singer to global icon, seen through the prism of his complex relationship over two decades with manager Colonel Tom Parker (played by Tom Hanks). Presley reached a level of stardom matched only by the Beatles before his death in 1977 at the age of 42. This currently untitled Elvis Presley project, formerly known as Kat King or also just Elvis, is directed by acclaimed Australian filmmaker Baz Luhrmann, director of the movies Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!, Australia, and The Great Gatsby previously. The screenplay is written by Sam Bromell, Baz Luhrmann, and Craig Pearce. Produced by Gail Berman, Catherine Martin, Patrick McCormick, Andrew Mittman, Schuyler Weiss, and Baz Luhrmann. This is premiering at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. Warner Bros will debut Luhrmann's Elvis in theaters everywhere on June 24th, 2022 this summer. Looking good?

- Alex Billington
Cannes 2022: Fighting Cynicism in 'Three Thousand Years of Longing'
Three Thousand Years of Longing Review

What does your heart truly desire? If you were asked this question on the spot, right now, would you be able to answer it? Would it be the actual, deep down truth? Or is the answer so complex and frightening that it's not easy to say without prying into the many dark twists & turns throughout our lives? George Miller's latest movie is a glorious, ambitious, one-of-a-kind creation called Three Thousand Years of Longing that explores this question (and others) by taking us on a journey with one lonely woman who is presented with this very provocation. She doesn't want to admit she is lonely, she claims to be content and satisfied being all by herself, but with time and understanding, she admits it. Deep down I wonder if it's true that we all wish for someone to be with, or something to take away that loneliness that I know we all feel. But some of us are more open to admitting this than others… And some are so afraid of always being lonely that they pretend they're totally fine with it and never confront these feelings. Perhaps meeting a Djinn could help…?

Three Thousand Years of Longing is both written and directed by acclaimed Australian filmmaker George Miller, his latest work since Mad Max: Fury Road, and one of his most complex and humanistic movies so far. Tilda Swinton stars as Alithea, a smarmy bookish woman who prefers to be single and entirely on her own. She arrives in Istanbul to participate in a presentation on storytelling as a "narratologist" - someone who analyzes stories and their connections throughout human history. In her hotel in Istanbul, she opens a tiny bottle and meets a Djinn, essentially evoking the classic genie-in-a-bottle myth also found in Aladdin and The Thief of Bagdad. Idris Elba plays her Djinn, a big, burly man who speaks clearly and convincingly, and they quickly descend into a mind-expanding conversation that delves into various tales of people from the past. The Djinn asks her her to make her three wishes, but she can't; not only does she have nothing to wish for, she doesn't believe any of it is real anyway. But he assures her it is real by regaling her with stories of his past and his experiences with humanity and love and death and everything else that comes between.

The best part about it is that Elba and Swinton are so perfect for their roles, there is never any chance to doubt their characters. I am more impressed with Elba's straight-forward "genie" in this than I have been with his recent roles, he is a towering individual balancing gravitas & charisma with physical perfection and a softness in his eyes. He's the ultimate man and that matters because, despite the zig-zags of this movie, his charm is important to every aspect of the stories he tells. Alithea is the perfectly nerdy, questions-everything intelligent woman to confront his stories but ends up being touched & intrigued by them. Miller doesn't hold back on the visuals either, offering up vividly imagined sequences going back into human history. Perhaps it will be jarring for some to go through all of this, but this is George Miller we're talking about, and he's not trying to make them real - he's trying to make them epic. For a reason. Because it's all about the storytelling and profundity of these stories. Not only so they can live up to the way Elba's Djinn is telling them (as he lived them) but also so they can be seared into our memories using the power of cinema to open our minds.

I do wonder if some of the people who will watch this movie and hate it are the very kind of lifeless people that the movie is confronting. It's a rousing, vibrant rejection of cynicism using a strange narrative structure and storytelling as a conceit. It doesn't all fit together perfectly, and the tone is all over the place, but that didn't bother me much. It is, however, definitely and assuredly not a "lifeless" movie as I heard one critic say upon leaving the screening in Cannes. It is a movie full of life, found in all the various marvelous stories, and in the eyes of Tilda Swinton. There is a moment where she finally lights up, and finally lets her emotions out, without shedding a tear, merely on the verge of one making its appearance. But that moment was one of the grand moments in this movie where, as a viewer, you'll finally realize she has been denying and covering up her own truths about longing and desire. She has wrapped herself in a comfortable cocoon of cynicism to keep these emotions from overwhelming her. Once he gets this out of her and she learns to let go, she then discovers that companionship is the most beautiful thing about life, despite all her experiences rejecting it.

To top off all the visual grandeur and spectacular stories, Three Thousand Years of Longing also features composer Tom Holkenborg's (aka Junkie XL) best score since Mad Max: Fury Road - which is an album I listen to all the time when my mind needs to be revved up. It's another exceptionally moving and kinetic score that helps elevate the movie even further and make it a mystical, magical, sweeping experience that spans thousands of years. In all honesty, I think the movie will will be too honest and vibrant for some, it's beautifully endearing and confronts some people so directly they won't be able to stand it. It connected with me, but I know it won't connect with everyone. Miller's Three Thousand Years of Longing is a challenge to those who feel content with loneliness, wrapped in their blankets of cynicism. It's as much about the power of storytelling as it is about the power of love and desire. It's about how meaningful companionship and connection are, to every last one of us, even if we insist otherwise. I'm looking forward to revisiting it again.

Alex's Cannes 2022 Rating: 9 out of 10 Follow Alex on Twitter - @firstshowing / Or Letterboxd - @firstshowing

- Alex Billington
Amazing 'Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning' Part 1 First Trailer
Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning

"Your days of fighting for the so called 'greater good' are over." Paramount has unveiled the incredible first official trailer for Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One, the 7th movie in this ongoing M:I franchise. As everyone knows, they shot both of the next movies back-to-back - Dead Reckoning: Part One and Part Two, opening in the summers of 2023 and 2024. Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt formerly of the IMF, off on more covert missions to save the world. The spectacular stunts are even more exhilarating this time, using real trains and practical sets, along with Cruise himself performing his own stunts. The ensemble cast for Part One features Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Vanessa Kirby, Esai Morales, Hayley Atwell, Pom Klementieff, Shea Whigham, Henry Czerny, and Cary Elwes. This is one of the best trailers we'll see all year, hands down. I love that they went entirely with the theme music, letting all of the phenomenal footage speak for itself. This is going to be a blast - we just have to wait.

First trailer for McQuarrie's Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One, direct from YouTube:

Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Poster

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is the seventh installment of the Mission: Impossible film series, and the third in the series directed by McQuarrie, following Rogue Nation and Fallout. Ethan Hunt returns with his regular team for more covert missions around the world to save us all from mayhem and destruction. Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One is once again directed by American filmmaker Christopher McQuarrie, director of the movies The Way of the Gun, Jack Reacher, plus both Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation & Fallout previously. The screenplay is also written by Christopher McQuarrie. Based on the television series created by Bruce Geller. Produced by Tom Cruise, J.J. Abrams, Christopher McQuarrie, David Ellison, and Jake Myers. Paramount Pictures will debut McQuarrie's Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One in theaters worldwide starting on July 14th, 2023 next summer (delayed from this year). Part Two will then arrive in theaters June 2024. First impression? How awesome does this look?

- Alex Billington
Stunning Teaser Trailer for New David Bowie Doc 'Moonage Daydream'
Moonage Daydream Teaser

"It's what you do in life that's important, not how much time you have." Neon has revealed the first teaser trailer for Moonage Daydream, a David Bowie biopic documentary arriving in theaters later this year. This teaser drops just ahead of the film's world premiere at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival later this week. Featuring never-before-seen footage and performances, filmmaker Brett Morgen examines David Bowie's creative, musical and spiritual side. It's the very first biopic authorized by the Bowie estate, described as "a cinematic odyssey exploring David Bowie’s creative and musical journey." With unfiltered access to Bowie's archives, including all his master recordings, they spent five years constructing a genre-defying "cinematic experience" that grapples with spirituality, transience, isolation, creativity, and time to reveal the celebrated icon in his own voice. I am a huge fan of the doc director Brett Morgen, especially after Jane which was an exceptional film. And this looks like it's going to be yet another unforgettable cinematic + aural experience.

Here's the first teaser trailer (+ poster) for Brett Morgen's doc Moonage Daydream, from YouTube:

Moonage Daydream Doc Poster

From Cannes: "David Bowie was one of the most prolific and influential artists of our time. Working most notably in music and film, Bowie also explored various other art forms: dance, painting, sculpture, video collage, screenwriting, acting and live theatre. Bowie's creative output and personal archives span over five million assets. Moonage Daydream is the first film sanctioned by the Bowie estate. In 2017, the estate presented filmmaker Brett Morgen unfiltered access to Bowie's archives, including all master recordings, to create an artful and life-affirming journey through David Bowie’s creative life. Over five years, Morgen constructed a genre-defying cinematic experience that grapples with spirituality, transience, isolation, creativity, and time to reveal the celebrated icon in his own voice." Moonage Daydream is directed by the acclaimed doc filmmaker Brett Morgen, director of the films Ollie's Army, On the Ropes, The Kid Stays in the Picture, Chicago 10, Crossfire Hurricane, Cobain: Montage of Heck, and Jane previously. The film is premiering at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival this month. Neon will release Morgen's Moonage Daydream doc in select US theaters + in IMAX starting September 2022 later this year. First impression? Who's in?

- Alex Billington
Another Creepy UK Trailer for Dinner Horror 'The Feast' from Wales
The Feast UK Trailer

"Everything looks so delicious." Picturehouses in the UK has revealed another new official UK for a freaky horror film titled The Feast, filmed in Welsh and directed by Welsh filmmaker Lee Haven Jones. This first premiered at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival last year, and it already opened in the US last fall - we already posted the IFC trailer back then. This horror feature follows a young woman serving privileged guests at a dinner party in a remote house in rural Wales. However, the assembled guests do not realize they are about to eat their last supper. Something is coming for them. Annes Elwy stars as the very creepy Cadi, she's joined by Lisa Palfrey, Caroline Berry, Nia Roberts, Julian Lewis Jones, Steffan Cennydd, Sion Alun Davies, and Chris Gordon. This trailer and the new UK poster give away just a bit more than the US marketing, but there's still many mysteries to be discovered within. What is in all the food? Bon appétit.

Here's the new official UK trailer (+ poster) for Lee Haven Jones' The Feast, direct from YouTube:

The Feast UK Poster

You can also rewatch the original US trailer for Welsh horror The Feast here, to see even more footage.

Chilling horror The Feast follows a young woman serving privileged guests at a dinner party in a remote house in rural Wales. The assembled guests do not realize they are about to eat their last supper. The Feast is directed by Welsh filmmaker Lee Haven Jones, making his first narrative feature after the doc film Galesa previously, a well as a few shorts. He has also directed for numerous TV shows including episodes of "35 Diwrnod", "Casualty", "Shetland", "The Bay", "The Long Call", and "Doctor Who". The screenplay is written by Roger Williams, who also produced the film. This first premiered at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival last year, and it also played at Beyond Fest and the Telluride Horror Show. Picturehouse will debut The Feast in UK cinemas starting August 19th, 2022. It opened in the US last fall, available on VOD now. Still hungry?

- Alex Billington
Official Trailer for Health & Medical Research Doc 'The Human Trial'
The Human Trial Trailer

"I don't feel guilty, I feel hopeful!" And sometimes hope is what matters most. Abramorama has unveiled an official trailer for The Human Trial, a documentary film about trying to find & test a diabetes cure. The film follows different researchers across seven years of time, and it will be ready to debut starting in June. Chronicling the intimate stories of two patients living with Type 1 Diabetes, a physically and financially exhausting lifelong condition, it hopes for this overdue cure – needed now more than ever. Maren Badger and Greg Romero are the guinea pigs in a radical stem cell trial to cure their T1D. After it seemed like this day would never come, they navigate their emotions as they undergo this new life-altering treatment. The filmmakers reveal the mental & physical rollercoaster that scientists and patients go through as they travel along the road to a cure for the disease. This looks like an emotional and inspiring look at modern medicine.

Official trailer (+ poster) for Lisa Hepner & Guy Mossman's doc The Human Trial, from YouTube:

The Human Trial Doc Poster

The Human Trial documentary peels back the headlines to show the sweat, passion and sacrifice poured into every medical breakthrough. It interweaves the stories of the patients -- who have borne the physical and financial burdens of type 1 diabetes (T1D) — with the researchers who epitomize the struggle of innovating cures. Director Lisa Hepner — whose own T1D fuels her search for a cure — becomes the bridge between these two worlds. For seven years, Lisa and Guy embedded themselves with a biotech company in San Diego. They filmed the researchers' triumphs and failures in the lab, following them from Tokyo to Riyadh as they raised money to keep their trial going. At the same time, the husband/wife team followed two patients, the self-described "guinea pigs" at the University of Minnesota. The Human Trial is directed by acclaimed doc filmmakers Lisa Hepner (producer / director of the doc Peace by Peace: Women on the Frontlines) & Guy Mossman (a cinematographer making his feature directorial debut). Abramorama will debut The Human Trial doc in select US theaters starting on June 24th, 2022. Visit the film's official site.

- Alex Billington
Cannes 2022: Ruben Östlund Sinks Capitalism in 'Triangle of Sadness'
Triangle of Sadness

So this is what happens when you put a bunch of rich assholes on a big yacht! Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund is one of my favorite filmmakers these days - he's a genius when it comes to satire and mocking the most absurd parts of society. He makes films that say what you shouldn't say, that directly call out the bullshit, and then fling that bullshit around right back into everyone's face. Östlund already won the Palme d'Or in Cannes a few years ago with his comedy The Square, and already earned acclaim and tons of awards for Force Majuere from 2014. He's pretty much free to do whatever he wants now and his new film is titled Triangle of Sadness, which is an odd name for a film about a yacht full of rich assholes. That's because the name is a reference to the patch of skin between the eyes and the nose, most prominent in models who need to downplay their triangles of sadness. Look sharp and pretend you love capitalism, folks! All aboard.

With Force Majeure, Östlund made fun of family dynamics and family dysfunction (and toxic masculinity). With The Square, Östlund made fun of the art world and art museums and way-too-serious artists. And now with Triangle of Sadness, Östlund is making fun of capitalism and wealthy idiots, with a dash of misogyny and gender dynamics thrown in for good measure. The film is framed around one strange couple – Yaya and Carl, played by Charlbi Dean Kriek and Harris Dickinson – two superbly stunning models who can barely keep their flimsy relationship together. Carl seems to be the only half-way intelligent person in the entire film, but he never rises to the occasion and comes to realize this, because that's not what this film is really about. The rest of the two-and-a-half hour runtime is centered around a gigantic luxury yacht and all the workers and guests aboard. They end up getting into all kinds of trouble when its drunk captain, played by Woody Harrelson, stops caring about literally anything and lets the party dive right into the deep end.

Östlund is a mad genius; he's a mad scientist of cinema that philosophizes with celluloid. He's blunt and brutal with his satire, often having his characters literally state what's wrong or end up in situations that are extremely obvious references to how terrible humanity (and wealthy jackasses) can be. I really think the first 2 hours, and 15 minutes of Triangle of Sadness is utterly brilliant - he cleverly skewers capitalism and how stupid and horrible it is. One of the best scenes involves a crazy hilarious rich Russian, played by Croatian actor Zlatko Buric, arguing about communism vs capitalism with the belligerent captain while all mayhem breaks lose on the ship. But I really did not like the ending, it's such a letdown and doesn't amount to much despite everything else going on beforehand. That's all I'll say on that for now, because the rest is amazing. There are a couple of full on bell laugh scenes that Ruben is a master at crafting. And it's important to make sure you laugh at the stupidity of all of the people in this film - every last one of them. None shall be spared.

I do believe there is an important lesson in the laughter and mockery. Östlund isn't just trying to make fun of them and make us laugh and that's it – of course he's smarter than that. But there's only so much to say about the pitfalls of capitalism and wealth (that hasn't already been said many times before) and most of it involves showing how shallow and gullible and foolish rich people are. It's amusing to show this in a movie, but Östlund takes it further by developing a few additional narratives to make us understand that there are no easy solutions to these kind of problems. The film eventually ends up with a small group leftover in the third act, and much of what they go through is a lesson in how power dynamics can be flipped and changed. But even when things are flipped and changed, do people still take advantage of that power? Of course they do! Östlund wants to remind us that it isn't only about the money - sex and power are directly connected to money, and these are the real things we need to talk about and address, too. In fact, much of the first act of the film is setting up this entire revelation - "it isn't about the money!" is a line repeated over and over then.

By the end, my main issue is how it doesn't offer much in response to or any ideas about how to deal with all the problems with wealthy people. But perhaps this is a reflection of the confusion and frustration many of us are dealing with in the real world regarding: what comes after capitalism? What else is there? Is there any solution to all of these problems of wealth and inequality? Many of us have ideas, but no one seems to have any definitive answer right now. And Ruben seems to lose control and wade into these waters with Triangle of Sadness as well. Maybe he isn't sure either? He usually ends his films without a definitive resolution, so perhaps I shouldn't be so surprised. Maybe after all this satire and humor and mockery, he wasn't sure what else he could add to the conversation? Which is a different problem anyway, but nonetheless intriguing to consider. Even though I'm still disappointed by the ending, it's a viciously hilarious and fun voyage to take.

Alex's Cannes 2022 Rating: 9 out of 10 Follow Alex on Twitter - @firstshowing / Or Letterboxd - @firstshowing

- Ryden Scarnato

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Sekhar StoryLine Shekar is a retired cop but he helps the department in many investigations. Suddenly his ex-wife passes away. Shekar was in sought so he starts an investigation, but he finds out that his wife’s death was connected with the death of his daughter. Can Sekhar solve the mystery? Release Date: May 20, 2022 …

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Prithviraj is an upcoming Akshay Kumar movie produced by Yash Raj Films. It’s a historical war film which depicts the story of a fearless king Prithviraj. The Sultan of Ghurid Empir Muhammad Ghori wants to take over the kingdom of Prithviraj. But you will see how Prithviraj managed to Defeat Muhammad Ghori in the war …

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Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness StoryLine After waiting for the last 8 years, Marvel has released the 2nd version of Doctor strange named “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”. As we all know, Loki was the first to start the multiverse concept, but in this movie, you will get the whole experience of …

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Episode 6 Story Line It’s the last episode of Moon Knight season 1; in this episode, a new superhero has been introduced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Layla is now the Egyptian superhero Scarlet Scarab; she got his power from the goddess cave. Also, moon knight is now alive again & Ammit is free. Now …

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Heropanti 2 Story Line Heropanti 2 features Tiger Shroff, Tara Sutaria, and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. It’s an action film directed by Ahmed Khan. The story of the film is about a boy named Babloo. He is a hacker and a secret agent. He was putten on a mission to stop a scammer. But the question can …

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- Christian Toto
‘Bob’s Burgers Movie’ Brings Belcher Clan Back from Creative Abyss

“The Simpsons Movie” hit theaters in 2007, after the show’s iconic peak but before its sad transformation into a DNC talking point.

“The Bob’s Burgers Movie,” delayed due to the pandemic, arrives as the source material wheezes its way through its 12th season. The once-mighty show is now a shell of its former self, peddling tepid plot lines and stale gags unworthy of its past self.

The “Movie” version revives the corpse-like series, at least for a good half hour. The souped-up animation retains the show’s visual motif while upgrading it in subtle ways. The jokes? They’re intermittently sharp, and the show’s family dysfunction remains endearing.

The film opens strong, but once the mechanics of its mystery unfold the franchise shows its age anew.

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The latest disaster to strike the Belcher’s family restaurant? A sinkhole opens up just outside the store front window at the worst possible time. Bob and Linda Belcher (H. Jon Benjamin and John Roberts) need a loan extension to keep their business afloat. That’s hard to do when customers can’t even reach the front door.

Plus, the hole reveals a long dead body, and the family’s unctuous landlord, Mr. Fischoeder (Kevin Kline, a perennial delight), is a prime suspect.

Can the Belchers crack the case, patch up the sinkhole and save the restaurant? More importantly, can the film squeeze in the show’s best recurring characters – Teddy (Larry Murphy), Gayle (Megan Mullaly) and Regular-Sized Rudy (Brian Huskey)?

RELATED: 11 of the Very Best ‘Bob’s Burgers’ Episodes

The film’s opening number gives the saga a jolt, suggesting the show’s fading energy needed a theatrical boost all along. The “Bob’s Burgers” songs are generally a mixed bag, but their chutzpah alone makes them vital to the show’s success.

Sometimes similar happens here, although the musical moments prove maddeningly infrequent.

The mystery afoot offers another roadblock. Yes, we need a richer story to carry a feature-length presentation. But much of the drama involves a new character, Courtney (David Wain), and he lacks the comic enthusiasm of recurring favorites. We’d rather spend more time with Teddy, the show’s not-so-secret weapon.

Anyone new to the “Bob’s Burgers” franchise will quickly be lost. Why do we care about this weird family? And what’s with the girl wearing a rabbit hat? There’s little effort to ingratiate newbies, and the very nature of a series extension like this could confuse the uninitiated.

Still, it’s hard not to care about characters brought to life by gifted stars like Eugene Mirman (Gene) and Kristen Schaal (Louise).

The best way to enjoy this “Movie?” Sample some of the show’s very best installments, and then circle back to the theatrical version.

 

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The film’s plot demands push Bob and Linda off screen for far too long, and reliable scene stealers like Teddy, Rudy and Tammy get short changed.

Still, the family’s odd comic rhythms remain blissfully intact, and it’s hard not to root for a family that perpetually gets dealt a bad hand.

They’re the American Dream sprung to life, even though said dream get dashed on a regular basis.

That alone makes “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” worth a look, but it’s best savored by fans hungry for a taste of the show’s early seasons.

HiT or Miss: “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” evokes the show’s singular charms, but it can’t maintain the giddy fun established in the first, engaging act.

The post ‘Bob’s Burgers Movie’ Brings Belcher Clan Back from Creative Abyss appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto

It didn’t take long for GLAAD to weigh in on Ricky Gervais’ new Netflix special, “SuperNature.”

The hour-long set features jokes tweaking the trans community in the first five minutes. And while Gervais makes a plea later in the show to support and defend gay and trans rights, it wasn’t enough to stop the flow of furious think pieces targeting the “Office” superstar.

GLAAD led that charge.

The veteran rights group sent out a four-Tweet message on social media hours after Netflix released the special. The tweets blasted Gervais for telling “dangerous,” inaccurate jokes.

We watched the Ricky Gervais “comedy” special on Netflix so you don’t have to. It’s full of graphic, dangerous, anti-trans rants masquerading as jokes. He also spouts anti-gay rhetoric & spreads inaccurate information about HIV. 1/4

— GLAAD (@glaad) May 24, 2022

GLAAD exists to support and defend the rights of gay and lesbian individuals. Given that mission, it’s not surprising it lashed out at Gervais, even though the material in question consisted of jokes, not policy statements.

Still, the group isn’t always as vocal as expected. In fact, it often goes silent when it seems like speaking out is exactly what is should do.

And politics likely plays a role in these moments.

Take the case of Jimmy Kimmel. The far-Left host of “Jimmy Kimmel Live” once sparred on Twitter with Fox News superstar Sean Hannity. As part of the exchange, Kimmel weaponized homophobic jokes to belittle the outspoken conservative.

This Tweet is still up.

Don’t worry – just keep tweeting – you’ll get back on top! (or does Trump prefer you on bottom?) Either way, keep your chin up big fella..XO https://t.co/R4QJCoGYCL

— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) April 6, 2018

It wasn’t his only like-minded Tweet on the subject.

When your clown makeup rubs off on Trump’s ass, does it make his butt look like a Creamsicle? https://t.co/DEhmfOh0Hn

— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) April 6, 2018

Yet GLAAD didn’t address the matter, even though the social media slap fest earned plenty of media attention. This reporter reached out to GLAAD’s media relations arm directly on the matter at the time of the Tweets.

No response. It also refused to comment on far-Left comic Chelsea Handler’s homophobic Twitter joke.

GLAAD similarly went silent recently when Warner Bros. censored “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” to soften the film’s gay subplot for Chinese audiences. The editing only removed a few seconds of screen time, but it represented Hollywood’s latest capitulation to Chinese censors.

It seemed the perfect moment for GLAAD to defend free expression and the need for more gay themes to be embraced on the big screen.

Yet the organization stood down.

Gervais leans to the Left, politically speaking, but he’s primarily an observational comic. Did his mostly apolitical mien make him a richer target for GLAAD, or is the outrage genuine?

The post GLAAD Calls Out Ricky Gervais, Ignored Homophobic Kimmel Jokes appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
Gervais Laps Chappelle with Trans Jokes in ‘SuperNature

Is this why Netflix took that public stand against Cancel Culture?

The streamer knew it had a Ricky Gervais comedy special in the works, and that material might make the imbroglio over Dave Chappelle’s trans content look mild in comparison.

Gervais’s “SuperNature,” out May 24, dives directly into trans humor within the first five minutes. It starts with some faux attacks on female comics, for ironic effect before going where even Chappelle didn’t dare with his 2021 Netflix comedy special, “The Closer.”

Buckle in.

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“Women … not all women, I mean the old fashioned women, the ones with wombs,” those f***ing dinosaurs,” he said of those who might be upset at a bit involving a dead child.

“I love the new women, they’re great … the ones with beards and [penises].”

The “dinosaur” women are upset that the new model want to use their bathrooms, he said, as if they weren’t authentically female. 

“They are ladies! Look at their pronouns,” he cracked.

Gervais has been a free speech warrior for some time, slamming Cancel Culture before it was cool. Both he and Netflix will need solid spines to endure the attacks to follow.

And they are coming, no doubt.

His pretend conversations dig even deeper into material sure to be referenced in the days to come.

“What about this person isn’t a lady?” he asked as part of a pretend conversation.

“Well, his penis.

Her penis, you [bleeping] bigot.”

There’s more.

“What if he rapes me?”

“What is she rapes you, you f***ing TERF whore!”

Gervais then shreds “woke comedy,” as if he hasn’t triggered all the usual suspects enough as is.

“I tried to watch a little bit of it, and I decided I’d rather watch Louis CK masturbate,” he said.

“SuperNature” is a full-on assault on woke culture, something he’s done in fits and starts but never with this ferocity … and humor.

And yes, “SuperNature” is aggressively funny, thoughtful and calculated. Of course, Gervais lays into faith, a favorite target, but in a way that’s less harsh than, say, Bill Maher, on the subject.

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A long segment on cats gives way to a swipe at Muslim patriarchy – more forbidden terrain. Gervais has two modes – a first-class comic, toothless but on target – and the satirist who draws blood with every third syllable.

“Coronavirus couldn’t hold a candle to AIDS,” for example, on a cataclysmic scale. Later, he shows the audience a baby photo of Hitler, fawning over the lad’s cute mug. What he says next is likely too much for even his most ardent fans.

That’s Ricky Gervais in a nutshell. He’s trying to be outrageous, and in the process find the humanity within those dark crevices.

“Netflix already bought this. F*** ’em,” he says at one point.

Near the show’s end Gervais does the obligatory attempt at fence mending on the trans front.

“Full disclosure: In real life of course I support trans rights. I support all human rights, and trans rights are human rights. Live your best life. Use your preferred pronouns. Be the gender that you feel you are. But meet me halfway, ladies. Lose the [male genitals]. That’s all I’m saying.”

Chappelle did Gervais one better with “The Closer,” telling a beautiful story of his connection with a trans comic. That didn’t save Chappelle from the Cancel Culture attacks.

Gervais’ plea will similarly fail.

Gervais recently vowed to get canceled with his current stand-up tour hook. He may just get his best chance at just that with “SuperNature.”

The post Gervais Laps Chappelle with Trans Jokes in ‘SuperNature appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
Is ‘Mission: Impossible’ the Last Real Movie Franchise?

Every third film at your local movieplex is part of a Hollywood franchise.

That’s an exaggeration, but only a slight one.

Franchises reign supreme in mainstream Hollywood. You can change the actor playing Spider-Man, for example, but the franchise itself endures. And brand recognition is huge in the current film market, the reason we’ll soon see movies based on a Mattel doll, Hot Wheels cars and more product-driven fare.

They, in turn, will become franchises if the box office stars align.

Not all franchises are built the same, though.

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The James Bond saga, as durable as any over the past 50 years, has never been so wobbly. We don’t have a new 007 yet, and we might not for some time. Plus, chances are whoever is chosen will lead a series leaning heavier into woke than before.

The “Fast & Furious” saga is clearly spent, creatively speaking, but we’ll get two more installments just the same.

What about the MCU? Yes, it keeps generating cash, and gobs of it. Each new film reminds us how superior the earlier efforts remain. And what’s the point of the MCU’s fourth phase, anyway?

And then there’s “Mission: Impossible.”

RELATED: ‘Top Gun: Maverick: No Woke Just Nostalgia and Thrills 

The spy saga based on the classic TV series began in 1996, and the first three installments proved effective, not revelatory. Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt lacked Bond’s panache, no matter how many times he saved the day.

It was just another action series, albeit one led by its ageless star.

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Then Brad Bird, the mind behind classic Pixar films like “The Incredibles,” took a crack at the formula. The 2011 hit “Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol” introduced Hunt’s support team – Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames (a recurring character given broader screen time) – and juiced the action elements to Bondian levels.

Voila, the franchise found its voice after three game tries. And it’s only grown stronger from there.

Why else would Team Paramount green light two new sequels, shot back to back, to be released in 2023 and 2024?

It’ll be hard to top the stupefying stunts seen in 2018’s “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” but darned if the trailer for the next installment, “Dead Reckoning Part One,” doesn’t tease just that.

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So why does this franchise loom above the rest?

It starts with Cruise, an aggressively apolitical star who keeps his private life private (at least he does lately). Cruise is in charge of his cinematic destiny, and he meticulously picks the talent behind the scenes.

The next two “M:I” installments are being directed by Christopher McQuarrie,” the auteur behind the last two sequels.

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Plus, the new “M:I” formula gives the series its comic heart. Pegg is a natural scene stealer, and Rhames can do comedy and deliver gravitas in a single scene.

Add recurring players like Rebecca Ferguson and Vanessa Kirby, and you have a template built to last.

The New York Times recently dubbed Cruise the “last real movie star.” We might say the same about his signature franchise.

The post Is ‘Mission: Impossible’ the Last Real Movie Franchise? appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
Chappelle’s Hollywood Bowl Attacker: No Regrets

The far Left’s response to speech it doesn’t like is simple. Harass. Silence. And, in select cases, violence.

The formula plays out repeatedly on college campuses, with little significant response from academia or liberal leaders. They even made a movie about the problem. 

The fascist, far-Left Antifa operates under a similar philosophy with scant media coverage beyond one brave reporter who suffered a brain bleed following an Antifa assault.

Is it any wonder we watched that blueprint on display earlier this month at the Hollywood Bowl?

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Los Angeles resident Isaiah Lee jumped on the iconic stage May 3 while Dave Chappelle was entertaining the crowd. Lee tackled Chappelle before several members of the comic’s entourage separated the two.

Now, we’re learning why Lee attacked the celebrated stand-up.

Lee, 23, exclusively told The New York Post he was “triggered” by both Chappelle’s allegedly transphobic routines and cracks made earlier in the show about pedophilia. Lee shared that Chappelle asked him why he rushed the stage once he was subdued.

“I wanted him to know that next time, he should consider first running his material by people it could affect.”

Lee appears to be a troubled soul, something his own lawyer confirmed. Is his rationale much different than the social justice warriors insisting comics only tell select jokes about select communities?

While soft-on-crime LA District Attorney George Gascon said Lee’s actions weren’t worthy of a felony, the incident resurrected a knife attack Lee allegedly made on a former roommate. That charge, Lee said, could see him behind bars for 15 years, if not longer.

Still, he said he doesn’t regret what happened because he saw it as an opportunity to speak out about homelessness, LGBTQ rights and child sex abuse that oftentimes serve as fodder for comedians.

Chappelle’s 2021 Netflix special, “The Closer,” featured jokes tied to the trans community.

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The gags inflamed select Netflix employees and their allies, but Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos stood by the comedian, agreeing to more projects with the superstar stand-up.

More recently, Netflix announced it wouldn’t change its content based on complaints by company employees, a possible reaction to the Chappelle controversy.

The post Chappelle’s Hollywood Bowl Attacker: No Regrets appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
Woke Reporters Desperate to Keep Cancel Culture Alive

Cancel Culture can intimidate a comic in more ways than one.

It pores over past jokes, even those uttered decades ago, to find the one gag that will derail a career. Social justice scolds, the Cancel Culture shock troops, scour social media to find inappropriate quips.

Even sharing the stage with a “problematic” comic can be “problematic” to the Cancel Culture crowd. And, to be sure, many journalists belong to said crowd.

This week, comedian John Mulaney performed in Columbus, Ohio as part of his “From Scratch” tour. Mulaney’s profile is on the rise, though his material is generally mainstream and apolitical. His recent Netflix specials, including “Kid Gorgeous” and “The Comeback Kid,” amplified that his power. 

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Columbus happens to be Dave Chappelle’s home town, and the Netflix superstar hopped on stage as part of Mulaney’s show. Imagine arguably the greatest living comedian appearing, unannounced, to share a few wisecracks at a show.

Who could complain? Try Variety, Uproxx, The Wrap and more.

Each covered the event in question because Chappelle told “transphobic” jokes during his set. The Wrap questioned Mulaney’s “nice guy” reputation as a result, even though it didn’t even mention the “transphobic” material in question.

Nor did the other two sites.

Mulaney’s crime? He “condoned” the Chappelle material, as if he were a parent and his wayward child behaved badly at school.

RELATED: Big Tech Is Crushing Conservative Comedy

To the Cancel Culture crowd, sharing a stage with a fellow comic means pre-approving every line of his or her material. Or, at the very least, apologizing if the “wrong” joke gets told.

The far-Left Wrap, which fully supports Cancel Culture, used a few cranky Tweets as proof of Mulaney’s thought crimes.

“My favorite part of tonight was when dave chappelle ambushed us at the john mulaney show, told a bunch of transphobic jokes, a massive stadium of people laughed, and then john mulaney hugged him at the end,” wrote one user.

Now, here comes the official bullying: “Reps for Mulaney did not immediately respond to request for comment from TheWrap.”

They want the Apology Tour from Mulaney. They crave it. And they won’t be happy without it.

RELATED: Is Hollywood Reaching the Final Stages of Cancel Culture?

The Variety report confirmed Mulaney went so far as to embrace Chappelle after his opening set.

According to attendees, Chappelle appeared as a surprise opener, and told jokes targeting the transgender community. Mulaney reportedly came onstage and hugged Chappelle at the conclusion of the opening set.

Variety also applied its official bullying tactics: “Representatives of Mulaney and Chappelle did not immediately respond to requests for comment.”

Over at the full-on woke Uproxx, they admit the material scored with the crowd but left a microscopic few fuming. Except they don’t refer to this microscopic contingent as “microscopic.”

The news sites in question seem out of sync with their readers. Here’s a sampling of reactions from TheWrap.com’s Facebook posting of the story in question.

Imagine going to a John mulaney show and getting angry that Dave freaking chapelle showed up and started performing. Just wow.

News flash all comedians and most Americans condone Dave Chappelles material. Dave is the Goat

Stop trying to censor ART! Its subjective expression. Maybe its supposed to make you uncomfortable.

Uproxx similarly got shellacked on its Facebook page.

Show me on the doll where the joke hurt you.

I love how not a single tweet quotes what he said. Leaving me to believe it’s misinterpreted just like the Netflix special. You know the one where he actually didn’t say anything transphobic but every page kept insisting it was while at the same time not quoting what he actually said….I’m a big stand up comedian fan and all my favorite comedians are black. And every single one of them make jokes about white people. I’ve never got offended and “hurt” by it. People love jokes until it’s one that has some relevance to them.

Absolutely heartbreaking. I can barely believe that a stadium of 12k+ people laughed at a comedian telling jokes. Thank god for the half-dozen or so tweets enlightening us to this tragedy.

So what was the cruel, heartless joke Chappelle told that caused such a kerfuffle?

Several news reports shared a Tweet from someone who claims to have attended the show in question.

“I mean, it wasn’t a gun, it was a knife! A gun that identifies as a knife?” He then paused, smiled a bit, and moved on quickly.

– The homophobic joke was him saying “maybe you two are gay, I don’t know, nothing wrong with that if that’s the case.”

— Reggie Dill Pickle-May (Not Reggie, Duh) (@FillsAnime) May 21, 2022

This “outrage” arrives at a curious time in the culture.

A few months ago, woke comic Patton Oswalt similarly appeared with Chappelle on stage, but later served up a mealy-mouthed apology via his Instagram account.

More recently, the woke mob has shown signs of sizable weakness.

Netflix not only declared its support for free expression, but it began canceling woke projects from progressives like Meghan Markle and Ibram X. Kendi. The launch of CNN+, brimming with woke personalities, ended less than a month into its run.

Plus, recent cancellation attempts aimed at Chappelle and Joe Rogan appear to have failed.

Hollywood journalists, though, would rather see Cancel Culture alive and well. And they’ll do whatever they can to keep the cultural scourge going.

They may not get their wish if current cultural trends continue.

The post Woke Reporters Desperate to Keep Cancel Culture Alive appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Barry Wurst
Here’s What (Almost) Saves ‘Jaws The Revenge’

The fourth and famously awful “Jaws The Revenge” (1987) turns 35 this summer, and it often comes up as one of the worst sequels ever made.

It’s actually slightly better than its atrocious reputation, offers oodles of entertainment value and even has some touches that were ahead of its time. It’s also a movie where a visibly mechanical shark roars before it attacks.

Bad Movie Aficionados, apply your sunblock, adjust your Ray Bans and watch the seas closely.

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“Jaws The Revenge” begins with Shark Vision, as we have POV shots of Amity Island from both the bottom of the ocean and via an impossible vantage point.The creature would have to be standing straight up to have that perspective.

It’s not the first time the movie defies logic to absurd (and hilarious) degrees.

The opening credits end with the extreme close up of a dead fish, a visual metaphor so on the nose, I wonder if the filmmakers were hinting to the audience that they knew what the end result would be like.

This is the movie where Ellen Brody (Lorraine Gary), the widow of Roy Scheider’s Sheriff Brody, flees from Amity Island for a vacation in the Caribbean…where the shark has followed her. Yes, the exact same shark that eats one of her sons (in a wretched first act scene) is the same that swims thousands of miles to eat her, and the rest of her apparently delicious family, while on vacation.

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Playing Michael, the last of the Brody boys, is Lance Guest, who’s quite good but lacks the grit to work as Scheider’s son. There’s also Mario Van Peebles and Lynn Whitfield, terrific actors stuck here playing Caribbean cliches.

I wonder if being in this was the best thing for Van Peebles, since he later gave up on character roles and took to directing the landmark “New Jack City” (1991). Van Peebles’ father, the late, great Melvin Van Peebles, has a quick cameo appearance at the midpoint.

Michael de Guzman’s screenplay sprinkles awkward dialogue throughout, though my favorite is “I’ve always wanted to make love to an angry welder…I’ve dreamed of this since I was a child.”

The line is supposed to be funny, but it’s still a bizarre piece of dialogue. By the way, the name of the boat that Ellen sails while facing the shark is called “Neptune’s Folly.” Again, were the filmmakers sending us a distress signal?

FAST FACT: The 1975 blockbusters “Jaws” earned a whopping $260 million at the U.S. box office, changing summer movies forever. The fourth film in the saga, “Jaws The Revenge,” hauled in just $20 million.

The Michael Small score is quite good, even as it tries really hard to make the classic John Williams score from the original “Jaws” sound new. For all the things about “Jaws The Revenge” that have emerged infamous, it’s the editing that is especially irritating: the scenes of human interaction are good and well-paced, but the shark attack scenes all feel, at best, like works in progress.

When the shark pounces on a victim, there’s always a quick montage of his teeth moving and it’s typically covered with blood even before it makes contact with a victim. Why? Also, the cuts during the final confrontation render the last move against the shark incomprehensible.

I still have no idea, after all these years, what happens to the shark during its final moments (an explosion? Impalement? Another mechanical shark breakdown?).

The shark appears rubbery and barely moves. A scene where the shark pulls a victim off a flotation device and starts chomping away was one that I found disturbing in my youth. Looking at it now, it’s high camp, as the actress thrashing about in the mouth of the rubber shark is doing all the work, while the shark appears low on fuel.

“Jaws The Revenge” isn’t unwatchable and certainly entertains – the scenes of Michael and Jake diving for snails and having frequent run ins with the shark are fun.

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I like the trick of uncapping the air tank, in order to quickly zip away from the shark. In fact, these scenes are the basis for the enjoyable “Jaws” Nintendo game that I used to spend hours playing (and make no mistake – that game was based on this movie and not Steven Spielberg’s classic).

Also, while we’re addressing the associations this makes to late 20th century pop culture, it must be said that “Jaws The Revenge” is the least likely to feature a dance set to “You’ve Got It All” by The Jets and yet, it’s in the film.

The casting of Gary in the lead was heavily criticized as nepotism, as her husband was the head of Universal Pictures. Looking at it today, it’s a touch that was ahead of its time.

Gary playing an older, stronger and knowledgeable survivor, being empowered and brave enough to face the monster, is what “Halloween Kills” (and the forthcoming “Halloween Ends”) and “Terminator: Dark Fate,” to name a few, have utilized as the drive of their narratives.

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Having Ellen Brody face the shark that has terrorized her family isn’t a bad idea, and Gary is good in this. The problem is that she’s facing a shark that has followed her from Amity to the Bahamas, because “This Time, It’s Personal,” the movie poster tagline that, unlike the film, has become a classic.

“Jaws The Revenge” had an okay opening, then quickly submerged after word of mouth kicked in. It spawned a bestselling paperback novelization, which I’ve been told fleshes out the story and even rationalizes how the shark can swim so far, in so little time, all to eat a specific victim (one word: voodoo).

I’m not defending “Jaws The Revenge” as a misunderstood classic. Nope, it’s bad and hilariously so. That said, this was far from the worst film of 1987: the Bill Cosby led “Leonard Part 6,” the Glad Bags sponsored “Million Dollar Mystery,” the cringe-inducing “Mannequin” and the punishing “Garbage Pail Kids Movie” are all from the same year and so much worse.

RELATED: Pop Confessions: Why My Son Needed to See ‘Jaws’

This is a Michael Caine master class: he’s so good in this and he really shouldn’t be, as he’s willing to literally go down with the ship alongside his co-stars.

The conviction and natural ability Caine possess as an actor is all over this. His character is named Hoagie, he is the film’s love interest and his lines are every bit as dumb as his co-stars, but Caine’s abilities as an actor elevate his work.

It’s also that Caine, even at this point, is such a pro and had been hired to act in a few clunkers. Caine infamously won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for “Hannah and Her Sisters” and couldn’t make the ceremony, because he was busy shooting this.

“Jaws The Revenge” came during that period in his career when he was making turkeys like “Beyond the Poseidon Adventure” and “The Island” right alongside “Educating Rita” and “Dressed to Kill.” It was after his second Oscar for “The Cider House Rules” where the quality of the roles and films finally became consistent.

RELATED: HiT Rewind: ‘Jaws 2’

Nevertheless, there’s much to learn about film acting from observing Caine’s commitment, professionalism, and the lived-in weight he gave to any role.

He actually has a moment here where, after evading the shark, he declares “The breath on that thing!” Acting students of all ages, watch and learn – this is what a working actor looks like, giving his all and experience to a film and role that doesn’t deserve him.

Spielberg’s “Jaws” continues to be cribbed from shamelessly and holds up brilliantly. As for this unfortunate but amusingly bad entry, I suggest we acknowledge it as a camp classic but recognize the true Jaws IV, “Deep Blue Sea” (1999), where at least the sharks look real.

The post Here’s What (Almost) Saves ‘Jaws The Revenge’ appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
17 Killer Elvis Costello Song Lyrics

Many consider Bob Dylan to be our greatest living songwriter.

Others contenders, like Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder and Brian Wilson, have their wise defenders, too. 

Few pen lyrics as tart, and as unforgettable, as Declan MacManus, AKA Elvis Costello.

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The prolific musician never rose to the commercial heights of those aforementioned stars. A quick look at his best songs, though, and it’s easy to see why he belongs in their rareified company.

Here are 17 examples of Costello at his lyrical best. Some stanzas soar, others scorch. They’re all unmistakably Elvis and brutally unforgettable.

“Possession” (“Get Happy!!”)

Now you’re sending me your best wishes Signed with love and vicious kisses You lack lust, you’re so lacklustre Is that all the strength you can muster

“Strict Time” (“Trust”)

Thinking of grand larceny Smoking the everlasting cigarette of chastity

“From a Whisper to a Scream” (“Trust”)

Taking ev’ry word she says just like an open invitation But the power of persuasion is no match for anticipation

“Human Hands” (“Imperial Bedroom”) 

Whenever I put my foot in my mouth and you begin to doubt That it’s you that I’m dreaming about Do I have to draw you a diagram? All I ever want is just to fall into your human hands

“I Hope You’re Happy Now” (“Blood and Chocolate”)

He’s got all the things you need and some that you will never But you make him sound like frozen food, his love will last forever

“Brilliant Mistake” (“King of America”)

He thought he was the King of America Where they pour Coca Cola just like vintage wine

“The Big Light” (“King of America”)

When the hangover this morning had a personality And I cast my shattered mind over selected memories I didn’t even touch the light switch so I knew I’d never see The Haggard face that would be staring back at me

“Jack of All Parades” (“King of America”)

Now the way that I feel is no longer news You know my love and how to refuse it Cause you know where the door is And how to use it Oh you know you do

“Veronica” (“Spike”)

Well she used to have a carefree mind of her own and a delicate look in her eye These days I’m afraid she’s not even sure if her name is Veronica

“Other Side of Summer” (“Mighty Like a Rose”)

Was it a millionaire who said “imagine no possessions”? A poor little schoolboy who said “we don’t need no lessons”

“New Lace Sleeves” (“Trust”)

Good manners and bad breath will get you nowhere

“Couldn’t Call It Unexpected No. 4” (“Mighty Like a Rose”)

We’ll I’m the lucky goon Who composed this tune from birds arranged on the high wire

“Sulky Girl” (“Brutal Youth”)

I saw you practising your blackmail faces Suddenly you’re talking like a duchess But you’re still a waitress

“Episode of Blonde” (“When I Was Cruel”)

Did her green eyes seduce you and make you get so weak? Was there fire engine red that she left upon your cheek?

“No Hiding Place” (“Momofuku”)

You can say anything you want to In your fetching cloak of anonymity Are you feeling out of breath now? In your desperate pursuit of infamy

“All the Rage” (“Brutal Youth”)

So don’t try to touch my heart. It’s darker than you think. And don’t try to read my mind, Because it’s full of disappearing ink

“Human Hands” (“Imperial Bedroom”)

Tighter and tighter I hold you tightly, You know I love you more than slightly.

The post 17 Killer Elvis Costello Song Lyrics appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Barry Wurst
Why Sam Raimi’s Corporate-Verse’ Take on ‘Doctor Strange’ Disappoints

Sam Raimi’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is just barely a Raimi film, and it’s a big problem.

While the film’s producers and entertainment sites are heralding the giant box office and some of claiming this is The Best Marvel Movie Ever (until the next one), few are considering that Raimi, one of the most innovative filmmakers of the late 20th century whose films are consistently enjoyable and occasionally brilliant, is working here as a director for hire.

Far worse, there are traces of Raimi throughout the latest Doctor Strange entry, but this is an artist restrained, working for a giant money machine, akin to a five-star chef hired to work at Subway. If you’re fine with that, then you’ve never eaten at Subway.

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The films begins in the midst of a giant spectacle, as Strange (still played by Benedict Cumberbatch, whose bad American accent is growing on me) and the mysterious America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) are bouncing around floating platforms, in a space between worlds, the first of many robotic action scenes that resemble antic video games.

The Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) is still at large, now a threat and can possess the body of her former self.

I’m not a fan of “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” to put it mildly. Memories of it consist mostly of whirling, swirling CGI, omnipresent in nearly every scene, actors giving glib, half-there performances and a smug helping of fan service in lieu of proper storytelling.

To put it mildly, the still-in-theaters “Everything Everywhere All At Once” is worlds better than this, equally staggering in its ideas and ability to visualize the impossible, but also able to emotionally engage and explore issues that can’t be resolved by walking through a magical portal.

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Yes, I understood the plot of “Madness,” though I found it annoying that the movie (and Disney, in particular) demand that you not only have seen every single Marvel movie prior, but also Disney+’s “Wanda Vision” and be familiar with classic characters who are tossed onscreen for the first time with big name actors confirming years-long internet rumors.

It’s a lot to ask of a viewer. This isn’t a multiverse, it’s a Corporate-Verse.

You don’t need a Cloak of Levitation but you sure as hell need a Disney+ subscription and hours and hours of spare time to follow everything. This is why origin stories still work best, as its Once Upon a Time, not And Then THIS Happened!

Among the moments here that were especially baffling is how the corpse of a dead character from another universe has been lugged atop a New York skyrise, just to be buried moments later. Or how a single member of an army of sorcerers can be so easily spooked by Scarlet Witch. Or pondering how long it will take before Hot Topic makes a T-shirt with this oft-repeated keeper: “I’m not a Monster…I’m a Mother” (coincidentally, the movie opened on Mother’s Day weekend, a weird synergy).

There’s also the scene of an Illuminati meeting, which begins with the buzz of a half dozen surprise reveals but winds up feeling like weirdly overlong cameo appearance convention, which overstays its welcome.

RELATED: How Tim Burton’s ‘Batman’ Made the MCU Possible

I won’t spoil anything but want to note that the biggest name in this sequence (and the movie, it turns out) is giving a morose performance without any context, about as fun as meeting a rock star legend on a bad day.

One of the rare touches of wisdom on hand: there’s no reprise of Tilda Swinton’s absurd miscasting as The Ancient One. I enjoyed the tumble through a flurry of wild-looking Multiverses, though have to grouse that, instead of settling on the most interesting looking ones, much of the film is set in an alternate New York with lots more trees.

Big deal. New York with more trees is just Denver in the summertime.

 

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Meanwhile, Rachel McAdams, Michael Stuhlbarg and Chiwetel Ejiofor, all terrific elsewhere, are still wasting their time in this franchise, literally standing around and spouting exposition. I like Marvel movies, but a common flaw is how they often waste the time of overqualified actors (such as Idris Elba or Annette Bening).

This brings us back to Raimi, whose prior film was also a Disney behemoth, the 2013 hit and miss “Oz the Great and Powerful.” Despite the director’s name appearing here and only once in the end credits, deeming this “a Sam Raimi movie,” that is, at best, a sign of optimism.

Would it be out of the question to just call it a Kevin Feige Enterprise or a Disney/Marvel Production?

There are moments here that visually and tonally reflect Raimi’s trademark innovations, but there’s not nearly enough of them (and no, Bruce Campbell’s embarrassing cameo appearance, the dumbest since Dan Aykroyd popped up as a cab driver in the 2016 “Ghostbusters,” is not a highpoint).

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is every bit as bombastic, corporation-driven and heartless as Raimi’s “Spider-Man 3,” which was also a giant box office hit but creatively unsteady.

It’s especially disappointing that the new film doesn’t work, when you consider it’s been 20 years since Raimi’s 2002 “Spider-Man” (along with the 2000 “X-Men”) helped kicked the comic book genre as an event movie into first gear.

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Yet, Raimi has often stepped away from making his trademark films, notably returning only intermittently to “The Evil Dead” (in the form of directing the “Ash Versus the Evil Dead” pilot and producing the excellent 2013 Fede Alvarez remake).

He’s spent nearly a decade stretching himself, making (to name a few) a baseball drama (“For the Love of the Game”), a western (“The Quick and the Dead”) and a neo-noir (“A Simple Plan,” Raimi’s masterpiece). It’s fun to witness Raimi’s occasionally use of soaring camera moves, sound manipulations and nods at genre in the latest Doctor Strange entry.

Yet, there’s also moments of his trademark cinematic genius in “Crimewave” (1986), the post- original “Evil Dead” farce that was brutally altered by its studio and subsequently disowned by Raimi.

Marvel movies are reliably enjoyable but only a few of them offer the voice of their filmmakers, coming off as expensive projects that require fidelity to the Marvel mission over any expression of a directorial voice. A few managed to rise above this, particularly Ryan Coogler (“Black Panther”), James Gunn (the “Guardians of the Galaxy” films), Shane Black (“Iron Man 3”), Taika Waititi (“Thor Ragnarok”) and Destin Daniel Cretton (“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”) but most directors of these films have their voices, cinematic and otherwise, entirely muzzled in favor of franchise requirements.

Good luck finding, for example, anything more than a whiff of Kenneth Branagh’s distinctly theatrical touches to “Thor” (2011).

RELATED: Critic v. Critic: The Great Scorsese-MCU Debate

Now that the boffo box office has declared “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness” a no-surprise blockbuster, all the previous mentions that this was formerly a Scott Derrickson film and that, according to several sources, “most of” the film was re-shot, have vanished like a bystander of a Thanos finger snap.

Who cares if this Raimi-lite, when you’ve got Phase Four of the MCU to worry about, right? Wrong.

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is an overcooked turkey (albeit a bursting at the seams, money-making turkey) and pulling Raimi into this mess doesn’t justify its many missteps, both on screen and preestablished in a Disney boardroom.

I’m giving “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” One and a Half Stars (out of five). On the other hand, lets end on a positive note:

Here are five essential Sam Raimi movies: “A Simple Plan” (1998), “Darkman” (1990), “Army of Darkness” (1993), “The Gift” (2000), “Evil Dead II” (1986) and “The Quick and the Dead” (1995).

Raimi is an artist in any universe, let’s hope he makes it out alive of the Marvel Multiverse soon.

The post Why Sam Raimi’s Corporate-Verse’ Take on ‘Doctor Strange’ Disappoints appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
Would George Carlin Be Bill Maher … or Howard Stern 2.0 … Today?

George Carlin’s progressive bona fides are no secret, but he never went the full Colbert.

The late comedian hammered the Religious Right, President Ronald Reagan and other GOP-friendly targets in his celebrated career.

He also slammed liberal sacred cows, too.

Carlin once dubbed environmentalists “self-righteous” souls who “don’t care about the planet,” a bit seen in the new HBO docuseries “George Carlin’s American Dream.”

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Carlin’s genius didn’t make exceptions for any one side. He leaned aggressively to the Left, of course, but he tweaked his fellow liberals if the opportunity arose. Hypocrisy, then and now, is bipartisan. Carlin understood that better than anyone.

Sound like somebody else on the pop culture radar?

Bill Maher routinely mocks his fellow progressives, mostly via his weekly HBO series “Real Time with Bill Maher.” Maher savages woke culture, Identity Politics and the modern Left’s hunger to censor speech.

He even sat down for a smart, civil debate with The Daily Wire co-founder Ben Shapiro. That act alone set Maher apart from most progressive peers. Remember what happened when actor/producer Mark Duplass shared a pro-Shapiro sentiment on social media?

Carlin is back in the cultural conversation thanks to “George Carlin’s American Dream,” debuting May 20. The two-part documentary, co-directed by Judd Apatow, recalls the groundbreaking career of one of stand-up’s brightest stars.

The docuseries not only examines his formative years but how he, according to the filmmakers, predicted much of the cultural chaos churning 14 years after his death.

It helps that so much of Carlin’s “stuff” is timeless, to his everlasting credit.

RELATED: Big Tech Is Crushing Conservative Comedy

The New York Times recently noted the current battle over Carlin’s legacy. Progressives share his bits blasting pro-lifers, for example. Conservatives, in turn, suggest he’d recoil over vaccine mandates and anti-speech measures like the failed Disinformation Governance Board.

Both sides offer solid arguments, though it’s clear Carlin would align with Democrats on most modern issues. He railed against “white men” in his earlier work, including a savage bit declaring golf “racist.”

This isn’t the Democratic party Carlin once knew, though.

The 2022 model can’t say what a woman is, embraces abortion up until the moment of birth and routinely limits free speech across the culture. It stands down as violent protests roil the nation and cheers Big Tech censorship.

Progressives also want unvaccinated Americans to lose their jobs, despite the medication not living up to its pre-release hype.

That’s being kind.

Carlin railed against racially-charged police brutality decades ago. Would he do the same now, knowing that many narratives around police violence are wrong?

The current crop of liberal comics might confound Carlin.

They refuse to hold President Joe Biden accountable for a disastrous year-plus in office, preferring to attack cable news stars who lack the ability to forge a single law.

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Satirists go mute when the subject of Vice President Kamala Harris surfaces. Quick, name one mainstream comic scorching Harris’s word salad pronouncements.

How would Carlin react to modern progressives. not to mention peers unwillingness to speak truth to power? Would he go the Maher route, clinging to his principles without holding back on modern hypocrisies, Left and Right?

Carlin could chart a different course, too. He could abandon the principles that made him a star, the rebellious spirit that sparked so many comedy highlights.

In short, he could be like Howard Stern 2.0.

RELATED: Howard Stern Waves the White Flag on Freedom

The self-described King of All Media once stood proudly for free speech across media platforms. Stern questioned the government and refused to follow media-approved narratives on subjects like race and politics.

He was a rebel in the Carlin mode, battling radio executives, media outlets and fellow disk jockeys. And, in most cases, he emerged triumphant.

That Stern is no more.

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The current model embraces government dictates, burns few calories defending free speech and fawns over Democrats. His obsequious interview with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, later disgraced on multiple counts, is a career lowlight.

Is that the Carlin we’d see today, a tribalist who can’t call out the hypocrisy of his own “side?”

Carlin’s comedy took on a coal black hue late in his career. He actively rooted against humanity in bit after bit, a sour note to a legendary, and humanist, career.

His cultural comments did offer one powerful clue to how he’d process the modern world. He loved people individually, and the docuseries recalls that part of his persona.

Groups? He hated them. That group mentality is a key factor behind our tribal times. We too often hate pundits or politicians because they belong to the other group, not ours.

That kind of thinking irritated Carlin, suggesting the comic legend would look to Maher, not Stern, for moral support.

Photograph by Courtesy of George Carlin’s Estate/HBO

The post Would George Carlin Be Bill Maher … or Howard Stern 2.0 … Today? appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
Kevin Sorbo: Walt Disney Is Spinning In His Grave

Netflix might want a second word with Kevin Sorbo.

The “Hercules” star and indie filmmaker once met with the streaming giant after his 2017 film “Let There Be Light” enjoyed a robust opening against the usual Hollywood blockbusters.

Sorbo told podcaster Lisa Boothe this week about the exchange, which takes on a new light given Netflix’s recent subscriber woes and stock plunge. It turns out Netflix, according to Sorbo, made the first move.

“Our little $2.3 million movie was up against a $300 million movie, ‘Thor: Ragnarok,’ and we finished with the number two per-screen average. So Netflix calls me up and says, ‘Hey, we need a meeting with you to talk about maybe opening an inspirational division here at Netflix,’” Sorbo recalled on “The Truth with Lisa Boo-the” podcast.

The actor met with the streaming giant four times, but after that the conversation ended.

“I thought the ball was rolling fine, and all of a sudden, boom. No more calls, and I was like, ‘wow,” he recalled. Maybe it was the tough love he delivered in that fourth meeting that ended the dialogue.

“There are 80 million homes out there that want this kind of product, and you guys are totally ignoring it, just because of your hate towards Christians,” Sorbo told Boothe.

Sorbo is unapologetically Christian and conservative. The latter, he says, cost him his traditional Hollywood career roughly 10 years ago. His agent told him his political leanings made their partnership impossible.

That didn’t stop him.

Now, Sorbo directs, produces and stars in positive, faith-friendly films outside the Hollywood ecosystem. And if that means wearing even more hats, like serving as his own publicist, he’s happy to do just that.

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He’s also eager to criticize one of Hollywood’s largest studios for its attempt to influence the culture. Numerous Disney employees recently admitted to promoting sexual identity content in stories aimed at young children.

“Walt Disney said movies and television will influence our youth,” Sorbo recalled of the company’s iconic founder’s philosophy. “If Walt saw what Disney had done to his brand today, he’d be spinning in his grave.”

“He was right, that [content] can be a positive and negative effect on the youth because they totally get sucked into it … and the messages are always there,” he said. “But this is the battle we’ve got, and this is the battle we gotta keep fighting, and I’m gonna keep fighting with movies that are positive.”

The post Kevin Sorbo: Walt Disney Is Spinning In His Grave appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
‘George Carlin’s American Dream’ (Mostly) Avoids Political Pitfalls

The Left and Right are wrestling over George Carlin’s magnificent legacy.

For liberals, the progressive comic’s attacks on pro-lifers, Reagan conservatives and the Church are the stuff of endless viral memes. Conservatives see Carlin as a free speech warrior first and foremost, a cudgel against the Cancel Culture scolds.

HBO’s “George Carlin’s American Dream” sets tribalism aside to put the spotlight where it belongs – on a once-in-a-generation genius.

Mostly.

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The two-part documentary, debuting May 20 on HBO, appears infatuated by its subject. Some stretches could easily be snipped from the three-plus hour production. And Carlin’s life overlapped with some critical moments the documentary doesn’t explore in sharper detail.

Viewers still emerge in awe of Carlin’s gifts — both his verbal dexterity and willingness to evolve over time.

In short, “American Dream” confirms that Carlin has few, if any, peers.

Co-directors Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio wisely keep political posturing off screen. Yes, Carlin leaned to the Left, sometimes with a near-religious fervor (ironic given his rage against organized faith).

The comic shouldn’t be reduced to his political hot takes. Doing so diminishes an iconic career that spanned five decades and often targeted both sides of the aisle.

RELATED: How Big Tech Is Crushing Conservative Comedy

The docuseries delivers a warts-and-all approach to the source material, sharing Carlin’s personal struggles and professional detours. What emerges is a near-complete portrait, one that occasionally disappears down less vital rabbit holes.

RELATED: Mike Rowe: Comedians Have Let us Down 

George Denis Patrick Carlin began as a mainstream cutup who found work on endless TV chat fests.

The persona fit him poorly, even though his natural humor rose to the surface. He was a rebel, a comedic troublemaker who wanted his voice, his true voice, to be heard. And Carlin himself “narrates” much of his life story here, gleaned from archival interviews and countless notes he took over the years.

On today’s Downtown, we talk with @kelly_carlin about @TheGeorgeCarlin & the new documentary that premieres next week on @HBO, plus @mainedan of @TheNiteShowME, Joe Ricchio, @MarcCalnan, and Mighty John Marshall, 4:00-6:00pm ET on @RetroZ62 pic.twitter.com/OqpE7ncAra

— Rich Kimball (@DowntownRichK) May 13, 2022

His early partnership with broadcaster Jack Burns forged his progressive leanings, and when an eventful acid trip expanded his horizons he let his hair down, man.

Literally and figuratively.

It’s when George Carlin, comedian, finally emerged, pushing past the squeaky clean gags and bug-eyed impressions. It wasn’t an easy transformation. He got arrested along with fellow provocateur Lenny Bruce early in his career. His devoted wife, Brenda Carlin, forged his “new” media kit when he shed his corporate skin.

It turned out to be the best career move he could have made. He fit right in with the counter-culture crowd, leaning on the Flower Power generation to revolt against, well, everything.

FAST FACT: “Saturday Night Live” tapped Carlin to host its very first episode on Oct. 11, 1975.

“George Carlin’s American Dream” brims with classic footage, letting us see every step in the comic’s remarkable career. Old variety shows. Rare interviews. Chats with cultural “squares” like Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas and Dinah Shore.

It’s all fascinating, from the stroll down pop culture lane to insights into Carlin’s enduring brand. Bruce may have died for our comedy sins, but Carlin’s work is consistently timeless.

His wordplay dazzled, his timing couldn’t be more precise, even into his final years.

Jerry Seinfeld praised Carlin’s classic “stuff” routine, dubbing it a sublime elevation of Observational Humor 101.

Apatow’s attachment to Carlin’s story could have been disastrous. The “Knocked Up” auteur devolved into an unhinged Trump hater in recent years, and his comic output simultaneously cratered during that span.

His recent Netflix comedy, “The Bubble,” earned Apatow some of his worst critical reviews to date.

Would Apatow weaponize his subject’s progressive mien? The co-director generally holds back, letting Carlin’s work guide him.

We see it all, from Carlin subjugating himself to demeaning gigs to his final stages where he leaned, hard, into his anti-human sentiments. That chapter is both ugly and necessary given the way his stand-up soured in his final years.

The docuseries doubles as a love letter to the comedian’s wife, a woman who endured her husband’s roller-coaster career, alcohol addiction and endless days spent waiting for her beau to come home from the road.

Carlin, for all his caustic wit and anti-human broadsides, proved both romantic and loyal. Yet he teemed with contradictions. He praised drugs on stage and off, yet they nearly killed both him and his marriage.

He rejected mainstream comedy, but showed up for endless variety shows and toothless TV bits, soaking up the attention and cash. Even hippies need to eat, and his battles with the IRS hardened his financial woes.

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The project’s title is both curious and apt. Carlin seemed to loathe his homeland, drilling down on every stateside hypocrisy he could find. And America delivered over and again, naturally.

Those rants lacked perspective, of course. Were other countries fairing far better than the U.S.? Wasn’t human nature to blame as much as any one policy or party? His bitterness felt hollow on more than a few occasions.

Still, fascinating nuggets abound, from how Carlin was both scared and inspired by Sam Kinison’s unbridled act to a clip where Seinfeld says no comedy bit ever changed his mind on a political issue.

That’s a shocking addition given the current nature of comedy.

It’s disorienting to hear some Carlin quotes, like how he pivoted to the university crowd after embracing his inner hippie.

“I gotta go to the colleges where people will let me be myself,” he said at the time. If he only knew how academia would change following his 2008 death.

And letting Cancel Culture deniers Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, plus Antifa-apologist W. Kamau Bell weigh in on Carlin’s genius just feels … wrong.

It’s a shame the docuseries wraps by suggesting Carlin predicted America’s current ills. Here’s where Apatow leans into his Leftism, from insinuating President Donald Trump is a fascist (exhausting and illogical) to a photo montage of other, hard-Left narratives.

That isn’t what made Carlin so special, nor should it be the summation of his life’s work.

Otherwise, “George Carlin’s American Dream” is bloated but beautiful, a testament to a comedian whose work endures for the very best of reasons.

The post ‘George Carlin’s American Dream’ (Mostly) Avoids Political Pitfalls appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
Klavan’s ‘The Uncanny’ Set for World Premiere at Stage Right Theatrics

Many know Andrew Klavan from his spiritually-infused books, Hollywood screenplays and Daily Wire podcast.

The veteran scribe also loves a good ghost story, and he’s written his fair share over the years. He even brought one such tale to the digital age, via the “Haunting Melissa” app series.

Now, Stage Right Theatrics is debuting the live version of Klavan’s 1998 ghost story, “The Uncanny,” for local audiences and crowds across the globe.

The Uncanny” runs May 20-21 and 27 at 7:30 p.m., May 22 at 1:30 p.m. and May 25-26 at 7 p.m. at the Abbey Theatre of Dublin (5600 Post Rd. in Dublin, Ohio).

The author and playwright will attend the May 21 performance and answer questions from the live audience.

“I’m absolutely delighted to have Stage Right bring ‘The Uncanny’ to life,” said Klavan in a press statement. “Theater has been one of the great loves of my life and it’s only through enterprises like this that it not only survives but mysteriously thrives.”

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The story follows a horror movie producer seeking the truth behind the stories that made him famous, eager to find a greater purpose in life. He leaves Hollywood for London, where he meets a beautiful woman haunted by something scarier than any movie he ever produced.

The production features both film and stage elements, a first for the Ohio-based company.

Stage Right Theatrics founder Robert Cooperman told Klavan on the author’s Daily Wire podcast that his troupe regularly attracts naysayers for bringing a conservative element to live theater.

That, Cooperman adds, is fading with time.

“The attacks are fewer and far between now … because a number of people have worked with me and my company. They’ve come to realize we’re not gonna bite your head off. And number two, we’re not gonna sit around and talk politics. We’re gonna produce plays,” Cooperman said. “The only thing you need to be a part of Stage Right Theatrics is a love of theater. Those people who have embraced that have worked for me for years.”

RELATED: The Left Threatens Violence, Shuts Down Art (Again)

The nonprofit Stage Right Theatrics promotes plays supporting the country’s bedrock principles of liberty and individual accountability. The group’s motto? “Disagreement Does Not Equal Hate.”

Tickets cost $15 per person (for in-person) or per device (for the live stream) for the May 20 and 22 performances. Tickets for “An Evening with Andrew Klavan” on May 21 cost $25 for in-person and $15 per device for live-streamed. Tickets are available at “The Uncanny” by Andrew Klavan (ticketspice.com). Senior (60+), student, and veteran discounts available ($2 off, making each discounted ticket $13; $23 for the May 21 in-person performance). Call 614-233-1901 for the discount codes.

Uncanny Ad with FINAL Dates

The post Klavan’s ‘The Uncanny’ Set for World Premiere at Stage Right Theatrics appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
Feminist ‘Men’ Will Scary Everyone Silly

If woke horror had a Facebook status, it would be, “it’s complicated.”

Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” packed progressive messaging between expertly delivered scares. “Antebellum,” a laborious finger wag about slavery’s legacy, offered a grab bag of lectures and dull shocks.

And “Fresh,” Hulu’s feminist battle cry, found a happy medium between the two.

The less said about the latest “Black Christmas,” though, the better.

“Men” doesn’t fall into any existing category, woke or otherwise. Yes, it’s a treatise on how men subjugate women in relationships. And the male characters are alternately repulsive and cruel.

It’s also the scariest movie in some time, a brilliantly assembled tapestry of regret that always puts the story first.

Always. That can’t be said enough.

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Rising star Jessie Buckley plays Harper, a woman who relocates to a sprawling English mansion to get her life back in order. Her husband (Paapa Essiedu), fearing she was about to leave him, died under mysterious circumstances. Now, Harper wants some solitude to regain her sense of self.

Good luck.

Bizarre events stalk her attempt at emotional healing, from a home intruder to a vicar who needs a lesson in Counseling 101.

To say more would spoil the fun, although that’s a curious word to describe director Alex Garland’s fever dream of a film. Horror fans won’t mind that description, of course.

“Men” is the scariest film in ages, a wildly unsettling ride that jettisons all the usual genre tics.

Jump scares? Not necessary Villain lurking in the back of the car? Nope Final Girl-style theatrics? Not even close

Buckley shines in a difficult role, one to be dissected by the usual suspects. She’s a victim, no doubt, but she’s also playing a brave woman ready to stand up to her fears. That dichotomy matters, and Garland’s film pushes it to the breaking point.

Ben Salisbury & Geoff Barrow have scored the upcoming Alex Garland film “MEN”

MEN will be released in U.S cinemas on May 20th To coincide we will be releasing the score on the same day

TODAY you can hear “The Church” from MEN on all digital platforms https://t.co/mLWRVUUzU9 pic.twitter.com/juzVfTmONU

— Invada Records (@invadauk) May 4, 2022

What does it all mean? That’s likely up to each viewer, but the ambiguity doesn’t soil the experience.

It doesn’t take much brain power to see “Men” as pop culture’s latest assault on the “patriarchy.” Other than a vicar who leans too heavily into that theme, it’s relegated to the richly drawn backdrop.

The mind behind “Ex Machina” and “Annihilation” is in complete control here, and even when you quibble with some choices it’s hard not to get swept up in this nightmare. The surest sign of Garland’s command? He introduces an audio snippet early in the film, and then circles back to it in ways that are creative and monumentally chilling.

That’s a master at work.

RELATED: 16 Cool Horror Movies on TUBI

Rory Kinnear plays the mansion’s owner, and he brings a clumsy sense of chivalry to the character. Even here, though, we can’t say much more about the actor’s work for fear of spoilers.

Just know he’ll help scare you, over and again.

The film’s third act feels like Sam Raimi tapped Garland on the shoulder, whispering how body horror is all the rage these days. That’s just part of the finale, one which isn’t easily forgotten.

“Men” is like nothing you’ve seen from the horror genre before, and that alone is reason enough to recommend the year’s best horror movie, so far.

HiT or Miss: “Men” is unnerving and raw, an original tale that upends our expectations from start to finish.

The post Feminist ‘Men’ Will Scary Everyone Silly appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Barry Wurst
‘Firestarter’ Then and Now: Neither Film Lives Up to King’s Imagination

Keith Thomas’ “Firestarter” (2022), based on Stephen King’s 1980 bestselling novel, follows a girl with the power to set things on fire with her mind.

It’s sensational material and a compelling read, which is why it boggles the mind that King’s book has inspired two spark-free movie adaptations.

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The 1984 version, directed by Mark L. Lester, is worth revisiting as a primer. It also illustrates the problems with both movies, which I’ll explore below (No, I’m not going to mention the SyFy TV miniseries “Firestarter: Rekindled” (2002), though I’ll say that the filmmakers should have gone with the more obvious and honest choice and just called it “Firestarter Reheated”).

We meet Andy McGee (David Keith) and his daughter, Charlie (Drew Barrymore), who are being pursued by members of a secret organization called The Shop. Why? Because Andy and his wife, Vicky (Heather Locklear) are the only survivors of a failed drug test, emerged with psychic powers and Charlie, their daughter, can set someone on fire with just a look.

The head of The Shop, played by Martin Sheen, orders a killer for hire, named Rainbird (George C. Scott) to assassinate Charlie before her powers are uncontrollable.

The premise has subsequently been used for fodder ranging from “Push” to “Midnight Special,” though King’s novel owes a great deal to Brian De Palma’s 1978 “The Fury” (itself based on John Farris’s 1976 novel).

The ‘84 “Firestarter” is eerie but awkward. While sporting an amazing ensemble cast, it feels like a TV movie and lacks the excitement and imagination you’d hope from such sensational source material.

RELATED: How ‘Stand By Me’ Saved Stephen King Movies

Barrymore is sympathetic and good as Charlie McGee and Keith is very effective as her long-suffering father. Yet, even though even the smallest roles have been cast with care, the lineup of big stars in every role is akin to an Irwin Allen production.

Although they invest feeling in their roles, Art Carney and Louise Fletcher are an odd pair playing a farmer couple and Scott, while quite menacing, is a bizarre choice for a murderous Native American agent.

It’s much too soon to see Martin Sheen play another monster-in-a-suit for a King adaptation, as his hard working but one-note turn here is no match for his sensational, possibly career best and ferocious performance in David Cronenberg’s sublime “The Dead Zone” the year before.

Made during that mad period where there were a handful of King adaptations every year, “Firestarter” isn’t one of the better examples. While it surpasses disasters like “Children of the Corn” (1984) and “Maximum Overdrive” (1986), it’s not a cult classic like 1982’s “Creepshow.”

It certainly can’t compare to a masterpiece with belated appraisal like “The Shining” (1980) or even just a rock-solid work like “Stand By Me” (1986).

I’d rate it higher than “Cujo” (1983) but not “Christine” (1983).

 

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The extensive fire effects are stunning, as this is the pre-CGI 1980s and everything we’re seeing is real. When McGee ignites the oven mitts of her mom, played by a well-cast Locklear, it comes with the added shock of seeing the “T.J. Hooker” star baring a sleeve of flames.

While the actors are all presumably protected, one would suspect that, like the production of “Backdraft,” the cast walked away with stories of being lightly toasted.

Despite the commercial appeal of King’s novel and the obvious spotlight it would put on any young lead, it was an odd career choice for Barrymore. Watch the adorable scene stealer from “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial” (1982) headline a gruesome King thriller.

It’s on par with the post-“Home Alone” (1990) Macauley Culkin’s own macabre acting stretch in “The Good Son” (1993).

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While Barrymore would return to the genre and King again the following year in the superior “Cat’s Eye” (1985), it’s worth noting that Barrymore rarely shot horror films after this.

Much later in her long and highly accomplished body of work, Barrymore made one of her best contributions to genre films, both as co-producer and co-star of Richard Kelly’s visionary “Donnie Darko” (2001).

Having the visualization of Charlie’s powers being activated by wind blowing in her hair is ridiculous, and the constant nosebleeds Keith must endure are tiresome. “Firestarter” is never scary, but boy is it mean spirited.

Make no mistake: any movie that viciously kills Locklear is meaner than it needs to be.

However, the film pulls its punches, as Rainbird announces he must kill Charlie in a horrible manner, but we know the film won’t show us Scott harming Barrymore. The premise is brutal, and the film can get ugly, but Lester’s film never goers anywhere near Cronenberg’s “Scanners” (1983).

Barrymore’s sincere turn, the impressive pyrotechnics and a hypnotic Tangerine Dream score are the best thing about the 1984 “Firestarter,” which still feels malnourished and unsatisfying today.

The 2022 “Firestarter,” on the other hand, is much worse.

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Charlie is now played by Ryan Kiera Armstrong, who ruins her parents post-The Shop cover by nearly blowing up her school restroom. Once Charlie and her dad, Andy, played by Zac Efron are on the run, The Shop enlists Rainbird to stop her, though here, Rainbird also possesses psychic abilities.

Keith Thomas, the director, previously made “The Vigil,” my favorite genre sleeper of 2021. Here, there are dozens of scenes are so poorly lit, I wondered if it was an unwise aesthetic choice or if the production failed to pay its electric bill.

Efron is surprisingly good, both at playing a dad and at investing Andy with heart and gravitas. Another big plus for this “Firestarter” is how effective the fire scenes are. Since traditional fire stunt work is rarely utilized in the age of overabundant CGI, it’s refreshing to see that the special effects look as slick as they do here.

Digital fire is easy to spot in most films but here, the visuals are convincing.

Rainbird is now played by a Native American actor, but Michael Greyeyes never fully connects with the role, and is neither imposing nor scary enough. Nobody has it worse than Gloria Reuben, playing the head of The Shop.

Reuben has either been misdirected and just has the wrong take on her character. Whatever the reason, her main villain comes across in a robotic performance.

Barrymore’s Charlie isn’t one of the great child performances in cinema, but I cared about that kid and found her vulnerability to be touching. Here, Armstrong’s take on the role comes across like a sociopath – note how central characters are burnt to death and she doesn’t react.

Like Reuben, perhaps Armstrong wasn’t given enough clarity as to what the role was. Either way, this is the first time where I wanted Charlie to be contained and not escape.

A quality that both film versions inch towards and never completely get is that King’s 1980 novel was dealing with parental fears. Here’s how that book opens:

“Dad, I’m tired,” the little girl in the red pants and the green blouse said fretfully. “Can’t we stop?” “Not yet honey.”

Like King’s prior “The Shining and eventually “It,” “Firestarter” is an early work about the trauma of being unable to protect your children from the horrors of the world around us. Being a dad of a little girl myself, the nature of the Charlie/Andy relationship hits me differently today.

King takes time to set up the relationship between Charlie’s parents and brings a tragic, tender dimension to his tale of a father constantly on the run, unable to fully teach or control the growing impulses of his daughter.

It helps that both Keith and Efron are so good playing Andy McGee, though the emphasis should have been as it was in the book – the anguish of how a father can never truly shield his child from the monsters lurking around the corner.

The 2022 “Firestarter” lost me during a scene where Charlie sets fire to a cat for scratching her. The cat survives but is horribly burned, and Andy instructs Charlie to finish what she started.

Had we connected with Charlie, the scene might play differently. Instead, Armstrong’s Charlie is cruel and, like an out-of-control member of the X-Men, in need of instruction, if not total incarceration.

I shouldn’t want that for Charlie McGee but that’s my biggest takeaway from the new film.

A big plus is the score by John Carpenter (who was slated to make the 1984 version but was removed from the project reportedly after “The Thing” disappointed at the box office), Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies.

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While I thoroughly enjoyed this percussive electronic score, what it has in common with their similar music for last year’s “Halloween Kills” is that its better when listened to on its own than attached to the film. Also, the lovely, melancholy score to the 1984 film by Tangerine Dream is superior.

The final scene has a forced twist that I didn’t believe. There’s no way we’re getting a sequel to this. Unlike both of these movies, King’s novel is a heartbreaker and still holds up.

On the written page, Charlie McGee has a true complexity (note how the final scene in King’s novel, allegedly a happy ending, seems to indicate something awful is about to happen). On the big screen, it seems the spark has finally died out.

The post ‘Firestarter’ Then and Now: Neither Film Lives Up to King’s Imagination appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
Winston Marshall Reveals Toxic Side of Modern Artists

Winston Marshall’s career imploded the moment he praised a gay Asian journalist’s work.

Marshall, a banjoist with the Grammy-winning Mumford & Sons, Tweeted his support for Andy Ngo’s “Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy” last summer. The book documents the far-Left group’s radicalism, violence and quest to diminish free speech in America.

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“Finally had the time to read your important book. You’re a brave man,” Marshall Tweeted to Ngo, who previously suffered a brain bleed after a savage attack by Antifa thugs.

That message set off a cultural melee, culminating in Marshall leaving the band he co-formed in 2007.

Now, Marshall is sharing some of the ugly details of that firestorm.

The musician, now the host of the “Marshall Matters” podcast, opened up to the UK Times about the fallout from his initial Ngo support. Some of the shocking comments were shared in public.

The electronic punk duo Sleaford Mods called him a “c***” who supports fascism. The comedian Nish Kumar called him a “Nazi.”

Vile.

Looking back, Marshall learned a harsh lesson about friendships and how intolerant modern artists can be.

“Particularly through this recent experience I’ve realised that a lot of my friends in that world weren’t my real friends.”

He says some “world-famous” artists did support him during that period, but they did so in private. Imagine the cultural impact had they went public with their opinions.

They chose the cowardly route, and Marshall eventually quit his own band. It’s not surprising. Most stars stay silent when a peer is under assault. Consider how few celebrities rallied to Gina Carano’s side, particularly so-called feminists, when Disney unfairly fired her from “The Mandalorian.”

Other fellow musicians behaved much worse to Marshall, he notes.

“I was surprised at how other artists condemned me,” he says. “I lost a lot of friends.”

Marshall’s crime? Saluting a journalist who risks his life to chronicle violence his peers either ignore or diminish.

RELATED: Anatomy of a Cancel Culture Smear: The Vince Vaughn Edition

The cruelest part of Marshall’s experience?

Some artists will jump on the cancellation bandwagon, crushing careers along the way, and later forget the devastation they wrought.

“I’ve met a few other people who have been cancelled, whatever that means, and they talk about a couple of years later people who were part of the mobbing get in touch and say, ‘Hey mate, are you around?’ They helped destroy your life, but it was done so casually they don’t even remember.”

A few brave celebrities have blazed a better trail. Diddy recently threw his support behind “cancelled” musicians Morgan Wallen and Travis Scott.

“As a music family, none of us are saints; none of us are without things that happen to them in life,” he told Billboard. “So one of the things I’m doing directly is uncanceling the canceled. That’s breaking news because people haven’t been about uncanceling. But canceling is a trend that needs to stop.”

The rap impresario is the exception. Too many artists cower when the woke mob descends on a peer. Others grab their pitchforks and pile on.

The post Winston Marshall Reveals Toxic Side of Modern Artists appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto
Woke Screen Rant Pummeled by Its Own Facebook Fans

You don’t need a journalism degree to spot the partisan bent of most entertainment sites.

Watch how Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline and The Wrap frame breaking news. Or, better yet, notice which important stories they ignore. It’s clear they see headlines through a progressive lens, although they don’t admit that up front. 

This site says it aloud in its tag line, “The Right Take on Entertainment.” HiT’s mission exists, in large part, because the vast majority of Hollywood news has a robust, left-of-center, bent.

Which brings us to Screen Rant.

RELATED: Woke Screen Rant Bullies Gina Carano

The geek culture site once assumed a more neutral position with its content. Now, the site leans to the Left while embracing woke ideology. It explains why it’s aghast that Netflix, the stumbling streaming site, released a manifesto earlier this month extolling free speech.

Netflix’s unorthodox move came in delayed response to the uproar over its 2021 comedy special, “The Closer.”

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That Dave Chappelle original shared jokes tied to the trans community, offending select progressives. A small group of Netflix employees marched against Chappelle, but Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos refused to censor or erase the special.

Instead, he re-hired Chappelle for more comedy projects and released this statement earlier this month.

“Not everyone will like — or agree with — everything on our service. While every title is different, we approach them based on the same set of principles: we support the artistic expression of the creators we choose to work with; we program for a diversity of audiences and tastes; and we let viewers decide what’s appropriate for them, versus having Netflix censor specific artists or voices. As employees we support the principle that Netflix offers a diversity of stories, even if we find some titles counter to our own personal values. Depending on your role, you may need to work on titles you perceive to be harmful. If you’d find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you.”

The original Screen Rant story buries its disgust over Netflix’s decision deep in the story. The site’s Facebook page, however, states it upfront.

A pretty harsh policy, if real.

That sparked a huge backlash among its Facebook followers. For them, ideological diversity and free speech actually matter. Here’s a sampling of the responses:

I think the staff needs to realize that it’s a streaming service company, which means it has ALL types of content. (top fan) They can’t be beholden to the squeaky minority who work for them. Might want to consult a better dictionary for the definition of ‘harsh.’ Yeah asking people to act like adults is really harsh I love this! More companies should adopt this policy. Dry your tears and go back to work snow flakes Yeah cause Disney’s response to the “Patental rights bill” has gone great for them…. Good for Netflix. Just like content creators shouldn’t bow to Christian evangelicals, they shouldn’t bow to wokist ones either Harsh? That’s not harsh, if real, any job gives you that choice… To NOT allow you to quit would be harsh.. If you don’t like your job, then you don’t have to be there.. What kind of of job caters to everyone’s feelings? If you can’t or refuse to do your job, then leave.

A few commenters vaguely supported Screen Rant’s position. They were in the extreme minority.

The post Woke Screen Rant Pummeled by Its Own Facebook Fans appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

- Christian Toto

If Elon Musk needs proof of Twitter’s liberal bias, he need look no further than Bette Midler’s account.

The progressive star’s history of hate isn’t a secret, but Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council keeps looking the other way. The Divine Ms. M’s latest Twitter stumble, though, reveals something else about both her and her celebrity chums.

Call them the “Let Them Eat Cake” elites.

I love @BetteMidler She’s an amazing woman!! Unfortunately, her tweet fell short of recognizing the socio-economic and health issues that prevent some mothers from breast feeding. I hope she does a little more research on the issue before tweeting on this topic.

— Carly Reim (@CarlyReim) May 14, 2022

Midler, trying to protect the Biden administration earlier this week, tried explaining away the nation’s baby formula shortage.

“TRY BREASTFEEEDING! It’s free and available on demand,” she Tweeted, ignoring the countless women who struggle to breastfeed for often heartbreaking reasons. Surely a 70-something woman has met a few moms in her life who shared their motherhood struggles.

The Biden administration claims it’s been working on the problem for some time, apparently with little or no net results. Tell that to the mothers scrambling to find formula for their infants.

That collective suffering doesn’t bother Midler. Why?

It might negatively impact President Joe Biden specifically and Democrats as a whole. So Midler pushed their concerns aside to land some cheap partisan points.

Let them eat cake.

RELATED: The Sad Transformation of Jimmy Kimmel Is Complete

Jimmy Kimmel could have satirically pummeled Team Biden for the baby formula debacle. He’s a late-night comedy host, and his monologues skewer fumbling politicians, at least in theory. Some of his viewers may be experiencing their own issues finding formula for their wee ones.

It’s a Truth to Power moment for any self-described satirist. Or, at least one not beholden to a particular party.

Instead, Kimmel framed the story as Republicans trying to score political points, not mothers desperate to feed their children.

Let them eat cake.

“Republicans have been trying to shift the focus away from taking equal rights from us, by blaming Joe Biden for the nationwide shortage of baby formula. But the President isn’t having it. Not only is he pushing back, he has a plan to solve this problem personally.”

Kimmel unveiled a faux commercial for Biden’s new “Maw-Maw Biden’s Non-Clotting Baby Chow” after chiding the GOP for noticing the problem.

“Hey folks, I know times are tough. With soaring gas prices, and now a shortage of baby formula … But we’ve been through tough times before, and we’ll get through them again. With Maw-Maw Biden’s Non-Clotting Baby Chow!”

“This is the same porridge my own dear mother would fry up in the storm cellar back when I was no bigger than a hickory stump. Every can is chopped, boiled twice, and pickled personally by me, Uncle Joe.”

Can anyone decipher what the gag means, beyond a toothless jab at Biden’s age, perhaps? Are frantic mothers now a punch line? Could Kimmel spare a wisecrack about the government allegedly shipping pallets of formula to illegal i