Category: Movies


Review by C.J. Bunce

Would the real Man from Toronto please stand up?

One of the best elements of the 2009-2015 crime/action series White Collar was the late Willie Garson as Moz.  And Moz’s best episode featured his backstory as the dreaded crime boss, the “Dentist of Detroit,” a partially mythical mercenary you’d never want to meet in person.  Casting Woody Harrelson as a similar character was an inspired choice for this year’s direct-to-Netflix movie, The Man from Toronto.  Pair Harrelson with the current funniest funnyman at the movies, Kevin Hart, and you have the makings of a summer hit.  Add the year’s best cinema action sequences, and you have an action movie you can’t miss.  Oddly enough, it’s also the year’s best Jason Statham movie–without Jason Statham.

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It’s been a year since Kevin Costner returned to Dyersville, Iowa, to lead the ultimate movie event follow-up.  Last year the Chicago White Sox faced the New York Yankees in vintage uniforms to provide fans of Major League Baseball with the ultimate gift, a regular season game at the most beloved stadium in the country–the Field of Dreams, setting for the Phil Alden Robinson’s 1989 film classic (find out more about last year’s game here).  Last night the second major league game to take place in Iowa–and second annual Field of Dreams game–featured the Chicago Cubs and the Cincinnati Reds.  Spoilers ahead–in case you missed the game.

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If it’s not your third favorite Star Wars movie, it’s probably your fourth.  It’s director Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the movie that re-ignited the possibilities for Star Wars after George Lucas sold it all to Disney, and laid the groundwork for the great series The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett.  We thought the May teaser looked fantastic for Andor, the prequel series to Rogue One coming to Disney+ next month, but the full trailer is even better with some great surprises, including the return of Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera.  And bigger news: The first season will have 12 episodes, with 12 more on the way.

Diego Luna returns as rebel hero Cassian Andor, joined by Genevieve O’Reilly in her third stint as Mon Mothma plus the MCU’s Stellan Skarsgård is a new Kenobi-like mentor named Luthen RaelAdria Arjona (Morbius, 6 Underground) is Kleya, Denise Gough (Colette) is Imperial officer Dedra, plus Kyle Soller (Fury, Poldark), The Batman’s Alex Ferns, and Harry Potter and True Blood’s Fiona Shaw co-star (and it looks like Outlaw King and Monarch of the Glen’s Alastair Mackenzie or his doppelganger as a Senator or Ambassador of some sort).

Andor is already confirmed for a second season.  The series will not have the benefit of Gareth Edwards’ input, but it does have contributions from Rogue One writer Tony Gilroy and franchise creature maker Neal Scanlan will be pulling in unused creatures and effects from the films along with new ones for the series.  Meet B2EMO:

Check out this epic trailer for Andor:

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Arguably no player of fictional roles did more to further science and the future than Nichelle Nichols.  The actress who played Star Trek crew member Uhura for 54 years in the original series, six movies, and fan films passed away today at age 89.  I first met her in San Francisco in the 1990s and later at other events, and she always was gracious, embraced fans, and was always laughing, smiling, and enjoying her time recounting her personal story.  She probably has the most familiar story of any science fiction actor, as she became an icon of television, science fiction, and science fact.

Her greatest story was recounting how she had decided to leave the Star Trek series until she had a conversation with Martin Luther King, Jr., who informed her just how important it was that a black woman was being seen by an entire nation on television.  She was an equal crew member serving in a prime-time network series, and would go on to help expand the boundaries of race relations, participating in the first on-screen inter-racial kiss, with co-star William Shatner’s Captain Kirk.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Jim Cummings is a triple threat, a writer/director who also stars in the atmospheric Orion Classics release The Wolf of Snow Hollow You may recognize Cummings as the brave Deputy Pete McCabe, who pursued Michael Myers in Halloween Kills, but he’s also a jack of all trades, making movies from the ground up as cinematographer and editor and even working on visual effects for Captain America: Winter Soldier.  In The Wolf of Snow Hollow he plays Officer John Marshall, No. 2 in line to the sheriff in a small northern town in the vein of Resident Alien, Fargo, or Northern Exposure.  Marshall is a recovering alcoholic in a 12-step program, who is the ultimate put-upon working stiff with anger issues, dealing with divorce, a visiting daughter, and incompetent peers when a string of brutal murders plagues his otherwise banal town.  And the murders appear to have been carried out by a werewolf.  It’s a surprisingly good, tightly edited drama with elements of dark comedy, a smartly paced Alfred Hitchcock-type thriller filled with quirky locals, combined with a musical score as compelling as something from a Bernard Herrmann classic.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

How can a movie only make $25,000 at the box office and be this good?  It must be poor marketing–the movie poster calls it darkly comical, and there’s no humor intended in Albert Shin’s semi-autobiographical directorial debut, the brilliant mystery/suspense/thriller Disappearance at Clifton Hill A 2019 Canadian release that premiered in the U.S. in 2020, this is the kind of simmering mystery in the vein of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, with a genre-bending vibe that blends You Should Have Left, I Am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House, The Sinner, Picnic at Hanging Rock, and Archive 81–and yet it’s unlike any of them.  It stars Tuppence Middleton (The Current War, Jupiter Ascending, The Imitation Game, Mank) in a worthy–and similar–follow-up to her starring role in The Lady Vanishes.

Abby is only seven years old when she sees the boy with one eye, hiding while she vacations with her family in the woods not too far from her home in Niagara Falls.

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He’s certainly the most overdue of 80 years of Marvel characters to make it into the live-action world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner, created by writer-artist Bill Everett in 1939, was Marvel’s first mutant and the leader of the undersea world of Atlantis, frequently forgotten in recent years because of his DC Comics counterpart, Aquaman.  That’s Namor and Everett above as depicted in a fantastic tribute by artist Alex Ross.  Along with Captain America and Human Torch, the original Big 3 included Prince Namor.  He’s also the first superhero anti-hero, so it probably makes sense Marvel is sneaking him into the MCU as they did Silver Surfer in the second Fantastic Four movie.  Audiences internationally who have not followed the comics of eight decades past or only know of the character in spotty revisits over the years will now meet him this year in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, as what appears to be the villain.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

TCM’s film reference library of books has looked at the best sci-fi and horror movies, dynamic actresses, Christmas movies, summer hits, noir and war movies, and famous stunts, and its books have argued for 100 movies as the best of them all.  Diehard rock ‘n’ roll aficionados are the targets of the next dive into a select segment of genredom at the movies.  Today TCM and Running Press are releasing TCM’s Rock on Film (available here at Amazon).  Written by former Rolling Stone magazine editor Fred Goodman, by design it aims to blend crowd pleasers and buried treasure, and is not intended to be definitive–so don’t get your hackles up when you find your favorites didn’t make the cut.  Featured aren’t just typical “movies”–this is the TCM library’s biggest foray into documentaries.  So along with Purple Rain, American Graffiti, This is Spinal Tap, The Buddy Holly Story, That Thing You Do!, Inside Llewyn Davis, 8 Mile, Straight Outta Compton, Quadrophenia, and Tommy, look for discussions of A Hard Day’s Night, Dont Look Back (blame the lack of apostrophe on the film creator), Woodstock, The TAMI Show, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, and Echo in the Canyon.  And interviews with Cameron Crowe, Jim Jarmusch, Penelope Spheeris, Taylor Hackford, and John Waters shed some light on how filmmakers were influenced by rock and rock movies.
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At this weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con, DC Comics’ Jim Lee announced that there are no plans for Zack Snyder to return to the DC franchise movies or for the “SnyderVerse” Justice League to continue.  This was followed up with two big trailers that open up the DC Comics universe to return to the fun of the comics.  Zachary Levi’s spin on the original Captain Marvel opened the gates for a renaissance for DC at the movies with his new Shazam in 2019, back again this year in the sequel, Shazam! Fury of the Gods, and Dwayne Johnson is taking DC to the next level in his big fall release Black Adam.

And another show with a dragon!  Seems like you can’t find a trailer this summer without one.  Thanks, Shazam!

Neither of these movies could look better, and these trailers have a lot of promise.  Can Shazam and Black Adam save the DCU?  Check out the trailers for Black Adam and Shazam! Fury of the Gods: Continue reading

The first day of the annual San Diego Comic-Con is starting out strong.  Back in the 1980s the very idea of live-action fantasy that even remotely achieved visual spectacle status was nil.  Space fantasy like Star Wars was one thing, as were the Ray Harryhausen stop-motion movies of the past.  Then there was a true visionary–Jim Henson–with The Dark Crystal and nothing else… something promising now and then like Willow.  Flash forward to July 2022 and we have three big properties stepping forward, first The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, then The Game of Thrones: House of the Dragon, and now from Hasbro, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves All three look to be worth the time, but this one clearly ranks high on fun potential.

Check out Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Hugh Grant, Sophia Lillis, Justice Smith, Daisy Head, Chloe Coleman, and Regé-Jean Page starring in Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves:

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