Girl’s Trip-First Reaction

Starring Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Tiffany Haddish, Larenz Tate, Mike Colter

My biggest surprise of the year is last month’s Girls Trip. It’s a funny, character based comedy about a group of friends reconnecting in New Orleans during the Essence Festival. Ryan Pierce (Hall), the most successful of the group, is a writer who authored a bestselling book based around having it all (meanwhile her husband’s cheating). Sasha Franklin (Latifah) is a rumor mongerer on the rocks looking for a big scoop to get her back on her feet. Lisa Cooper (Pinkett-Smith) is a prim nurse who needs help in letting loose for the weekend away from her kids. Dina (Haddish) is their wild friend just looking to have fun as usual. The movie works, one, because it’s funny, and two, because the characters seem real and likeable. Even the outlandish Dina is a rounded out character by the end. The friendships also seem real. The setting provides a lot of excitement, plus cameos. Overall, this was a perfect summer comedy.

Atomic Blonde -First Reaction

Starring Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Toby Jones

Three years ago two stunt directors came together to make John Wick. The stylish, narratively simple, stunt-heavy film was a hit, breathing life into the American action genre which had become complacent over the years. One of these directors, Chad Stahelski, went on to make John Wick 2, an even better action flick; in fact, probably the best American action flick over the past ten years. The other director, David Leitch, made Atomic Blonde. Like John Wick, it’s heavily stylized, with outstanding fight choreography and camerawork. Unlike John Wick, it has a challenging, sometimes convoluted plot that is alternately intriguing, confounding, and distracting. Set in the ’80s East Germany, agents from all over compete for an informant’s top secret information. Spying for the British, Charlize Theron is told to also be on the look out for a British rat as she teams up with the roguish James McAvoy. There’s a fight sequence in the middle, more towards the end, that is stunning. It’s handled in what appears to be one long, impressive take over a stairwell and ending in a car chase. That scene is masterful. The soundtrack is full of cliché choices for ’80s music that all somehow still works tremendously. Theron is excellent. The pacing is possibly too slow at times for an action movie, but overall, this was a strong film. Better than the first John Wick film, although not as great as the second.


Films of July Results (2017)

My siblings and I took our best shots at predicting the success (both critically and commercially) of various films released last month. Here’s the results (note that if a film already had enough reviews, we didn’t bother to predict its Rotten Tomatoes percentage):

July 7

Spider-Man: Homecoming

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A huge hit for Marvel, it nonetheless fell well short of my lofty box office mark. David has a chance of being right here.

Actual:$288 million

Me:$420 million

David:$310 million

Ava: $350 million

July 14

War for the Planet of the Apes

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Perhaps too high brow for mass market, or maybe not enough star power. Whatever the case, this was an exceptional film with rather pedestrian box office returns for a Summer movie. We all took an L on this one.

Actual: $125 million

Me: $260 million

David: $215 million

Ava: $240 million

July 21

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Stoic and challenging, audiences still turned up. Though I was closer on this film, I still don’t think I have a chance of it meeting my prediction. Little sister takes the prize on the Rotten Tomatoes guess. The haters didn’t show up like I thought they would.

Actual: $120 million/ 93%

Me: $180 million/ 80-90%

David: $225 million/ 80-90%

Ava: $200 million/90-100%

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

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This looks intriguing, although I, like the rest of you, haven’t seen it. It’s a renter. It’s already flat-lined at just over 30 million. That’s ghastly. I was actually pretty solid on my predictions here despite not picking up any points.

Actual: $34 million/51%

Me:$60 million/55-65%

David:$90 million/65%

Ava:$150 million/ 70%

Girls Trip

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This was a very fun and funny movie that’s found its audience, and will continue to make money for a few more weeks. I doubted, and now I’ll eat crow.

Actual:$77 million/ 87%

Me: $35 million/30-40%

David: $105 million/50-60%

Ava: $90 million/ 40-50%

July 28

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Stylish and impressive as it is, this isn’t nearly the hit that John Wick was. Crowded market?

Actual: $28 million

Me: $80 million

David: $90 million

Ava: $100 million

The Emoji Movie

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Like the movie itself, I’d just as soon forget all about my predictions for this film. I went all in, and crapped out. This is a historic stinker.

Actual: $40 million/ 7%

Me: $200 million/ 45-55%

David: $90 million/ 35-45%

Ava: $140 million/ 40-50%

Ava and David tie with two points a piece. As you can tell, it was a difficult month for me. Lessons.

-Walter Howard-



Films of August (2017)

This has been an excellent, very balanced year of movies.  I can’t recall another year where every single month had a movie circled on my calendar. Months typically slow on good films like January and February, this year, offered Split, Get Out, and John Wick 2. Out of this great year, came a great month of a very diverse mix of movies that delivered. July gave us War for the Planet of the Apes, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Dunkirk (a potential Best Picture candidate), and the surprise hit, Girls Trip. We can forgive July for also giving us The Emoji Movie. My predictions for last month’s films, however, were not very good. Except for Valerian which I pretty much nailed, I was way off on most predictions. My siblings fared better, if only just slightly. I fully expect to make a comeback with this month’s batch.

August 4

The Dark Tower No Rotten Tomatoes Score

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Starring Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey

This looks poor. Not sure since I haven’t read the books, what this Stephen King Adaptation is supposed to be about, but I couldn’t be less interested. I like Idris Elba but he has demonstrated a career’s worth of bad decisions. Nothing exciting came out of its trailers, and I’m expecting a monumental loss of money come opening weekend. My Prediction: $50-60 million/ 20-30% on Rotten Tomatoes

David-It doesn’t look good. The villain (McConaughey) looks like the villain off of that Jack Frost DreamWorks movie. Not sold on McConaughey. Prediction: $80-90 million/ 20-30% on Rotten Tomatoes

Ava-It’s gonna blow ass. Prediction: $90-100 million/ 30-40% on RT

Detroit 95% on Rotten Tomatoes

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Starring John Boyega, Will Poulter, Jacob Latimore, John Krasinski, Anthony Mackie, Jason Mitchell

I have never heard of the Algiers Motel Incident. Oscar winning director Kathryn Bigelow’s take on it hits theaters this week, I plan on seeing it immediately. My Prediction: $100-110 million

David-Heard good things. Bigelow is one of the best directors in the game. Oscar potential. Prediction: $60-70 million

Ava-I’m not necessarily excited, but I know it will be great. Predictions: $80-90 million

Kidnap No Rotten Tomatoes Score

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Starring Halle Berry

No rotten tomatoes score 3 days before your release is hardly a good sign. In fact, all signs point to this being better off as a straight to DVD flick. My prediction:$20-30 million/ 5-15% on Rotten Tomatoes

David-This movie’s going to be bad. It’s been on firestick for 5 months. Prediction: $20-30 million/15-25% on RT

Ava- Oh God. Halle Berry hasn’t been good in 20 years. *Note-when fact checkers pointed out Monster’s Ball and X-Men, miss Howard was unmoved*Prediction-$10-20 million/10-20% on RT

August 11

Annabelle: Creation 100% on Rotten Tomatoes

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Starring Stephanie Sigman, Miranda Otto, Anthony LaPaglia

Horror spinoffs and sequels come a dime a dozen, and are generally no reason to be excited. However, the initial crop of reviews suggest that Annabelle: Creation, a sequel and a spinoff of the successful Conjuring franchise, is a worthy addition to an already stellar year of horror films (think Get Out, It Comes at Night, The Void, Alien: Covenant, Split). My Prediction: $140-150 million

David-I’m excited mainly because it has good reviews. Trailer shows that it’s well-made. Prediction: $70-80 million

Ava- Love a good horror film. Prediction: $140-150 million

The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature No Rotten Tomatoes Score

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Voices of Will Arnett, Jackie Chan, Maya Rudolph

Groan. The first one garnered a whopping 10% on Rotten Tomatoes. Somehow it made money. This sequel is example of phoning it in at every level, made for millions of dollars. My Prediction: $70-80 million/ 15-25% on Rotten Tomatoes

David-I wasn’t aware that anyone liked the first one. I saw it. It was bad. I do like Will Arnett though. Prediction: $50-60 million/ 10-20% on RT

Ava-It’s gonna suck. Prediction: $100-110 million/ 40-50% on RT

August 18

Logan Lucky 100% on Rotten Tomatoes

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Starring Channing Tatum, Daniel Craig, Adam Driver, Seth McFarlane

Stephen Soderbergh, Oscar winning director of Traffic, returns from his Jay-Z like “retirement.” His latest is a heist film and a stylish comedy. Could be the month’s best film. My Prediction: $45-55 million

David-Looks very good. Likening it to a country Ocean’s 11. Great cast. Love Channing Tatum. Prediction: $60-70 million

Ava-Not a big fan of Channing Tatum. Daniel Craig looks really good. I think it’s going to have a lot of one-liners. Prediction:$80-90 million

-Walter Howard-



My Week of Films (July 17-29)

So this week’s log is something of a cheat. I had to skip last week’s offering (which would have been meager indeed), due to lack of time, and thus, this article is actually covering two weeks worth of films. Keep in mind my journey with the epic miniseries, The Jewel in the Crown, has continued, as well as the beginning of my rewatching the ’90s Pride and Prejudice miniseries. I’ve also watched Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan’s confounding war piece) and Girls Trip (the outlandish comedy that makes good on all of its intentions) in theaters.

Boat Trip     7% on Rotten Tomatoes                 3    (Netflix)

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Starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Horatio Sanz, Roselyn Sanchez, Vivica A. Fox, Roger Moore, Will Ferrell, Richard Roundtree

Plot Summary-Two unlucky bachelors and friends, aiming to boost their luck with women on a luxury cruise, instead find themselves aboard a gay only party ship. Jerry accepts the situation once he meets a beautiful dance teacher also aboard the ship, while the homophobic Nick gets in to a continuous line of raunchy misadventures.

My Take-Widely recognized as the golden standard for bad comedies, this film rides its string of horribly unfunny jokes, offensive stereotypes, and shameless nudity to embarrassing lows. Makes you appreciate a film like Some Like it Hot even more, as it’s cut from the same farcical cloth as Boat Trip, but with a wealth of more talent and creativity involved.

-Directed by Mort Nathan, 2002

The Sound of Music   86% on Rotten Tomatoes         10  (DVD)

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Starring Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer

Plot Summary-A young woman in 1930’s Austria struggles to fit in with the order of nuns she’s studying under; despite her relentless enthusiasm. They ask her to try work elsewhere for a time, to see if she finds her calling. And so she works as nanny for the wealthy but unhappy Von Trapp family that includes: the widower, Captain Von Trapp, and his seven children. Gradually, she works her way into the hearts of the children and the father, as the threat of Nazi Germany hangs over their beautiful country.

My Take-I basically feel that there are people who love Sound of Music and people who pretend not to love Sound of Music. I don’t feel the need to pretend. It’s corny, joyous, moving, lovely, wonderful. The music is unforgettable and the story is long and sweeping.

-Directed by Robert Wise, 1965

The Witches 100% on Rotten Tomatoes         7          (DVD)

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Starring Anjelica Huston

Plot Summary-A young boy raised by his shrewd Grandmother discovers that the hotel they’re staying in is infested with children murdering witches (led by the Grand High Witch), with a plot that could wipe out children everywhere. After being turned into a mouse, the boy teams up with his Grandmother to foil the evil witches’ plans. Adaptation of Roald Dahl’s horror story for kids.

My Take-Children’s movies in the ’80s and, in this case early ’90s, were insane. This has some truly frightening stuff in it: the witches pulling off their masks to reveal their hideous true selves, kids being abducted in the street, weird body transformations. The opening sequence is remarkable, scary, and sad as we learn about a girl who became trapped in a miserable painting all her life. Anjelica Huston glides through the picture as if everything is dreadfully boring to her including the events of the film. She’s very funny and the film itself, which I believe compromises a little in the end, remains a solid creepfest.

-Directed by Nicholas Roeg, 1990

Matinee   93% on Rotten Tomatoes          7      (VHS)

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Starring John Goodman, Cathy Moriarty

Plot Summary-Set in Key West during the ’60s, a young Naval brat deals with a new school and new home at the height of the red scare. He escapes through B movies, and when he learns that his favorite director is coming to town to promote the new movie, Mant!, he’s determined to help.

My Take-Fun mainly, nostalgia for some, I’m sure, and excellent time capsule for all. It’s a loving piece of cinema by a director who built a career on monster movies himself (Gremlins, The Howling).

-Directed by Joe Dante, 1993

My Fair Lady 96% on Rotten Tomatoes         10      (DVD)

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Starring Rex Harrison, Audrey Hepburn

Plot Summary-Henry Higgins, a renowned phonetics professor wagers that he can turn a common flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, into a duchess by improving her speech. A musical adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s pay, Pygmalion.

My Take-Tops for me. The dialogue which is predominantly Shaw, the lyrics, the music, the costumes, the art direction, staging, the performances, are all exceptional. Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle are two of my favorite characters across all entertainment. They are both heavyweights, equals, and watching the two spar is a joy to me. Easily my favorite variant of the Pygmalion story, and probably my favorite musical.

-Directed by George Cukor, 1964

Chef 86% on Rotten Tomatoes          9             (Amazon)

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Starring Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Sofia Vergara, Robert Downey Jr, Bobby Cannavale, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman

Plot Summary-A disgraced chef turns to working out of a food truck as he embarks on a road trip with his young son and best friend.

My Take-On the one hand light and breezy, it also works well as statement about needing to rediscover yourself in any art form, and the need for an artist to take chances. The performances, mainly the camaraderie, seem very genuine, and everything appears authentic because of it.

-Directed by Jon Favreau, 2014

Funny Face 87% on Rotten Tomatoes     9      (DVD)

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Starring Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn, Kay Thompson

Plot Summary-When the editor for a top fashion magazine, Quality, announces that she is looking for a new face to freshen up the world of fashion, her most trusted photographer suggests a book-worm girl he’s fallen for.

My Take-There’s nothing tremendous at play here, it just hits the mark in every aspect. Great music. Great stars (how can you beat Astaire and Hepburn?) Great costumes. All set in Paris, France.

-Directed by Stanley Donen, 1957

-Walter Howard-

10 Intriguing Films from D23 Expo (2017)

Okay, so apparently there’s an official Walt Disney Company fan club known as D23, and every other year they get together to throw a massive exposition event that includes exclusive footage and trailers for upcoming Disney films. I knew none of this. Then, over the weekend, I see one bombshell Disney announcement after another due to the event that saw appearances from a number of celebrities including the newest Spider-Man, Tom Holland, and the attendance of over 100,000 guests. As a Disney fan, I’ll certainly be more attentive to D23 going forward. Here’s a list of the ten films that stood out from the show co-written with my friend and fellow blogger, Becky Davidson. You may note the exclusion of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. My excitement for the next installment couldn’t be higher, and the D23 expo showcasing a cool, but insubstantial behind the scenes featurette did nothing to fuel the flame.

Coco          November 22, 2017

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Directed by Lee Unkrich         Voices of Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Cheech Marin

My Take-It’s not the first animated film to take on Mexican culture’s Day of the Dead holiday. That was The Book of Life (2014). Will Coco suffer from comparisons? Doubtful. Pixar, when doing original material, generally blow the competition out of the water. They’re still a first class company. Still the most ambitious animation company (at least here in America), and despite not knowing much about this film, and not being overly impressed by what I do know, I trust the brand. I like that they are using all actual Hispanic people for the voice cast as well.

Becky-I’m always really excited any time I hear either Pixar or Disney Animations Studios is coming out with new, original stuff! Needless to say I’m super pumped for this film. I didn’t know what to expect from Coco at first, but the more I learn, the more I want to see the film. I’m a sucker for anything that has to do with music and it’s cool that our main character is Mexican. Go diversity! We need more of it, especially in animation. Also the animation looks really pretty. I’m at the point where I don’t want to see any more things for this film and just want to watch it.

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure               November 22, 2017

Directed by Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers                                    Voice of Josh Gad

My Take-It’s a short film, so only a small deal, but it’s leading to the forthcoming Frozen 2. The short will be good. The full length Disney sequel? Disney never used to make theatrical sequels. They always focused on creating new adventures. The theme of the expo for me was cash grab.

Becky’s Take- This Frozen short sounds adorable and I love me some Olaf. There’s nothing more to be said, except that I’m here for it!

A Wrinkle in Time March 9, 2018

Directed by Ava DuVernay       Starring Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine, Zach Galifianakis

My Take-I’ve never read this book. I’m a pretty avid reader, and especially of classic children’s lit, but somehow Madeline L’Engle’s 1963 novel slipped through. Truth be told, I’ve started reading it 2 or 3 times and just never felt compelled to continue past chapter 1. Perhaps I need this movie to spark my interest. The cast is strong. I like the director; a black female directing a big-budget Disney movie in 2017 shouldn’t be as important as it is. I don’t understand the plot, and the trailer didn’t help much.

Becky’s Take- I didn’t even realize that this was a thing until the trailer was released and everyone started talking about it. I know that it’s based off of a book, and I’ve heard of the book, but that’s all I really know about this story. I’m actually pretty indifferent about this film. I like that we get a diverse cast. I say again, go diversity! Some of the visuals are pretty cool too, but nothing that really excites me. We’ll see I guess.

Ralph Breaks the Internet         March 9, 2018

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Directed by Rich Moore and Phil Johnston                                                  Voices of John C.Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Taraji P. Henson

 My Take- I’m hearing about all kinds of crazy things they’re doing in this film. Cameos from Mario and all the Disney princesses for one thing. Wreck-it-Ralph 2 should be good.

Becky’s Take-Okay so this is a sequel that I’m actually excited for! I loved Wreck It Ralph. I thought it was refreshing in so many ways and I loved all of the referential things. I love the title “Ralph Breaks the Internet” and am just hooked off of that. To learn that there’s this whole self-aware Disney Princess reunion thing happening in the film just makes it better. The only worry, that all of the “cameos” and references could overpower the story. What made the first film so great was the story and I don’t want to lose that. I have faith that Rich Moore and Phil Johnston will prevail as they did an incredible job with the first film.

The Incredibles 2       June 15, 2018

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Directed by Brad Bird                                                                            Voices of  Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson

My Take-Finally. At long last. 14 years later. It is coming. The sequel to possibly my favorite super hero movie. Brad Bird returns. The cast is back Everything is in place for a successful sequel. This time around, according to Holly Hunter, Elastigirl is the lead protagonist, and Mr. Incredible is stuck at home with the kids.

Becky’s Take- Out of all of the films we are talking about in this post, this is the one I’m the most excited for! The Incredibles was such a good film and one that deserved a sequel. There was so much material there to be explored and I’m in disbelief that it’s taken this long for a sequel to be made. I love that it’s taking place right where the first one left off, I’m excited for more Frozone, and I need more Jack Jack. If you’re not excited for this film, you should be!

Dumbo (live action remake)         March 19, 2019

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Directed by Tim Burton                                                         Starring Michael Keaton, Colin Farrell, Eva Green

My Take-The good news is Michael Keaton reteams with Tim Burton (Batman, Beetlejuice, Batman Returns). The bad news is I couldn’t be less interested in a live action remake of Dumbo. If anything belongs solely in the realm of cartoon it was Dumbo. It’s going to very difficult to make a big eared elephant as charming in CGI as he was traditional animation.

Becky’s Take-Disney, seriously we’re gonna need to have a talk about all of these live action remakes. You’re obsessed with them! I get it, the money is appealing, but why must you remake everything?! I don’t even care that Tim Burton is the one directing it, he didn’t do too great of a job on the Alice in Wonderland films. Why is this a thing? Again, I just don’t get it and I’m not feeling it.

The Lion King (live action)       July 19, 2019

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Directed by Jon Favreau                Starring Donald Glover, James Earl Jones, Hugh Jackman, Seth Rogen

My Take-When I mentioned bombshells, the cast announcement for the upcoming live-action Lion King remake was chief among them. Hugh Jackman as Scar? Here’s the thing. No question Jackman can act, but Jeremy Irons was perfect. Jackman will have to work so much harder than Irons did to be scary, nasty, and sardonic. Those qualities came so naturally to Irons’ mellifluous voice. I think Jackman and this film will have to completely put aside Irons’ take, and just build a whole new villainous character out of Uncle Scar. He can’t be scary in the same way Irons was scary. And James Earl Jones is back as Mufasa? This is kind of hilarious to me. I agree anybody else would have been a pale imitation, but then why not bring the whole voice cast back? No one’d dead. Better yet, why remake this at all? It’s not even a “live-action remake.” It’s just a different form of animation. I’m not seeing it. I won’t mind if I’m proven wrong, and this turns out to be anything beyond passable, but I will be shocked.

Becky’s Take-WHY IS THIS A THING?! I DON’T GET IT! Okay, I so I know that this is a money grab, but still! The Lion King is one of those films that should not be touched or remade. This film is already doomed to fail as you will never be able to top the original. Also, can we even call this live action? All of the animals are getting the same CGI treatment as the ones in The Jungle Book. The Lion King is all about animals, so isn’t this really just some elevated animated remake? It seems that they just want to show off their new technology. You want to do that, cool, just go make something original. Apparently people were moved by what they saw at D23 Expo, but I’m still extremely skeptical of it. This is something I didn’t ask for, and certainly don’t want.

Toy Story 4     June 21, 2019

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Directed by Josh Cooley                            Voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen

My Take-I’m so disgusted by this. The trilogy was ended exactly right. Now Woody’s coming back to find Bo Peep. Eww. That’s featherweight stuff. This is a flagrant cash grab by a company that has always been better than third sequels.

Becky’s Take-Ugh, I’m so upset that this is actually a thing too. I thought that Toy Story 3 was such a solid way to end the trilogy, and the three films feel very contained. Usually, when there is a change in the director it doesn’t bode well. However, since the reason Lasseter left was related to not having the time to do it, it doesn’t make me more skeptical of this project. I hope this sequel brings lots of new things to the table, it is the only way it will be good and not a rehash of any of the previous films.

Aladdin (live-action)        No Release Date

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Directed by Guy Ritchie                                                                      Starring Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott

My Take-I’ve written previously on my blanket opinion about these live-action remakes. At a certain level, they will always be pointless. Will Smith stepping into the beloved Robin Williams’ shoes is a brave undertaking. He has the charisma. Guy Ritchie directing intrigues me. I’m a fan, despite recent missteps. There’s really nothing to do with these films except wait and be skeptical. It’s a cash grab for the studio but not for these actors, the director, and his crew.

Becky’s Take-Another live action remake that is totally unnecessary. The new casting does not make me excited for it one bit. When you had first asked me to co-write this blog post with you, you were like, “I’ll just send you 10 things that interest me and you can share your opinion, like Will Smith as Genie?” I honestly thought this was some weird ass example that you had pulled out of your ass. I can’t believe that this is a real thing! What is this casting? Have the directors lost their mind? Probably, seeing as how they didn’t cast a Middle Eastern actress to play Jasmine. I think part of the appeal of these live action remakes is seeing these characters we’ve loved in real life. People have always felt that Princess Jasmine was so white washed in the animated film, so why not take the opportunity to get this representation right? I don’t have anything against Naomi Scott, but I just think it’s the wrong call. Also, these casting choices worry me for the eventual Mulan remake, which I had originally been excited for as it is something that could be captured well cinematically.

Pixar’s Suburban Fantasy Movie           No Release Date

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My Take-Not much information yet, but the key words here are “original” and “Pixar.” News feeds mention talk of elves and trolls mixed with a suburban setting. Curious. It’s also a very personal film for the writer, Don Scanlon, who lost his father when he was a year old, and is incorporating some of that in the story.

Becky-Finally, another original film that we get to talk about! Sometimes it feels like we’re living in sequel and remake hell, so I’m always excited for things that are original especially when it comes to Pixar and Disney Animation Studios. They are just so fucking brilliant sometimes, and this new film from Pixar sounds like it has serious potential. The idea of a suburban fantasy is cool and Pixar can get super creative with the world building. Also anyone else get the feeling that we’re all going to cry our eyes out?

-Becky Davidson,

-Walter Howard-







My Week of Films (July 10-16)

It was a slow movie week for me, as I was unfortunately pretty busy, but I managed to scratch a few films off my to-do list. I also rewatched a personal favorite, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Apart from these films, I saw the epic War for the Planet of the Apes in theaters, and am still working my way through the sprawling British mini-series, The Jewel of the Crown.

Victor/Victoria    96% on Rotten Tomatoes           7     (DVD)

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Starring Julie Andrews, James Garner, Robert Preston, Leslie Ann Warren, Alex Karras, John Rhys-Davies

Plot Summary-Desperate in the extreme to eke out a living in ’30s Paris, two American entertainers (Victoria played by Andrews and Toddy played by Robert Preston) cook up a scheme that can make them rich and famous. Victoria will pretend to be a man who pretends to be a woman on stage. Things grow complicated when an American gangster (Garner) falls for her, and she for him.

My Take-It’s an elaborate and exuberant farce that features fantastic musical numbers, a torrent of gags, and witty one-liners. Feels old-fashioned and edgy, which is why, even today, the film seems progressive. Rather than being laugh out loud funny, Victor/Victoria has a tremendous energy, and even amidst the madcap plot and never ending misunderstandings, the characters are authentic.

-Directed by Blake Edwards, 1982

Christine No Rotten Tomatoes Score            7           (Filmstruck)

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Starring Alain Delon, Romy Schneider, Micheline Presle, Fernand Ledoux

Plot Summary-Tragedy about a young officer caught in an affair with the wife of his superior, just as he has fallen in love with a local Austrian girl.

My Take-The fatalism of its ending was, for me, contrived, but that didn’t keep me from caring. The stars-Schneider and Delon- are two of the most beautiful and photogenic ever to be on screen, and their romance is brief but sweet.

-Directed by Pierre Gaspard-Huit, 1958

The Spy Who Loved Me 79% on Rotten Tomatoes       6          (DVD)

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Starring Roger Moore, Barbara Bach, Curd Jürgens, Richard Kiel

Plot Summary-The threat of a complete psychopath bent on sparking World War III forces James Bond to team up with Russian spy, XXX (a female counterpart equal to him), to take the villain down. Meanwhile, a henchman named Jaws with metal teeth stalks the heroic duo.

My Take-I though about my feelings for this movie long and hard. Many of the elements are great and very memorable. The intro song by Carly Simon might be my favorite Bond song. The villain, who wants to start a new world under water, and his silly but terrifying henchman, Jaws, are unforgettable. I also like that Agent XXX (Lord, that name) is seen as a sort of parallel to Bond. My main problem was that I didn’t find a majority of the action sequences thrilling, and that severely dampened my overall enjoyment of the film.

-Directed by Lewis Gilbert, 1977

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom 85% on Rotten Tomatoes     (VHS)

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Starring Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, Jonathan Ke Quan, Amrish Puri

Plot Summary-Indiana Jones, through chance or fate, winds up in a small village in India in desperate need of a hero. The village’s people are afflicted ever since their sacred stone was stolen. Indy promises to help, leading him to a beautiful palace, discovered to be a base for an underground Thuggee cult. He’s aided on this quest by his loyal and diminutive friend, Short Round (an eleven year old Chinese boy), and Willie (a high-maintenance lounge singer).

My Take-I love this movie. It was the first Indiana Jones film I saw, and that probably played a part in why it’s my favorite of the series. India, to me, is one of the most exotic, mysterious, adventurous locations, and I’m constantly drawn to films that feature it as their setting. The weirdness, the grotesque dinner scene, the bizarre violence that caused the MPAA to step in and create a PG-13 rating, are compelling attractions to me. It’s all part of the amazing spectacle, and Spielberg is at his best here, showcasing his ability of layering the suspense and telling a story.

-Directed by Steven Spielberg, 1984

-Walter Howard-