Throwback Thursday: A Conversation with Colin Hanks

Today is Thursday and it is the start of our Throwback Thursday interview revisits. For our first Thursday, we are going back in time to July 2011, nearly 9 years ago, when we interview Colin Hanks, of course the son of well-known actor Tom Hanks. Colin was starring in the Gil Cates Jr. directed film “LUCKY” along with Ari Graynor, Ann-Margret and Jeffrey Tambor at the time and we were lucky (see what I did there LOL) enough to get an interview with him.

This interview was done back in 2011 when we were still named MovieMikes.com with our own Jon Donahue, who had a KILLER conversation with Colin Hanks to discuss “LUCKY”, his Tower Records documentary and his role on Showtime’s “DEXTER”! Please take the time to watch this whole interview its hysterical and deserves a view. And in case you wanna know…Yes they already knew each other prior to the interview. Enjoy and leave comments!!

Here is the premise for the film:
After Ben (Hanks) wins $36 million in the lottery, Lucy (Graynor) marries him, strictly for the cash. Just as she’s beginning to have genuine feelings for him, however, Lucy discovers that he’s a serial killer whose victims all resemble her. Still, though, there’s no way she’s walking away from those lottery checks, even if it means losing her mind and re-burying all the bodies.

Film Review: “Ordinary Love”

ORDINARY LOVE
Starring: Liam Neeson, Lesley Manville
Directed by: Lisa Barros D’Sa, Glenn Leyburn
Rated: R
Running Time: 1 hr 32 mins
Bleecker Street Media 

Nearly everyone has been affected by cancer in some way. Whether you have had to battle it yourself or had a family member, friend or acquaintance to be diagnosed with it, cancer, as we all know too well, is non-discriminatory as to who it invades. In the somber British drama “Ordinary Love,” this hideous disease inflicts a toll on the relationship of a devoted married couple still haunted by a tragic loss. The ups and downs they experience during one long year are portrayed with absolute brilliance and humanity by Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville (“Phantom Thread”). 

By the time we meet Tom (Neeson) and Joan (Manville), their relationship has developed into one that feels like putting on a comfortable pair of slippers. There is a tangible ease about how they interact with each other, punctuated by wonderful chemistry between the two leads. Initially, they have all the appearances of carefree empty nesters enjoying the autumn period of their lives. However, when Joan discovers a lump in her breast, we learn that underneath the pleasant exterior of their marriage is a scar that runs deep in their souls.

 Somehow, their marriage endured the death of their daughter long ago, but cancer threatens to put them through an altogether different ordeal. Despite trying to maintain a stiff upper lip about her diagnosis, Joan is racked with fear of the unknown while Tom swims in denial while trying to do his best to be supportive. What unfolds over the course of a year are challenges they meet with a variety of emotions, ranging from gut-wrenching despair to laughter to anger born from frustration. Through it all there is a grace which carries them through. 

“Ordinary Love,” which had its world premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, is a serious work of cinematic art that will leave its mark on you. It is raw and unfiltered. Neeson and Manville are terrific at making us feel the painful intensity of their characters’ emotions. For her part, Manville, who was nominated for an Oscar for her role in 2017’s “Phantom Thread,” delivers a gut-wrenching performance as a woman trying to endure a disease that takes its toll on the mind, body and spirit. 

The film’s brevity, at just over an hour-and-a-half, means less time the story can explore the medical/hospital elements of Joan’s cancer. As such, these moments seem rushed and too abbreviated, thus lessening how truly impactful “Ordinary Love” could have been. Some elements are also predictable, yet this can be overlooked as a negative because of the overall emotional potency within the film. “Ordinary Love” is certainly not ordinary and will hit close to home for anyone who has been touched by cancer. 

Film Review: “Onward”

ONWARD
Starring the voices of:  Tom Holland and Chris Pratt
Directed by: Dan Scanlon
Rated:  PG
Running time:  1 hr 42 mins
Walt Disney

Fathers and sons.  As a father (and a son) I can tell you there is nothing like the bond shared between the two.  Films dealing with this special relationship have been around since time immortal.  From “The Godfather” to “The Lion King,”… from “Field of Dreams” to “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” the celebration of that bond is timeless.  So, if you had only 24 hours to discover that bond, wouldn’t you do ANYTHING to achieve it?

Ian Lightfoot (Holland) is turning 16 but he doesn’t seem to pleased.  His mother (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss) wants him to invite his friends over for a party but, with the exception of a few of his classmates, he really doesn’t have any.  Ian lives with his mom and his older brother, Barley (Pratt).  Ian’s father passed away before Ian was born and today, to honor his pop, Ian is wearing his dad’s favorite college sweatshirt.  A random meeting with a former classmate of his dad gives Ian a new insight into him.  To make things even more exciting, his mother gives Ian a present that dad intended to give him on this special day.  It seems that dad was a fan of wizardry and has bequeathed Ian his staff.  He has also given him a spell that will allow Ian to bring his father back for one day.  A day that Ian will remember forever.

I’ll have to admit that I went into this film not expecting much.  Obviously, as it was from PIXAR, I knew that visually it would be amazing (and I was right) but from the previews I didn’t think the story would hold my attention.  WRONG!  Helped by the strong vocal performances from the cast, “Onward” is a fine addition to the proud line up of films the company has produced.  It hits all of the emotional notes and, if you’ve ever been a child who longed for a few extra moments alone with your dad, it brings tears to your eyes.

Like most animated films these days, the cast is top notch.  Holland brings his youthful exuberance to the role while Pratt is all blustery bravado.  Both actors inhabit their characters.  Louis-Dreyfuss, Octavia Spencer and the rest of the cast do likewise.  Visually, the film is gorgeous.  Brightly colored and stunningly rendered, this is a film that can stand proudly next to such recent fare as “Toy Story 4” and “UP” as a can’t miss hit for the entire family to enjoy!

The Final Battle Has Arrived! Warner Bros. Home Entertainment And DC Present “Justice League Dark: Apokolips War”

COMING MAY 5, 2020 TO DIGITAL; ARRIVING MAY 19, 2020 ON 4K Ultra HD™ BLU-RAY combo pack, & BLU-RAY™ COMBO PACK

BURBANK, CA (March 4, 2019) – The World’s Greatest Super Heroes square off once-and-for-all against the despotic Darkseid – with the fate of all humanity hanging in the balance – in Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, the next entry in the popular series of DC Universe Movies. Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC, the feature-length animated film will be released by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on Digital starting May 5, 2020, and on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack and Blu-ray Combo Pack on May 19, 2020.

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War will be accompanied by the all-new DC Showcase animated short, Adam Strange. The thrilling tale, which offers insight into the space adventurer’s fascinating backstory, features Charlie Weber (How To Get Away with Murder) as the voice of title character.

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War will be available on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (USA $39.99 SRP; Canada $44.98 SRP) and Blu-ray Combo Pack (USA $24.98 SRP; Canada $29.98  SRP) as well as on Digital. The 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack features an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc in 4K with HDR, a Blu-ray disc featuring the film in hi-definition, and a digital version of the movie. The Blu-ray Combo Pack features a Blu-ray disc with the film in hi-definition, a DVD with the film in standard definition, and a digital version of the movie.

Culminating a six-year animated journey that began with the release of Justice League War in 2014, Justice League Dark: Apokolips War finds Earth decimated after intergalactic tyrant Darkseid has devastated the Justice League in a poorly executed war by the DC Super Heroes. Now the remaining bastions of good – the Justice League, Teen Titans, Suicide Squad and assorted others – must regroup, strategize and take the war to Darkseid in order to save the planet and its surviving inhabitants. This is truly the war to end all wars, and only the victor will live to enjoy the spoils.

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War features the largest Super Hero cast in the history of DC Universe Movies with dozens of actors/characters spotlighted in a grand ensemble of talent reprising their roles from this six-year story continuum. Matt Ryan (Legends of Tomorrow, Constantine), Jerry O’Connell (Carter, Bravo’s Play by Play, Stand by Me) and Taissa Farmiga (The Nun, The Mule, American Horror Story) anchor the cast as Constantine, Superman and Raven, respectively – the triumvirate determined to assemble the forces necessary to lead humanity’s final attack. Alongside that trio are the long-running core of Justice League voices — Jason O’Mara (The Man in the High Castle, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) as Batman, Rosario Dawson (Briar Patch, Daredevil, Sin City) as Wonder Woman, Shemar Moore (S.W.A.T., Criminal Minds) as Cyborg and Christopher Gorham (Covert Affairs, Insatiable, Ugly Betty) as The Flash – as well as JL-adjacents Rebecca Romijn (X-Men, The Librarians) and Rainn Wilson (The Office, The Meg) as the voices of Lois Lane and Lex Luthor, respectively.

Tony Todd (Candyman) is the voice of the film’s key villain, Darkseid. The cast also boasts appearances by Camilla Luddington (Grey’s Anatomy) as Zatanna, Ray Chase (Justice League Dark, Final Fantasy XV videogame) as Jason Blood/Etrigan, Roger R. Cross (24, The Strain, Arrow) as John Stewart & Swamp Thing, Liam McIntyre (Spartacus: War of the Damned, The Flash) as Captain Boomerang, Hynden Walch (Teen Titans Go! Vs. Teen Titans) as Harley Quinn, Stuart Allan (Batman vs. Robin, Batman: Bad Blood) as Robin/Damian, Sachie Alessio (Batman: Hush) as Lady Shiva, and John DiMaggio (Futurama, Batman: Under the Red Hood) as King Shark.

Directors Matt Peters (LEGO DC: Batman – Family Matters) and Christina Sotta (Young Justice) helm Justice League Dark: Apokolips War from a script by Ernie Altbacker (Batman: Hush, Justice League Dark) and Mairghread Scott (Wonder Woman: Bloodlines), who is also credited with creating the story. Amy McKenna (The Death of Superman) is producer, and Jim Krieg (Batman: Gotham by Gaslight) is co-producer. Executive Producers are Sam Register and James Tucker (Reign of the Supermen, Justice League Dark).

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is an epic story of supernatural proportions. A blockbuster, battle royale of a film filled with intense action and heartfelt emotions, serving up spotlight moments for our cast of unique characters,” said Mary Ellen Thomas, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Senior Vice President, Originals, Animation and Family Marketing. “This incredible thrill-ride takes us to the edge of the DC universe and sets the stage for an exciting new chapter.”

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War Special Features

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital

  • DC Showcase: Adam Strange (Animated Short) – On an asteroid mining colony, mysterious drifter Adam Strange is dismissed as an interplanetary derelict. But when the miners open a fissure into the home of a horde of deadly alien insects, his true identity is exposed. He is space adventurer Adam Strange, whose heroic backstory is played out in flashbacks as he struggles to save the very people who have scorned him for so long. Charlie Weber provides the voice of Adam Strange, alongside with Roger R. Cross, Kimberly Brooks, Ray Chase and Fred Tatasciore. Adam Strange is produced and directed by Butch Lukic (Batman Unlimited franchise), who also conceived the original story – which is written by J.M. DeMatteis (Constantine: City of Demons).
  • Darkseid: New God/Evil Classic (New Featurette) – This documentary explores the machinations of one of fiction¹s greatest Super Villains as we learn more about what fuels Darkseid¹s drive to becoming a galactic Atilla the Hun and the importance of Deities in our classic and modern fiction.
  • Filmmaker Audio Commentary – Observations and behind-the-scenes insight from Executive Producer James Tucker, Directors Matt Peters and Christina Sotta, and Screenwriter Ernie Altbacker.
  • Look Back: Justice League Dark (Featurette) – John Constantine leads a group of misfit characters that use magic to vanquish their opponents. This is the dark version of the Justice League taking on the malevolent forces that go beyond our plane of existence.
  • Look Back: Batman and Harley Quinn (Featurette) – Take a peek at the animated feature film, Batman and Harley Quinn, featuring the creators and talented voice cast. 
  • From the DC Vault: Justice League Action, “Zombie King”
  • From the DC Vault: Justice League Action, “Abate and Switch”
  • From the DC Comics Vault: Teen Titans, “Nevermore”
  • A Sneak Peek at the next DC Universe Movie, Superman: Man of Tomorrow – An advanced look at the next animated film in the popular DC Universe Movies collection.

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War will also be available on Movies Anywhere. Using the free Movies Anywhere app and website, consumers can access all their eligible movies by connecting their Movies Anywhere account with their participating digital retailer accounts.

DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION ELEMENTS

On May 5, 2020, Justice League Dark: Apokolips War will be available to own in high definition and standard definition from select digital retailers including Amazon, the Apple TV app, FandangoNOW, PlayStation, Vudu, Xbox and others. On May 19, 2020, Justice League Dark: Apokolips War will be made available digitally on Video On Demand services from cable and satellite providers, and on select gaming consoles.

ABOUT MOVIES ANYWHERE

Movies Anywhere is a digital movie platform that enables movie fans to discover, access, and watch their favorite digital movies in one place. Movies Anywhere brings together a library of nearly 7,500 digital movies from Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox Film, The Walt Disney Studios (including Disney, Pixar, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm), Universal Pictures (including DreamWorks and Illumination Entertainment) and Warner Bros., and will continue to expand the consumer experience as more content providers, digital retailers and platforms are added. By connecting participating digital retailers that include Amazon Prime Video,  the Apple TV app, FandangoNOW, Google Play, and Vudu, movie fans can now bring together their digital movie collections (whether purchased or redeemed) in one place and enjoy them from the comfort of their living rooms, and across multiple devices and platforms, including Amazon Fire devices; Android devices and Android TV; Apple TV, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch; Chromecast; Roku® devices and popular browsers. Movie fans can also redeem digital codes found in eligible Blu-ray and DVD disc packages from participating studios and enjoy them through Movies Anywhere. Movies Anywhere – your movies, together at last.

ABOUT DIGITAL

Digital movies or TV episodes allow fans to watch a digital version of their movie or TV show anywhere, on their favorite devices. Digital movies or TV episodes are included with the purchase of specially marked Blu-ray discs. With digital, consumers are able to instantly stream and download movies and TV shows to TVs, computers, tablets and smartphones through retail services. For more information on compatible devices and services go to wb.com/digitalmoviefaq. Consult a digital retailer for details and requirements and for a list of digital-compatible devices.

BASICS

PRODUCT                                                                 SRP

4K UHD Combo Pack                                                $39.99 USA, $44.98 Canada

Blu-ray Combo Pack                                                  $24.98 USA, $29.98 Canada

Blu-ray Languages: English, Spanish, French

Blu-ray Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

4K Blu-ray Languages: English, Spanish, French

4K Blu-ray Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

Running Time: 90 minutes

Rated R for bloody violence, language and some sexual references.

About Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Inc.:

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) brings together Warner Bros. Entertainment’s home video, digital distribution and interactive entertainment businesses in order to maximize current and next-generation distribution scenarios. An industry leader since its inception, WBHE oversees the global distribution of content through packaged goods (Blu-ray Disc™ and DVD) and digital media in the form of electronic sell-through and video-on-demand via cable, satellite, online and mobile channels, and is a significant developer and publisher for console and online video game titles worldwide. WBHE distributes its product through third party retail partners and licensees.

ABOUT DC

DC is one of the largest English-language publishers of comics and graphic novels in the world and home to some of the most iconic and recognizable characters ever created. As a creative unit of WarnerMedia, DC is charged with strategically integrating its stories and characters across film, television, consumer products, home entertainment, interactive games and the DC Universe subscription streaming service. For more information visit dccomics.com.

JUSTICE LEAGUE and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © DC.  © 2020 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

About Warner Bros. Animation

Warner Bros. Animation (WBA) is one of the leading producers of animation in the entertainment industry, producing and developing projects for multiple platforms, both domestically and internationally. WBA’s current series include Animaniacs for Hulu, Green Eggs and Ham for Netflix, Aquaman: King of Atlantis, Gremlins: Secrets of the MogwaiJellystone, Little Ellen and Looney Tunes Cartoons for HBO Max, Harley Quinn and Young Justice: Outsiders for DC UNIVERSE, DC Super Hero Girls, Teen Titans Go!, ThunderCats Roar and Unikitty! for Cartoon Network, Bunnicula, Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, New Looney Tunes, Scooby-Doo! and Guess Who?, The Tom and Jerry Show, Wacky Races and Yabba-Dabba Dinosaurs! for Boomerang. WBA’s full-length theatrical film, Teen Titans GO! to the Movies, was released in summer 2018. As home to the iconic animated characters from the DC, Hanna-Barbera, MGM and Looney Tunes libraries, WBA also produces highly successful animated films — including the DC Universe Movies — for DVD, Blu-ray® and digital media. One of the most-honored animation studios in history, WBA has won six Academy Awards®, 35 Emmy® Awards, the George Foster Peabody Award, a BAFTA Children’s Award, an Environmental Media Award, a Parents’ Choice Award, the HUMANITAS Prize, two Prism Awards and 20 Annie Awards (honoring excellence in animation).

Blu-ray Review “Parasite”

Directed by: Bong Joon-ho
Starring: Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Lee Jung-eun, Jang Hye-jin
Distributed by: CJ Entertainment
Running time: 132 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
A/V: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

Director Bong Joon Ho has been on my radar since “The Host”, and “Snowpiercer”. Two amazing movies that the average viewers have never seen but hopefully that will change now. “Parasite” made history as the first Korean film to be nominated for an Oscar®. The film received six Oscar® nominations and ended up winning not only Best International Film but also Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay. This film is definitely the underdog and deserved everything it got. It is a very unique and original film and I am glad to see it get the attention it deserves.

Featuring incredible must-see performances from the entire cast including Song Kang Ho (Snowpiercer, The Host), Lee Sun Kyun (A Hard Day, Paju), Cho Yeo Jeong (The Servant, Obsessed), Choi Woo Shik (Okja, Train to Busan), Park So Dam (The Priests, The Silenced), Lee Jung Eun (Okja, The Wailing) and Chang Hyae Jin (Marine Boy, If It Snows on Christmas). Everyone in this cast does an amazing job. I am huge fan of Song Kang Ho and I am glad to see him back with director Bong Joon Ho. I would definitely call this film an ensemble cast. Literally outstanding.

Official Premise: In PARASITE, meet the Park family, the picture of aspirational wealth and the Kim family, rich in street smarts but not much else. Be it chance or fate, these two houses are brought together and the Kim’s sense a golden opportunity. Masterminded by college-aged Ki-woo, the Kim children expediently install themselves as tutor and art therapist to the Parks. Soon, a symbiotic relationship forms between the two families. The Kims provide “indispensable” luxury services while the Parks obliviously bankroll their entire household. When a parasitic interloper threatens the Kims’ newfound comfort, a savage, underhanded battle for dominance breaks out, threatening to destroy the fragile ecosystem between the Kims and the Parks.

Technically this release is amazing. The 1080p transfer is gorgeous. The colors are simply gorgeous. According to IMDB, this film was shot at a resolution of 6.5K and finished at 4K and then downscaled to 1080p. But simply, this film just looks beautiful. The Korean language DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack is the only audio option on the disc. There is no dub track only English subtitles are included. This is the way to watch the film anyway. I wouldn’t want to see this dubbed. The score works well with this track also. It is just simply perfect. Overall, in terms of technical merits this release deserves a big major thumbs up!

Despite the amazing A/V on this release, personally I am a bit disappointed in the Blu-ray release for “Parasite”, I feel like it was rushed to release. It also didn’t get a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release, which is a bit sad. With the way this film was shot it would be amazing in 4K. It is though available to stream in 4K Ultra HD if that is your thing, just not on disc. Also the special features aren’t very special. There is only one extra included on this Blu-ray disc, which is a Q&A with Director Bong Joon Ho. It is worth watching if you enjoyed the film but I was really hoping for more. I don’t think anyone expected this film to do what it did. Hopefully there will be a re-release of this film in 4K Ultra HD in a nice steelbook release in the future.

Film Review: “The Invisible Man”

THE INVISIBLE MAN
Starring:  Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen
Directed by: Leigh Whannell
Rated:  R
Running time:  2 hrs 4 mins
Universal

There’s a great joke I first heard in the eighth grade that deals with a mishap involving Superman, Wonder Woman and the Invisible Man.  I can’t relate it hear but believe me, the punchline is killer.  So is the latest incarnation of the Invisible Man.

We open on a couple in bed.  As Adrian (Jackson-Cohen) sleeps, Cecilia (Moss) gets up, gathers some things and makes her way quietly out of the state of the art house.  Doing her best to avoid cameras and not set off alarms, she makes her way to the road, where a ride is waiting.  But she will soon find out that you can’t run away from some things, no matter how hard you try.

Genuinely terrifying, with a tour-de-force performance by Ms. Moss, “The Invisible Man” starts off slowly and clumsy.  20-minutes in I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to see a rehash of “Sleeping with the Enemy,” only with a Patrick Bergin that I couldn’t see.  But just as that thought came into my head, writer/director Whannell flipped the switch, taking the film into directions I never would have imagined.

There have been many attempts at filming H.G. Wells’ story of a man with the power of invisibility, from the 1933 Universal Horror Classic “The Invisible Man” starring Claude Rains to the 2000 Kevin Bacon-starrer “Hollow Man.”  Heck, even Kurt Russell and Chevy Chase have taken comedic shots at the story.  But here, the main theme is terror, especially to an audience who is on the edge of their seats, intently staring at the screen and looking for the slightest hint the bad guy is there.

Moss is a revelation here.  Best known for her television and streaming work (“Mad Men,” “The Handmaids Tale”) and a strong supporting turn in last year’s Jordan Peele horror masterpiece, “Us,” she has the unenviable job of basically interacting with a character that the audience never sees.  Whether arguing, pleading or physically fighting with our villain, it’s just her on the screen, yet you feel her terror, especially when she is violently struggling with an entity that she (nor the audience) can see.  Mr. Whannell, no stranger to horror thanks to his involvement in the “Saw” and “Insidious” film series, keeps the pace moving (after the first half-hour) and uses his camera as an almost additional character.  The musical score, by Benjamin Wallfisch (“IT,” “Bladerunner: 2049), helps set the mood as well.  The result is the most terrifying film since the aforementioned “Us.”  By all means, go see it…even if you can’t SEE it!

Film Review: “Emma”

EMMA
Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Johnny Flynn
Directed by: Autumn de Wilde
Rated: Rated PG
Running Time: 2 hrs 5 mins
Focus Features 

Patience is a virtue and you must be virtuous indeed to eventually enjoy the newest adaptation of Jane Austen’s 1815 classic novel, “Emma.” This is due to its initial pacing, which is lethargic, and it takes a bit to get comfortable with the cadence of the dialogue. Anya Taylor-Joy (“Glass,” “Split”) delivers a solid performance as the strong-willed title character, but excepting Bill Nighy as her character’s somewhat eccentric father, the remaining supporting cast doesn’t provide much that is memorable. Some of the blasé quality can arguably be attributed to “Emma” being the feature-length film debut for American director Autumn de Wilde, whose previous endeavors have predominately been video shorts. The trick for something so well known, and thus predictable like “Emma” is for it to be unpredictable. Sadly, it fails to surprise in any way. 

This silver screen adaptation of Austen’s work begins by telling us that, “Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and a happy disposition… and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.” Having grown up in a privileged, aristocratic existence, Emma is spoiled and is vain about her matchmaking abilities. Her own self-aggrandizement has caused her to be blind to the dangers of playing with other people’s hearts. 

With no wish to become married herself, even though she pines away for an often talked about yet unseen Frank Churchill (Callum Turner, “War & Peace”), it has become Emma’s desire to follow-up her most recent matchmaking success by finding a suitable suitor for her friend, Harriet Smith (Mia Goth, “Suspiria”). Harriet is a nice girl with a pleasant disposition but is not as high on the social ladder as Emma, which is a challenge for her because she wants to upgrade Harriet’s status.

 Emma proves to be ignorant of a good thing right in front of her in the form of one George Knightley (Johnny Flynn, “Clouds of Sils Maria”), a gentleman of means who lives within walking distance. Generous and kind-hearted, George doesn’t mince words with Emma as he often expresses disdain for her meddling in other people’s affairs. Ultimately, Emma finds herself in an ostracized position and must look inward in order to make things right.

 “Emma” contains some beautiful costume designs, wonderful locations, and good cinematography throughout its running time. It’s nice icing on the cake, but the cake itself is what’s truly important. There are a few moments that produce laughter, especially ones involving Nighy being a scene stealer, but de Wilde’s retelling fails to pull on the heartstrings enough to evoke a deep, emotional reaction when the climax arrives. It’s a decent enough film so that one doesn’t feel like they have wasted two hours of their life, yet “Emma” isn’t something that’s so impactful that you will still remember it say two years from now except, of course, for perhaps diehard Austen fans.

Film Review: “The Call of the Wild”

THE CALL OF THE WILD
Starring: Harrison Ford
Directed by: Chris Sanders
Rated: Rated PG
Running Time: 1 hr 40 mins
20th Century Studios 

The 1903 novel “The Call of the Wild” by American novelist John “Jack” London (1876-1916) was written after the author had spent nearly a year in the wilds of the Canadian Yukon. It is arguably his most popular work and has been adapted to film several times – a silent film in 1923 followed by a 1935 version starring Clark Gable and Loretta Young, and numerous others since. Its indelible mark on American literature cannot be discounted as Hollywood has yet again decided to release another silver screen adaptation. Directed by Chris Sanders (“The Croods,” “How to Train Your Dragon”) and starring Harrison Ford, this newest incarnation is a dullish version of London’s classic tale. It’s tragic because the original story is full of harrowing adventure and timeless themes. However, its clear that Sanders and 20th Century Studios, formerly 20th Century Fox, wanted to make a more politically correct and kid-friendly story. 

Set in 1897, we meet Buck, a 140-pound St. Bernard-Scotch Collie mix, at the Santa Clara Valley home of one Judge Miller (Bradley Whitford). A highly intelligent, happy-go-lucky pet, Buck has a knack for getting himself into trouble. It’s all nice and cute and feels like a Disney movie at this point, but what becomes annoying perpetually forward is that Buck is a CGI creation, and a poor one at that. It gives the film a phony quality, but of course it might have caused too much controversy if a real dog had been used instead. Be that as it may, after one trouble-filled occasion, Buck is forced to stay the night on the porch, which proves to be a fateful decision by Judge Miller. A nefarious local steals Buck for the money he will receive from those looking for good sled dogs in the Yukon. 

After learning the law of the club, Buck is purchased by a mail deliverer and his assistant who need a new dog for their sled team. (Amidst this, Buck has his first encounter with John Thornton (Harrison Ford), a man with a wounded soul looking to disappear into the northern wilderness.) Gradually, Buck, guided by a black wolf that represents his inner call to the wild, learns to be a part of a pack, but he ends up butting heads with the team’s menacing sled leader, Spitz for leadership. This conflict, for example, has been watered-down to the point it fails to reflect the struggles of nature that London related in his work. However, it’s par for the course as London’s original, brilliant story is repeatedly gutted. 

Eventually, Buck acquires yet another new master, but this one is cruel, naïve and blinded by gold lust. When Buck is worked nearly to death, it is Thornton who saves him and takes him in. Perpetually mourning the loss of his son, Thornton answers a call to adventure and sets out with Buck to find the wildest place they can. Once there, Buck is put in a position to decide if he wants to stay in the world of man or answer his ancestral calling. The real calling, though, that everyone should answer is stay away from this movie. Instead, pick up London’s book, or download it, and read it for yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

The 10 Best Films of the Past Decade (2010-2019)

This past week Media Mikes celebrated their 10th Anniversary. It seems like only yesterday when Mike Gencarelli and I, who were at the time writing for other websites, decided to start our own. We were Movie Mikes for awhile, until Mike G. had the brilliant idea of helping to promote the upcoming AMC series “The Walking Dead.” His interview series put a big spotlight on the site and convinced us that, rather than be a movie inclusive site, we would cover the entire spectrum of Pop Culture. Hello, Media Mikes.

Since that time we (Mike G, myself and our amazing staff of writers) have reviewed over 1,000 theatrically released films and almost another 2,000 films on DVD/Blu-ray. We’ve told you what we’ve liked and what we haven’t. This week, Jeremy Werner and I have compiled our lists of the Best Films of the past decade. Let us know if you agree with us or if there was a film you think we missed.

Michael A. Smith’s 10 Best Films of the Decade

1917 Might as well start with the most recent of the group. An intriguing story that takes you along with it, thanks to the brilliant direction of Sam Mendes and the amazing Oscar-winning Cinematography by Roger Deakins.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo David Fincher at his best. I had not (nor have I) seen the original Swedish trilogy but I walked out of this film stunned by Fincher’s handiwork.

The Birth of a Nation Due to negative publicity surrounding filmmaker Nate Parker, this film never got the true recognition it deserved. A tour-de-force for Parker who not only directed and co-wrote the film but starred in it as well.

All the Money in the World Director Ridley Scott took a huge gamble when, due to the negative publicity surrounding star Kevin Spacey, and with the film already completed and awaiting release, he recast Spacey’s role with Christopher Plummer and re-shot all of Spacey’s scenes. Plummer would go on to receive an Oscar nomination for his work.

Bohemian Rhapsody” THIS is what a bio-pic should be. The story of the greatest front man in Rock and Roll history with a brilliant, Oscar-winning performance by Rami Malik. This is the film ROCKETMAN wanted to be.

Get Out Jordan Peele re-wrote the rules on horror films with this Academy Award winning masterpiece. He continued on a roll with his follow-up film, “US.”

Les Miserables Hugh Jackman may be the Wolverine to most of the world but to me he delivered his best performance ever here.

Unbroken” An inspirational true story of heroism and faith capably directed by Angelina Jolie.

Skyfall” Sean Connery will always be the definitive James Bond, but what Daniel Craig has brought to the character is nothing short of brilliant. His final appearance as Bond is due this year. Bring on Idris Elba!

The Marvel Cinematic Universe. This 23-film series (I’m including this past year’s “Spider-man: Far From Home”) is sure to be a blueprint followed by studios until the end of time. When Robert Downey, Jr informs the smug Thanos “I am Ironman” at the end of “Avengers: End Game” the emotional roller coaster takes one more powerful dip.

Jeremy Werner’s Lists

Instead of the stereotypical Top 10, I cheated a lot on my “Best of the Decade” list. Mainly because I find it incredibly difficult to narrow down my choices to a top 10, much less a top 15. So I created three lists, and put them in no particular order, so I can share my love for these movies that still resonate with me in 2020. I also didn’t want to reveal any biases that I may have on this list, so I didn’t include any description as to why I adore these films.

Best of the Decade

“Inception”
“Spider-Man Into the Spiderverse”
“Drive”
“1917”
“Nightcrawler”
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

“Silver Linings Playbook”
“The Lego Movie”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“Swiss Army Man”

“Eighth Grade”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Inside Out”
“Gravity”
“12 Years a Slave”
“Wolf of Wall Street”
“Inside Out”
“Zootopia”
“Get Out”
“Parasite”

Honorable Mentions:
Midsommar
“Bridesmaids”
“Edge of Tomorrow”
“Detroit”
“Hell or High Water”
“Baby Driver”
“Life of Pi”
“Scott Pilgrim vs the World”
“Blade Runner 2049”
“Sicario”
“Blackkklansman”
“Dredd”
“Under the Skin”
“The Spectacular Now”
“The Florida Project”

So Weird, Shocking, or Unexplainable, they have to be mentioned, even if they aren’t great:
“Climax”
Mandy
“Sorry to Bother You”
“Mom and Dad”
“One Cut of the Dead”
“The Neon Demon”
“The Greasy Strangler”
“mother!”
“Hobo with a Shotgun”
“We are the Flesh”

Michael D. Smith’s 10 Best Films of the Decade

Coming up with a top ten list for a year is difficult enough, but it is at least ten times more maddening to finalize the best of a decade! So, I cheated a bit and added five honorable mentions. As I looked back, I picked those that pushed the envelope in some way or left an impression with me that still reverberates to present day. Beginning with #10…

10. “Hell or High Water”
9. “Prisoners”
8. “Inception”
7. “Ex Machina”
6. “A Quiet Place”
5. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
4. “The Revenant”
3. “Get Out”
2. “Lincoln”
1. “12 Years A Slave”

Honorable Mentions:
“Snowpiercer”
“The Skin I Live In”
“Logan”
“Arrival”
“Interstellar”

Blu-ray Review: “JoJo Rabbit”

  • JOJO RABBIT
  • Starring:  Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie and Scarlett Johansson
  • Fox Searchlight
  • Running Time: 108 mins
  • Film: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

Nominated for six Academy Awards and much-deserved winner of the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, “JoJo Rabbit” is unlike anything you’d ever expect to see.  Unless, of course, you were looking to see a film about a young German boy during World War II whose best (and imaginary) friend is Adolf Hitler.

10-year old JoJo (Davis) lives with his mother, Rosie (Johansson) in a small town in Germany.  It is the time of the second world war and, like a good German boy, JoJo is anticipating his upcoming trip to the Kinderlandverschickung, which was a camp designed to indoctrinate young boys and girls into the ways of the Nazi party.  Think of it as the boy/girl scouts but with grenades.  JoJo can’t wait to wear the uniform and display the dagger given to all of the Hitler Youth.  However, after declaring that he is ready to kill for the Fuhrer, he is given a rabbit to kill to prove his fierceness.  Unable to do so, he attempts to set the rabbit free, earning him the mocking laughter of his fellow campers and the nickname “JoJo Rabbit.”  Despite this shame, he is encouraged to walk the Nazi Party line by his imaginary friend, Hitler himself (played by the film’s writer/director Taika Waititi),  To make matters worse, JoJo discovers that his mother is hiding a young Jewish girl (McKenzie) in their house.  Whatever is a young Nazi to do?

Brilliantly written and skillfully directed, “JoJo Rabbit” is well deserving of its Oscar nominations, among them Best Picture.  You have to walk a fine line to be able to laugh at one of the most horrible times in our world’s history and Mr. Waititi walks it like he was a member of the Wallenda family.  The film is also carried by the amazing performances delivered.  Mr. Davis, who was eleven years old when he made the film (his first professional acting gig) received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical and, if not for the strong field this year, could have quite easily been up for an Oscar as well.  Also turning in fine work are Ms. McKenzie and Ms. Johansson, who was named the year’s Best Supporting Actress by the readers of Media Mikes earlier this year for her work here.  Strong supporting work from Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant and Mr. Waititi round out a flawless cast. 

There are some great supplements included under the EXTRA tab, including three deleted scenes, Outtakes, a nice behind-the-scenes featurette and an insightful audio commentary by writer/director Taika Waititi.  Also included are the film’s teaser and theatrical trailer.

Film Review: “Feedback”

FEEDBACK
Starring: Eddie Marsan, Paul Anderson, Ivana Baquero
Directed By: Pedro C. Alonso
Not Rated
Running Time 98 min
Blue Fox Entertainment

A London radio station transforms into a pressure cooker when a late night host is held captive in his own recording studio. What starts as a not-wholly-unexpected hostage situation for the controversial host quickly reveals the thugs have more personal than political reasons for their chosen target. Director Pedro Alonso’s Feedback, which is now out on VOD and releases February 18th on DVD, is a tightly orchestrated thriller that hinges on a strong leading performance from Eddie Marsan despite a questionable point of view. 

Dolan Jarvis (Marsan) has been attacked before. Anchoring a late night radio show called “Grim Reality” where he rages on all things political (Brexit, Russian election tampering, et al), he isn’t as shaken as the average person returning to work after having been attacked by angry listeners. That said, his producer (Anthony Head) is still angling to force a co-host on him in the form of rocker Andrew Wilde (Paul Anderson, “Peaky Blinders”). As he starts his usual broadcast, a group of masked thugs trap Jarvis in his studio and threaten him to stick to their exact script when Wilde arrives. At first Jarvis balks but he gets on board when he realizes his daughter, who also happens to be in the radio offices that night, as well as his young studio technicians are threatened as well.

What should be a limiting contrivance–holding all action captive in a recording space–is actually one of the film’s strengths. Alonso goes a long way to making sure that the viewers feel Jarvis’s claustrophobia as his assailants bear down on him. The pristine studio also makes for a good visual contrast with the acts of violence. Then in the latter stages of the film, he keeps throwing Marsan further into situations where he feels more and more like a rat in a maze. It’s highly stressful and highly effective.

Marsan meanwhile as the victim gains a lot of sympathy when he’s first caught that pays off in dividends for the film. Alonso pulls a bit of a switcheroo by firmly placing the audience on Jarvis’s team so to speak before the ostensible villains of the piece get him and Wilde to expose more of their past digressions on air. If it weren’t for Marsan and Anderson’s respective charisma, I think this film would have run a real risk of losing viewers completely when all is said and done. Your mileage may vary, but despite where the film takes the characters, it still delivers several gasp-inducing thrills and is worthwhile for Marsan’s performance.

Film Review: “Downhill”

DOWNHILL
Starring:  Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss
Directed by:  Nat Faxon and Jim Rash
Rated: R
Searchlight Pictures       

WARNING:  Do not be fooled by the previews for the film “Downhill” which highlight a few humorous scenes from the film.  If it’s funny you’re looking for…this aint it!

Pete and Billie (Ferrell and Louis-Dreyfuss) have arrived in Austria for a skiing vacation with their children.  On the surface things seem fine and the first night in their hotel goes swimmingly.  The next morning Pete brings out his father’s old ski hat and we learn that he is still grieving the man’s passing several months before.  While lunching on the terrace of their chalet a “planned” avalanche heads towards the chalet and buries everyone on the terrace in a pile of snow.  Except for Pete.  At the moment of truth he has hopped off his chair, grabbed his cell phone and run off, leaving Billie to try to shield her sons from the white peril.  They are fine but Billie can not understand why Pete left them.  And here is where we learn the film’s title refers not to the skiing but to Pete and Billie’s relationship.  Are you laughing yet?

Based on a French film titled “Force Majeure” – a term which is defined as  “unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract” – “Downhill” is more a drama than a comedy.  Pete must deal with his feelings of loss regarding his father and the look of shame in his boy’s eyes for his cowardice.  Billie must deal with her perceived loss of trust in Pete to look out for and care for the family.  A “chance” meeting with one of Pete’s co-workers and his lady friend, both of whom seem carefree compared to Pete and Billie, only make things worse.  There are some funny parts but most of them are contributed by Miranda Otto who plays “Charlotte,” a lady at the chalet looking to enjoy her life and the adventures it holds.

Not to say that Ferrell and Louis-Dreyfuss aren’t fine in their roles.  They each handle the dramatics well.  I think it’s the fact that the film took me off guard concerning it’s theme that resulted in the rating I’ve given it.  I mean, I honestly think I laughed more at “Joker.”  Co-directors Faxon and Rash also did the same thing on a film I loved called “The Way Way Back.”  They also co-wrote it, as the did here along with Jessie Armstrong.  “The Way Way Back” was also a mix of drama and comedy but it had something that “Downhill” is clearly missing.  Heart.

“Cashing Out” Movie Review

Cashing Out
Starring: Tyler Mills, Michaela Lichvanova, Tremont Turner
Directed by: Alex Srednoselac
Running Time: 1 hr 58 mins
AWS Films

Alex Srednoselac is the man behind the newest movie about gambling. The director hopes to move away from all the tired casino clichés and show the world of gambling in a more raw or realistic way. Sresnoselac, who had worked at the Portage 16 movie theatres for almost a decade, shares a deep love for films and cinematography. Over the years, his desire to direct or shoot his own films has only got stronger. Having lived around films, and interacted with viewers on a daily basis, Sresnoselac managed to learn a fair bit… Despite never attending a film school or receiving any formal training.

Cashing Out follows the main character, Allen. Allen wants to play casino games with high stakes and work on his skills as a professional gambler. He pursues his love for gambling, but he finds himself tangled up in organized crime. During one of his high stake games, a group of robbers disrupts the game, stealing everyone’s cash. Later, the protagonist reveals that he was also involved in the robbery and actively helped to make it happen. The plot thickens. We follow Allen as he tries to disassociate himself from the messy crime scene, manage his love life and family affairs, all while keeping his “special relationship” with poker. The movie is relatable, exciting and feels fresh. It is rare to surprise or impress anyone with a gambling move… It has been a while since we saw anything this original, offering an interesting take or angle on gambling and casino-style games.

Besides the intriguing plotline, the main appeal of the story is that it takes gambling in a completely different direction. We are used to bland portrayals of casino games as tropes and set-ups for other more important storylines. Unfortunately, movies tend to show a completely one-sided view of what it is like to be a professional gambler. What sets this movie apart is the director himself, Alex Srednoselac. Srednoselac has been an avid poker player for as long as he can remember. The Portage 16 movie manager has a first-hand experience of what it is like to enjoy professional gambling. While the director is definitely the main hero of the story, the movie was only made possible thanks to the active involvement of the local community in Chicago, where he is based.

As we mentioned before, the director has been working in the theatre since 2007. All of his co-workers, as well as the local residents, were more than excited to help him out! The whole movie crew was made up of “just” 60 people. The budget was minimal. The Portage 16 also offered to screen Srednoselac’s movie in the theatre. This already is a “tradition” that the cinema follows every year, in order to help those young creators gain more exposure or wider recognition for their work. The years spent serving movie-goers have not gone to waste. In fact, they helped Srednoselac achieve his dream. The film is already in line for multiple awards and has attracted all-positive reviews on the leading movie ranking sites.

Joker, 1917 and Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood Lead Winners for the 9th Annual Media Mikes Awards

Now that the Oscars dust has settled, it’s time to take a look at how we here at Media Mikes, readers and writers alike, voted for our top cinematic achievements of 2019 in our 9th Annual Media Mikes Awards

“Joker,” Todd Phillips’s dark look at the origins of Batman’s greatest enemy, “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood,” Quentin Tarantino’s fable about the summer of 1969 and Sam Mendes’s enthralling WWI drama, “1917”, topped our lists with two awards each.

“Hollywood” took home the big prize as the year’s Best Picture and also nabbed Best Supporting Actor award for Brad Pitt. “Joker” earned wins for Joaquin Phoenix as Best Actor as well as Best Original Score, written and composed by Hildur Guðnadóttir. “1917” earned the award for Best Director for Sam Mendes and was also recognized for its cinematography by the legendary Roger Deakins.

Additional winners included Reneé Zellwegger as Best Actress for her portrayal of Judy Garland in “Judy” and Scarlett Johansson as Best Supporting Actress for her work in “JoJo Rabbit.”

“Toy Story 4” was chosen as the year’s Best Animated Feature.

This year saw more than 3,000 readers submit their choices in the seven top categories, check out the complete list of our winners below

Reader Voted Awards Went to…

Best Picture – “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood”
Best Director – Sam Mendes, “1917”
Best Actor – Joaquin Phoenix, “Joker”
Best Actress – Renee Zellweger, “Judy”
Best Supporting Actress – Scarlett Johansson, “Jojo Rabbit”
Best Supporting Actor – “Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood”
Best Animated Feature – “Toy Story 4”

Awards chosen by our Media Mikes writers went to…

Best Original Screenplay – Bong Joon Ho and Han Jin Won, “Parasite”
Best Adapted Screenplay – Greta Gerwig, “Little Women”
Best Documentary Feature – “David Crosby: Remember my Name”
Best Cinematography – Roger Deakins, “1917”
Best Original Score – Hildur Guðnadóttir, “Joker”

Composer John Williams, who recently earned his 52nd Academy Award nomination, was name the recipient of this years Media Mikes Lifetime Achievement Award.

Congratulations to the winners and thank you to everyone who voted!

“Parasite,” Bong Joon-ho Make Oscar History

“Parasite,” the South Korean thriller directed by Bong Joon-ho, made Oscar history tonight when it became the first non-English language film to win Best Picture at the 92nd Annual Academy Awards.  In doing so, it took down more heavily favored films like “1917” and “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood.” 

Director Bong Joon-ho became the first person to take home four awards in one ceremony, winning Oscars as the director, co-producer and co-writer of the film.  He also received the award as the director of the year’s Best International Feature Film.   

Joaquin Phoenix was named Best Actor for his work in “Joker” while Renee’ Zellwegger took home the Best Actress award for her portrayal of Hollywood legend Judy Garland in “Judy.” 

Supporting Oscars went to Brad Pitt for “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” and Laura Dern for “Marriage Story.”  Dern paid tribute to her parents, former Oscar nominees Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd, in her acceptance speech.  

“Toy Story 4” was named the years Best Animated Feature.   Here is a complete list of tonight’s winners:  

BEST PICTURE  

“Parasite”  

BEST DIRECTOR

Bong Joon-ho – “Parasite”

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Joaquin Phoenix – “Joker”

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Renée Zellweger – “Judy”  

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Brad Pitt –  “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”  

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Laura Dern – “Marriage Story”  

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

“Parasite” – screenplay by Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won  

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

“Jojo Rabbit” – screenplay by Taika Waititi

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

“Toy Story 4”  

INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM

“Parasite” – South Korea

DOCUMENTARY – FEATURE

“American Factory”  

DOCUMENTARY – SHORT SUBJECT

“Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)”  

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

“The Neighbors’ Window”  

ANIMATED SHORT FILM

“Hair Love”  

ORIGINAL SCORE

“Joker” – Hildur Guðnadóttir  

ORIGINAL SONG

“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” from “Rocketman” written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin  

SOUND EDITING

“Ford v Ferrari”

SOUND MIXING

“Ford v Ferrari”

PRODUCTION DESIGN

“Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood”  

CINEMATOGRAPHY

“1917”

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

“Bombshell”

COSTUME DESIGN

“Little Women”  

FILM EDITING

“Ford v Ferrari”

VISUAL EFFECTS

“1917”

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