The Miseducation of Cameron Post Red Carpet Interviews

Desiree Ahkavan’s new film, The Miseducation of Cameron Post hits theaters this week after both winning the Grand Jury prize for drama at Sundance Film Fest and screening at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year. The film, an adaptation of Emily Danforth’s 2012 novel, stars Chloe Grace Moretz as Cameron Post, a high school girl who is caught making out with another girl on prom night. Cameron is subsequently sent to a religious gay “conversion therapy” camp called God’s Promise by her conservative American family. From there, Ahkavan’s touching and honest film follows Cameron as she encounters her fellow campers coping with their sexualities and the camp counselors (Jennifer Ehle and John Gallagher Jr.) who may have their own inner reservations about the work that they do. It is a challenging film for its young stars that’s deftly led by Moretz with support from Sasha Lane, and Forrest Goodluck.
I got to speak with some of this talented cast at their Tribeca red carpet premiere about how they came to be in the film and the message believers in these controversial camps could take away from Cameron’s story.

Tony winner John Gallagher Jr. plays Reverend Rick, himself a former camper turned youth counselor who outwardly is a God’s Promise “success” story but clearly deals with suppressing his true emotions.

Lauren Damon: Your character has so much going on under the surface, how did you work on playing him?

John Gallagher Jr: Yeah! A lot of it was just trusting the script and trusting Desiree. You know it was a very complicated role who’s living right on the edge of something. And I just really looked to [Desiree] to kind of be the leader and to be my guide throughout all of it. And to just try and kind of tell the truth as we had deemed it fit for the film.

LD: What was the most difficult part of working on this?

JGJ: I think, you know living on that edge…of like really preaching something that, I think you start seeing throughout the film, that the character may or may not actually even believe. And that kind of crisis of faith, and that doubt and that second guessing. And really like the guilt that comes with that…I think he’s a guy that really is struggling to do what he believes is the right thing. And I think that his awakening in the film is that he doesn’t know what the right thing is.

LD: I watched this in an admittedly liberal NYC screening room and I think the reactions to a lot of what happens in the camp was that it was ridiculous, but both in the film, and in these real places, it’s really not…

JGJ: It’s not. There is no spin on it, that is their earnest belief. And as I can’t even fathom having that kind of opinion on matters of sexuality, that’s a very real thing. And people do have those exact kind of beliefs.

LD: What would you tell someone with these kinds of beliefs if you could speak to them?

JGJ: Gosh. I would tell them to watch this film and think it over a second time, you know?

Quinn Shephard plays the small but crucial role of Coley Taylor, the girlfriend who Moretz’s Cameron is caught with before she is sent for conversion.

LD: Your role isn’t big in terms of screentime, but it’s so pivotal to the film, how was it to know that going in?

Quinn Shephard: It was great! I was very happy to be a part of the film in any way possible. I keep saying, I just wanted to be a part of the movie because I really believed in it. I think it’s one of the best scripts I’ve ever read and I wanted to be in it. And I’m excited that I got to play this role.

LD: As in actress in this film, if you could get a message to people who believe these camps are effective, what would it be?

QS: Oh man. I think it’s like…I mean, look–Some people I think have a lot of fears and they justify things like conversion camps out of fears. But I think that if you come at something from a place of love, it’s impossible to justify. I think if you’re really someone who feels love in your heart and you challenge yourself to love someone who’s gay and imagine…putting that person through that and telling them that they’re not okay, I think it’s impossible to justify. I think people get caught up in their rhetoric and they get up in religious justification. But when it’s human and it’s in front of you, it’s very hard to agree with, you know? And I think that if somebody sits through this movie who believes in it, they’ll change their mind.

LD: How did you go about preparing for the intimate scenes between Coley and Cameron?

QS: I read the book, I read about my character…I’m somebody who’s very comfortable with who I am and it was just about creating a place in myself where I was very happy for what was happening, but at the same time very ashamed of it. I think that’s who [COLEY] is, she’s that duality and that was a difficult place for me to go. It was a very sad place. But it was something that was very important to her. There was a fragility to the relationship because she is not okay with it yet. And then I think as far as the actual intimacy of the scene, we just went into it was a sense of humor. And Desiree was very accommodating and she made us very comfortable and we had fun.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post opens in New York on August 3rd and expands to LA and other cities on August 10th.

Everything nerdy and a splash of horror invades San Diego Comic Con 2018

Some might wonder about the experiences San Diego Comic Con has to offer given that all the information and trailers released at panels drop onto the Internet a short time later, and in some instances before the panel is even set to begin. Some could simply live it through other’s photos or through their favorite Youtube personality. But I urge those with a tingling sense for adventure, or even a nerdy bone in their body, to attend.

As I stated in my article last year, when I was a newbie, that no matter how much research beforehand is done, you’re going to miss out on something. In my second year of attendance, that still holds true. As I heard from several veterans, it’s finding what you want to do and prioritizing it by day. This year I went with an offsite and inside approach. I’d start out my days checking out the sights and sounds before heading in and joining the indoor spectacle.

For a handful of hours Wednesday night, the massive vendor and exhibit hall was opened for thousands. It’s known as Preview Night. Most in attendance were ready to snag some merchandise while others, like me, simply took in all the sights and sounds. Folks with multiple bags of merchandise scurried about while others waited in lines for several booths and exhibits. The hottest spots were at Funimation, Funko, Hasbro, “The Walking Dead” area and a few usual suspects.

For those without a chance to step inside the hallowed grounds of the convention center, the outdoor areas provided some much needed fun, rest and goodies. “The Purge” offsite was literally handing out shirts, as people got to take some play money and purchase exclusive merch with that play money. It was one of the best offsites in terms of simplicity and swag. “Jack Ryan” offered a training ground, gear and (from what I read on Twitter) free money to those ballsy enough. Adult Swim, in the evening hours, opened up a mock camp site as the sun began to set. But when the sun set, “Adult Swim” staples entertained the masses until the midnight hours. The crown jewel of everything outside though was the “DC Universe” offsite where they offered food, drink, previews of games and shows, a Harley Quinn room and an escape room.

Meanwhile, others kept pace by offering simple things. FXHibition is where folks got to take pictures with some items representing their favorite show. The Experience near PetCo Park also offered a lot in terms of a place to stop for a quick bite to eat, or one of their interactive displays, including an escape room. Escape rooms seemed to be the hot thing this year as several other offsite events had an escape room, something I encourage as escape rooms slowly become even more popular. Even offsites like the Nerdist House scored huge points in my book just by offering free food and drink to those who were smart enough to search it out.

Inside, I managed to once again avoid Hall H. That didn’t stop me from getting curious when I read about some experiences on the Hall H line being easier than in years past. The reason, or the truth, behind those tweets are up in the air. Maybe next year I’ll camp out and see what all the fuss is about in the Hall where folks got a preview of “Halloween,” DC movies and an evening with Director/Writer Kevin Smith.

Don’t be discouraged though. Other rooms offer their own treats, whether it be exclusive footage or on-stage appearances by other celebrities. I found myself inside Ballroom 20 for Marvel’s “Cloak and Dagger” only to be treated to the breaking news announcement that a second season had been confirmed by the creator during the panel. Once inside and away from the Exhibit Hall, you’ll find something fun to sit in on or a group of people with the same interests that you can chat it up with.

The takeaway from fans inside was one of pure joy. Sure the long waits, sweat, frustration, and sometimes ineffectiveness of how things work can bear down on you. But when you unpack the gear you snagged and look through the pictures, you know it’s an event you’re happy to have been apart of. And part of you, just like me, will want to go back and do it all over again. If you’ve been on the fence in the past, it’s time to get off that fence and grab a plane ticket. SDCC 2019 is next July 17th-21st, so mark your calendars and start digging through the couch for some loose change.

MEET THE NEW GUY – Media Mikes welcomes writer Michael D. Smith

It is with great pride that we at Media Mikes are able to introduce you to our new film reviewer/writer:  Michael D. Smith.

Michael began his film critic path by writing movie reviews for his college newspaper for a couple years. After graduation, he wrote reviews for his hometown paper in Harrisonville, Missouri for six years before becoming the Arts & Entertainment editor and film critic at a publication in Overland Park, Kansas. a position he held for three years.

Our newest “Mike” – Michael D. Smith

In 2009 was offered an opportunity at KCMETROPOLIS.ORG where he predominately covered independent/art house films.   He will now cover them for Media Mikes as well as contributing commentary when the mood takes him.

Michael is a long-standing member of the Kansas City Film Critics Circle, the second oldest film critic group in America.

You can find his first review for Media Mikes, of the film “Mountain,” HERE

Interview with Comedian Eric Schwartz

You may have seen comedian Eric Schwartz in hi

1.  Who in the hell is the OTHER Eric Schwartz and how did he beat you to EricSchwartz.com?  He isn’t near as funny as you are.

THANK YOU FOR ASKING THIS QUESTION AND STARTING IT WITH “WHO IN THE HELL…”

Most people don’t realize we’re two completely different people. Yes, two different people, who happen to have the same name, and who happen to both do comedy and music. It’s beyond frustrating–it’s infuriating! But, I have to admit, “the other Eric Schwartz” is a supremely talented musician and brilliant writer.  It’s hard to be mad at the guy when his only crime is not changing the name his parents gave him. At least he’s not out there bringing shame to the name. By the way, I’m pretty sure he calls me, “the other Eric Schwartz,” too.

To make things even more interesting, we actually know each other.  He moved from the East Coast to two blocks from me in L.A. We’ve actually shown up to the same gig before after the booker tagged the us both on Facebook. He once dated someone I knew and she would sometimes accidentally call me all sultry like, “Baby…did you see the moooon tonight?”  I was like, “Yeah, Suzanne. But I’m not taking my clothes off like the last time we talked.”
And yes, one of my biggest career regrets was not grabbing EricSchwartz.com when I was building my first website in 1999.  For some reason, I chose “SuburbanHomeboy.com,” which now forwards to my current site, EricSchwartzLive.com.
2.  How did you get into comedy?
I got hooked on Eddie Murphy, George Carlin, Robin Williams and SNL as a kid. I would do their bits an characters to my friends at school. Everyone already thought of me as a comedian at that point, but I knew I had to start writing material. I was also a DJ, which is where the musical element came in. In college, I put on my own comedy shows in the dorms mixing comedy and music and somehow didn’t get kicked out.
3.  When do you know a joke is working?
Unless my ears take the night off, I can tell right away. The cool thing about a live show is the audience will let you know if it’s working or not.
4.  Follow up – see above
5.  Do you have a good “I put that heckler in his place” story?
Most hecklers are actually having a good time and want to participate. They just go a bit overboard on their approach. But if you ever encounter a mean-spirited heckler, here’s something you can do. Make peace by offering them a free CD. When they thank you, shout, “SEE DEEZ NUTS!”
6.  Besides your tour, what else are you working on.
The Release The Sounds Tour is in support of the audio from my first hour special, “Surrender to the Blender” being re-released to Sirius-XM, as well as digital platforms like Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music. I’m also working on shooting my second special this year

Concert Review: Poison/Cheap Trick – Kansas City

REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY DAN LYBARGER

Poison/Cheap Trick/Pop Evil

Sprint Center – Kansas City, Missouri

May 25, 2018

Our Score:     Poison *** out of 5    Cheap Trick  **** out of 5

 

 

Thirty years ago, I wanted to kill a fellow editor at my college newspaper because he went missing the night before the semester’s final edition was due at the printer. When I woke him the next morning, I became even more enraged because he and decided to catch a concert without telling me or my peers, and it was Poison.

 

 

Had he abdicated his responsibility for Todd Rundgren, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones or The Smiths, I might have excused him. But no, it had to be that silly hair band whose songs about partying were relatively easy to play.

 

Another friend who had seen them play, lamented their musical limitations by dubbing guitarist C.C. DeVille “C.C. Distortion” for his sloppy solos, and an another buddy laughed when he saw concert footage of them on MTV and observed they were playing beginners’ instruments. Because my own musical chops are stunted, I’m not sure what was so embryonic about what axes Poison used to play. Nonetheless, we both felt smug as we continued to watch them perform on television.

 

 

After finally seeing the band play for myself on May 25 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, I think I can now easily forgive the other editor. Of course, we still made our deadline. I can also say I don’t envy him because the performance I caught might have been better than the one he saw. Now that their hair has grayed (where it still remains), the band has actually developed some skill and showmanship that wasn’t in their old videos.

 

 

Lead vocalist Bret Michaels constantly thanked the crowd and rattled off other area venues where he played with the band or as a solo act. It’s always nice when the band knows they’re on the Missouri side of the state line and can recall something about your town other than a stage.

 

Cheap Trick, who played before them, one-upped the headliners by claiming they had written a recent tune after eating at Gates Barbecue, a blue collar eatery when the clerks greet you as loudly as if they were playing the Sprint Center.

 

Unlike the musicians, the clerks don’t need microphones.

 

Michaels and the rest of Poison gave the crowd high fives throughout the set and genuinely seemed to enjoy being in the barbecue capital of the world. The band have had personnel changes and breakups, but the original lineup were all performing that evening. The set seemed oddly touching when Michaels briefly mentioned that drummer Rikki Rockett had survived cancer.

 

Both he and bassist Bobby Dall looked healthy and enthusiastic, so it was a jolt to hear that Rockett, who regularly tosses his drumsticks in the air and twirls them between beats, almost didn’t make it to the stage.

 

 

 

Because I was attempting to photograph the show from a pit at the bottom of the stage, I almost felt sorry for people in the back of the arena who couldn’t see what he was doing. When he later played an extended toward the end of the set, it made Michaels’ revelation all the more touching.

 

Michaels, who had a series of frightening health problems of his own in 2010, is also lucky to be alive. Perhaps that’s why their enthusiasm seems genuine. Playing in front of a house that can hold 19,000 people sure beats lying in a hospital bed or worse.

 

While Poison can play their old hits like “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” or “Talk Dirty to Me” with more technical assurance than they used to, they do little more than plow through their old catalog.

 

Their fans didn’t object.

 

They did supplement their set with a large video screen that featured cartoons of the band before they took the stage. Their cover of Loggins and Messina’s “Your Momma Don’t Dance” proved to be a great excuse to feature the late pinup queen Bettie Page shimmying as they played. With Bettie just about any band would sound as good as the Stones on their best day.

 

Following a typically lively set by Cheap Trick requires a masochism few bands have. The three original members are all in their sixties and still have their old skills. Whereas DeVille impressed the crowd by mimicking Eddie Van Halen’s finger tapping and slipping in a bit of Edvard Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen switched genres, playing styles and even guitars. The 69-year-old ax-man didn’t need a featured solo break because just about every song gave him a workout.

 

 

Oh, and while he was playing tunes like “Dream Police,” he was also tossing out picks at the crowd. Somehow his poses, witty asides to the crowd and acts of violence involving small pieces of plastic, never caused him to skip a note or detract from a solo. How he managed to hit me in the pit with a pick and get through the set at the same time baffles me.

 

Dall treated the crowd to his own version of Henry Mancini’s theme to The Pink Panther, but Cheap Trick bassist Tom Peterson gave his 12-string instrument a thorough workout and even sang a powerful medley of The Velvet Underground’s “Waiting for the Man” and “Heroin.” Nielsen complemented Peterson’s work with some tasteful slide solos, which lead vocalist Robin Zander accompanied with his own acoustic 12 string.

 

 

 

Zander happily took a break because during the rest of the set he still pushed his voice to its limit. Thankfully that limit seems superhuman. If his throat cracked a couple of times, he can still effortlessly reach high notes and make 40 to 30 year old songs sound fresh and committed.

 

If you’ve caught Cheap Trick in the past or have listed to At Budokan to the point where you’ve memorized all the words, their current shows are still worth catching. Daxx Nielsen, Rick’s son, has ably replaced Bun E. Carlos on drums, and Zander’s son Robin Taylor fleshes out the band’s harmonies and played most of the rhythm guitar parts.

 

Thanks to That 70s Show, the band have a few songs (like their version of Big Star’s “In the Street”) that are more recent than anything Poison played, and the samples from their newer albums Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello (2016) and We’re All Right! (2017) fit seamlessly in with their hits. Radio stations may ignore their most recent offerings, and it’s the broadcasters’ loss.

 

 

 

They also surprised the crowd by featuring the Melvins, who joined them for a rousing version of “Surrender.” Drummer Hayley Cramer from opening band Pop Evil even joined the bands as they gave the 40 year old chestnut all they had.

 

As lead singer Leigh Kakaty kept reminding the audience, Pop Evil from North Muskegon, Michigan, have been around for a decade. While Kakaty lamented the empty seats on the floor (that were filled when the headliners arrived), and the rest of the ensemble still approached their set with vigor and enthusiasm.

 

 

He opined that the newer generation should learn, “There is a difference between a Gibson guitar and a motherfucking Apple computer.” Fortunately, he and his crew of analog performers and the bands that followed made an eloquent case for that argument.

The tour moves from Kansas City to Pryor, Oklahoma and continues for the summer.  For more information and upcoming tour dates, click HERE.

 

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Win Passes to the Kansas City Premiere of “I Feel Pretty”

 

Media Mikes has teamed with their friends at STX Entertainment to give (50) readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see the new comedy starring Amy Schumer, “I Feel Pretty.”

The screening will be held on Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at the B&B Overland Park Theatre in Overland Park, Kansas and will start at 7:00 p.m.

All you have to do is click HERE.  The first (50) readers to do so will receive a pass for two to attend the screening.  This is a first come/first serve giveaway.  Once all (50) passes have been claimed, the contest is over.  GOOD LUCK!

 

I FEEL PRETTY

Tuesday, April 17, 2018  –  7:00 p.m.

B&B Overland Park Theatre – Overland Park, Kansas

 

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Film Review: Ready Player One

Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke and Ben Mendelsohn
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Rated: PG-13
Running Time:
Warner Bros. Pictures

Capturing the awe and power of video games has long eluded Hollywood, whether it’s adaptation of the games themselves or bottling the culture’s essence. “Wreck-It Ralph” came close, but it’s fair to disregard its efforts because it was animated, hence it was able to replicate the visual absurdity and calm in the chaos sometimes in video games. With a book, that I’m assume is page soaked in pop-culture references over two decades, Steven Spielberg appears to have cracked the code.

Instead of feeling like you’re watching someone play a video game at the arcade, Spielberg immerses viewers in the OASIS, a worldwide massive multiplayer experience at the center of “Ready Player One” The OASIS is where anyone can be anything they want to be, with digital avatars ranging from humanoids to iconic media characters. Before people can inhabit their digital body, they have to plug into these free-hanging set-ups that look like someone plugging themselves into “The Matrix” via a full-body suit, Nintendo power gloves and a VR viewer attachment. It seems like a hassle and unnecessary expense, but the alternative, reality, is a lot less exciting.

Wade Watts (Sheridan) lives in Columbus, Ohio in 2045. He lives in the slums of Columbus, which is filled with metallic clutter like older cars and technological trash. Most of its inhabitants take up residence in dilapidated trailer park trailers stacked on top of each other like a white trash Kowloon Walled City. With no parents and no real-life friends, or even a job, Watts retreats every day to the OASIS in a makeshift gaming room he’s carved out of the surrounding scrap heap.

Inside the OASIS, he and other players, which make up his clan, are on the hunt for the ultimate Easter egg. The creator of OASIS, the late James Halliday (Mark Rylance), has hidden several clues throughout the game that lead to three keys. If you find all the keys, you get full ownership of OASIS, as well as the money and stock attached to it. But it’s more than just a dream of riches and power; it’s a dream of escaping the rat hole that Watts perceives he lives in. Of course he’s not the only one on the hunt for these keys. An evil corporate shadow looms over the OASIS and looks to control the one thing used by billions.

Despite flirting with the risk of saturating the film with too much exposition, “Ready Player One” cleverly layers it over action sequences and visual feasts. Spielberg, who’s created some of the most iconic figures, creatures, and heroes for the silver screen, handles everything with a master stroke. Watts is immediately sympathetic and likeable; his friends and cohorts are equally the same despite their minimal screen time. The motivations of Watt and his journey rarely get muddied, but because so much of the film’s focus is on him, we lose sight of some of the great characters accompanying him.

There’s the rushed love interest, Art3mis (Cooke). She’s pigeonholed more than a few times, but the moments where her character can demonstrate personality that isn’t cliché are some of her best moments. She’s able to breathe a little, whether it’s solo or complimenting Watt’s introverted personality, but it’s certainly not enough once we realize how powerful she truly is. The movie’s villain, played by Ben Mendelsohn, is an intern that works his way up the corporate ladder looking to cash in on someone else’s idea and then abuse the power he’s obtained. He’d be more menacing if he didn’t pass off so many of his bad guys duties to lackeys and spent his time relegating the fun missions inside the OASIS to a mercenary, played by T.J. Miller.

Character flaws aside, Spielberg puts viewers in this vast digital landscape without ever making it feel overwhelmingly and at times he even makes it feel intimate. The films has a chaotic “Mad Max”-style car race that smacks viewers with dozens of pop-culture references and has a more focused homage in the form of a Stanley Kubrick playground that I dare not spoil. Both work because they not only cater to different tastes, but are easily digestible for those who might not pick up on every reference. However Spielberg neglected the real-world that the OASIS was created in.

What global crisis is happening or has happened that’s led to Columbus looking like a third world country? Why does it seem like Watts and the head of an evil corporate entity is only a couple of blocks away at all times? Why is the resistance to this evil corporate on such a micro-level as opposed to the global scale it seems to be inside the OASIS. We feel like we’re trapping inside Ohio any time we’re not zipping through the OASIS. Those thoughts sometime minimize the character’s plight and the film’s overall narrative.

Luckily you won’t have too much time to nitpick the film’s shortcomings because of how brisk it moves, even within the time span of nearly two and a half hours. For all its faults, and there’s quite a few that I have and haven’t listed, “Ready Player One” had me grinning like a child at the movies for the first time. At times I felt like I was picking up a video game controller for the first time, waking up early on a Saturday morning for cartoons or sneaking out of my room past my bedtime to watch a bad cheesy movie. For those who don’t feel that sense of nostalgia, you’ll certainly feel young again.

 

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“GET OUT” chosen the Best Film of 2017 by Media Mikes readers.

After tabulating the votes from more than 3,000 entries, “Get Out,” writer/director Jordan Peele’s debut feature, was chosen the Best Film of 2017 by the readers and staff of Media Mikes.   The film also nabbed Peele the award for Best Original Screenplay.

 

Director Guillermo del Toro was chosen the year’s Best Director for his film “The Shape of Water.”       

 

In the acting categories, James Franco was selected as Best Actor for his role in “The Disaster Artist” while Frances McDormand was chosen Best Actress for her performance in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the supporting categories, Sam Rockwell was named Best Supporting Actor for “Three Billboards” while Allison Janney was named Best Supporting Actress for “I, Tonya.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Coco” was chosen the year’s Best Animated Feature.

 

“Call Me By Your Name” was recognized for it’s Best Adapted  Screenplay.  Benjamin Wallfisch was named Composer of the Year for his work on “IT” and “Bladerunner 2049.”

Film Review: Victor Crowley

Starring: Parry Shen, Kane Hodder and Laura Ortiz
Directed By: Adam Green
Rated: R
Running Time: 93 minutes

As director and writer Adam Green said himself, the “Hatchet” trilogy was a segmented, yet complete story. So there was never a need for a fourth “Hatchet,” yet here we are with “Victor Crowley.” Green can be forgiven for going back to the monster that made his career, especially since it’s taken on a life of its own and worked its way into the hearts of horror aficionados. Luckily, unlike others who’ve returned to their roots, Green has found a worthy amount of gory content and vicious fun to justify this fourth time around.

Picking up 10 years after the event of “Hatchet III,” the sole survivor of Crowley’s massacre, Andrew (Shen), is promoting a new book detailing how he survived. While many line-up to get an autograph or buy the book from him, an equal amount take the time to ridicule him for cashing in on death or accusing him of committing mass murder under the guise of the supernatural. What mainstream public could actually believe 40 people were killed by a disfigured Hulk-like entity in a swamp?

Of course it wouldn’t be a “Hatchet” movie without returning to that very swamp. Andrew is suckered back in, with the promise of more money on his book tour campaign. Getting mixed up eventually is an aspiring crew of filmmakers and the people transporting Andrew back to the site of the decade old massacre. Of course, the key component, Victor Crowley (Hodder), needs to be summoned to go on another killing spree.

The actually summoning is one of the few hiccups in an otherwise funhouse blood fest. Once Crowley shows up, “Victor Crowley” rarely lets up, spending the second half of the movie being relentlessly savage and overwhelmingly sadistic. But it’s equally funny, at least for those with an ounce of black humor in their funny bone. There’s a lot of fan service, within the own franchise as well as several nods to the horror community, that sometimes distracts from the core content.

I can’t give too much away because “Victor Crowley” is meant to be experienced instead of hearing my pitch as to why you should see it. Those who have already gone along for the trip will certainly check out “Victor Crowley,” and without a doubt I can say they’ll fall immediately in love with it. Very rarely does a sequel, much less the fourth of a franchise, live-up-to and exceed the expectations set by previous films, but “Victor Crowley” does. If this is the beginning of a new storytelling trilogy, it’s set the expectations for future films ridiculously high.

Media Mikes staff picks the Best and Worst Films of 2017

As 2017 comes to a close it’s time our film critics look back on the movies they enjoyed and the ones they didn’t.  Enjoy!

 

Mike Smith –  You must remember, it takes a lot for me to dislike a film – if it’s in focus I’ll give it a “star” – so the few on my list are, as Joseph Bologna said in MY FAVORITE YEAR, “Stinkburgers!”  Happy New Year.

 

THE BEST

1.  ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD – I was a teenager when John Paul Getty III was kidnapped and I was intrigued about the case then as much as I am now.  For those of you who may have been out of the loop, director Ridley Scott had already finished this film, with Kevin Spacey appearing as billionaire/grandfather John Paul Getty, when news of Spacey’s “issues” came   out.  Rather than have his film judged, unfairly in my opinion, with it’s association with the disgraced actor, Scott was able to gather his cast and crew together in late November and re-shot all of Spacey’s scenes with Christopher Plummer now playing the part.  That he was able to do this and complete a flawless edit in a month is worthy of an award just on that achievement alone.  I wonder if Plummer will thank Spacey in his Oscar acceptance speech?

2.   GET OUT – I was late to the table in seeing this (thank you Academy screeners).  Writer/director Jordan Peele gives us not only one of the most original horror films ever created, but also uses his art to make us all sit back and recognize the world we are living in.

3.  THE POST – Tom Hanks.  Meryl Streep.  And the master director, Steven Spielberg.  Put them together with a story that was actually taken from the headlines and you’ll get a lesson not only in first-rate film making but in how this government is supposed to run.  Will make an amazing part of a double feature with ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN.

4.  THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI – A first rate story backed by powerhouse acting, if this film doesn’t bring Sam Rockwell his first Academy Award nomination then the fix is in.  Extra points for it’s make-up work, created by the drummer of my garage band in high school , Corey Castellano.

5.  SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING –  Yes, there have been some great superhero films the past few years, but THIS was the Spider-man we’ve all been waiting for.  Instead of the polished young man/junior photographer, we get a nervous, anxious teenager still trying to understand his gift.  Extra points for making Aunt May a hottie.

6.  IN DUBIOUS BATTLE – The first film on my list to star and be directed by James Franco, this adaptation of a John Steinbeck novel features amazing performances from a cast lead by Franco and Vincent D’Onofrio.

7.  THE SHAPE OF WATER – Guillermo del Toro’s love letter to THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, proving that love can exist anywhere.  Sally Hawkin’s wordless performance is heartbreaking.

8.   THE DISASTER ARTIST – Film number two from Mr. Franco and company.  A behind the scenes look at the making of a film that ranks as one of the most unusual off all time.

9.   STAR WARS: EPISODE VIII – THE LAST JEDI – I don’t understand all of the backlash this film is taking.  Writer/director Rian Johnson has taken the galaxy on a new direction and I have no doubt that J.J. Abrams will bring this final trilogy to a satisfactory conclusion.  If you don’t tear up when Luke Skywalker and Princess/General Leia embrace than you’ve obviously gone over to the Dark Side.

10.  IT –  If you read my review, you know I FRICKIN HATE CLOWNS!  That being said, this is the film that kept me up nights long after I first saw it.

 

THE WORST

BEFORE I FALL – Good lord, what a piece of junk!  Imagine if you will the worse movie ever made involving the supernatural and GROUNDHOG’S DAY.  Now multiple that by 100.  A young girl keeps dying, then coming back, only to die again.  After the third time I was silently praying that the next one to die would be me.  Note to the filmmakers – Valentine’s Day is on February 14th, not the 13th.

THE SPACE BETWEEN US –  This came out a few weeks before BEFORE I FALL, and the latter was so much worse that I found myself apologizing to it on my Podcast.  A woman gives birth to a baby while in space.  For some reason, this makes him as vulnerable to the world as Sam Jackson was in UNBREAKABLE.  Now a teenager, the youngster comes to Earth to meet his on-line gal-pal and find his father – whose identity is obvious 10 minutes into the film.

FIST FIGHT – How in the world can you make Charlie Day UN-funny?  This film has three credited writers, none of whom apparently have never heard of comedy.  Shame on you.  Charlie deserved better.

 

Mike Gencarelli

 

BEST

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST – Music was amazing, especially the new songs. Emma Watson was amazing. Overall perfect!

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY – VOL 2 – Nearly perfect. Love everything about this film. Drax steals the show!

THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE – I’ve seen this film probably 25 times already and it only gets better and better with each viewing. So much is packed in here and is super funny and yet still heart filled.

GET OUT – Funniest movie I’ve seen all year (according to the Golden Globes assholes). It is really a creepy mind fuck that does not get out of your head.

IT – Expectations were HUGE and they were destroyed! Great scares. Finally a GOOD Stephen King adaptation

BLADE RUNNER 2049 – Gorgeous, slow moving yet full of detail and deeper meanings. Perfect sequel.

THOR: RAGNOROK – Absolutely insanely funny, easily one of the top Marvel films to date.

COCO – Great songs and a real family message, which I loved.

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI – No explanation needed.

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN – Music is outstanding. This movie makes me so happy.

 

 

 

WORST

RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER

RINGS

GOESTORM

ALIEN: COVENANT

BAYWATCH

THE DARK TOWER

THE EMOJI MOVIE

TRANSFORMER: THE LAST KNIGHT

POWER RANGERS

THE GREAT WALL

 

 

Lauren Damon – Lauren will share her reasons behind her choices later this week in a separate article.

 

BEST

 

  1. THOR: RAGNAROK
  2. CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
  3. I, TONYA
  4. STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI
  5. IT

 

WORST

 

MOTHER!

 

 

Jeremy Werner – I didn’t rank my top movies of the year because I felt like anyone of these movies could be my favorite on the year. That’s how good 2017 has been to us cinephiles.

 

Top 5 in No Particular Order:

 

BABY DRIVER –  With Edgar Wright in the driver’s seat, nearly every little thing about “Baby Driver” is perfect, from the action sequences, the dialogue callbacks, and the perfect harmony between soundtrack and cinematography. One of the most accessible and fun movies of the year.

 

 

GET OUT – Jordan Peele’s satirical horror has already cemented the first time director in the annals of horror movie history. From the first to final frame, “Get Out” meticulously weaves a thrilling horror,that not only scares, but masterfully comments on 21st century racism.

 

DETROIT –  On that same note, “Detroit” gives a history lesson on America’s racism. Unlike “Get Out,” Kathryn Bigelow couldn’t tinker much with reality. Out of everything I’ve watched on the year, “Detroit” was the most visceral as it unrelentingly forces viewers to live through a horrific and tragic ordeal.

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBINGS, MISSOURI – This may be writer and director Martin McDonagh’s best work, thanks to an outstanding ensemble cast, led by Frances McDormand. The film is a puree of heart-wrenching drama, side splitting comedy, and a mixed message about how morality is never black and white.

THE FLORIDA PROJECT – Some in modern America don’t have a home, or even an apartment, to retreat to at the end of the day. Those lower class families, sometimes with unemployed and/or single parents, scrounge for pennies to pay to live at rundown motels in the shadow of America’s corporate greed. “The Florida Project” is about those people and at times it’s oddly beautiful.

 

Movies on the Outside Looking In:

 

BLADE RUNNER 2049

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

THE MEYEROWITZ STORIES

GOOD TIME

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

 

Movies You Should Never See That Were Unfortunately Released in the Same Year as the Above Movies:

 

A DOG’S PURPOSE – Mixing reincarnation with a Christian message is confusing, but at its core I believe this film attempts to preach a misguided and dangerous message about humanity’s power and even God’s power over animals. If you’re a dog lover, donate to a local animal shelter instead of buying this dog turd of a movie.

 

BAYWATCH – So it IS possible for the Rock to make a genuinely terrible film?  Lacking in any heart, fun or laughs, this comedy reboot tries to follow in the footsteps of “21 Jump Street,” but instead trips and falls flat. A TV show about hunky beach detectives shouldn’t be that hard to make fun of.

 

CHIPS – Speaking of reboots, here’s one that should have been left behind at the pitch meeting. Dax Shepard, who I’m sure is a wonderful outstanding guy, continues to find funding for his terrible movies. Dax, maybe the things you liked as a kid should remain a fond memory.

 

HOME AGAIN – I’m not the target audience for this film, but I’m also not sure who is. It plays out like a weak sitcom before the predictable ending that wraps up every problem with a neat bow tie. I felt like I was watching a “Lifetime” original TV show lacking any creative effort.

 

POWER RANGERS – I am the target audience for this and I found myself bored. I’m not sure why the Power Rangers needed a gritty reboot, complete with forced subliminal advertising, but I would have been fine with it if it had attempted any character development or compelling storytelling.

 

Other movies that should be forgotten about forever and never mentioned again: THE MUMMY, THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD and XX.

 

 

Loey Lockerby

 

BEST

 

GET OUT

THE DISASTER ARTIST

THE BIG SICK

ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD

DOWNSIZING

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

BLADE RUNNER 2049

DUNKIRK

STAR WARS:  THE LAST JEDI

LOGAN

WORST

WISH UPON

THE MUMMY

THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD

SUBURBICON

VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS

 

 

Win Passes to the Kansas City Premiere of “The Commuter”

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at Lionsgate Films to give (50) readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see the new Liam Neeson thriller, “The Commuter.”

The screening will be held on Tuesday, January 9, 2018 at the AMC Studio 28 in Olathe, Kansas and will start at 7:00 pm

All you have to do is click HERE.  The first (50) readers to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the advance screening.  This is a first come/first serve giveaway.  Once all (50) passes have been claimed the giveaway has ended.

LINK HAS BEEN ACTIVATED – MY APOLOGIES – THANK YOU

 

The Commuter

                                 When:  Tuesday, January 9, 2018 – 7:00 pm                                                                       Where:  AMC Studio 28 Theatre – Olathe, Kansas

Win Passes to the Kansas City premiere of “Downsizing”

Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at Paramount to give (25) readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see the latest film by Alexander Payne, “Downsizing.”

The film, starring Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig and Christoph Waltz, will be screened on Monday, December 18, 2017 at the Cinemark Palace on the Plaza in Kansas City.  The screening will begin at 7:00 pm

All you have to do is click HERE.  The first (25) readers to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening.  This is a first come/first serve giveaway. When the allotted number of passes have been claimed the giveaway is over.

Good luck!  “Downsizing” opens nationwide on December 22nd

DOWNSIZING
Where:  Cinemark Palace on the Plaza, Kansas City, Missouri
When:  Monday, December 18, 2017 – 7:00 pm

 

Film Review: Murder on the Orient Express

Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Penelope Cruz and Willem Dafoe
Directed By: Kenneth Branagh
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 114 minutes
20th Century Fox

One of the most impressive ensemble casts of the year seems lost in sweeping CGI landscapes and overstuffed set pieces. “Murder on the Orient Express” is geared more towards technical film geeks who enjoy richness in their production design, more than they do in the script or the acting. I only say that because “Murder on the Orient Express” is awfully pretty to look at, but there isn’t much behind the lens.

Through happenstance, world-renowned detective Hercule Poirpot (Branagh) has found himself on the Orient Express. The luxury train connects Istanbul to the rest of Europe, which means the train is filled with socialites heading back to the Western World. The hodgepodge of characters seems at odds during casual dinner and indifferent during coffee, but there’s a singular thing that connects them all. It’s something Detective Poirpot will have to uncover after a passenger is found murdered in his cabin.

Murder mysteries are usually good, if not Oscar bait this time of year. However, “Murder on the Orient Express” is neither. While I haven’t read Agathe Christie’s work or seen the previous adaptations of her work, I can still confidently say that this isn’t on par with its predecessors or source material. I can surmise this because of how ambitious it looks, but the story never matches that visual gusto.

Johnny Depp plays the murder victim, but he’s not painted as a victim. We’re told he’s a scumbag, but we never feel like he’s one, despite the overwhelming evidence. The others on the train are played by the likes of A-listers, like Judi Dench, Willem Dafoe, and Michelle Pfeiffer, while up and comers, like Josh Gad, Daisy Ridley and Leslie Odom Jr. round out the cluster. The ensemble is too overwhelming, visually and narratively, with the film struggling to divvy up enough even time for the audience, and Poirpot, to question the lengthy list of suspects.

For those unsure of how this film will play out, like me, it’s slightly interesting in some spots to watch Poirpot work out the tangled web surrounding the murder. For those who love a good whodunit, you may not be disappointed, except for how the end and reveal is executed. “Murder on the Orient Express” is a classic in the literary sense, but this 21st century retelling offers nothing new.

Fun Halloween Infographic about the movie/musical “Little Shop of Horrors”

The 1986 Rock Opera Little Shop of Horrors may seem like a light hearted musical from the outside, but let’s be honest, the thought of an oversized plant surviving exclusively on human bodies is actually pretty terrifying. The team over at Discount Supplements put together this awesome infographic to show you exactly what Audrey II needs to be fed to keep her from surviving on, well, people.

Amazon Prime ‘Activates’ The Tick and Lore at NYCC

Fans looking to escape the crowded New York Comic Con show floor this past weekend were taken care of by a pair of immersive ‘activations’ presented by Amazon Prime. On site at the Jacob Javits Center, the streaming service introduced two of its newest series, The Tick and Lore, in style. I was fortunate enough to spend time exploring both experiences with some friends over the course of the con weekend and needless to say, they got me hyped to check out the shows.

My first stop was The Tick’s massive Dangerboat installation on the upper level of the con. Dangerboat is not just the headquarters to the Tick’s nemesis, Overkill, but also has a sentient artificial intelligence all its own (on the show he’s played by geek icon Alan Tudyk). In keeping with that, NYCC’s Dangerboat was also talking and fully sentient and began immediately interacting with my crew when we boarded.

Both of Amazon’s experiences were connected to an RFID wrist tag that we registered before entering. In Dangerboat the tag was used to print out our custom Aegis database ID as well as getting our own tin of FO HAM. Thankfully the tin actually contained “NEAT!” Tick pins and not canned meat. Dangerboat concluded with a fun green screen video op that with yet another swipe of wrist tags was emailed or posted wherever we chose. All told, Dangerboat took my group about a half hour to fully interact with due to the level of options on the various screens, not to mention the funny rapport we developed with a sentient boat(!) which was pretty incredible as far as con setups go. Whomever was the mind behind Dangerboat certainly captured the humor and spirit of the show itself and provided some of the best laughs of the weekend.

About The Prime Exclusive Series, The Tick:
“Bursting with scabrous original storylines that turn on a dime, The Tick is a comedy with kinetic action, a wryly inventive visual style and crisply quotable dialogue. Heroes have flown among us for decades but mild-mannered accountant Arthur Everest (GRIFFIN NEWMAN) one day finds out there are also genuine bad guys in this new Amazon Original Series. He believes he has proof that The City, where he was born and raised, is actually controlled by a global super-villain known as the Terror (JACKIE EARLE HALEY). Destiny soon brings Arthur together with an eccentric, tall, blue-suited muscleman with a mysterious past and list of superpowers: The Tick (PETER SERAFINOWICZ). The title character serves as both the conscience and the unchecked id of the story. Citing the call of destiny, the Tick procures for Arthur a moth outfit with retractable wings and insists that he suit up as his sidekick. He and Arthur are the ultimate odd couple, but may just bring out the best in each other. In their quest to take back The City, the unlikely pair of heroes quickly sees just how complex the struggle between good and evil has become.”
The Tick returns to Amazon on February 23rd 2018

Descending down a level into the Museum of Lore was yet another unique RFID experience and definitely welcome this Halloween month. Based on the hit podcast, Lore sets out to retell the true life macabre stories that inspire some of horror’s most notorious tropes. In a series of interactive rooms, my group tromped through haunted dolls, magical mirrors and werewolves as presented by a trio of delightfully over the top actors. Utilizing our RFID bands, we were rewarded with messages from The Other Side and a cool photo souvenir over a pretty twisted werewolf buffet….

About The Prime Exclusive Series, Lore:
“Sometimes the scariest stories are true. Lore is based on the global, award-winning podcast sensation from creator Aaron Mahnke, and executive produced by Ben Silverman (The Office), Howard T. Owens (The Biggest Loser), Gale Anne Hurd (The Walking Dead), Brett-Patrick Jenkins (Face Off), Glen Morgan (X-Files), Jon Halperin and Mark Mannucci (A Year in Space). Lore brings the podcast to life and tells the real life origin stories that have led to our modern day myths and legends, including vampires, changelings, werewolves, séances and possessed dolls.”
Lore is fittingly debuting on Friday October 13th.

 

 

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