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Archives for : Drama

Movie Interview: Thomasin McKenzie talks “Jojo Rabbit”

“Jojo Rabbit” is one of the best films of the year. I was thrilled to sit down with one of the stars, Thomasin McKenzie (Elsa) to discuss how adults should teach children to be kind to others, how she likes to pass the time and we play a fun rapid fire game!

“Jojo Rabbit” opens in theaters November 1.

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Movie Review: “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” & “Dolemite is My Name”

In “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” Aurora get engaged to Prince Philip and Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) isn’t happy. And in “Dolemite is My Name” Rudy Ray Moore (Eddie Murphy) wants to be on the big screen and make a movie, but has no clue how to go about it. Check out my full review of both these films in the video below!

“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” in theaters October 18 & “Dolemite is My Name” is available on Netflix October 25.

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Interview: Alisha Wainwright & Jason Ritter talk “Raising Dion”

Jason Ritter, Alisha Wainwright, & Ja’Siah Young star in “Raising Dion”

Dion is an eight year old boy who has just discovered he has super powers. His mother, Nicole (Alisha Wainwright), is a widowed single mom who’s learning how to best raise her son and protect him from a mysterious villain. “Raising Dion” is a thrilling, family sci-fi/drama premiering on Netflix October 4. Alisha Wainwright and Jason Ritter join Susan Stephens to talk about the show.

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Fantastic Fest Reviews: “The True Adventures of Wolfboy” & “Homewrecker”

Martin Krejci’s “The True Adventures of Wolfboy”

The True Adventures of Wolf Boy

“The Adventures of Wolfboy features an all-star cast including Jaeden Martell, Chris Messina, and Chloe Sevigny. The film is about Paul (Martell), a young boy with Hypertrichosis – a disease that causes him to have hair all over him, making him look like a wolf. Paul is bullied and feels alone in this world, even though he has a supportive and loving father (Messina) who only wants to make Paul happy.

On Paul’s 13th birthday, he receives a mysterious gift from his estranged mother. He sneaks out of the house on a journey to find her, and hopes she has an explanation for his condition. In an attempt to make money, he stops at the local circus. He ends up gaining an enemy in Mr. Silk (John Turturro). While on the run, Paul eventually makes some new friends, including Aristiana (Sophie Giannamore). This adventure quickly turns into a wild ride.

The film is far from original, and it’s a pretty basic story. Luckily, there are one or two surprises in there that make up for its predictability. And even though the premise is familiar, “The True Adventures of Wolfboy” finds a sweet way to portray the message of self-acceptance.

Side note: This film’s soundtrack was the best of the fest!

Rating: 3.5/5

Zach Gayne’s “Homewrecker”

Homewrecker

Lifetime should pick up this movie right way. It is basically made for TV gold.

“Homewrecker” follows Michelle (Alex Essoe), a young woman who has clearly been stalked by a slightly older and unhinged Linda (Precious Chong). After a “chance encounter” at a cafe, Linda persuades Michelle to stop by her house for a business opportunity. What was supposed to be a quick visit, turns into a nightmare.

There are a lot of problems with this movie. The editing is questionable. Mainly the bath bomb transitions that throw off the flow of the film. The script is hardly original or good, and everyone besides the two leads are weak actors. At the same time, there’s a lot to like!

Essoe is a terrific actress; quite possibly too good for this movie. Chong does a fantastic job at playing a deranged stranger whose blank stares are enough to freak anyone out. It’s actually these two who make the film a pleasure. Watching these two go from one extreme to another is a lot of fun. Bouncing from a friendship, to jealousy, to hate, to sympathizing with one another, and the emotions go on.

This is honestly a ridiculous film and an avoidable situation. But somehow, Essoe and Chong make it work. So much so, that I didn’t want their madness to end. If you like the typical Lifetime movie formula, then you’ll enjoy the hell out of “Homewrecker”.

Rating: 3/5

Fantastic Fest Reviews: “First Love”, “The Golden Glove”, & “Butt Boy”

Takashi Miike’s “First Love”

First Love

Leo (Masataka Kubota) is a young boxer who lacks almost any kind of emotion, even when he wins a match. But when he discovers he doesn’t have much time left to live; an unexpected chain of events happens that involve drugs, the Yakuza, corrupt cops, and Monica- a female escort who is need of a hero. It’s a hell of night to say the least.

I’ll admit, this was my first Miike film and I was told this one was tame in comparison to his other movies like “Audition” and “13 Assassins”. However, “tame” isn’t the word I would use to describe this movie. It’s an action packed bone crushing, head cutting, blood fest!

Not only was I entertained by the graphic violence, but the screenplay is hilarious. The film is very self-aware of how comical this chaotic situation has gotten. It’s John Wick meets Guy Ritchie in Japan! I highly recommend this one.

Rating: 4/5

Faith Akin’s “The Golden Glove”

The Golden Glove

Oh man this movie was gross! I just have to start by saying, it’s been a while since a film made me physically gag, and I’m still not certain if that’s a good or bad thing. I guess I can say “The Golden Glove” is affective.

“The Golden Glove is about Fritz Honka (Jonas Dassler), the serial killer who murdered four elderly prostitutes in Germany during the 1970’s. Fritz isn’t the most appealing man to look at. He lives like a slob, and his murders are gruesome. There are many reasons why this film will have your stomachs churning. Beginning with the opening scene. Let’s just say it sets the tone perfectly for what you’re about to endure for the next two hours.

The film has already received a lot of backlash for being too vile, and unnecessarily disgusting. Though Honka’s actions are vile, how else would you have a film about this psychotic murder portrayed?

“The Golden Glove” will not be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s an unforgettable one and done for myself. I can’t say I enjoyed watching this film, but I’m pretty sure my reactions throughout the movie were probably what the filmmaker was going for. So in that sense, I can respect this movie.

Rating: 3/5

Tyler Cornack’s “Butt Boy”

Butt Boy

Yes, the title of the film “Butt Boy” insinuates what you’re probably thinking. This film is about a man, Chip (Tyler Cornack), who goes in for his first prostate examine and discovers he likes it more than he expected. Suddenly a little boy has gone missing, and the connection between the two instances will have you dumbfounded.

I hate to say that I was so disappointed in this film. The premise and the beginning had me sucked in, but the second half of the film went straight to shit (pun intended). The acting is mediocre. And though the plot is unique, it’s far too ridiculous to even enjoy.

With the right mind set, “Butt Boy” could appeal to a particular audience. Remind yourself that this is more of a sci-fi comedy, and maybe you’ll gain some entertainment value.

Rating: 2/5

Fantastic Fest Movie Review: Opening Night Film – “Jojo Rabbit”

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The very unique director/writer/actor, Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok) brings us this delightful, bittersweet comedy about a Hitler loving boy who learns discriminating against others who are unlike you isn’t as cool as the Nazi’s made it to be. Check out my full video review!

“Jojo Rabbit” opens in theater October 18.

Movie Review: “It Chapter Two” & “Brittany Runs a Marathon”

“It Chapter Two” is darker, scarier, and longer than the first. “Brittany Runs a Marathon” is a heartfelt dramedy that you sprint to see. Check out my full review of both films in video below.

“It Chapter Two” & “Brittany Runs a Marathon” hit in theaters September 6.

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Interview: John Travolta talks “The Fanatic”


John Travolta and Devon Sawa star in the new film, “The Fanatic”. Trust me when I say, you’ve never seen Travolta like this! It’s a psychological thriller that will have you questioning the difference between fan and stalker.

I got a chance to sit down with John Travolta and discuss when it’s appropriate to walk up to celebrities, who is his guardian angel, his favorite Travolta dance move, and more!

“The Fanatic” opens in select theaters on August 30 at the AMC Mesquite 30 and Studio Movie Grill Colleyville in the Dallas-Forth Worth area. It will be on Video-On-Demand and digital release September 6.

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Interview: Garth Stein talks “The Art of Racing in the Rain”

“The Art of Racing in the Rain” is the new comedy/drama, based on Garth Stein’s bestselling 2008 novel. The film is told from the point of view of Enzo (voiced by Kevin Costner), who watches his owner, race-car driver Denny’s (Milo Ventimiglia) life unfold. Enzo witnesses Denny get married and have a child; along with the hardships of losing loved ones and dealing with criminal charges.

It’s a journey through life that makes us wonder just how much our pets are taking in, and what would they say if they could talk? And like almost every dog movie, this one will have you reaching for all the tissues. 

Author Garth Stein visited Mutts Cantina in Dallas this week for a fan event, and I sat down with him to chat about the film which is based on his own personal experiences.

Garth Stein, Author of “The Art of Racing in the Rain”

I haven’t seen an audience react so strongly to a film like this one in a long time. There was cheering, there was laughing, and of course, crying. What do you think it is about this story that has people so emotionally invested while they watch?

Well it’s a good old fashioned family story that’s told by a dog. So there’s the endearing quality of Enzo, who’s a really keen observer and he studies human behavior and that’s his goal. But he also doesn’t get everything right. It’s a very black and white world for him, in a sense. You’re either a good guy or a bad guy. And though he may not always be right, we’re invested in him. When something happens that’s funny or exciting, we’re going to be especially responsive.

There’s a really great scene between Denny and Eve (Amanda Seyfried) when they’re discussing if loving the race is enough to keep doing it, since it’s clearly a huge obstacle for them. Do you think loving a job is enough to keep pursuing it?

Yes! I mean there’s a point where you have to have a gut check. There’s a point where you have to say, “Okay am I really with this?” And if the answer is, “Yes”, then you have to make the sacrifices. You have to do the work. I mean that’s what happens with Denny in the book, and that’s what happened with me when I was writing the book. You know I wrote the book and I sent it to my agent and he said that, “you can’t do this, no one can sell this book, throw it away.” And I fired him. I did a gut check, and I had to sit with myself and meditate on it. And if I had listened to him, no one would have ever met Enzo.

I think it’s great that Enzo knows how to distract Denny when he’s down. One of those ways is by making him watch TV. When you’re upset and you need a good distraction what do you like to watch or do?

You know it’s interesting, I do meditate and I do play tennis. There’s nothing like a good hard work out to get your mind off all your troubles. But I think that’s the idea.  To go to something that does not need much conscious mind input, and therefore can alleviate any anxieties one might have.

I really like watching movies. Movies are my medicine. When I’m down I watch either a comedy or horror flick. (i.e. “Tommy Boy” or “Scream”). What movies do you like to watch to clear your mind?

So my go to movies would be, “The Godfather” movies, “Alien”. Yeah so there are some movies that make me go, “You know what, I don’t want to think about anything right now, so I’m going to watch Alien 2” (Laughs).

My youngest kid is 12 years old and this summer we’re doing “The Summer of Horror”. So he wanted to see like more scary movies. We’ve been doing like “Halloween”, “Friday the 13th”, “Nightmare on Elm Street”, and we started with “The Shining”, which freaked him out a little bit. And then we watched “The Babadook”…at some point I looked over at him and said, “You know what we’re going to stop right now.” And he was okay with it (Laughs). That one might have been too soon to watch (Laughs).

It’s interesting to see people’s lives from a dog’s perspective in this film. It reminds us of what all dogs are able to see and listen in on. If you could be any person’s dog in this world for a week and get insight into their lives, who would you choose and why?

That’s tough. Honestly, I have to be with Enzo on this and be with one of the great drivers. Well with the actors, Steve McQueen or Paul Newman would be fun. But you know, what about someone like Louis Hamilton? He just won his seventh Grand Prix of Hungry. That would be pretty awesome to be with one of the great Formula One drivers.

There’s a great line in the film while Denny is fighting for custody of his daughter, “There’s no dishonor in losing the race, there’s only dishonor in being afraid to race.” Metaphorically speaking, what has been your most challenging race?

You know there’s been a lot of challenging races. My father died 10 years ago. Obviously that’s pretty challenging. It was an interesting transition, and it took me a while to get use to the change in the family dynamic when that happens. There is an accommodation that has to happen. My mother and I got through the difficult part and now were cruising.

“The Art of Racing in the Rain” hits theaters August 9th

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Movie Review/Interview: Directors Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz talk “The Peanut Butter Falcon”

Shia LaBeouf and Zack Gottsagen star in “The Peanut Butter Falcon”

“The Peanut Butter Falcon” is a modern Mark Twain style adventure story. The film follows Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a young man with Down Syndrome, who runs away from a residential nursing home and the employee who cared for him (Dakota Johnson) so that he can follow his dream of becoming a professional wrestler. Along the way he meets Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), and the two form an unlikely brotherly bond during their exciting and, at times, dangerous travels.

This is writers/directors Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz’s debut feature, and it’s one of the best films of the year. A simple premise with a lot of heart. This is due in great part to the fantastic performances by Gottsagen, LaBeouf, and Johnson. 

I got a chance to sit down with Nilson and Schwartz while they were in Dallas to promote their film. It was entertaining to say the least. They are very cool dudes, who are passionate about this already critically acclaimed movie. We chatted about LaBeouf and Gottsagen’s chemistry, pro-wrestling, meeting your heroes, and much more.

Rating: 4.5/5

All hands in with Michael Schwartz (Left) & Tyler Nilson (Right)
Full Interview with Director/Writers Tyler Nilson & Michael Schwartz

“The Peanut Butter Falcon” opens in select theaters on August 9.

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