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SCRAMBLED Interview w/ Filmmaker Leah McKendrick

“A thirty-something eternal bridesmaid goes on an empowering, and often hilarious, journey of self-discovery.” I had the opportunity to chat with Leah McKendrick, the director/writer/star of the new comedy, “Scrambled”.

This is an early favorite film, and it was such an honor to have an emotional and fun conversation with her about a film that meant so much to me. We discussed things she wanted to highlight about her personal egg freezing journey, the importance of being a supportive friend, and much more!

Be sure to watch “Scrambled” in theaters February 2, 2024.

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ROLE PLAY Interview w/ Kaley Cuoco & David Oyelowo

“Emma (Kaley Cuoco) has a wonderful husband and two kids in the suburbs of New Jersey. She also has a secret life as an assassin for hire, a secret that her husband Dave (David Oyelowo) discovers when the couple decide to spice up their marriage with a little role play.”

I got a chance to speak with the amazingly talented and super fun Kaley Cuoco and David Oyelowo about their new action comedy, “Role Play”. Before the interview started Kaley gave me the best compliment and from there it was just lots of laughs. But there’s even more hilarity in their new movie.

Be sure to watch “Role Play” when it’s available to stream on Prime Video January 12.

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Top 10 Best Films of 2023

10. The Persian Version

Director/writer Maryam Keshavarz pulls from her personal life to tell the story of an Iranian American woman, who has a strained relationship with her mom, until her unexpected pregnancy stirs up the past and reveals a big family secret. The film beautifully shows the strength, wisdom, and humor of Iranian women; while providing a compelling and entertaining portrayal of Persian culture.

9. Maestro

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this film, but it surprisingly hooked me from the start. Bradley Cooper directs, writes, and stars in the engaging love story of conductor-composer Leonard Bernstein and actress Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein. Cooper pours his heart and soul into this project and Carey Mulligan leaves you breathless. Watch this one with no distractions and let yourself get fully immersed in this beautiful film.

8. Saltburn

Director/Writer Emerald Fennell won her first Oscar for my favorite film of 2020, the mystery and drama “Promising Young Woman”. Now she brings us another unique thriller; this time about a lower-class outsider, desperate to fit in with his rich classmates. “Saltburn” is not going to be for everyone. If you have a weak stomach, this probably isn’t the film for you. However, if you’re a fan of WTF moments, dry humor, and unpredictable twists and turns, you’ll love this film as much as I did.

7. The Holdovers

Quite possibly Alexander Payne’s best film yet. Paul Giamatti plays a cranky history teacher at a remote prep school who is forced to stay on campus over the holidays with troubled students who have nowhere to go. The biggest standout here is Da’Vine Joy Randolph’s performance as the witty cafeteria lady who’s still grieving the loss of her son. If she doesn’t win Best Supporting Actress this year I will riot! Giamatti is at his best and Dominic Sessa is a talent to watch out for. “The Holdovers” is a touching, bittersweet tale of complex and opposite characters who find family within each other.

6. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

Based on Judy Blume’s best-selling novel, the film follows Margaret Simon, an 11 year-old going 12, who begins to learn more about herself as a friend, daughter, and grand-daughter. This film brilliantly stays wholesome and inclusive, while not shying away from sensitive subject matters like religion, racism, or sexual education. “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” is a funny and charming, feel-good, coming of age movie the whole family can watch.

5. Barbie

Director/Writer/Actress Greta Gerwig is a force to be reckon with. Barbie broke box office records and held the #1 spot at the movies for weeks this past summer. Not only is the screenplay unbelievably clever but it’s hilarious, heartwarming, and shines an important light on gender roles in our society. Barbies were made to make women feel like they could do anything, and Ken’s were just their arm candy; but the same can’t be said for men and women in the real world. “Barbie” also features a brilliant production design, a scene stealing performance by Ryan Gosling, and an unforgettable monologue by America Ferrera.

4. American Fiction

Jeffry Wright plays a novelist who is fed up with the establishment profiting from “Black” entertainment and to prove his point, he uses a pen name to write a book that frustratingly becomes a success. Director/Writer Cord Jefferson’s script is hilarious, timely, and authentic. Wright outdoes himself in a comical yet emotional role we have yet to see from him. “American Fiction” is a smart and inventive story about the idea of selling out while touching on issues of racisms. It’s sarcastic and painfully awkward at times, but I loved it.

3. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” centers around the team working together to save Rocket and the world from a villain who’s looking to create what he defines as the “perfect” society. Out of all the Marvel characters, this group has always felt the most like family because they are each other’s chosen one. That bond is beautifully showcased in volume 3. We get to see Rocket’s backstory, which explains his attitude and why his family with the Guardians means so much. The entire cast lands the comedy and conveys the heart of the story exceptionally. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is a visually stunning perfect blend of humor, emotion, and fun!

2. May December

“May December” follows a married couple 20 years after their notorious tabloid romance gripped the nation, and an actress shows up to do research for a film about their past. This shocking plot is based on a true scandal where a 34-year-old teacher, who was married with kids had an affair with her 12-year-old student. Cringing, I know! I love how this film unpacks more of the psychology of this scandal and how those involved would be affected years later; while also digging into how a method actress would approach the role. The film is campy, uncomfortable, seductive, and haunting. Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore are of course great in this, but it’s Charles Melton who stands out with his breakthrough performance that should win Best Supporting Actor.

1. Air

This should come as no surprise since I haven’t been able to stop talking about my love for this movie. I don’t get why this isn’t showing up on more Best Picture lists or nominations. A big part of the reason why “Air” soars is because of the film’s authenticity. Ben Affleck wanted to do this story right. He met with Michael Jordan and made sure he approved of the facts, and what they would be portraying. Jordan’s only request was that Viola Davis play his mom. And who can blame him? She’s fantastic. Affleck continues to prove himself as a skilled director with his excellent focus and passion for storytelling. The film is an entertaining crowd-pleaser that moves quickly. It’s hilarious and has an inspiring message about following your instincts and taking risks. EVERYONE SHOULD WATCH!

The Rest of the Best:

11. You Are So Not Invited to my Bat Mitzvah

12. M3GAN

13. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

14. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

15. Past Lives

16. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

17. Nimona

18. Priscilla

19. Talk to Me

20. Quiz Lady

21. Somebody I Used to Know

Top 5 Worst Films of 2023

5. You People – The fact that they had to CGI a kiss between the leads lets us know it must have been just as bad behind the scenes.

4. Maybe I Do – BORING!!!

3. What Happens Later – An underwhelming return for Meg Ryan, who lacked any chemistry with David Duchovny.

2. Paint- About as entertaining as watching paint dry.

1. Ferrari – How was this film approved to been seen by any human ever? To say this crashed & burned is an understatement.

Trevor’s Top 10

10. Priscilla
9. Blackberry
8. Maestro
7. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
6. Dungeons & Dragons
5. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
4. Air
3. Oppenheimer
2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem
1. American Fiction

MAESTRO Interview w/ Bradley Cooper & Carey Mulligan

“This love story chronicles the lifelong relationship of conductor-composer Leonard Bernstein and actress Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein.”

It was a real treat to have a quick chat with Bradley Cooper and Carey Mulligan! Cooper poured his heart and soul into this movie directing, co-writing, and starring in the incredibly moving film. And Mulligan is truly a tour de force as she gives her best performance yet since “Promising Young Woman”.

Watch this one with no distractions and the volume turned up as you allow yourself to be immersed in the music and beautiful story.

“Maestro” is currently streaming on Netflix.

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THE PERSIAN VERSION Interview w/ Director & Writer Maryam Keshavarz

A still from The Persian Version by Maryam Keshavars, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute

“When a large Iranian-American family gathers, a family secret is uncovered that catapults the estranged mother and daughter into an exploration of the past, and to discover they are more alike than they know.”

It was such an honor to speak with Director/Writer Maryam Keshavarz about her hilarious and moving film, “The Persian Version”. This one was really special to me given the background and Persian ties. But the film goes places you wouldn’t except while maintaining the heart and humor of the story throughout.

“The Persian Version” is currently available On Demand

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DFW Film Critics Association 2023 Award Winners

SUMMARY OF AWARD WINNERS

2023 Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association

(Choices listed in order of votes received)

BEST PICTURE

Winner: THE HOLDOVERS

Runners-up: OPPENHEIMER (2); KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON (3); POOR THINGS (4); AMERICAN FICTION (5); PAST LIVES (6); MAESTRO (7); ANATOMY OF A FALL (8); BARBIE (9); MAY DECEMBER (10)

BEST ACTOR

Winner: Cillian Murphy, OPPENHEIMER

Runners-up: Paul Giamatti, THE HOLDOVERS (2); Bradley Cooper, MAESTRO (3); Jeffrey Wright, AMERICAN FICTION (4); Leonardo DiCaprio, KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON (5, tie); Colman Domingo, RUSTIN (5, tie)

BEST ACTRESS

Winner: Lily Gladstone, KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

Runners-up: Emma Stone, POOR THINGS (2); Carey Mulligan, MAESTRO (3); Greta Lee, PAST LIVES (4); Sandra Huller, ANATOMY OF A FALL (5)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Winner: Robert Downey Jr., OPPENHEIMER

Runners-up: Charles Melton, MAY DECEMBER (2); Robert De Niro, KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON (3); Mark Ruffalo, POOR THINGS (4); Dominic Sessa, THE HOLDOVERS (5)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Winner: Da’Vine Joy Randolph, THE HOLDOVERS

Runners-up: Danielle Brooks, THE COLOR PURPLE (2); Emily Blunt, OPPENHEIMER (3); Jodie Foster, NYAD (4); Julianne Moore, MAY DECEMBER (5)

BEST DIRECTOR

Winner: Christopher Nolan, OPPENHEIMER

Runners-up: Martin Scorsese, KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON (2); Alexander Payne, THE HOLDOVERS (3); Yorgos Lanthimos, POOR THINGS (4); Celine Song, PAST LIVES (5)

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Winner: ANATOMY OF A FALL

Runners-up: THE ZONE OF INTEREST (2); THE TASTE OF THINGS (3); SOCIETY OF THE SNOW (4); FALLEN LEAVES (5)

BEST DOCUMENTARY

Winner: AMERICAN SYMPHONY

Runners-up: 20 DAYS IN MARIUPOL (2); STILL: A MICHAEL J. FOX MOVIE (3); THE DEEPEST BREATH (4); THE PIGEON TUNNEL (5)

BEST ANIMATED FILM

Winner: THE BOY AND THE HERON

Runner-up: SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE

BEST SCREENPLAY

Winner: David Hemingson, THE HOLDOVERS

Runner-up: Justine Triet and Arthur Harari, ANATOMY OF A FALL

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Winner: Hoyte van Hoytema, OPPENHEIMER

Runner-up: Rodrigo Prieto, KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

BEST MUSICAL SCORE

Winner: Robbie Robertson, KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

Runner-up: Ludwig Goransson, OPPENHEIMER

RUSSELL SMITH AWARD (best low-budget or cutting-edge independent film)

Winner: THE ZONE OF INTEREST

Movie Review: “Wonka”

This week I review the prequel that is based on the extraordinary character at the center of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, “Wonka” tells the colorful story of how the world’s greatest inventor, magician and chocolate-maker became the beloved Willy Wonka we know today. Find out if the film was a tasty treat or spoiled candy.

“Wonka” opens in theaters on December 15, 2023.

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MAY DECEMBER Interview w/ Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, Charles Melton & Director Todd Haynes

“Twenty years after their notorious tabloid romance gripped the nation, a married couple buckles under pressure when an actress arrives to do research for a film about their past.”

“May December” is a thought-provoking movie, Todd Haynes brilliantly directs this polarizing story that’s told through subtle, yet powerful performances and a witty screenplay by Samy Burch. The more I think about it, the more I love this film. It was a huge honor to sit down with Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, Charles Melton, and Todd Haynes to discuss the movie.

“May December” streams on Netflix December 1, 2023.

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“The Iron Claw” Interview w/ Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White, Kevin Von Erich, & Cast

The Von Erich’s ruled the pro-wrestling community right here in DFW. A family united by a sport they loved but one that would ultimately cause their untimely deaths. “The Iron Claw” tells the true story of the Von Erich legacy. I was at the world premiere of the film in Dallas and spoke with star, Zac Efron, and other cast members about the movie.

“The Iron Claw” opens in theaters December 22.

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SALTBURN Interview w/ Academy Award Winner Emerald Fennell

Emerald Fennell won her first Oscar for the 2020 mystery, drama “Promising Young Woman”. Now she brings us another twisted story, this time about a lower-class outsider, desperate to fit in with his rich classmates. I had the opportunity to speak with Fennell about her new thriller, “Saltburn”.

“Saltburn” opens in theaters November 17.

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