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Archives for : Susan Kamyab Stephens

Movie Review: “Irresistible” and “Relic”

This week I’ve got reviews of a couple hot new films for you to see. “Irresistible” is a sharp satire of political campaigning from Jon Stewart, and “Relic”, tells a haunting story that will hit close to home for many viewers.

“Irresistible” is available On Demand June 26.

“Relic” is available On Demand July 10.

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Movie Review: “The King of Staten Island”, “7500”, & “You Should Have Left”

In the latest ICTN movie review, we check out the new film by Judd Apatow, “The King of Staten Island.” We also have a preview of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s intense, new thriller, “7500” and Kevin Bacon’s new horror film, “You Should Have Left.”

“The King of Staten Island” is available On Demand now.

“7500” is available to stream on Amazon Prime June 18th.

“You Should Have Left” is available On Demand June 19th.

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Movie Review: “The King of Staten Island” tells a Compelling Story

The King of Staten Island - Who Is Pete? - YouTube

Judd Apatow is responsible for some of the best comedies of our time including, “Knocked Up”, “40 Year-Old Virgin”, and “Trainwreck”. His films typically dive deeper than the usual comedy. He takes the time to have audiences understand his leads and provides a sincere character study. We continue to gain perspective on another lost soul in Apatow’s new heartfelt comedy, “The King of Staten Island”.

This time Apatow has teamed up with Saturday Night Live standout, Pete Davidson. Together, alongside co-writer Dave Sirus, they bring Davidson’s personal experiences to life.

“The King of Staten Island” is about a young man named Scott (Davidson) who’s still living in his mother’s basement, and seems to be going nowhere in life. Scott has had issues ever since his father passed away on the job responding to a fire when he was seven. Since then, he hasn’t been able to grow up and become an independent adult. Everything changes when his younger sister Claire (Maude Apatow) goes off to college, and his mother Margie (Marisa Tomei) starts dating another firefighter named Ray (Bill Burr).

Margie is finally able to move on and think about her own happiness. This forces Scott to get a job, and look for a new place to live. Unfortunately, Ray gets the blame for this sudden shift in Scott’s life, and naturally he hates him. The two butt heads and carry on a hilarious banter throughout the movie; which eventually leads to a powerful and emotional realization of unresolved grief.

The King of Staten Island Is the Rare Comedy That May Play Better ...

What I have always loved about Apatow’s movies is the writing. Not only is it authentic and honest, but it’s also so damn funny. The dialogue is awkwardly realistic and witty. And his always talented casts help elevate the script.

Apatow’s daughter is a knock out; and Tomei does a fantastic job, as usual, playing an endearing, sweet mom. But it’s Davidson and Burr who shine. Davidson solidifies his career by bringing humor and genuine emotion without ever appearing to try too hard. Burr is obviously funny and sarcastic, but he also has depth and just the right amount of heart to make you understand why Margie could fall for him so quickly.

“The King of Staten Island” tells a unique story about grief, loss, and love. Showing that for your own health, it’s important to confront your issues, and allow the people around you to help in the healing process.

Some may be discouraged by the nearly two and half hour runtime, but don’t let the semi-slow pace deter you from this beautiful, well made, coming-of-age film.

Rating: 4/5

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Movie Review: “The High Note” & “The Vast of Night”

I’ve got a couple of new film reviews for ya! First is “The High Note”, another mentor/mentee film that makes the most of its’ cast and should hit the right note with its’ audience.

Then there is the new Amazon Studios movie, “The Vast of Night”, which plays as a wonderful homage to “The Twilight Zone”. This film will satisfy that sci-fi itch with suspense, mystery, wonder and nostalgia.

“The High Note” is available on various On Demand platforms May 29.

“The Vast of Night” is available on Amazon Prime May 29.

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Dallas Film Announces Summer Drive-in Series Presented by Samsung

Dallas Film Announces Summer Drive-in Series Presented by Samsung

The show will go on, “first come, first park”

DALLAS, May 21, 2020 – Here’s what Dallas Film won’t do… Dallas Film won’t stop curating and screening great movies for our thoughtful family of movie-goers. Current conditions have accelerated our desire for scheduled year-round programming across multi-venues. In creating new ways to share the magic of movies, we’ve launched virtual cinema and hosted the DIFF Online High School Shorts Series. Dallas Film is now proud to announce a new partnership with Samsung to bring movie-goers the DIFF Summer Drive-in Series presented by Samsung.

DIFF Summer Drive-in Series presented by Samsung will screen films outdoors, drive-in style at Four Corners Brewery, 1311 S. Ervay Street, Dallas, TX 75215. The series begins on Wednesday, June 3 with a special 35th anniversary screening of THE GOONIES. Gates open at 7:00 pm and the film begins at 8:30 pm. Be sure to arrive early for a special introduction from the film’s cast. 

No reservations required – first come, first park.  There is a suggested donation of $20 per car.

DIFF Summer Drive-in Series presented by Samsung

Schedule (dates and movies subject to change):

6/3       THE GOONIES (35th Anniversary)

6/24      JAWS (45th Anniversary)

7/29      RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK

8/26      Movie to be announced

9/30      Movie to be announced

DIFF Summer Drive-in Series Know Before You Go:

-Volunteers will direct parking.

-We request that everyone stay in their car or in the bed of their truck to respect social distancing.

-No chairs, blankets or tents allowed outside of vehicles.

-No balls, frisbees or parking lot games permitted at this time.

-Outside food is permitted. Food trucks and vendors will not be onsite at this screening. 

-Alcohol is not allowed. 

-We ask that guests only use the inside restrooms for emergencies.

About Dallas Film  

Dallas Film (www.dallasfilm.org), established as Dallas Film Society in 2006, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that exists to celebrate the past, present and future of film in our community. The organization provides leadership in screen education and the recognition and celebration of excellence in the art of film, television, and digital media. Through a variety of screenings and festivals, and  educational programs such as Veterans Institute for Film & Media (VIFM) and Mercury One High School Film Labs, Dallas Film raises awareness of the world’s most approachable and inclusive art form.

Movie Review: “The Willoughbys” & “The Wrong Missy” Preview

This week, I review the Netflix animated film, “The Willoughbys”. It’s a dark comedy about four kids looking to get rid of their horrible, selfish parents. What follows is a wild adventure that uncovers the true meaning of family. Then enjoy a preview of the zany, new David Spade comedy, “The Wrong Missy”.

“The Willoughbys” is available on Netflix now

“The Wrong Missy” is available on Netflix May 13.

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Movie Review: “The Half of It” & “Underwater” DVD/Blu-Ray

“The Half of It” is a very interesting take on the classic “Cyrano de Bergerac”. Set in Washington state instead of France and replacing the soldiers and nobles with high school students, “The Half of It” looks like another Netflix winner.

Check out my review of the new Netflix drama and the DVD/Blu-Ray release of “Underwater”.

“The Half of It” is available on Netflix May 1.

“Underwater” is available on Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital

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“The King of Staten Island” On Demand June 12

Universal Pictures’ big fancy announcement!

THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND will premiere on demand June 12.

Watch Judd Apatow and Pete Davidson’s announcement and download #TheKingofStatenIsland poster.

This summer, Judd Apatow directs Saturday Night Live breakout Pete Davidson in a bracing comedy about love, loss and laughter on Staten Island.  

Over his storied career, Judd Apatow has elevated a series of promising young comedy talents to their first major big-screen performance, including Steve Carell, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel, Kristen Wiig, Amy Schumer and Kumail Nanjiani.

This summer, Apatow directs Saturday Night Live breakout Pete Davidson in a bracing comedy about love, loss and laughter on Staten Island.

Scott (Davidson) has been a case of arrested development ever since his firefighter father died when he was seven. He’s now reached his mid-20s having achieved little, chasing a dream of becoming a tattoo artist that seems far out of reach. As his ambitious younger sister (Maude Apatow, HBO’s Euphoria) heads off to college, Scott is still living with his exhausted ER nurse mother (Oscar® winner Marisa Tomei) and spends his days smoking weed, hanging with the guys—Oscar (Ricky Velez, Master of None), Igor (Moises Arias, Five Feet Apart) and Richie (Lou Wilson, TV’s The Guest Book)—and secretly hooking up with his childhood friend Kelsey (Bel Powley, Apple TV+’s The Morning Show).

But when his mother starts dating a loudmouth firefighter named Ray (Bill Burr, Netflix’s F Is for Family), it sets off a chain of events that will force Scott to grapple with his grief and take his first tentative steps toward moving forward in life.

The film also stars Steve Buscemi as Papa, a veteran firefighter who takes Scott under his wing, and Pamela Adlon (FX’s Better Things) as Ray’s ex-wife, Gina.

The King of Staten Island is directed by Apatow (Trainwreck, Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old Virgin) from a script by Apatow, Davidson and former SNL writer Dave Sirus. It is produced by Apatow for his Apatow Productions alongside Barry Mendel. Together, the duo shared producing credits on the Academy Award®-nominated films The Big Sick and Bridesmaids, as well as This Is 40, Trainwreck and Funny People. The film’s executive producers are Pete Davidson, Michael Bederman and Judah Miller.

Genre: Comedy

Cast: Pete Davidson, Marisa Tomei, Bill Burr, Bel Powley, Maude Apatow and Steve Buscemi

Directed by: Judd Apatow

Written by: Judd Apatow & Pete Davidson & Dave Sirus

Producers: Judd Apatow, Barry Mendel

Executive Producers: Pete Davidson, Michael Bederman, Judah Miller

Live Stream Q&As with Blockbuster Filmmakers!

Chris Edwards, the founder/CEO of visualization studio THE THIRD FLOOR

ASU FILM SPARK HOSTS ONLINE QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSIONS WITH TOP HOLLYWOOD PROFESSIONALS ON YOUTUBE FOR EVERYONE TO STREAM

Mondays throughout the month of April, cinematographers, producers and other Hollywood professionals who helped bring audiences “Avengers: Endgame,” “Joker,” “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “Venom” and more will explore the debate on whether or not superhero movies are cinema.

TEMPE, ARIZONA – April 17, 2020 – ASU Film Spark, Arizona State University’s industry relations program in Hollywood, is hosting a series of free online Q&A sessions with respected Hollywood professionals on Mondays throughout the month of April on the Film Spark YouTube channel. ASU Film Spark welcomes anyone who is interested in hearing from some of the people who help create your favorite films to join them at 7:30PM PST for the live-streamed events. 

This series features conversations with cinematographers, producers and other Hollywood professionals who aim to answer the question, Are Superhero Movies Cinema? Speakers include:

  • April 13: Larry Sher, cinematographer, “Joker” and “The Hangover” – Watch his session here
  • April 20: Chris Edwards, founder/CEO of visualization studio THE THIRD FLOOR, “Avengers: Endgame”; “The Mandalorian”; “Star Wars Episode IX: Rise of Skywalker” 
  • April 27: Matt Tolmach, producer and executive producer, “The Amazing Spider-Man,” ”Venom,” “Jumanji” and “Future Man”

“Martin Scorsese’s claim that superhero movies aren’t cinema gives aspiring filmmakers the chance to think hard about the definition of ‘cinema,’” said Adam Collis, founding director of ASU Film Spark. “And who better to explore this question than some of the best filmmakers working today. ASU Film Spark has been sharing this special class with our friends at Santa Monica College, and, during these stay-at-home times, we are honored and excited to now share the class with anyone who loves movies, cinema or both.”

Arizona State University, which has been ranked as the most innovative school in the nation for the last five years in a row, is also the nation’s largest university and built on a charter which puts inclusivity in its very first sentence. In this spirit, ASU Film Spark is thrilled to include film students, cinephiles, comic fans, aspiring moviemakers and movie-lovers of all stripes in conversation. 

“I’m proud to have been the first industry guest Adam connected to ASU back in 2009, when we did a video conference with his students,” said Lawrence Sher, cinematographer for “Joker” and “The Hangover” series. “Since then, I’ve seen Film Spark and the film program grow in astonishing ways. ASU really is the most innovative school in the nation, and their students are spectacular. Our exploration of the superhero genre and the definition of cinema was a blast and one of the more thought-provoking conversations I’ve had on the subject.”

“Are Superhero Movies CINEMA?” is the latest example of innovative Film Spark classes and programming. Their Feature Film Internship Initiative gave 85 ASU students and 15 recent alumni the chance to learn filmmaking on an actual feature film set from an Oscar-winning cast and crew including Octavia Spencer, George Lopez and Nia Vardalos. Other examples include their Women in Film Zoom Q&A class featuring producer/former studio chief Nina Jacobson, director/co-chair of the DGA diversity committee Bethany Rooney and others; a semester-long class with Lionsgate in which students case-studied the film “Wonder” just before it was released; and a two-day symposium with producer Walter Parkes called “Inventing the Future All Over Again,” for which Film Spark reassembled the team of futurists Parkes gathered in 1999 to help Steven Spielberg create the futuristic world of Minority Report. Film Spark has also brought Spike Lee, Patricia Cardoso, Fanny Grande, Salvador Carrasco and Boots Riley to campus for special events and screenings at Sun Devil Stadium.

Guests who would like to receive an email reminder on the day of the event as well as updates about future events may RSVP here. RSVPs are not required and you may view each live session by visiting the Film Spark YouTube channel at 7:30PM MST on Mondays in April. 

About ASU Film Spark 

In Fall of 2009, ASU film professor Adam Collis hosted a simple video-conference between his students and Lawrence Sher, the cinematographer of “Garden State” and “The Hangover” films. The students liked it so much, Collis set upon a mission to connect ASU students with the best filmmakers and executives in the world. Since then, Film Spark has connected ASU with 5 Oscar-winners, 5 Oscar-nominees, 8 studio chiefs, the presidents of the Academy and the Directors Guild, as well as numerous blockbuster producers, award-winning directors and world class depart heads. Film Spark has grown to become the ASU Embassy in Hollywood—hosting career fairs, connecting students to jobs and internships, and building the Hollywood Sun Devil alumni network through mixers and professional development events for the School of Film, Dance and Theatre in ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. To learn more, visit filmspark.asu.edu

Movie Review: “The Lost Husband” Sparks a Glimmer of Light

All is not lost in the new romantic comedy, starring Leslie Bibb and Josh Duhamel.

Based on the novel by Katherine Center, “The Lost Husband” follows Libby (Bibb), an attractive young woman, who has lost her husband in a tragic car accident. Libby and her two children (Callie Hope Haverda & Roxton Garcia) have been living with her difficult mother (Sharon Lawrence); but when they wear out their welcome, they pack up and head to her aunt Jean’s (Nora Dunn) house.

Jean lives in central Texas on a goat farm with no TV, no Wi-Fi, and no dishwasher. However, she does have an espresso maker! In order to make herself useful, Libby is forced to help out around the house and farm. Luckily, she has the conveniently handsome and single ranch hand, James (Duhamel), to guide her through the process of things.

The relationship between Libby and James is about as predictable as you would imagine. It begins with a dislike for each other. James thinks she’s too much of a city girl and can’t possibly get her hands dirty, and Libby thinks James is a jerk. Well, good thing opposites do attract. The transition from hate to love goes quick. Besides a few bickers here and there, the film doesn’t try to fight off the pair’s instant chemistry for too long. Both Bibb and Duhamel do a great job with their roles and are a fun and charming couple to watch.

The film identifies itself as a “romantic comedy”. Though it is a big element to the story, “The Lost Husband” centers more around Libby’s growth and healing over her husband’s death and mother’s mistreatment. This is not a bad thing, and it’s refreshing that the movie went this route instead of trying to make a Nicholas Sparks knock-off.

The entire cast does a solid job and there’s even a little “Popular”(1999 TV Series) reunion between Bibb and her former co-star Carly Pope that will be nice for fans of the show to see.

There’s just no high risk conflict in this movie. Little issues pop up like a child being bullied, an annoying new friend, and even a “shocking” secret. However, these issues are either resolved quickly, glossed over, or feel very anti-climactic. We never earn our resolution.

You can easily sit back, relax, and watch this mildly dramatic story unfold. Which may be exactly what we all need right now. I point out these flaws of the film not to deter you away, but to better prepare you going in. At no point will you question where the story is headed, but you can still enjoy this smooth ride.

“The Lost Husband” is a heart-warming drama about love and the family/people in our lives who truly bring us up when we’re down.

Rating: 3/5

“The Lost Husband is available to rent On Demand April 10.

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