Monday, September 18, 2017

RIP Frank Vincent

RIP Frank Vincent

"Go home and get yo' fucking shine box!" That line has become engraved in our popular culture. I had a roommate in college that loved that line. He'd use it playing video games online. He'd use it if I told a lousy joke or if I pranked him good or just for the hell of it sometimes. That line, of course, came from "Goodfellas" spoken by Frank Vincent who played Billy Batts. Billy Batts harps on Joe Pesci quite a bit in that movie, and sadly it gets him killed by the hands of Pesci and Robert De Niro and Ray Liotta. Dont worry though, old Billy Batts got his revenge on Pesci in another Martin Scorsese gangster movie in 1995 called "Casino." A movie in which Frank Vincent's character clubs Joe Pesci's character to death with a metal baseball bat. Yikes, bad way to go.

If there was a single tough guy role or gangster role to fill, Frank Vincent was your man. You can find him in "The Sopranos," "Goodfellas," "Casino," "Raging Bull," "Wise Guys," "New York Undercover" and "Cop Land." He even provided voices for gangster characters in a couple Grand Theft Auto video games. 

Frank Vincent may have been a red blooded Italian, but that doesn't mean he only limited himself to tough guy roles. Vincent appeared in such films as "Do The Right Thing" and "Jungle Fever" by Spike Lee. He was on a few episodes of "Cosby." He was also very good in "The Last Exit To Brooklyn." 

But alas, You will know Frank Vincent the best for his work as being a gangster. And a smooth gangster he was. I hope he rests in peace, and I will miss his brilliant work in these movies, and all the other work he's done.

RIP Harry Dean Stanton

RIP Harry Dean Stanton
Last week, we lost a very beloved actor. At least in my mind he's beloved. Harry Dean Stanton was one of those actors who seemed like he was everywhere. Even though you may not have known his name. Too bad too, because he left a memorable image to all of the roles he took up. Whether they were leading roles, supporting roles or just a walk-by cameo, Harry Dean Stanton always gave us something memorable every time he went in front of a camera. Not only was he great performer, but he served our country during World War II where he achieved the rank of lieutenant. 

My first exposure of to Harry Dean Stanton was seeing him in David Lynch movies. I was a big fan of Lynch ever since I was introduced to his work with "Mulholland Drive." I was way too young to see that movie originally, but it opened myself to all things Lynch. Harry Dean Stanton may not have appeared in "Mulholland Drive," but he did appear in "Wild At Heart," "The Straight Story," "Inland Empire," and "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me." Lynch loves using the same actors in his movies, so its no surprise that Lynch kept coming back to Stanton. Stanton was great in all of those movies, and no matter how much screen time he got, he was always great.

Even if you are not a Lynch fan, and I wouldn't blame you if you weren't, then you probably saw Stanton is "Alien," where he played Brett. Or maybe you saw him in "Red Dawn" as Tom Eckert. You may have also seen him in "Escape From New York" with Kurt Russell or "Death Wish" with Charles Bronson or "Christine" with that killer car. You may remember him as the FBI agent in "Godfather Part II" or Willard in "Kelly's Heroes" and he was Saul in "The Last Temptation of Christ." The guy has been acting for many years, and he was constantly memorable, constantly pushing himself as a performer, constantly making himself something different in every role. One character doesn't look the same in one movie or the other. 

I could spend all night discussing Stanton's work in "Paris, Texas" or "Cool Hand Luke" or "Repo Man" or "The Pledge" or "Anger Management" or "Alpha Dog" or "You Me and Dupree" or "Seven Psychopaths" or "Two-Lane Blacktop" or "Pretty In Pink" or "Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas" or "A Civil Action" or "The Green Mile" and on and on and on. I mean to fully appreciate the career of Harry Dean Stanton would be to have a five month film festival. He got so much accomplished and created so many friends I can only see in the movies. He will be missed.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Review: "Nobody Speak" reminds us why the free press is an important part of our country

Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press Review

"Our Liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost" This is a strong quote from Thomas Jefferson and a very important quote. The free press is a very important part of our First Amendment, which is a our freedom of speech. The press has both a duty and a right to report on the things affecting our world, they way they see it. Yes, the press has made some mistakes in the past, but does that automatically mean that they are fake news?

Now, more than ever, the press is under attack and it feels like they are becoming a less and less respectable source of news. But where does the line bend when trying to decipher if the press is making up fake news, or if the party in question is simply trying to cover the truth? That is the very question "Nobody Speaks," a documentary about figuring out if the media is really out to sell a fake story, or if the people behind the scenes are trying to hide the truth. Much of the documentary is about a court case revolving around a sex tape involving pro wrestler Hulk Hogan and his best wife. Hogan is suing Gawker Media for bringing the tape into the open and writing about it.

This is a movie where everyday, we are all walking the tight rope line between challenging the freedom of the press or keeping certain voices quiet in order to hide facts. The film gets into President Donald Trump and his fascination of calling every media outlets fake news, it discusses the importance of the free press. Its highly provocative in the way it sheds light on both sides of the story, and how those who go around touting "fake news" or blaming the media for woes may not be who they say they are.

I found "Nobody Speak" to be fascinating and a huge eye-opener to what we call freedom of the press, and why we should continue to fight for it everyday.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Cast Party: Adult Loser's Club

Cast Party

Adult Loser's Club

Welcome to the first edition of Cast Party, a new game where I look at a popular coming attraction and give my picks on who I would choose to play the main characters. I hope you enjoy and feel free to play along as we put forth our choices for these casts.

Tonight's cast sheet is for the following...

When the plan was being formulated to bring "IT" to the big screen, it was always a plan to make it into at least two movies. The first film was going to focus on the kid's story and the second film was going to focus on the adult story. That idea is still moving forward, and with "IT" crushing it in the box office right now, its pretty much inevitable that we will see the Loser's Club unite twenty seven years later to battle Pennywise once again. The big question we have now is, who will play the adult versions of the Loser's Club? So the big question now is who will play the Loser's Club older selves? The kids from the first film have given their ideas on who should play the adults, and you can find those ideas with pretty minimal effort. Now, its my turn. Here is the list of actors I'd like to see tackle these characters. Keep in mind, since this is twenty-seven years later, and the kids being 12 or 13 in the first film, I'll only be considering actors in their late 30's, early 40's. So keep that in mind as you read on.

1. Bill Denbrough- John Krasinski
In recent years, John Krasinski has been proving more and more that he's ready to take his film career seriously, and he's been seemingly pushing himself as an actor. He's not just "the guy from The Office" anymore and he has been making an impact on dramatic roles. He nearly disappeared in "13 Hours," and even though I didn't love that movie, I sure did enjoy Krasinski's role in it. I also really liked him in "Detroit," where he was a total creep. Krasinski is good at being the alpha male, and I think him being the leader of this group of friends only feels natural, and he'd bring the poise, innocence and bravery that the role would require.

2. Beverly Marsh- Jessica Chastain
Yep. When someone is perfect for a role, they are plain perfect for a role. Sophia Lillis, who played Beverly in "IT," says Chastain should play adult Beverly. Chastain has already worked with director Andy Maschietti in the film "Mama." There are also even rumors that a deleted scene from "IT" featured an adult Beverly...played by none other than Jessica Chastain. I feel she may be a shoe-in, if she has a scheduling conflict with something else or if she's just not interested are always on the table, but I can't think of another reason why she'd pass on this. Even though I will say Amy Adams, Bryce Dallas Howard and even Christina Hendricks would be very good alternates.

3. Ben Hanscomb- Joel Edgerton
Yes, I get that Chris Pratt is the current favorite to play Hanscomb and I get that it would be ironic because Pratt used to be a tad overweight and now he's in shape, which is the exact transformation that happens to Ben in the book. But I think Pratt's personality would be better showcased if he were cast as someone like Richie. There is a striking shade of innocence required to play Ben Hanscomb well, and I think Edgerton could portray that innocence in a very profound way. He may a be a little too old for the part, but his baby face look would probably help out with that.

4. Richie Tozier- Mark Duplass
I know that Bill Hader is a favorite to play adult Tozier, and I will admit that you wouldn't hear me complain if he would be cast. I think it is important to find someone with a comedic background to play Tozier. If you saw the first film, you know why. Tozier is the comic relief of the gang. He's the guy making impressions, making the one-liners and has an abundant knowledge of pop culture. I give the edge to Mark Duplass because, even though Duplass has done lots of funny things in his career, he's also proven to be a profound dramatic actor. Tozier is a complex person, he's a funny guy but he's got a big heart, strong loyalty and he knows when to step up and be brave. I think Duplass would be able to transition between all of Tozier's emotions while making it all feel natural.

5. Mike Hanlon- David Oyelowo
I am hoping the second film plays it a little closer to the books, if they do then Mike Hanlon is going to be a critical character. This is because Mike is the only member of the Loser's Club to stay in Derry. When Pennywise does resurface, its up to Mike to track the others down and get them to Derry, to do good on their promise. Mike goes through lots of self-doubt and suffers from some inner turmoil before contacting any of his old friends. I think Oyelowo would be able to portray that perfectly. Plus, he looks like a librarian, right?

6. Eddie Kaspbrak- Casey Affleck
I wasn't expecting young Eddie Kaspbrak to be the little spitfire that he was in the movie that came out on Friday, but hey I welcome it. Eddie might have been my favorite of the kids in the movie, and I love that he was a hypochondriac who had encyclopedic knowledge on anything pertaining to germs, but he was slyly brave and wasn't afraid to stand up for himself, even if it took some confidence build up. Believe it or not, Casey Affleck could be perfect for this. He's fresh off an Oscar win, and his filmography has proven that he has great range. Even in one movie. He can be blisteringly funny while also being endearingly heartfelt. Alas, he'd probably have to get a haircut. I think Affleck slight childish voice would only bring out the emotions of Eddie Kaspbrak even more.

7. Stanley Uris- Scoot Mcnairy
Between "Gone Girl," "Argo," "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice," "12 Years A Slave," and "Killing Them Softly," Scoot Mcnairy is an actor who has built a strong reputation only starring in mainly supporting to small roles. He's the kind of guy who can show up for one or two scenes and deliver something strikingly memorable. If you know the book, then you know that Stanley Uris isn't going to get nearly as much screen time as the other Losers, so why waste millions on a big name when you can get someone just as good who will leave a lasting impression on the character? For a guy who will do quick, great work then leave, Mcnairy is the only guy for the job.

So this is my Loser's Club.

Agree? Disagree? Fire away in the comment section below! Who do you think should play the adult Loser's Club in "IT: Chapter Two?"

Friday, September 8, 2017

Review: Andy Muschietti's "IT" blends faithful adaptation and new vision in a terrifying cocktail.

IT Review

If there is one author that I can wholeheartedly thank for really pushing me to read novels, its Stephen King. The first time reading one of his books felt like I was coming-of-age, and not every author can take a genre and redefine it to fit their visions and styles. Not that this trend only exists in horror, King's "Rita Hayworth and the Shawkshank Redemption" and "The Body" (which became "Stand By Me") don't read like the typical stories. There is a type of language that King invented himself, and he's not afraid to push boundaries in any genre he picks to play in.

Which has made his stories tricky to adapt onto screen. Believe me I know. I have seen dozens and dozens King movies and King mini-series and King television. Some were good, some were bad, most were mediocre. I think it just shows how difficult and elaborate King's texts are, and it takes someone incredibly passionate for his language who do the best in adapting his work. I grew up watching the 1990 "IT" mini-series. I saw the mini-series, read the book all within a summer and early fall season. I was the same age as the young Loser's Club when they first encountered Pennywise The Dancing Clown, so the story has stayed with me in a way few stories do. The 1990 mini-series still exists in the pantheon of nostalgia. Personally, it's okay. I sure found it frightening when I was younger and I think Tim Curry did exactly what he was hired to do as Pennywise. I don't think its held up well, and it doesn't come close to getting under my skin anymore, but for its time it was definitely okay. Its a tough story to adapt on ABC though.

There has been a long road to getting "IT" on a big screen, let alone giving it an R-rating. Cary Fukunaga originally wrote a script and was set to direct the film, even going as far as casting Will Poulter as Pennywise. I read his legendary script and I would have definitely loved to see the psychological strangeness of his first season of "True Detective" to "IT." But relations fell through between Fukunaga and Warner Brothers, so his vision never came to fruition. Fukunaga still has a screenplay credit for the adaptation by Andy Muschietti that is getting released this weekend. Some of the scenes from his script were included in this new film. is Andy Muschietti's film?

Look, I am not going to play the "well, in the book King did this" game. Hell, I am not going to play the "in Fukunaga's script, he did this" game. I truly am not a stickler for adaptation details, as long as the essence of the story remains true. Which was the main thing that frustrated me most about "The Dark Tower." I can honestly say that Muschietti has captured the essence of Stephen King's novel with a powerful, frightening affect. Yes, Muschietti has updated things. The teenagers story no longer takes place in the 1950's, but the 1980's. Muschietti uses 1980's nostalgia to surpreme dosage and you can't help but smile at the background of the settings and the topics which The Losers Club discuss. "The Dark Tower" angered me because it felt like it was made by someone who merely read a Wikipedia page about The Dark Tower. "IT," throughout its updates and abysmal changes, feels like it was made by people who read the book, and I couldn't have asked for more.

For those of you who never read the books or the saw the mini-series, "IT" is an epic horror novel about a fictional town called Derry that is haunted by a powerful entity that feeds on people. Its favorite way of stalking potential prey is morphing into Pennywise The Dancing Clown to lure children to him. A boy named Bill Denbrough lost his brother, and soon his six friends begin to experience the terror of Pennywise. So much so that they decide to ban together to destroy it once and for all. They don't know if Pennywise is truly defeated, so they promise to come back to Derry to defeat it again. Sure enough, 27 years later, they get together to fight it once more.

This first film focuses entirely the Loser's Club as teenagers. We are introduced to Bill (Jaeden Lieberher), Beverly (Sophie Lillis), Richie (Finn Wolfhard), Eddie (Jack Dylan Gazer), Stanley (Wyatt Oleff) and Mike (Chosen Jacobs), all of whom share a bond of being stalked by the evil Pennywise (Bill Skarsgaard). King's book has always been more than just a horror story about a killer clown. It was a coming-of-age story for these kids. This event affected their lives, and they become adults merging out of the sewers after their last encounter with Pennywise. That's important to the story, and Muschietti has mastered it completely. Watching this group of kids interact together will make you cry at moments, laugh at moments, cheer at moments and you will just love just watching these kids spend time together. Also, when Pennywise attacks, we feel the stakes because we care about these kids. Each actor does incredible work, etching in the quirks and mannerisms of each kid without it coming off hammy. Each of these kids could have a very great career ahead of them if acting is what they choose to do.

So let's talk about Pennywise for a moment. Because after all, if Pennywise doesn't work, then the whole story falls apart. The best thing Skarsgaard did as a performer is completely make us forget about Tim Curry, just as Heath Ledger completely made us forget about Jack Nicholson when rebooting The Joker. When Skarsgaard is sitting in the sewer drain talking to Bill's brother Georgie, its killer stuff. Skarsgaard has completely redone Pennywise and he creates something long-lasting with the character. I love that, because its difficult to do. Pennywise is supposed to a menacing, disturbing character, a killer that keeps coming and coming. But he's got a personality like Freddy Kruger and Chucky the doll, blending those two traits together can sometimes turn into cheesiness. But I think Skarsgaard strikes a near-perfect balance, finding the right moments to unleash each trait.

That's also important discussing the scares of the movie. Most of the scares in the film feel like they were created in a Blumhouse factory, and one thing I do really wish we got in this adaptation was more psychological terror. There are lots of scares in this movie that are meant to be "boo-scares" and while I will admit that some definitely landed, this was story that affected the mind and I wish we saw more of that. There is also an 80's movie vibe that stretches across some of the scares, and I got a kick out of that.

"IT" is a long movie, which didn't surprise me nor bother me. The book itself is a little over 1,100 pages. It truly is an epic horror story. While the movie runs nearly two and a half hours, it still feels like something that is in fast-forward. Mike becoming good friends with the other Losers, the bully Henry Bowers personality shifts throughout the movie, Beverly's all feels bulldozed through to keep the story going. It doesn't make the movie bad, just entire scenes and even characters don't feel like they have time to breathe. But overall, the film still flows really well, there are just some story and character beats that feel like they happen off camera, instead of things we actually see play out.

The bottom line is this, Stephen King adaptations are tricky, very tricky. That is why so few of them have actually worked. Muschietti gets so much right in this adaptation that I can help but recommend the movie. I think its worth a look, and I haven't said that about a Stephen King movie in quite some time, so it feels good to say. There are so many things that I want to say, so many details I want to discuss at length. I definitely want to return for a long overdue Further Inspection article a few weeks from now once you all have had a chance to see it, because there is SO much to discuss here. The thing is, the movie works, Muschietti nailed the important things and while some things get changed from the book, the essence of the story is intact. For once, I am absolutely rabid about a sequel. I can't wait to see the Losers Club again, all grown up, to face off against Pennywise once more.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Colin Trevorrow exits Star Wars: Episode IX

Colin Trevorrow, who is famously known as the director of "Jurassic World," was all set to direct "Star Wars: Episode IX" (complete title still unknown). It was announced last night that Trevorrow has abruptly left after a mutual decision made by Trevorrow himself and Lucasfilm executive Kathleen Kennedy.

"Lucasfilm and Colin Trevorrow have mutually chosen to part was on Star Wars: Episode IX. Colin has been a wonderful collaborator throughout the development process but have all come to the conclusion that our visions for the project differ. We wish Colin the best and will share more information soon" said the statement released by Lucasfilm last night.

I was pretty critical earlier this summer when Phil Lord and Chris Miller left the Han Solo movie, and now its highly suspect that Trevorrow and Lucasfilm parted ways so far into development of episode IX. I hate hysteria, and I never mean to give into hysteria. But for crying outloud, what is going on over at Lucasfilm. Lots of people were critical on episode VII by just being a faint remake of the first film, I was personally able to move past that as I felt it didn't derail the movie. But I am getting serious "Empire" vibes from the first trailer for "The Last Jedi" and I am starting to really wonder if Disney bought Lucasfilm just to happily remake the original trilogy. That might be nice creatively, but it doesn't do much for the general audience. I still love episode VII, but even I can recognize a remake when I see one. Is that really why Disney bought Lucasfilm? To essentially remake the original trilogy?

Like I said, I don't mean to give into the hysteria. There could be a very reasonable explanation for this. Carrie Fisher passed last year and I think Lucasfilm is still scrambling to put a finishing end to Princess Leia's story line in these movies. Something that will honor her memory and honor Fisher as a performer. No easy feat, that. So I can understand if Trevorrow's vision and Lucasfilm's vision just didn't sink up. Creative differences happen more often than not in this business, so I can totally understand if that were the case. No offence to Trevorrow, but "Jurassic World" was just a carbon copy of the all the other "Jurassic Park" movies. I am glad he got to play in the sandbox that inspired him to make movies in the first place, but there really wasn't a point to "Jurassic World." People treat Trevorrow like he's some kind connoisseur in film, but he's made one mediocre film and now he's a go-to guy for high-concepts and fantasy?

I'm just gonna say if VIII and IX are just clever inversions on "Empire" and "Return of the Jedi," I am going to be profoundly disappointed.


Gerald's Game Trailer

This is a pretty big week for Stephen King fans.

First and foremost, "IT" hits theaters this weekend. I am reading lots of positive buzz, and it seems like people are buying pre-tickets in droves. I think Andres has made a palpable and faithful adaptation, but also making something of his own. All the positive buzz is making my heart fill up with more and more joy. I can't wait to see this movie.

Stephen King fans also got one more surprise this week. Netflix is releasing another King adaptation at the end of the month. "Gerald's Game" is a book where King nearly dips into erotic thriller. A couple vacation to remote cabin in the woods. They get frisky, and to jazz up their intimate life, the husband handcuffs her wife to the bed. He suddenly has a heart attack and dies, leaving his wife handcuffed with nobody near to help her out of the cuffs.

Yeah, it only gets crazy from that moment on...

This looks like another great adaptation. I love Carla Gugino, I have for a long time, so I am very much looking forward to this. Mike Flanagan made the incredible "Hush," a home invasion horror film with a little bit of a twist, and I cannot wait to see what he does with a King book.

2017 could be the year where Stephen King horror adaptations got back on track. I am praying, praying that this is the case.