Full Trailer for Netflix’s ‘Wheelman’ Action Movie Starring Frank Grillo

Wheelman Trailer

“You don’t listen to me… you’re gunna get hurt.” Netflix has revealed a new full-length trailer for an action film titled Wheelman, about a “wheelman” getaway driver. We featured a teaser trailer for this last month, and here’s the full trailer to follow that. Wheelman is told entirely from the perspective of the driver, with most shots inside the car, taking place over the course of one night and one bank robbery that goes terribly wrong. Frank Grillo plays the wheelman, co-starring Garret Dillahunt, Caitlin Carmichael, Wendy Moniz, and William Xifaras. This actually looks pretty damn good, and buzz from Fantastic Fest seems to indicate it might even exceed expectations. This really does look a lot like a grittier Baby Driver, though. ›››

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They’re All In! Third Official Trailer for DC’s Epic ‘Justice League’ Movie

Justice League Trailer

“Justice is served!” Are you ready for more?! Warner Bros has debuted the third & final trailer for DC’s epic, save-the-world Justice League movie, and it looks even more exciting and action-packed than we’ve seen before. Justice League is the continuation of the Batman v Superman series in the DC Extended Universe, bringing together five super-powered beings: Ben Affleck as Batman, Jason Momoa as Aquaman, Ezra Miller as The Flash, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, and Ray Fisher as Cyborg. The film’s extensive cast also includes Willem Dafoe, Jeremy Irons, Amber Heard, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, and J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon. We’ve seen two other trailers for this previously, but with a month left to go, this final one has finished footage that looks promising. Let’s hope this turns out awesome! Fire it up. ›››

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‘Gerald’s Game’ and ‘1922’ (and ‘It’) Kickstart a Glorious Stephen King Movie Renaissance

gerald's game

It’s a hell of a year for Stephen King fans. We’ve seen not one, not two, but three supposedly unfilmable Stephen King movies released: The Dark Tower, It and Gerald’s Game. And, remarkably, only The Dark Tower has proven to have earned that unfilmable reputation.

The trick to nailing a Stephen King adaptation is to create multi-faceted, interesting characters. That is the horror author’s greatest strength. The scary stuff only works because you care about these fictional people. They feel real to you. When I read It at an admittedly way too young age, I viewed every member of The Losers Club as my friend. The recent film adaption takes many liberties, but man does it perfectly capture those characters.

And now, two new Stephen King adaptations, Gerald’s Game and 1922 (both of which were produced by Netflix) continue this trend. King, despite his reputation as a horror writer, is all about character. Welcome to the Stephen King Movie Renaissance – not even The Dark Tower can mute the success of these other adaptations.

It’s About Character, Damn It!

All the best King movies have iconic, fleshed out characters. Carrie, The Shining (yes, I’ll stand against King himself on the merits of that adaptation), The Dead Zone, Stand By Me, The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Mist, Misery and Dolores Claiborne all jump to mind.

The Dark Tower failed on many levels, but the topmost reason it did not work as an adaptation is that couldn’t translate King’s richest, most well-developed characters to anything but broad caricatures on screen. Sure, the story was too weird for modern audiences, but the big secret is that even the most average movie-goer will roll with anything as long as they care about the characters up on the screen.

You can’t get any more convoluted and mythological than The Lord of the Rings, but when you give a crap about Frodo and his fellowship suddenly, you don’t blink an eye about a giant flame demon brandishing a fire whip.

gerald's game stephen king

Gerald’s Game, the Impossible Novel

Director and co-writer Mike Flanagan understood this and that’s why Gerald’s Game, a story that mostly takes place in a single location about a woman handcuffed to a bed with no one to talk to but herself, a wild dog and a creepy disfigured apparition that might or might not be a figment of her imagination, works so well.

It helps that Flanagan cast wonderful actors like Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood in the two biggest roles. Jessie Burlingame is a tough character. She has to be vulnerable, strong, helpless, determined, terrified and MacGuyver-smart all at the same time. Gugino expertly flips back and forth between panic attacks and a calm, realist approach to her rather unique and life-threatening situation in a way that feels so authentic that you instantly buy her as a real, complex character.

If you’re not familiar with the story, Jessie and her husband Gerald (Greenwood) go to a secluded lake house for a romantic excursion. Their relationship has grown stale and their love life is in jeopardy, so they decide to spice things up with a little minor bondage. Gerald takes things a little too far, then drops dead of a heart attack, leaving his poor wife handcuffed to the bed in a remote house with no possibility of rescue.

Flanagan and his co-writer Jeff Howard found a rather interesting way to keep a story that takes place largely inside the mind of a character that can’t really move visually interesting, which is no small feat in and of itself. Instead of the voices in Jessie’s mind being disembodied, Flanagan gives them human form. When she projects the insecurities she associates with her husband, it is Bruce Greenwood pacing around the room engaging her in conversation. When she’s having a weak moment, her strong inner voice is Jessie herself, free of the cuffs, healthy and filled with encouraged determination.

Combine that with a quick pace, a dynamic visual style and some career-best performances and suddenly this impossible-to-adapt story seems very possible. It just took a studio like Netflix to trust a smart, burgeoning genre filmmaker like Flanagan.

Gerald's Game trailer

With the characters on-point, the only thing Flanagan had to make sure worked 100% was the subtext of the movie. On the surface, Gerald’s Game mostly resembles Misery, with its protagonist stuck in bed the whole the time, but it’s much more of a companion piece to Dolores Claiborne thematically. There are obvious parallels (both stories feature eclipses and sexual assault), but on a deeper level, both stories are about how buried secrets never stay buried. These secrets and rot you from the inside and have ripple effects that change your life without you being aware of it.

In Gerald’s Game, so much about Jessie’s determination to survive is rooted in her own healing. She has to face these secrets and if she does so, she’ll find the key to her salvation. Flanagan clearly knows this. He uses subtle visual imagery to signal this deeper meaning (keep an eye on the sky in the final shot) while not forgetting to make the movie a fun time.

The film isn’t perfect. The pacing is so quick that you don’t get the same sense of impending dread and doom for Jessie that you do in the book. That means the resolution seems a little unearned and anti-climactic and there’s a coda that so neatly wraps up everything up in such a dialogue-heavy way that it all comes across as lazy compared to what came before.

Despite that stumble at the end, I still found Gerald’s Game to be incredibly involving and squirm-inducing. There was one moment in particular that I am so glad I got to experience with an audience. That’s the one downside of Netflix making everything these days: you don’t get that communal experience of seeing something scary or funny or intense with an audience. Watching my entire row try to twist out of their seats during one particularly horrifying moment and hearing the wave of vocal reactions from the packed theater made this an experience far beyond what I could have gotten at home.

But Netflix has the money and the corporate will to finance things most studios will not, so they will continue to draw in interesting filmmakers wanting to make interesting projects. Quite frankly, it’s hard to imagine Gerald’s Game getting made anywhere else in 2017.

Continue Reading Welcome to the Stephen King Movie Renaissance >>

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Third Trailer for Animated Movie ‘Ferdinand’ with Voice of John Cena

Ferdinand Trailer

“Don’t judge a bull by its cover.” 20th Century Fox and Blue Sky Studios have debuted yet another trailer, the third official trailer, for the animated film Ferdinand, about a bull raised by a family in Spain and taken to be a fighter, who really prefers to smell flowers instead of battle against matadors. This trailer is all about the cast and the announcement that Nick Jonas has recorded a song for the film. John Cena voices Ferdinand the bull, which might be one of the best voice choices all year. The rest of the voice cast includes Kate McKinnon, Gina Rodriguez, Daveed Diggs, Gabriel Iglesias, Bobby Cannavale, David Tennant, Anthony Anderson, Flula Borg, Jerrod Carmichael, Boris Kodjoe, and Raúl Esparza. This does look quite charming and most of all, it seems to have an important message we can all learn from. ›››

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Cool Stuff: Cinera Headset Straps an HD Movie Theater Experience to Your Face

Cinera

Movie theater attendance has become a problem in recent years due to high ticket prices, poor customer service experiences, and a wealth of entertainment choices from various subscription streaming services. While companies like MoviePass are trying to increase attendance with their own movie ticket subscription plan, one company is trying to make the home theater experience even more enticing.

Cinera started out as a Kickstarter pipe dream to bring a high-definition movie theater experience into your home by way of a headset that uses dual-screen high-resolution technology to put movies right in your face. Now the product is ready to be ordered and shipped this December. But is this a new piece of home theater tech that’s worth the money?

Here’s the official Cinera headset pitch video from the device’s Kickstarter page that launched in July:

The company hit their initial $ 50,000 goal and then made over five times more that before all was said and done, but that’s mostly because their early pledge levels all include the device in question for 50% of what it will cost when it starts selling to the general public. Now the pledge levels that are leftover offer the Cinera at a 42% discount, which still isn’t a bad price.

Cinera seems like a good idea in theory, but it doesn’t seem like the most sleek way to bring such a high-definition movie theater experience into your home. Sure, it’s convenient and significantly cheaper than building a sophisticated home theater, it doesn’t exactly look like the most comfortable or desirable viewing experience.

First, there’s no indication as to how much the headset itself weighs. Wearing a device like that on your head for an extended period of time can be cumbersome and bad for your neck. That’s exactly why they created the burden free arm which takes on the weight for you. But that hardly looks like the best solution. Though it looks easy to move, attaching to the edges of tables, counters etc., I feel like it’s not convenient for a comfortable movie-watching experience, especially for those who shift constantly on the couch.

Secondly, if you’re using the arm, it doesn’t look all the easy to keep your face in the proper position to get the best viewing experience from the headset. Does your face always have to be pressed firmly against the headset or is there some wiggle room for you to sit in a more relaxed way and still get the full effect?

Besides those concerns, Cinera seems like a promising device. The fact that you can utilize popular apps like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, Amazon Prime and more with the device makes it particularly enticing. It’s not clear how convenient it is to actually hook the device up to your Blu-Ray and DVD players or other external entertainment devices, but that function makes it rather appealing, especially when it comes to playing video games on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.

If you want even more in-depth details about Cinera, check out their full Kickstarter page over here.

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Indie Film Giant Cassian Elwes to Filmmakers: ‘Make the Movie the Way You Want to Make It’

Veteran film producer Cassian Elwes of ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ and ‘Mudbound’ dropped some knowledge at TIFF 2017.

Cassian Elwes is no stranger to the indie film business. In addition to producing over 50 films, he also spent fifteen years as head of William Morris Independent putting together financing deals for independent films. When Elwes began his producing career in 1983 with his first film, Oxford Blues, the theatrical box office was very much alive and well (and for more than just blockbusters).

But it’s 2017, and today, making films is very different than it was 34 years ago (for one thing, film itself is becoming an increasingly rare feature of filmmaking). Still, Elwes is confident in the future of film, and especially indie film, while acknowledging that these movies will take different routes to the audience than they did before. Here are some of Elwes’ most interesting thoughts on the independent film industry and his predictions for its future from his recent presentation at TIFF 2017.

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‘The Florida Project’ Might Be The Best Movie of the Year [TIFF]

The Florida Project Review

The Magic Kingdom colors almost every scene of The Florida Project. Sean Baker’s achingly beautiful and heartbreaking new film is set in Florida (obviously), very close to Disney, and nearly everything in the background advertises the The Most Magical Place On Earth. Tourist trap stores with huge painted signs advertising Disney merch constantly lurk in the periphery.

But the characters in The Florida Project occupy their own kingdom, one comprised of rundown motels and abandoned buildings. These might seem like squalid conditions, but Baker finds a way to make them seem warm and welcoming without ever trying to glamorize them. The sunsets are fierce and gorgeous, lush pinks and reds and golds, vast and seeming to stretch on for infinity. They feel like home.

Read on for The Florida Project review.

At the center of The Florida Project is Moonee (Brooklynn Prince, astoundingly good here), an adventurous child who rules over the kingdom that is the motel she lives in with her struggling mother Halley (Bria Vinaite). By day, Moonee frolics wildly through the motel courtyard and beyond with her friends Scooty (Christopher Rivera) and Jancey (Valeria Cotto). Whenever films deal with children as the primary characters they run the risk of treating the kids too precociously, or worse, portraying the children as mini-adults. The Florida Project never makes this mistake — the kids here always seem like kids. They’re occasionally bratty, occasionally cruel, but altogether good. They find adventure and fun wherever they can, and it’s often a joy to sit back and watch them act out.

Brooklyn Prince’s performance as Moonee is the glue that holds all of this together. The Florida Project plays coy with just who its main character is at first — at the start of the film, all of the kids seem to be receiving equal time. Yet as the film progresses, it becomes more and more about Moonee, and about how her world is in danger of falling apart while she remains cheerfully oblivious. I’m not sure how much of Prince’s performance as ad libbed, but all of it feels 100% genuine; the type of raw, lightning-in-a-bottle performance that actors twice her age can only dream of. An outsider might look at Moonee’s living conditions and worry, but to Moonee, every day is a wonderful adventure. There’s so much to do, and there are so many waffles to eat.

Baker keeps the camera low to the ground often, putting us firmly into the visual field of a child — we’re down there with them, and the whole adult world is looming above. That adult world includes Bobby, the kindly motel manager played by Willem Dafoe. Dafoe is an acclaimed actor with an impressive career, yet it cannot be overstated how phenomenal he is in this movie. There’s an unmitigated goodness to Bobby, a weary but kind soul who wants to do the right thing. A character like this would be easy to cheapen and turn maudlin, but Baker’s script and Dafoe’s performance never performs this disservice. It’s a quiet performance, and much of the power comes from the somewhat sad, knowing glances Dafoe gives to the world around him. But just as often there’s kindness — Bobby can grow frustrated with the kid’s shenanigans, yet he’s always willing to give them a second chance.

Moonee’s mother Halley will never be a candidate for parent of the year. She sells knock-off perfume and stolen goods to make ends meet, and when that isn’t enough, she turns to even less desirable methods. It would be easy to portray this characters as a monster; a terrible person doing terrible things. But that’s not how The Florida Project works. Halley is flawed, yes – at times almost devastatingly so. But Baker doesn’t judge her, and Vinaite’s performance – blunt and at times even abrasive – is pitch-perfect. Halley is flawed, yes, but she’s trying.

Everyone here is trying. Trying hard to get through their day to day lives; trying to find magic in a frequently unmagical kingdom. Late in the film, Moonee and Jancey are sitting on a tree having lunch. Baker keeps the camera in close on the two girls, not really giving us a good look at the tree they’re perched on. “Do you know why this is my favorite tree?” Moonee asks her friend. “Because it tipped over and it’s still growing.” At this point, Baker cuts to a wide shot, showing a huge, sprawling, toppled willow. It’s a breathtaking moment, and the line lingers, perfectly summing up the characters in the film. They may have all fallen at one point, but they’re still growing.

The final moments of The Florida Project unfold breathlessly — tension is mounting, and there’s the queasy sense that something terrible is about to happen, like a destructive storm about to break. And then Baker does something magnificent — he follows Moonee and Jancey on one last adventure before the credits roll. Is it real or is it fantasy? It doesn’t matter. It’s magic. We can all do with a bit more magic in our kingdoms.

/Film Rating: 10 out of 10

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‘Friend Request’ Trailer: Witches and Social Media Team Up for a Horror Movie

Friend Request trailer

A new horror movie with social media as an antagonist, Friend Request, is about one Facebook friend gone wrong. When I saw the trailer for Simon Verhoeven‘s R-rated horror film before 47 Meters Down, it was hard not to chuckle a little at the doom it spelled out when the lead unfriends what may be a witch on Facebook. Soon after a little laugh, I felt a bit bad once I realized the film involves suicide, but from the look of this trailer, it doesn’t seem to take that topic too seriously.

Below, watch the new Friend Request trailer

Horror movies with suicide generally don’t treat the subject with much sensitivity. After watching the first trailer for Friend Request, it felt a bit icky seeing suicide become part of what looks like a fairly run-of-the-mill horror movie. It’s not something to treat lightly, but that’s what horror movies often do.

But perhaps Verhoeven’s approach is more thoughtful than the trailers let on. The movie doesn’t come out for another three weeks, so that’ll be the time to accurately judge how the director and his two co-writers, Matthew Ballen and Philip Koch, handle the subject matter. One character in the trailer does suggest it might not have been suicide but a ritual.

It’s taken a while for their film to reach theaters in the states; it came out in Germany on January 7, 2016. Friend Request‘s domestic release was delayed for over a year. In the film, Alycia Debnam-Carey (Fear the Walking Dead) plays Laura, a college student who unfriends a lonely classmate named Marina (Liesl Ahlers). After that mistake, Marina haunts Laura on Facebook and elsewhere.

There are parts of Ingrid Goes West I find more horrifying than what’s in the trailer for Friend Request, partially because the Aubrey Plaza-led comedy is grounded in reality and genuinely interested in exploring the negative effects of social media. Whether Friend Request has anything to say, we’ll see – but the trailer makes it look like it doesn’t have much more to offer than some jump scares. There are already a few reviews online for the film indicating that’s the case, although some have praise for Verhoeven’s scares. Apparently, some of them are quite effective.

Another movie the trailer calls to mind is a fictional one: the cell phone horror movie that starred none other than Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell) referenced in the romantic comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Like the evil phone in that film, why not just toss away the computer? I’m sure that’s addressed and explained in Friend Request, but the trailer for the social media horror movie looks like it could’ve been a stupid fake movie.

Friend Request comes out two short weeks after the upcoming adaptation of Stephen King’s It, which is already receiving praise online and is on track to make a killing at the box-office, so it will most likely have big competition from Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Friend Request is just one of the many social media horror movies to come out these past few years. One of the more recent, and apparently better examples, being the Timur Bekmambetov-produced film called UnfriendedNerve is a thriller, not a horror movie, but that’s another good example of a popcorn movie using social media as a force of evil.

Friend Request opens in theaters September 22, 2017.

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See Paul Rudd’s New Ant-Man Suit – But Which Marvel Movie is it For?

New Ant-Man Suit

A few days ago, in honor of Jack Kirby’s birthday, a photo from the set of Ant-Man and the Wasp gave us our first look at Evangeline Lilly suited up as the latter of those two titular Marvel superheroes. At that point, we had yet to see Paul Rudd back in action as the superhero we last saw turn into Giant-Man in the middle of a big brawl in Captain America: Civil War before being arrested and placed in The Raft by the government. But that changes today.

Thanks to a video posted to the official Facebook page for The Avengers, we have our first look at the new Ant-Man suit that Paul Rudd will be wearing in a future film. However, because of the nature of the video itself, we’re not sure if the suit is one we’ll see in Ant-Man and the Wasp, The Avengers: Infinity War or The Avengers 4. In fact, it could be all three of those movies.

Here’s our first look at the new Ant-Man suit from The Avengers Facebook page:

First, let’s get the most important stuff out there. The video isn’t just a sneak peek behind the scenes of an upcoming Marvel Studios movie, despite the fact that Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly are suited up as Ant-Man and The Wasp, along with Zoe Saldana and Karen Gillan as Gamora and Nebula from Guardians of the Galaxy. Instead, this is a video asking for your help.

As you’ve undoubtedly heard, the recent natural disaster of Hurricane Harvey in Texas has wreaked historic havoc on the state. Governor Greg Abbot estimates that the state will be federal relief money over $ 125 billion in order to compensate for the total destruction brought by the hurricane that has seen nearly 94,000 homes damaged or destroyed, sending 32,000 people to shelters across Texas, leaving 200,000 people without power, and creating a massive shortage of water and resources. These people need your help.

Marvel Studios got together, led by Zoe Saldana, to participate in Disney’s Day of Giving for the American Red Cross to benefit Hurricane Harvey victims. To take part and support those who are feeling the impact of Hurricane Harvey, you can  call 1-855-999-GIVE to donate, go to RedCross.org and send a donation online, or text “HARVEY” to 90999 to make a $ 10 donation.

Our own Jacob Hall, who lives in Austin, Texas, has relatives who were hit really hard by the hurricane, and they can use all the help they can get. If you’d like to help Jacob’s family specifically, hit up this GoFundMe page to donate and help them out, too.

Ant-Man Suit Evolution

Comparing Ant-Man’s New and Old Suit

Now that we’ve spread the word about helping those in dire need of help, let’s get down to the nerdy stuff.

Ant-Man has a new suit, so that means we have to compare it to the old one. As you can see the new suit is more sleek than the original, but not quite as much as the one he wore in Captain America: Civil War. There re more defined edges to parts of the suit than there were in the one he wore during Civil War.

There’s now black across the chest in place of the silver, and the design even looks a little more like the face of an ant because of it. The suit also makes Ant-Man appear to have a defined six pack, though not in a ridiculous way. Plus, the new suit has lost the small, brighter reddish orange accents that the Civil War suit had as well.

What we don’t know is just how often we’re going to see this suit over the next couple years. Since the video features Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly on set with Zoe Salanda and Karen Gillan, it would be easy to assume that this is for The Avengers 4, which recently began production. But as we know, Ant-Man and the Wasp is in production down in Atlanta as well. So it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for The Avengers 4 and Ant-Man and the Wasp to be shooting at the same time, and the casts just came together for this video.

Furthermore, even though Avengers: Infinity War may be done shooting, this could be the suit that Paul Rudd wears in that movie too. We never got to see any set photos of Paul Rudd suited up as Ant-Man during the production of Infinity War. But since Ant-Man and the Wasp is coming to theaters on July 6, 2018, a couple months after Infinity War hits theaters, it would stand to reason that he’ll have the same suit across all three movies. We’ll just have to wait and see.

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