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  • Activity

    • The Russo Bros Politely Ask You To Not Be Dicks And Spoil Infinity War

      3 months ago

      ericvespe

      We are only 24 short days away from Avengers: Infinity War hitting screens all across the world and its directors have officially asked everybody to be cool and not spoil every moment of the movie via a clever note posted to social media


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      Word on the street is that we're not just talking about a surprising twist (a la Civil War). What I've heard is that there are multiple big choices made in this movie and that's why the studio isn't screening it much prior to release. No junket press see it, regular press screenings are, like, two nights before release... sometimes that's a bad sign, indicating the studio doesn't want critics to tell their readers that the movie sucks. I don't think that's the case here. I think they're genuinely wanting to preserve some of these big choices.


      Funny way of asking nicely, though. The Russos should know by now that the internet is full of dickheads and they'll delight even more at spoiling the shit out of the movie, but for the nice people out there... play it cool. At least give superhero movie fans the weekend to see the movie before blabbing all over social media at the universe-changing events that happen in this one.

    • Guillermo del Toro sets up multi-picture deal at Fox Searchlight!

      3 months ago

      ericvespe

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      It was a given that doors would open for Guillermo del Toro after The Shape of Water took home the Oscar for Best Picture (not to mention him nabbing Best Director) and it looks like the first sign of that happening is with Shape of Water's home studio.


      Fox Searchlight has struck a multi-picture deal with Guillermo del Toro for horror/sci-fi/fantasy stories that he will either write, direct, produce or some combination of all three.


      Per Deadline, the first movie out of the gate is a project he will produce called Antlers about a troubled elementary school student "with a mysterious family secret" and his relationship with his teacher. Scott Cooper will direct a script written by Nick Antosca and Henry Chaisson. 


      del Toro has always been supportive of young genre voices, having produced the first features of people like J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage) who is now wrapping up the Jurassic World sequel and Andy Muschietti (Mama) who hit a home run with his adaptation of Stephen King's IT last year.


      I'm sure we'll be getting some signature del Toro movies in this deal as well as his nurturing of young talent projects. I've still got my fingers crossed he's putting together a deal to finally make his take on HP Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness.

    • Creed II Officially Filming!

      3 months ago

      ericvespe

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      It's time to get excited for more boxing movie goodness! Creed was great, a surprisingly emotional reconnection to the world of Rocky Balboa that launched director Ryan Coogler into superstardom and really showed the world just how great Michael B. Jordan was. Let's also not forget Tessa Thompson.


      The point is the first Creed was a springboard for so many people and many of them are returning for the sequel, which has officially begun production (although I think they've been shooting for a bit already). Sadly Coogler isn't directing (that duty falls on Steven Caple Jr. this time around), but he is producing and Jordan is back as Adonis Creed, Thompson is back as well and, of course, Sly Stallone as Rocky.


      Joining them this time out is Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) and his son (Florian Munteanu). This confrontation was inevitable. Remember Ivan Drago is the one who killed Adonis' daddy, Apollo, way back in Rocky 4. 


      So, this is going to be emotionally taxing for our new lead in this franchise, not to mention for his mentor watching his protege follow in his own footsteps. 


      Rocky himself made the announcement on Instagram live from the set. 


      We don't have long to wait for this one, which sees a November 21st release date. 


    • Some Surprise MCU Characters To Appear In Captain Marvel Movie!

      3 months ago

      ericvespe

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      We all know that Captain Marvel has been filming, but now Disney has officially announced that filming is underway. Not only that, but they released a cast list with some surprising names on it.


      Remember that Captain Marvel will take place in the '90s, so some of these now deceased people were still very much alive and kicking. Yes, we knew Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury was going to be involved, so it shouldn't be much of a shock that Clark Gregg's Agent Coulson is also around. What is interesting is that Guardians of the Galaxy's bad guy, Lee Pace, and bounty hunter dude Korath (Djimon Hounsou) is in the cast list. 


      That definitely tips its hat to the cosmic side of the MCU playing a significant role in the film. Comic fans know that Carol Danvers' powers originate from the cosmos, so it makes sense, but it is still a nice surprise to see some Guardians crossover.


      I'm sure there are a ton more little surprises and Easter eggs to discover in the film. Very much looking forward to seeing what they give us with this one and just how majorly it impacts the MCU. I'm guessing it'll change just about everything. That's what happens when you introduce villains like The Skrulls. 

    • A Quiet Place Producers Discuss How They Made The Movie So Scary And What Part The Ninja Turtles Played In It!

      3 months ago

      ericvespe

      Hey, guys. While on the ground at SXSW I did a few print interviews with some filmmakers. I ran a story last Friday about the behind the scenes goings-on with the Friday the 13th films. If you didn't see it, don't worry! All the interesting quotes I ran from Platinum Dunes producers Brad Fuller and Andrew Form are below


      Platinum Dunes, Michael Bay's company, produced A Quiet Place, which was the opening night film of SXSW and also happens to be a kickass, intense, scary as shit emotional rollercoaster directed by John Krasinski and starring Emily Blunt.


      The film focuses on a small family who have adapted to live as quietly as possible after the world is overrun by deadly creatures that are blind, but hear so well that any loud sound means certain death.


      I took the opportunity to grill the producers about how they brought the impressive cast together, how they executed such a menacing creature, why that creature owes a huge debt to the Ninja Turtles and, yes, all the info they could give me about the State of the Friday the 13th Union.


      Enjoy the read!



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      Eric Vespe: Can you guys help me understand why we're not three movies deep in the new run of Friday the 13th movies? Your reboot was good and it made a ton of money. Can you explain what's going on with the franchise?


      Andrew Form: It's so sad. I'm sure the world knows, but we were four weeks from filming in Atlanta with Breck Eisner. We were there and the movie got shut down.


      Brad Fuller: We never got a clear answer from Paramount as to why that movie got shut down. I think at the end of the day that administration, which is no longer there, didn't see horror as a viable part of what they were doing. Also they were coming off of Rings and that didn't help.


      For studio heads who are not fans of horror there's not a tremendous amount of glory in it other than the financial. A lot of these studios want to make big movies with big movie stars and that administration could never get excited about it.


      I think the rights now have reverted back to New Line.


      Andrew Form: Or Victor Miller.


      Brad Fuller: There's a Victor Miller element, too. There's a lawsuit with Victor Miller. I don't know anything about that, but I'll say to you, I'll say to anyone we would love nothing more than to make another Friday the 13th movie.


      Andrew Form: We were right there. We had Crystal Lake. We had the camp. The location was amazing.


      Brad Fuller: It was such a bummer.


      Eric Vespe: Were you bringing Derek Mears back as Jason?

      Andrew Form: No, because we were going way back. We were going to the '70s.


      Brad Fuller: We would have put Derek in the movie (somewhere) anyway because we love him so much.


      Eric Vespe: He's one of the nicest dudes I've ever met.


      Andrew Form: Aaron Guzikowski wrote such a great script. It was what we thought the community would really want. It was such a bummer when that one didn't go.


      Eric Vespe: It seems to me like it's a no-brainer. There's a reason why they pumped one out every year in the '80s. They were printing money.


      Andrew Form: And now you see the hype coming out with the new Halloween movie. I think everybody's now going “Oh, my God. Why didn't we make that new Friday the 13th movie?” The Stephen King movies are getting hot, the IP is still strong, R-rated horror is what's happening. I mean, look at IT being over $700 million worldwide. Right now it's not happening, but we just hope one day that we can get the call that says the rights are figured out, let's go make Friday.



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      Eric Vespe: So it really is just a question of rights at this point?


      Brad Fuller: That's all it is.


      Andrew Form: I believe if the rights were clear we'd be shooting the movie.


      Brad Fuller: We would have shot the movie!


      Eric Vespe: Not to make this all about Friday the 13th, but...


      Andrew Form: No, listen, we'll talk about Friday the 13th all day!


      Eric Vespe: (laughs) The beauty of the Friday the 13th series is that all the audience wants from it is fun. That allows for so much freedom in being able to make something without it being crazy expensive.


      Brad Fuller: And we're just the guys to do that!


      Andrew Form: We had so much fun making the last one!


      Brad Fuller: We're not keeping anything from you. This is the first conversation we've had about Friday the 13th in months and when we do talk about it we get sad and we start to cry.


      Andrew Form: But you know, as more and more horror movies work, and Paramount's loving A Quiet Place right now, we're going to keep pushing to get Friday the 13th back. We have to. For us going to Crystal Lake would be so much fun.


      Brad Fuller: We just don't know who's going to make the movie.


      Andrew Form: Is it Warner Bros? Is it Paramount?


      Brad Fuller: It's a complicated jumble, but I have looked into it. I think it's New Line. The rights have expired, or they expire next month, and they revert back to New Line, I think.


      Andrew Form: But there's still an issue with the Victor Miller lawsuit.


      Brad Fuller: Right, and I don't think anyone will touch it until that gets figured out.


      Andrew Form: Yeah, that has to get figured out. It's just too hard with that litigation out there.

      Brad Fuller: Looming litigation does not help movies get made. (laughs)


      Andrew Form: No, it sure doesn't. Not big, high profile IP.


      Eric Vespe: So, on to a happier subject... A Quiet Place! What's so impressive to me about the movie is it has an indie sensibility... it's not afraid to be silent or express dialogue through sign language for three quarters of the film, if not more, but it delivers in a very commercial way. Some of these kinds of genre movies will stay small and have the emotion, but not the payoff, but you were able to have the best of both worlds with this one. I would assume some of your job as producers here was to preserve that balance.


      Brad Fuller: I don't think you can delineate in this movie what the specific roles were. Like, what Platinum Dunes did and what John Krasinski did... at least not in that particular way. John was always up for making a scary movie. He always wanted to make something that had people on the edge of their seat. He is such a dynamic force that we felt it was our job to simply block for him, just let him do what he did and if he needed us... and Drew was on set every day of that shoot, so I say “us” but it was really Drew. If John needed Drew, Drew was there for him. They had a brother-like relationship throughout the movie. To this minute they rely on each other and it's this wonderful collaboration between the two of them.


      Andrew Form: It really was. If he had any genre questions I was an open book for him because he knows I've been on so many of these movies. I could tell him about the mistakes we've made, what we've learned, so if he had any questions about genre I was there. Otherwise I just watched him work with these actors and act himself.


      I've never worked with an actor/director before, so it was interesting because he'd go out there and I'm alone by the monitor! I remember on day one I was like “Do you yell cut? Who yells cut?” I'd never seen that before. But, like Brad said, it was an unbelievable collaboration. It was amazing for us on this one.


      Eric Vespe: The movie's very cinematic. It doesn't feel small, but it is very intimate, which is tricky. This could be a really tricky concept to pull off. Just by the very nature of the concept of the movie there's a ton of jump scares because any sound here is a jump scare! Audiences can turn against a movie with too many jump scares because they're viewed as a cheap way to get a reaction.


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      Andrew Form: And, by the way, we did everything we could to avoid that. We've been in this game for a long time. We know what it's like to have someone jump out and say “Boo!” It's a fake scare and we know how people feel about that, so we did everything we could to avoid that.


      Brad Fuller: I do feel that the jump scares that are created by a sting in this movie are a little different from all our other movies because in this movie it serves to release the pressure. It allows the audience to laugh a little bit because they're so tense and then this thing happens. You don't know if it's going to work when you're in the edit room or on the mixing stage. It was so rewarding last night to see the audience laughing, to see the pressure getting relieved in those situations.


      I want to go back to something that you said. One place that I feel that we were very helpful to John... and I can't take the credit for it... It's really thanks to Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael. Because we made those (Ninja Turtles) movies with ILM we have a great relationship with them. As great as this movie looks, the creature they made heightened it. They gave us great work and that's because of Michael (Bay)'s Transformers and our Turtles. We've done a tremendous amount of work there and we were able to come up with something and put something in the movie that I think is budgetarily almost impossible to do, if it wasn't for the Turtles and Optimus and Bumblebee.


      Andrew Form: 100%. Not on this movie. Scott Farrar was the VFX Supervisor on this movie. He did every Transformers, been nominated for many Academy Awards and he was on set working with John, figuring everything out, shooting the plates... He was an amazing collaborator with us.


      Brad Fuller: And that's what working with Bay gets us.


      Eric Vespe: I'm a big practical effects guy, but I love CG when it's done right. That creature is an example of it done right.


      Brad Fuller: The problem is the aliens we got to shoot just didn't listen, so we had to go the CG route. (laughs)


      Andrew Form: I brought my four year old to set and said “When can I meet the alien?” I said, “He's not here today.”


      Eric Vespe: I assume with a movie like this you still need a couple names to be involved to get the greenlight. I'm not sure the exact progeny of you guys casting this movie...


      Andrew Form: We can give it to you.


      Brad Fuller: It's super boring.


      Eric Vespe: Well, then maybe the quick version, then.


      Brad Fuller: It's boring because there were four names on the list and one of them was John.

      Andrew Form: John had just done 13 Hours with Michael, so he was in our family. We were prepping Jack Ryan. We bought the script and sold it to Paramount. We called John and said, “Would you do a genre film?” He said, “Yeah, of course.” We sent him the script to play the role of the dad, Lee. He called us back and said “I'll play Lee, but I want to rewrite and direct this.” An hour later, after hearing everything he wanted to do with the movie, we were like “Let's go! That's exactly the movie we wanted to make.”


      So, he signed up and started working on the script. He was our director. He flew in from New York to have a meeting at Paramount with us, to talk about the script and stuff, and while on the lot he said to us “Emily wants to be in the movie. She wants to play the wife.”


      Eric Vespe: When you hear that Emily Blunt wants to be the co-lead of your movie do you go “Okay, cool. This movie's actually going to happen now.”


      Brad Fuller: Yes. Some version of that.


      Andrew Form: He kinda snuck it up on us, too. We were just kinda walking and he was like “Oh, by the way, guys...” We were like “What?!?” And Noah Jupe was in Suburbicon and John had a relationship with George Clooney, so we looked over at him and (Millicent Simmonds) was in Todd Haynes' Wonderstruck and that was it. There was no one else we went to. It was just those four people. There were no auditions. That was it.


      Eric Vespe: Well, thanks for talking with me. Good luck with the movie!


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      A Quiet Place opens April 6th! Everybody go watch it unless you don't like good things, then you can skip it. Bring a change of pants, though. You'll need it. 

    • This is why we haven't gotten a Friday the 13th film in almost 10 years...

      3 months ago

      ericvespe

      It has been almost 10 years since we've gotten a Friday the 13th movie. That famous horror franchise was last seen onscreen during the reboot craze of the late aughts when Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes rebooted it in 2009. Fans dug the movie. Its modest sub-$20 million budget was nearly quintupled at the box office. You'd think that by now we'd be three or four Jason movies deep in this new iteration of the popular franchise.


      So, what gives?


      I was able to sit down with Platinum Dunes producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller when they came through town showing A Quiet Place, which was the opening night movie of SXSW and, being an '80s kid that grew up with Jason Voorhees, I couldn't help but ask them to wade through the complicated legal tangle that is the rights situation surrounding this particular series.


      I'm going to reprint that section of the interview here and then I'll be back to talk through a few things. Let's see what Fuller and Form have to say:



      Premiere+Warner+Bros+Friday+13th+Arrival




      Eric Vespe: Can you guys help me understand why we're not three movies deep in the new run of Friday the 13th movies? Your reboot was good and it made a ton of money. Can you explain what's going on with the franchise?


      Andrew Form: It's so sad. I'm sure the world knows, but we were four weeks from filming in Atlanta with Breck Eisner (The Crazies). We were there and the movie got shut down.


      Brad Fuller: We never got a clear answer from Paramount as to why that movie got shut down. I think at the end of the day that administration, which is no longer there, didn't see horror as a viable part of what they were doing. Also they were coming off of Rings and that didn't help.


      For studio heads who are not fans of horror there's not a tremendous amount of glory in it other than the financial. A lot of these studios want to make big movies with big movie stars and that administration could never get excited about it. I think the rights now have reverted back to New Line.


      Andrew Form: Or Victor Miller.


      Brad Fuller: There's a Victor Miller element, too. There's a lawsuit with Victor Miller. I don't know anything about that, but I'll say to you, I'll say to anyone we would love nothing more than to make another Friday the 13th movie.


      Andrew Form: We were right there. We had Crystal Lake. We had the camp. The location was amazing.


      Brad Fuller: It was such a bummer.


      Eric Vespe: Were you bringing Derek Mears back as Jason?


      Andrew Form: No, because we were going way back. We were going to the '70s.


      Brad Fuller: We would have put Derek in the movie (somewhere) anyway because we love him so much.


      Eric Vespe: He's one of the nicest dudes I've ever met.


      Andrew Form: Aaron Guzikowski (Prisoners) wrote such a great script. It was what we thought the community would really want. It was such a bummer when that one didn't go.


      Eric Vespe: It seems to me like it's a no-brainer. There's a reason why they pumped one out every year in the '80s. They were printing money.


      Andrew Form: And now you see the hype coming out with the new Halloween movie. I think everybody's now going “Oh, my God. Why didn't we make that new Friday the 13th movie?” The Stephen King movies are getting hot, the IP is still strong, R-rated horror is what's happening. I mean, look at IT being over $700 million worldwide. Right now it's not happening, but we just hope one day that we can get the call that says the rights are figured out, let's go make Friday.


      Eric Vespe: So it really is just a question of rights at this point?


      Brad Fuller: That's all it is.


      Andrew Form: I believe if the rights were clear we'd be shooting the movie.


      Brad Fuller: We would have shot the movie!


      Eric Vespe: Not to make this all about Friday the 13th, but...


      Andrew Form: No, listen, we'll talk about Friday the 13th all day!


      Eric Vespe: (laughs) The beauty of the Friday the 13th series is that all the audience wants from it is fun. That allows for so much freedom in being able to make something without it being crazy expensive.


      Brad Fuller: And we're just the guys to do that!


      Andrew Form: We had so much fun making the last one!


      Brad Fuller: We're not keeping anything from you. This is the first conversation we've had about Friday the 13th in months and when we do talk about it we get sad and we start to cry.


      Andrew Form: But you know, as more and more horror movies work, and Paramount's loving A Quiet Place right now, we're going to keep pushing to get Friday the 13th back. We have to. For us going to Crystal Lake would be so much fun.


      Brad Fuller: We just don't know who's going to make the movie.


      Andrew Form: Is it Warner Bros? Is it Paramount?


      Brad Fuller: It's a complicated jumble, but I have looked into it. I think it's New Line. The rights have expired, or they expire next month, and they revert back to New Line, I think.


      Andrew Form: But there's still an issue with the Victor Miller lawsuit.


      Brad Fuller: Right, and I don't think anyone will touch it until that gets figured out.


      Andrew Form: Yeah, that has to get figured out. It's just too hard with that litigation out there.


      Brad Fuller: Looming litigation does not help movies get made. (laughs)


      Andrew Form: No, it sure doesn't. Not big, high profile IP.



      Friday-the-13th.jpg




      Let's examine what they said. The short answer is there's a rights confusion compounded with a looming lawsuit by Victor Miller, who wrote the very first Friday the 13th and has a story by credit alongside Sean S. Cunningham.


      The rights issue is understandable. Friday the 13th started at Paramount, but then New Line bought the rights when interest in Jason Voorhees was waning. They took over the franchise with Jason Goes To Hell, tried the parody route with Jason X (aka Jason in Space) and then nothing until Freddy Vs. Jason finally made it to screen.


      Paramount got involved again with the 2009 remake, sharing a presenting credit with New Line, and, as the producers say above, it looks like New Line is about to get full rights back, most likely because Paramount hasn't done anything with the franchise.


      That leaves the Victor Miller lawsuit. Miller is suing for the ability to terminate and grant rights to further movies using a provision of the copyright law that allows original authors such power over their stories and characters. The only problem with that is the current rights holders say Miller was “work for hire” which means that provision does not apply to him.


      No studio, even with a clear chain of title, will move forward with a new Friday the 13th movie if it's possible this lawsuit could mean the resulting film doesn't see release. Why take the risk and pay for a movie only to have it sit on a shelf should Miller win his lawsuit?


      I've also been hearing that so many of the still valid deals involving any future Friday movies have tons of strings attached, that people like Sean Cunningham and Michael Bay get a significant cut of all profits whether they are directly involved or not, which is another deterrent for studios to invest money into something knowing they have to hit an even bigger benchmark to break even.


      At the end of the day, if it becomes clear who is legally in control of this property it'll all come down to math. These movies are cheap to make and are wildly popular. If the studios can make money on them they will, but hopefully this gives you an idea of why these films aren't happening.



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      Keep an eye out early next week for my full interview with Form and Fuller which also covers how they helped John Krasinski bring the legitimately scary and awesome A Quiet Place to the big screen!

    • Chris Evans confirms he's hanging up Cap's shield after Avengers 4

      3 months ago

      ericvespe

      It's a sad day for fans of the MCU. We all knew that Chris Evans' multi-picture contract was up after these next two Avengers movies, but there was hope that Disney would back up the money truck to his front door and he'd renegotiate for another deal.


      Sadly it seems like Evans is ready to walk away for real. In a profile in The New York Times Evans confirms Avengers 4 will be his last outing as Captain America and the upcoming reshoots for it will be his last time strapping on the red, white and blue suit. Specifically he said it was better to "get off the train before they push you off." 



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      It is possible this is partly about negotiating his new contract in the press and we'll get a surprise announcement later on down the line, but it feels like he's serious to me. 


      He's been experimenting with different things lately, from directing to appearing on Broadway, so it's never really felt like being an Avenger was all Evans had. At this point I'm sure he's rich enough to ignore the money truck as well.


      No, it feels like he's ready to go and Marvel will miss him, but I'm sure they won't miss the millions per picture they'd have to pay to keep him around. 


      Plus, this is a comic book series after all. Even if they kill him off in the fight against Thanos we can always see him popping up in 5 years as a surprise return. Steve Rogers Returns! would be a pretty epic MCU gotcha moment.


      I guess we'll see how all this plays out in the two-parter Avengers flicks. It's a safe bet either Bucky or Falcon will take up the shield no matter how Cap decides to bow out. It won't be the same, but I'd rather see Evans walk away on his own terms than start phoning it in, miserable that he's still tied to a character he doesn't want to play anymore. Cap's greatest strength is his big ol' heart, after all. Without that he's just a dope in a patriotic suit.

    • The newest Deadpool 2 trailer is filled with vulgarity, decapitations and our first real look at X-Force!

      3 months ago

      ericvespe

      The Deadpool 2 marketing has been killing it and this latest trailer is no exception. There are so many great things to spot, the fourth wall is broken multiple times and we get a surprising amount of footage and info about the forming of X-Force.


      I had no idea Bill "Pennywise" Skarsgard was in the group before now, but the fact that Terry Crews is in this universe makes me smile so, so, so much. I can't wait to see him interact with Ryan Reynolds. 


      Anyway, kids put on your earmuffs... the rest of you enjoy this gleefully R-rated Deadpool 2 trailer! 




    • SXSW Review: Bad News Bears-ish Drama ALL SQUARE Is One of the Festival's Biggest Pleasant Surprises

      3 months ago

      ericvespe

      Hey, everybody. I have a few more SXSW reviews I wanted to get out there before all the details fade from memory (I am very old). One of the more pleasant surprises of the fest was a little indie called All Square.



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      I swear to God I couldn't remember that title for the life of me. People would ask me what I was looking forward to and I'd be like “All... In? All That? Fuck, what's that Michael Kelly movie called?” All Square might not be the most memorable title, but it's apt for a movie about a small town bookie who bonds with a little leaguer and then figures out he can make a fortune taking bets on his games.


      What's great about this set up, beyond the obvious Bad News Bears comparisons, is that it gives a fantastic character actor the chance to lead a picture. This was a lot more common in the artistic studio system of the 1970s, but very rarely happens these days. For instance, how many movies does Steve Buscemi get to star in?


      The great character actor here is a dude named Michael Kelly. You probably know him best as Kevin Spacey's righthand man, Doug Stamper, in House of Cards. His character here is a nice guy bookie in a tiny town who's barely able to scrape by, mostly because he refuses to strong arm the people who owe him money. He takes his sports betting seriously, but he's stuck. This isn't his passion, it's something he inherited from his cantankerous father (Harris Yulin, another great character actor who you might remember as the Judge in Ghostbusters II) and suddenly he turns around and he's deep in middle age.


      After hooking up with an old high school girlfriend he finds himself in the company of her young son, Brian, played by Jesse Ray Sheps and is just as shocked as we are that he actually bonds with this kid. He's still a gruff asshole who is in no way a great role model, but there's a connection there.


      Some of it has to do with his personal history with baseball. Before Kelly became a bookie his passion was baseball. He had a hell of an arm and now he sees this kid struggling in the local little league and can't help but want to give the kid a few pointers.


      While doing this positive thing he notices that there's an untapped betting market at these little league games and figures, correctly, that parents will bet with their hearts, not their heads, laying money on their kids no matter how shitty they are at the game.


      The movie works because of the relationship between Kelly and Sheps. I wish there was a little more of them together (it takes a little while to get them together), but that's a small complaint for a movie as charming and well-made as this one.


      All Square is the kind of movie I go to film festivals to find. I doubt this one would have appeared on my radar if I wasn't combing through the festival schedule and bingo, it turns out to be right up my alley.


      Interesting sidenote: This is produced by Lisa Simpson herself, Ms. Yeardley Smith, who also pops up in a cameo part. It's always a pleasure to see her face in a movie, but that could be my irrational love of Stephen King's bizarre '80s trash gem Maximum Overdrive showing.


      I'm not sure if All Square has distribution yet, but I hope it finds a good home soon. It's a damn good movie.

    • SXSW Review: Blockers - A Surprisingly Progressive Teen Sex Comedy

      3 months ago

      ericvespe

      Crazy Universal comedies have become a cornerstone of SXSW. They've premiered a ton of Apatow stuff, sometimes in rough cut form, like Neighbors and Trainwreck and non-Apatow goodness like MacGruber, which is still one of my personal all-time favorites. It's expected now and this year was no different.


      The palette cleansing big studio broad comedy on offer this year was Blockers, an atypical take on the “losing our virginity pact” type teen sex romp that focuses on the parents of the kids doing everything in their power to keep their daughters from giving it up on prom night.



      Blockers-movie-poster.jpg



      If that sounds like it could be awfully misogynistic... well, you're not wrong. On paper that could be the most unwoke premise ever, but this film does something very interesting: it's told from a female point of view. Both the parent and teenager plotlines are female-centric. Leslie Mann leads the parents and all the teenagers are young women in full control of their first sexual experiences. It helps that the director is Kay Cannon so you don't get a dude in there fetishizing the young women or making their partners gross. Every sexual encounter in the movie is actually incredibly respectful, which is something I didn't expect. The boyfriends aren't creepy horndog bros, but actual partners. Yes, they're excited to have sex, but they're never pushy or manipulative.


      Once the parents catch wind of their daughters' plan they do everything they can to stop them. Smartly the writers give each parent a different reason beyond “I gotta protect my little girl's innocence!” For Leslie Mann this represents a final move into adulthood that takes her little girl away from her forever. For John Cena there's a mixture of seeing this as a reckless decision that could impact his daughter's training and the fact that he just straight up hates her stoner boyfriend. For Ike Barinholtz he's trying to stop his (obviously) closeted gay daughter from bowing to peer pressure and having her first sexual encounter be with a boy she's not attracted to.


      It's a very progressive movie... in which John Cena chugs a beer with his asshole. 



      blockers.jpg


      I have to admire that mixture of wokeness and absurdity even if the movie itself is pretty uneven. All the characters are enjoyable and I dig the set up, so I'd definitely recommend catching this at a matinee or, at the very least, when it hits streaming services, but it's not one you have to rush out and see.


      Although I will say that John Cena continues to prove that he's got a knack for comedy. He's such a big, goofy lughead in this movie and he plays that for all its worth. Barinholtz is also very strong, playing his crass dummy persona with a surprising amount of heart. Mann is always great to watch onscreen and she's on point here. Also watch out for a funny, if all too brief, turn from Hannibal Buress.


      Outside of the refreshingly progressive foundation it's a pretty by the numbers R-rated comedy. Blockers is never boring, thanks mostly to the earnestness of all the actors involved, but you've seen this movie before and it hits all the notes you expect. Although unlike most R-rated comedies you don't get gratuitous Gary Cole schlong, so there is that.


      So, yeah. This one should surprise you, even if it doesn't blow your hair back. The plot is well worn, but the point of view is fresh. I'd love to see this level of thought and inclusiveness become the norm in all of cinema, even the dick and fart joke comedies. Especially in the dick and fart joke comedies.  

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