A Portrait of Hal Ashby, the Fabled ’70s Director – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


In the seven landmark movies he made during the ’70s, from his very first feature, 1970’s “The Landlord” (way ahead of the curve in its post-bleeding-heart racial awareness), up through 1979’s “Being There” (way ahead of the curve in its dryly amused satirical image politics), with the New Hollywood classics “The Last Detail” (1973) and “Shampoo” (1975) coming in between, the director Hal Ashby had an entrancingly shaggy, inquiring, no-fuss style that always revealed the most vulnerable and moonstruck qualities of the characters he showed us. By the time an Ashby movie was over, you knew every last facet and hidden beauty wart of the people on-screen. Their daydreams fused with ours.

So it would seem only fitting if “Hal,” a documentary portrait of Ashby, rustled up a certain stubborn intimacy to reveal who this intensely revered and softly mysterious filmmaker really was. Anyone drawn to the subject will probably go into “Hal” knowing certain basic things about Hal Ashby: that he broke into the business by working, for years, as a film editor; that he looked like a furtively angelic hippie biker in his long stringy hair and even longer scraggly white-blond beard; that he had substance-abuse issues; that he died, in 1988, when he was just 59; and that up until he lost his mojo, after “Being There,” he imparted a fresh glancing humanity to everything he touched.

You come out of “Hal” knowing a little more than that, but maybe not as much as you wanted to know. Ashby’s personal life is mostly left off the table, even though he was an aggressive womanizer who was married five times. He routinely went to war with studio executives and relished the battles, yet the place he occupied in the political arena of Hollywood society remains something of a blank. The director, Amy Scott, is a film editor herself, and she’s content, in just 84 minutes, to cobble together an anecdotal, behind-the-scenes film-by-film breakdown of Ashby’s career, narrated by Ashby himself, who is heard on audiotapes and in letters, mostly grousing about them ­— i.e, the meddling suits he considered his earthly nemesis.

“Hal” has a once-over-lightly quality, but at times it offers a telling window into how the New Hollywood worked. We first see Ashby bounding up to the podium at the 1968 Academy Awards, looking surprisingly straight — at least, next to the image he would project only a couple of years later — in coiffed hair, a trimmed goatee, and a square-meets-groovy white turtleneck. Yet in his acceptance speech for best editing (for “In the Heat of the Night,” directed by his friend and mentor Norman Jewison), instead of the usual roster of thank yous Ashby offers a message of love — a sign that even as he approached 40, he’d been baptized in the new youth culture. As an editor, cutting a movie was often literally all he did, closeting himself in the editing room for months at a time, sleeping there, obsessing over the pieces of film he had hanging everywhere. But he always wanted to direct, and when he got the chance it meant letting the sunshine in.

“The Landlord,” as tough and soulful as it was, came and went, but Ashby gave his career a jump-start by making one of his most beloved films, and also his most uncharacteristic: the ghoulishly prankish sentimental black comedy “Harold and Maude” (1971). I always had mixed feelings about its slightly smug romantic absurdism, but there’s no denying that Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon (and Cat Stevens) were a match made in cult-movie heaven. We see footage of Cort at Ashby’s memorial, evoking how special Ashby made him feel on the set. He was the anti-Kubrick, treating each actor as the center of the universe.

If “Harold and Maude” was a burlesque ’70s artifact, it was “The Last Detail” that established Ashby as a major voice. If you watch it now, it’s almost shocking how naturalistically it rolls by. We hear testimony from Robert Towne, the fabled screenwriter who was really a nobody, doing uncredited rewrites, up until he wrote “The Last Detail,” talking about how he and Ashby fought to keep in all the profanity that poured out of Jack Nicholson’s “Badass” Buddusky. In so many ways, that’s how the films of the ’70s came into being — one dogged pushback and maverick whim at a time.

Yet Ashby was modest, the kind of invisible great filmmaker who served the material. That was certainly the case with “Shampoo,” since it was Warren Beatty’s vision to make a confessional comedy about the life of a SoCal Don Juan. It was Ashby, working with Towne again, who deepened a soap-opera caper by coaxing out the Watergate subtext, posing the libidinous wanderings of Beatty’s hairdresser against a spangly backdrop of American hypocrisy.

“Hal” sketches in the creative mechanism behind other triumphs, from the majestic dustbowl image poetry of “Bound for Glory” to the way that Ashby used improvisation to bring out Jon Voight’s most emotionally naked performance in “Coming Home” (the actor’s one last tinge of greatness after “Midnight Cowboy”). The glory of “Being There,” which Judd Apatow hails as his idea of a perfect film, is that Ashby staged a comedy as if it were the stateliest of dramas: You laugh at Peter Sellers’ Zen idiot Chauncey Gardner, but mostly you stare at him with a kind of smiling wonder. That, however, was the last time that Ashby connected with an audience.

There was a reason for that. In the ’80s, Ashby made trivial bad movies — “Second Hand Hearts,” “Lookin’ to Get Out,” “The Slugger’s Wife” — because he was still fighting the studios. He didn’t understand that the battle was over; the suits had won. There was little place left for Ashby’s humanism-on-the-fly, though Jeff Bridges’ portrait of a detective who suffers alcoholic blackouts, in “8 Million Ways to Die” (1986), remains the last thing on film that had an Ashby-esque essence. Ashby died, of pancreatic cancer, in 1988, and here’s a hindsight prediction: Had he lived longer and seen the rise of the American independent film revolution, he would have become part of it. As much as any director who ever lived, he was its stirringly empathetic and plainspoken godfather.



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Joe Kennedy Will Give Democratic Response – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


WASHINGTON — Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.) will highlight American division and discord on issues like immigration and the economy in the Democratic response to President Trump’s State of the Union address.

“It would be easy to dismiss the past year as chaos. Partisanship. Politics. But it’s far bigger than that.  This administration isn’t just targeting the laws that protect us. They are targeting the very idea that we are all worthy of protection,” Kennedy plans to say, according to excerpt released early on Tuesday evening.

The excerpts indicate that he will be delivering his speech from Fall River, Mass., as he refers to it as a “proud American city, built by immigrants.”

“Like many American hometowns, Fall River has faced its share of storms. But people here are tough. They fight for each other. They pull for their city,” according to the excerpts.

He plans to continue, “It is a fitting place to gather as our nation reflects on the state of our union. This is a difficult task. Many have spent the past year anxious, angry, afraid. We all feel the fault lines of a fractured country. We hear the voices of Americans who feel forgotten and forsaken.”

He will emphasize economic concerns, particularly as Democrats hope to reclaim the support of a wider berth of working- and middle-class voters in this year’s elections.

“We choose the living wage, paid leave, and affordable child care your family needs to survive,” Kennedy plans to say. “We choose pensions that are solvent, trade pacts that are fair, roads and bridges that won’t rust away, and good education you can afford. We choose a health care system that offers mercy, whether you suffer from cancer or depression or addiction. We choose an economy strong enough to boast record stock prices and brave enough to admit that top CEOs making 300 times the average worker is not right.”

He also will refer to Trump’s behavior, saying in the speech, “Bullies may land a punch. They might leave a mark. But they have never, not once, in the history of our United States, managed to match the strength and spirit of a people united in defense of their future.”

Kennedy is the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy.



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CBS-Viacom Merger Would Feel Like a Shotgun Wedding – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


America’s favorite on-again, off-again relationship might be back on.

No, not Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez; CBS Corp. and Viacom. The companies’s CEOs held an informal talk last week about a potential merger with the expectation that their respective boards will tackle it in greater depth soon enough.

We’ve watched these two companies play footsy with each other for so long that their dynamic has taken on that classic will-they-or-won’t-they? formula from your favorite romantic comedy.

But there’s a plot twist this time around. Tired of flirtations that went nowhere in late 2016, National Amusements president Shari Redstone seems ready to officiate a shotgun wedding. With controlling stakes in both companies, she’s nudging CBS CEO Leslie Moonves and Viacom CEO Bob Bakish to the altar whether they like it or not.

It’s not difficult to see why Redstone has changed her tune from letting these lovebirds go their separate ways to a forced reunion. Look at pending mergers between AT&T and Time Warner, Disney and Fox, and Discovery and Scripps. Everyone in the sector is mating like rabbits to achieve the kind of scale that gives them a fighting chance against the tech world’s colossi.

But while the peer pressure to couple up is enormous, does that mean CBS and Viacom would be getting together for the right reasons? Maybe not.

Who could blame Moonves for having cold feet considering the distressed state of Viacom. While Bakish deserves credit for wiping away plenty of the dust and rust that have collected on the once-great brands in his portfolio like MTV and Nickelodeon, the sad fact is that the neglect they suffered under for too long during the Philippe Dauman era will take many more years to reverse. Had one true hit emerged from his networks or movie studio this past year, he might have bought himself more time to go it alone, but Bakish didn’t end up that lucky.

And even had he miraculously managed to pull off a quicker turnaround, that would really be besides the point. The linear-network business model that made Viacom so successful for so long seems headed for extinction. Taking on Bakish’s portfolio would dilute the double-digit growth of his beloved retransmission fees.

If Moonves is having problems with commitment, that may have something to do with the fact he’s still playing the field: Verizon, Lionsgate and Sony are just a few of the names CBS is rumored to have talked with about M&A possibilities. But Redstone is highly unlikely to OK a deal that doesn’t have Viacom attached.

But given the shortage of logic dictating a CBS-Viacom deal, it’s tempting to wonder whether such a merger shouldn’t be looked at in a vacuum but as the prelude to yet another deal that combined with another property like a Verizon doesn’t seem so ill-conceived anymore. In this consolidation-crazy era, some Voltron-esque combination of multiple conglomerates doesn’t sound as far-fetched as it once might have.

A good merger should make 1+1=3. CBS and Viacom alone feels more like 1.3.

In the direct-to-consumer world Big Media is headed, CBS has moved shrewdly and aggressively with a multi-pronged brand strategy led by CBS All Access. But what would Moonves do to energize Viacom for that same world given its heavy unscripted library isn’t built for SVOD licensing, where scripted rules, or skinny bundles, where the absence of news and sports is a huge disadvantage.

Moonves would have to reinvent how Viacom’s brands make money to truly rejuvenate them, and that’s one tough pivot to pull off.

Of course, Moonves may be willing to take on that challenge if he’s handed the reins of the combined company under deal terms that won’t make his shareholders revolt. Moonves has a ton of leverage here. He has enough credibility with Wall Street that his departure from the company could punish these stocks at a time when their combination is intended to lift them. But that doesn’t mean Redstone isn’t willing to risk going on without him, perhaps calculating that Bakish has done well enough over the past year to keep investors from freaking out if Moonves leaves.

The power struggle between him and Redstone is a delicate dance, as evidenced by last month’s Wall Street Journal report suggesting she was ready to restock CBS’s board of directors.

Playing hardball in the press may come with the M&A territory but it sends exactly the wrong message to the market considering the tortured history of boardroom shenanigans these companies share. Just when Bakish has done so much good work to stabilize Viacom, the proceedings are threatening to devolve into the kind of dysfunctional mess that marked the Dauman era.

If all parties aren’t careful, the circus atmosphere that overtook Viacom for too long will return in force and destabilize a deal they may have no choice to make despite the inherent difficulties. But this can’t be rushed because there’s a lot at risk.

After all, you can’t hurry love.



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Vice Fires Chief Digital Officer Over Harassment Allegations – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Vice has fired its Chief Digital Officer Mike Germano following an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against him, the company said in an email sent to staffers Tuesday. There’s still no word on the future of Vice president Andrew Creighton, who was suspended together with Germano in early January.

New York Times writer Emily Steel, who broke the story of the allegations against the two Vice executives back in December, was first to report on the firing on Twitter Tuesday.

Germano joined Vice in 2013 when the company acquired his digital ad agency Carrot Creative. Allegations against him reported by the New York Times included Germano allegedly telling a former staffer that he didn’t want to hire her because he wanted to have sex with her.

Following the reports on sexual misconduct, Vice co-founders Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi issued a statement that acknowledged creating a culture that fostered inappropriate behavior. “From the top down, we have failed as a company to create a safe and inclusive workplace where everyone, especially women, can feel respected and thrive,” the statement read. “Cultural elements from our past, dysfunction and mismanagement were allowed to flourish unchecked. ”

Germano was suspended in January as the company’s HR team started to work with an outside investigator to look into these allegations. At the time, Vice also suspended its president Andrew Creighton over allegations that he fired an employee in 2016 after she didn’t agree to have an affair with him. That incident led to a reported $135,000 settlement. There’s no word on Creighton’s future at the company; a Vice spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to questions Tuesday.

Germano isn’t the first Vice employee to be show the door in the wake of the #Metoo movement. In November, Vice fired three employees for HR policy violations. Among those sacked was Jason Mojica, head of Vice’s documentary films unit and former editor-in-chief of ViceNews.com.





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The Match Factory Acquires Four Berlinale Competition Titles – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


German independent powerhouse The Match Factory has acquired four movies bound for competition at the upcoming Berlin Film Festival: Christian Petzold’s “Transit,” Laura Bispuri’s “Daughter of Mine,” Philip Gröning’s My Brother’s Name Is Robert and He Is an Idiot,” and Axel Petersén and Måns Månsson’s “The Real Estate.”

The Match Factory has also acquired international sales rights to Damiano and Fabio D’Innocenzo’s “Boys Cry,” which will unspool in the Berlinale’s Panorama section.

“Transit” (pictured) tells the story of an impossible great love unfolding amid escape and exile. The film is based on Anna Seghers’ 1942 novel and stars Franz Rogowski (who was named a European Shooting Star last year) and Paula Beer, who previously starred in Francois Ozon’s “Frantz.” Petzold credits include “Barbara” and Phoenix.”

“Daughter of Mine” marks Bispuri’s follow-up to “Sworn Virgin,” which competed at Berlin in 2015. A story of imperfect motherhood and inextricable bonds, “Daughter of Mine” follows a 10-year-old girl who is torn between two mothers, one who raised her with love and her birth mother, who instinctively claims her back.

Produced by Vivo Film, Colorado Film, Bord Cadre Films and Match Factory Productions, “Daughter of Mine” stars Italian actress Alba Rohrwacher (“Hungry Hearts”) and director/actress Valeria Golino (“Miele”).

Gröning’s “My Brother’s Name Is Robert and He Is an Idiot” follows a pair of teenage twins, Robert and Elena, through the turmoil of adolescence. The Match Factory previously worked with Gröning on “The Police Officer’s Wife,” which won Venice’s Special Jury Prize in 2013. The company has also worked in the past with both Petzold and Bispuri.

“The Real Estate,” The Match Factory’s fourth title in competition, is a satirical comedy about Stockholm’s tough housing market. The film centers on 68 year-old Nojet, who inherits an apartment building in downtown Stockholm that turns out to be more of a curse than a cash cow. The filmmakers are producing the film via their newly launched outfit, FlyBridge AB.

Petersén and Månsson previously attended Berlin with “Mr. Governor,” “The Yard” and “Avalon.”

At Berlin, The Match Factory will also be presenting the D’Innocenzo brothers’s feature debut, “Boys Cry,” in the Panorama section. The movie tells the tale of youngsters Mirko and Manolo, who accidentally get involved in a hit-and-run on the outskirts of Rome. They uncover an opportunity for a prosperous underground career, but this exciting new world is unforgiving and increasingly overwhelming.

On top of its titles playing at the Berninale, The Match Factory will also screen three films at the European Film Market: Ísold Uggadóttir’s “And Breathe Normally,” which won Sundance’s world cinema dramatic directing award; Giacomo Durzi’s documentary “Ferrante Fever,” about the bestselling author Elena Ferrante; and Margarethe von Trotta’s “Forget About Nick.”



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Netflix, Rai Fiction Order Second Season of Italian Series ‘Suburra’ – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


ROME – Netflix has ordered up a second series of mob show “Suburra: Blood on Rome,” its first Italian original co-financed with Italy’s state broadcaster Rai and produced by ITV-owned shingle Cattleya.

The second series announcement comes shortly after the first 10 episodes of the show launched on the streaming giant last October in more than 190 countries, following a world premiere at the Venice Film Festival in September.

Set in contemporary Rome, where corruption runs rampant, “Suburra” is considered Italy’s answer to “Narcos” and revolves around the Vatican, the mob, and local politicos vying for control of Ostia, the seaside town just outside the Italian capital that is being developed into a gambling paradise. The first season featured plenty of color-saturated violence, intrigue, and a scene in which a high-ranking priest has a heart attack during a cocaine-fueled orgy.

Netflix said in a statement that the show would be back with “more action, drama and power play.”

The second season sees Barbara Petronio back in charge as head writer and will feature the same cast as the first, toplining Alessandro Borghi as Ostia mob boss Aureliano. While director Andrea Molaioli is back on board, Michele Placido, who directed the first two episodes of Season 1, is not. Instead, new helmer Piero Messina, a former assistant to Paolo Sorrentino, has been recruited. Messina’s first feature, Sicily-set “The Wait,” starring Juliette Binoche, made the cut for the 2015 Venice competition.

Details of when production on the second season of “Suburra” will kick off are being kept under wraps.

Netflix has another Italian original series in the works titled “Baby,” about teen prostitution in present-day Rome. It is produced by Rome-based Fabula Pictures.



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Amy Adams Recognized for On-Screen ‘Magic’ at American Cinematheque Awards – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Five-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams was feted by the American Cinematheque at its annual awards ceremony Friday night, and took the chance to remind everyone about the power of cinema to grow the imagination.

Adams was introduced by a string of A-list collaborators, headed off by her “Charlie Wilson’s War” co-star Tom Hanks, who was in a particularly playful mood.

Hanks’ introduction took the packed audience inside the Beverly Hilton Hotel ballroom along the “butt-kicking” adventure of Amy Adams’ career, going all the way from her brief stint working at Hooters to the wide-reaching Hollywood success she’s achieved today, through a “struggling actress in Hollywood montage,” which concluded with a brief Harvey Weinstein-related quip.

“Oh there, Amy is pulled into town. Oh, she’s found an apartment. Oh, she’s moving in. Oh, that couch isn’t gonna fit through the door. Oh, she’s reading the trade magazines. Oh, she’s working the telephones. Oh, she’s working on audition pieces. Oh, she’s auditioning, and auditioning, and auditioning. And oh no, she’s not gonna audition up in a hotel room,” Hanks joked, producing a loud groan from the room.

Hanks also gushed about Adams’ acting talent, referencing a scene from “Charlie Wilson’s War” to demonstrate how the actress is able to steal a scene and grasp the audience through the mere swish of her ponytail.

“There was a moment where the Steadicam was just following her down the hallway, it’s the best scene in the whole f—ing movie,” Hanks said. “She did something magical with the back of her head with her hair, she was acting with her hair. We ran it back and the next day, even the crafts guys were saying, ‘Did you see how she acted with her hair? How did she do that?’”

In her acceptance speech, Adams returned the compliments to Hanks. She explained that she spent most of her time filming “Charlie Wilson’s War” just trying not to mess up in front of him.

Replying to the famous ponytail scene, Adams revealed she has been able to do the trick for years. “I learned to do that in second grade, it’s how I thought I would get a boyfriend,” the actress said.

After responding in turn to the remaining panoply of A-list stars who had taken to the stage to recount their experiences of working with Adams, including her “Nocturnal Animals” co-stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon as well as Kristen Stewart, Natalie Portman, Justin Timberlake, Chris Messina, and “Arrival” director Denis Villeneuve, Adams ended her speech by revealing that though she still questions whether she should really be an actress, she recently turned to her seven-year-old daughter to remind her of the magic that she can bring to audiences.

“She said, ‘I like movies because they allow my imagination to grow, and they make me feel like I’m dreaming even though I’m awake.’ And I loved that,” Adams concluded. “I wanna thank you all tonight for making me feel like I’m living a dream even though I’m awake.”

The evening was also packed with clips of Adams’ most memorable performances, which were divided into her best drama moments, including an emotional “Doubt” scene opposite Meryl Streep, her key roles in sci-fi movies such as “Arrival,” her romantic highlights, including the climactic kiss from “Enchanted,” and finally her most critically acclaimed performances, including a highly-strung scene with Christian Bale from “American Hustle.”

Before Adams’ fanfare began, Christopher Nolan was on hand to present the Sid Grauman Award to IMAX chiefs Richard Gelfond and Greg Foster.

Nolan, who was one of the first directors to use IMAX cameras to shoot a movie with “The Dark Knight,” began by recounting an anecdote of his first-ever IMAX experience. Nolan was 16 years old and was at the theater watching a war movie with a friend, and at one point during the screening he turned around to see the audience’s heads all drift in unison with the strafing plane on screen. Many years later, Nolan turned around in an IMAX screening of “Dunkirk” to witness the same effect.

Gelfond explained how Nolan strapped the IMAX cameras to British spitfire planes to recreate dogfights for his most recent film “Dunkirk.” However, it turns out the cameras weren’t insured for such an ambitious piece of filming and Nolan had neglected to tell Gelfond and Foster about his ambitious plan for their technology.

Foster stated, “It goes without saying that if you’ve been lucky enough to have Chris Nolan designing ‘Dunkirk,’ ‘Interstellar’ and the ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy using IMAX DNA, being grateful is an understatement.”



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Wanda Ready to Sell Beverly Hills Property Project (Report) – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


China’s Dalian Wanda group is making plans to sell its remaining two overseas property developments, both in the U.S. They include the controversial Beverly Hills development, which Wanda once suggested would be the global headquarters of its entertainment division.

Wanda is now seeking buyers for the Beverly Hills development and another in Chicago, according to a report Tuesday by Bloomberg. It said that Wanda’s combined investment in the two amounted to $2.1 billion.

Wanda bought the Beverly Hills property, which is just to the west across Merv Griffin Way from the Beverly Hilton, in 2014. The city has already approved a 235-unit condominium project for the empty site where a Robinsons-May department store once stood. Wanda is seeking permission to change it into a 193-unit condo project with a 134-room luxury hotel.

But moving ahead with the development first became tricky when the Beverly Hilton Hotel raised objections. Later Wanda was accused of using foreign money to fund the development. In November 2016 Wanda won approval to go ahead, but receiving that permission coincided with the moment that the company ran into major political problems back home.

The giant Chinese company’s overseas expansion moves sparked the anger of the Chinese government in late 2016. A Chinese investment blacklist published in August last year looked tailor-made to hamper Wanda, banning further overseas moves in entertainment, hotels and sports.

Since then, Wanda has been battling to reduce its borrowings and sell off many of its overseas properties. Earlier this month, it agreed to sell off two properties in London, U.K., and others in Australia.

Wanda has also sold off its leisure parks in China and its film studio in Qingdao, but may retain operational control in both cases. In a regulatory filing earlier this week, Wanda said: “the company has no intention to terminate, downsize and dispose of its existing businesses in China.”

On Monday, restructuring of Wanda’s massive commercial property portfolio appeared to move ahead when Tencent, JD.con, Suning and Sunac China agreed to pay some $5.3 billion for a 14% stake in Wanda Commercial. The move allows Wanda to extricate itself from a tricky position where it guaranteed to refloat the company or buy out minority investors at a guaranteed price.



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‘I Never Wanted This Movie to End’ – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s latest entry, “Black Panther,” had its world premiere Monday night in Los Angeles and critics’ early reactions are already rolling in.

With full reviews embargoed until Feb. 6 at 9 a.m., film fans were quick to share their thoughts on the Chadwick Boseman-starrer.

See some of the first reactions below:

Jen Yamato of the Los Angeles Times calls it “incredible, kinetic, purposeful. A superhero movie about why representation & identity matters, and how tragic it is when those things are denied to people. The [first] MCU movie about something real; Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger had me weeping and he’s the VILLAIN.”

Steven Weintraub of Collider wrote that he was “very impressed with the story and filmmaking. [Michael B. Jordan] absolutely kills it as the villain and is the best one since Loki.”

Peter Sciretta of SlashFilm said that ‘Black Panther’ “looks, feels and sounds unlike any Marvel film to date” and called it “Marvels (sic) most political movie.” Sciretta predicted that the film will receive be nominated for costume, art, and production design awards.

Angie J. Han of Mashable said that she “never wanted this movie to end…Solid action, smart story, tons of personality…[Director Ryan] Coogler has done it again.”

Kyle Buchanan of New York Magazine/Vulture wrote that “the MVP of ‘Black Panther’ is Letitia Wright’s hilarious, ebullient Shuri.”

Erik Davis of Fandango said that ‘Black Panther’ is the “James Bond of the MCU…It’s bold, beautiful & intense, but there’s a depth & spiritualness that is unlike anything Marvel has ever done…The best part of ‘Black Panther’ is how it unravels this deeply emotional & complex story about family ties and protecting your tribe.”





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Arie Luyendyk Jr., Krystal Drama Escalates – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “The Bachelor” episode from Monday, Jan. 29.

Week 5 on “The Bachelor” means that it’s down to 12 women competing for Arie Luyendyk Jr.’s final rose, with the group heading to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. for this week’s dates. Coming off of last week’s episode, tensions are high among the contestants, largely because of Krystal and Luyendyk choosing to give Bekah M. a rose despite their 14-year age difference.

This week started off with a one-on-one for Chelsea, the 29-year-old single mom who landed the first impression rose on the first night. The two spent the day on the water — starting on a yacht and then riding jet skis around the beach while the other girls watched from a telescope at the hotel.

“I’m on a dream boat, but I’m also with a dreamboat,” Chelsea declared, before she and Luyendyk made out on a jet ski in the middle of the bay. Romance!

At dinner, the two talked about Chelsea’s ex leaving her when their son was six months old, and Luyendyk gave her the rose. Even though she seemed like an early frontrunner and possible villain, Chelsea has definitely fallen back in the race for the Bachelor’s heart and been overshadowed by Krystal. She made it through to next week, but she doesn’t seem to capture Luyendyk’s attention like some of the others do.

During the date, Maquel returned, bringing the contestant pool back up to 13. (She had previously — and temporarily — left the show two weeks prior when her grandfather died.)

For this week’s group date, “Bachelor” producers decided to send the contestants on one of the most low-budget outings in recent history — to a bowling alley. Apparently, as Luyendyk said, “In Arizona, when we want to have fun, we go bowling.” Highly doubtful that the Bachelor spends much of his free time knocking down pins, but OK.

The girls fawn over Luyendyk while drinking pitchers of beer, and then they separate into two teams to compete in a high-stakes bowling match. The Krystal-led team came out the winner, meaning that the opposite team, led by Bekah M., was supposed to return to the hotel for the rest of the date. After Krystal’s gloating rubbed everyone the wrong way, Luyendyk decided to keep the losing team of girls around for the rest of the night. What a giver!

Krystal, on the other hand, was outraged that he “went back on his words” and included the other girls in the afterparty. She got so angry she decided to leave the date and told the girls she had all of her bags packed, saying, “I felt he was disrespectful to team blue” and didn’t know if she could trust him as a life partner. When the party started without Krystal, Luyendyk went back to the hotel and checked on her, essentially playing right into her plan.

The two talked, as the Bachelor warned her that “small things in this environment can turn into big things outside of it.” He told her to stay in the room for the night, saying in his solo interview that even though he had strong feelings for her, this made him question everything.

Back on the date, Becca K. got special one-on-one time when Luyendyk took her to his hotel room, and he also still continued to show strong feelings for Bekah M. As the night neared its end, Krystal reappeared at the party for another confrontation with the Bachelor but again went back to her room after fighting with the women and didn’t speak to him. Lauren B. (who looks shockingly like winner Lauren B. from Ben Higgins’ season) got the date rose.

The second one-on-one of the week went to Tia, the 26-year-old physical therapist, who appears to be one of Luyendyk’s favorites. In a “country date for a country girl,” the two took an airboat ride through the Everglades, spotting alligators in the swamp and stopping to eat frogs. Chelsea got a yacht, and Tia got a swamp boat — seems a little unequal…

At night, the two talked about faith, family, and Tia’s desire to get out of Arkansas. She also was the first one to tell Luyendyk that she was falling in love with him, and was given the rose in return. Even by “Bachelor” standards, that was a fast declaration, but the two do seem to have a deeper connection than he has with most of the other women.

“I’m feeling really great about our connection and our relationship because it is so beyond anything I’ve ever felt before,” she said in her solo interview. “I feel like he’s falling for me like I’m falling for him.”

At the cocktail party, Krystal continued to fight with the other contestants and she declared she’s “done” with trying to get along with them. In her one-on-one time with Luyendyk, he told her that they had taken a few steps back this week and was surprisingly tough on her when she tried to explain her behavior.

“It’s our first fight,” she said — to which he responded, “It could be our last fight.” Go Arie!

Despite talking a big game and not seeming to fully be forgiven, though, she still ended up with a rose.

“If the girls thought I was a threat before, well, watch out ladies,” she promised.

Maquel, Ashley and Marikh were eliminated during the rose ceremony, bringing the total to 10. Bekah M., Becca K. and Tia appear to remain frontrunners, with Lauren B. gaining ground and Krystal falling fast.

The previews for next week show the group heading to Paris, with Krystal and Luyendyk struggling to move forward. One can only hope Week 6 will be her last.

“The Bachelor” airs on Mondays at 8pm on ABC.



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