ENTERTAINMENT – “Spiral” Horror Movie Stars Chris Rock and Samuel Jackson Releases in Theaters and on Netflix, May 14, 2021

“Spiral” marks the ninth installment of this franchise, and it looks like Rock was eager to shake up the formula a bit while still staying true to its gruesome roots.

Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson star in the horror movie, which hails from director Darren Lynn Bousman, who helmed the second, third and fourth entries in the long-running franchise. Though Jigsaw scribes Josh Stolberg and Peter Goldfinger wrote the script, “Spiral” is actually based on a story by Rock, who plays a cocky detective engaged in a cat-and-mouse game with a twisted killer. Max Minghella co-stars as Rock’s rookie partner, while Jackson plays a veteran cop.

A criminal mastermind unleashes a twisted form of justice in “Spiral,” the terrifying new chapter from the book of Saw.

Working in the shadow of his father, an esteemed police veteran (Samuel L. Jackson), brash Detective Ezekiel “Zeke” Banks (Chris Rock) and his rookie partner (Max Minghella) take charge of a grisly investigation into murders that are eerily reminiscent of the city’s gruesome past. Unwittingly entrapped in a deepening mystery, Zeke finds himself at the center of the killer’s morbid game.

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The trailer sheds a little more light as to how “Spiral” ties into the larger Saw mythology, but Lionsgate and Bousman are still keeping some secrets up their sleeve, and I expect there to be surprises aplenty when this film hits theaters.

After all, the studio had every opportunity to release “Spiral “on PVOD over the past year, but it seems like executives are confident in what they have and wanted to get out in front of the summer blockbusters now that theaters are reopening and vaccinated people are returning to theaters.

Genelle Williams and Chris Rock star in “Spiral” (“Spiral: From The Book Of Saw”).

Chris Rock and Max Minghella in “Spiral.”

Samuel Jackson stars in “Spiral.”

“Spiral” arrives in theaters on May 14 (and possibly on Netflix). Watch the spine-chilling new “Spiral” trailers.

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'A Time For Mercy' stars Matthew McConaughey

ENTERTAINMENT – HBO Develops Adaptation Series From ‘A Time To Kill,’ in Sequel, ‘A Time For Mercy’ staring Matthew McConaughey as Lead Again

Matthew McConaughey reads from John Grisham’s A TIME FOR MERCY.

25 years after playing the role that helped launch his career in ‘A Time to Kill,’ Matthew McConaughey might be getting ready to make his return to the courtroom in ‘A Time For Mercy.’

In 1996, Matthew McConaughey played white savior lawyer Jake Brigance in Joel Schumacher’s A Time to Kill, a film based on the novel by John Grisham.

Sources tell Deadline that HBO has acquired rights to the John Grisham novel, ‘A Time For Mercy,’ the sequel to Grisham’s classic novel on which the 1996 film was based, and are developing it as a limited series with McConaughey in final negotiations to reprise the role of defense attorney Jake Brigance.

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Sources say the series would be eight to 10 episodes with Lorenzo di Bonaventura, who served as Warner Bros. exec in the ’90s when ‘A Time to Kill’ was greenlighted, is on to produce. HBO/WBTV had no comment.

Variety is reporting that Matthew McConaughey will reprise the role of Jake Brigance for A Time for Mercy, a new HBO series based on the novel by John Grisham. McConaughey previously played the character in another Grisham adaptation – 1996’s A Time to Kill, directed by Joel Schumacher. There, Brigance was a lawyer defending a Black man named Carl Lee Hailey (played by Samuel L. Jackson), who was on trial in Canton, Mississippi, for murdering the racist rapists who sexually assaulted his young daughter.

The original novel was set in Clanton, MS, and followed a fearless young lawyer as he defends a Black man accused of murdering two white men who raped his 10-year-old daughter. The case turns the small town into a boilerplate of tension that includes inciting violent retribution and revenge from the Ku Klux Klan. The novel was another Grisham hit, and Warner Bros. quickly moved to turn the book into a movie, tapping the late Joel Schumacher to direct and setting an A-list cast to star in the film.

Now McConaughey will play the character yet again, reprising the Brigance role for the HBO series A Time for Mercy.

While the film is filled with a number of movie stars including Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson and Kiefer and Donald Sutherland, Schumacher decided to tap McConaughey — a relative unknown at the time — to star. ‘A Time to Kill’ went on to be a hit, put McConaughey on the map of leading men and is considered one of the best Grisham adaptations to date.

The series is based on yet another Grisham novel – actually the third Grisham book to feature the Jake Brigance character – and has the lawyer defending a sixteen-year-old boy accused of murdering a local cop in a town in Mississippi.

Matthew McConaughey reads ‘A Time For Mercy.”

In Grisham’s novel A Time for Mercy, Brigance is now defending a teenager accused of murdering a cop. Here’s the book’s synopsis:

Clanton, Mississippi. 1990. Jake Brigance finds himself embroiled in a deeply divisive trial when the court appoints him attorney for Drew Gamble, a timid sixteen-year-old boy accused of murdering a local deputy. Many in Clanton want a swift trial and the death penalty, but Brigance digs in and discovers that there is more to the story than meets the eye. Jake’s fierce commitment to saving Drew from the gas chamber puts his career, his financial security, and the safety of his family on the line.

The book was published last year and is actually the third Grisham book to feature the Brigance character (the other is ‘Sycamore Row’). According to the report, there are no writers attached to the ‘A Time for Mercy’ series. All we know is that McConaughey is reprising the Brigance role, and that Lorenzo Di Bonaventura is executive producing.

‘A Time To Kill,’ is book one of the series that includes ‘A Time For Mercy.’

While I don’t think anyone has thought about ‘A Time to Kill’ in a long, long time, it’s interesting to see McConaughey returning to this role, and for an HBO series to boot. I’m guessing this is going to be a limited series with a one-and-done series, similar to HBO’s recent ‘The Undoing,’ which was adapted from the novel by ‘You Should Have Known,’ by Jean Hanff Korelitz.

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Cynthia Erivo in "Genius Aretha."

ENTERTAINMENT – “Genius: Aretha” Based on a Talent Like No Other, NatGeo Series on Hulu

  • RileyRose Author McKesson

 

Grammy Award winner Franklin was a gospel prodigy and outspoken civil rights champion; she is widely considered to be the greatest singer of the past 50 years, receiving countless honors throughout her career.

Cynthia Erivo, portrays Aretha Franklin in “Genius: Aretha” part of an Emmy-winning anthology series that dramatizes the fascinating stories of the world’s most brilliant innovators, exploring their extraordinary achievements along with their volatile, passionate and complex personal relationships. The third season explores Aretha Franklin’s musical genius and incomparable career, as well as the immeasurable impact and lasting influence she has had on music and culture around the world. Franklin will be portrayed by the triple threat Tony-, Emmy- and Grammy Award-winning Cynthia Erivo (“Harriet,” “The Color Purple”); Emmy-winning Courtney B. Vance will play Aretha’s father, C.L. Franklin. GENIUS: ARETHA will be the first-ever, definitive and only authorized scripted series on the life of the universally acclaimed Queen of Soul.

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Cynthia Erivo in “Genius Aretha.” National Geographic

The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin was a complex figure, a titan of American music whose voice could wring emotion from even the coldest hearts, whose body of work exemplified and entangled many strains of Black music, touching on jazz, blues, gospel, soul, rock, and disco, and creating brilliant combinations of all of the above.

The string of albums between 1967’s I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You and 1972’s Amazing Grace broke boundaries and set records. Franklin remains on the shortlist of the most-awarded artists in Grammy history, and her gobsmacking 52 top-ten placements on Billboard’s long-running R&B singles chart is matched only by James Brown and Drake. Aretha was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a no-brainer for a performer whose genius as a singer and an interpreter of songs also came with natural gifts as a songwriter and producer. If you covered her song, you worried; if she covered yours, she blew you out of the water. In her 20s, Franklin made Otis Redding’s “Respect” her own. In her 70s, she made Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” look as carefree and easy as hopscotch.

Rotten Tomatoes reviews “Genius: Aretha”.

Aretha loved to sing, but she didn’t necessarily enjoy the politics of celebrity. Famously, she was never much for chitchat, preferring to let her formidable instrument do much of the talking.

At her peak, Aretha was prone to blowing off public engagements when things got too hot in her personal life, taking a hit to her reputation in the music business, and she seemed to hate explaining herself. “Pain is sometimes a private matter,” Franklin wrote in her 1999 autobiography Aretha: From These Roots, recalling the death of her mother in her youth. This has made the business of documenting the singer’s life a prickly one. For years, she fought the release of Sydney Pollack’s 1972 Amazing Grace concert film, in spite of the spellbinding footage he’d captured.

Franklin first started talking about a biopic in 2008, floating Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson in the lead role but insinuating that nothing would come to fruition without her approval; the result, this fall’s Respect, wouldn’t begin filming until 2019. Green-lighting an Aretha season of NatGeo’s Genius series after her death in 2018 was something of a shock, and the family asked the audience to boycott. After seeing the finished product — whose finale aired Wednesday night, seemingly timed to Franklin’s birthday, March 25 — you get why.

Genius: Aretha isn’t awful, but it’s very messy. Cynthia Erivo is a fantastic actress and singer, and in the titular role of Aretha, she makes the hardest part — mimicking one of America’s greatest voices — seem manageable.

But she doesn’t necessarily feel like Aretha. (Barring Luke James’s turn as Glynn Turman, Franklin’s second husband, and Omar Dorsey’s unnerving accuracy as gospel giant James Cleveland, no one much passes for the historical figure they’re playing. The most unfortunate bit of casting is T.I., not a month after sex-trafficking allegations, in the role of Franklin’s tour manager and lover Ken Cunningham, who always clocks as T.I.) Erivo’s deft balance of bluntness, stoicism, and volcanic emotion as Franklin navigates conflicting personal and professional lives is admirable, and Courtney B. Vance’s portrayal of Aretha’s father, legendary activist and gospel’s “Million Dollar Voice” C.L. Franklin, visualizes the many complexities of a figure whose impact on the Black church is profound, but whose faults added weight to his family’s already heavy load.

Genius supposes Aretha’s blending of spiritual and emotional interests in her art is inherited from her father, learned from following him around on the surprisingly lustful gospel touring circuit in the mid-’50s as it became apparent that the child possessed a once-in-a-lifetime gift.

By day, young Ree is miming the moves of singer Clara Ward of gospel’s Famous Ward Singers; by night, she’s ducking C.L. at parties where both the father and the daughter try and fail to conceal their appetites for breaking the rules.

You could argue Genius is as much C.L.’s story as Aretha’s, and it’s important to set up the relationships with controlling men the singer would spend much of her early career bucking. If it’s not C.L. telling her what to do, it’s Ted White, her first husband and manager. If it’s not Ted, it’s one of the many music-industry men who get flustered when a woman flexes her talent and power. At its best, Genius is a gripping, generational family drama about the pitfalls of putting one’s own needs ahead of those of friends and family, and fame’s unseen costs. But the series never stops getting in its own way.

Aretha Franklin Shines In, And Despite, The New Miniseries, ‘Genius: Aretha’

In exploring the conflicting interests pulling Aretha in different directions through her career, Genius takes liberties in its portrayals of her and the many figures in her inner circle, and you begin to grasp why the family isn’t pleased. C.L. is made out to be a master manipulator who’ll stop at nothing to get his daughter on a path to the top of the charts, but who is a philanderer deeply concerned with gossip, your archetypal Evangelical equivocator, a family man with a secret love child he fathered with a 12-year-old churchgoer, and a spirited Sunday morning speaker also known for his Saturday night proclivities. Some of the moves of Genius’s version of the man run counter to several accounts given by his children, though. He is seen attempting to pull young Ree out of school to pursue music at one point, but in author David Ritz’s 2014 biography Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin, her sister Carolyn says no one in the family cared about the children’s schooling as much as their father.

When Ree gets pregnant at 16, C.L. embarrasses her in front of the entire church choir and chastises Reverend Cleveland for knowing and not telling, though in real life, Aretha says C.L. never shamed her for being a young mother. When C.L. is left off the guest list on the first night of the Amazing Grace concerts, it’s framed as a spiteful, freeing gesture, when in Franklin’s book, she said it was an innocent mistake rectified when she called and personally invited him to appear on the second night of filming. This makes the scene where she is surprised to see him in the audience a confusing touch and an unnecessary speed bump in an episode that is otherwise a beautiful ode to Sydney Pollack’s directorial style and Franklin’s gospel chops. Genius also frames her first pregnancy at 12 as a consequence of her excursions on tour, when the father of her first son was a neighborhood boyfriend back in Detroit.

Genius’s Ted White is a bumbling manager and a worse husband, but his wildest moments, like the time he was investigated for allegedly shooting Sam Cooke’s brother in Franklin’s home, aren’t there. (Actor Malcolm Barrett plays Ted’s desperation and rage spirals believably, though making a point not to consult the still-living White before taking the role is frankly baffling.) The 1967 incident where Aretha was injured at a show is ludicrously distorted: In the film, she somehow breaks her arm in three places just tripping while tipsy, when in real life she claims to have plunged eight feet off an arena stage.

Cynthia Erivo stars in “Genius: Aretha.”

Elsewhere, Genius has time to suggest Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. tried to initiate an affair with the singer but not to show her famous performance of “Take My Hand, Precious Lord,” King’s favorite song, at his 1968 funeral. That year, she’s seen recording “Son of a Preacher Man,” the Dusty Springfield hit originally written for Aretha, setting up drama between the Franklin sisters, since older sister Erma covered it first. This timeline is impossible, since Aretha didn’t cut “Preacher Man” until she realized she’d whiffed on a hit when Dusty’s version blew up in 1969, the year Erma’s version came out. A scene set in 1970 is soundtracked by Sly and the Family Stone’s “Family Affair,” a recording that wouldn’t exist until 1971; Aretha is seen recording “Call Me” in 1967, but the session didn’t happen until 1969. An early 1967 studio scene mentions Marvel’s Black Panther, a hero you’d only know if you’d seen the three issues of Fantastic Four he’d been in up until then.

Courtney B. Vance and Cynthia Erivo star in “Genius: Aretha.”

Chronological quirks are exacerbated by the way Genius jumps through time, zipping back and forth through the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, in order to juxtapose Aretha’s childhood and adulthood issues with temperamental men in the first six episodes, then breezing through the late ’70s and various points in the ’80s and ’90s in the last two.

If you don’t know Aretha’s story, it’s easy to blink and miss a chyron and get lost. If you’re familiar with the finer points of the singer’s life and career, you wonder why Genius gins up drama but leaves documented chaos out. We see Aretha becoming a problem for her label in the late ’60s as she steps into her activism, having seen police mistreating a fan. Inexplicably, we don’t see the 1969 disorderly conduct arrest where she allegedly gave police hell after a roadside accident. “Preacher Man” comes up in several episodes to walk us up to major conflict between sisters in 1976 — after Curtis Mayfield tries to get Carolyn to sing the songs he wrote for Sparkle, but Aretha, needing a hit in the fallow years of her tenure at Atlantic, edges her sister out of the gig, revealing a meanness otherwise reserved for her male tormentors — but we don’t get to hear “Respect” or “Think,” two of the first songs that come up when you think of Aretha Franklin.

Cynthia Erivo is Aretha Franklin in “Genius: Aretha.”

It’s times like these that Genius feels a little unsanctioned; you quickly come to surmise there’s no “Respect” because the film Respect has the rights. You wonder why this thing was conceptualized and pushed out after her death when there was already a biopic in the works that had been given the late legend’s blessing. What Genius: Aretha does best is identify what drives people, what drives them toward greatness and toward self-destruction, and how a person can be both brilliant and troubled, loved but deeply misunderstood. When it handles this business delicately, Genius: Aretha is a joy. But as much as it misses the mark, with another Aretha story already in the can, it’s worth asking why this one needed to exist at all.

Source: Vulture.com

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ENTERTAINMENT – Dwayne Johnson Joins DCEU and Puts MCU on Notice, Black Adam is Coming!

Dwayne Johnson Explains How He’s Getting Into Superhero Shape For Black Adam

It’s been an awfully long time coming, but Dwayne Johnson has confirmed that cameras are set to start rolling on the DCEU’s (Warner Bros.) Black Adam in just three weeks.

The actor has been circling the title role for almost fifteen years, and he’ll finally get the chance to enter the world of superhero blockbusters under the direction of his Jungle Cruise helmer and regular Liam Neeson collaborator Jaume Collet-Serra.

Dwayne Johnson to star as Black Adam.

Black Adam was initially scheduled to begin production last year in order to hit the big screen this coming December, but the Coronavirus pandemic got in the way, and as things stand, it doesn’t have an official release date locked in as of yet.

The supporting cast has been filling out in recent months, though, with Aladdin‘s Marwan Kenzari recently boarding the ensemble in a mystery role alongside Noah Centineo’s Atom Smasher, Aldis Hodge’s Hawkman and Quintessa Swindell’s Cyclone.

Seeing the world’s biggest movie star venturing into the comic book genre instantly makes Black Adam a hot prospect, but it’s also shaping up to be the DCEU’s first genuine cosmic epic, which adds another layer of excitement.

And when confirming the start date for filming on social media, Johnson also put all of Marvel and DC’s spandex-clad heroes on notice, as you can read below:

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“I wanted to show you the opening page to my script, which I look at every time I open this. I’ve memorized these words for years and years and years now.”

“But it gives you guys an example of who Black Adam is, and who Black Adam is to the world of the DC Universe. But also, I think, who Black Adam is to the world of superhero universes period. And that is the DC Universe, but that also includes the Marvel superhero universe too.

Now look, I’m not saying there’s going to be a mashup, I’m not saying that. But what I am saying, is that it doesn’t matter to me, and it doesn’t matter to Black Adam: You put ’em all on notice, whether they’re DC Universe or part of the Marvel Universe, they all get put on notice now.”

Shazam 2: The Black Adam Age ‘Teaser Trailer’ (2021) Concept – DC Comics Dwayne Johnson

Johnson has been hitting the gym extra hard to get into peak physical condition for the role, which is a pretty terrifying prospect when you consider the sheer size of the man on a regular day, and as a passion project, he’s guaranteed to be pulling out all of the stops for Black Adam to deliver something special for fans of both his personal brand and the wider DC Comics universe.

Dwayne Johnson training for Black Adam

Source: ComicBook.com

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ENTERTAINMENT – The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Delivers Action, Big Emotions, and Depth, aired on Disney Plus, March 19, 2021

Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan bring charm, introspection, and emotional resonance, as the series shines a light on trauma and legacy in a post-blip world, while exploring ways Avengers: Endgame events continue to inform the MCU.

From Disney Plus: “Sam Wilson allies himself with Bucky Barnes to embark on a series of international adventures, the duo drawn together by their ties to Steve Rogers, to thwart the activities of the Flag-Smashers, an anti-patriotism terrorist cell.”

After a longer-than-expected wait, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is finally here, premiering to Disney+ on Friday, March 19. And while it’s been nearly two years since Avengers: Endgame first premiered in theaters, the story (and some of the major plot-points therein) are still having an impact on our heroes Sam Wilson/The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan).

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier First Reviews: Delivers ‘Stellar’ Action Along with Big Emotions and Surprising Depth

Excellent pacing, character development, emotion and even action. The first episode is a promising start and a good indication of the direction the two main characters will go into. With the Winter Soldier dealing with the ghosts of his past and Falcon trying to understand how to take on the burdens of the Captain America mantle it’s clear that this show wants to take the time to flesh out these heroes. This looks to be an exciting new series that could help us love and understand these characters even more.

Sebastian Stan in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.

Steve Rogers’ (Chris Evans) closest friends never were top-tier in the Avengers franchise, but it looks like The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is aiming to change that. Can Sam and Bucky rise to the challenge against a mysterious new foe, while also reconciling with their own pasts in order to see where they fit in a post-Endgame world without Captain America? And, more importantly, will the fans want to come along for the ride?

Here’s what critics are saying about The Falcon and The Winter Soldier episode 1 (note: reviews are posted under each episode —rather than on the season 1 page — since critics are supplied with new episodes each week just before their debut):

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Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan are on top form, with the latter really given the chance to shine as Bucky struggles to find his place in the world. His peaceful sabbatical in Wakanda (Black Panther) as the White Wolf is over, so what happens when he’s confronted by the sins of his past? That’s a question this series looks to be setting out to answer, and if this first episode is any indication, that could take the character to some extraordinary places. –Josh Wilding, ComicBookMovie.com

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier on Disney Plus

Mackie and Stan stretch nicely in their expanded roles, finding room to play with both high drama and dark comedy, respectively — an odd couple in emotional beats as much as their actual character pairing. Stan finds touching humor in Bucky’s impossible circumstances (yes, we get Bucky on a date, and it is everything), and Mackie’s expressive eyes and face bookend the episode with two wordless yet striking scenes. We don’t need any explanation for Sam’s grief, doubt, and disappointment when we watch the actor in those moments. –Proma Khosla, Mashable

Rotten Tomatoes has given the series a 93%.

Between the jaw-clenched brooding and reflective staring, Mackie and Stan find small but meaningful moments to illustrate their innate charms. Mackie’s smile has a natural glow that’s impossible to resist, and he gets to crack it a few times while “Uncle Sam” (yup) jokes with his young nephews or cajoles his sister into a new business plan. Stan, meanwhile, has this simple little moment with a Maneki-neko that’s destined for meme glory (while still conveying Bucky’s deep desire for the world to stop moving, just for a second, so he can catch up). Once these two get together, making enough time for fans to enjoy their natural charisma among the requisite action scenes may be the show’s greatest challenge. –Ben Travers, IndieWire

Anthony Mackie stars in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.

For Mackie — a prolific character actor many first noticed in his role in “Half Nelson” fifteen years ago — this is an overdue moment in the sun. Mackie’s work in the Marvel films has been consistently strong but somewhat underwritten, given the magnitude of his talent. What is striking about his presence here is that he is permitted to embody complexity. –Daniel D’Addario, Variety

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ENTERTAINMENT – “Debris” on NBC is All About Humanity and Uncertainty Caused by an Alien Shipwreck

From NBC: “Two agents from two different continents, and two different mindsets, must work together to investigate when wreckage from a destroyed alien spacecraft has mysterious effects on humankind.”

In “Debris,” Riann Steele and Jonathan Tucker play Agents Finola Jones and Bryan Beneventi, who are tasked with finding fragments of an alien shipwreck that crashed on Earth, wreaking havoc. IndieWeek has viewed the early episodes of Debris. The world is still trying to understand the otherworldly science as Finola and Bryan work to recover the pieces and save the human victims who get caught in the wreckage’s path.

Bryan Kills His Clone – from NBC “Debris.

“Debris” definitely stands on the shoulders of legends and if you’ve enjoyed series like “The X-Files” and, especially, creator J.H. Wyman’s previous show, “Fringe,” then odds are this will similarly capture your attention. The series follows Bryan Beneventi (Jonathan Tucker) and Finola Jones (Riann Steele), two operatives for competing international government agencies. They’re investigating a series of mysterious debris falling down to Earth from a spacecraft encountered three weeks ago.

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J.H. Wyman, is known for cerebral, science-fiction/mystery dramas, (“Fringe” and “Almost Human“), continues dissecting humanity in “Debris.”

The series plunks viewers in the aftermath of a mysterious alien spaceship crash, with the wreckage sprinkling around the world. Agents Finola Jones and Bryan Beneventi are tasked with collecting the fragments in the U.S., and through their work they begin to explore the state of humanity itself.

The series clearly owes a debt to “The X-Files,” down to having two agents on two sides of the belief spectrum — Finola does believe in a higher power and an order to the universe, while Bryan doesn’t.

The differences in opinion doesn’t give way to arguments though — instead, it sparks deeper discussions about humanity’s place in the universe, our connection to tougher emotions such as grief, and how to allow empathy and compassion to transform grief into personal power.

Jonathan Tucker and Riann Steele are two operatives in “Debris” on NBC.

Indeed, the series’ premiere episode focuses exclusively on how grief can transform people into shells of their former selves if it gets out of control. Even though the show looks like a typical “problem of the week”-style, high-concept procedural and can be creepy at times, “Debris” is actually a meditation on how to engage with the messiness and chaos of the human experience.

Riann Steele stars in “Debris.”

Jonathan Tucker stars in “Debris.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each episode, so far, blend a mystery of the week with the overarching questions: What is this debris? Was the ship it came off of acting in good faith? And why are shady people out to snag pieces of it?

The weekly mysteries, right now, are the most intriguing mainly because of how eerie the imagery has been. The pilot showed us floating bodies while the reanimated body of a dead boy quested for his mother; the second episode started off with all the metal in a Pennsylvania town rolling down the street of its own accord.

Courtesy of NBC

Right now the “why” of it all dominates, probably because it’s been a minute since a series like this parceled out episodes, and the fear is that audiences will give up too quickly to learn the answers “Debris” has in store. Then again, if series’ like “The X-Files” has taught us anything, it’s that sometimes we don’t need things explained, and that could easily be the case here. If so, it’s good that the cast assembled is a group of all-stars because they’re doing their utmost to keep people coming back week after week.

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Rachel Brosnahan stars in "I'm Your Woman."

ENTERTAINMENT – “I’m Your Woman” is a Fresh Look at Crime Drama’s of the 1970’s

Julia Hart’s, “I’m Your Woman.” Hart’s latest is a refreshing take on the throwback ‘70s crime picture, as seen through new and refreshing perspectives.

Rachel Brosnahan, Bill Heck, and Arinzé Kene, Marsha Stephanie Blake, and Frankie Faison star in “I’m Your Woman,” on Amazon Prime streaming platform. In this 1970s set crime drama, a woman is forced to go on the run after her husband betrays his partners, sending her and her baby on a dangerous journey. Jean exists adjacent to a life of crime, with little knowledge of what her husband, Eddie (Bill Heck), actually does for a living.

Arinzé Kene and Rachel Brosnahan star in “I’m Your Woman.”

Her life with a new baby is a quiet one (other than the child’s cries), but she is awakened in the middle of the night and forced to go on the run after something goes wrong for Eddie. The mysterious Cal (Arinzé Kene) helps get her settled in a safe house, but the danger continues to follow her and her baby.

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In almost any ‘70s crime thriller (and frankly even most 21st-century ones), the men are our focus. We glimpse their personal lives, but their wives and families often exist to humanize them.

Marsha Stephanie Blake stars with Rachel Brosnahan in “I’m Your Woman.”

By contrast, in the ‘70s-set, “I’m Your Woman,” Rachel Brosnahan appears in every scene as Jean, truly evolving from who she is when we first meet her: a passive character who doesn’t even drive.

“I’m Your Woman” smartly avoids the issues of its predecessors, though; these are real people, who exist beyond just their connection to Jean.

Brosnahan’s Jean isn’t the only atypical character to have her story told in I’m Your Woman; Kene’s Cal and other Black characters played by Marsha Stephanie Blake and Frankie Faison challenge the often-segregated world of the genre.

The threats against Jean’s life necessitate isolation, but her interactions with Kene, Blake, and Faison add warmth and depth to the film and offer tender scenes in the harsh world on screen.

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ENTERTAINMENT – “Crisis” Film on Amazon Prime is a Thrilling View of the Opioid Issue in America

Ready to nail someone: Armie Hammer plays a driven DEA agent in one of the three opioid-epidemic storylines of “Crisis.” The film also stars Gary Oldman and Evangeline Lilly.

Crisis” is a thriller that focuses on the rising opioid issue in America, starring: Gary Oldman, Armie Hammer, Evangeline Lilly, Greg Kinnear, Michelle Rodriguez and Guy Nadon. From the film’s opening moments, it is clearly going to be a tension filled story with a conscience. The real question is whether it can live up to its own lofty expectations.

This gives a grander scale to opioid issue.

In order to give the story full weight, director Nicholas Jarecki presents three different storylines. This enables Crisis to look at the problem from different angles. This includes entering the boardrooms of big pharma to following addicts.

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A drug trafficker arranges a multi-cartel Fentanyl smuggling operation. An architect recovering from an Oxycodone addiction tracks down the truth behind her son’s disappearance. A university professor battles unexpected revelations about his employer, a pharmaceutical company bringing a new “non-addictive” painkiller to market.

Greg Kinnear and Gary Oldman in “Crisis”.

Set against the backdrop of the opioid epidemic, their stories collide in this dramatic thriller from writer/director, Nicholas Jarecki (Arbitrage).

The film does an excellent job of keeping a consistent tone.

The three arcs may concern different sides of the opioid crisis, but they all share a level of apprehension and distrust. As each story unfolds, this feeling never never lessens.

Michelle Rodriguez and Armie Hammer plays a police supervisor and a driven DEA agent in one of the three opioid-epidemic storylines of “Crisis.” The film also stars Gary Oldman and Evangeline Lilly.

“Crisis” is an ambitious attempt to take on America’s opioid problem head on.

Using three narratives is a wise choice that shows how far reaching things have become. It is flawed at times, but it definitely worth watching.

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Coming 2 America movie poster.

ENTERTAINMENT – “Coming 2 America” with Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall Premieres on Amazon Prime

The Return of the King: Eddie Murphy Rules in “Coming 2 America”

If you’re looking for “throw back” fun from Eddie Murphy’s “Coming to America”, also starring Arsenio Hall, you’ll get the best walk down memory lane with Coming 2 America now premiering on Amazon Prime.

In 1988, Murphy, by then fully in control of his career, made “Coming to America.” The big budget comedy ($36 million, or $81 million in 2021 dollars) was based on a character he created, Prince Akeem Joffer, the scion of a fictional African country who bucks the tradition of arranged marriage and comes to Queens in search of a liberated American woman to be an equal partner.

It’s really impossible to overstate how huge a star Eddie Murphy was in the 1980s. At the beginning of the decade, he singlehandedly saved Saturday Night Live after the original cast—and the audience—had moved on. He made his big-screen debut in 1982’s 48 Hours; two years later, he was so big he turned down Ghostbusters for Beverly Hills Cop, which became the highest grossing comedy in history.

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“Coming to America” was directed by John Landis, the pop cinema genius behind The Blues Brothers and the heady Murphy vehicle, Trading Places. Landis perfected the hangout movie, where plot was secondary to gags and character moments to help the audience identify with the movie star, and create worlds you want to live in. Modern superhero movies take a lot from Landis’ approach. The film was a huge success, earning the 2021 equivalent of $790 million.

Coming 2 America lacks the depth of Dolemite is My Name, but it never aspires to reach it. This is a pop confection whose only goal is to entertain as broadly as possible. Everyone from Murphy on down look like they’re having the time of their lives, and when you visit Zamunda, you may find their happiness infectious.

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A Curvy Chick Production for Riley Rose superhero and graphic novels.

 

ENTERTAINMENT – “I Care A Lot” On Netflix

Golden Globe winner Rosamund Pike, plays Marla Grayson.

Golden Globe winner Rosamund Pike, plays Marla Grayson, in “I Care A Lot,” who heads up a biting, bouncy cat-and-mouse thriller about a cold con artist who, determined to be rich at all costs, abuses the elderly, essentially forcing the most vulnerable to be her legal wards so she can rob them of everything and confine them to nursing homes.

It’s a wholly ugly story…

And Pike plays the hero, ostensibly, in I Care A Lot: a swampy satire-noir out to reward the most black-hearted and cruel. It’s a wholly ugly story, but it all lands very well because of a mirthful tone and dark humor. Buried behind this devilish tale is the idea that mass wealth can only be achieved immorally and that those willing to shed their empathy (while faking it in public) will rise, but mostly this is a fun, grim pissing contest punctuated by fine performances and an off-kilter electronic score.

When the dust settles there’s no takeaway other than “we’re all screwed” – but the dance itself is volatile and vulgar enough that it makes for a good, ruthless romp. And, if nothing else, it’ll make you more conscious of your elderly parents and the predators circling them.

Rosamund Pike and Dianne Wiest star in “I Care A Lot.”

As the malicious Marla Grayson, who feels profoundly honorable while exploiting and torturing the elderly, Pike presents us with a villain in plain sight; one who doesn’t have to dodge the raindrops because our society’s already given her a giant umbrella. As the leader of a network of inhuman thieves, Marla is someone you want to see fall, and fall hard – her and her entire network of poachers.

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But I Care A Lot never quite gives us that satisfaction, any least not in the ways we might want (or when we want them). No, Marla is the visionary here – the irresistible force to Peter Dinklage‘s immovable object – instilled with the “never give up” credo that our country seems to laud, no matter what dire plan it’s fueling.

Final Verdict… You might be surprised how uncomfortable “I Care A Lot” makes you at the outset, before it steers more into noir territory, or that it doesn’t have much more to say about elder abuse than what it initially dangles in front of you. Overall, though, this contest of wicked wills is a vibrant, penetrating Pandora’s Box of predicaments and likeable yet evil central characters, played with satirical skill by Rosamund Pike and Peter Dinklage.

…this contest of wicked wills is a vibrant, penetrating Pandora’s Box of predicaments and likeable yet evil central characters…

Characters who, to varying degrees, the movie does its best to trick you into rooting for – against your better instincts – as they step on whoever they have to, to get to the top. Spoiler alert! The most frustrating ending ever, Pike gets her comeuppance but not as fairly rooted for by her nemesis, Dinklage, (Game of Thrones), the left shoe falls in the most unexpected finally. This was the most nail-biting injustice of the story. Watch, laugh, enjoy, and be frustrated to the very end!

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Disclosure: Riley Rose Author is an Amazon Influencer

 

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A Curvy Chick Production for Riley Rose superhero and graphic novels.