‘Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi’ Finally Arrives!

Star Wars characters

The world has waited 40+ years for the newest chapter of the Star Wars saga, in theaters December 15. In a galaxy far, far away, deserted on a tiny island in the middle of the ocean, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has finally returned. Or shall I say “re-returned”? The last we saw Luke in action was in Return of the Jedi (1983). Since then, 2015’s The Force Awakens, set some years into the future, left us off with Rey (Daisy Ridley), another young Jedi, hunting down Luke after his many years of self-exile. Now the two are back, alongside an ensemble cast of old and new Star Wars characters, rekindling hope against the dark side of the Force. Here, in anticipation of its release, let’s look at where we left off, what the cast and crew have been saying, and what we can expect from Star Wars: The Last Jedi.        …read more

How the ‘Citizen Kane of Bad Movies’ Inspired the New James Franco Movie

James Franco movie

The 2003 drama ‘The Room’ is widely regarded as one of the worst films of all time, which is exactly why it’s the subject of the new James Franco movie. James Franco knows a thing or two about bad movies. On Rotten Tomatoes, several of his many projects have been labeled “rotten” by critical consensus. (As much as I may personally enjoy it, Your Highness sits at a rotten 27%.) But what about the new James Franco movie? The Disaster Artist sits at a fresh 95% as of today. The irony? It’s about one of the worst movies ever made. I was 10 years old when Tim Burton’s Ed Wood was released in 1994. My mom’s boyfriend at the time took me to see it at the Rio Theater, a single-screen movie theater inside a repurposed Quonset hut, and though I had no idea who Ed Wood was and had never        …read more

‘Wonder’ Infuses Kindness into Culture

Wonder movie

Featuring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson, the ‘Wonder’ movie based on R.J. Palacio’s best-selling book could shift our daily interactions. “I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably much worse,” says 10-year-old August Pullman, the protagonist in the New York Times best-selling middle grade novel Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Auggie, the main character born with a severe facial deformity, tells his story, and then the perspective shifts to his classmates, sister and sister’s boyfriend. Exploring themes of belonging, empathy, differences, kindness and resilience, Wonder is spreading empathy like wildfire and will debut as the adapted Wonder movie on November 17. The film, with Julia Roberts, Jacob Tremblay, Owen Wilson and Mandy Patinkin, was originally slated to release last April but did so well in test screenings that filmmakers pushed it to November for the increased holiday ticket sales. Beyond predicted profit margins, however, the underlying story        …read more

Superhero 101: The Justice League

The Justice League

The Justice League looked a bit different in the comics than it does in the upcoming film. In recent years, fans of superhero squads have had the pleasure of seeing Marvel’s best-known supergroup come together on the silver screen in The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron. The DC side of things, save for the abysmal Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, has yet to see some of its most famous heroes together in one film. That will soon change, with Justice League set to hit theaters this month. The Justice League, as depicted in the movie, will see Batman and Wonder Woman recruit The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg to create a formidable legion of supervillain-thwarting power. It’s been a long time coming. Sure, the Justice League has appeared in nine straight-to-DVD animated movies since 2008, but DC’s heavyweight collaboration of superheroes will enter live action for the first time        …read more

Superhero 101: Thor

Thor: Ragnorak

Ahead of ‘Thor: Ragnarok,’ take a look at the mythological superhero’s comic book origins. If you keep up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, November 3 is likely circled on your calendar. The anticipation to see how Thor escapes from captivity on the planet of Sakaar in Thor: Ragnarok is mounting. Set almost directly after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, and four years after Thor: The Dark World, this new film will see our hero lose his trusty hammer, battle his good friend Hulk and take down the Goddess of Death, Hela, to save Asgard and its people from total destruction. The 17th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor: Ragnarok looks to up the stakes significantly from previous entries. I certainly recommend viewing 2011’s Thor and 2013’s Thor: The Dark World before getting in line for the third movie entry in the franchise. But beyond that, Thor has        …read more

Horror Writing: Finding the ‘Gruesome’ Thread That Connects Us All

horror writing

Gregory Lamberson discusses the craft of horror writing. Darkness subsists in the crevices of our minds, tucked away. And often, this darkness can manifest as fear. Fear is distinctive, it thrills us, and as H.P. Lovecraft reminded his readers in a popular essay on the genre, it connects us all — man and animal alike. Horror author, screenwriter and director Gregory Lamberson has been tapping into that cultural stew for years, honing his craft and stretching out into many narrative forms. Lamberson, the author of such titles as Johnny Gruesome, The Frenzy War, Personal Demons and others, like most writers of the macabre, can trace those darker passages from the building blocks of an impressionable childhood. “I loved monsters as a child, in cartoons and comic books,” Lamberson says. “I started collecting the Aurora monster models as a kid (based on Frankenstein, The Mummy, Dracula and other characters), then watching        …read more

Speak of the Devil: Movies and Shows Starring Satan

Lucifer has made his mark on film history. Here are 6 standout devil movies and shows from the last century. Old Scratch. Beelzebub. Lucifer. Whatever your preferred name for Big Red, for almost as long as there have been motion pictures, the devil has appeared in one form or another. Sometimes in the most unexpected forms. Paradise Lost is set to be adapted to the small screen by Martin Freeman (Watson in Sherlock). So we thought it might be time to go back over several iconic devil movies and shows from motion picture history. Here are the six best portrayals of the prince of darkness. 6. Reaper (2007-2009) Twin Peaks fans might know actor Ray Wise best as Laura Palmer’s father, Leland — who, in that character’s own right, displayed some dastardly and demonic behavior. But long before Wise would reprise his Twin Peaks role, he appeared as the devil        …read more

The Female Ghost in Asian Horror Films

Asian horror films

The ghost girl thrives in Asian horror films. The horror genre currently dominates the box office, with the remake of the ’90s classic It and Annabelle: Creation, the fourth installment in The Conjuring series. Yet sometimes you need more than a scary clown or a demonized doll to give you a visceral thrill. Asian horror films gave us the most successful antagonist in modern horror: the dead, longhaired wet girl looking for revenge. What’s the appeal of the female ghost in horror? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JruLV_Wjkp4 Japanese horror films became a global phenomenon after the release of Hideo Nakata’s Ringu, based on a novel by Koji Suzuki, which was released in 1998 and had a very successful American remake (The Ring) four years later. The original movie and the remake are petrifying, and both installments have their own charm. The story line is lightly based on the 18th-century Japanese ghost story Bancho Sarayashiki.        …read more

Sex & the Spotlight: Harvey Weinstein Is Nothing New in Hollywood

Harvey Weinstein

Hollywood has always been built on power and vulnerability, and abusers like Harvey Weinstein have been a mainstay since the days of Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe. At the time of this writing, Harvey Weinstein has been accused by 40 women of sexual misconduct over the course of his career as a producer and distributor of films. While applauded by the industry for his “cultural impact,” few saw it fit to speak up about the decades of abuse, assault and rape that had been going on in their ranks. Yet when news broke of Harvey Weinstein forcefully performing oral sex on one actress and masturbating into a plant while cornering an unsuspecting news anchor, no one seemed the least bit surprised — apart from Harvey’s closest friends. And why is that? Why didn’t anyone speak up sooner? Because this is who Hollywood is, and has been, since the very beginning. Think:        …read more

Stephen King Adaptations: The Best and the Worst

Stephen King movies

This year brings more Stephen King movies and shows than ever before. Which adaptations have been the all-time best and worst? Would you believe me if I told you there have been more adaptations of Stephen King’s stories and novels than King books themselves? It’s true. By the end of 2017, King’s book count — novels, short story collections and nonfiction — will stand at 71. The number of King adaptations — feature films, TV series, miniseries, made-for-TV movies — will reach 93, and two more are currently scheduled to add to that total next year. Adaptations of the iconic novelist’s work have been a part of our culture for almost as long as his books. Carrie, King’s debut novel, was made into a film just two years after its 1974 release. Ever since, Stephen King movies and shows have rolled out almost every year, and quite often more than        …read more