Fall Film Preview: Our Boys & Joy

imgresBurnt
“Maybe I just wanted it really badly, that when I got it, I didn’t know how to hold on to it…” –Adam Jones

Bradley Cooper returns to the kitchen in his latest film, Burnt, about the redemption of talented Chef Adam Jones.  A man once on top of his game, loses everything due to his drug addiction, now he fights for both redemption and that elusive third Michelin star. This film reunites Cooper with his American Sniper co-star Sienna Miller, who plays Helene, his sous chef in the movie. Both Cooper and Miller have to share their screen time with all of the food porn shots, that the trailer promises will be included in the film.

imagesCooper has been nominated for an Academy Award for the past three years and in 2015 he may receive his fourth nomination. If not, for Burnt, then maybe for his performance alongside Jennifer Lawrence in David O. Russell’s latest film titled Joy. The film chronicles Joy’s (Lawrence) rise to become the founder and matriarch of a business dynasty. Cooper plays an executive at the home shopping network who helps Joy sell her products.  At least, this year, Cooper has doubled his chances to receive his fourth consecutive nomination. Burnt will hit theaters on October 23rd, 2015, while Joy is set to be released on December 25th, 2015.

To watch the Burnt trailer click here
To watch the Joy trailer click here

Legend
“Me and my brother, we’re going to rule London.” –Ronnie Krayimgres-1

Director Brian Helegland depicts the glamorous, but at times ultra violent London underground scene in the 1960s. Tom Hardy stars as two of the most notorious criminals in British history, identical twins Reggie and Ronnie Kray.   Yes, we get twice the Tom Hardy for the price of one admission ticket. Emily Browning (Sucker Punch) co-stars as Reggie Kray’s wife, Frances “Frankie” Shea, and narrates the entire film.   The love affair between Frankie and Reggie is used as a device to contrast the twins from one another. Audience members should sympathize with Reggie as he deals with his brother’s insanity, even though by doing so the film treads more towards fiction than fact.

imgres-2Based on the trailer, the movie seems to reference American gangster films such as Goodfellas and Mean Streets, under the guise of a cockney accent. In addition the film possesses a quirky, offbeat, dark comedy tonal feel as seen in the cult-classic Snatch. Now the real question is if Tom Hardy will receive critical acclaim and recognition for both roles come award season. We have seen him as the charming, gentleman, con-artist Eames in Inception; and recently as the psychotic, offbeat, Jewish gangster, Alfie Solomons, on Netflix’s Peaky Blinders season two. Now we are able to see him play both character types simultaneously, with the cockney accents, this could be legendary.

In limited release on November 20th, 2015
To watch the trailer click here

The Revenant
“I aign’t afraid to die anymore…I done it already.” –Hugh Glassimages-2

Revenant refers to someone who has returned from the dead. Hugh Glass (Leonardo Dicaprio) is a 19th century frontiersman; left for dead, by fellow hunters and fur trappers, after a brutal bear attack. Just, when we thought we had seen Leonardo Dicaprio play everything, he brings us his portrayal as Hugh Glass; a fighter, survivor, but most importantly a quieter man in comparison to Dicaprio’s previous roles. The film follows Glass’ three hundred mile trek for vengeance across Perkins County (now South Dakota). Throughout his journey Glass deals with the grief of being betrayed by his best friend, John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy). Glass’ thirst for revenge fuels his will to survive against all odds.

The is Academy Award winning director Alejandro G. Inarritu’s follow up to last images-1year’s best picture winner, Birdman. Inarritu’s determination to truly capture the harsh reality of Glass’ survival story, lead his cast and crew to some of the most remote places to shoot in the Canadian interior. In the trailer we begin to understand Inarritu’s vision to tell an epic adventure story through the perspective of one man’s isolation. There is a magnetic mixture between quiet tension and abrupt action in the trailer. I don’t want to jinx it, but I really hope that all Leo needed to do was return from the dead, to finally receive an oscar.

In theaters on December 25th, 2015
To watch the trailer click here

By Sarah Belmont
Featured Writer
@sjbelmont

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Fall Film Preview: One Border & Four Walls

imgresSicario
“Everyday across that border people are killed with his blessing…to find him would be like discovering a vaccine.” –Alejandro

 In Mexico “Sicario” means hitman. In America, during awards season, Sicario could mean awards for Denis Villenueve (director), Emily Blunt, and Bencio Del Toro. Kate Macer (Blunt) is a naïve FBI agent assigned to a government task force to aid in America’s war on drugs across the Mexican border. She finds herself to be a pawn in game being played between her fellow agent Alejandro (Del Toro) and Matt (Josh Brolin), her superior officer. The longer Kate Macer stays across the boarder fighting against the Mexican cartels, the more her idealism fades into a distant mirage of her homeland.

Denis Villenueve is a director on the rise. In 2013 both his film Prisoners andimages-10 Enemy were released. Both are very different films and meant to be seen by very different audiences. Sicario could be the perfect mix between Villenueve’s dark accessibility illustrated in Prisoners, and his ability to retain tension in every scene as shown in Enemy.   According to early reviews from critics such as The ConCourse’s Tom Ley, “Honestly, the film might be a horror movie.” Sicario may just be the first horror film masked as a sprawling crime drama that any of us has ever seen.

In theaters on October 2nd, 2016
To Watch the trailer click here

Room

Do you remember how Alice wasn’t always in wonderland? Well,  I imgres-1wasn’t always in room.” –Ma

Meet Ma (Brie Larson), a young woman kidnaped and then impregnated by her captor. Meet Jack (Jacob Tremblay), Ma’s son, he knows nothing of the world beyond four walls. Ma desperately wants to escape the room that she and Jack have been imprisoned in for the past seven years. But, have these four walls protected Jack’s innocence from being perturbed by the outside world? “Room”, is a small film with two emotionally complex performances, by Larson and Tremblay that are preserved by the four walls of the screen.

imgres-2Two years ago, a small independent film titled Short Term 12 was released and Brie Larson suddenly appeared on film critic’s radar as an actress to watch. Larson did nab a few smaller critic awards for her performance in Short Term 12, and was even viewed as a dark horse to receive an Oscar nomination. If Larson’s performance surpasses her work in Short Term 12, then, hopefully, she will not be overlooked a second time. Based on the trailer director Lenny Abrahamson (Frank) may also receive some recognition for his work, as he uses various camera angels to allow audiences to view the room through Jack’s perspective.

In theaters on October 16th, 2015
To watch the trailer click here

By Sarah Belmont
Featured Writer
@sjbelmont

Fall Film Preview: Independent Films Knock at the Door

Beasts of No Nation
 “I will always protect you, because you’re my son and a son always protects a       images-2   father.” –Commandant

Emmy winner Cary Fukunaga follows up his True Detective (season one) run with this new Netflix original movie. Based Uzodinma Iweala’s 2005 novel, the story follows a young West African boy named Agu (Abraham Attah). After mercenaries kill his family, Agu finds himself under the tutelage of the African warlord, known as the Commandant, played by Idris Elba. The brutality of Agu’s circumstance mirrors Hushpuppy’s trials in the 2012 film Beasts of the Southern Wild. While Hushpuppy retained her sense of wonder about the world, viewers will observe the deterioration of Agu’s innocence.

Beasts of No Nation will certainly be making headlines even before award seasonimages begins. On October 6th, 2015 Netflix will release the film simultaneously on their streaming service and in select theaters. Hopefully, this unprecedented release schedule will not overshadow Fukunaga, Attah, or Elba’s critically acclaimed work in the film. Attah has already won the Venice Film Festival award for best young actor. Time will tell if this young actor from Ghana will be in attendance at the next Oscars ceremony.

To watch the trailer click here

The Danish Girl
There was a moment when I wasn’t just me…there was a moment when I images-6          was Lilli.” –Lili Elbe

Academy Award winning director Tom Hopper (The King’s Speech) brings to life another period piece about one of the first known recipients of gender reassignment surgery. Set in Copenhagen during the 1920s the film stars Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne as Lili Elbe, and Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina) as Gerda Wegener. The film focuses on the marriage between Gerda and Einar, before, during, and after Einar transforms into Lili. Based on the trailer it appears that Hopper tells this remarkable love story through a feminine gaze lens, with a captivating transgender nuance.

images-4Critics have already screened the film at the Venice Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Many predict that Redmayne could be the first performer since Tom Hanks to win two consecutive Oscars for acting. More notably though has been the critics’ reaction to Vikander’s performance in the film. Collider’s Adam Chitwood explains, “Redmayne is excellent, but this is Vikander’s movie.” Overall the film was received at TIFF similarly to Redmayne’s previous film, The Theory of Everything, praised primarily for its actors.

In theaters on November 27th, 2015
To watch the trailer click here

Trumbo
images-8“That’s the perfect combination…the radical may fight the purity of Jesus…but the rich guy wins with the cunning of Satan.” –Trumbo

Remember, Bryan Cranston is, “the one who knocks,” and he is knocking on the Adademy’s door with his turn as blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo. The film tells the true story about how he became a ghostwriter for various movies after testifying in front of the House of Un-American Activities Committee in 1947. Dalton Trumbo would later be publicly credited for writing such films as Spartacus, Exodus, and Roman Holiday. Based on the trailer, it appears that director Jay Roach splashes comedic color across this period piece, set during the black and white era of McCarthyism. Cranston’s performance is supported by a great ensemble cast that includes Helen Mirren, Louis C.K., Elle Fanning, John Goodman, and Diane Lane.

Anyone else thinking award season déjà vu? Last year, Michael Keaton (Birdman)images-9 ran a close race against Eddie Redmayne, who ultimately walked away with the golden statue. Will Redmayne be able to beat out possible contender Bryan Cranston this year? Like I said earlier, Cranston is the “one who knocks.”

In theaters on November 6th, 2015
To watch the trailer click here

By Sarah Belmont
Featured Writer
@sjbelmont

Narcos: A Colombian Peace & Other Lies

Netflix Narcos Ep. 9&10 Recap

  “The purpose of war…is peace.” –Pablo Escobar (episode 9)images-4

Narcos episode nine, La Catedral, opens with an introduction to Pablo Escobar’s “prison.” Described by Steve Murphy as the “embodiment of the big lie,” Pablo Escobar has built himself a fortress to stay in as his fellow countrymen revel in this new state of peace. Throughout this episode we observe each central character adapt to life under this unsettling truce. Pablo Escobar won his fight against extradition, but not without suffering from his own loses and he is still in a cage like an animal. Steve Murphy finally was able to put Escobar behind bars, but his moral turn at the end of episode nine still haunts him. Early on in this episode we witness Steve Murphy pull a gun on a taxi driver during an argument about a minor fender bender. If Steve Murphy’s war against Pablo Escobar is truly over, then how can he continue to justify the use of violence against civilians? He has crossed a line and he can’t go back. The same can be said for President César Gaviria, who struggles to revel in this peace, as Escobar remains living comfortably in La Catedral. President Gaviria and his wife stroll the quiet Colombian streets, as she tries to convince him that, “heimages-5 did the right thing.” President Gaviria did end this Colombian civil war between the government and Pablo Escobar; he just surrendered the majority of his moral integrity to do so. These three men understand that the law of extradition was a battle, not the war. The war on drugs in Colombia, the war against Pablo Escobar, that is only beginning.

“But no matter how you decorate it, a cage is still a cage.” –Steve Murphy (episode 9)

images-6Narcos episode ten, Despegue (Takeoff), opens with the media speculation about Pablo Escobar killing his partners Monocada and Galeano, while imprisoned at La Catedral. Murphy and Peña leaked the story at the end of the previous episode, as an attempt to put Pablo Escobar behind bars, for real. The finale revolves around Pablo Escobar holding Vice Minister of Justice, Eduardo Sandoval, hostage in Le Catedral. Meanwhile President Gaviria orders the Special Forces to raid the prison and finally take down the Medellín Cartel once and for all. Meanwhile, Murphy has disappeared and Peña tries to track him down. Murphy’s sudden disappearance coincides with the abrupt end of peace in Colombia, as the Special Forces Unit closes in on Pablo Escobar. Now, no finale is complete without a twist, and/or cliffhanger for viewers to cling timages-7o during the hiatus. Peña sold out his partner to Pacho Herrera of the Cal cartel. In the previous episode Murphy confided to Peña about how the shooting in the pilot still haunted him. There are pictures to prove that not only did they kill known associates of Pablo Escobar, but civilians too. Now Pacho Herrera has those photos that he intends to use as blackmail against Murphy. “Don’t worry I won’t ask you, or Javier Peña to cross any line that you haven’t already crossed,” explains Herrera. Later, we see Murphy safely return home to Connie. They embrace and then Connie says, “I just want to go home.” But, “This is our home,” states Murphy. Connie goes back inside, leaving Murphy outside on the Colombian streets. A home is still a home; a soldier is still a soldier; a man is still a man; Colombia is still Colombia,“no matter how you decorate it.”

images-8“Less than an hour after Escobar escaped Le Catedral. Word had spread all over Colombia that war was coming again. But this would be different…This time there would be no surrender, no negotiations, no deals…This time we were going to kill him.” –Steve Murphy (episode 10)

Stay tuned for season two of Narcos, set to be released on Netflix in 2016.

 

By Sarah Belmont
Featured Writer
@sjbelmont

Narcos : A Colombian Circumstance

Netflix Narcos Ep.7 & 8 Recapimgres

 “Lies are necessary…when the truth is too difficult to believe, right?                           -Pablo Escobar (episode 8)

Narcos episode seven, You Will Cry Tears of Blood, begins with the actual news coverage about the assassination attempt that was depicted at the end of the previous episode. Through the fallout over Avianca Flight 203 we observe the Colombian nation assess the damage done to their country. Rewind back to the first half of the season when Pablo Escobar was viewed as a man of the people. He was a charitable, humanitarian in Colombia. Then in the third episode due to American intrusion, on Colombian affairs, the law of extradition was passed. In response the once beloved Pablo Escobar has taken his frustration, with the Colombian political system, out on his own fellow countrymen. One hundred and seven innocent lives were taken during Pablo Escobar’s failed assassination attempt on César Gaviria. The media’s speculation about the mysterious plane bombing points images-1the finger at Pablo Escobar and he is again forced to cut all ties with the bombing by any means necessary. This includes a violent raid on the safe house where Natalie, the plane bomber’s wife, is being kept. Murphy and Peña race towards the end of the episode to protect Natalie from being killed by Pablo Escobar’s men. The footrace between these opposing sides is filled with superb tension. One moment that really stands out is when Javier Peña has cornered one of the bad guys, only to then have a young boy threaten to shot him. On the surface the screen shows the haunting image of a child with a gun. Therefore alluding to Colombia’s societal deterioration during this civil war. In addition, there is an added layer to this scene as Peña finds himself caught in a moral catch twenty-two. He could shot the kid to imgres-1catch his bad guy, but that would cost Peña, his moral high ground that he holds against Pablo Escobar. On the other hand, Peña puts down his gun and allows the bad guy to get away once again. Back in episode three Javier Peña and Steve Murphy made sure that both the American and Colombian government’s focus would remain on the investigation of Pablo Escobar. In a sense, they started wanted this war, but now in the midst of it, how far are they willing to go to win the war?

“If I had made myself into a monster like all of you say, that is the fault of the
people, like your father and those politicians, ‘of always’.”                                              -Pablo Escobar (Episode 8)

imgresNarcos episode eight, Le Gran Mentria, begins with another failed attempt at capturing Pablo Escobar and his men. Throughout both episodes, seven and eight, Pablo Escobar has begun to place pressure on the Colombian government to appeal the law of extradition. The pressure amplifies when Pablo Escobar and his men take hostages, including journalist Diana Turbay, to use as leverage for a fair negotiation with President César Gaviria. During a conversation between Diana Turbay and Pablo Escobar, his character motivations are expounded upon. The most insightful part of this exchange is given through Turbay’s response to Pablo Escobar’s self-justification for his violent means, “You would have done marvelous things and that is the saddest part.” This series chronicles the investigation of Pablo Escobar, but more importantly it illuminates the specific circumstances that made both his rise and fall possible. The “saddest part” is that Diana Turbay becomes just another casualty in this war, as she is killed during another botched raid. This incident allows the Colombian support to ebb back to Pablo Escobar’s favor, as they demand that President Gaviria concede to Pablo Escobar, before more blood is spilt on their Colombian streets.

images-2 “Lies are necessary…when the truth is too difficult to believe, right,” explains Pablo Escobar as he surrenders himself over to the Colombian officials.  Le Gran Mentria in Colombian means the great big lie, which is essentially what Pablo Escobar’s “surrender” is because he still got everything that he wanted.  He will go to a prison that he built; with guards that he pays; most importantly the law of extrication was appealed.  Only in Colombia would a drug lord make a grand return to a grateful country, but that’s where we started, right?  Colombia is the homeland of magical realism.  In the pilot we witness Steve Murphy receive information about the whereabouts of Pablo Escobar’s men.  Then Murphy calls in a police raid led by Javier Peña.  This is a successful mission as Peña and his men kill Escobarimages-3‘s associates, but the also take the lives of innocent civilians.  This same scene is revisited during the end of episode eight.  Again, Narcos proves that this series expounds upon the Colombian circumstances involved during the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar.  The rise and fall spurred by the moral shifts on both sides.

By Sarah Belmont
Featured Writer
@sjbelmont

2.30 – The FALLt in Our TV

Send comments or questions to SceneNNerd@gmail.com to have them read on the show! On today’s episode Pete, Matt, Sarah, and Casey are joined by John of Friday Night Fandom to discuss Zack Snyder’s comments on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. First, Matt redacts our incorrect moments from last week, Pete gives you the new movies coming out in theaters and on DVD this week, then Casey barrel rolls through this week’s entertainment news (Stephen Colbert, Top Gear, Steven Spielberg), while Sarah calmly reminds them she knows best. Then the gang runs down all the new shows coming out this fall to NBC, ABC, The CW, and more. Puns are made, shots are fired, and there’s at least one dick joke, it’s an all new Scene ‘N Nerd! Be sure to check SceneNNerd.com for Sarah Belmont’s latest insights on hot new shows.

Netflix Narcos: Brave Men & Bold Druglords

Netflix Narcos Ep.4-6 Recap

“In America the mafia makes witnesses disappear, so they can’t testify. In imgres-1Colombia Pablo Escobar makes the whole court disappear.” –Steve Murphy (episode 4)

Narcos episode four, A Place in Flames, begins with Colombia passing a law for extradition. This means that in Colombia if you are found guilty for drug trafficking then you will be sentenced to serve your sentence in the American prison system. “Now Pablo had someone to fear…us,” explains Steve Murphy. The only problem is that while America declares their victory they proceed to set their sights on a new enemy, communism. Murphy and Peña find themselves forced to take a step back from their present investigation on Pablo Escobar. Then through the use of real life footage Murphy explains just how absurdly true this story is, “Colombian cocaine coming through a communist country and into America. I couldn’t make that up…it’s too good.” Just like that, Murphy and Peña make the connection that will allow them to continue their investigation on the Medellín cartel. America may have won a battle when the law for extradition passed in Colombia, but for Pablo Escobar it only started a war.

images-1“It’s been said that nothing gives the fearful more courage than another’s fear.” –Steve Murphy (episode 5)

This war on drugs is primarily fought in the Colombian political arena. During the fifth episode’s opening scene, we see Luis Carlos Galán continue to run for president on a pro-extradition campaign platform. Galán never did become a Colombian president, as Pablo Escobar ordered a hit against him. In a well-crafted montage sequence we see just how devastating the assassination of Luis Carlos Galán was to the Colombian public.  In his wake, the tragedy sparked the brave turn of Galán’s own speechwriter, César Gaviria, to pick up his predecessor’s fallen torch against the Medellín cartel.   In a single episode we see a brilliant character arc. During the opening scene Gaviria is shown as the nervous man behind the curtain; in the end, he is the brave man standing at the podium; the new brave face of Pablo Escobar’s political opposition.images

“At the time, the only thing more dangerous than being a Colombian cop was being a Colombian presidential candidate.” –Steve Murphy (episode 6)

Explosivos, episode 6, contains three significant story threads: Colonel Horatio Carrillo’s (Maurice Compte) and Javier Peña’s (Pedro Pascal) manhunt for Pablo Escobar’s affiliate, José Rodriguez “Gacha” (Luis Guzmán); Steve and Connie Murphy’s mission to smuggle former M-19 solider, Elisa out of the country and Pablo Escobar’s assassination attempt on pro-extradition presidential candidate César Gaviria. The manhunt storyline illustrates that there are not only American officials waging war against Pablo Escobar, but local officials too. Murphy’s Colombian allies are shown to be merciless as they gun Gacha down in cold blood. The Murphy mission thread reinforces the idea that Steve Murphy comes from the wrong side of the border. Only, in Colombia would he find himself simgresmuggling a communist out of the country, an American act of treason. Meanwhile, the Pablo Escobar storyline subtly illustrates an all too familiar image of the past reflecting the future. In the final moments a young man aboard an airplane picks up his brief case, while the other passengers casually relax during the flight. He nervously opens up the case to reveal a cassette recorder, Pablo had instructed him to record the conversations of his fellow passengers. Then the young boy hits the record button and the screen dissolves to white, as an explosion cries out. Narcos chronicles the Colombian war on drugs, yet during episode six’s closing sequence it parallels America’s present war on terrorism.

Narcos episodes four, five, and six showcases the tension found in a country on the brink of civil war.  Country allegiances are tested, presidential candidates are sacrificed, and courts are up in flames, but remember, “I couldn’t make that up…it’s too good.”

By Sarah Belmont
Featured Writer
@sjbelmont