Friday, July 31, 2015

Spy v Spy

I’ve got a theory (and, no, it’s not a demon): If someone was gonna interrupt my holiday from reviewing movies, of course, that person was gonna be Tom Cruise.

And so here I am, ready to tell you all about what I liked best about Cruise’s fifthquel Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.

Directed by our star’s current favored go-to guy, Christopher McQuarrie, the movies an almost-direct sequel to Brad Bird’s franchise-rejuvenating 2011 blockbuster entry, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, which notoriously featured Cruise climbing the Burj Khalifa in Dubai like it was no big deal (such a boss!). And it kicks things off with Cruise nowhere in sight.

Simon Pegg, who’d be Mission: Impossible  Rogue Nation’s runaway scene-stealer had his tech wiz Benji Dunn not been introduced in part four, is the first character we see; Jeremy Renner’s Brandt, the cucumber-cool analyst the world Cruise naysayers were thinking would take over this sweet 19-year-old franchise if Cruise didn’t regain some of his old-fashioned Cruise Control and applied to himself, is the first one we hear. Ving Rhames’ Luther Stickell’s also on the scene (oh...Luther’s back!).

All these familiar, welcome faces are on a mission that’s about to turn impossible, as they have to keep an Airbus cargo plane from taking off with some bad-looking cargo. And they seem to be failing. Looks like they’re going at it alone.

Oh, there goes the plane.... It’s taxiing away. Fast.

Before you can start guessing when Cruise’s Ethan Hunt will turn up, in he comes, owning the screen like only Cruise can these days. Ethans got a plan because he’s a man, an IMF agent, who always has a plan. He’s the one who sees it all.

Just like Cruise, a man who, if he knows anything at all, that’s what these movies are and what they should be. And that is a heckuva lot of fun.

Mission: Impossible  Rogue Nation is a throwback to its own origins and to its being. This one some of you will appreciate because it feels the most like Brian De Palma’s 1996 original (I know I did); it’s got that espio-vibe...complete with a femme fatale with nebulous allegiances played by the positively Bergman-esque Swedish newcomer Rebecca Ferguson (her name? Ilsa), and even its centerpiece mission feels like a salute to that one Langley.

Another of the movie’s set major pieces (all of which I loved because they played it quite economically as far as dialogue and exposition are concerned – McQuarrie obviously subscribes to the school of show me, don’t tell me) is a high-speed chase through Casablanca and, duh, an homage to John Woo’s sequel, while like, an actual rabbit’s foot tips its hat to J.J. Abrams’ threequel.

Cruise is the reason. He is the reason why I bought a ticket on opening day for this. He is the reason these movies are the massive success that they all around the world. And he is the reason that you buy Ethan Hunt going on all these adventures, facing these crazy foes, such as the Syndicate this time around. They are an anti-IMF group overseen by a dangerously anti-Ethan Hunt Bondsian (!) baddie that just may a figment of Ethan’s imagination (this per Alec Baldwin’s CIA director-character).

What is clear, though is that you will enjoy these spy games. You can bank on it just as you can always bank on Cruise. No matter what he does off screen, he delivers on it. These are his missions: possible. And he always comes out from ’em the winner.

Bet on him and you will, too.

My Rating ***1/2

Photo: Paramount Pictures.

Maria Comes

Ain’t it funny.

One goes, another one comes. It’s the f---in’ ways of the f---in’ world, whaddya want.

E! has called on Maria Menounos to co-anchor E! News with Jason Kennedy in the wake of Giuliana Rancic’s announced departure from the post she’s held for far too long, what, yeah...more than the decade that she indicated in her release about it, indeed.

Menounos will step into her new roles at E! once Rancic begins to transition outta hers on Aug. 10 – which is not, by any means, an age dig directed toward her skinny self.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Locked and Loaded

And we have us a trailer for the upcoming man-packed Michael Bay joint, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.

Toby Stephens, James Badge Dale, John Krasinski, David Denman, and Max Martini (Fifty Shades of Grey) are among the studs that Bay has assembled to tell the fact-based story of the 2012 deadly assault on the U.S. State Department Special Mission Compound in Benghazi.

The movie will offer a from-the-ground perspective on the events, highlighting the action of the situation rather than the politics. Here is the first trailer for the production – it’s a red-band trailer, so be careful where you watch it:

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi will be in theaters on Jan. 15.

The Girl Who Changes Everything

First Oscar, next a Tony?

Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o is headed to Broadway New York’s Public Theater as the star of Eclipsed, a new play written by Danai Gurira (AMC’s The Walking Dead).

Nyong’o will play not only one of many women suffering through the Liberian civil war – a war that was ended by women – but The Girl who disrupts the status quo in the production, which will begins previews on Sept. 29 for an Oct. 14 opening.

Eclipsed will run through Nov. 8, so get your tickets now.


How She’ll Live Now

Elle Fanning is getting into YA territory.

The Maleficent star has signed on to co-headline All the Bright Places, the adaptation of the Jennifer Niven young-adult novel that Miguel Arteta (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad DayThe Good Girl) is getting ready to helm.

Fanning will play a young girl who learns how to live from a young man who is planning on dying.

Jeez, lighten up, kids.


Digging for Hope

Get ready to cry and be uplifted all at the same time when The 33 comes out on Nov. 13.

Directed by Patricia Riggen and based on the incredible story about the 33 Chilean miners who got trapped in a mine for a trying 69 days in 2010, the film stars Antonio Banderas – uh, look who’s back! – and Rodrigo Santoro as two men on opposite ends of the ordeal looking for a solution, as well as Juliette Binoche, Gabriel Byrne, Bob Gunton, Adriana Barraza, Kate del Castillo, and Lou Diamond Phillips, among others.

Jennifer Lopez was once attached to a role. Just FYI....

Check out the film’s trailer now.


Carol’s Coming Early

Director Todd Haynes’ eagerly anticipated Carol, starring Cate Blanchett and Mia Wasikowska Best Actress-at-Cannes-winning Rooney Mara, is coming out early.

Originally scheduled for Dec. 18, a.k.a. the day the Force will awaken, the film will now open on Nov. 20, going up against a slightly less huge blockbuster, The Hungers Games: Mockingjay – Part 2.

Carol, in case you do not know, is an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt, the chronicle of the blossoming relationship between an unhappy wife (Blanchett) and a department store shopgirl dreaming of a more fulfilling life (Mara) she befriends in 1950s New York City.

Kyle Chandler and Sarah Paulson co-star.


Trapped In a...

This is the fall that will deliver Brie Larson (Trainwreck) her Cast Away moment.

Meaning Room is coming out in the next few months.

A film based on the Emma Donoghue novel by that title, Room zeroes in on a young mother trapped in a tiny room below ground with her 5-year-old son (played by The Smurfs 2’s Jacob Tremblay). From the looks of the first trailer that’s been released, the kid was either born or raised from infancy in there, so you know that whomever put them there is not kidding around.

And neither is she.

Larson’s character clearly has an escape plan in mind, all so that her kid will get “to love it.

Love what?

“The world.

Like, #chills.

Room – co-starring Joan Allen, Sean Bridgers, and William H. Macy – will open in New York and L.A. on Oct. 16 before going nationwide on Nov. 6.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wiz Women

You didn’t think that just because Fox is mounting Grease: Live for a winter premiere, that NBC would skip putting on a live musical of its own this year, right?

Good, ’cause the Peacock re-invented that game and the Peacock’s still very much in it to win it.

Which is why the powers that be have called on Mary J. Blige and Queen Latifah to star on The Wiz Live!, their follow-up to last December’s Peter Pan Live! starring Allison Williams and Christopher Walken.

MJB will portray the Wicked Witch of the West, while the erstwhile Oscar-nominated Chicagoan will take on the production’s titular role.


Like an Animal


Yes, yes.

Scott Speedmans eyeing a return to TV via TNT.

#BenCovington4ever, though.

S2 is set to star on Animal Kingdom, a drama that also will feature Ellen Barkin in a plum role and center on a 17-year-old boy who moves in with his freehweeling-and-wild-bunch-ish SoCal beach town-dwelling relatives after his mother overdoses, only to find out that their indulgent lifestyle is funded by a number of seriously criminal activities.

Speedman will play the boy’s wants-to-break-away uncle and the adopted son of Barkin’s tough-as-nails matriarch.

Now. If the plot of the show sounds familiar that’s because it is an adaptation of the eponymous 2010 Australian film that netted Jackie Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook) her first Oscar nomination. And there ya have it.


Agency Wars

Fresh off her cameo in Taylor Swift“Bad Blood” video, Cindy Crawford has decided to keep flirting with the screen.

No, she is not giving us a sequel to Fair Game, thank goodness. Although, aww...give it up for all the vintage Miami Beach! And, come to think about it, we could get worse things than Fair Game 2 (Fairer Game?)....

Anyway, C2 is taking on producing TV.

Yes, the supermodel is developing a new show for NBC that would center on the model-agency wars of the ’80s. You know, the ones between the Elite and Ford agencies.

Crawford is working on the project with Anne Heche and James Tupper (TV’s Revenge), who are on board as executive producers.


Step Back In, Taylor Kitsch!

Rumor has it Channing Tatum may not be playing Gambit, after all. This in spite of the warm welcome he received at Comic-Con earlier this month (here he is, shaking Stan Lees hand on stage after a panel that gathered the lot of the Xverse).

See, the Magic Mike XXL star was tapped to star in a stand-alone movie about the mutant that’s scheduled to come out next fall, taking over a role that Taylor Kitsch originated in 2009’s much-maligned X-Men Origins: Wolverine. However, it seems that Tatum and the powers that be are not seeing eye to eye at the negotiating table.

Which begs the question: His deal wasn’t signed, sealed, and delivered?

Guess this means Gambit may not be teased in next summer’s X-Men: Apocalypsehuh. At least, maybe, not with Tatum as the card-throwing Remy LeBeau.

Your move, Taylor Kitsch. Pull a Cookie Lyon and get what’s yours, man.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Definitive Steve Trevor?

So, maybe, probably most for sure, Scott Eastwood is not playing Steve Trevor in Suicide Squad.

Why the double-back?

Because, evidently, Chris Pine’s the one who will be playing the character in Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman.

The Star Trekker reportedly has been tapped to portray the Amazonian warrior’s love interest/mister in distress in the forthcoming Patty Jenkins-helmed Wonder Woman movie, which at long last will see the light of day in June 2017 (although, remember, the character will make her debut in next springs Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice...).

Next up for Pine, though is Star Trek Beyond.

What a nice problem to have, huh – balancing not one but two successful franchises....


A Wedding Fit for an Empire

How kinda very Brady Bunch-y, no?

The stepmom of TV’s Empire and the eldest of the Lyon boys are getting it on in real life. In fact, they are engaged.

Indeed, Trai Byers and Grace Gealey are set to marry after he popped the question on her birthday last Sunday.

Get it, Boo Boo Kitty!


Rebel Look

Who’s...the designer!

Madonna is on a sharing mood this week – and I love it.

M already has shared a couple of video teases of her upcoming Rebel Heart Tour,” and, now, she is also letting us see some of the costumes she’ll be wearing on stage beginning in September, like this colorful number, which might be by Gucci and which she teased with the caption, “Who’s That Girl”!

Could she be? Performing that 1987 musical gem on this tour?

People would flip for it.

Urgh. Wish it were time to see the Queen of Pop like, now.


Old Man and the Sea

Morgan Freeman, action star?

It is happening.

The Academy Award actor – last seen making sense of Scarlett Johansson in Lucy last year – has signed on headline Down to a Sunless Sea, a sort of Air Force One on the water.

Get it, man.


Cheeky Wolverine

As we all know and are probably sad about, Hugh Jackman will...ahem...claw up as Wolverine on more time.

One last time.

The Awesome Aussie – last seen playing the beloved character in last summer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past – is set to follow-up his stand-alone 2013 hit, The Wolverine, with director James Mangold calling the shots once more, and bf is wasting no time wink, wink-teasing us about it Logan-style. I mean, check out the pic that Jackman tweeted this morning.

Cheeky mutant....

Wolverine will be back in theaters, #OneLastTime, in 2017.


Another Rebel Tease

Oh, it is on, alright.

Madonna has released a second tease of her upcoming Rebel Heart Tour” – this one set to the sounds of Iconic,” the Rebel Heart track that features Chance the Rapper and Mike Tyson, and offering us several glimpses at her dancers in action.

Check it, love it:

Gotta love that cheer at the end.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Rebel Tease

The countdown is officially on for Madonna’s Rebel Heart Tour” – and M knows it.

Which is why the Queen of Pop released a tease of her upcoming trek today. The clip is set to Devil Pray, one of the tracks off of her underapreciated Rebel Heart album, and features flying nuns and suggestive dancing. Check it, love it:

Madonna’s “Rebel Heart Tour” will kick off in Montreal on Sept. 9. Get your tickets, yet?

Just Because Pt. 98

So Calvin Harris has done it again.

Nah, not just score another hit with How Deep Is Your Love featuring Disciples but share another abstastic shot of his modeling work for Emporio Armani.

Nice, no?

Off to the gym now. Forever.


A Primera Dama to Consider

The Book of Lifes Kate del Castillo still just might break into America.

The star of Telemundo’s La Reina del Sur is going to star on Ingobernable, a new Netflix show about the strong-willed wife of Mexico’s president.

A mighty woman, the character’s described as someone who quite capable of “creating a president, leaving a president, and killing a president.


Ingobernable will stream in the new year.


Delivering Us from Beasts

Fresh off the success of San Andreas, Dwayne Johnson’s fixin’ to go on a Rampage.

Indeed, The Rock and director Brad Peyton are set to reunite for an adaptation of the arcade game by that name.

The movie will focus on a man going up against a beastly gorilla, a beastly lizard, and a beastly wolf that are wreaking havoc across the country.