Some things I learned from the audio commentary by Dean Israelite and John Gatins:

  • Bryan Cranston was cast as Zordon after the rest of the movie was shot. This is kinda cool to think about because not only were the actors acting against a green screen, they had no idea what Zordon would even sound like.
  • The first scene in the movie that takes place in the Cenozoic Era was originally not going to even be in the film.
  • In many of the early shots of Kimberly with long hair before the bathroom scene and in the bathroom scene, Naomi is wearing a wig because they filmed her cutting her hair first.
  • Billy uses a faraday cage to deactivate Jason’s leg monitor.
  • Trini’s little brothers were originally supposed to be twins, but they couldn’t find twins to cast in the roles.
  • After Rita attacks Trini in her bedroom and they all meet up at the bleachers, Jason had a long speech where, according to Dean Israelite, he talked about the car chase. He tells them about “how when he was chased by the cops, he knew it was all over, but he never felt better and he was trying to break out of the expectations he was living under”.
  • After Billy dies, John Gatins asks Dean Israelite if they shot Kimberly performing CPR on Billy and if it was cut. Dean Israelite starts laughing in a “oops” kind of way and John Gatins is like, “…maybe we didn’t. We can’t be right all the time.”
  • They also confirm that it was Rita zapping Billy that killed him. He didn’t drown. They actually cut scenes of Billy underwater and added extra green special effects to dry to make it clear that he didn’t drown.
  • In the original script, when the rangers are standing on that hill looking out at Goldar approaching Angel Grove, Kimberly had the line: “We’re going to Angel Grove.” To which Jason was to reply: “And we’re not coming back.” This was cut because it was “too dire” but the idea was that these rangers knew that they were going to die saving the city.
  • Dean Israelite talks about the “Mariner Bay and Reefside” easter egg, but he messes up and says Mariner Bay is a street from the television series, when it’s actually a city from the television series.
Lord Zedd Planned for Power Rangers Movie Sequel

Lord Zedd Planned for Power Rangers Movie Sequel

External image recently had an interview with Dean Israelite, the director of the Lionsgate Power Rangers film about the potential villain for the sequel.  According to Israelite, he is planning to have Lord Zedd as the main villain.

“Well Lord Zedd is the obvious choice, I think, in a good way. Ya know, there was a time when we were talking about Lord Zedd being in this movie. And it just felt…

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Power Rangers Movie 2017 Japanese Dub Cast Members Revealed

Power Rangers Movie 2017 Japanese Dub Cast Members Revealed

External image

Recently new Japanese dub cast members for the Power Rangers Movie 2017 film have been announced.

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The cast includes:

  • Ryo Katsuji :Jason Scott Red Ranger 
  • Alice Hirose: Kimberly Hart / Pink Ranger
  • Tomokazu Sugita: Billy Cranston / Blue Ranger  
  • Nana Mizuki: Trini / Yellow Ranger
  • Tatsuhisa Suzuki: Zack Taylor/ Black Ranger 
  • Miyuki Sawashiro: Rita Repulsa 
  • Arata Furuta: Zordon 
  • Ryota Yamasato:…

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Best of ‘17 - Film

It’s a little late because SOME of these films didn’t hit St. Louis til January but here’s the best of film for 2017.

Honorable Mention: Power Rangers

Cast: Dacre Montgomery (Jason Scott/Red Ranger), Naomi Scott (Kimberly Hart/Pink Ranger), RJ Tyler (Billy Cranston/Blue Ranger), Becky G (Trini/Yellow Ranger), Ludi Lin (Zack/Black Ranger), Bill Hader (Alpha 5), Bryan Cranston (Zordon), Elizabeth Banks (Rita Repulsa)

Written by John Gatins
Directed by Dean Israelite

I am the generation of POWER RANGERS. I was five when MIGHTY MORPHIN flooded the airwaves on FOX in 1993, I was obsessed with it, I still am. (I still remember thinking season 2’s premiere “The Mutiny Part I” was aired on 7/21/94….because it was my birthday that day.)

When a reimagining was announced, I was hesitant until I saw footage. And you know what? The mythology remains the same, the story got better, the story got realer. As much as I love the aerosol-cheese-whiz MMPR of my youth, POWER RANGERS can only succeed today if it’s relevant, if we show that these teenagers aren’t all goody-two-shoes. Flaws are human, flaws make a person stronger. The film itself is wonderful, and resets the mythology in a way that works, pays homage to the past and looks forward. It also doesn’t hurt that Dacre Montgomery is GORGEOUS. Bryan Cranston is the perfect Zordon, Elizabeth Banks is deliciously evil as Rita and my only doubts with Alpha were proved wrong as Alpha 5 had some of the best moments in the piece!

I’m thoroughly impressed with this film, I went in hesitant and left EXCITED! This is one to see and it’s truly morphenomenal!!!!

Standout Scene: The campfire scene. When the rangers are having trouble morphing (which has to be done as a team that trusts each other by the way), they set out to learn a bit about each other. Israelite’s lighting and cinematography, especially handheld, shine here as we mix Ranger with ‘80s John Hughes. This is where we learn the group’s “masks” (as Zordon puts it): Jason isn’t the all-star his dad wants him to be, Billy’s a high functioning autistic who likes country music, Zack lives with his mom who’s very sick. Trini reveals she’s struggling with her sexuality. Kimberly’s the only holdout for reasons we find out later. But this scene is the breakthrough the rangers need to FINALLY starting getting ready for the big fight ahead.

Honorable Mention: Spider-Man: Homecoming

Cast: Tom Holland (Peter Parker/Spider-Man), Robert Downey Jr (Tony Stark/Iron Man), Michael Keaton (Adrian Toomes/Vulture), Jon Favreau (Happy Hogan), Zendaya (Michelle “MJ” Jones), Marisa Tomei (May Parker)

Written by: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Jon Watts, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers

Directed by: Jon Watts

I feel like with each “regeneration” so to speak, of Spider-Man, we get closer to what the character really is. Sam Raimi’s Tobey Maguire-led films gave us the spirit of the hero, the campy superhero tropes of the time, but really not a vested world of Spidey beyond New York. The Andrew Garfield led/Marc Webb directed era gave us a way better Peter Parker and tried its own hand at establishing a series arc with what the Parkers were working on before their death. But something clicked when Marvel/Sony finally reached a deal for the rights to Spider-Man and the MCU for Civil War. When I saw Tom Holland for the first time, he was my favorite part of Civil War, and I was saying “This kid THIS is the THE Spider-Man.”

Homecoming is by far the strongest entry since Spider-Man 2. Holland is the best Peter Parker/Spider-Man yet – Maguire and Garfield while good in their own rights were cool guys playing a dork. If you’ve seen Holland at all, he’s a dork, playing a dork like Parker. We’re not reinventing the wheel for the umpteenth time with an origin story (thank. god.) We are starting where Civil War left off and we see Parker trying to prove himself to be an Avenger. Robert Downey Jr is the perfect Yoda-with-cool to mentor Holland’s Spidey.

Michael Keaton rivals Alfred Molina’s fantastic Dr. Octopus with a turn as Adrian Toomes/Vulture who is equal parts sympathetic and truly evil. Keaton has been getting a career resurgence lately and truly has just been killing every role he’s had. This one’s no exception. I really thoroughly enjoyed this one – one of the best superhero films this year, and one of the best superhero films I’ve seen, period. Can’t wait for more from holland: Equal parts angsty teen and superhero-in-training!

Standout Scene: After tailing some of Vulture’s goons, Peter tries to get surveillance on them while on a ferry. Unfortunately it goes awry and a beam splits the ferry in two. Spider-Man desperately tries to hold it altogether - almost like a metaphor for Peter’s double life for the whole film. Iron Man comes and bails him out, but Tony’s clearly in no mood for this. So Tony disciplines Peter, telling him how dangerous and reckless he’s been acting. So Tony takes back the suit he gave Peter, who begins to panic. “I’m nothing without the suit.” But Tony lays it out simply “if you’re nothing without the suit, then you shouldn’t have it.” It’s rare that Tony Stark is serious but when he does, Downey Jr turns off the charm and gets real. It’s a fantastic scene.

10) Logan

Cast: Hugh Jackman (Logan, X24), Patrick Stewart (Charles), Boyd Holbrook (Pierce), Stephen Merchant (Caliban), Richard E. Grant (Dr. Rice), Dafne Keen (Laura)

Written by Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green

Directed by James Mangold

When I say Logan is the best X-MEN film I don’t mean that all willy-nilly. X2 and Days Of Future Past are two of my favorite films to just put on whenever. But there’s something different with Logan, something darker, something right. For years we’ve seen a neutered-but-still-awesome Wolverine, sidelined by a PG-13 rating. But Logan is the Wolverine we need/want. His claws slice, dice, they make Julienne fries!….but seriously, it’s a brutal film.

Jackman turns in his best performance as Logan/Wolverine, past his prime, but nonetheless charismatic and sexy (for me anyway). Patrick Stewart gets to loosen up as Professor X this go-round, and bring some levity and humor to what could be a really dark film without it. But the star for me is 12-year-old Dafne Keen as Laura. I can’t say much, but you’ve already seen the previews with her claws….but there’s so much wide-eyed STRANGER THINGS/Eleven-ish curiosity AND fury in this one. I see BIG things for her in the future and her rapport with Jackman is spectacular. This one’s a violent delight with a surprisingly tender heart.

Standout Scene: After the death of Professor Xavier, Logan’s been injured and revived by a kind doctor. He and Lara get back in their car, where Logan thanks her for bringing her to the doctor. The to-this-point silent Lara says “de nada” which sets Logan off and Lara responds with a litany of anger in Spanish, before requesting Logan take her to her friends in North Dakota. Logan tells her that there’s nothing there and the place they’re going to is only something from the comic books about the X-Men. Jackman’s anger and emotion are still fantastic, but he’s met with Keen’s honed acting prowess and it makes for a fantastic scene among an entire film of standout scenes.

9)  It

Cast: Bill Skarsgard (Pennywise), Jaeden Lieberher (Bill Denborough), Sophia Ellis (Beverly Marsh), Finn Wolfhard (Ritchie Tozier), Jeremy Ray Taylor (Ben Hanscom), Wyatt Oleff (Stan Uris), Chosen Jacobs (Mike Hanlon), Jack Dylan Grazer (Eddie Kaspbrak)
Written by Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, Gary Dauberman
Directed by Andy Muschietti

I’m normally not one for horror movies, but I am always down for Stephen King. And his masterwork for many (not me, his best is The Stand by a country mile - fight me.) is It - so expectations were higher than a stoner on 4/20 for this one. And I’m so thrilled to see this film succeed them. After an eternity in development hell, Andy Muschietti has managed to take a 1000+ page novel, split it right down the middle, make an incredible film and leave the gate wide open for its second chapter in 2019. Part source material meets a very Stranger Things-esque update to the 80s (versus the 50s of the novel) mixed with some incredible performances from those playing our Losers Gang. Jaeden Lieberher has a bright career from his turn as our main Loser, Bill Denbrough, whose younger brother Georgie was taken by It less than a year ago. Sophia Ellis also has a starmaking turn as our sole female protagonist, Beverly Marsh, with a craft beyond her years, especially to balance comedy and drama and terror. But the standouts for me come in the one-two comedy punch of Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard as the comedic Ritchie Tozier and Jack Dylan Grazer’s hypochondriac Eddie Kaspbrak. But of course the absolute standout in this is Bill Skarsgard’s terrifying Pennywise. I’m already scared of clowns and this is part of the reason why - the source material. Skarsgard not only manages to differentiate himself from Tim Curry’s fantastically campy 1990 portrayal, he makes this Pennywise far eerier, far more evil and sadistic. It has broken record after record for the right reasons: it’s a thoroughly entertaining film that is truly scary - something films have been missing for a very long time.

Standout Scene: As the Losers Gang begin to match the sewers of their town of Derry up with the streets on an overhead projector, a pattern begins to emerge. When the streets are aligned over the sewers, and matched with the town’s dark and grisly history of disappearances and murders, it’s clear: Pennywise is using the sewers to kidnap many of the town’s children and has been influencing all the dark evil coursing through the town’s proverbial veins. Then something happens. The slide projector the group is using suddenly begins clicking through slides, by itself. We see at the back of one slide, a grainy Pennywise. And as the projector begins to click faster, we see Pennywise coming closer and closer. The gang realizes it and frantically tries to turn the projector off, knocking it over in the process. The screen goes black - and then Pennywise’s true demonic form is scene in full, large detail, coming out of the screen, trying to claw at the Losers. It’s one of the most scariest things I’ve seen, it’s still a jump scare its core but it WORKS.

8) Beauty and the Beast

Cast: Emma Watson (Belle), Dan Stevens (The Beast/The Prince), Luke Evans (Gaston), Josh Gad (LeFou), Kevin Kline (Maurice), Ewan McGregor (Lumiere), Stanley Lucci (Monsieur Cadenza), Audra McDonald (Madame de Gardrobe), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Plumette), Ian McKellen (Cogsworth), Emma Thompson (Mrs. Potts)

Written by Stephen Chbosky, Evan Spiliotopoulos

Directed by Bill Condon

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1991) is my favorite Disney film of all time.

When the “trend” began of reimagining the old classics live action, I’ve been hesitant. MALEFICENT, while many love it, was a big letdown; CINDERELLA was neither here or there for me. But Bill Condon has done wonders with the tale as old as time. He’s taken what we all fell in love with and surprisingly improved on it. We get questions answered: “Where were the Beast’s parents?” “What happened to Belle’s mom?” “Why doesn’t the village DO anything about the castle right next door?"The film is just a marvel, visuals are breathtaking, script is SOUND, man.

Cast is perfect, Emma and Dan have great chemistry and the effects to make the castle come alive are amazing. And to just address this whole mishegas about LeFou — it covers MAYBE 2 minutes of the 2 hr 9 min….so once again conservatives blowing their shit up over nothing…AGAIN. It was just a delight for the eyes and ears, really made me feel like I did the first time I saw the animated film years ago.

Standout Scene: “Evermore.” Oh I COULD say how epic “Be Our Guest” was (and it really was) but this scene was the one moment that wasn’t Belle and EXCELLED LIKE A TRUE 90s DISNEY MOVIE RIGHT DOWN TO THE MUSIC. Dan Stevens’ Beast has just let Belle go to rescue Maurice. This brand new song for this film is the most human we’ve seen the Beast to date. The song really shows the Beast’s true love he has gained for Belle - that she has not returned, yet. Stevens’ performance here is nothing short of magical and it’s just truly fantastic work.

7) Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds

Cast: Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, Todd Fisher, Griffin Dunne (Themselves)
Directed by: Fisher Stevens & Alexis Bloom

2016 sucked, but the end of that horrible year took two of our brightest stars in this galaxy (or any) out of it. So I’m glad that one of the final projects for both the late Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds was this Grey Gardens-esque look into their lives. The documentary shows honestly, for me, why Debbie went so closely after Carrie’s untimely passing. You really get to see Carrie’s love for the fans, Debbie’s love for performing and how they both love each other and are concerned for one another. Fisher Stevens and Alexis Bloom’s film really is a touching love letter from mother to daughter and daughter to mother. It also doesn’t shy away from Carrie’s struggles with sobriety, with Debbie’s age, but it shows that codependency the two had and ultimately why that dependency really took both of them from us at the end of such a horrible year. It’s hilarious and heartwarming, yet real and heartbreaking at the same time, especially with the back-to-back losses in 2016. But it’s truly a wonderful film examining the love between mother and daughter, Hollywood, stardom, age and mortality. It’s SO good and I cannot think of a better lasting tribute for two of Hollywood’s best.

Standout Scene: Carrie and Debbie talk about each others’ careers at length, but probably one scene has stuck with me so much. Vintage home video from Debbie’s nightclub act shows a slightly overbearing/stage managing essentially begging a 15-year-old Carrie to sing “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” While you can marvel at a teenaged Fisher’s voice having the gravitas of Janis Joplin, you hear Carrie narrate “The biggest thing I did that broke my mother’s heart was not do a nightclub act. My mother would said ‘you can do drugs, do whatever you need, but why don’t you sing? That was my big rebellion.” The relationship between Carrie and Debbie was strong up until the end but we can never forget at times it was tumultuous. But you still see the love the two have for each other, especially as Debbie tells us about how Eddie Fisher, Carrie’s father, had an incredible voice, but Carrie didn’t want to be like her father or mother and be herself. As the song ends, we see present-day Debbie tearing up “I love that voice, isn’t that a great voice? Wish I had it!” It’s a beautiful scene, showcasing the raw talent (and honesty, as she reminisces) Fisher had that I and so many miss about her.

6) Call Me By Your Name

Cast: Armie Hammer (Oliver), Timothee Chalamet (Elio), Michael Stuhlbarg (Mr. Perlman), Amira Casar (Annella Perlman), Esther Garrell (Marzia), Victoire du Bois (Chiara)

Written by James Ivory

Directed by Luca Guadagnino

Before I go any further, I want to let you all know I’m a big fan of the book. Because it’s raw sexuality, raw passion. Guadagnino’s film is still a masterpiece in its own right, it just  isn’t the raw intensity of the book. But that’s still ok. Hammer and Chalamet’s chemistry drive this film because it’s their story, their love and passion that light up the screen. It’s still a steamy, passionate and wonderful film with a different perspective, different way to tell a story. It’s probably one of the most successful LGBTQIA films probably since last year’s Oscar winning best picture La La….Moonlight, and probably the most significant romance since Brokeback Mountain. It’s still the same story, done a bit fresher, more independent but still a fantastically simple, sexy story about young love. Seriously if you make it through the ending scene without crying, you’ve got a heart of stone.

Standout Scene: The infamous peach scene is infamous for a reason. But I WILL say what the film accomplishes so well that the book doesn’t is the aftermath. Elio’s lust for Oliver boils over to the point he masturbates into a peach. Yep, ya read that right - MASTURBATED. INTO. A. PEACH. But that’s not why this scene’s on here. Oliver comes in afterwards, finds out what he did, and teases Elio, almost eating the peach. Elio’s shame comes out as Chalamet perfectly portrays the internal struggle Elio has with his sexual orientation and his lust. In the book he eats the peach, but here, Hammer portrays a vulnerable side to a normally invulnerable Oliver, comforting Elio and just holding him It’s simple, powerful and beautiful.

5) Lady Bird

Cast: Saiorse Ronan (Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson), Laurie Metcalf (Marion McPherson), Tracy Letts (Larry McPherson), Lucas Hedges (Danny O’Neill), Timothee Chalamnt (Kyle Scheible), Beanie Feldstein (Julianne “Jules” Steffans), Lois Smith (Sister Sarah Joan)

Written and Directed by Greta Gerwig

It’s so refreshing to see films like this, ones that are so human and tender and remind so many of their own experiences in life. Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut is just beautiful as we follow the life of Lady Bird McPherson, a fiercely independent, brilliant mind living in Sacramento in 2001 and desperate to escape. Saiorse Ronan delivers an incredible performance well beyond her years as the titular main character. But the real praise here is rightfully for Laurie Metcalf as her mother Marion, a strong-willed, micro-managing shrill of a woman. The chemistry and antagonism Ronan and Metcalf’s characters are what fuel a major part of this film but so much of the film just works, especially a phenomenal cast including Tracy Letts as Lady Bird’s well-meaning father, Lucas Hedges and Timothee Chalament as Lady Bird’s potential love interests. It’s just a beautiful portrait of a senior in high school that so many can relate to. The very angsty/artsy nature of Lady Bird herself, the subtle Catholicism, the nudge-winks to the Dotcom bubble bursting, and of course the perils of growing up in high school: first loves and the very scary reality that is your future and legacy. This film is the best reviewed on Rotten Tomatoes in their history and it’s because it’s so relatable, so funny, so tender and human.

Standout Scene: The prom dress scene. Lady Bird has been through a lot at this point: she’s found out her first love, Danny, is a closeted gay, she’s had sex with self-absorbed Kyle and she’s turned on her friend Jules. But she still wants to go to prom, so she’s trying on dresses at the Goodwill with Marion. During this scene, Marion is being her normal overbearing self, and Lady Bird finally says “I don’t think you like me.” And Metcalf’s Marion responds with a brilliant monologue that honestly shows the divide AND the love between mother and daughter. It’s just one of so many incredible scenes in this tour de force, and trust me, it was hard to sum it down to just one.

4) Wonder Woman

Cast: Gal Gadot (Diana Prince/Wonder Woman), Chris Pine (Steve Trevor), Robin Wright (Antiope), Connie Nielsen (Hippolyta), David Thewlis (Sir Patrick Morgan), Danny Huston (General Erich Ludendorff), Elena Anaya (Isabel Maru/Dr. Poison)

Written by Allen Heinberg

Directed by Patty Jenkins

It’s no secret I am a Marvel fan boy through and through. Love the comics, the movies, the TV shows. DC’s forays into the films have only had success for me with Batman. Superman’s reboot was so dark and not what I was expecting. Suicide Squad was fun but not the best. Wonder Woman succeeded on so many levels in so many ways. We all know a female-led film with a female director is automatically (and sexist-ly) going to have their works more in the spotlight, more scrutinized.

But Patty Jenkins produced the best DC universe film to date. Possibly ever. We get Diana’s origin story, we learn things about her. The film’s beautifully shot, Gal Gadot dances circles around her costars, she IS Wonder Woman. And what I think I love most is how we learn a lot about humanity, through Diana’s eyes: our best and worst qualities. It’s a film that is so so needed right now. And the best thing is that it’s a film all young girls can see and be inspired by (and even some of the older but young at heart ones too!). This is one of 2017’s crown jewel because it’s an amazing popcorn fare but with the greatest heart and a beautiful message.

Standout Scene: No Man’s Land. First off can you believe Warner Bros wanted to cut this scene out and Patty Jenkins had to fight to keep it in?! But this is the scene that has inspired countless young women (and young-at-heart) and heroes of any gender, race, creed, orientation. Diana and Steve and their friends make it to the front lines, and after being told “no you can’t” one too many times in so many ways, Diana’s done playing by man’s rules. “No man can cross it” Steve says - and Diana takes her coat off and we see her iconic costume in full for the first time. She dodges bullets, she advances the Allies line and it’s basically just the first badass moment after Jenkins has deftly built the tension nearly an hour. Gal Gadot’s persistence as Diana pays off as she SLAYS this scene and becomes a true hero. It’s inspiring and the effect doesn’t wear off after repeat viewings!

3) The Post

Cast: Meryl Streep (Kay Graham), Tom Hanks (Ben Bradlee), Sarah Paulson (Antoinette “Tony” Pinchott Bradlee), Bob Odenkirk (Ben Bagdikian), Tracy Letts (Fritz Beebe), Bradley Whitford (Arthur Parsons), Bruce Greenwood (Robert McNamara), Matthew Rhys (Daniel Ellsberg), Carrie Coon (Meg Greenfield), Allison Brie (Lally Graham), Jesse Plemons (Roger Clark), David Cross (Howard Simons)

Written by Liz Hannah, Josh Singer

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Every journalism professor and teacher I’ve ever had has continually impressed the importance of the Pentagon Papers as one of the fundamental things that changed public opinion about the Vietnam War. The fight to publish these classified Pentagon documents is on full display here as the Washington Post’s publisher Kay Graham (Streep) and editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks) debate whether or not to publish the Papers, especially in the wake of The New York Times being slapped with a lawsuit from the White House. Streep’s subtleties as Graham play and spar well against Hanks’ Bradlee who is eager to not only publish the story when their competitors cant, but because the story needs to be told. Everyone in this cast excels, not just the two big names of Hanks and Streep. Bob Odenkir’s Ben Bagdikian is a true standout as the reporter to get Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, Bradley Whitford provides a fantastic foil as board member Arthur Parsons and Carrie Coon’s Meg Greenfield is a brilliant female journalist in a man’s world. In an era of “fake news”, we need to be reminded of one thing: Publications serve the governed and NOT the government.

Standout Scene: Obviously the decision to publish is a huge crux of this film. But all eyes are on Kay Graham as publisher to give the go-ahead. Things come to a head when Bradlee finally gets the actual Pentagon Papers, wants to publish but is told no by Fritz Beebe and lawyer Roger Clark. Graham is pulled away from a retirement party for a friend to go on a call with Bradlee, Clark and more. The way Spielberg cuts between Bradlee’s house and Graham’s and subsequently goes overhead, spinning around Graham’s head, as if to give life to the decision and the factors in it. Risk the ire of the Nixon White House, risk bankers pulling out after the newspaper’s public offering and potentially bankrupt the paper. Graham’s heart completely wins out as you see her wrestling with the decision, especially because it will affect her relationship with former defense secretary Robert McNamara, her close friend. Watching Streep as Graham completely realize she needs to do the right thing, no matter what, especially as she says very quickly “You know what? Let’s go.” - you see the agonizing decision clear, especially with the legacy her deceased husband and father have left for the paper and an uncertain future ahead, but the right choice made. It’s brilliant filmmaking.

2) I, Tonya

Cast: Margot Robbie (Tonya Harding), Sebastian Stan (Jeff Gillooly), Allison Janney (LaVonda Fay Golden) Julianne Nicholson (Diane Rawlinson), Paul Walter Hauser (Shawn Eckhardt), Bobby Cannavale (MArtin Maddox)

Written by Steven Rogers

Directed by Craig Gillespie

Period pieces, especially ones re-examining events, our reactions to them, seem to REALLY be in vogue now.

People v OJ, Waco, Versace, The Menendez Brothers.

I, TONYA is more of the same, but the style it’s done in is so unique, so fantastic and one of a kind that it’s one of the best films of the year. Margot Robbie just completely nails Tonya Harding - to the point it’s almost like watching Sarah Paulson’s Marcia Clark. We feel for Tonya. Yes, she’s white trash but listening to her story, her upbringing, it’s all she knew, and she leaned into it. BUT she definitely had a gift, I mean FIRST woman to ever do a triple axel correctly on ice!?

This is definitely Tonya’s story, it’s a shot to try and redeem her in the public eye, much like People v OJ did for Marcia Clark. Robbie excels so much in showing us what Tonya’s life is, what the "incident” did to her and how it completely obliterated her skating career and public perception.

But it’s not just her why the movie succeeds. Sebastian Stan’s Jeff Gillooly is so perfectly wrong in the worst way. Abusive and shrewd as hell. Stan and Robbie play so well off each other, you still wonder why Tonya and Jeff continued to make attempts to be together when they were like gasoline and a match And then there’s Allison Janney.  Her performance as LaVona, Tonya’s conniving, manipulative mother is hilarious and heartbreaking. This might net her an Oscar for the first time for ALL the right reasons. She steals every scene she’s in.

The film’s a solid 6.0 (that’s an OLD figure skating reference for you) - funny as hell, impeccably made with a soundtrack that is so perfect for the vibe. Go see this one, and see what you think about Tonya Harding after this.

Standout Scene: After the news has come out that Jeff and Shawn were involved in the attack and that Tonya may have known about it, the press are trying to get any and everything on Tonya. Tonya has moved out and away from Jeff, when she learns he did it, and in a surprise, LaVona has come to voice her support, and that she’s on Tonya’s side. Tonya listens to her mom, goes in for a hug as LaVona asks “Did you know anything about what happened?” And it’s here Robbie’s Tonya has caught on to her mother’s ways, and searches her purse, finding a tape recorder (we’ve previously seen LaVona taking to her newfound fame with a red velvet rope with the press near her home). Tonya rounds on her and throws her out of her apartment, much to the delight of press camped outside. LaVona says “no comment” but it’s clear that the relationship, fraught with difficulties, is over. It’s devastating but done incredibly.  

1) Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

Cast: Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (General Leia Organa), Daisy Ridley (Rey), Adam Driver (Ben Solo/Kylo Ren), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Andy Serkis (Supreme Leader Snoke), Laura Dern (Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo), Lupita N’yongo (Maz Kanata), Domnhall Gleeson (General Hux), Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma), Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Benicio del Toro (DJ)

Written and Directed by Rian Johnson

Once again, the sequel trilogy is the crown jewel of the year for film. Once again I put a STAR WARS film at the top, and people ask me if I’ve let my fanboy bias cloud true and rational judgment. And I continually say: NO! The sequel trilogy continues to not only be a colossal mega-money machine, but films that are visually beautiful, emotionally touching, funny, thrilling and continuing to expand the mythos of our favorite series. Rian Johnson, who devastated us with Breaking Bad’s “Ozymandias” episode and has dazzled audiences with Looper, has taken the franchise into bold uncharted territory and it just feels right. We still continue the journey of our band of rebels, now split up across the galaxy. Finn (John Boyega) is working with Resistance mechanic Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) on something, Poe (Oscar Isaac) is facing off against Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern in a FANTASTIC role), and Rey (Daisy Ridley) is trying to convince one Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to come out of hiding. Meanwhile the First Order is trying to eradicate the Resistance and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is trying to turn Rey to the dark side. Everyone succeeds here - there really is no weak link in the chain, but this Mark Hamill’s picture at its core, with Hamill turning in his finest performance ever as our Jedi hero. Special note has to be given as well to newcomer Kelly Marie Tran, this is her first movie and she made Rose a complete standout in this masterpiece. And what kind of super fan would I be if I didn’t hail our princess one last time? Carrie Fisher as Leia in this does things we could only ever dream of before. I can’t say much else without spoilers, but the themes feel so powerful, so real in our society today and yet they still continue to provide hope for us, for the galaxy far, far away that good will always overcome evil and we must continue to fight for what we love.

Standout Scene: I can’t really spoil much, and I don’t want to. This film deserves to be seen unspoiled. But we all know by now (OR WE SHOULD) about Luke’s issues with Kylo and why Luke’s hiding. Rey does ask Luke about this, and the scene I’m talking about is Hamill as Luke confronting his failures, a huge theme Johnson has put into this film, not just for Luke. The scene may have Daisy Ridley reacting and a flashback with Driver as Kylo, but this is Hamill’s scene, and honestly perhaps Luke’s most important moment in the entire film, nay, the entire saga. This is Luke realizing he messed up and has to live with that for the rest of his life.

‘Power Rangers’ is surprisingly more about characters than action

I don’t want to oversell this, but the new “Power Rangers” movie is actually kind of good. It is by no means a masterpiece, but it is made with more care than was necessary and is surprisingly earnest.

The original “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” series, a re-purposing of the Japanese show “Super Sentai,” debuted in 1993. “Super Sentai” featured super-powered humans who would do battle with various monsters. Inevitably, these fight escalated to giant robots versus giant monsters.

“Power Rangers” re-framed this footage with a teen show in the mode of “Saved By the Bell.” The formula proved successful and is still going strong with new spin-offs every couple years.

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