The Verdict On Honest Thief: Is It Worth Watching??

With so many big tent pole movies getting shoved off to be released god knows when or reduced to a measly direct to streaming service, my local theater could only offer re-showings of classic films or whatever slim pickings were left to put up. Usually, I know about movies years in advance due to my diligent research but lesser, small-sized films tend to slip through my radar and I end up not knowing much about them when they come out. This year, I barely knew anything about the majority of the movies being released; to the point, I didn’t even watch their trailers and decided to roll the dice and go in blind without knowing anything about the film. “Honest Thief” was my first experiment with that and thankfully, it proved to pay off in the end.

Tom Dolan (Liam Neeson) goes by the name “The In and Out bandit.” Over the course of several years, Tom has successfully stolen 9 million dollars from small-time banks and has never been caught or identified. But now he’s decided to turn himself into the FBI. He’s found love in Annie (Kate Walsh) and wishes to confess and be an honest man spending the rest of his free life with her once he’s released from prison. Unfortunately, things get complicated when he tries to turn himself over to two FBI agents (Jai Courtney and Anthony Ramos) and they end up double-crossing him and trying to kill him so they can keep the full 9 million for themselves. Now Tom is on the run with the FBI thinking he’s fleeing from FBI custody and has to prove his name before he and Annie end up locked up or worse.

Some people go into films with high expectations and some go in with very low expectations, and then you get the people who have zero expectations and just plan to walk in and see what happens without even knowing what the movie is about. Normally that latter strategy is one I avoid as I feel it’s important to know what I’m putting my money into before committing to it. “Honest Thief” feels like another run of the mill Neeson lead action flick where he runs around being a middle-aged badass; proving to be a modern Stallone/Schwarzenegger style star when most of those guys were pulling back when they were Neeson’s age. In some ways, this film is pretty predictable for Neeson’s standard fare, but with slim to zero expectations, I found myself really enjoying this film even though there wasn’t anything truly special here.

Similar to how Disney’s “The Mandalorian” approaches storytelling, they take a very simple bare-bones concept and make it work with its stellar characters, writing, and action sequences. “Honest Thief” is by no means on “Mandalorian’s” level but the same principle stands: sometimes simple works and that can make for an entertaining film without being overly complicated. Once Neeson goes to turn himself in, everything goes up in the air and the film launches into a tense, continuously amped up thriller that manages to remain low key but still gripping and surprising. Nothing is grand or outrageously wild but the gravitas and emotional weight of Neeson’s story and performance carry the heart and weight of the film effortlessly.

It was a cat and mouse game juggling different lives and characters; constantly keeping you guessing when the other shoe will drop and how it will play out. The chemistry with the FBI agents felt natural, chaotic, and understandable; they played off each other and Neeson well. Though some characters (and most of the people who’ve seen the film) trivialize the aspect of someone turning their lives around for love, I found this to be a very sweet and simple, honest, and effective motivator for the events that played out. I’m genuinely pleased to see people still acknowledging that love is not a cliché but a meaningful component of our lives and stories. Kate Walsh was adorable and I loved her onscreen, my biggest problem comes from her romance with Neeson felt rushed and I don’t feel she or Robert Patrick got enough respectable screen time.

Overall, “Honest Thief” was a pleasant surprise I was happy to be blindsided by. A lot of how it plays out is by the numbers and certain areas get rushed where they should have taken their time, but the quality of the tension, action, and pace kept the movie from being anything but boring. Neeson kills it as always; never delivers a bad performance, Courtney makes a great villain and the simple but sweet story works just enough to make this an enjoyable experience despite the bumps along the way.

I give “Honest Thief” 2 ½ stars out of 4.

FilmCentral Magazine’s Top 12 Rising Actors Of The Year

It’s definitely inspirational to look back at how some of the world’s most successful actors got started on their journey to success. Achieving sustained success in the entertainment industry is extremely difficult, but these 12 inspiring individuals have definitely earned the bragging rights.

Some of these actors have taken big risks to build their brands but now they’re reaping what they sowed. And, in establishing these amazing careers, they have flourished and turned themselves into some of the most sought-after people in their field. But who are they? So without further ado let’s get to know these 12 rising actors who had to claw their way to the top.

Kayleigh-Paige Rees

Breakout actress Kayleigh-Paige Rees stars in the upcoming coming-of-age drama “Faulty Roots.” The plot of the movie revolves around two teens with different genetic conditions who are forced to form a friendship. Rees is set to play the lead character of Lola, a teen diagnosed with depression. If she looks familiar you’re right, she recently played the role of Julia Beaufort in the ITV/PBS primetime period drama ‘Sanditon’, adapted from an unfinished manuscript by Jane Austen, and as Ann in the indie feature ‘Ann Rolls Green’. Kayleigh-Paige also has her own popular podcast ‘Real Talk with Kayleigh’ and she has over 10,000 followers on Instagram.

Joy Osmanski

Joy Osmanski, the alluring, graceful and jovial actor, dancer and mother of three has established herself as one of Hollywood’s hardest-working entertainers with her new series “Stargirl” (recently renewed for a second season) now streaming with new episodes every Monday on the DC Universe streaming app, as well as Tuesdays, on The CW. Joy can also be seen in FOX’s newest Animation Domination series “Duncanville,” which has already been renewed for a second season.

Earning stellar reviews from Rotten Tomatoes, The New York Times, and Collider, the action-packed DC Universe & CW’s “Stargirl” has won the hearts of superhero fanatics, and viewers across the country. Joy portrays the infamous villainess ‘Paula Brooks,” aka Tigress. Best known for her skills in hand-to-hand combat and extensive weapons background, ‘Tigress’ is one of DC Universe’s deadliest non-superpower villains. CW’s “Stargirl” tells the story of high school sophomore ‘Courtney Whitmore,’ who discovers a powerful cosmic staff. After learning that her stepfather Pat Dugan used to be a hero sidekick, she becomes the inspiration for a new generation of superheroes. The new hard-hitting superhero drama also includes Luke Wilson, Amy Smart, and Brec Bassinger.

“Duncanville” centers around the life of ‘Duncan Harris’ (Poehler) an average 15-year-old boy, who is always one step away from making a bad decision. Along with Duncan lives his mom ‘Annie’ (Poehler), a parking enforcement officer, who dreams of being a detective someday and always has to watch Duncan, his dad ‘Jack; (Burrell), who tries to be a better father figure to Duncan than his father was to him, his sister Kimberly (Lindhome), who is a normal teenager going through normal teen-phases, and his other adopted sister Jing (Osmanski). ‘Jing’ is also known as the moral compass of the family at 5 years old.

Born in South Korea, and brought to the United States when she was adopted at a young age by her American parents, Joy had a drive and appreciation for the arts from the age of 3 when she began ballet lessons in her hometown of Olympia, Washington. From the very beginning of school, Joy was moved up from kindergarten to first grade after a few weeks and would be hyper-competitive academically throughout her entire school career. After taking multiple college courses in her senior year of high school, Joy would continue on to university at Principia College and graduate within 3 years with a degree in creative writing and studio art. She would then begin her career as a graphic designer and moved to Boston. After a year on the east coast, Joy moved to San Francisco where she created her own graphic design company. Having continued to dance through both high school and college, Joy continued to work on her ballet and dance skills and would book professional gigs on the side. After seeing a notice for auditions for a local production of “Our Town,” and missing her performing arts side, she auditioned for the play and was cast in the lead role. Following her performance, Joy auditioned and received her MFA from UC San Diego, one of the top three professional actor training programs in the country. After relocating to Los Angeles, with her husband Corey Brill, Joy has continued worked steadily in theater, television, and film, booking roles in hit projects including FOX’s “The Loop,” Netflix’s “Santa Clarita Diet,” Freeform’s “The Fosters, FIRED UP, and ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE SQUEAKQUEL, to name a few.

Mahdi Cocci

Atlanta-based actor and model Mahdi Cocci currently stars in the new BET+ series “Bruh,” a 30-min comedy series from powerhouse producer Tyler Perry which celebrates black male brotherhood. Cocci is also co-starring in the Netflix romantic comedy feature The Lovebirds opposite Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani.

His BET+ series “Bruh” examines the contemporary world of dating, career, and friendship through the lens of four African American men with a brother-like bond. ‘Tom’ (Cocci), ‘John’, ‘Mike’ and ‘Bill’ are four college friends now in their thirties. Tom is a doctor with lady problems, but he is also the glue that holds the group together. As they navigate life, they are learning to stand on their own two feet, while relying on each other for support. Sometimes the love is tough, and the honesty brutal, but no matter the situation they see each other through with levity and laughter. In a society where companionship between men of color is often misjudged and misrepresented, the show depicts a healthy image of black brotherhood, embracing vulnerability without playing on stereotypical hyper-masculinity.

The Lovebirds is a new rom-com from Paramount/Netflix that tells the story of couple ‘Jibran’ (Kumail) and ‘Leilani’ (Issa), who on the brink of breaking up, get unintentionally embroiled in a bizarre murder mystery. As they get closer to clearing their names and solving the case, they need to figure out how they, and their relationship, can survive the night. Cocci portrays ‘Keith,’ a potential love interest to Leilani who gets in the way of her relationship with Jibran.

Cocci was born in Minneapolis, MN, and was raised by his mother, Stephanie. Education was always emphasized growing up, and Mahdi earned a full Navy ROTC scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh. He put his burgeoning modeling career on hold to serve as an officer in the Navy upon graduation. After serving honorably, Mahdi shifted gears and pursued a career in acting. His first professional credit was earned on the TV series, Dynasty, in 2018, and soon followed by roles on other network shows, including The Gifted, The Resident, MacGyver, and more! He currently resides in Atlanta, GA, where he works tirelessly to build his career.

Bahara Golestani

Multi-faceted actor Bahara Golestani is definitely the new fresh face to watch on the new season of NBC’s smash hit series “This Is Us.” A graduate of the world-renowned Stella Adler Academy of Acting & Theatre, Golestani is best known for her roles in TNT’s “Animal Kingdom,” Jason Koch-directed indie film Beneath The Black Veil and Michael Bay’s blockbuster film 6 Underground.

Sloane Siegel

Charismatic and multi-talented television and film actor, Sloane Siegel (Amazon’s Emmy-nominated “Gortimer Gibbons Life on Normal Street”) returns to television yet again, leading as “Dwight,” opposite Caitlin Carmichael (Life Itself) and Joel McCrary (American Beauty) in the third season of “Dwight in Shining Armor,” (Season 4 coming soon) the hilarious, campy family adventure-comedy.

Recently picked up for seasons 3 & 4, Sloane plays “Dwight,” a modem, 21st-century teen, while taking photographs in the forest, accidentally falls face-first into an ancient, underground chamber, and lands on ‘Gretta’ (Carmichael) a medieval sleeping princess, planting a kiss on her and waking up not only her and her loyal court magician, ‘Baldric’ (McCrary) but all of the medieval villains that have been asleep like her for the past 1000 years. Together, the trio must defeat her hordes of enemies.

Born in Washington, DC, and raised on a Rescue Farm in West Virginia, Sloane began his career dancing hip hop but made the transition to acting at age eight after a chance casting call. At 10, he came to Hollywood to pursue his dreams and just 2 short years later, Sloane booked his best-known role as “Gortimer” in AMAZON’s award-winning “Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street”. He has been awarded the Best Actor Award as the Lead in a TV Series by the Young Artists Awards 3 years in a row, has earned the Best Leading Young Actor in TV Award from the Young Entertainer Awards, and has won 16 awards through the film festival circuit. Audiences may also recognize Sloane from dozens of appearances on other top shows including CBS’ “Pure Genius,” & “Partners,” ABC’s “Modern Family,” and NICKELODEON’s “Big Time Rush.”

Carlo Arrechea

Sizzling hot Havana, Cuba-born bilingual actor Carlo Arrechea is a star on the rise in Hollywood, recently making his U.S. prime time debut in the CBS hit TV series S.W.A.T. where he portrayed ‘Gio Torres’, a middleweight Cuban boxer, aka “The Caribbean King.” In the series, Torres is a prizefighter set to win a huge upcoming match when his pregnant wife is kidnapped and held for ransom. He enlists the S.W.A.T. team and works with them to retrieve his wife right in time for the delivery of their first child. The heartfelt role has garnered him much media attention and was one that was especially significant to him as it tied back to his Cuban roots.

A third-generation actor, Arrechea’s career began at the age of 6 when he played the son to his biological mother in a telenovela in his home country of Cuba. He fell in love with the craft and was selected as one of the stars of the children’s show “Los Chicos Altura” (“The High Kids”). In 2002 his family moved to Miami when he was 12 years old and he faced a culture shock that made him rethink acting. He decided to study psychology in college but dropped out after only one semester to return to his true passion. It was during this time that he got into theater and started receiving a lot of attention for his stage performances including “El Solar de la Palangana de Oro” by Raúl de Cárdenas, a work that opened many doors for him and earned him press coverage as the “new face of acting” by People en Español.

From theater, he jumped into television where he began with small roles in well-known Telemundo and Univision telenovelas such as “Más saber el diablo”, “El Cartel 2” and “Alguien te Mira”. He also starred in two short films, “Fate’s Decree” directed by Michael Ruiz and the super production “El Manantial”, with renowned Sam Bradley as director. His career thus began to roll, and his name to be known on the Miami scene. Not long after he was cast in the successful Nickelodeon Latin America series “Grachi” which he starred in for three seasons (152 episodes). It was during this time that he also starred in his first leading film role in the romantic comedy LA REBÚSQUEDA, the highest-grossing Salvadoran film in the country’s history.

After his success in Latin America, Arrechea decided to move to Los Angeles to begin his crossover into the U.S. market. Throughout his acting career, he has starred in several television commercials, including the Johnnie Walker campaign which toasts to immigrants and highlights their grueling path towards citizenship. He is a member of SAG-AFTRA and is an alumnus of the Stella Adler Academy of Acting. As a Cuban-born actor, Arrechea has always looked up to the original Latin Comedy star Desi Arnaz and a dream role for him would be to reprise the role of ‘Ricky Ricardo’ in a comedy series or film.

In his free time, Arrechea enjoys reading, meditating, and exercising, and sees every day the opportunity to grow and improve in all aspects. He also enjoys volunteering for The Ronald McDonald House, where he feeds, plays games, and speaks with children and parents who have seriously ill children or family members in the hospital.

Kirsty Mckenzie

Kirsty Mckenzie is an actress, with Scottish blood, causing mischief in Sydney with an accent that no one can place. She was originally supposed to be a veterinarian – possibly even a surgeon/doctor or a scientist. However, starting her adventure in Sydney changed all of her plans, and she has never looked back.

After literally stumbling onto the set of Mad Max Fury Road as a featured extra, she discovered a world of creativity and limitless imagination and she has been hooked on film ever since. She has won acting awards (Best Actress for Rearview and Best Supporting Actress for Brainless Killers), completed two indie feature films, survived as a lead in a Shakespeare stage play and she’s even had her ass kicked in stunt and fight training (more than once). Through it all, she has been rejected, she has been accepted, and she’s made the most incredible friends and have experienced things she never thought possible while constantly being amazed at opportunities she didn’t think existed.

What she lacks in skill, she makes up with an endless tenacity and a thirst for knowledge (as well as a dark sense of humour). She has been so incredibly lucky in her acting career and she’s grateful to all of those who have been part of the adventure thus far.

Anis Maknojia

Anis Maknojia’s road to success didn’t start with glamour and glitz. It started in Texas, built on a lifetime of hard work, and overcoming personal hardship.

Anis grew up in oil-centric Houston, the son of Indian immigrants. Throughout his childhood, his parents worked hard to provide for their family through their retail business. Anis soon worked with them, taking the time to become an alum at the University of Houston. Eventually, he took over the business, allowing his parents to retire.

Anis has always been interested in photography. He began to take photographs, as a way to express his emotions, as a way to let the pain out. Framing an image became an escape from the hopelessness and depression. Like a bright flash lighting the shadows, the art form became the spark, igniting the path to his future.

In late 2019 and early 2020, he completed numerous advertising projects, supporting Mercedes-Benz, Don Julio Tequila, and Armani Code.

With the mission statement, ‘We are stronger together,’ Land Ahoy! Films were formed at the beginning of 2019. Land Ahoy! aims to showcase multicultural talent from around the world and to bring up-and-coming creators together to create inspiring and thought-provoking works of art. Anis calls the company an extension of his passion for photography, this time with moving pictures and the birth of his desire to become an actor and produce films.

Collaborating with Phoenix 4 Productions and Land Ahoy!, Anis starred as Tony in the short crime drama Artifice while also taking on the responsibilities of executive producer. He pursued the lead role because he saw an opportunity to bring an unexpected quality – his race – to what could have been a cookie-cutter presentation.

Anis is the executive producer for Breathe, which is currently in post-production. The short film connects several stories exploring the darker side of drugs, violence, and religion, again he takes the lead role in the film. Additionally, the two companies are currently in pre-production for With Intere$t, a short film following a mob debt collector into his rising interest in stand-up comedy. Anis will both act in and executive produce the project.

Besides being passionate about creating art, Anis is an advocate for animal rights, world poverty and climate change, LGBTQ rights, and more diversity in film. He holds mental health awareness and finding a cure for multiple sclerosis close to his heart because he has family and friends who suffer from these issues.

Jason Collett

Breakout movie star Jason Collett makes a statement in the upcoming star-packed midwestern gothic drama THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME opposite Tom Holland, Haley Bennett, Robert Pattinson, Bill Skarsgård, Jason Clarke, and Riley Keough, written and directed by Antonio Campos (THE SINNER). Collett is also featured in HBO’s hit series “Watchman” in the episode “This Extraordinary Being” episode, the critically acclaimed episode which was just nominated for eight Emmy awards.

Collett has been acting on film and stage for over 15 years and is also a trained stunt professional. His appearances in television include HBO’s “Watchmen,” in an episode that was just nominated for eight Emmy awards, he’s also appeared HBO’s “Hung,” and NBC’s “Chuck.” His film credits include “Stay at Condor Beach,” the action-thriller “Military State,” and the faith-based film “Inheritance”, starring alongside legendary actor Robert Miano. Jason also played the lead role of Jamie Nabozny in the documentary “Bullied: A Student, A School, and a Case That Made History” for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance program. Jason has studied under some of the most influential teachers in Hollywood, including Alice Carter, Joseph Pearlman, Robert D’Avanzo, Sandra Merril, and Sara Mornell.

Collett has extensive stunt experience and has trained in pole climbing, weapons, hand-to-hand fighting, pratfalling, bungee harness, high falling, and ATV riding. Some of his stunt experience has helped him not only in the acting industry, but he has also dressed up as Spider-Man to visit local children’s refugee camps outside of Atlanta, his current hometown, to help bring some simple joy to the children who need it most.

Melissa L. Williams

Having already made waves on BET’s currently #1 ranked new scripted series “The Oval” with dual roles, breakout star Melissa L. Williams, who has quickly become Tyler Perry’s new muse, is now set to lead Perry’s spin-off series “Ruthless,” as the title character Ruth Truesdale on BET’s new streaming platform, BET Plus, out now.

“The Oval,” tells the story of a family placed in the White House by people of power while also highlighting the personal side and everyday lives of the staff who run the inner workings of the nation’s most iconic residence. On the new hit series, Melissa portrays twin sisters ‘Denise’ and ‘Ruth,’ polar opposite roles, both with their own agenda.

Perry’s spin-off series “Ruthless” follows Ruth Truesdale as she’s forced to play nice with a scandalous religious cult of powerful sex-crazed fanatics in the hopes of freeing herself and her daughter. Williams stars opposite Stephanie Charles (“The Paynes”), Anthony Bless (“Tyler Perry’s Sistas”) and Bobbi Baker James (“House of Payne”).

Melissa actually grew up in Oklahoma City as the oldest of six and utilized her family holiday gatherings to put together and star in her own talent shows. A natural performer from an early age, she set out to do as much local theater as she could find in Oklahoma City, eventually heading to Clark University in Atlanta for college to study theater. Williams joined the CAU Players, the University’s drama club, which puts on various productions yearly ranging from classical works, musical works, children’s productions, and one-act play festivals. Melissa starred as Carmen in F.A.M.E. during her time in the CAU Players. Even after finishing her degree, she went to get additional technical training so that he could produce projects herself and applied it to several music videos she produced when she moved to LA.

Tonya Cornelisse

To say that actress and writer Tonya Cornelisse has had an illustrious career in theatre, film, and television is an understatement. From acting in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf on Broadway, to winning the audience award for her writing at Sundance, to working along with such notable talent as Philip Seymour Hoffman, Nick Cassavettes, Riley Keough, and Kelly AuCoin, Cornelisse has worked in over 40 films big and small. The award-winning actress can now be seen in NBC Peacock’s new comedy series “Hitmen” (SKY ONE) alongside the British comedy duo Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins (“The Great British Breaking Show”) which the New York Times has just included in their “Watching” newsletter as a must-see (“Hitmen” is currently streaming). She also co-stars in the 2020 Sundance FF feature film MOPE, currently streaming on VOD and is also set to co-star alongside Juliette Lewis and Christina Ricci in the upcoming Showtime series “Yellowjackets”.

“Hitmen” is the latest comedy series that NBC’s Peacock has acquired from overseas, and the UK dark comedy mixes pitch-black humor with rapid, dry banter between the all-star duo of Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins who star as professional hitmen ‘Jaime’ and ‘Fran’ respectively. Cornelisse stars as the gravel-voiced, ultra-intense American rival ‘Liz’ whom lesbian ‘Fran’ is smitten with. ‘Liz’ occasionally drops by the duo in her hitman-esque black SUV to keep their beef going and to fluster ‘Fran’. The show’s six episodes are each structured around an individual kill and find their comedy in the workaday tedium of contract killing, from debating who is the sexiest character in The Lion King to pranking fellow hired guns. The series has been praised by critics, with The AV Club saying “This tonal fusion of slapstick silliness and wry heart is a welcome re-imagining of the lady assassin trope, which often demands that an anti-heroine look impossibly hot as she pulls a trigger and affects a constant, unflappable cool even in the most dire circumstances.” The series is currently streaming on NBC’s Peacock.

The 2020 Sundance Film Festival indie film MOPE is the true-crime story of the 2010 salacious and gruesome murder of Herbert Hin Wong by his best friend and colleague Steven Clancy Hill by samurai sword on a pornography set. The two friends worked as “mopes” on porn productions – someone willing to do the most degrading acts in the industry – with dreams of one-day becoming stars. Cornelisse stars as the female lead in the film, a porn star named ‘Tampa’. MOPE examines the psychology behind such a bizarre and twisted event and where it goes leaves you rattled. The upcoming Showtime series “Yellowjackets” follows the survivors of a plane crash deep in the Ontario wilderness – both in the immediate aftermath of the disaster and decades later. Created by Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson (“Narcos: Mexico” and “The Originals”) the series also co-stars Juliette Lewis and Christina Ricci and will air on Showtime.

Born in NYC and raised in Michigan, Cornelisse fell in dance at a young age, ultimately taking center stage as a ballerina for the Chicago Ballet’s Jr. Dance Company. Growing up in a family that believed in taking many extracurricular activities, she began taking drama and when asked by her teacher to pick a play to act out, she decided on The Odd Couple with her in the leading Jack Lemmon role. The acting bug had a bit, and before she knew it, at the age of 16 she was admitted by early action to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where she went on to double major in Psychology. In three short years, Cornelisse found herself working Off-Broadway with some of the best in New York including Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Alan Arkin, and Thomas Sadowski. She also understudied in the Broadway revival of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, performed in a handful of indie feature films, and won “Best Supporting Actress” at the prestigious Humana Festival at The Actor’s Theatre of Louisville. Her career in film began taking off and she decided to move to Los Angeles where she also began focusing on writing. Soon after the move, her comedic short film DOG LOVERS that she wrote, produced, and starred in, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, ultimately taking home the short film award and earning her a deal with FOX Searchlight Digital.

Cornelisse then booked a co-starring role in Nick Cassavetes’ indie dramedy feature YELLOW alongside Riley Keough, Sienna Miller, Melanie Griffith, and Ray Liotta which went on to compete at TIFF and SXSW, winning the audience award at the latter. Next came a role alongside Sofia Vergara and Andy Garcia in the feature film BENT, as well as tv roles in hit shows such as “Parks and Recreation”, “Scandal”, “How to Get Away with Murder”, and Amazon’s “Catastrophe”. Beyond acting, she is an active writer having written two animated projects and two pilots during quarantine alone. She is also a writer, producer, and sketch comedian for the half-hour digital sketch comedy series “The Homemade Sketch Show” which was just picked up to series by Tubi TV.

Photo Credit: Bobby Quillard

Alberto Zeni

Mexican-born actor Alberto Zeni has just made his way to the small screen in the second season of Netflix’s crime drama “Narcos: Mexico.” Heis starring alongside Diego Luna (Gallardo), Scoot McNairy (the narrator), and Teresa Ruiz (Bautista).

It has been over a year since the Season 1 release of “Narcos: Mexico”, which effectively shifted the long-running drug cartel drama into new territory. The first season of “Narcos: Mexico”, was the fourth season of “Narcos” overall and it reset the Netflix series when it traveled back to 1980s Mexico to show the birth of the Guadalajara cartel and trace the origins of the Mexican drug war, beginning at the time when Mexican traffickers were a loose and disorganized confederation of small-time independent cannabis growers and dealers.

Born in Monterrey, Mexico, Alberto first caught the acting bug when he was 14 years old while working for Parque Plaza Sesamo in his hometown of Monterrey, Mexico; a family-friendly destination with a Sesame Street theme featuring rides, games and a water park. Singing, dancing, and playing characters at the park wasn’t his only direction as he had goals of becoming an inventor and even received a degree in Engineering.

After completing his studies, Alberto continued working in the entertainment industry starring in telenovelas such as “Hoy Soy Nadie,” “Trillizas de Colores,” “Bajo el Alma,” “XY. La Revista” and the web series “Vidas Cruzadas” starring Kate del Castillo.

It wasn’t until his mid-twenties, where he decided to make a drastic change, pack up his bags and move to Los Angeles, CA to continue his acting journey. While in LA, Alberto immersed himself in the craft – training in the Meisner Technique and teaching himself English.

The Verdict On Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Is It Worth Watching??

2020 has been a miserable, horrible year and one section that has been struck with countless complications and delays in the movie industry. With so many big titles sidelined to streaming services or just getting outright pushed back further and further, there have been very few pieces of cinematic scraps for theatergoers to appreciate and attend. The world needed a pick me up and bad. Luckily for us and much to our surprise, Sacha Baron Cohen had secretly filmed and completed a sequel to his polarizing persona, Borat; entitled “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.” Very few knew this film had been made and its release on Amazon Prime took everyone by surprise. Despite his crass signature brand of humor, Cohen’s resurrection of his iconic 2006 role may be just the comedic shot in the arms everyone quarantined at home needed.

This time around, Borat returns to America with his daughter Tutar Sagdiyev (Maria Bakalova) in hopes of offering her as a “marriage gift/proposal” to Mike Pence in order to improve his image with his homeland country of Kazakhstan. What transpires is Borat’s return to the public eye and learning to adjust and foster his unique brand of comedy/public exploration skills in a world ravaged by a pandemic, a presidential house rife with controversy and all around; trying to bring a few smiles and laughs in a movie that no one asked for, but turns out, we all actually needed.

“Borat,” much like Cohen’s specific brand of humor, is an acquired taste, to say the least. His polarizing characters have generated controversy and comedy alike and this new film is no exception to either. While most of the gross-out nudity and sexual humor from the first film is still present, it’s been toned down quite a bit and successfully uses it without relying on shock value to deliver the brunt of the gags. Most of the “story” relies on hitting on-point political and social issues that have been dominating our society since Trump became president, and have since escalated in wake of the all-consuming pandemic crisis. Never have the jokes hit more perfectly nor have they felt so deliciously well-timed than in this gloriously immature sequel. To even speak or describe most of the film’s side-splitting jokes would ruin the punchline and dampen the enjoyable experience for anyone curious to give this film a much-needed look.

Even one of the most well-known characteristics of the character of Borat (mocking/fearing the Jewish community) is given a serious and more respectful lens by the film’s end, which is something I was not expecting in the slightest. The standout scene-stealer is actually not Cohen himself but his “daughter.” A newcomer to the scene who has remarkable comedic timing and creates an absurd and amusingly occasionally touching dynamic with Cohen in some of the most unusual daughter-father bonding moments. But really, it’s the wild reaction and ugliness in certain circles that Cohen exposes that really amplifies the humor and awareness in our society; even during times as stressful as these does this prove how effective humor can be.

My only slight criticism would be the slight feeling of having the father/daughter issue being forced for the sake of making a cohesive story seem sensible. The original Borat film made no effort to disguise the film as anything else than Cohen in a costume and weird accent obtaining wild reactions on tape. Even when the original film did try and craft a story, it was always and rightfully sidelined for the physical and adult humor you expect and hope to see. At times the story elements can feel so absurd (as intended) that their earnest take on it works to the film’s advantage, but sometimes, it drags on too long and lingers a bit more than it needs to be. You should always stick to your talents and not strive to be something else, especially when you’re making a mockumentary parody film from a character from over 15 years ago.

Overall, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” is an early Christmas present that the world can and should enjoy if you happen to have the means of seeing it. All of the flaws and fumbles of the original film have been toned down or updated with far better, more on point relevant humor that perfectly encapsulates people’s collective thoughts regarding this year’s disastrous turnout. It hits practically every mark, reflecting so much back at us through an ingeniously crafted comedic lens and even manages to grow and expand beyond the limitations of its predecessor. The sappy family story didn’t need as much attention as it thought it did but it’s a minor gripe at best. Love Cohen, hate him, trash his movies; whatever you want, this one is no joke.

I give “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” 3 stars out of 4.

Editorial credit: Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com

Meet The Man Behind The Latest Issue Of FilmCentral Magazine: Deven Powers Aka Mr. Hollywood

Born Deven Lavale Purifoy on February 27th, 1983 in San Bernardino California; Deven Powers aka “Mr. Hollywood” is the 10th child out of 14 children. His father was a pastor and his mother is an amazing gospel singer. Deven started playing the drums at just 9 years of age, and at the age of 13, he was given his very first drum set by a member of the legendary Gap Band. At age 13, he also became California’s state drummer in his church congregation. When he became a freshman at Rancho Verde High School in the city of Moreno Valley, California, Deven joined the marching band which eventually went on to win several championships.

Fast forward to today, Deven Powers aka “Mr. Hollywood” is currently the host of the LA Live Film Festival from 2018 through to 2020. He’s also the founder and CEO of the Black Film Festival in Los Angeles. When it comes to the high life, Deven is definitely living up to it, hence you can catch him on the cover of High Lyfe Magazine’s highly anticipated Hollywood issue. When Deven’s not gracing the cover of magazines or hosting red carpet events, he’s hosting the “Mr. Hollywood TV show” which airs on AT & T, channel 99 in U-Verse, and channel 32 in Charter Spectrum.

FilmCentral Magazine recently caught up with Mr. Hollywood to discuss his journey in the entertainment industry and here’s what went down:

Can you tell us more about yourself? How did you get started in the entertainment industry?

My name is Deven “Mr. Hollywood” Powers, I was born and raised in Southern California and my father was a pastor and my mother is a Legendary Gospel Singer. I got my start in the entertainment industry doing ‘extra’ work in Hollywood for various TV shows, movies, and commercials.

What do you like most about acting?

I love the challenge of jumping into different roles.

How different is it to act in a movie and to act in a TV series? And which one do you prefer?

Well, it’s very different. You see, acting on a TV series is more on the spot with less time to prepare and get into character… In movies, you have more time to prepare and practice the script and perfect the character to nail the scene spot on. I love acting in movies because I love to take my time a execute the part given to me perfectly!

What are your weak points when it comes to acting? How do you try to improve them?

My weak point is the fact that I’m a perfectionist and because of that I get over-anxious and this anxiousness can lead to anxiety. It’s kind of a gift and a curse. I want everything that I do in life to be done perfectly. What I do to improve them is the fact I’m learning to become more patient through prayer and meditation. As an actor I’m pretty versatile – I can take on any character and any role at any given moment

What are your strong points as an actor?

My strong points as an actor are my work ethic and my ability to jump into character at the drop of a dime.

What have you learned from the directors that you have worked with throughout your career?

Working with directors in Hollywood, I’ve learned first, and for most that you have to have tough skin working in this business; you have to develop a strong unmovable belief in yourself. Regardless of how many doors get closed, you have to move on and still continue to progress

What are some of the difficulties of the acting business?

The limitations others try to put on you… Sometimes casting directors try to typecast you and say you only fit this type of a role. Another difficulty actors and artists in general run into is finding the right agent and manager.

What’s challenging about bringing a script to life?

The only difficulty I find about bringing the script alive is catching the beat of the character and the rhythm of the script. Once I get a feel it’s game over – I can basically get creative and make this character real.

What do you do when you’re not filming?

Well I’m an artist so when I’m not filming I’m writing movie scripts, recording music, writing poetry, working out, and I’m contemplating new business ventures.

What has been the most memorable experience of your career so far?

I would have to say working on the Bad Boyz of Hollywood working alongside Khalil Kharraz if you guys get a chance go check out his latest movie “Redemption Day” where he did the entire fight choreography for that project along with The Bad Boyz of Hollywood.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

That’s a great question. Definitely my friend Khalil and I would have to say my business partner and my team at Big House LA.

If someone is going to make your life into a movie, who would play you?

I would have to say either Jamie Foxx or Michael B Jordan either actor would get the job done.

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

Well, I plan on taking over Hollywood and the music industry in 2021! Outside of that, I plan on starting a Street Basketball League this Summer called the NSBA TOUR. I also plan on building our Bighouse LA brands Discover My Music Radio, Black Film Festival Los Angeles, Mr.Hollywood Magazine, and Ms.Hollywood Magazine not to mention the Mr.Hollywood TV Show that’s coming soon to Amazon.

The Verdict On “The Wretched”: Is It Worth Watching??

Monster movies tend to stick to the old tried and true beasts of horror lore: vampires, zombies, demons, ghosts, and even a werewolf every now and then. But the one featured creature you rarely see addressed these days are witches. Now I’m not talking about broomstick flying, cackling witches who flaunt spells like spitballs and carry black cats, I’m talking old school; truly horrific and gruesome witches who feast on children and give you proper nightmares like the rest of those aforementioned Halloween horrors do. With a very brief plot description and an unusual looking poster, I wasn’t sure what “The Wretched” had to offer or what kind of setting or take on witches it would attempt. What I discovered was that there truly was more to this gruesome witch tale than I (and I think a lot of other people) gave it credit.

Struggling to deal with his parents’ divorce, Ben (John Paul Howard) goes to live/work with his dad (Jamison Jones) at the boat docks and tries to figure out how he’s going to deal with it. But things get complicated when he comes across a 1,000-year-old witch who murders a woman (Zarah Mahler) and then wears her skin like a suit. Now children are disappearing from the area and no one seems to remember them or know who they are. Ben and his new friend Mallory (Piper Curda) have to dig deeper and uncover the truth about this witch in order to save many lives and break whatever spell she has on this town and its people before it’s too late for the kids.

I didn’t really know what to expect from this movie, I expected less thrills, more slow-burn kind of stuff, and an older period setting with a more disturbing looking (albeit still traditional) kind of witch. I was pleasantly surprised to see “The Wretched” clearly has more to offer than you’d expect. Starting things off with a gruesome and chilling opening sequence, “The Wretched” displays inventiveness in utilizing the witch’s powers, how it moves, what it can do, and even keeps you guessing how many there actually might be. No jump scares are used here, just a good old fashioned creepy atmosphere and palpable tension that keeps you on the edge of your seat. You never know when or in what way the witch will appear and that keeps the surprises coming at you when you least expect it. I was definitely hooked on this.

Despite the horrific notion of witches murdering/eating people (especially young children), the film never gets too bloody and barf-inducing you want to stop watching but it leaves you with enough visible and unseen horrors that just the sounds and implications are enough to make your face cringe. The backstory is never fully explored and honestly, it doesn’t need to be. Were given enough to put the pieces together ourselves and it helps aid in the unpredictability in this witch’s powers and how she could appear next time you see her. In a way, this movie comes off as a more supernatural version of “Disturbia” or “Secret Window”; following the evil in question through the eyes of a curious teenager who keeps digging where he shouldn’t.

Sadly as a protagonist, Ben falls flat because well…he is flat. His uneasy feelings due to his parents’ divorce and his rebellious attitude don’t come off as interesting or even that sincere. He’s just kind of there personality-wise and while he has moments with Mallory (the most charming and delightful character in the movie I might add), he’s just not enough of a person to be engaging. The film’s pacing and abundance of surprising developments do more for the film than the cast ever does, though Zarah Mahler deserves recognition for doing a perfect 180 and turning into an absolutely terrifying and intimidating possessed victim. But back to the pacing, the film just moves along at a solid pace; never lingering too long or rushing off too quickly. Ben doesn’t do stupid cliché horror movie victim mistakes, he tries to play this wisely and even his father proves not all parents in horror films are disbelieving idiots and plays a significant role in wrapping things up in the climax.

Overall, “The Wretched” is a fresh bucket of blood for Halloween horror fans to sink their teeth into. Its lead character isn’t particularly deep and I feel our leading lady is criminally underused, but the scares are effective and chilling, the monster’s design and execution is superb and it kept me legitimately hooked and surprised from start until finish and I cannot recall the last time a had that level of investment in a horror movie. This is worth a watch, maybe even a couple of watches; definitely something different.

I give “The Wretched” 2 ½ stars out of 4.

The Verdict On “The New Mutants”: Is It Worth Watching??

Rating: 3/5 Stars

It’s taken a long time for the much-troubled film “The New Mutants” to finally emerge into the spotlight. This film has had a multitude of major problems affecting every aspect of the film, from its script, tone, rating, release date to even where it was going to be released (either in theaters or on Disney+). When Disney bought Fox, they acquired the X-men cinematic universe rights, and “New Mutants” was still being made during the buyout. Disney executives were worried the horror aspect of the film wouldn’t fit their “House of Mouse” image, not to mention the fact Disney already had their doubts after seeing the disastrous response to Fox’s last X-men entry, “Dark Phoenix.” Still, for better or worse, Josh Boone’s film finally got released into theaters so let’s see if the wait was worth it for Fox’s true final film in their extinct X-men series.

The story follows a young girl named Danielle Moonstar (Blu Hunt), a mutant whose home is ravaged by a strange tornado. She wakes up after the disaster to find herself in a mental health facility run by Dr. Reyes (Alice Braga). The facility specializes in housing mutants and providing treatment and care until they have better control under their abilities. There’s Illyana Rasputin/Magik (Anya Taylor-Joy), Sam Guthrie/Cannonball (Sam Guthrie), Roberto da Costa/Hot Spot (Henry Zaga), and Rahne Sinclair/Wulfsbane (Maisie Williams). They all have troubled pasts and trauma dealing with their powers activation, but now, they’re experiencing vivid nightmares and realistic hallucinations that are pushing them to the edge of sanity. Now the teens suspect this facility isn’t a care center but a prison and they have to find a way out together.

With X-men films becoming a dying breed, it’s only natural they’d have to try something experimental if they wanted to keep the brand fresh and alive. One would expect with such a lengthy amount of work and extensive adjustments put into the film it would either be a colossal failure or a well-earned success. Unfortunately, “The New Mutants” never goes too far outside of just being a pretty decent, acceptable film; never pushing as far as it could have nor perfecting the good it already has established into anything greater. The horror spin on the superhero world is a slowly expanding trend that provides the amplest opportunities for a fresh reinvention. “New Mutants” never goes too scary or dark as one would hope but it still offers some genuinely creepy and disturbing visuals that prove there’s something here that could have been expanded upon.

The mental health facility provides some interesting interactions between our mutant stars; creating unique dynamics and problems that are clarified by the horrific but well-executed nightmare sequences. You always get the sense something is going on with everyone here but it’s teased enough to keep the mystery compelling and engaging so you want to see how it all plays out. Moonstar’s “problem” is easily the most unique out of all of them and while giving it away would be spoiling the finale, let’s just say when you find out the truth you’re either going to shake your head in irritated confusion or roll with the punches and applaud the creativity. The cast plays well together but most of them don’t really stand out as well as you’d hope. X-men films are packed with mutant stars all vying for the spotlight but in this smaller environment, very few draw much attention outside of an occasional good scene here or there.

Except for Anna-Taylor Joy, she truly shines as the most “head case” mutant cases. Her personality and stance exude confrontation and abrasiveness, but there is a wild vulnerability to her that makes her more aggressive traits come off as charming rather than intolerable. An additional round of applause should go to “Game of Thrones” star Maisie Williams for introducing an unexpectedly sweet romantic element that is a welcomed addition to the narrative if a bit weakly executed. Overall, “The New Mutants” is a decent, enjoyable film to watch here and there which is a lot more I can say for some other high profile movies that were supposed to “be a big deal,” but with all of its production troubles, I guess I was hoping for a better end result than this. It’s bizarre, it’s different, its dark and tries new things but it’s also clearly holding back and with X-men’s continuity being reorganized into Marvel’s much bigger sandbox universe, it’s a shame “The New Mutants” couldn’t do more or amount to more than just an acceptable film.

The Verdict On “Bill and Ted: Face the Music”: Is It Worth Watching??

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Like many beloved film series, there are often talks of sequels and continuations that never get off the ground; even to films that came out over 30 years ago. “Bill and Ted” have been around since the late 80’s and talks of a third one have been circulating since “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey” came out in 1991. But due to an inability to nail down the right script and Keanu Reeves skyrocketing popularity and a busy schedule, it seemed like a third entry would never take off. Imagine everyone’s surprise that in a world cornered off by a deadly virus, the movie finally got made and ultimately ended up being the movie the world needs now more than ever. It may sound odd but “Bill and Ted: Face the music” is exactly the pick me up we needed.

Despite being told during their time-traveling adventures that their music would one day unite and save the world, Bill and Ted (Alex Frost and Keanu Reeves) have yet to write the song that would fulfill their prophesized destiny and it’s weighing heavily on them and on their marriages. When Kelly (Kristen Schaal), the daughter of their old friend Rufus (the late great George Carlin) visits Bill and Ted, she tells them they have to create the ultimate song tonight or all of reality will be destroyed. Bill and Ted head into the future to see if their future selves wrote the song they can bring back to the present. Meanwhile, the daughters of Bill and Ted, Billie and Thea (Brigette Lundy-Paine and Samara Weaving) wish to help their fathers and venture off on their own time-traveling journey; collecting famous musicians throughout history to aid in writing the song that will harmonize the world.

To be perfectly honest, I was never a big “Bill and Ted” fan when they first came out. I loved the sequel more than I did the first film and even then, this wasn’t a series I found myself being deeply drawn towards. “Face the music” is not just a cheaply crapped out sequel from a franchise past its time, no, this film is a clear love letter and a celebration of everything the actors, characters, writers, and fans adore about the series and best of all, it presents everything with universal appeal. If you’re a die-hard fan or a casual fan, this film is loaded with great callbacks, nods to the previous films, and the majority of the original cast from the past 2 films and it’s a true delight to see. But even if you’re new to the series or only decide to watch just this film, the humor works in a wonderfully weird way that you can still enjoy it without knowing its history.

Reeves and Frost settle back into their roles with absolutely no difficulty, it’s like putting on an old pair of shoes and remembering everything you loved about them at that moment. They truly feel like the Bill and Ted fans knew all grown up and struggling to adapt. As goofy as they can be and these movies are, the themes of failing to live up to expectations, not accepting change; they’re all very relatable themes that every generation can understand and I love that universal connection. One of the weirder aspects of this film (which is saying something in a film series about a time-traveling phone booth) is watching Reeves and Frost create newer and more unusual variations of their characters through the future timelines they visit. Most of their humor relies on this gimmick and while it can be hilarious at times, other times it feels overplayed.

But fortunately, there is so much more than just our titular heroes: their daughters Billie and Thea are the true secret stars and dual beating hearts of this film. They’re adorable, funny, have immaculate chemistry together, and prove to be more than just goofy female variants of our main band boys. It’s a true delight seeing William Sadler back as Death and new inclusions like Dennis the robot are worth the price of admission alone. There’s just a consistent sense of fun with this film and it’s infectious, you can feel it in the writing, the performances, and the humor and this is exactly the kind of palate cleanser we need in a year as disastrous and depressing as 2020. Never has there ever been a more relevant time for the words “be excellent to each other” than right here, right now.

Overall, “Bill and Ted: Face the Music” is just a blast from the past (literally and figuratively). It captures the heart and hilarity of the series and updates it for today’s era at a time when this kind of message and this kind of movie is needed most. “Face the music” delights fans both new and old with a message and charm to lift our spirits and remind us there are still fun and good times ahead and that it is okay to just have fun with the world again,

Meet The Woman Behind The Latest Cover Of FilmCentral Magazine: The Beautiful Yolandi Franken

Yolandi Franken is a film and TV producer, TV-host, and an industry all-rounder. She started studying and working in the film industry almost exactly 21-years ago now and although it’s a difficult industry to be in love with due to its inconsistent nature, she still wouldn’t change it for the world. Her job has enabled her to meet some amazing people and travel the world. She has worked in China, Hong Kong, South Africa, India, Dominican Republic, and the USA and she will forever be thankful for the opportunities that were presented to her and the people who helped her grow.

She was a producer of three feature films; Turbines, Tabernacle 101 and Streets of Colour, a two-part documentary series called Yols Discover, two TV series; The Fast lane and Miss Multiverse Australia, and hundreds of shorter format stories (music videos, short films, TV Ads, Corporate videos, etc.) Many of these got accepted into countless prestigious film festivals, some even winning some awards. These productions are available worldwide on streaming platforms such as Amazon Prime, Tubi, Google Play, Apple TV, and many more. Tabernacle 101 also had a US cinema release and The Fast Lane was aired on television sets throughout South-East Asia.

She’s currently a part of WIFT (Women in Film & Television) Australia and is Co-Chair of their NSW Committee and Chair of their National Virtual Arm where she’s involved in organising face-to-face and virtual events and workshops with industry leaders, educators, suppliers, funding bodies and guilds. She personally had the privilege to work with Disney, Niki Caro, Mandy Walker ASC ACS, Steph Power, Jill Bilcock, Bonnie Elliott, Arri, all the amazing people on the WIFT Australia Board, and many more.

As a secondary passion, she also works in front of the cameras. She hosted Teal Wings, Indie Film World, Yols Discover, The Fast Lane, Miss Multiverse Australia, and Miss Multiverse International. Some of these are available on Amazon Prime, Tubi, and some aired on Television. As far as acting goes, she’s had a number of smaller roles in Australian TV-series and Films and even a tiny role in the Hollywood Blockbuster, Kingsmen – The Secret Service. In her younger years, she was also a model but she ended her modelling career after representing Australia three times on a world level in Mrs. Globe, Mrs. World, and Miss Multiverse.

In 2014 she started a charitable film festival called Cause Film Festival which she ran for three years before passing on her role as Festival Director to Suki Foster. The festival is still running and has housed some of Australia’s most talented filmmakers and actors. Furthermore, she was actually nominated as “Australian of the Year” in 2015 for the work she does in the community and for various charities.

FilmCentral magazine recently caught up with Yolandi to discuss her journey in the entertainment industry and here’s what went down:

What is your motivation as a filmmaker?

In short, giving audiences an escape from the real world. I just want to give the world more stories to love. But I also love the process of creating films, both creatively and the generally considered “boring side” of producing. I don’t have a creative mind that can create something from scratch, but I have an absolute passion for creativity and the creative industries. So being a producer allows me to apply what I am good at in order to bring the creative works that I love to life.

What generally inspires your interest?

I believe in being true to yourself, and for society to be true to itself. For me, if there is a story that I connect with, I feel passionate about bringing that story to the world. If it is something I believe in, something I feel will make a difference in the world, or just simply make people laugh and have fun, I want everyone to share in it.

I have to come clean here, I am a workaholic. But I also have an intense love for life and want to live it to the fullest and experience everything. Shows that I host and produce, such as the Yols Discover series is something I create so that I can not only entertain others, but it also gives me an opportunity to do the things I love and want to explore. Because trust me, being a workaholic, I will never otherwise get an opportunity to do the things I love.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Well, Producing is really the non-creative part of the process, but it also doesn’t mean that I don’t WANT to be creative. This only applies to scripted content, but one thing that frustrates me is that I am not naturally creative. I have so many great ideas for films, but I do not have the ability to flesh out the details of the story. I am therefore always reliant on others to write the story for me, or for scripted stories to come to me.

Luckily on Streets Of Colour, I had an amazing writer and director, Ronnie S. Riskalla. It is actually his story, but I was there from the start to brainstorm with him and had the opportunity to be part of every draft. See, I cannot create something from scratch but I can add pieces and I can comment on what I like and don’t like. He was generous enough to allow me to do that.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to viewers what they want?

A bit of both. This is showBUSINESS. If you create content that people don’t want to see, it is not good for business. So the more you can create what people want to see, the better. Saying that I am always trying to be original in the approach or to add something original. You still want to be distinguishable from other similar content. I will however never create something I don’t like or don’t agree with.

Occasionally there will be a project that, in reality, you are making for yourself and to scratch a tickle within yourself. For these projects, you don’t want to consider what people want to see and whether it ends up being successful or not, is not the priority.

If you could tell your younger film making self anything, what would it be?

Study accounting. Don’t even taste filmmaking, because it is like a beautiful addiction that you can never escape. No in all seriousness, I would say to not be scared of failing and rejection, the quicker you can become desensitised to that, the faster you will grow in the industry.

What was an early experience where you is learned that filmmaking had power?

I can’t recall a specific film, but I remember realising when I was very young that the seeds that get planted in films and TV Shows can make a big difference – in a good or bad way. Seeds that get planted while you are absorbing the content you love will grow much bigger than seeds planted when you are being preached to. People don’t realise the power that content has.

Can you tell us more about your latest project?

I currently have a handful of projects in early and late development. But I also have Streets of Colour in post-production. This is the project that I am most proud of in my career. The story, the acting, the look, everything has exceeded my expectations. It is not done yet, and it was made on a small budget but it just comes to show that if the story, acting, and sound are good, you don’t need fancy visual effects and crazy external factors to make it amazing.

It has a fantastic set of cast and crew and stars AACTA and LOGIE nominated actor Rahel Romahn. In my opinion, one of Australia’s most talented gems. It was written and Directed by Ronnie S. Riskalla and we had an award-winning DOP, Zacharee-Peel McGregor. Depending on what happens in the cinema and distribution world, it should be released in 2021.

Here’s the synopsis of Streets of Colour: “after being blamed for the death of his best friend in a racist street fight. Tez a 23-year-old drug dealer loses custody to a son he’s never met. He must now find a way to get his life back on track and get his son before it’s too late.”

We also just started filming the third edition of Yols Discover which will come out on Amazon Prime (and maybe a few other platforms too).

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

“Live in the moment”. I sometimes struggle to do this because I am always thinking about what is next and seldom reflect on what was achieved or what greatness I am experiencing at the moment. But the times that I do live in the moment, I feel great and peaceful and content. I am currently working on doing that more often.

What advice would you give to a newbie filmmaker who wants to make it in the industry?

Get experience and get credits, no matter what else you have to sacrifice to get it. That is how you learn and that is how you get your name out there. In the film industry, the first thing people want to know when considering someone is what credits they have and what the projects were (not where they or what they studied). Secondly, this industry is all about networking and who you know, so make yourself visible. If you are always at the front of people’s minds, you’ll be the first one they call for a job. But don’t be annoying or harass people either.

What are your future plans?

I just want to keep creating bigger and better projects that get seen by more and more people. It’s simple. If I can make a difference in the world through the stories I help tell, I’ll die happy.

The Verdict On The Devil All The Time: Is It Worth Watching??

Rating: 1/5 Stars

Netflix movies have something of a bad rap. While their TV shows are praised and frequently top people’s best TV series lists each year, their movies seemed to be hit or miss with stellar casts and viral marketing failing to make up for the poor and often forgettable quality of Netflix’s original films. Some have said in today’s pandemic panic-induced new world that streaming original films and films on video on demand are the way of the future beyond cinema chains and drive-in theater experiences. As someone who adores going to the movies and watching good movies, I truly hope streaming does not become the de-facto format of watching movies and I hope films like “The Devil all the time” do NOT become an indication of what all good movies will be like.

The film is an erratically structured narrative; twisting the lives of multiple characters from different families, couples, groups, and points in time between the end of World War 2 and the 1960s; set primarily in rural southern Ohio and West Virginia. There’s Willard Russell (Bill Skarsgård), a tormented veteran of the carnage in the South Pacific, there’s Carl and Sandy Henderson (Jason Clarke and Riley Keough), a husband-and-wife team of serial killers, there’s the spider-handling preacher Roy (Harry Melling) and his guitar-playing sidekick, Theodore (Pokey LaFarge), running from the law. And there’s also Arvin (Tom Holland), son of Willard who intersects several of these people and others as he struggles to deal with the violent, unstable, and suffocating twists and turns of life.

Trying to write down the details of this film’s plot proves just as challenging and problematic as it is verbally speaking it to another person. The film supposedly plays out as someone telling you a story (complete with narration from the author of the book this film is adapted from) but much like the characters, no part of the story being told makes much sense and instead, feels like an exhausting amount of brutality and misguided religious symbolism mixed up together in a heaping helping of ugliness that can’t stick a single thing together sensibly throughout its entire 2 and a half hour running time. “The Devil all the time” jumps around its timelines and events with no heads up or explanation, mudding the timeline and leaping through sections of people’s lives with little to no care or concern for the development of its cast.

The film basically plays out like this: we meet someone, something horrific happens, it’s related to God somehow, then ANOTHER horrific thing happens, more cryptic religious noise; then we meet someone new, rinse, wash and repeat. Every perception and use of God or religion spearheads someone doing something insanely sick and twisted and it gets more messed up; escalating the depravity or delusion with no sense or believability whatsoever. Like Roy for example, he’s so jacked up on God, he lets spiders bite his face in Church, then gets an infection that somehow makes him crazy, then he takes his wife out and kills her and believes he can resurrect her, only to run into serial killers who randomly want people to take photos with them before killing them, make sense? Don’t worry; it’s not going to anytime soon!

That’s the real tragedy here though, nothing makes sense. Brutality and twisted mentalities populate nearly every character’s mindset and the reason each time is the same: God made me do it. The tragedy hits especially hard because this film is beautifully shot and framed like a true work of art. It’s gorgeous to look at and it makes the most vacant fields of Southern land look 10 times more extravagant. Speaking of extravagant, this cast is clearly doing their best to work with the material and they are serving commendable performances; despite this story’s warped, wacked out narrative failing to make sense of its own purpose or point.

With the likes of Tom Holland, Jason Clarke, Sebastian Stan, Bill Skarsgård and Robert Pattinson, “The Devil all the time” should have been much more than what it actually is and that is a mangled, muddied, dark soaked story that drowns itself in its own misery that spreads to viewers like sickness with little hope, rhyme, reason or even common sense to balance it all out. “The Devil all the time” takes too long to tell a story and even longer to figure out when or what story it’s trying to tell. This film is difficult to watch and stomach outside of its cast and cinematography, but neither one is strong enough to make any sense of its own messy structure, purpose, or why I should endure another minute of this film ever again.

The Verdict On Tenet: Is It Worth Your Time And Money??

Rating: 1/5 Stars

COVID-19 is still as inescapable and mortifying now as it was when we first heard of its lethal side effects and overwhelming quarantine procedures. It halted and crippled everyone’s way of life and every facet of businesses, companies, and the future of those organizations. Movies have been one of the trickiest snags for the world to untangle with nearly every major movie company delaying their films release dates or even their films completion well into next year. Christopher Nolan bravely fought for cinemas to open up and claimed that his latest cerebral sci-fi blockbuster, “Tenet,” was powerful enough to get scared viewers out of their homes and back into theaters and that it could save and stabilize the movie industry sufficiently.

And what was the end result? Well, much like “Tenet” itself, it’s hard to explain. In a twilight world of international espionage, an unnamed CIA operative, known as The Protagonist (John David Washington), is recruited by a mysterious organization called Tenet to participate in a global assignment that unfolds beyond real-time. The mission: prevent Andrei Sator (Kenneth Branagh), a renegade Russian oligarch with precognition abilities, from starting World War III. The Protagonist will soon master the art of “time inversion” as a way of countering the threat that is to come by turning back and accelerating forward time itself to see what has to be done and how to do it before it’s too late.

Directors are known for having trademark details; little things they do in each of their films that act as their signatures or using the same actors over and over again. Christopher Nolan is known to be a talented filmmaker (The Dark Knight Trilogy) but while many of his films exceed technical limitations and scope, he’s also known for duplicating a most unfortunate formula: grand-scale films with poor representation of women, paper-thin characters, and zero personality or humor to speak of and these flaws are painfully obvious in every film he’s done: from “The Prestige,” “Interstellar,” to even his biggest cinematic success story, “Inception.” With the implied promise of “Tenet” being the one film to bring people back into theaters, it’s frustratingly disappointing to see the film suffer from all Nolan’s aforementioned flaws and then some. “Tenet” is Nolan at his worst when he thinks he is being at his best.

Time travel films or films having anything to do with time travel in some capacity are often called confusing and hard to follow. “Tenet” is no different. This concept of time inversion makes time manipulation infinitely more confusing than it already was. Much like “Inception,” 98% of “Tenet’s” dialog serves to explain all the rules and mechanics of this new system, only this time it fails to clarify anything at every possible moment. The dialog and time mechanics are as lifeless and sterile as the hollowed husks that spout the dribble so commonly; they assume like everyone already knows what they’re saying or that everyone talks this way in real life everyday situations.  I barely had any idea what was happening and worst of all, I didn’t care if I did understand because I didn’t care about anyone or anything in this film.

The Protagonist feels as non-descriptive and generic as his pretentious name. We never get any sense or reason why he does what he does, who he is, or how he even counts as an actual person. The film nearly clocks in at 3 hours and everyone is devoid of a recognizable personality or sense of likability. It’s all spent explaining how time inversion works and you STILL don’t ever get a solid grip on the concept anyway. Sure, it allows for some inventive looking action sequences and unique combat maneuvers but even those become snore inducing once you realize there’s still another 45 minutes left to trudge through. There’s not a speck of soul in this film, not an ounce of humanity or sanity that feels real…that is until we get to the sole piece of gold in this mountain of dirt and grime: Kenneth Branagh.

Branagh is a rage binging monster of a person and our primary villain for this film and he, thankfully, owns this role with flawless perfection. For violence fueled mad man, he’s the only person in this film who talks like a normal person and feels like a believable human being. He dominates every scene he’s in and energizes the script’s lifeless dialog to the point you feel like he doesn’t belong here, that he came from and needs to go back to a much better film. Overall, “Tenet” failed to save the movie industry the same way Branagh failed to carry this movie on his own (even though he wasn’t supposed to). Outside of Branagh’s stellar performance and a few flashy neat sequences, “Tenet” is a stiff, drifting piece of plywood and every scripted page and lifeless character is dragging it deeper and deeper down into the water where it needs to stay and sink so it can never bore or confuse another person ever again.