The Verdict On The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard: Is It Worth Your Time And Money??

Photo Credit: Screenshot from Lionsgate Movies’ YouTube Video

Back in the days of early action films, buddy comedy films were a dime a dozen. Every polar opposing star would get paired up with another polar opposing star and the hope was the chemistry would explode into a dynamic duo kind of picture that somehow (hopefully) capture lightning in a bottle. There are plenty of examples where it worked beautifully (Lethal Weapon, Rush Hour), and there are just as many examples where it failed horribly (I Spy, Showtime) and for a long, while they all kinda dried up and died out. Then 2017’s “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” comes along and surprisingly has the bark, bite, and bombastic bullet showers to prove that well-written, well-cast buddy cop-like films still had some fire in him. While the first film was an unexpected hit, “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” didn’t seem to learn from its predecessor.

After struggling to recover his failing bodyguard protection service, Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) tries to take a vacation to get his mind off the various troubles caused by his last client: infamous hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson). The vacation ends abruptly with Darius’s wife, Sonia (Salma Hayek) literally explodes onto the scene and says her husband has been kidnapped and she needs Bryce’s help to get him back. Now, Bryce, Sonia, and Darius are being catapulted onto another crazy, explosive adventure that will put them all through collective misery as they try and stop whoever is after the Kincaids and hopefully try and survive the whole process.

The phrase bigger is better is often used when it comes to sequels. The budget, the cast, the stakes; everything is escalated into massive proportions and in some cases, this can serve as a massive backfire. “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” doesn’t feel like a sequel or even a movie but more like an exaggerated, blown-up R-rated cartoon; flinging flashy nonsense, huge explosions, and Salma Hayek screaming randomly at everyone she fires while Ryan Reynolds suffers visibly at every wake and turn. Now the first film wasn’t a supremely reality grounded film but it had a more sensible and effective sense of pacing with its humor and its action. This film has NO pacing. It’s barely 10 minutes into the movie things are already going “Michael Bay” and the movie never once tries to stop or slow down from there.

In a lot of ways, this strongly reminds me of the film “Red 2,” sequel to “Red” starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, and Helen Mirren. Like in “Red 2”, “Hitman’s Wife’s bodyguard” just throws out everything that made the first film good and spackles all the holes with 50% larger explosions and absurdly over the top yelling, screaming, running, and jacking everything up far higher and louder than it needs to be. The first film struck an excellent chord with Reynolds and Jackson’s chemistry. They were annoying and shooting the Hell out of each other every 5 minutes and their animosity was a true comedic joy to watch. They matched each other move for move and yeah, it was childish, but it gave you just enough humor and heartfelt moments at the right times that it felt like you were getting more for your money than just quips and fireworks.

Salma Hayek is clearly having a good time here but I can’t say the same for everyone else. She’s far too goofy and obnoxiously loud that she doesn’t know what tone it down means, actually, no one in this film does. Much of Jackson and Reynolds’ banter is watered down and left largely at Reynolds’ expense. Which can be funny I admit, at times, but so much is at his expense that it just feels like he’s a punchline who happens to be along for the ride and not much of a character with much depth or interest and the background depth he DOES get kinda feels flat and lacking proper implementation. Antonio Banderas is your standard villain of the week with no gravitas, memorability, or even much relevance. His scheme had a unique doomsday kind of weapon that could have provided some interesting visual sequences….had they used it more than just one single time.

Overall, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard’s Wife” is like when your kid bangs on the pots and drums and calls it music; it’s noise that someone is calling entertainment when it’s not. Much of the magic and well-crafted humor of the first film has long been lost; replaced with louder yells, bigger bombs, and zero pacing from the starting line. I’m glad everyone had fun making this film, I truly am. But if you want me to enjoy it enough to say I’d recommend it to someone else or shell out more hard-earned money to see the 3rd installment, you’re gonna need a better boat; not a BIGGER one…a better one.

I give “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” 1 ½ star out of 4 stars.

Meet The Woman Behind The August Issue Of FilmCentral Magazine: Emmy Winner Jodi Long

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Film, television, and stage veteran Jodi Long, best known for her roles in “Sex & the City,” “Sullivan & Son,” and “The Hot Chick” recently won her first Emmy for “Outstanding Supporting Actress” on behalf of her role as the bold and fabulous “Mrs. Basil E” on Netflix’s “Dash & Lily.” She is Lily’s stylish and extravagant great-aunt who offers wisdom and pushes them to enjoy life. She is also the glue that ties Dash and Lily together. Interesting fact: Her character is an homage to the eccentric character from the novel “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.” She is the mentor and best friend we wish we all had and were! Dash & Lily was nominated for a total of 6 Daytime Emmy© Awards including a nod for “Outstanding Young Adult Series.”

Although best known for her roles as the power lesbian ‘Patty’ in HBO’s “Sex and the City” and her role as the Korean mother in The Hot Chick (“Ling Ling! You forgot your bling bling!), Long has been working consistently in Hollywood for decades following her roles in hit TV series “Café American,” “All-American Girl” and “Miss Match.” She starred on Vince Vaughn’s TBS sitcom “Sullivan & Son” playing ‘Ok Cha,’ the ever-amusing Korean immigrant mother of ‘Steve’ played by comedian Steve Byrne. Long’s extensive list of TV and film credits also includes “Franklin & Bash,” “Desperate Housewives,” and Beginners alongside Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer. Not only limited to acting, Long is also a talented filmmaker creating an award-winning documentary Long Story Short, her personal family story which tells the tale of her Chinese-Aussie tap dancer father and Japanese-American showgirl mother (‘Larrie & Trudie’) who became a popular husband-and-wife nightclub act in America in the ’40s and ’50s even landing a performance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Born and raised in Queens, Long graduated from the High School for Performing Arts in New York and graduated with a BFA from the acting conservatory at SUNY Purchase. Long’s love for acting came from traveling with her vaudevillian parents and growing up backstage which eventually led her to star in her first Broadway show at just 7 years old in Sidney Lumet’s Nowhere To Go But Up. After an illustrious theater career in several Broadway and off-Broadway productions, Long would eventually win an Ovation Award for the 2002 revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song (her father starred in the original production in 1958). She also starred in Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s theater production of The World Of Extreme Happiness which ran in both Chicago and New York last year.

FilmCentral Magazine recently caught up with Jodi to discuss her recent win at the Emmy Awards and here’s what went down:

This is obviously a very personal project for you. What was your reaction when you saw these nominations pop onto the screen?

I didn’t see the nominations pop on a screen until the day of the actual Awards ceremony. So by then, that was the least of what was going to happen in the next few minutes! The day I found out I was nominated, it came in an email from the showrunner/creator of Dash And Lily, writer Joe Tracz. He created such a delicious part in Mrs. Basil E that I was so happy to hear the news from him first.

Of course, we definitely have to congratulate you on your Emmy win this year! Can you describe the feeling you had when you heard your name called and that moment you held that Emmy in your hands?

Thank you! I was stunned with disbelief when I heard my name called, can someone pinch me so I know I’m not dreaming?! Holding the Emmy? Exhilarating!

Photo Credit: Benjo Arwas

You were nominated for “Outstanding Supporting Actress” on behalf of your role as “Mrs. Basil E” on Netflix’s “Dash & Lily.” Can you tell us more about your role in this TV series?

I play the Great Aunt of the main character Lily. She’s a Broadway musical diva who is very rich, very grand, and quite eccentric in a bohemian way. She is also very wise and a bit of a fairy godmother to Lily. Like Glinda with Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, Mrs. Basil E is always asking the right question at the right time, encouraging Lily to make her own decisions.

What sort of person is going to relate to this character?

Everyone, young and old! I mean, who doesn’t want a fairy godmother in their life right?

How is this character like you? Different?

Well, I have been on Broadway doing musical theater in the revival of Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song playing a character who had quite a lot of stage presence and “je ne sais quoi”. I’m different in that I don’t lounge around my house in sequined caftans with rings on every finger!

What’s the biggest challenge to taking on this role?

The biggest challenge was it was freezing in NYC while we were shooting in my fabulous townhouse answering my front door. I had hand warmers under and in every part of my costume just to keep warm!

If you could actually play any other character in this series, who would it be?

I think I won the lottery with Mrs. Basil E even if I was young enough to play Lily.

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

There is really no difference between working in front of a camera for a movie and TV series except the time you get to do a scene. With a TV series, if you are lucky enough to get more than one season, you and the writers have more time to understand and develop a character which usually yields you a bigger arc.

Photo Credit: Benjo Arwas

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

I don’t feel I have any weak points! The most important thing for an actor is to be in the moment of a scene and take it a moment to moment.

What are your strong points as an actor?

I guess you would classify me as a character actor. I like to challenge and stretch myself as an actor and subsequently have a large range. I am also not afraid of taking chances as I explore a scene.

What do you do when you’re not filming?

If you mean on a set, I am not a person who can read a book! Some actors like to retreat into a book. I have to stay focused on the world and character I am inhabiting. I can read a magazine or check email, but nothing too involving as I like to stay focused. When I am not working, I do a lot of yoga, garden, and do Tai Chi.

What are some of the difficulties of the acting business?

The hardest part is sometimes you can be on a great work roll and sometimes it’s slow. You never really know why but that’s when it’s important to keep your center and be creative anyway. As an Asian American woman actor, the most difficult part at the beginning of my career was to be cast in parts that weren’t specifically Asian. In those days, Asian written parts were few and far between. But I was and still am determined to change things for more inclusive casting. My part as Mrs. Basil E in Netflix’s Dash And Lily, for which I won an Emmy, was originally played by Ingrid Bergman (in the movie version) and then by Lauren Bacall (in the tv movie). It’s been a long time coming but now that’s progress.

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

The good ones trust you. The bad ones will try to micromanage you if you let them.

Photo Credit: Benjo Arwas

What’s challenging about bringing a script to life?

It really depends on the script and the role because each has its own challenges. Some require research into a character or a way of life and some just learning lots of lines!

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

I think an Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actress is pretty memorable!

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

The most interesting people I’ve met have all been artists and creative types. Why? Because most of the ones I know are critical thinkers and I enjoy hearing different points of view and how they manifest within their creative process. Don’t get me wrong, business-minded folks can be very creative thinkers too.

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

We’ll leave that up to the casting director (laughs)!

Can you tell the readers any new projects you have coming up that you are excited about?

I have a movie coming out in September, although I can’t say what yet. And I am currently in talks for my one-woman show SURFING DNA to be produced on the East Coast.

What advice would you give anyone who is looking to follow in your footsteps?

Follow your dream and keep the naysayers away. Work on your craft and let your instincts guide you. Most importantly, do what you love, for even though you will work hard, it will never really be just work, it will be creative PLAY.

Photo Credit: Jim Krantz

The New Trailer for ‘Jackass Forever’ Has Just Dropped And It Features Plenty Of Ridiculous Stunts

Celebrating the joy of being back together with your best friends and a perfectly executed shot to the dingdong, the original jackass crew return for another round of hilarious, wildly absurd, and often dangerous displays of comedy with a little help from some exciting new cast.  Johnny and the team push the envelope even further on October 21 in jackass forever.

DIRECTED BY: Jeff Tremaine

PRODUCED BY: Jeff Tremaine, Spike Jonze, and Johnny Knoxville

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Shanna Zablow Newton, and Greg Iguchi

CAST

Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Dave England, Wee Man, Danger Ehren, Preston Lacy and introducing Jasper, Rachel Wolfson, Sean “Poopies” McInerney, Zach Holmes, and Eric Manaka

CREDITS ARE NOT FINAL AND ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE

Check out the trailer below courtesy of Paramount Pictures and MTV Entertainment Studios:

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

Saying the world grinded to a halt in the face of the pandemic is a gross understatement. Everything we knew and did in life was altered and that includes movies. Numerous films were delayed for months, some even multiple years; coming out far longer than it originally intended to. No case was as severely afflicted as it was with Marvel’s “Black Widow”; the first step in the MCU’s next phase of films and the last appearance of the character immortalized by Scarlett Johansson ever since her tragic fate was spilled out during “Avengers: Endgame.” The release of this film was also supposed to be a big step in the right direction as it would be the character’s first solo film ever despite having been on the Marvel scene since way back in “Iron Man 2” in 2010. DC’s Wonder Woman has released two solo films long before “Widow’s” release so it begs the question: is it too late for a solo “Black Widow” film? Let’s find out.

Picking up almost immediately after the events of “Captain America: Civil War”, Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Johansson) is on the run from the US government after breaking ties with them and is now being forced into hiding. During her fugitive status, Natasha comes across her younger sister Yelena (Florence Pugh); another “Widow” like her who has discovered a dark secret surrounding the “Red Room” program that turned both girls and many others into highly dangerous super assassins. Now Natasha must find the Red Room with the help of her estranged family (David Harbour, Rachel Weisz) and enter a world of conspiracy, murder, and corruption as Natasha faces the past she left behind to become an Avenger.

One of the most frequent complaints lobbed at Marvel films is that even when they try to be different or utilize different genres for variety, they all feel and look generally the same. While that argument can be made towards some “Black Widow” most certainly does not fall into that trap. “Widow” strips down much of the fantastical superpowers and connecting Easter Eggs to tell a hard-boiled, down, and dirty spy story that feels like “The Bourne Identity” mixed with Marvel characters. Right from the very beginning, things are grimmer, darker, and loaded with graphic violence that even the edgiest of previous Marvel films have never been gutsy enough to attempt. This feels like a true “Black Widow” story; mixing origin stories and exploring deeper mysteries about the character that have never been fully explored until now.

Through her previous appearances, Natasha has always alluded to having a blood-soaked past and is responsible for many horrible things. But outside of brooding side banter, we never got a true indication of how dark her dark side actually was. The Red Room has been teased since “Age of Ultron” finally gets clarity and we see the sinister source of Natasha’s training with greater clarity and understanding. Florence’s relationship with Scarlett is one of the film’s best assets and they use it to great satisfaction. Their back and forth competitiveness and estranged relationship feel natural yet appropriately awkward considering their lines of work. While Weisz is a bit forgettable here, in my opinion, David Harbour is the real scene-stealer; a bombastic, over-the-hill Russian super-soldier called “Red Guardian.” He is this film’s greatest treasure and I applaud any excuse given to see more of him in any kind of future installments.

One area of concern falls with the film’s dual villains: Task Master and Dreykof (played loathingly by Ray Winstone). While both have a strong sense of lethality and danger about them, the problem is they never push/utilize these villains to their utmost potential and end up coming short in some key areas. The Task Master’s unique gimmick of copying anyone’s fighting style is the closest thing this film has to a “superpower.” But the character’s enigmatic history, once revealed, ultimately nullifies the potential this character could have had as a recurring villain or even as this film’s current one. Dreykof is given the right amount of universal malice and vileness you’d expect from someone running this program. He delivers on prime evil but ends up short when understanding why he is so despicably evil or why he made women the source of his program, to begin with. The villains themselves are not the problem but their sense of fulfillment is lacking.

Overall, “Black Widow” was well worth the wait and is an excellent send-off for the MCU’s most badass female hero. Maybe this should have been made sooner or come out faster but late or not, I’m glad this is the film we got. Johansson gives it her all and the excellent chemistry she shares with Pugh and Harbour just keeps the energy and enjoyment rising higher and higher. Aside from a few weak characters and a couple of villains needing a little bit of a stronger shot in the arm, I hope Scarlett and Marvel fans can look back on this film and be proud of how this turned out because I sure am. “Wonder Woman” may have come out first but in my opinion, “Black Widow” comes out on top easily.

I give “Black Widow” 3 stars out of 4 stars.

Photo Credit: Screenshot from Marvel Entertainment’s YouTube Channel

The Trailer For “The Last Duel” Starring Matt Damon, Jodie Comer And Ben Affleck Is Finally Here

Jodie Comer as Marguerite de Carrouges in 20th Century Studios’ THE LAST DUEL. Photo credit: Patrick Redmond. © 2021 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

20th Century Studios’ “The Last Duel, a gripping tale of betrayal and vengeance set against the brutality of 14th century France directed by visionary filmmaker and four-time Academy Award® nominee Ridley Scott (The Martian,” “Black Hawk Down,” “Gladiator,” “Thelma & Louise), opens in cinemas October 14, 2021.  

The historical epic is a cinematic and thought-provoking drama set in the midst of the Hundred Years War that explores the ubiquitous power of men, the frailty of justice, and the strength and courage of one woman willing to stand alone in the service of truth. Based on actual events, the film unravels long-held assumptions about Frances last sanctioned duel between Jean de Carrouges and Jacques Le Gris, two friends turned bitter rivals. Carrouges is a respected knight known for his bravery and skill on the battlefield. Le Gris is a Norman squire whose intelligence and eloquence make him one of the most admired nobles in court. When Carrouges wife, Marguerite, is viciously assaulted by Le Gris, a charge he denies, she refuses to stay silent, stepping forward to accuse her attacker, an act of bravery and defiance that puts her life in jeopardy. The ensuing trial by combat, a grueling duel to the death, places the fate of all three in Gods hands.

Oscar® winner Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting,” “Ford v Ferrari) is Jean de Carrouges, two-time Academy Award® nominee Adam Driver (Marriage Story,” “BlacKkKlansman) is Jacques Le Gris, Emmy® winner Jodie Comer (Killing Eve,” “Free Guy) is Marguerite de Carrouges and two-time Oscar winner Ben Affleck (Argo,” “Good Will Hunting) is Count Pierre dAlençon. The screenplay is by Oscar nominee Nicole Holofcener (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) & Ben Affleck & Matt Damon based on the book by Eric Jager. The film is produced by Ridley Scott, Kevin J. Walsh (Manchester by the Sea), Jennifer Fox (Nightcrawler), Nicole Holofcener, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck with Kevin Halloran (Ford v Ferrari), Drew Vinton (Promised Land), Madison Ainley (Justice League) serving as executive producers.

The Last Duel is based on Eric Jagers book The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in Medieval France, which brings the turbulent Middle Ages to life in striking detail. When etiquette, social aspirations and justice were driven by the codes of chivalry, the consequences for defying the institutions of the time  the Church, the nobility at court, a teenage king  could be severe. For a woman navigating these violent times, one who had no legal standing without the support of her husband, the stakes were even higher.

I love working with Matt, so it was an added bonus to be able to work with him and Ben as both actors and as screenwriters, along with Nicole Holofcener, and I knew it would be a great result, says director/producer Ridley Scott. I had admired the show Killing Eve and had been looking for the opportunity to present Jodie Comer with a challenging role. Her performance as Marguerite will make her one of the great actresses of her generation.

This film is an effort to retell the story of a heroic woman from history whom most people havent heard of.  We admired her bravery and resolute determination and felt this was both a story that needed to be told and one whose drama would captivate audiences the way it moved us as writers. As we further explored the story, we found so many aspects of the formal, codified patriarchy of 14th century Western Europe to still be present in vestigial ways (and in some cases almost unchanged) in todays society, says Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. We chose to use the device of telling the story from several characters perspectives in order to examine the immutable fact that although often multiple people who experience the same event come away with differing accounts, there can only be one truth. 

Check out the trailer below courtesy of 20th Century Studios AU:

The Trailer About The Rise And Fall Of Air Studios Montserrat, The Recording Studio That Changed The World Has Just Dropped

On 1 September 2021, UNDER THE VOLCANO, the untold story about the studio that changed the world from an isolated island paradise will be available on digital release in Australia. Directed by Gracie Otto (The Last Impresario) and produced by Cody Greenwood, UNDER THE VOLCANO charts the rise and fall of AIR Studios Montserrat, the recording studio at the centre of the pop universe in the 1980s.

Built by Beatles’ producer Sir George Martin in 1979, AIR Studios Montserrat was a custom-built, state-of-the-art recording facility tucked away on a Caribbean paradise. In the shadow of an active volcano, the studio not only attracted the biggest musical talent on the planet but was the birthplace of mega-hits such as Money for Nothing and Every Breath You Take.

For a decade, AIR Montserrat formed the backdrop to monumental events in music history including the break-up of The Police, the reunion of The Rolling Stones, and the reinvigoration of Paul McCartney after the tragic murder of John Lennon. After a decade of hits, and at the peak of its popularity, the studio was destroyed when the island was hit by a series of devastating natural disasters.

Through personal accounts and backed by a blistering soundtrack, UNDER THE VOLCANO is the definitive account of Sir George Martin’s studio at the end of the world, a place that generated a perfect storm of talent, technology and isolation, ushering in music that would live on long after the last tape rolled.

UNDER THE VOLCANO is the electrifying story of a musical powerhouse and the secluded hit factory that produced some of the 70s and 80s most iconic records from the world’s most famous artists. Check out the trailer below:

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

Screenshot from Walt Disney Studios’ YouTube channel

Maleficent; that was the first thing that came to mind when I heard they were giving Cruella Deville her own live-action prequel/origin story. The unwatchable cinematic butchery that was Angelina Jolie’s “Maleficent” made it impossible for me not to dread what backward, hack story editing job Disney would perform on Cruella’s story in order to make her more likable, relatable, or some other totally inconsistent perception that has never been associated with the cruel fashion designer since her cinematic debut back in 1961. Cruella is an odd choice for an origins story and I never was her biggest fan, to begin with, but the unique setting piece and distinctive style gave this film an intriguing edge that I thought and hoped would work well.

At the young age of 12, Estelle suffers a horrid tragedy as she loses her home, her mother, and her school in one wicked night. After surviving off the streets for 4 years through thievery with her friends Jasper (Joel Fry) and Horace (Paul Walter Hauser), a grown-up Estelle (Emma Stone) finds herself stumbling into an opportunity to enter the fashion world and make an honest living working for the Baroness (Emma Thompson) as an up and coming fashion designer. As secrets become revealed, Estelle wishes to remake herself for this new life and get revenge on those who wronged her in the past. Now Estelle is making her big debut and becoming who she was destined to be; despite how many hearts and lives she has to ruin in the process.

Unlike Maleficent who lives in a fantasy world of dragons and magic, “Cruella” transports us to a very believable and, dare I say, understandable existence for the villainess-to-be to inhabit. We see her from the literal beginning all the way to her rise to power and fame. The fashion landscape provides a unique environmental structure to mold our hero/villain into the witch she will one day become, and I have to say, after watching this film I can actually see this young Estelle/Cruella turning into the bony, cackling witch from the original animated film down the line. “Cruella” constantly shifts our perception of the character; showing her violent, aggressive side as well as her lonely, ambitious side to make us neither fully support her but neither do we fully condemn her. In the grand scheme of grand schemers, Cruella’s evil ambitions are considerably smaller compared to the likes of Scar, Hades or Ursula. Therefore, this approach works well with Cruella’s backstory and makes it easier to connect with her.

They say the devil is in the details and there is no greater detailed devil than in the choice to have Emma Stone play the future, Ms. Deville. She is completely immersed in the character; diving fully into her personality, her eccentricities, and her outlandish presence. Stone plays Cruella like a living embodiment of damaged goods; longing to wish for a better life and yet twisting yourself into the deep end of the pool at the risk of drowning in the darkness you once stood against. We see signs of her worst behaviors bubbling to the surface as the film progresses, including towards Horace and Jasper, who become so much more 3 dimensional and personal to her backstory; it makes their inevitable devolution into hired goons in the future all the more tragic. As for our villain’s villain, Emma Thompson steals the show almost as much as Emma Stone does. She’s a perfectly cold, shrewd woman who rivals Cruella imperfectly in every way.

The use of fashion, both as a weapon as and as cinematic eye candy was the most impressive and surprising aspect of the whole film. Cruella’s style is perfectly embodied in the costume designs. They feel like living, flowing works of art; warped into numerous unique styles that even make trails of garbage dangling from a dump truck look fashionable. The few areas of weakness I felt needed enhancing fell with Cruella’s evil nature (this is a Disney film after all so naturally much will be held back) and also the soundtrack. “Cruella” is a 2 hour 60 and 70’s jukebox; blasting oldies from those eras almost every 10 minutes. Unlike “Guardians of the Galax” which used its soundtrack as a part of the film’s narrative, “Cruella” just bombards you with so many songs the movie cannot feel like it can’t breathe on its own. It’s like we get it, we know what era we’re in; just let the movie be and give the natural sounds some breathing room.

Overall, “Cruella” is a considerable improvement after the disastrous approach they took to Sleeping Beauty with “Maleficent.” Emma Stone and Emma Thompson are beyond incredible. Their performances truly break them both into new territories and the unique blending of trauma, adventure, heist themes, and fashion themes work surprisingly well together. The music can be a bit overbearing and I do wish Disney would take a bigger chance on keeping their villains’ roots black as their hearts but this is a grand step in the right direction. “Cruella” isn’t exactly what I thought it would be but it’s definitely something I want more of.

I give “Cruella” 3 stars out of 4 stars.

One On One With A Professional Stuntwoman: Introducing Jackie Murray

Jackie Murray is an accomplished martial artist, gymnast, dancer, and business owner. In the film and television industry, she is a successful and dedicated assistant director, production manager, stuntwoman, and actress.

Jackie was born and raised in a Martial Arts family and gained much experience training in locations all across the world including Hong Kong, China, the U.S.A, and her home, Australia. Her primary style is Kung Fu, and she is trained in Karate, Wu Shu, Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, and Tai Chi, including the traditional weaponry of these arts. She is also a proficient Gymnast and is an accredited Level 1 Gymnastics Australia coach.

For many years, Jackie has held ownership over her family’s Martial Arts studio, which she herself expanded to include tuition in Dance, Gymnastics, and Parkour. She is an extremely successful Master, who in 2011, was inducted into the ISKA’s (International Sport Karate Association) Hall Of Fame twice and awarded the title: ‘Female Instructor of the Year’.

Having entered the Film and TV Industry as a child actress, Jackie’s passion for both the Performing Arts and Martial Arts led to her unite the two when she began to pursue Stunts. Here, her skills truly flourished and she showed not only promise as a Stuntwoman but through much experience and training, expanded herself to undertake roles as an Assistant Director -Production Manager and also Safety Assist(WHS).

Jackie has been involved in the Film and TV Industry since childhood, appearing in several commercials and short films. Over the last 10 years, she has gained notable successes as a Stuntwoman for tackling high-risk jobs including multiple full-body burns. She has also gained multiple acting roles in which she has been able to align both her Acting Persona and Stunt Persona to complete both dialogues-heavy and physical roles.

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

Can you tell us more about yourself?

I am a company owner x 4; an actress, stuntwoman, first Assistant Director, Assistant Stunt Coordinator, and Film and TV Safety Supervisor.

What are some of the most known projects you have worked on?

Marvel, The Kingsman, The Bold & the Beautiful, Home & Away, Mavrix, Love you like that, Wyrmwood, The Moth Effect, (Gold with Zac Effron)

-What are your role/s in the film industry?

Stunt woman, Assistant Stunt Coordinator, 1st AD, Actress, Producer, and Safety Supervisor.

What do you like most about what you do?

The Variety of roles I can do.

How dangerous is a stunt job?

Stunt always will have danger attached to the job but with all the safety precautions and training and equipment we now have access to makes our job so much safer to do.

What training and qualifications are required?

There are many qualifications and lots of training that must be done to work within the stunt field. There is also a grading system that must be met and a panel of people run under the MEAA that approve you and your application to become a stunt performer.

There is also a number of levels that you work your way up. When you first get accepted into the stunt world you are known as a SAP and then you apply to work your way up the ranks. See the stages below :

-SAP (Stunt actor provisional)
– Stunt Actor
-Safety Supervisor
– Assistant Stunt Coordinator
_ Stunt Coordinator

Is there an age limit to stunt work?

Too young or too old? Yes, starting age of 18 yrs. However, you can you a younger specialist in a field and request a dispensation from the MEAA Stunt Panel.

Did you find it difficult to work as a stunt woman in a male-driven environment?

Yes, when I first started they were getting the male stuntmen to dress as a woman to do the stunts even when there was a Female stuntwoman available. Times have changed a lot now and there are so many stunt women working within the industry and it’s great to see.

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

There is so much out there in the way of learning… I have a rule that I live by and that is to learn at least one new thing a day. One thing I love is that directors are becoming more accepting of Stunt Coordinators and Stunt Professionals helping out with the actions scenes and having more say in the direction of action scenes and how to shoot and edit them or now more and more we are seeing 2nd unit Action director credits.

What are some of the difficulties of the entertainment business?

The long hours we do and trying to also have a family and children and the travel.

What are the different sorts of stunts?

Wow, there are so many to list and we would need this full magazine to list them all…….. But here a few of the most common used regularly:

-Basic Trip and Falls
– Driving Sequences from basic driving to precision driving to racing, crashing, rolling, and exploding cars.
– Car knockdowns
– Jerk backs
– High Falls
– Fire both on our bodies and explosive fires
– Gun & weapons
-Water & Boat
– Motor Bikes
– Animals
And I could keep going and going…

What is involved in performing a stunt?

Stunts can be very basic to doing things that we think are never possible. What’s involved in a stunt no matter how basic still holds risk and the stunt person and all involved need to be well trained and highly skilled to make it look amazing in a safe way.

So training is a must also making sure preparation of what’s involved is fully thought out and rehearsed over and over to rule out all the risk and show all the possibilities in making a stunt look and work to its full potential in keeping stunt safe but as real as possible so the viewers watching the stunt feel like they are there when it’s happening.

What do you do when you’re not filming?

Okay, so here is yet another long answer that I may need pages for (laughs).

When I am not on set filming which is not very often, I am a mother of 3 amazing children (So cleaning, cooking, school, shopping, and all mother and taxi duties). I am a wife so basically add that to mother of 4. I own 4 companies so working on all the paperwork and everything it takes to run a business with 25 staff. I find time to train and I also prep scripts and do script breakdowns for Safety reports and 1st AD scheduling along with Assist stunt coordinating doing stunt breakdowns and budgeting etc…

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

I have met so many famous actors and would take forever to list them all but some of my favourite for many different reasons are Zac Effron, Rebel Wilson, John Jarrod, Hugh Jackman, Hugh Sheridan, David Wenham, and Susie Porter.

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

The Chilling Trailer for Port Arthur Massacre Movie ‘Nitram’ Has Just Dropped

Photo Credit: Madman Films

Madman Entertainment has just released the official trailer for NITRAM and it looks quite chilling..

NITRAM depicts the events leading up to one of the darkest chapters in Australian history in an attempt to understand why and how this atrocity occurred. Directed by Justin Kurzel (True History of the Kelly Gang, Snowtown) and written by Shaun Grant (Penguin Bloom, Snowtown), the feature film stars Caleb Landry Jones (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Get Out), Essie Davis (The Babadook, Game of Thrones), Judy Davis (My Brilliant Career, The Dressmaker) and Anthony LaPaglia (Lantana, Balibo).

In a statement, the filmmakers commented: “NITRAM was written as a response to the proliferation of regular mass shootings across the world and is an exploration of the issues and events that led to this atrocity, rather than a re-enactment of it, to bring the gun control debate to the fore and to try to ensure history does not repeat itself.”

NITRAM is the first Australian film to compete at Cannes for the Palme D’Or in a decade. NITRAM marks Kurzel’s third feature film to screen at Cannes and his second in competition. The film will have its Australian premiere at Melbourne International Film Festival this August, and a national cinema release soon afterwards. A Good Thing Productions film in conjunction with Stan, NITRAM is produced by GoodThing Productions’ Nick Batzias and Virginia Whitwell (2040, The Australian Dream), alongside Kurzel and Grant.

Synopsis

NITRAM (Caleb Landry-Jones) lives with his mother (Judy Davis) and father (Anthony LaPaglia) in suburban Australia in the Mid 1990s. He lives a life of isolation and frustration at never being able to fit in. That is until he unexpectedly finds a close friend in a reclusive heiress, Helen (Essie Davis). However, when that friendship meets its tragic end, and NITRAM’s loneliness and anger grow, he begins a slow descent into a nightmare that culminates in the most nihilistic and heinous of acts. You can watch the trailer below:

 

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

Photo Credit: Screenshot from IGN’s YouTube Video

It’s hard not to talk about the “Mortal Kombat” franchise without discussing the original film from 1995, and of course, video game films in general. For the most part, “Mortal Kombat” was one of the exceedingly few examples of a video game movie that was critically and financially successful. But video game films quickly became viewed as disasters waiting to happen and after numerous bankrupting failures (Super Mario Bros, Street Fighter, Monster Hunter, House of the Dead, etc.), not to mention the unwatchable mess that is “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation”, it seemed unlikely “Mortal Kombat” would ever be anything more than an ultra-violent video game series. Come 2021 and Warner Bros surprised everyone with a bloody, brutal, dark and gritty new take on the franchise that hopes to turn things around and top the original in every way possible.

MMA fighter Cole Young (Lewis Tan) is an ordinary man who lives an ordinary life fighting ordinary people. Until he is attacked by an ice-wielding super warrior; Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim) because of a strange dragon tattoo. He learns from his new friends Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee) and Jax Briggs (Mehcad Brooks) that tattoo means he is chosen to fight the forces of evil in an epic tournament called ‘Mortal Kombat’ that will decide the fate of the world. Under the tutelage of Raiden, god of thunder (Tadanobu Asano), he must train alongside other gifted warriors like Liu Kang (Ludi Lin), Kung Lao (Max Huang), and rogue mercenary Kano (Josh Lawson) in order to stop Shang Tsung (Chin Han) from invading the realm of Earth and defeating Earth’s champions before they even have a chance to compete in the tournament.

I’ve long wanted to see the director take another bloody stab at remaking Mortal Kombat for a new audience and age and one thing I can safely say right off the bat is: they definitely got the gore right. Many fans criticized the first film for watering down the blood and violence; keeping it PG-13 rated neutered the fatalities and many of the game’s central elements felt stripped away. However, one thing the original film kept that this new one seemed to ditch was the set piece of a tournament. This time around, the tournament is preempted by multiple surprise attacks and blindside fights where the villains try and kill Earth’s champions before the tournament can begin; leading to a chaotic narrative that tries to not feel like it’s all over the place but essentially still is.

The film feels like it’s jumping around too much to keep things focused and cohesive. Even in a video game series about fighting and slicing people in half with buzz saw hats, there is a story to follow. There’s creative effort to include as many characters and signature attacks and finishing moves as possible, so that is why is struck me as odd to invent a tragically boring character like Cole Young who fails to feel interesting on any level and performs like a generic self-audience-insert character made just so we can have someone explain all the exposition to. Josh Lawson and Tadanobu Asano feel like the only actors truly trying here; offering new sides to their characters and fulfilling their roles with enough energy and accuracy that most of the cast cannot deliver.

 Aside from stellar action sequences, updated effects and better costumes, the only real leg up this new take over the original is their new takes on Sub-Zero and Scorpion. Their vividly explored backstories, histories, and hatred for each other were beautifully handled this time around. They became much more than silent fan service ninjas. They felt like real, dangerously intense warriors whose powers were masterfully brought to life with stunning effects that blur the line between practical and CGI. Overall, “Mortal Kombat” offers some interesting new takes and styles that certainly deliver on flashy kills and updated effects and costumes. However, its lack of the tournament as a backdrop and the chaotic nature of the story makes the film feel like a random jointed haze of excellent fights and rushed expositions. I feel this new take on the franchise has the chance to grow into something bigger and better, but at this time, “Mortal Kombat 2021” still hasn’t cleared many of the hurdles the first film handled so well so many years ago.

I give “Mortal Kombat (2021)” 2 ½ stars out of 4 stars.