‘May In The Summer’ From Cherien Dabis Hits Blu-ray In January

May in the Summer - Cohen Media Group

 

May In The Summer, the latest drama from director and writer Cherien Dabis (Amreeka), hits Blu-ray and DVD January 30 via Cohen Media Group.

The storyline centers on May Brennan (Dabis), a woman who is set to marry a New York scholar (Cairo Time actor Alexander Siddig). Her trip to the altar, however, is filled with complications as her Christian mother (Hiam Abbass) disapproves of the scholar’s Muslim faith.

Bill Pullman (The Zero Effect, Independence Day) co-stars as May’s estranged dad and Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development).

Special features on the Blu-ray and DVD include a featurette, stills gallery, and trailer.

 

 

Hayley Atwell Continues ‘Agent Carter’ Adventures With January Premiere

Premiering on ABC Tuesday, January 6 (8-10 pm et/pt), Marvel’s Agent Carter follows Peggy Carter’s (Hayley Atwell) post-Captain America adventures, as she works for the covert organization SSR (Strategic Scientific Reserve).

Though she’s proven her mettle in the battlefield, Peggy has to balance doing administrative work for Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) while undertaking secret missions on the side.

Hayley Atwell, whose previous film credits include the Woody Allen drama Cassandra’s Crossing and The Duchess, talks about Carter’s dilemma when the 7-episode series begins:

We find her in 1946, the year after the end of the first Captain America – we know that she’s lost Steve and she finds herself working at the SSR. It’s a position that’s one that she wants but she’s not used to the full extent of her abilities.

We’ve got the backdrop of gender roles and the politics involved in an environment like that – in a male dominated world for her. So she’s very frustrated – she’s not doing what she’s set out to do. She’s nowhere near (to) fulfilling her destiny. And we see the frustrations (and) what that means to her and her fight to be taken seriously.

Hayley Atwell in Marvel's Agent Carter - (Credit: ABC/Eric McCandless)
Hayley Atwell in Marvel’s Agent Carter – (Credit: ABC/Eric McCandless)

The show also stars Chad Michael Murray (“Agent Jack Thompson”), Enver Gjokai (“Agent Daniel Sousa”), and Boardwalk Empire’s Shea Whigham (“Chief Roger Dooley”).

Kevin Smith Thriller ‘Tusk’ Hits Blu-ray Next Week

Tuck, filmmaker Kevin Smith’s return to cinema, hits Blu-ray and DVD December 30 via Lionsgate Home Entertainment.
Tusk - Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Tusk – Lionsgate Home Entertainment

The story, penned by Smith, centers on a podcaster (Justin Long) who travels to remote area of Canada to interview a recluse (Michael Parks) who has a strange fixation for walruses.

Believing he’s landed a huge story, the podcaster is transformed in more ways than one. Genesis Rodriguez, Haley Joel Osment, and Johnny Depp are among the film’s co-stars.

Special features on the Blu-Ray and DVD include:
  1. Deleted Scenes
  2. Audio commentary with Kevin Smith
  3. “20 Years to Tusk” featurette
  4. SModcast #259: The Walrus and the Carpenter

TUSK

Ricky Jay Gets “Deceptive” For ‘American Masters’ Season Premiere

Ricky Jay is the subject of the Season 29 premiere of American Masters, as Ricky Jay: Deceptive Practice premieres Friday, January 23 at 9 p.m. (PBS).

Known for his lifelong collaboration with director/writer/playwright David Mamet (House of Games, The Spanish Prisoner) and his recurring role on HBO’s DeadwoodJay has carved out a successful career as a magician, bestselling writer, history and actor.

RickyJayPremiere

Ricky Jay: Deceptive Practice, narrated by Dick Cavett, features rare performance footage of Jay and new interviews with his friends and collaborators (Mamet is also interviewed in the special).

“I am truly honored to be included in this iconic series, and grateful to be able to introduce viewers to the great sleight-of-hand artists who were my mentors and my inspiration,” says Jay.

 Ricky Jay. Photo credit: Theo Westenberger/Autry Museum

Ricky Jay. Photo credit: Theo Westenberger/Autry Museum

For more info, please check out: http://pbs.org/americanmasters.

 

Clint Eastwood Puts Cinematic “Heart” Into ‘American Sniper’

Opening in select theaters December 25, American Sniper centers on U.S. Navy Seal Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), a war vet who spent four tours of duty in Iraq. Known as the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history, Kyle’s autobiography (which the film is based on) spent 18 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

Sienna Miller also stars as Kyle’s iron-willed wife Tara Kyle in the film, which is directed by Clint Eastwood.

During the American Sniper press conference Tara Kyle praised the dedication screenwriter Jason Hall, Bradley Cooper and Clint Eastwood had while making the film.

“I do know before they left, (Clint) stopped and he was a little choked up and said, ‘I just want you to know, that your story has my heart.’ I can’t ask for better than that – truly. I feel like this is about the heart of our men and women who serve and their families.” 

To hear Tara Kyle’s full answer, please click on the media bar below.

‘The Hobbit’ Takes Box Office Weekend With $56.2 Million Haul

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies was the number one film over the holiday weekend, as it took in $56.2 million. Coming in a distant second was Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb with $17.3 million, followed by the critically panned musical Annie ($16.3 million). Here’s this weekend’s top 10:

  1. The Hobbit – $56.2 million
  2. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb – A disappointing weekend, as the film’s budget is estimated at $127 million. $17.3 million.
  3. Annie – A solid debut with $16.3 million, as its estimated budget is $65 million.
  4. Exodus: Gods and Kings – $8.1 million this weekend, and an unspectacular $38.7 million domestically in its two weeks of release.
  5. The Hunger Games: Mockingay Part 1 – $7.8 million
  6. Wild – $4.2 million
  7. Top Five – In $3.65 million
  8. Big Hero 6 – $3.6 million
  9. Penguins of Madagascar – $3.5 million
  10. P.K. – $3.5 million
Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

‘Big Eyes’ Featurette Centers On Walter Keane’s Big Lies

Opening December 25, Big Eyes is the true story of Margaret Keane (Amy Adams), a woman who claimed she was the true artist behind Walter Keane’s (Christoph Waltz) work.

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Directed by Tim Burton, the feature deals with Margaret’s journey in stepping out of the shadows of her husband’s popularity and claiming what is rightfully hers.

The new Big Eyes featurette, exclusively available on Yahoo! Screen, contains archival footage of Walter Keane that hasn’t been viewed by the public in over 40 years (it was revealed on last week’s installment of CBS Sunday Morning).

(L-R) AMY ADAMS and CHRISTOPH WALTZ star in BIG EYES
(L-R) AMY ADAMS and CHRISTOPH WALTZ star in BIG EYES
The featurette also contains interviews with Margaret Keane, clips from the movies, and interviews with Big Eyes writers/producers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski.

Season’s Greetings From Santa Claus & The Babadook!

The Babadook has been critically acclaimed and praised for its horrifying premise (can a child’s storybook monster actually be real?) and execution, so in the spirit of the holiday season, IFC Midnight has released a video featuring Santa Claus.

Kris Kringle’s merry chimney excursions take a bit of a violent left turn, unfortunately, and before I spoil the video for you, here it is:

*****The Babadook is now playing in select theaters and is available on VOD.

TheBabadook4

The Babadook’s Boilerplate Summary:

Six years after the violent death of her husband, Amelia (Essie Davis) is at a loss. She struggles to discipline her ‘out of control’ 6 year-old, Samuel (Noah Wiseman), a son she finds impossible to love. Samuel’s dreams are plagued by a monster he believes is coming to kill them both.

When a disturbing storybook called ‘The Babadook’ turns up at their house, Samuel is convinced that the Babadook is the creature he’s been dreaming about. His hallucinations spiral out of control, he becomes more unpredictable and violent. Amelia, genuinely frightened by her son’s behaviour, is forced to medicate him.

But when Amelia begins to see glimpses of a sinister presence all around her, it slowly dawns on her that the thing Samuel has been warning her about may be real.

Exclusive: ‘Aftermath’ Interview With Director Thomas Farone

 

Currently playing at NYC’s Quad Cinema through December 25 (it hits VOD in April), Aftermath centers on a hot tempered yet successful developer named Thomas Fiorini (Anthony Michael Hall) whose life gradually unravels thanks to a huge disagreement between his under pressure lead foreman Matt (Jamie Harrold) and a volatile subcontractor (Chris Penn).

Elisabeth Rohm (American Hustle, TV’s Stalker) co-stars as Thomas’ easy on the eyes wife, with Frank Whaley (Ray Donovan, Swimming With Sharks) and Tony Danza lending support as two lowlifes who, in separate instances, throws Thomas down danger lane.

Anthony Michael Hall in Aftermath - Freestyle Releasing
Anthony Michael Hall in Aftermath – Freestyle Releasing

Director Thomas Farone shot Aftermath in 2006, the same year of Penn’s passing (Leo Burmester, who played the town’s morally questionable lawman, died a year later). Though one can assume Aftermath’s long delay may have been due to the director or the producers ditching the film altogether, the real story emerges. Consider this –  Farone could have rushed the film’s release and attempt to capitalize on Penn’s name.

Since Farone also wrote Aftermath’s screenplay, edited the film, and served as its cinematographer, one can assume he put his creative heart and soul into the project. Though several weeks of reshoots doesn’t seem interminable for a big budgeted movie, things don’t happen overnight for many indie films – and Aftermath was just part of that formula

Tony Danza & Chris Penn in Aftermath - Freestyle Releasing
Tony Danza & Chris Penn in Aftermath – Freestyle Releasing

Farone also understood that composer David Kitay (The Ice Harvest, Relative Strangers) had other Hollywood gigs lined up, and much of the director’s Aftermath process was playing the waiting game. As Farone claims in our interview, he didn’t exactly “linger” in the editing room for years on end. Instead, by waiting for the best elements to come together – whether it’s the score, the reshoots, the distribution, and the film festival submissions – all of this took a lengthy amount of time.

But now Aftermath is finished, and for a low-budget, 84 minute crime thriller, the flick completely delivers. Tony Danza deliberately chews up the scenery (in a good way) as a wannabe tough guy and the aforementioned Burmester is perfect as the slimy, strip club frequenting sheriff.

Anthony Michael Hall & Leo Burmester in Aftermath - Freestyle Releasing
Anthony Michael Hall & Leo Burmester in Aftermath – Freestyle Releasing

The true standout (with respect to Anthony Michael Hall, who also does commendable, unhinged work as the lead) is Chris Penn, a perpetual scene stealer blessed with a ton of presence (for proof, check out Penn’s work in the gangster pic The Funeral). I asked Mr. Farone about his experience on Aftermath collaborating with Penn:

“Chris Penn was incredible. He’s a major talent. He’s very underrated. Careers kind of go as they go, but just from his family and his pedigree, that man is so talented on so many levels. He brought so much to the story. He taught me so much more about character development. The thing that made Chris even more special than that was he was a filmmaker at heart . . . I learned more from that man in my career so far than anybody. He could really talk film and he brought it.”

Part black comedy, part thriller, and eventually all tragedy, Aftermath is a genre hybrid that puts Farone’s manifold talents in display. After watching the movie’s refreshingly surprising climax, I wondered what Farone, who storyboards his narratives, could do with a sizable budget. I also asked him if he’d shoot his next film on digital, since 2014 is a whole different (and in many ways more convenient) world (at least technically) than 2006.

“Good or bad, I do have a strong sense as a filmmaker,” said Farone, who has two scripts already storyboarded and ready to shoot. “To answer your question, I’d shoot both. The best thing about digital (filmmaking) is it allows you to edit when you get your hands on Final Cut and it could really get you started on your craft . .  I’ll always be a film purist  (but) whatever calls for the best filmmaking process – that’s where I would make my choice.”

Aftermath Poster - Freestyle Releasing
Aftermath Poster – Freestyle Releasing

For more info on Aftermath, go to the film’s Facebook page.

Taraji P. Henson Takes The “Leap” With Fox Series ‘Empire’

Premiering Wednesday, January 7 on Fox (9 pm et/pt), Empire centers on Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard), a hip hop mogul who sits on a very coveted throne in the music business. Due to his failing health, Lucious must decide which of his three sons (Bryshere Gray, Jussie Smollett, Trai Byers) will take over his “empire.”

Further complicating matters is his ex-wife Cookie (Taraji P. Henson), who’s been recently released from prison and plans to stake her claim to the family fortune.

EMPIRE: Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon on EMPIRE premiering Wednesday, Jan 7 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Michael Lavine/FOX
EMPIRE: Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon on EMPIRE premiering Wednesday, Jan 7 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Michael Lavine/FOX

With filmmaker Lee Daniels (Lee Daniels’ The Butler, The Paperboy) serving as an executive producer and Timbaland on board as the music supervisor, Empire has collected an impressive cast and crew (the series was created by actor/scribe Danny Strong, who penned the script for Lee Daniels’ The Butler).

For Taraji P. Henson, who previously had a successful run on the CBS series Person of Interest, one reason she joined the series was her overall belief in Fox’s creative direction:

“They’re not afraid to push the envelope. I think Fox is one of the major networks that’s beginning to take that leap – they’re seeing why primetime television shows aren’t being recognized at award shows. Because on HBO and Showtime, they’re making people think. It’s not so safe – that’s life.”

To hear Taraji P. Henson talk about Cookie’s fashion sense on Empire (as well as Cookie’s character arc), click on the audio below: