Dec
19

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Annie is relevant yesterday, today and Tomorrow

1111746 - ANNIE

The new ‘Annie’ updates the classic story for modern audiences, and entertains while asking what defines a family today?

 

Refreshing! That’s the first word that came to mind as I walked out of the movie theatre after seeing the new movie musical Annie. Annie isn’t a new story, it’s an old story revamped with a funky fresh point of view. The story takes place in modern day New York City, and you’ll see a lot of changes; changes you can live with. There’s a diverse cast, Annie is no longer an orphan but a foster kid, she lives in a row house instead of an orphanage in the present instead of The Great Depression, and Daddy Warbucks is now William Stacks.

Annie follows a ten year old foster kid (Quvezhane Wallis) through her day-to-day interactions with fellow foster kids and foster mother all while in pursuit of her real parents. Annie tries to have an upbeat attitude, making the best of each situation even when she’s often disappointed by her lack of parental love. Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz) doesn’t make life any easier for her or the other girls in her care.

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Photo Credit: Sony Pictures
Dec
19

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Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb bids farewell to the franchise and Robin Williams

secretoftomb

It’s billed as one of Robin Williams’ final performances, but is ‘Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb’ as fun-fueled as the previous two films in the franchise?

 

Although it’s been nearly five months since Robin Williams died, the devastating ripples his death left on the entertainment industry – and really the world at large – are still being felt. Ever the busy entertainer, Williams had five films released posthumously, the latest being 20th Century Fox’s Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. I think the only other film with Williams that has not yet been released is Absolutely Anything, which is due in February according to IMDb but he is credited for voice work only in that film. To my knowledge, Night at the Museum marks the final time one can view him on the silver screen, which makes it somewhat special despite what other film critics are saying about it.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb makes history come alive in a fun, meaningful way.

I’ve been a longtime fan of the Night at the Museum franchise since the first installment came out in 2006 for several reasons. One, I really love that it makes history come alive in a fun, meaningful way that children especially can relate to (for if we don’t learn from the past, we’re doomed to repeat it). I know I’ve said this before, but anything we can do to get kids interested in – and actually revved up – about history from an early age should be done. When I was a kid, one of my favorite TV shows was a Canadian children’s program titled Today’s Special, which featured a department store at night. The main characters were Sam Crenshaw, a night security guard, Muffy the talking mouse, Jodie the store’s window dresser and a mannequin named Jeff who magically came to life each night as long as he was wearing his special magic hat. The premise of the Night at the Museum franchise has always reminded me a lot of that old TV show. Each night, the magic of Ahkmenrah’s tablet brings all the inanimate objects in New York’s American Museum of Natural History to life and only the night security guard Larry Daley gets to witness it all.

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Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox
Dec
17

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Win passes to the advance Washington DC screening of Selma

SELMA

Relive the historic events that led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the new drama ‘Selma.’ Be the first to see this new film in DC before it opens on Christmas Day.

 

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CliqueClack has partnered with Paramount Pictures to offer readers in Washington, DC an opportunity to attend an advance screening of the new true-life drama Selma starring David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson, Cuba Gooding Jr., Alessandro Nivola, Giovanni Ribisi, Common, Carmen Ejogo, Lorraine Toussaint, with Tim Roth and Oprah Winfrey as “Annie Lee Cooper.”

Selma is the story of a movement. The film chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. The epic march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Johnson (Wilkinson) signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement. Director Ava DuVernay’s Selma tells the story of how the revered leader and visionary Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Oyelowo) and his brothers and sisters in the movement prompted change that forever altered history.

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Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures
Dec
17

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Hamlet in Leather: The Sons of Anarchy series finale

Sons of Anarchy Finale

After seven seasons and lots of mayhem will ‘Sons of Anarchy’ ride into the sunset or crash and burn?

 

Who would have thought a drama about a biker gang would last seven years? Who would have thought a drama about a biker gang would be riveting, well-written television … for five of those years. Yes Sons of Anarchy has grown a bit long in the tooth and finally taken out to pasture, and while it was a wild ride it petered out in the end. Without a clear adversary like Clay Morrow, the show has felt unfocused for the last two years. Where the first five seasons felt like they had a clear direction, Jax struggling with his outlaw ways and the wishes of his dead father to legitimize their club, these last two seemed to forget that and dive headfirst into the seedy criminal world of Samcro. The series finale tries to rectify this somewhat, returning to a Jax who knows that he and his brothers in arms are bad men that do bad things. If it did nothing else, this change redeems the mess the series had become. We get to see our anti-hero reconcile what he is and what he’s done and finally take responsibility for his sins… on his own terms of course. Continue reading 'Hamlet in Leather: The Sons of Anarchy series finale' »

Photo Credit: FX
Dec
17

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The Hobbit trilogy ends with bloodshed and tears, but is it any good?

THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF FIVE ARMIES

Peter Jackson’s ‘Hobbit’ trilogy comes to an end and we bid farewell to Middle-earth after 14 years. But can ‘The Battle of the Five Armies’ stand up against ‘The Return of the King’?

 

There is probably just as much folly in trying to review The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies as there was in making three movies out of a very slim volume of a book. If you’re a fan of the films, you’ll see it no matter what some critic says, and if you’re not a fan there’s nothing I or anyone else could say to convince you to see it (and who would go see the third part of a trilogy without seeing the first two parts anyway?).

The plot, in a nutshell, picks up exactly where we left off in The Desolation of Smaug. The fearsome dragon is launching an all-out attack on Laketown, Gandalf is still imprisoned somewhere, and Thorin and his compatriots are hoping to reclaim their land, their home, their birthright once Smaug is dispatched. Once that happens, everyone in Middle-earth shows up to claim the land (and the treasure) for themselves. There’s bloodshed, there is death, there are tears, but in the end can this trilogy stand up next to The Lord of the Rings? In a word, no. Think Star Wars Episodes I-III compared to Episodes IV-VI (but maybe not quite that bad).

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Photo Credit: Warner Brothers Pictures
Dec
15

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Win passes to see The Gambler in DC or Baltimore

THE GAMBLER

Take a gamble and you could win free passes to see Mark Wahlberg’s new movie ‘The Gambler’ in Baltimore or DC. Read on to find out how to win.

 

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CliqueClack has partnered with Paramount Pictures to offer readers in Baltimore and DC an opportunity to attend an advance screening of the new thriller The Gambler starring Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, Brie Larson and Jessica Lange.

Jim Bennett (Wahlberg) is a risk taker. Both an English professor and a high-stakes gambler, Bennett bets it all when he borrows from a gangster (Michael Kenneth Williams) and offers his own life as collateral. Always one step ahead, Bennett pits his creditor against the operator of a gambling ring (Alvin Ing) and leaves his dysfunctional relationship with his wealthy mother (Lange) in his wake. He plays both sides, immersing himself in an illicit, underground world while garnering the attention of Frank (Goodman), a loan shark with a paternal interest in Bennett’s future. As his relationship with a student (Larson) deepens, Bennett must take the ultimate risk for a second chance.

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Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures
Dec
15

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Ascension marks Syfy’s continued focus on returning to its sci-fi roots

Ascension Cast SyFy

‘Ascension’ is a piece of bold, genre-based storytelling that we have seen very little of on Syfy in the past couple of years. If it succeeds this week, the story will find place on the network’s schedule and help solidify Syfy’s focus on science fiction.

 

Slowly but surely, things are starting to change at Syfy. The network that once eschewed its roots in science-fiction programming in a move to grab ratings – and admittedly stability – is finally coming back around. Gone are the days when there was more wrestling than shows like Stargate: Universe (admittedly the WWE still has a place on the network, but sci-fi fans will take their gains where they can). Continuum and Defiance begat Dominion and Helix which are shepherding in 12 Monkeys and The Expanse (!!!). Depending on your opinion of the Sharknado franchise, Syfy has done a solid job at creating event television; Ascension, a mini-series premiering this week, hopes to continue that tradition.

Syfy President Dave Howe told The Hollywood Reporter earlier this week that they don’t invest in miniseries programs without the potential backdoor for a series run, and what I’ve seen of Ascension thus far (the network has released the first two hours out of the six total), that is a really good thing. At San Diego Comic-Con earlier this year, I had the opportunity to sit down with the show’s creator Phillip Levens and members of the cast: Brian Van Holt (Ascension’s captain William Denninger), Tricia Helfer (Denninger’s wife Viondra), Andrea Roth (Doctor Juliet Bryce) and Al Sapienza (Councilman Rose). Between those conversations, and viewing the first two hours, this is what we’ve learned: Continue reading 'Ascension marks Syfy’s continued focus on returning to its sci-fi roots' »

Photo Credit: Syfy, Ivey West
Dec
12

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Win passes to an advance screening of Unbroken

Film Title: Unbroken

Be among the first to see the new biographical drama ‘Unbroken’ in Baltimore, DC, Virginia Beach, Boston or Plainville. Find out how you can get passes to the advance screening.

 

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CliqueClack has partnered with Universal Pictures to offer readers inBaltimore, DC, Virginia Beach, Boston and Plainville an opportunity to attend an advance screening of the new true-life drama Unbroken starring Jack O’Connell, Domhnall Gleeson, Finn Wittrock, Garrett Hedlund, John Magaro and Alex Russell.

Academy Award winner Angelina Jolie directs and produces Unbroken, an epic drama that follows the incredible life of Olympian and war hero Louis “Louie” Zamperini (O’Connell) who, along with two other crewmen, survived in a raft for 47 days after a near-fatal plane crash in WWII — only to be caught by the Japanese Navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp.

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Photo Credit: Universal Pictures
Dec
12

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Top Five is a laugh-out-loud love story

TOP FIVE

Chris Rock’s wickedly funny ‘Top Five’ brings a modern twist to a fairy tale love story. But will this fairy tale come true?

 

Writer/Director Chris Rock scores a home run. I am a sap for love stories, even R-rated love stories. I don’t like the simple love stories where boy meets girl, they fall in love and live happily ever after. I like the complicated ones where everything isn’t perfect, where everything doesn’t go as planned. Where nothing is what it seems and where you always need to be ready for the next twist and turn. Chris Rock seems to have accomplished that goal with his campy, nothing is out of bounds, no-holds-barred comedy on love. Top Five is one weird, twisted fairy tale.

Packaged in a stupid bear costume, a comedian tries to take on a serious role as a Haitian Revolutionary but no one will take him seriously. With such a weird storyline, I didn’t think it would capture my attention even with its star-studded cast. I was wrong … dead wrong. Underneath all the famous comedian bullshit is a guy, a regular guy who gets typecast as an incredibly stupid, but funny talking bear named Hammy. He achieves the stardom, the money and the fame but he is somehow empty. He finally reaches a point in his life where he’s tired of all the bullshit: the drinking, the endless days on the road. He wants to settle down, get married and take on more challenging, serious acting roles. He wants his life to have meaning.

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Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures
Dec
12

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The Imitation Game is a valiant failure of a prestige movie

the imitation game

‘The Imitation Game’ is yet another movie that tries to use great acting to make a mediocre movie good. It almost works.

 

Historical biopics are tricky, as I’ve mentioned several times before. I don’t much care for ones that screw it up, and I care even less for ones wholly meant for getting some awards. And perhaps, just perhaps, I’m a bit sick of Benedict Cumberbatch everywhere. The man is a good actor, but I did not like his performance in Star Trek Into Darkness or August Osage County, plus he was unrecognizable CGI in The Hobbit movies. Now he’ll be starring in a new Marvel movie as comic book magician Dr. Strange? He’s getting on my nerves a bit. But on the other hand, that doesn’t mean I should necessarily judge the movie he’s in based on his Jude Law penchant for being in movies.  No, no, it’s just better to judge the movie instead.

The Imitation Game tells some of the story of famed World War II technological innovator Alan Turing’s life, based on the book Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges. Alan Turing, played by the omnipresent Benedict Cumberbatch, is essentially responsible for pioneering advances that led to the first digital computer. The movie utilizes a limp wristed and ill-advised wraparound device, starting in 1952 with Turing’s home mysteriously robbed but seemingly with nothing of value lost. By virtue of a sort of flashback induced by a police inspector interrogating Turing, the rest of the movie is shown. Now, if you ask me, this device did not work. It made no sense, and served no real purpose, because it tried to create a mystery of “why did he get robbed,” but the question is not answered. Instead, we get barely anything on what really happened; but I’ll get back to that in a minute.

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Photo Credit: The Weinstein Company