ericvespe FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

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    • Sundance 2018 Opening Night Film BLINDSPOTTING Review!

      9 hours ago

      ericvespe

      I've been Sundance at least a half a dozen times at this point, but I have never, ever scored a ticket to the opening night movie. This is a little bit inside baseball, but bear with me a second... The way this festival works is that there are press badges for folks like me that get you into press screenings, but you need a hard ticket for any public screenings


      The press screenings are lovely and for opening night they typically run the press screenings at the same time as the first couple of movies play, which is a break from the typical day-after wait we have to do. So I've always done the press screenings. It's less stressful, I see the movies at the same time, etc.


      But I was able to request a ticket this morning for the actual premiere at the giant Eccles Theater and low and behold I got one. That meant I could see the film in a giant house and get to watch the Q&A afterward. It also meant that I finally, for the first time in however many Sundances, I got to see Robert Redford in the flesh.


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      He came out to welcome everybody to Sundance and officially kick off the festival. Being a massive fan of his work throughout the years (no shit, The Entertainer from The Sting played in my head as I witnessed him walk out on stage) this was a legitimate thrill, even if his time up there was brief. You could still feel the passion he had for cinema and his love of this fest and the Sundance Lab that mentors up and coming filmmakers.


      You could say I was buzzed and in the right frame of mind to let this movie work on me. That's fair, but I've been in some really exciting screening scenarios in my life (from world premieres to hand-picked-by-the-director months early previews) and felt the air get sucked out of the room right away.


      That didn't happen with Blindspotting. Quite the opposite in fact.


      It should be noted before I start talking about all the stuff I loved about this movie that I know two of the producers pretty well. That wouldn't stop me from being honest about my opinion of their movie (and certainly hasn't in the past), but I get that it muddies the water a little bit and wanted to be up front about that so you could decide for yourself if that bias shows through in this review.



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      Blindspotting shifts tones wildly, but it's not at random. It'll be a funny buddy movie one minute and then out of nowhere shit gets real. Writers (and stars) Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal as well as director Carlos Lopez Estrada very smartly used these tone shifts to put the audience off guard.


      One minute Diggs and Casal are cruising around Oakland, freestyling raps about their day to day lives and taking the piss out of each other the way that only best friends can and the next minute Diggs witnesses a police officer shooting a black man who is running from him.


      We're as stunned as Diggs' character is and we feel his trauma at that moment. We understand his situation. He's a good guy trying to do right by those he loves, but he's also at the tail end of his parole. We don't find out until later exactly what his crime was, but we know he's served time for a felony and is trying his best to play by the rules so he can get some semblance of his life back.


      That adds a tension when he witnesses this shooting. He's out after his curfew, just wanting to get back to the halfway house so he doesn't risk adding another year to the parole and this happens to occur right in front of him.


      This dredges up all sorts of emotions. Fear, guilt, anger. It's one thing to live as a black man in Oakland and know this is a possibility. It's another to witness it, especially when coming forward would put him in the crosshairs even if it wouldn't automatically trigger a lapse of his parole.


      What's interesting about this movie is that as heavy as that is as subject matter it doesn't weigh the movie down. There's emotional payoff to it all, of course, but it's not a preachy movie trying to make all the white folks in the crowd feel guilty and all the people of color in the audience angry. There's way more to it than that.


      Blindspotting is a movie about race relations, yes, but it's also about gentrification, cultural appropriation, a deeply complex friendship that is both supportive and toxic in equal measure. All that is there, but it hangs on the two lead characters.


      I was quasi-familiar with Daveed Diggs before this movie. I knew he was one of the original talents behind Hamilton and that was about it. I'd never heard of Rafael Casal before last night. Having seen the movie I'm convinced we'll be seeing a lot of both of these guys in the near future. The countdown for one or both of them being cast in a big superhero movie or Star Wars or something is officially on. Their charisma is that good, especially together.


      Apparently Diggs and Casal are longtime friends and it shows on the screen. Diggs is the down and out ex-con trying to make his life better and Casal is his white, grill-wearing best friend that is either determined to drag him down or pull him up. You're never quite sure and the truth is he does both, but he's not a malicious dude. He's loyal to a fault and is so smooth he could sell ice to an Eskimo.


      The true delight of this film is watching these two together. Director Carlos Lopez Estrada smartly lets the charisma of his fantastic cast carry the film. Diggs and Casal are front and center, but they're surrounded by some great performances.


      There's Janina Gavankar (probably best known to The Know readers as the face and voice of Iden Versio in Battlefront II) who plays Val, Diggs' ex-girlfriend who has cut romantic ties after his incarceration. There's obviously still something there between them. She's supportive, helping him in real ways (like getting him a job while on parole), but she refuses to let him get distracted by rekindling the romance.


      This role could have been one note and Gavankar could have easily come off as naggy if we didn't see so much unspoken emotion between her and Diggs. The character is written better than most of this type and Gavankar plays it perfectly.


      Despite the focus of the movie being on male friendship there are surprisingly many strong female characters. From Diggs' character's strong-willed mother to Casal's wife who absolutely is the glue holding that family together.


      Gavankar gets the most screen time of any of the strong women in this film, but even though they don't dominate the narrative the women in this story are complex and multi-dimensional.


      That brings us to Ethan Embry who delivers a mostly silent, but hugely powerful performance here as the cop that shoots down the fleeing suspect. I don't want to say much about this part, but Embry does so much with so little that I was flat out floored by a big moment he has.


      The effects of the shooting are way more on display than the event itself. There's a little bit of PTSD injected into Diggs' performance and it rocks his character to his core, but more than that it puts the audience in his shoes. For the super white folk (like me) it allowed us to feel a fraction of that fear and tension that people of color live with every moment of every day. I became instantly pessimistic. I saw trouble in every police car that drove by and felt like everything was going to end horribly.


      Whether it does or not I'll let the movie tell you when you eventually get the chance to see it, but the fact that it did indeed place me in the shoes of someone with a wholly different life experience than my own proves to me that it was a huge success.


      I don't expect everybody to love this one. Some film watchers hate it when tone shifts on a dime like it does here. I love it, personally, because that adds a layer of unpredictability that is always exciting, but it can throw a whole lot of people off. The message of the movie is laid on pretty thick in the final act. If you're on board, it'll have you on the edge of your seat. If you're not then you could find yourself pulled even further out of the film, but I have to believe just about everybody who spends any amount of time watching Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal (and his character's ridiculously adorable young son) play around with each other will be charmed into submission pretty quickly. I know I was.


      This was a hell of a start of the festival. We got lots and lots of movies coming up, but I already feel like I'm playing with the house's money, so to speak. I'm ahead of the game with one great movie already behind me. Can't wait to see what else is in store.

    • Izayer asked ericvespe a question

      Where do you get your film news? I'm a film enthusiast and hope to one day direct a lot of cool short story movies and featured length movies.

      Answered: Jan 17, 2018

      I curate a pretty solid Twitter stream filled with entertainment reporters, aggregators, actors, directors, producers and just plain ol' cinephiles. That means there's commentary for just about every bit of news that comes down the pipe. I also check out the scoopers regularly. Deadline, Hollywood Reporter, Variety, etc. 


      Good luck on the director goal. It's a lot of work, but if you've got stories to tell then you're in the right field! 

    • Happy Birthday to the not dead John Carpenter!

      2 days ago

      ericvespe

      One of our best living filmmakers is John Carpenter. Or, if you're Rotten Tomatoes, rest in peace you sweet baby angel. 


      John Carpenter is not dead, but Rotten Tomatoes accidentally tweeted out a past-tense look back at his career using the phrasing "John Carpenter would have been 70 years old today..." 



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      Oops. They even picked the worst photo of Carpenter known to exist. 


      The article it actually links to knows the horror master is still alive and kicking, so someone managing Rotten Tomatoes' socials made a boo-boo. 


      But since it's John Carpenter's birthday I had a question I proposed to Twitter... This fun exercise is a Sophie's Choice of sorts. Carpenter has made a huge amount of great films. Not just good. Flat out great. So, I put this out there. You get to pick one of his films, only one, and from this moment on you can watch it as many times as you want until the day you die. But you never ever get to rewatch any of his other films. Which film do you choose? 


      There are a few obvious contenders. Of course there's his most famous film, a movie that defined a genre, setting a template that still exists in the horror genre today. Naturally I'm talking about Halloween. 




      Halloween still holds up and is on regular rotation in my Halloween season playlist every year. Nothing quite gets me in the mood for my favorite holiday than Carpenter's film. That score is an all-timer and instantly sets the mood.


      It wouldn't be my pick, though. I'd miss it terribly, but it wouldn't be my choice.


      The clear winner of the informal Twitter poll was The Thing. That's hard to argue against. The Thing is a masterpiece of paranoia, suspense and just overall badassery. Boasting some of the best practical effects ever captured on celluloid (courtesy of the great Rob Bottin), The Thing is probably the best movie Carpenter has ever made, but again... it wouldn't be my choice.




      Don't get me wrong, The Thing is one of the most re-watchable movies ever and I'd be gutted to never get the chance to screen it again, but it was another Kurt Russell/John Carpenter collaboration that jumped immediately to mind when I cooked up this rather evil movie geek hypothetical. 




      My desert island John Carpenter movie would be Big Trouble In Little China. There are a few key reasons behind my logic here. One, the movie's the most fun thing Carpenter ever did. From the first frame to the last it's a quick-witted, sharp-tongued, visual feast. Secondly it'd never get old. I could watch Kurt Russell as Jack Burton for decades. He's so earnest and alpha and teensy bit dumb. There's something amazing about watching Jack Burton bumble his way through events he can't explain.


      And that brings us to the real the reason Big Trouble In Little China is my choice. It's singular. The Thing is a masterpiece, but there are other great paranoid thrillers and visceral effects-driven horror movies. Starman is incredibly heartfelt and touching, but there are other (better) friendly alien visiting earth movies. Escape From New York is incredible, but you can always go for Mad Max if you want an anti-hero in a crazy post-apocalyptic landscape.


      But there is nothing like Big Trouble In Little China. There would be no way for me to scratch that itch should I never get to watch it again. 


      So even though I'm one of the most vocal defenders of In the Mouth of Madness and Prince of Darkness and have seen Halloween, EFNY, Assault on Precinct 13, The Fog and They Live dozens of times each, Big Trouble In Little China is my pick.


      It's a testament to just how amazing John Carpenter is as a filmmaker that there are so many incredible options.


      Which one would you choose?

    • John Wick: The TV Show!!! Kinda...

      6 days ago

      ericvespe

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      John Wick is badass. We all know this. You don't mess with his car or his dog... hell, just leave the man alone period. 


      We've gotten two very cool movies and now Starz is moving forward with a John Wick-based TV Show... kind of. 


      Remember that super rad assassin hotel? Well, that'll be the setting for this show called, appropriately enough, The Continental. 


      That's actually a really cool idea for a spin-off show. The world-building surrounding that hotel is what sets John Wick apart from your average run of the mill action movie... that and the brutal head-shot-filled action choreography. 


      Keanu Reeves will serve as producer and while there's no guarantee he'll show up they've already hinted that Mr. Wick could pop up in some capacity.


      Sons of Anarchy's Chris Collins will act as show runner and John Wick director Chad Stahelski will direct the pilot. 

    • Leonardo DiCaprio to Star In Quentin Tarantino's Next Movie!

      6 days ago

      ericvespe

      I didn't intend to write about two upcoming serial killer-themed movies in a row, but sometimes that Friday news dump brings you unexpected connections like that.


      Deadline is reporting that Leonardo DiCaprio will be rejoining his Django Unchained director for that still Untitled Charles Manson-related flick. Quentin Tarantino has gone out to say it's not exactly about Manson and his crimes, but it does take place in LA at the time Manson and his family were active. 



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      DiCaprio will be playing an aging actor (so not Manson) and that's about all that is known. We do know that Tarantino wants Margot Robbie to play Sharon Tate, the very pregnant model, actress and wife of Roman Polanski who ended up being the Manson Family's most high-profile victim. 


      Deadline reiterates that the project still has other A-listers circling for two meaty parts. Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt are potentially joining the project as well, which, if it happens, would make this one of the most jam-packed star-studded films since the Oceans films.


      The draw of Tarantino will do that, I guess. Can't wait to see what he does with this one!

    • John Malkovich is playing the Judge in Zac Efron's Ted Bundy flick!

      6 days ago

      ericvespe

      One of the higher profile indie flicks in the works right now is one called "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile," alluding to words leveled at the real life serial killer Ted Bundy. 


      True Crime and/or My Favorite Murder podcast enthusiasts should know about Bundy already, but if you're more well-adjusted than us murderinos all you need to know is that Ted Bundy was one of the most famously charming psychopaths in American history. 


      The man was handsome and had a rather catching cult of personality, which made for a deadly combination when you put all that into a serial killer. He confessed to 30 murders and it's thought he may have killed nearly 3x that. 


      One of the most interesting things about the whole insane Ted Bundy case wasn't so much the gory awful murder stuff, but his trials. Yes, trials, plural. He decided to serve as his own attorney and escaped from custody multiple times only to fuck it up and get caught again. 


      It's a fascinating true life story and one that will be told with Zac Efron playing Bundy, Lily Collins playing Bundy's longtime girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer and directed by Joe Berlinger, one of the documentarians behind the Paradise Lost films. 


      The big news today is that John Malkovich has joined the cast, playing the Judge at one of Bundy's trials.



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      The thought of Malkovich playing a fed up judge during the Ted Bundy trial makes me smile. I know it's fucked up to be looking forward to a Ted Bundy movie, but man am I looking forward to this one. 


      Voltage Pictures has financed the film and it begins production next week. 

    • You Get To See Deadpool 2 Earlier Than You Thought!

      1 week ago

      ericvespe

      Fox just shuffled around dates on most of their superhero properties. The good news is that means you get to see Deadpool 2 about two weeks earlier than you were supposed to! The flick moved to a May 18th, 2018 from its original date of June 1st, which puts the Merc With A Mouth out a solid week before Solo. 



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      It's a curious move. Yes, it's better to give Deadpool a week to breathe instead of releasing it in the wake of a new Star Wars movie, but the crazy thing about the first Deadpool was how long the legs were on it. It kept raking in money for weeks thanks mostly to it being released in a tentpole-free February environment. 


      Moving it to summer in the first place was a head-scratcher for me, but it does show the faith in the property.


      No matter what, it's better for Deadpool to be slightly ahead of the pack, so good move, Fox! 


      Also of note, they pushed back Josh Boone's New Mutants 10 whole months, from moving it from April of this year to February 2019 (essentially giving it Gambit's old window). New Mutants takes a more horror-movie approach to the X-universe and it bums me out I have to wait over a year for it now, but hey... if the movie's good the movie's good. That's what matters. But I am a very impatient person and I want it NOW!

    • Gore Verbinski Asks To Be Dealt Out On Gambit

      1 week ago

      ericvespe

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      The big comic book news today is that Gore Verbinski is walking away from directing Gambit


      This is a major blow to this film in general and for me personally. The idea of Gore Verbinski lending his cinematic eye to a major Marvel character was pretty exciting to me and him walking away has diminished a lot of the excitement I had about the project.


      Don't get me wrong, I dig the character and any excuse to have Channing Tatum turn up the charm to 11 is something I'm down to see, but if I'm going to be honest it was Verbinski's involvement that made me excited to see a Gambit movie more than it just being a Gambit movie.


      Word is Fox is on the hunt for a new director and they also announced today that they're pushing back the release date from Valentine's Day 2019 to June 7th, 2019. 


      The Gambit movie has a bad habit of shaking directors. Doug Liman and Rupert Wyatt were also attached at some point to make this movie and left. With the release date only moved a few months that doesn't give Fox a lot of wiggle room and I expect we'll hear about them hiring a solid journeyman director to just come in and make this thing. They definitely don't have time to bring on a visionary who builds this from the script up.

    • Is Marvel Finally Moving Forward With A Standalone Black Widow Movie?

      1 week ago

      ericvespe

      Variety is reporting that we may finally have some movement on a standalone Black Widow movie. Before you get too excited the news isn't so much that this movie has a greenlight (it doesn't) but the MCU brass likes the idea enough to hire a screenwriter to take a shot at bringing us Natasha Romanoff's very own movie. 


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      The screenwriter they've hired is a woman by the name of Jac Schaeffer, a relative newcomer who had a Blacklist script titled The Shower (about an alien invasion during a baby shower) that grabbed a lot of attention. 


      Kevin Feige met with several people according to Variety before tapping Schaeffer, but the most interesting part of the story to me is that he consulted with Scarlett Johansson before making any creative decision on who would be writing the screenplay.


      That's interesting because Johansson is one of the key players whose contract ran out after filming the Avengers 3 and 4 yet, if this story is accurate, she's still being consulted about the direction of her character. To me that says that Johansson has re-upped for more MCU films or, at the very least, Marvel expects her to. 


      That doesn't mean she escapes Thanos' attack, though. Keep in mind a standalone Black Widow film could be an origin story or chronicle some adventure at any point in her career. I'm hoping for a true blue spy espionage flick, much like Winter Soldier was a real deal Cold War thriller. One of the ways to keep the MCU fresh is to explore different genres and Black Widow in a gritty, bloody and bruising spy flick would be pretty awesome.


      What do you guys think? 

    • Millie Bobby Brown To Play Sherlock's Little Sister In Enola Holmes!

      1 week ago

      ericvespe

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      Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown has set her next big adventure. She's wrapped her work on the Godzilla sequel and will move on to starring in and producing (!!!) a series of films about Sherlock Holmes' sister, Enola. 


      Based on Nancy Springer's Young Adult series following the sleuthing adventures of Sherlock and Mycroft's much younger sister, this would seem a perfect vehicle for Ms. Brown. For one she'd finally get to use her natural accent and secondly she has proven to be able to handle the intensity and intelligence a role like this would require.


      It also blows my mind a little bit that she's actively producing already. The film will be funded by Legendary Pictures (who just made the Godzilla film she starred in), but it was set up by Brown's own PCMA Productions banner. Very smart business move by anybody, let alone someone so young. I think she's got a long career ahead of her.

  • Comments (8)

    • Izayer FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold Keeper of Stories

      2 months ago

      Wow. I remember when the podcast guys talked about you when they were still the Drunk Tank. Welcome. I'm sure that RT will regret love having you write for The Know! Welcome aboard!

    • prydie

      2 months ago

      Great to see you've found a new home! Looking forward to more of your work.

    • SailorGirl81 FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold Keeper Of Kittens

      2 months ago

      Welcome to Rooster Teeth and The Know!

    • RiverRunning

      2 months ago

      Hello :)

    • RWBimbie Keeper of Poems

      2 months ago

      Heyo !

    • ItsMeMara FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

      2 months ago

      Welcome to The Know can't wait to see what you bring to the community!!

    • EricHVela FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold Fiery the Angels rose,..

      2 months ago

      MOVIES!


      I mean...


      WELCOME!


      (and MOVIES!)

    • Donjre

      2 months ago

      Welcome!

  • Questions answered by ericvespe

    I curate a pretty solid Twitter stream filled with entertainment reporters, aggregators, actors, directors, producers and just plain ol' cinephiles. That means there's commentary for just about every bit of news that comes down the pipe. I also check out the scoopers regularly. Deadline, Hollywood Reporter, Variety, etc. 


    Good luck on the director goal. It's a lot of work, but if you've got stories to tell then you're in the right field! 

    Favorite 80s movie monster and why?

    | Asked by: Xuelder 2 months ago

    This is an excellent question. Do you go by design? Quality of the movie or series they're in? Lasting chills? Design would be between Predator, Pumpkinhead and Gill-Man from Monster Squad (all created by the late, great Stan Winston, by the way). I watched more Friday the 13th movies growing up than I did Nightmare on Elm Street, but I like the character of Freddy more, especially in that first film and Dream Warriors. It might not be the most original answer, but I'd probably go with Freddy.

    Absolutely not. That's what being a geek is all about. I can't tell you how many cool, random, weird movies I've found while chasing down movies with favorite character actors in it or directed by people I dig. That's the fun of all this!

    Honestly (and I know this makes me sound like a politician, but it's true) I love all kinds of movies. It's hard for me to pick between Jaws and Casablanca or The Exorcist and Raiders of the Lost Ark or The Lord of the Rings and The Godfather. I definitely have a soft spot for horror and sci-fi and I'm usually more willing to give a new random horror flick a shot over some drama I've never heard about.

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