Category Archives: News

The latest news and rumors coming from Hollywood!

Janis Joplin Film, “Little Girl Blue,” to Air on PBS American Masters Series

Janis: Little Girl Blue, the new Janis Joplin documentary film created by Oscar-nominated director Amy Berg, is currently playing in movie theaters across the country. (Go see it while it’s still in the theaters!) But for those of you who don’t live near an art-house theater, you will be pleased to know that the theatrical run will be followed by airings on the PBS American Masters series.

Janis: Little Girl Blue had its premiere at the Venice Film Festival in late 2015. And it is set to be broadcast on American Masters on 5/3/2016.

Berg worked with the support of Joplin’s family on the film, which offers previously unseen glimpses of the singer’s personal life. Speaking with Billboard, Berg underlined her reasons for taking on the project while praising Joplin’s tremendous cultural impact.

“She put women in rock on the map. She literally was the first female rock star and she did it in such a strong way and we’re still reaping the benefits of that today,” Berg argued. “And I think her music is just as relevant today as it was in 1968-69.”

Joplin’s own words tell much of the film’s story, through a series of letters she wrote to her parents over the years, many of them made public here for the first time (and read by Southern-born indie rock star Cat Power). This correspondence is only one element of the stunning, previously unseen material Berg discovered during the seven years she has spent working on Janis: Little Girl Blue. New audio and video of Joplin in concert and in the studio, and even footage from her emotional return to Port Arthur for her 10th high school reunion, add depth and texture to this remarkable story.

Keep an eye on your local listings for more information.

Click here to read The Film Box commentary, by HelenHighly, that reviews Little Girl Blue and compares it to the Peggy Guggenheim documentary, Art Addict, also currently in release. The two stories have surprisingly similarities and together offer an insightful look into the nature of art and artists.

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When she is not writing about film and art on her blog, HelenHighly.com, Helen Kaplow is busy being a culture vulture in her adopted home of New York City. 

Janis Joplin: Film, Birthday & “Pearl” Anniversary Month

Janis Joplin: Film, Birthday & Pearl Anniversary Month

This is the month of the talented and controversial singer-songwriter, Janis Joplin, who rose to fame in the late 1960s and was featured in a recent documentary film titled Little Girl Blue. There are three reasons to remember her this January:

  • Joplin’s birthday was January 19, 1943, so she would have turned 73 this coming Monday. Joplin died at the young age of 27, from a heroin overdose.
  • Also this month is the 45-year anniversary of the release of Pearl, Joplin’s second and final solo studio album, released posthumously by Columbia Records, in January 1971.
  • And, a new documentary film about Janis Joplin, Little Girl Blue, directed by Amy Berg, was officially released this past December but is in wide distribution this January. The film has been critically well-received and is being used by many to pay tribute to Joplin this month, in commemoration of her birthday and her most-famous album.

Click here to read The Film Box review of the Janis Joplin documentary, Little Girl Blue.

Janis Joplin film poster
Janis Joplin film poster

Joplin’s Southeast-Texas hometown of Port Arthur plans to commemorate her life this weekend, with two events scheduled in her honor. The first is a tribute concert where Amber Martin will perform some of the blues-rock legend’s greatest songs during a live show. Then, on Saturday, Avril Falgout, a Port Arthur native, will celebrate Joplin with the unveiling of a new sculpture in her home town. Click here for more info.

A few of the songs made famous by Joplin are Piece of My HeartBall ‘n’ ChainTo Love SomebodyCry BabyMercedes Benz, and her only number one hit, Me and Bobby McGee.

Rolling Stone ranked Joplin number 46 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time in 2004, and it ranked her number 28 on its 2008 list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. Janis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. Joplin remains one of the top-selling musicians in the United States, with 15.5 million albums sold in the USA.

Deadpool Rated R

Deadpool Rated R For Strong Language, Violence, Sexual Content and Graphic Nudity

It appears Deadpool star, Ryan Reynolds can rest easy as he’s atoned for for the comic book sins he committed in Wolverine Origins and Green Lantern. As it should have,  Fox’s Deadpool has successfully earned an R rating.

If you’ve seen the entertaining trailers released already, it’s clear the movie was heading in that direction already. Especially with a red banded  trailer coming out over Christmas that was full of impalements, f-bombs, ass cheeks (strippers and Deadpool’s) a soccer ball style decapitation, gunplay, and sexual innuendo.

The biggest concern was exactly how much of the violence and naughtiness would make it past the cutting room floor into the final film. And from the looks of it, it appears nearly all of it does. As it should be. Hell, with what we’ve seen so far, it will be very interesting to see what bits and dialogue didn’t make it into the film.

Deadpool is a Marvel comics character introduced in the 90’s who grew into mainstream popularity in the early 2000’s due to the character’s tongue in cheek absurdity.  A mutant mercenary with the ability to heal almost instantly from nearly any wound, Deadpool is so loved because the character is so unhinged. Almost every word that comes out of his mouth is a joke. He has a deep love for all things chimichanga’s. And he constantly breaks the fourth wall, often talking directly to the readers of his comic book in hilarious unexpected ways. In a world full of anti-heros, Deadpool is the most anti of them all.

deadpool-movie-costume-pic-2

And the film’s producers seem to have embraced the character’s nuttiness not only in the film, but in their marketing and promotion efforts as well. For instance, the film’s official Twitter account is still only following Hello Kitty. Promotional photos have shown Deadpool holding a teddy bear hostage. Billboard signs have begun appearing that are absolutely ridiculous and brilliant at the same time. And there was a sexy little fireside photo shoot of Ryan Reynolds on a bearskin rug that had it’s 15 seconds of internet fame when it was released.

Which is all a huge relief considering how the character was so badly butchered when Reynolds played him in the questionable Wolverine: Origins. The movie infamously sewed the Merc with a Mouth’s lips shut at the end and shoved two giant swords up his arms in a boneheaded decision that made fans throw up their hands in disgust. (Another popular X-Men character, Gambit was also butchered in the film and appears to be getting a second chance with a solo film of his own starring Channing Tatum soon.)

Fox’s Deadpool rated R and starring, Ryan Reynolds opens in theaters everywhere February 12th.

 

 

New Voltron Animated Series Coming To Netflix!

Quick! What do you get when you cross Guillermo Del Torro of Pacific Rim fame, Dreamworks Animation, Netflix, and five mechanical lions from the 1980s?

A new FRICKIN VOLTRON ANIMATED SERIES that’s what!

Gimmie one quick second while the 8 year old boy in me mentally runs Frosted Flakes fueled laps around in my brain.

BWAYAAAYAHAHYAHAA!!!

Freaking Voltron? Defender of The Universe? My favorite childhood cartoon? Finally back on TV in full computer animated glory? And produced by Guillermo Del Torro?

2016 is off to an amazing start already.

In a recent statement from Netflix they announced not only is a new Voltron show in development from Del Torro but a new fantasy show named Trollhunters as well.

Trollhunters? What could that be about? Maybe a bunch of kids band together to hunt those creepy naked Treasure Trolls that have plagued the countryside in their kingdom? I’d watch that and it would fit with the warm feelings of nostalgia that the Voltron news is bringing.

 

voltron tv showVoltron, if you missed out, is the American version of a Japanese anime entitled Beast King GoLion that ran on the 80’s airwaves after school in the afternoons. The show made little sense as it involved four escaped space freedom fighters who live in an abandoned castle on the planet of Arus. There, they were members of the Voltron force. Pilots of giant mechanized lions that could fly through space, looked cool as hell, and of course could combine together to form a giant mute robot named Voltron. Think of it as an animated version of Power Rangers without the hokey martial arts and with more emphasis put on giant robots and monsters kicking the crap outta each other as it should be.

There was also of course a second version of Voltron which featured a series of cars and vehicles that formed a much more dopey looking robot, but let’s never speak of it again. (It’s hard to look cool with helicopter circles on your shoulders and Toyota’s for feet.)

But in all seriousness, say what you will of Pacific Rim, but the actions sequences were pretty spectacular and as it seems a sequel will never come to pass, this may be the next best thing. Better actually as I’d take a new Voltron over Pacific Rim 2 any day and night.

I can’t wait to see some concept art of what the new lions will look like in the new Voltron animated series and if the show will go for a more realistic gritty edge as I’d expect from Del Torro or stay close to the innocent charm of the original series.

What was your favorite lion growing up? Assemble Voltron in the comments below!

 

 

Christoph Waltz Signed For TWO More Bond Films. But ONLY If Daniel Craig Returns.

Christoph Waltz Signs For Two More Bond Films. Will Return Only If Daniel Craig Plays Bond Again

Pinch me I must be dreaming.

I’ve been a big fan of Daniel Craig’s James Bond since he first put on the dinner jacket in Casino Royale and was really worried we might not get anymore of Craig’s Bond after his much publicized threats to quit the franchise after Spectre. I believe the quote was, “I’d rather break this glass and slash my wrists.” You gotta love that stiff British humor.

spectre-christoph-waltz

One of the highlights of Spectre was seeing Christoph Waltz’s take on legendary Bond villain Blofeld. It was a lot like seeing Craig play Bond for the first time, a modern incarnation of a classic character.

Which is why it was such a shame to hear Craig was ready to drop the Walther PPK while in his prime. Rumors soon swirled around the internet at who should be the next Bond with a large group advocating Idris Elba should be next.

But never count Bond out as Waltz has reportedly signed on for at least two more cracks at Blofeld on the condition that Craig comes back as well.

if this comes to pass, and let’s all hope it does, this would set the current films up for a nice two part story to send Craig’s Bond off into the sunset properly and establish himself as the defacto version of James Bond from now on. Sorry Sean Connery, but your claim to fame may soon be in jeopardy.

Daniel Craig james bond

I never cared for James Bond before having grown up on Pierce Bronson’s increasingly campy 007 films. I just never saw the appeal. To me, Bond was just a hollow smirk wrapped in an emotionless character. Unchanging. Infallible. Boring.

But Daniel Craig’s version of James Bond was the complete opposite in every way. He was a hot head. He screwed up. His trademark confidence became over confidence, and one of his biggest character flaws. He got angry. He actually fell in love. He cried!

Now here was a version of Bond I could, and did get behind. I’m a big fan of all the latest Bond movies since, Quantum of Solace at some good scenery at least.

Recent statements by Daniel Craig seem to suggest he may be backtracking on his slit writs statements, and open to returning to Bond at least once more. But with Waltz in tow two movies, filmed back to back perhaps, may not be much of a stretch.

Carrie Fisher and the Star Wars Review I Couldn’t Write

Helen Highly Recommends Carrie Fisher Quit Twitter
or
Change Your Galaxy!

Carrie Fisher has aged.
Carrie Fisher has aged.

Q: Is it true that HelenHighly, a self-professed socially-and-politically-conscious woman, walked out of the movie “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” and immediately made a comment about Carrie Fisher’s body?
A: Yes. (Should I feel guilty? Not sure yet.)

Q: Was it rude and inappropriate for journalist Kyle Smith to publicly suggest to Carrie Fisher that she give up acting if she didn’t like continually having her body scrutinized and criticized by everyone and anyone due to the way she aged?
A: Yes. (I think we can all agree that disrespect is always the wrong approach for a professional when speaking about one’s subject, and certainly the wrong way to speak about a beloved Princess.)

Q: Did Carrie Fisher show us all up by replying with simultaneous wit, candor, and bada-bing punch, thus reminding those who criticized and/or gossiped that she is better than them (us), and that she still has it – “it” being bright, lively talent?
A: Yes indeed. Go Carrie!

Carrie Fisher Is Defiant
Carrie Fisher Is Defiant

But the harder question remains: That nasty reporter guy judged Carrie Fisher’s body, and HelenHighly also judged Carrie Fisher’s body. Am I that guy?!*

Here’s the story:

I am no “Star Wars” fan. However, I got an assignment to write about the new movie “Star Wars:….mumble.. whatever.” The assignment was for The Film Box, this mostly action-movie site, where I occasionally post commentary. (I provide balance.) To counter the geek perspective, Cameron had asked me to write from a non-fan woman’s point of view. But until now, I have written nothing about “Star Wars,” because I couldn’t think of anything interesting to say.

“Do I feel guilty? Hell no; Lucas made $4 billion.”

Correction: In an effort to deliver something, I did write a news blurb that unfairly attacked George Lucas, creator of “Star Wars,” for jokingly using the term “white slavers” in regard to the Disney Co., to whom he sold the franchise for $4 billion in 2012 and now is criticizing for their handling of his “kids.” And then I wrote another news story announcing that he had apologized, but I doubted his sincerity. So, I got two articles out of Lucas, both based on over-blown nonsense. Do I feel guilty? Hell no; Lucas made $4 billion selling overblown nonsense (named “Star Wars”). He’s filthy rich; his feelings don’t matter. (Although, it might bear mentioning that during this attack on what Lucas said, no one commented on what he looked like.) But back to this story:

I did want to see the movie just because it got so crazy-much attention in the media that I felt I was obligated to see it, as a U.S. citizen and occupant of our galaxy. I admit that the film itself did nothing for me, but I did enjoy watching the audience respond enthusiastically each time one of their old favorites (and old, favorites – with comma) – be it actor or spaceship – made an appearance.

The Beloved "Star Wars" Trilogy
The Beloved “Star Wars” Trilogy

These old favorites, brought back from the cult trilogy (1977 – 1983), include male leads, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill. And also there is the female lead, Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) – the adventure-heroine and super-hot It-Girl of the original “Star Wars,” and an idolized icon because of it. I am told that a generation of teenage boys grew up with posters on their bedroom walls of Carrie Fisher in a gold bikini– the same metal bikini she wore as a costume in the second film. That poster is from a photo-shoot Fisher did with “Rolling Stone,” back in 1983, when she was a 27-year-old starlet. (Pretty hip to be on the cover of “Rolling Stone” – twice, actually.)

Carrie Fisher Rocks with "Rolling Stone"
Carrie Fisher Rocks with “Rolling Stone”

Fisher has gone on to have a successful career in the industry – as an actress, producer, and screenwriter, including writing the semi-autobiographical film “Postcards from the Edge,” (based on one of her own hit books) in which the Carrie-ish character is portrayed by none other than Meryl Streep (the best actress ever). Carrie Fisher is Somebody.

Carrie Fisher: Once She Was Beautiful
Carrie Fisher: Once She Was Beautiful

But to the people in the movie theater with me, watching the latest “Star Wars” film-phenomenon, Carrie Fisher is and always will be Princess Leia, the great and legendary… (I don’t know; this is where they lose me). And those people literally cheered for Carrie Fisher – not only with excitement when they first saw her in this new film, but also after each scene in which she appeared.

So, Carrie: People love you. They love seeing you on screen. Don’t doubt that fact.

And I will say that, for me (and I believe for most others as well), Carrie Fisher brought an authentic warmth and humanity to a movie that is…  mostly metal. Okay, I probably stand alone with my “mostly metal” comment, but I challenge anyone to say they did not both enjoy and respect Fisher’s performance in this film.

“For Carrie to escape the unfair cruelties of this world, she would have to get on a spaceship and find another galaxy, far, far away.”

Well, I never wrote the film review because I decided that I am not Star-Wars-knowledgeable enough to say anything intelligent about the movie. And I was going to walk away and start writing my next commentary – slated to be a combo-review of two different documentaries about great women– Peggy Guggenheim and Janis Joplin (who seem to me to be surprisingly similar). But then, I couldn’t escape the buzzing news about the great “Star Wars” woman. Here’s what:

Carrie Fisher, Then and Now
Carrie Fisher, Then and Now

On Tuesday, January 29th, Fisher, age 59, sent a message to her 850,000 Twitter followers, asking them to stop scrutinizing and criticizing how she has aged over the past 30 years. Apparently there had been a relentless stream of unkind and insulting comments. To those haters she shockingly said that they could “blow us”. (!!!)
(“Us” means Fisher, her body, and her character Leia)

“Please stop debating about whether or not I have aged well. Unfortunately it hurts all 3 of my feelings. My body hasn’t aged as well as I have. Blow us.”
[Twitter text abbreviations and jargon have been translated, but that was her message.]

Oh. My. God.
Oh. My. God.

Then Fisher re-tweeted statements from supporters who claimed that her co-stars, Harrison Ford – age 73 and Mark Hamill – age 64, do not face the same level of scrutiny. In another tweet, Fisher shared her sentiments that “youth and beauty are not accomplishments, they’re the temporary happy.”

Okay, my first thought was: That’s a Twitter Win for Carrie. Good for her.

But, my second thought was: Eegads. I remembered (and here I confess) that the first words out of my mouth when I left the theater were about Carrie Fisher’s body. (Am I a hater, like those others?!*) I commented that the film almost never showed her full body. As I recall (and I could be wrong, because honestly, the movie did not hold my close attention), it seemed to me that she was always in close-up – just her head. And at one point they (awkwardly, I thought) cut to a close-up of her hand. The few times that we did see her body were in distant wide-shots. So, I concluded, they must have used a body double for Fisher – someone thinner, and then only used her for head-shots, and hand-shots.

Carrie Fisher Before She Lost Some Weight
Carrie Fisher Before She Lost Some Weight

I noticed this because I had recently seen Fisher do the talk-show circuit and had observed that she had become a large woman (which is perfectly understandable; she is no spring chicken anymore). I hear tell that Fisher lost weight for the film and then unfortunately gained it back before her publicity tour. Hmm…even if true…Obviously, her starlet days are behind her (it’s been 38 years!). I was just wondering about why they chose not to show her true body in the movie – why they made her look thinner than she really is, or was. Are “Star Wars” royalty not allowed to gain weight?

I did also make the somewhat snarky comment that Carrie obviously “had a lot of work done” and it doesn’t look real. She’s so smart; I thought she would be wiser than to go that route. And so I judged that Carrie Fisher is vain and definitely looks worse for wear. And Disney is shallow (duh) and doesn’t want fat heroines. The company probably only cares about profit (as Lucas later accused). That was my brilliant sidewalk analysis.

“In the contest of brains and beauty, I always go with brains.”

I could think of nothing to say about the movie itself because… it’s not my thing. However, I personally have repeatedly gained and lost (and lost and gained) weight throughout my many years, and now I am almost as old as Carrie Fisher, and I have indeed considered the possibility of plastic surgery. I have nothing against it in principle. I just worry that it usually doesn’t look good and ends up making the person look older. My point is that: The Empire and/or The Alliance mean nothing to me. And the thing I could most relate to in the film was how Carrie Fisher (and I) have aged. (Am I her in this story?*)

Carrie Fisher Has Had "Work Done"
Carrie Fisher Has Had “Work Done”

A few days later, Kyle Smith, some nasty troll from the “New York Post,” rudely responded to what he called Fisher’s “Twittantrum” (Twitter-tantrum) with a message to Carrie that she should “quit acting” if she isn’t prepared to put up with her looks being judged. And he wrote:

“Fisher is a public figure. If she didn’t want the public to talk about her, she could have spent the last 40 years teaching kindergarten. As for whether it’s ‘messed up’ for Hollywood to prefer pretty people to appear in its films, Fisher made millions off being pretty. Far from being bitter about this, she and other actresses who profited nicely from their looks should be grateful they had a turn at the top.”

OUCH!!!
OUCH!!!

Eegads. That’s hard-core. (But doesn’t the part about “if you get rich off your work, you are fair game for unfairness” sound a bit like what I thought about George Lucas? Is this unfairness exclusively allocated to women?)

Carrie did not back down. She then tweeted:
Continue reading Carrie Fisher and the Star Wars Review I Couldn’t Write

Pirate Apology: HIVE-CM8 Leak “Hateful Eight” Then Apologize

Pirates Apologize to Tarantino for Spoiler Leak of Hateful Eight — Sort Of

Quentin Tarantino‘s film, The Hateful Eight was leaked by some online pirates just days before its much-anticipated release in cinemas. That unapproved and unlawful pre-release became a large scandal. Now the group that leaked the movie has made an unprecedented (and unusual)  apology / justification.

After first going into hiding, Hive-CM8 has taken responsibility for the leak and now says “We feel sorry for the trouble we caused by releasing that great movie before [offical screening] had even begun. We never intended to hurt anyone by doing that. We didn’t know it would get that popular that quickly.”

However, Hive goes on to claim that the leak has resulted in free “media hype” and that news of the leak created publicity that actually helped ticket sales of the movie in theaters and also will help the movie long-term. Adding addition question to their sincerity is the fact that the apology accompanied Hive’s pirated release of the Christian Bale movie The Big Short, (which had already opened on December 23rd).

It is not uncommon to see movies getting leaked on torrent sites before actually reaching the theaters. But this is the first time a pirate group has chosen to make an apology to a director.

Hive and other sites like them, regularly release copies of awards “screeners” to the public. Screeners are advance DVDs sent to critics, awards voters, and other film industry professionals, including producers and distributors. It is not difficult for one of those many DVDs to find its way into the wrong hands.

Hive attempted to dispel rumors that the leaked screener copies had been sourced by illegal computer hacking. “We got the copies sold from a guy on the street, no decryption was needed. We were definitely not the only ones [to have obtained copies]. A couple of other movies had been on the net days before, not done by us,” they say.

While the group has certainly released content in the past for notoriety, this time Hive says it wants to help those too poor to get the movie through legitimate channels. “So we wanted to share movies with the people who are not rich enough or not able to watch all nominated movies in the cinema. Of course [these files] are not representing the movies how they can be enjoyed in the cinema.”

After thanking Quentin Tarantino for a “wonderful movie,” Hive wrote that The Hateful Eight should be a top awards candidate and will “win by a mile” over its rivals. And, significantly, Hive did announce that the Tarantino scandal prompted a change in their policy: “…its pre-release will mark the last time that Hive leaks content before it appears in cinemas. We won’t do another movie before its [theatrical release].” Here’s hoping that the word of a pirate can be trusted. 

Click here to read The Film Box’s review of The Hateful Eight.

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When she is not writing about film and art on her blog, HelenHighly.com, Helen Kaplow is busy being a culture vulture in her adopted home of New York City. 

UPDATE: George Lucas Disney Apology for “White Slavers” Comment

George Lucas Backpeddles Big-Time: Sorry for “White Slavers” Comment re Star Wars

George Lucas apologized for the “very inappropriate analogy” he used in comparing Disney to “white slavers,”  a statement he made during a lengthy interview with CBS newsman Charlie Rose, when discussing the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens.

Click to see the original report from The Film Box.

In his lengthy interview with Charlie Rose, the Star Wars creator had expressed rather dramatic disapproval  of Disney’s handling of his space epic, despite the $4 billion cash and stock payoff he got in the 2012 sale to Disney. He not only suggested control of the franchise had gone to “white slavers” but added that he did not agree with the “retro” approach the entertainment conglomerate had taken with the film.

Click to see our article, with a link to the actual interview, including the “white slavers” comment.

“I have been working with Disney for 40 years and chose them as the custodians of Star Wars because of my great respect for the company and Bob Iger’s leadership,” Lucas said in his statement, issued Thursday afternoon by Disney. “Disney is doing an incredible job of taking care of and expanding the franchise. I rarely go out with statements to clarify my feelings but I feel it is important to make it clear that I am thrilled that Disney has the franchise and is moving it in such exciting directions in film, television and the parks.”

Ha. That’s a very different statement than he made on Charlie Rose — a complete 180 turn. It’s one thing to apologize for using the wrong word, and another to change your entire story. Lucas: Get a better PR company.
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When she is not writing about film and art on her blog, HelenHighly.com, Helen Kaplow is busy being a culture vulture in her adopted home of New York City.