Tag Archives: movie news

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.


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.

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.

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.
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. 

Hateful Eight by Quentin Tarantino Opens With $1.9 Million on Christmas

Hateful Eight by Tarantino Opens Big in Two Ways

"The Hateful Eight" is a splashy thriller.
“The Hateful Eight” is a splashy thriller.

Quentin Tarantino made his new movie, The Hateful Eight as big and wide as possible, using his much-touted, vintage, 70mm camera lenses, which were famously used  for outdoor, epic movies. Hateful Eight’s opening shots are classically wide and sweeping. And so were the film’s opening numbers in theaters.

Christmas Day moviegoers showed Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” plenty of epic affection, as the limited-release 70mm roadshow launched with $1.9 million at 100 venues in 44 U.S. theaters.

The opening day lead into an impressive $5 million for the weekend — or around $50,000 per screen — for what is the largest 70mm release in the last 20 years.

The Weinstein Co. announced on Dec. 14 that it moved up The Hateful Eight’s wide release in the U.S. to New Year’s Day — a week earlier than previously planned — with the aim of taking advantage of strong buzz among fans and the industry. The Western carries a 76% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Hateful Eight stars Samuel Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and Bruce Dern.

Read The Film Box’s review of The Hateful Eight, by Helen Highly and see why she Highly Recommends the movie.

Bad Santa 2 Coming for 2016 Holidays

Bad Santa 2 will arrive just in time to sour America’s 2016 Christmas eggnog.

The sequel to the 2003 cult comedy will hit theaters on Nov. 23, 2016. That will put the film in the midst of the Thanksgiving season, one of the busiest times of year for movie-going. Bad Santa 2 will compete for ticket sales against the second weekend of the Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as well as the debuts of an untitled thriller with Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, and action film The Great Wall.

Broad Green Pictures is handling U.S. theatrical distribution for Bad Santa 2 and will co-produce and co-finance the film with Miramax.

The picture brings back Billy Bob Thornton as the washed-up department store Santa/safe cracker.


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. 

Carol Movie Awards: Is Carol Best Film of the Year?

Is it a Sure Thing? Is Carol Best Film of the Year?

The film Carol has received dozens of industry and critics awards. The film was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Queer Palm and Mara tied for the Best Actress award with Emmanuelle Bercot. The American Film Institute selected Carol as one of the Top Ten Films of the year. The film garnered five Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Actress for Blanchett and Mara, Best Director for Haynes and Best Original Score for Carter Burwell. It received five Independent Spirit Award nominations, including Best Feature, Best Director, Best Screenplay for Phyllis Nagy, Best Female Lead for Blanchett and Mara, and Best Cinematography for Edward Lachman. Blanchett and Mara received Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role and Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role, respectively.

Carol has been included in many critics’ Top Ten Films of 2015 lists. The New York Times called it Best Film of the Year.  The New York Film Critics Circle awarded the film Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Cinematography. The film won Best Music from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and was runner-up for Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Production Design. The Frankfurt Book Fair named Carol as the Best International Literary Adaptation. Film Comment magazine ranked Carol as the best film of 2015 based on its year-end poll of over 100 film critics.

But Film Box critic Helen Highly is not convinced. In her review of Carol, Helen Highly compares it to the movie Brooklyn and makes an argument that Carol has won its accolades for the wrong reasons, in a giant band-wagon effort at political correctness.


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. 

Could Micheal B. Jordan be the next Boba Fett?

Lucasfilm potentially eyeing Micheal B. Jordan as the next Boba Fett

Rumors flying out of the increasingly busy Star Wars camp are suggesting that Micheal B. Jordan fresh off the box office disaster that was Fox’s Fatalistic Four is reportedly in consideration for the role of Boba Fett.

The news came from director Gary F. Gary (Straight Outta Compton) who recently turned down a chance to helm the upcoming Boba Fett stand alone film in favor of The Fast and Furious 8. A lot of rumors are to be taken with a grain of salt but, Gary would know who has the inside track to play the famous Bounty Hunter in a galaxy far far away due to his apparent closeness to the project.

Until an official casting announcement is made, Boba Fett could still be played by anybody, however Micheal B. Jordan is an interesting choice for a multitude of reasons.

For all his fame and fans, Fett never really did much in the original films except pose menacingly and die. It wasn’t until Episode II: Attack of the Clones that we learned Fett was an unaltered clone of another bounty hunter named Jango played by Temuera Morrison. Who, despite being of mixed ancestor, was clearly not black.

This isn’t the first time race would have become an issue with Micheal B. Jordan’s roles. For better or worse he was cast to play the Human Torch, aka Johnny Storm, in the recent Fantastic Four reboot. A character who had always been white in the comics since the character debuted back in 1961.

But the new set of Star Wars films we’ll be getting yearly aren’t reboots. So how will Lucasfilm and Disney try to explain a black Boba Fett?

micheal b jordanIt was rumored Fett would have a small cameo in The Force Awakens which lead fans to speculate how Fett could show up since he was last seen causing indigestion in a Sarlac pit on Tatooine. Many suggested the Fett in the Force Awakens would be a new and younger apprentice of the original who works to carry on the bounty hunter’s legacy. In this case I think Jordan would be awesome in the role.

Much like Jordan’s Human Torch, Morrison’s Jango Fett received mixed reaction from fans. Perhaps Jordan’s casting is an attempt to wash much of the bad taste the prequels have left behind by getting rid of the clone element altogether? Boba Fett never takes his helmet off in the original trilogy so he really could be anybody in there. The character is pretty much his armor.

The only problem with the current rumor is that the Boba Fett solo movie was supposed to be set in the original trilogy or even before it. Which would make Jordan’s version of the character, in reality the original.

Also, if Jordan does end up being cast, expect Fett to take of his helmet quite often. You wouldn’t cast an handsome up and coming actor in the role just to keep a bucket on his throughout the entire movie.

But be aware. It’s easy to be a menacing bad ass behind an expressionless helmet. Seeing Fett’s real face would humanize the bounty hunter tremendously and make him more relatable. Whoever it turns out will play him, it looks this newest version of Fett may be more heroic than we’ve been used to.