First Glance: “Without Remorse”

Michael B. Jordan shows off his action movie chops in the new trailer for “Without Remorse”, one of many films slated for a 2020 theater release but pulled due to COVID-19 lockdowns. Paramount sold the distribution rights to Amazon and now the movie is all set to be released on their Prime streaming platform. The trailer looks like an action junkie’s dream and Jordan is always a compelling presence.

The film is based on a 1993 Tom Clancy novel and tells the story of a United States Navy SEAL who sets out to avenge the murder of his pregnant wife. Along the way he uncovers an international conspiracy that could lead to an all-out global war. Several familiar elements there but still plenty of room to do something original. I love the intensity Jordan brings in the trailer and the film also stars Guy Pearce, one of the most underrated actors working today. The film is directed by Stefano Sollima who also made the terrific “Sicario: Day of the Soldado”. Man I’m excited for this one.

“Without Remorse” premieres April 30th on Prime streaming. Check out the trailer below and let me know if you’ll be seeing it or taking a pass.

https://youtu.be/e-rw2cxFVLg

First Glance: “Voyagers”

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In “Voyagers” Colin Farrell chaperones a group of young people specially engineered for obedience and intellect as they embark on a journey into deep space to colonize a far away planet. Sounds pretty familiar, right? Well this seemingly straightforward mission begins to unravel when the young voyagers discover the blue soda they’ve been drinking is actually a behavior suppressing drug. The group refuses to drink more which opens them up to a freedom they’ve never known before. It also leads to emotions that threaten to tear apart the crew and their mission.

“Voyagers” comes from writer-director Neil Burger, best known for 2006’s “The Illusionist”, 2011’s “Limitless”, and 2014’s “Divergent”. In addition to Farrell, the film features an interesting young cast including Tye Sheridan, Lily-Rose Depp, and Fionn Whitehead. The trailer has a trippy look and sports a ton of energy which gives the impression that this could be something fresh and unconventional.

“Voyagers” hits theaters April 9th. Check out the trailer below and let me know if you’ll be seeing it or taking a pass.

SEFCA Announces Our Award Winners for the 2020 Movie Year

As a proud member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association I’m excited to share our organization’s awards for the 2020 movie year as voted on by the body. Below you’ll find our official press release.

February 22, 2021 – The Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) has named Nomadland as its Best Film of 2020. Chloé Zhao’s intimate, elegiac drama about life in America after the Great Recession also earned the organization’s awards for Best Actress for Frances McDormand, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay for Zhao, and Best Cinematography for Joshua James Richards.

“Nomadland was an overwhelming favorite among our members in this year’s award season,” said SEFCA President Matt Goldberg. “It’s clear that Zhao’s thoughtful, deeply humanistic and heartfelt portrait of life at the fringes of our country connected with our members across the Southeast, and it is our pleasure to name it the Best Film of 2020.”

SEFCA also bestowed its Gene Wyatt Award, which goes to a film that best embodies the spirit of the South, to Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari, the story of a Korean immigrant family that moves to Arkansas so the patriarch can realize his dream of becoming a farmer. Like Nomadland, Minari was a clear favorite among our members, and there’s no question that Chung’s film is a moving and authentic portrait of our part of the country.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and changes made across various guilds and academies, SEFCA stretched its voting period from January 1, 2020 to February 15, 2021. Despite a trying and difficult year, we are proud of the membership for continuing their devotion to film criticism and celebrating the best that cinema has to offer.

Founded in 1992, the Southeastern Film Critics Association brings together a diverse coalition of critics across the Southeast to celebrate the year’s best films and craftsmanship in cinema. Winners from past years can be found at sefca.net.

Top 10 Films

1. Nomadland
2. Minari
3. The Trial of the Chicago 7
4. Promising Young Woman
5. Sound of Metal
6. One Night in Miami…
7. Da 5 Bloods
8. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
9. Soul
10. Mank

Best Actor

Winner: Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Runner-Up: Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal

Best Actress

Winner: Frances McDormand, Nomadland
Runner-Up: Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

Best Supporting Actor

Winner: Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7
Runner-Up: Paul Raci, Sound of Metal

Best Supporting Actress

Winner: Youn Yuh-jung, Minari
Runner-Up: Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Best Ensemble

Winner: The Trial of the Chicago 7
Runner-Up: One Night in Miami…

Best Director

Winner: Chloé Zhao, Nomadland
Runner-Up: Regina King, One Night in Miami…

Best Original Screenplay

Winner: Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
Runner-Up: Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman

Best Adapted Screenplay

Winner: Chloé Zhao, Nomadland
Runner-Up: Kemp Powers, One Night in Miami…

Best Documentary

Winner: Time
Runner-Up: Dick Johnson Is Dead

Best Foreign-Language Film

Winner: Another Round
Runner-Up: Bacurau

Best Animated Film

Winner: Soul
Runner-Up: Wolfwalkers

Best Cinematography

Winner: Joshua James Richards, Nomadland
Runner-Up: Erik Messerschmidt, Mank

The Gene Wyatt Award

Winner: Minari
Runner-Up: One Night in Miami…

First Glance: “Cruella”

cruella

Full disclosure: I’m not the most knowledgeable individual when it comes to Cruella de Vil or the beloved Disney animated classic “One Hundred and One Dalmatians”. But even I know Cruella is an iconic Disney villain. She’s a greedy, vain and demented London heiress who kidnaps puppies in order to harvest their fur. See! Utterly reprehensible. She’s also getting her own movie and after seeing its first trailer it’s hard to figure out what Disney is going for.

Emma Stone plays the infamous Cruella in what looks like an origin story of sorts. Stone sports the signature black-and-white head of hair fitting for the punk-rock 1970’s setting. The tone is what’s hard to grasp. The film looks to going for a “Joker” or “Birds of Prey” vibe but I can’t imagine Disney would ever push it that far. And will this be another attempt at making a ruthless villain sympathetic? I hope not. Whatever it is, “Cruella” is a big wait-and-see for me. I like Stone but too much is still up in the air for me to get excited for this one yet.

“Cruella” opens in theaters May 28th. Check out the trailer below and let me know if you’ll be seeing it or taking a pass.

First Glance: “Zack Snyder’s Justice League”

ZACH

I think it goes without saying that 2017’s “Justice League” was not the Avengers type blockbuster the DCEU was hoping for. In fact the post-production was filled with turmoil and controversy. The architect behind the DCEU Zack Snyder stepped down from his directing duties following the tragic death of his daughter. Joss Whedon stepped in and the tales of his “abusive” treatment of both cast and crew have since been made public. There is also the subject of Whedon’s additions to the film which dramatically changed the story and tone. The film’s producers claim Whedon used as much as 80% of Snyder’s material. Snyder says it’s more like one-forth and cinematographer Fabian Wagner goes even lower, claiming roughly 10% of what he shot was used by Whedon.

Which leads us to “Zack Snyder’s Justice League”, a four-hour epic coming to HBO Max. The version constitutes Snyder’s full version of what “Justice League” was meant to be with numerous new scenes, important world-building, new characters, and backstory. It’s still built around the same basic story premise, but with much more meat on its bones. It’s also considered by other members of the DCEU (including directors Patty Jenkins and James Wan) to be the true canonical “Justice League” movie. Is all of that enough to get people to give the film another shot? I don’t know, but I’m excited for it. And hopefully this will give us the “Justice League” many of us hoped for originally.

“Zack Snyder’s Justice League” premieres March 18th on HBO Max. Check out the trailer below and let me know if you’ll be seeing it or taking a pass.

First Glance: “Yes Day”

YES222

Sometimes a likable cast can make an otherwise iffy sounding movie more appealing. Such is the case with the upcoming family comedy from Netflix. The film stars the ever-pleasant Jennifer Garner who makes credit card commercials charming and the talented, often underappreciated Édgar Ramirez. Both will need to use all of their allure in “Yes Day”, a movie that’s built on a pretty shaky premise. But maybe that’s unfair. As the first trailer shows us, all it wants to be is a fun family romp with a little bit of heart. Is that so bad?

Garner and Ramirez play parents in a rut. Tired of always telling their three children “NO”, the couple agree to have a Yes Day. For 24-hours the kids get to make the rules and the parents have to say “YES”. Those of us who are parents know how terribly this would go in the real world. But in “Yes Day” the hijinks-filled adventure brings the family closer together in ways they never thought possible. Now I admit this isn’t my kind of movie meaning I may not be the best judge of such high-energy family chaos. But sometimes happy, fun-loving, all-age-appropriate movies are just what people need.

“Yes Day” premieres March 12th on Netflix. Check out the trailer below and let me know if you’ll be seeing it or taking a pass.