After five films that never achieved the same effect as the original, expectations were at rock bottom for the seventh installment of the Sawfranchise, Saw 3D. All director Kevin Greutert and his team had to do was manage to at least keep it on par with the rest. Sadly, not only did Greutert fail miserably, but he had to take all of the other six films down with him.
WARNING: SPOILER ALERT
This installment’s centerpiece is a Jigsaw survivor named Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flanery). Ever since his “rehabilitation,” he’s been busy peddling some book around trying to bank on his trauma. The problem is, Bobby’s a complete fraud. Clearly Jigsaw is not going to let him get away with this and nabs Bobby, his wife and his entourage, finally bringing some truth to his lies. Bobby is forced to go through a series of traps all of which put one of his team member’s lives at risk culminating with the ultimate, his wife’s.
Meanwhile, Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) and Jill (Betsy Russell) are still going at it. At the end of Saw VI, Jill left Hoffman in a reverse bear trap, but Hoffman managed to escape, mangling his face in the process. Now, Jill is under police protection, specifically the protection of Detective Gibson (Chad Donella). While Gibson attempts to keep an eye on Jill and stop the latest game before the players perish, Hoffman lurks in shadows, preparing to pounce.
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It’s that time of year again; another Halloween, another ‘Saw’ movie. For the seventh straight year, Lionsgate will deliver another film covering Jigsaw’s exploits in attempt to test his victims’ wills to live. Of course the series isn’t only about the torturing of characters who likely won’t make it through the film, there’s also the long running story of Jigsaw himself, John Kramer, his battle with cancer and attempt to keep his venture alive even after he’s passed on.
However, as significant as that portion of the franchise is, it’s the dynamic and eerily inventive traps that will stick with us for years to come. There’s the iconic bathroom trap from the first film, Addison’s wrist trap from the second film, the pig vat from the third film and so many more. As cringe worthy as almost all of these nightmares may be, there are seven that are particularly memorable. Whether it be for the physical pain they involve, the twisted conception or the horrendous mental bearing the situation inflicts, these seven are the last seven you’d ever want to find yourself in.
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When you’re doused in big budget, effect-heavy features week after week, it winds up being the simplest productions that really blow you away. Writer-director Jeffrey Fine’s newest film, Cherry, is just about as minimalistic as they come, but the results are huge. Cherry achieves a degree of empathy, entertainment and pleasure that most grander scale films never even come close to earning.
Aaron (Kyle Gallner) always plays by his parents’ rules. From the day he was born, they bred him to become an Ivy League student and the time has finally come for Aaron to pack his things, move into his dorm and begin his freshman year at a prestigious school. He’s there specifically for a top tier engineering program, but is also a talented artist, a skill his parent don’t condone pursuing. He opts to take a drawing class as an elective anyway and that’s where he meets Linda (Laura Allen), a much older student who takes a liking to him. A coffee date leads to a dinner date and that’s when Aaron is sure it’s finally going to be his lucky night. The problem is, not only does he discover Linda has a 14-year-old daughter, Beth (Brittany Robertson), but a cop boyfriend, too.
All hope isn’t lost. Sexual tension still exists between Aaron and Linda, but now there’s some between Aaron and Beth as well. Well, most of that tension comes straight from Beth who’s far beyond her years and has no problem telling everyone exactly what she thinks. Even while being pulled in both directions, Aaron nestles into the family quite nicely, so much so his peers take notice of his absence, he isn’t performing well in class and worst of all, his mother demands to know what’s going on.
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It’s too bad Tyler Perry couldn’t take a cue from his film’s title, which was chopped down from For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, the 1975 Ntozake Shange play upon which the film is based, to simply For Colored Girls. Just like his name attracts massive amounts of moviegoers, it works like a charm when it comes to casting, too. Yes, it’s thrilling to print a massive list of famous names on your roster, try to adapt an iconic play and express a hefty handful of heavy-duty messages, but when it came to actually making those elements thrive in a film, it proved to be far more than Perry could handle.
Phylicia Rashad is Gilda, the manager of a New York City apartment building and the unofficial housemother, especially when it comes to her next-door neighbor Tangie (Thandie Newton). Night after night Tangie brings a new guy back to her place and sends them packing early the next morning, however, her younger sister, Nyla (Tessa Thompson), is dealing with an entirely different situation. She’s thrilled about finally losing her virginity, but her world comes crashing down when she finds out she’s pregnant. Even worse? Her mother (Whoopi Goldberg) is entirely consumed by her religious beliefs and would only shun Nyla for her sin.
Then there’s Janet Jackson as the big time magazine editor with an attitude, Joanna. When she isn’t tossing folks seeking charitable donations like Juanita (Loretta Devine) out of her office, she’s busy bossing around her longtime assistant Crystal (Kimberly Elise). As if life at work isn’t hard enough, at home Crystal has to deal with her abusive husband and care for her two young children. Gilda’s got her eye on the situation and even takes it upon herself to summon a social services agent, Kelly (Kerry Washington). Kelly also ends up consoling Anika Noni Rose’s character, Yasmine, after a vicious sexual assault.
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Director Jake Scott has pressure coming from all sorts of angles when it comes to his new film Welcome to the Rileys. Not only does he have the Scott legacy to live up to (he’s Ridley Scott’s son), but he also has to get himself out of music video mode and ready to make a feature film. It’s been over ten years since Scott’s last feature, Plunkett & Macleane, and he sure chose a tough script for his return to the big screen.
In Welcome to the Riley’s James Gandolfini stars as Doug, a man struggling to cope with the death of his daughter. While on a business trip to New Orleans, Doug opts to ditch the convention for a strip club and that’s where he meets Kristen Stewart’s character, Mallory. Rather than getting down to business, Doug takes Mallory home and volunteers to clean up her place. He gets so enraptured by his relationship with Mallory, he almost completely forgets about his wife (Melissa Leo) back home, that’s until she decides to come and see what he’s up to.
Clearly this is a rather unique family drama and that’s exactly what attracted Scott to the script, the chance to conduct an emotional investigation. In fact, Scott spent a significant amount of time preparing the film alone, really thinking through the piece and dissecting the characters’ layers. Check out everything Scott had to say about the pre-production process, working with three top-notch actors and much more in the video interview below.
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It’s quite obvious that a key element of a family drama is the family aspect. Some actors are talented enough to make that dynamic seem real even though it might be far from it, but why put yourself through all the work when you can just develop a real life family-like relationship with your co-cast? It certainly worked for the cast of Jake Scott’s Welcome to the Rileys.
The film stars James Gandolfini as Doug, a man who hasn’t been the same since the passing of his daughter. The same goes for his wife Lois (Melissa Leo) and in her case, the pain is rather debilitating. She’s agoraphobic and refuses to step foot out of their house. While on a business trip to New Orleans, Doug winds up meeting a young stripper named Mallory (Kristen Stewart). Rather than leaving their business at the strip club, even though Doug had no intentions of getting on to any real business to begin with, he winds up driving her home and leaving with her for a bit. He takes it upon himself to try and help her disheveled house and her act, too.
In honor of the film’s October 29th release, Gandolfini, Leo, Stewart and Scott attended a press conference to remember their time working on the production in New Orleans. Not only do they look back on the gig fondly, particularly when it came to working with one another, but they still maintain the relationships they built on the set today. Check out all the details on the prep process, their characters and experience working with one another in the interview below.
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We’ve all seen tons of documentaries packed with old photographs, talking heads and monotonous background music and while there are certainly a number that are successful, not many manage to create the sensation that you’re actually immersed in the specific event. However, nowadays, when just about anyone can pick up a camera, hit record and capture history, firsthand accounts of just about any event are easy to come by. Then again, there’s just so far a YouTube clip can take you. Someone needs to compile and assemble a significant amount of footage to really bring a particular occurrence back to life and that’s exactly what Jeff Deutchman did with the film 11/4/08.
Just before the presidential election in 2008, Deutchman called out to 50 people asking them to document their experience on that destined-to-be historic day. Soon after, footage poured in and he got to work piecing their experiences together. The end result is 11/4/08, a documentary that takes us from the early morning of November 4th, 2008 to the early morning of the following day in a number of locations including New York, Alaska and abroad as well. Then again, “end result” is the wrong term to use. 11/4/08may be making its debut On Demand today, but it continues to grow through the website www.11-4-08.com where Deutchman is still actively posting more Election Day video.
This type of filmmaking is certainly a unique process and Deutchman was more than happy to elaborate on the experience. He told us about everything from reaching out to potential collaborators all the way up to the ever-growing website he manages today. Check out all the details in the video interview below.
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