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'Refuge' director talks about his pandemic apocalypse movie

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In the new independent horror movie Refuge, Carter Roy, Amy Rutberg, and young actress Eva Grace Kellner play a family trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world where the population has been almost entirely wiped out by disease. Given recent, panic-causing news events, the film could hardly be more topical. So what is it like to have made a movie about a global pandemic just as people are reaching for their face masks? “It’s incredibly coincidental that it’s peaking right now,” says Refuge director Andrew Robertson, whose film recently played the Toronto After Dark and L.A.-based Screamfest genre festivals. “It’s certainly not something that we would want to exploit. The particular nature of this extinction event just happens to be a plague. But there are so many other things that we have anxiety about: nuclear war, or asteroids hitting the earth, or climate change.” And a “Happy Halloween!” to you too, sir!

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Hollywood ambition turns diabolical in trailer for new horror film 'Starry Eyes'

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How far would you go to become famous? Hopefully not as far as the actress played by Alexandra Essoe in the festival-favorite horror film Starry Eyes, which hits both VOD and select cinemas on Nov. 14.

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'The Babadook' director talks old-school horror

Horror directors these days seem to almost automatically genuflect before the altars of such ’70s and ’80s filmmakers as John Carpenter and Dario Argento. But writer-director Jennifer Kent sought inspiration from much older auteurs while crafting her debut film, the much-acclaimed, Sundance-screened, The Babadook. “I’ve watched everything, from Mario Bava to Dario Argento—all of those ‘70s guys, including John Carpenter, who I love,” she says. “But I feel very drawn also to the early stuff. There were directors in the ’20s and ’30s—Carl Dreyer, Fritz Lang—who were making films that were art and they just happened to be terrifying. I think somewhere along the way we denigrated the art form and horror really has become a dirty word. I think that’s a shame, because it’s really cinematic.”

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'ABCs of Death 2' animated opening is absolutely killer

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Horror anthology sequel ABCs of Death 2 delivers a second slate of 26 fatality-featuring short films overseen by an array of directors, which, this time around, includes Evan Katz (Cheap Thrills), Larry Fessenden (Beneath), Rodney Ascher (Room 237), Jen and Sylvia Soska (American Mary, See No Evil 2), Vincenzo Natali (Cube, Splice), and Julian Barratt, from cult British comedy duo The Mighty Boosh. But one of the film’s highlights comes very early with its opening credit sequence, an animated riff on the children’s books which inspired the franchise in the first place.

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Katniss has a message for President Snow in final 'Mockingjay' trailer

Mockingjay

In the final trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1, fans are once again introduced to the devastation that Katniss is forced to face after her home is destroyed. But more importantly, the new trailer offers a glimpse at some of the book’s key moments, from Peeta’s warning to District 13 to Katniss’ message for President Snow.

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Kevin Feige tells us everything he can on Marvel's Phase Three

Will there be a Black Widow standalone movie? When will we get to see Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther? Which actress will be cast as Captain Marvel? Is Benedict Cumberbatch going to be Doctor Strange?

With Marvel, every major announcement begets a waterfall of followup questions. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige indulged a group of journalists following Tuesday’s massive information dump (read Anthony Breznican’s play-by-play here) with some teases, some specifics and a whole bunch of misdirects. Here’s what we learned:

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Box office report: 'Ouija' scares up $20 million, 'Citizenfour' opens strong

Ouija, the microbudget, board game-inspired horror pic, came out on top in its opening weekend with a strong (but expected) $20 million showing from 2,858 locations. Meanwhile, Keanu Reeves’ John Wick proved its own strength with a $14.15 million weekend, which doesn’t look all that impressive on its own but is almost double what tracking predicted for the bloody revenge thriller.

Critics may have hated Ouija (even audiences slapped it with a C CinemaScore), but it is a box office truth universally acknowledged that teens will turn out for horror films, no matter how poorly reviewed — especially when they open just days before Halloween. Audiences were a whopping 75 percent under 25, 61 percent female and ethnically mixed. (39 percent of audiences were Hispanic, 31 percent Caucasian, and 12 percent African American.) It also opened in five international territories to $1.3 million and will continue its rollout over the next few months. Ouija cost Blumhouse and Platinum Dunes under $5 million to produce, so no matter what sort of dramatic drop off Ouija might suffer in weekend two, it’s already another micro budget success for Universal and Blumhouse.

“We saw how this film worked with its target audience,” Universal’s President of Domestic Distribution Nikki Rocco told EW. “We watched the tracking for the last three weeks, and there is something to be said for making these microbudget films and making them really, really work. The PG-13 was so smart. It works. PG-13 works. And here are the results.”

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Box office update: 'Ouija' scores with $8.3 million Friday

Keanu Reeves is no match for a board game, it seems. After debuting in early Thursday night showings, Universal’s spooky Ouija has earned an estimated $8.3 million, putting it on track for a $20 million weekend, while Lionsgate and Summit’s John Wick took in an estimated $5.45 million, suggesting the violent revenge pic will net out around $14 million by weekend’s close.

While Ouija, which cost Blumhouse and Platinum Dunes less than $5 million to produce, is a resounding success, $20 million is a little less impressive than the standard Blumhouse fate. The Purge and The Purge: Anarchy, for instance, opened to $34.1 and $29.1 million respectively. This is more on par with 2012’s Sinister, which had an $18 million opening weekend in mid-October and grossed $48.1 million domestically by the end of its run. READ FULL STORY

Why aren't there more serious movies about cheerleading?

Cheerleading

When you Google “cheerleading movies,” the top hits include the likes of Bring It On (and its four straight-to-DVD sequels), Sugar & Spice, Ninja Cheerleaders, and (no joke) Cheerleader Ninjas. When you Google “football movies,” the top hits include Remember the Titans, Friday Night Lights, Any Given Sunday, The Blind Side, and Rudy, just to mention a few. Why does the entertainment business see cheerleading as a sport that lends itself to comedy, while the world of football’s the idea place to set a drama? Does Hollywood believe that cheerleading isn’t serious enough to sustain a movie that isn’t tongue-in-cheek?

A new documentary called American Cheerleader might just help to change that.The documentary takes a very honest, straightforward look at two high school cheerleading squads—one in New Jersey and one in Kentucky—as they prepare mentally and physically for competition and, hopefully, find their way to nationals. New Jersey-based Burlington Township is returning to the game as the former National champions; Southwestern, the other school, made it to nationals the previous year, but suffered a heartbreaking defeat after one of the girls got dropped during their routine. READ FULL STORY

Martin Scorsese to exec produce Grateful Dead documentary

Get ready, Deadheads. The Grateful Dead turn 50 next year and to celebrate, they’re getting a new documentary from executive producer Martin Scorsese and director Amir Bar-Lev (Happy Valley).

The still-untitled doc will feature never-before-seen footage from various performances, archived interviews and behind-the-scene moments as well as new talks with surviving members Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, and Bob Weir. It’ll also feature the eccentric characters from the “Dead universe.” Band archivist David Lemieux will serve as the music supervisor.

Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Bar-Lev noted that he’d first set out to make a film about the Grateful Dead 10 years ago. While there have been many documentaries, concert films and television specials chronicling aspects of the seminal band, including a 10-minute short from Paul McCartney, the press release notes that this film will be the first official career-spanning portrait of the influential rockers.

“The Grateful Dead were more than just a band. They were their own planet, populated by millions of devoted fans,” said Scorsese in a statement. “I’m very happy that this picture is being made and proud to be involved.”

The surviving members agreed heartily, saying jointly that they’re “humbled to be collaborating with Martin Scorsese. From The Last Waltz to George Harrison: Living In The Material World, from Bob Dylan to the Rolling Stones, he has made some of the greatest music documentaries ever with some of our favorite artists and we are honored to have him involved. The 50th will be another monumental milestone to celebrate with our fans and we cannot wait to share this film with them.”

It might be time to outfit that old VW microbus with a television.

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