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Anatomy of a Remake: D.O.A. 1950 to DEAD ON ARRIVAL 2017 with Emmy Nom Billy Flynn

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

Ever wonder how much the world has changed since the half century mark? Take the case of the Edmond O’Brien noir D.O.A, released in 1950, then jump to the Dennis Quaid-Meg Ryan remake in 1988. Now step into the 2017 reboot, DEAD ON ARRIVAL. Written and directed by Stephen C. Sepher, this is one of the independent films that debuted at this year’s Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIFF). DEAD ON ARRIVAL stars “Days of Our Lives” Emmy Nominee Billy Flynn, with D.B. Sweeney.

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Sweeney is a recognizable name to veteran moviegoers as is Chris Mulkey, whose face you’ll recognize from 1982’s FIRST BLOOD with Stallone through three decades in movies to 2014’s indie Oscar smash-hit WHIPLASH as Uncle Frank. Sepher, for the record, also an actor, wrote the De Niro crime film HEIST (2015) from his original story, and it’s interesting that D.B. Sweeney also has a role in that picture.

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But back to watching the world change.

In the 1950’s storyline, Frank Bigelow (O’Brien) is an insurance man who has notarized a harmless piece of paper that ultimately leads to his slow-poisoning after a rare-earth metal deal goes bad. The gem plot twist here dates back to Hamlet being poisoned and finding his killer. But in a movie timeframe, Bigelow only has 24 hours to solve his own murder. There are many false flags on the way to the real killer. But “Luminous Poison,” which glows in the dark as a novelty murder weapon, with a 24-hour time-lock is the DNA from this to the Dennis Quaid DOA and Sepher’s 2017 redo.
The late film critic Roger Ebert name-checked the original D.O.A. in his review of the Quaid-Ryan remake, noting it was a sexy retool. Yuppie novelist Dexter Cornell (Quaid) is a hot writer with ambition who wrongly faces off against an exotic heavy in the form of the mysterious Charlotte Rampling who he suspects is his killer. Meg Ryan is a student he cheats on his wife (Jane Kaczmerak) with, and later thinks she has poisoned him. Unraveling who the real killer is will be a shock.

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While the 2017 version doesn’t have a female lead like then-American Sweetheart Meg Ryan, this movie shows us a variety of today’s fallen lovelies. Two in the form of Bonnie, played by Scottie Thompson, with Christa B. Allen equally troublesome, taking us down the dark side of modern femininity.

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There is no Paula, the faithful secretary to Edmond O’Brien, so gone is the moralizing 1950’s message of monogamy as good for society. But there’s something intriguing about where Sepher’s worldview takes us.
Sam Collins, meaning Billy Flynn as the Bigelow character updated to 2017, is now a Big Pharma sales rep. He gets invited to a wild party held by an ethically challenged prescribing physician, who unleashes all kind of female and pharmaceutical hell for a single night that may ultimately cost Collins his life.
You’ve got topics embedded in this modern colorful noir from the dangers of vaccines to the lethality of prescription drugs and the opioid crisis in America. DEAD ON ARRIVAL now is an upscale, non-moralistic fairytale of what happens when the stylish world of affluent professionals head-ons with the underworld of gambling debts and street justice. Just as the women in this are no giggly Meg Ryan types, the men are not the Dennis Quaid hero types either.

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Sepher’s version of the Edmond O’Brien post-World War II cautionary tale is now almost reportage about the America that resulted from the polite society myths cultivated during the era of the nuclear family 50’s. No one really thinks marriage works anymore, or knows whom to trust even among their friends, family, and co-workers.
DEAD ON ARRIVAL shows us similar corrupt cops and mafia kingpins in contrast to the social climbers in an upscale backdrop of affluent New Orleans in 2017, but ultimately — and this is what makes this version fun — it’s the heavy, the bad guy, played by Stephen Sepher (sometimes credited as Stephen Cyrus Sepher) who comes clean with the true justice and explains to Sam Collins why he has been targeted in this reboot. And yet? We soon find out there’s more to the story, not with the nice neat edges of Edmond O’Brien’s plot or the Me Generation focus of the Quaid-Ryan plot, but in a a messy, screwed-up ambiguous way the world is now. Find out more about this new film at Facebook or on their website, or RIIFF’s official site.
And remember, never drink anything from an open container at a party, BYOB, bring your own bottle. DEAD ON ARRIVAL is from Kingfisher Media and offered by Vision Films.

Official Description from Kingfisher Media

DEAD ON ARRIVAL
Emmy nominated Billy Flynn stars in an ensemble cast as Sam Collins, a pharmaceutical sales rep who visits a small town in Louisiana to close the business deal of a lifetime. He finds himself in a dark world of sex, corruption and murder as he is poisoned with no antidote to save his life. Desperate for answers, with less than 24 hours to live, Sam turns to a local girl Jesse. Their path leads to a voodoo priestess who only confirms Sam’s doomed fate. On the run, caught in a deadly vertigo with no one to trust, Sam and Jesse find themselves running from police detectives, the Mob and a dirty sheriff who wants him dead. [Inspired by the 1950 classic noir thriller D.O.A.]

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Get Ready To Be Entranced: Sofia Coppola’s THE BEGUILED Grips

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

There was a time when Sofia Coppola could be at an awards show and overlooked as a famous daughter; not anymore, not for years now since LOST IN TRANSLATION. But in her new film, THE BEGUILED, which is a retool of a 1971 Clint Eastwood starrer, she really comes of age as a visionary writer/director. Even in what is considered a remake of a movie based on a novel by Thomas Cullinan, it has a distinctive feel that’s all hers. The film opens Friday, June 23 in New York and Los Angeles, with wider release on June 30.KidanBGniceWith an all-star cast that includes Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning, you get a sense of why this movie won Best Director at the 2017 Cannes International Film Festival.

Picture a Southern all-girls boarding school during the battle-weary Civil War era, and a wounded enemy soldier appears. John McBurney (Colin Farrell) adds testosterone to a very delicate and well-mannered yet highly complex microcosm of women led by a formidable Headmistress named Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman).

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“This is my dream cast,” Sofia Coppola admits. “When I was writing it, I was picturing Nicole as Miss Martha. She always surprises me. Watching her, I’ve never seen anyone like that, she does so many different things at once.” She adds that the whole cast is on a par with Kidman.

You want to use a word like confection for the ethereal feel, but that description doesn’t do justice to the depth of rich multi-layered images that float on the screen like Spanish moss.

“This is very much a Sofia film,” Colin Farrell explains. “It’s very much aesthetically beautiful. She wrote every word of this. Her way feels maybe more right than some [as far as directing], there’s an immense lack of tension on the set, very playful. She’s incredibly easygoing and generous to her core it seems.”ColinDunstBG

Farrell is underscoring the fact that a remake can often feel like a re-do of someone else’s vision.

But if you look at the 1971 version, two minutes into the film, Eastwood is literally hitting on a twelve year old, with “not too young for kisses.” And even though the fabulous Geraldine Page stars as his Miss Martha, there’s a creepy feel to their interplay, down the line. So that’s essentially the breaking point for the 2017 Beguiled. It takes a left turn at the way the heightened sexual tension is framed.

“I didn’t know the movie and I watched it, and it really stayed in my mind. I watched it. It was so weird, and I thought ‘how would I do my version?’” I thought it would be interesting to do the same story but from the female characters’ point of view.”

Elle Fanning, who plays Alicia, describes her character as kind of an empowered seductress, but still innocent in a real way. “Anything Sofia does I think is incredible, it was also like, ‘yeah.’ Because it was all these girls and women — and Colin of course— they hold the power.”ColinElleBG

“The original film had been made from a guy’s point of view, so I went back to the book. Because I just liked the premise,” Coppola adds. “It’s such a crazy, extreme premise about power between men and women in such an extreme situation. The idea of looking at wartime from the point of view of the women left behind.”

“You try to make it personal. Try to relate to the characters because it’s such a different time. And yet I loved that it had elements that were familiar to me, this feminine beautiful world. A beautiful feminine world with violence and very gothic.”

“My tendency is to be on the subtle side. Colin was teasing me: ‘Oh, this is an action movie to you, there’s guns… there’s blood.’ It’s been fun to have this mix of beautiful dresses and a little gore. We had smoke machines everyday, and candlelight… a really ethereal look that is specific to this story.”

“Colin is a good sport about being our sex object in the movie, but he has to be dangerous and threatening, and romantic in the movie.” Farrell plays a mercenary soldier paid $300 off the boat from Ireland to fight as a Yankee, so he’s neither North nor South, but emblematic of the unspoken ever-present struggle for control between the sexes.

When the crushing attractions flare up between Farrell’s character and the many flavors of female in this strange closed world hunkered down  under siege of musket fire in a distance, Beguiled really poses some interesting questions about how women express their sexuality. Yet there’s a brutality to their mannered world that Farrell’s soldier-on-the-mend only begins to realize when it’s too late.

Not that every movie needs a memorable line, but when his John McBurney yells out “You Vengeful Bitches,” in a thick Irish accent, it’s an instant classic. Probably because Nicole Kidman’s Miss Martha is so poised and possibly inherently evil at the same time, in a nice way.NicBGbad17

Kirsten Dunst, who plays wronged love interest Edwina, sums up Sofia Coppola’s deft directing hand best, as “she doesn’t second guess herself. I’ve known her for so long, I’m working with my friend, you can’t really beat that.”

Since he is outnumbered in this eerie thriller, Colin Farrell gets the last word. “I’m surrounded by extraordinary talent. Watching these extraordinary women do extraordinary work. There’s an amazing sense of camaraderie. It’s been a joy.”

Don’t miss what the women have in store for their wounded houseguest, it’s a very rewarding fight to the finish.

Focus Features awards-buzzworthy film THE BEGUILED rolls out in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, June 23, with wider release on June 30.

Directed by Sofia Coppola (“Lost in Translation,” “Somewhere”)
Written by Sofia Coppola, based on the novel by Thomas Cullinan and the screenplay by Albert Maltz and Grimes Grice
Starring Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice, Addison Riecke, Emma Howard.

Watch This Making-of With Director & Cast

 

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93 Minutes I Rated R

Official Site I Facebook I Twitter I Instagram

#TheBeguiled #VengefulBitches

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Who’s Your MUMMY: Tom Cruise & Russell Crowe Bring Mummy Back

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

Oh, admit it, the team of OG Box Office Ballers Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe in Universal’s new take on THE MUMMY slated for June 9 has definite possibilities, even if Russell Crowe is a wry scale-tipper these days, mostly divining water in indie films. TCRuss17Plus it’s an IMAX® hair-raiser.
Tom Cruise, or TC to friends, is such a hot-button actor for his off-screen activities that it’s almost like a Kevin Bacon game of interconnections, but mostly interstellar ones in TC’s case. At a certain point you just have to smile and remember it’s about the movies, not the man himself — although TC has an uncanny ability to pick winners in the storytelling category, even detractors can’t argue his bottom-line earnings.
That said, let’s give the boys a chance here because they’re bringing The Mummy storyline back as a female-driven ghoul show.
Not to ruin the plot, but hell hath no CGI-empire-smashing-fury like a chick who’s been buried for a very long time. In fact, this sexy crone isn’t just breaking a glass ceiling, she’s ripping the lid off major cities like London. All this with the power of two-pupil mind-control eyeballs, mind you.TCRussOld17
Girls just want to have fun, as the Cyndi Lauper lyric goes, unless of course they’re back from the undead and none-to-happy about their demise.
Watch the trailer here, full cast and credits below. Also, the no-subtext official description follows. Thinking they’ll top the BO worldwide with the Russell & TC show, baggage and love handles and all, lol, mostly because it’s a VR eyefest. Virtual Reality is the go-to these days to pull people off their gaming consoles and into the theaters.

Why You’re Going to Love THE MUMMY
Tom Cruise headlines a spectacular, all-new cinematic version of the legend that has fascinated cultures all over the world since the dawn of civilization: THE MUMMY.

Thought safely entombed in a tomb deep beneath the unforgiving desert, an ancient princess (Sofia Boutella of Kingsman: The Secret Service and Star Trek Beyond) whose destiny was unjustly taken from her is awakened in our current day, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia and terrors that defy human comprehension.

From the sweeping sands of the Middle East through hidden labyrinths under modern-day London, The Mummy brings a surprising intensity and balance of wonder and thrills in an imaginative new take that ushers in a new world of gods and monsters.

Cruise is joined by a cast including Annabelle Wallis (upcoming King Arthur, television’s Peaky Blinders), Jake Johnson (Jurassic World), Courtney B. Vance (TV’s American Crime Story: The People V. O.J. Simpson) and Oscar® winner Russell Crowe (Gladiator).

The creative team on this action-adventure event is led by director/producer Alex Kurtzman and producer Chris Morgan, who have been instrumental in growing some of the most successful franchises of the past several years—with Kurtzman writing or producing entries in the Transformers, Star Trek and Mission: Impossible series, and Morgan being the narrative engineer of the Fast & Furious saga as it has experienced explosive growth from its third chapter on. Sean Daniel, who produced the most recent Mummy trilogy, produces alongside Kurtzman and Morgan. www.themummy.com

Mummy17Production Team = Positron and Voyager
Founded in 2014, Positron is a technology studio based in Los Angeles that delivers engineering magic.  The team includes mechatronics engineers, designers, software developers and artists who collaborate together to create VR experiences and products that have never been done before.  Voyager is the first full-motion chair platform designed for cinematic VR. Integrating beautiful design and high-end engineering, it reflects a passion for VR storytelling. Voyager delivers a completely new level of immersion in VR by providing a comfortable, fully integrated personal VR theater that incorporates gentle motorized yaw and pitch motion, haptic feedback (physical audio powered by Subpac), and specialized seating. Its unique software and hardware technology integration enables nuanced motion and haptic tracks to be encoded along the featured content’s visual and spatial audio tracks. The chair precisely guides the viewers’ attention to points of interest in the experience, while also allowing a viewer-controlled motion mode. Voyager units are available now for select theaters, hotels, concerts, and events that desire to provide a premium VR experience. For Voyager images please visit Positron Media.

THE MUMMY arrives in IMAX® and theaters nationwide on Friday, June 9, 2017. www.themummy.com

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