A Tribute to Bill Nunn (1953-2016)

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Hollywood was once again rocked this weekend with the passing of Bill Nunn, who gained fame as the iconic “Radio Raheem” in Spike Lee‘s Do the Right Thing in 1989. Nunn passed away on September 24 at the age of 62 in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Nunn was born on October 20, 1953 in Pittsburgh. His father was a journalist and scout for the Pittsburgh Steelers, which led to Nunn getting a job as a ball boy for the team.

It was at Morehouse College that he would meet future film director Spike Lee and the two struck up a friendship that would lead to Spike getting Nunn his first major film role, that of frat member Grady in his look at college life, School Daze. However, it would be Nunn that would make a heck of an impact in Lee’s follow-up, Do the Right Thing, as Radio Raheem. The character would always have Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” on his boombox and meets a fate that would trigger a pivotal event in the film.

Nunn would also appear in the horror film Def by Temptation alongside James Bond IIISamuel L. Jackson. and Kadeem Hardison as Dougy, an undercover agent who is an expert in the paranormal. He would also get roles in Sister Act opposite Whoopi Goldberg; Canadian Bacon with the late John Candy; as well as appear in television series.

In 2002, Nunn appeared as Daily Bugle reporter Robbie Robertson in Sam Raimi‘s Spider-Man trilogy, starring Tobey Maguire as the wall-crawling superhero. His final appearance on screen would be on the television Sirens.

In addition to his work in films and television, Nunn was involved in his love for theater when he founded the Bill Nunn Theatre Outreach Project, which helped underserved public school students in the Pittsburgh region learn theater arts from professionals.

Nunn is survived by his wife Donna, children Cydney and Jessica, and sister Lynell. World Film Geek sends its condolences to the family of Bill Nunn.

As a final tribute to this great and talented actor, here is the famous “Love and Hate” clip with Nunn as Radio Raheem in Do the Right Thing from YouTube’s MovieClips channel:

Rest in Peace, Bill Nunn.

REVIEW: The Wailing (2016)

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2016, 20th Century Fox/Ivanhoe Pictures/Side Mirror Entertainment

Director:
Na Hong-Jin
Producers:
Suh Dong-Hyun
Kim Ho-Sung
Writer:
Na Hong-Jin
Cinematography:
Hong Kyung-Pyo
Editing:
Kim Sun-Min

Cast:
Kwak Do Won (Jeon Jong-Goo)
Hwang Jeong-Min (Il-Kwang)
Jun Kunimura (The Japanese Man)
Chun Woo-Hee (The Woman)
Kim Hwan-Hee (Jeon Hyo-Jin)

A mysterious occurrence in a small village is the basis for this thriller that seems to have a bit of an M. Night Shyamalan film but is much more better than expected.

In the rural village of Gok-Seong, ginseng farmer Cho and his wife have been found dead. The suspect is Park Heung-Guk. Checking the suspect’s house, it is believed that the consumption of wild mushrooms may have been the cause, but investigating officer Jong-Goo doesn’t believe it. There have been stories that a Japanese man who has arrived may have some responsibility especially after a couple burn down their house, killing almost everyone and during the investigation, Jong-Goo finds himself attacked by the crazy couple.

As Jong-Goo and partner Seong-Bok are in charge of protecting the crime scene, a mysterious woman appears and tells Jong-Goo that the Japanese man is responsible. When the two arrive with Seong-Bok’s nephew Yang E-Sam, a priest in training, things don’t go well as planned. However, Jong-Goo learns that his young daughter Hyo-Jin begins to show symptoms similar to those who have been afflicted. When an actual confrontation with the mysterious Japanese man fails, Jong-Goo’s mother-in-law has hired the services of Il-Kwang, a local shaman who has the power to possibly solve the mystery. Will Jong-Goo be able to cure his daughter with Il-Kwang’s help? With more bodies popping up, it becomes a race for time before it is too late.

Part-mystery, part-horror film, Na Hong-Jin took six years from writing the script to actually filming and while this may seem similar to a film directed by M. Night Shyamalan, Na adds the twist of religion and it is because of this, combined with the performances of the cast that makes this better than expected let alone be a better film that the last few horror “spectacles” directed by the once-promising Shyamalan.

Forget the glamorization of Hollywood here in terms of casting the lead. If this were made in Hollywood, one would expect someone like Mark Wahlberg or Brad Pitt to play the troubled detective who must find a way to save his daughter from what could be a demonic possession. However, for this film and its setting, Kwak Do-Won is perfectly cast in the role of Jong-Goo. The rotund actor, who looks like may be better in supporting roles, goes from miserable cop who does have a bit of comic relief in the beginning to a seriously concerned father and officer responsible for figuring out not only the rash of murders but how it can affect his daughter, played in a wonderful performance from Kim Hwan-Hee.

Hwang Jeong-Min’s shaman character of Il-Kwang has the vibe at times of Lin Shaye’s paranormal expert in the Insidious film series but adds a touch of overacting in certain scenes, notably the so-called “exorcism” scenes. Hwang is the type of actor who can make any film role work (see him in Fists of Legends and Veteran as two prime examples) and you can see why his talents work well here despite a bit of the overacting. Meanwhile, Korean actress Chun Woo-Hee makes the most of her limited screen as the mysterious woman, who warns our protagonist about the other mysterious cast member, played by Japanese film veteran Jun Kunimura in a pretty good performance.

The opening of the film has a quote from Luke 24:37-39 and it is without a doubt relevant to the story as we do deal with religions. Aside from shamanism and a dash of voodoo from one certain scene, the film does deal with a priest in training in a central role with an evoking of “angels and demons”. This is where the film gets interesting. There are nods to The Walking Dead, but the finale, which just has to be seen to be believed, has the “angels and demons” nod to a tee and provides a major twist that not is unexpected but is exactly why this is perhaps one of best Korea’s best thrillers to date.

The Wailing will stand the tests of time as a definitely horror gem thanks to its performances from the cast as well as the whole religion riff and shocking twist in the finale that just can be described as mind-blowing. If you like mystery films with a twist, this is one for your collection or watch list.

WFG RATING: A

Well Go USA Home Entertainment will release this film on DVD and Blu-Ray in stores on October 4, 2016. Special Features on the Blu-Ray include a featurette, “The Beginning of The Wailing”; the making of the film and trailers. To pre-order your copy of the film, click on the link below:

“Rings” Can’t Catch Break; Film Release Delayed…Again

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The third installment of the Ring franchise, itself a remake of the classic Japanese horror film series, just can’t catch a break.

Paramount Pictures has pushed back Rings from October 28 to February 3, 2017. This will mark the third time the film has been pushed back. Shot in 2015, the film was originally slated for November 13, 2015 only to be pushed back to April 1, 2016 to then October 28, in which a trailer was released not too long ago. Now, with a February 3 premiere date set, what is Paramount saying about this latest installment of the franchise?

F. Javier Gutierrez directed the film with Matilda Lutz as the young woman who must stop the deadly curse of Samara.

The news comes as Paramount announced they will also delay their reboot of Friday the 13th a whopping nine months from January 13 to October 13, 2017.

In any sense, you can now look for Rings on February 3, 2017 from Paramount Pictures.

H/T: Variety

 

Hader is Alpha 5 in “Rangers” Reboot

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If you thought the Power Rangers reboot would not have Zordon’s robotic counterpart Alpha 5, think again!

Saturday Night Live alumnus Bill Hader has officially joined the cast of Dean Israelite‘s re-imagining of the 1990’s Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers as Alpha 5. He will join fellow veterans Bryan Cranston as Zordon and Elizabeth Banks as villainess Rita Repulsa.

Dacre MontgomeryNaomi ScottLudi LinR.J. Cyler, and Becky G play the new Power Rangers. The first trailer is expected to drop on October 8 at the New York Comic-Con.

Power Rangers will unleash on March 24, 2017 from Lionsgate and Saban Films.

H/T: Power Rangers Twitter

Confirmed: “The Equalizer” is Returning

Denzel Washington has never been one to do sequels, but all that is about to change.

Todd Black, producer of Washington’s big screen adaptation reboot of the 1980’s series The Equalizer, has confirmed that both Washington and director Antoine Fuqua will return for the sequel, with shooting to begin after Labor Day 2017.

“The script is done. We start shooting right after Labor Day, maybe right before Labor Day depending on Denzel’s schedule. So Equalizer 2 will start shooting in September of next year, maybe earlier depending on another movie that we’re shooting with Denzel before that. We’re going to do a little bit more work and we’re going to go into casting right after that for his nemesis”.

The latest collaboration between Washington and Fuqua, The Magnificent Seven, hits theaters today.

The Equalizer 2 is looking to gear up for a 2018 release date.

H/T: Den of Geek

REVIEW: Interrogation (2016)

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2016, Lionsgate/WWE Studios

Director:
Stephen Reynolds
Producer:
Michael J. Luisi
Writers:
Adam Rodin (original screenplay)
Michael Finch (screenplay)
Editing:
Paul Herb

Cast:
Adam Copeland (Lucas Nolan)
Patrick Sabongui (Vasti)
C.J. Perry (Becky)
Michael Rogers (Mark Law)
Julia Benson (Sara Ward)
Erica Carroll (Joan Marian)

Former WWE superstar Adam “Edge” Copeland finds himself in a very deadly cat-and-mouse game with a formidable enemy in this action thriller.

Lucas Nolan is one of the best FBI negotiatiors in the city with his power of memorization. He is so good that he stopped a bank robber by learning how long the robber takes to shoot and reload his gun. However, while he is at the top of his game, he is about to meet his match. When a mysterious suspect appears at the Federal Building in Minneapolis to inform the front desk clerk about a bomb, the bomb goes off and the man is arrested right away.

What soon ensues is a game that Lucas, who is recommended by his friend Mark, is forced to play with the suspect. Lucas must answer a series of questions that will reveal what is truth and what is a lie. Should he answer correctly, he will learn the location of another bomb in the city. If not, he will be held liable for the death of many. While FBI superior agent Sara Ward is skeptical of Lucas, she is forced to go along with the game while IT expert Becky, receiving a mysterious flashdrive that Lucas had given her after an escape attempt goes wrong, attempts to decrypt the data in hopes to learn who the suspect is and where the bombs are hidden. Will Lucas be able to win this deadly game with a suspect that could truly be his deadliest foe ever?

Here is the thing with WWE Studios’ films. They tend to be a hit or miss, depending on the taste of the action or at times comedy film fan. WWE Studios is primarily known for action films, notably their Marine and 12 Rounds franchises. For their latest action thriller, we have a deadly cat-and-mouse game that in some way could be seen as a counterpart to Countdown, which had WWE Dolph Ziggler look for a child strapped with a bomb where we have a cat-and-mouse game between a top FBI negotiator and a bombing suspect.

Adam Copeland truly drives the film as lead character Lucas Nolan, who not only must deal with the central cat-and-mouse game but also confronts his past as we see a series of flashbacks from how Lucas gained his abilities but the effects of having to live as a homeless teen after his father is jailed for attempting to rob a pawn shop. Canadian actor Patrick Sabongui is also brilliant as the criminal mastermind who forces Lucas into this cat-and-mouse game. The cat-and-mouse game brings a vibe that is similar to the 1999 Hong Kong film Running Out of Time, but only when these two are on screen together, which happens for most of the film as the “game” is a series of questions and riddles that must be answered to seek the locations of the bombs.

While she is given some top billing in the film, it seems that a current WWE superstar, C.J. “Lana” Perry, is not really given enough to do. She plays a computer expert for the FBI who spends most of her time behind the computer attempting to decrypt a flashdrive that was in the criminal’s hands earlier. And for the record, that is Perry’s natural American accent in the film where he character in the squared circle is Russian. Julia Rogers’ Sara Ward comes up as quite an annoyance due to her skepticism of Lucas, causing her to do almost nothing more than spend most of the film berating Lucas any chance she has while Michael Rogers’ Mark tries to be a voice of reason for Lucas.

However, while the film does have a vibe that may seem somewhat standard, there is a final twist that is both unexpected as well as jaw-dropping and ultimately bumps up the film into an above average due to its running time of just under ninety minutes, which works perfect for this film.

Interrogation starts out as a routine cat-and-mouse game with both character driven performances and some performances that are not so great. However, the twist in the finale proves to be something that makes this film a slightly better than average WWE Studios film.

WFG RATING: B+

DVD/BLU-RAY

REVIEW: My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

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1988, Studio Ghibli

Director:
Hayao Miyazaki
Producer:
Toru Hara
Writer:
Hayao Miyazaki
Editing:
Takeshi Seyama

Cast:
Chika Sakamoto (Mei Kusakabe)
Noriko Takagi (Satsuki Kusakabe)
Shigesato Itoi (Tatsuo Kusakabe)
Tanie Kitabayashi (Granny)
Toshiyuki Amagasa (Kanta)
Hitoshi Takagi (Totoro)
Naoki Tatsuta (Cat-Bus)

One of the most beloved films from the mind of legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki revolves around two sisters who discover a world they never imagined.

Sisters Mei and Satsuki Kusakabe move into a small house in the countryside with their businessman father. The reason involves their mother, who is hospitalized in a nearby facility. At first, they are unsure what to think about the house, but their father reassures them that everything will be okay. One fateful day, little Mei comes across a strange little creature and begins to chase the little creature, who is planting seeds. Mei discovers a forest nearby and comes across a monstrous but likable creature known as Totoro.

When Mei attempts to convince Satsuki about Totoro, at first she is extremely skeptical. However, on a night where their father is late to the bus stop, Satsuki patiently waits while Mei dozes off. Satsuki soon meets Totoro herself, who is awaiting his own bus, the mystical Cat-Bus. Satsuki finally tells Mei about her believing in Totoro as well. The sisters soon start a beautiful friendship with Totoro and his little versions. However, when Mei learns her mother will have to stay longer, she gets extremely upset and runs away. Satsuki must seek the help of Totoro to find her sister.

Hayao Miyazaki is truly one of Japan’s most legendary animated filmmakers. When he formed Studio Ghibli, he made the titular Totoro his mascot for the company. Unlike lots of animated films where there is a protagonist and antagonist, this is a straightforward family story of two sisters who discover and ultimately befriend mythical creatures in a nearby forest. If anything, the antagonist of the film is that of simple angst when little Mei is upset to the point that she decides to run away.

Aside from this little side track, the film is a cute story about family. Miyazaki made the film as a tribute to his mother, who suffered from tuberculosis. To bring that homage, the character of Mrs. Kusakabe, Satsuki and Mei’s mother, also suffers from it and sporadically appears as a way of bringing a warm feeling for the sisters, especially when she believes herself in the creatures of the forest when told by her daughters. It cheers an otherwise ill Mrs. Kusakabe up. As for Mr. Kusakabe, he’s not arrogant or outspoken. He has his own wonderfully told tales about certain myths such as dust bunnies and seems that he too would believe in the creatures himself based on his attitude.

Aside from the Totoros, the other legendary character worth seeing that sporadically appears as well is the Cat-Bus, whose eyes are the headlights and has a big smile on his face. Totoro himself is quite a fun character to watch, from his introduction in meeting Mei to the bus stop sequence, in which he gets so excited when rain drops onto his leafy umbrella. This is seen by perhaps one of the biggest smiles ever seen possibly ever. After its initial Japanese release in 1988, first Fox, then Troma Entertainment (yes, THAT Troma), and Disney would release the film in English dubbed and subbed versions.

My Neighbor Totoro is truly an animated classic that to this day still stands the test of time with the legendary Hayao Miyazaki at the top of his game. A film that should be made by all families.

WFG RATING: A+

DVD/BLU-RAY