Preview, “Maleficent 2” or “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil”still has Jolie, this time scaring poor Elle Fanning

Angelina Jolie doesn’t work enough, hasn’t kept up her career, and playing the Witch to End all Witches seems to be the highest profile gig, one big payday she cannot turn down.

Michelle Pfeiffer, Elle F., Juno Temple, Sam Reilly and Ed Skrein are also in the cast, and the formidable Robert Lindsay and Lesley Manville, all of them haunting screens Oct. 18.

Nice cover of an old Donovan tune, if a tad on the nose. “Season of the Witch” indeed.


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BOX OFFICE: “John Wick” shoots $57, “Dog’s Journey” $8, “The Sun is also a Star” collapses to $2.6


The “actual” box office take isn’t finalized until Monday early afternoon.

But right now, that sequel to the “cult hit” “John Wick,” which brought Keanu back from the indie film dead, is said to have cleared $57 million.

A proven brand, an actor will to promote the hell out of the picture, and is generally charming as he does, and good reviews drove this “Wick Chapter 3” into blockbuster territory.

An R-rated action pic opening that big? And not from a cash-flush “major” studio?

Let us celebrate with Keanu this weekend, then. Not a great film, necessarily, but a fun “video game” shoot-em-up, in any event. Good villains, great Halle Berry and Anjelica Huston turns giving it an Oscar burnish.

“A Dog’s Journey” is also an established brand, also the third movie in a loosely connected series about dogs, the role they play in our lives and their afterlife, this one is overexposed. An $8 million opening.

Maybe we leave teen romances to Netflix though, right? “The Sun is Also a Star” is in that semi-doomed “Fault in Our Stars” mold — with a hint of Richard Linklater’s “Before Sunrise” to it.

Middling stars, virtually no money or effort put into the supporting cast, a serious bust — $2.6 million won’t cover anything — casting, location shooting or catering. Jeez. Sorry to see this.

It’s not terrible, and it’ll find its audience…on Netflix.

“Avengers: Endgame” passed “Avatar,” #2 box office smash of all time, “Pikachu” fell off steeply but not heart-stoppingly so.



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Documentary Review: Jakob Dylan listens for “The California Sound” in “Echo in the Canyon”


It began with a twang, a twelve string guitar Greenwich Village folkie Roger McGuinn heard George Harrison play.

Something about the harmony of paired strings inspired close harmony singing, and “Folk rock” was born, thanks to The Byrds.

And from them, Buffalo Springfield and later The Mamas and the Papas.

But it was geography, eventually parking those groups in close proximity to The Beach Boys, that gave birth to “The California Sound.”

The new documentary “Echo in the Canyon” narrows that birthplace down even further, to Laurel Canyon, a hilly corner of Los Angeles where David Crosby of The Byrds led a musical migration that soon put producers, players and innovators in the same place.

Something about it, its “close proximity” the the clubs of Sunset Strip, producer Lou Adler speculates, conjured up a shared sonic idea born mainly of the simple mixing together of people who could stop each other on the street or knock on each other’s doors and say, “Hey, I’ve been working on this. What do you think?”

“Any time something good happens,” Florida native and later California transplant Tom Petty says (in his last interview), “it’s gonna show up other places.”

Jakob Dylan, son of Bob, leader of The Wallflowers, is our narrator and musical guide in this delightfully tuneful odyssey. He tools down the canyon and around town, to Western (United) Sound and other surviving recording studios, in a 1960s GTO as he chats up up Petty in a luthier’s shop as they pick at the Rickenbacker guitars there, over to visit Crosby or Michelle Phillips of The Mamas and Papas, Ringo Starr, McGuinn, Adler, Eric Clapton, Graham Nash and Stephen Stills.

Being a member of the Dylan clan, his declared “inspiration” of all this was a time-capsule drama “Model Shop,” a Jaques Demy film that featured Gary Lockwood tooling around the LA of this “scene” in a 1950s MG.

Dylan rounds up musicians of his generation — Beck, Fiona Apple, Norah Jones and others — for a glorious 2015 cover-song concert at L.A.’s Orpheum Theater, performing duets with Apple and Jade and Jones, close harmonizing through songs from The Byrds and The Beach Boys (with Brian Wilson) to Buffalo Springfield and those Mamas and Papas, “reviving those echos,” as he puts it.



Beck marvels at that era’s age of “supergroups” such as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, the ferment of bands built around dueling innovators.

Clapton revisits how his “Let It Rain” eerily resembles Buffalo Springfield’s “Question.”

“I must have copped it!”

Ringo Starr verifies the legend of how much The Beatles adored The Byrds and the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” LP, and cherry-picked pieces of those sounds for “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

Crosby has finally mellowed enough to talk enthusiastically about his time with The Byrds, and bluntly admits why he departed for another “supergroup.”

And Petty, who died 2017, reminisces over being the first to “revive” the sound that earlier groups, Jackson Browne and others invented. He saw Buffalo Springfield in a concert and won “Pet Sounds” in an on-air call-in contest from a Gainesville, Fla. radio station “and I never got over it.”

The most ambitious thing about this laid-back documentary was creating a tribute concert and getting big names to perform in it, and that is lovely to hear and behold. The glory of “Echo in the Canyon” is gathering the oral histories of a generation of performers who are passing from the scene, getting their final words on how it all happened.



MPAA Rating: unrated, with profanity, drug discussions

Cast: Jakob Dylan, Michelle Phillips, Fiona Apple, Tom Petty, Beck, Jade, Roger McGuinn, Brian Wilson, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, Norah Jones, Ringo Starr and Eric Clapton

Credits: Directed by Andrew Slater, script by Eric Barrett, Andrew Slater. A Greenwich  release

Running time: 1:22

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Netflixable? Amy Poehler and pals whine through “Wine Country”


So this is 50? Meh.

Lots of wine, personal crises dismissed or dealt with by your BFFs and a rigorous travel and “fun” timetable that would make Patton’s Third Army wince.

Amy Poehler‘s new Netflix comedy “Wine Country” is a distaff dance through California’s Napa Valley, just a bunch of female friends who came of age working together at a Chicago pizzeria decades before.

Just Amy and “Saturday Night Live” buds Rachel Dratch, Maya Rudolph and Ana Gasteyer, and writers turned actresses Paula Pell (“SNL,” “Sisters”) and Emily Spivey (“Parks & Rec.”), with a guest appearance by Tina Fey, drinking and bonding, wining and whining through showcase vineyards and Architectural Digest wineries.

It’s a little raunchy, a bit rude, occasionally funny and entirely predictable. But as Netflix time-killers for grownups go, it’s not half-bad. Or exactly half-bad.

Poehler plays Abby, who herds the five cats that are her best friends into a trip to celebrate their pal Rebecca’s 50th.

She’s booked the AirBnB, made all the reservations, printed the t-shirts and arranged a drone. She turned the itinerary into a glossy-covered booklet for all to study and stick to.

Lesbian gal pal Val (Pell) needs to “try out my new knees…I cannot WAIT to see all your guys and pinch your butts! With consent!”

Naomi (Rudolph) is trying just a little too hard, with her “Mama needs to rock out and whip her c–k out!”

Catherine (Gasteyer) is a pizza entrepreneur with a TV deal pending, entirely too cell-phone busy to be there.

Jenny (co-writer Spivey) has issues, but nothing like Abby’s, of which her C-PAP machine is but a symptom.

And Rebecca (Dratch) is a therapist trying to convince herself “age is just a number” and prone to over-compensating with psychobabble buzzwords (“feedback”) and catch phrases such as everybody’s favorite, denoting the aging process.

Every groan, admission of weakness or compromise is this “thing we say now.” Because, you know, they’re all 50 or getting there. Fifty may be the new thirty, but mileage counts, too.

Tina Fey is the flannel wearing butch AirBnB owner who mocks them mercilessly, if with a pang of empathy, as she leads them through the house, their “toxic jibber jabber” possibly re-directed by the house’s fire pit.

“Stare into the flames and contemplate why the hell you came up here in the first place.”

The formula is thus set. Some will look for love, or at least release. Most have secrets. Some are succeeding and others failing. And when you apply day long bus trips to various locales offering truth serum (wine) tastings, the ugly words describing how you REALLY feel will come out.


Jason Schwartzman shows up as a cook, chauffeur and bearded doofus who “comes with the house,” Cherry Jones makes a beautifully bitter Tarot card reader, ironically named Lady Sunshine.

The script has plenty of time for dance-offs and “DUI Songs,” their nickname for whatever they belt out when they’re drinking — tunes from their Chicago youth by The Bangles, Bel Biv Devoe and Kim Wilde.

“OK, let’s play ‘paths not taken.'”

They weep over their lost prince, Prince Rogers Nelson, confess to this or that, fall down and insult assorted windbag wine-tasting hosts.

“Jeez, people REALLY love to talk about wine around here!”

Rudolph lands the biggest laugh and there’s some fun riffing involving Naomi and each of the other characters. Fey shows up, sticks her jokes, and leaves, only to come back and stick another joke or three.

Pell has been around comedy writing for decades, and is gifted with some of the funnier lines here, which she handles with skill.

But too often, in too many scenes, the strain of it all shows. “Trying too hard” isn’t a cardinal sin in screen comedy, but it’s always a little off-putting when you witness how much effort is going into making piddling inconsequential moments pay off, necessary effort since so few big moments do.

“I feel like the universe is gently nudging you to CHILL.”

“Wine Country” is no “Sideways,” even if the contrived stakes are supposed to be greater. It’s built for a particular audience and some of the laughs will hit home for anybody who’s gotten that AARP “invitation” in the mail.

But Poehler’s film never crosses the tipping point of being worth 100 minutes of your time.


MPAA Rating: R for crude sexual content, language and some drug material

Cast: Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Ana Gasteyer, Rachel Dratch, Paula Pell, Emily Spivey, Jason Schwartzman, Maya Erskine and Tina Fey

Credits: Directed by Amy Poehler, Liz Cackowski, Emily Spivey   A Netflix release.

Running time: 1:43

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Paramount Pictures Will Make Atlas Comics Movies

Joy. Rapture.

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BOX OFFICE: “Wick” is lit, $57-60 million, “Pikachu” plunges, “Dog’s Journey” and “Sun Also Star” bomb


A big opening weekend keeps getting bigger as a high performing Thursday led to an explosive Friday for the R-rated action picture “John Wick: Chapter 3.”

Those $50 million opening weekend projections went by the boards quickly, and is now saying it’s on track to do $56.9 — which means it’ll do $60.

Keanu has promoted the heck out of it, just as Ryan Reynolds was everywhere doing everything the week before LAST week’s blockbuster.

“Wick” is out performing what “Detective Pikachu” did on its opening weekend, and unlike that pokey Pokemon pic, this one had good reviews.

At this rate, Keanu may never shave or wash his hair again.


“Pikachu” is dropping off in the 60% range its second weekend, as word of mouth spreads, repeat business was never going to be a huge deal and it started shedding screens (over 400) quicker than any real blockbuster would. “Pikachu” will clear $100 million by late next week.

“Avengers: Endgame” has passed “Avatar” as the second biggest box office performer of all time. It’s at over $769, or will be by midnight Sunday.

“A Dog’s Journey,” the third sentimental canine reincarnation (ish) picture to come from the keyboard of novelist W. Bruce Cameron in the past couple of years (“A Dog’s Purpose,” “A Dog’s Way Home” were done by different studios) is showing signs of over-exposure. It’s managing $8.75 million, not even reaching the low $10 million it was projected to earn its opening weekend. Cameron has more books that could be adapted, but probably won’t be.

“The Sun is Also a Star” isn’t making movie stars of its stars, the young lady from “Black-ish” and the lad from “Riverdale.” It may not earn $3 million, and its pro-immigrant message won’t even reach the teens it is aimed at.

“The Hustle” is out hustling “Long Shot” as the summer’s biggest comedy, so far, and neither is going to reach $40 million. “Booksmart” is coming, and that could light it up.



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Movie Review: DePalma “Domino”


Watching the work of a great filmmaker in his or her later years is akin to following your favorite big league ballplayer on his “farewell tour.” Not so much because you’re eagerly anticipating the performer’s retirement. You pay attention because you’re looking for little hints of the greatness that was their prime.

Brian DePalma gave us “Dressed to Kill” and “Blowout” and “The Untouchables” and “Snake Eyes” and a “Mission: Impossible” picture. People stopped calling him a “Hitchcock Impersonator” decades ago.  But he’s going to be 79 next Sept. 11, and even though he’s got a “Predator” movie in the works and another thriller in pre-production, his last film that truly impressed probably came out 20 years ago.

But like a slugger taking that last trip around the circuit, he can still deliver one of his trademark bravura action sequences. “Domino” is a drab, implausible and melodramatic terrorism thriller showing his ongoing interest in the post 9-11 world of “Redacted (2007). Drab, that is, until he gets to one of those famous set-pieces.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Danish star of that TV show all the homebodies are talking about, “Game of Thrones,” takes another shot at a big screen action picture (he did “Shot Caller,” which did well on video among “GoT” fans) with this story of Danish cops, the CIA, a grieving immigrant seeking vengeance and an ISIS connected terror cell operating in Europe.

Christian may be one of Copenhagen’s finest, but on the fateful day that our story begins, we see him leave his gun behind on his post coital nightstand.

DePalma’s overuse of shrill Hitchcockian strings underscore “FORESHADOWING,” because wouldn’t you know it? That contributes to Christian’s partner (Søren Malling) getting his throat slit.

Very DePalma, BTW.

Christian covers up his ineptitude with his boss as he stays on the trail of the perpetrator (Eriq Ebouaney), a Libyan immigrant. The crime scene had a terrorist’s body already slumped in a chair, along with guns, explosives and produce. Hey, you’ve got to smuggle that stuff in somehow.

Dutch actress Carice van Houten, who broke out with “Black Book” and who also was on HBO’s most popular show, plays Alex, another cop assigned to the case.

As they chase clues south from Denmark into The Netherlands, Alex feels the need to stop the car for a little weeping session at the base of a windmill. And thus do we see how “international” productions finagle their financing, and get another serving of coincidence in a plot that leans on them far too much.

Their prime suspect was nabbed by guys in suits with tasers. The moment Guy Pearce drawls his first questions to the Libyan, we know he’s CIA, y’all.

“How’d you know?”

“We’re Americans! We read your emails!”

So the CIA is using the Libyan to get close to ISIS while the Danish police hop, skip and jump from “fairyland” (Pearce’s CIA designation for Denmark) to the south of Europe, while a pack of generic movie Islamists plot big suicide attacks, complete with machine guns, gullible suicide bombers, drones and streaming two-way video giving the head man (Mohammed Azaay) a first-person shooter video game thrill.

The dialogue is unquotably bland, the situations soap opera melodramatic and the performances perfunctory, although Pearce smacks his lips and chews up his few scenes and Ebouaney, new to films, gets across a hint of his character’s malice born of desperation. Coster-Waldau gets by on good looks and presence, here.


No, what we”re here for are the homages to Hitchcock, a rooftop nod to “Vertigo” and a finale that conjures up memories of “Stagefright” and Doris Day’s turn as a Hitchcock blonde in “The Man Who Knew Too Much.”

DePalma interjects random bits of up-to-the-minute surveillance tech into a movie whose clumsy, cut-and-paste script sees Danish cops having basic European geography and geopolitics explained to them. And to us.

But that payoff “bravura sequence” has multiple points of view, a crowd, lots of slo-mo and the threat of violence on a vast scale, all of it set to a bolero — not Ravel’s “Bolero,” just a pastiche of it.

And friends, if the entire movie had been as good as this Spanish last act, they’d have had something here.

Almost everything that comes before it is as generic as its title.


MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, some language and brief nudity

Cast: Carice van Houten, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Eriq Ebouaney, Guy Pearce and Søren Malling

Credits: Directed by Brian DePalma, script by Petter Skavlan.  A Saban Films release.

Running time: 1:29

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BOX OFFICE: ‘John Wick 3’ to dethrone ‘Endgame,’ ‘Dog’ has hard ‘Journey’

wick2“John Wick Chapter 3” did three times the Thursday night “preview” business that the last “John Wick” installment did.

That means it’ll best “Pikachu” this weekend, and take in more money than “Avengers: Endgame,” which will finally be knocked off the top of the box office mountain after weeks and weeks up there.

Good reviews, mostly. Kind of martial arts/first person shooter video-gamish, but fun.

A $50 million weekend is within reach for Keanu and “John Wick 3,” “Endgame” will pass “Avatar” by Sunday, “The sun is Also a Star” seems poised to become a bomb ($5 million) and “A Dog’s Journey” may open in the low teens. Or only earn about $10 million, depending on whether the audience has had enough of these maudlin mutt adaptations.

This will be the third in less than two years, but who’s counting?

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Rob Pattinson, Nicholas Hoult Atop Short List For ‘Batman’ – Deadline

Pattinson? Brooding, not particularly
Butch. Hoult, as “Tolkien” demonstrates, is just dull.

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Bruce Willis Booed After Throwing Out First Pitch at Phillies Game

Tough crowd.

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