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Film Review: ‘Catch Me Daddy’

Tuesday, 04 August 2015 by

Provincial West Yorkshire is a tough area to find work, but it ought to be the perfect spot to lay low. Unfortunately, it is not far enough off the grid for one Pakistani woman and her Scots boyfriend. When discovered by her family and its hired thugs, they have no other options except desperate flight in Daniel and Matthew Wolfe’s “Catch Me Daddy.”
Maybe Aaron is not the world’s greatest catch, but you cannot question his willingness to commit. By continuing his relationship with Laila, he is knowingly risking his life. As the film opens, he is far stricter when it comes to security than the somewhat in-denial Laila. Of course, his concerns will be vindicated when her brother Zaheer catches her flat-footed in their trailer. She barely escapes in the subsequent struggle, rendezvousing with Aaron in town. Her father’s associates and a pair of Anglo strong arm men follow hot on their heels, looking for any weakness they might exploit.
These are called “honor crimes,” but there is nothing honorable about them.Rational parents simply endure it as best they can when their daughters get involved with disappointing boyfriends, whereas Muslim fundamentalists, like Laila’s restauranteur father, plot to murder their daughters and their forbidden significant others.
These are called “honor crimes,” but there is nothing honorable about them. Although systemically under-reported, the number of recently recorded honor crimes committed in the United Kingdom is significant enough for even the BBC to take notice. Not surprisingly, “Catch” touched a bit of a nerve with British audiences, even though the Wolfe Brothers scrub the film of any references to Islam, leaving viewers with the impression this must be some sort of dark manifestation of Punjabi culture.
On the other hand, the warts-and-all depictions of Laila and Aaron are shrewdly effective. Hardly idealized martyrs for pluralistic tolerance, they are realistically messy and flawed, which is precisely why they do not deserve what lies in store for them. Sameena Jabeen Ahmed’s lead performance is quite remarkable. At times she is almost childlike, yet she must deal with some absolutely horrific realities. As her less showy partner, Connor McCarron does yeoman work, keeping their relationship and the film completely grounded.
Connor McCarron and Sameena Jabeen Ahmed in “Catch Me Daddy.” (EMU FILMS)
Gary Lewis also adds some potent vinegar to the film, keeping the audience off balance with his portrayal of Tony the cocaine addicted ruffian, who passes for the voice of reason among Laila’s pursuers.
“Catch”is a strange film, in that it wants to spotlight the prevalence of honor crimes, but it does not want to address why they happen. Yet, it is hard to completely sweep the 800 pound gorilla under the rug. Indeed, the implications of Laila’s situation speak for themselves, thanks to some extraordinary performances.
It is all wrapped up in a grittily striking package, thanks in large measure to Robbie Ryan, who has already amassed a filmography that suggests he will be one of the few cinematographers whose work will become the stuff of future retrospectives. “Catch”just might be his best film to date (or at least the equal of “Wuthering Heights“). He vividly captures the desolation of the Yorkshire moors evoking a sense of moodier, revisionist westerns. It is an aesthetically severe film, but it has considerable merit and great urgency.
Highly recommended overall, “Catch Me Daddy”opens this Friday (Aug. 7) in L.A. (Beverly Hills) at the Laemmle Music Box and it screens this Saturday (Aug. 8) in Williamsburg at Videology. Also note, a VOD release is scheduled for Sept. 11 from Oscilloscope Laboratories.
‘Catch Me Daddy’Director: Daniel WolfeStarring: Sameena Jabeen Ahmed, Connor McCarron, Gary LewisRunning time: 1 hour, 52 minutesRelease date: Aug. 7 in L.A. and Aug. 8 at Videology in Williamsburg, Brooklyn Rated 
3.5stars out of 5
MORE:Film Review: ‘I Am Chris Farley’
Joe Bendel writes about independent film and lives in New York. To read his most recent articles, please visit www.jbspins.blogspot.com

NEXT ON THE BIG SCREEN: AUGUST 2015

Tuesday, 04 August 2015 by

The Epoch Times film critic picks five films, next on the big screen in August, that appear to have potential.
August 14
The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Starring: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Hugh Grant, Elizabeth Debicki, Jared Harris
What:
The hit 1960s television show was about a Cold War-era criminal organization called T.H.R.U.S.H. that tried to stir up trouble between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Henry Cavill (front) as Napoleon Solo and Armie Hammer as Illya Kuryakin in “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” (Daniel Smith/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
The movie version’s new bad guys may be from Germany—that Germany—and up to no good. Which means CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill, “Man of Steel”) and KGB agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer, “The Lone Ranger”) still have to learn to play nice and cooperate to take down the bad guys.
Directed by “Sherlock Holmes” franchise director, former husband of Madonna, and premier director who understands how competitive, alpha guys act around each other. Which is why his name is Guy Ritchie.
Henry Cavill as Solo in “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” (Daniel Smith/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
Straight Outta Compton
trailer:

Starring: Aldis Hodge, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Keith Stanfield, Neil Brown Jr., O’Shea Jackson Jr., Paul Giamatti
What:
In 1980s Compton, California, a group of musicians form the trailblazing hip-hop and gangsta-rap group N.W.A. This biopic tells the story of their formation and journey to becoming one of the founding groups of this genre.
MORE:‘Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation’—Expect Hot Action Plus the Summer’s Coolest Romance
(L-R) Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) and Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell) in “Straight Outta Compton.” Taking us back to where it all began, the film tells the true story of how these cultural rebels—armed only with their lyrics, swagger, and raw talent—stood up to the authorities who meant to keep them down and formed the ground-breaking rap group N.W.A. (Jaimie Trueblood/Universal Pictures)
O’Shea Jackson (aka Ice Cube) is portrayed by his real-life son, O’Shea Jackson Jr.; and the director is F. Gary Gray, who directed junior’s dad, Ice Cube himself, 20 years ago in “Friday.” Oscar-nominee Paul Giamatti, who played Howard Stern’s boss in “Private Parts,” plays N.W.A. manager.
They gave “an explosive voice to a silenced generation” says the official film synopsis, which refers, among other things, to N.W.A.’s stance on police brutality (Rodney King).
Aldis Hodge as MC Ren in “Straight Outta Compton.” Taking us back to where it all began, the film tells the true story of how these cultural rebels—armed only with their lyrics, swagger, and raw talent—stood up to the authorities who meant to keep them down and formed the ground-breaking rap group N.W.A. (Jaimie Trueblood/Universal Pictures)
August 21
American Ultra
trailer:

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Topher Grace, Connie Britton, John Leguizamo, Bill Pullman
What:
So there’s this stoner dude, see, except he’s really a government operative—he’s a “sleeper.” His mind’s been messed with. But he’s got secret agent skills. So then the government decides that, oops, they don’t want him around anymore—he’s gotta be terminated! But whoa, hold on there government black-ops dudes, who are coming after him like it’s a walk in the park; you may find stoner boy’s a little too well-trained, for you to think you can just take him out, and then go for coffee. He’s also too stoned, into the bargain, to be predictable. This sounds like a very fun concept.
MORE:‘Paper Towns’ Teen Film Review: When You’re Young, Life Moves Pretty Fast … You Could Miss It

Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) and Phoebe Larson (Kristen Stewart) in “American Ultra.” (Alan Markfield/Lionsgate)
August 28
We Are Your Friends
trailer:

Starring: Zac Efron, Emily Ratajkowski, Jonny Weston, Jon Bernthal, Vanessa Lengies, Wes Bentley
(L-R) Alex Shaffer as Squirrel, Zac Efron as Cole, Jonny Weston as Mason, and Shiloh Fernandez as Ollie in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Studiocanal’s romantic drama “We Are Your Friends.” (Tony Rivetti Jr./Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
What:
Cole (Zac Efon) is a 23-year-old DJ, trying to make his mark in the electronic dance music scene. He’s got dreams, wants to become a big-time record producer. An older, more experienced DJ, James (Wes Bentley) starts mentoring Cole. However, Cole finds he’s got a thing for James’s woman, Sophie (former model Emily Ratajkowski). That all naturally gets out of control, with James naturally being very unhappy with this development. Therefore, Cole’s got to rethink his game plan. Maybe his whole life plan.

Z for Zachariah
trailer:

Starring: Chris Pine, Margot Robbie, Chiwetel Ejiofor
(L-R) Chris Pine, Margot Robbie, and Chiwetel Ejiofor in “Z For Zachariah.” (Z4Z Film Production UK Ltd/Roadside Attractions)
What:
A woman lives alone on a farm in a post-nuclear apocalyptic valley, which has somehow managed to avoid radiation poisoning. A year after the war, a stranger shows up (Chiwetel Ejiofor). He moves in; but it turns out—he’s got radiation sickness. They connect, they make plans, but then he starts to get weird and controlling. A third, (very handsome) survivor shows up. What could possibly go wrong?

Tom Cruise—say what you will about him—his espousal of, you know, certain thetanic… tenets, his heartfelt and misunderstood need to jump on couches, whatever. He’s still the most savvy action producer-star out there.
In the role of Ethan Hunt, he’s out-Bonded every Bond actor longevity-wise, he has great movie-making integrity, and he’s one of our most underrated actors. We could all use some of his thetanic conviction, apparently. “Thetan” is an L. Ron Hubbard-coined Scientology term, in case you weren’t aware.
Tom Cruise plays Ethan Hunt in “Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation,” from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions. (Bo Bridges/© 2015 Paramount Pictures)
So here he is again, banging out a fifth blockbuster with “Mission: Impossible–Rogue Nation.” Added to “Jurassic World” and “Ant-Man,” it completes a 2015 summer triumvirate of bona fide blockbusters.
Bad-Guy Update
This latest installment finally brings the series current with geopolitical terrorism as the all-pervading threat (instead of the Cold War).
A spate of downed passenger jets, military coups, and World Bank financial upheaval is suspected to be the work of “the Syndicate,” a super-secret, multinational, trans-agency team of operators formerly tasked for good, now gone rogue (Rogue Nation, that is), led by one lizard-like Solomon Lane (Sean Harris).
So Hunt’s team should be able to jump right in there and start smoking them out, right? Nope. After Hunt and the boys turned the Kremlin into a smoking pothole (previous movie), they’re in serious hot water with the U.S. government.
CIA Director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) tells a congressional oversight committee that Hunt and the Impossible Missions Force are dangerous—admittedly talented, but mostly lucky. They all need corralling back onto the CIA reservation. However, Hunt’s already hot on the Syndicate’s trail and will not stand down.
To the Opera, Ethan
So Hunt and techno-geek team member Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) jet-set to Vienna. The Syndicate’s put out a hit on the Austrian chancellor, so first there’s a prolonged bit of skulking about the Vienna Opera House during a performance of “Turandot”; catwalk fisticuffs, sniper rifles disguised as woodwind instruments, knife-play on guy wires—everything but actual swinging from chandeliers.
After Vienna, we get a Casablanca car-and-motorcycle chase. Director Hunley has set IMF members William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) after their wayward colleagues. Best line in the midst of the hullaballoo: “It’s a high-speed chase!! You just had to pick the 4×4 (lumbering Landrover) didn’t you? Just had to have it!”
Femme Fatale
The Casablanca setting was clearly fashioned around female lead Rebecca Ferguson, who’s Swedish, because of that other Swedish actress, Ingrid Bergman, who made a little movie called “Casablanca.” Ferguson’s character is named Ilsa. And Rebecca-as-Ilsa looks a lot like Ingrid. Nice.
Ilsa’s mysterious; she appears to be working with Lane but may also be on Hunt’s side. Either way, she just about steals the whole movie out from under Tom Cruise.
Tom Cruise plays Ethan Hunt and Rebecca Ferguson plays Ilsa in “Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation,” from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions. (Courtesy of David James/© 2015 Paramount Pictures)
She’s his female equal; like a lioness, her body radiates high charisma. Very heroic. You just know she’s going to prevail, and root for her regardless of whose side she might be on.
Ilsa’s signature martial arts move is to mount much bigger opponents’ bodies (lying or standing), to their shoulders, and triangle-choke them with a jiujitsu leg-lock, and rain down lethal blows.
Rebecca Ferguson plays agent Ilsa Faust in “Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation,” from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions. (Courtesy of Keith Hamshere/© 2015 Paramount Pictures)
Main thing about Ilsa, though, is that you sense in the midst of all her duplicity a deep loyalty. She risks her life to save kindred spirit Hunt’s, in a display of nurturing and commitment that makes their unspoken, minimal-contact “relationship” the most oddly satisfying male-female thing you’ve seen all summer.
Hunt’s the Man
However, even though she’s his equal, “Mission: Impossible” is still Cruise-town. There are three mind-blowing set pieces: First up is the trailer-featured shot of Cruise’s character freaking out, white-knuckling the locked door of a big ol’ taxiing A-400 military cargo plane, his feet flapping in the void. Why does he look like he’s freaking out? Because Cruise did this stunt himself, and that is actually him, thinking he’s going to actually die.
Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in “Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation,” doing his own stunt. From Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.(Bo Bridges/© 2015 Paramount Pictures)
Then, there’s an underwater sequence in something that looks like a G-force centrifuge module, where Hunt has to switch out an electronic chip, no oxygen tank, while avoiding getting clocked by two orbiting rotor arms spinning in opposite directions.
Finally there’s the Moroccan, 200-mph helmet-less motorcycle chase, which showcases some of the best bike stunts seen in movies. And don’t try this at home; all that insanely angled, motorcycle Grand Prix-type knee-dragging Cruise and Ferguson are doing cannot be done without a pro “knee puck” protecting your patella from getting lathed off. But it sure looks convincing!
Tom Cruise plays Ethan Hunt in “Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation,” from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions. (2015 Paramount Pictures)
How Good Is It?
Big-time fun. Action- and tension-wise it puts an immediate triangle choke on your focus and doesn’t let go, which is what we want from an action movie; we want a Six Flags experience—Cruise delivers.
As mentioned, Cruise has always been an underrated actor due to pretty-boy looks, but his ever-so-slightly supernormal energy and intensity make him perfect for what has now become his signature movie role.
Simon Pegg’s character is always the comic relief, but he’s got one apoplectic scene, livid at the thought of being left out of the action (“I am a field agent!!”) where you think, “That’s actually quite formidable.”
Alec Baldwin (L) plays Hunley and Simon Pegg plays Benji in “Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation,” from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions. (Christian Black/© 2015 Paramount Pictures)
Pegg was also apoplectic about movie posters that portrayed Ilsa in more of a sexy Bond-girl mode, in an interview with USA Today. Seems there was more to the Ingrid Bergman–Rebecca Ferguson parallel; Bergman was known for her deep sense of honor. Rebecca-as-Ilsa radiates that quality too, and Pegg felt the posters were cheapening this wholesomeness.
Alec Baldwin’s line “Sir, Ethan Hunt is the living manifestation of destiny,” incited a flurry of audience tittering at the New York press screening. Which means Baldwin’s either becoming a caricature of himself and getting into William Shatner-type unintentional camp territory, or he meant to camp it up. Since Baldwin’s a consummate comedic actor (any actor able to keep a straight face during his classic “Saturday Night Live” “Schweddy” skits can do very little wrong), we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
While the film doesn’t have the down-to-earth, funnier touch of previous director Brad Bird (“The Incredibles”), the new director puts his own stamp on it. And the fun of this franchise is that each new director gets to showcase their art—all enhanced, sharpened, and crafted by Cruise’s creativity as a producer.
‘Mission: Impossible–Rogue Nation’Director: Christopher McQuarrieStarring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, Alec BaldwinRunning Time: 2 hours, 11 minutesRelease Date: July 31Rated PG-134 stars out of 5

LONDON — This year’s Venice Film Festival will include Kristen Stewart in a sci-fi romance, Idris Elba at war and a thriller starring Tilda Swinton and Dakota Johnson, as well as potentially awards-worthy performances from Eddie Redmayne, Johnny Depp and Jake Gyllenhaal.
Organizers announced a 21-strong competition lineup Wednesday for the festival, which takes over the Italian maritime city’s Lido island for 11 days in September.
It includes Drake Doremus’ futuristic “Equals,” with Stewart and Nicholas Hoult; Luca Guadagnino’s “A Bigger Splash,” with Swinton, Johnson and Ralph Fiennes; and Cary Fukunaga’s African child-soldier story “Beasts of No Nation,” starring Elba.
Competition for the top Golden Lion prize also includes Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s animated feature “Anomalisa”; musician Laurie Anderson’s “Heart of a Dog”; and “The Danish Girl,” from “The King’s Speech” director Tom Hooper, which stars 2014 Oscar-winner Redmayne as a transgender woman in the 1920s.
MORE:New York Asian Film Festival: The Best and the Strangest
Also among the contenders: “Rabin, The Last Day,” Amos Gitai’s depiction of the 1995 assassination of Israeli leader Yitzakh Rabin; South African director Oliver Hermanus’ crime drama “The Endless River”; Polish filmmaker Jerzy Skolimowski’s “11 Minutes,” which follows several characters over the titular timeframe; and Argentine director Pablo Trapero’s family crime drama “The Clan.”
There are also new films from Canada’s Atom Egoyan (“Remember,” a Nazi-hunting thriller starring Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau), Russia’s Aleksandr Sokurov (the Paris-set “Francofonia”) and Italy’s Marco Bellocchio (vampire-themed “Blood of My Blood”).
Out-of-competition entries — which are not in the running for festival prizes but could be Academy Awards contenders — include Scott Cooper’s “Black Mass,” starring Depp as Boston gangster Whitey Bulger, and Thomas McCarthy’s “Spotlight,” which features Michael Keaton as the editor of a Boston Globe team investigating clerical sex abuse.
Martin Scorsese will bring “The Audition,” a short starring Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, while documentaries include Amy Berg’s Janis Joplin biopic “Janis.”
The 72nd Venice festival opens Sept. 2 with the world premiere of Baltasar Kormakur’s mountain drama “Everest,” starring Gyllenhaal and Robin Wright. It runs to Sept. 12, when a jury led by Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron will award the Golden Lion for best film and other prizes.
Venice vies as an awards-season springboard with the overlapping Toronto Film Festival, which this year runs Sept. 10-20. Several titles, including “Black Mass” and “The Danish Girl,” play at both events.

LOS ANGELES — For years, Bill Berloni has taught his dogs to play make believe. Now, he’s making it real.
The trainer teaches rescue dogs to beg, bark and bow or sit, stand and shake for movies, TV and the Broadway stage. Once the animal actors retire, he brings them home to join his 30 dogs, one cat, farm animals and singing macaw that swears like a sailor.
He is bringing the motley crew to reality TV in “From Wags to Riches with Bill Berloni,” the Discovery Family Channel’s first original series, debuting next week.
MORE:Do Animals Feel Pain Like We Do?
Berloni’s stable of stars — all found from shelters — have appeared in Broadway shows, touring companies, special events, the New York City Ballet, movies, television and commercials. He estimates he’s rescued 150 dogs since 1977.
Berloni, 58, who was recognized by the Tony Awards for excellence in the theater, has been approached about a reality series before. He says he gave this one the green light because “there aren’t many shows about good people doing good things.”
Some animal-welfare groups denounce animals in entertainment, but Berloni believes dogs were made for show business. He says he would never train a wild animal, but he does transform rough-and-tumble pooches into top actors.
He rescued a Chihuahua named Chico, who went on to play Bruiser in “Legally Blonde: The Musical,” when he was prone to biting and about to be euthanized at the pound. Berloni worked with Chico until he could bark on cue and run into his carrier whenever an actress says, “White shoes after Labor Day.”
Now, the tiny pooch that sleeps in the crook of his arm.
“Chico lives for me, and you can’t help but respond to that. It is a huge responsibility,” the self-taught trainer said.
Dogs are hardest to train for the stage, Berloni said. Unlike TV and film, there is no editing button, and it’s impossible to mask distractions from audiences and actors.
The dog he trained to play Sandy in the original stage production of “Annie” in 1977 eyeballed the audience as theatergoers in the front row were munching on fried chicken. But Sandy didn’t leave the stage, Berloni said.
“Annie” was a huge hit, and Sandy became the longest-running dog actor on Broadway — she didn’t miss a performance in seven years.
Sandy gave Berloni his start training celebrity dogs. He was working at an opera house in Connecticut, where he and his family live on a farm in Higganum, when a producer asked him to find and train the dog for “Annie.”
Things are a bit less glamorous on the reality show, which is wrapping up its first four episodes.
At home, Berloni’s salty macaw rules the roost. The bird named Kevin turns the kitchen sink into his stage, belting out tunes such as “Tomorrow” and “It’s Raining Men.” Despite his outrageous personality, Kevin has never acted, unlike his fellow pets.
“He is only a star in our living room,” Berloni said.
Co-executive producer Sarah T. Davies says the show stands out for its simple moments: A group of dogs playing in the snow; a massive St. Bernard getting a bath; his wife and daughter competing to bake the best dog biscuits.
“I do regard him as a real-life Dr. Doolittle,” Davies said.
Berloni says he’s focused on improving animals’ lives rather than the camera crews, but fame is nothing new. He had to confront it even at his daughter’s preschool about a decade ago.
“They called us in and said our daughter had a vivid imagination. They said she told them I was at ‘Sesame Street’ playing with Elmo. I told them I was,” Berloni said.

Film Review: ‘I Am Chris Farley’

Wednesday, 29 July 2015 by

For reasons of girth, Chris Farley was often compared to his hero John Belushi when he joined the cast of “Saturday Night Live.” Perhaps for the same reason, we too readily accepted his tragic early demise. As iconic as Belushi might be, Farley had a good-hearted Chaplinesque appeal that none of his contemporaries could match. Viewers get a sense of how genuine his aw-shucks persona really was in Brent Hodge & Derik Murray’s documentary, “I Am Chris Farley.”
Farley grew up in a loud, loving family in Wisconsin, with a garrulous father much like Brian Dennehy’s character in “Tommy Boy” (a much more autobiographical film than casual fans may have realized). For a while, Farley was a reasonably successful salesman for his dad’s company, but a chance encounter with semi-professional theater changed the trajectory of his life. His stints in regional theater led to a residency with Chicago’s famous Second City Theatre improvisational comedy troupe, which at the time was practically the farm team for “Saturday Night Live” (SNL)(a sketch comedy show that once aired on NBC after the Saturday night local news—and who knows, maybe it still does, but nobody has seen it since 2004).
Logically, Hodge, Murray, and screenwriter Steve Burgess devote the lion’s share of the film to his SNL period (1990-1995). That is what people will be most interested in—and sadly, Farley would tragically die soon after in late 1997. Arguably, Matt Foley, the motivational speaker with unfortunate living arrangements, represents the last truly classic SNLskit. As written, the humor of the situation is quite funny, but Farley’s efforts to break-up his buddy David Spade and guest host Christina Applegate made it legendary. Yet, the best part of the story comes when “I Am Chris Farley”identifies who the real Matt Foley is, because it reveals so much about Farley.
Hodge & Murray paint a comprehensive portrait of Farley as a devout Catholic and a devoted friend and brother.Indeed, Hodge & Murray paint a comprehensive portrait of Farley as a devout Catholic and a devoted friend and brother. Fortunately, they secured the Farley family’s participation, because his brothers’ reminiscences really help fill out the picture of someone so easy to caricature. They also scored sit-down on-cameras with many of Farley’s famous friends and colleagues, including Spade, Adam Sandler, Jon Lovitz, Jay Mohr, Bo Derek (who still looks fantastic), and Dan Aykroyd.
“I Am Chris Farley”hits theaters shortly after the release of Bao Nguyen’s SNLdoc “Saturday Night,” but it is by far the superior film. One could say the Farley profile is one hundred times better than the shallow, smugly self-congratulatory, slavishly PC bore that quickly exited theaters, but that would still unfairly imply it is a bad film. In fact, “I Am Chris Farley”is quite a good film, because it is so surprisingly endearing. Basically, it gets right everything that “Saturday Night”gets wrong.
Ultimately, “I Am Chris Farley”will increase viewers’ appreciation for Farley as an individual and the value of his work. Recommended for fans of Farley and Second City, “I Am Chris Farley”opens July 31 in New York at the AMC Empire, in advance of its August 10 premiere on Spike TV.

‘I Am Chris Farley’Directors: Brent Hodge, Derik MurrayStarring: Adam Sandler, Bo Derek, Christina ApplegateRunning time: 1 hour, 38 minutesRelease date: July 31Rated 
3.5 stars out of 5
Joe Bendel writes about independent film and lives in New York. To read his most recent articles, please visit www.jbspins.blogspot.com

International movie star Michelle Yeoh appeared at the Hong Kong popular wax museum Madame Tussauds on July 27 to unveil her second wax figure. The new waxwork is styled as the character “Yu Shu Lien” from the movie “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”.
The Kung Fu wax figure of actress Michelle Yeoh after its unveiling at Madam Tussauds, Hong Kong on July 27, 2015. (Bill Cox/Epoch Times )
As the only actress Kung Fu Star, the new wax figure of Michelle Yeoh will join Kung Fu Stars Bruce Lee, Donnie Yen and Jackie Chan at the brand-new Kung Fu Zone, to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Madame Tussauds in Hong Kong, and pay tribute to Hong Kong martial arts films.
The newly unveiled Kung Fu wax figure of actress Michelle Yeoh will be placed adjacent to the likeness of actor Donnie Yen in the new Kung Fu Zone, at Madam Tussauds, Hong Kong. (Bill Cox/Epoch Times)
Michelle said that Chinese martial arts has a long and illustrious history, Hong Kong martial arts films have made significant contributions to the spread of Kung Fu fever around the world. She is deeply humbled to be a part of the Kung Fu culture, and she hopes guests can experience the spirit of Chinese martial arts in the newly opened Kung Fu Zone. She also mentioned that “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II” will be released next year, and she hopes to make another Hong Kong film soon.
Actress Michelle Yeoh receives a gift from Ms Kelly Mak, General Manager, Madam Tussauds, Hong Kong at the unveiling of her Kung Fu wax figure on July 27, 2015. (Bill Cox/Epoch Times)

Actress Michelle Yeoh together with Mason Hung of the Hong Kong Tourism Board and Ms Kelly Mak at the unveiling of her Kung Fu wax figure at Madam Tussauds, Hong Kong on July 27, 2015. (Bill Cox/Epoch Times)
Michelle revealed that she made the trip to England herself for the measurements, and spent 5 hours with the UK production team for the sitting process, she said she is amazed by the professionalism of Madam Tussauds studio artists: “It never occurred to me before how similar wax-making artistry is to martial arts – both require patience, precision and an unyielding pursuit of perfection”.

Actress Michelle Yeoh poses with her Madam Tussauds, Kung Fu wax figure at its unveiling to the public in Hong Kong on July 27, 2015. (Bill Cox/Epoch Times)
Michelle also revealed that she likes to travel, she has just been to India for 8 days for hiking and visiting some temples, and she will begin to shoot 10 episodes for a TV series next month.

Models who become actresses—there are quite a lot of them. Fewer who can really act. Looks and talent are two very different things, but when they sync up, you get a Hollywood star.
Cara Delevingne attends the red carpet arrivals of “The Face of an Angel” during the 58th BFI London Film Festival at Odeon West End in London on Oct. 18, 2014. (John Phillips/Getty Images for BFI)
In most ways, the better-looking, the easier life gets, so women (and men) with arresting countenances, Greek-statue bodies, and the discipline to hew to exacting fashion industry proportions—have half the game beat.
New York acting coach Allen Savage, when asked to define charisma, said “extreme beauty can be a form of charisma.” People get mesmerized and hypnotized by it, can’t take their eyes off it, bow down to it. We dare say it’s godlike.
Which is probably what sitting in front of a 22-foot-high movie screen is: a secular form of deity worship. Which often starts on the catwalk. Which brings us back to modeling agencies as a feeder system for acting.
Introducing …
Cara Jocelyn Delevingne is one such (British) fashion model. They’d thought maybe she was the new Kate Moss, but it’s looking more like she’s becoming the anti-Kate Moss, ditching the runways for the big screen.
At age 10, Delevingne made her modeling debut with famed photographer Bruce Weber. After leaving school in 2009 and signing with Storm Model Management, she won the British Fashion Awards’ Model of the Year award in 2012 and 2014.
She began her acting career with the 2012 film “Anna Karenina,” and is currently starring in the American high school coming-of-age film “Paper Towns.” Delevingne also sings, plays guitar and drums, and beatboxes.
The 22-year-old Burberry model, who’s also the face of high-fashion lines like Fendi and Chanel, best known for her striking eyebrows and sticking her tongue out at the camera, is also known for running around dressed up as bananas and hot dogs, and instigating lots of on-set fun. In addition to which, she’s been deemed the real deal by film critics.
Critic Curation
New York Magazine/Vulture’s Bilge Ebiri: “Delevingne is so good, so magnetic, that there’s a palpable drop in pressure after she vanishes.”
Pete Hammond of Deadline Hollywood Daily says, “Delevingne has a face the camera loves and clearly a future in movies. “
Margo (Cara Delevingne) and Quentin (Nat Wolff) share an intimate moment during an all-night adventure in “Paper Towns.” (Michael Tackett/Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)
Sandy Schaefer of ScreenRant says, “Delevingne succeeds at portraying Margo as the enchanting wild-child that her peers believe her to be, while also subtly communicating that something very different may be going on below her surface.”
Justin Chang of Variety calls her “the real find of the film.”
Choosey
She’s been rejecting cliché roles normally offered to models, and waiting for her shot. Normally one does not turn down roles in Hollywood, since newcomers are beggars and can’t afford to be choosers, but Delevingne chose to stay true to her dignity, having felt that she’d already compromised enough as a model. Her role model is former model and Oscar winner Charlize Theron.
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She’s already played a super-baddy in the DC Comics 2016 film “Suicide Squad,” has four new film projects in the pipeline, and has been featured in a Taylor Swift video. She’s set to star in Luc Besson’s upcoming science fiction film “Valerian.”

LOS ANGELES—”Ant-Man” crept past new opener “Pixels” to claim the top spot at the box office this past weekend (July 25–26) by an ant-sized margin. The Disney and Marvel superhero pic brought in $24.8 million over the weekend, bringing its domestic total to $106.1 million, according to Rentrak estimates made on Sunday.
“Pixels,” meanwhile, just barely missed first place with a $24 million debut. While studios always hope for the bragging rights of a No. 1 debut, the real issue here is whether or not the Adam Sandler end of the world comedy will make up its $88 million production budget.
“It’s been a little competitive in the marketplace when you consider the extent of the performance of ‘Jurassic’ and ‘Inside Out,'” said Sony’s President of Worldwide Distribution Rory Bruer. “To get to where we opened to was quite good.”
Critics were not fond of “Pixels,” which shows 1980s video arcade game characters attacking Earth, but younger audiences still turned out to theaters—an estimated 62 percent were under the age of 25.
Paul Dergarabedian, Rentrak’s senior media analyst, said Sandler can still attract an audience, but the expensive film has a lot of ground to make up.
“They’re really going to have to count on the international component. That’s going to be key,” he said.
Overall, the box office is down 3 percent from the same weekend last year, when “Lucy” opened particularly strong. Dergarabedian said that though some are attempting to link last week’s theater shootings to any dip in the box office this weekend, “the numbers just don’t bear it out.”
Holdovers “Minions” and “Trainwreck” took the third and fourth spots with $22.1 million and $17.3 million, respectively.
Meanwhile, the R-rated boxing drama “Southpaw” surpassed expectations and landed a place in the top five with its $16.5 million opening.
Dergarabedian said that its performance is likely due to star Jake Gyllenhaal’s enthusiastic promotion of the film and also the fact that it provides an alternative to the standard summer blockbuster fare.
“‘Southpaw’ felt like a really good fall movie,” he said.
“Paper Towns,” an adaptation of John Green’s coming-of-age novel, opened in sixth place with $12.5 million. The Fox film only cost $12 million to produce, but considering Green’s fan base and last year’s massive $48 million debut of “The Fault in Our Stars,” which Green also wrote, it’s a bit disappointing.
A straight comparison isn’t entirely fair, though. “The Fault in Our Stars” had a much bigger following and transcended age and gender groups with its story of two teens dying of cancer and falling in love. “Paper Towns” is a more narrow and lighthearted high school tale.
According to exit polls, 71 percent of the “Paper Towns” audience were female and 78 percent were under age 25.
Also, Shailene Woodley was a much bigger name when “The Fault in Our Stars” came out, whereas Cara Delevingne and Nat Wolff are somewhat lesser known.
Woodley’s “Divergent” association took the modest film “to another level,” Dergarabedian said.
“I think we have a job ahead of us in the coming weeks to find more of our potential audience whom we weren’t able to reach this weekend. But I think we can do that,” said Chris Aronson, Fox’s domestic distribution president.
Below is a list of estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Rentrak. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. “Ant-Man,” $24.8 million.
2. “Pixels,” $24 million.
3. “Minions,” $22.1 million.
4. “Trainwreck,” $17.3 million.
5. “Southpaw,” $16.5 million.
6. “Paper Towns,” $12.5 million.
7. “Inside Out,” $7.4 million.
8. “Jurassic World,” $6.9 million.
9. “Mr. Holmes,” $2.8 million.
10. “Terminator Genisys,” $2.4 million.

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