‘Run’ Is the Movie McDreamy Fans Forgot

February 7, 2021
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There aren’t a lot of R-rated Disney action movies, but “Run” remains a supreme guilty pleasure from the Mouse House.

No, this isn’t the “Run” (2020) that stars Sarah Paulson as a mother committing Munchausen by Proxy. It’s also not “Run Hide Fight” (2020) the controversial school shooting drama that is becoming an online talking point. Nor is it “Run All Night” (2015), the Liam Neeson vs. Ed Harris action showdown.

Actually, the 1991 “Run” stars a post-“Can’t Buy Me Love” Patrick Dempsey as a smug law student named Charlie Farrow. His character is assigned to drive a Porsche to Atlantic City but winds up in Sawtucket when the engine overheats.

While waiting for the local mechanic to fix the car, Charlie talks his way into a high-stakes poker game, in which a hostile gambler (well played by veteran character actor A.C. Peterson) challenges him. A fight breaks out and, in an act of self-defense, Charlie accidentally kills him.

We quickly learn the gambler was the son of the highly connected goodfella named Halloran (Ken Pogue, solid as an unstable mob boss), who controls the entire town. Charlie flees the casino but finds every cop and gangster on the take is now after him.

If John Wick weren’t an assassin supreme but a smarmy punk college kid, whose special ability was just dumb luck, he’d be Charlie Farrow.

Dempsey fails to make this wiseass-on-the-run truly endearing but, in terms of his physical performance, he’s impressive here. Dempsey sprints, leaps, slides through the pins in a bowling alley lane, smacks into brick walls, dangles over high rise buildings, leaps over a cop car and flings himself down flights of steps.

It appears that he did most of his own stunts.

FAST FACT: “Run” earned an anemic $4.4 million at the U.S. box office, hardly making up for the film’s reported $16 million budget.

Dempsey’s best performance as a leading man was already behind him: Phil Alden Robinson’s “In the Mood” (1987), another out-of-print title, is Dempsey’s finest film work. Nevertheless, while “Run” isn’t an Oscar-caliber performance (and neither is the movie, to say the least), his fans would be delighted to see how convincing he is in a movie like this.

There are a few reasons you’ve probably never heard of “Run.”

It was an instant flop in theaters, found an audience on videocassette but was never released on DVD or Blu-ray and it’s not on Disney Plus, either. Dempsey’s late-career breakthrough with “Grey’s Anatomy” and a charming turn in “Enchanted” would surely have been enough reason to resurrect interest in “Run,” as it was one of two high profile 1991 movies that were aimed to turn Dempsey into an action star.

The other was the summer movie, “Mobsters,” in which Dempsey played Meyer Lansky and co-starred with Christian Slater.

As for why the film has been kept under wraps, perhaps Disney is uncomfortable promoting anything with a rating higher than PG (which has been its thing lately, since purchasing 20th Century Fox but putting the emphasis on its family-friendly streaming channel).

Or, maybe Dempsey is embarrassed by it, though he has nothing to be ashamed of — after all, he was once the star of “Meatballs III” (1987).

“Run” was the third film (after “Arachnophobia” and “Taking Care of Business”) released under Disney’s new Hollywood Pictures label (indeed, the end credits make it clear where it originates from: “This motion picture was created by Walt Disney Pictures and Television”).

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Hollywood Pictures was the second distribution label Disney created after the great experiment with Touchstone Pictures, in which the company known for “Bambi” and “Pinocchio” could release live-action, R-rated comedies for grown-ups. Think hits like “Down and Out in Beverly Hills,” “Stakeout,” “Ruthless People,” and “Outrageous Fortune” in addition to edgier PG-rated fare like “Splash” and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”

Unlike today, where anything too objectionable doesn’t get aired on Disney+ and, therefore, is shelved, Disney used to distribute a diverse slate of films for a wide variety of audiences.

“Run” isn’t their first R-rated action/thriller shoot-em-up, either. Through Touchstone Pictures and Hollywood Pictures, they released “D.O.A.” (1988), “One Good Cop” (1991), “Crimson Tide” (1995) and “The Rock” (1996), to name a few examples.

What makes “Run” stand out, in addition to its obscure status, is that, even though it’s a dopey, generically plotted B-movie, it delivers junk food cinema enjoyment. Like its star, it’s quick on its feet and never stops moving.

As directed by Aussie filmmaker Geoff Burrowes (who helmed the winning “The Man from Snowy River” and “Return to Snowy River”), it’s like a junior version of “North by Northwest,” minus style or wit but lots of drive-in movie thrills.

Did I mention how dumb the screenplay is (from the writing team that gave us “Turner and Hooch”)? Farrow has three college roommates who are introduced in the first few minutes, demonstrating how the screenwriter likely took a single character, stretched it to three and divvied the lines to three interchangeable actors.

On the drive to Sawtucket, Farrow gleefully cries out, “Oh, I am so shallow!” No argument here.

The orchestral score is a synthesizer heavy and a missed opportunity — a string orchestra could have really enhanced this. There’s a bit involving the wrong man being assaulted at a payphone that landed much better in “F/X” (1986).

The one-liners don’t land, though the closing line is a keeper (though I don’t mean to imply that it’s any good).

Kelly Preston has a key role as a casino dealer who takes pity on Farrow. The late actress is too good for this role, though she shined in many thankless parts as girlfriends and love interests before her best work (“Citizen Ruth” and “Jerry Maguire”) showcased her abilities as a character actress.

According to an old issue of Premiere Magazine, “Run” was originally supposed to star Mikhail Baryshnikov and Tracy Pollan; the mind boggles at what this would have been like with those two in the lead (could Pollan have created chemistry opposite the greatest dancer of the 20th century?).

Nevertheless, the whole premise is set up and in motion before the opening credits have finished. Twenty minutes in, Dempsey has already been running a lot. This has better momentum than smarts.

“Run” maintains its grip and not because Farrow is so likable (the opposite is true, as Dempsey lays on the self-satisfied attitude too thick); the depiction of an entire town under the grip of a wealthy criminal, who is rich enough to pay anyone willing to sell out for him, is compelling.

As everyone in Sawtucket with a gun, badge or both is willing to compromise their ethics and stalk Farrow, the feeling of moral rot is all over the film.

The CGI-free and on-the-level stunt work is strong and by the end, in which there’s a showdown in an empty dog track, this becomes as pulpy and brutal as it should be.

Perhaps it was a mistake sticking with the R-rating, as a PG-13 could have at least enticed Dempsey’s fanbase from his (at this point) steady work in rom-coms. Maybe Disney wasn’t really the best choice to release a movie with a body count this high or repeated scenes of characters being kicked and punched in the crotch.

It isn’t classy, but “Run” is a guilty pleasure, a B-movie that gives us TV’s “McDreamy” playing the kind of role we’ll never see from him again.

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How ‘Son of the South’ Misses Big Picture on Race, Reconciliation

February 5, 2021
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Director Barry Alexander Brown’s “Son of the South” depicts the “based on a true story” legacy of Bob Zellner, the son and grandson of KKK members who aided the efforts of Civil Rights activists.

Brown, who edited many of Spike Lee’s greatest films, wrote and edited “South” but fails to convince us why Zellner’s tale needed a feature-length portrait.

 

It begins in Mississippi in 1961, where we see Zellner’s defying the peer pressure of his community and even his Klansman grandfather (the late Brian Dennehy), who warns him that his efforts for peace and unity will be met with violence.

As one of five white college students who is noted for his progressive views on race, Zellner risks alienating his family and community by finding ways to help the Civil Rights movement. Figures like John Lewis (an outstanding Dexter Darden) and Rosa Parks (a great Sharonne Lanier) intermingle with Zellner’s journey, with the latter telling him, “There comes a time when you’ll have to decide which side you’re on… not choosing is a choice.”

“Son of the South” is dedicated to Lewis, includes a special thanks to Dr. Maya Angelou and Lee serves as the film’s executive producer. Considering the pedigree and the importance of the subject matter, I wish the film were so much better than it is.

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A fatal flaw is the miscasting of Lucas Till as Zellner. You may know Till from his turn as TV’s new “MacGyver” or from starring in the infamous flop, “Monster Trucks.” As Zellner, Till recites all of his lines in exactly the same glib and laidback way.

The actor is stiff, one-note and not yet ready to carry a film. Because the actor is so underwhelming, I found myself never caring about Zellner and wished the film would latch onto Lewis and or Parks. Till especially reveals himself to be out of his element when acting toe to toe with Dennehy or Julia Ormand.

FAST FACT: “Son of the South” is based on Zellner’s autobiography, “The Wrong Side of Murder Creek.”

While Zellner’s actions were admirable and worthy of discussion, the film never convinced me that we needed another film about the Civil Rights era from the point of view of a Caucasian. This is a history lesson from the wrong perspective, a reminder of films like “Heart of Dixie” (1989). We’ve had more than enough of those.

Only the end credits, which includes footage of the real Zellner during a peaceful protest, convinced me of the story’s potential as a film, albeit as a documentary. With new and far more memorable films about this subject matter, like the just-out documentaries “MLK/FBI” and “John Lewis: Good Trouble,” as well as the recent “Selma” finding an audience,

Lucy Hale tries, and fails, to bring much life to the by-the-numbers role of Zellner’s initially supportive but mostly disapproving girlfriend. As he did in Paul Schrader’s “First Reformed,” Cedric the Entertainer is startlingly great in a straight turn, once again playing a man of faith.

Brown’s abilities as an editor are in plain view — note the scene where the Freedom Riders are beaten when their bus arrives in Montgomery. Brown shapes it with skill, though he also keeps cutting away from the violence and bringing us back to Zellner’s safe distance.

The whole film is like that, a work that intends to inspire but feels too emotionally removed to be as angry and impassioned as it should be. Likewise, the music score is overly lightweight.

“Son of the South” feels truly alive when Darden’s John Lewis and Lanier’s Rosa Parks are briefly the focus. Since Zellner was a supporting member in the efforts for civil liberties and freedom for African Americans, he should’ve been a supporting character in a movie about this period and not the main focus.

There’s a powerful sequence in which activists are given training to be non-violent against those who oppose them; it’s the most bruising scene here. Otherwise, the complications that Zellner faces along the way, as depicted here, like a half-baked romance and a final confrontation from a town bully, come across as limp wristed.

The story going on around Zellner is the real story, which is a big problem for “Son of the South.”

There are a few brutal scenes but otherwise, this is ready for the Hallmark Channel. Zellner’s work, and that of everyone who suffered greatly and made enormous progress during this painful time, deserve a far stronger, more immediate film tribute.

Two Stars

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Revealed: Why ‘Borat’ Sequel Has All the Oscar Buzz

February 4, 2021
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Sacha Baron Cohen could have left his signature character in cold storage.

Instead, the British comic weaponized Borat Sagdiyev to “save Democracy,” as he puts it. More accurately, Borat’s return happened because Cohen’s Trump Derangement Syndrome demanded it.

Now, that same syndrome could turn Cohen into an awards season superstar.

The anything but subversive sequel, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” offers a fraction of the laughs as the 2006 original. And that’s being kind. The film earned raves all the same, including a “Best Picture” decree from the far-left New York Times.

The movie just nabbed Golden Globe nominations for Cohen (Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical), co-star Maria Bakalova (Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy or Musical) and Best Comedy or Musical.

Oscar love could be right around the corner.

The promotional materials sent by Amazon, the studio which scooped up Cohen’s sequel, help explain the film’s “great success.” Here’s Oscar winner Peter Farrelly, famous for ribald comedies like “There’s Something About Mary” and, later, “Green Book,” extolling the film’s virtues.

“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” is a “PBS-type special chronicling the deterioration of a nation in real time.” Farrelly later bashes Fox News in his factually-challenged rant, calling the film “death defying movie making of the highest order.”

Yes, there’s nothing braver than attacking Donald Trump in Hollywood.

Nothing.

Farrelly then suggests Cohen’s appearance, in costume, at a gun rally features violence “as real as ‘Cartel Land’ as the assault-rifle-packing crowd attacks the stage with blood thirst in their eyes.”

Here’s a peek at “Cartel Land” if you’re unfamiliar with the documentary.

If you’ve seen “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” you know how aggressively Farrelly spins the sequence in question, and we can assume the film’s editors already exaggerated what’s seen on screen.. And let’s not mention how Cohen, Farrelly and the rest of Hollywood stood down and/or egged on progressive violence that turned major American cities into disaster zones last year.

Not. A. Word. (except when Seth Meyers called it “graffiti and light property damage” and other stars bailed out violent protesters).

The “Borat” sequel is more propaganda than comedy, expertly marketed to reporters eager to amplify its message. Not a day goes by when a major entertainment news site doesn’t highlight one aspect of “Subsequent Moviefilm” or another.

The reality? The film’s GOP critiques felt as stale as a year-old Colbert monologue. There’s little eye-opening comedy in the film, other than a reminder how accommodating most Americans are. Yes, we saw that up close with “Borat” as ordinary Americans patiently put up with his high jinks.

It happens again with “Subsequent Moviefilm,” only with fewer laughs.

RELATED: Kimmel Lets Borat Sexualize First Lady Melania Trump

Cohen can’t stop talking about the reasons he made the sequel, inadvertently sharing how he focused more on talking points than actual laughs.

The actor’s self-important tone is funnier than anything in his movie.

“I wanted to be able to look at myself in the mirror after the election and know I had done everything I could to stop what I felt was an authoritarian destroying American democracy… We wanted it to be a powerful motivator to get people to vote.”

Far more effective in swaying the election? Big Tech and the corporate press covering for an elderly candidate and his crooked beyond words family ties.

It’s hardly the only comedy to put politics over raw laughter.

The 2016 comedy “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rule” crashed and burned at the box office after the film’s creative team hired female writers tasked with making the comedy “feminist” and “empowering.”

The lackluster results speak for themselves. The first “Neighbors” hauled in $150 million at the U.S. box office. The sequel? Just $55 million.

Turns out Cohen attempted a similar approach to his “Borat” sequel.

“The first thing we did was, we enlisted the greatest female comedy writers working today, including Nina Pedrad and Jena Friedman and Erica Rivinoja. We knew we wanted this to be a movie that inspires women and which would have a feminist agenda … We knew women would have to come out in large numbers and vote against this misogynistic president.” Cohen said.

Guessing Tara Reade, or any of the women President Joe Biden has made visibly uncomfortable over the years, won’t appear in a third “Borat” romp.

Trump Derangement isn’t fading anytime soon in Hollywood, which means Cohen may have plenty to celebrate as awards season marches on.

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Don’t Fall for Hollywood’s Newest Virtue Signal

February 1, 2021
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Conservatives are falling into a Cancel Culture trap.

They understandably cheer when a celebrity speaks out against the phony, toxic trend. It happened a few weeks ago when Matthew McConaughey blasted Cancel Culture on a British talk show.

“Where the waterline is going to land on this freedom of speech, and what we allow and what we don’t and where this cancel culture goes…is a very interesting place that we’re engaged in right now as a society of trying to figure out, because we haven’t found the right spot,” continued the actor.

When [co-host Piers] Morgan suggested that British politics has become “so tribal now that consensus is getting buried in the mix,” McConaughey responded, “There’s no room for any consensus. You’ve got to have confrontation to have unity, I think we can all agree on that. That’s when the democracy works really well.”

Over the weekend, veteran actor Ethan Hawke shared similar sentiments. The “Tesla” star dug deep into what Cancel Culture means for artistic expression, one of many reasons artists should speak out against it.

What’s that great Mark Twain line? “The aim of art is to alleviate shame.” We’re in this period now when you can’t even write about bad behavior because it might seem like you’re condoning it. You have to be able to create a character who does things they wish they didn’t do. I went back and forth on it, because it’s just a petrifying time to speak about male sexuality. If you can’t shine a light into dark corners, the demons that live there will never go away.

He’s right. Hawke’s argument also flirts with Cancel Culture’s inherent insincerity. The next “John Wick” film will likely feature dozens, if not hundreds, of villains killed by its franchise hero.

No trial. No chance at retribution. Just a bullet in the brain or some other vital part of the body. And you won’t see a single hashtag campaign against the film or calls to cancel it.

If Keanu Reeves’ character misgenders a character, though, the woke mob will spring into action.

RELATED: Why Hasn’t Cancel Culture Come for Alec Baldwin?

Comments like these are important, to a degree. The more left-leaning artists speak out against Cancel Culture, the better. Most actors stay silent on the issue or actively promote woke rules. Others bow to the woke mob, like Halle Berry and Scarlett Johansson, further emboldening it.

Yet Hawke and McConaughey’s comments are increasingly hollow given the current climate. The quotes will careen around social media and news sites for a day or two and then essentially vanish.

Nothing will be changed by them.

Meanwhile, people are losing their jobs for simply posting on free expression platforms like Gab and Parler. A sitting president got booted off of most major social media outlets while Hollywood heavy hitters cheered it on. Parler itself is still in limbo after Amazon, which attempted to silence a black filmmaker for sharing a different perspective on Black Lives Matter, crushed its service within a few days.

Twitter is waging war against conservatives but letting vile comments from the Left go unpunished.

Stars speaking out against Cancel Culture get a flood of free publicity, and then they go back to their day jobs. It isn’t so simple for others, though.

When stars get politically active you know it. They leverage interview after interview, Tweet after Tweet, toward the cause. They open up their wallets and purses, wide. It’s a non-stop flurry meant to change hearts, minds and even votes.

Will Hawke or McConaughey do anything of the kind? Might they actively seeking out conservative crew members for their next project? What about giving Roseanne Barr, permanently canceled for sending one racist Tweet, a cameo in their next feature?

Are they writing checks toward groups fighting for free speech, the all-American right that allows them to be rich, famous and Oscar worthy?

No?

We can still applaud their statements while realizing it’s just another form of virtue signaling.

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‘Mosquito Coast’ Gave Harrison Ford, and His Fans, the Ultimate Challenge

January 30, 2021
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Harrison Ford’s character in “The Mosquito Coast” is a genius, a quality he goes out of his way to ensure everyone around him knows.

Ford’s Allie Fox is a tireless inventor who has never received the recognition and respect he feels he deserves. He passive aggressively butts heads with anyone who disagrees with him or doesn’t acknowledge his accomplishments.

After yet another demonstration of his latest invention goes bust, Fox randomly decides to move his entire family from their American home into the jungles of Honduras, where he buys a town and sets up a private community.

Being in the jungle doesn’t just give Fox the time and focus to create but it unleashes all the potential for human misery within him.

“The Mosquito Coast,” Peter Weir’s 1986 jungle adventure, tips its hat in the direction of John Huston and Werner Herzog and avoids any audience hand holding. What Weir and Ford came up with could only have been made with their attachment, as this is as anti-Hollywood formula as they come in 1986.

Leveraging their box office and Oscar success of “Witness,” their Paul Theroux adaptation is strange, uncompromised and riveting.

Rich in vision and ideas, but so anti-mainstream, you can’t help but admire how all involved managed to trick Warner Bros. into making a big-budget art movie. A metaphor for colonialism, American entitlement (ironically, as Fox is constantly mocking All-American values) and the peak of male hubris, “The Mosquito Coast” isn’t “fun” and it certainly isn’t subtle, either.

Theroux’s 1981 novel on which this is based adapts the “Heart of Darkness” template and contrasts a man of science and a man of faith creating contrasting societies in the jungle, which allows for their good intentions and worst impulses to come to light.

It should come to no one’s surprise that this one flopped in theaters, with only a handful of film critics recognizing its achievements. The film’s monetary failure is an afterthought, as this is one of Weir’s strongest American films.

RELATED: Why Peter Weir’s ‘Witness’ Remains a Movie Miracle

Ford is incredible here, playing an insufferable egghead who bulldozes his way through life. It’s jaw dropping to see Ford play the antithesis of every character he’s played before and since. Watching this icon embody a high IQ’d monster is a further reminder that the greatest movie star of my generation is, first and foremost, a gifted actor.

Fox is like the dark side of Indiana Jones, as Fox is brilliant but has no empathy. He presents with a you’re-either-with-me-or-against-me attitude towards everyone he encounters.

There’s a moment where Fox holds a hammer to his side and Weir positions his camera from the hip — the shot appears to be a sly reference to the famous sword fight/ gunshot moment from “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

There’s also a quick pan from Fox to a cluster of indigenous faces looking at him, which also brings to mind the moment Dr. Jones outran a giant boulder and found himself surrounded by an angry tribe. Perhaps Fox is Dr. Jones as a contemporary creep, devoid of compassion, sacrificing everything to prove his worth and vocalizing an ongoing disdain with modern-day America.

Has the actor ever played a “villain” before? Yes, but his flawed husband in “What Lies Beneath” had a seductive exterior.

Here, Fox is hard to like from the start.

FAST FACT: “The Mosquito Coast” earned an anemic $14 million at the U.S. box office in 1986. Compare that to “Witness,” with the same director-actor combination which generated $68 million a year prior. The latter also earned eight Oscar nominations, winning for Best Editing and Best Original Screenplay.

It’s a bold, downright radical idea to put Ford, the embodiment of the contemporary movie hero, in this role. Better still, Ford goes all-in, keeping us both fascinated and disgusted with the man he’s playing.

As Fox’s oldest son, River Phoenix is wonderful here. He brilliantly played Ford’s Dr. Jones as a young man at the top of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” Phoenix clearly watched his famous “Mosquito Coast” co-star carefully and wound up not giving a mere impersonation of Ford as Jones but a genuine characterization using his vocal cues.

“The Mosquito Coast” is one of many films that showcase what a natural and captivating actor Phoenix was.

Helen Mirren brings humanity to the unplayable role of Fox’s wife, whose trust and willingness to follow her husband on whatever scheme he concocts made me ponder whether she’s a fool or just numb to his constantly failing to deliver on his promises.

Martha Plimpton steals her two scenes as a wild teen who entices Phoenix’s innocent daddy’s boy, and Andre Gregory is terrific playing a man who is either Fox’s exact opposite…or not.

Watching “The Mosquito Coast” today isn’t all that different from seeing it in 1986. Either you find Allie Fox a transfixing figure and maintain your gaze even as he descends into his personal hell, or you check out early and wonder why Ford would bother embodying such a jerk in the first place.

RELATED: Will Harrison Ford’s ‘Indy’ Go the Full Pee Wee?

Weir’s patience for story and atmosphere building are here, but his unceasing fixation on such an unpleasant protagonist (or is it antagonist?) sets this apart from most of his other works. Perhaps Weir’s “Fearless” (1993) is the only other example where the casting is enough to draw an audience into difficult material.

Theroux’s story, in the hands of screenwriter Paul Schrader’s cinematic rendering of it, is episodic and heavy-handed. At one point, Fox sits with his family over the dinner table and announces, “Our first Thanksgiving in the new world.”

It’s not the only on-the-nose line, nor the sole moment that is delivered without an ounce of subtlety.

“The Mosquito Coast” impresses with its steadfast refusal to compromise the sting of its message and portrait of a man’s ultimate self-destruction.

News that Justin Theroux (Paul’s nephew) is playing Fox in an upcoming Apple Plus miniseries adaptation is encouraging; this isn’t a story that works only in the ’80s. In fact, Weir’s film, released during the year of “Top Gun,” was ahead of its time, with its depiction of off-the-grid radicals seeking greatness outside the privileges of American life.

While “The Mosquito Coast” lacks the consistency and quiet poetry of “Witness,” it’s a much tougher work that goes in rewarding and adventurous directions. Ford rarely took risks like this again, which is a shame. His follow-up films, Roman Polanski’s “Frantic” and Mike Nichols’ “Working Girl” were stretches but in vehicles that were safer and tapped into his natural charisma.

It wouldn’t be until “42” that we’d see Ford take on a character role again.

Fans of Weir and Ford need to see “The Mosquito Coast,” an essential and surprising collaboration.

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How ‘Little Things’ Squanders Its Oscar-Winning Cast

January 28, 2021
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John Lee Hancock’s “The Little Things” begins at night, where a motorist on a road trip is singing along to the radio and finds herself tailed by a car that dangerously speeds next to her.

A pursuit leads to a foot chase, with the sequence feeling less like a slasher movie cliché and more akin to the chair-clutching horror of David Fincher’s “Zodiac.”

After the scary opening scene, “The Little Things” reveals itself to be patient, character-driven and truly odd. This is the kind of mystery that doesn’t reward the attentiveness we’re giving it.

Denzel Washington stars as Joe Deacon, a troubled police officer who, along with Jim, a hotshot new cop (Rami Malek), takes on a murder case that might be the work of a serial killer. Deacon’s boss (the wonderful character actor Terry Kinney) wants him to stay away from the investigation, but Jim takes notice of Joe’s gift of observation and partners with him on the hunt.

The film is set in 1990, which is evident from the subtle costume and auto choices but mostly because there’s use of pay phones and pagers and not a cell phone in sight.

Washington is always a pleasure to watch, even here, where he’s typically good but not giving one of his best performances. The problem isn’t his acting (I don’t think he’s capable of giving a bad performance, not even in a bad movie) but the character has limited potential. His character’s special skills at tracking criminals aren’t fully developed. There’s an especially weird bit where he envisions the female victims of the killer hanging out around his bed at night.

This is Washington’s return to this genre for the first time since “The Bone Collector.” I’m happy to report that its better than the other serial killer thrillers he’s starred in, like “Ricochet” and “Fallen.”

When an actor of his caliber makes a pulpy film like this, you hope its superior junk food, like “Déjà vu” or “Out of Time.” Instead, we get a prestigious crime procedural that displays a craftsmanship far loftier than that of a typical crime TV series but a story that doesn’t go anywhere.

Another major problem is Malek, who gives a surprisingly wooden performance. He may have given a definitive, Oscar-winning portrait of Freddie Mercury but here, he makes his dialog sound unnatural and stilted. I can’t tell if he’s going for a deliberately weird, Christopher Walken element to his line readings or if Malek just simply isn’t good in this.

RELATED: Not Even Denzel Washington Can Save ‘Roman J. Israel, Esquire’

The film takes its time before Jared Leto finally puts in an appearance and it’s worth the wait.

His idiosyncratic touches makes his strange character bewitching. Playing a suspect in the case, Leto makes the most of his big interrogation scene and is the liveliest character here by far.

“The Little Things” waits far too long to tell us exactly what awful thing happened to Deacon that made him have to come back to work after a hiatus. Because the payoff takes so long, the impact is muted.

Hancock previously helmed “The Founder,” an underrated bio on the origin of McDonald’s and featuring a great Michael Keaton performance.

He also made “The Blind Side” and “Saving Mr. Banks,” two popular films I can’t stand. Here, at the helm of his undernourished screenplay, his aim to shape a cerebral thriller results in a stilted film.

Sometimes Hancock’s patter has a nice rhythm to it, but mostly I was aware that I was listening to dialog. I like how a sicko observes crime photos of a dead girl and nonchalantly offers his critique: “No Weegee.”

Out of Malek’s mouth, Hancock’s lines sound especially robotic. At one point, Malek utters, “You piss on my leg and call it rain.” Far more unfortunate is Washington declaring, and I’m not making this up, “Your dick is as hard as Chinese arithmetic.” I’d be curious to hear what Washington, Malek and Leto, all recent Oscar winners, made of the script.

Hancock also wrote the Clint Eastwood-directed masterpiece, “A Perfect World,” which makes me wonder if Eastwood’s touch would have better served this. There’s also bit of “Seven” and “The Vanishing,” though only a dash and not enough of what made those films great.

The outstanding components are John Schwartzman’s beautiful cinematography and Thomas Newman’s elegant, unusual score (at one point, he even uses a harp for effect). There are scenes in “The Little Things” I liked but this is the kind of movie that means to leave an impact but will likely be forgotten by Earth Day.

Still, considering that 2020 started off with “Dolittle,” this is at least a slight step up from the usual January fare.

“The Little Things” might have worked better as a novel, with the psychological angle better explored. Here, we wonder why a film so long and devoid of real thrills or major surprises drags its feet the whole way.

Like a groaner punchline to a joke with a great set-up, I walked away feeling duped.

Two Stars

The post How ‘Little Things’ Squanders Its Oscar-Winning Cast appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

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Sen. Cruz Exposes Seth Rogen, Hollywood, as Part of Blacklist 2.0

January 26, 2021
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You know a conservative is winning an argument when the other side screams, “shut up!”

Sadly, the Left has been screaming just that for so long they don’t realize how weak, and frightened, they sound. It’s why far-Left radicals shout down conservatives on college campuses and, more recently, on social media platforms.

The latest “case in point” came with a protracted battle between Sen. Ted Cruz and far-left, riot-supporting actor Seth Rogen.

Sound harsh?

Rogen sent a fat check to the Minnesota Freedom Fund last year, hoping to bail out those who helped the Twin Cities burn following the death of George Floyd. When this reporter asked his representatives if the “Knocked Up” star worried his cash would go to violent offenders (and it likely did…) he had no comment.

Back to the digital dustup…

It started when Sen. Cruz slammed the new Biden administration for rejoining the serially flawed Paris Climate Agreement.

“…President Biden indicates he’s more interested in the views of the citizens of Paris than in the jobs of the citizens of Pittsburgh,” tweeted Cruz on Wednesday. “This agreement will do little to affect the climate and will harm the livelihoods of Americans.”

Rogen’s mature response?

“F*** off you fascist”

The fight continued, with Rogen claiming Cruz was responsible for the “white supremacist” Jan. 6 Capitol riots because he questioned elements of the 2020 presidential election. Nearly all of Hollywood did just that four years ago, without evidence, when Donald Trump fairly and squarely defeated Hillary Clinton.

And yes, there was violence aplenty at Trump’s inauguration.

We subsequently saw a U.S. Congressman, Steve Scalise, get shot by a far-left gunman, a Fox News host have his house vandalized by far-left extremists and Trump supporters routinely bludgeoned. That’s just a microscopic example of the reams of violence fueled by the liberal media and Hollywood over the past four years.

If Rogen wants to play the Blame Game, then things will get very ugly, very fast.

The Senator then slammed both Rogen and his far-left chums for hurting the working man.

Charming, civil, educated response. ⁦
@Sethrogen⁩

If you’re a rich, angry Hollywood celebrity, today’s Dems are the party for you.

If you’re blue-collar, if you’re a union member, if you work in energy or manufacturing…not so much.

President Joe Biden’s recent flurry of executive orders will result in thousands of lost jobs. None of that will touch Rogen, though, nor his elite circle.

Rogen’s reaction? More hate and profanity:

Haha get f***ed fascist. Go encourage a white supremacist insurrection again you f***ing clown.

Sen. Cruz then went for the rhetorical kill shot:

All jokes aside, @Sethrogen is a moron.

It’s your party that believes in govt power: to shut your business, to oppress your faith & to censor your speech.

Anyone who disagrees, they try to cancel.

BTW, a lot of folks in Hollywood are conservative—& muzzled by the fascist Left. https://t.co/i9o80vFtS0

— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) January 24, 2021

Sen. Cruz is 100 percent accurate.

Rogen’s liberal peers are the ones canceling careers and people with alacrity. They’re preventing conservative creatives from feeling welcome in the entertainment industry, an issue that persists without an ounce of outrage from A-listers.

They’re either ignoring, or outright cheering, as Republicans get booted off social media platforms, from former President Donald Trump to conservative influencers like Mike Lindell and more.

RELATED: ‘The View’s’ Shreda ‘Will & Grace’ Blacklisters

It’s Democratic politicians who shut down states, cities and businesses without the “science” to back up their arguments. And it’s some of those same Democrats who are suddenly re-opening their cities and states now that a Democrat is in the White House.

Rogen’s Hollywood chums also mocked ordinary Americans who resisted the lockdowns, eager to hold on to their businesses, their homes, their livelihoods.

So how did Rogen respond to Cruz’s latest blast.

He didn’t.

So Esquire rushed to his defense. The far-left “men’s magazine” comically recalled the McCarthy era to attack Cruz. Not the guy telling folks to shut up, mind you, but Cruz. The site later explained away all the times celebrities incited violence by claiming it never caused real-world mayhem.

Rep. Scalise and Sen. Rand Paul would politely disagree. So would hundreds of Trump supporters. And don’t think the nonstop “Trump is Hitler” messaging didn’t allow Big Tech to aggressively silence right-of-center voices. without more public outrage.

Esquire wraps its farcical Cruz attack with, what else, a call for silence.

If the Trump presidency taught us anything it’s that baseless lies and accusations have consequences. Also, that politicians should probably tweet less. So please, Sen. Cruz, for the sake of our democracy, shut up.

Yes, please shut up, because otherwise we might lose the argument.

Again.

The post Sen. Cruz Exposes Seth Rogen, Hollywood, as Part of Blacklist 2.0 appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

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‘No Man’s Land’s’ Own Studio Lies About the Immigration Drama

January 25, 2021
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IFC Films couldn’t even describe its own movie accurately.

The indie studio’s “No Man’s Land” follows a ranching family facing the consequences of a porous U.S.-Mexico border. The Greers are just trying to stay financially afloat, but constant incursions onto their property put that survival in doubt.

The conflict comes to a head when, during a tense exchange, two people are shot.

Mild Story Spoilers Ahead:

The ranchers aren’t patrolling the border like the Minutemen, the self-appointed guards trying to enforce border laws in the face of federal apathy. They just want to retrieve the cattle lost when illegal immigrants cut their fence.

Tell that to IFC’s marketing department, which describe the film like this:

Border vigilante [emphasis added] Bill Greer (Frank Grillo) and his son Jackson (Jake Allyn) are on patrol when Jackson accidentally kills a Mexican immigrant boy. Bill tries to take the blame but Texas Ranger Ramirez (George Lopez) sees through the lie, spurring Jackson to flee south on horseback across the Rio Grande to become a gringo “illegal alien” in Mexico.

That’s just wrong. Bill Greer isn’t a border vigilante, nor is he or his son “on patrol.” The patriarch is a hard-working man trying to keep his family, and finances, safe. He’s not looking for bloodshed or trouble. That’s abundantly clear to anyone watching the movie.

He just wants his property back. Each cattle lost will set the family back $2,000. Can we assume IFC’s marketing team saw its own movie?

The official IFC film description gets something else wrong, too.

Chased by Texas Rangers and Mexican federales, Jackson journeys across deserts and mountains to seek forgiveness from the dead boy’s vengeful father (Jorge A. Jimenez), as he falls in love with the land he was taught to hate. [emphasis added]

The Greers aren’t a hateful family, nor do they pass any animosity onto their teen sons, at least not that we see or hear. The family drove across the border for one simple reason:

“We’re going to Mexico and get our property back,” Grillo’s character says.

Need more proof that the Greers aren’t acting out of hate? One sequence finds the father listening to a radio show where either the host or a caller is excoriating illegal immigrants. The voice in question uses a slur for Mexicans, and Grillo’s character quickly snaps the radio off.

If he agreed with the sentiment wouldn’t he keep listening?

RELATED: HBO Delivers Double Dose of Open Borders Propaganda

The film also shows the other Greer son (Alex MacNicoll) showing empathy for the illegal immigrants coming to America. He shares the story of fish who keep taking a fisherman’s bait despite knowing the consequences. The immigrants flooding into the country, he says, share something with the fish.

Both are so hungry they’re willing to risk everything for food.

Time and again we’re shown how vital the ranch is to the Greers, particular young Jackson (Jake Allyn, the co-writer and star).

Jackson: “This is our home, Ma. I don’t want to lose it.”

Monica Greer [Andie MacDowell]: “Saving our home is not your job.”

The context couldn’t be more clear. This family could lose their family business, and more, if illegal immigrants keep encroaching on their property. Conversely, the Mexican immigrants shown in the film are kind-hearted people desperate for a better life.

Need even more evidence the Greer teens haven’t been taught to hate? The film opens with illegal immigrants invading the Greer ranch. They’ve sliced open the family’s cattle fence and the Greers rush out to chase them away before more property damage is done.

The intruders could be hard-working immigrants seeking a short cut into America, or they’re part of a cartel seeking mayhem north of the border.

The Greers can’t know for sure.

Jackson finds one Mexican immigrant, who appears to be a teen boy, hiding in the family’s chicken coop with hen in hand. Jackson lets the teen escape rather than snitch him out or try to capture him. He later lies to his brother to ensure the immigrant leaves their property without incident.

It’s an act of empathy, not hate.

One line suggesting Jackson had a negative view of Mexico comes after he spends a number of days in the country alongside several Mexican citizens.

“Mexico’s not like I thought it was … I was wrong. I was wrong about a lot.” The line is clunky, no doubt, and taken by itself could be evidence of his hardened heart. The rest of the film strongly contradicts that interpretation.

So why did IFC mischaracterize its own movie? Was the studio playing into critics’ hard-left sentiments? If so, they needn’t have bothered. Critics grossly mischaracterized the movie all on their own.

The far-left ScreenRant.com gets even more wrong in its review.

No Man’s Land is largely uninterested in exploring the Mexican characters’ stories, which transforms the film into an unbalanced drama that lacks nuance.

No. The narrative focuses mainly on Jackson’s plight, but we spend plenty of screen time with the father of a Mexican boy accidentally shot and killed, the vicious coyote seeking revenge for the lad’s death, various Mexican citizens who meet Jackson and the Latino sheriff (George Lopez) trying to make sense out of the senseless killing.

The story also explores the somber pageantry behind a Mexican funeral, giving the procession both ample screen time and palpable respect.

Then again, if the white screenwriters had written the story from the Mexican perspective they might be accused of either cultural appropriation or not handing the project over to a Latino creative team instead.

The Screen Rant review continues…

The family is struggling, but wrongly assumes the Mexicans crossing through their land are drug runners.
Everything changes when Jackson shoots and kills a young Mexican boy who was passing through with his father Gustavo (Jorge A. Jimenez) and a group of migrants. On the run, Jackson crosses the border into Mexico to hide.

The first sentence isn’t completely accurate. The second ignores the fact that a Mexican teen ignites the violent confrontation between the Greers and a group of illegal immigrants by stabbing Papa Greer in the shoulder.

Seems a critical point to leave out, no? Several film critics also left out the stabbing to make it look like the violence came from the Greers’ side.

Other critics complained that the movie didn’t tell the story THEY wanted to see.

But the story still centers a white male experience and hero’s journey, a question that starts to nag as the plot leaves a few Mexican characters, including a child, dead.

The Film Stage uses “No Man’s Land” as an excuse to attack Texas and the United States. Talk about a broad brush approach.

The premise demands that a grieving father accept Jackson’s contrition even though Jackson’s country, state of Texas, and indoctrinated prejudice should never be excused.

What a hyperbolic attack. And, again, what prejudice? Every Mexican character Jackson meets he treats with respect.

The reviewer then slams the Greer family for attempting to retrieve its valuable property.

The sole reason Jackson was even there that night was because he believed he had business to finish. He believed he had to help save his family’s ranch.

Well … yes. Yes he did. Mexican immigrants break U.S. laws because they want a better life. The ranchers in “No Man’s Land” try to retrieve their cattle because they otherwise might go bankrupt. Why would a critic sympathize with one and not the other?

The post ‘No Man’s Land’s’ Own Studio Lies About the Immigration Drama appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

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Confirmed: Fallon’s Anti-Trump Pose Crushed His Ratings

January 24, 2021
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For Jimmy Fallon it was the hair tussle seen ’round the world.

The “Tonight Show” host had the temerity to muss up guest Donald Trump’s hair deep into the 2016 presidential campaign. Fallon might well have pushed an elderly nun down the stairs judging by the media’s reaction.

The rage went on, and on, until Fallon served up a groveling apology for treating his guest like … a guest.

The host of “The Tonight Show” tells The Hollywood Reporter he “made a mistake” and apologized “if I made anyone mad.” He adds that he “would do it differently” looking back on the Sept. 15, 2016 episode….

“I did not do it to ‘normalize’ him or to say I believe in his political beliefs or any of that stuff.”

The criticism cut him deeply, as he shared in the fallout from TussleGate.

“It’s tough for morale,” he said. “You go, ‘Alright, we get it. I heard you. You made me feel bad. So now what? Are you happy? I’m depressed. Do you want to push me more? What do you want me to do? You want me to kill myself? What would make you happy? Get over it.’”

The President’s reaction proved both blustery and dead on:

“Be a man, Jimmy.”

The “Saturday Night Live” alum didn’t take the advice.

Fallon, like another star harassed into becoming a progressive activist (Taylor Swift), did as his media bullies told him to do. He turned “The Tonight Show” into yet another anti-Trump forum, obsessing on the President on a nightly basis.

Except late night viewers already had their anti-Trump fix with Colbert … and Kimmel … and Maher … and Bee … and Oliver … and Minaj … and Desus & Mero … Wolf … and Handler … and Corden.

RELATED: Why Fallon Betrayed Personal Pledge, Joined the Resistance

What Fallon offered was an inauthentic version of their far-left broadsides, and audiences acted accordingly. TheWrap.com’s Pro edition revealed just how much audience share Fallon lost during the Trump years.

Fallon suffered double-digit declines (on a percentage basis) in total viewers and the key demo in each year of Trump’s presidency — something that Colbert and Kimmel never experienced.

“The Tonight Show” entered the Biden era on equally wobbly legs, TheWrap.com notes, staying behind Colbert’s “The Late Show” in the overall ratings race and even, occasionally, “Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Fallon’s late night showcase suffered the biggest slippage last year, when Fallon’s anti-Trump fury sometimes lapped his far-left peers.

Fallon’s average audience actually fell 17% last year compared to 2019, forcing him to slip behind Kimmel for the first time.

It didn’t have to be this way.

Fallon could have stayed more neutral, telling less venomous Trump jokes and poking the other side of the aisle with equal fervor. His comical swipe at failed presidential candidate Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, for example, could have been the rule, not the exception.

It’s not like the Democrats lack comic foils. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, all by herself, could fuel endless late night gags. Instead, the contrite Fallon did what the media elite told him to do.

The results aren’t pretty.

Imagine if he had kept his genial approach through the Trump era and didn’t alienate roughly half the viewing audience. He’d be positioned for the Biden administration better than any current late night show. Who wants to hear Colbert gush about Vice President Kamala Harris’s iPod playlist or President Joe Biden’s passion for ice cream. (Yes, that’s a legitimate news narrative attached to the 46th president).

Far-left hosts will be scrambling in the coming weeks to cover politics in a way that doesn’t remotely attack the Democrats, a challenge given how they currently dominate Washington. They’ll likely sic their “comic” monologues on Fox News, Tucker Carlson and Sen. Ted Cruz, but it won’t be the same as their anti-Trump glory days.

Fallon could have offered an alternative, a place where viewers know the political jokes wouldn’t be vicious and both sides will take it on the chin.

Instead, Fallon and the vaunted “Tonight Show” brand looks smaller, nay wimpier, today. 

The post Confirmed: Fallon’s Anti-Trump Pose Crushed His Ratings appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

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Reborn ‘Wrong Turn’ Franchise Should Have Stayed Dead

January 22, 2021
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Near the end of the “Wrong Turn” reboot the main characters drop a boulder-sized Easter Egg.

The aside, which won’t be revealed here, shrugs at how the film jettisoned the key element from the previous “Wrong Turn” features.

Big mistake.

Not only does the new “Wrong Turn” disavow the franchise’s pulpy roots, it replaces them with a staid story with little to recommend it.

Concerned pappy Scott (Matthew Modine) is trying to find his missing daughter, Jen (Charlotte Vega), who went hiking with her friends more than a month ago.

He hasn’t heard from her in weeks.

The film flashes back to Jen’s trip, introducing us to her bland group of woke chums. Jen’s biracial beau (Adain Bradley) works at a sustainability nonprofit, and two other buds are a devoted gay couple who can’t stop with the PDAs.

They set out for the Virginia woods after several locals warn them not to stray from the path. That connects us to the franchise’s roots, while allowing the filmmakers to take cheap shots at Rural USA. The first 20 minutes of “Wrong Turn” are spent insulting the locals, seen as racist, homophobic Confederate flag wavers.

“You G– D—- hippie freaks are the problem with the whole world,” one crusty patron cries during a bar argument. There’s “punching down,” and then there’s shoveling a six-foot hole and starting from there.

Guess where this fits in?

It’s like a clumsy rebuke to “Hillbilly Elegy,” but the asides quickly give way to the main event — six attractive young people lost in the woods, unaware of what’s waiting for them.

It’s what “Wrong Turn” fans want above all else. Let the games begin.

RELATED: Are You Ready for a Woke Christmas Slasher Film?

The first “game” grabs us by the scruff of the neck. Traps are sprung, our heroes are scattered and it’s clear something in the woods knows they’re there. So what can the new “Wrong Turn” bring to the formula, one that proved shockingly effective even during its straight-to-video phase?

You’ll be sorry you asked.

Sharing more about the plot threatens sizable spoilers. Suffice to say “Wrong Turn” goes in an entirely different direction than past installments, replacing the franchise’s grindhouse fun with grim, self-important storytelling.

Wow, is that a disastrous “Turn” of events.

The revelations behind the initial attack slow the film’s momentum, disconnect from the franchise’s DNA and offer little that’s novel or refreshing.

Want some scares? You won’t find many here. The franchise’s B-movie ‘tude is replaced by some unintentional laughs. Need an example? A character brags about her friend’s climate change expertise to the locals.

That’s a knee slapper no one on the set recognized, apparently.

The new “Turn” offers a beefier budget, and better makeup FX, than the last few installments. It’s a welcome change, as is Modine’s steady presence. If you’re wondering why the veteran actor is wallowing in his dreck, note his daughter sings the movie’s key track (and does so quite well).

Horror fans can savor a few grisly sights, but the film never feels committed to the task. “Wrong Turn” movies typically revel in the gross-out moments. Once again, why tinker with a formula beyond recognition?

A more important question — why bother rebooting “Wrong Turn” in the first place? It’s all about the IP, the name recognition.

How cynical can you get?

Hollywood is officially out of both ideas and verve. Excising the series’ bloody soul renders the reboot meaningless.

HiT or Miss: “Wrong Turn” wastes Matthew Modine and the underrated franchise’s raison d’etre for a chance to tell a tepid, all-too-familiar yarn.

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Earnest ‘No Man’s Land’ Avoids Open Border Lectures

January 21, 2021
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Most Hollywood fare tackling immigration follow the same playbook.

Open borders good. Law and order bad.

We’ve seen it in TV shows, documentaries and feature films of late, and it’s likely to continue deep into President Joe Biden’s administration.

“No Man’s Land” provides a different perspective. The drama shows the calamitous effects of illegal border crossings as well as the hardships Mexican immigrants endure en route to the U.S. That’s refreshing, yet “No Man’s Land” lacks the dramatic urgency a tale of its kind demands.

The Greer family owns a ranch along the Texas-Mexico border, and the latest incursion by illegal immigrants rocks their wobbly finances. Some Greer cattle ran off after the immigrants broke the ranch’s fencing, setting the family back thousands.

So Papa Greer (Frank Grillo) and his teen sons set off to Mexico to bring their steer back. They run into a group of illegal immigrants, and gunfire erupts after one of the immigrants attacks the family with a knife. A Mexican boy is killed and one of the teen Greers is critically wounded.

Jackson Greer (Jake Allyn) fired the shot that hit the Mexican lad, but Grillo’s patriarch tells the police he accidentally killed the boy. Jackson, consumed by grief and confusion, flees deep into Mexico after a local sheriff (an effective George Lopez) suspects the truth behind the lie.

One reason “No Man’s Land” lacks emotional heft is the way it clings to, and yet avoids, the progressive narrative on immigration. We’re meant to watch Jackson connect with Mexican people, and their culture, and see him push past his prejudices.

Bigot Sees the Light.

It’s a reasonable, if cliched, narrative echoing modern Hollywood tropes.

Yet Jackson is no bigot, nor is his family. Sure, they resent the immigrants streaming onto their property and wrecking havoc on their ranch and livelihood.

Wouldn’t you?

They aren’t anti-Mexican or racist, at least not shown here. In fact, an early scene shows Jackson allowing a young illegal immigrant to escape, a powerful act of kindness.

So where’s the character arc?

RELATED: Hollywood Doubles Down on Open Borders Propaganda

Even Jackson’s brother (Alex MacNicoll) has sympathy for the illegals streaming into the country. He gently explains to Jackson how “hunger” can make someone risk everything, even their lives.

Sound hateful to you? 

That leaves us with two unfolding stories. Jackson meets a series of Mexicans during his impromptu journey — some warm and welcoming, others far less so. Once again “No Man’s Land” avoids saintly stereotypes.

The other story involves Jorge A. Jimenez as Gustavo, the father of the slain boy. Gustavo vows to make Jackson pay for his crime. The father is joined by Luis (Andres Delgado), a stock movie villain who nonetheless breathes energy into every scene he’s in.

That subplot awkwardly interrupts the main story, demanding silly plot contrivances to keep it going. Far better is seeing Jackson, a pitching prospect with a Yankees tryout looming, find his creature comforts erased throughout his journey.

“No Man’s Land” is a family affair, directed by Conor Allyn and starring brother Jake Allyn, who co-wrote the script. The Texas natives bring some welcome specificity to the story, particularly with the Greer family early in the film.

The Mexican clan gets less details, but the story allows for the full spectrum of their grief in a way many movies avoid. 

Immigration stories demand both empathy and balance, something the Allyns deliver over and again with their film, despite its flaws.

HiT or Miss: “No Man’s Land” is earnest to a fault, but its willingness to air both sides of the immigration debate isn’t enough to recommend it.

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The Big Tech War for Hearts and Minds

January 20, 2021
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The digital purge has formally began, and if you don’t align with homogenous Leftist orthodoxy — well, good luck.

People across the country are being de-platformed by Twitter. Not shockingly, it’s conservatives who bear the brunt of the cyber purge. Worse, one doesn’t have to have advocated or supported the outlandish riots in the Capitol on Jan. 6 — or even be a Trump supporter — to suffer the consequences. Merely un-abiding by the scathing speech violations, and terms and conditions, that hipster-commie Jack Dorsey favors on his anti-First Amendment safe space is enough.

According to Twitter’s Jan. 8 press release, the cleansing happened because the platform “regularly challenge[s] accounts to confirm details like email and phone number.”

To clear up confusion about fluctuations in follower counts:

In order to prevent spam, we regularly challenge accounts to confirm details like email and phone number. Until that info is confirmed, these accounts aren’t included in follower counts. https://t.co/8BYcBCmxxA

— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) January 9, 2021

Let’s think for a second.

What are the odds that strictly conservative account owners are those who haven’t confirmed those details? It seems highly improbable that this vague rationalization would not apply to people of all ideologies, as this is a non-partisan issue.

We can’t pretend we’re unaware why this is all happening.

In our hyper-polarized climate, the Left ascertains one foundational truth. If they can control what people see on the Internet, effectively through the powerful vessels run by Dorsey, Zuckerberg, Bezos and others, they know they can control the hearts and minds of the American people.

Xi Jinping and the vile People’s Republic of China regime knows this too, as did their predecessor in Mao Zedong. If the information pipelines are snatched, if there’s nowhere for the individual man to participate in discourse, it will be darn near impossible to overthrow such tyranny. We know this from realizing the barriers citizens across the world in authoritarian regimes have overcome.

It wasn’t enough for the Left to begin booting conservatives off Twitter. On Jan. 10, Apple announced it will no longer allow Twitter competitor, and free-speech platform, Parler to be downloaded on its store (following suit from Google’s decision prior).

Amazon has already disallowed Parler from its web servers, as the website scrambles to rebuild.

“It’s devastating,” CEO John Matze said. “Every vendor, from text-message services to email providers to our lawyers all ditched us, too, on the same day. They’re trying to falsely claim that we were somehow responsible for the events,” referring to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Given what Big Tech has said to Matze, it becomes even more tantamount why conservatives are being purged from the internet. Rethinking history is one key.

September 11, 2001 is a day Americans will never forget. Nearly 3,000 people were killed and 6,000 were injured. This is a tragedy that must always be revisited.

But from 9/11, the U.S. government justified a whole swath of policies that infringed upon the negative rights of Americans. Namely, FBI intelligence efforts ramped up and vague justification was made to track people.

While what happened at the Capitol on Jan. 6 does not remotely compare in terms of graveness — the implication is key. The Left is using this riot, unlawful and immoral as it was, to justify their increasingly harsh crackdowns on the Right.

And they are ignoring the fact that it was a sectarian mob of Trump-supporters, not in fact remotely all of the right that caused this disturbance. But according to the virtuous blue-check marks on Twitter, now that Joe Biden will take office, it is time to enact change.

Radical change.

RELATED: Big Tech Is Crushing Conservative Comedy

The glaring commonality with the Left’s synthesis of this phenomenon is that they do not care — so as long as all conservatives face the repercussions for a small, impassioned minority. This sort of generalized approach by Twitter directly goes against American values.

So where do we go from here?

With businesses apt to inevitably cease transactions with those that have ties to the Right, this is all disturbing. This is precisely why conservatives must coordinate amongst themselves to solve their own problems, to build their own self-reliant platforms.

We need people on our side who will fight for us, who will let our voices be heard and who will not subject us to third-party providers who reject free speech and for those who honor it.

Commentator and Daily Wire Podcast host Candace Owens has proposed a viable solution to Elon Musk.

@elonmusk the future is yours if you want to do it. Tech creators are now being told they have to censor millions and millions of people—including a sitting President— if they want to exist in the Apple and Google store.
We hate both of these companies.

Give us an alternative.

— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) January 10, 2021

Owens is spot-on.

Whether it be the free-thinking Musk, or another not fully compromised entrepreneur, there is a gaping hole in the market. Whoever wishes to fill this hole might reap the rewards of half the American people.

————————

Gabe Kaminsky — @Gabe__Kaminsky — is a spring intern at The Federalist, and an Academy participant at The Heritage Foundation. His writing has appeared in Townhall.com, The Daily Wire, The Washington Times, The American Conservative, RealClearPolitics, Washington Examiner, and several other outlets.

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Chrissie Mayr: NY Comics Making a ‘List’ of Pro-Trump Stand-Ups

January 13, 2021
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Chrissie Mayr knew the media fix was in long before the Jan. 6 rally that descended into chaos last week.

The podcaster and stand-up comic figured the press would downplay the crowd’s size by covering its earliest stages to minimize Trump’s support.

“Oh, look there are 40 people there. It’s a non-event,” says Mayr, who attended the protest as a citizen journalist. “It’ll show the people at home [who support Trump] you’re alone in your feelings and show people on the Left that this is not a thing.”

When a small fraction of the protesters violently invaded the Capitol building, resulting in the death of five people, the media quickly changed its approach.

“We’ll take this and run with it, use it to our advantage to make [all Trump supporters] look terrible,” she says. “Violence is never good, never justified, whether it comes from the left or the right.”

It’s the latter point that can’t be ignored, she says, from the protracted violence tied to Antifa and Black Lives Matter to Democratic politicians who cheered on the mayhem.

Mayr says she didn’t even know the Trump rally turned ugly until after she returned to her hotel room and turned on the news.

“The WiFi was out Wednesday. It was hard to post in real time, hard to see what was going on,” she explains of her vantage point on the north side of the Capitol building. The disastrous turn of events didn’t come as a complete shock, though.

“You can’t tell people all summer long that protests are supposed to make people feel uncomfortable,” she says. “Everyone logs that in their brain.” Add the media’s warped take on Trump’s base, she adds, and you had a recipe for trouble.

“75 million people are being told over and again their reality isn’t real, that they’re in a cult,” she says.

RELATED: Even More Proof Cancel Culture Is a Fraud

Mayr explores topics like the protest and the rising attacks on free speech via her self-titled podcast. Her right-of-center perspective is both rare and unwelcome in comedy circles today, but she isn’t ready to clam up.

Her ideological opponents want just that, though.

She’s been hammered on social media by fellow comedians eager to single her out for supporting Trump. Some want her silenced, or at least unable to find work once live comedy returns.

“We need to make a list of all the comics we know who were at the rally … and make sure we never book these people again,” she says of some of the social media messaging she saw after the riot. It’s not much different than what she experienced last year, partly due to the aggressive nature of her comedy.

“This seems to happen to me every few months,” she says. “I make a video or put out a tweet … and they make it about them.”

She didn’t start her comedy career in such a pugnacious way.

RELATED: What Is Cancel Culture, And Why Should Artists Fear It

Mayr was a registered Democrat and “card-carrying feminist, hating men, doing all the right things,” she jokes. Slowly her sense of humor “matured,” she says, and she began exploring politically incorrect topics on stage.

“Comedy can’t be woke,” she says, noting some comedy club patrons arrive at events with their arms folded, ready “not to laugh.”

She says politics routinely invades the stand-up ecosystem, particularly behind the scenes.

“With comedy there’s this kind of hierarchy. You do it for a few years, you know whose [butt] to kiss. You know who the bookers are,” she says.

Comics also learn what to say in order to stay in the latter group’s good graces.

“You can’t say anything [this booker] wouldn’t agree with,” she says. “It’s just like Hollywood, a liberal, woke echo chamber – ‘look at me, look at me, I’m saying the right things.’”

Mayr leans on the recent book, “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” by Jon Ronson to process what she endures for bucking the comedic tide.

“It helped me understand the psychology of shaming. We don’t have a public square to tar and feather anyone any more,” she says.

Liberals may be swift to call Mayr out, but she’s not so easily defined. She proudly recalls producing “Comedy at Stonewall,” a monthly showcase at New York’s Stonewall Inn that featured new and established gay stand-ups.

“It was so damn good … I put my own money into advertising. I dealt with so much s*** from the booker of the venue,” she says of the show, which ran for six years. “I love the gays, but I hate that I have to say that.”

Mayr also hosts “The Wet Spot” on Compound Media, the independent company run by former radio superstar Anthony Cumia. Both that show and her own podcast deal with sexual material in ways that don’t align with part of the conservative movement.

“Everyone is definitely not cool with it,” says Mayr, who wants the show to evoke the “old school Howard Sternstyle of programming.

The pandemic coaxed her to lean into the podcasting space, allowing her to interview unconventional guests other shows might avoid. She recalls interviewing Buck Angel, a trans man who doesn’t adhere to the core philosophies of the movement, as one of her favorite guests.

Mayr, who will be headlining at the Hyenas Comedy Club in Dallas Feb. 19-20, says liberal comedians shouldn’t be cheering on the rise of censorship.

“If free speech isn’t important to you, you should really … do something else with your life other than being comedian,” she says, fearing more of her fellow comics will have to feel Cancel Culture’s wrath before we see a cultural shift. “It’s gonna take a lot of people being silenced for them to see the importance of the First Amendment.”

You’re the crazy girlfriend who calls her bf crazy before breaking all the dishes while screaming https://t.co/xtyXhOojK1

— Chrissie Mayr🕳🐇 (@ChrissieMayr) January 13, 2021

She holds particular anger for Stephen Colbert, the far-left host of “The Late Show.”

“He’s such a shill. It’s gross. There’s no independent thought or creativity coming out of these people any more,” she says.

Colbert’s current state of mind, she argues, is a byproduct of fame. “You do so well. You get so much money, fame and fortune. It lifts you up and you have the luxury of being out of touch,” she says. That became clear early in the pandemic when A-listers like Gal Gadot warbled “Imagine” from their palatial homes.

“The bubble has been popped on celebrity,” she says. “We have these new figures coming up that we trust. They’re down here, with us, [like] Tim Pool. He doesn’t come off that way … he’s not being, ‘wink-wink, look at how great my life is.’”

Mayr battles Cancel Culture on a regular basis, but she has no appetite for returning fire on her liberal peers.

“I would never deny your right to perform or try to keep you from getting work. Find the people who love you and keep getting better,” she advises fellow comics, regardless of ideology. “I can’t imagine standing in somebody’s way.”

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Woke Screen Rant Bullies, Tries to Deplatform Gina Carano

January 12, 2021
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The film blogosphere can’t get enough of Gina Carano. That’s not a good thing for “The Mandalorian” star.

Carano, an MMA fighter turned actress, appears to lean to the right, politically speaking. She’s questioned the accuracy of the recent election vote totals, refused to follow the trans community groupthink and spoke out for free speech.

Here’s one Carano commentary her critics cite as proof she should be removed from “The Mandalorian.”

“We need to clean up the election process so we are not left feeling the way we do today. Put laws in place that protect us against voter fraud. Investigate every state. Film the counting. Flush out the fake votes. Require ID. Make Voter Fraud end in 2020. Fix the system.”

The comments drip with common sense, even if you think Voter ID laws aren’t the solution.

Her “anti-mask” comments were actually a call to arms for citizens to be wary of government overreach.

“Democratic Government Leaders now recommends [sic] we all wear blindfolds along with masks so we can’t see what’s really going on.”

It’s worth noting Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York shut down restaurants despite only 1.4 percent of COVID-19 cases were connected to restaurant visits. On the other coast, Gov. Gavin Newsom shuttered outdoor dining while the L.A. Department of Public Health admitted the move wasn’t based on hard science.

Meanwhile, a gaggle of lockdown politicians are shattering their own rules without consequence.

For that she’s become regular fodder for small-to-mid-sized movie sites eager to seize on controversy for clicks. And, potentially, make sure she isn’t part of any new “Mandalorian” installments.

Screen Rant is far bigger than most of its competition. So when the site turned on Carano recently it mattered. It did so as part of the Big Tech Purge, the effort to silence right-of-center Americans in the wake of the Capitol riots.

RELATED: Seven Reasons the Fire Gina Carano Hashtag Matters

First, the site generically listed Carano’s “sins,” a vague recap without context or specifics. There’s a good reason for it … the actual quotes aren’t as damning as the author wants you to believe.

That’s called, “gaslighting.”

Next, the site breathlessly reported that the actress won’t be apologizing or backing down anytime soon. We went from “She persisted” to “shut up and/or apologize” at warp speed on the Left, no?

Next, Screen Rant went for the jugular … it’s time to shut her down.

Not only that, but some believe [emphasis added] Carano’s statements could have had the power to do actionable harm. The recent attempted coup in Washington, D.C. illustrates how online comments can encourage violent behavior. And by discouraging her followers from wearing masks, Carano could potentially put them at risk of contracting a life-threatening disease. Even her jokes about the trans community could be seen as promoting negative stereotypes about a minority group. Despite all of this, Carano has not apologized and is still part of the cast of The Mandalorian.

Nice little TV role you have there, Missy. Would be a shame if our cyber campaign made it come to a crashing halt.

Of course, if Carano shared progressive talking points on social media, even ones with violent rhetoric, Screen Rant would be standing down right now.

Like every other entertainment news site, Screen Rant lets the most unhinged celebrities slide when they share hate online. Quick, show us the Screen Rant editorial blasting Mark Hamill for attacking First Daughter Ivanka Trump and her family when she cursed out her clan for daring to heart “Star Wars.”

What about when geek god Joss Whedon weaponized cancer-stricken teens against Rep. Paul Ryan?

We’ll wait.

Stars have done, and said, far far worse and Screen Rant stands down like every other web site. And we all know why.

One of Screen Rant’s readers said the obvious in the comments section:

You are really desperate to cancel Gina Carano, aren´t you? Keep trying, and keep crying.

The sentiment is refreshing, but given how the Woke Mob runs both Hollywood and much of American culture, Carano’s days on “The Mandalorian” could soon be over.

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Baldwin’s Latest Digital Hate Fest Shows Big Tech Hypocrisy (Again)

January 12, 2021
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While conservatives across the country are booted from Twitter for ambiguous hate-speech policies — apparently the same rules are not in place for the rich, famous and liberal.

On Jan. 6, far-left actor Alec Baldwin advocated for a violent attack on an American with whom he disagrees.

Put Ted Cruz in the stocks and throw rotten fruit and buckets of horse piss at him.
Then ride him on a rail.
Then tar and feather him.
And film it.
For Netflix.

— AlecBaldwin(HABF) (@AlecBaldwin) January 7, 2021

Twitter has yet to suspend or delete Baldwin’s profile, let alone strike down the rancid Tweet. Of course, we know why this is the case. There’s one set of rules for those vile, racist conservatives, and another for the Leftist elites.

It’s one reason Hilaria Baldwin can spend years as the queen of cultural appropriation and the media essentially shrugged.

RELATED: Hollywood Hate Goes Unpunished … Again

For days now, Twitter has been purging Republicans accounts from its platform. While it was a sectarian mob who stormed the capitol — in un-American fashion — social media giants have used this event to further crackdown on free speech.

If this were true, wouldn’t all of the followers in question disappear at once and slowly return as people confirmed their contact details rather than disappear slowly and steadily from exclusively conservative accounts? https://t.co/vvTlIaZgQy

— Michael Knowles (@michaeljknowles) January 10, 2021

This will be my final post on this anti-American platform. The greatest threats to liberty are the destructive tech tyrants who have acted as publishers in their ongoing wars on conservatives & free speech.
You can find me on Parler, where we respect free speech. I’m “dbongino.”

— Dan Bongino (@dbongino) January 8, 2021

Dang @jack this is a heck of haircut of followers I’m getting. Lots of folks complaining as the purge seems vindictive and politically motivated.

I don’t mind you jettisoning bots but they have free reign. Can you give me something I can share with others expressing concern?

— Charles V Payne (@cvpayne) January 8, 2021

Meanwhile, the Left continues to preach on college campuses and beyond that speech equals violence. Thus, those on the Right can be flagged for sharing “hate speech.” But when a left-wing figure such as Baldwin literally demands violence — it’s all fine and well.

Why is this?

It’s important to consider what’s happening to Parler, a Twitter-like platform dedicated to free speech. As of Jan. 10, Apple pulled the free-speech Twitter alternative from its App Store shortly after Google did the same. Amazon stopped hosting the platform’s web server, claiming that there are many ‘incitements’ of violence.

Notwithstanding the fact that Baldwin and other liberals routinely call for actual violence on Republicans (lest we forget Kathy Griffin’s photograph of a severed President Trump) — where was Big Tech this summer?

While Antifa rioted month after month in major U.S. cities — and the Left either defended, ignored or cheered them on — Twitter couldn’t care less. It was all encouraged or accepted in the sanctified name of social justice. (My aunt’s store in Philadelphia got looted two nights in a row. She lost all her product, but at least it was for a noble and just cause).

RELATED: Ode to Minneapolis Book Store Burned by BLM Riots

This is nothing new from Baldwin. It’s still appalling the degree to which our institutions have been corrupted by a sort of 21st century Cultural Revolution. By booting conservatives from Twitter, and shutting down Parler, where will those on the Right gather on the digital space?

If the Left truly seeks unity, such as President-elect Joe Biden requests, why are they putting a muzzle on roughly half the country’s mouths while letting liberals run wild?

Where is the unity, let alone consistency?

And why can unhinged celebrities like Baldwin virtue-signal about murdering those in the GOP — while those in the GOP, and conservatives everywhere, are led like sheep by the media elites?

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Inquisitions and Heroes, Then and Now

January 10, 2021
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The Spanish Inquisition ended in 1834. Its junior partner in crime, the Portuguese Inquisition, finished in 1821. So should we still be interested in Inquisitions today?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes. There is too much evidence that the ugly spirit of the Inquisition lives on.

Today’s cancel culture comes down hard on those it views as heretics—so hard, in fact, that I suspect Torquemada, from his own special corner in hell, is smiling in admiration of its power and fury.

For example, if someone were to make the heretical claim that “All Lives Matter,” they could lose their livelihood (Grant Napear, Leslie Neal-Boylan, a ‘handful’ of Cisco employees on July 17, 2020). Or if someone were to support President Trump openly, wherever they chose, they might lose their livelihoods or, in the most extreme cases, their lives with little outrage (Bernell Trammell, Aaron Danielson, Ashli Babbitt).

Other heresies worthy of lesser punishments include refusing to support kneeling during the national anthem (Drew Brees) and insistence that genetic/biologic sexual status has meaning (J. K. Rowling).

Just from the few examples above, it’s clear that opposing the theology (you should pardon the expression) of secular leftists is a dangerous endeavor. But to preserve our personal integrity and human dignity, on occasion it must be done.

When such times of trial arise, it’s worthwhile to remember those who faced down prior Inquisitions. Those heroes from the past can provide encouragement and inspiration during our own moments of crisis and keep us on a difficult but necessary moral path.

That’s why I believe my recently published historical novels about the 16th century Portuguese Inquisition are relevant and timely for modern readers.

My interest in the history of the Iberian Inquisitions began almost 50 years ago when, as a teenager, I was looking through my father’s rabbinic library and came across a book by Cecil Roth, “A History of the Marranos.” Its account of one heroic Marrano, Diego Lopes, struck me as particularly remarkable. After refusing final offers of mercy and boldly declaring his commitment to his faith, Diego Lopes was chained to a stake at his auto da fé and the pyre was lit.

Then, in front of thousands of astonished spectators, he vanished.

There was no dispute at the time about his actual disappearance. The only point of controversy was whether he was taken body and soul directly to hell because of his terrible heresy (the view favored by the Inquisitors) or whether he was taken to heaven because he was so noble (the view favored by the Marranos).

RELATED: More Proof Cancel Culture Is a Fraud

I never forgot that story.

Nearly half a century later, when I came across Miriam Bodian’s book, “Dying in the Law of Moses,” I was particularly intrigued when she described going through the archives of the Inquisition in Portugal and finding Diego Lopes’ original trial transcripts.

I was eager to learn how the Inquisitors recorded the dénouement of his auto da fé. I was surprised when Professor Bodian wrote that this final part of the transcript was missing.

I’m not big on coincidences and I began to wonder if this wasn’t evidence of a coverup of an incident that the Inquisition felt was best forgotten. That led me to do more research and to discover another unsung hero of the resistance to the Portuguese Inquisition—Father Antonio Vieira.

He was a devout Jesuit who was so open in his opposition to the Inquisition that he was imprisoned by the Holy Office for three years. Nevertheless, he boldly composed a two hundred page report detailing the corruption and cruelty of the Portuguese Inquisition and presented it to Pope Innocent XI. His report was so compelling that the Vatican’s response was to suspend the Portuguese Inquisition for seven years, from 1674 to 1681.

So I had learned about two incredible, but historically verified, opponents of the Portuguese Inquisition. One was a Jew who defied the Inquisition’s terrors and marched defiantly to the quemadero (the place of burning) where he was supposed to meet a martyr’s death.

The other was a devout Catholic priest who voluntarily placed himself in the cross hairs of the Inquisition because he was morally opposed to the political correctness of his day.

That lead me to write “Acts of Faith,” a historical novel depicting how Jews and Christians worked together to beat the Portuguese Inquisition. Soon after that, I completed the sequel, “Acts of Hope,” where this Judeo-Christian band of rebels raised the stakes in their fight against the Holy Office.

Saving one man from burning to death was no longer enough for them. They decided to risk everything they had to end all Inquisitions, everywhere.

The final hero I must mention, one from the 20th century, is Aristides de Sousa Mendes. He was a Portuguese diplomat who, because of his devout Christian faith, defied his government and gave thousands of life-saving visas to refugees from Hitler’s Nazis.

At his trial in Portugal for his refusal to bow to the political correctness of his day, he declared, “I would rather stand with God and against man, than with man and against God.” The Portuguese government convicted him of insubordination and punished him severely. As a token of homage to his courage and sacrifice, I dedicated “Acts of Faith” to his memory and gave the Jesuit hero in my books the name Aristides.

Historical fiction is a wonderful way to make heroes of the past come alive for modern audiences. And in these days, when the arbiters of political correctness are so fierce and full of hate—so much like the Inquisitors of old—I think it is good to rekindle the memories of the great people who resisted the Holy Office.

Recalling their refusal to bow their heads or bend their knees before the vicious authoritarians of their day, can help strengthen our resolve when we encounter the cultural tyrants of our time. That’s why I think the years I have spent researching and writing “Acts of Faith” and “Acts of Hope” were well spent.

——————————————

Martin Elsant is a retired radiologist currently living in Jerusalem, Israel. He’s always had an interest in Jewish history and now, in between grandchildren visits, has the time to indulge it. His “Acts of Faith” and “Acts of Hope” are now available on Amazon.com. The concluding volume of Elsant’s Inquisition Trilogy, “Acts of Dreams,” will be published this spring.

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LA Times: Netflix’s ‘Cobra Kai’ Is Too White

January 9, 2021
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The L.A. Times served up a sweet ode to Netflix’s “Cobra Kai” before pulling out the long knives.

The feature story let stars Ralph Macchio and William Zabka, along with the creative team behind the series, break down how they continued the “Karate Kid” story for a new generation.

The article shares how the show summons the spirit of the original franchise but takes it in fresh new directions, including a pivotal role for a Latino teen (Xolo Maridueña), essentially the “new” Karate Kid. It’s a clear hit on Netflix, the streamer that scooped the series up from its original home on YouTube.

The article hits the brakes abruptly with the following paragraph:

Kreese’s elevation, and the heightened scrutiny that comes with being embraced by one of the most powerful companies in Hollywood, also underscores the fact that there are now three white men at the center of “Cobra Kai,” a franchise rooted in and deeply indebted to Eastern tradition. Morita, who earned an Academy Award nomination for his performance in the first film and died in 2005, appears in flashbacks in the series, and both Yuji Okumoto and Tamlyn Tomita reprise their roles — as Daniel’s rival and ex-flame, respectively — from “Part II” in Season 3 guest arcs. Supporting characters of color also saw expanded roles in the new season. But after 30 episodes on two platforms, “Cobra Kai” has yet to cast an Asian lead.

The article, also published at the far-left Yahoo News, dismisses the diverse cast, the addition of Asian characters and the complex themes ushered in by the reboot.

It lacks an Asian lead, and the creators are all white, so therefore it’s problematic. And the article sites other far-left journalists slamming the series on similar grounds.

RELATED: Why Oscar’s New Diversity Mandates Spell Trouble for Artistic Freedom

This isn’t Refinery29 or some other uber-woke platform. It’s the L.A. Times pearl clutching that a series focused on two characters from a beloved franchise are still the same color they were 36-odd years ago.

The show’s artistic merits, nostalgia-fueled narratives and overall excellence aren’t as important as checking all the necessary boxes on the Diversity Meter.

One of the show’s creators, Josh Heald, spells out the obvious in “Cobra Kai’s” defense.

“We would have loved if there was a Miyagi son or daughter that was floating around in the lineage and the canon of the movie to play with,” said Heald. “But we inherited the story that felt like the natural continuation, where for better or worse you are dealing with Johnny and Daniel as your protagonists.”

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The Secret Behind ‘Crocodile Dundee’s’ Shocking Success

January 8, 2021
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One movie can make an unknown comic a star.

That’s always been true, but the maxim got a workout in 1986. Aussie comic Paul Hogan, who starred in a Benny Hill-esque show but had little name recognition stateside, crashed America’s box office with “Crocodile Dundee.”

Hogan stars as Mick Dundee, an Australian who wows, then woos, a reporter (Linda Kozlowski) while visiting the Big Apple for the first time. 

The character, loosely based on an Australian hunter who survived seven weeks in the wild, became an instant sensation. The film spawned catch phrases like, “That’s not a knife…” and led to a decades-long marriage between the leads.

The film also earned $174 million at the U.S. box office, a feat modern comedies can’t come near. “Dundee” proved an even bigger hit back home, where it shattered existing box office records.

Not bad for a low-budget, fish-out-of-water romp.

A quick rewind of the comedy reminds us how very different movies are today. The comedy moves at a much slower pace, for starters. Audiences can luxuriate in the Australian outback and meet some of the region’s curious characters before moving on to the signature set pieces.

The New York part of the story got all the attention, but it takes a good 45 minutes before the main characters return to the states.

And then there’s Mick himself, the ultimate, unapologetic Alpha Male. He cracks wise with his mates, flirts at will and can handle himself in any situation. You can practically hear Kozlowski swoon when he saves her from a hungry croc.

That’s not the only time she falls for his alpha charms.

Her passion for steady beau Richard (Mark Blum) fades when she sees the two men stand side by side. Sure, Richard has more wealth, knowledge and sophistication, but he uses it to bully Mick at the first opportunity.

Mick realizes Richard is a romantic rival, but he’s willing to treat him with respect … until he shows his true nature and gets a sock in the jaw for his troubles.

Reagan-era audiences lapped up Mick’s masculine mojo, hoping Sue would ultimately pick the best mate. And she did in a very funny finale set in a New York City subway station. If only more rom-coms could end on such a high note.

Alan Alda’s beta male brand had a following in the 1980s, but so did the strong, sometime silent types.

FAST FACT: The franchise sequels failed to measure up to the original movie’s success. 1988’s “Crocodile Dundee II” earned $109 million while the 2001 “Crocodile Dundee in L.A.” stumbled with a $25 million haul.

One unsung part of the film’s cultural triumph? The score, written by Australian composer Peter Best. The musician, who also scored the sequel as well as “Muriel’s Wedding,” amplifies the rugged beauty of the Outback while doubling down on the film’s romantic beats.

“Crocodile Dundee” wouldn’t bring the magic it does without it.

Naturally, the PC police went after “Crocodile Dundee” in recent times. The Guardian slammed the franchise as “sexist, racist and homophobic.

Why?

In one scene from the 1986 original Mick inadvertently flirts with a trans person thinking the character is a “Shelia.” Mick impulsively grabs the person’s crotch to learn the truth, feeling deceived by the results.

It’s a crude act, but the character’s crudeness is part of his culture.

Nor should Mick be judged by that one ignorant act, something a few cultural critics eagerly do with zero empathy for his cultural confusion.

RELATED: Jonah Hill Apologizes for ‘Superbad’s’ Toxic Masculinity

“Crocodile Dundee” remains a delight, an example of ’80s era storytelling that’s as accessible now as it was then. The film might be slammed as “toxic masculinity” on steroids had it hit theaters today, assuming the same story could be told at all.

Eighties audiences, unaware of the future term, cheered its charismatic hero.

Hogan shot two “Crocodile” sequels as well as the recent meta comedy, “The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee.” All banked on the character’s curious charms, and none approached the glory of the original. Even Hogan’s non-“Dundee” films, including “Almost an Angel,” failed to connect with audiences.

The 1986 Mick Dundee proved an impossible act to follow.

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Comic Michael Loftus: ‘I’m Getting Clobbered on Social Media’

January 7, 2021
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Comedian Michael Loftus didn’t lock down as long as many stand-ups did last year.

The right-leaning comic returned to the stage weeks after the pandemic hit the states. He also kept on writing, recording his “Loftus Party” podcast and dodging social media censors.

The latter proved only partially successful.

Parts of the country remain locked down, but Fox Nation subscribers can still sample Loftus’ latest freedom-friendly yuks. “Michael Loftus Live from Nashville” is now streaming on the service, giving conservatives a chance to hear jokes told outside comedy’s hard-left bubble.

HiT reached out to Loftus to find out more about the special, the ways social media is stifling his voice and how comedians will react to a Biden-Harris administration.

HiT: It sounds like you’re dipping your toe back into live comedy … can you share how that’s gone so far and if the crowd reaction is different now in any way?

Loftus: I started doing shows back in May. Was maybe the first comic to do show during the pandemic. Performed at the Addison Texas Improv. I was fantastic! Audience was smaller due to COVID restrictions, but we sold every seat by the weekend. And the people who came out were amazing. Some of the best crowds I’ve ever performed for. People still want to have a good time and laugh.

I had been in New York for March and April. Very scary vibe. Then I showed up in Texas and they were ready to rock ‘n’ roll. Completely different mind set. Much closer to ‘normal.’ Just a good vibe all the way around.

HiT: The lockdowns have been horrible, of course. Have there been any creative benefits from all this down time for you?

Loftus: Yes. Big time. I think there’s going to be huge wave of content that was inspired by all this time along. Not only are people finishing projects like screenplays and novels, but everyone has taken a step back from ‘normal.’

Usually that’s an area where only artists hang out. Now tons of people are looking at life a from a different point of view. And for the rest of us? It’s just making us weirder.. which is great! A different ‘different’ angle.

HiT: Big Tech has not been kind to right-of-center comics and commentary. Have you had any issues or heard of fellow comics struggling to get their message, and jokes, out?

Loftus: I’m getting clobbered on social media. It’s almost a game now. I call it, “how many will I lose today?” It’s been a steady flow of gain 100 followers and lose 99. Across the board. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube … all the same. So I find myself trying to work within the confines of ‘acceptable posts’. While trying to push the envelope at the same time.

Kind of like the old comedy writers in the 1950s. You KNOW the censors are there… now what can can you get away with? Is it self censorship? Yes. That’s bad. But I have to try and frame it as a game or I’d go bonkers.

RELATED: Michael Loftus on Cancel Culture: ‘We Just Started Fighting Back’ 

I’ve also set up accounts on lots of new platforms just in case big brother decides to just completely squash me. Let’s just say its challenging to make fun of hypocrites now. Very challenging. So I’m on Clouthub, Rumble and Parler, too.

Just in case.

HiT: Do you get any support from left-leaning comics who don’t want conservative comics to be silenced … or do they generally stay mum?

Loftus: I haven’t heard a peep. Not a peep from my comedy pals about censorship. Maybe comics are so self centered they don’t care because it’s not happening to them? I don’t know. We are pretty self centered. But the time to scream and yell is now. Before it gets worse. And I think it will.

HiT: You jump right in with Chinese flu jokes on your special. Are you surprised that so many power brokers (politicians, the media) insist we don’t make that connection?

Loftus: Ha! I’m constantly amazed that more people aren’t upset with China. That’s the crazy part for me. It’d be like people not being upset with Japan for Pearl Harbor. This whole COVID thing was politicized right out of the gate. It’s as if they want people to think Trump invented it. Be mad at Trump America. Like he was messing around with a chemistry set one night and broke a vial of new flu. It’s crazy.

Can you be upset with the response? Ok. Fine. But we all need to come to an agreement this thing came out of China. They screwed up. Sorry, that’s where this came from.

HiT: The Trump era, in many ways, was tough for comics. He was larger than life, and the comic narratives were obvious and repetitive. What will you miss from the era, though, from a comic point of view?

Loftus: Yes and no. Trump made things a lot better across the board. His big personality is great! But the level of awareness about media bias is off the chart now. It’s fantastic. For years people would pretend that legacy media and journalists were ‘fair’ now that game is over. The mask is off.

That’s a great thing.

I have a feeling Trump will still dominate the news. They certainly won’t give Biden the Trump treatment. I look forward to skewering the media and the Dems more than ever.

 

HiT: It looks as though we’ll soon have a Biden/Harris administration. How do you view that change as a comedian, and how do you predict your fellow comics will process the shift?

Loftus: Tons of comics will miss Trump. Look out for TONS of those bits… ‘Joe Biden did blah blah… I miss Trump. Trump would’ve blah, blah’ there will be a s*** ton of comics doing variations on that theme. Lots of comics will be wary of going after Biden and Harris. Afraid of cancel culture. That’s cool. More jokes for me!

HiT: Any comic predictions for 2021 — jokes that will trend, topics that will dominate or themes will soon be sick of?

Loftus: Not sure what to really be on the lookout for other than some kind of over the top Mel Brooks/ Don Rickles comedy. Someone will do that. Just go out guns a-blazing. Stereotypes left and right. Super offensive and just owning it. I can’t believe it hasn’t happened already. Some new version of the Dice Man.

The post Comic Michael Loftus: ‘I’m Getting Clobbered on Social Media’ appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

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Second Opinion: A Semi-Defense of ‘Wonder Woman 1984’

January 5, 2021
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As the resident Conservative Who Doesn’t Care About Left-Wing Overtones In Movies And Doesn’t Think You Should, Either, I’m here to say “Wonder Woman 1984” is, hold your breath… just fine.

Exhale.

If you go into the movie, as I did, with modest expectations and not looking for stuff to get mad at, you’ll likely have those expectations met. If you go into it, as many conservatives on Twitter and elsewhere have, there’s plenty to get mad at.

You’d be wasting your energy, though.

I watched it about 13 seconds after it went live on HBO Max with my three teenaged sons on Christmas Day and they loved it. This may not seem like much, but my eldest boy is a committed leftist who likes to spike the ball in my face every time a conservative icon gets lampooned in mainstream media.

There was no ball-spiking during the entirety of the (admittedly bloated) 150-plus minute running time.

My middle son is gay and spent most of his time declaring every scene in which Kristen Wiig’s Cheetah appeared as “iconic,” and my youngest is an avid NFL and NBA buff who couldn’t care less about Wonder Woman, but he dug this movie.

In the interests of full disclosure; we are a committed Marvel family and have seen all 23 MCU films in the theater on opening night. Sometimes before opening night. They’re as much a part of our familial bond as birthday parties and Christmas mornings.

The DC flicks… not so much.

Which is all to say; Wonder Woman isn’t as important to us as, say, Iron Man. Watching it in the comfort of my living room and not shelling out $100 at the theater also likely colors my view, but here we are.

But what about the movie? you might ask.

As superhero sequels go, it’s … just fine. The overstuffed CGI mayhem is lifted above overkill mediocrity by a couple of great action sequences. The chemistry between stars Gal Gadot and Chris Pine (forced though their reunion may be by the most comic book-y of contrivances) remains solid. The surprising emotional heft as one character says goodbye for what has to be forever also landed.

The plot? Well, I’m really not sure. Something about a wishing stone which is actually a gussied-up monkey’s paw; whatever you wish for comes at great personal cost and something-something Cheetah. But Pedro Pascal as Donald Trump as Maxwell Lord somehow turns himself into the wishing stone and (dun-dun-DUN!) something-something most powerful being in the universe.

It’s all very comic book hodge-podgey. But it’s a Wonder Woman movie so I’m not looking for detailed historical authenticity.

And herein lies the rub; if you’re going to get mad at something, it’s probably Pascal as Lord. There is no doubt the filmmakers thought they were really giving it to us darn conservatives by giving the villain a ridiculous hairstyle and backstory as a failed businessman and huckster.

So, if you want to be mad at that, have at it. The thing is, as Super Villain-y as Lord behaves, he ends up being the most sympathetic character in the movie. So, great job, liberal elites! You made me like President Trump more!

RELATED: Reporters Rush to Defend Wonder Woman from Itself

There’s also a cartoonish Ronald Reagan analog who gets a wish and uses it on more nukes to point at our enemies instead of, say, world peace or ending hunger. I suppose you could be mad at that. But we wouldn’t have blinked twice at a plot point like this in any movie made between the Washington and Bush administrations.

But in the social media age, everybody’s gotta be mad at something. So there it is if you want it. However, unplugging your MAGA Goggles for a few hours will greatly enhance your enjoyment of this movie.

Put it this way; if you followed my recommendation and read “Wanderers,” a fantastic sci-fi novel written by Chuck Wendig, probably the most virulent, nuclear anti-Trumper SJW on earth, you’ll enjoy “WW84” with ease.

What’s good?

A lot of the action, even if the CGI isn’t 100 percent, which seems strange for a $200 million movie that’s been in the can for six months during the pandemic.

A lot of care (and cash) went into nailing the era. The fashion, the music, the mall. As a 50-year-old who spent his 20s-40s wearing a fanny pack and absorbing countless slings and arrows, it was a personally triumphant moment to watch Pine kick unholy butt while wearing one.

Representation matters.

Gadot is a capital “M” Movie Star; every second she’s on screen “WW84” is better. Now we need to see her in something other than a mega-budget franchise film to prove her bona fides. “Marriage Story 2”? Maybe with Oscar Isaac to continue the Comic Book-to-Star Wars Pipeline?

Wiig is not exactly a revelation as Barbra Minerva, the nerdy scientist who turns into a sexy super-villain, but she’s not comically out of her depth in such a huge production. Her arc is basically, “She’s All That With Claws.”

She looks great in the Olivia Newton-John leotard sequence, which should have been longer.

Pascal, whose Maxwell Lord rides a whiplash-inducing emotional rollercoaster, brings some real pathos to what could have been a one-note role. (He’s also great as “The Mandalorian,” but that’s another article.)

And Pine acts with the reckless abandon of Harrison Ford in “The Force Awakens,” knowing it’s almost assuredly his last time playing the role. (Or is it?)

RELATED: Here’s Where You’ve Seen Wonder Woman Before

What’s bad?

At times, the art direction verges on Joel Schumacher/”Batman & Robin” levels of POW! WHAM! ZAP! “Lighten up! It’s a comic book movie!” self-parody.

The Invisible Plane bit is just silly and should have remained on the cutting room floor, which brings me to…
“WW84” is easily 20, probably 40, minutes too long. It also suffers from Too Many Villains Syndrome; Lord or Cheetah would have been enough for one movie.

The Wishing Stone is kind of dumb. But if you’re a Silver Age comic book guy as I am, you know DC has always been kind of dumb. Marvel characters have “reality-based” origins (radioactive spiders, Gamma Rays, suits of armor) while DC is more… not that (refugee from a dying planet, green space ring seeks out brave man, dude has wings).

Is “Wonder Woman 84” a great movie? Not by a long shot. Is it a good movie? Maybe. But it’s definitely okay, and, as DC movies go, “okay” is high praise.

Call it a C+ and call it a day.

Terry O’Brien lives in Cape May, NJ and writes The Undertow for Exit Zero Magazine.

The post Second Opinion: A Semi-Defense of ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

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Reporters Rush to Save ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ from Itself

January 4, 2021
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The truth has a stubborn way of sneaking out.

That happens with too many blockbusters in waiting. The “first reactions” from pre-approved sources and easily pleased critics are often glowing, and then real people start weighing in.

That’s when it gets ugly.

We’re seeing this play out with “Wonder Woman 1984,” the pandemic-delayed sequel to the 2017 smash. The early Rotten Tomatoes rating for the film, once again directed by Patty Jenkins, sat in the high 80s.

Impressive.

The more critics saw the film, though, the more that number dropped. Today, it stands at a mediocre 60 percent “fresh,” a far cry from that initial reception.

That’s only part of the problem for the duly maligned sequel.

The movie’s box office fortunes are sinking, too. The film opened weakly in China, the world’s most important market, and it dropped precipitously from there. The same is happening stateside.

RELATED: Here’s Where You’ve Seen Wonder Woman Before 

The movie’s tepid $16.7 opening, partly explained away by the pandemic and the simultaneous HBO Max availability, gave way to a whopping 67 percent drop over the weekend. Massive blockbusters occasionally drop 50-60 percent on week two, mostly because so many fans rushed out to see it on opening night.

A movie that limped to the finish line like “WW84” needed a far better hold, and it didn’t happen.

Even worse?

The film had no new competition over the weekend, and other titles fare far better.

Despite the awful New Year’s weekend, many pics respecting some sort of theatrical window saw weekend-to-weekend gains in their grosses from the previous Christmas 3-day, i.e. Monster Hunter, Fatale, Croods 2, Pinocchio, War With Grandpa, Come Play, or decent holds, i.e. Promising Young Woman and News of the World. Also, showing that some moviegoing habits haven’t changed even with fewer people going, Saturday’s daily box office business for most of the top 10 films was, on average, +11% over Friday.

Enter the media, which routinely rallies to save feminist films. Veteran critic Richard Roeper noted critics graded the female “Ghostbusters” film on a curve.

More recently, consider the spinning that went on after DC’s “Birds of Prey” underwhelmed at the box office early last year. Film scribes spun the results to distract from the inconvenient truths.

They’re still doing just that, going so far as to hail the movie’s egg sandwich.

Really.

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So it’s not a shock to see Screen Rant sic a writer on Rotten Tomatoes for daring to accurately reflect the critical reaction to “WW84.” The liberal geek site shredded the review aggregator for lacking nuance, an angle that could have been written about almost any movie over the past decade.

So why did it run just now?

Rotten Tomatoes’ numerical rating is not an average review score as the percent indicator may suggest, but it’s a measurement of consensus. Every review, whether it’s a middle of the road review, an extreme positive, or an extreme negative, is converted into a simple thumbs up or thumbs down, and the final percentage indicator only specifies what percent of reviewers gave it a positive score to any degree. As a result, the Tomatometer disproportionately benefits safe, middle-of-the-road movies and penalizes polarizing movies that have a lot of rave reviews but a handful of detractors.

One of the maddening aspects of woke scolds is how they expect every new release to perfectly capture every aspect of a given culture, subculture or group. That creates undue and unnecessary pressure on the creators of said projects.

The Mary Sue — the wokest of the woke sites — now says we shouldn’t use that barometer against “WW84.” Plus, the site argues releasing “WW84” now was a no-win scenario. 

…it was inevitable that reactions would range from people being so happy to see a new superhero movie that they would have loved it pretty much no matter what to people having sky-high expectations that would have been impossible to meet no matter what.

Pure defense mode.

It’s worth noting that little of this happened when “Wonder Woman” hit theaters in 2017. Why? It’s a smart, funny film that captures the character to near perfection.

The next example of reporters running protection for “WW84” feels more nefarious. 

NME misconstrues a conversation between Jenkins and podcaster Marc Maron to make it sound like Warner Bros. didn’t give Jenkins creative control over the sequel.

AKA — the shoddy sequel wasn’t her fault.

“They wanted to hire me like a beard,” she told Maron. “They wanted me to walk around on set as a woman, but it was their story and their vision.”

She wasn’t talking about “WW84,” though. She meant how the industry in general viewed her and her skill set following her breakout success with “Monster.”

Later, Jenkins does suggest some initial disagreements she had with Warner Bros. over the DC character, an IP with massive potential, but she said the conversation eventually circled back to her and her vision.

“Do you want to do it your way, and boom, I just went and made the movie,” she recalls of the producers finally giving her the green light to make what would become the 2017 sensation.

Now, compare that to the NME headline for the discussion:

Patty Jenkins details “internal war” with Warner Bros over ‘Wonder Woman 1984’

Spin, spin spin. “WW84” is a disappointing sequel with lackluster receipts. Outlets that convince readers otherwise aren’t telling the whole story … or the truth.

The post Reporters Rush to Save ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ from Itself appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

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Cardi B Sticks With L.A. Club Appearances Following Gang Threats: Report

Cardi B is carrying on with her All-Star Weekend club appearances after being threatened by alleged gang members over an Instagram post this week. The Bronx rapper reportedly received threatening messages after she seemingly disrespected the Crips in a post where she wore a blue coat. “I hate wearing Flue but this shirt was too poppin,” read the now-deleted caption, replacing the B in Blue with an F. Following the messages, the nightclubs hosting Cardi’s 3 events over the weekend have tripled their security, but a new report from TMZ says the rapper is not taking the threats too seriously and the appearances will continue as planned.

Also Read:  387 – My Love feat.Gator [Song] @387ent

RELATED: Cardi B’s Recent Gang Threats Forces Nightclubs To Beef Up Security

Citing “sources close to Cardi,” the report states that the “Bodak Yellow” emcee has “no fear of gang retaliation.” According to the source, she has reminded her team, including record company execs, “she’s from the streets, so nobody’s stopping her bankroll.”

RELATEDCardi B Previews Her Next Potential Hit On Instagram

Cardi will appear at Murano, Penthouse and Ace of Diamonds, which are all under the same ownership. It was reported that club management at the venues held an emergency meeting Wednesday to discuss how to handle the threats. Off-duty cops are said to have been added to security and will be present in uniform inside the events, in addition to triple the number of armed guards.

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Cardi is looking at a $250,000 payout from the events, one of which will be with Migos, a group which includes her fiancé Offset

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Alkaline Addresses Reports He Is Buying Views On YouTube

Alkaline has addressed his critics who accused him of buying views on YouTube.

Last year, the Vendetta deejay came under scrutiny from dancehall fans, particularly Vybz Kartel fans, who claimed that he has been paying to over-inflate his Vevo views. The allegations comes after Alkaline racked up a number of views for some newly released music. In one case, he clocked a million views in less than a week for his single “Suave” which went on to add millions more views in the weeks after.

In his new single “Mirage” Alkaline address his critics. “In a league of my own, no am not your opponent, nothing me hate in a life like a snake or a f***** rodent, them can’t stop my show that a one thing me know… Them a say me numbers them too good, them a say me a buy views pon Vevo, okay then still a give them mayhem.”

RELATED: Alkaline, Spice, Popcaan, Aidonia Leads 2018 Your View Awards Nominees

Alkaline also address his enemies whom he say are actively sending the police after him and although he gets frustrated, he still manages to keep his cool and maintain his focus thanks to the council of his mother. “Mirage” is Alkaline’s first single since the start of the year and his Vendetta fans are basking in the moment because they have been waiting to hear what he has to say.

The track already sparked a heated debate on social media about who Alkaline is referring to when deejaying about taking out someone and their entire crew. It could be a number of people including Vybz Kartel, Popcaan, NotNice, Sean Kingston, Tommy Lee Sparta, and more, all of whom he has been beefing with. Kartel might be the only name you can exclude over the mere fact that he is behind bars. But his incarceration is not stopping him from going after Alkaline musically.

Nick Young Responds To Iggy Azalea Scorched Earth On Twitter

Nick Young reacts to Iggy Azalea scorch earth remarks about him on Twitter.

The NBA star and the “Fancy” rapper broke up last year after he went and knock up his ex-girlfriend and baby mama. Their split came just a few months after his teammate D’Angello Russell outed him with a video posted on social media. The breakup was bitter and the two haven’t been on speaking terms since then. Last weekend, Nick Young and Iggy Azalea were spotted dining at the same restaurant in Los Angeles. Rumors started circulated on social media that the pair are getting back together but that is not the case.

Iggy fired off a series of tweets towards a reported from the Daily Mail and Nick Young was the center of his fire. “Ryan Smith @ TheDailyMail i hope all your christmas gifts contain boxes of dried up chips of dog s–t for trying to imply i would EVER, EVER have a dinner date with my ex who created a full human behind my back,” she tweeted before saying one last thing, “I hope all your candy canes break before you get to take them out of the wrapper for the rest of your life.”

RELATED: Iggy Azalea Blames Album Delay on Nick Young Breakup

Iggy Azalea arrived at the restaurant around 3 hours before her famous ex-boyfriend and his friends got there. She left a short while after he arrived. “The unfortunate thing about LA is there are not that many places people eat. You can be in the middle of one of the most important dinner meetings of your life; and randomly your ex and all his friends walk in the same place,” she later added in another tweet.

Nick Young has since responded while clearly holding back a lot of things he had on his chest. “I was going to go in but imma chill,” he tweeted. “Let it go.”

The unfortunate thing about LA is there are not that many places people eat. You can be in the middle of one of the most important dinner meetings of your life; and randomly your ex and all his friends walk in the same place.

— IGGY AZALEA (@IGGYAZALEA) December 18, 2017

I was going to go in but imma chill ….

— Nick Young (@NickSwagyPYoung) December 18, 2017

Vybz Kartel Trolls Alkaline For Dissing Tony Matterhorn

Vybz Kartel is trolling Alkaline on Instagram for dissing Tony Matterhorn last weekend.

In case you have been living in a cake for the past few days, Alkaline stepped to Tony Matterhorn on stage last Friday night during his birthday party at Club Euro in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The veteran sound system selector was the main disc jockey at the birthday bash which saw thousands of Vendetta fans turned out for the event. Matterhorn was playing mostly Alkaline and his allies music all night, but then music start coming from Tommy Lee Sparta, Popcaan, and then a Vybz Kartel song was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The “Champion Boy” deejay was furious and made his way onto the stage with his goons to confront TM and told him to his face that he is a pu**y for pulling off the stunt. Vybz Kartel seems to be having a field day with the development and has since sound off on Instagram about it. “WHAT’S A PARTY WITHOUT VYBZKARTEL MUSIC?? DWBCL,” Kartel wrote in his IG bio before adding, “How does it feel being labelled a photo copy artiste? Guess i’ll never know, dwfl.”

RELATED: Tony Matterhorn Explains Why He Didn’t Retaliate Against Alkaline After Getting Diss

Last year, Alkaline received some backlash from some dancehall fans for allegedly copying Vybz Kartel image and style. The Vendetta deejay never responded to those accusations, but Kartel and his fans are not letting up on the claims. “So boring at the top yawn,” Kartel added on IG.

Alkaline Disses Tony Matterhorn To His Face For Playing Vybz Kartel Music

Alkaline and his goons almost put paws on Tony Matterhorn for playing Vybz Kartel music.

Matterhorn was the designated disc jockey at Alkaline’s birthday bash at Club Euro in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Friday night. The venue was jam packed to maximum capacity with Vendetta fans pouring in to see the young dancehall deejay. Sources told us that the veteran sound system selector was playing music from several different dancehall acts including some who has beef with “Suave” deejay like Tommy Lee Sparta and Popcaan.

Our source say things took a turn for the worst when Matterhorn played a Vybz Kartel song and that’s when Alkaline and a few of his goons made their way on stage and took the microphone. “Matterhorn know wa yo a bombocl*** do inno a Vendetta place yo deh don’t gwaan like yo waan come style the thing because we can style the thing to,” Alka told the DJ in front of his face. “But hear what for the love of my fans we naan go do that, but yo a pu**y for that wa yo just do. Me and yo a friends but no try do them style deh, but hear wa a gwaan differently… For my fans mi just waan say big up everybody wa forward for the show.”

RELATED: Alkaline and Tommy Lee Sparta Reignites Beef On Instagram

The video clip below gives you a preview of the showdown and you can see one of Alkaline goons standing next to Tony Matterhorn looking like he was ready to brawl with the veteran selector. Thankfully cooler heads prevailed and things didn’t ended badly. Perhaps if this show was in Jamaica then it would likely ended differently. The show was a huge success for Alkaline and his team and now sources inside his circle are telling us that it will likely be an annual event going forward.

#alkaline disses #tonymatterhorn ??

A post shared by DancehallHipHop (@dancehallhiphop) on Dec 17, 2017 at 12:27pm PST

#alkaline goons was ready to put paws #tonymatterhorn ?

A post shared by DancehallHipHop (@dancehallhiphop) on Dec 17, 2017 at 12:39pm PST

Cardi B is Fiance Of The Year Buys Offset A Rolls-Royce and Rolex For His Birthday

Offset is the real winner and Cardi B is the gunning for fiance of the year.

The “Bodak Yellow” rapper surprises her fiance with a brand new Rolls-Royce wraith for his 26th birthday Last Thursday and he was ecstatic about his new toy. These cars retail for around $320,000 so some of Cardi B’s fans are social media were criticizing the move especially since she only broke onto the scene this year. But she shot back saying that her financial advisor told her that she can afford to make the purchase.

With a number one song this year and massive success as a guest artist on other singles, plus an album on the way, Cardi B can more than afford to shell down $300K on a new car. After all she just purchased a brand new Bentley SUV for herself. Bardi hosted a birthday bash for Offset at The MacArthur in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday night and a bunch of celebrities came out for the party including Migos members Quavo and Takeoff. Other celebs like Swae Lee, Big Sean, Lil Yachty, Ashanti, and G-Eazy were also at the party.

RELATED: Twitter Reacts To Offset and Cardi B Engagement

#PressPlay: #TSRBirfdayz–Happy 26th Birthday #Offset!!! This must be why #CardiB told her mans no gifts for Christmas & Valentine's day ??? 'cause she copped him a whole #RollsRoyce ????? !!!!! Meanwhile others can't even get a birthday call until 12 noon ?

A post shared by The Shade Room (@theshaderoom) on Dec 14, 2017 at 5:00am PST

At the end of the party, Cardi B surprised Offset with the white-and-red Rolls-Royce Wraith outside the venue while fans looked on. It’s safe to say that the Migos rapper has had as good as a year as Bardi. The two got engaged in October during the 2017 Power 99’s Powerhouse concert in Philadelphia. Offset proposed to her on stage with a giant diamond engagement ring cost over $500,000. Their engagement came just days after the two broke up and aired it all out on social media.

Congratulations to Offset for bagging one of the baddest chicks in hip hop and she is kind hearted too and knows how to make her man happy.

Ninjaman’s Incarceration Left Gloomy Dancehall Christmas Party Season

Ninjaman‘s incarceration is leaving a void this Christmas holiday party season.

The dancehall legend is currently behind bars awaiting his sentencing set for Monday in the Supreme Court in Kingston. In case you have been living under a rock for the past few weeks, Ninjaman was convicted of murder last month and is facing life imprisonment. Known for his on the spot lyrical prowess and his stage craft, Ninja’s absence from the dancehall party scene this holiday season is already being felt.

Dancehall fans could always look forward to be entertained by the legendary deejay on some of the major shows this season like GT Taylor Extravaganza and more. Ninjaman’s charitable deeds is also in focus since the artist usually give back to his community during the holiday period. “Whole heap a people a go miss him because dem know if he was around, they would have a good Christmas,” fellow dancehall star Macka Diamond said. “It wasn’t only because of weh him coulda do fi people. I’m sure a lot of promoters miss him because Ninja is a artiste weh people love fi stage show. Promoters a go definitely miss him because dem man deh tun up stage show wid dem vibes.”

RELATED: Ninjaman Thinks He Was Given An Unfair Trial Like Vybz Kartel

Ninjaman, his son Janiel, and Dennis Clayton were convicted for the murder march 2009 murder of Ricardo Johnson on Marl Road, Kingston 13. The “Kingston Town” deejay says that he will appeal the November 20th conviction to try and clear his name.

XXXTentacion Mugshot Tells The Full Story Of His Mountain Of Legal Troubles

XXXTentacion is not in a happy place right now and his mugshot says it all.

The “Look At Me” rapper was arrested this morning and is facing seven new felony charges including witness harassment and witness tampering. If he is found guilty on the charges he could be sent to prison for decades. XXXTentacion wore a white button down shirt to court today and tied his signature locks into a bun. But that wasn’t enough to sway the judges who might have already made up his mind about the rapper’s image.

X maintained the same attire for his mugshot after arriving at the Miami-Dade County Jail. The judge ordered him taken behind bars until his trial because he broke the terms of his bail from his original arrest. Prosecutors argued that XXXTentacion coerced his victim, who is his ex-girlfriend, in an effort to try to get her to drop the assault case against him.

RELATED: XXXTentacion Drops New EP “A Ghetto Christmas Carol” Listen

You can recall, he is already facing kidnapping and assault charges for his alleged assault of his pregnant ex-girlfriend and all these charges carries serious penalties if found guilty.

Tyga Lost $50K Worth Of Merchandise In Last Kings Robbery

Tyga is out at least fifty grand as a result of the recent robbery at his Last Kings store.

Last week, thieves forced their way into Tyga’s Last Kings clothing store in Los Angeles and made off with a ton of merch. This is the same store that the Compton rapper was sued by his landlord for $75,000. Police sources confirmed that the thieves took $50,000 worth of cloth and another $3,150 worth of gears including an iPad and a flat screen TV.

RELATED: Tyga Breaks Silence On Kylie Jenner Pregnancy On SnapChat

Tyga has not issued a statement on the burglary, but sources are saying the crime might have been orchestrated by someone close to his circle. Investigators say the thieves pry their way into the boutique through a back door. They took the security system which makes the crime harder for cops to solve. Police are still actively investigating the crime and are not ruling out an inside job.

Tyga has had a rocky year with several legal troubles and a bitter split from Kylie Jenner.