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Come Sunday Review: Chiwetel Ejiofors Performance Main Reason To See Netflixs Preachy Religious Drama

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Following a Sundance Film Festival debut in January, Netflix unveiled Come Sunda..

Following a Sundance Film Festival debut in January, Netflix unveiled Come Sunday, its true-life religious story of the Rev. Carlton Pearson, over the weekend on its streaming service and in some theaters. I caught it Sunday (naturally), but the low-energy dramatics didnt grab me, with the exception of the lead performance from the always reliable Chiwetel Ejiofor as Pearson, a media-age preacher caught up in a crisis of conscience.

Based on This American Lifes segment entitled “Heretics” that focused on Pearson and the controversial decision to tell his flock that Hell doesnt exist, director Joshua Marston (who made an impressive first film in 2004 with Maria Full of Grace but has largely worked in television since) and screenwriter Marcus Hinchey struggle to give the compelling true story of Pearson some much-needed dramatic mojo. A little more life should have been poured into the biopic which, appropriately for Netflix if not Sundance, plays more like a TV movie. As I say though in my video review above, it is the dedicated work of Ejiofor that makes this worth watching.

Pearson is the charismatic preacher who presides over the Higher Dimensions ministry in Tulsa, OK. It is one of those massive churches, complete with TV cameras, a huge gospel choir, and mega congregation that latches on to every word of Pearsons towering sermons — until they dont. An unfortunate visit with a prisoner relative (Danny Glover) trying to get parole with Pearsons help doesnt go well, and the man ends up killing himself shortly afterwards. There is guilt about that but, also, after watching scenes of African children starving, he has an epiphany and battle with God, wondering what kind of God could allow this suffering, as well as even the possibility of a Hell. He tells the congregation that Hell doesnt exist, setting off a crisis for the business of the church as well as outrage from his followers who begin to ostracize him.

This leads to a rift with his friend and church manager (Jason Segel), and the aforementioned crisis of conscience. Scenes with his mentor and spiritual guidance counselor Oral Roberts (an excellent Martin Sheen, in for a few scenes) are well played and demonstrate how carefully — and politically — the cards have to be played in this game to succeed. All of this also causes great conflict and consternation with Pearsons wife (Condola Rashad) as his marriage starts to go to hell (figuratively speaking, of course). Then there is the subplot involving church organist Reggie (Lakeith Stanfield), who is revealed to be HIV-positive. This section, including a moving scene later in the film between Pearson and Reggie, also reveals the existing hypocrisy involving gay members of the church.

Stanfield is also standout here, but the film is just too uneven in tone and message to be wholly effective despite offering an intriguing behind-the-scenes look at the mechanics of one of these huge religious enterprises; only the converted will be totally engaged. Others may struggle to keep their eyes open with Marstons uninspired direction, but Ejiofor does everything possible to keep us interested. Sometimes a little more Elmer Gantry can be a good thing. Producers are Ira Glass, Julie Goldstein, Alissa Shipp and James D. Stern.

One other note to Netflix: Please stop cutting off the end credits to promote some other movie on your service. You are not a broadcast network that has to keep us tuned in to whatever is next. Flipping to a trailer for some French comedy almost immediately as the credits rolled and Marstons name appeared is not cool — for either the filmmakers or the audience. Can you say annoying?

Do you plan to see Come Sunday? Let us know what you think.

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‘Antebellum’ has a ‘Get Out’ vibe, but doesn’t live up to its twist

“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definite..

“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definitely shouldn’t be spoiled even a little. Once that revelation is absorbed, however, the movie becomes less distinctive and inspired, reflecting an attempt to tap into the zeitgeist that made “Get Out” a breakthrough, without the same ability to pay off the premise.


Originally destined for a theatrical run, the movie hits digital platforms trumpeting a “Get Out” pedigree in its marketing campaign, since there’s an overlap among the producing teams.


More directly, the film marks the directing debut of Gerard Bush + Christopher Renz, who have championed social-justice issues through their advertising work. The opening script features a quote from author William Faulkner, whose intent will eventually become clearer: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”


If that sounds like a timely means of drawing a line from the horrors of slavery to the racism of today, you’ve come to the right place.

The story begins on a plantation, where the brutal overseers carry out grisly punishments against those tilling the fields. A few have just tried to escape, led by Veronica (Janelle Monae), and they pay a heavy price for their resistance, which does nothing to curb her defiance.

Also written by Bush + Renz, the script take too long before revealing what makes “Antebellum” different, but the middle portion — a “The Twilight Zone”-like phase when it’s hard to be sure exactly what’s going on — is actually the film’s strongest. (Even the trailer arguably gives away too much, so the less one knows, the better.)



The final stretch, by contrast, veers into more familiar thriller territory, and feels especially rushed toward the end, leaving behind a host of nagging, unanswered questions. That provides food for thought, but it’s also what separates the movie from something like “Get Out,” which deftly fleshed out its horror underpinnings.


Although the filmmakers (in a taped message) expressed disappointment that the movie wasn’t making its debut in theaters, in a strange way, the on-demand format somewhat works in its favor. In the press notes, Bush says the goal was “to force the audience to look at the real-life horror of racism through the lens of film horror. We’re landing in the middle of the very conversations that we hoped ‘Antebellum’ would spur.”


“Antebellum” should add to that discussion, so mission accomplished on that level. Monae is also quite good in her first leading film role (she did previously star in the series “Homecoming’s” second season), but otherwise, most of the characters remain underdeveloped.

In a theater, the tendency with a movie so dependent on a central mystery might be to become antsy. At home, “Antebellum” is worth seeing, not only because of what it has to say about America’s past and present, but as a reminder of the often yawning gap between an intriguing idea and a fully realized film.



Read from source: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/09/17/entertainment/antebellum-review/index.html

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‘Chemical Hearts’ director Richard Tanne on the film’s ‘bittersweet’ ending and what he hopes fans take away from the movie

“Chemical Hearts” director Richard Tanne spoke to Insider about the film’s “bittersweet” ending and ..

“Chemical Hearts” director Richard Tanne spoke to Insider about the film’s “bittersweet” ending and what he hopes fans take away from it.

“I think it’s gonna disappoint some people, and maybe all people on a certain level, ” the 35-year-old filmmaker told us. “It’s bittersweet. But that’s OK.”

The film, based on Krystal Sutherland’s 2016 book “Our Chemical Hearts” and now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video, centers on 17-year-old high school senior Henry Page (Austin Abrams), who finds himself drawn to a mysterious and secretive new transfer student named Grace Town (Lili Reinhart).

“Chemical Hearts” is told from Henry’s perspective, chronicling his first heartbreak after he falls in love with the person he thinks Grace is.

Tanne, who wrote the screenplay, said that he was impressed by how the story goes ‘a little bit deeper than your average teen romance’


“I loved how it embraced the dark side of being young, the pain and the grief and the loss, the idea of crossing the threshold from being an adolescent to an adult for the first time,” he told us.

By the end of the movie, Henry learns about Grace’s tragic past. On their last day of senior year, the characters don’t end up together. Instead, they prepare to explore different futures, with Henry heading off to a school for writing and Grace taking a year off to continue therapy.

Even though fans might be disappointed by the love interests splitting, Tanne said that ‘not everything has to be escapist’


“Sometimes, younger people watching movies don’t know that it’s OK to have unhappy endings because they’re fed a steady stream, a steady diet of escapist happily ever after movies,” he told us. “And that’s OK.”

He added: “There’s a place for those, I’m not knocking them. But I just wanted to make something that didn’t talk down to the younger audience. I wanted to make something that either meets them at their level or asks them to reach a little bit higher or dig a little bit deeper.”

Tanne said that having to confront that ‘bittersweet ending’ could also be useful to viewers


The director described the conclusion as bittersweet because “there’s hope at the end, maybe not for their relationship, but for other aspects of their lives.”

“Maybe it will be helpful for young people to see that and walk away with the same sting that Henry has, but to know that it’s going to be OK, to know that Henry will be OK,” he said.

Abrams, who was 22 when he filmed the movie, told Insider that hopefully, audiences will empathize with Henry.

“I think in terms of I supposed how he’s navigating relationships, I feel like hopefully at least anyone can relate to that,” he said.

Abrams told Insider that Henry and Grace’s relationship status at the end speaks to the film’s realistic nature


Abrams shared similar sentiments as Tanne, telling us that they tried to “portray the characters as honestly as possible,” which ties in to the conclusion.

“I think there are some people that meet one person and that’s who they’re with for the rest of their lives, who actually are Henry’s parents in the movie,” the 23-year-old actor told us.

“But then there are other people, and I think it’s probably a larger number, that are going to be in multiple relationships and some of them, a lot of them aren’t going to go well. I hope that that’s an aspect of the movie that people are able to relate to.”

Abrams added that he’s “perfectly fine” letting fans decide for themselves what their main takeaways are from “Chemical Hearts.”

“I hope that maybe they take away things that I didn’t even think of, because everyone’s different and at a different point in their life and hopefully will be able to relate to it in different ways.”

Read from source: https://www.insider.com/chemical-hearts-director-richard-tanne-bittersweet-ending-interview-2020-8


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Julia Sawalha furious after being told she is ‘too old’

Julia Sawalha has said she has been “plucked, stuffed and roasted” after being told that she would n..

Julia Sawalha has said she has been “plucked, stuffed and roasted” after being told that she would not be cast in the forthcoming sequel to the hit Aardman Animation film Chicken Run as her voice sounded “too old”.

In the original film, released in 2000, Sawalha voiced the lead role of Ginger, the plucky hen who inspires her fellow egg-layers to escape from a farm when they are threatened with being turned into pies. News of the development of a sequel first emerged in 2018, and Netflixs involvement was announced in June. It is due to be directed by Sam Fell (ParaNorman) and start production in 2021.

Sawalha posted a statement on social media saying she was told a week ago that she was not wanted for the sequel. “The reason they gave is that my voice now sounds too old and they want a younger actress to reprise the role.”

She added: “Usually in these circumstances, an actress would be given the chance to do a voice test in order to determine the suitability of their pitch and tone, I however was not given this opportunity. I am passionate about my work and I dont go down without a fight, so I did my own voice test at home and sent it to the producers … However, they stated, We will be going ahead to recast the voice of Ginger.”

Sawalhas protest follows reports that Mel Gibson, who voiced the character of daredevil rooster Rocky, would not be involved in the sequel. While Rocky is named as a character in the official plot synopsis for Chicken Run 2, the role is due to be recast. Variety magazine reported that Gibson was told that as “the sequel will revolve around younger chickens, therefore casting younger voice actors” was necessary. The report also claimed that Gibsons history of controversial behaviour, including an accusation of antisemitic comments by actor Winona Ryder, which Gibson denies, played no part in the recasting.

Sawalha added: “I feel I have been fobbed off with the same excuse … To say I am devastated and furious would be an understatement. I feel totally powerless.”

No official announcements have been made for the Chicken Run 2 cast, but original film cast members Jane Horrocks and Lynn Ferguson have been added to the films IMDb page.

Aardman has been contacted for a response.

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