All posts filed under: FILMS

Hypnotized by white culture, ‘Get Out’ is about being awakened

One of the cool things about teaching a college introduction to mass communications class is that you get to discuss the history of media, including books, magazines, newspapers, television, radio, music and movies. We also look at current events that relate to all of these mediums, and this semester, we watched a couple of current movie trailers, including “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Get Out.”

Thrilling Thoughts About ‘Black Mirror’ and Real ‘American Horror’ Stories

By LaReeca Rucker Every now and then, I offer a list of some of the best horror/thriller movies, television shows and documentaries I’ve recently seen. Here they are: Black Mirror: I originally began watching “Black Mirror” a couple of years ago when the first season came to Netflix. At the time, I was a little embarrassed to share with others some of the content of this British science fiction series set in the near future with a technology/social media theme. Some of the subject matter in the first season has the potential to make viewers blush, including an episode in which the Prime Minster’s daughter is kidnapped and held for ransom. She will be murdered if the Prime Minster doesn’t perform an embarrassing act that will be recorded and shared on television and social media. So after watching it, I filed it away in my brain as interesting, but edgy until I started to see numerous articles written about “Black Mirror” recently in The New Yorker – which had already labeled the television series “A …

The Force is always with Star Wars fans

By LaReeca Rucker In 1983, I saw my first Star Wars film. “Return of the Jedi” was my introduction to the movie franchise, and I was hooked, because I wanted to look like and become Princess Leia. I wanted to ride speeder bikes through the thick, green forests of Endor; hang out in a village with adorable Ewoks, save Han Solo from the carbonite chamber, and command The Force as skillfully as a seasoned Jedi Knight. Throughout most of my childhood, I lived in a Star Wars fantasy world inhabited by me and my next door neighbor, who believed he was Luke Skywalker. Almost every day, we went on adventures to other planets in a galaxy far, far away. He often saved me from disgusting aliens like Jabba the Hut, and I was a beautiful princess who sometimes saved him – a feminist before I knew the word. We piloted space ships, killed alien creatures, and battled other evil forces with lightsabers, all underneath the big oak tree in my grandmother’s backyard. She often watched …

Scary movie suggestions for Halloween and beyond for thriller, horror fans

By LaReeca Rucker Halloween is over, but if you’re a fan of the thriller genre like I am, any day of the year is a good day for a cinematic thrill or scare. Each year, I usually compile a list of the best thrillers I’ve seen over the previous year. Here’s a list of some of the movies I’ve watched over the last couple of years that you might enjoy. The Hidden Face (2011) – One of the best thrillers I’ve seen in years, this Spanish film employs Edgar Allan Poe’s frightening device of live confinement. It’s also a cautionary tale about jealousy. In this film, an orchestra conductor deals with the mysterious disappearance of his girlfriend, but has she really disappeared? I’m Not Scared (2003) – This film is my top pick. Forget the fact that it fits into the thriller/horror genre. This is one of the best movies of the decade. I’d even define it as a masterpiece that explores morality and human nature. In this Spanish film, a young boy accidentally discovers …

As I Lay Dying

James Franco has spent time in Mississippi adapting some of William Faulkner’s books into movies. I haven’t seen “As I Lay Dying Yet,” but I got to interview a couple of the actors in the movie last year when they made appearances at a film event in Jackson. This is Ahna O’Reilly and Tim Blake Nelson. You may remember Ahna from “The Help” and Nelson from “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

Oprah shares screen with all-star cast and other Mississippians in ‘The Butler’

It’s been more than a decade since Kosciusko native Oprah Winfrey worked as an actress in a major motion picture, but she’s back as the wife of “The Butler” in a film about an African-American (actor Forest Whitaker) who witnesses notable events of the 20th century while working for years as a butler in the White House. The story was inspired by a Washington Post article about an African-American man who served as a butler to eight presidents in the White House for more than 30 years. IMDB.com reports that the “film traces the dramatic changes that swept American society, from the civil rights movement to Vietnam and beyond, and how those changes affected this man’s life and family.” Oprah isn’t the only Mississippian in this all-star cast. Keep a look out for rapper David Banner, of Jackson, who plays “Earl Gaines” in the film, and Mississippi-based actress Tarra Riggs has a role as “Sophie Wilson.” According to IMDB.com, Riggs landed her first film role as “Marlee” in “Ballast,” a movie shot in Mississippi, specifically …

Lohan’s career falls deeper into ‘The Canyon’ with latest movie

Last week, I was given the opportunity to pre-screen “The Canyons,” by Independent Film Channel (IFC) Films. I was interested in seeing whether or not Lindsay Lohan, one of the stars, had gotten her act together in both real life and on screen and was rooting for her, but Lohan’s decent performance could not salvage this film. I wasn’t sure whether I’d be seeing an interesting film or a Sharknado-style, awesomely bad one considering the cast. One would suspect it might be amazing. The film is directed by Paul Schrader, who wrote “Taxi Driver” and the screenplay for “Raging Bull,” among other notable films. It was written by Bret Easton Ellis, who may be best known for “American Psycho.” It’s obvious Schrader was trying to find a good fit for a Christian Bale/”American Psycho”-character in “The Canyons,” but it just didn’t work out. From the beginning, I found this movie difficult to watch, mainly because of lead actor James Deen. If he had asked me, I would have advised him not to steal the similar …

Jackson native produces ‘The Way, Way Back’

In fourth grade, Jackson native Tom Rice told his classmates that he wanted to be a film director. “I was a very creative-minded person growing up in a school that was very sports-centered,” he said. “If you didn’t play sports you were kind of a fish out of water. “I tried to fit into the sports scene without playing sports. I was the school mascot. It was a way to fit in and adapt. But I had a family who loved me, an interest in artist endeavors, and I was on my own to find out where I would find that creative satisfaction and find out who I was in the same way Duncan does.” Duncan is the lead character in Rice’s latest film. The Jackson creative who eventually founded his own production company is celebrating the opening of his latest project — an indie with an all-star cast that includes actors Steve Carrell, Toni Collette and Sam Rockwell called “The Way, Way Back.” In it, you meet Duncan, a 14-year-old boy who travels with …

‘Bling Ring’ star from Mississippi lands new role in music video

Mississippi native Israel Broussard, who won a leading role in director Sophia Coppola’s recent movie “The Bling Ring,” is now starring in a new music video directed by Bryce Dallas Howard. Howard is an actress who starred in “The Village,” Lady in the Water” “Terminator Salvation” and “The Help,” which was filmed in Mississippi. She also happens to be the daughter of director Ron Howard, aka Opie Taylor. Broussard is featured in the video with Lily Collins, daughter of musician Phil Collins, who also has a Mississippi tie. She starred as Collins Tuohy, daughter of Sandra Bullock’s character Leigh Anne Tuohy, in “The Blind Side.” The music group M83 released the video for their track “Claudia Lewis.” It’s is about a blue haired girl who appears out of nowhere and attends a local high school, where she doesn’t seem to understand what her peers are experiencing, like love and pain. When she finally receives a kiss from Broussard, they are magically transported somewhere in the universe. You can watch the video here. Got a comment? …

Film review: ‘The Way, Way Back’ and its Mississippi ties

Last week, I attended my first private film screening. It was just myself and a film company representative in the Madison theater all by ourselves watching “The Way, Way Back,” an indie coming-of-age movie that has been deemed a summer hit by some entertainment publications. It also has a Mississippi connection. Jackson native Tom Rice produced the film starring Steve Carrell, Toni Collete, Maya Rudolph and Sam Rockwell. If you remember Carrell’s nerdy imbecile character from “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” or his awkward portrayal of a guy looking for love in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” you’ll see a whole new side of Carrell in this film. He’s a confident, sexy, leading man with lots of issues. One of those is his habit of degrading the lead character, Duncan – his girlfriend’s 14-year-old son. This repeatedly occurs on a summer vacation beach trip that Carrell, his girlfriend, and their children take together. Duncan, a socially awkward adolescent, has trouble making friends and communicating with them. It doesn’t help that he’s constantly undermined and belittled by …

Hooray for ‘Sippiwood! Many film projects underway in Mississippi

A number of film and television projects are in the works or recently have been completed in the state.Here’s a rundown on what’s happening in ’Sippiwood. “Artists Die Best in Black” — This independent film has been shot on the Gulf Coast. The mystery, directed by Price Hall, stars actor Malcolm McDowell, whose most famous role is probably Alex DeLarge from the 1971 Stanley Kubrick film “A Clockwork Orange.” It is described as, “A noir romantic thriller full of intriguing characters, art and death (that) unfolds in a gripping mystery that rocks the art world of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.” The Sun Herald reported that a local premiere may be held in September. “Category 5” — This weather disaster action film just completed filming along the Gulf Coast. Starring Burt Reynolds, the movie is about five families caught in a Gulf Coast hurricane. The Hattiesburg American reported earlier that nearly a dozen University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast film students were hired as production assistants for the film. No word on a release date yet. …

‘The Bling Ring’ review: If you’re ‘Pretty Wild,’ karma often comes with cuffs

There were two reasons I wanted to see “The Bling Ring” this weekend. 1. It stars Mississippi native Israel Broussard as one of the teen thieves who broke into Hollywood homes and stole designer clothing and jewelry from famous celebrities. I got a chance to interview Broussard by phone last week, who is a very polite and mature young man. I’m sure he has a good film career ahead of him because landing your first major role in a Sofia Coppola movie “ain’t” too shabby. 2. I had previously watched the E! reality television series “Pretty Wild,” starring Alexis Neiers and her two teenage “sisters,” which I think – as reality shows go – may be one of the most absurd and entertaining ones I’ve ever seen because of how oblivious these girls and their parents seem about everything taking place in their lives. I’m not sure how this happened since their mother tried to home school them using metaphysical consciousness principles with a curriculum based on the “The Secret” or laws of attraction. But …

More of the story: Israel Broussard – A Mississippi teen in "The Bling Ring."

If you plan to go to the movies this weekend, you may want to check out “The Bling Ring” that stars a Mississippi teen from Saucier. Since the stories that run in our newspaper are often cut for space, here’s a little “More of the Story” that ran this week about actor Israel Broussard and his role as “Marc” in Sofa Coppla’s new film. He’s another Mississippi actor to keep your eye on, because landing a role of this caliber is bound to lead to others. Mississippi teen in the “The Bling Ring.” In 2000, writer Nancy Jo Sales penned an article for Vanity Fair called The Suspects Wore Louboutins examining the lives of a group of celebrity-worshipping Los Angeles teenagers arrested for breaking, entering and stealing more than $3 million in designer clothing and jewelry in 2008 and 2009 from some of the richest and most famous people in Hollywood, such as Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Orlando Bloom. E! also aired a reality show called “Pretty Wild” about Alexis Neiers, a member of …

What do Jethro and Bobbie Gentry have in common?

Well, today’s the third of June, and Mississippians all know what happened on that day. Yep, that’s the day Choctaw Ridge resident Billie Joe McAllister tragically jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge. Why? We may never know. Just like we may never know what he and Bobbie Lee Hartley (the female lead character in the movie adaptation) fictionally tossed into the water before his suicidal plunge. Quick movie fact: Did you know that the film “Ode to Billy Joe” – based on Bobbie Gentry’s 1967 song – was directed and produced by Max Baer Jr.? Yep, that’s right – Jethro from “The Beverly Hillbillies.” It was made for $1 million and grossed $27 million at the box office. Not bad for 1976. And at least part of it was filmed in Mississippi. Google it, and you can find news articles about filming in Vaiden. Another commenter just told me part of it was shot in Itta Bena. Last night, I heard the song “Harper Valley P.T.A.” (1968) for the first time in years, and it made …

Movie review: Why Southern women may appreciate "The Great Gatsby"

I understand what it feels like to hear that a movie you love is going to be remade. It sometimes evokes strong emotion, you can’t imagine improvement, and it’s a reminder that a chunk of time has evaporated, at least one generation has passed, and your memories are somehow threatened. I get it. I would imagine that some feel that way about the remake of “The Great Gatsby,” but I am not one of them. Having seen both films for the first time recently, the 2013 film is an improvement with an explosion of modern artistry that blends the classic 1920s words penned by F. Scott Fitzgerald with contemporary technology almost 100 years later. I enjoyed the new film much more than the original. Here’s a quick synopsis: Daisy Buchanan was the beautiful belle of the ball in Louisville, Ky., who could have had any man she wanted. Suitors were tripping over themselves to gain her affection and hand in marriage, and one was Jay Gatsby, a man of modest means with whom she fell …

New video: How to get that Great Gatsby style

When I started researching style from the 1920s because of this weekend’s release of “The Great Gatsby,” I ran across a few fashion terms I’d never heard of before like “hobble skirt,” “Eton crop” and “deerstalker.” Check out the video above to see what a “hobble skirt” is if you’re not familiar with it. An Eton crop is apparently a slicked down hairstyle worn by ladies at the time that helped show off their cloche hats. And a deerstalker is a hat worn by hunters. Think Sherlock Holmes-style, even though the character originated before the 1920s. This week, we ran a story about Gatsby style that you can read here. In it, you’ll learn how you, in 2013, can create the 1920s flapper look. Here are a few suggestions from Stephanie Jo Abby, a third-year MFA costume design candidate at the University of Southern Mississippi who just won the prestigious Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival National Award for Design Excellence in Costumes. Suggestions to get the “Gatsby” look: • A vintage store can be …

Nichols explores what lurks in the "Mud" of the Mighty Mississippi

All the ladies who plan to buy a movie ticket this weekend to see a shirtless Matthew McConaughey in a G-string like they did in director Steven Soderbergh’s sociological experiment “Magic Mike” that drew lines of women to a R-rated, cinematic strip show, may be a little disappointed in “Mud.” While McConaughey is fully clothed in most of this movie, (even wearing a symbolic, signature, white button down shirt), you will be rewarded with a pectoral scene or two, but this film is different kind of sociological exploration. Just as Soderbergh’s films seem to focus on the underworld or behind-the-scenes players who don’t always color within the lines of society, director Jeff Nichols’ third film explores the rural South, its residents and some of the uncontrollable things they encounter. In “Mud,” we are introduced to two adventurous 14-year-olds, Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), who against their parents wishes, brave the Mississippi River on a motorboat to explore an uninhabited island. They trek through through the forest and creeks until they arrive at an …

More of the story: Sela Ward talks Mississippi

Many Americans first met Sela Ward through her breakout, Emmy-award winning performance as Teddy Reed on the television series “Sisters,” that ran from 1991 to 1996. Then, there was that “little” role as Harrison Ford’s wife in “The Fugitive.” Today, many know her as Jo Danville, a DNA evidence investigator with a background in criminal psychology, who uses her wits to catch the bad guys. But to some, Ward is just a Mississippi girl who grew up in a little neighborhood in Meridian with two lakes where she learned to swim, and a cave in which she participated in séances with neighborhood children. “We really played outside until it was time for dinner,” said Ward, recalling her Mississippi childhood. “It was a lovely neighborhood. We spend most of the summer there. I go back for family reunions around Thanksgiving, and I usually get there one other time (during the year) for Hope Village.” She’s coming back to her hometown April 20 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Meridian charity she founded in 2002 called …

Check your Netflix cue for ‘Rites of Spring,’ a horror film shot in Jackson

Check your Netflix selections, and you may run across a 2011 horror movie called “Rites of Spring” with a creepy, vintage-style poster image of a woman dangling from a rope in front of an old farm house and the tag line “Fear has a season.” Watch the first few seconds of it, and you’ll learn that the movie has a Mississippi connection. Google it, and you’ll see it was shot entirely in the Jackson metro area in 2010. After kidnapping a young girl from her wealthy parents in a ransom scheme, a group of villains soon discover that there’s something more frightening and horrible than them lurking about. And when their hideout in an abandoned school becomes inhabited by a chilling curse that resurfaces each spring, they lose grip of their plan. A “Rites of Spring” sequel is in the works, according to producer Wes Benton, who has owned the Mississippi-based production company Red Planet Entertainment with his brother, Bobby Benton, since 1980. The two grew up in Mississippi and decided to produce a film …

Tweet your thoughts on the Oscars tonight: #CLoscars

Our Weekend story published Thursday took a look at the 85th Academy Awards, and we asked a mix of theater and film professors, as well as working writers, actors and producers, about their Oscar predictions. Most agreed that Daniel Day-Lewis will be hard to beat this year, and Ben Affleck was robbed of a Best Director nomination for “Argo.” Here are more of their thoughts: Chris Offutt Chris Offutt is an assistant professor of English and screenwriting at the University of Mississippi, who earned a master’s degree in fine arts from the University of Iowa in 1990. He has written for HBO’s “True Blood” and Showtime’s “Weeds.” Q. What are some of the Oscar contenders you have seen this year? A. I’ve seen all of the nominees for best picture. Unfortunately, it was not a year for great movies. Individual performances surpassed the films themselves. This was most evident in “The Master.” Two movies were loosely based on real events — “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Lincoln” — and, as such, lose some of the (ending) …

Mississippi native’s film ‘Big Sur’ about the life of Jack Kerouac premieres at Sundance

Thirty years ago, director Ridley Scott’s film “Blade Runner” presented a dystopian vision of the future where genetically engineered robots that look like humans are hunted down by police. It was the first film that made a significant impression on Mississippi native Orian Williams, 47, putting him “On the Road” to Hollywood, where he is currently in Park City, Utah, at the Sundance Film Festival promoting his latest project. His film, “Big Sur,” based on the life of author Jack Kerouac, debuted this week at Sundance. “‘Blade Runner’ really sort of set me on my path for seeking out a job or something that would have anything to do with combining great elements that I’m passionate about,” Williams said. “The music was timeless in this futuristic world. It had a love story, which I thought was incredibly important. There were so many things incorporated into that film that I wanted to pursue.” After graduation from Baylor University in Texas with a degree in telecommunications, Williams moved to Los Angeles. “I headed west, not only to …

Mississippi Girl scores big roles on ‘Weeds’ and ‘Suburgatory’

When Allie Grant was in the third grade at Church Street Elementary School in Tupelo, she became obsessed with the film “Rain Man.” “I came to school as Rain Man,” she said, which prompted her teacher to call her mother out of concern. “She said: ‘Angie, I don’t really know how to tell you this, but your daughter won’t respond to anything other than Rain Man. I don’t know what’s wrong with her. I don’t know how to explain it, but you need to come pick her up and make sure she comes back to school as Allie.’” When her mom asked what was going on, Grant confessed she wanted to be an actor. “She said, ‘Well, OK then. That’s what we’ll do.’” Since then, the Tupelo native has landed two significant roles on cable and network television shows. She played Isabella Hodes on Showtimes’ “Weeds” for five seasons, and now she is a cast member of ABC’s “Suburgatory” playing the role of socially awkward teen Lisa Shay. Born on Valentine’s Day in 1994, Grant …

Will you give ‘Mama’ a chance? Director Guillermo del Toro says: ‘Come to ‘Mama,’ baby.’

I’ve never been really frightened by pale, gown-wearing, double-jointed ghostly figures who crawl out of televisions or demon-possessed characters who could probably land gigs as contortionists in Las Vegas reviews, but I’ll have to admit, as a horror/thriller movie fan, there is something about the “creepy kid genre” that I find disturbing. Jessica Chastain, who earned Oscar nominations for her work in “The Help” (set in Mississippi) and the new film “Zero Dark Thirty,” will soon have two films in theaters simultaneously when Guillermo del Toro’s “Mama” is released Jan. 18 – another movie with creepy kids. In it, Chastain plays a woman who finds herself caring for her significant other’s young nieces who were left alone to fend for themselves in the forest for five years after their parents died. But the movie asks the question: How alone were they? The trailer looks interesting, but also looks like it relies on those familiar spooky contortionist creatures who, thanks to special effects, speed up and jump out at you. (For an example of what I’m …