TOP 5: Joaquin Phoenix in Final Talks to Lead DOCTOR STRANGE, WHIPLASH, Warner Bros. Superhero Pics Are No Joke, ROSEWATER, KIRK CAMERON’S SAVING CHRISTMAS

     August 30, 2014

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One of the best documentaries I’ve seen this year is the Netflix original The Battered Bastards of Baseball. Directed by brothers Chapman Way and Maclain Way, the doc premiered at Sundance back in January where Matt gave it a glowing review and debuted on Netflix last month where you can still instant stream it today. The film follows the Portland Mavericks, an independent baseball team created by actor and lifelong baseball enthusiast Bing Russell in 1973. In addition to being the only professional team in America to operate without a Major League affiliate at the time, the Mavericks held open tryouts and built a roster that was made up almost entirely of players who had long been forgotten by the world of organized baseball. The result was a team that played with a supreme chip on their shoulder that not only lead to wins but also record setting attendance numbers that stand to this day. Whether you grew up wanting to be a big leaguer or simply appreciate a fantastic underdog story, The Battered Bastards of Baseball is an affecting doc that’s not to be missed.

Recommendations aside, this week’s Top 5 features word that Joaquin Phoenix is in final negotiations to star in Marvel’s Doctor Strange, a new trailer for Whiplash that will detour you from ever wanting to study jazz performance, the rumor that Warner Bros. has a “no jokes” mandate for its upcoming Superhero movies, the first trailer for Jon Stewart‘s directorial debut Rosewater, and a disturbing trailer for Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas. Keep reading for a brief recap and link to each of the above.

1. Joaquin Phoenix in Final Talks to Lead Marvel’s DOCTOR STRANGE

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While not a done deal, we reported earlier this week that Joaquin Phoenix is in final talks with Marvel to take on the titular role in Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange. Landing an actor of Phoenix’s caliber would be huge for Marvel but, on the other hand, I can absolutely understand if Phoenix wants to ensure that an MCU contract won’t demand so much time as to take away from other projects he may want to work on. Stay tuned for more on this one in the not too distant future I’m sure.

2. New WHIPLASH Trailer Makes Jazz Look Scary As Hell

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One of my most anticipated films of the fall is writer/director Damien Chazelle’s music drama Whiplash. Matt raved about the film when he saw it at Sundance praising its “brooding, unnerving energy” and this new international trailer for the film only supports that description. While J.K. Simmons makes him look surprisingly composed by comparison, I can hardly make it through the cut without having flashbacks of the classical guitar performance instructor I had my first two years of college. Shudder.

3. Has Warner Bros. Laid Down a “No Jokes” Rule for Its Superhero Movies?

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While I enjoyed Man of Steel, I’m not convinced that Warner Bros. and DC Comics will be able to consistently put out quality superhero films post Dark Knight Trilogy. It’s not that there aren’t good characters to explore and solid stories left to tell, I just worry that the studio and publisher are preoccupied with trying to weave together a cinematic universe (a la the MCU) rather than doing something unique and memorable of their own. At the same time, I’m not sure that instituting a “no jokes” mandate for your superhero movies is the best way to go about differentiating yourself from the competition. Let’s hope this report turns out to be complete hogwash.

4. First Trailer for Jon Stewart’s Directorial Debut ROSEWATER

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The first trailer for Jon Stewart’s rookie directorial effort Rosewater landed online this week and it kinda blew me away. For a film that is built around the imprisonment and torture of a BBC journalist in Iran, the tone was surprisingly hopeful and the music is spot-on. The film made its premiere at the Telluride Film Festival a few days ago and has received some lukewarm reviews but I plan on checking it out regardless.

5. KIRK CAMERON’S SAVING CHRISTMAS Whether You Like It or Not

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Whether or not you agree, the fact remains that many people who identify themselves as Christians believe that society is waging war against Christmas. Phrases like “Season’s Greetings” and “Happy Holidays” are seen as a secular slap in the face. Meanwhile, spending ludicrous amounts of money on earthly possessions and/or buying gifts for the less fortunate so as to save the receipts and use it as a tax write-off later seems to fall right in line with what Jesus was going for. Confusing, I know, but fear not because the first trailer for Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas is here to teach you all you need to know about the true reason for the season and it’s a genuine nightmare.

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