TOP 5: SPIDER-MAN Joins the MCU, KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE, STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON, CRIMSON PEAK, Jon Stewart Leaving THE DAILY SHOW

     February 14, 2015

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Now available on Blu-ray/DVD is writer/director Justin Simien‘s razor sharp satire Dear White People. The film debuted at Sundance in 2014 where Simien took home the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent. Last October it received a limited theatrical release and has enjoyed near universal acclaim every step of the way. That said, it’s still a film about modern race relations made by a black man in a post-Obama era which means there are plenty of people who will hate it without watching it or be apprehensive about seeing it at all. My goal is to convince you to not be one of those people in a single paragraph.

Set exclusively within the confines of a prestigious American collegiate campus (the fictional Winchester University), the film’s tagline reveals it to be a story about “being a black face in a white place”. While Simien is clearly writing from his own experience as a gay black man attending college, the strength of his film is in the complex gray area it occupies. The multi-protagonist story refuses to be one in which all blacks are good and all whites bad. Simien’s characters have depth and none of them have it all figured out. They’re college kids who are struggling to find their identity, a place to belong in a world where success is measured in the number of social media friends/followers/subscribers you have. In this way, Dear White People feels extremely authentic not just to the black experience but to the modern university experience as a whole. It’s a valuable piece of satire that deserves to be seen and discussed for years to come.

I could go on, but space limitations demand we keep moving forward onto this week’s Top 5:

1. Spider-Man Joining the MCU

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What was once a rumor has now come to fruition. Earlier this week Sony announced that they and Marvel will share Spider-Man with the web-slinger’s next film appearance coming in an untitled Marvel movie (likely Captain America: Civil War in 2016) and his next solo pic releasing July 28th, 2017 via Sony with Kevin Feige and his Marvel team co-producing. While Sony’s press release states that this deal “…Brings Marvel Studios into the Amazing World of Spider-Man”, I couldn’t agree with Matt more when he says it’s 100% the other way around. Sony needs all the creative help it can get from Marvel right now with regards to the wall crawler and this deal allows for that. For more on this landscape changing deal check out Marvel’s release date changes that stem from it, details of what Sony/Marvel are looking for in a new Spidey, the first contenders for the role, three ways he could enter the MCU, and seven actors we believe deserve consideration in the recast.

2. KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE Interviews and Review

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A couple months back I used the opening paragraph to write about my enjoyment of the Mark Millar & Dave Gibbons graphic novel and, in return, my anticipation for director Matthew Vaughn’s adaptation of Kingsman: The Secret Service. I found the comic to be a fresh and entertaining spin on the Bond archetype and my love for Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class has earned the filmmaker a lifetime movie ticket purchase from yours truly. In short, I stand by my previous sentiments for the film and look forward to catching it this weekend if at all possible. Whether you’ve already watched it or, like me, are waiting for a free moment to do so, I recommend checking out Matt’s review and Perri’s video interviews with stars Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, & Sophie Cookson and Samuel L. Jackson & Sofia Boutella.

3. First Red-Band Trailer for STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON

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Universal and Legendary dropped the first red-band trailer for their N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton this past week and while I could have done without the slightly self-congratulatory intro from Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, I quite enjoyed the trailer itself. Director F. Gary Gray looks to have assembled an exciting look at the rise of a group that was unafraid to push the envelope and blur the line between music and protest.

4. First Trailer for Guillermo del Toro’s CRIMSON PEAK

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Another trailer debut from Universal and Legendary makes the cut this week with Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak. Although I had a great time watching the massive action provided by Pacific Rim, I have no problem admitting that I’m happy to see del Toro back working in the horror realm. The unique vision and overall aesthetic that he brings to the table is always a welcome addition to a genre that I hold dear. I can’t wait to see how this haunted house tale unravels when it hits theaters in October. Until then, this beautifully creepy trailer will have to suffice.

5. Jon Stewart Leaving THE DAILY SHOW

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I knew this day would come, I just wanted to believe it wouldn’t. Comedy Central announced this week that Jon Stewart will step down as host of The Daily Show later this year. You can watch Stewart make the announcement himself but I understand if you don’t want to put yourself through that kind of sadness on Valentine’s Day. My advice to you (and also to myself) is to take advantage of these last few months we have with Stewart at the helm. The intelligence, wit, and heart that he brought to the show will be sorely missed.

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