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Author: J. Don Birnam

LORD OF THE RINGS and HITMAN Series Coming to TV

TV’s awakening, and in some sense surpassing, of movies as audiences’ go-to medium just entered a new phase with the inking of deals to bring a hugely popular fantasy series, The Lord of the Rings, and a best-selling videogame, Hitman, to television platforms. Tolkien’s Creatures Get a Series Deadline reports that Amazon signed a $250 million dollar deal just to have the rights to develop a multi-season series of the immensely popular character created by J.R. Tolkien. In an effort to emulate the success of the fantasy series Game of Thrones, the giant bookseller will be teaming up with...

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NYFF Film Review: Woody Allen Is Going in Circles In WONDER WHEEL

There are ex-spouse ghosts and there are emotional ghouls in most stories by the quintessentially anxious American auteur Woody Allen. But in his latest offering, the Coney Island drama set in the 1950s Wonder Wheel, most of the specters revolved around the writer/director. A shadow of his former, brilliant self, Allen repeats and revisits themes that have haunted him and his work for decades, but with a more lackluster feeling, as if going through motions. At some level, Allen is creating these movies for the love of game, and admirable thing that one cannot really argue with. Allen is...

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NYFF FILM REVIEW: Supernatural Norwegian Thriller THELMA More Bark Than Bite

Thelma, Norway’s submission to the Academy Awards this year, treats us to a somewhat supernatural thriller about a girl who discovers she has powerful and bizarre extra sensorial powers. And while the plot revolves around her journey from confused discovery of these abilities to the moment when she can master and wield them effectively, the film itself remains more stuck in confusion than its principal character eventually becomes. Young Thelma lives in the Norwegian countryside with extremely devout and cruelly controlling parents. The parents clearly fear her and perhaps even hate her, but they are also compelled by their...

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FILM REVIEW: MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS Tries To Adapt A Classic Tale To Modern Tastes

Kenneth Brannagh and a dozen or so superstars board a train in Istanbul for a date with destiny in the latest adaptation of the Agatha Christie all-time classic, Murder on the Orient Express. The film, adapted slyly to the tastes of audiences in 2017, is fighting a losing battle against time, much like Poirot is. Audiences today by and large have little interest in slow burn, talking mysteries that require cerebral exposition and provide little action. What made Christie brilliant and compelling was her insight into the human mind. She was never supposed to be Ian Flemming. Still, the...

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FILM REVIEW: CHAPPAQUIDDICK Is a Timely Story of Unchecked Privilege and Power

Some films clearly seek to jump the shark and predict a future they believe is certain. Most such project feel contrived and are rarely effective. Others fall into heightened relevance by happenstance—think of the upcoming release of the movie about wildfire fighters, Only the Brave, at a time when such disasters are claiming lives across California. These coincidences, undoubtedly fortunate for the filmmakers, do not necessarily make a mediocre movie better, but they certainly make it more difficult to ignore and force us into taking a closer look. So it is that in the upcoming Chappaquiddick, a dramatic rendition...

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