For those who know anything about comedy, the name “Wayans” is sure to ring a bell. Comprised of 10 brothers and sisters who do everything from acting and writing, to directing and producing, the Wayans have made their name synonymous with funny. And that is only in the first generation, who have given birth to an entirely new line of actor/writer/comedian/directors.
Marlon Wayans, the youngest of the siblings, made his film debut in I’m Gonna Git You Sucka (1988) at the age of 16. Although he only had a small role in his brother Keenen’s directorial debut, it would be the start of an epic career spanning the last 26 years. And things don’t look like they are slowing down any time soon.
In honor of the release of A Haunted House 2, the sequel to his hugely successful 2013 comedy (which grossed over $60 million dollars worldwide on a $2.5 million dollar budget), Marlon came to St. Louis to talk about the film and his long-running career.
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The National Football League rules America. It’s the most popular sport in the United States. Grown men don the jersey of their favorite team every Sunday for 16 or more weeks, in hopes of them reaching the Super Bowl. While Kevin Costner’s latest film, Draft Day, isn’t the Super Bowl of sports movies, it’s pretty damn good.
Costner plays Sonny Weaver Jr., general manager of the Cleveland Browns. Weaver is a month removed from the death of his father, who was a legendary coach of the Browns. To make matters worse, Brown’s mother, played to perfection by Ellen Burstyn, resents the fact that Weaver had to fire his father, in a move that was best for the team. Costner’s romantic interest in the film is played by Jennifer Garner, a numbers crunching, front office executive for the Browns. Weaver must not only deal with his mother’s issues, but the issues of having the #1 draft pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. His Browns are on the clock and it’s a choice that will not only decide the fate of a team, but the city of Cleveland, as well as Weaver’s future as general manager.
I’m a sucker for a good mind-bender of a movie, and Oculus delivered in that department. Mike Flanagan’s low-budget horror film keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, despite a bit of a slow start.
The story centers around Tim (Brenton Thwaites) and Kaylie (Karen Gillan), two siblings who were witness to some pretty horrible actions by their father onto their mother 11 years earlier. It all started when their father put a mirror in his office. As the film goes on, we find out that the mirror has quite the horrid past, and can play some pretty tricky mind games on the owners of it. Tim was convicted as a child of killing his father and sent to a mental institution. Now 21 and cured, Tim is released and met by Kaylie, who has some plans up her sleeve to destroy the mirror that destroyed her family more than a decade earlier. What ensues is mind bending images, frightening images, and a butt load of suspense.
While watching the film, I found myself thinking back to Insidious, which was a big hit a few years back. Both films had a low-budget, relatively unknown cast, a relatively unknown director, and an original premise. Insidious worked so well that it spawned a sequel. While it’s unknown if Oculus will get the green light for a sequel, the door is definitely left open for one.
Costner, whose film career has spanned five different decades, has permanently endeared himself in the hearts of baseball fans everywhere with his performances in Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, and For Love of the Game. He played a golfer in Tin Cup. Now, after helping save the world earlier this year in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and 3 Days to Kill, Costner’s going back to the sports world into uncharted territory (for him, anyway): football.
Now, I’ll admit I’m probably a bit biased when it comes to sports films. I grew up rooting for the Cardinals and Blues, and when the Rams moved to town, I adopted them as my football team. I’ve rooted for SLU and Mizzou sports for as long as I can remember. So it bothers me a bit when people quickly dismiss sports films, claiming either the topic is trivial to them or the ending is predictable.
And their points aren’t entirely invalid. Sports films tend to follow a particular formula, and they’re not going to be interesting to everyone. Draft Day tries to throw twists and surprises into the story, but for the most part, it’s generally predictable. Fortunately, though, it still works, and it works well.
Kicking off this year’s set of superhero movies is none other than Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Serving as the direct sequel (obviously) to Captain America: The First Avenger, and the third movie in the set of phase 2 movies (phase 2 referring to Marvel Studios movies that take place after the Avengers) one is left to wonder what it will bring to the table as far as shaping the oncoming entries of the Marvel cinematic Universe. The film is under the direction of the Russo Brothers; Joe, and Anthony who had a previous reputation of directing the likes of You, Me, and Dupree, Happy Endings, and Community. For those keeping track, most of their directing energies were toward comedies. So, how do they handle one of Marvel’s most beloved heroes?
As far as the story goes, we will stick to the bare bones of it all, as it is only fair to see the film and watch it all unravel. Captain America: The Winter Soldier finds Captain America (Chris Evans) some couple of years after the events of the Avengers, and has joined S.H.I.E.L.D. This film sets aside time to deal with Cap’s adjustment with the modern world and what he has missed in his absence. As can be be drawn from the trailers, there is a growing tension between Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), and Cap on the philosophy of protecting people with Fury’s quote of “S.H.I.E.L.D. takes the world as it is, not as we’d like it to be”. Unless people have been sleeping under a rock over the past year, it’s easy to draw parallels between S.H.I.E.L.D., and say, the NSA, and the overall advent of exponentially high surveillance. This serves to drive the relevance of the story to obstacles that society deals with today. In his time spent with S.H.I.E.L.D., Black Widow (Scarlett Johanssen) has become something of a co-worker, and a friend, who still has a plethora of her own secrets. Also, Captain America finds a new ally in former military man, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) also known as famed hero “The Falcon” to assist with the growing threat of the Winter Soldier who has something of a boogeyman or ghost-like reputation in the intelligence community.