Mastermind’s Team Robcast 251 | How We Spent Our Winter Vacation

mtrthenetwork's Rob Lee & Dann D

The legendary duo, Rob Lee and Dann D, are back with the first new episode of 2019! After a quick discussion about the TMNT, Rob goes into detail about his winter vacation to New Orleans. Dann discusses staying in Baltimore while handling business, eating food and playing video games, among other things.

Meanwhile, Greg finds true love.

Whether you stream now or download and listen later, you don’t want to miss the episode made completely out of used Po’boy sandwiches!

Don’t forget to check out our new comic, Attorney’s At Claw.

Films I’m Looking Forward To | Fall 2018

Hey, it’s been a while.

Fall has always been known as the most important time for films, award season usually begins to lock down on films and Oscar baits come everywhere. Sometimes it’s a nice change of pace to see films that want speak up or films that provide clarity to a director’s visions. I wanted to discuss some of the ones I’m anticipating and some I’m staying away in no particular order:

Films I’m extremely excited for:

WIDOWS

Man what a cast and crew!!! Academy Award winning director Steve McQueen and author/screenwriter Gillian Flynn remakes the 1983 British TV show of the same name to the big screen. Widows is about an armed robbery gone wrong which resulted in the death of four men those four men wives now widows have to finish the score and clean up the mess left behind by their former husbands. With a cast of Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo (Known for Broadway work her theatrical debut), Colin Farrell, Brian Tyree Henry (Paper Boi playing a villain), Daniel Kaluuya (Holy shit have I heard great things about his character in this film and man what filmography for him already), Jacki Weaver, Carrie Coon, Robert Duvall, Jon Bernthal, Liam fucking Neeson I was sold before seining a trailer then I saw the trailer and maaaaaaannnn Hollywood THIS is how you build strong women characters that has to face the odds.

 

If Beale Street Could Talk

Barry Jenkins put himself in the spotlight big time after creating a near perfect film in Moonlight, he now takes his turn to adapt the classic 1974 novel written by James Baldwin If Beale Street Could Talk. A story of love, struggle, and overcoming the impossible with love. The story follows a young African-American woman who sets out to clear the name of her wrongly-convicted husband and prove his innocence before the birth of their child. With an already impressive cast itself and the name Barry Jenkins attached to it there’s a lot of pressure for this to not only be great but sweep away award season.  This film has been getting massive praise already so I cannot wait to see what this film has to offer.

Halloween

Jamie Lee Curtis is back, Blumhouse has been on a ROLL with horror films are producing it and no more Rob Zombie that alone has me sold on this film.

 

 

 

A Star is Born

Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut Lady Gaga’s in a starring role that was almost Beyoncé’s role twice. A remake of the 1937 film this time with musicians. I was very skeptical on the film until I saw the trailer and instantly thought someone is going for the Oscar here (Lady Gaga). This film has the very basic formula of struggling act meets attractive hot-shot and overcome the obstacles set by the lives before they met. Simple but can be very effective with the right people behind the wheel. This looks like they have it all covered.

 

Creed II

I want/need this to deliver. Creed is one of my favorite in this decade it revived a dead franchise and also created a franchise that can surpass the one before it. Creed one felt like the way they should’ve went with Rocky 5. Ryan Coogler was an excellent hire and Michael B Jordan proved Fruitvale Station wasn’t a fluke. However, due to Coogler taking on Black Panther (Good fucking job by the way), MGM had to go in another direction. Stallone penned the sequel and what I feared came to light Ivan Drago is back. I wanted Creed to move away from Rocky but it is going head first back into the world of Rocky’s shadow. BUT the trailer has me very optimistic about this even without Coogler I think they know what they’re doing. Coogler handpicked the new director Steven Caple Jr (best known for his movie the Land) takes over and this has a different feel than Creed but one I’m genuinely excited to see.

 

Bad Times at the El Royale

This looks fun. Drew Goddard is directing this thriller about seven strangers in a rundown motel. Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Nick Offerman, and Chris Hemsworth star in this film as well. I’m very interested in what this film to present.

 

 

 

Mid90s

What a shitty title for a film but honestly this looks to be very very good. Jonah Hill’s directorial debut a kid who becomes gets into of the culture of skateboarding in you guessed it the mid 90’s. This has been incredible reviews already some calling it a masterpiece. Jonah Hill is an extremely underrated act to me so this has my interest. Sidenote: the film is shot in 4:3 which is insane itself.

 

 

Green Book:

Virgo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali retell the story of Don Shirley and Tony Lip. Virgo and Mahershala in the same film enough said.

 

 

 

Wreck-It Ralph: Ralph Breaks the Internet

A sequel to the hit Wreck-It-Ralph with John C Reily and Sarah Silverman reprising their roles. Easy win.

 

 

 

Bohemian Rhapsody

Bryan Singer is a creep FINALLY someone told people about it and he’s out. I’m a little worried with directorial changes during production but I’m fully confident Rami Malek’s protrayl of Freddie Mercury. This is the 1st biopic on the rock band Queen. The bar is very high on this film and Rami is already hearing Oscar buzz.

 

 

Films I’m skeptical of:

Venom

No Spiderman just Venom. Sony’s 3rd attempt with Spiderman. Kevin Feige is not involved with this film too. I’m more than worried about this film. If Tom Hardy wasn’t cast as Venom I would scream abandon ship but Hardy makes this alone something I’m curious in.

 

 

The Hate U Give

This might get some backlash but I have a fear of Hollywood cashing in on Police Brutality which is disgusting especially if it offers nothing to the table but to paint the same picture. Based on the novel with the same name (which is also a homage to Tupac’s acronym THUG LIFE: The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody). Where Blindspotting provided a message and perspective on the matter of this issue. I don’t see The Hate U Give following suit but being a film that pains the same story as usual and get folks even more upset. An unwanted cash grab with a really great cast (even if I dislike the lead in this film, Amandla Stenberg). Russell Hornsby is one of the most underrated actors alive, Regina Hall serious roles have been really good as well. There’s been a lot of praise for this film but I usually wonder if the praise is due to fear of not being someone to speak against the film. Not sure if I want to watch it but I do fear the problem this film can cause by profiting off of the issue itself.

Fantastic Beasts The Crimes of Grindelwald

After a very underwhelming 1st film, we get a sequel which is planned to be a six film series based on 2 books (Someone didn’t learn from the Hobbit at all), and Johnny Depp is in this? Yeah…pass…….

 

 

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Current Live Action Disney minus Jungle Book and Marvel projects has sucked. I can only go by history with this company and I saw nothing that screams excitement.

This batch of films will offer something to everyone and will be a very interesting topic of discussion when it’s all said and done. Personally I find it very interesting I’m more invested in the fall films than I was with the summer. Hopefully everyone finds a film worth investing in and some sleepers at that as well.

#JustGreg

 

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[Movie Review] Unfriended: Dark Web (2018)

[Movie Review] Unfriended: Dark Web (2018)

 

Plot Summary: A teen comes into possession of a new laptop and soon discovers that the previous owner is not only watching him but will also do anything to get it back.

Director: Stephen Susco

Writer: Stephen Susco

Runtime: 1h 28 min

Main Cast:

  • Rebecca Rittenhouse as Serena
  • Betty Gabriel as Nari
  • Chelsea Alden as Kelly
  • Colin Woodell as Matias

Review by: Chris F

A sequel to 2014 film Unfriended, Dark Web returns to the new arena of smart tech filmed horror. Being someone interested in this new form of filmmaking I thought the original film was a unique yet flawed modern horror tale. Though some of the supernatural elements of the original threw me off, using a laptop and webcam as the main cameras led to some very interesting forms of storytelling. The sequel follows Maitas and his friends after the former ‘finds’ a new laptop, once it’s revealed who the previous owner of the laptop is, the friends much navigate the horrific situations they are caught in once the owner demands his laptop back. Turning the dumb teen genre of horror on its head, can Unfriended: Dark Web be as unique and interesting as the first? Kind of?

What I Liked:

As stated above, I’m a big fan of this film’s presentation. Much like the first the entire film is told as if the audience is viewing a laptop screen, this allows for some really creative ways to tell a story. From the opening scene of the main character attempting to log into the laptop, to the clever reveal at the end, the format of this film is its strongest point. What could easily be a cheap gimmick, allows the filmmakers to do some really clever reveals and show off exposition in ways that feel real and natural. Seeing a mouse hover around an option while the character thinks about the next move, seeing the webcam screen of someone reacting to something horrible. All clever and well done considering how easy it is to overuse.

The actors play well with the format as well, though very limited in terms of their physical movements, the main group of friends all play their roles well enough. All of the classic teen tropes are here, though tweaked in unique, modern ways. Do we have the nerd/conspiracy theorist, nerd/smart tech guy, interracial lesbian lovers, and girl that is a DJ? Yea not all the characters are as fleshed out as others, but all are serviceable and even good once things get really crazy. Colin Woodell, who plays Matias, is given the most to do and work with. Being the lead much of the emotional weight falls on him and his decisions. He carries the role well enough, with moments of panic and dread being believable. Props to the director for getting so much from an actor in a very small screen space.

The villain in this movie is pretty damn scary once things begin to pick up. As the movie goes, the threat shows its hand and influence more and more and leads to one very creative kill and other terrifying displays of power and influence. Though much of the villain’s movements are obscured by a cheesy, fake looking digital distortion effect, he still poses and represents a very large threat for the team. With one of the better horror endings I’ve seen, a lot of the really scary moments come from how real some of it seems to be. This is also a great “talk to the screen” film. You know what I mean, one of those horror films where its an audience experience. The crowd I was with laughed, groaned, and shouted all at the best moments which made the film that much more enjoyable.

What I Didn’t Like:

Even though I’m well familiar with horror tropes and teen movies, I couldn’t get over how many stupid things these characters did, especially the main lead Maitias. Some of the moves he made when things got really bad, just did not make any logical sense at all. He seemed to move only to push the plot forward. Its odd considering how well done much of it is, to see just boneheaded decisions made before or right after something smart. Again, I completely understand this is expected for the genre, but it just took me out of the film and killed much of the tension in those scenes.

For a horror film it also really wasn’t that scary. its more haunted house fun, rather than being actually frightening. Though the villains and how they move have real-life implications, many of the deaths felt too movie like outside of ONE AMAZING KILL using a characters youtube page against him, best part of the movie in my opinion, I felt no terror at any of the proceedings and felt no connection to any of the main cast. Unfortunate too, when the stakes get really high, I was laughing rather than feeling suspense or dread. Another complaint and this is weird I know, the kills were lackluster. I keep mentioning one clever kill, but everything else was standard sub-par killings. Rooftop fall, train, bus hit, nothing to make me wince or jump. I kind look for that in this type of film and the first one had that in high degree, which makes it disappointing here.

Post originally on — The Grand Shuckett

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Robservations | The Birth of a Nation

Hey man, Rob Lee here and I have something on my mind: The Birth of a Nation. For those who don’t remember, The Birth of a Nation is a 2016 film depicting Nat Turner’s uprising in the antebellum south. The film had Oscar buzz which was later derailed but allegations that Nate Parker, the film’s star, director and producer, sexually assaulted a classmate in college in 1999. The following is a bit of a review on The Birth of a Nation.

Background

The film shares its title with D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation also called The Klansman which was released as a Klansman recruiting film over a hundred years prior to this film. Griffith’s film made between $50 and $100 million compared to Parker’s $16 million. Also, with about 3000 more review’s Griffith’s film is rated higher than Parker’s on Imdb. A Klan recruiting video outgrossed a film about a black uprising but America’s post racial. Parker’s film has that distinction of sexual assault allegations but it would be irresponsible to ignore that this country has a rich history of racism. Griffith’s film – The Klansman was shown at the White House by Woodrow Wilson.  That racism I feel is reinforced in the respective box office and dollars spent.

My take

Let’s get right into it, Birth of a Nation is an OK movie. It’s not groundbreaking but it’s well done. The first half of the movie is a bit slow for me but the latter half takes off. The film is very effective in showing how shitty slavery is. The film is similar to Braveheart to me – minus the war paint.

The film succeeded in eliciting emotions from me. For instance, the scene when Cherry is “delivered” to Elizabeth Turner was reminiscent to someone getting a new toy. Elizabeth was gleeful to get a new thing. Black people were only a thing, dehumanized. He even the scene at Joseph Randall’s plantation and the little white girl has the black girl on a leash.

Samuel Turner reminded me of how people in a position of power – white people in this film – are supportive of you until you infringe on their interest. For instance, after Cherry was brutally raped Samuel gave written permission to Nat to go tend to her. Written-fucking-permission and he reminded Nat that most owners wouldn’t allow that. Samuel, although in a position of power, was like a lower level white person – hanging and seeking love from his blacks but once the slight inkling that he would be welcomed into “whitelandia” he switched up. He didn’t switch up did he? He reverted to his factory settings.

The battle scene could have been a bit longer but the buildup was slow but solid enough to make it effective. The fall out is similar to what has happened historically. If white people are uncomfortable, then someone else has to pay, examples have to be made. Just today black, still second class citizens, have been replaced by Muslims and Mexicans.

Nat Turner’s hanging was something I nearly turned away from. Like I don’t like the visual of hanging overall – especially when it’s viscerally shot. The walk out to the lynching was interesting. We have all seen the shitty, racist and dumbass white men during the film. As this point, we see how rabid the white women were. It wasn’t a mistake to show numerous instances of white women acting like mad dogs at a public execution. White people only act like this – albeit in film – to public murder. That hanging looked like the set-up for a fourth of July festival. Also, not a mistake. The murder of black men is as American as independence. Are all men created equally?

Conclusion

In summation, Nate Parker isn’t Nat Turner. I think the Oscar buzz was something to say that people in a position of power are “OK” with “revisiting the ugly past but by the way they’re also going to revisit the not so distant past.” The Birth of a Nation is a movie that people need to see – it as flaws like any movie but it made me think. It made me think of my job and intellect (i.e. being literate) got me inside the house, while brothers, hell my own biological brother, and is outside “tending to the field”. It makes me think about how nuanced racism is – racism was based in ignorance and has morphed, in my opinion, to classism. The film helped me revisit these thoughts and feelings that weren’t top of mind but deserve my attention. Birth of a Nation Deserves your attention.

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Steel | Who greenlit this shit?

Congrats DC, you did it before Marvel but you played yourself.

This was rough like really rough, it took 6 tries to watch this and shockingly, this is not the worst on this list. Before Hollywood knew better Shaq kept getting starring movie roles.  Granted, Blue Chips is one of the best Basketball films to date and personally take a look (granted a melodramatic look) inside the NCAA. After taking his talents to Hollywood and leaving Orlando, Shaq was destined to follow up on role in Blue Chips with starring roles. First came Kazaam and thank god that doesn’t count; I would’ve threw my laptop.  Kazaam was a flop, but Hollywood did not listen and gave Shaq a DC comic property to work with in Steel.

Steel was never a huge character. In fact, he was a side character to Superman and eventually tried and failed to carry his mantle after Supes defeat to Doomsday. The character John Henry Irons (yes, his name is a pun) was the 1st black comic character to get a Hollywood blockbuster film not Black Lightning, not John Stewart’s Green Lantern, or even Static Shock ugghhhh damn you DC for this!!!!

The film changed certain aspects of his character instead of being a weapons engineer for the fictional AmerTek Industries like he was in the comics, he was a weapons engineer for the military in the film. Also, there is no Superman in this film and thank fucking god for that.  Shaq who plays Irons is discharged from the military due to how dangerous his weapons are and paralyzing one of his comrades in a practice run.  By the way, Shaq in a Military uniform is as ridiculous as it sounds.  Long story short, Shaq sees his weapons on the street and he goes under the guise of Steel to take the bad guys and get the weapons off the street. This film doesn’t deserve a breakdown, fuck that don’t see it. Don’t ask me to elaborate. Judd Nelson plays the villain and he’s just being himself here.  THIS FILM RUINED SHAFT FOR ME. Dammit Mr. Roundtree how could you?  Ray J was in this film as Shaq’s brother, son, nephew I don’t fucking know nor care, but I enjoyed him in this film. This film is bad on all levels and I’m ashamed it took me 6 tries to finish it. Don’t watch it, save yourself.