Summer’s here as is the start of long weekend! If you’ll be home, here are some recommendations what to watch including new selections on Crave Canada and Amazon Prime Video! If theatres are open in your area, we’re incredibly jealous. Hope you’ve had a chance to go out and enjoy!
THE TOMORROW WAR (Amazon Prime Video)
We’re sure many of you have been missing your high-octane save-the-world Blockbusters! THE TOMORROW WAR starring Chris Pratt arrives on Amazon Prime in-time for the long weekend. Pratt stars as Dan Forester, who among others is delivered a message from 2051 that a deadly species of aliens are out to destroy the world. To protect his father, he teams with his estranged father (J.K. Simmons) and a Scientist (Yvonne Strahovski), heading into the future, to save the future world his daughter will inherit. This Feature live-action debut from Chris McKay, who has helmed The Lego Batman Movies, is an ambitious one, but blends a bit of heart with the alien ass-kicking. While clocking-in at 2 hours and 20 minutes, this should provide some long weekend thrills for the family! THE TOMORROW WAR is on Amazon Prime Video July 2, 2021.
MONSTERS AT WORK (Disney+)
Set after the events of MONSTERS, INC. this new Disney+ Series reunites us with James P. “Sulley” Sullivan (John Goodman) and Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal), and a cast of new characters. And they’ve never looked better, thanks to Canada’s ICON Creative Studio, who were leaned-on as series production got impacted by the Pandemic. We meet the likable Tylor Tuskmon (Ben Feldman), who recently graduated from Monsters University, dreaming of working alongside legends like Sulley and Mike Wazowski. He doesn’t quite believe in himself but quickly finds himself a hero. We also meet also some super-fun new characters like enthusiastic mechanic Val Little (Mindy Kaling), the best friend of Tylor. At once, Monstropolis is moving to a laughter-fueled system and its monsters are out to learn the art of Comedy to keep things running. The Series, comprised of 22-minute episodes maintains that humour and energy we’ve come to love of the Franchise. The first two episodes are available on Disney+ July 7, 2021.
MARY J. BLIGE’S MY LIFE (Amazon Prime Video)
This Documentary pays tribute to a Diva who has sold over 100 million records, has won nine Grammys and even been nominated for an Oscar for her acting. Mary J. Bligecan do it all, but it wasn’t always easy for her. The Film directed by Vanessa Roth goes back to her youth where she lived in poverty, in a neighbourhood where women were treated poorly. What made Blige different from any other Artist in the ’90s was that through her voice and emotion, she could connect to young black women who at the time didn’t have an Artist quite like her to connect to. Through those who worked closely with her over the years and the subject matter herself, we look back at her success and struggles making her a true survivor. While we admit the Film at the cost of going deep into her dark past, paints a flattering portrait of Blige, this is essential viewing for fans. MARY J. BLIGE’S MY LIFE is now on Amazon Prime Video.
THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY (Disney+)
We really need no excuse to want to watch Tony Hale! The Funnyman stars in this new Disney+ Series based on the popular youth book series by Trenton Lee Stewart, tells the story of how the magnetic Mr. Benedict (Hale) gathers a brilliant group of children together to stop his evil twin, Mr. Curtain (also played by Hale) from brainwashing the world. The quirky but smart Series has a bit of slow build-up but should get interesting if you and your young ones are willing to invest the time. The first two episodes of THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY premiered June 25, 2021 on Disney+, with new episodes coming weekly till August 6, 2021.
RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE ALL STARS S6 (CRAVE/PARAMOUNT+)
As we close out Pride month, Drag Race fever lives on! Fan favourites return for this sixth season of RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE ALL STARS, giving these 13 queens another shot of Drag Race glory! Week by week, we will see these talented performers pitted against one another in challenges, including the week’s top queen being pit against a mystery Lip Sync Assassin for a shot at a cash prize! Eureka, who was seen on HBO’s WE’RE HERE, plus the Franchise’s first transgender woman Kylie Sonique Love, A’Keria C. Davenport and several more are back. Big personalities means big clashes and we can’t wait to see them take it out on one another on RuPaul‘s stage. The first two episodes already are available on Crave Canada, with new episodes coming weekly on Thursdays.
We’ve got reviews for theatrical and on-demand releases as well like ZOLA, FEAR STREET PART 1: 1994, BLACK WIDOW, F9: THE FAST SAGA, SUMMER OF SOUL, THE FINAL PURGE, LUCA and several more right here.
For those of you who didn’t get a chance to see it in theatres, A QUIET PLACE II arrives on Amazon Prime VideoJuly, 13, 2021! We’ll have our Review soon.
Music icon Mary J. Blige is the subject of upcoming Amazon Prime Video Documentary MARY J BLIGE’S MY LIFE. Check-out this new Trailer!
Mary J. Blige set the music world on fire with her trailblazing 1994 LP “My Life,”. In Vanessa Roth’s Documentary Mary J. Blige’s My Life, the singer, producer and actress reveals the demons and blessings that inspired the record and propelled her to international stardom. She celebrates the 25th anniversary of her most influential work by performing the album live for the first time.
MARY J. BLIGE’S MY LIFE arrives on Amazon Prime VideoJune 25, 2021.
Jennifer Hudson stars as Aretha Franklin in Biopic RESPECT! See this brand new Teaser Trailer for this exciting Holiday release.
Following the rise of Aretha Franklin’s career from a child singing in her father’s church’s choir to her international superstardom, RESPECT is the remarkable true story of the music icon’s journey to find her voice.
Cast: Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, Marc Maron, Tituss Burgess, Saycon Sengbloh, Hailey Kilgore, Skye Dakota Turner, Tate Donovan and Mary J. Blige.
Based on My Chemical Romance Frontman Gerard Way‘s popular graphic novels, Netflix Series THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY is set to stream across the world. Filmed right here in Toronto, from Canadian Showrunner Steve Blackman and Executive Producer Jeff King, it centers on a group of six survivors of fourty three children born one day in 1989 to mothers who prior had shown no signs of pregnancy. Now adults, they must come together to solve the mystery of their father, Sir Reginald Hargreeves, who has passed. This family of superheroes must iron-out their differences in the wake of a possible apocalypse.
Stars of genre-bending The Umbrella Academy reunited on the festive Red Carpet tonight at TIFF Bell Lightbox in support the the Series’ launch tomorrow on the world’s leading internet television service, Netflix. In attendance were Mary J. Blige, Cameron Britton, Colm Feore, Sheila McCarthy, Tom Hopper, Emma Raver-Lampan, Robert Sheehan, David Castañeda, several of the Show’s young stars and Ellen Page, who has made headlines much of late speaking-out for the LGBTQ Community.
We had the pleasure of seeing and snapping the talent tonight on the Carpet including Sheila McCarthy, Colm Feore, Executive Producer Jeff King, Cameron Britton, Tom Hopper and Emmy Raver-Lampman.
Sheila McCarthy – “Agnes”
We ask the Toronto-born Actress about her character Agnes, a donut shop owner. She says, “Her glass is full to brimming, even in very violent situations, she sees the sunny side. She’s having the greatest love of her life with someone half her age, which doesn’t matter.”. She also tells us about her favourite part of working on the Series, revealing her she won’t forget meeting two-time Oscar nominee and R&B superstar Mary J. Blige. “Two years ago if you told me that I’d be working with her, I’d go ‘What?’! She’s the sweetest, kindest person”, she states. “It’s very carefully-handpicked show and it’s not always like that. It’s a labour of love I tell ya.”.
Colm Feore – “Sir Reginald Hargreeves”
The screen and stage legend tells us what drew him most to the project and Way‘s vision. “It’s a fabulous part and vision of the part by Gerard (Way) and Steven Blackman, a brilliant Writer. He’s got a serious job creating superheroes who could save the world. He knows what end game is and the stakes are very, very high.”.
The role while being a departure from some of the more charismatic roles Feore is known for in his celebrated career, but he clarifies, “For all the absence of warmth and charm, there’s a real eye-on-the-prize focus on what needs to be achieved.”. “It was awfully-fun cracking the whip on the little ones. I got to be mean to Ellen Page by proxy! I know she’s a little mad at me that I didn’t even read her book about the family, EXTRA ORDINARY, but I knew it would pay dividends in the end.”.
Jeff King, Executive Producer
Known for his work on Stargate SG-1, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and White Collar, Canadian-born King feels incredible about bringing the production to and premiering it in Toronto. “This is incredible. This is hometown for me and I haven’t been here in long time to shoot. But I have to credit the Ontario government and the Government of Canada for having an incentive program that would bring studios like Universal and Netflix and encourage them to be in Toronto because it’s such a great multicultural city. I’ve filmed in Paris, London, New York, New York and Vancouver, but Toronto is a unique mélange of all these things because of its people, architecture and proximity.”. He jokes, “Now if would just snow a little less it would be good.”.
Cameron Britton – “Hazel”
Britton who also starred in Netflix’s Mindhunter, tells us what drew him most to his role as an assassin. The Actor who is paired alongside Blige‘s Cha-Cha says, “He’s someone who doesn’t know who he is and I’ve wanted always to play someone in transition, finding out who they are. I found it really interesting that who they are in this case is a villain. It’s uncommon for villain not to know their identity.”.
On his preparation process, he admits being a bit nervous. “Preparation was scary because there was too much freedom to find out who these folks were. I didn’t meet Mary till a few days before starting to shoot. That’s when the characters opened-up a lot more. The chemistry was there and sometimes you get lucky in that regard.”.
Tom Hopper and Emmy Raver-Lampman – “Luther” and “Allison”
Hopper has starred on HBO‘s Game of Thrones and more recently was seen in Amy Schumer Comedy I Feel Pretty, while Raver-Lampman got a breakthrough after a turn on Broadway in Hamilton. They tell us about their love for Toronto.
Raver-Lampman recalls, “We started filming in January and wrapped in July, so we saw all the seasons. So many TV shows and movies come through town and everyone on show was a veteran of their craft.”. “We went to music festivals, did tons of Karaoke and we loved trying different restaurants. We tried to take Toronto in as much as we could.”.
Hopper states, “The amount of fun stuff we did outside of shooting was great. I had a wicked time. At the time my wife was home pregnant with my second baby. What made it a lot easier was these guys and Toronto. I needed these guys to get through this.”.
Despite being siblings, the two show a great chemistry which is prevalent even in few words. We ask how they achieve this on-screen.
Raver-Lampman tells us, “Right from jump, we really got along. There was no ego. We had a willingness to talk through scenes and make the best of the situation. It is because we had a friendship that existed offstage that we became close pals. I think at some point we stopped talking about scenes we had together. I think the Pilot was most we ever talked about scenes and then we would fall right into it and I started figuring out what he needs from me and vice-versa.”.
Hopper adds, “I was learning who Allison was as I was learning who Luther was. I got to know her as Allison as Emmy, it’s weird. And that’s all to do with the trust Emmy that talks about.”.
See our Chats:
See some Snaps from the night:
THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY streams on Netflix CanadaFriday, February 15, 2019.
All photos taken on Nikon D3400.
(Photo/video credit: Mr. Will Wong/Amanda Gilmore)
Based on My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way’s Comic Book series of the same name, THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY is set to stream on Netflix this February. Way also serves on the series as Executive Producer. The first season, comprised of ten hour-long episodes brings together a quirky ensemble of talent. It centers on seven children born on the same day despite their mothers not having been pregnant, who are adopted by Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) an alien disguised as a billionaire.
–Vanya (Ellen Page) who is a skilled Violinist
–Luther (Tom Hopper) who possesses super-strength and the body of an alien ape
–Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman) who is a star of the Red Carpet, who can alter reality through her lies
–Klaus (Robert Sheehan) who is an odd-ball underachiever, able to communicate with the dead
–Diego (David Castañeda) who has superior knifing skills and ability to control his breath
–Number Five (Aidan Gallagher) who has the appearance of a teen boy and is able to travel in time
Mary J. Blige also stars as Cha-Cha, a time-travelling assassin, along with her partner Hazel, played by Cameron Britton.
Shot right here in Toronto, The Umbrella Academy is a genre-bending mix of Action, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Drama and Comedy, set against a late ’80s-inspired Soundtrack, the period in which the central characters were born and grew-up. While a bit of a slow-burn, as much time is spent explaining these characters’ back stories, we learn along the way what led to their dysfunction present day as siblings as they look to solve their father’s death. With Number Five travelling into the future to learn that the world will be ending in a matter of days, the siblings must come together to save the world before others threaten to off them and assassins are in hot pursuit of Number Five.
The series’ aesthetic is dark and apocalyptic, set in the poorly-maintained mansion in which the siblings were raised. Fans of the Comic Book Series however surely will find plenty to connect with and rewarded as the plots thicken and the siblings are brought together in a common goal.
The Umbrella Academy is a star vehicle for young Aidan Gallagher who gets a chance to shine with plentiful action sequences, possessing a maturity well beyond his years and he handles the dramatic scenes, especially with Ellen Page with prowess, being her emotional and intellectual equal. Page is fragile and vulnerable, cast well in the role of Vanya who really needs to find herself in a family of siblings whom all possess a useful skill… except her. Tom Hopper as leader Luther and glamorous Emma Raver-Lampman, possess an almost-inappropriate interest in one another which translates from the source material. Robert Sheehan‘s Klaus and David Castañeda‘s Diego are the rebels in the family, keeping things uncomfortably dangerous.
Season One of THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY streams Friday, February 15, 2019. More here.
Filmed right at home here in Toronto, the new Teaser for Netflix‘s THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY finally has surfaced! The Series based on My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way‘s graphic novels, comes with muh fanfare and looks every bit as exciting as it has been made out to be!
See the Teaser:
Netflix Canada stream THE UMBRELLAACADEMYFriday, February 15, 2019.
Based on Gerard Way‘s (My Chemical Romance) Comic Book Series, Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy quietly has been filming in and around Toronto since January. Set in the late ’70s, it takes place in an alternate universe where John F. Kennedy never was assassinated and centers on a team of dysfunctional superheroes who come together to solve their father’s death. They also must not let their clashing personalities get in the way and destroy everything.
The Series stars Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, Robert Sheehan, Emmy Raver-Lampman, David Castañeda and child actor AidanGallagher. Recent double Oscar-nominee Mary J. Blige also was added to the cast recently and we spotted her arriving on-set. Blige was last in Toronto for the TIFF ’17 Premiere of Mudbound.
Written into the Series, her character Cha Cha is said to be an unorthodox woman who can travel in time to kill targets. Filming in the City’s Dundas West area, she was spotted in a suit and bob with bangs like a Femme Fatale. She was seen with two friends/handlers enjoying a quiet pizza lunch to the sounds of Stevie Wonder at Pizza Libretto before heading back to work. One onlooker says she saw a friend scope out the restaurant before having Blige enter and she sat facing the window the entire meal.
The Set has been extremely protective of this Series, barring fans from seeing talent even out of costume. We’re really curious to see why the secrecy. Hmm…
The 2015 TriBeCa Film Festival ran from April 15-26, 2015 in beautiful Tribeca, New York and I attended for the first time ever! What originally drew me into travelling for 10 days to New York City for this incredible Film Festival co-founded by Robert DeNiro to bring people back downtown New York after the tragedies of 9/11, were the conversations, or Tribeca Talks: Director Series that was announced in the middle of March, just a mere month before the Festival. The booking and scouring to look-up Films, allow time to line up and travel, and build a schedule with no backups had begun.
The Tribeca Talks: Director Series that was just aforementioned including one hour Conversations with George Lucas moderated by Stephen Colbert, Christopher Nolan moderated by Bennett Miller, Cary Fukunaga moderated by James Schumer, and last not certainly not least, Brad Bird moderated by Janeane Garofalo. These Talks were not only incredible for their insight, but they were beyond entertaining and masterful. The 60 minutes flew-by in what felt like seconds, but the entire time was surreal, something that words cannot merely describe.
As well, the selection of seemingly endless Movies was unfathomable. There were so many great choices, and promising options, most of which turned out to be extremely fun and enjoyable while others fell short of that standard. Some of the highlights were: Leslye Headland’s Sleeping with Other People starring Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis. This Movie was absolutely hysterical as it steered from the typical Romantic Comedy norms and clichés, and provided new laughs and nuances that truly made this RomCom stand-out from the crowd. Hopefully it gets a Canadian release, and if it unfortunately does not it will be released on VOD 90 days after its opening in Cinemas. Other standouts included Man Up from Director Ben Palmer which paired Simon Pegg and Lake Bell together in an unseeingly-perfect Romantic Comedy as well. I swear I did not just see Romcoms at TriBeCa. Ashby from Director Tony McNamara is another extremely funny, brilliant, Dark Comedy featuring Mickey Rourke, Nat Wolff and Emma Roberts. The Film focuses on Wolff and Rourke who is a former Assassin and how the manage to enrich one another’s life.
The TriBeCa Film Festival also features an after the Movie discussion for certain Titles, not that the new Movies don’t have Q&As but rather they take older Movies and bring back Cast and Crew for a 45 minute discussion about the Movie and some insider information regarding the Project. The one that I was lucky enough to attend was Gus Van Sant’s brilliant Good Will Hunting. Minnie Driver, Gus Van Sant and Stellan Skarsgård were in attendance for this post movie talk and included a lot of information about Robin Williams on the set. This moved most of the Audience to laughter and tears. Some of the most memorable moments were when Skarsgårdrevealed that the first take of the scene between Williams and Skarsgårdin the bar, Robin did the entire Role in his Nicholson impersonation. Another memorable tidbit was from Driver who reveled that the focus puller was terrible and could not be fired because he was related to someone high up so he referred to him as Helen…Keller. Moments like these unknown facts are what make for great memories.
TriBeCa was an incredible experience, which offered a ton of excitement in an array of events geared to true Film Lovers. These separate ticketed events are something that would be classified as once in a lifetime. Events such as Mary J. Blige’s Documentary The London Sessions, followed by her performing a live Concert, or a showing of Monty Python and the Holy Grail followed by a Talk with Monty Python. However, the Closing Night Film was the piece DE résistance. Goodfellas’ 25th Anniversary Screening in the new 4K restoration with a post-Screening Discussion with Robert DeNiro, Ray Liotta, Lorraine Bracco and Paul Sorvino, moderated by Jon Stewart. That was a memory never to be duplicated.
TriBeCa was a delight to attend, and a Festival I cannot wait to experience again next year!
Not that we are surprised, but Sam Smith walked away the big winner at tonight’s 57th GRAMMYs. The British Singer-Songwriter went-on to win four Awards at the Ceremony honouring the Year’s best in Music, nabbing Record of the Year and Single of the Year for his Hit Single STAY WITH ME, which he performed alongside Mary J. Blige. His IN THE LONELY HOUR went-on to win Best Pop Vocal Album. The 22-year-old was forthcoming about his sexuality, thanking his former Lover on-stage, “I want to thank the Man who broke my heart, as it inspired me to win four GRAMMYs!”. Smith also won Best New Artist, defeating the likes of Iggy Azalea and HAIM.
See Smith and Blige perform STAY WITH ME:
Veteran Alternative Singer/Songwriter BECK has shown amazing longevity in a Career which has spanned over three decades now. His Disc MORNING PHASE went-on to win Album of the Year as well as Best Rock Album. On the Show, he performed HEART IS A DRUM alongside Coldplay‘s Chris Martin.
Highlights tonight included a huge choreographed Comeback performance from Madonna, who was flawless in delivering new Single LIVING FOR LOVE. See the performance below:
Australian Singer-Songwriter certainly has been at it for a number of years now and she had just about everybody talking about her performance of Hit, CHANDELIER tonight featuring former Saturday Night Live Alumni Kristen Wiig doing performance art!
BEYONCE also brought it home delivering a pure and powerful rendition of Take My Hand, Precious Lord. She with Husband Jay-Z won Best R&B Performance for their Single DRUNK IN LOVE.
RIHANNA too made a powerful statement delivering a vocally on-point performance of new Single FOURFIVESECONDS alongside The Beatles Icon Paul McCartney and Kanye West. See it below:
Something to warm-up your Holiday! Fox Searchlight Canada and Mr. Will Wong want to take Readers to the Toronto Advance Screening of BLACK NATIVITY!
In a contemporary adaptation of Langston Hughes‘ celebrated play, the holiday musical drama BLACK NATIVITY follows Langston (Jacob Latimore), a street-wise teen from Baltimore raised by a single mother, as he journeys to New York City to spend the Christmas holiday with his estranged relatives Reverend Cornell and Aretha Cobbs (Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett). Unwilling to live by the imposing Reverend Cobbs’ rules, a frustrated Langston is determined to return home to his mother, Naima (Jennifer Hudson). Langston embarks on a surprising and inspirational journey and along with his new friends, and a little divine intervention, he discovers the true meaning of faith, healing, and Family.
Directed by Kasi Lemmons,Black Nativity stars Angela Bassett, Tyrese Gibson, Forest Whitaker, Jacob Latimore, Mary J. Blige and Jennifer Hudson.
The Screening takes place in Toronto on Monday, November 25, 2013 at 7:00 PM, Cineplex – Yonge & Dundas.
See the Trailer below:
To enter to win Advance Screening Passes, please click “like” on this Post at Mr. Will Wong on Facebook! Share on Facebook or Re-Tweet the below to double your chances!
http://www.mrwillwong.com/blacknativity @MRWILLW wants us to #win Double Passes to the Advance Screening of #BLACKNATIVITY in #Toronto!
Fox Searchlight Canada releases BLACK NATIVITY in Toronto on Wednesday, November 27, 2013.