The start of summer and lulling heat is a beckoning call to the cool, cushioned seats of movie theaters. The cavernous rooms offer your home air-conditioner a well-deserved break, and you the chance to be engulfed in a different world of adventure, comedy and love.
But let’s wake up from the summer heat with some adrenaline. Here are five movies that will satiate any horror-appetite, whether it’s a haunting based on real events, sci-fi horror, or, of course, one that will make you second-guess turning off the lights.
Bite – May 6
After a seemingly harmless insect bite, a young woman undergoes a horrifying transformation. With Elma Begovic, Annette Wozniak and Jordan Gray. Written by Jayme Laforest, story by Chad Archibald. Directed by Archibald. Scream Factory
The Conjuring 2 – June 10
Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson return as demonologists investigating the haunting of a house in north London. With Frances O’Connor. Written by Chad Hayes & Carey W. Hayes & James Wan and David Leslie Johnson; story by Hayes & Hayes & Wan. Directed by Wan. Warner Bros.
The Purge: Election Year – July 1
The third edition of this sci-fi horror series in which the annual government-sanction 12-hour period when all crime is legal comes under attack. With Frank Grillo, Edwin Hodge, Betty Gabriel. Written and Directed by James DeMonaco. Universal Pictures
Lights Out – July 22
A young woman and her brother confront the terrifying reality of what happens in the dark. With Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Alexander DiPersia. Written by Eric Heisserer, based on the short film by David F. Sandberg. Directed by Sandberg. New Line Cinema
Don’t Breathe – Aug. 26
A trio of Detroit teens who target the home of a blind war veteran for an easy burglary have no idea of the horror that awaits. With Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto and Stephen Lang. Written by Fede Alvarez & Rodo Sayagues, Directed by Fede Alvarez. Screen Gems.
She said, “Are you gay?”
Kinda took me by surprise, I didn’t know what to do,
I just looked her in her eyes and I said, “No, are you?”
Prince, “Uptown,” 1980
October 31, 2011. I had exhausted my wardrobe options by masquerading as a skeleton and as a bird of prey on the two nights previous. But as was tradition among graduate students in college towns across the country, Halloween meant a week of elaborate parties and requisite disguises on a shoestring budget.
I rifled through my closet. Always a vibrant dresser, my eyes tried to make costumes of the patterns and textures hanging before me. They stopped on an eggplant-colored velvet smoking jacket my mother gave me. Then on a white, ruffle-collared blouse and a leopard-print handbag. “This will work,” I remember thinking, as I drew a mustache and goatee on my face with waxy black eyeliner.
It was my first time in drag. I am still surprised by the power I felt channeling Prince’s brand of androgyny as I walked through my conservative Missouri city to meet friends at a neighborhood watering hole.
Fast-forward to present day. I haven’t been to a proper costume party in years.
I am now a PhD candidate in mass communication at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, where I research media’s interactions with gender and sexuality. My studies of straight-identified people who use social media to hook up with same-sex partners have been featured in the Journal of Communication Inquiry, the Huffington Post, and Cosmopolitan magazine, among other outlets.
As a Minneapolitan, and as someone who is finely attuned to the complicated relationships between behavior and identity, I was surprised to see so much posthumous media attention focused on Prince’s renunciation of same-sex marriage since 2008.
“Raunchy Prince was actually a conservative Christian who opposed gay marriage,” read one headline published Friday in the Washington Post.
“Prince’s alleged anti-gay stance is baffling, for good reason,” asserted the online women’s magazine Bustle.
But were Prince’s worldviews actually baffling, or are critics trying to stir up trouble?
I’ll try to untangle these tensions as a scholar of media, gender, and sexuality.
Here’s what I teach my students in diversity and mass communication: If people self-identify as something, we should take their words for it. If people don’t want to self-identify as something, we shouldn’t force it on them. But mainstream thought posits: “If a man dresses like a woman, doesn’t that make him queer? If a man has sex with other men, doesn’t that make him gay?”
Prince tried to help us understand the differences between identity (how we think of ourselves), behavior (what we do), and perception (how others think of us). Prince dismantled and queered what contemporary culture has tried to bracket.
For those of you who are too young to remember, or for those of you who are old enough to forget: Perhaps the apparent controversy demands a peruse through the archives.
Without Kristen Stewart as Snow White, Universal’s The Huntsman: Winter’s War flopped at the North American box office, grossing $20.1 million from 3,792 theaters despite a net budget of $115 million.
Rather, The Jungle Book remained king of the multiplex as it raced past the $500 million mark globally. The film continued to defy expectations its second weekend, falling a scant 41 percent to $60.8 million from 4,028 theaters for a 10-day domestic total of $191.5 million.
Overseas, Jungle Book roared to another $96 million for a foreign total of $337 million and global haul of $528.5 million. Huntsman took in $32.1 million offshore for a foreign total of $80.2 million (it began rolling out internationally two weeks ago) and global cume of $100.3 million.
Jungle Book’s performance further solidifies Disney’s prowess in spinning classic tales into live-action tentpoles. Other studios are having a much harder go of it, including Universal. In the 2012 film Snow White and the Huntsman, Stewart starred as Snow White. Instead of making a sequel to that film, Universal decided to go in a different direction, banking on Hemsworth’s star power, as well Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain.
The move didn’t pay off. Huntsman came in more than 64 percent behind the domestic debut of Snow White and the Huntsman ($56.2 million), and marks the latest disappointment for Chris Hemsworth who, outside of playing Thor, hasn’t clicked as a leading man.
The Huntsman is set before the events of Snow White and the Huntsman and centers on Hemsworth’s Huntsman and fellow warrior Sara (Chastain), who team up with Ravenna’s (Theron) sister Freya (Blunt) against the wicked witch. The female-skewing event film has been ravaged by critics, not helping matters. Audiences gave it a B+ CinemaScore.
Joe Roth produced Huntsman: Winter’s War, which is directed by first-time feature helmer Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, who worked as a visual effects supervisor on Snow White.
A pair of high-profile indie films debuted at the specialty box office; Amazon Studios’ Elvis & Nixon, starring Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey, and A Hologram for a King, starring Tom Hanks.
Hologram for a King, playing in 401 theaters, took in an estimated $1.1 million to come in No. 10 or No. 11. Elvis & Nixon, rolling out in 381 theaters, grossed an estimated $470,000.
Elsewhere in the top 10, Barbershop: The Next Cut placed No. 3 in its second weekend after Jungle Book and Huntsman with a projected $10 million, followed by Zootopia and The Boss.
Did you cry?” Jojo Moyes asked. The author wanted to know if the film version of her bestselling novel “Me Before You” had brought a viewer to tears. It was a reasonable question: Her book, a love story about a wheelchair-bound young man who falls for his caretaker, has emotionally devastated its 6 million readers.
So she’s hoping the movie adaptation, which stars Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin, has the same effect. “I’ve been standing in the back of the theater during screenings, waiting to see who’s sniffing,” said the 46-year-old Brit, calling from her home in Essex. “If it’s not 70% or above, I’m not pleased.”
Moyes, of course, has a lot invested in the film. Not only did she write the screenplay — her first — but she’s also been trying to get an adaptation of her 2012 novel made for years. After the book’s initial publication in Britain, its movie rights were snatched up almost immediately. Everything was on track until she got a call informing her that a French picture called “The Intouchables,” about a wealthy quadriplegic who strikes up an unlikely friendship with his live-in caretaker, was also in the works.
“The distributors of my film pulled out because they said there can’t be two films about quadriplegics,” Moyes recalled. “I was gutted.”
Fortunately, things turned around pretty quickly. When “Me Before You” was published in the U.S. in January 2013, the New York Times Sunday Book Review gave the novel a rave review. Suddenly, Moyes had calls from a dozen producers interested in turning her book into a movie.
She went with the partnership of Warner Bros. and MGM, which together are releasing the film June 3. And then Karen Rosenfelt, a producer on the project, asked Moyes if she’d ever considered writing the screenplay herself — a prospect the writer had assumed “would be the studio’s worst nightmare.”
So she began to entertain the idea, giving herself a crash-course in screenwriting. She went online and started reading the scripts of all the films she loved — everything from “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” to “Alien.” Her varied writing background helped too: Not only did Moyes have almost a dozen books under her belt at the time but she’d also spent years working as a journalist. Until 2000, Moyes was a reporter at the British newspaper the Independent, where she’d covered the death of Princess Diana and sectarian violence in Belfast.
“I ended up loving the process and went on set every day,” said the writer, who is married to a journalist and has three children. “My favorite thing was punching up the scenes with the director. It was a bit like being in a newsroom, with all the adrenaline and camaraderie.”
Moyes took to screenwriting so well that she’s already adapted another of her novels, “One Plus One.” Still, the impending release of “Me Before You” is keeping her up nights. It’s “far scarier,” she said to release a movie than a book — fans have expectations, there’s more money at stake and, of course, at least 70% of the audience has to cry.
“This book — more than any of my books — is important to me because it’s the book that changed my life,” she said. “And I’m the parent of a disabled child. What I want to convey with the story is that a disability is the least important part of a person. You can fall in love with them, be irritated by them, laugh with them — what someone is physically able to do should be unimportant.”
Me Before You
Directed by: Thea Sharrock
Starring: Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Janet McTeer, Charles Dance, Brendan Coyle, Matthew Lewis, Jenna Coleman, Charles Dance, Vanessa Kirby, Brendan Coyle
Screenplay by: Jojo Moyes
Production Design by: Andrew McAlpine
Cinematography by: Remi Adefarasin
Film Editing by: John Wilson
Costume Design by: Jill Taylor
Set Decoration by: Sara Wan
Music by: Craig Armstrong
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements and some suggestive material.
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: June 3, 2016
Related Link: View the Full Production Notes for Me Before You
Hawks versus doves doesn’t sound like a fair fight. Doves coo and eat seeds. Hawks screech and eat doves. But in the parlance of the bond market, the doves are winning.
To be hawkish in Fed-speak refers to one who supports the idea of higher interest rates. Doves, meantime, are comfortable keeping rates where they are. When the Federal Reserve’s interest rate-setting committee meets for two days in the week ahead it is widely expected not to change rates. That’s one for the doves.
It was only four months ago when the central bank was predicted to be more hawkish and was expected to raise interest rates by one percent over the course of this year. A third of the way through the year and that prediction has been cut in half. Hawks have been roosting while the doves take flight.
In the past week, some in the Federal Reserve have tried to hunt down the doves. The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Eric Rosengren, who will help decide the fate of the Fed’s key interest rate this coming week, called a gradual increase to rates “absolutely appropriate” and warned that market expectations are too soft. And Rosengren himself has been one of the doves.
Bond investors remain unconvinced the hawks are gathering. The interest rate on the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond isn’t too far off a five-year low. These investors need to listen closely Wednesday when the Fed announces its latest decision to hear if hawks are gathering on the horizon.
Despite all the hype surrounding the epic superhero showdown in Batman v Superman, some of the film’s biggest praise actually ended up being for Wonder Woman. Even as early as the first trailer, viewers were excited about the chance to see the Amazon princess on the big screen at last.
Then, after witnessing her in action in the film, fans were left clamoring for even more of the warrior princess. Well, those viewers are in luck because a solo Wonder Woman film is the process of filming for release in 2017. Directed by Patty Jenkins (Monster) from a screenplay by Jason Fuchs (Pan), Gal Gadot returns to fill that leather outfit, alongside Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, Lucy Davis as Diana’s best.
Some new images from the Facebook page of the Italian tour company Informazioni Turistiche show the Amazon queen riding on horseback around the city-state.
The Wonder Woman standalone film is said to be an origin story that will follow the transformation of a young Princess Diana into her alter ego Diana Prince and finally into Wonder Woman. It’ll take fans from her humble beginnings on Themiscyra to her life during World War I and possibly even beyond. In doing so, we’ll get to meet the tribe of warrior women named the Amazons, native to Themiscyra (a.k.a. Paradise Island). Chief among them is Queen Hippolyta, who is also Princess Diana’s mother.
In the comics, Hippolyta is usually dark-haired just like her famous daughter. Yet more recently in the New 52 relaunch she has become more youthful and blonde. Taking a page from their continuity, the upcoming Wonder Woman film seems to have decided to keep Hippolyta’s edgy new status.
As seen in the set photos, the queen and horse’s armor are quite a sight to behold, decked out in gold with an air of royalty. The horse in particular seems to be almost glowing white, giving it an otherworldly quality. We’ve previously seen a promotional cast photo of all the Amazon women, but it didn’t do Queen Hippolyta’s full costume justice.
Principal photography should be wrapping up in Marina di Camerota, Italy. That may be a wrap for Wonder Woman, especially since Justice League Part One is greaing up to begin production. It’s right back to work for Gadot as she joins her fellow superheroes at Leavesden Studios in London, then Iceland and Scotland for the following film in Warner Bros. Pictures’ DC Extended Universe slate.
She drops a new album as her musical extravaganza airs on HBO, but also triggers speculation about her marriage to Jay Z.
Pop superstar Beyonce released a musically diverse new album in the form of a film as she paid a bold tribute to the perseverance of African American women.
“Lemonade” was advertised only as a special on cable network HBO but, in a move anticipated by her passionate fan base, she dropped an album by the same name in the middle of the broadcast.
The “visual-album” marks the second straight work in which the 34-year-old pop queen has experimented with merging formats – which could also include social media, where “Lemonade” quickly became a top trending topic.
The film, crafted through the album’s songs and verse from the Somali-British poet Warsan Shire against a Southern Gothic backdrop, follows Beyonce’s emotional journey as she tackles infidelity but also the larger experience of African American women.
Beyonce’s sixth studio album brings in a range of musical all-stars, with “Don’t Hurt Yourself” co-written by members of Led Zeppelin and the most anthem-like track, “Freedom,” featuring acclaimed rapper Kendrick Lamar.
The movie opens with accusations of betrayal as Beyonce struts across New Orleans, smashing up cars as she rages against the sexual transgressions of her partner.
“You ain’t married to no average bitch, boy,” she proclaims on “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” performed with garage rocker Jack White.
“This is your final warning / You know I give you life,” Beyonce sings, warning that if her husband’s infidelity does not end, “you’re gonna lose your wife.”
Making most with ‘lemons’
The subject matter immediately triggered a fury of speculation on social media that “Lemonade” was an artistic announcement of separation from her real-life husband, rap mogul Jay-Z.
But toward the end of the film, Beyonce heads into a chapter entitled “Forgiveness” as she is seen embracing a sullen Jay-Z, whose best-known songs before his 2008 marriage included “Big Pimpin’.”
In further evidence that they are still together, Beyonce released the album of “Lemonade” exclusively on the Tidal streaming service led by Jay-Z.
Beyonce, who appears alongside African American women throughout the film, draws the theme of “Lemonade” early on with a snippet from late civil rights leader Malcolm X, who says: “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman.”
But their pain, in “Lemonade,” is not just about infidelity. In one of its film’s most powerful moments, the camera turns without comment to the mothers of three young African American men – Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Trayvon Martin – whose deaths have triggered nationwide outrage, as the women lovingly clutch their son’s pictures.
Beyonce reinforces the maternal theme with a snippet from her own late grandmother, Agnez Dereon, who says: “I had my ups and downs but I always find the inner strength to pull myself up.”
“I was served lemons, but I made lemonade,” she says.
Branching out musically
Beyonce – who became a superstar on innocuous songs such as “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” – startled many listeners in February when she put out the first “Lemonade” single, “Formation,” whose video takes the mantle of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Formation” – which appears only in the closing credits of the “Lemonade” film – shows Beyonce’s increasingly diverse musical instincts with the song driven by New Orleans-style bounce hip-hop.
Beyonce wrote two songs on “Lemonade” with Diplo, the Los Angeles electronic producer who has crafted Justin Bieber’s new sound, and even fuses in touches of country, as well as New Orleans jazz, on “Daddy Lessons.”
The pop star also tapped The Weeknd and Father John Misty, sensations in R&B and indie rock respectively, and adapts a chorus from punk revivalists the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Yet she also returns to the big-hearted ballads for which she is renowned on “Sandcastles,” written with the Chicago poet Malik Yusef.
“Lemonade” is Beyonce’s first full-length album since her self-titled release in late 2013.
The “Beyonce” album also incorporated a strong visual component, with short films to accompany the music.
But the theme of the 2013 album was far different, as it dealt with passion and monogamy, with the song “Drunk In Love” an ode to marital bliss sung in duet with Jay-Z.