HBO Max Original: UNPregnant Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

UNpregnant is one of the best films of the year! It is a buddy comedy, that rekindles the relationship between two former best friends, Veronica (Haley Lu Richardson) and Bailey (Barbie Ferreira), as they journey across state lines to get an abortion. It is adapted from the novel, under the same name, written by Jenni Hendriks.

First of all, this film is incredibly important because of how informative it is on the topic of abortion. In previous films or television shows, the topic of abortion has always been this difficult thing to openly talk about. The right measures are usually never taken and it is always shown in a negative light. UNpregnant addresses all these unanswered questions and brings them to the forefront, all while adding a very humorous duo to keep the balance.

This is THE coming of age film that no one saw coming. Haley Lu Richardson and Barbie Ferreira were dynamite together! They complimented each other so well and I really appreciated that they were both unapologetically themselves. Veronica and Bailey acknowledged their flaws and toxic traits but embraced who they were, which was great to see. What I really enjoyed was the exploration into each of their backstories and how they became separated from each other in high school.

The film had great pacing and there was never a dull moment because they continued to reveal small pieces of their friendship puzzle, throughout the film. On their journey to Albuquerque for the abortion, they meet some funny characters who end up helping them along the way. Veronica and Bailey also grow to understand the other a bit more and realize that their friendship holds more value than they remembered.

Courtesy of Berlanti Productions, HBO Films and Picturestart
(left) Barbie Ferreira and Haley Lu Richardson

The most important scene in this film is the entire abortion clinic sequence. It is done in such a tasteful manner because of the wonderful writing and direction from these two women, Jenni Hendriks and Rachel Lee Goldenberg. The right to choose and having the proper information are both incredibly important. I appreciated the fact that they created a safe, dreamlike space, to go through the entire process with Veronica.

UNpregnant is a totally fun, raunchy, and heartwarming coming of age film. This film will most definitely be discussed for its boldness, but timely position, on the topic of abortion. It is addressed in such a lighthearted way that the emotional moments are placed perfectly in the film, to rope you back into the reality of the situation. Haley Lu Richardson and Barbie Ferreira are definitely the duo of the year!

Make sure to catch UNpregnant on HBO Max September 10th!

The Snyder Cut Journey & What We Can Expect

Since 2015, the road for Zack Snyder and DCEU fans has been a rocky one. The one moment in Hall H, when the Batman v Superman trailer came on and everyone went nuts, was the moment that changed the hype level for this franchise. However, after the release of the film, things took a turn for the worse.

The criticism for Batman v Superman hit the fan base hard and for many years, they had to defend Zack Snyder and his film. 4 years later the film is still very much divisive and constantly raises a negative discourse online. After Warner Brothers took the damage from Batman v Supermantheir next film, Suicide Squad, also faced harsh criticism online from everyone. The DCEU franchise has not had a very easy entry into the world of comic book films but the fans still had faith in Zack Snyder to deliver with Justice League.

PRE JUSTICE LEAGUE RELEASE

As they were filming Justice League, Zack Snyder would post updates on his Vero account, with storyboards, still pictures and behind the scene photos. In March 2017, it was reported by ‘The Hollywood Reporter’ that Zack and Deborah Snyder experienced a tragedy in their family, as their daughter, Autumn passed away from a suicide. It was rumoured, that Zack wanted to finish Justice League and asked Warner Brothers to postpone filming, but they refused and hired Joss Whedon to finish the film. Zack Snyder stepped down from his own film, to be with his family, as his work was slowly chopped up and left on the cutting room floor.

Joss Whedon stepped in and only used 10% of the Zack Snyder’s footage, which was already completed. The rest of the film was reworked and rewritten to fit Whedon’s vision of Justice League, which was released under Zack Snyder’s name for the final result. Joss Whedon had removed the heart of the Justice League, in his rewrite, as Ray Fisher’s Cyborg, was cast aside and given a much smaller role, as was intended. Whedon added a Russian family in the third act, which was apparently more important than the team development.

POST JUSTICE LEAGUE RELEASE

Fans could tell the difference from the very first Justice League trailer, which was all Zack Snyder’s footage, versus Joss Whedon’s version. The lighting was off, the atmosphere felt different, the humour was not the dark sarcasm, we were accustomed to in Man of Steel or Batman v Superman. It was a completely different film.

“Sources say “Justice League” reshoots have been used to punch up the dialogue. Whedon, the director of “The Avengers,” is well respected for his ability to create memorably wry exchanges between his characters.” – Justin Kroll, Brett Lang for Variety

The fans were skeptical with Joss Whedon’s vision because Zack Snyder’s vision, for the DCEU, was extremely different, than what the MCU had to offer and that was never seen as a bad thing. Whedon’s choices were very interesting and did not really capture the same essence that Zack Snyder had already put in place, in the previous two instalments of his Superman story arc. Majority of the final product felt forced and extremely rushed, leaving Warner Brothers with another bust at the box office. Justice League earned $228 million domestic and $656 million worldwide, as reported by Forbes’ it cost Warner Brothers more money to make it, than  it brought in.

This collage shows the differences from Zack Snyder’s film versus Joss Whedon’s reshoots.

ZSJL reshoots

Source: @Deven_Wagner on Twitter

 

The social platform ‘Vero’ is something Zack Snyder used throughout his journey on Justice League. In the early stages when Warner Brothers asked him to cut down his runtime.

ZSJL early vero

Source: Zack Snyder’s Vero Account

As Zack Snyder continued answering fan questions on his Vero people began to question what actually happened with Warner Brothers and Justice League. Zack did not watch Joss Whedon’s film, he stayed away from everything after he was forced to give up his film.

Exhibit A: Fans Asking Questions About Joss Whedon’s Cut of Justice League 

ZSJL 2 Vero

Source: Zack Snyder’s Vero Account

Exhibit B: Zack Snyder Posting His Scene of Cyborg and His Family 

ZSJL 4 Vero

Source: Zack Snyder’s Vero Account

Exhibit C: A Photo of Uxas Which Was NOT Used in Whedon’s Cut 

ZSJL 3 Vero

Source: Zack Snyder’s Vero Account

 

#ReleaseTheSnyderCut Movement 

On January 7th, the attention for #ReleaseTheSnyderCut gained a new momentum. Fans of the Snyder Cut stood outside the Warner Brothers Headquarters with a #ReleaseTheSnyderCut sign, showing them that fans do care about Zack Snyder’s full vision.

Screen Shot 2020-07-28 at 2.31.58 PM

Source @BatmanNewsCom on Twitter

After this, the movement became stronger and fans of Zack Snyder continued to press on social media that his cut existed and was, in fact, real. There were multiple sources confirming and reassuring all of us that there was a cut and it would come out in due time. The hashtag went viral and the fans kept pushing for 4 years. It wasn’t until Zack Snyder posted this image on his Vero that fans really pushed the envelope on the movement.

ZSJL 1 Vero

Source: Zack Snyder’s Vero Account

Zack Snyder showed fans the film reels of his original 214 minute cut that he has kept with him. It is real and it does exist. During all of this, there was also merchandise that was sold through Ink To The People that fans purchased to support the Snyder Cut and all proceeds went to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The fans were so incredibly dedicated to making sure that Zack Snyder’s full vision would be seen in whatever form because of the poor circumstances that caused him to step back. The fans believed that it was mishandled and that he deserved justice.

On the March 27th, 2020, the 4th Anniversary of the often divisive Batman v Superman, Zack hosted a watch party on Vero and that night, something very unexpected happened. It was the day that united the whole cast of Justice League, which made for a very emotional evening. Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck all used the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut hashtag on their social platforms.

Ben RTSCGal RTSCJason rtscRay RTSC

Shortly after, the hashtag grew stronger and continued to be the Number 1 trending topic for a couple of days. Fans continued to push and they started questioning when the official drop would be. The rumours began to swirl, claiming that Zack was going to strike a deal with HBO Max. Zack then wanted to host a Man of Steel watch party to restore some hope in the world.

Screen Shot 2020-07-28 at 3.40.36 PM

Many people tuned in because there was a rumoured surprise at the end of the watch party. People claimed that Zack had some information on the Snyder Cut that he would share with us. He shared his storyboards and gave running commentary about the details he used in Man of Steel and then his wife, and executive producer Deborah Snyder, came and joined the party. After the film was over, Zack invited fans to ask questions on his Vero but what they did not expect, was Superman himself making an appearance. Henry Cavill showed up in his famous blue tank top and helped Zack Snyder reveal the official HBO Max poster for Zack Snyder’s Justice League’. There is no set date but it will be coming out in 2021.

JL official

Source: Warner Brothers and HBO Max

Love Letter To DCEU Fans

Zack Snyder’s Justice League Teaser Trailer 

 

JUSTICE CON & DC FANDOME 

Justice Con is a fanmade event, created by three, very dedicated women on Twitter and YouTube, @TheNerdQueens and @ya_girlmeg/Wonder Meg on both platforms.

Justice-Con-Logo-Featured

The con was a complete success and it was filled with so much positivity during those 2 days! Ray Fisher had his own panel and discussed Cyborg’s arc in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, he also addressed the alleged toxicity on set, with Joss Whedon in the director’s chair. Towards the end of his panel, Zack Snyder jumped in and the views skyrocketed. Fans loved seeing Zack and Ray interact on the livestream!

Right after, Zack Snyder had his panel and taught the fans about aspect ratios because he is using a different aspect ratio for the Snyder Cut. Zack also revealed a new t-shirt in honour of his daughter Autumn and his dedicated fanbase.

zs ap

It will be released over at Ink To The People and all proceeds will go to The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  Zack didn’t stop there, he gave us a short, 20 second clip of something fans have been waiting for. This little teaser got everyone excited for what we could expect at DC Fandome!

You can expect a darker version of Justice League with Victor Stone at the center of the story. Zack Snyder always intended to have Cyborg as the heart of Justice League and there are plenty of more scenes with him at the forefront. There are possible Martian Manhunter scenes, more of J.K. Simmons Commissioner Gordon, a first look at Ryan Choi (Atom) working in Star Labs with Silas Stone and a possible Green Lantern cameo!

What we do know is that we are getting a full Zack Snyder’s Justice League trailer on August 22nd. So get your accounts ready, go schedule your panels and get ready to enter…. the SNYDERVERSE!

An American Pickle Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

An American Pickle is based on the short story named ‘Sell Out’ written by Simon Rich, which was published in the ‘New York Times’. It begins as an immigrant story, as pickle factory worker, Herschel Greenbaum (Seth Rogen) retells his journey to New York City. It is a heartfelt tale, about generational differences and how traditional values are interpreted in the current social climate. Brandon Trost’s directorial debut is a lot of fun, very stylized and wholesome.

The social commentary and the political correctness mixed with old ideologies, set up for a very humorous and entertaining film. It was also important to show Herschel’s journey, as a Jewish man, who was so connected to his faith and his family. It seemed as the film went on and he met Ben Greenbaum (Seth Rogen), the link to those family values were broken. Herschel and Ben learned a lot from each other, even though they were 100 years apart.

The dual role that is played by Seth Rogen is really well done. There was a lot of though that went into these characters and their backstories. The film was at its strongest when they were together and playing off each other. It is one of Seth Rogen’s best performances because of how distinct he made both characters. He kept the accent for Herschel throughout and his mannerisms were even very traditional. It was a far fetched concept but the connectivity between Herschel and Ben was the heart of this piece.

The social commentary is really effective because they presented a fight with outdated ideologies. Herschel ended up being praised for his freedom of speech, which is something we see a lot of with this generation, even if they are completely absurd. The way Simon Rich presented the current climate with Herschel at the forefront, attempting to attain the American Dream in a different era, was refreshing. It also expressed the different perceptions of family values in two vastly different lifestyles.

An American Pickle is such a sweet film about family, hard work and heritage. It was funny, informative and definitely educational. To see both era’s come together and clearly understand how much has changed in 100 years was important. It seems as if people have lost certain values and this film presents them in a new way. The most wonderful thing about this film was the way it presented the human connection, in all its messiness and its unity. Seth Rogen never misses and he continues to make great content.

 

 

Bad Education Review


By: Amanda Guarragi 

Cory Finley’s sophomore film, Bad Education is based off a real scandal that took place at the Roslyn school district in Long Island, New York. The Long Island superintendent Dr. Frank Tassone (Hugh Jackman) and his assistant Pam Gluckin (Allison Janney) are credited with bringing prestige to Roslyn. Finley’s masterfully directs this piece with precision and does not miss a beat when telling this story. The film shows fraudulent activity in the school system, while deconstructing the lives of these administrators.

Finley opens the film with Frank Tassone preparing to make his debut at the Roslyn school district. He walks through the halls and makes his way to the auditorium, where Big Bob Spicer (Ray Romano) introduces him. The moment we first see Frank, we get a sense that he’s going to do some good for this school district, his presence is inviting and he has a calm demeanor. As the story unfolds, we notice that Tassone is dedicated to make the school a better place for the children and wants to get feedback from the children. We see that Tassone’s friendship with Pam Gluckin is genuine and they have known each other for a long time. Finley plays off of subtleties on screen and allows the audience to calculate the subtext instead of spelling things out for them. I think that’s one of the reason’s he’s one of the most exciting directors working today.

He also chose to bookend the film and he did it by using the same sequence at the beginning of the film. The only difference is that Finley had Tassone walk out of a jail cell and up to the auditorium stage. In this moment, everything came full circle but his emotional connection to that memory has changed. Instead of feeling honoured that all these people were excited to have him in their school district, a wave of sadness came over him as he looked out into the crowd. In that moment, it felt like Tassone was trying to understand how it all started and why he did what he did. Hugh Jackman gave a fantastic performance and that final shot of him unleashing his pain was great. Life definitely throws curveballs and everyone wonders about the decisions they’ve made and if they’re the right ones.

Frank Tassone was also leading a double life and as the film went on, we begin to understand the life he had chosen to lead. Frank was very secretive and presented himself in the way he wanted others to see him. The same goes with Pam Gluckin, she had struggled in her own life with her family but with the way she carried herself, you couldn’t tell that anything was wrong. Allison Janney also gives another stellar performance alongside Hugh Jackman and their chemistry was very strong. The one thing that we can take away from this film, is that there are no bad people, just bad decisions based off of opportunity.

Bad Education is well written and executed with such finesse from Cory Finley. He has such a distinct eye when it comes to diving deep into the soul of his characters. It’s filled with dark humour, electric performances and leaves you thinking about how the education system can be flawed. Everyone can start out wanting to do the right thing, they would go to school and see what interests them enough to eventually pursue a career in that field. However, life does get in the way and opportunity and greed are things that often trump linear decisions.