CAPTAIN AMERICA-CIVIL WAR IS AS GOOD AS IT GETS

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IT’S ON! Captain America’s toughest challenge to date is….uh, Iron Man? Yes, strap up for this one because I assure you that all hell will break loose.

By Tony C. Lesesne

 

The big debate on social media this week and for the next month or so is which side are you on in the battle between #TeamIronMan (Iron Man) and #teamcap (Captain America). That debate will likely catch fire when CAPTAIN AMERICA – CIVIL WAR hits theaters this weekend. Now before we get into the epic battle, let’s briefly explore that whole Cap vs Iron Man issue. No, I’m not going to give you any spoilers because that would suck. Besides, you guys have insisted that I learn how to write brief, concise reviews without giving away the critical essence of a film. Anyhow, the trailers alone get pretty close to spoiling everything.Captain-America-Civil-War-1-705x435

Here’s the deal. I saw the film and I’m telling you right up from that this is one of the best super hero films I’ve ever witnessed. Really! Here’s why; at the heart of the story is a powerful expose on friendship, loyalty, patriotism, political relevance, and revenge. All of these elements make for a great deal of emotion, passion, anxiety and ferocity. These are the elements that turn friends into rivals and change the course of one’s very core when a conflict is introduced. Trust me on this, the conflict are epic as well. The coolest thing about the film that helps us all stay in the moment is the fact that it kinda picks up from the previous Captain America films – especially the conflict centering on the relationship between Steve Rogers (Captain America) and Bucky, his childhood friend and loyal savior now called The Winter Soldier.

From a character standpoint, the two opposing leaders of the opposing sides are clearly Captain America and Iron Man. Let’s start with Captain America – who is as clean-cut and focused as ever, showing that he’s the kind of guy you want as a loyal friend for life. Captain-America-Civil-War (1)It pays dividends. I mean he’s so wholesome, and patriotic, and basically just a pretty cool guy so it’s easy to love “Cap” and what he stands for. Just when you enjoy his “nice guy” demeanor, he turns around and totally pulverizes the enemy is a way that makes you go DAYUM! Besides that, don’t forget that he’s a phenomenal military strategist with a mind for battlefield excellence and natural leadership abilities far beyond the norm.

And then there’s the charming, witty, super-cool hyper geek turned war technician we affectionately know as Tony Stark AKA Iron Man. Really, who can resist the charm, sarcasm and brilliance of Tony Stark. more-captain-america-civil-war-trailer-breakdown-740992Stark is in full bloom in this film and we see him at his best and at his worst. In the film, we get a better understanding of the inner drive that shapes his perspective and reveals a segment of his character flaws from a clip highlighting his early years as a college student. The clip also exposes the tragedy that forces Stark to elevate his game. It’s a fascinating study in character development.

5-reasons-black-panther-will-be-your-favorite-character-in-captain-america-civil-war-915210And then, there is the introduction of Black Panther; a brilliant and fascinating addition that adds more flavor and electricity to the entire story line. He was the scene-stealer showcasing a level of elegance, dignity, style and fierceness.
Black Panther is the first black superhero in comic book history and is skillfully played by the incredible Chadwick Boseman. Chadwick-Boseman-T-Challa-Black-Panther-Captain-America-Civil-WarHis out of uniform character is T’Challa, the prince of fictional African country Wakanda who moonlights as a warrior hero (Black Panther).

The rest of the Avengers are in top form, each of which bring a level of comic relief and kick-ass thunder and lightning to the table. 24671823201_b4d4198716_bAdd to that a powerful element in the story that threatens to rip the very core of their alliance right from the start. All In by saying this, you won’t ever see a more dazzling fight scene sequence then you see in this movie. I mean from start to finish the fight scenes I just simply spectacular. But beyond that there is an incredible achievement from the writers to be able to pack this many characters and one story and still give each of them volume, substance, and a heart that we can follow.

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NATPE Miami 2016 Update

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Perth is eager for the 2016 NATPE

NATPE President and CEO Rod Perth announced today, details regarding NATPE Miami 2016. Growth remains the dominant theme with domestic and international buyer, exhibitor and general attendance pacing well ahead of last year. Perth confirmed expansion of the market and conference to the Eden Roc Miami Beach Resort to accommodate the overall growth, which is scheduled to take place in Miami ‪Jan. 19-21 at both the Fontainebleau and Eden Roc Miami Beach resorts. The conference and market will bring together every sector of the industry under the banner theme, “Be Creative. Be Fearless. Be Ready.”

Perth also announced the finalists for the 2nd Annual Breakthrough Awards and the return of host Howie Mandel. Initial session details for NATPE 2016 were also revealed.

“We are delighted that with all of our most important numbers tracking ahead of last year’s capacity turnout, we have moved to substantially increase our physical space in 2016 by expanding to the Eden Roc next door to the Fontainebleau,” said NATPE President and CEO, Rod Perth. “The increase in exhibition sales and expanded events reflects the tremendous growth we are seeing throughout the conference.”

There are 29 new exhibitors from virtually every sector of the business attending the conference for the first time. Because of this demand, Perth also noted that all of the Fontainebleau tower suites have sold out with very few booths and meeting tables still available on both the Market Floor and within the Fontaine Ballroom, respectively.

This year’s conference features sessions and events with a focus on scripted television, including a session on the first day titled “The Business of Scripted.”  Within the Storytellers and Shaping of Pop Culture track, NATPE has lined-up a slate of intimate conversations showcasing major creative forces spanning numerous genres of television. Powerful combinations set to take the stage in Miami this year include chats with: Legends Norman Lear and Quincy Jones; non-scripted talents Kris Jenner and Todd Chrisley; showrunners Graham Yost (The Americans), John Eisendrath (The Blacklist) and Howard Gordon (Homeland); and Michelle Ashford (Showrunner, Masters of Sex), Ilene Chaiken (Showrunner, Empire), and Sarah Treem (Creator, The Affair).

In an environment in which advertisers are seeking access to the earliest stages of content development, the Masters of Marketing track at NATPE opens up the conversation about the opportunities, challenges and new business models around marrying creative visions with brand marketing objectives. An example of this includes a session entitled “What Creators Want to Say, What Brands Need to See”, which features Dan Harmon (Writer/Creator, Community), Marc Cherry (Executive Producer, Desperate Housewives and Devious Maids), Mitch Hurwitz (Writer/Producer, Arrested Development), Kristin Patrick (Global CMO, PepsiCo, Inc.), David Beebe (VP Global Creative & Content Marketing, Marriott Int’l) and more, together on one stage.
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After a successful debut last year, NATPE REALITY is back and expanding from one to two days. Officially the first reality and formats market of the year, NATPE REALITY will be the epicenter of the non-scripted world with a programming track overflowing with big names and breakthrough ideas. NATPE has curated this dedicated track to provide conference attendees with access to reality executives, cutting edge information and insights on the latest trends in reality programming.

A highlight of this two-day track is the 2nd Annual NATPE REALITY Breakthrough Awards.  This luncheon event will honor those reality programs that “broke through the clutter and made noise” in the preceding year becoming part of the cultural conversation and generally altering our perception of what’s possible in the genre. Perth also announced Howie Mandel (America’s Got Talent) as the returning host of the award show along with the following finalists in five categories:

COMPETITION – Alone; American Ninja Warrior; Lip Sync Battle; MasterChef Junior; Shark Tank; The Voice

DOCUSOAP – Alaskan Bush People; Chrisley Knows Best; I Am Cait; Real Housewives of Beverly Hills; Vanderpump Rules; Wahlburgers  

GAME SHOW – @Midnight; Billy On The Street; Celebrity Family Feud; Hellevator; Hollywood Game Night

REALITY – Catfish; Hard Knocks; Married At First Sight; Naked & Afraid; Project Greenlight

FACTUAL – Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown; Last Week Tonight With John Oliver; The Daily Show; The Jinx; Vice

Platforms are changing and NATPE continues to provide access to the shared knowledge needed to anticipate how the industry is evolving.  One of the many highlights of the Platform Accelerated track is the session “I Want What They’re Having,” featuring Chris Williams (Chief Audience Officer, Maker Studios), Chris Jacquemin (Agent, Digital Media, WME), Jordan Gilbert (Head of Digital Programming, Lionsgate) and Harley Morenstein (Creator, Epic Meal Time). The panel will bring together this accomplished group to discuss how to bridge the divide between traditional and digital in views, audience appeal and gravitas.

NATPE’s continued emphasis on digital and mobile has expanded to include a broader focus across the conference. In the Game Changers track, digital is on display in “The Rise of New OTT Platforms” with David Freeman (Co-Head of Digital Talent, Packaging, CAA),Seth Laderman (EVP & GM, Comic Con SVOD, Lionsgate), Evan Shapiro (Executive VP, Digital Enterprises, NBCUniversal), Jimmy Maymann (President, Content & Consumer Brands, AOL), Floris Bauer (Senior Advisor, Otter Media) and Ben Relles (Head of Comedy and Unscripted, YouTube).

One of the ways NATPE will address the importance of mobile in the content business includes the session “Cracking the Mobile Code and Its Perceived Return on Investment”, which features Marcel Reichart (EVP RTL Digital Hub, RTL Group, and EVP, Digital Development and Partnerships, Bertelsmann), Allie Kline (CMO, AOL), and Tom Pickett (CEO of Ellation/AT&T), for a sharply focused look into the future of mobile monetization.

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LEGEND is Tom Hardy’s Tour de Force

Film Title: Legend

(L to R, center) Ronnie and Reggie Kray (TOM HARDY) raise a glass at their mother?s home in ?Legend?. From Academy Award? winner Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential, Mystic River) and Working Title comes the true story of the rise and fall of London?s most notorious gangsters, both portrayed by Hardy in a powerhouse double performance.

legend-posterFilm Review by T.C. Lesesne

Fat chance anybody has ever heard of the Kray brothers. The British outlaws were bigger than life, and ruthless to the core, and yet captured the fancy of London’s high society as club owners and hosts of lavish entertainment events that attracted some of London’s most respected politicians and celebrities on the 1950’s and 60’s.

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ONE AND THE SAME: yet so different – Tom Hardy as both Ronnie (left) and Reggie Kray (right)

The trailer alone for LEGEND got my attention strictly due to the awesome look, style and bold statement revealing that Tom Hardy, just off the monster success of the 2015 mega-hit MAD MAX FURY ROAD.

With LEGEND, the dynamics are amazing and the tone is sizzling. The soundtrack is classic, and the performances are absolutely on point, especially that of Tom Hardy who got my attention with a fabulous performance in the last installment of The dynamics are amazing.

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The REAL Kray brothers – Reggie (left) and Ronnie (right) Photos by Getty Images

The soundtrack is classic, and the performances are absolutely on point, Legend comes the theaters with lots of height and expectation, and even more anticipation at the opportunity to watch Tom Hardy portray both Reginald and Ronnie Kray, the notorious  British gangsters who rose to fame and fell hard  in the 60s.

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Smooth but violent- both brothers (both player by Hardy) were equally lethal, yet inexplicably fascinating – hence a movie about them

Legend is a beautiful is shot highly stylized gangster film set in the 60’s in the East End of London and captures the rise of twin brothers Reggie, the handsome and socially sophisticated entertainer and club owner, who is also a ruthless and brutal gangster who cares deeply about his own neighborhood. Then there’s Ronnie, the psychopathic, mentally ill, murderous twin who has plenty of corks and issues that he deals with as intelligently as he can while his mental health deteriorates in his rise to power.

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in spite of a few plot holes, LEGEND is all the more fun to watch when both brothers are on screen together- supported by the magic of movies, hardy is able to work with…himself

The two brothers are inseparable and totally devoted to one another in spite of the collision course that their actions, personalities and crimes bring them head to head.

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Making a point: Ronnie Kray shows that action speaks louder than words in a bold and unexpected action a scene from LEGEND

The film also exposes another love story deeper than that of the two brothers. It is a passionate yet toxic love relationship between Reggie and the gorgeous young Francis, a girl from the East End hood and sister to one of the mobsters who work for Reggie. Their story often dominates the film as it helps reflect the gradual downfall and mental decline of both of them due to the stress of their lifestyle in crime and club-life.

Kudos to LEGEND director Brian Helgeland for capturing the look feel and style of the 60s while managing to keep the film balanced.

Film Title: Legend

Academy Award? winner BRIAN HELGELAND (L.A. Confidential, Mystic River) on the set of ?Legend?. From writer/director Helgeland and Working Title comes the true story of the rise and fall of London?s most notorious gangsters, Reggie and Ronnie Kray, both portrayed by Tom Hardy in a powerhouse double performance.

Kudos to the cast as well, pacifically to Tom Hardy who was able to provide a straight ahead yet compassionate performance of both brothers, in spite of their psychopathic, criminal and murderous intentions. This film is certainly a must see for your 2015 end of year film list.

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Miami Urban Music and Film Festival featuring breakout hip hop & Soul Talent

Razor brings his stylish but hard hitting talents to the MUMFF

Razor brings his stylish but hard hitting talents to the MUMFF

The Miami Urban Music and Film Festival is proud to showcase an impressive lineup (that’s continuously growing) of emerging south Florida talent on September 25th and 26th. Miami artist “Razor”  is a velvet-voiced R&B singer poised to take the stage along with 18 year old  Hip hop sensation “Don Juan.”   Also in the lineup  is “K-Bo” who brings a unique perspective to URBAN hip hop.

The Miami urban music and film festival is a grassroots effort  to bring Miami based  musical talent, producers,  film makers various other creatives before new audiences. Bringing all these groups together to form support networks and shared resources.  The event and subsequently planned activities throughout the year aim to fortify  a viable sustainable economy and successful  culture.

18 year-old Miami phenom Don Juan won over the MUMFF  organizers .

18 year-old Miami phenom Don Juan won over the MUMFF organizers .

These artists have registered, auditioned, and shown that they are ready  to step up the game. “They are delivering music that is  raw, and honest and that’s what we’re looking for” said Tony C. Lesesne, who us one-of the producers of the MUMFF. “They are young so they’ve got so much potential that we feel with the right level of consistency, they have a shot at success on a national and even international level.”
MUMFF organizers said supporters and advocates of the MUMFF  have lots of ways to stay connected. Lesesne Media Group Entertainment will sponsor media outreach, video interviews and media releases that will appear on its web channel (www.lesesnemediagroup.com) .

Stay up to date with the MUMFF each day on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube

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STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON – an instant cassic

11800482_917211135011947_8129127646553427858_nby Tony C. Lesesne

Straight outta Compton is charting a record-setting path by hitting the #1 spot two weeks in a row. Personally I must say that having kept up with the group in N.W.A. with great fascination, I was also eagerly anticipating the release of this film, and was very excited to catch the early screening of the film. I’ll tell you now that I will not provide you any spoilers that will ruin any part of the film. What I will do is examine the elements that make a film a hit, or a bomb as best I can.

THE STORY/SCRIPT – We all know that there was far too much drama, excitement, and tragedy to go around with each of the individuals involved with N.W.A. FROM 1986 to 1991 and beyond to try to pack into a two hour film. 11813334_915041315228929_4968207816632537956_nBut the script was outstanding for a number of reasons. Right from the start we see that this is a film that is a period piece, and a slice of musical history. Its also a coming of age story that captures a time in Los Angeles, and America when gang violence and drugs, race relations, hip hop music, and police brutality came together for a toxic mix that helped shape each of the members of NWA.  It’s exciting to see the story that effectively blends documentary realism with the true-to-life members in a balanced well organized fashion. The script moved quickly and captured the rise of this group and some of the tragic and dramatic turns that we often read about in the news, or saw tv coverage on MTV.

THE ACTING – For this film become effective, the actors have to look and play the part of some of hip-hop’s greatest icons. That’s a tall order and I must say that the task was achieved far beyond my expectations. Specifically Ice Cube’s son O’Shea Jackson Jr. who truly rose to the occasion in such a way that it was hard to tell the difference between the two. Other notable performances included the lead actor Jason Mitchell who portrayed Eazy E as a gangsta with charisma, style, bravado and yet vulnerable. 11794167_914918138574580_6288103470061940906_oAlso notable was R. Marcos Taylor, the actor who portrayed the notorious and infamous Suge Knight. Not only did he look the part but he was menacing and charming, crazy and volatile. So the acting was absolutely on the money.

THE MUSIC – All I can say is it crushed. Nothing more to say there.

THE SETTING & TONE- Yes indeed the film captured the essence of a group that gave voice to inner-city black America. It was a voice that horrified many, and forced some to even try to ben them, or force them to censor their shows.  11694164_904986656234395_5782591006728701650_nThey openly railed against bitches, hoes, punks, snitches, police, and commonly dropped lyrics about sex, drug dealing, robbery, gang banging, black on black crime, and the need to make it out of the hood. The thing that most don’t realize is that they were not referring to themselves in their music, but rather speaking from the eyes of people violent people they knew and saw in their communities. 11059615_915439541855773_4074939744898419930_nYes much was left out especially some of the controversial elements associated with some of the members that are not so desirous of a person. Also not much was made of the is relating to celebrating gun violence and degrading women. Still the film is an instant classic as far as I can see. You check it out and tell me what you think.

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Johnson+ earthquakes, + tidal waves=Box Office Success

screen-shot-2015-02-24-at-10-44-38-am-124683Put Dwayne Johnson in a tight life-or death situation along with a monumental collapse of a big chuck of California and you’ve got some eye-popping action that is winning at the box office.

Watching this kind Billy-Corbenof terror seems to thrill audiences, as long as the threat isn’t real, but knowing that the San Andreas fault has the real potential to completely wreck shop adds fuels to the flames of fear but seems to entice audiences as well. LA is simply devoured as buildings tumble and crash to the ground, and waves the size of mountains roll into the coastline with beautiful yet horrific detail as CGI stuffs the wreckage in your face. San-Andreas-Movie-Review-Image-5All you can hope for is that Johnson and his daughter get through it alive. not mush of a great scrip tis needed here, just let nature crush everything and allow Johnson to do his thing.

Who DOESN’T love THE ROCK. He’s bankable and fun to watch, so Hoorah for THE ROCK…uh, make that Dwayne Johnson, who this past weekend topped the North American box office with a BANG as his latest action flick San Andreas opened to an estimated $53.2M. WOW!maxresdefault That marks a new career high for a solo star of a movie. San Andreas is the high-octane, cataclysmic Warner Bros. disaster film that averaged an impressive $14,089 from 3,777 locations and truly exceeded film industry expectations.san-andreas-movie-1
hoover_dam_falls_in_san_andreasAlthough reviews were lackluster, movie-goers boosted the film for the spectacle (and special effects) of West Coast destruction and for Johnson’s mega-star wattage, especially female audiences that made up 51% which is rare for action movies.

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Kingsmen: The Secret Service is a funny, bloody thrill ride

Stars of Kingsmen

Stars of Kingsmen

Say what you want about academy nominee Samuel L. Jackson, but I say he makes a great and comical villain as a Russell Simmons-like genius gone over the edge in the hilarious, yet ultra-violent Kingsman: The Secret Service. Jackson and Gazelle, his blade laden, yet exotic sidekick are as fun to watch as anybody else in this film, except academy winner Colin Firth, Firth takes control of the story with style, wit, and bucket loads of kick ass, take no prisoner hand to hand combat sequences that rival The Matrix.
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Tragon Egerton takes on the lead role as Egsy, a rough and tumble young man from the rugged streets of London who has enormous physical and mental skills, but no real direction. He succeeds in the most important way; being likeable and relatable to audiences. In the film, Egsy is recruited by secret society super agents called the Kingsmen. But to make it in, he has to compete for a spot on their world-saving super team. This happens just as a maniacal billionaire entrepreneur comes up with a new technology to wipe out half the planet.

Egerton plays a new super agent

Egerton plays a new super agent

What’s fun about Kingsman: The Secret Service is that is pays genuine homage to the super-agent genre while still being funny, not corny, and at the same time, not taking itself too seriously. But seriously folks, the violence are extreme, and unapologetic, so hang on to your seats when the fighting begins.

Mark Strong makes a point inKingsmen

Mark Strong makes a point inKingsmen

There is no love interest, and the plot and action move at a steady clip, with some eye-popping sequences that you see in the biggest, baddest spy films ever made. Instead, actor Mark Strong as Merlin helped bring depth to the story as the man responsible for training Kingsmen, and also is a super hacker for the organization. Strong’s character was a critical element of the success of the film, especially in the third act. Michael Caine is as reliable and as entertaining as ever as the stiff, arrogant head honcho for the Kingsmen.

Samuel L. Jackson is the brilliant super-villain

Samuel L. Jackson is the brilliant super-villain

The comic book-inspired earned an estimated $35.6M from 3,204 locations for a muscular $11,111 average on its opening weekend. Those polled by CinemaScore gave a decent B+ average grade while reviews were generally positive. The opening weekend performance was at the same level as Denzel Washington’s last film The Equalizer (also R) which debuted to $34.1M and not far from the $39.2M of Liam Neeson’s Taken 3. That’s great company to have and Kingsman: The Secret Service is one film I’d advise you checking out if you love spy genere flicks.

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