All of the recent celebratory reviews of “Moonage Dream” are a showcase of sparkling design that is worthy of a grand display.
Don’t Worry Darling, the highly anticipated Olivia Wilde film starring Florence Pugh and Harry Styles, about a housewife living in the idyllic community of Victory, can only be seen one way: at Dolby Cinemas.
Pugh, who plays Alice Chambers, a woman wholly devoted to her husband, Jack (Styles), begins to question her surroundings as she experiences vivid dreams and hallucinations. She also starts to challenge the founder of the Victory Project, Frank (played by Chris Pine), who has a stronghold on the residents of this seemingly utopian community.
The film is visually stunning, featuring vibrant colors of a Palm Springs-like atmosphere contrasted with scenes showcasing a vast desert landscape. With Dolby’s high resolution screen, viewers were truly able to see the beauty of the film so viscerally that at times we almost felt as though we were in the desert with Alice. Dolby’s visual experience is further augmented by the sound quality, wherein viewers can hear and feel the complementary music score composed by John Powell.
The film begins by showing the passion between Alice and Jack, who are newlyweds as well as new residents of Victory. Every day, Jack drives to work through the desert and over to a large, ominous dome that sits atop a hill, miles away from Victory’s city center. Alice begins to experience lucid dreams and visions at varying hours of the day and night, which become unsettling to her as she begins to confront Frank and his wife, Shelley (Gemma Chan), about what is really going on at Jack’s workplace and what the purpose of the Victory Project really is.
Between Alice’s visions of black and white synchronized swimmers, being pressed between a wall and a glass door, and surrounding her own head with saran wrap, Don’t Worry Darling creates a visually stunning and yet incredibly tense experience for the viewer with an mind-blowing twist at the end.
Our suggestion? Put aside the off-screen drama and go see this visual masterpiece at a Dolby Cinema near you.
Last Friday, I had the opportunity to attend a special advanced screening of Sony’s The Woman King hosted by Black Girls Rock!. The Woman King directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love and Basketball) and starring Viola Davis, John Boyega, Lashana Lynch, Sheila Atim, Thuso Mbedu, and Hero Fiennes Tiffin, is “the remarkable story of the Agojie, the all-female unit of warriors who protected the African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s with skills and a fierceness, unlike anything the world has ever seen. Inspired by true events, The Woman King follows the emotionally epic journey of General Nanisca (Oscar®-winner Viola Davis) as she trains the next generation of recruits and readies them for battle against an enemy determined to destroy their way of life.”
When guests arrived at the screening, which took place at the AMC Theatres on 34th Street, they were checked in and given special wristbands brandishing the hashtag #IAmAWomanKing. We were then guided upstairs to a lounge area. The lounge area had a photo booth station, operated by two photographers, that helped guests show off their best warrior poses. Once the cameras flashed, the photos were printed, and we were sent on our way to enjoy the rest of the lounge area. Around the photo booth, were some stills of the screen. One of General Nanisca (Davis) and King Ghezo (Boyega) overlooking their village, one of Izogie (Lynch) staring off into the distance, and another of the Agojie walking into battle, led by General Nanisca.
Guests of the Black Girls Rock! screening were also treated to an array of delicious appetizers, free popcorn and soda, and free drinks. You could enjoy all of these while mingling with the lovely and friendly cater waiters and other guests of the screening. On our way into the theatre, we were treated to a red-carpet experience where photographers were at the ready to take pictures of us posing with the backdrop of the film’s poster. There was a short introduction from Black Girls Rock! Founder Beverly Bond and a guest speaker helped set the tone for what I found to be an enjoyable film.
The Woman King premieres in theatres September 16th.
Ella Dixon stars alongside McKenna Grace in the upcoming film The Bad Seed Returns, which premieres on Lifetime on September 5.
Although Owen Wilson, Jesse Williams, and Michael Peña were among the very few adults in this film, young actors Walker Scobell and Momona Tamada stole the show.
It’s not every day you get to sit in a room full of people talking openly about mental health, but that is exactly what arthur gallery’s new short film, Genesis X, prompted dozens of young adults to do. Hosted at the Hippo Factory Studios in Los Angeles, the 15 minute movie was screened in the large photo studio with an open bar and music featured by William Anthony.
The film follows a down-on-her-luck young woman named Xiomara, played by Jalesa Marks. Xiomara is struggling to turn her life around and impress her esteemed father working for an infamous corporation. As she continues to perform tasks for the company, she struggles to break free from her anxiety feeling as though there is no escape.
As many young professionals have seen, the standards of work ethic and face time set by corporations lead to increased anxiety and a diminished sense of self-worth. gallery explores this notion in Genesis X by outlining the pressures Xiomara faces from the corporation while also outlining the parental pressures that come with said performance. Stylistically, gallery also illustrates these tensions through Xiomara’s body language, a strong cinematic color palette, and action scenes. The film’s musical efforts, led by William Anthony, also create a palpable sense of stress as we see Xiomara struggle to reconcile her work and her emotions.
Q&A moderated by Sadé Unique Grandberry
During the Q&A with gallery and the cast, the discussion centered around the anxieties and pressures of corporate life. The open dialogue was refreshing given mental health is still seen as a taboo subject. Take away from the night? There is a little Xiomara in all of us, but perhaps there is an escape if we continue to de-stigmatize mental health.
Where the Crawdads Sing is a New York Times Best Seller, selling over 12 million, is now a film!
Set in North Carolina in the 1960’s the film depicts the story of “Kya” played by Daisy Eager-Jones, as she stands trial for the murder of a handsome man, Chase, played by Harris Dickerson. The murder mystery film tells the story through Kya’s eyes, which is captured with flashbacks.
The Knockturnal spoke with the stars of the film at the premier of Where the Crawdads Sing, and their perspective of the film. Main character Daisy Eager-Jones says her take away from reading the screener was the resilience of her character, “I think I was so incredibly moved by how incredibly resilient Kya is as a character.” Eager-Jones says “She suffers a lot, but she keeps going and she remains hopeful for something better”.
Logan Macre, who plays Jodie, said that his reaction was “hopeful” when he began reading the screener for the film. “You just want everything great to happen to Kya, you know?” says Macre “You feel for this girl the entire time and you’re like ‘please something amazing happen to you’[..] it takes a very long time, but when it finally does, you’re [Kya] so deserving of it because you’re such a resilient individual”.
Where the Crawdads Sing is in theaters now.
Beba tells the story of Rebeca Huntt through the eyes of Rebeca Huntt.
This past Wednesday, the Tribeca Film Festival hosted the Tribeca X event, co-sponsored by Roku, at the Indeed Theater at Spring Studios. Tribeca X “celebrates the intersection of advertising and entertainment and honors the creators and brands who share a love of creativity and a mission to connect with consumers through the power of storytelling.” It was an afternoon filled with in-person conversations with panels on different areas relating to advertising and media. Each conversation brought together “industry leaders from brands and agencies to examine the landscape of branded entertainment and recognize the achievements of companies and creators who are adventurous and distinctive in their work.”
I had the chance to sit in on the day’s conversation, which included breakfast and networking lunch, and hear all about the amazing work that is done at the intersection between business and entertainment. It is after all referred to as the entertainment business.
Some of the Tribeca X panels and topics of conversation were as follows:
OKX Global CMO Haider Rafique in Conversation with Samantha Barry featuring Haider Rafique and moderated by Samantha Barry
Designing a Diverse Future Presented by Nike Inc featuring Brandice Daniel and Dr. D’Wayne Edwards and moderated by Jarvis Sam.
Dear Santa: From X to ABC featuring Dana Nachman, Chris Karpenko, and Jennifer Donohue and moderated by Brendan Gaul
A Whole New Ball Game: How Sports Is Driving the Creator Economy featuring Saquon Barkley and CC Sabathia and moderated byRich Kleinman
Advancing the Culture and Currency Through Inclusive Storytelling, featuring Marc Pritchard, Zoey Martinson, Don Jackson, and LL Cool J and moderated by Rose Pierre- Louis.
Other presentations were also by Converse, Roku, and Mast- Jägermeister US.
Panelists discussed their continued faith in cryptocurrency (Rafique), turning a documentary into a docuseries to be premiered on Hulu (Dear Santa), and their efforts to widen the screen and further the efforts of storytelling in marginalized communities (P&G), among many other topics. Many of the companies discussed their efforts both financially and in messaging by working with marginalized creators to expand the scope of storytelling in today’s world. It was humbling and fulfilling to know that more people are being given the opportunity and the access to showcase their talents on a larger scale, many of them with little feedback from these larger companies.
Also during the event, there was an awards ceremony to recognize some of the outstanding participants in Tribeca X. The awards “recognize the achievements of companies and creators who share a mission to connect with consumers through the power of storytelling. Tribeca X celebrates the best story-driven filmmakers and brand collaborations of the year in four categories: Feature Film, Short Film, Series, and Immersive.”
Full Winners List:
The Beauty of Blackness (Sephora)
Directed by Kianna Moore, Tiffany Johnson
The Comeback (Apple)
Directed by Zhang Meng
Stories About Helpful People (Zendesk)
Directed by Sindha Agha, Erin Brethauer, Tim Hussin
Emerging Radiance (Meta)
Created by Tani Ikeda, Michelle Kumata
Based on the award-winning kids’ tv series, now in its 4th year, “Dino Dana the Movie” is currently available on Amazon. Presented by Fathom Events and Sinking Ship Entertainment, “Dino Dana the Movie” follows Dana, a 10-year-old paleontologist-in-training, as she and her friends embark on an epic dinosaur adventure and try to figure out where all the kid dinosaurs are. The Knockturnal spoke to Michela Luci (Dana), Saara Chaudry (Dana’s on-screen sister) and Emmy-winning series creator, JJ Johnson about the inspiration behind the movie, the message they hope to send to audiences, and of course, their favorite dinosaurs.
The Knockturnal: I just wanted to start out by asking JJ, what inspired you to create Dino Dana The Movie?
JJ: We have always wanted to create a movie, and we had just finished the fourth season and it felt like there was room to tell a much bigger story. We stumbled across a scientific theory that was looking at why they had found a lot of baby dinosaurs and a lot of adult dinosaurs but no kid dinosaurs. When we dug into that theory, it turns out that when paleontologists were digging up dinosaur bones in the 1800s and the 1900s, there was a lot of money to be made in finding new bones. Anyone could say they had found a new dinosaur, or discovered something new, and now we’re beginning to see that a lot of those bones actually belonged to other dinosaurs and that they’re just smaller versions of them. It just felt like such a cool story, the fact that some dinosaurs, including some popular ones, might not exist, and we were excited to focus on it. I love that the character of Dana loves failure just as much as success because those failures lead to something, and this is one of those ideas, that even if we lose some of those popular dinosaurs, there is still that journey of discovery, and it just felt like it was a big enough story to tell on the big screen.
The Knockturnal: Michela, how did you get involved in acting initially and how did you get involved with Dino Dana specifically?
Michela: I became involved with acting by accident, when my mom signed me up for musical theatre classes at a dance studio. We found out that the owner of the studio was an agent and she asked me and my mom if we were interested in acting and we went from there, so it was stumbled upon by accident but I really love it. And I was on a show with Sinking Ship called Odd Squad. It was one of my very first acting jobs and I really really loved being on it, such a fun show, and so I met JJ through that show and then I started auditioning for Dino Dana.
The Knockturnal: And how many years have you been on Dino Dana?
Michela: I started when I was nine, so four years now.
JJ: I love that 30 percent of your life is Dino Dana, it’s crazy!
The Knockturnal: So are you guys all like a family at this point?
Michela: One big, happy family.
JJ: Well we’ve been lucky to shoot four seasons and a movie so we’ve spent a lot of time together. When we’re auditioning, as much as we’re auditioning for how they can perform the character, we’re also trying to see what they’re like as people and are they gonna be fun to hang out with for five+ years? And honestly with these two, the chemistry was there immediately, and they’re both super smart and fun, to just have around and come up with ideas. I mean Saara’s even written one of the episodes.
The Knockturnal: So Saara, how did you get involved with Dino Dana and what have been some of your past experiences?
Saara: I’ve been acting since I was six, and I kind of got into acting by accident as well. I had just gone to a drama camp and my mom was like, “Okay you’re in kindergarten, get out of the house it’s March break.” You know, just that kind of thing, but then it turned out that there were agents scouting in the audience for the end of year performance…
The Knockturnal: Oh wow.
Saara: Yeah I know it’s weird, people scout five-year-olds. But they asked if I wanted to get involved with acting, so my Mom and I looked around and decided it was really something that I wanted to do. So I started and I had done a couple of shows and guest appearances, and I had been on a Nickelodeon sitcom for a little while. Then the Dino Dana audition came around, and this was after I had been on Odd Squad for a couple episodes, and I had just had the best time on set and everyone at Sinking Ship had been incredible. I can’t say this in front of JJ. He’ll be like “hey, remember that time you complimented me..”
JJ: Because we are all incredible.
Saara: No, but in all seriousness, Sinking Ship is really a family. It’s such a welcoming environment, especially for kids on set, and you can really feel the love everyone has for each other. Having a production company that values the experience of how kids feel on set, and enduring it’s a fun environment to be in is really special. So anyway, the Dino Dana audition came around and it was just a really fun experience. We were doing a scene where I was listening to music and at the end of the scene I had to take my headphones off to talk to Dana, and at the end of the scene I had to put the headphones back on and I put them on upside down.
JJ: I thought you were just trying to stand out.
Saara: No!! It was the dumbest decision of my life.
JJ: We ran with it.
Saara: But it was great.
The Knockturnal: Can you guys tell me a little bit about the characters you play. How would you describe them?
Michela: So my character is Dana. She’s a paleontologist-in-training, she’s adventurous, she’s brave, she’s outgoing, and she’s very passionate about dinosaurs. She loves solving dino-experiments, she’s a lover of science and loves to explore the world around her, and she also has an incredible imagination.
The Knockturnal: I love that! And what do you like most about playing her?
Michela: The thing I love the most about playing Dana is all the lessons I’ve learned from her. I got to see how she doesn’t care about what other people think of her and how she does what makes her happy. I’ve learned so many lessons from her and it’s so great to see that the audience has learned the same lessons that I did from the show. It is such an honor to play a role model that a lot of young kids look up to, especially young girls.
Saara: I play Saara which is my actual name (laughs). It was really cool because my character was originally named Emily but then they changed it. We really owe it to production companies like Sinking Ship, when there’s someone that comes around that they want to cast who may look different, or maybe a name doesn’t fit, or a family that they were expecting to cast isn’t the type of family that they’re able to cast now, they’re able to adapt the characters which I think makes the show that much more interesting. Boys and girls get to see people of different colors and diversities on the screen and that’s something that I never really had growing up so I think it’s really special that I get to be that person for kids. But back to my character, Saara is sarcastic, fun loving, and despite all the sarcasm and jokes that she’ll make with Dana and the fact that she kind of likes to be in her own teenage world sometimes, I’ve learned a lot from her because at the end of the day she always comes to Dana’s side. I think it’s really special that we’re showing kids that family sticks together and that it doesn’t matter what you look like, whether you’re “real” sisters or not, we kind of cover that in the series. But it’s really cool that I get to portray that story.
The Knockturnal: There’s a lot of interesting family dynamics in the movie with all of the step-siblings, and step-parents, JJ why did you feel that was important for you to include in the story?
JJ: I think science is made more relevant when it has actual applications or dovetails into storylines that affect our lives, and so this movie is all about how we spend a lot of time looking at our differences and not a lot of time looking at what makes us all the same. And so to find a scientific question that kind of does a deeper dive into that subject and then to find a kid-relatable story that’s touching on the same thing, I feel like that’s the perfect alchemy that we look for. Whether it’s an episode or a movie you want to be able to understand that question on numerous levels, not just as an interesting fact but what that means for us as human beings.
The Knockturnal: This next question is directed at Michela and Saara. Was filming challenging for you because of the animation? How does that work for you?
Michela: At first it was challenging because not only do we have to look in the right spot, but we have to make sure our reaction and the way we move our bodies makes sense with what the dinosaur is doing. And that was tough because we didn’t know what the dinosaurs reactions were going to be, or how they were going to move when we were speaking to them. So I kind of had to imagine, just as Dana does, and the special effects team is incredible, and they would help me too.
JJ: A lot of our shows have one foot in the imaginary, but you know with younger performers– I mean Saara you were talking about having an imaginary friend growing up– kids just naturally are able to use their imaginations…
Michela: My personal favorite is when JJ or any director that we have on set stands in for the dinosaur to go and start running and making the noises. It’s the funniest thing ever.
Saara: In the series, apart from special episodes, Saara doesn’t really see dinosaurs. It’s really Dana doing the experiments, and Sara’s always like “Oh my God I don’t see anything, stop being so annoying Dana.” In the movie Saara finally gets to go on the adventure and participate and she really finds the magic in science and the magic in imagining things and there’s a whole part of the movie where they talk about Sara having to “grow down.” I think that’s really timely just for people having empathy and being able to see eye to eye with youth but it was really cool when we were filming it because with four cast members, kind of looking at the same thing, we all had to be really careful about eye-lines and that sort of thing. There’s one part where I have to grab onto a huge Dino and that was done later, we went back and filmed that because we did that with a green screen and something that the art department or the VFX team had made for me to grab onto and I was harnessed up and it was just really awesome.
The Knockturnal: Oh my god, that sounds amazing. This next question is directed at Michela and Saara. How do you think the movie incorporates girl power?
Michela: Well Dana and Sara are both strong female leads and like I said before, Dana is in a role as a young paleontologist -in- training that we would typically see on television as a male role. So I think just that in itself really shows girl power because Dana is taking on something that people have never really seen before, and she’s leading by example.
Saara: Yeah I think just having the characters be their true authentic selves and seeing girls onscreen that aren’t just your basic characters and having them be passionate about something and love things like science which you don’t really see on screen is so important. I think the whole movie emulates girl power just by being. For example, this year at school I signed up for a computer science class. At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to and I genuinely thought I could not do it because I had never seen any other girl in real life or on-screen that had done that before. It was really my sister who kind of pushed me and was like “hey you can do this, I do this, there’s other girls that do this, I know you haven’t seen too many examples, but you’re just like any of the other guys that are signing up for the class.” Now I’m only one of three girls in the class but at least I’m serving as a role model for other girls. If I saw a girl coder on screen when I was younger, I wouldn’t have had that problem.
JJ: I think there’a many subtle things we tried to do in the movie, for example the fact that the dinosaur heroes are also female, the fact that it’s a female T-Rex at the core of this story trying to save her babies, and the main villain is a female dinosaur trying to protect her birds.. It’s just the little things I think you don’t pick up on. We were really deliberate in the show that we called the Dino’s male and female, 50 50, because I think there’s this natural inclination where you refer to something as “he” or “him.”
The Knockturnal: What are your favorite dinosaurs?
Michela: I’ll start! My favorite dinosaur is a small chicken sized dino- it’s very cute.
JJ: Why is it your favorite dinosaur?
Michela: Because it’s small just like me.
Saara: My favorite dinosaur is the maiasaura. We did an episode dedicated to the maiasaura in season one that was really memorable to me just because the whole episode was about the maiasaura protecting its babies and being a very nurturing, motherly creature so that was really special to me. Just the fact that a dinosaur could embody such gentle characteristics really stood out to me so it made it my favorite.
The Knockturnal: And what about you JJ?
JJ: Mine used to be the T-Rex for a long time for obvious reasons.
Michela: He even named his son after it!
JJ: My son’s name is Rex but now my favorite dinosaur is the therizinosaurus. It’s the dinosaur that has the longest claws of any animal that ever existed. For the longest time they thought it was a carnivore because they thought it would use the claws to impale things but they found out it’s actually a herbivore and uses them to dig.
You can watch the trailer for the movie here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lzHfATMmgk