Film

Back to Black in theaters now (Marisa Abela / Photo Dean Rogers, Focus Features)

Back to Black

  • By Debbie Emery

The 2015 documentary Amy meticulously told the troubled life of singer Amy Winehouse, which was cut short when she was 27. A new biographical drama, Back to Black, now attempts to bring the British singer back to life on screen. Named after one of her most famous albums, Back to Black charts Winehouse’s rise to worldwide fame spanning from the release of her debut album, Frank in 2003, to 2008, when she enchanted the world at the Grammy Awards.  Tragically, she was found dead from an alcohol overdose in her London flat just three years later.

English actress Marisa Abela plays the title role with chilling perfection after immersing herself into Winehouse’s life by learning how to play the guitar and moving to Camden, the area of London where Amy lived and died. Aside from her high-profile performances and dark drug activities, the biopic also shows the normal side of Winehouse’s life — family dinners and her inside relationship with Blake Fielder-Civil (Jack O’Connell). 

One of the hardest aspects of portraying Winehouse was her notoriously high heels! “Those heels are just insane,” Abela told the AP. “She did an incredible job staying upright in those heels, especially with that hair, I mean, it’s not light. It’s a heavy piece on your head.”

Back to Black is currently in theaters.  

For more, click here.

The Watchers releases June 7 (Photo Warner Bros.)

The Watchers 

  • By Debbie Emery

By now, audiences are used to being creeped out by M. Night Shyamalan (we still haven’t gotten over that Sixth Sense plot twist!) But his daughter, Ishana Night Shyamalan, giving us nightmares is a whole new experience. The first-time director proves that she truly has inherited her famous father’s knack of creating tension with her debut horror, The Watchers. Ishana previously wrote and directed some episodes of her dad’s Apple TV+ series, Servant, and was a second unit director on his films, Old and Knock at the Cabin.

The New Line Cinema scare fest stars Dakota Fanning (following her captivating performance in Netflix’s Ripley) as Mina, a young artist who finds herself stranded in a desolate forest in western Ireland. She stumbles across three strangers in the woods, but instead of gaining security from their company, Mina soon realizes that they are being stalked by terrifying creatures who come to watch them each night — and then applaud their prey! “You can’t see them, but they see everything,” the film’s tagline eerily promises. 

The Watchers also stars Georgina Campbell, Oliver Finnegan and Olwen Fouéré. It is based on a book of the same name written by A.M. Shine, and M. Night Shyamalan acts as a producer. 

The Watchers lands in U.S. theaters on June 7, 2024.

For more, click here.

Horizon: An American Saga (part one) to release June 28, 2024 (Kevin Costner / Photo Warner Bros.)

HORIZON: An American Saga

  • By KENNE HOFFMAN

Kevin Costner expands the “Horizon” of Western films with the release of part one of his long time Civil War Era passion project “Horizon.”  Spanning from 1861 to 1865, the ambitious cinematic adventure takes audiences on an emotional journey across a country at war with itself as it explores the lure of the old west and how it was won.

Costner plans a total of four “Horizon” films with the first two to be released in June and August 2024. Jon Baird co-writes along with Costner who also produced, directs and stars in the film event for Warner Bros. Pictures. Costner’s character Hayes Ellison ventures to a new land called Horizon — and details all that he encounters along the way. The two-part look at the expansion of the American West, is told from the perspective of the cattle ranchers, farmers and soldiers building a future for themselves in the region, as well as the Natives who lived there first.

Part 1 premiered recently at Cannes Film Festival and audiences weren’t sure what to make of the film. There were some walkouts throughout the film — many attendees returned, but some did not. In the end Costner received a rapturous reaction and a 7-minute standing ovation after the credits rolled. The Western genre has been kind to Costner over the years. He had a box office hit with “Open Range” and a blockbuster smash with “Dances with Wolves,” both of which he directed. Costner also won Oscars for producing and directing “Dances with Wolves.”

In theaters June 28, 2024, for more click here.

Firebrand hits theaters June 14, 2024 (Jude Law and Alicia Vikander / Photo Roadside Attractions)

FIREBRAND

  • By SAMANTHA COLWELL

It seems like everywhere you turn, there’s a new adaptation about the wives of Henry VIII. The infamous Tudor king who literally separated church and state in order to divorce and remarry as he pleased has been the subject of media speculation since Shakespeare’s play, but he’s enjoying a second Renaissance, if you will, in recent years. Broadway’s Six: The Musical depicts his wives as pop divas in concert. Starz’s The Spanish Princess follows the journey of Catherine of Aragon, Henry’s first wife, as she struggles to adapt to English society. And now there’s Firebrand, a new movie focusing on the only wife to survive Henry: Catherine Parr.

Firebrand premiered at the 76th Cannes Film Festival, where it was selected to compete for the festival’s highest award, the Palme d’Or. Starring Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina, Testament of Youth, The Danish Girl) as Catherine Parr and Jude Law (The Talented Mr. Ripley, Fantastic Beasts, The Holiday) as Henry VIII and focusing on the final years of Henry’s reign, the movie paints Parr as an ambitious and clever woman desperate to survive her faltering husband’s tyrannical reign. Firebrand is based on the 2013 novel Queen’s Gambit (unrelated to the Netflix series of the same name). The film is Brazilian director Karim Aïnouz’s English-language debut, and is arriving in theaters on June 14, 2024.

For more, click here.