Dear Evan Hansen

  • By Ken Werther
  • Photo Courtesy of Universal

Dear Evan Hansen, Broadway’s biggest hit since Hamilton, has been adapted for the screen and arrives in theatres September 24. Opening on Broadway in late 2016, the Broadway production garnered widespread critical acclaim. It was nominated for nine Tony Awards and won six including Best Musical, Best Original Score for Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (La La Land, Smash, The Greatest Showman), and Best Actor in a Musical for star Ben Platt. Advance word on the movie is quite strong — it has been chosen from amongst hundreds of films to open the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9.

Dear Evan Hansen is the story of a high school student suffering from extreme social anxiety whose desperate desire for acceptance leads him into a web of lies following the tragic death of a classmate. Told with an incredibly great bunch of songs (good luck getting “Waving Through a Window” or “You Will Be Found” out of your head!) it’s ultimately about what it’s like to feel isolated and to crave connection, things virtually all of us have experienced over the 16 months since covid changed our lives.

Along with Ben Platt, the cast includes Kaitlyn Dever, Amandla Stenberg, Amy Adams, and Julianne Moore. Pasek and Paul have written two new songs for the film and Stephen Chbosky is the director. Marc Platt, the producer, has a long list of credits in both film and theatre. Wicked, anyone?

Releasing September 24th, click here.

The Eyes of Tammy Faye’s Jessica Chastain

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

  • By Ken Werther
  • Photo Courtesy of Searchlight

The Eyes of Tammy Faye is a new film based on the 2000 documentary of the same name by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato. Written by Abe Sylvia, the film depicts the history of controversial televangelists Tammy Faye Bakker and her husband Jim Bakker (pronounced Baker). Jessica Chastain stars (she is also a producer on the film) along with Andrew Garfield, Cherry Jones, Fredric Lehne, Louis Cancelmi, Sam Jaeger, Gabriel Olds, Mark Wystrach, Jay Huguley, and Vincent D’Onofrio. After its world premiere in Toronto, it arrives in theatres September 17. Directed by Michael Showalter (The Big Sick), The Eyes of Tammy Faye promises to be a bright, brassy chronicle of the roller-coaster life of the outspoken, unabashed, co-creator of the biggest religious broadcasting network in the world, which ultimately came tumbling down.

Of the film, Chastain said, “I had been fed that Tammy Faye was a terrible human being — a clown and a joke. The media taught me that she used people and stole their money. I had this judgment against her, and I realized how the media can give everyone a collective memory that may not really be the truth. It’s not right. I wanted to do something about it to honor her.” In the movie’s trailer, it certainly appears that Chastain is relishing playing the titular role. Having seen and loved the documentary (over 20 years ago!), I cannot wait to see this movie!

Releasing September 17th, click here.

The Card Counter’s Oscar Isaac


  • Photo Courtesy of FOCUS FEATURES

For his latest feature, writer and director Paul Schrader (Dark) has cooked up another thrilling character study of a mysterious man haunted by a dark past. Tackling the titular role is the impressively chameleonic Oscar Isaac (Star Wars) as William Tell, an ex-military interrogator whose methods landed him a long stint in prison where he learned to count cards. After his release, Tell puts his newfound talents to use on the casino trail, but his massive winnings are cut short when his dark past comes knocking. A fellow military man named Cirk offers him the chance to enact his revenge on the colonel who landed Tell in jail by making him the unwitting fall guy. And like all good retribution stories, their master plan soon becomes riddled with booze, bullets, regret, and all out rage, making their road to redemption just out of their reach. As always, Isaac is masterful in his portrayal of such a tormented character, made better only by Schrader’s cinematic potency that earns this revenge thriller some much deserved Oscar buzz. With a brilliant cast that also features Tye Sheridan (The Night Clerk), Tiffany Haddish (Bad Trip), Ekaterina Baker (The Protege), Joel Michaely (Boy Culture), Billy Slaughter (The Ravine), Amye Gousset (The Purge), and the great Willem Dafoe (The French Dispatch), The Card Counter is about to win big.

The Card Counter” premieres September 10th.

Queenpins’ Kristen Bell and Kirby Howell-Baptiste


  • Photo Courtesy of STX FILMS

Writing and directing duo Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly have struck comedy gold with their latest flick Queenpins. The film follows two pink collar criminals scamming millions of dollars by counterfeiting coupons. The mastermind of this scheme is a suburbanite wife named Connie, played by the always charismatic Kristen Bell (The Good Place). Down on her luck and fed up with her dismissive husband, Connie finds her last straw in a stale box of cereal. After complaining to the conglomerate, she’s mailed a bunch of coupons for free products, and that’s when she realizes the perfect loophole. So Connie recruits her equally broke bestie JoJo, played by the bubbly Kirby Howell-Baptiste (The Sandman), and together they plot to steal a stash of coupons from the printing factory and sell them to struggling families like theirs. When the operation starts raining money, Connie and JoJo must hire a black hat to keep the Feds off their backs. Bell and Howell-Baptiste charm us with their comedy chops to such a degree that we can’t help but root for these bad guys to win. With a star-studded cast that also includes Vince Vaughn (Freaky), Paul Walter Hauser (Cruella), Stephen Root (Blindspotting), Nick Cassavetes (Prisoners of the Ghostland), Joel McHale (Stargirl), Dayo Okeniyi (Emperor), Jack McBrayer (Amphibia), and Annie Mumolo (Nobodies), Queenpins delivers the laughs.

Queenpins” premieres September 10th.