World Water Day 2017: WasteWater

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World Water Day 2017: WasteWater

Today is World Water Day, a day focused on bringing attention and awareness to the global water crisis. Despite the many advances in technology, a rapidly expanding global economy, and various social justice initiatives in just the last decade alone, there are still 1.8 billion of the world's population who use a source of drinking water contaminated with waste, putting men, women, and countless children at risk of contracting deadly diseases like cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and even polio.

Since 1993 World Water Day (formally World Day of Water) has chosen a theme centered around this crisis to help educate the global community on how we might together work to end the injustice of unclean water which is a key contributor to extreme poverty. This year's theme is WasteWater, a growing and systemic issue which is threatening the environment and putting future generations at even great risk than they currently already are at. Wastewater comes largely from our homes, the cities we live in, and from both industry and agricultural development which then flows back into the natural world without being cleaned, treated, or reused first.

According to the UN Water council, by reducing the amount of our wastewater, and then also reusing it in our homes, gardens, city green spaces, and so on we as a planet can create even more sustainable water habits and bring this crisis one step closer to being a begone era.

In response to the crisis of unsafe drinking water there are many organizations and non profits who are working diligently and tirelessly to bring access to this safe water to everyone around globe by 2030. Just a few of these organizations include:

With our support, from people like you and me, we can make that goal a reality and not just a benchmark. Together through partners such as these we can bring an end to the water crisis in our life time and provide safe and clean drinking water for billions of children the world over.

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Making Dollars and Sense at the Box Office: Weekend Eleven

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Making Dollars and Sense at the Box Office: Weekend Eleven

It was BEAST of a weekend for theatres with no shortage or record breaking achievements and some pretty magical numbers, but one film clearly stood out as the belle of the ball.

That's right, Disney invited audiences from across the globe to be their guest this weekend as their latest live-action animated adaptation, Beauty and the Beast, debuted to an impressive $174.8 million from domestic show houses. That in and of itself is already a feat given the film had a $160 million budget and a domestic premiere of this height is unheard of for the “live-action remake” genre. But that's just the first course for this film as it also pulled in $182.3 million from the international markets. That means within three days the film made over $357 million worldwide!

Most notable of the many records Beauty and the Beast set this past weekend was: largest March opening of all time; 7th largest opening of any film of all-time, and the largest opening for a PG-rated film. But additionally it also set records for:

  • #1 Global and domestic opening for a PG-rated film in IMAX
  • Largest Spring Opening Weekend
  • 6th largest Sunday Gross
  • 8th largest theatre average for a wide opening release
  • 14th best global opening of all time

It really wasn’t a surprise for anyone this weekend that the Disney film was the beast to beat, but I don’t think even this level of success was nearly as expected. The reason though comes down to Disney capitalizing well on the nostalgia of early twenty somethings to mid thirty-year-olds. Sure this is a great film to take your kids to, but really Disney placed their bets on young adults coming out in full force to send this movie over the top, and they clearly hit the jackpot.

The songs and cinematography are charming, the design of the film is exquisite, and the characters and cast are all lovable. If you were a die-hard fan of the original film which came out in 1995 chances are you quickly got caught up in the nostalgia of this film and Disney had you right where they wanted you. But with that said the question is what’s next for this film?

In my opinion while the film was overall enjoyable and cute and charming, it really left something wanting. Having taken such a well-known and classic story the creators of the film could really have said some interesting things with the characters and deepened them well beyond what we already knew and expected going in. But for the most part it just feels like they elevated the sub characters to help fill in the gaps of a 129-minute film while not increasing by the same margin the storylines of our two main characters.

Like really this film could have taken more creative risks like the creators of Maleficent did to really bring us a beloved story we all know but add WAY more context and depth to it. In the end it feels like Disney got lazy and just took the safe bet. Which sure, fine, that’s cool, it was still a good film, but honestly, in a month I’ll be thinking of the original film far more than I will the huge live action adaptation.

But moving on, the other newcomer from this weekend was The Belko Experiment, which despite only bringing in $4.1 million dollars opening weekend landing it at spot #7, was still a relative success given that it’s production budget was only $5 million. Yes, would studio executives liked to have seen this film perform better? Obviously, but the film really never stood a chance holding its own against the likes of Beauty and the Beast, Logan, and even Get Out. Despite being counter-programing for those first two, Get Out is still the superior film within the Horror genre. Plus, Belko fell into the same pit as did the Purge series as it presented some really interesting concepts and possible statements, but never evolved anything past the general premise. With a 48% and 43% on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic respectively, it looks like this experiment was a failure.

Looking ahead to next weekend we have four new films releasing nationwide that have the unfortunate fate of going up against Beauty and the Beast which I have no doubts will claim the top of the box office yet again.

First up, and maybe the only one that might have the power to give Disney a run for their money is Lionsgate’s Power Rangers. That’s right, continuing in the vein of cashing in on some serious nostalgia we have the story of five teens from Angel Grove that get chosen by fate and destiny to protect their tiny town from Rita Repulsa, an Alien that is looking to level all of the world and claim ownership over it. Based on the series that was pioneered by the TV show of the same title back in 1993, the group of kids will have to overcome their own insecurities and real-life issues before they can band together to become the iconic Power Rangers. Given the fact that this was one of my favorite shows growing up as a little kid, you better believe I’ll be seeing this movie this weekend, even if I know I’m fully getting played.

Next up with have Warner Bros. CHiPs which is also looking to capitalize on the nostalgia of its viewers as it’s a film based on the 1977-83 TV series about two California highway patrol officers and their many crazy and eccentric adventures together. In this particular film we get Jon Baker, a former motorbike rider who’s trying to get his life and marriage put back together getting thrust together with Frank Poncherello, or “Ponch” as it were, who is an undercover and hardened FBI agent who is investigating a multimillion dollar heist. Together they’ll have to learn to work and trust one another if they ever plan to accomplish both their desires. It’s very much your typical hero buddy film, but with a cast starring Dax Shepard, Michael Pena, Kristen Bell, and Adam Brody, my guess is that this might actually be a hilarious time and well worth the price of admission... and a bag of chips.

But I know what you’re thinking – what happened to creative, fresh, and original storytelling? Well, don’t you worry, we also have Sony’s sci-fi thriller Life coming to theatres which is… well actually no, it’s not creative, original, or fresh in any way. It’s the story of a team of astronauts aboard the International Space station who are performing groundbreaking studies on the first evidence of extraterrestrial life on Mars. Things turn bad and fast when the life form proves WAY more intelligent and terrifying than anyone could have conceived. If I'm being blunt it totally looks like someone put the scripts from Alien, Species, and Pandorum into a blender together and that’s how we got Life.

The final newcomer for this weekend will be River Rain’s Slamma Jamma which is a sports drama about a young man who after being released from prison where he was wrongfully incarcerated finds redemption by entering a slam-dunk basketball tournament. Despite being a film that looks like it’ll have some really important things to say about overcoming your past, oppression, and finding your way the film looks pretty rough from a film technical perspective and I’m thinking this will be anything but a dunk for the studio.

Well, that’s it for this week! There’s a lot to go see this weekend and while my money is still on Beauty and the Beast taking the number one spot for the second weekend in a row, audiences of all interest are going to have a lot to choose from. So this weekend breakout of your cabin fever, go enjoy a movie at your local theatre!

-Matthew Miller

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Out of Luck: A St. Patrick's Day Story

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Out of Luck: A St. Patrick's Day Story

St. Patrick's Day is here! It's time to wear green (don't pinch too hard those who forgot!), enjoy a beverage or five, and pretend to know the history of the holiday. Even if you're not Irish, you can partake in the festivities - but be careful: luck can be a fickle thing. 

Here at ShadowShine, we were planning to give you a pot of gold worth of photographs, but...as you can see from the video...our rainbow wasn't so lucky. Watch our new St. Patrick's Day video and good luck out there today!

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Shivani + Neal: The Bhagat Wedding Trailer

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Shivani + Neal: The Bhagat Wedding Trailer

We cannot express how much we love these two, nor how wonderful it has been getting to know them over the last several years. We first met Shivani at her cousin, Amity's, wedding back when we had just begun filming weddings, and a couple years later Shivani introduced us to Neal at yet another wedding. Before we knew it the two of them were engaged and were calling us to ask us to join in their wedding weekend and be their cinematographers. Obviously that was a no brainer for us and we instantly said yes!

Honestly, getting to know their families, and specifically the Modys, over the years has been one of the greatest highlights of our entire wedding cinematography adventures. They always greet us with so much love and joy and they are such fun to be around and celebrate with! In many ways every wedding is a new excuse to go see old friends we've grown so fond of, and the fact that it was Shivani and Neal's turn to get married made the weekend all the more amazing.

You can't really sum up their weekend into just a word because there's really no description that could do it justice. The gorgeousness of all the details washed over us and left us speechless, Shivani's radiant smile and exuberant personality glowed the entire weekend, Neal's sense of humor and chill style kept us laughing, and both the Bhagats and the Mody families came together to celebrate this beautiful moment in these two's story together.

In complete seriousness, if we could relive this weekend over and over again we'd jump at the chance. We'll never forget this weekend or how much we are in love with these two, and we'll always be their biggest fans!

Wedding Planer: Rajul Pillai

Wedding Decorator: Colonial Party & Event Planner & Ankita Modi

Photographer: Ray Anthony Photography & ShadowShine PIctures

Florist: Bellisario Florist

Hair and Makeup: Raimonda Pejez and Tammy Pore 

DJ: Sandeep Hans "DJ Sandman" 

Wedding Cake: Sweet Dreams Bakery

Linens & Chivari Chairs: Modern Art Party Rental

Catering & Bar: Rangoli & Krishna Catering

Henna: Neeta Desai

Wedding Gown: Aishwarya

Grah Shanti Gown: Aishwarya 

Henna Gown: Asopalav

Reception Gown: Paras

Venues: Diamond Center, Canton Hindu Temple, & Mody Residence 

 

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Making Dollars and Sense at the Box Office: Weekend Ten

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Making Dollars and Sense at the Box Office: Weekend Ten

Audiences weren’t monkey-ing around this weekend, but did they go ape enough to make Kong a success?

Kong: Skull Island was our big opener this weekend, serving as sort of an appetizer for the upcoming blockbuster season now that we’ve passed out of and gotten our fix of artsy fartsy Oscar stuff. It certainly was King of the Box Office this weekend, taking the top spot with a $61 million haul. But since reviews have been mixed-to-positive, so there’s no guarantee it’ll make back its $185 million budget, and with Disney’s guaranteed success of Beauty and the Beast opening this coming weekend, my bet is leaning toward Kong falling from the top of this building in favor of a new beast on the block.

Logan took the second-place spot with $37.8 million dollars, bringing its total gross to $153 million, slashing up its $97 million budget. Logan’s success really comes down to the fact that we finally got a Wolverine film that completely does justice to the character made classic in film by Hugh Jackman. There are layers to the story that make repeat viewings worthwhile, and the R-rated violence surely stays exciting far longer than the CG-saturated stuff we normally get from the X-Men franchise (and almost every superhero movie since 2000).

Personally, I can’t wait to see Logan again because it’s not a “superhero movie” in the traditional sense. This is a drama, a Western, s character-driven and gritty story with real human emotion. The characters aren’t even named “Wolverine” and “Professor X” in the credits, but rather Logan and Charles. The dramatic tension has interpersonal issues at the forefront, and an action-packed pursuit riding shotgun, and to top it all off, we have incredible performances from Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and the young but wildly talented girl who is “quite similar to Wolverine.” I absolutely recommend this film, and I am thrilled that Wolverine got the swan song he deserved.

The biggest success story here though still lies with Get Out, Jordan Peele’s horror thriller that took the third-place spot with $21 million dollars. This masterpiece’s overall takeaway is a whopping $111 million and can I just remind you that this thing has a $4.5 million budget? Yeah - it has a $106 million profit right now! And the thing I love the most is that there hasn’t been talk of sequels or franchising it. Everyone seems completely content to have this be a standalone film, which is great because now Jordan Peele can use some of this money to make us another wholly original and brilliant film to follow it up instead of watering down what we already have. As it stands, Get Out might be the best film I’ve seen this year so far, and even if it’s not, it’s certainly the one I can’t stop thinking about. If you haven’t seen it yet, what are you waiting for? Go see it right now!

Looking ahead to this weekend, like I said before, Beauty and the Beast is here! Disney has realized that making their classic animated films live-action is a goldmine, and they are certainly going to cash-in big with this one. Do I really need to give a synopsis? Probably not. You know the drill. A book-loving lady ends up being held prisoner by a hairy beast in his cursed castle, singing and dancing with her captor and his servants who are all pulling for her to be the one to break the spell and return them all to human form. She’s also trying to avoid the advances of a brainless hunk of muscle played by the dreamy Luke Evans. If the well-loved classic music wasn’t already a draw, we have Harry Potter’s Emma Watson as our Belle, a fantastic voice cast including Sir Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, and Ewan McGregor. And on top of all of that, controversy!

If you have a Facebook, you’ve seen the hordes of people complaining about Disney including a gay character in the film, and for some reason this is REALLY a problem for some people. Apparently adding a homosexual character to the mix tipped the scale of a singing, dancing candelabra and lavish costumes into “too gay” territory, as well as conveniently ignoring the Stockholm Syndrome that has consumed a young girl and causes her to fall in love with a giant hairy animal. But that’s not the problem. It’s a gay character. What’s next? A movie about a cross-dressing woman infiltrating the military?! Yeah, we’ll get our Mulan remake soon enough (hopefully with an Asian cast! PLEASE! If I have to see Rooney Mara play Mulan, I’m gonna burn that Disney Castle to the ground). In the meantime, go see Beauty and the Beast, and roll your eyes at the protesters on the way in, and sing at them on the way out.

Our other newcomer is The Belko Experiment, a hyperviolent thriller that’s been described as Office Space meets Battle Royale. The James Gunn-penned party tells the story of a social experiment in an office where the workers are locked in the building and told that they must kill a certain number of people to go free, lest they all get killed themselves. It looks like a tongue-in-cheek commentary on American work culture, and the mindset of the lower-earning employees applying a kill-or-be-killed mentality for the entertainment of the real villains: the rich and powerful. The cast looks like they’re in on the joke and having a blast, making me suspect that the audience should also go in with their minds on two tracks: this is ridiculous and… but for real, this is totally how America works.

Personally, I am looking forward to this one for a slightly wacky super gory time at the movies before James Gunn goes back to PG-13 sci-fi fun with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, so it looks like I’ve got two exciting new films to see this weekend!

-Adam Stutsman

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Making Dollars and Sense at the Box Office: Weekend Eight

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Making Dollars and Sense at the Box Office: Weekend Eight

Get Out took the number one spot this weekend, pushing The Lego Batman Movie into second with $19 million for the plastic superhero, which is still not too shabby for its third weekend. Get Out on the other hand had a minuscule budget of $4.5 million dollars and banked $33.3 million this opening weekend, making it a massive success monetarily, but where the true victory lies is in its critical reception. It had a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes after 139 reviews, some of the best reception in the website’s history, and now holds a 99% because one person posted a negative review. That person was Armond White, and if you know anything about his film criticism, that won’t surprise you one bit, as he was also responsible for ruining Toy Story 3’s perfect score. I’m not still bitter. Anyway.

The reason for Get Out’s success isn’t in its small budget, however, nor even positive word of mouth. It is a masterpiece of a horror film from Jordan Peele of Key & Peele sketch comedy fame, where an interracial couple visits her parents in the rich, white suburbs and encounter a terror as old as time: racism. One might think upon first hearing of the film that Jordan Peele, a comedian, is just making a long horror comedy sketch into a movie, or that the movie is a comedy satire of horror films. Neither is true, but rather the film fleshes out its ideas to their fullest and allows them to breathe.

It must also be reminded that horror and comedy walk the same line, and Peele knows this. He knows how to speak allegorically (as one must know how to do in comedy) and with this talent, he crafted a potent statement about systemic racism and classism dressed as the best horror film since last year’s The VVitch. It’s a wholly original work with carefully placed homages to classic horror films like The Stepford Wives, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Night of the Living Dead, but never loses its own voice. And I’m not going to sugarcoat this next part: if you think Get Out is “racist” toward white people, you are wrong and you are an idiot. This isn’t some liberal comedian showering you in “anti-white” propaganda. This is a masterful execution of an important message: racism exists, both blatantly and in passing, and the majority of white people, though they may not admit it, do feel more comfortable if black people are more like them. White people should not be perceived as the “norm,” and black people (or people of any other culture or skin color) should not have to change to make white people feel comfortable. Is that hard to hear, my fellow white folks? Good. Then this film is doing its job.

But enough about you, let’s get back to this incredible movie. The cast is pitch perfect, and every performance is chilling and memorable. The score is icy and slithering. Every moment in the script is calculated and executed with precision and confidence. Jordan Peele’s writing and directing in this film are on a tier amongst horror titans like Romero, Craven, and even Kubrick, and this is his directorial debut. It’s clear that he believes wholeheartedly in the message of the film, while not losing sight of the surface absurdity of the premise, taking itself seriously and not at the same time. I’ve never seen a film like this before, and that’s because a film like this likely couldn’t exist, let alone be the success that Get Out is, without a fearless and brilliant talent like Peele behind it, in today’s society.

Moving on though, since I could probably talk about Get Out for hours, let’s look at the other two newcomers. Rock Dog and Collide each performed pitifully this weekend bringing in only $3.7 and $1.5 million respectively. Critics, however, were kinder to the canine, chalking it up to delightful entertainment for younger viewers, even if parents or more demanding viewers would have to grit their teeth through it. There’s no denying it though: everyone would rather see The Lego Batman Movie a second, third, or fourth time than pay full price to see Rock Dog. Collide on the other hand didn’t get so lucky, with a rotten 19% on Rotten Tomatoes. It had a great cast, but again, actors can do nothing for your film if the story isn’t there.

Looking ahead to next weekend, Before I Fall falls into theaters, giving us a dramatic millennial Groundhog’s Day of sorts. The film stars the adorable Zoey Deutch as a mean high school girl who relives her last day on earth over and over, though it’s not clear why from the trailer. Is she learning an important lesson before advancing into the afterlife? Is she becoming a better person while trying to avoid her death? I guess that’s what you’ll watch the movie to find out. And if you do, let me know what happens, because I’m going to be seeing Logan this weekend instead.

Logan is reportedly the final Hugh Jackman as Wolverine film in the X-Men franchise, hanging up his adamantium claws after playing the character for 17 years. This installment takes place in a post-apocalyptic near-future where new mutants haven’t been born in two decades, and Wolverine is barely scraping by, wallowing in hopelessness and hanging out with a slowly dying Professor X. But when a mysterious little girl with striking similarities to Logan shows up, he is drawn back into the chaos to protect her. Judging by the trailer, and with how incredible James Mangold’s 2013 The Wolverine was, this could end up being the best X-Men film yet.

Lastly, The Shack comes to theaters this weekend to inspire us to continue on in the face of tragedy. This faith-based film shares its title with its source book that was a hit among Christians and non-Christians alike back in 2007. It tells the story of a father’s struggle after the kidnapping and murder of his young daughter. The man (played by Sam Worthington) receives a mysterious letter telling him to return to the shack in the woods where the murder took place, and when he does, he meets a woman played by Octavia Spencer and a few other people who look to be more than they seem. The film also has Tim McGraw involved both onscreen and in its soundtrack, which also includes songs from Faith Hill, Hillsong United, Lady Antebellum, Skillet, and other Christian contemporary artists. Continuing from Gavin Stone’s step in the right direction (a stepping Stone?) for faith-based cinema, this looks like it will please the faithful and intrigue a few others enough to be a small hit among more than just the Family Christian Bookstore crowd.

-Adam Stutsman

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Making Dollars and Sense at the Box Office: Weekend Seven

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Making Dollars and Sense at the Box Office: Weekend Seven

There was certainly some deja vu happening at the box office as our top two movies didn’t change from the previous weekend. Leading the box office was The LEGO Batman Movie taking the number one spot once again, and keeping this short and sweet, like a LEGO, it made $33 million, only dropping about 35% from its first weekend performance, and by the end of Monday and the 4-day weekend the movie has already made over $100 million domestically.

And while I REALLY don’t want to give this film any more attention that it’s already received, it did take the number two spot...so my hands are tied. Fifty Shades Darker earned a little over $20 million last weekend and another $44 million internationally, bringing its worldwide total now to $276.9 million - I personally I will always be trying to grasp how a twilight fan fiction can grow to something this massive. Especially when Christian Gray’s character is the textbook definition of a domestic abuse partner. He needs to have control over Anastasia in everything that she does. From how she dresses, to where she is going, who she is with, and is constantly blaming her and bringing her down for any imperfection she may have.

Their relationship is incredibly toxic yet instead of making a statement about domestic abuse - this film romanticizes it! Gray is characterized to be this dreamy guy that all girls want, but when every 9 seconds a woman is assaulted or beaten, and 1 in 3 have been physically abused by an intimate partner, there’s no fantasy going on here; it’s just the everyday life for so many. Art and movies have this incredible power to set the moral tone for a society, and it’s heartbreaking for me to see this movie with those types of themes becoming the focal point of our pop culture.

And continuing with things not so great, The Great Wall opened this weekend to a very disappointing $18.4 million and 38% on rotten tomatoes. Considering the film itself cost $150 million to make, and the fact that it is also the most expensive Chinese film ever filmed in China, The Great Wall looks more like a “great flop”. Part of the reason for the backlash from so many critics and audience members is because of Matt Damon’s character cast alongside the racially accurate, Asian cast. Although, the Director himself has said that Damon’s character was never meant to be played by someone of Chinese descent. Damon’s character, William, is taken prisoner at the start, and spends a good portion of the movie either in shackles or behind bars. He is never the king or viewed at as a king, he’s no more than an excellent archer utilized in their army. If anything, it’s the Chinese that show him the importance of trust and compassion. With that being said, this film leaves a lot to be desired. Matt Damon’s performance is lackluster at best and it’s his inconsistent accent that should be getting critiqued, not his skin color.

Coming in the number four spot, John Wick: Chapter Two had quite the decent chapter two weekend at theaters, grossing just over $16 million, bringing its domestic cume to $58 million, already surpassing the $43 million that the first film made.

Just making the top five, new comer Fist Fight grossed $12.2 million, and earned a 35% on rotten tomatoes. Those numbers, along with many reviews saying that this satire on the American education system falls short, only giving people a raunchy rated-R comedy that you’ll forget about by the next day, has me thinking that Charlie Day and Ice Cube are also going to be fighting to stay anywhere near the top ten in the coming weeks.

Finally, though it barely made the top ten and I wish it had done so much better, A Cure for Wellness opened in theaters with $4.3 million. Making back, sadly, only ten percent of its budget. And believe me when I say that I certainly was not well after watching this - in the best way possible! There were multiple times when I was literally curled up in my seat, hands covering my eyes, wanting so badly for Dane DeHaan’s character to figure out a way to leave the wellness center just so I could also. You feel trapped and scared, and confused right along with him. Yet, there are also moments where I was completely entranced with the world I was being drawn into. The cinematography, coloring, and sound design are all top notch and its overall just a beautiful piece of art to stare at for the two and half hours. In my opinion this film is best if you go in knowing as little as possible so I won’t dive in any deeper and I’ll let you discover the cure for yourself.

Looking ahead to this coming weekend we’ll see how The LEGO Batman Movie does with some animated competition as Rock Dog dances into theaters. Luke Wilson voices a dog named Bodi, who pursues his dream of becoming a musician after a radio falls from the sky. Based solely on the trailer it looks as though it could be either a quirky, bright colored kid’s movie with lots of singing and dancing or it has the potential to say something meaningful about sticking with your dreams, even when it seems you’re the only one who believes in them, and I’m hoping it’s the latter. 

We are also getting a couple more thrillers to enjoy with the first being Get Out. Get Out is Jordan Peele’s directorial debut where he uses the story of an interracial couple visiting a creepy family estate to give insight into modern views and assumptions about race. It stars Daniel Kaluuya, and Allison Williams, and it looks like it’s going to be fantastic and I have a feeling audiences are going to be rushing to “get-in” more than anything.

Last, but sure to make an impact for fans and audiences of the classic action-B movie genre is Collide. It’s the story of Casey who in order to pay for his girlfriend’s medical bills after she falls ill attempts to pull off a drug heist. With a cast of Nicholas Hoult, Felicity Jones, and Anthony Hopkins, we’ll see if audiences collide with Collide this weekend.

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