Entertainment – Vents Magazine https://ventsmagazine.com Music and Entertainment Magazine Fri, 17 Jan 2020 22:52:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 Kickstradomis + Call of Duty Team Up For League Elevate Streetwear Style https://ventsmagazine.com/2020/01/17/kickstradomis-call-of-duty-team-up-for-league-elevate-streetwear-style/ https://ventsmagazine.com/2020/01/17/kickstradomis-call-of-duty-team-up-for-league-elevate-streetwear-style/#respond Fri, 17 Jan 2020 22:52:03 +0000 https://ventsmagazine.com/?p=274060

The Call of Duty League, the newest esports league, has partnered with Kickstradomis, custom sneaker designer known for his work with some of the biggest NBA athletes and celebrities, for a custom pair of kicks in honor of the league’s launch in Minneapolis (Jan. 24-26). In addition, Commissioner Johanna Faries will be wearing her own pair of Air Force 1’s customized for the very occasion.

The Call of Duty League has also released details on the gear the pro players will sport during home and away matches during the inaugural 2020 season. While competing on the Call of Duty League stage, players will have the option of a jersey or a hoodie. Colors will be white for the home team and black for away. Player gear kits also include a bomber jacket to wear to-and-from events.

Watch Video Announcement:


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Best Director Oscar Nominees Already Have a Busy 2020 Lined Up https://ventsmagazine.com/2020/01/17/best-director-oscar-nominees-already-have-a-busy-2020-lined-up/ https://ventsmagazine.com/2020/01/17/best-director-oscar-nominees-already-have-a-busy-2020-lined-up/#respond Fri, 17 Jan 2020 21:41:33 +0000 https://ventsmagazine.com/?p=274047 Time waits for no one, and just a quick peek at what’s in store in the year 2020 for the five Oscar nominees for Best Director seems to bear out this old bromide. In Vents’ continuing quest to bring readers up to date on what the various and sundry nominees have coming up on their dance cards, we were encouraged and delighted that all of this year’s noted and celebrated nominees are continuing to push themselves and their art with new and unique projects on the horizon.

 Director Martin Scorsese (The Irishman) really needs no introduction: With a slew of classic films under his belt (Goodfellas, Raging Bull, The Departed, The Age of Innocence and After Hours), this auteur continues to push himself and his craft in a variety of unexpected and delicious ways. So, what does one of the most celebrated directors of our time have coming up in the way of film? First up is an executive producer credit for the upcoming Joanna Hogg film, The Souvenir: Part 2. The versatile talent then hops back into the director’s chair for his eagerly awaited period film Killers of the Flower Moon which reunites him with two of his most dependable muses, Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio. After this, Scorsese ambles back into executive producer mode for director Rodrigo Prieto’s film, Bastard. 2020 will obviously be a huge year for Mr. Scorsese producing-wise: After his executive producer turn for Prieto, the maestro assumes a simple producer role for the film Bernstein which will mark Bradley Cooper’s return to the director chair after the success of his remake of A Star Is Born. Scorsese is also listed as an executive producer for the long gestating film adaptation of the brilliant true-crime story book, The Devil in the White City. Wanna get really winded with this crazy list of Marty Scorsese projects? The director is also listed as being the director of note attached to helm Leonardo DiCaprio in the Teddy Roosevelt bio-pic, Roosevelt. Tellingly (and probably realistically) both Roosevelt and Devil…are given no release date or production time. Perhaps these latter two projects will slide into 2021 to give Mr. Scorsese a much needed break?

 Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) has made a brilliant career for himself by defying audience expectations and delivering films that are both subversive and entertaining. Continuing that trend, a sequel (or a follow-up if the word “sequel” has you cringing) has been announced for his popular film, Django Unchained. This one is titled Django/Zorro and, as the title promises, features a team-up between the famous gunman and his sword wielding contemporary. Just a casting thought, but how about Antonio Banderas reprising his starring role from 1998’s The Mask of Zorro, Mr. Tarantino? Or is that perhaps too gimmicky? This film is listed for a 2022 release or production date and, after that, it looks like another sequel is on Mr. Tarantino’s dance card with Kill Bill: Vol. 3.

Bong Joon-ho (Parasite) had a terrific 2019 and it looks like it’s full speed ahead for the talented director with…Alright, I’m being coy here Constant Readers: After a terrific year, Joon-ho has nothing immediate listed on his To-Do List. Perhaps he might just spend some time plotting out a new film with Oscar nominated actress Rene Zellweger (another Oscar nominee with no immediate projects on the horizon).

Todd Phillips (Joker) broke all sorts of nifty box office records in 2019 with his collaboration with Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix. I’ll sheepishly admit to being surprised that the director of The Hangover trilogy (really just a poor man’s Very Bad Things) had such versatility and range and even as I type these words out I feel like a pretentious dolt who only reads Film Comment and schleps around mediocre coffee houses with an unread copy of something written by Hemingway tucked under my turtleneck bedecked arm. Phillips surprised the hell out of me with Joker and I’ve rarely been so happy to be proven so wrong about an opinion I’ve fostered regarding a director. This guy is the real deal folks and I’m anxiously awaiting his upcoming untitled…Hulk Hogan biopic?!? This is what Phillips is listed as directing next and I’ll try and keep an open mind. In the meantime, the industry is abuzz with rumors of a Joker sequel. Would that come before or after Hogan though? Time will tell good people.

Rounding out this list is a so-called “comeback story” that I’m genuinely excited about—Sam Mendes (1917). You know you’ve hit a chord that resounds when your film knocks off a friggin’ Star Wars movie from the top of the box office, especially when said film – 1917 – is a two hour period piece about the brutalities of war. Mendes has always been a top-notch director and you will find few people that are as fanatical about his work on American Beauty, Road to Perdition and Revolutionary Road as I am. Mendes veered off into the land of James Bond and I’d worried we lost him to the world of the Blockbuster Movies. 1917 represents a return to form for one of our finest directors. Next up for this visionary is an executive producer credit for the television series Penny Dreadful: City of Angels. Here’s to his success in that endeavor and we all look forward to his next stint in the director’s chair.

 As always, please take a gander at the complete list of Oscar nominees via the brilliant devices of our fellow pop culture brethren over at The Hollywood Reporter.

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So, What’s Next for the 2020 Oscar Nominees? – Part Two https://ventsmagazine.com/2020/01/16/so-whats-next-for-the-2020-oscar-nominees-part-two/ https://ventsmagazine.com/2020/01/16/so-whats-next-for-the-2020-oscar-nominees-part-two/#respond Thu, 16 Jan 2020 19:33:53 +0000 https://ventsmagazine.com/?p=273688 The year of 2019 was a roundly solid one in the world of cinema and, despite the usual glaring omissions (Hey, Academy members – Best Picture nominee Little Women did not direct itself; Where’s the love for Greta Gerwig, y’all?) the Oscar contenders this year represent some of the best talent in the film industry.

Yesterday we took a look at what the nominees for Lead Actress have coming up for the year of 2020. Today we’re going to look at their male counterparts for Lead Actor and just what projects they have coming down the pike for anxious film fans. So strap yourselves in Dear and Constant Readers, because faster than you can say Hugh Downs or Barbara Walters we are going to take a gander at these five actors and their upcoming slate of film projects!

 Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes) is an insanely talented and respected actor who gets major plaudits for a filmography that reads like a super-stuffed telephone book. I’ll always and forever love the man for his work in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil and it’s nice to see the man recognized for his consistent and steady work in the world of film: Next up for this distinguished gent after an incredibly busy 2019 is the new science fiction television series, Tales from the Loop. After that? World domination would be my bet. Congrats on the deserved Oscar nomination, Mr. Pryce. By the way, Jonathan shares a poignant connection to our next nominee, Joaquin Phoenix. Pryce actually worked alongside Phoenix’s older brother River in his last film performance, Dark Blood. Which, I suppose, makes a good segue way to Joaquin himself…

Joaquin Phoenix (Joker) only gets better as he goes along, his acting chops are mostly unrivaled and how the man has not yet won the Oscar is beyond my meager mind. Next up on Mr. Phoenix’s plate is director Mike Mills’ C’mon C’mon which has just wrapped shooting. And while rumors abound of Phoenix reprising his role in Joker, the smart money is on this eclectic actor taking on something completely different that does not have a roman numeral after its title.

Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) is up to bat again at the Oscars after having finally won for his striking turn in The Revenant. Credit to this new nomination must go to Once Upon a Time’s director and screenwriter Quentin Tarantino who pushed this exceptional actor in new and unexpected directions. DiCaprio has been attached to so many films that never happened with his participation that it’s harder to nail this one down. I recall getting excited when, back in 1994-’95 the erstwhile talent was lined up to play actor James Dean in a Michael Mann bio-pic that never got off the ground. Or how about the time he seemed close to closing a deal on the Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination story, Slay the Dreamer? Or what about that time he was announced as taking on the role of jazz trumpet player Chet Baker? Or what about…Well, you get the idea. DiCaprio has always been in demand and I don’t forecast that changing anytime too soon.  For his next project, DiCaprio may star alongside Robert De Niro (his co-star in the wonderful films This Boy’s Life and Marvin’s Room) in director Martin Scorsese’s next film, Killer of the Flower Moon. Also listed as being in pre-production for him is a flick titled The Black Hand (an early mob in America story). He’s also still attached to the very long gestating The Devil in the White City (excellent and frightening book, by the way). And somewhere down the line, he’s still slotted to play good old Teddy Roosevelt himself in the aptly titled film, Roosevelt. Sounds amazing, Leo. Now just buckle down and get some of these projects made (although please keep up your excellent work with the environment!).

When not attempting to oppress the Jedi, actor Adam Driver (Marriage Story) has been quietly busy carving out a brilliant film career that would make even the most seasoned thespian green with envy. Nominated for the wrenching and altogether heart-touching film Marriage Story, this talent has two new projects in the offing: Annette which is being directed by Leos Carax and The Last Duel. The former is listed as being in post-production and the latter in pre-production. Ridley Scott is penciled in as director on Duel, incidentally.

Finally for this installment is a dark horse nominee that I didn’t predict as walking away with an Oscar nomination, but I’m happy he’s being recognized by his Hollywood peers and contemporaries – Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory). Banderas is one of those rich and rare natural resources that we (and by “we” I probably mean “I”) take for granted just based on his career longevity and the amount of work he has out there already. He’s a movie star who has eschewed that particular title infavor of being a consummate actor and he’s kept from some of us a secret: He is a wonderful actor who deserves a million more Crazy in Alabama or Pain and Glory opportunities. 2020 looks to be crazy for Banderas: Doolittle, Lamborghini: The Legend, The New Mutants, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, The Devil May Care, Havana Quartet and Down by the Water are all on his dance card in the immediate future.

 2020 looks to be a very solid year for the Actor nominees and I look forward to seeing and reviewing many of the above film titles!

Tune in tomorrow as Vents studies the next moves of the Best Director nominees! And, as always, you can check in with our amigos over at the esteemed Hollywood Reporter for a full list of all of the deserving 2020 nominees. Tell ‘em 20/20 sent ya!

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What’s Next for This Year’s Oscar Nominees? https://ventsmagazine.com/2020/01/15/whats-next-for-this-years-oscar-nominees/ https://ventsmagazine.com/2020/01/15/whats-next-for-this-years-oscar-nominees/#respond Wed, 15 Jan 2020 20:18:25 +0000 https://ventsmagazine.com/?p=273459 Hollywood is a town that exists in the present with very little reflection going on before the next new and shiny toy is brought out for audiences to marvel at and play with. It’s a play on Woody Allen’s famous argument for breaking up with Diane Keaton’s character in Annie Hall, in fact: “A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies…” And while the industry that plies its trade in Make Believe and Magic does the occasional reach-around cuddle move with its storied history, the unspoken rule is that it makes more sense financially to prognosticate on what’s ahead versus the road just travelled on in the rearview mirror. With that salient point made, it’s not too early to give curious readers a sneak peek at what lies ahead for some of this year’s biggest Oscar nominees. Fasten your seatbelts, kiddies as we here at Vents (accept no substitutes!) gives you the full skinny on all upcoming projects for these very talented individuals in an ongoing series I like to call, “So, what next?” Creative, isn’t it? Today Vents is going to concentrate on the talented individuals who scored Oscar nominations for Best Actress.

Best Actress:

Cynthia Erivo (Harriet) has numerous projects in the offing. The HBO series The Outsider based off of the best-selling Stephen King novel premiered on January 12 and new episodes will follow every week. Ms. Erivo continues her foray into quality television work with her turn as the legendary Aretha Franklin in the National Geographic show Genius; This ongoing look at some of the brilliant minds that have shaped our world with their immeasurable talents. Also on her dance card are two films in post-production, Chaos Walking and Needle in a Timestack.

Scarlett Johansson – Geez, there was a time when if asked to pick who would have the more substantive career between Ghost World co-stars Johansson and Thora Birch (American Beauty) I would have said Birch without hesitancy. This is why I don’t go to Vegas, people. With two Oscar nominations to her name this year (Marriage Story and Jojo Rabbit), Johansson does not look poised to take a breather anytime soon: A little art house film called Black Widow looks set to break box office records later this year as does her voice only performance in Sing 2.

Saoirse Ronan (Little Women) has had a brilliant career, so much so that it’s sometimes easy to forget that she’s so young. Atonement was no fluke for this thespian and her nomination in Greta Gerwig’s latest is proof in the pudding. Next up for this future Hollywood mogul is The French Dispatch and Ammonite. Go, Saoirse!

Renee Zellweger (Judy) is the odds-on fave to beat this year at the Oscars for her transcendent metamorphosis into film icon Judy Garland. What’s interesting about Zellweger is that she’s become a very selective actor in the course of her celebrated film career. Translation? Ms. Zellweger is currently between projects and her IMDb page lsts nothing coming up in the immediate future. However, Hollywood worships at the ground of true and genuine talent, and this Zellweger has in spades. Expect an update on future film projects in the near future from ye olde film addict.

Charlize Theron (Bombshell) has had a long and distinguished career in Tinseltown and finally she is getting some much needed attention from the Academy for her always consistent and solid work. She’s come a long way since Celebrity and it’s good to see her score a deserved nomination. Next up for her is a triple threat: The Old Guard (of which she is also acting as producer for), Atomic Blonde 2 and Two Eyes Staring. Ms. Theron is also listed as a producer for the latter two.

As they say in Sodom and Gomorrah (or, as I like to call it, Hollywood), “That’s a wrap!” Join us tomorrow as we peek into our Magic 8 Ball and give you a heads up on what the Best Actor nominees have up their sleeves for 2020! In the meantime, run over to our compatriots over at The Hollywood Reporter for a full rundown (I say in my best Charles Miner tone of voice) of the full list of nominees!

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BRIAN POSEHN TO RELEASE FIRST COMEDY/METAL ALBUM “GRANDPA METAL,” ON FEBRUARY 14, 2020 https://ventsmagazine.com/2020/01/15/brian-posehn-to-release-first-comedy-metal-album-grandpa-metal-on-february-14-2020/ https://ventsmagazine.com/2020/01/15/brian-posehn-to-release-first-comedy-metal-album-grandpa-metal-on-february-14-2020/#comments Wed, 15 Jan 2020 15:38:19 +0000 https://ventsmagazine.com/?p=273359 Comedian/actor/ writer Brian Posehn, who has appeared in several films including Rob Zombie’s “The Devil’s Rejects,” starred in Comedy Central’s “The Sarah Silverman Program,” had a recurring role on the Emmy-winning TV series “The Big Bang Theory,” has written 45-issues of Marvel Comics’ “Deadpool” series, was an Executive Producer for the Netflix  comedy sketch series “W/ Bob & David,” and was most recently seen on “The Mandalorian” on Disney Plus, will see the release of his new comedy/metal album, Grandpa Metal, on February 14, 2020 (Megaforce Records).  

Produced, engineered and mixed by Jay Ruston (Anthrax, Steel Panther), Grandpa Metal features guest appearances from some of metal’s finest including Brendon Small (Metalocalypse, Dethklok), Scott Ian and Jonathan Donais (Anthrax), Corey Taylor (Slipknot), Gary Holt (Slayer, Exodus), Jeff Pilson (Dokken), Alex Skolnick and Chuck Billy (Testament), singer/songwriter/comedian Al Yankovic, Pearl Aday, Johan Hegg (Amon Amarth), Joe Trohman and Patrick Stump (Fall Out Boy), The Damned Things), Michael Starr (Steel Panther), Jacob Bunton (Mars Electric), Rob and Aiden Cavestany (Death Angel), Steve “Zetro” Souza (Exodus), Kim Thayil (Soundgarden), Phil Demmel (Machine Head), Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (Guns N’ Roses, Asia), and the late Jill Janus (Huntress).

The idea for Grandpa Metal is a perfect aggregate of Posehn’s love of comedy and metal.  “The original concept for this album came from bands like Scatterbrain and S.O.D., and even Cheech and Chong,” said Posehn.  “They all made music that was fun and funny, heavy music that also made you laugh.  I wanted this to be the ultimate comedy/metal record, a loving record that made fun of some of the things in heavy metal, so I called all my friends and asked for a bunch of favors.  There’s a Satan song, and there’s a Viking song, there’s one song that sounds like Black Metal, and then there’s one that sounds like a Van Halen party song.  The intention was just to make a funny metal/comedy record for people who like both of those things.”

Grandpa Metal also presented the opportunity for Posehn to once again collaborate with long-time pal Anthrax’s Scott Ian.  The two of them had co-written and recorded the track “Metal By Numbers” that appeared on Posehn’s 2006 album Live In: Nerd Rage, and for 2010’s  Fart And Wiener Jokes, “More Metal Than You.”   While Posehn and Scott Ian wrote or co-wrote most of Grandpa Metal’s 14 songs (complete credits HERE), two covers were recorded:  2013’s dance novelty song “The Fox, What The Fox Say” by Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis, that was a Top 10 Billboard single and that year’s top trending YouTube video that accumulated more than 890-million views, and “Take On Me,” a-ha’s 1985 classic synth-pop hit whose innovative music video has just passed one-billion views.  “I honestly feel that every good song would be better if it were heavy metal,” said Posehn, “and I think I proved my case with ‘Take On Me.’  It’s such a catchy song, it’s so cool, but I always thought if it had three guitars instead of a keyboard, it would be even cooler.”  Check out Grandpa Metal’s “Take On Me” HERE

Posehn worked on lyrics with Scott Ian as well as Brendon Small and Joe Trohman, who helped Posehn finish the album.  “Brendon helped with ‘New Music Sucks,’ and Joe helped me get through writers’ block on the lyrics for ‘Grandpa Metal.’  When we needed to write two more songs to complete the album, Scott was out with Anthrax, so Brendon and Joe and I whipped out our horror-themed song ‘Monster Mosh’ and our big, dumb innuendo-filled hard rock song ‘Big Fat Rock,” and we were finished.

“This was such a dream project for me,” said Posehn.  “I wanted to take my time, I wanted it to be perfect, so it took us six years to complete.  It’s the ‘Chinese Democracy’ of comedy-metal records.  And it didn’t cost thirteen million dollars to make.”

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3 Best Casino Movies https://ventsmagazine.com/2020/01/15/3-best-casino-movies/ https://ventsmagazine.com/2020/01/15/3-best-casino-movies/#respond Wed, 15 Jan 2020 11:33:20 +0000 https://ventsmagazine.com/?p=273306 Movies are all about capturing all interesting things in the real world, including all the drama, emotions, and entertainment, and projecting it on the silver screen. One of the main topics that always seem to be creatively interpreted by screenwriters other than the medical and legal systems of the world is that of the gambling industry.

These movies always have some sense of melodrama and they always love breaking rules of baccarat, blackjack, poker, and other casino games. In nearly all cases, the underdogs win while the stars in the movie win roulette hands even when the odds are not in their favor. But we still watch them anyway.

In this post, we are going to discuss the top three casino movies you should watch this year.

Rounders (1998)

This star-studded movie features Matt Damon and Edward Norton, who explore the underground world of illegal gambling. Mike McDermott (Matt) is a university student who has always dreamt of winning the World Series of Poker.

The film begins with Mike all his savings worth $30,000 to a Russian mobster going by the name KGB (John Malkovich). He partners with a friend who has just been released from prison (Worm). Unfortunately, the pair run into debt with KGB and have to gamble to pay back a whopping $15,000.

Initially, Mike plays poker and almost wins the $15,000 they owe in debt. However, the duo is caught cheating, and all their money is ceased, and they must now act quickly or risk being hunted down by the Russian mobster. Finally, Mike gets a loan of $10,000 and challenges KGB to a Texas Hold’em game.

KGB loses the first round and asks Mike to continue playing. He not only agrees but also doubles his blinds. However, as they continue playing, Mike realizes KGB has a better hand after observing his demeanor. Infuriated by chance he’s missed to win it all, KGB decides to play on a tilt. Mike challenges the KGB to go all in the final round and beats him with a nut straight.

Mike uses the money to settle the $15,000 debt and other debts and restores his initial bankroll of “3 stacks of high society.” He then drops out of law school, bids goodbye to Jo, and travels to Las Vegas to participate in the World Series of Poker.

The Cincinnati Kid (1965)

In this movie, a young poker star named Eric Stoner takes on the best poker player in the world, Lancey Horward. He learns that sometimes experience defeats good skills. The movie features fairly small blinds and is set during the depression era.

Nonetheless, the main event attracts six players, with Stoner the kid and Howard playing last. When the two are playing, the dealer (Shooter) tries to help the kid win. But the kid calls for a private break and asks Shooter not to interfere because he can beat Howard without his help. Stoner later asks for a new dealer and ends up winning several rounds against Howard.

However, in the last round, the kid is taken away by the winnings. Howard, on the other end, looks scared of a forthcoming loss. Knowing his chances of winning are high, Stoner calls an extra $5,000 blind, but his opponents surprise him with a straight flush.

Casino (1995)

There are many films named ‘Casino,’ but the movie featuring Robert De Niro will continue to stand out for its rich storyline, adrenaline-filled gambling moves, and epic acting.

The movie is set in the 1970s, and its plot revolves around the mafia and their betrayals. Sam Rothstein stirs as De Niro, a gambling pro whose goal is to help the house to make as much profit as possible. However, with mafia involved, Sam is forced to help Nicholas Santoro, an old friend, launder his money through the casino for security purposes.

Although Sam is able to maximize the casino’s profits, he finds himself in marital problems when his wife starts cheating with an old friend. Sam fires the slot manager for incompetence. In the meanwhile, Ginger (Sam’s ex-wife) kidnaps their daughter and plans to kill him. The FBI starts to come after the casino because of its association to the mafia. Luckily, Sam navigates through the situation successfully.


Although films are scripted, and the odds are always in favor of the main actor, they are still interesting to watch. Some of these movies also teach important lessons that gamblers can benefit from, such as knowing when to bluff or fold.

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Oscar Nominee Joaquin Phoenix is one of the Best Actors of His Generation https://ventsmagazine.com/2020/01/14/oscar-nominee-joaquin-phoenix-is-one-of-the-best-actors-of-his-generation/ https://ventsmagazine.com/2020/01/14/oscar-nominee-joaquin-phoenix-is-one-of-the-best-actors-of-his-generation/#respond Tue, 14 Jan 2020 19:55:14 +0000 https://ventsmagazine.com/?p=273216 When the 2020 Oscar nominations were announced on Monday morning (by the way Dear and Constant Readers – Hit up our buddies over at The Hollywood Reporter for the full list of all of the wonderful nominees), few were surprised to see Joaquin Phoenix on the list of nominees for Best Actor for his breakout work in director Todd Phillips’ Joker. This nomination marks the fourth one for Phoenix from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and many consider the forty-five year old actor the one to beat when those nifty golden statues are handed out at the Dolby Theatre in downtown Los Angeles on February 9, 2020.

 I’m from a generation that was first introduced to Phoenix and his peculiar style of acting during the 1980s in such film and television work that ran the gamut from The New Leave It to Beaver to SpaceCamp and Parenthood. Back then, Joaquin went by the moniker of “Leaf” and was best known early on as the kid brother to the actor of the Generation X set, River Phoenix. As a young teenager, I cringed through the copious Randy Newman soundtrack of Parenthood just so I could get to the scene in the Ron Howard directed flick where Leaf Phoenix melts down in front of his movie mother Dianne Wiest when confronted by an estranged father who wants nothing to do with him. It was one of the few truly powerful moments in the film that elicited from me a genuine emotional response. In fact, I melted right along with Phoenix as he made me feel what his character must have been experiencing. ‘Boy,’ I thought without the slightest twinge of irony, ‘River’s younger brother might be an actor to watch for in the future.’ Over thirty years later, this older, slightly more cynical film aficionado is still watching the Artist Formerly Known as Leaf Phoenix. So are a lot of other people.

 Joaquin Phoenix is a chameleon who doesn’t inhabit the roles in the films he painstakingly chooses so much as he blends into and becomes the characters themselves; a misguided young lothario in Gus Van Sant’s To Die For; an imprisoned American abroad facing a death sentence in Joseph Ruben’s very underrated Return to Paradise; a wicked and sly turn as a small-town bully who terrorizes a hapless Sean Penn in Oliver Stone’s U-Turn; a tortured rockabilly singer turned country music star in James Mangold’s Walk the Line. These are just a few of Phoenix’s impressive early turns in a career that has run the gamut from the sublime to the surreal. The one constant? A solid and capable journeyman of a character actor trapped in the body of a movie star. His work rings true and he is one of those rare craftsmen whose consummate acting can even transcend the most clichéd of movie projects (Looking at you, Ladder 49).

 Unlike most of his generation, Phoenix has not fully succumbed to the super hero movie and franchise sci-fi and fantasy craze that has swept the world over the last decade or so. Only his fellow actor and contemporary Leonardo DiCaprio can boast such a feat. Joker is ostensibly of the genre that has spawned such recent features as Wonder Woman, Iron Man and The Avengers, yet the performance by Phoenix in the titular role flirts closer to such filmatic tragedies as usually essayed by the likes of other great and noted actors over the years such as Montgomery Clift, James Dean and, yes, River Phoenix. Joaquin Phoenix can still proudly proclaim he’s never succumbed to the four colored world of comics (not that there’s anything wrong with that genre: Witness Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Donner’s original Superman and a couple of other standouts) because his immense talents have elevated what could have been strictly popcorn fare into something more, something with real substance and depth. Joaquin Phoenix has successfully raised the bar and changed the possibilities of what a so-called super hero flick can be when entrusted to the right creative team.

 And now that very renegade spirit which he so imbued every frame of celluloid with in Joker has earned Phoenix a much deserved Oscar nomination which many people, including ye olde blushing writer, feels he richly deserves. After all, it’s not every actor that can make us empathize and feel for an irredeemable villain such as Arthur Fleck. Joaquin Phoenix, through his own mystical vessel which is one of his true gifts, helps us see the damaged soul underneath the bluster and insanity of the arch-villain known as the Joker. It’s something this uber-talented thespian has been doing for decades in a variety of roles; finding the redemptive in the irredeemable and allowing us to empathize with the previously non-empathetic. For that, in my humble opinion, he should have won the Oscar years ago. Here’s to many more Oscar nominations – and wins – for one of our finest actors.

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Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid eSports League Announced https://ventsmagazine.com/2020/01/14/power-rangers-battle-for-the-grid-esports-league-announced/ https://ventsmagazine.com/2020/01/14/power-rangers-battle-for-the-grid-esports-league-announced/#respond Tue, 14 Jan 2020 18:07:29 +0000 https://ventsmagazine.com/?p=273204 POWER RANGERS: Battle for the Grid invites the best players from across the country to come together to see who reigns supreme! nWay, in partnership with Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ: HAS) and global content leader Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF.A, LGF.B), today announced the POWER RANGERS: Battle for the Grid League.  Starting in January 2020, nWay is teaming up with local fighting game communities to discover who is the best POWER RANGERS: Battle for the Grid player in the country.

Participants in the League will accumulate Grid Points by competing in a series of sanctioned community-driven offline and online events, as well as through Episodes, which are in-game challenges where players compete in matches and earn medals to climb the leaderboard ranks. Sanctioned community-organized events include online tournaments and local events in multiple states with prizes awarded.

The seven players with the highest Grid Points at the end of the season, plus the winner of a last chance qualifier tournament, will be invited to compete for the chance to become the first ever POWER RANGERS: Battle for the Grid League Champion in the series finale at Evolution 2020 in Las Vegas in August. 

The POWER RANGERS: Battle for the Grid League has planned stops at the following fighting game majors:

Frosty Faustings (January 17-18, Chicago)

Final Round (March 20-22, Atlanta)

NorCal Regionals (April 10-12, San Jose)

April Annihilation (April 10-12, New Jersey)

ComboBreaker (May 23-25, Chicago)

CEO Gaming (June 26-28, Orlando) 

Evolution 2020 (July 31 – August 1, Las Vegas)

The first sanctioned event is scheduled on January 17, 2020 at Frosty Faustings in Chicago. For more information and registration, competitors can visit http://frostyfaustings.com.

For more information about POWER RANGERS: Battle for the Grid League visit www.battleforthegrid.com/league. More details on sanctioned online tournaments and local events will follow. The latest news and updates will be posted on POWER RANGERS: Battle for the Grid’s social media channels at https://www.facebook.com/Powerrangersbattleforthegrid/ and https://twitter.com/Battle4TheGrid.

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Rian Johnson And The Best Oscar Nomination Of Them All https://ventsmagazine.com/2020/01/14/rian-johnson-and-the-best-oscar-nomination-of-them-all/ https://ventsmagazine.com/2020/01/14/rian-johnson-and-the-best-oscar-nomination-of-them-all/#comments Tue, 14 Jan 2020 16:14:34 +0000 https://ventsmagazine.com/?p=273022 The Oscar nominations have arrived once again. There has been cheering and jeering, mostly jeering because nobody is ever truly happy with the nominations from the Academy Awards. That’s even more true when a movie like Joker becomes one of only a couple dozen movies with 11 or more nominations. I have to admit I have my disappointments as well. Personally, I felt Robert De Niro’s performance in The Irishman was the best of the year, but he didn’t get a nomination. There is one nomination I am really happy about, though. Rian Johnson is up for Best Original Screenplay for Knives Out.

Film critic types, cineastes if you will, often call Best Original Screenplay the “cool” Oscar. You can have your Best Picture and your Best Actress, but these types get hyped for Best Original Screenplay. Personally, I’m into all of them. Not every Oscar category, sorry Best Documentary Short Subject, but I care about a lot of the big ones, and even some of the medium ones. As a writer, I definitely care about the screenplay awards, and I understand why film fans get so invested in Best Original Screenplay. It’s creating a world in words.

Resultado de imagen para knives out rian johnson"

It’s a fine category this year. That includes Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won for Parasite, which is kind of amazing. In the end, Quentin Tarantino is probably going to win for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood… and that’s fine with me. That’s a great script. However, as cliché as this sounds, Johnson sort of wins just by getting a nomination.

Knives Out is a fantastic movie. It’s maybe my favorite film of the year. I didn’t expect much from the Oscars, even if Ana de Armas could have gotten a nod. I could have seen it getting nominations for Best Production Design or Best Costume Design. Shout out to Chris Evans’ sweater everybody fell in love with. In the end, though, it only got one nomination, and that went to Johnson.

Resultado de imagen para knives out rian johnson"

He is very much deserving, and so is his film. If you are only going to get one nomination for a film, you can’t do much better than Best Original Screenplay. After all, you aren’t going to get just a Best Picture nomination, and probably not just a Best Director nod either. Johnson’s film deserved both, frankly, but this is a nice bit of attention for his film to get. Knives Out is a whodunit, after all. He had to plot an intricate murder mystery while also creating interesting characters and probing themes on top of that. Johnson nailed all that.

Come Oscar night, Johnson isn’t going to win for Knives Out. That’s a shame, but in the end I’m happy just to see him get nominated. It’s my favorite nomination of the bunch.

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“It’s What It Is”: Robert De Niro Gets No Love from the Oscars for “The Irishman” https://ventsmagazine.com/2020/01/13/its-what-it-is-robert-de-niro-gets-no-love-from-the-oscars-for-the-irishman/ https://ventsmagazine.com/2020/01/13/its-what-it-is-robert-de-niro-gets-no-love-from-the-oscars-for-the-irishman/#comments Mon, 13 Jan 2020 19:35:48 +0000 https://ventsmagazine.com/?p=272977 In the annals of film history there have been some pretty major oversights by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the word “Snubs” might be more accurate if we want to split hairs): Clark Gable failing to receive an Oscar nomination for the 1939 classic film, Gone With the Wind; No nomination for Leonardo DiCaprio for Titanic; No Academy love for River Phoenix in two impressive, powerhouse roles: Dogfight and My Own Private Idaho. We can argue until the cows come home about headscratchers such as Saving Private Ryan losing out for Best Picture to the fun, yet ultimately empty calorie trifle Shakespeare in Love or Denzel Washington getting his Best Actor statue not for his superlative and transcendent work in Malcom X but, instead, for programmer B fare Training Day. But, at least in the case of those aforementioned two misplaced Oscars, these performances and films were at least honored with nominations. The former examples however were shafted, given the boot, left out in the cold and just straight up ignored in favor of Academy and Hollywood politics and their failure to perhaps wine and dine the right people in the industry (for more on some of the dubious practices in Hollywood, particularly around awards season, ye olde scribbler humbly suggests you check out the superlative Peter Biskind book, Down and Dirty Pictures). It’s a story as old as, well, Hollywood and for every film, performance, director, etc. that has been rightly recognized by the Academy there are a galaxy of stars that have become notable for their confusing omissions.

Such has been the most recent case with the not at all shocking absence this morning of film legend Robert De Niro from the list of nominees for the 92nd annual Academy Awards.

 De Niro shined in 2019 with the best work he’s committed to celluloid in years: Director Martin Scorsese’s magnum opus, The Irishman. As a hitman and right-hand confidante of Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino, also in some of the best work he’s been involved with in some time), De Niro brought a quiet intensity to what easily could have been an indecipherable and one-note part. Under the guiding hand of master storyteller Scorsese however, along with his own considerable acting prowess, De Niro was a living example of the old adage of “still waters run deep.” Make no mistake, this is not the Bobby De Niro of Meet the Parents or Dirty Grandpa: Rather, in the role of “house painter” Frank Sheeran, De Niro is returning to territory he first staked out in such classics as Mean Streets, Godfather Two, Taxi Driver, This Boy’s Life, Heat and Marvin’s Room. The territory is still the same; high stakes, over the top drama that borders on comedy and drama and pathos. De Niro himself though is different: More intensity (this is saying a lot for an actor whose chief calling card has always been the word “Intensity”) that has grown even more still and quiet and in turn, even more weighted with meaning and layers. It’s a new Golden Age for one of America’s finest actors.

 All of the above makes Robert De Niro’s exclusion not only by the Oscars but by such standard bearers as the Hollywood Foreign Press for The Irishman baffling; it’s akin to the New York Yankees winning the 1927 World Series and not recognizing the efforts of The Sultan of Swat, Babe Ruth in the endeavor.

 When watching the Golden Globes with my Better Half recently, I commented on De Niro’s absence from the nominee list for Best Actor. “This does not bode well for De Niro’s Oscar chances,” I noted to my wife as we sat down to watch the proceedings. This was no great insight into Hollywood on my part, just a commonly known bit of Hollywood lore: “As the Globes go, so goes the Oscars.” The Hollywood Foreign Press and their picks for Golden Globes have always been seen as a bellwether for the Grand Poobah of awards ceremonies, the Academy Awards. Their exclusion of one of the better performances by an actor for 2019 was simple foreshadowing of the Academy and their own announced nominations today.

 There’s a brilliant bit in The Irishman where Joe Pesci’s mobster Russell Bufalino in a resigned manner lays his cards obliquely on the table for De Niro’s character regarding the fate of Jimmy Hoffa.

 Bufalino: Listen, Frank. Things have gotten out of hand with our friend again. And some people are having serious problems with him. And, uh, it’s at a point where you’re going to have to talk to him and tell him, it’s what it is.

Frank Sheeran: What it is?

Bufalino: Yes. It’s what they want. It’s where it’s gotten…

This morning as I listened to Oscar nominations as I sipped my morning coffee, I was reminded of that now classic exchange between two master actors as De Niro’s name was bypassed in favor of other actors. Before I could spit out my coffee and gesticulate in aggravated fashion at my television set I took a deep breath. It was a major oversight by the Academy, yes. The role of Frank Sheeran was some of the best acting Mr. De Niro had delivered in quite some time, yes. De Niro’s acting was, in my humble opinion, better than that of one or two nominees who may have edged out one of our finest thespians, yes. But, to borrow a cinematic line from The Irishman, “It’s what it is.”

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