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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week 9/30/2015

Happy blood moon everyone. Good to have you back for another episode of the Crank File. The last Wednesday in September is the clam before the storm. Surprisingly no Marvel books make it to the short list this week. But the first week of October is being called Monster Week and it is going to be crazy: Marvel launches it’s all-new, all-different universe with #1’s for Amazing Spider-man, Invincible Iron Man and Dr. Strange and even Secret Wars #6 is showing up late to the party. And let’s not forget Jughead #1, Paper Girls #1, Batman and Robin Eternal #1 and new issues from Star Wars, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Southern Bastards and Miracle Man. But even on a slow week there are a few books that I’m super excited about. So let’s do it to it. Comics that is.


Here’s what I’m reading this week:


The Top of the Pile: Sandman Overture #6 Vertigo




It’s finally here. #6 is the final issue in the mini-series, and will lead into the events that started it all over 30 years ago in 1989’s Sandman #1. Sandman is my favorite work of fiction in any medium and is, in my opinion, the high-water mark for what story telling can achieve through sequential art. So this pick should come as a surprise to no one. Sandman: Overture has been everything that I have ever wanted from a Sandman prequel and I hope that it’s not the last we see of you Orpheus, Lord of Dreams.



The Mainstream One: Batman Annual #4 DC




If you’re currently reading any of the Batman titles, you already know that things in Gotham have gotten strange. For better or worse, Bruce Wayne is not Batman. Although I have no idea how Snyder will play this out, we can all rest assured that Bruce will undoubtedly wear the cape and cowl once again. The tragedy is that Bruce geniunely seems happy not being the Batman. A kick-ass Batman cover done by the phenomenal Sean Murphy and content by the immensely talented James TynionIV to boot, Batman annual #4 examines the relationship between Gotham, Bruce Wayne and the Batman.



The Indie One: Archie #3 Archie




Many of the successful females in fiction worked as duos. Lucy and Ethel, Thelma and Luise, Laverne and Shirley, Paris and Nicole. Archie #3 re-introduces Veronica Lodge the third and final vertice in the Betty / Veronica love triangle. Issue #3 will also be the final issue featuring 2015 Harvey Award’s Best Artist Fiona Staples. Writer Mark Waid will stay on, teaming up with artists Annie Wu for issue #4 and Crank File favorite Veronica Fish starting in issue #5. Loving that Jughead cover.



Last Week’s Leftovers: Grayson #12 DC




This issue was a great read. The prodigal returns to Gotham as Grayson takes a break from spying for a Bat family reunion. Definitely worth a look on a light week.


Carpe Comics!

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The Female Perspective: Celebrate Banned Books Week In Style!

Welcome! This is the weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.

This week it’s been brought to my attention that it is Banned Books Week (Sept 27-Oct 3), a glorious week for those of us who love the written word and cannot possibly understand why anyone would want to BAN others from reading a book.

Truly, it boggles the mind.

bbw warning

I have written previously about banning books and this week I wanted to write a blog post about what Banned Books mean to me, because I’ve read some of them (often without realizing that they are even banned) and there are many, many others that I wish to read as soon as I have the time (ha-ha!) but more than anything else, I wanted to share this information with others so that they too can check out these books that cause such a kerfuffle among parents and other administrators. Why the fuss? What’s the big deal? Why don’t we want our kids to learn about all aspects of life? Even the messy bits are important in shaping their minds into … Well, bigger, better minds. If we shield them from everything, how the heck will they learn?

First off, here is a good list from the Banned & Challenged Books website that lists some of the top 10 most challenged books.  Tell me, how many of these have YOU read?

1)      The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie

Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”

2)      Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi

Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions”

3)      And Tango Makes Three, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”

4)      The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison

Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues”

5)      It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris

Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “alleges it child pornography”

6)      Saga, by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Reasons: Anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group. Additional reasons:

7)      The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence

8)      The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”

9)      A Stolen Life, Jaycee Dugard

Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group

10)  Drama, by Raina Telgemeier

Reasons: sexually explicit

~From the Banned & Challenged Books 

I have to say that I have only read two of those books, The Kite Runner and The Bluest Eye, both were excellent books and both were chock-full of challenging (i.e. difficult) material. More importantly, both were chock-full of amazing writing, vibrant ideas and brilliant thematic elements. Both were well worth my time and the time of many others.


When I then look at a list of some of the most challenged literary classics, there are many more I’ve read  because I was lucky to have decent teachers who wanted us to actually read the classics and no one stopped them. There was an appreciation for the literature. Others, I have read since school and have enjoyed immensely.

1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses, by James Joyce
7. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
9. 1984, by George Orwell
10. Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov
11. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
12. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
13. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
14. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
~See the full list here!

Oh man, some of these are favorites of mine, Animal Farm is one of the best books I’ve ever read and that one, along with 1984, are both extremely topical in today’s bizarro and often frightening political landscape. Along with that you have Beloved which is a horribly tragic, yet utterly compelling read and The Color Purple which blew my mind the first time I read it. I could go on and on but if you’re any kind of reader, you get the idea.

Banned Book Staff Picks 2012_Page_1
FYI this is from a previous year, this year Banned Books Week runs September 27th through October 3rd.

To put this into simplistic terms, banning books is wrong. Who gave anyone the right to decide what’s “appropriate” reading material for others? Who gave that power to one person (or persons)?

We all have minds (supposedly) and should be allowed to choose for ourselves what we want to read and absorb. Not to mention, parents who fight to ban books in the name of their (or other kids) so-called innocence are fighting the wrong battle. Pay better attention to what your kids are ingesting or who they’re hanging out with, not what they’re reading. Just be glad they’re READING and not looking at a computer screen. Yeesh.


In my searching for material for this blog, I came across a beautifully written post where a teacher had to defend their right to teach Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaids Tale, a story I read many years ago and really need to revisit again. It is a brutal tale about a dystopian world where women are basically “incubators on legs” – it does not paint a pretty picture but it’s also so well-written and thought out that to not read it seems a disgrace in many ways. Regardless, this teacher sums up quite beautifully why reading such book is actually important in schools and why it is a valid choice to teach children critical thinking.

I’ll only include the last line from it here but if you wish to read the entire post, click here.

 I would add only that one of the functions of literature is to shed light into the corners of our world, even if what we find there is unpleasant.

~Josh Corman

I couldn’t say it better myself. Without literature, we would not have the light that illuminates our thoughts, our ideas, our very own creativity and critical thinking abilities. While some literature is better than others, it is all valuable in that it offers a passage into other worlds, some good, some bad, but almost all are worthwhile and all should be able to be accessed by anyone who wants to enter that world.

Finally, I came across this other article on Book Riot about how, according to Slate, Banned Books week isn’t really necessary anymore because books are widely available online or at other libraries or stores you can easily  drive to. The author, who is rebutting Slate’s idea, makes a good point about what libraries are there for;

When books are challenged, even when the result is not a full ban!, nobody wins.

Consider that libraries aren’t there to shrug and suggest Amazon when you’re looking for a book. They’re there to provide the books, not only to those who can’t afford to purchase all of their reading material, or are unable to drive to the next nearest library, but to anybody with an interest.

Libraries are a marketplace of ideas, and if they’re going to operate in a truly democratic fashion, all ideas should be represented. ~Michelle Anne Schingler

The point is, just because we can order everything on Amazon, it does not mean that everyone else can too. It doesn’t mean that challenging or banning books is ever going to be okay simply because you can then go online and buy it. There are many who cannot do that. Who will never know the sadness of reading The Diary of Anne Frank or the mind boggling medical mess that is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. There are many who will not get to read some of these banned books because they are banned and they’ll never cross those people’s radars. Banning books is wrong, it is futile and it is a problem that has persisted for hundreds of years. This is why Banned Books Week is important, because it reminds us all of the power of the written word and it brings to light all those books that maybe someone hasn’t gotten a chance to read but now will see and read and it will change their life view just a little bit more.

Make sure to pick up a banned book this week and every week!

What do you think about banned books? Have you read any that you love? Do you agree with the parents that try to ban books? Sound off in the comments section below. I want to hear your thoughts!


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Trailer Snark (September 25, 2015 Theatrical Trailers)

Welcome to Trailer Snark, a weekly column covering trailers for movies that will be released this week with thoughts from our roster of bloggers (Jessica from The Female Perspective, Ken from The Crank File, Jim from The Front Row View, Rob from Spector for Hire, and Great Stories founder Chris).  Thanks for reading, and enjoy the previews!

Last Week:  Did anyone think Maze Runner would not take top prize?  The teen audience united for a weekend of adventure and drama giving the second installment (named Scorch Trials) at box office victory with just over $30M in receipts.  The Johnny Depp portrayal of the infamous mobsters, Whitey Bulger, came in second.  Black Mass accumulated just over $25M in business.  The Visit was down two spots in its second week in release with another $11M ($42M overall).  The Perfect Guy took in another $9.6M ($41M overall), and Everest debuted at number five with its limited to IMAX theaters first week ($7.5M).  Everest will expand to wide release this week.  The last half of the top ten fell in this order:  6.  War Room  7.  Walk in the Woods  8. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation  9.  Straight Outta Compton  10.  Captive

So what’s hitting theaters today?

Hotel Transylvania 2 (Sony) – Animated/Family
Rated PG for some scary images, action and rude humor
Tag Line: Drac’s pack is back!
Starring:  Adam Sandler, Adam Samberg, Selena Gomez, Steve Buscemi, and Kevin James
Plot:  Dracula and his friends try to bring out the monster in his half human, half vampire grandson in order to keep Mavis from leaving the hotel.
Running Time: 89 minutes

Ken:  Family friendly vampire movies suck more than just blood.
Chris: I wasn’t too enthralled with the original.  Sorry Happy.
Jessica: Didn’t see the first one, don’t care about the sequel.

The Intern (Warner Bros) – Comedy
Rated PG-13 for some suggestive content and brief strong language
Tag Line: Experience never gets old
Starring: Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, and Rene Russo
Plot: 70-year-old widower Ben Whittaker has discovered that retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Seizing an opportunity to get back in the game, he becomes a senior intern at an online fashion site, founded and run by Jules Ostin.
Running Time: 121 minutes

Ken: Looks dull beyond words
Chris: Right you are Ken.  I practically fell asleep during the two and a half minute trailer.
Jessica: I think I fell asleep. What the heck DeNiro?

The Green Inferno (High Top Releasing) – Horror
Rated R for aberrant violence and torture, grisly disturbing images, brief graphic nudity, sexual content, language and some drug use
Tag Line:  Fear will consume you.
Starring: Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, and Aaron Burns
Plot: A group of student activists travels to the Amazon to save the rain forest and soon discover that they are not alone, and that no good deed goes unpunished.
Running Time:  100 minutes

Jessica: Now THIS is my speed baby! It’s Roth’s homage to the Cannibal films back in the day. “Cannibal Ferox” and “Cannibal Holocaust” and all that disgusting nonsense. I have been waiting for this one for awhile as Roth had problems getting backing for it but you can bet your butts I’ll be there when it comes out!
Ken: Anyone have an extra pair of pants? I like Roth’s horror movies but wish they were more intellectual and less torture fests.
Chris: I have to say my skin was crawling (or was it being eaten?) during this trailer.  I have a feeling the content will be depraved, gory, and horrific beyond words, but I think that is what Eli Roth is aiming for here.  Proceed with caution ye of faint heart.

Stonewall (Roadside Attractions) – Drama
Rated R for sexual content, language throughout, some violence and drug use
Tag Line: None
Starring: Ron Perlman, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Jeremy Irvine
Plot: A young man’s political awakening and coming of age during the days and weeks leading up to the Stonewall Riots.
Running Time: 129 minutes

Jessica: I’m a sucker for true story movies like this. Not only is it perfect for today’s times it looks dang good.
Ken: Looks solid. A bit gay, but solid nonetheless.
Chris: A piece of civil rights history in the making.  Always interesting topical matter.  Just not on the big screen.

99 Homes (Broad Green Pictures) – Drama
Rated R for language including some sexual references, and a brief violent image
Tag Line:  Greed is the only game in town
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon, and Laura Dern
Plot: A father struggles to get back the home that his family was evicted from by working for the greedy real estate broker who’s the source of his frustration.
Running Time: 112 minutes

Chris: Effective trailer.  Michael Shannon once played the title character in a movie called The Iceman.  The title could certainly apply to his role here too.
Jessica: Eh. I like Michael Shannon quite a bit and would probably only watch it because he’s in and he looks like he is a bad man.
Ken: The 1% are such an easy target. Michael Shannon might as well be wearing a cloak and monacle, twirling his moustache.

The Keeping Room (Drafthouse Films) – Drama
Rated R for strong violence including a sexual assault
Tag Line:  Some things are worth fighting for.
Starring: Brit Marling, Hailee Steinfeld, and Sam Worthington
Plot: Left without men in the dying days of the American Civil War, three Southern women – two sisters and one African-American slave – must fight to defend their home and themselves from two rogue soldiers who have broken off from the fast-approaching Union Army.
Running Time: 95 minutes

Chris: I think the trailer showed too much, but the movie looks like it could be a winner.
Ken: That was an unexpected thrill. Keeping Room looks amazing.
Jessica: I’m intrigued about a “female western with bite” but not theater cost intrigued. At home watching intrigued.

Mississippi Grind (A24) – Drama
Rated R for language
Tag Line: We can’t lose.
Starring: Ben Mendelsohn and Ryan Reynolds
Plot: Down on his luck and facing financial hardship, Gerry teams up with younger charismatic poker player, Curtis, in an attempt to change his luck. The two set off on a road trip through the South with visions of winning back what’s been lost.
Running Time: 108 minutes

Ken: Fold.
Chris: I became a Ben Mendelsohn fan after watching Bloodline on Netflix.  Add in a little Ryan Reynolds and this pair look like they may have made a bit of movie magic together.  Count me in!
Jessica: I enjoy Reynolds but I’ll probably never watch this.

Tickets Purchased:  Without the input of Rob and Jim, we are left with a three-way split.  One ticket for The Keeping Room (Ken), one ticket for The Green Inferno (Jessica), and one ticket for Mississippi Grind (Chris)

Do you know how hard it was to come up with an image to include strong female characters (The Keeping Room), the treacherous Amazon (The Green Inferno), and gambling (Mississippi Grind)? Now you know….
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The Female Perspective: Selfies, The Silent Killer

Welcome! This is a twice-weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.

I read an interesting article today about how Selfies have killed people more than shark attacks in 2015. At first I laughed thinking, well, there you go. Then my laughter took on a different tone, of sadness. Because yes, this is the world in which we live. Where in one year at least 12 people have died while taking selfies (compare that to the 8 that died via shark attack).

FYI, you're still awesome and a part of this world even if we don't see your selfie's every day.
FYI, you’re still awesome and a part of this world even if we don’t see your selfie’s every day.

The fact is, we live in a world now where everyone with a smartphone has a camera and camcorder. Where you can photograph every special moment of your life with ease and then download it onto your social media of choice. Or you can take a myriad of selfie’s to show everyone how hot you are. I’ve taken plenty of selfie’s but not once have I done so while in a dangerous spot.  Others, have not been so luck.

Deaths have been caused by distracted photo-takers falling off cliffs, crashing their cars, being hit by trains, and even shooting themselves while posing with guns.

So what’s up with people thinking that even today it’s okay to take a photo of yourself while driving a car? Why is it we forget to “mind our surroundings” when taking a selfie in a potentially dangerous locale? What is it that makes us feel the need to take that selfie at any cost?


The article from Science Alert goes on to quote from some of the researchers in a study done on the reasons why selfie’s are so vital for some people.

“It’s all about me. It’s putting me in the frame. I’m getting attention and when I post that to social media, I’m getting the confirmation that I need from other people that I’m awesome,” lead researcher Jesse Fox told Reuters. “You don’t care about the tourist attraction you’re destroying; you don’t care about annoying people in your social media feed … you’re not even thinking about the consequences of your actions, so who cares if you’re dangling off the side of the Eiffel Tower?” ~Reuters

The selfie trend is so prevalent that officials in Russia (not a great example) have implemented laws to try and stop people from putting their lives in danger just to get that “awesome shot.”

In June, two men in the Ural Mountains died after posing pulling the pin from a hand grenade; in May a woman survived shooting herself in the head in her Moscow office; a month later a 21-year-old university graduate plunged 40 feet (12 meters) to her death while posing hanging from a Moscow bridge. ~Reuters

It’s fascinating to think about what goes into the mind of someone who takes  selfie in a place that could potentially kill them, or do something that could cause their demise. It’s horrible, sure, but at the same time what goes through someone’s mind when they decide to dangle off of a bridge to get a picture?


Honestly it all seems to be about narcissism and of loneliness.  It’s what makes us want to connect with our fellow humans via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram anyway we can. We are hoping that by putting up such a crazy photo, that we’ll get people “Liking” it and posting comments about how amazing the shot is and how crazy, carefree, awesome, etc the photographer is (*please note, this is only for extreme selfie photographers not for the occasional selfie). It’s a way to get attention because you feel as though you aren’t getting enough in some other aspect of your life. In the end, it’s one of the reasons why our social media obsessed world is flawed and dangerous.

In Yellowstone National Park exasperated officials issued warnings after five separate selfie takers were gored this summer while standing too near bison. ~Reuters

So maybe, before you take that selfie of yourself hanging off your roof with a live grenade and a posse of tigers below you, take a few minutes to think about how this might end. You aren’t invincible, and dying while taking a selfie is both ridiculous and horrific for those you leave behind.

Also, I promise you that you still exist even if we don’t see your face every single hour of every single day. Stop taking so many pictures and live the life you’re having. Connect with your fellow social media peeps in another way. Even better, get out into the world and actually experience it. It’s a pretty awesome place, I promise.

What is the weirdest place you took a selfie? Have you ever put yourself in danger for a good photo? Why or why not? What is your opinion on selfies? Good, bad, ugly? Sound off in the comments.

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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week 9/23/2015

Hey there comic book fans. So good to have you back for another installment of the Crank File. In totally non-comic related news, the 2015 NFL season is only two weeks old and Tom Brady has over 750 yards passing, 7 touch downs and the New England Patriots are two n oh. Suck it Goodell.


Ok back to the books. We’re more than halfway through September and Secret Wars #6 is not on shelves this week. Secret Wars is such an enormous, unwieldy event that it was bound to stumble along the way. Marvel only has a few weeks left before they launch their “All-new, all-different” Marvel Universe, will they wrap up Secret Wars in time? Stay tuned true believers.


Here’s What I’m Reading This Week:


Top of the Pile: Squarriors #4 Devil’s Due




Issue #4 will be the final issue of the first Squarriors miniseries. This title has been a surprise gem. Ashley Witten’s artwork is gorgeous. But don’t be fooled by the cute and cuddly looking animals, Squarriors is absolutely brutal. Game of Thrones level brutal and just as enjoyable. Squarriors has already been given the green-light for a second series, so I anticipate an action packed finale capped off with a wicked cliffhanger to keep us coming back.



The Mainstream One: Weirdworld #4 Marvel




Weirdworld #3 did something that few comics have ever done, which is make me laugh out loud. Holy crap, I nearly fell off my chair when we finally got a look at Warbow’s map of Weirdwold. Hands down my favorite Secret Wars tie-in/spin-off/whatever, Weirdworld is phenomenal. It’s a mashup of fantasy, action and humor splashed with absolutely insane visuals that hide strange new surprises at every turn. This week, Man-thing. Let’s get weird with it.



The Indie One: Fight Club 2 #5 Dark Horse




Fight Club 2 has been a weird, meta experience that loves reminding you how unconventional it is. And it works. In issue #5 we’ll be seeing ladies getting involved with Project Mayhem. “No girls allowed” was never one of the rules of Fight Club. Chuck Palanhuik is one of the unique voices of our generation. He’s not afraid to experiment with weird ideas or to say things that could offend and comic book seem to be the perfect medium for his eccentric sensibilities. Issue 5, Fight!



The #1 One: Wild’s End Enemy Within #1 Boom




The first Wild’s End miniseries kept us in constant suspense with its unlikely mash-up of War of the Worlds and The Wind in the Willows. As Clive, Susan, Fawkes, and the other survivors of the alien invasion of Lower Crowchurch try to cope with what just happened to their small town, the military arrives in an attempt to cover up the ‘incident.’ Town residents are immediately detained, questioned, and treated with suspicion. Clive and the rest will need to escape imprisonment if they’re to get the word out and warn the rest of the world in case the aliens return.



The One I’m Buying for the Cover: 1872 #3 Marvel




A steampunk Iron Man suit. Nuff said.



The Speculation One: Scooby-Doo Team-up #12 DC




No, you didn’t eat too many scoobie snacks. A Scooby-doo book is making the spec list and it’s all due to the incorrigible Harley Quinn. Terry Hoknes over at pointed this out earlier: Harley Quinn fans buy any book with Harley in it. A typical print run for a Scooby-doo comic is roughly 10K. A typical Harley Quinn print run is around 60K. 50,000 Harley fans will be left wanting on Wednesday. Already pre-selling for $20 – $25 on eBay. Crazy.


Did you know Harley Quinn was inspired by a daytime soap opera character? Days of Our Lives actress Arleen Sorkin played a clown during a dream sequence and you can see the heavy influence in Harley’s costume design.




Sorkin would later go on to voice Harley Quinn in the quintessential 90’s cartoon, the Batman: The Animated Series. She has been the voice of Harley in numerous animated series and video games.


Carpe Comics!

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Trailer Snark (September 18 2015 Theatrical Releases)

Welcome to Trailer Snark, a weekly column covering trailers for movies that will be released this week with thoughts from our roster of bloggers (Jessica from The Female Perspective, Ken from The Crank File, Jim from The Front Row View, Rob from Spector for Hire, and Great Stories founder Chris).  Thanks for reading, and enjoy the previews!

Last Week: It was a dogfight for the top spot at the box office this past weekend but in the end, The Perfect Guy ($26.7M) edged out The Visit ($25.6M).  While these are not staggering numbers, both films have already turned big profits thanks to their low budgets.  War Room, last week’s number one, dropped to number three with $7.4M in receipts ($39M overall).  The rest of the field scored under $5M in box office and landed in the following order:  A Walk in the Woods, Mission Impossible Rogue Nation, Straight Outta Compton, No Escape, The Transporter Refueled, the debuting 90 Minutes in Heaven, and the foreign film Un Gallo Con Muchos Huevos.  There is no doubt, however, that by next week we will be crowning a new box office champion with some serious contenders vying for the honors.  Let’s take a look!

Everest (Universal) – Adventure/Drama/Thriller
Rated PG-13 for intense peril and disturbing images
Tag Line: Never let go
Starring:  Josh Brolin, Jason Clarke, Keira Knightley, Jake Gyllenhaal, Sam Worthington, and Emily Watson.
Plot: A climbing expedition on Mt. Everest is devastated by a severe snow storm.
Running Time: 121 minutes

Jessica: I have a mild to moderate obsession with Mt. Everest so I actually have seen another movie (though the name eludes me) about this exact Everest disaster – it’s a very compelling story and a very tragically sad one. This looks really good, great actors (I love me some Brolin) and hopefully does a good job with respecting the individual stories of that day on the mountain. Either way, it’s right up my Everest alley.
Ken: I’m petrified of heights. I get vertigo watching this trailer on my laptop screen. Windowed. The effects look insane, this might be the one to watch in theaters.
Rob: One of the penultimate man versus nature tales, and it looks like a good one.
Chris: My life group is discussing pushing the limitations of what we believe possible, and I can think of no better physical example than those that brave the perilous journey to the top of Mount Everest.  The movie looks beautiful, terrifying, and riveting.  Can’t miss it.

Maze Runner:  The Scorch Trials (Twentieth Century Fox) – Action/Drama
Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of violence and action, some thematic elements, substance use and language
Tag Line: The maze was just the beginning
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Plot: After having escaped the Maze, the Gladers now face a new set of challenges on the open roads of a desolate landscape filled with unimaginable obstacles.
Running Time: 131 minutes

Ken: Never read the books, didn’t watch the first movie, wasn’t planning on seeing the second one either but the trailer for Scorch Trails was entertaining. I’ll give it a look down the road when it comes to homes.
Chris: The first movie was decent enough, especially when measured against its teen drama contemporaries, but it is just not my choice cup of tea.  Particularly in the face of such other strong competition this week.  Consider it a rental for me.
Jessica: I read the series that these books are based on and I’ll say this, they were wickedly entertaining and the first movie did a bang-on job with getting the story right. i have a lot of faith that this one will follow its lead.

Black Mass (Warner Bros) – Biography/Crime/Drama
Rated R for brutal violence, language throughout, some sexual references and brief drug use
Tag Line: Based on the true story of one of the most notorious gangsters in U.S. history
Starring: Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Bacon, Dakota Johnson, and Joel Edgerton.
Plot: The true story of Whitey Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf.
Running Time: 122 minutes

Chris: Looks well-acted.  Its a dark story for those of us who have grown up in the Boston area.  Movies such as this run the risk of glamorizing the monster, which I hope the filmmakers manage to avoid.
Jessica: Oh man, there aren’t enough excited adjectives to express how excited I am about this movie. I have total faith that Johnny Depp is going to rock this role, can’t wait!
Ken: Before Disney and that unfortunate late Burton phase, Johnny Depp was considered one of the great American actors of our generation. He’s back to playing serious character roles and the results look spectacular. Black Mass has the makings of a classic gangster film.

Sicario (Lionsgate) – Action/Crime/Drama
Rated R for strong violence, grisly images, and language
Tag Line: The border is just another line to cross.
Starring: Josh Brolin, Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, and Jon Bernthal
Plot: An idealistic FBI agent is enlisted by an elected government task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico.
Running Time: 121 minutes

Jessica: I was pleasantly surprised that this trailer looks actually quite interesting (and can we say Brolin again!?!?!). I love Del Toro and Emily Blunt is also a fave of mine. I say this looks like a total win.
Ken: Watched the trailer twice and still have no idea what this is going on, other than drug cartels are crazy. Great cast, but is all that star power enough to get me to lay down cash for this movie? As they say in Mexico, no.
Chris: Which Josh Brolin film do I want to see this week?  Sicario looks like incredible cinema to me.  Going to be a tough choice.

Captive (Paramount) – Crime/Drama
Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements involving violence and substance abuse
Tag Line: Faith. Redemption. Survival.
Starring:  Kate Mara, David Oyelowo, and Mimi RogersPlot: A single mother struggling with drug addiction is taken hostage in her own apartment by a man on the run after breaking out of jail and murdering the judge assigned to his case.
Running Time: 97 minutes

Ken: A formulaic movie that pulls double duty as marketing vehicle for Rick Warren’s devotional, self-help book, The Purpose Driven Life.  
Chris: They should have called the movie by another version of the word.  Captivating.  Two broken people…will they be saved?  I’ll be tuning in.
Jessica: Hmmm … I’m back and forth on this one. Partly sickly sweet, party interesting. I’ll probably catch it online after it’s release.

Pawn Sacrifice (Bleecker Street Media) – Biography/Drama
Rated PG-13 for brief strong language, some sexual content and historical smoking
Tag Line: In 1972, Bobby Fischer faced the Soviet Union in the greatest chess match ever played. On the board he fought the Cold War. In his mind he fought his madness.
Starring:  Tobey Maguire and Liev Schrieber
Plot: Set during the Cold War, American chess prodigy Bobby Fischer finds himself caught between two superpowers and his own struggles as he challenges the Soviet Empire.
Running Time: 114 minutes

Chris: I wonder at how closely the story follows reality.  Color me intrigued. Big fan of Liev Schrieber.
Jessica: I have a massive case of Toby McGuire dislike. I don’t know if it’s because he was Spiderman and I hate spiders and therefore am not a huge fan of Spiderman (yeah, I know it makes no sense, shush) or what but this one kind of leaves me feeling blah. Could be it’s about chess and I could not possibly care less about chess and Bobby Fisher.
Ken: Might ‘check’ it out.

About Ray (Weinstein Company) – Drama/Comedy
Not Rated
Tag Line: A family in transition.
Starring: Naomi Watts, Elle Fanning, and Susan Sarandon
Plot: After Ray decides to transition from female to male, Ray’s mother, Maggie, must come to terms with the decision while tracking down Ray’s biological father to get his legal consent.
Running Time: 87 minutes

Jessica: I LOVE that they are making more movies about transgender and a transgender teen? Awesome on top of awesome. This has a powerhouse cast and looks uplifting and sad and everything it should be. I’ll watch it on DVD or on Amazon or Netflix.
Ken: Pass. But I’m rooting for it.
Chris: Seems like a pretty heartfelt movie.  Not my typical style, but I will check it out when it hits the small screen.

Tickets Purchased: 3 for Everest (Ken, Jessica, and Rob), 1 for Sicario (Chris), and 1 for Black Mass (Jessica on double movie duty).

Ken braves the heights and bumbles on his way to Everest's peak!
Ken braves the heights and bumbles on his way to Everest’s peak!
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The Female Perspective: How “Harry Potter” Changed My Life

Welcome! This is a twice-weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.

I was reading about the upcoming illustrated edition of Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone and it made me think about how much Harry Potter has changed my life.

“Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all those who live without love.”
~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Let me start at the beginning, I wasn’t always a Harry Potter fan. In fact, I rallied against it for many years before a good friend (yes, Celeste, it’s you) and my dying Grandmother made me see that this might be a series worth checking out. Boy were they right. I admit to being 100% wrong on this one.

The world is a better place because of Harry Potter and his gang.
The world is a better place because of Harry Potter and his gang.

By the time I read the Harry Potter books JK Rowling was well into the series and in fact, I was able to read the first 6 without having to wait. Then I, like the rest of the world, had to wait for the final book, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows. I remember that day vividly. I was in CVS on my way to work and I happened to see copies behind the register. I eagerly bought one (even though my mom had pre-ordered a copy for me, I couldn’t wait to pick it up from her house, I had a total moment of the right nows for that book. As in, it had to be in my life right now). I remember getting to work and having about 15-minutes to spare before I had to go in so I looked at the book. I almost didn’t want to open it because I knew once I did I would never have that first moment again. I actually sat for a moment, my hand on the cover and took a couple deep breath’s, preparing myself for the awesome that was sure to be inside.

I then suffered through 6-hours of work!

Once I got home all I did was read, for hours. I read the entire book in that one day. I was done with it by midnight of that sunny Sunday and I was a crying mess. Never before (or really, since) had I read something that touched me so deeply. That made me feel all the feels. That made me so achingly sad and happy at the same time.

An image of Hogwarts by artist Jim Kay who did the new illustrated edition of "Harry Potter & The Sorcerers Stone"
An image of Hogwarts by artist Jim Kay who did the new illustrated edition of “Harry Potter & The Sorcerers Stone”

I love books. I LOVE them. I will never ever replace my library of beautiful pages and paper with electronics. Never. I will always carry a book with me when I go places. I will always enjoy looking at my books, touching them, reading them under a dim light. For me, reading the Harry Potter books was proof of how magical books can really be. I had forgotten that magic in the hustle and bustle of grown-up life. Now, it seems quite silly that I could ever forget how books can transport you to a new (and sometime, better) world.

What struck me about Deathly Hallows was how final it was. I know that Rowling has said since that she would never say never to revisiting the Hogwarts crew but for so many, that was the end game. The final tale to be told about our beloved Harry, Hermoine and Ron. So many of my favorite characters died in those thousand or so pages, so many friends I wished I could meet and so many creatures and adventures I wished I could have … and I did, thanks to Rowling and her ability to craft a story of beautiful words, wonderful people and even more amazing tales.

I’m going to keep going until I succeed — or die. Don’t think I don’t know how this might end. I’ve known it for years.”

~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I think my favorite part of the final book is when Harry finally goes to confront Voldemort in the woods. He uses the Deathly Hallows to resurrect the people he loved who had passed on. They urged him on, they kept him stumbling down that hill to an impossible fate. To a choice that no child should ever have to make.

Harry Potter: Why are you here, all of you?

Lily Potter: We never left.

Harry Potter: Does it hurt, dying?

Sirius Black: Quicker than falling asleep.

James Potter: You’re nearly there, son.

Harry Potter: I’m sorry. I never wanted any of you to die for me. And Remus, your son…

Remus Lupin: Others will tell him what his mother and father died for. One day, he’ll understand.

Harry Potter: You’ll stay with me?

James Potter: Until the end.

Harry Potter: And he won’t be able to see you?

Sirius Black: No. We’re here, you see.

Harry Potter: Stay close to me.

Lily Potter: Always.

~JK Rowling, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows

To this day, I cannot read that passage in the woods (or even see the movie) without crying. It’s so powerful. For all Harry’s bravery and smarts, with all the love that surrounds him, he is still afraid and he wants his family around him. It’s a comfort to imagine that all those that we have lost in this life are still here with us, maybe not in ghostly form, but at least nearby, urging us on, keeping us going, keeping us brave because we are loved and they are always close.

By JK Rowling
By JK Rowling

So how did Harry Potter change my life? Easy. Those books made me see that magic can exist wherever you expect it least (look at Harry, he was in a hopeless situation when that dang owl showed up and everything changed).  I learned that the true measure of a man/woman/etc is how they treat others; that true friendship means sometimes standing up against them when they are wrong.

More than anything, it taught me that the power of love is always, ALWAYS greater than hate (take that Donald Trump) and that no matter what happens, those you love will be with you forever.

JK Rowling also made me a better reader and a better writer. The lessons I learned reading her words and how she crafted them together influenced my own writing and every time I read, every time I re-read Harry Potter I become better at my own craft. If I ever got the chance to meet her I hope I would be able to say that. More likely than note I will go deaf and mute at the sight of her and others will have to speak for me!

What about you? Did you have a mind-blowing Harry Potter experience? Do you love the books? Hate them? Are you like me and going to snatch up the new illustrated edition as soon as you can? Sound off in the comments! Tell me YOUR Harry Potter story.

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The Female Perspective: “Fear The Walking Dead” – Do We Really Care?

Welcome! This is a twice-weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.

But do we really? Or do we just want the cast to get eaten up?
But do we really? Or do we just want the cast to get eaten up?

We’re a few weeks into the newest show by Robert Kirkman and his crew of zombie lovers, Fear The Walking Dead is supposed to take us to the time of the start of the zombie apocalypse. I was never 100% sold on this idea only because I have such love for the crew of The Walking Dead and I’ve never been a huge fan of spin off shows. They are rarely as good as the original source material.

So what do we have with FWD? Not much so far. The first episode, a long 90-minutes of television, goes on and on and ON about these characters that they desperately want us to care about. We have this family, Madison, Travis and Alicia. We have Madison’s son, the drug-addicted Nick and then we have Travis’ other family, his ex-wife Liza and his son Chris.

Got that so far?

See that sullen look on the girl teenager's face? That's Alicia and she looks like that ALL the time.
See that sullen look on the girl teenager’s face? That’s Alicia and she looks like that ALL the time.

In that 90-minutes we see our first zombie fairly quickly but what got me was the loud, dissonant music and weird filming as Nick discovers that his girlfriend has become one of the walking dead. He runs into the street (in weird slo-mo) and gets hit by a car.

Madison (his mother) gets the call and rushes to the hospital because her son had been missing for awhile now and they were all waiting for the call to tell them he was dead or in jail. No such luck mom, he’s alive and well… well, well-er than he should be considering the fact that he’s beginning withdrawal (but we’ll get to that).

In a slower than a turtle pace, we start to see cracks in the world, zombie-sized cracks but really never see another zombie again, it’s a disappointment to say the least. I won’t go into a critics of each episode but I will say that this past Sunday’s episode was much better than the one’s before it. There were more zombie’s for one and finally some conflict that’s not focused on characters we don’t care about. Though Travis is apparently in such denial that seeing his neighbor eating a dog isn’t quite enough for him to be convinced that something is actually wrong.

Oh yeah, here’s a point that is just irritating. Travis, his ex-wife and son are trapped in a barber shop (with the amazing Ruben Blades as Daniel) and when they get back to it, in the midst of a full-scale LA RIOT, his truck is fine. Despite the fact that people are setting fire to EVERYTHING and rocking cars off their tires. Oh yes, but this is Travis’ truck, it’s totally fine. All I could think was that if this was The Walking Dead, they would have found a burned out shell and had to walk back home. Just saying.

FWD makes me miss my not-so-merry group of survivors...
FWD makes me miss my not-so-merry group of survivors…

Here are my thoughts about the characters. I like Kim Dickens (who plays Madison), I most recently saw her on Sons Of Anarchy and she was great. I’m not sure how I feel about her here, while she is quickly beginning to realize that things are not okay and that they need to actually take care of the zombies instead of hoping for a cure, I find her to be a little … uninteresting. Here’s why; When you’re home, waiting for your husband to return with his other family and you saw your neighbors getting eaten, maybe don’t leave the lights on and the shades OPEN. Sure, it was super smart to distract Nick and Alicia with Monopoly but CLOSE THE SHADES and um, why the heck would you leave your door open when you leave your house?

She goes out with a hammer to kill her neighbor-turned-zombie and can’t do it because Travis talks her out of it because he still thinks these things are people. Sigh.  Okay, sure, you don’t want to get into a fight about killing zombies because your hubby thinks they’re still human but dude, you should have DONE IT. One less zombie is, well, it’s one less zombie.

On another note, since when do drug addicts have better ideas than the non-drug addicts? Seriously, Nick remembered that their neighbor had a shotgun and goes out to get it. First rule of zombie apocalypse people, gather weaponry! I suspect that the mind-altering substances that Nick has ingested have made him more open to the idea of the dead walking the Earth. Go Nick! Though really, what’s up with your withdrawal? You look like one of the zombie’s and are kind of annoying 80% of the time but so far, out of all the annoying people on this show, you are my second favorite. My first favorite is the barber, Daniel Salazar (again, played by Ruben Blades). He knows what’s up. When asked about what’s going on in the world he responds with the super cool line, “It’s something to survive.”

So far my favorite character is Daniel, played by Ruben Blades.
So far my favorite character is Daniel, played by Ruben Blades.

Damn straight Daniel!!! I want you on my zombie killing team for sure.

What really gets me is the way that Madison tries to protect her daughter from seeing what’s actually happening. There is no point in keeping her from it, let her see it, freak out about it and move on to the acceptance part of the zombie apocalypse because I’m telling you, you’re not doing her any favors by keeping her in the dark. Besides that, I have a small issue with both Alicia’s and Madison’s zombie escaping attire, who wouldn’t wear short shorts and a tank top when going off on the run to escape the apocalypse? And heeled boots, oh sure, totally practical. Madison, you and me, we gotta talk about your footwear choices. Heels are NOT going to cut it in the world of The Walking Dead. I promise you that you’re going to want flat shoes with a good, comfortable sole that’s good for running. Cars only last so long.

I know, I know, they aren’t living in a world where the zombie mythos exists. I know that. I also know it’s a fictional show but does it have to be lazy too? There are few things that annoy me more in the TV world than lazy writing. Don’t assume your audience is dumb. Treat us like we’re wicked smart and give us something to think about (Hannibal was a great example of this).

More than anything, I want this show to be as good, as compelling and as interesting as The Walking Dead and I’m not sure that’s possible. I remember being instantly engaged in what WD had to offer, right away I found the plight of Rick Grimes to be exciting stuff. I do not feel engaged to this blended family of soon-to-be survivors. What I would love to see is Madison taking control (ala Rick Grimes) and showing Travis what it means to be a survivor. There are hints of that in the way she is reacting versus the way he is reacting so maybe Kirkman and crew will show us something. I have to say that you can see Madison trying to work things out, trying to make sense of the situation and you can also see that this woman is a survivor. She has strength in her, it’s bubbling to the surface and I can only hope she gets a chance to flex those muscles (figuratively and literally) before the season is out.


So far it's not fear so much as a general sense of ennui.
So far it’s not fear so much as a general sense of not caring.

Only time will tell. I still have hope that FWD will get better, to that end I’ll keep watching and updating my blog, fingers crossed these characters grow on me and start doing smart things instead of annoying and/or dumb things. Actually, I’m going to cross my fingers AND toes just to be safe.

Now, you all tell me, what do you think of Fear The Walking Dead? Is it a dud or does it have potential? Sound off in the comments!

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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week 9/16/2015

Always good to have you back for another episode of the Crank File.

In case you’ve missed it, GwenPool is an actual thing now. Spider-Gwen was the surprise hit from last summer and the dopple-Gwener may have just done it again. A part of Marvel’s month of Gwen Stacy themed variants, Gwen-pool first appeared on  Chris Bachalo’s variant cover to Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars #2.




Then the ungodly creation began showing up in fan art,




and inevitably cosplay.




Last week marvel announced that Gwen-pool will be getting a backup story in Howard the Duck #1 out in November and her own holiday special in December. How did it come to this?


Here’s what I’m reading this week.



The top of the pile: Miracle Man #2 Marvel




We’re huge fans of both Buckingham (Fables) and Gaiman (Sandman) over here at the Crank File and it’s criminal that Miracle Man #1 didn’t make this list. The acclaimed series is back after a twenty year hiatus. Created in the 1950’s, MarvelMan (originally named MarvelMan) had faded from cultural relevance before he was revived in the 1980’s by Alan Moore. Moore wrote 16 issues of MiracleMan before handing the over writing duties to a young, Neil Gaiman. Gaiman expanded the series, writing up to issue #24 before MiracleMan’s publisher Eclipse Comics went bankrupt in the 1990’s. After settling a lengthy, legal battle for the rights, Marvel is re-releasing MiracleMan with Gaiman and Buckingham back to complete the unfinished masterpiece they started decades ago.



The Mainstream One: Star Wars #9 Marvel


Star-Wars-9-1-600x911   JUN150793


Issue #9: Luke’s loses his lightsaber like a complete noob and has to get it back. I’m really digging Immonen’s artwork and I’m happy to see him returning for issue #9 but I’ll admit it, the story doesn’t sound inspiring. Speaking of uninspiring, so is this issue’s action figure variant. But all Star Wars comics are worth collecting, because collectors love Star Wars so I’ll be picking it up.



The Indie One: Manifest Destiny #17 Image




The latest arc has revealed a lot about the nature of the monstrous beasts that have been slowly picking off the members of Lewis and Clark’s expedition crew. And now a new evil looms. What is the Vameter? I don’t know but it sounds freaking terrifying. One of my favorite Image titles, Manifest Destiny keeps on heading into the heart of darkness with issue #17.



The #1 One: Tokyo Ghost #1




The Isles of Los Angeles 2089: Humanity is addicted to technology, a population of unemployed leisure seekers blissfully distracted from toxic contamination, who borrow, steal, and kill to buy their next digital fix. Getting a virtual buzz is the only thing left to live for. It’s the biggest industry, the only industry, the drug everyone needs, and gangsters run it all. And who do these gangsters turn to when they need their rule enforced? Constables Led Dent and Debbie Decay. This duo is about to be given a job that will force them out of the familiar squalor of Los Angeles to take down the last tech-less country on Earth: The Garden Nation of Tokyo. Bestselling writer Rick Remender, superstar art team Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth examine our growing addiction to technology while thirsting for a nature we continue to destroy.



The one I’m buying for the cover: Beauty #2 Image Templesmith Cover



Issue #1 was good enough to bring me back for a second helping of Beauty. The gorgeous Templesmith cover is just gravy. Nobody blends horror and beauty like Templesmith.



The Speculation One: Guardians of Knowhere #4 Marvel




The mysterious figure appeared briefly at the end of issue #3, disrupting a poignant, philosophical argument between Angela and Gamora. The character appears on the cover of issue #4 this could be a first appearance. I will also be grabbing a copy of #3 if her character ends up having an important role.



Last Week’s Leftover’s: Space Riders #1-3 Black Mask




This series is absolutely bananaphones. It’s a psychedelic, retro, sci-fi comic from breakout publisher Black Mask and everything Black Mask is heating up due to their small print runs and flat-out awesome comics. Because of their tiny print runs many readers have never had the chance to read Space Riders. That all changes this week as the third print of #1 and second printings of #2 and #3 are released on Wednesday with new cover art.


Carpe Comics!

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Trailer Snark (September 11th Theatrical Trailers)

Welcome to Trailer Snark, a weekly column covering trailers for movies that will be released this week with thoughts from our roster of bloggers (Jessica from The Female Perspective, Ken from The Crank File, Jim from The Front Row View, Rob from Spector for Hire, and Great Stories founder Chris).  Thanks for reading, and enjoy the previews!

Last Week: In a bit of a shock, the faith-based power of prayer movie War Room took the number one spot at the box office in its second week in release, finally knocking Straight Outta Compton from the summit.  It was a relatively weak ticket sale weekend where the top dog took in just under $10 million.  Straight Outta Compton took about $8.8 million bringing its total domestic haul to $147.7 million.  The highest debut came from third place A Walk in the Woods with $8.4M in receipts.  Mission Impossible held in the top four ($7.1M/180M) and The Transporter Refueled managed a top five finish with $7M.  While the rest of the top ten did anemic box office numbers, Jurassic World and Ant-Man finally dropped from sight.  What movies are debuting that could possibly jump-start the sagging theater business?  Here are your candidates…..

The Visit (Universal) – Comedy/Horror
Rated PG-13 for disturbing thematic material including terror, violence and some nudity, and for brief language
Tag Line:  Nobody loves you like your grandparents
Starring: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunegan, and Peter McRobbie
Plot: A single mother finds that things in her family’s life go very wrong after her two young children visit their grandparents.
Running Time: 94 minutes

Jessica: I saw this trailer awhile back and thought two things, first thought was, oh cool, looks fun and creepy and then … M. Night Shymalan – oh crap no. I have absolutely NO faith in his writing or directing abilities after the horrible “Village” and that suck-fest, “The Happening.” I’ll pass on this.
Chris: Like fools, we all keep trying.  Yeah, that is me every time there is a new M. Night Shymalan movie.  I just want to recapture all of the things I liked about The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs.  Come on brother…I know you have it in you to thrill me again, in spite of a parade of disappointments!
Ken: Like the boss man, I just don’t know how to quit Shyamalan.  It would be an amazing twist if this film doesn’t end up a mediocre load of garbage.  Looks creepy but the M Knight needs to regain my trust before I plunk down money to watch his films in the theater.
Rob: Creepy ass grandparents and kids in jeopardy.  No thanks.

The Perfect Guy (Screen Gems) – Thriller
Rated PG-13 for violence, menace, sexuality and brief strong language.
Tag Line: Trust one, fear the other
Starring: Sanaa Lathan, Morris Chestnut, and Michael Ealy
Plot: After breaking up with her boyfriend, a professional woman gets involved with a man who seems almost too good to be true.
Running Time: 100 minutes

Rob: Next up, creepy ass stalker guy flick.  No thanks.
Jessica: Saw the “twist” coming a mile away. Trite nonsense that has been done to DEATH. I’ll admit it had a few creepy moments so perhaps I’ll catch it on streaming or DVD.
Chris: Looks like an entertaining enough thriller.  Don’t expect any twists or air of mystery though.
Ken: So spoiler alert, turns out the guy’s actually not perfect. Shocking, I know. A movie so bad they had to put a twist into the title. They should have called it “A Good Movie”.

90 Minutes in Heaven (Samuel Goldwyn Films) – Drama
Rated PG-13 for intense accident and injury images
Tag Line: Hope lives
Starring: Hayden Christensen and Kate Bosworth
Plot: A man involved in a horrific car crash is pronounced dead, only to come back to life an hour and a half later, claiming to have seen Heaven.
Running Time: 121 minutes
Ken: This movie wouldn’t have been as interesting if the guy had been miraculously saved by doctors and medical science.
Rob: Guy “died” and “went to Heaven” after horrific car accident.  Based on a “true” story…  Mhmm…
Jessica: I couldn’t even get through the trailer. It was simply too sickly over the top for me. Great that it’s a true story but I’m all set with this one.
Chris: There is a place in our world for powerful spiritual messages.  Especially in a world that is so obsessed with tragedy.  Triumph may not be as chic, but it is good for the soul.

Sleeping with Other People (IFC Films) – Comedy
Rated R for strong sexual content, language including sexual references, and some drug use
Tag Line: A romantic comedy with commitment issues
Starring: Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis
Plot: A good-natured womanizer and a serial cheater form a platonic relationship that helps reform them in ways, while a mutual attraction sets in.
Running Time: 95 minutes

Chris: For me it is more like Sleeping Next to Other People in the theater.  Skip.
Ken: I wanted to dislike the trailer when I heard the hook but I’ll admit it, Sleeping with Other People looked like good, raunchy fun to me.
Rob: A couple of sex addicts fall in love.  Might have a few good laughs, but I want more from a flick.
Jessica: Jason Sudekis is funny, sure, but he seems to play the SAME guy in every movie. This might have some laughs, it might not. Not going to risk my money on it though. This is an at-home viewer.

A Brilliant Young Mind (Samuel Goldwyn Films) – Drama
Not Rated
Tag Line: Is there a formula for love?
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Rafe Spall, and Sally Hawkins
Plot: A socially awkward teenage math prodigy finds new confidence and new friendships when he lands a spot on the British squad at the International Mathematics Olympiad.
Running Time: 111 minutes

Jessica: Loved this trailer, maybe because I know a kid on the spectrum so it meant something more to me than others but seems like a solid cast, good story and I had some feels while watching the trailer. Not all the feels, but some of them.
Chris: Movies such as these help us to understand those that are different.  Probably the best lessons we can take away from such art.
Rob: Looks like it has some heart, but not my cup of tea either.
Ken: Yup.

Time Out of Mind (IFC Films) – Drama
Not Rated
Tag Line: None
Starring: Richard Gere, Jena Malone, and Steve Buscemi
Plot: George seeks refuge at Bellevue Hospital, a Manhattan intake center for homeless men, where his friendship with a fellow client helps him try to repair his relationship with his estranged daughter.
Running Time: 120 minutes

Ken: Great track, Nick Cave and the Bad Seed’s Far From Me.  Numbers vary, but it’s estimated that somewhere around 25% of persistently homeless adults suffer from some form of mental illness. Trailer looked pretty good too.
Jessica: Sigh. I mean … sigh. I just don’t know, the trailer depressed me.
Chris: This movie trailer makes me sad.  It would make me sadder to lighten my wallet to only increase my depressive state after watching it.
Rob: Richard Gere as a drunk homeless man.  Looks pretty damn depressing.  Why would anyone pay to go be depressed?

Tickets Purchased:  One for A Brilliant Young Mind (Ken) and one for The Visit (Chris).  Jessica and Rob, once again, home on the couch counting their money saved.

This week proves that all Grandparents are so innocent and loveable!