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Film

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Quarantine Cat Film Fest, Which is Exactly What it Sounds Like, to Screen Virtually at Cleveland Cinemas

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2020 at 11:18 AM

COURTESY QUARANTINE CAT FILM FEST
  • Courtesy Quarantine Cat Film Fest
A 70-minute quarantine cat video compilation will be available for home viewing from Cleveland Cinemas' virtual cinema offerings starting Friday. Half of the $12 ticket price will go directly to the local chain, keeping theaters like the Cedar Lee, Tower City and the Capitol afloat during the pandemic, which has indefinitely delayed their openings.

Pittsburgh-based filmmaker Brian Mendelssohn created the cat video compilation specifically to generate revenue for independent movie theaters like Cleveland Cinemas. (Mendelssohn owns a small independent theater, Row House, in Pittsburgh.) He received more than 1,000 submissions of cat videos for the project.

“The response has been better than we could have ever hoped and we have so much great content to work with,” said Mendelssohn, in a statement provided to the media. “It’s going to be a really fun feature with hilarious and adventurous cats and, of course, some adorable kittens too.”

Mendelssohn and his wife evidently got the idea after watching their own cats play during quarantine.

Cat content is always a hit online and has in fact met with large audiences at Cleveland Cinemas in the past.

“Thanks to the huge success of our annual CatVideoFest program at the Cedar Lee Theatre, we knew that people never tire of watching cats do silly things,” Jon Forman, President of Cleveland Cinemas, said in a press release. “We appreciate the continued support of our Virtual Screening Room titles as we wait to re-open our locations.”

Tickets for Quarantine Cat Film Fest and other virtual titles can be purchased at clevelandcinemas.com.

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Monday, June 29, 2020

Amazon's PG-13 Surveillance Comedy My Spy Delivers on Low Expectations

Posted By on Mon, Jun 29, 2020 at 12:11 PM

Chloe Coleman and Dave Bautista in My Spy. - COURTESY OF AMAZON STUDIOS
  • Courtesy of Amazon Studios
  • Chloe Coleman and Dave Bautista in My Spy.
Poor My Spy never had much of a chance. The kid-cop buddy comedy starring Guardians of the Galaxy’s muscle-bound Dave Bautista and nine-year-old Chloe Coleman (Little Fires Everywhere), was meant to open last August. It got bumped to January, and then, to paraphrase the prophets of Third Eye Blind, it got bumped again, and then bumped again.

It looked like My Spy might sneak into the April slot vacated by the hotly anticipated No Time to Die but was then postponed indefinitely due to Covid. At that point, Amazon swooped in and scheduled it for a streaming release, which felt more like a summary execution than a resurrection. The film is now free on Amazon Prime and will be screened at some drive-ins.

This sputtering release saga is no doubt a letdown for the cast and crew, but it won’t be for viewing audiences, who are trained to have lower expectations for direct-to-video products. My Spy isn’t much more than downtime viewing, a low-grade semi-sweet Bautista vehicle that manages a few genuine laughs as it rigidly adheres to a tried-and-true action comedy formula. But it’s a mixed bag. Directed by Peter Segal, the Tommy Boy alum responsible for some of Adam Sandler’s more forgettable outings in the early aughts – Anger Management, The Longest YardMy Spy feels less like a PG-13 movie than a PG movie intercut with an R-rated one.

Bautista is Jason Jones, or JJ, a CIA bruiser who’s more suited for military combat than covert ops. After blowing his cover in the opening scene, he’s dispatched to Chicago on a softball surveillance assignment with an adoring tech, Bobbi (Kristen Schaal). That funny-voice comedic actors Schaal and Ken Jeong are peopling the CIA in My Spy should give you an idea of its verisimilitude.

Once again, JJ’s cover is instantly blown, this time by the kid on whom he’s supposed to be silently keeping tabs. The young Sophie, (Coleman), spots a hidden camera in her apartment and tracks the wi-fi to a unit upstairs. Sophie and JJ make a deal. She won’t reveal his identity if he agrees to teach her some spycraft. Voila! The film’s second and third acts more or less write themselves. The tough guy JJ is softened by Sophie’s cuteness, and Sophie, who had been struggling to make friends, is emboldened by JJ. Naturally, JJ and Sophie’s mom Kate, (Parisa Fitz-Henley), kindle a chaste romance.

All that material is to be expected. What’s unexpected is the occasional burst of violence. It’s not graphic, necessarily – it’s not like there’s much blood – but there are sustained gun fights, explosions and “scenes of peril” that don’t gel naturally with the kid comedy atmosphere. My Spy’s target audience remains a mystery.

Schaal is responsible for the movie’s funniest line, and Bautista, who’s a more natural beefy sidekick than a leading man, is nevertheless well-cast as the reluctant spy coach. He’ll never have Dwayne Johnson’s range of expression or charisma, but as the latest WWE-to-Hollywood darling, he’s learning to manipulate his brawn for laughs.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Aut-o-Rama, Ohio's Top Movie Theater Last Weekend, Looks to Dominate with Harry Potter Marathon

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2020 at 2:52 PM

AUT-O-RAMA DRIVE-IN TWITTER
  • Aut-O-Rama Drive-In Twitter
The Aut-O-Rama Drive-in movie theater in North Ridgeville was the fifth-highest grossing movie venue in the country last weekend, according to industry reports. It raked in more than $60,000 on the strength of its Jurassic Park / Jaws double feature.

Per Deadline, Ohio currently has 56 movie theaters open for business, trailing only Texas (82) for most sites in the country. But due to fears of Covid-19 and limited titles in new release, indoor venues have performed extremely poorly.

Drive-ins, on the other hand, are experiencing a resurgence. All five of the country's top-grossing venues last weekend, and 160 of the top 201, were outdoor drive-in movie theaters. The Aut-o-Rama was the top-grossing theater in Ohio.

In addition to Jurassic Park and Jaws, Steven Spielberg summer box-office hits from 1993 and 1975, respectively, the Aut-o-Rama is showing the crowd-pleasing family films Shrek and Despicable Me.

Starting Friday, the drive-in will look to increase its national ranking with a Harry Potter marathon. Two films from the original series will screen each night Friday-Monday with the two Fantastic Beasts films screening on Tuesday.

Per night, tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids under 12. But for the full marathon, a single five-day ticket is $25 for adults and $10 for kids. They can be purchased here.

The Aut-o-Rama is located on 33395 Lorain Road in North Ridgeville.

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Monday, June 15, 2020

Cleveland Cinemas Reopening Delayed Til Further Notice

Posted By on Mon, Jun 15, 2020 at 5:15 PM

@CAPITOLW65TH
  • @CapitolW65th

Cleveland Cinemas last week announced plans to slowly reopen its theaters in the coming weeks, focusing on Hollywood classics and discounted tickets.

That plan, like those of many other businesses, has already been adjusted.

“Our business is reliant on the release of new films from Hollywood as well as key independent distributors,” Jon Forman, President of Cleveland Cinemas, said in a release. “With the recent announcement of release dates being pushed back on blockbusters such as Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, we have decided to delay our reopening. We hope to have new re-opening dates for our locations soon.”

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Greater Cleveland Film Commission to Host a Webinar With Actress Patricia Heaton

Posted By on Mon, Jun 15, 2020 at 8:51 AM

COURTESY OF THE GCFC
  • Courtesy of the GCFC
The Greater Cleveland Film Commission (GCFC), a 501(c)3 nonprofit that aims to cultiviate film and television industry in Northeast Ohio, has just announced that it’ll host an online webinar with actress Patricia Heaton at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 22.

A Northeast Ohio native, Heaton famously portrayed Debra Barone in the popular sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond.

She’s also starred in the CBS comedy Carol’s Second Act and is at work on a new book, Your Second Act. In her New York Times best-selling autobiography Motherhood and Hollywood — How to Get a Job Like Mine, she describes her childhood in Cleveland and the events that led up to her success.

In 2001, Heaton co-founded FourBoys Films, a production company which she runs with her husband David Hunt. The company has produced the Sony feature comedy Moms’ Night Out, TNT’s The Engagement Ring and Walden Media’s Amazing Grace.

Heaton is also the founding member of World Vision’s Celebrity Ambassador Network. She has travelled to Rwanda, Zambia and Syria with the humanitarian organization which focuses on “conducting relief, development and advocacy activities” in its work with children, families, and their communities in nearly 100 countries.

The GCFC is currently following guidelines from the Ohio Department of Health and suspending gatherings.

“We are adapting our services for the virtual environment, and working to plan live programs and events to bring you as soon as it is safe to resume these activities,” reads a press release about the Heaton webinar. “Although production has slowed during the pandemic, the need for content grows daily. The media industry will come roaring back to life when we emerge from this crisis, and Northeast Ohio will well-positioned to be incredibly busy.”

Local radio host and former actor Jeremiah Widmer will conduct the interview and facilitate a limited audience Q&A.

The event is free, but registration is required.

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Thursday, June 11, 2020

Pete Davidson is King in Judd Apatow's Sweetly Mediocre Staten Island Comedy

Posted By on Thu, Jun 11, 2020 at 3:15 PM

MARY CYBULSKI, UNIVERSAL PICTURES
  • Mary Cybulski, Universal Pictures
In one of the first scenes in Judd Apatow's new comedy King of Staten Island, Scott (Pete Davidson) and Kelsey (Bel Powley) have one of those awkward define-this-relationship conversations after sex. They're grade-school chums, now both in their mid-twenties with nothing quite figured out, and Kelsey's angling for a legit relationship.

Scott's making what appear to be conventional dudebro excuses that will absolve him from emotional commitment while keeping the physical intimacy. But then he reveals that he's dealing with a pretty serious mental illness. Later in the film, it's referred to as "ADD," but Scott defines it less clinically: He makes impulsive decisions, he says. He's mouthy. He's a danger to himself and others. And he doesn't want to put Kelsey in a position where he might hurt her.

It's one of the film's most sharply written and strongly acted scenes, and it's undercut by the lolloping remainder of the 136-minute run time, which exudes an Apatowian sentimentality but is nevertheless superficial and overlong. The revelations of that early scene hardly come into play at all. 

Like some of Apatow's previous comedies (The 40-Year-old Virgin, Knocked Up), King of Staten Island is billed as a coming-out party for a rising comedic talent. It's Pete Davidson's feature-film debut after several rambunctious years on SNL. He joined the show's cast at age 20 in 2014 and is still known as much for his personal life as he is for his performances. Co-written by Apatow, Davidson and SNL writer Dave Sirus, the film is in fact a loose retelling of Davidson's life. Davidson's father was an NYC fireman who died on 9/11, notably. In the film, Scott's father is a fireman who died on the job, though not in the 9/11 attacks. 

Scott is a tattooed Staten Island bum. He lives with his mother Margie (Marisa Tomei) and has no real career prospects. He mostly hangs out with his buddies, doing so many assorted drugs that he doesn't even get high anymore. He claims to want to start a tattoo parlor / restaurant hybrid, but the idea is a total fantasy. And while he aspires to being a tattoo artist, his ink work is comically bad.

So is his judgement. After "practicing" his tattoo skills on a 10-year-old he meets near the beach — "Do I have your legal consent," Scott asks the child — the boy's father Ray (Bill Burr) tracks him down and demands money for tattoo removal treatment. Ray turns out to be a fireman, too, and he and Margie start dating, a development to which Scott strenuously objects. For awhile, the film kinda centers on this dynamic. Then Scott and Ray duke it out and Margie kicks them both out of the house. With nowhere to turn, Scott camps out at the firehouse and learns some lessons about life and manhood from Ray and the fire chief, (a pitch-perfect Steve Buscemi). It's not Scott's mental illness, but his father's death which has vexed his life thus far, Ray seems to realize.

Through all this, Kelsey barely appears! Like Margie and Ray's ex-wife Gina (Pamela Adlon), she doesn't have a ton of screentime. She's just one of the peripheral figures who flit in and out of Scott's milieu. I'm remembering now that there's a robbery subplot which weirdly has zero impact on Scott's life or friendships. Beyond just portraying Scott's life, the film never quite seems sure what it's about or where it's headed.  

But to the extent you connect with, or are entertained by, the lovable, brassy Staten Island misfits, you may not mind. In the end, it's a sweet, clumsy B/B- flick that fans of Apatow and/or Davidson are likely to appreciate despite its flaws. It'll be available on VOD Friday.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Cleveland Cinemas Will Begin Reopening Its Theaters on June 19th

Posted By on Wed, Jun 10, 2020 at 12:12 PM

@CAPITOLW65TH
  • @CapitolW65th

While Ohio will allow movie theaters to reopen as soon as June 10th, Cleveland Cinemas will wait a little more than a week after that to begin welcoming moviegoers back to its theaters in Northeast Ohio in three phases.

June 19: Apollo Theatre in Oberlin and Tower City Cinemas

June 24: Capitol Theatre and Chagrin Cinemas

July 1: Cedar Lee

“We wanted to re-open our theaters in phases so that we can ensure that the programs that we have developed in theory will work in practicality,” Sean Denny, Cleveland Cinemas Director of Operations, said in a release. “These phased openings will also help us gauge audience interest and allow us to make certain that all of our staffing needs are met.”

As for what'll be on the screen, Cleveland Cinemas will start with classic flicks for $5 ($5 for seniors and kids).

The protocols awaiting you:
  • Patrons will be encouraged to wear face coverings while in the building common areas such as the lobby and restrooms.
  • Social distancing markers in lobby to ensure proper space between patrons in lines.
  • Touchless purchase options at the box office and concession stand.
  • Patrons will be encouraged to purchase tickets online at clevelandcinemas.com or fandango.com in advance to reduce points of contact.
  • Auditorium seating capacity will be reduced to 50% and seats and rows will be closed to ensure social distancing during the films.
  • Showtimes will be spaced further apart to reduce crowds in lobby as well as allow for more time for cleaning and disinfecting the auditoriums between shows.
  • Customer entrance and exit traffic flow will be directed to minimize crowds.
  • Hand sanitizer stations will be available throughout the building.
  • Staff members will have health assessments taken before clocking in for shifts.
  • Staff members will be required to wear face coverings while working.
  • Staff members will be required to wear gloves as well as frequently wash their hands.
  • There will be a dedicated sanitation staff person for each shift to ensure that frequent touch points and surfaces are disinfected.
  • Plexiglass dividers have been installed at registers.

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