Pop A-Z: 2016 had no shortage of gorgeous distractions from its torrents of depression

By : Kirk Hartlage
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We know: 2016 kinda sucked. There were far too many passings of entertainment icons, including Prince, David Bowie, Harper Lee and Florence Henderson. Dreams of electing the first female president slowly faded on election night in November as one state after another turned red. And in just one night in June, Orlando – its notoriety as a world-class vacation destination long solidified – also became known as home to the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

This year, entertainment was more important than ever. A catchy tune, a thrilling novel, a TV program with twisty plot turns: anything that created some amount of joy in our lives was a welcome diversion from the real-world crap that each of the last 365 days seemed to bring. These were some of our favorites.

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Screened Out – Hail, Caesar!

By : Stephen Miller
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Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Scarlett Johannsson, Jonah Hill, Francis McDormand, Ralph Fiennes, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill

What a disappointment is Hail, Caesar! Re-imagining the life of famous Hollywood “fixer” Eddie Mannix as a saint is fine. Making a messy movie seems a sin for a man who was known for cleaning up messes. Even with the homage to classic Hollywood, what a shambles!

Joel and Ethan Coen always shoot interesting projects (Fargo, The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men). They don’t always do successful ones. Hail, Caesar! is one of their low points. Clunky narration, long tangents, uneven scenes, and a lack of a drive damage this picture’s possibilities as a screwball comedy.

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Screened Out – The Hateful Eight

By : Stephen Miller
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Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, Demian Bechir, Channing Tatum

Nothing looks like a Tarantino. Be it a mafia film (Reservoir Dogs), slavery revenge story (Django Unchained), or WWII Nazi-killer flick (Inglorious Basterds), he always has a signature style. The Hateful Eight – Tarantino’s eighth film and a gory western shootout – has all the exact elements, but it also has some nagging flaws.

Anyone who goes to a Tarantino expects drawn-out, simmering scenes that erupt in gratuitous, bloody violence. In between, Tarantino betrays the period of his tale with anachronous songs and titles. Often, he even screws with chronology, telling parts of his story out of order. He seems bent on taking his time, and yet making sure that everything is enjoyable as possible.

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Channing Tatum, “Magic Mike XXL” stars dance at LA Pride

By : Staff Report
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Channing Tatum approached the Magic Mike XXL promotional tour in a very creative way. Tatum, along with fellow Magic Mike stars Matt Bomer and Adam Rodriguez, danced the day away on a special Magic Mike XXL float at the L.A. Pride Parade on June 14.

In videos posted on social media, Tatum can be seen wearing a rainbow bandana, twerking on the float as it rolls down the street. Bomer joined in on the fun and danced on the side of the float.

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Screened Out – Jupiter Ascending

By : Stephen Miller
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Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Eddie Redmayne, Sean Bean

What a very, very expensive piece of cheese! If you think about this movie afterwards – and I suggest you don’t – the galaxy-sized plot holes and unanswered questions will make you giggle! However, you get to see every penny of the $175 million budget. It wasn’t spent on a particularly original script. Or, obviously, an acting coach. In fact, if Oscar voters see this before casting this year’s ballot, Eddie Redmayne’s acting will guarantee Michael Keaton the win.

Not that Jupiter Ascending doesn’t have it’s own trashy D-list charm. It’s visually stunning – an all-out attack on the optic nerves. Every so often, it actually recognizes what unapologetic garbage it is and adds a Fifth Element level of humor.

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Screened Out – Foxcatcher

By : Stephen Miller
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Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, Vanessa Redgrave

Though Foxcatcher has been in the theaters for a month, it recently grabbed five Oscar nominations. It’s worth seeing, if only for the exceptional performances.

The three actors at the center of this creepy wrestling tale are mesmerizing. Carell is almost unrecognizable as the privileged, eccentric John du Pont. Ruffalo displays his usual understated tenderness, and Tatum keeps uncovering the rough poetics of America’s less-than-genius lugs.

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Screened Out – The Book of Life

By : Stephen Miller
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Voices of Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Christina Applegate, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Kate del Castillo, Ron Perlman

The Book of Life is a colorful, vibrant celebration of Mexican culture – eye popping and full of frenetic energy. When other studios seem to make films primarily to peddle plastic merchandise (I’m talking to you, Disney), The Book of Life sells us civilization and anthropology, which is much more fascinating. Sure, the story is elementary, and the animators take a seductively simple approach. However, the textures, the energy, and the heart make this Day of the Dead cartoon a lively visit to the cinema.

It’s based on a folk tale – one with the Mexican spirit of remembrance, La Muerta (del Castillo), in her constant love/hate relationship with dark, devilish Xibaba (Perlman). They place a wager on three youths – the fiery beauty (Saldana), and her two beaus (Luna and Tatum). The deities wager who will win Saldana’s heart. Tatum plans to become a brave hero. Luna wants to be a troubadour, but his family urges him to follow tradition and become a matador.

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