How ‘Hypnotic’ Is It?!

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I said-a hip, hop, hippy-hypnotic! (CREDIT: Ketchup Entertainment/Screenshot)

Starring: Ben Affleck, Alice Braga, William Fichtner, J.D. Pardo, Hala Finley, Dayo Okeniyi, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeff Fahey

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Running Time: 94 Minutes

Rating: R

Release Date: May 12, 2023 (Theaters)

Now that I’ve seen Hypnotic, have Robert Rodriguez and company convinced me that I would now like to be a hypnotic myself as well? Well, the ending kind of seems to imply that everybody in the world actually is a hypnotic already. (Spoiler Alert? LOL) Anyway, this movie is kind of like the younger brother that copies everything its older siblings do. In this scenario, those older sibs are head-scratchers like Memento or reality-is-just-a-construct puzzlers like Dark City. It’s pretty dopey, and I kind of dug it for that.

Grade: 7 Levs Out of 10 Dellraynes

Be Careful What Ye Seek in ‘Sanctuary’

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Who’s selling the Sanctuary? (CREDIT: NEON)

Starring: Margaret Qualley, Christopher Abbott

Director: Zachary Wigon

Running Time: 96 Minutes

Rating: R for Hijinks That Might Require Invoking a Safe Word

Release Date: May 19, 2023 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: Hal (Christopher Abbott) is a big-deal businessman on an important phone call. When Rebecca (Margaret Qualley) arrives in his hotel room, she starts conducting a job interview with some surprisingly personal questions about his bodily measurements and sexual history. As it turns out, she’s actually a dominatrix and he’s orchestrated this entire encounter. He’s one of her top clients, but he’s about to end their arrangement in the wake of acquiring his late father’s company. But instead of walking away quietly, she sees an opening to potentially re-negotiate their terms. Will this evening blow up everything between them, or will they find themselves closer than ever before?

What Made an Impression?: It was pretty hot and stuffy in the screening room where I saw Sanctuary, which felt thematically appropriate. I could never quite get comfortable or figure out where exactly Abbott, Qualley, director Zachary Wigon, or writer Micah Bloomberg were guiding us. Surely some of that was by design. But it didn’t make it any less unsettling. I spent the vast majority of the running time wondering if this battle of the wits was all just part of the script that Hal had written for Rebecca. The ambiguity was killing me! And I usually appreciate ambiguity.

I think the issue was that I was never entirely sure what the base reality was. We never see anyone besides Hal and Rebecca, and that claustrophobic setup can really warp your sense of reality. So whenever Hal freaked out the possibility of Rebecca exposing him, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Would that really be a big deal?” The answer to that seemed like it was supposed to be “Obviously, yes.” But also the Terms of Use kept shifting.

Still, this was quite the spirited presentation, with a particularly go-for-broke performance from Qualley. It’s kind of like a screwball-slapstick version of the 90s corporate sex thrillers that Michael Douglas specialized in. If you do check out Sanctuary, I recommend focusing on the pratfalls and not getting too hung up on the contracts.

Sanctuary is Recommended If You Like: Traipsing on the edge

Grade: 3 out of 5 Inheritances

That’s Auntertaiment Mini-Episode: What’s Jeff Watching? #8

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CREDIT: Disney Plus/Screenshot

April showers bring May flowers.* (*In this case, “May flowers” are “really good TV shows released in the fifth month of the year.”)

Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 5/12/23

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Hear them now, believe their podcast later. (CREDIT: NBC/Screenshot)

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

Fool’s Paradise (Theaters) – Charlie Day’s directorial debut.
It Ain’t Over (Theaters) – Yogi Berra documentary.
Hypnotic (Theaters)
Knights of the Zodiac (Theaters) – Based on a manga.

RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 8 Premiere (May 12 on Paramount+)

-Alison Goldfrapp, The Love Invention

The Lost Hans & Franz Movie (Debuts May 17)

-NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Tournament (May 12-28 on ESPN, ESPNU, and ESPN+) – I probably won’t be following the men’s tourney this year since neither Loyola nor Rutgers made it.
-PGA Championship (May 18-21 on ESPN and CBS)

The Jock Jammiest Jock Jams

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If you were ever alive and in a sporting mood in the 90s, you surely remember Jock Jams! They were a series of compilation albums that was sure to pump the crowd at any basketball game of the era. We’re talking about Eurodance and party hip-hop, where the club meets the arena.

Five volumes were released between 1995 and 1999, in addition to an “All-Star” edition in 2001. They ran out of steam quite a bit after the first couple, but they’ve undeniably left quite the cultural footprint.

So I’ve decided to rank the very best that Jock Jams ever had to offer, according to how much they embody the Jock Jam ethos. Which is to say, how much they make you want to simultaneously dance and cheer at your local stadium. You might not recognize all the band names, and even the titles might sound foreign, but you’ve almost certainly heard all of these songs hundreds of times.


The ‘Book Club’ Spends Its ‘Next Chapter’ in Italy: Shall We Join Them?

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Good Reads (CREDIT: © 2023 FIFTH SEASON, LLC)

Starring: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Andy García, Don Johnson, Craig T. Nelson, Giancarlo Giannini

Director: Bill Holderman

Running Time: 108 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Saucy Puns

Release Date: May 12, 2023 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: They’re not reading anything as spicy as Fifty Shades of Grey this time, but Vivian (Jane Fonda), Diane (Diane Keaton), Sharon (Candice Bergen), and Carol (Mary Steenburgen) are still keeping their book club going. And they’re not going to let a little thing like a pandemic get in their way. Yes, indeed, the opening of Book Club: The Next Chapter is a COVID-19 period piece, as the ladies Zoom out their thoughts about the likes of Normal People, Untamed, and The Woman in the Window. When they’re finally able to reunite in person, they quickly decide that there’s simply no better time for an Italian vacation. Along the way, old flames are rekindled, the local authorities get snippy, and the wine flows freely. So not much in the way of reading, but I guess all book clubs need to close the back covers eventually.

What Made an Impression?: Before the days of easily accessible commercial plane flights, there were plenty of travelogue films showing off various corners of the world to viewers who would never actually see them in person. Travel documentaries still exist today, of course, as do their close fictional counterparts like Book Club: The Next Chapter. The difference nowadays is that if you have a few spare benjamins lying around, you can hop across the Atlantic without too much trouble. I’m not saying that this movie is just an extended commercial for Italy’s tourism board, but I’m also not not saying that.

As for the actual people romping around Italy, they know why we love them and they’re here to deliver. If you want the offbeat fashion, Diane Keaton is rocking them. If you want someone who can slay hearts at any age, Jane Fonda is here. If you want the deadly zingers, Candice Bergen is going to deliver them. And if you want a warm and vulnerable conversation, there’s not many who can do that much better than Mary Steenburgen. This is basically like the European leg of their greatest hits tour, and it’s also kind of just an excuse for them to go on vacation together. And hey, if Adam Sandler can build a huge chunk of his career out of that strategy, then why can’t this quartet of septuagenarian and octogenarian legends do the same?

Book Club: The Next Chapter is Recommended If You Like: An overabundance of food-based sexual metaphors

Grade: 3 out of 5 Wedding Dresses

Jeff’s Wacky SNL Non-Review: Pete Davidson/Lil Uzi Vert

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Strike! (CREDIT: NBC/Screenshot)

The 19th episode of the 48th season of Saturday Night Live was supposed to air on May 6, 2023, with host Pete Davidson and musical guest Lil Uzi Vert. But alas it’s been canceled due to the Writers Guild of America strike. I would’ve been using this space to review that episode, so instead I’ll voice my support for the writers, who as far as I can tell just want to be compensated fairly.

Two other episodes were also booked for later this May, with hosts Kieran Culkin and Jennifer Coolidge, and musical guests Foo Fighters and Labrinth. Those look like they’ve been canceled as well, so the Ana de Armas/Karol G episode appears to now be the de facto season finale.

I’ll have more to say about the best of the entire season soon. But in the meantime, here’s my message for the showbiz industry: please don’t make any more new SNL (or any new TV in general) until the writers are treated with a little more respect!

That’s Auntertaiment Mini-Episode: Aunt Beth Tells Jeff to Watch ‘Dazed and Confused’

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School’s Out!

Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 5/5/23

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Much Mayhem, Many Muppets (CREDIT: Mitch Haaseth/Disney)

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3 (Theaters)

-2023 MTV Movie & TV Awards (May 7 on MTV) – Hosted by Drew Barrymore!
Jeopardy! Masters (Premieres May 8 on ABC) – Some recent great champs offer some more questions.
The Game Show Show Docuseries Premiere (May 10 on ABC) – A 4-part series chronicling quizzes and challenges.
The Muppets Mayhem Series Premiere (May 10 on Disney+) – Dr. Teeth is front and center.

Hannah Gadsby: Something Special (May 9 on Netflix)

-Atmosphere, So Many Other Realities Exist Simultaneously
-Brian Eno and Fred Again.., Secret Life
-SBTRKT, The Rat Road

-Kentucky Derby (May 6 on NBC)


I Advanced to the Theater to Go See ‘Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves’

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So much honorableness in one frame! (CREDIT: Paramount Pictures/Screenshot)

Starring: Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Hugh Grant, Chloe Coleman, Regé-Jean Page, Daisy Head, Jason Wong

Directors: Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley

Running Time: 134 Minutes

Rating: PG-13

Release Date: March 31, 2023 (Theaters)

I’ve never played Dungeons & Dragons, so my previous cultural exposure to this franchise is mostly the Community episodes built around it. To the point that in the leadup to seeing Honor Among Thieves, I kept wanting to call it Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. So… was this movie better than the first Greendale edition of D&D? Of course not! But was it better than the sequel episode, “Advanced Advanced Dungeons & Dragons”? Eh, I guess so.

I ate mozzarella sticks and drank Mountain Dew while watching. It turns out that Doing the Dew is about as treacherous as the quest these characters went on.

Grade: A Sufficient Amount of Dragons and Emotional Beats

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