Tasty Trailers: Mad Max: Fury Road, Nightcrawler, The Hunger Games - Mockingjay Part 1, Fifty Shades of Grey,

For those looking for a few new flicks to get excited about, here are four recently released, watch-worthy trailers. We'll see in the theater!

The Hunger Games - Mockingjay Part 1

Part One of Mockingjay, the final installment of Suzanne Collins literary and box office hit, "The Hunger Games" series has finally released its trailer. Set to premiere in theaters this November, the minute long video promises just as much action, rebellion, and revolution as its predecessors.

Fifty Shades of Grey

After much teasing,  E.L. James’ "Fifty Shades of Grey" trailer has finally been released. In the past 48 hours the two and a half minute video has attracted over 10 million Youtube views. The smash hit "Twilight" fan fiction became one of the first erotic novels to gain mainstream success in quite sometime, so it’s no surprise that the film’s 2015 release is so highly anticipated.

The trailer features Anastasia Steele, played by Dakota Johnson, who  transforms from dowdy coed to beddable seductress at the hands of business mogul Christian Steel, played by Jamie Dornan.

The video is pretty tame considering the S&M theme of the novel. Universal focused on the tension between Ana and Christian, giving viewers only snippets of the eroticism that rocketed the novel to the top of the New York Times Best Seller List. While Johnson and Dornan did wonderfully, the true standout is Beyoncé’s stripped down version of her "Crazy in Love" hit song. It doesn't get much sexier than Queen B’s raspy uh oh’s.

Mad Max: Fury Road

This year's Comic-Con revealed the trailer for the new "Mad Max" film starring Tom Hardy as the titular character. Set to be released in 2015, the clip promises a visually stunning film that portrays the dystopic setting in a  unique and terrifying way.

Nightcrawler

This autumn, Jake Gyllenhaal will be  starring in "Nightcrawler,"  a story about an enthusiastic newbie journalist who finds himself ensnared in the dangerous world of underground crime journalism. Gritty in the best way possible, "Nightcrawler"  is the film to watch if you want to catch a glimpse of the darker side of ambition.


J.K. Rowling Writing Screenplay and Six More Detective Books in the Works

The literary world was shaken when "The Cuckoo’s Callingauthor, Robert Galbraith, was revealed to be none other than J.K Rowling, renowned author of the Harry Potter series.

In her Cormoran Strike series, you'll find a noir style novel that follows the life of war veteran turned detective as he investigates the death of model Lula Landry. The book has already been followed up by a sequel entitled "The Silkworm."

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, J.K. Rowling  expressed that she has big plans to extend her Cormoran Strike series, which will span over seven books, officially outnumbering Harry Potter.

During a speech at  Harrogate’s Crime Writing Festival,  Rowling touched on the series, saying, “I really love writing these books, so I don’t know that I've got an end point in mind. One of the things I absolutely love about this genre is that, unlike Harry, where there was an overarching story, a beginning and an end, you’re talking about discrete stories. So while a detective lives you can keep giving him cases.”

The Cormoran Strike series isn't the only project that Rowling has up her sleeve. She is currently working on screenplays for a trilogy of films based on "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," a book produced under the pseudonym Newt Scamander. Rowling largely accredits this spin-off to the charming ways of Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara.

“When I say he made 'Fantastic Beasts' happen, it isn’t P.R.-speak but the literal truth,” she tells Entertainment Weekly. “We had one dinner, a follow-up telephone call, and then I got out the rough draft that I’d thought was going to be an interesting bit of memorabilia for my kids and started rewriting!”

So it seems that Rowling isn't opposed to jumping back into the world of "Harry Potter" but still finds plenty of joy writing about things other than magic and wizardry.

Although there is no set date for the release of the third installment of the Cormoran Strike series or the first installment of "Fantastic Beasts," Rowling fans are surely rejoicing at a world soon to be inundated by the wonder of her imagination.

Photo: Daniel Ogren


Meet the New Hipster, Doc Marten-Wearing Batgirl No. 35

We live in an age where comics have gone from two-dimensional to life-size. Marvel and DC comics have changed the game, making the heroes and heroines of their graphic novels a reality to a generation that has a declining interest in what they see on paper when they could just easily look at it on screen.

Catering to this idea of a new, more socially aware demographic, DC Comics has taken Batgirl from a spandex clad vixen to a Doc Marten wearing, dare I say, hipster.

This new take on the classic comic is given to us by illustrator Babbs Tarr. The brainchild of creative team of DC vets Brandon Fletcher and Cameron Stewart, Batgirl No. 35 book is waited on with much anticipation.

In an MTV exclusive interview, Stewart explains the heralded heroines departure from her former dark person.

"She’s leaving it all behind her. We really wanted to make this a book with a light tone, of fun and adventure and mystery, and let the rest of the Bat-family deal with the darkness. She’s got problems, and conflict, and enemies to fight, but our priority was to make this a really fun, rollicking read."

Die hard fans might not be so pleased with Batgirl's stroll through hipsterville, but it's hard to deny the respect that should be given for making her less of a pinup, therefore a more relatable character.

I suppose the argument can be made that superheroes aren't meant to be related to, they're meant to be, well, super. Either way, the new Batgirl promises an interesting story line. Fletcher explains the heroine as an amalgam of interesting characters.

He explains , "Our take on Batgirl mixes the best elements of “Veronica Mars” and “Girls,” with a dash of “Sherlock” thrown in for good measure."

Interesting.

Check out these images of the new and (possibly) improved Batgirl and tell us what you think.


Harry Potter Fans Rejoice Over New Short Story Release and Prospect of More to Come

Millions of people worldwide are rejoicing today at the prospect of the Harry Potter series making a come back.  JK Rowling’s 1500-word short story takes place at the 2014 Quiddich Cup (art imitating life) and is written in the voice of Rita Skeeter, a less than honorable gossip columnist for the fictional Daily Prophet.

Fans are excited to see an update on their favorite characters fourteen years after the conclusion of the last installment.

But, what does this mean for the mega empire? Could Rowling possibly be hinting at a continuation of the book series? If so, the possibilities are endless – we could see more movies, merch, and mega-fandom.

There are many skeptics that believe that Rowling should leave well enough alone, but they are far outnumbered by the Potterheads who believe there is no such thing as too much Harry Potter.

Until it is officially announced that the short story is just one of many, readers should enjoy this sweet update on the lives, families, and characters that they’ve grown to love.

Potter fans can read JK Rowling's short story on Pottermore.com.


The Controversy of Complexion: How Latina and Biracial Women Are Portraying Darker Skinned Black Women in Film

Whenever the likeness of someone important in pop culture history is being portrayed in film, there is always a certain amount of controversy in regard to who will be able to fill the large shoes in question.

Recently, this topic has gotten a lot of attention due to the issues involved in casting Zendaya Coleman to fill the role of Aaliyah in the film "Aaliyah: Princess of R&B" and Zoe Saldana to portray Nina Simone in the much delayed biopic "Nina," depicting the late songstress's rise to fame.

Although it's nothing new for actors to portray characters that they don’t resemble, one has to understand the vast chasm between portraying a character from a book or a screenplay versus someone who actually existed.

Both Nina Simone and Aaliyah were women with darker complexions; particularly, the film "Nina" involves a lot of the struggle that Simone faced due to being a darker black woman.

When I originally heard the casting news,  I understood that perhaps the director had to make a few physical concessions in order to get an actress with as much clout as Saldana.  Then I saw the pictures and couldn't deny my feelings of offense, but I didn't know if I could fully justify them.

Originally called Blackface Minstrelsy,  the practice of white women and men painting their faces black in order  to “portray” a black person in the entertainment industry was a common practice that started in the 1830s.  The history behind it is horrifying, yet looking at Saldana, who identifies herself as Dominico-Puerto Rican,  I can't help but to wonder, will she, too,  be caked in makeup much darker than her actual skin tone  in order to play Nina Simone?

And what does that say about where Hollywood is with casting women with darker complexions--even when a role calls for it?

There's already much talk about how Hollywood employs only lighter skin actresses as leading ladies, while darker skin actresses are only given supporting roles and small parts in films that depict slavery or hired help like "The Color Purple" or "The Help."

Take Lupita Nyong'o, who is not only recognized by her talent, but is also one of the very few darker skinned actresses that have gained the attention of movie studios--but only after being cast in film that depicted slavery. Even Steve McQueen, the "12 Years a Slave" director who cast Lupita acknowledged this issue in an interview with New York magazine.

"You know, there’s been a lot said about dark-skinned black actresses and the limitations they have within film. Well, I just hope that directors and other creative people have the idea of putting her in great and interesting projects, because she’s extraordinary," the director said.

So, why would Zaldana, who doesn't even identify herself as black, play a woman, whose darker skin color is part of her story and journey?

For Zendaya, who is biracial, the controversy and backlash was so strong that she backed out of the film before shooting  even commenced.

Saldana seems to think that it’s all about perspective. She shared her thoughts on the issue during a 2013 pre-Oscar event: “The reality is what keeps me focused and what kept me from I guess getting stressed or being hurt by the comments is that I’m doing it for my sisters,” she said. “I’m doing it for my brothers. I don’t care who tells me that I am not this and I am not that. I know who I am and I know what Nina Simone means to me. So that is my truth and that set me free.”

Perhaps things won't change until Hollywood expands their casting circle to include women of darker complexions.

What do you think?


Bob Dylan's Hand Written Lyrics Sell for Millions

Bob Dylan made a pretty penny off of his song “Like a Rolling Stone,” just not in the way that you think.

Yesterday, Dylan’s original hand written music sheet was sold at a Sotheby’s auction for $2 million.

The legendary song was scrawled onto stationery from The Roger Smith Hotel on Pennsylvania Ave, only a block away from the White House in Washington, D.C.

Image Credit: Sotheby's/AP
Image Credit: Sotheby's/AP

It seems as though Dylan’s artistic endeavors aren't limited to music, as the stationary includes a few doodles, including of a hat and one of chicken.

The price of this sale broke records.

The record was previously held by the Beatles “A Day in the Life” from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which had sold for $1.2 million in 2010.

This just goes to shows that love of music is often paired with a true appreciation of its history, a history that apparently comes with a hefty price tag.

Photo credit: HugoVK/Flickr


MoMA to Host Björk Retrospective

MoMA To Host Björk Retrospective
Björk at the Hurricane Festival. Photo: Zach Klein

For the millennial, Björk might not be at the top of their pop culture influence list, but the Museum of Modern Art begs to differ.

Next year, the Icelandic songstress will be celebrated at the iconic museum through a retrospective set to run from Mar 7 to Jun 7 2015.

Announced this past Wednesday, the exhibition will be curated by Klaus Biesenbach, founder of the Kunste-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin.

Björk is known for her creative and outlandish fashion choices as well as her musical prowess and representatives from MoMA have assured that the retrospective will catalog her style as well as her career.

The mediums used will also be as eclectic as Bjork, herself. Images, costumes, instruments, and video will be used to give patrons a complete representation of her life and career. Her album, "Biophilia," will also be included in the version of an app which will include animation that will accompany the music.

Beisenbach had this to say to the New York Times about this highly anticipated exhibition: "Bjork is an extraordinarily innovative artist whose contributions to contemporary music, video, film, fashion and art have had a major impact on her generation worldwide. This highly experimental exhibition offers visitors a direct experience of her hugely collaborative body of work."

Above all else, who wouldn't want to see that swan dress face-to-face?


Arctic Monkeys Release Video For Latest Single "Snap Out of It"

The September 2013 release of the Arctic Monkeys' latest album, "AM," launched the Sheffield natives into a stratosphere of Brit-rock stardom that few have been able to achieve. Their tremendous success can only be attributed to their own strand of creativity, best showcased in the neat little black and white packaging of said career affirming album.

With music comes music videos, and the Arctic Monkeys' latest foray into the visual with their music video for “Snap Out of It” certainly holds true to the bands affinity for most things offbeat.

Featuring actress Stephanie Sigman (Miss Bala) who seems to be in the midst of some kind of manic episode, the video promises to be the only 4:08 seconds where you can see a drop-dead-gorgeous woman cook a steak, eat a steak, cry, watch grainy home videos on what seems to be a television from the '90s, and dance in various states of undress. If this sounds at all appealing,  check out the above video.


James Franco Wants to Be Your Online Screenwriting Professor for $25 Per Class

Phiti: Catherinewishart182
Photo Credit: Catherinewishart182

Oscar-nominated actor, social media aficionado, writer, mediocre Oscar Host, maker of Seth Rogen nude art that we cannot unseesinger, and sometime model are just a few of the titles James Franco is known for wearing.

Now we can add webinar professor to that ever-growing list.

The 36-year-old “This is the End” star will be teaching a course titled “Introduction to Screenwriting for Short Films” with Franco’s Rabbit Bandini Productions co-creator Vince Jolivette. The course will be self-paced with fifteen sessions, 90 minutes a piece.

Franco is not new to academia, having been known to teach courses in the esteemed film departments of UCLA and NYU, including that time when he taught a class about himself. The class, which will be heavily focused on adaptation, is hosted on skillshare and comes in at a nice $25 per session. With its low pricing and flexible pacing, this course offers a tremendous level of accessibility for many of Franco’s loyal followers.

In regards to some questioning his qualifications to fill the role of “professor,” Franco had this to say in his 70 second introduction clip, “There’s part of me that also thinks of my younger self, who wasn't in those film programs, because I really get excited by the idea of being able to share some of our experiences and lessons,” Franco says. “I think I’m as equipped as any.”

Check out James Franco’s “Introduction to Screenwriting for Short Film” below.

An Online Skillshare Class by James Franco

5 Reasons Why We Can't Stop Listening to 'The Fault In Our Stars' Music Soundtrack

Favorite Picks From TFIOS Soundtrack

"The Fault in our Stars" made history becoming the first contemporary teen drama to top the box office with $48.2 million in sales in its opening weekend.

First the book made us cry, then the movie, and now the soundtrack.

Released 17 days before the film's opening, the "The Fault In Our Stars: Music From The Motion Picture soundtrack has sold over 48,000 copies, making it number two on the list of best selling soundtracks of 2014.

Who holds the number one spot? "Divergent," of course,  Shailene Woodley’s other box office smash.

You might recognize Charlie XCX’s “Boom Clap”  which is played in film's many promotional videos.  But the good music doesn't stop at the trailers.  Thankfully, there is much more where that came from.

Here are a few gems from "The Fault in Our Stars"  (Music from the Motion Picture) that give us all the feels.

1. Ed Sheeran – All of the Stars

Listen to singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran’s celestial ballad “All of the Stars” and be transported back to your first epic love. This song is all about remembering.

2.  Grouplove – The Fault in our Stars

The title song from the motion picture is, perhaps, one of very few feel-good songs on the entire album. Slow, soft, and grand all at once, Grouplove got it right with this one.

3. Kodaline - All I Want

This song is heartbreaking. Somehow Kodaline has managed to encapsulate the beauty and tragedy of  the  film in this five-minute tearjerker.

4. STRFKR - When I'm Alive

A throwback to disco, a la "Stayin’ Alive," STRFKR’s "When I’m Alive" is sure to make you want to throw on some sequins and dance.

5. Birdy - Tee Shirt

Newcomer Birdy  is the only artist to have two songs on the TFIOS soundtrack. In "Tee Shirt," Birdy reflects on love lost yet not forgotten.

Honorable Mention: Alfasi and Filthy – Bomfalleralla

Just because.


PBS Explores the History of the Word "Punk"

PBS has recently capitalized on the newfangled web series trend with their inception of "PBS Bongo Bongo,"  a Youtube series dedicated to etymology.

Hosted by the ever effervescent Ethan Fixell, this week's series has chosen to explore the history of the word “Punk.”

To many of us, punk  refers to a sub-genre of rock marked by colorful Mohawks and aggressive moshing, or maybe even a television show that capitalized on the gullibility of many a celebrity.

Fixell explains, in four minutes and eleven seconds, that the history of punk reaches much farther than our pop culture experiences.

Check it out.


'Hunger Games: The Exhibit' May Be Coming to a Museum Near You

Hunger Games The Exhibit Coming To A Museum Near You
Courtesy Photo.

"The Hunger Games" has joined the ranks of many of its fantasy counterparts in announcing the inception of “The Hunger Games: The Exhibition.”

Debuting summer 2015, well before the November 20, 2015 release of the fourth installment of the series, "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2", the exhibition will be on display in several key museums around the country. True to "The Hunger Games" style, Lionsgate, in partnership with Thinkwell, will create a state-of-the-art exhibit featuring interactive displays, props taken directly from each district of Panem, and other relics from the first three smash hit films.

Chief Marketing Officer of Lionsgate, Tim Palen, stated in a press release, “Now that we've built a critical mass of intellectual property, we’re committed to extending our brands into exciting new businesses that create opportunities for our fans to engage with our properties at the same time they deliver significant financial benefits to Lionsgate.”

Palen makes the logical point that the capitalization of the fusion of  interactivity, art and film is more than possible.

With the wild success of Harry Potter World, it was a logical leap for "The Hunger Games" to capitalize on their audience’s thirst to make their favorite characters and fantasy worlds more tangible.

If you’re eager to witness Panem first hand, keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming major multimedia promotional effort and nationwide advanced ticket sales.

May the odds be ever in your favor.


Does the 'Ban Bossy' Campaign Do More Harm Than Good For Feminism?

Ban Bossy

Feminism has become this abstract concept that brings images of burning bras and suffragettes yielding picket signs to mind.

Whether or not you choose to call yourself a feminist, if you’re someone who pays any attention to social media, you have probably heard of  Facebook COO's Sheryl Sandberg’s "Ban Bossy” campaign.

The idea of banning this somewhat common word has gone viral, garnering the support of big names like Beyoncé, Victoria Beckham, Diane Von Furstenburg, renowned journalist Christiane Amanpou, and even former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. Why, you might ask? Because the word has been used to attack little girls, robbing them of their individuality and, essentially, their ability to become vocal leaders.

In some ways, I can understand Sandberg’s motivation. Feminism has taken a backseat; it is not a topic that really grabs headlines in the States unless it’s another article about the wage gap or some fresh faced twenty-something waxing poetic about rape culture.

Sandburg has started a social conversation, and for this she should be applauded.  But, the issue is not with the campaign's latent purpose, it is the gimmick she is using to get #banbossy on our Twitter feeds and Facebook home screens.

If you venture to banbossy.com, you will immediately read, “When a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a “leader.” Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded “bossy."

But why choose to stigmatize a single word making it the face of a campaign that seems to have completely veered from its original purpose?  Is the campaign, instead,  a glamorized device that is using shallow celebrity support in order to popularize its one-dimensional execution?

Should we take “Bow Down Bitches” singer Beyoncé seriously when she tells us not to use the word bossy because it’s degrading to women and little girls? Is the word bitch not degrading? Do we not hear it repeatedly when women of all ages assert their feelings? Is Beyoncé ending her tweets with #banbitch? Nope.

Jay-Z even dedicated a song to his little "feminist" called, “That’s My Bitch.”

Women's media platform, SheKnows,recently released a video asking young girls the difference between being a leader and bossy.

In the video, one girl cleverly states, "Leaders are the people in charge and you have to listen to them, but bossy people aren't necessarily in charge." Elaborating even further on the gender/word issue, one girl says,"Being a boy or girl has nothing to do with being bossy."   

Should we be bothered by the word bossy?  Certainly being called overly authoritative or domineering is a lot better than other words that could be used to degrade women.

One might argue that the word bossy may be used more often to describe girls, but the word jerk is often used for boys.  Why not ban that word, too?

If Sandberg’s issue is with the negative connotation the word has in relation to girls, then why doesn't she just say that? Perhaps Sandberg has a better word in mind that would describe a kid displaying bad behavior by ordering other kids around and generally just being mean. Why not promote that word?

The answer is, simply, because it’s not catchy. Blanket statements like “the word bossy is bad” are not only ludicrous but makes a mockery of what this campaign is supposed to represent.

I am a woman and I understand that we have been trivialized for centuries; we have been called weak, shallow, and simple, so the need fight against these stereotypes is justified and necessary.

I understand that words are important and the pen is mightier than the sword and all that-- but, please do not use a campaign that is so trivial in nature and try and pawn it off as representative of the feminist struggle.

This is not empowering, This is insulting.


Game of Throne's Kit Harington Tapped as the New Face for Jimmy Choo Man

Kit Harington Jimmy Choo Man

Well, that sneaky bastard…

It seems while we were all anxiously waiting for the next season of "Game of Thrones" to premiere,  Kit Harington (John Snow) has been busy making waves in the fashion world.

Tapped to become the face of Jimmy Choo Man, a new menswear line from the Jimmy Choo brand that will include a range of sunglasses,  bags, and of course, shoes, Harington is over the moon at the prospect of being trusted to spearhead this campaign.

In a recent conversation with Vogue, Harington had this to say: “I was very excited to be chosen as the face for such a highly regarded brand and to play a role in defining who the Jimmy Choo Man is.”

Harington’s excitement is not one sided. Sandra Choi, creative director of Jimmy Choo, spoke highly of the actor saying, “Kit perfectly embodies the Jimmy Choo man. He has a natural and alluring masculinity and effortless sense of style. His cool attitude and smoldering sensuality belie a true British gentleman.”

If Choo holds true to form, Jimmy Choo Man will become a force to be reckoned with both as a fragrance and a ready-to-wear line, especially with Harrington’s face... and arms...and abs at the helm.

Jimmy Choo Man hits stores this September.


Opening Ceremony Introduces Vans to Artist Réné Margritte

Opening Ceremony Introduces Vans To Artist Réné Margritte

Opening Ceremony’s Humberto Leon and Carol Lim have outdone themselves with their latest collaboration with famed skate shoe brand Vans. Titled the “Year of Belgium,” the line celebrates Belgian artist Réné Magritte’s work by featuring his surrealist images on the classic canvas shoes.

The surreal shoe collection will use 5 of Magritte’s most recognized paintings -- Shéhérazade, Blow to the Heart, The Ladder of Fire, A Beautiful Relationship, and The King’s Museum -- on the face of the sneakers serving as a retrospective for Magritte’s renowned talent.

Opening Ceremony Introduces Vans To Artist Réné Margritte2

Without straying from the aesthetic of the original works, Opening Ceremony has produced the perfect marriage of old and new just in time for Spring.

The sneakers are currently available for pre-order with each pair retailing at $135 USD.