Geek For E!

29Rooms: Expand Your Reality is Headed to D.C.

29Rooms: Expand Your Reality is headed to D.C. in October. What is 29Rooms? It is a traveling immersive art installation by Refinery29. We had a chance to interview Olivia Fagon, the creative director of 29Rooms, to get a sneak peek into the makings of 29Rooms.

Can you explain the concept of pop-up art installments like 29Rooms?

When 29Rooms launched in 2015 it was a first of its kind experience; our hope then was to create an event that didn’t make our audience just spectators but actually invited them to feel, see and touch our very digital brand. That idea of centering your audience in a space that is immersive and visually-inspiring but not hands-off is at the heart of how we approach the event.  That obviously dovetailed with the how our audience is using social media, making spaces and experiences that give them a stage to capture and make their own content. 

So, we all know it’s called 29Rooms, based off of Refinery29, but are there really 29Rooms?

Yes, within 29Rooms, there are 29 unique experiences. We’ve pushed past defining a room as just a literal four-walled space. Here a room can mean an installation, stand-alone artworks, workshops, performances – that together act as a tasting menu of the conversations and culture our audience cares about across art, entertainment, activism, style and technology — all housed under one roof. 

Which room has been your favorite over the years?

I’ve loved so many of the rooms we’ve brought to life. There are a few that have stood out because they’ve changed the way we thought about what 29Rooms is and what it could be. “Inner Beauty Ball” a recreated phoneless nightclub we popped up in the middle of our venue with New York’s House of Yes confirmed how much our guests were looking to get off their phones and self-release. A lot of my favorite rooms have been collaborations with underrepresented voices or rooms that have give our audience artful and accessible ways-in to difficult but real pro-social conversations. For example, creating our own LGBTQIA+ Pride float in collaboration with artist Marina Fini at 29Rooms San Francisco and collaborating on a commemorative alter to Chicago gun violence with artist Shani Crowe at 29Rooms Chicago. 

And then I’m always excited by our celebrity collaborations that have real insight or cultural commentary at their center. A 360 video installation we created with Lena Waith last year documenting the black experience in the United States is a great example. 

What has been your biggest challenge putting together 29Rooms?

The main challenge is making space for the very unique and very different visions of so many artists and creatives while keeping one cohesive theme and the Refinery29 POV across the entire event. It’s a balancing act. We have to be flexible in our process of developing each artist’s experience, working around very different skill sets and often working with artists who maybe haven’t brought their work to life three-dimensionally or in a physical space before. And secondly, the challenge of continuing to reinvent and evolve the experience. We pioneered a new event concept when we launched 5 years ago, bringing our audience a snapshot of our brand and culture in a totally unique way, and we want to continue to innovate while still keeping what our audience and fans have loved about 29Rooms.

How do you choose the room themes?

The 29Rooms team is made up of a wide range of very talented creatives, designers and producers who develop the overarching tour for almost a year. We start by looking outward, working with our team of editors and creatives who speak to our audience daily, to capture the most relevant and forward thinking conversations across fashion, art, beauty, politics, etc. in one cohesive vision for the event, our theme. We also consider ways we want to evolve the event based on the event landscape (How can we innovate experiential?), our audience’s feedback (What did our guests love from last year’s 29Rooms?) and our own internal ambitions for the event (What’s next for 29Roomst?). We then start assembling our individual room experiences through our collaborator search, reaching out to a diverse list of always incredible talent with a specific vision or topic for a room that we want to create with them. It’s a lot of moving pieces but those key components of research, inspiration, feedback and collaborators always sets the foundation.  

How do you choose room sponsors, and do they work with Refinery29 to come up with a room theme, or do they design them themselves?

We look for partners who see real value in having a more direct, one-on-one conversation with our audience. Whether it’s a product launch with Reebok or a new campaign with Bare Minerals, we want our branded rooms to enhance the design, atmosphere and narrative of the event, so our creative approach is to build their experiences FOR the audience versus marketing to them. 

We collaborate directly with our partners to bring their own dedicated rooms to life, which our in-house creative, design and production team co-creates with them. 29Rooms is not an event where guests will see big logos plastered everywhere. Instead, we give our brands a heartbeat and apply the same creative and design principles to their spaces that we do across the event to ensure that they show up in a way that’s artful, authentic and meaningful. 

How do you go about finding the local artists for the different tour stops?

It’s important to us that we make space for the amazing creative communities that are in each city so we continue to collaborate with local artists on rooms and experiences at each tour stop. For example, we’re working with Trap Bob and Jamea Richmond-Edwards for the Washington DC stop of the Expand Your Reality tour.

Once we confirmed our tour schedule the team did a month-long search for emerging artists at each city, tapping our own networks, talent teams, Instagram and wider online research into the cultural spaces of those cities to find a long list of artists who reflect their city and share the forward-thinking Refinery29 spirit. Our creative partnership with those artists is then always a two-way dialogue; we bring a very clear vision of what we want the final experience to be (whether it’s the interaction, the visuals or the final takeaway for our guests) and then work with them collaboratively, across creative, design and production, till it’s live at 29Rooms. 

Are you concerned people are too focused on getting that perfect shot for social media that they end up missing the messages behind the rooms?

We’ve seen so much of the event’s impact come through our guests being able to use 29Rooms as a stage to comment, express a POV or share a personal story through the content they capture inside. Because the messages behind our rooms, whether we’re talking about spirituality or body image or voting rights, are directly inspired by what matters to the R29 audience, we’ve always seen a lot of harmony between what they take away on-site and what they end up posting.   

For Expand Your Reality tour though we’ve pushed a lot of experiences to be exclusively interactive and hands-on. With experiences that invite introspection like writing a letter to your inner child or hands-on art making, live dance performances and phone-free experiences we’re also challenging our guests to open up and engage with themselves and strangers in new ways in real time at the event. 

29Rooms will have a 15-day stop from October 18 – 27 at DC Armory. You can learn more about 29 Rooms’, or purchase tickets, on their website HERE.

TwiView: Ready or Not (2019)

Ready or Not is a gruesomely funny thriller that will have you rolling with laughter from start to finish. Grace (Samara Weaving) is set to marry the love of her life, Alex (Mark O’Brien). From the start, she has the inclination his family really doesn’t like her. From his creepy Aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni) to his alcoholic brother Daniel (Adam Brody), Grace hopes to win them all over and be a part of the Le Domas family.

Little does she know that her new husband’s gaming tycoon family has a little secret. At midnight on her wedding night, Grace learns she has to play a game to be inducted into the family. It could be anything chess, old maid, checkers, but the game Grace draws, hide and seek, is the worst of all. Grace slowly learns this game of hide and seek is like no other, and that she must do ANYTHING to survive her crazy new in-laws till dawn.

(L to R) Kristian Bruun, Melanie Scrofano, Andie MacDowell, Henry Czerny, Nicky Guadagni, Adam Brody, and Elyse Levesque in the film READY OR NOT. Photo by Eric Zachanowich. © 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

Even though Ready or Not has some amazing actors such as Andie MacDowell as Becky and Henry Czerny as Tony, Samara Weaving, and Nicky Guadagni are the standouts in this movie. Ready or Not is pegged as horror, mystery, thriller, but it really isn’t scary. Yes, a few things go bump in the night and there is a lot of gore, but the writers (Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy) and directors (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett) do such a great job interjecting comedy into just the right places that all tense moments are alleviated in seconds. Ready or Not will leave you rooting for the heroine and possibly never wanting to play hide and seek again. Haha! Ready or Not is Rated R. It has a lot of violence, blood, language, and some drugs. Not for children. Great movie all around. This non-horror film lover would see it again. I give it an A. Ready or Not opens on 08/21/2019. (R. Barry)

TwiView: Angry Birds 2 (2019)

The birds are back and they are no longer angry. After saving the eggs of Bird Island from the Pigs in the first movie, Red (Jason Sudeikis), Chuck (Josh Gad), and Bomb (Danny McBride) spend their days feuding with the Pigs from Pig Island. Their job is never done and Red basks in the glory of being a hero.

That is until one day the leader of the Pigs, Leonard (Bill Hader), asks for a truce. Having discovered another Island whose inhabitants don’t have the best intentions in mind for Bird or Pig Island, Leonard asks Red for his help to stop them. Cue Red getting the bird band back together including Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage) and reluctantly adding Chuck’s sister, Silver (Rachel Bloom).

Funnier than the first Angry Birds 2 has a ton of laughs, and if the late ’90s and early 2000s was your jam a lot of the humor is right up your alley. (Especially if you loved Dawson’s Creek.) Some amazing actors join the cast for Angry Birds 2, Leslie Jones as Zeta, Awkwafina as Courtney, Sterling K. Brown as Garry, and Tiffany Haddish as Debbie. Angry Birds 2 is rated PG. It does have some adult language and rude humor. I give Angry Birds 2 a B. Angry Birds 2 opens on TUES 08.13.19 (R. Barry)

(L to R, front to back) Courtney (Awkwafina), Chuck (Josh Gad), Silver (Rachel Bloom), Red (Jason Sudeikis), Leonard (Bill Hader), Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage) and Bomb (Danny McBride) in Columbia Pictures and Rovio Animations’ ANGRY BIRDS 2.

Hair Love Short Film (2019)

There is an animated short film that shows before Angry Birds 2 called Hair Love. It is about a little girl who wants her hair done so badly and her father who tries to do it. It is one of the cutest and most heartwarming short films I have seen in a while. I give Hair Love an A. (R. Barry)

Twiview: Fast And Furious Presents: Hobbs And Shaw

Is this franchise a bit stale with overblown action sequences and monster cars?  That would be no.  In actuality its just as vibrant, much more funny, and a Samoan rocking good time!  The Rock (Be Cool) and Jason Statham (The Transporter) return as Hobbs and Shaw respectively.   This time out, they’re teamed with Shaw’s sister Hattie (Vannessa Kirby; MI: Fallout) to thwart a revolutionary new kind of baddie…a cyber-enhanced one who goes by the name Brixton (Idris Elba; Molly’s Game).  Brixton is an augmented human with bionic implants, embedded AI tech and a super-suit so cool, it’s got holster’s for his multitude of guns.  Brixton, puppeteered by a shadowy ‘the man’ character you never meet, traverses the globe hunting down Hattie who is in position of a rare programmable virus that could wipe out the human race.   Shaw and Hobbs are reluctantly pulled in by the US government to track Brixton, retrieve the virus and save the day. 

Put aside the bevy of cameos in the film by some unexpected leading Hollywood names (no spoilers!), there’s something else buried deep within the nougaty center of this balls-out action blast, and that’s a message of family and forgiveness.   The Rock serves as a producer for this film and I get the sense that he was the driver for adding this element.  Hobb’s has a young precocious daughter who brings his character a touch of the softer side to balance out all this head-crushing action.  Going further, we get a deeper sense of Hobb’s connection to his estranged Samoan island family and how even in bad times, family will always win out in the end.  I confess, I have not followed the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise through its entirety so I can’t speak to continuity of storylines.  What I can say is that if you can see through some of the outlandish stunt sequences (which still look amazing even if completely unbelievable), you’ll find that this is a seriously funny film.  It’s more ‘buddy-cop’ than direct action vehicle which is strongly supported by those surprise cameos.  See this one with a date for some fun, it’s far from Shakespeare, but that isn’t why we love these high-octane, head-cracking action flicks.  B-

They'll save the world, if they don't kill each other first!

Review: The Lion King (2019)

I’m hoping there’s no ‘spoiler concerns,’ for readers as this is a remake 25 years in the making and as far as reboots go, this one is…acceptable.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved the animated version, music and all.  But, with the reboot, I wasn’t as happy.  Maybe it was too real?  Watching Simba and Scar go at it in animated form is a lot different than watching ‘real life’ lions going at each other (kinda scary).   The whimsy and folly of the original soundtrack takes a reboot here as key lyrics are changed (some for the better, some for the worse).  Even with Elton John back in the music fold to help out, I still felt as though the rebooted tracks were lacking.  The standout exception is the Beyonce, Donald Glover, Seth Rogen rendition of ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight,’  this one still gave me goosebumps like the original. 

So, the plot you know, right?  Young Simba is born into a great responsibility of caring for the African Prideland.  Young, rash and easily impressionable he unwittingly becomes a pawn in his Uncle Scar’s plans to take over the Pride by murdering Simba’s father, Mufasa (still voiced strongly and so well by James Earl Jones).  Ashamed of his role in his father’s death and chased out by his Uncle, Simba starts a new life in the wilderness and meets two animal friends who eagerly usher him through the new landscape.  With Timon (Billy Eichner) the Meerkat and Pumbaa (Seth Rogen) the warthog Simba learns to dismiss his upbringing and Pride responsibilities in favor of a carefree life.  When life within the Pride reaches destitute means, the lioness’ led by Simba’s former childhood friend Nala (Beyonce) leave the Pride for help which is what circles Nala back to Simba and a reminder about his real place in the ‘circle of life.’

So lets get to what matters, right?  Will you enjoy this film and will it frighten your young ones?  The simple answer is yes, on both counts.  It’s the ‘Lion King’ and the story has endured for 25 years via sequels, Broadway iterations and even an amusement park ride!  You’ll enjoy it because its essentially the same story as the original with some enhanced tidbits embedded throughout.  It is dark, and by that I mean, it’s a bit scary.  The elephant graveyard, the hyena’s and of course the penultimate fight scene in the 3rd act.  Remember the animated hyena’s?  They were funny, obviously bad guys, but far from what you’ll see here.  Shenzi (the lead hyena played by Whoopi Goldberg in the original), doesn’t so much seem like a member of the core trio, as an all-encompassing leader that would probably kill her own kind to get her means to an end.  Scar (voiced by Chiwetel Ejiofor) is obviously the bad guy, but his digitally animated form is not the ‘bony, barely there’ animated kind – it’s a harsher and more jaded face that starkly reminded me of the tiger Shere Khan from 2016’s ‘The Jungle Book.’  The rest of the voice talent within is serviceable.  Beyonce as Nala is incredibly underused, and outside of needing her voice for the key love song – she has no real presence.  The standout, for me, was Zazu (voiced ably and on par by John Oliver), and Pumbaa (Seth Rogen).   The rest of the voice talent carries the film, but none transcend.  

This film is rated PG not G like the original and it is a rightly designation.  Keep your kiddies close as the story draws out, they’ll be reaching for your hand at some point.  Running Time: 2hrs. – Grade, B-

The Lion King (2019)

TwiView: Stuber (2019)

 Looking for a movie with action and ‘millennial Uber driver meets 80’s’ style cop comedy? Look no further than Stuber. A sporting goods clerk by day, and Uber driver at night, Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) just wants to make some extra money to help open up a small business with a friend. Vic (Dave Bautista) is an older cop on a mission to capture a drug dealing bad guy who has eluded him for months. When Stu and Vic’s worlds collide, it turns into one hilarious shoot out after another, and we find out exactly the lengths Stu will go to keep his 5-star rating. Nanjiani shines in this action-packed comedy, and Bautista shows us he is a more versatile actor then some may think. Stuber will have you laughing through the whole movie. While I wish I could give Stuber a 5-star rating, I can’t. But, it is still a great summer movie and worth purchasing a ticket to see. 3 ½ stars. Stuber is rated R due to violence, brief nudity, language and sexual references. If you love 80’s cop movies you will enjoy Stuber. Stuber opens nationwide on FRI 07.12.19 (R. Barry)

Stuber (2019)
It’s going to be a rough path to 5-stars

Review: Spider-Man, Far From Home (2019)

(Spoiler Free!) Maybe you’re like me and think the latest iteration of Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is a little too young, naïve, and nice?  I mean, he is the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, but this kid is just a bit to cordial and a bit too trusting.  You can argue that’s a big theme in this latest installment from the MCU.  The plot you know right?  Peter and his classmates embark on a class trip to Europe which is interrupted by elemental forces who are being fought by a Thor-like superhero named Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal).  In the midst of this, is a blossoming pubescent relationship between Peter and MJ (Zendaya), and a relentless Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) who is hellbent on breaking Peter’s ‘love’ plans in favor of recruiting him to help Mysterio.  Seems like all the makings of a super-hero thriller right?  But wait, there’s more.  Remember ‘Avengers Infinity War/Endgame?’  How our penchant heroes saved the world and brought half the worlds population back to life?  SFFH continues that storyline with a really cool arc (no spoilers). 

Without spoiling it, you will enjoy this engaging installment of the franchise.  It’s a fitting follow up for ‘Endgame’ and a great growing point for all the primary characters including Happy (Jon Favreau), Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), and even his roommate Ned (Jacob Batalon).  Director Jon Watts (Cop Car) does a fantastic job with a big budget and a bevy of stars to handle.  This film could have easily left the mark by purely focusing on Spider-Man/Mysterio, but instead it does an artful job of making you care about young Peter, his teenage angst (waitaminit, is he still a teenager?), and even the budding romance of his oddly young and ‘incredibly hot after all these years’ Aunt May.  Let’s not forget the world locales as well.   Watts and his production designer did an amazing job showcasing world landmark locations in way that made them feel almost Disneyland like – I wanted to be at every site they filmed at.

This chapter is not the penultimate of the MCU, but it’s a solid addition to it.  You’ll be engaged the entire ride and leave the theater wishing you had a set of Tony Stark’s ‘big brother’ spectacles!  There is, to me, one gaping hole plot but I’ll wait until WED of next week to discuss it in this post (no spoilers!).  B+ Spider-Man Far From Home is rated PG-13 with a running time of 2h 13m.  Oh yeah, SPOILER ALERT!! There are two post credit scenes you’ll want to stick around for and both are not only relevant but great additions to the storyline.

Glass, DVD/BluRay Giveaway!

Fan of M. Night Shyamalan? Well we’ve got DVD/BluRay copies of his latest thriller, ‘Glass.’ The film features Shyamalan’s eccentric trio of super and anti-heroes, while offering a closer look at the world of the men within; Elijah Price, also known as Mr. Glass (Samuel J. Jackson), David Dunn (Bruce Willis), and Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) all work together to weave a tale of escalating encounters as they escape from an asylum and embark on a thrilling battle of good versus evil! Want to score a copy of the disc for yourself? Check the contest details below the banner and #staygeeky

A shattering new thriller from the Director of ‘The Sixth Sense’
[Read more…]

TwitView: The LEGO Movie 2, The Second Part, A+

TwiView: The LEGO Movie 2, The Second Part – This is what the follow up LEGO movies behind the original SHOULD have been! A return to the cross-storyline that involves not just the LEGO characters but also the humans that are controlling them.  This time out, Bricksburg is threatened by an alien force which in the real world is a powerful ‘Mom’ whose trying to get her children to learn how to play together.  You’ll get bonuses in this one in the form of some great new characters and voices including the sultry, slick and evil? Tiffany Haddish as Queen Watevra (get it?).  Chris Pratt pulls double duty as Awesome Emmitt and the all-new Rex Dangervest.  What sets this iteration apart from the abysmal LEGO Ninjago movie and LEGO Batman movie is its return to family cohesiveness at its core.  Remember that wonder from the original film as real-life little Jaden builds a LEGO world in his Dad’s basement and it plays out in the LEGO world? Well, you get a nice heaping helping of that again and you’ll be delighted by the characters you meet along the way.  A-

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch – BluRay/DVD Giveaway!

Oh the weather outside is frightful…And it looks to continue so why not stay warm by the fire with a heartwarming and grinchy tale to help you pass the frost-bitten hours?  Universal Home Video is proudly launching the box-office smash reboot of the classic Dr. Seuss hit, ‘The Grinch’ starring Benedict Cumberbatch on JAN 22 via digital and on FEB 05, 2019 for 3K Ultra, Blu-Ray and DVD.  Want to score a copy of the BluRay/DVD delivered right to your door?  Check the contest details behind the post, and #staygeeky

[Read more…]