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Film Review: Equalizer 2

equalizer 2 denzel washington movie

A short review of Equalizer 2 starring Denzel Washington from About Magazine film reviewer, Kitty Curtis.

The Equalizer 2 – released July 20th 2018 and directed by Antoine Fuqua – was action packed from start to finish. In the sequel to its 2014 predecessor – protagonist Robert McCall (played by Denzel Washington) isn’t the only ass-kicker, but is joined by an equally ass-kicking cast of supporting players. The film follows McCall following the death of his longtime friend and colleague, Susan Plummer, (Melissa Leo, who returns from the original film), but she doesn’t doesn’t go down without a fight. But the two young men who take her life have bitten off more than they can chew and come to find that they may next time think twice before killing an older woman as McCall makes it his mission to exact his revenge and avenging her death. In doing so, McCall takes on a team of killers who will stop at nothing to see him dead.

This movie has so far grossed over $70.3 million, but only took $55 million to make.The dramatic performances from the actors are spot-on and the story is tightly wound.  If you love action and sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seat kind of movies, then this is a must-see. I give it five stars. We’re all About it.

All-About-It Film Review: Equalizer 2

REVIEW: Fantastic Beasts 2 & Gay Dumbledore

Fantastic Beasts The Crimes of Grindelwald Dumbledore Gay Harry Potter

This piece contains spoilers from the film Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the newest installment in JK Rowling’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter franchise.


About Magazine was lucky enough to attend an advance screening of the highly-anticipated second installment of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter prequel series last night, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald; and boy-oh-boy do we have a lot of thoughts – 3/5 Stars.

body REVIEW: Fantastic Beasts 2 & Gay Dumbledore

The film, which follows Rowling and director David Yates’ 2016 film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, is set shortly after the end of the first film in the pre-war 1900s where we find the freshman film’s protagonist, Newt Scamander (played shyly by ginger biscuit Eddie Redmayne), back home in London after releasing his book (which shares a name with the film) and saving New York City from black magical peril. No big deal. Although captured by the MACUSA — that’s the Magical Congress of the United States of America, or the Ministry of Magic’s American equivalent — in the first film, antagonist Gellert Grindelwald (fan-least-favorite Johnny Depp) is on the loose in Paris where he is garnering a following he hopes to help him escalate the power held by pure-blood witches and wizards (magical folk that descend from only magical bloodlines) over non-magical people worldwide. Throughout the film, Scamander and his trio of hapless misfit comrades (portrayed by Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, and Alison Sudol) must come together (and split apart) again to learn what Grindelwald is up to and begin the process of thwarting his plans … sort of.

There were a lot of questions and controversies that preceded the release of this film — two of the most important of which (especially for the LGBTQ+ community) being:

  1. Why the actual fuck are we letting Johnny Depp be a key player in what will likely be one of the most successful film franchises of this century after he has proven to be — on video, nonetheless — a man who physically and mentally abused his ex-wife, Amber Heard? I mean … really, Jo? The story of your success is so much about overcoming abuse in your first marriage, and abuse is an integral part of Harry Potter’s own story of heroism. I know that you don’t retain sole control over what happens in these films, but for fuck’s sake, you are JK-fucking-Rowling. You can have anything you want with just the snap of your fingers. Kind of like … I don’t know … magic!
  2. Are we gonna see Dumbledore get reeeeaaaal gay in this movie? Prior to the film’s release, director David Yates’ announced that the young Albus Dumbledore (played by the very sexy in some well-fitted suits Jude Law) would not be “explicitly” gay, in spite of the fact that years before the concept of these movies was ever even drawn up, Jo Rowling had announced to fans that Dumbledore was a powerful old queen — a Supreme maybe. (Probs not). The answer to this question will likely surprise you and will come later in this review.

dumbldore REVIEW: Fantastic Beasts 2 & Gay Dumbledore

I cannot answer the first question, as it does not make sense to me. That being said, after attending Leaky Con this past year — the official Harry Potter convention that was hosted in Dallas, TX in the late summer — and attending a panel about Rowling’s creative liberties she’s taken with the Harry Potter canon, it was very clear to me that I was not the only person who was dumbstruck by Depp’s involvement in the films going forward. Many of us were unaware of his involvement in the first film until the final scenes of it where we see the character who was before only referenced briefly in that film and in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. When news broke of Depp’s less-than-acceptable choices of words and actions used toward now-ex-wife Amber Heard, as well as video surfacing of him throwing wine glasses across a room at her, feminist and queer fans of the films were outraged — many of whom even called for Depp’s firing and replacement. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time a character — notably those with far more screen time passed than Depp — had been replaced in the Wizarding World Universe. And besides, in 2017/18, we’ve seen people lose a lot for equally deplorable behavior. Roseanne Barr was ousted from her own TV show after a racist tweet, and men all across the globe are slowly being fired, shamed, and charged for acts of sexual assault and rape (then again, many are not 😡). But nothing came of this uproar from faithful fans, really; unless you count a bullshit not-apology from JK Rowling.

Here’s the thing: we all love JK Rowling; she created a world that we all want to live in and that some of us obsess over, even having taken the time to get sorted into Hogwarts houses and to buy $40 wands off the shelves of Barnes and Noble. We’re kind of obsessive little weirdos that have followed these stories now into the tenth film, with many of us even having read or seen the highly-criticized stage play sequel, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I still have Jewish guilt about how much I hated it. But, as pointed out to a friend and I during the last Leaky Con panel we attended, Rowling has begun to play a little fast-and-loose with the Harry Potter canon. She’s literally become the loose canon of canon, because we just never know what to expect next.

And the newest Fantastic Beasts was no exception to that rule. The film — while entertaining and with just as much world expansion as any Rowling tale — was often confusing. Mind you, we showed up fifteen minutes late due to me being stuck in traffic, but for a film that runs about 2 ¼ hours, we assumed we didn’t miss much. Where we found the film was oddly reminiscent of the later Harry Potter films, with Grindelwald — in true Voldemort form — meeting up with all his evil little buddies, telling them about the new world he wanted to create, and sending them off on cryptic, dark missions even though there was that one token follower — a la any Malfoy — who was kind of like, “Guys … should we really be doing this?” The only difference here was that Grindelwald maintained a fully-formed nose/soul, although he did have one ivory-colored eye, which I still don’t quite understand. But, I’m digressing from the point.

The film then jumped back to Newt, who is traipsing around London all willy-nilly — presumably because he’s now a published author and life is good — in spite of the fact that he’s kind of being watched by the Ministry of Magic after the shit that went down in NYC in the first film. Remember? Credence — AKA a very foine Ezra Miller — was possessed (so to speak) by some evil magic known as an Obscurus — which is basically what happens when children who have magical powers are forced to or choose to repress their magic, therein creating an evil monster within themselves. It seemed as though Credence died at the end of the first film, but apparently — and, again, confusingly enough — he did not. Then, like we all do at some point during the day, he traveled from New York City to Paris to join a circus in search of his birth mother, which also does not really pan out for him. *Sigh*

Back to the story: when we find Newt, he’s being somewhat-stalked by a young Albus  Dumbledore who, even in his younger years, is as glib and cryptic as ever. Dumbledore informs Scamander that he needs to go find Credence — still don’t know how he survived, but maybe that was explained in those first fifteen minutes 🤷🏼‍♀️ — and that he has to be the one to take down Grindelwald as Dumbledore apparently cannot.

*Shrugs* Makes sense, I guess. I mean, what do all Harry Potter fans know of Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s relationship? Let’s see … they were BFFs back in the day. Then Grindelwald started dabbling in some dark shit, and Dumbledore was kind of like, “Yo … das not good.” Then, of course, Grindelwald and Dumbledore fell in love–

gay REVIEW: Fantastic Beasts 2 & Gay Dumbledore— right as Grindelwald was ascending to power as the most powerful dark wizard ever, or at least at the time (sorry, Voldy). That being said, it doesn’t take much reaching for a fan to figure out why Dumbledore — who is repeatedly referred to throughout the film as Grindelwald’s only real equal — can’t take down this motherfucker.

Now, here is the thing, y’all:

I have to take up for our friend Jo Rowling on this one. Because er’rybody was getting reeeaaal upset about the whole gay situation for a while there. And I have to say, I think Rowling and Yates handled it very well. They did exactly what Yates said — they didn’t make Dumbledore explicitly gay. How’s that? Well, in Rowling’s words, “[…] gay people just look like … people […]”. And that’s true here — although one could argue (one being me) that Dumbledore is much better dressed than the other men in this movie and henny do those pants hug all the right places on Jude Law’s beautiful daddy body. ¡Oye, papito ingles! We don’t see Dumbledore getting the ‘D’ in Grindelwald or vice versa, and we don’t see them exchanging Shakespearean sonnets of love. But the foundations of Dumbledore’s big gay secret are all there. From the hesitancy Dumbledore has to explaining why he cannot face Grindelwald in combat to the moment he takes a look in the Mirror of Erised — the mirror featured first in Harry Potter in the Sorcerer’s Stone which shows the onlooker the thing he or she most desires. In the mirror, Dumbledore sees Grindelwald staring back at him, as well as a flashback of their youth when they made an unbreakable vow to never stand-off against one another. The subtleties here are anything but, and the groundwork for what is likely going to be expounded upon later in the series is laid. Remember … we still have three films for them to totally bone out, guys. Chill.

This may be the least confusing part of the film, but certainly it isn’t the most expository. In fact, most of the film is exposition. Watching the events unfold plays out like reading a novel. It’s a surprise that Rowling didn’t replace sluglines in her script with chapter headers. However, that is what Rowling does best. Rather than beginning the film — and surely with five films in total there was time to do this — with a visual of how Credence came to survive, why the spell to erase Jacob’s memory (played by Dan Fogler) didn’t stick, and why Tina Goldstein (Waterston) isn’t with Scamander after their shared public display of affection at the end of the first film, we’re instead told throughout the first 45 minutes the ins-and-outs of how magic works and why things are they way they are. 🤦🏼‍♀️ And that’s where Rowling’s writing legacy fails itself. In an effort to fit so many Harry Potter tie-ins into this film — including the history of how Voldemort’s prized snake/horcrux Nagini came to life — Rowling does too much telling and, in turn, some serious retcon.

What always made the Harry Potter series such a great tale — save for the final book/movie installments, in which she got a bit carried away with squeezing in the story of the Deathly Hallows and Dumbledore’s backstory before she ran out of space to write them — was that we got to watch everything play out. Jo set mysteries in place that were always a bit expository when it came down to the explanation, but the fun laid in watching the story get to that exposition. Whether it be the origins of the Sorcerer’s Stone — btdubbs, old-ass Nicholas Flamel plays an important if not hilarious and unnecessary part in this film — Sirius Black’s relationship with his family and the Potters, or each and every big reveal that came along with Snape’s character, there was something that kept readers and viewers coming back for more. In spite of the fact that Rowling has created a number of cliffhangers that will certainly leave curious fans waiting until the 2020 release of the currently untitled third film, she’s kind of taken the fun out of them.

snape REVIEW: Fantastic Beasts 2 & Gay Dumbledore

The largest and probably most aggravating example comes again from Credence’s character, whom we discover at the end of the film — once again through some heavy exposition — to be a lost sibling of the Dumbledore family (or is he? Grindelwald lies, y’all!). In doing so — as per the aforementioned retcon — it seems as though Rowling has tried to create some shocking air of mystique that ties back to the original tale we all know and love. Unfortunately, what she’s doing instead is rewriting a history and robbing the new series of the ability to stand on its own two feet.

All of that said, there are some great parts to this movie — though my friend Kirby would disagree about the one I’ll mention first.

  1. Queenie (played by Sudol) turns out to be going through some internalized issues because she’s in love with Jacob, a muggle (or no-maj, or whatthefuckever we’re supposed to be calling them now), who wants to be with her but doesn’t want to wed in order to keep her out of Azkaban (or the American equivalent). This struggle brings out — quite curiously, if nothing else — a desire to try to better understand those of Grindelwald’s and leads her right into his ranks as his newest follower.
  2. We get to see more people of color cast in important roles in this film. From Claudia Kim — who plays the human personification of Nagini — to the incomparably talented daughter of Lenny Kravitz, Zoe Kravitz (who BY THE WAY did not have to fucking die), to a handful of others who not only play key-roles but actually play important lineage ties to families of the original film series.
  3. HOGWARTS! We get to go back to Hogwarts! The time spent there is brief — and rightfully so — but in seeing a young Dumbledore (as well as a young Minerva McGonagall, played by Fiona Glascott), true Potterheads have a nice respite from the often overwhelming confusion of the newest installment.
  4. The action is pretty incredible. The movie offers more action scenes than the first, and the visual displays of each one are nothing short of breathtaking. The new creatures we’re introduced to — as well as the old (gotta love those Nifflers) — play an integral part in Newt + Co’s successes, and the magical feats that are excellently — if not a bit gaudily — CGI’d are nothing short of gorgeous. In the final battle of the film, we see a stunning showdown between Grindelwald and the Aurors, which quickly escalates into the a literal manifestation of fighting fire-with-fire.

Overall, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is kind of a mess; it’s true. But the lovely thing about it is the knowledge that — given a little time and direction — Rowling, Yates, and the rest of the creative team at Warner Bros. will have the time to sort through the bedlam and bring something wonderful — and hopefully simpler — for the final three films in the series. I mean … we’ve got at least six years until we know exactly how everything will end. And one thing is for certain: this is an entirely different arena than the Harry Potter films. The reason we’re so easily disappointed or excited is because we have no idea what to expect. We don’t have seven books in our laps to reference leading up to the films’ releases. And that is a big blind spot not only for us, but for JK Rowling and everyone involved in the creation of this series. Like with all things, it is certain to be hit-or-miss. But what the entire crew has on its side is a loyal fanbase — albeit one that questions pretty much everything nowadays (and rightfully so) — incredibly talented actors, and a wonderful crew to bring something to life that is both aesthetically pleasing and — if nothing else — just enough to fill the space in our hearts that starts to open up when we don’t have anything new to rely on.

And isn’t that kind of magical in and of itself?

Were-About-It-2 REVIEW: Fantastic Beasts 2 & Gay Dumbledore

About Greenlights Three TV Shows

How to Break My Neck Lifelong Learning The Anthony Project TV Shows About

About Media greenlights The Anthony Project, How to Break My Neck, and Lifelong Learning

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Anthony Ramirez will write the three adaptations.

(HOUSTON) – About Media (the production company/sister-business of About Magazine) has ordered scripts for three original, scripted series to be streamed exclusively through About. Of the three, one is an original comedy written by About editor-in-chief, Anthony Ramirez, entitled The Anthony Project. The latter two are adaptations of books published by About’s publishing company, About Editions. The first is an adaptation of Jessica L. Walsh’s How to Break My Neck, and the second being an adaptation of Zeke Jarvis’s forthcoming book, Lifelong Learning.

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Co-writer Rebekah Knight

The Anthony Project follows a gay writer who all in one week loses his grandmother to renal failure, finds out his boyfriend is cheating on him with a woman, and must take over a magazine after his boss abandons ship. Set in Houston, the series revolves around a fictional Ramirez and his group of eccentric friends as they navigate their love lives, trite homophobia, depression, substance abuse, and alcoholism. All the while, Ramirez must come to learn that no matter how badly he may want to, he can’t fix everyone’s problems … especially when he has so many of his own to work on. The series was created by Ramirez and is being penned in conjunction with Rebekah Knight and Kimberly Dyan. An open casting call is underway for roles on The Anthony Project, with city-wide auditions taking place Saturday, May 5th, at the Montrose Center in Houston beginning at noon.

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Jessica L. Walsh

How to Break My Neck is an adaptation of Jessica L. Walsh’s collection of poetry of the same name. The series invites us into the life of Jessica “J” Cato, a poet with the ability to see people’s pasts when they are near. However, when J denounces her gift, she finds herself with a sever bout of writer’s block, realizing all the poetry she’s ever written was inspired by the lives of women she’s met and clairvoyantly come to know. But what’s more is the discovery that her poems, when read aloud, have the ability to affect change. The series will be written by Anthony Ramirez & Anthony Project co-writer, Rebekah Knight.

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Zeke Jarvis

Lifelong Learning is an adaptation of Zeke Jarvis’s forthcoming collection of short stories of the same name. The series exists in a world of strange rules: when a relative dies, you must cook and eat their remains; teenagers of impoverished families may commit suicide on camera to earn extra income for their families; blood sacrifices must be made to appease the Darkness; and when the Overlord says something, it is law. But the question remains: why are the rules in place? And who made them so? Following the lives several strangers as they navigate through the rules of their post-apocalyptic world, Lifelong Learning postulates questions about life, death, Heaven, Hell, God, Satan, and how society can fall into a world where nothing really makes any sense. The series will also be written by Ramirez.

The Anthony Project is slated to premier on Tuesday, October 16th, 2018. Learning and Neck have not yet set premiere dates, but are anticipated for early 2019.

Sherry Vine Launches Queer Network, gaySVTVworld

We Want Our Drag TV
The Internet is getting a whole lot gayer!   International drag darling Sherry Vine and former Here-TV executive Josh Rosenzweig are combining their style, humor and sensibility into a one-stop, digital destination for all of the world’s LGBTQ entertainment needs.  gaySVTVworld premieres February 14 with original shows, specials, music videos, short films and more: all free at YouTube.com/MissSherryVine.

“The world needs gaySVTVworld because they are hungry for original programming from top queer talent,” says Vine, a comedian whose hilarious video parodies have made her a YouTube sensation.  “We got ‘em all: Haus Of Mimosa, Pickles, David Serrano, Chris Semers … and this is only the beginning.”

TBT-Pickles-logo-300x242 Sherry Vine Launches Queer Network, gaySVTVworldgaySVTVworld is created by and for LGBTQ audiences,” adds Josh Rosenzweig. A two-time Emmy Award nominee, Rosenzweig served as SVP of Here TV for ten years where he produced over two hundred hours of television including She’s Living For This, a show that starred Vine.  “Nobody is going to tell our stories like we will. While our visibility has increased enormously over the last decade with the launch of several LGBT television networks, it is essential that the community have an online space to call our own.  A destination where we can go to find like-minded artists and feel the power of the collective.”

While gaySVTVworld draws inspiration from a traditional television model, it also presents a modern digital age spin with all shows under-seven minutes long.  “We’re offering short content so people can view several episodes in the same amount of time as one traditional TV show,” explains Vine.  “Maybe you only have five free minutes on your way to work or during a lunch break.  That’s enough time to catch a hilarious episode of Fashion Puhleez on your smart phone!”

The network will kick off its first season with a slate of eight programs, releasing daily, beginning with Sunday’s Sherry and the Greek, an original talk series starring Vine and Chris Semers, discussing a variety of fun topics and performing skits, characters, and musical numbers.

On Monday, queer notables share their pop culture picks on EduGAYtion.   Then Tuesday, The Rachel Zoe Show meets Project Runway in Fashion Puhleez, with lead players in the beauty industry discussing fashion, club couture and styling.

House of Mimosa presents The Anita & Gina Marie Show, a comedic show that chronicles the daily antics of two women as they cause mayhem throughout Astoria, Queens (singing out – or rather, airing out – all their dirty laundry) gets viewers over hump day.   Then its Throwback Thursdays with Pickles, a look back at a public access show that offers a glimpse into the gay, downtown art and nightlife scene of New York in the nineties.

Celebrate the end of the workweek with The Flames of Hell’s Kitchen, a telanovela about the life of Sherry Vine, her manager Gloria, assistant Busted and sexy Latino boyfriend, Diego.  In the first season, Sherry wins big, loses everything, slips back into a life of drugs, and faces an intervention. The show stars David Serrano, Busted, Patty McKeever and Al McKeever.

Finally, on Saturday, it’s movie night as gaySVTVworld presents The SVTV Short Film Fest, an online festival dedicated to spotlighting the very best LGBTQ filmmakers from around the world.  Each week is a new short film along with interviews from the filmmakers and special bonus features.

In addition, What’s In Your Purse?, a hilarious two-minute segment featuring Vine cornering nightlife celebrities and forcing them to reveal the contents of their bags, will run throughout the week.

“We knew launching a network was an ambitious endeavor but there are so many things we didn’t think of,” admits Vine.  “Josh and I and our amazing team have literally been working every day on gaySVTVworld for almost a year now.”

“So much of that time has been spent on brainstorming ideas, reaching out to people we wanted to work with and deciding on a slate we felt confident about,” continues Rosenzweig.  “We have several shows that are in various stages of development. Our intention is to continue to keep rolling out new programs, music videos and comedy sketches.”

gaySVTVworld premieres February 14 at YouTube.com/MissSherryVine