Nick Schager

Nick Schager

Arnold Schwazenegger Cops to His Biggest Scandals in New Netflix Docuseries

NetflixFew people embody the American Dream more than Arnold Schwarzenegger, who transformed his love of bodybuilding into a vehicle for athletic, cinematic, and political superstardom.It was a rise of meteoric proportions, albeit not without its scandals, and Arnold, director Lesley Chilcott’s three-part Netflix documentary (which will be released June 7) about the icon’s tremendous life story, does touch upon the major ones, including the 2003 accusations from multiple women about his sexual misconduct, with Schwarzenegger stating, “It doesn't really matter what time it is. If it's the Muscle Beach days, or 40 years ago, or today. This was wrong. It was bullshit. Forget all the excuses. This was wrong.”It's a blunt admission from one of Hollywood’s most recognizable and popular leading men, and it’s not the only time during Arnold (arriving on the heels of his underwhelming Netflix series, FUBAR) that Schwarzenegger cops to his failings—something he also does, notably, about the affair and out-of-wedlock child (fathered with family housekeeper Mildred Patricia Baena) that destroyed his 25-year marriage to Maria Shriver.Read more at The Daily Beast.

John Lurie Wants You to Boycott Everything (Except His TV Show)

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Wikimedia Commons/MaxA funny, introspective, and altogether charming show driven by the inventive and confessional artistry of its creator, John Lurie, Painting with John is a balm for the soul. The celebrated leader of the Lounge Lizards jazz ensemble, the star of Jim Jarmusch’s seminal ’80s indies Stranger than Paradise and Down by Law, and the host of the cult small-screen hit Fishing with John, the 70-year-old Lurie is a raconteur with few equals.The multi-hyphenate once again provides a unique peek into his world—and his idiosyncratic paintings—with his acclaimed HBO series, whose perfect Rotten Tomatoes score (a point of pride to Lurie, who even mentions it in a new episode) is unlikely to waver following the June 2 debut of its masterful third season.Recounting anecdotes and musing on absurdities in to-the-camera interviews as he puts paint and brush to canvas, Lurie is a born storyteller, and the tales that make up Painting with John’s third go-round are some of his finest, including a second-episode yarn about a childhood summer-camp odyssey that’s brilliantly animated by Lurie himself. That Lurie knows how to build to a sly punchline or moving denouement is by now well established.Read more at The Daily Beast.

The Brutal Takedown of the Duggar Family’s Evangelical Crusade

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty/Amazon StudiosThe Duggars, stars of TLC’s 19 Kids & Counting, were superficially presented as an eccentric real-life version of the characters from Cheaper by the Dozen. Yet beneath that façade, they were always religious zealots who adhered to an extreme brand of patriarchal Christianity that opposed abortion, disapproved of LGBTQ+ rights, and manipulated women through scripture that encouraged them to be incessantly pregnant. Prime Video’s four-part Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets is a brutal takedown of the Arkansas clan, led by testimony from two of its own. It’s also, however, an expose about the Duggars’ role as chief promoters of a sexist evangelical crusade designed to denigrate, dominate, and disempower its female members, as well as to spread its message all the way to the corridors of U.S. political power. As such, it’s additionally a damning indictment of TLC and its parent company, Warner Discovery, which helped spotlight a regressive and deeply misogynistic movement.Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s faith was a central component of 19 Kids & Counting. Less obvious, though, were their bedrock ties to the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP), an ultra-out-there association founded by Bill Gothard. Gothard, as seen in copious seminar speeches and promotional videos, preached a 1950s-via-1800s Christian doctrine in which men were irreproachable heads of households and women were their subservient partners. Be it demanding purity and modesty from girls, dishing out corporal punishment to children (spankings will keep them in line!), dissuading people from reporting mistreatment, or giving fathers—and other male figures—complete authority over daughters’ lives (especially with regards to dating and marriages, which were basically arranged), it was, and remains, a system of physical, psychological, emotional, and sexual control and abuse.Read more at The Daily Beast.

‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Is Superhero Perfection

Sony PicturesWriters/producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s 2018 Oscar-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is one of modern superhero cinema’s genuine triumphs, this despite the fact that it helped make the multiverse—that dreaded concept which allows for endless reiterations, revisions and reboots—a mainstream staple.There are even more Spider-men, women, children and animals to be found in its follow-up, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, which hits theaters June 2, an overstuffed saga that boasts a heart and flair that only a few of its genre brethren can match. Sending its Brooklyn-native wall-crawler Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) on an odyssey to multiple mirror-image Earths, it’s a smashing success which proves that a surplus of web-slingers—and artistic imagination—is never enough.Setting a new benchmark for diverse, agile, breathtaking animation, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is as striking as non-live-action films come, mixing and matching patterns and palettes to create an awe-inspiringly expressive tapestry of designs and hues. Its models ranging from CGI-traditional to hand-drawn sketchy to cut-and-paste raggedy, directors Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson’s sequel is a multifaceted wonder, and that also goes for the interaction between its foreground figures and background environments, which vary in fashion, vibrancy and focus, frequently assuming a form (say, a dripping watercolor technique for a moving conversation) to match the tenor of a given scene.Read more at The Daily Beast.

Freddy Krueger Speaks: Robert Englund Breaks Down His Legendary Horror Career

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/GettyIn the pantheon of horror movie villains, few hold a higher position than Freddy Krueger, the malevolent melted-face child molester who stalks teenagers in their dreams.With his razor-fingered glove, red-and-black sweater and ratty fedora, Krueger is a fiend of demonic deviance, his viciousness only matched by his dark, demented sense of humor. First introduced in Wes Craven’s seminal 1984 film A Nightmare on Elm Street, and then cutting a swath through a bevy of Hollywood’s youngest and brightest in seven additional films (as well as TV’s Freddy’s Nightmares), he ranks alongside Michael Myers and Jason Vorhees as one of modern cinema’s undisputed lethal legends, a monster so unforgettable that he quickly became one of his era’s most recognizable pop-culture icons.And he’d be nothing without Robert Englund.Read more at The Daily Beast.

The Ugly, Backstabbing Treachery Behind ‘American Gladiators’

ESPN Marketing/YouTubeEvery pop culture phenomenon now gets an additional 15 minutes of fame courtesy of a nostalgic non-fiction documentary. So it was perhaps inevitable that someone would turn their attention to American Gladiators, the influential TV series that ran from 1989 to 1996 (and was briefly revived in 2008) and pitted contestants against titans in a variety of brutal David-versus-Goliath athletic challenges. Fortunately, that someone is director Benjamin Berman, who, as with 2019’s The Amazing Johnathan Documentary, transforms what might have been a conventional profile piece into a multilayered and moving treatise on success, exploitation, betrayal, brotherhood, and the catastrophic warfare that can come from chasing a beloved dream.The latest installment of ESPN’s celebrated “30 for 30” series, the two-part American Gladiators Documentary (May 30) begins as a straightforward revisitation of the past, providing an outline of the show’s inception, rise to stratospheric heights, and cancellation, via interviews with a few of the larger-than-life men and women who starred as Gladiators. Gemini (Michael Horton), Malibu (Deron McBee), Elektra (Salina Bartunek), and Sabre (Lynn “Red” Williams) offer candid first-person accounts of their heady celebrity experiences, along the way touching upon the daddy issues, gangland anger, and party-hard wildness that colored their time doing battle for the viewing pleasure of millions. Their colorful anecdotes lend the material its humor and its sorrow, the latter born from personal tragedies, professional flameouts, and the myriad injuries that left them bruised and battered—and, in the case of Thunder (William Smith), permanently disabled and deeply regretful.The main attraction in The American Gladiators Documentary, though, is Johnny Ferraro, the impresario who shepherded American Gladiators to the top. A former Elvis impersonator and native of Erie, Pennsylvania, Ferraro admits, “I was looking for something to be in the limelight.” and, “I wanted to build my own thing.” What he concocted was a movie about rugged blue-collar Americans who became superheroic do-gooders, and he took it to Hollywood, where for six years his pitch fell on deaf ears. However, after watching Oh, God! You Devil and pledging to sell his own soul to Satan for a shot at the big time, he met a receptive producer who loved his American Gladiators concept and wanted to make it a TV show. For Ferraro, it was the moment he’d been waiting for, and he seized it with relish.Read more at The Daily Beast.

They Actually Found a Way to Make the Boogeyman Not Scary

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/20th Century StudiosWhether lurking under a child’s bed or hiding in their closet, the Boogeyman is the most generic and hackneyed of mythic monsters, and thus it makes depressing sense that The Boogeyman is a stale compilation of clichés without a unique bone in its rickety body. Apt to startle only those who’ve never seen a scary movie before, Rob Savage’s adaptation of Stephen King’s 1973 short story is as stereotypical as they come, so devoid of originality that the most pressing emotion it elicits is pity for its leads, Sophie Thatcher (Yellowjackets) and Chris Messina (Air), who deserve better than to be put through this paint-by-numbers ringer.As written by Mark Heyman and A Quiet Place’s Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, The Boogeyman (in theaters June 2) bares only the faintest resemblance to its source material, whose compact saga of a father telling a therapist about his children’s supernatural demises was a Tales from the Crypt-style study of parental terror, hate and guilt that built to a memorably creepy finale.Those elements are nominally integrated into Savage’s big-screen version, yet in this case, the focus shifts to the shrink, Will Harper (Messina), and his two daughters Sadie (Thatcher) and Sawyer (Vivien Lyra Blair), who are still recovering from the recent car-accident death of their mother. Grief has infested their house, and while Will shrewdly notes that one of his patients is most afraid of “being alone,” he doesn’t see the same fear in himself, regardless of the fact that, in mourning, he’s emotionally cut himself off from his brood.Read more at The Daily Beast.

‘The Orphan’ Comes to Life in This Horrifying True Story

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/ID/GettyThe Orphan horror movies, about an adopted Eastern European girl who turns out to be a murderous adult in disguise, are nonsensical claptrap. The Curious Case of Natalia Grace puts forward the theory that may have been realistic.That suggestion is the astonishing hook of ID’s six-part, three-night docuseries event (starting May 29), whose tale concerns an Indiana couple who brought a young child into their home, only to suspect that she was a duplicitous twentysomething sociopath determined to kill them.The Curious Case of Natalia Grace’s introductory montage—a routine docuseries convention in which the juiciest elements of the forthcoming story are teased—sets some sort of record for eye-opening details and quotes, and the ensuing tale doesn’t disappoint when it comes to boggling the mind.Read more at The Daily Beast.

Sydney Sweeney Gives an Unforgettable Performance in ‘Reality’

Photo Illustration by Erin O’Flynn/The Daily Beast/HBOTraitor or patriot—that’s the question lingering over Reality, writer/director Tina Satter’s HBO film adaptation of her Broadway play Is This a Room? about a whistleblower on the cusp of arrest. Its title is both the name of its protagonist and a reference to the nature of its tale, and Reality is a stagey dramatization about the flimsy line separating truth from lies, honor from treachery. Though its real-life story ultimately proves a little too one-note, it makes up for its thinness with a powerhouse lead turn from Sydney Sweeney as a woman caught in a nerve-wracking mess of her own making.Its dialogue taken directly from transcripts of FBI interviews and recordings (and sometimes simultaneously depicted on-screen), Reality is set over the course of approximately two hours on June 3, 2017, at the small, one-level brick home of National Security Agency translator Reality Winner (Sweeney) in a not-very-nice section of Augusta, Georgia.Arriving at the house with groceries in tow, Winner is greeted by Wally (Marchánt Davis) and Justin (Josh Hamilton). They’re both FBI agents, and they have a warrant to search Winner’s residence, her car, and her person—including her phone, which they request while still on the front lawn. Wearing, respectively, a short-sleeved checkerboard button-down (Justin) and an Under Armor polo shirt (Wallace) that are tucked into matching khaki pants, the men affect cheery casualness. Nonetheless, it’s clear from the get-go that this is not an informal meeting.Read more at The Daily Beast.

Gerard Butler Keeps Making the Most Gerard Butler-iest of Movies. Thank God.

Photo by Open Road FilmsGerard Butler isn’t just a meat-and-potatoes action star. He’s a cup of coffee, black and no sugar. He’s a rare T-bone—hold the sauce and the sides. Hell, he’s a cigarette and a shot of whisky (with a beer chaser) the morning after a long night of drinking. When it comes to rugged, thick-skinned, no-nonsense, back-to-basics ass-kicking, he’s your man of few words and many, many kills.Butler is the king of modern Hollywood programmers, an A-lister who fits perfectly into frills-free genre pictures, and Kandahar (in theaters May 26) is another entry in his unabashedly gung-ho oeuvre. With a title that’s as simple—if not nearly as funny—as his prior Plane, Butler’s latest reteams him with his Angel Has Fallen and Greenland director Ric Roman Waugh for a saga that’s more than faintly reminiscent of Guy Ritchie’s recent Jake Gyllenhaal war film The Covenant. What he delivers is precisely what fans are likely looking for, albeit in a package that’s more politically muddled than is necessary.Tom Harris (Gerard Butler) is an MI6 “lifer” who’s currently working on loan for the CIA, who have him undercover in Qom, Iran, as a telephone repairman so he can install a device in a junction box that’ll allow the agency to corrupt the country’s nuclear reactor systems. When Tom’s toil results in a covert facility going kaboom, he readies himself for a trip back home to an ex-wife who isn’t interested in reconciling and a teenage daughter (Olivia-Mai Barrett) who expects him to attend her graduation.Read more at The Daily Beast.