He SAID: Magnificent Fun

Scott F. Evans

Did The Magnificent Seven need a remake? No. John Sturges’ western from 1960 – itself a reimagining of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai – is a classic that still stands the test of time. Featuring such talents as Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, and Charles Bronson, there’s little a modern version can say or do that would ever unseat that version. But director Antoine Fuqua and film lead Denzel Washington gave it a shot, and actually turned in an enjoyable early Fall popcorn flick.

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While it’s not a strict remake, the basic premise remains the same: A small team of gunmen (Samurai in the original) are hired to protect a defenseless town from invading bandits. Fuqua and screenwriters Richard Wenk and Nic Pizzolatto also set their story in the old west (which also makes this feel like an unnecessary remake). Fuqua makes the wise decision to cast a multi-ethnic Seven and makes the villain a wealthy industrialist and his small army of hired goons.

One of Fuqua’s strengths as a director is that he always knows exactly what kind of film he’s making. The Magnificent Seven won’t reinvent cinema. It’s not a deconstruction of the genre and it’s not a tongue-in-cheek parody. It’s a rollicking, fast-paced adventure that pushes all the right buttons. He wanted to make a good, slightly old-fashioned Western and he succeeds. Fuqua doesn’t seek to dazzle with intricate camerawork and the script is just as straightforward. Still, the creators didn’t phone it in. Fuqua knows how to stage an action scene, and Wenk and Pizzolatto weaved a pretty decent yarn. This is a good film, that’s not especially interested in reinventing the wheel.

Like the original, the cast turns in solid work. There are no career highs in this movie, but everyone delivers fine performances. This is Washington’s third time working with Fuqua. As always, he gives a master class in naturalistic acting. He’s on screen for most of the film’s run-time and there’s not a phony moment on display. Chris Pratt brings his trademark charm in a role almost tailor made for his abilities. He leans a little too heavily into his shtick on occasion, but the film’s pacing is brisk enough that we’re not distracted. Vincent D’Onofrio nearly takes it over the top with some interesting character choices, but he’s offset by Washington’s more taciturn presence. Ethan Hawke, Byung-hung Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rolfo, and Martin Sensmeier round out the Seven. All play their parts admirably.

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The Magnificent Seven is a first rate piece of escapist fare. It won’t insult your intelligence, but won’t vex you with cinematic pretensions either. It’s designed to be enjoyed for a couple hours and fade from memory as the week progresses. It’s worth a watch on the big screen.

RATING: Theater

She SAID: Fall Foundation

Shahada Karim

Seasons change, and so do our skin’s needs. That’s true with skin care, and that’s certainly true with makeup. We continue the trend of clean polished skin (versus heavily contoured or powdered finishes) as we head into the cooler months and carry through to Holiday 2016.

If you’re not worried about your actual skin showing through, MAC Face & Body continues to rule the roost with the most natural finish for a sheer foundation. The formula binds to the skin and stays put until you take it off. It’s also compatible with a wide range of skin types, from oily to dry and even mature. Even the newest offering from Make Up For Ever doesn’t hold a candle to this tried and true formulation. The packaging isn’t fussy or fabulous (it was originally designed with pros in mind) but the formulation definitely gets the job done.

Elcie Micro Silque Foundation stands firm for one of the best ‘skin’ like finishes with medium to full coverage. Applied with fingers or the highly favored BeautyBlender, the finish is both posh and polished, and has become a cult favorite among both professional makeup artists and consumers in search of a strong foundation off the beaten makeup path.

Chantecaille Future Skin is another tried and true formula that has yet to let us down. The oil-free gel formula has enough coverage to address issues like acne and hyper-pigmentation, and is also friendly to a wide range of skin types. The shade range is also impressive, with distinct neutral and yellow undertones. The only complaint about this foundation is the packaging. It comes in a pot, with no consideration for sanitation or general handling. The formula is dense, but pliant enough to be dispensed through a pump or even a tube.

Chantecaille, consider this a firm suggestion.

He SAID: Fall TV Must Watch

Christopher M. Enis

*takes deep breath and does happy dance*

The Fall TV Season is like New Car Smell, Puppies, and a hug from Mom (okay, hugs from Mom are on a different level, please don’t tell her I downgraded them) all mashed into one!

There are 120+ new and returning TV series this year, which mean a whole lot of shi… err.. filler to get through to get to the good stuff. It’s a tough job, but I’m more than happy to do it. These shows top my ‘must watch’ list for the coming season:

  • Designated Survivor (ABC) Premieres: Wednesday, Sep. 21 at 10:00 PM—Kiefer Sutherland is, once again, asked to put the Free World on his back and save us all. But, he won’t be sleep deprived with a license to kill (and never once charging his cell phone) as he was on 24. This time, Sutherland is a cabinet member who becomes the President of the United States after everyone ahead of him is taken out.  Maggie Q, Kal Penn and Natascha McElhone co-star.
  • Conviction (ABC) Premieres: Monday, Oct. 3 at 10:00 PM—Hayes Morrison is a former First Daughter with more than a few… let’s call them ‘issues.’ She manages to get herself blackmailed by the New York District Attorney, and has to work for him in something called the ‘Conviction Integrity Unit.’ I normally wouldn’t care about this kind of show, but Hayley Atwell (she of the gone-too-soon Agent Carter) is in it so… yeah. The show also stars Shawn Ashmore, Merrin Dungey and Emily Kinney.
  • Riverdale (CW) Midseason—Archie, Betty, Veronica, and the gang find out that take on the zombie apocalypse. No, really. Well… sort of. This subversive interpretation of the classic comic characters comes to the small screen courtesy of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa . It’s the latest in a long line of comic book interpretations on the CW, so here’s hoping it makes its mark in the world of unbelievable make-believe.
  • Shots Fired (FOX) Midseason—An all-star cast (Sanaa Lathan, Stephen Moyer, Helen Hunt, Richard Dreyfuss, Stephan James, Aisha Hinds, Tristan Wilds) come together for a limited series about an investigator (Latham) and special prosecutor (James) for the Department Of Justice, to journey a small Tennessee town in the aftermath of possibly racially motivated police shootings.
  • This Is Us (NBC) Premieres: Tuesday, Sep. 20 at 10:00 PM—yes, we were bombarded with the preview of this show non-stop during the Summer Olympics, yet I am still optimistic about This Is Us. I have a feeling that NBC has found a worthy successor to the ensemble void left when Parenthood ended its 6 season run in 2015. This show features a group of people who all share the same birthday, who lives intertwine. Hmm, that sounds more supernatural but I’m still down.

 

She SAID: Giving Beauty

An increasing number of beauty consumers want to do more than just look good; they also want to ‘feel good’ about what they’re wearing. Companies are taking note with contributions and a conscious message to make the world a little better, one product at a time.

Heroes Beauty wants add a little color to the world and improve the lives of veterans at the same time. The startup brand proudly donates 5% of annual profits to charities that specialize in veteran outreach.

Green People goes even further. The company, which specializes in organic skin and hair care, donates 10% of the company’s net profit to Marine Conservation Society, Penny Brohn Cancer Care, and Chestnut Tree House.

Chantecaille continues its tradition of highlighting environmental organizations and charities. This year, the limited edition ‘Lion Collection’ highlights the majestic beauty of the big cats… and raises awareness for The Lion Guardians. The conservation group is based in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park