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Film Review: Mila Kunis In Netflix’s ‘Luckiest Girl Alive’

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Following along in the not-too-distant footsteps of popular women’s suspense novels such as Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, Luckiest Girl Alive tells the tony yet unsavory tale of a successful career woman who struggles to once and for all come to terms with a highly traumatic youthful episode. The emotions expressed here are nearly all negative, understandably so given the dreadful backstory that eventually comes to the fore. What’s more, the characters, most of all the leading lady, hardly represent the best of company. But what it’s ultimately getting at in the final scenes does provide some tough emotional reality and self-searching in a what-might-you-have-done-in-the-same-situation sort of way, which is at least a bit more than what other tales of this ilk provide.

Jessica Knoll’s 2015 novel, her second, takes place many floors beneath those occupied by the likes of Succession, but it’s roughly the same Manhattan neighborhood, at least attitude-wise. The imaginatively named Tifani FaNelli (Mila Kunis) is a sleek mid-30ish woman who, at the outset, is poised to leave her newspaper gossip-column job for a treasured position as the senior editor of The New York Times Magazine. She’s also due to marry a real catch the in the Adonis-like Luke Harrison (Finn Wittrock). What could go wrong with this picture?

As often happens, it’s something from out of the past. Assorted flashback snippets throughout the rather long-feeling two-hour running time reveal that a very nasty incident took place once upon a time in a private boarding school that Tifani (where did they come up with that spelling?) at the time participated in covering up. Even though the crime resulted in death, Tifani never told the full story and managed to wiggle out of it all unscathed, legally if not emotionally.

But now the long arm of the law — or at least of the gossips — is threatening to upset her perfect life just as she’s due to elevate in all ways, professionally and personally. Knoll adapted the novel for the screen herself, and the script is heavily front-loaded with exposition in which peripheral figures tell the more important characters things they already know: “You’re a survivor of the deadliest school shooting in history!” someone notifies an actual could-have-been victim, as if she might have forgotten. But we soon see flashback footage of the intimate massacre that left multiple students dead, and much of what follows hinges on how much journalist Tifani decides she does or doesn’t want to reveal about everything that really happened something like 20 years earlier.

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“The past is never dead,” someone helpfully mentions, and it’s clear from Tifani’s neuroses that she’s still greatly troubled by what she experienced way back when. As played by Kunis, Tifani comes off as almost permanently tense and tightly wound, and it’s somewhat disconcerting how very different Chiara Aurelia, the actress who plays Tifani in her teens, looks compared with the older actress.

Tifani does have every reason to feel uptight, but Kunis’ performance remains in clenched mode most of the way, with very little modulation or character revelation, which prevents this smart and accomplished woman from showing a very wide range of colors and emotions. Her anguished dilemma notwithstanding, it’s not all that easy to really become attached to her, and the script would have been helped by a scene or two of Tifani and her soon-to-be husband displaying some real intimacy that might have provided a greater rooting interest in their relationship.

British director Mike Barker — whose many TV credits including The Handmaid’s Tale, Fargo and Broadchurch outclass his big-screen efforts to date — keeps this moving swiftly and coherently, which allows the young characters’ behavior under shocking duress seem plausible. The long-term issue is whether they can live with their terrible secrets their entire lives or finally spill the beans, come what may.

Luckiest Girl Alive was written with adherence to a particular popular formula to reach a particular audience of mostly young women, but it does carry sufficient elements of “What would you have done under the same circumstances?” that lend it a degree of credibility. As formulaic as it is, the story nonetheless confronts the persistence of guilt over past questionable behavior and how people struggle to deal with it, even long after the fact.



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Netflix & Paramount+ To Profile ‘Strip Search Caller’ ; TVOKids Spotlights Down Syndrome With Toon Series; ‘One Piece Film Red’ London Takeover — Global Briefs

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Netflix & Paramount+ UK To Profile ‘Strip Search Caller’

Netflix and Paramount+ have struck a first of its kind-of-deal over a true crime documentary telling the story of the strip search caller in the U.S. Paramount+ has taken UK rights to Pervert: The Hunt for the Strip Search Caller and Netflix has rest of world on the doc, which it will be calling Don’t Pick Up the Phone. The deal is believed to be the first time two streamers have worked in such a way in the UK and rest of world. The doc tells the shocking story of a hoax caller who targeted fast food restaurants across the U.S. – posing as a police officer investigating a theft, the caller instructed managers to strip-search the young female employees he said were suspects. For many victims, what began as a humiliating strip search escalated into sexual abuse.

Canada’s TVOKids Spotlights Down Syndrome In Animated Series ‘Griffin And Turner’

EXCLUSIVE: Ontario, Canada’s TVOkids and Big Jump Entertainment are working on 2D-animated series Griffin and Turner. Based on real Canadian brothers who a significant online following, the show follows the supportive pair as they, their friends and family undertake personal challenges but focus on the journey rather than winning. Turner has Down syndrome, and TVOKids executive producer Kirsten Hurd noted the series has been developed in consultation with the Down syndrome community. Producer Big Jump is behind shows such as Shutterbug and Big Words, Small Stories.

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London Gets ‘One Piece Film Red’ Takeover After Record Haul

To celebrate the record-breaking haul of One Piece Film Red in the UK, the Straw Hat Pirates are set for a takeover of iconic London locations on November 26. Via local distributor Anime Limited and Toei Animation, the cast and memorable scenes from the series will be projected onto the County Hall of London, opposite the London Eye as well as other key locations. One Piece Film: Red has grossed over £800,000 in the UK and Ireland since it released earlier this month, making it the biggest of the long-running franchise. A phenomenon in Japan, One Piece Film Red has grossed $162M to date worldwide 



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‘All Quiet On The Western Front’, ‘Belfast’ Top 2022 EFA Arts & Crafts Awards

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Edward Berger’s All Quiet On The Western Front and Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast top the European Film Academy’s Excellence Awards honoring achievement in the arts and crafts categories, the winners of which were announced on Wednesday.

Belfast won best European Production Design for Jim Clay, whose credits include Children Of Men, for which he won a Bafta in 2006, and Murder On The Orient Express.

The drama, set against the backdrop of the beginnings of “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland in 1969, also won best European Costume Design for Charlotte Walter (Blithe Spirit, Misbehaviour)

Netflix-backed German WWI drama All Quiet On The Western Front won best European Make-up & Hair for Heike Merker, and Best European Special Effects for Frank Petzold, Viktor Müller and Markus Frank.

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 In other categories, best European Cinematography was won by Kate McCullough for her work on Colm Bairéad’s Irish-language drama The Quiet Girl.

Best European Editing went to Özcan Vardar and Eytan İpeker for Turkish director Emin Alper’s drama Burning Days.

Polish composer Paweł Mykietyn won best European Original Score went for Jerzy Skolimowski’s EO.

Best European Sound went to Simone Paolo Olivero, Paolo Benvenuti, Benni Atria, Marco Saitta, Ansgar Frerich & Florian Holzner for Michelangelo Frammartino’s cave exploration drama The Hole.

The winners, which are decided by a special expert jury, will receive their awards at the European Film Awards ceremony on 10 December in Reykjavík.

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Jennifer Lopez’s Social Media Mysteriously Goes Dark

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EXCLUSIVE: The actress, producer and top-selling performing artist’s social media channels including Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok and Twitter have suddenly gone dark in their featured/cover images.

Reps for Jennifer Lopez were unavailable for comment, but we hear from others that The Hustlers and Marry Me actress is on the verge of announcing a new project.

Here’s a look at her Instagram tonight:

While Lopez’s Instagram had erased all posts, a trail of her previous postings remained on Facebook, Tik Tok and Twitter. Across all four social media portals, Lopez counts close to 347M followers, the majority of that coming from her Instagram.

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Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions in June 2021 signed a multi-year first-look deal with Netflix spanning feature films, TV series and unscripted content, with an emphasis on projects that support diverse female actors, writers and filmmakers. Lopez co-runs Nuyorican Productions with her producing partner Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas.

Lopez scored her best opening for a live-action movie at the domestic box office with STX’s 2019 stripper caper Hustlers which debuted to $33.1 million, and grossed $105M stateside, $157.6M worldwide.  As a recording artist, Lopez has sold over 70 million albums, with J.Lo became her bestselling album with 3.8M copies sold in the U.S. and 12M global. Her Netflix thriller The Mother from director Niki Caro is set to debut in May. Her romantic comedy Shotgun Wedding with Josh Duhamel will hit Prime Video on Jan. 27.

On Facebook, one of her followers, Steffany Merino wrote, “What’s happened? Hope you and your wonderful family are ok. I’ll pray for your health and safety.”

Again, we hear something special is in the works in the next few days.



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