CHALLENGERS: Love from the Tennis Movie Playbook – Jennifer Green comments

The final climactic scenes of Luca Guadagnino’s new film Challengers track an epic court battle between two professional tennis players, Art (Mike Faist) and Patrick (Josh O’Connor). The story follows them as childhood best friends coming up in the world of pro tennis whose relationship is complicated by their love for the same woman, frustrated tennis star Tashi (Zendaya). Their own obvious mutual attraction adds another level of homoerotic friction. You’d expect nothing less from the director of Call Me by My Name. But that doesn’t mean Challengers is entirely new as far as tennis movies go. In fact, the film pulls quite a few ideas from the existing tennis movie playbook.

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CHALLENGERS – Review by T. J. Callahan

Director Luca Guadagnino, known for his wildly emotional, erotic and shocking films, has gone full soap opera as he serves up a tennis “love” triangle drama of the most steamy proportions with Challengers. Zendaya stars as Tashi, a teen tennis phenom. After suffering a career ending injury she turns to coaching her husband, a well known tennis champ on a losing streak. Tashi enters Art in a low level Challenger tournament to boost his confidence — until he finds himself in the finals pitted against his former best friend and Tashi’s former boyfriend.

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CHALLENGERS – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

Early in Challengers, Zendaya as a young tennis prodigy leans back on a motel bed, watching a situation unfold. Her smirk is both amused and aroused, turned on by her power more than her company. Director Luca Guadagnino’s hot and heavy sports drama pumps up the sensuality, with sweaty closeups of eyes, glistening torsos, and plenty of grunting—and that’s just on the tennis court. What the film mostly explores is a menage-a-trois—not the one hyped in the trailers but the complicated relationship of three competitive people who can’t stay out of each other’s business. Challengers offers a messy contest of wills and connections with a lot to unpack.

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DUNE: PART TWO – Review by Susan Granger

Denis Villeneuve’s mythic sci-fi sequel Dune: Part Two has already grossed $500 million globally, making it the highest-grossing film of 2024 – domestic and worldwide – surpassing the first film, released back in 2021. Based on Frank Herbert’s anti-imperial, ecologically dystopian Dune saga, it revolves around Paul (Timothee Chalamet), heir to the House of Atreides, wiped out in Part One under the fascist aegis of grotesque, genocidal Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgard). As with any franchise, seeing the first installment is vital to understanding the second. Written by Villeneuve and Jon Spaihts with an emphasis on action – as opposed to exposition and character-development – this shallow, self-important sequel runs 2 hours, 46 minutes, dominated by Grieg Fraser’s spectacular cinematography and Hans Zimmer’s propulsive score.

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DUNE: PART TWO – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

“Power over Spice is power over all,” a voice intones before the film even begins, which is about as much backstory as Dune: Part Two allows, The script by Villeneuve and returning co-writer Jon Spaihts picks up largely where the 2021 film left off—and ends on an ambivalent note, even after two hours and 46 minutes. Thankfully, while the earlier film handled a lot of table setting, this one dives right into the action, unfurling at a brisk pace. While the ending implies plenty more story to tell, Dune: Part Two for now crafts an immersive sci-fi adventure.

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DUNE: Part Two – Review by T. J. Callahan

This sprawling, blockbuster was green lit for a sequel seconds after Part One hit the big screen in 2021. The sci-fi romantic adventure of warring families is The Ten Commandments meets Star Wars. Timothee Chalamet is the Moses of Arrakis riding sand worms in pursuit of a better life for his chosen people. Dune: Part Two is why we go to the movies. Read up on the legend beforehand, especially if you haven’t seen Part One, settle in with some popcorn and marvel at what masterful filmmaking is all about.

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DUNE: Part Two – Review by Susan Kamyab

The second installment picks up where it left off with Paul uniting with Chani and the Fremen to seek revenge against the conspirators who destroyed his family. Director and co-writer, Denis Villeneuve properly brings this science fiction novel to life. Beginning with the mesmerizing world he’s created. Desert sand has never looked this attractive; swirling through the winds and fight sequences, paired with a roaring soundtrack that will make you truly feel as if you are in the movie. The set is immersive and the work, especially the cinematography by Greig Fraser, that has gone into this imaginative society is engaging without any dialogue or action.

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WEEK IN WOMEN: Zendaya to receive CinemaCon Star of the Year Award – Brandy McDonnell reports

Movie star and two-time Primetime Emmy Award winner Zendaya will receive this year’s CinemaCon Star of the Year Award. CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners, will take place April 24-27, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Zendaya will be presented the special honor at the Big Screen Achievement Awards ceremony taking place on April 27 at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace.

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SPIDERMAN: NO WAY HOME – Review by Susan Granger

Spidey swings again! The new sequel Spiderman: No Way Home topped $600 million, becoming the biggest hit in Sony Pictures history and ranking as one of the 10 top-grossing domestic hits of all time. In this third go-round as the teenage web-slinger, Tom Holland’s likable Peter Parker loses his anonymity when malevolent muckraker J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons) reveals his identity as a Queens, New York, high school student.

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SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME – Review by Lauren Anderson

In No Way Home, Tom Holland’s Peter Parker finds himself in a world where everyone knows his name and believes he murdered Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio. To try and right his wrongs and give the people he loves a second go at life, Peter connects with Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) in the hopes of turning back time. In doing so, everyone Peter knows and loves will lose memory of who he is, but Peter’s willing to make that sacrifice. After a botched time-turning spell, there’s a glitch in the multiverse, setting us up for one of the most engaging Spider-Man movies to date.

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