BOX OFFICE BREAKDOWN | What’s coming to theaters this weekend?

Tears, overcoming fears, and excited cheers can all be found at your local cinema this weekend.

In Popdust‘s new column, Box Office Breakdown, we aim to inform you of the top flicks to check out every weekend depending on what you’re in the mood to enjoy. Looking to laugh? What about have your pants scared off? Maybe just need a little love? Whatever the case may be, we have it.

Take a peek at our top picks for this week…


Netflix continues to stride into the world of big screen releases with their latest flick, which might be the best yet of those that have followed this similar trajectory. Although a war that is less broadly discussed in regards to race relations, World War II was no stranger to the issues that skin color caused when all citizens were meant to be fighting the same battle. The film examines the very different experiences for two different families (one black, one white) living in the same part of the Mississippi Delta but experiencing entirely different lifestyles. The same day it’s out in select theatres it will also be available to stream from your favorite watching device, but the whole purpose of this column is to encourage to go out and experience cinema the way it was intended: from a wide screen perspective.

R | Running Time 2hr 14m | Netflix | Director: Dee Rees | Starring: Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Mary J. Blige, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell, and more! | Purchase Tickets for MudboundMudbound

Song of Granite

Get a look at one of the films in competition for the best foreign language film at the 2018 Academy Awards, and don’t be too surprised that’s it’s coming from Ireland. The film explores the life of folk singer Joe Heaney in an exploration of solemn, sadness, and what it takes to make music that speaks to the soul. For a musical biopic, this film takes itself incredibly seriously, and you should, too. Don’t shy away from this one because you don’t know Heaney, or because of its foreign language label, or because it also happens to be in black and white. Sometimes, a little culture is a very good thing. Besides, there is a great deal of truth in the statement that music really can permeate through all barriers. The songs in this film accomplish just that. While you should definitely be prepared to endure some roaming and deep thinking, you’ll also be pleasantly surprised.

NR | Running Time 1hr 38m | Oscilloscope | Director: Pat Collins | Starring: Michael O’Chonfhlaola, Macdara Ó Fátharta | Purchase Tickets for Song of GraniteSong of Granite

Justice League

A bunch of your favorite super heroes are coming together and working to restore order to the world in the midst of Superman’s death. Get ready for some twists, turns, and a whole lot of action because there is also a new, more powerful enemy threatening the safety of citizens. Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) is inspired by Superman and seeks out help from a new friend, Diana Prince (Gal Gadot). Yes, indeed, Wonder Woman is back on your big screens for everyone to get excited about. Joined by a team of other metahumans to take on the challenge of trying to save the planet, these guys will try to do their best without the work of Clark Kent. Expect the usual gambit from a superhero flick, but be happy we’re being more inclusive all around in casting and by including a female in the bunch who does more than need to be rescued. For extra thrills, see it in 3D.

PG-13 | Running Time 2hr 1m | Warner Bros | Director: Zack Snyder | Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, J.K. Simmons, Ciarán Hinds | Purchase Tickets for Justice League

Almost Friends

A little indie romance coming out of nowhere to box offices after making the film festival circuit route in 2016 is asking the questions of how we get together and when we start thinking ourselves as having it together. Charlie (Freddie Highmore) doesn’t seem to know the answers to either, being an incredibly gifted cook but working at a movie theatre, and totally awkward around the only girl he’s even found an interest in. Not a heck of a lot else is available regarding the film, but it’s the second indie role Israeli actress Odeya Rush is taking on after a spectacular time in Lady Bird earlier this season. Admittedly, we probably know where this plot is going to take us as we see Charlie awkwardly stumble and Amber (Rush) find it more and more endearing, but we don’t all head to the cinema for art. Sometimes we just need to take our minds off the unpredictability of the world.

PG-13 | Running Time 1hr 45m | Gravitas Ventures | Director: Jake Goldberger | Starring: Freddie Highmore, Odeya Rush, Haley Joel Osment, Jake Abel, Rita Volk, Taylor John Smith, Christopher Meloni, and Marg Helgenberger | Purchase Tickets for Almost FriendsAlmost Friends

And our ⭐️ TOP PICK ⭐️ …


The heartwarming story we could all use right about now comes in a tale about family, love, and why it’s so important to be true to who you uniquely are! Based on the bestselling novel by R.J. Palacio, the film follows August Pullman (Jacob Tremblay), a fifth grader who has never been to mainstream school due to his facial deformities. While he’s at first nervous about how he will be received by the other students (and admittedly does have some bumps in the road), Auggie’s strength and bravery makes him just the kind of person to bring everyone together. A shiny ensemble cast and a director who’s already known to make us tear up about stories starring people who are special and different makes this a win in my book. Bring your tissues, bring your friends, and feel good about some messages that we’re putting out in the world for once.

PG | Running Time 1hr 53m | Lionsgate | Director: Stephen Chbosky | Starring: Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Jacob Tremblay, Mandy Patinkin, Daveed Diggs, and Izabela Vidovic | Purchase Tickets for Wonder

Really like a film you see or know of one coming soon that we should check out? Shoot me an email and let me know!

Rachel A.G. Gilman is a writer, a radio producer, and probably the girl wearing the Kinks shirt. Visit her website for more.

PREMIERE | ​Marisa Maino’s new single is “Hot”

“No one ever wants to admit if the new girl is awesome.”

Indie pop artist Marisa Maino premieres her brand new single with us at Popdust today and the title says it all- it’s hot. Marisa told us that the inspiration came from the realization of how much girl hate exists out there. “How many girl’s nights have happened where a group of girl’s get together to drink wine and trash talk the ex’s new girl… But no one ever wants to admit if the new girl is awesome,” she says. It’s easy to fall into that trap and throw shade because you’re hurt, but what would the world be like if we took Marisa’s perspective on the topic. The song is equally sad and humorous. You know the feeling, you find out through the grapevine that your ex has moved on and you creep onto his Instagram page late at night alone to find out that his new girlfriend is smoking… and looks nice too. Marisa takes an interesting perspective here deciding that her ex is the problem and wonders what this new girl sees in him.

Stylistically this is giving me updated Avril Lavigne vibes especially in the bridge. Turns out it’s no coincidence. “I was talking with Jordan Sapp, one of my producers, about how how we missed the early 2000’s pop music. There isn’t enough of it! I knew I wanted to get back to that and thought I could start to bring it back with my music. A few weeks later, I heard Hot and immediately knew that was the song I wanted to cut. After taking it to Jordan, we discussed our vision for the song and built the production around it. Before I knew it, the single was born!” says Marisa inspired by the music of the early 2000’s. She thinks others miss the nostalgic feeling this kind of music evokes too and I’m right there with her. I long for the days that “A Thousand Miles,” ruled the radio sometimes. In addition to the nostalgia, the song ultimately is about letting go. She says, “I feel like this song has a message that I want to always stand for…learn to let things go and move on.” She knows that as much as you want to hate your ex’s new girl “sometimes you just can’t” and you may as well move on.

Marisa Maino is a former ballerina, actress, and avid multi-tasker. She says that songwriting is the only time she can slow down her mind and focus on one thing. In that way it is sacred to her and she feels that she’s truly honed in on what she’s meant to do after trying just about every art form. When an injury stalled her dance career, she moved to LA to pursue acting, when she grew frustrated with the one track mindedness of some casting directors, she decided to audition for the X Factor. One thing led to the other and she landed in Nashville with an exciting music career on the brink. She says, “”I’m really inspired by those who do music becausethey love it – and not because they just want to be famous. There’s so much that we can do with music in the arts. Society is trying to grow in this but I sometimes feel like it doesn’t grow fast enough. Music has taught me so much. Listening to interviews with celebrities has taught me about living life and that’s not what you learn in the classroom. That’s something I’d love to give back.”

Love Marisa? Follow her on Instagram | Twitter

Anie Delgado is a contributor to Popdust and is an actress and musician based in NYC. Follow her on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter and check out her music on Spotify.

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Seeing double?

You’re not crazy. This incredibly talented duo are brothers, originally from Maine, that have been making strides in the indie rock scene lately. Their recently released song “Three Thirty” has boasted over 15,000,000 listens thanks to being included on multiple playlists. Their most recent single “Your Favorite Song” is not far behind at 94,000+ streams on Spotify. After hearing them live and listening to their tracks I can tell you this is a testament of the unique qualities and intimacy of their music. There is a very human, visceral feeling to each of their songs. I feel like each tune evokes something really different from listeners but taps into the same level of depth. They strike below the surface.

Their song “Three Thirty” taps into that late night feel when you know you should be sleeping but something is keeping you up. The song recounts several vivid, sweet memories contrasted by the melancholy vibes of the striking lyric “I know that everything changes and people move on. “Your Favorite Song” is lighter but just as reflective and somber. Eighty Ninety’s strength seems to lie in recounting vivid memories in a cinematic tone. As a cinephile, I’m 100% here for it.

Listen to “Three Thirty” and “Your Favorite Song” here.

The first thing I wanted to know when I sat down with Eighty Ninety was what pedals they use to create all of those textures that they have in their music. Harper (guitar/production) raved about his Chase Guy Reverb peddle that’s ultimately his favorite pedal. Abner (vocals/production) played a Korg for us live but noted that he normally uses a Juno in the studio. The brothers grew up playing music together but didn’t do so purposefully until Abner came back to the east coast and joined Harper in NYC after college. Harper and Abner grew up with Beatles music thanks to their mom being a “Beatles freak,” and Tom Petty who is Abner’s biggest inspiration. Harper was into more experimental groups like Pavement and Sparkle Pony. The two brought their inspirations together along with their unique talents to create Eighty Ninety as we know it. Abner told us that ironically, when he moved to the West coast for school, was the first time that they started to collaborate on songwriting by sending ideas back and forth. They never thought about working together seriously and treated their collaborations as a pass time. The band itself was born out of one jam session that yielded an amazing song and the rest is history.

Harper told me that though they don’t have brother telepathy, they definitely grew up with the same terminology and lingo for music and that definitely helps them get ahead in terms of collaborating. This isn’t the only way their childhood has been affected their work. Growing up in Maine, they joked that they never wanted to leave the house in the winter, so that naturally led to more practice time. Abner added that a lot of their radio channels in Maine and where they can consume music was outdated and it affected their musical interests. Both NYC transplants, they’ve been here for a while and love NYC because though it’s stressful, you find your tribe which is the best feeling as an artist.

Eighty Ninety have a music video for “Your Favorite Song” coming soon and more releases next year. Watch their full Popdust Presents Session here.

Follow them on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

Anie Delgado is a contributor to Popdust and is an actress and musician based in NYC. Follow her on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter and check out her music on Spotify.

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LAPD Investigation of the Ed Westwick Rape Accusations Continues

Ed Westwick, who you might remember from 2000s teen drama Gossip Girl, continues to be investigated by the LAPD after two victims stepped forward with confessions that Westwick sexually assaulted them.

Last week, actress Kristina Cohen published a
Facebook post detailing how Ed Westwick raped her three years ago. Cohen, 27, said she met Westwick, 30, at the actor’s house through her boyfriend (who goes unnamed in the post). Westwick allegedly suggested that they “should all fuck”, making Cohen uncomfortable as she retired to the guest room for a nap to allow her boyfriend to smooth things over. “So I went and laid down in the guest room where I eventually fell asleep, I was woken up abruptly by Ed on top of me, his fingers entering my body. I told him to stop, but he was strong,” Cohen wrote. “I fought him off as hard as I could but he grabbed my face in his hands, shaking me, telling me he wanted to fuck me. I was paralyzed, terrified. I couldn’t speak, I could no longer move. He held me down and raped me.”

Actress Kristina Cohen accused Ed Westwick of raping her 3 years ago. (AsiaOne)

Cohen’s words are heartbreaking to read, as we are reminded of the torment and shame victims undergo while their abusers roam free (and, in Westwick’s case, continue to be cast in C-list films). “It was a nightmare, and the days following weren’t any better,” she stated, revealing that her boyfriend did not believe her – and even went as far as to blame her for it. After Cohen’s confession came to light, Westwick offered a half-baked statement on his Twitter almost immediately. “I do not know this woman. I have never forced myself in any manner, on any woman. I certainly have never committed rape,” he
wrote. It is one thing to deny an accusation, but to deny to know the person at hand is entirely another. This prompted an immediate investigation by the LAPD, who have not responded to requests for comments.

Aurelie Wynn, second woman to come forward. (The Sun)

A second woman’s story came to light last Thursday. Aurelie Wynn wrote on
Facebook that the actor sexually assaulted her in July 2014. “… Like Kristina, I said no and he pushed me face down and was powerless under his weight. I was wearing a one piece bathing suit that he ripped, I was in complete shock, I am also very tiny. When it was over I got my cellphone and found that the girl that had invited me had left or got kicked out,” she wrote. “And so I kept quiet and soon got to see and hear how prevalent sexual assault and intimidation goes on in this industry…to the point where I questioned how much I really wanted to be in entertainment as I didn’t see it getting better. And at what cost? I’ve since moved on from acting and wanted just to reenforce Kristin Cohen‘s claim as I believe them to be true.”

This now looks creepy! (The Daily Caller)

Westwick continues to deny the allegations, offering a second statement on his Instagram. “It is disheartening and sad to me that as a result of two unverified and provably untrue social media claims, there are some in this environment who could ever conclude I have had anything to do with such vile and horrific conduct,” he wrote.

As Hollywood continues to double down on abusers, we’re standing by to see justice bring those who commit sexual assault to light. The Gossip Girl actor continues to be investigated by the LAPD, but in the meantime, he can take a seat with Harvey Weinstein and Louis C.K. and start looking for some customer service jobs.

Vanessa is a music and culture writer. Follow her on twitter.

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THE OPTION | Rocket League and the Future of E-sports

In the beginning, video game glory was simple.

You practiced Pac-Man or Dig Dug until you claimed the high score at your favorite bar or arcade. Your competitors were a long list of three-character names like DAN or JON, or ASS. The records were mercurial, only existing within the hard drives of physical machines and always subject to the dreaded reset button. 40 years later, the E-sports industry is worth about $700 million, and some are estimating that its value could increase to $1.5 billion by 2020.

For the uninitiated, E-sports is a complex field, defined by an ever-expanding list of games and genres. For ease of description though, it can be broken up into four major categories: Strategy Games (both real-time and action-real-time), sports games, first-person-shooters, and fighting games. Strategy games such as DOTA, League of Legends and Starcraft, pull the biggest prize pools in all of E-sports, with some tournament winners netting as much as $10 million. Shooters, such as Halo and Call of Duty have the next biggest prize pools and have garnered the most mainstream popularity in American markets. Fighting games, once the pinnacle of competitive gaming have fallen off in recent years. That being said, the winner of The Mortal Combat Finals still nets around $200,000 in prize money. These three types of games, while constantly evolving graphically, haven’t really evolved much in terms of basic game mechanics since the early aughts. Sports games on the other hand, are constantly changing.

While cultural mainstays like EA’s FIFA and Madden series, as well as 2K’s NBA series, have remained relatively stagnate, producing similar but slightly improved simulations each year, there is one game in particular that has drastically changed the dynamic of team-based E-sports: Rocket League. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Rocket League is a game in which players play soccer in a giant arena. The catch is, instead of controlling a person, players drive cars fitted with rocket thrusters, allowing them to fly through the air. If it sounds ridiculous, it’s because it is. Even with its absurd premise, soccer with flying cars, Rocket League has taken the world of gaming by storm over the past few years.

What’s interesting about the game, particularly in regard to its popularity, is that unlike most games released today, Rocket League has a huge learning curve. It’s such a difficult game that it can take new players several weeks of constant practice to learn how to effectively control their car. And it can take several months before they’re adept at flying. Predictably, this has produced some pretty strong opinions on the game. It seems that you either love the game, or despise it. There isn’t much middle ground. Other games take a ton of practice to become tournament ready. Rocket League takes a ton of practice to become competent.

Because it has no root in reality, Rocket League is a game that’s constantly evolving within itself. Players are routinely changing their playing styles and defensive schemes in a way that bear a startling resemblance to (for lack of a better word) real sports. In theory, the game is simple, just get the ball in the net. But the dynamic way in which players control every facet of their car’s movement, allows for constant innovation in a way that’s completely unprecedented in the world of video games. Obviously, all professional gamers have to practice and hone their skills, but there are few games in which the landscape changes so rapidly, especially without any backend input from the game’s designers. This is no mere simulation, the game has taken on a life of its own.

Another thing that differentiates Rocket League from other games, is that it’s one of the first true spectator E-sports. While plenty of professional gamers all across the world have Twitch streams and fanbases–the DOTA world championship is actually held in Key Arena in Seattle–Rocket League is easy to understand at a glance. Most other video game spectators are devout players of whatever game they’re tuning in to watch. Rocket League, partially due to its in-game live stream of professional matches, provides an ease of access for players of all skill levels, even casual players who aren’t particularly invested in Rocket League’s culture.

The world championship series, featuring top teams from the U.S., Europe and Oceania, just concluded this weekend with team Gale Force taking home the $55,000 grand prize. While the purse is relatively small compared to other gaming tournaments, the RLCS had a live viewership of about 200,000 people, showcasing the game’s rapidly growing popularity.

Rocket League designers, Psyonix, see the game, which is available on Xbox, PS4, and PC (via Steam), not as an individual game but as a platform within itself. Their goal, which would change the fabric of online gaming as we know it, is to create game that bridges the consoles and allows for cross-platform play. This idea, especially if other games were to follow suit, essentially makes the console wars that gamers know all too well, a moot conflict. Playing on a universal server, the choice between Xbox One and PS4 becomes one based on preference for one type of controller over another. With a growing fanbase, a brilliant system that allows for the natural development of different playing styles, and a easily understandable concept, Rocket League has made the divide between “real” sport and E-sport a whole lot smaller. Innovative games like this, which give players a unique amount of control over gameplay, seem to be the future of E-sports and quiet possibly the thing that (rocket) thrusts them into the mainstream.

POPDUST Picks | Week 10:

  • Pittsburgh over Tennessee
  • Detroit over Chicago
  • Baltimore over Green Bay
  • Arizona over Houston
  • Miami over Tampa
  • L.A. Rams over Minnesota
  • Kansas City over N.Y. Giants
  • New Orleans over Washington
  • Buffalo over L.A. Chargers
  • Denver over Cincinatti
  • Philadelphia over Dallas
  • Seattle over Atlanta

LOCK of the Week:

  • Jacksonville over Cleveland


  • Oakland over New England

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WTWD? | Questions on Season Eight of The Walking Dead: Episode 3

What The Walking Dead?

Is the ultimate battle the one being fought within? While all our heroes have their own personal demons they must face during the war, Daryl, Aaron, and Morgan are particularly tested in episode three. How will their internal conflicts affect their external conflicts with the Saviors as well as among themselves?

Daryl: A New Kind Of Fighter


While Daryl’s tough and guarded persona might indicate otherwise, he is one of the most emotionally complex characters on the show, and the way he expresses and copes with his emotions has fluctuated dramatically over the course of the series. Though we generally have seen Daryl tend to wear his heart on his sleeve in recent seasons, in episode three, Daryl seems to have built an emotional fortress around him. This impenetrable stoicism combined with his surprisingly brutal, Terminator-esque rampage leaves the viewer wondering what inner turmoil must be motivating his actions at this point in time. His callousness is shocking and even disturbing, but considering not only his recent traumas but also the traumas that stem all the way back to his childhood, viewers might begin to understand why Daryl has reached this ruthless point.

Being the victim of abuse and neglect in both his childhood and adulthood, he has been forced to fight since day one. He’s also had to learn how to fend for himself and do what is necessary to survive and cope with trauma, and he has had to learn how to do this largely on his own (it’s probably safe to say there was never any therapy going on for the Dixons). His recent experiences leading up to this all out war must be triggering a ferment of agonizing past memories and emotions within him. Whether it’s trauma caused by his father, his brother Merle, or countless other experiences, it has hardened and prepared him for what he needs to do and who he needs to be to fight Negan and make the “the world” right again. And, while Daryl has claimed that “he ain’t afraid of nothin’,” we are witnessing moments of fear previously unseen in him. When he runs out of bullets while fighting the Savior’s with Rick, we hear that fear in his voice. And, when
Daryl get’s scared, it might be time for everyone to begin panicking. How will this utterly calloused and vicious mode he has entered change Daryl? Are we watching a man on an uncompromising mission, or are we watching this hero give in to a darker side fueled by rage, fear, and trauma?

His actions in this episode are shocking, and they are rattling even to Rick, but are they ultimately justified? When he kills Morales, Rick reacts with horror while Daryl just simply could not be bothered by it. Rick seems to quickly realize that what Daryl did was necessary because it snapped Rick out of the emotional trap he was in with Morales and refocused him on their mission. When he kills the Savior whom Rick promised not to kill at the end of the episode, Daryl essentially makes a liar out of Rick but shooting him in the middle of surrendering. Rick is visibly conflicted and possibly a little repelled by what Daryl has done. But, they continue on. Perhaps Daryl’s unyielding and unapologetic determination balances out Rick’s tendency to be swayed by his ideas about justice. Maybe this symbiosis is essential, and, without the other, neither one’s tactics are as effective. Is Daryl’s inner conflict what will win the war but ultimately further damage himself? And, could that symbiosis devolve into a conflict between these deeply bonded characters? How will they progress together through tonight’s new episode?

Aaron: To Lose And To Gain


Aaron might be the only Alexandrian who has not experienced a profound personal loss similar to the ones Rick’s group has endured. He has remained strong, hopeful and with a smile throughout the darkest of times. He doesn’t seem the carry the heaviness with him that Rick, Daryl, and Morgan do, for example. We know nothing about his family, and the closest person to him in the world has been Eric whom has been his rock since the characters were introduced. Helplessly watching Eric die and then not being able to put him down once he has turned echoes Morgan’s fateful experience with his wife. For a character such as Aaron to finally lose something so dear to him is heartbreaking, and this loss could open a door to darkness for him.

While this traumatic loss could weaken Aaron with grief and anger, it could also contribute some much needed gravitas to this character and provide him with new wisdom and determination to win. Despite this personal tragedy, hope remains alive for him to come out of this experience not only intact but improved. Rick’s handing off of the baby to Aaron is overwhelmingly symbolic. Ross Marquand has referred to the baby as an anchor for him during this tumultuous emotional time and a reason to keep moving forward when the despair within him might be otherwise paralyzing. What will this catalyzing event bring to this character and to the war?

Morgan: The Mind Has Mountains


Morgan has been at philosophical battle with himself and has flirted with madness since the first episode of the series, but has he finally gone off of the deep end? So far, we’ve seen him enter ruthless killing modes similar to Daryl’s, except with Morgan, their is an obvious and dangerous confusion he’s also experiencing. He loses control of himself, experiencing irrational and violent episodes, some of which he doesn’t even remember having. Are his conflicting ideas, his mental disorientation, and his apparently uncontrollable behavior culminating into full blown madness? Is Morgan actually losing it for good?

Several times we have seen Morgan come back from some crazy periods in his character arc, so will he bounce back again? His mental journey has involved truly extreme ups and downs. His violent outbursts against his own allies as well as his eerie disappearance into the woods as he walks away from the battle don’t seem to bode well. And, Morgan explicitly states to Jesus that he realizes something is awry: “I’m not right. I know that. I’m not right. But that doesn’t make me wrong.” The last part of his statement provides a small glimmer of hope for him. He appears to know who has to win and what must be done for this victory to happen. But, can Morgan’s actions and thoughts be trusted at this point? Does he even know where he is going when he walks away. Most importantly, can he still trust himself?

The title of episode three could be referring to not only the walkers and Saviors but also the Alexandrians themselves. Are the real monsters the ones they must fight in their minds? How will they battle all these kinds of monsters at once and win?


Other Lingering Questions

  • What will become of baby Gracie in the hands of Aaron and the Alexandrians? What will this mean to the Saviors?
  • What are Rick’s plans for his Polaroids? Will he create an ironic scrapbook of horrors especially for Negan?

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