Friday, April 15, 2016

Barbershop: The Next Cut

Barbershop: The Next Cut

Actor, Director, Producer and Rapper Ice Cube brings back to the big screen his eclectic array of hair cutting colleagues with all of their distinct biting humorous personalities in tow with the latest Barbershop sequel in the new titled effort called “Barbershop: The Next Cut”.

It’s been more than 10 years since we last sat in the chair of the South Side Chicago’s barbershop establishment named Calvin Barbershop. Calvin (Cube) and his raucous barber crew, including lifelong close friend, self-appointed African American historian, elder statesman and the primary source of comic relief Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer) are all collectively working endlessly again with their targeted humor at each other with authentic camaraderie, love and respect. And with the addition of the perpetual kinetic energy that is typical of African American barbershops with endless rapid fire discussions on politics, relationships, food, sports and cultural matters the viewing audience eases back into the film’s story barber chair with relative ease.  

With the exception of women now sharing equal space for females customers, very little has changed inside the walls of Calvin business. The same however does not apply outside the shop within the streets of the community and the surrounding neighborhoods itself as Calvin’s Barbershop is now ground zero of nonstop gang violence; be wreath in violence actually that effects each of the employees of Calvin’s both equally and differently.

Feeling trapped, Calvin is frustrated more than any point in his life by the senseless killings. So he decides to take matters into his own hands that could ever change the close bonds between him and his employees, his wife, his son and his community forever.  

MY REVIEW: In the first 15 minutes the film started out with it’s predictably anticipated sharp witted humor and constant teasing among the core characters and patrons that at times was both extremely funny and at other times a bit clunky missing its mark. But what eventually takes hold to emerge very effectively during the 1:52 overall running time is a very mature, solid, and socio-politically savvy commentary on the violence that causes so much devastation within the African American communities across the country. But the ultimate strength of this screenplay is its heartfelt honesty to take this problem head on in such an ownership way of trying to find those solutions without taking predictable cheap shots towards blaming Whites, racist local police officers, the proliferation of guns or the ineffective leadership of government and local officials for solutions. No, Ice Cubes Calvin sets the moral tone of the film rather forcefully from the very beginning with a strong statement that this problem of murders starts with the family and the good people – the adults taking charge of matters first using positivity and encouragement to help teenagers solving their problems without pointing a gun in someone’s face and pulling the trigger.

“Barbershop: The Next Cut” is surprisingly less a comedy and more of a dramatic  purposeful straightforward questions and answers session of a film on what can be done to solve this nationwide big city problem. It executes this central plot point with both the right strong tone and the unbridled truth.

And while this film still has the same stylishness as the past films had, this effort is buoyed beyond cliché nonstop humor with a very strong array of performances across the board from this unusually large ensemble cast. Each actor has their moment to shine and make their own case that their voice and personal stories matter. But more importantly what the film does is bring a high degree of nobility to a problem with grace and heart felt honesty to its very end.

While there are some touching moments, one involving a Luther Vandross song and another involving someone famous, Barbershop Cut goes to great lengths not to use profanity, engage in debauchery laden jokes or use inflammatory rhetoric to blame others.  No this Barbershop offers only a positive strong message that we all should be the force for change by starting the work in our homes.  

3 – 1/2 Stars

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Lester's April 2016 / Movie - TV News

Lester's April 2016 /  Movie - TV News


·       A trailer was shown for Director Robert Zemeckis’ (Castaway and Forrest Gump) latest, now officially titled “Allied”. The World War II thriller is set for a November 23 release and stars Brad Pitt opposite Marion Cotillard. Although an official synopsis has not been fully released, the plot appears to follow Pitt an American as an Intelligence Officer and Cotillard as a French Resistance Fighter who become lovers against the backdrop of German occupied France during the height of the war. 

·      Director Spielberg and Recent Academy Award Winner Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies) will work together again in the film titled “The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara”. Rylance will play Pope Pius IX in the adaptation of the David Kertzer novel that tells the story in, June 1858 a Jewish merchant Momolo Mortara who had two officers of the Catholic Inquisition bust inside and seize Mortara's six-year-old son, Edgardo. As the boy is wrenched from his father's arms, his mother collapses.  The reason for his abduction: the boy had been secretly "baptized" by a family servant.  According to papal law, the child is therefore a Catholic who can be taken from his family and delivered to a special monastery where his conversion will be completed. With this begins the true story of how one boy's kidnapping became a pivotal event in the collapse of the Vatican as a secular power.   

·       Some early Oscar acting buzz for 90 year old comic legend and humanitarian Jerry Lewis who apparently wowed a movie premiere audience receiving two standing ovations in the 2013 delayed release of the low budget film called 'Max Rose'. Lewis plays a retired jazz pianist who makes a discovery days before the death of his wife of 65 years Eva (Claire Bloom) that causes him to believe his marriage was a total lie. Rose begins to question the strength of his marriage and starts looking for clues to identify Eva’s past as he embarks on an exploration of her past as well as his own past that brings him face to face with a menagerie of characters from a bygone era.  

·       The independent foreign language effort called 'A Monster With A Thousand Heads' which had very successful performance reviews at several key festivals including Venice, AFI, and BFI London, this Mexican indie film was recently picked up by the production company Music Box Films for a 2016 release nationwide. The film is directed by Mexico-based Uruguayan Rodrigo Plá ("La Zana," "Desierto Adentro," "The Delay"), and stars stage actress Jana Raluy in her screen debut. It's written by Laura Santullo who adapted it from her own novel. The official synopsis of the film “Monster” takes place in Mexico involving the medical insurance industry. Sonia (Jana Raluy)’s critically ill husband requires an expensive medication their insurance company refuses to approve. What begins as a frustrating call to a bureaucratic phone tree, escalates into a confrontation with her husband’s doctor as he luxuriates in a steam bath, and finally a violent hostage-taking standoff. Sonia does battle with the insurance industry; its obfuscation and pettiness, its callous disregard for suffering and ultimately corruption."  The trailer is currently available on Youtube. 


·       Suddenly Atlanta is now 2 HOT – HOT: Two of the biggest cable networks are each premiering comedy shows set in the music world in Atlanta. First HBO’s effort is called “Brothers in Atlanta”. The HBO effort is about struggling entertainers and best friends Langston (Riddle) and Moose (Salahuddin) trying to navigate relationships and life in the black Mecca of Atlanta. An Atlanta native, Langston is an aspiring DJ whose career has stalled due to his lack of focus and his get-rich schemes. New to Atlanta, Moose is a perennial backup singer with dreams of the spotlight, who keep his foot in his mouth. The pilot also features Maya Rudolph as Moose’s demanding boss, Shirley, an R&B diva whose heyday was in the 90s; and Jaden Smith as Curtis, a “New Atlanta” teenager and Langston’s rowdy neighbor with unpredictable interests and suspicious income.   

·       The FX network effort will embark on the release of a weekly 30 minute show called “Atlanta” sometime in the summer of 2016. “Atlanta” synopsis involves two cousins who are making their way up through the Atlanta’s rap scene. Created and stars Donald Glover, who will play a character named Earnest "Earn" Marks, a loner who left Atlanta only to return; now working an unglamorous job and barely getting by when his cousin Alfred becomes Atlanta’s hot rapper, Earn sees an opportunity to manage Alfred’s career. Actor Brian Tyree Henry who will play the cousin Alfred Miles, wants to capitalize on his sudden fame as quickly as possible. 

·       AMC offers up a new drama called “Preacher”. Based on a comic book, the synopsis entails with a story of a conflicted preacher living in a Texas town that is possessed by a powerful supernatural force, and sets out on a trip with his “hit-woman” ex-girlfriend and an Irish vampire, to find God who has gone missing.  

·       HBO is still working on the modern adaptation of the 1970’s Yul Brenner movie called “Westworld”. The synopsis is the story of a wild western theme park using state of the art robot technology to give its clients everything they ever dreamt of. The cast is spectacular Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Rodrigo Santoro, Ben Barnes, Jimmi Simpson, “Creed” star Tessa Thompson, “The Duke Of Burgundy”, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Clifton Collins Jr and, stepping into Yul Brynner’s shoes, Ed Harris.  

·       FX brings acclaimed British Actor Tom Hardy to the TV screen in a miniseries he wrote and acts in called “Taboo”. The synopsis is in 1813, where roguish adventurer James Delaney (Hardy) returns to Britain from America with 14 stolen diamonds in tow, determined to avenge the death of his father. An 8 episode miniseries is penned by both Hardy and his "Locke" writer/director Steven Knight. 

·       HBO offers up “Codes of Conduct” with a synopsis of a man named Beverly Snow, a talented, self-confident young African-American man works his way into the upper echelons of New York society, despite his ambiguous background, testing the limits of access and social mobility. This series won't arrive till 2017; a  deeply intriguing six-part miniseries produced by Russell Simmons for HBO and co-written by Steve McQueen (Director of “12 Years A Slave”) and "World War Z" writer Matthew Michael Carnahan. Actor Paul Dano last seen brilliantly performing as Beach Boy Brian Wilson in “Love and Mercy” ‘will play a young entrepreneur who takes Snow under his wing and grants him access to the social elite. Helena Bonham Carter appears as a wealthy socialite and Rebecca Hall will play the privileged eldest child of a New York billionaire and Snow's possible nemesis.

Friday, April 1, 2016

2016 Best Picture Oscar Contenders

"2016 Best Picture Oscar Contenders"

1.    A United Kingdom - An upcoming British period biopic directed by Amma Asante and starring David Oyelowo (Selma) and Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl). The film is based on the true-life romance between Seretse Khama King of Botswana and his wife Ruth Williams Khama. who was forced to renounce the throne after marrying a white English woman, causing uproar at home in the U.K. and in neighboring apartheid-era South Africa.
2.    Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk -  A young man, recently home from Iraq, who learns he'll be returning to Iraq while being hailed as a war hero at a Dallas Cowboys game. Central Cast. Ben Platt - Vin Diesel - Chris Tucker Why it could be big: It also includes Steve Martin to Kristen Stewart (seriously, just click on the IMDB link above and look at it). There's also director Ang Lee, who's won Best Director twice — for Brokeback Mountain and Life of Pi, but never Best Picture. Plus, the Iraq War has receded enough into memory that movies about it could become Oscar favorites, as happened with World War II and Vietnam.
3.    Genius - A biographical drama about legendary book editor Maxwell Perkins (Colin Firth), co-starring Nicole Kidman, Jude Law (as Thomas Wolfe), Dominic West (Ernest Hemingway) and Guy Pearce (F. Scott Fitzgerald).
4.    Hacksaw Ridge - an upcoming American war drama film directed by Mel Gibson and written by Gregory Crosby, Robert Schenkkan, and Randall Wallace. The film stars Andrew Garfield, Vince Vaughn, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Hugo Weaving, Ryan Corr, Teresa Palmer, Richard Pyros and Rachel Griffiths. Based on the true story about US Army medic Desmond T. Doss, a conscientious objector who refused to bear arms, yet was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman for single-handedly saving the lives of over 75 of his comrades while under constant enemy fire during the brutal Battle of Okinawa in World War II.
5.    Jackie - The days of First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, in immediate aftermath of John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963. Natalie Portman as Jacqueline "Jackie" Kennedy Onassis, Caspar Phillipson as President John F. Kennedy, Peter Sarsgaard as Robert F. Kennedy, Max Casella as Jack Valenti, Beth Grant as Lady Bird Johnson, and Julie Judd as Ethel Kennedy, wife of Robert F. Kennedy.
6.    La La Land – Drama, Romance, Musical & Comedy – Directed by  Damien Chazelle (Whiplash), in this modern take on the Hollywood musical from Damien Chazelle, the Academy Award-nominated writer and director of "Whiplash," Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) are drawn together by their common desire to do what they love. But as success mounts they are faced with decisions that begin to fray the fragile fabric of their love affair, and the dreams they worked so hard to maintain in each other threaten to rip them apart.
7.    LBJ - An upcoming American political drama film directed by Rob Reiner and written by Joey Hartstone. The film stars Woody Harrelson (LBJ), Richard Jenkins, Bill Pullman, Kim Allen, Michael Stahl-David, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jeffrey Donovan, Doug McKeon, and Michael Mosley. The story of U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson from his young days in West Texas to the White House.
8.    Loving - This courtroom drama covers Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 Supreme Court ruling that made interracial marriage legal throughout the US. So it's a courtroom drama and a love story — both genres the Oscars often find irresistible. Why it could be big: See above re: genre. Loving is also from director Jeff Nichols, whose Take Shelter and Mud have landed just short of the Oscars in the past but have been in the conversation for several other prizes. (Mud also proved a surprise box office success.) Between this and Midnight Special, a sci-fi film coming out in March, Nichols could have quite the year.
9.    Manchester by the Sea - A searing family drama about a man who returns to his hometown to confront the weight of his grief, Kenneth Lonergan's new film debuted at Sundance to the kind of reviews that make film fans salivate. It also boasts performances from previous Oscar nominees Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams, as well as the much-liked Kyle Chandler. Why it could be big: Intelligent adult dramas about people feeling their feelings are hard to pull off. But when they work, the Oscars tend to notice. Think of Ordinary People or Terms of Endearment or even American Beauty; all were big winners, and Manchester could join them.
10. Money Monster - George Clooney plays a bombastic TV personality who is taken hostage during a live broadcast by a man (Jack O’Connell) irate after one of his bad stock tips. Co-stars include Julia Roberts. Jodie Foster directs.
11. No Title Yet - Directed by Robert Zemeckis (Flight, Forrest Gump and Castaway) - This takes place during World War II. The desert. Brad Pitt. Marion Cotillard. Romance. Also Jared Harris from Mad Men. We don't know much about this project, but on paper it sounds very Oscar-friendly.
12. Passengers - When a man on a gigantic spaceship that takes generations to travel between stars wakes up from cryogenics due to a malfunction, he decides to wake up one of the women passengers as well, in the most duplicitous Adam and Eve story you'll ever see. Why it could be big: The guy? Chris Pratt, who's poised for an Oscar breakthrough after huge turns in franchises galore. The woman? Jennifer Lawrence, the biggest star in the country. This movie will make money hand over fist, and having director Morten Tyldum (of Oscar favorite Imitation Game) behind the camera won't hurt.
13. Queen of Katwe - An upcoming biographical drama film directed by Mira Nair from a screenplay by William Wheeler. The film is about the life of Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan chess prodigy who becomes a Woman Candidate Master after her performances at World Chess Olympiads.
14.  Silence - What it is: Directed by Martin Scorsese, Silence is about Jesuit priests in 17th-century Japan who encounter both persecution and seemingly insurmountable cultural differences. It stars Liam Neeson and is based on a book. Why it could be big: I actually had this film on my predictions last year, with the caveat that it might not come out in 2015 — and it didn't. But the Oscars always watch Scorsese closely, and Neeson is primed for another nomination. (He hasn't landed one since Schindler's List in 1994).
15. Snowden - Based on Luke Harding's recent book, "The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most Wanted Man" details the most spectacular intelligence breach ever, brought about by one man Edward Snowden who was 29-year-old computer genius working for the National Security Agency when he shocked the world by exposing the near-universal mass surveillance programs of the United States government and the threat to individual privacy.  Directed by Oliver Stone (Born of the 4th of July, Platoon, Nixon and JFK), the cast includes Tom Wilkinson, Nicolas Cage, Melissa Leo, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Timothy Olyphant, Zachary Quinto and Shailene Woodley.
16. Sully - Tom Hanks plays Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the pilot who famously landed a doomed flight in the Hudson River, saving the lives of everyone on board. Clint Eastwood Directs this.
17.The BFG -  Steven Spielberg takes on Roald Dahl's classic children's novel about a Big Friendly Giant, complete with a script by his old E.T. collaborator Melissa Mathison and a giant played (via motion capture) by Mark Rylance, who just won an Oscar for Spielberg's Bridge of Spies.
18. The Birth of a Nation - Actor Nate Parker turns director to bring the story of Nat Turner to the screen. Turner led a slave rebellion in 1831, after traveling with his owner showed him the scope of slavery in the South. The film's title — which apes one of the most influential (and racist) films ever made — is very much intentional. Why it could be big: Though reviews out of Sundance (where the film premiered) weren't uniform in their praise, those who loved The Birth of a Nation loved it with the sort of intensity that often nods toward a major Oscar player. Fox Searchlight ponied up $17.5 million for the rights to the film, a new record, and then scheduled it for October 7, a fairly Oscar-friendly release date. Plus, its subject matter and diverse cast will help alleviate the Academy's biggest problem.
19. The Founder - Finally, there will be a film biography of Ray Kroc, the man who built McDonald's into an empire. (Importantly, Kroc was not the fast food chain's founder, making the title all the more intriguing.) Michael Keaton will play him.
20.The Girl on the Train - A woman becomes obsessed with a younger woman who lives in a house she sees every day as she passes on the train. Bad, bad things happen. Starring Emily Blunt and directed by or Tate Taylor who previously enjoyed Major Oscar success with his 2011 film The Help.
21.  The Light Between Oceans - This one's about a World War I veteran and his wife who move to a remote Australian lighthouse and raise the baby girl they find cast up on shore one day as their own.  Why it could be big: Director Derek Canfranc’s Blue Valentine didn't prove a massive Oscar hit, but it did receive a crucial nomination (for Michelle Williams's performance). And "sweeping period drama" — which The Light between Oceans certainly qualifies as — is something the Oscars often enjoy. Plus, stars Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander (Oscar Winner), and Rachel Weisz (Oscar Winner) are all either previous winners or nominees.
22. The Story of Your Life - The acclaimed science fiction story by Ted Chiang about establishing contact with aliens via learning the aliens' language comes to the big screen, with five-time nominee Amy Adams front and center. Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker also star. Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Sicario & Incendies) when alien crafts land across the world, a linguist expert is recruited by the military to determine whether they come in peace or are a threat. As she learns to communicate with the aliens, she begins experiencing vivid flashbacks that become the key to unlocking the greater mystery about the true purpose of their visit.
23. The Witch - This period piece horror movie, dripping with menace, has received tremendous reviews for its story of a family who encounters something terrible. In 1630 New England, panic and despair envelops a farmer (Ralph Ineson), his wife (Kate Dickie) and four of their children when youngest son Samuel suddenly vanishes. The family blames Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), the oldest daughter who was watching the boy at the time of his disappearance. With suspicion and paranoia mounting, twin siblings Mercy (Ellie Grainger) and Jonas (Lucas Dawson) suspect Thomasin of witchcraft, testing the clan's faith, loyalty and love to one another.
24. The Zoo Keepers Wife - In an upcoming British-American war drama film directed by Niki Caro and written by Angela Workman, based on the non-fiction book of same name by Diane Ackerman. The film stars Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Johan Heldenbergh, and Daniel Brüh (Inglorious Basterds) . A true story about the Warsaw Zoo keepers couple Antonina Żabińska and Jan Żabiński, who saved many human and animal lives during the World War II by hiding them in animal cages.
25.  Zootopia - A smart ambitious rabbit and a sly street smart fox team up "Crockett and Stubbs" style to unravel a criminal conspiracy in a city where animals do people things in this new animated Disney film.
Red Highlighted Films 10 Strongest Contenders