Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Who’s the Mother of the Blues? Better say Ma Rainey! 1927. It’s a steamy Chicago summer, just like the rest. Hot. Humid. Even the streets are sweating. Ma (Viola Davis) comes up from Georgia to Chi-town to make an album. Her quartet arrives before she does, practicing in a cramped recording studio rehearsal room. Cutler (Colman […]

Sound of Metal

It’s a struggle. Losing one of your senses can be devastating. But that’s the reality a punk-metal drummer faces. Hearing loss. He’s banging drums he can no longer hear. Ruben (Riz Ahmed, Nightcrawler), a percussionist, and his lover Lou (Olivia Cooke, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), a lead singer and guitarist, form a two-person metal […]

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

What a nice surprise. David E. Talbert, a playwright (Love in the Nick of Tyme) turned filmmaker (First Sunday), lets his musicality fly and creates a viable family Christmas movie that’s as strong as any Disney film. Inspired by musicals like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Dr. Dolittle and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and motivated by his son’s desire […]

The Life Ahead

Upon hearing the premise of this film, involving an 86-year-old Jewish Holocaust survivor and a 12-year-old Senegalese immigrant, you might think you’re in for 94 minutes of sentimental drama. In some ways, maybe so. In others not. But out of an abundance of caution, keep a box of tissues handy. The origin of this story […]

Spell

Omari Hardwick’s and Loretta Devine’s performances elevate this horror/suspense/thriller in ways the script may never have imagined. Devine, especially, steals scenes and makes her venomously evil character devilish beyond redemption.  Think back to the 1990 film Misery, which was based on a Stephen King novel. A famous author (James Caan) is in a car crash in […]

Synchronic

Should partygoers put down their Molly and try a tab of Synchronic? This cautionary sci-fi/fantasy/thriller suggests not.   Synchronic is a drug that hurls its users back in time. Time travel with a seven-minute limit. That’s the concept created by co-directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, one that forms a storyline and characters that are further developed […]

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Fiery rhetoric. Conflicting politics. Angry activists. Heated demonstrations. Violent police clashes. Government subterfuge. Duplicitous judges… The anti-war uproar of the late ‘60s is so relevant today. One particular incident pulls all those volatile elements under one roof, into one courtroom: The historic Trial of the Chicago 7.   Writer/director Aaron Sorkin won a Best Writing, Adapted […]

Black Voices Are Loud and Clear at 2020 New York Film Festival

The lineup at the 2020 New York Film Festival included an impressive array of African diaspora films and the festival’s usual collection of international motion pictures.  Attesting to NYFF’s eagerness to hear black voices, the fest featured three main slate films from British director/writer Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) that are part of a […]