Mavis Staples and Buddy Guy Live at New Jersey Performing Arts Center

Combine their ages and these legends, Mavis Staples (80 years old) and Buddy Guy (83), have 163 years’ worth of living to sing about. And when they do, it’s a music and history lesson extraordinaire.  Staples built a reputation for her rugged R&B chops, social activism and fame as the lead singer of the classic […]

Midway

Recreating the aura of the historic Battle of Midway isn’t an easy task.  In the early 1940s, after the tragic Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor had zapped America’s spirit, Midway became a turning point in World War II. And though this screen adaptation of that event has a very commercial and slick feel, credit it […]

Last Christmas

Sometimes when you get a present, you have to tear through a lot of wrapping paper to get to the gift.  The blaring error in this film’s script, by Emma Thompson and Bryony Kimmings, is that words come first and visuals second. Characters’ inner thoughts, plot points, points-of-view, sentiments and emotions are more apt to […]

Black and Blue

Black and Blue, a very modern dirty cop movie, is blessed with a tough-as-nails protagonist, set in a town where locals don’t trust police and told in short succinct scenes that have a steady rhythm.  B&B doesn’t have the pedigree of a Sidney Lumet crime drama (Prince of the City), the blistering sadistic peril of an Antoine Fuqua movie (Training […]

Film Gems Screen at 2019 New York Film Festival

The lineup at the 2019 New York Film Festival included art films that will likely be remembered more for their beauty than their content. Yet there were gems among the programming that will win awards, play in art film houses, thrive on streaming services and be remembered favorably. American Trial: The Eric Garner Story (***1/2) If […]

Little Monsters

You couldn’t guess from her dramatic Oscar-winning performance in 12 Years A Slave or her kinetic warrior/spy role in Black Panther that Lupita Nyong’o has a gift for romantic comedy. But she does.  In fact, this rom/com/horror movie hybrid is the perfect vehicle for her frothy comic expression. Her ingenuity, a cast of adorable kids, a smarmy children’s TV host and an army […]

New Wave of Black Films Crests at 2019 Toronto International Film Festival

Nearly 500,000 film lovers flocked to the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, screening hundreds of films from all over the world. Artistry and diversity, the hallmarks of TIFF, were on view. Black artists, filmmakers and films were a key part of the mix. Big budget movies, small indie films, documentaries and shorts filled out the […]

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool

So many legendary jazz musicians are gone. Victims of father time. And as they pass, a bit of history does too. When enlightening documentaries revive their memories, we get a do over. For a brief moment, we can appreciate them and their eras, all over again.  Director Stanley Nelson is a gifted archivist who recreates […]

Good Boys

Quick! Someone call Child Protective Services. Three juvenile actors have been kidnapped and forced to play bawdy tweens in this uncontrollably hilarious coming-of-age film.  With a salacious script by Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, pervy direction by Stupnitsky, and a sense of devious humor that reeks of producer Seth Rogen (Pineapple Express), audiences will laugh themselves […]

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

So, what’s the big difference between the normal Fast & Furious franchise movies and this new spin-off? Well, when Hobbs & Shaw digs into the old F&F trick bag, it’s as good as the real thing. When it reverts to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s brand of far-fetched action movies (Skyscraper), it’s an inferior project—but not […]