Just Mercy

It’s a story about justice and redemption.  A young Harvard-educated lawyer, Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan), could have his pick of law firms. Instead, he heads to rural Alabama to set up a small practice. In the deep south, with all its confines, he seeks to reverse death row sentences for wrongfully convicted prisoners. Stevenson […]

Clemency

This poignant, behind-the-scenes look at the inhumanity that follows death penalty convictions could point the heated debate about capital punishment in a new direction.  Part of Bernadine Williams’ (Alfre Woodard) duties as a prison warden is to carry out death row executions. She’s organized and directed the last moments of countless prisoners’ lives. Sensitive, prepared and orderly—almost […]

Les Misérables

An itchy trigger finger shoots a gun. Someone gets hit and now there’s blood on the streets… Writer/first-time feature director Ladj Ly masterfully pays respect to the most crucial elements of cop/crime/thrillers. And though, in his first feature film, he respects genre norms he also exceeds expectations, using lively characters and true events from his past to […]

Best Films 2019

Look back on the most noteworthy films of 2019 and they all display a diverse array of superb talent–in front of and behind the camera. These movies entertained, educated and often inspired us. They challenged our opinions. They made us contemplate our fate and become more aware of the world around us.  Enjoy. Best Films […]

Queen & Slim

It’s lyrical. Like an extended poem with waves of emotion, heady rumination, love proclamations and lost souls gathering around a common issue. Some will recollect the true-life story of Bonnie and Clyde, but they gained fame for crimes and robbing banks. A closer comparison is Thelma & Louise, two feminist icons who were pushed into rebellion. […]

In Fabric

She thought she was simply buying a sexy red dress, off the rack. But when that frock came home with her, so did the supernatural. Writer/director Peter Strickland had a wicked vision in mind when he created this campy horror film, which has a style that is reminiscent of the 1977 cult classic Suspiria, by […]

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 […]