The Last Tree

“She’s not coming to take you away.” It’s a hollow promise. An 11-year-old black boy is snatched away from his white foster mom. The life he knew ripped out from under him. It causes a bitterness that lasts well into his teenage years in this thoughtfully and emotionally charged coming-of-age drama.  Writer/director Shola Amoo’s semi-autobiographical portrait recaptures […]

Mr. Jones

Before there was fake news, distorting realty for evil purposes was called propaganda. That’s what the Russians did pre-WWII to convince the West that the Soviet Ukraine had economic prowess, prosperous citizens and full bellies. BS. The truth had to be told. In the 1930s, Gareth Jones (James Norton, Little Women and Belle), a young Welsh investigative journalist, […]

Miss Juneteenth

A small black neighborhood in the Fort Worth, Texas metro area. A former teenage beauty queen whose opportunities never panned out. It’s a microcosm. A blip on the radar. Just big enough to provide strong underpinnings for an earnest character-driven story. Juneteenth, aka Freedom Day, Jubilee Day or the Black Fourth of July, is an […]

Da 5 Bloods

Da 5 Bloods has the potential to be a timely, thoughtful allegory.  They fought together in Vietnam decades ago. Now they’re headed back to Nam to retrieve the body of their fallen commanding officer (Chadwick Boseman, Black Panther) and hunt for a pile of gold. The vets share a brotherly love: Paul (Delroy Lindo, Malcolm X) is high-strung, […]

The King of Staten Island

He’s the poster child for his generation. Tatted on the outside, emotionally scarred on the inside, aimless. Smoking a lot of weed for the duration. Millennials who are set adrift can relate  There’s something about Pete Davidson that’s weirdly endearing. The self-deprecating humor, his pride for blue-collar Staten Island, losing his firefighter dad in the […]

The Collini Case

The mark of a good crime/drama/thriller is that it keeps you guessing and guessing.  Caspar Leinen (Elyas M’Barek) just passed the bar three months ago. But there he is in a Berlin courtroom, the public defender for a 70-year-old Italian man named Fabrizio Collini (Franco Nero, John Wick Chapter 2 and The Lost City of Z). The defendant […]

The High Note

In case anyone wondered, Tracee Ellis Ross is ready for her close-up.  After years on TV (Girlfriends, Black-ish) and supporting roles in minor rom/com movies (In the Weeds, Labor Pains), Ross has a starring role in what should have been a theatrically released film. The pandemic killed that. Instead, this music industry story will debut on […]

The Lovebirds

It probably looked really good on paper. Bickering couple gets caught up in a murder and goes on the lam. It’s just enough of a framework for two comic geniuses to flaunt their comedy licks.  Kumail Nanjiani made a name for himself on the series Silicon Valley, and hit it big with the romantic comedy The Big […]

Blue Story

“They act like guns are toys until they get shot.” That’s it. Kids playing games and suffering grownup consequences. It’s a prime symptom of misguided adolescent gang life.   With a great feel for modern times and hip-hop music, Rapman (aka Andrew Onwubolu) mixes a bit of Boyz N the Hood, with Menace II Society. Seasons that with some Juice and New Jack […]

All Day and a Night

There is an earnestness to this deeply felt urban tale that seems personal, sincere and insular. Unfortunately, that guarded sense is not enough to make this cliché narrative, about a troubled young man headed down the wrong path, more than just another sad song. Jahkor Abraham Lincoln (Ashton Sanders, Moonlight) is a product of the mean […]