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SUPERFLY review by Gerald Wright

Posted by Gerald Wright on June 15, 2018 at 3:45 PM

Directed by: Director X

Running time: 1 hour 56 minutes

Release date: June 15, 2018

Genre: Drama, Action, Crime, and Remake

Distributor: Columbia Pictures

MPAA Rating: R

A remake of the director Gordon Parks' 1972 blaxploitation crime drama Super Fly, adapted from Phillip Fenty screenplay, comes a 21st century adaptation.

To make this subgenre understandable, the attitude and premise should be made.  Blaxploitation or Blacksploitation, a morphing of the words "black" and "exploitation", is an ethnic subgenre of the exploitation film that emerged in the United States during the early 1970s.  The films, though receiving backlash for stereotypical characters all the while, were one of the first instances in which black characters and communities were the heroes and subjects of film and television, rather than being porrtrayed as sidekicks or as victims of brutality.  The genre allowed the rethinking of race relations in the 1970s.

Blaxploitation films were originally made specifically for an urban black audience, but the genre's audience appeal soon broadened across racial and ethnic lines once Hollywood realized the potential profit of expanding the audiences of blaxploitation films across those racial lines. 

In this production,  Trevor Jackson brilliantly portrays Youngblood Priest (Super Fly), a young man from the Atlanta, Georgia underworld who operates outside of the law.  He is a suave antagonist, whose criminal actions is justified by the sinister fuel plot.  The tone of the story is determined by the drug dealing and trafficking he categorizes as a way of life.  He is shown in the light as a kingpin among underworld figures and ruthless hoodlums.  He is a spin-off of his mentor Scatter (Michael Kenneth Williams), as he governs his crew consisting of Fat Freddie (Jacob Ming-Trent), Eddie (Jason Mitchell) and Litty (Allen Maldonado).  However, there is a crosstown rival gang that has greed for Priest territory.  With tension building on threats, Priest decides he needs a big supply of drugs to make a big score and retire.

The performances are genuinely good and adds homage to the original 1972 version.  For example, Ron O'Neal who portrayed the original character, was a role of a highly successful drug kingpin.  He was a cool, sophisticated, stylish man who was popular with women, lived in plush comfort, drove the latest-model car, and used cocaine.  This is an insidious film which portrays the black community at its worst.  It glorifies the use of cocaine and casts blacks in roles which glorify dope-pushers, pimps, and raunchy black women, all designed to exploit the igorance of black people, much like films made by Tyler Perry and Spike Lee.

Superfly can be controversially appreciated by all audiences, as it remains true to its inception of this genre that began with Sweetback's Baadassss Song and the less radical Hollywood-finaced film Shaft (both released in 1971 with the inention of the blaxploitation genre.  By partially using the original soundtrack by Curtis Mayfield, the fast pace crime drama is focused on intense character development and interaction by the supporting cast which includesLex Scott Davis, Andrea Londo, Omar Chaparro, Terayle Hill, Rick Rose, and Big Boi.  These actors solidify as stimulating plot.  This emerging narrative is not fitting for all audiences, however I find it to be a verifiable remake of the 1972 classic film.


INCREDIBLES 2 and BAO short film review by Gerald Wright

Posted by Gerald Wright on June 15, 2018 at 3:45 PM

                                                                           INCREDIBLES 2

Directed by: Brad Bird

Running time: 1 hour 58 minutes

Release date: June 15, 2018

Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure, and Sequel

Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures

MPAA Rating: PG

Cited to media following the success of its predecessor, filmmaker Brad Bird expressed interest in making a sequel to the Incredibles, while he contributed to the production of other Pixar films in subsequent years.  While it was confirmed in March 2014 that a sequel was in the works, Brad Bird faced challenges making the script. One notable challenge involved finding a way to distinquish the superhero genre since the first film's release.

In this 3D and IMAX computer-animated superhero film produced by PIXAR Animation Studios is the sequel to 2004's The Incredibles.  The plot follows the Parr family as they attempt to put superheroes back in the spotlight while dealing with normal life, only to combat a new foe who seeks to turn the general public against all who possess super powers.  Several roles are reprised, including characters voiced by Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell and Samuel L. Jackson.  The sequel also includes new characters voiced by Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, and Sophia Bush among others, as well as a number of characters that returned featuring new voice actors - Jonathan Banks replaced Bud Luckery in the role of Rick Dicker, after the latter's retirement in 2014.

Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), who possesses super strength and limited invulnerability, is left at home to care for the Parr family - Violet (Sarah Vowell), the family's first child daughter who can become invisible and project force fields - Dash (Huck Milner), the family's troublemaker first son who has superhuman speed - and baby Jack Jack who is learning his uncontrollable multipowers.  Meanwhile, wife Helen/Elastigirl who has the ability to stretch her body into many shapes and forms is out saving the world.  As part of the plan, Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk), a superhero fan who leads a telecommunications company DEVTECH with his tech genius sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener) provides the family with a new home.

Lucius Best/Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), Bob's best friend who has the ability to form ice from humidity, is called in to help defend humanity from the evil brainwashing Screenslaver, along with many other super power beings.  

Using high energy and non-stop motion to do battles and rescues, the spectacular rhythm and pacing is adventurous.  It is all the struggle that plays out mainly through a clash of physical forces and encounters with new "worlds"  This is also a social fantasy drama story whose central struggle is between a champion(s) and a problem or injustice in this fantasy society.  Yet the multi-plot offers a small coming-of-age scenario, stories whose central struggle is about the young heroes finding his and her place in the world.

All and all, Incredibles 2 is a family fun-filled action adventure film!



Directed by: Domee Shi

Release date: June 15, 2018

Running time: 8 minutes

Genre: Animation, Short, Fantasy, and Family

Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures/PIXAR

MPAA Rating: G

This terrific computer-animated film is about an aging and lonely Chinese mother, suffering from empty nest syndrome, who receives an unexpected second chance at motherhood when her homemade bao comes to life.

A mother whose children have moved out to university finds a dumpling that comes alive.  She has fun with it as if it were a child.  She realizes how fastt the dumpling ages and realizes nothing stays young forever.  It is a modern Chinese retelling of fairytale, The Gingerbread Man.  Only the PIXAR team can illuminate this story!


BERNARD and HUEY review by Gerald Wright

Posted by Gerald Wright on June 9, 2018 at 12:05 AM

Directed by: Dan Mirvish

Running time: 91 minutes

Release date: June 8, 2018

Genre: Comedy, Drama, and Romance

Distributor: Freestyle Digital Media

MPAA Rating: Not rated

Directed by Slamdance Film Festival co-founder Dan Mirvish and scripted by a long-lost script by Oscar/Pulitzer-winning cartoonist/screenwriter Jules Feiffer is a tale based on two male characters from New York City dating back to the late 1950s.  This story originally appeared in the Village Voice comic strip, written by Jules Feiffer. 

As the "odd couple" of college buddies, Bernard (Jim Rash) the academic geek and the unaccepted acquaintance to the opposite sex, is just the opposite of his friend Huey (David Koechner) the womanizing bad-boy rogue, who always appealed to young women.  This was the late 1950s/1960s era of the new Hippie Movement, and sexual exploration was becoming the norm.  But as in all things in life, change is evitable, and people change their attitudes.

Such is the matter of sequences 20 years later in 1980s New York City, when single Huey, now balding and over-weight, arrives at Bernard's upscale bachelor door looking for a place to crash.  Times have changed, because the nerdy publisher Bernard is what women find attractive, and Huey is considered a throwback because of his male chauvinism and attitude of superiority toward members of the opposite sex.  It baffles Huey that Bernard has a beautiful girlfriend psychiatrist  Roz (Sasha Alexander), but Huey is locked-in to his own way of life.

Dramatically this is a serious plot-driven narrative, portraying realistic characters, settings, and life situations. However, the light-hearted plots, consistently and delberately in the dialogue delivery are designed to amuse and provoke laughter in the relationships of the characters.  This is displayed by the interweaving storylines, such as, when Bernard and Huey reconnect, and Bernard falls in love with Huey's estranged daughter Zelda (Mae Whitman), an aspiring millenial writer.  As she casually embarks into this relationship with older Bernard, she also has eyes for Conrad (Eka Darville), a seductive aspiring graphic novelist.  Meanwhile, Huey tries to put his life back in order and makes an attempt to seduce the various women in Bernard's life, including Roz.  But soon reconnects with his ex-wife, Zelda's mother, Mona (Nancy Travis).

One can consider this film as an edgy romantic tale, but it takes a perculiar journey of these two men's episodic affectionate involvement with the women in their life.  What sparks the film, is the strong character development and interaction offering the audience a complexed relationship of deception, desertion, and indifference.  The supporting cast members are the glue to the formidable chemistry displayed by all on screen.  The great transitional structure of the plot is very creative as it weaves back and forth from the 1980s to the 1950s displaying the similarities and differences of the two main characters.

This is a crisp paced film that delivers on all points.



OCEAN'S 8 review by Gerald Wright

Posted by Gerald Wright on June 8, 2018 at 1:25 PM

Directed by: Gary Ross

Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes

Release date: June 8, 2018

Genre: Drama, Comedy, Crime, and Action

Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

MPAA Rating: PG-13

This is a spin-off from Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's trilogy, based on the original 1960 film Ocean's 11.  This is an ensemble cast featuring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna, and Helena Bonham Carter.  The plot follows a group of women, led by Debbie Ocean, the estranged sister of danny Ocean, who plan on robbing the New York Met Gala.

Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), a professional thief and younger sister of late master thief Danny Ocean, spends five years and eight months in prison.  Once released from jail she convinces her partner-in-crime and best friend/former lover Lou (Cate Blanchett) to take part in her heist.  Debbie proceeds to recruit jewelry maker Amita (Mindy Kaling), profiteer/suburban mom Tammy (Sarah Paulson), street hustler/pick-pocketer/theif Constance (Awkwafina), computer tech hacker Leslie aka Nine Ball (Rihanna), and fashion Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter).  In a flashback scene, it is revealed that Debbie's ex-lover, Claude Becker (Richard Armtage), an art dealer, had involved her in a fraud scheme and then testified against her, sending her to prison.  Debbie chooses him to be the scapegoat for her heist.

The heist film uses an archetypical structure, containing a three-act plot.  The first consisting of the preparations for the heist: gathering conspirators, learning the layout of the locations to be robbed; learning about the alarm systems; revealing innovative technologies to be used; and most importantly, setting the plot twists in the final act.

The second act is the heist itself, with some number of unexpected events to occur.

The third act is the unraveling of the plot.  The characters involved in the heist will make arrangements with some outside party, who will interfere.  

It all comes down to; organizing a Ragtag Crew, the Big Score, The Planning Scene, The Target, The Life of Crime (crew members discuss choosing a life of crime oppossing to going straight), The Heist, The Escape, The Betraying, The Swtch (the leader knew the unreliable person would alter the caper), and the going of Separate Ways.

The production of Ocean's 8 is typical in the manner of making this heist film.  Even so, by adding James Corden as John Frazier as the insurance fraud investigator who looks into the theft, with cameos from Dakota Fanning, Marlo Thomas, Dana Ivey, Louise Wilson, Elizabeth Ashley, Anna Wintour, Zayn Malik, Katie Holmes, Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, Kim Kardashian, Adriana Lima, Kulie Jenner, Alexander Wang, Nino Cuso, Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Lily Aldrige, Olivia Munn, Zac Posen, Hailey Baldwin, Derek Blasberg, and Lauren Santo Domingo.  

The heist sequence is very impressive with the non-stop motion, spectacular rthym and pacing, and adventurous often two-dimensional good against bad.  But in this case, the main good-person characters are antagonists operating outside of the law.  Exploiting the tone of female inpowerment, and using a diverse cast, this is an enjoyable movie.  However, my problem is with the chemistry between Debbie and Lou characters.  Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett did not convince me in their performances of having a very close relationship as the story dictates.  Their performances did not gel or blend as it should.  Yet, the overall film itself makes up for that one flaw.

Ocean's 8 is well worth the hype it mustered in its marketing.  It is a fun-filled ride for movie-goers.


SOLO: A Star Wars Story review by Gerald Wright

Posted by Gerald Wright on May 25, 2018 at 3:15 AM

Directed by: Ron Howard

Running time: 136 minutes

Release date: May 25, 2018

Genre: Space Western, Action, Adventure, and Fantasy

Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures

MPAA Rating: PG-13

In a character-driven action/adventure space film centered on Han Solo, a character from the Star Wars franchise, is the second of the Star Wars anthology films following 2016's Rogue One.  A stand-alone installment set prior to the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, it explores the early adventures of a young Han Solo and Chewbacca, including meeting the sinister Lando Calrissian.

This is a story about the young main characters lives as they evolve and are involved in a heist within the criminal world.  The galaxy is in a state of disorder, with criminal syndicates competing for valuable resources such as hyperfuel.  On the shipbuilding of Corellia, orphaned children are made to steal in order to survive, and young Han (Alden Ehrenreich) and his lover Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke) long to escape the clutches of a local criminal gang. They successfully bribe an Imperila officer who grants them passage on  an outgoing transport, but Qi'ra is apprehended by their pursuers before she can board.  Han vows to return for her, and with no means of income, joins the Imperial Navy as a flight cadet, with the Imperial recruiting officer dubbing "han Solo" in absence of a surname.

The plot jumps three years later, where Han has been expelled from the Imperila Flight Academy for insubordeination, and is serving as an infantryman during a battle on the planet Mimban.  He encounters a gang of criminals posing as Imperila soldiers led by Tobias Becket (Woody Harrelson) and his crew that consist of his wife Val (Thandie Newton) along with a four armed alien named Rio Daurant.  Through a series of schemes, Han convinces Tobias to allowing him to join the gang by showing that he can speek to Wookiees, specifically to one Wookiee named Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo).  This union becomes a special lifelong friendship between Han Solo and Chewbacca.

Owing to Han's ability to speak Shyriiwook,  Tobias rescues Han and Chewbacca from captors, recruits him into his gang for a heist to steal hyperfuel coaxium on the planet Vander.  With a marauder Enfys Nest and her crew are killed in the mayhem of crime, another scheme is launched to steal from another criminal syndicate led by Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover).  This is where Han is reunited with his long-lost love from his past Qi'ra, who is now closely connected with the sinister Lando and his Crimson Dawn crime syndicate.

Of course the film has layers of different storylines, and to delve into each would perhaps give away too much. So not to be s spoiler, I can say that it is an edge of your seat ride.  I found this to be more of a colaborative performance by a very good cast, although Alden Ehrenreich as Han, is the selective protagonist.  Yet, every character is a sense of interest from its original being and creation. 

To solidify a solid plot, the supporting cast members Paul Bettany as Dryden Vos, the ruthless crime lord who has a history with Becket, along with Phoebe Waller-Bridge as L3-37 as Lando's droid companion, the space western take form into a special Star Wars adventure.  Rounding up the cast is Jon Favreau and Linda Hunt who add their voices respectively as Rio Daurant and Lady Proxima.

Before selling Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012, George Lucas had already started development on a film about a young Han Solo, and he had hired Star Wars veteran script writer Lawrence Kasden to write the screeenplay. However, when Kasden left to help finish the script for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he left his son Jonathan Kasden to finish the project.  With acclaimed and award winning director Ron Howard at the helm, this franchise production is a good family-friendly film to enjoy.



DEADPOOL 2 review by Gerald Wright

Posted by Gerald Wright on May 18, 2018 at 4:05 AM

Directed by: David Leitch

Running time: 119 minutes

Release date: May 18, 2018

Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Adaptation, and Sequel

Distributor: 20th Century Fox

MPAA Rating: R

A superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Deadpool, the eleventh installment in the X-Men series, and a sequel to the 2016 film Deadpool is the follow-up whereas after surviving a near fatal bovine attack, a disfigured cafeteria chef Wade Wilson aka Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) aspiring to become Miami's hottest bartender while learning to cope with his lost sense of taste, and his girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) decide to form a family.  Immediately prior to this major life decision, Wade/Deadpool must fight ninjas, the yakuza, and a pack of sexually aggressive canines, as he journeys aroung the world to discover the importance of family, friendship, and flavor.

Using a mixture of melodramatics, slapstick, super-hero action sequences, and satire, this amazing sequel takes form after 2 years as Deadpool/Wade Wilson works as a mercenary.  However, he fails to kill one of his targets, and on his anniversary with girlfriend Vanessa whom he plans to start a family with, the target tracks Wade down and kills Vanessa.  Wade kills the man in revenge, but blames himself for her death, and attempts to commit suicide six weeks later by blowing himself up.  The pieces of his body remain alive and put back together by Colossus (Stefan Kapicic).

Recovering at the X-Mansion, Wade agrees to join the X-Men as a form of healing.  He, Colossus, and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) respond to a standoff between authorities and the unstable young mutant Firefist/Russell Collins (Julian Dennison) at the orphanage, labeled a "Mutant Reeducation Center".  Wade realizes that Russell is being bullied and has been abused by the orphange staff, and kills one on the staff members.  The always responsible Colossus stops Russell from killing anyone else, and both Wade and Russell are arrested.  Restrained with collars that negate their powers, they are taken to the "Icebox", an isolated prison for mutant criminals.  Meanwhile, the cybernetic soldier Cable/Nathan Summers (Josh Brolin) of the X-Force finds his family murdered by Russell in the future, and travels back in time to kill the boy before he never becomes a murderer.

Cable breaks into the Icebox and attacks Russell.  Wade attempts to defend Russell, but is defeated by Cable. Meanwhile, Wade is having visions of Vanessa which guides him to a straight and narrow existence, which convinces him to assist Cable.  At this time, Wade organizes a team of mutants to break Russell out of a prison convoy by parachuting from a plane, but all of the team's members except for Wade and the lucky X-Force Domino (Zazie Beetz) die in the landing.  While the pair fight Cable, Russell frees fellow inmate Juggernaut (also played by Ryan Reynolds) who repays Russell by agreeing to help him kill the abusive orphange headmaster (Eddie Marsan).

The various dimensions and levels of this film offers a cliche' of of satire deliberately designed to amuse and provoke laughter with one-liners and insider comic-lover jokes, by exxaggerating these situations, language, action, relationships, and characters.  The humor varies from slapstick, screwball, spoofs and paradies, romantic comedy, and black comedy (dark satrical comedy).  All the while, rooting its format in the high energy action genre of big-budget physical stunts and chases, with rescues, battles, fights, escapes, destructive crises (floods, explosions, natural disasters, fires, etc.), non-stop motion, spectacular rhythm and pacing, and adventurous. often two-dimensional 'good-guy/gals battling bad-guy/gals' - all designed for pure audience escapism.

With returning and supporting cast members; T.J. Miller as Weasel - Wade's bar owner best friend, Jack Kesy as Black Cassidy - the main antagonist acting as a devil on Firefist's shoulder, Leslie Uggams as Deadpool's blind roommate, and imagery cameo sequences of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine make this comic book action/adventure farce an enjoyable cinematic outing to watch.  Try it - you'll like it!!


TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL 2018 coverage/review by Gerald Wright

Posted by Gerald Wright on April 18, 2018 at 9:55 PM

                                               TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL 2018

                                                                               APRIL 18-29

The 17th annual Tribeca Film Festival, revealed its feature lineup championing the discovery of emerging voices and celebrating new work from established filmmaking talent with an emphasis, special importance, and prominence to women in the film industry.  Love, Gida kicks off the festival as Opening Night Film - nearly 40 years after pioneering female comedian Gilda Radner won an Emmy as part of the original  Saturday Night Live cast. Comedic icon Tina Fey, who became SNL's first female head writer nearly twenty years after Radner blazed the trail for women in comedy, will introduce the documentary film.

The Centerpiece Gala will be the World Premiere of Drake Doremus' sci-fi romance Zoe starring Ewan McGregor, Lea Seydoux, Rashida Jones, Christina Aguilera, and Theo James.  This is a feature narrative where as future cutting-edge technologies can simulate the high of true love.  Two colleagues at a revolutionary research lab yearn for a connection that is real.

To close the festival, TFF will World Premiere, The Fourth Estate, from Oscar-nominated director Liz Garbus, which follows The New York Times coverage of the Trump administration's first year.  This is a documentary, from the journalists at The New York Times, depicting the election of Donald Trump presented a once in a generation challenge in how the press would cover a president who has declared the majority of the nation's major news outlets "the enemy of the people."

The 2018 feature film program includes 96 films from 103 filmmakers.  Of the 96 films, 46% of them are directed by women, the highest percentage in the festival's history.  The lineup includees 75 World Premieres, 5 International Premieres, 9 North American Premieres, 3 U.S. Premieres, and 4 New York Premieres from 30 countries.  This year's program includes 46 first time filmmakers, with 18 directors returning to the TFF with their latest feature film projects.

                                                              SELECTIVE FILM REVIEWS


Directed by: Lisa D'Apolito

Running time: 88 minutes

Release date: April 18, 2018 

Genre: Documentary

Distributor: CNN Films

Born Gilda Susan Radner (June 28, 1946 - May 20, 1989) was an American female comedian, writer, actress, and one of seven original cast members of the NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live (SNL) - actually she was the first character casted for the show.  Using Radner's own words, alongside interviews with friends and those she inspired - including fellow SNL vetterans like Chevy Chase, Laraine Newman, and Lorne Michaels and latter-day SNL members Bill Hader, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, and Cecily Strong - director Lisa D'Apolito weaves together this feature length documentary that tells the story of an indomitable spirit who understood the healing power of laughter.

Structured in an autobiography frame, the cinematic examination of Radner begins with her childhood Detroit, Michigan home footage, to Jewish parents, Henrietta (mother), a legal secretary, and Herman Radner (father), a successful businessman.  Gilda grew up with a nanny, Elizabeth Gilles, whom she called "Dibby", and older brother, Michael.  Gilda was close to her father, who operated Detroit's Seville Hotel, where many nightclub performers and actors stayed while performing in the city.  He took her on trips to New York to see Broadway shows.  As Radner wrote in It's Always Something, when she was 12, her father developed a brain tumor, and the symptoms began so suddenly that he told people his eyeglasses were too tight.  Within days, he was bedridden and unable to communicate, and remained in this condition until his death two years later.

Gilda, herself had early health problems.  After graduating from Liggett School, she enrolledat the Unversity of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1964.  While at the university, she made a lifelong platonic friend of fellow student David Saltman, who wrote a biography of her after her death.  Saltman and his girlfriend took Radner along on a trip to Paris in the summer of 1966.  According to Saltman, he noticed how Gilda was nervous and upset about gaining weight from the French cuisine.  Very little was known at that time that this was an early childhood problem exploited by Gilda's mother, told by Gilda in her memoirs.  

The film explores the career of Radner, when she drops out of college in her senior year to follow her boyfriend, Canadian sculptor Jeffrey Rubinoff to Toronto, where she made her professional acting debut in the 1972 production of Godspell with futurestars Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Victor Garber, (another boyfriend) Martin Short, and musician Paul Shaffer.  Soon after the run of this historic musical stage production, she join The Second City comedy troupe in Toronto, and later in 1974 a feature player on the National Lampoon Radio Hour. Fellow cast members included John Belushi, (another boyfriend) Chevy Chase, Richard Belzer, (another boyfriend) Bill Murry, Brian Doyle-Murray, and Rhonda Coullet.

Her playfully successful career was earnest and aggressive, which landed her to her one-woman Broadway show, Gilda Radner - Live From New York.  This opened the door to NBC's Saturday Night Live, where was able to play the characters she created and played in the original "Not Ready for Prime Time Players", the freshman group of the show.  All the time, Gilda was suffering from and battling bulimia, while dealing with mood swings, as she and others conducted non-stop work of writing scripts and acting weekly with fellow actors, such as Jane Curtain tells us.

The film gives accollades to a great woman of showbusiness, who lost her life to stage IV ovarian cancer in 1989.  Those friends and family members mentioned in this review, give insightful and honest interviews that portray Gilda Radner in a new light.



Directed by: Jason Reitman

Running time: 1 hour 35 minutes

Release date: May 4, 2018

Genre: Comedy and Drama

Distributor: Focus Features

MPAA Rating: R

Tully is a highly creative narrative that maintains a standard of excellence.  Brilliant cast performances. 

***Full review on***


Mary Shelley

Directed by: Haifaa Al Mansour

Running time: 121 minutes

Release date: May 25, 2018

Genre: Drama, Biography, and Romance

Distributor: IFC Films

MPAA Rating: PG-13

This period piece costume drama presentation historically tells  the story of writer Mary Shelley's first love and romantic relationship with poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, which inspired Mary to write Frankenstein.  It is a torrid true-life tale of how a passionate love affair fueled the creation of the works trailblazer Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (Godwin).  The film stars Elle Fanning, Maisie Williams, Douglas Booth, Bel Powley, and Ben Hardy.

In a powerful performance by Elle Fanning portraying Mary Shelley, the film picks up with a short yet meaningful backstory of Mary Shelley, as she was the daughter of her political philosopher William Godwin, and her feminist philosopher mother Mary Wollstonecraft.  After Mary Wollstonecraft's death less than a month after her daughter Mary was born, infant Mary was raised by Willaim Godwin.  He was able to provide his daughter with a rich informal education while encouraging her to adhere to his own liberal polical theories.  When Mary was four, her father married a neighbor Mary Jane Clairmont (Joanne Froggatt), with whom, as her stepmother came a troubled relationship.  However, she came to keep a very close relationship with her stepsister Claire Clairemont (Bel Powley).

In 1814, Mary began a romance with one of her father's political followers, Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was already married.  Together with Mary's stepsister Claire, Mary and Shelley left for France and travelled through Europe.  The life situations in this production portrays intense character interactions and development as it covers a large expanse of time set against a vast, panoramic backdrop. 

This is an epic historical drama that uses crisp pacing to structure this biopic.  The stimulating plot takes on a plot-driven presentation portraying realistic characters and legendary figures, while adding an extravagant setting and lavish costumes, accompanied by grandeur and spectacle, dramatic scope, and high production values.

Historical facts are lightly dwelled on, as Mary constantly wrote and put on spooky home stage plays with her siblings (stepsister/youngerbrother) as characters.  Yet, using memoirs, the secret romantic meetings of 17 year old Mary and married 22 year old Percy at Mary Wollstonecraft's grave in St. Pancras Chuurchyard was scenic cinematic setting.  More dark and chilling scenes are used in later sequences in their European travels, as Mary becomes pregnant and the trio (Mary, Percy, and stepsister Claire) find themselves penniless, and, to Mary's genuine surprise, her father refuses to have anything to so with her.  The couple with Claire move into lodging at Somer Town, and later, Nelson Square.  They maintain their intense program of reading and writing, and entertain Percy's bohemian friends.  At times, Percy left home for short periods to avoid creditors.  Pregnant and often ill, Mary had to cope with Percy's joy with his son by his legal wife Harriet Shelley in late 1814, and his certain outings with stepsister Claire Clairemont.  Percy Shelley and Claire Clairemont were almost certainly lovers, which caused much jealously on Mary's part.  But this was a liberal way of life encouraging free love.

The supporting cast members Ben Hard as John William Polidori, Maisie Williams as Isabel Baxter, Stephen Dilane as William Goldwin, and Tom Sturridge as Lord Byron solidifies this biopic of this English novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer who also edited and promoted the works of her husband, we know as the writer of the gothic masterwork Frankenstein, Mary Shelley.

FILM Rating (A+)


ALL I WISH review by Gerald Wright

Posted by Gerald Wright on March 29, 2018 at 5:50 PM

Directed by: Susan Walter

Running time: 1 hour 34 minutes

Release date: March 29, 2018

Genre: Drama and Comedy

Distributor: Paladin/Universal Pictures

MPAA Rating: Not rated

In the spectrum of woman empowerment, tis film is a character study drama of a free spirited woman who explores life as her journey to success.

Using birthdays as the structure to fashion designer Senna Berges' (Sharon Stone) plot driven presentation, she is passionate in becoming a success in her field.  However, she is also desparate to find her soulmate, and seeking a love interest with the assistance and persistance of her mother Celia (Ellen Burstyn).  Her bestfriend Darla (Liza Lapira) is always in her corner (right or wrong).  Famke Janssen plays Vanessa, a fashion designing colleague who tries to support Senna.

The dramedy is a Sharon Stone vehicle that examines and follows a 5 year timeline path of irresponsible behavior, changing jobs and having occasional relationships with younger men.  Everything seems to be out of control for Senna until her 46th birthday party where she meets Adam (Tony Goldwyn), a middle-age responsible man.

With a film that stars an all-star cast, this is too melodramatic to hold water on a big screen.  It is characterized by a plot to appeal to the emotions of the audience, but is penalized for poor execution.  The film fails to communicate and only fairly pejoratively to connote an unrealistic, pathos-filled tales of romance and domestic situations with stereotypical characters that would directly appeal to feminine audiences.

As the humor is an overtone in this light-hearted plot, it is deliberately designed to amuse and promote laughter by exxagerating the situations, the language, action, relationships and characters.  Yet, is shallow in presenting intense character development and lacks honesty in portraying frustrations of life, merriment, and momentary escape from day to day life.  It is a predictable film that falls into a happy ending, although the humor has a serious and pessimistic side.

Sharon Stone, with the help of her supporting cast, gives as much as possible to her character(s), but the script doesn't allow the production to excel in any means that would be formidible or win over its audience.  While the pacing is crisp and engaging, the narrative is weak.  While spotlighting good talent on screen, the storyline is more suitable for a cable movie presentation.


RENDEZ-VOUS WITH FRENCH CINEMA 2018 coverage by Gerald Wright

Posted by Gerald Wright on March 9, 2018 at 12:00 PM

                                             RENDEZ-VOUS with FRENCH CINEMA 2018

Rendez-Vous with French Cinema returns in its 23rd edition to remind viewers that there is nothing like French cinema.  Emerging talents and established masters alike are highlighted in this selection, which is as full of surprises asalways, from unconventional biopics to tales of families on the edge.

Co-presented with UniFrance, Rendez-Vous demonstrates that French cinema is vast and inspiring as ever.  All films are subtitlted, as they are not reviewed (requested by host) but written in capsule form.


Directed by: Mathieu Amalric

France, 2017, 98 minutes

The legendary chanteuse known only as Barbara, gifted with a tremendously expressive voice and striking stage presence is an enduring icon of French culture.  In this tantilizing tribute from actor-director Maathieu Amalric, a transfixating, chameleon-like Jeanine Balibar stars as Brigitte, a film actress cast in a biopic about the singer. This conceit yields, a 'Cassavetes' like Opening Night film', a mesmeriing meta-cinema high-wire act about the slippery nature of performance and identity as Balibar's Barbara merges with footage of the real-life diva until the two becme virtually indistinguishable.  The result is both a captivating experiment and a love letter to a singular artist.

This is a film in a film, creatively structured to reference itself to georges brassens that merge the narrative.


Directed by: Lea Mysius

France, 2017, 105 minutes

The bold, bracingly original debut feature from Lea Mysius is a coming-of-age tale unlike any other.  While on summer vacation on the crystal blue beach coast, tempestuous 13 year old Ava (Noee Abita) learns she is quickly going blind.  It is a revelation that leads to a breathtaking turn of events, as the newly emboldened loner Ava turns her back on her single mother (Laure Calamy) in favor of the outlaw male teen Juan (Juan Cano) and the wild freedom of the road.  Dazzling 35mm cinematography - with sun-splashed beach images by day and rich inky blacks by night - evokes the increasingly dark world of a girl taking in as much of life as she can, while she can.

Look for an unpredictable finale, and a precious pet dog.


Directed by: Tonie Marshall

France, 2017, 110 minutes

An ambitious woman treads a dangerous path as she attempts to crash the corporate boy's club in this timely feminist drama.  Emmanuelle (Emmanuelle Devos) is a successful energy company executive tapped by a feminist lobbying grioup to step into the soon-to-be-open CEO position at France's national water company - a move that would make her the first woman to lead a major French corporation.  But first, she must navigate a minefield of sexism, blackmail, and a smear campaign designed to squash her.  Director Tonie Marshall blends twisty boardroom intrique with an impassioned message about the need for female solidarity in the workdplace.

The feminist tone is set early on in this film, and is very successful with brilliant performances.


Directed by: Jean-Paul Civeyrac

France, 2018, 137 minutes

Etienne (Andranic Manet), a serious and impressionable shaggy-haired young cinephile, leaves behind his steady girlfriend (Diane Rouxel) in Lyon to study film in Paris.  Settling into a dingy flat with a rotating cast of roommates, he immerses himself in a bohemian world of arists, intellectuals, and fellow film geeks who excitedly share their passion for Bresson, Ford, and obscure Russian directors.  It is a seemingly idyllic life of the mind - until more complicated matters of the flesh, as well as jealous creativity, intrude.  Shooting in timeless black and white and interweaving references to philosophy, music, and cinema - from Pascal to Mahler to Parajanov - unsuing auteur Jean-Paul Civeyrac conjures a bittersweet ode to the heady days of student life.

This is a good life journey drama of a young man maturing and finding his place in the world.





A WRINKLE IN TIME review by Gerald Wright

Posted by Gerald Wright on March 9, 2018 at 7:35 AM

Directed by: Ava DuVernay

Running time: 109 minutes in Digital 3-D, Real D 3-D, and IMAX

Release date: March 9, 2018

Genre: Adventure, Family, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Adaptation, and Remake

Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures

From visionary director Ava DuVernay (Selma - 2014) comes an epic adventure based on Madeleine L'Engle's 1962 globally famed novel by the same title.  Anchoring female empowerment, the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling the women's life and claiming their rights in the film industry, the screenplay is penned Jennifer Lee (Frozen - 2013) starring Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Michael Pena, Storm Reid, Zach Galifianakis, and Chris Pine.

In this coming of age film, young Meg Murry (Storm Reid), her younger brother Charles Wallace Murry (Deric McCabe), and mother Dr. Kate Murry (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) pine after the patriarch of their family Dr. Alex Murry (Chris Pine). Peg's father Chris is an astrophysicist who is captured by a distant planet during one of his experiements discovering new planets.  However, the community believes that he abandoned the family, rendering harsh abuse from Meg's schoolmates.  A once grade-A student, traumatized Meg's grades fall and she becomes hostile towards her peers. Her school principal Mr. Jenkins (Andre Holland) is worried, and Meg's mother Kate must find resolvement. Meanwhile, younger brother Charles Wallace, who is quite sarcastically intelligent for his age, brings home a mystic astral traveling lady named, Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), who tells the family she can find Chris.  Two other astral traveling ladies, Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey) and Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), along with schoolmate Calvin O'Keefe (Levi Miller) and Charle Wallace set off on a quest to find Dr. Alex Murry in the celestrial world.

The characterization is masterfully portrayed, as Oprah Winfrey (Mrs. Which) plays the eldest of the three "Mrs. Ws" celestrial beings, and Reese Witherspoon (Mrs. Whatsit) steals the screen as the hobo-type chatty type, while Mindy Kaling blends right in as the quotation reciting Mrs. Who.  Giving praise to a $100 million budget, this film became the first live-action film with a nine-digit budget to be directed by an African American woman.

The adventurous journey takes Meg, Charles Wallace, Calvin, and the three Mrs. Ws into another dimension where events are unlikely to occur in real life.  The sequences transcend the bounds of human possibility and physical laws.  The scenes are elements of magic, myth, wonder, and the extraordinary.   The epic CGI production drives the non-stop motion, spectacular rthym and pacing, while the adventure adds the experiences of exotic locales in outerspace.  At times the plot sets the stage for an edgy thriller, promoting inense excitement, suspense, and nerve-wracking tension.  Meanwhile, the coming of age drama weaved a story whose central character struggle is about Meg and Charles Wallace finding their place in the world.

A Wrinkle In Time is a fine family film, but does find heavy use of CGI, special effects, and too many plot holes to follow.  However, this is a film that gives congrats to celebrating its message to female empowerment and diversity.  Hooray!!


RED SPARROW review/interview by Gerald Wright

Posted by Gerald Wright on March 2, 2018 at 7:20 AM

Directed by: Francis Lawrence

Running time: 2 hours 19 minutes

Release date: March 2, 2018

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller, and Adaptation

Distributor: 20th Century Fox

MPAA Rated: R

Jason Haythe pens the screenplay of Jason Mathews' 2013 novel by the same title for the large screen.  This is a film starring Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Joely Richardson, Charlote Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker, and Jeremy Irons.  The adaptation is taken from the book synopsis of Dominika Egorova or "Red Sparrow" (Jennifer Lawrence), a former Russian premiere ballerina, who falls victim to an accident rendering her unable to ever dance again.  Her disability also renders her finacially unable to care for her ill mother Nina (Joely Richardson).  In order to maintain her lifestyle in the corrupt Russian society, her uncle Egorov (Matthias Schoenaerts) forces her to undergo espionage training for the Russian government.

This opens up the suspenseful plot of how Dominika finds herself being manipulated into being one of many people trained to sexually seduce their targets, at the Sparrow School.  Jennifer Lawrence uses the character as the vehicle the moves the story.  Other key figures are Korchnol (Jeremy Irons), a Russian double agent who provides intelligence to CIA, and Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton), a CIA internal-ops officer who recruits and handles intelligence assets for the agency.  As Dominika aka Red Sparrow masters her specific kind of assasination discipline, the specialty of psychological manipulation and seduction, her 'cat and mouse' sequences against Nate Nash becomes intensified.

The multi-layered plot offers various dimensions to the film.  The edgy thriller promotes intense excitement and high level of anticipation.  Jennifer Lawrence stretches her talent with a tastefully professional nude scene that elevates the tone of the film with erotic ultra-heightened expections, uncertainties, anxiety, and nerve-wracking tension.  Her dramatic portrayal is realistic and formidably blends with intense character interaction.  The supporting characters display high production values in their performances with engaging dramatic scope, accompanied by grandeur and spectacle for a backdrop.

In a press conference with Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, and director Francis Lawrence they offered their insight in the film production.  Francis Lawrence stated, "this is the most genre tone they (cast) and I ever done, and the authenticity was very important to me."  Jennifer Lawrence stated, "ballet was the hardest thing I ever done.  The mental and physical mindset was different."  Joel Edgerton explained, "this was an optimistic character that I enjoyed......he wanted to make the world a better place."

Red Sparrow is an emotional impacting film.  The narrative is emerging, riverting, and stimulating.  With the many twists in the movie, the structure of the various stories holds together quite well.  Crisp pacing and rthym, along with challenging performances makes this not a great film - but a solid film.


NY INT'L CHILDREN'S FILM FESTIVAL 2018 coverage by Gerald Wright

Posted by Gerald Wright on February 23, 2018 at 1:10 AM


                                    Festival dates: Feb 23 - Mar 18, 2018

Celebrating its 21st anniversity, the 2018 Festival presents four weekends of groundbreaking and thought-provoking new films carefully curated for a new generation of filmgoers ages 3 to 18.  Comprising animated, live action, and documentary features from over a dozen countries, this year's lineup includes one World premiere, three North American premieres, one U.S. premiere, and six East Coast premieres.

Highlights include the World premiere of Hilda, Luke Pearson's episodic adaptation of his celebrated graphic novel series, in which plucky Hilda sets out on adventures evoking both Scandinavian folklore and Studio Ghibil.  Among NYICFF's trio of North American premieres are Sing Song (Netherlands/Suriname), Mischa Kamp's refreshing, inventive entry to the musical genre, in which a young singer travels to Suriname in search of her roots; Clovis Comillac's beautifully shot Belle and Sebastian, Friends for Life (France), the third installment of a Festival-favorite franchise set in the Frenvh Alps circa WWII; and Luc Jacquet's March of the Penquins 2: The Newxt Step (France), a feat of cutting-edge 4K cinematography that allows audiences deep into the Artic waters to witness a new generation of emperor penquins as they trek far and wide to survive.

The Festival's signature short film programs showcases selections from around the globe and are curated from thousands of submissions, and celebrate the many international animators and filmmakers who dedicate themselves to the short film form as an art and craft unto itself.  Among the Festival's most popular offerings, these programs represent a thoughtful, innovative range of the year's finest shorts for young audiences and are consistently sold-out in advance.  Throughout the Festival, audiences are encouraged to vote on their favorite films at every screening, as Festival-goers of every age determine several of the 2018 award winners.

For tickets and information go to .


                                                    REVIEWED FILMS


Directed by: Xander de Boer

Running time: 16 minutes in Dutch with English subtitles

Genre: Documentary - Netherlands 2018

In this new program of Boys Beyond Boundaries,  this series pushes against barriers of how boys and girls should be and be seen - and how to transcend differences.

The King of Twirl is  dance-documentary about the eleven year old boy, Janero who pursues competitve twirling and faces both physical and stereotyping in what is most considered a girl's sport.  The documentary short shows Janera as a boy who can't sit still and loves dancing.  He wants to prove himself and be the best in twirl, a sport that is traditionally just for girls.  He is the only boy of his age in Northern Netherlands who competes in this sport.

Baton twirling is a sport involving the manipulation of a metal rod (baton) with the hands and body to a coordinating routine.  Competitive Baton Twirling encompasses the manipulation of a baton and the performer's body to a coordinated program of skills set to music.  This discipline requires the simultaneous blending of fundamental characteristics all set to music, utilizing time and space to display both technical merit and artistic expression in creating a total package for the viewer's eye.

It is a little weird to outsiders in Janero's case; a guy that practices with his baton day and night.  But he doesn't mind being the only boy in this sport.  With the challenges of competing against girls who have an advantage in ballet, he relies on his martial arts training for techique and strength.  His goal is to prove that twirl is not a sport for girls and win in competition.


Directed by: Jon Frickey

Running time: 11 minutes in Japanese with English subtitles

Genre: Animation - Germany/Japan 2018

In this very playfu and imaginative story a little boy named Jiro feels sick.  When his father takes him to the doctor, test reveal it is nothing serious - a cold.  

The suprising news about Jiro is that he caught the 'cat flu'.  The situation is bizarre, but a veterinarian is called in for the diagnosis.  Is young Jiro a cat or a little boy?  His family finds it challenging to deal with the results - and so will the viewing audience as they experience great hand-drawn animation on screen.


Directed by: Karla von Bengtson

Running time: 77 minutes in Danish with English subtitles

Genre: Animation - Denmark 2017

Using a comng of age scenario laced with a crime film noir backdrop, an Agatha Christie style animated story comes to life on screen.

AC or Agathe Christine is a 10 year girl who dreams of being a detective.  In the basement of the building where she, her mother, older sister, and younger brother has just moved in, she has opened her own little detective agency.  AC never goes anywhere without her detective attire, consisting of hat and her Miss Marble jacket.  She s intelligent, enterprising and a little stubborn.  Besides she is a daydreamer of mysteries, and she gets her first case one day as she encounters a boy, Vincent,  who frequents a kiosk store after business hours.

Using the primary mood and tone of melancholy, filmmaker Karla von Bengtson, weaves bleakness, disillusionment and paranoir in the storyline, as she is employed by Kiosk Arne (store owner) to find out who's stealing from him.  Her aspects to the theft is brought to mind is Vincent who lives in a house in front of her home. Vincent  is a mysterious looking skateboarder who lives with his mother, father, amd brother.  His long black hair covering his eyes gives off the aire of being suspicious.  

A major character in AC's life is her mother, a police officer who believes that they all need a new start in a new city, so AC can stop playing a detective.  Sanne, AC's big sister, also finds the detective antics is annoying. Sanne is always busy with cool stuff like hanging out with her friends.  However, AC's little brother finds this fun, as she sometimes has to take care of him.

As AC's first mysterious case looks like it is going to be simple to solve, she finds herself involved in much more complicated and story takes on intensity.  With intense character developemnet and interaction, this film becomes edgy.  Yet the coming of age drama exerts a story whose central struggle is about her finding a place in her family's warmth and the world.


BLACK PANTHER review by Gerald Wright

Posted by Gerald Wright on February 16, 2018 at 6:10 PM

Directed by: Ryan Coogler

Running time: 134 minutes

Release date: February 16, 2018

Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Adaptation

Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures

MPAA Rating: PG-13

This is an epic saga superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.  It is the 18th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).  The screenplay is from filmmaker Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole.

The cast consist of Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa/Black Panther: The king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, who gains enhanced strength by ingesting the Heart-Shaped Herb.  After the events of Captain America: Civil War, and the death of his father.  T'Challa is in mourning while ascending to the throne.  But when two enemies conspire to bring down the kingdom, T'Challa must team up, as the Black Panther, with CIA agent Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) along with is operative and T'Challa's love interest Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o), and members of Wakanda's all-female special forces Dora Milaje led by General Okoye (Danal Gurira) to prevent a world war.

In this epic saga the tone is set with elaborate adventurous themes with extravagant and lavash African costumes.  The intense character interaction is highly appreciated as Michael B. Jordan is brought into the film as the villain Erik "Killmonger" Stevens.  He is a Wakanda exile who became an American black-ops soldier and seeks to overthrow T'Challa.  He has his own opinion on how Wakanda has been ruled and should be ruled. 

However, in the background is Ramonda (Angela Bassett), the Queen Mother - T'Challa's mother - who advises T'Challa with some of the answers of what his father might want or might do.  Se may not be exactly right all the time, but she definitely has insights.  T'Challa's 16 year old sister and princess of Wanda is Shuri (Letitia Wright) who designs new technology for the country.  She has an innovative spirit and mind, and wants to take her country forward, while still holding on to her cultural past.  Another cast member is Forest Whitaker as Zuri, an elder statesman in Wakanda and the keeper of the Heart-Shaped Herb.  He is a religious and spiritual figure, and a way to reference the spirituality within Wakanda.

The plot thickens when T'Challa's mettle as king and as Black Panther gets tested when he is drawn into a conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk.  Faced with treachery and dange, the new king must rally all of his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people.

Additionally, Florence Kasumba and John Kani reprise their roles as Ayo and T'Chaka respectively from Captain America:Civil War.  Sterling K. Brown plays N'Jobu, a figure from T'Challa's past, Isaach de Bankole plays the elder of one of the larget tribes in Wakanda, and Stan Lee has a cameo.  These characters add to the high energy, big-budget physical stunts and chases with rescues, battles, fights, escapes, destructive crises (explosions, disasters, fires, etc.) non-stop motion, spectacular rhythm and pacing, and adventurous often two-dimensional 'good guy/gal' heroes and heroines battling 'bad guys' - all designed for pure audience escapism.

As an action tending to feature a resourceful hero(s), the film thrust them into a series of challenges that include physical feats, extended fight scenes and frantic chases as they struggle against incredible odds.  The majority African and African-American ensemble give formidible and engaging performances with advancements in CGI that create significant action sequences and other visual effects.  The production is visionary and imaginative in a sci-fi setting.  It takes the audience to netherworld places and another dimension where events are unlikely to occur in real life.  Yet the plot ties into a moral situation that concerns Africa pertaining to the relationship with African Americans.

Black Panther promotes suspense, a high level of anticipation, nerve-wracking tension, and ultra-heightened expectation.  It is an edgy fantastic science fiction film with a lot of eye candy.


THE 15:17 TO PARIS review b Gerald Wright

Posted by Gerald Wright on February 9, 2018 at 8:30 AM

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

Running time: 1 hour 34 minutes

Release date: February 9, 2018

Genre: Drama, Thriller, and History

Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

MPAA Rating: PG:13

From filmmaker Clint Eastwood comes the real-life story of three American men, portrayed by the real-life men, whose brave act turned them into international heroes in the prevention of a terrorist attack on a Paris bound train travelling from Amsterdam via Brussels in August 2015.  Even more so, this is a character(s) study bio-drama on these three men from their childhood to adulthood.

These men are Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler.  The film picks up as the three are school kids from Sacramento, California, whose mischievious deeds in the Freedom Christian School, forge a close bond.  William Jennings, Bryce Gheisar, and Paul-Mikel Williams respectfully portray the three youths in a fine coming of age performance.  With the focus on Spencer Stone, he grows up with a determination to serve his country and medically save lives in the U.S. Air Force.  While Alek Skarlatos joins the Marine Corp to give his support to the Afghanistan War, Anthony Sadler is left home in California to pursue an undecided career.

Using the three main characters to portray themselves, the film takes on a quasi docu-drama format, as they get on in their lives.  Having them not only play themselves, but star as the three leads in the film, would be an experiment for acclaimed filmmaker Clint Eastwood as well as for Sadler, Skarlatos, amd Stone.  Director Eastwood is quoted by saying, "these three boys really stepped up, and their efforts had a big effect on a lot of people". 

Gaining international fame, the film documents how Stone along with his fellow Americans was recognized by the U.S. Ambassador to France for his actions in saving countless lives and by U.S. President Obama with a ceremony held at the Pentagon .  Oddly enough, The U.S. Air Force broke tradition by within minutes promoting Airman First Class Stone ( a Senior Airman) to a non-commissioned officer to the rank of Staff Sergeant.  However, not shown in the film is the fact that in October 2015, Stone was severely stabbed by a California man during a fight in a downtown Sacramento club.

The 15:17 To Paris is a well structured and clever character(s) study drama of realism displaying great story development and interaction.


HOSTILES review by Gerald Wright

Posted by Gerald Wright on January 26, 2018 at 5:05 AM

Directed by: Scott Cooper

Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Release date: January 26, 2018

Genre: Drama, Western, Action, and Adaptation

Distributor: Entertainment Studios

MPAA Rating: R

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. - George Santayana.  This is a study of past events connected with a particular people, country, period, person, etc., usually written, but not always, as a chronological account.  In this American period piece western film written and directed by Scott Cooper, based on an original story by Donald E. Stewart, tells of older years of the Old West and the perils of its western plains. 

Hostiles follows a U.S. Cavalry officer Captain Joseph J. Blocker (Christian Bale) in 1892 who must escort a Cheyenne war chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi) and his family; son Black Hawk (Adam Beach);  wife of Black Hawk, Elk Woman (Q'orianka Kilcher); and Black Hawk's sister Moon Deer back to their home in Montana.  This is a sentimental request granted by the U.S. government to the dying war chief, and the soon to be retiring Captain Blocker must take on his last order.  Making the harrowing and perilous journey from Fort Berringer, an isolated Army outpost in New Mexico, to the grasslands of Montana, the former rivals in war encounter a young widow Rosalie Quaid (Rosamund Pike), whose family family was murdered on the plains by natives.  This suicidal woman joins the band of escorted travelers across treacherous terrain, which determines acceptance of differences.

This is an epic historical costume drama that cover a large expanse of time set against a vast panoramic backdrop.  It is a film that shares elements of the elaborate adventure films genre, taking on an historical time in American society with an extravagant outdoors prairie setting and spectacle.  

The characterization maintains a high standard with brilliant performances all around.  The cast share dramatic scope, high production values, and grandeur.  Each member of the cast add to a serious plot-driven presentation, portraying realistic characters, settings, life situations, and stories involving intense character development and interaction. 

As a western, the film is a major defining genre of the American film industry.  It is a eulogy to the early days of the expansive American frontier.  It is also, one of the oldest, most enduring genres with very recognizable plots, elements, and characters (six-guns, horses, dusty towns and trails, and Native Americans).  Suspensefully structured and edgy in its delvery, Hostiles promotes a high level of anticipation, ultra-heightened expectation, uncertainty, anxiety, and nerve-wracking tension.  The texture of the film displays authentic harshness of the times and the gritty performances of life during this era of American history.  These are stories whose central struggle plays out in the midst of a clash of great forces and in the sweep of great historical change.  It is also stories whose central struggle is between a problem and injustice in society where there is a personal stake in the outcome of the struggle, delivering an episodic string of picaresque adventures.   This compliments the brilliant cinematography.

Hostiles is a methodically pace brilliant film that recaptures the life and times of the American frontier in the 19th century.