Reviewed Films Include:
In Theaters: Feb 13, 2015 Limited
Runtime: 2 hr. 3 min.
Studio: 40 Acres & a Mule Filmworks
Distributor: Gravitas Ventures
The Kickstarter page where Spike Lee raised $1,418,910 from fans for his latest “Joint” expressly states that the money would not used to shoot a remake of Blacula (1972). But it also failed to inform investors that the crowdfunded feature was ostensibly-inspired by another Blaxploitation era horror flick, namely, Ganja & Hess (1973). And after screening this disappointing indie, it’s obvious there was no reason to redo that picture either. Read More
In Theaters: Dec 25, 2014 Limited, Jan 9, 2014 Wide
PG-13 (for disturbing thematic material including violence, a suggestive
moment, and brief strong language)
Runtime: 2 hr. 7 min.
Directed By: Ava DuVernay
Written By: Paul Webb, Ava DuVernay
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Believe it or not, this moving biopic is the first, full-length feature ever made revolving around Dr. Martin Luther King. That oversight is only apt to further enhance the film’s stock value when it goes wide in theaters right before Dr. King’s birthday and the eagerly-anticipated awards season. Read More
In Theaters: Dec 19, 2014 Wide
Rated PG for mild epithets and rude humor
Running time: 118 minutes
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
PG (for some mild language and rude humor)
Genre: Drama , Kids & Family, Musical & Performing Arts
Directed By: Will Gluck
Written By: Emma Thompson , Thomas Meehan , Aline Brosh McKenna
A 21st Century variation on the age-old theme where an insufferable 1%-er finally gets in touch with his sensitive side with the help of an irresistible ragamuffin representing the downtrodden rest of humanity. Read More
In Theaters: Dec 12, 2014 Wide
R (for strong sexual content, nudity, crude humor, language throughout
and some drug use)
Running time: 1 hr. 41 min.
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Written and Directed By: Chris Rock
Top Five features Chris Rock as Andre Allen, a comedian who has become too closely associated with “Hammy the Bear,” the popular protagonist of a humor-driven film franchise. Consequently, he’s been having a hard time making the transition to dramatic roles. Read More
In Theaters: Nov 28, 2014 Limited
Rated PG-13 for PG-13 for action and sci-fi violence
Running time: 87 minutes
Studio: SimonSays Entertainment
Directed by Mike Brown, 25 to Life is reverential biopic that revisits all of the above, opting to present Bill in a positive light despite his risky behavior with a string of sex partners. Granted, it’s great that he ultimately embraced honesty and even settled down and got married, but it would’ve been nice to hear from his former conquests to learn how they felt about being used and whether they’ve tested positive for the AIDS virus. Read More
In Theaters: Nov 14, 2014 Wide
Rated PG-13 for sexuality, profanity, suggestive gestures, partial nudity
and matures themes
Running time: 1 hr. 42 min.
Written and Directed By: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Distributor: Relativity Media
Beyond the Lights, a steamy romantic romp written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Secret Life of Bees and Love & Basketball). Don’t be duped into thinking that you’ve seen this same story somewhere before, given how the plot is vaguely reminiscent of Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner’s The Bodyguard (1992). Read More
In Theaters: Oct 17, 2014 Limited
On DVD: Feb 3, 2015
Rated R for profanity, ethnic and sexual preference slurs, sexuality and
Running time: 1 hr. 48 min.
Genre: Drama , Comedy
Directed By: Justin Simien
Written By: Justin Simien
Distributor: Roadside Attractions
…director Simien pulls a couple of rabbits out of his hat while lacing his dialogue with pithy lines (“Learn to modulate your blackness up or down depending on the crowd and what you want from them.”) and touching on a litany of hot button issues ranging from Affirmative Action to Tyler Perry. Read More
In Theaters: Sep 26, 2014 Wide
Rated R for graphic violence, sexual references and pervasive profanity
Running time: 131 minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Mystery & Suspense
Directed By: Antoine Fuqua
Written By: Richard Wenk
On the surface, Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) is a perfectly-pleasant, hail fellow well met. By day, the affable widower is employed as a sales associate at a hardware superstore where he jokes with co-workers who call him “Pops.” Evenings, he retires to a modest apartment in a working-class, Boston community, although bouts of insomnia often have him descending to a nearby diner to read a book into the wee hours of the morning. Read More
In Theaters: Sep 12, 2014 Limited
Rated PG for smoking, mild epithets and mature themes
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Musical & Performing Arts, Documentary
Directed By: Martin Shore
Written By: Rick Clark, Jerry Harrison
Produced By: Martin Shore, Jerry Harrison, Cody Dickinson, Lawrence "Boo" Mitchell, and Dan Sameha
A lot of great soul music came out of Memphis in the Sixties and early Seventies. Stax Records launched the careers of acts like Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes and Booker T. and the MGs while its cross-town rival Hi Records had Al Green, Ann Peebles and O.V. Wright.Take Me to the River is a reverential retrospective which is a combination tribute to the city’s impressive legacy and a tip of the cap to some up-and-coming artists still recording in the region. . Read More
In Theaters: Aug 1, 2014 Wide
Rated PG-13 for sexuality, drug use, profanity and violence
Running time: 2 hr. 18 min.
Directed By: Tate Taylor
Written By: Steven Baigelman, Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Just last year, Chadwick Boseman successfully channeled the spirit of Jackie Robinson in 42, a powerful biopic about the Hall of Fame great who made history when he integrated Major League Baseball in 1947. In Get on Up, the gifted young actor is already impersonating another legendary African-American, the Godfather of Soul, James Brown (1933-2006). Read More
In Theaters: Jun 26, 2014 Limited
DVD Release Date: July 4, 2014
Unrated, 1 hr. 40 min.
Directed By: Tariq Nasheed
Studio: King Flex Entertainment
Actors: David Banner, Paul Mooney, Dick Gregory, Nas, Tariq Nasheed
Running time: 84 minutes
Distributor: Pierre Films
In Theaters: Jun 20, 2014 Wide
Rated PG-13 for profanity, drug use, crude humor, sexual references and
Running time: 106 minutes
Distributor: Screen Gems
Directed By: Tim Story
Written By: Keith Merryman, David A. Newman, Steve Harvey
The surprise hit Think Like a Man was #1 at the box-office over its opening weekend back in April of 2012. Inspired by Steve Harvey’s best-selling, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, the original explored some of the serious issues tackled by the popular, relationship advice book by examining the angst of four couples in relationship crisis.
This go round, director Tim Story has abandoned the source material in favor of a screwball adventure that unfolds more like a blend of The Hangover and Bridesmaids, madcap movies about a bachelor and bachelorette party, respectively. Think Like a Man Too endeavors to increase the ante by featuring both a bachelor and bachelorette party. Read the full film review.
In Theaters: May 16, 2014 Limited
Rated R for violence and sexuality
Running time: 113 minutes
Distributor: Monterey Media
Directed By: Biyi Bandele
Written By: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Twins Kainene (Anika Noni Rose) and Olanna (Thandie Newton) hail from a well-to-do Nigerian family well-enough connected to send them overseas to college where they majored in business and sociology, respectively. Ironically, while the sisters were acquiring a first-rate Western education in England, the independence movement back home was seeking to sever its ties with Great Britain.
After graduating in the early Sixties, they returned to Lagos to launch their careers, only to land in distracting love affairs. Attractive Olanna became the mistress of Odenigbo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), an outspoken college professor who’d caught the anti-colonial fever, whereas willful Kainene entertained the advances of Richard (Joseph Mawle), a white expatriate writing a book about African art. Read the full film review.
In Theaters: May 2, 2014 Limited
Rated PG for smoking, mature themes and ethnic insensitivity.
Running time: 104 minutes
Directed By: Amma Asante
Written By: Misan Sagay
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Born in the West Indies in 1761, Dido Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) was the product of the taboo union of Mary Belle, an African slave, and John Lindsay (Matthew Goode), a British ship captain. Upon Mary’s death, the concerned father brought his 8 year-old daughter to England to see whether his well-heeled aunt and uncle might be willing to take her in.
After all, Lady (Emily Watson) and Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) had just adopted another niece whose own mom had passed away. Plus, since Dido and Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) were about the same age, the orphaned girls could conceivably keep each other company. Read the full film review.
In Theaters: Apr 25, 2014 Wide
Rated PG for mild epithets and mature themes
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed By: Pierre Bagley
Written By: Mike Critelli, Pierre Bagley
Distributor: Freestyle Releasing
Catana Starks was serving as the female swim coach at Tennessee State University (TSU), when she learned that the school’s Athletic Director, Kendrick Paulsen, Jr. (Henry Simmons), was planning to form a golf team. Since golf had always been her first love, she approached him about becoming the new squad’s head coach.
Her first hurdle, however, was convincing him that despite being female, she’d be able to field and manage an all-male squad. Second, she’d have to fill the roster with some promising prospects. Read the full film review.
In Theaters: Apr 18, 2014 Wide
Running time: 87 minutes
Rated R for violence, graphic sexuality, frontal nudity, drug use, ethnic slurs and pervasive profanity
Directed By: Michael Tiddes
Written By: Marlon Wayans, Rick Alvarez
Distributor: Open Road Films
A Haunted House, an irreverent spoof of Paranormal Activity, co-starred Marlon Wayans and Essence Atkins as Malcolm and Kisha, a couple whose home was invaded by demonic forces. Along the way, Kisha, became possessed by the devil and turned on exasperated Malcolm, despite an exorcism performed by a priest (Cedric the Entertainer).
All of the above are back for A Haunted House 2, a jaw-dropping sequel which ups the ante in terms of gratuitous gore, sexuality, nudity, profanity and use of the N-word. Nevertheless, the review-proof teensploitation flick is apt to appeal to the same folks who made the original such a runaway hit. Read the full film review
In Theaters: Mar 14, 2014 Wide
Rated PG-13 for sexuality and mature themes
Running time: 111 minutes
Directed By: Tyler Perry
Written By: Tyler Perry
Distributor: Lionsgate Films
Fast-food waitress Lytia (Cocoa Brown) survives paycheck to paycheck and has to rely on public transportation to get around. By contrast, Jan (Wendi McLendon-Covey), an ambitious executive at a prominent publishing company, has many modern amenities and a luxury automobile at her disposal.
Meanwhile, May (Nia Long) is unemployed but dreams of a career in journalism. Then there’s Hillary (Amy Smart), a recent divorcee who’s a bit overwhelmed about the prospect of raising her kids alone in suburbia. And finally, frightened Esperanza (Zulay Henao) has been reduced to cowering and hiding from an abusive ex-husband (Eddie Cibrian) who has continued to threaten her long after their separation. Read the full film review.
In Theaters: Feb 28, 2014 Limited
Rated R for profanity, violence and torture
Running time: 90 minutes
Mystery & Suspense, Horror
Directed By: Philippe Caland
Written By: Shintaro Shimosawa, Philippe Caland
Studio: Code Black Films
Distributor: Lionsgate Films
Therapist Thomas Carter (Anthony Mackie) has just published a popular self-help book about the near death experience which helped him turn his life around. He is proud of the fact that after almost perishing in a horrific, alcohol-related car crash in his teens, he eventually not only earned graduate degrees in World Religion and Clinical Psychology but went on to wed his soul mate, Maggie (Sanaa Lathan).
Today, Tommy has a happy marriage and a flourishing practice founded on a spiritual philosophy combining faith and positive thinking. But sadly, his enviable fortunes have proven to be the polar opposite of his wayward brother Ben’s (Mike Epps) lot. Read the full film review.
In Theaters: Jan 17, 2014 Limited
Rated PG-13 for drug use, violent images and mature themes
Running time: 100 minutes
Directed By: Jake Goldberger
Written By: Jake Goldberger, David Scott, Dan Wetzel
Distributor: Millennium Entertainment
Eugene Brown (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) was so worried about returning to his neighborhood in inner-city Washington, DC after serving 17 years for bank robbery that he shared his concern with his cellmate Searcy (Dennis Haysbert). The wise, old elder responded by making an analogy between life and the game of chess amounting to the simple suggestion “Take care of the king.”
He also handed Eugene a chess piece, hoping it might serve as a constant reminder to avoid trouble by employing fundamental game strategy. And that practical piece of advice would come in handy, especially since landing employment would turn out to be quite a challenge, given his criminal record. Read the full film review.