Opening This Month: September 2015

Posted on September 1, 2015 at 3:24 pm

Happy September! Fall is when we see fewer sequels, superheroes and shootouts, more dramas based on real stories or best-selling books. Here’s what we have to look forward to this month:

September 2

A Walk in the Woods Bill Bryson’s book about his trek through the Appalachian Trail is now a film starring Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, and Emma Thompson.

September 4

Learning to Drive Katha Pollitt’s essay about getting her first driver’s license after a breakup has been softened a bit for this movie with Patricia Clarkson and Sir Ben Kingsley.

Transporter Refueled Newcomer Ed Skrein takes over the role of the implacable driver for hire, this time driving three gorgeous female bank robbers in Sia wigs.

September 11

The Visit M. Night Shyamalan returned to spookiness with this story of children who find there is some very, very creepy stuff going on in their grandparents’ house.

The Perfect Guy A lobbyist played by Sanaa Lathan gets into an intense and steamy rebound relationship after a painful breakup. She is flattered by his attention, but then….

September 18

Black Mass Johnny Depp plays one of the most notorious gangsters of the century, Boston’s Whitey Bulger, at times an FBI informant, and now in prison for 19 murders.

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials They escaped the maze in the first film. Now what’s beyond the maze is even more dangerous.

September 25

Hotel Transylvania 2 All the spooks and monsters are back, as Mavis (Selena Gomez) and Jonathan (Andy Samberg) have a baby and grandpa Dracula (Adam Sandler) wants to make sure his grandchild continues his vampire heritage.

The Intern Writer-director Nancy Meyers (“It’s Complicated”) has two Oscar winners in this film: Anne Hathaway as a harried mom with a quickly expanding business and Robert De Niro as a retired executive who becomes her intern.

99 Homes Andrew Garfield, Laura Dern, and Michael Shannon star in this searing drama about desperate people trying to make the best of a collapsing economy, surrounded by foreclosed homes.

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Opening This Month Trailers, Previews, and Clips

Interview: Michael Ealy and Meagan Good of “Think Like a Man Too”

Posted on June 22, 2014 at 9:32 am

ealy goodI am a huge fan of Michael Ealy and Meagan Good and it was a lot of fun to talk to them about “Think Like a Man Too.”

Meagan, I loved your performance of Bell Biv DeVoe’s classic “Poison!”

MG: It was an evolution. Initially the song was supposed to be En Vogue’s “Never Gonna Get It.” We were all excited to learn the words and everything and then they were like, “You know what, we want to do ‘Poison’ instead.” We actually went into the studio and recorded it and all of us girls sounded like pretty bad except for Taraji who really sings. And then we got the set and we literally just sang to our own voices basically. And we did it for two days and it was like the easiest thing because you don’t have to do anything, just come to work, show up, have fun,be silly, laugh, joke, crowd surf, whatever it is you’re doing that day, it was just a lot of fun. It was actually just like going to a party.

Michael, I have heard that the hardest thing for actor is to play a nice person and your character is the nicest person of all of the characters. With so many colorful characters around you, with Kevin Hart being so extreme, how do you create a character who is nice but doesn’t get lost in all the hubub?

ME: I think it’s knowing who you are playing with. Like you said, Kevin Hart is at decibel 10 throughout the film and if you don’t have something to kind of ground that it could be a bit overwhelming. And having done three films with Kevin I know exactly where I need to be in every scene and it’s usually the straight guy, I think of Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin.  And I have so much fun doing it. Dominique’s sincerity was in my opinion in the words especially in the first script, so love to Keith and David for writing such a character that is kind of endearing in that way.

Meagan, your character is very fashion oriented.  How did you create her look?

MG: Shout out to  Salvador Pérez Jr., who did an incredible job.  I really wanted to do something that I felt a little bit out of the box and I wanted her to kind of have more like a rocker vibe and something that was like a little ‘vintage-y’ but a lot more on the edgy side and with that rocker-esque thing. So we did a lot of cuffs and we did a lot of shirts that were cut out in the side and just different stuff like that and for me, I felt like there is always that girl but she doesn’t always get represented. So that’s what I’m trying to do.

You can tell me.  Behind the scenes, did you guys have some real fun in Vegas?

ME: The first two weeks I think everybody was like, “Yeah, we’re going to party. We’re going to do Vegas. We’ll do Vegas, get some stories.” And literally that work schedule just kind of knocked all of that out. We did like the first week, we hung out with Kevin at a party but that was about it and after that it was like we need to film  in the casinos during the off hours , when there are still people in there playing but it is not nearly as crowded. That’s when the casinos gave us permission to shoot. So we would have to sleep from five or six in the evening until midnight, wake up, go to work, go do hair and makeup, be ready to shoot by 2:00 AM. So our hours were so off at a certain point, we were starting to become vampires, it was just crazy. And then we did all the daytime stuff and it was just awkward. And we were there for two months.  Vegas is a place you stay for two days.  Needless to say, we all kind of got to the point where it was like, “Yeah…  How many days left, I’ve got to get out of here.”

Meagan, you had to be angry and frustrated in a comic way without going over the top.  You kept the character sweet and gave her a lot of depth. And all of that opposite Romany Malco, who has a lot of energy, too.  

MG: I think me and Romany have very good chemistry. We both kind of refer to ourselves as aliens because we are the same kind kind of awkward in a way which works out very well. But I think it’s the chemistry and I also try to be very conscious of not being in the way. I did not want to be that girl that’s always like, “He’s not doing what I want him to do.” Just whining and being obnoxious.  I tried to be very conscious of that and still be sincere with the frustration and anxiety but not play it in a way that comes off obnoxious; which is kind what I believe in real life too,  just bring it all the way back, to be honest but relaxed.

So are we going to have a third one?

MG: We hope so.

ME:  It’s up to the fans. It really is up to the fans, I mean we weren’t anticipating a second one so the fans dictated the second one and the fans dictate the third one.

You encourage people to Tweet and Facebook to get the word out. How has social media changed the way that people find movies? Are you guys both on Twitter?

MG: Yes.

ME: Yes. I joined right before the first film at the request of my publicist. I remember talking to Meg  and neither of us were really enthusiastic about it and then we both got TV shows and you have to push and you have to interact with your fans weekly. So you just kind of get better at it almost naturally and then you kind of see the power. So the things that you are able to do, the charity organizations that you work with and what you are able to do not just for your own self promotion. It is a powerful, powerful tool and I do think it is a good way to motivate people and create some sort of movement and I think the social media effect on Think like a Man was probably like responsible for about 70% of the box office. That was one of the most powerful campaigns on social media that I think there ever was.  We all learned on the first that you can just buy into the system, reach out to the grassroots and watch what happens.

What are the most important lessons people have learned from these films about male/female relationships?

MG: My gosh, that we are very different! Which I think is important. I think it’s very important to recognize that in a real way because what’s common sense to him is not common sense to me. What’s common sense to me is not common sense to him and so if you can really understand that then you can start to understand the person better or if you are not seeing eye to eye on something, there is more of a respect level just because you understand that you see it very differently, not just that you disagree.  The interesting thing is that people walk away saying, “Well, I am a Dominique” or “I am a Maya” or “ I am a Maya mixed with Lori” and people kind of see themselves in our relationships.

ME:  Yeah. That’s the coolest part.

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Actors Interview

Think Like a Man Too

Posted on June 19, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Think-Like-a-Man-Too-Poster-647x472A romantic comedy based on Steve Harvey’s book of advice for women about relationships has now led to a sequel based on finding the slightest possible premise for getting the gang back together to see if they can create some more box office magic.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  After all, seeing pretty people do silly things so they can kiss and make up is always a good reason to go to a movie.  And these are some of Hollywood’s most appealing performers.

In the first film, a group of buddies with a regular basketball game find themselves flummoxed by a bevy of beauties who read Steve Harvey’s book for tips on dealing with players, mama’s boys, and perpetual adolescents.  The happily ever after ending has now led to a proposal and the whole group is going to Las Vegas for separate wild pre-nuptial parties followed by the wedding itself.  When the groom-to-be assures his bride that everything will be perfect and nothing can possibly go wrong, we know that nothing will be perfect and everything will go wrong in the most humiliating way possible until we find our way to another happy ending with a possible opening for #3, which I hereby predict will involve a baby or two.

Would-be chef Dom (Michael Ealy) and corporate powerhouse Lauren (Taraji P. Henson) are deeply in love but struggling with job opportunities in different cities that they are afraid to tell one another.  Mya (Meagan Good) is not happy to run into stories about the wild past of “Zeke the Freak” (Romany Malco). Kristen (Gabrielle Union) wants to get pregnant as quickly as possible and that puts a lot of pressure on Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara).

But the development that has the biggest impact on the film is the one that happened off-screen.  Since the first one was released, Kevin Hart has become a box office powerhouse with a concert film in 2013 and two enormously successful comedies already in 2014 (About Last Night and Ride Along).  This is most likely the reason that he takes up so much more of “Too” than he did in the first one.  And since is a very loud guy, he seems to take up even more than he does, too often with all the appeal of a buzzing mosquito.

The entire premise of the first film is jettisoned, along with any aspirations beyond silly fun.  It takes Cedric (Hart) far too long to figure out that he has mistakenly booked himself into a room that costs ten times what he thinks, because every time there is any possibility to mitigate the damages of whatever he has gotten himself into, he blusters like a bantam rooster to block any kind of reality check from the other characters.  And this is close to the movie’s most plausible plotline.  Even Lucy and Ethel could not make us believe that anyone cares whether the boys or the girls have a wilder pre-nuptial party.  Director Tim Story throws in every possible signifier of movie fun, from a makeover (“Bridesmaids'” Wendy McLendon-Covey) to a dance number (okay, the girls’ dancing to Bell Biv DeVoe’s irresistible “Poison” is a treat) and the ever-popular night in the pokey plus the completely superfluous addition of a couple of cute white guys (Adam Brody and “About a Boy’s” David Walton.

The cast is clearly just here to have a good time, and the audience will, too.

Parents should know that this film includes some strong language including crude sexual references and humor, sexual situations, strippers, drinking and drunkenness, and drug use, along with a lot of foolish Las Vegas behavior.

Family discussion:  What were the groups trying to accomplish in their pre-nuptial parties?  Which couple has the strongest relationship?

If you like this, try: the first film and “About Last Night” (rated R), also featuring Hart, Ealy, and Hall.

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Based on a book Comedy Date movie Romance Series/Sequel

About Last Night

Posted on February 13, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating: Rated R for for sexual content, language and brief drug use
Profanity: Very strong, crude, and explicit language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking, drunkenness, scenes bars, marijuana
Violence/ Scariness: Comic peril
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters
Date Released to Theaters: February 14, 2014

about-last-night03Kevin Hart, who starred in the surprisingly successful “Ride Along” just last month, is back with a much sharper, funnier comedy that is ideal for making the best use of his brash, motormouth persona. Even more important, for the first time Hart appears opposite someone who is every bit his match, the fabulously talented and knock-out gorgeous Regina Hall. It’s one of the best on-screen romantic pairings since Mae West and W.C. Fields.  As a funny post-credit scene shows, she not only kept up with him every step of the way, she challenged him to do better.  It is clear he is not only upping his game but having a blast.

David Mamet’s play “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” was softened a bit for its 1986 movie version, also called “About Last Night,” a romantic comedy starring Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, Jim Belushi, and Elizabeth Perkins. But it was still, for its time, provocatively frank in its portrayal of two couples who were navigating a world that was post Mr. Goodbar but pre-AIDS, pre-Tinder, and pre use of the term “booty call.”

Like the original, there is a serious couple and a comic couple. As the movie begins, Bernie (Hart) and Joan (Hall) are each giving their best friends all the details (and I mean all) of the wild, drunken sex within moments of meeting at a bar the night before. Their friends are Danny (Michael Ealy, with a lot of leading man sizzle) and Debbie (Joy Bryant, with one of the best smiles in Hollywood), both serious, stable, and gunshy about relationships following some bad experiences. Bernie and Joan bring their friends along to their second meeting, otherwise known as the “this isn’t a date date.”  Bernie and Joan introduce them to each other as “boring,” and that, more than any other reason, prompts them to try to interact and prove that it isn’t true.  “I’m not really boring,” Debbie explains.  “I just pretend to be so she can be the crazy one.”  Debbie and Danny have sex within hours after meeting, uncharacteristic impulsivity for both of them, and then they worry about what it all means.

Danny and Debbie end up moving in together but poor communication, struggles with intimacy, and Danny’s insecurity over losing his job while Debbie is professionally accomplished. No one seems to know what it means to have sex, to live with someone, to say “I love you” first, to decide to get a puppy. And no one is clear about what it should mean — Danny and Debbie want to have a relationship (most of the time) but sometimes it scares them. And when one of them gets scared, the other’s feelings get hurt.

What keeps this part of the story from bogging things down is the energy and oh-no-you-didn’t outrageousness of the bicker/banter, which starts out down and dirty and then gets even down and dirtier.  From the opening blast of “Sex Machine” through a series of hilariously explicit conversations swinging back and forth between confident assertions about the most intimate specifics and panicked cluelessness about the basics of any form of interaction out of bed.  So, there’s a lot of theories about how to behave and a lot of failure to carry it off.  Danny’s problems at work and with an ex are under-written distractions that don’t work as well as the silly fun of a costume party that has Danny and Debbie dressed as Ike and Tina Turner.  The energy and chemistry of the four leads keeps things moving so briskly that it diminishes the familiarity of the material.  And, more important, it keeps us hoping for a happy ending.

Parents should know that this is a very raunchy comedy. It features extremely explicit sexual references and situations, sexual humor including many jokes about casual sex and various sexual acts and body parts, drinking and drunkenness, drinking games, and marijuana.

Family discussion: Why did Danny keep asking Debbie if they were fighting? Why did Bertie and Joan enjoy making each other angry?

If you like this, try: the original version, starring Rob Lowe and Demi Moore (briefly glimpsed in this remake), “He’s Just Not That Into You,” and “Think Like a Man”

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Based on a play Comedy Movies -- format Remake Romance


Posted on March 5, 2013 at 10:57 am

This faith-based drama stars two top performers who give its fact-based story the sweetness and spirit that is sometimes lacking in the heartfelt but uneven script.

Lynn Collins (“The Merchant of Venice,” “John Carter”) plays author Samantha Crawford, who is devastated by the shocking death of her husband, killed in an unsolved shooting.  Feeling that she has no reason to live, she resolves to kill herself on the spot where he was murdered.  Just as she is about to pull the trigger, she sees a young girl hit by a car.  She runs over to help her, and at the hospital she runs into a close friend from her childhood she had not seen in years, Joe Bradford (Michael Ealy of “Barbershop” and “Think Like a Man”).  They are very happy to be reunited and Samantha learns that Joe is a beloved community activist, caring for the poor and neglected children in the inner city.

Samantha is drawn to join Joe in helping the children.  But she has another reason for visiting him in the projects.  She thinks she may have a clue to finding the man responsible for killing her husband.  As she thinks about the time she spent with Joe when they were in school and learns more about where he was and what he learned that made him the kind and patient man the kids love and rely on, she feels her soul healing and expanding.

Parents should know that there are some violent scenes and some sad deaths.

Family discussion:  What did Joe learn from his time in prison?  Why were Joe and Samantha friends?  Were you surprised by what Samantha discovered about the night her husband died?  Who do you know who is like Joe?

If you like this, try: “Touchback”

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Based on a true story Drama Spiritual films
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