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May, 2016

Nerds masquerade as hardened gangstas

Movies: Rell (Jordan Peele) was so inconsolable after being dumped by his girlfriend that getting high didn’t help ease the pain. But then, while crying on the shoulder of his cousin Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key), a cute, little kitten appeared on his doorstep. Comments (1).

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Beautiful Something (Unrated) Homoerotic ensemble drama following the fates of four gay males (Colman Domingo, Zack Ryan, John Lescault and Brian Sheppard) dealing with relationships over the course of one very eventful evening. With David Melissaratos, Grant Lancaster and Matthew Rios. Comment.

April, 2016

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: 3rd Street Blackout (Unrated) Romantic comedy about a tech-addicted couple (Negin Farsad and Jeremy Redleaf) forced by a Huirricane Sandy power outage to face each other sans electronic devices. With Janeane Garofalo, Devin Ratray and Ed Weeks. Comment.

Saldana successfully channels Simone in biopic

Movies: Most of the pre-release buzz surrounding this controversial biopic has swirled around the debate about Zoe Saldana’s darkening her skin, donning an afro wig and wearing a prosthetic nose to portray Nina Simone (1933-2003). Comment.

Brain-altered convict chases int’l terrorists

Movies: CIA Agent Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds) was in London on assignment to deliver a ransom to a computer hacker called the “The Dutchman” (Michael Pitt) when he was assassinated en route by a terrorist (Jordi Molla) with a vicious gun moll (Antje Traue). This would ordinarily be a big loss for the Agency, given the veteran spy’s talents and abilities. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Compadres (Unrated) Unlikely-buddies action thriller about a disgraced ex-cop (Omar Chaparro) who joins forces with a young hacker (Joey Morgan) to exact revenge on the mobster (Erick Elias) who kidnapped his girlfriend (Aislinn Derbez) and framed him for a crime he didn’t commit. With Kevin Pollak, Eric Roberts and Hector Jimenez. Comment.

Shaken fireman faces moment of truth

Movies: Caleb Abrams (Jensen Atwood) is single today only because his former fiancee, Asia (Michelle D. Ivy), broke off their engagement the night before the wedding. During the year since, the buff Baltimore fireman has rededicated himself to his career while pursuing a love of painting in his spare time. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: 13 Cameras (Unrated) Psychological thriller about a couple of newlyweds (PJ McCabe and Brianne Moncrief) whose Peeping Tom landlord (Neville Archambault) invades their privacy by secretly installing surveillance cameras all around their new home. With Sarah Baldwin, Sean Carrigan and Jim Cummings. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Hardcore Henry (R for pervasive profanity, incessant mayhem and graphic violence, sexuality, nudity and drug use) Revenge thriller, set in Moscow, about a vigilante’s attempt to rescue his wife (Haley Bennett) who’s been kidnapped by a Russian warlord (Danila Kozlovsky) with an army of assassins. Cast includes Sharlto Copley, Tim Roth and Will Stewart. (In English and Russian with subtitles) Comment.

March, 2016

Man of Steel against the Caped Crusader

Movies: Let’s face it, Christian Bale’s Batman was going to be a hard act for any actor to follow, especially Ben Affleck who had already proved underwhelming as a superhero when he played Daredevil back in 2003. And the departure from the franchise of Chris Nolan, the legendary director of the critically-acclaimed Dark Knight trilogy, only served to lower expectations even further. Comment.

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Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Catching the Sun (Unrated) Green economy documentary extolling the efforts of entrepreneurs in the U.S. and China to capitalize on the race to solar energy Comment.

A trendy variation on ‘The Big Chill’

Movies: Bodhi was a popular guy back in high school several years ago. So, when he passed away unexpectedly from an aneurysm, it’s no surprise that many of his friends might decide to return home to attend the funeral. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Bleed (Unrated) Horror flick about a couple of newlyweds (Chelsey Crisp and Michael Steger) who come to regret inviting their friends to participate in a ghost hunt on the grounds of an abandoned prison that turns out to be really haunted. With Riley Smith, Elimu Nelson, David Yow and Lyndon Smith. Comment.

12-year-old recovers from incurable illness

Movies: Annabel Beam (Kylie Rogers) was born in Burleson, Texas where she was raised by her parents on a farm surrounded by cats, dogs, goats, cows and a donkey. She enjoyed an idyllic childhood there with her sisters, Abbie (Brighton Sharbino) and Adelynn (Courtney Fansler), until the age of 10 when she started experiencing severe stomach pains. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: The Confirmation (PG-13 for mature themes) Dysfunctional family comedy about a cash-strapped carpenter’s (Clive Owen) attempt to reconcile with his estranged, eight-year-old son (Jaeden Lieberher) who’s been dropped in his lap while his ex-wife (Maria Bello) is away on a weekend retreat with her new husband (Matthew Modine). Support cast includes Robert Forster, Tim Blake Nelson, Patton Oswalt, Spencer Drever and Stephen Tobolowosky. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: About Scout (Unrated) Unlikely-buddies drama about a 15-year-old Goth girl (India Enninga) who embarks with a suicidal stranger (James Frecheville) on a road trip across Texas in search of her missing little sister (Onata Aprile). Featuring Danny Glover, Ellen Burstyn, Jane Seymour and Nikki Reed. Comment.

Cultural clash: Radical Islam and Malian culture

Movies: In 2012, radical jihadists invaded the country of Mali from the north. Even though the population was already 98 percent Muslim, the uncompromising religious zealots declared Sharia the law of the land. Comment.

February, 2016

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Ava’s Possessions (R for profanity, sexuality and graphic images) Louisa Krause plays the title character in this horror flick as a woman who has her demons exorcised by a priest (John Ventimiglia) only to have them try to reenter her body. With Carol Kane, Wiliam Sadler and Jemima Kirke. Comment.

‘Art Connect’ sheds positive light on Laventille

Movies: No matter where you are in the world, there is always a neighborhood, section, or block in a particular place that carries some sort of bad reputation. Comment.

Jesse Owens’ triumphs at 1936 Berlin Olympics

Movies: Jesse Owens (Stephan James) is famous for winning four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics staged in Berlin. The and track and field events events in which he competed included the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash, the long jump and the 4 x 100-meter relay race. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Backtrack (R for profanity, violence and disturbing images) Psychological thriller about a shrink (Adrien Brody) who starts questioning his own sanity after discovering that his patients are ghosts. With Robin McLeavy, Bruce Spence and Jenni Baird. Comment.

Newcomer samples Manhattan singles scene

Movies: When Alice (Dakota Johnson) graduated from college, it would have been very easy for her to settle down with her college sweetheart of four years. After all, Josh (Nicholas Braun) was not only a nice guy with a promising future but very eager to marry and start a family. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Busco Novio Para Mi Mujer (PG-13 for sexuality, profanity and smoking) Midlife crisis comedy about a henpecked husband (Arath de la Torre) who decides to get out of the marriage by hiring a professional seducer (Jesus Ochoa) to steal the heart of his annoying wife (Sandra Echeverria). Comment.

Pedophile priests repent at secluded retreat

Movies: The critically-acclaimed Spotlight recently addressed the problem of pedophilia in the priesthood from the point of view of the victims. But if you’re looking for a take on the issue more sympathetic to the perpetrators, have I got a movie for you. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong (Unrated) Romantic comedy revolving around the love which blossoms between an Asian-American (Jamie Chung) visiting Hong Kong for the very first time and the white guy (Bryan Greenberg) giving her a tour of the city. With Sarah Lian, Jaeden Cheng and Richard Ng. Comment.

Father and warrior protect baby monster

Movies: Directed by Raman Hui (Shrek the Third), “Monster Hunt” was released across Asia last summer where it became the highest-grossing Chinese film of all time. The version I watched was dubbed into English, which served to turn the martial arts / comedy mash-up into a decidedly campy affair. Comment.

January, 2016

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: 4th Man Out (Unrated) Out-of-the-closet dramedy, set in upstate New York, about a small-town auto mechanic (Evan Todd) who surprises his straight buddies by announcing he’s gay on his 24th birthday. With Parker Young, Chord Overstreet and Jon Gabrus. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Everybody’s Fine (Unrated) Bittersweet character study, set in Beijing, revolving around a recently-widowed retiree (Guoli Zhang) who is agonizing over his four children’s (He Chen, Chen Yao, Shawn Duo and Ye Qianyun) failure to return home for the family’s annual summer reunion. (In Mandarin with subtitles) Comment.

Playwright, pensioner forge unlikely friendship

Movies: “The Lady in the Van” Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Exposed (R for profanity, violence and rape) Supernatural thriller about an attractive Latina (Ana de Armas) who witnesses a miracle before being befriended by a cop (Keanu Reeves) investigating his partner’s mysterious death. With Big Daddy Kane, Mira Sorvino and Christopher McDonald. Comment.

A blackface variation of ‘Babe’ with street cred

Movies: In 1965, the federal government issued the historic Moynihan Report chronicling the collapse of “The Negro Family” which it blamed on a host of social woes afflicting inner-city African-American communities. A half-century later, blacks and whites still remain substantially separate and unequal. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Band of Robbers (Unrated) Present-day reimagining of Mark Twain’s classic tales with adult versions of Tom Sawyer (Adam Nee) and Huck Finn (Kyle Gallner) still searching for the buried treasure that eluded them in childhood. Comment.

Barriers can be broken

Movies: How many times have you had an incredible idea to only forget about it? Artists often jot down notes, create full scripts, or even songs to only forget about them while pursuing another venture. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Anomalisa (R for profanity, graphic sexuality and frontal nudity) Adult-oriented animated adventure about an author (David Thewlis) who is unable to connect with other people until he hits it off with a stranger (Jennifer Jason Leigh) he meets on a business trip. Additional voices supplied by Tom Noonan. Comment.

Michael Moore mounts faux invasion

Movies: Oscar-winner Michael Moore (for Bowling for Columbine) has been challenging the power structure ever since releasing Roger & Me way back in 1989. Comment.

Best of African Diaspora films

Movies: The African Diaspora International Film Festival (AIDFF) wrapped up its screenings of almost 60 films in mid-December but all is not lost for those who missed it. Nine films, the Best of AIDFF will screen Friday, Jan. 8 – Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016 in Manhattan. Comment.

December, 2015

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Anomalisa (R for profanity, graphic sexuality and frontal nudity) Adult-oriented animated adventure about an author (David Thewlis) who is unable to connect with other people until he hits it off with a stranger (Jennifer Jason Leigh) he meets on a business trip. Additional voices supplied by Tom Noonan. Comment.