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August, 2015

T&T Film Festival a ticket to the Caribbean

Movies: Trinidad and Tobago will be the “destination of choice” for movie and film enthusiasts in the month of September as the twin-island republic hosts its annual film festival, the Trinidad and Tobago Tourism Development Company says. Comment.

Small town slacker marked for death by govt

Movies: At first blush, Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) looks like your prototypical slacker with not much of a future. The small town stoner is very content to fritter away his life behind the counter of the local convenience store, so long as he can go home and get high with his girlfriend, Phoebe (Kristen Stewart), after work every day. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: I Touched All Your Stuff (Unrated) Cross-cultural documentary chronicling how Christopher Kirk, a nerdy American, ended up falling head-over-heels for a mysterious woman after moving to Colombia to study hippos. (In English and Spanish with subtitles) Comment.

Reggae’s Black Cinderella scores triple treat

Movies: Believe it when you see and hear it. Reggae’s Black Cinderella gets the last word in the latest Meryl Streep flick “Ricki and the Flash.” To end the movie, it is the voice of the popular deejay AKA Sister Carol sounding the lyrics from her 1996 Grammy-nominated “Milk & Honey” single from the 1996 “Lyrically Potent” CD that signals conclusion. Comment.

Rise and demise of legendary gangsta’ group

Movies: Back in the Eighties, the CIA began orchestrating the introduction of crack-cocaine to African-American communities all across America, starting with the South Central L.A. By the middle of the decade, the epidemic had turned Compton into a godforsaken wasteland rife with drug addiction and crime. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: 6 Years (Unrated) Romance drama about a couple of childhood sweethearts (Ben Rosenfield and Taissa Farmiga) whose long-term relationship is tested when he’s offered a dream job with a record company. With Joshua Leonard, Lindsay Burdge and Peter Vack. Comment.

Fox reboots Marvel franchise’s ‘Fantastic Four’

Movies: Marvel Comics’ first brought the “Fantastic Four” to the big screen a decade ago, and followed it up with a sequel a couple years later. Since neither generated much in the way of audience enthusiasm, 20th Century Fox has now seen fit to relaunch the flagging franchise rather than release a third installment. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Air (PG-13 for violence, profanity and sexual references) Futuristic sci-fi about a couple of engineers (Norman Reedus and Djimon Hounsou) who represent the last hope for humanity after the planet runs out of oxygen. With Sandrine Holt, Paula Lindberg, Peter Benson and David Nykl. Comment.

Cruise, company reunite to topple terrorist group

Movies: Rogue Nation is the fifth installment in the Mission: Impossible franchise featuring Tom Cruise as the dashing and daring Ethan Hunt. This episode has everything you’d expect from an action-oriented espionage thriller: international intrigue, irresistible eye candy and edge-of-your-seat fight and chase sequences. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Assassination (Unrated) Historical drama, set in 1933, revolving around Korean resistance’s plot to kill the military commander of Japan’s occupy forces. Co-starring Ji-hyun Jun, Jung-woo Ha and Jung-jae Hee. (In Korean with subtitles) Comment.

July, 2015

Next group of Griswolds heads for Walley World

Movies: National Lampoon’s Vacation is an enduring film franchise launched back in 1978 by the late John Hughes, the brains behind such Chicago-centric screen classics as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; Trains, Planes & Automobiles; Home Alone; Uncle Buck; and Baby’s Day Out, to name a few. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Best of Enemies (R for sexuality, nudity and profanity) File footage documentary featuring the series of nine, nationally-televised, live-TV debates between liberal Gore Vidal and arch-conservative William F. Buckley covering such hot-button topics as politics, religion and sexuality, which degenerated into name-calling affairs where the pair referred to each other as a “crypto-Nazi” and a “queer.” Comment.

A bittersweet boxing tale of redemption

Movies: Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) surmounted incredible odds en route to becoming the World Light Heavyweight Boxing Champ. After all, his prospects weren’t exactly brilliant, given how he’d been abandoned by his mother at birth. Comment.

Shades of Face/Off in brain transplant sci-fi thriller

Movies: In the 1997 thriller “Face/Off,” an FBI agent underwent a face transplant in order to crack a terrorist plot. It’s hard not to think of that film while watching “Self/Less” which revolves around another radical surgical procedure, namely, the implantation of a cancer patient’s brain inside the cranium of a healthy individual. Comment.

11-yr-old struggles to control her emotions

Movies: Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) was understandably unhappy when she learned from her mother (Diane Lane) and father (Kyle MacLachlan) that the family was relocating from Minnesota to San Francisco. After all, she’d be leaving behind her home, her hockey team and all her BFFs. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: 10,000 Km (R for profanity, graphic sexuality and brief frontal nudity) Romantic dramedy, set in L.A. and Barcelona, about a couple’s (David Verdaguer and Natalia Tena) struggle to maintain a long-distance relationship. (In Spanish, Catalan and English with subtitles) Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: The 11th Hour (Unrated) Psychological drama about a successful businesswoman (Kim Basinger) who resorts to desperate measures to become a mother after being informed by her doctor that she’s barren. Supporting cast includes Jordan Prentice, Sebastian Schipper and Peter Stormare. Comment.

June, 2015

Self-reverential sequel revives horror franchise

Movies: How do you revive an expiring film franchise that was ostensibly put out of its misery over a dozen years ago after audiences became jaded with over-saturated visual effects they no longer found spellbinding? Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Amy (R for profanity and drug use) Bittersweet biopic revisiting the rise and fall of Grammy-winner Amy Winehouse who died of alcohol poising in 2011 at the age of 27. Featuring appearances by Tony Bennett, Mark Ronson and Mos Def. Comment.

MUSICAL ODYSSEY

Music: You know Carnival is here when steel pan yards are alive with music in the wee hours of the night. Pan music isn’t constrained to just Carnival season, a rich culture and history is beaten into every oil drum. Comment.

Sex abuse survivor copes with trauma

Movies: Amy (Amy Everson) has been left so haunted by demons after years of unspecified sexual abuse that today she dreams of crushing a rapist to death with her thighs. She also fantasizes about gouging out his eyes and sticking a pin in a penis. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Batkid Begins (PG for mature themes) Make-a-wish documentary recounting how the citizens of San Francisco collaborated to make five- year-old, cancer patient Miles Scott’s dream of becoming Batman a reality. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: 3½ Minutes, Ten Bullets (Unrated) Black Lives Matter documentary about the trial of a middle-aged white man for the murder at a Florida gas station of Jordan Davis, an unarmed black teenager sitting in the back seat of a car playing loud music. Comment.

The boys are back for a bawdy adventure

Movies: “Entourage” went off the air in 2011, after enjoying a phenomenal, eight-year run on the HBO Network, thanks to its refreshingly-authentic take on cutthroat world of Hollywood. That semi-autobiographical TV-series revolving around the irreverent alpha-male antics of a fictional movie star and his posse was inspired by the life of its executive producer, Mark Wahlberg. Comment.

Lin Shaye reprises role as psychic

Movies: The good news about “Insidious 3” is that you don’t have to be cognizant of the develoments in the first two episodes to follow this one’s plotline. That’s because it’s a stand-alone prequel which doesn’t revolve around the Lamberts, the family haunted by ghosts in the franchise’s previous installments. Comment.

Cicely Tyson’s insistence on quality roles

Movies: Cicely L. Tyson’s parents, both of them immigrants from the island of Nevis, were apparently so deeply religious that their daughter’s desiring to be involved in movies and such was the kind of pursuit deemed forbidden in the household. Comment.

Broke college student moonlights as stripper

Movies: Cash-strapped Katherine McCoy (Vivica A. Fox) is holding down a couple of jobs to make ends meet while praying that her sons stay on the straight and narrow path until they can make it out of the ghetto. Though grown, both boys still live at home; yet neither is helping their struggling single-mom much, financially. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Doomsdays (Unrated) Pre-apocalyptic comedy following the misadventures of a couple of slackers (Justin Rice and Leo Fitzpatrick) with a penchant for squatting in unoccupied summer homes in the Catskill Mountains. Supporting cast features Brian Charles Johnson, Jenny Bradley and Laura Campbell. Comment.

May, 2015

Harrowing earthquake adventure in San Francisco

Movies: If you were afraid to swim in the ocean after watching “Jaws,” you might be just as reluctant to visit San Francisco after seeing this spectacular disaster flick. Directed by Brad Peyton (Journey 2), “San Andreas” features a character-driven plot as riveting as its dizzying special f/x. Comment.

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Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Barely Lethal (PG-13 for sexuality, profanity, violence, drug references and underage drinking) Action comedy about a teenage spy (Hailee Steinfeld) who fakes her own death in order to have a normal life, only to find the treacherous waters of a suburban high school as challenging as international espionage. Featuring Jessica Alba, Samuel L. Jackson and Jaime King. Comment.

Road warrior rises to the occasion in Sci-Fi flick

Movies: “Fury Road” reboots the legendary Mad Max franchise which has been sitting dormant for several decades. This fourth installment was again produced, written and directed by Oscar-winner George Miller (for Happy Feet) who tapped Tom Hardy to replace disgraced Mel Gibson in the title role as Max Rockatansky, the highway patrol officer-turned-intrepid road warrior given to dispensing a grisly brand of vigilante justice. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Aloft (R for profanity and sexuality) Tale of redemption about a journalist (Melanie Laurent) who orchestrates the reunion of a renowned artist/healer (Jennifer Connelly) with the son (Cillian Murphy) she’d abandoned 20 years earlier. Support cast includes Oona Chaplin, Ian Tracey and Peter McRobbie. Comment.

Cop and mob widow make unlikely bedfellows

Movies: Vincente Cortez (Joaquin Cosio) has orchestrated over a hundred hits as the notorious kingpin of a drug cartel terrorizing Texas. However, he’s always beaten the rap, because the prime witnesses invariably disappear mysteriously before they have a chance to testify. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Absolution (R for profanity, drug use and graphic violence) Steven Seagal stars in this action thriller as a contract killer who comes to the assistance of a woman (Adina Stetcu) on the run from a politically-connected mobster (Vinnie Jones). With Maria Bata, Byron Mann and Josh Barnett. Comment.

Computer nerd falls for Fembot with free will

Movies: Caleb Smith (Domnhall Gleeson) works as a computer programmer for Blue Book, the most popular internet search engine in the world. As the winner of a staff lottery, he is summoned to the secluded, hilltop retreat of the company’s reclusive CEO, Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac). Comment.

April, 2015

Haiti Film Fest spreads across 3 boroughs

Movies: It is so exciting that the Haiti Film Fest, now in its third edition, is expanding its reach and will be screening a film in Queens, as well as uptown Manhattan (City College and also Maysles Cinema) and downtown, and of course in Brooklyn where the mother ship, Haiti Cultural Exchange (HCX) is based. For the full schedule: http://haiticulturalx.org/haitifilmfest. Comment.

Repressed teen vents his carnal urges

Movies: Randy Rousseau (Julian Walker) claims to be straight, even though everybody thinks he’s gay basically because he’s effeminate, sings in the church choir, and is a member of Christian High’s drama club. The repressed 17-year-old has even confessed to his BFFs, Effie (Gary Leroi Gray) and Crystal (Nikki Jane), to waking up “soaked in sin” after nightly wet dreams in which he makes love to other guys. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared (R for profanity and violence) Screen adaptation of Jonas Jonasson’s novel of the same name about a frisky geezer (Robert Gustafsson) who celebrates his 100th birthday by making a break from his retirement home to embark on a daring adventure of a lifetime. With Iwar Wiklander, Mia Skaringer and David Wiberg. (In Swedish, Spanish, Russian German, English and French.) Comment.

Shades of Romeo, Juliet abound in inner-city saga

Movies: Twins Jackie (Keke Palmer) and Sergio Taylor (Eric D. Hill, Jr.) already had it tough enough growing up in the ghetto before the untimely demise of their dad a few years ago. But then their mother (Macy Gray) stopped functioning and started hitting the bottle. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Adult Beginners (R for profanity and drug use) Diminished dreams dramedy about a narcissistic entrepreneur (Nick Kroll) who moves from Manhattan to the suburbs to take a job as a nanny for his sister’s (Rose Byrne) children after his latest start-up crashes and burns. With Bobby Cannavale, Bobby Moynihan and Joel McHale. Comment.

Walker’s Swan song proves well worth the wait

Movies: The late Paul Walker (1973-2013) was best known for playing Brian O’Conner, a charismatic lead character of the Fast and Furious franchise. During a break in the filming of this seventh installment, he perished in a fiery crash away from the set while being driven in a Porsche by his friend and financial advisor, Roger Rodas. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Alex of Venice (R for profanity, sexual references and drug use) Midlife crisis drama about a workaholic attorney (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) suddenly forced to reorder her priorities after being unceremoniously dumped by her frustrated, stay-at-home husband (Chris Messina). With Don Johnson, Derek Luke and Troy Garity. Comment.

Mercenary-turned-patriot redeems himself

Movies: Up until 1775, cold-blooded assassin William Reynolds (Andrew Cheney) never had a problem with his job as a hit man for the East India Tea Company. But the veteran mercenary finally developed second thoughts about his grisly line of work after being double-crossed by his diabolical boss, the conniving Charles Kemp (John Rhys-Davies). Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Below Dreams (Unrated) Millennial Generation drama highlighting the frustrating job search of three twenty-somethings, an ex-con (Jamaine Johnson), a single-mom (Leanne Miller), and an unemployed college grad (Elliott Ehlers), who are all looking for work in an inhospitable economic climate. Featuring Rebecca Matalon. Comment.

March, 2015

Shailene Woodley radiates chemistry aplenty

Movies: “Insurgent” is the second in the action-oriented series of screen adaptations based on Veronica Roth’s blockbuster Divergent trilogy. This installment represents a rarity for a cinematic sequel in that it’s actually better than the first episode. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: 5 to 7 (R for sexuality) Romantic romp revolving around an aspiring young writer (Anton Yelchin) and a married, middle-aged socialite (Berenice Marlohe) who rendezvous at the same time every day for a passionate affair at a classy, Midtown Manhattan hotel. Featuring Glenn Close, Olivia Thirlby and Frank Langella. Comment.

Trini film to debut at BAM

Movies: The Caribbean Film Academy that has been entertaining moviegoers with stirring films by gifted filmmakers from the region since 2012 is proud to debut its series at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Rose Cinemas, beginning on Tuesday, April 7. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Comment.

Ferrell, Hart co-star in unlikely-buddies comedy

Movies: Thanks to a flourishing career as a hedge fund manager, James King (Will Ferrell) is living in the lap of luxury in a sprawling, Bel Air mansion. Furthermore, the pampered multimillionaire’s stock seems about to skyrocket, given his promotion to partner and his impending marriage to the boss’ (Craig T. Nelson) daughter, Alissa (Alison Brie). Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Apartment Troubles (Unrated) American Dream dramedy about a couple of Bohemian artist roommates (Jess Weixler and Jennifer Prediger) on the verge of eviction who relocate from Greenwich Village to L.A. to take a shot at fame and fortune. With Megan Mullally, Will Forte, Jeffrey Tambor and Lance Bass. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Amour Fou (Unrated) Costume drama, set in Berlin in the Romantic Era, about a young poet (Christian Friedel) who enters a suicide pact with a terminally-ill socialite (Schnoeink) after failing to convince his kissing cousin (Sandra Hueller) to do so. Supporting cast includes Stephan Crossmann, Barbara Schnitzler and Marc Bischoff. (In German with subtitles) Comment.

Back to the subcontinent for pleasant, if pat, sequel

Movies: When we last saw Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel), he had just proposed to his thoroughly-modern girlfriend Sunaina (Tina Desai), much to the chagrin of his meddling, more traditional mother (Lillete Dubey). The ambitious young entrepreneur had also landed the funds to renovate his ramshackle hotel with the help of Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith), one of the residents of the retirement community. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: 3 Hearts (PG-13 for sexuality, brief nudity, mature themes and pervasive smoking) Romantic romp revolving around an incestuous love triangle that arises when sparks fly between a newlywed tax inspector (Benoit Poelvoorde) and his bride’s (Chiara Mastroianni) sister (Charlotte Gainsbourg). With Catherine Deneuve, Andre Marcon and Patrick Mille. (In French and Chinese with subtitles) Comment.

Con man matches wits with former protégé

Movies: Good (2 stars) Comment.

February, 2015

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Bad Asses on the Bayou (R for violence, profanity, sexuality and nudity) Danny Trejo and Danny Glover reprise their roles in this sequel to “Bad Ass 2” set in Baton Rouge where the aging tough guys take the law into their own hands to rescue a pal’s (John Amos) daughter kidnapped for ransom (Loni Love). Rob Mello, Sammi Rotibi and Jimmy Bennett. Comment.

Brooklyn actor receives Black History Month award

Movies: Brooklyn Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, deputy leader and chair of the City Council’s Housing and Buildings Committee, has presented a New York City Council Proclamation to Brooklyn actor and activist Wendell Pierce (“Selma,” “The Wire,” “Treme”) as part of Black History Month celebrations. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: ’71 (R for graphic violence, disturbing images and pervasive profanity) Historical drama, set in Belfast, Northern Ireland, about a British soldier’s (Jack O’Connell) desperate effort to survive after he‘s severely beaten during an IRA riot and separated from his unit. With Richard Dormer, Jack Lowden, Sam Reid and Martin McCann. Comment.

Fetish flick fails to match erotic best-seller hype

Movies: “Fifty Shades of Grey” marked the remarkable writing debut of TV executive-turned-romance novelist Erika Mitchell. Publishing under the pen name E.L. James, the British author has enjoyed unparalleled success, selling over 100 million copies worldwide in just a few years. Comment.

‘Pirate of the Caribbean’ weds in the Bahamas

Movies: From a choice of all the paradise islands spread throughout the Caribbean and another 700 sprinkled over 100,000 square miles of The Bahamas, actor Johnny Depp found one ideal to say his vows to his new bride Amber Heard. Comment.

Colin Firth shines as suave spy in nostalgic movie

Movies: Harry Hart (Colin Firth) is such an unassuming, buttoned-downed bloke that no one in his right mind would suspect him to be a highly-skilled secret agent capable of killing at the drop of a derby. But as a Kingsman, he belongs to an exclusive fraternity of nattily-attired spies who abide by the motto “Manners Maketh Man.” Members of this covert organization consider themselves modern-day knights, and they see their suits as body armor. Comment.

Challenges, solutions for Caribbean energy security: WB

Movies: The World Bank says while there are many challenges, there are also solutions to Caribbean energy security. The Washington-based financial institution said oil provides more than 90 percent of primary energy needs in the Caribbean, making the region highly vulnerable to price fluctuations. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Crazy Bitches (Unrated) Horror comedy about seven sorority sisters whose weekend getaway with a gay pal (Andy Gala) to a remote cabin in the woods is ruined by the arrival of a bloodthirsty psychopath who proceeds to pick them off one-by-one. Co-starring Samantha Colburn, Cathy DeBuono, Liz McGeever, Victoria Profeta, Guinevere Turner, Nayo Wallace and Mary Jane Wells. Comment.

Cautionary tale revisits sub-prime mortgage crisis

Movies: It is California in 2007, at the height of the sub-prime mortgage boom. Jason “Jay” Kelley (Beau Martin Williams), a cash-strapped bouncer is offered an alternative line of work in a higher tax bracket by Devin Weiss (Matt Funke), a hotshot real estate broker whose company is in the midst of a hiring blitz. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: 3 Nights in the Desert (Unrated) Intriguing romantic romp revolving around the awkward love triangle drama which arises when a musical trio reunites in the desert a decade after the band members went their separate ways. Co-starring Wes Bentley, Amber Tamblyn and Vincent Piazza. Comment.

January, 2015

Grandparents square-off over biracial child

Movies: When Elliot Anderson’s (Kevin Costner) wife Carol (Jennifer Ehle) perishes in a tragic car accident, he suddenly finds himself facing the prospect of raising his seven-year-old granddaughter Eloise (Jillian Estell) alone. After all, the couple had originally assumed custody from the moment their own daughter died giving birth to the little girl, since the baby’s drug-addicted father (Andre Holland) was behind bars and totally unfit to be a parent. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Amira & Sam (Unrated) Romantic dramedy about a returning war vet (Martin Starr) who takes a shot at stand-up comedy back in the States while dating the niece (Dina Shihabi) of his former Iraqi translator (Laith Nakli). With Paul Wesley, David Rasche, Ross Marquand and Taylor Wilcox. Comment.

Kevin Hart, Josh Gad co-star in buddies comedy

Movies: “The Wedding Ringer” Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Against the Sun (PG for mature themes and mild epithets) World War II survival saga recounting a trio of airmen’s (Tom Felton, Jake Abel and Garret Dillahunt) real-life ordeal in a lifeboat after ditching their plane over the Pacific Ocean. Featuring Nadia Parra. Comment.

Bradley Cooper stars in sharpshooter flick

Movies: Navy Seal Chris Kyle served four tours as a sniper in Iraq between 2003 and 2008. Over the course of dangerous deployments to Ramadi, Sadr City, Fallujah and other hot spots, he racked up enough kills to become the most lethal sniper in the history of the U.S. military. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Escobar: Paradise Lost (Unrated) Romance thriller, set in Colombia in the summer of 1991, about a Canadian surfer dude (Josh Hutchinson) who is pressured to serve as a hit man after falling for the niece (Claudia Traisac) of drug cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar (Benicio del Toro). Support cast includes Anne Giradot, Carlos Bardem and Brady Corbet. Comment.

US Olympian’s ordeal as brutalized POW

Movies: Do you remember how, “Infamous,” a biopic about Truman Capote, was released right on the heels of the one entitled “Capote”? But because the latter had already received considerable critical acclaim, including an Oscar for the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, the Johnnie-come-lately had little chance of making more than a blip on the radar. Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Beloved Sisters (Unrated) Incestuous romance drama about a couple of aristocratic siblings (Hannah Herzsprung and Henriette Confurius) who opt to share when they both fall in love with poet, philosopher and playwright Friedrich Schiller (Florian Stetter). With Claudia Messner, Ronald Zehrfeld and Maja Maranow. (In German and French with subtitles.) Comment.

Independent & Foreign Films

Movies: Leviathan (R for profanity, sexuality and nudity) Legal drama about a humble family man (Aleksey Serebryakov) who retains the services of an attorney (Vladimir Vdovichenkov) to prevent his seaside home with a view from being seized for a pittance through eminent domain by a corrupt mayor (Roman Madyanov). Support cast includes Elena Lyadova, Anna Ukolova and Sergey Pokhodaev. (In Russian with subtitles) Comment.

Civil Rights saga revisits historic MLK March

Movies: “Selma” Comment.