Supremacy

SupremacyRelease Date:  1/30/15 (VOD, Theaters; Original Release Date: 6/12/14-Los Angeles Film Festival)
Genre: Drama
Rating:  NR
Running Time: 106 mins.
Studio: Hidden Empire Film Group; Media House Capital
Director: Deon Taylor
Cast:  Danny Glover (Mr. Walker), Joe Anderson (Garrett Tully), Anson Mount (Sobecki), Derek Luke (Raymond), Evan Ross (Anthony), Lela Rochon (Odessa), Dawn Olivieri (Doreen), Mahershala Ali (Deputy Rivers).

Story:  Based on a true story. A paroled white supremacist has just killed a cop, and takes a black family hostage over a long night of terror as authorities cordon off the neighborhood where he and his lady accomplice are laying low. Facebook, IMDB.

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Critics’ Connection: Dope

Dope photoStory:  Malcolm is a high school geek with a high-top fade, carefully navigating life in The Bottoms, one of the toughest neighborhoods in Inglewood, California. He and his fellow outcasts share a voracious appreciation for all things ’90s hip-hop, opting to sport Cross-Colours and Z. Cavariccis at the risk of being clowned at school. He dreams of attending Harvard, but first he has to make it home every day. When a drug dealer takes a shine to Malcolm and invites him to his birthday party, Malcolm’s crew is swirled into a hilarious blender of offbeat characters and bad choices where redemption can only be found in Bitcoin. Source: Sundance.org.

What the critics are saying about Dope:

The Hollywood Reporter:  It’s not every film that can turn the concept of a slippery slope into a repeatedly used and hilarious punch line, and [Rick] Famuyiwa’s dialogues are often not only funny but also sharp and smart. A notable exception is the way race plays a role in two scenes, the first a discussion of why white people can’t use the N-word — which the black characters here use more often than articles and verbs — which is so drawn out (terminating in a weak and literal punch line) that it starts to feel like sermonizing, while the second is the way race factors in to Malcolm’s Harvard application essay, which is certainly truthful but lacks any kind of argument around it that would demonstrate his innate intelligence.

The decision to also make the protags play in their own music group feels a little too much like a movie conceit and their songs, written by Pharrell Williams, will no doubt help market the film but don’t feel like they could’ve been written by these three kids, however brainy.  That said, the film’s overall energy, and performances are spunky enough to almost always temporarily suspend disbelief when required.  See the full review at hollywoodreporter.com.

/Film:  The film has a lot to say about growing up black in a bad neighborhood with bigger dreams than can be afforded. It’s about subverting expectations and staying true to yourself in the most impossible no win situation. The film provides an interesting portrait of “The Bottoms” area of Inglewood California, filled with gangsters and drug dealers.  Dope is much deeper than its pop culture throwback shell, featuring high school characters with complexity and authenticity. While the story is linear for the most part, the screenplay offers us a few flashbacks which sometimes further connect the characters and stories like a well constructed puzzle.  Dope is charming and poignant — an incredibly relatable urban dramedy that works on almost every level.  See the full review at slashfilm.com.

Mashable:  Dope is exactly what the title says it is.  Funky fresh, funny, complex and uncompromising, Dope — which made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival — is going to be one of those Sundance movies that, if it finds a good home, will be watched, rewatched, quoted, referenced and beloved for years to come.

Existing somewhere between Juice, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Spring Breakers, get ready for three main characters to unapologetically root for through a series of outlandish twists and turns that are somehow utterly plausible.  With a mid ’90s hip-hop color palette and soundtrack to match, Dope is a wild bike ride through the streets of Inglewood, California, seen mostly through the eyes of high school senior Malcolm that bombards the screen with vivid characters and crazy choices.  See the full review at mashable.com.

Note:  The content of this post is adapted from the primary sources as referenced above.  Click on the links to read the original reviews in their entirety.

Critics’ Connection: With This Ring

With This Ring photoSynopsis:  After attending their friend Elise’s (Sudano) wedding to Nate (Bishop) on New Year’s Eve, Trista (Hall), a career-­driven talent agent, Viviane (Scott), a successful gossip columnist, and Amaya (Cooper), a struggling actress, make a pact to get married within the year to either a new love or a man waiting in the wings. But the close friends face their own set of challenges – Trista has not gotten over her commitment-­phobic ex-­boyfriend Damon (White), Viviane is secretly in love with Sean (George), the father of her son, and Amaya is desperate to break up her boyfriend Keith’s (Sanders) unhappy marriage so they can live happily ever after. Each woman starts the year with high hopes and dreams of what will happen over the next 12 months…but will they all make it to the altar?  Source:  Lifetime.

What the critics are saying about With This Ring:

New York Daily News: The dialogue and complex weave of relationships feel believable and natural. So even if the outcomes don’t feel like revelations, they feel right, and the trip to get there feels the same.  See full review at NYdailynews.com.

Shadow and Act:  Admittedly, a great deal of the film is comprised of Lifetime’s trademark cheesy clichés (poor choices made by these women, the usual rom-com high jinks, etc). There are dream sequences, for example, that simply don’t work, and the movie would’ve been better off without. But despite these flaws, and once you make the adjustment, writer/director Nzingha Stewart is able to keep the narrative contained, playing it to its strengths, exploiting its humor, with, for instance, surprisingly hilarious commentary on “weaves,” “aging ovaries,” as well as funny moments, including Trista’s awful dates with STD-riddled men, and wannabe vampires.

Ultimately, again, despite its expected Lifetime original movie fluffiness, the film does leave the viewer with some perspective. As Trista finds herself in a constant cycle of waiting for happiness, she finally comes to the realization that happiness has to start from within, which, in the end, is the point of it all.  “With This Ring” is a film about sisterhood and choosing happiness. Its cutesy and laugh-out-loud moments make it quite a bit of fun at times.  See full review at blogs.indiewire.com.

Crushable:  It’s a terrible idea that three grown women should know better than to agree on. Because what is this desperation to just be married no matter the circumstances that so many women seem to have? Or at least that so many women in movies seem to have?

This is a movie where Jill Scott’s character has a literal heart attack because she finds out that her ex, who she’s been hoping to get back together with, has a girlfriend. It’s also a movie where Regina Hall’s character settles for her own ex when he asks her to marry him, even though a.) he’s awful, b.) he cheated on his fiancee with her, and c.) she’s been hanging out with a really nice guy who is clearly into her. So she’d rather settle on a guy she doesn’t even care about just to meet a fake deadline she’s set for herself than wait a little longer and have real happiness with a guy she actually likes. I understand that the whole point of the movie was for her to learn this lesson, but it certainly doesn’t cast women in a very flattering light.  See full review at crushable.com.

Note:  The content of this post is adapted from the primary sources as referenced above.  Click on the links to read the original reviews in their entirety.

 

Megachurch Murder

a/k/a Shaker Pointe

Megachurch MurderRelease Date:  2/7/15 (Made-for-TV; Lifetime)
Genre: Drama
Rating:  NR
Running Time: 88 mins.
Studio: Pokeprod; Lifetime Television
Director:  Darin Scott

Cast:  Tamala Jones (Martha Spears), Malcolm-Jamal Warner (Hamilton Spears), Michael Beach (Clay King), Shanica Knowles (Hannah Spears), Romeo Miller (Oliver King), Corbin Bleu (Marcus King), Dawnn Lewis (Lucille Williams).

Story:  After popular and charismatic megachurch leader Hamilton Spears commits suicide, his teenage daughter Hannah’s life goes off the rails. The only thing keeping her together is her new boyfriend, Oliver. When she finds evidence pointing to a church conspiracy and threats toward her father, she is determined to prove that Hamilton’s death was murder not suicide. As she gets closer to the truth, she realizes her own mother may be involved in her father’s murder…and that the boy she is falling in love with is the son of his killer. Source: Lifetime; IMDB.

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Back to School Mom

Back to School Mom

Release Date 2/14/15 (Made-for-TV; Lifetime)
Genre:  Drama
Rating:  NR
Running Time: Unknown
Studio: Intelligent Media Productions; 120dB Films
Director:  Christopher Erskin
Cast:  Kimberly Elise (Mary Thomas), Denzel Whitaker (Noah Riley), Loretta Devine (Meghan Graham), Harry Lennix (Lawrence Riley), Rick Fox (Matthew Kessler), Garcelle Beauvais (Dee Riley).

Story:  Mary Thomas, a free-spirited musician, has spent the past two decades traveling the world, but at age 41 she decides to go back to college and finish her degree so that, for once, she can finally finish something she started. Back at her old university, she becomes close friends with her popular and charming “peer tutor”—only to learn that he is actually the son she gave up 20 years earlier. Source(s): Lifetime, IMDB. Photo Source: Shadow and Act.

Let’s Shake On It

Let's Shake On ItRelease Date 3/10/15 (DVD)
Genre:  Romance/Comedy
Rating:  NR
Running Time: 112 mins.
Studio:  Maverick Entertainment
Director: Cornell Ford

Cast: Shaquita Blanks (Selene), William Anderson (Louis), Jarrett Glover (Brian) Tia Pratcher (Trina), Brad Tate (Tim), Tekeya Clark (NuNu), Darnell Gordon (Devon) Brandi Buie (Christi).

Story:  A simple dinner date turns into a fun loving challenge when Brian (Jarrett Glover) insists he can prepare a better meal then what he was served at a restaurant. His girlfriend Trina (Tia Pratcher) is sure he’ll fail especially since he has a reputation for burning food but will reward him if the meal is quality by treating him to an annual music festival. He plans to use his grandmother’s secret recipes to win but is faced with an unforeseen obstacle trying to obtain it. The judges are their friends, two of which were a loving couple until a chain of events led them to break up 2 years earlier. They finally reunite the day of the dinner challenge still struggling to fix their estranged relationship but find common ground after judging the competition. Source: Maverick Entertainment.

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Imprisoned by Love

Imprisoned by LoveRelease Date 2/24/15 (DVD)
Genre:  Thriller
Rating:  NR
Running Time: 112 mins.
Studio:  Maverick Entertainment Group
Director:  Michael Angelo
Cast:  Reece Odum (Tracie), Marvin Baldwin, Jr. (Gerald), Regina Charles (Kim), Leah Monet Johnson (Brittany), Jaylin Simone (Jordan), Joyce White (Contessa Maxwell).

Story: Tracie, a devoted wife and mother, lives every day in fear at the hands of her abusive drunk husband Gerald. She does everything in her power to make a lifeless marriage work for the sake of her two loving children Jordan and Brittany. In the process, she almost loses everything. She feels trapped and alone in an abusive marriage that is spiraling into a bottomless abyss. Her friends and family serve as the voices of reason, but will the situation ever change or will Tracie continue to take the abuse and blame. Source: Maverick Entertainment.

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