Movie Review – “Kevin Hart: What Now” #HittingTheatersThisFriday

Kevin Hart, Ride Along Red Carpet Premiere, Sydney Australia

Image from wikimedia.org

I laughed so hard, I thought I was going to have a stroke!  True story – “Kevin Hart: What Now” is hilarious.  I really did feel as if I was going to bust blood vessels from laughing!

I purposely left a set in between me and the first group of people in my row (I would have given the seat up if someone needed it, but it never came to that) because I was worried that the people sitting next to me were going to get mad at me. “Reason why is” I can’t watch Kevin Hart and not crack-up and when I crack-up, it’s LOUD! However, there were two seats on the other side of me.  Two nice young women asked if they were open, so of course I said, “yes.” I struck up a conversation with them about how much I loved Kevin Hart.  Luckily, one of them (the one sitting closest to me) saw him live and was a big fan.  As soon as the movie began, I was so happy she sat next to me because Kevin did what he does best – – make us laugh!

Kevin was firing off one funny “true story” after another; each one funnier than the last and the two of us were screaming with laughter from the very first joke!  It was as if she was my “sista from another mista” because she laughed just as loud as I did, she held her stomach and moaned from the laughter pains, just like me!  She even sat up trying to get air, just like me!  The movie was so funny that so many times I laughed so hard that no sound came out, because I was losing oxygen (she did the same thing!) We weren’t just laughing, we were losing our minds and it was the best feeling ever!!  I can truthfully say, I never laughed so hard and so much at a movie, in my life and having a “laughing partner” felt so liberating!  Of course, the rest of the theater was laughing too, so there was no way they could get mad at me.  Honestly, you’d have to have been in a coma not to laugh.

“What Now” is somewhat of a documentary movie.  It is Kevin’s stand-up comedy routine, which he performed in front of a record-breaking, sold-out crowd of 50,000 at the Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 30, 2015. It was the first time in history that a comedian sold out a football stadium.  Kevin wants to make history again by breaking box-office records for this opening weekend by showing the film around the world.  If you follow @kevinhart4real, he’s asking everyone to help him make history this weekend. He’s using the hash tag – #ComedicRockStarShit for all posts related to “What Now.”

The movie can also fit into the action, drama, and comedy, movie genres.  It opens with a James Bond-like title sequence.  At first, you will think it’s an action comedy.  For the first ten minutes or so, it’s a comedic parody of a Bond movie, featuring Halle Berry as herself but as Kevin’s “Bond-girl.”  Kevin is agent 0054! This movie within the movie satirizes all of the cliché things that happen in spy movies.  For example, there’s a room labeled, something like “convenient changing room with clothes that fit Kevin Hart!”  There is even a bloody shootout scene, which is rather gross and actually made me and my “sista” cover our eyes.  Therefore, besides for the language, the bloody scene also makes this an adult only movie.

When the “mission” is accomplished, Halle and Kevin make it to the venue, where Kevin shoots up an elevator shaft onto the stage, and the concert begins.  It was so awesome  to see the aerial shots of the sold-out stadium!  Kevin teared-up when he took his final bows.  You can tell how grateful he is to have been able to go back to his hometown and sell out the stadium. It was as if that moment was when he realized he made it as a star!  It’s inspiring to see someone who has worked hard, realize his dream.  I also have a lot of respect for big stars who are not afraid to be humble.  My favorite part, which made me love Kevin even more, was just before he left the stage and thanked the crowd.  He told the audience to “look around,”  he said, “I see every race, ethnicity, and nationality possible.  I see some of everybody. We all came under the same roof and we laughed tonight.  If you can laugh together, you can live together; if you can live together, you can love together.  I live by those rules and I’ll be damned if I didn’t see that s**t here tonight. . . in my city I made history. . .and this has been the best night of my f**’n life. ..” You can actually find video of this moment posted by a fan on YouTube.  I didn’t post the link here because I try to keep my content PG-13.

When the Universal Pictures studio representative asked what I thought of the movie, I told him that I thought I was going to have a stroke and that I was so lucky the girl next to me laughed as loud as I did.  He replied, “everyone was laughing.”  They were; the room was roaring with laughter for the entire run of the film!  The stand-up routine is full of so many funny and animated stories about Kevin’s kids, his “lady,” his dad, and his friends, all prefaced with “true story.”  Kevin says he doesn’t lie, “unless the truth is not believable!” I don’t want to give away and jokes or punch lines, you have to see this movie for yourself.  Please remember it’s rated –R; it’s not for kids and if you get offended by foul language, then it’s not for you.  If you are a Kevin Hart fan, the answer to the question, “What Now?” is go buy your tickets!  “Kevin Hart: What Now” opens Friday! Don’t miss it! – BMT

P.S.  Don’t get up when the credits start rolling, there’s more movie! As always, please let me know what you think. – Beth

“The Girl on the Train” – Movie Review

the_girl_on_the_train_logoIntense! There is really no other word to perfectly describe “The Girl on the Train!” Walking out of the theater I heard a few other comments, such as, “you women are crazy” and “that was crazy,” but my immediate reaction when the studio representative asked, “what did you think?” was – “intense.”

“The Girl on the Train,” directed by Tate Taylor is the theatrical adaptation of the book by the same name written by Paula Hawkins. It is a psychological thriller with a lot of twists and turns. I’m not big on “thriller” movies but I am always intrigued by psychological thrillers that have a good story line. This is one of those movies that captivates you from the first scene.

Someone said the movie was a “train wreck” and it was the worst movie they’d seen in a long time. I disagree; although I do like the use of the expression “train wreck” because in my opinion, the movie is about relationship train wrecks. The movie focuses on one main character Rachel Watson, who is the center of this relationship “Ven diagram.” As expected, Emily Blunt’s performance as Rachel is superb. As the story unfolds you see that every character is related by “six degrees of separation” to Rachel.  I recently read a review and the author said that it was difficult to follow along. I wouldn’t say it was difficult; you just have to pay attention. Isn’t that why we go to movies? – to engross ourselves into the story-line?  I thought the suspenseful plot twists made the movie interesting.

It is difficult to review movies without spoiling it for future viewers, and I can’t stand reviews that actually tell the entire story. So, I won’t do that to you.  I’ll just touch on what you already may have gleaned from the trailer. Rachel is an artist with a vivid imagination, which is fueled by alcohol. She rides the train into the city every day and fantasizes about Megan and Scott Hipwell, a couple that lives in a house she passes daily.  Luke Evans, plays Scott; he’s ruggedly sexy (on and off-screen).  We feel sorry for him and fear him at the same time. Luke was on Harry Connick, Jr.’s talk show – #Harry – this week. I didn’t know that he is also a singer! I mean he’s already a hot actor, but once you hear him sing, you’ll be, as Harry put it, “smitten.” Watch the clip here:

Haley Bennett plays Scott’s wife, Megan, another complex character. Edgar Ramirez, plays her psychiatrist, Dr. Kamal Abdic. Rebecca Ferguson is Anna, Rachel’s ex-husband, Tom’s (Justin Theroux) new wife. Rachel’s daily train ride represents her inability to move forward; she sits rear-facing – looking back. Rachel appears to be a typical “crazy-ex” who is fixated on the past and stalks her ex-husband.

Laura Prepon of “That 70s Show” fame, plays Rachel’s friend, Cathy, who took Rachel in when she had nowhere else to go. Allison Janney is the detective investigating the murder case. She is perfectly cast as she seems to always play the role of an arrogant woman of power, who always gets to the bottom of things and doesn’t care who she takes down in the process. Lisa Kudrow plays Martha, Scott’s ex-boss’s wife.  Though she is not a main character, her role in the movie is crucial to the plot line. Rachel runs into her on the train and suddenly learns unnerving information about her ex-husband.

It is all seems so far-fetched, yet, so real due to the awesome cinematography by Charlotte Bruss Christensen and the artistry of director, Tate Taylor. The story is basically told through the use of flashbacks. We feel Rachel’s confusion and fragile mental state through her eyes and the reflections in the train windows. In one scene her reflection is superimposed with the reflections of the trees as the train passes them. You feel the speed of the train and Rachel’s internal conflict. As in Alfred Hitchock’s classic movie, “Strangers on a Train,” the train ride is used as a means to create suspense and the place where the main character impulsively makes her next move.  Though “Strangers on a Train” is about a criss-cross murder plot; “The Girl on the Train” involves an unplanned murder alliance. That’s all I’m going to say.

I highly recommend you see this movie. Did you see it this weekend?  What did you think?  I’d like to know, so please post your comments below. – BMT

“Deepwater Horizon” – Movie Review

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Photo of movie screen taken by me before the movie.

“Deepwater Horizon” #deepwaterhorizonmovie dramatically tells the story of the Deepwater Horizon (#deepwaterhorizon) oil spill and explosion that occurred on April 20, 2010 about 41 miles off the coast of Louisiana. Unfortunately, the technical cause of the oil well explosion is way over my head, so rather than bore you with the details and technicalities of the actual event, if you want a full background, I would direct you to the Wikipedia page – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deepwater_Horizon_oil_spill.

I am embarrassed to say that I barely remember hearing about this event. That may just be my ignorance or the fact that 2010 marked the beginning of some serious health issues for me. Perhaps I just wasn’t “tuned-in” to current events or maybe it didn’t get the news coverage it deserved due to the political nature of all things oil related??  I don’t know, but this story of the worst oil spill in U.S. History needs to be told and director, Peter Berg, and screenplay writers Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand do a great job telling it.

The cinematography is incredible. I thought it was especially effective that the movie began with the audio of a hearing asking Transocean employee, Mike Williams, to recount the events. As he gets to the point of the explosion, it goes quiet, we can feel Mike’s hesitation as he goes back to the dark place in his memory where he really doesn’t want to go, and the opening credits begin. Of course there are many scenes with injuries, blood, fire, and explosions that add the necessary “shock value,” but this movie is more than that. This movie takes a very personal approach. The camera focuses on their individual faces. We see that the workers are ordinary people, we learn a little about their personal lives and the loved ones that they leave behind every time they go out to sea.  We see that most of them have a good rapport with each other. They kid around and seem to work well together.  The movie gives more focus to the fact that the crew of 126 that was on board the Deepwater Horizon was just performing their daily routine when suddenly they became faced with an extraordinarily catastrophic chain of events. In a matter of hours, these average oil workers became superheroes, risking their lives to save the lives of their co-workers.

The acting is phenomenal.  Mark Wahlberg plays Mike Williams, one of the heroes, who seemed to have a premonition that something would go wrong as he kissed his wife goodbye at the heliport just before he took-off to work, offshore, on the Deepwater Horizon for what was supposed to be 21 days.  Kurt Russell plays “Mr. Jimmy” Harrell, essentially the captain of the rig. Mike and Mr. Jimmy work for Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon. John Makovich plays Donald Vidrine, one of the BP Oil Company representatives that smugly made some fatally disastrous decisions. You hate him (and BP) right away and you can sense that the crew doesn’t like him either. The Transocean crew seems resentful of the way BP, who (they make a point of stressing) is just “leasing” the rig, was exerting its control over the rig operations about which they knew very little. Those decisions were cost-driven and gave no priority to safety and the “human factor.”  Bottom line, it is evident that monetary greed is what caused this disaster.

I was especially moved by a particular scene – when the injured survivors are on board the rescue ship, after role is called, they all kneel down and recite the Lord’s Prayer.  It is rare, (especially in movies) but awesome when it happens, to see victims immediately giving thanks and praise to God, instead of asking “why?”. It was also very somber at the end of the movie to see the photos of the eleven crew members that died.

I think this movie is excellent. Another “must see”.  I highly recommend you buy your tickets early.  I saw this on the day of its third or fourth screening and people were turned-away because the theater was full.  Please go see Deepwater Horizon and let me know what you think. – BMT

P.S. Country Music Fans, there’s a cameo but well-done performance by Trace Adkins, who plays the father of one of the deceased crew members.

Checkmate for “Queen of Katwe” – Movie Review

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Photo taken by me of the screen before the movie.

“Queen of Katwe” #QueenofKatwe is a Disney movie, based on a book of the same name written by Tim Crothers, based on the true story of a young Ugandan girl from the small village of Katwe, who becomes an international chess “Queen”. The screenplay was written by William Wheeler. The executive producers of the film are Will Weiske and Troy Buderand and the producers are Lydia Dean Pilcher and John Carls.  It is a real life “rags to riches” story worthy of the Disney name.

I had the opportunity to attend a special advanced screening followed by a live Q&A session (via twitter – #askqueenofkatwe) with the director and the movie cast.  It was even attended by the real main character, Phiona Mutesi.

Phiona’s family sells corn on the streets of a war-torn and impoverished village in Katwe, Uganda. The homes are basically run-down huts without roofs and four walls. The children cannot afford to go to school; they barely have food to eat. She meets coach Robert Katende, played by David Oyelowo. He is a well-educated man who left the corporate world and decided to become a missionary in Uganda. He sets up a make-shift game room, which becomes a safe haven for the local children to get a hot meal and learn to play chess. Phiona’s mother, Harriet, played by Lupita Nyong’o, is at first reluctant to allow Phiona and her brother to attend this chess group.  She doesn’t understand the game and based on rumors, thinks Katende is teaching them some type of voodoo.  Coach Katende realizes very quickly that Phiona has a natural talent for the game and that she could win tournaments and earn scholarships to get an education. He pleads with Harriet to allow Phiona to pursue this opportunity. Phiona goes on to become an international chess champion.

Having the advantage of watching the live Q&A session, I learned that the movie was filmed on location, in Katwe, Uganda, many of the players are local villagers. Phiona is played by a native Ugandan girl, Madina Nalwanga, the director, Mira Nair, spent much of her life living in Uganda, and the real characters were on-set to offer their true accounts.  This ensured the authenticity of the movie. I was a bit shocked when Phiona revealed that watching this movie was her very first time to ever see a movie on the big screen! It also made me happy to know that she had come so far.

I thought the movie was fantastic.  The director uses many close-up shots to focus on the character’s faces, allowing the audience to see into the character’s souls and make a connection with them. These are strong, proud, and faithful people despite their hardships. “Queen of Katwe” sends the message that education does not make people smart or intelligent.  Education allows brilliant people to sharpen their minds. There are some interesting scenes in the movie that show that there is even prejudice among Africans against their own people.  The affluent, educated students that participate in the chess tournaments, as well as the tournament sponsors, turn-up their noses at the kids from Katwe. Eventually, when they show their chess skills, the Katwe kids earn the respect of their opponents.

This is a must see movie.  There are so many lessons learned within this film.  We see how much Harriet loves her family by the sacrifices she makes to allow Phiona to play chess and go to school. We also see how much the children love and respect their mother. One night, they give up their dinner portions to allow the mother to eat. We learn that if we work hard, stand tall, and believe in ourselves, our dreams can become reality.

I see Oscars in the future for the stars and the movie itself.  I also see this movie being shown in schools once it becomes available. “Queen of Katwe” is rated PG and opens Friday, September 30, 2016, get your tickets now.  I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. Please post your comments to let me know what you think about the movie.  – BMT

 

Movie Review – “Sausage Party,” Directed by Conrad Vernon & Greg Tiernan

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Literally the expressions you will make while watching this film! Image obtained from sausagepartymovie.com

Seth Rogen’s long-awaited animated comedy opens in theaters on Friday, August 12, 2016.  I use the term, “long-awaited,” because I recently saw Seth on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, where he told Jimmy that he had been working on this film for ten years!  Also, media hype for this movie has been going on for several months now. I, personally, was anxious to see it and I have to say that I was a bit disappointed.  The trailer, which is also R-rated, really does highlight the funniest scenes.

Rogen co-wrote the screenplay with Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, and Evan Goldberg. The story is written by Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and Jonah Hill. These three guys are good friends, comedians, screen-writers, and  producers.  I would say that Sausage Party gives us a pretty good glimpse into their somewhat warped minds!  Really, thinking about the characters Jonah Hill and Seth Rogen have played, we shouldn’t expect much more (or less) from this movie!  What is hard to believe is the star-studded cast, along with Seth who plays Frank and Jonah who plays Carl, (both sausages/hot-dogs) are:

  • Kristen Wiig – Brenda – a hot-dog bun;
  • Bill Hader – Firewater – a bottle of tequila and El Guaco – guacamole;
  • Michael Cera – Barry – one of the sausages;
  • James Franco – a human drug addict;
  • Danny McBride – Honey Mustard;
  • Craig Robinson – Mr. Grits – a box of Grits;
  • Paul Rudd – the grocery store manager;
  • Nick Kroll – Douche – a bottle of douche;
  • David Krumholtz – Vash – a lavash;
  • Edward Norton – Sammy Bagel Jr. – a bagel;
  • Salma Hayek – Teresa – a taco;
  • Anders Holm – Troy – another one of the sausages;
  • Greg Tiernan – Potato;
  • Sugar Lyn Beard – Baby Carrots;
  • Lauren Miller – Camille Toh – a tampon; and
  • Scott Underwood – Twink – a twinkie and Gum – a wad of chewed-up bubble gum.

Seth seemed amazed when he told Jimmy Fallon that he actually got eight-time Oscar-winning composer, Alan Menken, who wrote musical scores for movies such as “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin”, to do the music for this movie.  I have to say that if Sausage Party wins any Oscars it will be for the music and animation, which are both fantastic. The food is really brought to life and you briefly forget you are watching a cartoon and get caught up in the drama!  There’s even a heated love story between Frank (Rogen) and Brenda (Wiig)! Seth said that he wanted it to have the feel of a Disney/Pixar film by bringing food to life, but it’s “deranged and insane” because, as Rogen said, “the secret life of food is horrifying, because you eat it.”

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Frank and Brenda can’t wait to be taken home by the “human gods.”  Image obtained from sausagepartymovie.com

This movie is rated – R.  It cannot be stressed enough that it is NOT for children. Even Rogen said it was hard to find a trailer that could be viewed on TV. The trailer on the website requires users to confirm they are 17 or older! Several people brought their children and were warned by the screening host that it was not a movie for children and gave them an opportunity to leave; they did not.  Can somebody say, “bad moms?” LOL! Please trust me; get a sitter, unless you want your kids saying the “F” and other choice curse words and putting their food and/or themselves into sexual poses just in time for the new school year! No joke, this is literally an hour and a half animated movie with enough sex, drugs, and violence to own up to its R-rating; there’s even a rape scene! When I asked my 17-year old daughter what she thought about the movie, she said, “we watched food have sex for an hour!”  I laughed and told her that she just came up with the perfect review! She was looking forward to seeing it more than I and she, too, was disappointed. I hate to say this, because I do not condone drug use and/or excessive drinking, but I think the only people that will really enjoy this movie are those that are high on something.  Honestly, I don’t think Hollywood should be sending out that type of message. I think there should be more movies that stress NOT to do drugs. In my opinion, good comedy does not and should not require its audience to be inebriated. Although meant to be taken in good-humor, I suspect this movie may drum up some controversy from those without a sense of humor, as there are stereotypical jokes and innuendos about Hispanics, Blacks, Jews, and Muslims.

The movie was screened by a full-house (the line was already looped around the theater hallway two-hours before the scheduled start time.)  There was a lot of laughter from the crowd, but many times you could hear gasps of “OMG” and “eeewww,” because what we were watching was so absurd, profane, violent, and nothing one would expect from an animated movie! Even though my daughter is 17, I felt embarrassed watching it with her! I see it is getting mixed reviews, so, as I always say, don’t let me stop you from forming your own opinion.  If you were waiting to see it, by all means go.  It’s not the worst movie I’ve ever seen. Personally, I’d wait for the DVD, but that’s just my unsolicited opinion. What’s your opinion? If you see it, please let me know by posting your comments. – BMT

Post-Script – 8/16/16 – I screened Ben-Hur tonight in the same theater that is now showing Sausage Party and there was a sign outside the door stating that the movie is Rated – R and that it is for audiences 17 and older, it also states that no-one under the age of 7 is permitted into the theater!  This sign was also posted outside the theater at the box office.

“Bad Moms” – So Good, It’s BAD!

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Photo obtained from  http://stxmovies.com/badmoms/

“Bad Moms” stars Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Jay Hernandez, Clark Duke, Annie Mumolo, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Christina Applegate.  Written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore of “The Hangover,” it’s a comedy about stereotypical mothers of all types.  The movie of course has some exaggerated scenes to enhance the hilarity, but the basic premise is one that all Moms, even Dads, can relate to. Single working Moms, working Moms in two-parent households, and even stay-at-home Moms are often overworked, under-appreciated, and most of all judged by fellow parents that think they are doing  this “parenting thing,” better.  Let’s face it, kids don’t come with an operating manual, every child is different, and every parent has their own individual parenting style.  There’s no “how to be a good parent” book that can possibly cover every scenario faced by parents. We all make mistakes; it’s trial and error! Every Mom has been a bad one at some point, but we all do the best we can and what matters in the end is that our children are, and know they are, loved and that as their parents, we would do anything to protect them.

As I searched for photos to post with this review, I came across a cute and funny photo of a note a kid must have given his or her Mom, it read, “I dedicate this book to my Mom, who is sometimes very grouchy!” (the photo was from momgrind.com and apparently can’t be reproduced.) It reminded me of a recent card my daughter made for me, in which she wrote, “. . .even though you are sometimes ugly and mean, you are still my best friend.”  Our kids know deep down that even when we are at our very worst, they are the best thing(s) in our lives and we love them with all of our hearts. The end of the movie is really cute when the real Moms of the movie’s cast talk about their parenting methods and commend their daughters for being good Moms.

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Photo from stxmovies.com/badmoms

This photo is from my favorite scene of the movie, Amy, (Mila Kunis) is asked to take on a PTA committee and she just flat out says, “No.” Everyone in the room was shocked because no one had the guts to stand up the PTA President, (Christina Applegate). The PTA President is your typical perfect and affluent Mom, who seems to have it all together, seems to have everything, and is the alpha-dog of the group, delegating to everyone. Sometimes, as a Mom, and more so when you are a single Mom, you have to just stop taking on responsibilities.  You just get burnt out.  Recently, I was a member of a committee and I was asked to take on an additional task, and I too just said, “no.”  I remember hearing gasps from other members; they couldn’t believe that I was bold enough to refuse.  There comes a point when you just have to consider your own sanity and be your own advocate. This scene was the turning point; Amy began a revolution and that’s when it gets really funny!

This is a movie you don’t want to miss. You will laugh so hard at some points, you may not hear some lines, as I did, and may even want to see it again!  It’s so good, that it’s “bad.”  A perfect movie for date night or girls’ night out.  Please keep in mind, even though it’s about Moms, it’s for Moms, rated R, and not for kids.  It’s OK to be a bad Mom sometimes, but taking kids to this movie is not a good idea.

Please let me know what you think. – BMT

 

Movie Review – “Popstar Never Stop Never Stopping”

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Photo of movie screen by RCT with Snapchat filter

While what looks like may have been the majority of screening viewers were undoubtedly crying their eyes out watching “Me Before You” tonight, we were screaming and crying with laughter.  We chose to see “Popstar – Never Stop Never Stopping” tonight at the Santikos Palladium Theater, along with about 75 other viewers.

In the words of my daughter/assistant/photographer, RCT, “Popstar” is, “Everything I love about the Lonely Island, wrapped up into one movie!”

The movie, written by and starring Andy Samberg, is a parody of a documentary about the struggles and triumphs faced by today’s pop stars.  The movie stars several “Saturday Night Live” Alumni – Maya Rudolph, Tim Meadows, Bill Hader, and Jimmy Fallon – along with Joan Cusack, Justin Timberlake, and the other two thirds of the Lonely Island – Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer.  All of whom give their typically funny performances.  However, what really adds to the fun and gives the movie it’s “documentary feel” are the cameos by famous artists, such as – Ringo Starr, Ed Sheeran, Mariah Carey, Usher, Sir Paul McCartney, Adam Levine, Pink, Simon Cowell, Mario Lopez, Snoop Dogg, and many many more!  There are so many, I apologize to those I missed.

Through the sarcasm and humor, Popstar teaches some valuable life lessons about friendship.  I don’t remember the exact quote, but the message Samberg clearly wanted to relay is that fame (life) is full of ups and downs and through it all you need to remain true to yourself always and “don’t be an A**H***!” 

Popstar is a perfect summer movie!  We hope you enjoy the show. Please come back and post your comments. – BMT

Way Back Wednesday – Movie Review – “Age of Adaline”

For way back Wednesday, here’s my review of Age of Adaline.  I was flipping through the channels the other day and noticed it is playing on Showtime or Cinemax.  Check your cable/dish listings.  If you haven’t seen it already or even if you have, it’s worth watching.  What do you think about never growing old? Do you see Adaline as blessed or cursed? Please post your comments here or on the Facebook page. – BMT

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is Hilarious!

12115716_1715720198671841_6890593920353150398_nBravo!  “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” is hilarious!  Nia Vardalos is a comedy genius! Often a sequel, especially one that pops up 14 years later, is not as good as the first movie and leaves the audience disappointed.  This is not the case here!  It doesn’t hurt that the original cast with their same comedic chemistry returns. You will laugh, tear up at the heartfelt moments and even cry with laughter! My daughter and I were laughing so hard we were screaming!!  We took my mom with us and she loved it too!  My Mom is Italian, the Xeni (foreigner) married to my father, the native Greek, also named, Gus! My daughter and I determined that she is a cross between Thea Voula and Yia Yia Maria – so you see, this movie isn’t just for Greeks, most families of European culture can relate to the  Portokalos family; that’s what makes this franchise classic!

Watch the official trailer here:

At the conclusion of the original movie, we learned that Ian (John Corbett) and Toula (Nia Vardalos) have a daughter and they couldn’t help but carry on the expectation that she attend Greek School.  Now, we meet Paris, (the Miller’s 17-year old daughter, who finds herself smothered by the entire Portokalos extended family.)  As is often the case, we find ourselves doing all the things that our parents did to us and Toula is no exception!  Though she and Ian do realize that they need to let Paris (Elena Kampouris) make her own choice as to where she will go to college, they make it pretty clear their preference is for her to remain in Chicago.

Her Grandfather, Gus (Michael Constantine), in his true Greek Papou brutally honest nature, tells her that she should not waste her eggs and needs to find a Greek boy to marry, while Yia Yia Maria (Lainie Kazan) reminds her to keep her “poulaki” covered (Greek word for little bird and cutesie slang word for female privates!) Toula understands how it feels to be smothered and realizes that she needs to take a step back and let her little bird fly from the nest. Being a Greek mother of my own 17-year old daughter, one of my favorite quotes from Toula was, “even though I’m taking a step back, I will always be right here.”

As is typical for all Greek families, everyone has their nose in each other’s business and everyone pulls together through good times and bad.  Thea Voula (Andrea Martin) is back with her meddling personality and her candid/personal stories which always contain TMI! Ian’s parents are back too and in true Greek fashion have become part of the extended Portokalos family.  The entire family has their hand in planning yet another “Big Fat Greek” wedding and it’s fantastic! Rita Wilson shows off her beautiful voice by singing a classic Greek Song at the wedding.

This movie celebrates Greeks, family, and a young girl’s struggle for independence from her Greek family!  Ironically, it’s no coincidence that it opens on March 25 – the day all Christians celebrate the Annunciation by the Archangel Gabriel of the Incarnation of Jesus to the Virgin Mary.  March 25 is also Greek Independence Day; the day Greeks celebrate Independence from the Turks!

The root of the word “ironically” comes from the Ancient Greek word, εἰρωνεία (eirōneía), which means “dissimulation, feigned ignorance.” So, there you go, Nia Vardalos was not ignorant in her decision to open a Big Fat Greek movie on a Big Fat Greek holiday!!

We screened the movie at the Palladium, which was also screening Batman vs. Superman.  Even though the Marvel movies are extremely popular, fans came out in droves to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.  While the line for the Batman/Superman movie slowly grew, the theater line was over capacity for this movie. Our friends, who arrived a few minutes after us, were turned away.  For a while it looked like we weren’t going to make it into the screening either.  Even though I’ve been screening and reviewing movies for a long time, my passes are “first come first served.”  (@UniversalPictures can you hear me? press passes, PLEASE! ) We had to sit in the second row, which took some adjusting for this far-sighted girl and made for a much bigger and fatter Greek experience!!!

The word “hilarious” comes from the Greek: ἱλαρός (pronounced hilaros,) meaning joyous, cheerful. So, there you go. You will find yourself in a state of hilarity while watching “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.” You will leave believing you are Greek. After all we are all descendants of Alexander the Great, aren’t we?!  When the movie was over, I heard many people saying, “I wish I was Greek.” So, here’s my unsolicited  but freely given advice to you – you MUST see this movie! My advise to Nia Vardalos – don’t let your ink dry – you know we Greeks do everything in three’s, so start writing “3” ASAP, we don’t want to wait another 14 years for a Big Fat New York wedding!!! OPA!

After you see the movie, please share your comments.

 

Honoring his Memory – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

5803aa10f233395ea187bc9b2268ae69In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., here’s my review of “Selma.” Several theaters are showing this movie today, such as Alamo Drafthouse Cinema here in San Antonio. A must see, if you haven’t, and a good one to see again if you have!

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in a letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963.- BMT

Link to Original Facebook Post

https://www.facebook.com/ReviewsoftheArtsSA/posts/804739179591776

Or Read it Right Here

Review – Selma Movie – directed by Ava DuVernay

In one word – Powerful!

Fantastic performances by David Oyelowo, Oprah Winfrey Cuba Gooding, Jr.and the entire cast. The cast is a diverse group of actors that were carefully selected. Most of the actors look like the actual key players from the movement. The cinematographic use of lighting was fantastic.

Speaking for myself, a Generation Xer, I didn’t fully understand the magnitude of the oppression and the brutality that African Americans and their supporters faced during the early 60s and the “peaceful” marches lead by Dr. King. I only heard about the freedom marches in school history books, reprinted news articles, and short clips of old news footage. “Selma” gives insight into the “back stories” of the marchers and brings the characters from the history books to life. Their faith in the Lord, in Dr. King’s vision, and their passion to fully obtain their God-given rights kept them strong and fearless. After seeing this movie and understanding the lengths they went to, to be able to vote, every person who is of age to vote should exercise that right every time!

These civil rights activists can be considered modern-day martyrs – heroes. They all marched knowing the dangers they would face. Just as our Lord gave himself up, knowing he would be put on the cross and like so many others that died for their causes. I believe this is why Dr. King called for members of the clergy throughout the U.S. to march with him. As an Orthodox Christian, I heard that His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos supported Dr. King, but I didn’t realize he actually marched with him across the bridge in Selma.

The movie starts out very dark and progressively gets brighter signifying the accomplishment of their mission at the Birmingham courthouse. It was impressive to the direct impact Martin Luther King, Jr. and all his followers’ (black and white) march from Selma to Birmingham had on President Johnson’s effecting laws ensuring the voting rights of African Americans. Proof that violence isn’t necessary to effectuate change.

You may find these articles interesting.

http://www.toledoblade.com/…/Unitarian-minister-recalls-nig…

http://usa.greekreporter.com/…/black-history-month-and-the…/

When you see the movie, look at this photo. It’s amazing how much the movie characters look just like the people in the photo!

archbishop-iakovos-and-martin-luther-king-at-selmaSelma Movie is definately Oscar worthy! It opens Friday, January 9 – see it! – BMT

Comments, Please

What do you think? Please post your comments, memories, or favorite quotes.