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

Advertisements

“Deepwater Horizon” – Movie Review

img_20160928_190016

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

P

img_20160919_173759

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

 

Rest in Peace Garry Marshall

Somehow this sad news fell under my radar. Writer, producer, actor, Garry Marshall passed away on July 19, 2016.  He was 81 years old. As I feel it is always better late than never, I want to send my thoughts and prayers to Penny Marshall and the entire Marshall family. Garry Marshall was so incredibly talented, it would be terrible not to pay tribute to him. If you aren’t familiar with Garry’s career, just think back to your favorite TV show or movie since the 1960s and he probably had something to do with it. You name it, he’s likely written, produced, directed, and/or acted in it! Just to briefly list his accomplishments in television, he wrote for the Tonight Show Starring Jack Paar; The Danny Thomas Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Lucy Show, Gomer Pyle, and The Odd Couple, just to name a few.  More notably he was the creator and executive producer of classic hits such as Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley (starring his sister, Penny), Mork & Mindy, Angie, Joanie Loves Chachi, and he was the executive consultant for the current version of The Odd Couple, with executive producer, Matthew Perry.  Over the years, Garry starred in several TV shows and movies, including Goldfinger, A League of Their Own, Murphy Brown, The Simpsons, The Majestic, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Louie, Two and a Half Men, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Hot in Cleveland, and The Odd Couple.  

Garry was born, Garry Kent Masciarelli on November 13, 1934 in the Bronx, New York. His father, Anthony Masciarelli, an industrial filmaker, changed the family name to Marshall in 1934. Though I am not certain why, I do know that back in those days, due to discrimination, many Italian-Americans changed their names to something they believed to be less “ethnic.” Being a New Yorker of Italian descent, I have a special place in my heart for stars like Garry. I always enjoyed listening to him give interviews. His voice, that New York accent, always took me back home. I couldn’t post about Garry without a video clip, so here’s an interview Garry did on “CBS This Morning” in 2012 to promote his book, “My Happy Days in Hollywood.”  Such a humble and down-to earth man; they just don’t make them like that anymore.

(Video obtained from YouTube)

Movies Directed by Garry Marshall:

1982 Young Doctors in Love
1984 The Flamingo Kid
1986 Nothing In Common
1987 Overboard
1988 Beaches
1990 Pretty Woman
1991 Frankie and Johnny
1994 Exit to Eden
1996 Dear God
1999 The Other Sister
1999 Runaway Bride
2001 The Princess Diaries

2004 Raising Helen
2004 The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
2007 Georgia Rule
2010 Valentine’s Day
2011 New Year’s Eve
2016 Mother’s Day

If you are like me, you may be reading this list, thinking, “I didn’t know he did that!”  As you can see, not all of his work was comedy, but all of his work was brilliant!

In my research, I came across some of his quotes, “It’s always helpful to learn from your mistakes because then your mistakes seem worthwhile.” He also said, “Learn to work with people you wouldn’t go to lunch with.” Wise words to live by, don’t you think? The world has lost another great artistic legend. Rest in peace Garry. Eternal be his memory.

What’s your favorite Garry Marshall accomplishment? I’d love to hear about it.- BMT

In case you missed it – “Shades of Blue” Pilot

Shades of Blue - Season 1In case you heard everyone firing-off about “Shades of Blue” at work on Friday, but missed it.  You can check out the pilot here –

http://www.nbc.com/shades-of-blue/video/pilot/2961416?onid=250496#vc250496=1

Then don’t forget to set your DVR for Thursday nights, 9 p.m. on NBC.

 

280px-shades_of_blue_nbc_logo

Review – Shades of Blue – American Drama Series on NBC

shades of blue screenShades-of-Blue Pilot Screening at Santikos Palladium

shades of blue rini and I

Partners-in-Crime #shadesofblue

I was lucky to attend a screening, hosted by Hot 104.5, of the pilot for “Shades of Blue,” the new NBC Drama starring Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liotta with my partner-in-crime, my daughter! The producers provided free popcorn and drinks, a cool pair of blue shades and posters and a drawing ticket for a free flat screen TV to everyone in attendance. Some VIP attendees received free T-shirts as well.  I was not lucky enough to hold on to the winning ticket for the TV, but I did have the ticket in my hand.  I was tasked with passing tickets down the row to all those that posted their photos to social media using #shadesofblue and the winner was two seats away from me.  How do you know which ticket to keep for yourself and which to pass on?  I digress. . .

Shady Beginning

Ever since seeing the previews months ago, I’ve been (not so) patiently waiting to see this show.  JLo playing a police detective with Ray Liotta in a drama by executive producers Ryan Seacrest and Barry Levinson, who wouldn’t be excited?  How can you go wrong? Sometimes when the anticipation for a show or movie is so intense, when I finally get to see it, I tend to be disappointed. This show started out making me wonder if it was not going to be as good as I thought. I wasn’t sure it would hold my attention or if I’d want to add it to my DVR line-up along with “Law & Order SVU” and “Castle.” However, about 5 minutes in, perhaps after the first commercial break once it airs on TV, I was intrigued.  In the last minute I, along with everyone else in the room, was hooked by the heart-racing cliff hanger. Yes, it seems Shades of Blue will leave you wondering all week, “what will happen on the next episode?” It’s not your typical police drama where a crime is committed in the beginning of the episode and the detectives solve the crime and put away the bad guy by the end.

Shady Detectives

JLo plays Harlee Santos, a single mother working hard to be the best detective and parent, while struggling to keep her daughter in private school. Ray Liotta plays Matt Wozniak, her mentor, support system, and the leader of an underground extortion/money-laudering operation, which he believes is for “the greater good.” Detective Santos is being forced to work with the FBI.  As a single parent, I totally understand that sometimes the wrong choices seem right at the time because everything we do is with the best interests of our child(ren) in mind.

Shades of Blue is about the brotherhood of police officers, loyalty, family, selfishness, greed, and betrayal.  As one preview states, “even good cops do bad things.”

How everything unfolds is of course, the plot for this, not to be missed, show.  I think JLo’s performance is fantastic and the other actors do a great job as well.

See the official trailer – http://www.nbc.com/shades-of-blue/video/shades-of-blue-official-trailer/2932307

Shades-of-Blue Pilot Airs Thursday, January 7, 2016 on NBC at 10/9 p.m. Central

 

Watch it, and tell me what you think.  Post your comments below or on the Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/ReviewsoftheArtsSA   – BMT