Rating: About Ratings
Opens: 11/22/2017
Running Time: 129
Rated: PG-13
Cast: Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell and Carmen Ejogo.
Crew: Director: Dan Gilroy. Producers Denzel Washington, Brian Oliver, Donald Sparks and Lucas Tanner. Executive Producers: Michael Bloom, Jason Cloth, Betsy Danbury, derek Dauchy, Aaron L. Gilbert, Poppy Hanks, Charles D. King, Alex Lebovici, Adam Pincus, Steve Ponce, Ben Ross, Kim Roth and Donald Sparks.
REVIEW: By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

LOS ANGELES, CALIF-- With his latest movie, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” Denzel Washington steps outside of his comfort zone and delivers a mesmerizing performance unlike any other thus far in his illustrious career.

This is Washington like you’ve never seen him before.


Roman J. Israel (Washington) is a brilliant activist attorney who has been practicing law in Los Angeles for more than 30 years. He’s a silent partner at the small firm he works at with his niece, Lynn (Amanda Warren, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”).

Although Roman suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, it doesn’t hold him back in any way. The guy can rattle off the California legal code and any other legalese you throw at him.

Everything about Roman is old school and actually just screams old. He’s been stuck in a 1960s time warp of sorts. His baggy, wrinkled clothes are out style, his afro—well that’s actually back in style now--his glasses and the bulky briefcase he carries around all just seem out of sorts.

Roman has spent the majority of his career defending those who can’t defend themselves. In other words, mostly poor people. Most of the cases he takes are pro-bono.

As much as he and Lynn want to do the right thing and help those who don’t get a fair shake, doing so doesn’t always pay the bills, rent or buy much good food as evidenced by Roman’s daily meals of peanut butter sandwiches which he eats at his hole-in-the wall apartment.

When Lynn informs Roman that the firm’s main partner—who we never see-- has a heart attack and the firm has to move forward or else go under, Roman is cast aside quicker than yesterday’s newspaper.

It’s a cold blow especially since Roman was really the guiding force behind the firm. He believes he should take the reins now. But, the few cases that Roman has presided over have landed him in contempt of court.

So, Lynn decides to turn everything over to a larger legal firm headed by a slick lawyer named George Pierce (a terrific Colin Farrell, “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”). George will clean up the finances, get more clients and hopefully get things back on track.

Meanwhile, poor Roman is out of a job. He applies for a position with a non-profit group run by Maya Alston (a terrific Carmen Ejogo, “It Comes at Night”). Maya loves Roman passion, but doesn’t have any money to pay him.

That leaves Roman pondering whether he should throw his ethics aside and work with George (Farrell). After all, this is a guy who is more interested in his bottom line than people. Roman has to do something, because he’s on the road to nowhere right now.

Once Roman agrees to join George, things start out fairly well. George even loves the knowledge that Roman brings to the firm and he has him working on several cases.

However, Roman soon gets caught up in one that truly compromises his integrity and sets him on a collision course that’s difficult to recover from.

“Roman J. Israel, Esq,” from director/screenwriter Dan Gilroy (“Nightcrawler”) is such a fascinating character study and Denzel Washington is so astonishing in the role, that you almost overlook the movie’s other shortcomings, notably a saggy middle section and an easy out ending.

Still, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” is a good movie that Washington elevates to excellent.

Be sure to catch my movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays at 6:40 p.m. on radio station KFBK 1530 AM and 93.1 FM.

Check Out This Trailer For "ROMAN J. ISRAEL ESQ."

Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), the Black Reel Awards Voting Academy...

Rated: PG
Opens: 11/22/2017

Rated: R
Opens: 11/22/2017
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Rated: PG-13
Opens: 11/17/2017
Justice League

Rated: R
Opens: 11/17/2017
Last Flag Flying

Rated: R
Opens: 11/03/2017
A Bad Mom's Christmas


Lady Sings The Blues Title: Lady Sings The Blues
Year Released: 1972
Running Time: 144
Production Company: Paramount Pictures
Director: Sidney J. Furie
Director of Photography: John A. Alonzo
Screenwriter: Suzanne De Passe
Author: By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

REVIEW: When you’ve watched a movie so many times that you basically know the dialogue verbatim, that movie really means something and resonates with you.

The 1972 autobiographical drama, “Lady Sings the Blues” is the one for me. No matter how many times I see it, it never gets old.

Directed by Sidney J. Furie (“Iron Eagle” and “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace”), “Lady Sings the...

Good Time <b>(Nov. 21)</b> Title: Good Time (Nov. 21)
Year Released: 2017
Running Time: 99
Production Company: A24 Pictures
Director: Benny Safdie
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


In “Good Time,” directed by the brother team of Benny and Josh Safdie (“Daddy Longlegs” and “Heaven Knows What”), Robert Pattinson branches out and a delivers a stark, gritty and dark performance as a thugged out petty criminal named Connie Nikas.

We don’t know why Connie’s (Pattinson) life has spiraled out of control. However, we see that he doesn’t want to be without his mentally disabled brother Nick (Benny Safdie).

Connie can’t bear the thought of Nick being placed in a special needs facility in New York, so he breaks in one of his therapy sessions and insists he go with him.

You know right away things aren’t going to turn out good for either of them especially when Connie convinces Nick to help him rob a bank. Even Nick knows that’s a stupid idea and looks as if he’d rather be back at his therapy session. But Nick goes along with Connie’s crazy scheme anyway.

Nick and Connie pose as masked wearing black guys and head into the local bank demanding the African-American teller place $65,000 in a bag. She does, but Nick and Connie don’t get far before their easy money literally blows up in their faces.

The cops spot them walking away all red-faced. Nick panics and runs. He’s soon caught and taken to jail. Connie gets away and is determined to get Nick out of jail. So much so, he reaches out to his girlfriend, Corey (Jennifer Jason Leigh, TV’s “Twin Peaks”) hoping she can get one of her mom’s credit cards to pay for his bail.

As this drama unfolds, poor Nick is getting beat down by an inmate at Rikers Island. He winds up in the hospital. Connie, messes up again when he sneaks into the hospital to get Nick, but somehow mistakenly gets another patient in a wheelchair. Turns out the guy is a parolee named Ray (Buddy Duress, “Heaven Knows What”) and a really stupid criminal too.

If you think all this sounds pretty crazy, well, you’re right. It is. However, “Good Time” screenwriters Josh Safdie and Ronald Bronstein (“Heaven Knows What”) makes sure your eyeballs stay glued to this frenetic thrill ride. It’s a gritty, good time.

Leap! <b> (Nov. 21) </b> Title: Leap! (Nov. 21)
Year Released: 2017
Running Time: 89
Production Company: Entertainment. One
Director: Eric Summer and Eric Warin
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


“Leap!,” the animated movie from directors Eric Summer and Eric Warin is cute and charming and should resonate with every little ballerina with a dream.

This underdog and inspirational story centers on Felicie (Elle Fanning, “The Beguiled”), a vivacious, 11-year-old orphan who is stuck in a drab, old orphanage in Brittany (France) with her friend Victor (Nat Wolff, “The Fault in Our Stars”).

Felicie wants to escape the rural orphanage and become a world-famous ballerina in Paris.

Victor has plans too. He longs to be an inventor. The kid can fix just about anything, although his “flying chicken wings” still need some work. He also likes Felicie a lot.

“Leap!” is set in 1879 Paris and the backdrop of La Ville Lumière (The City of Light) is dazzling.

Felicie and Victor plan their night time escape, but are soon are being chased by Luteau, the orphanage warder (Mel Brooks, “Blazing Samurai”) on his creaky, old motorcycle.

Once they manage to escape Luteau, they hop a train to Paris. Soon a world of adventure and excitement awaits them. That is until the two are briefly separated by a slight, freak accident.
Felicie finally makes her way to the Opera Ballet School.

It’s here she meets the school janitor, Odette (pop star, Carly Rae Jepsen, “Sing”), a young woman with a bad limp. Felicie offers to help her with her cleaning chores after Odette’s boss berates her work habits.

Felicie learns Odette is a former ballerina who was destined to be the best in the world, until suffering a dance injury that derailed her dreams.

Odette sees something in Felicie. She likes her enthusiasm and love of dance. Never mind that Felicie has never stepped foot on a stage to perform or taken one dance lesson. But her desire knows no limitations. In fact, she does the unthinkable and steals the identity of one of the school’s petulant, rich girls named Camille Le Haut (Maddie Ziegler, TV’s “Giggles Talk”) just so she can have a shot at trying out for the role of Clara in the Paris Opera Ballet's production of “The Nutcracker.” Camille is pure evil. She gets her snootiness from her mother (voice of Kate McKinnon, “SNL”).

When Odette agrees to train and work with Felicie she works religiously to prove to herself, Odette and the fastidious ballet director, Mérante (Terrence Scammell, TV’s “Arthur”) that she was indeed born to do this.

Meanwhile, Victor has meets a guy (Tamir Kapelian, “Lofty Dreams”) who allows him to tinker in his workshop. Victor soon perfects those flying chicken wings—which come in quite handy during a daring rescue of Felicie.

With its kid-friendly humor and bouncy music courtesy of Demi Lovato and Carly Rae Jepsen, “Leap!” is a pleasant little surprise.

The Hitman's Bodyguard <b>(Nov. 21)</b> Title: The Hitman's Bodyguard (Nov. 21)
Year Released: 2017
Running Time: 118
Production Company: Lionsgate Films
Director: Patrick Hughes
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


Samuel L. Jackson (“Kong: Skull Island”) and Ryan Reynolds (“Deadpool”) are a dynamic duo in the dramedy, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard.”

Despite the movie’s hackneyed and silly storyline, it’s Reynolds and Jackson’s star power that keeps it from going off the rails.

Directed by Patrick Hughes (“The Expendables 3”) and written by Tom O’Connor, (“Fire with Fire”), “The Hitman’s Bodyguard is reminiscent of the buddy cop/action films of the 1980s and 1990s like “Midnight Run,” “Lethal Weapon” and “Die Hard with a Vengeance.”

Reynolds plays Michael Bryce, a bodyguard who used to be at the top of his game. So much so, his classification rank was listed as an “Executive Protection Agent.”

Michael’s claim to fame was that he never lost a client. So, a lot of high-ranking officials requested his services. But Michael’s good fortune changes instantly when a Japanese arms dealer he was guarding gets whacked seconds after boarding his private plane.

And just like that, Michael’s “A” rating is gone and his reputation is tarnished. Now, he spends his days doing some free-lance gigs and pretty much hating his new life.

For a minute, it seems that luck is about to shine on Michael when his Interpol ex-girlfriend, Amelia (Elodie Yung, TV’s “The Defenders”) asks him for a favor.

She needs him to take notorious hitman, Darius Kincaid (Jackson, crazy as ever), from the United Kingdom to the International Court of Justice so he can testify against a Belarusian thug named Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman, “The Space Between Us”).

There’s reason to be worried about Darius’ safety because every witness that’s testified against Vladislav has turned up dead.

Then again, as Darius’s feisty, incarcerated wife, Sonia (a scene stealing, Salma Hayek, “Beatriz at Dinner”) knows, Darius is too smart and incapable of being killed. By the way, Hayek’s jail scene and her flashback bar fight are hilarious and two of the highlights of the movie.

Michael decides to take the assignment and it’s on. Especially when he meets Darius and realizes they know each other and are mortal enemies.

But now, they’re forced to get along. As you can imagine, Darius’ hard-edged ways don’t jibe with Michael’s by the book, straight laced tactics. And their entire banter—including Darius’ profanity laced one-liners--get lots of laughs.

Atomic Blonde <b> (Nov. 14) </b> Title: Atomic Blonde (Nov. 14)
Year Released: 2017
Running Time: 115
Production Company: Focus Features
Director: David Leitch
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


Charlize Theron can be all girly-girly when she wants to be, but she shuns her softer side and gets rough and tough in the spy thriller, “Atomic Blonde.”

She’s way more hard-core here than in “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “The Fate of the Furious.”

“Atomic Blonde” is based on Antony Johnston and Sam Hart's 2012 graphic novel “The Coldest City.” It’s set in 1989 on the eve of the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

Theron stars as Lorraine Broughton, a cold-blooded and sexy MI6 agent who is on assignment in Berlin to investigate the murder of a former colleague.

She’s also looking for a defecting Stasi operative named Spyglass (Eddie Marsan, “Concussion” and TV’s “Ray Donovan”).

He’s carrying around an important list with names of double agents who are being smuggled into the West. If the document gets into the hands of the Soviets it would compromise everything.

While in Berlin, Lorraine connects with her fellow agent David Percival (James McAvoy, “Split” and the upcoming “X Men: Dark Phoenix”). This cat could be playing both sides. Lorraine has reasons not to trust him, especially when things go south with the investigation and the KGB is soon hot on her tail.

Then again, as a spy, Lorraine’s used to being crossed and double-crossed. Actually, she’s not even sure she can trust her own bosses like CIA honcho, Emmett Kurzfeld, (John Goodman, “Kong: Skull Island” and upcoming TV remake “Roseanne”) and agent Eric Gray (Toby Jones, TV’s “Sherlock,” and upcoming “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”).

They don’t seem to believe her story—which is often shown in flashbacks—about how things went down during the entire ordeal.

However, Lorraine does meet a French intelligence specialist named Delphine Lasalle (Sofia Boutella, “Star Trek: Beyond”) who literally has her back.
“Atomic Blonde,” from screenwriter Kurt Johnstad (“Act of Valor” and “300: Rise of an Empire”), is a pretty standard spy drama.

In fact, in some ways it reminded me of Angelina Jolie’s 2010 Russian thriller, “Salt.” Except Jolie—while bad to the bone in that movie—can’t hang with Theron who did most of her own martial arts stunts in “Atomic Blonde.” This could be an explosive, franchise starter for Theron.
BFCA BACK ON CW NETWORK By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:


The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA) have announced that the 23rd Annual Critics’ Choice Awards will air live on The CW Network on January 11, 2018 (8-10 p.m. ET/PT).

The show, will continue its combined Film and Television awards format, honoring the finest in both cinematic and televised/streaming achievement, and take place once again at The Barker Hangar in Santa Monica.

Yours truly, who is a proud, card-carrying member of the BFCA, will attend the gala celebration.

Last year, the awards show aired on the A&E Network on Dec. 11, moving from its traditional date of January 17. While it provided a jump on the awards season competition, moving the show to December also left many critics rushed to receive and view all screeners in time for voting. The move back to its traditional show date of Jan. 11 is welcomed.

"BFCA and BTJA are thrilled to be back on The CW, where many of our finest CCA shows were nurtured," said BFCA President Joey Berlin. "The CW is home to some of the best shows anywhere on broadcast television, and we're looking forward to being back in their company for years to come. The Critics’ Choice Awards show has grown to be one of the most important and star-studded in Hollywood - and perhaps the most fun. We can't wait to gather the brightest lights in film and television together again for what is sure to be a spectacular event on Jan. 11."

“We are delighted to welcome the Critics’ Choice Awards back to The CW, and showcase the best of both film and television during this live event in January,” said Gaye Hirsch, The CW’s head of development, who also oversees alternative and special programming. “As award season kicks into high gear, we’re thrilled we can bring viewers an exciting night filled with the biggest and brightest stars in Hollywood.”

The BFCA and BTJA also announced new timelines for the Film and Television awards:


Nominating ballots go out to BFCA members

December 4, 2017 – Deadline for returning nominating ballots

December 6, 2017 – Critics’ Choice Awards Film nominations announced

January 8, 2018 – Final ballots go out to BFCA members January 9, 2018 – Deadline for returning final ballots.


November 20, 2017 – Nomination Committees begin consideration

December 4, 2017 – Nomination Committees render recommendations

December 6, 2017 – Critics’ Choice Awards TV nominations announced

January 8, 2018 – Final ballots go out to BTJA members

January 9, 2018 – Deadline for returning final ballots.

The 23rd Annual Critics' Choice Awards show will be produced by Bob Bain Productions and Berlin Entertainment.

The BFCA and BTJA are represented by Dan Black of Greenberg Traurig and WME.

The 22nd Annual Critics’ Choice Awards were hosted by actor and comedian T.J. Miller.

“La La Land,” the most nominated film of the evening, took home eight awards, the most of the night, including “Best Picture,” “Best Director” and “Best Original Screenplay” (a tie) for Damien Chazelle, “Best Cinematography” for Linus Sandgren, “Best Production Design” for David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco, “Best Editing” for Tom Cross, “Best Song,” and “Best Score” for Justin Hurwitz.

Nominated for six awards, the most of any series was, “The People v. O.J. Simpson” (FX) which took home four trophies including “Best Movie Made for Television or Limited Series.”

Sarah Paulson won for “Best Actress” in a “Movie Made for Television or Limited Series,” Courtney B. Vance for “Best Actor in a Movie Made for Television or Limited Series,” and Sterling K. Brown for “Best Supporting Actor in a Movie Made for Television or Limited Series. “

ABOUT THE CRITICS’ CHOICE AWARDS”-- The Critics’ Choice Awards are bestowed annually by the BFCA and BTJA to honor the finest in cinematic and television achievement.

The BFCA is the largest film critics' organization in the United States and Canada, representing more than 300 television, radio and online critics. BFCA members are the primary source of information for today's film-going public.

BTJA is the collective voice of journalists who regularly cover television for TV viewers, radio listeners and online audiences.

Historically, the “Critics’ Choice Awards” are the most accurate predictor of the Academy Award nominations.

ABOUT BFCA/BTJA--The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) is the largest film critics organization in the United States and Canada, representing more than 300 television, radio and online critics.

The Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA) is a partner organization to the BFCA and includes TV, radio and Internet journalists who cover television on a regular basis. For more information, visit:

ABOUT THE CW--The CW Network launched in 2006 as America’s fifth broadcast network, with programming targeting younger viewers, a demographic highly sought after by advertisers. The CW, a joint venture between Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corporation, broadcasts a five-night, 10-hour primetime lineup, Monday through Friday.

The CW’s primetime programming is also available to stream for free, without authentication, on the ad-supported cwtv.comand The CW app, now available on every major OTT platform. In daytime, The CW broadcasts a Monday through Friday afternoon block, and a five-hour Saturday morning kids block. The CW’s digital network, CW Seed, launched in 2013, and offers original short-form digital content as well as past seasons of fan-favorite television series.

For more information about the network and its programming, visit

Follow the 23rd Annual Critics’ Choice Awards on Twitter and Instagram @CriticsChoice and on Facebook/CriticsChoiceAwards.

Editor’s Note: Information obtained in this article provided by the BFCA/BTJA.

justice league By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:


Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman's selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy.

“Justice League: The IMAX Experience” will open on Nov. 16 at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are on sale at the theatre box office and online at

The IMAX release of “Justice League” will be digitally re-mastered into the image and sound quality of the IMAX Experience with proprietary IMAX DMR (Digital Re-mastering) technology. The crystal-clear images, coupled with the Esquire IMAX Theatre’s six story high and 80 feet wide screen, customized theatre geometry and powerful digital audio, create a unique environment that will make audiences feel as if they are in the movie.

The Esquire IMAX Theatre is located at 1211 K Street in downtown Sacramento, CA. For information on tickets and showtimes, please call 916-443-IMAX (4629) or visit the website at


IMAX, an innovator in entertainment technology, combines proprietary software, architecture and equipment to create experiences that take you beyond the edge of your seat to a world you’ve never imagined. Top filmmakers and studios are utilizing IMAX theatres to connect with audiences in extraordinary ways, and, as such, IMAX’s network is among the most important and successful theatrical distribution platforms for major event films around the globe.

IMAX is headquartered in New York, Toronto and Los Angeles, with offices in London, Tokyo, Shanghai and Beijing. As of Dec. 31, 2016, there were 1,215 IMAX theatres (1,107 commercial multiplexes, 16 commercial destinations and 92 institutions) in 75 countries.

Editor’s Note: Some information used in this report obtained from IMAX publicity department.

AAFCA By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:


The African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) will hold its annual awards ceremony, the AAFCA Awards, on Feb. 7, 2018, said AAFCA President Gil Robertson.

The event, now in its ninth year, will celebrate the best of the year in film, television and new media in 18 categories including best picture, director, actor, actress, supporting actress, ensemble cast, independent film, documentary, animated film, foreign film, screenplay, music, new media, TV comedy and TV drama.

As previously announced, the 9th Annual AAFCA Awards will celebrate 2017 as the Year Of Women In Cinema. AAFCA will recognize the unprecedented number of women who have helmed this year’s critically and commercially successful features such as Patty Jenkins (“Wonder Woman”), Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”), Dee Rees (“Mudbound”), Angela Robinson (“Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman”), Kathryn Bigelow (“Detroit”), Valerie Faris (“Battle of the Sexes”), Bonni Cohen (“An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power”), Sofia Coppola (“The Beguiled”), Agnès Varda (“Faces and Places”) and Lynne Ramsay (“You Were Never Really Here”), among others.

The winners are chosen by AAFCA’s full membership which is comprised of African American journalists across the country. Voting takes place on Dec. 10, 2017 and winners will be announced to the media on Dec. 12, 2017. Those winners will be celebrated at the 9th Annual AAFCA Awards on Feb. 7, 2018 as awards season is in full swing.

AAFCA will also celebrate five honorary award recipients at the 9th Annual AAFCA Special Achievement Luncheon including writer/director Jordan Peele of of “Get Out,” ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey, Alcon Entertainment’s co-CEO’s Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove and Los Angeles Film Festival president Claudia Puig.


Established in 2003, AAFCA’s primary mission is to cultivate understanding, appreciation and advancement of the contributions of African descended talent to cinematic and television culture--from the artistic and technical legends of the past to the still unimagined breakthroughs of future generations of media content professionals.

AAFCA actively reviews cinema at-large, with a particular emphasis on films that include the Black experience.

The organization creates a platform for movies with universal appeal to the African-American community, while highlighting films produced, written, directed and starring persons from the African Diaspora.

AAFCA and its members are also involved in education and advocacy work that includes programming for students interested in film criticism and journalism.

AAFCA members are a geographically diverse cross-section of journalists, covering all genres of the cinematic arts, while representing multiple mediums – including print, TV, radio broadcast and online. Collectively, they reach a worldwide audience in excess of 100 million.

For more information on AAFCA and its programs visit AAFCA.COM.

Information used in this report obtained from the African-American Film Critics’ Association. (AAFCA).