MACK & RITA
Rating: About Ratings
Opens: 08/12/2022
Running Time: 95
Rated: PG-13
Cast: Elizabeth Lail, Loretta Devine, Diane Keaton, Amy Hill, Lois Smith, Wendie Malick, Simon Rex, Martin Short and Dustin Milligan.
Crew: Director: Katie Aselton. Producers: Diane Keaton, Stephanie Heaton, Jina Panabianco, Dori A. Rath, Alex Saks. Executive Producers: Lori Abrams, Brett Beveridge, Lauren Beveridge, Jean-Luc-De-Fanti, Steve Demmler, Terry Dougas, Paris Kassidokostas-Latsis, Dominic Medina, Joseph Panebianco, Joseph Panebianco, JoJo Ryder, Jackie Shenoo, R. Wesley Sierk and John Straley. Screenwriters: Madeline Walter and Paul Welsch. Cinematographer: Sean McElwee.
REVIEW: By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

It seems as if Hollywood can't get enough of body swap comedies. The latest one to hit the big screen is "Mack & Rita" from director/actress Katie Aselton (“Black Rock") and screenwriters/actors Madeline Walter (TV's "Brooklyn Nine-Nine") and Paul Welsh (TV's "Killing It").

"Mack and Rita" is similar to "13 Going on 30." Although it doesn't reinvent the body swap, rom-com, genre, it does bring some fun twists to it.

Elizabeth Lail (TV's "Ordinary Joe" and "Gossip Girl") plays an attractive 30-year-old writer named Mack Martin who is outgoing when she wants to be, but isn't always up to partying with her friends, especially her vivacious bestie, Carla (a funny Taylour Paige, "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom").

Mack would rather stay home or hang out with her stylish grandmother and her wine drinking friends which include Loretta DeVine, (TV's "P-Valley") and Lois Smith ("Uncle Frank"). She's just an old soul at heart. Much to the dismay of Mack's persnickety agent, Stephanie (Patti Harrison, "The Lost City"), Mack isn't thrilled about writing her next novel.

After being chided by Carla and her friends, Mack reluctantly agrees to go to Carla's bachelorette party in Palm Springs. While in town, Mack meets some shyster named Luka (Simon Rex, "Red Rocket") and she wanders into his regression pod/tanning tank and suddenly has an out of body experience.
She wakes up and surprisingly has turned into a 70-year-old version of herself, Aunt Rita (played delightfully by Diane Keaton, "Book Club 2: The Next Chapter").

Now, Rita/Mack is finally free to do what she wants without any judgements, and she loves it. She's so utterly likeable and spirited that even Mack's dog-sitter Jack (Dustin Milligan, TV's "Rutherford Falls") can't resist her charms.

Rita is truly living her best life. So much so, that she becomes a social media/Instagram sensation known by her legion of followers as Glammy Grammy.

Much of the fun in “Mack & Rita” comes from watching Keaton navigate through so many crazy situations. Yes, it's pure silliness, but Keaton sells it wholeheartedly. She also served as co-producer of the movie. Without her star presence, "Mack & Rita" likely wouldn't have even been made, but Keaton elevates everything she's in and makes it worthwhile. This quirky, funny comedy about being true to yourself regardless of age, is no exception.

Editor's Note: Be sure to catch my N2Entertainment.net movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays at 6:20 p.m. on radio station KFBK 93.1 FM and 1530 AM.

Watch This Trailer For "MACK & RITA"

Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), The American Film Institute (AFI), and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image...
 

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OLD SCHOOL VIDEO PICK OF THE MONTH

<b> BRIAN'S SONG</b> Title: BRIAN'S SONG
Year Released: 1971
Running Time: 73
Production Company: Screen Gems/Sony
Director: Buzz Kulik
Director of Photography: Joseph F. Biroc
Screenwriter: William Blinn
Author: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

REVIEW: In honor of legendary actor James Caan who died July 6 at age 82, N2Entertainment.net is re-running part of its Old School Video Pick review of "Brian's Song" which Caan starred in as Chicago Bears football great Brian Piccolo.

By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs, Editor-In-Chief

"Brian's Song" tells the remarkable story of the friendship between Piccolo and Gayle...
NEW ON DVD

Deep In The Forest Title: Deep In The Forest
Year Released: 2022
Running Time: 81
Production Company: Saban Films
Director: Jeremy Dylan Lanni
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

"DEEP IN THE FOREST"

Politics can be frightening. That is part of the message in director Jeremy Dylan Lanni's mystery thriller, "Deep in the Forest."

Personally, if the movie had a monster in it, I would have been even more into it, but screenwriter Pasquale Lanni's scare tactics center around an American insurrection and takeover. That sure sounds familiar. Wait, haven't I seen this movie before?

"Deep in the Forest" often hits but also misses with its timely political message. The movie opens with a group of adults attending a Democratic club meeting. It's abruptly cut short. Later that night, the parents are rounded up from their houses, blindfolded and hauled off to a remote cabin deep in the forest.

They are told by the group organizers (Peter Jason, "Kickback, V") and Wendy Worthington (TV's "Shameless") that there is a civil uprising, and they are all on a government target list. The cabin is the safest place for them to be, but it really isn't because a scruffy old man (Jedidia Dyer, "Homeless") has found it. He also has a key to the place. Is he one of the insurrectionists? Maybe.

Now, despite their differences--and they have many--the group must band together and decide whether to kill him or risk being killed themselves.

"Deep in the Forest" starts off as a tense thriller but loses its focus a bit midway. However, that ending is a stone, cold killer.

“Deep in the Forest” is currently available On Demand and Digitally.
(Recommended).

Meat Me Halfway Title: Meat Me Halfway
Year Released: 2021
Running Time: 80
Production Company: Reducetarian Productions
Director: Brian Kateman
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

"MEAT ME HALFWAY"

“Meat Me Halfway” is a new eye-opening documentary directed and written by Brian Kateman, founder and leader of the Reducetarian Organization. Kateman’s movement takes a guided and practical approach to addressing the harmful effects that eating meat has on people and the planet.

In case you are wondering what "Reducetarianism" is, well, it’s a concept that Kateman--a former vegetarian--crafted that encourages people to not avoid meat entirely, but simply reduce their consumption of it. Kateman believes this a more realistic approach rather than brow-beating people into becoming a strict vegetarian or vegan.

It’s a smaller step, but nevertheless he says is an effective one since people would still be helping to save the environment from increased greenhouse gas emissions and climate change as well as safeguard their health.

However, as Kateman, who is based in New York City discovers during his investigative journey—which leads him to a pig slaughterhouse in Los Angeles and a “ethically raised/slaughter” animal farm in Georgia and several points in between--there are strong and varying viewpoints from meat lovers and vegetarians/vegans.

Kateman is often ridiculed--even by his own skeptical parents--and other meat-eaters for his stance of “eating less meat.” He also angers animal rights activists who believe his position is counterproductive to theirs.

“Meat Me Halfway” features several notable scholars, scientists, doctors, and writers sharing their views on climate change and the cost of eating healthy. Michele Simon who is the founder of the Plant Based Foods Association notes that “taste,” “price” and “convenience” are the three most powerful drivers of food choices. She states that marketing and the environment people live in shapes their everyday food choices.

That’s a big reason why Olympia Auset started SUPRMARKT, the first organic produce pop-up in South Los Angeles to provide fresh and healthy vegetables and fruits to her community. The lack of major grocery stores in black and brown communities is alarming and that needs to change adds Eric Adams, Borough President of Brooklyn New York. Auset and Adams maintain it's important to make healthy food accessible and affordable to everyone.

“Meat Me Halfway” lays it all out there but doesn’t take a stand in the end. Instead, the viewer is left to chew on all the information, draw their own conclusions and make their own decisions. It is a highly informative and well-done documentary.
(Highly Recommended).

"Meat Me Halfway" is available July 20 on VOD and streaming platforms.

No Ordinary Love Title: No Ordinary Love
Year Released: 2020
Running Time: 99
Production Company: 1091 Pictures
Director: Chyna Robinson
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

"NO ORDINARY LOVE"

“No Ordinary Love” the new movie from screenwriter/director Chyna Robinson (“Greenwood: 13 Hours”) is a compelling drama that centers around two vastly different couples who are in abusive marriages. Incredible circumstances bring them together.

“No Ordinary Love” deserves attention as it shines a spotlight on domestic violence and women who feel trapped in their relationships and are afraid to leave them.

Elizabeth Jeffries (April Hartman, “American Zombieland”) has tried to be the perfect wife to her husband, Michael (Eric Hanson, “90 Feet from Home”). He is a pastor at the local church in their small hometown. Their pre-teen son Matthew (Houston Ries, “Adventures in Zeroworld”) has to put up with a lot from his parents whose marriage is shattering right before his eyes.

How Elizabeth has been able to withstand the verbal abuse all these years from Eric is beyond me, because he’s a sexist and religious zealot whose backwards way of thinking is just mindboggling. Then again, Elizabeth is trying to keep up the “good wife” charade mainly for the sake of the church folk. Many in town consider him so wonderful and righteous. However, when Elizabeth finally realizes that she can’t live with him anymore and plans to leave, their relationship becomes even more dangerous.

Meanwhile, Derrick Anderson (Lynn Andrew III, TV’s “The Price of Fame”) is a well-respected police officer who is married to Tanya, (DeAna Davis), a beautiful and caring woman. They have an adorable young daughter named Faith, (Nya Cummings). Faith doesn't deserve to live in fear every time her dad comes home angry and then she has to watch him beat her mother. This guy is a punk and has some serious issues.
Every time Derrick apologizes for his abusive behavior, Tanya gives him another chance thinking he’ll change. He doesn’t. In fact, his anger issues worsen which forces Tanya to expose his secret to Elizabeth, the pastor’s wife.

That sets up a series of events for both couples, but the film’s unbelievable ending feels forced and incomplete. Still, the solid acting in “No Ordinary Love” is what carries the movie and keeps you locked in.
(Recommended).

Sno Babies <b>(Sept. 29)</b> Title: Sno Babies (Sept. 29)
Year Released: 2020
Running Time: 109
Production Company: Better Noise Entertainment
Director: Bridget Smith
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

"SNO BABIES"

?Sno Babies,? from director Bridget Smith (?The Retaliators?) and screenwriter Michael Walsh (?Right Before Your Eyes?) is a dark and gritty cautionary tale about teen drug abuse. The film is available On Demand Sept. 29.

The film stars newcomer Katie Kelly (TV?s ?Game of Silence?) as Kristen McKusker. At first blush it seems as if Kristen has the world on a string. Her parents are extremely wealthy, and Kristen is the apple of their eye. She?s a good, Catholic girl headed to Princeton.

However, looks are deceiving and it?s a shame that her father Bill (Ken Arnold, ?The Night Watchmen?) and her real-estate mother Clare (Shannon Wilson, ?Halston?) are so caught up in with their busy lives they don?t notice how much Kristen is slipping away from them.

It all starts when Kristen is hanging out with her boyfriend and he wants her to pop a couple of OxyContin so she can experience the high of ?having all her worries and problems disappear.?

It?s not long before Kristen wants a new drug and her heroin addicted best friend Hannah (Paola Andino, TV?s ?Queen of the South?) knows what she should try. Hannah is a bubbly teen too and would rather spend her days shooting up than attending school.
Hannah soon convinces Kristen to upgrade to heroin. She even shows Kristen where to inject the needle on her tongue, between her toes and a few other scenic spots.

While much of ?Sno Babies? centers around Kristen and Hannah, there is also a subplot involving a couple played by Jane Stiles, (TV?s ?F.B.I.?) and Michael Lombardi (?Central Park?). They want to get married, but a family inherited nature preserve is causing them all sorts of financial problems and forcing them to put their plans on hold.

?Sno Babies? may be a jumbled film, but it still packs a powerful and important message for teens or anyone struggling with drug addiction.
(Recommended).

Editor?s Note: The official ?Sno Babies? soundtrack features some of the biggest names in rock music today. The soundtrack will include two tracks from SIXX:A.M. and will include the Top 10 hits from Country/Rock star Cory Marks (?Outlaws & Outsiders?) and from chart toppers Bad Wolves (?Sober? - the #1 hit) as well as new music from Eva Under Fire, From Ashes to New and Escape The Fate.
  MOVIE TRIVIA
 
Prior to his movie and television career, James Caan made his Broadway debut alongside Peter Fonda and Darren McGavin in which 1961 Broadway play?
“Hair”
Blood, Sweat and Stanley"
"Chicago"
“The Best Man"
 
  "REEL" MOVIE NEWS
JEANELL  ENGLISH By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:

A.M.P.A.S PROMOTES JEANELL ENGLISH TO EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF IMPACT AND INCLUSION

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (A.M.P.A.S.) has promoted Jeanell English (pictured) to Executive Vice President, Impact and Inclusion, Academy CEO Bill Kramer recently announced. English will report directly to Kramer.

In this newly created position, English will lead the Academy's initiatives designed to address underrepresentation across the industry and to discover, empower, and advance the work of emerging and diverse film artists. As part of this portfolio, English will oversee the Academy's talent development programs, known as Academy Gold. These programs include the Gold Rising internship and mentorship program, Gold Fellowship for Women, Student Academy Awards, Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, and the Gold Alumni Program.

In addition, English will continue to oversee the Academy’s sustainability, representation, inclusion, and accessibility efforts. This includes the implementation of the Representation and Inclusion Standards, internal initiatives such as supplier diversity and employee resource groups, and ongoing carbon footprint assessments to inform business practices.

"Over the last two years, Jeanell has been an invaluable part of our evolving Academy team," noted Kramer. "Her commitment to diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion has driven progress across Academy departments, as have her contributions to creating a more sustainable and accessible institution. The Academy is deeply dedicated to elevating emerging and underrepresented voices across the film industry, and in this new role, Jeanell will bring her expertise and vision to this important work as well."

English joined the Academy staff in 2020 and most recently held the position of Vice President, Impact and Operations. Prior to joining the Academy, English worked for more than a decade in the areas of global diversity and inclusion strategy, employee engagement, corporate social responsibility, cross-cultural training, and talent management. She was most recently a director at Discovery, Inc. (now Warner Bros. Discovery).

Editor's Note: Photo Provided By: A.M.P.A.S.


SHE-HULK By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:

“SHE-HULK: ATTORNEY AT LAW” PREMIERING AUG. 18 ON DISNEY+.

Disney+ has released a new trailer for Marvel Studios’ “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” which streams exclusively on Disney+ beginning Aug. 18.

The new comedy series stars Tatiana Maslany as She-Hulk/Jennifer Walters, a lawyer who specializes in superhuman-oriented legal cases.

Directed by Kat Coiro (Episodes 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9) and Anu Valia (Episodes 5, 6, 7) with Jessica Gao as head writer, “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” follows Jennifer Walters as she navigates the complicated life of a single, 30-something attorney who also happens to be a green 6-foot-7-inch superpowered hulk.

The nine-episode series welcomes a host of MCU vets, including: Mark Ruffalo as Smart Hulk, Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky/the Abomination, and Benedict Wong as Wong.

The cast also includes: Ginger Gonzaga, Josh Segarra, Jameela Jamil, Jon Bass and Renée Elise Goldsberry.

Executive producers: are Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios and chief creative officer of Marvel, Louis D'Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Brad Winderbaum, Kat Coiro and Jessica Gao.

Co-executive producers are Wendy Jacobson and Jennifer Booth.

ABOUT DISNEY+

Disney+ is the dedicated streaming home for movies and shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic, along with "The Simpsons" and much more. In select international markets, it also includes the new general entertainment content brand, Star. The flagship direct-to-consumer streaming service from The Walt Disney Company, Disney+ is part of the Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution segment.

The service offers commercial-free streaming alongside an ever-growing collection of exclusive originals, including feature-length films, documentaries, live-action and animated series, and short-form content. For more, visit disneyplus.com.

Editor's Note: Information used in this report obtained from Disney+ and Pixar.


BRITISH MUSICIANS By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:

ACADEMY PARTNERS WITH MERCURY STUDIOS TO LAUNCH A CAREER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM FOR BLACK BRITISH MUSICIANS

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, (A.M.P.A.S.) in partnership with Mercury Studios, announced the launch of the Jonas Gwangwa Music Composition Initiative, a one-year career development program for Black British musicians interested in composing music for film.

In celebration of the late South African musician, composer and Oscar nominee Jonas Gwangwa (pictured), the program will provide real-world experience, one-on-one mentorship and networking opportunities, beginning in October 2022.

Part of the Academy's ongoing Aperture 2025 global outreach and engagement efforts, the Jonas Gwangwa Music Composition Initiative aims to foster broader representation in film music composition, with an emphasis on Black British talent. Its creation was spearheaded by UK-based Academy members Gary Yershon (Music Branch), Misan Sagay (Writers Branch) and Nainita Desai (Music Branch).

"This initiative seeks to correct an imbalance. In contrast to the major contributions Black musicians are making to the music industry in the UK, their presence in the UK film industry is significantly lacking," said Yershon, Sagay and Desai. "Through this program, we seek to build community amongst Black artists in the UK by highlighting opportunities to bridge film and music careers."

The program is open to UK-based Black artists and composers with at least three years of work experience as a musician. Two participants, selected through an application process, will receive access to Academy members across various branches in order to gain an understanding of the filmmaking process; one-on-one mentorship with a member of the Academy's Music Branch to learn about the practical aspects of composing for film; access to Academy events and screenings in London; and introductions to leading practitioners from all areas of film music, among other mentorship programming.

Participants will be matched with a filmmaker who is in the process of making a short film and will be given the opportunity to compose music for the film. The composition work will be funded by two grants from Universal Music Group's Mercury Studios, a full-service, global production film and television studio, and Decca Records. Additional programming and support will be provided by Abbey Road Studios.

Gwangwa, who died in 2021, was a prominent South African jazz musician and composer. He received Oscar nominations for Original Score and Original Song for his work, with George Fenton, on “Cry Freedom” (1987).

Applications for the Jonas Gwangwa Music Composition Initiative are currently open. For more information visit https://oscars.org/learn/jonas-gwangwa-initiative.

ABOUT THE ACADEMY:

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a global community of more than 10,000 of the most accomplished artists, filmmakers and executives working in film. In addition to celebrating and recognizing excellence in filmmaking through the Oscars, the Academy supports a wide range of initiatives to promote the art and science of the movies, including public programming, educational outreach and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

ABOUT MERCURY STUDIOS:

Mercury Studios is a full-service production studio originating, producing, selling, distributing and investing in scripted, unscripted and live content. Editorially independent, Mercury Studios is powered by Universal Music Group and represents the world’s leading catalogue of music-related content.

ABOUT ABBEY ROAD STUDIOS:

A global music icon and the world's first purpose-built recording studio, Abbey Road Studios has been home to countless landmark recordings and pioneering advances in music technology over the last 90 years. The studios’ phenomenal history encompasses celebrated work by artists from The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Fela Kuti, Kate Bush, Oasis and Radiohead to Sam Smith, Florence + The Machine, Kanye West, Lady Gaga, Frank Ocean, Amy Winehouse, Brockhampton and Little Simz, as well as scores to films from "Raiders of The Lost Ark," "The Lord of The Rings" trilogy and many of the "Harry Potter" and "Star Wars" movies, to "Gravity," "The Shape of Water," '1917," "Black Panther," "Black Widow" and "Avengers: Endgame." Since stereo was patented at Abbey Road in 1933, the studios have been home to numerous innovations in recording technology and continue to innovate today with Europe’s first music tech incubator, Abbey Road Red. Abbey Road Studios is part of Universal Music. Discover more at www.abbeyroad.com.

ABOUT DECCA RECORDS:

Established over 90 years ago, Decca is one of the world's most iconic record labels having been home to countless legendary musicians including Luciano Pavarotti, Dame Vera Lynn and Bing Crosby. Today, Decca provides the platform for a new generation of ambitious artists at the forefront of their scenes – names such as Andrea Bocelli, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Melody Gardot, Max Richter, Aurora, Jacob Collier, Nicola Benedetti, Ludovico Einaudi and Isobel Waller-Bridge, who continue to represent the label’s cultural legacy. Discover more at: decca.com.

Editor's Note: Information used in this report provided by A.M.P.A.S.