ELVIS
Rating: About Ratings
Opens: 06/24/2022
Running Time: 159
Rated: PG-13
Cast: Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Alton Mason, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Kelvin Harrison Jr, Olivia DeJonge, Helen Thomson and Richard Roxburgh.
Crew: Director: Baz Luhrmann. Producers: Baz Luhrmann, Gail Berman, Catherine Martin, Patrick McCormick and Schuyler Weiss. Executive Producers: Toby Emmerich, Rory Koslow and Kevin McCormick. Screenwriters: Baz Luhrmann, Sam Bromell and Craig Pearce. Cinematographer: Mandy Walker. Music: Elliott Wheeler.
REVIEW: By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

The King has arrived. Austin Butler ("Once Upon a Time...In Hollywood") channels rock 'n' roll legend Elvis Presley to near perfection in the dazzling and soul-stirring biopic "Elvis" from director Baz Luhrmann ("Moulin Rouge! and "The Great Gatsby").

Luhrmann and co-screenwriter Sam Bromell (TV's "The Get Down") put everything into this captivating story. While it may not enlighten die-hard Presley fans, it sure is going to entertain them to no end.

As sensational as Butler is, you can't overlook Tom Hanks' Tour de force performance either as Elvis' overreaching and opportunistic manager Col. Tom Parker. Parker (Hanks) opens/narrates the film from a hospital bed in Las Vegas. He has fallen ill and wants to set the record straight about his tumultuous relationship with Presley. He assures us that he made Presley. Despite all the malicious media headlines that have dogged him over the years, he claims to have always had the singer's best intentions at heart.

"Elvis," which clocks in at slightly over 2 1/2 hours, glides through the singer's life starting with his childhood in Tupelo, Mississippi, his upbringing with his strict mother Gladys (Helen Thomson, TV's "Fires") and father/promoter Vernon (Richard Roxburgh, TV's "The Crown"), his star turn at Sun Records in Memphis, the rocky marriage to Priscilla Presley (a terrific Olivia DeJonge, TV's "The Society") and their relationship with daughter Lisa Marie, as well as his final hit residency show in Las Vegas.

The movie effectively uses flashbacks to show how a young Presley became fascinated by soul and gospel music after going to Black church revivals and peering through the window of dive nightclubs. He saw and later hung out with musicians like B.B. King (Kelvin Harrison, Jr., "Luce" and "Waves"), Little Richard (Alton Mason), and Arthur Big Boy Crudup (Gary Clark Jr., TV's "Luke Cage").

Presley became one of the biggest singers in the world by recording the music of Black artists such as Big Mama Thornton's "Hound Dog." He made their songs far bigger hits than they ever could imagine. He also made them marketable and accessible for young white kids to buy and swivel their hips to.

One can't help but marvel at Presley's body of work and his illustrious career. However, it all came crashing down in spectacular fashion. His lavish lifestyle caught up with him as did the seemingly non-stop touring/shows. It wore him down especially when drugs and alcohol became part of the mix.

"Elvis" captures the highs and lows of the iconic performer and does so in grand fashion. There is never a dull moment in this movie.

Whether or not you are a fan of "The King," you'll be hard-pressed to find a more electrifying, stylish, and commanding performance than the one Austin Butler delivers here.

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 "ELVIS"

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

Book Of Numbers Title: Book Of Numbers
Year Released: 1973
Running Time: 81
Production Company: AVCO Embassy Pictures
Director: Raymond St. Jacques
Director of Photography: Gayne Rescher
Screenwriter: Raymond St. Jacques
Author: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

REVIEW: As a kid growing up in San Bernardino, California, I remember this cute, curly-headed, green eyed young guy coming over my family’s house with his handyman/electrician father to do some repair work. Little did I know the shy teen would become an iconic TV star.

Yeah, Philip Michael Thomas who played Ricardo “Rico” Tubbs alongside Don Johnson in the...
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 starring in the 1980s hit TV show “Miami Vice,” Philip Michael Thomas made his Broadway debut in which of the following theatrical productions?
“Hair” and “Aquarius”
“Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Fiddler On The Roof”
“Pippin” and “The Wiz”
“No Place To Be Somebody” and “The Selling of the President."
 
  "REEL" MOVIE NEWS
SHE-HULK By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:

“SHE-HULK: ATTORNEY AT LAW” PREMIERING AUG. 17 ON DISNEY+.

Disney+ has released a new trailer for Marvel Studios’ “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” which streams exclusively on Disney+ beginning Aug. 17.

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.

OTHER "REEL" MOVIE NEWS:

PIXAR'S FEATURE FILM "ELEMENTAL" ARRIVES JUNE 16, 2023

Pixar Animation Studios' 27th feature film, "Elemental," arrives in theaters on June 16, 2023.

Directed by Peter Sohn ("The Good Dinosaur," "Partly Cloudy" short) and produced by Denise Ream ("The Good Dinosaur," "Cars 2"), the film journeys alongside an unlikely pair, Ember and Wade, in a city where fire-, water-, land- and air-residents live together. The fiery young woman and the go-with-the-flow guy are about to discover something elemental: how much they actually have in common.

"Elemental" is an original film inspired by Sohn's childhood in New York. "My parents emigrated from Korea in the early 1970s and built a bustling grocery store in the Bronx," said the director. "We were among many families who ventured to a new land with hopes and dreams—all of us mixing into one big salad bowl of cultures, languages and beautiful little neighborhoods. That’s what led me to "Elemental." “Our story is based on the classic elements—fire, water, land and air,” Sohn continued. “Some elements mix with each other, and some don’t. What if these elements were alive?”

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


ANTETOKOUNMPO By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:

ON JUNE 24 DISNEY+ RELEASES “RISE,” THE TRUE STORY OF THE ANTETOKOUNMPOS’ JOURNEY FROM NIGERIA TO GREECE TO AMERICA

“Rise,” from Disney+ is based on the triumphant real-life story about the remarkable family that gave the world the first trio of brothers to become NBA champions in the history of the league.

Giannis and Thanasis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Laker Kostas Antetokounmpo, and their younger brother Alex are the inspiring trio behind this fascinating story that will debut June 24 exclusively on Disney+.

Audiences have never seen a story like that of the Antetokounmpos. After emigrating from Nigeria to Greece, Charles and Vera Antetokounmpo (Dayo Okeniyi and Yetide Badaki, respectively) struggled to survive and provide for their five children, while living under the daily threat of deportation.

With their oldest son still in Nigeria with relatives, the couple were desperate to obtain Greek citizenship but found themselves undermined by a system that blocked them at every turn. When they weren’t selling items to tourists on the streets of Athens with the rest of the family, the brothers – Giannis (Uche Agada) and Thanasis (Ral Agada) – would play basketball with a local youth team. Latecomers to the sport, they discovered their great abilities on the basketball court and worked hard to become world class athletes, along with brother, Kostas (Jaden Osimuwa).

With the help of an agent, Giannis entered the NBA Draft in 2013 in a long shot prospect that would change not only his life but the life of his entire family. And last season, Giannis and Thanasis helped bring the Milwaukee Bucks their first championship ring in 50 years, while Kostas played for the previous season champs, the Los Angeles Lakers.

“Rise” stars Dayo Okeniyi, Yetide Badaki, Manish Dayal, Taylor Nichols, introducing Ral Agada and introducing Uche Agada. The film was directed by Akin Omotoso (“Vaya”), written by Arash Amel (“A Private War”) and produced by Bernie Goldmann (“300”). Giannis Antetokounmpo and Douglas S. Jones served as the executive producers.

Check Out This Trailer For "RISE"

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. With unprecedented access to Disney’s long history of incredible film and television entertainment, Disney+ is also the exclusive streaming home for the newest releases from The Walt Disney Studios. Disney+ is available as a standalone streaming service or as part of The Disney Bundle that gives subscribers access to Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+. For more, visit disneyplus.com, or find the Disney+ app on most mobile and connected TV devices.

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


KAP AND AMERICA By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:

THE AWARD-WINNING DOCUMENTARY "KAEPERNICK & AMERICA" PREMIERES JUNE 9 AT THE 2022 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL

It was the summer of 2016, an election year with unrest rumbling through America. There were countless triggers – the murder videos of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling, the counterpunch of Alt-Right and Fake News, Black Lives Matter, Russian meddling – a discordant national cauldron ready to boil over. It was the birth of Trumpism, but no knew it yet.

Then, Colin Kaepernick took a knee and America lost its mind. Kaep’s knee touched down on the divide between America’s Black and white tectonic plates, creating an earthquake in the eternal race debate. The aftershocks of his singular gesture have already rippled through our country for years.

Kaepernick himself answered any and all thoughtful questions for a time, then stopped talking. And the resulting quiet has allowed for a thoughtful examination of the man and his story. It reveals layer upon layer of surprises and contradictions. Raised in a white family, he became a Black quarterback, while in fact, he is an adopted, biracial man. Inherently shy, he became the center of attention. The man everyone was talking about was mostly silent. He took a stand by taking a knee.

“Kaepernick & America” examines the man and his protest, exploring the remarkable conflict stirred by such a simple gesture.

The film includes conversations with CNN News Anchor/Host Don Lemon, along with DeRay Mckesson, Pam Oliver, Steve Wyche, Nate Boyer, Hue Jackson, and April Dinwoodie.

STATEMENT—From Director Tommy Walker:

"As a Black man, the Kaepernick saga captivated me from the start. It raised so many of the core issues that Black people deal with everyday in America. And yet, the experience of Blacks in America is not monolithic. While Kaepernick knelt in a football uniform in San Diego, another Black man wearing a military uniform stood nearby and proudly sang the national anthem. We are all different as are our American journeys."

"There are more than a thousand Black men in the NFL, but the one who protested had a singular journey that led him to make the choice. His racial history is complicated. His mother is white, his father is Black and his adoptive parents are both white. How did this particular set of social and societal influences lead a young superstar to put everything at risk?"

"The film we have made seeks to discover the parallels between the life and activism of Colin Kapaernick and the tumultuous and divisive factors that have colored America’s racial divide. It is only partly about Kaepernick, as it actually reveals more about America, the land that reacted so profoundly to such a simple gesture. Kaepernick’s protest held up a mirror to a large portion of the public and millions didn’t like what they saw. The young man stood his ground in the face of the brutal backlash, continuing his protest for twenty consecutive weeks. Somehow, with his right knee on the field and his arms passively crossed in front of him, he managed to point a finger at injustice without saying a word."

ABOUT THE DIRECTORS:

TOMMY WALKER:

Tommy Walker is an esteemed producer and director of documentary film and television who has devoted his life to stories about race and identity. His most recent film was “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am,” an artful and intimate meditation on the legendary Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author. That film earned Walker an Emmy nomination.

Walker co-directed and produced the feature length theatrical documentary, "God Grew Tired of Us," which won Best Documentary and the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. He produced 13 films for "The List" series, including three episodes of "The Black List" for HBO. Other titles include" "Mandela in America," "Tutu and Franklin - A Journey towards Peace," and "With All Deliberate Speed."

ROSS HOCKROW:

Ross Hockrow is a rising star in the documentary world, bringing his myriad filmmaking skills to a range of projects. "Kaepernick & America" is his latest effort, on which he is credited as director and editor. He has contributed in those roles as well as DP on a range of documentary films including "Born Strong" (Netflix), "Finding Giannis" (TNT), "The Fieldhouse" (2021 Discovery+), "Valley of Sin" (2020 Fox), "Woman of Troy" (2020 HBO), "We Town" (2018 SI/Amazon), "Foreman" (2017 Epix/NBC Universal), "An Act of Love" (2016 Apple) and "Pot Barons of Colorado" (2014 MSNBC). Previously, he wrote, directed and edited a long list of scripted films.

Editor's Note: Information used in this report obtained from the Tribeca Film Festival publicity department.