THE WATCHERS
Rating: About Ratings
Opens: 06/07/2024
Running Time: 102
Rated: PG-13
Cast: Dakota Fanning, Georgina Campbell, Oliver Finnegan, and Olwen Fouere.
Crew: Director: Ishana Shyamalan. Producers: M. Night Shyamalan, Ashwin Rajan and Nimitt Mankad. Executive Producers: Stephen Dembitzer and Jo Homewood. Cinematographer: Eli Arenson.
REVIEW: By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

Ishana Night Shyamalan, daughter of M. Night Shyamalan, makes a solid entrance into the realm of psychological horror with her feature-film directorial debut, "The Watchers."

Drawing inspiration from A.M. Shine's riveting 2022 novel of the same name, Ishana weaves a narrative that is dark and enthralling.

In "The Watchers," Ishana not only demonstrates her directorial finesse but also her skill as a co-writer, crafting a story replete with sinister twists that echo her father's trademark style—yet with a distinct flair that is uniquely her own.

Leading the cast of “The Watchers,” which is also co-produced by M. Night Shyamalan, is the talented Dakota Fanning (TV's "Ripley"), who delivers a compelling performance as Mina, an American artist carving out a modest existence in Galway, Ireland.

By day, she's a humble pet store employee; by night, a vivacious partygoer who revels in the art of disguise and embellishment—especially while at a bar and charming a cute guy named Collin (portrayed by Shane O' Regan of TV's "Harry Wild").

Mina's life spirals into the surreal when a simple errand—to deliver a parrot—leads her deep into a lush forest. Stranded when her car suddenly breaks down and devoid of cell reception, she’s left to navigate the dangerous woods.
But when her SUV vanishes without a trace, Mina's reality becomes truly fractured.

Now what?

Desperation leads her to the doorstep of Madeline (Olwen Fouere, TV's "Halo"), an old woman whose secluded hideaway offers more than just refuge. Inside, Mina finds herself among "The Coop"—a group including the enigmatic Ciara (Georgina Campbell, "Barbarian") and the eccentric Daniel (Oliver Finnegan, TV's "We are Lady Parts"). Each harbors their own secrets, but Mina's focus is simple: escape.

As night falls, the inhabitants become the subjects of sinister surveillance by grotesque creatures. Any attempt at escape has dire consequences—a truth all too familiar to Ciara's husband, John (Alistair Brammer, TV's "Ancient Empires").

While "The Watchers" may initially meander, it soon grips you and culminates in genuine terror as the nocturnal watchers reveal themselves.

Overall, "The Watchers" is a fairly entertaining movie and testament to Ishana Night Shyamalan's burgeoning prowess as a filmmaker. Can't wait to see what she'll cook up next.

Editor's Note: Be sure to catch my N2Entertainment.net movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays now at 5:17 p.m. and 6:47 p.m. on radio station KFBK 93.1 FM and 1530 AM.

Look At This Trailer For "THE WATCHERS"

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...
 

Rated: R
Opens: 06/07/2024
Hit Man

Rated: R
Opens: 06/07/2024
Bad Boys: Ride Or Die

Rated: PG
Opens: 05/24/2024
The Garfield Movie

Rated: R
Opens: 05/24/2024
Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

Rated: R
Opens: 05/17/2024
Back To Black

Rated: PG-13
Opens: 05/10/2024
Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes


OLD SCHOOL VIDEO PICK OF THE MONTH

<b>MAHOGANY</b> Title: MAHOGANY
Year Released: 1975
Running Time: 109
Production Company: Paramount Pictures
Director: Berry Gordy, Tony Richardson and Jack Wormser
Director of Photography: David Watkin
Screenwriter: John Byrum and Toni Amber
Author: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

REVIEW: DIANA ROSS AND BILLY DEE WILLIAMS DAZZLE IN "MAHOGANY"

Do you know where you're going to?
Do you like the things that life is showing you? Where are you going to?
Do you know?
Do you get what you're hoping for? When you look behind you, there's no open doors. What are you hoping for? Do you know? "Theme from Mahogany...
NEW ON DVD

<b>BLIND WAR</B> Title: BLIND WAR
Year Released: 2022
Running Time: 103
Production Company: Go Well USA
Director: Suiqiang Huo
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

"BLIND WAR"

I've got to hand it to Well Go USA. the powerhouse American indie and international film distributor based in Plano, Texas strikes again with their latest cinematic offering, "Blind War."

This movie wastes no time plunging viewers headfirst into a whirlwind of jaw-dropping action.

In "Blind War" Andy On ("Cruel War" and "Abduction") stars as Dong Gu, a SWAT captain tasked with his team handling a terrorist attack at a courthouse. The mayhem becomes so intense that Dong Gu winds up losing his sight after a flash grenade explosion.

He's devastated by his failure to take command of the situation. As far as he's concerned, his life is over. He's even been kicked off the police force.

Everyday Dong Gu sinks further into depression. Fortunately, he has a beautiful, young, and musically gifted daughter (Yaqi Zhang, "Demon Sealer Bureau"). She becomes a beacon of hope and strength, guiding her father through the darkest of times.

Just when it seemed that Dong Gu was becoming a bit more self-reliant, his life is shattered once again when some baddies that he wronged from the past are now seeking revenge and they kidnap his daughter.

Big mistake.

Dong Gu may have lost his sight, but his combat prowess has never been more lethal. Consequently, he must rely on his other senses to outsmart and outmaneuver his daughter's captors.

The fighting scenes in "Blind War" are deliriously exciting. While watching the movie with my husband--who is also a huge martial arts fan--he often turned to me and said, "this movie is amazing, spectacular."

It truly is especially if you're a fan of old school 1980s and 1990s karate movies. Director Suiqiang Huo masterfully choreographs a ballet of bullets and martial arts that harkens back to the golden era of action cinema. His vision is bold, his execution daring, and the result is a movie that's as much a nod to the classics as it is a trailblazer in its own right.

Oh, and Xing Yang (TV's "Age of Awakening") is another reason you'll enjoy "Blind War." She emerges as Dong Gu's unexpected ally, proving her mettle in a male-dominated arena.

There isn't a wasted or dull moment in "Blind War." You've got to see it to believe it.
(Highly Recommended).

"Blind War" is available June 11 on VOD and Blu-ray.

Check Out This Trailer For "BLIND WAR"

<b>EXHUMA</b> Title: EXHUMA
Year Released: 2024
Running Time: 135
Production Company: Well Go USA
Director: Jang Jae-Hyun
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

"EXHUMA"

The Korean horror film "Exhuma," directed/written by Jang Jae-Hyun ("Svaha: The Sixth Finger"), delivers a gripping tale of a family ensnared by a malevolent supernatural force.

"Exhuma" isn't just a ghost story—it's a generational curse that haunts the bloodline of a Los Angeles dynasty.
Set against the backdrop of Los Angeles, the narrative revolves around the renowned shaman Lee Hwarim (Kim Go-Eun, "Hero") and her apprentice Yoon Bong-gil (Lee Do-hyun, TV's "Sweet Home").

Their mission is to delve into the abyss of the paranormal to unravel the sinister happenings that plague the firstborns of each generation. It's a curse so dark and malignant that it really threatens most anyone in its path.

Assisting them in this spectral quest is mortician Yeong-geun (Yoo Hai-jin, "Dog Days"), whose knowledge of the dead is as deep as the graves he tends, and Kim Sang-deok (Choi Min-sik, TV's "Big Bet"), a feng shui master whose wisdom might be the key to breaking the cycle of terror.

The investigation leads them to a desolate gravesite nestled within sacred grounds. Yet, the unearthly aura surrounding the area foreshadows impending doom or it could be their salvation as they go deeper into the dark secrets buried within. As the tension mounts, each excavation unearths more than mere remains; it unleashes a malevolent curse of unimaginable proportions.

Talk about luring you in.

Director Jang Jae-Hyun masterfully crafts an atmosphere rife with dread, where every moment drips with palpable unease. From the eerie landscapes to the haunting score, "Exhuma" immerses you in a world where terror lurks at every turn. It's a puzzle box of fear, devilishly designed to leave you questioning even the shadows in your room.

With stellar performances from its cast and a plot woven with intricate layers of suspense, "Exhuma" is an excellent horror flick and a testament to the enduring allure of Korean horror cinema.
(Highly Recommended).

Check Out This Trailer For "EXHUMA"

"Exhuma" is currently available on VOD.

<B> RIDE ON</B> Title: RIDE ON
Year Released: 2023
Running Time: 90
Production Company: Well Go USA Entertainment
Director: Larry Yang
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

"RIDE ON"

Look who is back. It's Jackie Chan. It's been a minute since we've seen the affable actor on screen.

I’m still waiting for the "official" word on "Rush Hour 4." Both Chan and Chris Tucker have said in recent interviews they are on board and want to make it happen. Hopefully soon.

Until then, you can check out Chan in "Ride On," a comical, sappy and heartwarming movie from director/writer Larry Yang ("Another Shot" and "Mountain Cry").

"Ride On" is really a sentimental ode to stuntmen and animal performers.

In "Ride On," Chan plays Lao Luo, a washed-up stuntman who used to be all the rage in the movie industry. No one could even think about doing some of the amazing stunts that Lao would perform on his trusted horse, Red Hare. They were quite a pair back in the day.

Now, he makes a meager living posing for tourists at the movie studio with Red Hare.

Lao still has that adventurous streak in him and Red Hare isn't ready to ride off into the sunset either. Here's the thing. The movie industry has changed, and Lao's financial situation is dire. He's deep in debt and the collectors want to seize Red Hare. Lao can't let that happen.

He's so embarrassed, but reaches out to his estranged daughter Luo Xiaobao (Haocun Liu, "One Second") to help him. She's still working her way through college and is tapped out for money, but her law school graduate boyfriend Lu Naihua (Kevin Guo, TV's "My Heroic Husband") is loaded and comes from a wealthy family. She suggests Lu can tell Lao what his options are.

Lao isn't too worried about his safety because he can easily handle all the goons that are foolish to try and fight him.

Chan may have lost a step, but he's still got some moves and is quite funny during the fights scenes and makes the baddies pay for trying to steal Red Hare. When Lao's brawl goes viral, everyone wants to know who this guy is.

That leads to him getting back in the game and doing some movies with Red Hare. It also allows his daughter to come around and appreciate what a legend her father was and really still is.

The daddy/daughter moments in "Ride On" are earned and touching. Chan is just so likeable in everything he does and "Ride On" further showcases his talents as a martial arts legend, comedian and all-around actor.

Not to be overlooked is the horse, Red Hare. He's always ready for his close-up and is a real scene-stealer. "Ride On" is a genuinely charming and feel-good, family movie.
(Highly Recommended).

Editor's Note: "Ride On" debuts on Digital, Blu-ray and DVD Oct. 24. The bonus content includes two featurettes and an English dub.

Check Out This Trailer For "RIDE ON"

<b>GANGNAM ZOMBIE</B> Title: GANGNAM ZOMBIE
Year Released: 2023
Running Time: 82
Production Company: Well Go USA Entertainment
Director: Soo-sung Lee
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

"GANGNAM ZOMBIE"

Full disclosure. I love zombie movies. So, naturally when asked to screen "Gangnam Zombie," I couldn't resist. The title alone piqued my interest.

Directed by Soo-sung Lee ("Memories" and "House With A View"), "Gangnam Zombie," is a low budget, fun and funny horror/comedy with just enough jump scares. It's currently available on Digital, Blu-ray and DVD.

"Gangnam Zombie" stars Il-Joo Ji ("Blades of Blood"), Park Ji-yeon ("Death Bell 2: Bloody Camp"), from the chart-topping girl group T-ara, and Cho Kyung-hoon ("North Korean Guys").

The movie centers around the recent COVID-19 outbreak. Despite it being Christmas Eve, many of the residents of Seoul Korea's Gangnam district are still nervous and on edge since other COVID variants are on the rise. That's certainly reason to be alarmed, but what is really taking shape in the area is even more frightening.

What starts off as a typical workday, turns into much more when several people start exhibiting odd symptoms and quickly get sick.

No one quite knows why, but it appears this sickness can be traced to a theif who was bitten by an infected cat. Suddenly this guy is aimlessly walking the streets and has developed an insatiable desire for raw meat and human flesh.

A group of young people have gathered to watch him stumble along. They aren't willing to try and help him and it's easy to see why. He's a bloody, scary-looking mess. Besides, they'd rather record all his shocking behavior on their cell phones and post it on social media.

Meanwhile, Hyeon-Seok (Il-Joo Ji) is a taekwondo champion struggling to make ends meet and pay the rent from his lame vlog job. That's because his silly boss has run out of ideas for their YouTube channel. So, they all have to lie when the mall's landlord (Jung Yi-joo) comes to collect.

That's the least of their problems because zombies have descended on the mall. Now it's up to Hyeon-Seok to put his martial arts skills to use and protect his love interest Min-jeong (Park Ji-yeon) and others while trying to escape from these vicious zombies.

The special effects in "Gangnam Zombie" are rather limited, but still pretty effective particularly the closeup, bloody shots of all the zombies.

This is one of those movies, that doesn't reinvent the genre in any way, but you'll have a good time watching it with a group of your closest horror film friends.
(Recommended).

Editor's Note: Take a look at the trailer for "Gangnam Zombie" which is currently available on Digital, Blu Ray, and DVD.
"GANGNAM ZOMBIE"
  MOVIE TRIVIA
 
The "Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)" was sung by Diana Ross in the 1975 movie "Mahogany." But, who initially recorded the song in 1973?
"Roberta Flack"
"Natalie Cole"
"Deniece Williams"
"Thelma Houston"
 
  "REEL" MOVIE NEWS
JUNETEENTH  FILM FESTIVAL KANSAS By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:

THE JUNETEENTH FILM FESTIVAL RETURNS TO KANSAS CITY JUNE 4

The 2nd Annual Juneteenth Film Festival returns to Kansas City on June 4.

This year's festival will primarily feature films written, directed and produced by Kansas Citians including Oscar-winning filmmaker Kevin Willmott ("Black KkKlansman," "The 24th" and "Da 5 Bloods").

All films will be screened at the Screenland Armour Theater in North Kansas City.

Curated by award-winning Fox 4 News film critic Shawn Edwards, the 2nd annual Juneteenth Film Festival will showcase feature films, documentaries and shorts.

"As we celebrate Juneteenth, one of the most important days in African American history, I felt it was important that we include groundbreaking cinema that embodies the spirit of the holiday," said Edwards. "Kansas City has one of the longest running Juneteenth celebrations in the country. Now we have the only film festival in the country that honors the holiday by celebrating Black filmmaking."

This year's film festival is sponsored by the Black Movie Hall of Fame, Celebration of Black Cinema and Television, Wilson’s Industries LLC, House of Kush and the Kansas City Film Office.

FESTIVAL SCHEDULE:

June 4: Black Filmmakers Happy Hour hosted by Film KC (Screenland Armour) 5 p.m.

June 4: Film KC presents "Underneath: Children of the Sun" Directed by David Kirkman (Screenland Armour) 7 p.m.

June 5: "The Pistol" Directed by Paul and Kenneth Rayford (Screenland Armour) 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

June 9: Party Event “We Hanging with Clarence” Hosted by rapper Roblo da Star (The Velvet Freeze Daiquiris/Smaxx) 7 p.m.

June 12: Kansas City Dreamin'" Directed by Diallo Javonne French (Screenland Armour) 6:30 p.m.

June 12: "What's N Kansas City?" Directed by Skiem Heim (Screenland Armour) 8:30 p.m.

June 19: "Binding Us Together" Directed by Kevin Willmott (Screenland Armour) 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

June 26: "Drout 2" Directed by Isiah King (Screenland Armour) 6:30 p.m.

The short film "BF" directed by Jamie Addison will screen before each feature every night of the festival.

FILM SYNOPSIS:

"BINDING US TOGETHER"--A heartfelt, inspiring narrative that is inextricably linked to the nation's past and present, civil rights activist and public servant Alvin Brooks shares engaging, funny, and tragic stories of his life and career of advocacy in Kansas City.

DROUT 2"--The sequel to the highly successful underground hit "Drout." After King is released from prison he encounters a tragic event. The results of which start a revengeful war on the streets of Kansas City as he continues his struggles with the law while trying to finally get out of the game.

"KANSAS CITY DREAMIN'-- Kansas City Dreamin' is a documentary about the African American music history of the city. It features interviews with Melissa Etheridge, Tech N9ne, Bobby Watson, Oleta Adams, Lonnie McFadden, Oscar winner Kevin Willmont, and many more. With segments on Charlie Parker, Count Basie, Janelle Monae, Big Joe Turner, and other Kansas City natives. The film celebrates Kansas City's contribution to American music.

"THE PISTOL"-- "The Pistol" is a gripping documentary that delves into the real-life accounts of notorious gangster Kenneth Rayford. Directed by Paul Rayford, the film details the exploits of Kenneth Rayford from his time as a youth growing up on the mean streets of Kansas City, Missouri up to adulthood when he ran the streets of Kansas City. Through interviews with Kenneth himself, his accomplices and actual news footage the documentary reveals the life of a real-underworld crime figure. "The Pistol" paints a compelling portrait of a man who literally dedicated his entire life to the criminal underworld, maintained a solid reputation and actually lived to talk about it.

WHAT'S N' KANSAS CITY?"--Skiem Heim, Kansas City's official street journalist, takes you on a guided tour of the places at the heart of Kansas City's Black culture.

"UNDERNEATH: CHILDREN OF THE SUN"-- This mind-bending Afrofuturist story embarks on a breathtaking journey of galactic politics, heritage, and destiny. In 1857, a slave in Little Dixie, Missouri is thrust into an intergalactic crises after helping an alien from a crashed spaceship. An ultra-powerful alien artifact passes through generations of bloody fingers and inheritors here on Earth, including the present, and ultimately leads to an epic battle for control. "Underneath: Children of the Sun" is St. Louis filmmaker David Kirkman's feature film debut.

ABOUT KEVIN WILLMOTT--

Kevin Willmott is a professor of film at the University of Kansas and a film writer and director. He is known for work focusing on black issues including writing and directing "Ninth Street," "C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America" and "Bunker Hill." His film "The Only Good Indian," which he directed and produced, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009. In 2013, Willmott’s films "Destination: Planet Negro!" and "Jayhawkers" were both released. He also served as a writer on Spike Lee’s film "Chi-Raq" and as a screenwriter on Lee's film "BlacKkKlansman" which won an Oscar and BAFTA for best adapted screenplay in 2019.

ABOUT SHAWN EDWARDS--

Shawn Edwards is an award-winning journalist and film critic at Fox 4 News in Kansas City, Missouri where he began working in 2000. During his 20-plus year career Edwards co-founded the African American Film Critics Association in 2003, created a Celebration of Black Cinema & Television in 2014 and created the Black Movie Hall of Fame in 2022. He has also produced several documentaries on the history of Black film. Edwards is currently the executive producer of the Critics Choice Association's Celebration of Black Cinema & Television award show, writing a book on the history of Black film and producing two feature films "The Soul of Santa" and "The Richest Little Girl in the World: The Sarah Rector Story." He also contributes as a juror for several film festivals and appears on several nationally syndicated television and radio programs providing his insight on the film and television industries.

Editor's Note: Information for this article provided by the Juneteenth Film Festival publicity department.


SHIRLEY MACLAINE BOOK By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:

"THE WALL OF LIFE" BY SHIRLEY MACLAINE

Crown, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, will publish "The Wall of Life: Pictures and Stories from This Marvelous Lifetime" by Academy Award-winning actress and New York Times bestselling author Shirley MacLaine.

A dazzling memoir in photographs, "The Wall of Life" chronicles key moments from her extraordinary life through over 150 images from her personal archive, many of which have never been shared publicly.

Of the publication, Matt Inman, VP, Editorial Director shared: "I've been honored to work with Hollywood legend Shirley MacLaine on this celebration of her remarkable life and career. Told with gorgeous photos, and in Shirley's inimitable voice, "The Wall of Life" is a portrait of an artist honing her craft in Virginia ballet studios, on Broadway stages, and through Hollywood's cameras. It's also a love letter to family, good friends, and great stories. But more than anything it's a testament to a life driven by curiosity—one filled with travel, political awareness, metaphysical exploration, and the love of taking risks and asking good questions."

MacLaine stated "About forty-five years ago, I put ten or so framed photographs of friends and family and people I’ve worked with all grouped together on a living room wall in my Malibu home. Everyone who came over loved to look at this montage, and so "The Wall of Life" was born. It has long been a stage for asking questions, and not just for visitors to ask me things,but for me to ask myself to get at a deeper truth, and to question my visitors and understand them more. I’m pleased to share a selection of these photos—and some of the stories behind them—in this book."

With over seventy years on the silver screen, MacLaine has, as she says, "seen it all, done it all, been everywhere, and met everyone." In 1955, she debuted as the lead in "The Trouble with Harry," winning the first of many Golden Globes. From there, her popularity only grew as she amassed a stunning collection of awards, accolades, and experiences, taking her place as a Hollywood icon.

Now, at 90 years old, MacLaine is reflecting on some of her favorite life moments and sharing the pictures that bring them to vivid life. In "The Wall of Life," she shares both intimate family memories (her childhood with her brother Warren Beatty, her decision to leave for New York City at age sixteen, her early work on Broadway, and becoming a mother), as well as moments from a life lived in the public eye (starring in legendary film roles, meeting political luminaries, and developing an interest in spirituality).

Along the way, readers gain greater insight into figures such as Frank Sinatra, Bob Fosse, Bette Davis, Jack Nicholson, the Dalai Lama, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and many more. And whether she's sharing what advice Elvis Presley asked her for, how she consoled close friend Elizabeth Taylor after the death of her husband, or which prime minister she discussed UFOs with, MacLaine offers her most visual and candid book yet, giving readers an unprecedented glance into a life like no other.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR SHIRLEY MACLAINE:

Shirley MacLaine is an actress, author, and dancer. Known for her portrayals of quirky, strong-willed, and eccentric women, she has received numerous accolades over her seven-decade career, including an Academy Award, an Emmy Award, six Golden Globes, and a Lifetime Achievement Award. Apart from acting, MacLaine has written numerous books regarding the subjects of metaphysics, spirituality, and reincarnation, as well as a New York Times bestselling memoir, "Out on a Limb."

"The Wall of Life: Pictures and Stories from This Marvelous Lifetime" retails for $35 and is available October 22, 2024. It is also available as an audiobook and eBook.

Photo By: Bob Willoughby/ mptvimages.com.


CRUNCYROLL By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:

CRUNCHYROLL REVEALS ENGLISH SUBTITLED TRAILER FOR "HAIKYU!! THE DUMPSTER BATTLE"

Based on the original Weekly Shonen Jump manga series from Haruichi Furudate, "HAIKYU!!" is a slice-of-life sports anime revolving around Shoyo Hinata's love of volleyball.

Inspired by a small-statured player known as the "Little Giant," Hinata creates a team in his last year of middle school. His team is unfortunately matched up against "King of the Court'' Tobio Kageyama's team in their first tournament. Their clashing styles turn into a surprising weapon, but can they beat their rival Nekoma High in the highly anticipated "Dumpster Battle," the long-awaited ultimate showdown between two opposing underdog teams?

""HAIKYU!!" will be released in North America on May 31. It is directed and written by Susumu Mitsunaka. Original story by Haruichi Furudate. Produced by Production I.G. Run time: 85 minutes.

The first four seasons of HAIKYU!! are currently available to stream on Crunchyroll.

Check Out This Trailer For "HAIKYU!!"