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Review: Lotsa grinding, little plot in ‘Magic Mike XXL’

Warner Bros. Pictures photo by CLAUDETTE BARIUS -- All eyes are on Stephen 'Twitch' Boss as Malik, in 'Magic Mike XXL,' which opened in theaters Wednesday.

There’s an early scene in “Magic Mike XXL” that hints at what this much ballyhooed sequel woulda, coulda, shoulda been. Mike Lane, played by the well nigh irresistible Channing Tatum, is alone in his furniture workshop. As he saws, measures and sands, the beat of the music he’s listening to starts to transport him. He can’t stop… Continue reading →

Review: Arnold (but little else) is back in ‘Terminator’

This photo provided by Paramount Pictures shows, Arnold Schwarzenegger, left, as the Terminator and J.K. Simmons as Detective O'Brien, in "Terminator Genisys," from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions. (Melinda Sue Gordon/Paramount Pictures via AP)

Thirty-one years and counting, and the Terminators keep rolling off the assembly line like new iPhones, upgraded with shape-shifting abilities, rebooted Sarah Conner assassination levels and, one presumes, better selfie cameras. “Terminator Genisys,” directed by Alan Taylor (“Thor: The Dark World”), is the fifth entry in the series begun by James Cameron and a naked money grab… Continue reading →

Review: An ‘Overnight’ to remember

The Orchard photo by John Guleserian -- From left, Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling and Jason Schwartzman share a scene in 'The Overnight.'

Thirty-something couple Alex and Emily and their young son, R.J., have been Los Angeles residents for two weeks. They moved to L.A. for Emily’s job, which means it’s the unemployed Alex who takes R.J. to the park to play. In the park, R.J. befriends the son of L.A. couple Kurt and Charlotte. When Kurt sees the… Continue reading →

Review: 'In Stereo' tone deaf and stuck on mono

Photo provided by Greenleaf & Associates -- Micah Hauptman, top, and Beau Garrett star in ‘In Stereo.'

“In Stereo” is another of those New York stories about artists in turmoil. The film’s characters wallow in their selfishness, ingratitude and inability to love. These characters have their ups and downs, just as non-artists who don’t live in New York City do, but exactly why they’re so unhappy and maladjusted remains a mystery.… Continue reading →

New Movies for the week of July 2-8, 2015

Paramount Pictures photo by MELINDA SUE GORDON -- Arnold Schwarzenegger returns as the Terminator in 'Terminator Genisys,' which opened Wednesday.

“TERMINATOR GENISYS”: After John Connor (Jason Clarke) sends Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back in time to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), he finds that the past has unexpectedly changed. Arnold Schwarzenegger returns as the Guardian, facing new enemies and a new challenge. “MAGIC MIKE XXL”: Channing Tatum reprises his role… Continue reading →

Review: No magic in ‘Manglehorn’

Photo by RYAN GREEN -- Al Pacino, left, plays A.J. Manglehorn and Holly Hunter plays Dawn in ‘Manglehorn.’

Al Pacino broods through “Manglehorn,” an intimate drama about a lonely locksmith who lives, if you can call it that, in a small Texas town. As title character A.J. Manglehorn, Pacino is on screen in nearly every scene. When he’s not on a locksmith call, Manglehorn is often the only character shown. He exists in… Continue reading →

Review: Overstuffed plot spoils irreverent, silly ‘Ted 2’

Photo provided by Universal Pictures -- Mark Wahlberg , from left, the character Ted, voiced by Seth MacFarlane, and Amanda Seyfried share a scene in 'Ted 2.'

“Ted 2” asks a question that we never needed, or particularly wanted, to know the answer to: Is Ted, the magical, foul-mouthed, pot-smoking teddy bear, a person in the eyes of the law? While it’s unfair to judge a comedy simply for a ridiculous premise, here, it also happens to be the unlikely killer of… Continue reading →

‘Me and Earl’ just here to hang out with you

Photo by ANNE MARIE FOX -- Olivia Cooke as Rachel, Thomas Mann as Greg and R.J. Cyler as Earl in 'Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.'

In “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” Pittsburgh high school senior Greg thinks he’s got it all figured out. He glides by all of the social groups — or, as he calls them, the nations — that populate his school. Simultaneously, he’s a member of none of these groups. Greg prides himself on keeping his distance.… Continue reading →

New Movies for the week of June 25-July 1, 2015

Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures - John (Mark Wahlberg), Ted (Seth MacFarlne and Samantha (Amanda Seyfried) hit the road in 'Ted 2.'

“Ted 2”: In 2012, a cute but nasty computer-animated teddy bear co-starred with Mark Wahlberg in “Ted.” Seth MacFarlane wrote and directed the comedy and provided the voice for Ted, the magically alive stuffed animal who has human flaws and desires. MacFarlane and Wahlberg return for “Ted 2,” in which Ted is newly wed to Tami-Lynn,… Continue reading →

Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon embraced chance to helm drama-comedy ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’

Photo by ANNE MARIE FOX -- Actor Thomas Mann, left, works with director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon on the set of 'Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.'

Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon earned two Emmy nominations for the New Orleans-set “American Horror Story: Coven.” His first feature film, 2014’s well-received, Shreveport-shot “The Town That Dreaded Sundown,” is in the horror vein, too. Gomez-Rejon, a native of Laredo, Texas, who’s based in Los Angeles, very much enjoyed directing those 12 episodes of “American Horror Story.” He… Continue reading →

Review: In Pixar’s ‘Inside Out,’ moods hold a little girl hostage

Photo provided by Pixar -- In ‘Inside Out,’ a girl’s emotions -- from left,  Anger, Disgust, Joy, Fear and Sadness -– disagree about how she should deal with life in a new city.

“Inside Out” has the cute characters, lively storytelling, technical marvels and beautiful production values that audiences expect from Pixar Animation Studios. The movie is also an especially poignant entry in the Pixar catalog. Humor, while not entirely absent, takes a backseat to a dramatic, escalating crisis. Co-directed by Oscar-winning Pixar veteran Pete Docter… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Hungry Hearts’: Not quite horror, not quite great

Photo by CHRISTIE MULLEN -- Adam Driver (Jude) and Alba Rohrwacher (Mina) in Saverio Costanzo’s drama 'Hungry Hearts.'

The disturbing drama “Hungry Hearts” is a creepy, stylish story that’s just short of a horror film. The film, set in New York, stars Adam Driver, from HBO’s “Girls,” and Italian actress Alba Rohrwacher. Saverio Costanzo directed the film and adapted the screenplay from Marco Franzoso’s novel, “Il Bambino Indaco.” The English-language “Hungry… Continue reading →

New Movies for the week of June 18-24, 2015

Photo provided by Pixar -- In ‘Inside Out,’ a girl’s emotions -- from left,  Anger, Disgust, Joy, Fear and Sadness -– disagree about how she should deal with life in a new city.

“INSIDE OUT”: The new movie from Disney/Pixar focuses on a girl, Riley, who moves from the Midwest to San Francisco. The story co-stars Riley’s emotions, all of whom have names and voices. Riley’s emotions are: Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). Joy, Riley’s most important emotion,… Continue reading →

Review: Geeks go gangster in fresh, lively ‘Dope’

Open Road Films photo by Rachel Morrison -- Shameik Moore stars as Malcolm in the new film, 'Dope.'

“Dope” hooks you fast and strong. The coy, over-the-top Sundance hit from writer-director Rick Famuyiwa about a couple of geeks who get entangled in gangster culture is a fresh and slightly rebellious take on the series of escalating events story. Our hero, Malcolm (Shameik Moore), is introduced in his senior year of high school. His… Continue reading →

’Jurassic World’ bites off biggest global bow in history

Photo by Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment –- The Indominus rex threatens dinosaurs and humans in ‘Jurassic World.’

LOS ANGELES — Dinosaurs are anything but extinct at the box office. “Jurassic World,” the fourth film in the series, became the highest global opener of all time with a staggering $511.8 million in its first days in theaters. It also devoured a number of domestic box office records with a $204.6 million take, according to… Continue reading →

Review: Hugely entertaining ‘Jurassic World,’ partially filmed in New Orleans, roars onto screen

Photo by Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment -- Owen (Chris Pratt) attempts to keep theme park attractions at bay in ‘Jurassic World.'

As a character in the new “Jurassic Park” sequel says, the public wants bigger, louder entertainment. For island theme park and resort Jurassic World, bigger and louder also means more teeth and a bigger appetite. “Jurassic World,” shot in Hawaii, Southern California, New Orleans and Baton Rouge, serves moviegoers bigger, louder and closer encounters with hungry… Continue reading →

New Movies for June 11-17, 2015

Photo by Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment -- Owen (Chris Pratt) attempts to keep theme park attractions at bay in ‘Jurassic World.'

“JURASSIC WORLD”: Twenty years after Dr. John Hammond dreamed of creating a theme park filled with free-range dinosaurs, his dream has become reality. This 3D “Jurassic Park” sequel includes stars Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson and BD Wong. “THE 100-YEAR-OLD MAN WHO CLIMBED OUT THE WINDOW AND… Continue reading →

McCarthy’s ‘Spy’ tops with $30 million, ‘Entourage’ lags

Photo by LARRY HORRICKS -- Melissa McCarthy in 'Spy.'

NEW YORK — Melissa McCarthy notched her first No. 1 box-office debut as a leading lady with the $30 million opening of the espionage comedy “Spy,” leaving the guys of “Entourage” in the dust. The result added to the string of success of McCarthy and writer-director Paul Feig, who first united on the 2011 hit “Bridesmaids.” While… Continue reading →

‘The Connection’ à la française

Photo courtesy of Drafthouse Films -- Jean Dujardin plays Magistrate Pierre Michel in the French crime drama 'The Connection.'

In director William Friedkin’s 1971 crime classic, “The French Connection,” two New York cops work to catch a massive heroin shipment from France. Gene Hackman plays pugnacious police officer Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle. Fernando Rey co-stars as Doyle’s suave nemesis, drug smuggler Alain Charnier. Hackman’s performance won an Oscar. “The Connection,” a crime drama from France that’s… Continue reading →

McCarthy goes undercover in ‘Spy’

Photo by LARRY HORRICKS -- Melissa McCarthy, left, and Jude Law in 'Spy.'

Following the funny business they made in “The Heat” and “Bridesmaids,” Melissa McCarthy and writer-director Paul Feig are at it again. McCarthy, having respectively co-starred and a played supporting role in those films, takes the lead and runs with it in “Spy.” Alongside the several funny supporting performances in the movie, McCarthy unquestionably emerges… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Entourage’ needs less excess, more emotion

Warner Bros. Pictures photo by CLAUDETTE BARIUS -- Perrey Reeves, left, as Mrs. Ari, and Jeremy Piven as Ari Gold, share a scene in Warner Bros. Pictures,' Home Box Office's and RatPac-Dune Entertainment's comedy 'Entourage.'

Like the HBO show, “Entourage” delights in Hollywood excess. This is a world where you might land your helicopter on someone’s lawn to crash a business meeting, or take a little yacht to meet up with your buddy on his bigger yacht. It’s a land of celebrities, wealth and topless women. This is the Hollywood… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Entourage’ embraces, celebrates Hollywood excess

Warner Bros. Pictures photo by CLAUDETTE BARIUS -- Perrey Reeves, left, as Mrs. Ari, and Jeremy Piven as Ari Gold, share a scene in Warner Bros. Pictures,' Home Box Office's and RatPac-Dune Entertainment's comedy 'Entourage.'

Like the HBO show, “Entourage” delights in Hollywood excess. This is a world where you might land your helicopter on someone’s lawn to crash a business meeting, or take a little yacht to meet up with your buddy on his bigger yacht. It’s a land of celebrities, wealth and topless women. This is the Hollywood… Continue reading →

Review: Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson subject of bittersweet biopic

Photo by FRANCOIS DUHAMEL -- Paul Dana, center, plays Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson in 'Love & Mercy.'

“Love & Mercy,” a biopic about Brian Wilson, casts two actors as the musical genius behind The Beach Boys. Off-putting as the unusual approach may be, it works. Beautiful and heartbreaking, “Love & Mercy” earns its place alongside the best biopics, including Oscar winners “Ray” and “Capote.” Paul Dano (“12 Years a Slave,” “Little Miss Sunshine”)… Continue reading →

New Movies

Photo by LARRY HORRICKS -- Melissa McCarthy goes deep undercover in the new comedy 'Spy.'

“ENTOURAGE”: This big-screen adaptation of the HBO series reunites the show’s original cast. Movie star Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) and his boys — Eric (Kevin Connolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and Johnny (Kevin Dillon) — are back in business with super agent-turned-studio head Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven). “SPY”: Comic-actress Melissa McCarthy stars as… Continue reading →

Create Louisiana, Film Society and Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities create filmmaking grant

Associated Press file photo by Jaap Buitendijk/Fox Searchlight -- Steve McQueen directs during filming of the New Orleans-area shot '12 Years a Slave.'

The New Orleans Film Society, the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and Create Louisiana have established the 2016 Create Louisiana Filmmakers Grant. The $50,000 grant will provide funding to a Louisiana production team for the making of a short film. Applications will open in August and be available at www.createlouisiana.com. More details, including grant… Continue reading →

Review: Despite being a documentary, 'The Seven Five' can be watched alongside any Martin Scorsese crime movie

New York Police Department ID card of Michael Dowd in Tiller Russell's "The Seven Five." A Sundance Selects release. (Sundance Selects)

“The Seven Five,” an engrossing documentary about extreme corruption in the New York City Police Department during the 1980s and early ’90s, could be the crime drama Martin Scorsese wishes he’d made. Or may yet make. The documentary’s memorable real-life characters include drug dealers, NYPD internal affairs investigators, federal agents and the dirty cops. The bad… Continue reading →

Review: Say goodbye, not hello, to Cameron Crowe’s ‘Aloha’

This photo provided by Sony Pictures Entertainment shows, Bradley Cooper, left, and Alec Baldwin, in a scene from Columbia Pictures' "Aloha." The movie releases in U.S. theaters on May 29, 2015. (Neal Preston/Sony Pictures Entertainment via AP)

Cameron Crowe loves a good failure story, and specifically what happens after a disastrous fall from the top. If Crowe were a character in his own film, the fiasco of “Aloha,” and nearly all of his post-“Almost Famous” movies, would provide the perfect intro. Unfortunately, “Aloha” is not part of some larger redemption narrative for Crowe (at… Continue reading →

Review: Dwayne comes to the rescue, but he forgot the script

HOLD FOR STORY - This photo provided by Warner Bros. Pictures shows, Carla Gugino as Emma, in a scene from the action thriller, "San Andreas." The movie releases in theaters on May 29, 2015.  (Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)

It’s sure been a rough year for Hollywood. First there was the stinging Sony hacking scandal. And now we have the humbling image of the Hollywood letters themselves toppling to the ground, as most of California is pulverized by an earthquake — make that earthquakes, plural — in “San Andreas.” If those letters toppling sounds like a… Continue reading →

NEW MOVIES

This photo provided by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Dwayne Johnson, left, as Ray, and Carla Gugino as Emma, in a scene from the action thriller, "San Andreas." The movie releases in theaters on May 29, 2015.  (Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)

“ALOHA”: A military contractor (Bradley Cooper) returns to the site of his greatest career triumphs — the U.S. space program in Hawaii. He meets with a long-ago love (Rachel McAdams) in Honolulu while unexpectedly falling for the tough Air Force watchdog (Emma Stone) assigned to him. Oscar-winner Cameron Crowe directs an all-star cast including Bill Murray,… Continue reading →