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Review: ‘White People’ is edgy; has memorable cast

In this image released by Roadside Attractions, Kyle Gallner, left, and Tessa Thompson appear in a scene from

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A cheeky provocation wrapped in a zingy punchline, Justin Simien’s “Dear White People” recalls other memorably promising debuts — by filmmakers named Spike, for instance, whether Lee or Jonze. An ambitious satire that questions just how “post-racial” America has become, the film is never at a loss for words, but sometimes confuses galvanizing rhetoric… Continue reading →

Review: Murray amuses and charms in grouchy ‘St. Vincent’ title role

Photo provided by the Weinstein Company -- From left, Bill Murray and Jaeden Lieberher star in 'St. Vincent.'

Bill Murray finds the perfect Bill Murray role in “St. Vincent.” The veteran comic and sometimes dramatic actor nails the movie’s title role of grouchy Brooklyn retiree Vincent McKenna. Murray’s Vincent amuses and charms, despite the character’s apparent lack of interest in pleasing anyone other than himself. At 64, Murray is ripe for the part, comfortable… Continue reading →

Review: ‘John Wick’ both slick and stupid

Photo by DAVID LEE -- Keanu Reeves stars as a former hit man out for revenge in 'John Wick.'

“John Wick,” an action-thriller starring Keanu Reeves, doesn’t leave a single cliché unturned. Showing not an ounce of invention, it recycles the same old scenarios, shootouts, man-to-man combat, car chases and fiery explosions. The “John Wick” script occasionally aspires to dry wit of the kind spoken through the past 50 years by the actors who’ve played… Continue reading →

Fats Domino documentary

Photo provided by Joe Lauro -- Fats Domino, far left, performed with the Billy Diamond Band before he became a recording star.

From 1950 through 1962, New Orleans’ Fats Domino sold 60 million records. During most of that time, trumpeter, producer and band leader Dave Bartholomew played the essential role of creative partner to the piano-playing star. “The Big Beat,” including extraordinary concert footage from the French National Archives, chronicles Domino’s and Bartholomew’s… Continue reading →

New movies for Oct. 23-29, 2014

Photo by DAVID LEE -- Keanu Reeves stars in action-thriller ‘John Wick.’

“JOHN WICK”: Keanu Reeves is back in action as a retired assassin out for revenge. The body count rises, as Reeves targets the vicious son of a Russian crime lord. “OUIJA”: A group of friends awakens the dark power of an ancient spirit board. Stiles White directs from a script co-written by… Continue reading →

‘Fury’ a barrage of heavy-handedness

Sony Pictures Entertainment photo by GILES KEYTE -- Brad Pitt , left, as Wardaddy, and Logan Lerman, right, as Norman, star in Columbia Pictures' 'Fury.'

The relentless barrage of heavy-handedness in David Ayer’s World War II tank drama “Fury” begins immediately. A lone horseman approaches on the grim horizon of a foggy, corpse-strewn battlefield. Out of the muck leaps a man who pulls the rider down and savagely bludgeons him in the eye. Ayer, a veteran of the Navy and… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Book of Life’ celebrates death

This image released by Twentieth Century Fox  shows the character Manolo, voiced by Diego Luna, left, and the character Maria, voiced by Zoe Saldana in a scene from

LOS ANGELES — It’s not surprising that a companion art book to the new animated film directed by Jorge R. Gutierrez and produced by Guillermo del Toro has already been released. Steeped in Mexican folk art and inspired by that country’s holiday the Day of the Dead, “The Book of Life” is a visually stunning effort… Continue reading →

New Orleans Film Festival keeps the focus on new talent

Photo provided by New Orlans Film Fesival -- John Desplas, artistic director of the New Orleans Film Festival: 'Now you can always see something, eventually. So our festivals emphasis is on the filmmakers showing their new films and new talent being discovered.'

Twenty-five years ago, the New Orleans Film Festival was all about showing indie films, art films and foreign films that local film fans wouldn’t get to see otherwise. The festival’s focus has changed dramatically in the years since. That’s partly because there are so many more opportunities to see films, including video on demand, an array… Continue reading →

New Orleans Film Festival returns for 25th year

Photo provided by the New Orleans Film Festival -- Octavia Spencer, left, and Kevin Costner star in 'Black and White,' the opening night film for this year's New Orleans Film Festival. The festival runs Oct. 16-23.

The 25th annual New Orleans Film Festival, featuring 237 films, runs Thursday through Oct. 23. “Black and White,” a New Orleans-filmed drama starring Kevin Costner, Octavia Spencer and Anthony Mackie, is the festival’s opening night film. The festival will close with the world premiere of “The Big Beat,” Joe Lauro’s documentary about New Orleans music… Continue reading →

New Movies for the week of Oct. 16, 2014

Sony Pictures Entertainment photo by GILES KEYTE -- Brad Pitt plays Wardaddy in 'Fury,' which opens in theaters Friday.

“BAYOU MAHARAJAH: THE TRAGIC GENIUS OF JAMES BOOKER”: Local filmmaker Lily Keber interviewed friends and admirers of New Orleans pianist James Booker for the documentary. Dr. John, actor, pianist and singer Hugh Laurie and Booker’s now famous piano student, Harry Connick Jr., discuss Booker’s brilliance. Showing exclusively at Chalmette Movies. “FURY”: In… Continue reading →

Oil & Water Documentary examines impact of BP spill on Cajun culture

AP File Photo, U.S. Coast Guard -- In this April 21, 2010, file image provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon. British oil company BP said Thursday Nov. 15, 2012 it is in advanced talks with U.S. agencies about settling criminal and other claims from the Gulf of Mexico well blowout two years ago. In a statement, BP said

On April 20, 2010, an explosion ripped through an oil rig hundreds of miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. The fiery blast on the Deepwater Horizon killed 11 workers and, two days later, caused the rig to collapse, leaving a ragged pipe thousands of feet below the surface gushing oil for five months. It… Continue reading →

‘Gone Girl’ tops box office for second weekend

In this image released by Universal Pictures, Luke Evans appears in a scene from

LOS ANGELES — Four new films couldn’t catch “Gone Girl” at theaters this weekend. The Fox thriller starring Ben Affleck as a man whose wife goes missing is poised to top the box office for a second week with $26.8 million in ticket sales, according to studio estimates Sunday. Also starring Rosamund… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Alexander’ a snappy, benign comedy

Disney photo by DALE ROBINETTE -- Steve Carell, center, stars in 'Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,' which opens in theaters Friday.

Given its premise, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” could have been a lot more horrible and no good than it is. In fact, at a quick 82 minutes, this straight-arrow family comedy about a day when misfortune comes to visit and stays awhile goes down relatively painlessly if one considers the repetitive nature… Continue reading →

Review: ‘The Notebook’ more bleak than inspiring story of survival

Photo by CHRISTIAN BERGER -- Left to right: László Gyémánt as Egyik Iker, Gyöngyver Bognar as Anya and András Gyémánt. as Masik Iker.

A story of unyielding cruelty set during the waning months of World War II, “The Notebook” offers no quarter. The filmmakers’ fine craft and isolated instances of cinematic beauty can’t redeem the ubiquitous malice they depict. The Hungarian-set “The Notebook” details several months in the lives of 13-year-old twin boys. It begins with the children’s brief… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Mouse Music’ captures heart of La. roots

Photo provided by Argot Pictures -- Mance Lipscomb, left, and Chris Strachwitz

Louisiana music pulses through “This Ain’t No Mouse Music,” the documentary about Chris Strachwitz, founder of the great roots-music label Arhoolie Records. New Orleans’ Treme Brass Band plays and parades. Cajun musicians Michael and David Doucet, of Beausoleil, appear in an intimate New Orleans courtyard setting. Younger-generation Cajun group the Pine Leaf Boys performs for a… Continue reading →

New Movies for Oct. 9-15, 2014

Warner Bros. Pictures photo by CLAIRE FOLGER -- Vera Farmiga plays Samantha Powell, the old flame of Robert Downey Jr.'s Hank Palmer in 'The Judge.'

“ADDICTED”: Based on the best-selling novel by Zane, “Addicted” is a thriller based around Sharon, a successful businesswoman, wife and mother who gives in to temptation. The cast includes Sharon Leal, Boris Kodjoe, Kat Graham, Maria Howell and Tyson Beckford. “ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, BAD DAY”: Eleven-year-old Alexander (Ed Oxenbould)… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Love’ plods along, not all strangely

Photo by JEONG PARK -- Alfred Molina, left, plays George and John Lithgow is Ben in 'Love Is Strange.'

It’s tempting to guess that if the principal characters in “Love Is Strange” had not been so naïve, they wouldn’t be wrestling with the difficult situation they find themselves in. A self-conscious, tentative drama, “Love Is Strange” concerns George and Ben, two New Yorker City men have been together for 39 years. When the state of… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Good Lie’ comedy act undermines tale

In this image released by Warner Bros. Pictures, Reese Witherspoon, left, and Ger Duany appear in a scene from

News accounts of conflict, genocide and disaster often highlight numbers and generalities. On the contrary, “The Good Lie” makes the suffering caused by war and poverty personal. There’s much tragedy and poignancy in “The Good Lie,” a war and resettlement story directed by Philippe Falardeau (“Monsieur Lazhar”) and written by Margaret Nagle (“Boardwalk Empire”).… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Gone Girl’ sure to reappear at awards time

DF-05063_05054_COMP5 -- Rosamund Pike portrays Amy Dunne, whose mysterious disappearance turns her husband into a possible murder suspect.

As mysteries and thrillers go, the David Fincher-directed “Gone Girl” is premium chocolate — with a treacherous aftertaste. Fincher, working from Gillian Flynn’s screenplay of her hit novel, handles this tale of manipulation and deceit with a master’s stylish touch. “Gone Girl” runs 2 hours, and 35 minutes, but there are no wasted words. Lean and mean,… Continue reading →

Beatified N.O. priest Father Seelos honored with one-man play on WYES

Photo provided by WYES -- The 90-minute one-man play about Blessed Father Xavier Seelos premieres on WYES-TV/Channel 12 on Saturday, Oct. 4 at 7 p.m.

In 1867, New Orleans was suffering. Just two years after the Civil War, the city was fighting a new battle. But instead of human foes, scores of people were taken by a disease: yellow fever. In that year alone, more than 3,000 people died from the disease. The New York… Continue reading →

New Movies for the week of Oct. 2, 2014

“GONE GIRL”: David Fincher (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Social Network”) directs Ben Affleck in a story about a man whose wife disappears on their fifth wedding anniversary. In the glare of a media frenzy and police investigation, Nick Dunne’s portrait of a blissful marriage crumbles. Rosamund Pike, Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick Harris… Continue reading →

Washington’s ‘The Equalizer’ debuts with $35M

In this image released by Columbia Pictures, Denzel Washington appears in a scene from the film,

NEW YORK — Flexing his star power, Denzel Washington led the thriller “The Equalizer” to a $35 million debut, according to studio estimates Sunday. The Sony-Columbia Pictures release dominated the weekend box office, surpassing some expectations for the film. Washington plays a former commando living a quiet life in Boston when the… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Skeleton Twins’ a multidimensional, entertaining, affecting story

Photo provided by Roadside Attractions -- Bill Hader, left, and Kristen Wiig co-star as troubled siblings in 'The Skeleton Twins.'

Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader, two especially talented ex-“Saturday Night Live” cast members, reunite in the funny and sad “The Skeleton Twins.” Wiig and Hader play a pair of troubled adult twins who haven’t seen each other in a decade. Their “SNL” chemistry reignites, snapping like clockwork. Co-writer and director Craig Johnson, in just… Continue reading →

Review: Gorgeous stop-motion, smart story animates ‘Boxtrolls’

Photo provided by Focus Features -- In the new animated feature 'The Boxtrolls,' a subterranean community of harmless trolls is threatened by the evil, power-hungry Archibald Snatcher.

Giving animation giants Pixar and Disney another run for their box office money, the Oregon-based LAIKA animation studio has a new contender in “The Boxtrolls.” Two previous LAIKA films, 2012’s “ParaNorman” and 2009’s “Coraline,” earned Oscar nominations for best animated feature film. Exceptionally entertaining, “The Boxtrolls” will… Continue reading →

New movies for the week of Sept. 25, 2014

Photo provided by Focus Features -- In the new animated feature 'The Boxtrolls,' a subterranean community of harmless trolls is threatened by the evil, power-hungry Archibald Snatcher.

“THE EQUALIZER”: Oscar-winner Denzel Washington stars as Robert McCall, a man who believes he has traded his mysterious past for a quiet new life. But when McCall meets Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz), a young girl who is controlled by brutal Russian gangsters, he can’t help but help her. Antoine Fuqua directs, and Bill Pullman and Melissa… Continue reading →

’Maze Runner’ races past ‘Tombstones’ with $32.5 million

In this image released by 20th Century Fox, Dylan O'Brien appears in a scene from the film,

NEW YORK — The young-adult adaptation “The Maze Runner” raced to the top of the box-office with $32.5 million, giving a budding franchise a quick start out of the gate. The 20th Century Fox release easily outpaced the $13.1 million debut of Liam Neeson’s hardboiled private eye thriller “A Walk Among the Tombstones” and the… Continue reading →

Review: Well-made ‘Last Sentence’ a frustratingly surfacey story

Photo by NILLIE LEANDER -- Pernilla August and Jesper Christensen star in the Swedish drama 'The Last Sentence.'

A brooding biopic from Sweden, “The Last Sentence” is set during an eventful period in the life of Swedish journalist Torgny Segerstedt. Even so, the story told in the film ends up being so much less than the momentous history that surrounds it. From 1933 through 1945, Sweden existed in a geographically hazardous spot between Nazi… Continue reading →

Review: Neeson in action again in ‘Tombstones’

Photo by Atsushi Nishijima -- Writer/director Scott Frank works on the set of 'A Walk Among the Tombstones.'

LOS ANGELES (AP) — It’s not for nothing that the names of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe are reverentially referenced in writer-director Scott Frank’s adaptation of the 10th novel in Lawrence Block’s long-running, best-selling series featuring unlicensed private eye Matthew Scudder. Distinctly and proudly old-fashioned in its retro, film noir vibe, “A Walk Among the Tombstones” is notable… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Maze Runner’ doesn’t find its own path

In this image released by 20th Century Fox, Dylan O'Brien, foreground, appears in a scene from

If you see one film about walled-in males this fall, it should be the savage and powerful British prison drama “Starred Up,” a superlatively acted father-son story played out behind bars and starring up-and-coming Jack O’Connell. Not many are likely to make that choice, though, as “The Maze Runner,” based on the James Dashner 2009 fantasy novel,… Continue reading →

Review: A-list cast can’t save sappy ‘Leave You’

Photo provided by Warner Bros. Pictures -- From left, Tina Fey, Corey Stoll, Jane Fonda, Jason Bateman and Adam Driver are shown in a scene from 'This Is Where I Leave You.'

Somebody dies. Family gathers to mourn. Everybody’s stuck in one house, with all their quirks and foibles and enough emotional baggage to fill an aircraft carrier. What could go wrong? Ha ha. What couldn’t? This scenario could be a drama or a comedy — or, in the case of “This Is Where I Leave You,” both: a… Continue reading →