Movies at a Glance & New DVDs



                                                                     MOVIES AT A GLANCE.

For NEW DVDs click HERE                                                                           


(1hr 32min) *** ½ Documentary. Spend 90 minutes listening to the incomparable Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin recording her Gospel double album Amazing Grace, the Best Selling Gospel Album of all time. "She could have done it in a studio but she wanted to do it here." In 1972 at age 30 and with numerous awards, Aretha returned to her roots to revive hymns she had sung early in life at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Watts, backed by the Southern California Community Choir, a rhythm section and an enthusiastic mainly black audience. The results are unusual, with cameras rolling while technicians adjust wires and mics, photographers are everywhere, with people coming and going, and, in the midst of it, a relaxed Aretha. Director Sydney Pollack failed to properly synchronize image and sound with clapperboards, thus rendering the film impossible to edit, but thanks to modern digital technology it has now been completed. This amazing, marvellous documentary is a must-see for all music lovers. (Intl Village)
NEW: ASK DR. RUTH (1hr 40min) *** ½ Ask Dr. Ruth and she’ll tell you she was born in 1928 Karola Ruth Siegel in Wiesenfeld, Germany to Orthodox Jews. With the arrival of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime in the ‘30s, at age 10 she was sent by her mother and grandmother along with 50 other children as part of the Kindertransport to an orphanage in Wengen, Switzerland, where she and other refugees looked after younger children.  She never saw her parents again and assumed they were victims of the Holocaust, their lives ending in Auschwitz Concentration camp. Relationships were forbidden at the Orphanage but Ruth recounts about her childhood boyfriend, “I still remember the taste of his kisses.”  She emigrated at 17 to British-controlled Mandatory Palestine. In 1950 she taught psychology at the University of Paris and 6 years later she immigrated to the US, settling in Manhattan. And then, as we all know, in the 1980s this diminutive 4ft 7in ball of energy with a thick German accent and contagious laugh exploded in the US media as being straight talking, honest, truthful, and the nation’s most popular sex therapist. Throughout the documentary, director Ryan White covers some of the narrative, especially of her early life, with animated sequences when there is no archival footage available. The film opens and returns occasionally to Ruth in her cluttered Washington Heights apartment, home for the past 40 years, where she receives visits from friends and family (she has had three husbands), especially on her 90th birthday when her children and four grandchildren came to pay their respects. Anytime on the subject of politics, she refuses to discuss it in public. On radio she debuted “Sexually Speaking” surprisingly on 30 Rock at midnight on Sundays, where listeners would call in with highly personal sexual problems which she never failed to answer.  Word of mouth spread and her candid but respectful program was expanded to 2 hours  By 1983 she had the top rated local radio show, and, the following year, NBC signed on The Dr Ruth Show nationwide. She was a guest on the late night talk shows including Johnny Carson, David Letterman and Arsenio Hall. The clips are delightful and I wish there had been more of them as well as her audiences asking surprisingly blunt questions and getting frank and truthful answers. She was now a household name and then followed books, lectures, tours, you name it … everyone wanted Dr. Ruth. “I have an obligation to live large and to make a dent in this world.” The intimate crowd pleaser has done that successfully. (Fifth Avenue)
NEW: THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM (1hr 32min) *** Documentary.  Now this could be a sleeper hit spurred by positive word of mouth. Documentary nature film maker John Chester and his chef / food blogger wife Molly adopted a black dog from the pound (they were mesmerized by his eyes) they named Todd and took it back to their cramped Santa Monica .apartment where they bonded very quickly. But the only problem was that Todd did not like to be left alone and barked incessantly when they were out at work. They led to angry neighbours and an eviction notice and they packed their belongings and headed out towards Ventura Country looking for somewhere cheap and spacious. They checked a 200 acre parcel of barren and parched land in Moorpark and decided they were going to revive it with the intention of eventually producing all their own produce. The inexperienced would-be farmers engaged “traditional farming” consultant Alan York to help them embrace biodiversity, along with a small group of eager, dedicated supporters. The inspirational film, with John mainly as voice-over narrator, chronicles their trial and error efforts at land recovery and their successive 8 years eventually resulted in the remarkable profitable success they achieved in their environmentally friendly Apricot Lane Farms.  During those years they had to endure the worst drought in decades and wildfires. Oddly, they never mention how they financed the purchase of the land, a  beautiful home and expensive equipment, as well as the countless animals (cows, black faced sheep and pigs) and birds (chickens and ducks) which helped invigorate the soil with their daily poop providing rich organic waste to rejuvenate the soil. “Compost was our goal!” And who paid for the expensive five mile long irrigation system?  The sumptuous photography by John and four others is superb and the characters introduced are entertaining. The giant ornery sow, Emma, gave birth to a surprising 17 cute thirsty piglets, all vying for breakfast from an exhausted mom who was befriended by a scraggily rooster!  The sheep, chickens and ducks fell prey to nightly visits from marauding coyotes which, along with owls and snakes, hunted burrowing gophers; the luscious fruit trees attracted aphids and hordes of starlings, and an influx of snails fed hungry ducks. Be forewarned we see numerous dead chickens, ducks and lambs from the predators and, following the failure of electric fencing, John reluctantly resorted to a shotgun.  On the positive side, Molly had a baby. The unusual film has been a surprising success at several Festivals, winning Best Documentary.  But I still want to know how they paid for all this and other similar questions!  (Intl Village)
THE BOY WHO HARNESSED THE WIND (1hr 53min) *** ½ Nigerian English actor Chiwetel Ejoifor (12 Years a Slave) makes an impressive directorial debut and is co-writer of this inspirational British drama set in rural Malawi, based on the memoir by William Kamkwamba. In 2001, William (Maxwell Simba) lived with his impoverished family led by uneducated father Trywell (Ejoifor). The farming family struggled annually with scorching drought followed by torrential rain, thus causing famine. At 13, he had a fascination for electronics and scavenged parts from the scrap yard to repair radios for the villagers. With crop failure, his father (Ejoifor) couldn't afford William's school tuition although the boy snuck into science classes and read library books. He was adamant he could build a makeshift wind turbine using dad's only form of transportation, his bicycle, and other odds and ends, bringing water into the parched community. It's a compelling life or death survival story with a splendid breakthrough performance by Simba. (Netflix)
EXTREMELY WICKED, SHOCKINGLY EVIL AND VILE (1hr 50min) *** Presiding judge Edwartd Cowart made those remarks at sociopath, serial killer, kidnapper and rapist Ted Bundy’s trial for multiple murders (he confessed to 30 between 1974 and '78) while sentencing him in 1980 to death by electrocution. In 1969 Seattle law student Ted Bundy (Zac Efron) met single mom "Liz" (Lily Collins) and she became his romantic and domestic partner throughout his years of crime. Based on her 1981 memoir: "The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy," the compelling story is told from Liz’ prospective and we are spared gruesome details of his victims' deaths. From January to July 1975 young women were attacked and brutally murdered by a serial killer. A drawing by one woman who escaped resembled Bundy but there was no proof. Over time Liz struggled with the accusations and co-incidences and she grew more distant. He was then involved with Carole Ann Boone (Kaya Scodelario), getting her pregnant. This builds up to the final 1979 Miami nationally televised courtroom scene where Ted fired his lawyer, married Carole Ann, and received the death sentence, Interesting! (Netflix)
THE HIGHWAYMEN (2hrs 12min) *** This has been in development by writer John Fusco since 2005 initially as a Paul Newman and Robert Redford project about a couple of retired Texas Rangers who were hired to apprehend notorious criminals Bonnie and Clyde. Texas governor "Ma" Ferguson (Kathy Bates) disbanded the Texas Rangers to introduce a new younger generation of law enforcement officers and high on their wanted list was trigger happy, wild and young Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow whose crime spree started in 1931 ending in 1934, killing 9 lawmen during that time. Unable to apprehend them and stung by bad publicity, Ma called out of retirement and gave "highwaymen" status to former Ranger Frank Hamer (Kevin Costner) and Manny Gault (Woody Harrelson) and the overly long film follows their exploits in tracking down and eventually killing the celebrated murderous wild and young couple. Much of the film relies on the officers' chemistry, including a lot of dry humour, and director John Lee Hancock made the perfect choice of old pros Costner and Harrelson. (Netflix)
HOMECOMING A film by Beyonce (2hrs 17min) *** ½ The universally acclaimed documentary written, directed and executive co-produced by R&B superstar Beyonce Knowles-Carter is a spectacular concert, playing tribute to black culture, taking place for two weekends at the 2018 Coachella Valley Music and Art Festival including archival footage and home videos clips (voiced by Beyonce). The extraordinary extravaganza on pyramid rafters has a continuously moving cast of 200 black dancers, a choir, a drumline and marching band. Superbly and exquisitely choreographed, costumed, rehearsed and directed, the lengthy production is exhausting but exhilarating to watch. A brief break follows pregnant Beyonce leading to her twins' births, followed by preparation with out of shape Beyonce in a countdown to Coachella. "I studied my history, I studied my past and I put every mistake and all my triumphs from my 22-year career into my two-hour homecoming performance." Although not a fan of Beyonce's hip-hop music, I am of her accomplishments in her remarkable masterpiece. (Netflix)
NEW: JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 – PARABELLUM  (2hrs 11min) *** ½ The film's title was taken from the 4th century Roman military quote “Si vis pacem, para bellum” which means "If you want peace, prepare for war."  And so for over 2 hours the brilliantly directed and imcredibly choreographed over-the-top extended fight sequences will keep viewers on the edge of their seats as stuntman turned director Chad Stahelski reassembled the main characters from the cast of the two previous Wick neo-noir action thrillers. Chapter 2 ended with rule-abiding manager of the designated safe house for assassins Continental Hotel, Winston (Ian McShane) warnings of no blood on the hotel’s grounds or excommunicado and an open contract is automatic. There former assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) killed Italian crime lord Santino D’Antonio, and the “High Table,” a council of high level crime lords, offered globally a contract of $14 million on John’s life.  But we’re never informed as to who and what are the High Table. Winston gave John one hour before the contract came into effect, making him the target of the world’s ever expanding top lethal assassins. That’s where Chapter 3 begins, with John and his pooch desperate to get out of New York. All John’s contacts, including underworld Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), are visited by High Table’s icy cold Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon), demanding disciplinary consequences correct behaviour in seven days or severe punishment. On his escape through rival NY territories, John is attacked by numerous hit squads and, if there is a complaint, it’s that the fight sequences and gruesome painful killings are a tad long and repetitive. Each of these elaborate sequences, the innovative first martial arts fight being the best with unexpected humour, is precise and perfect, thanks to the director, choreographer, editor, stunt team and actors, especially 54 year old Reeves, working as one. John visits his one time mentor / High Table ballet director (Angelica Huston) to secure a safe passage to Casablanca, Morocco, hoping to take his appeal to the mysterious leader of the High Table, and here he sacrifices a finger “to atone for his crime.” He meets a former friend owing him a favour, assassin Sofia (Halle Berry) and her two trained assassin dogs and they are involved with another murderous attack team.  Returning to Winston at the Continental, John requests “lots and lots of guns!” Meanwhile the Adjucator sets suchi chef/contract killer Zero (Mark Dacascos) on to John for a brutal finale in Winston’s fluorescent-lit, glass-walled battleground. Awesome! From the ending it’s obvious there will be a fourth instalment. Now check out this trailer.  (Scotiabank Theatre, Fifth Avenue, Metropolis)                        
LONG SHOT (1hr 55min) ** What happens when a free spirited, unemployed, slovenly journalist meets up with his former babysitter (he was 13 and she was 16), now the powerful U.S. Secretary of State and presidential candidate, and she hires him as speechwriter when told she wasn’t funny enough. The superficial romantic comedy is reasonably funny but just not sharp, When ant-Republican newspaper journalist Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) learns The Brooklyn Advocate is being taken over by the massive Parker Wembley (Andy Serkis) conservative media conglomerate and he quits in protest. At a World Wildlife Fund party he is recognized by Charlene Field (Charlize Theron) who has just been endorsed as his potential successor by the dorky current President Chambers (Bob Odenkirk) and is looking for a specific speechwriter and she hires Flarsky. He joins her successful world tour along with campaign manager (June Diane Raphael) and bag man (Ravi Patel).promoting a comprehensive environmental treaty, and enroute she and Flarsky attend a drug filled romp in Parisian nightclubs and the stoned couple start an affair. There are jokes about drugs, sex, masturbation, flatulence, raunchy gross sight gags and profane language. (Fifth Avenue, Scotiabank Theatre)
POMS (1hr 35min) ** Martha (Diane Keaton) is driving from her New York apartment to her new residence in Georgia’s Sun Springs Senior Living Community. She has cancelled chemo and any further treatment for terminal cancer. “I’m here to die” she informs at reception overbearing Vicki (Celia Weston), going over rules and regulations. Her neighbour is feisty, friendly, potty mouthed Sheryl (Jacki Weaver) – “My only talents are poker and poking” - and. living secretly with her is teenage grandson Ben (Charlie Tahan).  Community members must join one of many clubs or start one of their own.  Martha and Sheryl decide to form a cheerleading squad for the annual senior talent contest. Then follows a succession of reasonably humorous auditions before a team is chosen and the remainder of the film follows their ups and downs to a final contest. Guess who wins in spite of awful choreography.  (Intl Village)
RED JOAN (1hr 41min) ** Inspired by a true story of Melita Norwood, a British civil servant who became a KGB intelligence source for 40 years following her 1937 recruitment. Joining the Communist party, she supplied the KGB with state secrets from her job at the British Non-Ferrous Metals Research Association. As secretary to the projects' director, she gave them files of the British Atomic Weapons project and a copy of the British atom bomb ("I want Russia to be on equal footing"). She did it to prevent further wars, since both sides then would not annihilate each other. Melita, here called Joan Stanley (Judi Dench) at 87 was arrested in London in 2000 for treason and from then on we catch glimpses of the "granny spy" as her back story unfolds. She became involved with Communists Sonya (Tereza Srbova) and fell for her cousin Leo (Tom Hughes). Joan worked with Professor Davies (Stephen Campbell Moore) on a top secret equivalent of the Manhattan Project and leaked nuclear info to the Russians. The slow plodding stodgy script drags on in an otherwise fascinating subject. (Intl Village) .
ROMA (2hrs 15min) ** Definitely not designed for mainstream audiences, it's for staunch film critics, festival and art house patrons who will rave about. Written, directed, shot and co-edited by Mexico's Alfonso Cuaron, the bleak black and white semi-autobiographical screenplay is slow, set in 1970-71 and centred on the life of a beloved live-in house keeper, expressionless Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), caring for a middle class family in the neighbourhood of Colonia Roma on the outskirts of Mexico City. The family consisted of Sofia (Marina de Tavira) and forever absent husband Dr. Antonio (Fernando Grediaga) and their four boisterous young children, It becomes obvious that Antonio has a mistress and his "business" trip are excuses. When Cleo becomes pregnant, her boyfriend deserts her. Sofia takes the family and Cleo to a friend's hacienda in Mexico City for New Year at a time when there was open hostility on the streets between landowners and workers, resulting in many deaths. Shots and scenes linger for far too long although the photography and production are sumptuous. It has won numerous Best Film Awards worldwide including Oscar's Best Foreign Lasnguage Film. (Netflix)
THE SILENCE (1hr 30min) * Just a year ago a horror film titled A Quiet Place, with the same basic theme of a world under attack by sc-fi CGI creatures which hunt by sound, became a major box office hit. A new bland and boring film is not helped by a weak, dull script. A cave research team disturbs millions of blind, squawking, large winged lizards (or vesps), which fly out of an uncharted mine, attacking viciously any noise. The government declares a state of emergency, advising people to say indoors and not to make any sound. Hugh and Kelley (Stanley Tucci, Miranda Otto) and their deaf teenage daughter Ally (Kiernan Shipka), pre-teen son Jude (Kyle Harrison Breitkopf), maternal cancer ridden grandmother Lynn (Kate Trotter) and dog Otis. head to the quieter countryside with the vesps following. This is not just a dumb movie but it is really bad. (Netflix)
TRIPLE FRONTIER (2hrs 5min) ** That's the frontier between Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil, and director/writer J.C.Chandor's concept is simple: five former Special Forces operatives plan a heist of millions in cash belonging to a drug lord, hiding in the multi-border jungle of South America, and they intend to share the loot among themselves. The first boring hour is spent with the guys reuniting. There's Tom (Ben Affleck), Santiago (Oscar Isaac), Bill (Charlie Hunnam), Ben (Garrett Hedlund) and Francisco (Pedro Pascal), unfortunately with minimal character development. As a private military advisor combating Colombia drug crime, Santiago learns cartel king-pin Lorea (Reynaldo Gallegos) doesn't trust banks and uses home as his bank. When he is at mass leaving minimal house security, the team attacks and finds $250 million within the walls which they take. The problem is in flying that huge overweight over the Andes in a helicopter and that starts the second hour with Lorea's gang waiting for them all along the way. Even then, the pacing is lethargic, although the visuals are impressive throughout. (Netflix)
TURN UP CHARLIE (Eight ½ hour shows Season 1) ** Idris Elba became a superstar with his hard-hitting BBC crime drama series Luther and for others the HBO series The Wire. He has co-created and stars in a British comedy series as struggling bachelor disc jockey Charlie Ayo, a former 90s pop star, who reluctantly becomes the nanny for 11 year old problem child Gabrielle (Frankie Hervey), precocious, annoying, spoiled daughter of famous married close friends, world-renowned deejay Sara (Piper Perabo) and movie star David (JJ Field). Turn up is a turn off. Charlie is hoping that with Sarah's help in her home recording studio he can put his music career back on track. We're hoping after this disaster Elba can put his own career back on track – he's just not funny – and return to his cool, menacing and brooding self which is what worldwide audience love about his dramatic characters. (Netflix)
THE WHITE CROW (2hrs 7min) *** Directed by actor, film producer and director Ralph Fiennes, the White Crow is the Russian term for an outsider, and that is what the greatest male ballet dancer of his generation Rudolf Nureyev (Ukranian ballet dancer Oleg Ivenko) was.  Fiennes plays mild mannered Alexander Pushkin, his renowned ballet master at the great Kirov Ballet in Leningrad, Russia. Ukranian dancer Sergei Polunin plays Yuri Soloviev, eventually Nureyev’s room and bed mate. Nureyev was born to the impoverished Tatar Muslim family on a Trans-Siberian train. Taught dancing aged 6, Nureyev had a relentless ambition to succeed through self confidence, self worth and unbridled arrogance (“Everyone will know who I am!). He became a key member of the Kirov Ballet company. Financially strapped, the Pushkins invited Nureyev to share their claustrophobic accommodation and hostess Xenia (Chulpan Khamatova) forced herself on him, proving his bisexuality. When the company was performing in Paris, he slipped away to enjoy the decadent West, followed constantly by the KGB. The climax is his decision not to return to Russia, but to defect to the west, thereby exiling himself from home and family. (Fifth Avenue) 

                                                              NEW DVDs

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday May 14
APOLLO 11. Documentary. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins, Johnny Carson, Walter Cronkite
ASHES IN THE SNOW Bel Powley, Sophie Cookson, James Cosmo, Jonah Houer-King, Martin Walstrom
COLD PURSUIT. Liam Neeson, Tom Bateman, Tom Jackson, Emmy Rossum, Julia Jones, John Doman, Laura Dern
FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY Florence Pugh, Lena Headey, Nick Frost, Vince Vaughn, Dwayne Johnson
HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U. Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Suraj Sharma, Charles Aitken
NEVER GROW OLD  John Cusack, Emile Hirsch, Deborah Francois, Danny Webb, Paul Ronan, Blake Berris
TRIPLE THREAT. Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Tiger Chen, Celina Jade, Michael Bisping, Michael Jai White, Scott Adkins

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday May 21
BIG BROTHER. Martial arts legend Donnie Yen with Joe Chen, Jack Lok, Yu Kang, Lockhart Ogilvie, Jess Liaudin
DRUNK PARENTS. Alec Baldwin, Salma Hyeck, Bridget Moynahan, Joe Manganiello, Ben Platt, Sacha Mitchell
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD. Animation. Jay Baruchel,  Cate Blanchett
ISN'T IT ROMANTIC Rebel Wilson, Liam Hemsworth, Adam Devine, Priyanka Chopra, Jennifer Saunders
THE UPSIDE  Kevin Hart, Bryan Cranston, Nicole Kidman, Julianna Margulies, Golshifteh Farahani, Aja Naomi King

NEW DVDs  ... starting Tuesday May 28
A VIGILANTE  Olivia Wilde, Morgan Spector, Olivia Catlett,Kyle Catlett, Cheryse Dillan, C J Wilson, Betsy Gillam
CLIMAX. Sofia Boutella, Romain Guillermic, Souheila Yacoub, Kiddy Smile.Taylor Kastyle, Giselle Palmer
GRETA  Isabelle Huppert, Chloe Grace Moretz, Maika Monroe, Colm Feore, Stephen Rea, Zawe Ashton
LORDS OF CHAOS Rory Culkin, Emory Cohen, Jack Kilmer, Sky Ferreira, Valter Skardgard, Anthony De :La Torre
THE POISON ROSE. John Travolta, Morgan Freeman, Famke Janssen, Peter Stormare, Brendan Fraser.

NEW DVDs ,,, starting Tuesday June 4
GLORIA BELL Julianne Moore, John Turturro, Caren Pistorious, Michael Cera, Brad Garrett, Rita Wilson
THE HAUNTING OF SHARON TATE. Hilary Duff, Jonathan Bennett, Lydia Hearst, Pawel Szadja, Ben Mellish
J T LEROY  Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern, Diane Kruger, Jim Sturgess, Courtney Love, James Jagger, Dave Brown
THE KID Ethan Hawke, Dane DeHaan, Leila George, Jake Schur, Chris Pratt, Adam Baldwin, Vincent D'Onofrio
THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE Adam Driver, Jonathan Pryce, Olga Kurylenko, Stellan Skarsgård
NEVER LOOK AWAY Tom Schilling, Sebastian Koch, Paula Beer, Saskia Rosendahl, Oliver Masucci, Hanno Koffler
TOM CLANCY'S JACK RYAN  John Krasinski, Wendell Pierce, John Hoogenakker, Abbie Cornish, Ali Suliman
TYLER PERRY'S A MADEA FAMILY FUNERAL Tyler Perry, Patrice Lovely, Cassi Davis, Cicely Tyson, Rome Flynn

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday June 11
CAPTAIN MARVEL. Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Annette Bening, Jude Law, Djimon Hounsou
CAPTIVE STATE  John Goodman, Ashton Sanders, Jonathan Majors, Vera Farmiga, Machine Gun Kelly
FIVE FEET APART  Haley Lu Richardson, Cole Sprouse, Moises Arias, Kimberly Hébert Gregory, Claire Forlani
THE MUSTANG  Matthias Schoenaerts, Jason Mitchell, Bruce Dern, Gideon Adlon, Connie Britton, Josh Stewart

NEW DVDs ... starting Tuesday June 18
THE BEACH BUM Matthew McConaughey, Snoop Dogg, Isla Fisher, Zac Efron, Martin Lawrence, Jonah Hill
CRYPTO  Luke Hemsworth, Kurt Russell, Alexis Bledel, Beau Knapp, Vincent Kartheiser, Jill Hennessey
HOTEL MUMBAI  Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Nazanin Boniadi, Anupam Kher, Jason Isaacs, Tilda Cobham-Hervey
RUN THE RACE Tanner Stine, Kristoffer Polaha, Evan Hoffer, Kelsey Reinhardt, Mario Van Peebles, Eddie George
US  Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Anna Diop, Tim Heidecker,  Evan Alex
WONDER PARK Animation. Jennifer Garner, Matthew Broderick, John Oliver, Mila Kunis, Ken Jeong