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Lea Black hosts a launch party for her new book 'Red Carpets and White Lies'

Jim Brown - 'The Real Housewives of Miami' star Lea Black hosts a launch party for her new book 'Red Carpets and White Lies' at Pump in West Hollywood at Pump Restaurant - Los Angeles, California, United States - Thursday 4th June 2015

Jim Brown
Jim Brown

Celebrities arrive at Craig's restaurant

Jim Brown - Celebrities arrive at Craig's restaurant in West Hollywood - Los Angeles, California, United States - Tuesday 10th March 2015

Jim Brown
Jim Brown

I Am Ali Review


Good

Packed with never-released material, this documentary tells the life story of Muhammad Ali from angles we haven't seen before, even as it has a tendency to drift into hero worship. But filmmaker Clare Lewins assembles the material with style and personality, mixing home movies and previously unheard recordings with firsthand interviews with the people who know Ali best. Oddly, many of them speak in the past tense, which makes the film feel like a eulogy for a man who's still alive.

Watch any clip of Ali and it's clear that this man is a force of nature. In his heyday, his charisma was legendary, infusing new life into the boxing world when he emerged as Cassius Clay and was banned from boxing for refusing to participate in the Viet Nam draft. A lifelong activist, Ali has never compromised his principles, being true to himself while sticking up for those around him. He also broke rules by talking directly to the world through the media's cameras, chanting at and dancing around his competitors. But the film's most intriguing aspect is its depiction of him as a doting father who has always had time for his kids. At 72, he lives in Arizona with his wife, and is seriously ill with Parkinson's.

Everyone on-screen has been caught up in Ali's magic, with one noting that looking into his eyes is like seeing God. These kind of comments are a bit too intent on creating a legend while skipping over some of the grittier details of his life. Yes, Lewins seems to get caught up in the mythology as well. The film only briefly touches on his four marriages and children from extra-marital affairs, but it does spend some time exploring his more shocking public comments. Although even these are recalled through the prism of time, offering explanations and even redemption.

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I Am Ali Trailer


'I Am Ali' is a documentary about the life of the boxing champion Muhammad Ali, as much as it is also a documentary about the people who were inspired and motivated by his image, or through meeting him. The documentary is told, in part, through never before heard audio journals from the boxing legend and human rights activist. Through his huge heavy weight career, as well as his racial justice and religious freedom avocation, Ali became a hero to many people. The film is set to be the third documentary about Ali, although with this new, more personal insight into the man behind the gloves, to could yet prove to be the greatest. 

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14th Annual Harold & Carole Pump Foundation Gala

Jim Brown - 14th Annual Harold & Carole Pump Foundation Gala raising money for the treatment and cure of cancer - Arrivals at Hyatt Regency Century Plaza - Los Angeles, California, United States - Friday 8th August 2014

Jim Brown
Jim Brown
Jim Brown
Jim Brown

2014 ESPYS Awards - Arrivals

Jim Brown - 2014 ESPYS Awards - Arrivals - Los Angeles, California, United States - Wednesday 16th July 2014

Jim Brown

Celebrities out and about in Los Angeles

Jim Brown - Celebrities out and about in Los Angeles - Los Angeles, California, United States - Thursday 21st February 2013

Radiant City Review


Good
Jim Brown and Gary Burns skewer suburbia in Radiant City, laying out in black and white all of its flaws: Cold, impersonal, isolated, environmentally catastrophic, a promoter of terrible personal fitness and health habits. And when all the residents get old, an enormous dead zone that really can't be used for anything else. Suburban decay.

In this, er, documentary, residents of a Canadian 'burb are juxtaposed with academic talking heads, riding empty buses into town and bemoaning the very existence of the suburbs, decrying everything from their architecture to their absurd design that puts park benches opposite the freeway and a chain-link fence.

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The Dirty Dozen Review


Good
Can The Dirty Dozen really be 40 years old? Well, almost. This watershed film paved the ways for bad-guys-as-heroes flicks ranging from The Wild Bunch to Reservoir Dogs, and its influence is still felt today. Yet how can The Dirty Dozen feel so tired when viewed in this millennium? Maybe its a cast that, though exquisite, is a bit much. The Dirty Dozen also appears to have paved the way for the Airport movies, studded with megastars and short on plot. Viewed today, too much of Dozen is schlocky and trite, reliant on stereotypes that border on Hogan's Heroes-level characterizations to tell the WWII-era story. (Writ large: 12 career criminals are given a last chance to pull off a major anti-Nazi mission.) The film is pioneering, daring, and very well made. But there's a bit much to go around, and now you can see the actors jockeying for notice among each other. Still a good film, though its impact is now starting to fade.

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Any Given Sunday Review


Good
Football is as engrained in our society's mores as deeply as war, family values, and politics -- at least that's what Oliver Stone would like you to believe. To back up this statement, Any Given Sunday analyzes the effects of a culture that elevates professional athletes and coaches to a plateau where they are immortalized as heroes of the common man. Stone's football fairytale is a culmination of every anecdote, highlight, or soundbite you've ever seen associated with the pigskin, wrapped up in an aesthetically pleasing Christmas package, and sealed with a kiss from team owner Cameron Diaz. Stone aims to please, and he doesn't miss a single cliché of the revered and scrutinized American athlete.

At its core, Any Given Sunday is the story of Miami Sharks coach Tony D'Amato (Al Pacino - The Godfather, Dog Day Afternoon) and his two quarterbacks, Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx - The Great White Hype, Booty Call) and Cap Rooney (Dennis Quaid - The Big Easy, Innerspace). The quarterback is the most vital position in the game. He is the team spokesperson and field chief, and he serves as a crucial link between coaches, administration, and players. When legendary two-time Pantheon Cup (aka: Super Bowl) champion Cap Bowman ruptures a disk after a bone crushing hit, coach Tony is left with Willie Beamen (Foxx), an athletic, yet untested QB. His team has lost four straight and appears to be plummeting in a downward spiral with the playoffs right around the corner. He's got delusional team owner Christina Pagniacci (Cameron Diaz) and sports analyst Jack Rose (John McGinley, doing his best Jim Rome impersonation) breathing down his neck because of his outdated coaching style, and a team of players he's losing control of.

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She Hate Me Review


Grim
She Hate Me borrows its title from "He Hate Me," a.k.a. Rod Smart of the XFL (the now-defunct WWE-sponsored extreme football league), but just as this pointless non-sequitur of a title has nothing to do with the film it adorns, Spike Lee's latest tosses together largely unrelated social commentary, broad humor, and nonsensical racial and sexual stereotypes in a vain attempt to critique modern-day romance and big business. Beginning with close-ups of billowing U.S. currency which culminate in the image of a George W. Bush-decorated three-dollar bill, and ending with a goofy "go forth and procreate, young man" rallying cry for its whorish African-American protagonist, the film is structured like a series of punch lines aimed squarely at what Lee sees as America's racist, corrupt white power structure. Too bad its story - about courageous whistle-blowing, lesbian procreation, and a black man's need to stand up, take responsibility for his actions, and do the right thing - doesn't do almost anything right.

Lee's initial target for censure is the crooked corporate culture that fosters brazenly greedy and duplicitous companies such as Enron and Worldcom. Jack Armstrong (Anthony Mackie) is a vice president at a pharmaceutical company whose new HIV cure has been rejected by the FDA. When he discovers a conspiracy orchestrated by the corporation's arrogant, racist CEO (Woody Harrelson) and his ruthless Martha Stewart-ish boss (Ellen Barkin) to cook the books and keep employees and shareholders in the dark about the new drug's ineffectiveness, Jack rats out his superiors to the SEC, and the price for betraying "the family" is immediate dismissal. As luck would have it, though, a new money-making venture falls directly into his, ahem, lap - his ex-fiancé Fatima (Kerry Washington), who left him for another woman, now wants to pay him $10,000 to impregnate her and her Dominican girlfriend. Before long, Armstrong - in some sort of filthier version of the Patrick Dempsey '80s cult classic Loverboy - is occupying his time spreading his seed through NYC's upper-crust lesbian community (which includes Monica Bellucci as a Mafioso don's daughter) for wads of cash.

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The Running Man Review


Good
Game/reality shows have already entered the realm of the grotesque with people eating cow stomachs on Fear Factor, getting verbally castrated by Simon Cowell and company on American Idol, and tolerating Donald Trump's presence on The Apprentice. Seeing people actually hunted down by killers seems like the next logical step. And we have a movie for a template!

That movie is The Running Man, the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger action vehicle that resembles a lot of the Governator's best work: He kills people by the dozens, says some funny puns in that fist-thick Austrian accent and tags along with a hot exotic beauty. If that formula works for you, read on.

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Mars Attacks! Review


Grim
We've already had three movies based on TV shows this year, plus a film based on a TV commercial, but I think it's a really bad omen when a film is based on a series of trading cards.

The film is Mars Attacks!, and with it Tim Burton serves up the worst production of his once-blossoming career, a movie wherein he indulges every excess of his demented psyche, pays no attention to entertaining the audience, and recycles every joke he can get his hands on.

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Fingers Review


Good
Rarely has a crime/gangster movie been produced with such a sense of calmness. Fingers, a cult classic, is a real showpiece for Harvey Keitel, who plays the title of Jimmy Fingers, a low-level gangster working for his father as a bag man but dreaming of becoming -- of all things -- a concert pianist.

Jimmy divides his day among busting caps, piano practice, and auditions for Carnegie Hall. The comparison to Taxi Driver is obvious, but these are far different films (and that said, Taxi Driver is a far better one, too).

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Any Given Sunday Review


OK

There's only about 22 minutes of plot in "Any Given Sunday," Oliver Stone's innovative, bone-crunching ballet of sound and fury football, so lets get that out of the way right now:

Al Pacino stars as the embattled, old-school coach of a fictitious pro football team. Cameron Diaz, is the willful, profit-zealous daughter of the franchise's recently deceased owner. Jamie Foxx is a hotshot young quarterback whose know-it-all attitude and colossal ego threaten team unity. He's just replaced the injured, aging, Elway-esque veteran QB Dennis Quaid, whose compound back injury has spelled curtains for his career -- if only his ruthlessly ambitious, harpy of a wife (Lauren Holly) would accept that fact.

During the last two minutes of the fourth quarter of the Big Playoff Game that serves as the film's climax, each of these characters (especially the selfish ones) will have an epiphany about what's really important in their lives.

Continue reading: Any Given Sunday Review

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