Lisa Gay Hamilton

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The world premiere of 'Life Of A King'

Malcolm Mays, Lisa Gay Hamilton and Jaida Iman Benjamin - The world premiere of 'Life Of A King' - Arrivals - Los Angeles, California, United States - Saturday 22nd June 2013

Lisa Gay Hamilton
Lisa Gay Hamilton
Lisa Gay Hamilton

Take Shelter Review

Shannon reteams with Shotgun Stories writer-director Nichols for another exploration of one man's wobbling mental state. But this time the story is much more introspective, and watching it is thoroughly unnerving.

Curtis (Shannon) lives in small-town America with his wife Samantha (Chastain) and their young daughter Hannah (Stewart). He has a good job in a quarry, which provides insurance so Hannah can get an operation to restore her hearing. But Curtis begins to suspect that his mind is slipping, rather like his schizophrenic mother (Baker). As his nightmares become increasingly horrific and vivid, he starts to become paranoid about a coming storm. And no one understands why he insists on building an underground shelter next to the house.

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Picture - Lisa Gay Hamilton Hollywood, California, Sunday 26th April 2009

Lisa Gay Hamilton Sunday 26th April 2009 Motherhood: A benefit for Maternal Fetal Care International (MFCI) held at Cafe Des Artistes Hollywood, California

Lisa Gay Hamilton
Lisa Gay Hamilton

The Soloist Review

Joe Wright's worlds-colliding drama The Soloist has so many strikes against it that it's hard to imagine coming out the other end feeling anything but relief that it was over. Think of it: a based-on-a-true-story about a cold-hearted journalist who meets a mentally disturbed homeless man who just happens to be a world-class musician. Together, the two strike up a unique friendship against the backdrop of Los Angeles's Dickensian skid row and imploding newspaper industry; a bright flower blooming from the crack in a downtown sidewalk. Also, one of the men happens to be black and the other white.

On paper, the treacle-meter for The Soloist is nearly off the charts. But while Wright (Atonement) hasn't fashioned anything like a classic, and the screenplay by Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich) is frequently thin on motivation, the film is not even close to the disaster that it should have been. This is higher praise than it may sound.

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Deception (2008) Review

According to web reports, this Hugh Jackman/Ewan McGregor thriller was originally titled The Tourist and The List before the filmmakers and/or studio finally settled on Deception. The alternates are not exactly the most eye-catching or original titles, but both would be just as appropriate for this particular film. I can't imagine what the impetus was to find something even more generic -- or if it's even possible to come up with a more bland thriller title. Betrayal, perhaps? Dark Secrets?

This is a film that starts off with some agreeable, professional trashiness before settling into routine. This is not to say that the opening, with meek, lonely accountant Jonathan (McGregor) striking up a friendship with the slick Wyatt (Jackman), is entirely smooth going. Almost immediately, the movie suffers from casting the sly, handsome McGregor as a fumbling nebbish. The guy has both acting chops and charisma; naturally, several of his Hollywood roles ask him to trade both for an American accent. Hopefully he meets up with Colin Farrell and James McAvoy to commiserate -- or maybe he swapped stories on-set with Jackman, another good-looking overseas bloke who has alternated terrific performances with bouts of blandness.

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Honeydripper Review

Somewhere right about the time that blues great Keb' Mo' shows up as a blind guitarist named Possum who loves nothing more than to pick at his instrument and dispense homespun wisdom with a wry chuckle, it becomes clear that Honeydripper is not going to be anything close to the film that it should be. For sure, it would be near impossible, and probably not even advisable, for a filmmaker to totally eschew cliché when placing a film in as weighted a setting as John Sayles has done here. A small town in Alabama named Harmony, circa 1950, with a mean white sheriff, a lot of dirt-poor black folk, a bucolic landscape of thick green forests and insect-buzzed cotton fields, and plenty of porches to watch life go by from -- the blues is in the air. It's all the characters can do not to burst into choreographed song and dance.

As usual with Sayles, there's a hard knot of a good story here. The film is named for the town's Honeydripper Lounge, a ramshackle affair that serves up a good fried chicken affair but whose old blues singer can't compete with the jukebox R&B getting blasted by the competition down the street. Danny Glover plays the owner, Pine Top Purvis, a piano player with a violent past who's in debt to everyone in town and about out of chances. His last one is a New Orleans hot shot named Guitar Sam who's got a radio hit and is booked to play the Honeydripper on Saturday; only problem is, when the train shows up, Guitar Sam is nowhere to be found, even though Purvis has plastered the town with ads. The whole thing is a scramble, with Purvis frantically (well, not frantically, maybe busily; it is the old South, after all, and things take time) working every last hustle he can to stay ahead of the creditors and the corrupt sheriff (Stacy Keach, playing it more for laid-back humor than menace) who will shut him down if he can't find somebody who looks and plays like Guitar Sam to show up on Saturday. Maybe that handsome fella who just hopped off the train and is chatting up Purvis' daughter could do the trick...

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A House Divided Review

At least it wasn't hideous... but this Beloved-esque tale of a white plantation owner (Waterston) in Lincoln-era Georgia who has a mixed-race daughter (Beals) by one of his slaves (Hamilton) is so dull it stifles what little energy there is in the story. When the big guy dies, his will -- which leaves almost everything to the daughter -- is contested. Will it stand up against bigotry? Ultimately, it's challenging material made dumb... you know, for Showtime.

Naked in New York Review

Earnest and cute, this essential '90s rom-com has Eric Stoltz going gaga over an enchanting Mary-Louise Parker, here in perhaps the least cynical role of her career. The story borders on irrelevance: They're New Yorkers who dabble in the theater, quickly hook up, then question whether they are truly meant for each other. It's all told in flashback as Stoltz drives his car en route to... where? Like I said, very cute, but some may find it cloying.

Ten Tiny Love Stories Review

A curious movie experiment, you see films like Ten Tiny Love Stories from time to time, with varying degrees of success. At its core, this is a fictional, ensemble version of The Vagina Monologues, with -- as the title suggests -- ten women speaking five-minute to 15-minute monologues directly to the camera. However, very few involve love of any kind. Instead they're almost all about sex.

The stories are all over the map. Alicia Witt tells a short piece about her first time. Kimberly Williams tells a long piece about a tryst with a Greek waiter. Most of the stories involve being spurned by the man -- whether it's a one-night stand or a long-time relationship. While they're all fictional (and I'm assuming Rodrigo García is a man), they come off as extremely real, with a good half of the actresses appearing on the verge of tears during their monologues.

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Jackie Brown Review

In many ways, this is the anti-Tarantino movie.

Jackie Brown is a potboiler, and a fairly good one at that, but those looking for slam-bang Tarantino action like that seen in Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs will be disappointed, and sorely so.

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Beloved Review

Long-awaited before its release, most viewers of Beloved have tried to forget the multi-hour ordeal of a train wreck that their beloved Toni Morrison novel became on the big screen. As befits any Oprah pet project, Beloved the movie is indulgent, egocentric to its star (Winfrey, of course), heavy-handed, and sanctimonious. The story of emancipated slave Sethe (Winfrey), her daughter Denver and the drooling, gibbering zombie named Beloved (Thandie Newton, in a role that is as embarrassing as it is horrific) is somehow simplistic and utterly nonsensical at the same time. Director Jonathan Demme is also at fault for failing to exhibit even a modicum of restraint in making this film. After 3 hours of excrutiating torture on screen (costumes and set design aside), you'll probably agree with me that the worst thing about Beloved is that it's simply too long. By about 3 hours.

Nine Lives Review

A well-cast compilation film suffocating on its own self-importance, Nine Lives aims to tie together nine vastly different stories, but ends up telling hardly any of them well. The conceit of writer/director Rodrigo Garcia is to take nine vignettes, each centered around a different woman (usually in desperate circumstances), and give us a brief glimpse into her life before cutting away to the next one, while stringing a few connecting threads between them all. To ensure that he's not playing favorites, each piece is done in one single Steadicam shot and kept to only nine or ten minutes in length. A minor character from one vignette becomes a major player later on, or vice versa. As in literature, anthology works like this are a hit-and-miss affair, and in this case the misses far outnumber the ones that connect.

Nine Lives opens strong on Sandra (Elpidia Carrillo), an imprisoned mother. Mopping up a floor, she's threatened by fellow prisoners, and harassed by a guard (Miguel Sandoval) who's convinced she can give him information. Everyone tells Sandra she's not going to make it, but you think she just might be able to, hunkering down turtle-like and just plowing through the rest of her sentence. But then her daughter visits, and the phone doesn't work, sending Sandra into a stunning explosion of rage, like a mother bear kept from her cub. It's a short, unrelentingly powerful story, and done by itself it would stand as a sublime little tragedy. The same goes for the final piece, in which Glenn Close and Dakota Fanning (hardly a better match could be imagined) visit a cemetery and talk with sublime ease about not much at all. But then comes the rest of the film in between.

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True Crime Review

How'd I miss this one on the big screen? True Crime may have that feel of typical Clint Eastwood-self-promotion, but it is ultimately a considerably gripping meditation on the press and its role in the legal system. While elements feel a bit too much like Dead Man Walking, some excellent performances by Eastwood, Leary, and Woods make this a film worth watching. The story can be tepid and predictable at times, but overall it's a credible stab at crafting a legal thriller.

Hamlet (2001) Review

When most people think of Shakespeare they cringe, thinking of melodrama, costumes, and strange vocabulary. But what happens if you pare down the stereotypical theatrical imagery of Shakespeare and simply concentrate on the characters in the story?

This new version of Hamlet, directed by Campbell Scott (The Spanish Prisoner) and Eric Simonson does just that, and beautifully so. The setting is Americanized (the post-Civil War-era South), the production design simple, and nobody is forcing an accent unknown to them. It makes you want to scrounge for the books you packed away in high school because you didn't feel like figuring them out at the time.

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Lisa Gay Hamilton

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