Datari TurnerNoni Jean has always been an immensely talented singer and performer, winning local talent competitions at a very young age with the encouragement of her pushy mother Macy. Needless to say, she quickly becomes a world famous popstar as she hits her teens, playing to crowds of thousands every night and jetting all over the globe. As much as this may seem like any young girl's dream, Noni just wishes she could stop for a minute and also that she could escape the often degrading and frequently pressured life of stardom she leads. She reaches breaking point eventually, planning to jump to her death from a multi-storey building, but she is saved mid-jump by a caring officer named Kaz Nicol who she immediately connects with. He wants to protect her from the pressures of her chaotic life and gives her the strength to take control of her world once again.
Continue: Beyond The Lights - Alternative Trailer
The brilliance of Sayles's stories is that he places these people within a much bigger parallel -- a geographical or cultural landscape that's changing as much as its inhabitants are. In City of Hope, it was an unnamed New Jersey city with political problems. In Lone Star -- in my opinion, Sayles's true masterpiece -- it was an evolving Texas border town. In Sunshine State, it's the fictional town of Delrona Beach, a sleepy Florida locale whose land and people are in the process of being overrun by shrewd real estate developers.
Continue reading: Sunshine State Review
A modest, personable slice of South Side Chicago life, "Barbershop" is a comedy with a sense of community, populated by three-dimensional personalities that break out of their character molds.
Ice Cube stars as Calvin Palmer, the reluctant inheritor of his family's tonsorial storefront -- a neighborhood staple for 40-plus years which is now losing enough money that Calvin is secretly considering selling. A habitual get-rich-quick schemer, he thinks he'll make a better living setting up a garage-sale-supplied recording studio in his basement.
Facing a possible foreclosure after bank loans don't come through to keep the shop afloat, Calvin is beginning to think a $20,000 buyout offer from a greasy local loan shark (who wants to turn the place into a "gentlemen's club") is sounding pretty good. But over the course of one day in the shop, he finally begins to see why his father and grandfather were so willing to struggle to keep the place alive as a touchstone for their depressed part of town.
Continue reading: Barbershop Review
Another utterly captivating John Sayles ensemble piece with an incredible sense of a particular place and its personality, "Sunshine State" manifests the winds of change and uncertainty blowing mightily over a humble island township off the Florida panhandle that has been targeted for ravenous resort development.
Like "Lone Star," "Limbo" and other films from the iconic independent writer-director, this one transports you into the soul of its community through smaller pieces of the whole. Sayles paints a larger picture through the lives of individual denizens who are each struggling with a choice between the rich heritage of their fading pocket berg and the big money being offered by developers.
Some are rediscovering a spiritual connection to the town, like Angela Bassett, who plays a refugee from the island's black community, which made the place thrive in the 1940s before its culture began fading away with desegregation. She couldn't get away fast enough as a teenager -- although that might have been because she was pregnant and her parents were sending her away whether she liked it or not. She became an actress but never made it past infomercials. Now she has returned to visit her estranged mother (Mary Alice) for the first time with her handsome, affluent new husband (James McDaniel) on her arm.
Continue reading: Sunshine State Review
In 1947, Dalton (Bryan Cranston) is the film industry's top-paid screenwriter, so of course the House Un-American Activities Commission goes after...
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This lively romp is entertaining enough to amuse the audience even when it veers off the rails.