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T.A. Moreland

T.A. Moreland

Apollo 11 is a trip you should take | MOVIE REVIEW

Apollo 11 is a documentary focusing on the historic 1969 Apollo 11 mission, to the moon. The film consists solely of archival footage that was previously unreleased to the public and does not feature narration or interviews. The stars are the three astronauts who made the voyage: Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. aka Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins.

Apollo 11 is educational and mildly entertaining. There’s no mystery as to how this adventure is going to turn out. It’s truly amazing as to how many components of this project, years in the making, had to come together for this mission to succeed. It’s also intriguing to listen to conversations between the astronauts in outer space and control stations in Houston. In addition to the serious informational exchanges, there was light-hearted banter.

The film also captures a time when more people smoked, men, wore shirts and ties and women, dresses, even in casual settings.

There will be some viewers who will bask in the imagery of a large number of technicians, scientist, mathematicians and laborers who worked on this project: hundreds of white men, approximately 20 black men and a handful of Asians. No women. Yep, to some, those were the good ole days!

But we also know from the 2016 film, Hidden Figures, that women played an important role in America’s space program.

Apollo 11 is a CNN film and is a See It! It’s Rated G and is 93 minutes.

10 Films To Be On The Lookout For In 2019 | What’s The 411 - New Movies

Jordan Peele is back with another thriller, and you get at least two opportunities to see Taraji P. Henson and Michael Ealy in movies in 2019

 

1. What Men Want

What Men Want is a twist on Mel Gibson’s 2001 movie, What Women Want, and is the story of a female sports agent (Taraji P. Henson) who has been constantly edged out by her male colleagues. Once she learns to listen to men’s thoughts, she shifts her strategy in her race to sign the NBA’s next LeBron James. Among the costars is Richard Roundtree who back in the 70s played John Shaft who was a bad mother. . . shut your mouth! Just remembering Shaft!

What Men Want is expected to open on February 8, 2019. 

2. The Upside

Inspired by a true story and based upon a hit 2011 French film, The Upside stars Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston in a warm comedy about a recently paroled ex-convict who begins an unlikely friendship with a paralyzed billionaire. Bet you can guess who plays the ex-con and who’s the billionaire. The Upside opens on January 11, 2019. 

3. Us 

After his provocative 2017 megahit Get Out there was no doubt that Jordan Peele would be back writing and directing, but he's holding the storyline for Us close to the vest. Nevertheless, we do know, it will be a thriller and it stars Lupita Nyong’o, Elisabeth Moss, and Black Panther’s Winston Duke. Us is scheduled to be released in the United States on March 22, 2019, but if you’re going to South by Southwest, you might be able to catch the World Premiere of Us on March 8, 2019. 

4. Pet Sematary

This a remake of the 1989 film based upon Stephen King’s seminal horror novel, Pet Sematary. This version is set in rural Maine where Dr. Louis Creed, his wife, Rachel, and their two young children find a mysterious graveyard hidden deep in the woods near the family home. When tragedy hits the family, the doctor turns to his eccentric neighbor, Jud Crandall for advice, setting off a horrific series of events that the doctor could have never imagined. Pet Sematary opens on April 5, 2019, and stars, Jason Clark and Jon Lithgow

5. Jacob’s Ladder

After his brother dies in combat, Jacob Singer, played by the blue-eyed brother, Michael Ealy, returns home from battle-worn Afghanistan only to fall into a deep state of paranoia as he comes to believe that his brother is still alive, and life is not what it seems. Jacob’s Ladder, a remake of the 1990 film of the same name, doesn’t have a release date as of yet. However, the film’s distributor, LD Entertainment, says Jacob’s Ladder is expected to open in 2019.

6. Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral

A fun-filled family reunion becomes a disaster as Madea and her kin travel to backwoods Georgia, where they plan a funeral that could unearth some deep dark family secrets. Of course, Tyler Perry heads the cast in Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral, along with Courtney Burrell, Patrice Lovely, and Ciera Payton. Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral opens on March 1, 2019.

7. The Best of Enemies

Inspired by the true events during the civil rights era, The Best of Enemies stars Taraji P. Henson as Ann Atwater, a fiercely determined civil rights activist in North Carolina, and Sam Rockwell as the Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan. The two conduct a 10-year battle, which ends in an abrupt and unlikely way in 1971. The Best of Enemies is based on the book, The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South by Osha Gray Davidson opens on April 5, 2019. 

8. The Intruder

Michael Ealy (yes, him again) and Meaghan Good star in The Intruder, a psychological thriller about a young married couple who buys a beautiful Napa Valley home only to find that the previous owner (Dennis Quaid) simply won’t let the property go and will stop at nothing to drive them out. The Intruder opens on May 3, 2019. 

9. Fighting With My Family

Fighting With My Family is based on the 2012 documentary, The Wrestlers: Fighting With My Family, depicting the WWE career of the professional wrestler, Paige. The movie stars Florence Pugh as Paige, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson makes an appearance. Fighting With My Family opens at Sundance on January 28, 2019, and nationwide on February 14, 2019.

10. Aladdin

The musical romantic fantasy Aladdin returns. Having been released in an animated version in 2017, this edition features real living and breathing humans. Aladdin stars Mena Massoud as the title character alongside Will Smith as the Genie.

Widows is a Film to Both Mourn and Celebrate [MOVIE REVIEW]

They knew their husbands were involved in the unsavory and illegal activity of thievery. And when their spouses were killed pulling off a major heist, they also knew that day might come. But what they didn’t expect was to be threatened with death, if they didn’t repay money stolen by their now deceased partners. Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki play the widows who have to delve into a world they know very little about to save their own lives.

The movie, Widows, boasts an exceptional cast and compelling story but is badly tainted by a virtual smorgasbord of negative stereotypes of the African American community.

While any plot involving criminals displays seedy characters; in Widows, this seediness if mainly painted black. There’s the dishonest, self-serving black pastor; thugs parading as legitimate politicians; a ruthless, very dark-skinned enforcer/killer; and African Americans, are referred to as people who kill each other and who can’t stop making babies.

And of the black women characters, one gets made a fool of romantically, and the other is a masculine, athletic man-woman.

As is often the case with these types of troubling portrayals, this script is the product of a black man, Steve McQueen, who co-wrote and directed the film.

Viola Davis is absolutely amazing. A powerful screen presence, coupled with an uncommon ability to display a full range of emotions, each with authenticity and credibility. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of roles for 40ish African American women and they often have to take what is offered to them.

Widows gets a cast diversity rating of “A-”. Set in Chicago, it contains actors of color but not as many Hispanics and Asians as should be, for the highly diverse Windy City.

At two hours and 10 minutes, this movie goes on way too long. As I have said in the past, few films tell a story that takes more than 90 to 100 minutes to tell. It’s rated “R” for violence and language.

The verdict is: See Widows. Despite my criticisms, if this film succeeds we’ll see more of Viola on the screen. And that would be a very good thing!

Green Book Gets the Green Light! [MOVIE REVIEW]

It’s the 1960s and Don Shirley, originally from Jamaica, a renowned classical pianist, is the darling of the east coast wealthy elite. While he’s not the outspoken civil right advocate type, he believes that displaying his talents in the segregated south might help to change the rigidly racist views held in that part of the country. So Shirley (Mahershala Ali), or Dr. Shirley, as he was referred to because of his Ph.D., and his record company hired-bouncer, Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) to serve as his driver/bodyguard during the trip south. The odd couple has very little in common. Shirley is highly educated, cultured and lives alone in his Manhattan penthouse. Vallelonga is a family man, not formally educated and steeped in the customs of the Bronx Italian American community where he lives.

Green Book is everything a film should be. It’s amusing, entertaining and educational. The film’s title refers to the real publication, The Negro Motorist Green Book, which guided black travelers as to what hotels and facilities they could stay in, eat at and/or have their vehicles serviced while traveling through segregated states.

The two characters exchanged views and disagreed on about everything from food to music, to driving habits, and even on writing letters. There’s a validity to positions taken by both of them. And Dr. Shirley’s lack of familiarity with black performers such as Chubby Checker and Aretha Franklin shocks Vallelonga.

The fact that the screenplay’s co-written by Nick Vallelonga, and the director, Peter Farrelly results in Vallelonga’s character being a bit more credible and consistent. Dr. Shirley’s character is written where he knows well the rules of the Jim Crow south and seems to accept them but without any explanation tries to reject them. Like when he suddenly insists on eating in the formal dining room at a club where he played. This had not been an issue before or thereafter. So why in that scene?

However, in a very subtle and effective way, the screenwriters capture the doctor’s loneliness as a well-educated and refined single black man who would never be accepted as a part of a community of people he performed for; and did not have much in common with most black Americans at that time.

Based upon a true story set in the early 1960s, the film’s dialogue has some current day phrases like traveling while black. And the often heard rhetorical question about strange behavior: Who does that?

Part of the Green Book’s success is due to the excellent performances of the two lead characters. There has been Oscar buzz about both Ali and Mortensen. The selection of the darker Ali to play lighter hued, Dr. Shirley, raises an issue that black journalists have discussed before: why are famous black people played by actors who look nothing them, i.e. the fair skinned, light eyed, Terrence Howard playing the South African leader, Nelson Mandela. While how much a performer looks like the famed white person he or she will play, is always a factor.

The characters reflect not only the rich diversity of cultures in New York City but how very different communities reside in close proximity. Vallelonga’s folksy Bronx neighborhood was very likely no more than a mile or two from Dr. Shirley’s wealthy Manhattan enclave.

The cast of the film is diverse. However, it’s difficult to grade the diversity of the cast of a true movie. It has to be assumed that the scenes accurately reflect the races of the people at the time the events occurred.

Ultimately, Green Book is more than a movie; it’s an experience. It gets a See It! rating. It’s rated PG-13 for language, smoking, violence, and some suggestive material. Green Book is 130 minutes in length.

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