The Founder. The story of how McDonald’s went from a small Southern California operation to an international empire is the latest from director John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side). Michael Keaton stars as Ray Kroc, a struggling Illinois milkshake machine salesman who gets a call from a small burger spot called McDonald’s. He befriends the owners, Mac and Dick McDonald (John Carroll Lynch and Nick Hoffman) and convinces them to that their fast, efficient way of getting food to their customers has the potential to make a national impact. As the chain begins to gain traction, Kroc, through a series of moves, pushes the brothers out to gain control of what would become a billion dollar business. Keaton continues his career resurgence as the relentless, ruthless Kroc, putting all of his salesman skills at work to make his mark in the American Dream – even if it costs his marriage and screwing over the people who helped him in the process. Hancock, working off a great script by Robert Siegel (The Writer) captures the times and the tone of the period perfectly, finding the right balance to have the viewer make up their minds on whether Kroc was an innovator or an opportunist. With a solid supporting cast that includes Lynch, Hoffman, and Laura Dern, Hancock has crafted a biting, entertaining film about one man’s pursuit of The American Dream. The Founder opens nationwide this weekend. You can also go to www.thefounderflm.com for more information.
Through The Fire: The Legacy Of Barack Obama. As President Obama prepares to close the chapter on his Presidency, director-producer Stanley Nelson looks at the mark he leaves behind as the country’s first Black President. Narrated by Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy), it charts Obama’s challenges and triumphs throughout his time in The Oval Office. Blending archival footage and new interviews with notable voices from the political and entertainment arenas, Nelson puts together a stirring portrait of Barack Obama as a global leader, husband, father and pop culture icon. Its a warm, fitting victory lap for a Presidency that changed a nation. Through The Fire: The Legacy Of Barack Obama premieres January 19th at 7pm Eastern on BET. You can also go to www.bet.com for more information.
Antarctica: Ice And Sky. This visually arresting new documentary from director Luc Jacquet (March Of The Penguins) is a profile of French glaciologist Claude Louris, who has spent decades in the Antarctic researching and analyzing it’s ice cores. It has been largely through Louris’ work that provided the first clear evidence that the major shifts in climate change have been man made and how those shifts can endanger the planet. To view this still largely untapped part of the Earth through Louris is mind blowing, but not as much as the information that is presented here about the potential damage that global warming poses to the planet. Working as both a salute and a warning, Jacquet has put together a vital, important documentary to a climate change pioneer. Antarctica: Ice And Sky opens this weekend. You can also go to www.musicboxfilms.com for more information.
Intro by Blak Emoji. The latest project from singer-songwriter-musican Kelsey Warren is both a departure and evolution from the guitar driven sound of his previous band, Pillow Theory. Powered more by electro funk with splashes of rock and pop, Blak Emoji is slinky, sexy cool and wears its sensuality proudly on its sleeve. ‘Sapiosexual’ rocks as it champions intellect over physical attraction (‘I love your brain just as much as I love your ass’), while ‘Baby Making Heels’ i(Legs back…screaming…Daddy….heel to the wall) and ‘Honey’ are lusty grinders that recalls Dirty Mind-era Prince and Nine Inch Nails. ‘Poison To Medicine’ closes out the EP and its meditative, uplifting song as the nation heads into uncharted waters. It begs to be an across the board hit. It’s a bold and exciting new chapter for an undeniable talent. The first great record of 2017. Intro by Blak Emoji will be available on Friday through Amazon, Itunes and all major music retailers.
Lonely Boy: Tales Of A Sex Pistol by Steve Jones. As the co-founder of The Sex Pistols, Steve Jones helped spark a musical revolution that put the edge back in rock n roll. In this stirring new memoir, Jones recalls a childhood that was marred by abuse and neglect and how the music of David Bowie and Roxy Music all but saved him from a life of petty crime. We also get an insider’s view of how the London punk scene took shape with Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood leading the charge that would shake up England and the world. Jones also gives first hand accounts of life as a Sex Pistols as they record their landmark album Never Mind The Bollocks, their infamous appearances on Bill Grundy’s Today program and how the tour of the U.S. led to their breakup. Jones also pulls no punches on his post-Pistol years, which were marred by drug, alcohol and sex addiction before finally cleaning up to make successful forays into acting and radio. Told with his unapologetic candor and wit, Jones has put together a solid memoir that gives you an unique and powerful look into the mind of a musician that forever changed the game. Lonely Boy: Tales Of A Sex Pistol is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all major book retailers.
New York City: Restaurant Week. New York City has always been known for its fantastic and diverse restaurants and for the next three weeks, New Yorkers and visitors alike will get a chance to sample them all without wrecking your bank account. Diners will have a chance to attend over 350 participating eateries for three-course meals for lunch and dinner for just $29 and $42 respectively. Whether you are trying to impress that special someone or need a high end, but price friendly spot for that power meeting, here’s your chance to let your palette run amok. Restaurant Week runs from January 23rd through February 10th.
New York City: Leonard Cohen: Bird On A Wire. The remembrances of the life and career of the late Leonard Cohen with the screening of the never before released film by Tony Palmer. Shot during his 1972 European tour, it captures Cohen singing such classic as ‘Suzanne’, ‘Chelsea Hotel’, ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’, ‘So Long, Marianne’ among many others. It also shows Cohen dealing with the press, down time with his band, and his reluctance and assessments of life as a touring musician. How this film has remained on the shelf is a mystery: It’s a moving, reflective, funny and unfiltered look at an artist at a creative peak. Leonard Cohen: Bird On A Wire will be at Film Forum through January 31st. You can go to www.filmforum.org for more information.
Los Angeles: Riot LA Comedy Festival. What started out in parking lots and bars has now evolved into one of the premier alt-comedy festivals in the county. Spread out over four days and four venues (The Microsoft Theater, The Novo, The Orpheum Theater and The Theatre @ The Ace Hotel), Riot LA will showcase the best and brightest in edgy, left field comedy. Bob Saget, Bobcat Goldthwait, Nikki Glasper and Whitney Cummings are just some of the great comedians scheduled to appear through out the festival. The centerpiece of Riot LA will be a special screening of Blazing Saddles, followed by a Q&A and conversation with the one and only Mel Brooks. It’s the place to be if you are looking to hang out and laugh this weekend. The Riot LA Comedy Festival runs through January 22nd. You can go to www.riotla.com for tickets, a complete schedule and more information.