Bleed For This. The story of one of the most improbable comebacks in boxing – if not sports – history comes to screens this weekend. Miles Teller plays Vinny Paz, a gutsy, scrappy boxer from Rhode Island who won titles in the lightweight and middleweight divisions. At the height of his success, he was involved in a devastating car accident that left him with a broken neck. Defying odds that he would never walk, much less fight again, Paz, with a huge assist from his trainer Kevin Rooney (Aaron Eckhart) returns to the ring 13 months later to resume his championship-laced career. Teller is in fine form as the enigmatic Paz, packing on muscle and looking very convincing in his fight scenes. He’s building up a strong body of work in his young career. His performance is strongly supported by Eckhart, Katey Sagal and Ted Levine. Writer-director Ben Younger (Boiler Room, Prime) continues to build an impressive resume, finding the right balance between Paz’s life in and out of the ring and showing just what Paz had to put his body through to get back to fighting form. A solid sports bio pic. Bleed For This opens this weekend.
Manchester by the Sea. Major buzz surrounding this new film from writer-director Kenneth Lonergan (Gangs Of New York, Analyze This, You Can Count On Me) and for good reason: It’s one of the year’s best. Casey Affleck stars as Lee, quietly living his life as a janitor in Boston. When he receives news that his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) has suddenly died, Lee reluctantly returns to his hometown of Manchester-by-the-Sea, a fishing village where his family has lived for several generations. Lee’s also shocked to learn that he’s been named the sole guardian of his teenage nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges). All of this forces Lee to deal with the events that led him to leave – including confronting his estranged wife Randi (Michelle Williams). There’s a lot to love about this film: Lonergan’s script, his sweeping direction and knockout performances by Affleck, Williams and newcomer Hedges. All are all but guaranteed to be making the rounds during the awards season. One of the year’s best. Manchester by the Sea opens in limited release this weekend. You can also go to http://www.manchesterbytheseathemovie.com/ for more information.
Daughters of the Dust. Writer-director Julie Dash’s sweeping take of a multi-generational family’s struggle to maintain the cultural heritage in the Gullah community on the Sea Islands off of South Carolina was released to universal critical acclaim and received a strong reception from audiences when it was released in 1991. Dash also made history by becoming the first Black woman to direct a feature film that was distributed theatrically in the United States. Beyonce helped spark a renewed interest in the film after basing many of its themes for her latest album, Lemonade. Now to coincide with the film’s 25th Anniversary, Daughters of the Dust will return to theaters with a brand new 2K restoration. Overseen by original cinematographer Arthur Jafa, the film is an explosion of color, sound and wonder, bringing Dash’s vision to screens exactly how she intended it. A welcomed return to a cinematic landmark. Daughters of the Dust will open in select theaters this weekend. You can also go to http://www.cohenmedia.net/ for more information.
We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service by A Tribe Called Quest. The group’s 6th – and final album – serves as a summation, coda and a progression. Inspired by the strong reception they received promoting the 25th Anniversary of their debut, ATCQ secretly returned to the studio to record their first new album in 18 years. The project was thrown into doubt after key member Malik ‘Phife Dawg’ Taylor passed away after a long bout with diabetes. But the remaining core of the group – Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Jarobi White – along with de facto members Busta Rhymes and Consequence, rallied to push the effort across the finish line. They also got big assists from famous friends and fans – Kendrick Lamar, Kayne West, Andre 3000, Jack White, Talib Kweli, Anderson .Paak, Abbey Smith, Marsha Ambrosius, Katia Cadet and Sir Elton John – to augment various tracks. Chuck D once said that hip hop is the ‘Black CNN’ and this album, while it was done before the election cycle concluded, is the soundtrack to these uncertain, unsteady times. Q-Tip oversaw all of the production elements and masterfully balances many of the ATCQ hallmarks with sounds that are firmly rooted in the now. Can hip hop age gracefully? One listen to this removes all doubt. Easily one of the year’s best. We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service is available now through Amazon, iTunes and all available music retailers.
Testimony: A Memoir by Robbie Robertson. Anyone who has seen The Last Waltz or followed the career of Robbie Robertson knows that he is the consummate storyteller. Now with Testimony, the co-founder, singer-songwriter, guitarist for The Band, finally gets to tell these great stories in full. Robbie Robertson finally culls all of these extraordinary tales in this expansive new memoir. He recalls everything from his musical upbringing between Toronto and the Sixth Nation reservation; how discovering rock n roll – particularly a trip to the Mississippi Delta – became a life altering event; being recruited by early rocker Ronnie Hawkins as a teenager where he teamed up with future members of The Band; surreal, humorous encounters with various members of the Mob; the madness of being part of Dylan’s first electric tour; retreating to Woodstock; and the creative forces that made The Band one of the most respected and beloved groups of all time. Robertson goes into how the sudden success led to off stage excesses and what ultimately led The Band to call it quits. Robertson’s story would not be complete without discussing at length what many consider one of the greatest concerts and concert films ever, The Last Waltz. Whether he’s discussing his relationships within The Band or his various encounters with some of rock’s biggest movers and shakers, Robertson tells it all with warmth, grace, humor and remarkable insight. This is a must read for any fan of The Band and for anyone interested in music as a whole. Testimony: A Memoir is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all major book retailers.
New York City: 3D Auteurs. Thanks to the success of superhero/action films, the 3D format is enjoying a healthy revival. Film Forum is celebrating its return with an extended retrospective of work that made the best use of the medium. Classic films such as Dial M For Murder, Inferno and The Stranger Wore A Gun will be shown alongside recent features such as Gravity, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Prometheus, among many others. This is old school movie viewing at its best. The 3D Auteurs series will run at Film Forum through November 29th. You can go to http://www.filmforum.org/ for a complete rundown of films, times and more info.
Los Angeles: The Great Los Angeles Walk. Now in its 11th year, The Great Los Angeles Walk encourages everyone to keep the car parked for one Saturday and explore the City Of Angels on foot. The 14.5 walk starts at Grand Hope Park and end up, of course, with a beach party in Santa Monica. Along with the way, you will see many of the great landmarks and neighborhoods that have made this one of the best spots in the country. With perfect weather and an array of sights and sounds, this is an epic day out right before the holiday season kicks in. The Great Los Angeles Walk will take place on Saturday, November 19th starting at 9am. You can also go to http://www.greatlawalk.blogspot.com/ for more info.