King In The Wilderness. With the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination quickly approaching, this new documentary from Peter Kunhardt looks back at the last 18 months of the iconic civil rights leader. It covers how King’s transition into economic justice – coupled with his disapproval of the war in Vietnam -cost his support with President Johnson, his core supporters and whites who sympathized with stance against racial bigotry. But it also shows how despite such blistering media attacks and constant death threats, King held true to his convictions and how speeches such as ‘Beyond Vietnam’ and ‘I’ve Been To The Mountaintop’ are still being studied and dissected today. With remembrances from family, friends, key allies, coupled a wealth of archival material, Kunhardt has put together a moving tribute to one of the world’s greatest citizens. King In The Wilderness premieres April 2nd at 8pm on HBO. You can also go to www.hbo.com for more information.
Paterno. Al Pacino and Barry Levinson team up once again for the explosive dramatic re-creation of the scandal that rocked the world of college athletics – and ended the career of college football’s all time winningest coach. Pacino stars as the near mythic, legendary head of the Penn State football team, whose world crashes around him when its revealed that Jerry Sandusky, one of his long time assistants and one time heir apparent, sexually abused over 50 boys over a 15 year period. The movie deals with the fallout and what Paterno and university officials knew and why it went so long before it was reported. The film also stars Kathy Baker as Paterno’s wife Sue; Larry Mitchell, Annie Parisse and Greg Grunberg as Paterno’s children Scott, Mary Kay and Jay; and Riley Keough, as Sara Ganim, the reporter – and Penn State grad – who first broke the story for the local paper, The Patriot-News. Levinson covers all perspectives from those involved in the fallout including the victims who came forward, reaction from university officials and students; and, of course, Paterno’s internal and external struggles over what he could have done to stop these horrific crimes. Anchored by another powerhouse performance by Pacino and a breakout performance by Keough, Levinson has put together a powerful work about one of the most soul-shattering stories of recent memory. Paterno premieres April 7th at 8pm Eastern on HBO. You can also go to www.hbo.com for more information.
The Last O.G. Tracy Morgan created, stars and co-executive produces this new comedy series for TBS. He plays Tray, an ex-con returning to his old Brooklyn neighborhood after serving a 15 year sentence. He’s shocked to learn that he has twin children, Amira and Shazad, and his former girlfriend Shay (Tiffany Haddish) is raising them with her white husband Josh (Ryan Gaul). Tray also is rudely reminded that the Brooklyn that he left has been radically gentrified. Nevertheless, with the help of halfway house owner Mullins (Cedric The Entertainer) and his cousin Bobby (Allen Maldonado) he’s determined to become a better man and a father with often comedic results. To have Morgan back on the screen is a welcome sight, and, with the aid of Jordan Peele (who co-wrote the pilot and is a co-executive producer), there’s plenty of opportunities to take stabs, subtle and overt, about gentrification, hipsters, race, relationships and the struggles former convicts have entering back into society. The show’s not so secret weapon is Haddish , who continues her hot streak as Shay, a married professional who still lets her ‘hood side come out when needed. Tracy Morgan is back on TV and we are all the better for it. The Last O.G. premieres April 3rd on TBS.
The China Hustle. You would think that after the 2008 financial crisis, steps would be taken to insure that it wouldn’t happen again. But in this new documentary from Jen Rothstein, it shows how there’s an ongoing financial scam that’s going on right now that could trigger an even bigger meltdown than the one from a decade ago. It traces how investors – looking for new high return investments in the global market, all but struck gold in China. But when one investor discovers a web of fraud behind these transactions, it puts everything – and everyone – within the financial sector into question. The real danger is that if this unregulated scam continues, the damage that it can wreck on the world economy could be irreparable. Rothstein talks with economic experts, watchdogs and many of the investors themselves to sound a loud alarm for the need for transparency and regulation – even as there’s a renewed push to do just the opposite. A jarring, eye opener of a documentary. The China Hustle opens in theaters, On Demand, on Amazon Video and Itunes this weekend. You can also go to www.thechinahustlefilm.com for more information.
New Wave: Dare To Be Different. How did a small suburban station in Long Island play a big part in shaping the alternative rock movement? The story of WLIR-FM, the little station that could, is the focus of this new Showtime documentary. It tells how a small group of visionary DJs, programmers and radio executives were able to gain equal footing with NYC mega-stations in the marketplace by providing an exclusive platform to New Wave and, later, alternative rock artists. The fledgling MTV used LIR’s success as a blueprint and the rest, as they say, is history. The doc also how the station had to battle the FCC and record labels to make their presence felt and later, retain its place on the New York City landscape. Featuring interviews and music by artists such as Billy Idol, The Alarm, The Cure, The Pretenders, The English Beat, Thompson Twins (among others) and with members of the now legendary WLIR staff, it’s a great look about how radio’s version of David managed to hold court and, at times, beat Goliath. New Wave: Dare To Be Different premieres this weekend on Showtime. You can also go to www.sho.com for more information.
New York City. New Directors, New Films 2018. What do Christopher Nolan, Pedro Almodovar, Laura Bitras, Spike Lee and Chantel Akerman (among many others) have in common? They all premiered and featured their first films at The Film Society Of Lincoln Center’s New Directors, New Films series. Now in its 47th year, this Film Society Of Lincoln Center series introduces New York audiences to the new wave of filmmakers worldwide ready to shake up the world of cinema. This year’s selections promises to push the envelope on issues dealing with race, class, gender, sex, religion and culture – all coming from each corner from the globe. It’s a great chance to catch the next now before they blow up later. New Directors, New Films will be at The Film Society Of Lincoln Center through April 8th. You can go to www.filmlinc.org for a complete rundown of films, tickets and additional information.
New York City. An Evening With Lois Smith. In a career spanning over 60 years, Lois Smith has remained a steady presence on stage, screen and on TV. Film Forum will honor Smith’s extraordinary body of work with an evening of conversation and movie clips. It will include her film debut opposite James Dean in East Of Eden; her roles in such films as Five Easy Pieces, Fatal Attraction, Twister, Minority Report and Dead Man Walk; right up until her recent performances in 2017’s Marjorie Prime and Lady Bird. With roles that are both acidic and tender; steely and vulnerable and everything in between, this is a well deserved look at one of Hollywood’s best character actresses. An Evening With Lois Smith will be at Film Forum on Monday, April 2nd. You can also go to www.filmforum.org for tickets and more information.
New York City. The Great Silence. Sergio Corbucci’s politically charged 1968 western – reportedly inspired by the deaths of Malcolm X and Che Guevera – was met with a chilly reception in his native Italy and never released a commercial release in the U.S. But the film did fare well in a number of other countries and thanks to a 2001 DVD release, it’s now considered one of the greatest ‘spaghetti westerns’ of all time. To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of its release, Film Forum will host the first U.S. theatrical run of the cult classic. Set in Snow Hill, Utah after the Great Blizzard of 1899, it stars Jean-Louis Trintignant as Silence, a mute gunslinger hired by a widow (Vonetta McGee) to kill Loco (Klaus Kinski), the leader of a group of bounty hunters who work for the town’s corrupt banker Henry Pollicut (Luigi Pistilli). The film was remarkably progressive for its time, introducing themes such as income inequality, interracial relationships and placing women on equal footing as men. It also features another incredible score by the one and only Ennio Morricone that ranks as one of his best. It’s no wonder that directors such as Alex Cox and Quentin Tarentino – whose visuals in The Hateful Eight draw heavily from this film – have been profoundly influenced by this film. It’s a brutal, uncompromising, masterpiece. The Great Silence will be at Film Forum through April 5th. You can also go to www.filmforum.org for tickets and more information.