Loving. The latest from writer-director Jeff Nicholas takes a look at a landmark case in the American Civil Rights Movement. Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga play Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple living in Virginia, whose marriage resulted in both of them being arrested. In 1958, their marriage was not only a social taboo, it was also illegal. The Lovings are given a choice: Go to jail or leave the state. They re-located to Washington, D.C., where they attempt to rebuild their lives away from their respective families. Spurred on by the growing American Civil Rights Movement, Mildred writes a letter to then Attorney General Robert Kennedy and soon ACLU lawyer Bernard S. Cohen (Nick Kroll) would take on the case to the Supreme Court and strike a significant blow against racial discrimination. While the story has an important social significance, Nicholas places emphasis on the relationship between Richard and Mildred and how their exile affected them in subtle ways as much as it did overtly. It’s a love story through and through and Edgerton and Negga bring grace, elegance, warmth and defiance to the roles. A beautiful crafted and affecting film that should make all of the rounds during awards season. Loving opens in New York and L.A. this weekend. You can also go to http://www.focusfeatures.com/ for more information.
Hacksaw Ridge. Mel Gibson is best known for his action films and historical epics, but for his first film in over a decade, he looks back at a man who refused to carry a gun during World War II. Andrew Garfield plays Desmond Doss, an Army medic who, for spiritual and personal reasons, believes that killing is wrong. His pacifism doesn’t go over well with Army brass and his fellow infantrymen and is branded a coward. But during the bloodiest battle of the war, an unarmed, wounded Doss saved the lives of 75 men becoming the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Congressional Medal Of Honor. Garfield has his best role to date as Doss, with Teresa Palmer (as Doss’ love interest Dorothy), and Hugo Weaving as Doss’ alcoholic, WWI-scarred father offering solid support. Whatever personal grievances one may have with Gibson off screen, there’s one thing that everyone can agree on: He’s an outstanding filmmaker. The battle sequences showing without a filter the harsh and unyielding consequences of war. But at the core of the film are the themes of faith, family and love in the most extreme of circumstances. Gibson once again asserts himself as a one of the best directors working today. Hacksaw Ridge opens this weekend. can also go to www.hacksawridge.movie for more information.
Dog Eat Dog. Legendary writer-director Paul Schrader goes all in on this big screen adaptation of the Edward Bunker novel. Nicholas Cage stars as Troy, fresh out of prison and looking for new opportunities. When Troy is giving a lucrative offer to kidnap a baby, he brings aboard fellow ex-cons Mad Dog (Willem Dafoe) and Diesel (Christopher Matthew Cook) to help carry the plan out. Of course, the plan goes horribly wrong and the crew finds itself on the run from the mob and the cops. Schrader, who is reinventing himself with every film, takes some liberties with the novel to introduce themes that echo in many ways with The Wild Bunch: Violent men out of place and out of step with the times, trying to pull of the one last score that will set them up for what’s left of their lives. The chemistry between the actors is fantastic – especially Cage as the leader trying to hold it all together and Dafoe as the aptly named Mad Dog. Loaded with action and dark humor, this is a late inning winner from one of the legends of classic 70s cinema. Dog Eat Dog opens this weekend.
My Life with Earth, Wind & Fire by Maurice White with Herb Powell. The long awaited memoir by the founder and leader of Earth, Wind & Fire was going to print when White succumbed to the effects of Parkinson’s disease in February. It’s a virtual walk through of American Soul Music: It covers his Memphis upbringing, the eventual move to Chicago where he found work as a session drummer for Chess Records; moving into the jazz world with his work with Ramsey Lewis; and, of course, the circumstances behind the formation of one of the most successful groups of all time, Earth, Wind & Fire. White also recalls his outside collaborations with Barbara Streisand, Neil Diamond, Ramsey Lewis, Deniece Willams, The Emotions, Minnie Ripperton, and much more. Whether in the blues and jazz clubs in Chicago or some of the top arenas and stadiums worldwide, or even his battles with Parkinson’s, White puts you front and center with stories that are told with warmth, depth, full perspective and, of course, humor. In addition to some of the funkiest, most uplifting music ever made, Maurice White has also left behind a memoir that does the same. A must read for any music fan. My Life With Earth, Wind & Fire is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all major book retailers.
Robin Williams: A Singular Portrait 1986-2002 by Arthur Grace. Photographer Arthur Grace first met Robin Williams while he was preparing material for his award winning special, Evening At The Met. The two became instant friends and over the next 16 years, the two would collaborate on a series of photos designed to promote their various projects. The best of these collaborations are now the subject of this stunning and insightful new work. It captures all sides of the late comic: Funny and manic, introspective, reflective and at times, probing and searching for footing. It also shows him with his family, friends, at award shows, functions both public and private and having fun with everything from inanimate objects to animals. Whether in black in white or full color, Grace provides a unique, three-dimensional look at a comedic giant. Robin Williams: A Singular Portrait is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all major music retailers.
New York City: New York Comedy Festival. Some of the biggest names in comedy take over New York as The New York Comedy Festival comes through for the sixth straight year. In addition to the slew of podcast tapings, and showcases in some of the top clubs in the city, and special screenings, the weekend will be loaded with shows at some of NYC’s legendary venues. They will include Bill Maher at The Theater at Madison Square Garden; Dane Cook, Patton Oswalt, and Trevor Noah doing separate sets at The Beacon Theatre; Tracy Morgan and Marc Maron at Carnegie Hall; the cast of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt in conversation at the 92nd St Y; Hari Kondablu @ NYU Skirball; Fred Armisen at Town Hall; and Hannibal Buress at The Apollo. Given the current political and cultural climate, expect the jokes and observations to be more pointed, acidic and biting as ever. The New York Comedy Festival runs through November 6th. You can also go to www.nycomedyfestival.com for tickets, a complete schedule of events and moe information.
Los Angeles: Film Noir at Union Station. In addition to being the largest railroad passenger terminal in the Western U.S, Union Station has been the backdrop for some of the best film in the film noir canon. Metro Art will begin a series of screenings at the iconic hub that put this location front and center. It will kick off with Criss Cross, starring Burt Lancaster, Dan Duryea, Yvonne DeCarlo, and a young Tony Curtis dancing the lights out in a nightclub. The best part is that its FREE, those seating is on a first come, first served basis. It’s a great night out with a chance to see a classic film in an architectural treasure. Criss Cross kicks off November 4th. You can go to http://www.unionstationla.com/ for more information.