A much-belated comedy sequel, coming about twelve years after the previous Barbershop entry (not counting the female-centric spin-off, Beauty Shop), Barbershop 2: Back in Business, Barbershop: The Next Cut picks up mostly where we left off, even if it’s a decade later, with a barbershop/salon run by Calvin Palmer Jr. in Chicago’s South Side, serving the community with the best in style and the choicest of conversation about a variety of topics, both political and banal. No longer worried about the gentrification occurring in the prior chapter, the folks at the now-unisex shop still have major issues in Chicago to contend with, most notably in the escalating gun and gang violence running rampant in their neighborhood that has given the city the unenviable nickname of “Chi-Raq”.
Monthly Archives: April 2016
At the beginning of the film, we find the Henry of the title having been all but entirely killed from a brutal attack that sees his eyes, one of his arms, and one of his legs replaced by powerful robotic counterparts from a scientist who tells Henry, who is suffering from severe memory loss, that she is Estelle, his wife. After undergoing the rehabilitative operation, Henry and Estelle find themselves on the run in Moscow from a bunch of Russian gangsters, led by Akan, a madman with astonishing telekinetic powers that are never explained or even commented upon, who is out to create his own team of cyborgs resembling Henry. Estelle ends up getting kidnapped, Henry finds himself under constant assault by a never-ending array of baddies, and the only person who seems to be on his side is a mysterious man who calls himself Jimmy, who seems to have the uncanny ability to regenerate into a new variation of himself whenever he gets killed (Sharlto Copley, in his never-ending quest to see how many dialects he can annoy us hammily performing).
Midnight Special is an intriguing straight-faced science fiction-thriller which immediately shows us two armed and anxious men who’ve seemingly abducted an eight-year-old boy for reasons that are increasingly made clear as we course through the story. One of the men is Roy Tomlin (Shannon), who has a stronger bond to the odd duck of a boy, Alton Meyer, and the other is seemingly more along for the ride, Roy’s friend Lucas. The men have taken Alton from the compound of an isolationist religious cult in the West Texas run by Calvin Meyer (Shepard), who are actively seeking the return of this boy who is seen within the cult as a messianic prophet whose seemingly random utterances have formed the basis of their beliefs, including the specific time and place in which something major is about to occur that will affect them all. Also hot on the trail of the men are members of law enforcement, including a brilliant analyst working for the NSA, Paul Sevier, who is desperately seeking knowledge on how and why the young boy has been spouting top-secret information that no one outside of their organization should possibly know, becoming a risk to national security if left unchecked.
Melissa McCarthy plays Michelle Darnell, an unwanted orphan who channels her despondent feelings into making something of her self as an adult, eventually emerging as a wildly successful financial tycoon (the 47th wealthiest woman in the country, according to her), a go-to guru spreading her secret-to-success in the form of arena-filling seminars with the sparkling spectacle of a metal concert. After she’s imprisoned for a few months due to insider trading, thanks to a tip from her unscrupulous rival (and former lover) Renault (aka Ronald), Darnell finds herself back outside penniless and without many allies, relying on her former assistant, Claire, to help her get back on her feet. Soon enough, Darnell goes back to her cut-throat entrepreneurial ways when she makes a connection between Claire’s yummy homemade brownies and Claire’s daughter Rachel’s box of cookies for a Girl Scout-like nonprofit organization, the Dandelions, which reap millions of dollars in sales. Starting her own for-profit troop known as Darnell’s Darlings, her next business venture is now set, although the tactics to be top dog may not sit well with the kind-hearted people around her whose feelings she repeatedly tramples on without remorse.
Christopher Plummer stars as Zev Guttman, a 90-year-old recent widower of German origin who embarks on a road trip to try to find and kill the culprit for many deaths in Auschwitz during World War II. Guttman, whose severe dementia erases every short-term memory by the time he wakes up from sleeping, has escaped from his assisted care facility in New York with some cash and a detailed letter from a fellow survivor in the facility, Max Rosenbaum, telling Zev who he is and patient, memory-refreshing instructions on how to find the man who killed their families. With a tip that this Nazi Block Commander had escaped somewhere in North America under the assumed name of Rudy Kurlander, Zev sets about going to each of the four men who fit the description until he finds the right one, and then he’s going to end his life with a bullet from his store-bought Glock.
Marguerite is a seriocomic look at an absurd set of circumstances, loosely inspired by the true story of American singer Florence Foster Jenkins (Jenkins is set to get her own film in 2016, played by Meryl Streep). Set in France around 1920, Catherine Frot plays Marguerite Dumont (her name and occupation, a Marx Brothers nod), a wealthy, aristocratic socialite who has a deep-rooted passion to be an opera singer, despite not having any talent to do so. Due to her wealth status, and many enablers, including long-suffering (but neglectful) husband Georges and their protective butler Madelbos, who haven’t the heart to tell Marguerite that she’s not exactly easy on the ears, she dives in headfirst at a career in the vocal arts. Now that she’s taking just singing among friends and peers in private ceremonies to the public arena, those around her are at a loss as to what to do in order to minimize the damage inflicted on Marguerite’s fragile ego once the general public has paid to hear her embarrassingly caterwaul on a theater stage.
Tom Hiddleston stars as country music legend Hiram King “Hank” Williams in this biopic on his short life, several loves, and his influential career, crafting such classics as “Hey Good Lookin'”, “Move It On Over”, and the posthumously released gem, “Your Cheatin’ Heart”. Starting with quickie marriage to first wife Audrey Mae Sheppard at the age of 21, Williams and his band would start their career off playing for local radio, where he ended up not lasting long due to butting heads with the staff, leading him to take his show on the road. He eventually lands a recording contract, where he would become a national sensation, making him in high demand as he would dour throughout the late 1940s and the 1950s. But with success comes a dark side, fueled by alcoholism, womanizing, chronic spina bifida and a failing marriage.
The black-and-white film, sumptuously captured by cinematographer David Gallego, bounces back and forth between two different time periods about 30 years apart, with an older and younger version of the main character, a shaman named Karamakate, to unite them. Part of this is in 1909, where we find German scientist Theodor, along with his native guide Manduca, encountering the young Karamakate. Theo is ailing and needs help finding a possible cure, but Karamakate is reluctant to trust this white man, as the Europeans have come in and virtually erased his tribe, the Cohiuano, away in their exploits to extract rubber from the sap of their trees. He ends up assisting Theo when the visitor reveals that some of his people still exist and that he knows where they are. Decades later we’re introduced to Evan, a biologist from America, who has read Theo’s diary and has sought out an aging and somewhat forlonr Karamakate in order to help him find an ultra-rare and sacred plant called yakruna, long rumored to have great power to heal.