Next screening? “Disney’s Aladdin”

I cannot tell what this is going to be like from the trailers. It could go either way.

Could be “Dumbo,” could be “Beauty and the Beast” in the real of love action Disney remakes. Or “Jungle Book,” which was more down the middle.

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Movie Review: Haitian migrants are the “Cargo” in this Bahamian smuggling thriller


The set up is as old as Hemingway’s “To Have and Have.”

A tropical island fisherman, down on his luck, turns to a more desperate use for his boat.

“Cargo” is a human trafficking melodrama set in the Bahamas, with Haitian refugees taking on the title role.

Writer-director Kareem J. Mortimer gives us a taste of island flavor, a dose of the racism/classism that kicks into high gear whenever a lot of immigrants shows up.

But it’s a slow moving thriller, spiraling into a grimness that allows for no heroics, no nobility, just the desperate struggling with the more desperate in situations that turn from bleak to dire, all of it scored with dialogue that hits “hackneyed” far too often for its own good.

Kevin (British actor Warren Brown, best known for co-starring in “Luther”) is the fisherman, unable to pay his mate (Omar J. Dorsey), ineptly filleting under-sized snapper after the latest failed trip.

He’s in the hole, with a nice house where his beautiful but sullen wife (Persia White) hides out, basically in shame, refusing to care for his demented mother. And the biggest expense is his tweenage son’s private school tuition. Because Kevin went to a private school and figures he owes the boy “at least as much a chance” as he had.

His chance, we’re teased, was probably in the past. He got them all stateside, and screwed up royally once there.

“Am I the worst thing that ever happened to you?”

“Yes. The worst…I married ‘less.'”

She has a grievance, a BIG one.

Now, he’s gambling away his little ready cash in a desperate attempt to get even.

Celianne (Gessica Geneus) has a boy of her own, a Haitian single-mom longing to save up enough to get them to Miami, where her mother has relocated. Waitressing is the only gig she can land, and she takes abuse from the Native Bahamian who owns the joint just to keep that job.

Kevin’s offered the chance to do a little work for “The Major” (Craig Pinder, sporting the most authentic accent in the movie). Human trafficking?

“Dat sounds sinister…I’m not in the slave trade. I provide a service. I prefer to call it ‘de transpor-TATION business.'”

All Kevin has to do is take small boatloads of Haitians from Nassau to “The Berrys” (small, less developed Bahamian islands) where faster boats will shuttle them to Florida.

Easy money, right? Sure.

Mortimer, who specializes in tales with this setting (2010’s “Children of God”) gives us just enough of that local color to give “Cargo” a sense of place.

But he’s basically telling the wrong end of the story, the least interesting and most cliched “white gambler in trouble and cheating on his wife” tale. And he takes forever to get down to it.

The English dialogue (the film is in English and Creole) practically groans with cliches – “Maybe I’ll get lucky.” “I’ve always been there for you, right? As long as your daddy has breath in him, I’ll work it out…I’ll protect you.”

This extends to Kevin’s dealings with the waitress whose life he takes an interest in and his extremely patriarchal treatment of her.

We see far too little of Celianne’s story, figure out only bits and pieces of her life and cannot fathom why she’d tumble for the handsome white fisherman with no apparent means of improving her and her little boy’s lots.


A Jamaican maid (Sky Nicole Grey, good) comes in further complicating matters, joining Kevin’s mother and other “passengers” — not necessarily satisfied with his or the screenplay’s service.

All the while, our “hero” is scrambling to pay the damned private school tuition so that his bi-racial kid can enjoy the white privilege he himself, “a white man in this country,” has had and squandered.

The Major has almost all of the best lines, and they feel improvised — as if the actor was helping out a writer-director who’s only seen movies and listened to the dialogue in them (a common problem with greener filmmakers).

“So, now you is the Jesus Christ of human smugglers! If you play with puppy, he lick you mouth!”

We’re treated to a few lovely shots beneath the gin-clear waters of the Bahamas and a LOT of scenes of Kevin haggling with his bank, with the private school’s bursar, ambling around in his late model Mercedes station wagon, “helping” this or that Bahamian or Haitian, just shocked when his “help” isn’t appreciated, or competent.

“You can tell someone is sincere by the look in their eye!”

Maybe you can. And you can tell a tin-eared screenwriter by her or his leaning on such lines to make his rambling, disjointed and too-often dull melodrama make sense.


MPAA Rating: unrated, violence, nudity

Cast: Warren Brown, Gessica Geneus, Omar J. Dorsey, Persia White, Jamie Donnelly, Sky Nicole Grey, Jimmy Jean Louis

Credits: Written and directed by Kareem J. Mortimer. An Uncork’d Release

Running time: 1:52

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That didn’t take long — ‘John Wick 4’ Scheduled for Summer 2021

Yup, a near $60 million opening for the third film in the franchise, not the best movie of the three, and the green light is lit. The brand is the thing, and Keanu and John Wick are a bramd growing in value.

Here’s Variety on the announcement that confirms Keanu’s threat to keep making these as long as people keep buying tickets.

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Preview, at last an actual complete trailer for “Downton Abbey: The Movie”

Focus Features has this on deck for fall, Sept. 20 to be exact.

Everybody who is anybody in the series (pretty much) is here.

Will “Downton Abbey” get the PBS “Masterpiece” set out of the house and into theaters?


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Bradley Cooper & Carey Mulligan Will Perform with Philadelphia Orchestra — prep for Bernstein biopic

Hometown boy makes music and makes good.

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DeNiro says Pacino should be president

Hoo hah

Robert De Niro calls for impeachment and imprisonment for Trump, says maybe Al Pacino should lead instead

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Movie Review: Let’s stop mass shootings by tracking “Loners”


Suppose the country decided that instead of banning, taxing and forcing ruinous insurance premiums on gun nuts, they simply tracked “Loners” among us, made them wear tracking headbands with a giant “L” on them, able to tase-shock “dangerous” behavior that might lead to mass shootings?

Hey, anything to avoid doing the obvious, right?

“Loners” is a groaning, labored and low-budget comic satire about just such a future, where such a program, enthusiastically endorsed by a persecuting, scapegoating, tweeting buffoon of a president.

There are ideas here, just not laughs, or in any event, not many.

Actor turned writer Neal McGowan envisions an America where Homeland Security is waging a ” “war on loneliness,” where action recovery teams might show up at any moment where a “headbander” is choosing to avoid the company of the rest of the human race.

“Society-loving Americans” have to be protected from “people hating freaks,” y’see.

There are “mandatory guidelines” which the headbanded must follow, all to avoid those neighbors standing in front of a camera described the latest mass murderer as “a quiet man who kept to himself.”

The “Loners” we meet hit most of the demographic warning signs — white, male, cut off from others. Let’s regulate that away, a draconian series of edicts and guidelines. that can lead to frantic phone calls.

“The government needs…me to have 100 friends” by the end of the day, Lincoln (Brian Letscher of “Scandal”) pleads into his phone. Success! He’s signed up another. “Thanks, Mom!”

They’re jeered by teen punks.

“How many loners does it take to screw in a lightbulb? ONE. Because, you know, no choice.”

They can’t work alone, a required “work buddy” must be issued. “A registered loner” has to check in with new neighbors.

“I just prefer to spend my time alone, is all.

Sure, mass shootings are up. But hey, we’re TRYING.

“Loners” is built around a marathon meeting of Lone ANON, a therapy ground led by the ditsy Mike (Keith Stevenson), where Lincoln, an ex-jock Sports Authority sales associate, standoffish yard service guy Tanner (Tyson Turrou ), librarian Franny (Brenda Davidson), sneaky-loner businessman Ed (David Christian Welborn), IT nerd Dabney (Neil McGowan), sociopathic conspiracy buff Jeremy (Khary Payton) and  defiantly solitary Clara (Denise Dowse) meet and try not to interact.

It doesn’t matter that holding hands or other bodily contact will cut the mandatory meeting time in half. They’re sure as hell not doing that.

But something is up, something has their group red flagged and under surveillance. Clara is busted, the meetings take on an “underground” tone. And puzzled loner Senise (Melinda Paladino) takes Clara’s place.

Their meetings are being watched and discussed high up in the paranoid corridors of power. And a mysterious Mr. Tessman (famed character actor Stephen Tobolowsky) is monitoring their meeting, too, scheming to undo it all, it appears.

A priest drops (Tucker Smallwood) drops in for a few words of encouragement.

“Introvert, a word that’s not that dissimilar from ‘pervert.’…”Make a friend, or BURN in HELL!'”

And the group slowly, reluctantly “bonds.” Sort of.

“You work in a library? I didn’t know they still had those!”

“Did you ever?”


The situation has more promise than the script keeps, as even Tobolowsky is lost in a land of no laughs.

The group therapy is nonsensical, which is fine, but not cutting edge funny or silly funny to go along with that, which isn’t.

First-time feature director Eryn Tramonn can’t find laughs in the material, which doesn’t hit its satiric points hard enough (guns, mass shootings by disaffected white males, a culture fighting every idea that could reduce this threat — regulating “loners” rather than the weapons they use) and doesn’t have enough fun with its “types.”

Davidson is the lone cast member to hint at knowing how to play up the humor, and her mere presence makes for “Loners”‘ best gag.

Librarians are a perceived threat?


MPAA Rating: unrated

Cast: Brian Letscher, Melissa Paladino, Brenda Davidson, Tyson Turrou, David Christian Welborn and Stephen Tobolowsky

Credits: Directed by Eryc Tramonn, script by Neil McGowan. An Indie Rights release.

Running time: 1:31

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Preview, Kevin Costner voices a dog who learns “The Art of Racing in the Rain”

Kevin Costner’s the voice of the dog, Enzo.

Amanda Seyfried is among the stars in this odd odd odd duck of a racing movie, with Milo Ventimiglia as the racing driver that dog hooks up with.

Kathy Baker, Gary Cole…damn this looks weird.

“In racing, your car goes where your eyes go.”

This Fox release opens Aug. 9, and it’ll either be a sleeper, or an object lesson from Disney that screams “See? THIS is why we canned half of Fox when we bought them out.”


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Movie Review: Neighbor from Hell? Her name is “Isabelle”


The chilling moments of “Isabelle” are what a woman who’s just had a stillbirth sees in her nightmares.

Larissa, capably played Amanda Crew of “The Age of Adaline” and TV’s “Silicon Valley,” slips out of her hospital bed and into the morgue to view the corpse.

She sees the baby in the nursery she and husband Matt (Adam Brody of TV’s “Curfew” and “StartUp”) prepared for it, hears its crying and confuses a stuffed teddy bear for it.

The experience would be traumatic for anyone, even without the ghoulish, wheel-chair bound neighbor (Zoë Belkin) constantly glowering at her from her upstairs window across the street.

Larissa can lash out at her husband with “YOU did this,” blame herself declaring “I should’ve stayed dead, not him!” and reject the not-that-helpful priest.

“I know all about Hell. I’m living it, right now!”

But we know it’s all about the pale title character, in that wheelchair, staring daggers at her new neighbor whose only provocation was moving in.

Producer (HBO’s “O.G.,” “The Pinkertons”) turned director Rob Heydon can’t conjure frights out of this generic, mass production script.

Interesting character wrinkles are introduced and abandoned. Larissa is a pianist who plans to give lessons. Matt is being doted over by a too attentive/too attractive intern at the office. Matt’s dad is a cop who is little help when his daughter-in-law starts seeing the ghostly Isabelle in their house, in their dead baby’s nursery.

The dialogue is a banal recycling of pregnant woman insecurities. She’s eight months pregnant and asking her husband, “”Are you sure about all this?” “Do you WANT this baby?”

But Crew makes Larissa’s collapse pretty convincing, from the terse and testy demand she makes of the hospital and her husband after the stillbirth.

“I. Want. To. See. My. SON!”

She won’t tell anybody the answer to this rhetorical question.

“I died. For a minute! Do you have any idea of what I saw?”


Everything around her is strictly boilerplate demonic possession junk.

The priest (Dayo Ade) won’t debunk “demonic possession.”

“I’ve seen…many things!”

Michael Miranda plays the non-clergy “explainer,” the guy who tells Matt what’s really going on and what’s going to happen if he doesn’t act.

It all feels like a story and characters and plot resolution that we’ve seen scads of times before.

But Crew, at least, makes her grieving mother interesting to watch, veering from rage to terror, helpless to pro-active.

It’s tough to play the only person in the viewer/protagonist equation who doesn’t see what’s coming a mile away.


MPAA Rating: unrated

Cast: Amanda Crew, Adam Brody, Zoë Belkin, Sheila McCarthy

Credits: Directed by Rob Heydon, script by Donald Martin.   A Vertical release.

Running time: 1:21

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Cillian Murphy would be a great Bond, says relative of 007 creator

cillianYes. Yes he would. Shocked his name hasn’t come up before now. Watch “Anthropoid” to get a hint.

Or “Free Fire. ” Or “Wind that Shakes the Barley.”

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