New York Philharmonic – A John Williams Celebration Recap

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…. John Williams exploded into the film music world. He is the most famous living composer today and he is responsible for some of the most memorable themes and most successful movie franchises of all time. His work on Star Wars alone has made him a powerful figure in the film business and at 84 years of age, it doesn’t look like he’s planning on retiring anytime soon. The New York Philharmonic recently performed some of the Maestro’s works at David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center in New York and the results were simply out of this world.

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The Man Who Knew Infinity

For many, mathematics is a field that is not only captivating and sometimes amusing but has the potential to unlocking the secrets of the universe. It is a field that some individuals are experts in and in the new historical drama The Man Who Knew Infinity, we are presented with a heartfelt story of not only men who are geniuses in math but we see their friendship and bond develop in a very touching way. Starring Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire, Chappie) and Academy Award-winner Jeremy Irons, Infinity is a film that will keep you glued to your seat all during its 108-minute runtime and will be sure to resonate long after the end credits roll.

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Elvis & Nixon

Throughout American history, there have been many odd moments. Stories that are so off the wall, that they simply seem like pure fiction. One such moment occurred at the White House on December 21, 1970 and it revolved around two of the nation’s most popular figures. Elvis & Nixon is the strangely mixed account of a meeting between two figures that one might never expect to meet. It is a fun dramedy that “depicts” the events leading up to and surrounding one of history’s most bizarre encounters. The brilliant Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey portray The King of Rock and Roll and 37th president of the United States respectively and the results aren’t just funny but rather deep and absorbing.

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Blu-ray Review: Carol

Lesbianism is something very commonplace in today’s society. It isn’t something to fear or hide from. It is a normal aspect of the modern world and the beautiful film Carol spends a good amount of time attempting to dilute the stigma attached to it in the sexually-ignorant 1950s. The film explores lesbianism in a way that is both secretive and delicate. The main leads in the movie, played exquisitely by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, are the stuff of film legends. It is a quiet film that deals with a topic many, at the time, considered very taboo. In reality, Carol is an artful piece of cinema that is beautiful to look at, acted near perfectly, and addresses lesbianism in a refreshingly original way.

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Lolo

The bond between a mother and son is a very special one. Love is at the forefront, of course, but there are limits. When a marriage ends, the child may feel a few things, one of which is fear and concern that he or she will “lose” their parent. Eventually, that parent will probably develop feelings for another and this might instill feelings of jealousy and resentment from the child. The new French film Lolo explores this conflict and while it feels a tad similar to more mainstream films like, say, Cyrus, it is a film with more heart and better comedic moments. Writer, director, and star Julie Delpy shows off her skills here and the results are actually rather moving.

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Interview: Filmmaker Justin Lerner and Star Joseph Cross Talk ‘The Automatic Hate’

Indie films almost always hit the mark and The Automatic Hate is no exception. It is a deep and thought-provoking family drama that explores the taboos and awkward moments that exist within dysfunctional families. Young actor Joseph Cross (LincolnMilk) anchors the film which is written, directed, and produced by Justin Lerner (GirlfriendThe Replacement Child). Cross and Lerner recently took some time to speak with me and it was illuminating, to say the least. Here’s how that interview went:

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Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Tina Fey has a proven track record of tickling many an audience’s funny bone. Not only is she a seasoned comedian but she is one who never shies away from controversial or awkward humor. Her newest film Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is a unique and entertaining adventure that places Fey’s character in a rather precarious situation: the war on terror. It is a fun and smart vehicle for the former SNL player and will appeal to most audiences, especially those who appreciate thought-provoking war comedies peppered with subtle humor and gritty action. Fans of Fey’s will eat this up and so will casual admirers of the gifted funny woman.

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Triple 9

To make a successful crime thriller, you need a certain amount of ingredients to ensure its cinematic power. Said ingredients include a gifted director, a strong cast, and most importantly, a story that is gripping, full of twists, and will constantly keep you guessing. Triple 9 attempts to be one such film and while its story feels familiar, its direction and ensemble cast make it shine here and there. Code for “officer down”, 999 is obviously a very serious call that police dread every time they go to work. This film blurs the line between cop and criminal and with gritty action and some occasionally effective acting, it is a cinematic thrill ride that will suck you in occasionally and dazzle you with some really tense shoot ‘em up sequences. Sadly these scenes don’t make up for a rather dull actioner.

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Katsucon 2016 – Recap

The world of anime is a vast and interesting place. Every year, Japanese culture and art explode into National Harbor, Maryland with Katsucon, an annual convention that celebrates all things anime and the people that enjoy this powerful art form. Like most cons, Katsucon plays host to panels, screenings, and of course, cosplaying. A plethora of the attendees dress up as their favorite anime characters, strut their stuff, and pose for plenty of pictures. There are even those who dress up in non-anime attire (this particular writer walked the convention halls as a Ghostbuster and the response from fellow con-goers was a truly positive one). All in all, it is an event that anyone and everyone can take in and thoroughly enjoy.

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Zoolander No. 2

When it comes to comedy sequels, they rarely, if ever, surpass the original. One simply cannot reinvent the wheel, one can merely add a few new jokes and some colorful characters to it. Truer words have never been spoken when it comes to Zoolander No. 2, a sequel that took 15 years to make. Paramount Pictures and writer/director/producer and star Ben Stiller seriously couldn’t come up with a better followup to the adventures of a dimwitted male model which was a very clever satire on the fashion world. 15 years and they came up with a slightly amusing yet contrived and forced spy adventure with plenty of broad humor and corny zingers. Sure, it works (here and there) but the only saving graces are the interactions between some of the characters, most notably scenes with Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig, two seasoned comedians and former SNL cast mates. The moments between Stiller and Owen Wilson are okay but it just feels like we’ve gone down this runway before.

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Film reviews and interviews with critic (and Ghostbuster) Randy Unger!! New Episodes Air Mondays at 11 AM EST on Manhattan Neighborhood Network! MNN.org Lifestyle Channel