Rating: About Ratings
Opens: 03/24/2017
Running Time: 103
Rated: R
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare and Olga Dihovichnaya.
Crew: Director: Daniel Espinosa. Producers:Bonnie Curitis, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Julie Lynn. Executive Producers: Don Granger and Vicki Dee Rock. Screenwriters: Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. Cinematographer: Seamus McGarvey.
REVIEW: By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

When it comes to exploring life on Mars, maybe scientists should just leave well enough alone. Otherwise, their search could lead to a “monstrous” discovery much like the one in the new, sci-fi adventure movie “Life.”

Although “Life” “borrows” from Ridley Scott’s classic, “Alien,” this outer space cautionary tale from director Daniel Espinosa (“Safe House” and “Child 44”) has a few thrilling wrinkles of its own thanks to the screenwriting team of Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (“Deadpool”).

It also has Ryan Reynolds (“Deadpool”), Rebecca Ferguson (“The Girl on the Train” and “Florence Foster Jenkins”) Jake Gyllenhaal (“Nocturnal Animals”) and a capable supporting cast.

“Life” centers around an eclectic crew aboard the International Space Station. There’s Dr. David Jordan (Gyllenhaal, “Nocturnal Animals”), flight engineer, Rory “Roy” Adams (Ryan Reynolds, “Deadpool”), Quarantine and Centers for Disease Control’s specialist Dr. Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson, “The Girl on the Train” and “Florence Foster Jenkins”), pilot, Sho Murakami (Hiroyuki Sanada), eco-biologist Dr. Hugh Derry (Ariyon Bakare, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”) and their brave captain, Katerina Golovkin (Olga Dihovichnaya).

Their mission involves using a robotic arm to capture a package that contains soil samples from Mars. It’s a pretty big deal because after studying the samples, it proves there is indeed life on the Red Planet.

This discovery has attracted so much attention back home, that even some school kids held a contest to name the alien. They chose Calvin.

While Calvin initially appears simply as a squiggly little organism in a petri dish, it soon morphs into something much bigger and sinister.

This shape-shifting entity also develops incredible strength and intelligence and can slip and slide its way through vents. Calvin’s goal is to destroy Earth.

Of course, this crew isn’t about to let that happen. They put up a valiant and exciting fight trying to contain Calvin. You know it’s a losing battle if a blow torch barely dazes this thing. And once it takes hold of you, well let’s just say you begin to see red.

Combine that with a claustrophobic setting and you have a creepy, effective little thriller that pops with suspense and packs a walloping ending that’s just begging for a sequel.

“Life” is good.

Editor's Note: Be sure to catch my movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays at 6:40 p.m. on radio station KFBK 1530 AM and 93.1 FM.

Check Out This Trailer For "LIFE"

Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), the Black Reel Awards Voting Academy and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.

Rated: PG-13
Opens: 03/24/2017
The Sense Of An Ending

Rated: R
Opens: 03/24/2017

Rated: PG
Opens: 03/17/2017
Beauty And The Beast

Rated: PG-13
Opens: 03/10/2017
Kong: Skull Island

Rated: R
Opens: 03/03/2017

Rated: R
Opens: 02/24/2017
Get Out


Lady Sings The Blues Title: Lady Sings The Blues
Year Released: 1972
Running Time: 144
Production Company: Paramount Pictures
Director: Sidney J. Furie
Director of Photography: John A. Alonzo
Screenwriter: Suzanne De Passe
Author: By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

REVIEW: When you’ve watched a movie so many times that you basically know the dialogue verbatim, that movie really means something and resonates with you.

The 1972 autobiographical drama, “Lady Sings the Blues” is the one for me. No matter how many times I see it, it never gets old.

Directed by Sidney J. Furie (“Iron Eagle” and “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace”), “Lady Sings the...

Miss Sloane <b>(March 21)</b> Title: Miss Sloane (March 21)
Year Released: 2016
Running Time: 132
Production Company: EuroCorp
Director: John Madden
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


Jessica Chastain delivers another big, bold and memorable performance in “Miss Sloane.”

Directed by John Madden (“The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”), this political thriller stars Chastain (“The Huntsman: Winter’s War”) as an impeccably dressed, cold-blooded, heavy hitting Washington, D.C. lobbyist who knows not just how to play the game, but win at it too.

Elizabeth’s sharp mind is constantly racing with ideas as to how to stay steps ahead of her enemies and even her so-called friends. She explains that being a lobbyist is all about anticipating your opponent's moves and you surprising them before they surprise you.

So when her boss George Dupont (Sam Waterston, TV’s “Grace and Frankie") and his partner in crime, Bob Sanford (Chuck Shamata, TV’s “The Art of More”) call a meeting to ask Elizabeth to woo women and sell them on the gun lobby, she tells them to stuff it and walks off the job.

Well, someone with Elizabeth’s credentials isn’t going to be unemployed long. She winds up being hired by a non-profit agency run by Rodolfo Schmidt (a terrific Mark Strong, “Kingsman: The Secret Service”).

Elizabeth’s staff of millennials including her quiet and smart associate Esme (Gubu Mbatha Raw, “Beyond the Lights”) decide to join her, but another savvy one named Jane Molloy (Alison Pill, (TV’s “The Family”) stays behind. Jane is a bit of slickster too and has a few tricks up her sleeve. They play out in stunning detail.

Interestingly, when Elizabeth arrives at the new job, she is tasked with an NRA assignment that involves shoring up a gun-control bill. Now Dupont (Waterston) and his cronies are nervous as hell.

Elizabeth’s win at all costs career approach is what has made her such a major mover and shaker. However, it seems that the NRA deal may the thing that brings her down or perhaps it will be those white pills she’s always popping or even her clandestine trysts with a young male escort (Jake Lacy, TV’s “Girls”).

Can someone as smart and tough as Elizabeth be that careless?

Never bet against Miss Sloane. Even when it seems she’s getting to know her staff better over a casual lunch or dinner, she’s really playing up an angle. Esme (Mbatha-Raw) finds this out in the worst possible way.

And when it seems as if Elizabeth has been nailed for various illegal practices and is about to suffer a fate she never dreamed possible, first time screenwriter Jonathan Perera throws us for a loop with a dandy of a twist. It involves her and D.C.’s powerful Congressman Ron M. Sperling (a very good John Lithgow, “The Accountant”).
(Highly Recommended).

Sing <b>(March 21)</b> Title: Sing (March 21)
Year Released: 2016
Running Time: 108
Production Company: Universal Pictures
Director: Christophe Lourdelet and Garth Jennings
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


There were so many outstanding animated movies last year and “Sing” was among the pack.

With so many adorable characters in this zany musical, you’ll be hard-pressed to pick a favorite one.

However, Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey, “Gold” and “Interstellar”) may top the list.

Buster is a fiery and charming Koala Bear who was bitten by the show biz bug ever since his entertainment impresario daddy took him to see his first music show when he was a kid.

When his father died, Buster inherited his dad’s sprawling theatre and vowed to carry on producing shows. But the entertainment industry is a tough business. Buster produced some show’s that bombed and they left him in pretty dire financial straits.

In addition, the theatre could use a makeover. A little paint and other sprucing up would do wonders for the place. But Buster is busted.

Consequently, his daddy’s once proud theatre is on the verge of getting repossessed by the local bank. Leading the charge to take control of the place is the bank’s persnickety representative, Judith the Llama (Rhea Perlman, TV’s “The Mindy Project”).

Lord knows what it will be turned into if they get their hands on it. Buster can’t bear to see that happen.

Fortunately, his assistant Miss. Crawley (Garth Jennings, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy” “Sing” ), a slightly senile, green iguana with a glass eye that pops out when she gets nervous-- which is often--has been very loyal to Buster.

She wants to help out as best she can.
Buster also looks to his friend, Eddie Noodleman (John C. Reilly, upcoming movie, “Kong: Skull Island” and TV’s “Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule”).
They decide that the best way to save the theatre is to hold a singing competition. The grand prize winner will walk away with bragging rights and a cool $1,000.

But when Buster tells Miss. Crawley to print up some fliers, she makes a major typo. Instead of typing the prize amount at $1,000, it becomes $100,000. She really needs to get that eye checked.

Before she or Buster notices the error, a big gust of wind sends the stack of papers she’s holding flying out of their office window all over town and into the hands of everybody who wants to be a star.

This town is loaded with some very talented animals that would put everyone on “The Voice” to shame. They turn out in force to attend the auditions.

Among them is Johnny (Taron Egerton, “Eddie the Eagle” and the upcoming “Billionaire Boys Club”), a big strapping British gorilla with a soulful, silky voice.

He dreams of being a singer especially so he won’t have to follow in the footsteps of his mobster father, aka Big Daddy (Peter Serafinowicz, TV’s “The Trip” and “TripTank”).

Johnny’s version of Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing” certainly puts him at the head of the competition.

Rosita (Reese Witherspoon, upcoming “A Wrinkle in Time”) is a porky pig that’s overworked with 25 piglets and who would give anything to step away from her mommy duties and her workaholic husband. This little piggy can sing. She wows the judges too with Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.”

Ash (Scarlett Johansson, “Captain America: Civil War”) is a precocious, punk-rocking teen porcupine that’s really being held back by her insecure musician boyfriend, Lance (Beck Bennett, “Zoolander 2”).

And Mike (Seth MacFarlane, “Family Guy”), is an arrogant, little mouse that belts out standards including a version of “My Way” that would make Ol’ Blues Eyes” proud.

Once Meena (singer Tori Kelly), the elephant overcomes her stage fright, with the help of her mother (Leslie Jones, “Ghostbusters”/TV’s SNL”) and grandfather Jay Pharoah, TV’s “SNL”), she turns things out with Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t you Worry ‘Bout a Thing.”

Gunter, (Nick Kroll, TV’s “Chelsea”) who is an audacious German accented pig isn’t afraid to strut his stuff either. When teamed with Rosita (Witherspoon) on stage, they become a formidable pair.

As the competition revs into high gear, Buster is trying to keep his creditors at bay and from letting on that he barely has the $1,000 to pay the winner, much less $100,000.

But just when it seems things couldn’t get any worse they do. Tragedy strikes the theatre and nearly washes away every hope and dream along with it.
Buster is dejected as are the many contestants. But thanks to Eddie’s (John C. Reilly, “King Kong: Skull Island”) wealthy grandmother, Miss Nana Noodleman (Jennifer Saunders, TV’s “Josh”); a former, iconic singer back in the day, hope springs eternal. Nana realizes the importance of the theatre and everything Buster is doing for the community.

Nana—the younger version is played by singer Jennifer Hudson-- agrees to buy the theatre which allows Buster to keep and continue with a scaled down version of the talent competition.

“Sing” is a light-weight, fun story for kids and parents alike. The movie features some snazzy Pop 40 tunes and classics like, “Gimme Some Lovin’” from The Spencer Davis Group, Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street,” Christopher Cross’s “Ride like the Wind” and even old school hip hop tracks like Sir-Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby got Back.”

“Faith” from Stevie Wonder and Ariana Grande is a winner as is Hudson’s cover of The Beatles’s “Golden Slumbers/Carry that Weight” and Tori Kelly’s powerful, “Hallelujah.”

Even Matthew McConaughey gets in the mix singing, “Call me Maybe.”
(Highly Recommended).

Live By Night <b>(March 21)</b> Title: Live By Night (March 21)
Year Released: 2016
Running Time: 3
Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Ben Affleck
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


Ben Affleck directs and stars in the gangster movie, “Live by Night” which is based on Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name.

While I was locked in for the first hour or so of this gritty and violent drama, the story soon ran in a million directions and never quite seemed to find its footing or when to end.

In “Live By Night” Affleck stars as Joe Coughlin, the youngest son of a prominent Boston police commissioner, (Brendan Gleeson, upcoming “Paddington 2”).

Growing up in Boston and raised in a good Irish family wasn’t enough for Joe. As a kid, he simply couldn’t resist the lure of petty crime. When he got older Joe became an all-out gangster, robbing banks and running with the big boys.

You’d think someone with Joe’s street smarts would be smart enough not to crush on Emma Gould (Sienna Miller, “American Sniper”) who just happens to be the mistress of a prominent crime boss named Albert White (Robert Glenister, TV’s “The Musketeers”). But Joe isn’t bright in that regard and their dalliances, which are uncovered, along with a few other mishaps that nearly get them killed.

Joe’s life of crime and indiscretion takes him from Boston to Tampa where he starts working for Albert’s rival, Maso Pescatore (Remo Girone). It’s during the height of the Prohibition-era and Joe has an opportunity to make a fortune overseeing Florida’s overflowing rum business.

Joe is not the only cold-blooded hood in town as he and his top henchman Dion Bartolo (Chris Messina, TV’s “The Mindy Project”) soon discovers.
Everyone doesn’t want a piece of what Joe is selling which includes a gambling casino he wants to build.

Standing in his way is a the young, God fearing, tent-revival preacher Loretta Figgis (Elle Fanning, “20th Century Women”) and her racist Police Chief father Irving (Chris Cooper, “Demolition”) and his Klan leader brother-in-law, RD Pruitt (Matthew Maher, “The Finest Hours”).

Maher brings such a crackling intensity to his role and his scenes with Affleck and Cooper are among the best in the entire film. It would have been great to see a lot more of him.

Meanwhile, Joe continues to ruffle the feathers of even more racists when he flaunts his beautiful, Cuban girlfriend Graciela (Zoe Saldana, “Star Trek Beyond”) all over town.

But Joe didn’t rise through the ranks playing by the rules. He knows how to muscle people—including the Sheriff and the Klan—in order to get what he wants.

Bullets and bodies fly “Scarface” and “Godfather” style in “Live by Night." It's a movie that clearly showcases Affleck’s love for the gangster film genre.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story <b>(March 21)</b> Title: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (March 21)
Year Released: 2016
Running Time: 133
Production Company: Walt Disney Studios
Director: Gareth Edwards
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is a stand-alone sequel to “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” (2005) and a prequel to the original Star Wars film “Star Wars: A New Hope “(1977) as it ends at the point at which that film begins.

Although not perfect, “Rogue One” serves up plenty fun and features several familiar faces like Chewie, Darth Vader, R2-D2 and Princess Lei among others.

Director Gareth Edwards (“Godzilla” and Monsters”) jumps right into the action which centers on Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”).

She’s been exposed to a lot even as a kid and seen how the evil Empire took control of everything including her father Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen, “Dr. Strange”). They demanded he build one of the biggest weapons of mass destruction, the Death Star.”

Jyn can’t possibly allow this to happen. She is hell-bent on capturing the man behind the chaos. That would be megalomaniac Orso Krennic (a fantastic Ben Mendelsohn, TV’s “Bloodline”).

Jyn enlists the help of her mentor Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker, “Arrival”) and Captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna, “The Book of Life”) to get Orso.

As with every “Star Wars” movie, it’s all about the characters. And “Rogue One” offers some real goodies like the blind warrior monk Donnie Yen (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny”) and Riz Ahmed’s Bodhi Rook, a highflying turncoat pilot.

However, it’s K-2S0, aka Kaytoo, (Alan Tudyk, TV’s “American Dad!”) a quick-witted droid who steals the show and really comes alive during “Rogue’s” heavy-hitting action sequences.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” will undoubtedly delight “Star Wars” fans. It’s a nostalgic reminder of why we fell in love so long ago with a galaxy far, far away.


Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” is a live-action re-telling of the studio’s animated classic which refashions the classic characters from the tale as old as time for a contemporary audience, staying true to the original music while updating the score with several new songs.

“Beauty and the Beast” opens at the Esquire IMAX Theatre on March 16 at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are on sale at the theatre box office and online at

“Beauty and The Beast” will be specially formatted exclusively for IMAX theatres. The entire film will be presented in an expanded IMAX 1.9:1 aspect ratio to fill more of the screen--allowing audiences to see 26% more of the image in IMAX than standard theatres--for a truly enchanted movie going experience.

The IMAX release of “Beauty and the Beast” will be digitally re-mastered into the image and sound quality of an IMAX Experience with proprietary IMAX DMR (Digital Re-mastering) technology. The crystal-clear images, coupled with the Esquire IMAX Theatre’s six story high and 80 feet wide screen, customized theatre geometry and powerful digital audio, create a unique environment that will make audiences feel as if they are in the movie.

The Esquire IMAX Theatre is located at 1211 K Street in downtown Sacramento, CA. For information on tickets and showtimes, please call 916-443-IMAX (4629) or visit the website at

Editor’s Note: Information used in this report obtained from IMAX press department.

mellisa By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:


Principal photography on “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” has begun in New York City.

“Can You Ever Forgive Me?” is directed by Marielle Heller (“The Diary Of A Teenage Girl”) from a script written by Nicole Holofcener (“Enough Said”) and Jeff Whitty (“Avenue Q”) based on the novel of the same name by Lee Israel.

The film stars Academy Award nominated Melissa McCarthy (“The Boss”), Richard E. Grant (“Jackie”), Jane Curtin (“The Heat”), Dolly Wells (“Bridget Jones’s Baby”), Anna Deavere Smith (“Black-ish”) and Jennifer Westfeldt (“Kissing Jessica Stein”).

“Can You Ever Forgive Me? tells the true story of best-selling celebrity biographer (and friend to cats) Lee Israel (McCarthy) who made her living in the 1970’s and 80’s profiling the likes of Katherine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead, Estee Lauder and journalist Dorothy Kilgallen. When Lee is no longer able to get published because she has fallen out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception, abetted by her loyal friend Jack (Richard E. Grant).

"I'm overjoyed to be starting principal photography on this film, with this fantastic group of collaborators,” says Heller. Working with Melissa, Richard E. Grant and the rest of our tremendous cast, Searchlight and Anne Carey and all my wonderful producers is a dream come true. Now, more than ever, it is imperative we tell the stories of women and all people who have gone unnoticed by society. I'm honored to be helming this very special film."

"For Archer Gray to be working with Marielle Heller again is absolutely thrilling,” says Carey. “She has assembled a fantastic cast and crew. We also couldn’t ask for better partners than Fox Searchlight. Bringing Lee's story to life has been a long journey with support from so many people along the way. Knowing Lee as I did, I am certain she would be delighted by this incarnation.”

The film will be overseen by Co-Heads of Production Matthew Greenfield and David Greenbaum and Director of Production Taylor Friedman.

Editor’s Note: Some information used in this report obtained from publicity department press releases.

step By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:


Fox Searchlight Pictures Presidents Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula have acquired worldwide distribution and remake rights to director and producer Amanda Lipitz’s inspiring documentary “Step” featuring Blessin Giraldo, Cori Grainger, Tayla Solomon, Gari McIntyre and Paula Dofat.

“Step” documents the senior year of a girls’ high-school step dance team against the background of inner-city Baltimore. As each one tries to become the first in their families to attend college, the girls strive to make their dancing a success against the backdrop of social unrest in the troubled city. “We are excited to share this inspiring experience around the world,” said Gilula and Utley. “This film was made as a tribute to the bravery and conviction of the young women in the film and to the courage they demonstrated in their willingness to share their story."

Director and producer Amanda Lipitz said she is thrilled to partner with Fox Searchlight on the release of the film throughout the world. “We are very grateful for their enthusiasm and passion. We hope that the heroes of “Step” will inspire girls everywhere to do what they have done, which is to prove that nothing is impossible when you surround yourself with a group of powerful women.”

The production also received generous support from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Baltimore Ravens. The film world premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to sold out screenings with show-stopping performances by the team, who were greatly supported by the local Park City community.

Fox Searchlight Pictures is a specialty film company that both finances and acquires motion pictures. It has its own marketing and distribution operations, and its films are distributed internationally by Twentieth Century Fox. Fox Searchlight Pictures is a unit of 21st Century Fox.

Editor’s Note: Some information used in this report obtained from publicity department press releases.