Rating: About Ratings
Opens: 08/14/2015
Running Time: 133
Rated: R
Cast: O'Shea Jackson, Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Aldis Hodge, Marlon Yates Jr., Carra Patterson, Keith Stanfield and Paul Giamatti.
Crew: Director: F. Gary Gray. Producers: F. Gary Gray, Ice-Cube, Dr. Dre, Matt Alvarez, Scott Bernstein, Tomica Woods Wright, David Engel and Bill Strauss Executive Producers: William Packer, Jon Jashni, Adam Merims, Ronald G. Muhammad, S. Leigh Savidge, Thomas Tull and Alan Wenkus. Screenwriters: Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff, S. Leigh Savidge and Alan Wenkus.
REVIEW: By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

Director F. Gary Gray’s explosive and captivating biopic “Straight Outta Compton” loosely chronicles the rise and fall of the seminal 1980s rap group, N.W.A.(Niggaz Wit Attitudes).

Group founders Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, along with Easy-E, MC Ren and DJ Yella were from the gritty streets of South Central Los Angeles. They were soon labeled “The World’s Most Dangerous Group” after releasing their 1988 debut album “Straight Outta Compton.” The album, and its single, “F—k tha Police” reflected their gangsta lifestyle and became a hard-hitting manifesto about police brutality and racial profiling in the black community.

N.W.A. not only revolutionized hip-hop music, but their impact spread beyond the hood and into mainstream America and changed the face of pop culture.

That this movie arrives when racial tensions between African-Americans and police are escalating throughout the country makes it even more poignant and relevant.

“Straight Outta Compton” packs plenty of drama into its nearly 2 ½ hours run time. Yet the movie never feels as if it’s overstaying its welcome. In fact, this is one of the rare, lengthy films of the summer that will leave you wanting more.

Credit that to the movie’s remarkable cast and an astute and unconventional script from screenwriters Andrea Berloff (“World Trade Center”), Jonathan Herman, Alan Wenkus and S. Leigh Savidge (“The Harder They Come,” “Welcome to Death Row” and “The Legend of Dolemite”).

While “Straight Outta of Compton” has its flaws, notably presenting the majority of the women in the film as mere eye candy, Gray does an admirable job of going beneath the surface and showcasing the group’s destructive rags to riches lifestyle.

Eric Wright, a.k.a. Eazy-E (a superb Jason Mitchell, “Broken City” and “Contraband”) knows his days as a drug dealer are numbered. So he’s all ears when DJ and beats master Andre "Dr. Dre" Young ( an excellent Corey Hawkins, “Non-Stop” and “Iron-Man 3”) ), suggests he funnel some of his money into making records. Eazy-E likes the idea and teams with rap music songwriter Ice Cube (a terrific O'Shea Jackson, Jr. Cube’s real son).

Adding to the collaborative efforts are DJ Yella (Neil Brown Jr, TV’s CSI: Cyber”), MC Ren (Aldis Hodge, TV’s “Leverage” and “TURN: Washington’s Spies”) and The D.O.C. (Marlon Yates Jr.) REEL MOVIE TALK

Their music catches the ear of music mogul Jerry Heller (an excellent Paul Giamatti (“San Andreas”) who takes a liking to Eazy-E. He offers to manage them and initially seems to have their best interests at heart. This leads to many lucrative opportunities and establishes N.W.A. as one of rap’s most powerful and successful groups.

Disputes over money, contracts and selfish bickering soon overshadowed N.W.A’s success. Heller is to blame. Feeling wronged, Ice Cube leaves the group to strike out on his own. He wastes little time making his presence felt as a solo artist.

Watching Ice Cube perform the diss track “No Vaseline” is yet another major highlight of “Straight out of Compton.” But there are so many layers to the movie. Dr. Dre’s relationship with Death Row Records impresario Suge Knight (a fierce R. Marcos Taylor, TV’s “Gotham” and “Dead Man Down”) could make a compelling movie on its own. And seeing Snoop Dogg (Keith Stanfield, “Selma”) and Tupac (Marcc Rose) do their impromptu bit in studio is a real treat for hip-hop heads.

“Straight Outta Compton” makes a profound social statement about race relations that begs to be heard. It’s a phenomenal movie on so many levels and one of the best biopics this year.

Editor's Note: Be sure to catch my movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays at 6:40 p.m....

Rated: PG-13
Opens: 08/14/2015
The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Rated: PG-13
Opens: 08/07/2015
Ricki And The Flash

Rated: PG-13
Opens: 08/07/2015
Fantastic Four

Rated: PG
Opens: 08/05/2015
Shaun The Sheep Movie

Rated: PG-13
Opens: 07/31/2015
Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation

Rated: R
Opens: 07/24/2015


Brian's Song Title: Brian's Song
Year Released: 1971
Running Time: 90
Production Company: Sony (Screen Gems)
Director: Buzz Kulik
Director of Photography: Joseph F. Biroc
Screenwriter: William Blinn
Author: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

REVIEW: Now with summer behind us, the arrival of fall means weekends attending and watching plenty of football games. Whether they’re college, pro or high school, I’m all over them. I’m looking forward to attending a few games at the San Francisco 49ers new Levi’s Stadium.

On the college front, my husband Rickey is a former UC Davis player/alum and...

Hot Pursuit <b>(Aug. 11)</b> Title: Hot Pursuit (Aug. 11)
Year Released: 2015
Running Time: 87
Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Anne Fletcher
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


Reese Witherspoon has shown she can tackle dramatic roles having earned an Oscar for “Walk the Line,” as well as an Oscar nomination for last year’s movie “Wild.”

With “Hot Pursuit,” Witherspoon has jumped back into the comedic world. The cop/mobster, action comedy from Director Anne Fletcher (“The Proposal” and “Step Up”) is a perfect fit for Witherspoon who co-produced “the movie.

Witherspoon is joined by the comical Sofia Vergara (TV’s “Modern Family”). They actually make quite a dynamic duo.

Witherspoon plays the straight laced, by-the-book San Antonio police officer, Rose Cooper. Her well-respected father was also a cop and killed in the line of duty.
Rose is a “unique” person. In fact, she’s still trying to live down an incident where she tasers a guy after he yelled the word “shotgun.” Of course all the guy meant was he wanted to sit in the front of his buddy’s car, but Rose interpreted it as a threatening situation. The rest of her colleagues like Detective. Jackson (Richard T. Jones, TV’s “NCIS: New Orleans”) won’t let her live it down.
When her boss, Captain Emmett (John Carroll Lynch, TV’s “American Horror Story”) wants her to escort Daniella Riva, (Vergara), the wife of Vincente Cortez (Joaquin Cosio, TV’s “The Strain”), a well known Mexican drug lord, Rose sees it as an opportunity to finally gain some respect among her peers.

Daniella plans to testify against her husband in court, but Cortez’ hit men are gunning for her to ensure that doesn’t happen.
As you might expect Rose and Daniella’s road trip starts out rocky as they make their way from San Antonio to Dallas in a cherry red Cadillac convertible filled with some questionable junk in the trunk.

Shenanigans abound between these polar opposites particularly when Rose meets up and is charmed by a fugitive named Randy (Robert Kasinsky, TV’s “True Blood”).

Rose and Daniella get way more than they bargained for when they discover that they not only have to outrun the bad guys, but a couple of crooked cops that Rose knows all too well.

There aren’t many buddy comedies being made that are directed and produced by women and feature them in the starring role. It’s rather refreshing and fun to see a movie like “Hot Pursuit” buck the trend.

Unfriended <b>(Aug. 11)</b> Title: Unfriended (Aug. 11)
Year Released: 2015
Running Time: 82
Production Company: Universal Pictures
Director: Levan Gabriadze
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


Social media has plenty of benefits. It can help unite people and even bring about change. At its worst, it can be used as an instrument of terror to intimidate, bully, harass and stalk and this is what director Levan Gabriadze runs with in the movie “Unfriended.”

For the record, “Unfriended” isn’t scary by a long shot. It’s riveting at times and has a gimmicky premise and a pretty relevant one at that.

This supernatural drama takes shape when high school student Blaire Lily (Shelley Hennig “Ouija” and TV’s “Teen Wolf”) watches a video on the Internet of her fellow classmate Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman, TV’s “Days of Our Lives”) kill herself. Why did she commit suicide?

Laura was cyberbullied and humiliated after an embarrassing video which was taken of her a year ago made its rounds online.

It happens to be the anniversary of Laura’s death, so Blaire, along with her boyfriend Mitch (Moses Jacob Storm), his buddy Adam (Will Peltz) and friends Val (Courtney Halverson), Jess (Renee Olstead), and computer geek Ken (Jacob Wysocki) all decide to talk about Laura’s death online.

As soon as they start, a weird and unknown icon pops up among their chat as billie227. None of them have any idea who it is. Initially they think it’s just some kind of glitch. They try everything to get rid of it, but nothing works.

When they all ask who billie227 is and what this thing wants, it makes for a very chilling evening. Billie227 claims to be Laura and she’s putting them on notice that she’s going to get every single person that was involved with posting that video of her.

Little things began to happen to each of them and then it continues to build. What’s worse is they get to see their horrendous fates play out right in front of each other.
It’s obvious that this Laura/billie227 means business.

I must say that this was one of the rare times that I have come into a movie not expecting to like it. I figured “Unfriended” would be just so silly--and at times it is--but it’s pretty clever too. For a horror movie, it has more buffering than blood for my personal taste, but I do give the producers credit for creatively capitalizing on a pop culture trend.

True Story <b>(Aug. 4)</b> Title: True Story (Aug. 4)
Year Released: 2015
Running Time: 100
Production Company: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Director: Rupert Goold
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


As an old school journalist I have always been fascinated with movies about the newspaper business. Director Rupert Goolds', new, crime thriller“True Story” is a good one.

It’s an intriguing and timely movie about ethics, deception and flat out lying. “True Story” is actually based on real life events involving disgraced New York Times investigative reporter Michael Finkel (an outstanding Jonah Hill, “22 Jump Street”) and his budding relationship with a suspected murderer, Christian Longo (James Franco, “The Interview”).

Watching how quickly Michael’s life unravels is just astounding especially since it comes at his own doing.
Michael seemingly had the world on a string. He was young, smart and an excellent writer whose outstanding features made him a rising star. But when he “stretches” the truth about a story he wrote on child slavery in Africa and “disremembers” pertinent facts about it when questioned by his angry and humiliated editors, things quickly go south for him.

Now Michael is forced back to his home in Montana with his wife Jill (Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”).
There goes that Pulitzer Prize.

Michael finds out fast just who his real friends are when he reaches out to some colleagues for job leads and they ignore him. No one wants anything to do with him. His credibility is shot.

Or is it?

There’s actually someone who hasn’t thrown in the towel on Mike. His name is Christian Longo (Franco). He’s not a journalist, but desperately wants to be. He’s really a cunning and evil guy that’s accused of killing his wife and three kids. Christian has always had an eerie fascination with Michael and has admired his work. So much so, that While Christian is in Mexico on the run from the F.B.I., he’s claiming to be him.

When the real Michael learns of Christian’s game from another reporter, his curiosity gets the best of him and he decides to meet with Christian in prison.

Christian knows everything about Michael and Michael soon discovers a lot about him. Or so he thinks. Even so, Michael believes Christian’s side of the story regarding his murdered family could be an opportunity to redeem himself and revive his writing career.

But the bond these men form is bogus from the start and ultimately leads to even further embarrassment for Michael.
Although the movie is rather slow and doesn’t have as much suspense as a drama of this caliber should with such a juicy premise, there are still enough nail-biting twists and turns to keep you glued to the screen.

Franco and Hill are a huge reason why “True Story” is so good. While Franco’s performance is more understated, Hill dials it up a few notches and nearly steals the show.

The Divergent Series: Insurgent <b>(Aug. 4)</b> Title: The Divergent Series: Insurgent (Aug. 4)
Year Released: 2015
Running Time: 159
Production Company: Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment
Director: Robert Schwentke
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


The sci-fi action film “The Divergent Series: Insurgent” from director Robert Schwentke “The Time Traveler’s Wife”), screenwriters Brian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman, and Mark Bomback,is the second installment in the “Divergent” series and is based on the best-selling novels by Veronica Roth.

“Insurgent” finds the non-conformist “Divergents,” Tris (Shailene Woodley, “The Fault in our Stars”), Tobias “Four” Eaton (Theo James), her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort, “The Fault in Our Stars”) and the untrustworthy Peter Hayes (Miles Teller, “Whiplash”) on the run from Erudite leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet, “Labor Day”).

Since seizing the Dauntless warrior class, Jeanine now has complete reign over the city. Don’t be misled by her cutesy name. Jeanine is ruthless.
She’ll do whatever it takes to get what she wants. And she desperately wants Tris.

Apparently there’s a secret box that was found at Tris’ deceased mother’s (Ashley Judd, “Dolphin Tale 2”) house that contains an important and powerful message. But here’s the kicker. Only a Divergent like Tris can open it.

Tris, Four and Peter briefly find a safe haven at the Amity Faction Compound which is run by peaceful leader Johanna (Oscar winning actress Octavia Spencer, “The Help” and “Get on Up”).

It’s not long however, before they are discovered and taken back to the city by a Dauntless solider (Jai Courtney, “Unbroken”) and his mercenaries.

They are then forced to confront their past and future. The drama all plays out before Candor Faction leader Jack Kang (Daniel Dae Kim, TV’s “Hawaii Five-O”) and Faction-less rebel, Evelyn Johnson-Eaton (Naomi Watts, “St. Vincent”) who becomes Jeanine’s nemesis.

“Insurgent” is loaded with top shelf talent although some like Mekhi Phifer and Spencer don’t have a lot to do.
But then again, “Insurgent” is Woodley’s show through and through. She convincingly seizes the heroine role.(Recommended).
mission By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:


With the IMF disbanded, and Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) out in the cold, the team now faces off against a network of highly skilled special agents, the Syndicate.

These highly trained operatives are hell-bent on creating a new world order through an escalating series of terrorist attacks. Ethan gathers his team and joins forces with disavowed British agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson, “Hercules”), who may or may not be a member of this rogue nation, as the group faces their most impossible mission yet.

“Mission Impossible-Rogue Nation: The IMAX Experience” opens July 30 at the Esquire IMAX Theatre at 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale at the theatre box office and online at

“Mission Impossible-Rogue Nation: The IMAX Experience” has been digitally re-mastered into the image and sound quality of The 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.

Movie-goers can now enjoy the IMAX Experience with good food and a cold beer or glass of wine. Options include: Coors Light, Blue Moon, Racer 5, Ruhstaller, Woodbridge cabernet and chardonnay.

The Esquire IMAX Theatre also has a new expanded menu which includes: pizza, giant pretzels, soup, salad, chicken tenders and locally made Morants’ sausages with all the fixins.’

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



The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences celebrates the work of Aardman Animations with three programs featuring the studio’s Oscar-winning and nominated Wallace and Gromit shorts on August 7, and August 9.

WALLACE AND GROMIT RESTORED: THE MARC DAVIS CELEBRATION OF ANIMATION--August 7, 7:30 p.m. Samuel Goldwyn Theater, Beverly Hills. As part of the Academy’s Marc Davis Celebration of Animation series, Aardman Animations co-founder David Sproxton and Wallace and Gromit cinematographer Dave Alex Riddett will discuss the making of the studio’s Oscar-winning shorts “The Wrong Trousers” and “A Close Shave,” and the Oscar-nominated shorts “A Grand Day Out” and “A Matter of Loaf and Death.” The program also will include the world premiere screening of the restorations of all four films, the result of a collaborative effort between the Academy Film Archive and Aardman Animations.

CRACKING ANIMATION: BEHIND THE SCENES AT AARDMAN--August 9, 9 a.m. Los Angeles Convention Center, Downtown Los Angeles. The Academy returns to SIGGRAPH Conference with a panel featuring Sproxton and Riddett, who will trace the arc of Aardman’s voyage over the last three decades, present clips of the studio’s work, and discuss the evolving production techniques and future prospects of stop-motion animation.

A GRAND DAY OUT: WALLACE AND GROMIT FAMILY MATINEES--August 9, 1:00–5:30 p.m. At The Linwood Dunn Theater, Hollywood. The Academy presents matinee screenings of all four Wallace and Gromit shorts for families, as well as an animation workshop for children ages 8 to 13. The 90-minute hands-on workshop will offer a small group of participants the opportunity to learn some of Aardman Animations’ stop-motion techniques.

For tickets and more information call (310) 247-3000.



The Academy’s Board of Governors approved Oscars rules and campaign regulations for the 88th Academy Awards during their most recent Board meeting on June 23.

In the “Best Picture” category, to qualify as a producer nominee for a nominated picture, the producer must have been determined eligible for a Producers Guild of America (PGA) Award for the picture, or must have appealed the PGA’s refusal of such eligibility. Final determination of the qualifying producer nominees for each nominated picture will be made by the Academy’s Producers Branch Executive Committee.

In the “Visual Effects” category, the number of eligible films that will be initially shortlisted for further consideration has increased to a maximum of 20 titles. The number of films that will be shortlisted for nominations voting remains at 10.

In the “Documentary Short Subject” category, the number of films that will be shortlisted for nominations voting has increased from 8 to 10 titles. Instead of a possible three, four or five nominees, the number is now set at five.

In the “Animated Short Film” and “Live Action Short Film” categories, a film qualifying via a theatrical release must now have a theater run in Los Angeles County for at least seven consecutive days with at least one screening per day. The film also must appear in the theater listings along with the appropriate dates and screening times. In both categories, the number of nominees is now set at five.

Other amendments to the rules include standard date changes and other “housekeeping” adjustments. Rules are reviewed annually by individual branch and category committees. The Awards Rules Committee then reviews all proposed changes before presenting its recommendations to the Board of Governors for approval.

Updated campaign regulations, which specify how companies and individuals may market to Academy members any movies and achievements eligible for the 88th Academy Awards, are also presented to the Board for approval.

The 88th Oscars will be held February 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, and will be televised live on the ABC television at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.

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

3D Animation By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:


"Our problem is we sound too good to be true," says Maria Solomon, Head of EOS Studios in Cleveland, Ohio. EOS Studios is a woman-owned African American firm that produces large and small scale 3-D Animation. EOS specializes in the emerging field of 3-D Projection Mapping.

3-D Projection Mapping, also known as video mapping, urban projection, architectural mapping and spatial augmented reality, is a projection-based technology that merges animation, motion graphics and special effects. 3D Projection Mapping is being used by movie makers, entertainers, artists, architects, designers and event planners as well as advertisers and marketers of all types to provide memorable messages through jaw-dropping 3-D effects.

Solomon explains, "We’ve perfected a process where we can create 100 percent custom 3-D Projection Mapping for any purpose you can imagine and do it at a level which would ordinarily take at least a half dozen Animators or more, which keeps our costs very competitive in the industry." A full scale 3-D Projection Mapping project can run deep into six figure territory.

Michael Solomon, Maria’s husband, is Lead Animator and Creative Director. He says, "Our digital lighting partner is a well-established, industry leading firm--you want 3-D projections mapped across the Statue of Liberty or the Washington Monument? Done. You want 3-D projections mapped across a Football Stadium, Baseball Diamond, Basketball Court or Concert Venue? Done. You want 3-D projections coming out of your kids toy box at home? Done."

He continues, "In my opinion, not only is 3-D Projection Mapping the future of marketing and advertising, 3-D Projection Mapping is the future of entertainment as a whole. It’s like man’s discovery of fire all over again. Worldwide, we’ve only scratched the surface of what 3-D Projection Mapping can do as an art and a science."

For more information, visit or contact Maria Solomon at

Editor’s Note: Reprinted With Permission From BlackNews.Com. Photo: Courtesy of BlackNews.Com.

OMAR SHARIF By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:


The Screen Actors Guild Foundation mourns the loss of multi-faceted and legendary actor Omar Sharif who died July 10, 2015. To honor his life and extraordinary career, the SAG Foundation has digitized and released its 50-minute career retrospective with Sharif recorded in 2003.

“Conversations with Omar Sharif” was moderated by Todd Amorde and taped before an audience of fellow union actors. In the video, Sharif discusses a lifetime of unforgettable roles and career turning points, including his Academy Award nomination for “Lawrence of Arabia,” his Golden Globe win for the classic “Doctor Zhivago” and 2003’s “Monsieur Ibrahim,” the film that would garner him a César win the following year.

A master of playing intriguing characters, Sharif reveals himself as a lively, intelligent, and wide-ranging actor who took on any challenge he was given, not only on screen, but also in his everyday life.

The entire “Conversations with Omar Sharif” can be viewed on the SAG Foundation YouTube channel:

Editor's Note: Some information used in this report obtained from The Academy publicity department.