HANDS OF STONE
Rating: About Ratings
Opens: 08/26/2016
Running Time: 105
Rated: R
Cast: Édgar Ramirez, Robert De Niro, Usher Raymond IV, Reg E. Cathay, John Turturro, Ruben Blades, Ellen Barkin Ana de Armas and Oscar Jaenada.
Crew: Director: Jonathan Jakubowicz. Producers: Eduardo Ceballos, Arturo del Rio, Carlos Garcia de Paredes, Claudine Jakubowicz, Jonathan Jakubowicz and Jay Weisleder. Executive Producers: Robin Duran, Ricardo Del Rio, Robine Duran, George edde, David Glasser, Bill Johnson, Max E. Keller, Jim Seibel, Benjamin Silverman, Sue-Alen Villalva, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein and Sammy Weisleder. Screenwriter: Jonathan Jakubowicz. Cinematographer: Miguel Ioann Littin Menz.
REVIEW: By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

After relatively small, but memorable roles in movies such as “The Bourne Ultimatum” “Point Break” and last year’s “Joy,” Edgar Ramirez was overdue for a film that would truly showcase his talents.

He’s found it in director Jonathan Jakubowicz’s new boxing drama, “Hands of Stone.”

In the biopic, Ramirez plays Roberto Duran, the scrappy Panamanian born kid who grew up dirt poor and not only used his hands to steal fruit from trees, but also to punch his way out of poverty as a street fighter.

Duran rose to national prominence as a professional boxer after narrowly defeating Sugar Ray Leonard in 1980.

“Hands of Stone” covers a lot of ground during its 105 minutes run time. It uses snappy, flashbacks to tell its story which is partly narrated by Robert De Niro (“The Intern”), who gives a powerful performance as Duran’s reluctant, trainer, Ray Arcel.

Duran’s improbable rise to fame and fortune was filled with hardships. If the movie is accurate, Duran was a real hot-head and led a reckless life. He didn’t listen to many people, especially those who seemed to have his best interests at heart like his manager Carlos Eleta (a terrific Ruben Blades, TV’s “Fear the Walking Dead”).

Eleta had his hands full with Duran and had to work overtime to convince him to let Arcel (De Niro)—a man who made champions out of 18 up and coming boxers—help him to take his fighting to the next level.

The characters in “Hands of Stone” are also well-developed. The wonderful Reg E. Cathay (TV’s "Outcast”) adds a humorous touch as promoter Don King as does Robb Skyler channeling Howard Cosell.

The always reliable Ray Turturro, TV’s “The Night Of”) turns up as a mob leader threatening Arcel over some past boxing issues.

Arcel soon discovers that getting Duran in prime fighting shape is going to be more of a challenge than he imagined.

That’s because Duran is dealing with several distractions such as the political upheaval that’s swirling throughout his country. Then there’s a beautiful young woman Felicidad Iglesias, (Ana de Armas, “War Dogs”) that he’s aggressively pursuing and winds up marrying.

Arcel sees a fierce and powerful competitor in Duran and understands why his fans refer to him as Manos de Pieda (Hands of Stone). Now if only he could convince Duran just how great he can be.

Durán held world titles in four different weight classes: lightweight (1972–79), welterweight (1980), light middleweight (1983–84) and middleweight (1989). “Hands of Stone” hones in on the 1980 title fight, the “Brawl in Montreal” with undefeated WBC welterweight champ, Sugar Ray Leonard who is played convincingly by rapper/singer Usher Raymond.

This isn’t the first movie role for the multi-Grammy Award winning singer. Usher starred in “Scary Movie,” “Muppets Most Wanted” and “In the Mix.” However, in “Hands of Stone,” Usher definitely ups his game and brings a load of charisma and self-assuredness that should make Leonard proud and hopefully land the actor a few more roles as well.

There are a number of stand-out moments in “Hands of Stone.” Most of them center on Leonard and Duran. One particular scene has Duran insulting Leonard (Usher) and his wife (Jurnee Smollett-Bell, TV’s “Underground”) and Leonard admitting that he was foolish to let Duran get in his head which is why he lost the fight and why he desperately wanted a rematch.

His wish was granted in November 1980. The rematch was billed as “Stone vs. Sugar” and held at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.

It was during the eighth round that Duran abruptly quit fighting and supposedly turned to the referee and stated “No Mas,” thus stopping the fight and making Leonard the champ by a technical knockout.

While many of the fight sequences in “Hands of Stone” aren’t sharply choreographed as those from...
 

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OLD SCHOOL VIDEO PICK OF THE MONTH

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...
NEW ON DVD

The Angry Birds Movie <b> (Aug. 16) </b> Title: The Angry Birds Movie (Aug. 16)
Year Released: 2016
Running Time: 97
Production Company: Sony Pictures
Director: Clay Kaytis
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

"THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE"

Sony Pictures took a gamble and cashed in big time when it adapted the popular “Angry Birds” video/computer game into “The Angry Birds Movie" which made more than $400 million worldwide.

First time directors Clay Kaytis (“Frozen” animator) and Fergal Reilly (“Hotel Transylvania” animator) gets the best out of their impressive voice cast that includes: Jason Sudeikis as Red, Josh Gad (Chuck) Maya Rudolph (Matilda), Keegan-Michael Key (Judge Peckinpah) and Peter Dinklage as Mighty Eagle and Leonard the green pig leader (Bill Hader).

“The Angry Birds Movie” is a dazzling and action packed adventure that will hook even the most fidgety kids since it zips through its 97 minutes run time.

The angry birds live on Bird Island. Some have major issues. Red (Sudeikis, "Horrible Bosses 2") is the angriest of the bunch and is prone to outbursts. When he’s not throwing tantrums, he’s responsible for entertaining the newly hatched birds.

His temper gets the best of him and he’s forced to go to the bird court, which is run by the honorable Judge Peckinpah (Keegan-Michael Key, “Keanu”). Judge Peckinpah sentences Red to anger management classes that are taught by Matilda (Maya Rudolph, TV’s “The Grinder”) who was a former “angry” bird, but is now a therapist.

Red is joined by other birds in the class like Chuck (Josh Gad, TV’s “Sofia the First”), a fast yellow bird who has problems with bird cops. Bomb (Danny McBride, TV’s “Animals”), is a generally easy going bird, but he tends to blow up at the slightest provocation. Terence, (Sean Penn, “The Gunman”) is an intimidating, giant red bird that just growls.

The class does little to change Red’s attitude, which in the long run turns out to be kind of a good thing especially when Stella (Kate McKinnon, “Ghostbusters” remake) informs everyone in the class that an unidentified boat is approaching their island.

Red (Sudeikis) isn’t sure what to do and looks to Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage, TV’s “Game of Thrones”) for answers since he’s considered the protector of everyone and he’s the only bird that can fly. The problem is he’s a bit lazy.

Things run afoul when an army of pigs and their leader, Leonard (Bill Hader, “Trainwreck”) get off the boat and claim to come in peace, but they really have ulterior motives.

Just when the birds start to relax and adjust to the pigs, they devise a plan to steal every bird egg on the island.
Realizing they’ve been bamboozled, Red and the rest of the birds--even Mighty Eagle who hasn’t flown in years--get their anger back on and seek revenge on these porky piggies.

“The Angry Birds Movie” is quirky and fun and should resonate with its core fans, but it also has enough charm and raucous appeal to take flight and perhaps win over some new ones as well.
(Recommended).

Keanu <b>(Aug. 2)</b> Title: Keanu (Aug. 2)
Year Released: 2016
Running Time: 98
Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Peter Atencio
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

"KEANU"

Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele of Comedy Central’s “Key & Peele” sketch comedy show have taken their act to the big screen with their latest movie, “Keanu.”

They wring a lot of laughs from this silly action comedy that has them playing a couple of suburban cousins. Clarence Goobril (Key) is happily married to Hannah (Nia Long, “The Best Man Holiday”), but Rell Williams (Peele) has had the blues ever since his girlfriend dumped him.

But when a kitten mysteriously arrives on his doorstep, Rell decides to take him in and even names him Keanu (voice of Keanu Reeves). Rell can’t believe how much he adores this cat. Keanu, by the way, may be the cutest kitten in the history of cinema.

Keanu sure has made a difference in Rell’s life. Even Clarence is happy that the cat has brought him out of his funk.

So when Keanu is stolen from Rell’s house by gangsters during a botched home invasion, the guys have to pose as hardcore drug dealers and thugs to try and retrieve Keanu. The kitten has found a home with Cheddar (Method Man), a major drug dealer who has turned Keanu into his gangsta pet.

Of course half the fun of watching “Keanu” is seeing Clarence and Rell attempting to go from playing these soft suburban guys to hardened criminals since they are so far removed from a gangsta lifestyle.

They wind up in some very dangerous situations yet somehow manage to get out of the tight spots especially those involving Cheddar’s crew. There’s a very funny, extended sequence with Clarence trying to explain to Cheddar’s boys why he rolls in a mini-van and listens to George Michael’s greatest hits. Before long, he has the hardened crew believing Michael is a black dude and has them singing along to “Father Figure” and “Faith” songs.

I was a bit worried that “Keanu” would feel like one long Comedy Central sketch, but despite dragging slightly in the middle, the movie works more than it should.

“Keanu” brings the laughs through Key and Peele’s physical comedy and witty repartee. Even Will Forte brings a little something to the mix as the hip-hop neighborhood druggie.
(Recommended).

Mother's Day <b>(Aug. 2)</b> Title: Mother's Day (Aug. 2)
Year Released: 2016
Running Time: 118
Production Company: Open Road Films
Director: Gary Marshall
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

"MOTHER'S DAY"

The late, great director Garry Marshall’s big, ensemble comedy, “Mother’s Day” is much like his previous holiday themed movies, “New Year’s Eve” and “Valentine’s Day.”

“Mother’s Day” is a sappy, predictable and occasionally funny movie that gets by thanks to its good-looking cast that includes Julia Roberts (“Secret in their Eyes”) and Jennifer Aniston (“We’re the Millers”).

Aniston plays Miranda, a recently divorced, single mom with two young boys. She’s worried that they will be negatively influenced by her ex-husband Henry (Timothy Olyphant, TV’s “Grinder”) and his new, young girlfriend, Tina (Shay Mitchell, TV’s “Pretty Little Liars”).

Meanwhile, Miranda (Roberts) is so busy with her successful home shopping network TV show; she hasn’t had time to reach out to her estranged daughter.

Then there’s Jesse (Kate Hudson, "Richard Pryor: Is it Something I Said?") and her sister Gabi (Sarah Chalke, TV’s “Angie Tribeca”) who have kept their marriages a secret from their bigoted parents (Margo Martindale, TV’s “The Americans”) and Robert Pine (TV’s “Finding Carter”). Jesse and Gabi’s secrets come to light when their parents decide to drive their RV from Texas to see them.

The saddest bunch of this lot is Bradley (Jason Sudeikis, “The Angry Birds Movie”). He’s a widower trying to raise two teen girls. And Mother’s Day is incredibly difficult for them to deal with. He’s not looking to start over or at least that what he keeps telling himself until he crosses paths with Miranda.

All the drama from these various families comes to a head of course on Mother’s Day. There are a lot of moving parts and some of the hijinks and gags that ensue in "Mother's Day" connect with a few laughs while others miss the mark.

Still, Marshall knows just how to pull at the heartstrings with these big movies. They tend to be more Hallmark Card sentimental and seldom rude or crass. Marshall just had a way of getting the best out of his talent and creating really feel good movies. “Mother’s Day” is yet another good example.
(Recommended).

Sing Street <b>(July 26)</b> Title: Sing Street (July 26)
Year Released: 2016
Running Time: 106
Production Company: Weinstein Company
Director: John Carney
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

"SING STREET"

There’s a lot to like in the coming of age music drama, “Sing Street.”

The characters, the music and most everything else is so in sync that it’s hard not to get lost in its nostalgic charm.

Directed and written by John Carney (“Once” and “Begin Again”), “Sing Street” is an edgy, coming of age drama set in Dublin circa 1985.

The movie centers on newcomer Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, who is sensational. He plays a 15-year-old nerdy kid named Cosmo/Conor whose life is disrupted when his parents, (Aiden Gillen, TV’s “Game of Thrones”) and Maria Doyle Kennedy, TV’s Orphan Black”) divorce.

Cosmo/Conor is then forced to transfer from his swanky private school to a gritty, all-boys state Catholic school. He doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the guys and is often bullied and beaten by a low life student.

Surprisingly, Cosmo/Conor gets the nerve to talk to Raphina (Lucy Boynton, “The Blackcoat’s Daughter”), a very attractive girl he meets in the neighborhood. He lies and tells her he sings in a band and asks if she’d like to be in one of their videos.

Naturally, Raphina, an aspiring model, says yes. Surprised by her response, Cosmo/Conor has to get a band together pretty quickly. And with the help of some nerdier ragtag classmates-- who turn out to be very talented musicians--he does. Cosmo/Conor is even fortunate to have an eager music manager named Darren (Ben Carolan) overseeing the group’s every move.

With the help of his stoner, musicologist brother, Brendan (Jack Raynor “Transformers: Age of Extinction”), Cosmo/Conor gets schooled about pop groups like Duran Duran, The Cure, Spandau Ballet and other 1980s bands.

Cosmo/Conor, along with his songwriting classmate, Eamon (Mark McKenna) are soon pouring their hearts and soul into writing songs.

When Cosmo/Conor starts to find his groove, Brendan (Raynor) begins to live vicariously through him and also helps Cosmo/Conor navigate through life and his newfound love.

“Sing Street” director/screenwriter John Carney has his finger on the pulse of youthful, music dramas. While I liked “Once,” I absolutely loved “Begin Again” which starred Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo and Adam Levine.

Much like “Begin Again,” “Sing Street” is genuine and heartfelt and the music is superb. Gary Clark, front man for the '80s Brit band Danny Wilson and member of the group King L and Transister, wrote the catchy little numbers that Cosmo and his bandmates perform in “Sing Street.”

This little ditty will definitely make my “Best Of The Year” list. It really is that good.
(Highly Recommended).
  MOVIE TRIVIA
 
THE THEME FOR THE MOVIE "BRIAN'S SONG" "THE HANDS OF TIME" WAS ORIGINALLY COMPOSED BY WHICH ONE OF THE FOLLOWING MUSICIANS?
HENRY MANCINI
MICHEL LEGRAND
JOHNNY MATHIS
FLOYD CRAMER
 
  "REEL" MOVIE NEWS
2016 CRITICS CHOICE AWARDS By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:

T.J. MILLER TO HOST THE 22ND ANNUAL CRITICS' CHOICE AWARDS DEC. 11 ON A&E

A&E Network, home of the Critics’ Choice Awards for the past two years, today announced a significant shift in the year-end awards season calendar. The 22nd Annual Critics’ Choice Awards show will now be kicking off the season as the first major award show honoring the best in film and television when it airs live on Dec. 11th at 8PM ET/5PM PT immediately following “Critics’ Choice Red Carpet Live” on A&E at 7PM ET/4PT.

N2Entertainment.net will once again be attending as a member of the BFCA and will bring you all the scoops throughout the evening on www.N2Entertainment.net and Facebook.

Comedian T.J. Miller (pictured) will return as host of the star-studded three-hour show celebrating the best in movies and television for the second consecutive year, said Elaine Frontain Bryant, Executive Vice President of Programming for A&E, and Joey Berlin, President of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA).

The show will broadcast live on A&E from the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica.

“T.J.’s tremendous presence and comedic humor complement our mission to make this show bigger and better year after year,” said Frontain Bryant. “We are honored to have him return as we lead the way into award season celebrating the best of television and film.”

“The BFCA and BTJA are very excited about moving the Critics’ Choice Awards from the traditional mid-January date to Dec. 11,” added Berlin. “This is the logical time for the Critics’ Choice Awards to be presented in the vanguard of the awards season. The role of critics is to assess new films and television shows and advise the public when they are initially released. So this new date is actually the most appropriate time for our annual year-end assessment of the finest achievements in both media. Dec. 11 will be the first time all of the year’s major award contenders will be gathered together to celebrate the best of the best.”

T.J. Miller stars in HBO’s Emmy and Critics’ Choice Award-winning series “Silicon Valley,” which will begin shooting its fourth season this fall. The series took home the award for “Best Comedy Series” at last year’s Critics’ Choice Television Awards, and T.J. himself won “Best Supporting Actor.”

T.J. starred opposite Ryan Reynolds in the hit Marvel feature “Deadpool” and his voice can be heard on the big screen in the Academy Award-winning “Big Hero 6” and “How to Train Your Dragon 2.”

Prior to this, T.J. appeared in a number of major studio films including “Transformers 4,” “Cloverfield,” “She’s Out of My League,” “Extract,” “Seeking a Friend for End of the World,” “Our Idiot Brother,” “Yogi Bear 3D,” “Unstoppable,” and “Get Him to the Greek.” Among T.J.’s other projects are the recently wrapped “Office Christmas Party,” in which he stars opposite Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman; Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One,” which is currently filming; and “Gorburger,” a show so strange you have to google it to understand.

T.J. is a nationally touring stand-up comedian, with an hour-long Comedy Central stand-up special (that performed poorly) titled “T.J. Miller: No Real Reason.” He has released the hip-hop/pop/folk music album “The Extended Play E.P.” and hosts the weekly podcast “Cashing in with T.J. Miller” on nerdist.com. T.J. was also named one of Variety’s “Top 10 Comics to Watch,” and Entertainment Weekly’s “Next Big Things in Comedy.”

A&E Networks partnered with the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA) to become the exclusive home to the 2015 “Critics' Choice Movie Awards” and “Critics' Choice Television Awards.” That partnership continues through 2017, with the newly formatted three-hour ceremony that brings together both sets of accolades, and for years to come.

“The Critics' Choice Awards” are bestowed annually by the BFCA and BTJA to honor the finest in cinematic and television achievement.

The BFCA is the largest film critics' organization in the United States and Canada, representing more than 300 television, radio and online critics. BFCA members are the primary source of information for today's film-going public.

BTJA is the collective voice of almost 100 journalists who regularly cover television for TV viewers, radio listeners and online audiences.

Historically, the “Critics' Choice Awards” are the most accurate predictor of the Academy Award nominations.

“The 22nd Annual Critics’ Choice Awards” will be produced by Bob Bain Productions and Berlin Entertainment. BFCA/BTJA are represented by WME and Dan Black of Greenberg Traurig.

ABOUT BFCA:

The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) is the largest film critics organization in the United States and Canada, representing more than 300 television, radio and online critics.

The Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA) is a partner organization to the BFCA and includes TV, radio and Internet journalists who cover television on a regular basis. For more information, visit: www.CriticsChoice.com.

ABOUT A&E NETWORK:

A&E leads the cultural conversation through high-quality, thought provoking original programming with a unique point of view. Whether it’s the network’s distinctive brand of award-winning disruptive reality, groundbreaking documentary, or premium scripted drama, A&E always makes entertainment an art.

The A&E website is located at aetv.com. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/aetv and Facebook at facebook.com/AETV.

Follow the 22nd Annual Critics’ Choice Awards on Twitter and Instagram @CriticsChoice and on Facebook/CriticsChoiceAwards.

Editor’s Note: Some information used in this report obtained from BFCA and A&E press releases.


HIDDEN FIGURES By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:

"HIDDEN FIGURES" TRAILER DEBUTED DURING OLYMPICS"

“Hidden Figures,” the new movie from Theodore Melfi (“St. Vincent”) sure is generating a lot of positive buzz. So much so that it could be a major player come awards season.

The movie chronicles the true story of three brilliant African-American women who worked at NASA in the early 1960s and helped with the mission that sent John Glenn into space.

It’s a story that many people may not be familiar with. “Hidden Figures” stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae as the brains behind the launch. Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst and Jim Parsons also star in the film.

Pharrell Williams is contributing to the movie soundtrack.

“Hidden Figures” is set to blasts off in theaters everywhere January 13, 2017 or perhaps sooner for awards consideration. Stay tuned for more information.

In the meantime, Take A Look At The Trailer For "HIDDEN FIGURES”


del toro By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:

DIRECTOR GUILLERMO DEL TORO BEGINS PRINCIPAL PHOTOGRAPHY ON “THE SHAPE OF WATER”

Fox Searchlight Pictures’ Presidents Stephen Gilula and Nancy Utley announced that principal photography on “The Shape of Water” is underway in Toronto, Canada.

The film stars Academy Award nominee Sally Hawkins (“Blue Jasmine,” and “Happy-Go-Lucky”), Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon (“Revolutionary Road” and “99 Homes”), Academy Award nominee Richard Jenkins (“The Visitor” and “Olive Kitteridge”), Doug Jones (“Crimson Peak” and “Hellboy”), Golden Globe nominee Michael Stuhlbarg (“A Serious Man” and “Steve Jobs”) and Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer (“The Help” and “Gifted”).

Academy Award nominated Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Crimson Peak”) (pictured) will direct and co-write with Vanessa Taylor (“Game of Thrones” and “Divergent”). The film is being produced by del Toro and J. Miles Dale (“The Vow” and “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World”).

"I started working on “The Shape of Water” right around the time we moved to Toronto for “Pacific Rim,” says writer/director del Toro. “Working with Fox Searchlight and being supported by this beautiful group of actors and artists, I feel extremely blessed and brave. It feels like we have an embarrassment of riches on this film. An ensemble of incredible actors who are working at the very top of their craft, a wildly original story from Guillermo's one-of-a-kind mind, and the brilliant team at Fox Searchlight to shepherd us along.”

We’re all very excited to see how far we can take it,” says producer Dale.

“We are thrilled to be working with Guillermo del Toro as he is the ultimate visionary director. He has brought together an amazingly talented cast to bring this brilliant and unique story to life,” added Utley and Gilula.

“The Shape of Water” is an other-worldly story, set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1963. A mysterious and magical journey from Guillermo del Toro. The film stars Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg and Octavia Spencer.

Joining del Toro on the film are long time collaborators costume designer Luis Sequeira (“The Strain” and “Mama, Carrie”), director of photography Dan Laustsen-(“John Wick: Chapter Two” and “Crimson Peak” and “Mimic”), visual effects supervisor Dennis Berardi (“Crimson Peak”) and editor Sidney Wolinsky (“The Strain,” “House of Cards,” “The Sopranos”).

New to the team is production designer Paul Austerberry (“The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” and “Pompeii”). Co-Heads of Production David Greenbaum and Matthew Greenfield and Vice President of Production DanTram Nguyen are overseeing the project for Fox Searchlight Pictures.

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