Rating: About Ratings
Opens: 11/26/2015
Running Time: 132
Rated: PG-13
Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Wood Harris, Phylicia Rashâd and Tony Bellew.
Crew: Director: Ryan Coogler. Producers: Sylvester Stallone, Robert Chartoff, William Chartoff, Kevin King Templeton, David Winkler and Irwin Winkler. Executive Producer: Nicolas Stern. Screenwriters: Ryan Coogler (Screenplay and story), Sylvester Stallone and Aaron Covington. Cinematographer: Maryse Alberti.
REVIEW: By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

With his latest movie, “Creed,” director/screenwriter Ryan Coogler not only resurrects the “Rocky” franchise for nostalgic fans, but skillfully brings a fresh take to the storied boxing drama that blazes its own trail for a new generation.

That’s not an easy feat for a veteran director to accomplish much less an up and coming one. But, Coogler—who made his debut with the impressive 2013 indie movie, “Fruitvale Station”—deftly juggles this balancing act with resounding success.

Coogler co-wrote “Creed” with Aaron Covington (“Potter’s Field”) and it’s the first film to feature the Rocky Balboa character that wasn’t written by Sylvester Stallone.

Still, “Creed”—which Stallone produced and stars in--has all the underdog drama and inspiration of the previous “Rocky” movies.

In “Creed,” Michael B. Jordan, (“Fruitvale Station”) stars as Adonis Johnson, a troubled young man who never knew his legendary father Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) because he was born after his dad was killed in the boxing ring.

Adonis has endured a hard-knock life. He grew up in group homes and learned to use his fists to communicate and survive. Fortunately, Adonis is saved from his destructive lifestyle when Apollo Creed’s widow, Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad, TV’s “Sofia the First”) decides to take him to live with her at her fabulous mansion.

It’s a life of luxury for Adonis. As much as he comes to respect and appreciate what Mary Anne has done for him, Adonis’ heart is in the ring and not behind some desk in an office cubicle.

Adonis wants to box. Adonis needs to box. It’s in his blood. Something is calling him and he has to pursue and fulfill the need. He moves from Los Angeles to Philadelphia searching for the man, Rocky Balboa (Stallone) who was his father’s foe and friend.

Adonis believes that if he can get Rocky to train him, he’d have a legitimate shot at forging his own path yet carry on his father’s legacy.

Adonis finally catches up to Rocky. He’s at his old stomping ground, “Adrian’s restaurant, working like he’s done for many years now. Worn down, but still clinging to the memory of the wife he dearly loved, Rocky tells Adonis he has no interest in training him. Those days are over.

But when Adonis starts asking questions about Rocky’s fights with Apollo Creed, he’s curious how this kid knows so much. Once Adonis tells Rocky that Apollo Creed was his dad, it changes things a bit. Still reluctant, Rocky finally agrees to work with Adonis under his terms.

The two forge a friendship and are soon going through some of Rocky’s old school training methods in preparation for boxing matches in Mexico, Philly and culminating with an epic match in London that will pit Adonis against British boxing champ “Pretty” Ricky Conlan (pro boxer Tony Bellew). Cue the Bill Conti “Gonna Fly Now” Rocky theme song.

Ricky is a real loud-mouth who believes Adonis has no business getting in the ring and that he’s simply looking for quick fame and trying to live off his father’s name.

Naturally, Adonis is out to prove Ricky wrong.

Rocky isn’t the only one in Adonis’ corner. The young fighter meets and falls for a lovely and talented singer/musician named Bianca (Tess Thomspon, (“Selma”). Bianca convinces Adonis that he shouldn’t shun or be afraid to embrace his family name.

While Coogler does a remarkable job with the film’s boxing sequences, especially the climatic London bout, what gives “Creed” such a one-two punch, is the winning storyline.

“Creed” is as much about Rocky’s very convincing relationship with Adonis as it is about boxing. Stallone is better than ever and still conveys his rugged swagger, but there’s also a warmth and sincerity about his character that makes him even more likeable this time...

Rated: R
Opens: 11/26/2015

Rated: PG-13
Opens: 11/20/2015

Rated: PG-13
Opens: 11/20/2015
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

Rated: R
Opens: 11/20/2015

Rated: R
Opens: 11/20/2015

Rated: PG-13
Opens: 11/13/2015
Love The Coopers


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...

Amy <b>(Dec.1)</b> Title: Amy (Dec.1)
Year Released: 2015
Running Time: 128
Production Company: A24 Studios
Director: Asif Kapadia
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


In director Asif Kapadia’s illuminating biopic “Amy,” the legendary Tony Bennett speaks highly of the British pop superstar Amy Winehouse.

When asked about Winehouse’s impact on music, Bennett states that had Winehouse lived, she would be mentioned alongside Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald. That’s quite a compliment.

In addition, Bennett says that “life teaches you how to live it if you’re lucky enough to live that long.”

Winehouse had much to learn, but her life ended at age 27. The six-time Grammy Award-winning, neo-soul singer died from alcohol poisoning, July 23, 2011.

The talented, singer/songwriter’s fascinating, yet tragic life story is intimately portrayed in “Amy.” The film stands out from other biopics because it doesn’t just present talking heads giving testimonials, but also treats audiences to plenty of previously unseen footage of Winehouse.

Winehouse’s self-destructive lifestyle of drugs, alcohol and toxic people in general, all contributed to her demise.

We first see the singer as a shy teen at home singing just for the love of music. And we find out about Winehouse’s relationship with her mother and workaholic father. Winehouse says she wishes her parents had been stricter with her rather than letting her do anything she wanted.

Winehouse spent a lot of time with her two best friends, Juliette Ashby and Lauren Gilbert. They tried to keep her grounded, but Winehouse’s abusive behavior eventually pushed them away too.

There is also insightful commentary from Winehouse’s producers Salaam Remi, Mark Ronson, her first manager and close friend Nick Shymansky and rapper Mos Def. They all talk about how they had never met and worked with anyone so young and enormously talented as Winehouse.

Winehouse’s 2006 Island Records CD “Back to Black” took the world by storm. It featured the monstrous hit, “Rehab.” Winehouse won five Grammys for “Back to Black” including: “Best New Artist, “Record of the Year (“Rehab”) and “Song of the Year” (“Rehab”).

But the pressure of fame and fortune proved too much for her to handle. She became more depressed. Despite stints in rehab, she turned to drugs and alcohol once again and with her husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, spiraled even more out of control.

Winehouse completely hit rock bottom when she appeared at her concert on stage in Belgrade stoned out of her mind and couldn’t sing a note.

When you see just how recklessly Winehouse lived, it’s a wonder she made to her 27th birthday.

“Amy” captures the sadness along with the magnificence of Winehouse’s artistry. It is one of the best musical biopics this year.
(Highly Recommended).

Ricki And The Flash<b>(Nov. 24)</b> Title: Ricki And The Flash(Nov. 24)
Year Released: 2015
Running Time: 101
Production Company: Tri-Star Pictures
Director: Jonathan Demme
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


Meryl Streep discovers her inner rocker in the dramedy, “Ricki and the Flash.”

Streep stars as Ricki Rendazzo, a.k.a Linda Brummell who has tired of her family life and decides to do something she’s always wanted. Ricki leaves her wealthy and workaholic husband, Pete (a terrific Kevin Kline, “Last Vegas”), and kids Julie (Streep’s actual daughter Mamie Gummer, the upcoming movie TV’s “Manhattan”), Josh (Sebastian Stan, “Ant-Man”) and Adam (Nick Westrate, TV’s “TURN: Washington’s Spies”) so she can pursues her lifelong dream of fronting a rock ‘n’ roll band.

Ricki settles in Los Angeles and forms a tight-knit group which consists of drummer Joe Vitale, the late great bassist Rick Rosas, Parliament Funkadelic keyboardist, Bernie Worrell and her lead guitarist boyfriend Greg (Rick “Jessie’s Girl” Springfield).

Ricki and the Flash gig regularly for a loyal and appreciative crowd at a small bar/club in Tarzana, California. They belt out everything from Tom Petty’s “American Girl,” and Bruce Springsteen’s “My Love will Not Let You Down, to Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” and Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away.”

Although Ricki and her band are having the time of their lives, they aren’t getting rich from their labor of love. That’s why Ricki has to work by day at an upscale grocery store to make ends meet.

Just when it seemed that Ricki and Greg were finally starting to take their relationship to the next level, a call from Pete (Kline) puts everything on hold.

Julie (Gummer) is falling apart because her husband is divorcing her. Pete doesn’t know what to do and insists Ricki fly in to Indianapolis to help manage the situation. She can barely scrape up enough money for a plane ticket, but does. Ricki has to ask Pete to pay for her cab fare when she arrives at his house. Staying at a hotel is out of the question especially since Pete has a mansion.

Ricki knows she will have to spend time with her family. She's not looking forward to it since Julie and her brothers blame her for abandoning them when they needed her most.

It takes some awkward family moments to try and ease all the years of pain and disappointment like a family dinner at a restaurant where tempers fly and secrets come to light. There's also a testy confrontation between Greg’s new wife, Maureen (Audra McDonald, TV’s “The Good Wife”) and Ricki.

Directed by Jonathan Demme (“Neil Young Journeys”) and written by Diablo Cody (“Juno”), “Ricki and the Flash” has its share of contrived moments, but overall, the movie—even with its histrionics-- works thanks largely to Streep, Kline and Springfield who anchor it along with a stellar supporting cast and a rocking soundtrack.

The Blu-ray DVD features some deleted scenes and a featurette titled “Rediscovering Rick Springfield.”

Shaun The Sheep Movie <b>(Nov. 24)</b> Title: Shaun The Sheep Movie (Nov. 24)
Year Released: 2015
Running Time: 86
Production Company: Lionsgate Films/Aardman
Director: Mark Burton and Richard Starzak
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


Now here is a movie that parents and kids can gather around this holiday season and thoroughly enjoy. “Shaun the Sheep Movie” is 86 minutes of irresistible goofy and giggly fun.

The stop-motion Claymation film is from Aardman Animation (“Chicken Run” and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit”). It’s based on a popular British TV series. Shaun the Sheep debuted in the Oscar-winning “Wallace & Gromit” short “A Close Shave” and has since become an audience favorite with a successful long running TV series.

Now, Shaun the Sheep is front and center in this inventive and clever movie in which none of the animals/characters talk—at least not in any discernible way—but their grunts, groans and burps just add to the film’s bustling charm.

Shaun (Justin Fletcher) lives on Mossy Bottom Farm along with his fellow cute and bugged-eyed sheep, some pigs, chickens, a megaphone toting rooster, a bull and a very organized farmer (John Sparkes) who has a loyal dog named Bitzer.

Shaun is bored with his daily grind. Thanks to the rooster, everyone wakes up at the same time and goes through their routine of being counted, fed and trimmed by the Farmer. So when Shaun sees an advertisement about taking a “Day Off” on a bus passing through, he starts thinking how nice it would be to get away and do something completely out of the ordinary.

The rest of the flock is on board and help him carry out his crazy little scheme of sneaking away. They lull Farmer into counting sheep until he gets sleepy and passes out.

Then they manage to place him in an old trailer. So far so good. But somehow the trailer becomes unhitched and goes careening down a hill toward the Big City with Bitzer giving chase for a while. The trailer comes to an abrupt stop which awakens Farmer. As soon as he opens the door and steps out, he’s knocked in the head and now has amnesia.

What was supposed to be a day of partying and celebration for the sheep turns somber fairly quickly. They discover they can’t take care of themselves nearly as well as Farmer did. Plus, the three, fat, little pigs have eaten nearly all their food and have run roughshod over the place.

Shaun decides to sneak on a bus, head to the Big City, find Farmer who is hospitalized and bring him back home. The rest of the sheep follow suit and make their way there too.

When they all meet up with Farmer, he’s working as a hairdresser putting those shearing skills to good use and doesn’t recognize them. When passersby report they’ve spotted sheep roaming around town they call their animal catcher Trumper (Omid Djalili,“Gladiator”).

This prompts Shaun and the rest of the sheep to go undercover as humans wearing clothes they snag from a thrift store. It’s one of many hilarious moments.

Self/less<b> (Nov. 10)</b> Title: Self/less (Nov. 10)
Year Released: 2015
Running Time: 117
Production Company: Gramercy Pictures
Director: Tarsem Singh
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


“Self/less” arrived and left theatres without much fanfare. Hopefully the sci-fi thriller will find some traction with audiences now that it’s on DVD because it’s really good.

Directed by Tarsem Singh (“Immortals”), this body swapping drama also stars Ben Kingsley. He plays Damien Hale, a New York billionaire who is dying of cancer. Thanks to a mysteriously, brilliant scientist named Albright (Matthew Goode, TV’s “The Good Wife”), Damien may get a second chance at life.

Albright runs a runs a clandestine biogenic operation. It gives the very wealthy a way out of mortality through a revolutionary body transfer process known as “Shedding.”

For a cool $250 million Damien gets a do over. He has a new body, a new memory and a completely new life. Is it worth it? Considering the alternative, it sure seems like it.

So Damien goes through the procedure and trades in his road-weary body for a newer, sleeker model that’s grown from premium lab cells.

His only regret before taking the leap is that he wasn’t able to make peace with his idealistic and argumentative daughter Claire (Michelle Dockery of “Downton Abbey”). She heads a non-profit agency and refuses to take a penny of his money for support.

Damien fakes his death in front of his business partner Martin (a very good Victor Garber, TV’s “The Flash”). And when Damien awakes from the procedure there’s a new man in the mirror. His name is Eddie Kidner/Young Damien (Reynolds). He now has to adjust from his New York state of mind to living in New Orleans.

While in New Orleans, Young Damien/Eddie meets a guy named Anton (Derek Luke, TV’s “Empire” and “Rogue”) and schools him a bit during a friendly pick- up basketball game.

Anton is a bit too friendly too fast and should have been a red flag for Young Damien/Eddie.

It’s not long before Young Damien/Eddie starts having these weird headaches and strange flashbacks. It’s a good thing he got a week’s worth of pills from Dr. Albright. Or is it? There’s something happening here. What it is isn’t exactly clear.

When it becomes clearer and Young Damien/Eddie starts connecting the dots, he severs his ties with Albright. And soon he meets a widow named Madeline (Natalie Martinez, TV’s “Secrets and Lies”), her adorable, little daughter Anna (Jaynee-Lynee Kinchen).

This is when “Self/less” becomes a twisty and exciting actioner. Luke makes a convincing villain. Reynolds has never looked better and holds his own during some impressive fight sequences.


A&E Networks, home of “The Critics’ Choice Television Awards” and “The Critics’ Choice Movie Awards” for the past year, will combine the two shows into one star-studded three-hour event which will air live on A&E, Lifetime and LMN on January 17, 2016 at 8PM ET/PT immediately following a live Red Carpet show at 7PM ET/PT. will attend the star-studded affair which will take place at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California and give you the scoop on many of the celebs and their upcoming projects.

Together, the network and its continued partnership with the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA) and the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) will showcase the achievements of some of the biggest names in television.

The announcement was made jointly by Elaine Frontain Bryant, Executive Vice President of Programming for A&E, and Joey Berlin, BFCA/BTJA President.

“The 21st Annual Critics’ Choice Awards” Last year’s movie and television award shows were hosted by Michael Strahan and Cat Deeley respectively, joined by the industry’s biggest stars. The host for this year’s combined award show will be announced at a later date.

“We are thrilled to bring the two Critics’ Choice Awards shows into one super-show,” said Berlin. “At a time when there are so many great movies and television shows to choose from–and so many spectacular performances–it is logical, appropriate and useful for America’s leading film and television critics and reporters to collectively honor the best of the best at the start of the new year. Bringing all these stars together in one room is going to create an incredible night of entertainment.”

“Combining the television and film communities within one telecast of ‘The Critics’ Choice Awards’ even further elevates this star-studded gala event,” said Frontain Bryant. “We’re thrilled to be able to give viewers an up close look at so much talent together under one roof with this unique and enhanced awards show.”

“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 almost 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 Movie Awards” are the most accurate predictor of the Academy Award nominations.

“The 21st Annual Critics’ Choice Awards” will be produced by Bob Bain Productions and Berlin Entertainment. BFCA/BTJA were represented by WME and Dan Black of Greenberg Traurig on this deal.

ABOUT THE BFCA/BTJA The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) is the largest film critics organization in the United States and Canada, representing almost 300 television, radio and online critics. The Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA) is a partner organization to the Broadcast Film Critics Association. BTJA includes TV, radio and Internet journalists who cover television on a regular basis. For more information, visit:

ABOUT A&E: Now reaching more than 96 million homes, A&E is the home to quality original content that inspires and challenges audiences to “Be Original.” A&E offers a diverse mix of uniquely immersive entertainment ranging from the network’s original scripted series, including “Bates Motel” and “Damien” to signature non-fiction franchises, including “Duck Dynasty,” “Wahlburgers” and “Storage Wars.”

The A&E website is located at Follow us on Twitter at and Facebook at For more press information and photography, please visit us at

Editor’s Note: Don’t forget to mark your calendars and tune in to the “Critics Choice Awards” airing Jan. 17 on the “A&E Network,” “Lifetime” and “LMN.” It’s going to be a heck of show.

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.