A MOST VIOLENT YEAR
Rating: About Ratings
Opens: 01/30/2015
Running Time: 125
Rated: R
Cast: Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo, Alessandro Nivola and Albert Brooks.
Crew: Director: J.C. Chandor. Producers: Neal Dodson, Anna Gerb and Kerry Orent. Executive Producers: Glen Basner, Joshua Blum, Jonathan King and Jeff Skoll. Screenwriter: J. C. Chandor. Cinematographer: Bradford Young.
REVIEW: By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

Last year Oscar Isaac garnered critical acclaim for his work in the music drama “Inside Llewyn Davis.” Isaac just keeps plugging away and his efforts are paying off. He will be in the upcoming “Star Wars: Episode VII-The Force Awakens” movie as well as “X-Men: Apocalypse.”

Isaac’s current movie is “A Most Violent Year.”

In the film Isaac plays Abel Morales. Abel considers himself a stand up business man who is trying to solidify his dealings in New York’s heating oil business. He learns quickly that it’s hard to be honest in a dishonest world especially when family cartels are running things.

And no place was more corrupt than New York City in 1981. That year was considered the most violent for rapes and murders in the city's history.

Abel doesn’t have to go far to find illegal activity. He’s surrounded by it. His wife, Anna (Sacramento’s own Jessica Chastain, “Interstellar”) is the daughter of a local mob boss who is cooking the books and doesn’t care that he knows.

His attorney (Albert Brooks) is trying to flesh things out for him, but he’s already been noticed by the assistant D.A. (David Oyelowo, “Selma”) that they are going to bring fraud and extortion charges against his home heating business.

With his options fading fast, Abel is forced to strike a deal with some Hasidic Jews. They’ve investigated a significant amount of money in an oil holding station and expect a healthy return. It all makes for an explosive and combustible showdown.

At the heart of “A Most Violent Year” is a story of a man searching to do the right thing, stay on the right side of the law and keep his dignity intact.

“A Most Violent Year” isn’t a real hard-core gangster/mob movie, but it’s an intensively rich portrait of greed, power and ambition; the American Dream and the lengths some people will go to try and obtain it.

Editor's Note: Be sure to catch my N2Entertainment.net 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.

Take A Peek At This Trailer For "A MOST VIOLENT YEAR."...
 

Rated: PG-13
Opens: 01/30/2015
Black Or White

Rated: PG-13
Opens: 01/30/2015
Project Almanac

Rated: R
Opens: 01/30/2015
Black Sea

Rated: R
Opens: 01/30/2015
Supremacy

Rated: R
Opens: 01/30/2015
Mr. Turner

Rated: R
Opens: 01/23/2015
The Boy Next Door


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 Judge <b>(Jan. 27)</b> Title: The Judge (Jan. 27)
Year Released: 2014
Running Time: 141
Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: David Dobkin
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

"THE JUDGE"

Robert Duvall has earned a “Best Supporting Actor” Oscar nomination for “The Judge.” He has fierce competition in the category from Ethan Hawke (“Boyhood”), Edward Norton (“Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance”), J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”) and Mark Ruffalo (“Foxcatcher”).

“The Judge” from director David Dobkin is a good movie with stirring performances from Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thornton, Vincent D’Onofrio and Robert Downey Jr. who plays his estranged son Hank Palmer.

Hank (Downey Jr.) is an arrogant, high-profile Chicago attorney who has come a long way from his small, hometown of Carlinville, Indiana.

He hasn’t looked back on the place since moving away even though his father, Joseph Palmer (Duvall), a well-respected judge, still lives there. So do Hank’s brothers Dale (Jeremy Strong), who is autistic and Glen, (Vincent D’Onofrio) a former minor league baseball star.

Hank tolerates his brothers, but can’t stand his old man. Plus, Hank’s personal life is rapidly falling apart. He and his wife Lisa (Sarah Lancaster, TV’s “Witches of East End”) are divorcing and fighting over custody over their little girl Lauren (Emma Tremblay, “The Giver”).

Then Hank’s mother dies and he has to head home and confront a host of family issues that he’s ignored and allowed to fester over the years. They resurface and cause all sorts of friction especially between him and his dad.

But when Hank’s father—who has grown forgetful in his old age—is accused of killing a person with his car, a vengeful, prosecuting attorney (Billy Bob Thornton) is eager to take the case and put the judge away.

Hank’s father has so much hatred for him that he doesn’t even want him to represent him. He winds up getting a cut rate lawyer (Dax Shepard) instead. But when things start to heat up and Judge Palmer realizes the severity of what he’s facing, he finally asks Hank to be his lawyer.

The entire process is really meant for Hank and his father to reconnect and try to heal some of the old wounds that have torn the family apart.

There’s also a nice, little side story involving Vera Farmiga as one of Hank’s old flames and her daughter played by (Leighton Meester ) who has a thing for Hank too.

“The Judge” doesn’t always rise to the dramatic heights you’d expect. It’s a bit manipulative at times. Still, when you have the star power of Duvall, Downey and Thornton it’s kind of hard to deny it.
(Recommended).

Fury <b>(Jan. 27)</b> Title: Fury (Jan. 27)
Year Released: 2014
Running Time: 134
Production Company: Columbia Pictures
Director: David Ayer
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

"FURY"

The brutal World War II drama, “Fury” from director David Ayer is as much a hellish depiction of blood, and bullets as it is a character study of the mental fortitude of the five heroic, American soldiers who band together against all odds to battle Nazi Germany.

It’s April 1945 and Don “Wardaddy” Collier (a terrific Brad Pitt) is the commander of an M4A3E8 Sherman tank code named "Fury” that he and his crew call home.

“Wardaddy” has just led his team of men, Boyd “Bible” Swan (Shia LaBeouf, “Nymphomaniac: Vol. I &2”), Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters”), “Trini” Gordo Garcia (Michael Pena, “American Hustle”) and Grady “Coon-Ass” Travis (Jon Bernthal, “The Wolf Of Wall Street”) through a horrific battle that resulted in the loss of their machine gunner. Part of his blown off face remains inside the tank.

War is hell.

Not only do the guys have to worry about their dilapidated tank holding up and their ammo running out, but they also have to contend with their very wet behind the ears machine gunner replacement. His name is Norman Ellison (Lerman). He’s a young, squeaky clean looking recruit who has only been in the Army a few weeks but trained as a 60 words a minute clerk typist. He hasn’t held a gun, much less fired one.

And when Norman is tasked with cleaning up the former gunner’s remains inside the tank, he’s so squeamish that he nearly passes out at the sight.

However, “Wardaddy” decides to bring Norman up to speed especially after he nearly gets them killed by not shooting a Nazi kid he sees hiding in a brush area. “Wardaddy” then forces Norman to shoot a captured SS officer in the head.

After that, it doesn’t take long for Norman to man up. He’s soon drinking, cussing with the rest of the guys, handling the gunner and taking out the enemy like a real veteran.

Director David Ayer’s work includes “Training Day” and “End of Watch.” The latter film starred Michael Pena too and it was also a movie that delved into the psyche of men confronting life and death situations.

With “Fury,” Ayer raises the stakes. He combines the gruesomeness and explosiveness of movies like “Saving Private Ryan” and “Apocalypse Now,” with such tormented characters. Pitt’s is the most low-key but fascinating of the bunch. And as much as you may want to turn away, it’s difficult to not become invested in their reality.

And while “Fury” may not rank among the greatest war movies of all time, it’s still a solid and intensely entertaining cinematic piece of work.
(Recommended).

The Book Of Life <b>(Jan. 27)</b> Title: The Book Of Life (Jan. 27)
Year Released: 2014
Running Time: 95
Production Company: 20th Century Fox
Director: Jorge R. Gutierrez
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

"THE BOOK OF LIFE"

It’s rather surprising that an animated kids movie that centers on death like “The Book of Life” could be so bright, bold, inspiring and dazzling.
Yet, director/screenwriter Jorge R. Gutierrez (Nickeldeon’s El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera”) and producer Guillermo del Toro (“Pacific Rim 2” and “Hellboy 3”) have crafted a truly delightful and funny family movie.

When a group of rowdy school kids get dropped off at a museum, they think it’s just going to be another old, boring field trip. But when they meet the museum guide Mary Beth (voiced by Christina Applegate) and she tells them the story about Mexico’s Day of the Dead ( Mexican Día de los Muertos) and how a Candlemaker (a funny Ice Cube) is responsible for the living and La Muerte (Kate del Castillo, “No Good Deed”) and her shyster husband Xibalba (Ron Perlman, “Hellboy 3”) controls the dead, she has these kids undivided attention.

Xibalba has grown weary of his job in the Land of the Forgotten and would like to hold sway in the Land of the Remembered. So they have a bit of fun with each other. They notice three childhood friends. There’s the sassy and pretty Maria (Genesis Ochoa and older character Zoe Saldana) and a budding musician, Manolo (Emil-Bastien Bouffard and older character Luna Diego, “Cesar Chavez”) and the strong and fearless Joaquin (Elias Garza and older character Channing Tatum).

Xibalba and La Muerte make a bet to see which one of the boys will grow up and marry Maria. La Muerte believes Maria will be swept away by Manolo’s kindness and musicianship. Xibalba wants Joaquin to win, and gives him a medal that enables him to be strong and courageous and even have everlasting life.

Meanwhile, Maria’s strict father General Posada (Carlos Alazraqui, TV’s “Brickleberry”) has sent her to Europe. When she returns for her 18th birthday, Manolo and Joaquin are still going gaga over her.

Maria’s dad really wants her to marry Joaquin since he believes he can protect her and everyone in town from the maniacal Chacal (who killed Joaquin's military father). Yeah, Maria likes Joaquin’s muscles and medals, but she swoons over Manolo’s lovely musical voice and the strumming of his guitar. What’s a girl to do?

Well, Xibalba knows what he needs to do so he won’t lose that bet. He ends up playing a trick on Monolo that sends him to the afterlife and back in order to win the love of Maria.

“The Book of Life” is magical with its 3-D special effects. The kid-friendly jokes hit the mark too.

But it’s when the film launches into a semi-musical complete with pop songs sprinkled with Hispanic flavor like TLC’s “Creep” sung by Diego Luna and Gustavo Santaolalla, Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” (Gabriel Iglesias and Gustavo Santaolalla) and my favorite of all, “Just a Friend” performed by Cheech Marin and Biz Markie, that “The Book of Life” really soars.
(Recommended).

Boyhood <b>(Jan. 6)</b> Title: Boyhood (Jan. 6)
Year Released: 2014
Running Time: 165
Production Company: Paramount Pictures
Director: Richard Linklater
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

"BOYHOOD"

Ever since Richard Linklater’s coming of age drama, “Boyhood” debuted at the Sundance Film Festival last year, and was released in theatres nationwide in August, it has garnered grand platitudes.

It has also become the little IFC movie that could, having grossed more than $42 million and counting. Pretty impressive considering “Boyhood” costs a mere $4 million to make.

No surprise either that it landed on most every film critics “Best Movie of the Year” list and won “Best Picture” at the Critic’s Choice Movie Awards and the Golden Globes. It’s likely to win big at the upcoming Oscars too.

And now that “Boyhood” is out on DVD you can see for yourself if the film is worthy of all its praise.

There’s no question that “Boyhood” is an ambitious and unique piece of filmmaking. Produced over the course of 12 years, audiences see the film’s star Mason (Ellar Coltrane) grow up right before their very eyes.

We see first see Mason when he’s six years old. He lives with his divorced mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette, TV’s CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”) and his bratty sister Samantha (Linklater’s actual daughter Lorelei).

The film follows Mason Jr. through high school, and his interactions along the way with his father Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke, “The Purge”) as well as other family and childhood moments.

“Boyhood’s simplicity and even its rather slow pacing might be off putting to some, but Coltrane, Arquette and Hawke are what really draws you in and gives this movie such vibrancy and meaning.
(Recommended).

Editor’s Note: The “Boyhood” Blu-ray Combo Pack includes a look at the extraordinary work that went into making the film, as well as an in-depth Q&A with Richard Linklater and the cast.
  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
<b>JESSICA CHASTAIN, RON HOWARD AND KEVIN COSTNER TO BE HONORED AT CRITICS' CHOICE AWARDS</b> By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:

The 20th Annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards will air on the A&E Network Jan. 15 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

The show will take place at the Hollywood Palladium and will be hosted by Michael Strahan.

Kevin Costner, Ron Howard and Sacramento’s own Jessica Chastain will be honored at the two-hour, star-studded ceremony for their cinematic achievements.

The inaugural “Critics’ Choice MVP Award,” celebrating one extraordinary actor for her work in several standout movies throughout a single year, will go to Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain.

The Sacramento, California native is being saluted for starring in the films “Interstellar.” “Miss Julie,” “A Most Violent Year” and “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby.” A graduate of the esteemed Juilliard School, Chastain has taken the big screen by storm.

Her many distinguished performances include the critically acclaimed drama, “The Help” as well as a breakout role in the award-winning film, “Zero Dark Thirty.” In 2012, Time magazine featured her as one of the ‘100 Most Influential People in the World.’

Chastain has been nominated for three Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, winning two, for “Best Acting Ensemble” in 2011 for The Help and Best Actress in 2013 for “Zero Dark Thirty.”

Costner, winner of two Academy Award and a Primetime Emmy Award, will be honored with the “Lifetime Achievement Award” celebrating more than three decades of incredible work in film said Joey Berlin, President of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association.

He has starred in the hit movies “The Untouchables,” “Field of Dreams,” “JFK,” “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,”Dances with Wolves,” and “The Bodyguard.” He will also star this month in writer-director Mike Binder’s new drama, “Black or White.”

Costner received a nomination in 2006 for a Critics’ Choice Movie Award for “Best Supporting Actor” for “The Upside of Anger” and in 2012 for a Critics’ Choice Television Award for his role in History’s “Hatfields & McCoys.”

Previous recipients of the Critics’ Choice Lifetime Achievement Award include: Clint Eastwood, Robert Wise and Lauren Bacall.

ABOUT THE LOUIS XIII CRITICS’ CHOICE GENIUS AWARD:

The LOUIS XIII Critics' Choice Genius Award" was established by LOUIS XIII Cognac, considered as the king of Cognac since 1874.

The award honors icons who have demonstrated unprecedented excellence in the cinematic arts and will be presented to multiple award-winning director, producer and actor Ron Howard. His new film “In the Heart of the Sea,” starring Chris Hemsworth, will be released on March 13, 2015.

Howard has seamlessly transitioned from acting in the beloved television series “Happy Days” and “The Andy Griffith Show” to becoming the director of such unforgettable films as “Splash,” “Cocoon,” “Parenthood,” “A Beautiful Mind, Frost/Nixon,” “The Da Vinci Code” and “Apollo 13.”

Throughout his career he has been honored with multiple honors, including two Academy Awards and two Primetime Emmy Awards. Howard has been nominated for three Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, winning one for “Best Director” for “A Beautiful Mind.” Previous winners of the LOUIS XIII Genius Award include: Judd Apatow and Richard Linklater.

ABOUT THE CRITICS’ CHOICE AWARDS:

“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 “The 20th Annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards” are produced by Bob Bain Productions and Berlin Entertainment.

Editor’s Note: The 20th Annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards will broadcast live on A&E from the iconic Hollywood Palladium on Jan. 15 at 9 PM (ET). Photo: Wikipedia. Some information used in this report obtained from BFCA publicity department.(Sean O’Connell).


TOP 20 MOVIES OF 2014 By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:

N2ENTERTAINMENT.NET’S TOP 20 MOVIES OF 2014

Well, it’s that time when movie critics compile their “Top Movies Of The Year” lists. It’s not always an easy task.

And while most critics put together a “Top 10” list, we at N2Entertainment.net dare to be different and prefer a “Top 20” list.

Many of the films that made our cut have garnered plenty of Oscar, Critics' Choice and Golden Globe Awards buzz. Others, however, won’t be shown an ounce of love come awards season. And while that’s unfortunate, we still believe that these are powerful and outstanding films that deserve recognition.

As 2014 slips away, here’s a look at N2Entertainment.net’s list of the “Top 20 Movies” of the year.

1. “SELMA”

2. “DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES”

3. “WHIPLASH”

4. “UNBROKEN”

5. “THE IMITATION GAME”

6. “BEYOND THE LIGHTS”

7. “THE EQUALIZER”

8. “NIGHTCRAWLER”

9. “BELLE"

10. “BEGIN AGAIN”

11. “GET ON UP”

12. “TAKE ME TO THE RIVER”

13. “WILD”

14. “AMERICAN SNIPER”

15. “ST. VINCENT”

16. “THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING"

17. “BIRDMAN”

18. "GONE GIRL”

19. “CALVARY”

20. “BOYHOOD"


MICHAEL STRAHAN BFCA A&E By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:

MICHAEL STRAHAN TO HOST "THE 20TH ANNUAL CRITICS’ CHOICE MOVIE AWARDS" LIVE ON THE A&E NETWORK JAN. 15

The Broadcast Film Critics’ Association, (BFCA) which yours truly is a member of, will present “The 20th Annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards,” live from the Hollywood Palladium on Jan. 15 and airing on the A&E Network at 9 pm ET/ 6 pm PT.

The Critics' Choice Movie Awards will be broadcast the same day the Academy Award nominations are announced.

Michael Strahan has been tapped to host this year’s star-studded BFCA affair. Strahan is an excellent choice. His infectious personality and gap-toothed smile has made him a popular co-host on the highly rated “LIVE with Kelly and Michael” show and the Emmy-nominated “Fox NFL Sunday.” He also serves as special co-host for ABC’s top-rated morning program, “Good Morning America.”

Prior to joining the ranks of the top sports broadcasters in the country, Strahan’s 15-year football career was highlighted by seven Pro Bowl selections, leading the New York Giants to a dramatic victory in Super Bowl XLII. In 2014, Strahan was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the sport’s highest honor.

“I am excited to host a night honoring some of the most talented people in the industry,” said Strahan. “The Critics’ Choice Movie Awards show paves the way for the upcoming awards season, and the best part is that the winners are selected by the very people who make a living watching and reviewing films. It doesn’t get much more competitive than that.”

“We are thrilled to have Michael on board as the host of this special night,” said David McKillop, Executive Vice President and General Manager of A&E Network. “His distinctive charisma, sense of humor and ease in front of a live audience makes him the perfect choice for what is sure to be an unforgettable evening.”

A&E Network has partnered with the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA) to become the exclusive home to the 2015 and 2016 “The Critics’ Choice Movie Awards” and “The Critics’ Choice Television Awards.”

“The Critics’ Choice Awards” are bestowed annually by the BFCA and BTJA to honor the finest in cinematic and television achievement,” said Joey Berlin, President of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. “Historically, the “Critics’ Choice Movie Awards” are the most accurate predictor of the Academy Award nominations.”

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.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “The 20th Annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards” are produced by Bob Bain Productions and Berlin Entertainment. This report originally from Sean O'Connell, BFCA.