Rating: About Ratings
Opens: 04/17/2015
Running Time: 100
Rated: R
Cast: James Franco, Felicity Jones and Jonah Hill.
Crew: Director: Rupert Goold. Producers: Michael Bederman, Alejandra Cardenas, Dede Garner, Anthony Katagas and Jeremy Kleiner. Executive Producers: Brad Pitt and Arnon Milchan. Screenwriters: Rupert Goold, David Kajganich and Michael Finkel, Memoir: True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa." Cinematographer: Masanobu Takayanagi.
REVIEW: By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

Since I am an old school journalist through and through, movies about the journalism profession have always fascinated me. Such is the case with Rupert Goolds, new, crime thriller, “True Story.”

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.

“True Story” is based on Michael Finkel’s 2005 best-selling memoir, “True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa.”

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.

While I’ve always viewed Hill as the jokester from “Superbad,” he surprised me with his star turn in “Moneyball” and impresses once again with “True Story.”

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

Take A Look At This Trailer For "TRUE STORY."...

Rated: G
Opens: 04/17/2015
Monkey Kingdom

Rated: R
Opens: 04/17/2015

Rated: PG-13
Opens: 04/03/2015
Furious 7

Rated: R
Opens: 03/27/2015
It Follows

Rated: PG
Opens: 03/27/2015

Rated: R
Opens: 03/20/2015
The Gunman


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...

Taken 3 <b>(April 21)</b> Title: Taken 3 (April 21)
Year Released: 2015
Running Time: 109
Production Company: 20th Century Fox
Director: Olivier Megaton
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


We’ve seen Liam Neeson get out of some pretty hairy situations in his “Taken” movies, but in “Taken 3” he delivers some real doozies.

Neeson plays ex-government operative Bryan Mills and his “special set of skills” are still sharp as ever. Just ask those who cross him.

When Mills’ ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen, TV’s “Hemlock Grove”) decides to take Bryan up on his invite to come over and have dinner with him things soon spiral out of control.

Lenore still has some feelings for Bryan and Bryan has moments he’d like to have Lenore back too. They are also drawn together occasionally because of their daughter Kim (Maggie Grace, “Taken 2”).

But what’s really keeping the two apart is that Lenore is married—albeit unhappily—to Stuart (Dougray Scott, TV’s ‘Hemlock Grove”), a cold-hearted guy that lacks Bryan’s swagger and a few other things that Lenore admits to Bryan she still fantasizes about. In short, the thrill is gone between her and Stuart. And now Lenore needs Bryan’s shoulder to cry on.

He listens and really wants to get back with Lenore, but tells her that her being married to Stuart complicates matters. She agrees and leaves.

It’s not long before Stuart is ringing Bryan’s doorbell and asking to have a man to man chat with him about Lenore. He demands that Bryan leave her alone and accuses him of even having an affair with her.

Surprisingly, Bryan remains cool and doesn’t use any of his skills to knock some sense upside Stuart's head. Instead he tells Stuart nothing is going on between them.

The next day, when Bryan comes home he finds Lenore in his bed with her throat slashed. And soon as he picks up the knife next to her limp body, the police are busting in on him with guns drawn and demanding he step away.

Just like that Bryan has been framed. But who did it and why? Well, we know Bryan isn’t going out this way and within seconds he’s knocked out the two cops and makes a mad escape.

It’s a good thing that captain Dotzier (a terrific Forest Whitaker, Lee Daniels’ The Butler”) is on the force and overseeing the case because the rest of his detectives are bumbling idiots.

It turns out some Russian mobsters are after someone that Bryan knows quite well. This person owes them major money and he is selling Bryan out to try and save his own tail.

But now that Bryan has seen his ex-wife viciously killed and his daughter falling to pieces over her mother’s death, you know that things aren’t going to end well anyone involved.

“Taken 3” is directed by Olivier Megaton (“Colombiana”) and reunites screenwriters Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen (“Transporter” series) and is pure escapism and loads of fun.

Big Eyes <b>(April 14)</b> Title: Big Eyes (April 14)
Year Released: 2014
Running Time: 105
Production Company: The Weinstein Company
Director: Tim Burton
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


“Big Eyes” is a surprisingly, quirky, funny and imaginative movie from director Tim Burton (“Frankenweenie” and “Dark Shadows”).

The movie, which takes place during the 1950s, is based on the true story of Northern California painter Margaret Keane and her enormous success as a painter.

After her first, failed marriage, Margaret (Amy Adams, “American Hustle”) decides to pack up with her daughter Jane (Delaney Raye) and move to San Francisco which is also where her best friend DeeAnn (Krysten Ritter, TV’s “The Blacklist”) lives.

Margaret initially has a tough time finding work and eventually accepts a job at a furniture story painting pictures on cribs. Hey, it’s a paycheck.
She meets Walter (Christoph Waltz) at an outdoor painting street fair and he’s also a struggling painter who does those dime a dozen scenic portraits.

When someone lowballs her on one of her paintings he tells her not to underestimate her worth. The two strangely hit off, get married and soon are sharing the joys of their work.
Walter loves Margaret’s paintings that she does of kids with big, bold eyes.

Yet others in the art establishment, notably art connoisseurs John Canaday, (Terence Stamp, “The Art of the Steal”) and Ruben (Jason Schwartzman, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”) think that her paintings are too kitschy.

Walter offers to help promote her artwork at a jazz club owned by his friend Enrico Banducci (Jon Polito, TV’s “Modern Family”). It barely gets noticed in the small area he tells him to place them.

Yet, when one potential buyer comes around and assumes Walter is the artist, he doesn’t tell them he’s not. Before long Walter gets all sorts of publicity while pretending to be the painter especially when a newspaper reporter (Danny Huston) begins to write about him.

But the more Walter takes credit for Margaret’s work, the more people want to know about his inspiration behind the paintings. And in order to keep up the ruse, Walter continues to pile lie upon lie, while poor Margaret sits silently in the background.

But over time, Margaret decides to stand tall and tell the truth about Walter. This sets off a firestorm between them and becomes the talk of the town and pretty much seals Walter’s fate.

The courtroom scene with Walter having to actually paint to prove to the judge he did all the portraits is quite funny.

"Big Eyes" is one of those movies that after you’ve seen it, you appreciate just how refreshingly different and charming it is.

A Most Violent Year <b>(April 7)</b> Title: A Most Violent Year (April 7)
Year Released: 2014
Running Time: 125
Production Company: A24 Productions
Director: J.C. Chandor
Review By: By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


In “A Most Violent Year,” Oscar Isaac (“Inside Llewyn Davis.”) plays Abel Morales, 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 Abel 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.

“A Most Violent Year” doesn’t play out like the typical gangster/mob movie. It’s really about a man searching to do the right thing, stay on the right side of the law, keep his dignity intact and try to grab hold of the American Dream.

Wild <b>(March 31)</b> Title: Wild (March 31)
Year Released: 2014
Running Time: 115
Production Company: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Director: Jean-Marc Vallee
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs


During a recent interview with Reese Witherspoon said her movie “Wild”—which she also co-produced--was the most introspective and challenging role she’s portrayed so far in her career.

Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (“Dallas Buyers Club”) and written by Nick Hornby, the biographical drama is based on Cheryl Strayed’s 2012 memoir “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.”

“Wild” chronicles the empowering and remarkable story of Strayed (Witherspoon) whose life was an absolute mess filled with drugs, sex with countless strangers and dead end jobs.

The tipping point for Cheryl came when her mother (the sensational Laura Dern, “The Fault in Our Stars”) died from cancer. That devastating event led Cheryl on a soul-searching trek along the Pacific Crest Trail hiking 1,100 miles through the Mojave Desert, north to the border of Washington State and Oregon to try and cope with her anguish.

Cheryl keeps a journal of her daily routine and everything she encounters from horrendous weather, wild animals and hillbilly hikers with ulterior motives.

Witherspoon totally immerses herself in the role carrying around a 60 pound back pack she refers to as “The Monster” and wearing little if any make-up to convincingly look the part of a haggard and wayward traveler. Although she still looks good even without all the glam.

“This is such a powerful story,” said Reese. “I was drawn to the script because I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be in a situation where you’re so tormented by demons and you feel that you have nowhere else to go. This personal journey is the only thing you believe will make you whole again.”

Although “Wild” is told partly in flashbacks, they don’t muddle the overall flow of the film. In fact, this is perhaps one of the rare instances that the flashback narrative really enhances the story.

We see that Cheryl’s mother was in an abusive relationship yet tells Cheryl the good that came from it was her. Although Cheryl’s marriage ended in divorce, she and her ex-husband Paul (Thomas Sadoski, “John Wick”) are close friends. He seems to be rooting for her to get her act together.

Witherspoon has come a long way from her “Legally Blonde” days. She won the “Best Actress” Oscar for her portrayal of June Carter Cash in the 2005 biopic “Walk the Line” and received “Best Actress” nominations from the Golden Globe Awards, the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards and the Academy Awards for “Wild.” Totally deserving of all.
(Highly Recommended).
Easter Seals By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:

THE EASTER SEALS SPRING GALA TAKES PLACE APRIL 25 IN SAN FRANCISCO is honored to be a guest at the Easter Seals Bay Area 17th Annual Spring Gala, April 25 at the San Francisco Hilton.

The black-tie, yearly fundraising event will feature America’s foremost and accomplished healthcare leader/expert and best-selling author Myrtle Potter.

In addition, R&B singer Brandy Norwood will provide the evening’s musical entertainment. Norwood will then head to Broadway for a star turn in the long-running hit musical, “Chicago.”

The Spring Gala is the local organization’s signature black-tie fundraiser to raise awareness and support for life-changing work with children and adults challenged by disabilities and special needs. These efforts enrich lives in all aspects as well as development to full potential and expanded independence.

The formal affair includes a hosted cocktail reception, silent auction, gourmet dinner, and special remarks by families who benefit from ESBA services.

A significant portion of the funds raised are generated through live and silent auction of exclusive, sought-after items that include:

Super Bowl 50 Package.

Samuel Adams Brewery Tour in Boston including dinner, 3-night hotel stay and airfare.

Del Mar Racetrack Experience, Turf Club seating, 3-night La Jolla hotel spa and airfare.

Cabo San Lucas Ocean View Getaway, 4-night hotel and airfare.

Classic Wrigley Field Rooftop Experience.

Fairmont Chateau Whistler Ski Getaway.

Beachside Bloomingdale's Shopping Spree.

Charleston Luxury Getaway.

Exotic Supercar Driving Experience.

Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, Mexico.

Lake Tahoe Weekend Getaway.

Broadway tickets to see Brandy Norwood in the musical, “Chicago.”

Tickets to the event may be purchased through the organization’s website at For additional information or questions call 925-849-8951.

Editor’s Note: Some information used in this report obtained from the Easter Seal's publicity department.

imax beer and wine By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:


Just in time for the summer blockbusters, the Esquire IMAX Theatre now serves beer and wine. In addition to the tasty spirits, the theatre has also added several new items to the food menu including: pizza, giant pretzels, soup, salad, chicken tenders and locally made Morants’ sausages with all the fixins’.

Movie-goers can now enjoy the total IMAX Experience with good food, great seats and a cold beer or glass of wine.

Esquire IMAX is serving Ruhstaller 1881, Coors Light, Racer 5 and Blue Moon beer on tap and Woodbridge cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay for our wine enthusiasts. Drafts are $9.50 for a premium 16oz beer and $8.50 for domestic beer and wine.

Audiences can enjoy these delicious beers and wines while watching the latest movies at the Esquire IMAX Theatre such as “Furious 7” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron” opening on April 30.

Tickets are on sale at the theatre box office and online at

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

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



The Los Angeles satellite office of Concerned Black Men - a President Obama supported program to increase mentorship in various underserved communities, announced that Activist, Filmmaker, Writer, and Entrepreneur, Nate Parker, (pictured) will serve as the face and ambassador of its Reach Back Campaign.

The Reach Back Campaign is an initiative created to increase the number of skilled and professional mentors to an underserved demographic of youth who participate in CBM's educational workshops. "We are excited to have Nate onboard to help draw attention to the need of professional and skilled mentors within our communities," said Jason McCuller, President of the LA satellite office."

The Reach Back Campaign and Nate Parker partnership will run now through August 15, 2015. During which time, CBM will host several events with Parker in efforts to increase the number of adult professionals to mentor CBM's youth while stimulating funding.

As a man whose life has been shaped by the wisdom and guidance of many mentors, I am proud to be a part of an organization that promotes and facilitates ‘reaching back' in an effort to support and cultivate our youth," Parker said.

This partnership was brought together by Succor - a multi-platform consulting company that serves to highlight social and topical issues. "There is nothing better than sowing into the minds and hearts of young people who are capable of changing the world," said D'Kwon Stackhouse, President of Succor. "Nate's partnership with CBM is the perfect example of what 'Reach Back' consists of," he added.

For more information about how you can become a mentor or to donate to the Reach Back Campaign, please visit For Reach Back Campaign event sponsorship opportunities please contact Succor.


Nate Parker is a globally recognizable activist, filmmaker, writer, and entrepreneur who has starred in films “Non-Stop,” the outstanding, “Beyond the Lights,” “Red Tails,” “The Great Debaters,” “Arbitrage” and “The Secret Life of Bees.”

You can follow Nate Parker on Twitter at @NateParker.


Succor is a multi-platform consulting company that proactively builds campaign and topical awareness by incorporating entertainment. Succor's President, D'Kwon Stackhouse, is a tenured industry professional.


Concerned Black Men (CBM) was founded in 1975 when several Philadelphia police officers sponsored social events for kids at risk to gang violence. Their vision was to fill the void of positive Black male role models in many communities by providing mentors and programs that affirmed the care and discipline that all youth need, while providing opportunities for academic and career enrichment. The philosophy of men offering themselves as positive role models to children has remained our mission for more than a quarter of a century.

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