Arts & Culture

Movies: "Fruitvale Station"

Movies: "Fruitvale Station"

Arriving on the heels of the George Zimmerman trial, this is a fact-based movie about another horrific incident: the fatal shooting of an unarmed, young black man by an Oakland, California transit cop.  It happened on the morning of New Year’s Day, 2009, and sparked protests and violence around the San Francisco area. 

Michael B. Jordan (who played Wallace in “The Wire”) is Oscar Grant, a 22-year old with a loving girlfriend, Sophina (Melonie Diaz) and a cherubic daughter, Tatiana (7-year old Ariana Neal).  But Oscar is no saint.  When we first encounter him, Sophina is furious over an affair he’s had with another woman.  He’s just lost his job at a supermarket for chronic lateness, and (speaking of chronic) he’s got an ounce of marijuana to peddle.

Movies: "The To Do List"

Movies: "The To Do List"

 

What’s not to like about Aubrey Plaza?  Her deadpan role as April Ludgate on “Parks & Recreation” is second only to Nick Offerman’s meat chomping Ron Swanson among the supporting players of that great cast.  She was also good in last year’s quirky time-travel movie, “Safety Not Guaranteed.”

 

But unfortunately, she just doesn’t have the chops to carry this teen sex comedy to a higher level than most others.

 

Movies: "20 Feet from Stardom"

Movies: "20 Feet from Stardom"

Do you know these names:  Lisa Fischer, Patti Austin, Stevvi Alexander, Claudia Lennear or Tata Vega?  If you love rock ‘n’ roll or soul music, you should.  They’re the sweet-sounding background singers who’ve provided depth and harmony to virtually every hit record of the past forty years, performing alongside everyone from Elvis Presley to Michael Jackson.

Now they’re finally getting their due in an absolutely sensational movie titled “20 Feet from Stardom.”

Does Social Media Lead Directly to Sales?

Does Social Media Lead Directly to Sales?

I think many of us are past the point of considering social media a ‘new’ marketing channel. Businesses of all kinds are participating on Facebook, Twitter and more.

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Movies: "The Bling Ring"

Movies: "The Bling Ring"

 

“Let’s go to Paris.  I want to rob.”

 

When misfit high schooler Marc (Israel Broussard) gets this text on his phone, he knows just where he and his new best friend Rebecca (Katie Chang) are headed.  Not to gay Paree, but to the home of Paris Hilton, who conveniently leaves the front door key under the mat.  There, surrounded by adulatory photos of Ms. Hilton herself, they will help themselves to her high-fashion clothing, shoes, accessories and jewelry, and maybe twirl around the stripper pole in the model’s “nightclub room.”

Movies: "Despicable Me 2"

Movies: "Despicable Me 2"

You’ve got to love the fact that “Despicable Me 2” unhorsed “The Lone Ranger” at the box office.  Disney -- the godfather of animated movies -- trumped by an animated movie!  (Of course, the mouse house has also had a number of hits this summer, thanks in large part to its Marvel Comics franchise.)

I loved the original “Despicable Me” with its soft-hearted villain Gru (Steve Carell), whose plot to steal the moon is undone by three cute li’l orphan girls.  (I’ve been wondering about his name:  is it short for Gruesome, or perhaps a sly reference to the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service?  Certainly, Gru’s odd accent has more than a hint of Russkya in it, along with maybe a little Yiddish.)

Movies: "The East"

Movies: "The East"

So here’s a low-key thriller about eco-terrorism with none of the usual car chases, explosions and gruesome murders.  

Sounds refreshing, doesn’t it?  What makes it even more unusual is that it was produced by the brothers Scott (Ridley and Tony), best known for their high-impact action movies (“Black Hawk Down,” “Man on Fire,” etc.).