Big Hero 6 (PG for action, peril, crude humor and mature
themes) Animated family comedy inspired by the Marvel Comics series about a 14
year-old inventor (Ryan Potter) who teams with his inflatable robot (Scott
Adsit) and his close friends to solve a string of crimes. Voice cast includes
Jamie Chung, T.J. Miller, Genesis Rodriguez, Damon Wayans, Jr., Maya Rudolph
and James Crowell.
Interstellar (PG-13 for intense action and brief profanity)
Post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller about an outer space expedition undertaken
through a wormhole by scientists searching for a habitable planet in the wake
of climate change that has left Earth devastated by drought and famine.
Ensemble cast includes Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine,
Jessica Chastain, Ellen Burstyn, John Lithgow, Casey Affleck, David Oyelowo,
Topher Grace, Bill Irwin and William Devane.
The Theory of Everything (PG-13 for suggestive material and
mature themes) Bittersweet biopic focused on the relationship of physicist
Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) and wife Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones), the friend
of his sister (Charlotte Hope) he met while they were students at Cambridge in
the Sixties. With Emily Watson, Charlie Cox and Simon McBurney.
INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS
21 Years: Richard Linklater (Unrated) Reverential biopic
chronicling the first 21 years in the career of indie filmmaker Richard
The Better Angels (PG for mature themes and brief smoking) Abraham
Lincoln Braydon Denney) biopic about how a challenging Indiana childhood marked by traumas and
tragedy helped shaped the future president for greatness. With Diane Kruger,
Jason Clarke and Brit Marling.
A Prayer for Rain (Unrated) 30th anniversary retrospective
revisiting the Union Carbide industrial accident in India which claimed over 10,000
lives in just a few hours. (In English and Hindi with subtitles)
Death Metal Angola (R for profanity) Musical documentary
about the heavy metal scene in war-ravaged Angola,
the richest country in Africa in terms of
Elsa & Fred (PG-13 for brief profanity) Shirley Maclaine
and Christopher Plummer co-star in the title roles of this remake of the 2005
Argentine romantic comedy about a widower who gets a new lease on life when he falls
in love with a free-spirited septuagenarian. Cast includes Marcia Gay Harden,
Chris Noth, George Segal and James Brolin.
Jessabelle (PG-13 for terror and violence) Sarah Snook
portrays the title character in this haunted house flick about a young woman
who returns to Louisiana
to recuperate in her family’s waterfront mansion after a car accident, only to
come face-to-face with a demonic spirit that’s been awaiting her return. With
Mark Webber, Joelle Carter and Amber Stevens.
A Merry Friggin’ Christmas (PG-13 for profanity and
violence) Dark comedy about an estranged father (Robin Williams) and son (Joel
McHale) who grudgingly share an eight-hour road trip to retrieve forgotten
Christmas presents. Support cast includes Candice Bergen, Wendi
McClendon-Covey, Clark Duke, Oliver Platt and Lauren Graham.
National Gallery (Unrated) Art documentary giving a guided
tour around a- London’s
museum housing thousands of masterpieces painted between the 13th
and 19th Centuries.
On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter (PG for crashes, peril and
mild epithets) International motorcycle racing is the subject of this
documentary inspired by another on the same sport released in 1971.
Open Windows (Unrated) Stalker thriller about a frustrated
fan (Elijah Wood) who starts monitoring an actress’ (Sasha Grey) every move
over the internet after she refuses to honor a dinner date won
in a contest. With Neil Maskell, Nacho Vigalondo and Ivan Gonzalez. (In English
and Spanish with subtitles)
Pelican Dreams (Unrated) Ornithological documentary,
directed by Judy Irving (The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill), follows a wayward
pelican from the Golden Gate Bridge to a San
Francisco rehab facility.
Sex Ed (Unrated) Haley Joel Osment stars in this romantic
comedy as a health teacher in an inner city school who finds himself falling in
love with the older sister (Lorenza Izzo) of one of his students (Kevin
Hernandez). With Retta Sirleaf, Laura Harring, Abby Elliott and George
Virunga (Unrated) Endangered species documentary chronicling
conservationists’ efforts to save the last of the gorillas in the midst of a
civil war over the Congo’s natural resources. (In English, French and Swahili
The Way He Looks (Unrated) Homoerotic romance drama about a
blind teenager (Ghilherme Lobo) who develops unexpected feelings for the new
kid in town (Fabio Audi). With Tess Amorim, Julio Machado and Selma Egrei. (In Portuguese with subtitles)
went into the Countee Cullen library… and saw a book titled: The Harlem
Renaissance: A Historical Dictionary for the Era… I peeked inside to see if
[it] had any information about my grandfather, Leonard Harper…
asked the librarian… and was told to walk around the corner to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture… I
rushed to the Schomburg
Center and was able to
find so much material about my grandfather that it took me decades to complete
discovery of my family heritage by way of my grandfather was like opening up a
treasure chest of precious metals.”
from the Introduction (page ix)
Have you ever heard
of the late Leonard Harper? Neither had I, before reading this reverential
biography chronicling his fascinating life. A seminal contributor to the Harlem
Renaissance, the versatile talent once dubbed the “Father of Cabaret” belongs
right up there in the pantheon of the era’s icons along with the likes of
Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston.
Rhythm for Sale was written by his grandson, Dr. Grant
Harper Reid, who dedicated decades of his life to this labor of love. We learn
from its pages that Leonard was born in 1889 in Birmingham, Alabama
where, by the age of 4, he was already performing for pennies on the street dressed
as a pickaninny.
And by the time he
passed away prematurely of a heart attack during rehearsals for a show set to
debut in Times Square early in 1943, he had amassed an impressive resume that
any entertainer might envy. However, this encyclopedic is much more than just a
litany of Harper’s considerable achievements, for it also recreates in vivid
fashion, the periods he participated in.
importantly, in a straight no chaser style, it delves deeply into the psyches
of both its subject and many of his African-American colleagues. For, while
other history books merely stick to the surface by focusing just on the singing
and dancing, here we have a sobering exploration which examines their feelings
Kudos to Dr. Reid for
this overdue tribute belatedly recognizing his truly remarkable grandfather.
Osment skyrocketed to fame at the age of 11 with his unforgettable, Academy
Award-nominated performance in M. Night Shyamalan’s ghost thriller, The
Sixth Sense. His portrayal of Cole, the little boy who uttered the iconic
line, "I see dead people," left an indelible impact on audiences, as
the picture grossed over $672 million worldwide.
Osment went on to co-star alongside Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt in the Warner
Brothers drama Pay It Forward. And a year later, he starred opposite
Jude Law in Steven Spielberg’s 2001 sci-fi drama, A.I. which earned over
$235 million worldwide.
Here, he talks
about his life and career, and about his upcoming movie, a comedy called Sex
Williams: Hi Haley, thanks for the interview.
Haley Joel Osment:
Hey, how’s it going, Kam?
Great! I really enjoyed Sex Ed. Before we start, I just wanted to say that I
think you and my son have some mutual friends. He’s your age and went to Princeton. He said you were on a campus a lot when he was
Yeah, one of my closest friends went to Princeton, so I would come out to visit
him occasionally, which was kinda nice because it was such a short train ride
away from New York City.
It was always great to get out to a non-urban environment.
I’ll be mixing my own questions in with some from readers. Harriet
Pakula-Teweles asks: How did
attending the Tisch
School at NYU help you
prepare for your adult career in film and theater? Is going to college
something you would recommend to other child stars?
I think college is a good idea for most everybody, but it depends on the person
and on what you want to be doing when you turn 18, whether you want to go away
to school or if acting’s something you want to jump on immediately.
Harriet also asks: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake
you'd like to star in?
No, I would like to see more original films than remakes at
this time. [Laughs]
Children’s book author Irene Smalls asks: What interested you in Sex Ed?
It’s a film that [director] Isaac [Feder] and [screenwriter] Bill [Kennedy]
have been trying to make since about 2007. I loved the script when I first read
it in 2010, a funny fish-out-of-water comedy. Over the next four years we had a
couple of near misses trying to get it made. Then, out of the blue, we got some
money to shoot the movie in Florida,
which turned out to be a blessing in disguise, since the location added a lot
of flavor to the film.
Irene also asks: What do you want people to get from your
performance? Are you trying with this comedic turn here to get out from under
the shadow of your iconic performance in The Sixth Sense?
I’m always just interested in whatever the best scripts are. This was just a
bit of fortunate, coincidental timing. I really enjoy doing comedies, although
I didn’t get to do a lot of them as a kid. I was on some network sitcoms. But
it’s a really fertile time for comedy right now on a variety of platforms.
Did you base your character, Ed Cole, on anybody?
Not on anyone in particular. He was originally based on a friend of Isaac and
Bill’s who had been teaching English in Korea. But I never met that person,
and wanted to create Ed from the ground up as his own man.
What message do you think people will take away from the film?
Well, we didn’t set out to make a polemic. Where we sort of land is a mixture
of respect for those parents who know what they want their children’s sex
education to be like, and the reality that the information should be available
for other kids whose parents are unable to inform them about the subject.
Aaron Moyne asks: At what age will you
tell your kids about the proverbial birds and the bees?
Oh gosh, I don’t know. Kids are, at the very least, a long way off for me. I
don’t know that there’s a set age. I guess it depends on the maturity level.
Sangeetha Subramanian asks: How do you cope with those hard days on the set?
It can be grueling, particularly with an independent film like Sex Ed, when you
have really long work days because you’re shooting the whole film in a short
amount of time. It can get a bit tiring when you’re in virtually every shot of
every scene. But having done some theater in New York, where you have to keep
yourself fresh for eight performance a week, helps with endurance and keeping your
Environmental activist Grace Sinden asks: Aside
from your own work, what are you enjoying watching nowadays?
Well it’s a great time for television, along with Amazon Prime, HBO Go, and
other ways we catch our shows. ! I’m a big fan of Veep, Game of Thrones, It’s
Always Sunny in Philadelphia,
and Breaking Bad, which ended last year. As far as movies, I’m excited about
Inherent Vice which opens in December, and I’m also looking forward to seeing
Birdman which is supposed to be pretty cool.
Grace was also wondering whether there are any particular actors or directors
you have not worked with yet but would like to?
Certainly, Paul Thomas Anderson, in terms of directors. I’m a big fan of all his
films. When it comes to actors, it’s hard to pick just one.
Finally, Grace says: Early acting success often leads to a
distorted perception of what a good life is. Do you feel you learned any
important life lessons in this regard from your own early success in movies and
I think one thing that was really important, particularly in this industry
which is so unpredictable and changing in profound ways, and I guess is contracting
on the film side, was never to expect that it would always be a boom time. I
was really lucky to be in such high-profile movies early in my career. But part
of the reason for going to college was to make sure that my motivation for
being in the industry was to do quality work, and not to be counting on giant
blockbusters. In that regard, I am prepared for whatever the future holds.
What was it like to be nominated for an Oscar at 11 years of
The Academy Awards season was crazy! But what was kinda nice
and reassuring was how Steven Spielberg warned me about two months before Oscar
night that the best part of the experience would be how all these famous people
would be nervously running around trying to meet each other during commercial
breaks in the telecast. He was absolutely right about that. It was cool to see
that everybody else was also in this excited place.
Have you ever had a near-death experience?
No, and I hope that good fortune continues.
Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
No, Kam, I’ve been doing press for so long that I’ve heard
Would you mind saying something controversial that would get
this interview tweeted?
[LOL] No, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised that the
subject-matter of Sex Ed hasn’t ruffled any feathers so far.
The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book
I’m in the middle of “The Shadow of Great Rock” by Harold
And I just finished “The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story
of the Origins of the Ebola Virus” by Richard Preston. Getting more information
about Ebola did sort of help quell my panic.
I know Richard. He lives nearby, and I interviewed him about “The Hot Zone”
Oh, that’s right! He’s a Princeton
guy. Well, it’s an interesting book to read now. All the science behind it is
fascinating, from the standpoint of doctors who had no idea what it was they
were dealing with during the initial outbreak.
What’s was just as interesting as “The Hot Zone” was that at least five years
before 9/11 he confided in me that the FBI was very worried about a possible
terrorist attack by Islamic fundamentalists with a weapon of mass
The music maven Heather Covington question: What was the
last song you listened to?
HJO: I just got Ty Segall’s new CD, “Manipulator.” I’m a
really big fan of that album.
What is your favorite dish to cook?
That’s a tough one. One of my closest friends has a big
backyard in Brooklyn. We like to grill brisket
for hours and hours on Sundays for the football games. I’ve also been trying to
perfect a really simple marinara sauce with good quality tomatoes you can find
in the city.
KW: When you look in the mirror, what
do you see?
I don’t know… I can’t think of a creative response to that
If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would
that be for?
To put an end to the Ebola outbreak.
The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest
My mom playing kids’ books on tapes for me as I was falling
asleep in the crib.
The Viola Davis question: What’s the biggest difference between who you are at
home as opposed to the person we see on the red carpet?
Part of the reason I enjoy doing press is because I don’t
have to modulate my personality too much. I think I just speak louder on
carpet, which is important when you’re doing interviews. [Laughs]
The Judyth Piazza question: Is there a key quality you
believe all successful people share?
I think curiosity and open-mindedness are important in our
business. But success is a hard thing to predict or pin down.
KW: What advice do you have for
anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
I’d say, just make sure that the work is your primary
interest. It’s a really tough industry. I know a lot of really talented, good
people who don’t succeed. So, I’d say find a way to do your craft in a way
which satisfies you, and let the rest of the stuff, the success and recognition,
come as a bonus.
The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?
For a wide variety of roles over a great many years.
And finally, what’s in YOUR wallet?
[Laughs] A post-it note with my “To Do” list.
Thanks again for the time, Haley, and best of luck with Sex
Thanks a lot, Kam. It was nice talking to you.
Revisionist History Chronicles Frenchman’s Secret Role in Toppling
In 2009, I
reviewed a movie called Endgame, a political potboiler which divulged, for the
first time, the pivotal role a British professor
named Will Esterhuyse played in the end of Apartheid. I remember feeling a
little skeptical about the veracity of the alleged well-kept secret.
it is five years later, and we now have a Plot for Peace, a documentary staking
a similar claim on behalf of another supposed critical figure who also
ostensibly operated under the radar. This picture purportedly recounts how Jean-Yves
Ollivier, a French businessman surreptitiously referred to as “Monsieur
Jacques” in classified correspondence, orchestrated the dismantling of South
Africa’s racist regime as well as the release of Nelson Mandela from prison.
Granted, Mr. Ollivier
has many luminaries lining up to testify on his behalf, including Winnie
Mandela, who says, “He never said one word about his contribution.” Then,
there’s attorney and African National Congress activist Mathews Phosa who
points out that Jean-Yves “wouldn’t have received a medal from Mandela if he
hadn’t played a role.” Curiously, he’s the only person to be so honored by both
the new and previous presidents.
What interested Ollivier
in South Africa?
He explains that he was a young expatriate living in Algeria during that nation’s
independence movement. So, he saw the outcome as inevitable when civil war erupted
in South Africa despite efforts
of the United States
and other Western countries to delay the inevitable by advocating the dubious “policy
of constructive engagement.”
My only complaint
about “Johnny Come Lately” productions like this and Endgame is the way in
which they subtly minimize the contributions made by the revolutionaries who
put their lives on the line in a very bloody, freedom struggle. These versions of
revisionist history tend to marginalize such sacrifices while suggesting that
the true hero was a lone wolf in a suit safely negotiating a resolution of the
conflict from half a world away.
Regardless, the grassroots’ rallying
cry remained, “Amandla!”
In English, French, Portuguese, Afrikaans and Spanish with
Siblings Fall for Same Lass in Incestuous Romance Drama
MacKay) and Charlie Peaceful (Jack O’Connell) had a healthy sibling rivalry
while growing up in Devon at the dawn of the
20th Century. The brothers were raised on a sprawling country estate
owned by a family of aristocratic Brits.
Their father (Stephen
Kennedy) was employed there as both gamekeeper and forester. In that capacity,
he was able to afford to send his sons to a private school run with an iron
fist by a sadistic headmaster (Richard Griffiths), a retired military colonel.
when their dad dies in a logging accident. Since their homemaker mother (Maxine
Peake) can no longer afford the rent or tuition, they soon lose the only life
they’ve ever known. More importantly, the pubescent adolescents have to leave
behind Molly (Alexandra Roach), a beautiful classmate both have a crush on.
Despite moving away,
Tommo and Charlie venture back as teens to frolic in the forest with the
irresistible object of their affection. A bit of a tease, Molly initially
refuses to pick between her ardent admirers, instead only promising to marry one
“Mr. Peaceful” while assuring that “We’ll be happy until the day we die.”
This is the premise
underpinning Private Peaceful, a bittersweet love story based on Michael
Morpurgo’s young adult novel of the same name. The book was previously adapted
into a play which debuted at the Royal Theater in 2004.
Directed by Pat
O’Connor (Sweet November), the screen version is an intriguing romance drama
which takes a sharp turn about midway through when Tommo and Charlie enlist in
the army and ship off to serve their country in Flanders’ fields. However,
there remains concern about Molly who’d announced her unplanned pregnancy shortly
before the outbreak of World War I.
Who’s the daddy? Will
the Peacefuls survive? These are the pivotal questions left to be addressed between
bombs bursting in air. Trench warfare as the backdrop for a tawdry love
triangle about as incestuous as it gets.
Fashion Documentary Focuses Lens on Ageless Ladies
We live in a culture which
unfortunately equates beauty with youth. Why else are so many women to make a
joke of their own faces so long as the skin remains as tight as a ten year
old’s? As the late Joan Rivers, a big fan of cosmetic surgery, might ask: Can
For, flying in the face of
this conventional wisdom is Ari Seth Cohen, a street photographer who roams
looking for flamboyant elderly females to capture with his camera. He even has
a blog, Advanced Style (http://advancedstyle.blogspot.com/)
dedicated to portraits of these classy ladies ranging in age from 60 to 95.
The website generated so
much interest that we now have Advanced Style, the movie, a documentary
featuring some of his most attractive subjects. The picture marks the
“Fabulous!” directorial of Lina Plioplyte who makes quite the splash simply by
shedding light on seven, ageless fashion plates.
There’s Jackie Tajah
Murdock, 81, who was a dancer at the Apollo during the famed theater’s heydays,
and Lynn Dell Cohen, 80, the self-proclaimed “Countess of Glamour.” The baby of
the group is Tziporah Salamon, 62 who rides around the city on a pimped-out
bicycle. And at the other extreme we have the group’s elder stateswoman, Zelda
Kaplan, 95, who has a good sense of humor about being a little addlepated.
Rounding out the crew are
Ilona Royce Smithkin, 93; Joyce Carpati, 80; and Deborah Rapoport, 67. What
they all seem to share is an infectious zest for life and for looking their
best that they can’t help but share with anyone they meet. Ostensibly for the
sake of a plot, the picture inexorably works its way to the ladies being feted,
whether they’re landing a contract with Lanvin, making an appearance on Ricki Lake’s
TV talk show, or just strutting their stuff during Fashion Week.
But it all seems secondary
to the obvious fact that natural aging lines can look every bit as good if not
better than Botox and face lifts. The best antidote around to America’s unhealthy obsession with
Excellent (3.5 stars)
time: 72 minutes
Extras: Packed with tons of extra footage including conversations with the
ladies about the aging process and about sex, and with some fun scenes that
will make you want to dress up and approach each day a little more vibrantly.
The Sly Fox Film Reviews publishes the content of film critic Kam Williams. Voted Most Outstanding Journalist of the Decade by the Disilgold Soul Literary Review in 2008, Kam Williams is a syndicated film and book critic who writes for 100+ publications around the U.S., Europe, Asia, Africa, Canada and the Caribbean. He is a member of the New York Film Critics Online, the NAACP Image Awards Nominating Committee and Rotten Tomatoes.
In addition to a BA in Black Studies from Cornell, he has an MA in English from Brown, an MBA from The Wharton School, and a JD from Boston University. Kam lives in Princeton, NJ with his wife and son.