STAR WARS Review by Carla Renata for and Carla Renata's Corner


OK...I will just start out saying that Star Wars:  The Force Awakens is THE best Star Wars since the original.  Kudos to J.J. Abrams for keeping the integrity and energy of the the franchise in tact with the same respect he did with the Star Trek franchise.

OMG!!!  There is so much to say and I will do my best without spoiling it for you.

First off, we see the some of our favorite original characters, Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia, who is now General Leia (Carrie Fisher), our favorite droids C-3P0 and R2 D2 and maybe a few more original surprises.


The new droid BB-8 gives R2 D2 a run for his money with the cute factor and he kind of reminds me of space weeble...


So, in this installment, three decades after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, a new threat arises. The First Order attempts to rule the galaxy and with the help of the Resistance an unlikely trip aids in thwarting that takeover.

Daisy Ridley (Rey) is kicking butt in her first feature film and I kinda love that fact that she intimidates the boys just a tad.  She is one step ahead of them every time.  Of course, this comes a son surprise, since Ridley is the real life daughter of Carrie Fisher, who made for a very feisty Princess Leia.  Nepotism may have played a role in her having the door opened, but homegirl is truly holding her own and making it look really effortless.


Her better half, John Boyega (Finn) has that comic relief that made the first Star Wars so incredibly enjoyable.  He is charismatic, rugged and takes on the task of being a Storm Trooper crossing over the light with flying colors.


However, it is Adam Driver who walks away with this film.  His turn as the villain Kylo Ren and a HUGE departure from the last role I witnessed him in back in Noah Baumbach's 2014 comedy "While We're Young".  The dude has a talent range of which we don't see that often these days.  He is letting us have it and I can't wait to see him do it again!


Last year, Oscar Isaac was a con man in "Two Faces of January" and gave a stellar performance in "A Most Violent Year".  2015 and 2016 are shaping up quite nicely for this brilliant actor as well.   I've said before that his presence reminds me very much of a young Al Pacino.  He has that quiet intensity that makes one wonder what he's thinking and what he's up to...I love it!!!3504.jpg

All the fight scenes are fantastic and Lupita  N'yongo has immortalized her voice in the character form of Maz Kanata.

I'll stop now before I give up anymore, but before I do let me just say that it warmed my heart as a HUGE Star Wars fan to watch Princess Leia and Han Solo embrace once more...


Star Wars can be found in a theater near you....NOW


Me, Earl and the Dying Girl


ME, EARL and the DYING GIRL review by Carla Renata via and

Everybody who has a Mom has been nagged by her about many things.  Those things can range from taking out the trash or changing your outfit right as your hand in on the doorknob to leave or taking your little brother to the mall with you.

For Greg, who spends most of his spare time making parodies of classic films with his "co-worker" Earl, his nagging came in the form of spending time with a girl in the neighborhood who had been diagnosed with cancer.

The unlikely pairing would prove to be life changing for all parties involved.  Greg learns how to be a real, trusted friend, Earl realizes that he is taken for granted by his "best-friend" and "co-worker" and Rachel finds the bravery to die with dignity and on her own terms.

One wouldn't expect tons of laughter, but laughing is exactly what I did thanks to the comic genius of Molly Shannon (Denise), Nick Offerman (Greg's Dad),  RJ Cyler (Earl) and Thomas Mann (Greg).  Mann shows just how awkward and challenging it can be for teens these days to make friends, let alone keep them.  His knack for effectively swirling comedy with drama is the main ingredient that makes this film work on every level.


Olivia Cooke as Rachel gives you a full-on look into the psyche of a young woman who will never go to prom, college, get married or any of the other things one looks forward to when growing up and out of your parents home.  She's simply brilliant and coupled with Mann and Cyler they bring a lot of humanity to all three of their characters that is heartwarming and heart wrenching all at once.


Connie Britton took time off from her hit show "Nashville", hung up her high heels and makeup to give Greg's Mom the earthy, empathetic look and feel needed for this fantabulous flick.  Me, Earl and the Dying Girl won the Grand Jury and Audience Award (Dramatic) at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival...deservedly so.

Directed to perfection by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and brilliantly adapted by novelist Jesse Andrews, "Me, Earl and the Dying Girl "will leave you hopeful that not every teenager lives on the internet and their cell phones.  They may not play outside anymore or hang out at the mall, but true friendships are still being formed, nurtured and creating lasting memories for a lifetime to come.  "Me, Earl and Dying Girl" can be found streaming live on Direct TV.

3 1/2 Minutes Ten Bullets


3 1/2 Minutes Ten Bullets review by Carla Renata via and CarlaRenatasCorner

Around this time last year,  the #blacklivesmatter movement was in full effect,  following the shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO (a suburb in my hometown of St. Louis).


I remember well the pit of my stomach when the verdict was read announcing yet another police officer would not be held accountable for flat-out murder of another teenager. Never mind the fact that Michael Brown was a black male. Never mind the fact that  there have been numerous unarmed teens that were latino and/or female shot and/or killed while in police custody - handcuffed with no way to fight back even if they wanted to.

In 2015, there have been 1081 unarmed people killed at the hands of a police officer,

2014  and Jacksonville, Florida became internationally known for three reasons...the "Stand Your Ground" law, Trayvon Martin and  Jordan Davis.  Like Martin, Davies was unarmed and gunned down in the back seat of a parked car.  For what?  Loud music. heard me right.  Michael Dunn, while waiting for his fiance' to grab some items at a gas station, was annoyed at the car full of young black teens playing "rap" music just a little too loud.

Unlike most documentaries of this nature, Director Marc Silver dissects this process from the moment the crime occurs , through two trials, the verdict and the heartbreaking turmoil experienced by both sides of this issue.  For all involved Black Friday will forever have another meaning.  "3 1⁄2 MINUTES, TEN BULLETS"  won a Special Jury Award for Social Impact at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and the Audience Award.

This film stayed with me for several days. The anger and frustration that engulfed me as a woman of color in this country where often times we are judged "by the color of our skin and not the content of our character" overwhelmed me to tears.

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What is happening in America people?  Why are people so angry?  More importantly, why are so many people running around with guns...just because?  Who will be next and for what?

It is my sincere hope that anyone who is able get an opportunity to watch 3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets as it screens this month on HBO.  As Arsenio Hall used to say back int he day, this film is most definitely is one of those "things that make you go hmmmm".



THE DANISH GIRL review via Carla Renata's Corner and With Glamour magazines latest announcement of  Caitlyn Jenner being named Woman of the Year,  it suffices to pose the question about how Lili Elbe would have survived in a world that on a daily basis is becoming more and more accepting of the transgender community.

Director Tom Hooper and Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne have teamed up and the results are electric!  Based on David Ebershoff novel of the same name and screenplay by Lucinda Coxon, The Danish Girl is showing a softer, more vulnerable characterization of Eddie Redmayne as the real-life transgender pioneer Lile Elbe, all while revealing the love story with Lili"s (Einar) wife Gerda (lovingly played by Alicia Vikander.


In 1926, Lili Elbe, a very successful painter living in Copenhagen, underwent one of the first known reconstructive procedures to surgically remove her penis, replace it with a vagina and begin the journey to complete her transformation as a woman.  We watch as Lili (formerly Einar) becomes ridiculed, beaten and gets used to dressing in women's clothes, makeup and how Gerda (as helpful and supportive as she is) has a hard time letting go of Einar and embracing Lili.


It's safe to say that Redmayne has secured a spot as a Best Actor nominee with this performance.  Just as with his award-winning performance in The Theory of Everything, Redmayne has studied all the nuances of being a female to make his portrayal totally believable from the very first moment he slides those thigh-highs on to pose for a painting to his very last breath as Lilli.

As his better half Gerda, Alicia Vikander is a having a great year in film, having starred in both The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and  Ex Machina.  She better get that red carpet dress ready because she is going to be a very busy girl this awards season.  Her choice of not making Gerda bitter is brilliant and  makes the film and her character so much richer and interesting to watch.

Danishgirl_gerda Danishgirl_painting

Opening in theaters around Thanksgiving, The Danish Girl is fascinating, entertaining and heartbreaking -- you'll love it!



BrooklynPoster Review by Carla Renata for and On Air With Tony Sweet for

Have you ever been homesick?  It's a horrible feeling and one that I only experienced once in my lifetime.  While entertaining our troops on a mountaintop in Turkey, one of my songs in a USO tour show was part of a medley including  "Celebrate Me Home" by Kenny Loggins and "Home" from "The Wiz".  It was Thanksgiving Day and I a began t o sing the words "When I think of home I think of place...", I realized for the first time in my life I wasn't home.

I wouldn't be running all over St. Louis to visit with relatives, play games, go to the movies, be entertained by those relatives who are not intentionally comedic, but most importantly it would be the first time away from my Mom and brother.  NO sweet potato pie...NO greens...NO cranberry relish...NO Macy's parade.  I bravely chose to be related to hundreds of soldiers who were not able to be with their families.

It was an experience I shall not soon forget and get choked up now even as I share the experience with you.

Based on the novel by Nick Hornsby, "Brooklyn" is a coming of age story about a young Irish girl leaving home for the first time to travel to America, where she discovers many firsts...falling in love with her new country, herself and the love of her life.

Being homesick for Eilis (Saoirse Ronan  is  like not feeling at home in your native country or one that you have chosen to live or visit.  It's sort of like being in exile.  Until she has a chance meeting with a charming Italian by the name of  Tony Fiorello (Emory Cohen) at a dance.  That dance and meeting changes everything.  Due to unforseen circumstances, Eilis finds herself back in Ireland with the dilemma of choosing to stay or return to her life and love in Brooklyn.

Saoirse Ronan is extraordinary as Eilis.  Through her ability to be completely open and vulnerable.  We have the pleasure of watching this strong-willed young woman, grow and mature right before our eyes.  At a recent Q & A, Roman expressed how proud she was to represent her country onscreen and the pressure that comes along with wanting to get everything just right.


Her leading man Emory Cohen as Tony has a very commanding presence and one that is reminiscent of a young Marlon Brando.  At just 25 years old, I assure you this dude is going to turn Hollywood upside down.  His talent and acting chops are un-paralleled in my opinion.


But Baby, Miss Julie Waters as Mrs. Kehoe is hilarious!!!  Everyone knows of or has had a landlady like her...judgemental and outspoken with a heart of gold.

John Crowley's direction  is best described by himself as "...capturing twenty seconds of this illusion thing called truth".  Coming from a theater background, he wholeheartedly believes in the rehearsal process.  As daunting as it is to recreate the same performance 8 times a week onstage, it's even more complex to catch lightning in a bottle for the screen.  The difference is that you can shoot and shoot until you get it just right.

"Brooklyn" is a heartwarming, emotionally entertaining roller coaster look at 1950's Brooklyn and Ireland through the eyes of  one young woman and her family.  It's a journey you definitely want to book a ticket to. "Brooklyn" opens in selected theaters on November 4th.



SPOTLIGHT review via Carla Renata's Corner and

Let me warn you that this particular review is of a very sensitive nature and may offend or piss some of you off.  For that, I apologize ahead of time:(

As a young Catholic girl, we are taught that the priest is the closest thing that we can get to speaking with God.  It is the priest who baptizes us, confirm us into Catholicism and listens to confessions of our sins.  We are taught that if we say a few Hail Mary's that God will absolve us of our sins.

But, who do the priests go to and how are their sins absolved?  Do they have a main line to the almighty father himself or do priests confide in each other and assist in covering up their sins.

In 2002, The Boston Globe blew the whistle on the Massachusetts archdiocese,  involving scores of priests and hundreds of victims across the Boston metropolitan area.  The scandal began brewing in Boston, but it was not isolated there.  By the end of 2002, some 1,200 priests had been accused of abuse nationwide, according to a study by The New York Times.

Over the course of that year, five bishops resigned in connection with sex scandals, including Boston's Cardinal Law. The crisis was felt worldwide, with accusations of abuse or the mishandling of scandals forcing the resignation of bishops in Argentina, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Wales, Scotland, Canada, Switzerland, and Austria.

With a brilliantly crafted screenplay by Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, Spotlight sheds the light as seen through the eyes of a specialized group of Boston Globe reporters who blew the lid off this controversy.

Spotlight also boasts the best ensemble cast outside of this years' "Steve Job"s film.  Led by Academy Award nominee Michael Keaton my attention was captured and retained from the first frame to the last.  Keaton, Rachel McAdams,  Liev Schreiber, Brian D'arcy James and John Slattery bring the Globe's investigative team to life with gusto and intensity.  However, there are two performances that really stick out by Stanley Tucci and Mark Ruffalo.


I really thought Ruffalo was going to get a nod last year with his performance in Foxcatcher, but maybe that didn't happen to make room for his performance in Spotlight.  Ruffalo, as real-life investigative reporter Michael Rezendes, is quite compelling!  The passion and sense of urgency Ruffalo gives to Rezendes draws the audience in even further and allows you to respect the actor and his subject.


Stanley Tucci, as Boston Sexual Abuse Law firm owner, Mitchell Garabedian, is stupendous!  He is in a variety of films as a supporting player with such an ease that he makes what he does look very easy.  I assure you it isn't and I am hopeful that the academy members will agree with me.

It suffices to say that although the Catholic church has made several strides this subject continues to be one that rears its ugly head from time to time.  Let's hope with Spotlight, the church, its members and any young child who has been abused will now have the courage to speak up and out.  You never know who is listening or watching.  Break the Story...Break the Silence.



I'LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS review via Carla Renata's Corner and Being a teen, a young adult in your 20's, 30's and 40's are all phases that one at least has some idea of what to look forward to.  Growing old is the only phase in life that you can't outgrow. Growing old makes one remisnence about days gone by such as people you loved, people who loved you back.  Did you life turn out as planned or was it derailed by an unexpected turn of events?

Carol (Blythe Danner) is a creature of habit.  She writes down her errands on an erase board as to ensure she doesn't miss anything.  She awakens at 6am, eats breakfast, reads the paper, goes for a walk and plays bridge with her good girlfriends.  Normalcy is something she desperately tries to hold onto after the death of her husband, her best furry friend and a not so close relationship with her only daughter.  She seems to do this with ease and no interruptions until two very different men come into her life and change everything.


Blythe Danner has been an actor for 50 years and never tackled a female lead onscreen until now. Thank goodness!!!  This was a role that only Danner was born to play.  How ironic was it that such a prolific role was co-written by Brett Haley (only 29 years old) and Marc Basch.  It was a gift from Haley, this complex role for an actress in her 70s when such parts are few and far between. Interestingly enough, 2015 is a year marked by a number of these films for a change.  With films like “Grandma” (Lily Tomlin), “45 Years” (Charlotte Rampling) and “The Lady in the Van” (Maggie Smith), among others, populating the cinematic landscape.

"'ll See You In My Dreams" is a story about love, loss re-awakening in a phase of life one never sees coming.  Let me tell you, I was a wreck from the first frame, so be sure to take some tissue with you.  You'll laugh more

Sam Elliott is fine and like old ass wine!!!  We don't get to see him onscreen often enough, but when we do it is well worth the wait.  Only in a few scenes, he steals them every time!!!


The bridge ladies, all adeptly, easily and comically played by Mary Kay Place, June Squibb and Rhea Perlman,  are one of the highlights with the funniest scene being when the ladies make a quick "munchie" trip in the middle of the night.


This film evoked a multitude of emotions for a variety of reasons.  Yet the most compelling one is my love of independent film.  Indies are not concerned with making the story splashy as much as simply telling the story.

"I'll See You In My Dreams" began its journey in January at the Sundance Film Festival and looks like it will most likely be making its way to the attention of the Academy Awards.  Danner, just this week, was nominated for Best Actress by 2015 Gotham Awards.  And so it begins...



  SUFFRAGETTE review via Carla Renata's  Corner and

As a woman and especially - a black woman - fighting for rights is something I have heard and read about my whole life.

More than 170 countries — about 90 percent — still have laws and policies on the books that end up denying women and girls the same rights and protections enjoyed by their male counterparts.  Even fewer than 20 have female heads of state or government. Although women make up about half the global population, they account for only about 1 in 5 members of parliament. Half of all women are in paid employment, and wage disparities are a universal problem.

As recent as last week, Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence publicly declared her disenchantment regarding the gross differences in wages for actresses versus actors.  A little known fact that was blown sky-high when the Sony Pictures Corporation computer system was hacked revealing unscrupulous emails between executives, as well as, negotiated salaries for a few of Hollywood's well-known stars.


In "Suffragette", this stirring story centers on Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan), a working wife and mother whose life is forever changed when she's secretly recruited to join the UK's suffragette movement spearheaded by British activist Emmeline Pankhurst.

Even with powerful performances lead by Mulligan, Streep and Helena Bonham-Carter, and as intriguing as this subject is...the film itself is a little slow-moving getting its message across. However, it beautifully illustrates the passion and heartbreak of those thousands of women who risked everything they all for women's right to vote - their jobs, their homes, their families, their children and even their lives.

In fact, after colliding with Anmer, suffragette Emily Davison collapsed unconscious on the track during the Derby at the Epsom raceourse in 1913.  Davison died of her injuries four days later in Epsom Cottage Hospital.

At the funeral of the leading suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst in 1928, the jockey who had ridden Anmer that day, Herbert Jones, laid a wreath "to do honor to the memory of Mrs Pankhurst and Miss Emily Davison".   Jones had suffered a mild concussion in the 1913 collision, but afterwards claimed he was "haunted by that poor woman's face".  In 1951, his son found Jones dead in a gas-filled kitchen. The jockey had killed himself.

Meryl Streep is stellar as usual in the cameo role of Emmeline Pankhurst, but I think it is safe to say that this film belongs to Carey Mulligan as Maud Watts.  Watts makes you empathize with every single emotion Maud encounters on the journey for women's right.  The moment when she finds herself losing her son is one that haunts me even as I write.

Women's rights are an ongoing struggle around the world and it is my sincere hope that through the release of Suffragette women will once again rally and fight until the war on equality is finally won.

Suffragette is opened on October 23rd and for more info on the film and the current women's movement log on to Fight's Not Over.


Ismile_poster I SMILE BACK via and

Depression is a very complex emotion.  Nowadays, there are so many types with names and medications attached them that it's hard to keep up.  It's even more difficult to keep up with someone you love who suffers from depression, as it is often times impossible to keep them from spiraling out of control and taking everyone else down with them.

Laney Brooks is a wife and mother whose depression causes her to act out.  She does drugs, disappears and returns home with little to no notice.  She has sex with whoever, whenever and wherever the spirit moves her.  If all that weren't enough, she drinks  on the down low and appears to also have some sort of eating disorder.  Whew...I'm exhausted already talking about Miss Laney!  The one thing Laney has going for her is the love of her devoted husband Bruce (Josh Charles) and son Eli (Skylar Gaertner).


From the first frame, Sarah Silverman sucks you in and convinced that she and Laney Brooks are indeed one in the same.  She is a force to be reckoned with this performance and I have a feeling that doing stand-up in a room of 30 people will be a thing of the past for this brilliant comic. Silverman's acting is transformative, exciting and compelling to behold.  Can you tell I liked her just a

Three moments that stand out for me is the opening of the film where Laney is in the bathroom secretly beginning her day the way she does on so many occasions - doing something bad. The very last scene where her husband realizes all the love in the world isn't going to save his wife, his kid or his marriage. Last, but certainly not least is a scene in her child's bedroom with a stuffed animal, which is very disturbing to say the least.


Josh Charles should win film husband of the year for this one.  His patience with Laney as Bruce makes you think of the song lyrics to "When A Man Loves A Woman".  Your heart breaks watching this train wreck because all the love in the world can't put "humpty-dumpty back together again".


"I Smile Back" makes one wonder the origins of addictive, reckless behavior begins in an individual.  More importantly, how long does it take to fester and percolate before destroying a life completely and everyone in their path.

"I Smile Back" opens on October 23rd and trust me when I tell you that you need to make sure you are really good spirits before taking on this film.  It will leave you breathless...literally.


  ROOM review via and On Air With Tony Sweet for

Growing up in St. Louis, there was a time when my Mom, little brother and I existed in one room. It was a time after Mom and Dad had divorced and all we had were each other.

It was in that room I got spanked for wearing a dress I was specifically told NOT TO.  A room where my Grandfather would try to read a bedtime story that ended with my brother and I afraid to fall asleep.  A room where we would watch cartoons and The Lone Ranger while eating breakfast cereal.  A room with a multitude of memories from my childhood that live forever in my mind.

We eventually left this room and relocated.  One day, my  little brother and I went for a bike ride and we were expected to be home before dark.  When nightfall came upon us, I turned a corner to head home believing that my brother was right behind me...he wasn't.  After numerous hours passed, the police were notified. Before a search could get underway,  my brother miraculously appeared.  What occurred during his disappearance was discussed once and never again.

Why did I share this personal anecdote?  Often times, as in the case of so many children that go missing, we never know how the victims feel or what the aftermath of being in the spotlight is like for them when the glare dies down.   Haven't you ever wondered how these kids and their families lives continue after all the intrigue has died down?  How emotionally and/or physically damaged are they?  Will the lives of these families ever become normal?  What is normal under these circumstances? And...what about the animals who snatched them?  Do they live? die? spend the rest of their days behind bars?

Based on the novel and screenplay by Emily Donoghue, Room introduces us Ma (Brie Larson) and her son Jack (Jacob Tremblay), who are being held captive.  When they daringly escape, the two are faced with adjusting to the outside world that they have not seen or experienced for nearly seven years.


Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay are remarkable.  Larson is having a great year.  Just coming off the Amy Schumer hit "Trainwreck", she makes your heart bleed as Ma.  You wonder how she can keep her sanity with this child, who is obviously stir crazy.  Yet, she makes living in this "room" as normal as it can be for her child.  After all...isn't that what mother's do?  Her performance is by far one of the best one's I have seen this year.

Tremblay boggles your mind with his ability and commitment.  At such a young age, he has already mastered the art of acting when not uttering a single word.  William H. Macy and Joan Allen as Larson's parents are spectacular.  Their complex emotions of dealing with a child who has been abducted break your heart.

This film seems to be a compilation of so many lives we have seen played out in the media...Elizabeth Smart, Jacee Dugard, Amanda Berry and the other two young women held captive in Cleveland.

Go watch "Room" and find out.  It's an emotional, eye-opening roller coaster ride, but well worth the twists and turns.

Will To Love

  WILL TO LOVE review by Carla Renata for and


Love is a complicated emotion.  Love will make you do things that under ordinary circumstances,,,you would bounce or tell someone where they can go.  We've all been there at some point...right???  It leaves you feeling kind of icky, sad and having the desire to buy and devour every pint of Ben & Jerry's at your local 7-11.

In Will To Love, Rudy Huxtable aka Keisha Knight-Pulliam is drop dead gorgeous and all grown up in the role of Rachel Parris.  Rachel is the personal assistant to Jamal Hawkins (Marques Houston), CEO of a million dollar company, when she falls head over heels in love.

Sounds like the perfect situation, except for one minor detail.  Jamal's grandfather, whose health is failing, promises to hand over the company IF he finds a wife in 30 days.  In the event he fails, the company goes to his step sister, Monica (Shondrella Avery).  After much discussion, it is decided that a mock reality show will serve as a means for Jamal to find his "queen".

Marques Houston is doing double-duty on this one pitching in as a co-writer along with Chaz Echols and Chris Stokes (Director).   Houston, who was a staple of  90's sitcom television, is very charming, sensitive and the type of guy who has a heart and conscience as Jamal.  I fell in love with him and look forward to seeing him in more of these types of ventures in the futures.


Valarie Pettiford (Ayvon Hawkins) is not only a friend, but  a stellar actress doing some really quality work in this film.  The scene between her and Jamal where she encourages him to marry for love and not money is priceless.

Now, for the comic relief in the form of Shondrella Avery (Monica), Black Thomas (Danny) and Ryan Lefton (Andy) are individually and collectively roll on the floor funny.  Shondrella Avery  as Monica makes Cruella DeVille look like a puppy with her diabolical schemes to throw Jamal under the bus. Baby, Black Thomas' Danny is what every girl needs as a best friend and comic relief.

Draya Michele left the Basketball Wives on the court and comes to the film game as the beauty we love to hate.  You know the ones, they have 0% fat, get the man and have all the money the little hearts can spend in a million places at one time.  I kinda loved her!!!!  She made being a bitch look like a helluva lot of fun.


Keisha Knight Pulliam has skills y'all!!!  She uses every ounce of her body to act with conviction and realism.  You get want to hug her and tell her that if Jamal is the right man he'll figure it out and be there just when you least expect him.

Will To Love was released on DVD on October 6th and is infused with a story we have all seen before, but the spin using social media and reality shows gives it an unexpected twist that is very entertaining.


A Ballerina's Tale

75 A BALLERINA'S TALE review by Carla Renata for and


Most people don't know that I started out in this business as a dancer on Broadway.  So, not that long ago when I had to undergo knee replacement surgery, I mustered up the courage and determination I witnessed in history making ballerina Misty Copeland.

Misty Copeland has had quite a mind-blowing year!  Very few dancers are accepted into a prestigious ballet company and not only did Copeland get accepted, but became the first African-American to be named a soloist and principal dancer for the American Ballet theatre, starred on Broadway in "On The Town" and is the first African -American Ballerina to perform the lead roles in Firebird and Swan Lake. So, when did she have time to film a documentary?

The night of her Firebird  performance, Misty danced beautifully, but later Misty discovered she had six fractures in her left shin. Without corrective surgery the shin might one day brea and many doubted she would dance again...including Misty.


A Ballerina's Tale is an intimate look at a very special ballerina during a crucial period of her life and career. The bulk of the film looks at Misty's journey from the triumph of Firebird, the painful road back to dancing and when Misty's return to the American Ballet Theatre stage emerging ever victorious in the process.

This extraordinary young woman shines a light on several challenges within the classical ballet world: the absence of women of color at major companies; the emphasis on skinny bodies for ballerinas and how that pressure impacts one's health sending negative messages to young fans around the world. In addition, Misty, because of her race and curves, opens up on how focused she had to become especially with a ballet career starting at 13 years old.

A Ballerina's Tale is Misty's story, but a familiar one for so many young girls of color with the hopes and dreams of one day dancing as a Prima Ballerina.  It's a story how one girl who refused to give up no matter who many times she secretly wanted to succumb to the pressure and walk away from the biggest love of her life.


Having had the opportunity to speak with her at the Tribeca Film Festival, I can tell you that Misty Copeland is the real deal and this documentary will inspire, as well as, share the un-glamourous side of what being a dancer is really like.

A Ballerina's Tale opens in theaters nationwide on Weds., October 16th.



Steve Jobs

"Think Different" - Steve Jobs

FILE - In this Oct. 12, 2005 file photo, Apple Computer Inc. CEO Steve Jobs holds up an iPod during an event in San Jose, Calif. Jurors in a class-action lawsuit against Apple Inc. on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014 saw emails from the late CEO and his top lieutenants that show Jobs was determined to keep Apple's popular iPod music players free from songs that were sold by competing online stores. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

- Steve Jobs Commencement Speech at Stanford University in 2005


Steve Jobs Review for and by Carla Renata


Steve Jobs and I had a lot in common. We both love and obsessed over Apple. We both practice Buddhism - Jobs practiced Zen and I practice Nichiren Buddhism.  We both believe in living in the here and  now. We both believe in doing what you loved and to never settle for less than.

My obsession with Apple began with the iPod.  While on tour, I traveled with a cassette player and case that housed all my gear.  It was bulky, heavy and took up ALOT of room in my luggage. Small enough to fit into my purse or carry-on bag, an iPod could fit into my purse.  I could listen to music for hours AND an iPod it held up to 1000 songs. coincidentally, this is the very reason Jobs created an iPod.

After his death from Pancreatic Cancer in 2010, Steve Jobs became a mythical, technological wizard around the world with his buddy Steve Wozniak.  Woz  and Jobs revolutionized the way millions connect around the world.

Primarily patterned after the Walter Isaacson book "Steve Jobs", this biopic is smart, savvy and leaves you salivating for more at the final frame.  With a crafty Aaron Sorkin screenplay and brilliant direction by Danny Boyle, "Steve Jobs" proves to be a different type of biopic filmed in three important stages of Jobs' life and career. Every scene plays like an elaborate dance of characters and rapid-fire dialogue.

I have to give it up to Francine Maisler for casting a cast to be rivaled.  Kate Winslet is a joy to behold as Jobs' most trusted confidant, Joanna Hoffman.  This chick masters an Armenian accent while navigating speedy dialogue all while running up and down corridors.  Winslet slays every ounce of this role with an ease that is admirable and exciting to witness.


Jeff Daniels, who at this point is a pro at rattling off Aaron Sorkin dialogue after spending several seasons on Sorkin's critically acclaimed drama "The Newsroom".  Daniels portrays John Scully with quiet bravado laced with dignity and pride.  When he and Jobs are at odds in some very difficult scenes, Daniels very easily could've played the victim, but makes a choice to play Scully as a strong, independent man who breaks away from the mechanical puppet master - Steve Jobs.


Those scenes with Daniels and Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs) are the most fascinating portions of this film and I predict will earn them both a lot of praise and attention this awards season along their co-stars Kate Winslet and Seth Rogan.

Rogan, gives you just the right amount of humor and sensitivity to convince you that he is indeed Steve Wozniak.  A very prolific scene between Jobs and Woz in the orchestra pit of the San Francisco is one of many highlights in which Jobs confesses to Woz, "You are a very talented musician, but I play the orchestra".


Last, but certainly not least is Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs.  Admittedly, Fassbender was the last person that I would've thought of to play Jobs.  I gotta tell ya...I was a million percent wrong.  Fassbender morphs into the Steve Jobs we have all seen in the product launches and interviews and along with his crazy command of the massive amounts of dialogue he spouts out it is my bet that he will be the frontrunner for Best Actor this season.


Fassbender portrays Jobs as a kinder, gentler man in regards to his relationships with his daughter Lisa and trusted advisor Joanna Hoffman.

Steve Jobs launched into selected theaters this past weekend and opens nationwide on October 23rd.

The Martian

TheMartian THE MARTIAN Review by Carla Renata for

This past week, NASA discovered that there is water on Mars.  Is it drinkable?  Does this mean there is life on the planet?  How much is the government really sharing with the world?

It seems the release of the Matt Damon, Ridley Scott directed Sci-Fi hit "The Martian" opened right on time.  NASA space crew ARES III is on Mars when an unexpected sand storm hits.  As the crew attempts to back on board the ship, a satellite dish hits astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon).  Believing their crew member has perished in the storm the Ares III blast off without him.  When he finally resurfaces it is in the red dirt on the surface of Mars.

Realizing he is alone, Watney has to decide whether or not to give up and die or devise a plan for survival.  Adapated from the best-selling novel by Andy Weir, the audience is taking on a wild ride and crash course of Mars survival through the eyes of one man.

In the beginning, feeling like "Castaway" on Mars, this film quickly shifts into an educational, intense-action-packed story with many twists and turns keeping the audience totally engaged until the very last frame.

Matt Damon as Mark Watney carries this film with an ease and charisma that just might land him an Oscar nomination (his first for Lead Actor since "Good Will Hunting in 1997).  Looks like all that training he has received as Jason Bourne served Damon extremely well in this flick.



Kristen Wiig is just ridiculously funny...even in a Sci-Fi/Adventure flick as the lead PR rep for NASA.  Chiwetel Ejiofor once again saying more when silent than with his given dialogue is spot on as NASA Scientist Vincent Kapoor.  Jeff Daniels is very effective as the hard-as-nails with a heart NASA head honcho - Teddy Sanders.   Other than Damon,  Jessica Chastain is once again shedding another layer of her chameleon skin as Ares III Commander Melissa Lewis proving she is always a force to be reckoned with on the silver screen.


Topping the weekend B.O with a domestic gross of 55 million, it is safe to say that The Martian's blast off was a huge success.

Watch the trailer below and check out why.  In the meantime, you might want to stock up on your potato supply.  You'll get the reference after watching the film.



The Perfect Guy

PerfectGuyPoster Review by Carla Renata for Carla Renata's Corner ( people are definitely in vogue this summer and fall.  War Room, Straight Outta Compton and now The Perfect Guy are dominating the box office!!!  This weekend The Visit was edged out by The Perfect Guy grossing 28MM and that doesn't even include the global gross!!!

The Perfect Guy incites a familiar story.  Remember that pink cloud you feel at the beginning of a relationship?  You know the one where he seems infallible and you find yourself wondering what you did to deserve the perfect guy!

Once upon a time, I too  dated someone who seemed like the perfect guy.  He brought me flowers, said all the right things, seemed to be a gentleman and even promised to take me traveling around the world.  I know, right??!!!  Baby, I thought I had hit the boyfriend lottery until that one day a side of his personality showed up that I had never met.  It made me uncomfortable, but more importantly, it made me afraid.  Needless to say, I shut that down pronto,  because I was really not trying to be featured on an episode of "Snapped"

Well, in this flick did Leah (Sanaa Lathan).  After spending two years with the love of her life Dave (Morris Chestnut),  it becomes abundantly clear that marriage and kids may not be an option.  Two months later, during  a chance meeting at a coffee shop Leah runs into Carter Duncan (Michael Ealy) who is almost too perfect to be true.  Turns out she is right and that's when the shenanigans begin.

FOR FIRST USE IN USA TODAY - SNEAK PEEK ON JUNE 4, 2015 Sanaa Lathan (background left), Morris Chestnut (center) and Michael Ealy (right) star in the Screen Gems motion picture THE PERFECT GUY. Credit: Dan McFadden, Screen Gems ORG XMIT: Michael Ealy (Finalized); Morris [Via MerlinFTP Drop]

I spent a good portion of this movie with my mouth hanging open out of shock at what this Carter dude was capable of.  It was fantabulous!!!  The Perfect Guy started out reminding me of Fatal Attraction, but by the end was a little more reminiscent of a favorite Jennifer Lopez film of mine - Enough.  With all that said, it was a thrill ride a minute, never a dull moment or lull in the Tyger Williams screenplay or the action directed by David M. Rosenthal!!!  However, I am most impressed at the fact that its stars Sanaa Lathan and Michael Ealy served as Executive Producers giving themselves a gig and many others.

Sanaa Lathan is absolutely stunning and always portrays African-American women on-screen as sexy, smart, independent and attractive. ..which I love!!!!  Not ALL of us are "sassy"...thank you very much.  As Leah, she shows  women that they do not have to "roll over" being mistreated in a relationship.  The power lies in keeping your power and not letting your power diminish with the relationship.  The Perfect Guys marks the second #1 movie for Lathan in less than a year (the other being Best Man Holiday).


Morris Chestnut is just simply yummy and makes acting look very easy.  We love him and loved that as Dave, he  was man enough to admit his mistake while taking steps to get his woman back.

But chile' it is Michael Ealy as Carter Duncan that makes this film.  With those blue/hazel eyes, bright smile and charming demeanor, he makes Leah and the audience fall in love with him.  When he flips into cray-cray mode, you don't know whether to be mad, disappointed or run for the hills.


L. Scott Caldwell and Charles Dutton as Leah's parents are sweet and perfectly cast, as are Tess Harper (Mrs. McCarthy), Rutina Wesley (Alicia) and Kathyrn Morris (Karen).

This film has an ending you don't see coming and is totally not expected.  Run...don't walk to catch a screening at a theater near you.  The Perfect Guy in theaters nationwide NOW.