KICKS

Review by Carla Renata for UBNRADIO.COM and The Curvy Film Critic

The obsession over sneakers in a documentary Sneakheadz and getting the latest "kicks by any means necessary is real.  Many kids have been killed, beat up even harassed over the type of sneakers they are wearing.

With a debut earlier this year at the Tribeca and LA Film Festivals, KICKS takes it to a whole new level, by putting this controversial subject to a narrative centered around three urban teens.  When one of them is jacked for his Jordans, he and his friends find themselves on a journey to recover the shoes, but not without consequences and repercussions.

Fifteen-year-old Brandon longs for a pair of the freshest sneakers that money can buy and assumes that having them on his feet will help him escape the reality of being poor, neglected by the opposite sex and picked on by everyone -- even his best friends. 

Working hard to get them, he soon finds that these shoes have made him a target after they are snatched by local hood, Flaco.  Flaco has his own issues  that will are revealed when Brandon goes on a mission to retrieve his stolen sneakers with his two best friends in tow.

Produced by the same team that brought us Morris from America, boasting an amazing soundtrack of both hip-hop classics and Bay Area favorites, Kicks creates an authentic and original portrait of a young man drowning in the expectations of being grown and standing his ground for what he believes.

With an impressive screen debut, Jahking Guillory is perfection as Brandon.  Mahershala Ali is having a great year and his portrayal of Flaco is chilling, yet compassionate as a gang-banger Dad with a heart.

Kicks is  a modern-day Boyz in the Hood Air Jordans as the centerpiece.  I could have done without some of the more graphic scenes, but guess they seemed necessary in order to give this film authenticity around its storyline..

As a first time director/screenwriter, Justin Tipping does an admirable job in creating a magical urban tale about friendship, honor and life in Oakland.

Kicks rolls into a theatre near you on September 9th by Focus films.

https://youtu.be/wWV2hK4HVEk

The Hollars

Review by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com and TheCurvyFilmCritic.com There's always one family member who is the glue of the brood.  Without their presence, the family would fall apart.  For me that person was Mama Cleo.  She always brought the family together during the good, the bad and the ugly.  When she passed, the family would become distant and go on with their separate ways as if she were never here.

Shot in Jackson, MS in 22 days, The Hollars centers on a man returning to his hometown after his Mom is diagnosed with a brain tumor and scheduled for surgery. Originally screened earlier this year at the Sundance and Los Angeles Film Festivals, The Hollars will strike a chord for anyone that has a wacky, dysfunctional entertaining family.  I think that pretty much includes anyone reading this review.

Actor John Krasinski, puts on his director and producer hat and ensembles one of the best cast...ever.  Mostly known for comedy, the cast includes Charlie Day (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendricks and the irrepressible Margo Martingale are flipping the script and displaying their drama chops.  Every last one of them are bringing their A-game!!!

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This is one of the best films I've seen in 2016! Although it is little reminiscent of Boyhood in terms of a family theme, it will make you all warm and fuzzy inside and break your heart all at the same time.

Margo Martingale will finally get that Oscar nomination that has eluded her for years.  Largely known for her stellar work on hundreds of television shows, Margo is giving the performance of a lifetime.  Her crafty recipe of comedy dashed with drama makes her role ring true from moment she appears on-screen.

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Richard Jenkins is the best crier I have ever seen!  But seriously, Jenkins' arc of being dependent and then having to deal with the possibility of his wife's demise is just speechless.  He literally took my breath away.

John Krasinski is the anchor of the film in more ways than one and his scenes with Martindale are heartwarmingly delicious.  The heavy comedy lifting was left to Charlie Day and Sharlto Copley.  They are simply hi-larious!!!!  And who knew that Grammy winner Josh Groban was such natural on the silver screen?

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If you have to see one film this year, The Hollars is definitely your best bet.  I guarantee you will be hearing more about it come awards season.

The Hollars will be in theatres on Friday, August 26th.

https://youtu.be/a1miyndmxAg

Pete's Dragon

File_000 (18) Review by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com, The Curvy Film Critic and MsInTheBiz.com

As an avid Disney fan, I was aghast that I didn't remember the 70's version of this Disney Classic starring Grammy Winner, Helen Reddy. Not to mention the fact that I pretty much remember just about every Oscar nominee across categories, but totally missed that the song was nominated.

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[embed]https://youtu.be/1N_HGEeyyrk[/embed]

I'm kinda glad though, because it allowed me to watch the reboot with a fresh heart, mind and eyes.  When I tell you, I got so caught up that the "ugly cry" was unavoidable...I do not exaggerate.  My own mother was like, "Are you ok"?  LOL!!!

Disney has created a new classic with Pete's Dragon for all ages.  If you have the heart, curiosity and wonderment of a child residing anywhere in your bones, this film will awake it .

Remember, Pete's Dragon came along way before E.T.,, Gremlins and all those other loveable creatures we have fallen in love with over the years. Yet, I fell for Elliott just as hard.  He kinda reminded me of my faithful Maltese Mr. Spanky..  Only difference is Elliott is green, flies and breathes fire.  I'm pretty sure Spanky and Elliott would be besties.

So, I ask you...if your buddy, your partner in crime, your loyal furry friend was in trouble wouldn't you move heaven and earth to save him?  Pete and his new-found friends go to extraordinary lengths to make sure that Elliott is safe and unharmed.  Human beings predictably always attempt to destroy or discredit those entities which we don't understand or fear. and fear is a very powerful emotion that can persuade one to act up and show out.

Even though the 1977 version was basically a film musical, this reboots focuses strictly on the story of a young child who has found a friend in a forest where he has been living an adventure for six years, until a forest ranger and her fiance' invite him to become a family member

Oakes Fegley (Pete) as the orphaned Pete is just yummy!  His instincts are spot on and you believe him every moment he is on-screen.  His acting ability is to be rivaled by any adult and is eerily  reminiscent of a young River Phoenix.  Paired up with the perfect Oona Laurence as Natalie, these two are unstoppable.

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Bryce Dallas Howard for me can just do no wrong and having her own children gave her the right mindset to pull off inhabiting Grace.  The vulnerability displayed will break your heart.. She has somehow been handed down that gene that made America fall in love with her Dad, Ron Howard as Opie on The Andy Griffith Show.

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Robert Redford is one of my all time favorite actors and hadn't been on-screen for a while until this year with A Walk In The Woods and now as Meacham.  To witness Redford become a child before your eyes as he speaks of the fondness in which he meets the "dragon" is really something special.  It takes an exceptional actor to recall that emotion and make the audience take that journey with you.  Well done, Sir!

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You know there is always that one character that throws a wrench into the Hallmark Family moment and Karl Urban is the perfect guy to do it.  As Gavin, he is despicably delicious, comical and handsome all at the same time.  I know...right??!!  He's easily the chameleon of the crew.

Director, David Lowery performs triple duty, as he is also credited as the editor and screenwriter.  As his first foray into the world of Disney he is crushing it.  I think he needs to direct ALL DISNEY movies from now to eternity!

I loved this film!  Mostly because it reminded of a time when life was not complicated by the hard knocks of adulthood.  As a little girl, my biggest issue was what I wearing to school and what boy I had a crush on. Those memories and feelings are irreplaceable, but I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world.

Pete's Dragon  will take you back to time where life was simple, joyous and uncomplicated.  Take the fam, the hubby and have a beautiful family night you all will not soon forget.  Pete's Dragon opened nationwide August 12th.

Take the time to download the coloring sheets and activities, Disney has graciously provided for the kids to enjoy.  Trust me...I played them and had a ball!!!

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Pete's Dragon Activity Booklet

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Abortion: Stories Women Tell

File_001 (5) Review by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com and The CurvyFilm Critic.com

As the child of a military family, we traveled for most of my life.  However, in between moves, we always went back "home".  Home for me is St, Louis, Missouri.  Both of my parents were born and raised there.  My relatives on my maternal and paternal side still live there.  I went to the prom, fell in love for the first time, had my first date, learned to drive, got my first job, became a beauty queen and attended my first college...all in the state of Missouri.

My memories are vast and fond of my life there.  However, as magical and warm the memories are that I have growing up in Missouri, I also remember Missouri for being one of the most racist states in the union.  Some residents of the state can be so full of judgement that some of my friends growing up there who were gay knew that "outing" themselves was never an option.  To do so would result in isolation from friends and family and being labeled and attacked,  Being a young, gifted and black was not celebrated.  To the point, that in 2016,  we are still witnessing young men like Michael Brown being harassed, shot and murdered.

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Needless to say, when I learned of the documentary Abortion:  Stories Women Tell screening at the Tribeca Film festival around Missouri becoming one of the many states to make abortion illegal, I was not surprised.  I was, however, extremely annoyed.

In 1973 the US Supreme court decision Roe Vs. Wade gave every woman the right to have an abortion. Since 2011, over half the states in the nation have significantly restricted access to abortions. In 2016, abortion remains one of the most divisive issues in America, especially in Missouri, where each year sees more restrictions.

Award winning director and Missouri native Tracy Droz Tragos sheds new light on this controversial  issue, with a focus not on the debate, but rather on the women themselves. Women who are struggling with unplanned pregnancies, the providers who show up at clinics to give medical care, as well as the activists on the sidewalks hoping to save one more child.

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Abortion: Stories Women Tell portrays an intimate portrait into the lives of these women through their personal stories, which come to life brilliantly, through the gentle and respectful approach by director Tragos.   Some are heartbreaking and tender, some are bleak and frightening, while others simply inform us of the strength and capacity of young women to overcome and persevere through often-tragic circumstances.  Take a listen to a recent interview I did with Tracy about her doc...

[audio mp3="https://carlarenatascorner.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/tracydrozetragos_abortionstories.mp3"][/audio]

Abortion:  Stories Women Tell also shows us how organizations like Planned Parenthood are being targeted for abortion procedures and allegedly accused  of selling fecal organs for medical testing.  My newly divorced mother (who is also a Registered Nurse) took me to Planned Parenthood as a teen to be educated on birth control and the services provided to young girls like me.  That Planned Parenthood location on Lindell Avenue in St. Louis has been shut down and the nearest location  is two hours away in Columbia, Missouri.

With young girls being sexually active as early as 10 years old, where will those mothers who don't take their daughters to be educated?  Especially now, that sex education has been slowly forced out of the public school system.

I employ each and every one of you reading this to think of all these concerns and facts as your state contemplates making a decision that affects thousands if not millions of American women.

Watch for this powerful doc to show up on HBO, but if you can't wait until then it had its theatrical release August 12th..  You will angered, educated,  but most of all moved to make a difference.

https://youtu.be/-X94ZaE7pso