Reviews: Zootopia, Midnight Special and Too Late


Film Review of Zootopia, Midnight Special and Too Late for and

So, now that I have recovered from the Oscars , I wanna chat about two films that I adored for very different reasons.

Animation films always have a special place in my heart because it taps into that little girl that lives inside no matter how much I age!  Having said that ...Zootopia is right on time!  Racial diversity has been at the forefront of everything from the Presidential Race to the Oscars! we know, children are like sponges and soak up anything information and education we throw their way.  This is why, I am particularly proud of Disney for releasing this film.  It will teach children how to embrace our differences and not be so quick to judge based on what you've heard.  Instead, based your opinion on your experience and not some myth or stereotypical ideology.

Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) is told by her parents "anyone can do anything", so she decides she wants to be the first "bunny cop". With that in mind, she graduates from the Bunny Burrow Police Academy and leaves home to make her mark in Zootopia, where she meets a con artist fox (Jason Bateman).  They pair up, discover a conspiracy and make plans to expose those responsible.  There's even a little lesson in what a good cop should be doing for a community - "serve and protect the city...not tear it apart".

It's hilarious, very well crafted and the actors who voiced the characters are perfect thanks to brilliant casting by Jami Sparer Roberts!   Being a HUGE fan of the Godfather film trilogy, my all time favorite moment was the throwback to the wedding scene with the Marlon Brando character looking like a rat...hysterical!!!

Judy Hops says it best, "...real life is messy, we all make matter what animal you are, try to make the world a better place...change the starts with you , me ...all of us"

Zootopia was released on earlier this month and has already grossed over 155 million domestically.  Check it's in a theater near you now!



What would you do if you were part of a community very similar to Jonestown or a Warren Jessup type situation and you had a child that possessed special powers.  Would you make a break for it to save  yourself, your kid or everyone involved?  Directed and Written by Jeff Nichols, I was pleasantly surprised.  When it started out, I thought it was going to be a  horror film!  Those of you who have been following this blog know that I DO NOT do HORROR.  However, I quickly realized that it was more of a Sci-Fi thriller, which is a genre I love!!!

The first ten minutes is so intense and compelling that you know you are in for  nice rollercoaster ride with no idea how it will stop.

Alton Meyer  (Jaeden Lieberher) is an 8 year-old with supernatural powers.  He can cause earthquakes, fire storms and all sorts of interesting events. His community believes he is their savior and on Friday, March 6th, so his Dad (Michael Shannon) and State Trooper friend  (Joel Edgerton) take him on the run to protect him.

Clearly , Jeff Nichols has been heavily influenced by Steven Spielberg as the film feels like a mashup of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. and Village of the Damned.  It all kinda works though mixing elements of love, family and sacrifice.

The mother/son and father/son relationship is extremely endearing and the major reason the film just clicks.  It reinforces no matter how different a child may be, if they are loved unconditionally that's all that really matters after everything is said and done.

Kirsten Dunst does an excellent job in a role that we have not seen her in to date.  She's all grown up and giving a performance straight from the heart playing a Mom in fear for her son.  Michael Shannon says more with his eyes than any other actor I've seen, which make him fascinating to watch.  His humility, warmth and compassion shown as Roy is quite refreshing.

Midnight Special opens this weekend in limited release.  Check your local listings for a theater near you





Too Late is a film I watched as part of the Los Angeles Film Festival last year and now it will be available in limited release TODAY in Los Angeles and on March 25 in New York!


Check out the trailer and what I had to say about it by clicking the link below

2015 Los Angeles Film Festival Review: TOO LATE




Black Mass

BlackMass Review of Black Mass for Carla Renata's Corner

A few little known facts about me...I 'm obsessed with mafia films.  The Godfather 1, 2 &3, Goodfellas, Donnie Brasco, Casino, The Departed, American Gangster. Bugsy, Prizzi's name it...I've seen it!! I'm a HUGE Johnny Depp fan going back to the "21 JumpStreet" days. He's  an extraordinary actor with skills, talent and definitely more than just a pretty face.

The most important little known fact, I actually dated a mob dude (Latin Mob) back in the day when I lived in NYC.  Needless to say, it abruptly ended the morning I was awaken to a hail of bullets coming through the front door of his apartment.  It was a buzz kill to say the least, not to mention the fact that it scared the poop out of me!!!

Cut to 2011, I clicked on the evening news to discover that one of the most notorious mobsters in Boston, Mass. history has been arrested in Santa Monica!!!  WTH??!!  The mobster seen cuffed on my television set was James "Whitey" Bulger, who was #2 on the FBI Most Wanted List right behind Osama Bin Laden and he had been living less than an hour away from me for nearly 16 years.

So, when the trailers aired showing Depp as Bulger in those blue contacts, I didn't think I would be able to get past that look to enjoy his performance.  Well baby, not only did only did I enjoy his performance -- I was spell-bound!  Not only did I forget Depp was wearing contacts, but his uncanny ability to take on Bulger's persona having never met the man was brilliant.  Boston accents are very tricky to master, but Johnny Depp is like the Lon Chaney of accents and characters.  He masters them and pulls it off without a hitch!

Having watched the documentary about "Whitey" Bulger and knowing the recordings used for were the only reference Depp had made his performance even more of a revelation.

So, for those of you non-mafia fans, James "Whitey" Bulger was the ringleader of the Winter Hill Gang, which terrorized Boston in the 70's and 80's.  In 1972, Bulger supposedly became a FBI informant,  allegedly provided prosecution protection (by childhood friend/FBI Agent John Connolly) for him and his gang's illegal activities.  Ultimately, Bulger's arrest turned into a conviction of 31 our of 32 counts of everything ranging from racketeering to murder.  Connolly got sentenced to 40 years.  Associates and Winter Hill Gang Members Kevin Weeks, Steve Flemmi and John Martorano all received lesser sentences are now walking the streets of Boston as free men.

Joel Edgerton as John Connolly allows the audience to watch as the Bostonian bravado, über confidence that is a staple for this FBI Agent  fade into a paranoid, desperate man willing to protect himself and his friends by any means necessary.

Dakota Johnson, fresh off of her controversial "Fifty Shades of Grey", as Bulger's love interest Lindsey Cyr gives a heart wrenching performance as a mother whose son' medical condition tips the scales of her relationship to a point of no return.

Peters Sarsgaard as Halloran knows all too well how to give you the fine line between crazy and vulnerable.  I've been a huge fan of his since "Boys Don't Cry".  Oscar Nominee Benedict Cumberbatch displays what a true acting chameleon he is portraying Bulger's younger brother Billy with just enough chilliness that one can see that the Senator and his brother could have possibly been one in the same.

Last, but certainly not least, Kevin Bacon rounds out this stellar cast and is obviously having a great year in film with this film following his fantabulous performance in "Cop Car"

Having already made a huge splash at the Venice, Telluride and Toronto film festivals, Black Mass opened in the #1 spot at box offices across country in the US - making a particularly stong showing in Boston...where the whole story began.