Film Review: “The Hitman’s Bodyguard”

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and Salma Hayek
Directed by: Patrick Hughes
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hr 58 mins
Lionsgate

Michael Bryce (Reynolds) is a Triple-A rated bodyguard who is proud of the fact the he hasn’t lost a client since….BANG! Oops.

A film that only works in small doses, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is several films in one. First you have an action comedy full of dirty words and exploding heads. Next is a political thriller as the leader of Belarus (Gary Oldman) is put on trial, at the Hague in the Netherlands no less! Finally you have the “bro-mance,” featuring Bryce and hired killer Darius Kincaid (Jackson), a duo that yells and bickers with each other like an old married couple. Taken separately, you have a surprisingly entertaining (sometimes) film. Put it all together, and you have a mess.

When the film works it’s when Reynolds and Jackson act as you expect them too. Reynolds is all smarm, his character seemingly trying to be the smartest man in the room while Jackson finds new and entertaining ways to use the words “mother” and, well, you know.

Somehow Kincaid is the only witness that can put Oldman’s character away forever, though it’s never really understood how until the end of the film. Throw in Bryce’s old lover, who just happens to be an INTERPOL agent, and you can see how jumbled the film is. Thankfully, the chemistry (and improvisational skills) of Reynolds and Jackson keep the film moving. The action is frenetic, moving across Europe like a Zagat video gone wild, so much so that you appreciate it when Mr. Jackson gets to utter his favorite phrase. “You know you’ve totally ruined “mother fu**er) for me, Bryce tells Kincaid. Hardly. The words flow out of Kincaid like the paint off of an artist’s brush. If only the rest of the film were as much of a masterpiece.

Jerry Pearce Talks About the Great American Songbook

 

When I first heard Jerry Pearce sing I couldn’t believe my ears. Neither could my wife, who asked me if I was listening to the Sinatra channel on my Sirius/XM radio. It wasn’t the “Chairman of the Board” we were listening to, but a talented young man about to make his New York City debut August 18th. Mr. Pearce took some time out of his day to talk to me about the music he has loved since he was a child.

Mike Smith:
You’re awfully young to have such an appreciation for these songs. How did you get interested in this musical genre’?

Jerry Pearce: My grandfather was a truck driver for 30 years. When he retired he took a job “under the table” and delivered stuff with his own truck. I would ride in the truck with him and he would play the same Sinatra CD over and over and over. Somehow it got stuck in my head.

MS: This gig you have coming up…how did it come about?

JP: I had performed in two concerts. One last December and one in May which were put on by a non-profit organization to promote music education for children. I then took part in a Frank Sinatra contest that was held in Hoboken, New Jersey (Sinatra’s home town) in June and won 1st Prize. A friend of mine named Gary Wilner, who is a singer and ventriloquist, sent a clip of my performance to the owner of the Metropolitan Room in New York City. The owner called me and within a week we had set up a date.

MS: Hoboken? That’s pretty bold, singing Sinatra in his hometown. That’s like going to Freehold, New Jersey and singing Springsteen!

JP: (laughing) I know, right.

MS: When you sing are you intentionally trying to sound like Sinatra or is that your normal voice?

JP: That’s my voice. I really don’t try to imitate anyone. I have been told often that I sound like Sinatra but I’ve also been told a couple of times that I sound like Perry Como, which is very flattering.

MS: All you need is a sweater.

JP: (laughs) Right. (NOTE: Besides an amazing voice, Perry Como was known for almost always wearing a Cardigan sweater).

MS: Tell me about your gig this Friday night.

JP: It’s basically a tribute to THE GREAT AMERICAN SONGBOOK. It will be held at the Metropolitan Room on West 22nd Street in New York City. Of course I’ll be honoring Sinatra, who is my favorite singer, but I will also be paying tribute to the great songwriters of the era. What they wrote was poetry. And I’m hoping to keep their music and their personalities in the spotlight.

Kansas City Theater Review: “The Bodyguard – The Musical”

Starlight Theater
Kansas City, Missouri
August 8, 2017

Bang! The sound of a gunshot fills the theater while, behind the curtain, a voice cautions, “You know what I do!” Whether the other person does or doesn’t is irrelevant. With another shot, he is dead.

The above transpires in the first few minutes of “The Bodyguard: The Musical.” Based on the popular Lawrence Kasdan film, which starred Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, the show is hoping to recreate it’s huge London success on a tour of the states.

To those familiar with the film, you know that the story involves pop superstar and budding film star Rachel Marron (an outstanding Deborah Cox) and her hate/hate more relationship with Secret Service agent turned personal bodyguard Frank Farmer (Judson Mills), who has been hired by Rachel’s manager to look after the singer after a series of threatening notes are found. Frank is a no-nonsense kind of guy and this rubs Rachel the wrong way. Not only is she worried about her privacy but that of her young son, Fletcher. As the show progresses we are treated to some nice choreography and some amazing Whitney Houston songs. In fact, this show is so full of Houston’s hits that it should have been called “WHITNEY! – The Musical.”

The show’s plot consists of every way possible to introduce another classic Whitney Houston to the audience. The songs are classics, but the plot is a dud. It didn’t really work as a film but translated to the stage, especially in musical form, is a gamble that doesn’t quite pay off. On the plus side, both leads are committed to their roles and Ms. Cox’s voice is loud and clear. The choreography is top notch and the direction keeps the show moving. If you’re a fan of the film you may want to skip “The Bodyguard.” If you’re into the music of Whitney Houston, then by all means take it in.

Mourning the Loss of Two Legends

July 16th is an important date in my life. It’s the birthday of my daughter-in-law, Jessica. It’s also the date that one of my personal heroes, Harry Chapin, died in 1981. Sadly, the date will know be remembered for the loss of two of Hollywood’s legends as both Oscar winning actor Martin Landau and acclaimed filmmaker George A. Romero both passed away.

Born in Brooklyn in June 1928, Martin Landau began his employment career as a cartoonist for the New York “Daily News.” However, he had always dreamed of becoming an actor and, at age 23, made his off-Broadway debut in the play “First Love.” In 1955 he was one of 2000 aspiring actors to apply to the prestigious Lee Strasberg’s Actor’s Studio. He was one of only two admitted, alongside a young man named Steve McQueen.

For several years he worked steadily, both on-stage and on television, appearing in such popular programs as “Maverick,” “Rawhide,” “Playhouse 90” as well as films such as “North by Northwest” and “Cleopatra.” He even co-starred with his old acting mate McQueen in an episode of “Wanted: Dead of Alive.” After stand-out roles on such shows as “The Twilight Zone” and “The Outer Limits,” Gene Roddenberry asked him to audition for the role of Mr. Spock in “Star Trek.” The role went to Leonard Nimoy, but the same year saw Mr. Landau appear in the role that made him a star, Rollin Hand in “Mission: Impossible.” Ironically, when he left the show in 1969 he was replaced in the cast by Nimoy.

In 1975 he co-starred alongside wife Barbara Bain in the sci-fi program “Space: 1999,” a groundbreaking show that is still considered a classic. Following the show’s cancellation he continued doing episodic television along with the occasional film roles. He earned his first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in 1989’s “Tucker: The Man and his Dream.” The next year saw nomination number two, this time for his work in Woody Allen’s “Crime and Misdemeanors.” The third time proved the charm when he took home the Oscar for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton’s “Ed Wood.” He continued to work steadily, appearing on television and in films up to his death. His last film, “Without Ward,” is scheduled to be released next month. Mr. Landau was 89-years-old and his cause of death is listed as “Complications” after a brief hospital stay.

If you are familiar with the term “Zombie” you have one man to thank: George A. Romero. The New York born writer/director also passed away today after a battle with lung cancer. He was 77-years-old.

After graduating from Carnegie-Mellon college in Pittsburgh he made the steel city his home, shooting many of his films in the area. In the mid-1960s he and some friends pitched in their money to create Image Ten Productions. After a series of short films, he co-wrote (with John Russo) and directed one of the most influential films of all time, the black and white horror classic “Night of the Living Dead.” To honor the film the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress inducted it into its ranks. After a few less commercial films he returned to the horror genre with the film “Martin.” But it was his next film that cemented him into the pantheon of horror film legend, 1978’s “Dawn of the Dead.” In an endeavor to release the film away from the Image Ten company the copyrights to “Night of the Living Dead” were lost, putting the film into the public domain, which meant that when home video came around Romero did not share in any of the proceeds.

I was a teenager in Tampa when a friend of mine called me and said I had to get to the theatre he worked at by 7:30. They were holding a sneak preview and, even though he couldn’t tell me what it was, he said I would hate myself if I missed it. Gathering a few of my friends we made it to the theatre in time to be admitted to the auditorium. This was back in the days when a sneak preview was just that – the filmmakers just showed up at a theatre with a print and showed it to an unknowing audience. Well my friend was right. I would have been pissed to learn I had missed out on the first screening of “Dawn of the Dead.” Shot in color with incredible effects by make-up legend Tom Savini, the film gave me nightmares for weeks. Made for $1.5 million, “Dawn of the Dead” went on to gross over $40 million, making Romero a much sought after director. He followed the film in 1981 with “Knightriders,” starring Ed Harris and another horror classic, the 1982 anthology “Creepshow.”

In 1985 he delivered “Day of the Dead,” but it was not as well met by fans or critics as the previous two. He also directed “The Dark Half,” based on a Stephen King story and wrote the script for the Tom Savini-directed color remake of “Night of the Living Dead.” In 2005 he directed “Land of the Dead” and followed it up with two more films, “Diary of the Dead” (2007) and 2009’s “Survival of the Dead.”

The Hollywood Show is an Amazing Experience

Meeting Richard Dreyfuss. My lanyard reads “Celebrity” but we know the truth.

I’ve been attending fan conventions since I was 16-years-old. In those 40 years I’ve had the chance to meet so many of my favorite celebrities, from the cast of the original “Star Trek” series to such esteemed filmmakers as Martin Scorsese, John Avildsen, Ron Howard and Brian DePalma. This past weekend I had the experience of seeing a convention from “the other side of the table” when I was a celebrity guest of the Hollywood Show in Los Angeles.

Being a guest at a show like the Hollywood Show is a surreal moment. Instead of standing in line and talking to people about who you are going to meet (favorite roles, etc) there are people standing in line to talk to YOU. The show was very “Jaws”-centric, which means had I lived in LA I would have been the first one in line. Among the guests from my favorite film were Joe Alves, Carl Gottlieb, Roy Arbogast, Ted Grossman and the show’s headliner, Academy Award winner Richard Dreyfuss. As the co-author of the definitive book on “Jaws 2,” I was placed in the same row as a group of “Amity Kids” from the film: Donna Wilkes, Gigi Vorgan, Tom Dunlop, Ben Marley, Billy Van Zandt and Martha Swatek. Both Ann Dusenberry and Gary Springer were hoping to attend but cancelled, Gary having to work and Ann’s father, Bruce, having sadly passed away recently. Another “Jaws” highlight was the amazing sculpture of Robert Shaw as Quint in the fighting chair, which was created by Nick Marra. Mr. Marra also created the amazing sculpture of Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss at the back of the ORCA that was featured at the 2012 JAWSFest.

Nick Marra’s amazing Quint sculpture.

But if you weren’t a “Jaws” fan there was someone there for everyone. Fans of classic television had the opportunity to meet Wally and the Beaver (Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow), Mary Ann (Dawn Wells), Barney Miller and Stan Wojciehowicz (Hal Linden and Max Gail) as well as several “Star Trek” stars, including Nichelle Nichols, Fred Williamson and Mariette Hartley. Besides Richard Dreyfuss, film fans got to spend time with such stars as Bruce Dern and Paul Sorvino. Current television was also represented, with many soap opera stars attending on Saturday. I was pleased to find that sitting directly behind me was the cast of “Mike and Molly,” with Billy Gardell’s back often ending up in the photos taken of me.

Not only were the celebrity guests friendly and generous with their time, they weren’t charging an arm and a leg. I’ve been to shows where celebrities charge a minimum of $50 just for an autograph. If you want a photo with them, it’s more. The highest priced signature here was Mr. Dreyfuss’, who was charging $40. But with that signature you could take a photo with him and, of course, chat for a few moments. Most of the guests were signing for $25 or less, meaning you had more celebrity opportunities for your dollar.

Me and the JAWS 2 kids (l-r): Ben Marley, Tom Dunlop, Martha Swatek, yours truly and Billy Van Zandt.

To me, the best part was when a representative of the show came to my table and escorted me to the “Celebrity Lounge,” where Goody Bags were prepared for the guests. I was taken around the room and offered everything from jewelry to bath salts, from wine glasses to hand painted chocolates. I was amused that a few of the gift representatives told me how much they enjoyed my last project and a couple even asked what I had coming up next. “Another book,” I’d reply. They would write down my name and ask to take a photo of me with their product, which I found to be an incredible boost for me ego. And I can’t help but think that somewhere is an advertisement featuring me holding up a bag of snack crackers reading, “Michael Smith LOVES ‘Rice Crisps'” (and I must admit, I did. Especially the pizza flavored ones). The next Hollywood Show in Los Angeles is coming up in October and it’s early guest list looks like it’s filled by the stars of “Hill Street Blues” and the film “The Warriors.” For information please go HERE.

All an all, the entire weekend was an amazing time for me, both as a fan and as a “celebrity.” I’ll be doing the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in Baltimore in September. I hope the people with the Pizza Rice Crisps are there!

Film Review: “47 Meters Down”

Starring: Mandy Moore, Claire Holt and Matthew Modine
Directed by: Johannes Roberts
Rated: PG-13
Running time: 1 hr 29 mins
Entertainment Studios

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

If you’ve EVER read any of my work over a short period of time you probably know that my favorite film of all time, bar none, is “Jaws.” A great film with so many different layers that people often look past everything but the shark. So when I see in a television commercial that a film critic has called “47 Meters Down” “…the best shark movie since JAWS,” I have to shake my head. First off, if all “Jaws” is to you is a SHARK movie…you shouldn’t be reviewing films. The shark is only part of the film. That would be like me calling the last “Pirates of the Caribbean” film, “…the best movie about people on a boat since JAWS.” That being said, “47 Meters Down” is not too bad.

We meet Lisa (Moore) and her sister, Kate (Holt) as they arrive in beautiful, sunny Mexico for a planned vacation. While Kate is bubbly and ready for adventure, Lisa is just the opposite. She finally confesses that her boyfriend has left her and she’s unsure how to handle the rejection. Unfazed, Kate convinces Lisa to head out to the clubs, where they meet two young men. Soon the foursome agree to meet up at the local dock to go out in the ocean and observe sharks while protected by a steel cage. Though she has never scuba dived before, Lisa fakes her way past the boat’s captain (Modine) and soon the two find themselves dangling over the side. As they are lowered into the water they find themselves surrounded by a couple of good sized Great White Sharks. Luckily the cable holding the cage has been checked and inspected for quality and strength. Right?

A Nyctophobian Thriller (let’s see them use THAT in an ad…it means “fear of the dark”), “47 Meters Down is blessed with mostly solid performances and very impressive CGI effects that gives the viewer a pretty good idea what it must be like to be 150 feet underwater surrounded by sharks. Big ones, though, sadly, not the 21 to 28 footers that Skipper Modine swears he constantly sees on his adventures. Which is pretty damn good, considering the largest one ever on record has been right along 20 feet long. By comparison, the shark in JAWS was 25 feet long.

The performances are pretty strong, especially from the two actresses. They help build the tension long after the audience should have been bored. One complaint is with New England-born actor Chris Johnson, who plays Modine’s assistant, Javier. Mr. Johnson must have watched a lot of “Chico and the Man” growing up because, like the late, great Freddie Prinze, he pronounces certain words with a hard CH sound, i.e. “Here comes a CHark!”

Shark wise the film is well done. The computer sharks move smoothly and there is no “super-shark” that shows up like in last summer’s disappointing “The Shallows.” Credit director Roberts for keeping the action going, making up for an almost disappointing ending.

Tim Thomerson talks about his new film “Asylum of Darkness” and some of old favorites

Even if you don’t recognize the name, believe me when I say you know Tim Thomerson. From the hilarious television show “Quark” to supporting roles in such films as “Iron Eagle,” “Rhinestone,” “Near Dark” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” to his starring performance as Jack Deth in the highly popular “Trancers” series, he has made good movies better and bad movies watchable.

While promoting his latest film, “Asylum of Darkness,” Mr. Thomerson took the time to talk about his long career and even indulged me in talking about some of my favorite films/performances of his.

Mike Smith: Can you give our readers a short introduction to your character in “Asylum of Darkness?”

Tim Thomerson: I play a detective named Kesler, which is a name director Jay Woelfel uses in many of his films (this is not the first time Mr. Thomerson has played a character with that name).

MS: Are those the roles you tend to gravitate too? Cop or soldier or someone else in authority?

TT: It’s really the paycheck that gravitates me to a role, you understand? (laughs) Any kind of money that they will give me that allows me to do what I like to do will count. No, no. I’ve known Jay for a long time and he’s a good guy to work with. Very easy to work with. I know his cameraman and I’ve done three movies with him. He knows my work and it was a pretty easy character to play for me. I just threw another trench coat on and parted my hair on the other side and wore glasses. I’m pretty sure in some scenes I’m wearing glasses. Probably because I’m reading my script off-camera. Like Brando. (laughs)

MS: It worked for him.

TT: It sure did, didn’t it!

MS: “Asylum of Darkness” features one of Richard Hatch’s last performances. How was he to work with?

TT: Richard was a good guy. I knew him for a long time. We had done a film together called “Unseen Evil,” which Jay had also directed. That was the first time I had met Richard. I knew who he was from “The Streets of San Francisco” and “Battlestar Galactica.” We’re both from California and he was an old-time surfer. I surf so we struck up a friendship. He was a real cool guy to be around. I would see him all the times at conventions and we would talk. He was a very mellow guy. The quintessential California person. The “Jeff Bridges” guy. Not from “The Big Lebowski” but Jeff in real life.

MS: I’ve got what I consider five of your best roles in films that fans may have missed but are definitely worth seeing. But before we talk about them, do you have a favorite role or performance of yours that you’re most proud of?

TT: Typically I never watch my work. If I happen to catch something, or if there is something I want to see to make sure I pulled it off…was I good in it or was I shitty in it? Did I do it how I was trained? (NOTE: Mr. Thomerson studied with the great Stella Adler for four years. Among her other students: Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Elaine Stritch and Harvey Keitel). I guess one of my favorite roles was a character I did on “Hill Street Blues,” where I played a slum-lord named Nat Rikers. The role was the farthest I’d ever gotten from myself. I worked really hard to become this character. That’s one of my favorite guys. Then there was a little movie I did that Bryan Cranston directed called “Last Chance,” where I played an alcoholic writer, kind of an Ernest Hemingway-type guy. He gets writer’s block and gets back on the booze. He goes to A A and becomes a truck driver. Bryan and his wife produced it and we shot it out in the desert outside Palm Springs in a place known as “Methadonia” because there are so many meth labs out there. It’s a good little movie about a guy who’s involved with a girl who’s stuck in a bad marriage. But working for Bryan, and the direction that he gave me, like I said I usually don’t sit and watch my stuff, but the best direction I got from him…I was kind of stuck because I usually play bad guys or comedy guys. But this was a real person and I had to drop all of the “tough guy” snarls and just BE this guy. So Bryan told me, ‘just say the words. Just talk.’ And I thought, “Wow!” Nobody had ever told me that before. Bryan took the time to say that and that’s all he had to say. So that is also one of my favorites. Those are two of the things that I actually saw and I said to myself, “I believe that guy is real.”

MM: OK, I’m going to give you the title of a television show or film that you appeared in and just give me the first memory that comes to mind.

TT: I’m ready.

MM: “Quark.”

TT: Oh man, that was fun. That was a lot of fun. It was really one of my first jobs. I mean a legit job. I had been doing stand-up for awhile and I think I had just done “Car Wash” before that. It was so much fun. We only did eight episodes. It was great to work with Richard Benjamin. Buck Henry created the show and wrote some of them. It was the first time I got to work with Geoffrey Lewis, the great character actor, and Henry Silva. And I got to work with Ross Martin, who was great. It was a fun show to do and it was fun to play that silly character. And it was pretty hip stuff. And it was funny. I mean, even doing it was funny. Richard Benjamin was such a funny person. And we had great directors. Directors who had been doing television comedy since the beginning. We had Hy Averback, who had done “Sgt Bilko” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” It was the 1970s but we had guys that had been working since the 50s and 60s. Everybody laughed on the show. The crew and the cast. It was fun. Really fun.

MM: “Carny”

TT: “Carny??” Nobody knows that movie. Any time you get to work with Gary Busey it’s going to be a trip. There were a lot of really fine actors in that film. Robbie Robertson wasn’t too bad for his first film, but we had Jodie Foster and Ken McMillian and Craig Wasson. We filmed it in Savannah, Georgia at a real carnival. We worked nights. For two months. And two months of night work – in Savannah, Georgia in the deep South – can make you crazy. Working on that movie was fun. I had known Gary so to work with him was fun. He was a real good guy. It’s so funny you picked that one. Nobody knows that movie, which is a shame because it’s a well shot movie. Jodie was still a youngster so, when we were filming at night, they’d shoot her stuff then shoo her off the set. Get her away from the insanity! Because when you work until 4 or 5 in the morning, that’s when the party started. Bunch of stunt guys and crazy electricians. It was pretty nuts. I had a lot of fun on that movie.

MM: “Honkytonk Man”

TT: Well, of course, I got to work with Clint (Eastwood). That was a mind blower for me because I’d always been a fan. And, of course, he was so cool. We shot it on the east side of the Sierras in the oldest city in California called Genoa. Working with Eastwood….I mean it goes by so fast. (Does a pretty good Clint Eastwood impression) “All right Tim, we’re going to shoot your close-up. Step on in here. Are you ready?” I said, ‘yes sir, I am” and we did one take. That was it man. We were gone. He flew me in and flew me out. What was fun about working on that movie was that Clint’s son, Kyle, was also in it. Years later I was skiing on a mountain one day when a guy ski’d up to me and said (gruff voice), “Hey, how you doing?” And of course, it was Clint and his son. I didn’t recognize him at first because he had a buzz haircut because he was working on “Heartbreak Ridge.” He had the G.I. Joe cut, you know? And I kept standing there thinking, ‘what is this big guy looking at me?” Then I recognized Kyle. The guy I was skiing with said, “You know Clint Eastwood?” And I just said, “Yeah.” It was just a great experience. I also worked on a movie he produced called “Ratboy” that Sondra Locke directed. It was just fun being around him, no matter how little the time was. And talk about a quiet set. No bullshit…everybody doing their job. That really impressed me.

MM: Finally, one of my guilty pleasures. I don’t know WHY I love this movie so much. “Rhinestone.”

TT: (bursts out laughing for quite a long time) Did you just say “Rhinestone?” You’re not from Kansas City. You must be from Dixie.

MM: I grew up in Tampa so maybe that helps.

TT: I’ve got to tell you, I once was told that “Rhinestone” and another film I was in, were called the worst movies of the 1980s. (NOTE: I’m thinking the other film was “Metalstorm,” a 3D extravaganza that is pretty much on every “Worst Films” list. But I got to work with Dick Farnsworth. Dolly Parton. Stallone gave me the job. I never knew that until years later when his brother, Frank, told me that. I’d known Frank for a while and one night he said to me, “you know, my brother gave you that job in “Rhinestone.” And I was like, “are you shitting me?” And he said, “uh uh.” Then one time, later, Sly walked up to me and said (Mr. Thomerson also does a fine Sylvester Stallone impression) “I really like what you did in that ‘Trancers” movie. It was a great set. Not complicated. No drama. We knew each other’s beats and rehearsed if. And then Dolly…you just don’t get any better than her, she’s such a neat lady. That was a lot of fun. And the fact that I got to work with Richard Farnsworth. Such a great man to work with.

MediaMikes 2017 Summer Movie Preview

Summertime, summertime, sum, sum, summertime. Yes indeed, time for school to end and the non-stop days of fun to begin. Unless you have a full time job, like all of us at MediaMikes do. Then it’s just time to find a few hours a week to watch something good. And there appears to be plenty of good for everyone from now until school starts again. “Summer” has gotten off to a big start, with “Fate of the Furious” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2” already kicking serious box office ass. But not to worry, there are plenty more movies to see.

Once again, some synopsis information courtesy of our friends at the Internet Movie Data Base and, please remember, opening dates are subject to change at the whim of the studios.

MAY 26

“Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”

Starring: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and, I swear to God, Paul McCartney
Directed by: Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg
Synopsis: Captain Jack Sparrow is back and this time he’s searching for the trident of Poseidon. Looks much better then the last installment. I interviewed the directors a couple years ago and they seemed to have an enthusiasm for the project that had been lost.

“Baywatch”

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron and Alexandra Daddario
Directed by: Seth Gordon
Synopsis: Lifeguard Mitch Buchanan and his team uncover a criminal plot that threatens the future of the Bay. Go for Zac Efron’s abs, stay for, I hope I hope, a sweet David Hasselhoff cameo.

“War Machine”

Starring: Brad Pitt, Ben Kingsley and Anthony Michael Hall
Directed by: David Michod
Synopsis: A no-holds-barred look at the career of US Army General Glen McMahon. Ooo-rah!

“Berlin Syndrome”

Starring: Teresa Palmer and Max Riemelt
Directed by: Cate Shortland
Synopsis: A passionate holiday romance leads to an obsessive relationship when an Australian photojournalist wakes one morning in a Berlin apartment and is unable to leave. I’ve been to Berlin. The apartments were THAT amazing.

JUNE 2

“Wonder Woman”

Starring: Gal Gadot, Robin Wright and Chris Pine
Directed by: Patty Jenkins
Synopsis: The best part of “Batman vs Superman” gets her own origin film. Fingers crossed for a Lynda Carter cameo.

JUNE 9

“The Mummy”

Starring: Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe and Courtney B. Vance
Directed by: Alex Kurtzman
Synopsis: An ancient princess is awakened from her crypt beneath the desert, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia, and terrors that defy human comprehension. This is not Brendan Fraser’s father’s Mummy!

“Megan Leavey”

Starring: Kate Mara, Tom Felton and Will Patton
Directed by: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Synopsis: Based on the true-life story of a young marine corporal whose unique discipline and bond with her military combat dog saved many lives during their deployment in Iraq. Love dog movies. As opposed to movies that ARE dogs.

“It Comes at Night”

Starring: Riley Keough and Joel Edgerton
Directed by: Trey Edward Shults
Synopsis: Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, a man has established a tenuous domestic order with his wife and son, but this will soon be put to the test when a desperate young family arrives seeking refuge. Keough’s grandfather passed away 40 years ago. You may have heard of him: Elvis Presley.

JUNE 16

“Cars 3”

Starring the voices of: Owen Wilson, Armie Hammer and Larry the Cable Guy
Directed by: Brian Fee
Synposis: Lightning McQueen sets out to prove to a new generation of racers that he’s still the best race car in the world. And that “Cars 2” was just a bad dream.

“The Book of Henry”

Starring: Naomi Watts and Jacob Tremblay
Directed by: Colin Trevorrow
Synopsis: A single mom raises a child genius. Tremblay was the best thing about “Room.” Maybe in his next film he can actually have a father.

JUNE 23

“Transformers: The Last Knight”

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Gemma Chan and Anthony Hopkins
Directed by: Michael Bay
Synopsis: Seriously? You actually care about the PLOT of this movie? Fine. Humans and Transformers are at war, Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving our future lies buried in the secrets of the past, in the hidden history of Transformers on Earth.

“The Big Sick”

Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan and Holly Hunter
Directed by: Michael Showalter
Synopsis: A couple deals with their cultural differences as their relationship grows. Just like real life.

“The Bad Batch”

Starring: Suki Waterhouse, Jason Mamoa and Jm Carrey
Directed by: Ann Lily Amirpour
Synopsis: A dystopian love story in a Texas wasteland, set in a community of cannibals. I’m just getting into “Breaking Bad.” I thought this had something to do with blue meth.

JUNE 28

“Baby Driver”

Starring: Ansel Elgort, Lily James and Kevin Spacey
Directed by: Edgar Wright
Synopsis: After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail. You know who has never failed? Edgar Wright.

JUNE 30

“Despicable Me 3”

Starring the voices of: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig and Trey Parker
Directed by: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin and Eric Guillon
Synopsis: Balthazar Bratt, a child star from the 1980s, hatches a scheme for world domination. Oh, and the Minions.

“The Beguiled”

Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst
Directed by: Sofia Coppola
Synopsis: At a girls’ school in Virginia during the Civil War, where the young women have been sheltered from the outside world, a wounded Union soldier is taken in. This is a remake of the 1971 Clint Eastwood/Geraldine Page film.

“The House”

Starring: Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler and Ryan Simpkins
Directed by: Andrew J. Cohen
Synopsis: A dad convinces his friends to start an illegal casino in his basement after he and his wife spend their daughter’s college fund. Bet with your head, not over it!

JULY 7

“Spider-Man: Homecoming”

Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton and more than one Avenger
Directed by: Jon Watts
Synopsis: Following the events of “Captain America: Civil War,” Peter Parker attempts to balance his life in high school with his career as the web-slinging superhero Spider-Man. The few minutes he was featured in the last “Captain America” film showed Holland to be perfectly cast as the young web-master.

“A Ghost Story”

Starring: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara
Directed by: David Lowery
Synopsis: In this singular exploration of legacy, love, loss, and the enormity of existence, a recently deceased, white-sheeted ghost returns to his suburban home to try and reconnect with his bereft wife. Is that an Oscar under your sheet or are you just glad to see me?

JULY 14

“War for the Planet of the Apes”

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn and Andy Serkis
Directed by: Matt Reeves
Synopsis: After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind.

JULY 21

“Dunkirk”

Starring: Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and Tom Hardy
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Synopsis: Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire, Canada, and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.

“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”

Starring: Dane DeHaan, Clive Owen and John Goodman
Directed by: Luc Besson
Synopsis: A dark force threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets. Special operatives Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.

JULY 28

“Atomic Blonde”

Starring: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy and, once again, John Goodman
Directed by: David Leitch
Synopsis: An undercover MI6 agent is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents. Director Leitch is also helming the second “Deadpool” film.

AUGUST 4

“The Dark Tower”

Starring: Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey and Jackie Earle Haley
Directed by: Nikolaj Arcel
Synopsis: The Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, roams an Old West-like landscape where “the world has moved on” in pursuit of The Man In Black. He’s also searching for the fabled Dark Tower, in the hopes that reaching it will preserve his dying world. Good thing I’m going to read this later…until just now I thought Ron Howard was directing.

“Wind River”

Starring: Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen and Graham Greene
Directed by: Taylor Sheridan
Synopsis: An FBI agent teams with the town’s veteran game tracker to investigate a murder that occurred on a Native American reservation. Director Sheridan wrote both 2015’s “Sicario” and last year’s Best Picture nominee, “Hell or High Water.”

“Ingrid Goes West”

Starring: Aubrey Plaza, O’Shea Jackson Jr and, once again, Elizabeth Olsen
Directed by: Matt Spicer
Synopsis: Ingrid Thorburn, a mentally disturbed young woman, becomes obsessed with Taylor Sloane, a social-media star who appears to have the perfect life.

“Detroit”

Starring: John Krasinski, John Boyega and Anthony Mackie
Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow
Synopsis: A police raid in Detroit in 1967 results in one of the largest citizen uprisings in the United States’ history. Another team up of Oscar winning writer Mark Boal and Academy Award winning director Bigelow.

AUGUST 18

“Logan Lucky”

Starring: Daniel Craig, Channing Tatum and Adam Driver
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Synopsis: Two brothers attempt to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race in North Carolina. And then run moonshine?

Film Review: “Logan”

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Dafne Keen and Patrick Stewart
Directed by: James Mangold
Rated: R
Running time: 2 hrs 15 mins
20th Century Fox

Our Score: 4 out of 5 Stars

Thank you Deadpool. It was just a year ago when your film came out and you proved to Hollywood that a well-made “R” rated comic book movie CAN make money. Not sure if you planned on doing $135 million opening weekend but God bless you. After years of PG-13 films where there seemed to be no visual consequences from the damages done, filmmakers can now decide on whether to be as graphic as some of the source material they are using. The year’s first entry features everybody’s favorite X-man, the Wolverine, in “Logan.”

The year is 2029. When we first meet up with Logan (Jackman) he is a limo driver whose ride is about to be jacked by a gang of ruffians. Gray-haired and looking haggard, he implores the thieves to try their luck somewhere else, only to be answered with a shotgun blast to the chest. As the Waco kid said to Sheriff Bart in “Blazing Saddles” when talking about Mongo, “don’t shoot him…you’ll only make him mad!” And mad he becomes, springing his adamantium claws and making mincemeat of his attackers. Literally minced meat. Arms are severed, eyes gouged out, blood spurts. And this is only five minutes into the film! This isn’t your father’s Wolverine.

Packed with wall to wall action, “Logan” is a fitting ending to Hugh Jackman’s association with Wolverine. Counting cameos in other films, this is Jackman’s 10th appearance in the role that made him a star and he uses that history to his advantage. He not only knows the character he IS the character. And here he has a little help. Mutants are literally non-existent in the future and he earns his money driving a limo so that he can take care of Professor Xavier (Stewart) who he is hiding in an old junk yard and assisted by Caliban (Stephen Merchant) an Albino whose aversion to the sun is more real than Count Dracula. Logan finds himself constantly being bothered by a young woman asking for his help. He finally comes into contact with Laura (Keen), a precocious pre-teen who also has the ability to spring claws. Unfortunately, unlike Logan, Laura really has no filter on her powers so she might kill you for a can of Pringles. Laura was part of a medical experiment where a Dr. Rice (Richard E. Grant) supervised the creation of children but with the mutant powers he wished them to have. Ironically, the kids have been raised on X-men comics, so they think there is a place for them out in the world.

In a wise choice, this film is directed by James Mangold, who has given us some great personal drams like “Copland” and “Walk the Line” and his presence behind the camera (and with script duties) helps keep the film grounded. In between the violent encounters, and fans with younger children I do urge you to use caution before you bring them to this, is an emotional payoff that will stick with you. But it Jackman’s film and Jackman’s character that you will leave the theatre remembering.

Film Review: “My Name is Emily”

Starring: Evanna Lynch, Michael Smiley and George Webster
Directed by: Simon Fitzmaurice
Rated: Not Rated
Running time: 1 hr 40 mins
Monument Releasing

Our Score: 4 out of 5 Stars

“They name hurricanes after me.”

So we are told as we are introduced to Emily, who narrates the film bearing her name. We learn that her father spent a year after her birth reading multitudes of books, trying to understand the meaning of having a daughter. Finally he decided that the greatest teacher about his daughter IS his daughter and they form an unbreakable bond. When Emily (Lynch, who you may recognize from the Harry Potter films – she played Luna Lovegood) comes home upset from school – the kids call her “weirdo” for reading books – her father (Smiley) shows her in the dictionary that the term is not a bad one. Dad finds success as an author but, when he and his wife are involved in an automobile accident, killing her, he begins to withdraw into himself, finally being committed to a mental institution. This puts Emily into a foster home, where she is the new kid at school once again. But soon, like the hurricane, she is once again and on the move.

A sweetly written story about love and the bonds it forms, “My Name is Emily” succeeds in part thanks to a fine cast of young actors. While at school Emily catches the eye of classmate Arden (Webster) and, while their interaction is at first minimal, it’s easy to see that Arden is smitten. After a bad day at school, where Emily announces that it’s her birthday, Arden brings her a gift and tries to be a comforting shoulder. But Emily is too strong. Or so it seems. Soon she has convinced Arden to accompany her to the north of England to search for her father. Both Lynch, with her wide, blue eyes and Webster give strong performances in what could have easily been stereotypical teenage roles. Credit this to director Fitzmaurice, who also wrote the film, whose pacing keeps the film moving smoothly.

Technically the film is strongly helped by the beautiful Irish countryside that surrounds the two on their long road trip. The musical score by Stephen McKeon helps move the story along as well. “My Name is Emily” is playing in select theatres and is also available through Video on Demand.