- JAZZ FEST: A NEW ORLEANS STORY
- Starring: Quint Davis, Jimmy Buffet, Verdine White
- Directed by: Frank Marshall and Ryan Suffern
- Rated: PG 13
- Running time: 1 hr 35 mins
- Sony Pictures Classic
I often hear people talk about the music of their generation. My dad grew up listening to Frank Sinatra. My mom, Elvis. I grew up in the time of the Beatles. But there is another musician that influenced my life profoundly, His name is Al Yankovic.
How do you make a film about a man whose stated life ambition is to write funny lyrics to existing songs? It’s actually quite easy. Picking various points of the accordion master’s life, it seems that
Al (a very good Daniel Radcliffe) has a talent that must be shared with the world. Like my friends and I, Al was a fan of late-night radio host Dr. Demento (an unrecognizable Rainn Wilson) and sends him a tape of some of his songs. Much to his surprise, the Doctor plays his stuff on the air, which leads to Al thinking this could really be the start of something big.
Of course, not everyone thinks Al is a musical genius. Only after he is challenged by legendary DJ Wolfman Jack (Jack Black) to create, on the spot, a parody of Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” that he is able to quiet the naysayers. Think Eminem at the end of “8 Mile” and you have a good idea of how things go.
The film plays fast and loose with facts, but fans of Al wouldn’t want it any other way. If you’re a fan of “the Weird one,” then, by all means, give this one a look.
“WEIRD’ receives three and a half stars out of five.
Roger Waters: This is Not a Drill
T-mobile Center/Kansas City, MO
September 3, 2022
IN THE FLESH AND OUTSIDE THE WALL
Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment to give one random reader a chance to win a Blu-ray copy of one of last year’s biggest box office hits, “Spider-man: No Way Home.”
All you have to do is let us know below what upcoming super hero film you are most looking forward to. Pretty easy.
One random entry will be chosen and notified by email. This giveaway ends at 10:00 pm EST on Sunday, April 24th.
Starring: Todd Blubaugh and Nicola Collie
Directed by: Trevor Hawkins
Running Time: 97 minutes
Forrest (Blubaugh) is a wanderer. He spends his days tending to his sailboat, which doubles as his house, on a Missouri lake. He goes to land for essentials and to zip around town on his motorcycle. One day he finds another wanderer named Everly (Collie). The two fall for each other immediately and discuss a future that may never happen.
“Lotawana” reminds me a lot of 2016’s “American Honey,” and not just because both had scenes filmed in and around Kansas City, my hometown. Both films show aimless young adults coming into their own as adults even though they don’t want to become adults and do everything in their power to avoid that inevitability. Forrest, who we literally know almost next to nothing about, enjoys a simple life on a Missouri lake daydreaming about journeys around the globe he will never take. Everly, who we know barely a little bit more about, listens to these daydreams and adds to them. Neither of them is following through with those daydreams, but I won’t spoil why.
As “Lotawana” goes through the motions, we learn very little about our characters, picking up hints from the nature surrounding them as well as interactions they have with people who also live on or around the lake. Because of its vague nature, it wouldn’t surprise me if viewers had different theories as to what is happening and why. Personally, I feel like Forrest and Everly represent two ideologies when it comes to youth.
Forrest appears to be a symbol for privilege. We never really learn what he does or how he has money, but it’s clear he has no problem financially maintaining a boat with food. He also seems to be in no hurry to find a career unless that career is an unpaid internship he gives himself on his boat. Everly, who has a rocky relationship with her family, appears to be fleeing trauma she’s not willing to confront yet, if at all. Both find solace in their wanderlust, but both are following it for wrong reasons, meaning that the happiness we see on screen will eventually turn into conflict unless one of them makes the first move by making an adult decision.
Very rarely do I find myself enjoying a film that features no exposition, much less dialogue that reveals the inner workings or backstory of our characters. Most of the time I’d probably find this frustrating, but thanks to some outstanding cinematography and vignettes involving Forrest and Everly’s relationship, “Lotawana” is gorgeous and serendipitous at times. If “Lotawana” is any indication, first-time film director Trevor Hawkins has a bright future ahead.
Starring: Kenny Leu, Ciara Renee and Clifton Davis
Directed by: Aimee Long
Running Time: 89 minutes
There are plenty of days where I feel like nuance is missing. I say that because we have so much content at our fingertips now, it’s hard to really dive into the meat of something. We need to get to the next piece of content to devour, so we look at the headline or photo and move on. Without diving too deep into the realm of politics “A Shot Through the Wall” still manages to do a very impressive job of reminding us that not everything is black and white.
Mike Tan (Leu), the son of two Chinese immigrants, is a fresh-faced street cop in New York City. Unfortunately for him, his white and also fresh-faced partner looks for trouble where it isn’t, spotting a few young African-American teens who “should be in school.” One of those teens flees, for reasons we don’t know and soon won’t care about. Tan, just a dozen steps behind the teen, ends up in an apartment complex, unholsters his gun, but accidentally fires off a shot under pressure. That one accidental gunshot enters an apartment, killing an African-American man and setting off a chain of events.
“A Shot Through the Wall” plays with a lot of unfortunate things that happen during officer-involved shootings. We see the immediate outrage from the public, even when all the facts aren’t in yet. We also see the cellphone footage that’s released of Officer Tan attempting to revive the man he accidentally shot. What the cellphone doesn’t capture, is everything that led up to that shooting, as well as everything after. Nonetheless, the cellphone footage captures only one part of the incident which still paints Officer Tan in a negative light. We also see accusations of racism and conspiratorial thinking along the lines of police cover-ups, as well as the threat of vigilantes looking for their own brand of justice. On the flip side, we do see how police attempt to smooth things over, through potential plea deals and PR campaigns. While all of this is interesting, that’s not what makes “A Shot Through the Wall” unique, because we’ve seen this before in other movies.
“A Shot Through the Wall” takes us through the emotional toll this takes on Tan, his family, his African-American fiancée and others. The movie does make a critical mistake in not showing us the emotional pain the actual victims family and friends are going through, but that may also be a creative choice on the end of Aimee Long in her first written and directed film. She’s not shy about showing some unmentionable truths, like the fact that Tan isn’t racist at all, but his parents are. Or the fact that Tan goes back and forth on whether or not to put his relationship on the line by publicly proclaiming, “I have a black girlfriend, so I can’t be a racist who shot an unarmed black man.”
In the end though, and throughout the movie, the audience has to wonder: Is Officer Tan innocent? It’s a tough call and the movie, to it’s credits, opts to let Officer Tan say if he is or isn’t himself before the credits roll. “A Shot Through the Wall” isn’t about red vs. blue, Black Lives Matter vs. Blue Lives Matter, or any of the usual nonsense that’s associated with officer-involved shootings nowadays. It’s about the pain of it all. For that, I’m grateful I watched “A Shot Through the Wall” because we sometimes need a reminder that we’re all humans on this random spinning globe and the only way to confront pain is head-on.
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