They had a long way to go and a short time to get there, but hundreds of fans in Trans Ams have put the hammer down and made it to Atlanta to celebrate the 40th anniversary of "Smokey and the Bandit.".
"The Big Sick" is the story of a Pakistani-American stand-up comedian, not unlike the film's star Kumail Nanjiani, who falls for a spunky woman from North Carolina, just like Nanjiani's real-life wife Emily V. Gordon. The romantic comedy follows a storyline of how the pair meet-cute, face a deadly health issue and discover there's no real obstacle big enough to stop two people in love. That's both what happens in the film and what occurred in the life of the writers. But despite all the parallels, Nanjiani feels better describing the new movie as "being inspired" by their real story.
"The Hero" begins with Sam Elliott's character, a veteran actor, reading a voice-over about barbecue sauce, and that's when it hit me: Sam Elliott's voice is barbecue sauce. Pour it on any movie – and oh, that voice does pour, in thick, velvety dollops – and it tastes better.
As its title indicates, "My Journey Through French Cinema" is personal with a capital P, a passionate, opinionated, drop-dead fascinating documentary essay about that country's film history put together by a clear-eyed enthusiast who was born to tell the tale.
It was a curious twist that Hulk Hogan's sex tape became a test for the First Amendment in an era when the news media were increasingly vulnerable to petulant billionaires, angry mobs, shrinking advertising, a Twitter-frenzied president and a Montana congressman who body-slammed a reporter.
It's official: Oscar-winning director Ron Howard is taking over the reins of Lucasfilm's Han Solo "Star Wars" spinoff. Whether that's a win for fans or the mark of a troubling turn to the dark side for the 40-year-old franchise remains to be seen.
Director-writer Ana Lily Amirpour's first feature, "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night" from 2014, was such an original, revelatory vision – a hallucinatory vampire story set in an otherworldly mashup of California and Iran shot in a luminescent black and white – that it set the bar impossibly high for what she decided to do next. Sadly, her latest, "The Bad Batch" doesn't come close to clearing that hurdle.
Before ancient Mesopotamia was transformed into 20th-century Iraq, the extraordinary British diplomat, mountaineer, archaeologist and spy Gertrude Bell was working to carve up the Middle East into principalities that Europe could comfortably control. She and her compatriot, T.E. Lawrence, helped arm the Arab rebellion against the Ottoman Turks, cheering the cause of an independent Arab state. Lawrence, of course, became the subject of the Oscar-winning "Lawrence of Arabia." Now there's "Letters From Baghdad" in which filmdom finally pays heed to the fascinating, adventurous, intriguing character of Bell, the very antithesis of demure womanhood in Victorian England.
"Wakefield" is a symphony of wrong notes. For one, the star is Bryan Cranston, who always seems to be trying hard to force it in every performance. Here he plays Howard Wakefield, a prominent lawyer spiked with bile, who comes to his lovely suburban home after work and suffers one doozy of a midlife crisis. Rather than greeting his lovely wife (Jennifer Garner) and two teen daughters, he hides in the attic of the sizable detached garage. Spying on his family from a small window, he feels less and less attached, prolonging his absence to banish them from his life and escape from theirs.
ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL. 3 stars. Manhattan DA mounts a shaky mortgage fraud case against a family-run Chinatown bank, gets more than he bargained for from close-knit Chinese-American family. From director Steve James ("Hoop Dreams"). 1 hr. 30 No MPAA rating (adult themes) – Gary Thompson
When a wounded Christian Grey tries to entice a cautious Ana Steele back into his life, she demands a new arrangement before she will give him another chance. As the two begin to build trust and find stability, shadowy figures from Christian’s past start to circle the couple, determined to destroy their hopes for a future together.