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Review: ‘Get Hard’ plays with stereotypes with mixed success

In this image released by Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., Kevin Hart, right, and Will Ferrell appear in a scene from "Get Hard." (AP Photo/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., Patti Perret)

While the stereotypes in “Get Hard” may be gross exaggerations, its characters live in the real world: A place where the chasm between rich and poor is vast and growing; where black men are disproportionately jailed and white-collar criminals often evade punishment. In this New Orleans-filmed comedy from first-time director Etan Cohen, James (Will Ferrell)… Continue reading →

Review: Animated alien adventure ‘Home’ lands with a thud

Photo provided by DreamWorks Animation -- Characters Lucy, voiced by Jennifer Lopez, left, and Tip, voiced by Rihanna appear in a scene from the animated film 'Home.'

In “Home,” the latest adventure from DreamWorks Animation, the misfit alien protagonist is called Oh (“The Big Bang Theory’s” Jim Parsons) simply because that’s the resigned reaction everyone has when he’s around. “Oh,” his brethren say with deep indifference at his desperate, over-the-top attempts to fit in and make friends. It’s meant to turn into something positive… Continue reading →

Louisiana Film Society slates ‘Woman in Gold’ screening

Photo provided by the Weinstein Company -- Left to right, Ryan Reynolds, Helen Mirren and Daniel Bruhl in a scene from 'Woman in Gold.'

The Louisiana International Film Festival and Louisiana Film Society will screen “Woman in Gold,” a drama starring Helen Mirren, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 31, at Cinemark Perkins Rowe in Baton Rouge. Mirren plays Maria Altmann, a Holocaust survivor who, with the help of a young lawyer, played by Ryan Reynolds, battles the Austrian government for… Continue reading →

’Insurgent’ seizes top spot; ‘The Gunman’ misfires

This photo provided by Lionsgate shows, Kate Winslet, left, as Jeanine, and Ansel Elgort, as Caleb, in a scene from the film, "The Divergent Series: Insurgent."  The movie opens in U.S. theaters Friday, March 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Lionsgate, Andrew Cooper)

LOS ANGELES — Sean Penn’s “The Gunman” was no match for the rebel kids of “Insurgent.” The second installment in the “Divergent” series easily topped the box office with $54 million from 3,875 theaters, according Rentrak estimates Sunday. Penn’s geopolitical thriller stumbled with only $5 million. While the second films in both the “Hunger Games”… Continue reading →

Review: Penn flexes action-hero muscles in ‘Gunman’

Open Road Films photo by EKITH BERNSTEIN -- Sean Penn stars as mercenary Jim Terrier in 'The Gunman.'

At one point in “The Gunman,” the new Sean Penn geopolitical thriller, our star goes surfing. It’s supposed to show he has a reckless side, since he’s surfing in unsafe territory, but it seems to have a larger, much more obvious purpose: To show us that Penn, at 54, is ripped. Very, very ripped. It’s no… Continue reading →

Review: The rebellious women of ‘Insurgent’ break the action mold

Photo by Andrew Cooper -- From left, Theo James, Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley share a scene in 'The Divergent Series: Insurgent.'

On the surface, “Insurgent,” with its dystopian setting and teenage heroine, might just seem like another by-the-numbers young adult tale. Look a little closer and it’s clear that this second installment isn’t merely capitalizing on a popular genre, but, with its half dozen female leads and supporting characters, actually represents a subtle… Continue reading →

Review: New ‘Cinderella’ can’t fill predecessor’s slippers

Photo by JONATHAN OLLEY --Lily James is Cinderella and Cate Blanchett plays the Stepmother in the live-action feature 'Cinderella.' Opening last weekend, the film topped the box office, earning $67.9 million.

Walt Disney’s 1950 animated-feature version of the fairy tale “Cinderella,” produced for the then-risky sum of $3 million, became a popular hit and another Disney classic. Walt Disney Pictures’ new live-action “Cinderella” features attractive leads in Lily James (“Downton Abbey”) and Richard Madden (“Game of Thrones”), grand fairy-tale settings and, when it counts, affecting… Continue reading →

N.O. singer wins ‘The Voice’ battle round

Photo provided  by NBC -- Tonya Boyd-Cannon

New Orleans singer Tonya Boyd-Cannon won her first battle on NBC’s “The Voice” Monday night. “I’ve always wanted to share my voice with the world,” Boyd-Cannon said before her “battles round” performance. She entered the ring with fellow Team Adam (Levine) member James McNeiece, of Howell, Michigan, to sing their duet of Continue reading →

LPB, State Archives launch Louisiana Digital Media Archive to house and preserve historic video footage

Photo provided by LPB -- Robyn Merrick, director of Alumni Affairs at Southern University, left, and LPB archivist Leslie Bourgeois check out the new Louisiana Digital Media Archivest.

One video at a time, Louisiana Public Broadcasting and the Secretary of State’s Office are preserving the past. Federal marshals escorting Ruby Bridges as she integrated New Orleans public schools; President John F. Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald distributing information on Bourbon Street; footage of the devastation left by Hurricane Camille all along the Gulf Coast… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Unfinished Business’ should never have started

20th Century Fox photo by JESSICA MIGLIO -- From left, Vince Vaughn, Tom Wilkinson and Dave Franco star in 'Unfinished Business,' opening Friday.

In the years since he strutted onto the scene — lean, handsome, mouth running a mile a minute — in Doug Liman’s “Swingers” (1996), Vince Vaughn has become one of the poster boys for the mainstream American comedy: from romantic (“The Break-Up”) to bromantic (“Old School”), pretty good (“Wedding Crashers”) to very bad (“Fred Claus”) to frankly unnecessary… Continue reading →

Review: The jumbled machinery of ‘Chappie’ never clicks

This image released by Columbia Pictures shows Hugh Jackman, left, in a scene from "Chappie." (AP Photo/Columbia Pictures, Stephanie Blomkamp)

Neill Blomkamp’s “Chappie” is a curious Frankenstein. It’s set in a near-future Johannesburg policed by robots, but it’s not about law enforcement or social order. It focuses on the first creation of a sentient artificial intelligence, yet it’s not about the consequences of this radical invention or the nature of consciousness. Instead, though “Chappie” bears all… Continue reading →

Lillete Dubey returns in sequel to ‘Marigold Hotel’

Photo by LAURIE SPARHAM -- Lillete Dubey, left, as Mrs. Kapoor and Richard Gere as Guy Chambers in 'The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.'

In the delightful 2012 comedy “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” a cast of veteran British thespians play a group of pensioners who retire to a hotel in India. The hotel turned out to be a work in progress. The film became an unexpected hit. Original cast members Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Ronald… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Marigold Hotel’ sequel full of confusion, energy

Photo by LAURIE SPARHAM -- From left to right, Celia Imrie as Madge Hardcastle, Ronald Pickup as Norman Cousins, Diana Hardcastle as Carol, Judi Dench as Evelyn Greenslade, Maggie Smith as Muriel Donnely and Bill Nighy as Douglas Ainslie in 'The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.'

The first “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” movie, based on Deborah Moggach’s 2004 novel about British pensioners who retire to a hotel in India, is a lovely, lively mess. Despite tone that’s all over the place and ill-fitting pieces that make it a bumpy ride, a great bunch of mostly British thespians make the film worth a visit, if… Continue reading →

N.O. jeweler prepped for new reality show

Photo provided by Food Network --  Thomas Mann poses on the set of 'All-Star Academy, Season 1.'

Thomas Mann crafts brilliant baubles by day and dazzling dishes by night. The nationally known New Orleans jewelry designer and metalsmith takes his personal culinary expertise to the Food Network’s new reality cooking competition series, “All-Star Academy,” starting Sunday night. For “Academy,” network casting culled 10 skilled home cooks from around the country. They’ll… Continue reading →

Louisiana cook practices basics for Food’s ‘Academy’ TV show

Photo provided by Food Network -- Competitors gather before their first 'All-Star Academy' challenge. Fmo left, are August Dannehl, Joseph Harris, Vanesssa Craig, Bill Joerger, Sharon Damante, Thomas Mann, Angela George, Mike Castaneda, Mimi Turbitt Chang and Sherri Williams.

Thomas Mann crafts brilliant baubles by day and dazzling dishes by night. The nationally known New Orleans jewelry designer and metalsmith takes his personal culinary expertise to the Food Network’s new reality cooking competition series, “All-Star Academy,” starting Sunday night. For “Academy,” network casting culled 10 skilled home cooks from around the country. They’ll… Continue reading →

LPB encourages filmmakers to enter PBS Film Festival

Wanted: local short films. Louisiana Public Broadcasting is seeking the work of budding filmmakers for the 2015 PBS Online Film Festival. The national online festival encourages independent filmmakers to submit their unique, thought-provoking creations for possible entry to the festival. The only restrictions are that the films must be between… Continue reading →

’Birdman’ takes flight at an Oscars punctuated by politics

Associated Press photo by JOHN SHEARER -- Alexander Dinelaris, from left, Armando Bo, Alejandro G. Inarritu and Nicolas Giacobone accept the award for the best original screenplay for "Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)" at the Oscars on Sunday.

LOS ANGELES — The long take of “Birdman” has stretched all the way to the Academy Awards, where the jazzy, surreal comedy about an actor fleeing his superhero past, took Hollywood’s top honor in a ceremony punctuated by passionate pleas for equality. On a stormy night in Hollywood, the 87th annual Academy Awards — which came… Continue reading →

‘McFarland, USA’ runs an inspirational race

Photo by RON PHILLIPS -- From left, David Diaz (Rafael Martinez), Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner), Thomas Valles (Carlos Pratts), Victor Puentes (Sergio Avelar), Danny Diaz (Ramiro Rodriguez), Jose Cardenas (Johnny Ortiz) and Johnny Sameniego (Hector Duran) are featured in a scene from 'McFarland USA.'

“McFarland, USA” tells a heartwarming story about underdogs who, to the surprise of everyone, including themselves, establish a sports dynasty. The all-Latino cross-country Cougar teammates at McFarland High School, residents of California’s farm-heavy Central Valley, aren’t the story’s only underdogs. Their coach, Jim White, a non-Latino newcomer to the McFarland community, is, in the… Continue reading →

Teen comedy ‘DUFF’ gives genre a social media spin

CBS Films photo by GUY D ALEMA -- Mae Whitman, left, and Bella Thorne star in 'The DUFF,' opening in theaters Friday.

All teen comedies owe some debt to John Hughes and Amy Heckerling. The milieu of suburban teenage life that they explored decades ago has defined the genre since. The social divisions, the boredom, the dances, the irrepressible awkwardness and the irrational dreaminess of high school students never before seemed so accessible, and so neatly packaged with… Continue reading →

4 La. singers still in ‘Idol’ race

Rachael Hallack, a singer-songwriter from Baton Rouge, is competing on 'American Idol.'

The whittling away of “American Idol” Season 14 hopefuls moves to LA’s House of Blues Sunset tonight for the first of two “Showcase Week” episodes. Among the 48 young singers still hoping to make the top 24 of the Fox reality competition series are Baton Rouge singer-songwriter Rachael Hallack; Quentin Alexander and Anjelika Joseph, both… Continue reading →

WBXH, LPB2 feature Mardi Gras coverage

Advocate staff photo by SHERRI MILLER -- Rex, King of Carnival, Christian T. Brown, addressed members of the press after his arrival by train at Spanish Plaza for Lundi Gras in New Orleans.

Think it’s too cold to go to Mardi Gras? Viewers can catch the Carnival action live from New Orleans until 3 p.m. today on WBXH, Channel 39 (cable Channel 16). Also, coverage of the annual meeting of the courts of Rex and Comus will air 9 p.m.-midnight tonight on LPB2 (cable Channel… Continue reading →

’Fifty Shades of Grey’ whips up stunning $81.7 million

In this image released by Universal Pictures and Focus Features, Dakota Johnson, left, and Jamie Dornan appear in a scene from the film, "Fifty Shades of Grey."  (AP Photo/Universal Pictures and Focus Features)

LOS ANGELES — Audiences were more than curious to check out the big-screen adaptation of the racy phenomenon “Fifty Shades of Grey” this weekend. The erotic R-rated drama sizzled in its debut, earning an estimated $81.7 million from 3,646 theaters in its first three days, distributor Universal Pictures said on Sunday. In addition to destroying… Continue reading →

‘Fifty Shades’ of ‘trashy fairy tale’

Photo providedI by Universal Pictures and Focus Features -- Dakota Johnson, left, plays Anastasia Steele, and Jamie Dornan is Christian Grey in 'Fifty Shades of Grey.'

Opening Friday, the film adaptation of E L James’ best-selling erotic love story, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” launches what likely is Hollywood’s next blockbuster film series. Like “The Twilight Saga” and its tale of a forbidden love shared by a human girl and vampire boy, “Fifty Shades of Grey” has its parallels with “Beauty and the… Continue reading →

BR man gets a call on ‘Building Alaska’

Photo provided by Scripps Networks Interactive -- Baton Rouge builder Lafe Langford works on a fishing retreat in a remote area of Alaskan wilderness on an episode of DIY's 'Building Alaska.'

Baton Rouge resident Lafe Langford will demonstrate his construction skills in an episode called “Ninja Framer” on DIY’s “Building Alaska” Sunday night. The show, which recently opened its third season, follows three builders as they construct houses in the Alaska wilderness minus roads and building supply centers — totally off the grid. In the… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Jupiter Ascending’ a soupy cosmic fairy tale

This photo provided by Warner Bros. Pictures shows, Mila Kunis , left, as Jupiter Jones, and Douglas Booth as Titus Abrasax, in Warner Bros. Pictures' and Village Roadshow Pictures' "Jupiter Ascending," an original science fiction epic adventure from Lana and Andy Wachowski. The movie is a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures, Murray Close)

Within the warped wardrobe of the Wachowskis latest sci-fi extravaganza, “Jupiter Ascending,” there are some fantastical feasts of intergalactic ridiculousness. Channing Tatum as a combination elf and speed skater. Space dinosaurs in leather jackets. A robed Eddie Redmayne as the universe’s overload, who so gravely whispers his lines that you fear he is, for the length of the… Continue reading →

Review: Deadly fantasy ‘Seventh Son’ wears out welcome

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Ben Barnes in a scene from "Seventh Son." (AP Photo/Legendary Pictures and Universal Pictures, Kimberly French)

There’s a fine line between charm and cheese in fantasy epics, and movies as silly and overwrought as “Seventh Son” only help to illustrate just how hard it is to hit the right tone when balancing action, romance, (attempted) wit, and the creation of the world. For every “Princess Bride” or “Lord of the Rings,” there are… Continue reading →

‘Jupiter Ascending’ filmmakers unfazed by negativity

Warner Bros. Pictures photo by MURRAY CLOSE -- Channing Tatum portrays Caine Wise in 'Jupiter Ascending,' opening Friday.

It seems as though nothing can come between the Wachowskis. When the filmmaker siblings are asked what incites the biggest spats between the duo best known for writing and directing “The Matrix” trilogy, Andy and Lana Wachowski provide a non-verbal response: The brother and sister sweetly clasp each other’s hands and… Continue reading →

Lafayette native Mark St. Cyr to find out Super Bowl Sunday if his Doritos commercial contest entry is the big winner

Photo provided by MARK ST. CYR -- Lafayette native Mark St. Cyr is featured in the opening scene of the 'What Could Go Wrong?' Doritos commercial, one of 10 finalists in its 'Crash the Super Bowl' competition.

Mark St. Cyr will have to wait just like everyone else. It won’t be until today’s Super Bowl that the Lafayette native and actor learns if his “What Could Go Wrong?” entry in Doritos’ “Crash the Super Bowl” commercial contest is a winner. Online voting among the 10 finalists ended Wednesday, and… Continue reading →

Review: Standoffs between Costner, Spencer are ‘Black or White's' strong suits

Photo by TRACEY BENNETT -- Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer star in 'Black or White.'

Star performances propel the made-in-New Orleans “Black or White.” A script that has an identity crisis, however, weighs the movie down, pulling it into messy dramedy. Kevin Costner stars as the well-meaning, well-to-do guardian of his biracial granddaughter, Eloise. Costner’s daughter, the girl’s teen mother, died in childbirth. Eloise’s absent father has… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Whiplash’ is powerful and punishing

Sony Pictures Classics photo by Daniel McFadden -- Miles Teller, left, plays Andrew, and J.K. Simmons is Fletcher in the new drama 'Whiplash.'

J.K. Simmons won a Golden Globe for his performance in “Whiplash” as the music teacher from hell. The 59-year-old actor has appeared in more than 50 movies and many TV hits, but he’s best known as the matter-of-fact professor in comic Farmer’s Insurance commercials. In “Whiplash,” Simmons moves far beyond being to the point. And there’s nothing… Continue reading →

Review: Depp indulges inner clown in charmless ‘Mortdecai’

Lionsgate photo by DAVID APPLEBY -- Gywneth Paltrow, left, and Ewan McGregor star in 'Mortdecai,' opening Friday.

Any film credited with its own “mustache wrangler” really should have been much more fun than Johnny Depp’s latest misfiring action-comedy. Mostly set in contemporary England, but aiming for the zingy retro feel of a vintage Peter Sellers or Terry-Thomas feature from the Swinging Sixties, “Mortdecai” is an anachronistic mess that never succeeds in re-creating the breezy… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Boy Next Door’ way too predictable

This photo released by Universal Pictures shows, Ryan Guzman as Noah seducing Jennifer Lopez as Claire Peterson in a scene from the film, "The Boy Next Door." (AP Photo/Universal Pictures, Suzanne Hanover)

No good adulterous affair goes unpunished in Hollywood movies. The latest proof is J.Lo starrer “The Boy Next Door,” a gender-reversing B-movie spin on “Fatal Attraction” that sets suburban family values against that one night of misguided, irresistible passion. An economically told popcorn pic built from horror-movie tropes, the film stars Jennifer Lopez and Ryan Guzman as, respectively,… Continue reading →

EBR Main Library to host preview of ‘EARTH: A New Wild’

Photo provided by Ami Vitale -- Dr. M. Sanjayan, a leading conservation scientist, visits with baby pandas in 'EARTH: A New Wild.'

The new five-part PBS series, “EARTH: A New Wild,” will be previewed at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, 7711 Goodwood Blvd. Louisiana Public Broadcasting and the library are hosts for the event. The series, premiering at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 4, on WLPB, Channel 27 (cable Channel 12), takes a… Continue reading →

Report: Tom Cruise in talks to play Baton Rouge's Adler 'Barry' Seal in new movie 'Mena'

Actor Tom Cruise poses with fans at the premiere of his new film "Edge of Tomorrow" in Toronto on Thursday, May 29, 2014.  (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese)  ORG XMIT: DBC102

Tom Cruise may soon be playing drug informant Adler “Barry” Seal, who was gunned down outside a Baton Rouge halfway house in what prosecutors said was a hit ordered by the Medellin drug cartel, entertainment trade publication Variety reports. Screenwriter Gary Spinelli named the prospective film’s script “Mena,” after the Arkansas city where Seal… Continue reading →