Movie and Music Reviews

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Bull, Season One

By Darla - AV   |  August 21, 2017

The television series Bull, created by Phil McGraw and Paul Attanasio, stars Michael Weatherly as trial consultant psychologist and licensed pilot Dr. Jason Bull, who dislikes prosecution attorneys. Dr. Bull heads the Trial Analysis Corporation team. The Trial Analysis Corporation members include a former narcotics police detective, a retired All-American football defensive lineman who has become a fashion stylist, a former New York City prosecutor, a neurolinguistics expert who is also a sex therapist, and a computer hacker. I found the methodologies used by the team to select jury members for criminal defense cases the most fascinating part of this television series. In Bull, serious criminal cases are defended; however, the mood of the show is lightened by comical interpersonal conflicts between the team and the legal community.  Sometimes too much time is spent on interpersonal stories; more court-time drama would make the show better. Overall rating: B

Going in Style

By Barb - AV   |  August 11, 2017

Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin and Michael Caine star in this funny and timely remake of “Going in Style.” Retirement is going well for these three gentlemen until the bank starts sending out foreclosure notices. After doing some investigating, they discover the company they had all worked for has been sold and their pension funds frozen. What develops from there is a plan to get their money back by robbing the local bank. They practice by robbing the local grocery store, and that does not go according to plan. When the store manager decides not to press charges, the plan continues to evolve with the help of a professional con artist. While the plot becomes a bit predictable, the acting is well-done and there are many laugh-out-loud moments in this film. Additional cast members Christopher Lloyd and Ann Margaret add talent in their supporting roles. Even though this movie appeals to retirees, younger generations would enjoy this film as well. Overall Rating: A

Boss Baby

By Allison - AV   |  August 4, 2017

Before watching Boss Baby, I wasn’t exactly certain that it would be my type of film. After watching it, I can certainly say that it wasn’t. Boss Baby (featuring the voices of Alec Baldwin and Steve Buscemi, among others) is your standard children’s movie where the exceptional kids are required to save the bumbling parents. (The storyline was a bit more developed than just that aspect, but not by much.) While I did like the fact that the movie highlighted the importance of having an imagination and featured scenes from other works, such as Mary Poppins, Indiana Jones, and Moby Dick, I was less than impressed with some of the movie’s other qualities. For example, I was surprised (and appalled) at the amount and graphicness of the body-function humor included in the film. I was also disappointed with some of the movie’s messages involving the stereotyping of various groups of individuals, including types of company employees and those individuals that went to community colleges. In general, families with children might enjoy the film, but, personally, I was happy that my daughter is too young to have understood some of the film’s content. Overall Rating: C-

T2 Trainspotting

By Steven - AV   |  July 28, 2017

T2 Trainspotting was probably never going to live up to its predecessor. The first Trainspotting is an undisputed classic gifted with a perfect soundtrack/sense of humor/style blend that would be just about impossible to replicate 21 years later. The fact that director Danny Boyle and screenwriter John Hodge, both returning, seem to know this is not a point in their favor. Their film uses self-awareness as a shield, with overt references to the original’s iconic scenes and speeches to disguise a thin concept where Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Edinburgh, Scotland two decades after running off with the cash his dysfunctional friends made from a drug deal. They haven’t changed much – Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is in jail, Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller) runs both a bar and a blackmail scheme, Spud (Ewen Bremner) is still addicted to heroin. Outside some vague gestures toward what they’ve all done in the intervening years, T2 mostly relies on our memories of these characters as they were. As a commentary on aging and nostalgia, it has little to say, and as a character piece, it’s more concerned with the group’s legally dubious antics (some of which are, admittedly, great fun) than with who they’ve grown to be. It’s more footnote than sequel. The original Trainspotting worked because it was about learning who these people were, about how their actions affected their own lives and the lives of others. In the absence of that, T2 Trainspotting isn’t about much of anything. Overall Rating: C

Simple Forms by T/N/A/F

By Fate - AV   |  July 21, 2017

I saw T/N/A/F on the cover of a music CD and was puzzled. T/N/A/F. No further information was available inside the case, as no booklet was included, and the rear cover only listed the songs on the disc. It’s this kind of a mystery that leads me to do a media review. Turns out the letters mean The Naked And Famous. While it might have been interesting to learn how this group became Naked And Famous, I'm told that this is not the purpose of a media review. I am supposed to review what I thought of the music on the CD. Well, OK. These two words actually apply both to my acceptance of the duty I have to fulfill in doing a media review, and to my thoughts about this particular CD. It's better than just OK. On the first play I was not all that interested in the first song or two, but by the end of the album I liked it and feel it will be enjoyed more with a few more playings. In other words, it will grow on you. Not like a fungus, but the music was good, and the vocals were, as well. I could ramble on and talk about each song and how it may or may not affect global warming or the economy, but such evaluations should rest with the people who listen to the album. It is worth the effort. Overal rating: B+

Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years

By Terri - AV   |  July 14, 2017

After watching Eight Days a Week : The Touring Years, this non-fan of the Beatles has been transformed into a Beatles fan. Seeing original videos of their performances and interviews, learning about their history, and understanding their interest from the point of view of expert commentators developed my appreciation for these entertainers. The movie was a delight to watch. Director and producer Ron Howard has included photos of the young men and video of some of their appearances before they were famous; abundant concert footage of the group performing during the touring years (1964 through early 1967) and before, with many of the songs featured performed in their entirety; and footage of them composing in the recording studio. Seeing them perform and respond to interview questions, it is easy to understand their appeal. Often recent commentary from one or more of the surviving Beatles accompanies the pictures, and their observations and recollections (Paul: “We were actually appealing to girls!” or Ringo: “For some reason, whatever we put out – they loved!”) add to the enjoyment. The movie also revealed interesting facts about the Beatles’ impact on segregation in the American South during the Civil Rights Movement. As a non-fan, I was interested in the movie because I wanted to understand the fascination with the Beatles. This movie answered my question well: their energy and fun are contagious. Other than some limited obscene language, it is suitable for all ages. Overall rating: A+.

After Laughter by Paramore

By Ellie - AV   |  July 7, 2017

With Paramore’s newest album, the pop punk band that embodied all of our middle school angst changes up their sound. After Laughter pulls heavily from the 80s and early 90s, evoking all the neon and windbreakers your heart could desire by pairing the synth and electronica of those bygone eras with lyrics of classic emo Paramore. “Rose-Colored Boy” is a great example of the contrasting tempos and themes, and it also happens to be one of my favorite songs on the whole album; Haley Williams sings about her loss of idealism in the face of recent events while backed by a springy snare drum and keyboard to cancel out the morose tone. Similarly, “Hard Times” strikes the listener as a feisty anthem about the difficulties in life juxtaposed with a tropical track of marimba and maracas. This change is a welcome one which, in my opinion, breathes new life into a tired genre. With two hit songs already released from this record, it seems Paramore has just hit their stride; After Laughter is sure to become a fan favorite in no time. Overall Rating: A-

Get Out

By Melinda - AV   |  July 1, 2017

I have to admit I was skeptical before watching Get Out. I had heard many mixed reviews, but I decided to watch it for myself. Get Out is definitely a mystery/thriller movie that will you keep you on the edge of your seat and wondering what is going to happen for the entire movie (minus a few unbelievable parts here and there)! The movie follows an interracial couple, Chris (DanieL Kaluuya) and Rose (Allison Williams), who go to meet Rose’s white family for the weekend at a secluded estate in the woods. Chris feels uneasy about this visit from the very beginning because he worries that Rose’s family will not welcome or accept him since he is black. Rose assures him that her family is not prejudiced and everything will be perfect. Not too long after they arrive, Chris begins to notice some strange, disturbing situations that make him feel very uncomfortable. As the movie progresses, the welcoming, friendly ambience that he felt at first begins to disappear. Chris becomes on-edge and he begins to question if this is an environment that he wants to stay in or “Get Out” of as quickly as possible! I will leave it at that and I recommend you watch this movie to see how it unfolds – believe me, it is quite unimaginable. If you love thrillers, I think you will enjoy this. Get ready to be very surprised!  Overall Rating: B

Tanna

By Darla - AV   |  June 24, 2017

Tanna is based on a true story from a Yakel village, where chiefs arrange marriages but two lovers choose a different path. Dain, the chief’s grandson, and Wawa want to marry each other, but the Yakel and Imedin chiefs tell Wawa that she must marry a man from the Imedin village. Only the young couple can bring peace to the Imedin and Yakel people in the lush, beautiful, and dangerous surroundings of their Australasian island home.  I enjoyed the supporting actors and the beautiful scenes in the island of Tanna.  I found the story compelling and saw universal themes of man’s treatment towards each other. This foreign language film deservedly won Best Foreign Film by the African-American Film Critics Association. Overall Rating: B+

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

By Barb - AV   |  June 17, 2017

I have watched the animated version of this film many times over the years. I was excited to see the previews for a new version of Beauty and the Beast, and after watching the movie, I was not disappointed. Emma Watson (Belle), Dan Stevens (the Beast), and a cast of many other talented actors brings the sleepy village in France to life. The elaborate scenes, big musical productions, and the Beast’s visually stunning effects made me feel like I was watching a Broadway Play on the big screen. While the original animated version was made for a younger audience, this updated film is for an older audience.  Gaston is more sinister and Le Fou is still comical yet with misgivings about Gaston’s actions to win Belle over. The fight scenes between the Beast and Gaston are fairly intense, especially the one at the end of the movie, and the wolves in the forest are more menacing. Some new scenes were added, such as a new song and Belle’s discovery of how her mother died. This movie was a joy to watch and I recommend it for everyone who loved the original version. Overall Rating: A+

xXx: Return of Xander Cage

By Allison - AV   |  June 9, 2017

To start this review in a completely honest fashion, I must say that I have not seen the first two films in the xXx franchise (xXx from 2002, or xXx: State of the Union from 2005). To continue the theme, I must also say that I’m not sorry I haven’t seen them. xXx: Return of Xander Cage is everything you would expect an action film to be: violent, full of bad guys, and filled to the brim with stunts. Insane stunts. Stunts that would not (and cannot) be believed. And therein lies my issue with the film: nothing in the film was within the realm of believability. For example, Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) traipsed across four separate continents and was, of course, able to speak the local language in every single one. He also skied through a rainforest, skateboarded down a mountain road, performed dirt bike kung-fu, and held a footrace in (and ON) traffic. (My husband commented that he thought my head was going to fall off from all the shaking it was doing). As far as the plot goes, the premise was a promising one: Cage was supposed to acquire a device that can control any satellite orbiting the Earth called Pandora's Box, but even that ended up being sort of lackluster. Entertaining for a while, annoying for longer, xXx: Return of Xander Cage is not something I ever need to experience again. Overall Rating: A+ for action, D- for believability

Hot Thoughts by Spoon

By Steven - AV   |  June 2, 2017

The word that best characterizes Spoon’s music is “solid,” both in their ever-present backing layer of thick, punchy drums + keyboard and their general sense of reliability. Hot Thoughts is their ninth album in just over 20 years, and that workmanlike quality can sometimes overshadow what is otherwise pretty good songwriting. Though it’d be a disservice to the quality of their work to label them another Adequate Indie Rock Band, they can provoke about the same level of investment – often, their music is to be admired rather than engrossed by. Barring a handful of electronic touches and semi-experimental tangents (“Pink Up,” “Us”), Hot Thoughts finds Spoon in their comfort zone: brief, catchy, vague, and artsy without being inaccessible. It’s not a bad place to be when it produces songs like “Shotgun” or “Can I Sit Next to You,” even if it isn’t particularly exciting. It’s not much of a jumping-in point, either – for that, see Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga or Kill the Moonlight. Overall Rating: B-

Spirit by Depeche Mode

By Fate - AV   |  May 26, 2017

I'm a music man.  I generally do not pay much attention to lyrics.  But when I began a listen to "Going Backwards," the first cut on Spirit, some of the lyrics hooked my attention. I viewed the lyrics as the music progressed song to song.  Another interesting cut for me was "Poorman." All in all, the album was good. I enjoyed the music and the singer had a decent voice and he did not scream the lyrics.  If you have headphones and some time, this album should be an enjoyable experience. Overall Rating: B+

A Dog's Purpose

By Amy - AV   |  May 19, 2017

There are many mysteries in life and finding our reason for being is one of them. The new movie, A Dog’s Purpose, explores this quest from a dog’s point of view. The comedy-drama stars Dennis Quaid as Ethan, (with eight-year-old Ethan played by Bryce Gheisar), who saves a puppy from a hot car and names him Bailey. The two go through serious life challenges together and form a deep bond that ends when young adult Ethan (KJ Apa) has to say goodbye to the aged Bailey. But that’s not the end – Baily reincarnates and has a wide range of life experiences with new owners, all the while holding on to his memories of Ethan and wondering what life is all about. Some perilous and touching moments take place as the movie heads toward its emotional conclusion. I thought the movie was definitely worth watching; the canine performers did an excellent job! I have to say this film did make me look at my cats a little differently. Overall Rating: A

A/B by Kaleo

By Ellie - AV   |  May 12, 2017

The Icelandic indie/rock band Kaleo is back with their second album titled A/B. This quartet has been slowly garnering attention in the music scene since their debut in 2013 at South by Southwest, and the tracks on this record blend the very different genres of indie, rock, and country together into a soulful, passionate album. “No Good” is the perfect song for a little confidence pick-me-up – just add black leather boots and some attitude. Slow down with the mournful rock hymn “Way Down We Go,” which laments the singers’ journey through the fiery underworld for all their misdeeds. After the lament, rebound with the clear, sweet voice of lead vocalist JJ Julius Son in “All the Pretty Girls,” where he sings about greed and all things love. Finally, listen to the lyrical lilt of the band’s native Icelandic in their cover of “Vor í Vaglaskógi," a song about the gorgeous, green, springtime forests of Vaglaskógur, one of the largest forested areas in Iceland. This band has a song for just about every listener, and there is something on this CD for everyone to enjoy. Overall Rating: B+

Collateral Beauty

By Melinda - AV   |  May 6, 2017

Collateral Beauty is about a well-liked New York advertising executive named Howard (played by Will Smith) who turns into a clinically-depressed loner after the tragic loss of his six-year-old daughter.  While his friends and co-workers begin to worry about his well-being and try to re-connect with him, he further retreats from his life. As Howard continues to mourn his daughter, he writes letters to Love, Time, and Death seeking answers to what has happened in his life. To Howard’s surprise, these abstract concepts that he writes to for answers somehow find him and respond in-person. Even though Howard is displeased to meet Love, Time, and Death, he begins to understand how these constants interlock in a life fully-lived and how even the deepest loss can reveal moments of meaning and beauty. The storyline was a bit melancholy and not very uplifting, but it did teach good life lessons and made you appreciate the good things life can bring you along with the not-so-good things. I liked the movie and recommend it, but make sure you are ready to shed a few tears here and there. In addition, it has an all-star cast of well-known actors that keeps you intrigued. Overall Rating: B

La La Land

By Darla - AV   |  April 27, 2017

The romantic comedy musical La La Land takes place in late 90s Los Angeles and stars Ryan Gosling as Sebastian, a struggling Los Angeles jazz pianist, and Emma Stone as Mia, an aspiring actress. The two California dreamers find each other, fall in love, and experience many ups and downs while pursuing their respective careers. The period music and dance scenes have a wonderful old-school Hollywood vibe, but this award-winning production also has wide audience appeal due to the charisma of the two lead actors. The story, the classic wardrobe, the beautiful California sets, and the skilled acting were superb. The timeless themes in La La Land will make this film a classic. I recommend this film for all ages. Overall Rating: B

Sing

By Barb - AV   |  April 22, 2017

Buster Moon has one last chance to save his beloved theater. His idea is to hold a singing contest with a $1,000 prize. Buster's assistant, however, mistypes the prize amount and offers $100,000 instead, so everyone wants to participate in the show. It sounds like an ordinary plot that’s been done before, except in Sing the characters are all animals voiced by some of Hollywood’s most talented performers. Matthew McConaughey is Buster; Reese Witherspoon is Rosita, a proud mother of 25 piglets; Seth MacFarlane is Mike, a Rat Pack era mouse; Scarlett Johansson is Ash, a punk rock porcupine; Taron Egerton is Johnny, a teenage gorilla; Tori Kelly is Meena, a shy elephant. The movie has multiple story lines that follow the characters as they all prepare for the competition, with many twists and turns and laughs throughout. The soundtrack has well-chosen songs from a variety of genres. I enjoyed this movie. Overall Rating: A

Hidden Figures

By Allison - AV   |  April 14, 2017

Hidden Figures focuses on the true story of three African-American women– Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson – who struggle to become leaders in their scientific fields while America attempts to beat the Soviet Union into space. Katherine, a mathematical genius, works as a “computer” for the Space Task Group at Langley Research Center, but her male coworkers’ views of her gender and skin color force her to repeatedly fight to receive acknowledgement of her work. Dorothy becomes fearful of keeping her job due to the recent acquisition of an IBM electronic computer, so she teaches herself the programming language FORTRAN so that she might be one of the individuals who can run the new machine. Mary is forced to plead her case in front of a judge in the hopes of attending night classes at an all-white school to help her become NASA’s first black female engineer. At a little over two hours in length, Hidden Figures was a phenomenal film. The costuming and set design helped to paint a vivid picture of the Space Race era, and the all-star cast – including Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monáe, Octavia Spencer, Kevin Costner, Jim Parsons, and Kirsten Dunst –played their parts exceptionally well. In addition, humor was woven throughout the storyline, which helped offset some of the film’s heavier themes. Appropriate for the whole family, Hidden Figures in a film to be enjoyed time and time again. Overall Rating: A+

Lone Wolf and Cub

By Steven - AV   |  April 8, 2017

Lone Wolf and Cub is a series of six samurai films following Ittō Ogami, a wandering assassin-for-hire who pushes his young son, Daigorō, along the road in a baby cart. Ogami relies on his considerable fighting skill and resourcefulness to overcome opponents, and though all the films feature simple plots, they’re notable for their stylized, increasingly cartoonish fights. Characters leap to impossible heights. They signify their deaths with absurd red fountains. Ogami constantly reveals that he’s booby-trapped the baby cart with bladed wheels and machine guns and other weapons. Tomisaburo Wakayama portrays the character with a constant scowl and a piercing glare alongside a credible fighting ability, and in fitting with the character, the actor looks more like a villain's most powerful henchman than a traditional hero. The series does, however, fall pretty constantly into scenes of troubling sexism; you start to expect something horrible any time a woman appears onscreen, and it feels exploitive even when you consider the time period portrayed. And though the movies are filmed with style (all sweaty close-ups and striking colors and harsh shadows), they do peak early – the first looks the best, and the second is the most engaging with near-constant action. While the others (except maybe the fourth) remain quite entertaining, inventive, and admirably consistent, they don’t recapture the quality of the series when it was fresh. All the films are available in subtitled Japanese, though this release also includes Shogun Assassin, an English language version that edits together parts of the first and second films. Overall Rating: B+

The Catastrophist by Tortoise

By Fate - AV   |  March 31, 2017

I've always had a liking for the underdog, the artist who produces something noteworthy but doesn't get much exposure or recognition. I was looking through new music items and came across this CD by Tortoise. Many years ago, there was a relatively unknown group, Rhinoceros, that I liked, so I decided to give another animal a listen. I liked it. It was primarily instrumental, smooth, and easy, but definitely not run-of-the-mill. Take a stroll off the main path and give The Catastrophist by Tortoise a try. Don't let the album cover scare you off. Overall Rating: B+

Doctor Strange

By Amy - AV   |  March 25, 2017

The fourteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Doctor Strange, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as world-renowned neurosurgeon Stephen Strange. Early in the movie, Dr. Strange loses the use of his hands in a car accident and becomes desperate to be restored. He abandons his life and his love, Dr. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), and he sets out on a journey in search of healing. This journey takes him to Nepal and a mysterious compound called Kamar-Taj. There he becomes the student of The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and quickly learns the mystic arts. As a powerful sorcerer, he must decide whether to return to his life or use his powers to protect the Earth from Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), a former student of the Ancient One who has stolen powerful ancient texts. What follows are some riveting action scenes and a wild adventure into the astral realm. As a fan of the original comic book, I was impressed with Cumberbatch’s striking likeness to the character. The film also had stunning visual effects and subtle humor throughout. This wasn’t your typical superhero movie, and I look forward to the future of the franchise! Overall rating: A+

Divide by Ed Sheeran

By Ellie - AV   |  March 17, 2017

In my opinion, Divide is Ed Sheeran’s best release yet. In the latest album from the singer/songwriter, he experiments with different song and sound styles in a way that is fun and musically entertaining. Sheeran incorporates a lot of personal storytelling motifs with songs like “Nancy Mulligan” (written about Sheeran’s grandparents) and “Supermarket Flowers” (an emotional lament for his grandmother’s death narrated from his mother’s point of view). The CD packs a serious emotional punch while also delivering an engaging and enjoyable listening experience. Tracks like “Barcelona” and “Bibia Be Ye Ye” use international cultural motifs and rhythms that result in extremely catchy, danceable songs. Included in this CD are also the radio smash hits “Shape of You” and “Castle on the Hill,” which have become instant favorites. This newest album shows that his sound has really matured since his first, Plus, released in 2011. The deeper, more complicated narration exemplifies how Sheeran has grown as both a person and an artist in the past 6 years. Overall Rating: A+

Kevin Hart: What Now?

By Melinda - AV   |  March 15, 2017

I have to admit that I am a die-hard Kevin Hart fan, and I was not disappointed in his 2016 “What Now?” stand-up comedy concert film. The film features two main parts, a spy story and a stand-up performance. In the beginning of the film for a brief moment, Kevin Hart portrays a James Bond-type Agent 0054 attending a poker game with his lady side kick, Money Berry (played by Halle Berry), which goes terribly wrong. As a result, the clock is ticking for him to get to his live stand-up comedy performance. As the film leads up to him hitting his stage performance, the viewers get to be a part of all the excitement and hear the support of 50,000+ fans cheering Kevin on as they enter the sold-out, record-breaking show at Lincoln Financial Field Football Stadium in Philadelphia. Kevin Hart is the first comedian to sell out an entire football stadium in history! I do not want to spoil all the fun, but Kevin provides a very humorous insight into parenting, family issues, people on the edge, current events, and his hardships in everyday life. If you have had a long hard week and want to sit back and have a bunch of laughs, I recommend this film. You will not be disappointed! Overall Rating: A-

Arrival

By Darla - AV   |  March 3, 2017

Linguistic professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is a mysterious figure who is called by the government to solve a puzzle involving a mysterious aircraft. Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) and scientist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) accompany Banks on her mission. The story's timelines move rapidly between the future and the present, accompanied by Banks’s increasingly eerie, erratic visions. Circumstances surrounding the unnatural aircraft and principal characters are not what they seem. Soon, dangerous events pressure the central characters to crack the mystery of the aircraft before disaster occurs. Overall Rating: A+

I'll Take You There by Wally Lamb (Audiobook)

By Barb - AV   |  February 25, 2017

I was looking for a new author and discovered Wally Lamb. His latest book, I’ll Take You There, piqued my interest as to where he was going to take me. The journey that followed was one of history, family, and the female role in life - the influence of women in the main character’s life becomes the focus of this book. The main character, Felix, has a movie club that meets in an old theater that was once used for vaudeville acts. While getting things ready for his club, he has an encounter with a ghost from the early years of the film industry named Lois Weber. Weber welcomes Felix to the movie of Felix’s life. Shown on the big screen, the movie gives Felix insight to his younger years with his sisters. As the movie plays, the connections to the past and the present reveal how things have changed for women and the challenges women face today. The end of the movie leaves Felix with a better understanding of his life and how the struggles of the females in his family shaped them into the strong women of today. The reader gets a history lesson about the female role in history without the boring parts. I enjoyed the journey this book took me on. I have found a new author and will look forward to reading more of Wally Lamb’s books. Digital Resource users can find this title in Overdrive. The audiobook is narrated by George Guidall. Overall Rating: A

The Light Between Oceans

By Allison - AV   |  February 17, 2017

The Light Between Oceans, which is based on a novel of the same name by M. L. Stedman, follows the story of Tom Sherbourne, who has recently returned from World War I. Because of his traumatic experiences in the War, Sherbourne seeks the desolate work of being a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, located 100 miles off the coast of Australia where the Indian Ocean meets the Great Southern Ocean. Eventually, Sherbourne marries a local girl named Isabel Graysmark, and their world is turned upside down when a baby washes up in a boat on Janus Rock. The tale of the little family is an emotional one – I cried during both the book and film – and the storyline delves into the importance of telling the truth and how a single impulsive decision can vastly impact the lives of not only yourself, but others as well. Although I wasn’t very fond of the story itself, Michael Fassbender (Sherbourne) and Alicia Vikander (Graysmark) played their parts well. In addition, thanks to the scenery and the costuming, the film was visually stunning. Overall, I enjoyed The Light Between Oceans, but I don’t feel as though it is a film that I would need – or want – to view a second time. Overall Rating: A-

Blank Face LP by ScHoolboy Q

By Steven - AV   |  February 10, 2017

At just over 72 minutes in length, the fourth album from ScHoolboy Q features the Top Dawg Entertainment rapper at his most ambitious. Across 17 tracks, production influences range from trap to jazz rap to West Coast gangster rap, all of it forming this thick, aggressive, foreboding atmosphere. But even on the heaviest tracks, Q, with guest spots from Kanye West, Vince Staples, Anderson Paak, and others, never sacrifices a good pop hook. His raspy, often choppy delivery sets him apart from his peers, even as he tackles familiar subjects like newfound fame and gang life, some of it celebratory but much of it steeped in regret and anxiety. Although some songs highlight Q’s clever metaphors and wordplay, Blank Face LP often finds him coasting on attitude rather than lyricism; he squanders his most vivid, personal lines in vague bars that paint him as an enigma, faceless in the way the album’s title implies without the same sense of purpose. And despite a few great songs (“Groovy Tony,” “JoHn Muir”), Q just doesn’t have the content or the insight to fill out an excessive 72 minutes. There are few truly weak tracks, but the album is sprawling and formless and overall a bit of a chore to get through in its entirety without a truly gripping artist at its forefront. Overall Rating: C+

The Prelude Implicit by Kansas

By Fate - AV   |  February 3, 2017

Kansas was one of a number of rock bands I enjoyed some years ago. "The Prelude Implicit" is their first album release in 16 years. Time can certainly change things over a period that long, and there have been personnel changes for Kansas. I've read reviews which were very critical of some of these changes and others that were favorable. My listen of this album is favorable. The 'essence' of Kansas in its heyday is still there. The music is strong but not overpowering as with many bands these days. The lead singer has a good voice and the harmonies are good as well. It may not be the same Kansas, but in grading the album on its listen-ability, I give it an A. Overall Rating: A

Bridget Jones's Baby

By Amy - AV   |  January 27, 2017

The third installment in the Bridget Jones saga is now on DVD. This newest feature finds Bridget (Renée Zellweger) alone again on her 43rd birthday having given up on love and now focusing on her career. Two chance meetings, one with a handsome American played by Patrick Dempsey and the other with the ex-love of her life, Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), result in a baby on the way. The two potential dads then vie for Bridget, placing her in a position very different from the struggles she had in the first two films. The movie has some very funny, typical “Bridget Jones” moments and some very sweet romantic moments as well. Although the premise sounds like it could be tasteless, the story was done well. The language is very strong throughout, however, and some of the references are a bit crude, so the film is rated R. I wasn’t sure I would enjoy this movie, but I really did. I would definitely recommend it. Overall Rating: A

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