Motown at heart of Stone Soul Cinema revival
A pair of briefly overlapping series devoted to African-american filmmakers and performers is set to bring what might be called “stone soul cinema” back to Memphis.
The first, hosted by the Stax Museum of American Soul Music and Indie Memphis, is the latest Soul Cinema series, a revival of a museum program of that name that was introduced earlier this year.
The original Soul Cinema program focused on the 1970s film work of Isaac Hayes. The four-film sequel series is devoted to movies associated with Stax’s glossier and more pop-oriented Detroit rival, the Motown Records label. The films will be screened monthly through November, in connection with the “Motown Black & White” exhibit that opens at Stax this weekend and will remain on display through Nov. 8 (story on Page G3).
In each case, doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the movie screens at 7 at the Stax Museum, 926 E. Mclemore. Admission is on a donation, pay-what-you-want basis. Here’s the lineup: Aug. 29 — “Standing in the Shadows of Motown”: Winner of the best documentary award from the National Society of Film Critics, the New York Film Critics Circle and numerous other organizations, director Paul Justman’s 2002 film examines the origins, careers and legacies of the storied studio musicians known as “the Funk Brothers,” who labored in relative anonymity even as they played on the greatest recordings of the Temptations, the Supremes, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles and the other hit Motown artists.
Sept. 19 — “Trouble Man”: Marvin Gaye composed the soundtrack (which was released on Motown’s Tamla Records subsidiary) for this 1972 “blaxploitation” film directed by Ivan Dixon (best-known as one of the American prisoners in the cast of “Hogan’s Heroes”). Robert Hooks stars as “Mr. T,” an elegant but tough “ghetto fixer” who operates out of a South Central Los Angeles pool hall.
Oct. 24 — “The Mack”: Max Julien stars as a king pimp named Goldie in director Michael Campus’ 1973 film, which features music composed by Motown star Willie Hutch.
Nov. 21 — “Soul! Featuring Stevie Wonder and Wonderlove”: Produced by New York television station WNET, this studio concert film showcases the 22-yearold former “Little Stevie Wonder” at the height of his young-adult power, performing songs from his album “Talking Book.”
Meanwhile, in connection with its 42nd annual Stone Soul Picnic, to be held Sept. 3 at the Levitt Shell, radio station WLOKAM 1340 has organized the first WLOK Black Film Festival, set for Sept. 2-4 at the Memphisbrooksmuseumof Art in Overton Park. Admission is free. The lineup includes: Sept. 2, 3 p.m. - “School Daze”: Spike Lee followed his breakthrough “She’s Gotta Have It” with this 1988 campus comedy-drama inspired by the director’s experiences at such historically black colleges as Morehouse and Spelman in Atlanta. Juanita Moore was Oscarnominated for her role in “Imitation of Life” (1959), which screens during WLOK Black Film Festival weekend.
Sept. 2, 7 p.m. - “Wattstax”: Some of the Stax label’s greatest artists — including Rufus Thomas, the Staple Singers and Isaac Hayes — convened on Aug. 20, 1972, at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for this famous concert film, released in 1973.
Sept. 3, 11 a.m. - “Life”: Wrongly convicted Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence are sent to a 1930s Mississippi prison camp in
filmhouse.com. Thelma & Louise (R, 130 min.) A 25th anniversary revival of director Ridley Scott’s empowering actiondrama about a waitress (Susan Sarandon) and a housewife (Geena Davis) who shoot a rapist and hit the road. 7 p.m. Wednesday, Paradiso. Tickets: $13.50. Visit malco.com. Time Warp Drive-in: Martial Arts Mayhem! An all-night program of “chopsocky” cinema, including “Enter the Dragon” (1973), “Kung Fu Hustle” (2004), “Iron Monkey” (1993) and “Black Belt Jones” (1974). Movies start at dusk. 7:40 p.m. Saturday, Summer Quartet Drive-in. Admission: $10. Visit facebook. com/timewarpdrivein. this hard-times comedy.
Sept. 4, 3 p.m. - “Imitation of Life”: Juanita Moore earned an Oscar nomination for her performance as a mother whose lightskinned daughter (Susan Kohner) chooses to “pass” as white in this 1959 masterpiece of profound melodrama from director Douglas Sirk. Lana Turner and Sandra Dee co-star.
Solution.” Cordova Cinema. Bad Moms (R, 101 min.) They’re engaged in “comedic self-indulgence,” and they include Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn and Kristen Bell. Cineplanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Desoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Olive Branch Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-in. The BFG (PG, 117 min.) HHH Working from a 1982 children’s novel by the late Roald Dahl, director Steven Spielberg seems to identify more with the wizened fantastical outsider (a sad-faced Big Friendly Giant, portrayed through motion-capture animation by Mark Rylance) than with the small child (an orphan, played by Ruby Barnhill) who becomes the initial-id’ed title character’s friend and savior. Bartlett 10. Blood Father (R, 88 min.) Ex-con Mel Gibson battles the drug dealers trying to kill his teenage daughter. Hollywood 20 Cinema. Café Society (PG-13, 96 min.) HHH Vittorio Storaro (“Apocalypse Now”) seems
able to transmute light into molten gold, and his burnished cinematography is among the multiple attractions of writerdirector Woody Allen’s 47th (!) theatrical feature, a rueful tale about material success and romantic compromise that stars Jesse Eisenberg as a 1930s Bronx Jew who travels to Hollywood to run errands for his producer uncle (Steve Carell) and pitch tentative woo at the uncle’s smart, wary secretary (Kristen Stewart) before returning to New York to run a nightclub with his gangster brother (Corey Stoll). Ridgeway Cinema Grill. Captain America: Civil War (PG-13, 147 min.) HHH Like guest star Ant-man (Paul Rudd) in his new Giant-man identity, this somewhat ungainly Marvel sequel almost collapses under its own weight; it’s as much a credit to the good will generated by the actors in previous films as to the juggling skills of brother directors Joe and Anthony Russo that the enterprise — crowded with at least a dozen heroes — holds our interest, even though its potentially provocative premise is no longer novel (as in “Batman v Superman,” the authorities want to control “enhanced people”), while its Captain America (Chris Evans)-versusIron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) freedom-of-choice debate becomes drowned out by the din of (extremely well-staged) special-effects battle. Stealing every chaotic scene is the Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), a cool new hero whose costumewith-claws is the cat’s meow; less convincingly slung into the melee is Spider-man (Tobey Maguire look-alike Tom Holland), restored to teenagedom so he can spin off into his own rebooted series. Bartlett 10. Captain Fantastic (R, 118 min.) After a long voluntary exile from mainstream society, a Pacific Northwest free spirit (Viggo Mortensen) must take his home-schooled brood of six children into the big bad outer world. Cordova Cinema. Central Intelligence (PG-13, 114 min.) Starring Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson. Bartlett 10, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.
HFinding Dory (PG, 103 min.) More finny fun from Pixar. Paradiso. Florence Foster Jenkins (PG-13, 110 min.) Meryl Streep in a biopic about a New York heiress with a terrible voice who is determined to be an opera singer. Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Desoto Cinema 16, Ridgeway Cinema Grill, Stage Cinema. Ghostbusters (PG-13, 116 min.) HHH This female-cast remake of the beloved 1984 hit is an overdue rebuke to the “fanbro” idiocracy but also a winning example of an “event” action-comedy, with Kristen Wiig, an atypically familyfriendly Melissa Mccarthy, a flirty Kate Mckinnon and Memphis-born Leslie Jones as next-generation protonpackers.? Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Desoto Cinema 16, Paradiso. Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party (PG13, 107 min.) conservative conspiracy theorist Dinesh D’souza follows his 2012 “Obama’s America” with its inevitable sequel. Collierville Towne 16, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8. Ice Age: Collision Course ( PG, 94 min.) The fifth entry in an animated series that seems to have lasted as long as the Pleistocene epoch itself. Collierville Towne 16, Desoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8. Independence Day: Resurgence (PG-13, 119 min.) ½ Dopey but watchable, the accidentally prophetic first “Independence Day” offered sneak attack from the sky. Twenty years later, in the era of Trump and Brexit, the movie’s apocalyptic paranoia is commonplace while its one-world-united optimism seems quaint and naive. Returning director Roland Emmerich has delivered a real dud, filled with wheelspinning callbacks to the original cast (Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum), dull newcomers (Liam Hemsworth, Jessie T. Usher and Maika Monroe as the heroic offspring of fighters from the first film), ridiculous situations and a willful disregard for physics — and narrative coherence.. Bartlett 10. Indignation (R, 110 min.) Longtime indie producer James Schamus directed this adaptation of a Philip Roth novel about a working-class Jewish student (Logan Lerman) in Ohio. Ridgeway Cinema Grill. Jason Bourne (PG-13, 121 min.) Reunited with director Paul Greengrass, Matt Damon again acts the role of America’s favorite amnesiac ex-assassin. Cineplanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Desoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Olive Branch Cinema, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Studio on the Square, Summer Quartet Drive-in. The Jungle Book (PG, 105 min.) HHH ½ Dubiously described by most reviewers as a “live-action” adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s late-victorian story, this extremely entertaining and sometimes moving Disney episodic adventure features remarkably realistic animals, tropical foliage and exotic Asian landscapes. Bartlett 10. The Legend of Tarzan (PG-13, 109 min.) HHH The first major live-action Tarzan movie in three decades rehabs the problematic and omits the indefensible aspects of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ story about a white baby raised by apes who proves to be the natural lord of both jungle animals and black-skinned Africans; at the same time, the film embraces the seductive “noble savage” fantasy of a new century-old Western pop myth that offers endless, thorny avenues for sexual, racial, political and historical analysis. Bartlett 10, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8. Mohenjo Daro (Not rated, 155 min.) A Hindi-language epic set in 2016 B.C. Hollywood 20 Cinema, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8. Nerve (PG-13, 96 min.) Emma Roberts and Dave Franco participate in a mobile online game even more dangerous than “Pokemon Go.” Cineplanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Olive Branch Cinema, Stage Cinema. Nine Lives (PG, 87 min.) Selfcentered business exec Kevin Spacey learns to be a better father when he magically is transported into the body of the family cat. Collierville Towne 16, Desoto Cinema 16, Olive Branch Cinema, Paradiso, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8. Pete’s Dragon (PG, 82 min.) An orphaned boy (Oakes Begley) befriends a dragon named Elliott in this liveaction Disney film. Robert Redford and Bryce Dallas Howard co-star. Cineplanet 16 (in 3-D), Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Desoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, Olive Branch Cinema, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-in. Rustom (Not rated, 150 min.) A Hindi drama based on the true story of naval commander K.M. Nanavati, focus of a notorious 1959 murder case. Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8. Sausage Party (R, 83 min.) HHH Existential howl of despair meets stoner belly laugh in the latest project from writing/producing partners Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shaffer, who follow the apocalypse antics of “This Is the End” with another clever if often juvenile high-concept comedy that reduces its characters to meat. That’s literally so in the case of this very un-pixar, very R-rated computer-animated “party,” in which a sausage (voiced by Rogen) who yearns to be united with a comely bun (Kristen Wiig) discovers that the “Great Beyond” waiting outside the grocery store is not the paradise promised by foodstuff theology but a dead end, where he and his friends (a sapphic taco voiced by Salma Hayek, a misshapen hot dog voiced by Michael Cera) will be peeled, chopped, sautéed and devoured. Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Desoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Olive Branch Cinema, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Studio on the Square, Summer Quartet Drive-in. The Shallows (PG-13, 87 min.) HHH Unpretentious and efficient, this taut “B” film makes the best of its limited resources and geography, milking thrills and suspense from the simple premise of a lone American surfer (Blake Lively) trapped on a small rock in an isolated Mexican cove by a great white shark. Star Trek Beyond (PG13, 122 min.) HHH The multicultural esprit de corps that motivated Justin Lin’s “Fast & Furious” movies proves a natural fit for the can-do outer-space optimism of the late Gene Roddenberry’s long-running science-fiction saga; the result is the summer’s most contra-trumpian blockbuster, as swashbuckling Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), Vulcan science officer Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the other stalwarts of the starship Enterprise again demonstrate that teamwork beats egodriven strongman aggression. Cineplanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Desoto Cinema 16, Paradiso, Stage Cinema. Suicide Squad (PG-13, 130 min.) HH As dark and dangerous as the sales rack at Hot Topic (Jared Leto’s tatted-up, bling-brandishing Clown Prince of Crime is more Juggalo than Joker), this brand-extending DC Comics origin saga about a team of ruthless, brutish and deranged supervillains recruited as pre-emptive protection against rogue “meta-humans” stimulates the reptile brain with shameless efficiency (Margot Robbie’s scene-stealing Harley Quinn certainly knows how to rock the baby-doll tee and the shorter-than-a-grizz-girl’s shorts), but otherwise induces cerebral atrophy. The premise is irrational, the plotting is incoherent and the incessant, distracting needle drops are so obvious or dumbfounding, they’re as painful as actual needles. Still, writer-director David Ayer (“Sabotage,” “Fury”), whose foes included a rushed production schedule and interfering studio execs, conjures enough vivid imagery to suggest that the ace assassin Deadshot (Will Smith), the pryokinetic gangbanger, El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), and the immortal Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) would work well in their own vehicles, especially if those films also showcase Viola Davis as conniving government intelligence operative Amanda Waller, whose cold stare and charcoal pantsuits are more intimidating than Croc’s pointy teeth and scaly skin. Cineplanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Desoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, Olive Branch Cinema, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Studio on the Square, Summer Quartet Drive-in. X-men: Apocalypse (PG-13, 144 min.) HHH Set in 1983, the sixth Marvel Comics “X-men” movie (excluding “Wolverine” and “Deadpool” spinoffs) casts Oscar Isaac — buried beneath rune-etched prosthetics and Pharaonic “Starlight Express” costumery — as a resurrected Ur-mutant who recruits Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and three other superpowered “horsemen of the apocalypse” in a plan to destroy and remake the world. Bartlett 10.
“Trouble Man” screens during the “Soul Cinema” series at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music.