ATLAS – Review by Nadine Whitney

Whatever Jennifer Lopez is doing in Atlas is enough to make you doubt she’s ever been in a movie before. Lopez isn’t given a stellar script to work with but that doesn’t excuse her abominable performance. Simu Liu is easy to believe as an AI synthetic because he has precisely one emotional state. Sterling K. Brown is solid as the heroic ranger who probably should have listened to Atlas, but he isn’t in the film enough to make enough of an impact. The fact that the most relatable character is the AI running the ARC is more than likely deliberate but speaks to how badly written and acted Atlas Shepard is.

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AMERICAN FICTION – Review by Susan Granger

Based on Percival Everett’s 2001 novel Erasures, Cord Jefferson’s cagey American Fiction has garnered five Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score. The story introduces Thelonious “Monk” Ellison (Jeffrey Wright), a serious West Coast university professor/fledgling writer who bristles at the media’s exploitation of Black stereotypes for profit.

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AMERICAN FICTION – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

Hearing Black artists’ work described as “raw” and “real” grates on Thelonious “Monk” Ellison. It’s not that Monk (Jeffrey Wright), a professor and author, doesn’t find some writing transportive. He just considers a lot of what catapults onto best-seller lists and movie screens featuring Black characters pandering: stories of drugs, deadbeat dads, pregnant teens, and police shootings. Those circumstances might be some people’s realities, but writer/director Cord Jefferson’s debut feature film argues there are other stories we’re not seeing. A blistering indictment of giving the public what it thinks it wants, it criticizes the publishing industry—and some films—for “elevating” Black voices yet perpetuating stereotypes.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK July 7, 2023: BIOSPHERE

“Life finds a way.” This classic line from Jurassic Park is referenced more than once in director Mel Eslyn’s Biosphere, and there couldn’t be a more apt way to summarize the story of this quirky, unexpected dramedy about two lifelong best friends (Mark Duplass, who co-wrote the film with Eslyn, and Sterling K. Brown) who may be the last people left alive on Earth after an unspecified planet-ending disaster.

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BIOSPHERE – Review by Jennifer Merin

Director Mel Eslyn’s Biosphere is a wonderful addition to the cannon of Mark Duplass-produced quirky and profoundly satirical films. Duplass and Sterling K. Brown deliver brilliant emotionally rich performances that embrace the sheer absurdity of the narrative as though it is absolutely real. They’ll turn you into a believer of the preposterous. And you’ll alternatingly laugh and tear up all the way

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BIOSPHERE – Review by Liz Whittemore

Two distinctly fleshed-out male characters complement one another with their genuine presence for each other. Writer-director Mel Eslyn and co-writer Mark Duplass give a duality to the dialogue that is beyond clever. Biosphere is an undoubtedly slick mashup of gender identity storytelling, politics, and faith in humanity. Breezy, charming, touching, and completely unexpected, Biosphere mixes hope, science, and comedy. There is nothing else like it. It is a weird and wonderful wow of a film, brimming with delicious feminist energy.

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HONK FOR JESUS. SAVE YOUR SOUL – Review by Susan Granger

In this satire of Southern megachurch culture and its prosperity gospel, Regina Hall is the pragmatically loyal wife of an egomaniacal, philandering pastor, played by Sterling K. Brown. Atlanta’s Wander for Greater Paths Baptist megachurch lost all but faithful five of its 25,000 followers after Pastor Lee-Curtis Childs (Brown) was exposed in a sexual misconduct scandal. So now he and his chagrined First Lady wife Trinitie (Hall) have embarked on a miscalculated comeback strategy, relying more on publicity than prayer.

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HONK FOR JESUS, SAVE YOUR SOUL. – Review by T.J. Callahan

Sterling K. Brown and Regina Hall are the Pastor and First Lady of the Wander to Greater Paths congregation. They have it all. A huge home, clothes, cars, cash and tens of thousands of followers. Joel and Victoria Osteen are jealous. But it’s not all fancy hats and hallelujahs. A scandal forces the church to temporarily close and the two spiritual leaders must fight to rebuild their flock.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK Sept 2, 2022: HONK FOR JESUS. SAVE YOUR SOUL.

Sharp satire and lived experience come together with style and flair in Adamma Ebo’s Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul., which explores the messy truth behind the showy facade of a Southern Baptist megachurch. Starring Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown as Trinitie and Lee-Curtis Childs — the first couple of the fictional Greater Paths church in Atlanta, GA — the movie is a memorable feature debut for talented writer-director Adamma Ebo.

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