Presenting Princess Shaw
Against-The-Odds Documentary Chronicles The Inspirational Ascension Of YouTube Singing Sensation
By day, Samantha Montgomery cared for the elderly as an orderly in a New Orleans old folks home. After hours, however, the aspiring singer/songwriter spent most of her free time pursuing her elusive dream of superstardom.
As Princess Shaw, she would perform solo in local clubs on open mic nights, mostly in front of inattentive, unappreciative audiences. She also posted heartfelt renditions of her original tunes on YouTube where she failed to generate much of a following.
But lucky for Princess, among her handful of fans was Ophir “Kutiman” Kutiel, a pioneering composer/musician/video artist living half a world away on a kibbutz in Israel. Without her knowledge, he began producing her tunes in the studio, augmenting her haunting a cappella vocals with an orchestra that included keyboards, bass, cello, viola, drums, guitars, percussion, violins, saxophones and a brass section.
Miraculously, this promising diamond in the rough was suddenly blessed with a very professional sound evocative of Amy Winehouse. And when Kutiman subsequently released his polished version of Princess’ “Give It Up” on YouTube, it soon went viral, generating millions of hits.
Next thing you know, the new internet sensation not only had a following, but found herself being mentioned in everything from the New York Times to People Magazine, all thanks to a generous stranger she’d never even spoken to. Eventually, the two do finally meet when Princess flies to Tel Aviv to do a show booked by Kutiman.
So unfolds Presenting Princess Shaw, a moving documentary directed by Ido Haar. The inspirational picture devotes as much time to details of Princess’ traumatic personal life as to her magical music.
Along the way, we learn that she was left traumatized by the physical and sexual abuse she experienced at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend while growing up in Chicago. Today, she continues to encounter a host of challenges, being, black, gay and struggling financially.
Let’s just hope that Princess Shaw is able to turn the corner with the help of this uplifting biopic and Kutiman’s mashups of her soulful ballads.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 83 minutes
The Angry Birds Movie
Rated PG for action and rude humor
It’s Birds Vs. Pigs In Animated Adaptation Of Popular Video Game App
With over three billion downloads and counting, Angry Birds is the most popular app of all time. Nevertheless, one need not be familiar with the video game to enjoy this delightful animated adventure.
The kid-oriented cartoon was co-directed by Fergal Reilly and Clay Kaytis who make an auspicious debut with this silly comedy featuring enough sophisticated asides to keep adults thoroughly entertained, too. The frenetically-paced production arrives laced with witty one-liners (like “Something isn’t Kosher about these pigs.”) as well as a cornucopia of cute sight gags (such as a billboard for “Calvin Swine” underwear).
The story is set on idyllic Bird Island, a tropical paradise inhabited by a variety of very happy flightless birds. As the film unfolds, we’re introduced to four exceptions to the rule who actually have trouble controlling their tempers. We find protagonist Red (Jason Sudeikis), along with Chuck (Josh Gad), Bomb (Danny McBride) and Terence (Sean Penn), attending an anger management class being taught by Matilda (Maya Rudolph), a former angry bird-turned therapist.
The plot thickens upon the arrival of a big boat containing a couple of ingratiating green pigs (Bill Hader and Tony Hale) claiming to be alone and explorers coming in peace. Truth be told, the pair have a hidden agenda about to be executed by their army of pigs.
After suckering the masses of gentle, gullible birds into letting down their guard, the diabolical invaders proceed to steal every hatched egg on the island before setting sail for home. Once it’s clear they’ve all been duped, the irritable quartet, led by Red, springs into action.
Because they can’t fly, they soon realize their best chance of retrieving the eggs rests in enlisting the assistance of Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage), the only bird on the island who can. Trouble is, he’s lazy and hasn’t flown in ages. Of course, Red and company do eventually coax him out of retirement to join forces and help save the day
A kooky, kitchen sink comedy with lots of laughs for kids of all ages!
Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 95 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening May 27, 2016
Alice Through The Looking Glass (PG for fantasy action, scenes of peril and mild epithets) Adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland finds Alice (Mia Wasikowska) traveling backwards in time in order to save the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) from losing his mind. Ensemble cast includes Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Sacha Baron Cohen, Rhys Ifans and the late Alan Rickman.
X-Men: Apocalypse (PG-13 for violence, action, destructon, suggestive images and brief profanity) Ninth installment in the franchise based on the Marvel Comics series finds Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) and Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) recruiting a team of young X-Men to prevent a seemingly immortal and invincible mutant (Oscar Isaac) from triggering an extinction-level event. With Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult and Rose Byrne.
Holy Hell (Unrated) Mind control documentary revisiting The Buddhafield, an ill-fated, religious sect located in L.A. in the ’80s which was run by a charismatic cult leader called Michel.
The Idol (Unrated) Against-the-odds biopic about Mohammed Assaf (Tawfeek Barhom), the Palestinian kid from Gaza who used a forged visa to enter Egypt where he proceeded to win the 2013 Arab Idol competition. With Ahmed Al Rokh, Hiba Attalah and Kais Attalah. (In Arabic and Spanish with subtitles)
Jia Zhangke, A Guy From Fenyang (Unrated) Reverentail biopic about Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke unfolding from the perspective of his Brazilian colleague, Walter Salles. (In Mandarin with subtitles)
Ma Ma (R for some nudity and brief sexual references) Character-driven drama, set in the Canary Islands, revolving around a young mother (Penelope Cruz) recently diagnosed with cancer who forges a friendship with a soccer scout (Luis Tovar) who just lost his wife and daughter in a car accident. With Asier Etxeandia, Teo Planell and Anna Jimenez. (In Spanish with subtitles).
Unlocking The Cage (Unrated) Animal rights documentary chronicling the efforts of attorney Steven Wise to secure personhood status for primates, elephants and whales.