Rated R for sexuality, ethnic slurs and pervasive profanity
Hottest Stand-Up Comic Wows Sold-Out Garden In Concert Tour Finale
Move over Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, Steve Harvey and Katt Williams, the hottest black comic around right now is Kevin Hart. The diminutive, 5-foot-2-inch funnyman has skyrocketed to the heights of showbiz ladder lately, making myriad memorable performances on both tv and film.
This year on tv alone, he’s hosted Saturday Night Live and launched a sitcom spoofing reality shows called Real Husbands Of Hollywood. On the big screen, he can currently be caught in the ensemble comedy This Is The End, which comes close on the heels of hits like Think Like A Man and The Five-YearEngagement.
Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain is a concert flick featuring the best of his recent concert tour across North America and Europe, with stops at ports-of-call as far afield asVancouver,Toronto,Oslo,Copenhagen andAmsterdam andBirmingham,England. The film opens at a Mix and Mingle party where a frustrated Kevin finds himself accused of letting success go to his head.
That confrontation eventually dissolves into a series of post concert shots all over the world of fawning foreign fans with thick accents gushing about how much they enjoyed his performance. But the bulk of the material was captured on camera in front of a standing room only crowd at a sold-outMadisonSquareGarden, the final stop on the circuit.
Kevin’s irreverent brand of observational humor involves opening up his private life for public scrutiny. Employing the recurring theme, “Don’t judge me, let me explain,” he reflects upon subjects ranging from being happily divorced (“I cheated. Do I regret it? No!”), to whether he likes dark-skinned girls (Yes), to humping a bean bag while on ecstasy, to dating advice (“The only thing you don’t want in your house is a female who doesn’t trust you.”).
Be forewarned, Kevin curses liberally and gratuitously sprinkles in the N-word occasionally for further dramatic effect. The personal anecdotes he relates are routinely engaging with satisfying payoffs, the only disappointment being that the picture only lasts less than an hour if you subtract all the time devoted to audience reaction shots.
Nevertheless, you know a comedian has indeed arrived when his punch lines are periodically punctuated by pyrotechnics on stage. And you know he’s still humble enough to remember where he came from when tears can be seen streaming down his face as he takes bows at Madison Square Garden.
Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 75 minutes
A Band Called Death
Reverential Rockumentary Amounts To A Very Good Movie About A Very Bad Band
After hearing some heavy metal in the early ‘70s, Dannis, Bobby and David Hackney decided to make a big change in the type of music they were performing. Up until then, the African-American siblings fromDetroithad been playing a blend of R&B and rock as the Rock Fire Funk Express.
Then, the guys came up with a new name, Death, and a new sound perhaps best described as an atonal precursor of punk, although the genre hadn’t yet come into existence as of yet. They signed a record deal with a prominent local promoter (not Motown), but the album was deep-sixed before it ever got pressed into vinyl. No surprise to this listener, judging by the demos.
Searching for a viable alternative career path in music, the trio eventually moved toVermontwhere they did get to release a couple of gospel albums as The 4th Movement. But when that dream of superstardom failed to materialize, David moved back home, while Dannis and Bobby remade themselves as a reggae group, Lambsbread, with Bobbie Duncan replacing their brother on guitar.
Lambsbread failed to capture the fans’ imagination, too. In 2000, chain-smoker David passed away of lung cancer, and that might’ve been the end of the story, given that Hackneys had barely registered a bleep on rock & roll’s radar.
However, Death are now belatedly being put on the map with the help of such rock icons as Henry Rollins, Alice Cooper, Kid Rock, Questlove along with actor Elijah Wood. Are you a big fan of punk? Neither am I. Nor was I during my formative years when the atonal genre came of age.
Listen, the personal anecdotes in A Band Called Death are extremely entertaining, and often touching, especially when Dannis and Bobby express their irrepressible fondness for their dearly departed sibling. I suppose music is in the ear of the behearer, but as for the suggestion that this average garage band were somehow visionaries ahead of their time, I just don’t think so.
Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 98 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening July 5, 2013
Despicable Me 2 (PG for crude humor and mild action) Action-oriented animated adventure finds reformed evildoer Gru (Steve Carell) grudgingly leaving his recently-adopted daughters (Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier and Elsie Fisher) to spy for the Anti-Villain League in order to apprehend a diabolical criminal (Benjamin Bratt) bent on world domination. Voice cast includes Kristen Wiig, Russell Brand and Dr. Ken Jeong.
The Lone Ranger (PG-13 for violence, intense action and suggestive material) Armie Hammer handles the title role in this screen adaptation of the classic Western tv series about a legendary lawman who fights greed and corruption with the assistance of his trusty, Native American sidekick (Johnny Depp). With Helena Bonham Carter, Barry Pepper and Tom Wilkinson.
A Girl And A Gun (Unrated) Constitutional rights documentary exploring Second Amendment issues relating to self-defense, power and violence via frank interviews with red-blooded, pistol-packing mamas.
Hammer Of The Gods (R for nudity, profanity, sexual references and graphic violence) Norse fantasy revolving around a muscle-bound Viking warrior (Charlie Bewley) who embarks on an epic journey in search of the long-lost brother (Clive Standen) banished from the kingdom years earlier by their monarch father (James Cosmo). With Elliot Cowan, Glynis Barber and Ivan Kaye.
JustLike A Woman (R for profanity and sexuality) Tale of female empowerment about a couple of miserably married women (Sienna Miller and Golshifteh Farahani) who travel from Chicago to Santa Fe to enter a belly dancing competition. With Bahar Soomekh, Tim Guinee and Roschdy Zem.
The Look Of Love (Unrated) Rags-to-riches biopic about Paul Raymond (Steve Coogan), the reclusive British businessman who became the United Kingdom’s wealthiest citizen before his death in 2008. Co-starring Anna Friel, Imogen Poots and Shirley Henderson.
Stuck In Love (R for profanity, sexuality and teen drug and alcohol abuse) Midlife crisis drama about a year in the life of a famous novelist (Greg Kinnear) suffering from writer’s block since being dumped by his wife (Jennifer Connelly). Cast includes Kristen Bell, Lily Collins, Stephen King and Patrick Schwarzenegger.
The Way, Way Back (PG-13 for mature themes, profanity, sexuality and brief drug use) Coming-of-age dramedy about a 14-year-old introvert (Liam James) befriended by the gregarious manager (Sam Rockwell) of a water park. Ensemble cast includes Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Maya Rudolph, Amanda Peet, Allison Janney and AnnaSophia Robb.