Review: ‘Greyhound,’ starring Tom Hanks

July 10, 2020

by Carla Hay

Tom Hanks in “Greyhound” (Photo courtesy of Apple TV+)

“Greyhound”

Directed by Aaron Schneider

Culture Representation: Taking place primarily in the northern Atlantic Ocean in 1942, the World War II drama “Greyhound” has a predominantly white cast (with a few African Americans and Latinos in very small speaking roles) portraying military men fighting at sea.

Culture Clash: A U.S. Navy veteran must command a ship called Greyhound that is protecting 37 other ships carrying much-needed supplies through a treacherous area of the Atlantic Ocean called the Black Pit, where Nazi German U-boats are known to attack.

Culture Audience: “Greyhound” will appeal primarily to World War II enthusiasts, while everyone else might be easily bored by the generic way that this story is told.

Tom Hanks in “Greyhound” (Photo courtesy of Apple TV+)

There have been so many movies made about World War II, that any new movie about this subject matter needs to bring something interesting and compelling in order for the story to have a memorable impact. Unfortunately for “Greyhound,” a World War II drama written by and starring Tom Hanks, this movie ends up being a formulaic and predictable vanity project for Hanks.

Sony Pictures was originally going to release “Greyhound” in cinemas. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, Sony shifted the movie’s release exclusively to Apple TV+, perhaps because Sony executives came to the correct conclusion that “Greyhound” (directed by Aaron Schneider) really looks like a TV-movie instead of a full cinematic experience.

In “Greyhound,” Hanks portrays the fictional Captain Ernie Krause of the U.S. Navy in such a generically stoic manner that by the end of the film, people wouldn’t be able to tell you much about his personality at all. That’s not a good sign when Captain Krause is supposed to be at the center of the story.

The way that Captain Krause is written, he’s the American hero who’s able to save everyone else because of his quick thinking and fortitude. All the other characters in the movie are written as backdrops to Captain Krause. These supporting characters are so forgettable and written in such a vague way that people watching “Greyhound” wouldn’t be able to remember the names of five characters who aren’t Captain Krause in this movie. The names of the ships in this movie are more memorable than the names of the people.

“Greyhound,” whose main action take place over five days in February 1942, is about the newly appointed Captain Krause leading his first team of ships during the war. Captain Krause’s three ships that he’s commanding are escorting a convoy of 37 Allied ships carrying soldier supplies across the Atlantic Ocean to Liverpool, England. To get there, the ships have to pass through a dangerous area called the Black Pit, where Nazi German U-boats have been known to lurk. The Black Pit is also in an area of the Atlantic Ocean that’s beyond the range of protection from aircraft that usually escorts these ships.

Krause’s ship is named Greyhound. Some of the other ships that are part of the story include two British destroyer ships named Harry and Eagle; a Canadian corvette named Dicky; a U.S. rescue ship named Cadena; and a Greek merchant ship called Despotiko. This is a very U.S.-oriented story, since the non-American characters are not actually seen on camera. Only their voices are heard, such as when Captain Krause communicates with them by the ship’s radio transmitters.

Before the Greyhound ship embarks on its journey, the movie shows a little of bit of Captain Krause’s “tough but merciful” leadership style. Two subordinates named Flusser (played by Matthew Zuk) and Shannon (played by Jeff Burkes), who’ve obviously been in a fist fight with each other, are brought to Captain Krause to be disciplined.

“I will tolerate no more fisticuffs on my ship,” Captain Krause tells them in a stern manner, like a father lecturing his sons. Captain Krause tells the two men to resolve their differences. Flusser and Shannon say that they regret the incident. And then Captain Krause utters this pretentious line as a warning to the two men: “Repetition will bring hell from down high.”

During the mission, there a lot of shouting and repeating of Captain Krause’s commands. Captain Krause’s subordinates don’t get enough screen time to make a lasting impression during the mission, except for Charlie Cole (played by Stephen Graham) and Lieutenant Nystrom (played by Matt Helm), who don’t really do much but wait for Captain Krause to give them orders.

Charlie is the one whom Krause trusts and confides in the most, but his character is written as a shell of a man who just kind of stands around as an echo chamber for Krause. These supporting characters on the Greyhound ship were not written to have distinctive personalities from each other.

And since Hanks wrote the screenplay (which is adapted from C.S. Forester’s 1955 novel “The Good Shepherd”), it seems as if Hanks didn’t want to write any other characters in a way that they could possibly stand out and steal scenes from him. That’s why “Greyhound” looks like such a vanity project.

And when the inevitable happens—attacks from Nazi German U-boats—the movie’s suspense gets a lot better. But the action scenes overall are very formulaic and hold no surprises. We all know how this movie is going to end anyway.

The visual effects in “Greyhound” won’t be nominated for any awards. Some of the visuals are believable, while some are not. For example, there’s a scene were a ship gets blown up in the water. And although blood is shown in the water after the explosion, there’s no ship debris that’s shown in the bloodied water right after the explosion—as if the exploded ship just vanished into thin air. It’s an example of some of the unrealistic visuals that cheapen this movie.

Elisabeth Shue and Rob Morgan are listed as co-stars of “Greyhound,” but they really have cameos in the film that last less than 10 minutes each. Shue (the only woman with a speaking role in “Greyhound”) plays Captain Krause’s girlfriend Evelyn, nicknamed Evie. She has a brief flashback scene early in the film when Captain Krause and Evie exchange Christmas gifts in December 1941 when they meet up in a San Francisco hotel lobby.

Krause has even bought Evie a ticket to be with him in the Caribbean, where he’ll be training for his next mission. Krause tells Evie, “Come with me, so I can ask you to marry me on a tropical beach.” Evie politely declines, knowing that Krause is going into war combat, and tells him: “Let’s wait until we can be together.”

Morgan also has a thankless background role as a character name Cleveland, one of the African American subordinates on Greyhound who dress in formal waiter uniforms and serve food to Captain Krause. The only purpose these waiter characters have in the story is to fret about how Captain Krause hasn’t been eating the food that they serve him. It’s also mentioned multiple times in the film that Krause is such a brave and diligent captain during this mission that not only has he been too preoccupied to eat, he also hasn’t been sleeping either.

“Greyhound” is not a bad movie. But compared to gritty and classic World War II films such as “Saving Private Ryan” and “Dunkirk,” it’s just a very disappointing and trite film, where the action and character development are far inferior to other World War II movies. “Greyhound” wastes the talent of actors such as Shue and Morgan, and it elevates Hanks’ Captain Krause character to such a lofty and squeaky-clean level that it scrubs all of the personality out of him.

Apple TV+ premiered “Greyhound” on July 10, 2020.

Review: ‘Dads,’ starring Ron Howard, Will Smith, Conan O’Brien, Ken Jeong, Jimmy Fallon, Neil Patrick Harris and Jimmy Kimmel

June 20, 2020

by Carla Hay

Bryce Dallas Howard and her father Ron Howard in “Dads” (Photo courtesy of Apple TV+)

“Dads” 

Directed by Bryce Dallas Howard

Culture Representation: The documentary “Dads” has a racially diverse group of people (white, black, Asian and Latino) representing the middle-class and wealthy and talking about fatherhood.

Culture Clash: Some of the fathers interviewed in the film talk about defying traditional masculine stereotypes, by being more involved in raising their children than previous generations of fathers were expected to be.

Culture Audience: “Dads” will appeal to anyone who likes nonfiction films about parenting issues, even though it shuts out any perspectives of fathers who are poor or have negative attitudes about being fathers.

Robert Selby (pictured at right) and his son RJ in “Dads” (Photo courtesy of Apple TV+)

The documentary “Dads” puts such an unrelenting positive and happy spin on fatherhood that it has a strange dichotomy of being a nonfiction film that isn’t entirely realistic. Bryce Dallas Howard (the eldest child of Oscar-winning filmmaker Ron Howard) makes her feature-film directorial debut with “Dads,” which devotes considerable screen time to members of the Howard family talking about fatherhood. “Dads” is ultimately a very uplifting “feel good” movie, but it doesn’t do anything groundbreaking or reveal any new concepts of fatherhood.

There are no deadbeat dads or bitter fathers who’ve lost child custody in “Dads.” Instead, the documentary focuses only on fathers who love being dads and have good relationships with their children. There are several celebrities interviewed in the film (all of whom have a background in comedy), such as Judd Apatow, Jimmy Fallon, Neil Patrick Harris, Ron Howard, Ken Jeong, Jimmy Kimmel, Hasan Minhaj, Conan O’Brien, Patton Oswalt and Will Smith.

“Dads” has three kinds of footage: soundbites from the celebrities, with Bryce Dallas Howard as the interviewer (she sometimes appears on camera); clips of home movies (the clips from random, unidentified people give the documentary an “America’s Funniest Home Videos” look); and six in-depth profiles of seven middle-class fathers from different parts of the world.

Although the celebrities offer some amusing anecdotes, many of their stories seem rehearsed or their comments are made just to crack a joke. Smith, in particular, seems to have memorized way in advance what he was going to say in this documentary. With the exception of Ron Howard, the celebrities are not shown with their children in this documentary, which is why the celebrity segments in the film are pretty superficial. The best parts of the documentary are with the people who aren’t rich and famous, because that’s the footage that actually shows “regular” fathers (who don’t have nannies) taking care of the kids.

The seven non-famous fathers who are profiled in the movie are:

  • Glen Henry (in San Diego), an African American who became a “daddy vlogger” to document his experiences as a stay-at-home dad.
  • Reed Howard (in Westchester, New York), who is Bryce Dallas Howard’s youngest sibling and was a first-time expectant father at the time the documentary was filmed.
  • Robert Selby (in Triangle, Virginia), an African American whose son survived a life-or-death medical crisis.
  • Thiago Queiroz (in Rio de Janeiro), a Brazilian who started a podcast and blog about fatherhood and who advocates for longer time for paternity leaves.
  • Shuichi Sakuma (in Tokyo), who is a Japanese homemaker.
  • Rob Scheer and Reece Scheer (in Darnestown, Maryland), a white gay couple who adopted four African American kids.

Glen Henry used to work as a sales clerk at men’s clothing store, but he was so unhappy in his job that his wife Yvette suggested that he quit his job and become a stay-at-home father. (At the time “Dads” was filmed, the Henrys had two sons and a daughter.) Glen Henry, who has a blog called Beleaf in Fatherhood, began making videos documenting his fatherhood experiences.

Glen admits that he thought at first that it would be easy to take care of the kids by himself, but he found out that he was very wrong about that. “I felt like an imposter,” he says of his early years as a homemaker. Even though his wife Yvette says she wasn’t thrilled about Glen putting their family’s life on display for everyone to see on the Internet, she says it’s worth it because Glen is a much happier person as a stay-at-home dad.

Echoing what many of the fathers say in the documentary, Glen Henry comments: “The role of father has shifted in a major way. We went from providing, being there for holidays and disciplining to being all the way involved—and you kind of look like a dork if you’re not.”

He continues, “I feel like being a father made me the man that I am. My children taught me to be authentic and honest with myself. Fatherhood has given me a whole new identity.”

Reed Howard, who was expecting his first child with his wife when this documentary was being filmed, talks about the home videos that his father Ron filmed of all of his children being born. (Clips of some of those videos are included in the documentary.) Reeds says half-jokingly that since all of Ron’s kids were forced to watch the videos, it was “traumatic” to see part of his mother’s body that he never wanted to see.

Ron Howard’s father Rance (who died in 2017) is also interviewed in “Dads.” Rance says that when Ron was a co-star on “The Andy Griffith Show,” Rance suggested to Andy Griffith to not have Ron’s character Opie written as a brat. Griffith took the advice, and the father-son relationship on the show was modeled after the relationship that Rance had with Ron in real life. (Rance Howard and Ron Howard are the only grandfathers interviewed in the movie, by the way.)

Most of the dads interviewed in the documentary get emotional and teary-eyed at some point in the film. Ron Howard’s crying moment comes when he says that his greatest fear as a father was that he wouldn’t be as good as his father was to him. Reed (who is Ron’s only son) expresses the same fear about not being able to live up to the great experiences that he had with Ron as his father.

Selby has perhaps the most compelling story, since his son RJ was born with a congenital heart defect. Selby describes years of stressful hospital visits and medical treatments in order to help RJ live as healthy of a life as possible. This dedicated dad had to make many sacrifices, such as taking unpaid time off from work and forgo paying some bills in order to pay for RJ’s medical expenses. “There was no doubt in mind: I would forever be his protector,” Selby says of his outlook on being RJ’s father.

Selby is also the only father interviewed in the film who isn’t financially privileged, since he says that he often didn’t have a car during his son’s ongoing medical crisis. And when he did have a car, it was repossessed  multiple times because he couldn’t make the payments. He ended up working a night shift because it was the only way he could have a job (he doesn’t mention what he does for a living) while also going to school and taking care of RJ during the day.

Chantay Williams (who is RJ’s mother) and Selby were never married and didn’t have a serious relationship when she got pregnant with RJ. Selby breaks down and cries when he remembers that when he found out about the pregnancy, he didn’t want Williams to have the child and he didn’t talk to her for two months. But he changed his mind, asked for her forgiveness, and is now a very involved father.

However, Selby says that he still feels shame over his initial reaction to the pregnancy, and he comments that he’ll probably spend the rest of his life trying to make up for that mistake. Williams says in the documentary that Selby is proof that someone can change, and that he’s truly a devoted father and that his devotion isn’t just a show for the documentary cameras.

Quieroz (a married father of two sons and a daughter) knows what it’s like to not have a father raise him, since his dad wasn’t in his life for most of his childhood. He says that it’s one of the reasons why he vowed to always be there for his kids. Quieroz’s day job is as a mechanical engineer, but he also started a fatherhood podcast with two other Brazilian fathers, and he has a fatherhood blog. It’s through the blog that Quieroz’s estranged father got in touch with him. The outcome of that contact is revealed in the documentary.

Sakuma talks about how, in Japanese culture, men who don’t work outside the home are considered “society dropouts.” When he was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder 20 years ago, Sakuma could no longer work outside the home. He became so depressed that he contemplated divorce and suicide, until his wife begged him: “Please continue living for me.”

After Sakuma regained his health, one of the first things he wanted to do was become a parent, but his wife didn’t want to have kids. He says in the documentary that he began a personal campaign that lasted two years to get his wife to change her mind. She changed her mind when he told her that men can do anything when it comes to raising a child, except for pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. He convinced her that he would make a great stay-at-home dad, which he is to their son.

Rob and Reece Scheer didn’t expect to become parents to four kids in a short period of time (less than a year), but that’s what happened when they fostered four children, whom they eventually ended up adopting. Rob and Reece have three sons and one daughter; two of the sons are biological brothers. Rob (the older husband) says he knew that he wanted to be a father since he was 6 years old. Rob describes how he grew up with an abusive father, but that traumatic experience helped him know that he wanted to be the opposite of abusive when he became a dad.

The four kids adopted by Reece and Rob also come from troubled backgrounds, so Rob believes surviving his own abusive childhood helps him relate to his kids in that way. As for Reece, he was working two jobs when he decided quit those jobs to be the couple’s stay-at-home partner. They had to make the sacrifice of having a lower household income, but now the family lives happily on a farm, which the dads say has been beneficial for the emotional well-being of their kids.

Rob Scheer says that sometimes people say unintentionally ignorant things  about gay couples who are parents. “People ask, ‘Who’s the mom and who’s the dad?’ We’re both dads, but the one thing that we do is that we both partner. That’s what parents should be doing.”

One of the questions that Bryce Dallas Howard asks the celebrities is to define what a father is in one word. Fallon says “hero,” while Minhaj says “compass.” Many of the celebrity fathers in the documentary make obvious comments that are similar to each other, such as: “There’s no instruction manual/rulebook to being a father.”

And although Kimmel and Jeong briefly mention the medical scares they went through with their children (a heart defect for one of Kimmel’s sons, a premature birth for one of Jeong’s children), the documentary doesn’t show them opening up about these issues in a meaningful way. Instead, most of the celebrity soundbites are meant to elicit laughs. Several of the celebrities make references to their busy careers when they talk about how their work keeps them from spending more time with their kids, but they know that they’re working hard to provide very well for their children.

Although the non-famous fathers who are profiled  in “Dads” seem to be a diverse group because they’re from different countries and racial groups, they actually have more in common with each other than not, because they’re all middle-class fathers with children who were under the age of 13 at the time this documentary was filmed. It seems like these fathers were selected because they have young children who are in the “cute” stages of life—no kids who are teenagers or adults—thereby creating more documentary footage that was likely to be “adorable.”

Apatow and Smith are the only fathers who talk about how fatherhood became less fun for them when their children became teenagers. They mention that they had to learn to give their teenage kids space, adjust to their kids’ growing independence, and allow them to make their own decisions on issues, even if those decisions turned out to be mistakes. But since the documentary doesn’t do any up-close profiles of non-famous fathers who have teenagers, the only commentaries about raising teenagers come from rich and famous guys, and it’s questionable how relatable these celebrity dads are to the rest of the public.

For example, Smith has said in other interviews (not in this documentary) that he and his wife Jada don’t believe that their kids should be punished in their household when they do something wrong, their kids never had to do household chores, and he and Jada allowed their kids to drop out of school when the kids didn’t feel like going anymore. Apatow admits in the documentary that he’s also a permissive dad who never really punished his kids if they did something wrong. Is it any wonder that many celebrities are perceived as raising spoiled kids who are out of touch with the real world?

One of the other shortcomings of “Dads” is that, except for Selby, the documentary completely ignores major financial strains that parenthood can cause. It’s as if the documentary wants to forget that financially poor fathers exist in this world too. And even though Minhaj is the only one in “Dads” to mention the immigrant experience, “Dads” could have used more fatherhood stories from an immigrant perspective.

However, if you want a heartwarming look at famous and non-famous dads who say that parenthood is the best thing that ever happened to them, “Dads” fulfills all those expectations. This documentary is more like a series of love letters instead of a thorough and inclusive investigation.

Apple TV+ premiered “Dads” on June 19, 2020.

Review: ‘Beastie Boys Story,’ starring Adam Horovitz and Mike Diamond

April 24, 2020

by Carla Hay

An archival photo of the Beastie Boys in “Beastie Boys Story.” Pictured from left to right: Mike “Mike D” Diamond, Adam “MCA” Yauch and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz. (Photo courtesy of Apple TV+)

“Beastie Boys Story”

Directed by Spike Jonze

Culture Representation: This Beastie Boys documentary is a recording of a storytelling, multimedia stage presentation in the group’s hometown of New York City, with surviving Beastie Boys members Adam Horovitz and Mike Diamond as the narrators telling the story of how the Beastie Boys became the first white rappers to have massive crossover success.

Culture Clash: The highs and lows of the Beastie Boys’ career included experimental music that went against what was popular at the time; bitter legal disputes over unpaid royalties; and fighting stereotypes of their early image as mindless “party boys.”

Culture Audience: Aside from the group’s die-hard fans, “Beastie Boys Story” will appeal mostly to people who are nostalgic about rock-infused hip-hop music from the late 1980s and 1990s, when the Beastie Boys were at their peak.

Adam Horovitz and Mike Diamond in “Beastie Boys Story” (Photo courtesy of Apple TV+)

In October and November 2018, Adam Horovitz and Michael Diamond—the surviving members of the Grammy-winning, multiplatinum hip-hop /rock trio Beastie Boys—did a brief theater tour that was a multimedia, live presentation of their bestselling, critically acclaimed 2018 memoir “Beastie Boys Book.” The tour (which visited New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and London) was then extended to three additional shows in April 2019, in Philadelphia and New York City. Footage from the tour’s last stop at the Kings Theatre in Brooklyn is the basis of this documentary, directed by longtime Beastie Boys collaborator Spike Jonze.

The Beastie Boys no longer exist as a group, since founding member Adam Yauch (also known as MCA) tragically died of cancer in 2012, at the age of 47. Horovitz (also known as Ad-Rock) and Diamond (also known as Mike D) dedicated the book and the tour to Yauch, who is lovingly and respectfully remembered. The documentary is essentially Horovitz and Diamond standing on stage, reading “Beastie Boys Book” excerpts in chronological order from a teleprompter, while archival photos and videos play on a big screen in the background.

Under other circumstances and with the wrong people, it could have been an awfully dull or pretentious stage show. But the entire show, as presented in this nearly two-hour documentary, is humorous, emotionally moving and overall an entertaining ride. The show also pokes fun at the fact that Horovitz and Diamond are reading from a teleprompter.

And there are a few segments when director Jonze can be heard on a loudspeaker, interrupting the show to say that he’s not going to play a videoclip or he messed up and missed a video cue. Some of these “mistakes” could have been staged (it sure seems that way), but even if these “flubs” were pre-planned, it achieved the intended result: to make the audience laugh.

People who don’t care about the Beastie Boys’ music can find something to like in this movie, whether it’s the candid way that Horovitz and Diamond admit that fame went to all of their heads when the Beastie Boys’ first album (1986’s “License to Ill”) was a smash hit, or the vivid descriptions of the group’s evolution from being bratty party boys to mature musicians who now cringe at the sexist lyrics they had in their early songs.

Yauch is described as the leader of the Beastie Boys, a group he co-founded in New York City in 1981. He was the one who took the most creative risks and the one who was the most likely to encourage other people to also push boundaries and explore new skills and interests. Diamond was viewed as the biggest “clown” in the group, and he admits that he spent much of the Beastie Boys’ heyday in a haze of drug abuse. Horovitz was often perceived as the “cool heartthrob” of the Beastie Boys, and he’s definitely more dominant than Diamond during the stage show. However, Horovitz also reveals a vulnerable side—he gets so tearful and emotional when talking about the Beastie Boys’ last concert with Yauch that he asks Diamond to finish what Horovitz was supposed to say on the teleprompter.

People unfamiliar with the history of the Beastie Boys might be surprised to find out that the group’s original lineup included drummer Kate Schellenbach, a friend from their teen years. Schellenbach would later become the drummer for the all-female rock band Luscious Jackson, whose lead singer Jill Cunniff was also a teenage friend of the Beastie Boys members. Horovitz expresses regret about Schellenbach being ousted from the Beastie Boys when the group decided to change its image to being full-on “bad boys,” in order to get a record deal.

“Licensed to Ill” was released on Def Jam Records, which was co-founded by Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons. Rubin was the group’s producer, while Simmons managed the Beastie Boys. At the time, Beastie Boys idolized Run-DMC, the pioneering rap trio that was signed to Def Jam and was also managed by Simmons. Rubin and Simmons saw an opportunity to market to the masses a white, “bad boy” version of Run-DMC. It worked. “Licensed to Ill” became one of the biggest-selling debut albums of all time (it’s sold 10 million copies in the U.S.), spawning the breakthrough crossover hit “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party),” which remains the Beastie Boys’ most famous song.

Within two years, the Beastie Boys went from being the opening act for Madonna (a gig they got only because Madonna’s manager thought Run-DMC’s asking fee was too high) and the opening act for Run-DMC to headlining their own arena concerts. By the time the Beastie Boys were ready to make their second album in 1988, they had severed ties with Def Jam’s Simmons and Rubin over unpaid royalties and started over with a new multi-album deal with Capitol Records.

The Beastie Boys were also burned out from constant touring, and they took time apart from each other, which is when Horovitz moved to Los Angeles and started a fledgling acting career. Part of the documentary includes a self-deprecating look at Horovitz’s feature-film acting debut with his starring role in the 1989 dramatic movie “Lost Angels.” Yauch and Diamond also soon relocated to Los Angeles. Horovitz confesses that during this period of time, “I continued to run away from everything I was feeling” to escape from the grief of personal issues, such as his mother’s death from cancer in 1983.

But because the Beastie Boys had experienced fame and fortune so quickly, they went overboard in spending money on that second album, 1989’s “Paul’s Boutique.” They rented a high-priced house in the Hollywood Hills, indulged in a lot of expensive studio time, and partied too much. The house was owned by showbiz couple Alex and Marilyn Grasshoff, whose closet was raided by the Beastie Boys and inspired the 1970s fashion in the Beastie Boys videos for “Paul’s Boutique.”

The “Paul’s Boutique” album was a flop when it was first released, and the Beastie Boys went from headlining arenas for their first album to performing at nightclubs for their second album. It was a humbling experience that would’ve broken a lot of bands, but it just strengthened the Beastie Boys. They began to value the importance of staying true to their creative vision and not listening to other people telling them who they should be. The sample-heavy and richly layered “Paul’s Boutique” is now an influential hip-hop classic that has gone multiplatinum.

The Beastie Boys further evolved, by relying less on sampled music and creating their own sounds, playing their own instruments, and starting to sing more on their songs. The result was 1992’s “Check Your Head” album (featuring the MTV psychedelic hit “So What’cha Want”), which further solidified the Beastie Boys as a group that could easily blur the boundaries between hip-hop and rock.  Diamond says, “It wasn’t until the end of the ‘Check Your Head’ tour that I actually, confidently considered myself to be a musician.”

The group’s biggest comeback came with 1994’s “Ill Communication” album, which featured the hit “Sabotage” and a popular ’70s-inspired police detective chase video for “Sabotage” that was directed by Jonze. The “Sabotage” video was nominated for five MTV Video Music Awards, including Video of the Year, and the song received a Grammy nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance.

By the mid-1990s, the Beastie Boys had relocated back to New York City, after the tragic overdose death of their close friend Dave Scilken in 1991. The group had also started a record label (Grand Royal), and Yauch had directed several Beastie Boys videos under the alias Nathanial Hörnblowér, a fictional Swiss persona who wore traditional Swiss clothing and campy disguises. The documentary includes footage from the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards, when Yauch (dressed as Nathanial Hörnblowér) crashed the stage and did a protest interruption when R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts” won the award for Breakthrough Video over the Beastie Boys’ “Sabatoge.” Unlike Kayne West’s MTV VMA stage bumrush of Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech in 2009, this Yauch/Hörnblowér interruption was all in good fun and intended to be comedic.

Yauch also became deeply involved in social issues, such as Tibetan freedom rights. His spearheading of the Tibetan Freedom Concert, which was an annual event that began in 1996, is fondly remembered in the documentary. (In 2008, Yauch also co-founded the independent film/music company Oscilloscope Laboratories, which is not mentioned in the documentary.) Horovitz describes Yauch as a “once-in-a-lifetime friend,” while Diamond says that as close as Yauch was to his bandmates, he still remained a “conundrum” and a “contradiction” because he was so unpredictable.

The Beastie Boys’ 1998 album “Hello Nasty” is cited as one of the group’s favorites. The album spawned the hit  “Intergalactic,” which has a Nathanial Hörnblowér-directed video that parodied Japanese Super Sentai shows. (The “Intergalactic” video is shown during the documentary’s end credits.) The “Hello Nasty” album was a another smash hit for the Beastie Boys, and it resulted in them winning their first two Grammy Awards:  Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group (for “Intergalactic”) and Best Alternative Music Album.

“Intergalactic” also won Best Hip-Hop Video at the 1999 MTV VMAs, which honored the Beastie Boys in 1998 with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. Although the Beastie Boys released three more studio albums after “Hello Nasty,” these albums—2004’s “To the 5 Boroughs,” 2007’s “The Mix-Up” and 2011’s “Hot Sauce Committee Part Two”—get hardly any screen time in the documentary, compared to the previous albums. It’s probably because the filmmakers know that the Beastie Boys’ most popular music was from the 1980s and 1990s.

The documentary also shows Horovitz and Diamond giving credit and showing appreciation to several of the collaborators and colleagues that the Beastie Boys had along the way, including Schellenbach, the late John Berry (who was an original guitarist for Beastie Boys), manager Paul Silva, songwriter/musician Money Mark and producers Mario Caldato Jr. (also known as Mario C.), Matt Dike and the Dust Brothers.

People who’ve already read “Beastie Boys Book” won’t discover anything new by seeing this documentary. There’s no behind-the-scenes footage of the book tour, other than a brief montage in the beginning of the movie that shows fans waiting outside the theater and talking about who’s their favorite Beastie Boys member. And there appears to be not much ad-libbing or spontaneity during the show or interaction with the audience.

The only exception to audience interaction is outtake footage in the middle of the end credits that shows Ben Stiller, David Cross and Steve Buscemi standing up in the audience, and interrupting the show with comedic scripted dialogue when Horovitz and Diamond talk about “Paul’s Boutique” flopping. These scenes, which were obviously filmed at different performances, are better off as outtakes, since they don’t fit the flow of the rest of the show.

However, the documentary overall doesn’t rely on a lot of gimmicks. Only a few props are used on stage, such as a giant reel-to-reel tape recorder that’s brought out when a story is told about how Beastie Boys first discovered layered sampling in the recording studio. And there aren’t too many distracting cutaway shots to the audience. (This is not a kid-friendly movie though, since there’s a lot of cursing throughout the entire documentary.)

“Beastie Boys Story” is a well-edited and engaging visual capsule of the group’s history. At the very least, this documentary might make people curious to check out more of their music or to read “Beastie Boys Book” to get a deeper dive into more of the group’s fascinating stories.

Apple TV+ premiered “Beastie Boys Story” on April 24, 2020.

Apple announces Apple TV+ with Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston and more

March 25, 2019

The following is a press release from Apple:

Apple today announced Apple TV+, the new home for the world’s most creative storytellers featuring exclusive original shows, movies and documentaries, coming this fall. Apple TV+, Apple’s original video subscription service, will feature a brand new slate of programming from the world’s most celebrated creative artists, including Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Octavia Spencer, J.J. Abrams, Jason Momoa, M. Night Shyamalan, Jon M. Chu and more. On the Apple TV app, subscribers will enjoy inspiring and authentic stories with emotional depth and compelling characters from all walks of life, ad-free and on demand.

“We’re honored that the absolute best lineup of storytellers in the world – both in front of and behind the camera – are coming to Apple TV+,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “We’re thrilled to give viewers a sneak peek of Apple TV+ and cannot wait for them to tune in starting this fall. Apple TV+ will be home to some of the highest quality original storytelling that TV and movie lovers have seen yet.”

Additionally, Apple debuted the all-new Apple TV app and Apple TV channels coming in May 2019. The all-new Apple TV app brings together the different ways to discover and watch shows, movies, sports, news and more in one app across iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac, smart TVs and streaming devices. Users can subscribe to and watch new Apple TV channels – paying for only services they want, like HBO, SHOWTIME and Starz – all on demand, available on and offline, with incredible picture quality and sound; enjoy sports, news and network TV from cable and satellite providers as well as purchase or rent iTunes movies and TV shows all within the new, personalized Apple TV app.

Beginning in May, customers can subscribe to Apple TV channels à la carte and watch them in the Apple TV app, with no additional apps, accounts or passwords required. Apple TV channels include popular services such as HBO, Starz, SHOWTIME, CBS All Access, Smithsonian Channel, EPIX, Tastemade, Noggin and new services like MTV Hits, with more to be added over time around the world.

The new Apple TV app personalizes what viewers love to watch across their existing apps and services while developing a secure and comprehensive understanding of users’ viewing interests. The app will offer suggestions for shows and movies from over 150 streaming apps, including Amazon Prime and Hulu, as well as pay-TV services such as Canal+, Charter Spectrum, DIRECTV NOW and PlayStation Vue. Optimum and Suddenlink from Altice will be added later this year.*

Additionally, the Apple TV app will become the new home to the hundreds of thousands of movies and TV shows currently available for purchase or rent in the iTunes Store.

Availability

Pricing and availability for the Apple TV+ video subscription service will be announced later this fall.

The all-new Apple TV app is coming to iPhone, iPad and Apple TV customers in over 100 countries with a free software update this May, and to Mac this fall.

Through Family Sharing, users can share Apple TV+ and subscriptions to Apple TV channels.

The Apple TV app will be available on Samsung smart TVs beginning this spring and on Amazon Fire TV, LG, Roku, Sony and VIZIO platforms in the future.

Later this year, customers with eligible VIZIO, Samsung, LG and Sony smart TVs will be able to effortlessly play videos and other content from their iPhone or iPad directly to their smart TVs with AirPlay 2 support.

Apple revolutionized personal technology with the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984. Today, Apple leads the world in innovation with iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV. Apple’s four software platforms – iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS – provide seamless experiences across all Apple devices and empower people with breakthrough services including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay and iCloud. Apple’s more than 100,000 employees are dedicated to making the best products on earth, and to leaving the world better than we found it.

Editor’s note: The shows on Apple TV+ include:

  • Steven Spielberg’s reboot of the “Amazing Stories” anthology
  • Oprah Winfrey projects, including a documentary titled “Toxic Labor” about workplace harassment; a documentary (title to be announced) about mental health; and a book club-oriented program whose title is to be announced.
  • “The Morning Show,” a drama series about morning television, starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell, with Aniston and Witherspoon among the executive producers
  • “See,” a post-apocalyptic drama series starring Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard
  • “Little Voice,” a musical drama series, executive produced by J.J. Abrams, with original songs written by Sara Bareilles
  • “My Glory Was I Had Such Friends,” starring Jennifer Garner and executive produced by J.J. Abrams
  • “Peanuts” content, based on the beloved comic-strip characters
  • “Swagger,” a drama series based on the life of basketball star Kevin Durant, with Durant executive producing the show with Ron Howard and Brian Grazer
  • “Defending Jacob,” a drama series starring and executive produced by Chris Evans, about a father whose teenage son is suspected of killing a classmate
  • “Pachinko,” a drama series based on Min Jin Lee’s book, with Soo Hugh as the showrunner
  • A comedy series (title to be announced) about video-game company, executive produced by “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” co-stars Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day
  • “Are You Sleeping,” a drama series about how a podcast affects a cold murder case, starring Octavia Spencer, Lizzy Caplan and Aaron Paul
  • “Dickinson,” a drama series about Emily Dickinson, starring Hailee Steinfeld
  • “Bastards,” a drama series about war veterans, starring Richard Gere
  • A drama series (title to be announced) about CIA operative Amaryllis Fox, starring and executive produced by Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson
  • “Little America,” a comedy series about immigrants, executive produced by Oscar-nominated “The Big Sick” writers Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon
  • “Helpsters,” a children’s show from Sesame Workshop
  • “Calls,” an American remake of a French drama series that does reenactments of 911 calls
  • “For All Mankind,” a space drama series starring Joel Kinnaman
  • “Central Park,” an animated series from “Bob’s Burgers” creator Loren Bouchard, with a voice cast that includes Kristen Bell, Tituss Burgess, Daveed Diggs, Josh Gad, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr. and Stanley Tucci.
  • “Homes,” a docuseries about unusual homes
  • “Losing Earth,” a possible drama or docuseries about climate change
  • “Shantaram,” a drama series about an escaped prisoner from Australia who’s hiding out in India, from executive producer/screenwriter Eric Warren Singer (“American Hustle”)
  • “Time Bandits,” a fantasy comedy series from executive producer/director Taika Waititi, based on Terry Gilliam’s 1981 film of the same title
  • A still-untitled drama/thriller series from executive producer M. Night Shyamalan, with a cast that includes Lauren Ambrose, Rupert Grint and Toby Kebbell [UPDATE: The series is titled “Servant.”]
  • A still-untitled drama series from Oscar-winning director Damien Chazelle, with the show’s plot and cast to be announced
  • A still-untitled sci-fi series from executive producer Simon Kinberg, who has written several “X-Men” movies
  • A still-untitled mystery drama series from executive producer/director Jon M. Chu (“Crazy Rich Asians”), based on real-life pre-teen reporter Hilde Lysiak (played by Brooklynn Prince), with Jim Sturgess co-starring as her father

SOURCE: Variety

*Network and streaming app availability may vary by country.