Review: ‘A Journal for Jordan,’ starring Michael B. Jordan and Chanté Adams

December 4, 2021

by Carla Hay

Chanté Adams and Michael B. Jordan in “A Journal for Jordan” (Photo by David Lee/Columbia Pictures)

“A Journal for Jordan”

Directed by Denzel Washington

Culture Representation: Taking place from 1998 to 2018, in New York City; Akron, Ohio; Washington, D.C.; and Iraq, the dramatic film “A Journal for Jordan” has a racially diverse cast of characters (African American and white people, with a few Asians and Latinos) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: Based on true events, a single mother to a 12-year-old son tells the story of her relationship with her son’s deceased father, who was a U.S. Army sergeant killed in the line of duty in Iraq.

Culture Audience: “A Journal for Jordan” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of star Michael B. Jordan, director Denzel Washington (who does not appear in the movie) and emotion-driven stories about love and loss.

Chanté Adams and Michael B. Jordan in “A Journal for Jordan” (Photo by David Lee/Columbia Pictures)

“A Journal for Jordan” pulls at audience heartstrings in all the right ways by telling this romantic and bittersweet story that ultimately celebrates life and what we make of it. Directed by Denzel Washington and written by Virgil Williams, the dramatic film “A Journal for Jordan” is based on journalist/book publisher Dana Canedy’s 2008 memoir of the same name. The book not only told Canedy’s story but also the story of her fiancé Charles Monroe King, a U.S. Army sergeant who was killed in the line of duty in Iraq in 2006, less than two months before he had been scheduled to return to the United States. The book included King’s journal entries that he wrote to his and Canedy’s son Jordan, who was a baby when King died.

“A Journal for Jordan,” which is Washington’s fourth feature film as a director, is his most sentimental and heartwearming movie that he’s helmed so far. It’s also the first movie that Oscar-winning actor Washington has directed where he is not in the movie as an actor. Although the movie’s title might give the impression that Jordan (played by Jalon Christian) is the focus of the story, he is not.

The story (which jumps around in the timeline) is centered on Jordan’s parents Dana (played by Chanté Adams) and Charles (played by Michael B. Jordan) and what happened during their eight-year romance. The other parts of the movie show Dana’s life as a single mother raising Jordan. Washington and Jordan are two of the producers of “A Journal for Jordan.”

A movie like this could be overly sappy, but director Washington shows admirable restraint in letting the story unfold tenderly—mostly in flashbacks that have the tone of fond memories through the lens of longing for someone who has passed away. Even the film’s musical score (by Marcelo Zarvos) is understated. There are no bombastic, violin-heavy orchestrations to manipulate people’s emotions, as is often the case with movies about tragic love stories.

“A Journal for Jordan” opens with a fever-dream type of montage that’s a collage of memories of Charles and Dana as lovers, as well as scenes of the Iraq combat zone where Charles tragically lost his life. If people see this movie without knowing what the story is about beforehand, it’s clear in the first five minutes that someone has died. The movie doesn’t take long to tell audiences who it is.

The movie’s first scene of dialogue takes place in New York City in 2007. Dana is a senior editor at The New York Times, where she’s an intelligent, hard-working and ambitious employee who does investigative news work. She’s just landed an interview with an important source for a story she’s been working on of her own initiative.

When she tells her boss (played by Stephen Sherman) that she got this crucial interview, she’s dismayed to find out that he’s assigned a co-worker named Rosenblum (played by Spencer Squire) to work with her on the story, based on Rosenblum saying (but not proving) that he could have valuable information to add. Dana isn’t happy about someone being added to a story that she worked hard on from the beginning. And she says so to her boss, who basically cuts her off and ignores her concerns, as he walks side-by-side with Rosenblum in front of her.

When the boss turns around to talk to Dana, he has a look of slight disgust on his face as he indicates to Dana that she should look at her blouse. Dana looks down at her blouse and is embarrassed to see there’s a stain from leakage of breast milk. It’s a moment that nursing mothers can dread because they know that there are sexist bosses and co-workers who think that pregnancy and childbirth make women less competent employees.

Viewers who’ve worked in newsrooms will also notice how realistic this scene is in showing the subtle but still noticeable ways in which people who aren’t white men are often treated with less respect in work environments that give white men the biggest leadership positions and the highest salaries. The scene also shows that Dana is the type of person who’s not afraid to speak up for herself, even if she doesn’t get the results that she deserves. In other words, Dana is no pushover.

As a frustrated Dana goes back to her office, she gripes to a middle-aged co-worker named Miriam (played by Susan Pourfar), who is Jordan’s godmother, about Rosenblum being dropped in on her assignment, probably because she knows that Rosenblum will get credit for a lot of the work that Dana did. Miriam is sympathetic, but she seems worried about how Dana is living. “Don’t isolate yourself,” Miriam tells Dana.

Miriam thinks Dana’s life should be about more than just going to work and going home. Dana reminds Miriam that she’s a single mother of a baby and doesn’t have time for much of a personal life. At home, Dana seems lonely and somewhat overwhelmed—not about taking care of the baby but by grief over the loss of Jordan’s father.

And sure enough, Charles appears to her in a dream, as a somewhat shadowy figure where he says, “Tell him everything, Ma.” (Ma was his nickname for Dana after she became a mother.) And the next thing you know, Dana is on her computer, typing out her memories of Charles for Jordan to read when he gets old enough to understand.

During her writing, Dana also includes quotes that Charles wrote in his “A Father’s Legacy” journal. Some of the quotes include: “Dear Jordan, I want you to know that it’s okay for boys to cry” because “crying can release a lot of pain and stress. It has nothing to do with your manhood.” This trip down memory lane triggers the flashbacks that are shown in the movie.

The majority of the movie then shows the ups and downs of the relationship between Charles and Dana, beginning when they met in 1998. Charles was a first sergeant in the U.S. Army stationed in Ohio. At this point in his life, Charles has been in the Army for 11 years. He grew close to Dana’s retired parents (played by Robert Wisdom and Tamara Tunie), who live in Akron, Ohio. Charles’ parents aren’t seen in the movie, but soon after he meets Dana, he tells Dana that he loves his parents, but he couldn’t get through certain things in life without the family-like support of Dana’s parents.

Dana’s parents treat Charles almost like a son. How this surrogate family relationship developed is not shown in the movie, which is told from Dana’s perspective. Dana’s strict father used to be a drill sergeant in the U.S. Army. Charles met Dana’s father through some kind of Army connection. After Dana meets Charles, she finds out that he’s so close to her father, that Charles calls him Pop. Charles tells Dana it’s because her parents have helped him with a lot of emotional support. She replies sarcastically, “You didn’t grow up with them.”

Dana tries to avoid visiting her parents as much as possible. It’s not that she doesn’t love them, but seeing her parents brings back painful memories of her childhood and reminds her of the type of life that she doesn’t want to have. It’s revealed in bits in pieces of conversations in the movie that Dana thinks that her parents have an unhappy marriage and that it’s her father’s fault because he has a long history of infidelity. Dana saw firsthand how this infidelity made her mother miserable but afraid to end the marriage. It’s why Dana has major issues with trust and commitment when it comes to romantic relationships.

In the spring of 1998, Dana goes back home to visit her family, which also includes her younger bachelorette sister Gwen and her younger married brother Mike. As an indication of how much distance she wants to keep from her parents, Dana stays in a hotel instead of her parents’ house during this visit. During a sibling conversation in their parents’ backyard (where Gwen calls Dana a “Type A” personality), Dana makes no apologies for her big-city, single life. “Men are luxuries, not necessities,” Dana comments.

Dana meets Charles when she stops by his place at the recommendation of her father, who clearly wants to play matchmaker. Charles is an illustrator artist in his spare time. (He likes to do portraits of people.) Dana admires his work and asks him who his favorite artists are. He says Claude Monet and Georges Seurat.

Dana, who considers herself to be a sophisticated intellectual, is immediately impressed. Charles also says that his life goal is to retire from the Army when he reaches the title of sergeant major, and then he wants to devote his time to painting art. After finding out about his love of art, Dana gives Charles an obvious chance to visit her in New York. She tells Charles that maybe he’d like to see a real Monet painting up close at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

There’s an immediate attraction between Dana and Charles, but she plays it cool overall, at first. Because Charles knows that Dana is staying at a hotel, Charles asks Dana if he can drive her to the Canedy family barbecue happening the next day. She agrees and is a little taken aback when he suggests that he pick her up at 9 a.m., which is hours before the barbecue starts.

Dana says yes, but she oversleeps and isn’t ready when Charles arrives to pick her up at scheduled 9 a.m. time. She’s very apologetic, he’s very understanding, and they head to a local diner to have breakfast. It all sounds like the beginnings of an ideal romance. But there are a few obstacles, as there are always seems to be in real-life love stories that are made into movies.

For starters, Charles tells Dana that he’s in the middle of a divorce. His estranged wife, who lives in Texas, has custody of their daughter Christina. (Christina is never seen in the movie.) Charles tells Dana that his marriage fell apart because he and his soon-to-be-ex-wife were too young when they got married, but he says that he loves being a father. Dana is accepting of this information, but she’s thinking at this point that Charles isn’t likely to become her boyfriend because they would have to do long-distance dating.

Things go well at the barbecue. Charles is polite, respectful and attentive to Dana. And, of course, family members happily notice that Dana seems to like Charles as much as he seems to like her. However, the realities of Charles’ divorce and single parenthood come crashing in on Charles and Dana’s first date when he leaves the barbecue early because he says he has a phone date to talk with Christina.

Another slight bump in the road comes when it takes nearly two months for Charles to call Dana again after their first date together. She’s slightly annoyed that it took him this long, but he explains that he waited until his divorce was made final. Dana likes Charles enough to give him a chance to get to know her better.

Dana and Charles end up dating, of course, and their romance kicks into high gear when he visits her many times in New York. On the first visit, she invites him to stay with her at her apartment. First, she says he can sleep on the couch. Then, she changes her mind and says he can sleep in the same bed with her.

Their courtship is sweet and passionate. Charles is not as sophisticated as Dana initially thought he was, but she doesn’t mind. For example, when he first visits her in New York, they go to an Italian restaurant for a dinner date. It’s there that Dana finds out that Charles doesn’t know what olive oil is because he asks her what it is when it’s put on the table. Dana also has to educate Charles on the differences between shows that are Broadway, off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway.

In addition, Dana thinks Charles could have a better sense of fashion. She notices that he likes to wear jeans and scruffy-looking athletic shoes. No problem. She buys him a designer suit as her first Christmas gift to him. He’s a little uncomfortable with wearing suits, but he knows that if he’s going to be in Dana’s life and the types of social events that she goes to, there’ll come a time when he’ll have to wear a fancy suit. And so, Charles accepts the gift when Dana goes with him in the store to see if the suit fits.

Charles also likes to tell corny jokes. Dana doesn’t mind that either. She thinks it’s actually a little endearing. For example, one of his running jokes is saying, “Guess what?” And then following it up by saying, “Chicken butt.” These are some of the little jokes that couples have that make Charles and Dana’s romance realistic and relatable to people who’ve had similar relationships. Meanwhile, Dana’s career at The New York Times is thriving, and she eventually gets promoted to senior editor.

It’s not all smoth sailing though for Charles and Dana’s relationship. Charles’ Army career means that he has to move around a lot. There are also instances where Dana gets upset because she thinks that Charles seems to care more about his Army colleagues than he cares about her, while he thinks she’s not understanding enough about his military responsibilities. These disagreements about his Army commitments cause the biggest conflicts in their relationship. After 9/11 happens and Charles is deployed to Iraq, the relationship gets put even more to the test.

“A Journal for Jordan” can be a little too slow-paced for some viewers, but the movie remains thoroughly grounded in reality. The fact of the matter is that in real life, a lot of romances go in stops and starts. People who want to see a movie with a lot of melodramatic contrivances found in too many romantic dramas will be disappointed. There’s no love triangle, no meddling best friend, no race to the airport to tell someone they want to make the relationship work. People who are tired of seeing these over-used clichés in romantic movies will be delighted that “A Journal for Jordan” can’t be bothered with these clichés.

What audiences will get is an authentic look at a romance between emotionally mature and responsible adults. Adams gives a charming and engaging performance that exudes all the real qualities that strong, independent women have when they allow themselves to be open and vulnerable to love. Jordan is equally charismatic in his own way in portraying this Army sergeant with a strong moral compass, a deep sense of loyalty and a romantic side that many people look for in a partner.

Charles is not a flashy Romeo but someone who says and does what exactly what he means. And that’s so much more important than “big talkers” who make grandiose promises that they have no intention of keeping. Charles and Dana aren’t perfect, but when they make mistakes or hurt each other emotionally, they try to make things right. And they accept each other for who they are. That’s true love.

“A Journal for Jordan” is a refreshing example of a movie that shows what a lot of middle-class African Americans are really like. It’s become tiresome to see African American romances depicted in movies and TV shows as relationships plagued by crime, poverty or drugs. The reality is that many African Americans are a lot like Charles and Dana, so kudos to everyone involved who helped make this true story into a movie.

“A Journal for Jordan” is also about another type of love story that’s just as important, even though it doesn’t get as much screen time in the movie: the love between a parent and a child. The scenes of Jordan as a 12-year-old have a deep emotional impact because it’s when he starts to become very curious about his father. Jordan’s questions bring up heartbreaking memories for Dana, who has been reluctant to tell Jordan the details of how Charles died.

Even though most of the movie is about the mostly happy romance between Dana and Charles, make no mistake: There are several scenes in the movie that are intended to be tearjerkers. Two of these scenes involve a bunch of red balloons that Charles had with him on a day that he and Dana were spending some time outdoors with Jordan. Another emotionally charged sequence happens during a trip that Dana and 12-year-old Jordan take to Washington, D.C.

The pace might drag a little in some areas of “A Journal for Jordan,” but if you care about these characters and what happens to them, then the movie is watchable from beginning to end. You don’t have to come from a military family to relate to what happens in the movie. Anyone who has treasured memories of a loved one can relate to this true story, which has been eloquently expressed in this inspirational film.

Columbia Pictures will release “A Journal for Jordan” in U.S. cinemas on December 25, 2021.

Review: ‘Wonder Woman 1984,’ starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Pedro Pascal and Kristen Wiig

December 24, 2020

by Carla Hay

Gal Gadot in “Wonder Woman 1984” (Photo by Clay Enos/Warner Bros. Pictures & © DC Comics)

“Wonder Woman 1984”

Directed by Patty Jenkins

Culture Representation: Taking place in 1984, primarily in Washington, D.C, plus other parts of the world, the superhero action flick “Wonder Woman 1984” has a predominantly white cast of characters (with some Latinos, African Americans and Asians) representing different classes of people.

Culture Clash: Diana Prince, also known as superhero Wonder Woman, battles against a power-hungry business mogul who wants to rule the world, while one of her female co-workers falls into the mogul’s seductive trap and becomes his ally.

Culture Audience: “Wonder Woman 1984″ will appeal primarily to people who like family-friendly, comic-book-based movies that blend action with social issues and goofy comedy.

Pedro Pascal in “Wonder Woman 1984” (Photo by Clay Enos/Warner Bros. Pictures & © DC Comics)

“Wonder Woman 1984” could have been subtitled “Be Careful What You Wish For, You Just Might Get It,” because by the end of the movie, this old adage has been pounded into viewers’ consciousness to the point of being almost numbing. “Wonder Woman 1984” is the sequel to the 2017 blockbuster “Wonder Woman,” which was a less bloated, less sociopolitical movie than “Wonder Woman 1984,” but the original “Wonder Woman” movie took itself more seriously as an action film. Both movies (based on DC Comics’ “Wonder Woman” series) were directed by Patty Jenkins, who did not write 2017’s “Wonder Woman,” but she co-wrote the “Wonder Woman 1984” screenplay with Geoff Johns and Dave Callaham.

The results in “Wonder Woman 1984” are mixed. On the one hand, the movie aims to be a crowd-pleaser appealing to various generations of people. In the first half of the movie, Wonder Woman has the type of fun-loving superhero action that’s almost cartoonish. In a chase scene that happens fairly early in the movie, Wonder Woman (played by Gal Gadot), also known as Diana Prince, thwarts a heist in a shopping mall by singlehandedly apprehending the four thieves who robbed a jewelry store in the mall. She gives a wink and a smile to some awestruck kids who witness this spectacle. There are also several campy moments in the movie with the character who ends up being the story’s chief villain.

But on the other hand, in the second half of the movie, there are some heavy-handed issues about the nuclear arms race, greed and political corruption that overwhelm the plot. And the plot goes a little bit off the rails because it involves people worldwide having to agree to undo a lot of things that already did significant damage. Not even Wonder Woman is that much of a superhuman political diplomat, but “Wonder Woman 1984” tries to bite off more than it can chew with this concept.

The movie’s total running time is a little too long, at two-and-a-half hours. The tone is very uneven, because “Wonder Woman 1984” has some problems balancing the comedic moments with the serious moments. And the visual effects are hit and miss. (Some of the human characters look very fake in CGI action scenes.) Despite the flaws in “Wonder Woman 1984,” it’s still a fairly enjoyable superhero movie, because of the convincing interactions between the characters and because it mostly succeeds as an entertaining story that holds people’s interest.

“Wonder Woman 1984” begins where “Wonder Woman” began: in her female-only Amazon homeland, the island nation of Themyscira, which is supposed to be a place that has secretly existed on Earth for eons. The actresses who portray the Amazons of Themyscira have a mishmash of European accents. A young Diana (played by Lilly Aspell), who’s about 9 or 10 years old, is seen in an intense athletic competition with adult Amazon warriors. There’s no explanation for why Diana is the only child in this competition, which involves several obstacle courses of running, riding horses and shooting arrows through giant circles placed on top of tall structures.

As a princess, Diana is expected to win for her team. But when she falls off of a horse and lags behind her competitors, she decides to take a shortcut to make up for lost time. She ends up finishing ahead of her competitors, but her mentor Antiope (played by Robin Wright), who’s also the competition’s judge, disqualifies Diana as the winner, because Diana cheated and therefore she’s “not ready to be a true winner.”

Diana’s queen mother Hippolyta (played by Connie Nielsen) comforts a disappointed Diana by telling her: “One day, you’ll become everything you dream of and more. And everything will be different. This world is not ready for all that you will do.” In case people don’t know about Wonder Woman already, she seems to be immortal, because as an adult, she’s able to live through several centuries and still look like she’s in her late 20s/early 30s.

The movie then fast-forwards to 1984 in Washington, D.C., where Diana is working at the Smithsonian Museum as a cultural anthropologist and archaeologist. She is grieving over the death of her American pilot boyfriend Steve Trevor (played by Chris Pine), who (spoiler alert) died during a heroic feat in the first “Wonder Woman” movie, which took place in 1918 during World War I. And now, Diana is moonlighting as Wonder Woman, who is only known to the public at this point as a mysterious crime fighter who’s recently been sighted in the D.C. area.

The four thieves who were apprehended by Wonder Woman in the shopping mall weren’t doing a run-of-the-mill theft in a jewelry store. The store had a hidden room with stolen treasure items that were being sold on the black market. One of the items stolen was a citrine, a classic stone used in fake gems throughout history.

A pointed citrine stone that was part of the stolen haul makes its way to the Smithsonian Museum, where the FBI has asked Smithsonian experts to help identify the origins of some of the stolen treasure. One of the Smithsonian experts enlisted for this task is Barbara Minerva (played by Kristen Wiig), a meek and socially awkward nerd who works in geology, gemology, lithology and cryptozoology.

Barbara is someone who is routinely ignored and/or disrespected by her work colleagues. Her co-workers barely acknowledge her presence when she greets them. Her supervisor Carol (played by Natasha Rothwell) doesn’t even remember interviewing Barbara, or even meeting Barbara, before she asks Barbara for her help with the FBI investigation.

The only person at the Smithsonian who treats Barbara like someone worthy of their social time is Diana, and the two women end up becoming work friends. Barbara and Diana meet when Diana helps Barbara pick some paperwork that Barbara accidentally dropped out of a briefcase on a lobby floor at work. Barbara is desperate for a friend, so she asks Diana to lunch, but Diana says she’s too busy.

However, Diana and Barbara end up in the same room with the stolen treasures in the FBI investigation. And the two women find out that they both have a shared passion for ancient artifacts. The citrine stone is not considered one of the more valuable items, in terms of monetary value. And during their conversation, it’s mentioned that the legend of the stone is that it can grant one wish to the person who holds the stone. Diana holds the stone and silently wishes for Steve to come back to life.

Diana and Barbara have dinner together that day. And over dinner, they talk about their lives. Barbara is a stereotypical middle-aged spinster who lives alone, has no kids and has no love life. The only cliché about this lifestyle that Barbara doesn’t have is a pet cat. But she actually does become a “cat lady” later on in the story.

When Barbara asks Diana if she’s ever been in love, Diana tells her that she used to be in love with an American pilot, who died. Diana doesn’t give any further details, but she makes it clear that she’s still heartbroken and not ready to move on to someone else. Barbara is very insecure about her looks and her prospects of finding love, but Diana tries to give Barbara a confidence boost throughout their conversation.

Diana compliments Barbara by telling her that she’s one of the most natural and funniest people she’s ever met. Barbara is surprised because she’s not used to hearing flattering remarks about herself. She tells Diana, “People think I’m weird. They avoid me and talk about me behind my back and think I don’t hear them.”

After this friendly dinner, Barbara is walking through a park by herself and gives her dinner leftovers to a homeless man. And soon afterwards, a middle-aged drunk and disheveled man (played by Shane Attwooll) accosts her and tries to get her interested in him. Barbara rebuffs his advances and he gets physically aggressive with her. It’s about to turn into a full-blown assault, but Diana comes to the rescue and pushes the man away with such force that he’s thrown to the ground and becomes temporarily incapacitated. Barbara thanks Diana for helping her, and this incident further strengthens their trust in each other and their budding friendship.

When Barbara goes back to her office, she sees the citrine stone and holds it. She says out loud, “I do know what I wish for: I wish to be like Diana: strong, sexy, cool, special.” The stone glows and there’s a slight wind that passes through the air. These visual effects are kind of cheesy, but they work.

Diana goes home and finds out that Steve is there and he has been reincarnated in the body of an unnamed handsome man (played by Kristoffer Polaha), who seems to have no idea that his body is now inhabited by someone who died in 1918. The rest of the world sees the unnamed man as his actual physical self, but Diana only sees Steve when she looks at the man. And that explains why actor Pine is shown as Steve during this reincarnation. (It’s not a spoiler, since Steve’s return was already shown in the trailer for “Wonder Woman 1984.”)

Meanwhile, there’s a slick and sleazy business mogul named Maxwell “Max” Lord (played by Pedro Pascal) who’s all over TV with commercials for his company Black Gold Cooperative, which is described as “the first oil company by the people, for the people.” It should come as no surprise that this company and this mogul are not at all what they want people to think they are.

Maxwell’s real last name is Lorenzano, and its later revealed that he’s an ambitious Latino immigrant who changed his last name and appearance (he dyed his hair blonde) to appear more Anglo. He’s also a divorced father who has weekend visitations with his son Alistair (played by Lucian Perez), who’s about 7 or 8 years old. Maxwell is shown to be a very neglectful father, and his bad parenting is used as a “pull at your heartstrings” plot device in several scenes in the movie.

Maxwell finds out that the citrine stone is at the Smithsonian Museum. And so, he shows up at the museum one day, under the pretense of wanting to possibly donate millions of dollars to the department that has the stone. Barbara is immediately charmed by Maxwell’s flirtatious manner, while Diana is coolly skeptical.

Maxwell can see that Barbara is a lonely woman who’s desperate for attention, so he continues to flirt with her and makes it clear that he wants to date her. People who aren’t familiar with the “Wonder Woman” comic books can still easily figure out where the storyline is going to go with Barbara, because it’s similar to the more famous Catwoman story arc in DC Comics’ “Batman” series. And the trailer for “Wonder Woman 1984” already revealed the result of Barbara’s metamorphosis when there’s a showdown between her and Wonder Woman.

Not all of the action takes place in Washington, D.C., because there’s a subplot that takes Maxwell, Steve and Diana/Wonder Woman to Egypt, where an oil baron named Emir Said Bin Abydos (played by Amr Waked) has a pivotal role in the story. There are also many scenes that are supposed to take place simultaneously in different areas of the world, during the last third of the movie when the plot becomes a bit of a mess. “Wonder Woman 1984” falters when it becomes a little too much of a political statement about the nuclear arms race in the 1980s. The movie redeems itself when it focuses more on human interactions that are more relatable to everyday people.

The romance between Diana and Steve picks up right where it left off, but in “Wonder Woman 1984,” it’s more playful and amusing than it was in “Wonder Woman.” Steve’s culture shock of living in 1984 is used for great comical effect, as he marvels at 1984 fashion and other things that didn’t exist in 1918, such as escalators, breakdancing and computer-controlled planes. And the rampant materialism and capitalism that defined the 1980s in the United States are shown in not-so-subtle ways throughout the movie, as exemplified in everything from crowded shopping malls to the greedy villain Maxwell Lord.

Fans of Wonder Woman in the DC Comics, the 1970s movie series and as part of the DC Extended Universe will find plenty of things to like about “Wonder Woman 1984.” There are references that stay true to Wonder Woman canon, with a few tweaks here and there. (For example, in the comic books, Barbara Minerva is British, not American.)

And there’s a mention of Asteria, a legendary Amazon from Themyscira who was the first owner of the Golden Eagle armor that Wonder Woman wears in “Wonder Woman 1984.” It’s explained in the movie that Asteria sacrificed herself by wearing the armor while holding off the men who invaded Themyscira. Look for a cameo during the movie’s end credits that will delight a lot of Wonder Woman fans.

Gadot’s portrayal of Wonder Woman/Diana Prince can sometimes be a little wooden, but her best moments in the film are in expressing Diana’s grief over the death of Steve. At times, she looks more like a model playing dress-up as Wonder Woman rather than a bona fide action hero, but the visual effects go a long way in adding excitement to the action scenes. Gadot and Pine’s chemistry together isn’t very sexy or passionate, but it is fairly believable in their portrayal of two people who respect each other and were friends before they became lovers.

And for someone who died in 1918 (when women in the U.S. didn’t even have the right to vote), Steve is extremely enlightened in how quickly he adapts to feminist ideals of gender equality. He doesn’t feel threatened or act offended in situations where Diana/Wonder Woman has more abilities and greater strength than he does. At the same time, he doesn’t shrink from expressing his masculinity and showing his talent and skills.

It should come as no surprise that Steve gets to fly a modern plane. One of the best visual scenes in the film is when Steve and Diana fly in an invisible plane through a stunning display of Fourth of July fireworks. Nitpicky viewers will have to assume that the plane has an invisible shield to protect it from the firework explosions.

Because “Wonder Woman 1984” takes quite a bit of time developing the dramatic storylines for Barbara and Maxwell, there might not be as much action in the movie as some people might expect. Most of the suspense comes in the last third of the movie. To get to that point, viewers have to sit through seeing Maxwell become increasingly unhinged in an over-the-top way that often veers into being unintentionally comical.

Pascal’s portrayal of Maxwell as the chief villain is done in broad, over-the-top strokes. Viewers know from the beginning that he’s corrupt, and there’s almost no humanity in this character for most of the movie as he gets more and more maniacal. Wiig fares much better with her portrayal of the emotionally wounded and ultimately misguided Barbara. Her character can be viewed as a symbol of the negative effects of “silent bullying”: when people are treated as outcasts not by insults in their face but by being shunned and ignored.

It’s clear that the filmmakers of “Wonder Woman 1984,” just like the 2019 film “Joker,” wanted to have something more to say about society’s problems and international politics instead of being just another movie based on comic book characters. However, unlike “Joker,” which had an unrelenting but consistent dark and depressing tone, the tone of “Wonder Woman 1984” jumps over the place—and that inconsistency lowers the quality of the movie. Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with being a lighthearted superhero movie instead of trying to tackle heavy social issues. And sometimes “saving the world” in a superhero movie doesn’t mean you have to get bogged down in international politics over weapons of mass destruction.

“Wonder Woman 1984” was released in cinemas in various countries outside the U.S. on December 16, 2020. The movie’s U.S. release date in cinemas and on HBO Max is December 25, 2020. In the United Kingdom, “Wonder Woman 1984” is set for a VOD release on January 13, 2021.

2019 Tribeca Film Festival movie review: ’17 Blocks’

April 27, 2019

by Carla Hay

17 Blocks
Emmanuel Sanford-Durant in “17 Blocks” (Photo by Davy Busta)

“17 Blocks”

Directed by Davy Rothbart

World premiere at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on April 27, 2019.

It might be easy to write off “17 Blocks” as just another movie that shows black people struggling in a ghetto neighborhood plagued by drugs and crime. The struggle has been depicted in too many movies and TV shows to count, and it can become a tiresome stereotype, especially when law-abiding, middle-class black families are under-represented on screen—and when these role-model black families are portrayed on screen, it’s usually in the context of a comedy. But the documentary “17 Blocks,” which was filmed in the span of nearly 20 years, beginning in 1999, is so deeply personal and emotionally moving that it doesn’t feel like blaxploitation.

“17 Blocks” director Davy Rothbart (who happens to be white) got the idea for the movie after seeing a 9-year-old black boy named Emmanuel Sanford-Durant using a home-video camera to film himself and his family in their rough Washington, D.C., neighborhood that’s only 17 blocks from the U.S. Capitol building. Rothbart met and befriended Emmanuel and his older brother Smurf while playing basketball near the brothers’ apartment. The filmmaker, who never lived in the neighborhood, became close to the Sanford-Durant family and began documenting their lives over the years. The result is this movie.

Much of the early footage in “17 Blocks” was filmed by Emmanuel, a bright and thoughtful child who later had goals to become a firefighter. He’s almost the polar opposite of Smurf (who is six years older than Emmanuel), a drug dealer and addict with multiple arrests related to his criminal lifestyle. Middle child Denice (who is three years older than Emmanuel) doesn’t lead a life of crime, but she becomes a teenage mother and school dropout, which slows down her career prospects. As Denice becomes an adult, she has aspirations to become a security guard.

Meanwhile, the kids’ mother, Cheryl, spends many years raising them as a single parent (her marital status over the years remains a murky mystery in the film), but she struggles with an addiction to cocaine that leaves her children often feeling emotionally abandoned and resentful. The father or fathers of Cheryl’s three kids are not in the movie, and there’s no indication that the kids were raised by their father(s). It’s revealed in the movie that Cheryl came from a solid middle-class home where she was raised by her two parents and once aspired to be an actress. But her cocaine addiction often hampered her ability to be a responsible parent. It’s hinted in the movie that Cheryl’s parents sometimes had to help raise her children when she was in the throes of addiction.

Emmanuel is the family’s “golden child,” the one with the most potential and talent to become a success. He’s the only one of Cheryl’s children to graduate from high school. (Unfortunately, due to her addiction, Cheryl missed Emmanuel’s high-school graduation ceremony, which is one of the many regrets that she expresses in the film.) Emmanuel has a bright future ahead of him after he graduates from high school, and he’s looking forward to begin training as a firefighter. Unlike his siblings, who became parents as teenagers, and have children from broken relationships, Emmanuel hasn’t become a teen father. He’s in a solid and loving relationship with a neighborhood girl named Carmen Payne, who also has career goals, and they eventually plan to marry.

But a tragedy changes the Sanford-Durant family forever, and the second half of the movie documents how they cope with that tragedy. “17 Blocks” will not be an easy film to watch for many people because it might trigger feelings of sadness and/or anger for all the families who’ve experienced similar tragedies—regardless of race or socioeconomic status. “17 Blocks” is a wake-up call that might also inspire people to reach out to those in their communities who are hurting. And it’s also a reminder that it’s never too late to learn from our mistakes, and make our lives better for ourselves and other people.

UPDATE: MTV Documentary Films will release “17 Blocks” in select U.S. virtual cinemas on February 19, 2021.

2018 Kennedy Center Honors: Cher, Reba McEntire, Philip Glass, Wayne Shorter, ‘Hamilton’ creators are the honorees

July 25, 2018

The following is a press release from the Kennedy Center:

The Kennedy Center Honors announced today that its honorees for 2018 will be actress Cher, composer and pianist Philip Glass, country music entertainer Reba McEntire and jazz saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter. Additionally, the co-creators of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical “Hamilton” – writer and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, director Thomas Kail, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler and music director Alex Lacamoire – will receive a unique Kennedy Center Honors as trailblazing creators of a transformative work that defies category. These artists will receive tributes during THE 41st ANNUAL KENNEDY CENTER HONORS, to be broadcast Wednesday, Dec. 26 (8:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. CBS has broadcast the special each year since its debut 41 years ago.

“The Kennedy Center Honors recognizes exceptional artists who have made enduring and indelible marks on our culture,” stated Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein. “Cher is the consummate star, wowing generations of fans with her distinctive voice, blockbuster albums and glittering on-screen presence; Philip Glass is a modern-day Mozart whose works across opera, symphony, chamber music and film define contemporary music and simply transfix us; country songstress Reba McEntire has inspired us over five decades with her powerhouse voice and music that conveys heartfelt, heartwarming honesty; Wayne Shorter is a seminal artist, defying categorization while carrying forward the mantle of jazz; and the creators of ‘Hamilton’ have literally and figuratively changed the face of American culture with daringly original, breathtakingly relevant work.”

“The world looks to America for its creative instincts and artistic courage. This year’s slate of Honorees represents the pinnacle of our nation’s originality and the rich mosaic of diverse perspectives and art forms that have come to define who we are as a people,” said Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter.

“As the national cultural center, the Kennedy Center is guided by its artistic mission to pay tribute to the past, to offer a platform for artists making transformative impact in the present, and to shepherd creative innovators as we look toward the future,” Ms. Rutter continued. “Historically, the Kennedy Center Honors have celebrated lifetime achievement. In recognizing ‘Hamilton’ and its co-creators, the Kennedy Center is making an unprecedented statement about an unprecedented work – a work that transcends cultural boundaries and tells America’s story in a powerful and contemporary way.”

In a star-studded celebration on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage on Dec. 2, the 2018 Honorees will be saluted by today’s leading performers from New York, Hollywood and the arts capitals of the world, accepting the recognition and gratitude of their peers through performances and tributes.

The Honors recipients are recognized for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts – whether in dance, music, theater, opera, motion pictures or television – and are confirmed by the executive committee of the Center’s board of trustees. The primary criterion in the selection process is excellence. The Honors are not designated by art form or category of artistic achievement; over the years, the selection process has produced a balance among the various arts and artistic disciplines.

Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss of White Cherry Entertainment will executive produce the special for the fourth consecutive year. Also, Weiss returns as director. The Kennedy Center Honors founding producer is George Stevens, Jr.

ABOUT THE HONOREES

Cher (Singer, Actress)

A worldwide superstar and household name for more than 50 years, Cher has conquered more challenges than a handful of other talents put together – recording, concerts, film and Broadway acting, television and directing. Along the way, she has been richly rewarded with an Academy Award®, a GRAMMY®, an Emmy®, three Golden Globes, a Cannes Film Festival Award and a People’s Choice Award.

Beginning as a studio backing singer in the 1960s, Cher met fledgling producer Sonny Bono, and they quickly became pop sensations with the worldwide smash “I Got You Babe.” Their attention-grabbing hair and clothes were an early hint of Cher’s subsequent profound influence on the world of fashion. The couple’s popularity peaked with “The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour” television series until they split up in the mid-1970s. In 1982, Cher took a huge gamble to appear on Broadway in “Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean.” It worked, however, and prompted a hugely successful acting career, which included “Mask,” “Silkwood” and “Mermaids” and culminated in an Academy Award® for Best Actress in “Moonstruck.”

Cher stunned the music world with a complete musical reinvention in the mid-1980s, highlighted by her controversial hit video for “If I Could Turn Back Time.” But it would be her venture into the world of dance music with the GRAMMY® Award-winning “Believe” in 1998 that eclipsed it all. “Believe” made Cher the oldest woman (at 52) to have a #1 hit in the Hot 100 rock era. It made her the only female artist to have top 10 hits in every decade from the 1960s to 2000s. The subsequent three-year “Farewell Tour” played to more than three million fans, was captured in an Emmy®Award-winning TV special and is one of the most successful tours in history.

Cher remains very active as a stage performer, actress and recording artist with a starring role in the current movie “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” a new album scheduled for September release, and a stage musical about her life debuting on Broadway in December.

Philip Glass (Composer, Pianist)

Born in Baltimore, Md., Philip Glass is a graduate of the University of Chicago and the Juilliard School. In the early 1960s, Glass spent two years of intensive study in Paris with Nadia Boulanger and, while there, earned money by transcribing Ravi Shankar’s Indian music into Western notation. By 1974, Glass had a number of innovative projects creating a large collection of new music for the Philip Glass Ensemble and for the Mabou Mines Theater Company. This period culminated in Music in Twelve Parts and the landmark opera “Einstein on the Beach,” for which he collaborated with Robert Wilson. Since then, Glass has expanded his repertoire to include music for opera, dance, theater, chamber ensemble, orchestra and film. His scores have received Academy Award nominations (“Kundun,” “The Hours,” “Notes on a Scandal”) and a Golden Globe (“The Truman Show”). In the past few years, several new works were unveiled, including an opera on the death of Walt Disney, “The Perfect American” (co-commissioned by Teatro Real, Madrid and the English National Opera); a new touring production of “Einstein”; the publication of Glass’ memoir, Words Without Music, by Liveright Books; and the premiere of the revised version of Glass’ opera “Appomattox,” in collaboration with librettist Christopher Hampton, at the Washington National Opera in November 2015.

Glass celebrated his 80th birthday on Jan. 31, 2017 with the world premiere of “Symphony No. 11” at Carnegie Hall. His 80th birthday season featured curated programming around the globe, including the U.S. premieres of operas “The Trial” and “The Perfect American,” and world premieres of several new works, including “Piano Concerto No. 3,” “String Quartet No. 8” and his first “Piano Quintet.”

Other recent accolades include the U.S. National Medal of the Arts, presented to Glass by President Barack Obama in 2015. In 2016, Glass was named the 11th recipient of the Glenn Gould Prize, a lifetime achievement award given to prominent musicians. Also, he was honored to hold Carnegie Hall’s Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair throughout the 2017-2018 season.

On Jan. 10, 2019, the Los Angeles Philharmonic will present the world premiere of Glass’ “Symphony No. 12,” based on David Bowie’s album Lodger, and a completion of three symphonies based on Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy. Glass continues to perform solo piano evenings, chamber music evenings with world renowned musicians and regularly appears with the Philip Glass Ensemble.

Reba McEntire (Country Music Entertainer)

Multi-media entertainment mogul Reba McEntire has become a household name through a flourishing career that spans music, television, film, theater and retail. Her album Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope topped both the Billboard Country and Christian/Gospel charts, bolstering McEntire’s successful record of 35 #1 singles and over 56 million albums sold worldwide across four decades. The double-disc collection earned McEntire her third GRAMMY®Award and first GMA Dove Award. The Country Music Hall of Fame, Grand Ole Opry and Hollywood Bowl member has also won 16 ACM Awards, 15 American Music Awards, nine People’s Choice Awards and six CMA Awards. Her leadership and philanthropic endeavors have been recognized with the Andrea Bocelli Foundation Humanitarian Award, Leadership Music Dale Franklin Award, the Music Biz Chairman’s Award, the National Artistic Achievement Award from the U.S. Congress, and joining the Horatio Alger Association.

McEntire returned for the 15th time to host the ACM Awards in April 2018 and led the 2017 ratings-high CMA Country Christmas television special. In 2005 she partnered with Dillard’s to launch her own lifestyle brand, and launched the REBA by Justin™ collection at select retailers nationwide for holiday 2017. The Oklahoma native is an acclaimed actress with 11 movie credits to her name, a lead on Broadway in “Annie Get Your Gun,” and starred in the six-season television sitcom “Reba.” As part of the longest-running country act in the Colosseum’s history, she will join with superstar pals for another round of “REBA, BROOKS & DUNN: Together in Vegas at Caesars.”

Wayne Shorter (Jazz Saxophonist, Composer)

Wayne Shorter has been called a genius, a trailblazer, a visionary and one of the world’s greatest composers. Born in Newark, N.J. in 1933, he grew up poring through comic books and imagining adventures in undiscovered universes. He studied music at New York University, and upon graduating, he was drafted into the U.S. Army.

In 1959 Shorter joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers as a saxophonist, eventually composing for the group and becoming its music director. After four years, Miles Davis invited him to join his second historical quintet, with Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams and Ron Carter. This marked the beginning of Shorter’s exploration of uncharted territories that led him to form, with pianist Joe Zawinul, the world’s first fusion band, Weather Report.

Over the next decade, Short produced a succession of jazz albums for the Columbia label. During this period, he became known for collaborations with greats across genres, including Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan, Carlos Santana and Don Henley. In 1996 he released High Life, which received the GRAMMY® for best contemporary jazz album. Two years later, he reunited with longtime friend Herbie Hancock for an intimate duet recording entitled “1+1,” winning another GRAMMYfor their collaboration. In 2000 he formed his first acoustic group under his name, the Wayne Shorter Quartet, featuring Danilo Shorter, John Patitucci and Brian Blade, which still performs today. At the same time, Shorter began exploring the world of classical music. He paired with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw, and the BBC Chamber Orchestra, unveiling his new symphonic repertoire.

Shorter is the recipient of the NEA Jazz Masters Award (1998), the GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award (2015) and, most recently, the prestigious Polar Music Prize (2017). With a total of 11 GRAMMY Awards under his belt, Shorter refuses to slow down. Currently, in collaboration with Esperanza Spalding, he is composing his first opera, “Iphigenia,” his ultimate expression honoring the nobility of humanity – to awaken one’s inherent power. Wayne Shorter believes that there are no limits: “To me, jazz means: I dare you.”

The Co-Creators of “Hamilton”

Lin-Manuel Miranda (Writer and Actor)

Lin-Manuel Miranda is a Pulitzer Prize, GRAMMY®, Emmy® and Tony® Award-winning composer, lyricist and actor. He is the creator and original star of Broadway’s Tony Award-winning shows “Hamilton” and “In the Heights.” Additionally, his Broadway credits include “Bring It On: The Musical” (co-composer/co-lyricist, Tony nomination for Best Musical) and “West Side Story” (2009, Spanish translations). A 2015 MacArthur Foundation Award recipient, Miranda composed songs for Disney’s “Moana” (2017 Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Best Original Song). He has actively supported the relief efforts in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria in September 2017, creating the benefit single “Almost Like Praying.” TV/film credits include “Saturday Night Live” (2017 Emmy nomination, Guest Actor), “Sesame Street,” “The Electric Company,” “House,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “DuckTales,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “200 Cartas,” “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” and the upcoming 2018 holiday movie “Mary Poppins Returns.” In addition to his work as an artist, Miranda has worked with the Hispanic Federation since Hurricane Maria to support the rebuilding of Puerto Rico, and most recently he announced the launch of the Flamboyan Arts Fund to provide grants for artists, cultural institutions and programs on the island. Miranda received his B.A. from Wesleyan University in 2002. He lives with his family in New York City.

Thomas Kail (Director)

Thomas Kail received the 2016 Tony Award® for his direction of the Broadway production of “Hamilton.” He received a Tony nomination for his direction of “In the Heights.” Additional Broadway credits include the new plays “Lombardi” and “Magic/Bird.” Other credits include the world premiere of “Hamilton,” “Kings,” “Tiny Beautiful Things” and “Dry Powder” at the Public Theater; the world premiere of “In the Heights,” “Broke-ology” and the world premiere of “When I Come to Die” at Lincoln Center Theater; the world premiere of “Daphne’s Dive” at the Signature Theatre; Randy Newman’s “Faust,” as well as “The Wiz” at New York City Center; the world premiere of “The Tutors” at Second Stage Uptown; the world premiere of “Broke-ology” at Williamstown Theater Festival; the world premiere of A.R. Gurney’s “Family Furniture” at The Flea; and the national tour of “In the Heights.” Kail is the co-creator and director of the Hip Hop improv group Freestyle Love Supreme. He won the 2016 Emmy® for his direction of “Grease Live.” Also, Kail is the recipient of a Drama Desk Award, an Obie, a Callaway Award, the Lucille Lortel Award and the Martin E. Segal Award from Lincoln Center. He is a graduate of Wesleyan University.

Andy Blankenbuehler (Choreographer)

Andy Blankenbuehler is a proud three-time Tony Award® winner for his choreography in the Broadway productions of “Hamilton,” “Bandstand” and “In The Heights.” The recent production of “Bandstand” (director/choreographer) also received the Drama Desk and Chita Rivera Award for Best Choreography. Additional Broadway credits include “Bring It On” (Tony nomination), “9 to 5” (Tony nomination), “The People in the Picture,” “The Apple Tree,” “Annie,” and the recent revival of “CATS.” Other theatrical work includes “Desperately Seeking Susan” (West End), the world premiere of the new musical “FLY” (Dallas Theatre Center), “The Wiz” (City Center Encores), “A Little Princess” (Andrew Lippa), and the recent international tour of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” Upcoming projects include the new musical “Only Gold” with British singer/songwriter Kate Nash.

On television, Mr. Blankenbuehler’s work has appeared on “Dirty Dancing,” “America’s Got Talent,” “So You Think You Can Dance,” “The Sopranos,” MTV, “Sesame Street” featuring Janelle Monae, and many commercials. He has staged concert work for both Elton John and Bette Midler, and he conceived, directed and choreographed the hit Caesars Palace production “Nights on Broadway.” His work will be seen on the big screen next year in a yet-to-be-titled film with writer/director Adam McKay, starring Christian Bale and Steve Carell.

As a performer, Mr. Blankenbuehler danced on Broadway in “Fosse,” “Contact,” “Man of La Mancha,” “Saturday Night Fever,” “Steel Pier,” “Big” and “Guys and Dolls.” Originally from Cincinnati, Mr. Blankenbuehler resides in New York City with his wife, Elly, and two children, Luca and Sofia. He is a recipient of a special 2015 Drama Desk Award for his achievement in the theater.

Alex Lacamoire (Music Supervisor/Orchestrator/Co-Arranger)

Alex Lacamoire is a three-time Tony Award® and three-time GRAMMY® winner for his work on the Broadway musicals “Hamilton,” “Dear Evan Hansen” and “In The Heights.” His film credits include “The Greatest Showman” (executive music producer) and “Incredibles 2” (arranger/orchestrator). As music director, arranger and/or orchestrator on Broadway, he has worked on “Annie” (2011 Broadway revival), “Bring It On,” “The People In The Picture,” “9 to 5” (Drama Desk and Grammy nominations), “Legally Blonde,” “High Fidelity” and “Wicked.” Other theatrical credits include “Bat Boy: The Musical,” “Godspell” (2001 National Tour), orchestrations for the Rockettes and the Academy Awards. He is an Emmy-nominated composer for “Sesame Street.”

2018 National Memorial Concert: Gary Sinise, Joe Mantegna, Allison Janney, Cynthia Erivo, Leona Lewis among celebrity guests

May 3, 2018

Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna
Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Capitol Concerts)

The following is a press release from Capital Concerts:

On the 150th anniversary of Memorial Day, PBS’ multi award-winning NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT returns live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol hosted by Tony Award-winner Joe Mantegna and Emmy Award-winner Gary Sinise. The 29th annual broadcast of the NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT airs live on PBS Sunday, May 27, 2018, from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m., before a concert audience of hundreds of thousands, millions more at home, as well as to our troops serving around the world on the American Forces Network.

A 29-year tradition unlike anything else on television, America’s national night of remembrance takes us back to the real meaning of the holiday through personal stories interwoven with musical performances. This year’s program features the following stories:

  • The show will recognize the story of two buddies – Joe Annello and Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura – dear friends now for 68 years, who helped each other survive deadly combat during the Korean War, endured the unimaginable as POWs, and became American heroes – one receiving the Silver Star and the other the Medal of Honor. This national moment of remembrance will recognize our Korean War veterans with performances by Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award-nominated actor John Corbett (MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING) and star of CHICAGO MED Brian Tee.
  • Women have served our nation in times of war and peace since our country’s founding – even before they were officially allowed to enlist. To mark the 70th anniversary of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, the concert will pay tribute to the contributions of women in our military throughout history, including the story of Silver Star recipient Leigh Ann Hester, the 1st woman to receive the Silver Star for combat. The segment will conclude by honoring women representing generations of service since WWII from the 5 branches of the military on stage. Academy Award®, Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning actress Allison Janney (I, TONYA, MOM, THE WEST WING) and Tony-nominated actress and star of TV’s FALLING WATER,THE WEST WING and LOADED, Mary McCormack will participate in this segment.
  • This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Khe Sanh, one of the fiercest battles of the Vietnam War. The show will feature the story of Bill Rider, who was part of the battalion known as “The Walking Dead.” Bill’s story will focus on his return home to fight a different war…that of post-traumatic stress. As part of his healing process, Bill found a way to pay it forward by dedicating his life to helping generations of service men and women who have experienced the trauma of war. Bill’s story will be told by Academy Award-nominated actor Graham Greene (DANCES WITH WOLVES, WIND RIVER).
  • 2018 marks the 150th anniversary of Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day and first commemorated at Arlington National Cemetery.

The all-star line-up also features distinguished American leader General Colin L. Powell USA (Ret.)and musical performances by actor and country singer Charles Esten (NASHVILLE); Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award-winning actress and singer Cynthia Erivo (THE COLOR PURPLE); three-time Grammy Award-nominee singer/songwriter Leona Lewis; Tony-nominee and star of NBC’s hit TV show SMASH, Broadway and TV’s Megan Hilty; acclaimed tenor and Broadway star Alfie Boe (LES MISÉRABLES); and Gary Sinise & The Lt. Dan Band, marking 15 years and over 400 concerts entertaining our troops, veterans and military families; in performance with the National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of top pops conductor Jack Everly.

Also participating in the event are the U.S Joint Chiefs of Staff with The U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, The U.S. Army Chorus and Army Voices, The Soldiers Chorus of the U.S. Army Field Band, The U.S. Navy Band Sea Chanters, The U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants, the Armed Forces Color Guard and Service Color Teams provided by the Military District of Washington, D.C.

The concert will also be live-streamed on PBS, You Tube, Facebook and www.pbs.org/national-memorial-day-concert and available as Video on Demand, May 28 to June 10, 2018.

The program is a co-production of Michael Colbert of Capital Concerts and WETA, Washington, D.C.  Executive producer Michael Colbert has assembled an award-winning production team that features the top Hollywood talent behind some of television’s most prestigious entertainment awards shows including the GRAMMY AWARDS, COUNTRY MUSIC AWARDS, TONY AWARDS, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, and more.

About Capital Concerts
Capital Concerts is the nation’s leading producer of live patriotic television shows, including PBS’s highest-rated performance specials: NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT and A CAPITOL FOURTH, the premier celebrations of America’s most important holidays broadcast from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.  For more than 35 years, these two award-winning productions have become national traditions, bringing us together as one family of Americans to celebrate our freedom and democratic ideals and to pay tribute to those who defend them.  The holiday specials have been honored with over 80 awards including the New York Film Festival Award, the Golden Cine Award, and the Writer’s Guild of America Award.

Underwriters
The NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT is made possible by grants from the Lockheed Martin Corporation, the National Park Service, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Department of the Army, General Dynamics, PBS and public television stations nationwide.  Air travel is provided by American Airlines.

Visit the program website at http://www.pbs.org/national-memorial-day-concert/home/

Connect with us on:
http://www.facebook.com/memorialdayconcert
twitter.com/MemorialDayPBS (#MemDayPBS)
instagram.com/memdayPBS

SOURCE Capital Concerts

Curio Collection by Hilton adds Miramonte Indian Wells, The Darcy and The Renwick

December 20, 2016

Miramonte Indian Wells Resort & Spa, Curio Collection by Hilton
(Photo courtesy of Miramonte Indian Wells Resort & Spa, Curio Collection by Hilton)

Three hotels have joined the Curio Collection by Hilton brand: Miramonte Indian Wells Resort & Spa in Indian Wells, California; The Darcy in Washington, D.C. ; and The Renwick in New York City.

Miramonte Indian Wells Resort & Spa, Curio Collection by Hilton and The Renwick Hotel New York City, Curio Collection by Hilton are now open, while The Darcy, Curio Collection by Hilton, is expected to open in mid-2017.

Miramonte Indian Wells Resort & Spa (which opened  1960 as the Erawan Garden) is located at 45000 Indian Wells Lane in Indian Wells, California, at the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains. The 11-acre property, which is undergoing renovations, has 215 guest rooms, villas and suites. The resort has 35,000 square feet of event and meeting space, as well as numerous outdoor garden that can accommodate as many as 500 guests. There is also a 12,000-square-foot Well Spa that has 13 treatment rooms, seasonal offerings and a courtyard with two private salt water pools.  There are also staff-led yoga classes and wellness walks. The property is owned by Rockpoint Group and managed by Two Roads Hospitality.

Dining options at the resort include the Grove Artisan Kitchen (which specializes in fresh, seasonal California cuisine) and the Vineyard Lounge, which serves crafted cocktails and light meals. The resort has three pools, including the Miramonte Pool, (which has chaise lounges, umbrellas and food and beverages all day) and  the Piedmont Pool that includes access to a heated whirlpool, sun decks and food and beverage service.

The Renwick
(Photo courtesy of The Renwick Hotel New York City, Curio Collection by Hilton)

The Renwick Hotel New York City, Curio Collection by Hilton is located at 118 East 40th Street in New York. The property is owned by a joint venture between Meadow Partners and hotel Asset Value Enhancement and managed by StepStone Hospitality.  To celebrate The Renwick Hotel New York City’s addition to the Curio Collection, Hilton HHonors members can earn 1,000 points per night on eligible stays from January 1, 2017 through March 31, 2017. Housed in an iconic 1920s brick building, The Renwick Hotel New York City has 173 guest rooms and suites.  The hotel’s signature eatery is Bedford and Co.,  the first solo restaurant from award-winning Chef John DeLucie that serves contemporary American cuisine and a rotating menu of Prohibition era-style artisan cocktails.

Meanwhile, the 226-room Darcy hotel is located at 1515 Rhode Island Avenue NW, in Washington, D.C., just off Scott Circle.  The hotel’s Siren restaurant will feature locally sourced ingredients paired with seafood from a menu created by chefs Robert Wiedmaier and Brian McBride. The Darcy will also have Lil’ B, an intimate New Orleans-style coffee shop and eatery, led by chef David Guas. Additional amenities will include a fitness center, business services, room service, valet parking, concierge services and programming with business and leisure travelers in mind.  The Darcy has about 5,500 square feet of meeting and event space.

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