“Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul” (Comedy: 1:42)
With : Regina Hall, Sterling K. Brown and Austin Crute
Director: Adamma Ebo
Note : R (Strong language, sexual content)
Film critic: “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul” marks Adamma Ebo’s directorial debut for a feature film. She leaves an impressionable mark, even if the antics go too far.
Pastor Lee-Curtis Childs (Brown) and his wife, First Lady Trinitia (Hall), are leaders of the Southern Baptist megachurch, Wander to Greater Paths.
The church has just lost 25,000 members thanks to a scandal involving Pastor Childs. He was accused of sexually coercing a number of young men into having relations with him.
As the pastor and his wife strive to restore their ministry and rebuild the church congregation, they face marital problems.
Despite the title of this film, it is not a religious film per se. It’s a prank that exposes the shenanigans that happen in a mega-church. The satirical moments are written, directed and produced by Adamma Ebo (“CRE.AM & Butter” (2018), who is developing his 2018 short film titled the same. This film and the short film are a seemingly comedic recap of Bishop Eddie Long events that made headlines over a decade ago.
“Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul” has a message about organized religion, but it challenges the system. Instead, it ridicules religiosity. The antics work thanks to the acting of lead actors Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown. They are both phenomenal.
Again, this is a comedy about religion, not a faith film.
The characters, especially Hall and Brown, are irreverent as they are well acted. At times, many characters appear far from holy. It’s a laugh, though a lot of the material is adult material that pushes the envelope in subtle ways while bordering on clever and silly moments.
To note: B- (This film honks for interested audiences.)
“Gigi & Nate” (Drama: 1h54)
With : Marcia Gay Harden, Charlie Rowe, Diane Ladd and Jim Belushi
Director: Nick Hamm
Note : PG-13 (Thematic Elements)
Film critic: This family entertainment slips on emotional aspects but it has its moments. Often, small family storylines receive negative reviews for being too rosy in their intent. The intention of this film is to inspire audiences with decent fun for the whole family. This movie achieves that.
Nate Gibson (Rowe) is a young man who loses his will to live after a near-fatal bout with bacterial meningitis that leaves him quadriplegic. Nate’s life of depression changes when he receives a capuchin monkey named Gigi. The service animal soon becomes an integral part of Nate’s life, giving the young man a reason to live again.
What Nate wins is hope. Now that the COVID pandemic is waning, many people returning to see movies can use this kind of escape. “Gigi & and Nate” inspires if nothing else, even when too voluminous for its final 30 minutes.
To note: B- (A good duet.)
“One Way” (Thriller/Drama: 1h36)
With : Colson Baker, Storm Reid, Travis Fimmel, Drea Matteo and Kevin Bacon
Director: Andre Baird
Note : R (Intrusive language, violence and drug use)
Film critic: Sometimes a little-known film manages to amaze with its ability to grab attention and create constant entertainment.
“One Way” is an interesting thriller that takes place over a few hours one night. The narrative tells an inviting piece of a criminal with a gunshot wound.
Freddy (Baker, better known as Machine Gun Kelly) is a wounded man with money and drugs stolen from a notorious crime boss, Vic (Matteo).
Freddy is on a bus that departs from Lake City, Florida, makes a stop in Valdosta, and ends its night run in Cairo, Georgia. Along the way, Freddy faces multiple dangers while forming various relationships with several people on the bus.
Ben Conway’s screenplay is imaginative, even if one feels left out by some of the outward elements of its narrative. The characters spend much of their time talking in this dramatic gangster film.
Yet much of the plot exists off the bus as well as on it when the characters on the bus are fascinating character studies of their own accord.
Conway (“Nightrider”, 2021) is creative with its setting and characters.
Baker’s looks make him an attractive choice for this film’s lead role, Freddy. He is the henchman of a small gangster boss, but his character is also a man who tries to do good for the people he can help.
Freddy plays a role in a film noir. Freddy is not a saint but he has good intentions. The problem is that his intentions are charged with a tumultuous past and Baker works in that role.
However, Storm Reid (“Sleight”, 2016) is a talented young actress.
She has a certain beauty in this role. She comes across as a real person. She rivals Baker as a character by providing a richly developed character on the bus.
A classic noir thriller, “One Way” features an array of characters. Pretty much all of them are sleazy in one form or another, ranging from child molesters to mafia agents.
The characters work in a small setting, though you never get to see much beyond the darkened windows until the final 20 minutes.
The film begins in a way that appears in the middle of the story. You have to adapt to the characters as the plot progresses. However, the film attracts enough attention to make it worthwhile.
To note: B- (Go to a captivating thriller.)
“Medieval” (Drama/History/War: 2 hours, 6 minutes)
With : Ben Foster, Sophie Lowe, Til Schweiger and Michael Caine
Director: Petr Jakl
Note : R (Violent and macabre content throughout, and some nudity)
Film critic: “Medieval” is a “Braveheart” longing to be. It’s an interesting tale that lacks the epic of its historical figure, the Czech general Jan Zizka.
Seasoned 15th-century leader Jan Zizka (Foster) finds himself in the midst of warring factions after the death of the reigning Holy Roman Emperor.
As the kingdoms descend into chaos of feuding kings, Lord Boresh (Caine) hires Zizka and his men to kidnap Lady Katherine (Lowe), the fiancee of the mighty Lord Rosenberg (Til Schweiger). Boresh and others want to prevent corrupt King Sigismund (Matthew Goode) and Rosenberg’s rise to power.
As a biopic, this film falls short of historical figure Jan Zizka. Supposedly, he never lost a battle as a military leader. The war and other action scenes are energetically appealing, but the rest of the film fails to inspire.
Ben Foster does his best but he seems out of place with his overly modern western appearance. Despite other major talent attached to this film, it fails to capture attention beyond its gory action scenes.
To note: C+ (The tale of the Middle Ages is mediocre entertainment.)
Adann-Kennn Alexxandar has been criticizing films for over 20 years in South Georgia.