First I'd like to talk about Rhys Ifans. This Welshman has been skirting the edge of the A-List since 1991, working non-stop in an amazing variety of roles. You may recognize him from a few I selected out of 82 roles:
  • Steadfast Dobbin in "Vanity Fair."
  • Goofy idler in "Danny Deckchair."
  • Flatmate from Hell in "Notting Hill."
  • Evil conniver in "Nanny McFee Returns."
  • Narrator in "Exit Through the Gift Shop."
That being said, now we can talk about "Anonymous" in which he plays Edward De Vere, the Earl of Oxford, whose name you may not instantly recognize, but who has long been rumored to be the "real" writer behind William Shakespeare and his singular career. Of course this is the age of deconstruction, so we watch while writer John Orloff ("A Mighty Heart") systematically dismantles English History, along with the reputations of Shakespeare, Queen Elizabeth, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, the Earl of Essex and the Earl of Oxford.

This big budget extravaganza made me squirm because along with a terrific cast from the U.K., it boasts infidelity, incest, plagiarism, impiety and profoundly re-writes history. Of course I would have wasted 35 years worth of tickets to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival if I didn't recognize the delicious scraps they tossed our way. We see links to Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Twelfth Night, Titus Andronicus, Romeo and Juliet, Henry V, and Richard III through either situations or dialog. We think, "Aha! Hamlet! That drapery will be called an arras and Pelonious gets stabbed there!" or "A hunchback? Of course, Richard III!" Snippets from well-loved plays are done with great relish and I liked seeing three men play the witches in Macbeth. At least that rang true...

Of course there's plenty of humor, Shakespeare is depicted as a country bumpkin who can read but not write. Because he is an actor, he hams up his curtain calls and starts to suffer from delusions of adequacy. There are so many reasons this plot doesn't hold water, I won't bore you with any more of it. Suffice it to say, palace intrigue isn't for the faint of heart and there were some mighty tough courtiers in those days!

This DID whet my appetite; now I can hardly wait for Henry V in Ashland, Oregon next year; I already have my ticket!

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The Rum Diary

Johnny Depp continues his fascination with Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. This time he plays a fictitious character created when Thompson was a 19-year-old unpublished writer; forty years later, Thompson dusted off the manuscript and published the book. Screen- writer/Director Bruce Robinson ("Jennifer 8") takes us on a rum-soaked trip to Puerto Rico, but he can't camouflage Thompson's adolescent point of view. Instead of a colorful rustic life, adults see squalor; instead of love at first sight, adults see promiscuity; and we no longer view heavy drinking and chain smoking as comical. I don't recall hearing any laughter at this R-rated comedy.

Depp's character gets a job as a reporter at a failing newspaper in San Juan. He must push his way through a rioting mob of workers who were fired two weeks earlier because they were replaced by automation. That is the last logical chain of events we see.
  • Johnny Depp ("Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas") is our bleary- eyed reporter, who staggers from one ill-advised adventure to another, cigarette in one hand and a drink in the other, still searching for his own unique journalistic "voice."
  • Michael Rispoli ("While You Were Sleeping") is the newspaper photographer who befriends our hero and becomes a drinking buddy/sidekick/roommate.
  • Aaron Eckhart ("Rabbit Hole") is an evil developer, rich and greedy, selfish and racist, with great cars, a beautiful house and beach-front property.
  • Richard Jenkins ("Dear John") is another expatriate at the news- paper. He has sold out to the conformist establishment and has a perfectly dreadful toupee.
  • Giovanni Ribisi ("Avatar") is somehow associated with the news- paper. He wears a ragged overcoat, is skinny, dirty and drunk. He also is a Nazi.
  • Amber Heard ("Drive Angry") is a slutty blonde who looks like a wannabe Scarlett Johansson. Her fictitious character marries the fictitious writer in a fictitious postscript to the fictitious story.
Rispoli, Eckhart, Jenkins and Ribisi are all extremely capable actors. In my opinion, their talents are wasted... Not only is Depp an extremely capable actor, he can actually unsnap a bra with one hand; I doubt if THAT talent is wasted!

Until his suicide in 2005, Hunter S. Thompson spent his iconoclastic life under the influence of mind-altering chemicals. He was expelled, kicked out, let go, discharged and fired from an astonishing number of jobs. He never struck me as the sort of person I'd like to know. And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, should irritate all the Hunter S. Thompson fans! You know who you are....
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In Time

Recently I've read a couple of references that say, in so many words, that Death is a GIFT. Without it, we wouldn't value Life. This was upper- most in my mind as I watched this film.

This Sci-Fi outing is about a time in the near future when people no longer grow old. In order to avoid overpopulation, they only age for 25 years, then a countdown begins to measure one remaining year. During that time, they must resort to other means if they are to extend their lives one second beyond that year. Additional time has become a luxury they must purchase, and time is also THE unit of commerce. Platitudes take on a different significance here: "Don't waste my time," and "Do you have a minute?" are loaded with subtext! Everything from bus fares to phone fees, garments to groceries, are paid for by units of precious time. Yes, Time IS Money!

To me, the concept for this film is far more intriguing than the actors:
  • Justin Timberlake ("Friends With Benefits") is as capable as any of the fuzzy-faced young actors decorating the screen these days. His character pulls a man from certain death only to discover that the man is very, very old and no longer wants any more time. He had been courting death!
  • Olivia Wilde ("Cowboys and Aliens") is Timberlake's mother. The audience actually laughed; but to be fair, we hadn't yet grasped this film's concept of eternal youth. You see, when you buy time, you don't age. This means, NO one looks over 25 years old.
  • Matt Bomer ("White Collar") is the weary old man. He's had more than enough time and just wants to stop. Because time is such a valuable commodity, this is a concept others find difficult to accept.
  • Cillian Murphy ("Red Eye") is a Time Keeper; he punishes people who steal time. Murphy is the stand-out actor in this piece: His American accent is flawless, his face is interesting, and he is a confident, versatile guy. (Although I've yet to see him in a musical!)
  • Amanda Seyfried ("Big Love") is the daughter of a fabulously wealthy man; she looks exactly the same age as her mother and grandmother. She is tired of being protected and coddled, so being taking hostage by our hero isn't all that bad!
  • Vincent Kartheiser ("Mad Men") is that fabulously wealthy man, with eons secured in his vault, and armies of bodyguards to make sure he has all the time in the world.
If I had a choice, I'd see this in a theater with Closed Captions or wait for the DVD. I was forced to have this film explained to me after we left the theater because I couldn't hear a blasted thing! As I've said before, this is a choice made by the sound designer and is neither a limitation of my hearing nor of today's technology. I'll leave it at that.

This PG-13 film has vehicular mayhem and many gunshots, but no nudity or profanity. The blowie uppie stuff is restricted to one car crash but it doesn't lend much excitement. ...Yawn....

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Puss in Boots

In DreamWorks' animated "Shrek" franchise, the unexpected popularity of "Puss in Boots" was a welcome surprise. Instead of merely a walk-on, the producers could smell a profitable spin-off, so here is the prequel which tells us how it all began. Because this is produced by DreamWorks, we enjoy an entertaining PG-13 story, terrific production values and an audience pleaser from the get-go. The 3D effects are nicely done, almost worth the extra cost.

Our little orphaned Puss, in order to help his adopted mother, sets off on a quest to find the goose that laid the golden egg. Actually he's after some magic beans... Or... Oh rats! It's too complicated to go into here, but suffice it to say, our favorite gato hits a few snags along the way.

Of course, we have a lot of amigos to help:
  • Antonio Banderas ("Haywire") is our eponymous orange tabby, resourceful, macho and (trying to be) trustworthy.
  • Salma Hayek ("Grown Ups") is Kitty Softpaws (she's been de-clawed), a tough but oh so gentle, little gray and white pussycat. She's also a bit of a flirt.
  • Zach Galifianakis ("Due Date") is Humpty Dumpty; with friends like this, who needs... Oh, you know... (...but I liked that ingenuous little sprinkle of freckles...)
  • Billy Bob Thornton ("Faster") is Jack (of Jack and Jill notoriety). This dastardly duo blasts around the frontier in a wagon pulled by a team of javalinas.
  • Amy Sedaris (lots of TV) is Jill, Jack's better (?!) half. They are after the goose that laid the golden egg (see above).
I loved the Latino-flavored soundtrack, the flamenco dances, the swash-buckling sword fights, the dash across open country from a cat's-eye level, and, above all, being amazed by the subtle nuances displayed on each character's face. Today's animators are brilliant, they know how to capture emotion, speech, and movement, all true to each personality.

Children will get a big kick out of the story and the action, while adults will appreciate the artistry and the humor. ¡El gato con botas es gran diversión!

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The Three Musketeers

When did you imprint on this story? Do you have a favorite film version? I am positive it will NOT be this one! This pathetic waste of disposable income has only a nodding acquaintance with the classic swashbuckler by Alexandre Dumas. Okay, okay, their names, their king's name and their plumed hats...but that's IT!

The sad thing is, each actor in this excellent cast can point with pride to a far superior film; in fact, just to be mean, I will cite at least one good project beside each person's name...to his everlasting shame! I feel spiteful because I deliberately overlooked this would-be comedy's bad reviews and paid to see some of my favorites:
  • Matthew Macfadyen ("Pillars of the Earth") is Athos, who has become a broken-hearted, broken-down booze hound.
  • Luke Evans ("Robin Hood") is Aramis, seriously considering renewing his vows and returning to the Church.
  • Ray Stevenson ("Rome") is Porthos, reduced to living off his many lady friends.
  • Logan Lerman ("3:10 to Yuma") is D'Artagnan, rambunctious and foolish.
  • Orlando Bloom ("Troy") is the Duke of Buckingham, a sworn enemy of King Louis, whom our Musketeers are sworn to defend.
  • Mads Mikkelsen ("Casino Royale") is Rochefort, who owes an apology to D'Artagnon's horse.
  • Christoph Waltz (Academy Award for "Inglorious Basterds") is Richelieu, intent on gaining full control of the throne.
  • Freddie Fox (lots of TV) is King Louis XIII of France, a twit terrified that he will be caught wearing a color that has gone out of style.
Flying airships and Gatling guns, absurd sword fights and overuse of C.G.I., plus anachronistic humor, e.g., D'Artagnon gets a ticket from a gendarme for failure to clean up after his horse, when it poops on the street...in 1626! C'mon...Poop jokes to spice up a PG-13 movie!

Had enough? Me too!
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Margin Call

Here we have a timely R-rated thriller that takes place in an investment bank (which shall remain nameless) on Day One of our latest financial disaster. We start with a downsizing: an employee is walked to a glass-enclosed office and heartlessly "let go," in full view of his coworkers. As Security escorts him to the elevator with his pathetic banker's box of personal items, he hands a zip drive to a young colleague with the admonition: "I was working on this and you need to finish it. Be careful."

By the time the young fellow completes the equations and realizes the magnitude of the situation, we are off and running. Of course with 20/20 hindsight, we know exactly how big and how brutal it was, what we only suspected was the extent of protection enjoyed by a self-serving top echelon of officers. Their "take-home pay" is mind-boggling.

Investment banking is still mostly a guy thing: look at the cast:
  • Kevin Spacey ("Horrible Bosses") is a long-term employee, a company man who weeps first for his dying dog and then for his beleaguered company.
  • Paul Bettany ("The Young Victoria") is a mid-level manager, a survivor who knows when to escalate a problem.
  • Zachary Quinto ("Star Trek") is the former engineer turned risk analyst who is handed that zip drive by his exiting boss.
  • Stanley Tucci ("Captain America") is the first man out the door. I loved his story about the impact of a bridge he built across a river in the mid-West before he came to New York.
  • Simon Baker ("The Mentalist") is a shrewd operator who shaves before a 3:00 AM Executive Board meeting.
  • Jeremy Irons ("Appaloosa") is the CEO who sees this as just another bump in the road.
  • Penn Badgley ("Easy A") is a recently hired employee who sobs in a mens' room stall.
  • Demi Moore ("Another Happy Day") tried to warn the officers a year earlier and is now told to keep her mouth shut.
It was a subdued screening audience that exited the theater. We have all felt the impact of that period of insanity and greed, so it's time to put faces on the villains. No gunshots, no car chases, no blowie uppie stuff, just self-serving people oblivious to their impact on the economy, and too arrogant to clean up their own toxic mess of derivatives. The R-rating is due to the profanity-laced language used by these fine folks.

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The Big Year

For many people, birding (not "bird-watching!") is more than just a hobby; in many instances, it's an obsession. This sweet, low-key film looks at three birders, each vying for the title of "Champ." There is an annual contest to honor the individual who has spotted the most species in a year; and to those who compete, that total represents the acme of birding.

This gentle little film has much to recommend it, namely great scenery and interesting locales, from Attu Island, Alaska, to Atlanta, Georgia, we scoot all over the country, pretending we are in Arizona, California, Washington, Oregon, Montana, Maine, etc., etc., etc. Better than that, we see and hear about a marvelous assortment of birds: from the Golden Plover, the king of migratory birds; to the Great Snowy Owl, elusive and majestic.

One of our characters can identify bird calls, so we hear many of those, too, and the final credits share screen space with an amazing stream of photos, each bird group is identified. I found it interesting to see how well-established birding destinations are geared for an annual influx of singularly focused individuals, binoculars in hand, eagerly logging each sighting.

Here is a partial cast of the birders:
  • Steve Martin ("It's Complicated") is a wealthy businessman, trying to retire so he has more time to devote to his hobby.
  • Owen Wilson ("Midnight in Paris") is the top birder, the guy everyone wants to beat. He is obsessed with retaining his title, to the detriment of a personal life.
  • Jack Black ("Bernie"), less annoying than usual, plays a cash- strapped wannabe champ, trying to cope with money problems, keep his job, and challenge the top guy.
  • Rashida Jones ("Our Idiot Brother") is another birder who under- stands her fellow hobbyists' compulsions.
These are a few of the supporting cast members:
  • JoBeth Williams (LOTS of TV since "American Dreamer") is Steve Martin's wife, patient, understanding and happy to support his interests.
  • Rosamond Pike ("Barney's Version") is Wilson's third wife, determined to have a child and break through his passion for birds.
  • Dianne Wiest ("Rabbit Hole") is Jack Black's mother, doubling as his travel agent and his bank when his finances get rocky.
  • Brian Dennehy ("The Next Three Days") is Black's father, bewildered by his son's passionate enthusiasm for birds.
  • Anjelica Houston ("50/50") steals the show again, this time as the proprietor of a tour boat in Alaska, who doesn't like Wilson's character very much.
This story hinges on friendship, honor, loyalty, familial love, aging, and setting priorities. No profanity, no sweaty bodies, no gunshots, no blowie uppie stuff or vehicular mayhem. Just some fairly nice people for whom we come to care, plus that terrific scenery and those wonderful birds, which are worth the price of admission. No wonder it's rated PG!

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Did you see the 1984 original? If so, you will recall that this film launched Kevin Bacon's career. Now let's see if this sweet-spirited version (which duplicates many of the original scenes verbatim!) will do the same for our new Ren McCormack. Judging by the energy level of the screening audience as we exited the theater, I think it might.
  • Kenny Wormald ("Center Stage: Turn It Up") is Ren, who, after his mother died, was transplanted from Boston to this podunk town out in the hinterlands of Texas, where his love of dancing hits a stone wall. Wormald is a former backup dancer for Justin Timberlake, who recommended him for this role. Good call, Justin!
  • Dennis Quaid ("Vantage Point") is Reverend Moore, the grieving minister who had a town ordinance passed that outlawed dancing three years ago after five teenagers were killed, including his boy.
  • Julianne Hough ("Dancing With the Stars") is Ariel, the minister's daughter, rebellious and in pain because her father's sole focus is on his dead son and not on his living daughter.
  • Andie MacDowell ("Groundhog Day") is Vi, the minister's wife. Her job is to referee the battles between her husband and their daughter and to provide another point of view when it's needed ...which is fairly often.
  • Ray McKinnon ("The Blind Side") surprised me as Ren's Uncle Wes, because this gawky hick turned out to be fair, supportive and wise. I'm always shocked when I have to revise my expectations of a character that are based on a few prejudices of my own.
  • Miles Teller is a revelation! That sad, bewildered teenager from "Rabbit Hole" is the guy Ren and his nieces teach to dance. He's funny and (eventually) he really dances in a highly entertaining montage; I always like to watch someone master a new skill.
Of course you have the usual coterie of chums and high-school faculty, plus members of that well-meaning town council, so there are many capable actors who get to strut their stuff. The line dancing is enjoyable, but the grudge race using school buses left me cold.

I'm glad the film starts with that horrific wreck, it's a great illustration of the hazards of drinking and driving! I appreciate the clean-shaven look of the principal players–only the bad guys are scruffy. This version, like the first, does NOT devolve into an anti-religious screed, but instead respects the convictions of the principals, e.g., Ren uses the Old Testament in his petition to the city council.

This film is PG-13, so you'll hear a smattering of profanity and see the promise of nudity, but not the real thing. No gunshots or blowie uppie stuff, but you DO see what a reckless wench Ariel has become. Don't hate me Kevin Bacon, but given the athleticism of today's dancers, I like this one better than yours.

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What's Your Number?

Why must contemporary comedies be so anatomical? Truth be told, I liked this one much better than "Bridesmaids" because this heroine isn't self-centered, destructive or mean. She reads a random article in a magazine and discovers that she is at the upper end of the "average number of lovers" an American woman has before she marries.

She panics and decides to mend her ways: She will NOT have sex with anyone unless he's "The One!" In order to keep her total down, she decides to re-visit old lovers and see if any of them have improved with age. In the meantime, the neighbor from across the hall scampers over wearing a hand towel and asks to hide in her place until his one-night- stand leaves. He is afraid the gal might want a "relationship!"

The neighbor's a semi-employed musician and our heroine is a just-fired marketing rep. She makes a list and hires him to track down her former lovers while she helps her younger sister with her impending wedding.

Now we can review the cast:
  • Anna Faris ("House Bunny") is Ally, unemployed, panicky, afraid her eggs might be getting stale, and looking for a way to just be herself. Faris is a wonderful comic and needs a better movie.
  • Chris Evans ("Captain America") is Colin, the hottie from across the hall. BTW, he looks GOOD in a hand towel! Evans makes me feel optimistic about the future of American Cinema...smile...
  • Blythe Danner ("Paul") is Ava, Ally's mother, anxious for both of her daughters to be married to acceptable (i.e., $ucce$$ful) young men. Danner has been working non-stop; there is evidently a market out there for actresses "of a certain age." And experience counts: Watch her flip her hair!
  • Ed Begley Jr. (LOTS of TV) is Ally's divorced dad, invited to the wedding AND he's bringing his new love to "share his happiness," which he tweets to the world!
  • Heather Burns ("Miss Congeniality") is Eileen, part of our gal's posse and also one of the bridesmaids. I included her because she's the best "wingman" in the business!
  • Chris Pratt ("Moneyball") is Disgusting Donald, typical of the former lovers dredged up from that infamous list.
Of course we know where this is going; it is, after all, a Chick Flick. In my opinion, our two leads are more appealing than anyone we've seen on screen since Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan in "Drive." This little R-rated comedy hits all its clichés and I left feeling good, if only they weren't so specific about body parts!


The Ides of March

This is a blockbuster film with a blockbuster cast and a blockbuster topic, which is timely and fairly realistic. We see a charismatic candidate in the presidential primary in Ohio and we get to watch the jockeying for position among his staff, his supporters and his potential endorsers. We're looking at a highly principled contender with a staff that's deter- mined to win at any cost, so of course it becomes a question of idealism vs pragmatism. Don't forget, contemporary politics is a blood sport!

A budget this big can afford this cast:
  • George Clooney ("Up in the Air") is our candidate, perfectly clad, perfectly coiffed, with a perfect family and a finely tuned platform; slick, sincere and electable.
  • Ryan Gosling ("Drive") is an up-and-coming campaign professional who makes a tough job look easy. He can resist the siren song of headhunters because he believes in his candidate.
  • Paul Giamatti ("Win Win") is the wily campaign manager for the loyal opposition, who understands that sometimes it's easier to give voters a reason to vote against a candidate.
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Moneyball") runs the show for our candidate. He's been in the business a long time and understands the value of loyalty.
  • Marisa Tomei ("Crazy, Stupid, Love") is a political hack for the New York Times. She has sources that would make any politician weep, but her hair looks like straw!
  • Jeffrey Wright ("Source Code") commands a huge block of Ohio delegates but he wants the promise of a Cabinet post before he will endorse anybody!
  • Evan Rachel Wood ("The Wrestler") interns for the candidate and his staff: she runs for coffee, delivers hard copy to meetings and generally provides a multitude of services. BTW, they need real coffee in those containers; the actors don't handle them realisti- cally!
We see the usual strategy meetings punctuated by the usual profanity but this well-crafted drama is highly watchable and entertaining all the way. I'm sure the R-rating is mostly due to language. Just remember, watching how a politician gets elected is similar to visiting a sausage factory, we really do NOT want to know what goes into it.

Bottom line: It's fun to see George Clooney, who worked on the screen- play and also directed, use this forum as a soapbox for his own personal agenda. Good luck with that, George.

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Real Steel

Executive Producer Steven Spielberg ("Super 8") LOVES movies about children who eventually "make nice" with their parents; this one does it particularly well. In addition, Spielberg and Director Shawn Levy ("Date Night") like characters who redeem themselves, and this film does THAT nicely, too.

Our story takes place in the near future and involves a ne'er-do-well father who abandoned his wife when their child was born eleven years earlier. He was a wannabe prize fighter and despite an ability to take a licking and keep on ticking, too many defeats have reduced him to promoting a fighting robot (!?) For my taste, I don't like to see people pummel one another, so at least with robots, there is no blood...well maybe a little transmission fluid here and there, but at least no humans are harmed. Whew!

Here are a few of the actors in this appealing cast:
  • Hugh Jackman ("X Men: Wolverine") is a fast-talking charmer who just isn't very prudent. Jackman brings tons of energy, charisma and humor to this role. Yeah, he takes his shirt off... ...more than once. Plus, it's fun to watch him fall for his son.
  • Dakota Goyo ("Thor") is the much-loved boy who comes upon a discarded robot and talks his skeptical dad into helping him refurbish it. He also knows when to tell Dad to shape up and use some common sense!
  • Evangeline Lilly ("Lost") runs her deceased father's robot repair shop. She too, tries to talk common sense into our hero ...and she sure likes his headstrong little boy.
  • Anthony Mackie ("The Adjustment Bureau") is the local bookie/ deal maker. He tries to be a friend to our impetuous hero but it isn't always easy!
  • Hope Davis ("The Family Tree") is the little boy's wealthy aunt who has successfully sued for custody after her sister died.
  • James Rebhorn ("White Collar") is her wealthy husband who is willing to pay a bribe to make sure there will be no challenge in the custody issue.
Despite the metallic mayhem of robots pounding on each other, this PG-13 story is heartwarming and we were pleased to see the bad guys were only mildly bad and got some well-deserved comeuppance. We saw a few bits of profanity, no nudity, no sweaty bodies, no car chases and no blowie uppie stuff. Just robots beating the tar out of one another and families learning how to get along. WBC Super Middleweight Champ Sugar Ray Leonard was a technical consultant on this project; he gave each of the robots a particular fighting style and personality.

We were surprised at this film's refusal to villainize the usual suspects, and yes, we too, enjoy redemption, plus that nice, soggy, happy ending.

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Thunder Soul

This PG documentary is a wonderful reminder of the indelible impact a dedicated teacher can have on the lives of students. We follow the reunion of Houston's acclaimed Kashmere High School Stage Band, that had swept the state in the early 1970s with their powerhouse funk music. They come to pay tribute to their music teacher Conrad Johnson ("Prof"), who had left a professional career in music because he met the woman of his dreams and focused instead on her, then their children, and his high school band in Houston, Texas. Until the day she died, his world stopped when she walked into a room. His band LOVED her!

The band was the first all-black stage band ever to reach national competition and with "Prof" at the helm, they developed huge Afros, tight choreography, original funk, and, to the dismay of the conflicted judges, a dazzling style. ("And the winner is..." ...long pause... ...then a mumbled whisper... "...Kashmere...") Because that competition was held in Alabama during Governor Wallace's militant segregationist days, they were understandably anxious to collect their trophy and get outta town!

They were invited to play all over the country, so they were constantly raising funds for travel expenses. A trip to Europe almost eluded them until the State of Texas gave them a check to cover a shortfall. The Governor of Texas called them "Our ambassadors!" "Prof" trained them from the get-go to watch their language, their dress and their deportment because he felt they represented their people. So it was fitting that Texas send students who were specifically trained to be ambassadors.

The success of the band was infectious, and Kashmere High started to generate winning sports teams, vocal groups, scholarship winners, and became a beacon of Black Pride in the city. Students from other parts of town smuggled themselves into classes and hoped not to be caught.

Clips of the reunion are mixed in throughout the entire film so we follow the band members as high school musicians and then, 35 years later, as giddy middle-agers, some of whom hadn't touched their horns since graduation. The first few rehearsals are pretty rocky but they reserve our view of the "real" concert for the night their beloved 92-year-old teacher checks out of the hospital and comes to the event.

Expect lots of humor, many great reminiscences, a few tears and some mighty high spirits.

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