Home Lifestyle Arts & Entertainment Movie Reviews: Straight Outta Compton shows an electrifying piece of hip-hop history

Movie Reviews: Straight Outta Compton shows an electrifying piece of hip-hop history

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By Jay Bobbin

Starting this week

Straight Outta Compton

Director F. Gary Gray (”Friday”) scored a major hit with his dramatization of the formation and survival of the controversial hip-hop group N.W.A. The members – who included Dr. Dre (played by Corey Hawkins) and Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson Jr., son of the actual Ice Cube) – used their words to combat the oppression they felt from authorities in their area of California, making their mark not only locally, but also inspiring and motivating listeners around the world. Many radio stations hesitated to air their lyrics, but they became huge successes anyway. Aldis Hodge (“Leverage”) and Paul Giamatti also star. DVD extras: five “making-of” documentaries; audio commentary by Gray. **** (R and unrated versions: AS, N, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

The Intern

Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway make an engaging duo in this latest comedy from director Nancy Meyers (“It’s Complicated,” “Something’s Gotta Give,” “The Holiday”). De Niro plays the unlikely “intern” of the title, a widower who tires of retirement and rejoins the work force by applying for a senior-citizen program at a Web site run by Hathaway’s character. Though she’s skeptical at first, he quickly becomes indispensable to her, not only in professional matters but also in advising her about her family life. Rene Russo, Andrew Rannells (“Girls”), Adam DeVine (“Pitch Perfect”) and Linda Lavin also appear, but the movie clearly belongs to its two top-billed stars. DVD extras: three “making-of” documentaries. *** (PG-13: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

Everest

The title mountain poses the anticipated challenges to two groups of climbers trying to conquer it in this drama, inspired by actual events in the mid-1990s … and their ascent turns even more potentially lethal mountain when they end up in the midst of a fierce storm. The groups’ rivalry takes a back seat to bigger concerns of survival as they struggle to meet, and overcome, Mount Everest’s considerable threats. Jake Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Keira Knightley, Josh Brolin, Robin Wright, Sam Worthington and Emily Watson are among the film’s nominal stars, but the stunt players and cinematography team also deserve a huge amount of the credit. DVD extras: two “making-of” documentaries; audio commentary by director Baltasar Kormakur. *** (PG-13: P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

Jem and the Holograms

Translating the doll-line-inspired cartoon show into a live-action venture didn’t prove too successful, since this was one of the lowest-grossing movies from a major studio in 2015, but it still may work as a curio for those who already were “Jem” fans. Aubrey Peeples (“Nashville”) plays the young woman who rockets to wide musical fame along with her sisters, only to find others getting in the way of her professional and personal happiness. The cast also includes Stefanie Scott (“Insidious: Chapter 3”), Hayley Kiyoko (“CSI: Cyber”), Juliette Lewis, Molly Ringwald and Ryan Guzman (“Heroes Reborn”). Jimmy Fallon, Chris Pratt, Dwayne Johnson and Alicia Keys have cameos. DVD extras: “making-of” documentary; audio commentary by director Jon M. Chu; outtakes; music video. ** (PG: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

Stonewall

One of several recent dramas that have considered key points in the gay-rights movement, this film marks a departure for producer-director Roland Emmerich, a specialist in big-budget adventures (“Independence Day,” “The Day After Tomorrow”). Jeremy Irvine (“War Horse”) stars as a young man whose friendships with LGBT youths lead to a major and controversial crusade in late-1960s New York. Written by Jon Robin Baitz (“The Slap”), the movie also includes Joey King, Matt Craven, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Ron Perlman in its strong cast. *** (R: AS, P, V) (Also on On Demand)

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

A young woman’s (Bel Powley) coming-of-age story unfolds in this drama, based on Phoebe Gloeckner’s novel and set in the San Francisco of the mind-1970s. The heroine`s efforts to find her place in the world come to involve her mother’s (Kristen Wiig) boyfriend (Alexander Skarsgard, “True Blood”), prompting her to grow up more quickly than expected. Debuting writer-director Marielle Heller also uses animated sequences in telling the tale. Christopher Meloni also appears. DVD extras: “making-of” documentary; audio commentary and Q&A session by Heller and cast members; deleted scenes. *** (R: AS, N. P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

Coming soon

Burnt (Jan. 26)

A troubled chef (Bradley Cooper) tries to redeem himself and return to the heights of his profession in London. (R: AS, P)

Goosebumps (Jan. 26)

Jack Black plays R.L. Stine – the author of the title book series – in a tale of a town overrun by the monsters he created. (PG: AS)

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Walt Disney Signature Collection (Feb. 2)

The classic animated feature launches a new series of enhanced releases. (Not rated) (Also on Blu-ray)

Suffragette (Feb. 2)

The early stages of feminism in England are recalled in director Sarah Gavron’s drama; Anne-Marie Duff and Carey Mulligan star. (R: AS, N, P, V)

Black Mass (Feb. 16)

Johnny Depp stars as Boston-mob figure James “Whitey” Bulger, an informant for an FBI agent and childhood friend (Joel Edgerton). (R: AS, P, GV)

Steve Jobs (Feb. 16)

Michael Fassbender portrays the Apple co-founder and CEO in director Danny Boyle and writer Aaron Sorkin’s drama. (R: AS, P)


FAMILY-VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence.
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