‘Queen of Katwe’ inspires with true story of chess prodigy

‘Queen of Katwe’ inspires with true story of chess prodigy

“Queen of Katwe” tells the inspiring true story of chess-prodigy Phiona Mutesi’s rise from poverty in Katwe, Uganda, to become one of the greatest chess masters in the world. The film begins with 10-year-old Phiona (newcomer Madina Nalwanga) going about her daily life by selling corn in the “slums” of Uganda. Her father tragically died recently, so her mother (Lupita Nyong’o) is left to raise four children alone. The Mutesi’s don’t have an easy time — the oldest child runs off with a “bad guy,” they’re evicted from their home, a storm floods their new house, etc. Through Robert Katende (David Oyelowo) — the soccer player turned missionary — Phiona discovers the game of chess. While chess becomes a great resource on which Phiona can focus her energy and high intelligence, it does not solve all her problems; the film does an excellent job of showing that an escape from poverty is not an easy transition. “Queen of Katwe” was shot on location in Uganda, providing an honest look at Mutesi’s childhood home, and all the colors in the film are especially vivid and beautiful. The majority of the film’s actors are Kenyan. Be sure to stick around for the credits to see them interact with their environment; viewers will get to see the actors stand beside their real-life counterparts at the film’s conclusion. Nyong’o delivers the best performance, portraying an incredibly complex character with skill and emotion. Phiona’s mother is strong, yet she needs her older children’s help so that they can pay their rent and have food at night; therefore, she struggles with Phiona’s running off to play chess. The film...
‘The Magnificent 7’ delivers action-packed western story

‘The Magnificent 7’ delivers action-packed western story

Fast paced, gun-slinging action and a formula too familiar, The Magnificent 7 packs some punch (and some dynamite) into two hours of non-stop action. Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) collaborates with Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke for a journey back to Wild West. The stage is set in the first few scenes as the town of Rose Creek is under the control of a ruthless industrialist named Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard). The opening sequence takes place in a church where Bogue establishes his character’s ruthlessness, as he takes the men out and kills half a dozen of them and sets the church ablaze. That is when Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) and Teddy Q (Luke Grimes) set out to unite the seven, as Cullen also seeks revenge. Each member of the seven is introduced western-style by killing someone in dramatic fashion. Chisolm, a very matter-a-fact warrant officer played by Denzel Washington, clears a saloon single handily. Chris Pratt’s character Josh Faraday, is introduced as a wise-cracking, trickster who’s good with a deck of cards. Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) is a sharpshooting ‘Texican.’ Goodnight Robincheaux (Ethan Hawke), a legendary Confederate marksman and Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), a knife-wielding, ninja-like sidekick come as a package. Next up is the gentle giant known as Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio). After a night in a canyon, an Indian ambush seems inevitable, but instead the soft-spoken Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier) becomes the seventh member. The Magnificent 7 makes each introduction very unique and specific to the character. Each violent introduction gives the character personality without the need for much dialogue, and that is a strength of the movie. The first time...
‘Let Hope Rise’ offers closer look at Hillsong United

‘Let Hope Rise’ offers closer look at Hillsong United

Over 50 million people around the world sing Hillsong United songs on any given Sunday. The Australia-based Christian-band’s success is so far-reaching that director Michael John Warren decided to make a film documenting their popularity. Hillsong: Let Hope Rise provides an inside look at the band that sprung from the international megachurch Hillsong. The film’s narratives include interview segments from band members, their families and Hillsong pastors. Along with the documentary elements of the film, viewers are invited to join in on an interactive concert experience. Hillsong United came from humble beginnings but rose to international fame with hits like “Oceans” and “Touch the Sky.” Since the band’s formation, they have released 11 live albums and four studio albums. Let Hope Rise shows an overview of their earlier success, but mainly focuses on their mission, their members and their most recent tour. The film succeeds in keeping the audience’s attention throughout, and I appreciated the consistent positive message. Let Hope Rise is an inspirational documentary that is not only family-friendly, but it is also something someone of any age could find interest in. The live concert aspect of the documentary is a nice component that allows viewers to truly experience Hillsong United in the way their music is intended to be experienced. Near the beginning of the film, Joel Houston, a leading band member, stated that music is a way for people to experience God. He claimed that God made music as a connection between Heaven and the human heart. This theme carries on throughout the entirety of Let Hope Rise. The filmmakers and band members say they hope...
X’ s and O’s from a rookie quarterback coach: winning

X’ s and O’s from a rookie quarterback coach: winning

Well, holy cow. I write this as an assistant coach of a 3-1 team. We have won three games straight and look to continue that this week as we go into Ravenwood. It’s crazy to look back at that week one loss and look at where we are now. This past Friday we beat Brentwood 41-7, and our offense is finally gelling. People are buying into what we can do, and we are in great position going into our off week. We are winning. I was thinking about the word “win” the past few days, and what it means to “win.” Winning on the field is great, but when we only spend three hours during a game, how do we win the other 21 hours during the day, off the field? The unfortunate thing about life is that it is going to hand us losses like that week one loss against Centennial. You think you have everything figured out, and then, just like that, it’s gone. You can drive yourself crazy trying to figure out how or why it happened, but it did. But you know what? It’s okay to walk around and know that you lost. It really is. Sometimes a “win” doesn’t have to be some victorious ride in the sunset. Sometimes a win may not actually be a “win.” Many times a win is waking up in the morning and just doing your job. You don’t have to be okay with your circumstances, but as long as those circumstances don’t affect your day-to-day schedule, you’ve won. I know that I have not been okay with my...
‘Sully’ unveils the story behind the Hudson River 2009 plane crash

‘Sully’ unveils the story behind the Hudson River 2009 plane crash

Well known director Clint Eastwood displays a traumatic, touching, and at some times humorous true story about Chesley Sullenberger, the brave captain who landed a plane, carrying 155 passengers, on the Hudson River, in 2009. The film not only shows the media blitz and public spotlight projected on Sully, but also features the personal trauma and stress he is put through after the incident. Tom Hanks delivers another great performance as he displays the inside story the public never heard. As the aftermath of the accident unfolds, Captain Sully and co-pilot Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) remain in New York City to deal with legal issues and insurance investigations. With the world calling him a hero and the lawyers questioning his every move, Sully has to decide if he supports the decision he made after 208 seconds of crisis or believe the science that could end his career and shame his legacy. Through flashbacks and memories, the film shows the incident as it happens as well as the passengers’ stories. Nervous travelers may want to wait to see this film, but anyone else looking through movie showings should check out Sully, opening in theaters this Friday. Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers...
Christian-sports film ‘Greater’ tells walk-on’s inspiring true story

Christian-sports film ‘Greater’ tells walk-on’s inspiring true story

Brandon Burlsworth is hailed as the greatest walk-on in college football history. Burlsworth was also drafted by the Colts, has a trophy named after him that’s given to a player who started his football career as a walk-on and is responsible for the Brandon Burlsworth foundation, which helps underprivileged kids, both physically and spiritually. He’s also quite the virtuous, pious guy — not exactly fitting the Division 1 football player stereotype. Greater tells viewers this and more. Burlsworth started out his football career as an overweight middle schooler who was the only kid on the bench for his school team. However, his perseverance and dedication soon landed him a spot on his high school team, then a place as an Arkansas Razorback and eventually a spot in the NFL. Burlsworth’s incredible journey was cut short, however, as he died in a car accident just a few days after he was drafted by the Colts. The film is Christian-based, so it not only covers Burlsworth’s life, but it, of course, also delves into broader themes, namely the question, “Why does tragedy happen to a good person?” If you know Burlsworth’s story, the film carries no surprises; it’s main focus is the messages it shares. Chris Severio stars as Burlsworth; Neal McDonough (Arrow) plays his much older brother Marty and Leslie Easterbrook (Police Academy film series) plays Burlsworth’s mother Barb. It’s Serverio’s first feature film, and, while he is not the strongest actor of the leads and doesn’t necessarily look like a D1 football player, he holds his own and shows promise for the future. McDonough is the best actor of the group, portraying a much softer, vulnerable...