Cut the Chair: Kimberly Elise

An actress with a heart of wisdom, Kimberly Elise becomes a stronger actor with each role. Many audiences gained notice of her talent in the film, “Set it Off,” as T.T. who finds herself between a rock and a hard place over and over again. Her soft demeanor would change fiercely to protect her young child. Roles in “Beloved,” “The Manchurian Candidate,” and “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” also showcase her wide-eyed force onscreen.

Playing a mother in “John Q” saw Kimberly as a strong woman fighting to gain care for her dying son. Acting alongside Denzel Washington saw her shine to create a bold meet of acting chemistry.

As Sloane Hayes on “Hit the Floor,” Kimberly is confident and commanding while dodging drama and often in the thick of it. Her signature sees to play characters that capture the mind. The characters are full of emotions that the audience can relate to. Because of this, continuing to captivate the screen is this storyteller Kimberly Elise.

Cut the Chair: Tina Majorino

Quirky and intelligent, Tina Majorino is an actor of wit and presence. Her characters do not result to just the sidekick. The characters are intriguing, attributed by Tina’s talent.

Tina shows she is an actor of range, whether the character is plucky tech savvy Mac on the cult classic, “Veronica Mars”, Molly, a vampire on “True Blood” or Deb in the sensationally edgy “Napoleon Dynamite.” Her roles also include “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Big Love,” with two different characters that happened to both be named Heather.

Complimented to the screen is an storyteller of confidence and cool, Tina Majorino.

Cut the Chair: Kurtwood Smith

A multitude of characters from this actor has given him a rich career. His ability to be in many genres attests his talent. For one of the genres to be sci-fi, as seen in “The X-Files” and the original “Robocop,” is a rare yet might feat. Performances in “Dead Poet’s Society” and “24” example his attention to tell stories that form onscreen.

His hilarious performance as Red Foreman on the long-running sitcom, “That’s 70s Show” carried on the tradition of television fathers who are apart of the stitch in American television. Kurtwood played Red to show that deep, deep, deep down in his soul he loved his family and even Eric’s friends. If his only line on the series was “ass” it would be poetic and profound with a touch of perfection.

Kurtwood is on the drama “Resurrection,” captivating audiences as a father coping with the return of his young son. It is a departure but a raw character. Depth exudes for viewing delight from this storyteller, Kurtwood Smith.

Dntd Film Review: “Chef”

I laughed out loud, smiled and marveled at the succulent meats and dishes prepared in the film. I felt something I have not had in a long time while watching a film: pleasantly surprised.

“Chef” is about Carl Casper, a chef working at a swank restaurant who was in a creative rut. When Carl receives a bad review from a well-known food blogger, he decides to go off the grid and open a food truck much to previous resistance. The story focuses on Carl’s relationship with his son. Emjay Anthony, who played Percy, Carl’s son, was magic capturing his age but also keeping up with the big dogs. Sophia Vergara, who played Inez, Carl’s ex-wife, gave the best performance I have seen her in. She was delightful and humorous. The ensemble was superb. John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt and Robert Downey Jr. each played their supportive roles and each stood out.

I have an insatiable appetite to travel. While the film was set in Los Angeles, particularly in the neighborhood of Venice, I loved this film was across the country in Miami, New Orleans and Austin. Music Coordinator Matthieu Shreyer mixed a soundtrack for the film of soul, Cubano and old school that moved and complimented the story. The film also perfectly weaved a story of the good, bad and ugly of social media.

Everyone walked out of the theater asking each other their thoughts on “Chef” and it was unanimous: excellent. The film seemed to unite people for the common love of seeing a story unfold. That unity should also be had when being at the movies.

Cut the Chair: Lance Reddick

A deep pulsing stare exudes as a signature to his captivating performances. Lance Reddick continues to build a steady career with commanding roles. A staple in ensembles of television shows such as “Law & Order,” “Lost,” and “Fringe,” his multi-genre career attests to his brilliance as an actor.

As Cedric Daniels on “The Wire,” the character rose in the police rankings as Lance transformed the character. He grew stronger into developing his craft, rising to deliver scenes with depth and agility on the outstanding drama.

His talent appears on a slew of other TV shows, giving him a chameleon-like air to his acting. Lance Reddick is a definitive actor and a standout storyteller.

"The Case Against 8"

HBO Documentaries always bring humanity to audiences. The focus of the documentary, “The Case Against 8,” is on two couples Jeff & Paul and Sandy & Kris, who become the face of appealing the ruling of Proposition 8. The documentary spans the four years of the case from circuit courts in California to the Supreme Court. The film shows the pressure and fear of pursuing this case but is not emotionally overwhelming. I was invested in seeing the case form. I was intrigued by the bi-partisanship of Ted Olson and David Boies, both known for being on opposing sides as attorneys during the Bush v. Gore trial in 2000. Olson won the case for then President Bush. He also became known as one of the most powerful conservative attorneys in the country.

I recommend watching this documentary. Your heart will be full. Your eyes welled with tears. My favorite scene is when Elliot, Kris’ son, gets into the car from school and they are having a conversation and you could see that it was normal and far from the slaughter of hate for families with same-sex parents. “The Case Against 8” moves an inspiring hope for two couples who not only represent the LGBT community but the change of America.

Cut the Chair: Margo Martindale

The range of roles Margo Martindale has played is remarkable to both screens and stage. “The Firm,” “Days of Thunder,” “Dead Man Walking,” “New York Undercover,” “The Riches,” “Hung,” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” are not just a list of roles but, where more that came from, Margo’s transformative ability to captivate characters to life.

Her supporting roles often have a sweet and sensitive poignancy as shown as one of the titular characters in the television show, “The Millers,” Carole Miller. In addition, “Paris, je t’aime” and “August: Osage County” displayed characters with heart and connection to audiences. She has also balances roles in serious dramas as “Justified” and “The Americans,” the former she won an Emmy for.

With an over two decade career, to achieve the work Margo has is astounding. Her vigor and passion moves each scene she is in. The essence is always present from this storyteller, Margo Martindale.

Cut the Chair: Tim Dekay

Actors who steadily build a career are some of the most valued artists. Case in point: Tim Dekay. With a spectrum of film and television credits including “Party of Five,” “Carnivale,” “House,” “The Chumscrubber,” and the short-lived but alluring “Tell Me You Love Me,” he found a footing with a breakthrough role that is soon to conclude.

On “White Collar,” Tim plays FBI Agent Peter Burke. His performance makes Peter charming and pragmatic, complimenting his freakouts when trying to solve a case. Tim also applies a diligence to the character that appears smooth.

Along with his main character on “White Collar,” Tim guest starred on “Revenge.” He continued the tradition of sinister characters that pounced onscreen but in this case did not meet the famous Red Sharpie fate. Hopefully further departures into characters will illuminate the career of this storyteller, Tim Dekay.

Dntd Film Review: “Enough Said”

Light music. Laughter. Relatable moments of balancing life. This is before the credits show the film was written by Nicole Holofcener (“Friends With Money”)

Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a masseuse who heaves around a massage table to treat her clients who moan and groan about life. At a party Eva tags along as a third wheel with her friend-couple Sarah and Will (Toni Collette, Ben Falcone), she meets Albert (James Gandolfini), a humorous and gentle American television archivist who is as cynical about love as she is. When a twist occurs in their relationship, the story continues as realistically intriguing.

The film is excellent. The story blends well the tribulations of growing older. Eva and Albert both have daughters who are leaving for college. Each daughter has their own maturity level that reflects the parenting style of Eva and Albert, separately. There are intricacies and ends that tie the film delightfully. Particularly with Albert’s eating style (not liking onions in his guacamole, shaking the popcorn bucket so the butter seeps through).

Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini have chemistry that has not been seen in a long time, be it a romantic comedy or not. Most actors strive to depart themselves from their iconic roles. These actors did that with one role. For Albert to be one of James’ last roles, it is an achievement to his talent as an actor. The ensemble rounds out with Catherine Keener, Tavi Gevinson, Tracey Fairaway, who plays Eva’s daughter Ellen and Eve Hewson, who plays Albert’s daughter Tess.

The story moves quickly but efficiently. It is very enjoyable, breezy and a treat for film lovers.

Cut the Chair: David Straitharn

David Straitharn holds a serious face as a signature in his acting. Drama is the genre attested to David’s talent but he has action and comedy to his filmography. Roles in “Notorious Betty Page,” “We Are Marshall,” “The Bourne Ultimatum,” “Temple Grandin” and “The Bourne Legacy” are the varied seams that piece together his ability as a storyteller.

There was no black and white to David’s performance in “Good Night and Good Luck.” He was Edward R. Murrow without imitation. Performances are rarely thorough as the one David gave. David also plays characters that take command. “Godzilla” is one of the roles where, even with an ensemble, he was able to stand out as Admiral Stenz in charge of keeping people safe, as much as anyone could from a creature.

Distinguished actors are responsible for continuing the style of film that is entertaining and thought-provoking. David Straitharn accomplishes being a distinguished actor each time he sears the screen big or small.

Cut the Chair: Michelle Forbes

If eyes are the portal to the soul, Michelle Forbes, as her characters, has a soul of domineering fire. With supporting roles in television and film, she is never in someone’s shadow. Whoever Michelle is in a scene with, she stands toe to toe.

Many audiences were introduced to Michelle’s fire as Maryanne Forrester on “True Blood,” the manipulative and maniacal maenad and a central character for the show’s second season. Her blood boiling performance on “Chicago Fire” as Gail McLeod, a financial consultant hell bent on shutting down firehouses was clever and gasping and an attest to the show’s strong writing. Michelle has also had roles on “24” and “In Treatment,” two different television shows but connected by her ability to express art.

Michelle’s work leans to drama but as an actor she delivers character’s challenges and intricacies often with a smirk on her face, a seemingly signature to her performances. She will be in the last “Hunger Games” film, “Mockingjay Part 2” as Lieutenant Jackson. She also has a recurring role on “Orphan Black” as Marian Bowles. Michelle Forbes is a commanding actor with a commitment to storytelling and acting.

Dntd Film Review: “Belle”

Beautifully romantic and craftily written, “Belle” fulfills the insatiable appetite for those who love drama. Set in 1779, the film details the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsay, a mulatto child who grows up into wealth and fortune. When it is time for Belle and Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon), her cousin, to find suitors, issues of race, love and wealth come into centerfold.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw may be new to audiences but her performance as Belle shows otherwise. She was strong, sentimental and lovely as the title character. Emily Watson and Tom Wilkinson are captivating in each performance they give and this film is no exception. Lady Mary Murray (Penelope Wilton) provided the humorous moments of the film. Even in another century Tom Felton, as James Ashford, a potential husband for Elizabeth, still plays an asshole. James seemed born and bred to hate Negros and even more Belle as his brother, Lord Ashford (Alex Jennings) was set to marry her.

The film tells of a time of history and hatred toward the Negro, a word commonly a part of the film’s language, while not being overwhelming. The location of English countryside was gorgeous. Director Amma Assante gives exquisite details in each scene with the aristocracy and history.

This film is a crowd-pleaser and a must-see film for its ability to hold the mind with delivery of thought-provoking language. Oh, and the costumes are a treat for the eyes.

Dntd Film Review: “The Normal Heart”

This film is heartbreaking. There is despair and disbelief. The film is very dramatic. It took three times watching this film before I could absorb what was happening, how quickly time seeped away from those who had the AIDS virus but more for those who were fighting something they barely had questions for.

The ensemble is star studded but I was most profoundly in awe of the character Mickey (Joe Mantello). He delivered a monologue and it seemed as though he forgot to breathe through his streaming tears. He was furious about the people he loved and did not even know were dying from AIDS. Matt Bomer delved into his multi-dimensional character Felix Turner for a pure performance. Mark Ruffalo was stellar as Ned Weeks in his fight to get the virus known to the government and the gay community but also the selfish nature that kept him for achieving many of his goals. Jim Parsons as Tommy Boatwright was wonderful switching from sarcasm to drama. Julia Roberts, with her make-up free face and tight-haired bun, was ever the actress the screen knows of her. Alfred Molina, who played Ben, Ned’s older brother only had a few scenes but his presence was felt onscreen as Ned’s activism put a strain on their once tight relationship.

In many of the scenes, Director Ryan Murphy must have let the camera sit and just let the actors deliver. He played dear attention to details and let the film absorb the anger with the shift of celebration in the beginning of the film to the fear of the unknown. The writing not only told the fear amongst homosexuals but the even further hate and disgust from heterosexuals. Through a character named Ellie, the want to help and be an ally was portrayed.

HBO was the perfect network to play this film as they tell human stories. The film is graphic but with HBO the content felt like it was seen all the time. The play took thirty years to be adapted into a film but may have waited for this ensemble to tell this story. The play had a prolific conversation in the height of the AIDS epidemic. As AIDS is still being spread, the narrative continues through this adaptation.

Cut the Chair: Hayden Panettiere

Child stars often see their gleam fade in the transition of being an adult actor. Hayden Panettiere strays from that notion. As Sheryl Yoast in the classic sports film, “Remember The Titans,” Hayden was spunky and sassy, a young girl beyond her age. Several films including “A Bug’s Life” and “Dinosaur” continued her career as a child star. However with the TV show, “Heroes,” with Hayden playing indestructible cheerleader Claire Bennet, audiences saw a maturing actor who helped carry a story that grew an undeniable fan base. She played real life news topic Amanda Knox with bold dramatic expansion of not just Amanda but why the story was so captivating to the world.

Hayden plays with stunning passion Juliette Barnes on “Nashville.” Hayden switches emotions, even in one scene, to where the audience can cringe at her naughty and despicable nature then sympathize with her insecurities and pain. Her tears are purely from the heart to conjure engagement and awe.

Her star will continue to rise in her dedication to deliver heart-wrenching characters. Hayden Panettiere has a fire that establishes her presence as never slow to burn, only to strengthen her commitment to acting and storytelling.

Dntd Film Review: “X-Men: Days of Future Past”

Entertaining and thrilling but certainly not the best “X-Men” film. There was steady action throughout the film but for this to be the seventh film of the “X-Men” series, a part of the story was still explaining the rivalry and friendship of Professor X and Magneto. The film does employ the time of the ’70s through wardrobe and pop culture. There were eye-catching freeze frame action scenes that have a resemblance to “The Matrix.”

Peter Dinklage was good as Bolivar Trask, conniving and commanding in his quest to get his Sentinels to see the light of day. Although Jennifer Lawrence is in two film franchises, her acting wasn’t captivating for Mystique and also were her action scenes. Hugh Jackman is great as usual and cheeky in his humor and body. James McAvoy was convincing in his emotions to not have Raven and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) act out on their feelings. Michael Fassbender was good and embodied the role of a villain and protector. Halle Berry, Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart were hardly in the film but the story was more from the perspective of the past. The future came more from the war and the terrifying evolution of the Sentinels. Evan Peters as Quicksilver was probably the best part of the film as he was humorous and cool.

This movie can wait to be seen in theaters and you can even wait until DVD.