Wednesday, May 27, 2015         

Features Stories

Most people reach for prepared salad dressings because on busy weeknights they just can't handle the thought of whipping up one more thing. Because after cooking a main course and some sides and tossing together a salad, who has the time and energy to make a dressing?

Veterinarians are beginning to preach the gospel of gardening — primarily how organic fruits and vegetables can be used to improve the health of family pets. Everything from carrots to leafy vegetables and fruit can be added to the cat or dog dish. That saves money on pet food, too.

Keali‘i Reichel won in five categories, including Favorite Entertainer, Popular Hawaiian Album, Male Vocalist of the Year and Album of the Year.

Why is the allure of the bad boy so powerful that even some of the most secure of females can’t seem to resist? Apparently, it has ever been, as we see in the film adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s prescient novel “Far from the Madding Crowd.”

In the mid-1960s, Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp were working low-level jobs at the Shepperton film studios outside London. Infected by the restlessness of the times and by their own youthful ambition, they came up with an inspired idea for a movie.

Tomorrowland” is Brad Bird’s jeremiad against the dystopia that is modern culture, with its yen for zombie apocalypses, environmental catastrophes and the 24 hours of fear telecast by cable news.

It’s infrequent and particularly satisfying when the remake of an especially memorable film equals or exceeds the experience of the original.

Kokedama is sometimes called "poor man's bonsai," and the two do share some features: They're both small displays of plants and moss. But "lazy person's bonsai" might be a better description.

The movie of the summer thunders in on 22 armor-spiked wheels, because an 18-wheeler just wouldn't do on "Fury Road."

It is best to just let yourself get lost in the "Clouds of Sils Maria" for a little while. Beautiful as they build then snake through the Engadin Valley in the Swiss Alps, they become maddening as they cloak the emotions and ambitions of a middle-aged actress and a rising young star.

"Where Hope Grows" is a sometimes moving and generally watchable melodrama about a drunken ex-ballplayer who finds purpose and a friend back in his hometown.

There's nothing like a cappella, especially when accompanied by musical instruments. That's the case in "Pitch Perfect 2," and although that makes the a cappella not exactly authentic, the movie compensates with a fullness of sound as well as spirit, plus an off-kilter sense of humor that keeps the laughs coming. As of today, this is the most delightful movie out there.

When a request came in for a recipe for a pumpkin crunch dessert, I thought, “Finally, an easy one.” Even after I got to the caveat — a pumpkin crunch that does not use a boxed cake mix, please — I thought, “How hard could that be?”

The problem with "The D Train" isn't the performances. Jack Black, James Marsden, Kathryn Hahn and Jeffrey Tambor are wonderful in their respective roles.

Except for one family member, the Carbones, a clan of goat-herding gangsters in Francesco Munzi's film "Black Souls," belong to the 'Ndrangheta, Calabria's mafia, based in the rocky climes of southern Italy.

With 130 million albums sold, the Backstreet Boys are the best-selling boy band in history — not counting the Beatles, of course. But as member AJ McLean wonders, "What do you do when you're a full-grown man in a boy band?"

"The Salt of the Earth," Wim Wenders' new documentary about the life and work of the Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado, elegantly inhabits a moral and aesthetic paradox.

Our post-"Bridesmaids" love affair with Kristen Wiig has been tested a few times in the choices she's made since, but never more so than with "Welcome to Me."

"Hot Pursuit" has all the trappings of a buddy comedy except that whole comedy part. The pairing of Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara, like the recent Will Ferrell-Kevin Hart comedy "Get Hard," is predicated on the distance between the two in height and culture.

An elegant and captivating piece of corporate promotion in the guise of a documentary, Frederic Tcheng's "Dior and I" unfolds like an episode of "Project Runway" with better clothes and bigger budgets, or perhaps a Christopher Guest movie without a sense of humor.

It would be silly to pretend that "Avengers: Age of Ultron" isn't good at what it does, that it's not proficient at delivering superhero thrills for those who crave them most.

I’ll be back,” the line Arnold Schwarzenegger first uttered more than 30 years ago in that indelible manly monotone, belongs to the Terminator, of course. But it also might as well be the official slogan of the summer movie season.

Here are this summer's biggest movies, plus a few limited releases that may break through the noise. (Note: These are national release dates; Hawaii release dates may vary.)

The movie site Fandango recently checked in with its massive audience base to see what the summer's most anticipated film might be. It probably won't be a surprise that the winner was "Avengers: Age of Ultron," coming to thousands of theaters this week.

The official state china of President Barack Obama's administration is a modern-inspired service trimmed in a blue that recalls the waters of his native state of Hawaii.

Although she works in one of the most popular vacation spots on the planet, "Hawaii Five-0" star Grace Park sees Hawaii as less of a paradise and just the place where she works through numerous pages of the script — often loaded with big stunts and special effects — before the sun goes down.

Faith-based films have had an uneven record at the box office. The latest movie attempting to tap this market, "Little Boy," is an often appealing, sometimes cloying nostalgic drama set during World War II.

The century-old open wound of Gallipoli, Australia's ill-fated entry into World War I, makes a vivid and grim backdrop for Russell Crowe's "The Water Diviner," a sensitive and sentimental story about a grieving father looking for the bodies of the three sons he lost there.

The two main characters in Dave Boyle's labyrinthine neo-noir, "Man From Reno," make an oddball pair of sleuths. Aki Akahori (Ayako Fujitani) is a renowned Japanese mystery writer, hiding out from the paparazzi in San Francisco.

Donnie Yen has been a star for more than 20 years, but he was never a superstar — until "Ip Man" in 2008 made him the top action star in Asia — and, at 51, he still is.

Hollywood long ago ceded "love that stands the test of time" to the realm of science fiction and fantasy, so "The Age of Adaline" falls neatly into a genre that includes "The Time Traveler's Wife," "About Time," and even "Somewhere in Time."

The perfect 21st-century female looks like a million bucks but costs a great deal more. In "Ex Machina," Alex Garland's slyly spooky futuristic shocker about old and new desires, the female in question is a robot called Ava, a name suggestive of both Adam and Eve.

The best-selling novel "Child 44," by Tom Rob Smith, runs well over 400 pages, and that's perhaps the first hint as to why the movie based on it seems to veer in 40 different directions.

Not since "The Blair Witch Project" in 1999 has a horror film taken such a creative approach to conjure scares as "Unfriended." It's a cautionary tale of a group of friends who become the target of an unseen cyber-entity starving for revenge.

Michael Finkel's journalism career, torpedoed by a partly fabricated story, had just bottomed out when a phone call came asking why a man accused of murdering his wife and three children in Oregon was identifying himself "Mike Finkel, New York Times."

"Monkey Kingdom," Disneynature's latest Earth Day offering, is an intriguing peek inside the social structure of macaque monkey society in Sri Lanka.

Jack White looked like he could use a break. Throughout his Wednesday night show in Honolulu, though he occasionally cracked a smile and appeared completely absorbed in his music and bandleading, he also seemed to have a hellhound on his trail — some anxious thought pushing him to put his Honolulu show together in an antic, unpredictable, partially improvised fashion.

It may be the most scrutinized typographical matter in music: how large each act's name appears on the poster announcing the lineup for the annual Coa­chella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

In 2001, a stranger-than-fiction "true story" emerged in local papers about a 28-year-old Japanese woman who flew from Japan to Minnesota and bussed to North Dakota to search for the buried money from Joel and Ethan Coen's 1996 film "Fargo."

Sharp, funny and dead-on accurate about the way we live now, "While We're Young" is not a film about eternal youth but, rather, about coming to terms with growing older.

From Don Draper's Old Fashioneds to Roger Sterling's smuggled-in Stoli, cocktails have played a deliciously major role on AMC's "Mad Men." But was it really that great an era to drink?

She just turned 21. So perhaps the cruel truth can be at last be said about Dakota Fanning without fear of being called a child abuser.

Don’t underestimate Robert Kenner’s “Merchants of Doubt.” It may sound like a standard-issue advocacy documentary concerned, as so many are, with the perils of global warming, but it’s a lot more than that.

Fast-moving fight scenes, outrageous auto antics and a sprinkling of ridiculous one-liners make "Furious 7" a campy, crowd-pleasing escape.

The 11th-annual Kawaii Kon animation convention wrapped up its three-day run on Sunday night at the Hawaii Convention Center.

Home" is an energetic, obvious animated comedy packed with the sort of low humor and silly laughs that drive very small children wild.

"Get Hard," the prepping-for-prison would-be comedy from Will Ferrell and comedian-of-the-moment Kevin Hart, is about as funny as life imprisonment without the possibility of parole — or laughter.

The nameless, shape-shifting horror that stalks the blond, 19-year-old Jay (Maika Monroe) in David Robert Mitchell's cool, controlled horror film, "It Follows," might be described as the very incarnation of paranoia.

The zombie movie “Dead Rising: Watchtower” might hold rewards for people who have spent hours immersed in the video game series on which it’s based. Judged as a free-standing film, though, it’s a time waster devoid of the wit and depth of other walking-dead fare currently available — see, for instance, the new CW series “iZombie.”

As high-spirited as its title suggests, "Wild Tales" opens on a savage note and ends, well, that's for you to find out. In between its shocker start and equally startling windup, this Argentine anthology offers up a scabrous, often unsettlingly funny look at human behavior in extremis.

At one point in "The Gunman," the new Sean Penn geopolitical thriller, our star goes surfing. It's supposed to show he has a reckless side, since he's surfing in unsafe territory, but it seems to have a larger, much more obvious purpose: To show us that Penn, at 54, is ripped.

The intriguingly unorthodox, foreign-language Oscar nominee "Timbuktu" is a provocative, sometimes satiric drama about the sort of Islamic extremists who make life, especially in the outer reaches, so treacherous these days.

"Insurgent" doesn't seriously diverge from the "Divergent/Hunger Games/Maze Runner" formula until its final act. Up until then, this "Divergent" sequel is Young Adults Save the World generic.

Jack O'Connell seems to love playing guys who get the snot kicked out of them.

Generally, the purpose of a faith-based film is to reach out to those looking for spiritual guidance. "Do You Believe?," the latest movie from the company that produced "God Is Not Dead" last year, takes a different approach, targeting those whose faith is more an act of deceleration than dedication.

It's possible to tell a sci-fi story about the coming age of sentient machines without a "Chappie"-size budget, or turning "Chappie" insipid.

Run All Night” is a first-person shooter thriller for the Grecian Formula generation. Old men — cops and mobsters — sit in bars, drink their Scotch on the rocks and talk about the “old neighborhood,” their long history and the blood they’ve spilled.

In this age of revisionist, modernized Disney fairy tales, where we've learned that some of our favorite characters really aren't what they seemed, the striking thing about the studio's sumptuous new live-action "Cinderella" may not be what it is, but what it isn't.

Gabe Polsky, director of the documentary "Red Army," likes to say that his film is a hockey movie for people who don't care about hockey, and its reception has proved him right.

If you're going to do a movie sequel that doesn't quite measure up to the original and seems rather hurriedly cobbled together, well, OK. Many filmmakers have done the same.

"This is the not-so-true story of four vampires, picked to live in a house, work together, and have their lives taped. Find out what happens when bloodsuckers stop being polite and start getting real. ‘The Real World'!"

In the years since he strutted onto the scene — lean, handsome, mouth running a mile a minute — in Doug Liman's "Swingers" (1996), Vince Vaughn has become one of the poster boys for the mainstream American comedy: from romantic ("The Break-Up") to bromantic ("Old School"), pretty good ("Wedding Crashers") to very bad ("Fred Claus") to frankly unnecessary ("Delivery Man").

Wrongheaded in conception, eye-rolling in execution, "Chappie" is a childish blend of the cute robot goofiness of "Short Circuit" and the bloody-minded mayhem of "RoboCop." It never finds its sweet spot and never, for one moment, works.

If the mark of a good con artist is that he or she makes you think you know exactly what's going on — when of course you haven't a clue — that's also the mark of a good con-artist movie, isn't it?

As its imposing title suggests, the Russian drama "Leviathan" is something of a monster movie. It turns on a modern-day Job who endures trials and tribulations in an Arctic town in northern Russia.

"The Lazarus Effect" is not the usual mindless thriller, but it's as flat as an open soda can from last week, with dull characters and virtually every scene taking place in a single location. It looks like it cost about twelve bucks to make — and somebody got robbed.

High collars replaced sexy cutouts, and Classic Hollywood in blacks and whites took hold of the Oscars red carpet Sunday night with help from a smoking Saint Laurent worn by Margot Robbie and a heavily pearled look for fashion It girl Lupita Nyong'o.

Much of the chatter going into the Oscars was about the lack of diversity in the Academy's choices, specifically the dearth of nominations for "Selma."

The Edmund Pettus Bridge stood center stage in both the performance and acceptance speeches by John Legend and Common for their Oscar-winning song "Glory" from the film "Selma".

The Edward Snowden documentary "Citizenfour" has won the Oscar for best documentary. Laura Poitras' film documents her initial meeting in Hong Kong with Snowden, as well as journalist Glenn Greenwald.

"Big Hero 6" has won the Academy Award for best animated feature. The Disney film — based on a Marvel comic about a team of superheroes — tells the story of a tech nerd named Hiro and a lovable roly-poly robot, Baymax.

Patricia Arquette advocated for wage equality after accepting the Oscar for best supporting actress in "Boyhood" during an emotional outburst at the end of her carefully scripted speech Sunday.

J.K. Simmons has won the Academy Award for best supporting actor for "Whiplash." Simmons plays a cruel jazz band instructor who berates and humiliates his students, including Miles Teller, who co-stars as an aspiring jazz drummer in Damien Chazelle's film.

The black-and-white Polish film "Ida" has won the Academy Award for best foreign language film. The win marks the first foreign language Oscar for Poland despite nine previous nominations and a rich history of filmmaking.

The princess laughs and floats in sumi-e-brush sketches of faint pastel, a lush landscape that animated film director Isao Takahata has painstakingly depicted to relay his gentle message of faith in this world.

John Cusack has been reduced to Z-grade action comedies, shot in Australia and co-starring Thomas Jane, at this stage of his career. And he STILL turned down the payday that "Hot Tub Time Machine 2" promised, which tells you all you need to know about this half-baked sequel.

Mae Whitman sasses, sashays and sparkles in "The DUFF," a snappy, sweet-spirited teen comedy about a smart girl who tries to fight high school labeling with wit and words. And the occasional punch.

"McFarland, USA" could so easily have been yet another mushy, feel-good, by-the-numbers sports underdog movie. And in beginning, it seems like it's heading there.

It was a year ago that Lupita Nyong'o, shortly before winning the Academy Award for best supporting actress in "12 Years a Slave," gave a speech about what she called "dark beauty."

Three days into New York Fashion Week, and it was starting to feel as if we had taken a wrong turn on the way to the catwalks and ended up on the basketball court at Madison Square Garden instead.

And so, the GoPro camera Abraham Williams set up to document the moment he proposed to Tulsi Gabbard had sputtered. Timing and GoPro glitch aside, Gabbard still described the occasion as "a perfect, magical moment."

Curious? The posters for "Fifty Shades of Grey" coyly ask. Whether or not you're one of the 100 million who bought, and presumably read, E L James' kinky book, the buzz surrounding this "Twilight"-fan-fiction-turned-international-pheno­­menon is enough to pique the interest of a rock.

A woman losing her mind is a terrible thing to watch, but the splendid acting in "Still Alice" makes it worth the pain. Scarier than any Elm Street nightmare, a horror film for the rest of us, it succeeds despite itself — not because of one strong performance but two.

The faith-based romance "Old Fashioned" is a slow, preachy romantic comedy opening Valentine's Day week opposite "Fifty Shades of Grey," counter-programming "love" that's kinky with love from Corinthians.

The opening of Metropolitan Opera's new production of Tchaikovsky's "Iolanta" — receiving its first performance at the house — and Bartok's "Bluebeard's Castle," was delayed a few days due to a blizzard warning — it opened on Jan. 29.

Kingsman: The Secret Service" makes up its own rules as it goes along. It asks to be taken seriously, then turns ridiculous, then brings out the horn section to indicate the hope for triumph of good, then shows people's heads exploding in a CGI sequence intended to be funny.

Sam Smith's soulful sound and heartbreaking songs resonated with fans -- and his breakthrough was solidified when he took home three of the top four Grammy Awards on Sunday, though Beck earned a surprise win for album of the year.

Kanye West almost pulled another Kanye at the Grammy Awards. West briefly popped up on stage as Beck accepted the album of the year award on Sunday for "Morning Phase," beating out expected victor Beyonc?.

The woman who spoke movingly from the Grammy stage about her experiences with domestic violence says the segment was inspired by a visit to the White House by Grammy show producer Ken Ehrlich.

Sam Smith's songs have brought fans to tears, but he was choked up when he earned his first Grammy Award for best new artist. "Oh my gosh. I have to try to stay something without crying," the singer said onstage.

Record of the Year: "Stay With Me (Darkchild Version)," Sam Smith; Album of the Year: "Morning Phase," Beck; Song of the Year: James Napier, William Phillips and Sam Smith, "Stay With Me (Darkchild Version)," Sam Smith; New Artist: Sam Smith

Are video games good for you? New research suggests the answer is yes • Designing a Tween bedroom is a balancing act

SpongeBob SquarePants goes where Homer Simpson and others have gone before, an animated character who steps out of his colorful 2-D world and into our 3-D one, in "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water."

There's a fine line between charm and cheese in fantasy epics, and movies as silly and overwrought as "Seventh Son" only help to illustrate just how hard it is to hit the right tone when balancing action, romance, (attempted) wit, and the creation of the world.

There's a painstaking perfectionism in the stunning landscapes of England's J.M.W. Turner, and in "Mr. Turner," England's greatest filmmaker in the field of grumpy eccentrics, Mike Leigh, gives us a portrait of the artist as a misanthropic genius.

The world of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne — a zone of factories, housing projects and modest suburban developments in and around the industrial Belgian cities of Seraing and Liege — is no place for a movie star.

Within the warped wardrobe of the Wachowskis’ latest sci-fi extravaganza, “Jupiter Ascending,” there are some fantastical feasts of intergalactic ridiculousness. Channing Tatum as a combination elf and speedskater.

Dusk masked the approaching waves at Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu as they climbed to 15 feet before pounding the shallow, jagged reef below. Adrift in the rapid current and foamy sea was a photographer, exhausted from battling the relentless waves and fighting for his life.

Super plays keep kids in their zone • Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl • Hear Katy ‘Roar' • Shirtless ­fans? Bingo! • The icing on the football • Calling all cheerleaders and more

"Black or White" may be the title, but there are plenty of gray areas tackled in this good ol' fashioned family dramedy from standup comic turned filmmaker Mike Binder ("Reign Over Me," "The Upside of Anger").


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