Thursday, November 26, 2015         

Features Stories

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser is looking for a few true unsung heroes. Help us shine a light on their good works. Heroes Next Door can be of any age, involved in any type of charitable project.

Boosted by its stellar cast and playful take on "A Christmas Carol," "The Night Before" is a coming-of-age stoner-buddy comedy laced with warm holiday cheer.

"Secret in Their Eyes" is a peculiar remake of an Argentine film that won the foreign film Oscar six years ago.

"The city flourishes when its great institutions work together," says the cardinal to the newspaper editor during a friendly chat in the rectory.

Grim, relentless and immensely satisfying, "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 2" sends out the dystopian sci-fi franchise on a feel-bad high.

Kids, it's time to help us trim our pages with your holiday creations. Design an ornament for our annual Keiki Kalikimaka contest and you'll have a chance at prizes of $100, $75 and $50 cash.

The holidays are so full of activities that the Today section will run an event guide to help readers make the most of the season.

To unlock the secrets of roasting a great bird, we culled advice from chefs and food experts. The basic recipe here starts the day before roasting, with an overnight salting of the bird.

What's a suffragette?" ask a whole lot of people younger than 40. That is reason enough for a film about women's struggle to win the right to vote in the early 20th century.

The star-studded home for the holidays Christmas movie has become as much a yearly tradition as caroling, hot cider and sledding in freshly packed snow.

There are three specific events at which a manly man is allowed to cry: the death of his mother, the birth of his daughter and a sports movie

The earnest post-Holocaust drama "Labyrinth of Lies" can be viewed as a sequel of sorts to "Judgment at Nuremberg," the much-decorated 1961 Stanley Kramer film about the Nuremberg trials of the 1940s, in which top-ranking Nazis were tried for crimes against humanity.

"Room" is both accomplishment and conundrum. The film's first half is so agonizingly difficult to sit through I desperately wished I were anywhere else, while its unexpectedly affecting second half so completely turned me around there was nowhere else I'd rather have been than right in the moment with this singular film.

Going into "The 33," we know a few things. We know it'll be tense, and largely subterranean. We know it's a bad-news/good-news story, in that order, about the 2010 mine explosion and cave-in stranding 33 workers for 69 excruciating days in the depths of a gold and copper mine in Chile's Atacama Desert.

The modern age of contemporary dating comes up hard against the age-old tradition of arranged marriages in "Meet the Patels," an often uproariously comedic and ultimately poignant documentary about one man's quest to meet The One.

“I remember looking out at these beautiful, amazing swells,” he said. “But there was a bit of a foul smell in the air, sort of like a dead fish. But because the waves were so good we were like ‘forget this dead fish smell, we’re going to go surf.’”

I never took a single ballet class as a girl, despite my whining, and while I got over that, I still can't ignore the allure of long, graceful muscles and good posture, which are the sweet promises behind barre workouts.

Here's a little secret about building furniture out of pallets, those simple wooden structures used to schlep goods: Not all pallet wood is cheap, rough-cut pine.

Female friendship fable "Miss You Already" presents itself as a sort of "Beaches" for the 21st century, announcing its tear-jerking intentions right there in the title.

Maybe the "Peanuts" gang didn't come to the big screen before because they've had so much success on the small one, with specials like "The Great Pumpkin" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas" that have been annual TV traditions since the 1960s.

Where to go when 53 years of action-scene set pieces have exhausted seemingly every exotic corner of the Earth? How much globe can a globe-trotter trot?

If you want to know just how big "Star Wars" was in 1977, consider the story of the empty toy box. That year, as the film marched into history, Kenner Products, a company that had been licensed to make "Star Wars" action figures, hit a roadblock.

We can't claim credit for the idea — we saw it on social media sites — but the image of a pineapple turned into a jack-o'-lantern screamed Halloween with local attitude.

Everything good about "Our Brand is Crisis" is contained in the opening moments, in which Sandra Bullock, playing a political consultant, is interviewed as if for a documentary.

If "Burnt," starring Bradley Cooper, feels slightly familiar, you might be remembering Cooper's short-lived turn in the TV series "Kitchen Confidential" about a decade or so ago.

The title of "Truth," a gripping, beautifully executed journalistic thriller about the events that ended Dan Rather's career as a CBS anchorman, should probably be appended with a question mark. More than most docudramas about fairly recent events, it is so well-written and acted that it conveys a convincing illusion of veracity.

Korean soprano Sumi Jo wowed her audience at the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra concert on Saturday, transforming a quietly polite audience into an enthusiastic crowd of fans, their cries of “Brava!” and “Encore!” echoing through the hall in an extended standing ovation.

The pigs were disappearing, and strange tracks had been found near all the pens at the farm. Ushida didn’t know what to make of it. Why hadn’t his dogs alerted him when a marauding animal came near the livestock?

Up the road from our house in Wahiawa, there used to live an old Portuguese woman. She never liked my sister Ashley or me. We always used to sneak into her yard to pick lychee off of her tree when the fruits were full and ripe.

Hana tenderly slid her new ginrin ogon koi from her black pail into her pond. Its golden metallic scales glittered in the morning sunlight. She sighed admiringly.

Sandbags remain stacked in front of the main entrance to The Actor’s Group’s theater, inside The Shops at Dole Cannery, a remnant of recent flooding. Inside, though, the newly renovated venue has been carefully transformed into the tidy Chicago apartment where the Younger family of “A Raisin in the Sun” faces the frustrations of their unfulfilled dreams.

Even if you're not a fan of the painter Georges Seurat or of Stephen Sondheim's music, you'll be delighted by the big, heartwarming production of "Sunday in the Park With George" currently playing at Kennedy Theatre.

Even if you're not a fan of the painter Georges Seurat or of Stephen Sondheim's music, you'll be delighted by the big, heartwarming production of "Sunday in the Park With George" currently playing at Kennedy Theatre.

Compelling subject. Fast-paced, exhilarating dialogue. Focused direction that maintains an almost ruthless pace. Acting that couldn't be more assured.

Bill Murray is always in his element when he plays fish-out-of-water characters ("Lost in Translation," "Stripes," just to name a few) and "Rock the Kasbah" provides him with another meaty misfit role.

"Coming Home" is awash in drenching rain and tears, the kind that slip down cheeks or come with heaving sobs. It reunites actress Gong Li and director Zhang Yimou in a story of family, memory, the toll of China's Cultural Revolution and love denied, delayed and delivered.

What to make of "The Last Witch Hunter"? It's too self-reflective to be an entertaining mess of unintentional hilarity, but none of the actual scripted punch lines land.

The beloved 1980s cartoon series "Jem and the Holograms" gets a millennial makeover in the live-action film of the same name.

Like many foreign movies that venture outside their home countries, "Goodnight Mommy" must live with an English title far inferior to its Austrian original, which literally translates as "I See, I See."

It’s that time of year again, when gaggles of little ghosts, goblins and ghouls expect sweet treats. But this year, consider ditching candy in favor of an easy treat you can cook up yourself. I’m talking about popcorn.

Silly, spooky monster mashup "Goosebumps" doesn't have to be as good as it is. Slyly smarter and more entertaining than it appears, this Halloween treat might be just as much fun for adults as for the kids who will undoubtedly gobble it up

Few actresses bring the simple authenticity to the screen that Julianne Moore does; it's virtually impossible to imagine this actress sounding a false note.

The most pressing threat in Guillermo del Toro's gothic horror "Crimson Peak" isn't the ooze-filled cauldrons of dead souls in the basement of the old Victorian mansion, nor the plotting, black-clad sister (Jessica Chastain) who serves a bitterly poisonous tea.

Watching a Steven Spielberg movie is like riding in the back of an old Town Car. There's plenty of room, the construction is solid, you know you're heading somewhere, and even if there are bumps, the ride is always smooth.

So many of us think we know poke. We know it involves raw fish, onions, seaweed, soy sauce, maybe some oils and chili peppers. We also know it can involve cooked shellfish, so we think we’re pretty smart.

The Peter Pan tale is an eternal favorite that infuses just a little bit of magic into everyday life, for those who don't want to grow up.

Moviegoers hankering for a female superhero film needn't wait for "Wonder Woman." A big-screen heroine of astounding power is swooping into theaters, caped in a hijab, a backpack full of books slung over her shoulder, a crooked smile the reminder of her fearlessness.

"Don't get emotional about real estate." That bit of wisdom -- among the mantras shared by a predatory broker named Rick Carver -- is both upheld and defied by "99 Homes," Ramin Bahrani's stunningly effective melodrama of flipped houses and mortgaged souls.

Gee, it's tough for straight women and men to lock lips and fates together on screen. One obvious problem is that virginity, marriage and children are no longer necessarily compulsory, which has complicated the happily-ever-after thing.

The decidedly retro World War II-era melodrama "Shanghai" is a throwback in every sense of the word. Not only is its aesthetic firmly placed in the 1940s, it almost feels like it could have been made in 1990s Hollywood, when "Greatest Generation"-type nostalgic films like "The Rocketeer" were made.

Plenty of directors make violent movies. Denis Villeneuve makes movies about violence, which is not quite the same thing.

A highly enjoyable, zestfully acted team-building exercise, with Matt Damon playing the team of one, director Ridley Scott's "The Martian" throws a series of life-or-death scenarios at its resourceful botanist-astronaut, stranded on Mars but making the most of it. It's one of the most comforting science fiction films in years.

It’s not often that a master’s thesis has the makings of a best-seller, but after Leanne Brown’s student project appeared on the social networking site Reddit, traffic to her own website jumped to 50,000 from 80 people per day.

Somehow, director Roland Emmerich has made a movie even less historically accurate than "10,000 BC," the one depicting Egyptian-style pyramids being constructed with the help of woolly mammoths.

It was a challenge to play Bobby Fischer in chess, and it's a challenge for an actor to play him on the screen. Anyone taking on the task needs to be careful not to get carried away with the man's eccentricities, to make sure to retain the pathos beneath the sideshow.

The world of Nancy Meyers sure is beautiful. But her studied production design and dreamy interiors have become such a focal point that they've almost eclipsed her storytelling.

There's an embarrassment of riches when it comes to movies for kids. This summer has seen the likes of the emotional "Inside Out" and the brilliant claymation film "Shaun the Sheep."

What's the point of watching horror movies? An often argued reason is catharsis. Horror movies have a unique way of dredging up cultural anxieties and playing them to their worst ends on screen, so when the lights come up, we can say, "it's only a movie," and dismiss those fears away.

Because I find myself with overripe bananas regularly, our family eats a lot of banana bread. The freezer also has become sort of a halfway house for wayward overripe bananas.

There's plenty of running in "Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials," as the movie's teen heroes, survivors of last year's surprise hit "The Maze Runner," hurtle from one spectacular crisis to another and another and ... If you can lose yourself in the eye-popping set pieces, and don't expect much in the way of character development (or dialogue), you may conclude that it's OK as a sci-fi action sequel.

"Everest" is not an easy movie to watch. No entertainment that contains such tragedy should be. The truly breathtaking spectacle and technical achievements can make you feel like you too are on a vertical slope at 29,000 feet.

David Oyelowo, the picture of principled honor as Dr. Martin Luther King in "Selma," delivers unmitigated evil as the murderer at the heart of "Captive."

In need of cash -- we'll get to why in a minute -- Elle Reid, a poet and sometime professor in her 70s, decides to sell some precious old books.

Johnny Depp chose a high degree of difficulty in the James "Whitey" Bulger biopic "Black Mass."

Despite a week of monsoon rains and a weather forecast that included thunderstorms, the skies cleared and the stars came out for the "Hawaii Five-0" Sunset on the Beach season six premiere Saturday.

It was a dark and stormy night. No, wait, that's what we've been having here in Honolulu for the past few days. The premiere of the sixth season of "Hawaii Five-0" merely looks that way, opening with a gloomy moon glowing over the ocean.

Spin your most haunting tale of horror and the supernatural in the Honolulu Star-dvertiser Today section's annual Halloween Fiction Contest. Entries are limited to 650 words and must be original work never before published.

Kuakini Auxiliary’s annual bazaar: 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Kuakini Health System’s Hale Pulama Mau Auditorium. Features clothing, jewelry, handmade crafts, household items, potted plants, baked goods, sushi, waffle dogs, andagi and more. Proceeds to benefit Kuakini Foundation. Call 547-9184.

It's an intimate but basic question. What size are his tighty whiteys? "I'm not sure," Dav Pilkey says. "Probably in the L category with a few X's in front."

Not all stories are created equal. Amazing true stories can be remarkable for their sheer wonder and seemingly unbelievable qualities -- but those details might not translate into an amazing movie

Among the charms of "Learning to Drive," a small, observant dual portrait of a New York book critic and her Indian-American driving instructor, are the detailed, lived-in performances of its stars, Patricia Clarkson and Ben Kingsley.

Somewhere between "Planet Earth" and a historical drama lies "Wolf Totem," a sweeping Chinese epic from French director Jean-Jacques Annaud.

The South Korean romantic drama "The Beauty Inside" has both an intriguing back story and a fantastical plot. Based on a series of early American shorts from 2012, in which a man goes to sleep and wakes up every day in a new body, it's an often charming, magical-realist illustration of the old maxim that beauty is only skin deep.

"Jimmy's Hall," Ken Loach's loving dramatization of the life and times of the Irish communist James "Jimmy" Gralton, begins with jumpy black-and-white archival footage of Depression-era New York. The buildings going up, the teeming crowds, the soup kitchen lines.

The Hollywood Reporter family get-together starts out strange and quickly enters nightmare territory in "The Visit," a horror-thriller that turns soiled adult diapers into a motif.

All fighting, all grimacing -- though sometimes all smiling, weeping and singing -- "Dragon Blade" is the kind of nutsy entertainment that isn't content merely to tap a handful of influences.

"Meru" will open your eyes, and more than once. Not just visually, as you might expect from a documentary on the obsessive quest to be the first to climb the most difficult peak in the Himalayas, but psychologically as well.

"The Transporter Refueled" is another "Who was asking for this, again?" reboot -- the original trilogy wasn't particularly well received and only made $238 million, total.

In Christian Petzold's new film, Phoenix is the name of a Berlin nightclub where Nelly Lenz goes searching for her husband, a piano player she calls Johnny.

On a sultry afternoon, in his basement office lair tucked beneath a sports car dealership and private jet showroom, Jackie Chan is flipping gleefully through photos on his MacBook. The martial arts master and multimillionaire is eager to show off not his latest stunts, exotic automobiles or private plane, but his prized stuffed animals.

Somewhere amid the chaos of wedding planning, a couple might find themselves imagining how much easier it would be to drop everything and head down to the courthouse to say "I do."

It really is time for all of us to get over our hesitation about turkey burgers. Though cooks get nervous about the patties coming up dry and flavorless, there really is no reason to worry.

Anne Marie Price taught herself mosaic art, creating intricate designs and portraits with cut pieces of stained glass. Recently she began balancing her usual large projects with smaller ones: She turns her mosaic touch to smooth stones that she picks up on beachcombing and mountain hikes near her Huntington Beach, Calif., home.

Ah, late August — that most beautiful time of the year for parents: School is back in session. Emphasis on the word "back."

"The task of understanding the past is never-ending," Susanna Moore observes late in "Paradise of the Pacific: Approaching Hawaii," her fascinating account of the "short 120 years from the arrival of Captain Cook in 1777 to the annexation of the Islands in 1898 by the United States."

Noah Baumbach's "Mistress America" advertises itself as a screwball comedy. But this smart, fast-paced film is not really the zany, lighter-than-air divertissement that the term usually conjures.

The plot in the South Korean martial-arts period piece "Memories of the Sword" may verge on the incomprehensible but, boy, is it gorgeous.

Even for freewheeling 1970s San Francisco, Minnie Goetze isn't your typical 15-year-old. An aspiring cartoonist, Minnie (the magnetic Bel Powley in what is rightly being lauded as the breakout performance of the year) roams the city with minimal supervision from her party-girl mother (Kristen Wiig), drinking, doing drugs and failing at school.

Part electronic dance music tutorial and part love letter to Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley, "We Are Your Friends" is a surprisingly accessible and sweet story of a group of friends standing on the cusp of adulthood with big ambition and little direction.

Long before Laverne Cox made the cover of Time magazine as a “transgender tipping point,” and long before Caitlyn Jenner made global headlines as a former Olympian transitioning from male to female at age 65, there was Candis Cayne.

A difficult-to-quantify but quite vocal group of people can't fathom how a woman could willingly go home with a man and then not engage in consensual sex with that man.

Wild weather has become more common with climate change, the experts say, and homeowners can prepare for natural disasters by making home inventories — detailed lists of household belongings and their approximate value.

The idea of the high-tech, emotionless super-soldier is so popular in movies, it's practically a convention. The "Terminator" and "Bourne" franchises, and even last year's animated "Big Hero 6," imagine characters programmed to kill and the would-be world destroyers who want to control them.

Horror sequel "Sinister 2" is a very strange movie. Of course, it's a horror film, so strange, ghostly and sinister events are expected. Yet this is a horror film that doesn't quite know what it is.

"There's an unhappy paradox about literary biographies," David Foster Wallace observed in the New York Times Book Review in 2004, in reference to "Borges: A Life."

The likably awkward chemistry of Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg remains intact in “American Ultra,” a violent stoner action-comedy that’s half “Pineapple Express,” half “The Bourne Identity,” and not as good as either.

Usually, there are two big problems with stuffed peppers: the peppers and the stuffing. Bland, bland, bland.

Samuel Kim’s mother often spiked the family’s white rice with amaranth, barley, quinoa and other whole grains to boost its nutritional value.

Though some might find it hard to conceptualize “Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet” as a cartoon, animation turns out to be a nifty way to visualize this collection of world-famous poems about spiritual enlightenment.

The shotgun blast of fury that first emanated from South Central Los Angeles in 1988 still packs a punch.

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