David Oyelowo

Film Review: Queen of Katwe

by Carrie Kahn on September 23, 2016

Nair brings inspirational chess prodigy story to life in appealing new film  

Robert Katende (David Oyelowo) imparts chess – and life – wisdom to young Phiona (Madina Nalwanga).

The phrase “heartwarming family film” has been overused so much that it’s become a meaningless cliché, but when is the last time you saw a live action picture that legitimately fit that description? A few Pixar movies aside, the cinematic offerings that truly appeal to parents and kids alike have been pretty paltry lately. Disney competently rectifies that situation today with Queen of Katwe, a well made, well acted, inspirational-without-being-cloying film that tells the true story of a poor girl from the poverty-stricken town of Katwe, Uganda, who becomes a national and international chess champion.
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Spinning Platters continues its preview coverage of the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival, which opens tomorrow, Thursday, April 21st. Information and tickets are available here.

To whet your Fest appetite, here we spotlight two of the Festival’s features and two documentaries.

Five Nights in Maine
(USA, 2015, 82 min, Marquee Presentations)

Sherwin (David Oyelowo) and his mother-in-law Lucinda (Dianne Wiest) share a moment at her Maine house.

When an adult dies unexpectedly, whose grief is greater – the surviving spouse, or the surviving parent? Are such comparisons even fair? Such are the heady questions that writer/director Maris Curran explores here, in a picture thematically similar to the recently released Demolition. After his wife Fiona (Hani Furstenberg) dies suddenly in a car crash, city-dweller Sherwin (David Oyelowo) visits Fiona’s terminally ill mother Lucinda (Dianne Wiest) at her isolated house in rural Maine. Though both try to maintain a polite façade with each other as they process their loss, issues of blame, recrimination, and bitterness slowly rise to the surface, forcing the two to confront past and present emotional wounds. A pas de deux between two of today’s best actors set against a stunning backdrop of fall light and foliage, Curran’s film is a flawlessly executed meditation on how we deal with life, loss, and love.


  • Saturday, April 23rd – 5:00pm, Alamo Drafthouse
  • Monday, April 25th – 1:00pm, Alamo Drafthouse
  • Tuesday, April 26th – 8:45pm, Alamo Drafthouse

Tickets for Five Nights in Maine available here.

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Top-notch thriller explores the underside of the American dream

Oscar Isaac’s Abel and Jessica Chastain’s Anna discuss their business problems.

Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac were overlooked during yesterday’s Oscar nominations, which is a bit disheartening, since they both give tremendous performances in writer/director J.C. Chandor’s newest film, A Most Violent Year (which opened in New York and L.A. in December, making it eligible for this year’s Oscars). Chandor, whose previous pictures include the pulse-quickening, terrific Margin Call and last year’s lost-at-sea thriller All is Lost, is a master at pulling his audience into a visceral time and place, and his skill remains exceptionally sharp, as evidenced here in his latest film.

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Spinning Platters film critics present their top 10 films of 2014

Spinning Platters film critics Carrie Kahn and Chad Liffmann each share their ten favorite films of 2014. Here is Carrie’s list, presented in alphabetical order. And you can see Chad’s list here.

1.) Boyhood

Patricia Arquette and Ellar Coltrane are outstanding as a mother and son who grow and change together.

Filmed intermittently over 12 years, Richard Linklater’s film chronicling a boy named Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from ages six to 18 in real time is both a technical marvel and a cinematic masterpiece. There has been nothing like it before on screen, and there will no doubt be nothing like it again. Utterly unique in scope and vision, the film lets us watch a life develop in front of our very eyes, with all of its attendant hopes, dreams, achievements, and disappointments. Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke play Mason’s parents, changing and growing right alongside him and his older sister (Lorelei Linklater). An absolutely dazzling achievement that will leave you breathless and awed, Linklater’s picture is sure to be the one to beat for Best Picture come Oscar time. (You can also read Gordon’s full-length review here).

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Zac Efron, Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman, and David Oyelowo in THE PAPERBOY

starring: Zac Efron, Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman, John Cusack, David Oyelowo, Macy Gray

written by: Lee Daniels and Pete Dexter

directed by: Lee Daniels

MPAA: Rated R for strong sexual content, violence and language

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