The Sporting Life
Cirque Musica, Shaft and Men in Black: International Edition

Three generations of John Shaft are played by (l-r) Jessie T Usher, Samuel L Jackson, and Richard Roundtree.

Get out to a theatre near you for a pair of action comedy flicks opening for fun on Father’s Day weekend, or take dad to see your favorite heroes (and villains) live. Shaft has a direct appeal to Black fathers featuring three generations of bad (in the best way!) cats named John Shaft and Men in Black: International continues the lineage of the fun franchise about Earth’s coolest alien wranglers. Cirque Musica is a one-of-a-kind visual and musical spectacle with well-known music from your favorite superhero films.

Shaft is an action comedy film directed by Tim Story and written by Kenya Barris and Alex Barnow, starring Samuel L. Jackson, Jessie T. Usher, and Richard Roundtree. It is the fifth film in the Shaft film series and a sequel to the 2000 film with the same title. Unlike its predecessor, which was distributed by Paramount Pictures, this film will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, which owns the first three features and the TV series due to its acquisition of the pre-1986 MGM library when it purchased by Turner Entertainment in 1996. The film is being released theatrically in the United States on June 14 by Warner Bros. Pictures, and in international markets on June 28 by Netflix.

In the new film, John “JJ” Shaft Jr. (Jessie Usher) is an FBI analyst and a cybersecurity expert with a degree from MIT. After his best friend dies under suspicious circumstances, he turns to his estranged father – the legendary John Shaft II (Samuel L. Jackson) – to uncover the truth. Father and son must navigate the Harlem underworld to solve the crime. Along the way they team up with the first generation John Shaft (Richard Roundtree). Other cast members include Alexandra Shipp as Sasha Arias, Regina Hall as Maya Babanikos (Shaft II’s ex-wife and JJ’s mother), Avan Jogia as Karin Hassan,

Method Man as Freddie P, Matt Lauria as Major Gary Cutworth, Robbie Jones as Sergeant Keith Williams, and Lauren Vélez as Bennie Rodriguez.

The 105 minute film cost $30 million and is Rated R for pervasive language, violence, sexual content, some drug material and brief nudity. The language and sexual innuendo definitely earn the R rating, more so than the violence, and this is a movie only for older teens and adults. Much has ben made about the music not having enough Isaac Hayes, but that is rubbish. There is plenty of Issac Hayes compositional material throughout the film, even with a whole lot of R&B and hip hop, too. Yes, they do use the iconic classic Theme from Shaft, appropriately.

Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth in Men in Black International.

Men in Black: International (MIB: International) is a hilarious science fiction comedy film directed by F. Gary Gray and written by Art Marcum and Matt Holloway. The film is a sequel/spin-off from the Men in Black film series, which is loosely based on the Malibu/Marvel comics of the same name by Lowell Cunningham. The film stars Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Rebecca Ferguson, Kumail Nanjiani, Rafe Spall, Liam Neeson and the Les Twins (in their debut acting roles), along with Emma Thompson reprising her role from Men in Black 3 and Tim Blaney reprising his role as Frank the Pug from the first two films. It is being released in the United States by Sony Pictures on June 14, with advance showings on Thursday, June 13 everywhere.

The Men in Black have always protected the Earth from the scum of the universe. In this new adventure, they tackle their biggest, most global threat to date: a mole in the Men in Black organization. After the events of Men in Black 3, London has a branch of Men in Black (MIB). After finding the MIB base, a woman (Tessa Thompson) joins them. The head of the branch, High T (Liam Neeson), pairs her up with Agent H (Chris Hemsworth). These two secret agents become involved in a series of alien attacks that sends them traveling around the globe.

The cast includes Chris Hemsworth who is hilarious as Agent H, a top agent in MIB’s UK branch; Tessa Thompson is tremendous as Agent M, a new MIB volunteer probationary agent assigned to the UK branch, with a history of an alien encounter; Liam Neeson is fierce as High T, the head of MIB’s UK branch; Rebecca Ferguson is stunning as Riza, a beautiful deadly alien weapons dealer; Kumail Nanjiani is the voice of Pawny, an amusing alien that Agent H and Agent M befriend; Rafe Spall is one to watch as Agent C, an MIB agent suspicious of Agent H’s past; Les Twins (Laurent and Larry Bourgeois) as The Twins, a shape-shifting alien duo appearing as two black men seeking a dangerous artifact; Emma Thompson is stylish and hardcore as Agent O, the head of MIB’s US branch; and Tim Blaney is the voice of fan-favorite Frank the Pug.

With music by Danny Elfman and Chris Bacon, the 120 minute Columbia Pictures film cost $110 million and is Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action, some language and suggestive material. This is a film I would definitely recommend for the whole family. The contributions of executive producers Stephen Spielberg and Barry Sonnenfeld are welcome and add to the fun vibe of the film.

See Lyra perform with Cirque Musica Saturday at Ascend Amphitheatre.

Enjoy an evening under the stars with Cirque Musica: Heroes & Villains with the Nashville Symphony at Ascend Amphitheater Saturday, June 15, at 7:30 PM, featuring a spellbinding display of cirque performers, including aerialists, strong men, balancers, and more. Arrive early for a photo opportunity with superheroes in costume. Enrico Lopez-Yañez, conducts the symphony, featuring themes from: The Avengers, Superman, The Dark Knight, Captain America, Star Wars, Spider-Man, and more, plus Classical Favorites like Holst’s’ The Planets, Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra (Theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey), and more.

Here’s the complete program of music you can enoy at Cirque Musica: Heroes & Villains:
Strauss – Also Sprach Zarathustra (Theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey)
John Williams – Superman March
Danny Elfman – Theme from Spider-Man
Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard – Theme from The Dark Knight
Alan Silvestri – Theme from The Avengers
Alan Silvestri – Theme from Captain America
Christophe Beck – Theme from Ant Man
Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard – The Dark Knight, Concert Suite
John Williams – Devil’s Dance from The Witches of Eastwick
Mussorgsky – Night on Bald Mountain
John Williams – Main Title from Star Wars
John Williams – Imperial March from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
John Williams – Duel of the Fates from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
Saint-Saëns – Danse macabre
Holst – Excerpts from The Planets
John Williams – The Throne Room from Star Wars

See you there!

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