By Robin E. Simmons


The packed audience I saw this with loved this comedy. Big, long, loud belly laughs came in waves from beginning to end. What a great team Melissa McCarthy and writer-director Paul Feig are! The conceit has Susan Cooper (McCarthy), an apparently ordinary CIA analyst stuck behind a desk -– but in reality, she’s the unacknowledged hero behind some of the spy agency’s most treacherous missions. When her partner Jude Law falls off the grid and another top agent (Jason Statham) is compromised, Cooper volunteers to go undercover in an attempt to befriend a ruthless international arms dealer, and save the world from destruction.

This is McCarthy best role and the funniest film I’ve seen so far this year. Remember the dreadful, nearly unwatchable TAMMY? Here McCarthy redeems herself and goes beyond her previous, often funny, but one-dimensional caricature roles and creates a much fuller and far mores satisfying screen persona. It reeks of reality yet crazy funny. If you need some laughs, this one delivers big time. Big recommendation. Now showing at Cinemas Palme d’Or in Palm Desert.



If you’re a fan of the HBO series, then you’ll probably enjoy this surprisingly slight big screen episode. If not, you will probably find this self-serving, cameo heavy reunion of the show’s original cast unsatisfying. Picking up perfectly where the TV show left off, the boys are back in business when Ari Gold (Piven), former uber-agent now studio head, green lights a big budget production. The film follows Grenier’s Vincent Chase as he attempts to direct and star. At its heart, this is a celebration of Hollywood’s stab-in-the-back superficiality. Not really original or insightful, but a smooth continuation of the cable show. Not for everyone. Now showing at Cinemas Palme d’Or in Palm Desert.

Pam Grier


Finally, voluptuous Pamela Suzette “Pam” Grier’s iconic films are becoming available in nice hi-def transfers. Kudos to Olive Films. Check out these three classic titles for your guilty pleasure viewing.


CoffyPam Grier is Nurse “Coffy” Coffin in this mother of all blaxploitation films. Coffy is a one-woman vigilante force, out to even the score with those that have hooked her sister on drugs.

Using her considerable feminine wiles (along with deadly weaponry), Coffy sets about ridding the streets of low-life, scum-sucking, dope dealers, pimps, deviants, perverts and other bottom-feeders in this kick-ass action flick.  A Pam Grier fan, director Quentin Tarantino paid homage to her blaxploitation roots when crafting the film JACKIE BROWN. Jack Hill directs with a sharp eye for action and humor. 1973.  Olive Films.  Blu-ray.


Pam Grier teams again with director Jack Hill (COFFY) in this follow-up that was shot in juts over two weeks. Seeking revenge for the murder of her government agent boyfriend, Fox goes to any means necessary, even posing as a hooker, to infiltrate a “modeling” agency that’s a cover for sex trafficking – to bring the killer to justice. 1974.  Olive Films.  Blu-ray.


Based on the syndicated newspaper comic strip of the same name, Grier stars as the intrepid photojournalist Friday Foster. No sooner has she been warned by her boss that her personal involvement in the stories she’s shooting will not end on a happy note, she witnesses the attempted assassination of a prominent African-American figure — and the murder of a friend.

But why is Friday the target on the hit list? What does she know? Teaming with private detective Colt Hawkins (a terrific Yaphet Kotto), the search for answers leads them to a startling action heavy climax. Arthur Marks directs from his story. 1975.  Olive Films.  Blu-ray.


Never before available on DVD, Nastassja Kinski’s first major film, directed by Alberto Lattuada, is an erotic drama about the impossible love between an older man and a very young girl. Architect Roué Marengo (Marcello Mastroianni), who is unhappy in his marriage and starts a romance with the beautiful Florentine. That is, until he finds out a secret about the girl from his wife and has to make a decision. This film was sot a year before Kinski’s breakthrough in Roman Polanski’s TESS. Time Magazine said “Kinski is simply ravishing.” Playboy called it “a truly sexy film.” 1978.  Cult Epics.  Blu-ray