'Emperor'

Dayo Okeniyi and James Cromwell in “Emperor.”

New films available online include  “Emperor” and “Working Man”. “Kindred” and “Let Him Go” are opening in theaters this week.

ONLINE

EMPEROR

Based on actual events, the film takes place before the Civil War. A slave named Shields Green (Dayo Okeniyi) was called “Emperor” because his father had been a king in Africa.

When his young son is whipped after being caught reading a book, Green goes after the boy’s attacker. A bloody fight ensues, and Green escapes  from the plantation. As he makes his way along the Underground Railroad, the now infamous runaway slave meets Levi Cotton (Bruce Dern), who encourages him to join abolitionist John Brown’s (James Cromwell) militia and the fight to end slavery in the South.

Although “Emperor” does not measure up to features such as “Twelve Years a Slave” or “Harriet,” it does present a compelling and previously untold story about a heroic former slave who participated in Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry, an event that changed history.

Strong support comes from Naturi Naughton as Green’s wife Sarah, Harry Lennix as Frederick Douglass and Ben Robson as Green’s dogged pursuer, Luke McCabe.

–  Rated PG-13

 3 Stars

WORKING MAN

First time director Robert Jury wrote and directed this acclaimed character study about Rust Belt factory worker Allery Parkes (Peter Gerety), who continues to report to his job after the factory has been shut down.  To the stunned surprise of his wife, Iola (Talia Shire), each morning Allery continues to pack a lunch, fill his thermos and walk to the plastics factory where he has spent much of his life.

Allery’s neighbor Walter Brewer (Billy Brown) joins him in his daily trip to the factory and comes up with a plan to keep the factory going.

The realistic and timely story focuses on the working men and women who are left with a severance and no prospects for employment as their former place of employment moves overseas. The film also offers sensitive insight concerning mental illness and a sweetly understated love story.

– Not rated

  3 Stars

IN THEATERS

KINDRED  

Young lovers Charlotte (Tamara Lawrance) and Ben (Edward Holcroft) have plans to get away from his mother Margaret (Fiona Shaw) who lives on a vast Scottish country estate with her creepy stepson, Thomas (Jack Lowden). But then Charlotte and Ben’s plans to get away and settle in Australia go awry in the psychological thriller directed by Joe Marcantonio.

After an accident, expectant mother Charlotte finds herself alone and terrified at the family estate. She experiences hallucinations, becomes convinced that she is being drugged and remains suspicious of family doctor Dr. Richards (Antone Lesser).

LET HIM GO

Diane Lane and Kevin Costner portray Margaret and George Blackledge in a violent neo western drama set in the 1960s.  The film is based on a novel by Larry Watson and is written and directed by Thomas Bezucha.

Retired sheriff George and Margaret grieve over the death of their son James. Three years later, their daughter-in-law Lorna (Kayli Carter) marries Donnie Weboy (Will Brittain). When Donnie takes Kayli and their 3-year-old grandson Jimmy away, Margaret and George have no way to get in touch with them.  Eventually, the grandparents leave their Montana ranch and travel to the Dakotas to try to locate Kayli and Jimmy.

Lesley Manville gets strong reviews as Blanche Weboy, the head of the clan which includes Bill Weboy (Jeffrey Donovan).

Alice Reese is a member of the Dallas Fort Worth Film Critics Association. She reviews movies, arts and  entertainment for the Herald-Banner and for KETR.

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