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Known for being “Straight Outta Compton,” Ice Cube has made a second home for himself in Chicago, another American city with a tough reputation. As the family friendly and community-minded proprietor of a South Side neighborhood business, his Calvin anchors a sweet spot, a place where folks come together to talk trash in good times and unload burdens in times of crises. “The Next Cut” illustrates how those two sides can exist simultaneously, and the real power of such a forum in American life. Nowhere else on the big screen can audiences gather and hear characters discuss race, family dynamics, and relationship dramas from a minority perspective and it’s a shame that more moviegoers haven’t ventured out of their comfort zones for a peek. But don’t worry – Cube’s got your back.




Disney should celebrate the day they first teamed up with Jon Favreau as a national holiday, because the fruitful collaboration has yielded blockbuster gains on the comic book franchise side thanks to his work on the “Iron Man” movies that set the stage for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and now, on the lighter side with his modern rendering of the classic tale “The Jungle Book.” Favreau’s brand of movie magic will make audiences believe that this very real Mowgli (Nell Sethi), the man-cub abandoned in the jungle and raised by Akela (Giancarlo Esposito) and Raksha (Lupita Nyong’o), proud wolfpack parents with assistance from the sleek panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) will become a member in good standing of the larger jungle family. Along the way, as he encounters a sneakily deceptive snake (Scarlett Johansson), the enraged King Louie (Christopher Walken) and inevitably, Shere Khan (Idris Elba), the tiger who killed his father, Mowgli’s journey has a natural and frenetic feel that undoubtedly stems from Favreau and the fact that he remains in touch with his inner child, which he proved so winningly in “Elf.”