Freeze Frame: “Air” (R), “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” (PG), “Whaam! Blam! Roy Lichtenstein and the Art of Appropriation” (Not rated)

When is an inspirational sports movie not a sports movie? When it’s the stirring Ben Affleck-directed opus, “Air.” Matt Damon stars in the absorbing true story about the people from Nike who were the upset winners in the race to sign Michael Jordan to a basketball shoe endorsement contract. It’s well written, skillfully acted and sharply directed. Plus, Viola Davis scores big time in the role of Jordan’s astute mother. With “Air,” Damon and Affleck team up once again for a solid alley-oop.

Historically speaking, Hollywood can’t seem to make good movies based on video games. But to quote Mario, “A Mario brother never says, ‘can’t,’ Luigi.” The animated comedy “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is a zippy, beautifully produced, and often funny adventure with a plot that cleverly incorporates elements of the classic game. “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” jumps the video game film genre up two levels and picks up a few gold coins.

“Whaam! Blam! Roy Lichtenstein and the Art of Appropriation” is an intriguing new documentary from filmmakers James L. Hussey and Jesse Finley Reed now available on VOD platforms. It explores the work of Lichtenstein, the renowned pop artist whose works sell for millions and about the largely unknown comic artists he liberally borrowed from. Was Lichtenstein’s work homage or plagiarism? “Whaam! Blam!” effectively presents both sides of that question and should generate lively post-movie coffee talk.

The 11th annual Panic Fest horror film festival returns April 13th through the 19th at Screenland Armour Theatre in Kansas City, MO, featuring over 40 feature films, as well as numerous shorts, podcasts and live events. More info is available at

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