Patti Cake$ is a coming-of-age story about an unlikely rapper named Patti aka Patti Cake$ aka White Trish aka Juicy Luciano aka Marylin Mansion aka Jane Dope aka Killa P. Patti has dreams of making it big to get out of her gritty life in New Jersey in which she’s the primary income for her alcoholic mother and her ill Grandmother.

She and her sidekick Jehri are struggling to get her rap career off the ground. Making the rounds in parking lot rap battle circles and basement recording studios, she’s never taken seriously, until she meets the right producer in Basterd, a gothic musician who lives in a shack behind a graveyard. As the trio lays down more and more tracks, fame seems like it’s just within reach. Patti Cake$ is about the quest for fame and glory told with humor, raw energy, and unforgettable beats.

A true hip-hop story in the vein of Hustle & Flow and 8 Mile, Patti Cake$ feels like it could be a true story about real artists who are struggling to put it all together, to find their moment, and to take advantage of opportunity when it knocks. Unfortunately, for a lot of artists, life happens and the dream is abandoned. Patti Cake$ is persistent is telling a story of chasing those dreams despite life happening.

The characters are what really give Patti Cake$ some soul. Two characters stand out.

I’d like to know more about Basterd. What made him so gothic? The film would indicate that something traumatic happened to him but he never explains what really happened. Is he just an artist who thrives on the bizarre? Mamoudou Athie managed to convey every emotion this character feels without the character displaying any emotion at all.

Of course, the heart and soul of the film is Patti, played by Danielle MacDonald. She owns and embodies this role in every single way, herself a seemingly unlikely actress struggling to be taken seriously and looking for her big break. Like Patti she doesn’t seem to belong in this world but her talent is undeniable.

I recently spoke with Noah Stahl, who is one of the Producers of Patti Cake$ about Danielle’s performance. This what he had to say:

“Danielle is amazing. She hadn’t been in almost anything before Patti Cakes. She worked for two years learning how to rap, learning how to do a Jersey accent, learning how to embody Patti and it was a huge, huge thing for her. She took a gigantic leap of faith with Geremy (Geremy Jasper, Director) and with us and I think she does amazing, amazing work.”

Patti Cake$ is a hard sell for a broad audience but if you like rap music, enjoy a good underdog story, and really like strong narrative storytelling then you’re going to love this movie.

Also, out this week, Alicia Vikander, Dane DeHaan, Christoph Waltz, and Judi Dench star in Tulip Fever. In 17th Century Amsterdam, an orphaned girl (Vikander) is forcibly married to a rich and powerful merchant (Waltz) - an unhappy "arrangement" that saves her from poverty. After her husband commissions a portrait, she begins a passionate affair with the painter (DeHaan), a struggling young artist. Seeking to escape the merchant's ever-reaching grasp, the lovers risk everything and enter the frenzied tulip bulb market, with the hope that the right bulb will make a fortune and buy their freedom.

The release of Tulip Fever comes with a lot of baggage. It’s been in the works since 2004 in various stages of development with different directors and actors attached. The film was completed in 2014 and the first test screening did not get positive reactions. It was then set for a release in 2016 then movies to February of 2017, then late August, and now September. The September release date was in even in doubt when press screenings were cancelled in Mid-August. Just like my beliefs in James Cameron’s Avatar sequels, I won’t believe this movie will be released in theaters until I’m watching the end credits of it.

Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece, one of them anyway, is getting a special theatrical release for its’ 40th anniversary. Close Encounters of the Third Kind was first released in 1977 and became helped bring in a new standard for Special Effects in film. Richard Dreyfuss plays a man who has an encounter with U.F.O.s and is drawn to an isolated area in the wilderness where something spectacular is about to happen.