Mary J. Blige

The Pearl at The Palms, Sept. 7

“No disrespect to the men, but this show is for all the ladies!” Mary J. Blige shouted from behind her red-rimmed shades that matched her red playsuit as the sea of women roared their approval. In a stop on her Liberation Tour—which also featured Melanie Fiona and the super-funky return of D’Angelo from a decadelong hiatus—the nine-time Grammy winner had every feminine voice (and even some masculine ones) singing along to her endless catalog of “I’m strong and don’t need your tired ass” tunes that have defined her career. Blige doesn’t sing so much as she performs exorcisms on her tormented soul—each vocal was so heart-wrenching and beautifully unique. From the upbeat post-relationship odes “Just Fine” and “Mr. Wrong” to the poignant “Not Gon’ Cry,” complete with emotional pantomime and a form-fitting black dress (likely for the no-good dude’s funeral), the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul proved why she has reigned supreme for two decades. ★★★★☆

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(PG-13) ★★★★☆ This movie is great fun: nimble, quick, the thinking person’s mindless entertainment. Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a star in the NYC bike messenger universe, reckless and quick. Wilee gets a “premium rush” order to deliver an envelope to Chinatown. Inside is a marker for a considerable amount of money. A dirty cop with heavy gambling debts (Michael Shannon) needs to intercept. The chase ensues. Sharp storytelling and direction make this a pleasure to watch.

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