Film Review: Love Beats Rhymes

I was so jazzed for this movie to come out. I am an Azealia Banks fan; always have been and probably always will be. Is she a stereotypical #yourproblematicfav ? Yeah, probs…but honestly, her rawness as a person is what I find so endearing. And also, while I’m here defending the great AB, there are so many other potentially toxic celebrities out there who continue to be supported because of their “undeniable talent,” so why can’t this be her too? Especially since, if you follow any of her social media ranting you can actually see she is growing as a human being, like the rest of us. Which is frankly, refreshing and inspiring.

*Deep breath* …so back to Love Beats Rhymes. This movie is so cutesy. Which is my primary gripe. It is so corny 90’s–and some moments it feels cute and warm and familiar and the next minute I’m trying not to vomit in my mouth. The plot isn’t even that terrible (ala 10 Things I Hate About You; I’m corny but that’s what you came for), the acting is pretty good for most of the major characters, but the script! is so! yuck! Like, I’m glad we finally get to see Azealia Banks come into the movie world but I’m sad that now I have to couch my applause for her acting talent in the disclaimer about how the movie itself is kinda meh. I really, really hope this opens the door for her to do some more serious acting work.

(((And super tangentially, if we’re gonna spend any time talking about mini-Drake…can we talk about a real life Azealia Banks x Drake couple? How cute it could be? *hums Mariah’s “Make It Happen”*)))

I think what I loved most about the film was how it shows how there are so many different textures to rap/spoken word/poetry. How as an art form it can be used not only for bravado and anger, but also pain, happiness, romance, or uncertainty. The rap vs. poetry thread was a little heavy handed, but it ultimately does a good job of explaining about how each strengthens the other.

Summary: I’m glad I watched it once. I would watch it again if a friend hadn’t seen it. I would not watch it again by myself.

Film: 2.5/5

Black Girl Magic: We go to 11.

Film Review: Love Beats Rhymes

Film Review: A Wrinkle In Time

I have been waiting for this movie since I was 8 years old. I didn’t even care that the movie theatre was full of parents and kiddos. I don’t even care that I didn’t get *this* when I was their age. I am truly, deeply happy that it even exists.

First and foremost, this novel is great because it has a little girl saving the FRIGGIN universe. But also can we give a round of applause for Madeleine L’Engle teaching children how a gotdamn tesseract works in the form of a book?!? A few years ago, I was watching a 3-d image transform shape and without reading any captions I said “that’s a tesseract.” And it’s not because I’m some geometry genius, it’s because many, many moons ago I read a book that so thoroughly described the physics concept that I knew what I was looking at. That just *blows my mind*. Imagine if every children’s novel was not just about some emotional journey of being a 13 year old, but actually taught *things* *real things*?!

Add to that…a mixed family, an adopted child, Oprah!, Mindy! *drool* But as a mixed person, the fact that the heroine of the story was a little mixed girl and not an ambiguously-ethnic, white-passing mixed girl…it was just thrilling. It was literally my childhood dreams imagined. This book (in my memory) is pretty non-racially written, so it could have been cast any which-way i.e. it could have been a bunch of white folks, but it *wasn’t*!! And Oprah is the fairy godmother of them all!!! *sigh* I’ll say it with everyone else because it seems Hollywood might finally be listening a smidge, REPRESENTATION MATTERS. My niece is about 13 and she and this girl look remarkably similar & you have no idea how much my heart is overflowing with joy that she gets to see a movie–with a girl that looks just like her–having complex feelings and being brave–using her science and math smarts–to save the WORLD!!!

PLUS! Casting diversity aside, the movie was actually pretty well done. They gutted the hell out of the science parts in the book. But frankly, I think it would have been too much for a movie medium. The film was already so full addressing the emotional aspects of the plot, that I think it would have just been too crazy trying to add in the science parts. I felt very similar when they adapted The Time Traveler’s Wife to the big screen. They basically chucked the last half of the book, but I couldn’t even be mad because if they had faithfully followed the book to the end the movie would have been boring as shit. To me, this is a sign of a successful adaptation. If movie makers can cut out half of a book and still have satisfied fans, I’d say that’s a job well done.

It was beautifully shot. The acting was fantastic. The imagined worlds were stellar. Overall, bravo.

Film: 4/5

Black Girl Magic: We go to 11.


Film Review: A Wrinkle In Time

On Repeat: “The Diamond” My Brightest Diamond was listening to NPR’s All Songs Considered today, and they described Bjork’s music as “celestial.” I think there are many moments that My Brightest Diamond does the same thing, even if not in such a grandiose way, on this album.

I think a lot of that celestial feeling in My Brightest Diamond comes from the delicate weaving of strings, harp, moody piano bass, and breathy background vocalisations.  And *that* is exactly what I find so enchanting about this body of work. It is graceful and violent. But! I am not here to talk about the album as a whole, but just the beautifully bitter “The Diamond;” which incidentally is my very first MBD song. *sigh*

I can tell you first off that what drew me into the murky and lovely universe of “The Diamond” is Shara Nova’s dark tinted, breathy delivery. She also is very talented at giving stony, sharp reproaches–which you can hear in this song’s lines “are you coming?” and “you must feel splendid.”

I really love the drums in this track, which are muted and almost sound canned. There is also a very light guitar tremolo in parts that remind me of the slight tremble in a tense voice. It’s one of those parts that is easy to miss, but would completely change the texture of the song if it weren’t there. Also, Maeve Gilchrist on harp is just phenomenal. Her part starts out slow and spaced, but builds into the verses in such a way that you feel like you are being carried away on a wave. It is perfect and in my opinion, is what makes this track sparkle.

Honest to stars, if you’ve never listened to My Brightest Diamond’s “A Thousand Shark’s Teeth,” please please give it a whirl. You’ll need a quiet time, some candles and possibly some wine or maybe a toasty cup of coffee and a cloudy day, but it is well worth giving it the space to breath it’s beauty into your life.


On Repeat: “The Diamond” My Brightest Diamond

Film Review: Lady Bird *kinda spoilers*, this movie was wild. I don’t mean a crazy teen action adventure. I mean I just watched as close as I will probably ever get to “my story” in a major film. It was a little overwhelming.

So big caveat to this whole review: I am a native Sacramentan. When my friend told me it was a coming of age movie based in Sacramento, I scream/blurted “So it’s about trying to escape?!” And of course that’s what it’s about because, truly, what the fuck else is there for a 17 year old to do in Sac but plot their escape. SO onwards…Basically, every moment my husband and I were watching this movie, we were critiquing if it was “Sactown” enough. To answer many people’s biggest question: yes, it is. Watching was like I got to visit home for $5 instead of $500. I will say though, if you did not grow up on the grid or in an adjacent suburb, this may not ring with you as much. That being said…if you are a woman born in the 80’s, born and raised in Sacramento, lower middle class, and white-ish, you will probably at least partially identify with this movie. If you are not those things, you still absolutely know “this” girl or any of the myriad caricatures of Sacramentans in this film.

My husband pointed out the relative “whiteness” of the film, so I actually want to talk about that a little bit. There are certainly some people of color scattered throughout this film, but overall it does look very white–hence, my previous “white-ish” comment. However, I will point out that this is probably *legitimately* intentional. Despite being one of the most diverse cities in the country, Sacramento has huge issues with de facto segregation. I don’t think this is a wild concept for many people to understand, especially people from large cities. However, I feel like it’s worth pointing out that in this case it is not Hollywood white washing everything, but rather a shittily accurate depiction of this place in the world. Just to give you an idea of how this plays out “big picture”: the white population in Sacramento is roughly 33% white and my suburbia high school was 95% white. Just let that sink in. This did not happen accidentally, it was very carefully planned by racist assholes to keep their schools and neighborhoods white. (Sidenote, yes it was *very fucking* awkward to be in that 5% lol/butnotlol.)

So I do just want to spend a smidgen more time talking about the scenery of Lady Bird. For non residents of the Central Valley, all these places are REAL. Like the real deal, real. I cannot tell you how crazy it is to see so many mundane parts of the painting of “home” in my mind up on a fucking giant movie screen. My husband and I basically spent half of the movie trying to stifle our “ohmygod look!!”‘s in an effort to be polite to our fellow movie-goers (because we’re in Texas and these nice folks are just trying to watch a teen coming of age movie without the damn peanut gallery). But it’s really hard not to laugh aloud when they’re talking about knifings at Sac High (a sad reality) and you, like, actually GET IT. For a frame of reference, I once played soccer against girls from Sac High. You have never seen so many yellow and red cards thrown down in a game (on both sides)–so much heated shit talking. There was a fight, there was a ponytail grabbing throw down, the refs called the game early. It was an experience. They also did a phenomenal job of recreating 2002, cd stacks galore, etc. AND! They actually did like cultural/linguistic was so nice to hear someone say “menno” instead of “mento”–it seems stupid and small but it matters. Truly, bravo.

The meat of this movie, the interpersonal relationships, were so on point it left me feeling utterly raw. It’s a typical angsty, teen girl vs. well meaning, frazzled mom scenario. Most teen girls survive it, but man is it fucked up to watch that story you already painfully identify with happening *literally* in the place you grew up. That being said, perhaps this movie resonates most with us “escapees.” It is one thing to complain about Sac being the most boring place under the sun as a teen/early adult. It’s quite another to successfully escape. As with probably many people who finally escape their hometown blues, there is a certain bittersweetness that you don’t fully understand until you’re living it. I absolutely love Sacramento to the bone and when I visit, no matter how long I’ve been gone (I’ve been a non-resident for 7 years), I always feel like “ah, back home.” It never stops feeling like home. But at the same time, I mean it when I say you COULD NOT pay me enough to move back there–family pleading and all. If that is where life takes me, so be it; but it is the antithesis of #goals. So this is that story. To me you don’t have to be a private school student, or a native downtown baby, or even from Sacramento to relate to this story–just, once upon a time you were a semi-edgy youth trying to claw your way out of drudgery.

I am obviously way too biased to say objectively whether or not this movie was good, but I will say I thoroughly enjoyed it–tears streaming and all.




Film Review: Lady Bird *kinda spoilers*

Film Review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ve heard some mumblings from Star Wars fans about this film being lackluster and some very passionate words from my other half about character development failings, but honestly I still found the movie entertaining. And since, as a non “fan” (as in fandom), that is all I can ever hope for in a Star Wars film, I’m satisfied.

My major complaint about the film as a whole is the disruption of “moments” with humor or “explanations” for the audience. It was especially bothersome just before the big battle on planet-with-red-dirt. When the man tastes the ground and says “salt.” WHO CARES? It is just meant to be visually striking! We don’t need an explanation on why the top is white and the bottom is red. XD I’ve seen several people complaining about the “Disnification” of this series, and I think this is where you see it most. Yes, there are tons of children watching these movies–but that doesn’t mean we have to have Dora the Explorer level explanations about plot devices and scenery. If the little bitties don’t get it at 8, they’ll figure it out when they rewatch it at 12, 20, 46 and so on. This is honestly something I really enjoy about rewatching films throughout my life. You get to enjoy it differently over time and simultaneously gain huge insight on how age affects your comprehension of stories.

I’m not sure there’s anything else meaningful to discuss here. It was a Star Wars flick–there were fights with light sticks, people said “deep” shit, starships went pew-pew. *shrug* I’m not sure this series will ever be able to relive the glory (for me) of my sweet Ewan riding a giant lizard, so everything else is always a little downhill. XD


Film Review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Film Review: Murder on the Orient Express (2017) **SPOILERS** would just like to start by saying that I had zero desire to see this film ever, let alone in the theaters. But, I thought it might be nice for the hubs if we went and saw a movie he wanted to see without me bellyaching or being like “bruh, have fun with your friends.”  So here we are talking about the worst movie I’ve paid to see in a long, long time.

So bad, that the only reasonable explanation for so many past life A-listers appearing is that they are all friends & were high af watching the original and decided they wanted to remake it for kicks. The reason I say this is because, as a mystery it’s not really that mysterious after the third or fourth interview. Perhaps the plot is better managed in the book (or the ’74 film that I haven’t seen), but here it is god awful. You mean to tell me that a WORLD RENOWNED investigator doesn’t realize everyone is in on it after finding out that three or four people are? And if they are all in on it together, why do they ALL admit to knowing the same fucking family of people that they are avenging. Is Agatha Christie actually just making a comment on how stupid people are? lol

So if you like old style, dumb mysteries (no judgement) then you might enjoy this remake. It definitely comes off cinematically like a shinier version of an older film.


Film Review: Murder on the Orient Express (2017) **SPOILERS**

New to the Library: “Year of the Monkey” Osso & Sufjan Stevens; arr. Michael Atkinson got this track to add to a mix cd for my mom, a year-of-the-monkey herself. I’m not sure that I love it, but it -is- good.

It is stark and bewildering. In many ways, a complete contrast to their “Year of the Dragon” (me : D). Although it begins bright and a bit shy, most of the track is filled with dissonant chords, phrases that start and stop, and seemingly none on repeat. This finally works its way into a huge swelling bridge that overwhelms the senses. It then takes a huge gasp for breath and pushes harder into the swirl of discomfort. After which, the bridge promptly breaks down into jangling that is even more disorienting than the beginning of the song. It is very much the kind of compositional arch you might find in a running-confused-through-the-forest type film scene.

Overall, I find it quite beautiful in a jabbing, dangerous sort of way. Definitely worth a taste.


New to the Library: “Year of the Monkey” Osso & Sufjan Stevens; arr. Michael Atkinson