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.

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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

Film Review: Lady Bird *kinda spoilers*

https://assets.vogue.com/photos/5a0cb845aa06b707698d9af5/master/pass/lady-bird-costumes-02.jpgSo, 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 coaching..it 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

https://www.twincities.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/tempt-trailer_1.jpgI’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

3/5

Film Review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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

https://i0.wp.com/media2.slashfilm.com/slashfilm/wp/wp-content/images/murder-on-the-orient-express-review.jpgI 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.

1/5

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

Film Review: “Dunkirk”

https://i1.wp.com/www.indiewire.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/screen-shot-2017-03-29-at-7-06-42-pm.pngAlright, so Netflix once pigeonholed one of my movie tastes as “Cerebral World War II Dramas.” Needless to say, I was embarrassingly awoken to this macabre obsession I have. So when I say this was the good side of “eh,” I maybe have some cred? lol

The cinematography was well done and I did appreciate that part of seeing it in theatres. What I did not fucking appreciate because *problems* were the extremely loud pops and booms of weaponry and explosions throughout the film. And the movie is well done so THAT you are startled. Some people like this; it just makes me angry and anxious. For that reason alone, I probably would have enjoyed it more at home without the BOOMBOOM of the big speakers.

The acting was decent to tolerable. I have to admit I got really distracted once the Last Kingdom douche bag was introduced in the plot. I had a really hard time divorcing him from that other role.

Overall if you’re one of those people that really likes WWII movies/documentaries, this is probably a cool flick to watch to add to all of those other granular details you’ve picked up over the years. If you’re not a WWII nerd and you’re not into actiony, drowny, no really like so many people die movies–you can probably skip it.

3.5/5

Film Review: “Dunkirk”

Film Review: The Dark Tower *SPOILERS*

https://i2.wp.com/cdn.collider.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/the-dark-tower-matthew-mcconaughey-idris-elba.jpgJust so we’re really clear, there are SPOILERS in this review–for the books and the movie. Normally I try to write un-spoiler reviews, but I wouldn’t have much meat to discuss with this movie if I couldn’t discuss its contents and the books side by side. So for those of you who don’t want it ruined (books or movie), I give the movie 4/5.

This adaptation had very mixed reviews, to the point that I was a little scared to go see it. I love The Dark Tower series and have been really looking forward to this film because THE DARK TOWER *sigh* and IDRIS ELBA *double sigh*…but here are my speculations on why the bad reviews may have been bad:

  • The reviewer is so obsessed with The Dark Tower that they can’t comprehend any adaptation that does not faithfully follow the path of the books.
  • The reviewer knows little about The Dark Tower and is overwhelmed by the somewhat bizarre plot and is missing all of the nuanced details that are jam-packed into this film.

For the rest of you TDT fans who left the movie going “huh?” consider this interpretation as a salve for your fandom wounds: The key to this interpretation (and lack of some very prominent main characters) is that partway through the man in black makes a comment along the lines of “this time around the wheel.” Because this movie is not the time around the wheel described in the book series. This is some version after he steps through the door at the top. And as my husband keeps proudly pointing out, HE HAS THE HORN! XD Now I’ve never been a fan of the (in my opinion bullshit) here we go ’round again ending to the books, but at least here it makes sense.

And on a way less nerdy note! The visual working of this post-apocalypse dying-tech world was great!! Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey played their rolls perfectly. Jake was well cast. At the end of the day, if they weren’t going to make 7-8 movies out of this I think this is the best way they could have put that plot into 1.  Why they felt they couldn’t make 8 is weird to me, but that’s a rant for another day I suppose. I will say that the special effects are not so glorious that you have to see them in theatres. If you’re more of a RedBoxer, that will be just fine for this one. : )

 

Film Review: The Dark Tower *SPOILERS*