Review: BlacKkKlansman

It’s been a while since I saw a good Spike Lee joint and his latest flick is based on what he calls, “some fo’ real, fo’ real sh*t!”

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Image by Focus Features and Legendary

In the late 1970s, Colorado Springs Detective Ron Stallworth, the “Jackie Robinson” of the Colorado Springs Police Department if you catch my drift, is chomping at the bit to make his mark on the force and he sets off a powder keg of an investigation when he finds contact information in the local paper and puts in a call to the local chapter of an organization that is very particular about its members. Ron Stallworth, an African-American police officer, launches an investigation into the Colorado Springs Chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.

His strategy? Establish contact with the chapter president over the phone, then when it is time to meet with the Klansmen-or as they like to call themselves, “The Organization”-his partner, Detective Flip Zimmerman, will meet with the chapter as Ron to infiltrate the chapter, gather information on any possible attacks on the black community and stop it from happening. The course of the investigation even lead to the encounter of none other than the Grand Wizard of the Klan-or as they prefer “National Director of the Organization”-David Duke himself.

This is essentially, the summarized plot of Spike Lee’s joint BlacKkKlansman, one of the most impeccable, stylish, methodical, intelligent, relevant films I have seen so far this year. Lee has probably delivered his best work to date since Do the Right Thing as BlacKkKlansman touches on political and societal topics that are as alive and thriving today as they were more than 50 years ago, if not more, and tells an unbelievable story with expert flair.

The way Lee told this story, the way the film echoed into what modern society in America has become and how the film touches upon the topics of policing in America, what it means to be black, the depiction of white privilege and white supremacy and how these themes have resonated into the modern American landscape, it’s practically genius! He wanted this film to be a movie for our time and he nailed it. Plain and simple.

Lee, Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott adapted Stallworth’s book, recounting how he and his investigative team infiltrated and hoodwinked the Klan and successfully stopped some of their members from carrying out a heinous act and they did more than just alright with it. The skill that went into the writing of this picture? What more can be said than “right on!”

The cast was dynamite! John David Washington, Adam Driver, Topher Grace, Michael Buscemi, Laura Harrier, Corey Hawkins, Ryan Eggold, Jasper Pääkkönen, Paul Walter Hauser, Ashlie Atkinson, Ken Garito, Robert John Burke, Arthur J. Nascarella, Frederick Weller, Harry Belafonte, Alec Baldwin, top to bottom, this movie has an stellar cast of actors who are nothing short of terrific in their roles whether they chant black or white power in the film.

The style and detail that went into the production of this picture is phenomenal to say the least! Chayse Irvin’s cinematography is solid, the editing Barry Alexander Brown is superb, Terence Blanchard’s music is great, Curt Beech’s production design is outstanding, Marci Mudd’s art direction is fantastic, Cathy T. Marshall’s set decoration is great and I loved the costumes of Marci Rodgers.

If you were like me and have been anticipating BlacKkKlansman for months, I can assure you that you will not be disappointed in the slightest! Spike Lee’s new joint should be heralded as his greatest achievement to date and should rest at or near the top of the better films of 2018.

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Movie of the Week: BlacKkKlansman

From legendary filmmaker Spike Lee and Jordan Peele, who is fresh off a career year from the highly successful Get Out, comes a truly outrageous tale that I can’t wait to see unfold on the big screen. In the 1970s, Colorado opened the door for African-Americans to enroll in the police academy and Ron Stallworth took on an assignment that no black person would ever voluntarily do: infiltrate the sick and morally bankrupt organization known as the Ku Klux Klan to thwart an imminent terrorist attack. That is the subject of Lee’s new joint, titled BlacKkKlansman.

Directed by: Spike Lee

Written by: Spike Lee, Charlie Wachtel, Kevin Willmott and David Rabinowitz

Starring: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Topher Grace, Laura Harrier, Robert John Burke, Corey Hawkins, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Alec Baldwin, Frederick Weller, Ato Blankson-Wood, Harry Belafonte, Damaris Lewis and Michael Buscemi.

What am I expecting to see?: It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a good joint from Spike Lee and BlacKkKlansman appears positioned to take a place as one of the best films of 2018. I’m looking forward to seeing if John David Washington has it in him to be as great an actor as his father and more to the point, I want to know more about how this investigation played out because the subject matter is very intriguing. I’ve been looking forward to BlacKkKlansman for a very long time and I think I’m in for a treat!

My Thoughts on A Quiet Place

*Disclaimer: this is not an official review but it is my thoughts and perspective on a film of interest that I saw in 2018.*

Last night, I finally caught up on a film that garnered a lot of attention earlier this year, but I didn’t bother to see it in theaters due to a lack of interest on my part. By the time I did take an interest in seeing it, it ended its theatrical run, so I was left with no choice but to wait and rent it. The film I’m talking about is, A Quiet Place.

Synopsis:

Two parents do what it takes to keep their children safe in a world full of creatures hunting every sound they can hear. Not a sound can be heard from the family hiding in silence, but all it takes is one noise and everything can go wrong.

Directed by: John Krasinski

Written by: Bryan Woods, Scott Beck and John Krasinski

Cast: John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cade Woodward and Leon Russom

Crew: Marco Beltrami (score), Charlotte Bruus Christensen (cinematography), Christopher Tellefsen (editing), Jeffery Beecroft (production design), Sebastian Schroeder (art direction), Heather Loeffler (set decoration) and Kasia Walicka-Maimone (costume design).

What did I think?

A Quiet Place was very intense! The film was rich with suspense and Krasinski was in the driver’s seat of a compact but concrete thriller that held my attention from start to finish. That intensity was the product of a very technically sound picture that thrived off the power of silence and sound to make a killer impression. The tension from the film had my heart racing.

Does it live up to the hype as one of the best films of 2018?

Most definitely can I say that John Krasinski has a serious hit on his hands. He’s not exactly someone I follow with a great degree of interest but A Quiet Place is certainly a picture that is excellently crafted and very easy to follow. I was impressed by the cast, Krasinski’s vision, the plot, the visuals, especially the use of sound and how that was put a the forefront of the spectacle. I have to give credit to Krasinski for helming a very smart film.

What did I enjoy most about it?

Obviously, I loved the fact that sound was the film’s main appeal and how Scott Beck and Bryan Woods built this post apocalyptic world where the slightest sound can kill someone and the lengths this family went to in order to survive; from learning sign-language, Morse code, signals, sand, how to soundproof. I loved how the tension and suspense from the action just bleed off the screen, I loved the chemistry and cohesion from Krasinski, Blunt, Simmonds, Jupe, the pacing of the picture, the camerawork, editing, the fact that it was made on a low-budget; A Quiet Place was very well done.

What flaws did I notice?

I wish this movie didn’t have a score. In my experience, movies that are built on tension, thrive ten times more without the implementation of music accompanying a scene or sequence. No disrespect to Marco Beltrami, but A Quiet Place may have reached higher levels of fear and suspense without a score. Also, I wish more of this post-apocalyptic realm could have been further explored and the origins of these creatures. Maybe this could be explained in a possible sequel or spinoff but that’s for another time.

Any final thoughts?

I’m not sure A Quiet Place will go the distance to Awards Season the way Get Out went the distance to Awards Season, but there is definitely a lot to like about it. I was impressed by Krasinski’s talents as a director and screenwriter and the technical aspects of this film are high caliber to say the least. Is this a movie I wish I could have seen in theaters? I would say yes to that question. I’ve seen my share of very good movies in 2018 and I think A Quiet Place has earned its place among being counted in those very good movies.

Disney is Going to Absorb 20th Century Fox!

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Image by comingsoon.net

This move has been months in the planning and I’ve been keeping track of what would become of this ever since it was announced in December 2017. Now that it is official, let’s take a look at what it means. Originally, Disney opened with an almost $50 billion offer to purchase the rights to Fox’s film and television assets, now that number has jumped $20 million higher, possibly due to the fact that Comcast tried to get in a bidding war for Fox but pulled out weeks ago. Anyway, the melding of Disney and Fox has begun and it will take some time before it is complete.

What this means?

The dissolution of the longtime powerhouse studio gives Disney complete control over not only its X-Men and fellow Marvel superhero team the Fantastic Four, but box-office-busting franchises like the slowly-but-surely-expanding Avatar series and the long-dormant-but-hey-who-knows-these-days Home Alone, plus small screen powerhouses like The X-FilesIt’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia—and all of FX and FXX for that matter, not to mention National Geographic—and (here’s the kicker) The Simpsons

But let’s slow down for a moment, shall we? This does not mean that we’re going to see the X-Men and the Fantastic Four sharing a screen with The Avengers or the Guardians of the Galaxy anytime soon, although it is not outside the realm of possibility for a project down the road. This deal was born from communications that led to Spider-Man becoming a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe a few years ago. Disney is already a giant in the media industry because of its ownership of Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and ABC but this move is bold. In fact, this merger also Disney a controlling interest in Hulu, since Fox already owned a controlling interest in their shares before the acquisition became official.

Am I a fan of this move? To be honest, not really because this move was born from the idea of possibly bringing the X-Men and the Fantastic Four into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I’m concerned about how they will integrate these already established franchises in possible future films and how they’ll avoid continuity issues. I actually preferred the X-Men franchise and the MCU to remain separated entities but if Disney can find a way to make the two cohesively meld together in a way that makes sense, I won’t complain.

Anyway, it’s done and when the merger becomes complete, Disney will be an ever greater superpower than ever. For now, the MCU will remain the MCU and their schedule will still include Captain Marvel and the untitled sequel to Avengers: Infinity War. As for the X-Men franchise? X-Men: Dark Phoenix, and The New Mutants are the only confirmed projects currently in production. My guess is, we’ll probably see signs of the universes becoming one after 2019 or 2020, so until then, we’ll just have to wait and see how this merger will proceed going forward. It almost makes me wonder what else Disney will end up owning in the foreseeable future?

Comic Con Trailer Tracker 2018!

I am time-zones away from what I like to call the biggest nerd fest of the year: San Diego Comic Con. This is the period where I get major announcements for my favorite and anticipated films and television shows for the next 12 months, and I like to take this time to watch all of the trailers and bring them here to you for you, my faithful readers to enjoy. So, let’s take a look at what Comic Con has to offer us, shall we?

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Directed by: David Yates

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Allison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Jude Law, Ezra Miller, Carmen Ejogo, Callum Turner, Zoë Kravitz and Johnny Depp

In theaters on November 16, 2018

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Directed by: Michael Dougherty

Starring: Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga, Sally Hawkins, Kyle Chandler, Bradley Whitford, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Aisha Hinds, Ziyi Zhang and Ken Watanabe

In theaters on May 31, 2019

Shazam!

Directed by: David F. Sandberg

Starring: Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Mark Strong, Djimon Hounsou, Jack Dylan Grazer, Marta Milans, Cooper Andrews, Faithe Herman and Natalia Safran

In theaters on April 5, 2019

Aquaman

Directed by: James Wan

Starring: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren, Temeura Morrison and Djimon Hounsou

In theaters on December 21, 2018

If there are any new developments, I will be sure to put them up as soon as I get them.

James Gunn will not be directing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

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Image By Mingle Media TV, via Wikimedia Commons

Yes, you read that headline correctly! In a shocking move, Gunn has reportedly been fired from the MCU after years-old tweets from the Guardians of the Galaxy director, in which he joked about pedophilia and sexual assault, were collected and released to the public. Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn made the move official in a statement:

The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him

I’m not even sure what to say at this point because I’m completely stunned by this turn of events. The impact that Gunn brought to the Guardians of the Galaxy features were a principal reason why the films went on to such critical and financial success for Marvel and Disney. In fact, he was hard at work for the script for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which was set for production later this year in order to meet its 2020 proposed release date. Now, plans for the feature are on hold as Marvel and Disney need new blood to finish the standalone series following the space traveling band of outlaws.

I don’t blame Disney for letting Gunn go in light of these recent developments. No one should ever have the audacity to joke about sexual assault or child molestation, let alone be dumb enough to put them on the internet where everyone can see and find them. Also, the manner in which the tweets were found were underhanded, if I had a word to use for it. There is plenty of blame and shame to go around in regards to this situation, if you ask me.

Gunn has issued an apology in response to his dismissal.

My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocativeI have regretted them for many years since — not just because they were stupid, not at all funny, wildly insensitive, and certainly not provocative like I had hoped, but also because they don’t reflect the person I am today or have been for some time. Regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today. Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then. All I can do now, beyond offering my sincere and heartfelt regret, is to be the best human being I can be: accepting, understanding, committed to equality, and far more thoughtful about my public statements and my obligations to our public discourse. To everyone inside my industry and beyond, I again offer my deepest apologies. Love to all.

I will keep track of who Marvel and Disney will eye to close out the Guardians of the Galaxy arc for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Review: Sorry to Bother You

Stop me if you’ve heard this before but if a certain film has been generating positive hype for some time, I make it a mission to see it for myself. Remember the name Boots Riley for his debut as a writer and director is a trip that will leave you flabbergasted by the end credits. This is a dream-like picture of telemarketing, unionizing, evocative artistry, embellished and ritzy slave-labor, white-voices and a disturbing new definition of the term “workhorse” in the ghastly dimension of Sorry to Bother You.

The film’s protagonist is Cassius Greene, a survivor in this alternate universe trying to make ends meet when he lands a job in the fast-paced and exciting field of telemarketing. When a co-worker offers him a tip to really land some sales, the golden elevator doors open for our down-on-his-luck hero to an opportunity that will really change his worldview. I’d go into detail further, but I don’t want to spoil the film and I don’t think you’d believe me if I went into detail.

If I had to come up with one word to describe this picture, it would be “unforgettable.” Boots Riley has an imagination so vivid, delirious and freaky, it does bother you and doesn’t apologize for doing so and I believe this picture revels in being completely unapologetic and entertaining.

What really impressed me about this picture is not only Riley’s vision and the attention to detail that went into the execution of this film but how this was written with so many cultural references, and commentary that connects with modern day society. Riley is not only imaginative but his intelligence was on full display with this film and I couldn’t help being captive to this film. There were times when I thought that this movie just ran wild and lost its direction but to my surprise it was just tied together in a way that came full-circle and I was all the more impressed with what this picture turned out to be.

The cast was great! Lakeith Stanfield was awesome in the lead role of Cassius Green, Tessa Thompson continues her rise to superstardom as the leading lady and Cassius’ love-interest Detroit, Jermaine Fowler, Terry Crews, Steven Yeun, Danny Glover, Kate Berlant, Omari Hardwick, Michael X. Sommers, Robert Longstreet, Arnie Hammer and the voices of David Cross, Patton Oswalt and Lily James all added to the mosaic madness of this picture.

Sorry to Bother You is low-budget but it has bang to its buck for the technical acumen of this film is stupendous! Doug Emmett’s cinematography is awesome, Terel Gibson’s editing is probably the best I’ve seen this year, Deidra Elizabeth Govan’s costume design and the work that the costume and wardrobe department is contributed is striking and beautiful, Stephen Dudro’s art direction was eye-candy, the production design by Jason Kisvarday is impeccable, the set decoration by Kelsi Ephraim is superb, the music, the visual effects and the animation was revelatory! This was a well-assembled motion picture.

Going into Sorry to Bother You, I knew nothing, I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know who the players behind this were but coming out, I felt that I saw a spectacle that would stay with me for long-time. Sorry to Bother You definitely lived up to the acclaim it has received and I would encourage you to see it if you believe you have a strong enough constitution!