*I have no knowledge of either the narrative and characters in the Black Panther comic book, so this review is strictly based on the movie.
Comic books, especially the ones based around superheroes have become our modern-day fairy tales. There are heroes, villains, difficult journeys and life lessons that leave a lasting imprint long after we have read the final page.
Black Panther hit theaters this weekend.
The film starts off where Captain America: Civil War has ended. T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), is stepping into the role of King of Wakanda, a fictional country in Africa, after loosing his father. He is supported by his ex/best friend, Nakia, (Lupita Nyong’o), his younger sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), the Q to his James Bond, his widowed mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and his general, Okoye (Danai Gurira), who is the head of Wakanda’s Amazon-esque army.
When Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) and Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) threaten T’Challa/Black Panther and his kingdom, our hero must fight for his thrown and his country.
I loved this movie. I loved this movie. It has heart, it has humor, it has action, it has bad ass female characters and most importantly, character and actors of color who are proudly representing their heritage.
This movie is worth every word of praise and every dollar that has been spent to see it.
Black Panther is presently in theaters.
Flying has become a routine of our modern lives. It can also create an opportunity for blackmail.
In the 2005 movie Red Eye, Lisa Reisert (Rachel McAdams) hates flying with a passion. On a flight to Miami, she sits next to Jackson Rippner (Cillian Murphy). The conversation starts off as regular small talk until Jackson reveals that he has ulterior motives. If Lisa does not help Jackson assassinate a politician, her father will be killed.
This movie is brilliant. If there was one film to describe as a thriller, this film would be it. Murphy is truly terrifying, reaching the limits that only a villain in an Alfred Hitchcock film would reach. For her part, McAdams fear of flying is only heightened by the very difficult decision that she knows she has to make.
I absolutely recommend it.
Beauty And The Beast is one of those fairy tales. Every writer who has picked up their pen or turns on their computer has a different perspective on how to tell the story.
In 2014, another reboot hit theaters. Léa Seydoux and Vincent Cassel play the title roles. Unlike other adaptations, the narrative of the film is closer to the narrative of the original fairy tale. Belle is the youngest daughter of a once wealthy merchant who has taken on her father’s debt to the Beast. The Beast is a prince who was cursed and can only return to his human form once he has the love of a woman.
I wanted to like this film, I really did. While most of the Beauty and the Beast adaptations of recent memory have moved away from the original narrative, this film clings pretty closely to the source material. The problem is that I was underwhelmed and the lead actors lacked the chemistry to make me believe that they would hopefully have their happily ever after.
Do I recommend it? Not really.
Many of us remember the crotchety old man or woman who lived on our block when we were kids. By reputation, this man or woman was known for loudly voicing their displeasure when a child’s toy landed on their lawn or when one of the neighborhood teenagers cranked their music just a little too loud.
While this character for the most part remains a 2D caricature, the 2008 film Gran Torino explores this character with a new set of eyes. Walter Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) is a grizzled Korean War veteran whose pride and joy is a 1972 Gran Torino. Known for being the crotchety old man in the neighborhood, Walter not only does not get along with his neighbors, but he is also emotionally disconnected from his own family. When Walter catches Thao (Bee Vang), a teenager who is dared by his gang member cousin to steal Walter’s car, he decides to help the young man.
Walter’s mission starts out simply: to get Thao on the straight and narrow and away from the gangs. But the gangs are not going away without a fight and Walter finds himself pulled further and further into the fight.
I’m not a huge fan of Clint Eastwood, but this movie is very, very good. Though Eastwood is playing to type, he also steps away from the typecasting when he becomes the father figure to Thao and reveals the heart underneath the shell.
I absolutely recommend it.
We never forget our first love, especially when we are young. No matter how old we get or who we fall in love with later in life, our first love always stays with us.
In the new film Call Me By Your Name, (based upon the book by Andre Aciman of the same name), 17-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet) is spending the summer of 1983 at his family’s Italian chalet. His father, Mr. Perlman (Michael Stuhlbarg) is a professor of Greco-Roman history and takes on a graduate student as a research assistant every summer. The graduate student who will be living with them and studying with Elio’s father that particular summer is a young man named Oliver (Armie Hammer). Elio thinks he knows about love, but the summer and his relationship with Oliver will forever change his view of love.
What I absolutely loved about this movie was that it was about first love and how one is forever changed by that first love. While some might object to the film because the two romantic leads are men, I think that is exactly why this film must be seen. We live in a political and social climate where judgments are made about us based upon the labels we give ourselves and the labels others give us. If anything, this film teaches the audience that love is love is love. It doesn’t matter if the partners are heterosexual or homosexual.
I absolutely recommend it.
Call Me By Your Name is presently in theaters.
Dan Brown’s 2006 novel, The Da Vinci Code was nothing short of a bombshell when it hit book stories 12 years ago. Depending on the perspective of the reader, it was either a thriller that kept you reading, or it was blasphemous/utter nonsense.
Either way, it’s no great mystery as to why a film adaptation of the book quickly reached theaters that same year. Starring Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon and Audrey Tautou as Sophie Neveu, the characters are trying to unravel a murder mystery, while discovering clues about the murderer in the works of Leonardo da Vinci. In doing so, they are outing a secret society that has lasted for centuries and could change how Christianity is viewed should the secrets be brought into the light.
I really enjoyed this movie. I enjoyed it not only because I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, but also the religious element adds to the tension that is part of discovering who the killer is.
I recommend it.
The stranger in a strange land is a common trope. Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift is one of the most well-known stories that use this trope as the skeleton for the narrative.
In 2010, the book was made into a movie starring Jack Black, Jason Segel and Emily Blunt. Jack Black plays with title role with Jason Segel and Emily Blunt playing Horatio and Princess Mary, a pair of lovers whose fate it seems is to be separated forever.
I’m just going to say it. This movie horrible and not worth any amount of money one would spend at the movie theaters. Jack Black tries to include a sense of humor into the movie, but the jokes, like the movie, falls flat.
Do I recommend it? No.
Alexander The Great is one of the most revered politicians/military leaders in the history of the human species. Even today, thousands of years after his lifetime, many in leadership positions look to him for inspiration and strength.
In 2004, the film Alexander told the story of his brief, but history making life. Starring Colin Farrell in the title role and Angelina Jolie as Olympias, his snake loving mother, the film attempts to blend fact and fiction, while replicating the imagery and narrative of the biblical/historical epics of old Hollywood.
I have a problem with this movie. It’s long (about three hours), boring and while tries to entertain the audience/tell the story of the title character, it fails miserably on all accounts.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely not.
As a general narrative, the May-December romance can either be predictable and boring, or the audience walks into the theater thinking they know what they will be watching and is then surprised by out of left field choices made by the writer or writers.
In the new film, Phantom Thread, the never married middle-aged brother and sister duo Reynolds and Cyril Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis and Lesley Manville) are the faces one of the most respected fashion houses in 1950’s London. Their clientele are the whose who of society. Reynolds is meticulous in everything that he does. He also has a string of young lovers/muses who often come and go in a blink of an eye. Enter Alma (Vicky Krieps). Working as a waitress, Alma and Reynolds’s meet cute is at the restaurant where she works. She soon abandons her life for a life with Reynolds. Reynolds finds himself in love, but also learns that Alma is not afraid to call out his bullsh*t when she deems it necessary. She also turns his once carefully ordered world upside down.
What I especially liked about this movie is that writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson does not allow his characters to remain as 2D caricatures that have been seen far too many times. Instead he has created characters with shades of gray who are far from perfect. I also liked that the ending was not cut and dry. The ending was far from the typical ending of a romantic drama and left open quite a few questions about the character’s future that in another writer’s hands, would have been tied together just a little too neatly. While the film is a little slow, it is definitively worth a trip to the movie theater.
I recommend it.
Phantom Thread is currently in theaters.
Among the heartache and tragedy that is September 11th, stories of heroism shine through the darkness. One of those stories is the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93.
The 2006 film, United 93, is the story of their heroism as they fought against their hijackers. While they lost their lives in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, they saved countless others in Washington D.C. by preventing the terrorists from reaching their intended destination. With a cast that includes David Alan Basche playing real life hero Todd Beamer, the film is told in real-time from the moment the passengers get on the plane, until it crashes, killing everyone aboard.
If there was ever a 9/11 movie that keeps the tension tight until the credits roll while breaking the hearts of the audience, this film is it.
I recommend it.