Movie Review – Queen & Slim

 

Movie Review - Queen & SlimOops, I did it again! Yes, another cop-ish movie. I told you before that this year is all about bad cops. Queen & Slim was entertaining. This movie is a spin off of the Bonnie and Clyde story, but with a little twist of soul, and a flame to the Black Lives Matter movement fire.

Considering that we already know the storyline, the movie progressed a little too slowly for me.

The Actors

Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith did a good job in these roles. Bokeem Woodbine as Uncle Earl was a nice added touch of humor to a sad story of a couple’s first Tinder date that turns bad after a cop pulls them over.

And in Real Life

The crazy part of the movie was how people were reacting to the police incident; glorifying it as if that was motivation or life inspiration for some reason. To me, that incident had no ‘Obama hope’ in it at all. The whole incident was sad, the new norm, and quite disheartening, but to many in America, it was a “keep hope alive” moment.

I enjoyed the different stories within the story, revealed during the great escape. I learned a lot about the character’s lives and their pure motivations. It’s sad all their dreams were cut short for an unnecessary traffic stop.

Pay attention to the director’s change of mood and tone with the use of daytime and nighttime cinematography. Very good! The soundtrack is a must-buy. There’s some really great songs that lightened up the journey of doom, love, fear, awareness, enlightenment, faith, Samaritanism, and joy.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I too, am grateful, for many things in my Black life as well as MY journey, no matter how it ends.

TTFN (TaTa for Now)!

Grade: C

About The Peetimes: There are 4 Peetimes. I recommend the 1st Peetime.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Queen & Slim. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for violence, some strong sexuality, nudity, pervasive language, and brief drug use
Genres: Drama, crime, cop movie

Movie Review – 21 Bridges

Movie Review - 21 BridgesWow! If you are considering a life as a police officer, this year’s line up of movies do not make it an easy choice. You know how we are used to seeing “chick flicks” that male bash? Well, this year is all about calling out the pig in our men and women in blue. You see what I did there?! LOL

While the movie is somewhat predictable, the plot surrounding Officer Andre Davis was appealing, and created curiosity. Not to mention the contradiction where Andre was being ridiculed for his weapon discharging frequency in one area of the police department, but the same officers were also up to no good and not being called on the carpet for it.

Let me say that the first shoot out was great! I’m not a violent woman, but I enjoy a good, well-played out gun show with lots of action, twists and turns, a BMW get away ride, and excellent imagery and tone. You know, the kind you’ve seen in Rush Hour and Bad Boys. I love just about anything with Chadwick Boseman and J.K. Simmons. I will admit, just between me and you, I was imagining Chadwick turning into the Black Panther during a few of the action scenes. IJS, don’t judge me. Wakanda Forever pee-ple!!

Remember, as you make decisions in life, make sure your choice is the right bridge you want to cross over, as consequences are always on the other side.

Oh, if you plan on taking your kids because they want to see “the guy” that plays Black Panther in another movie, this reel has severe violence, gore, and profanity.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: It wasn’t too difficult selecting Peetimes — except that none of them are very long — because the movie often cuts rapidly between scenes. I recommend the 2nd Peetime.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of 21 Bridges. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for violence and language throughout
Genres: Action, Crime, Drama

Movie Review – Harriet

Movie Review - HarrietAs many of you know, I am a fan of biopics. I said to myself, “Self, is Hollywood going to mess this story up?” But, surprisingly, they didn’t let me down. Harriet is a must-see for sure. Given that many people may not know the full story about Harriet Tubman, this movie does a good job with the golden nuggets about who she was and how she became one of the most renowned conductors of the Underground Railroad.

While watching, I didn’t feel as if the scenes were over dramatic or over saturated with the use of the N-word. The drama, location, and subtle use of humor were blended nicely for such grim subject matter.

The actors did a great job! I can never get enough of Janelle Monáe.

Cynthia Erivo played an excellent Harriet, although many of us may still be partial to Cicely Tyson in that role in 1978. Cynthia also sang one of the songs on the soundtrack — Stand Up. It will raise the hairs on your skin. Speaking of the soundtrack, you might add this one to your musical playlist; it’s hella good.

A couple of quick things that resonated for me. There’s a part in the movie where Harriet makes up her mind to go back to rescue others. Marie, played by Janelle Monáe, teaches Harriet how to blend in and not look or sound like a slave. That scene validated what I tell the women I mentor all the time. Don’t dress like the job you have; dress like the job you want.

The last thing that was paramount in Harriet’s journey was her realizing what her journey was all about. She went back with one mission, but she quickly had to shift gears when she learned that wasn’t her mission at all. That was the moment her real transformation into a courageous, strong-minded, ingenious hero began.

There’s a lot more I can say about this movie but I’ll stop here for now. Feel free to share your thoughts below. I want to know what resonated with you about the movie.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: It wasn’t too difficult selecting Peetimes. This is a biopic about a well-known figure in American and Canadian history; therefore, sensitivity to the plot was imperative. There are 3 Peetimes. I recommend the 2nd Peetime.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Harriet. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for thematic content throughout, violent material and language including racial epithets
Genres: Biography, Drama, History, True life story

Movie Review – Black and Blue

Movie Review - Black and BlueThis movie pokes at your value system quite a bit. Most of us are all too familiar with stories about dirty cops. This story is no different, but how it plays out onscreen is rather appealing because of Tyrese Gibson, Naomie Harris, Mike Colter, and of course, the city of Katrina recovering in New Orleans.

It’s definitely another movie where cops look bad. I’m sure this rookie story happens more often than we realize. (A young adult trying to make the best of their “next” life by becoming a public servant.) The problem is this rookie decides this life has the perception of being bad, and she has a good heart…oxymoron for sure. The director did a good job of showing the grim life the rookie lived through and the one she’s trying to fit into.

Hence, the title referring to the rookie being Black in the a new world of Blue.

Alicia West was faced with conflicting choices between her race and her career. She wanted her cake and to eat it too. Unfortunately, in the life she came from, she found herself truly on the outside looking in. There’s a street saying that goes, once you go black, you’ll never go back. But in this story, once you go blue, da’ hood is through with you.

This movie reminded me of one thing my momma use to always tell me growing up. Don’t burn your bridges, because one day you might need to cross back over. And that’s exactly what Alicia West faced.

After you watch Black and Blue, hopefully, you will be reminded that no matter who you are or what you do; always do the right thing, for the right reasons.

Grade: C+

About The Peetimes: It wasn’t difficult selecting Peetimes. The storyline is obvious. Plus, there were scenes that dragged a little and contained uneventful dialogue. I would recommend the 1st Peetime. The 2nd and 3rd Peetime are very close together, and there is nothing after those two scenes that can be missed as the climax of the movie builds. The 2nd Peetime is longer, but contains a little more meat than the 3rd, which is short, but very easy to summarize. You decide.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Black and Blue. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for violence and language
Genres: Action, Crime, Drama

Movie Review – Brian Banks

 

Movie Review - Brian BanksI really love movies based on a true story. I’m always curious to see how the storyline will play out, and if it seems grossly embellished or not. Brian Banks is relatable and “reel” on so many levels.

Yes, this movie can be categorized into the files of the “MeToo Movement” for sure, but with a little twist, and intense and valid emotions throughout the whole movie.

The actors were very good, and I’m a huge fan of Morgan Freeman. Freeman is not one of the main characters; he is a catalyst to the transformation of Brian Banks. Morgan is never bad; he’s like the godfather of movies. He shows up and shows out at the most opportune moments.

Was He Like the Real Brian Banks?

I watched interviews with the real Brian Banks before going to see the onscreen depiction, just to be able to validate whether Aldis Hodge (Brain Banks) gave us a top notch reflection of the real guy.

And Aldis did. His movements, diction, and emotions were on target. Now, I’m not sure about seeing Aldis in another movie involving him in jail though, which comes out December 2019. I clutched my pearls with confusion when I saw the trailer for Clemency immediately before the Brian Banks Movie started. I thought Brian Banks had begun, and that I missed the cue to start my timer. LOL! But I digress…

The pace was good for one hour and 39 minutes. The use of flashback scenes were very effective, especially toward the end when Brian was waiting to hear the judge’s decision. All the critical moments in his life flashed before him as he awaited yet another moment that would change his life.

An Insightful Film

What I found very insightful was how the director explored the dynamics behind criminal law. He peeled a lot of the onion back to reveal crucial case law, how attorneys collaborate, and why some things are presented in the courtroom or not.

I especially liked that, because I know I sometimes ask myself, “Self, why didn’t they say this?” “Why wasn’t that important?” or “What in the heck was the judge thinking?”

So pay attention to the law narrative. I also liked how there were lots of plot pieces, but the director pretty much flushed them all out to the end;he didn’t leave me hanging.

Everyone had a connection to Brian’s struggle directly or indirectly, including his workout partner. Ultimately, I was tuned in to see if the plot was realistic and believable for such an event that happened to teenagers. And I was elated that the plot made you think and get watery-eyed; not frown and question the likelihood of the tragedy.

The use of light was very emotional; reminded me of an epiphany at its best. Another thing that resonated was the “tether.” The tether took me back to Jordan Peele’s movie Us. I admired how the director ended the movie at the exact location where the movie and Brian Bank’s dreams started.

Check it out for yourself, and take your teenagers, because when they know better, they will certainly do better. We have to teach/show our children how to stop and think about the “what ifs” on a daily basis, thus to matriculate through life without becoming a part of the existing societal problems — instead becoming an intelligent, good-natured, ethical citizen that’s part of the solutions.

(By the way, for those that may be running late, there were 24 minutes of previews in my showing.)

Grade: B-

About The Peetimes: It wasn’t difficult selecting Peetimes, given this is a biopic, and I knew a little about the back story — which gave me some perspective. I recommend the 1st Peetime.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Brian Banks. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for thematic content and related images, and for language
Genres: Biography, Drama, Sport, True life story

Movie Review – Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable

Movie Review – Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood

The Lion King – Can Disney Remake a Masterpiece?

My two cents worth as I anticipate The Lion King this week. I’m fascinated to see how Disney can remake a masterpiece. The original movie was amazing, and the stage musical was also, in an entirely different way. When my daughter, Destiny, and I saw the musical in Chicago, we were absolutely blown away by the production and costumes. I didn’t think I could love the movie anymore, but I did even more after the musical experience.

Destiny and I love ALL things Disney, and we are amazed at their attention to detail.  I’ve also taken the leadership course at Disney Institute, and their behind the scenes operational ethics are inspiring. For example, when Disney was making the Lion King musical, they spent months figuring out how to make the stage elephant blink perfectly, timely, and look real, simultaneously.

I especially can’t wait until I see the opening scene of the movie. I literally cry every time I see it, and I cried during the musical as well. They used live animals to enter from the back of the theatre, and walked to the stage (Pride Rock) —  and it was absolutely the most amazing and breathtaking thing I had seen in all my life.

Like many of you, I’ve seen The Lion King, via DVD, more than 25 times, and I know every scene and song. So to say, I’ll be especially sensitive watching the remake to ensure Disney didn’t ruin my ultimate love affair with my DVD replay. This is an understatement. I’m sure Disney is feeling the pressure too, but if I know them at all, this too, will be A+ amazing.

So don’t underestimate the magic of Disney. Walt Disney and the entire staff thrive on his words: “If you can dream it, you can do it.”  And on Thursday, July 19, Disney. will. do. it. again! (Exhale)

The Lion King – Lyrics and Video to Hakuna Matata

The Lion Sleeps Tonight Lyrics & Video from The Lion King

 

Movie Review – Stuber

Movie Review - StuberAfter you watch Stuber, you’ll never look at your Uber driver the same way again. I’m a Uber consumer and could totally relate to this action comedy completely.

Big burly LAPD Cop Vic Manning (Dave Bautista) has an unusual day after he has lasik surgery. Vic has been working on a drug case for a while, tracking the main suspect (Oka Tadjo) aggressively. After Vic’s surgery, his daughter Nicole (Natalie Morales) takes him home, and he gets a tip about Tedjo. Vic attempts to drive himself, and basically demolishes a couple of blocks in his neighborhood. So he summons an Uber (Uber Pool, I might add) to take him to follow the case lead. Calm, friendly, OCD, sporting goods store worker by day, night Uber driver Stu arrives for duty.

This movie is funny and entertaining! Annoying at times though, because Stu is so mellow, but somewhat of a pussycat. He screams like a little baby during the grossly violent scenes. At one point, Vic says something like, “Take this gun — it’s a baby gun — it allows you to fire while crying.” LOL! All the actors did okay in their roles; nothing noteworthy; so don’t go in with overly high expectations despite the two lead characters.

Warning: while you may want to take the children, there’s excessive sex, nudity, violence, gore and profanity.

Definitely go see this movie for comedic relief after a long day. The laughter will be good medicine for your soul. Then sign up for Uber…and don’t forget to rate the driver “five stars” if you have an amazing adventure or learn a few things about “adulting” along the way.

Grade: C

Stuber vs Uber – Welcome to the Ratings Game, in Real Life

About The Peetimes: The movie has a lot of humor, so I’ve tried to not put Peetimes where there might be a gut-busting funny scene.

I would recommend the 2nd Peetime, which has no action and only a little humor.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Stuber. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for violence and language throughout, some sexual references and brief graphic nudity
Genres: Action, Comedy

Movie Review – Ma – Octavia Spencer in a Creepy Horror Thriller

Movie Review - MaIf Ma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy! Is that how the saying goes? If not, that’s how it played out in this horror-thriller. I just watched Ma, starring the beloved Academy Award-winner Octavia Spencer. This isn’t a scary movie per se, but it is extremely creepy; Octavia, of course, nails the role perfectly. I didn’t expect anything less from her.

In a small rural town, a single woman befriends a group of teenagers after they convince her to buy them liquor. After the woman notices a connection to the teenagers, she invites them to party at her house “for their safety.”

I enjoyed seeing Octavia stretch in another role. I also enjoyed the timing and that the plot didn’t take long to build. Additionally, I liked the character surprises sprinkled in that made me think back to something said or shown earlier in a scene. Sorry — I can’t elaborate more without spoilers.

If you are a horror movie fan or just like creepy stuff, this is for you. The movie is rated R, contains moderate sex and nudity, severe violence, profanity, alcohol, and intense scenes. If you enjoyed the 1976 Carrie movie, then this is somewhat of a modern day version of it.

Enjoy the film and a Icee, but don’t ask Ma to buy it for you – LOL!

Grade: C+

About The Peetimes: While it was a little difficult choosing Peetimes, I have 3 for you to pick from, all around 3 minutes long. As this is somewhat of a creepy (not scary) movie, it was risky picking good times for you to leave and not miss part of the back story. The 3rd Peetime is best, but don’t be late returning or you’ll miss a crucial scene.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Ma. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for violent/disturbing material, language throughout, sexual content, and for teen drug and alcohol use
Genres: Horror, Thriller

Movie Review – The Best of Enemies

Movie Review - The Best of EnemiesThis biopic is set in Durham, North Carolina, in 1971. First of all, the plot took me by surprise, given the magnitude of racial tension that still exists. This is not your normal racially-charged kind of black-versus-white-movie where tensions escalate, folks get hung, justice is never served, and everyone walks out the movie theater quiet and mad as hell. Nope, this one is completely different.

Durham is faced with a court-order to desegregate its schools when the black school becomes severely damaged, and those students need a place to learn. Unfortunately, the whites are against the blacks coming to their school, so a court-order is issued, and the town must figure out how to solve the problem themselves with little financial help from the State. The State calls upon the help of a Raleigh organizer known for his success in implementing charrettes.

char·rette /SHəˈret/ (wiki)
a meeting in which all stakeholders in a project attempt to resolve conflicts and map solutions.

During the span of the Durham charrette meetings, two co-chairs are selected who are the most vocal/influential in the white and black communities, respectively; then more community members discuss issues and concerns, a senate is developed of representatives that will vote on desegregating the schools overseen by the co-chairs, and an open-forum is held where everyone from the community are invited to witness the voting process.

Ann Atwater (Taraji P. Henson) and C.P. Ellis (Sam Rockwell) are chosen as the co-chairs. C.P. is the president of the Ku Klux Klan and Ann is an aggressive and “by any means necessary” community activist. The two of them know of each other very well and the thought of working together for the charrette makes their blood boil, but they agree to co-chair for selfish motives. C.P. is a typical KKK member with a family and owns a gas station. He has a son with Down Syndrome that doesn’t live with the family, but in a nearby psychiatric center. While C.P. is a tough guy filled with hatred, his weakness and soft spot is his ill son. Despite the hatred Ann has for C.P., she uses this weak spot to forge their Best of Enemies relationship.

While the relationship isn’t like that seen in the movie Greenbook, Ann softens C.P.’s heart, one artery at a time. The dynamics of how their role in the charrette plays out is really interesting and thought-provoking. C.P. discovers the void in his life as a child that influenced his membership into the KKK may no longer be valid, but that epiphany comes with drastic consequences. However, his newfound friend comes to his rescue, yet again.

Overall, the acting was good. The plot kept a good pace and didn’t dilly-dally to get to the climax. Ann’s brass and sassy humor will have you laughing throughout the entire movie. In addition, Taraji’s acting was spot-on, right down to that walk (I chuckled a couple of times watching that walk).

On the other hand, the plot doesn’t provoke a need to discuss the issues with friends later on after seeing the movie. The movie will, however, stimulate some self-reflection on how we treat others. But, given that our country seems to be widely-divided right now and sometimes mirrors the 60s and 70s racial undertones, I’m not sure many people will leave the theater creating a charrette of their own, or singing Kumbayah. Wait for the credits at the end to discover how C.P. and Ann’s friendship evolved after the charrette experience.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: It was difficult finding good Peetimes for this well edited and well paced movie. At times, it seemed like the start of a scene would make a good Peetime, but then the plot thickened, adding value to the story. I would suggest suggest the 2nd Peetime.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Best of Enemies. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for thematic material, racial epithets, some violence and a suggestive reference
Genres: Biography, Drama, History, True life story

Clever Moments You Might Have Missed Watching The Horror-Thriller Movie Us

Jordan Peele movie poster for Us
Absolutely, you need to see Us twice.

We all know watching a horror movie comes with the expectation you’ll be screaming, and anticipating moments that you’ll be startled.  This oftentimes leads to you missing an important yet subtle symbol or scene. I loved Director Jordan Peele’s debut horror film Us, and found a lot of interesting and super-clever tidbits that make everything come together.

Hints and Clues to Notice in the Movie Us:

1. The rabbits appear again in this movie just like in Get Out. Also, I noticed that the rabbits were mainly just white with only a few brown or black ones mirroring America, or some of the many environments we work and live in. Other rabbit sightings: the daughter’s t-shirt; when the homeless guy was taken into the ambulance, he looked to be wearing a rabbit’s foot around his neck; and the doll the young Ade played with was a white rabbit.

2. Don’t miss that deer on the wall of the fun house; it reminded me of the deer at the beginning of Get Out.

3. The signal to move when the doppelganger family stood in the driveway was the Wakanda arms pose from the movie Black Panther.

4. The counselor and the parents thought the daughter was suffering from PTSD.

5. There was a subtle spider doppelganger in the vacation home.

6. The son, nor the mom, had rhythm when the song I Got 5 On It was playing in the car on the road trip. Hmmm (remember I said this when you watch).

7. Jeremiah 11:11 “I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape” appeared as a reference several times: on the homeless man’s sign in 1986, during the present day when he got put into the ambulance, and then as the son Jason noticed the time was 11:11 at the vacation house, just before the doppelgangers arrived.

8. The name of the fun house in 1986 when young Ade entered was called Vision Quest, but in present-day of the movie when Momma Ade entered it was called Merlin’s Nest Hall.

9. Jason’s mask is red, like the doppelgangers’ clothing. More importantly, why does he have a mask in the first place? (Remember I said this, too.)

10. Jason growled like his doppelganger when he and his sister entered the neighbor’s house. Very questionable, or just a little touch of humor? (Remember this.)

11. Momma Ade and her doppelganger, Red, never seemed tethered like the others, as they didn’t have synchronized movements like some of the other copycat pairs. (And again, remember I said this…)

12. The scene of Momma Ade crying reminds you of the Get Out movie character Chris Washington, crying before he was sunk in the chair by the teaspoon-stirring Virginia.
13.  Jordan Peele has been making a cameo appearance in both his movies that no on would notice.  He does the voice of what sounds like a dying rabbit in Get Out and in Us.
14. While there were no extra scenes before or during the credits, Jordan Peele did list the doppelganger cast names in a unique way.  He listed the human cast name in regular color, then he put the doppelganger name right to it in red…which is what color they all wore…and the lead doppelganger name is Red.

Lastly, I’ll mention those gold fabric scissors. I think they represent the act of cutting the ties or the tether between the two pairs. We often are our own worst enemy (as the movie subtitle states) and sometimes we need to sever that tether in order to escape what oppresses us.

While we all have a different “rabbit’s eye” that we view in life, what else did you notice in the movie?  Do you want to watch Us more than once to catch everything? Leave your insights in the comments below.

Movie Review – Us – Tons of Symbolism, Creepy, and a Great Time at the Movies