Tag Archives: brian tyree henry

JOKER (2019) – My rating: 9/10

Joker is a psychological thriller directed by Todd Phillips, who co-wrote the screenplay with Scott Silver. The film is based on DC Comics’ character, the Joker produced by Warner Bros. Pictures. An origin story set in 1981, the film follows Arthur Fleck, a failed stand-up comedian who turns to a life of crime and chaos in Gotham City. The trailers were vague but issued warnings of a dark movie that earned Joker an ‘R’ rating. While dark, Joker gave an in-depth look into an infamous character we never imagined.

In 1981, party clown Arthur Fleck/Joker (Joaquin Phoenix) lives with his mentally ill mother, Penny Fleck (Frances Conroy), in Gotham City. Penny is always asking Arthur to check the mail for a response to her letters, hoping that Thomas Wayne (Brett Cullen), her former employer, who is “rich and kind,” will rescue them from poverty. Gotham is rife with crime and unemployment, leaving segments of the population disenfranchised and impoverished. Arthur has hopes of making it big one day in a comedy club as a stand-up comedian. Arthur doesn’t know his mother is mentally ill or that he’s adopted or that she thinks Thomas Wayne is his father. Additionally, Arthur is suffering from malnutrition and has no friends or any other family. He also suffers from a neurological disorder that causes him to laugh at inappropriate times and depends on a social services program for his medication. Funding cuts close the social services program, leaving Arthur without any meds. While working as a hired clown, a gang of young boys attacks him causing Arthur’s co-worker, Randall (Glenn Fleshler), to lend him a gun. While entertaining at a children’s hospital, the gun falls out of Arthur’s pocket and he is fired. After being questioned by police, Randall lies and says that Arthur bought the gun himself. While on the subway, still in his clown makeup, Arthur was beaten once again, this time, by three drunken Wayne Enterprise businessmen. This is the beginning of the end for Arthur who becomes the Joker. There is a lot more story to come as his transformation becomes final.

Joker is a dark and sad story of the life of Arthur Fleck and how he becomes one of DC Comics’ most popular villains. While I’m not a fan of Batman, origin stories can be a good way to revitalize a story that’s been told over and over, enticing new fans to the franchise. Joaquin Phoenix is a tremendous actor, who has really shown the depth of his acting talent in Joker. Every frame was so believable, I really felt as if I knew Arthur/the Joker. In comparison to the TV series, Gotham, I could now relate to the chaos and living conditions in this story. From the riots to the murders, Gotham’s mayhem is understandable. Joaquin has joined the best of the best-played Jokers: Jack Nicholson – Batman (1989); Cameron Monaghan – Gotham TV series – (2015-2019) and Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight (2008). I was shocked to see how thin Joaquin had become, as he lost a whopping 52 pounds to create an authentic character and based his laugh on videos of people suffering from pathological laughter. Joker has grossed $272 million worldwide and set box office records for an October release. I think Joker was brilliantly acted, told a great and haunting story, created excellent cinematography scenes, made Phoenix’s make-up look awesome, and was directed flawlessly. I highly recommend Joker to those who love comic series and those who are not bothered by the warnings of darkness and violence in a movie. Check It Out!

[JOKER is Oscar-Nominated for Best Actor, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Adapted Screenplay — Totaling 11 Oscar nominations]

 

DON’T LET GO (2019) – My rating: 8/10

Don’t Let Go is a psychological horror-thriller directed and written by Jacob Aaron Estes, from a story by Estes and Drew Daywalt. Jason Blum serves as a producer through his Blumhouse Productions banner, alongside Bobby Cohen and David Oyelowo.

I took a chance and went to see Don’t Let Go, despite the fact I  never heard of it. This one flew way under the radar, as I really enjoyed it.

Don’t Let Go starts off with Jack Radcliff (David Oyelowo) who is a homicide detective, picking up his niece Ashley Radcliff (Storm Reid) from a theater, after her parents had forgotten. Ashley is somewhat detached from her parents, especially her father Garret Radcliff (Brian Tyree Henry) due to his bipolar disorder and past years of drug abuse. Jack decides to have a stern talk with Garret about his lack of decent parenting skills. The movie goes on to show the close relationship Jack and Ashley have developed over the years.

While bogged down in paperwork, Jack receives a disturbing phone call from Ashley desperately begging for help. Jack races to their house only to find Ashley, Garret and his sister-in-law dead. He also finds a box of cocaine beside Garret, which suggests Garret killed his wife, daughter and himself after consuming too much drugs, which caused him to lose control and go into a murderous rage. Jack blamed himself, thinking that his chastising of Garret sparked this murder-suicide.

Two weeks later, Jack receives a phone call from Ashley which indicates she is still alive. Mysteriously, Ashley is calling him from the past. Jack then realizes by changing events in Ashley’s timeline will cause changes in his own time, enabling him to re-write the past. He decides to covertly help her re-arrange events in her life in the hope of preventing the murder-suicide. It quickly becomes apparent that Garret was not responsible for murdering himself and his family but was murdered by someone else. Jack and his partner Bobby (Mykelti Williamson), who is also a homicide detective and close family friend, begins to uncover evidence of an underground network of drug dealing cops working for an unknown figure called “Georgie”. Garret’s old connections to the drug underworld finally caught up with him, allegedly leading Georgie to collect some old debts and kill Garret and his family, or so it seems.

Although, Don’t Let Go, in my opinion,  is a science fiction/fantasy movie, it was directed in such a way that you really start to believe this could happen.  Kudos to Jacob Aaron Estes for his creativity and direction.  There is a lot of story here that will require your deepest focus to keep up.  Things are going to happen quickly so keep alert.  “Georgie” must be cracked, the timeline must line up and Jack must convince someone that there is really a chance to turn this murder mystery around.  I highly recommend Don’t Let Go — Check It Out!

 

SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE (2018) – My rating: 8/10

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a computer-animated superhero film, based on the Marvel Comics character Miles Morales, aka Spider-Man.  Morales  becomes one of many Spider-Men as they team up to save New York City from Kingpin.  The film is produced by Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation in association with Marvel, and distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing.  Into the Spider-Verse  is the first animated feature film in the Spider-Man franchise, and is set in a shared multiverse called the “Spider-Verse”, which has alternate universes. The film was directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman from a screenplay by Phil Lord and Rothman.  I had never heard of the Spider-Verse but for good reason, this is the first of the Spider-Verse series.  Judging by the weekend box office of 2/3, $175,424,664 and over $347M worldwide, we will see more.  Actually, I liked this film and am having trouble distinguishing between other animated features as to which is the best one.

Miles Morales / Spider-Man (Shameik Moore) is a teenager who admires Spider-Man. He struggles living up to the expectations of his parents, especially his father, police officer Jefferson Davis (Brian Tyree Henry), who sees Spider-Man as a menace. After school, Miles secretly visits his uncle Aaron Davis / Prowler (Mahershala Ali) , who brings Miles to an abandoned subway station where he can paint graffiti. While there, Miles is unknowingly bitten by a radioactive spider and begins to develop spider-like abilities.  After an embarrassing encounter with a classmate, Miles realizes the changes he is undergoing as a result of the bite. Searching for the spider, Miles returns to the station and unintentionally runs into a particle accelerator built by Wilson Fisk / The Kingpin (Liev Schreiber), who wishes to access parallel universes to find alternative versions of his wife and son who died in a car crash.

****  SPOILERS  ****

Spider-Man / Peter Parker (Chris Pine) of Miles Morales’ universe, whose death inspires Miles to become Spider-Man, is trying to disable the accelerator while fighting off Fisk’s enforcers, Green Goblin / Norman Osborn (Jorma Taccone) and Prowler. Spider-Man also discovers that Miles has abilities similar to his. He vows to teach him how to control his powers, but is gravely wounded by an explosion during the battle that kills Green Goblin. Spider-Man gives Miles a USB drive to disable the accelerator and warns that the machine could destroy the city if turned on again. Miles then watches Fisk kill Spider-Man in horror before fleeing from Prowler.

While attempting to master his new abilities, Miles inadvertently damages the USB drive. At Spider-Man’s grave, Miles meets Peter B. Parker / Spider-Man (Jake Johnson), a depressed and worn-down version of Spider-Man from another dimension. Peter has been brought into Miles’s dimension by the accelerator and needs to return home, so he reluctantly agrees to train Miles in exchange for help stealing data to create a new drive. While breaking into Kingpin’s research facility, they are confronted by Fisk’s chief scientist Olivia “Liv” Octavius / Doctor Octopus  (Kathryn Hahn), who reveals that Peter will deteriorate the longer he stays in their dimension and eventually die.

Being a young person has it’s props.  An adult might get totally lost in this rather hectic story or not!  While I think the plot is excellent, I think you’d better pay attention or else.  I like the message this version of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse sends and I think the cast is outstanding.  There is much more to this story — a must see in order to understand the intensions of the writer.  This animated film is more organized than some of the others I’ve seen this year (2018).  Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is not for everyone, as this is strictly a children’s flick.  Check It Out, it’s worth it!

[Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is Oscar nominated for Best Animated Feature Film]

 

WIDOWS (2018) – My rating: 8.8/10

Widows is an action drama directed by Steve McQueen from a screenplay by McQueen and Gillian Flynn, based upon the 1983 ITV series of the same name. Widows is a British-American co-production. The plot follows a group of women who attempt a heist in order to pay back a crime boss after their criminal husbands are killed during a botched job.  I was thrilled to see Widows, as I heard it received raved reviews and 93% rotten tomatoes.  They were right, Widows deserved every good review it received.

Harry Rawlings (Liam Neeson) is a renowned thief who is killed alongside his partners, Carlos Perelli (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), Florek Gunner (Jon Bernthal) and Jimmy Nunn (Coburn Goss), during a botched robbery. Harry’s widow, Veronica Rawlings (Viola Davis), a Chicago teacher’s union delegate, is threatened by crime boss turned politician, Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry), from whom Harry and his partners robbed $2 million. Jamal is running against Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell), the son of the incumbent, Tom Mulligan (Robert Duvall) and needs money to help win the election.

**** SPOILERS BELOW ****

Veronica discovers Harry’s notebook, which contains a detailed plan for what would have been his next heist, worth $5 million. She decides to carry out the heist to repay his debt to Jamal who has his blood thirsty brother, Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya) watching the women’s every move.  Veronica recruits two of the other widows, Alice gunner (Elizabeth Debicki) and Linda Perelli (Michelle Rodriguez), to assist her. Since the fourth widow, Amanda Nunn (Carrie Coon), didn’t show to their initial meeting, Veronica visits her and learns she has a newborn child, so she opts not to mention nor include her in the heist. Alice is responsible for buying the getaway car and guns, while Linda is tasked with deciphering the blueprint in Harry’s plan.  Alice uses David (Lukas Haas), a real estate executive who identifies the blueprint as a  safe in Jack Mulligan’s home. In the meanwhile, looking for information, Veronica’s chauffeur, Bash O’Reilly (Garret Dillahunt) is murdered by one of Manning’s men. Linda recruits Belle (Cynthia Erivo), her children’s babysitter, to be their driver and Veronica visits the Mulligan home to ask Jack for protection from Jamal and to case the premises in advance of the heist, while the other women investigate the external security.

Obviously, I really enjoyed Widows.  The cast were the crème de la crème of actors who played their roles with outstanding precision.  The plot heats up with an intensity that will keep you guessing to the very surprise ending.  Widows has more twist and turns than you can imagine.  The style and flow of Widows reminds me of “How to Get Away With Murder”, only much more understandable.  I recommend this film to anyone who wants to see a good suspense feature with lots of twist, action and excitement.  Check it Out!!!