Tag Archives: gang

NOCTURNAL ANIMALS (2016) – My rating 7.5/10

nocturnalanimalsThis unusual psychological thriller is a story within a story that takes you on a surprising journey. Not knowing what to expect, I was delighted by how well Nocturnal Animals kept the audience fine tuned into the events as they happened, despite the constant flipping between the novel and the real life story of the reader.

Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) received a manuscript written by her x-husband, Edward Sheffield (Jake Gyllenhaal) along with an invitation for dinner during Edward’s upcoming visit to Los Angeles. Susan is currently married to businessman, Hutton Morrow (Armie Hammer) who is unfaithful and currently having an extra marital affair throughout the movie. During her marriage to Edward, Susan deemed Edward a failure as a writer and ended their marriage when she terminated their child by having an abortion without his knowledge, 20 years ago. She is convinced his novel, which he sent to her, asking for an opinion, was nothing more than revenge for her behavior when they were married.

As Susan starts to read the novel titled, Nocturnal Animals, she becomes so engrossed in the story she can’t put the manuscript down. Edward had sent the novel to prove that he was not a failure and that he was quite capable of writing a successful novel. The movie actually flips to the novel about a family man, happily married to India Hastings (Ellie Bamber) with a daughter on family vacation, when they encounter the Ray Marcus gang (Aaron Taylor-Johnson – gang leader; Lou (Karl Glusman – gang member); Turk/Steve Adams (Robert Aramayo – gang member), who forces them off the road. The three thugs beat Tony Hastings, (Jake Gyllenhaal) the family man in the novel, kidnap Tony’s wife and daughter then drive off with Tony and dump him somewhere along side the road, unconscious. With Tony’s wife and child missing, he eventually hooks up with a Lt. Graves (Graham Beckel) who helps him search for his family and the Marcus gang.

Nocturnal Animals continues to flip between the novel and real life showing us and Susan the terrible flaws in her character and judgement. The novel holds you to the edge of your seat and will keeps you guessing about what becomes of Susan, her husband and his affair. I was well entertained, surprised and thrilled — Nocturnal Animals is definitely worth seeing, great performances, great story.

{BTW, Aaron Taylor-Johnson won the 2017 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture,  for Nocturnal Animals!}

Save

CHI-RAQ (2015) – My rating: 8/10

ChiRaqChi-raq is not an easy film to critique.  It’s based on a 2,000 year old Greek play and has a lot of controversy around the film, not to mention a stigma attached to the director, Spike Lee.  I will try to report the facts as I saw them.  Probably at this point, not many have heard or seen this movie.  You may not have even heard of the Greek play from which it was derived.

A Little Greek HistoryLysistrata (/lˈsɪstrətə/ or /ˌlɪsəˈstrɑːtə/; Attic Greek: Λυσιστράτη, “Army Disbander”) is a comedy by Aristophanes. Originally performed in classical Athens in 411 BCE, it is a comic account of one woman’s extraordinary mission to end the Peloponnesian War. Lysistrata persuades the women of Greece to withhold sexual privileges from their husbands and lovers as a means of forcing the men to negotiate peace—a strategy, however, that inflames the battle between the sexes. The play is notable for being an early exposé of sexual relations in a male-dominated society. The dramatic structure represents a shift away from the conventions of Old Comedy, a trend typical of the author’s career. It was produced in the same year as the Thesmophoriazusae, another play with a focus on gender-based issues, just two years after Athens’ catastrophic defeat in the Sicilian Expedition.

Chi-raq pronounced (“shy-rack”) is a nickname given to Americas third largest city, Chicago. Chicago was given this nickname because there are more murders and violence that occur in Chicago than the war in Iraq. Walking the streets of Chicago is like walking in Iraq with all the murders, robbery, gang bangs, and acts of violence.

Modern Chi-raqLysistrata (Teyonah Parris) who is in love with aspiring Rapper Demtrius “Chi-raq” Dupree (Nick Cannon) ends up moving in with her neighbor Helen (Angela Bassett), a book-loving peace activist who lost her daughter years ago to a stray bullet.  Lysistrata is disturbed because of the war between Chi-raq’s Spartan gang and the rival Trojans, led by Cyclops (Wesley Snipes) plus the fact that the Trojans set fire to her apartment while she was in bed with Chi-raq.  Adding fuel to the fire, Patti, an 11-year-old neighborhood girl, falls victim to a drive-by shooting, leaving her grieving mother, Irene (Jennifer Hudson) to plead for anyone with info to come forward. Even after a reward is offered by a local Church congregation, led by fiery anti-gun-violence activist Father Mike Corridan (John Cusack), no one is willing to identify the killer.  Desperation resulted in the Spartan and Trojan women swearing off sex with their men until the fighting stops.  Women across the city and eventually the world joined the boycott.  Their chant:  “No Peace, No Piece”  —  Chi-raq is a searing satire of gun violence in America.

Chi-raq’s message is great but the movie is not for everyone.  It’s truly designed for the targeted audience of young gang bangers and wanna be thugs.  The language, profanity, sex and violence is plentiful.  The slang is deep and in some cases, too ambiguous to decode.  All in all, the message comes though and you will be entertained.  Chi-raq is filled with stars. Samuel L. Jackson narrates the story and there’s lots of eye candy, male and female.

 

TSOTSI (2005) – My rating: 8.5/10

TsotsiAs I started watching Tsotsi, I had a deep loathing for the main character.  Tsotsi, played by Presley Chweneyagae, was a ruthless gang leader in Johannesburg, Africa.  I wondered what happened to make such a young boy so evil and amoral.  As the movie progressed, I found myself becoming more compassionate but not forgiving because his crimes were not easy to process.  By the end of this film, which spanned over a 6 day period, I was moved to tears.  In 2006, Tsotsi won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film as well as nominated for a Golden Globe award for Best Foreign Language Film.  Tsotsi was directed by Gavin Hood who was also nominated for a couple of European awards for his endless work on this film.

Tsotsi has a profound message and will cause you to do some soul searching.  Love can heal many folks.  The absence of love can do much damage and cause many significant problems.  I believe this movie should be seen by all, if only to get you thinking about who you are when it comes to a situation like this in your own backyard.  Tsotsi is on DVD and is available on Netflix’s instant watch.  I urge you to check it out.