Tag Archives: gugu mbatha-raw

MISS SLOANE (2016) – My rating: 8.5/10

misssloaneMiss Sloan is not for everyone however it’s still a well done work of art. It’s actually bordering on a Wall Street flick, filled with all the banking lingo, complex deals and fast paced wheeling and dealing we’ve seen in movies like Wolf of Wall Street and the 1987 Michael Douglas Oscar winning, Wall Street. Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain) is a Washington D.C-based lobbyist who advocates for universal background checks.  Some might deem Miss Sloane as a little slow because there’s a lot of discussions that include fast talking and a lot of legalese.   However, there is a point when the movie connects all the dots and becomes so interesting that it has you sitting on the edge of your seat.  Elizabeth Sloane is a unique character because she will do anything to win.  That wouldn’t mean a whole lot if we were talking about a person who didn’t have a fat IQ and the experience of a 70 year old but that’s not the case here.  Elizabeth Sloane is so far above the norm, most people in the business would have a problem keeping up with her.

Miss Sloane opens up with Elizabeth making the following quote, “The winner plots one step ahead of the opposition, and plays her trump card just after they play theirs.”  This gives you an idea of her mantra used throughout the movie, which is what she chanted to her lawyer.  The law firm Elizabeth is currently representing, wants her and her team, which consist of several in-tern lobbyist, including her friend Jane Molloy, (Alison Pill) to go against toughening gun control laws but Elizabeth is not game.  When approached by Rodolfo Schmidt (Mark Strong), the president of Peterson Wyatt, she decides to switch lanes and quit her current employer to work toward the Heaton-Harris Amendment which would require background checks for those trying to purchase firearms.  After making the transition to Peterson Wyatt and a new team of lobbyists, Elizabeth meets Esme Manucharian, (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who is the firms authority on gun control. Together they give a brilliant performance that will have you reaching for the tissues. There are so many surprises in this movie, your interest is guaranteed, even if you don’t understand all the lingo.  I enjoyed Miss Sloane and therefore recommend it as highly entertaining and sends a profound message.  As usual, I’ve stopped because of spoilers but there is so much more to Miss Sloane, check it out to see actors like John Lithgow as U.S. Senator Ron M. Sperling and Sam Waterston as George  Dupont.



FREE STATE OF JONES (2016) – My rating: 9.5/10

FreeStateOfJonesWow, what a surprise! This movie will go down as a masterpiece.  Part truth and part fiction, it’s filled with hate but rich in history of the shameful past of this country’s treatment of Blacks and  determination to keep slaves as indentured servants for as long as they live. Free State of Jones is inspired by the life of Newton Knight (Matthew McConaughey) a poor farmer who lead a rebellion against the Confederacy in Jones County, Mississippi during the Civil War. Jones’ army consisted of deserters and run away slaves creating a mixed race community.  Included in that community, was Rachel (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) a former slave who later became Newton’s wife and Moses Washington  (Mahershala Ali) an escaped slave who became a major player in Knight’s rebellion.  Before Newton started his rebellion, he served in the war for a year, then deserted when his nephew was drafted and killed.  The film brings you through the Civil War and beyond the Emancipation and the KKK to a trial in the 1940’s that accuses and convicts one of Newton’s grandsons of being 1/8 Black and as such, places him in violation of the law that doesn’t allow a Black man to marry a White women in Mississippi, where he and his wife lived.

You won’t get warm fuzzes watching Free State of Jones, quite the opposite. From bloody torn limbs of men shot up in battle to the hanging, raping and mutilation of slaves, the picture is pretty grim. McConaugheyAndKnightYou will get to see 2 hours and 19 minutes of a really great movie that holds nothing back about the Civil War, Emancipation, the Monolithic South, and Reconstruction.  This is great story telling by Leonard Hartman and Gary Ross who also has done an excellent job of directing this movie.  The acting is brilliant as this may be Matthew at his best.  Strangely, there is a resemblance between the real Newton Knight and Matthew McConaughey, as shown.  I highly recommend Free State of Jones.  It’s one of the best films I’ve seen this year. I expected an almost empty auditorium instead, only the first row was available plus a few seats here and there.  It’s more than worth your time and money to see it.

NOTE:  Gary Ross along with The Huffington Post have documented why the world or at least the US should see this film.  It tells the truth as well as disperse 4 myths about the Civil War and slavery.  The following was taken directly from the Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amb-andrew-j-young/free-state-of-jones_2_b_10704230.html Free State of Jones also tells the truth about Reconstruction. It does not indulge the mythology that simple emancipation at war’s end meant true freedom. Far from it. It is perhaps the first film to show the bitter disappointment in the post-war years as the jubilation of victory gave way to the harsh reality that Confederates would return to power, institute sharecropping instead of slavery, penal servitude instead of simple servitude and the “apprenticeship” of minor children instead of more blatant “ownership.” When some in Congress tried to fight these events, the Ku Klux Klan rose up in force and there was no Northern will to combat it. So it is all the more remarkable that a white southern farmer stood up to this oppression even after the war when so many of his contemporaries would not.”


Note: Any fiction altered the actual words spoken but not the historical events!

BEYOND THE LIGHTS (2014) – My rating: 7.5/10

BeyondTheLightsA beautiful, sexy, singer/raper named Noni, who is played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, hates her life because she is pushed around and exploited as a sex symbol instead of using her singing talent to pursue the music she really has a passion for singing.  Minnie Driver plays Macy Jean, Noni’s  over bearing mother who goes along with any and everything suggested for her daughter’s success, even if it’s not what’s best for her.  Depression sets in and Noni  is on the verge of suicide.  Enters Kaz, played by Nate Parker,  who proves to be her knight in shining armor.  Watching Noni’s transformation into the person she ultimately becomes, makes for an interesting movie.  I’ve never seen Gugu Mbatha-Raw in a role like this.  She really made me believe she was the character she portrayed.  Danny Glover plays Captain Nicol,  Kaz’ father who is also a bit over bearing.  These 2 parents (Macy and Captain Nicol) can be considered control freaks but loving and concerned about their children.   Beyond the Lights was a tad bit slow near the beginning but picked up nicely and stayed entertaining throughout the remainder of the film.  India Jean-Jacques played Noni as a 10 year old who knew she had a talent for singing and a love for Nina Simone, in particular, the song Black Bird.  Beyond the Lights sends a pretty good message and is worth your time to see it, however if you don’t feel like spending big screen money, it’s a good candidate for DVD viewing in the comfort of your home.

[BEYOND THE LIGHTS is nominated for Achievement in Music (Original Song)]