If Beale Street Could Talk is a romantic drama directed and written by Barry Jenkins, based on James Baldwin’s 1969 novel of the same name. It follows a young African-American woman who, with her family’s support, seeks to clear the name of her wrongly charged lover and prove his innocence before the birth of their child. There’s been lots of marketing of this movie, beware of over zealous advertising! Still, I liked the film.
Clementine “Tish” Rivers (KiKi Layne) and Alonzo “Fonny” Hunt (Stephan James) have been friends their entire lives. As children, they did everything together, from taking baths to playing in the streets. As adults, they enter a romantic relationship together and hold a bond between them that can’t be broken. After deciding to get married, they struggle to find a place to live as most landlords refuse to rent apartments to black people. Eventually they found a place in a warehouse that is in the process of being converted to an apartment building. Levy (Dave Franco), the Jewish landlord, agrees to rent it to them at a reasonable rate due to the fact that he enjoys seeing couples in love, regardless of their race.
**** SOME SPOILERS ****
One night, when Tish is shopping at a predominately White grocery store, she is harassed by a White man. When he begins to assault her, Fonny physically throws the man out of the store. Officer Bell (Ed Skrein), who was nearby witnesses the incident but because of his racist background, attempts to arrest Fonny. Bell reluctantly lets Fonny go when the lady who runs the grocery store vouches for the couple. Soon after the incident, Fonny is arrested for raping a Hispanic woman, despite the fact that it would have been virtually impossible for Fonny to travel from the scene of the crime to the apartment where he was arrested. The case against Fonny is considered strong due to Officer Bell’s testimony, who says the he saw Fonny fleeing the scene plus Victoria Rogers (Emily Rios), the victim, picks him out of a line-up then disappears after identifying Fonny as her rapist. Tish, as well as Fonny’s friend, Daniel Carty (Brian Tyree Henry), were with Fonny and would be his alibi at the time of the rape, but their testimony isn’t considered reliable due to Tish’s romantic relationship with Fonny, and Daniel’s previous conviction for grand theft auto (despite his claim to not even know how to drive a car).
While the film is dealing with the most delicate of matters, it doesn’t give any closure to the story. If Beale Street could Talk opens at the apartment where the Rivers family live. A routine family dinner is taking place, showing the closeness of the family and their status in the community. Learning of Tish’s pregnancy, they decide to invite Fonny’s family over to share the news. The scene gets down right hilarious as insults and accusations fly between the two families. Tish’s mother, Sharon Rivers (Regina King) has a way of showing her feelings through a series of facial expressions that would scare off most but then speaks in the most kind and soft voice that would make most melt. Tish’s father, Joseph Rivers (Coleman Domingo) is funny and supportive. Their story is heart felt and is worthy of anger directed at a tiresome racial problem that makes no sense. The saddest part, is we are still experiencing racism at the highest level and still we struggle to rise above it, tell our stories and suffer in hopes the problem ends before the world perishes. Hate is a terrible thing and we could achieve so much more without it. I enjoyed If Beale Street Could Talk, I just think it was a little over marketed. Despite the appearance of a low budget the performances were quite believable, the story has much more to offer so Check it Out!
[If Beale Street Could Talk is Oscar nominated for Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score]
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS, STREAMING
Tagged adrienne hunt, alonzo "fonny" hunt, annjanue ellis, clemtine "tish" rivers, coleman domingo, dave franco, diego luna, dominique thorne, ebony obsidian, ed skrein, emily rios, ernestine rivers, fin wittrock, frank hunt, hayward, if beale street could talk, joseph rivers, kiki layne, levy, michael beach, milanni mines, officer bell, pedro pascal, pedrocito, pietro alvarez, regina king, sharon rivers, sheila hunt, stephan james, teyonah parris, victoria rogers
“The Equalizer 2” (aka, The Equalizer II or EQ2) is a vigilante thriller, directed by Antoine Fuqua. It is a sequel to the 2014 film, The Equalizer, that was based on the TV series of the same name. This is the fourth collaboration between Washington and Fuqua, following the “The Equalizer”, “Training Day” (2001), and “The Magnificent Seven” (2016). I loved “The Equalizer” and was anxious to see “The Equalizer 2”. I didn’t think the sequel wouldn’t live up to the original. Perhaps Denzel should have lived by his principal not to make sequels of his own films. Read on to see what changed.
A retired marine and intelligence operative, Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) now lives in a diverse apartment complex in urban Massachusetts. While working as a Lyft driver he also helps the less fortunate, aided by his friend Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo). Anonymously McCall helps a local bookstore owner’s daughter, who had been kidnapped by her father (Adam Karst), he also mercilessly beats a group of men for drugging and raping a woman, as well as helps Sam Rubinstein (Orson Bean), an elderly Holocaust survivor, who is looking for a painting of his sister who was separated from him when they were transported to different camps. In addition, after discovering his apartment courtyard has been vandalized, McCall accepts an offer to repaint the walls from Miles Whittaker (Ashton Sanders), a young resident with an artistic but troubled background. One day McCall’s friend, Susan, is called to investigate an apparent murder-suicide of an agent and his wife in Brussels along with DIA operative Dave York (Pedro Pascal), who is McCall’s former teammate. After the investigation, they return to their hotel where Susan encounters assailants. McCall sets out on a path of revenge after one of his friends is killed. With his hands full of all the ensuing investigations he finds himself enmeshed in, Robert McCall forges on to resolve the mystery.
All in all, the plots were good but a bit to many. Denzel’s acting was superb, as usual. The following parts were brilliantly acted by Bill Pullman as Brian Plummer, Jonathan Scarfe as Resnik, Kazy Tauginas as Ari and Garrett Golden as Kovac. The pacing is what I really had a problem with. McCall’s actions were the same as in the original. He would make note of the time on his watch and complete his punishment to the guilty within the short period of time he allotted. Watching McCall in action was outstanding and quite satisfying considering the reason his prey was his prey. Reading papers, making decisions and pondering his thoughts was down right boring at times. In other words, Fuqua needed to pick up the pace. If there is to be another sequel, I hope the words of the many critics won’t go unnoticed. I still enjoyed the “The Equalizer 2” and think you won’t be disappointed.
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged adam karst, ari, Ashton Sanders, bill pullman, brian plummer, dave york, denzel washington, garrett golden, jonathan scarfe, kazy tauginas, kovac, melissa leo, miles whittaker, orson bean, pedro pascal, resnik, robert mccall, sam rubinstein, susan plumer, the equalizer 2
This Kingsman sequel is an action spy thriller directed by Matthew Vaughn and written by Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman. Talk about an over the top fantasy — this is it! The special effects were of the likes which I’ve not seen since the last Kingsman. This is really thrilling in every sense of the word. If it’s excitement you want, you’ve come to the right film. Crazy is as crazy does and Kingsman: The Golden Circle does a whole lot of crazy.
A year has passed since Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton) and the secret organization called Kingsman saved the world from Richmond Valentine’s neurological wave broadcast. Eggsy has finally taken his late mentor, Harry Hart’s (Colon Firth) title of Galahad and is now living with Crown Princess Tilde of Sweden (Hanna Alström). One evening, Charlie Hesketh (Edward Holcroft), a former Kingsman trainee who lost his arm and vocal cords during the Valentine incident, lays in wait and attacks Eggsy as he is returning home. A car chase ensues and Charlie loses his cybernetic arm, which hacks into the Kingsmen servers, destroying their headquarters and killing all their agents in Britain with a missile attack. Being the only surviving agents, Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong) follow the Doomsday protocol, which leads them to Statesman, a secret American organization posing as a bourbon whiskey distillery in Kentucky. There, they discover their US counterparts, Tequila (Channing Tatum), Champagne “Champ” (Jeff Bridges), who is also head of the US organization and Jack Daniels / Whiskey (Pedro Pascal). Merlin’s counter is Ginger Ale (Halle Berry), who wants to work more in the field. At this point, they are briefed about a secret terrorist organization called The Golden Circle headed up by Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), head of the world’s largest drug cartel.
Poppy announces that she has developed and distributed a drug that inflicts it’s user with a blue rash that causes eventual mania before moving on to paralysis then death. She makes her demands to every world leader in exchange for the antidote but of course, they are working against time. The Kingman and Stateman begin their mission by following Charlie’s ex-girlfriend Clara Von Gluckfberg (Poppy Delevingne), who has developed the rash as well as Elton John, Eggsy’s girlfriend and hundreds of thousands more.
I must admit, the first Kingman movie had all the surprises in it for me. The special effects were out of this world and pretty new. I don’t feel this sequel equaled or topped the first one. The Golden Circle actually got a little sloppy, crazy and unbelievable. The film is 2 hours and 21 minutes long but still managed to keep me entertained. Some scenes were down right silly and not even Elton John could make a difference. There is still a whole lot of story to be explored along with some interesting concepts. I think if nothing else, it’s a complete joyride with a great fantasy plot. It’s definitely worth checking out!
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged champagne champ, channing tatum, charlie hesketh, clara von gluckfberg, colon firth, crown princess tilde of sweden, edward holcroft, eggsy, galahad, gary unwin, ginger ale, halle berry, hanna alstrom, harry hart, jack daniels, jeff bridges, julianne moore, kingsman: the golden circle, mark strong, merlin, pedro pascal, poppy adams, poppy delevingne, richmond valentine, stateman, taron egerton, tequila, whiskey
The Great Wall is the Best Picture I’ve seen of 2017 so far. Of course it’s only February, but I must say, I really enjoyed it. I thought it was an impressive story with a different and profound plot. There’s a significant amount of humor, which will ease the pain of feeling like you’ve come to see a horror flick. I will try to review The Great Wall without giving anything away because the element of surprise is truly a surprise.
In the time of the Song dynasty during the reign of the Renzong Emperor, a few miles north of the Great Wall, a mercenary group originally consisting of twenty men searching for black powder are being pursued by Khitan bandits, who have already killed a lot of the men. Upon escaping, the remainder of the men seek refuge in a cave but are attacked by something unknown, leaving only William (Matt Damon) and Tovar (Pedro Pascal) alive. During the attack, William slashed off part of an arm with the hand in tact, (the rest had disappeared) so the two decided to bring the arm with them as proof of the kill in hopes of identifying what it was William had slaughtered. The next day, they stumble upon the Great Wall and are taken prisoner by Chinese soldiers of a secretive military sect called the Nameless Order, led by General Shao (Zhang Hanyu) and Strategist Wang (Andy Lau).
The Nameless Order is a Chinese military order commissioned by the Imperial Court of the Song Dynasty as a special division of the Imperial Army conceived for the sole purpose of repelling a horde of Tao Tei, who rise every 60 years. The commanding officers are shocked upon seeing the severed hand, as the Order believed the invasion was still weeks away. Suddenly, a wave of Tao Tei attack the Great Wall, and the battalions are mobilized. The Nameless Order is divided into FIVE SPECIAL UNITS: the Melee-specialist Bear Troop, the Acrobatic-specialist Crane Troop, the Archer-specialist Eagle Troop, the Siege Engine-specialist Tiger Troop, and the Horse-mounted Deer Troop. During the battle, William and Tovar are freed by Peng Yong (Lu Han), an unskilled soldier from the Bear Troop and William, in turn, saves him during the attack. William and Tovar’s battle skills earn the respect of General Shao (Zhang Hanyu) and Commander Lin (Jing Tian), leader of the Crane Troop. Later, William and Tovar meet Sir Ballard (Willem Dafoe), a European who, like them, had ventured east twenty-five years ago in search of black powder and was also taken prisoner. Ballard has been serving as an English and Latin teacher for some time. The three foreign mercenaries discuss developing plans to steal black powder from the storeroom and flee while the soldiers are occupied in battle. Later, Strategist Wang meets William and explains the situation and further identifies the Tao Tei.
I have avoided any information about the Tao Tei or further plots as not to spoil the movie. You may think you know what coming but you don’t. The Great Wall is truly exciting. The special effects are fantastic and the story is very good. The five special units were the most colorful, structured spectacular display of an army I’ve seen. Each unit had it’s own color and it’s own function. It was magnificent to watch. Even the beating of the drums were spectacular and rhythmically spellbinding. Ego and pride are not the driven force in these armies, love and romance does not get in the way and revenge is not a motive. Plans are executed by a driven leadership who wants the best for all the people at any cost. I highly recommend The Great Wall in standard or 3D.
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged acrobatic-specialist crane troop, andy lau, archer-specialist eagle troop, black powder, commander lin, general shao, horse-mounted deer troop, jing tian, lu han, matt damon, melee-specialist bear troop, pedro pascal, peng yong, siege engine specialist tiger troop, sir ballard, strategist wang, tao tei, the great wall, the nameless order, tovar, willem dafoe, William, zang hanyu