Captive State and all the images you see in this review are owned by Focus Features
Directed by Rupert Wyatt
I still haven’t seen those Planet of the Apes movies, but I hear they’re pretty good; especially that first one which I recall being a rather big surprise for people. The guy’s only done a few other things since then, none of which I’ve seen, but hey! If you’re gonna go in without context, try to go all the way! I mean seriously, I hadn’t seen a trailer or even heard about this movie until I was trying to figure out what I was going to see after Captain Marvel, so this is one big question mark for me which is USUALLY a good thing in trying to get the most out of that initial experience, but it also means that I can easily get smacked up the head by something bafflingly awful which is its own special kind of torment. Will this movie I know nothing about live up to the expectations I don’t have for it, or will I be utterly disappointed by how bad this completely out of the blue failed to be as good as I envisioned it to be? Let’s find out!!
The movie takes place after aliens have already come down, kicked our butts, and have taken over everything; not so much to destroy the planet, but more like colonization where they keep us in line and plunder our natural resources. In Chicago, Gabriel (Ashton Sanders) is eking out an okay existence along with everyone else, but his late brother Rafe (Jonathan Majors) was part of a resistance movement that tried to attack the aliens and now he’s trying to do the same thing. However, there are a few roadblocks that are in his way. For one, there’s already a resistance movement making headway towards destroying the alien’s base in Chicago (some underground facility) which makes his paltry efforts seem inconsequential, and on top of that his late dad’s best friend William (John Goodman) is a cop that’s keeping an eye on him and also keeping an eye on anyone who maybe planning further terrorist attacks against their alien overlords. This has been made somewhat easy because for some reason everyone now has a bug (it’s unclear if its literally or figuratively) implanted in their necks to keep track of their movements at all time, and of course the authorities have gone all police state to keep people in line. Can this resistance group actually make a serious blow against their oppressors, and will Gabriel somehow be a key part to their plan without him even knowing it? What will William do when push comes to shove and he has to take decisive action against those who he’s sworn to stop from inciting more violence and angering the aliens? Is the twist gonna be that the aliens are actually Krypotnians, because this looks A LOT like Man of Steel.
Moonlight and all the images you see in this review are owned by A24
Directed by Barry Jenkins
I don’t get to see a lot of independent films where I live, and the few chances that I do get to see them usually involve a long drive to a faraway theater with exorbitant prices. Such is the case with this film which has been getting a whole lot of buzz recently, especially with Hollywood’s recent push to diversify itself (and with Birth of Nation having more baggage than they expected). My knowledge of LGBTQ+ cinema is somewhat limited, though even then I’m not even sure the best way to define that. I’m pretty sure that saying John Waters or Gus Van Sant are “gay filmmakers” is right on the money as their work often centers around LGBTQ+ characters and their struggles, but what about directors like Lee Daniels or Rob Marshall? Sure, you can point to most of their movies and point out themes and messages that can be relatable to those in the LGBTQ+ community, but would you put The Butler or Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides along alongside Gus Van Sant’s films? Hell, what about movies that are explicitly about LGBTQ+ issues but are directed by those who aren’t in the community such as Brokeback Mountain, To Wong Foo, or even this film which was written by a gay man (Tarell Alvin McCraney) but directed by a straight one? Look, I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who can give you a better answer to that question than I can, so I’ll just stick to what I at least PRETEND to know best; namely talking about the movies while making snarky comments. Is this the film that truly lives up to the ideals that Hollywood has failed to live up to and will get all the credit it deserves, or is this a mediocre endeavor that the cynics in the Academy will glom onto just to make themselves look better? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the life of Chiron and is presented to us in three distinct segments. We see him when he’s small and is known as Little (Alex Hibbert), when he’s a teenager and the nickname has been dropped (Ashton Sanders), and as an adult when he starts using another nickname Black (Trevante Rhodes), and in each one they show a little bit more of his struggle. What struggle is that exactly? Well it doesn’t take long to figure out that he’s gay which everyone around him seems to pick up on and, for the most part, use it against him. His mother (Naomie Harris) is dealing with her own problems with addiction so this just seems like an unbearable inconvenience for her and plenty of kids in school just bully him because he seems different. Now it’s not like the whole world is against him as a local couple, Juan and Teresa (Mahershala Ali and Janelle Monáe), try to give him some guidance in his life, and he has a friend named Kevin (Jaden Piner, Jharrel Jerome, and André Holland) who tries to keep his spirits up even though he’s got his own growing pains to work through and his own share of bad choices to make. Will Chiron ever feel accepted in a world that seems tailor made to keep him down? How will decisions that he and his family make at certain points in his life affect him later on? Most importantly, WILL YOU JUST KISS HIM ALREADY!? YOU BELONG TOGETHER!!