Queen & Slim and all the images you see in this review are owned by
Directed by Melina Matsoukas
Seriously, how weird is it going to be when Daniel Kalula finally sells out? True he was in that Johnny English sequel that I haven’t actually seen, but his career since 2015 has been an absolutely sterling one with great performances in Sicario, Get Out, Black Panther, and Widows. Now he’s back with this film which looks to be one of the standout films of awards season, so we can only hope that his star continues to rise or that his inevitable cash in project is one that is utterly hilarious; like when Laura Linney showed up in that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel or how Nic Cage’s first film after Leaving Las Vegas was one-two-three punch of awesome nonsense called The Rock, Con Air, and Face/Off. ANYWAY! With this movie taking on such a hot button subject matter with a great cast and a stylish looking presentation, does it manage to be one of the best films of the year or were we all fooled into seeing an utter train wreck? Let’s find out!!
Ernest Hines and Angela Johnson (Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith) who I don’t recall ACTUALLY being called Slim or Queen in the movie, are out on a rather mediocre first date when the Sword of Damocles that hangs over all people of color in this country comes crashing down on their heads in the form of a traffic stop. Within minutes of doing absolutely nothing, Ernest has a gun pointed at him and Angela is reaching for her cell phone to get this on film for both their sakes. The racists cop (Sturgill Simpson) doesn’t take long to shoot the unarmed woman in the leg and Ernest has no choice but to tackle the cop, wrest the gun away, and in the ensuing conflict he shoots the cop dead; leaving the both of them in a dire predicament. Know what is waiting for them if they get taken alive (which in and of itself seems like a slim possibility) Ernest and Angela get in the car and start driving as fast as they can to Angela’s uncle’s place a few hours away for shelter where they can regroup and come up with a plan. If they can somehow get to Florida and find a plane to take them to Cuba they should be safe at least for the time being, and so Uncle Earl (Bokeem Woodbine) gives them a bit of cash, a decent car, and the address of an old army buddy (Flea) who may just be able to get them that plane. Along the way however, they must contend with the closing in manhunt, staying under the radar, and making snap decisions on who they can trust, where they can hide, and just how much they can trust those they meet along the way. Can Queen & Slim manage to survive this journey and avoid the corrupt system that condemned them before they did anything wrong? What impact will their story have on the country and on those they meet along the way? Did any of those rich old jerks from Get Out think about these realities of being black in America when they were switching brains? I DIDN’T THINK SO!!
Widows and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Steve McQueen
Is it time for another cinematic confession? Alright, so I’ve never actually seen a Steve McQueen movie all the way through. I’ve seen bits and pieces of Shame and I haven’t seen 12 Years a Slave, but based on those films and what we’ve been shown of this one I get the feeling that I’m not gonna be the biggest fan of his work. What can I say? I’m not the biggest fan of overly oppressive mood pieces even if the subject matter justifies that tone, but unlike other kinds of movies of filmmakers that I’m not too fond of I’m rather open to what this guy has to say here because even if I don’t like what I see on screen at least I’m fairly confident that the director is trying to ENGAGE with their audience instead of completely alienating them (*cough* Eli Roth *cough*). Will this film be the perfect introduction to the director’s body of work, or did he already reach his peak and nothing else will quite measure up to it? Let’s find out!!
Veronica Rawlings (Viola Davis) is just having a TERRIBLE week! Not only did her husband (Liam Neeson) die in a horrible fiery explosion, two million dollars went completely up in smoke which she is now being held responsible for since said two million was STOLEN by Liam Neeson and his crew of crooks (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Jon Bernthal, and Coburn Goss) from a local gangster who’s the slightest bit miffed about all this. It’s made especially bad because said gangster Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry) is also running for local office against the golden boy Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell) and could have used all that ill-gotten gain to fund his campaign; presumably through shady 501(c) groups considering where the money came from. Thanks, Citizens United! Anyway, him and his brother Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya) have given Veronica a week to pay him back which is PROBABLY not all that feasible, but as luck would have it her husband left her a notebook that had detailed plans for their next heist; one that could not only pay back Jamal but will give her a nice payday to keep her afloat while she figures out what to do next with her life. She enlists the help of two of the widows, Linda and Alice (Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki) as well as Bell who is another person in need of some fast cash (Cynthia Erivo) to hopefully pull off this heist, though without any actual experience committing crimes, pulling guns, and breaking into places, their success seems dubious at best. Will Veronica and her slapdash crew of desperate widows manage to pull off such a dangerous heist? What exactly happened the night their husbands died, and could it have had anything to do with this plan that was left behind? Is it just me, or could this easily be an Amanda Waller prequel?
Black Panther and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Ryan Coogler
It’s time once again for the Marvel Money Machine to give us all yet another excuse to give Disney ten more dollars of our hard earned cash to people with super powers in profoundly silly costumes punch each other between humorous quips and callbacks to previous films! The sooner we declare Marvel release dates to be national holidays the better off we’ll all be (who DOESN’T like getting a Friday off!?), but until then the film critics must continue to go to the multiplexes, sit for two and a half hours as the lights and sounds dazzle our senses, and then tell you what you already know; namely that these are still good and that you’ll spend your money on it no matter what! Now as cynical as this never ending cycle of unimaginable profits can seem, it STILL manages to keep its head above water at least with critics by having that one thing that many other blockbuster franchises DON’T have. What was it? Oh right! Talent. With pretty much every one of these films, Disney went the extra mile of hiring talented and sought after filmmakers to play around with their billion dollar toys, and so far we’ve had a near perfect success rate! Okay, Jon Favreau didn’t QUITE capture lightening in a bottle twice with Iron Man 2 and there was the whole Ant-Man debacle with Edgar Wright, but for the most part they’ve had a good eye for picking out talent; especially considering they got Ryan Coogler of Fruitvale Station and Creed fame to start his blockbuster career with them. Will this be a monumental addition to an already astronomically successful franchise, or… well okay, there’s no chance this is gonna be BAD, but will it be… MEDIOCRE!? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins not long after Captain America: Civil War (so… presumably BEFORE Spider-Man Homecoming?) where T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is returning home to Wakanda to be crowned king after the death of his father T’Chaka (John Kani). Here, we all the important people in his life including his mother (Angela Bassett), his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), his top general and most dependable ass kicker Okoye (Danai Gurira), and an accomplished spy for the Wakandan military Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) who also happens to be his ex-girlfriend. Anyway, we spend some time with T’Challa as he’s getting used to the heavy burden bestowed upon him, but he doesn’t have much time to adjust as Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) from all the way back in Age of Ultron has resurfaced and is still on Wakanda’s shit list for stealing Vibranium like twenty years ago. With this chance at capturing one of Wakanda’s greatest enemies, T’Challa suits up to take the mantel of Black Panther once more and even takes Okoye and Nakia for backup. Things don’t go quite as planned however as the CIA operative from Civil War, Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) is onto Klaue as well, and Klaue seems to be working with a guy that REALLY has a grudge against Wakanda and is known simply as Killmonger (Michael B Jordan). Can T’Challa unravel the mysteries before him, and will he like the answers that he finds? What are these ruthless villains planning that could endanger Wakanda and the rest of the world with it? How exactly does he breathe in that thing if it doesn’t even have a mouth hole!?
Get Out and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Jordan Peele
2016 turned out to be a fantastic year for horror movies; not just for the ones that ended up on my best of the year list, but also the ones that aimed to be middle of the road seemed to step up their game and try harder than you’d normally expect from the genre. Now sure, 2017 started with The Bye Bye Man, but even 2016 had some low points with The Forest and Incarnate. Plus, we’ve also gotten the excellent, if problematic, Split not too long ago which is already one of the better films this year; horror or otherwise. Now we’ve finally gotten to the BIG one which is Jordan Peele’s directorial debut that’s been getting a lot of positive buzz from when it was first announced all the way up to now with those Fancy Schmancy “professional” critics who are raving about it after they saw the “Critics Screenings”. Well I had to drive thirty miles in the rain AND hail to see this damn thing, so it BETTER be as good as everyone is saying it is! Is this thoughtful and well-crafted horror film that everyone says it is and that we desperately need right now, or did the hype machine get out of control with this movie which admittedly can sometimes happen with horror films? Heck, I wasn’t the biggest fan of You’re Next, and that movie was instantly touted as a classic of the genre! Anyway, let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) heading off to meet her family for the first time in what is sure to be a painfully awkward experience for everyone. Sure enough, Mr. and Mrs. Armitage (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) are just as “down” and “hip with the youngsters” as you’d imagine from older white people, but Chris seems to know what he as getting into and is just taking everything in stride until he get back home after the weekend is over. Of course, things only get worse as Rose’s brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) enters the picture is an obnoxious dweeb as well as a bunch of the Armitage’s other white friends who are VERY excited to meet Chris. On top of that the Armitage’s have two black servants, Georgina and Walter (Betty Gabriel and Marcus Henderson), who look to have gotten the Stepford Wives treatment, though only Chris seems to be noticing this. Tensions mount higher and higher as more clues are uncovered by Chris and it’s starting to seem that he may be in more danger than he initially realized. Can he get out before he becomes the victim of whatever these white people have planned? What happened to Georgina and Walter that has them acting so strange? Did we SERIOUSLY get one of the best movies of the year from the guy who co-wrote Keanu? That wasn’t a BAD movie, but god DAMN is this a step up!!
Sicario and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Isn’t it great to that we start getting GOOD movies again? I mean sure, Black Mass had its problems but compared to some of the crap I had to sit through in the last two months, it was practically Kubrick. Now we’re getting this movie AND The Martian in the same week without a single bible thumping propaganda piece in sight! Does this tale about government agencies working against the Cartel manage to be one of the better films of the year, or is a disappointing procedural that will get lost in the shuffle by the time the Oscars roll around? Let’s find out!!
The movie is about Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) who’s head of some sort of tactical response team in the FBI stumbles across a horrifying crime scene during one of her missions where the Cartel has apparently been burying people they kill in the walls of the building. Okay… well it gets even worse when the team accidently sets off a trap bomb that may have killed any remaining hostages that the team thought were on the premises. Despite the awful day she had, the silver lining comes in when she catches the attention of Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) who offers her a chance to work with him on more direct missions against the Cartel. She agrees to go with him and meets with Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro) who’s a complete mystery and may not even be working for the United States in any sort of official capacity. Still, he proves to be very effective in the line of duty as he and Matt (along with Kate who’s still adjusting to their methods) work on operations that will definitely cut the Cartel’s legs out from under them. Still, she has her reservations to the actions they take and once her partner from the tactical response team Reggie Wayne (Daniel Kaluuya) gets in on it to, it’s clear that her conscious is getting the better of her and that Matt and Alejandro aren’t exactly who they seem to be. Will Kate decide that their methods, while unorthodox, are necessary for the war they’re trying to fight, or will she not allow herself to go through the mental hoops necessary to somehow justify their actions and her own?