Category: Movie Reviews


 

hasan-minhaj-07

What’s up?

So I don’t have a lot of deep thoughts this Eid. The train is rolling so this will be assorted quick hits…

‘Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King.’  Uploaded to Netflix right around when Ramadan started, so I didn’t say anything that weekend.  But if you haven’t seen it yet, give yourself an hour to watch it.  Funny dude coming from a point of view we still don’t see often enough.

For someone who enjoys social media, I have to say…really didn’t miss it.  I’m back, and I enjoy being plugged in.  Do I need to be plugged in 24/7/365?  Don’t feel like it anymore (this space included).  Definitely shifting more into a ‘when I have something worthwhile to say/share, I’ll do it’ mode…

Having said that, I got all the texts, memes, notifications, songs and more while I was ‘away.’  They were all appreciated.  A lot of important phone calls made the past month.  The Dark Knight persona has served me well, but in terms of the truth of my life, it’s always nice to be reminded I’m not ‘alone’.  Not at all.

The future has never looked better; I’m looking forward to sharing my journey with you in due time.

Peace!

 

 

batmanandbill

Bob Kane created Batman.  We know this because we’ve seen his name in the ‘Created By’ credit for more than 70 years now.

Bill Finger is the person who, among other things, came up with the idea of the Bat logo on the chest.  And wearing a cowl instead of a domino mask.  And Bruce Wayne.  And Gotham City. And the Joker. And the blue and black color scheme. And ‘the Dark Knight’.

All of which begs the question…

HOW IN THE BLUE HELL IS BILL FINGER ONLY RECENTLY GETTING HIS DUE?!?

The Hulu documentary ‘Batman and Bill’ is the most comprehensive single piece that tries to rectify this creative wrong.  The short version of this story is classic Hollywood: Bob Kane was connected to the publishers and personality wise much more driven by celebrity and public validation.  Bill Finger (as the second paragraph alone illustrates) was more the ‘creative genius’ type, more interested in craft and ideas than notoriety.

Marc Tyler Nobleman is pun intended, the hero this story deserves.  I won’t ruin all the details of the journey for you; I will warn you that on a human level that has nothing to do with comics, you’ll feel a level of pity, disgust, and contempt at how the lives of Bill Finger and Bob Kane played out as Batman became one of the most iconic characters in the world.  Thankfully, ‘Batman and Bill’ ends on a happy note.  With a level of sarcasm, I’ll say it ends with one of the best parts of ‘Batman v Superman’…

The hardcore fans will find it; if you like documentaries and ‘behind the scenes’ stories, it’s excellent in that regard as well.

 

southside-you

I’m here for more biopics moving in the direction of ‘A Day in the Life’ over trying to capture a person’s whole story in 120 minutes.  ‘Southside With You’ is the better of the two features that came out about President Obama last year.

Already a big part of their mythology, the movie dramatizes the first date of Barack and Michelle, when they went to go see ‘Do the Right Thing’.  Parker Sawyers and Tika Sumpter both do great giving us the essence of these two people, years before they were even plotting to end up where life took them.

As I said up top, I love the day in the life approach, but the pitfall in going that route in biopics is stretching reality for the sake of dramatization.  First date, are you getting more information about this person you already have some level of interest in?  Definitely.  Are you getting their entire back stories on the first date?  Even in a movie, not very likely.  Michelle grills Barack about his dating past, he says he’s been in serious relationships with white women, but has grown weary of always feeling like the outsider.  That’s great character detail and feels very organic in a real and a movie first date.  Barack deep diving into his rocky relationship with his father?  Felt a little more forced.

As a whole though, solid date movie, and at less than 90 minutes, it moves quickly.  Streaming on Netflix, worth checking out if you didn’t catch it in the theatre.

 

dearwhitepeople

For the oldheads among us, the double victory run of the studio system acknowledging that a) there’s an audience for ‘Atlanta’, ‘Insecure’, and ‘Get Out’, and b) not only that, but it’s quality storytelling, continues with the Netflix version of Justin Simien’s ‘Dear White People.’  And I know I’m not the first to say this, but I agree it’s an improvement over the film.  Taking full advantage of the platform, a line of dialogue in the film that serves as backstory is nearly always fleshed out into a half hour episode that gives the audience more empathy for ‘why’ even characters you may not gravitate toward, do the things that they do.

Was the film geek in me biased from episode one with the ‘She’s Gotta Have It’ visual tributes?  Sure, but nods like this are subtle in each episode.  (Quick setup for the completely uninitiated: like the film, the story is set off when a blackface party is thrown by one of the fraternities on a predominantly white campus).  Justin directed a few of the episodes, I noted Tina Mabry’s name in the credits, but if you have to pick one episode, yes, the now Academy Award winner Barry Jenkins ‘Episode V’ is the strongest.

Ten not quite half hours.  I honestly wasn’t planning on getting through the whole season in one weekend, but sometimes the story keeps you that engaged.

Check it out.

 

the-beatles-8days

Ron Howard’s tribute to the rise of Beatlemania, is a good movie, if not a great one.

‘Eight Days a Week’ is made for the hardcore Beatles fan, which is its blessing and its curse.  If you’re invested in the mythology of the Fab Four, you know this story, and you’ve probably seen 90 percent of the footage here somewhere else, whether it be ‘The Beatles Anthology’ or one of the excellent docs that focus on John or George.  Doesn’t mean this film doesn’t work for what it is.  It’s still cool to see, like everyone else, the Beatles were working small clubs for little money before they became a phenomenon.  The focus on their brief run as live artists drive home the point that beyond the marketing and the pop stardom overdrive, these were four talented musicians. (I always thought it was cool that even though John and Paul were the obvious leads, there was always a spotlight song for George and Ringo in the early albums/shows.)

It’s not the farthest reaching comparison, but with so much info already being public knowledge, I’d like to see whoever makes the next Beatles documentary take the approach Spike Lee has done with Michael Jackson: pick one of the iconic albums, set the time and place in the world and in the artist’s career, and then break down the track list and everyone who was influenced by it.

I’m nitpicking some because we’re definitely in a golden age for documentaries.  ‘Eight Days a Week’ is still worth checking out if you love the boys from Liverpool.  On Hulu, iTunes and most digital platforms.

 

JLA-AlexRoss

It’s a dope trailer.  And the song of course, clinched it for me.

To borrow another title from that catalog, Don’t Let Me Down Warner Brothers.

Enjoy!

 

 

chuckbarris

We lost Chuck Barris last week.

If I’m being generous, I have ‘cloudy’ memories of the Gong Show.  I do remember ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’ as Clooney’s first film as a director, and the scene below was a heavy influence on the last short I directed ‘Santa’s Third Wheel’ (love story, body language over dialogue).

Rest in Peace Chuckie Baby.

 

 

OFF-THE-WALL-2016-EDITION-Epic-–-2016

While my childhood was one of many defined by what came next, as an adult I can’t really argue with anyone who feels ‘Off the Wall’ is a superior album.  Spike’s documentary captures all the reasons why.

As the title suggests, the first half covers the journey and how (absurd as it sounds now), Michael Jackson was having a hard time figuring out how to be taken seriously.  He was the bubblegum kid singer, he was the novelty at the front of the novelty act the Jackson 5.  As (a nice interview choice here) Kobe Bryant explained, young Mike was a hardcore student of his craft.  Not just studying Sammy Davis Jr’s moves, and James Brown’s moves, but how the industry treated them as black stars.

After ‘the Jacksons’ became a success after leaving Motown, it was time.  The concert footage really captures why ‘Rock With You’ is one of my favorite videos.  No one (in all the good and bad ways) was more theatrical than Michael Jackson, but he could blow you away with nothing but the microphone in his hand.  A great vocalist.

The last third of the film is the track by track breakdown.  Everyone from Questlove to his brothers, to Stevie Wonder breaking down ‘the last great disco record.’ Rock With You. Off the Wall. She’s Out of My Life. I Can’t Help It. Turn this Disco Out.

Yep, that album still holds up.  So does this doc.

Was a Showtime exclusive for a long time, now you can rent it on iTunes and I assume your other digital channels.

 

Hans.Zimmecbr

Been on a Hans Zimmer kick all day.  Of course I’m biased, but after John Williams I’m pretty sure he makes my favorite scores.

This movie was divisive, but the score was great (in my opinion).

Enjoy!

 

 

jedisteps

So last night around this time I was in Texas with Aaron and my old professor Dr. Rodriguez talking about ‘Trojan War’ and the Business and life.  I’m familiar with Southern hospitality because of my roots but it was still a fun night for myself and Aaron and judging by the immediate feedback it seems the feeling was mutual.  I talked on a live microphone about a lot of the things many of you are used to hearing me say here: I’ve had an incredibly blessed life I wouldn’t trade with anyone else, I have more I plan to do, but the state of the world and my age has reignited my desire to be very active in helping the next generation do things I probably won’t see.

So short version I was on full Kenobi mode last night, thus today’s song choice.

Enjoy!