Category: Movie Reviews


$1.2 Billion. You’ve all seen it by this point but as usual won’t be too detailed…

Someone half joked they should go ahead and give Kevin Feige the Thalberg at the Governor’s Awards this year (which is basically the Academy acknowledging someone has had a Hall of Fame career as a producer). It’s a funny line but I mean… he’s got to get it someday right?

We’ve all been trained to think of the great film series as trilogies (Star Wars, the Godfather, the Lord of the Rings, etc.) We’ve just witnessed a nearly universally agreed upon great film series told over TWENTY PLUS FILMS. It’s absurd. We’re all even conditioned now to not get up until after all the credits are rolled. They’ve changed the movie going experience.

As far as this film on its own, ‘The Dark Knight’ is the last time I remember everyone (film geeks, hardcore fan boys, casual fans, adults, kids) ALL being this happy with a sequel walking out of the theatre. The nitpicking can begin after repeated viewings, but as I started telling people Friday morning, ‘It’s as fast a three hour film as I can remember.’ From the first scene to the last, you’re in. The payoffs feel earned all the way through.

What’s really scary now is what’s next. The last ‘Skywalker’ film is coming out this year, and it’s lot of ‘Well OK’ right now. This generation of Star Wars is supposed to be ‘we have women and diverse leads now’ but the MCU can very easily take that thunder. DC seems to have found its way by finally saying ‘Don’t worry about a ‘Universe’; this is this story and sure we’ll reference other characters in this world from time to time.’ You’re telling me the next generation of Marvel films can’t start being true one-off stories (and probably do it much better with an already well established Universe)? My, my, my…

Genuinely looking forward to seeing it again in the theatre…

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Oh yes…

So, other than giving me bittersweet flashbacks of the young Moroccan girl who was the first one to call me habibi, I can’t say enough good things about the new Hulu series ‘Ramy’.

The premise is super simple, Ramy is a young Muslim American living in New Jersey trying to find his place in his own culture and his place in the world while making his way in modern day society. ‘Master of None’ came to mind for some obvious reasons but you quickly have to put that comparison away. Aziz’s story was/is about a young New York actor with only passing references to his Muslim heritage.

‘Ramy’ goes all in.

All in to the point where I know there are words and phrases and customs used for in jokes here that killed me that many of you may not realize why it’s funny. All in to the point that the personal life history of the character (the Muslim girl whose maybe ‘too’ traditional for you, the Jewish girl you connect with because, ‘not celebrating Easter’ for example, is a better bonding point than you would think, the white person whose a little too attracted to your ‘otherness’ and not interested enough in you as a person (the sister’s story), there was a lot of ‘Oh damn’ as I worked through the ten half hours. Let’s leave it at that.

The cliffhanger at the end of episode ten…I don’t know where we go from here. But I want to find out.

High recommend, even with my obvious bias.

I mean…

This woman is my generation’s Michael. There’s no more debate. I’m old, that might not have been up for debate for a while. But this concert film closed the book on that. Michael, mixed with Tina Turner. I’m also the product of HBCU grads, my childhood had the Homecomings and the Bayou Classic trips, so the visual themes she used for this show; I was one of those people sitting at home saying ‘Yeah, ya’ll don’t know about that.’ But it’s still super impressive. To say the least.

Another common link, which some of you share: I know how many months go into a crisp, ‘perfect’ live performance, whether you’re talking about a step show or a play for the theatre. So the part of the film I enjoyed the most personally was seeing her show how much goes into the ‘one night’ you actually see. Even if you’re not in the Beyhive, how can you not respect the damn work ethic?!?

Final point from me, which Very Smart Brothas devoted a whole post too: she covers one of the most iconic Black songs of all time at the end, ‘Before I Let Go.’ You didn’t know you wanted it. You didn’t even think anyone would have the guts to even TRY to cover it. Then you hear how she modernizes it and personalizes it for how soul has evolved since Frankie Beverly and Maze first did it, and even now I’m just listening to this like…

COME ON!!!

The movie is well worth the public discussions we’re all having.

Here’s her cover. I dare you not to enjoy…

Has DC figured it out? It’s starting to figure out DC has figured out its lane…

Every movie is its own thing (like most comic books). Some silly, some over the top, some stories great metaphors…

I’ve heard about the allusions to Taxi Driver and the King of Comedy for awhile, now that I’m seeing this trailer…

I’m intrigued. I’m definitely intrigued.

We shall see…

You know the rules by now; no spoilers but maybe some constructive criticism…

Horror is probably my least favorite genre but ‘Jordan Peele’ is a genre I love (like a lot of people, check those opening weekend receipts). I liked ‘Get Out’ more for a variety of reasons, but I didn’t hate this.

The legacy is deep, but at least for black actors, the Yale Drama School is definitely having a moment. Lupita, Winston Duke, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II has a minor but important role to play. There have been a thousand and one paths people have taken to become ‘movie stars’; it feels like it wasn’t that long ago the complaint was out there black British actors were taking all of ‘our parts’ because they were ‘better trained’. Hopefully we can put that foolish myth behind us.

Personally, I was all in for the first half hour, and as the story twisted and expanded, I didn’t lose interest, but my ‘suspension of disbelief’ started to get pushed. I can’t expand too much there without spoiling it, but I started asking questions (and somewhat ironically getting answers) before the credits rolled. Sometimes the best suspense is letting the audience not know why things happen.

Trying to think of more to expand upon without spoiling but I really can’t, so let’s cut it there. Great cast, enjoyable film, absolutely ridiculous this is the first time Lupita has been the clear number one on the call sheet.

It’s not an exaggeration to say I idolized Michael Jackson as kids. There’s no movie star, athlete or musician even close to his level now. So I’ll start there and add, my head hurt watching this, and I’ve seen/heard enough of the stories calling the centerpiece of this documentary an opportunist and a liar. I can’t prove anymore than you what did or didn’t happen so I’ll take the Oprah route and try to talk about this ‘one step removed’…

The artistry is one thing obviously, but for us reclusive, creative types, the way Michael carried himself was in some ways equally as appealing (for a while). Depending on where your biases lie, you have fun with some of the rumors you hear about yourself. Is he gay? No? Well, is he interested in black women? (I’ve had my own dances with these ‘false but no harm really done’ misdirections.)

But if you have people asking ‘Is he a pedophile?’ See… that’s WAY too far over the rumor line. That should never be something the people who like you/love you/want to believe you should have to wrestle with.

Next…

I’ve had over the course of my life, more than a handful of women confide in me their own stories of sexual assault.

(Taking a moment to let that number and that statement sink in.)

Every story is unique but there are some definite patterns. The power play taking complete precedence over the actual need for pleasure. Someone very familiar as the perpetrator (although the ‘complete stranger in a dark alley’ scenario does happen, but by percentage maybe not nearly as much as we (men) think). And because the perpetrator is familiar and more powerful, the no win situation: people don’t believe you and your self-value is crushed, or people believe you and multiple relationships are permanently altered in a negative way (and the guilt that comes with that.)

Washington and Me Too and Corporate America. I think most of us who are self aware have a better vocabulary for this now. Again, I don’t know what happened either way, just speaking to patterns I recognize.

Now the music. We’re talking the Jackson 5, the Jacksons, all of the solo stuff. I think Michael is just way too big and too iconic to ‘cancel’. If I had to make an educated guess, I’d say we’re looking at a Roman Polanski/Woody Allen situation: this is some of the best art of a generation but now there’s a moment where we wince or at least have to think about things we didn’t want to think about it before when we experience it.

So no one wins.

‘Finding Neverland’ is hard to watch but worth the conversation we’re having…

The more, the merrier I say. The more, the merrier…

Have a good weekend everyone!

Enjoy!

The next building block we’ve been working on is putting some of my more serious clips together in a highlight reel. So here it is.

Major credit here to my brother Jesus for putting this (and the other clip reels together.) Any TV or film actor worth a damn will tell you the editor can make or break a performance. My guy has been doing that for me the past year.

Feels like all the old work is organized now. On to the future…

Meanwhile, enjoy!

So who’s ready for ‘Endgame’?

There are plenty of major and minor twists in ‘Captain Marvel’ so as usual I’ll try to stay away from talking about those for anyone who hasn’t seen this yet. But I liked pretty much every turn the story took.

A few other highlights:

Mendelsohn is, my guy. It’s not even Character Actor Envy, it’s admiration. Maybe our best ‘That Guy’ working right now. Even (especially) the humor they gave him worked.

The third act fight scene is par for the course now, but for the millionth time in the past twenty five or so years I thought, ‘And we still can’t get another entertaining Superman film?’ Hell, even ‘Shazam’ is tracking to be fun. What a shame…

Annette Bening, Djimon, Gemma Chan… you could make a damn good smaller film with those three as the leads, they’re all further down the call sheet on this one. Marvel really is the gift that keeps on giving.

Recommend of course. The hits keep coming with this Universe.

A day of a Beatles playlist, and rehashing old stories with the homies that made me laugh myself to tears three different times, and now I’m out of tears.

In a ‘We Are the Champions’ mood.

So let me go backward one more time for this one. Very smart producing choice to get the people in the crowd warmed up to open the show. And maybe this year was the anomaly with so many good movies people liked but…

(Not sure if the Oscars really need a host now…)

Anyway, enjoy!