Tag Archive: tessa thompson


‘Thor: Ragnarok’

 

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So we all agree this was fun right?  Good.  So this will be an ‘actor’s review’…

If one thing bothered me consistently, it was Idris Elba.  Not as an actor or a character, but ‘how is Idris Elba the movie star the sixth wheel in this?’  Having said that, I’m sure one ‘third sequel on a Marvel franchise’ paycheck is equal to ten ‘leading man in movies only film geeks see’ paycheck (and that’s being extremely generous.  So it is what it is.

For we Adler disciples, seeing Mark Ruffalo inhabit all the best parts of Brando (just becoming the character, even in a popcorn movie) is a joy.  And in a time of deconstructing our Hollywood idols, by all accounts he’s a nice guy who is genuine in his social activism.  So double cool points.

Speaking of people ‘above’ being in movies like this, Cate Blanchett has always been in that tier right behind Meryl Streep in ‘she can play anyone convincingly’, so watching her ham it up for two hours was joyful too.  Really, this whole movie was well written and casted.

And as far as Tessa goes…beyond being a bad ass…using the ‘proper’ English accent, well…

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So yeah, all the recommends for this one.

 

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So I caught all the warnings, telling me to ‘prepare myself’ before I watched ‘Mississippi Damned.’  Whether it’s my age or my own secrets, I was less shocked than some by the ‘darkness’ of this movie.  But I’m incredibly glad it exists; without going off on a tangent, many of the issues brought up in this movie (which, as usual, I don’t want to spoil for you) aren’t talked about nearly enough.  Every family has their own issues to deal with, but (as expressed in one of the many powerful scenes in this film), when the older generation doesn’t even want to acknowledge what happened to their children, that’s how cycles continue unchecked.

I’ve heard Tina Mabry’s film referenced as the film that put Tessa Thompson on the radar of others.  As I’ve come to expect now, she’s great in her role, and in this particular film she’s part of a huge ensemble of solid black actors (some others you’ll recognize as character actors in other things you’ve seen).  It certainly isn’t the most ‘Hollywood’ film, but again, it’s a story that doesn’t get told enough.  If the ‘democracy of distribution’ that we’re moving further into makes it easier for films like this to get to their target audiences, then I’m all for it.

Now streaming on Netflix.

Coming Soon – ‘Creed’

mikejordan

MAN…

MAN…

 

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First, the macro level:

For my generation, we all looked up to Spike (with John and Reggie not far behind).  and in those days, it’s fair to say we all had some form of a ‘hero complex.’  Without getting into a much bigger conversation about black leadership in America, what we grew up on is ‘one voice up front that speaks for everybody.’  We kid each other now, but I can recall many early meetings with friends that usually started with someone walking in the room more or less saying ‘I’m here now, so you got what you need to make a movie!’

What hip hop has evolved into for the past couple of generations, and the (thankful) direction black filmmakers have been successfully growing into is the much more true to life idea that there are several points of view, even those who contrast with each other, that are all ‘authentically black.’

(How’s that for a segway into the micro?)

Dear White People is built around four archetypal characters every black person (especially if you went to college) will recognize: Tessa Thompson as the biracial kid who’s metaphorically yelling Black Power louder than most of the ‘fully’ black kids. Tyler James Williams as the (closeted homosexual) kid who’s not quite black enough for the brothers, but too black to hang out with the white folks.  Teyonah Parris as the bougie black person who goes a little too far to prove she’s not like ‘those hood black people.’  Brandon P. Bell as the good looking, and polished legacy kid whose every decision is setting himself up to be ‘The Guy’, right on down to the white girlfriend.

The jokes come quick and hit the bullseye when the come, especially in the first half.  There’s a Gremlins joke that I think is in one of the trailers that’s still funny.  There’s a throwaway line that you have to take as a direct reference to Dawn on Mad Men (where Teyonah appears often but doesn’t give her the opportunity to show the range and the sexuality that she does here, and I LOVE Mad Men.)  There are other direct and indirect references to Spike in the film.  Do I see Dear White People as School Daze 2.0?  Yes I do, but that’s by no means an insult.

Do I think it’s a perfect film?  No.  I have nitpicks in the third act and (like a true Spike Lee joint) there were some tone changes and convenient circumstances I didn’t really go all in for.  But as a first film?  Go back now and watch She’s Gotta Have It.  Even Spike has publicly said how much now he hates some of the choices he made with the third act of that film.  Look at the progression Ava DuVernay has made I Will Follow to Selma.  The young brother who directed this film, Justin Simien, he’s clearly got talent and he has a ‘voice’ that’s not what everybody else is doing.  I for one, look forward to seeing what he comes up with next.