Tag Archives: movie review

June: What I Watched

Because of everything that has been going on lately, I wanted to seek out my own education of history in this country that I might not have learned in school.  So, in addition to posts and articles, I watched a series of documentaries and movies that I want to share with you today. I will include whether the film had profanity, sexual content, and violent content for trigger warning purposes, as well as for parents who are trying to find content for their kids.

Just Mercy – This movie has been made available for free through the month of June (so if you plan to watch this, you only have a short amount of time left, or you can rent it later if you want).  It was a spectacular film.  Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx are phenomenal actors, first of all.  But the story itself was filled with heartbreak and hope.  It follows the true story of Harvard attorney Bryan Stevenson who starts an organization in Alabama to help people on death row and Johnny D, a wrongly accused black man waiting for his execution date.

Even though I knew the ending of the story, the twists and uncomfortable turns really exemplified their bravery and the failings of the justice system.  There is profanity in the film.  The sexual content consisted primarily of a strip search which included vulgar comments.  The violent content included a bomb threat and a scene with a gun held to someone’s head, also the execution of one inmate.

13th – This was the first documentary I watched this month.  It follows the connection between slavery, a loophole in the 13th amendment, and the state of our prison system today.  More black men go to jail or prison (1 in 3) than white men (1 in 17) even though black people are the minority.  The War on Crime and the War on Drugs heavily targeted people of color and poor communities.  And when prisons became privately run, there was even more of a push for things like mandatory minimums since these organizations were only paid when the beds were filled.  It doesn’t lean more left or right but follows each president as they made choices to keep people in prisons and add more to the prison population.

There is profanity, nudity, and violent beatings and lynchings included in the historical content included in the film, but it was incredibly informative.  It is, however, geared more toward adults.

I Am Not Your Negro – The second documentary I watched based on the notes of American Novelist James Baldwin which were supposed to be for a new book that he didn’t complete before he died.  It includes conversations he had during his life on talk shows and speaking engagements, as well as letters he had written.  There were so many good takeaways from this film.  The conversation he has with a Yale philosophy professor was incredible.  He outlines in that conversation just how much systemic racism as affected his view of the average white man and why he doesn’t trust the average white man.

There is profanity, nudity, and pictures of lynchings included in the film as it pertains to that era of American media.

Selma – This followed Martin Luther King on the events leading up to the famous Selma march.  It was fascinating to see how everything connected, and how all of the people in the movement did not agree all the time.  Also, all of the intentional planning on King’s part, especially how he understood it would take national attention to change the treatment of black people, much like it is today.

There is profanity in this movie as well.  There isn’t much sexual content, though you hear at one point the sounds of sex, but nothing is explicit.  There is also the violence of what happened, and a lot of that violence is slowed down in the film adding an extra layer of heartbreak.  The violence includes a church bombing, the beatings on the bridge, and a shooting in a diner.

Birth of A Movement – This PBS documentary was under an hour, but it was about history I had never heard about before.  I mean, I had heard about the innovative film The Birth of a Nation, though I had never seen it.  But a lot of the hype around the movie was based on lies and was used to spread lies.  DW Griffith said that the movie was based on a book that reminded him of his childhood, but it was far from the Post-Reconstruction poverty that he knew.  President Woodrow Wilson, who initiated the Jim Crow Laws with the segregation of federal places was also a child of the Post-Reconstruction era which played a part in his racist actions. So, the fact that this was the first movie played in the White House had more to do with connections than the actual quality of the film.  William Monroe Trotter was a Harvard graduate journalist who also protested the film.  There is just such a different perspective shown in this film that I found invaluable.  Also, there are some good interviews with Spike Lee who had to watch this movie in film school to appreciate the techniques without any discussion about the context of the film.

There isn’t any profanity, but there is a mention of the rape scene in the Birth of a Nation movie, and there are pictures of lynchings that occurred in this era.

I really enjoyed using films as a new medium to expand my education this month. In the future, I may share lighter films or documentaries with different subject matters, but this month was filled with unforgettable, though-provoking film and I am here for it. If you have any suggestions for the future, let me know!

Ant-Man and The Wasp: No Spoiler Review

Michael and I don’t really get to go to the movies anymore since the baby was born.  But, thankfully, we have been able to keep up with our Marvel movies so far, thanks to my wonderful mom who came for a visit.

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So in the Marvel universe, there are comedies and dramas.  Ant-Man falls under the comedic category, most definitely.  Paul Rudd is hilariously dry and sarcastic.  Also, I have to say that Randall Park was probably my favorite supporting actor, who will always be known to me as Steve, the Asian Jim, from The Office.

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While the first Ant-Man was focused more on Scott Lang and his familial relationships, this movie shifted that focus to Hank, Hope, and their missing wife/mother, Janet.  Janet had been lost in the Quantum Void since Hope was a little girl, and they had always hoped one day they might be able to get her back.

One of the themes I love most in a lot of Marvel movies but especially this one is trust.  Trust in your friends.  Trust in yourself.  Scott not only has to rely on others, but he learns to be loyal and trustworthy to his friends as well.

Also, I really like the number of people without superpowers in this movie that have a big impact on the outcome.  Luis was hilarious, but he demonstrated loyalty and authenticity even in really crazy situations.  (The “truth serum” scenes were hilarious).

The only slight critique was the amount of subplot in the movie.  They seemed to distract from each other.  And I felt like the coming together of all of them was a little discombobulated.  It seemed that they tried to fit in a lot into this movie that none of it really stood out.

The movie takes place between Avengers: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War.  I would really recommend seeing both of those movies and the first Ant-Man movies before seeing this one.  There are a lot of references to these movies that explain a lot of the plot and themes in this movie.

Whether or not you have seen the other movies, I think you can still enjoy the humor and storyline of this movie.  Plus, the characters are endearing.  It’s not my favorite Marvel movie of all time, but it was definitely a great movie to watch.  4 out of 5 stars.  Definite recommend!

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Black Panther: A Review

For our Valentine’s Date, Michael and I saw the new Marvel movie, Black Panther.  I’ve been stoked to see this movie since I saw the trailer back in the summer.  I know that there have been a lot of great articles out there that articulate the amazing things this movie has done and is doing for the black community, such as this one from the New York Times.  But for my review, I just want to share my two favorite things about the movie from my perspective as a Marvel Universe loving girl.  No spoilers, I promise.

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My first favorite thing is the women in this movie.  Last year, I thought DC had really cornered the market on the female representation with Wonder Woman, but in this movie, there were three fierce, beautiful, intelligent women who kicked butt.  I call them the soldier, the spy, and the scientist (because I love alliteration and it works).  And even though I loved their fight scenes, car chases, and attitudes, my favorite part was that they each held to their own convictions.  Throughout the film, they each get told in one way or another that they are naive, or that they are assumed to act a certain way (and this is coming out of an egalitarian society), but they stick to who they are and what they believe.  In the end, they each prove themselves by just being themselves.  I’m afraid that I can’t give too many specifics, though, because of spoilers.

The second favorite thing is the set design/cinematography.  The sweeping landscapes and deep, rich colors of Africa are pronounced throughout the film.  My absolute favorite set, though, was the throne room of the Jabari tribe.  A close second is the throne room in Wakanda.  But what I loved the most was the intertwining of the traditional with the technologically advanced.  When I think of futuristic cities, I usually imagine pristine, minimalist buildings.  But in Wakanda, you had what seemed ancient ruins mixed with hovercrafts.  There was a point in the movie where they showed a part of Wakanda where people were selling things in a market, and a hoverbus goes by.  I wanted to pause the movie and just get lost in all of the details – the ivy growing along the buildings, people communicating from their bracelets.  It was absolute perfection in a way I hadn’t thought of before.

Overall, I highly recommend the movie.  Like in most of the Marvel movies, there are amazing themes of redemption and mercy, understanding where people come from, and caring about the people around you and doing what’s right.  Definitely in my top five favorites in comic book movies of all time.

The Dark Tower: A Review

I haven’t read this book series by Stephen King, and truthfully, when I walked into the theater, I had forgotten the series was by Stephen King.  I probably would have skipped it if I had known (I won’t even watch the IT trailer.  That thing scarred my childhood).  But I’m glad I didn’t.

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We went to the first showing at our favorite theater.  They were serving brunch and it was delicious.  It was also cheaper, as most first showings of the day usually are.  And it wasn’t that crowded either.

But the movie, itself, was phenomenal.  Talking to Michael afterward, we both agreed that if the Marvel and DC blockbusters didn’t play this summer, this would have easily been our favorite of the season.

The story follows this boy who is being haunted by these dreams of a dark tower, and a series of scenes that involve a man in black and a gunslinger.  Everyone thinks that they are just a reaction to trauma and loss in his own life.  But when the dreams become a reality, he goes on an adventure to another world in order to save his own.

It is not a scary movie, despite being based on a series of a very popular horror/thriller author.  To me, it was a straightforward, good vs bad adventure.  The plot was simple.  There were some graphic-ish scenes of violence, but not gory at all.  I’m thinking of one character who dies and you can see the hole on the forehead.  But no blood or guts.  The bad guy mostly killed by telling the person to stop breathing or by setting them on fire.  But you don’t see them on fire.

Idris Alba and Matthew McConaughey were amazing.  McConaughey wasn’t playing the kind of role I’m used to seeing from him, but he did really well.  It made me want to know more about the man in black, where he came from and why he was so bent on destroying the tower.  But perhaps that’s the point.  To get people to read the book series.

This was our last movie of the summer season, and I feel like we ended on a high note. On our way home in the car, we listed our favorites. It came in after Spider-man: Homecoming and Wonder Woman as a strong number three.  Definitely, a recommendation in the theaters or for a night at home.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: A Review

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Michael and I went to the Moviehouse & Eatery on Saturday, this time to see Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.  I don’t have a real comprehensive review like I usually do, but instead, just a few thoughts to share.

  1. It’s definitely a movie to see on a large screen, maybe even 3-D.  It is visually stunning, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets a couple of award nominations for the CGI or the costumes.
  2. The plot, to me, was like being on a rollercoaster.  There was a slow build up at the beginning, then they hit you with a lot of information all at once (kind of like they are trying to catch you up to everything so you can understand the story), and then it was one action scene after another until you come to a complete halt at the end.
  3. I liked the idea that love was defined not by chivalrous acts or protection, but by trusting the other person enough to make their decisions on their own.
  4. I was a little disappointed by the ending (no spoilers, don’t worry).  I respected one of the character’s values all throughout the movie.  It was the loyalty to those values that helped the other character to grow.  Then the character just throws those values away in the end.  Not a fan.
  5. I loved the Pearls.  They definitely made this movie what it is.  Loved what they portrayed about beauty, love, and forgiveness.
  6. Rhianna’s character was interesting.  I liked the idea of her character, but I wish I could have seen a little more depth to her story.

Would I recommend this movie?  If you are a 3-D kind of movie watcher, then definitely see it in the theaters.  Otherwise, I think a home rental is sufficient enough to enjoy the film.  I wished that the movie would have been a little meatier with the plot, but the visuals are spectacular.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: A Review

First of all, Happy New Year everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful New Year’s Eve and a great start to the year!

This past weekend, Michael and I celebrated our anniversary.  One of the things we did was see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

Taken from IMDB.com

Taken from IMDB.com

The movie follows a man named Walter Mitty (played by Ben Stiller).  He lives a pretty normal, almost dull, life working for Life Magazine in the negative assets department.  It’s so dull that Walter frequently zones out from the real world to his imagination, one where he goes on adventures, gets the girl or creates great art; however, this is no time to live in a fantasy world.  The magazine is transitioning to an online magazine, and everyone’s job is in jeopardy.  As the last print issue is being pulled together, the powers that be want the final cover to be a picture taken by a photographer named Sean O’Connell who promises that this picture is the best he has ever taken, a true transcendence.  Alas, the picture is missing, and it’s up to Walter Mitty to recover the picture.

The movie is absolutely gorgeous.  They shot it on location in Iceland, the most beautiful sceneries I have seen in a while.  There is this one scene where Walter is longboarding on this winding road surrounded by mountains.  It was simply beautiful.  I could just get lost in some of those sweeping shots.

You do have to suspend belief most of the time.  It’s pretty hard to believe a guy who has been working behind a desk can easily navigate the Himalayan mountains.  I don’t think they were going for accuracy, though.  I think the moral of the story is to live and experience the present instead of hoping for a different reality, or you will miss out on some pretty amazing things.  Stiller’s acting was great.  Wiig was kind of flat, although I think the love story aspect was merely a support for the larger journey for Walter.  This isn’t a romance story.  It’s meant, I think, to be a personal growth journey.  I hesitate to use the word epic because I don’t think it quite reaches that height, but it’s similar.

The soundtrack is also pretty awesome, very chill songs, some remixes from the late 60s to early 80s.  Good driving music.

I’m torn between whether I would recommend this for the theater or Netflix.  As far as cinematography, it’s a definite theater must see.  However, the plot could easily be a Netflix night at home.  So, what movies have you seen lately?  Would you recommend them?