Patti Cake$

I have been to New Jersey, I have seen people free style, but I have never, ever, been in a drive by.

There is my bad intro joke to talk about Patti Cake$. After I saw the trailer for this film, I assumed it would be culturally insensitive. I figured it would be a cliche coming of age story or a film about a group of misfits succeeding against all odds.

And yeah, it is definitely a little bit of both. Whoops.

Oh shit, did we get an Ali G cameo?!

Patti aka Patti Cakes$ aka Killa P aka…a lot of other nicknames (Danielle Macdonald), is a woman living with her mom (Bridget Everett) and her grandmother (Cathy Moriarty) in a small, poor community in Jersey. She has small part time jobs, but a lot of her money goes to paying bills for her family and medicine for her nana.

Patti’s mom was going to be a big singer in the 1980’s, everyone loved her, but then she got pregnant. Now she is basically nothing, getting wasted on karaoke night, spending more time in the bathroom than on the stand. And Patti? Well, she is a big rapper.

I mean physically, because she certainly isn’t famous. She can freestyle, she can spit the lyrics out, but she is still a bit afraid to perform, and no one takes her seriously, because she is fat and white. The only person who believes in her is Jheri (Siddharth Dhananjay), a pharmacist, who wants to be a producer. They are often looking for ways to break out, and Patti thinks there future lies in Basterd (Mamoudou Athie), an anarchist who lives in the woods alone and who, yes, can also create some sick tunes.

Also starring McCaul Lombardi and Patrick Brana.

Mix Tape
Oh yeah, the last missing piece of their group was Nana.

Dealing with the cultural insensitivity of this film is a hard one. A lot of people don’t take Patti seriously, because she is a white girl trying to rap, and it is not in her culture to do so. Yes she is poor, living in a very small house that is abusive, where music is a big part of her upbringing, and she has way too many responsibilities for her age, but she is still a white chick. Stories where a white person tries something that is technically part of a desensitized race in America, and then flourishes? Yeah, that is all sorts of fucked up. A character uses the term Culture Vulture in this film to describe her, which paints a perfect picture of how it looks to the outside world.

The good news is that she doesn’t bust into the rap game and change the world. She is given a lot of shit and rightfully so. She has had a shit life, but it doesn’t mean she should automatically go and win all the prizes and take what was not originally hers. I enjoyed that it wasn’t a standard film in that regard.

The music of course I have no interest in hearing, but the relationships between the characters is where it mattered most. This ends up being a story about a girl and her mom, their inability to see eye to eye about anything. The relationship between her and her best friend didn’t feel natural. The relationship between her and Basterd was very interesting, but again, something that just seemed forced.

Patti Cake$ has some interesting moments throughout it, but a laughable premise with quite a bit unexplained reasons for why she and her friends can stand each other. However, I saw this movie over a month ago, and I can still remember parts of their main song. So if anything, it has a catchy hook to it.

2 out of 4.

American Honey

I never wanted to see American Honey, that much I will tell you. For one reason, I am tired of movies that are American ________. I think I said that much in my American Pastoral review this year.

But from the images I have seen, to the cast list, it just did not look appealing. I didn’t see a real trailer for it or anything, just these few things and they turned me off.

Then I found out about its length. For films in 2016, surprisingly, there aren’t a lot of extremely long films. A few years ago it felt like half the Best Picture potential films were at 3 hours, everything else over 2.5. This year has been decent. But American Honey is 2:45, the longest major film this year outside of Silence I believe, which is also right around that length.

That is a lot of time to invest in a film that doesn’t interest me. But then it had to go and get nominated for six spirit awards, so here I am…

And here they are!

This film is about a girl named Star (Sasha Lane). We begin the film with her dumpster diving, grabbing not too old chickens and other food. She has two younger kids with her. They live with an older gentleman, who presumably gives them a roof over the head, in exchange for favors from Star. But then Star meets a group of people in a big white van going into a K-Mart. They look fun, they are partying, and one of them, Jake (Shia LaBeouf), offers her a job.

A job?! Just like that? Sure. She just has to meet them at a motel in the morning, and they will drive up to Kansas City. They sell magazines to rich people, live freely and unashamed. And after an uncomfortable time back at her house, she takes the two kids to sneak out of the house to leave them with a friend, hits the road, leaving her old life behind.

Ahh, free spirits. Hanging out in hotels, having sex with friends, and ripping off rich people with lies. And maybe discovering yourself along the way? Fuck if I know.

Featuring a bunch of people you haven’t heard of, like McCaul Lombardi, Arielle Holmes, Crystal Ice, Veronica Ezell, Chad Cox, Garry Howell, Kenneth Kory Tucker, Raymond Coalson, Isaiah Stone, and one more you might have heard before, Riley Keough.

And this is when LaBeouf discovered he is really an assman.

Sigh. American Honey. One of the longest movies of the year and one of the biggest wastes of time.

Here is what it shows well. Free spirited teenagers being free and uh, carefree, and living life. The conversation seems natural, I am sure a lot of the film was not scripted, hey might have even went into real people’s houses for all I know.

But in terms of enjoyment? There is little. The story is pathetic, the acting is just act natural. And it takes 2 hours and 40 goddamn minutes to tell the little story it has.

It is like an extreme example of an indie movie stereotype. It is in badly need of an editor or something to help move the story along. And of course in that long amount of time, it fails to still really give any sort of ending.

God damn stereotypes. I can’t see why it got nominated for six awards.

1 out of 4.