The Hate U Give

I have heard about The Hate U Give at least two years ago as a teacher in middle school. I had not read it yet, but I did want to read it. I just never got around to it. You know, movies and all.

I knew I had to wait until after I saw the movie. Maybe it would be like this year´s Wonder, in terms of book lovers all excited. Wonder was decent, and the book was decent. I assume there were a lot of fears about turning this allegedly very great book into a mediocre or shit movie. It has a big uphill battle, but at least its subject matter has been making good strides in cinema lately.

This year we already got Blindspotting and Sorry To Bother You, but neither of them are from the kid perspective. Of course, if there are already great movies on similar topics, it has a lot to live up to.

The Hate U Give has a lot of battles to climb, so on its own, it is its own representation of race relations. Another way to examine this is the IMDB rating, which at the time of writing is a 4.6, weeks before it comes out. Why? Oh, almost 200 votes for 1/10. Either this movie is very polarizing, or you know, racism.

Stare
Pretty sure we all know what she thinks.

A few years ago, the Carter family had to have ¨the talk.¨ So Lisa (Regina Hall) and Mav (Russell Hornsby) sat down their three kids, Seven (Lamar Johnson), Starr (Amandla Stenberg), and Sekani (TJ Wright). The oldest are just in their pre-teens, but it is time. No, this talk isn´t about sex. It is about what to do if they are in a situation where they are detained or pulled over by the cops.

This is a real talk that black families are starting to have to talk to, due to the violence and targeting that is going on in our country. It is not a great talk, but for families that care for each other, who know they cannot always be there to protect them, it is necessary.

It is the type of loving family that Starr grew up in, full of knowledge and strength. And now she goes to school outside of the hood she lives in. It is a white school, with white friends, white boyfriends (K.J. Apa) who won´t ever understand what she is going through at home. She has to balance these two lives. But it is when tragedy strikes her life and her friend Khalil (Algee Smith), she has her worlds start to crash together, giving her a whole new insight to this thing called life.

Also starring Common, Issa Rae, Sabrina Carpenter, Dominique Fishback, Megan Lawless, and Anthony Mackie as a bad guy drug dealer. Been awhile since he has turned south in his roles.

Hands Up
Hands up won´t protect her on its own, but that Carolina Blue shirt will help.

The Hate U Give is a powerhouse from start to finish. From ¨the talk¨ at the start of the film, to the different worlds, to the cop tragedy, to the protests, to the speeches, to the riots. It is full of emotion from unexpected places. My first cry was because the father was by his daughters side after a nightmare. She wasn´t screaming causing him to run in the door. No, she woke up panicked and he was already there. Just subtle clues to show that clearly he had fallen asleep in a chair by her side to protect her, to help her with the morning after, and just be a goddamn amazing father. And that is the type of stuff that gets me.

Sure, I did cry a few other times, not just a one and done deal. It is hard not to get wrapped up in the story. Hell, at over 2 hours it almost doesn´t feel long enough. I need more of the story, I need to be there to help comfort the characters, to rage against the machine or whatever it takes. I am definitely going to grab the book, and it is going to make me upset just like the movie.

And more importantly, it is going to get me more upset about real life. I am white, if my writing doesn´t make that obvious. I am a man, if you cannot tell with my boob tags. And this is the type of movie that can get people to see the other side of the fence if they come to it with any amount of openness.

Stenberg was fantastic in the lead role. She wasn´t great in The Darkest Minds, but no one was. She was good in Everything, Everything despite the fact that I didn´t like the movie. But she was outstanding in this film. She carries a lot of weight and emotion in her face. Hornsby as the dad is my goddamn hero. I hope I can one day grow into a worldly intelligent and caring man like him.

Just so much of this film is relevant, at this point, it is practically essential viewing. It deals with heavy topics that kids in their pre-teens can better handle unlike other films and will be seen in schools throughout the nation within the next year.

4 out of 4.

Fences

I do love it when a play becomes a film, assuming the play is a good one of course. I am a huge fan of dialogue, and plays usually give me good dialogue.

But what about a play I actually know? I don’t own a lot of plays, but I do own Fences. I never read the whole thing, but I had to read parts of it for a college level drama class. And the parts and themes that I saw I really enjoyed. So needless to say, I was pretty excited to see this coming out as a film.

And here is an even bigger reason to get excited. This play was actually given a revival in 2010 on Broadway, starring…Denzel Washington and Viola Davis! They both straight up won Tony awards for their portrayals. That means this film is them reprising a role they already kicked ass at, for the world to enjoy, six years later. That is pretty darn gosh nice of them.

Others
And here are some other cast members because it is awfully hard to find pictures of anyone else.

Set in the 1950’s, we get to meet Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington) and his friend, Jim Bono (Stephen Henderson), getting done with work. It is Friday, pay day, they work on the back of a garbage truck, and Troy might be getting fired for asking about why no black men get to drive the garbage trucks.

But Friday means pay day, and drinking day, so it is a good day. Even when his old son Lyons (Russell Hornsby) comes to visit to borrow money. Even when his wife, Rose (Viola Davis) gives him an occasional hard time. Even when his son, Cory (Jovan Adepo) is seemingly throwing away his future by wanting to go to college for sports instead of getting a real job.

And his poor older brother, Gabe (Mykelti Williamson), who went off to World War II and got injured. Now Gabe has a metal plate in his head, isn’t all there, and receives a government check.

Nah, but Troy loves his life. No reason to mess it up, people respect him, and he will live out the rest of his life care free, assuming he ever shuts up.

Also featuring Saniyya Sidney.

Denzel
And I didn’t even talk about the fence.

For those that didn’t know Fences was based on a play, I’d hope they’d realize in the first ten minutes. Characters just hanging out in the back yard, telling stories, giving long lines, and talking, talking, talking. For those who hate excessive dialogue, you will not enjoy this movie.

Not all play movies feel like a play, but this one certainly does. Over 90% of the film takes place in or around a single house, with characters walking in and out. I was a bit surprised how many different cuts and angles they threw into the film. These are people who have rehearsed these roles and done them many times over, so they could have done entire scenes in one long go, but Washington decided to embrace the movie aesthetic and let us get emotional shots and not just artistic long shots.

Acting of course was amazingly good. Washington gets nominated for Best Actor all the time, and honestly, I wouldn’t mind if he won it again. Casey Affleck for Manchester By The Sea is the favorite I believe, and either of them would be totally worthy of the big prize given their performances. And Washington wasn’t the only good part. Davis is a virtual lock for Best Supporting Actress.

But Henderson and Williamson also were pretty damn good, with a bit more limited screen time. Henderson also was in the Broadway version, so it is nice to see him still acting well. Fun Fact: Henderson was ALSO in Manchester By The Sea. Williamson did amazing as Gabe, a special needs character, but also you might remember him as Bubba from Forrest Gump. Apparently that is just a talent of his.

Fences is emotional and deals with a lot of themes. Despite being set 60 years ago, they all still resonate today. Troy is a terrible person and character, but at the same time, it all just seems to make sense given his upbringing. The Sins Of The Father trope is a strong one in stories, but it is illustrated excellently in this story an instant classic.

4 out of 4.

LUV

I have been avoiding LUV for quite some time. Why?

Because it is fucking named LUV. What is that? That is dumb. I don’t like that.

But I do like reviewing things that I think will be stupid, so I guess I kind of have that going for me.

FACE
Oh, come on Common. You don’t look like you at all when you laugh.

Uncle Vincent (Common), I guess just Vincent, was locked up in prison for the last 8 years. But now he is out and he wants to make his life better. But first, he has a nephew, Woody (Michael Rainey Jr.). Vincent wants to open a high end crab shack, and Woody just wants to move from Baltimore to his mothers house in North Carolina (he was living with his grandmother).

Also including such fine actors such as Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton, Dennis Haysbert, Michael K. Williams, and Russell Hornsby.

Walk
You guys are doing it wrong. This looks nothing like the Abbey Road cover.

I STILL DON’T KNOW WHY THIS MOVIE IS NAMED LUV! Argh!

Well, it is an acronym, that I only knew existed once I saw the wikipedia page. Learning Uncle Vincent. The fuck? I mean, it makes sense, but why wasn’t that better advertised? LUV by itself is just silly.

Speaking of just silly, I liked the idea of this movie. It seemed like a good plot line for some nice drama, some crime, sure. Maybe even I would learn a life lesson or two. But it just didn’t deliver. Early on I was interested, but over time my apathy grew as what I felt looked like more and more ridiculous situations. I don’t mean ridiculous in the entertaining way either. Some sort of dramatic/crime ridiculousness, with a lot of guns, but without the excitement. It is hard to describe.

The ending was a bit of a dull too. I guess it was supposed to be surprising, but at that point, who gives a shit, right?

Learning Uncle Vincent, I don’t believe its a true story from the writer, in any way. Nope. But it is what it is, and I will go back to ignoring it.

1 out of 4.