Tag: David Oyelowo

See How They Run

A lot of times to start these reviews, I will talk about the title as an effective or ineffective tool, or how people might perceive the movie. This time it isn’t a joke. It is all honesty. See How They Run sounds like a horror film. It just does. Or maybe even a war film.

I would have never guessed a Comedy/Mystery movie. I certainly would never have guessed it was something Agatha Christie adjacent. What does that mean? You will soon find out.

You will also find out why this stacked cast, full of actors I love, did very little for me unfortunately throughout the picture.

This is most of the cast! Not even the biggest names! One or more of these characters might die!

In the 1950’s, there was TV and Movies, but let’s be clear, it wasn’t the top tier stuff we know about now. So what did people do? Well, there wasn’t a war, so they went to plays!

One popular playwright was Agatha Christie, whom you have heard of before. She wrote a lot of murder mystery plays, which had the audience guessing and sworn to secrecy that they wouldn’t spoil the ending of the play. After all, then people wouldn’t come and see them!

One play in particular, The Mouse Trap, was doing very well, and it got a lot of people excited about murder mysteries. It may have been even based on a real story. It is doing so well, a few people have the great idea to turn it into a film. People are watching films now, so why not let a lot more see it on a bigger scale? Great idea!

Until people start dying, who are associated with the film. No, this is not Scream 3. This is See How They Run. Now we have an Inspector (Sam Rockwell) and his rookie assistant (Saoirse Ronan) are going to try and find the killer. While also dealing with apathy and inexperience. And some intrigue, sure.

Also starring Shirley Henderson, Adrien Brody, David Oyelowo, Ruth Wilson, Reece Shearsmith, Charlie Cooper, and Harris Dickinson as a young Richard Attenborough.

See, I kept the biggest names hidden. Oh what a mystery that was!

This film is going for some sort of meta look on Agatha Christie plays, by having a murder mystery involved with the making of an Agatha Christie film. A real murder during fake murders! It is something that has been done before, so while feeling like it could be a unique look, it isn’t actually too unique. Now we have to compare it to just meta murder films and plays. At the same time, we have to compare it to actual Agatha Christie plays.

That is a lot of comparisons it needs to overcome. Unfortunately, it fails on those levels.

In terms of positives, I can say this movie is really well shot and costumed. It has a great visual look to it, and it is clearly using some good cameras and interesting scenes. I also think Ronan’s character was interesting, and that this one felt a bit more unique when compared to the majority of her other roles. Again, the spunky new cop who is smart and gets things figured out is not a new archetype either. It is just unique for her own body of work.

In terms of everything else, I am just left disappointed. From the eventual reveal, to the death scenes, to the jokes (this is a comedy, technically), and to even Sam Rockwell. I love Sam Rockwell. But much like his character didn’t want to be there, it felt like he didn’t want to be there either.

See How They Run is just a snooze. The jokes fall as flat as the bodies that eventual hit the floor. Its meta qualities don’t even feel like a unique enough reason to give it a watch out of curiosity.

1 out of 4.

Chaos Walking

Chaos Walking is obviously not the only movie to be delayed recently, but it is notable that it was delayed before the Pandemic! It finished shooting in late 2017, but they announced it needed reshoots in mid 2018 due to people hating it, and they had to wait a whole year to do reshoots, thanks to the leads being in major franchises and having full schedules.

Then it was delayed March 2020, and you know the rest there.

It turns out this is based on a book, The Knife of Never Letting Go, in the Chaos Walking trilogy. I really like that title though. It reminds me of Never Let Me Go. And it puts the future of this trilogy into question. Too many YA novels have an issue where the trilogy name is used for the first book, meaning future books/films have awkward naming conventions. And for this, they used the trilogy name instead of the book name.

Huh. Interesting. Okay. Well, future movie’s will worry about that issue then, if they get any.

Okay, this is Chaos Running actually.

Todd (Tom Holland) is just a kid living a world that has gotten pretty fucked over. First of all, no women! Boooo. Second of all, only men! Boooo!

Now this world isn’t our world, it is New World. And at some point a virus came and killed everyone on it called The Noise. The Noise was fatal to women, and for men it just made it so their inner thoughts were all audible to those around them, and creating a visible cloud around their head. Also there is some alien stuff.

Todd is set to being a new warrior or scout or whatever, as he gets older and learns to better control his thoughts. But then he discovers a crash landing on his planet and finds, a girl?! Viola (Daisy Ridley) and a crew crashed down, not good, but she is the only survivor, and they have no clue about this Noise stuff.

And a few plot shenanigans later, Todd and Viola are on the run from his city, who want to capture the girl, and look up settlements that are rumored to exist, even though Todd thought he was in the only real community left in the world.

Also starring Demián Bichir, David Oyelowo, Kurt Sutter, Cynthia Erivo, Mads Mikkelsen, Nick Jonas, and Bethany Anne Lind.

No, he is not thinking of the movie The Color Purple

Jeez, I wonder what they changes with this version versus their initial version? I hope it wasn’t adding in MORE ACTION because honestly, that was one of their weaker points. The action, and fighting, especially near the end. I was a much bigger fan of the drama and suspense before that. You can have a big fight between communities without needing to bog us down in the fighting.

I am not anti violence, it just felt like a lot more at the end versus any point earlier, even if the threat was already there. I was more curious about the mystery, and the aliens, and the virus, all of that, and it just never delved enough for me.

The acting is fine, but for a movie with stars like that, this is not good enough.  I do think Bachir probably did the best of the bunch, but he was also limited in his role.

This is supposed to be a fantastic book and trilogy, and honestly at this point, I can’t see how the book would be good for me. I feel like the movie not really being great, while also telling me about the secrets (unless they are different) would ruin the appeal of the book and I have no reason at all to seek it out. I certainly don’t read everything, and I try not to read things before movie adaptations, but I do get quite annoyed when a movie takes away my desire to ever read the story.

A potentially riveting plot line that is ruined with mediocrity and forgettableness.

1 out of 4.


Gringo had something funny occur with their PR screening ahead of time. Our screening wasn’t until the week of release, like normal, but they actually sent out the real invite for it over a month early. Now, normally, these invites are a week to two max early. If any earlier, we get save the date notes or whatever to let you know it is coming up, but this was just the regular invite to respond to for RSVP purposes.

So of course I accepted, and the only reason it is much later a review is because I was sick that day, couldn’t go, and had to watch it weeks later in the theaters. I wanted to see Gringo, it looked fun, and sure, it had a plug on The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale. Let that be a lesson for you, advertising can work. Why else would I still be using old spice body wash every day?

Gringo has an interesting name, given what I think I know what it means, and that we had a film awhile ago called Get The Gringo, which was also a bit better than anticipated. I had high hopes for Gringo given it setting, its very fun looking cast, and of course, because of Mr. Copley adding his own weird style.

WHich One
Which one is the gringo though, really?

Our story is about Harold Soyinka (David Oyelowo), a man who never can catch a break. He has a high job in a pharmaceutical company,but he isn’t rolling in the dough like the people in the higher levels. His wife (Thandie Newton) is an interior decorator, but only has one client and is bleeding their money. His boss (Joel Edgerton), is a hardass, a dickwad, and all of the body parts between those two. But he makes that money, he is good friends with Harold, and he got him the job in the first place.

Harold has to work and travel to Mexico frequently for their job, where they have the pharmaceutical factory set up. They are making a weed pill, so to speak, so that when America starts lifting those bans, they will have the product and infrastructure in place to take advantage of the now open market.

Because we are talking about drugs and Mexico, it should be obvious that the Cartel is also involved. Harold doesn’t know about that of course, he is a good guy, but when dealing with his boss’s mistakes, he is about to see how little he matters in the grand scheme of events.

Also starring Carlos Corona, Alan Ruck, Kenneth Choi, Sharlto Copley, Charlize Theron, Melonie Diaz, Amanda Seyfried, Harry Treadaway, and Yul Vazquez.

Ooooh, looks like they finally GOT THE GRINGO! Oh, wrong movie. Sorry.

Gringo is an example of a story with a lot of separate plot lines amongst the characters, where no one character is sure of what is actually going on, and all the chaos that occurs from these miscommunications and lies. But also, with death, violence, and comedy. So yeah, going for a Taratino film feel.

Out of all the many cast members, the only one to really shine is our star, Oyelowo, who seems to have perfected that scream freak out look that he gets to do over and over in the film as he continues to get shit upon. Because that is the movie. Bad things happening to his character, despite being a relatively good guy, and him never getting out of his situation.

If you hate crazy plot lines, you still might enjoy it for Oyelowo’s performance, where he seemed to show a different side of him. A more excited side, compared to more of his very serious roles recently.

The movie did feel quite long, given the twists and turns along the way. And hey, I didn’t know where it was going most of the time. So it was a surprising thrill ride that did still have me on the edge of my seat. A lot of bad people in this one, and one guy to root for. A good classic film position to be in.

Give Gringo a shot, at least just once.

3 out of 4.

A Wrinkle In Time

A Wrinkle In Time is a very famous Science Fiction book, written in the 1960’s. It was a historic achievement when it comes to the genre, because it was written by a woman, and it was even about a girl.

Not many books in the genre, especially at that time, catered to women at any level. It would take decades for them to get any sort of real success in that area.

Now, so many decades later, it is being haled as a film celebrating those beginnings by trying to do the same thing for the genre. Avu DuVernay, famed director of Selma (who many feel should have been nominated for Best Director for that film) and 13th, is getting her hands on a big budget fantasy/sci-fi romp. And she is going to make sure it has people in it that will speak to people of all ages, of all colors and creeds. She is getting diversity across all the levels, and it is honestly a great move on her part.

No matter how good or bad the film is, the movie is an experiment gone right when it comes to casting. She wants to make sure girls out there have more diverse people to look up to, because everyone has the right to see themselves in the media they consume.

And look! A character for those gingers out there as well.

Meg (Storm Reid) was a happy go lucky girl, good at math and science, lover of life. Her dad (Chris Pine) worked for Nasa and mother (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) also was a scientist. They were smart, and happy, and about to adopt another child, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe). Things were great.

And then her dad disappeared, without a trace. The parents had pretty strong scientific opinions on space travel and time travel, but most people did not take them seriously. Either way, with her dad gone, Meg has gone on hating her life, becoming a shell of her former self.

But things are about to change. Life is about to get a bit weirder, thanks to her younger brother. He is very trusting and wise beyond his years. And he starts to introduce Meg to the “Misses”, including Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) and Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey). They are denizens of the universe, much like Meg, but more in tune with its frequencies and have heard a cry of help from her father.

So these ladies are going to take Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin (Levi Miller), a nice friend of Meg, on a journey across space and time, to see just where her father went.

Also starring Zach Galifianakis, Michael Peña, André Holland, Rowan Blanchard, and the voice of David Oyelowo.

Ah, here he was, the last place I would expect. A very orange room. Yuck!

A Wrinkle In Time is supposed to be a fantastic book, part of a pretty good series, and tells a story across space and time. And based on who I have talked to, that is believable. This movie is unfortunately not the book.

This movie is surprisingly under two hours, but it has a lot of hardcore concepts it wants to talk about and use in the movie. Instead of explaining them in a nice wrapped box, the movie just runs with these ideas, you either understand or you don’t, and blasts off into its plot. It is so fast and high energy early on that it is hard to keep up and understand where it is going.

The only part of the film that takes its time is the ending, which is a bad move for a few reasons. At this point, a regular member of the audience who didn’t read the book is so lost and confused that having a more explained ending won’t fix that. A lot of people watching will have already lost interest, and then get annoyed when the pace finally slows the fuck down.

We have some scary stuff by the end too. Stuff that should have large impacts on the audience based on who is involved and how drastic the changes feel. But without the proper build up, it feels very wasted.

At the end of the movie, I cried. There are still emotional points. I get the final purpose of the film, what it says about growing up and the pains associated with it. But I felt like I was just along for a ride that didn’t care if I needed to stop to pee or eat along the way.

There are so many concepts that you are just forced to accept. Hell, we have a character who is brought along they say for diplomacy reasons, and then fail to include any sort of diplomacy scene. A Wrinkle In Time is probably a good film if you include what was cut out in the editing room. But this is the type of movie that might only be understood if you have read the material before hand, which is unacceptable, especially with a budget and scope of this size.

It is a shame, because this film won’t do great, and the execs might blame it on diversity reasons, instead of the more obvious confusing as heck plot lines. It is still a very pretty movie, with some fun characters. I am just left struggling to really explain what the heck I watched.

1 out of 4.

The Cloverfield Paradox

Here we are, the epitome of strange film franchises.

Cloverfield was brilliant with its advertising, although it did leave a lot of people pissed off at the final product. 10 Cloverfield Lane came out of nowhere, announced about a month before it was released, and then ended up being pretty stinking good, thanks to great acting performances.

And The Cloverfield Paradox, originally was supposed to come out in April, got pulled from the release schedule. It then got bought by Netflix. And as we all found out on Superbowl Sunday that yes, it had a release right after the game, with only rumors released earlier the same day that it might happen. And of course a 30 second advertisement letting the viewers note that its release date was very soon.

It was brilliant, but again, it was dropped from the calendar and sold to Netflix for a reason. I knew that going in, I knew that I shouldn´t expect much. And I also knew that the fourth film in this franchise is coming out sometime in October, so no matter how bad this one ended up, it wouldn´t kill the franchise.

No matter how many times these characters scream, no one will hear it in a theater.

Aboard the Cloverfield space station, we have a team of international scientists working together to try and save the Earth. From what? From a global energy crisis. They have a large particle accelerator up in that space station to hopefully figure out how to get some sort of permanent, renewable, energy source that can save the world.

And they do not have a lot of time. Countries are ready to go to war for the limited resources left, and they only have three shots left of fuel to get things right. We have scientists from all over ( ) working to just make this thing work.

But wait! It finally reaches the good levels before shutting itself off! Did they solve the crisis? Maybe. Something still went wrong, and when they look around they notice that the Earth is completely missing. Did they move to a different part of the galaxy? Did the Earth disappear due to their science? Their compass is broken too, so they find themselves lost in space, where strange events start to take place on their space ship. People appearing, items missing, and a lot more paranoia.

Starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Daniel Brühl, David Oyelowo, John Ortiz, Chris O’Dowd, Aksel Hennie, Ziyi Zhang, Elizabeth Debicki, and Roger Davies holding himself together on Earth.

You got to hand it to this scene, it really strong arms the point.

I want to say that The Cloverfield Paradox is a film with a good idea and bad execution, but in reality, maybe it was a bad idea as well.

It is very obvious that this film was never intended to be connected to Cloverfield. More so than the previous film. Basically, everything on the space station was a different movie, but we had a character they added on Earth to communicate occasionally with, which connected the film to the previous Cloverfield. That and the last 30 seconds or so. So for the most part, this is just a space ship thriller movie.

But it did not do a good job of really deciding what it wanted. Was it a thriller? A drama? A strange comedy (Which was mostly O´Dowd. And his jokes/puns got annoying quickly, unfortunately)?

It featured a scene very early on of a news report that felt like a flashing neon sign letting you know what the movie was about to do, a very weak plot device. It then had our characters running around, coming up with solutions to problems that are never really fully explained. The viewer can understand the main problem, but most of the problems that happen in the film are just plot devices and never feel natural.

This film spent most of its time trying to set up something and just failing to deliver over and over again.

It was pulled from theaters for a reason, and put on netflix with no warning for a reason. Everyone everywhere has now seen it (Which is why I did not rush the review out) and it is a clunky, lame mess. Not even the several high caliber actors could save it. Instead, this film is more likely to be remembered for its stunt, not for adding anything valuable to what is turning out to be a very stupid franchise idea.

1 out of 4.

A United Kingdom

I have never been to the United Kingdom, but I hope to go some day. Assuming the country doesn’t fall apart in ruins after Brexit happens, or whatever everyone is saying about their potential future.

But in case it does go to hell, we will only be able look at its past accomplishments and failures and judge the shit out of it.

Like this formerly famous then forgotten love story thing. Aka, a perfect story for a movie. A United Kingdom. About being united. About the UK. The meanings are as wonderful as the British people in he 1800s.

True love?
Although, Britain had Jack The Ripper in the 1800’s, so maybe not entirely wonderful.

In the 1940’s, after World War II, Great Britain was working on getting back on their feet. And inside of GB, there were some citizens. Like Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike), living in her house with her parents. And then she meets Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo), a dark and mysterious man from Africa. They go on a date, dance to jazz, and then he makes sure that she knows that he is a prince.

He is Prince of an area called Bechuanaland, very close to South Africa. The South Africa that is about to start apartheid. Seretse was sent to London to get an education, to learn how to run a country, before he could return home and take over the kingdom from his Uncle (Vusi Kunene) who has been interim King. Don’t worry, no Hamlet fiasco’s here.

After many many more dates, they are madly in love, and he wants to take her as his wife. But she has never been to Africa. She doesn’t know the poor conditions. Her dad wouldn’t approve of her being with a black man. And his nation? They would not approve of a white woman coming down to be their queen, pretending to be one of them.

Not only do we have those issues, but given the proximity of Bechuanaland to South Africa, the British government gets involved. They don’t want to have an upset South Africa, because if South Africa pulls out, they lose mineral rights money and they also might turn to the USSR. Fuck that.

Politics, family fighting, racism, and eventually a cute little baby.

Also featuring Jack Davenport, Tom Felton, Terry Pheto, Theo Landey, Laura Carmichael, Charlotte Hope, and Jessica Oyelowo, yes the real life white wife of David, for almost 20 years now.

Wallpaper love
They look so natural, so in love, so wallpaper.

From Dr. King, to mentor of a Queen, to an African King, Oyelowo sure has had a recently royal journey. He has actually been in a lot of recent movies over the last 5+ years and gets work often, but that line was too good to not pass up. Oyelowo is great in this role, still very charismatic and powerful like a lot of his recent roles. He still felt believable in this role as well, which is sometimes hard for an actor who has become so recognizable.

Pike was given a harder role to excel at. She gets to play the outsider wife, while her husband is off giving speeches. She has to just be alone, afraid, and pregnant. And honestly, with how pale Pike is in that sun in an actual village of people, a lot of it was probably not even acting. But she is still good at her role as well, but again, there are less exciting scenes for her character unfortunately. Mostly just one really good one when she is sending a message to the British citizens/government.

The setting, clothing, and general atmosphere from the film all matched the time frame, so it was easy to get sucked in. And it is even better that this is based on a true story. Because unless you lived back then, you probably have no idea about any of this. So it was fantastic to actually learn about a historical event that I have never heard about in my life. Ever. As part of any class. Just fantastic to actually get taught something new.

A lot of true story films you are left wondering why they chose to make it. What is the significance? Even if it was a big event, it might not have relevance to today. Well, given politics nowadays and race relationships in general, it does seem to hold relevance, while shining on an extremely interesting story. And you know what? It is good to see Great Britain get made fun of every once in awhile. I am still kind of holding a grudge over that whole Revolutionary War thing.

3 out of 4.

Queen of Katwe

Honestly, Queen of Katwe came out kind of a surprise to me, which is mostly surprising as it is a Disney movie.

I mean, shit, the bombed film The Finest Hours which Disney barely cared to promote I was still able to see advertisements for. But queen of Katwe? I just assumed it was some random actual Queen of an African nation. I mean, I recognized actors on the poster and it seemed like it could be about royalty.

But no, this is one of those Disney true inspirational stories. And I completely missed the fact that the poster had a ton of chess pieces on it as silhouettes, just assuming it was a fence. Fuck. A Disney movie about Chess and Africa? What a brilliant idea to really bring two things not really thought about together to make a unique film.

Well, unique if it wasn’t a true story. Now I am babbling. Yay chess?

Yeah, there is some chess right there!

In Uganda, a large portion of the population does not play chess. In Katwe specifically, it is a mostly village town with a lot of people living in the slums, struggling to survive. Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga) is a young girl living in these slums! She doesn’t go to school as they cannot afford it. Instead she helps sell corn all day to people in cars so they can afford rent. She lives with her mother (Lupita Nyong’o), older sister Night (Taryn Kyaze), younger brother (Martin Kabanza), and a baby brother too. No dad anymore, he died a few years ago, thus the struggle to survive.

But there is some hope. There is a church group nearby that is helping keep the kids in good health and spirits, teaching them soccer mostly. But one man, a very smart man, Robert Katende (David Oyelowo) wants them to learn chess. A game that he learned as a kid to beat those “city folk” and really stick it to them. Phiona follows her brother to a meeting spot for this, instantly falls in love with the game and begins to play as well.

And she is super interested in chess. She makes a makeshift chess board out of bottle caps with her brother so they can play at home. And soon, SOON, she is the best player in Katwe of the kids who can’t afford school.

But that isn’t her end goal. No, she needs to go to bigger tournaments. In Uganda, in Africa, hell, in other continents around the world. Her drive and desire is pushing her forward and it might what can really save her family from poverty in their small village.

Also featuring Ronald Ssemaganda and Esther Tebandeke.

You might have your mothers features but you lack her sense of style.

For a movie that lacked a lot of advertisement, it sure does tell a good story.

This isn’t the greatest film by any means. It is average on the acting front, pretty normal camera work and scenes to keep you entertained. It won’t win any awards. But when it comes to telling an interesting and inspirational tale, it does a wonderful job.

Our big three leads do a good job of carrying the emotional/spiritual side of the story, Nyong’o, Oyelowo, and Nalwanga. You will like all the characters, through their faults and triumphs. We even get to see cute baby scenes, yay cute baby scenes! (And one scary one that almost freaked me the fuck out).

For her first ever film (and she had only seen one movie before in her life while filming this one, Jurassic World) Nalwanga plays her part with ease. Despite the bigger names, it is very clearly her film and a story about this chess prodigy and not the coach who found the diamond in the rough or anything like that.

And on that note, there aren’t a lot of movies really about chess. Sure we had Pawn Sacrifice a year or two ago, but that was about the most famous chess player of all time and nothing to special. Maybe it appealed to me more given that I am becoming a chess club coach in a week and excited at the timing of this film. It is a nice film about picking hard to reach goals and doing whatever it takes to achieve them.

3 out of 4.


You can’t spell controversy without an ‘s’ and you can’t spell Nina Simone without an ‘s; as well! There must be something deeper there.

If you are like a lot of movie watchers, you probably watched What Happened, Miss Simone? last year. It is free on Netflix and was nominated for an Oscar, so that is really all I should have to say on the matter. It was about the troubling life of Musician and Activist from the 1940’s to the 1970’s. She won a shit ton of Grammys, so you should know her name at least, even if you didn’t know anything about her.

But there is another film about her life. Not a documentary, but a nice musical bio film, just named Nina. It was originally supposed to star Mary J. Blige in the title role, which makes sense. She is a singer and somewhat an activist. But she had to drop out and they replaced her with Zoe Saldana which led to some issues.

Nina Simone grew up in a time where she wasn’t expected to succeed, she was a very dark woman and had a very distinct face, while Saldana was much lighter skinned, very pretty and is not known for her singing. In particular they had a problem with the skin color because Simone was SUPER active in the Black Power movement and it felt like a form of white washing, since Saldana is Hispanic. That, and they also colored Simone’s skin darker. Is it Blackface if the person doing it is not White? Eh, probably.

Because of all this and more, this film took a long time to come out. It was being filmed in the end of 2012, so it took years to release, possibly waiting for all the controversy to die down and maybe finally out thanks to the successful documentary. However, it seems like the distributors still wanted to bury it, with a very limited release and instant VOD.

Sad Simone/Saldana doesn’t like the controversy.

Nina Simone (Zoe Saldana) grew up like a normal black kid in a southern town. But some old white lady liked her and taught her how to play piano. She got really good at classical music and had a dream of playing at the Carnegie Hall and totally did as the first Black Jazz musician. She also went to Julliard. She made a lot of albums, mixing Jazz with Rock and Roll and Gospel and protest songs. She worked with Martin Luther King and a whole lot of other famous activists. She had an abusive husband/manager and a daughter.

Then, eventually, she left America to Paris to play, because America was too racist. And everything in the above paragraph was basically the first five minutes of the movie, told through newspaper headlines, and this film takes place all after that. Like, in the 1980’s, after she had already been out of America for a long time. She was put in a psychiatric hospital for a day in LA after threatening a lawyer with a gun, where she met Clifton Henderson (David Oyelowo), an orderly. She liked that he tried to help her, so she hired him as her assistant and took him back to France.

So she is a drunk and a jerk to him while he tries to help. She forces him to help her get one nigh stands and makes his life hell. But hey, he eventually gets her back into the US for a concert, despite no one wanting to work with her. Yay biography movie!

Also featuring Kevin Mambo, Ronald Guttman, Mike Epps, and Chuma Gault.

But Simone/Saldana loves that booze apparently!

I don’t plan on talking any more about the controversy. I mean, I’d say just let Saldana be her self with the fake nose and not go all out. The entire skin experience just felt distracting for the most part, because I recognized Saldana, except she was “off” the entire time. Just a distraction, just like the controversy.

But let’s focus on this trainwreck of a film. Simone has been the focus of several documentaries and part of a few more, but never a biography of her life. Out of people who deserve their own Hollywood bio film, Simone is definitely up there on the list. For whatever terrible reason, they focus on the late 80’s and early 90’s and none of the “good stuff” in her life.

Fuck. She was a domestic abuse victim for years and couldn’t get out of it. She made so many great songs and led amazing protests. She had a ton of achievements. And I only know any of this thanks to the documentary about her entire life. Most people in the current generations don’t know anything about her and will only learn this stuff through theatrical films. And they pick her lamest and a very unimportant part of her life. They ignore so many important points in her life and focus on such a small frame it just seems disrespectful.

It seems like the people who made this film hated Nina Simone and didn’t know how to hide it. They showed her as a terrible person and ignored how she got to the lowest point in her life. It is misleading and just…just so bizarre.

Watching Nina, I can only see huge amounts of wasted potential. Even if I didn’t see the documentary, this movie wouldn’t have excited me in any way. I would be left wondering what the heck happened. Why did this person get a movie? Why did Paris matter?

Nina is a mess of a film, and one of the worst biographical movies I have ever seen.

0 out of 4.

A Most Violent Year

A Most Violent Year is one of those films I tried really hard to say before I made my best of 2014 list, because I had heard a lot of good things about it.

And uhh. That is all I can say about this movie. I mean, I might have gotten it confused with A Most Wanted Man, which became incredibly average despite also hearing great things about it. Shit, I hope this doesn’t go super average.

Super average would describe most of my dinners. Non-violent super average dinners.

There are 365 days in a year and if you killed 365 people in a year, that would be pretty fucking impressive. Like, totally psychopathic or insane, but impressive. That is not at all what this movie is about.

It is about Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac), just your average business man. It is the early 1980’s and he is the owner of Standard Oil, a heating oil company in New York City. He has big plans for his business and is working on getting a new location for his plant, right on the river. This will give him access to all the oils, allowing him to get better prices and you know, make more money!

But his trucks are being robbed at gunpoint. People are hijacking his vehicles, taking the oil and costing him thousands each time. And he has no idea who is doing it. At the same time he is being hounded by his “friend” the District Attorney (David Oyelowo), investigating him and others for price fixing, tax evasion, and the normal business stuff. This bad press in the news, plus the dangerousness of being a driver is leading his business down a dark path. The bank doesn’t want to help him get his new place anymore! And…and…he might lose it all!

Plus his wife (Jessica Chastain) really wants him to go after the culprits hard. Maybe kill them all. But he doesn’t want to do that. That would be most violent.

So Abel has to go to his competitors one by one to find out who is fucking him over and threatening his family. All while his drivers (Elyes Gabel) start carrying guns in their cabs and his lawyer (Albert Brooks) has no idea on how to help him. Oy vey, what a year.

And he still has to come home to give foot rubs at the end of the day.

A Most Violent Year is a hard movie to describe. It is like a mob movie, but definitely doesn’t involve the mob to any large extent. The main character is hard to really wrap your head around. You know he is definitely not “clean” in the ongoings of the business, but as to what specifically he did in the past they never really see.

Given he is our protagonist, you just have to assume you should root for him and not against him, given the lack of history. He wants that place for his company? Then by golly, I hope he gets it!

I actually liked Jessica Chastain a lot in this movie, playing the shit out of the housewife role who totally can control her husband and know everything going on in his company. The kind of woman who has a plan for everything and knows how to get things done. Was very subtle and very nice.

It is also the kind of movie I think I can re visit. And by that, I wouldn’t mind a sequel. Just not a direct one. Maybe one set ten years later, in a much less violent year, to see how the choices made influenced their lives. I would totally watch that movie.

3 out of 4.


I’ll be honest, when I first heard of the movie Selma, I had no idea what it was about.

When I found out it was a pseudo-biographical film about a moment in MLK’s life? I assumed Selma was his wife.

Nopers, I was way wrong. Selma is actually a city in Alabama! Yeah, who knew? Not only that, but it was a huge staging ground for civil rights in the mid 1960s, and it had nothing to do with sit-ins, busses, or fire hoses. That is pretty exciting on my part, because that means I will actually learn something new instead of the same few tales they teach us about in school. As it deals with race relations, it will probably end up being topical too in some way.

Not sure how, but I am sure someway it could be topical. Hmmmm.

Martin (David Oyelowo) (We are on cool enough terms for me to just use his first name) had just received his Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, but he wasn’t done yet. This was after his I Have A Dream speech. There was a big issue with Jim Crow laws in the south. Sure, technically, everyone now had the right to vote. But people were getting in the way of that.

Poll taxes, literacy tests, inconvenient hours, and rude as shit clerks made things like that hard. Not to mention the general threat of violence for those who might attempt if they were black. Martin wanted LBJ (Tom Wilkinson) to make fixing this issue a priority, but LBJ wouldn’t have it. He had other issues like poverty he wanted to work on. So Martin and his comrades (Common, Andre Holland, Wendell Pierce and more!) found the staging grounds for their next battle in Selma, Alabama.

A student group (Stephan James, Trai Byers) was already working there, building up community support, and of all the registered votes, only 1% were black despite about equal numbers. It was a great battleground. Even had a super racist sheriff (Stan Houston)! Martin just also has family issues with his wife (Carmen Ejogo) while all this is going down, so, pretty intense stuff.

Oh and a whole lot of people are in here as smaller or villainous roles as cameos. We have Tim Roth, Giovanni Ribisi, Cuba Gooding Jr., Martin Sheen, Dylan Baker, and Oprah Winfrey.

People walked a lot more back then, just a matter of fact.

Thinking back on it, I don’t think I have ever seen a high quality film about MLK and his life. He has appeared in other movies I have seen, like Nelsan Ellis last year in The Butler. But filmmakers seem to be afraid of his life, despite clearly being a popular figure. I wonder if people are afraid of doing him badly and not living up to his larger than life persona?

Well, if they were afraid in this movie they shouldn’t be. David Oyelowo did an INCREDIBLE performance. His walk, his talk, his power, he had it all. His looks weren’t perfect, but man were they believable. And when he did his speeches or sermons in this movie? Yeah, his voice carried it hardcore, and not in the same stereotypical way people normally do Martin’s voice. It had its own uniqueness and similarity that made it seem just as awe inspiring and just as real. Shit, the final speech he gave? I was almost certain it was an actual recording instead of Oyelowo, but I was wrong. It almost made me tear up.

My only issues with the film is that despite its superduper lead, the supporting cast didn’t seem to catch up with him. I think this is the worst ever portrayal of J. Edgar I have ever seen. Out of no where it all seemed more comical instead of serious. Roth was awkward as the evil Governor and he also felt quite cartoonish. I couldn’t take these guys seriously, limiting the seriousness of the film.

I learned a shit ton about the subject though and it is an incredible story, even if certain aspects are fabricated. A very nice watch to learn about a very overlooked yet important event in American history. And damn Oyelowo. You good, you good.

3 out of 4.