IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK (2019)

Cast:  KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King

A film by  Barry Jenkins

A woman’s fiancée is accused of a crime he didn’t commit. She finds out that she is pregnant which her family is going to struggle to prove his innocence.

Director Barry Jenkins decided to do an adaptation of the book by James Baldwin If Beale street could talk. Two thing James Baldwin a great writer and Barry Jenkins a great director so why not. And yes you have a great love story on screen. Jenkins decided to let the story live. The story is narrated by Tish (KiKi Layne, great acting for her first time) by looking on the camera and said “I hope that nobody has ever had to look at anybody they love through glass.” Powerful word there. Yes her fiancée is in jail and she carries here unborn child. He as you will discover later that he did not commit the crime, and what I like about it is you don’t see the crime being committed. Her boyfriend’s name is Fonny (Stephan James). There is a kind of dark humor between the two which are followed sometimes by tense moments. The story has flashback so you can see what went on before Fonny got to jail. It is a story set in the 60’s where black and white especially white cops didn’t get along that well. It is a story where black folks are going to relate to it, also a beautiful love story with an horror attached to it. The family of Kiki will try their best to get out Fonny out of jail. It is going to leave the audience angry about the society that Fonny was force to accepted . Here is a story that Baldwin has written 44 years ago and it is happening now.

 

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THE HATE YOU GIVE (2018)

A film by  George Tillman Jr.

Cast:  Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, common

Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Now there is going to be pressure because some people tells her not to say anything and other to speak up. What will Starr do?

“The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody.” Here is a phrase by rap artist that stick back in the 90’s  as an acronym for “THUG LIFE,” The filmis from this book The hate you give by Angie Thomas. It was on the best seller list of the New York times in 2017 and now the film is made with a message black lives matter.

Starr ( Amandla Stenberg) is you typical teenager who lives in Garden Heights but goes to school to the wealthy Williamson neighborhood. She plays on the basketball team and has this boyfriend named Chris (K.J. Apa). Then at a party on her side of her town at a party an old friend  Khalil (Algee Smith), starts reconnecting with her. A fight breaks out followed by gun fire Khalil decides to take Starr to her house. But on the way there they get stop by the police and all hell breaks loose. The event that occurred is tumultuous for Starr and since she is on both side of the world Black and white she wonders what is she doing in this rich white neighborhood. On the other hand she is threatened by some other folks drug dealers not to talk. The relation with her family who is as tight as they can be giving a lots of love to their children plus there is the daughter father talk. The father not a saint here but on the right path tries to teach them how to protect themselves. Starr is torn between both world black and white because of their different views that both races has. you see Starr struggling with some racist friends and a reporter who is interested in Khalil past. No one seems to be interested in justice but the black people. There is a sense of isolation toward Starr who tries to manage this situation as best as she can. Some people are going to relate to this film even see themselves in it. The cast is outstanding so is smart written script . Here is the question can we break the cycle? Do not miss this one.

GREEN BOOK (2018)

A film by  Peter Farrelly

Cast:  Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellin

1960’s An italian American bouncer who had two month to kill because of renovation at the club he was working at, ends up driving for a black musician  on a tour in the deep American south.

Here are two men quite different one black one white comes from different background get thrown together under unusual circumstances. Here is a mismatched buddy road trip with a message about race relations. And it is based on a true story. Green book it is a bit an old fashioned film making which is kind of nice for a change. It is a joy to see two actors like Mortensen and Ali their chemistry is so perfect and their performance is so outstanding. The film feels has similarities with Driving Miss Daisy.

Mortensen here has to gain 20 pounds which he said was fun to do but not fun to loose he said in an interview. Tony is from the bronx Italian descent and his vocabulaire is limited. (Tony’s son, Nick, co-wrote the script with Farrelly and Brian Hayes Currie.) Tony is the kind of guy with big appetites and loyal to his wife ( Linda Cardellini) and two young sons. He is happy to be living in the Bronx. However Don Shirley is an educated man well mannered with expensive taste and a genius musician.

Tony who finds himself out of the job due to the renovation of the club he is working at needs to provide for his family. So he accepts a job from the record company to be the driver of this musician. Yes there are the clichés thrown in there of what Tony thinks about the black people, plus the lesson learn with fast food and such. Too funny at times. The adventure will takes us across the country with the ups and downs. The green book back then was a guide used by black motorists to help them avoid the dangers and indignities of road travel, especially below the Mason-Dixon line. Well as we know from history the south was segregated. Tony was the bodyguard as well as a chauffeur. Don is a well known musician but is denied to dine with white people. It is a bit crude and offensive at times but back then that’s the way it was. Some Americans white and black the older folks were talking about it to me as I was listening to their stories was a bit shock that was going on in America. It is an intelligent screenplay where the two character are going to learn from each other. A nice film done the old fashion way that have funny moments and not so funny moments but played very well by two great actors. Do not miss this one.

COLETTE (2018)

A film by  Wash Westmoreland

Cast:  Keira Knightley, Fiona Shaw, Dominic West 

ColetteSidonie-Gabrielle Colette, 28 January 1873 – 3 August 1954) was a French author and woman of letters nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948; also known as a mime, actress, and journalist. Here is her life story.

The real Colette in Paris.

Well first I thought the French cinema would at least make the picture but instead it is a US / British film. We begin the story with young Colette who is barely out of high school where she meets the man named Willy Dominic West. The relationship soon flourishes and they are to be married. She finds herself form the country to Paris in the middle of the art community. You see Willy is a writer well not really he tells writers to write the story that he wants him to write. Soon he can’t afford them so he tells Colette to write about her friend she went to school with. It soon becomes the best seller in France and Willy is praised for his book that he put his name to it. Soon after Willy ask her to write a sequel about Claudine. Back then it is a man world and women couldn’t be author. Of course comes the affairs from willy and the fact that Colette wants to become more independent. So she demand that her novel have her name on it as an author.

The film shows the struggle that a woman writer has back in the late 1800’s in the belle époque which the director as so beautifully put together. The chemistry of both actors is amazing and so is their acting. By the way Colette was most widely known for her 1944 novel Gigi (1944).

THE MULE (2018)

A film by Clint Eastwood

Cast:  Bradley Cooper, Clint Eastwood, Manny Montana, Andy Garcia, Alison Eastwood

At over 80 years old, Earl Stone is hard pressed. He is not only broke and alone, but his business is likely to be seized. He then accepts a job that – apparently – asks him to be the driver. Except that, without knowing it, he committed himself to be a drug smuggler for a Mexican cartel.

Based on a true story this film by Clint Eastwood which is a slow burning thriller of this 90 years old man who became an unlikely drug mule, transporting huge amounts of cocaine for a major Mexican drug cartel. It has a terrific cast and the usual theme that Clint seems to like: regret, forgiveness and the inevitability of mortality.

It is 2005 and you see Earl who sell plant and takes care of them has no sign of slowing down. Work always came first and he did not want to go to his daughter’s wedding. The next scene takes place 12 years later when Earl losses his business due to the internet and his house. Somehow he ends up to be a driver for the cartel. He delivers packages from point A to point B, and he seems to be the star mule because Earl becomes good at his job. There are comic elements in this thriller with a wonderful cast. It is a family affair here for Clint which his daughter plays his daughter in the film. There is the second story the one of the FBI agent plays by Bradley Cooper who is determined to catch the bad guys. Well here is a film that should be missed and yes Clint still got it.

The real McCoy

WHITE BOY RICK (2018)

A film by Yann Demange

Cast:  Matthew McConaughey, Richie Merritt, Bel Powley

Based on a true story of Richard Wershe Jr., who became an undercover informant for the FBI during the 1980s and was ultimately arrested for drug-trafficking and sentenced to life in prison.

The director here immerse the audience in the 1980’s in Detroit Michigan where I used live about 30 minutes from there back in late 70’s. Rick Wersche Sr. peddled guns to Detroit lowlifes. However the FBI prays on this 14 years old boy to go undercover for them to deal drugs so they can know who is who and arrest them later. Things escalated and became out of hand, here is a father who with his son deals guns to drug dealers to make ends meet. The daughter however who is on drugs and sell her body for a quick fix leaves the house for good with her drug dealer boyfriend. Here is the story of a father for loves his children and does not want to break the family apart is trying to keep it together and do the best he can to take care of his kids that he loves so much. Plus the fact that the FBI screwed them over did not help. In this story you will see how corrupt are the mayor, the cops, etc… the poverty, and the decline of Detroit. When I went there I knew some people who told me that they knew people who bought a house in Detroit for $60,000 but sold it years later for $8,000 because the decline is so -bad . I remember working in Detroit at night and driving home in streets where the house were abandoned by their owners. Here is a story of a father and the love he has for his children. Of course there is a racial dynamic in the story. The performances were outstanding especially for the first time actor Richie Merritt. Not too bad for this film however a trip down memory lane for me.

WIDOWS (2018)

A film by  Steve McQueen

Cast:  Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debick

Chicago, where 4 women who has lost their husbands which left them with a debt take things into their own hand to get back the counter at zero to start a new life. 

Roger Ebert a critic from chicago (RIP Roger) said his favorite film was heist movies. Well Roger here is one for you. This genre of film that Mcqueen has done here masterfully has it all the corruption, the politician who is trying to get ahead that cut throat , money, thrown in a drug dealer with a mean streak. The bullshit that goes with it, plus the rich gets richer and the poor get poorer. 

The film open with  Harry Rawlings (Liam Neeson) and his wife making out to get a flashback of a heist that is going to go wrong. his crew (Jon Bernthal, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, and Coburn Goss) are in trouble and are trying to get away without a scratch. Soon enough you begin to find out their fate and that they are going to leave four wife widows. Four women Alice (Elizabeth Debicki), Linda (Michelle Rodriguez),  a mother of two who is just opening her own store, Amanda (Carrie Coon), who has a 4-month-old child, Harry’s wife Veronica (Viola Davis), which they have nothing in common. A debt has to be paid and they are going to do the unthinkable. Well it takes place in Chicago where of course in the mix there will be politician battle out the election. This heist is about survival with an emotional ride. Every characters are in place here no one is out of sync. The camera angle and the edditing are so perfect it is not even funny even the flashback are a work of art. even the song in to that says ‘We have a lot of work to do today. Crying is not on the list’. One more thing politician are a bitch aren’t they? Do not miss this one. It is going to be a classic.