Legendary filmmaker Spike Lee has returned to the directors chair, this time to helm a crime/cop drama that’s actually based on a true story.
Taking place in the 1970s, “BlacKkKlansman” follows Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), a recent addition to a police department in Colorado. As a rookie in the department, Ron initially works in the records division. However, he eventually convinces the chief to get a chance in undercover detective work.
After a short time in the new division, Ron ends up taking a chance by phone to call a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. In doing so, Ron is able to keep track of the local Klan’s strategies and if they’re seeking to do anything violent. To make the investigation even more effective, Ron works with Flip (Adam Driver), a fellow detective who takes Ron’s place during in-person meetings with the Klan.
Continue reading “REVIEW: While flawed, ‘BlacKkKlansman’ is an engaging take on a wild true story”
A man who seemed to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders at one point is explored in “Darkest Hour.”
The movie takes place in 1940 with the German military invading countries and pushing back the forces of Great Britain and France. With new leadership needed, Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) is brought in as a Prime Minister who is ready and willing to defend the island nation.
As Churchill enters office, he faces a massive problem with German forces surrounding the British at Dunkirk. Meanwhile, at home, Churchill has to deal with politicians including Viscount Halifax (Stephen Dillane) and Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup) pushing back against the new prime minister’s plan for war and opting to negotiate with Adolf Hitler.
Continue reading “REVIEW: Oldman’s Performance Energizes The Historical Drama In “Darkest Hour””
Legendary director Steven Spielberg takes a shot at one of the biggest battles over the First Amendment in “The Post.”
Like the title lets on, the film follows the staff at the Washington Post, specifically its editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) and the publisher Kay Graham (Meryl Streep). The film picks up in the midst of the Richard Nixon Presidency, just as the Pentagon Papers are first being published by the New York Times.
The publishing upsets the Nixon-led government, though, to the point where an injunction is filed against the Times. The Post, meanwhile, also gets hold of the papers, leading to a question between Graham and Bradlee on whether or not to publish.
Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘The Post’ Is A Journalism Film That’s Good, Not Great”
“Mudbound,” a film that has been released exclusively via streaming on Netflix, is very much a tale of two halves.
The movie introduces two families at the beginning, the McAllans and the Jacksons. The McAllans are a family including Henry (Jason Clarke), his brother Jamie (Garrett Hedlund) and his wife Laura (Carey Mulligan), along with his two daughters. Henry and his family are owners and operators of an old farm in rural Mississippi. The Jacksons, meanwhile, are a family including Hap (Rob Morgan), Forence (Mary J. Blige) and Ronsel (Jason Mitchell), who work on the McAllan’s farm.
The stress of farm life is apparent for both families, a fact that’s made even more visible when both Jamie and Ronsel join the military to fight in World War II. While they’re away, the families work in the southern heat and try to live as best they can. The dynamics of family life on the farm continue to change and evolve once the two men come back home, carrying painful memories of the war overseas.
Continue reading “REVIEW: Great Acting, Strong Second Half Make ‘Mudbound’ Worth Checking Out”
Kenneth Branagh directs and stars in this most recent adaptation of the 1934 Agatha Christie novel.
The film opens with the story’s protagonist, Hercule Poirot (Branagh) investigating a mystery in Jerusalem. After Poirot solves the mystery in quick, convincing fashion, he’s invited to ride on the luxurious Orient Express by his friend Buoc (Tom Bateman) to get a break from all the detective work.
While on board, Poirot meets a number of characters on the fully booked Orient Express, including a sneaky business man named Edward Ratchett (Johnny Depp). After a night where the train is halted because of a blocked railroad, Poirot discovers that Ratchett has been murdered. As a result, Poirot must now solve the murder and uncover clues about Ratchett and the other passengers.
Continue reading “REVIEW: Inconsistent Tone Derails ‘Orient Express’”
Like Director Christopher Nolan’s other films, “Dunkirk” is a well crafted film. However, it’s not on the same level of his other great pictures.
As the title implies, “Dunkirk” is about the evacuation of British forces in early World War II after Germany invades France. The film opens with British troops preparing to evacuate across the English Channel before the German military has a chance to reach them. As this is taking place, the film also gives its focus to members of the Royal Air Force who did battle with the Luftwaffe to help the escape as well as a group of citizens who assisted in the rescue of soldiers from the battle field with their private vessel.
The picture develops by showing the hardships of the soldiers who were constantly under threat of the Luftwaffe while also displaying the bravery of citizens who helped the soldiers with their own ships.
Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Dunkirk’ Is Technically Marvelous, But Lacking In Other Areas”
“The Promise” is a picture that acts as both a historical period piece and a romantic drama. Unfortunately, the latter becomes a weakness to the overall film.
The movie sets itself up at the onset of the first World War in the Ottoman Empire and mainly follows three characters, a medical student named Mikael (Oscar Isaac), an American reporter with the Associated Press named Chris (Christian Bale) and his fiance Ana (Charlotte Le Bon). After the three meet, a romantic triangle begins to develop between them causing some expected friction.
However, the real drama of the film comes as the war deepens and the Armenian Genocide begins. This poses immediate danger to Mikael and Ana as they both have Armenian backgrounds and are forced out of their normal lives. Meanwhile, Chris begins to document both the war and the genocide for the AP.
Continue reading “REVIEW: A Compelling Look At A Historic Tragedy In ‘the Promise’ Held Back By Romantic Subplot”
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the space race of decades past has many inspiring stories of brilliant people, so it’s always a treat when Hollywood visits the subject.
“Hidden Figures” is another such feature. The picture tells the story of Katherine Johnson (Taraji Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae), three women who worked at NASA in the early 1960s in a unit dedicated to all the math for the agency.
Because their work was all about calculations, they were even called computers at the time. As their skills are called upon, though, Katherine is brought into a special task force for NASA’s latest mission, Mary is brought into an engineering unit and Dorothy, meanwhile, works to advance her role as the supervisor of her group. While this is happening, the three women have to face discrimination while also dealing with immense pressure as their work is key to bringing astronauts home safely.
Continue reading “REVIEW: While Predictable, ‘Hidden Figures’ Is A Solid Look At An Important True Story”
Director Peter Berg takes audiences behind the scenes of the Boston Marathon bombing from multiple viewpoints in “Patriots Day.”
While the picture does explore many of the people who were at the bombing and its immediate aftermath, such as Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis (John Goodman), the film largely takes place through the eyes of Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg).
Saunders, who’s a fictional character made to represent Boston police officers, is a sergeant with the department and much of his story revolves around tracking down the two terrorists responsible.
Continue reading “REVIEW: Despite A Poor Main Character, ‘Patriots Day’ Remains A Compelling Cinematic Look At A Horrific Moment”
Pablo Larrain directs and Natalie Portman stars as First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in this in depth look at one of America’s darkest days and the aftermath.
The picture largely takes place in the days after the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, but other time periods are explored, too. While a majority of the picture shows Jackie planning the funeral in the days after the assassination as well her conversations about the events with others, the movie also shows the First Lady’s famous TV tour of the White House and when the Kennedys first arrived in Texas.
As the film unravels, it explores Jackie needing to be a mother, continue being a public figure and take efforts to preserve her husbands legacy.
Continue reading “REVIEW: Superb Acting From Portman Creates A Haunting Portrait Of American Tragedy In ‘Jackie’”