REVIEW: While flawed, ‘BlacKkKlansman’ is an engaging take on a wild true story

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.

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REVIEW: ‘The Post’ Is A Journalism Film That’s Good, Not Great

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.

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REVIEW: Although Plotting Isn’t Perfect, ‘Detroit’ Is Still An Important, Well Made Film That Deserves A Watch

One of the most horrific acts of police brutality is portrayed in “Detroit,” the latest film from Academy Award winning director Kathryn Bigelow.

The film brings audiences into the city of Detroit in 1967, when a massive race riot took place. As the unrest heightened, more law enforcement and even the National Guard were called in to restore order. As this takes place, viewers are introduced to a number of characters, including a security guard, Dismukes (John Boyega), a Detroit police officer, Krauss (Will Poulter) and a singer who gets caught up in the riots named Larry (Algee Smith).

Once the characters are introduced, they all converge at the Algiers Motel. There, because officers heard gun shots, a squad of police led by Krauss enter the hotel and torture the occupants staying there in an attempt to find out who did the ‘shooting.’ The actions by the officers eventually leads to three men dying and the film then showcases the following legal proceedings.

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REVIEW: A Compelling Look At A Historic Tragedy In ‘the Promise’ Held Back By Romantic Subplot

“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.

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Oscar Docs: A Look At The Front-Runners “13th” And “Made In America”

The Academy Award for Best Documentary has five nominees, but the competition has more or less narrowed to two.

The pair of candidates includes “13th” and “O.J.: Made in America.” In both films, race is a central matter that’s deeply explored and well connected to their respective core subjects.

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Trumbo movie review

Director:

  • Jay Roach

Cast:

  • Bryan Cranston
  • Diane Lane
  • Helen Mirren
  • Louis C.K.
  • Roger Bart
  • John Goodman
  • Rated: R

Bryan Cranston plays the title character and legendary Oscar winning screenwriter in “Trumbo” which picks up with the lives of the protagonists just as the Red Scare is starting to pick up.

The fear of communism is on full display in the movie and one of the targets of that fear is Dalton Trumbo as well as other Hollywood writers. The film documents this struggle with the Red Scare, mainly through Trumbo’s perspective, featuring how they had to go to jail and were even blacklisted from working in the film industry.

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Our Brand is Crisis review

Director:
David Gordon Green
Cast:
Sandra Bullock
Billy Bob Thornton
Anthony Mackie
Joaquim de Almeida
Ann Dowd
Rated: R

“Our Brand is Crisis” is based off a documentary of the same name and tells the story of an election in Bolivia in the early 2000s. Sandra Bullock plays Jane in the film, an experienced political strategist who has been tasked with helping a specific candidate win.

The film explores the different tactics that were used in the election and shows the game that is played for voters.

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Bridge of Spies review

Director:
Steven Spielberg
Cast:
Tom Hanks
Mark Rylance
Domenick Lombardozzi
Rated: PG-13

Tom Hanks is insurance lawyer James B. Donovan in “Bridge of Spies,” a film which takes place in the late 1950s when the Cold War started to intensify. Donovan is a family person and is for most purposes, an every-man. This changes when U.S. agents arrest a suspected Soviet spy named Rudolf Abel (Rylance) and request Donovan to defend the operative in court to show that the country provides fair justice.

While a bit reluctant, Donovan decides to take up the case which subsequently presents challenges for his day to day life. For example he gets firsthand experience with the Red Scare and begins conversing with officials from agencies such as the CIA.

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Sicario review

Director:
Denis Villeneuve
Cast:
Emily Blunt
Benicio Del Toro
Josh Brolin
Victor Garber
Rated: R

“Sicario” is directed by Denis Villeneuve, who helmed my favorite picture of 2013 “Prisoners.” The director returns for another dark film with “Sicario,” which follows an FBI agent named Kate Macer (Blunt) who joins up with an elite government task force to fight the drug war on the southern U.S. border.

Kate quickly finds out that the team, led by agent Matt Graver (Brolin) and an expert hired by the government named Alejandro (Del Toro) don’t exactly operate within all the boundaries of the law.

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Selma review

Director:
Ava DuVernay
Cast:
David Oyelowo
Carmen Ejogo
Tom Wilkinson
Dylan Baker
Tim Roth
Rated: PG-13

As the title suggests, “Selma” tells the story of Martin Luther King’s (Oyelowo) leadership during the Civil Rights Movement during the march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama. The film starts off by showing why the movement comes to Selma and chronicles all of the events leading to the march through the state.

While the movie is focused on King’s journey in leading the movement, it also gives time to show the reactions of prominent figures such as President Lyndon B. Johnson (Wilkinson) and Alabama Governor George Wallace (Roth), as well as how the entire civil rights movement weighs on King’s family life.

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