Monday, February 1, 2021

52 Films By Women Challenge - Professor Marston and The Wonder Women (2017) and D.E.B.S. (2004)

In 2015, the Los Angeles' Women in Film started a challenge to watch one film by a female director every week for a year. I've seen this floating around social media and movie blogs for a while, and always meant to join in. For 2021, I finally decided to try it out this year as one of my resolutions. 

Every week I thought it'd be fun to do a quick round-up of the film(s) I've watched for the challenge. The films I chose for the challenge are on letterboxd - if you want to see the slate so far - but I'm not going in an particular order of alphabetical or chronological.

I'm still playing catch-up to post my thoughts from the past few weeks. My next two films are directed by Angela Robinson - Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017) and D.E.B.S (2004).

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Thursday Movie Picks Television Edition: 2020 Freshmen Series

Wandering Through the Shelves hosts Thursday Movie Picks. It's a weekly series where bloggers post and share various movie picks every Thursday. 

The rules are simple: based on the theme of the week pick three to five movies and tell us why you picked them. For further details and the schedule visit the series main page here.

This week is TMP Television Edition: 2020 Freshmen Series - shows that had their first season last year. I discovered during lockdown that I'm not an avid binge-watcher as I thought I would be. My picks were pretty limited, and I wasn't crazy about these. I would not blame anyone for just skipping this post.

Friday, January 22, 2021

52 Films By Women Challenge - A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019) and Troop Zero (2019)

In 2015, the Los Angeles' Women in Film started a challenge to watch one film by a female director every week for a year. I've seen this floating around social media and movie blogs for a while, and always meant to join in. For 2021, I finally decided to try it out this year as one of my resolutions. 

Every week I thought it'd be fun to do a quick round-up of the film(s) I've watched for the challenge. The films I chose for the challenge are on letterboxd - if you want to see the slate so far - but I'm not going in an particular order of alphabetical or chronological. 

Since I started writing this series late, I'm playing a little bit of catch-up. My next two films are A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2020) and Troop Zero (2019)

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Thursday Movie Picks - Police Detective

Wandering Through the Shelves hosts Thursday Movie Picks. It's a weekly series where bloggers post and share various movie picks every Thursday. 

The rules are simple: based on the theme of the week pick three to five movies and tell us why you picked them. For further details and the schedule visit the series main page here.

This week is Police Detectives. 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

One Night In Miami (2021)

There are moments where we'd do anything to know what the walls would say if they could talk. Sometimes films gives us the opportunity to piece together history as best as possible or simply imagine what might've been. For Regina King making her directorial film debut, she sets her sights on capturing a seemingly everyday get-together that just so happens to feature four of the 20th Century's biggest icons.

Based on a fictional account of a real event,  boxer Cassius Clay (Eli Goree), football player Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge), singer Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr), and activist Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir) join together for an evening in Miami, Florida. The former three assume their reunion is to celebrate Clay winning his first world heavyweight championship bout, but Malcolm X has a more laid-back idea in mind - ruminate about their lives including faith, racism, Black excellence, and their futures.

Similar to a musical, dialogue-driven films can be hard to suspend our disbelief, especially when it's based on a play. One location with a limited amount of characters can feel heavy-handed. It might not be the biggest source as a box office draw or draw the most amount of movie-goers, but it’s a good start for a Hollywood veteran to make her mark behind the camera.

As an ensemble, each actor shines individually and together as a group. Though One Night In Miami centers around four historical figures, a good portion of the story belongs to Malcolm X and Sam Cooke. Abdir maintains a good sense of Malcolm X with the familiar "prophet-mode" reputation he's popularly recognized for and the emotional toll of seeking Black excellence for all - you could say the movie is told mainly through how he sees his fate and struggles with the finality of his friends' influence enduring long after they're gone. Odom Jr. completely breaks free of his performance of Hamilton's Aaron Burr, letting us see Cooke as the powerful yet conflicted icon he was and still is. Their fellow castmates - Eli Goree and Aldis Hodge are just as influential but are used more subtly. Clay could've been a caricature, but Goree makes him well-rounded as well as boisterous and spirited; Hodge gives a soft yet stern performance to Brown - he isn't given much to do, but when he's on-screen, it's hard to turn your attention to anything else. This isn’t to say that Goree and Hodge aren’t as influential, but they’re more like tag team partners used to be the voice of reason as the tension builds between the main duo.

If we know who these men are by hearing or reading their name, the film doesn’t buy into making them larger-than-life or using their names for clout. Over the film’s running time, screenwriter Kemp Powers (who also wrote the play) captures what could’ve occurred between the four friends since no record of the conversation or what happened exists. The Civil Rights movement serving as the film's setting naturally invites a reflection of our current social and racial climate, but doesn't make the characters or what they express too over-the-top or heavy-handed. Powers explores a wide breadth of experiences and choices that let us see their vulnerabilities as real human beings and their influence as future icons, and does so with an equal amount of banter and tension that makes their evening together intriguing and entertaining.

One Night In Miami relies mostly on script and actors to hold your interest, but this doesn’t count King out as a solid director. The film might not helm a huge budget or showcase all the style in the world for the story, but she and her team (cinematography, costume design, and production design in particular) know exactly what they want – where the camera should be, the seamless blocking, etc. Even though it’s based on a play, it doesn’t feel like King forcefully wants you to feel like you’re at the theatre. Instead she lets the characters become three-dimensional on their own and works with them or around them, and leaves you with an impression of how the evening would unfold realistically and on stage. The film isn’t the darkest drama, riotous comedy, or meatiest biopic, but it’s an engaging exhibition of her efforts in front of, and now behind the camera, that's been worth the wait.

Rating:
Have you seen One Night In Miami? What did you think?
One Night In Miami is now on Amazon Prime.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Thursday Movie Picks - 2020 Releases

Wandering Through the Shelves hosts a fun series Thursday Movie Picks. Every week spotlights a different theme for bloggers to choose 3-5 picks. This week is 2020 Releases. I have so many movies to catch up with, these picks came pretty easily,  but I'm afraid I'll find other movies I like more in the upcoming month that I'm desperately trying to catch up with that could've been here instead. Either way, here are a few random releases I enjoyed.

Honorable mention: I was going to include Portrait of a Lady on Fire since I saw it in theaters right as the pandemic started...but it was officially released in 2019. I didn't know it would count? Oh well.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

52 Films By Women Challenge - The Edge of Seventeen (2016)


In 2015, the Los Angeles' Women in Film started a challenge to watch one film by a female director every week for a year. I've seen this floating around social media and movie blogs for a while, and always meant to join in. For 2021, I finally decided to try it out this year as one of my resolutions.

Every week I thought it'd be fun to do a quick round-up of the film(s) I've watched for the challenge. The films I chose for the challenge are on letterboxd - if you want to see the slate so far - but I'm not going in an particular order of alphabetical or chronological. 

My first film is The Edge of Seventeen (2016)