Black Panther (PG-13)

Starring Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther hit theaters last night. Following the events of Captain America: Civil War (2016), T’Challa returns home to the technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to serve as his country’s new King. However, T’Challa is soon challenged for the throne by a tribe within his own country. When two outside foes join forces to destroy Wakanda, T’Challa’s alter ego, Black Panther must team up with the C.I.A. and members of the Dora Milaje, Wakandan special forces, to prevent Wakanda from being responsible for a world war.

When I was about 13 or so, I went to a friend’s house and we had a conversation with her mother. During the course of this conversation, somewhere out of the blue, her mother asked us two young black girls, “If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you want to go?” So, I thought about it and I was like, Greece and she maybe responded,  Europe, or something like that. Her mother then asked my friend and I, “What about Africa? Don’t you want to go see Africa?” The crux of our response was, “Africa???!!! Why would we want to go to Africa? They’re all hungry with flies all over them and their stomachs sticking out? Nobody wants to go there?!” She then proceeded to educate us about how beautiful Africa was and how the media had manipulated us to think that these images were all there were to Africa. And up until that point, because I didn’t seek out any other images, and had given it no thought and simply accepted what I saw to be the truth, honestly, those were literally the only images I had ever seen related to Africa up until that point in my life. She asked why we thought Irish people want to see Ireland, German Americans wish to see Germany, Italian Americans wish to visit Italy, Jewish people want to see Jerusalem, etc., etc., and black people don’t have a desire to go to see Africa? She explained the legacy of slavery and the disconnection from one’s origins, etc., etc., etc. She was the first “woke” woman I ever met, and I’ve been woke ever since, God rest her beautiful, woke soul. Ever since that day, I have wanted to visit the Mother Land. Haven’t been yet, but Africa soon come! So to say I have a soft spot for all things African and African-related, would be an understatement.

I ducked and dodged every trailer, every interview, and every reference to Black Panther, as was humanly possible. I hadn’t seen one clip of it beforehand. I’ve read about the oh so sad white hate group(s) setting out to sabotage the Rotten Tomatoes ratings, I’ve heard a bit about the great pre-sale ticket numbers, I’ve heard about the groups raising money for black children to see a black superhero on film, etc., etc., etc. There’s been so much hype, there’s no way I can come here and tell you that I was not excited af about this movie and all the hype leading up to it. And if I had to come here and tell you how disappointed I was after seeing this movie, I would have remained forever ticked off until the end of time because of it, just so you all know.

Thank the Good Lord, Black Panther delivers all it promised and more! I loved it, and I’m not just saying that because I’m black. This movie is worthy of every friggin’ bloop it earned in production, in action, in acting, in costumes, in effects, in hair and makeup, in set design, in props, in score (loved the score!), in direction, in choreography, and in storytelling. If you go to IMDB and look at the many, many technical jobs this movie created, it is amazing. This thing we have right here… is something special.

Black Panther is a beautiful film, but it isn’t flawless. Now if you follow me at all, you know that I just started watching these superhero movies since I started this blog in April 2016. These movies are popular and if you want people to read your blog and not just to be writing for your own entertainment, you write about the things the masses are interested in. I’ve seen so many movies I would have never otherwise seen on my own in the name of this blog. This exposure has greatly changed my perspective on the Marvel/DC Universes of movies. I have gained a whole new understanding of superheroes and their place in the world and their place in the fantasy lives of the people who love these films and grew up with and love these characters. Like, I get it. Logan was the movie that won me over, and the same elements that drew me to Logan draw me in to Black Panther – a fantasy, action, superhero movie that intersects with reality. For myself personally, I enjoy movies that somehow connect to modern day social issues a bit more than the old, “We have to save the world!” storyline. And similarly to Logan, the release date comes so close after awards season closes – so hopefully, like Logan, Black Panther will stay in the minds of the Powers that Be when award season comes back around again.  (We’ll see how that works out. There are a lot of movies to go through. Even without awards, nothing can take away the things that are great about any movie. What do they know anyway?)

I love that that the majority of the action in Black Panther takes place in Africa, giving the story line this grounded, “reality-based” foundation that makes it feel more credible than if the action took place on some other plane or dimension of existence or on another planet or in space. It becomes believable, as the thoughtful writing of Joe Robert Cole considers the historical pillaging of the African people, land, resources and culture. It also contains themes and messages for the modern black community, America and mankind as a whole, if one pays attention. It feels modern, futuristic and historical all at the same time. This is the true beauty of this movie.

If you’ve read my review of Marshall, I have already made my position on Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa/Black Panther) and his skills clear. The man is talented and his performance was solid. I believe his character could have benefited from a bit more humor. Just a bit. I understand T’Challa carried the weight of his people on his shoulders and there are a lot of characters in this movie that are focused upon, but this character needed more dimension. The role of Erik Killmonger is the perfect vehicle for Michael B. Jordan. Killmonger, in comparison to T’Challa, expresses a range of emotions and is much more fleshed out. The bald ladies (Ayo and Okoye) were terrific (I believe their real names are Florence Kasumba and Danai Gurira), along with the battle skills and feminine battle cries of all the female warriors. Winston Duke nails providing suspense, drama and comic relief. Upcomer, Letitia Right as T’Challa’s sister Shuri, gets an honorable mention as the STEM girl! More of the beauty of this movie is that we get to see black actors stretch themselves performing in roles outside of another friggin’ biopic (not that I don’t love them, but come on already…) or drama featuring a few black people. Black Panther is a whole different animal; pun intended. It’s an opportunity for these artists to show a different side of their chops, and they pulled it off well.

Black Panther earned 8.5 out of 10 bloops. And it’s not just about it being a movie with a whole lot of black people involved, and me being black myself. It is about being a lover of cinema. Regardless of whether you’re a Marvel fan or if you’re black or whatever you are or identify as – if you are a fan of film, Black Panther is a historical feat of diversity and blackness in cinema, in front of and behind the camera; the likes of which has never been witnessed before. As is the case with any film, all types of variables may cause one person to like it more or less than I did; life experiences, perspective, personal taste, and preferences, etc. But I gotta tell ya, it is because I’m black that I got just a wee bit choked up during Black Panther because I was so very proud to see African people positively and powerfully represented in mainstream film, finally. Even in the fantasy realm, I’ll take it.

Thank you for reading. You can scroll down, enter your email address to subscribe to bloopbymimi, and never miss a review or follow me on twitter @bloopbymimi1 

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

What I’m seeing/reviewing next…

As soon as I know, you will know.

Other Reviews

Ready Player One
A Wrinkle in Time

Lady Bird
I, Tonya
The Florida Project
Molly’s Game
The Post
Phantom Thread
Den of Thieves
All the Money in the World
Coco
The Greatest Showman
The Disaster Artist
Call Me By Your Name
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Shape of Water
Marshall
The Man Who Invented Christmas
Victoria and Abdul
Thor: Ragnarok
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Mother!
It
Good Time
Atomic Blonde
Dunkirk
Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming
The Big Sick
Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me 
It Comes at Night 
The Wedding Plan 
Wonder Woman
Everything, everything
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Raw
Kong: Skull Island
Logan
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness 
Get Out
Hidden Figures
Fences
Moonlight
Hell or High Water
Loving
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Nocturnal Animals
Captain Fantastic
Elle
Jackie
I Am Not Your Negro
The Lobster

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Molly’s Game (R)

Starring Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba, Molly’s Game is based on the autobiography of Molly Bloom, an  Olympic skier whose athletic career was thwarted at an early age. Years later, Molly wound up running the country’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game and getting into a some trouble with the law.

I would say that Molly’s Game is a cautionary tale every teen and young adult should watch so they learn there really are no shortcuts, and if they use their powers and gifts for good instead of evil, they may be able to have a decent life; but I cannot. Molly’s Game is an anti-cautionary tale with no moral to it whatsoever. Instead of going to college, this young woman found herself associating with gambling addicts (a $250,000 a game buy-in makes participation more than a hobby), and later, mobsters. She went from being a world class athlete to a drug addict, beaten bloody and robbed. She plunged herself into this toilet bowl of a world, and was so arrogant and naive she expected to come out of it unscathed. Even after the beating/robbery, she continued on and she was later targeted by the FBI in connection with Russian mob dealings she had nothing to do with. As the saying goes, when you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

The parent in me couldn’t help but think that if she had only listened to her father and gone to school she wouldn’t have almost gotten herself killed by the Russian mob, had an FBI file, nor become a drug addict and a felon. The main thing that displeased me about this movie is how the story ended. Usually, I don’t discuss plot in movies this way, but it is necessary here. Since the movie has been out so long, I’m going to proceed with the assumption that if you wanted to see it in the theater, by now you probably would have done so. In the end, Molly is portrayed as this noble, “no snitching,” stand-up sort of gal, when in actuality, she was very foolish. She had an opportunity to walk away with the millions the FBI seized from her (with interest) and a clean record if she turned in emails and recordings of her clients, and she chose not to; citing that she wanted to keep her “good name.” Girl, please! …But what do I know, because of course, things turned out just fine for Molly in the end (thus the anti-cautionary tale part of it all), because although she may have lost all her millions, has a felony record and cannot vote ever again, she wrote a book about her life which was adapted into a movie starring Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba, and she currently earns good money touring the country teaching women the things she learned about business while running her big time gambling operation. Must be nice to have everything work out so well.

I find it difficult to feel sympathetic toward a character, real or fictional, who created the circumstances that led to all her woes. She wasn’t born into poverty, her parents weren’t negligent degenerates and/or drug addicts, she wasn’t some orphan brought up in foster homes, she didn’t have to start a gambling ring to survive, feed a child or keep from living in the streets. She had all her fingers, toes and limbs. She was an otherwise intelligent and capable girl.  She started and grew the largest poker game in America because she was wanted to.  She was naive, greedy and had a big ego that dictated whatever she did, she had to be the best at it without taking into account any measure of common sense (which would have dictated she NOT go forth with this bad idea). The fact that it all works out in the end for her is another reason I couldn’t find myself caring about this character. Where is the lesson? Where’s the consequence? Where’s the struggle? The overcoming? The triumph? The metamorphosis? What is the moral of this movie? You can do terrible things, break laws, associate with slime, and it may go wrong for a little while; but don’t worry – you can be like Molly, and it will aaaaall work out for you in the end? I mean, I’m glad the lady didn’t have to do hard time and was able to pull her life back together somehow, and I’m glad somebody was able to “beat the system,” in a sense, but it doesn’t make for great storytelling or the greatest ending to a movie for me.

Problems with the actual story aside (which it is Molly’s story as she tells it through her eyes, so I guess it is what it is…), everything else about this movie is well done. Chastain and Elba work so well together and have such great chemistry and timing here they are truly a joy to watch. Aaron Sorkin did a fine job directing and the supporting cast did well.

Molly’s Game earned 7.5 out of 8. It’s a good movie, worth seeing (it gets an unofficial bump up to 8 out of 10 bloops because of the fine acting of and chemistry between Chastain and Elba). I don’t know Molly, but she must have some sort of anointing on her life to come out of all she went through unscathed. That is the bigger and more interesting part of the story in my humble opinion. Keep in mind, Molly’s Game runs 2 hours and 20 minutes, but it’s definitely worth a stream at home.

Thank you for reading. You can scroll down, enter your email address to subscribe to bloopbymimi, and never miss a review or follow me on twitter @bloopbymimi1 

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

What I’m seeing/reviewing next…

Black  Panther, of course! See you tomorrow afternoon with that.

Other Reviews

A Wrinkle in Time
Lady Bird
I, Tonya
The Florida Project
Black Panther
Molly’s Game
The Post
Phantom Thread
Den of Thieves
All the Money in the World
Coco
The Greatest Showman
The Disaster Artist
Call Me By Your Name
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Shape of Water
Marshall
The Man Who Invented Christmas
Victoria and Abdul
Thor: Ragnarok
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Mother!
It
Good Time
Atomic Blonde
Dunkirk
Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming
The Big Sick
Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me 
It Comes at Night 
The Wedding Plan 
Wonder Woman
Everything, everything
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Raw
Kong: Skull Island
Logan
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness 
Get Out
Hidden Figures
Fences
Moonlight
Hell or High Water
Loving
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Nocturnal Animals
Captain Fantastic
Elle
Jackie
I Am Not Your Negro
The Lobster

The Post (PG-13)

Starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, The Post tells two stories (at least). First is the story of the publication of the Pentagon Papers which detailed the United State’s involvement in Vietnam (which spanned four U.S. Presidents) and the cover up of said involvement and the details thereof. The second is the story of Katherine (Kay) Graham (Streep), America’s first female Fortune 500 newspaper publisher. During President Richard Nixon‘s tenure, the Washington Post went to court against the U.S. Government (U.S. v. Washington Post Co., 403 U.S. 943 (1971)) to gain the legal right to publish these classified, government documents. With the help of her editor, Benjamin (Ben) Bradley (Hanks), Kay Graham plays a role in an unprecedented battle between government and journalists after the government attempts to suppress it all. Kay Graham is then charged with making sure freedom of speech and the freedom of the press are protected above all else.

The Post is a great movie in the sense that it demonstrates how far women have come since the 70’s. Ms. Graham OWNED the Washington Post and was disregarded, overlooked, and talked over. One of the most powerful scenes takes place in the boardroom when the men in the room shut her down so severely she lost all confidence in what she knew and remained silent. Admittedly, I may have been projecting a bit, but this part of the film brought the entire Weinstein affair to mind. The silence and the silencing of women and their opinions and thoughts that allowed/allows men to run amok. (Another conversation for another time, so I won’t go into all of that too heavily. That’s not what we’re here to discuss. Just thought I’d mention it.)

The acting, of course, is effortless. With two seasoned professionals who are among the best at their craft, the direction of Stephen Spielberg, and such rich, historical material, you can’t really go wrong. I don’t believe anyone could claim it is a terrible movie, or a sub-par movie, but The Post is not without problems.

Written by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer, The Post is a historical drama with great historical significance regarding sexism, politics, the relationship between politicians and the press, the lack of understanding and empathy men have toward the blight of women inside and outside of the workplace, the historical and continued dismissal of women’s voices, etc., etc., etc. It is here that the same thing that makes The Post great makes it sort of a drag, holding it back from greatness. It takes on too many issues. Along with Graham trying to balance family, friendships, social standing and this newspaper she inherited from her father by way of her husband, whose suicide she is still mourning; it just covers too much. It’s about Kay, it’s about the newspaper, it’s about the editor and his wife, and their children, and this Supreme Court case, and feminism and silence and patriarchy and free speech and government transparency, etc., etc., etc. Also, the story telling is very boilerplate. We’ve seen it before in a newsroom drama-type movies. I felt The Post should have, at times, made me want to cheer. I felt the triumphant moments where I should have been cheering and I almost wanted to cheer; unfortunately, I never quite got there.

Given today’s political climate, the numerous sexual harassment allegations, the disgust many feel for the current President and his (and much of the public’s) distrust of the media, The Post is, intentionally or not, certainly a timely movie. The problem is, because the parallels are so obvious and so direct, The Post plays like a modern day allegory which alludes to these issues in the modern day too closely; not like the historical piece that it is supposed to be. I understand Ms. Graham’s story is her story and there is nothing to be done about that, but The Post feels heavily bogged down with information, themes and story lines.

The Post earned 7.5 out of 10 bloops. I have to stop short of calling it “great.” It is a good movie worth watching for its historical content, but the message gets muddled due to far too much information being packed into one hour and 56 minutes. I can only speak for myself, but I go to the movies for that elusive escape. Most times, I want to be immersed in something that doesn’t directly mirror what is going on in real life on such a large scale; something not so “on the nose,” if you will. And if it is “on the nose,” I need it to be perfectly executed; make me laugh really hard, then make me cry, and then make me think. Move me somehow. Here I was unmoved. If you enjoy a newsroom drama, Streep and/or Hanks and/or Spielberg, or have an interest in law, journalism, free speech and freedom of the press, pioneering women and/or women’s rights, I recommend you see it. I am interested in all these things, but you still may like it more than I did.

Thank you for reading. You can scroll down, enter your email address to subscribe to bloopbymimi, and never miss a review or follow me on twitter @bloopbymimi1 

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

What I’m reviewing next…

Molly’s Game

Other Reviews

A Wrinkle in Time
Lady Bird
I, Tonya
The Florida Project
Black Panther
Molly’s Game
Molly’s Game
The Post
Phantom Thread
Den of Thieves
All the Money in the World
Coco
The Greatest Showman
The Disaster Artist
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Shape of Water
Marshall
The Man Who Invented Christmas
Victoria and Abdul
Call Me By Your Name
Marshall
The Man Who Invented Christmas
Victoria and Abdul
Thor: Ragnarok
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Mother!
It
Good Time
Atomic Blonde
Dunkirk
Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming
The Big Sick
Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me 
It Comes at Night 
The Wedding Plan 
Wonder Woman
Everything, everything
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Raw
Kong: Skull Island
Logan
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness 
Get Out
Hidden Figures
Fences
Moonlight
Hell or High Water
Loving
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Nocturnal Animals
Captain Fantastic
Elle
Jackie
I Am Not Your Negro
The Lobster