Shaft (R)

Written by Kenya Barris  (Blackish/Grownish/Mixed-ish)/Alex Barnow, directed by Tim Story, and starring Samuel Jackson and Jessie T. Usher, Shaft (2019), (a follow up to Jackson’s 2000 installment of Shaft) focuses on John Shaft, Jr., (Usher) enlisting the help of his father (Jackson) to solve the mystery surrounding the death of a close, childhood friend.

Shaft (2019), while billed as action/comedy/crime, maintains elements from the much less funny original Shaft (1971) with drug families/kingpins, heroin deals, a crumbling/crime-riddled/dope infested, Harlem, lots of profanity (some of it is pretty funny, depending on your sense of humor and tolerance for foul language), and the N word is still acceptable to use. This could have been a difficult movie to execute given today’s politically correct climate, but it is thoughtfully balanced using a “millennial vs. older generation” approach to examine what once was acceptable and what isn’t so cool to do or say today, as each generation learns something from the other. Toxic masculinity is touched on in a smart, subtle way that doesn’t feel preachy at all.

Regina Hall is just nuts with her loud, hilarious, hysterical, rantings. By the end of the movie I was sick of her mouth in a hilarious sort of way. Usher can be a pretty funny guy. He reminds me of Nick Cannon at times. Jackson does what Jackson does and he does it well, as usual. And it is always a treat to see Richard Roundtree.

The humor is enjoyable as the jokes land well and without feeling forced most times. I must say, the cussing gets to be a bit much after a while, when the cuss is used as the joke over and over again. This repetitive mechanism diminished the quality of the film as the words started to strike my ear as annoying and overdone. I’m not easily offended by cuss words and use them with vigor in my private life and even once in a while on this here blog when I feel no other word will do, so I’m not easily offended by cursing. It’s just that sometimes, less is more and in this case, a little editing would have gone a very long way.

The story, while formulaic and mostly predictable, is mostly well written and very well paced. The addition of the issue of health care for veterans and how war is sometimes used to cover up other activities is interesting (even though we’ve seen this device/situation before as a means of moving drugs). Some of the key elements of the plot are “talked through” rather than put into scenes in the actual movie, which weakens the story, but I’ll allow it because the movie is just about the perfect length at an hour and 51 minutes. (Although it was somewhat enjoyable, the musical montage in the beginning could have been cut to make way for more present day story telling. We get it. Shaft was an absent father. No need to belabor the point. His Christmas presents are hilarious though.) The music/soundtrack is energetic. The action is adequate with gun-to-gun, hand-to-hand, knife-to-gun battles.

Shaft earned 7 bloops out of 10. I would have rated it 6.0, but whatever problems the movie may have had, I was invested in it and enjoyed it from beginning to end, so I gave it an entire extra bloop. Shaft is light, enjoyable, time-killing, summer fare that doesn’t pretend or attempt to be anything other than what it is, plot holes and all. And I would watch it again someday. Not now of course. I have too many more movies to see… but someday.

***

Thank you for reading. You can scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, hit the “follow” button and enter your email address to subscribe to bloopbymimi, and never miss a review; or you can follow me on twitter (which I must get more savvy with and active on!) @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 next…

I am still way behind in my movie viewing/reviewing.

Next up is Men In Black: Internataional (I saw it yesterday) Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Aladdin. Here are a few films I’m looking forward to seeing/reviewing and their release dates:

6/21   Child’s Play
6/28   Yesterday
7/5     Spiderman: Far from Home
7/5     Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am
7/12   Stuber
7/12   21 Bridges
7/19   The Lion King
7/26   Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
8/2     The New Mutants
8/9     The Kitchen
Then there is a load of questionable movies between 8/9 and 9/6 that don’t look very interesting at all, until we arrive at –
9/6     It: Chapter Two
9/13   The Goldfinch
9/12   Spies in Disguise
9/20   Rambo: Last Blood
9/20   Downton Abbey

 

Other Reviews (Please excuse the look of this section. It is STILL a work in progress.)

Rocketman
Shazam
Dumbo
Us
Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood
The Wife
If Beale Street Could Talk
What Men Want
Eighth Grade                          Vice                                                     Roma
Mary Queen of Scots            Widows                                              The Favourite
Green Book                            Halloween                                         Nobody’s Fool
Bohemian Rhapsody            Beautiful Boy                                    The Hate U Give
First Man                                Assassination Nation                       The Oath
A Star is Born                        The House with a Clock in Its Walls  A Simple Favor

The Predator                           BlackkKlansman                              Support the Girls
Peppermint                             Christopher Robin                            Crazy Rich Asians
The Happytime Murders      RBG                                                     Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Sorry to Bother You               
You Were Never Really Here
Rampage                                   A Quiet Place                                   Ready Player One
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

https://s.pubmine.com/sandbox.html

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

 

Ma (R)

*Although I try my hardest not to do it, this review may contain spoilers

***

Written by Scotty Landis (his first feature film!),  directed by actor/director/writer/produce Tate Taylor (he also directed Get on Up, The Girl on the Train (my review in the link) and The Help, to name a few) , and starring Octavia Spencer, Ma features Spencer as a lonely woman who befriends a bunch of partying teens she entertains in her basement. It’s all love, booze and good times, until Ma loses her shit.

Ma is billed as a horror/thriller movie. It’s absolutely a thriller and a mystery of sorts. It gets a little bit gory at times and there are some frightening moments that raise it to the level of a horror flick. Ma is what I call “smart” horror because the story doesn’t involve supernatural forces. Just a regular, functioning, mentally/emotionally damaged person who is a ticking time bomb, waiting to be set off.

My problem with Ma is I would have never gone back to Ma’s to “party” after the first night. Hell, I would have never gone to Ma’s in the first place. Not even at 17. But that’s the native New Yawka in me, I suppose. So, for me the credibility of the entire premise falls apart very early on. I had to transfer myself to a small town where there is no place for kids to hang out, get drunk and make out and/or fornicate, to get to a place where I could continue. And I don’t regret staying with it. I’m just saying, the signs of the crazy were there early on and these teens, being self absorbed and oblivious, as some teens sometimes are, see none of it until it is too late.

Once I was finally able to put myself aside and get into the shoes of these teens, I kept getting knocked out of those shoes by a chain of events that relied upon people doing stupid things that no reasonable, thinking person would do. So, things would be going along well with the story, I’m all invested, and then, Boom! Somebody does something stupid again and I’m in the theater cussing under my breath at the screen!!!

The mystery of Ma is pretty entertaining as you’ll sit and wait to find out exactly why Ma is so crazy.  You get hints and glimmers of what happened and the reveal is pretty horrific if you (again) put yourself in Ma’s shoes. The reveal brings about a certain amount of empathy for Ma, and thinking about it in modern day bullying terms, you really kind of understand her humiliation and rage toward these people in this small town where she grew up and still sees and interacts with these imbeciles regularly.

What makes Ma interesting is how the plot is structured so that we get to see the history of the people who grew up in this small town and where all the players ended up, how their lives turned out, how their children are a reflection of them in one way or another, how little a-holes often grow up to become big a-holes and how traumatic events can cause long term damage on a bullied person.

The acting is solid. Octavia Spencer never disappoints. She just keeps getting better with her subtleties. She can raise an eyebrow, or open her mouth wide, or wink or squint, or change the angle of her smile and change the entire mood of a scene. And to see her dancing is hilarious and joyful. I love Allison Janney and the chemistry between her and Spencer (I’m sure I’ve advised this before, but if you have not watched them together on Mom, do so immediately!) is always delightful.  Diana Silvers does a good job as Maggie. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her because she looks somewhat like a Julia Roberts/Anne Hathaway hybrid.

Ma earned 7 bloops out of 10. Although far from perfect, it’s a good movie that’s worth seeing. It is (mostly) well written, true to life, horror that doesn’t rely on jump scares. Pretty good for a horror movie with absolutely no supernatural element involved. Humans are the monsters. Go figure…

***

Thank you for reading. You can scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, hit the “follow” button and enter your email address to subscribe to bloopbymimi, and never miss a review; or you can follow me on twitter (which I must get more savvy with and active on!) @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 next…

I am waaaay behind in my movie viewing. I’ve been laid up the last few weeks after surviving my first (and hopefully my last) cardiac event. I had to brought back with the paddles and everything on Easter Sunday you all! It was a trip, to say the least. Physically, I’m fine. Emotionally, I’m just starting to feel like myself again, so let’s get this blog back up and running!

Next up is Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Aladdin. (I have some older reviews to throw up “Throwback Thursday” style and a couple of book reviews of books being made into movies coming as well.) Summer movie season is upon us, and here are a few films I’m looking forward to seeing/reviewing and their release dates:

6/14   MIB International
6/14   Shaft
6/21   Child’s Play
6/28   Yesterday
7/5     Spiderman: Far from Home
7/5     Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am
7/12   Stuber
7/12   21 Bridges
7/19   The Lion King
7/26   Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
8/2     The New Mutants
8/9     The Kitchen
Then there is a load of questionable movies between 8/9 and 9/6 that don’t look very interesting at all, until we arrive at –
9/6     It: Chapter Two
9/13   The Goldfinch
9/12   Spies in Disguise
9/20   Rambo: Last Blood
9/20   Downton Abbey

Other Reviews (Please excuse the look of this section. It is STILL a work in progress.)
Rocketman
Shazam
Dumbo
Us
Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood
The Wife
If Beale Street Could Talk
What Men Want
Eighth Grade                          Vice                                                     Roma
Mary Queen of Scots            Widows                                              The Favourite
Green Book                            Halloween                                         Nobody’s Fool
Bohemian Rhapsody            Beautiful Boy                                    The Hate U Give
First Man                                Assassination Nation                       The Oath
A Star is Born                        The House with a Clock in Its Walls  A Simple Favor

The Predator                           BlackkKlansman                              Support the Girls
Peppermint                             Christopher Robin                            Crazy Rich Asians
The Happytime Murders      RBG                                                     Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Sorry to Bother You               
You Were Never Really Here
Rampage                                   A Quiet Place                                   Ready Player One
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

https://s.pubmine.com/sandbox.html

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