Movie Review: Mudbound 

Mudbound scene

Last week, Mudbound premiered in select theaters and streamed on Netflix.

Mudbound is a period drama film directed by Dee Rees and is based on the 2008 novel of the same name. The film features stars like Jason Mitchell, Mary J. Blige, Carey Mulligan and Garrett Hedlund.

Mudbound is set in 1945 shortly after World War II in rural Mississippi, a time and place where Jim Crow laws were alive and well. The film focuses on the of lives of two families who coexist on the McAllan family’s farmland.

The Jackson’s are a family of sharecroppers who unwillingly welcome the incoming McAllan family members that moved to Mississippi to start a new life. The Jacksons are a family of sharecroppers who struggle to maintain the land they have along with other racial and societal barriers they must deal with. Florence (Mary J. Blige) and Hap (Rob Morgan) Jackson do the best with what little they have so they can raise their children and protect them from the evils of the world. Their eldest son, Ronsel (Jason Mitchell) sets off to Europe to fight in WWI. Ronsel sees a side of the world that is unlike anything at home. The way of life and the way black people are received in Europe baffled him which he expressed in his letters that he wrote to his family back in Mississippi.

Then, there is the McAllan family who have come from their Memphis home with the intent to turn the McAllan land into a farm again. Henry (Jason Clarke) drives down with his openly racist father, Pappy (Jonathan Banks), wife, Laura (Carey Mulligan), and their daughters. The land the McAllan’s own is also the same land that the Jackson family sharecrop a portion of.

Two soldiers return to the Mississippi town after fighting in the war. Jamie McAllan returns home to his family as hero who is battling PTSD. Ronsel comes back home a hero like Jamie McAllan, but with less recognition and more racism. An unlikely friendship forms between the soldiers who come from two completely different backgrounds, but share the same mental struggles that the war inflicted upon them. Their friendship isn’t well received by the racists in the town who force Jamie to make a life changing decision in effort to severe their friendship.

Mudbound was heart wrenching and captivating. It touched on the realities of the black war heroes who explored the world and saw what it had to offer besides blatant racism. Moreover, I think that the film embodied the struggles that many black people faced while living in the south. There was scene where Ronsel had just come back home with all of his honorary badges on and was shopping in a local store for his family. As he went to head out the front door, he encountered Pappy McAllan who demanded that he leave out the backdoor and called him a nigger. The sacrifices black people had to make in order to save their lives and stroke the egos of the racist whites is unmeasurable. The McAllans were generally “tolerable” of black people, but they were unnecessarily inconsiderate when it came to the requests that they made of them. Henry requested that Florence come help his sick children in the wee hours of the night and then his wife, Laura asked that she permanently stay to help with the children with no regard to her own family and household. The actors did a great job especially Mary J. Blige she blew me away. I really enjoyed this movie and can’t wait to see what else Dee Rees has in store for the film industry.

Advertisements

Stephen King Brought his Creepy Novella, 1922 to Life on Netflix

I was on Netflix looking for something new to watch and came across Stephen King’s film, 1922. 1922 is kind of a horror/thriller drama that chronicles the life of Wilfred James after he murders his wife, Arlette with help from his son, Henry.

1922-netflix-original

Wilfred comes off as a simple man who lives on a farm with his wife and son. Arlette has inherited the land that they currently live on from her father who recently died. She expressed to Wilfred that she would like to sell her father’s land and collect the money so that the family can move to Omaha. The family is at odds because they both have opposing views on the fate of the farm. Wilfred is dead set on keeping Arlette’s farm so he conspires to kill her and gets his son to assist him.

1922-920x584

Wilfred’s life after murdering Arlette is basically in shambles figuratively and literally. Everyday he must endure the guilt and hauntings his dead wife. Her death seems to plague the home he once shared with his family along with the crops.

1922-king-film-netflix

Wilfred’s life goes downhill really fast even though it initially seemed to be working out. He thought his plan to kill his wife and make it seem as if she had run off without him would be seamless in such a slow and small town. However, awhile, the farm falls apart, the house falls apart, money is low and Henry leaves him behind for a forbidden love. Arlette’s grotesque body followed by a swarm of rats haunts Wilfred by telling him things only a dead woman would know that disturbs him and leaves him miserable wishing to die.

e62abccee68e54c90b288a3c6e9858b1260099b1

This movie is the embodiment of creepy, bizarre and depressing.

Initially I expected this be a horror film, but it was more of a thriller to me. There were some spooky moments, but it was more of a thriller with gross scenes. Wilfred and Henry’s lives were never the same after they executed their plan to kill Arlette.

List of Must See Horror Movies

Halloween is coming up and I think it’s necessary to compile a list of horror movies to watch for when you’re laid up with bae or having a movie night with friends.

I feel like it’s so cliché to include Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th which are all cult classics, but there are plenty of slept on movies out here. Check out my list below

The Strangers (2008) – Kristen (Liv Tyler) and James (Scott Speedman) are expecting a relaxing weekend at a family vacation home in a woodsy and secluded area, but their stay turns out to be the opposite. A mysterious woman arrives the vacation knocking on the door relentlessly looking for someone they don’t know. A series of strange things happen as the couple is forced to fight for their lives as a group of masked and sadistic people taunt and torture them.

V/H/S (2012) – crooks who are hired to steal a rare VHS tape from a remote house. Once getting to the house they find cryptic footage, old TVs and a dead body.

Evil Dead (2013) – The remake of the original 1981 film is about Mia (Jane Levy), a drug addict who is determined to kick the habit. In effort to become drug free she asks her brother, David (Shiloh Fernandez), his girlfriend, Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) along with their friends. They all go to Mia and David’s family forest cabin. One of their friends, Eric discovers a book called the Book of the Dead that he reads aloud and awaken an ancient demon.

The Serbian Film (2010)– An old Serbian porn star (Srdjan Todorovic) who’s struggling to make ends meet for his family decides to do one last film for a large lump some of money. Unfortunately and unknowingly, he agrees to do an adult film that contains pedophilia, necrophilia and death.

28 Days Later (2003) – A group of misguided animal rights activists free a caged chimp infected with the “Rage” virus from a medical research lab. London bike courier, Jim (Cillian Murphy) wakes up from a coma a month after the activists freed the infected chimps. After leaving the very hospital, he finds the city stranded and lifeless. While running away from zombies he bumps into a group of suvivors, Selena (Naomie Harris) and cab driver, Frank (Brendan Gleeson). Jim joins them on an uncertain journey to safety.

Darkness (2004) – Paul (Stephan Enquist) and his older sister, Regina (Anna Paquin), unpack and settle into their new country home with their parents. The morale in the house slowly becomes dark and tense. Strange things start to happen in the house. Supernatural occurrences began happening more regularly. As Regina digs into the dark history of her family’s home she struggles to uncover the reasoning behind the macabre presence. As the supernatural occurrences get more intense and threatening, Regina looks into the house’s dark history and struggles to uncover the reason behind the grim presence. This one of my favorite movies that delves deep into dark magic and cults.

Dark Skies (2013) – Lacy (Keri Russell) and Daniel Barrett (Josh Hamilton) live in the suburbs with their sons, Jesse (Dakota Goyo) and Sam (Kadan Rockett). However, that peace soon shatters with a series of disturbing events that escalate. When it becomes clear that their family is being targeted by an unimaginably terrifying, deadly — and possibly alien — threat, Daniel and Lacy draw on their courage and determination to protect their family and identify what is after them. I was so paranoid after watching this movie. I kept checking behind my ears.

Drag Me To Hell (2009) – Christine has a loving boyfriend (Justin Long) and a great job at a Los Angeles bank, but her heavenly life becomes hellish when she doesn’t grant a gypsy woman’s request. In an effort to impress her boss Christine denies the woman’s request and in retaliation the woman places a curse on her. Christine attempts to get help from a psychic in order to break the curse, but the price may be too steep. This movie made me be more conscious of how I treat people.

V/H/S (2012) – crooks who are hired to steal a rare VHS tape from a remote house. Once getting to the house they find cryptic footage, old TVs and a dead body.

Human Centipede (2009) – A deranged surgeon (Dieter Laser) drugs and sutures three unsuspecting tourists together through their gastric systems for his sick and twisted experiment. If you’re squeamish don’t watch this. This movie is not for the weak hearted.

The Descent (2005)–  Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) goes to North Carolina to spend some time exploring caves with her friends after experiencing some emotional trauma. After Sarah and her friends descend underground and into the caves, they discover strange cave paintings and evidence of an earlier expedition. They soon learn they are not alone in the cave as they encounter the underground predators who inhabit the cave.

Skeleton Key (2005) – Caroline Ellis (Kate Hudson) is a nurse living in New Orleans who quits her job at a hospice to work for an elderly woman, Violet Devereaux (Gena Rowlands) whose husband, Ben (John Hurt) is in poor health after having a stroke. Caroline starts to explore the couple’s Bayou mansion and she discovers some strange things that opens the door for her to learn about the house’s mysterious past. Caroline soon learns about the sinister secret that Violet has been keeping from her.

Hostel (2005) – Best friends Josh (Derek Richardson) and Paxton (Jay Hernandez) go backpackingg across Europe after graduating from college.The pair stop in Amsterdam to indulge in sex and drugs where they Oli, a tourist from Iceland. The three hang out together and look into the rumors of an enticing Slovakian hostel full of lusty women, but find themselves drawn into a deadly game instead.

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) – Four friends are driving down a dark road and accidentally hit a fisherman. They realize they killed the fisherman so they dump his body. A year later of them receives a letter letting them know that they witnessed the crime. From that point on, the friends are stalked by a killer with a hook. This movie is one of my favorites from the 90s.

Wrong Turn (2003) – A Group of friends are traveling through West Virginia when they start to have car trouble. They’re stranded and soon discover that they’re being stalked by backwoods cannibals. This movie confirmed my feelings and notions about WV.

High Tension/Haute Tension (2005) A young French woman, Alex (Maïwenn Le Besco), travels out to the country to visit her family and she her friend, brings Marie (Cécile de France) with her. Shortly after they get settled in, Alex’s parents are brutally attacked by a truck driver who breaks into the home. The killer proceeds to stalk the women as well. The killer kidnaps Alex so Marie hides in the back of the truck to save her friend not knowing the horror that is to come.

Movie Review: The Incredible Jessica James

139ba3eecd2df4d6fa438634bb3e50fadbdc8453

I’m really starting to appreciate Netflix’s original series and movies more. One of my most recent favorites is The Incredible Jessica James (2017). The film stars Jessica Williams, Lakeith Stanfield and Chris O’Dowd.

The film is about Jessica, a young black woman who is the embodiment of eccentric and colorful. Jessica is a struggling playwright living in NYC . She’s going through a recent breakup and trying to navigate through life. While dating she finds an unlikely love interest who has her smitten and rethinking some of the things in her life.

I feel like this particular film is something that was much needed because it focused on the life of an artistic, black woman rather than the typical movie about the quirky white girl next door. Another thing that I like about the movie is that it was realistic. Jessica didn’t have a ton of friends, she was awkward and funny instead of being portrayed as a hyper sexualized woman who couldn’t get her life together. It also focused on the struggle of getting over an ex and eventually making amends which I like because people shouldn’t have to feel so toxic and torn after a breakup.

Despite the good things, I did not like that Jessica’s love interest which was a white collar white man who just came into her life via a blind date that her friend sent her on. He miraculously swept her off her feet like she was damsel in distress and he was her knight in shining armor. In the movie industry, it’s so cliche to have a black woman play a conflicted character who is trying to figure it all out with the help of her white friend who makes snarky comments or she has a white love interest who is coming into her life as a savior to give her clarity and solutions to all her problems.

The movie was really dope despite the white savior aspect. Jessica James was living her best life not knowing what was next for her or what was the right way to cope after a break up. I was happy to see a black girl be at the forefront of a film all about her and her life.

Movie Review: IT

It is based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, which released on September 8, 2017. Prior to this film there was a mini series that aired in 1990.

The film follows a group of 13 year old misfits that are labeled as the “Losers Club” and live in Derry, Maine. After a significant amount of missing children reports, Bill, who is apart of the Losers Club, has a little brother that has mysteriously gone missing. He uses the little bit of courage that he can muster up along with the help of his friends to figure out what is causing the children in their town to go missing. As he and his friends dig deep and uncover secrets of their seemingly quaint town they soon realize they must fight against their deepest fears along with fighting the thing that lives and thrives off their fears.

If you’ve seen the movie then you’ve noticed in the end credits it said “chapter 1”, which hints at there being a sequel coming soon. *Spoiler not but really a spoiler* In Stephen King’s novel and in the film, the protagonists made a blood oath to return to Derry and fight off It/Pennywise and the gang inevitably return to Derry as adults to face him Pennywise once again.

I think this movie initially wasn’t highly anticipated, but it grabbed the interest of people once the release date neared. It was a smash at the box office with an estimated $60 million haul, which made it the highest grossing September release ever.

I would definitely say that It has Annabelle: Creation beat. This film was one of the scariest movies of 2017. It wasn’t that eerie but it’s as close as the horror genre is going to get these days. There was a scene where one of the kids in the Loser’s Club is at the library and is possibly uncovering the origin of Pennywise which could give the second film the opportunity to delve into where It came from. There weren’t any cheesy attempts to spook you with a sound effect or ominous music. The directors and producers really relied on making the creepiness of Pennywise come to life in the film based on the text. I would give this film a 4.5/5

Movie Review: Annabelle: Creation

This weekend I went to see the film, Annabelle: Creation. For those of you who aren’t familiar, the film is basically a prequel to the initial film titled Annabelle, which was preceded by the film, The Conjuring. Supposedly Annabelle is a real life demonically possessed doll.

So the story is that there is a demonic possession of this bizarre and very ugly looking doll because it serves as a conduit. For whatever reason people really like this doll and think that it is a good idea to give it to people as a gift so for years on end the doll is continuously passed around and is haunting everyone until it makes it way to the paranormal investigator couple, Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warren couple were able to seize the doll and put it in a glass box where it is said to be blessed regularly by a priest in order to keep its evil at bay.

Without going into too much detail and without spoiling the movie too much Annabelle: Creation is about a little girl who died tragically and her parents allowed for her soul to possess a doll and it inevitably went wrong. Years later, there are some orphan girls with nowhere to stay and the parents of the little girl who died offered to let the orphan girls to stay at their home and all hell breaks loose.

 

Honestly, I wasn’t really feeling the first Annabelle movie, but I still decided to give Annabelle: Creation a shot because I love horror movies. I felt like they had a good chance to redeem themselves and make this ugly doll have a dark story.

I felt like it had a lot of potential especially because it was supposed to be based on a true story. However, it was very underwhelming. There’s a few moments where you might jump, but even the corniest horror can take advantage of the element of surprise. At one point in the movie they let you see the demon in plain sight and it was very disappointing it looked like a mix between Spiderman’s Green Goblin and X-Men’s Nightcrawler.

There were a lot of moments where the plot got messy and didn’t make much sense. The movie was supposed to give a backstory on the doll, but it was really just a waste of a 2 hour movie. It started really slow and then finally led to the “scary” parts. It was funny how basically the evil that originated was sought out twice by the “victims” in the movie. There was no zero explanation on how the evil went from a porcelain doll to a raggedy ann doll.

 

I would give this movie a 2 out of 5.

Movie Review: Detroit

Today I went to see the film, Detroit, which is an American period crime drama based on the events that occurred at the Algiers Motel in 1967 Detroit.

The film begins by giving a little background on the great migration which is what lead to a lot of black people inhabiting places like Detroit, Illinois, Ohio, New York and etc. The migration stirred up a lot racial tension within those communities and ultimately led to a lack of equal opportunity for black people.

Prior to the incident at the Algiers Motel, there had been riots in the Southside of Detroit for days on end. There was a lot looting and a lot of innocent people being killed while the city was being occupied by the military as it has been deemed a “no man’s land” by Gov. George Romney (Yes, Mitt Romney’s father).

Melvin Dismukes, black man who just wants to stay out of the white man’s way and do anything to appease them. He’d even go out of his way to appease the soldiers and assist the police. He tries to save some of the black youth by intervening when they have issues with the police.

The movie features the group The Dramatics. After leaving their venue and missing out on their performance due to the riots, the group heads out, but decides to split as they did not want to be perceived as a gang. So two of them, Larry Reed of The Dramatics and his friend, Fred Temple ended up at the Algiers Motel. From that point on they were they were pretty much doomed.

The two ended up being a part of a police raid with other black men and two white women who were staying there at the motel. That night ended with 3 people dead and 9 injured. Dismukes Uncle Tom-like behavior gets him hemmed up with the officers who committed crimes against those innocent people that night.

The crimes the officers did go to court, but of course they were ultimately acquitted of their crimes (surprise!!) so no spoilers there. Reed had to go on with his life by facing the lost of his friend and more than likely coping with PTSD. According to end credits, he is still alive and well in Detroit.

As a black person, this movie was and always will be important to me because there are parts of black history that are never touched on in America’s whitewashed textbooks. To some degree I feel like this movie was whitewashed though. This movie definitely hits home for me because just two years ago there were riots in Baltimore for basically the same issue.. Police brutality. Isn’t it crazy how history repeats?

The film was thought provoking to say the least. It made me think should white filmmakers tell the story of black people through their white lens? I felt uneasy when I thought about it because I know that the way the industry is setup a lot of these stories can only be told through a white mouthpiece.

There were moments in the film where I feel like the writers and directors tried to maintain a good balance of good and bad with the white people. There were moments were the black men were being brutally beaten, but then some white savior would come out of nowhere and save them or look out for them.

The movie was about 2 hours long so I can only imagine how much time those people actually spent being held up in that motel by the police that night.

The really crazy part about the movie is that the police never actually found what they came there for. Most parts of the movie were filler because a lot of the information on that night is limited to the janky police investigation and the confessions from the victims.

 

Overall I would give this film a 4 out of 5.

Movie Review: Dark Tower

Yesterday I went to go see Dark Tower, which is a film based on Stephen King’s Dark Tower book series.

The movie begins by briefly stating that there is a dark tower at the center of the universe that protects everything in the universe and that the only the way the tower can be destroyed is by the mind of a child.

Jake is a teen with special abilities that make a “shiner.” through the utilization of his abilities as a shiner he teams up with one of the last gunslingers from the midworld in order to save this “dark tower” which is said to protect the universe. The dark tower is currently at risk because of this man in black AKA Walter who is a sorcerer with no real agenda besides destroying the tower, which is an awful short term goal if you ask me because I mean once he destroys the tower then what?

Roland realizes that Jake can be used to help lead him to Walter to get the revenge he’s oh so desperate for. Along their journey they fight off Walter’s illusions and sorcery all while dodging his henchmen and forest creatures. Roland basically babysits the boy. He pats him up every now and then even though he’s emotionally disconnected and just wants to seek revenge for his father’s death.

This film’s trailer initially had me pressed to go see this movie. The graphics, potential of the plot and the lead stars made me feel like they might be on to something with this Stephen King book adaption, but I left the theatre feeling like blah instead. Don’t get me wrong it had a few comedic moments and a few action packed scenes, but I feel like the writers and directors left me wanting more. Much of the plot did not make sense there were lots of gaps and it even felt rushed. Roland was just on the brink of death at one point in the movie and then all of a sudden Jake gets him an aspirin and he’s fine (???). The fight scene between Roland and Walter was even lazy. The ending was really unrealistic even for a fantasy movie.

 

Overall I would give this movie 3 out of 5.

Moonlight *Spoilers*

So I just recently watched the 8 Academy Award Nominated film, Moonlight. This coming of age film touches on the important issues that tend to be forgotten about or people turn a blind eye to. Drug addiction, adolescence, and sexual identity are all issues that the main character, Chiron faced. This film really tugged on my heart strings. There was a lot of heartache, but there were some triumphs.

 

The film is told in three parts which follow the key points in Chiron’s life.

fotorcreated

Little:

As a kid, Chiron also called Little is constantly bullied at school and his drug addicted mother, Paula doesn’t help much. Juan, a local drug dealer takes Chiron under his wing. Juan and his girlfriend, Teresa provide Chiron with a sort of safe haven. Chiron struggles to come to terms with his sexual identity all while dealing with his mother’s worsening drug habit as a child. Chiron endured during his childhood. His mother was not always around and whenever she was coming down from her high she would be aggressive towards him. He learns early on what the slur “faggot” meant and that Juan is a drug dealer who fed his mother’s crack addiction. However, Chiron still continued to hang out with Juan and Teresa as they sort of acted as his surrogate parents. Throughout his hardships, he managed to have one friend, Kevin. Kevin always seemed to randomly pop up whenever Chiron was down or going through it.

moonlight

Chiron:

Chiron is now a teenager still struggling with his identity.He’s still dealing with bullying only that is different is that now he’s in high school. In class, he deals with constant verbal and physical abuse from a bully, Terrell. After school, he would typically avoid Terrell and his crew and go to Juan and Teresa’s. In the film, it is clear that Juan died, but not much is said about what happened. One day after coming home and having his mother take all of the money Teresa gave him he sleeps at the train station, but unable to sleep comfortably he wanders to the beach. At the beach he bumps in Kevin, his childhood friend. They sit, talk and smoke some weed. At some point their conversation, the mood changes. Chiron and Kevin shared a deeply intimate moment that stuck with Chiron for the rest of his life. Despite their intimate moment, Kevin gave into peer pressure just a few days later at the hands of Chiron’s bully, Terrell. this time the bullying was apart of a hazing ritual. The hazing ritual resulted in Chiron being brutally beaten in front of his peers. Chiron felt there was no point in reporting to the authorities he broke down in his principal’s office and just kept saying you don’t even know. He felt and knew that pressing charges wouldn’t make a difference so the next day he took matters into his own hands. He returned to school the following day and beat Terrell over the back with a chair. Consequently, Chiron was arrested and sent to juvie in ATL.

moonlight-q

Black:

Years later, Chiron is now an adult. He became a drug dealer after someone from juvie put him on to it. Everything in his life was pretty slowed down and consistent. There were no traces of the insecure Chiron from Liberty City up until he gets a surprising phone call in the middle of the night. He picks up the phone thinking it is his mother calling him from rehab, but it is actually Kevin. The call has Chiron lost for words, but Kevin managed to keep the conversation going. The phone call ended with Kevin telling him that since he works at a restaurant whenever Chiron decides to visit Miami he’ll cook for him.  Shortly after that conversation Chiron visits his mother at the rehab facility she lives at. They have a heart wrenching conversation about her lack of love and care for him as a child and how regretful she is. The next day, Chiron drives from Atlanta to Miami to see Kevin. They sit and chat for awhile with mostly Kevin talking because Chiron seems apprehensive and unsure of Kevin. Kevin closes the restaurant and Chiron gives him a ride home. Back at Kevin’s place they seem to beat around the bush, but Chiron finally opens up. He says that Kevin is the only man he’s been intimate with and that he has never been with anyone else since. The film comes to a close with them embracing one another and talking.

moonlight-black-closeup

 

 

Review: there’s so much about this movie that I love. I love the all black cast. I loved how passionate the characters were. An LGBT movie was needed for the black community. I love and feel like there are so many parts of this movie that resonates with a lot of people. The young men who played Chiron as a child and teen did a great job. They had a big responsibility of understanding difficult issues and portraying them for the world to see and grasp. It was also interesting how Chiron never came out and explored after the moment he had with Kevin. In one of the last few scenes, he tells Kevin when he left Miami he built himself from the ground up and wanted to forget the things of his past. However, he never pretended to be straight or have any relationships with other men. It seemed as though that trip to Miami made him bring all of things he tried to put in the back of his mind back at the forefront for him to come to terms with. The writers and production team did a good job depicting a situation where there is beauty in the struggle.

Blizzard Movies/Tv Shows

If you live on the east coast I’m pretty sure you’re experiencing this blizzard. We’re all snowed in and bored so with that being said I’ll be spending my weekend watching movies and tv shows all day so I thought I’d share a few of my “must watch” movies and shows with you guys

  • Top Boy – British series following drug dealers in London
  • Girlhood – French movie about a Black teenage girl looking for acceptance and a way out of her troubled home life
  • Mississippi Damned – A movie that follows different members of an African American family that are struggling to get by in the south
  • Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 – Follows a woman as she seeks revenge on those that have wronged her
  • Sense 8 – supernatural series that focuses are 8 people who are somehow connected through a newfound power

By: S. Easley