Dragged Across Concrete (2019)

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When they’re caught on tape crushing a handcuffed suspect’s face into the pavement, racist, corrupt police officers Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn are put on unpaid leave. Enraged that “the entertainment industry, formerly known as the news” has treated them “unfairly,” and believing that they have “the skills and the right to acquire proper compensation” the men decide to follow a tip from one of their criminal connections and rip off a bank heist. Of course, everything goes south when the robbers kill the tellers and take a woman hostage so our “heroes” won’t have as easy of time stealing the gold they believe they’re entitled to. Will they make it out alive? Watch the movie to find out. (Or don’t. You’ll be fine if you skip this one). Continue reading

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Widows (2018)

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When their husbands are killed in a botched robbery, and the gangster they stole from comes demanding reparations, a group of widows are forced to pull off an impossible heist to save both themselves and their families. This involves them finding a getaway car, a driver, codes to a safe, and guns. Lots of guns. They don’t want to kill anyone, but when you’re backed into a corner, who knows what will happen? Continue reading

Is Crazy Rich Asians Good For Representation?

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I read an article in The Atlantic recently. It was by Mark Tseng-Putterman, and titled “One Way That Crazy Rich Asians Is A Step Backward.” What it argued, essentially, was that, despite the films groundbreaking nature, it also took care to represent its Asian characters according to White norms. Those norms being things like having Western names, going to Western universities, wearing Western-style clothes, and being wealthy and materialistic. To Mr. Tseng-Putterman, the fact that the Asian characters in the movie were all so well off and Westernized made them un-relatable, and not at all emblematic of the experiences shared by the vast majority of Asian Americans. Now, normally, I wouldn’t give an op-ed piece like this much thought. Every time a movie about a certain group or issue comes out, even if the intentions of the filmmakers are clearly good, there will inevitably be detractors. There were women who thought that Wonder Woman wasn’t Feminist enough. There were Black people who thought that Black Panther perpetuated Western stereotypes of Africans as being warlike and tribal. So, of course, Crazy Rich Asians will have its fair share of Asian detractors. But two things happened, the publishing of Kelly Marie Tran’s New York Times piece, and the release of Netflix’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, that got me thinking about the article and its questions of Asian representation more seriously. So I decided to address them, and, hopefully, figure out what, if any, solutions can be found. Continue reading

Blackkklansman (2018)

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In 1979, Ron Stallworth is hired as the first Black detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department. Eager to prove himself by making a big bust, Ron answers a KKK recruitment ad in the local paper. He calls the group, posing as a racist White man, and, much to his surprise, they say they want to meet him. So he gets a fellow officer, Flip Zimmerman, to go in his stead. The charade works, and Zimmerman is accepted into the group, despite the fact that he sounds nothing like Ron, and is, in fact, Jewish. Ron and Flip continue their subterfuge, getting closer with the Klan, and even becoming friends with David Duke, the head of the KKK. But all is not well, as some members of the organization suspect Flip isn’t who he says he is, and Ron uncovers a plot to blow up his girlfriend’s house. Can he and Flip stop the Klan in time? Well, you’ll just have to watch the movie to find out.
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Sorry To Bother You (2018)

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In an alternate reality Oakland, Cash Green is a regular dude, struggling to get by. With no money, and few prospects, he takes a job in telemarketing, where he quickly learns that he’s far more likely to sell products if he uses his “white voice.” Doing so allows him to climb the corporate ladder, eventually getting promoted to the position of “power caller,” meaning he gets to sell weapons of mass destruction to dictators. All this success puts him into conflict with his girlfriend, Detroit, and co-workers, Sal and Squeeze, who want the telemarketers to unionize, and fear that Cash is selling out. Things only get worse when the head of WorryFree, a company that turns people into slaves by forcing them to sign life-long contracts, comes to Cash’s door with a frightening proposal.
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Moonlight (2016)

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Chiron has a hard life. His dad is dead, his mom is a drug addict, the kids at school don’t like him, and he realizes when he’s young that he just might be gay. Which, in his neighborhood, is the equivalent of painting a bright red target on your back. His only friends are a drug dealer named Juan, Juan’s girlfriend, Teresa, and a boy named Kevin, whom Chiron is attracted to, and who just might have feelings for him as well. Will they wind up together? Will Chiron find some peace in life? Well, you’ll just have to watch the movie to find out.

Moonlight is a very unusual film; not simply for being one of the few movies to openly address the Black gay experience, but also in terms of how its structured. It’s broken up into three distinct acts, each of which tackles a different stage in Chiron’s life. The first act discusses his time as a little boy. The second act explores his teenage years. And the third act chronicles his life as an adult. There’s not really an overarching plot. There isn’t really a climax. Most of the key events in his life happen off screen, in the years between scenes. In many respects, Moonlight mirrors the works of Wong Kar-Wai, in that its a colorful, atmospheric mood piece, with not much plot, and a huge emphasis on sorrow, longing, and love. And, indeed, Moonlight’s director, Barry Jenkins, has openly admitted that Wong was a huge influence on him. So that right there should give you a good idea of what to expect with this movie. You might not like it, but you’ll at least know what to expect.

For my part, I found Moonlight to be beautiful. Everything about it, from its performances, to its blue-tinted cinematography, to its actors, are gorgeous. And I found the ending, wherein Chiron and Kevin are reunited, to be deeply touching. I wholeheartedly believe that people should watch this movie, if not for the performances and the camerawork, than for the simple fact that it tells a story that is not often told; the story of a gay Black man in America.

And yet, even as I say this, I know that not everyone will share my opinions on this movie. There will be people who’ll watch this film and be frustrated, some for reasons that are understandable, and some for reasons that aren’t. For starters, the movie is very slow, there are whole sequences without dialogue, and, as I said before, there isn’t really an overarching plot. I can totally understand why some people might be bored by this movie. Mood pieces that break the rules of dramatic structure are all well and good, but most people grew up with plot-driven films with lots of dialogue, and, for the most part, they prefer those. Unfortunately, though, that won’t be the only reason why some people won’t like this movie. The other, and perhaps bigger, reason is the fact that it is about a gay Black man. In an ideal world, his story, and the stories of people like him, would be universally embraced. But we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in a world where a racist, misogynist internet troll with no political or military experience can get elected President, where Blacks and Latinos are disproportionately the victims of police brutality, and where homophobia and transphobia can lead to people being thrown in jail, or even killed, just for being who they are. So if you are one of those narrow-minded idiots who can’t stand to see a person of a different race or sexuality onscreen, avoid this film like the plague. If, on the other hand, you are someone with a soul, and you don’t mind slower, more atmospheric films, give Moonlight a look. It will definitely pull on your heartstrings.