Film Review: Proud Mary

I wanted to support Taraji P. Henson in her film “Proud Mary” and I’m glad I did. I know the critics savaged it and Rotten Tomatoes gave it 23%. But I’m veering off the freeway with this film. I think a lot of critics didn’t like it because they didn’t understand it, nor did they pick up on or appreciate the nod it gave to the so-called “blaxploitation” films of the 70’s. Another issue the critics appeared to have with Proud Mary is that it wasn’t filled with a ton of CGI, Special EFX and grandiose stunt sequences with the hero, or in this case, the heroine doing a lot of slow motion acrobatics, while mowing down 100 bad guys trying to kill her.

Proud Mary is a definite throwback to 70’s linear storytelling. It wasn’t filled with a multitude of subplots, random characters popping in and out, with no real connection to the overall narrative, and a bunch of not too subtle societal messages pounding the audience over the head like a sledgehammer. People in the theater also didn’t need a Ph.D in – “I think I’m so damned clever filmmaking”. It was a very easy film to watch and follow. The cinematography was clean, the action was just enough to move the story along and make you go WOW, the acting was good; Taraji P. Henson killed it as a badass hitwoman who can dispatch her targets without a second thought. Jahi Di’Allo Winston, who played the kid she looked after, was great. Danny Glover was also on-point as the crime boss Taraji’s character Mary worked for. Everyone cast in Proud Mary did their jobs well.

Were there some issues, of course. I thought the first half of the film moved a bit slow and there were a few small holes in the storyline, but it wasn’t enough to say Proud Mary is a bad film. The major problem with Proud Mary is that it wasn’t promoted enough, and for those who are addicted to slick, colorful, special EFX-laden films with an abundance of camera angle trickery, you’ll probably find Proud Mary boring and flat. But if you want a film that follows the screenwriter’s go-to, as in Freytag’s Pyramid, then you’ll find a warm place in your heart for Proud Mary.

As a sidenote: There were two films in the same vein as Proud Mary. The 1980 film Gloria with Gena Rowlands and the 1999 remake of Gloria with Sharon Stone. If you ever saw either of those films and liked them, then you’ll probably like Proud Mary.

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The Hypocrisy of #WhyWeWearBlack at the Golden Globes

 

 

Today journalists and Hollywood celebs will be at the Golden Globes and the celebs have this “movement” of #WhyWeWearBlack. Everyone is supposed to show up in Black to show support for women (and some men) who have been victims of sexual harassment, assault, rape and gender inequality . But here’s why I call bullsh*t…they all knew this behavior has been going on for decades and sat idly by, and said nothing and did NOTHING while collecting their millions. They watched other women suffer some of the most heinous indignities a woman could suffer. The few brave women who DID speak up, and risked their livelihoods, had their reputations sullied and their careers ruined.

Rose McGowan has been screaming about Harvey Weinstein for well over a decade, but not one of these women in the industry came to her defense. Meryl Streep, who has been in the industry for 40 years, feigned ignorance and guess what, many of us didn’t buy a damned thing she was selling with that Pollyanna routine. But here we are, on the backs of regular brave women and a few non-A listers, celebs such as Eva Longoria, Jessica Chastain, Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington, Tracey Ellis Ross, Ashley Judd, Brie Larsen and others, have come up with this idea of wearing all black to the Golden Globes and want other women across the globe to post videos of themselves wearing black to show solidarity. I call even more bullsh*t.

This is just another feel-good cause célèbre. Ordinary women such as Tarana Burke, who started the #MeToo movement, have been fighting the good fight against sexual harassment for decades. But on cue, here comes these celebrities piggy-backing off her hard-work, and had it not been for those on Twitter calling out Melissa Milano for her appropriation, Tarana Burke wouldn’t have gotten her due. As it is, Time didn’t even have the decency to put her on the cover for a movement being honored that she started. Throughout history, it’s never been celebrities who made significant changes to laws and mindsets in this country, it was regular people like us.

It really pisses me off that celebrities attach themselves to important issues like this, and use them as another avenue for publicity…for themselves of course. Yes they have a platform, but they should have been using that platform a long time ago. This has now became nothing more than the latest “Birkin bag” to them. If they truly wanted to send a message to Hollywood and to all of the victims in and outside of the US, then how about not showing up to the award shows this season? Not continuing to contribute to the pomp and ceremony, would have spoken louder than any black gown worth thousands. But realistically speaking, we all know that would never happen because they’re far too addicted to walking red carpets. Some have said they wouldn’t protest or boycott the show entirely because many of their friends and colleagues were nominated. So in essence, they don’t mind throwing some support in the direction of victims, as long as it doesn’t preclude their night of patting each other on the back.

Shonda Rhimes and 300 other prominent women in the entertainment industry are behind the Time’s Up initiative aimed at eradicating abuse, harassment, marginalization and under-representation in the work place, which on the surface appears to be a good thing. But let’s take a wait and see on what it is they really accomplish. Afterall, celebrities start initiatives and foundations all the darn time and some are successful and others are suspect. But in the end, us hardworking regular women are the ones who will ultimately create the environment we want to live and work in, while celebrities are comfortable in their bubbles, only peeping out from behind the gates to see if they can get something out of our hard-work, dedication and determination to end this rape and harassment culture that’s infected our society for way too long.

 

Review: Blade Runner 2049 – Disappointing to Say the Least

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I saw the new Blade Runner 2049 and after waiting and waiting and waiting for this film, I am NOT at all impressed. Growing up, Blade Runner was my film as well as my dad’s. We saw it 3 times at the theater and it was our night when it was on TV. So it literally pains me to say that after viewing this current incarnation, I feel duped and let down.

First, the visuals and production value were spectacular. The professionals behind this visually stunning dystopian world, were at the top of their game. The casting was on-point. Ryan Gosling was perfectly cast as one of the new models of replicants, and can we chat about Robin Wright. Here’s an actress who was all but forgotten, then she landed House of Cards and has gone on to critical acclaim for her role as Claire in HoC, Wonder Woman and here she is as another serious badass in Blade Runner 2049. She’s an older actress who has found her niche; strong and powerful women and her role in Blade Runner 2049 is no exception.

Then of course there’s Harrison Ford…being Harrison Ford. He still has a lot of the spirit he portrayed in the original film as one of the Blade Runners, Rick Deckard. He was feisty, could throw a great punch, gave us some chuckle-worthy digs in his scenes with Gosling, but what I liked the most about his role was that he was allowed to age. Jared Leto appeared out of nowhere in the first half of the film with about 10 minutes of screen time, then you didn’t see him again until the end and this go around, he had about 7 – 8 minutes of screen time, and no one really knows anything about him other than he’s the blind evil genius behind the corporation who manufactures replicants, but Leto delivered, considering what he had to work with. The rest of the cast were amazing as well.

But the storylines…that’s where it went south. They were beyond convoluted and disjointed. This film was in desperate need of better writers. Just when you would try to become emotionally invested in one storyline, they’d jump to another one and leave you dangling. THEN, here comes a subplot inserted into the already dangling plot line and you’re sitting there completely annoyed. Blade Runner 2049 played like the writers and the director just wrote and shot this film on the fly.

With a few exceptions here and there, the dialogue was consistently flat. This film has an abundance of beautiful visuals, I can’t say that enough however, it’s a pity that more wasn’t dedicated to the storyline and the dialogue. It was all over the place. Characters popping in and out with no real backstory to inform the audience of who in the Hell these people were. Then when they feebly tried to give the audience an explanation, it became even more confusing and complex….but not in a good way. This film was filled with eye-rolling pretentiousness; metaphors and symbolism galore. This was a pseudo-psychological journey into a laborious and overwhelming dystopian world that failed to excite your imagination and make you long for more.

Then that ending…no words. Sometimes you simply have to see something for yourself to understand someone else’s disappointment. Oh by the way, the film is LONG…an hour-plus too long! Now chew on that.  #BladeRunner2049

War for the Planet of the Apes

 

 

 

First, allow me to say this; I own every Ape film starting with the original Planet of the Apes with Charlton Heston. These films are my guilty cult classic favorites. If all else fails, I will watch one of these films and I’m good. So this would beg to question how could someone mess up an Ape film with a huge built-in audience; well the answer to that question is scattered throughout this latest entry, War for the Planet of the Apes. Where on EARTH does one begin. This film is a bloody bore from beginning to end. It is a combination road-trip and revenge film and allegory all rolled into one. The only thing that is crystal clear in this film is that apes are good and humans are bad.

Now let’s get to the meat of the film. Ceasar, who is the ape leader, should have been a memorable character but instead, he was brooding and distinctly uninteresting. He was the reluctant hero trope seen in countless films, yet he was way too reluctant for this film to generate any real interest in what happens to him. Enter Woody Harrelson’s sterotypical bad guy who not only hated apes, but is also hell-bent on murdering humans who contracted some ape-virus that rendered them mute, which included his own son, thus becoming worthless in his warped sense of Nazi-level purity.

Oh yes, we had Nazi and American slavery symbolism all throughout this film in the way in which the apes were rounded up, put in chains and placed in work camps, with some literally being branded so that they could be subservient to the soldiers and being subjected to cringe-worthy and degrading taunts. These apes were also used as “overseers” to keep the captured apes in line. Oh and did I mention the multitudes of sub-plots, one in particular that involved the good “Northern” soldiers on the hunt for the I assume, “Southern” soldiers led by Harrelson, who’ve gone rogue and are pledging their allegience to a bastardized ideology of superiority, slavery and murdering those they deem inferior. The Civil War was also alive and well within this slow-moving cinematic snail.

War for the Planet of the Apes has gotten high marks on Rotten Tomatoes and has been lauded as “the best in the series”; “smart, thoughtful, confrontational and challenging”; “impeccable film of risky dramatic range” and a host of other wonderful reviews, but I don’t happen to feel that this film is any of that. I love intelligent films with an old-fashioned feel, but War for the Planet of the Apes is a slow-moving, schizophrenic snooze-fest that didn’t quite figure out what kind of film it wanted to be. It had no solid storyline and looked as if the writers and director decided to incorporate everyone’s cool sounding ideas, and as a result of that boundary-less direction, the director didn’t quite know how to piece all of those “fabulous” ideas together in order for the film to make sense. I have no doubt the film will be number one at the box office, but just because it comes out on top, doesn’t mean it’s a good film.

If you go see this film, just know that if you want some mind-blowing special effects, incredible battle scenes and an epic ending that will have you insisting on seeing it again…you ain’t getting it with War for the Planet of the Apes. But what you WILL get is a film aimlessly meandering along with a ton of political messages and imaginery, laughable dialogue, a hard to follow storyline with characters that weren’t fully developed and a waste of over 2 hours that you will never get back.

Theme from the new James Bond film “Skyfall” by Adele

Though I’m not a Daniel Craig fan as Bond, I do love most of the Bond film’s themes. After Madonna’s “Die Another Day” fiasco, Adele’s song is getting back to the old school themes of old. This one is in the vein of Shirley Bassey’s “Diamonds Are Forever”. Loving it!

 

I’m BAAAACK!!

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I’ve been on a rather long hiatus from blogging because sometimes life takes you in some of the most unexpected directions. But now I’m back at it; more energized, more opinionated and even more in your face than ever! So let’s do this and do it BIG!

Happy To Be Back Blogging!

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Hi everyone, I’m happy to be back blogging because I took a much-needed break from blogging to concentrate on my screenwriting and film productions. I also must tell you I had a serious case of writer’s and blogger’s block. I had these ideas and stories floating around in my head but damn, it was HELL trying to get them on paper.

I was literally staring at my screen looking dazed, confused, bewildered and just plain CRAY…CRAY…CRAZY!! Writer’s block is a bitch! But after clearing my mind and life of the clutter and dumbfounding silliness,  I am back to being my old disturbed self who hears those wonderful creative voices in my head on a daily basis.  They keep me company you know. 😉

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Oh and by the way, if you DON’T hear voices, then you’re either not as creative as you think, or the medication is working too well. Just puttin’ it out there!

In any case, I will try to keep my momentum going  from here on in and blog until my little nimble fingers look embalmed as Johnny Depp’s did in his version of Barnabas Collins in Dark Shadows. ImageAnd as a side note, I thought that movie was funny as Hell…I know I may be the only one, but that’s just how I roll.

Well my little chickadees that’s it for now and I’ll be seeing you soon out in the blogosphere.  Have a great weekend, do something fun and stay creative…PEACE!

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