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 Beguiled was Be Damned…

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The coach put me on the bench because I’m batting double OO with movies, the last string of films I viewed…All Eyez on Me, Transformers:The Last Knight and 40 Meters Down, were side-eye inducing without a doubt. But this weekend I saw the new Sofia Coppola film “The Beguiled“, which is based on the 1971 film of the same name starring Clint Eastwood and Geraldine Page. Before I go all IN on the film, here’s a little tidbit about Coppola. She just won the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival in May, and is only the 2nd woman in Cannes history to win in that category. Let that sink in for a minute. Now getting back to this film. Out of the gate, the pacing was extremely slow. So much so, that I actually started looking for which exit I could get to the quickest. But I’m a trooper, so I hung in there.

None of the characters were fleshed out, especially Kirsten Dunst and Nicole Kidman’s caricatures of repressed southern belles. By the way, Kidman, Dunst, Elle Fanning and one other character in this meandering nonsensical film, kept losing their southern accents. I could have understood better if this were their first film (nervousness and all), but Kidman is an Oscar winner, Dunst and Fanning have over the years, gotten critical acclaim for their acting. They simply phoned in their performances and looked as if they couldn’t have cared any less if they tried. Now let’s get to Colin Farrell.

His once promising career really hit an all-time low with this schlock. He hardly had any dialogue and the dialogue he had, was comical and it wasn’t supposed to be. THAT’S how bad this film is. His best scenes were off-screen after Kidman’s character amputated his leg and he found out. Why Coppola chose for the audience to hear his tirade instead of seeing it, was puzzling to say the least. That probably would have been great to see because Farrell is a good actor and he does a lot of his best work when he’s in meltdown on-screen.

Coppola’s choices with how she shot this film left me and I’m sure so many others who’ve already seen it, wondering WHY? But here’s one choice she made I’m in full support of…the choice to NOT put the female slave character in this film that was in the book. The Black actress who would have been cast, dodged a bullet thank goodness. No one needs this incarnation of The Beguiled on their acting resume. The long and short of it is basically…The Beguiled didn’t make any sense at all. It was a story without any substance or direction. How Coppola won in Cannes in the Best Director’s category for THIS film is another mystery. To say The Beguiled wasn’t her best work is an understatement, and it also begs to question the legitimacy of her winning that award.

Coppola has done tons of applause worthy work such as Marie Antoinette, The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation, did the judges in Cannes see the same film as the rest of us? Did they get their eyes dilated that day and couldn’t really see the banality of this film….what happened? As one critic noted about the film “it was so unnecessary” and no truer words could EVER be said about this film. This was a good idea gone horribly wrong and Coppola, the writers who helped her create this puerile piece of tripe and the actors, had no clue how to make this film compelling enough to where it would hold your attention and the audience would become emotionally invested. Instead, it had the audience holding their breath counting the minutes until the agony was over.

Sister Podcast, The Chatter at Latin Sounds -LACMA, Featuring Opa Opa

 

 

Every Saturday at the Los Angeles County Museum (LACMA) on Wilshire, they host Latin Sounds. It’s a free weekly outdoor concert on Satudays at 5:00 pm. At this performance was Opa Opa! They feature a distinctive blend of tich percussive rhythms, unique vocals and brassy horns that differentiates their band from other salsa bands. They’ve perfomed with Celia Cruz Willie Colon, Ruben Blades, El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico and Charlie Palmieri. Saturday, June 17, 2017.

Link to video: https://youtu.be/MUaUg0LHQ8g

 

Spoken Word Artist, Jennifer Thompson’s “The Mission”

On the Scoodie, I will occassionally showcase new and established artists, poets, spoken word performers, actors, singers, musicians and dancers. Today’s talent is spoken word artist and poet, Jennifer Thompson with her poem, “The Mission”.

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The Mission

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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!

Weekend Jamz….First up – Evanescence

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Just to get this party started and send you on your way to a fun-filled weekend, I’m racking up one of favorite groups, Evanescence. I was watching Underworld:Awakening with Kate Beckinsale, who is one of the best ass-kicking actresses in Hollywood. As the credits were rolling, I forgot that Evanescence was on the soundtrack.

And for those who aren’t familiar with their music, they formed in 1994 with original band members Amy Lee and Ben Moody. By the time they finally found the right combination in 2002 with guitarist John LeCompt, bassist Will Boyd and drummer Rocky Gray, they signed with Wind-up Records and released their first album Fallen. By the spring of 2003, Fallen had proven to be a full-blown success thanks to the hit single “Bring Me to Life” and followed quickly by “My Immortal” which reached Billboard’s Top 10 in the US.

Because of their success, Evanescence won two Grammys, one for Best New Artist and Best Hard Rock Performance. But as with many bands, there were out of control egos and discourse within the group and the line-up changed. It wasn’t until October of 2006 that they released their sophomore album, The Open Door which  débuted at number one on the Billboard chart. After finishing their tour for the album, there was yet another shake-up.

And it took another five full years before Evanescence released their third album in October 2011 and as with the prior two, it also débuted at the top of the charts.

So here we go with Evanescence’s My Immortal, Made of Stone and Going Under. Enjoy!

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