Fences (2016, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5
Based on the play of the same name, I heard a lot praise from the Academy and it seemed like an interesting movie. I love Viola Davis...and Denzel Washiongton too. Pretty much, I was happy that more African American stories were nominated last year and I would try my best to check most of them out that interested me. I feel like this movie isn't for everyone. It's definitely one of those "Oscar bait" movies in a way as the format feels like a play. In other words, it is very dialogue heavy and the story doesn't really change locations either. The movie is primarily at a house and moves from room to room or outside, much like a play, which is different. The handful of movies I've seen based on plays usually try to expand their location options, but this one doesn't and...I kinda think that's for the best. This is very much a character piece and the focus should be on the characters and how they interact with each other and grow. There are some great performances here and when you pay attention, you'll feel just as emotional attached as the characters do.
Passengers (2016, USA) | Rating: 2.5/5
I wasn't super interested in this movie as it seemed kinda generic in ways, but I did plan on seeing it at some point. I like Chris Pratt and I like Jennifer Lawrence and these past couple years or so they have been quite the hype in Hollywood. Seeing them together in a romantic setting is kinda odd. You know that typical Hollywood age gap controversy and all, but yeah... Anyway, the movie. At the beginning, I realized that what I thought would happen from the preview did not happen and we were in for a somewhat different kind of ride. The movie is through Pratt's eyes and we pretty much follow his journey on this ship. At first, he's the only one roaming around and taking advantage of all the awesome technology, then he gets lonely and sees a pretty girl. Enter Lawrence's character. They fortunately get along and form a relationship, some misunderstanding thing happens, and eventually all human life is in their hands. Yeah, lots of generic elements from the romance and sci-fi genres put together. For the most part, I did enjoy it, but it's a movie I probably wouldn't immediately watch again and sing high praises for. It connects all the dots and the pay off is kinda bland and predictable, but the film isn't terrible, just nothing remarkable.
The Edge of Seventeen (2016, USA) | Rating: 4/5
I think it's been some time since there was a good teen/high school movie. I haven't really heard much about it, but the little I did hear from my subscribed reviewers were quite positive. So, I decided to check it out and see if it lived up to the high praise it received. In short, it did. I really enjoyed this realistic, almost cynical teen girl. I kinda can relate to her attitude at my current age. heh It's just really refreshing to see teens act like teens and not little adults. The take on the story is simply refreshing as we follow Nadine dealing with "big" problems in her life and just trying to adjust to almost strained and new relationships. I really liked watching Nadine and Mr. Bruner interact with each other on a somewhat more personal relationship with each other. Kind of like the father she never had type of figure. There's a lot of interesting dimensions involving their relationship, which adds to some great character development. Also, I have to applaud having an Asian love interest of sorts. Although, it isn't blatantly labeled that way; it does naturally become something that's realistic and admirable. Honestly, I think this movie is such a sleeper hit, because it really is quite good movie and a step up from The Duff.
I Am Not Your Negro (2016, USA) | Rating: 4/5
This documentary of sorts kinda flew under my radar, until it hit DVD for pre-order at my job. I read the synopsis and it actually sounded quite interesting. Plus, I've been checking out more movies and documentaries of recent black history exploits. This one is based on the famous writer James Baldwin's unfinished novel, Remember This House and is narrated by Samuel L. Jackson. The documentary tells of his relationships with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, along with his childhood and comparison to current racial disputes to the past. Since race and discrimination has been a hot button topic for last few years or so, this movie gives you good comprehension on the struggle back then to now. It doesn't beat you over the head with a specific message, but lets you contemplate on the topic and make connections with the past and present...and perhaps the future of race relations. Definitely give this documentary a watch, especially if you want a different take on black history.
Sing (2016, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5
I know I made a few jokes about this movie in the After Theater Review of "Don't Breathe", but I heard a few good things about it. In the end, I did end up watching it...obviously. I was mostly skeptical going into this movie, but it defied my expectations. I imagined a typical music based movie where we follow one character in their journey to stardom. They become super famous, but ruin their relationship with their family or friend(s) with their ego and soon learn a lesson in keeping their ego in check and simply showing passion and not greed through music. While elements of this do appear, this doesn't really follow that guideline...thank God. It's also not a poor man's Zootopia either. Instead we follow a group of characters trying to win a singing competition and working through their personal struggles...while we also still have that corrupt character that loses sight of his original purpose in music. The story does a good job balancing out all these different stories and wrapping them up an entertaining package. It also tries to avoid as many cliches as possible, so it was nice to not have my predictions come true for once.