I Saw "Dear White People" and I Have Lots Of Thoughts

I FINALLY got a chance to see the new film Dear White People (DWP) with LM Friday night. I've been waiting on this movie for months & months, since it did the film festival circuit and got rave reviews (btw, I would love to be able to just to film festivals all the time & that be my job). I was a little worried that this film wasn't playing in Minneapolis, but I was assured via the producer that the film would open nationwide on October 24, and it did!

From the minute the film began, I had so many thoughts and observations, which I will share with you here, in no particular order:

  1. DWP was filmed at my undergrad alma mater, the University of Minnesota (Go Gophers!). The first scene was shot on Northrup Mall, where I took many classes and recently had my engagement photos done. I recognized every building on campus, from Northrup Auditorium to Pioneer Hall in the Superblock. Because I knew the real buildings, I found it slightly hard to get into the Ivy League thing, but I recognize that's my issue.
  2. I didn't attend an Ivy, but I attended 2 PWIs, both of which traditionally have low Black enrollment. Especially Minnesota. So I related to this movie a lot, in terms of the Black experience at a place where most people don't look like you, have never met a person who looks like you, and is either naive or outright offensive towards you. I get the experience feeling a duty to stick together with the other Black students. I lived the life of the Black person who struggles with being Black enough to be down with the Black folks, and yet stay true to who you are, even when who are plays outside the Black people box. I've let microaggressions pile up and let them go, because sometimes in the grand scheme of things, you need to let them go to survive at a place where you're surrounded by a sea of folks who are so different from you.
  3. I saw a little bit of myself in three characters, and I think that's true for a lot of Black folks who attend PWIs. Like Lionel, I was a bit out of the Black people box, being a chemistry major and a nerd. But I also had a lot of Sam White in me, from my pro-Black upbringing and my militant father. At the same time, I had people pleasing tendencies like Troy and I struggled with balancing my own desires with the desires of my family and mentors.
  4. I didn't really relate to Coco personally, but I've dealt with her type all my life. I felt some sympathy for Coco and Teyonah Parris (who played Coco in DWP) played the character so well to illicit empathy from the audience.
  5. A lot of the opinions that I hold were spoken to in the film - a perfect example is the comments about Tyler Perry and how Blacks are overall portrayed in the media.
  6. I absolutely loved how the film ended with the statement that the racist party portrayed in the movie is NOT a made-up situation, but culled from actual events. It seems like every year, some group or fraternal organization on at least one college campus ends up on the news for their unclever iteration of a party that requires them to dress up in blackface and mock what they think is Black culture.
  7. This film brought back to me an internal struggle I've been wresting with in my mind - is it better for Blacks to have any type of representation in the media, no matter how inaccurate it is or how bad it makes us look, or should we refuse to play a part in a system that works overtime to make us look as bad as possible? We complain about representation, but then the representation we do get involves us in crappy reality shows throwing bottles and rolling our necks. We know that Black culture is much more than that, but that's what the collective (including us) sees...and then we emulate what we see on tv, thus perpetuating the cycle. Is removing ourselves from the system a better option? I don't have an answer.
  8. Paul Mooney was so right - folks wanna be Black, but they don't want to be Black. They'll take all the perks with none of the liabilities.
  9. Privilege is a muthafucka.
  10. Ever notice how some of the most militant Black folks are light-skinned and/or biracial?
  11. Lena Waithe is one of the producers of this film, and I absolutely love her. She did a four-part pilot on YouTube called "Twenties" which is being turned into a tv show. If you haven't seen it, you MUST watch.
  12. Several actors from the Twenties pilot were also in DWP - yay!
  13. Final thought - everyone needs to see this. EVERYONE. Go out if you haven't. Go see it again if you have.

Movie Review - "Edge of Tomorrow"

Recently I was invited to a screening of Edge of Tomorrow, starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt.

I got a Klout perk to attend the screening (yay for great Klout perks by the way) and LM attended the screening with me. This was also a 3D screening of the film.

So what's this movie about? Check out the synopsis, courtesy of Yahoo Movies:

The story unfolds in a near future in which a hive-like alien race, called Mimics, have hit the Earth in an unrelenting assault, shredding great cities to rubble and leaving millions of human casualties in their wake. No army in the world can match the speed, brutality or seeming prescience of the weaponized Mimic fighters or their telepathic commanders. But now the world’s armies have joined forces for a last stand offensive against the alien horde, with no second chances. Lt. Col. Bill Cage is an officer who has never seen a day of combat when he is unceremoniously demoted and then dropped -- untrained and ill-equipped -- into what amounts to little more than a suicide mission. Cage is killed within minutes, managing to take an Alpha down with him. But, impossibly, he awakens back at the beginning of the same hellish day, and is forced to fight and die again…and again. Direct physical contact with the alien has thrown him into a time loop -- dooming him to live out the same brutal combat over and over. But with each pass, Cage becomes tougher, smarter, and able to engage the Mimics with increasing skill, alongside Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski, who has lain waste to more Mimics than anyone on Earth. As Cage and Rita take the fight to the aliens, each repeated battle becomes an opportunity to find the key to annihilating the alien invaders and saving the Earth.

I'd seen the trailer for this movie and was really excited to see it. I liked the idea of the movie - a sci-fi Groundhog's Day - and I also really love Emily Blunt. I'm not a huge Tom Cruise fan but you can't deny his action movie abilities. The movie begins with us seeing Tom Cruise's character, Bill Cage, making the media rounds as the rep from the military. He flies into London to meet with a superior, and their conversation goes way left which leads to Cage being sent to infantry. We see the scene that blesses Cage with his power to relive the same day over and over, but we aren't informed until later exactly why he's living the same day over and over. The film does a pretty good job showing how Cage makes changes each day to learn from his mistakes so that he's able to progress further and further. Eventually he meets up with Emily Blunt's character, who is the one to explain to him what's going on. The two formulate a plan to try to defeat the Mimics, and they have to go through an insane number of days to get to where they need to be.

I was surprised at how funny this movie was. I was expecting a serious action film, but the writers did a good job interjecting a good amount of humor as well, which kept the film light. The nerd in me loved the exoskeleton suits the soldiers wore in the movie. The action scenes were pretty cool in 3-D. That's about all I loved in this movie. I expected...more than what we got. Maybe my expectations were too high. This should have been an amazing movie, but I was underwhelmed. I didn't like the cheesy way that the movie ended or the way they made this secondary love story between Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt.

I know other reviewers have loved it but I walked out feeling like it was just an ok movie. I'm glad that I saw it at a free screening, because I would have been disappointed if I had paid to see it.


Movie Review - "The Fifth Estate"

Tonight I attended a screening of The Fifth Estate, starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

If you didn't know, this is "the Wikileaks movie", chronicling the founding of the organization and the numerous leaks of information the organization orchestrated. The synopsis:

Follows Daniel Domscheit-Berg, an early supporter and eventual colleague of Julian Assange, and traces the heady, early days of WikiLeaks, culminating in the release of a series of controversial and history changing information leaks. The website’s overnight success brought instant fame to its principal architects and transformed the flow of information to news media and the world at large.

From the early trailers I was anticipating this movie. It looked like it would be a good visual and dramatic telling of the founding of Wikileaks. I was excited that I scored passes to check it out.

I'm going to give you my thoughts on the movie, but also my screening experience in the theater.

The film begins with a montage of the way humans have communicated information from the beginning of time - cavemen painting on walls, to hieroglyphics to calligraphy to the printing press to newspapers to radio to tv to the Internet. After the montage we see it's 2010 and Wikileaks has made their huge release of US classified material from Afghanistan & Julian Assange is giving a press conference. With that setup, the film then travels back to the beginning of Wikileaks. It feels as if the story is told through the eyes of Daniel, the first (and for a long time only) volunteer with Assange when he started. This is probably intentional, as the film source material is Daniel's book which was published in 2011. Daniel is committed to the Wikileaks cause & he "drinks the Kool-aid" that Assange feeds him on the cause. As they publish information and get more press, Daniel begins to see that Assange's motivations weren't the ones he professes. Things come to a head when Wikileaks works with 3 major papers to break the story of their release of classified US documents and diplomatic cables.

This film was...interesting. From the beginning it was clear that the writers decided to go with a classic "good guy vs bad guy" story, with Daniel being the good guy & Julian being the bad guy. Throughout the film Daniel is held up to be this model of goodness, motivated solely by a desire to take down corruption & share information. This is contrasted by the portrayal of Julian, who is shown to be an attention whore who uses Wikileaks to get the fame & admiration he always wanted. The film gives us glimpses into just how damaged Julian is - this is most apparent when Julian lashes out at Daniel's parents because he feels inadequate about his lack of a stable childhood. Several times in the film Julian comes across as arrogant, deeply needy, and manipulative.

Visually what I enjoyed most of this film was the interesting way in which they showed the coding environment and operating system for Wikileaks. Also, it was very striking to me how much Benedict Cumberbatch looks like Julian Assange. But as the film went on...this is going to sound horrible, but I kept looking at Cumberbatch's face & thinking that something was just off about it, you know?

Stanley Tucci, Laura Linney and Anthony Mackie all have small roles as US government officials who try to manage through the Wikileaks release of the classified documents and diplomatic cables. Given how small their roles are, each did a good job. I would have rather seen more of the response of the US government to Wikileaks, instead of the plot line involving a Libyan informant that was a friend of Laura Linney. It seemed like an unnecessary plot point. There was also a short sex scene involving Daniel and his girlfriend that also felt unnecessary - my first thought was "really? what does this have to do with this film?"

I can't tell you why, but this film seemed to drag. There were several times during the film that I wondered how much longer we had to go and what time it was...though I couldn't check the time because I was sans cell phone. Which leads me to my critique of the screening itself.

I've attended dozens of screenings over the years, at a variety of locations. Today was a new experience for me and not a good one. While waiting in line for the screening to begin, a security guard came by and announced that no electronic devices would be allowed in the theater. We could either leave them in our cars or check them with security. He also informed us that if we chose to bring in a bag, it would be thoroughly searched.

Excuse me? You want to do what with my personal property?

In the dozens of screenings I've attended, I've NEVER heard of such a request. I get it - they want to prevent piracy and the unauthorized leak of footage from the film. But why not have security in the theater and remove anyone who is caught using an electronic device in any capacity? In ever screening I've been in, I've seen people comply with the request to turn off all electronic equipment & keep it put away during the film. Physically taking away a person's device feels like everyone in that theater was accused of being a bootlegger, and I don't like being accused or even the implication of an accusation. Leaving my phone with my personal information in the hands of a security guard making minimum wage is not what I'm about to do. I'm also not going to let said minimum wage making security guard go through my private property, my bag. Nope, not going to do it. I've NEVER seen this done at a theater, except the theater I was at tonight, which the AMC Southdale in Edina, MN. I've gone to screenings all over the Twin Cities as well as when I lived in Orlando, and until tonight I'd never experienced someone asking me to hand over my phone while I attended a screening.

So I walked into the theater with my wallet and my book, since I had no other way of entertaining myself while waiting for the film to begin. Before I walked in, I was also waved with a metal detector, I guess to make sure I wasn't trying to smuggle in a phone or other recording device. REALLY AMC Southdale? Is all this fake security really necessary? I think not.

And I forgot to mention - the theater was only 25% full. For a FREE screening. I'm used to crazy long lines and every seat in the theater filled. Clearly someone dropped the ball on promoting this screening...or people don't want to put up with the intrusive antics at the AMC Southdale in Edina, MN. I know I won't be attending any other screenings at that theater, I may not even frequent that theater as a paying guest anymore. I'm completely turned off by the way that they treated their guests. I'm also disappointed in the studio (Dreamworks) and the company who organized the screening, 43Kix.

So in review, I had a bad screening experience to sit through a 2 hour movie that dragged. I have no idea how closely the film stuck to actual events or how much was embellished, but it was very clear that this film is told from the perspective of Daniel & isn't an unbiased account of the founding of Wikileaks. I could have sat on my couch instead and watching Thursday night football. Save your money, maybe grab it from Redbox & spend $1.20 on it instead.

Movie Review - Django Unchained

Last night I got a chance to see an advance screening of Django Unchained, written & directed by Quentin Tarantino. The movie stars Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, and Leonardo DiCaprio.

This film has received a ton of press since it was first announced, but if you missed all that, he's a synopsis:

Django is a slave whose brutal history with his former owners lands him face-to-face with German-born bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz. Schultz is on the trail of the murderous Brittle brothers, and only Django can lead him to his bounty. The unorthodox Schultz acquires Django with a promise to free him upon the capture of the Brittles -- dead or alive. Success leads Schultz to free Django, though the two men choose not to go their separate ways. Instead, Schultz seeks out the South's most wanted criminals with Django by his side. Honing vital hunting skills, Django remains focused on one goal: finding and rescuing Broomhilda, the wife he lost to the slave trade long ago. Django and Schultz's search ultimately leads them to Calvin Candie, the proprietor of "Candyland," an infamous plantation. Exploring the compound under false pretenses, Django and Schultz arouse the suspicion of Stephen, Candie's trusted house slave. Their moves are marked, and a treacherous organization closes in on them. If Django and Schultz are to escape with Broomhilda, they must choose between independence and solidarity, between sacrifice and survival...

When I first heard about this film, I was on the fence. I have a love-hate relationship with Tarantino - some of his films I love (Kill Bill, Reservoir Dogs) & some annoy the crap outta me (Pulp Fiction). Anytime someone makes a movie about slavery, its tricky because its such a sore spot for Americans of all races. I wondered if Tarantino would be able to get this story "right"...and then I wondered what "right" even was in this context. So I took a wait & see approach. I was hanging on the Twitter one day when I saw a tweet about a screening & managed to snag two passes on Gofobo. The screening was held at the Showplace ICON theater, which is my fave theater in the Twin Cities. The theater was full but my friend & I snagged some pretty good seats - closer than I like to sit but still a good viewing experience.

I'm glad I went into this film with an open mind, because it wasn't at all what I expected. I expected a somber tome, with uncomfortable scenes & me leaving the theater pissed off. Instead I found an engaging story, which handled a different topic (slavery) in a way that wasn't overly heavy & depressing. In fact, many scenes were comedic & I found myself laughing more than I thought I would. Now, there are some scenes that are difficult to watch - not because of the slavery factor, but because of the violence, blood & gore. I had my eyes covered several times during the movie because I know there are things I can't watch.

This film is dominated by Django (Foxx) & Schultz (Christoph Waltz) & both actors are convincing & work well together. This is probably Foxx's best acting performance since his Oscar-winning performance in Ray. Kerry Washington, who was his costar in Ray, has a smaller part than I expected, and really doesn't get to show her range in the role. But I always enjoy seeing her on-screen. DiCaprio doesn't disappoint as plantation owner Calvin Candie, but Samuel L Jackson, playing Candie's elderly slave Stephen, steals the show in his scenes. The best way I can describe his character is Uncle Ruckus from the Boondocks.

This is not a Christmas Day movie. I repeat, THIS IS NOT A CHRISTMAS DAY MOVIE!

There is a lot of graphic violence, blood, gore, etc. When I think Christmas, I don't think graphic gunfights, so I'm surprised this film is opening on Christmas Day. Unless you have a stomach of steel & aren't shocked by anything, I don't suggest you see it with the family after you've opened presents. Definitely don't bring the kids! This movie is way too much for kids, even tweens. I'd suggest teenagers & up see this film.

Overall, this film is on my Tarantino love list. Totally unexpected, entertaining, great acting & even a great soundtrack. Instead of leaving the theater pissed off like I expected, I left rooting for Django & thoroughly entertained. This is definitely a film to see.

Have you seen Django Unchained? Will you go see it? Leave your thoughts!

Movie Review - "Safe House"

Today I caught a matinée screening of Safe House, starring Denzel Washington & Ryan Reynolds.

What's Safe House about? Here's the synopsis:

For the past year, Matt Weston has been frustrated by his inactive, backwater post in Cape Town. A "housekeeper" who aspires to be a full-fledged agent, the loyal company man has been waiting for an opportunity to prove himself. When the first and only occupant he's had proves to be the most dangerous man he's ever met, Weston readies for duty.

Tobin Frost has eluded capture for almost a decade. One of the best ops men that the CIA's known, the ex-intelligence officer has given up assets and sold military intel to anyone with cash since he turned. From trading secrets to North Korea to aiding splinter cells, the damage he's done to the U.S. is immeasurable. And he's now back on the reservation with a secret.

As soon as Frost is brought in for debriefing, mercenaries come and tear apart Weston's safe house. Barely escaping, the unlikely partners must discover if their attackers have been sent by terrorists or someone on the inside who will kill anyone standing in the way. Now it's up to Weston to figure out who he can trust before they're both eliminated from the game.

So....yeah....I suppose this movie was worth the $5 I spent to see it. If you just wanna see car chases, people shooting each other & a mildly entertaining plot, then this is the movie for you. I didn't dig it all that much. First, I really just don't find Denzel believable as an action star. The man is older than my daddy! I just don't see it. Second, this movie wasn't all that original to me. It felt like part 4 of the "Bourne" series, with Denzel & Ryan Reynolds subbed in for Matt Damon. Think about it - CIA, double crosses, bunch of car chases & people shooting at each other....yup same movie.
If you have nothing to do or just really love action movies, Safe House is a safe bet for mild entertainment.
Did you see Safe House? What did you think?

Movie Review - "Red Tails"

Yesterday I caught a matinée showing of Red Tails, starring Terrance Howard, Cuba Gooding, Jr and Nate Parker.

Here's the synopsis:

1944. As the war in Europe continues to take its toll on Allied forces, the Pentagon brass has no recourse but to consider unorthodox options -- including the untried and untested African-American pilots of the experimental Tuskegee training program. Just as the young Tuskegee men are on the brink of being shut down and shipped back home, they are given the ultimate chance to show their courage. Against all the odds, with something to prove and everything to lose, these intrepid young airmen take to the skies to fight for their country -- and the fate of the free world.

Unless you've been living underneath a rock, you've seen all the press & conversation that Red Tails has generated. Social media & the blogs have been abuzz with talk about the film. Folks have discussed everything from should Blacks support this film solely because it's a Black film, to the difficulty of having a Black film made in Hollywood, regardless to who is attached. I'm going to give my thoughts on the film first, and then give my take on the controversy.

This film focuses on the combat aspect of the Tuskegee Airmen. This film has a lot of action scenes, complete with things blowing up & whatnot. When they aren't in the air, the film highlights several storylines for the various men. And the racial tensions of the day also make their way into the story at various points.

I enjoyed the other story & plot, but there were a few things that made me groan inside. The biggest groan came from the storyline revolving around Joe Little & an Italian woman he fell for. I felt this piece was distracting & didn't add anything to the film. And it wasn't developed enough to use it as a selling point to woman as a "romantic" film. I would have left that part out. I also groaned a bit at some of the dialogue. Even with Aaron McGruder's writing, some of the lines were corny or clearly "Hollywood" & inauthentic. Overall though, I feel the film did a decent job of trying to tell a variety of stories in a short amount of time, which is always hard to do with ensemble casts. I had some questions about some of the men, and a bit more character development would have been nice, but this film simply didn't have time.

I thought film was shot well, especially the action scenes. And let's be honest, this film is about the action. There's a reason why this film focused on the flying & combat portion of the experience of the Tuskegee Airmen. The combat sequences were done using special effects but it didn't feel over the top & unrealistic.

Overall, I enjoyed Red Tails. It did what it was supposed to do - entertain & also give a bit of history. I was already familiar with the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, so I wasn't looking for this film to educate me. What I enjoyed most was simply seeing a film that was so full of Black actors, especially young Black actors. And even though I'm not a fan of Terrence Howard or Cuba Gooding, Jr, I enjoyed their performances.

Ok, now that I've finished the review part, here's my thoughts on the controversy aspect. Leading up to this film, I saw lots of comments about the movie & whether or not Blacks should support it. I also saw a lot of reviews decreeing that this movie was the worst thing made since Soul Plane. Going in, I was nervous & hoping that this film was better than it was made out to be.

Is this the worst film ever? Nope. Is it the best film ever? Nope. I think it does a good job of staying in its lane. Red Tails has the unfortunate position of being both a film based in history and a Black film,  and both of those factors bring extra scrutiny & IMO unfair criticism. Anytime you have a film with a historical basis, you have the lens of history & historical analysis to view it from. No theatrical film is going to convey all the history of a subject or event - that's what books, documentaries, etc are for. So Red Tails doesn't deserve the criticism that it doesn't tell the entire story of the Tuskegee Airmen - it was never meant to. It's simply dramatizing one facet of that experience. As for the Black film criticism, it is amazing to me how people complain about the lack of quality Black entertainment (whether film or tv) and yet continue to give their $$$ to inferior products (like Tyler Perry films) or bash the folks who are trying to bring quality products to the masses. I'm not saying drink the Koolaid & think Red Tails is the greatest thing since sliced bread...but at least give it a chance. It may not be your cup of tea. But on the other hand, when there are projects that present Blacks not as drug dealers, hoes, pimps, child abusers, etc we should give those products the benefit of the doubt & err on the side of optimism. To automatically assume the film is garbage does everyone a disservice.

So now that I've given my thoughts, what did you think of Red Tails? And where do you stand on the controversy?

Movie Review - Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Saturday afternoon I caught a matinée screening of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, starring Robert Downey, Jr & Jude Law.

Here's the synopsis:

Sherlock Holmes has always been the smartest man in the room... until now. There is a new criminal mastermind at large - Professor Moriarty - and not only is he Holmes' intellectual equal, but his capacity for evil, coupled with a complete lack of conscience, may actually give him an advantage over the renowned detective. Holmes' investigation into Moriarty's plot becomes ever more dangerous as it leads him and Watson out of London and across Europe, to France, Germany and finally to Switzerland. But the cunning Moriarty is always one step ahead as he spins a web of death and destruction - all part of a greater plan that, if he succeeds, will change the course of history.

I've been looking forward to this new Sherlock Holmes film for a while. I loved the first one, especially how much science, particularly chemistry, played a role in the film. Plus Robert Downey Jr is hilarious as Sherlock Holmes. Well A Game of Shadows doesn't disappoint. Still hilarious, lots of action & an engaging mystery/plot. Unlike the first film, you know who the bad guy is in this film (Moriarty if you weren't aware) but you want to see if Sherlock Holmes can outwit him.

Not as much science in this one as the first one, which was a bit of a downer. But the action scenes were great. The other downer is the limited screen time for Rachel McAdams; I enjoyed her character but she doesn't play as large a role in this film.

This isn't a Saturday night film, but its great for a matinée showing.

Did you see Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows? What did you think?

Movie Review - The Sitter

Friday night I made my friend B go with me to check out a screening of The Sitter, starring Jonah Hill.


Here's the synopsis from Yahoo:

Noah is a suspended college student, living at home with his single mom. When he is talked into babysitting the three, young, misfit kids next door, he decides to take them along on an attempted sexual rendezvous, and the night takes a wild and dangerous turn for the worse for which he is totally unprepared.

I immediately wanted to see this movie once I saw the commercials. When that little girl said "I let my haters be my motivators"? iDied from laughter. I just knew this movie was gonna be epic. Like The Hangover epic.

So basically Jonah Hill plays a loser fat guy in college, who is being taken advantage of by some skanky girl & can't get his stuff together. He gets roped into babysitting so his mom can go out & meet some guy, and a crazy night ensues. The kids are a mess, and Jonah Hill is trying to get some coke to the skank who he wants to be his girlfriend. In between all this completely impossible & illogical stuff that happens in the movie, there are a few little "accept yourself & be awesome, you're a winner!" moments sprinkled in.

Granted, I like Jonah Hill...but I always feel like he should be funnier than what he is. Even with Superbad, I didn't die laughing like other folks. And The Sitter left me feeling the same way. There were some comedic gems that were hilarious...but the laughs weren't non-stop like I expected.

Oh and in case it's not obvious - don't take a kid to see this movie. It's extremely inappropriate...considering the movie opens with Jonah Hill eating the skanky chick out. Fair warning folks...

The two highlights from the film: Method Man (who is still fine btw) and Jonah Hill's love interest (not the skanky girl) is a beautiful Black woman. Like seriously, I was like "damn she's fine". How often do you see that in a movie?

Overall, The Sitter left me wanting a lot more. It was like The Hangover 2 all over again - a film that over-promised & under-delivered when it came to the laughs. The little bit of eye candy couldn't compensate for the lack of laughs & completely unbelievable plot. Wait until you see this movie for $5 or less (like when it's at Redbox).

Did you see The Sitter? What did you think?

Movie Review - Premiere of "Young Adult"

Last week I got a chance to attend the premiere of Young Adult, the latest film from Diablo Cody & Jason Reitman. This film stars Charlize Theron & Patton Oswalt.

Back story - I'm a member of the Landmark Theater Movie Club and they sent an email out advertising a free screening for a new film opening in December. I was intrigued so I requested passes, and I got some #yay. My friend WL received passes as well, so we decided to go as a group of 4 with my friend E & also DN. While we stood in line, we were able to figure out that Jason Reitman was the director of the film, but we didn't have any additional details.

Once we got inside & got our seats, we waited about 15 minutes for the film to begin. Before the film started, both Jason Reitman & Diablo Cody came out to introduce the movie #score.

Young Adult is set in Minnesota - the film begins in Minneapolis with these beautiful shots of the downtown skyline, the 3rd Avenue & 35W bridges & the Mississippi River. There are also shots of the skyways & other areas downtown. I loved how they captured such beautiful images of Minneapolis.

This movie is the story of an anti-hero, a woman who peaked in high school & is tragically trying to recapture her glory days. This film is funny, but not in a comedic way. It's more of a dry wit & funny in the sense that it captures & highlights a situation that many people go through. I found myself relating to Charlize's character because I know people just like her. Plus you wanna see if she's gonna continue to be the "golden child" or if she's gonna crash & burn.

At the end of the film, Jason Reitman & Diablo Cody did a Q&A with the audience, which gave much more back story into how the film was made, the character & plot development, and why it was set in Minnesota.

And as a bonus, everyone at the screening received a movie poster for the film, which is personalized with the info from the screening.

I really enjoyed Young Adult, it's an entertaining film that anyone who grew up in the 90s can relate to. The writing is clever & witty, the acting is great & the images are beautiful. If you liked Juno or Up In The Air, you will enjoy Young Adult.

Check out the trailer:

Young Adult opens in December - check it out if you get a chance.

Movie Review - "The Ides of March"

Today I saw a screening of The Ides of March, starring George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Marisa Tomei & Philip Seymour Hoffman.

This film is a political drama/thriller which is also directed by George Clooney.

Here's the synopsis:

During the frantic last days before a heavily contested Ohio presidential primary, an up-and-coming campaign press secretary finds himself involved in a political scandal that threatens to upend his candidate's shot at the presidency.

Ok that synopsis kinda sucked, but I'll explain. George Clooney plays PA governor Mike Morris, who is running for the Democratic party Presidential nomination, against a guy who doesn't really matter. Morris is an Obama-esque candidate, complete with "Believe" message & support from a wide range of the voters. Philip Seymour Hoffman  is his senior campaign manager, Paul. Ryan Gosling is Paul's right hand man, Stephen. The campaign is in Ohio trying to win the nomination, & in the last few days before the primary in Ohio, the campaign & each of the main characters goes through a some changes & events.

I try to avoid spoilers so that's as much as I'm going to give.

Now to the review...

This film has several heavy hitters in it & I enjoyed most of the performances. The one I found the least believable was Ryan Gosling, mostly because when I see him I think of The Notebook which has to be the sappiest movie ever made. Clooney plays the role of the charismatic principled political candidate to the T & Philip Seymour Hoffman as his campaign manager was great casting. I also really enjoyed Paul Giamatti, who plays the campaign manager for the opposing candidate.

The plot moved well & the film had a nice pace. There was one plot twist that I did not expect, which was nice. Often these types of films have a clear agenda & the "good guy gets caught up but then saves the day" storyline is so overdone & easy to spot. I also don't like films that wrap up all the plotlines in a neat little package, and this film does not do that. You leave the theater wondering what happens to the Morris campaign & the various players as they move into the general election & on.

Overall I enjoyed The Ides of March & I really don't have a reason to criticize it. The acting is great, the film isn't too long, and it engages the viewer in a number of ways. I left wondering just how correct this film is compared to real campaigns & how the average voter has no clue what goes into politics. Perhaps this film will give them a clue.

Have you seen The Ides of March? What did you think?