Tag: Forest Whitaker


Sorry To Bother You

December 18th, 2018 — 8:27pm

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Sorry to Bother You – nf

It is very difficult to describe or categorize this movie. Certainly, it was not a comedy although somewhere it was advertised as such. We suppose it was a satire. It also was science fiction of sorts but more likely of the horror genre. The movie certainly was taking on racial issues as well as worker exploitation and it also has elements of a love story. In the end it was a serious movie trying to make a statement.

The setting is Oakland, California. Cassius Green is a black, newly hired telemarketer who gets advice that he could be successful in this type of work if he uses a “white voice.” He quickly moves to the next level in his work where he has to deal with a future world of a trending corporation which has a labor policy which offers extra benefits to workers while secretly enslaving them. This is not exactly a typical plot especially when Mr. Green is introduced to a cocaine-like substance which when snorting it can turn you into a half horse, half human creature, but “only for five years” or so our character was told.

This is an unusual story and a weird film that might catch your attention. The director is Boots Riley. The producers include Forest Whitaker. A few of the featured casts are Lakeith Stanfield (as Mr. Green), Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler, Omari Hardwick, Terry Crews, Michael X. Sommers and Danny Glover.

Be prepared for an offbeat different type of a film which will be thought-provoking. (2018)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama

The Black Panther

December 11th, 2018 — 5:48am

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Black Panther

This story is founded on the premise that hidden in deepest Africa is the Kingdom of Wakanda which due to the existence of a special magical powerful substance, the people secretly live there with very advanced technology that is hidden from the rest of the world. They are ruled by a king who is challenged by a cousin who wants to rule the kingdom in order to use the special powers to help other black people throughout the world. It is customary that when someone challenges the king, there is a mortal physical combat to determine who shall rule the kingdom.

The cast of many are all black except for one villain and one CIA agent moderately involved in the storyline. The stars of the movie are Chadwick Boseman who plays the Black Panther and Michael B. Jordan who challenges him, as well as Lupita Nyongo, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Daniel Kaluuya, Winston Duke, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman. The real stars or at least the co-stars are the cast of what seems to be a thousand people listed in the credits at the end of the film. This is because this is a movie with some very special effects, animation that is intertwined with the human actors who are in elaborate costumes which seems to blend ancient African garb with fancy, shinny jewelry, face masks along with science fiction garb that emanates from Star Trek and beyond.

At times, the stories which appear to animate the human action into shooting with special guns and slicing with large knives and swords reminds one of the action videos that we see our grandson watching and playing on his iPhone.

The movie is directed by Ryan Coogler and is written by Coogler, Joe Cole, Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. Lee, of course is known for also creating Spiderman, the X-Men, Mighty Thor, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, Daredevil, the Ant-Man and many more characters. He died this past month at the age of 94.

It is interesting to see that in this modern-day movie, the women in the film are depicted often with shaved heads being good fighters and possessing great power but all subservient to the king. Still it is the women who create the possibility for change. The movie is also special because it is a kind of parable about the world today and the choices between isolation and helping others. The ending brings hope in the film and just possibly in the real world

It is not surprising to see that the budget for this movie was over $200 million and the box-office thus far has been $1.3 billion and that’s not counting the Blu-ray and DVDs which are approaching another billion dollars. This movie and the main character, the Black Panther for sure will live in the hearts and memories of this current generation of moviegoers especially in the minds of the kids. It is worth the ride. (2018)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Action, Drama

Arrival

November 12th, 2016 — 7:47pm

***screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-3-20-17-pm

Arrival-sp

As the title indicates and as we learn early in the film, our planet has been visited by 12 extraterrestrial oval-shaped gigantic spaceships at various locations throughout the world. Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is an outstanding linguist who is recruited by the United States military to try to communicate with the heptatopod-shaped gigantic aliens who are behind a transparent wall on the spaceship that landed in Montana We also learned early in the story line that Louise has suffered the loss of a beloved daughter through illness (or is it that she will suffer the tragic loss of a daughter in the future). The reason for the confusion (and you will be confused) is because one of the themes of the film is that the aliens don’t experience time in a linear fashion as do we earthlings. Obviously, this is reflected in the complicated language which Dr. Banks is trying to decode. We know that other governments are also trying to figure out if the spaceship in their country is dangerous to them. Will this invasion bring the world together?

As you can imagine, the language of the aliens is very complicated and we learned in a post film discussion with Eric Heisserer, the screenwriter, that the filmmaker tried to make some logic in the visuals of the written language that was shown on the screen (although we are quite sure that no viewer could understand it). In fact part of the problem with the film, aside from the non-human way of thinking, was that the dialogue was frequently drowned out by loud special effect sounds supposedly coming from the aliens or perhaps from a weird musical soundtrack. The screenwriter Heisserer confessed to us that he at times couldn’t hear some of the dialogue also but it didn’t bother him because he knew it since he wrote it (thanks a lot). In addition, most of the movie was in the dark, not only on the spacecraft or in the US government tents and buildings surrounding it, but also outside (we seem to recall from a vacation or two out there, that part of the country does have sunshine).

The star and centerpiece of the film is Amy Adams who does her trademark wide eye, thoughtful face as well as an intensity which her role requires. She is surrounded by Oscar nominated Jeremy Renner and Oscar winner Forest Whitaker as well as veteran actor Michael Stuhlbarg, all who really have small minor roles which could have been handled by many no name actors or by people not as well known as them.

The film director Denis Villeneuve worked closely with screenwriter Eric Heisserer who said that he also stayed in close touch with Ted Chiang who wrote the story upon which the film was based. We just are not sure how many viewers will tune in to their wavelength. We know that many science fiction fans will enjoy giving this movie a try (2016).

 

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama

The Butler

August 19th, 2013 — 6:33am

uptown-the-butler-poster*****

The Butler – rm This is much more than the story of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) who served as a butler in the White House for United States Presidents from Eisenhower through Reagan. It is a moving depiction of the civil rights movement in the United States from the maltreatment of blacks in the south in the 1930s through the dramatic integration of schools in Little Rock, to Sit-Ins to integrate diners in the south , to the brave Freedom Bus Riders, the civil rights legislation, the tragic assassination of Martin Luther King and the continued demonstrations which followed in the years to come. The viewers are taken on a very personal journey to experience these events and others, as the Butler’s grown son Louis (David Oyelowo) participates in them while his father views the role of the United States President in shaping and responding to them. The movie is based on a newspaper article by Wil Haygood about a real person who served United States presidents as a White House butler for this large span of years and lived long enough to vote for Barack Obama. Even if screenwriter Danny Strong and Director Lee Daniels may have taken poetic license by having the older son Louis being present at all of the major events in the Civil Rights Movement shown in the film, it allows us to emotionally go through these milestones in a first hand manner. They are brought to life as if they were ripped from the pages of history. The friction between father and son emphasizes the differences in generational thinking not only of this one black family but would also reflect some of the changes in thinking which many of us have seen in this country during our life time. Forest Whitaker is magnificent as the Butler as he captures the soul and dignity of his character. Oprah Winfrey is outstanding as the sensitive wife who struggles with the frequent absence of her husband due to his long hours at the White House and the pain which the lives of her sons brings her. We don’t know if the words attributed to each U.S. President are known quotes but the character of them and the significant events that were shown during their presidencies all ring true. The mannerisms of each them were handled quite well by Robin Williams as Eisenhower, John Cusack as Richard Nixon, James Marsden as John F. Kennedy, Liev Schreiber as LBJ and Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan along with Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan. There were many other very fine supporting roles. In addition, the movie is bookended quite well by a most dramatic and traumatic turn of events from the young Cecil Gaines as a youth working in the cotton fields in the south to him being an aged man walking in to meet the first black President of the United States. The sense of the historic chain of events which this encompassed will send chills up your spine and probably bring tears to your eyes. (2013)

Comment » | 5 Stars, Drama, History

Fruitvale Station

July 2nd, 2013 — 6:59pm

Fruitvale Station*****

Fruitvale Station-sp  This is one of the most realistic, gripping and yet personal  depictions of a tragic event that we have seen in a long time. It is well known to residents of the Bay Area and many other people that a few years ago there was a shooting of a 22 year old black man by the name of Oscar Grant by the BART (transit) police. This event was vividly captured by numerous cell phone videos on that day and was shown in the opening of this movie. Ryan Coogler, a black film student of the same age, was very much impacted by this event, as he felt it could have been him. Nina Yang Bongiovi, movie producing partner of the well known actor/director Forest Whitaker, in their quest to support young filmmakers, connected with Coogler and were impressed by his student work  and his motivation to make this film. Bongiovi in our post screening discussion related how once Coogler was chosen to direct this film, he wrote the screenplay in 4 weeks and along with the producers convinced Michael B. Jordan to play the role of Oscar Grant. Melanie Diaz then signed on to play the girlfriend and veteran actress Octavia Spencer took on the all-important role of the mother. Both were magnificent in their sensitive emotional roles of these devastated women. Jordan who has acknowledged that he also felt quite related to his character handled the multifaceted parts of him quite well. It is the presentation of the persona of Grant that raises this movie to the five star level we believe it deserves. He is shown to be a caring young man who loves his daughter, girl friend and mother and is quite capable of extending his sensitivity to others in many ways. At the same time he is not totally honest with himself or others.  He is troubled, and angry. He has a temper which can lead him to  provoke as well as respond to temptations to fight and lash out. It may be argued that he may have become a symbol of the persistent racial tensions in the Bay Area and now to a worldwide movie audience. However the insight shown into him may also be able to allow both sides of the divide to identify with him and his aspirations which raises the possibility that this understanding will help to defuse these racial tensions which are still with us.  Once the story begins to develop, it  is very fast moving aided by the hand held camera work by Rachel Morrison who brought her reality TV experience to this movie. In the end, the great effort from both sides of the camera gave us a first rate movie that has the potential to make a big difference in how we understand ourselves and others. (2013)

Comment » | 5 Stars, Drama, History

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