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The film’s catchline is: “Life is hard. Life is short. Life is painful. Life is rich. Life is….Precious.” I thought this was quite fitting considering that the film encompasses all such adjectives and emotions. It’s a movie about the power of education, the beauty we all possess within, loving who you are, motherhood and friendship.

Based on Push– a novel written by New York poet Claireece ‘Sapphire‘ Jones- it’s set in 1980s Harlem (USA), and is about an overweight, illiterate teenager who becomes pregnant for the second time by her abusive father. She is referred on by her high school to enroll in an alternative school- for troubled teens- in the hope that her life will head in a better direction. We follow her journey of her learning to read and finding the acceptance and friendship that she deserves from her classmates and teacher. Her courage to stand up to her abusive mother (played by Mo’Nique) and move away from ‘home’ to build a new, happy life for herself and her children.

The news that Precious receives in the end is extremely sad and unfortunate. Really pulled at my hear strings, but I won’t ruin it for those of you who are yet to see it.

Directed by Lee Daniels (who also produced Monster’s Ball), it’s gritty style projects an air of delicacy yet strength and Precious’ narration, though simple gives an amazing insight into her very isolated world. 

It felt as if I was watching a documentary. That’s how real the acting translated through the screen to me. I felt totally immersed.

Gabourey Sidibe (aged 24), who plays Precious, canceled the third year of her psychology major to play the role and I thought she did a pretty damn good job of it, really embodying her observant and aware character.

I didn’t think Mariah‘s performance (as Mrs Weiss, Precious’ case worker) in this was particularly wonderful but having said that, she wasn’t awful either.

Mr Lenny Kravitz plays the role of attractive, suave Nurse John (yes a male nurse).

Precious is definitely a tale of triumph! A masterful dramatisation, some may say and no doubt a socially conscious movie.

I rate this film 8.5 pearls out of 10. A must see.

 

Precious will be released in the UK on Friday January 29th 2010. Watch the trailer below.

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‘Twas my friend’s birthday earlier last week so I treated her (and myself) to see Tennessee Williams‘ Cliggiddy-Cat on a Higiddy-Hot Tin Roof at the Novello Theatre in London. And what can I say? It was a such a hoot!

I’ve never been to the place and was quite impressed at how fancy and posh-looking it was inside. Immaculately painted walls, huge fairytale-like mirrors, chandeliers galore! Nice, I thought.

The birthday girl and I (who are regular theatre buddies) commented on how that was the first time we’ve ever seen so many black people in a theatre audience. “Black people attract black people”, she surmised before getting a strange look from a white lady sitting to our right.

No adventures to report, apart from a woman who asked one of the ushers “Are those seats behind us taken? I ask because that man *she points rudely to her right* keeps coughing and spreading his germs I was wondering if we could move!”

“Mother!” Her son whispered fiercely, “Will YOU be quiet! You’re embarrassing me”. Of course, this only propelled her to make more of a fuss. But she wasn’t the only one who noticed the middle-aged man on her row that took it upon himself to spread his nasty bacteria- the whole audience did! In fact, it was as if he was the star of the show!

Towards the end of the interval, the coughing mongrel greeted his friend back to her seat with a very loud: “Here she is!” She had only popped to the loo! He then grabbed her by the shoulders and laid a smooch on what would have been her lips if she didn’t offer her cheek instead! I actually wanted to throw up! It was painful to watch…so I watched! But nothing would have prepared me for what my eyes were about to behold. As she sat down, he stayed standing and started thrusting his hips towards her before lunging forward as if trying to stretch out his calf muscles. Eeeewww! I didn’t pay my money to see this tomfoolery!….

Anyway, once again, I digress!…. As described on the official website, the all black cast is “dynamic” indeed. It’s led by Academy Award® nominee and two-time Tony winner James Earl Jones (he played the king of Zamunda in Coming To America), Tony Award® winner Phylicia Rashad (you might remember her as the mum in The Cosby Show), Olivier Award winner Adrian Lester (Mickey stone in the drama Hustle) and Tony Award® nominee Sanaa Lathan (a.k.a the eye candy).

Directed by Debbie Allen, this 1955 masterpiece (though shifted into the 1980s for this production) is about a wealthy American family from the dirty South who get up to the normal dysfunctional everyday shenanigans. The play is set on Big Daddy’s (the patriarch, played by James Earl Jones) 65th birthday. He and his wife, Big Mamma (played by Phylicia Rashad) are the only ones who are unaware that he is actually dying from cancer rather than just suffering from a spastic colon (that’s not a joke. That’s the actual medical term).

Their alcoholic son Brick (Adrian Lester), a former professional footballer, makes many attempts throughout the play to fend off the sexual advances made by his nymphomaniac of a wife, Maggie (Sanaa Lathan) because she had an affair with his best friend who drank himself to death (literally) and doesn’t feel like he can measure up. And considering Brick’s left leg is plastered and he has to rely on crutches he does a pretty good job at avoiding Maggie, the sex fiend.

Brick fears intimacy with his father but all is revealed when the two finally sit down and talk. And thank goodness he eventually gets that ‘click’ in his head that he’s been waiting for all day (you’ll know what I mean when you go and watch it).

The funniest part for me was when Big Daddy and Brick were having their male bonding chat and Big Daddy says: “You know what I want to do?” He demonstrates a fingering motion with his index and middle fingers and then gyrates his hips while saying “Bang, bang bang!” Or something along those lines. Cringe-worthy or what! But hilarious nevertheless!

I don’t want to give too much away about the plot but the play is filled with just the right balance of laughs and seriousness. The acting is second to none.

Sanaa Lathan effortlessly delivers a very sultry and sassy Maggie; Adrian Lester has a very impressive American accent and projects his character’s discontent most convincingly; Phylicia Rashad made me chortle on many occasions but I didn’t feel enough of her character’s pain. And of course James Earl Jones’ presence as the aggressive, foul-mouthed, wealthy Mississippi plantation-owner was tremendous.

I did however, wonder what Richard Blackwood was doing in it. I think he said a grand total of… wait for it…..drum roll please….four words. My friend only noticed him at the end when all the characters came out to bow. She was like “Oh, there he is!”. Pahaha! (Sorry, that was mean of me to laugh).

My only disappointment with the play lies with its ending, which I thought came to an abrupt halt.

But in all honesty, it’s one of THE best plays I’ve seen. I give Cat on a Hot Tin Roof 8.5 pearls out of 10.

Cat On A Hot Tin Roof will be playing until Saturday 10th April 2010. To book your ticket visit: http://www.catwestend.com

(Photographs: Alastair Muir- The Telegraph)

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OK, so it’s a Monday evening, and I’m free as a bird. “What to do, what do?”, I ask myself as I tilt my head at two o’clock.  I know! (lightbulb moment) Go see that movie that’s been a trending topic on Twitter for the last week. “Avatar is friggen awsome” wrote one tweeter! Well, if it’s friggen awsome, I had better get down to the cinema to check this bitch out!

Now, I haven’t been to the movies for like, what, at least six years (don’t judge me!) so had no idea how much it cost anymore or even where the nearest one (projecting in 3D) to where I live is. So, as you do, I let Google do the talking and hey presto! Information at my fingertips! I could rant on about my reaction when my eyes beheld the actual price to watch the film (lawd! is that how much they charge these days?) but, that’s another blog entry all together. All I will say on the matter is five syllables: day-light-rob-e-ry!

So, I get there, queue up and wait to be served. To my misfortune, rowdy teenagers (I say that as if I’m an old foegey but I’m  really not much older than them) in front of me start giving me a damn headache before I even purchase my tickets.  They started debating about whether they should watch it in 3D or 2D. “2D blud, 2D!” said one attempting to convincingly pull off some swagger. I’d be ashamed to say that out loud. Why on earth they’d want to see it in 2D instead of 3D was beside me (truth be told, the cheapos just didn’t want to pay extra!). Why would that even be up for discussion? It’s like saying would you like to have your eyes to watch the movie? Erm, yes, please. ‘Twould help the viewing experience tremendously, no!? Then: “Wait!”, one of the girls proclaimed patting her impressively well gelled down side fringe “We can’t go in screen three cos it says ‘ere there’s no heating in there doe!” Is she being serious? Madame should have put on some clothes rather than taken them off before she left the damn house!

And talk about seeing a Z list celeb. Well, I suppose it’s debatable whether he’s even a celeb. No, I lie. What am I saying? It’s not debatable at all. Queuing up was Victor Ebuwa from Big Brother 5 (don’t ask how I remembered that, or him!) I almost didn’t recognise him with the extra dozen (OK I’m exaggerating a tad bit) pounds he’s put on. He ‘aint no celeb…Pahahaha! Ahem…

Finally, I hear the two words my ears were eagerly anticipating: “Next please”. About damn time (I’m kidding, I’m actually a very patient person, *coughNOTcough*)! After being corrected by the sternly obstinate guy at the ticket booth on how to pronounce Avatar, I developed somewhat of a dislike for the place:

Can I have two tickets to see Avaiter (that’s how I pronounced it) in ther-ree dee, please”, I said enthusiastically with an admitedly cheesy smile.

He inched closer to the glass, raising his immaculately plucked right eyebrow (which for some unknown reason,I couldn’t take my eyes off as he spoke). “You mean Av-at- ar!”, he said

As much as I appreciated him correcting me, my smile disappeared faster than a can of beer left alone in a room with an alcoholic. I replied in an aloof manner: “Oh, OK. Whatever the film’s called. You know which one I’m talking about.There’s only one that sounds remotely like what I just said”.

Well, excuse my ignorance but I’m not really into computer games so I had no idea it was an actual word, like in the actual dictionary:

Avatar /ˈævətɑː(r)/ DJ /’ævəˈtɑr/ KK:

a picture of a person or an animal representing a person on a computer screen, especially in a computer game or chat room.

Of course it all makes perfect sense to me now, 160 minutes and a consumed tub of popcorn later!

After finding a seat and tripping up a lady with my bag (accidentally, of course), who almost flew down the stairs and let out a squeal (Ratatouille is on DVD, love. Wrong movie. Should’ve stayed at home), I was ready to be sucked in with the masses to enjoy the spectacle (mind you, that lady should have watched where she was going).

And what visit to the cinema would be complete without a latecomer who insists on making you get up so they can sit in the few empty seats in the flipping middle of the row? They must have been eating their carrots because I don’t know how they spotted those seats in the dark! “Excuse me, please.” One of the pests whispered. “You’re excused”, I whispered back shooing her away. Fine! I got up. “You gonna give me back- in currency preferably- the 2 minutes I just missed?”, I thought. I kissed my teeth as loud as I could to express my disgust with their lack of punctuality but the popcorn in my mouth wasn’t having it and it sounded more like a slurp!

Anyway, I digress…. The film, directed by James Cameron (the same guy who directed Titanic), is about an ex-Marine who finds himself thrust into hostilities on an alien planet filled with exotic life forms. It’s set in the middle of the 22nd Century on a distant plannet called Pandora. Here, earthlings mine a rare mineral and try to maintain civil relations with the indigenous 10 feet tall, blue skinned people called Na’vi, who are understandably very protective of their sacred lands.

The earthlings have modeled organic avatars on Na’vi DNA which are controlled with a human consciousness. Cue (the ex-marine) Jake Sully (Australian actor Sam Worthington). Out of inquisitivity and sheer luck he gains access into the most suspicious of the local tribes. The earthling feel that  by setting up schools and teaching them English they will win the natives’ trust.

If Jake’s avatar can persuade the Na’vi into leaving their jungle home, then the situation would be a very amicable one. And so the adventure ensues…

There’s a Star Wars meets Lord Of The Rings vibe to the film, which is a good thing if you liked one or both of those films, a bad thing if you liked neither of them.

In all honesty, it took me about 45 minutes to get into it and for my eyes to adjust to the 3D projection. At first I was unconvinced of it’s greatness, thinking “Is this what I paid my money for?”, but to my delight, I found soon myself immersed .

I loved how at night, Pandora’s reinforest seemed to be transformed into a coral reef with phosphorescent glowing plants and the ground beneath their feet lights up as the Na’vi take each step (I couldn’t help but think of Michael Jackson‘s Billie Jean music video). Beautiful, I thought.

The film is jam-packed with the typical binary oppositions of good versus evil, consumer wealth versus spiritual wealth, human versus alien and there’s a love story in there too!

The only criticisms I have are that 1) the 3D enhances the viewing but isn’t anything spectacular. and  2) The plot is kind of  lightweight, and slightly clishé. It’s typical of your standard bad guys with big machines trying to take over helpless indigenous people’s land narrative. In fact, it’s pretty much a blueprint of the film Dances With Wolves. Sorry, I had to say it.

I don’t want to ruin it for those of you who haven’t seen it yet but in it’s entirety, it’s a pretty darn good movie and I’d recommend it to anyone. Yes, it delivers on the hype and I can gladly say that it was worth my money. Every penny. Oh, and don’t be put off by the two and a half hour running time because it’s so good you won’t be clock-watching.

I give Avatar 8 pearls out of 10. I’d expect nothing less, considering it cost almost a quarter of a b-b-b-billion dollars to produce!

Follow me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RebeccaMonique

Let the film’s trailer below wet your appetite

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