“BlacKKKlansman” and its Multi-layered Performances Pop Off the Screen

Spike Lee’s BlacKKKlansman tells the true story of Ron Stallworth, the first black police officer hired in the Colorado Springs Police Department. Based on Stallworth’s memoir Black Klansman, the film follows the young upstart officer through the racial prejudices of the police department. When he is transferred to the undercover investigations department, Stallworth hatches a plan to infiltrate the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.

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“Paterson”: Jim Jarmusch’s Ode to Discovering Poetry in the Mundane

Paterson follows a week in the life of Paterson (Adam Driver), a bus driver in Paterson, New Jersey.  Paterson’s life traces a banal routine:  wake up at 6:15 (without an alarm), walk to work, drive a bus, come home to his live-in girlfriend, eat dinner, walk the dog, stop at a bar, have a drink, go to sleep.  Paterson spends his free time writing poetry, drawing inspiration from the beauty ensconced in this mundanity.  The film is almost plot-less, focusing more on imagery, rhythm, repetition, and tone to convey its themes.

You know, like a poem.

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“Silence” and the Personal Perdurability of Faith

Silence is vintage Martin Scorsese.  The master’s techniques are evident in practically every frame, and his return to a religious subject matter is both fascinating and complex.  Nearly three decades ago, The Last Temptation of Christ showed that Scorsese was capable of delivering a nuanced treatise on spirituality, and he has done the same with Silence.  These topics are seldom tackled by Scorsese, so we should count ourselves lucky when the director is inspired by a story such as Silence, which has been in pre-production in some form for the last 25 years or so.

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Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens – Not Mad, Just Disappointed

You can’t really call Star Wars Episode VII– The Force Awakens a bad film with a straight face. The script is entirely serviceable with few logical inconsistencies or plot holes. Almost every character is well-established (Captain Phasma notwithstanding), and the performances are certainly on par with the original trilogy (especially with regards to the leads). Thematically, this is nothing that surprises us: it is the Light side vs. the Dark side, an allegorical simplification of the struggle between good and evil. But, from the get-go, there is a haunting echo: this doesn’t merely remind of the original trilogy, it outright pilfers its structure in hopes of re-capturing its magic.  As plotpoint after familiar plotpoint falls into place, it becomes clear that this new trilogy is just calculated nostalgia.

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