Cinema

LVIII: So, Creed II...

The long-awaited reveal of the work-in-progress Creed II finally hit the theaters and it did not disappoint. 

Now, call this whole post biased if you want based on my love for all involved in the making of the film, but the film was great!  

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The film follows the storyline that was set up in Creed, created by none other than Ryan Coogler, wherein Adonis “Donnie”/“Hollywood” Johnson leaves his day job in Los Angeles to train with Rocky Balboa, and fight full time.

Along the way, he helps the infamous, Rocky Balboa fight a couple of battles of his own and falls in love creating the perfect teaming of beings.

DONNIE & ROCKY

One of my favorite things about these movies is how respectful a man that Adonis is. 

From the beginning, he approached the situation with Rocky as humbly and respectfully as can be. Even when they had a disagreement, Adonis would always come back, acknowledge his wrong and apologize.

The writers could have chosen to make Adonis’ character a mean, resentful man for his father’s infidelity and for “leaving him” (which was a theme throughout both films), but they instead made him the vision of what a man should be.

He was hardworking, focused, respectful, loyal, faithful, loving, friendly and didn’t take his chances for granted. He had the will to fight for what he wanted and he worked hard despite other’s disbelief in him. 

I love the man that they chose to make Adonis Johnson in this film. 

I especially loved watching him in Creed II because, in this film, we get to see what happens when Adonis is shaken. When he isn’t just the strong, fighting, loving man that I love to see… He was feeling down based on a fear that he wasn’t good enough (something we have all experienced), so this Donnie was refreshing for me. It was realistic.

Him needing Rocky (and Bianca) to get through this was so good to see.

Boys these days put up this wall and act as though they don’t need people (men don’t, they know they need people), so the result is them carrying that resentment, being angry, and treating the next batch of people in their lives horribly. 

Watching these characters on screen and the relationship between Rocky and Adonis should definitely open the eyes of many men and women. The bond, the respect, the relationship — phenomenal. And, given the selfish character of people today, it’s not a bond you see much.

I hope that these two on screen help shape a change in this regard.

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TESSA THOMPSON 

Am I the only one who didn’t know that she could sing?  

Honestly, I knew nothing about Tessa Thompson before the Creed movies, but I love her role in it all. 

Throughout the Creed movies, we hear original songs performed by Tessa Thompson which, I personally, LOVE. These songs are not what I typically listen to because of the trip-hoppy feel that they have but I love each of the songs she performs for these movies! Shoutout to her!

BIANCA & DONNIE

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Speaking of  the beautiful Tessa Thompson, her character Bianca finally gets the recognition as the strong female counterpart to Adonis Creed in the new Creed movie. 

She is acknowledged for standing by his side in situations that must be difficult. Dealing with the punches, the beatings, the wins, the losses, etc, she was right by his side — the perfect team.

Their relationship was cute from the start. They were patient with each other and although Bianca's character was guarded initially, she let that guard down to team up with someone worth the risk!

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In Creed II, we see the couple go through more. We see them struggle with each other and in their lives separately.

I like that because, again, it’s real.

Adonis becomes so far removed from his relationship with both Rocky and Bianca leaving Bianca to hold it together while he figures it all out. She turns to Adonis’ mom for advice because she’s been through it before and we get to hear the tale of another woman having to be strong for herself and her man while her man figures out his crap. I’m all for being there for the team, but I would never pass up the opportunity to acknowledge how strong women have to be to love even a good man… It’s not easy.

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So, I just love the love and appreciation that Adonis shows Bianca. I loved how he made it clear that he needed her and she made it clear that she needed him. It was a perfect balance to a dope team.

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Bianca | Donnie

This was one of the best scenes to me.

It was the complete embodiment of teamwork and standing by each other.

MICHAEL B. JORDAN

While we’re here, can we talk about the amount of work that MBJ put in to become Adonis Creed for this film?  

Now, there are people walking around talking about hating the film entirely and I cannot see why!

First off, the training! I’m sure we cannot even fathom the amount of work that Michael B. Jordan put in to (1) learn how to box and (2) look that good.

If you can’t look at the movie and see that the work is real then I have no clue what’s wrong with you. If you can’t appreciate just the amount of work that they all put in on a boxing and working out front, then you’re insane for sure.

I see the work ethic, MBJ! I admire it.

PREDICTIONS

After the final fight of the film, Rocky mentioned to Adonis that it was his time now. He then took a seat next to the ring, took off his hat and just stared in.

I feel that this moment symbolizes the end of the Donnie-Rocky trainor-trainee relationship and it kills me. They really made each other better. They were good friends/family and an even greater team. After a match, if Donnie wasn’t looking for Bianca, then he was looking for Rocky and that just shows how deep their bonds were.

But, I am super convinced that Rocky will leave Adonis after this film and work on his relationship with his family. He may be a call away, but I honestly don’t see Rocky being in the next (hopeful that there will be a next) film.

As for Bianca and Donnie, I know that they can weather any storm and I love it, but I am thinking that Bianca’s career will take off and, of course, Donnie won’t want to stay away from the ring, so there will be some difficulties there with their relationship and their baby.

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XLII: Blindspotting | BlacKKKlansman

Now, initially this was going to be a rave review of the movie Blindspotting, but then, my law school's Black Law Student Association went to see the BlacKKKlansman, and I decided that there was no way that I could NOT write about it. 

In my opinion, the BlacKKKlansman did everything wrong and Blindspotting did everything right. They might as well have taken the last 5-7 minutes of the BlacKKKlansman and made that the entire movie because, I promise, that would be better than the crap that I spent two hours of my life watching.

Now, there were some high points, and good lines to this movie, but the rest of the movie was filled with horrible awkward silence, bad "movement music" and characters that didn't quite curl over. I know that people are raving about this movie because it is controversial, but I cannot get with that as being the reason that we should rally behind it. Being Black these days is controversial, so give me a good movie if you want me to watch it just because its "controversial". 

Yes, it depicts the way things were, and, honestly, the way that things still are. Yes, it addresses racism on the home front. Yes, it shows the lengths that people will go just to hate the African American race. But, a lot more of what is does, is add fuel to the racist's fire. We are shown scenes that are supposed to open our eyes to injustices, but, we knew these things! They aren't a surprise, so all that they are when we see them on screen the way that they were put up is nothing but a trigger. It's fine to be triggered, but don't make a movie like this and say that it's for the movement unless you're referring to the racist's movement because, in my opinion, this movie is just a rule book on how to better HATE us (what names to call us, what ways to disrespect us, how to kill us, etc.).

These may just be my thoughts but: the message was amazing, and the delivery was whack. I am not a fan of the BlacKKKlansman at all. Maybe others who have seen it feel differently! Either way, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.


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Blindspotting

Written By: Daveed Diggs & Rafael Casal

Directed By: Carlos Lopez Estrada

Now, Blindspotting is a movie that follows two main characters, Collin (played by Daveed Diggs) and Miles (played by Rafael Casal). We watch as Collin tries to survive his last three days of probation alongside his eccentric and unorthodox best friend, Miles. 

The movie is centered around life in West Oakland in today's world. It addresses issues that many African American males face today. And, although this movie did not set out to cover as much as what the BlacKKKlansman attempted to cover, what Blindspotting did cover, was brilliantly done. 

Throughout the movie, we see a mix of the struggle of being an African American male in today's society; with trying not to further feed the stereotypes and stigmas that follow having darker skin; the struggle within an interracial relationship to keep your racial identity; police-involved shootings; and, post traumatic stress disorder. 

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The movie walks us through the day-to-day routines of Collin and Miles. We see Collin leave his apartment (if you can call it that), go for his morning run, pick up his best friend Miles, head to the corner store for a Green Juice, and then go to work. He lives out each day just trying to be as good as possible to avoid ruining his last days of probation (which keep in the county where he currently resides). After a long day out, however, Collin finds himself rushing back to his apartment to make it back before his curfew when he is stopped at a red light that seems to last an eternity.

As he sits and waits, he sings to himself, which was one of my absolute favorite parts of this movie (the random singing and rapping), and then, just as the light turns green and he begins to accelerate, an African American male runs into the front of his truck. He stops the truck and looks in shock at this man before noticing that the man is running from a police officer who is pointing a gun at him as he runs for his life. The officer stops running right next to the drivers window of Collin's truck and shoots the unarmed man 3-4 times in his back. He then looks at the frightened face of Collin for what feels like an eternity before running over to address what he had just done. Collin then rushes home and is visibly confused and angrered by what he just witnessed. 

We get a lot of laughs from this movie, but we also gain a lot of insight from it. There are so many one-liners that are so relevant, so necessary and so on point with everything going on today. This movie strikes the perfect balance of comedy and much needed information. 

Something that we see a number of times in this movie is Collin working hard to keep the trauma of what he witnessed, by no fault of his own, from controlling his thoughts, fears and emotions. It all comes to a head in three pivotal points in this movie: (1) once when Mile's son finds and begins to play with a gun on their living room floor, (2) again when Collin is finally fed up with Mile's antics resulting in an argument between the two after running from the scene of a fight (started by Miles), and (3) when Collin is finally in the face of the officer who shot the unarmed Black man, afraid, angry, raw, and ready. 

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MY FAVORITE PART(S):

When Collin and Miles are arguing about Mile's dumb decisions and it dawns on Collin that Miles is actually the "evil" that the cops these days are trying to combat...

The cops seem to be searching the streets and profiling men that look just like many African American men these days -- jeans, hoodies, sneakers, dreads/braids (... a fro or any type of hair with a kink to it). It made Daveed's character approach many instances by overcompensating and trying to be overly "normal" to avoid getting in trouble.

We watch him live a perfectly normal life, be a respectful man, work a job where he is belittled while watching the city that he loves being gentrified before his eyes and yet, he still does not get to feel as though he is good enough to be safe in his city. 

This scene is powerful because all of the work that he has to do to get a fraction of the respect that his best friend, who is white, gets is finally realized. He states that Miles "... is the N*gga that they're looking for..." and that it's not him, and I like that! 

We watch people of other races acting out and being excused over and over. We see it when we turn on the news, we see it when we go outside, we see it on our social networking sites and yet, when a Black man or woman does something wrong, the first things mentioned are what they've done wrong and everything they've done wrong in their lives. In addition to that, the number of Black men and women that actually get to see the light of day after a police encounter is few and far between, while we watch white men, for example, shoot schools and churches and walk out with a full police escort. The consequences for actions and treatment differences are insane and this movie shows it in many brilliant ways. 

A final favorite is definitely the one that goes along with this picture!  Miles, in another 'get money quick' scheme attempts to sell Collin's mom's old flat irons at a local beauty shop (shoutout to Tisha Campbell Martin), but has to prove that they actually work before being able to get the sell.  This was just another testament to the friendship shared between the two main characters. And, as big on friendship as I am, I appreciated their bond the most!

A final favorite is definitely the one that goes along with this picture!

Miles, in another 'get money quick' scheme attempts to sell Collin's mom's old flat irons at a local beauty shop (shoutout to Tisha Campbell Martin), but has to prove that they actually work before being able to get the sell.

This was just another testament to the friendship shared between the two main characters. And, as big on friendship as I am, I appreciated their bond the most!


Really I can't say much else except, GO WATCH THIS MOVIE! Get into the storyline, and more importantly, give this gem of a film more airtime. 

Many of us probably haven't even seen one ad for this movie! But, that doesn't mean that it is any less important. I beg and highly recommend that you get to the nearest theater still showing this film and show some support! The more you support, the more it will be offered on the big screen.

The brilliant minds behind the film, Daveed Diggs & Rafael Casal.

The brilliant minds behind the film, Daveed Diggs & Rafael Casal.

XXXV: Book Versus Movie - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

As you may already know, given my summer reading list post, I have had a couple of "good reads" just sitting and festering away in my GoodReads online bank. So, given the fact that I had a month off from law school, which never happens, I wanted to take this opportunity to read for pleasure and not in the name of all things Socratic. This will be, not so much a review, but my opinion on the book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and the movie Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone.

The Book

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I do have my complaints about it, but overall, I really enjoyed it. Of course I watched the movie before reading the book, but I watch Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone much less than I watch the newer Harry Potter movies, so I really didn't remember a lot of what I read in the book, nor did I remember much of what I re-watched after reading the book. 

My first impressions of the book were those of amazement. As a Creative, I always wonder how and where other Creatives find the inspiration for some of the flooring creations that they come up with. How J.K. Rowling thought up a story this intricate and insanely brilliant is beyond anything I'll probably ever be able to do!

Minds like these are the ones that I'm interested in most. She didn't get this school of thought because of her "difficult background", she got it because she had a gift and she honed in on it, trained it and perfected it. But, anyway, let me get to the actual reading:

So my overall thoughts on the layout of the book were that the chapters and chapter titles were the perfect roadmaps to what was to come. Ms. Rowling did an excellent job of keeping the book organized and sticking to each topic that she started in each chapter. Now, as a student and a blogger, this is amazing to me. I normally start a paragraph, and by the end of it, I forget the topic of my paragraph completely because I've gone off on so many tangents that the meaning was lost in the minutiae! This does not seem to be a problem for J.K. Rowling at all. Her chapters were so well focused that there's is no way the outline of this book wasn't the most solid part of her creation process. 

Another great thing about this book is that she was able to imagine up precise characters. In many of the books that I read, when we get a description of a character, we get a partially in-depth description. But, in this book, we get more than enough information to be able to read the book and all come up with the same mental picture of what characters like Hagrid and Malfoy would look and sound like. This was then translated to the characters that we saw in the movies. And, of course, I have been primed by the movies to see the characters as they are in the movies, but J.K. Rowling described Hagrid's character (for example) exactly as he was casted and I found that to be amazing. When we read the book, I am sure we all had a general idea of what each character would look like and I am sure that our general ideas are all pretty much the same based on her vivid descriptions. 

The descriptors for this book were on point, the plots were not rushed and the story is intricate through and through. Overall, the book was amazing! 

My only complaint, however, is that the book was very busy. It seemed exhaustive! It's like Harry Potter never sat down and chilled at all and so the reader was also stuck on this rollercoaster of ups and downs each page, chapter, and minute.

The Movie

I thought that the book jumped around a bunch (even though the chapters were well organized within themselves), but that the movie jumped around just the right amount. Even though the book and the movie follow each other very well, when reading, it just seems so spastic as opposed to how it feels while watching the actual movie. Now, don't get me wrong, it is clear that she outlined all of this, but while reading the book, it seems as though we are literally jumping hurdles from one chapter of action to the next. I was exhausted reading the book. I literally thought, 'So, Harry Potter, just doesn't ever sit down and chill?', and the answer is NO, he doesn't based on both the book and the movie. 

Either way, my favorite part about the movie was the soundtrack! John Williams has done it again and I am such a huge fan. The fact that a whole world to match the imagery of the book was introduced with music to match the magic really blows me away. Everything about all of the Harry Potter movies exudes excellence and honestly, it only got better with time. Each year that they released a new movie, there was something new and amazing about it. It's like the cast and crews of each movie were learning and applying nonstop up until the final movie. 

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The reveal of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was epic. The camera pans you over this mystical and beautiful landscape of the castle and the surrounding waters and it is a scene that you will not soon forget. The traveler in me says that this is a building that you wouldn't find unless you are visiting Germany, France or Denmark. Everything about it, inside and out, is displayed as beautiful, vast and phenomenal. 

Which Do I Prefer?

For this first book, I actually prefer the movie. Although the author of the book was very clear with the imaginary that she wanted the readers to envision, I saw the biggest art form with this series in how this book was brought to life on the big screen! 

Why? 

Something about the cast, the soundtrack, and the visuals still takes my breath away, and now I'm just at a point where I don't want to give that up and go back to just having the book. 

But Wait, There's More!

How on earth did John Williams create the infamous Harry Potter theme song and ever-so-memorable soundtrack? If the comparison for creativity started with John Williams, then I'd have not a creative bone in my little, sad body!

Think of a movie with an amazingly memorable soundtrack (that is not filled with pop music) and I can bet you a shiny penny that said soundtrack was composed by John Williams. Just to name a few, he's created magic in: 

Jaws

Jurassic Park

Harry Potter

Star Wars

Superman

Dracula

E.T. 

Indiana Jones

Home Alone

I could go on because the list of his accomplishments is literally never-ending, but I am sure you get the point. The man has created literally all of the themes that have been stuck in your head for decades. I'm such a fan! 

Happiness can be found in even the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.
— Albus Dumbledore

XXIX: Black Men, Why'd You Make Me Do It?

So, I went to the movies, as I usually do. I decided to go see the Solo Movie on a Tuesday night, which is the discount night. Again, this is normal for me... What wasn't normal was what happened when I got there:

When I bought the tickets there were empty seats next to where we were going to sit, but I figured that they would fill up by the time that the movie started because 1) it was a new movie and 2) it was discount movie day (i.e. the day that the tweens buy one ticket and then sneak into other theaters as if we don't have pre-selected seating). I got a little excited at the fact that there was an uneven number of seats left next to my seats, so I figured that at least one would be empty since normally I see people going to the movies in twos. 

So I get there, sit down, recline my seat and begin to get comfortable and then... 

The theater goes dark, the movie is about to start when I see two guys walking across the room and to the stairs that lead up to the upper level seats where I am seated. In my mind, I say, "NOPE, not this seat, don't let this happen to me". There is one seat in-between me and the stranger next to me by the start of the movie. It was to the left of me, and I liked it that way, BUT I am perfectly fine with strangers filling in the seats when they don't go out of their way to come into the theater looking like a killer. 

There is a younger African American male with black gloves that expose his fingers past his knuckles, who is wearing black shorts and socks that come to the middle of his calf muscle and are decorated with white marijuana leaves. He sounds normal so far, right?

WAIT, that's not the first thing that I noticed about him. It started with the fact that he walked into the theater with a mask covering the lower half of his face. This mask was purple, black, white and pointless. He had on a black t-shirt which was on top of his purple hoodie (you know, to tie color scheme together). His hood was, of course, on top of his head and he smelled like marijuana and whatever his mother was cooking that night, and I had to smell that throughout the entire movie (but that's not the point). 

Add to that the fact that he was separated from his friend, so he felt the need to text him to, oh I don't know make sure everything was alright throughout the movie, and he kept a peculiar guard over the weird shaped figure in his right pocket. Which turned out to be gummy candies, but COME ON BRO! 


Black men, I am so sorry that you have to deal with profiling based on your build and skin tone; and being fetishized by other races based on stereotypes about dating you and being with you. I'm sorry that you are being stopped more often. I'm sorry that you are so judged. I'm sorry that you are so heavily punished, and I blame you only for what you are at fault for.

Young Man At The Movie Theater (a name), I challenge you to be more conscious of who and what you are.  I know rappers make it look so appealing to wear your hair a certain way, or add masks, gloves and empty holsters to already ugly outfits. But, think it through, and please be better. 

Realize the climate that we live in. I am on Team Black until I die, and I hate any time that I have to go against the Black Man. But, that does not  mean that I won't. 

So, Black Man, I love you, but on this front, do better. 

XIX: What Are Your Current 'Must-Watch' Movies?

I am a huge fan of the cinema! I just love the places and mental spaces that movies, both old and new, take you and I love feeling as though I can escape daily pressures for 2-3 hours of the day.

Here are some escapes that I've loved and that you shouldn't miss:

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It's Complicated

If you have not seen this movie, you are completely missing out.

This movie gives an interesting perspective about life after divorce. It is not your typical love story which is why it is so great. 

Do yourselves a favor and watch this movie. You'll laugh and you'll definitely fall in love with it. 

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Tristan + Isolde

Now, this is a love story like none other. You've got gore and lot's of fighting, but from all of this, you get love!

This has been a favorite of mine for a while. I would definitely give this movie a try if you have not yet seen it. 

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Peter Pan

This is my all-time favorite movie. Nope! I am not kidding, this is my favorite movie. 

1. I love Jeremy Sumpter

2. Who doesn't dream of staying forever young? 

Definitely watch this version of Peter Pan if you haven't seen it. You will not regret it. 

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Curly Sue

Say hello to another gem from my childhood. I watched this movie over and over and over and over and over again. 

Curly Sue is this cute little sassy girl that helps her father scheme for money and food until the duo meets the perfect kind-hearted woman to change the tide of their lives.

This is an oldie but a goodie. Lucky for you guys, Amazon has everything! 

 

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Black Panther

Now you KNOW that I have to mention the movie of the decade (yes, I said it), the Black Panther!

If you watch this movie and do not like it, then the fact must be that you did not watch it at all. 

The Black Panther was beautifully done, excellently executed and super Black just like I like it!

I could sit here and type my heart away about this movie, but it'd be useless. There are simply no words for how amazing this movie is. The best in the Marvel Universe, hands down.

Do yourself a favor and watch it! And then watch it again.

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Star Wars Episode II

This is still my favorite Star Wars movie. I grew up watching these movies all thanks to my Uncle Jeremy (HAPPY BIRTHDAY UNCLE JEREMY!). He is a huge Star Wars fan and even subjects his family to long car rides listening to the Star Wars soundtracks (as he should.)

Anyway, I suppose that since I am so anti-love in the real world, any good love story on the television just steals my heart. Anakin and Padme had a beautiful beginning and I just love watching them in this movie! 

 

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The Greatest Showman

We all know that I've thoroughly enjoyed this movie! I loved it so much that I even wrote a review about it (click here to read).

Musicals are pretty few and far between, but when they come around, they are usually great. 

This musical was a complete game-changer. Every song was brilliant, the acting was on point and the costume design was to die for!

Definitely watch this if you haven't already. 

 

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My Girl

Be prepared to cry if you're watching this one.

I would not consider this a "favorite", but I did watch it a lot when I was younger. I have no clue why TBS loved this movie so much, but I do know that each time it came on, I watched it!

 

 

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Les Misérables

Anyone that knows me, even a little, knows that I love a good musical. 

Les Mis is a musical with so many mini stories included. It follows the life of Jean Valjean who was imprisoned after stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family. 

Once freed, he reinvents himself and starts a life anew. 

If you're a lover of all things musical, like me, then check this one out!

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Just Wright

Now, if you can get past Paula Patton's horrible acting, then this is a great movie! 

I have no clue why I love this post-Love & Basketball movie but I think that it is brilliant.

I love Queen Latifah in pretty much any movie and her love chemistry with Common was believable. 

If you haven't already, give this one a chance. 

There's no way that I could make a complete list of all of the movies that have had a lasting impression on me, but I hope that this short list gives you a feel for what I like. 

What are some of your must-watch movies? What movies currently have you obsessed?