Movie Review

Little

Little is a brilliant movie about a journey back to youth and the lessons that come with it!

It was beautifully executed by Regina Hall who plays the adult version of Jordan Sanders. This version of Jordan was over the top & always angry. She always got her way no matter who she had to yell at, step on, or step over!

Marsai Martin played the ‘Little’ Jordan Sanders who was a smart and kind of dorky kid destined to show everyone her greatness. When that went horribly wrong during a Windsor Middle School talent show, however, she vowed to always be a step ahead by being the bully and not the bullied.

Insert Issa Rae who killed the role of April, ‘Big’ Jordan’s assistant and, later, her first friend! I am completely convinced that a lot of the lines given by April’s character were completely Issa’s because of how hilarious they were and because of her Issa-esque delivery. She was definitely a highlight to this film.

THE PLOT

This is the story of an adult Jordan Sanders — the self-made mogul and business owner who is afraid of commitment in the form of friendships and relationships. Her no nonsense attitude, however, becomes her demise when she encounters a young practicing magician who simply wishes that she were ‘Little‘.

The next thing she knows, Jordan Sanders wakes up in the body of her awkward and quirky younger self. The journey then begins! Jordan literally just wants to make it through the day and become ‘Big’ again.

Tragedy strikes when she runs into her nosey neighbor who immediately calls child protective services which results in Jordan having to go back to where it all begin, Windsor Middle School.

That’s White People Stuff Because Black People Don’t Have The Time.
— April
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SHOCKERS

The unexpected gems of this movie would have to be:

  1. Tracee Ellis Ross as the voice of Homegirl, because, QUEEN!

  2. Every line that Issa Rae had. Really…

  3. The cute sing-a-long to Mary J. Blige’s ‘I’m Goin’ Down’, twas’ very unexpected.

  4. The beautiful voice of JD McCrary. Now, I’d never heard of him prior to this movie but OMG he is voicing young Simba in the live action Lion King movie! So, he’s definitely someone that you should put and keep on your radar.

  5. The very cute bond between Issa Rae and Marsai Martin that showed itself throughout the film. I love the little-sister, big-sister

What In The Black Jesus...
— April

BUT, CAN WE GET INTO THE WARDROBE?

My favorite outfit of the movie has to be the one worn by Issa Rae in the first picture of this gallery — she has on a blouse with tan, orange and red accents and a neck tie & capri trousers with a red and white side seam. She paired this with Chuck Taylors which, shockingly, worked!


I honestly think that this whole movie was a treat. It was funny for both young and older audiences, it was refreshing and up to date. And, it was different!

Definitely a good time at the theaters!

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BUT,…

I cannot end this post without giving roses to the youngest executive producer ever, Marsai Martin. What an accomplishment! And, what Black Excellence you are!

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I mean, at this point, you might as well go get your tickets because it’s certainly worth seeing. I haven’t mentioned all of the surprises, so go and see what they are for yourself or you’ll be mad that you missed it!

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

The Greatest Showman (Review)

With such a great film, it is difficult to decide where to start. This movie was flawlessly done, from the cinematography down to the imagery and the costumes, this movie exudes excellence! Because it is so difficult to find a starting point, I suppose we can start with the beginning:

Opening

There's something about that classic 20th Century Fox Films Fanfare at the beginning of the movies that just tells me that I will thoroughly enjoy what's to come...

We open the official movie with the upbeat opening number "The Greatest Show". The image of Hugh Jackman posing with his back to the screen, long lapels, and a cane in a beautiful red coat. This creates an intense feeling of anticipation. The audience of show-goers ready to be handed happiness by none other than P.T. Barnum himself! All of this, a day dream, of course, of young P.T. Barnum staring into a shop window at the beautiful three-piece suit and top coat that he would one day wear.

The costume design by Ellen Mirojnick for this movie was insanely brilliant. The long lapels, double breasted coats, undone bowties and thick threading of every trench coat, pea coat and three piece suit fit flawlessly with the old-timey feel of the movie. 

One of my absolute favorite costumes of this movie belonged to young Charity Barnum while in boarding school. It was a Tiffany blue school girl uniform with a black neck-tie and white accents. 

Every costume and outfit was clearly thought out to match the character's back story. From Lettie Lutz's décolleté, dark satin purple dress to Phillip Carlyle's torso-hugging pure white button-up shirts with a perfectly laid white bowtie, undone of course. Mirojnick considered it all, and it shows. 

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This Is me

This powerful cry, better yet, scream could bring tears to the toughest person in the movie theater. 

This number was a testament to those who have ever been looked down upon or treated negatively for the things that made them different. 

Every time I hear this song, I can imagine the cast walking through the grand room of the theater with the upscale show-goers staring at them in disgust. Lettie leads her fellow showmen with her voice and her confidence which, in turn, creates confidence in them as they all stomp past those that do not understand them. The power of this scene is euphoric. I feel its power every time I hear this song. Keala Settle is a powerhouse and I hope she continues to create magnetic bliss with her voice the way she has in this film. 

Themes

You can tell how great a film is by how well they can tie many themes into one storyline. This film was full of meaningful themes. Some that I did not even catch until my second viewing, and many that I probably still have not caught. 

This film covers racism, classism, discrimination, love, humanity, and so much more. Each theme subtly tied into the other. The forbidden love shared by Anne Wheeler and Phillip Carlyle dealt specifically with racism, classism and insecurities. It was beautifully shown in the eyes of Zac Efron and Zendaya in scene after scene. 

We even learned a lesson or two from the theater critic himself, James Gordon Bennett played by Paul Sparks, but I won't spoil that story for you.

Dancing

Every dance number was memorable! When does this happen? NEVER. 

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Ashley Wallen of Queensland, Australia has created musical magic once again

The up-to-date dance moves in this film were insanely brilliant and memorable. From Anne Wheeler's hair pat in the final number to the footwork in "This Is Me", Wallen created modern musical gold.

Each number had fast paced footwork that hit every beat of the music. The intensity and energy of the characters in conjunction with it was vibrant, to say the least. I can never listen to "From Now On" without at a minimum giving it a solid shimmy (I owe this much!). 

For this movie, and so many more, Wallen should go down in history as one of the best choreographers to ever do it. This may just be my opinion, but when I go see a movie over and over (paying full price, mind you) just to get down the choreography so that I can properly dance to it at home, I think that is the impact that many choreographers strive for when they create a number. He managed to do this with every dance number in the film. Never have I been so inspired to figure out how to move these two left feet of mine! 

 

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Let's discuss Bay Area's own, Zendaya as Anne Wheeler:   I initially had  no  idea that Zendaya could sing. I believe she came to the Disney Channel when I was already bitter about no longer having my Boy Meets World, my Even Stevens, and my Lizzie McGuire's. When I downloaded The Greatest Showman soundtrack about a week or two prior to the movie's release and listened to "Rewrite The Stars" I remember Tweeting how sad I was to have missed out on her talents for  this  long.   Anne Wheeler's character is this tough and beautiful African American woman who performs alongside her brother W.D. Wheeler as trapeze acts. What immediately caught my attention was the fact that they did not do what typical movies do, which is, take the clearly beautiful woman and make her the clearly beautiful woman (same with Keala Settle). They hardened her, gave her a tougher and less graceful walk, they made her a more rigid but insecure character. I could see parts of myself in this character which is what made her so relatable and also made the movie that much more magical for me.    Also, we cannot discuss "Rewrite the Stars" without at least commenting on her amazing body and her intense and believable connection with Zac Efron's character, Phillip Carlyle. These two together are musical genius. Their eyes meeting is magic, it's breathtaking. I could blame that on Zac Efron's great acting or on Zendaya's perfection, but whatever the cause may be their love is believable.   Finally, I am not sure if Zendaya just loves butterflies or not but, her butterfly dress while at the theater in the movie and also the Moschino dress that she wore on opening night of The Greatest Showman were stunning. I am oddly, and probably irrationally, afraid of butterflies, but, seeing her in these beautiful dresses with her perfectly made-up face just makes me want a pet butterfly (I'll name him Carlyle).   Moving on, because I could talk about her for hours. 

Let's discuss Bay Area's own, Zendaya as Anne Wheeler: 

I initially had no idea that Zendaya could sing. I believe she came to the Disney Channel when I was already bitter about no longer having my Boy Meets World, my Even Stevens, and my Lizzie McGuire's. When I downloaded The Greatest Showman soundtrack about a week or two prior to the movie's release and listened to "Rewrite The Stars" I remember Tweeting how sad I was to have missed out on her talents for this long. 

Anne Wheeler's character is this tough and beautiful African American woman who performs alongside her brother W.D. Wheeler as trapeze acts. What immediately caught my attention was the fact that they did not do what typical movies do, which is, take the clearly beautiful woman and make her the clearly beautiful woman (same with Keala Settle). They hardened her, gave her a tougher and less graceful walk, they made her a more rigid but insecure character. I could see parts of myself in this character which is what made her so relatable and also made the movie that much more magical for me.  

Also, we cannot discuss "Rewrite the Stars" without at least commenting on her amazing body and her intense and believable connection with Zac Efron's character, Phillip Carlyle. These two together are musical genius. Their eyes meeting is magic, it's breathtaking. I could blame that on Zac Efron's great acting or on Zendaya's perfection, but whatever the cause may be their love is believable. 

Finally, I am not sure if Zendaya just loves butterflies or not but, her butterfly dress while at the theater in the movie and also the Moschino dress that she wore on opening night of The Greatest Showman were stunning. I am oddly, and probably irrationally, afraid of butterflies, but, seeing her in these beautiful dresses with her perfectly made-up face just makes me want a pet butterfly (I'll name him Carlyle). 

Moving on, because I could talk about her for hours. 

Rebecca Ferguson & Loren Allred

"Never Enough" was performed by Jenny Lind when P.T. Barnum brought her to America based on her reputation. He had planned their national takeover but when it came, it hit him like a ton of bricks. All of the fame came to be based on one song, "Never Enough".

This song, sung by Loren Allred, is another one of this movie's powerhouse songs. It was very unexpected as it was not one of the heavily advertised numbers, but it was one of the movie's best kept secrets. 

The emotions that went through me each time I watched this movie, this scene in particular, were vast in variety. We can start with the chills that you get when watching the flawless lip-syncing by Rebecca Ferguson and we can finish with the angelic voice of Loren Allred. This number will make every hair on your body stand on end and bring tears to your eyes. It did for me.   

Hugh Jackman & Zac Efron

Finally, I want to discuss our two musical veterans. I will start by saying that I love these two together. Not just because they are both handsome with amazing voices, but also because they are both passionate about every project that they do. 

Hugh Jackman literally becomes each and every character that he plays. Two out of three of my favorite movies have Hugh Jackman in them and he is completely transformed in each movie. That type of versatility in one person, one creator, one actor -- is timeless. 

What also stood out for me, since Les Miserables is another favorite movie of mine, was the fact that Hugh Jackman sounds differently in each film. His vocal range and ability is stunning, to say the least. Along with that, his acting is always exactly as it should be. He is P.T. Barnum through and through just like he is Logan and he is Jean Valjean. 

Zac Efron, you have come a long way from your Summerland days, but that is how I knew you best. When I saw Efron make the move to the Disney Channel and into musicals, I was nothing short of shocked. I fell into the High School Musical craze just like everyone else and have probably watched that movie a million times. Efron went on to make more films aligned with his age, but, in making his return to musicals this year, he leaves everyone questioning why he ever left.

Phillip Carlyle, a well-to-do and handsome young man becomes partners with P.T. Barnum and his circus. Carlyle shocked me the most because he turned out to be the complete opposite of who you would have expected him to be. His heart was as big and beautiful as his eyes throughout this movie and if you are able to watch this movie and not fall in love with Zac Efron doing musicals then you can knock me down with a feather because I believe he was born for this. 


I find it difficult to put this movie into few words (as you can see). And I have so much more to say on it, but I'd rather you see for yourselves. 

 If you wait to see it, you will regret having waited. If you rush to see it, you will see it time and time again. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you will be happy.

The noblest act is that of making others happy.
— P.T. Barnum

Because I was interested in the man behind the film, I purchased and began to read the autobiography of P.T. Barnum. 

Read with me and let's all discuss: