On my way out of theater, entertained yet unsatisfied, I overheard a father and son discuss the Maleficent character. The young boy deserves credit for identifying the problem with the Disney sequel: “I’m not sure who Maleficent was in this movie actually.” Following the first Maleficent film, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil finds Aurora (Elle Fanning), Queen of the Moors, concerned about the missing fairies from her kingdom along with her godmother Maleficent’s (Angelina Jolie) poor reaction to her engagement to Prince Philip, played by Beach Rat’s Harris Dickinson. Maleficent’s sincere effort to be cordial to Philip and his royal parents, particularly his petty mother Queen Ingrith played by Michelle Pfeiffer, turn sour. When the mistakenly evil witch is framed for cursing King John (Robert Lindsay), the film becomes a surface tale about identity, family and the danger of intolerance.
Continue reading “‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ Lacks A Meaningful Spark”
Believe it or not, we are halfway through 2019. We’ve seen Brie Larson kick ass as Captain Marvel, we’ve witnessed the end of an era with Avengers: End Game, Julia Hart gave us a new kind of superhero film in Fast Color, Ari Aster has scarred us all with Midsommar, and Olivia Wilde has given us the teen comedy we’ve been waiting for with Booksmart. It’s already been a wild year for film, and we still have five months left. With that in mind, here is Much Ado’s favorite films of 2019 so far and why we love them.
Booksmart, dir. Olivia Wilde
‘The night to end all nights’ is a tagline often found attached to tales of raucous frat bros, to the pursuit of the loss of their virginities, and to their final evening of partying, which comes just before the dawn of adulthood. Rarely, in teen comedies that revolve around sex and physical frankness, is said semi-mythical night centered on two rather awkward high school girls. More often than not, it has been the boys in Superbad and American Pie that have not only been permitted but openly encouraged to discuss their sexual desires, appetites, and experiences without so much as a hint of a blush on their cheeks. In Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart, this kind of agency is transferred from the obnoxious characters found in the aforementioned teen classics and awarded to Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein): two friends on the eve of high school graduation, for whom discussion of Malala Yousafzai and intersectional feminism sits as comfortably in conversation as the topic of masturbation. After realising that they have spent their entire adolescence burying their heads in their studies — in a fruitless attempt to gain the upper hand over their popular peers in search of places at prestigious universities — Molly and Amy decide that they must embark on the wildest evening of all if they are to truly ‘experience’ teenage-hood. And thus, absurdity, wild goose chases, and chaotic sexual encounters ensue.
Continue reading “Much Ado’s Best Films of 2019 So Far”
Director Julia Hart, as well as co-writer and producer Jordan Horowitz, conducts an original superhero film that will surely become a monumental example of quality female stories. Set in a nearly-vacant American Midwest town, Fast Color follows, Ruth (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) finding her way home to her mother and daughter after years away in need of help controlling her seemingly destructive powers that cause seismic disruptions to the earth. The stunning film with illuminating performances, thoughtful storytelling, and a soaring score brings new possibilities for narrative and superhero films.
Continue reading “Julia Hart’s ‘Fast Color’ Introduces A New World–Review”
Written and directed by the great Ava DuVernay, When They See Us tells the story of the young Kevin Richardson (Asante Blackk), Yusuf Salaam (Ethan Herisse), Raymond Santana (Marquis Rodriguez), Antron McCray (Caleel Harris) and Korey Wise (Jharrel Jerome), five black and brown boys no older than sixteen-years old who were falsely accused of raping a female jogger in Central Park on April 19th, 1989. Criminally abused and coerced by police detectives led by Linda Fairstein (Felicity Huffman), and prosecutor Elizabeth Lederer (Vera Farmiga), we see these boys and their families stripped of everything for nothing.
Continue reading “DuVernay Introduces the Real Boys of the Central Park Five in “When They See Us””
The 14 year-old Marsai Martin has already captured the hearts of the masses as Diane on the ABC-hit sitcom Black-ish, and now she’s created a new vehicle to showcase her impressive talent in Little. Based on the concept of the 1988 film Big starring Tom Hanks, Little follows Jordan Sanders, played by the always wonderful Regina Hall, as she juggles the pressures of running a tech company and remaining successful. Unfortunately for her staff, which includes her assistant April played by Issa Rae, and anyone else she encounters, Jordan torments anyone in her path and disregards any sort of manners typically attributed to speaking to people after being bullied in school for being herself as a kid. Once she’s transformed into the little version of herself, introducing Martin, by a little girl she bullies, Jordan, with April’s reluctant help, must relearn the magic of being a child with plenty of laughs along the way.
Continue reading “Review: “Little””
Last Friday, Hulu released their latest show Shrill and it’s sure to be remembered as being one of the first, and hopefully not the last, of its kind. Co-created by Lindy West and Aidy Bryant and based on West’s book of the same name, Shrill follows Bryant as Annie, a plus-size woman living in Portland, Oregon as she embarks on a journey of loving her body and choosing herself in all facets of her life. The concept itself doesn’t seem anything new, since there is a generous amount of television dedicated to portraying women living their lives, overcoming insecurities, growing and making mistakes along the way. However, the portrayal of a fat woman who’s perfectly happy being fat that makes Shrill‘s ordinariness seem revolutionary.
Continue reading “‘Shrill’ Finally Lets Fat Women In Television Live Ordinary Lives”
The Criterion Channel’s latest movie is the 1970 film, Wanda, a film now appreciated as a masterpiece in American independent cinema. Directed, written, and starring the late Barbara Loden, Wanda follows the titular character through Pennsylvania as she faces difficulty at her every attempt to make a life for herself after divorcing her husband and losing custody of her children. She slowly walks around her Rust Belt town wearing her hair curlers for the first twenty minutes and offers a perfect introduction into the protagonist’s circumstances—her walk resembles not of someone aimless but of someone who has nowhere to go and no one to go to.
Continue reading “Criterion Reviews: ‘Wanda’”