Tag Archives: Colman Domingo

Without Remorse (2021) Review

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Without Remorse

Time: 109 Minutes
Cast:
Michael B. Jordan as John Kelly
Jamie Bell as Robert Ritter
Jodie Turner-Smith as Lieutenant Commander Karen Greer
Luke Mitchell as Rowdy King
Jack Kesy as Thunder
Brett Gelman as Victor Rykov
Lauren London as Pam Kelly
Colman Domingo as Pastor West
Guy Pearce as Secretary of Defense Thomas Clay
Director: Stefano Sollima

Seeking justice for the murder of his pregnant wife, an elite Navy SEAL (Michael B. Jordan) uncovers a covert plot that threatens to engulf the United States and Russia in an all-out war.

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I heard about Without Remorse somewhat recently, the main thing I knew was that it was based off a Tom Clancy book. I wasn’t expecting a huge amount from it, especially with the reactions to it. With that said, I like Michael B. Jordan (who’s in the lead role), and the director and writer of Sicario: Day of the Soldado, Stefano Sollima and Taylor Sheridan, were involved. I expected an okay action flick and that’s pretty much what I got.

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The writing is the key issues with the movie really, despite Taylor Sheridan being one of the writers, it’s pretty underwhelming. If you’ve seen a movie based off the works of Tom Clancy, Without Remorse should feel very familiar. I never read the book so I can’t comment on the similarities or differences between the book and the movie. However I can say that the movie felt like straightforward 80s and 90s CIA espionage thrillers (especially those based off Tom Clancy’s books). The plot all in all is pretty generic, the story is fine but underdeveloped. The script itself has a lot of cliches, illogical situations and forced one liners that don’t really fit in here. There aren’t any interesting backstories, and the motives of the characters aren’t that compelling. It’s like a 90s action thriller with the notable fact that the mood throughout much of the plot of Without Remorse is sombre, so it’s not quite as entertaining as it could’ve been. Without Remorse is a revenge story for the main character, beyond that though, there isn’t much to the story as a whole. It has its twists, but nothing was compelling or surprising. The reveals are predictable especially one obvious reveal in the third act. It really is just a simple, predictable espionage thriller, but that might be enough for you. It is tightly paced enough, and while the runtime doesn’t give enough development to the plot (though even with its hour and 50 minutes it could’ve done more), it does make it a fairly easy if forgettable watch. Something to note is that in the mid credits there’s a scene which sets up a follow up for a sequel, with it continuing to follow the books of Tom Clancy presumably.

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There’s a pretty good cast involved overall. Michael B. Jordan is in the lead role and while I wouldn’t argue that it’s one of his best performances, he’s good as a soldier seeking revenge. He elevates much of the writing with his performance and is particularly great with the physicality in the action scenes. Without him I feel like the movie would’ve been much worse. A supporting cast which includes Jodie Turner Smith, Jamie Bell and Guy Pearce also work pretty well overall.

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Stefano Sollima is the director, and I was impressed with his work on Sicario 2. Here his work on Without Remorse is relatively decent and does the job. On a technical level it is solid, but it really shined most in the action sequences. There are some good action set pieces that are well shot and paced, and the chorography felt brutal. I wouldn’t say that they really make the movie, as entertaining as they are, they could’ve been a little more creative. But for what its worth, the action is among the better parts of the film.

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Without Remorse was pretty much what I expected it to be. It’s a pretty simple espionage action movie with a generic and familiar plot. However, what does make up for it are a pretty good cast including a strong lead performance in Michael B. Jordan, and some entertaining action scenes. It really does seem like they are working towards a sequel, and if it happens, I just hope that it is better than this movie was.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020) Review

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Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Time: 94 Minutes
Cast:
Viola Davis as Ma Rainey
Chadwick Boseman as Levee Green
Glynn Turman as Toledo
Colman Domingo as Cutler
Michael Potts as Slow Drag
Director: George C. Wolfe

Chicago, 1927. A recording session. Tensions rise between Ma Rainey (Viola Davis), her ambitious horn player (Chadwick Boseman), and the white management determined to control the uncontrollable “Mother of the Blues”. Based on Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson’s play.

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I had heard about Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom for some time as it was gaining awards attention, especially with its two lead performers Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman. Both are great actors, so I was looking forward to their performances alone. Aside from that I didn’t really know what to expect from the movie. While it does suffer the same problem as most movies adapted from plays, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is quite good on the whole.

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First of all, it should be known going into the movie that Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is based off a play from August Wilson. You can really feel that it’s based off a play pretty early on when watching it. Not only is it very dialogue based, with some big and extended monologues at times, the movie also spans over the course of one afternoon during a recording session, and is generally set in just one location. For the first 30 minutes of the film, you might find the pacing a bit slow, and it is indeed slow. After the first act or so though, you might get into it though, that’s what happened with me. At its core, the movie is a contained and subtle character study. I’m not familiar with the play so I can’t comment on how much is taken from play, but either way the film is well written, especially with the dialogue. There are long stretches of dialogue, and while thankfully I was interested in hearing them play out, there are parts where I’m not quite as interested and it dragged for me. Generally though, I found myself engaged throughout. Runtime is just over 90 minutes, which was probably the right length although if you’re not as invested it’s going to feel much longer for you. With that said, while the movie does have a lot of themes throughout including systemic discrimination and racial tensions, if the film was a bit longer it would’ve been able to flesh out its themes a bit more.

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For all the solid writing and decent direction, the performances were the highlight of the movie for me, and that’ll be the same for most people who watch it. The main stars are Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman. Davis as you’d expect, really gives it her all, she’s a powerhouse and has such a huge onscreen and offscreen presence. As Ma Rainey, this is practically an acting showcase for her. Davis isn’t the only actor delivering an outstanding performance in this movie. Chadwick Boseman sadly passed away in 2020, and this will be his last performance of his career. Everyone who has seen the movie have declared this to be a career best from him, and its definitely warranted. And yes, make no mistake, the movie may be called Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, but it’s more like Ma Rainey and Levee (the name of Boseman’s character). Boseman’s performance was raw, tough, free, dynamic and liberated, and he brings a lot of passion to the role. The character is larger than life for sure, but there’s a lot of emotional depth to him too. His character had a lot to him, and eventually more becomes revealed about him as the film progresses. Boseman particularly has some great monologues, some of the best monologues in the whole movie, and those moments really stood out. Despite those two main performances being in the forefront, the supporting cast shouldn’t be overlooked either, Glynn Turman, Colman Domingo, and Michael Potts deliver some great work here. The whole cast really does play off each other very well, which is needed with it being a dialogue and character driven movie.

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George C. Wolfe directs this movie, and overall I thought his work here was good enough. If you couldn’t tell already from the writing and the dialogue that it’s based off a play, you can definitely tell that by the way it was filmed and directed. The sets are limited, but the production design, makeup and costumes are detailed and accurate to the time. One could say that the cinematography and camerawork is unremarkable, but it’s simple, vibrant and effective, and catches the right moments. It really does firmly place you at the setting of the movie. Also, while it could’ve been more stylish and stand out more, it is a step above most films based off plays. The music or lack thereof drives the plot forward, and so naturally the music is handled very well too.

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As I said before, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom has the typical issues from other plays turned into movies, including pacing, some of the way the dialogue is handled, and some of the direction. On the whole though it is good. I think that it won’t work for everyone, even just for the structure. However I highly recommend that people watch it for the performances alone, especially with phenomenal work from Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman.

If Beale Street Could Talk (2018) Review

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
KiKi Layne as Clementine “Tish” Rivers
Stephan James as Alonzo “Fonny” Hunt
Regina King as Sharon Rivers
Teyonah Parris as Ernestine Rivers
Colman Domingo as Joseph Rivers
Brian Tyree Henry as Daniel Carty
Ed Skrein as Officer Bell
Emily Rios as Victoria Rogers
Michael Beach as Frank Hunt
Aunjanue Ellis as Mrs. Hunt
Ebony Obsidian as Adrienne Hunt
Dominique Thorne as Sheila Hunt
Finn Wittrock as Hayward
Diego Luna as Pedrocito
Pedro Pascal as Pietro Alvarez
Dave Franco as Levy
Director: Barry Jenkins

In early 1970s Harlem, daughter and wife-to-be Tish (KiKi Layne) vividly recalls the passion, respect and trust that have connected her and her artist fiancé Alonzo Hunt, who goes by the nickname Fonny (Stephan James). Friends since childhood, the devoted couple dream of a future together, but their plans are derailed when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit.

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If Beale Street Could Talk has been a movie I’ve been meaning to see for a while and it’s partly the reason why I have been holding off on making my favourite films of 2018 list. The main standout part was that it comes from Barry Jenkins, the writer/director behind Moonlight, an excellent film that rightfully won Best Picture of that year. I had been hearing so many great things about his latest film and I am so glad I waited to see it. I had a great amount of anticipation for If Beale Street Could Talk, and yet it blew me away, it was absolutely phenomenal.

Like with Moonlight, the film was written by Barry Jenkins, this time it’s based on a book of the same name by James Baldwin, however you can really feel that this is a Jenkins movie. It’s actually pretty difficult to explain why If Beale Street Can Talk works as well as it does, however I’ll do my best. Everything about the writing, from the story, to the dialogue and the characters feels so incredibly real and genuine, you really feel like you’re watching a real story with real people. You just get so emotionally invested with the characters. Yes, given the premise you’d be right to say that it’s quite melancholic at some points, because it is, given that it’s surrounding a black man being put in prison for a crime that he didn’t commit. However it’s not just one big long depressing watch, it feels very natural and human, with happy moments, humorous moments, sad moments and the like. Honestly the only thing about the movie that I might take issue with might be that there’s a scene where we get to see the families of both Tish and Fonny, and while we get a brief look at the family dynamics, we don’t get a dive enough into the conflicts beyond that one scene, it’s a very minor nitpick however and isn’t that big of a problem. The movie ends on a bit of an open note, but it was the perfect ending for the film.

There are a lot of actors involved with the movie and they all do a great job, no matter how big or little their roles are. KiKi Layne and Stephan James play the leads of Tish and Fonny, and they are really great. We only get some glimpses into their romance in the time before Fonny is arrested, however in the moments we get, they are very believable together and their chemistry is truly great. Often times when it comes to a romance movie, even if it gets most aspects well, I would feel very underwhelmed if I’m not truly invested in the lead relationship. Thankfully, Beale Street’s central romance works excellently. Layne is particularly wonderful in her role as the central lead, definitely deserving of a lot of praise. Regina King is really great as Tish’s mother, I can see why she’s the frontrunner to win Best Supporting Actress at this upcoming Oscars. Brian Tyree Henry is also briefly in the movie as a friend of Stephen James and while he’s not in a lot of scenes, he is a standout in his screentime. The rest of the cast were all really good. Even those who show up for a scene or two, whether that be Dave Franco, Diego Luna, Pedro Pascal or Ed Skrein, they do great jobs at making themselves memorable for their screentime, and not necessarily just because you recognise them.

Barry Jenkins once again directs absolutely wonderfully here, like with his writing you can definitely tell this is a Jenkins film from his direction. Everything is so perfectly put together. I also noticed that there were plenty of visual storytelling moments, they are very sublte and small, and not a lot happens, but they tell so much. It’s a beautiful looking movie, with James Laxton’s great cinematography really adding a tremendous amount to the movie and at times really giving it a dreamlike vibe. That vibe is also helped by the score composed by Nicolas Britell, which was great.

If Beale Street Could Talk is fantastic and one of the all time best films of 2018. It’s a heartfelt and emotional movie, it’s perfectly written, the performances are great and Barry Jenkins’s direction was fantastic. I am absolutely astounded that despite floating around multiple film awards, it was shut out for Best Picture, had it been nominated this year it would’ve been my pick for it. I’m not sure how it ranks against Moonlight, I’ll need to rewatch it to be sure, but If Beale Street Could Talk is still a fantastic film on its own and is an absolute essential watch.

Assassination Nation (2018) Review

Time: 110 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic violence, sexual violence, sex scenes & offensive language
Cast:
Odessa Young as Lily Colson
Suki Waterhouse as Sarah Lacey
Hari Nef as Bex
Abra as Em Lacey
Bella Thorne as Reagan Hall
Bill Skarsgård as Mark
Joel McHale as Nick Mathers
Maude Apatow as Grace
Colman Domingo as Principal Turrell
Anika Noni Rose as Nancey Lacey
Director: Sam Levinson

High school senior Lily (Odessa Young) and her three best friends (Suki Waterhouse, Hari Nef, Abra) live in a haze of texts, posts, selfies and chats — just like the rest of the world. Their small town gets turned upside down when an anonymous hacker starts to reveal personal messages and secrets of thousands of people. As anger erupts into full-blown violence, the four girls soon find themselves in a fight for their lives against an armed mob.

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I heard some things about Assassination Nation for a while, it was rather polarising for some people, and some referred to it as a better version of The Purge. Some loved the movie, others really disliked it. Going in not knowing much outside of that, I ended up falling somewhere in the middle camp on Assassination Nation, I don’t hate the movie but I do hate aspects of it. While the idea of it could’ve worked, it was just way too full of itself , obnoxious and trying way too hard to be ‘edgy’ and satirical that most of it doesn’t really land. Not that it doesn’t have some decent parts to it but it doesn’t make up for all the parts that don’t work.

From the very beginning, Assassination Nation is pretty rough. It’s really worth noting that the movie is very much a satire on modern day culture, especially with social media and partially focussing on high school kids who are on their phone all day, with it acting as a modern satire on the Salem Witch Trials. While on paper it sounds like it could be something good, the satire is so incredibly blatant, and obnoxiously so. Usually I don’t have a problem with in your face satire, both Sorry to Bother You and Vice are satires that aren’t particularly subtle that are among my favourite films of the year. I’m not sure what went wrong with Assassination Nation that didn’t work for me but here it just felt really annoying and pretentious (and trust me, I usually abstain from using that word because I hate it but I don’t know what else to call it). I think its because it comes across like the writer/director believes it to be like the greatest thing ever, is absolute genius, and smarter than it really is, even if he doesn’t necessarily feel that way. I can’t tell whether Assassination Nation will work for you or not, if you want to know for sure, you’ll just have to watch the movie for yourself. First of all the movie starts by giving a Trigger Warning and it just seemed like it was a way to be ‘edgy’. The movie starts from the very beginning going right into the social commentary. It got to the point where the movie just feels like the film embodiment of the meme ‘We Live In A Society’ (if you don’t know what it is, its not worth looking into it). The in your face satire that annoyed me mostly comes from the dialogue, which can be very cringe inducing and a pain to listen to at times. Making that worse is that while I can get what messages and themes they were going for, they don’t achieve it very well by the end and it just sort of disappears. Side note but you can tell from the beginning that it’s trying to be a female empowerment movie (it’s pretty hard to not notice this, given that the movie doesn’t know what subtlety is), but there are many moments in here that were incredibly questionable to that and very inconsistent. I didn’t care at all about any of the characters, they were unlikable, annoying, bland, or all 3. The lead characters were the closest to being watchable but I still didn’t care much about it all. So on top of the satire being ham fisted and obnoxious, I had no investment whatsoever in the story. If the whole town just blew up I wouldn’t have cared, in fact it probably would’ve been cathartic. It got to the point where I just wanted to watch the original Purge movie again instead, which is a feeling I never thought that I would ever have. Eventually Assassination Nation gets much better later on in the third act as it leans in more towards being somewhat like The Purge but that’s when there is like 40 minutes left of the running time and even then it doesn’t completely make up for the rest of the movie. With that said, if you’re like an hour of the way into the movie, just know that you may be entertained by the last act, so don’t jump out of it just yet.

Some of the ways characters act are meant to be satirical and over the top, a lot of the time they really come across as being obnoxious a lot of the time (the dialogue doesn’t help much) but the actors at least do the best they can in their roles and with what they have. The leads, Odessa Young, Sukie Waterhouse, Haris Nef and Abra are all good in their roles.

Something I can say is that the visual direction by Sam Levinson is pretty good. It’s got quite a good look, he definitely knows his way behind a camera, visually it is really a stunning looking movie. With that said, having scenes with very neon lighting isn’t enough to just make me love the movie, it doesn’t make up for the script. Despite there being a Trigger Warning at the beginning of the movie to seem ‘edgy’, it is genuinely a very violent and graphic movie and not for the faint of heart. Now I have a high threshold for movie violence, but whenever there’s a bunch of gratuitous violence that’s unneeded, it can turn me off and that’s the case here. It just added more onto the feeling that Assassination Nation was just trying way too hard.

Assassination Nation doesn’t work as well as I think the director thinks the movie is. While there are parts to it that are alright, with a messy script that comes across as trying way too hard, I did not have a particularly good time with the movie. With that said, I heard some very divided reactions, so I’m not sure how you’ll feel about it. I guess if you’re curious enough you could check it out but honestly I don’t think you’re missing out on much if you decide not to watch it. Maybe if I was still in high school or something I might’ve liked the movie a lot more.