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Hamilton (2020) Review

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Hamilton

Time: 160 Minutes
Cast:
Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson
Renée Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler
Jonathan Groff as King George III
Christopher Jackson as George Washington
Jasmine Cephas Jones as Peggy Schuyler and Maria Reynolds
Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton
Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr
Okieriete Onaodowan as Hercules Mulligan and James Madison
Anthony Ramos as John Laurens and Philip Hamilton
Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton
Director: Thomas Kail

The original Broadway production of the award-winning musical that tells the story of Alexander Hamilton (Lin-Manuel Miranda), first secretary of the treasury, blending hip-hop, jazz, R&B and Broadway styles, filmed from the Richard Rogers Theater in New York.

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I heard about the acclaimed musical Hamilton for some time. Outside of one song however, I really didn’t know much about it, aside from it being about the founding fathers and Lin-Manuel Miranda being the person who created it. With one of the showings being put on Disney+ however, I knew I should probably watch it and see for myself if it worked for me. I’m glad to say that it very much did work for me, and I had a great time with it.

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Reviewing Hamilton is a bit weird, I’m essentially reviewing a musical, and it’s not even a film adaptation. However, I’ll try my best. I’m not an American History expert, according to some people the musical is accurate in terms of what happens, but I won’t judge it on that level. Though I think the casting and the fact that it is a Broadway musical should automatically give an indication that this probably shouldn’t be taken as being 100% accurate, and shouldn’t be the prime source of education about the founding fathers of America. It is 2 hours and 40 minutes long and it is a long running story, a lot of things happen over the course of the musical, it even has some actors playing more than one character. As overwhelming as it was going into it blind, especially as someone who didn’t really know what to expect, I was pretty invested throughout. It’s entertaining, it’s funny, and it becomes surprisingly emotional at points. By the end I was quite satisfied with what I had watched.

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The whole cast of actors do very well in their part in both acting and when it came to singing. The creator of the musical, Lin-Manuel Miranda plays the lead of Alexander Hamilton and does well on his part. I knew about Miranda from other things, with Mary Poppins Returns and His Dark Materials, but I think he did a good job here. I will say that his singing wasn’t the best, especially when compared to the others in the cast, but more than makes it up for his acting, especially in the latter half of the film. There were a few actors who really stood out, Daveed Diggs and Leslie Odom were particularly outstanding in their parts of Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. Jonathan Groff was only in a few scenes but was fantastic as King George III, a hilarious and entertaining performance that was very memorable in his onscreen moments.

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A big part of the movie is the music, and I thought it was really good. It is one of those musicals where every line is singing, but they pulled it off. A musical about the founding fathers doesn’t sound particularly like it’s prime music material. However the songs are pretty great (there are so many of them too), well written, and there was a lot of genres mixed in including rap, hip hop, jazz and Broadway, and it made the music and overall musical stand out and very entertaining. I’ve only watched the movie/musical once, but with every song on this from this first viewing, I found all of them to be very solid. Production values are top notch too, the choreography was great, and I can imagine it would’ve been a blast watching it in the theatre. In terms of the filming for the movie on Disney+, the direction from Thomas Kail was handled well, and really captured the show as best as possible.

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I really had no idea if I would like Hamilton going in, but I found it enjoyable, entertaining, and I was engaged from beginning to end. For those who haven’t seen it yet, I think it’s worth seeing it for yourselves, and by experiencing it first on the Disney+ version, you won’t have to pay money to buy tickets to watch it in person. I will say that I’m not sure how I’d feel about it on a rewatch, this is just from the one viewing and it was a lot to take in as it was. However, I think it’s really good and I’m glad I saw it.

Blindspotting (2018) Review

Time: 95 Minutes
Cast:
Daveed Diggs as Collin Hoskins
Rafael Casal as Miles
Janina Gavankar as Val
Jasmine Cephas Jones as Ashley
Ethan Embry as Officer Molina
Tisha Campbell-Martin as Mama Liz
Utkarsh Ambudkar as Rin
Wayne Knight as Patrick
Director: Carlos López Estrada

Collin (Daveed Diggs) must make it through his final three days of probation for a chance at a new beginning in his Oakland, Calif., neighborhood. His bond with his volatile best friend (Rafael Casal) soon gets tested when Collin sees a police officer shoot a suspect in the back during a chase through the streets.

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Blindspotting was a film that was slowly getting attention recently. Not many people have seen it and it hasn’t really been getting any awards attention, but those who have seen it gave it a lot of acclaim and considered it to be one of the best films of 2018. Naturally I had to check it out and I’m definitely with the group of people who love it, Blindspotting is one of the best films of 2018 and must be seen as soon as possible.

The script was written by lead actors Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal in the mid 2000s, and knowing that fact while watching just elevated both the story and the lead performances significantly as the story feels really personal, and it definitely comes across on screen as well. This screenplay is fantastically written. Now this movie has some prevalent themes and topics like race and policy brutality and despite the heavy subject matter, I think it handles everything really well, as it feels like a movie on its own as well as sending some strong messages and says what it wants to say. There is some great comedy in the movie sprinkled throughout, especially during some of the conversations between the two leads, and its very fitting and makes it a genuinely entertaining movie to watch. On top of that, the characters all feel real and genuine and not just one dimensional vessels for ideas and symbolism or anything like that. At the same time the movie really hits hard with the heavy scenes when it needs to and it gets its messages across really effectively. The ending of this movie is particularly great. On paper it sounds really silly but the way it was directed, written, acted and overall executed was so incredibly powerful and worked extremely well. Definitely one of the stand out movie endings from 2018.

Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal are fantastic in the lead roles. Both actors are childhood friends in real life and that definitely translated to the on screen chemistry. All their interactions from them hanging out and talking about random things to having full on intense arguments feel completely genuine and real. A stand out scene is a particular argument later in the movie between the two of them.

This is director Carlos López Estrada’s first feature film and this is a really great directorial debut. Oakland really feels like a big presence here, with the cinematography, environment and music all adding a lot to it all. In terms of some stand out directed scenes, there are also some nightmarish scenes where lead character Collin is haunted by from him seeing a killing by a cop early in the movie, and the film did a great job at portraying the paranoia, fear and anxiety that he feels. I’m looking forward to seeing more of his directing work.

Blindspotting is one of the best films of 2018. It’s a great directorial debut, written excellently and is all around a very personal and intimate story. The performances by Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal are some of the best of the year and deserve more acclaim than they have been receiving. Blindspotting is not a movie to be missed.