Tag Archives: KiKi Layne

The Old Guard (2020) Review

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The Old Guard

Time: 125 Minutes
Cast:
Charlize Theron as Andy/Andromache of Scythia
KiKi Layne as Nile Freeman
Matthias Schoenaerts as Booker/Sebastian Le Livre
Marwan Kenzari as Joe/Yusuf Al-Kaysani
Luca Marinelli as Nicky/Nicolò di Genova
Chiwetel Ejiofor as James Copley
Harry Melling as Steven Merrick
Veronica Ngo as Quynh
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood

A group of mercenaries, all centuries-old immortals with the ability to heal themselves, discover someone is onto their secret, and they must fight to protect their freedom.

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I had heard about The Old Guard for some time. All I knew about it was that it was a Netflix action movie based on a comic book and starred Charlize Theron in the lead role. I wasn’t in any rush to get around to watching it, I wasn’t really expecting much going into it. It turned out to be better than I thought it would be, despite some of its issues, I thought it was quite entertaining and generally well made.

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There was a little more to the story of The Old Guard than I thought there would be. I just thought it would be an action movie about immortals. While there was that, there was an interesting mythology and lore that was given, especially with the characters. There is however a lot of exposition explaining the characters’ pasts, especially with the use of flashbacks. Some of the flashbacks were quite effective, others were a little cheesy. The plot itself is quite predictable and nothing special, which is disappointing given the potential the setup and premise has. I guess what made it feel somewhat fresh was how they handled the relationships between the main group. Nonetheless, some of the characters get more attention and depth than others, and it does feel like the plot could’ve been a lot better. There are for sure some cliches, from recycled plot points to familiar dialogue. The pacing was also slower, and that was good and bad at the same time. While I appreciate the movie not rushing into just being a typical action movie and focussing on some character moments, there were parts where it does slow down just a little too much. There wasn’t as much action as I thought there would be, and I do think that it worked towards the film’s benefit. The ending was setting up a sequel, and I’m on board with that and hope that it happens.

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The cast really do well on their parts. Charlize Theron is in the lead role and plays her part greatly, her performance alone makes the movie worth watching. Additionally, Theron is no stranger to action and performs very well in those scenes. KiKi Layne is also great in one of the lead roles as a newcomer to this world of immortals. The rest of the immortals played by Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari and Luca Marinelli are also quite good. Chiwetel Ejiofor isn’t given much to do, but he also played his part very well. Harry Melling also plays up his hammy cliché villain pretty well, even if he really didn’t have much to work with.

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I haven’t seen any work from Gina Prince-Bythewood, but she directed The Old Guard pretty well. The action is one of the highlights of the movie, it’s choreographed well, brutal, and very well shot. If there’s anything that takes away from them, it’s that the bad soundtrack was pretty bad. The movie is filled with pop songs which really didn’t fit the movie, and many of them play during the action scenes. The songs themselves weren’t necessarily bad, it’s just that they really didn’t work well with the action scenes they were placed in, and they were more than a little distracting.

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The Old Guard was a bit of a surprise, I don’t consider it to be great by any means and there were parts with the script which could’ve been much better, but it was entertaining for what it was. It was directed well, featured some solid action scenes, and the cast perform well. If you like action movies then I’d say that this is one to check out for sure. I’m definitely interested in follow up movies, hopefully they’d reach the potential that the first movie didn’t.

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.