Entries in Tessa Thompson (3)

Friday
Dec222017

Thor: Ragnarok- review

 

“Thor: Ragnarok” (2017)

Directed by Taika Waititi

Starring Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Tessa Thompson

Running Time 130 Minutes, Rated PG-13

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

After a gazillion Marvel movies, why not finally release a comedy.  They have, with none other than the god of Thunder and apparently the god of action humor  in “Thor: Ragnarok”.  The fact that Marvel had the cojones to enlist New Zealand independent director Taika Waititi who is responsible for “What We Do in the Shadows” and “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” and who I adore is an example of using their immense amount of power for the good of mankind.  Waititi mixes his dry quirky New Zealand humor with huge over the top zany belly laughs that only a Marvel budgeted film can allow.  Mix that with a giant 80’s color wheel vomiting everywhere (a good thing) and balls to the wall action, this is one of the most pleasurable films of the year.

 

Plot, schmott.  Just know that Chris Hemsworth is built like a god and is incredibly hilarious (not fair) - I need him to be successful in something else besides the Marvelverse.  Hiddleston and Ruffalo are great as Loki and The Hulk, but it’s the new additions of Tessa Thompson and Jeff freaking Goldblum that will make you swoon. Marvel once again suffers from a ‘meh’ villain, although not to the fault of Cate Blanchett who looks to be having fun in black spandex.  Even Waititi shows up voicing a gentle would be revolutionary Rock Warrior named Korg who gets some of the best lines of the movie.

I had fun at “Thor: Ragnarok” and if you’re not dead inside then so shall you.

Isaiah 45:5

 

Wednesday
Dec092015

Creed- Review

 

“Creed” (2015)

Directed by Ryan Coogler

Starring  Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson

Running Time 133 Minutes, Rated PG-13

4.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

I was watching the ‘El Rey” network a few weeks back, in a segment where Robert Rodriguez (one of today’s most overrated directors which is neither here nor there) is interviewing Sylvester Stallone about his first leading performance and most famous role to date, Rocky Balboa.  Stallone goes on to comment, “why not keep making sequels to this character” which was unheard of in that day he goes on to say, “wouldn’t it be fascinating to take this beloved character study and just keep coming back to him every few years or so and check up on his life”.  The first film is such a classic, and Stallone has created and imparted such a beloved character into a pop culture icon that I’m a sucker for the Italian Stallion for better or worse.  Sure, Rocky stopping the Cold War may be a bit of a stretch, but I’ll willfully take that journey because overall it’s better to have Rocky Balboa in my life than not; I’ve seen almost 40 years of this man’s life take place on screen, his wins and losses, not just in the ring, but out of it too.

“Creed” gives us back Rocky while magnificently taking us into the corner of a new fighter and ultimately a new contender to win our hearts over.  Which it did in a knock-out!

 

It’s not called Rocky 7, it’s called “Creed”, following Adonis Creed, the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed, Rocky’s best competitor and one of his best friends.  Adonis, who goes by Donnie Johnson, is an angry kid when we first meet him, living in a juvenile detention center until Apollo’s wife Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad) takes him in. Donnie, never met Apollo before he died in the ring against the Russian juggernaut Drago, and so he is stuck between the rough and tough urban world he spent the first half of his life in and the very privileged lifestyle that being a Creed brings with a sense that he does not belong to either world.  

When we get to the present, Donnie is charmingly and brazenly taken over by the terrifically talented Michael B. Jordan (“Fantastic Four” was not his fault).  Donnie, who has been fighting in semi-legal fights in Mexico accumulating a 15-0 record quits his L.A. high finance day job, much to the chagrin of Mary Anne, and moves to Philly so he can get trained by the man who took the title away from his biological father.  When Donnie meets up with Rocky, who spends his time running his restaurant “Adrian’s” and reading the daily news at the gravesite to his departed soul mate and his brother (that’s when the tears started), he wears down Rocky’s initial no’s with an ever pushing drive that reminds Rocky of himself.  

The first Rocky was a great love story between Rocky and Adrian, and in “Creed” I was caught off guard with just how great the romance between Donnie and his downstairs neighbor Bianca (“Dear White People” breakout Tessa Thompson) who has her own chip on the shoulder really is.  It is too crude and generic to label the Rocky franchise as just ‘sports’ movies, and “Creed” is no different.  There is a whole world being fully fleshed out for us in spectacular form.

Jordan proved he was ready to act with the big boys and girls after his stunning turn in “Fruitvale Station”. That film also was directed the hell out of by Ryan Coogler, and wouldn’t you know it that Jordan and Coogler have re teamed to make one hell of a film in “Creed”.  Coogler makes it so fresh in a world that we are well aware with the peripherals, but it doesn’t leave you out of it if this is your first entry into the ‘Rockyverse’ (if it is though, go back and watch these films!).  When it comes to being the ring, Coogler kills it.  Donnie’s big fight in the middle of the film is shot without edit, but not in the flashy way “Birdman” does, it’s crazy intimate as these two men battle as Coogler’s camera keeps so tight that it literally gets in between the two throwing punches.  

That fight and the film’s climax is, and forgive the critic catchphrase steal, pure cinema.  “Creed” is one of those films that invigorates my love for movies as a whole.  I cried for about two-thirds of the film, and I cried so much that I got to snot phase. Jordan is a star, Thompson should be a star (she’s that good), and Stallone is a legend.  Stallone has the Nic Cage problem.  Stallone may not be crazy like Cage, but he is a very talented actor and “Creed” once again proves it, it’s just that Stallone has a self destructing mode that whenever his greatness comes shining through, he can’t help but make 10 bad films after it.  I called it when I saw the trailer, Stallone would get a Best Supporting Actor nomination and after seeing the film I’ll be bloody pissed if he doesn’t.  

I’m looking forward to seeing Creed become a franchise and living out the next 40 years on screen with him.  

I’m looking forward to seeing Creed become a franchise and living out the next 40 years on screen with “this”.

Philippians 4:13

 

Wednesday
Nov052014

Dear White People- review

 

“Dear White People” (2014)

Directed by Justin Simien

Starring Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Kyle Gallner

Running Time 108 Minutes, Rated R.

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Director/writer Justin Simien looks like a pro with his first time effort “Dear White People” that stands out as a bold, daring, and sharply funny effort and provides a sorely needed voice we've previously been devoid of.  

Simien throws a confident young voice in the ‘post racial’ would be era.  Expressing that just because we got our first black president doesn’t mean racism has been wiped out. Not that this is a one sided ‘white people just don’t understand’ film, but bringing light to the insecurities and even ‘black guilt' in the black community.   

  

At the fictional super Ivy League college of Winchester University, Simien follows the lives of a group of black students.  The lead comes from Tessa Thompson who gives a breakout star performance as Sam who runs the college radio show that shares the same title as the film.  On air and in front of her peers, her strong cutting voice is sought out for black leadership, but she has secrets that she’s worried her fellow brothers and sisters won’t understand, like her enjoyment of Taylor Swift music and her hooking up with a white boy instead of second in command of the schools black music Reggie, a man she’s believes is better suited to be with because of the cause but not what her heart wants.  

Other storylines including a strong performance from Tyler James Williams (“Everybody Hates Chris”) as a nerdy and gay young black student who early on isn’t accepted from either side converge to the films finale of a “black” themed party thrown by white students, a scary real life growing fad over the last few years that the end credits detail.  At times “Dear White People” can’t help but come off as smug as some of the prestigious students it’s depicting, but overall this is a deeply funny and smart film that will hopefully make you feel awkward at times.

...that will hopefully make “this” awkward at times.

Galatians 3:28