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Movie Corner: Last Night in Soho

Movie Corner: Last Night in Soho

Universal (2021) ★★★★★ By HOWARD MCQUITTER II Last Night in Soho to its credit is quite spellbinding, thanks in large part to cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung (who also is the cinematographer with director Edgar Wright's Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz . What director Edgar Wright does convincingly well is how he segues genres, drama, horror and mystery. Adding to this fascinating film is a tribute to many 1960s rock/R&B songs. (The title for Last Night in Soho is a reference to a 1960s rock band, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich.)             The story begins with a young woman, Eloise (Thomasin McKenkie from JoJo Rabbit), with big aspirations to go London to be a fashion designer but not without a warning about moving to the big city from Peggy (Rita Tushingham). Eloise loves 60s music and styles. Her first nights are in the dorm with some other students who love to party and go to bars. She feels out of place but she does go to the bars with them. Eloise, not satisfied living with the other students, rents a second-floor apartment from an old landlady (Diana Rigg).        But before long, Eloise begins to have strange dreams (some might say hallucinations, or maybe reincarnation) about a woman named Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy), from the 1960s, with aspirations to be a famous singer. But Eloise is pulled into these dreams like a spectator as this glamorous blonde goes into her performances, seemingly gliding through with singing and dancing before crowds and louche men. However, these dreams become darker leaving her to believe she's no longer a spectator, but something more sinister. She wants to find out what really happened to the promising talented woman. But a clue may be on the way from her landlady who, attempting to ease Eloise's agitation, remarks, "This is London. Someone has died in every room in every building..." And Eloise remembers what Peggy warned her [...]

Movie Corner: Melvin Van Peebles

Movie Corner: Melvin Van Peebles

He's the ManMelvin Van Peebles (1932-2021) Melvin Van Peebles. Photo by John Matthew Smith By HOWARD McQUITTER II The African American filmmaker-actor Melvin Van Peebles, a fiercely independent filmmaker, could make memorable and remarkable films on a shoestring budget such as the 1971 bombshell film Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song about a Black pimp who kills two policemen for beating up a Black militant and how he eludes law enforcement. (His son Mario, is also an actor/director.) And with Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, in particular, but in conjunction with his body of work (his directorial debut is Watermelon Man in Hollywood), the man is often known as the "Godfather of Black cinema". (The late Black director Gordon Parks is also a modern pioneer of Black cinema.) Mr. Melvin Van Peebles graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a B. A. in 1953. He decided to travel heavily in Europe, Mexico and the United States taking on jobs such as postal worker, painter, street performer and for a while in the air force. Fluent in French, while he lived in Paris he wrote several French-language novels, including La Permission (1967), turning it into his first feature film. The genre is a romantic drama released in France, and in the United States (as The Story of a Three-day Pass) the next year. Van Peebles in Hollywood used largely nonprofessional actors and technicians, usually African Americans. He fit well in the blaxploitation era drawing huge success with African American audiences and drawing much criticism from many white critics. Violence, nudity, scurrility, gangs and drugs dominated much of not onlySweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, but in many blaxploitation films by him or other directors. But what's often misunderstood by many viewers - both Black and white - of blaxploitation films, the messages are really anti-drug in nature. Feeding into the backdrop of Van Peebles' films, as well as other blaxploitation directors, is whatever [...]

Chadwick Boseman: The Bronze Man (1976-2020)

Movie Corner By HOWARD McQUITTER II  “The worst is Death, and death will have his day.” --William Shakespeare  The day I heard Chadwick Boseman died, his death shocked my system. What”™s more he was only 43 years old, dying of colon cancer. ( I”™m all too familiar with colon cancer, thanks be to God I”™m still here to talk about it.)  Young, gifted, Black and handsome Mr. Chadwick came into the world on November 29, 1976, born and raised in Anderson, SouthCarolina, to Carolyn and Leroy Boseman. The likes of a Boseman-- his voice, his expertise, his persona, his reverential treatment of scripts as a thespian not only causes little Black boys and girls to dream, but to do what God gives them as upcoming thespians: talent.  Boseman leaves lasting marks in cinema by acting in biopics of African American icons such as playing baseball star Jackie Robinson in “42”(2013); college football great Vontae Mack in “Draft Day”(2014); R&B entertainer James Brown in “Get On Up” (2014) ; and first-time African American Supreme Cour Judge Thurgood Marshall in “Marshall”(2017).  A lesser known fact-- but just as important-- Phylicia Rashad, famous for her role as BillCosby”™s character wife on “The Cosby Show” as Clair Huxtable, was one of Boseman”™s teachers in the acting classes at Howard University. Veteran actor Denzel Washington helped Boseman and other students to join an acting program at Oxford University. Hollywood had longtime doubts that a Black superhero with a majority Black cast could or would be a big seller at the box office.  In 2018, all bets were off when the action/ adventure/ science-fiction movie “Black Panther” premiered, starring Chadwick Boseman as T”™Challa, Micheal B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger, Lupita Nyong”™o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as Okoye, [...]

Movie Corner – November 2018

Movie Corner – November 2018

By HOWARD McQUITTER II oldschoolmovies.wordpress.com howardmcquitter68@gmail.com This year, 2018, marks the 50th anniversary of Stanley Kubrick”'s masterpiece or, one of them anyway, “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968), a treasure of science fiction/ drama although a film in this day that may not be fully understood, at least at the ending. (One can honestly say, Kubrick”'s “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” is also a Masterpiece.) Mr. Kubrick”'s “2001: A Space Odyssey” is a major example of his ambivalence about technology and its future for humanity. Kubrick (like myself) grew up during the” Cold War” when “The Cuban Missile Crisis” and threat of nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union seemed to be on the verge of breaking out. Kubrick”'s film is based on Arthur C. Clarke”'s “The Sentinel.” Both men collaborate on the screenplay to be made into four movements. Yet, to this day the visuals are still mesmerizing with everything done mechanically (no CGI back then). Maybe Kubrick and Clarke”'s outer space adventure somehow forecast the landing on the moon the next year -- 1969 -- when Mission Commander Neil Armstrong and pilot Buzz Aldrin, both Americans, plant the American flag there. (more…)

Animal Kingdom & Centurion

Animal Kingdom & Centurion

by Howard McQuitter Crime Drama Sony Picture Classics Running Time: 113 Minutes Rated: R Writer/Director David Michod Jacki Weaver as (“Mommy”) Jannie Cody matriarch of the Codys, a low-level crime family of sons, gives an excellent performance, Ben Mendelsohn as Andrew ”˜Pope”' Cody, one of her most devious sons””a psychopath””the lean crook went into hiding from the cops. Craig (Sullivan Stapleton) and Darren (Luke Ford) are the other two brothers. The Codys live in one of the working class suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. Center Stage is Joshua (or “J”) Cody, Janny Cody”'s grandson, who lost his “mum” to a heroine overdose, staying with his conniving grandma and drug dealing and bank robbing uncles. Joshua is seventeen years old and not involved in their crime sprees but is sucked into it by default. Smurf, nickname for Jannie Cody, overprotects “J” trying to shield him from her unscrupulous sons. Though “J” manages to not join the cabal he”'s dragged in when the good cops bring him into custody and questioned on several occasions by police detective Leckie (Guy Pearce) hoping he”'s the Key to the Codys”' nasty crime wave. Well, Joshua”'s stoic demeanor precludes little if any valuable information. Nonetheless Uncles Craig and Darren became paranoid Joshua (James Frecheville) may spill the beans on their operation. Two cops have been shot and killed by part of the Cody clan. Between a smiling, wide-eyed Machiavellian grandma named Smurf and a stoic grandson Joshua (and the relentless uncles) makes for a slow pace, brilliant crime thriller””Aussie style. (more…)

Ancient traditions “unmasked” in Kennedy”'s dynamic ancient art masks

Interview with Alvin Kennedy by Howard McQuitter II “My art reflects a blend of urgan and primitive themes, expressed in pen and ink drawings and rigid paper sculptures,” Alvin Kennedy says. “The latter most often take the form of unique masks that reflects my heritage and bridges ethnic communities.” Alvin Kennedy is a sculptor-painter par excellence who concentrates on making African masks. While he worked as a social service counselor for youth in trouble, Alvin used his artistic talents. Interviewer (Howard McQuitterll) (HM): How long have you lived in the Twin Cities? Alvin Kennedy (AK): Since 1984. I was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. (more…)

Police, Adjective & The Ghost Writer

Police, Adjective & The Ghost Writer

by Howard McQuitter Police, Adjective (2009) *** Twentieth Century Fox Lagoon Running Time: 115 minutes Language: Romanian Director: Corneliu Porumboiu Bucharest detective Cristi (Dragos Bucur) trails a teenage boy who may be a hashish user, trying to find his supplier. Cristi would rather stop what seems to be overkill in finding small quantities of drugs on a 16 or 17 year old boy. Examining cigarette butts after the boy or his friends leave isn”'t what Cristi relishes doing. Cristi”'s boss (Vlad Ivanov, “4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days”) wants convictions; Cristi wants a far softer approach, clemency if you will, for a conviction can mean 15 years and ruin the boy”'s life, which is against his conscience. Perhaps his boss”' draconian approach to the boy (we never know his name) is rooted in the Ceausescu regime (1965-1989), a former iron-fisted Communist rule in Romania. “Police, Adjective” is certainly not for everyone unless one has extreme patience. Waiting for something is an excruciating experience. (more…)

Fish Tank & Repo Man

Fish Tank & Repo Man

by Howard McQuitter Fish Tank (2009) **** Lagoon Drama Running time: 123 minutes Director: Andrea Arnold Unrated The movie starts rather slowly, but the plot becomes more clear as the main character Mia (Katie Jarvis) waddles through meaning her life at age 15. She feels trapped by her environment in the projects in an English city. Her mother Joanne (Kiersten Wareino), is a blond busty woman who loves to party and dance. Mia”'s little sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffins) plays around the tenement though she would often prefer following Mia around. Joanne”'s boyfriend Connor (Michael Fassbender of “Inglorious Basterds” and “Hunger”) seems okay, a happy-go-lucky guy with a job at a factory. The film is seen through the eyes of Misa, a school drop out, teased by boys in the neighborhood and she”'s a loner. She often uses a vacant apartment above her own to practice break-dancing while watching break-dance videos. She tries to free a horse but is physically confronted by gypsy boys. Much like Mike Leigh”'s films on English working class alienation, Arnold”'s “Fish Tank” depicts the alienation of Mia in particular, but the characters in general. “Fish Tank” won the jury prize at last year”'s Cannes Film Festival. Andrea Arnold (“Red Road) won an Oscar for her 2003 short “Wasp”. She picks a cockney Katie Jarvis, her debut, for “Fish Tank” a mesmerizing performance by the 18 year old. The sexual undertones by Connor toward Mia are very, very subtle. Connor”'s fetish is a case of Euphebophilia, not pedophila. “Fish Tank” can be said to be a much milder version of “Precious” with the characters being Caucasians. Repo Man (2010) * Rosedale 8 Drama Running time: 111 minutes Director: Miguel Sapachnik Rated: R Oh, how wonderful it is for friends to endure to the end of the film in spite of differences [...]