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Flash Movie Review: Chi-Raq

The use of satire to tell a story is a perfectly valid art form. Satire is defined as a way to use humor to show someone or something is foolish or bad. It was first used in the early 1500s. Many authors and film directors have used satire as a way to get their creations past some form of censorship that was imposed on them or the surrounding area around them. The first time I heard about this movie nothing was mentioned about it being a satire. The focus was on the title which is a combination of Chicago and Iraq. I have been following all the controversy about this film and what amazed me was how vehemently some people were complaining about this movie without knowing anything about it. Some elected officials of Chicago were up in arms that this film would paint a “bad” picture of their city. I found their thinking flawed due to the fact that innocent people are indeed being shot in the city; one cannot hide that fact. What is most troublesome is no one ever comes forward, so it seems, to identify the shooter for fear of retaliation. Freedom of speech is everyone’s right and if director and writer Spike Lee (Inside Man, Do the Right Thing) wanted to shine a light on one city’s particular issue, then he has the right to do so.    SEEING yet another person being killed in her neighborhood Lysistrata, played by Teyonah Parris (Dear White People, Mad Men-TV), enlisted the help of her fellow female citizens in a plan she felt would force people to stop killing each other. With a story based on an ancient Greek play, this dramatic film immediately jumped into the viewer’s face. There was a powerful soundtrack and strong acting from actors like Nick Cannon (The Killing Room, Roll Bounce) as Chi-Raq, Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers franchise, Big Game) as Dolmedes and John Cusack (Dragon Blade, 2012) as Father Mike Corridan; there were several gripping scenes throughout this movie. There were two issues I had regarding how the story was being told. The first one was a majority of the dialog was spoken in a way similar to rapping or a slam poetry session. One had to pay attention to the words to get the meaning; however, there were times that it went too fast for me to understand what they were saying. Also, after a while I was tired of devoting so much energy to the dialog instead of the action and scenes. The other issue I had concerned the unevenness with the scenes; they came across choppy where some were strong and others weak in their attempt to tell a story. There were times where I felt they were even cartoonish. The bottom line here is this film is shining a light on a problem; it is using satire to make it palatable for the viewer. There were scenes with blood, sexual situations and strong language.

 

2 3/4 stars

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Oldboy

It was a delayed reaction on my part when I heard the undecipherable sounds in the subway car. It was white noise or at least I thought it was when it coughed out of the train car speakers. The train was being detoured to the elevated tracks instead of its usual route and going express to a station that was unfamiliar to me. I was stuck as I gazed out the window at the new views of the city’s landscapes. It became exciting for me since I was seeing some of the city’s skyscrapers from a new angle and they were magnificent. We finally reached the station where I stepped out onto the platform, only to be surprised by what I saw before me. The station had been remodeled to its original look from the 1920’s. Freshly painted with wide brass signs hung on the wall, the place was a knockout. Here my trip had started out on an ordinary trek and wound up in a different place that shocked me. The same thing happened to me when I went to see this action mystery movie. I had no prior knowledge, did not know it was a remake of a South Korean cult classic or that the story would be so twisted. Josh Brolin (Men in Black 3, Milk) played alcoholic advertising executive, Joe Doucett. After a night of heavy drinking Joe woke up to find himself in a strange motel room. It turned out not to be a motel room but a cell, where he remained for the next 20 years. With no explanation or human contact to explain why he was imprisoned, one day Joe woke up and found himself free in an open field. He would spend every waking minute tracking down the people responsible for his imprisonment and take revenge on them. Directed by Spike Lee (Malcom X, Inside Man), visually the scenes were exciting but not for the faint of heart. There were extremely bloody and violent scenes in this action drama. Josh appeared to have bulked up for the demanding role and he impressed me with his determined darkness. Elizabeth Olsen (Silent House, Liberal Arts) brought her high level of excellent acting skills to her performance as Marie Sebastian, a first responder who was drawn into Joe’s plight. The story took such twisted turns that it was not a shock to see Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained) play the character Chaney. I have to honestly say this bizarre movie left me with mixed feelings. The cast was good but I felt some of the scenes lacked any depth, besides not making much sense to me. I would be very curious to get the original film and see why it has reached a cult status. Since I prefer knowing as little as possible when I go see a movie, I was very much taken aback by this crazy mystery; I just do not know if I enjoyed the ride. There were scenes with blood and violence.

 

2 1/4 stars

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