WITH DIZZYINGLY SPEED, SHE SCROLLED THROUGH her photos on her phone. To me it looked like a blur; I had no idea how she would be able to spot the photo she was seeking. Her thumb looked like it was waving at me from the way she was using it to go through her photographs. I tried to keep up with her and make out the images that sped by on the screen; but, because I guess they were not my photos, I could not decipher the images that were captured for a split second on her phone’s screen. Finally, she found the photo she had been looking for and with a pinch of her fingers she made the image bigger for me. She wanted me to see the details of the object up close. I was chuckling inside, remembering the “old days” when one wanted to see something up close in a photograph, they would have to get a magnifying glass. Speaking of the “old days,” I remember when I used to go to rock concerts, I would have to buy a special high-speed film for my camera if I wanted to take photographs. Nowadays one only needs to take out their smartphone and snap a picture. And I am guessing most of you do not know there was a time when museums prohibited the taking of photographs; try enforcing that now with almost everyone walking around with a camera in their smartphone. I AM NOT DISCOURAGING THE ADVANCEMENTS in photography; but I feel something has gotten lost with the technology we use to take photographs. For me, photographs capture a moment in time; it may be of a person or a place. Going through an old box filled with photos is a way of finding connection to one’s past as they go forward in life. Seeing a relative wearing a different hat in each photo you have of them when they were young might surprise you; since, you have no memory of them even liking hats. Maybe she had designed the hats herself when she was younger; you would never have known if it was not for the photos in your possession. When I see a much younger version of myself and can immediately experience the same feelings I was dealing with in the photo; whether good or bad, I am reconnecting with my former self. That photo is proof of the history I have lived, besides being a reference point to how far I have come in life. Seeing the shiny images of deceased relatives staring out at you, is akin to feeling their support in your current endeavors. A photograph can say a lot about a person; just see what it says in this dramatic romantic film. AN OLD PHOTOGRAPH LEADS JOURNALIST MICHAEL Block, played by LaKeith Stansfield (Sorry to Bother You, Short Term 12), on a journey of self-discovery and love. With Issa Rae (Little, Insecure-TV) as Mae, Chelsea Peretti (Game Night, Brooklyn Nine-Nine-TV) as Sara, Chante Adams (Bad Hair, Monsters and Men) as Christina and Lil Rel Howery (Get Out, Good Boys) as Kyle; this film was beautifully staged. Going between two different time periods, I enjoyed the filming of each period and the connection between the two stories. Issa surprised me in this dramatic role; she had a wonderful authentic screen presence that matched LaKeith. Their chemistry felt real and believable. Though the script got heavy-handed at times with the romantic aspects and predictability; I still enjoyed watching the characters as they matured through the story. Also, it was pleasant to watch a romantic movie that felt organic in its development instead of feeling forced. I would love to see the art of printed photographs make a comeback because of this picture.
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
Labels should be used for products like canned vegetables and stereotyping should be used for elements like the weather. There is no useful purpose using either of these on human beings. Keep in mind I believe in calling things as I see them; in other words, I have no problem referring to someone as ornery (how often do you get to hear this word?), or some other adjective if indeed that is how they are acting. But to label or stereotype someone based on where their ancestors were born, their skin color or their religion is simply wrong. Before my first name was common, when I told someone my name, there were times they would immediately ask me if I practiced a certain religion. I would be perplexed, trying to understand how they made that leap from my name, which by the way is the name of a river, a food item and a sports figure; to a religion. You see they were making an assumption without even knowing me. The same thing could be said whenever we were picking sides for a sports activity in school. Because I used to be larger I was usually one of the last ones picked to be on someone’s team. No one realized including me that I had one of the fastest throwing arms among the players. Literally, it was years before I was even given a ball to throw and then everyone was stunned at my speed and accuracy. All of this due to me not looking what people felt an athletic person should look like, thanks to stereotyping. JUDGEMENTS were multiplying throughout this comedic drama about the students of an Ivy League college. Stereotyping and labeling students based on their skin color was the norm in this satirical story. A film festival winner, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Some of the cast members were Tyler James Williams (Everybody Hates Chris-TV, Unaccompanied Minors) as Lionel Higgins, Tessa Thompson (For Colored Girls, When a Stranger Calls) as Sam White, Kyle Gallner (Jennifer’s Body, A Nightmare on Elm Street) as Kurt Fletcher and Teyonah Parris (How Do You Know, Mad Men-TV) as Colandrea “Coco” Conners. Everyone did a fine job, partly because of the smartly written script. I found conversations to be authentic even when it was obvious the scene was lampooning a stereotype. The director kept the story moving forward at a steady pace. While watching this picture I was curious how true some of the scenes were for the writer/director because the satire was spot on. Though this was a fun film to watch and I had no complaints, there was a little bittersweetness for me at the end, realizing there will be some people who will watch this movie and not get the joke.